November 2015 archive

Tips for Creating A Family Holiday Card

It’s the busiest time of the year!! One of the things you have to check off your list is your family holiday card.  Every year it seems to sneak up on me.  Thanksgiving zooms by and I’m left heading into December without an idea of what I’m going to do for a card. The last two years I had them done professionally so it was taken care of for me.  If you can go that route it’s nice to have a professional calling the shots and guiding you.  However, not everyone can do that or wants to do that.

Luckily, I have obtained the help of Local photographer, Lori Woodhouse. She is going to guide us with her knowledge and photography expertise.  Below she answers some highly asked questions that arise when taking holiday photos.

Follow These Simple Tips

1. What should families wear in a holiday photo? Deciding what to wear for the Christmas family portrait is a key step in creating perfect frame worthy holiday pictures. What you wear helps set the mood and tone for your portraits, so it’s very important that you choose wisely. There is a difference in choosing outfits for indoor portraits versus outdoor portraits. Indoor portraits tend to be more formal and outdoor is more casual. Coordinating outfits is an easy way to create an unified look in your Christmas portraits. Keep in mind matching doesn’t have to translate into identical. A few examples of matching formal outfits include white, red or green shirts and dark slacks or skirts. You could also wear matching sweaters or jackets, or choose varied outfits in a single shade of red or green. When you are posing for casual shots, you need to consider freedom of movement when selecting outfit choices. Don’t underestimate the versatility of blue jeans for your Holiday family portrait. Jeans can be coupled with sweaters, sweatshirts or even outdoor clothes for a relaxed look. Jeans also provide an excellent base for a variety of tops. Try coupling them with plain white shirts, red sweaters, or green coats. When deciding what to wear for the Christmas family portrait the best idea is to talk to your photographer. He or she can give you a better idea of how your portrait sitting will be set-up and what style of clothing is most appropriate. If you’ll be changing outfits during your sitting, try to save more restrictive outfits for the end of the shoot. Tight-fitting clothing can leave marks which may show up in the finished photo. Finally, make sure your clothing is neat, clean and in good condition before heading to the photo studio or outdoor location.

Lori Woodhouse Photography

This beautiful family portrait was done by local photographer Lori Woodhouse.

2. What are some good locations for a holiday photo? So much of what makes a holiday portrait spectacular is your surroundings. Finding a place that has good lighting, provides a beautiful and scenic background, and channels your family’s personality is almost more important than wearing color coordinated outfits. So, where are some fun places to snap a holiday photo in and around Hampton Roads you ask?
First Landing State Park, Cape Henry Lighthouses, Virginia Beach oceanfront isn’t too far away! Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown Battlefields, Boat Docks near Air and Space Museum, Mariner’s Museum, Huntington Park and Beach, Chrysler Museum, Newport News City Center, Willoughby Spit, Hampton’s Old Whythe Neighborhood, Kiln Creek area, Park in Portsmouth, Hague section of Ghent, Intracoastal Waterway, Christopher Newport University, Downtown Norfolk, Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Bacon’s Castle, St. Luke’s church, Oak Grove Park, Chesapeake Arboretum, Broad Bay Beach, Little Island Park in Sandbridge, Wildlife refuge in Sandbridge, and Bells Mill Park.

The Best thing to do is research and look up each of these locations and decide from there.

3. How do you capture your client’s natural smile? Contrary to popular belief, the word cheese is not the best word to say when trying to capture a genuine smile. When smiling for a photo, avoid the urge to say “cheese.” The word actually stretches your mouth into an unnatural, unflattering smile. If you have a hard time giving your natural smile try saying words that end in “uh” like “mocha” or “yoga” to bring the corners of your mouth up naturally.

4. What is the best time to take photos outside? The best time to take photos outdoors is what photographers call the infamous golden hour. The golden hour sometimes called the “magic hour” is roughly the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset. The exact duration varies between seasons so it’s important to listen to time suggestions from your photographer. During these times the sun is low in the sky and produces a soft diffused light which is much more flattering than harsh midday sun. If you cannot meet during these “golden hours” it is important to choose a location where there is shade so that the sun isn’t blinding or making you squint.

5. Can you give some tips for those that can’t get professional photos? Not everyone can afford to hire a professional photographer but you can still capture your own family portraits with all the tips I have shared with you so far. If you cannot afford an introductory DSLR camera it’s wise to invest in a high megapixel point and shoot camera and a tripod as well. Point and shoot cameras only run around $200 and can provide a good quality image. Remember to read over your camera manual and learn how to use a tripod so that you can get in the picture with your family.

6. What tips would you give for doing a portrait inside? As far as indoor portraits go, they tend to be on the formal side. However, your photographer may have many different background options to choose from. Time of day shouldn’t matter if you are shooting in a studio setting as your photographer should have adequate artificial lighting available.

7. What is the most important tip to remember when sending a holiday card? The annual holiday card: the chance for you to send warm season’s greetings to your nearest and dearest. When selecting your grandma’s-fridge-worthy photo it’s best to choose one with a high-resolution. The larger the photo file is, the better it will print. You can upload your original photo to a photo-editing app to enhance and give it extra character.

8. What would you like your clients to know? Holiday sessions should be scheduled well in advance with your photographer as September-November are the busiest times of year. Contact your photographer as early as July to schedule your fall family holiday portrait.

9. What type of photography do you specialize in?  I specialize in family, maternity and newborn photography and have been in business for four years. You can reach me via my Facebook page Lori Woodhouse Photography LLC or via website http://www.loriwoodhousephotography.com

Hopefully these tips will give you some great ideas for your holiday card this year.  I want to thank Lori Woodhouse for taking the time to answer our questions and sharing her talents with us.  I can’t wait to start receiving Christmas cards in the mail from friends and family.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

 

Thanksgiving Day- Celebrate you and your Family

Happy Thanksgiving to you all! It’s time to be thankful for the many blessings you have and to celebrate your family.  What a wonderful time of year.  I think today is a perfect day to not only think about what you’re thankful for, but to think about this past year as well.  Look back on the year and see how well you did.  Almost like a year in review.  Most people do this at the very end of the year, but I think today is a great day to get started.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!! I hope you are enjoying your family and friends today.

Looking back and reflecting can be a fun trip down memory lane. if you have had a good year you have a lot to be thankful for. I’m sure there have also been some hardships and that is just part of life that we have to live with and try to manage the best we can. On Thanksgiving Day, I want you to really celebrate the positive sides of you and your life. The real you.  What did you accomplish this year?  What goals did you set in January and how did you accomplish those goals?  Answering these questions and reflecting back on your year can really help you see what you are thankful for.  Then you can start to appreciate your life and your family.

A lot of families go around the table and say what they are thankful for during dinner.  If you have done this process you can really dig down deep and have your list ready for what you’re thankful for this past year.  Your answer won’t just be something on the surface.  It will be a true answer that you’ve reflected upon. Reflecting also gives you a clear picture of what you still need to accomplish before the end of the year.  You still have time to work hard and be the best version of you, you can be.  Don’t give up now.  You only have a month left before you make new resolutions and set new goals for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving from

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Holiday Travel tips

I would say we travel quite a bit, but you do not want to travel with my family.  We have the worst luck when we go on a trip.  I don’t care what airport we fly out of; the plane either doesn’t have a pilot, is missing a part, or is stuck in another city and can’t get to us. It’s almost comical now.  We expect for something to go wrong and we wait for it to happen. If you see me in the airport you need to run the other way.  BUT… since I travel so much. I do have lots of tips for those of you that won’t be traveling anywhere near me.

Holiday travel tips

Here are some holiday travel tips that will help you arrive safely at your final destination.

How to Make it To Your Final Destination on Time

If you’re driving, try to drive on the holiday itself.  Traffic tends to be less heavy on the actual holiday. This leads to fewer people on the roads which in turn, leads to fewer back ups and accidents.

If you’re flying, take a morning flight.  They have a better chance of actually leaving on time.  If you miss that flight, you have a chance of getting on a later flight and making your final destination.  This can really save your trip.

Purchase travel insurance.  You don’t know how many times this one tip has saved us.  You may get delayed or even have to drive home, but the airline will reimburse you (if you put up enough fight) if you have purchased insurance on your trip.  It doesn’t cost that much more and it gives you peace of mind.

If you have purchased gifts, send them ahead of time.  Your luggage may not make it and I have seen them unwrap gifts when searching luggage.  It is just easier to ship fragile gifts so you are sure they will arrive to your final destination.

If you can, try to carry on your luggage.  There are so many tutorials on youtube about how to pack your luggage so you don’t have to check your bags.  I have had my luggage lost so many times that if at all possible I carry on my luggage.  When you are sleeping in a see through Delta tee shirt you won’t ask questions as to why this is a good idea.

Check into the latest travel Apps.  Some of them are actually really good and may come in handy down the road.  Especially if you are traveling out of the country and may need international assistance or help using your phone.

Plan ahead and be ready for anything.  If you are traveling with kids, pack enough stuff to keep them busy.  Especially if you are driving or are on a long flight.  There is nothing worse then a screaming kid in a car or on a plane.  This can be avoided by preparing a road trip pack with games and snacks that will keep your child busy during the trip.

Take it from a seasoned traveler, you want to be as prepared as possible.  Sometimes the extra fee will save you time and money in the long run.  Your goal is to make it to that final destination as close to the arrival time as possible. I hope these tips were helpful.  Happy traveling.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Friday Faves Christmas Gift Guide

The Friday Faves list is going to be a little different this time.  I am going to give you a list of things I think would make wonderful Christmas gifts for everyone on your list.  I have been searching high and low for these gifts for quite some time.  I take gift giving very seriously.  I really try to think about the person and what they would like when I’m out shopping. Not everyone is going to give you a detailed list of what they want for Christmas.  Wouldn’t shopping be easy if they did?   Keep in mind what the person enjoys and what activities they are involved in.  That will give you tons of ideas when shopping for the perfect gift.  Let’s jump into my holiday gift guide.

Holiday Gift Guide

If you’re looking for a gift for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents etc… Minted is offering gold foil replicas of children’s drawings.  What a perfect gift for a family member.  This is a treasured gift that could be displayed for years to come.  Check out the Minted site to get all the specifics, but from what I’ve seen they look amazing.

Holiday Gift Guide

This holiday gift guide can make your Christmas shopping a little easier.

I’ve always wanted to go on a picnic date.  I found the perfect blanket and thermos.  This wool throw by Faribault will keep you warm on those cooler evenings.  Also the perfect thermos to take along on the picnic can be found at L L Bean.  Think about the quality time you can spend with your spouse using these items.

For the wine connoisseur, I found the perfect device by Coravin.  It’s a little pricey, but I really want one of these myself.  The Model Two allows you to pierce the cork and pour a couple of glasses without compromising the seal.  You can save the wine until you are ready to drink it again.  This is genius.

One of my favorite places to shop online is One Kings Lane.  They have amazing home decor items for discounted prices. If you’re looking for a gift for the cook in your life, check out these marbleized bowls.  This trio is not only beautiful, but is well priced.  The neutral color would easily go with your other entertaining pieces.

Every girl loves the Tiffany blue box with the white ribbon. You can’t go wrong putting this under the tree. You may think you can’t afford something from Tiffany’s but check out the Tiffany Infiniti Ring. It comes in gold, silver and rose gold. The narrow band is wrapped with the infinity sign. It is perfect for someone that likes smaller, delicate jewelry. If you’re looking for other infiniti jewelry they have an entire collection.

For the Foodie, I love the Artisan Plank Serving Board from Personal Creations.  This is an amazing gift for an affordable price.  You can have it monogrammed with the family’s initial or last name.  It is great for preparing food or serving your guests.  This is the perfect gift for someone that hosts intimate parties and wants to make an impression on their guests.

For the techie on your list, there is a great new device for Samsung users. The Samsung Wireless Charging Pad makes it easy for you to charge and go. It is a small round device with no cords. You can still use your phone while it’s charging and you don’t have to take off your case. This inexpensive gift would be perfect for someone on your list that has a Samsung. Too bad I have an iPhone.

I love Kate Spade anything so I thought some of you might also. Do you have someone on your list that does a lot of entertaining?  These flute glasses would be perfect for New Year’s eve toasting and any other special occasion.  They are an amazing price and you can find them online at Macy’s.

 

Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Thanksgiving is coming up and boy I’m looking forward to eating some great food and seeing family.  I know everyone has traditions they enjoy with family on special holidays.  What are some of your family traditions?

We travel to my in-laws house every year and spend Thanksgiving with them.  When my kids got a little older, we decided we would stay home and celebrate Christmas in our own house.  This was important to us, but we also wanted to see my in-laws during this time of year. I really like how everything has worked out.  My in-laws visit us over the Christmas break so we actually get to see them twice.

Pumpkin Pie dessert

Pumpkin Pie is the perfect dessert to eat after an amazing dinner.

Thanksgiving Timeline

We usually eat at my sister- In- laws house and we have about 12 people.  I enjoy getting to see my niece who is three.  They live seven and half hours away so we really enjoy spending time with her when we are in town.  We have tons of appetizers and watch football while we wait to eat lunch. My mother- in- law makes the best chipped beef dip.  I only get to eat it around the holidays when she makes it for us.  I am really into salty food right now so this appetizer is amazing. We usually eat around 2:00 and then watch football again. My kids are obsessed with the mac and cheese my sister-in-law makes.  It is fabulous and they crave it all year.  We always go around and tell what things we are thankful for.  Of course we have left overs around 7:00.  I am thankful for leftovers!!!! That is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving.  I’m sure most families do this.  Then we head back to my mother-in-laws.  I have not gone Black Friday shopping the last couple of years (since they have started it on Thursday).  I have just shopped online and avoided the crowds.  If my daughter wants to go then I’m up for it this year.

Thanksgiving place setting

Gorgeous table settings make for a lovely evening.

Turkey dinner

Turkey and some of my other favorites for Thanksgiving dinner.

I would love to hear your timeline for Thanksgiving Day.  What are your traditions?  Do you have any new things you are doing this year?  Check me out on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter to see my holiday happenings.  I’ve started decorating early this year for Christmas.  Last year, I was a little stressed so this year I’m going to take it at a slower pace and get things done early.  This is my favorite time of year and I want to enjoy it as much as I can.  I’m going to get things done, but take time to be in the moment.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Fall Table

I really enjoyed decorating my fall table this year.  I usually do fall colors such as orange, brown, and burgundy but I went for white and neutrals this year.  One of my favorite things to use in my decorating is mercury glass.  I usually use it at Christmas time, but it is so classic and elegant that you can use it year round.  I thought it would be beautiful on my Thanksgiving table.  I hope you enjoy these colors and design elements because I definitely stepped out of my comfort zone a little to create this look.

Neutral fall table

I used neutrals this year for my fall table.

White Pumpkins for fall

I loved using white pumpkins in my decorating this fall.

Dusty Miller Greenery

Dusty Miller was the perfect greenery to add to this look.

Pinecones and antlers

Pinecones and antlers were perfect design choices for this look.

Mercury glass

Mercury glass is one of my favorite design choices.

I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at home tours, Instagram and other Bloggers’ tablescapes this fall.  I have been very inspired by so many others and am looking forward to seeing what is to come for the Christmas season.  It is my favorite time of year and by far my favorite time to decorate my home.  I will be posting three times a week in December and I’m really looking forward to sharing my home and ideas with you.  I hope you will comment and continue to share your ideas with me as well.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

How to Entertain a Large Group

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly and it is time to think about what you will be serving.  Entertaining a large group is a lot different then your four person nightly dinner.  Plus, this is a special occasion where you want to go all out for your guests.  Let’s jump into Thanksgiving day tips that will leave your guests feeling stuffed and content.

Tips for entertaining

The first thing you want to do is to prepare in advance so you have tons of time to plan for this special occasion. The last thing you want to do is have to grocery shop right before the big day.  Make a list and get all your speciality items way in advance so the stores are not crowded.  This will save you from standing in long lines.

Know how may people are coming in plenty of time to prepare what you’re making.  You want to know how much food to prepare so no one leaves hungry.  Also, make a little extra so you have fabulous leftovers.  That is one of the best parts of hosting.

Set your table ahead of time.  This will save you valuable time and energy on Thanksgiving day.  This is an easy and fun task, but it takes time. This is something that you can complete a couple days before the big day.  Also rearrange any furniture you need to create the best set up for entertaining your guests.  That way you can clean and vacuum rooms in advance.

Thanksgiving table setting

Your table setting can be done in advance. This will save you time on the day you entertain.

Use white dishes so your centerpiece stands out. I use white dishes the majority of the time. I want the centerpiece and food to be the table headliner.  If you use white dishes you can add color through candles, napkins, placemats and other decor.

Have extra containers set aside for guests to take home leftovers.  It is a nice gesture to give guests left overs to take home with them.  This needs to be planned in advance or you will be sending guests home with your good dishes.

Try to get as much sleep as you can because hosting can take a lot out of you.  There is a ton to do before and after Thanksgiving dinner. You want your guests to leave your home full and happy, but it is a lot of work. Rest when you can.

I hope these tips were helpful.  I know your dinner will be amazing as long as you’re with friends and family.  If you have any helpful entertaining tips please leave them in the comments below.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

My Friday Faves 11/6

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but I have several things I wanted to share with you.  All of us will be buying gifts soon for our loved ones and friends for the holidays.  If you’re entertaining this season you may be looking to update some of your dinnerware and serving pieces.

For wonderful dinnerware, check out pottery Barn’s Emma Dinnerware Set.  White plates are timeless and can be used for every occasion.  You can throw some color in by adding colorful napkins, placemats, a table runner and serving pieces.

We all love Kate Spade for bags and accessories, but have you checked out the Kate Spade home line?  It is so fabulous.  I have way too many things to add to my wish list.  There are so many items from office pieces to home decor.  you would be lucky to receive something under your tree from Kate Spade this season.

Are you looking to make a statement with your holiday gift card?  Minted has some great options this year while still making the process super easy.  I was on their site and got wrapped up in all the design choices.

Having people over for Thanksgiving? You maybe looking for another side to prepare for your guests.  Check out these amazing dishes from Southern Living.

Thanksgiving sides

What sides are you making this Thanksgiving?

If you ever find yourself on the East Coast you need to check out Reese Witherspoon’s store Draper James.  She carries clothing, accessories, and home decor all with a side of southern charm.

Starbucks holiday drinks are here.  My fave Christmas drink is a Chai Tea with egg nog.  I can’t drink too may of them, but they are such a treat.  If you haven’t tried one of these you’re missing out.

My favorite holiday candy is Lind’t salted caramel.  They have so many flavors and honestly I have never tasted one I didn’t like.  They are great stocking stuffers and make wonderful  holiday gifts for neighbors as well.  The brightly colored wrappers look like little ornaments.

Handwriting calligraphy books are all the rage right now.  I really want to address my Christmas cards this year using calligraphy.  I purchased The Complete Book of Chalk Lettering and Creative Lettering and Beyond.  Both books have lessons to help you practice strokes to perfect your calligraphy.  However, they do not come with the pen.

Calligraphy

Practicing calligraphy is so fun once you get the hang of it.

I Hope some of these Friday Faves were new to you.  I would love for you to share some of your faves with me.  I’m always looking for new products to try or gifts to give others (especially this time of year).  Leave comments below if you think there is something I need to try.

Yours Truly,

Jenn

Fall Instagram Roll

I’m so excited about this post.  I’ve been loving all things fall and I thought I would do a review of my fall Instagram roll.  Kind of like my fall season seen through pictures.  If you’re not already following me on Instagram, you should check it out.  You can find special new projects daily.  Even if there isn’t a new blog post, you can still see lots of inspiration when you need a little pick me up.  If you’re a very visual person and love to see lots of creative projects, check out my Pinterest.  I have tons of new pins and of course love all things to do with decorating for the holidays.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

All Things Fall

wine and apples

After decorating my back porch, I had a couple little treats!

Fall scarf

This beautiful scarf is new from Sole Society.

Pier 1 dishes

Entertain with these new dishes from Pier 1.

Coffee station

A perfect plaid coffee station.

Fall Gold Foil Print

Beautiful Fall Gold Foil print from Lindsay Letters!

Pottery Barn centerpiece

Beautiful centerpiece at Pottery Barn.

I can’t wait to do one of these for holiday decor.  That is when I go crazy around my house. I’m excited for the things to come on the blog.  In November, I plan on posting on Tuesdays and Fridays and in December I will be posting 3 days a week.  I also have a new logo launch coming soon.  So many exciting things to come.  Looking forward to hearing all your comments in the next couple of months!

Yours Truly,

Jenn