Monday, December 12, 2016

Lights At Saluda Shoals Park

On Saturday we went to go see the lights at Saluda Shoals Park! It was freezing BUT I think that added to the experience. It felt really cozy especially after grabbing a hot chocolate & cider. I wish they provided mulled wine, but then again I'm a gluhwein {German mulled wine} junkie. We were starving after we had gotten there, there weren't too many options for food. I think they would of made a killing if they served stew or chili that night.

Since we were starving we decided smores was the way to go! They had a really neat huge fire pit to roast your marshmallows. It was really cute!

It was fun as a photographer to experience something like this. It was near dark everywhere! Obviously... because you want to be able to see the gorgeous lights! It was fun finding the light to take photos in. Noise {the specks in photos caused by conditions being really dark} in photos has a tendency to make me freak out. Which is utterly ridiculous, because noise is so natural to photography, while you should try to reduce it as much as you can you should also just let it happen so you can bring out details when it is dark outside.

For the bottom pictures I really couldn't decide which I like better, it being in color or not so I added both! For this shot, trying to find light, I put her next to a Christmas decoration haha! I love how it turned out, so moody and gorgeous! 

Seeing Santa at Saluda was amazing, he was amazing! It is always so cute to see all the kiddies nervous to meet the jolly man himself. They said no personal photos, which as a mom sucks, but as a photographer I completely understand. We did end up buying a sheet of Roo looking adorable next to Santa! 

We decided to go on their train through the lights. Which was a great was just so cold. SO cold. It was fun though. The kids really seemed to enjoy seeing the lights from the train rather from the car window where you kind of have restricted amount of ways to look at the lights.

Overall, it was a fun experience! I definitely miss going to Busch Gardens for their Christmas stuff when we lived up in Virginia, I think that whole experience spoiled me. I miss the shows. The ballet. The hot cocoa. Leftover Thanksgiving sandwiches. Also seeing Santa there. Saluda was definitely something fun to do that was close to home though!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Perfect Crinkle Cookie Recipe

I have tried many different ways to make crinkles since I got married. I have finally found the one & the only. The only way to make them. I am usually a healthy person, and these are definitely not healthy. I'll be trying out a gluten free version later this season, but this is the one I make my family & friends, I hope you enjoy! 

The Perfect Crinkle Cookie Recipe 

1 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder by Hershey (Packed)
2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of mild taste olive oil
4 large eggs room temperature
2 teaspoons pure bourbon vanilla extract (natural vanilla works as well)
1 cup bittersweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips
2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup of confectioners' sugar  

Mix together cocoa powder, sugar, & oil in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring as you go. Then add vanilla & chocolate chips, stir until well combined. 

In a separate large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. 

Slowly add the flour mixture into cocoa mixture, stirring as you go with a wooden spoon. I usually do it by thirds, because at the end it will be very hard to stir! 

Cover mixture and chill for 5 hours or overnight. If you want them done asap, you can also put it in the freezer for a hour and freeze in between batches. 

Preheat oven to 350. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a small high bowl add confectioners sugar. Roll dough into balls, around 2 inches. Coat each ball in confectioners sugar, making sure to cover each well! When in doubt add more! Place them on cookie sheets.
Bake in oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool.

If you are true chocoholic like I am...enjoy after cooling for 2 minutes, it is amazingly decadent!

Store cookies once completely cooled in covered Tupperware! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Long Holiday Weekend

What a great long weekend! I am so sad that it is over. We really got in the Thanksgiving/Christmas mood over the weekend, far more collectively than we ever have. It was amazing and I wish I could hit the rewind button. 

Iphone photo

My daughter had Wednesday off from school so we decided to go have a mama & daughter date. We were supposed to see the 3D version of Trolls at what I thought was 10:30AM, but I read the time wrong. Apparently they decided to show a 3D kids movie at 10:30PM...anyways, we decided to stop by Books-a-Million and grab some festive drinks and look for Christmas Presents while we waited for the next available movie time. It was so much fun looking through all their cute holiday stuff with her! It makes me so happy she flips out as much as I do over Harry Potter & Disney stuff.

The movie was too stinkin cute! I could seriously go watch it again. I loved the music! There are so many great movies out this year. I think whatever money we had leftover from Christmas presents has gone straight to our local movie theater.

We started off Thanksgiving morning with biscuits, coffee, & mimosas while we watched the amazing Thanksgiving parade. Why can't every morning start that way?! It was so nice! The only thing was missing was my daughter because she spent the night (probably getting spoiled haha!) at my mother-in-laws.

We spent Thanksgiving at my mother-in-laws house! It was so nice seeing everyone, especially my adorable niece & nephew! They always make me swoon.

My daughter has done that growing thing again. Moms know what I'm talking about! You blink your eyes and suddenly they are a few inches taller and just all around feel more grown up. That is where I was at. Luckily before I turned into a hot mess, because I cry at things like that at a drop of a hat haha, she cuddled with her stuffed animal Zero & made a silly face. It reminded me she is still little and has a long way to go.

After we enjoyed our meal and talked with family for a bit, we headed over to the theater to go see Moana! Which was amazing! What a cute movie, highly recommended to those with littles.

Saturday night was a dream! After we put up Christmas lights outside, we all cuddled around the fireplace and watched clayamation movies. All my candles were lit, the Christmas tree was a'glow, and adults had hot glasses of gluhwein. It was perfect! If I dare think about it too long I bet I would once again turn into a hot mess! It was just so warm & fuzzy, everything Christmas is truly about, I couldn't of asked for a more perfect night.

Well I hope everyone had a long, relaxing, & festive weekend! I know we did!

Monday, November 21, 2016

My {make ahead} Sweet Potato Casserole

My {make ahead} Sweet Potato Casserole   

4 as large as your face sweet potatoes

1/3 cup of coconut sugar
2 very unprofessional capfuls vanilla extract 
1/2 cup of original unsweetened cashew milk 
6 Tablespoons of butter melted
1 Tbsp pumpkin spice
Pinch of salt
Candied halved pecans
Mini Marshmallows

The night before you serve your casserole...

1} Preheat oven to 400

2} Place potatoes with skin in oven to roast for one hour or until soft (internally 200 degrees)
3} Cool
4} Peel skin off potatoes and place in big bowl
5} Smash potatoes with a potato masher
6} Add coconut sugar, vanilla, milk, butter, spice, & salt. Mix well. Taste, if not sweet enough add 1/4th cup of coconut sugar. Not creamy enough add 1 Tbsp at a time of melted butter at a time, tasting while going.
7} Spray oil on a med. square casserole dish and place mixture in dish
8} Place over night in fridge

Day of

1} Preheat oven 375

2} Place casserole dish in oven for 15 mins
3} Take out of oven
4} Sprinkle candied halved pecans on top (I add a lot for crunch so it is all personal preference)
5} Cover dish in mini marshmallow (this is also personal preference I say add the whole bag!)
6} Place in oven, turn on that oven light and sit in front of your oven. Marshmallows burn fast so remove once you get a nice golden brown on top! (about 10 mins)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Annual Mini Thanksgiving

I'm semi-finished decorating last week. I still want to stop at Target and see what I want to add to my collection. I'm still deciding on getting a third big tree, but I have a feeling that will have to wait a year (insert sad face here). I want one of the trees with the fake snow on it. Those are so beautiful!

My pups are always so curious to find out what I'm doing. SO nosy, I swear. There is always one peeking around the corner to see what I'm doing. It is even worse when I open the freezer because I give them frozen green beans as treats haha!

Is it just me or is it even easier to keep a clean house around the holidays? I don't mean that it doesn't become a mess, which it does, but cleaning it isn't so bad because I want to keep the house cozy. I just turn on daytime tv which is full of Holiday stuff right now and mindlessly get things done. Why can't it be like this all year long?! Great time of year to be productive though, so you burn through those high calorie feasts lol!

I don't always love cooking, but I DO love holiday cooking! Since we mostly go to relatives houses during Thanksgiving, it doesn't give me much of a chance to work on my culinary prowess. So we always have a specific day before Thanksgiving where I whip up my little family a semi-feast.I stick to the main plates, and I'm able to stick with my inflammation diet for my chronic illness. Which is nice, so I'm not experiencing an increase in pain for a week after eating.

I made everything wheat and dairy free (besides butter, because it doesn't seem to effect my body too much). Pamela's gluten free flours & cashew milk are my saviors! The biscuits, gravy, and mashed potatoes turned out so good, I can't stop eating the leftovers. I hadn't had a biscuit in over a year ( I love biscuits...) and being able to have one that was absolutely delicious made me so unbelievably happy.

I did make a turkey! I always get a pre-brined turkey (out of laziness haha!), herb butter under the skin, slathered in olive oil over the skin, and cook it Good Eats style! It never fails! Done within 4 hours, practically falling off the bone and crispy skin!

I did not get a picture of it because I didn't tuck the wings properly and it looked like it could of taken off in flight HAHA!

It was nice sitting down with my little family. My wife & I had wine and big platefuls of delicious food and my daughter stuffed herself on rolls & sprite (never fails). Then we went around the table sharing with one another what we are most thankful for. One thing was for sure, we are definitely thankful for each other and the joy we each bring to each others lives.

After we gorged ourselves on the delicious meal and my daughter with her rolls, we headed to the theater to see Fantastic Beasts. Which was not only fantastic, but also a fantastic way to end an amazing evening.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Delivering With Love

I love, love delivering my prints all pretty and done up...with a bow.
I blame my love for Christmas...

Prints are so important to me and my business. I love having something physical that I can deliver to my customers instead of being all digital. I also think it is important that they get prints from a professional lab first before going to a normal consumer lab. When going to a normal consumer lab you can see a decline in quality with the prints including the color, sharpness, contrast, and a wide range of other things. I want them (you) to get the quality of print your session is worth!
I want to deliver something that shows the hard work I put into a session and give my customers something they can be proud of.

How cute did those Christmas cards turn out?! I'm dying over here, over the cuteness and I had to get some for my own family.

It's not too late to have a session and get prints for the grandparents for a Christmas present! Christmas cards will also be available for full sessions for another 2 weeks!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Decorating With Joy

Despite the doom and gloom the past few weeks, the round of colds went around the house, & my chronic illness kicking me back down.... the house is full of that warmth I love this time of year! The decorations has made it our sanctuary as it always has around this time of year. Things can't be so bad if you are surrounded by twinkling lights, bath&body works winter plugins, & cuddling up to fight the cold, right?

I love tealights! LOVE LOVE LOVE. I go through many this season every year. I barely touch our light switches. My wife says downstairs is too dark, but pft I can barely see in the dark & I can see just fine ;] haha. Last year I found some on Amazon that light for 7 hours and they are reasonably priced because if you have ever bought tealights you know that their price tag can be hefty. 100 for $15 that last for 7 hours? Yes please! Watch their price because sometimes they go down to $10! You can find them here,

But yes, here is to be the crazy families who decorates in November! You guys are the real mvps!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Christmas Mini Session - The Roo

I had a very, very important session today! It was with my most favorite little girl & doggies ever! My ROO! & my Delilah! & my Ellie! Everyone was really cooperative, which was REALLY surprising. 

- Even though Christmas Minis are done, I will have Christmas Cards available for purchase if you book a full session! Please visit my website for more details -