The Sweet Season

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Snow Storm Shopping

18 November 2014

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Today we woke up to over 10 inches of snow.  I headed downstairs with Caleb, fed Bella and started my pot of coffee.  Shortly thereafter I heard a loud knock at the door-- a gentleman had plowed through our entire front yard and spun at the last second to avoid a row of trees separated the property lines from us and our neighbors.  Fast forward an hour later, and man and his large work van got pulled out of our yard and we have several brand new ruts in our yard. I can't wait until the snow melts and we can survey the damage.  We are just glad that no one was hurt.  I definitely wasn't going to attempt driving after that and almost every business and school was closed anyway.  We have gotten almost 7 more inches today, and the forecast shows it continuing to come down until at least tomorrow night...    We have been inside since Sunday and we really, really have cabin fever at this point.  I got a little desperate today and tried a little retail therapy.  It did make me feel a LITTLE better...  anyways,  I figured I wouldn't be stingy with my finds and at least I can share and let someone else reap the benefits of my having way too much time to browse my favorite online stores.  Here are some of my favorite finds from today! (Links to everything at the bottom!) 

Five Favorite Sweaters

Cabled Cardigan--  I love this cardigan because of the sheer ruffled fringe at the bottom! 

Cream Trim Jacket-- Jackets get  boring, but detail like this makes it almost as nice as a blouse. This is definitely something I could wear to stay warm and still feel dressed up! 

Grayscale Pullover (I just bought this one!) -- This was my favorite, the back is SO adorable and I think it will look great with jeans and boots or black leggings and black booties! Excited to get this! 

Crosswise Pullover-- This just looks so comfortable!  Want! 

Porter Top- another top with an adorable back!  I love the detail and think I may be purchasing this one too! 

 Five Favorite Home Goods

Gold Thistle Bowl-- Because it has gold, and duh. 

Copacati Curtain-- I just ordered white sheers for my bedroom and have been hunting for a great patterned curtain to layer on the ends of my curtain rods. This one may be the winner! 

Sunday Suppers-- I have heard good things about this recipe book! 

Quartz Knobs-- I need these in my life, in some capacity! 

Bee Colony Wallpaper-- I don't know why but I LOVE this wallpaper!  Not sure where I could use it in my house, but it is so cute, I want to find a place for it! 

Gilded Thistle Nut Bowl | Copcati Curtain | Sunday Suppers  | Quartz Knob | Bee Colony Wallpaper

That is all for tonight friends! Happy shopping :)
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Christmas Wish List

11 November 2014

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It's that time of year!  I always have so much fun putting together a Christmas wish list. I always start out thinking I am going to ask for very practical things (new lighting for the dining room, a dutch oven for cooking, curtains for our bedroom....)  but then of course, these much more FUN items win out (mini fragrance set, delicious bath soap, flats with gold heels...)  This year I hope to finally get a great pair of winter snow boots. I have lasted in Michigan for over 8 years without a great pair of snow shoes and I am OVER it.  All of my cute leather boots get ruined by salt and snow every year, and when I run to the grocery store it will be so nice to just have warm, practical footwear to trudge through snow drifts and slush. I love the Sorel pair I picked out ---tall boots (for tall snow banks) but still cute. Everything else on my list is about comfort-- a soft fleece, books for cuddling up with and bath scrubs for long soaks in the tub, thick sweaters and a cute beanie. Of course, this year Christmas is all about our little guy-- but it is still fun to put together a list!  

What are you asking for this year?!  (Links to all my favorites below, or click the photos at the bottom of the post!) 

Minnetonka Slippers |  Northface Fleece in Dapple Grey | Origins Incredible Spreadible | Clear Headed Mint Shampoo | Sorel Winter Boots | One Thousand Gifts | Cable Knit Sweater in Pink Heather | 1969 Skinny Jeans | Gray Flats | Girl Boss | Peace of Mind | Marc Jacobs Mini Fragrance | Spray of Sunshine Fragrance Sampler | philosophy shower gel | Bumble + Bumble Styling Lotion | Bread & Wine | Pom Pom Beanie | Striped Boot Socks | Tory Burch Satchel

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What I'm Wearing | Navy + Camel

06 November 2014

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Last week on Halloween Michigan saw its first snow of this winter season. No, it didn't stick for long, but the first sign of flurries means the heavy stuff is not too far away.  Of course, I am powering through all my outfits perfect for crisp autumn days because I know that cute shoes will soon be replaced with no nonsense snow boots and lightweight blazers will be pushed to the back of the closet and replaced with thick sweaters and coats.  Tomorrow the forecast is calling for more snow flurries and cold weather to come barreling into our state. I will be right here with a cup of hot cider, warm blanket and my little baby watching mickey mouse clubhouse and perhaps sneaking a little christmas  music in!  Happy Thursday!

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

05 November 2014

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One of the only things I can ever accomplish while staying at home with Caleb is baking. He loves sitting on the kitchen floor and playing with pots, pans and tupperware and we can spend a lot of time in that area without him getting bored and wandering off.  Yesterday I had a last minute change of plans from a work day to a stay at home mom day, so naturally I scoured my pantry and decided to bake some delicious treats up.

These cookies are everything that makes fall wonderful--- and pretty easy to make too, although there are several steps! But worth it? Oh yeah....

2 3/4 cups flour
1 cup pumpkin from the can
3/4 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 bag white chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese

Whip cream cheese and butter together first. (I use my paddle attachment on my kitchen aid mixer to do this). Add in brown and white sugar and continue whipping together. Finally, add in pumpkin, egg and vanilla and mix through. In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Fold dry ingredients into mixer and combine thoroughly. Gently fold in white chocolate chips.  Pour dough into an airtight container and refrigerate for a couple of hours (this step is important, as it allows the dough to set up).  Preheat oven to 350-- spray cookie sheet or use silpat mat and spoon out balls of dough (I use my ice cream scoop to do this, and it is always the exact right size!) If you want some pretty chocolate chips on the top, place a few into the top of the dough balls before placing in the oven.  Bake 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool before storing! Enjoyyyyyy!

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The Bloom Workshop Michigan | Part Two

04 November 2014

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I am finally back with the second part of our Bloom workshop from September in Michigan.  In case you missed all the pretty little details from part one, you can find that here.  I love these photos that Jenn captured of the day---  the moments where we really dive into the business side of things, and then when I get to teach all about shooting in manual and tips and tricks to achieve the best images possible.  It really has become such a fulfilling and fun thing to share my small bit of knowledge and see girls eyes light up when they figure out a setting on their camera, or try shooting fully in manual for the first time.  I believe anyone is capable of being creative, creating beauty and learning a new skill no matter how young or old. I also know that I wouldn't be where I am today without all the guidance and advice I had along the way and it wouldn't make sense to hoard all of that information to myself. It not only feels right but it feels so, so amazing to be able to pay that forward just a little bit! Here are some photos of the "meat" of the day-- loads and loads of information and learning!  

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For Photographers | Organizing your Inbox for Success

03 November 2014

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It's no secret that I have spent the better part of this year organizing and re-organizing and trying to come up with solutions for running my business from home.  I think one of the best pieces of advice I can give to anyone who is starting their own business or who works from a home that demands your attention in other ways (like in the form of one terribly energetic toddler in my case), is to take the time to really get yourself organized.  For me that means having a planner that I can schedule every part of my life into. I am talking blog posts, meetings, photo sessions, meal planning-- the whole shebang.  I also have found that thoughtfully preparing my inbox for the influx of e-mails has gone FAR in helping me answer things in a timely manner, remember e-mails that I maybe don't have time to answer but definitely need to, and more. 

There have been times I have opened by inbox to hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and I honestly would consider crying, and would do anything BUT filter through the mess. Or when I would spend the time trying to pick through coupons, sale prompts and spam to find the e-mails that mattered I would often read them, forget about them and they would get pushed deep down under hundreds of new fresh e-mail junk.  I started referring to it as the black hole, and thinking about dealing with it became of source of major anxiety.  So finally, I decided to spend an entire day dedicated to tackling it and coming up with a better solution.  This may not work for everyone, but it has definitely worked for me and has helped me tremendously this year.

Step One: Unsubscribe from every thing. I mean every. single. thing.  If, after you have unsubscribed you think you really to be receiving emails from your favorite companies, you can go back and subscribe again. The key here is to clear it all out in one fell swoop and re-assess how much you NEED to have those reminders of Gap sales every 5 hours...  If you are like me, I was subscribed to hundreds of things.  I used to unsubscribe from EVERYTHING in under 2 minutes.  You guys, I was subscribed to 410 companies/business/etc.  No wonder I was getting so much junk in my inbox!  

Step Two: Consolidate e-mail addresses.  At one point I had five e-mail addresses- personal, business, blog, etsy shop, and a second personal one.  I decided to cut it down to just three. One for my photography clients, one for this blog and a personal e-mail for family members and subscriptions. It is so nice having less to manage, and knowing that when I open an inbox I am going to be dealing with (and only with) things that pertain to that e-mail address.  If you can have just two, that is even better! Your goal here is really to simplify in all areas!

Step Three: Create folders.  This. This is the biggest thing that has changed the way I assess e-mails. Now, I categorize things and place them into folders so I know what to do with them. Some of my most used folders are 'Answer Immediately' , 'Hold',  'Inquiries',  'Upcoming Weddings', "Bookmarked", etc.  Some e-mails I know I need to deal with right away, but maybe I don't have a second right at the moment I read it-- so I pop it into the answer immediately folder and always, always make sure that one is empty every single day.  If the e-mail isn't as urgent, or I want time to really reply I place it in hold.  For new client inquiries, I place the correspondence in "inquiries" so I can be sure I have taken care and answered all the questions for potential bride & groom's.  I also love my bookmark folder-- I place anything that I know I want to be able to find again in the future. Sometimes that means funny e-mails, recipes or blog posts from around the internet.    To begin utilizing folders, take an inventory of the types of e-mails you receive.  Begin creating a list of things and tweak it from there.  I highly recommend the "answer immediately" and "hold" folders for everyone though!

Organizing myself changed the way I do business, and now I don't eat an entire bag of reese's candy instead of answering my e-mails!  Do you have any tips on how to organize your inbox for me? I am always open to finding even better ways to improve! If so, share in the comments!

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Apple Cinnamon Fritters

02 November 2014

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As the nights (and days!) are getting colder and colder and colder around here, my kitchen is becoming a hub for all the activity.  My crock pot has basically been out for the entire week and with the holidays approaching I have been having some fun trying my hand at new recipes.  I've had an entire leftover bag of apples sitting around for over 2 weeks and finally I decided I needed to get into gear and make something with them before the met their destiny with the garbage can.  I didn't want to do another pie, so I decided to try fritters!

As I was making these I kept thinking what a perfect date night activity this would make-- I mean, whats better than saving money and having a cozy night in preparing something delicious and THEN getting to eat it? Win win. So here is the recipe that will make all your foodie date night dreams come true.  If it were me, I would pair these with hot chocolate or some Witch's Brew wine warmed over the stove. 

So what will you need? First things first, I always love a chance to use my kitchen-aid mixer for baking, and because I had my crock pot out already I figured I would let my chopped apples stew in some cider so they would be a bit softer inside the fritter. I also grabbed these adorable tea towels from Target and knew they would make the perfect backdrop for the photo above, you can get yours here.  

Apple Cinnamon Fritters
Vegetable Oil for frying (I used about half a bottle)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp oil
3 cups of apples chopped, diced (cooked down in crock pot if you prefer)
1 cup cinnamon sugar mix

In a bowl mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Pre-heat oil to 375 degrees (really important to heat this properly. I didn't have a thermometer and had to do several test batches to figure out how hot I needed my oil... too hot and the outside will scorch and the inside will still be gooey. Too cool and the fritter will soak up the oil without frying and taste disgusting.)  Pour milk, eggs, oil and vanilla into dry mix and stir.  Add in apples, ensuring even distribution.

Next, check your oil and if it is read, plop small balls of dough mixture into the oil. I used an ice cream scoop to get the right size, and it helped dropping them in as well.  Let the fritters fry, about 5 minutes until the are golden brown. (I would pull apart your first batch and make sure it is cooked all the way through.  If not, you may want to turn your heat up a bit!)  Immediately roll fritters in the cinnamon sugar mix!

Enjoy with a piping hot cup of cider!

Content and/or other value provided by Target. All opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make this blog happen!

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