Book Reviews – “Touch and Go” and “Faithful Place”

From the desk of: Veronica

I’m not sure what it is about this cloudy, dreary, turn-on-the-heat-in-July weather, but it makes me want to read crime/mystery/thriller novels. You too? Excellent, because I have two book reviews for you.

Read on, and get ready to add both to your library, e-reader, or shopping lists!

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First up is one of my new favorite authors: Tana French. French sets her novel Faithful Place in some less-than-desirable areas of modern Dublin, and yet, somehow, reading the book made me want to pack up and move there immediately. When I finished the book and contemplated this, I realized that it was one of the many reasons that I thought this book was simply fantastic.

The summary on the back of the book simply does not do the book justice. The book follows Frank Mackey, who thinks he has escaped the terror and heartbreak that was his childhood home, only to be pulled back in, decades later. A clue about the disappearance of his high school sweetheart brings the detective back to the chaos he thought he had escaped for good. The intersecting circles of lost love, family abuse, and an excellent mystery make this a book not to be missed.

The world French creates is so incredibly real, and while gritty and heartbreaking at times, it is so real you miss the characters (even the mean ones) when you finish the book. From the prologue, I could see Faithful Place, the characters, and the neighborhoods of Dublin. However, (thankfully) she does not accomplish this by spending page after page after page describing these people and places. In fact, I even went back and checked, after finishing the book and feeling this sense of certainty about how every nook and cranny of this world looked, and found that she is definitely not one of those authors who forces you to read laborious and overwhelming details in order to paint the world. I am still unsure how she managed it, but her skill with words puts these images in your head with a minimum of adjectives. Bravo to that!

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this novel was the language. As it is set in modern-day Dublin, French uses the dialect to great effect, and I could not help but smile every time I read a “Jaysus!” or “eejit” or “fecking.” Aside from the excellent language and phrases I found myself using long after (“What’s this then, Josephine? You trying to set my heart sideways, are you then?”), the characters were bold, saucy, and the dialogue was sharp as a tack. There is nothing boring about this book, to be sure.

There aren’t too many authors who inspire me to immediately find everything else they have ever written, but Tana French is one of those authors. I recommend this book to anyone, without hesitation.

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Next up is Touch and Go by Lisa Gardner. This book is fantastic, fast-paced, and thrilling. It manages to read as both plot-driven and character-driven, and holds readers in suspense for nearly 400 pages without a break. 

It’s near impossible to tell you what this book is about without also including spoilers, and these days, almost anything about the plot is a spoiler to me, so all I will tell you is this is a story of a family on the brink of destruction, of cops chasing criminals and trying to save the family, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat.


Alternating back and forth between the family in distress and the large group of police, sheriff, and FBI agents trying to save them, this is nearly impossible to put down. I was biting my nails for the family, trying to solve the mystery, and shouting at the cops to hurry up and quit missing clues all in turns. It made my head spin (in a good way).


But seriously, this book was so fantastic that I took it with me into the baby’s room at night while I rocked her, and strained to see by the very dim light of the hallway coming in through the crack in her door. For real. Thankfully, Lisa Gardner has published quite a few books, because I am putting them at the top of my library list.

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I hope you are inspired to get reading. If you have any mystery books you think I should be reading, feel free to leave some titles in the comments!

Veronica profile_w_cropYou can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


A Senior Shoot with Chris W

From the desk of: Amanda

A few weeks ago, Sean was able to spend some time here in Michigan, so I made sure we had several shoots lined up. We’re really excited to share some of the results of those with you. The photos are just as amazing as the people we got to spend time with. Each shoot will get its own special post. First up is Chris W, a senior at Port Huron Northern.

072313_2319_ASeniorShoo1.jpgChris was a trooper. It was almost 90 degrees out, and we made him pose every which way … in a suit, lol. But come on … seeing this on the back of the camera? Totally worth the sweat 😉

072313_2318_ASeniorShoo2.jpg072313_2319_ASeniorShoo3.jpg072313_2319_ASeniorShoo4.jpgOnce Chris got changed into something a little cooler, he really loosened up, and the smiles were flowing more freely:

072313_2319_ASeniorShoo5.jpg072313_2318_ASeniorShoo6.jpg072313_2318_ASeniorShoo7.jpgOkay, so that last one might not have been a smile, but come on … we can’t smile ALL the time, can we??

Lacrosse has been a wildly successful part of Chris’s school career, and it’s no surprise … would YOU wanna mess with him on the field? I know I sure wouldn’t!!

chris w_hood_3

072313_2319_ASeniorShoo9.jpgAll in all, this was an awesome shoot. We were super lucky to work with such a laidback teen!!

Stay tuned for the next post about our very own Veronica!!!

Want to get to know us a little better?  Facebookers can find us here, Tweeters can find us here, or if you’re a pinner, our boards are here. If you’re looking for more of ME, don’t be shy. you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I can’t wait to connect with you!

Preserving Memories … Beyond the Photos

From the desk of: Amanda

A lot of time, thought, energy, and yes, money has gone into planning your wedding. If you’re like me, the day is going to fly right by, and while you had fun, most of it was just a big blur. A lot of the details that you spent so much time laboring over were completely lost. Thank goodness you had a photographer there to capture the memories for you, right? Photos are by far the easiest way to remember your day, but what about everything else? I’ve put together a list of ways to preserve various elements of your wedding.

The Flowers
The most popular thing to preserve after any event would be the flowers. My mom had her bouquet sealed in a glass box after the wedding, and it lasted for YEARS. If we hadn’t moved, where it was jostled a good bit, I’m guessing it would still be around today. There are other methods of saving your flowers as well. Here are a couple links to help you decide what’s right for you.


The Dress
Next up, I would have to say that wedding dresses are the second most popular thing on the list. Most local dry cleaners or bridal salons have a preservation service that they offer. For a few hundred dollars, they will clean your dress, press it, wrap it in unbleached muslin, and then store it in a cardboard box for you. This process will help to keep the moisture away from your dress, eliminating that pesky musty odor that can occur when you use a plastic garment bag.


The Cake
Saving part of your wedding cake is a tradition that some couples are starting to get away from. While there is the allure of the sentiment behind eating the very same cake on your first anniversary as was served at the wedding … I’d really rather eat it the night of the wedding. But, for those of you who are hard core traditionalists:


The Finer Details
The next thing I’d like to show you is something that I’d never seen before (and was actually the inspiration for this post), but I think is super cool. Preserving your SHOES. I know, right? You spent months looking for the perfect shoes, and if you’re like me, you selected a pair that you can’t exactly incorporate into your daily wardrobe. What to do now? Check THIS out ..

So simple! I absolutely love this idea.

A Shadow Box
Another great way to preserve the memory of your day is to bring almost all of these details together in a shadowbox. You can hire someone to do it for you, or you can head on over to your favorite craft store and pick up an empty box. They come in a variety of sizes, styles, and finishes, so you can pick something that will work well with your décor. The beauty of a shadowbox is, you can include as much or as little as you want. Here’s a list of items that you may want to include in yours.

FryWedding_ShadowBox

Photo Credit: Love My Sister’s Closet

So, you see, there are about a zillion different ways to hold on to the memory of your wedding day. Have you heard of something or done something that I didn’t mention? Leave a comment and let us know! I love hearing what you have to say!

Want to get to know us a little better?  Facebookers can find us here, Tweeters can find us here, or if you’re a pinner, our boards are here. If you’re looking for more of ME, don’t be shy. you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I can’t wait to connect with you!

Beating the Summer Heat – Top 5 Wacky Ways to Stay Cool

From the desk of: Veronica

I don’t know what it’s been like where you live, but we just suffered through quite the heat wave in Michigan last week (I’ll take it over winter any day, though!). It got me thinking that there must be a million funny and interesting ways to keep cool.

I was right. Not only did I find hilarious directions for DIY air conditioning units, but an array of personal cooling products.


Bed fan ($99.99, brookstone.com)

It works by fitting between the top and bottom sheets and trapping cool air around your body, instead of using the energy to try to cool the entire room. Pretty ingenious.


iPhone-powered personal fan ($12.99, thinkgeek.com)

Sounds pretty good — if you don’t count the heat the phone will release if you are holding it in your hand, of course.


Ice vest ($62.58, amazon.com)

Serious about staying cool? This baby should do the trick.


Poise roll-on cooling gel ($5.97, amazon.com)

 If you are stuck somewhere and can’t access a fan or water, this could get you out of a pickle.


CoolWare Personal Cooling System ($39.99, from sharperimage.com)

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a cooling collar in this list. It’s where my mind automatically goes when I think of wacky cooling gadgets.

If you don’t want to get too wild, you can always fill your freezer with one of dozens of cute ice cube trays. 😉

Stay cool, everyone!

Veronica profile_w_cropYou can find More of Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor),  Or On TwitterInstagram, And Pinterest! Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


Bubbles for Brooklyn: SPP Style

From the desk of: Amanda

A few weeks ago, I was surfing Facebook (big shocker, I know), and I came across Amanda Lipsey’s business page (Amanda Marie Photography). She’s another photographer here in Michigan, so I spent some time poking around out of curiosity. She had just posted a call out to all of her photographer friends and followers, asking for help with a super special project that she was working on. Naturally, I emailed her and asked her what Sean and I could do to help. This is the response I got:

“Brooklyn is battling cancer right now and she loves bubbles. So what i am trying to do is get a bunch of people around the world to take pictures of themselves or their children blowing bubbles for Brooklyn somewhere. Whether it be at their house, in front of a cool landmark on the beach etc. I am going to be doing a BIG blog post and including all the photos so please either water mark them or provide me with link to your fanpage or website. The concept behind this is the idea that each bubble is a prayer for Brooklyn to get better. I am hoping this will cause a flood of others to post their own bubble blowing photos on Brooklyn’s page and really help grow their page.”

Perfect! Sean and I have always been quick to help with any charity, especially those involving kids, so this was a no brainer. Combining photography and helping this little girl? We were in. It seemed like perfect timing, since we had a few family shoots already lined up. I picked up plenty of bubbles, and we had a TON of fun!

I think it would be super cool if everyone that reads this goes out, takes some of their OWN bubble photos and posts them to Brooklyn’s page. They don’t need to be professional, remember … each bubble is a prayer for Brooklyn, and anyone can send up a prayer or positive thought, so get out there and have some FUN. We sure did, check it out!

Here’s Genevieve Dimick chasing the bubbles that her Grandma was blowing:

Genevieve and her sister Josephine playing with bubbles in the grass:


Josephine admiring her HUUUGE bubble ………… right before it burst!072213_0357_BubblesforB4.jpg

A quick video of Amy Zill and her kids, Andrew, Matthew and Kaitlyn, blowing bubbles with some encouragement from Sean 😉


Andrew Zill and his extra large bubble!See how much fun that was? What are you waiting for?! Grab your camera (or phone!), some bubbles, and go have some fun of your own!

Here are the links I promised:

Amanda Marie Photography’s Blog Post – Bubbles for Brooklyn

Brooklyn’s Facebook page – Battle for Brooklyn

Want to get to know us a little better?  Facebookers can find us here, Tweeters can find us here, or if you’re a pinner, our boards are here. If you’re looking for more of ME, don’t be shy. you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I can’t wait to get to know you!

Our Gift

From the desk of: Veronica

When Sean and Amanda offered to take pictures of me and my husband to make up for my dreadful wedding pictures AND some of my family, I was flabbergasted. How wonderful and amazing are these people, am I right?

I was so excited. But … if I’m being totally honest, I was also very nervous.

Here’s the thing: I love pictures. My girls are so gorgeous they take my breath away. My husband is incredibly good-looking. That leaves me. And I am really not a fan of the way I look.

I know, I know. Love yourself, blah blah blah, but I don’t. I just don’t, and I feel like a lot of people feel the same way I do. We’re not all models, and I’m certainly not the most hideous person on the planet, but when I see pictures of myself, I just cringe. I look like THAT?

So on top of the shopping for clothes and getting my hair did and making sure the girls were as clean and primped as possible, I was also worrying about the outcome. Am I going to hate the pictures simply because I am in them?

Then it hit me. These pictures aren’t just for me anyway. Sure, no matter how fat I think I look, I’m going to hang them on my wall and make them my wallpaper on my computer and stare at them every day and love them, but it hit me out of the blue the other day: These are for my girls.

Family portrait

These pictures of our young family, happy, healthy, smiling. These pictures of me and Jeremy, totally in love with each other. These are for me, but they are going to be the pictures my girls pull out to look at when they want to remember their youth, or see what mom and dad looked like when they were young. The love is going to ooze out of these images, and I just know they won’t be able to look at them without smiling.

Then, one day, their possible future children (and those children’s children, and those children’s children, and on and on) will pull these out of dusty photo albums to see what their ancestors looked like. While it’s possible it might cross someone’s mind that mom/grandma/great-grandma was pleasantly plump, I don’t think that’s what they will be looking for.

They will look for the sparkle in my eyes. The smile on my face. The dimples that might look just like their own. How I hold my husband’s arm. How I stare at my children with such love it looks as if my heart will burst. That’s what they’ll look for, not the size of my hips. And they’ll find all those things.

Couple's portrait

Thank you Sean and Amanda. I thank you, and my family thanks you. You have given us such a beautiful gift.

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), on TwitterInstagram, (and Pinterest!). Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.


Prepping for a Photo Shoot

From the desk of: Amanda

You’ve made the decision to schedule a portrait session. These days, most photographers refer to them as an “investment”, and I really like that term. If you’ve taken the time to research and select a professional photographer for your photos, you’re showing that it holds substantial value to you. And because of that, it is very important that you are able to take advantage of what the session has to offer. Don’t let the research stop just because you’ve found the perfect photographer. There are a few more things that you can do to make sure that you get the most out of your experience. Plus, the more you’re prepared beforehand, the more relaxed you’ll be, and it will show.

The number one issue that most people run in to is …What on earth will I wear?!

The biggest thing that I cannot stress enough is, be comfortable. I’m not saying wear sweats. Dress nicely, but do wear something that is you. Something that you not only look natural in, but feel comfortable in as well. Remember that everything comes across on the camera, so if you’re feeling the slightest bit uncomfortable, it’s going to show.

If you’re really unsure of what will look good on camera, take Sean’s post from the other day into consideration. He talks about how to determine the type of skin tone that you have, and how to select colors that work well with you.
Warm colors

Cool colors

For family sessions, everyone is all over the board as to how each family member should dress. Some people think that everyone should match. Some people that everyone should wear the same color, but in different styles. Others think that it doesn’t matter, and you can wear whatever you want. There’s no real wrong answer here, it boils down to what YOU want on YOUR walls. My personal preference, and what I generally recommend to clients, is coordinating colors. I think that a variety of color is a great way to go, as long as they all complement each other. Here’s an awesome site that we use all the time to help us find coordinating colors. Don’t be shy. Test it out. I can guarantee that you’ll find an amazing color palette in there that you never would have dreamed of putting together.

color scheme homepageThe next thing I advise clients to take a look at is posing. I don’t mean picking out your poses. We know how to pose you in order to flaunt your strengths, and diminish your (for lack of a better term) weaknesses. But something that will help beforehand is to take a look at this site. It goes over all of the common poses that most photographers use, and it explains why we ask you to do what we do. I know, from personal experience, that sometimes when a photographer is firing off posing instructions, you can feel like some kind of a contortionist. But trust me, we’re not trying to get you to play Twister, there’s a reason for us asking. If you know ahead of time that we’re going to ask you do something that sounds odd, you’ll be expecting it, and feel a little more comfortable doing it in front of the camera, and in turn, you’ll look relaxed in your final images.

That’s really it. The rest is in our hands to show you just how amazing you look.

Want to get to know us a little better?  Facebookers can find us here, Tweeters can find us here, or if you’re a pinner, our boards are here. If you’re looking for more of ME, don’t be shy. you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. I can’t wait to connect with you!