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Books and Podcasts to Enjoy this Summer

Summer…the perfect time to kick back and relax, and the perfect time to also catch up on the reading you’ve been missing out on while studying! Not only are books and podcasts a great way to pass time out on the lake or while exercising, they also encourage your brain to stay active and engaged, and many research studies show that reading books and listening to audio materials helps prevent depression and anxiety among teens and adults. We have rounded up our favorite new offerings below:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Serial: It’s remained a top podcast for a reason! We love the way the podcast shares important stories, and it’s hard to stop listening once you start. If you’ve never listened, be sure to start with season one, the story of Adnan Syed, and prepare to be totally captivated. You’ll be pulled in by the characters, and the way you will be left to come to your own conclusions. (Warning: Has language and adult situations surrounding a murder).

American Scandal: We love this one too, mostly because of the wide variety of stories and topics that you can choose from. Each leg of the series covers a different scandal in American history, and we are totally obsessed with the “Payola” one, which talks about the rise of modern radio and the financial scandals associated with it. It might sound boring, but it’s anything but. (Warning: has some language).*

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert: Amazon has named this one of the best books of 2019, and we are pretty pumped to get our hands on it, too! Elizabeth Gilbert also wrote “Eat, pray, love”, and this one is another great work of fiction. It is about a young lady in the theater world in the 40’s in New York City. It’s full of glitz and glamour, and it sounds like the perfect book for a beach read. 

Educated by Tara Westover: There is a reason this book has remained at the top of the bestseller list, and it’s because it’s amazing. It tells the tale of the author and her dysfunctional family, and their upbringing “off the grid”. She prevails through a number of hard circumstances, and it’s truly inspiring. You’ll be left feeling encouraged and amazed by her resiliency, and the things that she goes on to do in life, despite an unimaginable childhood. If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, you’ll love this autobiographical work, too. 

Limetown: This is a fictional podcast, so it’s more of a radio theater type experience, but it’s the perfect thing for those long road trips..the time will pass in a flash! It tells the tale of a mysterious disappearance of masses of people, and you’ll be left wanting more, with every single episode. Make sure you download all the available episodes, because you won’t want to miss a single one. 

*These are suggestions, and all the advertisements on the podcasts do not necessarily represent the professional views of Creations by Jewel as a business :) 



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Maycie | Senior Photography in Texas

Control. It’s a big part of our lives, and something most of us struggle with (yes, even me! Ha!). Learning that we can’t control everything in our lives is a major struggle, but something that is so valuable. It’s a lesson you really learn in your high school years, amid the stress of senior year and the excitement of heading to college. Often, many of my junior and senior clients face obstacles as they finish up their high school careers, and I always admire seeing how they handle them with grace and determination. For Maycie, one of my recent senior clients, one of these obstacles was that their family home flooded during the huge hurricane last year. It was a very difficult time, but they relied on their faith and each other, and made it through. Maycie explained that the experience really showed her that God is in control, and that she isn’t in charge of anything in her life…a very meaningful although difficult lesson. The Needville High School seniors also credits her mom with teaching her many valuable lessons, adding, “My mom is an amazing women, and I look up to her…she started having adult responsibilities at a very young age, and she is strong because of that. I love her, and would never trade her for another mom!” 

Besides the obvious growing and learning she did in high school, this bright young lady also was part of many clubs and activities at Needville. She was in the National Honor Society, and also held a part time job at a local coffee shop, which kept her very busy. During the last few years, she has gained a real passion for the medical field, and the help it provides to those who need it. She plans to attend college to become a physician’s assistant, and I know she will be amazing! She has a really giving spirit. When Maycie and her parents were looking for senior photographers, they settled on my work and I am sure glad they did. We did this entire session at a place very close to her heart: her home! Yes, every image except the ones with the truck, were done at their family’s yard, and the tree she’s sitting in is one where she loves to hunt. 

Maycie, I am grateful to be a small part of your senior year, and hope these photos always remind you of your hard work and how far you’ve come. You have so much to be proud of!

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Abby's Senior Session | Texas Senior Photographer

“Find out who you are, and do it on purpose”. -Dolly Parton

I hear a common misconception among the seniors who come to me for senior portraits. Many of them think that the must choose just one “look” during the shoot, and that it must be bohemian, urban, or modern. I really want every client to know that we can do multiple looks during the photo session, and that it doesn’t make you less authentic. I believe every senior can put their own spin on any outfit or location, and make it “them”. For Abby’s session (below), we showed off her love for softball, her love for high fashion, and her adorable everyday style! With each outfit change, we also chose an appropriate location, and I am head over heels for the way the ones with the granite steps came out. All of these images represent Abby and her journey in high school, and just because they are all different, doesn’t make her session less impactful. If you are struggling with coming up with your theme or style, I am always here to help, and enjoy guiding clients to find what will make them feel most confident. We really get to know our clients on a personal level, and find out their passions and interests, in order to capture them in their best light.

Abby is graduating from Needville High School, and will be attending A&M Commerce to play softball when he graduates. She is incredibly bright, fun and interesting, and a joy to talk to. Right now, she is currently on a special trip to Amsterdam (lucky girl!), and I cannot wait to hear about her adventures when she gets home. Congratulations, Abby!

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How to create an amazing resume

Making a resume: it’s not something that may be on the top of your to-do list for the summer, but it should be. No matter if you’re in the middle of freshman year or packing for college, learning how to make a resume is a life skill that everyone should know. Of course, there are plenty of resources like LinkedIn, where you can have a digital record of your employment and references, but many jobs require a paper or PDF copy that you will need to design, update, and store. Here are our very best tips on how you can create a resume that totally wows (and hopefully lands you the job of your dreams):

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Start with a list of your volunteer and employment histories: A simple legal pad or notebook paper will work for this step. Identify any things you’ve been involved in, such as volunteering at the Humane Society, working a part-time job (even if it’s nannying or babysitting), and anything that you can provide viable references for. You do not need to include your grade point average, or miscellaneous awards, unless they directly correlate with the job you’re applying for. Have a parent or other trusted adult check your list for relevant information, and to help you narrow down what is truly pertinent.

-Nail down your references and timelines: You don’t need to go back to your kindergarten years (please don’t!) to find relevant work history. It’s better to have less information than to try to scrounge around and fill it with things that have nothing to do with your reliability as an employee or intern. When you have narrowed down your specifics, make sure you contact anyone you worked under or for/with that would be a viable reference for you. You must ask their permission in writing, in order to include them on your resume as a personal or employer reference. Double check email addresses and phone numbers on anything you provide. If you’re unsure of when you started or stopped a job, make sure you ask the employer. 

-Always be honest: It is never okay to lie or include misinformation on your resume. As we mentioned, it is better to have a sparce, emptier resume that is truthful, than one padded with falsehoods. It will always be found out when you lie on one, and it sets you up for both legal trouble, and failing at a job. Only include experience you actually have, and only add names of people you truly know. Employers can see right through exaggerated lies, and you will always be on your toes, wondering if they will “find out” you stretched the truth…it’s best to always be honest! If you were fired or let go from a job and are embarrassed about it, be prepared with a truthful but concise statement because employers will likely ask you about a gap in work history.

-Design and save/print: There are so many awesome resources out there for resume building. You can google free templates from Microsoft Word if you want to keep things very simple and clean without much effort, but our favorite program is Canva for truly showstopping graphics and designs. They are free for almost all graphic elements, and only $1 for the fancier photos and fonts. It makes it a cinch to drag and drop your information into a beautiful and professional looking resume. Save a copy in Canva, where you can edit it as you add or take away work experience, and save a PDF and printed copy for your own files. 

Now, that you have a gorgeous resume, you are ready to go get your internship or dream job! We can’t wait to hear about it! Stay tuned here on the blog for more advice and tips as you prepare for college!

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Megan | Foster High School

Our heroes and the people we look up to, often show a lot about ourselves and our priorities. Sometimes they are celebrities (which is totally okay), but oftentimes, they are just regular people who have influenced us in positive and amazing ways. I have found more often than not, the people that my high school clients list as their biggest heroes are their parents or their coaches. Megan is no different; and shared that the two people who have changed her life the most have been her mom ( who is “strong and hardworking”) and her head athletic trainer, Tiffany. I love that, because when regular, everyday heroes are our role models, we know we can strive to be like them. This lovely young lady is a senior at Foster High School, and she is an exceptional athlete. She is part of the athletic training program, the National Honor Society, and the Pals program at Foster, and she is passionate about all her pursuits. One important obstacle that she has pushed through has been the challenges of being an athletic trainer during high school, and how it helped her be a better leader. 


Her favorite highlight of her four years of school would be the football season of her sophomore year, because “of the friends I made and the friends I grew closer with during the long, undefeated season”. Another one would be when the football team made it to the state semi finals. Although they were narrowly defeated, it was one of her favorite games, and such an exciting time to be part of the student body. Throughout her four years in school, she has also honed plans to become a physical therapist after graduation, and hopes to attend Texas State University. “My favorite quote is a little cliche, but I live my life by it”, she adds, “It is that God has a plan for all of us, and we should trust Him to lead us in the right direction”. I know these words are definitely true for her, and I can’t wait to see where her path leads. In five years, she hopes to be getting into physical therapy school.  I know she will be successful in whatever she does, and I loved creating these images with her!

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Things to do in Houston in the Summer

Here in the great state of Texas, we know how to beat the heat year round but sometimes, we need new things to keep us busy! Whether you’re brand new to our gorgeous area, or you’ve lived here for ages, you might enjoy this list of things to do as you make your summer bucket list!

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Six Flags Hurricane Harbor: This water park started as “wet and wild” splash park, and has since become one of the Six Flags attractions. It’s even better now, with improved rides and things to do, and you can even sign up for their new “meal plan” to enjoy it all summer long. Don’t miss the Vortex and Tornado rides, where you can beat the Houston heat while enjoying heart-stopping thrills!

Top Golf: These unique spots are popping up all over the US, because they are so much fun! It combines the fun of golf and skee-ball, with an interactive environment complete with food and drinks. You will love gathering with your friends and family to try this new take on the outdated mini-golf.

Escape rooms: These are the ultimate thing to do with friends or family. Consider trying an escape room with your graduating class, your best friends before your graduate, or for a family reunion! Most allow players of all ages to pair up with older ones if needed, and you can choose a more tame theme for something family-friendly. There are even some super spooky ones if you want to go around Halloween!

Space Center Houston: You can take a guided tour to the space center, where you’ll visit America’s history with the NASA space program, or you can simply head there yourself to view the many replicas and historical pieces (including rocks brought back from actual missions). TripAdvisor offers the specialty guided tours, that also include the Johnston space center as well. 

Photography tour: TripAdvisor also offers the Mural Tour, which is perfect for any influencers or Instagram-lovers! You’ll see some of the coolest paintings, artwork, walls and more that you can hop off and document immediately. It’s about 30 minutes long, and ends with a sweet treat. Well worth the $65 price tag, and perfect for gathering up your girlfriends and your smart phones!

Pack brunch and a picnic: There are countless, gorgeous parks in the Houston area, and all you have to do is head to a local grocer (we love Whole Foods) to snag your favorite goodies for the perfect summer afternoon. We recommend picking up salamis, fruit, cheese, crackers, sparkling water, and Marconi almonds for the best lunch spread ever. Then, decide whether you want to go to Discovery Park, Memorial Park, or Buffalo Bayou for your perfect lunch. 

Sunset movies at Rooftop Cinema Club: This is such a super-chic way to enjoy a movie. They screen classic and new movies, but the seats are limited so you’ll have to get there early. There are snacks available for purchase, and everyone gets wireless headphones so you can hear the movie and watch the sunset. It’s a one of a kind experience! 

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Incorporating Props into Your Senior Session

When it comes to props, many seniors have one or two items that they want to bring, but they may not consider them as “props”. Something as simple as your favorite coffee or drink can be considered a prop, believe it or not. Anything that shows off your personality can be included, and can really add a special dimension to your images. We wanted to share some ideas of things you may not have considered for your upcoming shoot:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

-Musical instruments: it might be a bit unwieldy to bring your cello to your shoot, but we love bringing pieces of our life into your session. For many seniors, that includes their love of music. You can bring things like sheet music, a microphone, or your actual instrument to convey this particular passion. If you play a large instrument like a piano, consider bringing your favorite books about the subject, or bringing a smaller option, like a keyboard. 

-Art and creative pursuits: Yes, you can even bring painting supplies, or a sketchbook. Are you writing a book? Bring along the manuscript. There is no limit to the way we can incorporate things like books, writing utensils, calligraphy supplies, or even your laptop if you are a graphic designer. If it says something about YOU, then we want it to be part of the shoot. 

-Favorite food: If you are an aspiring chef, bring along one of your creations! Your favorite cake? Your lucky apron? If you don’t cook or bake beautiful cakes or cupcakes, think of your favorite drink or food, and bring that along. It might sound silly, but some seniors even do a few of their ‘favorite things’ (shopping bags, coffee cups, snacks, or souvenirs like Mickey ears) as some of their props. 

-Your costumes/uniforms: Many seniors use their varsity jacket, which is always a nice touch. But, you can also add something like your cheer uniform, your pom poms, your gymnastics leotard, your ice skates, or even something like a polo with the emblem for debate team or another school activity. If you work a part-time job that you love, you can even bring your uniform for that (check with your boss first, as some companies have policies on being photographed in your uniform). 

I am always open to hearing your bright ideas about things you want to include, even if it’s your best friend or your beloved pet! We can make it happen. I love being creative and figuring out how to add in an unconventional item, and nothing makes me happier than being able to give you a senior session that’s truly about YOU. 

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Jackson's Senior Session

There’s something about a great, simple, outdoor session. It feels All-American, and a big nostalgic. There wasn’t a better fit than Jackson for a session like this: he’s a no-nonsense, kind, and interesting young man, and he loves the outdoors. I really enjoyed meeting his older sister a few years ago, and doing her senior photos as well. Hunting and fishing are two of his favorite past-times, and he also enjoys anything that has to do with Jeeps or old cars. He started his own mobile detailing company this year, and it’s going very well (what an entrepreneur!). In his spare time, he enjoys being with his friends, and training his dog Goose (who is pictured) to be a hunting dog. Lastly, he spends time volunteering in the PALS program, which matches older students with younger ones in order to be mentors and role models.

We chose an outdoor location with pretty trees and a small body of water, and we were blessed with blue skies when we met up. I wanted him to be able to have plenty of room to include his beloved dog, and to also show off his truck. Jackson is heading for more exciting adventures after graduation, and I hope to be front and center to watch his endeavors. 

Some people really love the outdoors, but others prefer an urban, downtown look for their personal style, or to show off a hobby or idea. I love showing off whatever you have in mind, and planning your shoot accordingly. 

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Inexpensive Coachella Style

So, maybe we don’t all have the means to end up at Coachella this year, but you don’t have to have tickets to the biggest music festival to look the part! The Coachella, bohemian style is a total hit when the weather warms up, even if you are just having brunch around town. It’s also a really fun style to bring into your senior session, and you can add a little polish and elegance to make it suitable for your epic photoshoot. But, those bohemian duds can really add up, thanks to many people scouring vintage shops for those special pieces. Here’s our best advice to finding the best items to boost your closet to festival-worthy:

Source: pexels.com

Source: pexels.com

-Free People isn’t the only brand out there: When you think of a festival look, many bloggers and laypeople alike head straight for Free People. Don’t get us wrong, we ADORE the gorgeous looks they are putting out, but when it comes to our pocketbooks…ouch. Remember that you don’t have to be brand loyal when it comes to saving money, and there are several brands that echo the same look as Free People. One boutique we love is Roolee. It’s online, it ships fast from Utah, and it has several tops, tunics, shoes, and dresses that would totally pass for items that would cost 10x as much. Check out these Yoko Flats, which are a pretty good dupe for the infamous Royale flat. 

-Start with the right foundation: No look is perfect unless you start with the basics, and work your way up from there. What we mean by that is: always make sure that you have proper undergarments, and well-fitted tanks, camis, leggings, and jeans to be your basis. When your bra, underwear, or shapewear fit properly, your outer items will fit better and can really improve the look cheaper pieces of clothing. If you need to, invest in a great pair of Spanx, and a professionally-fitted bra. You’d be surprised what a difference these can make when you begin to layer on those tops and dresses. And, there is no replacement for a great, sturdy pair of jeans that make you feel amazing. We highly recommend the Danny high-rise jean from Madewell. Yes, they are pricey, but they will become your everyday wear, and are well worth the money.

-Proportions are key: When you begin building festival looks, it’s important to remember to use the right proportions. If you have tight, minimal denim shorts, you can get away with a looser, flowing top with lots of details and embroidery. If you are sporting a longer maxi with cool sleeves, add chunky, neutral colored shoes to incorporate texture and height. Remember to stick with 1-2 statement pieces, so you don’t look tacky or distracting. 

-When it comes to makeup, look for the drugstore dupes: Makeup can be a huge piece that takes up your whole budget. Before you know it, you’ve spent $100-$200 at Ulta or Sephora and you haven’t even gotten to your wardrobe yet. We highly recommend looking at YouTube and other beauty blogger sites to find drugstore dupes (like this one) and splurging only on your foundation and skincare. This is especially true if you are buying specific makeup looks for your boho stylings, and not for everyday wear. 

-Shop secondhand: Yes, it’s true, and we know you probably have heard it before, but secondhand is the way to go. Not only is it better for the environment and more socially responsible, you’re more likely to find the pieces that will become the envy of your friends; that one of a kind leather jacket, a pair of wooden clogs, huarache sandals, or seventies vintage glasses. You will also pay much less, even at an upscale vintage shop, than you would brand-new for items that have not withstood the test of time. If you don’t have any local shops that you enjoy, check out online retailers like thredUp and Poshmark for the ability to shop and have them shipped to you. 

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How to Make a Budget for College

College is expensive. Anyone who tells you it isn’t… is probably lying! Ha! It’s really a wise practice to make a budget for any season in your life, but especially in college. You will be well occupied with your class schedule, and may not even be working part-time while you’re in school. So, without a big income source, how will you cover those many expenses? That’s where a smart budget comes in: you will never wonder how to pay your bills, and you will always know what’s left in your month allotment. Here are our very best tips to creating a realistic budget as you leave home for the first time:

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

Figure out where your income sources are coming from: Whether you are working or not while in school, you will have some sort of “income” source. It can be money from your parents, a trust fund, your own job, student loans, or any other sort of incoming finances. If your parents are supporting you in college, be clear with your expectations and how much you will be receiving. It’s not a fun conversation, but its really necessary with family, so no one has unfair expectations about their roles. If you are working, be sure to factor in taxes and fees that come out of your check, before you estimate how much you’re really taking home.

Next, divide up your upcoming expenses into categories. You will have many categories when it comes to college, but here are our suggested basics: Room and board, textbooks and school supplies, transportation, clothing, and discretionary spending. Room and board would include: cost of living on campus, or an apartment with utilities such as power and internet. Textbooks and supplies can include anything that you need for school, so don’t leave out items like scientific calculators, lab equipment, or any special uniforms or clothing. Transportation can include your own car, public transport, and any associated fuel or insurance fees, and clothing is self-explanatory. Discretionary spending includes any entertainment, spending money, or extras such as dining out with friends. We would also recommend adding a category for your cell phone plan, if that’s something you pay for.

Match up your expenses to your income, and figure out where the gaps are: If you are unable to meet your basic needs with your income, you will need to figure out a secondary plan, such as cutting out things like clothing money, or taking on part time work, such as selling clothes on Poshmark, or babysitting or tutoring. If at all possible, avoid taking out additional student loans because of the interest rates. 

Track your expenses: Once you have a written or digital (like an app) budget in place, begin diligently tracking your expenses. You can often find out where your biggest pitfalls lie by looking at your online banking statements and matching them up to your categories. Before you leave for college, one of the wisest things you can do is to save a large nest egg up, in order to cover emergencies such as new tires, unexpected travel (especially if you live very far from home), or a medical crisis. We recommend at least $2000 as an “emergency” fund, although any more than that would be very wise as well. 

By being diligent about managing your money in college, you are setting yourself up for success in the rest of your life as well. College is not only useful to gain academic knowledge, but it is also an important time to create healthy habits financially! 

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