Sunday Snapshot - A Little "Spring" In Her Step

April 29, 2012

Boots and Buttercups BLOG
There is something about this photo that just makes me want to smile!
I am not sure if it is the the bright vivid colors, the rockin' rain boots, the way Reagan is holding the buttercups in one hand and making a fist with the other, or if it is the element of mystery because we cannot see her face!

No worries though.... this is just one of many photos to come and you will see a lot of that sweet little face. Actually you will be in for a double-dose of cuteness!

I took the girls out mid-day, which I don't normally like to do because that is when the sun is super high in the sky and produces a lot of harsh shadows, but this park has a lot of trees that help diffuse the sun light.

Shot with a Canon 5d Markiii
70-200 f2.8 Lens with IS
Focal Length: 200mm
Aperture: f3.2
Shutter Speed: 1/250
ISO: 100

This photo was shot as is, no crop tool used here.

Processed with Florabella Classic Workflow Set.
Classic Color and Warm Color Pop.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask, I am happy to answer:)

Enjoy your Sunday!

Ni Hao Yall

Make sure you stop by and say hello to my friend Stefanie and check out some more Sunday Snapshots.

Super Heroes to the Rescue

April 27, 2012

two finger high heeled bandit BLOG
The "Two Finger Sucking High Heeled Bandit".....

Super Sarah Collage
along with "Super Serious Sarah"

Super Hero R From Behind BLOG
had a secret meeting this Sunday at 0800

Super Heroes in COLOR COLLAGE
where they made grand plans to use their secret powers and gain control of the house taking down one parent at a time:)

Super Sarah Color BLOG
It has been one of those weeks and I really could have used a Super Hero Cape and some Super Hero Powers to help get me through. I had a project for work that was thrown at me at the last minute that bumped the stress level to all time high.

I have also been spending my evenings glued to the computer in my private photography forum helping out a group of phenomenal ladies that signed up for the most recent photography class, "Push Past Your Comfort Zone". The class started two weeks ago and everyone is having fun and doing a fantastic job with the lessons they are receiving each week. These ladies are definitely keeping me on my toes! They are producing some amazing images and asking so many terrific questions. They have already made their teacher proud and we still have 6 weeks to go.

If you were wondering where I have been and why you have not seen hide nor hair of me around facebook or blogs, this is why! I have not had much spare time online......and honestly I have not had much time to take any new pictures myself(other than the snapshots you see above), but that's okay. I am having a blast teaching others.
Capes Side by Side BLOG
These super hero capes came in a kit and were a rainy day project for the girls. I purchased them last year for $5 each and we had a great time putting them together and designing the masks. The girls were not very patient waiting for them to dry, but once they got the green light to put them on, they sure did have a great time letting their imaginations run wild!! If you are looking for a fun project with the kids, check out"Sew Plain Jane" You can click HERE to visit her website.

The beautiful ruffle rompers can be found at my friend Kimberley's awesome online store, Sophia Jane Boutique. To visit Kimberley and browse her collection of clothes and accessories fit for a princess, click HERE.

TGIF.... Have a wonderful weekend!
the long road

Good Morning Sunshine

April 23, 2012

Good Morning Mommy Collage

wipe the sleep out of my eyes BLOG

Get me out Mom BLOG

Reagan Bed Head BLOG

Even completely disheveled after a long night of sleep, she is as cute as a button!
I have never seen someone wake up so happy and ready to start their day. There is nothing better than walking around the corner to see that adorable little face staring up at me from the crib. The moment she sees me she says, "Good Morning Mommy". Her hair is always super wild, and she is usually half dressed or stripped down completely. That is one of her new tricks which doesn't always end so well:)

I am always taking photos of the girls when we are out and about, but it is the simple moments like these that mean the most. They totally melt my heart and I want to cherish them forever and ever.

3D Sidewalk Chalk

April 18, 2012

Feet and Sidewalk Chalk BLOG
The Easter Bunny did not fill the girls' baskets with as much chocolate and candy this year, but he did include a few fun things for them to play with outside. They got those new colored bubbles, which were a hit with them, but not really for me who had to clean up the pink and purple all over the deck and on the outside of the house. I think we will be sticking with the traditional bubbles from here on out. After they made their way through the bubbles, they decided to check out the new 3D Sidewalk Chalk.

Sarah and Reagan Coloring with 3D Sidewalk Chalk with Rudy in background BLOG
It kept them busy for a very long time.

Reagan's 3D Glasses on the ground BLOG
They both love to draw and color and we did A LOT of that this winter indoors, so they were more than thrilled to take their art skills outside to the driveway last Saturday.

Funny 3 D Glasses Collage
We had some issues with the 3 D Glasses. Reagan could not get them to stay on her face, but she found that wearing them upside down was the best solution:)

3D Sidewalk chalk Glasses BLOG
And Sarah, she preferred to not wear them at all! She is a very serious artist and the glasses seemed to get in her way.

Draw a straight line Reags BLOG
For a while they were each making their own sidewalk art....

Dandelions and Chalk Collage
but in the end, their creativity came together and they created what Sarah called their "Flower Power Hopscotch Court". She asked me if she could pick the "flowers" growing in the yard and use them for their game. I told her she could pick every last one:)

It was a gorgeous day to be outside and I see many more days like that in our future.
The outdoor fun is just beginning and we are already counting the days until school is out and the careless days of summer are upon us.

And the Winner Is........

April 13, 2012

cardinal giftcard
It has been an exciting week around here with lots of activity and people stopping by in hopes of winning this very generous gift card!! I enjoyed reading all of the comments and hearing what you would do if you had the opportunity to splurge on camera equipment.
It is always fun to dream, isn't it?

I could barely stand it last night. I was an anxious as some of you, so I made my through all the comments and got rid of any duplicates so that things remained fair and everyone had only one entry. Each comment was assigned a number in the order in which it came in. I then went to and punched in the number of entries and it populated the winning number......

1 to 343 Winner BLOG
Sandy is the WInner BLOG
You are lucky number 46!
Looks like you are going to be able to upgrade that camera.
We cannot wait to see what you choose to replace your Rebel!

I wish everyone could have been a winner, but don't fret, something tells me that this is not the last we will hear from Cardinal Camera. I am thinking there could be future opportunities down the road:)

Please remember if you are in the market for Camera equipment of any kind, stop by a Cardinal Camera location or their online store. When you checkout use the discount code "HALFSKY" and 5% of the proceeds will go back to the foundation that is near and dear to my heart, Half The Sky! They make a huge difference in the lives of so many children waiting in China...... I stare at a pretty little face every single day that is a constant reminder of all the good that comes of their programs.

Another huge THANK YOU to Kurt at Cardinal for this incredibly generous giveaway and to my lovely friend Karin for making it all happen!!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone and Congratulations to our winner, Sandy!!!

Just For Fun

Blueberries in the Stainless Steel Sink with water splashing down BLOG
Reagan has been on a huge blueberry kick. She absolutely loves them and will eat an entire pint in one sitting if we let her. We just cannot keep enough on hand. If it's not blueberries, then it is red raspberries. She is a berry lovin' girl:) Whatever it happens to be though, I am a little over the top when it comes to washing it. I worry about things that may have been sprayed on the berries while they were growing, so they hit the sink for a very good "shower" before they ever make in into Reagan's bowl.

Washing the blueberries in the sink BLOG
So the other morning I was getting Reagan her breakfast and the two containers of blueberries were in the bottom of the sink. The water cascading down on them caught my eye. I ran to my office and grabbed my camera.

Blueberries MACRO Water Drops BLOG
I love to photograph food and flowers, but when you add some water, it just adds an extra element of fun!

Oats and Berries BLOG
I usually take my food shots on the kitchen table where I get a lot of natural light. These shots were taken in or around my sink where it is not nearly as light. In fact, there was very little light at all.

Remember my new friend Kurt from Cardinal Camera?
Well, he recently worked some serious magic and got me into the new Canon 5d Mark iii and this week I had a little fun testing the limits of this camera! I am still not quite ready to give a full report and I have only scratched the surface of what this camera can do, but I will say this...... The 61 point focus system is nothing like I have ever experienced. It is as FAST as can be, and if that is not enough to make you swoon...... the ISO capabilities on this camera are through the roof. It was definitely made to work flawlessly in low light conditions.

For those that are photography buffs, would you believe that the first two photos in today's post were taken at ISO 8000 and the third and fourth photos were taken at ISO 5000? YES, they were....and I could hardly believe my eyes!!
Even with the high ISO settings, the grain and noise is minimal or nonexistent!

I know a few of you mentioned wanting to upgrade to this camera should you be the lucky recipient of the $1000 Cardinal Camera Gift Card giveaway. Trust me when I say, you will not be disappointed and you will never want to put this camera down. It is my new baby and it will go everywhere I go:)

Speaking of Cardinal Camera and the ever so generous Kurt, Stay tuned...... the Gift Card winner will be announced bright and early tomorrow morning!!

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend....TGIF!

the long road

Highlights From Easter Sunday

April 11, 2012

First Photo Easter Morning BLOG
The girls did not wake up super early, but when they did wake up, they were super excited!
As they walked down the steps, they saw that the Easter Bunny left a trail of jelly beans for them.

Reagan Skipping Along the Trail of Jellybeans BLOG
The trail started at at the bottom of the staircase and took them right to their baskets. Sarah started running and Reagan.....well, she took her time and stopped to savor a few jelly beans along the way:)

Sarah with Candy In her Mouth BLOG
Once they reached their baskets, it was only a matter of minutes before they began taste testing their favorites. I am not sure Reagan remembered too much from last Easter, so she was watching and taking cues from Sarah. "Are they really going to let us eat this right now, we have not even had our breakfast?"

Hula Hooping Collage
From the kitchen table, there was one more trail that led them to our bar room where they found two hula hoops, 3D sidewalk chalk, and pavement paint! There were some loud screams followed by a lot of hip shaking..all while eating candy. Look closely, Reags has something green in her mouth.

HulaHoop Around the Ankles BLOG
The hula hoops were a big hit with both of the girls, even though they landed on the floor more often than they stayed around their waists!

Easter Egg Hunting Collage
Even though the sun was shining, it was not that warm.....and the wind, oh the wind!
We tried to hold off on the Easter Egg Hunt hoping it would warm up, but it didn't, so the girls just embraced the wind(hence the crazy hair in almost every photo) and combed the backyard in search of colorful eggs.

Let's Find Some Eggs BLOG
Reagan hit the ground running and was not going to let a little wind stop her, it was GAME ON!!

A little wind is not going to stop me BLOG
Sarah had her heart set on finding that "Golden Egg".....

Right there Reags Look for the Egg BLOG
but still helped to point her sister in the right direction of some of the eggs that were not in plain sight!

Counting their Eggs COLLAGE
It might have been the quickest egg hunt in history(because we were so cold)but that is okay, the girls could not wait to bring their baskets inside and count their money!

Nick with the girls on Easter BLOG
So many precious moments to remember from our Easter holiday, but I still think this my favorite!
Nick, at 14 years old, has outgrown a lot(like Easter Egg Hunts), but he will never be too old to stop and show his little sisters how much he loves them and if you can't tell, they both adore their big brother!

A Little Easter Preview

April 9, 2012

The girls in their Easter Dresses BLOG
I am just beginning to sort through all the photos I took yesterday and thought I would quickly share two of my favorites! By the time we went outside to start the egg hunt, the sugar had definitely kicked in.....

Nick with the girls on Easter BLOG
add some strong gusts of wind and it turned into a complete giggle fest!

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter Holiday, we had a great one and I look forward to sharing more of our day very soon. Maybe by tomorrow:)

~Happy Monday~

Do You Need to Add to Your Bag?

April 6, 2012

Tomorrow will be exactly four years that I started "The Long Road to China", and while I thought that the cookbook was going to be my celebratory giveaway, I was wrong!! Just an hour after I posted that my four year "blogiversary" was around the corner, I received an email with an offer that was....well, almost too good to be true!!

You see, this blog thing has not always been smooth sailing, I hit a few bumps in the road, so to speak, and learned some valuable life lessons, but during this four year journey, I have also been extremely blessed to meet so many wonderful and truly genuine people. Some of you I have never met in person, but feel as if I know from our bantering on line, others I have had the pleasure of meeting in person and have become a part of my life, and then there are those that are as close as family.... like Marla, who got on a plane and left her family for two weeks to travel halfway around the world with me to meet my daughter for the very first time and Dita, who was there to meet us in the airport the day we arrived back home.

My long winded point to all of this, I am amazed how this blog has weaved people into my life that I never would have met otherwise. I have crossed paths with so many talented and kindhearted women, and today's big surprise is a true testament to that.

When I announced my first photography weekend workshop in Bethlehem a few years back, I received an email from Karin, who was a Mom just like me, but was also just finding her passion for photography. She had seen a photo of mine that was featured on I Heart Faces and that is how she landed on my blog. She felt an instant connection because she grew up in the area in which I live! She wrote to me often about how excited she was to improve her photography skills and was anxiously awaiting the weekend workshop. Two years later, she has a very successful photography business of her own and I could not be more proud of how far she has come and all that she has accomplished in such a short period of time. Karin is about as sweet as they come and has a heart of gold. She is always checking in here to see what is going on in my life and we will email back and forth about our families and of course, photography. Since the day I met her, she has told me about one of her lifelong friends that owns a chain of Camera stores and not only does he guarantee his prices, he provides excellent customer service. So much so that she travels from Virginia all the way to Pennsylvania to shop or to have her camera cleaned and calibrated. The last time she came up to visit his store, she even popped in to visit me:)

Through Karin, I have been introduced to Kurt, who is the owner of Cardinal Camera, a 3rd generation family owned camera store(now stores)celebrating 75 years in business!!!
That says a lot, doesn't it?

Cardinal 75 years
Kurt has stores popping up everywhere and recently, opened one at my favorite mall just minutes from our house. IT IS GORGEOUS and I could spend HOURS in there walking around, testing equipment, and picking the brains of his very knowledgeable staff.

He carries everything you could imagine and then some, and in the rare circumstance he doesn't have something you want in one of his stores, he will order it for you in an instant!!

He worked some serious magic for me(more on that later)and if you are looking to add to your camera bag, keep reading....we are getting to the good stuff, the details of the email that came through my inbox last Friday!!

I realize that most of you are not local and don't have the ability to stop by his beautiful locations and that is OKAY, he has a website where you can order online and he will ship to your door!!!

Not only that, if you enter the discount code "HALFSKY" when you check out, he will give 5% of your sale back to Half the Sky....... Isn't that fantastic? He will be leaving this code in place throughout the 2012 calendar year, so if you are doing any shopping, please remember to punch in the code when you check out or if you happen to be in one of his stores, tell the person who is waiting on you.

But hold on, it gets better.......

Not only is he going to help me, help the Children in China through Half the Sky, he is going to give one of my lucky readers a GRAND PRIZE LIKE NO OTHER!!!!!!

Karin, Kurt, and I brainstormed a little bit this week and the first thought was to offer a beautiful new Sigma 85mm f1.4 lens that would work for both Canon and Nikon users. This is one of my favorites lenses for....

The kindest word quote
getting in close to capture the details....

Sarah in front of the bus BLOG
or taking tack sharp portraits....

with creamy dreamy bokeh!

Stirring the Spicy Bean and Veggie Soup BLOG
But then I started to think about the beloved 100mm Marco f2.8 with IS that I love to get creative with for things such as food...

Orange Mums BLOG

Sarah Macro Close Up BLOG
and even a portrait once in a while!!!

We quickly realized it was going to be a touch choice, and ultimately we did not want to leave anyone out on this giveaway.

So this is what Kurt decided to do being the SUPER GENEROUS GUY THAT HE IS.

Whether you shoot with Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc..... You could be an avid photographer looking for a new lens or maybe you have always wanted to get into photography and just don't have the funds to get that dslr camera.......NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!!!!

ONE LUCKY READER IS GOING TO RECEIVE A $1000 Gift Card from Cardinal Camera(you read that correctly, $1000)to purchase whatever it is you need or you are lacking in your camera bag from.

cardinal giftcard

Are you completely blown away?
I was in complete shock myself:)

Here is what you need to do to enter....

1. Leave me a comment and just for fun, tell me what you would want to purchase should this $1000 Gift Card happen to land in your hands. Make sure I have a way to contact you should you win, IE: an email address.

2. Go to Cardinal Camera's Facebook Page HERE and "like" them so you will begin to get updates and alerts when he is offering specials or sales. Who doesn't love a great sale?

You can enter through Thursday, April 12th at 11:00pm Eastern Time. The VERY LUCKY winner will be announced next weekend!!

Okay, so leave a comment, go like their page, and don't forget if you need to purchase something camera related anytime this year, go to Cardinal Camera, use the discount code "HALFSKY" when you check out so we can continue to give back to the children in China.

Best of luck and thanks for continuing to come back each day. You all make my life extra special!!
To Karin and Kurt, I cannot thank you enough for your friendship and your extremely generous offer. I am thrilled and honored to host such a fantastic giveaway....... and I am looking forward to working with you in the months to come and again when we roll out "Fill Their Stockings 2012"...wink wink;)

Have a Happy Easter Everyone!!

UPDATE- For some reason, as soon as I hit 200 comments, blogger will no longer show them. It is counting them and I am getting them through email, but they will not show up here on the blog. Luckily, I have been saving every single comment via email so I can put them in a spreadsheet for the drawing. Continue to leave comments even though they are not showing here..... I AM RECEIVING THEM. Hopefully I can get this issue resolved tomorrow. Thank you~

Favorite Photo Friday - "The Covered Bridge"

April 5, 2012

Last weekend we had a lot of rain and cold temps and we found ourselves indoors for the better part of it, but we did have some relief on Sunday, so I took the girls out so they could run around and get some fresh air. I am thinking everyone else had the same idea, because when we pulled into the Parkway, we noticed lots of cars in the lot.

A Wave Hello To the Biker Passing By FINAL BLOG
Many people come here to walk, run, or ride their bikes along the path. Reagan saw an adorable little boy approaching on his tricycle and got very excited and started waving to both he and his Daddy!

catch me if you can Reagan Covered Bridge BLOG
There is a very old but beautiful, covered bridge in this Parkway. At one time you could drive though it, but now they only allow you to cross by foot or bicycle.

Colored Silohette BLOG
Sarah thought it was the coolest thing because it was so dark inside....

Window Light in the Bridge BLOG
And the only light came in through the windows.

Sarah giggling in the bridge BLOG
She had a grand time running in and out of the darkness!

Sarah under the covered bridge surrounded by sunflare BLOG 2
While Sarah totally loved the bridge, little Reags was not a fan. I am not sure if it was the darkness, the small cracks of light coming up from the old wood floor, or the fact that she knew there was water beneath us. Either way, she did not feel safe unless she was in my arms. For the most part, Reags stayed out of the bridge altogether......

Running down the jogging path BLOG
and much preferred to run where her feet were firmly planted on the ground!!

Backwards on the bench in front of the covered bridge BLOG
It happened to be the first weekend of the fishing season, so there were a lot of men with "lines" in the water. The girls sat for a few minutes hoping to see someone catch something.

Sisters on the bench with the bridge in the background BLOG
But that didn't last long. They sat still for all of 2 minutes....

Pulling My Sister Along the Path at the Parkway BLOG
And then they were up running around again. These two are always on the move!

Well, I realize that today is not really Friday, I decided to post a little early, because I have a SUPER SPECTACULAR GIVEAWAY that is going to be presented tomorrow morning. I know it is a holiday weekend and everyone is busy, but you will DEFINITELY want to check back to see what it is all about. I am busting to tell you all about it, but you will have to wait just one more day for all of the details.

Last Friday, I received an email an hour after I posted about my four year anniversary cookbook giveaway....... and while I just LOVE Giada and her new cookbook, the GIVEAWAY that was offered definitely takes the cake! I have never had a prize like this. Some might even call it a GRAND PRIZE, so make sure you come back tomorrow..... I promise, you will not be disappointed!!!

If you know me well, you know I cannot keep a secret, so I will give you one small hint.
It is heavy and it is something that I carry around quite often;)

Okay.... that is all you are getting from me until tomorrow morning!!!

Feel free to start linking your Favorite Photo Friday posts.