CARNIVAL BIRTHDAY PARTY

So to say these photos are over-due would be quite the understatement! They are from my son's 7th birthday party LAST summer and I'm just now getting around to going through them and posting. But at least I'm getting them up, right? : ) I have always wanted to throw a carnival themed party because it's something kids and adults can enjoy, alike! We had so much fun, that everyone in our family is still talking about this party. In case you're planning something like it, I'll caption some photos with notes for you to recreate! 

Crepe paper is such an easy and inexpensive tool for decorating. I purchased the large rolls at Hobby Lobby in red, white, and blue and tossed away.  

Crepe paper is such an easy and inexpensive tool for decorating. I purchased the large rolls at Hobby Lobby in red, white, and blue and tossed away.  

We made the ticket booth out of a refrigerator box that I requested to be put aside at Lowe's. I drew a window in the front and then cut it out with a box cutter. I painted it all over with red latex paint; once it dried I made the stripes with white duct tape. 

We made the ticket booth out of a refrigerator box that I requested to be put aside at Lowe's. I drew a window in the front and then cut it out with a box cutter. I painted it all over with red latex paint; once it dried I made the stripes with white duct tape. 

At the ticket booth, each guest received 3 tickets to use at the concession or prize booths. Guests could earn more tickets by playing our carnival games! You can get ticket rolls at the Dollar Store.

At the ticket booth, each guest received 3 tickets to use at the concession or prize booths. Guests could earn more tickets by playing our carnival games! You can get ticket rolls at the Dollar Store.

This is a piece of plywood from the scrap section at our local Menard's. I painted it with black latex paint. After it dried, I used white craft paint to brush on the design. It has the look of a chalkboard when you're finished. If you want to make a sign that's reusable, use black chalkboard paint and write on it with chalk. 

This is a piece of plywood from the scrap section at our local Menard's. I painted it with black latex paint. After it dried, I used white craft paint to brush on the design. It has the look of a chalkboard when you're finished. If you want to make a sign that's reusable, use black chalkboard paint and write on it with chalk. 

Here is our Fish Bowl carnival game! Everything for this game was purchased at the Dollar Store. This game uses: several clear candle bowls, aquarium gems, plastic/rubber toy fish or ocean creatures, and ping pong balls. From some cardboard scraps I had, I cut the background piece and painted on an ocean scene, and then placed it on a photo easel. Players who tossed a ball in the bowl with the shark, received some tickets to use at the concession and prize booths.   

Here is our Fish Bowl carnival game! Everything for this game was purchased at the Dollar Store. This game uses: several clear candle bowls, aquarium gems, plastic/rubber toy fish or ocean creatures, and ping pong balls. From some cardboard scraps I had, I cut the background piece and painted on an ocean scene, and then placed it on a photo easel. Players who tossed a ball in the bowl with the shark, received some tickets to use at the concession and prize booths.   

All of the signs you'll see throughout the party were created using free carnival or circus font I found online. I created them in Photoshop and printed them on 8.5x11 sheets of card stock, then taped them to a slightly larger piece of colored paper from Hobby Lobby. Some of them are taped onto the Dollar Store table cloths and some are staked into the ground with metal wire I found at Menard's. 

All of the signs you'll see throughout the party were created using free carnival or circus font I found online. I created them in Photoshop and printed them on 8.5x11 sheets of card stock, then taped them to a slightly larger piece of colored paper from Hobby Lobby. Some of them are taped onto the Dollar Store table cloths and some are staked into the ground with metal wire I found at Menard's. 

Here is our Lucky Duck game! Unfortunately, on the day of the party when we went to blow up the pool, the top ring was flat. :( But everyone enjoyed it just the same! I purchased 2 dozen ducks at Hobby Lobby and numbered the bottoms 1-12 with a Sharpie marker. Players who matched 2 ducks received some tickets to use at the concession and prize booths.  

Here is our Lucky Duck game! Unfortunately, on the day of the party when we went to blow up the pool, the top ring was flat. :( But everyone enjoyed it just the same! I purchased 2 dozen ducks at Hobby Lobby and numbered the bottoms 1-12 with a Sharpie marker. Players who matched 2 ducks received some tickets to use at the concession and prize booths.  

What would a carnival be without face painting?! For this booth, we of course had face paint, and also a mirror, paper towels, and I found a few simple designs online and printed them out for the kids to choose from if they needed ideas. 

What would a carnival be without face painting?! For this booth, we of course had face paint, and also a mirror, paper towels, and I found a few simple designs online and printed them out for the kids to choose from if they needed ideas. 

Our Fortune Teller / Face Painter! 

Our Fortune Teller / Face Painter! 

What a pretty butterfly : )

What a pretty butterfly : )

Our Ring Toss both used empty root beer bottles and flying discs from the Dollar Store. For fun, I painted a clown for the background of the booth. Players tried to ring as many bottles as they could!

Our Ring Toss both used empty root beer bottles and flying discs from the Dollar Store. For fun, I painted a clown for the background of the booth. Players tried to ring as many bottles as they could!

I was lucky enough to have an amazing artist friend who so kindly offered her talents as our Sketch Artist! If you don't know someone like that, maybe insert a polaroid booth here where kids can get an instant photo of themselves to take home. Or have someone make abstract or silly portraits of the children for fun. 

I was lucky enough to have an amazing artist friend who so kindly offered her talents as our Sketch Artist! If you don't know someone like that, maybe insert a polaroid booth here where kids can get an instant photo of themselves to take home. Or have someone make abstract or silly portraits of the children for fun. 

For our Shooting Range, I taped paper from Hobby Lobby to clean, empty cans. We stacked them in front of a bullseye I painted on cardboard and placed on an easel. I happened to find a Nerf ball gun that worked perfectly for this game at a thrift store! If you need to purchase one, Amazon has a good selection of different toy guns. 

For our Shooting Range, I taped paper from Hobby Lobby to clean, empty cans. We stacked them in front of a bullseye I painted on cardboard and placed on an easel. I happened to find a Nerf ball gun that worked perfectly for this game at a thrift store! If you need to purchase one, Amazon has a good selection of different toy guns. 

I found rubber cones at the Dollar Store that I set up at all of the game booths for kids to stand behind. 

I found rubber cones at the Dollar Store that I set up at all of the game booths for kids to stand behind. 

For our Bucket Toss game, I found all of the buckets and the tossing balls at the Dollar Store. I made the round numbers in Photoshop, printed them on card stock, and attached with tape. 

For our Bucket Toss game, I found all of the buckets and the tossing balls at the Dollar Store. I made the round numbers in Photoshop, printed them on card stock, and attached with tape. 

The game booth attendants gave tickets to players at their dissection. I printed out rules for each game booth, but in hindsight, every player had different skill levels. So I'm happy the game attendants made their own rules and let everyone be a winner! 

The game booth attendants gave tickets to players at their dissection. I printed out rules for each game booth, but in hindsight, every player had different skill levels. So I'm happy the game attendants made their own rules and let everyone be a winner! 

For the Photobooth, I attached and layered fabric with metal clips to a backdrop stand I already had. I found bails of straw at a local farm store and covered it with a blanket. For the photo props, I purchased a variety of fun fun items at both Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Store. I made the banner by filling an 8.5x11 sheet with one letter each. Then I cut them out and strung them on a laundry cord line from the Dollar Store. 

For the Photobooth, I attached and layered fabric with metal clips to a backdrop stand I already had. I found bails of straw at a local farm store and covered it with a blanket. For the photo props, I purchased a variety of fun fun items at both Hobby Lobby and the Dollar Store. I made the banner by filling an 8.5x11 sheet with one letter each. Then I cut them out and strung them on a laundry cord line from the Dollar Store. 

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We rented the tables and chairs pretty inexpensively from a local rental store. The same rental store had the cotton candy machine for us to rent too!

We rented the tables and chairs pretty inexpensively from a local rental store. The same rental store had the cotton candy machine for us to rent too!

For the table setup, I found the round table cloths and gold filler at Hobby Lobby. The animals were in the $1 toy section at Walmart and I spray painted them red, white, or blue. Don't forget the balloons and table numbers! 

For the table setup, I found the round table cloths and gold filler at Hobby Lobby. The animals were in the $1 toy section at Walmart and I spray painted them red, white, or blue. Don't forget the balloons and table numbers! 

Here's my sweetie, so proudly wearing those adorable slippers and suspenders : )

Here's my sweetie, so proudly wearing those adorable slippers and suspenders : )

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Once the games were finished, the kids got to turn in their tickets they earned at the prize and concession booths!

Once the games were finished, the kids got to turn in their tickets they earned at the prize and concession booths!

While the kids (and adults) are enjoying some concessions, we fired up the grill! 

While the kids (and adults) are enjoying some concessions, we fired up the grill! 

We enjoyed delicious Hebrew National dogs; you can buy them in bulk at Sam's Club. 

We enjoyed delicious Hebrew National dogs; you can buy them in bulk at Sam's Club. 

It's Hot Dog Bar time!!

It's Hot Dog Bar time!!

For our hot dog bar, we put out everybody's topping favorites: bacon crumbles, red bell peppers, avocado, sauerkraut, chili, jalepenos, pickles, sour cream, diced onion, shredded cheese, and a variety of sauces. To keep items food warm, I put them in foil pans from Sam's Club. The topping bowls, picnic plates, and other serving ware purchased at the Dollar Store. 

For our hot dog bar, we put out everybody's topping favorites: bacon crumbles, red bell peppers, avocado, sauerkraut, chili, jalepenos, pickles, sour cream, diced onion, shredded cheese, and a variety of sauces. To keep items food warm, I put them in foil pans from Sam's Club. The topping bowls, picnic plates, and other serving ware purchased at the Dollar Store. 

There's my dad! 

There's my dad! 

I spray painted some thrift store frames and placed them around the tables. For this one, I had Joey make up his own "recipe" for his favorite hot dog and name it. : ) He also did this for the Sundae Bar but I forgot to photograph it!

I spray painted some thrift store frames and placed them around the tables. For this one, I had Joey make up his own "recipe" for his favorite hot dog and name it. : ) He also did this for the Sundae Bar but I forgot to photograph it!

For the tables, I taped on kraft paper and labeled food items with a Sharpie marker. I found red and blue serving bowls at the Dollar Store and for fun I placed clearance fabric in some of them. The talk of the table was the homemade Bacon Ranch Potato Salad! I waited to put the bacon on last while it was warm and crunchy and it really made it special. HERE is the recipe. 

For the tables, I taped on kraft paper and labeled food items with a Sharpie marker. I found red and blue serving bowls at the Dollar Store and for fun I placed clearance fabric in some of them. The talk of the table was the homemade Bacon Ranch Potato Salad! I waited to put the bacon on last while it was warm and crunchy and it really made it special. HERE is the recipe. 

It's not really fresh-squeezed lemonade! I had plans of getting to that, but ended up running out of time. So this is Simply Lemonade mixed with some sugar and real lemons. It was DELICIOUS and I'm happy I skipped squeezing it myself. The sangria was a huge hit among the adults! I actually made enough to fill 3 of these pitchers, so since I wanted to let it sit overnight, I purchased some small storage containers and washed them out to put all of the extra batches in. They stacked really well in my fridge and now I use them only for that. HERE is the recipe I used for this Sangria. I did let all of my batches sit for 24 hours and that made them extra yummy! Just make sure to wait to put the Ginger Ale in until just before serving. 

It's not really fresh-squeezed lemonade! I had plans of getting to that, but ended up running out of time. So this is Simply Lemonade mixed with some sugar and real lemons. It was DELICIOUS and I'm happy I skipped squeezing it myself. The sangria was a huge hit among the adults! I actually made enough to fill 3 of these pitchers, so since I wanted to let it sit overnight, I purchased some small storage containers and washed them out to put all of the extra batches in. They stacked really well in my fridge and now I use them only for that. HERE is the recipe I used for this Sangria. I did let all of my batches sit for 24 hours and that made them extra yummy! Just make sure to wait to put the Ginger Ale in until just before serving. 

For the Concession Stand, I cut a refrigerator box in half and stood this up for the back of our booth. I made it the same way as I did the ticket booth. I found baskets, bins, and scoops at the Dollar Store. The concessions we served were: homemade cotton candy, homemade kettle corn, animal crackers, orange slices, peanuts, and IBC root beer. We rented the cotton candy machine and bagged it the night before. Be careful not to let it get hot while storing it, or it will completely melt away in the bag! For the kettle corn, I was lucky to find a gentlemen making some outside of our grocery store. I bought 5 large bags and then froze it since the party wasn't for another month. This works wonderfully, I promise! It comes right out of the freezer tasting just like it was popped fresh (except for the warm part). I actually preferred it out of the freezer because it made it a little crunchier. We bagged the cotton candy and kettle corn with glad bags that don't have the zippers and tied them shut with ribbon. 

For the Concession Stand, I cut a refrigerator box in half and stood this up for the back of our booth. I made it the same way as I did the ticket booth. I found baskets, bins, and scoops at the Dollar Store. The concessions we served were: homemade cotton candy, homemade kettle corn, animal crackers, orange slices, peanuts, and IBC root beer. We rented the cotton candy machine and bagged it the night before. Be careful not to let it get hot while storing it, or it will completely melt away in the bag! For the kettle corn, I was lucky to find a gentlemen making some outside of our grocery store. I bought 5 large bags and then froze it since the party wasn't for another month. This works wonderfully, I promise! It comes right out of the freezer tasting just like it was popped fresh (except for the warm part). I actually preferred it out of the freezer because it made it a little crunchier. We bagged the cotton candy and kettle corn with glad bags that don't have the zippers and tied them shut with ribbon. 

The cotton candy and kettle corn were attached to the booth with laundry line that I found at the Dollar Tree. I poked a small hole in the cardboard booth, then pushed the end of the laundry cord through the hole, and on the back I made a large knot so that the line would hang down in the front. The bags were attached to the cord with clothespins. 

The cotton candy and kettle corn were attached to the booth with laundry line that I found at the Dollar Tree. I poked a small hole in the cardboard booth, then pushed the end of the laundry cord through the hole, and on the back I made a large knot so that the line would hang down in the front. The bags were attached to the cord with clothespins. 

The prize stand was so fun to make! I purchased prizes from the Dollar Store and Hobby Lobby. The smaller prizes worth less tickets were on the table in misc. buckets and jars. The prizes worth the most tickets were strung up on the back of the booth. I hung the prizes the same way I hung the concession treats. I forgot to photograph the way I labeled how many tickets were required for each prize. I printed numbers on stickers using round Avery labels and stuck them on each container of prizes. The kids were given bags to write their names on and store their prizes for taking home. The concessions and prizes were everyone's party favors. 

The prize stand was so fun to make! I purchased prizes from the Dollar Store and Hobby Lobby. The smaller prizes worth less tickets were on the table in misc. buckets and jars. The prizes worth the most tickets were strung up on the back of the booth. I hung the prizes the same way I hung the concession treats. I forgot to photograph the way I labeled how many tickets were required for each prize. I printed numbers on stickers using round Avery labels and stuck them on each container of prizes. The kids were given bags to write their names on and store their prizes for taking home. The concessions and prizes were everyone's party favors. 

Here are some prize ideas! Bracelets, rings, gold coins, raisins, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a variety of candy, glow sticks, crayons, erasers, plastic/rubber animal toys, tiny wands, hot wheels, tattoos, stickers, small water guns, army men, bouncy balls, and the list goes on! For the bigger prizes, I looked over my kids list and made sure to purchase age and sex appropriate toys for everyone who RSVP'd. 

Here are some prize ideas! Bracelets, rings, gold coins, raisins, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a variety of candy, glow sticks, crayons, erasers, plastic/rubber animal toys, tiny wands, hot wheels, tattoos, stickers, small water guns, army men, bouncy balls, and the list goes on! For the bigger prizes, I looked over my kids list and made sure to purchase age and sex appropriate toys for everyone who RSVP'd. 

My lovely mother! : )

My lovely mother! : )

We hired a wonderful magician who also makes balloon animals! He arrived while everyone was still finishing up their meals and made the kids balloon animals they requested.  

We hired a wonderful magician who also makes balloon animals! He arrived while everyone was still finishing up their meals and made the kids balloon animals they requested.  

He made Joey a jet pack, which I also forgot to photograph, ahhh! Parties are hectic : ) 

He made Joey a jet pack, which I also forgot to photograph, ahhh! Parties are hectic : ) 

It's time to roll out the sundae bar! Everyone served themselves, choosing from large tubs of either chocolate or vanilla ice cream. We put out every sweet topping we could think of including: skittles, marshmallows, sprinkles, m&m's, Oreos, chocolate chips, gummy bears, peanuts, cherries, reese's pieces, syrups, and root beer for floats! 

It's time to roll out the sundae bar! Everyone served themselves, choosing from large tubs of either chocolate or vanilla ice cream. We put out every sweet topping we could think of including: skittles, marshmallows, sprinkles, m&m's, Oreos, chocolate chips, gummy bears, peanuts, cherries, reese's pieces, syrups, and root beer for floats! 

Happy (much belated) 7th Birthday Joey! 

Happy (much belated) 7th Birthday Joey! 

MY OFFICE : BEFORE & AFTER

Nearly everyone I run into has asked about my transition from closing my studio and moving into my home office. To which my response is always: IT'S WONDERFUL! It has brought so many positive changes to both my business and my personal life. More to come on my transition {VERY} soon!

First, here's the BEFORE photos. I actually forgot to take photos of the space before I moved most everything out to paint, oops!  

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And without further ado, here is my NEW workspace! It's original purpose was a sunroom, so you'll see lots of happy plants. I couldn't kick them out; we're co-existing fabulously. : ) You'll also see lots of Dexter; I swear I don't have pockets lined with treats! He's just a little bit of a stage 5 clinger. : ) 

My office remodel included many new additions: the silver curtains & rods, urban outfitter rug, thin-line frames, L-shaped desk, Ikea side table & chair, ceiling fan, and a few thrift store finds. The walls switched from a beige to a soft grey, in keeping with my muted color palette of whites, grey/silver, black, and beige. 

Under the table on the left, I stow away my camera bags. My gear is stored snug inside those bags. On the table and in the shelves to the right, I keep various product samples. 

It's hard to say who is more attached to who...

My shelves are still in the process of being filled. So far, they hold all of my packaging, boxes, bags, and envelopes for wrapping up clients' orders. I also store product samples, prints, swatches, USB's, and easels. Dexter and my records have found a home here too!

Behold, one of my TJ Maxx finds (whoop whoop). This perfectly stores my lens cloths, batteries, memory cards, chargers, and even some lenses! It's sitting on my open shelves for easy grab-and-go before a shoot. 

So your office might not need a record player, but it sure makes work much more fun. : ) Some of my favorite editing tunes: Miles Davis, Lana Del Ray, Alt-J, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, and Jim Croce. 

All of these photos you're seeing were taken by Nessa K Photography while my boyfriend and I were in Washington DC to shoot an engagement session. We like to mix business with pleasure pretty much every trip we take. : )

Ahhhh, the clouds parted and the angels were singing when this desk arrived! :D It fits perfectly in my small space, has more than enough room for all of my items, and it's white! 

I just purchased the newest macbook pro, and added a few upgrades to it. It's soooo marvelous! I regret not switching from my 2011 macbook sooner because of how much time I'm saving. If your computer can't keep up with you, it's time for an upgrade!

I also upgraded all of my software (Lighroom, Photoshop, and Bridge). That has improved my workflow time too. Do you dual monitor it? I highly recommend this setup if not. I typically edit on my monitor and run various work tasks on my laptop. (or in this case, I pin) 

The 2 Santa Clauses is my ALL time favorite print of my kiddos...love love love! We took it while putting up our Christmas tree, which is one of my favorite traditions. 

This is a timer that I recently purchased to help me keep on track with time management. Between the blog, emails, social media, editing, client requests, ordering, design, education, and some other business ventures on my horizon, it's hard to keep everything moving forward uniformly. I am a completist, so I don't like to quit a task before it's finished. But I'm trying to learn how to segment my day and know that I can come back to that task to complete it tomorrow. This timer helps remind me that it's time for the next item on my to-do list!

For those of you who are nosey, here's a peek inside my drawers! : ) 

Within arms reach, I store my printer, paper, external hard drive, SD card reader, and other misc. office supplies. I love that instead of having a solid desk "wall" here, I have 2 shelves to store the essentials! 

Here's a peek inside my second drawer. It's full of my packaging cards: thank you's, product menus, print releases, stickers, care cards, etc.

Hello crafting cart! I love this little guy, especially for crafting projects or planning a party. It's full of my craft and art supplies. Plus it rolls around, which is great for our hard wood floors, to take my project-making to another area of the house. 

Thanks for visiting my new office! I hope it inspired you : )

ANNAPOLIS, MD

I wasn't sure what to expect when we were planning our trip to Annapolis. All I knew was that it was a historic town and home to the Navy. We only had time to explore for one evening, but wish we could have stayed longer...

Downtown was a mix of locals and tourists, who seemed to co-exist marvelously. Stroll down Main street and it won't be long before you see Navy uniforms, kids with ice cream cones, friendly dogs on walks, vibrant buildings, American flags, and sailboats gathering at the harbor. The downtown is lined with unique shops and restaurants, and the smells coming from the bakeries are to die for! Nearly every restaurant boasts delicious Maryland crab, among other delightful seafood faire. Annapolis feels like a little slice of heaven in hometown America. Its culture and history are not quite like any other town. If you visit, you'll want to stay a while, maybe infinity. : ) 

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THE NATIONAL AQUARIUM - BALTIMORE, MD

We were invited to shoot a wedding in Annapolis, MD that took place this past weekend. We flew in a few days early to take in some sights, and this was my favorite spot in all of Baltimore - The National Aquarium. 

I'm a bit obsessed with sea turtles, in fact, it's at the top of my bucket list to swim with them. For some reason it did not cross my mind that there would be any at the aquarium, I was just envisioning brightly colored fish. So when we walked into the first room and I behold this 500 lb. glorious sea turtle, she was all I wanted to see. I have to apologize to my boyfriend for practically running through the whole aquarium so that I could go watch her again before we left. Her name is Calypso and she is stunning and graceful. If you have the opportunity to visit, take it. This was a clean, animal focused facility with remarkably friendly staff at every turn. 

You can find out more about Calypso HERE

~ Thank you National Aquarium for providing such a wonderful experience! ~

Baltimore, MD National Aquarium