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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Our Adventures in Outdoor Autumn Photos





I think this was the best adventure yet!! Till next year!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Tips for FABULOUS Autumn Family Photos

It's that time of year again - that wonderfully magical time when the leaves start turning brilliant colors of the spectrum and gracefully falling to the earth by the droves. The air is crisp and just slightly damp. You can drive with no air on, just the windows down in your vehicle.
But, most importantly, it's time for family photos!!
Pictures of smiling kids all in coordinating clothes perfectly matched with their parents attire complete with hats and scarves. And of course, everyone is smiling genuinely while playing in a field of golden and amber leaves.
.......
What delusional island do YOU live on?! Please! To capture family photo like the one described above the photographer would obviously have had to drug the entire family with some kind of narcotic just to get them all looking in the same direction, let alone smiling at the same time.

But, I get it, you want to know how to get that photo...that one. prize. photo for posterity's sake. (Don't we all).
Well, let's do this! Where there is a will, there is a way.

Color Coordinating
This is the most difficult decision to be made of the entire event and, depending on your family size, can be the most costly. There are several things to consider in choosing your wardrobe. First of all, and most importantly, everyone. must. coordinate (not necessarily match - there IS a difference). Not only does it make for a more pleasing photograph to view, it looks more tasteful. It is worth every extra minute spent diligently searching for that one shirt in just the right color or skirt with just the right pattern to pull off the look you are wanting. (Plus, everyone gets new duds out of the deal which is just more incentive for them to suck it up and get it over with!)
Something else to consider that you may not have thought of is where in your home to plan on displaying this photo? You want the clothes in your picture to compliment the most prominent color in that room. Otherwise, it will get lost and looked over. Are you planning to give it as a gift? You need to consider this same concept for the receiver's space. The easiest and most convenient colors are most often neutrals paired with a darker neutral such as the classic-never-out-of-style white with denim or khaki pants (and this has so many cool modern twists to it now!). Also, try to stick with 2 or 3 main colors with 1 accent color/metal. For example, if you've chosen white, cream and ivory shirts with grey pants, skirts and shorts, don't have a lone child in a yellow vest, unless yellow is your accent color and everyone else is wearing just a touch of it (headband, flower pin, etc). Otherwise, your family and their beautiful faces get lost in a sea of color. The only exception, I personally have found, to this rule is pastels. You can pick as many coordinating pastels as you want and it seems to turn out well every time. As far as patterns go, beware! It's easy to go overboard here. It's best to pick the child(ren) to wear a pattern. If you have one child wear floral, one wear a coordinating striped coat and everyone else in solids, this is perfectly acceptable.
But above all else - DO. NOT. wear all black! It's dreary. It's dark. And it ends up making you all look like a bunch of floating heads.

Consider this photo. Although it's a good shot, they look like they just came from a funeral in this attire and their torsos get mingled in the sea of black and all you see is heads, upon heads, upon...well, you get the idea. There's no dimension!

For inspiration on color schemes visit http://design-seeds.com/
For inspiration on outfit ideas or to create your own for future reference visit http://www.polyvore.com/

Glitz and Glam
Don't be shy here! If your daughter has a favorite headband, your husband a favorite bowtie and you a favorite pair of dangly earrings, wear them! This moment in time is a time to capture YOU and your unique family. What a perfect way to flash a bit of your family's personal style into the picture then by adding some of your favorite things? It adds pizzazz and dimension, an extra element of interest for the eye to observe. And don't forget the family pet(s)!

Indoor or Outdoor, That is the Quandary
This is tricky. The outdoors during the Fall is simply majestic and breath-taking and most photographers live for this time of year simply for the festive display of color outside. Make sure to have a Plan B: Too cold outside? Raining? Blustery? Allergies giving your eyes fits?
It's. OK!
Most professional photographers plan ahead for instances like this and will work with you to make your Plan B just as agreeable as your original plan, should you choose to give it the axe.
Nowadays, there are so many cool backdrops that studio photographers can get and the props to get ahold of are endless! Consider having the photographer come to your home where your kids will feel more at ease and relaxed and more likely to smile genuinely (rather than looking like their best friend from Pre-K drew their smile on for them).

Props
Props add another element of interest to the photo. Make sure they aren't the entire focus, however! If you've decided to take photos outside this Autumn, a vintage basket of red and green apples or sunflowers dumped over to one side is the perfect accent. But be wise in these prop layers. If you're sitting on a long bench as a family and have hay bales in the background with the basket of apples and a pile of leaves at your feet and the family is holding a frame to frame their faces in front of a field of sunflowers - it's overkill.

Be Yourselves
It's natural to want (no, more like covet) that one perfect shot for your family. But let's be honest, that is relative. It all depends on how you look at it. It may not be the one where everyone is smiling perfectly and sitting up straight, curls and collars all primped and pinned. It may be the outtake of your daughter crossing her eyes in exasperation or the one of your husband desperately trying to keep Fido's tongue off the baby's face. My absolute favorite family photo didn't have my favorite facial expressions or hair position or clothing tucked in just right. However, it is my favorite because my son is giving a thumbs up, which shows off the complete epicness of his feeling for our little family!


This is an example of the perfect (indoor) family photo. Everyone coordinates but is not matchy-matchy. There is texture all over - in the ruffles of the babies' skirts, the feathers on big sister's skirt, the lace on the oldest sister's jacket, dad's bowtie and brother's glasses. The family pet is even included in the one cool prop.


And BONUS! Here is a cool printable (FREE, of course!) for organizing, coordinating and budgeting your family photos (as we know these precious memories can tend to eat a substantial chunk of a tight budget this time of year).
http://www.thedatingdivas.com/wp-content/uploads/Becca-101-Family-Picture-Printable.pdf

I hope these few tips help to ease your anxiety and answer your questions when it comes to this year's photo shoot. And by they way, maybe that delusional island isn't such a long and treacherous journey to get to after all!
Good luck and HAVE FUN!!
XOXO,
Carissa

Friday, August 2, 2013

We've all had those moments, days, weeks, months, maybe years where we've felt alone. Whether it's having an illness that no one really truly can connect your struggles and pains with (although they sincerely try). Or if we've suffered from a bout of depression where no matter how hard we try to can connect with the outside world we still feel isolated on the deepest level imaginable. Or maybe it's just not feeling like you're being understood for a moment in time by friends or family and feel just a bit disconnected. Perhaps, it's the loss of a person close to us that leaves that deepest of empty feelings? There are so many moments like these some tiny, some gargantuan in our lives. This piece is a sympathizing one on all these aspects (inspired by a dear friend of mine being as brave as ever through her own personal struggles). 

"Sick Bed"
It is not what is said
but words left homeless
that inhabit the crooked crags of my heart.
Drowning in a dark bitter dread
of a life of time-less
study and wishing for mine to start.
Alone in the world I'm lead
but never companion-less.
Yet, here still am I left to fall apart.
And in my head
I'm smiling nonetheless;
a face that frowning smiles is an abstract art.
Where to be lead?
Away to convalesce
and leave you to tell the two apart.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

From Drab to Fab on a budget

Historic building in downtown Durant that was doomed to be condemned
 has now got a new leash on life!  
 
Entryway
 
Kitchen

Old wooden sign from the original Main Street Cafe bought at a local garage sale for $20. 
 
Custom cabinets and black onyx granite. The color on the cabinets is Balsam. The island was a one of a kind find in Canton, Tx.
 
The stone wall was originally all brick which, unfortunately, couldn't be saved due to major deterioration. I loved the contrast of the rough textured walls against the softness of the light kitchen cabinets so we opted for an old world stone.

The masterbedroom.  
 
Our favorite old lady, Miss Madge in her favorite spot in the entire apartment.
 
I love soft romantic mood lighting for a bedroom and table lamps and can lights just can't acheive that. So, I had these beautiful one-light chandeliers installed as an option for more low key lighting. They give off a soft light with magnificent shadows along the walls and ceiling. Just what I was looking for!

A bathroom has to look clean and sleek for me to feel comfortable in it and white everywhere screams "clean and posh". The contrast with the dark chestnut doors just adds to the drama of the whole apartment. 
 
I am a reflective person and so it only seemed appropriate to display my collection of garage-sale mirrors in my bathroom where I'm getting ready for the day. Looking myself in the mirror for an hour or so during my morning routine of make-up, hair, etc, symbollically allows me to reflect upon who I am and what I need to be for others today.
 
 
A collage of old frames, again collected from garage sales, frame up some of our family photos and moto.

My sons' room is everything I hoped it would turn out to be and more. I look at my sons and wonder what wild adventures they will run into today, tomorrow and when they're grown and it's a bittersweet thought. I hope they run to see the world one day and are a hero to many. I hired a young artist, Jesse Ellsworth, to paint a map on his entire wall with the quote from Hellen Keller, "Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." I hope that inspires them to live life to the fullest without compromising their morals and standards. 
 
A collection of vintage license plates from all over the country frame up the doorway to the boys' bathroom.
 
My 2 youngest daughter's room.

 

My art studio is my sanctuary. This is where I come to get away from the world and release my stress and creative desires into my work.
 
There is so much natural light in this apartment that most of the time the lights in the house stay off. I love the feel of the airy texture from the windows on the yogurt-colored walls of my art studio and adjoining living room.  
 
 
My little knick-knack corner where I keep my unique finds that have been orphaned over time from flea markets, garage sales and antique shops.
 
I repurposed an old pair of child ballet slipper into a fun inspirational piece using old lace, earring clips, cardstock and glitter. (Inspiration found on pinterest).

Throughout the entire loft the ceiling are 12 feet high giving plenty of head room and making the space feel even more open and inviting.
 


 
We also own the children's boutique, The Glittering Door, just below the loft on Main Street. Again, Jesse Ellsworth painted our door and welcome sign.

 
Lots and lots of unique items here for your little trendsetters!


Some of our happy customers modeling their fabulous attire in the parade this past fall. Don't they look adorable?!
 

I hope you enjoyed the tour through our pride and joy. This has definitely been a labor of love and we are so happy to say one of Downtown Durant's finest historic buildings has a fresh start with lots of years to create even more historic memories.
XOXO,
C



Friday, April 19, 2013

Our come-what-may Day...

I have to take time away from the TV screen and away from the drama of this messed up world to focus on and post some uplifting joyous news in the Mason household.
As you know, we have been trying to adopt a sweet little boy by the name of George (now known as Newman) ever since he was laid in our arms on January 19th, 2012.

He was just 3 weeks old at the time (born the day after Christmas) and we were so nervous and excited to invite this little bundle of boy into our home and hearts, not REALLY knowing with assurity that he would be ours forever. We tried to keep our hearts at a "safe distance" so as not to get hurt if he were to go back to his birth family.
But our efforts were futile.


He stole our hearts from the first precious moments he spent with us. And we were undeniably 100% smitten!
With every passing day, we fell more in love with his little personality. We had regular meetings with his family every Tuesday.


With every meeting I was so afraid that they would also be falling so very deeply in love with him and begin to want him back and eventually ask for him. We had to remind ourselves that the Lord's hand was in this and that whatever His will is, is what would come. So, come what may...
After months of not knowing his fate and if he'd be able to be adopted by us, even after his parents signed their rights over, we were told in October that adoption was emminent.
Then, our warm October left.

Thanksgiving came and went.

Santa visited our home and filled stockings and the New Year came.

We celebrated his first birthday in January and then, January was gone.


The same thing happened with February, here and then vanished.
 
Then, came a new face to the scene. A new adoption-worker who managed get done in a matter of days what was taking our lawyer over 6 months to do even with all of DHS hounding him.
Within a couple of weeks, we had a court date. But the week crawled by like a snail trying to make it's way through stale peanut butter on a windy day. And of course, my mind was running over-time with all the things that could go wrong before this date could get here.
But, nothing happened. No gloom and doom took over. No malice made its way through our lives to spoil our plans. And...
Yesterday was it - our magical come-what-may day! Despite our lawyer being nearly an hour late, we are happy to report all went off without a hitch!! He's officially, 100%, legally OURS. (Truly, he's been ours from the start but having that piece of paper sealed and stamped with the State of Oklahoma's approval really does something for the nerves).


A big THANK YOU goes out to all those who helped make this adoption possible. To the DHS workers (Scott Richard, Gracie Robertson, Deana Phillips, Cody Battles) for calling us when there were so many other families just as deserving as we were waiting for a child just as special as Newman is. To our families for sticking by us and supporting us through not one, but two previously failed adoption attempts that left us heart-broken and weary, to say the least. To Newman's birth mother, for making the ultimate sacrifice for her child. I cannot imagine how hard this must have been for her. To the rest of Newman's family spread out all over Oklahoma for trusting us to raise this little spirit of God up right, in the ways of the Lord. We promise to do our very best and to provide for him in life all he needs to grow up to be the stellar young man we see him as! To Lisa, the lawyer's secretary who busted her tail doing all the lawyer's bidding in record time and hung in the balances waiting on everyone else. And yes, even the lawyer, as slow and complacent as he was, because without him, it wouldn't really have happened.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Tuesday Transcriber

"The Haunting"

I know you're there -
the hair on my neck makes me aware.
Invisible atmosphere you dare not share
surrounds you everywhere.
Never a word you say,
as the daylight fades
and seems to stray from your face,
and you remain elusive as always.
You love me from afar
even with all my scars,
as bizarre as they are,
and I am forever your shining star.
But what is it you really want?
A nonchalant jaunt you taunt
and with imaginary courage flaunt
at me your face that still haunts.
I long for a touch-
so much; maybe too much?
The lost sensation is a crutch
to which I willingly clutch.
Dare I search in the dark
for a hidden mark,
a spark in this amusement park
on which I wittingly embark?
Would I find you there?
Or just feel your stare
in the air of your recumbent lair,
and remain to stay your memory's heir?

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