Monday, November 21, 2016

6 Tips to DIY Your Holiday Card Photo


It's the most wonderful time of the year! One of my favorite things about December is collecting the mail each day and pouring over the holiday cards that arrive from near and from far. My favorite are the cards with family pictures - so I always make sure that our family card has a current photo as well. Can I tell you a secret? We've never hired a professional photographer for any of our family photos. And, let me tell you, we've saved a bundle. Instead, we've opted to take our own photos. It's much less pressure as we can do it at our leisure, not having a set day or time. It also gives us instant access to the photos, so I can upload them and start designing a card right away.


Here are my top five tips for taking do-it-yourself (DIY) family photos...

1. Have your outfits selected.
When it's time to snap that photo, it's nice to have everyone already knowing what they're wearing (and having the colors compliment and not clash). I'm not an expert and certainly not a fashion blogger, but I did read somewhere that it's a good idea to start with one piece, and build the rest of the outfits from there. I purchased a new sweater for Parker (since neither Max nor I are growing and thus do not need new clothes, ha!). I then pulled clothing from my closet and Max's in the same colors from the sweater. I've also read that layers add dimension and interest to pictures, so I tried to incorporate those as well (though again, totally not a fashion blogger ;)

2. Front-load the little ones. 
Talk about the picture day with your children beforehand - what you'll be doing and what you expect of them. Bribe as needed :) Our little guy is easy, and the promise of his CD choice in the car (Adele) and his choice for lunch (Mexican) was enough to get his cooperation, but you know your kids best!

3. Assemble your supplies.
A tripod is key if you are DIYing. We set our SLR on a timer, and Max just clicks and runs, but you could also be fancy and use a wireless remote (which actually are quite inexpensive!).

4. Location, location, location.
When looking for a spot for the picture, think about light. You don't want direct sunlight as you'll have shadows and squinty faces. What you do want is diffused light. A cloudy day is perfect. Next best is a shady spot which also diffuses the sunlight. The "magic hours" (right after sunrise, right before sunset) also work but are much trickier as time is pressed and there is less overall light. Think also about background - the further away the backdrop, the more blown out it will be (the effect I love the most).

5. Strike a pose.
Peruse Pinterest beforehand and look for a family pose. One of the hardest things about DIYing your photo is not having a photographer to pose you/make you look your best. Think ahead about how you'll be sitting/standing. For us, I saw a sweet hand holding picture that I wanted to emulate.

5. Incorporate empty space.
Frame yourselves so that there is plenty of space around you. You'll appreciate the room to play once it's card time. For example, the photo below has ample space on the right side...


This makes it perfect for a card option like this one:



Tiny Prints makes the entire holiday card making process super easy - just upload your favorite photos from the day and choose one of their darling designs. Thank you to Tiny Prints for supplying our holiday cards this year! 


Friday, November 18, 2016

Love & Mexico

 

A few weeks ago, Max and I were able to sneak away on a mini vacation to Mexico! My sweet friend from college, Jamie, planned a destination wedding there at the end of October, and there was no way I was going to miss it! Mexico is also a special place for us as it's where Max whisked me away to after he proposed (almost exactly eight years ago!). Gigi came in from Dallas to stay with little man, so Max and I were traveling fancy free! Flying without a child? It's downright luxurious.

Faux Leather Backpack - perfect for flying!

We both belong to the Global Entry program which gives us TSA pre-check when going through security (I wrote about Global Entry here back in 2014). Y'all, if you are traveling anytime soon and don't have pre-check, get it now. In addition to allowing us to keep shoes and light jackets on, we get to also leave laptops inside our bags and enjoy an expedited line (and when Parker is in tow, he gets the perks as well). In short, we get the special treatment which I'm all about :) It gets even better when coming back into the U.S. and going through Immigration and Customs - Global Entry participants have individual computer kiosks to use, and also get expedited entrance. Immigrating back into the U.S. we were done in minutes. Score.


Mexico and my love! The wedding was held at an all-inclusive resort in Playa Las Mujeres, about 40 minutes north of Cancún. We'd never stayed at an all-inclusive before, and we were so happy to be greeted by name with fresh cold hand towels and champs.


All the special touches did not go unnoticed! We had fresh fruit and more champs left out in our room, and turndown service each night (my favorite!). The weather was on and off rainy - here I am below taking a respite from the showers with one of the swim towels.


I totally took advantage of the coffee shop's cappuccinos on all three mornings...


And the days were spent here...

...with drink service everywhere. I'm not sure I've ever had so many blended beverages. And they were fantastic :)




Happy Wifey.

Normally we'd be in the ocean - but it was red flag days the entire time we were there. Don't forget that the last time I was in Mexico, I got terribly sea sick on our dive boat, so I wasn't too keen on getting in choppy water anyway. I do miss scuba diving fiercely though - husby, take note ;)


Instead, there were books to be read, flowers to be adored, spa therapy to do - basically heaven on earth for two parents of a little one. 

And always more coffee.


Saturday evening was the wedding! Friday night was super windy and rainy, but come ceremony time the weather was perfect.


How heavenly does my beautiful friend Jamie look here with her dad?


The ceremony was heartfelt and I definitely shed a few tears. I've known the glowing bride for - wait for it - sixteen years. We met as freshmen in the dorms at UC Santa Barbara, and I can't even tell you how thrilled I am for her happily ever after.



Plus, I was there with this handsome date.

You know, my husband of seven years.

Us with the happy couple - Mr. and Mrs. Moss!

The reception overlooked the sunset on the water. Everyone was barefoot halfway through :) I splurged on a new Lilly dress for the occasion and it was worth every penny. Really, though, when isn't Lilly Pulitzer worth it? I absolutely adore every Lilly piece I own. They are well made, comfortable, and always flattering.


 After dinner we danced the night away!


Thank you to Jamie & Brandon for the fabulous idea of a destination wedding and a getaway for these happy parents! Our appreciation to Gigi as well for taking the best care of our little man while we were away. Adiós, México!


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Life Lately


Is it me, or is October the fastest month of them all? Followed closely by November, because oh my word, how is it almost Turkey Day?? 


Life lately - we are getting in all the walks, because the weather has been sublime. Warmer than usual, but perfect for outside fun. Our favorite walks include Starbucks, the park, the tennis courts, Taco Mama, Publix, and the downtown squares. Parker also loves off roading through the fall leaves and collecting his faves. 


I participated in Junior League's big fall project - Apple Annie Day. For my volunteer hours I not only packed apples, but also delivered them to the local schools! The Apple Annie official attire? Red tights and a denim skirt. I'm all about the dress-up, y'all :) 


I've also incorporated a new fitness love - group style Pilates!

That's me in the stripes participating in a special Junior League class, and below on another day. The studio is a new, small and local place located downtown, which means it's also walkable for me! Plus, it's darling to boot. I had never worked out on a reformer before, but ya'll, it's so much fun! I absolutely need the accountability and motivation of a group class, so it's pretty much perfect for me. It's set to music like Pure Barre, and very low impact like Pure Barre as well. 

Not that I've given up my beloved Pure Barre!

My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, and I started it bright and early with a 7 a.m. Pure Barre class! Bonus - I got to use the special pink birthday weights :)


After Pure Barre it was off to the Lyon Family Farm!


The day was cool and crisp, and just perfect. We followed the pumpkin farm with my favorite B&R ice cream cake, and the Melting Pot for dinner. It was Parker's first fondue experience and while he enjoyed the food, he said the restaurant was "too dark", lol.


Also, Starbucks was a must. Obvi. 


I love being an October baby - it's a festive time of year, which makes my birthday always seem so much more special. It's like all the pumpkins are just for me. That's silly, right? But I've heard March babies say the same thing about St. Patrick's Day, that it makes their birthday even more of a celebration :) 


And who else is all about the holiday festiveness? This guy right here. On a side note, he has become quite the little pianist! Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is his jam. He also has quite the imagination and stayed in character as a red dragon for days, not just on Halloween :) 


Hoping life has been just as great to you lately! 

Sunday, October 30, 2016

October-ing


Oh, October! You've were quite the odd one! Your trees said fall but your temperatures said summer


Also, you seriously went by in the blink of an eye.

We did get a few chilly days which prompted me to pack away all of Parker's shorts, only to unpack them a week later. At one point, the weather report actually said "You are going to need your entire wardrobe over the next few days!" as the highs were fluctuating by thirty degrees. Alabama weather, I still haven't figured you out. 


What have I figured out? Toddler activities, of course! And Parker is hip to this concept as well. The newly released If You Give a Mouse a Brownie arrived via Amazon this month. I heart Amazon. We opened the package and shortly after I had to hightail it to my barre class. While I was gone, Parker informed Dada that he and Mama would be baking brownies just like the book when I returned. So I had to oblige.


We made the same brownies that Max made for me from scratch while we were dating. At that time, I had never made brownies from anything but a box. I was smitten. Has he made me brownies (or any other baked good) since then? Well, no. The wooing is over. But he did pass on his mom's recipe:

(from the Helen Corbitt cookbook)

Ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter
4 oz. bitter chocolate
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
With a spoon, slightly beat eggs; add sugar and stir. Add melted butter and chocolate. Mix flour & salt and add to butter mixture. Add vanilla and stir until blended. Pour into well buttered 9x13 pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 

Add a three-year-old and your kitchen will be covered in flour :) On a side note, P loved the book. It also makes a great present since it's a new release and most likely not already in the recipient's home library!

We did the sweetest craft to accompany Five Little Pumpkins, an old favorite from my days as a teacher. I just had Parker go to town stamping orange handprints, which he was all about. With a three year old, the messier the better. Then I used markers to make them into jack-o-lanterms. Voilà! I heart October.

There were festive outfits to be worn...

And more crafting to be done...

And what better time to get a teeth cleaning than right before Halloween??

We enjoyed the (very few) cool breezy days - Parker was obsessed with the falling leaves.

And I was obsessed with this library book :) 

Add in some Pure Barre and you have a perfect October day :) 

Wishing you all the colors of the rainbow! 


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