Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Last Minute Christmas Shopping & Year Round Gift Ideas

Thanks to one of my blog followers (and former classmate) for this awesome idea!  How about the gift of memories for Christmas?!  A gift certificate for a photography session! 

Just let me know how much you want to spend.  Want the whole package?  Just an hour?  The CD with printing rights?  The recipient doesn't have to know how much the gift is, I'll just include the details. 

Who is it for?  I'll even personalize the gift certificate!

And now you can cross off that hard-to-buy person off your list.  ;)

Big Bro

Ok, so technically he's my 'little' brother...but when he towers a good 6-7 inches above me...he's not so little.  :) 
Ah...Chris...the instigator of turmoil from a young age.  Mom could tell you stories how I would innocently be playing by myself, unaware of the sneak attack about to take place.  The capture of my beloved 'bibi'  aka: blanket.  And that's when it all started.
I started to retaliate. I was the older, taller, stronger, smarter one (hey, when there's 2 years between you, that's 2 more years of smarts) .  Pinning him to the ground and tickling until he almost (ok, so maybe he did) wet his pants and lose his breath from laughing so hard.  That lasted until I was about 13...and then I got thrown across the room. 
So then I lost the brawn...what else did I have?  Eating utensils!  After swim practice one summer, one our chores to cross off the list was the unload the dishwasher.  Somehow it turned into a gladiator match and someone got a fork stuck in their arm...not me!  To this day he hasn't let me live it down.
When Chris entered into high school he joined the swim team; I had been on for 3 years.  As the 'big' sister with the driver's license it was my 'sisterly' duty to take him to swim practice.  Do you remember those awkward, hormonal teenage years??  Yeah...I try to forget them...  I would absolutely LOSE IT when Chris said he couldn't find his goggles.  I mean, really...a pair of goggles...I had the same pair for all 5 years I was on the swim team.  How hard is it to keep up with them?!  He couldn't find his goggles...which meant we could be late for practice.  I. Hate. Being. Late. Period.  Hormones?!  So for my Senior Will and Testament before I graduated, I gave him my goggles.  I figured there must be some sort of luck with them, I had them for 5 years and they were never 'lost.' 
After all the years of torture and being known as "Amanda's little brother" I never really knew the feelings my brother had for me.  Brotherly love I guess you could call it.  When I graduated from UK he wrote a memoir for me.

Lil Sis...
I was going to buy you a car, I was going to buy you a silver ring with three diamonds cut into it, I was going to buy some really expensive clothes, and I was going to buy you an apartment.  You know I wanted to buy the most expensive things anyone could afford.
As you know, I was a freshman this year, and I am growing short on funds.  So I decided to make you something that you could remember the good times by, something that you could remember the things we did together. 
You might not remember some of these things, but I remember them because they showed me what a big sister is for.  You have taught me so much through the years.  You showed me how to be romantic, you showed me how to survive my freshman year in high school, and you showed me how to survive a broken heart.  You taught me how to be myself around people, and to not give into what people want me to be.
You never had to help through my tough times, but you did.  You showed me that I am worth something and that I have things to live for. 
You are one of a kind sister that I wouldn't trade for anything else.  You couldn't have been better to me through the years.  We had our fights, our disappointments, our triumphs, and our stabbing of forks in the kitchen after Waterford swim practices.  I wouldn't trade our past for anything.  You have been a teacher for me, a great teacher.  I thank you for everything you said and did for me.  I love you and I am very proud of you.
-Big Bro.

(enter: tears streaming down the face)
note-he was the first person to make me cry on my wedding day...more sentimental words scrawled in a card

And in the book he wrote a few poems and some other sentimental messages.

Feelings I never knew he had.

Memories I thought were faded, tattered at the edges, and accumulating dust. 

From him I learned to never underestimate the words you speak and the actions you carry out. 

I am so proud of him.  His talents have been hidden for years.  The guitar...he plays from sound, not reading music.  The songs he writes tug at your heart.  They pull hard because the lyrics take you back to your dark past and into today's light.  They are inspiring, refreshing, and relational. 

He has the biggest heart I've seen.  He's more aware of the people in need of someone to invest in them emotionally.  He's a listener, a lover, and a leader.  So many traits I don't have, but wish I did.  You can't just 'learn' how to be empathetic, it is rooted and woven into your being. 

And so here he brother...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday!

{one} did you buy a christmas tree this year?
no. i tried to convince hubby, but he won based on the fact our lil man is crawling...
{two} what is your favorite holiday tradition?
not sure that we really have any...but i'd like to start a few for our family.  new pjs on christmas ornament as a gift each year to the kiddo(s)...baking cookies (right now bourbon balls have been popular for the past 3 years)
{three} do you open your gifts on christmas eve or christmas day?
christmas day.

{four} at what age did you stop believing in santa claus?
the spirit of santa claus lives on forever.
{five} do you fill stockings?
i don't, santa does.  and santa pays a visit to our house this year!!!
{six} handmade presents or store bought presents? depends on the person.   pecan pie for my father in law.  crocheted christmas stockings for our nephews and god-son.
{seven} do you have a favorite christmas meal?
turkey, stuffing, mashed taters, sweet potatoes, early peas, olives and pumpkin pie
{eight} is your christmas tree real or artificial?
artificial.  lights only.  we figured ornaments were too much of a risk this year.
{nine} what is your favorite christmas song?
song?  singular?!  only one?!  i'll have to say anything on trans siberian orchestra or manheim steamroller.
{ten} did you send out christmas cards this year?
not yet, envelopes are addressed, stamped, cards signed, just waiting for the picture to include.  i know...sad...and i'm a photographer!
ps. if you have questions that you’d like to see featured on wee bit wednesday, email me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

ONE Commitment

There was some big news in the past about Southland Christian Church purchasing the old Lexington Mall property.  Well, if you're interested in reading about the potential ministry and the opportunity to serve the people of this town, check out their blog.

Since our family calls Southland 'home,' we were asked to make a commitment for the future of this site.  Through a series of very powerful and moving sermons and bible studies, we were compelled to reconsider our financial status as a family and think sacrificially for this building project.  Nate and I sat together for a few nights looking at our budget and thinking, "What can we give above and beyond our tithe?"  We crunched numbers, we shaved off in certain budget categories, and we thought about what else we could do to help invest in other's futures. 

And now you're probably wondering what this has to do with photography, well...I thought how I can use my gifts and talents sacrificially.  And so we brainstormed and here's what we came up with...

*any wedding I'm hired to shoot at SCC, my earnings go toward the ONE campaign.
*any photo shoot to take place at SCC (ie: family, senior, etc) my earnings will go toward the ONE campaign.
*I can schedule seasonal family sessions (just like fall and winter mini sessions) on location at SCC, and guess what I would do with my earnings...that's right, to the ONE campaign.

So if you call Southland home, have another church home, don't have a church's one way to help the communities of Lexington and Nicholasville.  Just another way for our family to give back to the community.  :)

And the Winners are...

Congratulations to the following people!

{Stephanie WC}: free one hour session and disc with printing rights in 2011
{Christa}: free disc with printing rights with any session booked in 2011
{Joni}: half off any session in 2011 (not to exceed 2 hours)
{Pam}: free 20 pg 5x7 photobook with any session booked in 2011

E-mail or send me a facebook message to redeem your prizes!

And I hope you weren't chomping at the bit; hitting the refresh button on your browser...yes, I know I'm revealing the winners a day (technically 2 is Monday) late.  Thanks for your patience, we at the Mitchell household haven't had much sleep the past nights...lil man has been sick.  :(  He's doing MUCH better now!  Not to mention I've had a SLAMMED session on Friday, Winter Mini-Session make ups on Saturday, and another day of Winter Mini Session on Sunday.  Whew...I might be able to rest easy by Christmas Eve.  :)

And for the Mitchell family Christmas card...the winner is 'Oh What Fun Christmas!'
And it may not be a family picture...just the lil man.  Have you ever wondered who takes the pictures for a photographer's family?!  Can you tell I haven't started my cards yet?!  I still have time, the 12 days of Christmas aren't over until Jan. 6!!!  :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday

seriously...what happened to wee bit wednesday last week?  Um...dunno.  So this time I REALLY added a reminder to my yahoo calendar each week.  :) 

{one} if you were granted three wishes, what would they be?
1. sugar wasn't bad for you
2.  everyone was a bit more understanding of each other
3.  my son to start sleeping through the night again.  :)
{two} who is your favorite author?
janet evonavich.  read the stephanie plum series for a serious ab workout.
{three} what crowd were you involved in during high school?
the 'i'm just myself, doing the best i can, keep my nose clean, no drama for me, lay-low' crowd.  i'm not sure very many people knew me; even though i was on swim, track, and cross country teams.
{four} what is your favorite thing to do when you have time to yourself?
read (which includes blogstalking), crochet or take a hot bubble bath.
{five} do you have any hidden talents?
i believe the photographer in me was revealed. 
{six} can you fake any accents?
german.  its pretty easy, just pretend you're clearing your throat, right?!  i did take 5 years of it! 

{seven} have you ever been mentioned in the newspaper?
yup, when my dad's cousin was running for office and results from track/cross country/swim meets.
{eight} have you ever been arrested?

{nine} what is your favorite job you’ve had?
the one i have now.  :)  mom, husband, and photographer.
{ten} do you have any scars?
don't we all?!  probably the two most noticeable are the one on my elbow i got from scraping it on a rock pile and my knee...countless times from falling during hurdles practice.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Amanda Mitchell Photography's *NEW* Additions!!

That's right, we're growing!  On Baby A's post you may have briefly read about my new props.  Well, I had a chance to give them all a try!  Take a look at how I'm incorporating my hobby of crocheting with photography...
Newborn Nest

Elfin hat (more colors to come!)

Cacoon and beanie
(more colors to come!)

I'm even contemplating taking special orders for colors.  Of course,  I would need ample time to purchase materials and create your special prop. 

Some other props on my wish list...
Galvanized Tubs
Various baskets

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tis the Season to Giveaway and Share

Giving and sharing is what this season is all about, right?!  I'm here to share some gift giving ideas you can use with your Amanda Mitchell Photography images.  Oh yeah...and the 'giveaway' part of my'll have to read to the end to find out more.  :)  In involves YOU sharing your ideas as well. 

Many families give the gift of memories for the holidays.  Just like with any gift, you take great care in selecting quality gifts that will last forever.  That includes your precious memories...PICTURES! 

If you're a customer of mine, you know I always recommend Shutterfly to print your images...and that's why I use Shutterfly's ProGallery for customers to view and share their images from our sessions.  And if you're not a customer, well...listen up! 

From my experience, Shutterfly has provided superb quality of prints, photobooks, and cards.  How do I know?  Well, because I've tried other photolabs.  Comparing Shutterfly to Clark Color Labs, Snapfish, Wal-Mart, Sam's Club...Shutterfly provides richer, more vibrant colors without going overboard.  The same goes for their photobooks.  Not only do the colors of your images stand out in photobooks, but the quality of the book will as well.  Shutterfly photobooks, compared to those of Clark Color Images, just FEEL sturdier.  The binding and stitching feels tighter; giving a sturdy feeling, rather than loose and floppy.  The pages of their photobooks are heavier, or thicker one might say.  What about cards?  The SELECTION!  I've never seen more of a selection for cards, stationary, or invitations than at Shutterfly.  You can also find an array of styles: traditional, modern, artsy, sophisticated or simple...and of course colors galore!

But you're not a professional photographer...or you don't have editing software.  No big deal!  Shutterfly also provides limited editing tools like....
*fix red eye
*image cropping
*effects such as black/white, color tone, saturate color, or soft focus
*add borders such as simple, seasonal, text, and color.

So let's focus (pun intended...ok, maybe I'm the only person who found that funny) on the holiday cards for a moment.  I have quite a dilemma...choosing a Christmas card!  Shutterfly has SO many options...below you will see three cards I'm choosing from.  If you like Shutterfly's card design, click the link and it will take you directly to it!

What is so unique about these cards is the way to customize the INSIDE!  That's right...not only do you get to show off your family on the front, but the inside as well!  Some designs offer a TIMELINE highlighted with images from this year.  Tired of typing up the annual Christmas about figuring out the margins of the stationary you're using?  What about folding a bazillion letters?!  Solution: Think of a few significant events from 2010, pop in a picture to illustrate it and VOILA...a Christmas card, letter and mini album ALL IN ONE! Some of the card designs offer a simpler approach, add a few pictures to the inside, and the bottom has a premade message, like most boxed Christmas cards.   Take a peek from Shutterfly's site.

So once's what we're thinking about for our family Christmas card.  You'll also notice they aren't my family.  You wouldn't want me to ruin the surprise of our Christmas card picture, right?!  ;) 

(oops...disregard the 'click to edit')

Ok, so you clicked on the links and now you're wondering which adorable card you want to send out.  So now you can check off Christmas cards off your list.  What else can you do with your images? GIFTS!  Grandparents ALWAYS love to show off their grandchildren!  Don't forget Dad...have something to remind of his family while working at the office.  Mom can keep kids close to her heart with a necklace while they are busy at school.  Baby's first about a collective ornament?!  Here are just a few gift ideas:
*canvas wall art
*mouse pads
*keep sake boxes
*desk organizer
*playing cards
*notebooks and notepads
*tote bags

Now what to do after you've opened all the gifts....THANK YOU NOTES!!  Many of the holiday cards have coordinating thank you cards...and return address labels.  Who doesn't like everything coordinating?!  :)

So Shutterfly can make it all even sweeter...

For a limited time...
Save 20% on mugs, pewter ornaments, mouse pads, magnets, notepads, notebooks, and canvas prints.
Save up to 30% on books and cards
FREE shipping on orders $50+
Happy shopping for your memories!! :)

And because I'm helping to promote Shutterfly's holiday collection and other photo gifts, I will hopefully receive 50 free cards.  :)  Have a blog?  Still need your holiday cards?  Click here for more info.

Now...what you've been waiting for...the sweetest deal...Amanda Mitchell Photography's Holiday Giveaway!

Giveaway #1 
Help the Mitchells decide which Christmas card to choose!  Scroll back up to view our three options.  Cast your vote by simply commenting on THIS post with the name of the card. {only one vote per person per giveaway}  The card design with the most votes is the one we'll send out!  What's in it for YOU????  Your name goes in a drawing for a FREE one hour session AND cd with printing rights.  Use it for whatever you like...birthday party, kids yearly picture session, newborn session, family session...GET CREATIVE! 

Giveaway #2
I think my blog needs a few more followers!  I have two subscribers...and I KNOW more people view my blog.  (I really doubt my 2 followers are clicking here 200+ times a month).  For every person who joins as a follower (and current followers), your name goes in a drawing for one of these three fabulous prizes...
*Free cd with printing rights when you purchase any new session booked in 2011.
*Half off any new session fee (not to exceed 2 hours) booked in 2011.
*Free 20 page 5x7 Photobook from Shutterfly with any new session booked in 2011.

*new session means any session not previously booked.

Giveaways open NOW and close on Friday, December 17 at 8am.  So what are you waiting for?  Set your Outlook and Yahoo calendars with a reminder! 

So how will I do these drawings?  Your name is on a piece of paper...tossed into a bowl, hat, basket, etc and I'll let my dear husband select the papers.  Winners will be announced on our blog Saturday the 18th.

Good luck!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby A: newborn

I first met Baby's A big brother during my Fall Frenzy mini sessions.  Baby A hadn't made his appearance yet, but soon enough I got to meet him.  And was big brother a PROUD big brother when I came to capture the new bundle of joy. 

For this shoot I made (yes, that's right, I MADE) a few props.  I was inspired by an artist I found on etsy, Mad About Colour.  You'll see Baby A wrapped in a newborn nest.  I elaborated a bit and added the toggle buttons.  Baby A was my experiment and well...I think my nests to be a bit larger.  :)  You'll also see Baby A sporting one of the elfin hats.  More to come about my creations at a later date...I'm still adding to my prop collection.  Who would've thought my hobby of crocheting could be incorporated into my photography biz! 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christa & Jacob

Christa was a bridesmaids from Katie & Ryan's wedding (look back to find her!).  At Katie's wedding she asked me for my contact info...she was engaged to Jacob and was interested in doing an engagement session.

Christa and Jacob challenged me...hey, that's a good thing!  They wanted to go downtown Lex for their session.  They wanted to get pics on the old Rupp Arena floor, Triangle Park, and downtown.  I had fun playing around with exposure...slowing things down a bit to get the water fountains to blur and using the street lights which casted dramatic shadows.  Oooh-la-la. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

C Family

The C Family were the lucky winners of the YMCA Campaign for Kids silent auction held back in February.  Meeting the family with the three boys reminded me of my husband's family...three boys!  And I'm pretty sure our little family will be the same...err...except for 2 boys.  ;) 

Anyhoo...the two oldest brothers were a kick!  So photogenic and willing to participate...hence the awesome snapshots!  :) 

At the end of our session Mrs. C asked if I ever eat at Mellow Mushroom.  Well, you see...I used to live on Lexington Ave...which is right there next to campus, so we frequented the local pizza parlors.  Come to find out they own the place! I'm reminded of the soft pretzels...ahhh.....

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday

Wow...Wednesday ALREADY?!

{one} what kind of camera do you have? Canon Rebel xsi

{two} you just won $1000 and you have to spend it on yourself on one item. what do you buy?
One item?  Probably some tricked-out lens.  :)

{three} if you had to choose, would you rather live with your parents in the same house forever or 5000 miles away? 5000 miles away.  I love you mom and dad...but f-o-r-e-v-e-r is a lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng time.

{four} is your Christmas tree up yet?
Yup, right after Thanksgiving.  We'll see how long it stays up with a crawling baby.  :)

{five} do you bring reusable bags to the grocery store?
Of course!  Gas points for Kroger...HELLO?! 

{six} which would be worse: listening to the same song on replay for the rest of your life or having to eat the same meal everyday for the rest of your life?
Same is just fuel for the they say...

{seven} name 3 things you are thankful for this season.
my husband, my son, and ....I'll get back to you...

{eight} do you dye/highlight your hair? if so, do you do it yourself or have it done at the salon? No.  Did it before....too much maintenance.  Maintenance = $$$  I'm too frugal  :)

{nine} would you rather watch a movie at home or at the theater?
Home.  Snuggled up in bed next to hubby.  :)

{ten} would you rather win $1000/week for life or $5 million all at once?
Well, I did the math (dork, I know).  If I took the $1000/wk option then I would have $5 mill in about twenty years.  Then again...if I took the $5 mill we could get a dream home AND I could get my studio...sooner than if we took the $1K a week.  I'd say the $1k/wk for life...I'm pretty good with delayed gratification. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blogstalking Allowed Here

So it occurred to me...I only have 1 follower....but I know I have more viewers...What can I do to get more people to subscribe to my blog?  Hmmm...better to ask YOU.  What would you like to see?  A contest?  Drawing?  Freebies???  Leave a comment and let me know. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is the first time I'm using a 'scheduled post.'  Ha!  Do you really think I'd take time away from my family to type up a blog?  I love my followers, but I have to be on vacation when hubby is on vacation!  :) 

I hope this post finds you drooling over the tantalizing smells of an herbcovered bird or honey glazed ham roasting away to perfection.  Or whatever Thanksgiving meal is a tradition in your home, may it be deeeelish!!

So earlier there's a post about my slight addiction to pumpkin.  My husband is seriously rolling his eyes hard they may permanently stay up in the 'whites showing' position.  This week I've had three pumpkin indulgences. 

1.  a FREE pumpkin pie from Donut Days Bakery.  Yes, FREE because we had a coupon mailing from our real estate agent when we sold hubby's condo.  :)  And I will go off on a tangent a small business owner, I have a heart for other small and local business in our hometown.  As I whisked into Donut Days (ok, probably not 'whisking' like you think, I was lugging an 18lb infant IN his car seat carrier) I was overcome with the sugary essence of a bakery.  Cookies, donuts, pies, cakes, rolls.  ...rolls...  Rolls?!  Yeah, like dinner rolls.  And the lady ahead of me was buying a big bag.  Well jeeze, rolls seemed too simple.  I figured I always picked up a package or Rainbow or Sara Lee rolls from Kroger.  But dinner simple and keeping it real for the local business(wo)man.  So in my endeavor to support the local businesses...dinner rolls it is (and a pumpkin pie for myself)!!

2.  And my second pumpkin indulgence...PUMPKIN BARS.  To top if off...made from scratch with REAL pumpkin I baked, scraped, and pureed.  :)  The recipe came from my aunt.  I'm not sure where she got slapping me on the hand for copyright violations!!

Pumpkin Bars with Crumb Topping

1 1/2 c. oats
1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. nuts
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. soda
3/4 c. butter

Mix until crumbly.  Save 1 1/2 cups for the top.  Press the rest into greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake 375, 10 minutes.

15-16 oz. canned pumpkin
2/3 c. milk
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 T. pumpkin pie spice

Beat until smooth.  Pour over crust.  Top with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake 25 minutes more.

3.  Pumpkin pancakes.  Oooooh yes, my mouth has been watering as I watch the IHOP commercials with their pumpkin pancakes with whipped topping.  I decided to make a few of my own.  Errr...not as 'daring' with the fresh pumpkin as I was with the pumpkin bars.  I went easy and bought a boxed mix from Aldi.  What's Aldi...I better not get off on another tangent...but Aldi is the BEST grocery store EVER!    Any hoo...I present to you...PUMPKIN PANCAKES!!  And yes, I'm a dork for 'staging' the background...including the artificial flowers.  :)

And I thought I'd toss in a pic of my fav kitchen apron.  Yes, it was a guilty pleasure, splurge purchase this summer.  I figured since I'm working from home and cooking has taken more of an interest to me (now because I actually have time to look for and try new recipes) I deserved an apron.  And a cute at that!  I bought it at Pier 1 imports.  Tiered, ruffled, girlie...LOVE IT!!  And since I was on this small business kick...I wish I would've met Megan earlier... Megan from itty smitty make such adorable aprons and accessories!  I met her this summer at the farmer's market selling her wares.  I purchased a wrist cuff, complete with vintage ribbon.  I even made a special shopping trip to find more tops to match, just so I can wear it more!!  Keep Megan and itty smitty in mind as you start  your holiday shopping.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wee Bit Wednesday

Wow...I realized I FORGOT last week...perhaps I should put it on my yahoo calendar with a reminder.  :)  Baby brain!

{one} what time do you normally wake up?
7 or 7:30, when my son wakes up...but now that he's no napping as much anymore, I wake up with hubby so about 6am.

{two} do you have a go-to song for karaoke?
I don't ever sing karaoke. Ever. but 'Undone' by FFH gets me jazzed!

{three} if you could only see black and white except for one color, what color would you choose to see?
Blues. Have you seen the sky and babies' eyes?

{four} what color best matches your personality?

{five} if you could choose one meal to cook better than anyone else, what would it be?
Mmmm... steak.

{six} how many keys do you have on your key ring?
4. Used to be 5 when I had a classroom.

{seven} do you give your pets birthday/Christmas gifts?
No more pets...but yes, I used to.

{eight} when your plate has different foods on it, do you mix or not?
NO WAY!  Except for mashed potatoes and peas.

{nine} if you could hire someone to do one thing for you all the time, what would it be?
Scrub tubs.  What is it about men and soap scum?

{ten} when flying, do you prefer the window or aisle seat?
Aisle.  I read or sleep, so I'll save the window for someone who will enjoy it.