Random Thoughts

The Happiness Project

I follow a lot of blogs…photographers and non-photographers. Over breakfast and morning tea, while Luca explores his toys, I read blogs. I have been admiring a few blogs that have projects. Like 101 in 1001. (which is to accomplish 101 goals in 1001 days), or 250 books in one year, or the 365 photo project (where you take and post a photo everyday for one year). There are so many of these kinds of projects and I was inspired. I wanted to do one. But I wanted to do one that worked for me. One that I loved. One that I was more likely to follow.

Last week while grocery shopping, I stumbled across the book “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin, and in the spur of the moment bought it. I am SO glad I did. This book is literally changing my life without changing it. It is so full of amazing ideas, that I read most of the chapters twice! I have found my project! Here is the “back cover commercial” that hooked me in the store!

Gretchen had a good marriage, two healthy daughers, and work she loved-but one day stuck on a city bus, she realized that time was flashing by, and she wasn’t thinking enough about the things that really mattered. “I should have a happiness project” she decided. She spent the next year test driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.

Each month, she pursued a different set of resolutions: go to sleep earlier, quit nagging, forget the results, or take time to be silly. Bit by bit, she began to appreciate and amplify the happiness that already existed in her life.

So starting May 1, I am beginning my Happiness Project. The book clearly says that not everyones happiness project will look the same, or take the same route. If you are interested in starting one along with me, check out her blog where she has tools and ideas for starting your own!

 I can’t wait to see where mine takes me!


Dance lessons

In my head I am a fantastic dancer….like “Step Up” good. In my head I look great…I nail every move….I am completely in time with the music.

I am also not delusional enough to believe this to be true. I can see the look on Marco’s face everytime I dance. I have heard the laughs of my sisters as I used to dance in the kitchen while washing the dishes. And today, when dancing to Adele with my son he laughed at me. My 18 month old, sweet, and adorable little son laughed at me! It was too funny to not laugh back. So yes I am very aware of my HUGE lack of dancing skills. I am a 6 foot 1 Volleyball player…what do you expect?!

For my birthday Marco’s parents got me dancing lessons. (Lucky Marco he gets to come with me!) This Monday we learnt to Salsa. Once again in my head I was wearing this super flowy sequined bright pink dress and high heels.

 I was awe-some!

In reality I was wearing LuLu’s and a gray t-shirt, and at one point the instructor told us to “put some life into it”. I caught Marco laughing at me, and he said I had the deepest look of concentration as I counted the steps….one, two, three pause…five, six, seven, pause…over and over and over again. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. But after a few practices we nailed the steps with two turns, and a New Yorker! (and just like that I was ready to sign us up for a competition!)

So my moral of the story is… who cares what you look like on the outside…I think it’s all about how you think you look in your head! :)

Happy Birthday Marco!

This weekend we are away with the group of volleyball players we had our first years with at college. I can’t wait to see everyone! So I figured I would write Marco’s birthday post early.

Marco is especially excited to see everyone cause he turns 25 on Sunday! (Yes for those of you counting I am 13 months older…I always tell Marco is is so lucky to have married an older woman :)

Now between me and Marco there is this ongoing joke that I don’t really know a whole lot about him. He tells me things…and I think I just forget :S  For example last year for Valentine’s Day I bought him a HUGE bag of cinnamon hearts because they are his favourite. Apparently not! Infact he doesn’t like them at all! A similiar scenario has happened SO often that it is now a joke between us. So when getting ready to make his birthday cake this year I wanted to make sure I was ACTUALLY making his favourite….

I knew chocolate was out the window….same with anything cinnamon heart related. Finally I came across a “Cookies and Cream Cake” which is his favourite chocolate bar…or so I thought. I had to phone him at work to make sure he ACTUALLY liked Cookies and Cream. Well he did! So all afternoon Luca and I worked on making his cake to take with us this weekend!

It is So so so SO hard to not sneak a piece of this cake!! It even smells amazing!

The most important ingredient is of course Oreos….man it was hard to not eat my way through the bag as I was baking!

I even had to sample the cake batter….it tasted AMAZING!!!

Luca was being so good watching me in his highchair, so I let him try his first ever Oreo….I guess he’s a fan :)

The finished product! :)

It’s drizzled with white chocolate (don’t worry he does like white chocolate…just not regular chocolate…I checked! :) And the grey-ish icing in the middle is vanilla butter icing with crushed up Oreo cookies mixed in…mmmmmmmmmmmmm.  oh and I sampled the icing too :)

Now I just have to figure out how to get it to Sunpeaks!

Happy Birthday Marco! I hope you like your cake! I hope you have a fantastic weekend with all your closest friends. Me and Luca love you so so so SO much and can’t imagine our lives without you. You are the best person in our lives, and I would be lost without you. Thank you, THANK YOU, Thank you for just being you and for loving me.


** A few people ask that I add the recipe to Marcos delicious birthday cake! Here it is!

Cookies and Cream Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 package white cake mix without pudding in the mix

1 package white chocolate flavour instant pudding mix

1 cup vegetable oil

4 egg whites

1/2 cup milk

20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

icing ingredients

2tbsp butter

1 cup icing sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 tbsp milk

10-12 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Cake Topping ingredients

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1 tsp shortening

8 Oreo Cookies for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of two 9inch round pans with parchment paper.

2. Beat egg mix, pudding mix, oil, egg whites, and milk in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed, until well blended. Stir in chopped Oreo’s and divide batter equally between two prepared pans.

3. Bake 28-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completley before removing.

4. Icing – mix butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk together. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Stir in cookie chunks until well blended. Place one cooled cake on cake plate. Spread entire batch of icing on top of cake. Place 2nd cooled cake ontop.

5. Topping – melt chocolate chips and shortening together in glass dish in microwave for 30-40 seconds. Stir to combine. Drizzle over top of cake, and top with Oreo chunks to garnish.

ENJOY! It was delish! :)


I have a pretty amazing support network. On days like today where I am feeling discouraged I have a whole wack load of amazing friends and family I can rely on to encourage me.

Marco is my number 1 supporter! He is always there to motivate me, tell me I am doing a great job, leave me notes in my oatmeal pot so when I go to make breakfast I see it. I could not be doing this without him. I don’t think I would have taken this leap into photography and starting my own business without him.

My Mom and sisters are right there with Marco. My Mom reads and comments on every blog, my sisters are helping me coordinate a creative shoot this Spring. My sister Chantale is a wedding designer, and my other sister Monique is an amazing hair stylist. Both are so talented and have such amazing ideas :) Monique and Chantale were also models for me when I first started so I could practice as much as I could.

I do feel there is one hole in my support network that I would love to fill. Other photographers! I met and got to know some amazing photographers in WPPI and I have kept in close touch with one of them! We have sent emails back and forth almost daily talking about our work, our lives, and photographer in general. It has been amazing having another photographer to talk to!

I would love to form more relationships like this! When I am discouraged about business, or photography, or a lighting/camera issue I would love to have close photographer friends that I can network with. I would love to have coffee dates/meetings with other photographers both in the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland. I have been discouraged with this lately…I have sent out a few emails inviting other photographers out for coffee and sadly most of the time am getting no response. It is very discouraging. I am new at this career and am so wanting to learn, and network and join the community of photographers 100%! It made me wonder this morning if maybe it is because I am so new at this…I am not sure. I have so many questions and ideas for this career and I would love to have a network of photographers to bounce these ideas off of….to gain feedback on how I am doing. Feedback is the one thing I would love the most.

Since I got my first job I have been surrounded by people. I was drawn to jobs with positive atmospheres and that involved talking and working closely with groups of people on a day to day basis. I knew that photography would be hard. Other than my photoshoots it is mostly spent alone, editing, blogging, responding to emails, upgrading my website, working on marketing material, etc. I miss the day to day busy-ness of an office. I miss having co-workers. I miss working daily with other people!

So I thought I would put myself out there….see if any other photographers are feeling the same. I would love to meet for coffee or tea! :)

I am ready for Spring!

I am so over Winter. I am done with snow! Rain can go away! I am ready for sunshine, and spring flowers, and Easter! (and all the chocolate that comes with Easter :)

I was going through some of my photos from last year and I came across these ones I took in my parents back yard! They made me want Spring to be here today! My Dad is an amazing gardner, and his front and backyard always look amazing at anytime of year! Every season there is something different flowering and blooming. Every year is vegetable garden is spectacular…from potatoes, garlic and tomatoes to lettuce, blueberries and raspberries! His flower garden is overflowing with lilac, broken hearts, crocuses, tulips, daffodils (my favourite!), and many many many others I don’t know the name of!

Here are a few of my favourites!

This last one is my favourite!

In the beginning…

This week I have had coffee dates with 3 other photographers. It has been so nice to talk about work, how our businesses started and how we differ in the way we do things.

Many other photographers I follow started their blog at the same time they started their business. I am so jealous of this! I wish I had been organized enough in the beginning to think to write a blog to document this journey. I love reading how other photographers started and I think it must be so nice for them to have an online journal that displays their growth and birth of their business. My favourite posts to read on photographers blogs is their very first post, to see how it all started!

I started this blog as a “family” blog where I could write about our move, and how life in general was going. It morphed into a photography blog for my business while keeping the personal family aspect of it.

So last night while laying in bed, being jealous of everyone that had that “first blog post” I thought why not write one now!

While in University to become an elementary school teacher, I hated the camera we owned. I had taken a few film photography courses in highschool and loved working in the darkroom. The camera we owned was a small $100 purse camera that did not take photos the way I wanted them too! I would come back from trips frustrated with how my pictures had turned out and I swore to Marco that we would invest in a nice camera before we had kids.

In the Fall of 2008, my friends Sheila and Dan got engaged. As I still had my Mom’s old film camera I offered to take their engagement pictures! I had so much fun! So much fun!  It was like a lightbulb going off. I wanted to do this more. I was addicted!

So home I went to talk to Marco. I debated about whether or not I wanted to follow through and become a teacher or if I wanted to pursue photography. I finally decided that I would invest in a camera and see where things went, while still pursuing teaching as a backup.

In January of 2009, after searching craiglist for MONTHS and researching cameras and lenses. I bought my Canon 40D and the 28-135mm lens. And here is my most embaressing photography moment. When I met the lady downtown to buy the 40D, she asked if I wanted to take a photo with the camera to make sure it worked. She handed me the camera…..

I didn’t even know how to turn it on!

Yes I knew how to work my Mom’s old film 35mm, and I knew about aperature and f-stops, and all that jazz….but not this fancy digital amazing camera! I was so embaressed! I had to ask her to take a picture of me! I have only ever told a few people that story!

For the next few months I practiced on whoever would let me….my family, Marco got a photoshoot, my sister Monique got a photoshoot….

It helped me lots to have two ridiculously good looking models, but they were the first photos in my portfolio and I am so grateful to them for letting me photograph them for hours!

Unfortunatly I can’t for the life of me remember who my first paying photoshoot was! I so wish I could! I would thank them for helping me start my business.  From that point on I created a website through Vistaprint which I now hate…I was so concerned with getting a website that I didn’t take the time to research what programs were out there for building websites. It worked for me at the time, and later this week I will launch my new website through Showit. I ordered business cards, and handed them out to everyone I knew! But I still wasn’t going anywhere.

When it comes to succeeding I find it’s usually me that gets in my own way. I over think things, I worry too much, I concern myself so much with what other people will like that I lose me in the process. When I first started this journey I was so worried about what other photographers were doing that I wasn’t focusing on what I wanted to do. It didn’t hit me until a few months later when I came across a quote on the internet that goes something like this…

 “To truly succeed, you must do so by being you. To succeed at being someone else, isn’t succeeding at all.”

 I loved that quote so much and I can’t remember who it’s from, but I knew I had to start doing things my way.

In July of last year I decided to stop pursuing my teaching career and focus 100% on photography. To do things my way and to focus on how I wanted to do things. I started working on my website, started blogging more, and altered my outlook on things. I prayed lots about this decision and asked God to help me through it and to help me focus on what was the right decision for me.

A few weeks later I got a few wedding inquries and booked my first few weddings for 2011. I booked 9 portrait sessions for October. I was given the opportunity to buy Jasmine Stars wedding workshop and that inspired me even more to go after this whole heartedly and to really make this me. She said in her first video that when she first started in the business she realized she couldn’t win if she played everyone elses game, so she decided to win at her own game. She made it her own, she did things her way…this was so inspirational to me. I loved it!

I am so excited for 2011. It is my first year doing this full time. My first year fully committed to it. My first year of knowing that this is exactly what I was meant to do. I have 9 weddings booked and I am so excited for each and every one. I have made friends with these brides! I am going to Vegas for the WPPI with an amazing group of photographers from the Lower Mainland and one from California that I am sure will teach me so much. I can’t wait to hear Jasmine Star speak live, I can’t wait to hear what other photographers are doing. I have photoshoots lined up for the next couple months, a new website launching this week, a new lens, new business cards are being ordered to match my website….I feel like everything is finally coming together the way I wanted, and hoped and prayed it would in the beginning.

God has blessed me so much, and I am forever grateful!

Luca vs. Canatalope and my new lens!

Luca can’t resist cantalope! He LOVES it! He would sit and eat an entire one if I let him….he goes NUTS over it!

So to keep him occupied for longer than 5 minutes so I could try out my new lens, I strapped him in his highchair, cut up some cantalope and shot away!

The new lens I FINALLY got is the 24-70mm. I am so in love with it! I had it all figured out in December to get it, but ebay messed up, and I was on the hunt again!

 So this weekend I finally got it, and it is amazing! I am so in love with its macro capabilities, and every little thing about it! I have a feeling this one isn’t going to be coming off my camera EVER!

After waiting for the forecasted sun all day, it finally peeked out just before I took these pictures! They feel so summery :)

Luca was talking to Gramma on speakerphone when I took these….I told him to say “hi” to Gramma and he waved! (This one is for you Mom!)

Making a face at Gramma!