September 23, 2013

Pieces of Me: Booz and Bangs

Last week I began a new photography class called Radiate.  This is the second class I have taken with Beryl Young.  She is a phenomenal photography teacher!  If you haven't checked out her website, she can be found at  Beryl Young sends out regular emails with great tips, so make sure you sign up for her Momtographer Tips and Tricks Guide.

Our first week of Radiate begins with Pieces of Me. We have been given several questions to consider.  Everyone has a story to tell, and here is a little bit of my story.

Growing up, my mother was the most important person to me.  She is still one of THE most important people in my life and that will never change.  My mother and I moved away from my biological father when I was five years old.  I guess that means I am from a broken home.  Moving away was one of the best things we could have done.  My father was an alcoholic, among other things. Even after we left he did not try to know me or be involved in my life until sometime in my high school years.  And those few moments when he tried to be a father were short lived.

I don't drink. I don't have a problem if other's drink, but I just don't feel that it is my way of life.  I am glad for that. I do believe that alcoholism is hereditary, and I would hate to have to fight that ugly battle or damage in any way all that I have become.

I don't have many memories of my father, but I do remember cutting off ALL my bangs.  I was about 4 1/2 at the time, my mother was working, and my father was passed out on the couch.  My mom thought I looked just lovely until she realized what I had done.  The only picture we have with my very own haircut is my Kindergarten class photo.

There was a male figure in my life, but not a father figure. The only person I had to confide in, the only person I had to look out for me was my mother.  She is the ONE that has helped mold me into the person I am today.  I am thankful for having such a great mother.

September 13, 2013

Curls for a Cure - Ouidad Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

Ouidad Supports Breast Cancer Awareness
365 Days a Year

Ouidad has donated over $443,781 to Breast Cancer Awareness

Ouidad, a renowned hair stylist, salon owner, global educator, curl expert, mother, and industry icon is a breast cancer survivor.  She was diagnosed at the same age as her mother, who lost the battle against the disease.  Ouidad realized that she was in a unique position to apply both personal experience and passion to a remarkable cause and took action against this aggressive killer.  While she commends other brands for debuting limited edition, pastel pink products to raise funds for this important cause, Ouidad has chosen to pursue a higher level of involvement by supporting breast cancer awareness 365 days a year.

Fortunate enough to make a full recovery, Ouidad started a crusade against breast cancer, vowing to make a difference in the lives of other women.  She founded Curls for a Cure in 2005 to raise funds year round for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.  Curls for a Cure is a donation program on that welcomes visitors to make a donation of their choosing toward Breast Cancer research.  Taking her commitment a step further, Ouidad matches any amount donated, dollar for dollar, up to $50,000!

With her own difficult hair loss experience, Ouidad is able to comfort troubled clients in an entirely personal way, and is truly honored to provide support both financially and emotionally.  Below are a few helpful tips from Ouidad on how to look good and feel good during this difficult time.

  • Skin will have a yellow tint from chemotherapy – use a bronzer with a pink tint to balance skin color
  • Hair tends to lose pigmentation, often growing in gray and curly; wait at least six months post chemotherapy for color to prevent damage of new growth
  • Visually prepare for hair loss by cutting hair shorter to minimize the drastic effect of losing hair
  • With new hair growth, do deep treatments every two weeks to feed and strengthen hair; frequent deep conditioning is necessary to replenish nutrients, allowing each strand to regain its internal weight and body

September 10, 2013

the Bobbi + Katie Collection

Have you heard the latest news in the beauty industry? Katie Holmes and Bobbi Brown recently joined together to create a capsule collection designed for modern on-the-go women like themselves.   Katie Holmes is the FIRST EVER celebrity face to work with Bobbi Brown. 

"Form meets function in the creative duo’s new palette for eyes, cheeks and lips. Combined with a brush set and cosmetic case perfectly sized for your purse, it’s everything you need for beauty on-the-go. "

The color palette includes 8 eye shadows, 2 pot rouges, and a mini eye pencil.  The color collection was inspired by Katie's favorite journal and her classic fashion design sensibility.  The color palette retails for $68.

The mini makeup brush kit includes a face blender brush, eye shadow brush, eye sweep brush, and an eye liner brush in a small brown cosmetic bag.  The makeup brush kit retails for $65.  

Both items are perfectly sized to fit in your purse, giving you everything you need it the most.

These are Limited Edition, so make sure to pick yours up quickly.

The Bobbi + Katie Collection is available at all Bobbi Brown Cosmetic counters and online at

Photographing Your Town Challenge

Last night I finally sat down to to read the latest Click magazine, and found a great article about how to photograph a city.  Although the article highlighted a few key ideas, it really got me thinking.  We live in a nice small town in Northern Virginia, about an hour from either Washington, D.C. or Baltimore, MD.  Our small town would make a great starting point for capturing and photographing our town and sharing it with all of you! There are  several neighboring towns and cities that have so much to explore and share as well.

So in the future I look forward to visiting these towns and sharing with you all the things that make them special.

What is your town/city known for? What attracts people to visit? Are there tourist destinations, or locals  area's that might intrigue others?  I would like to have you share the sights, smells, tastes, and people in your region. Be sure to comment and leave a link to your posts!

If you haven't visited the Clickin' Mom's website, be sure to pop over and check out the many free resources, online classes, and store.  They are also the creators of Click Magazine, a photography magazine published every couple months.  The magazine is available for download through iTunes or you can order print copies.  The magazine has many great resources of information and inspiration.

September 9, 2013

Day 1: The Little Mermaid Photo A Day Challenge {RED}

Yesterday I stumbled upon a one week challenge being hosted by Fat Mum Slim.  Fat Mum Slim has a monthly photo a day challenge that can be found on Facebook with almost 10,000 followers or on Instagram (#fmsphotoaday). I was drawn to the Little Mermaid Photo A Day Challenge for several reasons.  Disney princesses! Who doesn't love them? If you didn't know, The Little Mermaid movie is coming out on DVD and Blue Ray on September 11th!

Prizes!  There are 5 chances to win! Check out Fat Mum Slim's website for details.

The biggest reason motivating me to participate in this challenge would be my little Emma.  She is a girly-girl who LOVES to pose for the camera, which is a great thing for me since I enjoy photography.  And, a short photography challenge! Yay! The photography challenges are a great way to find inspiration, and to share with other's.

Each day I will share my photo with you here on the blog, as well as Instagram (

Day #1 is {RED}.

September 8, 2013

Week in Review - Kindergarten and Soccer

Last Tuesday was our first day of school.  I think we were the last county in our region to start back, and I can honestly say that I like that summer break doesn't end until after Labor Day. I hear there is talk of it possibly changing in the years to come, which is really unfortunate for the children.

Here are a few photo's I was able to grab before Emma headed off on her first day of Kindergarten.  Since she is baby #4, and the last to start school, Momma was a hot mess that day!  It didn't really hit me until I found myself looking out the door every minute watching for the bus to come up the hill.  Once it dawned on me what I was doing, the tears started rolling.  If I had the patience to home school, I would probably be tempted to keep her home.

Saturday marked the start of our fall soccer season, and Emma's first "official" soccer game.  I think she will be following in her brother's footsteps. She seems to have more of an interest in soccer than cheerleading, which seems odd considering how she is such a girly-girl.  Mommy and Daddy don't mind though.  We encourage our children to participate in team sports, but prefer to let them decide which sport they enjoy more.

September 6, 2013

Products We Love: Ouidad Color Sense Collection

After years and years of having my hair highlighted, I decided to try something new.  My natural hair color is a darker brown, so I thought the Ombre' look would be a great way to darken my hair up while still keeping some blonde.  One of my biggest concerns is prolonging the life of the dark hair color.  Often times we get our hair colored and a few weeks later the nice color we started with has faded to something totally different.  My other concern was that the blonde portion tends to look more dried out and frizzy.

I am happy to share Ouidad hair care products with you!  Ouidad has an excellent hair care system that helps to preserve your hair color, allowing your color to last longer before fading.  Now, I am sure your thinking the same thing I thought, isn't Ouidad for curly hair? Let me tell you, my hair is as straight as it gets and this line works amazing!  Of course, Ouidad will still work wonders on curly hair.

Here are before and after pictures (sorry about the lighting). You can see a difference just from using the products one time.  The Color Sense Collection removes product build up that can leave your hair looking dull and lackluster, brightens, and smoothes.  The frizziness on the ends look much smoother and softer, blending together much more naturally than they had in the Before picture.

To properly use these products, allow the conditioner to set for about 3 minutes before rinsing.  Once a week, follow up with the Shine Boosting Color Extender.  Allow the Extender to set for about 10 minutes before rinsing, then style as usual.

Color Preserving Shampoo
  • Key Benefits
      • Gently removes mineral deposits and product buildup that can strip color
      • Provides a shield against fading from UV exposure and styling
      • Hair is instantly hydrated, healthy and vibrant
      • Sulfate free
    • Ingredient Benefits
      • Proprietary Color Lock Complex, including Beta Carotene and Lycopene, contains broad spectrum, plant based sun filters which help affix color to the hair fibers and shield against fading due to UV exposure and styling
      • Weightless layer of antioxidants protects against dehydration for healthy looking, radiant curls
    • Directions
      • Gently massage through wet hair
      • Never bunch or scrub hair while shampooing as this weakens hair, leading to frizz
      • Rinse thoroughly and follow with Color Sense™ Color Preserving Conditioner
    • Price
      • $20 for 8.5 fl. oz.

    Color Preserving Conditioner
    • Key Benefits
      • Protective Color Lock complex affixes color to hair fibers and provides a shield against fading from UV exposure and styling
      • Nourishes and replenishes hydration to help keep hair healthy looking and soft
      • Sulfate free and silicone free
    • Ingredient Benefits
      • Lycopene - provides natural UV protection in addition to fighting free radical damage and preserving healthy hair cells
      • Beta Carotene – a component of Vitamin A that improves hair health by activating cell renewal that keeps scalp healthy and enables the growth of thicker, fuller hair 
      • A blend of Apricot Oil and Honey replenish moisture and strengthen hair, both are rich in antioxidants to protect hair color from free radical and environmental damage
    • Directions
      • Apply in sections.  Comb through clean, wet hair using a wide tooth comb, starting at the ends of hair and working toward the scalp
      • Leave in hair for 3 minutes, then rinse
    • Price
      • $22 for 8.5 fl. oz.

    Shine Boosting Color Extender
    • Key Benefits
      • Instantly creates a high gloss finish that lasts for days
      • Extends life of hair color
      • Protects from UV and styling damage
      • Sulfate-free and silicone free
    • Ingredient Benefits
      • Proprietary blend of Crambe Abyssinica and Apricot Seed Oils protects and extends the life of color while creating a lightweight, high gloss finish
      • Color Lock Complex, composed of broad spectrum, plant based sun filters, seals in color and shield from damaging UV exposure
    • Directions
      • Apply to wet hair, distributing evenly from roots to ends
      • Leave on for 10 minutes
      • Rinse completely and style as usual
      • Use once per week for optimal color preservation and shine
    • Price
      • $26 for 5 fl. oz.
    Ouidad products can be purchased online at, Ouidad Flagship stores, and local Ulta beauty stores.

    September 3, 2013

    Back-to-School Photo Shoot Ideas

    Over the Labor Day weekend, Emma and I went on our FIRST EVER photo-shoot. When I say first ever, it was my first official time preparing and taking pictures for the sole purpose of shooting her Kindergarten pictures, and Emma's first time actually going to a location just so I could take her pictures.  

    Although some of the images are blurry, I think we had a great time and I was able to find out where my strength's and weaknesses are.  There will definitely be more practice before I would feel comfortable shooting for anyone outside of the family.

    Here are a few things I considered before we headed out.

    Weather and Timing: Outside photo's always look great, so we had to choose the day with the best weather.  It's also wise to plan your shoot in the morning or evening hours when the sun is not at it's brightest.  Fortunately we were in a shady area for most of the pictures so I had to work with the dappled sun coming through.

    Inspiration: There is so much inspiration on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to really get the ideas going.  If your planning on doing any photo shoot's in the near future, take a look at these three great sites to help spark your creativity.  Consider the season, area's around you and what they have to offer, what do you want to capture or portray in your images, and how many subjects will be in the photo's?  This can help narrow down your list of idea's.  Jot down of the different poses you would like to achieve.

    Rhonna Designs App:  Many people are using chalk board signs to show the school grade, date, and even school name.  Since I didn't think of this until last minute I used the Rhonna Designs App on my iPhone to create an image.  There are probably many different Apps you can use, or even PicMonkey if you prefer to create something on the computer.  Once I had perfected the image, I emailed it to myself and was able to pull it up on the iPad.  Save to your camera roll. Pull up the image and wait a second for the screen display to disappear so you only have your image.  ** I still have to figure out how to remove the glare from the screen, and change out the iPad screen protector so that there aren't bubbles on the screen. 

    Photo Props:  Thinking back, I would have liked to have taken the image below of Emma on the quilt her Grandma made for her when she was born.  She probably would have preferred it too, over the itchy grass!  Consider if you have something sentimental or maybe an heirloom item that might work well in the pictures.  This is also a great idea if you are planning on sending any pictures to family members that may have given you the items.

    It's not too late to get out and take those back to school pictures.  Just make sure that you plan ahead so that you have your ideas together and the little one's don't get distracted, and make sure you pack all of your necessary photo prop's.