Monday, February 27, 2012


As you may have noticed (or not... either way...) I have been AWOL.

The reason being I was on vacation! My sister and I decided to go on a cruise.

We love cruises. I have been on 10 (if I am remembering/counting correctly). They are a great way to travel. I mean who wouldn’t want to have someone cook and clean up after you for a week and ALSO wake up in a different country every day?

It’s pretty sweet. We went to the Bahamas. The weather was perfect and we met some pretty cool people. We were on the Carnival Fantasy that sails out of Charleston :)

Some of the highlights (or just random things) from the trip:
1. I ate frog legs & alligator bites. I also had escargot but I’ve had it before.
2. Claire got stung by a bee in the Coach store in Nassau.
3. We got a free topaz and sapphire in Nassau –
which totally rocks since my birthstone is topaz and Claire’s is sapphire!
4. I got to go down the waterslide – twice! No kids around! Whoot Whoot!
5. We got to go to the returning cruisers cocktail party – which had free drinks :)
6. We almost
witness a WWE smack down the last night. This kid stuck his tongue out in someone’s photo – they weren’t to happy about it and were unimpressed when the parents laughed at their kids actions (side rant- seriously!? Your kid was rude and obviously upset someone. You should apologize and discipline your kid- not make it about the other person and defend your kids bad behavior. UGH.)
7. We had a drink in memory of our dad on the anniversary of his death. Dad wasn’t much of a drinker but we raised our glasses to him!
8. Claire won a Rock, Paper, Scissors contest.
9. I learned part of the Thriller dance :)

10. This was my 10th cruise!
11. Biggest highlight!? We didn’t kill each other! ;)

Anyway, here are some snapshots from the week! Enjoy!

In case anyone was wondering here is a list of the other ships I have been on:
1996 - Big Red Boat
1998 - Carnival Celebration
1999 - Carnival Jubilee
2000 - Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas
2002 – Marco Polo (Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona to Rome)
2003 - Carnival Fantasy

2004 – Carnival Victory
2008 – Carnival Fascination
2009 – Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas
2012 – Carnival Fantasy (apparently we have been on this ship twice! haha)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

bucket list

Most people today have heard of a “Bucket List.” I’m pretty sure the Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman’s 2007 movie based on the idea is what has sparked recent interest in the idea.  In the movie version of Nicholas Spark’s A Walk to Remember, the man character also has a list of things she’d like to do before she dies.
I had kind of mulled over the idea and have made the “before I die I want to do ______” statement many times before. It wasn’t until middle of last year that I decided to write it all down. With the help of Pinterest, I have continued to add to it.
(There are things I have already done and will be listed)
So here goes (no particular order)
1.       Kiss Vincent at the top of the Eifel Tower (I have been to Paris and to the top but I’d like him to go with me)
2.       Hit a baseball/softball (DONE! At a batting cage but still!)
3.       Ride in a gondola with Vincent
4.       Jump off the Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand
5.       Go on a cruise with my whole family
6.       Meet Sylvester Stallone :)
7.       Visit the pawn shop featured in Pawn Stars
8.       Go sky diving
9.       Zip-line through a rainforest
10.   Eat a Phillie Cheesesteak in Phillie
11.   Visit every MLB baseball stadium with Vincent (3 down!)
12.   See a panda in China (just cause :)
13.   Visit the Wizard of Oz Museum in Kansas
14.   Visit Nome, Alaska – the city where my favorite childhood movie was base – Balto!
15.   Go on a transatlantic cruise
16.   Visit Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria
17.   Eat a cannoli in Italy (I have been 2 times and never tried one!)
18.   Kiss Vincent on a big screen at a major sports event
19.   Try a cupcake from Georgetown Cupcakes (DONE!)
20.   Visit Carlos’ Bakery in NJ
21.   Own a Jeep Grand Wagoneer
22.   Drive cross country
23.   Go to the top of the Arch in St. Louis (DONE!)
24.   Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge (DONE! Twice!)
25.   Drive across the Tower Bridge in London (DONE!)
26.   Attend a church service overseas (DONE!)
27.   Own my own studio
28.   Photograph a Marine at the Vietnam wall (DONE!)
29.   Visit Salzburg to see where The Sound of Music was filmed (DONE!)
30.   Visit Naples and Sicily- where Vincent’s ancestors are from
31.   See an Opera (DONE!)
32.   Fly in a private jet
33.   See a Broadway musical on Broadway (DONE! But want to see more!)
34.   See the Acropolis (DONE!)
35.   See the pyramids in Egypt
36.    See Stonehedge (DONE!)
37.   Visit Shakespeare’s Globe and see a play (1/2 done!)
38.   Go to Chicago
39.   See one of my best friends get married (As of October this year- DONE!)
40.   Go to Hawaii (DONE!)
41.   Have a glass of bourbon on Bourbon Street
42.   Do a missions trip overseas
43.   Have kids
44.   Go to Germany and have a beer (I don’t even like beer!!)
45.   Rescue a severely abused animal (like 3 legs, one eye type thing. Beauty can be found in all of God’s creatures!!!)
46.   Learn to tango
47. See the Great Wall in China
48.   Meet someone famous (like super famous. Like the president or some crazy celebrity famous)
49.   Go on vacation with my Nanny (DONE!)
50. Visit Chernobyl

Obviously I have done a lot (some not on here) and I am so blessed for that but there is so much more I want to do. This list will grow and I might never actually do everything on here but a girl can dream :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

cairn terrier

Last night on the College Jeopardy Tournament, one of the answers/questions was this:

I screamed. Literally. Vincent, Rocky, and Maddi all thought I was insane but I was so excited because I knew the answer, totally wrote a blog earlier about the topic, and because I HAVE A CAIRN TERRIER!! (pronounced like Karen). I am so head-over-heels in love with my Cairn that whenever I see anything Cairn related I buy it and kind of freak out. Bumper stickers, key chains, pens - you name it, I want it!

BTW- the students on the show didn't know the answer. I felt pretty smart ;)
For those who don’t know, Toto in the movie The Wizard of Oz is a Cairn. The photo above is of my Maddux Rae :)
I have noticed that it’s harder to find things with Cairns because it isn’t considered a popular breed anymore and I cannot understand why! I mean I won’t lie- I had NO idea what they were called until the day we bought Maddux but still! I do now and I love them! No, I adore him. (it’s actually quite sad… ;)

Cairns were bred in Scottish Highlands to chase rodents out of piles of rocks (aka cairns). They  were prized for their hard work more than their looks. They are stubborn, independent, fearless, and, in my case, a little OCD (Maddi is OBSESSED with playing ball. Obsessed is putting it mildly- ask my family. If he visits your house and you play with him, next time he is over, he will remember where the ball is kept. No lie.)
They aren’t “pretty” or “cute” by today’s standards. I mean they are being compared to Chihuahuas, Yorkies, Dachshunds, and Westies - they don’t have a shot. They are manly small dogs. They are scruffy and wiry. (AND for the record, Westies were bred from Cairns – some guy shot his Cairn because he thought it was a fox so he started to bred Cairns to be white… sad, but true)
My Maddi though- oh boy – he has my heart.

He is annoying, bossy, stubborn, irritating, messy, crazy, and conceded (yes. I said conceded. My dog totally is). He doesn’t sit still for very long, always wants to play, and constantly makes a mess of his dinner. He doesn’t snuggle and isn’t much of a lap dog. He has anxiety when around too many other dogs and doesn’t “kiss” me.

 But I love that dog more than just about anything (I mean let’s be real, there are some days where I love him more than Vincent… not really but you can understand how much I love this pup). He doesn’t need a leash to go outside, he take care of *ahem* his business quickly, and is loyal to a fault. He listens when I tell him no and stop. He gets along great with other dogs, always back-ups his big brother Rocky, and is about the friendliest dog you’ll ever meet. He is super smart and silly (he will chase his tail and when he catches it he doesn't always let go right away and will try to walk. It's so funny). He makes me smile at least once every hour and he is a momma’s boy.  I adore my Cairn and I think the world needs to know that!

I will own another Cairn, I truly believe that. They are awesome little dogs. They are spunky and can handle their own. They are cute but manly enough to not be all fruffy (I don’t think that’s a word but I don't care…). Luckily the breed is known to have little health issues, doesn't shed a whole lot, and tend to live 14+ years (yay!).

NOW you get to have PICTURES! There aren’t a whole lot of photos of Cairns on the internet so I figure Maddi’s pretty little face could be  one! :) Enjoy! 

On a side note: I LOVE our oldest dog Rocky with all my heart. He is a daddy’s boy all the way. He is super loving and quite a pretty fellow but he is a mutt so it’s hard to have a “bred loyalty” to him. If I could get 25 more Rocky’s I would but that pup is one of a kind… literally. Here's a photo of our big ole baby :)

Anyway! I think Cairn Terrier lovers of the world unite!!!

If you are thinking of adpoting a Cairn do your research. They require a steady and patient hand. They are stubborn but highly intelligent and loyal. Check out Col. Potter’s Cairn Rescue to see if there are any loveable Cairns that need forever homes.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a thank you to teachers

The other day at work, I had a chance to talk to a co-worker that I don’t get to talk to often. He told me about his marriage of 28 years, our love/hate relationship with math, budgeting, and (oddly enough) teachers that made impacts on our lives.
The other day, I read an article on AOL today titled, “Teacher’s Words that Changed My Life.”
I’d like to think that most people have that special teacher who made an impact on their lives and will forever be grateful to them but for me it goes much farther. I have several.

Mr. L, oh goodness… Mr. L. He was my Algebra 3 teacher my sophomore year. His class was the first class I ever slept in and one of the only classes I got 100 in (no lie…. 100). He’s a big dude (not much of a challenge since I stand at barely 5ft tall)- former Marine, booming voice, laid back attitude, father of four girls (poor guy!). He, apparently, thought Vincent and I would make a fantastic couple even though Vincent had a girlfriend at the time. He was always so supportive of Vincent as a Marine, me as the loved one of a Marine, and of us as a young couple. He always stopped to talk to me and on one occasion (when I was about to burst into tears) he didn’t brush me aside because I was emotional- instead he talked to me and just simply listened. He was such a blessing in our lives.
Mr. P- love him! He was what I would like to call a silent mentor. He gave me free reign over the graphics room and I learned so much from him. He always greeted us each morning with a smile and genuinely cares about his students. He inspired and encouraged me to let my creativeness flow. He’s a great, easy-going teacher that has a wonderful attitude about what he does. One time I broke the glass on the silk screen developer. Oh. My. Gosh. I was so embarrassed and mad at myself and as I was telling Mr. P, I was totally holding back tears. His reaction stunned me (literally) - he simply said, “Ok, I will take care of it” and walked away. You see, I didn’t want to tell him- I was that embarrassed – but my mom always told me that it’s better to tell the truth upfront then deal with the consequences later. He didn’t make me feel like an idiot and make me an example to the rest of the class, he didn’t suspend me for being careless, and he didn’t show any disappointment- he simply “took care of it.” He is awesome. Point blank, it’s not up for discussion.
Mr. H- my photography teacher. He was tough. I mean TOUGH. The first day of Photography 1 he tried to scare as many of us as he could to get kids to drop the class. He warned us that the class was expensive and difficult- it wouldn’t be an easy “A.” And he wasn’t kidding. I spent hours (willingly but still) in the dark room trying to get my image just right. He had no problem telling you your photo sucked and I needed that. I needed to be pushed, not babied. I decided to take Photography 2 (ended up with only 2 of us in the class but it was great) and it was great being able to help the 1s through the class.
All I wanted in high school was to make a mark. Big or small it didn’t matter- just something. I didn’t realize that it would be taking the time to talk to school officials on a real level. In my junior and senior year, I got pretty close to the principal, Mr. O, and one of the assistant principals, Mrs. G, at SV. My friends (and Vincent!) would call me a suck up but I genuinely liked talking to them and getting to know them. I always thought I was born in the wrong decade and I just get along better with people older than me. So what!? Sue me!
Mrs. G let me miss an entire period because I was mad at my teacher. I stormed into her office and told her that if I went to class I would probably get suspended because my teacher really, I mean REALLY, pissed me off and I didn’t know if I could hold my tongue (sorry Nanny for the language but you know how I was when I was younger!). So, for about 45 minutes I sat and talked to her and I am so grateful she let me. She took the time to be there for me in a time where I felt so helpless.
Everyday at lunch, I would go up to the front of the cafeteria and talk to Mr. O simply because I enjoyed talking to him (I mean I could have been annoying the crap out of him and I would never have known it). At graduation, our Mr. O gave me an extra long hug (which held up the line and apparently was extremely noticeable) and told me he would miss me and wished me luck. It seriously made every bad thing that happened to me in high school vanish.
High  school wasn’t that gosh-awful-I-hate-life scenario for me because for the most part it was pretty awesome. I will never forget the teachers that made an impact on my life and I want to thank you. Thank you for believing in me, for pushing me to be better, and for being a friend. And thank you to all those who teach. I cannot imagine doing what you are doing but thank you!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


I never really understood the importance of marketing my business until recently. I am trying to be better and work to honor my brand. I need to put more effort in presentation and today I did just that. 

Your brides pay you to photograph the most important day in their lives- why deliver those precious memories in a plain envelope? <---- saying that more to myself than to others. I promise to work harder and be better.

Here is the box of goodies I delivered to a bride. I hope she likes it :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

before and after

I "learned" about Photoshop in 10th grade. I took a Graphics & Communications class and loved it so much I took it for another year (I was the only person in my Graphics and Comm. 2 class cause I'm just that cool). Basically I got to do whatever I wanted. I LOVED IT! My teacher was ah-mazing and he was always so supportive and helpful (thanks Mr. P!).

I learned how to do silk screen, build books, and other things of that nature.

Then I met Photoshop. It's beautiful. I have Elements and CS4. I make everything on Photoshop (like our Christmas cards, thank you notes, print releases, etc).

I'm still learning and I'll admit I am very new to "actions" - as in like 6 months new. Here are some ones I have done recently with new actions. For those that don't know what an action is here the easy definition: it's a command that you can click and it will apply a certain effect to the photo. It's almost like a one-click-photo-wonder-editing-genie. You can adjust the layers to fit what you are looking for.

Don't get me wrong- you need to learn how to edit your photos and appreciate your own aesthetic but sometimes it's nice to have some fun experimenting! :)

You can find some for free at Coffee Shop Blog and MCP Actions. I have a few from them. My personal favorite are Coffee Shop's Velvet Ash B&W and MCP's High Definition. 

I have bought actions as well! I love love love my actions from Pure Photoshop Actions and Kathleen Amelia Photography. I'll be honest- I only use a handful of the actions in the bundles I bought but none the less I'm happy with my purchase. I do tweak each action I use in attempt to keep with what I like but they are a great starting point!

I bought the Pure Photoshop Action Set 1. The actions by are more subtle and great for weddings and bridals. It's actually geared more towards newborns but like I said, it's great for weddings and bridals.  I'm in love with the "It's All About the Bling" action. It just pops the blacks! I also love the warming action - it's just enough.

The actions by Kathleen are more edgy- LOVE! They add the "pop" without it looking like you edited it on Picnik (sorry, not being a hater!). I love "Rufus." It's currently my favorite. I just got the set but I forsee me using it for engagement and family sessions. :)

First three are actions by Kathleen Amelia and the last two are by Pure Photoshop :) Love 'em! The description is under the image. :)

 Used Rufus

 Used Flat Black

flattened then used Karly

brown sugar baby (vintage baby at 50%)
hazy baby (haze it up at 50%)
it's all about the bling (two times)

warm that baby (at 50%)
hazy baby
it's all about the bling (two times)

(The ones that have %, to get those, adjust the opacity on the layer you want to mess with. The opacity is found in your layers palette)

If you have any suggestions on actions let me know! If you have any questions shoot me a message :)