Valentine’s Day Portraits

Since the Valentine’s Day mini sessions ended up being a bust (I booked a big fat ZERO sessions despite my various marketing efforts), Larisa and I decided to take our kiddos out last weekend for their own special Valentine’s Day portraits. While I’m disappointed that I apparently can’t even give my work away for practically free right now (the mini sessions were a REALLY great deal – maybe I was giving away too much), it was really fun to take The Princess out for a portrait session. Sasquatch and Sparky were in Utah (keep your fingers crossed that his new business takes off soon), so it was just me and The Princess at home and we needed to get out of the house.

Here are a few of the Valentine-themed portraits that we did for the Valentine cards she’ll hand out at her class party. Which reminds me – I need to make a final decision on which design we’re using and get the order sent to the lab.

I’m playing around with various vintage looks – the goal is to develop an editing style that’s instantly recognizable as “mine.” Larisa and I were talking over the weekend. As much as I LOVE the bright, humorous, FUN style of so many child photographers, it’s not really “me.” So I’m trying to find a niche that really is me and makes me more marketable as an artist.

DSC_8772blue DSC_8777atextureThe morning shade made it absolutely freezing in this wind tunnel of a stairwell, but she was such a good sport about the entire ordeal. We walked over to Starbuck’s afterwards for a hot chocolate. That’s right – I’m not above a little bribery to get nice portraits of my own children.

DSC_8798blueray  I can’t decide if I like this image better in black and white or “vintage,” so I’m sharing both.

DSC_8801bwDSC_8801poolDSC_8804fadedI absolutely adore the combination of these shoes and tights and felt that they deserved to be featured in a picture all by themselves.

DSC_8844vintageAfter the hot chocolate break, the weather warmed up considerably. We found a couple fantastic urban areas and created some tutu portraits which I’ll share later in another blog post. 


Finally Got “The Shot”

When it comes to wall art, I feel like certain things need to be balanced. One of the reasons there are currently no portraits on my walls is because I have favorite wall portraits of The Princess, but no coordinating prints of Sparky.

One of my favorite images of The Princess was taken when she was about 9 months old and I was experimenting with my studio lights for the first time. She was sitting up, but didn’t know how to crawl, so she wasn’t mobile yet (as a sidenote: this is the very best age for photographing babies!). I surrounded her cute little bare body with lots of white tulle and placed a long strand of pearls around her neck. At one point, Sasquatch walked into the room, and she leaned forward just a little bit with the cutest “I love my daddy” smile on her face. That was the first time I felt like I captured “the shot” with one of my own children. Of course I had to have a wall portrait created. I don’t have the file on my computer at the moment, so there’s no way to share the image in this post, but most of you probably remember the image.

The print has never made it onto my wall since we moved out of our house in Stansbury Park. After we moved from that house, we never seemed to stay in one place long enough for our walls to be decorated. Since we’ve moved here, it seemed unfair to have a “shrine” of portraits to one child, while not having any large portraits of our other daughter on the wall. So for a while, we waited for me to capture a similar image of Sparky. The image was finally captured a few months ago, but for some reason, I’ve never had the wall portrait printed. My goal is to take care of that this week. This image has been shared on the blog before, but here it is again. It’s not an exact match of The Princess’ 9 month picture, but they’ll look cute on the wall together. (It looks a bit red on here, so I think I might fix the color a bit before sending it to the lab).

PosterSmaller While living in Stansbury Park, our breakfast nook had AMAZING light. I captured a beautiful series of images of The Princess while she was standing on our kitchen table. I printed a 16X16 wall portrait of one of my favorite closeups, and while going through boxes a few weeks ago, I unearthed it again. Since then, the challenge has been to capture a similar closeup of Sparky. This is no small feat, because Sparky absolutely refuses to look at the camera. If she’s looking in the general direction of the camera, she’s running at full steam with hands outstretched to touch the lens before I pull the camera away.

The fates smiled on me the other day – we had good light in our loft upstairs (I think I only had to set the ISO to 800 – thank goodness for a camera that performs well in low light!), and Sparky was in a particularly cooperative mood. I finally managed to capture a closeup that I like.  Hopefully Sasquatch will be willing to help me get some art up on the walls once the new prints arrive later this week.

8554bwI’m sharing this last image just because I think it’s cute. Since the intention was to create a black and white print, I used the pink blanket as a backdrop because it wouldn’t matter with a black and white image. During post processing, I decided that I loved this particular image in color. It’s so rare to capture her looking at the camera with a happy expression on her face, that I may decide to get this one printed large, too.




I’ve wanted to create a silhouette wall in my house for quite a while, but never got around to taking pictures of the girls to make it happen. I finally captured a good shot of each of them, and I’m so excited to share these! Aren’t they adorable?!?! Now we just need a silhouette of Sasquatch and me, and maybe we can actually get some framed art on our living room walls.

I’m still debating on when to create a silhouette of Sasquatch – right now, his hair is down to his shoulders because he’s growing it out for Locks of Love again. It can’t hurt to take a picture and see if his silhouette looks weird with long hair (I like his hair long, but I don’t know how it will look in a blacked-out silhouette) – if it does, his hair should be long enough to cut pretty soon. Do you think the damask background works for all of us, or should I find something more masculine for Sasquatch’s silhouette?

The goal will be to create a new silhouette of everyone each January. It should be fun to see how much the girls change each year.




New Favorites from Last Autumn

I was digging through some old files to find a sample image for a client, and I came across a couple of snapshots of the girls that I really like. I need to get better about organizing my files – I’m sure I’ve “lost” a lot of great images of the girls because I never took them out of my client folders.




2009 Recap

I have to be honest here – I’ve totally stolen these questions from my friend Ashlee’s blog.

1.What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? I did a lot of cooking and baking that I’d never attempted before. It was neat to discover that I actually enjoy doing both. It was also pretty cool to discover how much better baked goods turn out when you don’t live at a high altitude.

2.What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? I would LOVE to have a second car. It would be so nice to have the option to pack up the girls and go to playgroup or the park without having to make special arrangements.

3.What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory? I don’t know that there’s anything specific – the trip to Colorado over the summer was wonderful, and it was great having Grandma Rosie come visit. The year was pretty uneventful for the most part.

4.What was your biggest achievement of the year? Probably that whole learning how to cook and bake thing. I’ve also gained confidence in myself as an artist – it hasn’t made the lack of bookings any easier, but at least I’m not doubting my abilities as a photographer any longer.

5.What was your biggest failure? I’ve really been struggling to have faith that Heavenly Father has a reason for us being out here, and that he’s going to make sure there’s a way for us to provide for our family.

6.Did you suffer illness or injury? Nothing major. I caught a cold about a week before Christmas and I’m still dealing with the cough and accompanying rib pain. Super fun. The girls managed to stay healthy for the most part – I definitely don’t miss the inversion and the resulting respiratory illnesses that happen in Utah each winter.

7. What was the best thing you bought? We didn’t buy much of anything this year. The deterioration of image quality in my old camera forced me to buy a new camera with some of our tax return. I was able to get the D700 and I LOVE it!!

8. What behavior merited celebration? The generosity of our families this Christmas was really amazing.

9. What behavior made you appalled and depressed? It’s depressing that Sparky still doesn’t sleep through the night (or at least doesn’t go to sleep until about 2AM) most nights. At some point, we’ll get her out of our closet and into her own room, right? 

10. Where did most of your money go? Groceries, bills, diapers. Nothing exciting.

11. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I’m trying to be happier, more faithful, and more optimistic. b) thinner or fatter? Probably about the same. We need to get generally “healthier” as a family c) richer or poorer? About the same – although that’s not saying much. :)

12. What do you wish you’d done more of? Appreciate the little things, and spent more time playing with my children.

13. What do you wish you’d done less of? Waste time on the computer and television.

14. How did you spend Christmas? We had a very quiet Christmas at home as a family. We talked to family on the web cam, but I hope this year we’ll be able to spend time with family members in person.

15. Did you fall in love in 2009? I fall more in love with my husband and children every day.

16. What was your favorite TV program? (See question 13). “Good Eats” is always a family favorite. I was happy that my favorite won on ANTM, although I almost can’t watch it any more because Tyra is so dang annoying.  “Lie to Me” was pretty good this year, and I don’t think they gave “Dollhouse” enough of a chance.

17.Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I try not to hate anyone. I actually read a really good talk by President Monson over the holidays, and I’m trying really hard to genuinely let go of all of my past grudges.

18. What was the best book you read? “The Lovely Bones.” It was so beautifully written!

19. What was your greatest musical discovery? Owl City - “Fireflies” is getting pretty overplayed, but he has some other really great music, too.

20. What did you want and get? A new camera.

21. What did you want and not get? A lot of things – I feel like I have way too many “wants” right now, and I’m trying to figure out a way to be satisfied with what I have.

22. What was your favorite film of this year? The Blind Side

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 28 this year. I was in Colorado with the girls. We went to a street fair type thing and had dinner at Costa Vida (I miss that place!).

24. What one thing would have made your year better? Being closer to family and friends “out West.” Not owing anything to Sallie Mae. :P

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I’m a very “wash and wear” jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. I dream of having the budget for a vintage Anthropologie-esque style. Maybe one of these years…

26. What kept you sane? My husband’s never-ending faith.

27. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most: Nobody, really.

28. What political issue stirred you the most? Healthcare – I’m really worried about what’s going to happen to our healthcare premiums with all these requirements being forced onto insurance companies.

29. Who did you miss? Too many people to mention anyone specifically. My parents, siblings, and in-laws definitely top the list, though.

30. Who was the best new person you met? I met a lot of great new people in 2009. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings by leaving anyone out, so I’m not going to name names. :)

31. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009: As difficult as it may seem, it is actually feasible to survive without having family members nearby. Our little family has really been forced to learn how to support and rely upon each other in the last year. As lonely as it is sometimes, it’s still been a good experience to learn how to be our own little family.


Christmas Miracles

There are so many things that I want to say about our Christmas. I’m not sure where to begin.

Suffice it to say that my family was extremely blessed to have a number of angels in our lives this year.  Santa wasn’t sure how he was going to provide the girls with much of anything besides dollar store gifts. He had actually decided to just give one or two gifts to The Princess and leave Sparky out of the gift giving, but he was worried that The Princess would notice that Sparky didn’t receive anything.  He was also worried that The Princess would notice that she didn’t receive any gifts from Dad and Mom if Santa delivered all the gifts. This was beginning to cause Santa a lot of stress.

December ended up being a month of small miracles. Various family members contacted me to say that their Christmas wish this year was for my girls to have a nice Christmas. They asked me what the girls wanted, as well as what they needed. Soon, the nice people from UPS and USPS began to deliver packages to my door. I was told to choose which items came from Santa, which items came from Sasquatch and me, and which items came from family members. Not only did my girls receive some fun toys, games, and art supplies, they also received various necessities such as jammies, tights (The Princess loves wearing skirts to school, and all of her tights were a couple of sizes too small), socks, and shoes. Those of you who helped us – I can’t tell you how nice it was for The Princess to have nice warm jammies (her room is freezing for some reason), tights, and new shoes.

There are a few close friends here with whom I’ve shared some of my worries (I’m so sorry if I’ve dwelt on it too much in conversations – I’m working on that for the new year), but I didn’t think I had specifically mentioned Christmas to anyone. I really tried not to – especially since I knew our families were going to be helping us. Well, a few days before Christmas, a member of the bishopric came to our house to deliver a package of wrapped gifts for our family (for the girls as well as for Sasquatch and me). I was out running an errand at the time, and when I came home, Sasquatch sent The Princess to her room (after informing her that she was not in trouble), because he had an idea of what my reaction would be when he showed me what had arrived. He was right – he showed me, and I instantly burst into tears.

It was kind of a strange night. I was soooooooo grateful that someone had thought of us at Christmas. But at the same time, I felt an awful lot of guilt. For one thing, we had already received some help from family. And for that reason, I felt certain that there was someone else in the ward who could have surely used the items more than we could.

To be honest, it also felt kind of strange to be the person who needed to be on the receiving end of someone else’s kindness.  I guess it’s one thing when that kind of help comes from family – you still have a sense of anonymity when it’s your family helping you out. But when the help is coming from an anonymous outside source, all of a sudden, you realize that maybe your struggles aren’t quite as private as you thought. I guess there was a sense of embarrassment along with the guilt. I was also racking my brain trying to figure out if I had told anyone about my Christmas worries specifically – I felt so bad that I had put that burden on somebody else. But I couldn’t think of anyone I’d told.

After a while, I called my mom to ask her if she’d called my bishop. I knew she was worried about us, and knowing my mom, she wouldn’t be scared to call my bishop (I had already told her that with the family helping us out, we were “covered” for Christmas, lol). She told me that while she’d considered calling him, she hadn’t actually called him. I began to tell her about the guilt I was feeling (that whole idea that there was someone out there who maybe could have used the help more than us), and she reminded me that my willingness to accept the gifts that we’d received was allowing someone else to have the blessings that come with serving somebody else. Sasquatch told me that maybe part of the reason we had been chosen to receive the gifts was because Heavenly Father wanted to remind me that we are not alone or abandoned living out here without any family members nearby – as much as I sometimes allow myself to feel that way.

Another reason that I felt guilt (for the known and unknown givers) is because I have been tormented by a missed opportunity for service a few years ago. While Sasquatch was in school, we went to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. During the concert, I received a very strong impression that there were a couple of families who could use our help during that Christmas season. Since we were living on student loans and my full-time income from the U of U at the time, we had a bit of “expendable” income. Not a lot, but enough to provide Christmas for The Princess and help out these other families that I had in mind without putting any debt onto our credit card.

Well, I had this concern about how to keep the whole thing anonymous. I didn’t want to feel bad if the money (I felt the need to donate money rather than gifts) was used for something other than Christmas, and I didn’t want to feel bitter if our kindness was never acknowledged. (it’s so embarrassing  for me to admit that – I now realize that I was not willing to give out of the kindness of my heart to those particular families at that particular time, and it haunts me to this day). I wanted to keep it anonymous so my feelings wouldn’t be hurt. But I could never figure out how to do that and make sure that the money was safely received by the families rather than by somebody else (I didn’t really feel that I could put an envelope on the doorstep and leave it there for them to find). Like I said, I was working a (very stressful) full-time job in a pediatric clinic at the time, and before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone, and I’d never offered the service I felt so strongly prompted to offer.

This missed service opportunity has made it so much harder for me to accept the amazing service that we have received this year. It makes me feel that much less worthy to receive it. At the same time, it’s made me so grateful that there are people in the world who care enough about my family to want to make sure that we had a wonderful Christmas experience this year. I have promised myself that if Heavenly Father decides to bless my family with greater financial means in the future, I will be helping my girls to provide Christmas for someone else in need every year that we can possibly make it happen. It’s also given me a very strong desire to help people throughout the year, rather than just at Christmas time. I don’t have the means to do much right now (it’s hard to even get out there and help people when you only have one car), but as soon as I do, I’ll be helping as much as I possibly can.

To all those (known and unknown) who helped ensure a truly beautiful Christmas for my family this year, I just want to publicly thank you. The clothing provided by the anonymous givers was so absolutely needed by all of us, and the girls enjoyed their toys as well. And to my family members, well, I know I’ve told you thank you a few times already, but I just need to say it again. The clothing and the gifts were amazing. I can’t wait to start sharing videos of the girls (although Sparky seems to have an innate sense of when the camera is turned on and stops doing whatever cute thing she was doing at the time), and I’m beyond excited to find some recipes to try with my new dutch oven (I’m thinking I might try some sort of braised short ribs if they go on sale soon).

I feel bad that I didn’t take any pictures of the girls opening gifts on Christmas. We were a bit preoccupied with separating out the gifts from Santa and from family (family gifts were being videotaped and Santa gifts were being set aside for a web cam with Grandpa & Grandma Clover and Shayne & Erin), and my current illness decided to catch up with me in full force that day. The combination of excessive coughing and sitting on the hard floor wrapping gifts the night before had caused one of my ribs to slip, and I was in too much pain to do much of anything, let alone take pictures.

Here are the few pictures I managed to capture from that day. Sparky still refuses to look at the camera, so I don’t really even try with her right now because I just get frustrated. It was really rainy that day, which made our house was too dark to get any “action” shots of her and I had no intentions of messing with the flash when I was feeling generally awful. The Princess was willing to give me a Christmas morning bedhead shot at the kitchen table.


Here’s a shot of the kitchen window on Christmas morning. I love the combination of the raindrops and the pretty colors in the background.

Window01After the girls went to bed that night, I spent some time blog surfing and came across The Pioneer Woman’s blog post about Christmas bokeh. I felt inspired to create some bokeh shots of my own.




Finally, if I didn’t have a chance to mail you one of our Christmas cards (I really had to limit the number I mailed this year), I’d like to share our family’s Christmas card with you. Hopefully our situation will be a bit better this year and I’ll be able to make yummy press-printed cards to send to everyone. :) I’ve had a few people tell me that we look sad in this image, but I think we just look serious – and at least Sparky’s in the frame and not screaming – that was the best we could hope for this year. I love the backlighting on our hair. The names at the bottom have been changed for the blog. ;)



Random Christmas Snapshots

I was going to do several blog posts highlighting our various Christmas activities, but as usual, time got the better of me. Since one of my New Year's resolutions is to be a better blogger (on both my personal and photography blogs), I figure better late than never, right? So if you feel like reading a novel, grab some cookies and hot chocolate (unless your New Year's resolution is to start a diet, in which case, I guess you can grab some carrot sticks) and sit back and read for a bit. Otherwise, there will be a bunch of pictures, so feel free to scroll at will. ;)

We had an amazingly blessed Christmas this year - so much more than I ever could have hoped. Even though I missed our extended family desperately, I felt like they were here with us this year in so many ways.  And while it was difficult to not have any grandparents or cousins around to share in the Holiday traditions, it also forced us to enjoy our own little family and create some new traditions for ourselves.

Due to a number of various factors, we spent a lot of time at home this December. I debated putting up the tree, because I was worried that a certain busy little toddler would spend her days removing the ornaments. I was right – Sparky was entranced by the lights for about 1 millisecond before she noticed the various baubles adorning the tree. She spent the next 3 weeks removing every ornament she could reach and hiding them in various cubby holes around the house. The closer we got to Christmas, the higher the ornaments were being placed on the tree to prevent her from removing them yet again. This caused the tree to look very imbalanced both in color (I like my ornaments placed just so to ensure that there aren’t too many ornaments of one color in any given place) and ornament placement. However, I was glad that we put the tree up – it just wouldn’t have felt like Christmas without it.

I didn’t manage to get a full-length shot of the tree that I liked this year. We put it in front of the window, but it’s such a wide window that there are two sets of blinds as window coverings, and I couldn’t get a shot without the funny blinds and the bookcase in the background. Here are a couple of “detail” shots, though.  Next year, if finances permit, I’d LOVE to get a white tree – I think my candy-colored ornaments would really POP against a white backdrop.



It was so much fun to have a mantle this year. It was a great place to display the nativity sets that my mother-in-law has given me over the years. We also used the mantle to display the Christmas cards we received in the mail (The Princess LOVED going to the mailbox each day in the hopes that we had received another card). Next year, I’d like to get some more of the sparkly, candy-colored snowflake ornaments like the ones on my tree and make a garland to decorate the mantle – I’m thinking I want to go all Winter Wonderland next year. 


I did a lot of baking this year – both with a good friend (we delivered plates of goodies to some friends – something that I’ve always enjoyed doing with my mom and was glad to be able to do again this year) – and with The Princess. I’m still learning how to relinquish control and my need for perfection when I bake with The Princess. I’m still a work in progress, but I think I’m getting better. I’m trying to tell myself that she’ll never learn how to measure/stir/pour/etc correctly unless I actually give her a chance to do rather than just observe.

This year, we baked homemade gingerbread to make gingerbread houses. I learned that I don’t like the smell of molasses (somehow, I’d always thought it would smell sweeter – it reminded me of Mr. Yoshida’s sauce – which is fine for cooking savory food, but not what I was expecting when I was baking something sweet). But when the gingerbread came out of the oven, the house smelled heavenly. I think I’m going to bake gingerbread every year.

The whole point of making gingerbread rather than buying a kit was to save money. We had plenty of leftover Halloween candy (as well as candy from Easter and last Christmas), but for some reason, I felt like I just HAD to buy egg white powder to make the royal icing. I’m not sure why, because none of us like royal icing, and it’s not like we would actually consume it so regular egg whites would have been fine – but for some reason, I felt obligated to follow Alton Brown’s instructions to the letter. I found egg white powder at WalMart, and when I glanced at the shelf, I saw a price tag of roughly $1.50. However, when I finally made it through the checkout line (I picked the line with the checker who felt the need to discuss her Christmas vacation drama in every minute detail with the colleague she was checking out before me), I realized that the egg white powder was quite a bit more expensive than that (somewhere around $6.00). At this point, Sasquatch was still in the car with the kids because I’d promised I’d only be in the store for “ten minutes,” so I didn’t bother going back and checking the price. When you consider the fact that we didn’t make our gingerbread houses until Christmas Eve, and most stores had their kits on mega sale at that point, I didn’t really save any money on the gingerbread house in the end.  Although I did bake enough gingerbread for two houses, so I guess I still saved a bit of money. And I now have enough egg white powder to pipe sugar cookies for every major holiday in 2010 (I LOVE decorating sugar cookies with royal icing – I just don’t like to eat them).

The reason for making two gingerbread houses was my aforementioned need for perfection in certain things (this perfection obsession is the reason I gave up scrapbooking before The Princess was even old enough to sit up on her own). I knew that The Princess would want to be very involved in the decorating process, and I’m not very good at sharing. So I made one house for her, and one for me. I think next year, I’ll make the pattern about half the size of the houses we made this year, and hopefully I’ll be able to get Sasquatch and Sparky in on the decorating action. Just maybe not on Christmas Eve. :)

Here’s the gingerbread house that The Princess decorated. I especially love the landscaping she created with green and white Nerds.Gingerbread01


Here’s my house. I’m kind of giddy over the little Christmas lights and the royal icing icicles.


I think this is enough of a novel for one blog post – I’ll talk about Christmas day separately so that I don’t bore everyone to tears.

In the meantime, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. And I truly hope that 2010 is a year of peace, joy, love, and prosperity for every amazing person who has touched my life in some way this past year.


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