How to Learn Photography On a Budget

When our daughter wanted to learn photography, I was excited to see how far technology has come since the early days of my own desire to learn. I never will forget the rolls of film being developed and finding so many blurry photos that I thought were going to be amazing. The amount of money that we would go through just to get my ‘trial and error' photos developed is more than I care to admit. In fact, I still have about 30 rolls of film that I have used, but haven't developed. When that day comes, I know I will have all kinds of emotions with the photos of my children in their early years. Even if the photos turn out blurry!

How to Learn Photography on a Budget - Learning an art doesn't have to cost a lot of money. |

How to Learn Photography on a Budget

When digital photography became a possibility to anyone, I remember looking at my husband who had already blessed me with an amazing DSLR and asking him how long before I could get a digital DSLR.

When we looked at the cost of one, compared to the cost of buying and developing film at the rate I was currently going through it, we realized that it was the smartest thing to do for our budget.

1) Digital Photography Is Already a Budget Saver

At this day and age, digital photography is what every things about when they are thinking about learning photography. So, it really is a no brainer for most people. However, there are some die-hard photographer lovers who just haven't moved on yet.

Digital cameras deliver amazing photography, so if you are still in the era of film, consider moving on.

All of our children have loved to learn photography, even our youngest, who started at just two years old.

Here are some of the recommendations for kids that you may be worried about their responsibility level, but want to encourage creativity with photography:

Here are some recommendations for beginners, who want to learn photography but not ready for a DSLR:

Here are some recommendations for those more serious about photography, and ready to take that jump into an investment with a DSLR (I'm personally a Nikon fan, and so is my daughter, who is a better photographer than I am, by far.):

2) Be Willing to Purchase a Used Camera

If your budget is still too tight to really purchase new, and take advantage of the warranties that come with a new purchase, I would highly recommend looking into purchasing a used camera.

We have found great digital cameras at yard sales, and through Craigslist and eBay. The trick to getting a good deal is to do your homework first on what you are really wanting to get, what functions are important to you and what types of lenses (assuming you are going with a DSLR) would be important to get started.

Window shopping is a great way to do your homework!

Go to a camera shop, and just play with display cameras. When you find what camera is sticking out to you, make note of the brand AND the model. Is it a Nikon or Canon? I'm currently using a Nikon D40, which is about 7 years old or more. My daughter has a Nikon D3000.

We both would LOVE to upgrade our cameras to a newer Nikon camera, like a D5200 or a D7100, but the budget just isn't there for these yet. However, when we are ready to buy our next cameras, our current ones that work great will be sold through these options.

Those looking for a great DSLR starter camera will be really able to fit it into a tight budget.

The key to buying used cameras is knowing what the older models are and what the original price was, and when the model came out.  You may want to keep a notebook for references.

Once you have a camera, you will want to learn how to use the camera. To do this on a budget, you will want to invest in a few things to help you learn.

3) Invest In Reusable Resources for Learning

My daughter, older son and I took camera lessons at a near by location. The class was full of other people of all ages, trying to learn how to use their DSLR camera to the fullest. We found that although we did learn some things in the 6 week course, we didn't walk away with enough to say it was worth the time, and money.

Investing in DVDs that we could watch again and again, with as many people in our family that desired to learn was the right thing for our budget. Here are some of our favorite ones to get started:


If you have a serious photographer in your home, and want to also give your child a credit for photography, take a look at these online courses, where you have lifetime access to with just one payment – I highly recommend these courses from Craftsy:

You may want your homeschool child to learn one of these courses each term, and then fill it with lots of practice of what is being learned, and turn their photography into a keepsake.

Take a look at Shotbox for anyone learning to be a photographer, as it provides great lighting for AMAZING photos!



Would you like to eliminate the challenge of homeschool curriculum choices while finding confidence that you are buying the right curriculum for your family? If so, you can download my free guide that includes secrets to evaluating curriculum that is a perfect fit for your unique family. Just click here to get Curriculum Evaluations The Why, What, & When to Making Curriculum Choices for FREE in your inbox.


Top 5 Kitchen Tools that Save Money

We all love to learn ways to save money, but we prefer to save it without having to do extra work. Since 2000, I have been making a lot of my own food from scratch to help save money on our family budget. These are my top 5 kitchen tools that help save money, while saving me time in my prep.
Top 5 Kitchen Tools That Save Money |

Here are my top 5 kitchen tools that save money:

  1. The Wonder Mill – I love my mill for nutritious whole grain or bean flour to use in all my recipes. In literally just seconds, I can have a cup or more of freshly milled flour to make pancakes, waffles, muffins, bread, cookies, cakes and more.  All for just a fraction of the cost for mixes in the store.
  2. Magic Mill DLX Mixer – The Electrolux Assistent – I absolutely love my mixer!  Many woman know the joy of a KitchenAid , but when you use the amount of whole grains as I do, you need something with more horsepower, so you don't burn the engine out quickly. That is why I absolutely love my mixer. It is truly my kitchen assistant.
  3. Food Processor – I use my food processor for everything from shredding cheeses to shredding or slicing vegetables.  I can easily shred several pounds of cheese, saving money on a bulk chunk, within a few minutes.  We often freeze the shredded cheese to use in casseroles or soups.  I also love making my own salsa!
  4. Rice Cooker – My rice cooker is one of the easiest ways to get a healthy meal prepared and in the morning, as well as a way to save money by using ingredients to make my own meals. You can make a whole lot more in a rice cooker, than just rice!  I literally make a full meal, with meat, beans, vegetables and rice in one pot and under 5 minutes to put it all together.
  5. Ninja Blender – One of our favorite things in the summer is freshly made smoothies!  The Ninja makes it so much easier to make and so healthy, all while a great way to save money.


When Finances Are Scarce

At one point or another, every household struggles with balancing a budget when finances are scarce. Pinching corners may seem impossible, since you have already done this so many times and still struggle to make ends meet. I hope to share some tips and encouragement that will empower you to shine during this hard time.

When Finances Are Scarce - Tight times are difficult, but finding ways to make it easier can make even the hardest budget better. |

When Finances are Scarce

Most homes have felt the strains that finances can bring, especially to a marriage. Pinching pennies, going without and even cutoff notices are depressing and overwhelming when you are doing all you can do to make your resources be enough for your needs.

We have been there several times in our own home and I have learned a lot during those difficult times. A few of these learning moments, were more about my own spending habits, beliefs that my ‘needs' were actually want's and that convenience wasn't necessary.

Learning these habits were not something that I wanted at the time and really took time for me to see, but looking back, I'm happy that our journey included some rough patches financially because it really taught us how to prioritize and work together as a couple on budgeting (although at times, we still don't see eye to eye… that is the real that I promised!) and our financial goals for our family.

I want to share some tips that I have implemented to help during the times when finances are scarce or when we are working toward a goal of paying down debt or saving for a high ticketed item, so you are empowered with the resources you have available to you.

Empowering Womanhood Series - Real, Meaningful, Life-changing |

Women need a break in the kitchen.

Let's face it, going out to eat is all about getting mom out of the kitchen or for the convenience of not having to go home and wait for a meal to be ready. However, when our family goes out to eat, it is easy to spend $75 for our family of 6 (and we only drink water!).

Of course, we live in the country, so having a delivery isn't possible. This makes the idea of pizza not so attractive because it requires someone to go get it and these days, it is still $25 or more to feed our family the pizza we prefer from a restaurant.

Our budget friendly solution to this real need is to buy frozen pizza and have the kids make cook it. Our taste are so different with frozen pizza, so my husband and I get one that we like and our children choose two they like. Now, I can have a break and we can eat for about $18 or less for a convenient meal.

A few other convenient meals that we take advantage of to replace eating out are:

  • bagel and eggs for breakfast
  • toasted cheese with canned soup
  • hot dogs and mac & cheese

Family dates are important and necessary but hard on the budget.

We love to go to local parks that are free and play ball, walk, ride bikes or play at the park.

We also love renting a movie from a Redbox and calling it family movie night. We splurge on a dessert and hunker down in the family room, which beats the price at the theaters and the comfort as well. Oh, and don't get me started on being able to control the remote for scenes that we prefer not to watch or for bathroom breaks.

We love to do memberships to some of the places the children love because for the most part, they pay for themselves after two visits. Talk about a budget saving idea! We do this for birthday gifts, Mother or Father Day gifts, since gifts are already expected and they can be enjoyed for the whole year.

Save money on the wants that feel like ‘needs'.

Today electronics are everywhere and they really take a toll on our finances. If you go without them, you can really feel like you are missing out and depending on your family, you could be.

If everyone in your house has a cell phone, shut off the house phone can save you a lot of money each month.

If you have unlimited data, you may want to watch your favorite shows on the internet or through your Prime membership from Amazon (they even have movies included) or another provider and cancel your television service.

Save money on groceries can seem daunting.

This is where many people feel overwhelmed because you need to feed your family. In times when we were having financial problems, I would use beans and rice as fillers in our foods, like soups, salads or tacos. They were cheap and healthy, plus the perfect addition to making many of my recipes stretch further.

I saved a lot on meats doing the beans and rice as fillers and by adding the right seasonings, my family didn't mind it.

Coupons are obvious to everyone, right? Of course, some stores have great sales without the coupons. I always shopped the sales and then made my meals around the sales items, instead of going with a menu plan and buying what I needed. This has always been a great way to save money in the necessities of life.

Make home an amazing place to be so your family will be happy to spend time there.

The meaningful part of the times when finances were scarce was finding things that made us happy at home. Board games are the perfect way to fill an evening at home and save money on fuel and things that aren't necessary for your life at this time.

Making sure our children has things to fill their days with fun was important to us because we wanted them to feel happy even when spending most of their week at our home. We never put them in sports, but made sure they had sports equipment to do at home or at a nearby park with us. The memories we made doing this was priceless. The reward is that as our older children are in their early adult years, they love spending their free time with us.




A Family Guide to Richmond Virginia

Have you ever wanted to visit the history filled Richmond, Virginia area? Both the Revolutionary and Civil wars have marks on Richmond and the surrounding area, making it a great place to learn from hands-on field trips or to just take in the beautiful parks and nature that is found all around this beautiful city.

A Family Guide to Richmond Virginia - The beautiful, history filled city of Richmond has so many opportunities for adventure. |

A Family Guide to Richmond, Virginia

Whether you are a visitor or new to our area, you will find a lot of things to do for free in the Richmond, Virginia area and some things completely worth paying to do.


Outdoor Fun



Things worth the drive…

President's Homes

Amazement Parks

Looking for a great place to stay while in Williamsburg, Virginia?  Take advantage of a special from Westgate Resorts with Reference Number #9018954900.



10 Must Buy Food Staples

Buying groceries seem like a never ending cycle in our home, especially with 3 boys, two of them in their teens. I love when I can make my grocery list easier and budget friendly at the same time. This is where my must buy food staples always come into play when we do our meal planning.

10 Must Buy Food Staples - Save on your grocery budget and in meal planning with these 10 items . |

10 Must Buy Food Staples

These are the items that always make my grocery list. ALWAYS. Of course, I prefer to buy them bulk because we use them all the time and it does help me save money, and keep our meals healthier.

  1. Broth – We use mostly chicken broth, but beef and vegetable are great options as well. You can do any kind that you prefer but at the moment, we are buying them in boxes. I use this to make my rice and homemade soups.
  2. Tomato Sauce – We go through so much of this that I think we should garden just tomatoes. I use tomato sauce in my soups, chili, rice and more.
  3. Diced Tomato – Although my husband once despised seeing diced tomatoes in anything warm, this is now something that we eat in almost everything. We love mexican food, so this is a great addition to many of our dishes.
  4. Frozen Vegetables – I do use some canned vegetables, but if I'm making a dish with seasoning in it, I will pull out the frozen vegetables because they are cheaper and healthier than the canned ones. We love to buy them in bulk for the extra savings.
  5. Pasta – Many times, I can make a soup and have some left over that when I add pasta to it I can feed my family one more meal from it, instead of just a few of us. My family loves the variation to some of our soups when they get to enjoy it the second time with different pastas, since I use what I have on hand.
  6. Rice – This is a great way to add some grains to your diet and if you love your rice cooker like I love mine, you have already realized that the first four items on this list can be thrown together with some rice (and beans or meat) and make a full meal in just 5 minutes in the morning and is ready for you at dinner. You can make just regular rice and add it to left over soup as well or make a casserole with leftovers as well.
  7. Eggs – Our family buys a lot of eggs. We use them in baking and for meals. I can't go to the store for groceries without buying them. Our children love just having hard boil eggs to eat for a snack!
  8. Beans – I try to have large batches of baked beans made and put in freezer bags for meal portions to save money, however there are times that canned beans are a necessary, so I try to keep them on hand for those days I forget to get them out of the freezer and thawed in time for a recipe.
  9. Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a staple for our family. My family loves it raw for breakfast (but not me), in bars and in desserts. We couldn't imagine not having this to grab!
  10. Potatoes – Potatoes are a great staple meal. They can be used in soups, as a side dish or just baked for a meal of its own. Left overs are perfect with eggs or in casseroles, so I always make more than just for the meal.

If you enjoyed this post,  you may like…

10 Items I Always Buy in Bulk @Titus2Teacher

10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You

Marriage becomes a place where love often times feels taken for granted, and comfortable. However it is the most important place to demonstrate love on a continual basis. If you aren’t one to plan things out well, these last minutes ways to say I love you will help you make a focus of demonstrating your love in your marriage.


10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You |

10 Last Minute Ways to Say I Love You

Love is something to celebrate everyday, however there are some days that seem to get more attention for reasons to celebrate those you love. Some people are planners and romantics, having no issues with showing their love all day long any day. However, some people seem to be procrastinators in the game of love and need some help in some last minute ways to say ‘I love you'.

Make a Nice Dinner with Candles on the Table

Dinner is always a part of a couples day, but you can make a regular dinner into a reflection of your love by dressing up the table to be a more romantic dinner with just a few candles, a table cloth and maybe a few extra touches. If nothing else, just lower the lights and light the candles.

Pick Up a Bouquet of Flowers

Bouquets of flowers are everywhere! There is no excuse to coming home empty handed. Flowers will make a perfect addition to a candle light dinner and setting the mood of a night of demonstrating love for one another.

Create a Homemade Card

Grab some scissors and colored card stock to create you on card with your own words will be a great way to say “I love you” with only a few minutes to making the card. Okay, you may not be a crafty person but there are stores for ‘your kind‘.

Send a Text with a Something Sweet that You Love About This Person

Texting should be all about details and grocery list. Take your love ones breathe away with a sweet text about something you love about them and why you love having them in your life. Just be sure you don't text the wrong person, because that could get awkward really fast.

Write a Hand-written Letter

A hand-written letter is almost extinct so it would be cherished by the person receiving it and a perfect balance between making your own card or buying one.

Play Soft Music and Just Talk

Another lost art is a face to face talk, without distractions of other electronics pulling your attention away. Sitting on the couch, with soft music in the background while conversing in a conversation can be as romantic as anything else you can come up with. Just don't do all the talking, but a two way conversation says “I love you”, but a one way conversations says, “I love me”.

Start a Fire and Look at Old Photos

Everything about a fire screams romance, right? Add a trip down memory lane with photos of times that are important highlights and sharing memories about those times will have love all around you.

Go for a Ride or Walk While Holding Hands

If you or your spouse is a nature lover, taking a country ride or walking in a beautiful area while holding hands. This one is a timeless romantic scene that all couples can relate, too.

Watch a Movie with Popcorn Together

Some people go to the movie theatre but some of my favorite home dates with my hubby is when we rent a movie, cuddle on the couch and share a bowl of popcorn. This is something I love to do anytime I can.

Put a Getaway on the Calendar

So let's just say that you show up empty handed on a day that your spouse expects something that says you love them. What do you do then?  My best suggestion is pick a date on the calendar, really quick and mark it off on your calendar. Next, hug and kiss your spouse, and while still in their arms, whisper this in their ear – “Where can I take you …. (the date you reserved on your calendar)? It has to have …. (list a few of their favorite things).” Then, if you want extra points for the idea only, then say, “I will arrange the child and pet care, so it is just our little getaway.”

If this is your last minute way to say “I love you”, be sure to make it all happen on the date you stated and if you went further to say you will arrange for the kids and pets, you will reap the benefits!

If you like this, you may like this Love Scavenger Hunt


Love Scavenger Hunt