Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

My two other halves

Happy Happy Halloween! Or if you're not so into Halloween - Happy Friday! See? There's always something to celebrate.

Halloween is a pretty cool holiday. It's not my top favorite (that's Christmas!!!!) but it is definitely in my top 5. Why? Well, lots of reasons! It kicks off the holiday season with a bang (Candy? Costumes? Cute kids in costumes?), you get to play dress up as an adult and it's acceptable, and you hopefully get to go to some parties!

OOOO! Quick joke! What comes before part B? Partaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!

Sorry. Actually, no I'm not, and those jokes aren't going anywhere. I am full of them!

Back to what I was saying - so Halloween usually comes with parties. Awesome parties! I never liked parties but now, as an adult, I have definitely gotten into CERTAIN parties. I love to host parties of the Birthday or dinner variety, and attending Halloween parties is certainly fun as well. These days, we tend to hit up the same parties.

My co-worker and close friend, Jamie, LOVES Halloween. She is the Halloween Queen to my Christmas Cookie. She throws a Halloween bash every year and when I say bash, I mean BASH! Now, I don't mean the parties rage on until the sun comes up (although, sometimes we're there pretty darn late!) or that the house gets so packed you can barely move. But Jamie has collected the solid group of awesome people and we all show up on Halloween to have a great time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Beautifully Bewitched: Engagement Session in Salem, MA!

This engagement session became one of my most fun and favorite session for a couple reasons - one was because we spent the day wandering around Salem, MA but also because the lovely lady in front of my camera was my cousin, Rachel! When she called me up to see if I would take her engagement photos with her now fiance, Cory, I immediately said, "yes, please!" I thought this would make a fitting blog as Halloween is this week!

First we headed to their alma mater, Salem State University, where they first met. I had been to the Salem State campus once before when looking at potential schools for my sister but definitely didn't get to see the spots Rachel and Cory haunted and wanted to revisit! We had a lot of fun using some of the classrooms and stairways as well as some outdoor spots! They even brought Brady, their little pup, along. He enjoyed the sights when not in front of the camera but I think he actually enjoyed posing right along with his mama and papa.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Repeat Offender: My Top 5 Wardrobe Essentials

Every girl's got 'em: the chosen few items in her wardrobe that she wears over and over and over and - okay, you get it.  We all fall in love with items - sometimes (most times for me) it's unexpected love. You pull on that pair of jeans at the store, they fit, so you buy them, no biggie. It's only 6 months later that you really feel like you found a magical pair of jeans because man, never ever before has a pair of jeans fit you this well. By then, it's been awhile since you bought them and now you're kicking yourself. You wish you knew months ago that these jeans were magical - you would have stocked up! Too late. It's no longer jeans season and they're nowhere in sight (or they changed their styles and even though you bought the SAME style and size, it just wasn't the same! This happened to me with Delias jeans)!

Yep! Those are the kind of essentials I'm talking about.  Here are my top 5 - straight out of my wardrobe!

1. Brown Leather Bow Belt (Target)
I've gone through two bow belts in the past year or so. The first I got at Ann Taylor Loft on sale but it didn't last long - the clasp was just a simple push pin sort of style and it quickly wore out the holes and stopped staying closed. I'd be at work and all it would take was me leaning the right way and POP - off goes the belt. Embarrassing. I found a replacement belt at Target and all is well in my world. I LOVE this belt. It goes with nearly everything and I wear it all the time. The Target belt, by Mossimo, is better quality than my previous one. It has much sturdier holes for the push pin piece behind the belt and I can tell it will last longer. The stitching helps (you can see it in the picture) and it is definitely made to last. Maybe it's the color - brown leather - or maybe it's just the cute bow. Either way, I wear this belt so much. It's one of the best belts I ever spent $15 on!

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Holt Family's Fall Portraits - Introducing Baby Daniel!

I've known Lori for years. She was one of the first friends I made in college my freshman year - we met when I joined Framingham State College's (now University) Right to Life League, a club for those who are pro-life and want to promote the message that every conceived baby deserves to live. It was a small club - hardly radical - and was mostly, a small group of loving people supporting each other. Lori was one of the members along with 4 or 5 others. Funny enough, I believe her husband, Sean, had been a member at some point as well! Obviously, they met in college as well. So meeting up with them to take some family photos along with newborn photos for their newest son was also like a little college reunion!

Lori and Sean have been the sort of friends that I don't get to see often but feel like they are very much a part of my life due to social media. Lori and I comment on each other's Facebook posts all the time and always seem to make sure we both know of each's other's friendship that way. While social media has its qualms, I do love that it keeps me connected to friends like Lori. She's not far away but we've both got busy lives. Things like Facebook help keep us connected for sure!

I have actually photographed Lori and Sean's daughter, Delaney, when she was a toddler and I still worked for a photography studio. Since then, Lori has always expressed interest in having me take their family portraits so I was so happy that we finally decided to do it upon Daniel's arrival and spend some time together with my camera.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oh, My Vintage: Capsule Vintage

I discovered Capsule Vintage the same way I discover a lot of my favorite places on the interwebs - Instagram. I didn't lie before - I love me some Instagram! A friend on my feed had posted about Capsule Vintage's special sale to help raise money for an adorable puppy named Oliver to get an expensive surgery. So hold the phone - I can help a precious pup AND get an awesome vintage dress while doing so? Well, how could I say no to that?

I visited the shop soon after seeing the promo and was so glad I did. I immediately knew I was in trouble - puppy fundraiser or not -  because WOW! I've visited a handful of vintage shops online, in person, and at flea markets but have never been as impressed as I am with Capsule Vintage's quality of inventory!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The World's Tiniest Portions: Sucre Sucre Miniatures

It's not uncommon for me to stumble upon something adorable and literally squeal out of delight. Hopefully, it is when I am safely at home and not in public but there have been times when others around me have raised an eyebrow or two at my joyful reactions. What can I say? If it's cute, I get excited. It's the little things.

Speaking of literal little things, I want to share an adorably awesome Etsy shop with the world. I found Sucre Sucre Miniatures while perusing Instagram (where else would I be?) and the moment I saw the teeny tiny macaroni and cheese necklace, my infamous squeal left me.

RIGHT? Look at the detail! I was amazed, I was enthralled, I was hooked, I WAS BUYING IT!

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. A little about the shop! Sucre Sucre Miniatures is run by the lovely Chelsea. She is based in Carmel, California, and apparently has Barbie doll hands. Kidding! Her hands are most likely human adult sized. No matter what size they are, they are full of pure magic! Chelsea, are you a wizard? Anyway, her work is down right works of art - in the tiniest form!

Luckily, Chelsea was having an awesome sale when I decided I deserved to buy me some yummy treat jewelry. The moment I saw the sale, though, I decided I was gonna go a little crazy and buy the entire store! Okay, I'm exaggerating. I didn't buy the entire store.

But I did get myself the necklace, adorable little donut magnets, a charm bracelet for me, and a charm bracelet for Red! I decided to make my own version of best friends bracelets and made my charm bracelet sweet themed and Red's savory! Clever? I thought so.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Comfort Food isn't Meant to Be Pretty: Luchen Kugel

So I think it's actually Lokshen Kugel but I have always written it as Luchen and growing up we always said wrote Luchen so get all angry at all me all you want but that's just how it's gonna be. Let's just call it Kugel from here on out and be friends, all right?

I've been a big big fan of Kugel for as long as I can remember. In fact, I am pretty sure Kugel is one of the first things I can remember cooking in the kitchen with my mother. It was definitely one of the first things I cooked by myself. And it is DEFINITELY one of my favorite and ultimate comfort foods. This is going to be a funny post because as far as foods go, nothing is more hilariously gross sounding and gross looking as Kugel - at least the way I make it. I considered prettying it up, but that wouldn't be authentic, would it? And it's not real comfort food unless it's just as it is - as it has ALWAYS been. So consider this like an episode of Extreme Makeover: Comfort Food Edition. What started as kind of gross blossoms into something beautiful.

Getting excited for the final reveal yet?

Anyway, I make Kugel the same way my mother and Bubbie did so I don't really know how I'd pretty it up. There are TONS of various Kugel recipes online. Some are made with potato (what?), some are made to be sweet with tons of cinnamon and sugar (whaaaaat?), but the one I am used to and the one I crave when I need some comfort food is made with egg noodles and a lot of other ooey gooey buttery things.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Poppy England: Adorable Stories You Can Wear!

How, oh how, did I live for 26 years without knowing about Poppy England

I learned about Poppy England from one of my fellow Instagrammers - the adorably quirky and dress-loving Kat Pachniuk, or dictiocanary. I was scrolling through my feed one day on my lunch break, as I always do, when BAM! I spot her post promoting her latest blog post, featuring Poppy England. 

I owe my new obsession to you, Kat! Cheers, girl! Thank you for bringing Poppy England into my life! From Kat's post, I ventured to the Poppy England website, where I immediately fell in love. Over and over and over. This happened repeatedly the more I perused their website. 

So wait. They design and print their own fabrics in-house and their clothes are made to follow a story about a girl named Poppy and her little pup? Love! 

Image courtesy of the Poppy England website
Hold the phone. You get a little storybook with your order that goes with your items? LOVE!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ModCloth: More Than Just an Online Store!

Hi, my name is Sara Lily and I’m a ModCloth addict. No duh, most would say to that declaration. What can I say? I love ModCloth. I visit the site constantly, have a lengthy love list, and often have those adorable periwinkle adorned boxes on my front steps when I arrive home at night.  I purchase from ModCloth often. Yes, they have clothes that are more up my alley than most department stores. But there is so much more to my love for ModCloth than that.

Customer Service
One of the things that stand out with ModCloth is their customer service. Sure, all online stores have customer service but there is just something about ModCloth’s customer service. Whether it is by chat, email, or phone, I have found the reps to be so fun, kind, and my experience has always been enjoyable. I may be upset when I call, but I always end up laughing and feeling better when I reach a rep – yes, an actual live person! Typically immediately upon dialing! Crazy, right? They’re just GOOD. I never hang up feeling more stressed than when I called. Trust me, have you ever tried calling your electric company? Mine has a recorded robot lady asking me questions and when I get THISCLOSE to being connected to a person, I cough accidentally and she starts over because she “does not understand my request.” NO! I just had a tickle in my throat! WAIT! Come back!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Anna's Senior Portraits at Ashland State Park

I met Anna and had her portrait submitted to her school all within 4 days. Right? It was a funny story, really! It was a Saturday morning when I got a call from her Mom, Sandra. Cody and I had finished breakfast, were hanging out on the couch, when my phone rang. Upon answering, I was greeted by the sweetest woman who was frantic. Her daughter's senior portrait was due to the yearbook and they hadn't gotten a chance to get them taken. Great, I thought, a possible new client!

"When can we meet and get to know each other to plan the session?" I asked, offering what I normally offer, which is to meet the client prior to them booking with me to get to know each other.

"The thing is," Sandra continued, laughing nervously, "the photo is due FRIDAY."

Well that changed things! Instead of meeting, we simply agreed on the details right then and there. Within an hour, we had a plan set and I would meet Anna the following morning for a couple hours to take her portraits.

"We just need ONE! We just need ONE photo to submit to the yearbook!" Sandra exclaimed. I could only imagine how nervous she felt, as the mother, about getting the right portrait of her daughter for the yearbook.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Awesomely for Autumn: Apple Cinnamon Muffins!

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As some of you might be aware - it's Fall here in New England! Gasp! Well, if you didn't know you sure do now. It's been 70 degrees and under for the past 3-4 weeks now. I think it's finally safe to say that summer has left the building! YES! I am definitely not a summer gal. I am more content in chillier climates with some sun, some clouds, some wind, and a lot less sweating.

I will miss dress weather. I have loved waking up and just choosing which dress to throw on. I mean, how could it get easier than that? Oh well! I suppose I will have to break out the wool thigh-highs, tights, and leggings to make it work. I will accept your challenge, New England Winter! I hear we have a doozy ahead of us.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's focus on the Fall. There are a lot of things folks love the fall here but some of the biggest are apple picking, pumpkin carving, boots, scarves, and, oh yeah, how can I forget those pumpkin lattes at Starbucks? I do not drink coffee so I have never experienced it but from what I hear it's "life." Oooookkkaaaayyy.

Anyway, last weekend my best friend Kaylyn (who I call Red and will probably call Red within this blog many times so get used to it!) succumbed to the Fall activity that is apple picking. We decided to find a new spot as a lot of the Massachusetts orchards are becoming quite the zoo and we've never been fond of crowds. A co-worker recommended a smaller orchard called Carver Hill Orchard. It's sandwiched between all the other popular orchards in Stowe, but has yet to get crazy. I love the Stowe area in Fall. It's like Las Vegas's strip, only for apple orchards. No strippers here, though, folks! Just apple cider donuts, which, in my opinion, are way sexier.

Inside Carver's adorable shop (photo courtesy of their website)