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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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How to Care for Indoor Plants

We don’t all have a green thumb, but most of us have seen those drool-worthy shots on Instagram that feature adorable succulents and fiddle leaf figs, and wondered how we could tend our own plants! As you are preparing to leave the nest for the first time (heading to college), you might want to start caring for your very own little plant families, and so, we wanted to give you our best tips.

Source: Pexels.com

Source: Pexels.com

-Choose the best plants for your room or home: Some plants like cactus and succulents need constant sunlight, which will make them tricky to grow somewhere like a dorm room, so look for plants that match where you plan to enjoy them. If you have a lot of natural light in your apartment or room, you will be able to situate them in the perfect spots. The creeping fig and philodendron are two that don’t require much sun, and still give you the beauty of having indoor plants.

-Figure out how much water your plants need: One of the most common causes for plants to die is too much or not enough water. Each species of plant need certain amounts of water, so it’s good to figure that out before soaking your little pots. Soil should be moist, not saturated or dry. Watch for yellow leaves or browning on the edges of your plant as signs of it drying out.

-If you leave, ask someone to check on your plants: If you have a roommate or friend, ask them to look in on your plants and water/open the blinds if they can. That way, you won’t risk coming home from vacation to a bunch of sad and dead plants. Be sure to leave instructions if they are particularly finicky plants that need certain care, and employ a moisture probe if you are curious how much water your potted plants need.

-Water with your leftover cooking water: It sounds silly, but come leftover cooking water, such as that used to cook veggies or hard boiled eggs, can be filled with nutrients for your growing greenery. It also is a great way to use up water that would otherwise be tossed out.

-Watch the temperature: Your thermostat matters. If you’re sharing a dorm room, it may be tricky to come to an agreement on the heat or cooling systems, but remember that it does affect the moisture of each plant for it to be too hot or too cool. Look online for your certain plant species, to see if your types need a certain temperature range, and then aim for that when you set your thermostat. Also, remember that indoor plants help clean the air, so they are good for you as well as pretty to look at!

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How to find and earn scholarships 

When you consider the amount of student loan debt that the average American is in these days, it will inspire you to search out the maximum number of scholarships you can apply for. College is expensive, and the costs are only going up. While you may know that applying is smart, you may also wonder where you can even find the right scholarships. How do you know you’re not wasting your time, and which ones you qualify for? That’s where today’s tips come in…here’s how and where you can find awesome opportunities to offset those hefty student loans:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

  1. Figure out how much your deficit is. This should be step one for anyone applying to college. You need to know how much financial need you really have, and to do so, you’ll need to sit down with your parents or guardians and make a budget. You can request quotes for tuition, dorm life, and food from any prospective colleges that should help guide your numbers. You need to also factor in any travel costs (driving, car upkeep), things you’ll need like sports equipment or uniforms, and sorority associated fees, etc. Then you’ll be able to calculate how much you’ll need above and beyond what family or other assistance is already helping out with. 

  2. Brush up your resume and volunteer hours: Many scholarships are based on your community work or your extra curriculars; they look kindly on students who are well-rounded and efficient with their time. Obviously, you should also be striving for excellent grades in all subjects at school, and of course, keeping up with any other obligations like a part-time job. You should begin to take these things very seriously as early as freshman year, in order to keep your resume as strong as possible.

  3. Use scholarship search engines: You may be surprised at what scholarships you actually qualify for. If you have family members in the military, you may qualify for additional college assistance as well. Scholarship Owl is one that works similarly to a job search website, and matches you with the ones you best meet the criteria for. Fastweb is another one that is excellent and speedy with finding scholarships that you are already able to apply for. Using the web services helps prevent wasted time.

  4. Speaking of time: view applying for scholarships as a part time job…one you really want! If you earn scholarships, you will save yourself not only money, but time. You will have to take on less part-time work and stress if your school finances are more squared away. If you are really on a time-crunch, consider scheduling one hour a day to work on applications and essays, and block out the time just like any other activity.

  5. Stay organized: It is best to make a binder or dedicated area for all of your scholarship copies, forms, deadlines and essays. Make a master spreadsheet or calendar with all of the deadlines so that you don’t miss any of them. If you are asking for letters of recommendation from teachers or friends, be sure to get more than one copy of each one so you don’t need to bother them again. Try to make a master copy of your basic essay, so you can merely tweak and change it up for each application to save time. 

With these simple tips, you can devote your time to finding scholarships, and also increase your chances at winning them! Good luck!

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4 Practical Ways for Finding Joy

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Finding joy is like finding buried treasure. It will take work, and you’ll go on quite a journey getting there, but you need to know where you can find it before you can set off. Thankfully, there are many maps to finding joy, and if you’re willing to put in a bit of work getting there, you’ll realize that it’s not that hard to find. Happiness and joy are different, in that happiness is fleeting and often brought about by things that happen around you, while joy is consistent, and comes from inside. In other words, other things can make us happy, but we can make ourselves joyful. Here are some practical ways for finding joy!

Treat everyday like thanksgiving - No, I don’t mean what you think I mean. I’m not talking about the food (although I can definitely whip up some joy with a bit of chocolate), what I’m talking about is giving thanks. When you make a habit out of being thankful for the things in your life, you’re automatically shifting your mind into a positive mindset, and slowly changing the way that you think about things. Do this for long enough, and you won’t be able to recognize yourself from before, because you’ll be so much more joyful.

Image source: pexels.com

Image source: pexels.com

Challenge yourself with something and commit to it - Here’s where that hard work comes in. The feeling of accomplishment is made up of joyful feelings, and is a very practical way to cultivate joy. Think of that project that you’ve been wanting to do for a long time - maybe you’ve been wanting to learn another language, write more short stories, beat the record on track team - and commit yourself to doing it. You’ll have to be more organized, and set reachable goals, but in the end, the effort will be so worth it, and the journey to accomplishing what you set out to will give you a big dose of joy.

Do something you love - This one only is hard when it comes time to stop. Think about the things that give you joy - whether it’s going out with friends, shopping, exercise, painting, etc. - and do that thing. It’s a surefire way to get a good grasp of joy, but you have to be make sure that the thing you love to do doesn’t become a crutch. You’ve probably heard the adage, “Too much of a good thing.” If you do something you love in excess, then that thing won’t give you much joy anymore. Do what you love in moderation, and you’ll be one joyful person!

Image source: pixabay.com

Image source: pixabay.com

Make time for laughter - Anyone’s who laughed knows that it makes them feel better. There’s no wonder that some of the most joyful people you know love to laugh! Think about the last time you genuinely laughed: how did you feel? As you grow older, you’ll have less opportunity to laugh, so while you’re young you should make it a habit. Maybe you have a group of friends that always make you laugh, or you love to watch comedies - you know what makes you laugh. Make time for these things, and you’ll find a whole lot of joy.

Finding joy isn’t as hard as it first seems, no matter where you’re coming from. The hardest part is putting one foot in front of the other, and making the effort to build up that joy. Give yourself time, and you’re sure to find that joy and hold onto it for years to come. If you’re a senior, then you have a unique opportunity to build that joy through a senior session with me. Contact me here to book your session!

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Snow Queen Stylized Shoot

Before there was Elsa and all her Frozen glory, there was the snow queen from Hans Christian Anderson’s book. Snow has long been an inspiration for many photographers and designers, and for good reason. Snow and ice are incredible, magical, and beautiful. There is a sense of mystery to the cold temperatures, and it inspired this styled session with the beautiful Abby and Kaitlynn. Kaitlynn is our usual hair and makeup artist, so she did her own styling, and the lovely Sylvie did Abby’s makeup this time. Both girls were eager to put their own twist on the idea of a modern day snow queen, and I loved having the creative freedom to make this shoot happen!

The first look was very “Elsa”, with a beautiful white outfit and shimmering makeup. We did a side fishtail braid, and added a bit of floral branches to create a true crown. The second look was warmer and had more of a holiday feel, with a crimson floral berry crown, and hints of blue in her shimmering makeup look. As you know if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, I really find inspiration in coming up with new and creative styling in my sessions, and this one was no exception. If you are a senior who wants really unique senior photos and has a special idea, I’d love to help you figure out how to make it happen…no idea is too crazy or too adventurous to try, and who wouldn’t want to have the most unique photos amongst their friends?

Contact me today!

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creations by jewel_ice queen_creative_winter.jpg
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Tips for Traveling on a Budget

We have all been there: drooling over the Instagram of that one friend, the one who always seems to be jet-setting off to a new destination. We have all dreamed of traveling to see new places, and I always love a good vacation! But, sometimes our budgets have other plans, and it can be especially hard to plan for travel when you’re in high school or you are a parent paying for a high schooler as they graduate. I wanted to put together some of my best tips for traveling on a budget today! You can start dreaming of your next trip, even if it’s just an overnight jaunt to a nearby city. Travel is good for the body, and the soul!

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Plan with safety and convenience in mind: Never go on a trip without telling someone, and if you’re in high school, be sure to tell a trusted adult when you’ll be leaving and returning. Have your car checked out before you go on a long road trip, so you don’t risk blowing a tire or having your car break down (thus costing tons of money) while you are away from family and friends. Make sure you can charge your phone somehow, and bring along emergency cash, food, and water anytime you are driving a long distance, especially in the colder months or extreme heat. 

-Make a budget: Decide what you will be able to pay, and if you’re traveling with friends, make sure you are upfront about what you and they will be paying for. It’s never fun to have a surprise that you weren’t planning for, or having to foot the bill for something you didn’t know you were responsible for. You can even use an app like Paypal or Venmo to create a money pool and budget accordingly. Be considerate of others if you are planning a group trip, and come up with ways to make it affordable for everyone, even if it means skipping a fancy dinner and packing your own food. Remember it’s about relationships, not the money spent. Make a budget and stick to it, so you’re not left with credit card debt as your souvenir!

-Don’t book your travel on a sketchy site: One of the best ways to lose your hard earned money is to book with a scam website. Don’t fall for emails that say you will win a free cruise or trip, unless you trust the sender. Be sure to double check any bookings you have made, and try to go through a well regarded travel site like Expedia or Kayak, to minimize the risk of putting your credit card and information out there for hackers. If possible, book using a credit card with fraud protection versus a debit card that can drain your accounts. You can also use the airline tools that show you the cheapest fares, in order to select any flights that will save you money. 


-Organize meals and snacks ahead of time: one of the biggest areas that will cost when you travel is food. You can minimize the amount of money you’ll have to spend on dining out by taking advantage of things like a continental breakfast at a hotel, or packing easy to eat items like instant oatmeal, granola bars, or beef jerky in order to skip at least one meal a day in a restaurant. Even something like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches may not be glamorous but they will save you quite a bit. When you do eat out, check Yelp for affordable places to eat, and order water to drink (even the few dollars adds up). If you’re going to be dining at places you know ahead of time, like chain restaurants, consider buying gift cards before you go at your local grocery store. You’ll earn gas points when you purchase them at most grocery chains, and it’s money you’d already be spending, so it’s a great way to save on gas.

-Look for cheap travel ideas: If you keep an open mind, you can travel on a shoestring, even if it’s just camping. Camping can be a great way to get out of town without paying for a spendy hotel. Travel is so good to clear your head and get a change of pace, and camping can do just that, even if it’s a short drive away. Gather up some friends, and get into the great outdoors for a trip that won’t break the bank

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Strategies for Overcoming Challenges

As a small business owner and also someone who works with high school seniors, I know that challenges are a part of life. As a photographer, I run into challenges whether it’s location changes, lengthy editing sessions, or trying to juggle being a mother and wife along with a professional…they pop up from time to time, even though I adore my job. I’ve discovered some great strategies to dealing with problems in a constructive way, and I wanted to share them with you. Especially as we head into a new year, it’s great to have some tools in your arsenal to deal with any challenges that may arise. 

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Keep perspective: Decide if a problem is worth getting upset over. Often, I realize that something that seems huge at the time may actually not be that big of a deal. One good way to figure this out is to sleep on a big decision or problem, in order to calm down and figure out what is needed to solve it. Trying to solve something stressful when you are hungry, tired, or grumpy is never a good idea, and can cause your perspective to be super skewed and out of bounds!

-Try some calming techniques before you tackle a problem: Deep breathing, essential oils, and positive mantras are just some of the ways you can calm yourself down before dealing with a difficult person or situation. Take a few deep breaths with an essential oil like Stress Away, in order to help increase your calmness. Also remember to schedule a hard meeting or phone call in a time in your day when you can focus and be well rested!

-Remember that facts and emotions are sometimes different: I know when I am facing an obstacle, sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I forget the facts of the situation. Facts like what actually occurred, or what needs to happen next. Some good questions to ask yourself are, “What is making me upset in this situation”, “What do I need this person or business to do about it”, and “What needs to occur next”. Sometimes, you may realize your frustration is directed at the wrong person or place, and that perhaps they cannot do anything to fix it. If you are struggling to know what to do, try writing out a list of the main points to keep yourself focused. 

-Bring in a third party if you are stuck: If you’re a teen struggling with a teacher or friends, bringing in another objective adult like a parent or family friend can help bring some help to a situation that you may need a fresh opinion on. It can also help to ask advice from someone who is not affiliated with any of the “sides” of the issue or situation, because they often can come up with solutions you may not have thought of. If you are a teen dealing with a company or organization, it can be helpful to bring in your spouse or parent to assist you if you feel you are not being taken seriously. 

-Resolve to move on if things cannot be resolved: Sometimes a relationship or problem simply cannot be solved in a way where both parties feel satisfied. I have found it’s good to let it go and move on, without letting it fester or become a bitter sticking point for me. If I have done everything in my power to be reasonable and try to solve the problem, sometimes it is necessary to let it go, if at all possible, so I can maintain positivity and happiness in my own life!



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Books to Read During Christmas Break

If you have access to a cozy fire and a good blanket, then you have the perfect environment to get some reading done this holiday season! Often, we get days off work or school, and have some downtime. So, what better time is there to start a new book? I know it’s hard to settle down in the hustle and bustle of the holidays with the shopping, wrapping, and cooking, but after the 25th, you may have a few free days to really REST! Here are some of our top picks of books to devour before the end of 2018:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This book is a great, quiet thriller. It’s the story of secrets and how they can upend a whole community. It will keep you turning the pages until the very end. If you like her beautiful writing style, you’ll also like her book “Everything I Never Told You” about a death in the family and the mystery surrounding it.

Girl, Wash Your Face: Rachel Hollis has inspired tons of women and girls to get through hard circumstances, and keep their heads held high. This is an inspiring book filled with motivational thoughts and ideas to get you out of a rut. It also makes the perfect gift for your girlfriends or your mom. Rachel also is awesome on social media and her podcast, so be sure to check those out as well.

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks: If you want a quintessential chick-lit book, this one will fit the bill. It’s a romantic story of a surgeon who falls in love, and the family commitments that drive them apart. It’s a page turner and a tear jerker, and the perfect book to settle into a bubble bath or a road trip with. It’s a larger book, so it’ll also be perfect for those readers who like to truly savor a story.

Turtles All the Way Down: John Green is one of my favorite authors, because of the way he weaves a story together. This is no exception. It is a powerful story about mental illness and the way it touches people’s lives, but it’s also lighthearted and enjoyable, and even funny. You won’t be able to put it down, and you’ll want to share it with everyone you know.

Ghost Soldiers: An atypical biography about a true story during World War II. It’s the riveting account of a true life rescue, and the men who defied the odds. It reads well, and isn’t boring in the least. We bet you will plow right through it, and then loan it to your friends. It has some violent content due to the war subject matter, but it’s a worthwhile and meaningful read.



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Making (and keeping) Your New Years Resolutions

We have all made New Years resolutions that we failed to keep. Whether we followed through for one day or one month, we have all felt that pang of regret that we didn’t continue to do what we had committed to. Often, we decide to eat healthier, work out, be better with our money, or get better grades. Perhaps you want a promotion at your job, or to give back to your community in some way. But we have all realized life can crowd in quickly, and derail even the best laid plans. Here are our tips for making and keeping your resolutions for the brand new year:

Source: Pexels

Source: Pexels

-Be specific: Saying “I will eat healthier" is a really broad resolution. Instead, think of ways you can be more specific, such as “I will stop eating fast food after school”. You could also swap in healthier options like walking instead of taking the elevator, or walking twice a week. Being specific helps your brain recognize what task needs to be done. Other specific things are: I will purge my closet, I will recycle my cans, I will use a planner to stay organized. These are easy ways to begin implementing healthy changes in your life, without making broad, unrealistic statements that are too vague.

-Be realistic: If you know you cannot commit to working out one hour a day, or volunteering 20 hours a week, it is not realistic to say that’s what you will do. You will just set yourself up for failure, before you’ve even started. Instead set a lower, more realistic goal, such as “I will work out 3 days a week” and then make a chart to show your progress. A visual aid helps keep you on track, and makes it easier to see how much you’ve really done.

-Be accountable: A friend who has a similar goal can help keep you on track to meet your goal. Ask a friend to walk twice a week with you, or download a fitness app that you can both use to view progress. If your goal is to save money or get better grades, make an agreement with your friend to help you stay the course. For example, if drive-through coffee or eating out is draining your savings, ask your friend to help by planning to pack a lunch with you a few days a week, or learning to make your own espresso or tea that you can put into travel mugs. A buddy makes it easier to stick to a plan.

-Make fewer goals: If you make too many goals, you will burn yourself out too quickly. Consider making 2-3 realistic goals that you feel confident that you can reach. Of course, they shoudln’t be too easy, and should be somewhat challenging, but shouldn’t be impossible. If you’ve never run in your life, three marathons might be absolutely impossible for your body to achieve, but a 5k is going to be challenging yet achievable. If you don’t know what an achievable goal would look like, ask an adult or a parent to help you brainstorm. '

By setting and keeping your goals, you will feel accomplished and will be on your way to a more disciplined and fulfilling life! Happy New Year!

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