The Important Things...

This is Ashley and John Mark. We shot their wedding years ago and since then they quickly became people I can not do life without. They are generous, sincere, love life to the fullest, and to say they are fun would be an understatement. We can go weeks without talking and then once we do we don't skip a beat. We have cried together, laughed together, and now will parent together. They are adopting and I could not be more thrilled!!! Like jump up and down, she had to come over at odd hours of the night to tell me the whole story, kind of excited.

I know they will make the best parents. She has had plenty of practice loving on mine over the years. I am so happy the time has come for them to join in this journey of parenthood. Ashley has taught me to loosen up at times, to love more passionately, and has advised me in many of my hair needs. You know all the important things in life.

I am sure you all know how expensive adoption can be. Like crazy expensive. So I was thinking if everyone who read this little blog of mine donated what they can big or small we could make this dream of theirs a reality with much less of a financial burden on them. How great would that be?!?!? Adopting and being a new parent in general is hard enough on its own. They have a few ways to donate. HERE you can read more about their story and give a tax deductible donation. HERE you can buy a piece of gorgeous jewelry through the month of August and all proceeds will go to them. I have this necklace and have an E and K on it and it is one of my favorite pieces. They make great gifts too. Christmas will be here before we know it.


An Outfit

This weekend was my papa's birthday. I packed up the kiddos and headed 45 min north for a family party. Love time spent at my parent's house. The kiddos run circles around the house and explore their country land. You can hear every cricket chirp and that can become deafening at times. It really is a special place.  This is me about to head that way. The dress I believe I had since KJ was a newborn, I may have even had it since I was pregnant. He's six, ha. The shoes I found with my big closet purge. They are Seychelles and I have no idea how old they are. This summer I have found myself not wanting to blow dry my hair EVER, so the top knot and side braid have become my go to. I honestly feel as if I FINALLY have a God given grasp on my spending since the audit. It sort of repulses me on how many clothes and shoes I had especially since so many still had tags on them. I did buy a few more dresses since the audit. Two to shoot weddings in since my go to's no longer fit and one casual dress that is constant rotation already. The perk is though that I bought then on consignment. I may be a changed women or at least I hope so. Oh, and by no means do I think shopping is a bad thing. My spending just happened to escalate when I was in a rut, saw a pretty picture, or simply just wanted what I thought was a "happy" moment. Shopping never actually filled the void instead it just created waste.

* the wrappping I bought at TJ Maxx


A New Printer {a review}

When Staples asked if I would like to try out a new printer of course I accepted with open arms. Our current printer was on its last leg so this offer could not have come at a better time. They generously sent me a HP Officejet Pro 8600 3-All-in-One printer. I must say I am smitten. It fits perfectly on our ikea bookshelf which is a huge plus since we are tight on space. 

The newlywed homeowners that I just wrapped up decorating for requested a scripture for every room. I decided to design a few of my own to frame to stay on budget. On most occasions I actually bring prints to Staples to have printed, but this time around I was tight on time so I thought I would give the printer given to me a go first.

This is what I came up with and personalized it with their last name. I must say it came out better than I expected. After designing the print in illustrator I put it on a usb key and simply uploaded directly to the printer. I wanted to use the photo printing option so I would get the best quality. The printer then walked me through a few simple steps and sizing options. Took only a few seconds really. It was easy as pie.

Here it is in it's new home...

I was rather impressed with the quality of the simple print so I wanted to test it to see what it REALLY could do. Since we are photographers I wanted to see if it could even be an option to print our own photos instead of sending out every time which can take weeks. I used standard matte photo paper and I, again, uploaded the photo to a usb key. Then inserted it into the printer and after following a few steps, viola I now have a beautiful print of my parents with Ellie taken at her party to give to my father for his birthday this weekend.

I wanted to use a 4x6 photo so I used the print option of printing a 4x6 on 8.5" x11" paper. I then trimmed it down.

I adore the results and I am sure my father will too!!! The only thing that could make it better is if KJ was in the pic too.

Again I was eager to give it another test. Here is a comparison of the printer given to me by Staples to the one done at our professional printers. Not too shabby. The clarity was spot on. The colors are rich and and would be spot on with the comparison image if the paper was the same and a little color collaborating on the ole iMac. Saying I am pleased with the results may be an understatement. It's freeing to know I now have another printing option when we are tight on time.

*DISCLOSURE* Although the printer was provided to me by Staples, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own of course.


Gifts for Girls

Thought I would share some really fun gifts Ellie got for her birthday that I could not recommend more for the 8 and up crowd. She actually received two of the rainbow looms and had the option of returning one and she decided against it because she has had so much fun making them. They are little bracelets you can make using rubber bands. She has been making all her friends one and even I wear one now. The other one is a bracelet kit maker using string. It has these wheels in them that makes it easy to do and even I who missed the friendship bracelet craze the first time around finds it so fun to do.


A Garden Party 

This past weekend Ellie turned 8!!! It's hard for me believe that I have an eight year old. What in the world! Anyhow, every year the kiddos pick a theme and this year Ellie wanted vegetables. I see our garden tending is rubbing off on her positively. Yay! Here are a few snippets from her big day...

I must say my favorite part of the whole party was ellie's cake. The Mr took on the task and he and KJ came up with this! I was rather impressed. I also hear it tasted amazing!!!

Throughout the house I made watering can bouquets with flowers, vegetables and herbs from the garden along with roses left over from a friend who is a florist. She sold them to me on the cheap. Talk about perfect timing!

Of course, worms had to make an apperance. It was a vegetable garden party after all.

I always try to include at least one fun activity for the kiddos to do. It keeps them busy and helps with keeping their rooms from being pulled apart bit by bit. We went with decorating pots to grow herbs. Loved getting to see everyone's personality really shine here. A few just splattered paint everywhere while others were meticulous to the very last detail.

As everyone left they received dirt, seeds, and a gardening set to take home with them. The two babies of the group got tiny watering cans that were a tad safer.

I must say I really lucked out when target marked all their summer gardening supplies down to 75% off. It enabled me to go a little above and beyond for take away gifts on our budget. I also found the water cans for the bouquets at Target too and again they were 75% off!  Thankfully everything we used to make this party a true gardening party we will be able to use years to come. I used a coupon for all the pots at Micheal's and they ended up being around a dollar a piece. Not too shabby.