Archive for December, 2010

The Mountain

December 30, 2010

It’s one of those things that I just never thought I’d do. It was a hobby reserved for brave people. Adventurous types who might even see a foot cast as a badge of honor. I’ve never broken a bone in my life, and I’d like to keep it that way!

I never thought I’d EVER go skiing.

Even last night as I tried to go to sleep I wasn’t sure I’d actually go. I mean, we could buy a Wii for about the same price as two lift tickets and equipment rentals. And they have a ski game, right?

But skiing is really a metaphor for all challenges. It’s more about trying something I never thought I’d do (never thought I could do). It’s about listening to the voice that says “I can!” instead of the one shouting reasons why I can’t. So early this morning we headed toward Mount Southington and I attempted to conquer the mountain. As I made my way from the bunny hill to the more advanced slope, I thought about how the experiences on the slope were analogies for every day life:
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If you panic in fear that you’re going to fall, you’ll almost certainly cause it to happen.

Falling is a part of learning. If you can embrace that, it will only make you better. When it happens, just brush yourself off and start again.

Life can be a slippery slope, but these things will help you stay balanced: patience, confidence, and determination.

You can’t stay on the bunny hill forever. Even if you fall four times on the advanced hill, at least you gave it a shot!

There will always be crazy people coming at you. Just stand aside and let that mess keep going on its way instead of getting tangled up in it. (so, so true)

Believing in yourself is the most important thing, but it always helps to have someone to encourage and support you along the way. (thankfully, I have Matt)
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So what are some things that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t yet? New Year’s is just around the corner, so maybe 2011 is the time to make it happen!

The one who encourages me through it all

About to head down the part of the slope where I had my first fall of the day just 4 hours earlier! This time... I made it! ; )

Matt and his Dad coming down the biggest slope

Dress Talk is a bi-weekly post featuring wedding dress shopping and gown advice by guest blogger Sam Owen of Solutions Bridal Designer House. This is Sam’s final post on our blog as she has completed her internship with Solutions Bridal! Congratulations Sam! We wish you all the best in your future endeavors!

We’ll start up again next year with more bridal fashion information from our new guest blogger, Kaleigh! Also, make sure to add The Bridal Closet, official blog of Solutions Bridal Designer House, to your blog reader!

They’re cute and sweet and they dream about how they’re going to walk down the aisle, but if handled incorrectly your flower girl may cause you (the bride) some nightmares.

First you want to keep in mind that too many opinions will make you miserable. Once the parents agree to let their daughter be a flower girl, the decisions are up to you; especially if you are paying for the dress. If the parents are paying then take into consideration their budget. Make sure they understand that you are only looking for SUGGESTIONS.

A great way to get an accurate budget from the parents is to ask for online pictures of what they like. This will give you an idea of what they are willing to pay. If you had something pricier in mind, expect to pitch in.

You may be ok if your maid of honor hates her dress, but if the flower girl hates it you will have problems. First think of comfort. If she’s not comfortable everyone will know it. Choose fabrics carefully! You won’t want to worry about the pre-wedding nap wrinkles or the tear she makes while playing tag with the ring bearer. Velvet and Satin for example would be poor choices.

Don’t stress out about the flower girl. Simply use your logic to decide which dress is right. Chances are they’ll love getting all dressed up no matter what you choose!

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2010

We hope that this day is filled with happiness and time with your loved ones! We are spending time with family in Connecticut and have plans to go to NYC later this week! Sadly it’s not a white Christmas, but we are expecting 6 inches of snow tomorrow and more on Monday!

From our family to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Christmas and New Year’s are just around the corner, so you know what that means! It’s engagement season!

So in honor of all those who will be giving and receiving bling this season, I thought I’d share some of our favorite rock shots! We love setting the rings in colorful and fun places!

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Last week we were excited to see that Angie & Blake’s Riviera Maya destination wedding photos were shared on the NOW Resorts blog! Angie told us the good news on our Facebook page, and in this chilly weather it brings back warm thoughts of the jewel-toned beach on the coast of Mexico! We really enjoyed working with the amazing staff at NOW Sapphire Riviera Cancun to make Angie & Blake’s wedding day complete! Thanks so much for sharing their wedding day photos on your blog!

NOW Sapphire Riviera Cancun wedding photos

Dress Talk is a bi-weekly post featuring wedding dress shopping and gown advice by guest blogger Sam Owen of Solutions Bridal Designer House. Make sure to check back for more bridal fashion information and also add The Bridal Closet, official blog of Solutions Bridal Designer House, to your blog reader!

Whether you’re the bride’s best friend or you were chosen by default, being a bridesmaid is such an honor and a responsibility. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t say “When I get married” or “At so-and-so’s wedding…” Every wedding is different and no bride wants to be compared to past or future weddings. A lot of thought has gone into every detail, and as a bridesmaid you should be understanding of the brides choices.

Credit: Lori Foxworth Photography

2. Ok, so she chose the unflattering cornflower dress despite everyone’s hidden disgust. There’s nothing you can do about it, but you can do something about how it’s going to fit you. Remember that when getting measured, most bridesmaid dresses run SMALL. Don’t be alarmed if the stylist suggests you order a size 14, and you’ve never been over a size 8 a day in your life. It differs by designer, but it’s not uncommon to order a dress two sizes bigger than you may imagine. Stylists also round upward to account for alterations. It’s always easier to make the dress smaller than make the dress bigger!

Credit: Cosmopolitan

3. Call in for updates and avoid talking about yourself. Think about it this way-the closer to the wedding, the more you call and the less you talk. I don’t care if she’s your twin sister or your best friend; this is a very stressful time for the bride. Chances are if you start talking about your new haircut the bride is thinking about her own do for the wedding anyway. So be a good listener and keep the focus on the wedding.

Credit: James Merrell

4. Remember why you’re here. Being a bridesmaid is an honor and you should act accordingly. Bridesmaids are there to witness the ceremony and support the couple through good and bad-until death do them part. Make yourself available in the days preceding the wedding for any errand the bride may need. This goes for the day of as well. Don’t forget you’ll be on bathroom duty for the girl in the white dress!

Credit: Wedding Splendor

With temps dipping down into the 20s, it’s starting to actually feel like the holidays here in Florida! That means lots of comfort food and hot drinks like tea and coffee (I’ve had more peppermint mochas and Christmas Blend than I can count). I’ve also been making tons of chili the past couple months! This is the first I have ever made it, and it’s so easy that I make it all the time!

I also worry every time that it’s not going to come out right because I don’t have a recipe. I don’t really cook by recipes. I may refer to them for a general idea but then I start to make it with the ingredients that I want. However, I want this one on the record so that I don’t forget how to make it after 8 months of way-too-hot-for-chili weather!

Ingredients (varies, but this is what went in yesterday)
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion (small)
1 can spiced chili beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn (no salt added, but you can use regular too)
1 8oz. can tomato paste
2 packages of fake ground beef (like Morningstar or Boca)
Beef broth or stock (I used most of a 32oz tetra pack) – if you are really a vegetarian then I’m sure veggie stock will be good, too
Spices (chili powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, curry, and Adobo)
Optional – BBQ Fritos, sour cream, and shredded sharp cheddar

Start out by getting a big pot and put a little olive oil in the bottom. Heat on medium while you chop the onion. Add the onion and let it cook for a few minutes. Add the fake beef and a little beef broth and stir it up. Let this cook for a few minutes while you wash the tops of the cans and open them. The corn is the only one you should drain. Stir the “meat” again and add the corn. Let it cook 1-2 minutes, and then add the rest of the cans (cooking each one 1-2 minutes and adding broth as needed). I added the tomato paste last so that I could see how thick everything was and how much broth needed to be added to make it the right consistency.

For the spices, I put in a ton of chili powder, stir it, and then double the amount. Can you really use too much chili powder and chili? I put approx. 2 tbsp of onion powder and probably 4 tbsp each of cumin, curry, and Adobo. The cayenne pepper I’m not so liberal with because Matt doesn’t like things too spicy. But chili has to have some kick, so I add a little! I would also prefer to add some stewed or diced tomatoes, but we didn’t have any in the pantry yesterday.

By now it should be bubbling, so reduce the heat to low and let it cook for as long as you want. An hour is plenty of time, but because of the broth it’s going to taste like it cooked all day and the cumin will give it a smoky flavor (thank you Rachel Ray for those tips!).

This recipe is awesome as it is, but we like to make it over the top good (and BAD!). We put Fritos on the bottom of the bowl (BBQ flavor, preferably) and top it with the chili! Sometimes I will add sour cream or we’ll both put shredded cheese on top if we have it. Last night it was just chips. Tonight I think we’ll put the chili over some brown rice!

So I want to know… what is your secret weapon for killer chili?

Shooting with Justin & Mary

December 13, 2010

I’m still recovering from all the fun I had this weekend with the awesome Justin & Mary Marantz! They flew down from Connecticut to shoot a wedding in Miami and invited me to come along and help out. Secretly, I think they helped me more than I helped them! I learned so much just watching them in action. But then, over the years I’ve learned so much from them, whether through their blog, their workshops and presentations (like their Spread The Love tour), and from a private mentor session I had with them last year. Seriously, photographers, other wedding vendors, and even brides and grooms should follow their blog! It will inspire you!

One big thing I learned this weekend was that you can create amazing images even if the situation is not ideal. You’ll never know by looking at their images that the bridal suite was filled with ladies getting ready and gift bags filling the floor. I admitted to them that I just always thought their getting ready images look like they had a huge room with a lot of open space and very few people in the room. And while they often get a lot of time for formal photos, the wedding this weekend was on a bit of a time crunch and they still shot incredible couple shots and family photos. They just blow me away. Give them a challenge, and they will find a way to make it work. And while they are both incredibly talented, I’m more impressed by how they work as a team. They are just all kinds of awesome!

They just posted a sneak peek of Lauren & Matias’ Miami wedding photos on their blog today! What a sweet and adorable couple! The wedding was beautiful, so you don’t want to miss all the details!

Justin & Mary, thank you so much for this opportunity! My head is spinning with ideas and thoughts about the upcoming year, and I really appreciate you challenging me to start thinking about what we want to happen in 2011. Matt gets back from his trip tonight and we have so much to talk about! We both are so thankful for all the knowledge that you share and for your encouragement! We can never give back all that you have given us! : )

My plans for this week’s Wedding Wednesday fell through, but that’s okay. We have something better! Our friend, Boston area photographer Katie Ring, blogged today about engagement photo ideas and how to make your session personal. In addition to several examples from some of the engagement sessions she has shot over the years, she also used one of Jessi & Bubba’s Jacksonville Fair engagement photos as an example! We have a lot of engagement sessions to be scheduled over the next few months for our 2011 weddings, so if you’re looking for some inspiration check out Katie’s blog for ideas!

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It’s so bittersweet to see another wedding season come to an end, but Stacie & Tim’s winter wedding was a great way to finish the year!

On Saturday night after the wedding, I posted a sneak peek of their wedding photos along with a song from the movie Serendipity called “When You Know.” What I didn’t realize was that when we blogged their Jacksonville engagement photos, I started off with the words “When you know…” I guess those are just the words that come to mind when I think of this amazing couple and their love story!

They met on match.com (where Matt and I met, also), and it was love at first sight! Even now when they look at each other they both just light up. It’s hard to imagine them not being together, because they are such a perfect pair! Less than a year after meeting, they said “I do” at an evening reception at the Orange Park Woman’s Club beneath twinkling lights. The candlelight reception and glow from the fireplace added to the intimate setting, and there were wintery elements in the decor. One of my favorites was the sweet little snowflake that was added to Stacie’s bouquet by Bold Blooms of Green Cove Springs. Despite the crisp winter air, you couldn’t help but feel warm and fuzzy throughout the evening. They shared some touching moments as they danced with their parents and Stacie also danced with her grandfather. The party continued with the sounds of DJ Tony Mann until the newlyweds made their grand exit on a golf cart with the words “Just Hitched” on the back!

We had a great time and just want to say thank you again to Stacie & Tim for letting us be part of the fun! We also want to thank Jessi so much for referring us! Looking forward to seeing you and Bubba get hitched in 2011!

But for now, here’s a look at our final wedding of 2010… Stacie and Tim!

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