Fall and winter are my favorite seasons of the year for fashion. I adore pairing boots with just about everything I wear. Over the past few years, my collection of boots has grown and so has the mess on my closet floor. I can barely see the carpet through the pile of boots! I didn't even know an answer to my problem existed, until I saw boot stuffers for sale at Home Goods. I was out shopping with my mother at the time and she suggested I make a few for myself. That was all the motivation I needed. I was off to JoAnne Fabrics with my holiday coupons to find the perfect fabric. Of course, I chose burlap. Here is how you can make boot stuffers for yourself or as a gift for one of your lucky friends this Christmas.

diy boot stuffers DIY Burlap Boot Stuffers | Gift Ideas

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The husband and I were out shopping at Lowes last night for a few additional Christmas decorations when we found a set of beautiful gold and silver pine cones. I soon began to think of all the ways I could use them in my home: Christmas place card holders, by the fireplace and in my apothecary jar. I was ready to pick them up and walk right out of the store when the husband mentioned the price. I was not going to pay almost $10.00 for something I could make myself.

My husband is the sweetest man and goes right along with my projects and ideas. He planned an afternoon walk at Oak Grove Lake Park where we could enjoy the 70 degree weather, we are currently blessed with, while looking for pine cones. We had such a fun time and I came home with two bags full of pine cones. Plenty for all my project ideas!

Since the weather was so inviting, I put my old paint clothes on and found my silver and gold spray paints. Thankfully, I had used them both for previous projects and they were just begging to be used for something special. Here is how I made my Christmas place card holders. It is super easy to do and you can use them all year!

christmas place card holders 662x1024 How To Make Christmas Place Card Holders

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zuppa toscana1 Zuppa Toscana

It's that time of year where I am on Pinterest for countless hours looking for DIY gift ideas, Christmas decorations and best of all, recipes! All those images of amazing food make me so hungry. It is like going to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Not smart!

I honestly don't even remember what I was searching for at the time I found this yummy recipe, but it was one of those that stopped me dead in my tracks and made me think, "I MUST GO MAKE THIS NOW!" I certainly cannot take full responsibility for this wonderful zuppa toscana recipe as I found it at Pink Pistachio. I changed a few minor things, but the quality obviously stayed the same as my husband had the same reaction as hers.

Now, I have never had zuppa toscana at Olive Garden, but my husband said this was very similar. I'd like to say it's better, but you will just have to let me know!

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I recently connected with Irresistable Pets as a guest blogger to share 8 tips for photographing pets. As the holidays are approaching, I thought it would be helpful to share this post with all my blog followers too!

There’s nothing quite like the bond between a pet and its owner. Our pets make us smile, laugh and every now and then, shed a tear. They are our friends for life and thrive under our attention and love.

I grew up in a home where we always had a dog in our family. As a young child and aspiring photographer, my dogs were great stand-in models. I could dress them up for portraits, play ball outside for action shots or snap detail shots while they were catching a quick snooze.

Pet photography can be tricky as animals can be a bit unpredictable. How many times have you tried to photograph your pet only to find your images blurry, dark or with red eye? Through my years of pet ownership and photography, I’ve picked up eight tips that will help you improve your pet photography skills.

Tip # 1 – In Their Element

Where do you see your pet the happiest or most playful? Is it outside playing catch or curled up on the windowsill watching the animals outside? When photographing your pet, capture them in their element. It will better portray their personality and will help them feel more comfortable with your camera.

pet photography tips 8 Tips For Photographing Pets

Tip # 2 – Dressed Up or Natural

Some pets feel most comfortable in their own skin. You may want your pet to look all dolled up for the camera, but sometimes it’s best to let them be free of outfits or accessories. If your pet is comfortable with costumes or pet clothes, by all means, dress them up! It can make for some pretty hilarious or super cute images.  Keep in mind, as mentioned before, the more comfortable your pet is, the more natural and playful they will be for the camera.

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Tip # 3 – Get Down to Their Level

The best location to photograph your pet is on their level. Go for it! Get as close to the ground as you can. Warning!! Your pet may take this as an opportunity to become quite playful as they think you are acting like them. Instead, try to keep them distracted by giving them their favorite toy, letting them dig that hole in the yard, inviting a friend’s pet for play time or allowing them to explore.

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Tip # 4 – Up Close and Personal

Don’t be afraid to get as close to your pet as possible. Fill the entire camera frame with your pet. It will remove any background distractions and put all the focus on them. Try capturing special details, such as paws, ears, whiskers, etc.

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Tip # 5 – Quick and Quiet

To keep your pet in their element, comfortable and natural, take your photos as quickly as possible. If your digital camera makes beeping noises, shut the sound off. Always have your camera ready for those spontaneous moments where your pet performs a trick or does something out of the photography tips2 8 Tips For Photographing Pets

Tip # 6 – Consider Your Backdrop

If you decide to take a wide angle approach to photographing your pet, pay special attention to their backdrop. Some backdrops can artfully frame them, such as a window or mirror. Others can add a pop of color such as a bright bedspread or painted wall. Your backdrop can also tell a story about your pet. The photo below is of my dog, Cody. He loves to swim and retrieve sticks and if we let him, would play this game all day long.

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Tip # 7- Technicalities

The best location to photograph your pet is outside in the natural light. Your camera will not have to compensate with a flash, giving you the dreaded red-eye, or slow your shutter speed down, giving you the blurred images. If you are using your camera indoors, try to turn on as many lights as possible and position your pet near a window.

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Tip # 8 – Rewards

One last word of advice, don’t forget to have treats handy. They can help you keep control of your pet, reward them for tricks or obedience and keep them focused on you and the camera.

Take your time working through these eight tips for photographing pets and as you master each one, you will find your blurry, dark photos turn into beautiful works of art. If you would like more tips or advice, share a link to your images in the comment section. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving next week!

This girl LOVES design! I am all about decorating, creating just the right atmosphere for a party and making sure every detail is perfect. For the past two weeks, I have been pouring my heart into a very special baby shower for my sweet friend, Terri. For those of you that stalk follow my blog, you have seen Terri's face many, many times over the past few months. Just a few weeks back I photographed her and the cutest kids you've ever seen at the McHugh Family Portrait Session.

Terri let me in on a little secret…the colors of Avenleigh's room: pink and orange. I happen to love that color combination and I could not wait to incorporate it into her baby shower. Here are a few photos of our pink and orange baby shower from this past weekend.

Baby Shower 2012 11 3 blog1 Terris Pink and Orange Baby Shower

Baby Shower 2012 11 3 blog2 Terris Pink and Orange Baby ShowerThe pink and orange poms were so easy to make and really made the room pop with color. I purchased the precut tissue paper at Marshall's. It really made my job easier and I would highly recommend it if you are looking to make your own poms.

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I found the perfect paisley pink and orange wrapping paper at the Hallmark store. They also have crazy cute gift bags too!

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The orange damask wall art was an afterthought. I have four collecting dust in my office as I made them for my wedding reception almost two years ago. It was so much fun to bring them out again and share them with my guests!Baby Shower 2012 11 3 blog6 Terris Pink and Orange Baby Shower

My baby shower favors were white chocolate covered pretzels. I designed all my pink and orange baby shower printables in Photoshop. If you are interested in using them for your event, leave me a comment! I might just have to write a special blog post and share them with you. Baby Shower 2012 11 3 blog7 Terris Pink and Orange Baby Shower

The shower was a big success and Terri left with so many beautiful girly outfits, princess decor and even pink, sparkly Toms! She was one happy mama.

chocolate covered pretzel favors blog1 How To Make Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I am organizing my first baby shower event and am so excited to share my DIY party favors with you! These chocolate covered pretzel favors are so easy to make and are a beautiful, but tasty treat for your party guests.

I originally found these on Love From The Oven. I love any blog with great photographs and this site left me craving white chocolate covered pretzels. Unfortunately, these aren't gluten free, but gluten free pretzels can be substituted. I can't wait to hand them out this weekend!

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