Happy Holidays!!

posted on: December 23, 2008

Please cherish your family and friends. Don't let another minute pass without telling them that you love and appreciate their presence, because you never know when it will be too late. Forgive like there will be no tomorrow. Give like you have more than you could ever need. Thank each other for all of the little things that make life worth living. Spread smiles to everyone you pass. Be gracious when others have turned their backs. Trust as if you've never been wronged. Have faith that it is all for the best. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Peace & Joy


LOVE IT: Sarah Haskins

posted on: December 21, 2008

I can't remember the last time I picked up a newspaper on Sunday - but I have to admit that the Sunday funnies were always the first section I went to! So, here's a different set of Sunday funnies for you to enjoy. ;-)

This find was spawned by a typical example of how social media works: my husband tells me I have to watch these videos, which he found on mergeweddings twitter feed, who tweeted about finding them on the Offbeat Bride Blog. In case you didn't know, my husband is often my connection to the outside world, while I have my head buried in whatever I need to be doing at that very minute. He tweets about some interesting things, so feel free to follow him on twitter if you're into completely random things.

Even though these are wedding-related, you should definitely check out the other videos she's made, since they are all hilarious!!! Ahhh.... I love this woman. ;-)

An Olive Branch of Happy Pretty Pictures

posted on: December 16, 2008

I know I have some blog fans out there who are wondering if I shot any weddings this year or not?! YES!! I just haven't had time to blog them all!! I put a lot of work into my wedding blog posts, and I'd rather take the time to make it amazing than just put up something just for the sake of speed. It takes me pretty much an entire day to create a blog post for a wedding, yet writing a post about my favorite things or tips for brides is usually takes me less than an hour. So- to save time while taking care of holiday orders and trying to get everyone online before year's end, hopefully you can see why I've been blogging about everything other than my weddings lately!!

This has been a VERY busy and very EXCITING year!! I'll be sharing more about what happened this year in my year end recap- the good and the bad just as I've done in the past, but for now, I know some people just want to see pretty pictures, so here are just a few of the gorgeous brides I've worked with this year!! (If you're on Facebook, you've probably seen these already. ;-)) There were soo many!! Most of these are posed images that I happen to have easy access to right now while several of my hard drives are backing up before I leave for the holidays... which I still need to pack for!! EEK!! The juicy wedding details and moments will come later on. ;-) For now, I offer you some pretty posed pictures (and just a few great moments)!

From Shanon & Kayu's Wedding in Ann Arbor, MI:








From Jennifer & Justin's Wedding in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

Jennifer & Justin's Winnipeg Wedding

From Emily & Aaron's Wedding in Indianapolis, IN:












From Kat & Dave's Wedding in Joliet, IL:

Kat & Dave

St. Joseph's Parish Wedding, Joliet, IL

Here Comes the Bride Sign

Catholic Wedding Ceremony Blessing

Emotional Wedding Ceremony

Kat Getting Ready

Kat & Dave

Bride & Groom in Mercedes Converitble

Rialto Theatre Wedding

Rialto Theatre Wedding, Joliet, IL

Rialto Theatre Wedding

Rialto Theatre Wedding

From Mary & Jarod's Wedding in Detroit, MI:

Veiled Bride in Chaldean Orthodox Catholic Church

Bride & Groom Reception Grand Entrance Decor

Mary & Jarod Chaldean Cultural Dance

First Wedding Dance, Elegant Reception Decor w/ lush flowers

Elegant Bride & Groom Cake & Champagne

Chaldean Father & Daughter Dance

Mary & Jarod First Dance

So, if you look at the locations of all those weddings, you'll notice that they are in completely different places around the country and OUT of the country - and there were even more locations I went to this year, which has kept me very, very, very busy. More about that later. For now I hope you can just appreciate that I really am a working photographer who is just trying to make her clients happy behind the scenes, which might mean making posting everything to the blog a lower priority for now- I promise I'll make up for it after I've been able to get my clients taken care of!! HUGS & HOT COCOA!!

LOVE IT: Favorite Holiday Gifts for 2008

posted on: December 15, 2008

First, I'd like to preface this by saying: you've seen the need I've shared on my blog over the last week and the need is very real within many communities around the United States. If the person you're planning to give to already "has everything", try giving a donation to your local shelter or food bank in their name instead- they'll love you even more for your generosity and kind spirit. However, if you're still in need of some gift ideas for those hard-to-shop for people on your list, here are some of my favorites for this holiday season:

The Need to Get Out and Explore New Things Gift
My husband and I love getting out and trying new things. We often refer to Yelp.com to discover different restaurants and entertainment options in our area or in a completely new area we've never been before. However, when you don't have the time or luxury of planning ahead (which we often don't), it's great to have a GPS to help you find local restaurants and places of interest while you're on the go!

I did a lot of research this year on what I was looking for in a GPS unit and I found the perfect one for me, so it may be the perfect one for you too!! What was most important to me was that it would speak street names before the turns and that I could use it as a blue-tooth hands-free device in the car. Being easy to update the current maps and using it internationally was pretty important as well. An added bonus is that it runs off of a battery so that I could use it to navigate when I'm walking somewhere or to go Geocaching with. The one I decided on was the Garmin Nuvi 760 GPS.
Garmin Nuvi 760 GPS

The Too Busy To Get Out Much Gift
I'm notorious for checking movies and books out from the library and umm... let's just say they don't always get returned on time. The thing that I love the most about Netflix is that it's great for people like me who can't always return things on someone else's deadline because I'm often out of town or just consumed with what I have to do next for my clients. It's also great for college students who live on campus and for families who have a hard time getting away from home with the kids in tow. I like that it makes use of the US Postal Service over another shipping method that might require a special trip to your home. Since this is a subscription based service, you can even pay toward an additional year for someone who might already have a year paid for (for the record, I still haven't signed up with Netflix yet, but I'm definitely interested now more than ever with the winter cold rolling in!) This also makes a great last minute gift since you can pretty much purchase it the morning you're giving it!!

The Design Your Own Fashionable Gift
1154 Lill is one of my absolute favorite concept stores ever. Essentially it's a custom bag company that allows clients to create a totally unique design from a large selection of high quality fabrics and various bag designs. This is a great option for the fashionable person in your life who loves style and dreams of being a Project Runway designer or who just craves something totally unique that no one else has!! This is good for both men & women as there are bag designs and fabric that could work well no matter what your style preference. There are store locations in Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Kanas City, as well as home parties and a very easy to use online store. My first bag was created at the Kansas City store last Christmas, and I decided on the Erika bag to hold my laptop, journals, and hard drives while I've been traveling for weddings every weekend. I'm actually surprised how well the bag has held up over everything that I've put it through this year- so it's definitely made well! The best thing about this is that the person you're giving it to gets to design their own - so no worries about them not liking it!! Check out the website and start designing your own bag!

The Videogamer's New Year Resolution Gift
I've never been a big gamer, but I've always loved interactive video games like the old school Nintendo Track & Field with the running pad, the racing games in arcades where you feel like you're actually in a car, and things like Dance, Dance Revolution as well as Guitar Hero where you more physically involved in the game. As the winter months set in and we feel less inclined to go outside in the cold to exercise, I recommend the Wii Fit, which is one of the ultimate interactive video experiences. From what friends have told me who own this system, there's even a little character who encourages you to keep coming back and working out more... and I think we can all agree that a little encouragement never hurt anyone when it comes to exercising more! This item is difficult to find on store shelves, so if you happen to see one, definitely get it while you can!

The Too Hip for School Urban Lifestyle Gift
When Urban Outfitter's Holiday Gift Giving Guide graced my email inbox, I thought, "Finally - a company that GETS IT!" If you have a super hip person in your life and you consider yourself to perhaps not be the coolest person in the room at all times, than this will totally earn you more cool points!! Just pick a category that represents the person you're giving to and find something you think they'd like!! I checked out the categories that I identified with: The Tree Hugger, The Traveler, The Audiophile, and The Starving Artist, and I found the selection of gifts to be spot on!! Thanks UO!

The Sweet Friend Thank You Gift
For the cute, adorable, loveable kind person in your life who has taken care of your kids, done small favors for you, taken your dog out when you weren't home, or just calls you to make sure everything is going well, I recommend a Bunny Butt Apothecary Gift Set. I tried their products for the first time recently at the Boston Bazarre Bizarre, and I have to tell you the quality of the products and ingredients is absolutely outstanding and at an amazing price. You can't really go wrong with any of the various scents because they all smell good and more importantly they FEEL good going on the skin. Loooove it!

The I Need Something Thoughtful Right Now Gift
I'm a fan of gift cards and gift credits. We can't expect to know exactly what everyone wants or needs, and who doesn't like the joy of spending someone else's money instead of their own? Woo Hoo!! Here are some gift cards that will usually go over well regardless of the person:

  • SpaFinder.com Gift Certificate - especially wonderful for overworked moms, business owners, or people who travel a lot and carry their stress around with them. The Spa finder allows them to find a spa local to them that accepts the SpaFinder Gift Card and select their own set of services from massages to pedicures. Check out the spas local to your recipient and see what the prices of services are- which will help you make an informed decision about your donation.

  • Ticketmaster.com Gift Card - why didn't I think of this before?!?! Just about every major concert and sports event runs ticketing through Ticketmaster, so giving a Ticketmaster Gift Card is like giving your friend or family member and experience that they've probably been wanting for a long time but never got around to purchasing or saving up for!! I'm all about having choices and giving people experiences, and this is as good as it gets!!

  • Movie Gift Certificates - Start by finding your recipients local movie theatre by googling "movies: [zipcode]" (obviously you would enter their zip code). Check out the nearest theater's website and see how they do gift cards. Make sure to include enough for two people and a trip to the concession stand.

  • Mall Gift Certificates - event though I don't visit the mall much anymore (I prefer experiences over things), if I had a mall gift certificate, I would be thrilled because it doesn't limit me to just one store - it gives me the ENTIRE mall of stores to shop from! For those who are really indecisive about what to give, this gives the recipient all the choices they'd like! It also protects you in the event that one store closes after the holidays, as has been rumored by many news reports. So protect your gift card investment by giving the entire mall to choose from. Check out the mall website to see if you can purchase Gift Certificates online or if no information is found, call the mall and ask them if you can pay over the phone and have it mailed.

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