Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Make-Up Inspiration

I'm a bit late to the holiday blog posting. Some of you may be wondering why I've missed my Tuesday blogging. Most of you didn't even know I usually blog on Tuesdays, seeing as how I am far from a consistent blogger. ;) This Christmas has kept me pretty busy with various outings, giving me a little bit of - albeit late - Christmas post inspiration.
Whatever style of pre-Christmas activities you may prefer, there are usually at least a few gatherings that encourage a bit of dressing up for the holiday fun. Between parties, performances, social gatherings, present shopping, and Christmas day being on Sunday, there are a myriad of opportunities to brighten up your basic make-up routine.  Here are a few of my favorite Christmas Inspired make-up pieces this year.

* First, I am so in love with eyeliner. I think it is my favorite make-up piece, as you put a little of that on and it manages to brighten up your eyes and draw the focus away from flyaway hair and dark circles. Getting a soft liner gives you the precision, while keeping you from pressing too hard on your eyes. A good eyeliner gives a lovely definition to your face, pulling the focus where you want it.

* Second, a shimmering gold eyeshadow gives and extra sparkle for a special occasion.  I don't wear eyeshadow very much, both due to lack of time and talent, but a nice gold shade is easy enough to put on and compliments most Christmas outfits. This time of year, a little extra shine is just so nice.

* Finally, we come to my friend and nemesis the red lipstick. Festive and vintage, bold and classic, this look is one of my favorites - especially during the holidays! Of course, I'm still learning the application process, but between all of the lip-liners, sticks, glosses, and stains, there is surely a way to keep this on all through a party. I'm still struggling a little bit with the exact products to use (if you know how to make this work, let me know! <3 ) but nonetheless, I so definitely love this look. It makes a statement while remaining classy, and the red gives off such a lovely Christmas vibe. 

And there you have it! My simple, basic, but effective Christmas make-up inspiration pieces. I have a lot more to learn about make-up, but I'm hoping to try some new products soon.  Maybe we'll see more of that around the blog in the coming New Year! 

Do you have any make-up tips specifically for the holidays? Any favorite looks this time of year?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Packing for the Holidays (+ Free List!)

Who else has been excited by the return of fall?! In our parts we have had some beautiful weather, just this week turning into a full November atmosphere. It's time to bring out the cozy sweaters and fuzzy blankets and extra boxes of tea. It also means Thanksgiving is just days away! Every year, we travel to my grandparents house for Thanksgiving week - and with all of the thick and warm fall clothes or excessive layering, it can be a trick in and of itself to remember everything that is needed when traveling.  This year I got an extra few days off work and I'll be here eight days - that is  a lot of sweaters to pack! So I typed up a packing list (while at work, because I didn't have time to pack until the night before and was sure I would forget something) and I thought I would share it with you all! I don't know if any of you travel over the holiday, but it is one of my absolute favorite times of the year.  In any case, you can see this seasonal packing list below, or click here to download it for yourself!

Who do you spent Thanksgiving with? 
Are there any travel essentials you have that I missed?
Does anyone else find it harder to pack for fall and winter than for summer?!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

22 - Miserable and Magical

It's happened.  I've finally started to feel older.  Has it really been a year since my last birthday? was a real thought that occurred a few weeks ago when I turned 22.  Right alongside it is the slightly panicked mental commentary screaming "What are you doing with your life?" 

What have I done? Who have I helped? What adventures have I had? How will I make a difference? Will I be remembered? Is there any part of me not being used to bring glory to God?

Now, with all of these thoughts taking up more than their fair share of demanding space in my head, I want to share Twenty-Two life lessons I learned by the time I turned Twenty-Two.  Many of these are reminders to myself of things I need to work on -  I may have acquired the head knowledge, but the actual practice thereof requires, well, practice.

1. Put God First - Life is not about us.  We were not given life to live it selfishly.  If your relationship with God is right, your relationship with everyone else will be right.  If God is not what you are living for, the rest of these are almost pointless.

2. Keep a Balance - I'm putting this one so close to the beginning, because it encompasses so much of life! At the very beginning, God gave darkness and light, water and land, work and rest. Too much or too little of one thing can wear us down.  We were designed with intelligence and purpose to live a balanced lifestyle, with the exception that all of our heart should be devoted to Jesus.

3. Cherish Family - We're young, and many of us are still blessed to have our families with us! Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, many people we won't have with us forever.  Cherish the time you get to spend together now.

4. Choose Friendships Wisely - I'm not here to say you should only choose perfect friends, or we would all live lonely lives.  But there are some people who fill your mind with the world, encourage your sin, or simply bring you down.  Be careful how much time is spent with these people, for it will affect you.

5. Forgive - While we're on the topic of relationships, don't forget that people make mistakes, and bad choices, and hurt you.  But it is not our job to punish them.  God is just and He will take care of that.  We are called to forgiveness.  We are not above sin.  Nor are we above forgiving ourselves.  Once repentance has taken place between us and God, he doesn't want us to stop living because we are not worthy to serve Him.  No one is, but He chose us anyway, which is the beauty of Grace.

6. Love Yourself Too - Don't take this to mean I think we should be selfish or vain or thoughtless.  Just remember that God has you here for a reason.  If He was done with your earthly life, He wouldn't leave you here.  You are made in His image for His glory exactly how He wanted.

7. Find Some Projects and Hobbies - You have interests and passions and pursuits.  Look into them! Do it now, while there is time to pursue them.  You never know what God will use as a ministry. And even if nothing seems to come of it, does it make you happy? Because that is something.

8. Have Courage - Adulthood can be scary! Sometimes it is nerve wracking to do even simple tasks that, before, you never had to do. Or at least you didn't have to do them on your own. Sometimes life gets hard, and it requires bravery just to get out of bed and face the day.

9. Be Kind - You might not always feel like it, but honestly, that doesn't give us an excuse.  It just means we have to work harder.  Using the simple but so often forgotten "Thank you" can make a world of difference.  Be helpful, compassionate, and thoughtful of others. This one is so important to me.  A show of kindness in a person is absolutely beautiful.

10. Smile Often - A smile can make a world of difference.  It can save a bad hair day, get you discounts and to the front of the line, make you feel more confident, and encourage friendships.

11. Pick Your Battles - Being a nanny for over four years has taught me this. You will wear yourself out striving for perfection in the material, and sometimes we need to lighten up a little! Life will go on if things are always done exactly how we want.  Sometimes other people have different ideas than us, and there are times when we don't need to insert our opinion.

12. Take The Adventure - We are surrounded by a beautiful world.  There is so much to see and do and learn.  If you have an opportunity, take it! Who knows what the future holds, and when or if you will get another chance.

13. Find Your Style - Who are you? What do your clothes say about you? Like it or not, people make first impressions, and what you wear will tip them off to who you are.  People obsess over stereotypes and judgement, but the truth is, we dress the way we do for a reason. How do you want to be seen? Dress for the person you want to be.

14. Be Aware of Foods - Different foods affect different people different ways.  What we eat can make a huge difference both in how we look and how we feel.  Pay attention to what you eat and how you feel; it may be worth it to cut out a few foods for your overall health.

15. Spend (and save) Wisely - Most of us simply don't have an endless supply of cash.  And now we are faced with more expenses than before.  We'll come to the point when we have to decide if we really need that next item on our wish list. But here's the thing; life is short.  If you have the money to do what is required of you, and keep some back in savings, then who's to say you shouldn't have another pair of shoes, trip to the bookstore, or whatever makes you happy.  Decide what you want - would you rather save the money something bigger, or are you content with the progress of your savings enough to splurge on the smaller item? One last thing: remember the things that will be connected to memories are worth spending more on, because we all want to look back on our life and remember the trips and vacations and dances and holidays, not how many Starbucks lattes we had in the year 2016.

16. Learn to Say NO - This goes two ways.  Firstly, there will be people and things that tempt you in the wrong direction. Whatever this may be, we have to learn to say no now, or it will only get harder in the future.  Secondly, I cannot do everything on my own. I love to help people, but sometimes it simply isn't for me to do.  We need to evaluate our time with God and listen carefully for his guidance in how to direct our schedule. Sometimes this means saying no, even to good things.

17. Be Gracious Enough to Say Yes - The above mentioned "no" doesn't give us the excuse to stop giving of ourselves.  Sometimes we are tired or busy or run down, and someone needs us.  Saying we need to take care of ourselves too shouldn't be the escape from doing what we simply don't feel like doing.  We aren't called to only help when it is easy or convenient.  Sometimes, we give up to easy, and too soon, when God has more work He wants us to do.

18. Don't Stop Learning - However you want to, keep learning! Read books, take a class on something, try a Pinterest tutorial, visit someplace new, go to a museum or theatre. Just don't stop because you've graduated.

19. Make Informed Decisions - Reading news headlines through your e-mail doesn't make you informed. There are unfortunately many deceptions out there, and we need to know what we are reading, watching, or listening to is accurate.  We need to make an effort not to simply shout our opinions at the world when we don't know what we are talking about, thereby simply shouting someone else's opinion.

20. Laugh at Yourself - There is no point getting worked up over little mistakes.  We worry so much over what people think about us.  I have had so much more relief in what I say, do and wear, when I'm not worried about criticism of other people.  If whatever I am saying, doing or wearing fits in with God's standards for my life, then I really don't have to worry about what other people think of me.

21. Don't Rush through this Stage of Life - I was the kid who couldn't wait to be a year older.  Now, I want to enjoy everything I can before I find myself unable to do so.  In spite of this, I still find myself looking for the next best thing. Marriage, children, a house, general success, to be noticed.  If I'm not careful, I will miss this too.  I don't want to spend my twenties looking for the things that will come whenever and ifever God chooses.

22. Have Fun - Sure, life is busy, but if we don't choose to take time for fun now, what makes you think life will magically get less busy on its own? Jesus came so we could have Life, and to have it ABUNDANTLY.  So live.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Enchanting Rose Teacup Exchange (2016)

Last fall I participated in a teacup exchange, and I loved it so much I joined again this year! It's hosted by Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose and she is so kind and thoughtful in the way she runs everything.  There are many participants, but she still manages to match us up with other ladies who often share similarities to us in age or interests, which makes finding out who sent your package that much more exciting (as well as finding out who you are sending to!)

This year I received a package from Ashleigh, and I was so excited and blessed by her generosity.  As soon as I opened the package I could smell the beautiful rose soap.  All of the wrapping paper and cards were scented so lovely.  As you can see, the teacup is gorgeous and just as vintage and classy as I love, and look at that detailed blue rose design!  She sent some of my favorite fruit teas and wonderful chocolate treats (that I must admit are gone by now...) Also papers and stickers and a lovely book for baking, complete with recipes specifically for tea parties and full color pictures.

Ashleigh also creates things, and sent a variety of handmade gifts made specifically for me. The stunning dress bookmark is already in use, and you must look at the bunny pin! SO adorable! It's my favorite shade of blue, complete with pearls and fluffy tail.
Thank you so much Ashleigh for everything, I loved it all so much. I can't wait to keep in touch! (Your official thank-you note will be in the mail shortly :) )

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What's In My Bag | Camera Edition

I don't know about you, but I am constantly rearranging and replacing my camera bag.  Every trip, session, birthday party, or wedding, and I've dumped another purse and tried to fit everything I need for the event in the bag that fits both my "necessary" items and my mood.  Throughout this constant packing and unpacking of clutter, I've found different events can require different gear - and different bags.  In this post I'm covering the essentials in my bag for any basic photoshoot!

Basic Needs
  • Camera!  - kind of obvious, but a good place to start. For me, camera means my beautiful blue Pentax K30.  This is the best camera I've ever worked with, and I'll be following this with another Pentax (very possibly in the K line) when it is time to replace or add to my gear. [note: it's a good idea to have an extra camera body to bring with you on a photoshoot, but that just hasn't been in my budget yet - however, I almost always bring along a second shooter in my mom or sister and with that comes a backup camera.]

  • Portrait Lens - my personal favorite (and on the camera being used to take this picture) is a 50mm that stops down to 1.8.  For group shots, however, it can be more convenient to use the 35mm  prime lens (pictured.) 
  • Extra Battery - (or two.) Make sure they are charged.
  • Extra Memory Card - I usually shoot with a 16 gb with several hundred pictures free on it, and keep an 8 gb in my bag for emergencies.  If I'm taking quick picture for a close friend, or for some other reason do not have a second shooter, I borrow my mom's memory card for extra security - just in case the inevitable disaster were to happen.

Lighting Needs
  • External Flash - even though natural light photography is my favorite and my forte, I carry a flash.  Sometimes you need that extra fill, and sometimes even at a park there will be some place inside you'll find yourself shooting, and you don't want to be stuck with poor light.
  • Wireless Hot Shoe Flash Trigger - for off camera flash.  One of the devices connects to the flash, the other to the camera's hot shoe. This way, you can have the camera off to the side for a filler light that isn't too harsh.
  • Tripod Adapter - in case you bring a tripod (which wouldn't fit in my bag) this adapter allows you to side the flash on the top of the tripod so you don't have to hold the flash off camera, or have someone else hold it.
  • Battery Charger - for the rechargeable batteries inside my flash
  • Extra Batteries - in case the rechargeables fail

Specific Needs
  • Telephoto Lens - this isn't something you will always use; most portraits are taken closer to the subject.  Still, familiarizing yourself with the locations you shoot at should be able to tell you if this could be needed for any creative shots.
  • Polarizing Filter - usually not necessary, but it minimizes reflections on glass. It's small and easy to leave in the bag.
  • Lens Reversing Ring - turns your lens backwards on your camera body. You have to be careful, but it can turn your lens into a basic macro.  Good to have for details (e.g. engagement rings)


  • Log Book/Reference Guide - I received this with my NYIP schooling, its a book with quick reference guides to shutter speeds and apertures, a just in case sort of book. It also has a place in the back to record all of your gear in case your camera bag is lost. If your name, address, phone number, and gear list is inside, there is a greater chance of it being returned to you.
  • Pez Dispensers - With a big of filing from thin sandpaper, the bottoms of Pez Dispensers slide right into the camera's hot shoe.  This is perfect for young toddlers who struggle with looking at the camera. If parent allow, you can give Pez candy from them.  Then you really have their attention.

It all slides nicely into my Cheeky Lime camera bag - the empty spaces are for my camera (being used to take the photos), battery charger, and purse essentials (not pictured.) Speaking of...

Purse Needs

  • Wallet, Keys, Phone, Chapstick, Hairband, Pen, and anything else essential to you personally

For the Car

These are the things that you should have with you, but you don't necessarily need to carry around with you during the shoot.  Most of the time these won't be needed until it is over.

  • File Folder - It's nice to keep a portfolio of your photos with you in print form. This gives your client a visual of how their pictures will look in print, shows the different sizes and formats, and may even encourage them to purchase them from you.
  • Model Release Form - this is legal permission to put the pictures on your blog, business card, or part of your public portfolio. 
  • Water Bottle - I always regret not having one.

Optional (for a second bag)


I'd be interested to know; what do you carry in your bag? Do you think I missed anything essential?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Striving for Something

"You know there's a purpose for your life.  You long to live a life of true significance, and as you consider your life, you feel the pressure to do something -whatever that may be - and do it quickly.

"We've sensed it too, and we understand the ache that you feel. More than any other generation in history, ours is a generation that feels weight to do something, be somebody, make a difference, and then publish it to the world.  But striving in our own power only leaves us emptier than before and keeps us battling for worthiness.  It does nothing to quiet the longing we have to live the way God created us to live."

--from Tapestry Magazine website (April 2016)

Something about this resonated deeply with me.  Mostly, I think, because it is true.  There is a longing in my heart to do something.  To be someone.  Beside the longing is the fear that time is running out.  I can't be the only one feeling this invisible pressure.  The problem is, when we don't become as important as desired, thoughts of failure begin to settle in  Either we can't find anything meaningful to do, or what we tried didn't work out how we thought it should. How can the motivation to change the world and the acceptance of failure reside in the same body - and continue to do so over and over again with so many of this generation  More important, perhaps: How can it be fixed?

The things many try - work harder; never give up; follow your dreams - may be good advice, but they leave something out.  Even pursuing something with your whole heart can leave you feeling empty or unnoticed. I think the reason for this is that we chose what to do; we chose what kind of difference we wanted to make and then we chose how to go about it, striving in our own power to accomplish our task.  Maybe the problem is us.  Maybe it is our fault we feel empty.

We are burdened to do something and make a difference.  We long to find God's purpose for our lives.  Unfortunately, I wonder just how many of us ask God what our purpose is.  I fear even less of us actually listen for a response. I know I myself have been guilty of this.  I have told God what I want to do and asked for His help.  While this in and of itself may not be wrong, how many times have I missed a better opportunity because I did the planning?

We live in a world of alarm clocks and deadlines, of day planners and social media.  There is the pressure to Do Something right now, and tell everyone about it. Again, these things on their own are not bad.  A scheduled life is good, so long as you haven't lost peace through your plans or run out of time for God.  We don't want to live so in the moment that we have no foundation for the future.  But nor do we want to try so hard to map out our plan for changing the world, that we forget to ask the One who created the world how we should do it.

The more we try to make a difference on our own, the more the potential for failure hangs over us.  We are so often left feeling unworthy or useless when we look at our lives, compare them to others around us or in the media, and feel something is lacking.  God didn't create us to feel pointless and hopeless.  He designed us in His image, and sent His Son Jesus to save us.  Because of Him, we are worthy.  But only through Him.  If our worth and place in eternity comes solely through Christ, what makes us think that our worth on this life should come from anyplace less, or anyone else - including ourselves.  As Christians, we depend on God for eternity; don't you think we can depend on Him for this life as well?

We are too often trying to do something big and life-changing without listening to the one who changed our lives.  We know God has a plan and purpose for us.  I want to live out that plan everyday, for His glory.  Maybe that means taking a step back. Asking God what He wants me to do, and then listening for an answer! Asking Him what kind of difference I am called to make, and how to pursue it.  Asking how much of the world He wants me to change, and being content and courageous, no matter how big or small that portion of the world may seem to me. God views things different than man - He sees the heart of men, the past and future, the ultimate goal.  His will is always good, and always great.  Don't be deceived by man's perspective of big or small.  Don't be afraid if God ends up calling you somewhere or to do something that you think is too small, or too big!  He absolutely knows what He is doing with you.  Follow God's will for your life.  Make God your new passion - then follow your dream; serving Him.  Work hard - serving Him.  And never give up serving Him.  That is how I want to do something - For Him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making the Most of Zoo Photograhpy

With fall [almost] setting in, my mind has been full of planning fun things to do.  There are pumpkin patches and apple orchards, walks in the park and photography sessions in the leaves, baking pies and festivals and Starbucks apple ciders.  Fall is also my absolute favorite time to visit the zoo!  Sure, it's enjoyable to go in the summer, but after a while all of your pictures start looking, well, the same.  Because the animals look like this... ;)

So! In case you decide you want to take advantage of the cooler season to visit your local zoo, here are some of the photography tricks I've found to make the most of your opportunity to see amazing animals, in spite of the photogenically unfortunate safety measures in our way.

One) Bring a Zoom Lens!

This provides so many options, especially when shooting outside.  I always carry around a prime (probably 35 mm) and some form of zoom (usually a  200 or 300 telephoto.) Not only does it mean you can take pictures of the animals even if they are not close to you, but, as a bonus, can be used as a rough replacement for binoculars for your group.  I am rarely the only one looking through the camera, even if I'm the only one actually taking pictures.

Two) Manual Focus

If you are not used to using the manual focus switch on your camera, I highly recommend using it when going to the zoo.  The autofocus built in most cameras has a tendency to focus on wires, bars, cages, even glass, instead of whatever it is inside that you are trying to take a picture of.  When you are using manual, you have the option of choosing where you want the focus to be.  It might take a bit of practice, and so will sometimes be a bit more fuzzy than you like (as in my bird below), but it will still be better than a picture of a wire cage.

Three) Pay Attention - to all of the animals.

Sure, you may be there to see the lions and tigers or bears (or with kids who either only want to see a single animal or can't stay on one for even two minutes) but try to  pay attention to the other animals there.  You never know what you will see if you're looking outside of the "main attraction."  Like this beautiful black swan situated out of the way.

Four) Don't forget the People.

More than likely you're not going to the zoo by yourself.  Keep in mind that photos of people watching the animals can be just as intriguing as pictures of the animals themselves.

Five) Watch for Reflections

Glass can be a nightmare for photographers.  But if there was no glass, certain dangerous zoo animals would be on the loose, so it really is a necessity.  Still, watch out for reflections.  Try positioning yourself at an angle, waiting for most of the crowd to pass and move on their way, or investing in a polarizing filter.

I'd love to hear if anyone has any thoughts! Favorite animal? More photography insight?! :)