DIY Floral Headband

25of365_2015In preparation for an upcoming photo shoot, I’m making pretty floral hair pieces for the girls’ hair.  Today was my first attempt at this, and it went really well and wasn’t that difficult!  I perused Pinterest and YouTube for tutorials on how to do this and watched several to get ideas.  Here’s a step-by-step of what I did:

You will need (all of these were bought at JoAnns with a coupon, but any local craft store should carry these):

  • Silk flowers (various sizes and colors to your liking)
  • Paper covered 18 gauge floral wire
  • Floral tape
  • Wire cutters
  • Multi-purpose scissors

*Note: I have 26 gauge (thin) floral wire pictured here as well, but I ended up not using it.

DSC_0858Step 1: Using the wire cutters or scissors, cut the flowers from the long stems, leaving 1-3 inches of stem.  Remove the leaves – generally, I just pulled these off of the stems unless it was a very leafy arrangement.  I put the flowers and leaves in separate piles.

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Step 2: The pieces of wire I bought weren’t quite long enough to go all the way around my head, so I twisted two together. After that, I bent it into a circle and twisted a loop on one end and made a hook on the other.  I left the hook rather long to account for different sizes of heads.


Step 3: As you can tell, the twisted wires didn’t hold together very well and had somewhat pointy ends, so I wrapped them with a bit of floral tape.  Floral tape is really odd in that it doesn’t feel sticky at all until you start to stretch it.  It will then stick to itself rather nicely.


Step 4: Lay out your flowers how you think you’d like them to go around your headband.  It took me a few tries to decide how I wanted it to look.  For aesthetic purposes, I recommend using an odd number of flowers.  Also, you can choose to have flowers go all the way around or just part of the way.  I just did part of the way.


Step 5: Starting with the middle flower, put the stem on top of the headband and pointing towards the back.  Using floral tape, and starting at the base of the flower, wrap the tape around the stem and headband to connect the two.  Continue thusly until you have placed all of the larger flowers.  You may need to point the stems towards the middle to get the flowers to lay properly.

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Step 6: Place leaves and smaller flowers between the larger flowers to your liking, and use floral tape to attach.  I didn’t find this necessary, but you may need to attach thinner floral wire to some of the leaves to give you a base to connect them to the headband.  Note that as you place more flowers/leaves, it will get a little harder to maneuver the floral tape…it’s fine but something to be aware of.

Voila!  A pretty head piece for photo shoots!


Tulle Skirt for a Photo Shoot!

I’m getting ready to photograph a few of my gorgeous friends in modern glamour style.  In preparation, I’m making tulle skirts, similar to the one I wore during my photo shoot with Sue Bryce.  Today, I made the first of the three that I’ll be making before our shoot (I already have a red one that I made a little over a year ago to use as well).  To make this skirt, I followed the method that Sue used on her blog (here).  Sue’s blog has a great tutorial, but I thought I’d still show you step by step what I did:

You will need:


  • 30-40 yds of tulle (I used two different colors, just as Sue did to give it some more texture in photos. My tulle came in 40 yd bolts from Paper Mart.  I used beige and ivory for this skirt and had plenty of each left over.)
  • <1 in. wide satin ribbon (I used 7/8″ double-faced ivory ribbon, again from Paper Mart)
  • Thread in a matching color
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Tape Measure

My dress form is one that you can convert to multiple sizes.  Sue mentioned on her blog that she likes to tie the tulle skirts on the hips of her clients – that way the waist is still visible.  I wanted to make sure that this skirt would fit anyone, so I adjusted the hips on the dress form to be the largest it would go (46″ in this case).  Then, I cut a piece of ribbon so long that it would wrap around the hips and then have both ends touching the floor.  This is SUPER long, but it’s great to have that extra length to make the skirt more convertible for different sizes.

I placed the ribbon around the hips of the dress form LOOSELY and pinned it in the back only.  If you don’t pin loosely, then you won’t be able to get the tulle through the ribbon.  For the tulle, I pulled off a length that went from the hips of the dress form to the floor and then doubled it.  I had the dress form set a couple of inches taller than me (to account for tall clients).  The lengths of tulle I cut measured ~90″ total, and I left it doubled as it came off the bolt.  Then, place it behind the ribbon on the dress form, and adjust until both layers are around the same length.  I started in the middle on the front.



As you can see in the photos above, I alternated tulle colors – every other one was beige then ivory, etc.  I just pulled/measured the length of tulle, gathered it, cut, and placed it as I went.


You may need to adjust the pins holding the ribbon a few times as you go.  It will get tighter as more and more tulle is looped through it.


I ended up using 14 total pieces of tulle, but I think I could have gotten away with 12.  It makes the skirt very full, and I adjusted the sections so that they overlapped each other slightly.  Then, you thread a needed and start stitching the layers of tulle and ribbon together all the way around the waist.


That’s it!  I am showing it here with a simple ivory tank top that’s one size fits all and a cute floral accoutrement that I purchased from Trim Expo Online.  I’m thinking about modifying this tank next weekend by adding tulle to it similar to what Sue did with the corset in her blog post.  That way, if I have two girls where this skirt, one could wear that top, and another could wear a simple fitted tank, and it would look like two different outfits.

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A Photo Shoot with Sue Bryce -The Whole Story

If you are friends with me on Facebook, you know that I was given this amazing opportunity to be photographed by world-renowned portrait photographer, Sue Bryce. Many have asked how this came about and how I even know about her.  So, I suppose I should start there:

I found out about Sue via a Pinterest post that had a link to one of her blog posts on how to pose curvy women. I instantly repinned it, thinking I needed to learn a thing or two about posing, so I wouldn’t look 10-ft wide in photographs. I then started reading Sue’s blog and learned that she taught classes on CreativeLive. If you don’t know about CreativeLive, it’s a fantastic site where they get experts in many creative realms to teach 1-3 day classes that are broadcast live on the web. You can watch for free if it’s live or pay to have anytime access to the classes. The classes themselves are incredibly well-done, and if you are a life-long learner like me, it is such a cool way to be educated.

As someone who does photography on the side, I was completely intrigued to learn how to be better at it…and who better to learn from than a famous photographer who has mastered it?  I bought and watched all of Sue’s classes and got so much out them….so much that about a year ago, I wrote her an e-mail to tell her just that, that she was quite inspirational and that it would be amazing to be photographed by her. I never thought it would actually happen and seriously doubted that I’d even get a response. But, her assistant did write back, thanking me for the email but told me that they weren’t taking any new clients (expected). Fast forward one year later, and I received another e-mail asking if I was still interested. I read it at least 10 times to make sure it was real….I just couldn’t believe it!!

People have asked me if this was for a special ad campaign or something for her business, and the answer is no. I was on a wait list (little to my knowledge), and I paid for this experience. On one hand, the decision to do the shoot was easy…I would have this amazing opportunity with full hair and makeup (a girly girl’s dream!) and get to meet one of my idols to boot. On the other hand, I struggled with wondering if I was really worthy of it.

The truth is, I haven’t been photographed professionally since my wedding 9 years ago, on a day when I probably felt the most beautiful I ever have in my life. Most of the time, these days, I’m on the other side of the camera. And even if I’m not, I usually only allow someone to take a head/shoulders shot of me, or I crop it to that later. Why? Because, I, like most women don’t like the way I look. I want thinner legs and arms and a smaller nose. Most recently, I’ve put on weight due to a thyroid issue and have struggled for the last 5 years to lose the extra pounds.

The funny thing is that even when I had smaller legs and arms (the nose I can’t do much about and don’t dislike it enough to try) and weighed much less than I do now, I still thought I needed smaller arms and legs. Looking back now, what in the world was wrong with me? Now that I’m a bit wiser, I realize that it’s not the weight or even the thyroid issue; it’s self-hate….something that I have been dealing with for as long as I can remember.  My whole life, I’ve been trying to prove to others and myself that I’m worthwhile.  And, I know I’m not alone in this.  That being said, I look at people who are completely comfortable in their own skin and just marvel at them. I can’t even comprehend how they do it, and yet, I long to be like them.

In Sue’s CreativeLive classes and on her blog, she talks a lot about self-hate because she herself has dealt with it. She wasn’t photographed by anyone for an 8-year span because she hated herself so much. But, now, she has started a whole movement, and that is that people need to exist in photographs. YOU need to exist in photographs…for the people who love you and for yourself. Some of my most cherished possessions are these gorgeous photographs of my grandmother…and, no, they weren’t just head/shoulders pictures.  They were, however, professional photographs, and they were done in a time when being photographed was an event.  I think because photography is so accessible now (everyone has a camera phone, etc.), as a society, we have lost a bit of value in being posed and photographed by a professional.  Think about the times in your life when you are professionally photographed:  your high school senior pictures, your wedding, perhaps with your children.  But, how many of us are photographed by ourselves after our wedding day or our senior pictures?  And if you never get married or don’t have children, does that mean that you shouldn’t be?  The answer is a resounding NO!  Everyone deserves to have beautiful photographs of themselves throughout their lives.

The whole concept of existing in photographs just strikes such a big chord with me. How many times do people lose someone tragically, and they don’t have many photos to choose from for their funeral, let alone any decent photographs? Sue talks about how she wants to give women the most incredible photograph they’ve ever seen of themselves and show them their true beauty…like looking through the eyes of others and seeing how they see you. And she goes on to say that if she did that every year of your life, through all of the weight gains and losses and other changes, you wouldn’t have the chance to think you are anything less than beautiful.  Who wouldn’t want to be photographed by someone with that mission?

I think what finally swayed me to move forward with the photos is that William said to me, “Well, I would like to have some photographs of you.” That simple statement made something click for me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed to do this. I needed to do this as a first step towards driving away the self-hate. I needed to be vulnerable and allow someone to help me feel beautiful. And what better time to do it than right now? If I waited until I lost weight, I would never do it.

Was it amazing? Yes. Was it everything I had hoped? Yes and more. Was it hard? YES!  Posing, if done properly, isn’t easy! I felt so pampered, but if I’m being totally honest, most of the time, I was overwhelmed.  A lot of very focused attention was on me for several hours, and oh my gosh, what if I got all fan-girl and said something stupid in front of my idol?  I felt like I wanted to vomit, which ended quickly once the shoot was over. I think it was a big combo of nerves and excitement and all of the emotions I had built up. After we were done with the shoot, we had a long talk. I explained to Sue how I felt about myself and my struggles, and she told me some of her story. She gave me some things to think about and some new perspectives as well as some books to read. One of the most striking things that she said was, “just imagine for a moment that you have gone through all of this struggle with self-hate just so you can help other women learn how to love themselves…maybe through photographing them in this same type of incredible experience. If you had never gone through it yourself, how would you know how to connect with them?”  There’s a concept and totally new way of looking at things! If I think about the experience now, I just tear up. There are a lot of things I need to work on within myself, but I think this was a perfect beginning to my journey towards self-love.

It was about the photographs and the hair and makeup, but even more, it was about me learning some pretty big life lessons. It was about starting on the pathway towards loving who I am and my body, no matter how “fat” I think I am or even the number on the scale or the sizes on the tags in my dresses. For me, this is a work in progress, and I still have a long way to go. But, I can’t thank Sue Bryce enough for helping me on my journey through this amazing experience. It was life-changing and worth every cent (and probably more) that I paid to do it.

And now for what you really want to see, the amazing photographs!  This is just a small sampling of my favorites, but in the interest of not making this blog post so large, it won’t download for anyone, I had to limit it.  It was hard to choose because they were all so incredible!  I look at these, and I have a hard time taking the photographer hat off, where I’m just appreciating a beautiful photograph, and realizing, wait, that’s ME in that picture!  Wow, do I really look like that?




New Life For An Old Chair

And the work outside continued this weekend.  Accomplishments:

  1. Power washing the driveway, sidewalk, porch, and patio – this was no small task.  We had some moss/algae-looking stuff on the back patio that made it kinda spotty green in color.  We spent at least an hour on that alone, and I’m happy to report that all of the concrete is a stunning white again – amazing!
  2. Mowing – this was all William, and it was also no small task.  Our grass has come back gangbusters this year, which means more mowing.
  3. Staking one of our Rose of Sharon bushes that started leaning over.  We had to do this with one of the others last year, and it straightened right out.  Here’s hoping it works well for this one too.
  4. And, as the title of this blog post would indicate, we finally dealt with the wicker chair on our front porch.  That poor chair was gifted to us almost 10 years ago, and it’s been outside in the elements for that entire time.  It had truly become a bit of an eyesore – old and weathered looking, and don’t even get me started on the not-so-off-white-anymore cushion that adorned it.  We bought paint to spray paint it over a year ago, and finally, this weekend, I made use of it.  It’s now a shiny almond chair with a happy new green cushion.

DSC_0056Here it is, all shiny and new!  (sadly, I forgot to take a before pic)

And, in other happenings in the yard, some of our irises have started to bloom this week.  There are buds on the others, and we expect them to bloom within the week as well.

DSC_0051We love how bright and happy the irises make the side of our house.  Can’t wait till the rest of them bloom!

The weekend wasn’t all work.  We did go to my mom’s for a Memorial Day party yesterday.  There was amazing food, and best of all, great company.  It was definitely worth the drive over and just having some nice time to relax outside.  My legs are a bit sunburned today because of it, but oh well…they needed a bit of color anyway 🙂

Needless to say, I’m sorry to see this long weekend end.  We had such wonderful weather and got so much done.  Next weekend, we have a bit more work to do outside, but the focus will all be inside of the house (and dealing with what we affectionately call Mt. Saint Clothing 🙂 ).

Spring Flowers!

I had hoped to post this some time last week, but alas, it was raining until pretty much today.  For the past two weekends, William and I have spent a ton of time in our yard, working in our flower beds and just generally getting everything cleaned up.  For the past couple of years, work travel has made it difficult to pay too much attention to our yard, but this year, we’ve doubled down on our efforts, and it really looks nice now.

Our activities involved: weeding, laying down weed mat, laying down 34 bags of mulch, mowing (of course!), weed-whacking, edging, trimming bushes (mercilessly, I might add), trimming around all of the iris, and planting new plants both in the ground and in pots.  It’s been work, but it’s just so nice to see the completed project, it was worth it 🙂

On top of all of that, this year, we bought our plants from a local greenhouse – Spring Creek Farm Market in Columbia City for those who are local.  If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ll remember that in one of the many bitterly cold days during the winter, we had a flat tire on our way home from work.  It just so happened that it popped right before Spring Creek Farm Market, which was very lucky for us.  We pulled in their drive – a nice flat place to change a tire on an otherwise very busy road with no shoulder because of all the snow.  While we were starting to change the tire, a nice man named Jim came out of the building and offered to help.  He made the whole process go so much faster, and we were so blessed that he was there.  As it turns out, he owns the Market, so we were just waiting for spring to pay back the favor by buying things from him.  The good news is that the plants were all super healthy and beautiful, and we were so excited to plant them in our yard this year.

And now for the part I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for – the pictures of our labor 🙂  Warning: there are a ton this time!

DSC_0026-EditView from the road of our front yard – those beds hadn’t been mulched in 2 years

DSC_0031Flower bed next to the driveway.  We added the orange coleus (from Spring Creek Farm Market) and the copper-colored pot at the top of the bed this year

DSC_0035Flower bed leading to our front door, under the dining room window.  Flowers in the pots were all from Spring Creek Farm Market

DSC_0033Flower bed under our bedroom window – I trimmed the boxwoods in this pic like a mad-woman

DSC_0040Our new copper pot with these cute little daisy-looking flowers with purple centers and underside (from Spring Creek, of course)

DSC_0007We added a birdbath to the bed under our dining room window.  As we learned from William’s Aunt Jean, planting flowers in the birdbath is an excellent way to add color and height to your flower beds – we love this idea!  The petunias are from Spring Creek.

DSC_0004Pansies in the pots on our front porch.  We can’t take credit for these – William’s parents planted them while they were here, and they are just growing gangbusters.  We love how happy and bright the pansies are.  And, it just so happens that they are my sorority’s flower too 🙂

DSC_0012Small pot of succulents on the plant stand on our front porch.  We got these at Meijer, and I just think they are so cute!

DSC_0017Geraniums and herbs on the back patio.  William’s dad and my mom and grandmother always loved geraniums.  We figured it would be nice to honor all of them with these beautiful salmon geraniums from Spring Creek 🙂

DSC_0046And finally, a house plant  that we bought at Spring Creek.  This is a jade plant.  Whenever we visit William’s Uncle Fred in Alaska, we are always so jealous of his jade plants and century plant.  As our homage to Fred, we had to get one of these 🙂

Bonjour! (Trip to Quebec)

This week, I spent most of the week in Quebec for work. It was a very busy trip, where if was going from 5:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. each day. Despite all of that, the trip was very successful, and the team in Quebec is top-notch.

Most of the reason why the days were so long is that we had early morning breakfast meetings and dinner meetings that went late, followed by driving 2 hours to our next city for the next day’s breakfast meeting. Quebec City was kind of “home base,” and we typically went back there for a little bit each day. All that being said, I mapped out our route, and we drove over 740 miles in three days…nuts!

Quebec City–>Rivière du Loup–>Quebec City–>Trois Rivière–>Thetford Mines–>Quebec City–>Chicoutimi–>Quebec City

We did have a brief moment one afternoon to look at the old city in Quebec. It has a very European feel with narrow streets and little boutiques. I loved it!


Also, the drive to Chicoutimi involved driving through a national park. It was beautiful and reminded me of Alaska. Pictures don’t do it justice, but…


All-in-all a great trip, and I was so glad to have the opportunity!

Yarn School!!

Another week, another late blog post. But, it’s for good reason! I was at Yarn School for a long weekend and just got home yesterday.

What is Yarn School you say? You can read all about it here, but basically, it’s a long weekend of learning how to spin yarn, dye wool, and prep wool for spinning. It’s very relaxing, and my friend, Erin and I go each spring. It’s set in an old rural high school in Harveyville, KS, where all the classrooms have been turned into bedrooms. It’s such an awesome retreat away from it all. Notwithstanding, Nikol also makes amazing food for everyone too.

Erin and I make a road trip of it and bring our spinning wheels as well as many comforts of home. It is blissfully quiet there, and it’s so nice to not have to worry about anything…just relaxing and working on the crafts we love.

Shockingly, I didn’t take many pictures this year (I know!), but you can see pics from years past:
Yarn School – Spring 2013
Yarn School – Spring 2012
Yarn School – Spring 2011
Yarn School – Fall 2010
Yarn School – Spring 2010

Here are a couple from this year:

Dying wool; color inspiration was my Orla iPhone case. Photo credit: Adrian Bizilia

Everyone’s dyed wool hanging from the balcony

The wool I dyed

While we were there, we also decided to do some maternity pics of Erin. The school and surrounding property has some gorgeous light at certain times of the day. These were my favorite two shots:

Just outside the elementary school building

Shockingly, this was taken in the men’s bathroom in the school. Yarn School is primarily (if not always) all women. All restrooms are, therefore, unisex. The men’s room in the elementary school had frosted glass on the windows that diffused the light perfectly. Hey, if you’ve got great light, you’ve gotta go with it!

All in all, an awesome weekend, and there is a big part of me that’s suffering from post-Yarn School withdrawal. Oh well….there’s always next year!