We’re Real Sick Over Here

sicktissuesI’m 8 tissue boxes deep in some real gross crud. Issa was sick first and as any mom knows that’s basically the worst. Seeing your baby sick evokes the most helpless feeling imaginable. Right as she was starting to get better she was kind enough to share it with me. I mean, when your very sick daughter wants to feed you cheerios from her slimy wet hands because its the only thing that will make her smile, you kind of have to let her. I think she had the light version though (thank God) because I’ve been pretty much knocked out the last five days.

That said please know I am not ignoring your calls, e-mails, etc. This is the longest I’ve felt well enough just to type out this mini blog post. I’m hoping to be back on my feet by Monday and will start replying to calls and e-mails then.

In the mean time take your vitamins (I hear this is going around) and enjoy the holiday weekend for us as we’ve canceled our out of town plans and will be recovering on the couch for the Fourth of July. Sick days are really hard to take when your a small family owned operation like ourselves. Thank you so much for understanding.

Blueberry Picking and Making Memories

Issa’s favorite food right now are blueberries, which she excitedly calls “boo-bees”. So when Bill and I woke up Saturday morning I looked at him and said “lets go picking, blueberries or blackberries?” There wasn’t much to discuss, blueberries it was.

So we got ready and headed out to Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm in Conroe, TX. Moorhead’s has been around since the  70′s and it’s over 20 acres of over 20 different varieties of blueberries. All this variety means they ripen at different times so there’s a steady supply of pick your own blueberries in north Houston throughout the summer.

Blueberry picking in Conroe, TX Photographer

The opportunity to teach Issa, hands on, about her favorite fruit had me smiling ear to ear. She’s such a little sponge these days, soaking up so much information and learning how to do all sorts of things. I dream of having our own land one day with chickens and huge gardens. But for now I am so thankful for my two 5′x5′ raised beds that are loaded with herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers right now, ready to pick in just a few weeks. I want her to understand where her food comes from, and make good food choices and eat clean. So until we can grow our own blueberries or clementines or whatever else I’ll teach her by going to other local farms like Moorhead’s or Matt’s Family Orchard or Gramen Farms or Atkinson Farms, which I’ve written about before here and here.

Moorhead's Blueberry Farm Photographer Conroe, TX

Once Issa learned that the bushes around us were covered with blueberries she was thrilled. Bill taught her the difference between the blue, red and white ones and that the blue ones were the only ones that were good for eating. We told her how the sun and water help feed the pants and without it they would die. She was soaking up every moment and eating quite a few blueberries in the process. Moorhead’s is free of pesticides so I felt really good letting her eat them right from the bushes.

Blueberry picking in Conroe, TX Photography

The map above shows all the places people have come from to pick blueberries there. They also sell honey from their beehives on the farm. I’m a sucker for local honey. We only picked for a little over an hour and even with lots of “Issa don’t eat the berries on the ground” and “You have to leave the white and red ones on the bush for them to get ripe” (since she couldn’t eat them she would pick them and toss them on the ground) we still picked 4.5 lbs. At $2.50 a pound you just can’t beat it, even in the heat. And the bushes are tall enough in some areas to provide a decent amount of shade. After purusing the local canned goods and grabbing a ice only snow cone we headed home. It was a fun day and a really great summer memory. If you live in the area I highly suggest checking out Moorhead’s Blueberry Farm.

A Preview of the New Whole Foods Market Champions in Spring, TX

You may remember a post from years ago where I talked about Trader Joe’s coming to The Woodlands and pleading with Whole Foods to open a market on the north side, Whole Foods Market Champions Forrest. Then in June of 2012 I went to the Trader Joe’s opening day and shared about it here, again with a plea to Whole Foods to steal some of the market share from Trader Joe’s and build closer to our side of Spring. Then on October of 2012 I posted about a little sign less than a mile from my house on the corner of a wooded area “Whole Foods Market Coming Soon”. I like to think they heard my pleas, at least, we’ll pretend they did.

If you follow me on instagram you’ve seen pictures over the last two years of the progress going on in that little corner. It’s been a long time coming. Issa was about the size of an avocado in my belly when I first spotted that little sign. But today, today something magical happened. Bill, Issa (who is now quite a bit larger than an avocado), a few of our neighbor friends and I all went to a preview of the new store, and let me say, it was worth the wait. It’s beautiful, you know, if you’re like me and well designed grocery stores with an excellent selection of local, organic and healthy products really excites you.

The Whole Foods Market Champions officially opens this Wednesday, June 25, 2014. You should check it out. But if you can’t make it or are just way too excited here’s a whole lot of pictures and some details on what the new store has to offer.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

I love everything about the design of this store, the colors are fantastic, everything is very spread out and there’s tons of space. It’s HUGE in comparison to some of the other stores (especially the Kirby store, which is the one we normally frequent). Throughout the preview they had samples of Whole Foods items like the in-store smoked brisket above as well as lots of really cool products from local vendors.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

The bulk candy wall is really fun, and dangerous because it’s right across from the produce. Calories and sugar aside, it’s really pretty to look at. The rest of the bulk goods area is very open and it’s huge, which means no fighting people to get what you need when they stand there staring blankly at the options.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

Supporting organic farmers…I’m really for this but I also love the typography throughout the design of the store. Very pretty.

Above is Green Plate Foods, a local Houston, TX company sampling their Nubblers, a simple five ingredient raw, vegan, dried fruit snack. This was our first time trying these and we are really big fans, they’re going to be a new household staple.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

Like most other Whole Foods locations there’s a great beer and wine selection, but there is also a good sized bar. We had a great chat with the general manager of the new store and she said there will be wine and beer tastings and cheese pairings. I’m excited.

Also above are three more local vendors. (From left to right…) Enfusia which is based out of The Woodlands, TX, they make really lovely (and vegan) bath products. Then there is Wrights of Texas from Katy, TX who make really good salsa. I’ve been a huge fan of their green salsa for years, it has cucumber in it, it sounds weird. Trust me, it’s delicious. Last is Kickin’ Kombucha, made here in Houston. It’s the only kombucha I drink. The Everyberry Hibiscus is my favorite but I tried The Goodness today and it was also really good.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

Above is NadaMoo! out of Austin, TX. They make really yummy ice cream without eggs, sugar or dairy. There was also Chameleon Cold Brew, which is also really good.

Inside the new Champions Whole Foods is an awesome coffee bar. I need to talk about the design above. I’m 99% sure that’s a shipping container. They had tons of these sitting in the parking lot during the building process. I’d like to think they used one of those. Even if they didn’t, I love the design.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

In the wide shot above, near the top right corner you can see the very cool seating area. There’s also an outdoor patio up there. I’m looking forward to enjoying coffee and sushi up there. Speaking of sushi, it was really really good as well.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

Can you spot Bill and Issa in the photo above?

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

I was watching a Bobby Flay something or another, or maybe it was Alton Brown on Food Network. They were talking about cheese and after listing all these things about buying the right cheese, they said, “or you can just ask your cheesemonger”. And I thought to myself, “I don’t think I have a cheesemonger, but I now feel like I should”. The cheese section at this new Whole Foods is beautiful, and while I’m not sure if they have an official cheesemonger, I’m pretty sure those folks behind the counter know a whole heck of a lot about cheese. And for cheese lovers like myself, that’s exciting news.

Above are two other vendors eppa sangria, which happens to be the only American made all organic sangria. We also chatted with the very sweet folks from Smart Flour Foods who make gluten free foods like pizza from ancient grains (not rice flour) and they actually taste quite good. If you’ve ever gotten the gluten free pizza from Mellow Mushroom you’ve had smart flour foods. Very tasty.

WholeFoodsChampionsPreview-8 Spring, TX

And to finish up this very long post here’s a shot of my sweet girl with her Kickin’ Kombucha sticker and the sudden torrential rains that came along right as we were about to leave. I guess we were in the 20% chance of rain area cause it poured something fierce.

When we were talking to the manager she mentioned how it was stressed to her that this was going to be a family store. We’re looking forward to checking out kids workshops, the kids play area and even some of the adult workshops and tastings. Thank you Whole Foods Market for coming to the neighborhood, we’re really excited you’re here.

Glen & Melissa, A Wooded Engagement Session, The Woodlands, TX

Melissa is a person who is near and dear to my heart. I met her when she was in our youth group years ago. She reminded me of myself at that age and we had a lot in common. I’ve watched her grow, battle, succeed, and excel in life. A few years ago I had the privilege to shoot her senior photos and last week I had the honor of shooting her engagement photos, and next may I’ll be shooting her wedding and I couldn’t be more thrilled. She also was Issa’s nanny for the last 6 months and the fact that she loves my daughter and my daughter loves her makes me love Melissa even more. Glen is marrying a wonderful woman, but he knows that.

Engagement Photography The Woodlands, Texas

Melissa and I worked together to build the woodland magical theme of the session. In the beginning we tossed around a bunch of different ideas but this really fit them. Bill and I made the tent in the photos. He fashioned all the wood for the a-frame tent from this tutorial. During a slow weekday Issa and I ventured to every thrift shop I could think of for crocheted doilies. We scored the mother load for a great price too, as well as a few other treasures. I still needed a few more to finish up the tent so my mom found several that belonged to my grandmother which made this shoot even more special for me. Several late nights and a lot of piecing and whip stitching later, we had a finished tent.

Engagement Photography The Woodlands, Texas Woods Engagement Photography Session Spring, Texas

The wardrobe was 100% Melissa. If I could, I’d have her style all of my clients’ wardrobes because she really does a fantastic job. Don’t believe me, check out her senior session, that was all her too.

Wooded Engagement Photography, Spring, TX Rural Engagement Session Spring TX

The location was a special place they found and spend a lot of time at so it made the whole engagement photo session all the more personal. I am pretty sure I am in love with this location and will most definitely be shooting there again. For the time being, it will be our little secret.

DIY Tent Photography Spring, TX Engagement Photographer Spring TX

And that’s Melissa & Glen’s engagement photo session! Thank you guys for being adventurers and for letting me capture this time and create art with you. I can’t wait to see these images printed and to shoot your wedding next year.

Lane : A Spring Texas Rural Senior Photo Session

We’ve actually known Lane for a while, back when he was a Freshman he attended a small youth group that Bill and I led. He’s a fantastic person, with a killer smile that can light up a room. The fact that he’s a senior is kind of blowing my mind, time couldn’t have passed that quickly. But apparently it did because he graduates in a few weeks and is headed off to University of North Texas to start a new chapter in his life. Crazy. So Lane, it was a privilege to know you during the beginning of your high school career, and a honor to capture this time in your life through my art. Thank you and I wish you the best of luck.

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What Does the Fox Say Party – Issa’s First Birthday

I tend to go overboard for parties, it’s true, and Issa’s first birthday was no exception. In January (her birthday is in March) I started brain storming theme ideas. I’ll never be one to do a character themed party, at least I say that now, there may be tiny child demands for it later. Let me rephrase, as long as I have control I will never do a character themed party, so that was out of the question.

I really tried to think about Issa, and who she was at the time as a 9 month old human. She was crawling, she really thought we were hilarious, but one thing really stuck out in my head, she loved the What Does the Fox Say song by the Norweegian band Ylvis. If she was screaming, and we played it, she would stop immediately. She would dance to it. And the video was one of the few things she’d stare at, completely captivated. Don’t believe me? Check my instagram feed, there’s videos and pictures to back up my claims. So there it was, my ah-ha moment, she was going to have a What Does the Fox Say Birthday Party.

I got to checking out pinterest, there wasn’t a lot there, a few fox themed baby showers and birthday parties but mostly it was either a really new idea or 4o0 million or so views of the YouTube video must have been a mistake (honestly a good thousand or so of those views are from us, remember how I said the song calms her instantly, yeah). So I started with a color scheme and went from there and here are the results (the awesome vendors I found are listed throughout the post in case you’re curious).

Fox cake, bacon on a stick

The Food

I decided to go with a brunch menu because really, who doesn’t love brunch? We had bacon on a stick, mini quiches, pigs in a blanket, doughnut towers, mini powdered doughnuts, an assortment of dips, strawberries, grapes and blackberries, mini bagels, mini cinnamon rolls and spinach dip. There were also puff snacks for the littles. The bacon on a stick was incredibly easy and by far the biggest hit of the party, we used this tutorial. My mother-in-law was an absolute trooper because she took the reigns on food prep and went with it full force.

The cupcakes were made by the fabulous Stacy at Stacy’s for the Love of Cake. I’m so blessed to have such great people in my life because Stacy not only makes beautiful and delicious cakes, but she is also my good friend. She made the very cool What Does the Fox Say cupcakes and cake topper for Issa’s cake.

I ended up making Issa’s cake because the one time we gave her sugar she ended up vomiting all over me and a friends house. It was a lot and I didn’t want a reenactment on her first birthday so I found this sugarless cake recipe and it ended up being quite tasty, like a wheaty banana bread. The frosting was whipped cream cheese which Stacy so gracefully took over for me in the last few minutes before the party started when I’m always running around like a crazy person.

Bill made the doughnut towers, which was inspired by this DIY tutorial. It’s pretty simple, get a 2×4 and dowel rods, drill a few holes and stick the dowels in. Then load it up with doughnuts.

What does the fox say lyric wallwhat does the fox say themed party

The Drinks

We had orange juice, lemonade, coffee, tea, and water, but we also had a Mimosa Bar. We did it very simply, fill a bucket with ice, stick in some carafes of OJ and a few bottles of champaign. Done. The polka dot straws above are from Target clearance, but I’ve seen them all over etsy. The printable straw flags are a printable I created that you can now buy in my Etsy Shop!

what does the fox say cupcakes brunch fox partyFirst Birthday Chalkboard art

The Decor

Because there wasn’t a lot on pinterest I really had to dig inside my creative mind to come up with some original decor ideas. First off, I knew I wanted a wall of the lyrics. It was huge, inexpensive (butcher paper here) and it made a statement, plus it was really easy and it took less than an hour. I just measured the wall, scaled that size down and laid out the text in a design program. Then I  hung the paper – do not do this alone and do not drop the very heavy roll on your pinky toe, it will turn black…your toe, not the paper. I used a projector hooked up to my computer to project the words and traced them with a very thick sharpie. We timed it, 58 minutes total and totally worth it.

The beautiful tissue poms were from Tamy over at TamsCorner on Etsy. She is an absolute gem. There are a lot of folks selling tissue poms on Etsy but I will forever order them from Tamy. She has the largest assortment of colors and her prices are great and the quality of the poms is excellent. Plus I feel like we’re kinda friends now after we bonded through Etsy conversations about our kids and our work. She’s awesome.

The fireplace mantel was adorned with a banner of prints of Issa’s month to month pictures as well as some additional prints and giant 8″ chipboard letters we painted. We also made fox garlands which was a combo of 2″ circles Bill cut out for me with my 2″ circle punch and really cool die cut craft paper foxes we got here.

The Issabella on her first birthday chalkboard poster is something I created for her and now hangs on her bedroom door. It’s a completely customized piece that captures everything about her at that moment. To be honest I wish I would have done one of these for every month, just so I could remember. This is actually a brand new item in my etsy shop, so you can get your own and it’s good for all birthdays.

My mom and I made doily garland as well. I’d read a few tutorials about how to dye doilies. I tried them out but failed miserably so mom suggested we paint them. It worked and one day while Issa napped and I worked she attached them to string, decided they were too wrinkly from the wet paint, and ironed them all out. Two months later they’re still hanging, I love them.

So apparently they took the song and made a children’s book, because why not? The illustrations are way trippy, but they are excellent. Guests were asked to sign the book with a message for the birthday girl.

fox first birthday party, doughnut towerswhat does the fox say party printables

The Birthday Girl’s Outfit

I am a firm believer that every girl, no matter the age, should be allowed to wear a tutu on their birthday. I hunted  for a good while for a really full white tutu that would fit her tiny frame. The night before the party I was ready to give up on that dream. I’ve learned with big shin-digs like this, come the night before the party you just have to let go of some things. I am not Martha Stewart. But Esther (my mother-in-law, seen above kissing the birthday girl) came to my rescue and offered to make one. Two rolls of tulle ribbon, a headband and a movie later she’d made our little lady the fullest, most adorable tutu ever and for under $6.

The fox hat was made by my friend Shavante who lives in NY and does very cool graphic design things there and who also is amazing at crocheting things and sells said things on her etsy shop Potbelly Baby. I showed her a picture of what I liked about a week before the party and she whipped this adorable hat up and had it brought to me by Superman (read: had it overnighted) so it would be here in time for the party. Thank you Shavante, you’re seriously the best.

The cupcake bloomers were a gift at our baby shower from Stacy (the aforementioned cake lady) and it just so happened to fit Issa on her first birthday.

first birthday party printables

Party Favors

At the beginning of the song they say things like, “Cow goes Moo, Frog goes Croak” and an assortment of other animal onomonopias and people are running around in animal masks. So I figured why not recreate that. So we did. There was a stack of assorted animal masks (see the group shot above) with a What Does the Fox Say party printable explaining that they were for both kids and adults.

We also had bubbles and silly straws with What Does the Fox Say Thank You Circles attached, also for sale in my shop.

doily bunting, fox bunting, what does the fox say party

The Entertainment

I am incredibly blessed to have gotten to know so many moms with kids Issa’s age through our neighborhood and our library group. If you want to get connected with moms in your area check out your local library and see what free programs they have for your kids. Seriously I don’t think I could have gotten through the first year without these women and I am so very glad they were all able to celebrate Issa with us and just live life with us.

That said, we put out quilts in the back yard for all the smallest littles to play. We brought out tons of toys and most of the adults were entertained just by watching the kids. For the older kids I had just gotten a hugh subscribe and save shipment in from Amazon.com and mom had just bought a new chair which came with it’s own very large box. Together there was a box playground for all the kids to play in and create in. A friend just told me this week that ever since Issa’s party her kindergardener has been saving boxes to create with.

I also did an Issa’s first year video. I compiled all of the short video clips we’d taken over the past year into one 10 minute video. It played on a loop inside on our TV and it was awesome to watch her grow before your eyes.

what does the fox say party

Also a very special thank you to Maricruz of Maricruz Photography for coming out and taking so many of these beautiful images, you are fantastic my dear. Also thank you to my dear friend Andrea of Ethan Avery Photography for grabbing my camera when I was preoccupied and getting shots from a whole other perspective. I am so thankful for all of my talented friends.

To all who came to Issa’s first birthday thank you. I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for each of you and what you mean to me and my family. We are incredibly blessed by the number of friends, and family who love and support us.

Happy birthday baby girl, you have challenged us and pushed us and shown us a love we could have never imagined. I am so humbled and grateful that God chose us to be your parents. You are so incredibly loved and we are overwhelmed by the number of people who came to celebrate you. I’m excited to rejoice in each stage of your life as it happens and to see who you become. I love you.

Joe : A Klein Collins Football Senior Photo Sesson

Joe is the oldest in his family. I’ve shot his family several times before, here and here, but it was kind of fun to just focus on Joe and get to know him a little bit better. Joe played football for Klein Collins and is headed to Blinn to play some more football.

We had a lot going against us for his session. The stadium we planned on shooting at was filled with track and field folks, and no one at the gates were helpful about if we could get in just to take pictures. We headed to his home field just as it started to sprinkle. We fought the rain and won for a while but with the extreme overcast it was impossible to get any gorgeous light photos for his non football themed pictures. So we shot all his football photos in the impending rain and rescheduled the rest of his session for another day.

I couldn’t be more thankful for the weather we had for the rest of his session. The light was perfect. And you may notice, Joe got a bit of a hair cut.

Best of luck Joe. Thanks for letting us capture this time in your life.

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DilibertoPhoto&Design-Senior Photography-Joe Football Spring TX

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A Photography Session Among Friends, Spring, TX

When both Jenna and Hannah e-mailed me about doing their senior photography sessions and that they really wanted to do a mini session together I thought sure, why not. It’s always been our policy that if you and a friend book a senior session, we’ll do a free mini session with both seniors. I’m all about celebrating friendship and these ladies have a strong one. They made me laugh SO hard and you could tell they have that kind of life long friendship. I’m so glad I was able to meet them both and share in the excitement as they begin this new stage of life as well as document this friendship.

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A Rustic Senior Photo Session, Hannah

The morning of the day of Hannah’s senior photo session I thought I was going to loose my mind. Issa was having one of those terrible days where babies just cry and scream and you have no idea what’s wrong because they can’t tell you and it could be anything and the few words they can use, flower, balloon, ball, dada, etc. don’t really aid the situation. It was a day I felt guilty, I felt like I couldn’t be a mom and do what I love. I questioned my ability to mother. I questioned God’s trust in me to do both, mother a child and a business. It was, plain and simple, a very hard day.

Fast forward, we dropped Issa off at a friend’s house, I apologized for giving them that kid, in that state. I shook off the unsettled feelings of the morning and went to work, and it was magical. It was a gift of an afternoon. Perfect weather, perfect cloud cover, perfect location. Perfect client.

I’d met Hannah at Jenna’s senior photo session the week prior, so we already had a good rapport. She’s a fantastic person, outgoing and quite funny and she was absolutely natural in front of the camera, her mom attributed this to selfies on instagram and snap chat. Jenna’s brother was kind enough to bring his pristine 1986 GMC truck, which was their parents truck when they were kids.

And while we were doing the session all the stresses of the day washed right away. It was easy. It was energizing, and it affirmed in my heart that this is also my calling and that doing it makes me a better person and thus a better mom to my daughter.

So thank you Hannah for giving me the opportunity to shoot your senior photos. It meant a lot to me.
Spring Senior Photographer Tomball Texas Senior Photographer Rustic Senior Photos in Spring Texas, Vintage Truck Senior Photography Spring, Texas Classic Truck Senior Photographer Spring Texas Rustic Rural

A Senior Photography Session, Jenna

Jenna found me online, but oddly enough that whole six degrees of separation thing worked because she rides horses at the same stables in Tomball, TX that Jaclyn rode at when I did her senior photo session about two years ago. When Jenna filled out her client info form and I read she wanted to take her senior photos with her horse I was elated. I loved shooting at those stables and horses have a special place in my heart.

The session with Jenna was full of laughter, she brought her friend Hannah along (who also did her senior session with us, more on that later) and her mom. Jenna and Hannah together were hysterical. They’re both fantastic ladies, headed to A&M, and I was just honored to spend some time with them and capture this part of their lives.

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