Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday's Top 5

I thought and thought about what this week's list should be. Clearly, it needed to be Halloween themed, but what aspect of Halloween? Costumes? Parties? The Great Pumpkin? And then it hit me. What is Halloween really all about? The CANDY of course! And not just any candy. The RIGHT kind of candy. Suddenly, my path was clear. I knew exactly what to blog about. I had a job to do. A mission. A Divine Purpose. I had to keep all of you from making a dire mistake: buying the wrong candy. You know what I mean. Dum dums, jaw breakers, bottle caps. Please. Those are so 1985. These days it's all about the good candy. Don't believe me? Read on, my friend. Read on.


5. The Other Parents Will Thank You. As a parent, what is Halloween all about? Finding your kid the cutest costume? Sure, that's important. Carving the perfect jack-o-lantern? Yeah, that's up there on the list. But come on. You know it's about taking the "good" candy out of your kid's bag after he's gone to bed. Don't deny it. You've done it. And so have the other parents in your neighborhood, so they're going to be pleased as punch to find that you've stocked the ole' treat bag with the right kind of treats. So come on. Cave. Give in to the peer pressure. The other parents will thank you!

4. Saves on Neighborhood Dentist Bills. Okay fine. All candy is bad for your teeth. Whatever. But in my expert opinion (and by expert I mean I have absolutely no dental expertise at all), some candy is worse on the chompers than others. Um hello? Jaw breakers? Let's be honest and call them "Ouch! I think I broke my tooth" breakers. The beauty of the fun-size 3 Muskeers, on the other hand, is that it is soft and gooey with absolutely no teeth-breaking potential. So, hand out the one with the nougaty filling and keep little Tommy from next door out of the dentist chair.

3. It's Healthy. Hello? Dark chocolate? Haven't you heard that it's good for you? Well, it is. Seriously, it was on the internet, so it must be true. Grab a bag of dark chocolate Milky Ways and you'll be able to take credit for the cardio-vascular strength of everyone on the block!

2. It's Less Wasteful. Sure, sure. You get the cheapo candy because you don't like it, and therefore you won't eat it. This makes perfect sense. If you want to be totally wasteful and throw a bunch of leftover candy in the garbage. It's a recession! You can't just throw perfectly good candy in the garbage! You should eat it and feel good that you are stretching every penny of your dollar. Or, if you are truly one of those people who has oodles and noodles of will power and just won't eat the leftover chocolate (and if you are, by the way, we're not friends), you can always bring it into work and be everyone's new favorite person. Lookie there! Economical and popular all at the same time. You can thank me later.

1. The Kids Will LOVE You. Yes, yes, Halloween really is all about the kids (don't tell them), and what do the kids want? They want the GOOD candy. Sure, they'll chow down on a pack of boston baked beans if left with no other option, but what they're really putting on that hot and sweaty Buzz Lightyear costume for is the good candy. Minis are fine. These will make you pretty popular. Fun size are even better. Give out the full size bars and you're going to get yourself voted "Most Likely to be Every Kid's Favorite Mom Evah." So it's up to you. Do you want to be "Mrs. Not Another Root Beer Barrel" or "Mrs. All Right I Love Snickers!!!"? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Minis, Part 2 - Libertyville Family Photographer

Um, can you say "Beautiful People"? And as my sister so astutely pointed out on the phone tonight, I hang out with some really stylish people! Seriously, you guys are putting a lot of pressure on me to make my own Christmas photos all stylish and trendy. Fine. Game on!

p.s. Mini-Session Weekends Rock!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Minis, Part 1 ~ Lake County, IL Portrait Photographer

Wow! What a fun, exhausting, nerve-wracking, inspiring, and all around GREAT weekend! I met up with five, count 'em, FIVE families this weekend for a whirl-wind mini-session extravaganza! Although the weather was not ideal, and we even had to reschedule most of Saturday's sessions, we got lucky enough to miss most of the rain on Sunday.

Going into my first ever mini-session weekend, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was fast-paced, with almost all of the kiddos being under the age of five, and it was tiring. But with a beautiful location like Independence Grove in Libertyville and all that exuberant preschool energy, what it was mostly was F-U-N, fun!

I'm going to share in two parts, so if you don't see your face on here, check back in another day or so. Thanks to everyone for coming out this weekend and sharing your beautiful faces with me!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Piper (the second)

In the short four months that this blog has been live, this will be my second "Piper" post. Wild, isn't it? It's not as if it's a name you run into every day. And....the two Pipers are divided in age by about twenty-five years. They do have something in common, however. Both are gorgeous young ladies!

I got the privilege of meeting 4-month-old Piper this weekend to get some shots of her and the fam. Piper was not so keen on being outside in the cold (can you blame her?), but once we got inside she started to ham it up a bit. I already predict that Ms. Piper is going to be a total girly-girl (and if you saw her closet, you'd know why). As you can see, she's already totally mastered the tutu look!

p.s. If you want to see the other Piper, click here.

In the Orchard at I Heart Faces

I haven't participated in an I Heart Faces challenge for awhile, but when I saw this week's theme I knew I had to pull out a favorite from a while back.

A few weeks back, we took the little dude out to pick apples and he had such a blast. I came away with this shot of him, looking so angelic and working very hard for his apples. With all that dappled light behind him, it is not technically perfect, but there is just something dreamy about it and I love the pop from the red apples.

Check out more from our orchard trip here, and more orchard shots on I Heart Faces:

Tuesday's Top 5


I feel bad. I really do. I give Fall a very hard time. It gets such a bad rap from me. But Fall, do you really deserve so much derision? Surely not. I mean, yeah, you are the harbinger of snow. And yeah, when I was little you meant back to school and all that nonsense. But you can't be all bad right? No. Despite all my griping (mostly about the coming of the snow thing), Fall, you have some good qualities. So with today's post, I'm trying to make amends. Fall, here's to you:

5. Good Sports. In my opinion, Fall is the crossroad of the best sports. Baseball heats up, leading into the post-season in October (which is made all the more exciting when the Rays make the post-season, and more so when they don't choke in the ALDS, but whatevs). Football kicks off, bringing a good excuse to laze about on Sunday afternoons, without the worry yet that your team will totally stink it up when it comes to the playoffs. So yeah, Post-season baseball + Early days of Football = Good times.

4. Harvest Time. Here's one I never really appreciated until I moved to the midwest. Apple season and pumpkin season are fun! We had a blast picking apples this year, and I cannot wait to carve up some pumpkins with my little guy in a few weeks. Who knew that so much fanfare could be made out of the apple? And who knew that those apple donuts from the Long Grove bakery could be sooooo delish?!?!

3. Fall is the Gateway to the Holidays. I'm not going to deny it. I LOVE the holiday season. As soon as I see that December issue of Real Simple in my mailbox, it's on like Donkey Kong. But really, Fall is what gets the ball rolling. I get an excuse to decorate the house with leaves and pumpkins and clingy ghosts on the window that my husband hates. And soon I get to start picking out recipes for cakes and pies to make for Thanksgiving. AND THEN I get to start seriously Christmas shopping and trimming the tree and singing Christmas carols and going to Florida. Yippee!!! So there. I'll admit it. Fall brings something good even if it does come with a hefty helping of snow.

2. Leaves. Yeah, yeah. The leaves are beautiful. Could I do with just a week up north every year to see them instead of a whole season of Fall? Yes. But when you crest a hill and a mosaic of brightly colored trees comes into view, each trying to out do the other for best and the brightest--that is pretty spectacular.

1. Halloween. So maybe this kind of goes with number three. But I really adore Halloween, so it gets its own spot. Even before I had Max, I loved Halloween. I used to make the hubs carve pumpkins with me only for them to wilt the next day in the Florida heat. We would go to our neighbors' annual Halloween bash, Stephoween (Adam, should I post the picture of you in your Captain Steubing costume?) And back then, the best was getting to see all the cute kiddos come to the door in their princess and cowboy costumes. In our house, we still talk about this little two-year old Bob the Builder who came by one year, hammered a nail in our front porch, and totally stole my heart. BUT NOW Halloween is even better, because I get to share it with Max. I love picking out his costume and taking him trick-or-treating (which we have been practicing saying this year). And have I mentioned how cute he is in his costume this year? I mean, really, seriously, totally cute. (Sorry, you're going to have to wait until next week to see the pictures). And he's still young enough that I can take the good candy out of his bag first without him realizing it. Oh man, I love Halloween!

And speaking of leaves....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Few More Favorites (in black & white) ~ Chicagoland Children's Photographer

Couldn't resist sharing a few more favorites from the last two weekends. Loving these black & whites. This weekend, I'm hanging out with 4-month-old Piper. Loving those babies, too!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tuesday's Top 5

And I'm back! Ready for another exciting Tuesday's Top 5, where I rank random stuff for my own enjoyment? Well, let's get started then.


I mentioned a few weeks ago that I ride the train to work every day. In fact, I ride the train for over two hours every day. It is a blessing and a curse, but one of the blessings is that I get a lot of time to read. And I LOVE to read. So, today I'll be ranking some of my favorite book series. Why series? Because don't you always want more at the end of a good novel? That's the beauty of a series. Why mindless entertainment? Because sometimes an easy, non-dramatic read is just what you need.

Disclaimer: I am not including Harry Potter or Twilight. These go without saying, and therefore, would be needlessly taking up two spots on the my list when you (unless you've been living in a hole) already know about these.

So here we go:

5. The FBI Profiler series by Lisa Gardner. These are super creepy thriller novels whose FBI profiler characters get into the mind of Gardner's really, really bad bad guys, only never until it's almost too late. I wouldn't recommend reading these if you're home alone at night, but other than that they're great if you like creepy bad guy adventures.

4. The Heather Wells series by Meg Cabot. You know, Meg Cabot. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot. Turns out she has written a whole bunch of books for grown ups, too! The Heather Wells series, which starts with "Size Twelve Is not Fat," is my favorite. In part, because Heather Wells - former child music star turned college dorm manager/amatuer P.I.- is my hero (she takes baths instead of showers because showers require you to stand up for too long) and because these are written in the most entertaining voice. After I've finished reading one, I always find myself mentally talking like Heather Wells for awhile. I only wish Meg would write another one. Come on, Meg, I need more Heather Wells!

3. The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. If you are a bibliophile, you will love this series about a woman named Thursday Next who discovers she can jump into books. Inside fiction, Thursday has to save the novel Jane Eyre from the evil Acheron Hades, and then becomes a Jurisfiction Agent, mentored by Miss Havisham, policing the world of fiction from dangers like rogue characters and misspelling viruses. Outside fiction is a whole other can of worms. There is also a spin-off series called the Nursery Crimes series and I believe another Thursday Next sequel in the works. Love LOVE these.

2. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordian. Apparently, I am late to the game on these. By the time I discovered this series, they had already made a movie out of the first book, but I'm willing to bet some of you haven't read them. Like Harry Potter, these books are written for young adults, but like Harry Potter, they are perfectly entertaining for adults, too. Based on Greek mythology, the series is centered around the adventures of Percy Jackson, son of the Greek god Poseidon, and his other demigod friends as they try to save the world. These are quick but fun reads full of adventure and laughs. As an added bonus, the author is releasing the first novel in a new series today. Cool!

1. The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Yet another series that I am coming to late in the game, but so so good. These books are part mystery, part comedy, part romance. Stephanie Plum, a Jersey girl through and through, is the world's worst bounty hunter. Helped out by her partner Lula, an ex-hooker, sometimes boyfriend Morelli (mmmmm...), and sometimes who-knows-what Ranger (also mmmmmm...), Stephanie Plum is highly inept and highly entertaining. The only problem with these books is that sometimes they are so funny, I literally laugh out loud; and on the train, that tends to get me some weird looks. Mostly, I'm laughing too hard to care, though. Absolutely check these out, if you haven't already.

So there you have it. An endless supply of mindless reading inspiration for your next trip to the library. While we're at it, what are your mindless book recommendations?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Growing Up ~ North Shore Family Photographer

One of the best things that I've discovered since starting this little photography journey of mine is how much fun it is to watch my subjects grow up right before my eyes. I look back now at the sessions I did last fall and marvel at how much all of those kiddos (and, hopefully, my photography) have grown in a year.

Now this guy, however, I get to watch him grow up all year long. Jackson is Max's best friend, so he and I get to spend a lot of time together. He and Max have very different personalities, but they are so well matched. Max came along for this shoot (probably not the best idea), and the whole time they were running, screaming, tickling, jumping, splashing. You name it, they did it. As long as it didn't involve standing still for too long.

Come to think of it, that reminds me a lot of last year's shoot. Maybe they haven't grown up that much, after all!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Tuesday's Top 5

Alright, so I should probably warn you about this week's Top 5. I'm going to admit right from the start that this is a very controversial topic. Just the mention of it the other night started a very heated dinner-time debate between my husband and myself, which resulted in him calling me out on facebook (gasp!!!) for my views on the subject. But hey, it's my blog. I can be controversial if I want to. And if you don't like it, you can make your own list in the comment section. But don't say I didn't warn you. Here goes:

(What did you think it was going to be?)

5. Fudge Rounds. A chocolate lover's dream. Soft chocolatey cookie on the outside, creamy chocolatey goodness on the inside, with those perfect little fudgey stripes to finish things off. These were a lunch box favorite of my childhood. (My husband claims to have never heard of these. I'm not sure what his problem is, except apparently he married a Swiss Cake Roll in another life.)

4. Nutty Bars. The best thing about nutty bars (aside from the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter with a bit of crunch) is that they're so versatile when it comes to eating them. Eat them tradish style by just crunching in. Peel apart the layers and scrape off the peanut butter then reassemble. Slice 'em up into bite-sized bits. The possibilities are endless.

3. Zebra Cakes. I love zebra cakes for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which is that you get two in a pack. What? That squishy, cream-filled cake covered in sugary icing with just the right amount of firmness was so good you ate it already? No worries. There's another one in the pack!!!! I also love the Christmas tree variety, except that you only get one of these in a pack. But the trees have sprinkles. Mmmmm, sprinkles.

2. Star Crunch. Okay. Star Crunch. So, so good. Crispy. Caramel-y. Chocolatey. I think one of the added benefits of the Star Crunch is that the caramel takes a little bit longer to chew than your average snack cake, so you get to enjoy the Star Crunch on average about 1 minute longer than other Little Debbies. Oh yeah, and they taste seriously, seriously good.

1. Oatmeal Creme Pies. Was there ever really any question that this would be number one? I think not. (Although, apparently, this should have been on the marriage questionnaire for the hubs. Swiss Cake Rolls? Please.) Soft chewy oatmeal cookies, filled with sweet creamy yumminess. Plus the added bonus of the "peel-apart" option for varied eating. And they leave that nice greasy feeling on your fingers that lets you know you just enjoyed something sinfully delicious. Oh yeah, the OCP is clearly the king of all Little Debbies. Hands down. I dare you to disagree.

So there you go. The top 5 Little Debbie snack cakes. Hungry yet? Probably should have put a "don't read if on a diet" disclaimer on this post. Oh well. Happy Tuesday!

p.s. I would tell you that no OCPs were harmed in the making of this photograph, but that would be a big, big lie. And if you lie, the calories go right to your hips.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The First Family of Fall ~ Chicago Family Photographer

Sofia, Gavin and their mom and dad get the prestigious and official title "First Family of Fall." Why? Because they were my first family session of the fall, of course! I met up with these cuties in Highland Park on a very blustery fall day. They handled the cold and wind like champs, however, and even managed to be really, really cute at the same time. What a feat!

I had a hard time narrowing down a preview from this session because I loved all of these so much. They really embody what I'm striving to capture in any family session: real, natural family fun.

After spending some time amongst the changing leaves, we finished up over in Highwood, where we sampled a little of the local flavor. (And by local flavor, I mean cupcakes from The Bent Fork bakery. Yum!) Thanks, guys, for withstanding the hurricane and allowing me to capture your beautiful faces! You are troopers!