Hartshorn Portraiture

McGowan-Blog

In the years since I’ve had kids, I’ve subjected them to many photo sessions (what mom hasn’t?), but our experience with Mac and his crew at Hartshorn Portraiture at their beautiful studio in the trendy Monroe Center in Hoboken was next to none. I had checked out Hartshorn Portraiture’s website before lugging my preschooler and then-five month old to do the photo shoot and expected the pictures to be gorgeous, but the results blew me away. The pictures were quite simply masterpieces.

Up front, I need to point out that this studio is not for everyone – only those who are in the market for high-end photographic artwork and can afford to pay for it. Their range of oil, watercolor and canvas prints can easily run into the thousands of dollars. Hartshorn Portraiture may be as pricy as it gets, but what you get in return is akin to artwork rather than photographs.

The entire experience was easy and fun. We arrived at Hartshorn’s gorgeous, airy studio, and I relaxed and enjoyed coffee while Mac goofed off with my three-year old and snapped her pictures, perfectly capturing her playful energy. During the two hour photo shoot, Mac had my occasionally surly and always very opinionated daughter cracking up (she hates getting photos taken and usually makes goofy faces). The pictures he took of my little guy were just as delicious. It was reassuring to know that if the kids Mac is shooting become cranky during the photo shoot, he sends you home (with no hard feelings) and tells you to come back another day. Low-stress, gorgeous photos. Sign me up.

A couple weeks after the photo session, I met with Jennifer, Mac’s wife, to review the pictures. She played me a lovely slideshow and patiently helped me pick my favorites (they were all so gorgeous, it was hard to choose!). Jennifer’s design talent is tremendous. She encourages her clients to bring in pictures of the space where the pictures will be displayed so that she can help figure out what would look best. She’s as silly and fun as Mac, and her eye for design is unparalleled.

Hartshorn Portraiture specializes in maternity, newborn, and family pictures. The shoot can be scheduled in-house at the studio or on location wherever you please. In fact, Mac spends much of his time during the summer months at the Jersey shore and in the Hamptons for those of you looking for family pictures at the beach. Check them out and tell them twohappymamas sent you!

Disclosure: I received a photo session and portrait in connection with reviewing Hartshorn Portraiture’s services. The opinions stated in this post are mine and mine alone. As you know, we at twohappymamas only recommend products or services we believe are good for our readers. 

Common Sense Media

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If you have kids who have access to technology and media (i.e. if you are a mom living in 2015), Common Sense Media is a must-have resource to keep your kids screen-time safe and educational. The site provides unbiased reviews and ratings for movies, TV shows, games, apps, websites, books and music. Rather than restrict or censor our children’s access to digital media, the site’s goal is to help you harness what’s out there to ensure it is developmentally appropriate and educational for your child’s age and maturity level. This website is a trove of information for parents raising children in the digital age.

You can also download the app on your phone for access to this unbiased crucial information on the go. So mamas, stop feeling guilty that you handed your child an iPad last time you were trying to take a work call from home, and instead use Common Sense Media to ensure that she’s learning a little extra something at the same time.

Chicken with Lemon-Caper Sauce

chicken with lemon-caper sauce

This recipe turned out delicious. The 3 1/2 year old in my house was not the hugest fan of the capers so I didn’t give him any and replaced them with peas. He didn’t know any better and I snuck in a green vegetable. Score one for me!

You will need:

1/2 box spaghetti
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2/3 cup extra-dry vermouth
Juice from two large lemons
3 tablespoons capers

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the box.

While the spaghetti is cooking, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove from skillet. Set aside; keep warm.

Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, vermouth, lemon juice, and capers to skillet, scraping skillet to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 2 minutes).

Place spaghetti on plate with chicken on top. Spoon sauce over chicken and spaghetti. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese

broccoli mac and cheese

Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? Normally mac and cheese recipes take too long for me to pull of on a weeknight, but this recipe is quick, easy and delicious. The leftovers are good too!

8 ounces elbow macaroni
2 heads broccoli (chopped)
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
8 ounces sharp shredded cheddar

1. Cook pasta and add broccoli during the last minute of cooking. Drain.

2. Combine milk, flour, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire and salt, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and swirl until the butter melts. Add milk mixture to pain, bring to a boil. Cook for one minute, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens. Stir in cheese until it melts. Add pasta and broccoli and stir until pasta is coated.

Teaching Children to Budget

piggybank

From the time my daughter was tiny, I used a cute piggy bank she had received as a gift to save small amounts of money for her, from the occasional $20 bill my grandmother would give me to “buy her diapers,” to loose change I needed to unload from my wallet. When my aunt gave my daughter a new piggy bank as a Valentine’s Day present this year, I realized having two “banks” gave us the perfect opportunity to begin teaching my daughter how to budget. Now, whenever she receives small monetary gifts, we split the amount between the two banks. One bank is her savings, which she will continue to add to until she goes to college. (If education costs continue to rise the way they have been, she may have enough to buy an entire textbook by then). The other bank is her spending money. Now, when she begs for a new toy or doll, she can use her savings from that bank towards it. It’s never too early to instill the importance of savings and budgeting. This method is also a great opportunity to practice math skills!

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