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Slimming Valentine’s gifts

It’s the SECOND most wonderful time of the year…  Well, sort of.

I feel like I just finished my gift giving holidays and now I am expected to give something for Valentines!

My husband and I have stopped celebrating Valentine’s Day in the traditional cards and candy sense.  Neither of us wants those things.  I am not a particular fan of heart-shaped things, flowers always die and candy {well, it makes me fat, right?.}  So, we invest in each other for Valentine’s Day.  During that week sometime, we turn off our cellphones, TV, iPads, etc. and spend quality time together.  If you know my husband, you know that that is a better gift and a harder one for him to give than a box of chocolates.

SO IF YOU’RE WATCHING YOUR WAISTLINE this year and looking to  give that special someone a thoughtful low-calorie  gift, consider a child or family photo session or silhouette session as a GREAT way to show them that you care.

Book your session between now and FEBRUARY 14th and I’ll give you 25% off session fees and prints!

Like me on facebook and I’ll give you another 5% off {you’re up to 30% off now}

Signup for the newsletter and I’ll give you another extra 5% off.  {That’s 35% off!}

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FIF #84

I almost didn’t do this one, but I couldn’t resist the challenge.  The women at iheartfaces have come up with a real editing challenge for this week’s Fix It Friday.  Check out all the entries at their site

Here is the original SOOC (straight out of the camera) version.

Here’s what I did.

I played with the saturation, the levels, and added touches of light and dark to even out the shading.  I sharpened her face a bit and cloned out the spit.   And then I ran Pioneer Woman’s 70s action on it (but changed the groups opacity to 75%).  I also needed to crop out the feet, while leaving a hint of the cute little piggies below.

Here ‘s a bonus black and white version.

Let me know how I did.  Enjoy.  SPL

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a fabulous b-side

After the dinosaurs went extinct, a baby boy was born in Bethlehem and nearly 1900 years later Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph.  As the recording medium grew in popularity, record companies began to produce small 7″ albums often called 45s (the rpm at which they were played.)  There was an A-side and a B-side.  The A-side was reserved for the popular hit, while the B-side was usually a lesser known song or even an outtake or joke.

However, many b-sides in have become great.

“Into the Groove”  Madonna

“I’m Free” the Rolling Stones

“Murder by Numbers”  the Police

“Pink Cadillac”  Bruce Springsteen

“The Sweetest Thing”  U2

“Be-Bop A Lula”  Gene Vincent

“Yellow Ledbetter” Pearl Jam

“Rain” the Beatles

“Don’t Worry Baby”  the Beach Boys

“Unchained Melody” the Righteous Brothers

So why am I fixated on B-Sides? Well, I have two boys, my A-side and my B-side.  My husband is a B-side (second and, even worse, a middle child.)  My second child is unbelievable and I am determined to make him feel just a special as his A-side – first-born brother.  I knew that I had to take a ton of photos of him at his birth, because as in my husband’s family and in many other families, there are albums chock full of photos of the first born and only a small smattering of second-child photos.

So the other day, I had the opportunity to photograph a fabulous B-side baby boy.  He is beautiful and already a huge hit with his parents and family.  Take a look.

Enjoy.  He’s no one hit wonder.  SPL

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Am I hot or cold?

The answer is: I am fickle.  And so are you, I’d bet.  When it’s cold outside {like now}, we dream of the warmer days at the pool or barbecues on someone’s back porch.  And then we’re reminded of the endless swim meets, of the thick wall of heat that greets you when leaving the house, of the crazy electric bills from the blasting AC, and that that infernal barbecue is at your weird neighbor/co-worker/uncle/fill in your blank’s house.  So, in those sultry, languid months of, say, July or August, our faintly faithful hearts begin to yearn for winter.

Will we ever be content?

To celebrate and engage those wishy-washy pangs, I am uploading some hot and cold photos.

You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.  That’s what my son’s teacher says {and I know she’s already thinking about Spring Break.}  SPL

Homemade peppermint marshmallows and real deal hot chocolate.  Want the recipe?


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do you hear what I hear?

No one would ever accuse me of being a talented singer.  No one.  But, I do make a joyful noise around the holidays.  And so, I have my car radio tuned to our local Easy Listening station which from Thanksgiving to Christmas plays non-stop holiday schmaltz.  And I eat it up!  I sing all of the syrupy holiday tunes like an uninhibited kid, like the car is my personal shower, like that drunk lady at the karaoke bar… Well, you get the idea.

Do you know how many different versions (and unlikely couples) there are of “It’s Cold Outside” ?  I’m waiting for Ke$ha and maybe Michael Bublé to give it a go… That would be an interesting sound, don’t ya think?

Family photos shoots and one-year-olds are hard to mix as well.  And for this holiday shoot, little man here wanted to make his own brand of holiday joy.  And what a noise it was.  It’s a bit “pterodactyl meets Braveheart.”  We were all crying for “freedom!” in the end.

Bring on the noise!  SPL

Daddy’s got a handle on the situation.

Oops, he got away for a second

After some serious Photoshopping, I got everyone together…

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the sound of little girls

Gender-wise I am outnumbered 3 to 1 in my house.  The toilet seat is always up around here.  And my boys are LOUD!  They run, they jump, they break things and cause general mayhem everywhere, leaving behind a wake of legos, Nerf darts, snack crumbs and flatulence.  That’s what my little darlings are made of.

Girls are much quieter and calmer, or at least these three put on a good act.  We did have lot of good laughs and one fart {but I excused myself.}  Just kidding.

Enjoy the quiet, fragrance-free photos.  SPL



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cool in the cold

You don’t realize exactly how incredible people are until you stare into their eyes for a few hours.  {However, they might think you’re a bit creepy.}  And editing photos lets me and forces me to stare at people’s faces for periods of time that would be rude if they were really right in front of me.  After chaining myself to the keyboard and the all-powerful Photoshop the other day {because the holiday photos wait for no one,} I noticed for the first time that my friend’s husband had green eyes and that she had little dimples and a funny crinkly place above her nose when she smiles.  They were cute little features that I had glanced over during the years that I have known them.  This study of laugh lines and other marks of beauty  is an interesting albeit slightly awkward by-product of  my photography business.  I find people’s faces amazingly complex and therefore more beautiful, crinkly spots, dimples, warts and all.

And that’s a fun intro to this gorgeous foursome {who should not to be confused with the people mentioned above.}  I snapped away in just over 30 degree F weather.  Sunny and frosty {by Norfolk standards.}  The family was freezing, but you’d never know if from their smiles.   I gazed on their frigid visages for a while, but they really just look this great any ol’ time.  They were too cool in the cold.

Enjoy, but don’t stare too long…  SPL

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holiday joy traditionally speaking

I am neither completely traditional nor tradition-oriented.  We didn’t have too many family traditions when I was growing up.  We had consistency though: unbelievable food, lots of loud Italians to talk about the food and more pasta.

But, I recently signed up for an online photography class with my neighbor, Kelly Willette, called Finding the Holiday Joy.  If you live in the Norfolk area, drive down my street and you’ll find her house.  You’ll know it when you see it; the Willettes love them some Christmas tradition.

Anyway, back to the class.  It’s all about documenting your holiday traditions on film or SD card, as the case may be.  But, being tradition-phobic, I was completely daunted by the first two lessons: advent calendars and finding the right tree.   To keep my yearly holiday cheer intact, my husband and I decided about seven years ago to buy an everlasting tree {read: fake}.  So, that tradition’s a bust; I always find the tree in the basement.  I did try to take a photo of my husband struggling to pull the beast from that dank netherworld, but needless to say, he wouldn’t strike a pose {or at least one that I would want on film; his hand gestures were not so traditional.}

And, I don’t have an advent calendar!  Yikes.  I immediately surfed to for help, but nothing would arrive in time and I really felt that I was forcing the tradition more than feeling it.  “Have I tradition-starved my children?” I thought.  Well, not really.  We do our things, our way.  Like, nothing BEATZA Christmas Eve PIZZA!  {photos to follow after the holiday.}  But, for the sake of my online class, I recorded a few things here that are Christmassy and fun for us.

And please don’t think that I am knocking others’ traditions; I think they are great.  We have friends that eat Christmas Day burritos {and they don’t have a Latin bone in their body…} and some that hide a pickle in their tree {I think that’s German.}  Comment below if you have a favorite tradition.

By the way, my older son did ask the other day for “one of those calendars that counts down until Christmas Eve.”

Enjoy.  SPL

homemade snow globes and chugga, chugga… christmas express

finding the right tree?

shopping and bad mall food.  I’ll tell you another time why I avoid the mall.

bad sweaters, this one was my “fave!” {please note the sarcastic quotes}

better sweaters

holiday dragon lights, of course

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Maybe it's a bowling alley

If you haven’t seen A Christmas Story, you won’t understand the blog title.  But, alas no bowling alley nor leg lamp arrived, but…

I won, I won, I won…  a major award.  Well, not exactly.  I don’t win things often, but yesterday I did.  There was a little giveaway at Jamie Schultz Designs.  I was randomly picked out of all the entrants.   So, I didn’t win anything on my actual talent, but by random chance.  But, hey, I’ll take it.

I just wanted to share with you what I got from the talented designer:  a Christmas card collection.  It’s odd, because I usually design all of my own cards, but now I can simply slip a cool snap into the template and voilà.

So thanks to Ms. Schultz for passing on her talents.  Check out her stuff.

Enjoy.  SPL