The first 100 days: 5 things I’ve learned so far on my Project 365

instagram grid of pictures

A sneak peek at my first 100 days of Project 365, as captured on Instagram.

I can scarcely believe it, but today marks day 100 of my Project 365! I’m pretty excited about this milestone, and I’ve also learned a few things along the way…

In previous years, I have attempted one Project 365 (which lasted about four days before I went down in a ball of flames) and one Project 52 (a picture a week). Both times were failures, and yet this time I’m succeeding! What changed?

This time I am committed; I am going to do this. And I have found a few strategies that help me…

Five Things I’ve Learned in the First 100 Days of Project 365:

1. Accountability is key!
I forced myself to be more accountable this time by joining Instagram and posting daily. Knowing that I have told other people that am participating in Project 365 and that I will have people to answer to if I don’t post has really helped me along. There have even been a few 10 p.m. text messages asking, “Where’s your pic for today?” that saved me from forgetting a day!
2. An iPhone picture can be a worthy way to capture your life.
Very few of my Project 365 photos have been taken with my DSLR. At this stage in my life, I don’t take out my DSLR often, for a variety of reasons (I don’t want my kids getting “camera fatigue,” I don’t want to have to worry about it with three kids getting into everything; the phone is nearly always with me). And even with just my phone, I have captured some precious memories.
3. Choosing a theme or particular challenge can provide inspiration.
There are a variety of photo “challenges” out there that offer prompts for your Project 365. Some people find these really help. @ClickinMoms on Instagram has a weekly post listing your prompts for the week. I haven’t done the prompts, but I have decided to challenge myself with certain areas of my photography (i.e. a meaningful “headless” photo, or use negative space creatively) to make my Project 365 more than just a series of snapshots.
4. Embrace the imperfections and even the “boring” days.
Not every day is going to be one that you deem photo-worthy, but that’s sort of the point. Project 365 isn’t a highlight reel; it’s a documentary of a year in your life, boring moments and all. Accept that not every photo is going to be a prize-winner, and not every day will be full of exciting moments. Embrace your reality.
5. Project 365 is really a project of gratitude and celebration.
Most importantly, recognize that Project 365 is really about celebrating the little things (and little ones perhaps!) in your life and honoring them, and about reminding even yourself that there are details and moments worth noticing everyday. Project 365 is awesome because it is helping to train me to look at the world with more gratitude, respect, and love.

Are you following my Project 365? Tomorrow I’ll post 10 of my favorite photos, but if you want a sneak peek, go follow me @theblessedeveryday on Instagram, where I share my daily photos, and search #365blessedeveryday.

(And please link up with your Project 365 if you are participating, too!)

Mama’s New Favorite Way to Shop: Stitchfix!

I’m so excited to share today about this mama’s new favorite way to shop for clothes: Stitchfix!

Stitchfix is a simple premise: an online stylist picks out five items for you based on your answers to a short questionnaire. You receive your “fix” in the mail, try on the items, and have three days to decide which items, if any, you keep.

I had seen some buzz about Stitchfix, and when my sister-in-law asked me to give it a try with her, I decided it was worth a shot, in spite of my reservations.

Let’s just say that since I had my third baby, shopping is NOT fun. My body is shaped differently than before, carting around three kids ages 5 and under to stores is pretty much a disaster waiting to happen, and frankly, any shopping experiences I’ve had have been exhausting and demoralizing.

So it was with some amount of nerves that I signed up, sure that I was going to waste my stylist “fee” ($20, which can be redeemed toward any item in your box), but wanting to be a good sport for my sister-in-law so we could share the experience together.

We timed our orders to arrive on the same day (you get to select the arrival date, which currently is about a month out), and then we had a “box opening” together. It was exciting–and a bit nerve-wracking–to open our boxes and have no idea what we would find.

Much to our surprise, all of the items, for both me and my sister-in-law Laura, fit well! I was not too surprised at this for Laura, who is one of those people who looks great in everything (5’10”, no flabby parts needing camouflage, overall fabulous), but I was shocked for me! I am *not* a skinny minnie at all and am definitely carrying some extra baby weight these days. But Stitchfix fit me perfectly!

As for the style of the items, Stitchfix sent each of us items that definitely looked like “us” and then a couple items that were “stretches” for us. Prior to being styled, you fill out a style and size questionnaire, and you rate certain outfits as well. I’d say I would describe my general “style”–if I have one at all–as casual, sporty, and maybe bordering on a bit of preppy. As you’ll see below, Stitchfix matched me with items that fit my desires for a cute “mom on the go” look but that could also be appropriate for my photography work, where I want to look professional as befitting someone in a visual/artistic industry, but also be able to move around.

Both Laura and I had one “airball” each in our shipment; for me, the drapey apricot cardigan hit me at the widest part of my hips and didn’t do me any favors. For her, a layered off-the-shoulder sweater was a little too “Flashdance” for her conservative preferences.

However, we both also ended up loving items that we wouldn’t have normally tried on our own, but that we really embraced once we saw them on.

Here’s a look at the items in my Stitchfix shipment… (apologies for the less-than-stellar pics; these were taken late at night with a cell phone in my bathroom. Also, nobody make fun of me for my granny’s crocheted hangers 😉

chevron shirt

item 1: chevron shirt. I never would have selected this myself, but Laura and I both agreed it was the hit of the box. Flattering and a big departure from my norm.


white shirt from Stitchfix

item 2: white henley. This is much more flattering on. I probably wouldn’t have tried this either, but it is so soft and hangs nicely. Not the most practical choice for a mom of littles, but very comfortable, and the ruching and details feminize it.


basic denim jacket from Stitchfix

item 3: basic denim jacket. Fit well. I’m sure many people would already have something like this in their wardrobe though.


apricot sweater from Stitchfix

item 4: drapey apricot sweater. Overall my least favorite item, as it did nothing for my figure. It did improve a lot when belted, however.


striped dress from Stitchfix

item 5: this one battles with the chevron as a favorite. As a photographer, I try to look “pulled together” but I also need to be able to move. This is a perfect choice. With leggings and the denim jacket, it looks cute and on-trend, but I don’t sacrifice movement. Also, it’s easily washable… a definite must!

So would I recommend Stitchfix? Absolutely, but I don’t think it’s for everyone.

Here are some types of people who are most likely to enjoy Stitchfix:
1. People who don’t enjoy the “thrill of the hunt” or bargain shopping.
The Stitchfix clothes are no bargain. They average about $50-60 each, though you do get a 25% discount if you buy an entire box (be prepared to spend about $210-230 out of pocket if you like everything and want to keep the box). They do include some “higher value” items like jackets, dresses, and jeans and then some cheaper items, like accessories or tops. These are definitely a step above Gap/Old Navy/Target in quality (Laura’s box had a pair of Anthropologie jeans as well as a J. Crew lookalike vest)… but still definitely not cheap. For me, I honestly do not enjoy shopping, digging through racks of clothes, or trying lots of things on…so the fact that I can get clothes without the hassle is a definite plus (and one that is worth the extra money for me).  As my only big clothes splurge since Seth was born a year ago, I didn’t feel too bad for such high-quality items.

2. People who enjoy stores such as Anthropologie, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and Macy’s.

Stitchfix items are priced similarly (maybe a little cheaper) than the stores I listed above, so if you typically shop at those stores, you will probably be happy with the value and quality of the clothing you receive in your boxes.

3. People who are open to new styles and seeing themselves in a new way.

If you have a very rigid sense of what your style is, Stitchfix may not be for you. Part of the fun for me is trying something I never would have picked for myself, and seeing if it works.

4. Mamas with young kids or other extenuating circumstances that make shopping a chore, or those who live far from a mall.
Again, I am sure you *can* find similar items at a mall, but for those of us who have young kids and mall shopping is a total nightmare chore, Stitchfix is a great alternative.  Again, by the time I factor in gas, the fact that I live 45 minutes one-way (on a good day) from the nearest mall, I found Stitchfix to be a great alternative.

5. People who are style-challenged.
I am certainly no stylist. My husband is surely tired of seeing me in the same three black Gap Maternity shirts that are still a holdover from the last time I went clothes shopping. I am pretty sure wearing black solid shirts isn’t even really a definable style. So for me, receiving the Stitchfix box with new items *and* the handy “cheat sheet” of outfits was really great! It helped me to see things I already owned in a new light as well.

6. People who don’t have a huge wardrobe. 

I wouldn’t say any of the Stitchfix choices were earth-shatteringly unique items. For instance, the denim jacket is a staple that many people may have already had (but which I did not). If you are a big shopper or already have a big wardrobe, Stitchfix may not be for you…but if you get by with a few basics, it’s a great option to liven up your options. By adding very basic items like tights, a pair of jeans, and a couple of different shoes to my mix, I am able to get a variety of looks.

7. People who are interested in a unique experience.
It is a ton of fun to get a box full of surprises in the mail! I can’t say enough how much fun it was. And if you have a friend or friends who are interested in making it a box opening party, then it’s really great! Laura and I had a wonderful time sharing the experience together, trying on each other’s things, helping each other design outfits with our items, etc.

8.  Mamas looking for a boost in self-confidence and mood.

Since having kids, it has been all too easy when visiting stores to focus on what *isn’t*… that my body isn’t the same as it used to be, that I can’t as readily pull clothes off the rack and have them fit, that my time to myself isn’t as plentiful.  And that can get really discouraging.  For the first time since having Seth, getting some new clothes really felt like a boost and a happy event, instead of a chore because I “had” to get jeans that fit or I “had” to buy clothes in a bigger size than I would like.  Honestly, I think wearing sad, blah clothes even became a form of penance or self-loathing… like I didnt *deserve* to look cute because I can’t fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes. It was a big booster to my mood and self-confidence to feel like I ended up with items that are trendy and stylish, and I don’t have to look dumpy as I go around town.

Overall, I love Stitchfix and am definitely planning on doing another box in a few months!

* Disclaimer: this ad is not sponsored and all opinions are mine but does contain an affiliate link to Stitchfix, and I do receive a store credit for each person that signs up using my link.  

If you are thinking about giving Stitchfix a try, please use this link to sign up!

Behind the Scenes of a Bountiful Family Session

Today I’m sharing a special family session from last fall to give you a behind-the-scenes look at a Beloved family session, which I call my “Bountiful” family sessions.

Often I find that people schedule family photo sessions because it has been a long time since they’ve had updated photos, or maybe a specific event like the birth of another child or a particular milestone is triggering them to feel like they “should” get pictures done–or maybe it’s just that they want to be sure they have an updated Christmas card photo. 🙂

But really, a family photo session you are investing in should be so much more than just a snapshot of your kids’ gap-toothed grins or your latest haircut.  Your family photos should tell the story of who you are as a family. 

It is always my goal to get photos that reveal the personality and character of the individuals and of the family as a whole. This particular family loves the outdoors and being active, and the young siblings have the sweetest relationship, all of which was important to capture during their session.

In my sessions, I do have some posed photos, but I also seek to engage everyone to get more authentic expression, and we also have some playtime and relaxed moments, too!

I love these images, particularly of brother and sister, and that mom and dad were able to have a few moments together as well. Often parents of young kids haven’t had any photos together since their wedding! In these photos, the love between all members of the family is so evident. Their postures are relaxed and open. And the photos in the sand capture the carefree playfulness of toddlerhood.

siblings on the docksiblings on the docklittle boy on the beach siblings playing in the sandlittle girl on the beach little boy on the sand girl dancing in the sand dancing girl in the sand little girl all smiles couple laughing couple and marriage photographer

Tell me, what are your favorite images from this session? I’d love to hear what resonates with you! And what are the special “quirks” you’d want captured in your family session?

Maple Valley/Covington Family Photographer: Featured on the Beloved blog!

family photograph on the beach

I am so honored to have one of my recent family sessions featured on the Beloved Collective blog.  What is the Beloved Collective? Simply put, the Beloved Collective is a group of artists passionate about celebrating photography that captures the heart and soul of people. The Beloved genre and accompanying techniques launched a few years ago, and I was one of the “early adopters” and remain one of only a handful of certified Beloved photographers in the world.

With the Beloved techniques, we seek to go beyond the standard posed photo session into something more revealing and more authentic to our subjects. I am always hoping to reveal a glimpse of the people inside, to go beyond the “camera smile” to see into people’s hearts. I want you to look at the pictures of your family and say, “That’s so ‘him.’ You really captured his essence.”

I have the most freedom with my techniques when interacting with longtime couples, but in the sneak peek over on the Beloved blog, you’ll see a bit of what happens when I get out with families, too! I dub my Beloved family sessions “Bountiful” sessions, and I truly hope they are overflowing with love and authenticity.

I would love it if you would head over and tell me what you think!

And tomorrow, I’ll show more from this fun family session…

Check one thing off your senior’s “to do” list today!

ad for senior portraits

Do you have a high school senior? Are you frazzled, stressed, and a bit overwhelmed as graduation date approaches?

Let’s check one thing off your senior’s “to do” list today: let’s get your senior portraits scheduled!

I know your plate is full with prom, graduation, a variety of end-of-year events, and maybe even a college decision still to be made.  But your senior’s portraits don’t have to be stressful.

Before your session, I will consult with you and your student over the phone to tailor a session suited to their interests and personality. And then in just a couple hours, your part is done! And when your images are ready, I guide you through a one-hour selection process so that in less than 60 minutes, you have images selected for family, friends, graduation announcement enclosures, and wall art and album images.  No muss, no fuss!

Let’s do this! I would love to help you celebrate your senior and their accomplishments!

And if you contact me NOW, there still may be time to get your photo session complete *and* your favorite minis printed in time to include with your senior’s graduation announcements!  But time is running out...

Contact Me!