Monday, August 23, 2010

{Personal} My Mom's Birthday Dinner Party

My sis and I are creative. And adventurous. And stubborn about making our visions come true. All traits we inherited directly from our mom. Our mom who is the I-can-sew-anything, I-can-build-anything, my-motto-is-"itcan'tbethathard" mother. Yup, I'm convinced that if my mom doesn't know *how* to do it, she'll figure it out. Once a crazy-random-exciting idea hits, she's the one to make it happen. :) It's quite admirable.

Which brings me to the point of this blog entry.
My mom.
And her milestone 50th birthday.

Our family wanted to honor her, because she's worthy of honor. But Mom is not a person who likes to be the center of attention. So a big-ol'-shindig (can't believe I used that word) was completely out of the question... She requested a *small* dinner party surrounded by a few friends and family.

And when my sis and I heard "dinner party," our creative minds went a little crazy... "ooooo, we've never done a dinner party before.. with courses, and plated food.. and what should we serve for the soup?.. and fine china.. where should we have it?.. beautiful summer weather!.. what about outside? with candlelight? in the late evening?? should we have a theme?"
Through weeks of planning and phone debate and menu choices + changes + second thoughts..
Through hours upon hours of food prep, the evening was upon us..

The stage was set... Fine silver-and-white china, handwritten placecards, flickering candlelight, fresh blackeye-Susans, under a white canopy surrounded by strings of white lights. The threatening cloudy sky of earlier that day would fade into a beautiful soft evening light + gentle summer breezes.

First course: Appetizers

We're STILL smilling.. having fun.. cooking like CAAH-RAZY.

This might've had something to do with chugging chocolate milk. :) Liquid energy, my friends!!
Hey, if it's good enough for Michael Phelps... :)

Plating food is fun!

Second Course: Salad

PS---Nikki and I decided to garnish everything. Because "you eat with your eyes first"... and obviously we have watched waaay too much Food Network for our own good. ;)

Third Course: Soup - Wisconsin Cheese Soup

Fourth Course: Entree - Shrimp Linguini

In between courses, we were busy refilling drink glasses... bringing out warm home-baked French bread and herb butter.. and every few minutes, from inside the kitchen, I could hear bursts of laughter... out the door with trays in hand.. I see smiles.. and especially on my mom's face. :)

Fifth Course: Dessert
We couldn't choose just one.... so it's a sampler!!
Classic Cheesecake, Deep Chocolate Cupcake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting, Strawberry Granita

And after dessert was served.. we finally sat down to enjoy the party... exhausted, with aching feet, and still-empty stomachs... but dessert is the best part anyway. :)

My sis.. enjoying the fruits of our labor!

Me... with a calming cup of tea. :)

And then cuddling with a little niece who seemed even more exhausted than I was. :)

But we're happy. Happy to say, "Happy Birthday!" to the mom that gave us life & raised us right! :)
"Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all."
Proverbs 31:28-29

*all photos of me taken by my nice brother, Zeph*

Thursday, August 19, 2010

{Senior Portraits} Janet

Janet's senior portrait session was centered around a whole road trip down to a beautiful place called "Longwood Gardens." I had never been there before, though many friends told me of its charms... and my favorite painting was inspired by a gazebo at Longwood. :) Several girls (including Janet) and I had a wonderful day chattering about flowers, talking about perfume, a little picknicking and fun shopping. We were just heading back to the gardens for Janet's portrait session in the pretty evening light... and we saw that the gates were closed. *alarmed* Unfortunately, we had just assumed that the hours were the same every day.. not so, and the gardens were already closed for the evening! Sooo we went through about 30 seconds of sadness, and then decided to improvise!! :) Making the most of every opportunity!

On an old Quaker meeting-house porch...

With a funny parasol we found in a fair-trade shop that day...

I love Janet's expressions here.. all elegance & contemplation. :)

A rustic fence by the roadside..

Another fence... and Janet's CUTE shoes! :)

I pretty much loved this field from the first time we drove by it... and by the third time, I said, We must go to the field!!

Old train station. (several deer walked across the tracks while we were here. lol. How amusing! To me, anyway!)

What a lovely day... and what a lovely girl to take pictures of. :) Janet, always stay as lovely on the inside as you are on the outside! Looooooved spending a day capturing your beautiful face! :)

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Monday, August 16, 2010

{Children} Raegan & Piper

Photographing children can be challenging. Because attention spans are very small and goodness knows, me--the photographer--is never quite as interesting as Mommy. But I'm okay with that. :) Through the last few months, I've learned a little bit more about how to successfully photograph children... from smiling constantly, working quickly, suggesting the parent brings another person to "wrangle" additional children, and even giving out lollipops (yes, I believe in bribery--I figure, it works with the nieces and nephew!).

An early August Saturday found me photographing two darling sisters.
Meet Raegan. Three years old, cute, and incredibly smiley.

1st shot. No joke. She likes the camera!

And then there was the cutest Hawaiian sundress outfit.

And then there's Piper.
Three months old. With big blue eyes and adorable brunette hair. :)

Actually, the following photo is my absolute *favorite* of the whole session. There's something about her eyes that is so expressive! I stare at it all the time!

What sweet girlies!

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