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How To Find Your Photographer Soul Mate

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Having that picture perfect portrait of your family can feel overwhelming. Just the thought of getting kids organized for a portrait is always stressful for me – never mind worrying about how my family is going to gel with a photographer. Photography is such an intimate experience so finding your ‘photographer soul mate’ is important. Follow these 5 tips and you’ll be on your way to an amazing family portrait experience.

1) Stalk them on social media. I LOVE a photographer that is always sharing their latest family photography on Instagram or Facebook. Why is this more important than an updated website?  Nobody has time to keep their website updated daily, but that’s a different story when photographers are active on Facebook.   A photographer’s portrait location, style, placement will continually be changing. I love watching the evolution of portraits through a well updated Facebook page before making a decision to book. I knew from watching the Lark Rise House House Facebook Page for over a year, that the style and editing in her photos was a great match for how I pictured my portrait.

The below picture is from my phone as I watched Raeleigh style my girls and get them totally happy to be barefoot sitting in a barn window. It was at this moment I knew I was going to get a picture of the twins I would always treasure.

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2) Location, location, location. I think back to the stress of portraits at the Mall when my children were really young. The entire experience was anything but enjoyable. Here’s a little secret about finding the right photographer. The experience shouldn’t be terrible. A little stressful with children yes, but not something that gives you nightmares. I know my clan and they need to run around a lot. We met my photographer soul mate, Lark Rise Horse House, at a 200 year old farm with multiple barns and room to run. While my daughters were styled and photographed together, my boys got to collect owl pellets in an old barn, jumping in hay. This freedom gave me time to concentrate on getting my girls organized and not worry (too much) about my boys.

2.1) Location was one of the most important requirements on my list. Most photographers have access to a general location spot for pictures. Are you an outdoorsy family?  Or does the thought of light rain make you break out in hives?  A little mist doesn’t bother me and I was determined to have pictures with lots of leaves and Fall colours popping out everywhere. If weather elements have you concerned, does your photographer have a backup, indoor solution in case of freezing weather or rain?

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3) Will you click? Feeling comfortable with a photographer is important. For my clan, I need someone who is soft spoken, funny, and relaxed. I’m high strung enough for everyone, so having someone stay calm when you are feeling anxious about getting ‘the perfect picture’ is a must for me. I also know my children and a person that can yell “stinky farts” is the perfect fit for my kids. Getting them to laugh at the right moment or look dreamy in the next is great gift in a photographer. You’ll usually get the feel for this though their Facebook page.  Personalities shine through on social media – refer back to point 1) as it’s important.  I knew I had completely ‘clicked’ with my photographer when she showed up to our photo shoot with handmade fresh flower wreaths for my daughters and me to wear. She also brought some vintage looking dresses and vest for my girls – totally styled us all. I don’t have this ability and finding it in a photographer was SUCH a bonus!

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4) How do you feel about candid pictures?  I always end up loving these the most. They are always taken when you least expect it and it takes a certain eye to capture a perfect candid. Are you looking for a photographer that can tell a story of the day? Here is my favourite candid from our Lark Rise Horse House portrait. It was taken in a moment of one child saying ‘my mommy’ and being goofy. I love the expression on her twin sister’s face…bemused. And I’m so glad I just accepted the love of her grabbing my face rather than telling her to behave for the camera. It resulted in this candid picture I’ll treasure forever!!

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5) Referral. Word of mouth is also very important. Don’t know of a photographer in your area?  Ask your friends to show you their latest pictures and explain what the experience was like. Was it structured, relaxed, how long did it take to receive pictures, was their editing included, prints? I am one of those people that can’t wait to see pictures – if it’s going to take three weeks to get edited photos, I’m probably not a good candidate. I love seeing watermarked images shared after a family’s portrait – little sneak peeks a few days after the pictures have been taken. All of these questions can be answered by friends – a referral is so important because it means the photographer has left a happy trail of clients.

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I had been four years since I last took pictures with my clan. A few of these will be blown up on canvas as a surprise to my husband for Christmas. He doesn’t know we did this portrait and I’m sure will love the updated pictures of our kids. I am so grateful to Lark Rise Horse House for these pictures – they will be treasured forever! The below picture is the winner for going up on the canvas for our entrance way.  I love black and white pictures and all my kids and their different personalities are captured perfectly in this picture.

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Want to know one last thing your photographer soul mate will have you do?  A picture that wasn’t on your list. A picture that takes you out of your comfort zone. A picture just of you. Thank you Raeleigh. xx

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Back To School With Triple Flip Review and Contest

Sponsored by: Triple Flip

Hosted by: Mommy Footprint

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For our family, heading back to Fall routines always include a trip to Triple Flip. My nine year old twins love the tradition and because they are gymnasts, usually their clothing picks include the locally made Triple Flip gym line. This year’s shop included clothing selections with an older, street wear vibe.  It reminded me that they are entering the pre-teen stage and I’m glad that Triple Flip knows the value of manufacturing and sourcing gorgeous clothing that is appropriate for these years; providing fashion freedom that is perfect for their fun ages.  This concern was how Triple Flip was born from founder Linda.

Linda Maslechko, the mother of three girls (all of whom were going through their awkward tween years), realized that there was something missing in the marketplace for girls aged 7–13 years. Shopping with her daughters was just a series of disappointments and fruitless searching to find something they liked and that fit their growing bodies.

Have you seen the hashtag #strongisthenewpretty? It’s probably the best message on social media at the moment. Muscles and strength are beautiful and young girls are seeing this message through clothing and fashion. A fashion brand that stands for a healthy lifestyle while still being cool is what Triple Flip and ‘Flip Girls’ is all about. A brand I love to support with their effort to support their house line manufacturing in Calgary and their efforts to keep girls looking in the mirror, and loving what they see!  Below you see a spontaneous dance when my daughter Isabella finds her perfect outfit!

 

We have teamed up with 5 Minutes For Mom to bring you a contest to win a $100 Gift Certificate to help you with back-to-school shopping. If you are lucky enough to have a Triple Flip store in your area, pop in and check out a few of these 5 top Triple Flip features for Fall and Back To School or of course shop online:

1. Activewear Lightspeed Collection. (Our favourite line from our visit!!) Photo credit: Triple Flip

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2. Minky – new styles introduced – Minky Chase Hoodie and Luxe.

3. Backpacks and school accessories. My girls have Roxy backpacks and the quality has been amazing! Triple Flip has so many different designs in backpacks this year. Photo Credit: Triple Flip

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4. New prints – Neon bunny and Birds On A Wire.

5. Denim -Tractr, Silver and Blank NYC. Photo credit: Triple Flip

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One lucky winner will win this

$100 Gift Certificate!

Giveaway ends 09/5/15 at 11:59 pm ET! Open to US and Canadian and residents 18+ and older.

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. No purchase is necessary to enter. Void where prohibited by law. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to US and Canada 18+ only. Confirmed Winner(s) (by Random.org) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this giveaway. My blog is not responsible for product shipment/delivery. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Organic Companies Announcing New Products CHFA West recap

A few weeks ago I was apart of an amazing group of social media influencers that attended the CHFA West 2015 Trade Show. This was unlike any trade show I’ve been to and I strongly encourage any retailer or buyer to attend if given the opportunity. Because it’s not open to the public, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the 100s of vendors announcing the latest and greatest in the organics industries are apart of one huge, incredible collaborative under one roof.

I was blessed to guest write an article for Vancouver Is Awesome with my recap of the show. Please head over to this article HERE and read about my favourite organic picks. Below is a sneak peek but to learn the juicy tidbits about the products, VIAwesome is the place to visit.

My favourite roundups:

We started our morning with the co-founders and entire Nature’s Path family. I thank them for continuing to turn out clean food and for the hope I felt after listening to co-Founder Arran speak about how he views the future of organics. Read more here.  Below is the snapshot of my favourite new product (Qi’a) that is launching soon to your local grocery store!

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Visiting the owner Alicia at AspenClean, we talked about their recent news of having all essential oils in their cleaning products 100% organic, while maintaining their already impressive Eco-cert certification. For anyone still using traditional cleaning products, make the switch to a healthier home, once you do, kids can even help clean!

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Team CHFA West discovered that Wholesome Sweeteners has rebranded with a very playful and fun packaging with the shortened name Wholesome!. I’ve long used this brand (coconut sugar) and I can’t wait to try their syrup, especially organic cane sugar syrup – not tapped from a tree. In my experience with trying to avoid GMOs for my family, preparing my own baking using organic sugar (cane or coconut) has really helped with avoiding GMO sugar beets (one of the big GMO crops).

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Visiting the Aura Cacia booth was super fun because I love learning about oils. When used properly, essential oils and plant oils can substitute so many traditional products with synthetic ingredients and perfumes. A great example is the Aura Cacia aromatherapy oil diffusers for vehicles. Have you see these?  No more little toxic trees! Aura Cacia is doing a great job educating consumers with over 100 DIY recipes, showing everyday people how to harness their own creativity and make their own personal care and cleaning products. Love it!

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Last but not least, as CHFA West had hundreds of companies with amazing things, we went to get the scoop on Simply Organic. Again, I love learning more about a company I’ve already been supporting with my consumer dollars for years. The big news was their popular vanilla extract is now available in a non-alcoholic version due to consumer demand because of religious reasons or baking for very young children. Consumers spoke and they listened. Look for this version the next time you are picking up any of their extract, spices, or mixes.

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The group assembled to spend the day talking to leaders in organics was a joy to spend time with and I was like a kid in an organic candy shop. Special thanks to sponsored brands Nature’s Path Organics, AspenClean, Wholesome!,  Aura Cacia, Simply Organic, and CHFA West for assembling them all under one amazing roof in Vancouver!

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What Is The Big Deal About a GMO Apple?

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I spend a portion of my life dedicated to activism. It’s something that helps ease my own personal fears for the environment and future for my four children. I’m proud to belong to an activist group focused on educating the public on GMOs (genetically modified food) called GE Free BC. A big focus over the last year for our group has been on the genetically modified apple for a few reasons:

– the company that purchased the GMO apple technology lives about 4 hours away from my community in BC’s beautiful Okanagan so it’s a big BC/Canadian problem.
– this is only the 2nd fruit produced in the WORLD that is GMO so that makes it a pretty big deal.
– the idea of a tree fruit that needs to be pollinated being engineered is so scary to me (bees are already suffering enough with pesticides) that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I wasn’t involved in trying to stop this from actually being approved in Canada.
– the Okanagan company that produced the GMO apple, has the technology ready to go for peaches, pears, and cherries.  Once our apples are contaminated, 3 other tree fruits will be next.

So with the company behind the GMO apple technology seeking approval from the Canadian Government (we have no way of knowing what the status of this is, as it’s a secret process), our efforts have been very focused to Canada. So you can imagine our shock when news broke this week that the USDA approved the GMO apple for the US. Any North American with concerns about GMOs has been dismayed as this news slowly made it’s way around North America and the rest of the world. It is very difficult to understand why North American governments continue to approve food decisions that consumers clearly don’t want. Not only do consumers not want this, but also farmers, tree growers, and stores are opposed to the idea of growing and selling an apple that doesn’t brown. That is what the ‘modified’ gene trait is with this apple; the gene that browns the apple has been silenced. These Arctic, non-browning apples will not brown until 15-18 days after being cut so it will look fresh when it’s actually rotting.  And for the few consumers that don’t see the big deal about having an apple that doesn’t brown, here is why we are so concerned:

– in order to silence the browning gene, they’ve genetically engineered the apple by inserting a virus, bacteria, and antibiotic marker gene into the apple’s DNA.
– no animal or long-term studies done or requested before approval.
– we don’t know what the nutritional value of an apple once it’s actually rotten. The non-browning alteration is a cosmetic coverup to the actual quality of the fruit.
– every cell of the GM apple tree will have the transgene and once the growers start production of these apples, it will cross contaminate soil, water, insects, and any organism (including humans) that eats it. It’s like opening a Pandora’s box of contamination before proper testing is completed.

As North Americans we think we are so much more advanced than other countries. As Canadians, we live in one of the most beautiful, peaceful countries in the world. But over the years we’ve really let food standards slide when it comes to pesticide use, GMO food production (yes, we are big producers of it) and food standards that allow most of the non-organic packaged food on our grocery store shelves to contain GMO ingredients. Countries that are poor and hungry have said “NO” to growing GMO seed and a bigger “NO” to importing our food, which is slowly being viewed worldwide as tainted. So what did the US do when they approved the GMO apple this week? I fear that they’ve just lost another export. Contamination of a food system is viewed as that big a deal in other countries, and since we know the Ambrosia apple started out with a discarded core in a compost bin, the fear needs to be acknowledged.

If this is the first you are hearing about the GMO apple, we hope you feel outrage and want to take action. Here is possibly the most important action you can take. Talk to your grocery store Manager. Keep it easy, short, and passionate. Tell them that you as a consumer do not want the GMO apples (also called non-browning apple or Arctic Apple) and do not want your local store carrying it if the Canadian Government approves it or after they come into production in the US. If the grocery stores are not carrying this apple, the demand will not be as great.

For more information on how to stop the GMO apple, please visit the CBAN website: http://www.cban.ca/ and follow GE Free BC on Facebook. The time is now to plug back into our food system before we have our grandchildren asking us “how did you let this happen??”!!

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Brick & Mortar Living – Shopping For A Story

Teachers, coaches, and tutors. By December, it feels like my kids are with these people more than me. And when they are strong role models that help shape and define my kids into better humans, I want a gift that says “thank you”.

I have a trick when shopping for teachers gifts that helps keep me enthusiastic in the process; I always support local. I figure if I’m way off base and they don’t like my gift, I’ve at least helped a local store owner or talented person that makes original items. And when it comes to the suburbs in Vancouver, there is a store that never disappoints with locally stocked space called Brick and Mortar Living in New Westminster.

Here are 5 gift selections I found at Brick and Mortar Living that I thought were wonderful ideas for holiday gifts for teachers in particular. All these ideas are unique, handmade, and special because of the story behind how they are made.

If we could all get back to shopping for the best story, rather than the best price, our planet would be in such better shape.

My selections range in dollar value from 1 – 5 and could be sourced further abroad if you are not local to Vancouver.

Scrabble Tile Ornaments:

Displayed in cool vintage baking sheets, Brick and Mortar has saved you the time from buying up thrifted Scrabble boards to find your letters. There are so many great projects on Pinterest to make, but sticking with the holiday theme, why not make your teacher a scrabble tile ornament for their tree? You could include a message or name and it’s a budget friendly, fun DIY project!

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Mason Jar Cozy:

On-the-go convenience is important and when you can make it reusable with knit and glass, the effect is amazing. Brick and Mortar Living put together these great pieces to make transporting your favourite beverage easy. Included in this picture is a mason jar,  Cuppow adaptor, a reusable @onyxcontainers stainless steel straw, and  knit cozy from @onanaknits. I feel like the knit cozy makes this gift so festive.

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A little corner of Brick and Mortar Living has flattened, vintage spoons made into garden markers. These are so cute for a teacher that loves to garden. If you have a group gift you’ve selected from, add a gift certificate to a local garden center and you’ve paired up practical with handmade!  The garden markers featured here are from @andthenagain.

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Living Gift:

Many teachers request gifts to beautify the classroom. By design Nature creates these living frames with plants or all sizes. The frame actually reminds you when it’s time to water. There are also smaller and budget friendly magnetic pots too. Cute to stick against a magnetic board in the classroom.

 

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Here is my showstopper. I just can’t think of a more creative gift than these crib boards made from up-cycled barrel staves. Teachers generally like board games and crib is a classic. The upcycled nature of this gift at Brick & Mortar Living are so unique and there is no better story behind a gift.

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It is really fun to get to the place in gift giving where after your friend, family member or teacher opens a gift and waits for you to tell the back-story of why and how their gift came to life.  Try to include some local love into your holiday shopping this year. It’s not only fabulous for your community’s health, but feels fantastic to give.

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