Fall Minis 2016

 It's that time again...  Fall Mini Sessions are here!!   This is the first time I'll be offering mini sessions in California!!  Space is extremely limited, and they're already halfway full.  Skip to the bottom of this post for mini session pricing and how to book now!!

Mini sessions are tons of fun - if you've never attended one of BDP's mini sessions before, here's a few things to expect:  I always have a few little activities to keep kiddos occupied while Mom or Dad are filling out paperwork and waiting their turn.  There will also be gorgeous product samples to check out, including holiday card designs and gift ideas.  They are QUICK.  20 minutes flies by, so a mini session is much different than a regular session - however, they're an awesome opportunity to get a quick updated portrait for the wall and get those holiday cards taken care of.  It's also a perfect chance to give the Brandilyn Davidson Photography experience a try if you haven't yet.  Or maybe you've never had any professional photography experience before, or maybe you're looking for a new photog to call your own... whatever your story - I hope to see you there!!

TO BOOK YOUR MINI SESSION: Contact BDP via email - bdprophotography@gmail.com or phone 423-483-0262 or simply click HERE.  Be sure to let me know which time and type of mini session you'd like (info below).

MINI SESSION REFERRALS: Tell your friends about Fall Mini Sessions and get rewarded!!  For EACH friend who also books a mini session, you'll both receive not one, but TWO FREE gift prints (an $80 value!!).  There's no limit, so get talking and sharing to rack up those free prints!!  Make sure to have your friends let me know you sent them!  **For Fall Mini Session clients only**

Here are the mini session details - you have two packages to choose from, and I'm currently only offering one date.  

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22ND (9-11 AM & 3-5 PM)

- sessions are scheduled in 1/2 hr. increments 

- Classic Mini clients will also receive 20% off additional purchases!

- up to 6 people per mini session time slot (additional person, $25 each)

- session fee is due at booking to reserve your time slot

Sydney Seniors {Grass Valley, CA Senior Portrait Photographer}

This girl was a dream in front of the camera.  I could've taken her picture all day long...  

And this right here... well - it gives away just how behind I am with blogging sessions.  I debated not even blogging them - but these are too gorgeous to not be shared.  Better late than never, right? ;-)

To book a senior portrait session, go ahead and click HERE and I'll get back to you with details!  

10 minutes {write down your goals}

The secret to accomplishing what matters most to you is committing your goals to writing. 

 

According to this blog post, writing your goals down is important for five reasons:

1. It forces you to clarify what you want.

2. It motivates you to take action.

3.  It provides a filter for other opportunities.

4.  It helps you overcome resistance.

5. It enables you to see - and celebrate - your progress.

A good friend of mine said something life-changing yesterday, probably without even knowing it.  She's reading a book right now that said (in her own words) - if you take just ONE thing away from this book, let it be this: spend 10 minutes with your child each day.  In my opinion, this can apply to any relationship in your life - so feel free to substitute the word child with spouse, sister, etc.  Be warned though, there's a catch: these 10 minutes must be completely uninterrupted, non-distracted, not doing anything else but spending quality time and listening to that important person. 

I started crying just a little bit when she said it.  I *think* I played it cool by looking the other way and trying my best to swallow the ginormous lump in my throat - hopefully she didn't notice...  It felt a bit like a knife was going right through my heart and it stung.  It stung because I knew how beneficial it could be - and how little effort on my part it would take...  I mean, how easy should it be to spend 10 uninterrupted minutes a day with my kids?  And yet, I'm not doing it, at least not how I should - not how I want.  Remember when I talked about being present?  Let's just say I haven't been putting my money where my mouth is.  And this goes for many other "goals" I have - it's so easy to say I'm working on or towards something when I'm really not.  And least not with REAL intent.

So, I'm writing down my goals, and sharing them with you - you'll never guess what's at the top of the list... ;-)  I obviously need some accountability or something.  Geez!  Maybe you'd like to do the same?  You don't have to share them with the world, but maybe your best friend, spouse, mom, me?  I really believe this whole concept has merit.  When you write it down, it becomes more than just an idea floating around in your head, a good intention.  It becomes REAL.  Something to actually check off your list.  Something to go and DO. 

MY GOALS

1. Spend 10 minutes of quality time with each of my children (and husband!).

2.  Limit my phone/social media use.

3.  Smile more.

4.  Complain less.

5.  Get my big camera out more often.

6.  Be creative each day.

7.  Love (myself and others) more completely, forgive more freely.

8.  Serve daily.

9.  Yoga once a week.

10.  Pray with more intention.

11.  Travel, go adventuring, get outside!

 

Whew.  That felt good... I think.  Also a little bit scary and lot bit vulnerable.  But mostly good.  

Why don't you give it a try?

 

Present.

I'm lying on the living room floor listening to tales of deadly motorcycle crashes from Robbie while trucks fly past my head coming from Lucas on the other side of the room.  I ask him to please not throw metal objects and continue pointing out animals to Emma who is snuggled up next to me with her favorite book.  Mariah interjects from the dining room table with questions about the art project she's working on and I smile and tell her it looks great.  From an outsider's perspective I'm totally interacting with my kids.  But really, my mind is in about a billion other places.  "What should I make for dinner?" "Did I deposit that check?" "Wait, is basketball practice tonight or tomorrow night??" "Shoot, I need to send that email!"  I mean, with how much we have going on, it's almost impossible for our minds to not be constantly racing.  But it's alllllll good because I'm super awesome at multitasking, right?  Maybe that's not so true...

In an article titled 5 Steps for Being Present, it says:

"Contrary to popular belief, human beings cannot multitask. What we are capable of is handling a number of serial tasks in rapid succession, or mixing automatic tasks with those that are not so automatic.

So, how do we stay present? The first thing to recognize is that, try as we might, we really can only do one thing at a time, so we ought to do that thing wholeheartedly. Most of our time is spent in the past or the future, rather than the present moment. What we end up doing is passing through that moment on the way to somewhere else and, in doing so, we miss the moment. That's how life ends up passing us by - we do it to ourselves."

Wholeheartedly.  That word jumped out at me, probably because i just finished a book all about living a wholehearted life and what exactly that entails (totally recommend it - The Gifts of Imperfection).  When I think of living a wholehearted life, I think of children.  Their main concern at any given moment is doing exactly what makes them happy.  They're also quick to forgive and not embarrassed to get down in front of a crowd.  But what's best about kids (in my opinion) is that when they're with you, they're WITH you.  They're 100% present in every moment and mindful in all they do.  We can learn so much from them.

I'm clearly NOT an expert on being present (just re-read the first paragraph in case you were having doubts), however I have noticed a few things that have helped me to be more present with the people I love.  

#1: Get outside.  I don't know what it is, but being outside is like fresh air for not only your lungs, but your brain.  It gives clarity to the mind like nothing else.  I also think the act of getting OUT of the house, aka: the visual to-do list, makes being present that much easier.  And don't even get me started on the sun... Two words: free therapy.  

#2: Put your phone down.  It seems like a given, but sadly I have to remind myself to do this way more often than I'd like to admit.  When you're with someone and you're focused on your phone, you're telling them that your phone is more important than they are.  Technology can be awesome when it comes to connecting with people we care about, but nothing creates a more powerful connection than being completely with the ones we love. 

#3: Play.  This one is HARD for me.  Honestly, it usually feels like a big, fat waste of time.  I mean, there's always SO much that needs to be done!!!!!!  But in reality, it's the best possible thing you can do with your time - and one that will have the biggest payoff.    Playing is anything you do just for FUN.  When my sisters and I get together we love to go yelling.  We basically just yell like crazy people out of car windows and make ourselves look like idiots.  It's completely pointless, and also SO. MUCH. FUN.  Don't worry - I won't make you come yelling with me - there are plenty of other non-embarrassing ways to have fun...  Like hopping on the trampoline with your kids or playing tag at the park (always WAY more fun than expected), or maybe crafting with your best friend or planning a game night with a few other couples.  It can be as simple as breaking out that sudoku notepad in your nightstand and going to town...  Whatever it is, allow yourself to have FUN - because when you're having fun, you're living in the present.  

#4:  Look them in the eyes.  Sounds a little creepy, but it works.  When my kids or husband are talking to me, I try to stop what I'm doing (within reason) and look them in the eyes.  Not only does it let them know I think they're important and I care about what they're about to tell me, it helps me to focus and be present with them and really hear what they have to say. 

And that's it!  Four very simple little tricks that have helped (and continue to help) me strive (key word here - it's an ongoing process) to be more present in life and with the people I love.  What helps you to be present?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!  

<3

Happy Place

Hello.... it's me.  It's been a while.  Like, a LONG while.  I have lots of really good excuses as to why it's been so long, but does it really matter?  Probably not - so I'll just begin with now.  

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I've been on a reading binge lately.  This crazy desire to learn and develop myself as a human has hit me HARD - possibly stemmed from the responsibility of inspiring and guiding my kids to develop themselves into awesomely accountable and contributing humans (I homeschool part-time)?  I was reading the book Dare Dream Do by Whitney Johnson when I had a total "ah ha!" moment.  I realized that BDP hasn't been a true representation of me and what I feel I have to offer the world.  I haven't been sharing my passions and I feel like there's so much more I want to say/do/explore/etc.  It hasn't been deep.  It hasn't been REAL.  At that moment, I had this sort of intangible vision of what I wanted to create...  So I stopped everything and wrote down the thoughts that were suddenly flooding my mind.  This is what I jotted down:

PHOTOGRAPHY -   COOKING   -   HOMESCHOOL   -   ART   -   MOTHERHOOD   -   HELPFUL TIPS/TRICKS   -   GARDENING   -   YOGA   -   MUSIC   -   FUNNY   -   LIFE   -   REAL   -   PARENTING   -   JOURNAL   -   GOALS   -   raw

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What that all means, I'm not completely sure yet but I'm slowly refining and pondering on my thoughts and trying to figure out how to pull it all together.  And I have a feeling it's gonna be pretty awesome.  

Art is my absolute favorite thing to do with my kiddos, aside from exploring in the sunshine.  It's my Happy Place and for some reason, I'm just now coming to this realization (my oldest is eleven).  Watching them express themselves freely, get creative and think outside the box and then stand back and admire their work makes my heart sing.  And selfishly I love doing it alongside them.  

The thing about art though, is that it's MESSY.  So very messy.  And messes kind of stress me out.  I try to be all cool and laid back, but they seriously stress me out - although you'd never guess it if you showed up at my house on any given day unannounced.  So even though it truly is my Happy Place - it takes a decent amount of effort on my part to give into the mess and let it be an awesomely enjoyable experience for everyone.  And so I make the effort because I can so clearly see the benefits my kids (and I) reap from being unleashed with paint and a brush. 

I believe we all have an inner desire to create.  When I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (SO good.  Get it now.) it solidified my feelings on this topic.  She says, "The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born out of creativity.  If we want to make meaning, we need to make art.  Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared."  She goes on to list several examples of creativity (writing, cooking, rebuilding an engine, dancing, decorating...).  "As long as we're creating, we're cultivating meaning."

And so that's my mission.  To cultivate my creativity, which will in turn give life meaning and depth - as well as fulfill that inner desire of mine to create... and maybe even as an added bonus - inspire others to do the same?!  I want to dig deep down and discover what exactly it is that I have to contribute to the world, or maybe even more importantly, what I'm supposed to contribute to the world.  I'm seeing so clearly lately that time is out of our control.  It flies by without a second thought and before we know it, a season has passed.  A child has grown.  A memory, forgotten.  A chance, lost.  And because of this - everything we do matters.  Every single choice we make.  Every precious minute.  

So here's to a new year, to getting REAL, to cultivating creativity and to making every moment count!!  Let's do this!!

 

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Things I <3 Thursdays {Carmelitas aka: The Best Thing You'll Ever Eat}

It all begins with a little caramel...  And with a touch of magic - the Carmelita is born.  It's such a beautiful thing.

Oh you think I'm exaggerating?  Absolutely not.  Just trust me on this one.  However, these are not healthy in any way (unless you count the whole wheat flour!) so eat in moderation, if you can.   I don't have any self control when it comes to delicious desserts, so whatever.  

Put your kids/husband/roommate/grandma to work unwrapping caramel candies.  It takes a surprisingly long time to unwrap 32 of those little things.  Put them in a small sauce pan and add in your heavy cream.  

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Yeah.  I told you they weren't healthy.  Just wait.  It gets better.

Put this over low heat and stir frequently until smooth.

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Meanwhile, grab your butter - a stick and half to be exact - gulp - and pop it in the microwave to melt.  

Mix the brown sugar, flour, rolled oats and baking soda in with the melted butter.

Mix until combined.

I use white whole wheat flour just to make me feel a *little* bit better after I eat my fifth square...  But any kind of flour will do. ;-)

Grab an 8x8 pan and spray with non-stick spray or grease with butter.  Might as well just use the butter.  I mean, really.

Press oatmeal mixture into 8x8 pan, creating the "crust".

Pop it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

How's your caramel mixture doing?  Don't forget to stir!  It should go from looking kind of lumpy like this:

... to creamy and smooth.  Take it off the heat and try not to drink it from the pan.

Take your crust out of the oven and get excited because here's where it starts getting really good...

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Sprinkle some chocolate chips over the crust.

I'm so obsessed with mini chocolate chips lately...  Just look at them - they're adorable.

Now grab that caramel that may or may not have a few spoonfuls missing... It's okay, you're only human.  Pour it over the chocolate chips like so:

Are you excited yet?  Yeah, me too.

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Now take the other half of the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle over the top of the caramel.  Pop it back in the oven for another 15 ish minutes until edges are lightly browned.

And now, for the hardest part of all: let it cool.  Trust me - do not get impatient and try to cut these before they are COMPLETELY cooled.  It's a mess.  A huge, sticky, delicious mess.  

In my opinion, they're best cold - straight from the fridge.  Just let them sit about 5 minutes. Perfection.

De nada.

 

-----------  CARMELITAS  ------------

32 CARAMEL SQUARES, UNWRAPPED (DUH)

1/2 CUP HEAVY CREAM

3/4 CUP BUTTER, MELTED

3/4 CUP BROWN SUGAR, PACKED

1 CUP WHITE WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR

1 CUP ROLLED (OLD FASHIONED) OATS

1 TEAS. BAKING SODA

6 OZ. SEMISWEET CHOCOLATE CHIPS (PREFERABLY MINI.  I'M KIDDING.  BUT SERIOUSLY.)

COMBINE CARAMELS AND SCREAM IN SMALL SAUCEPAN OVER LOW HEAT.  STIR UNTIL COMPLETELY SMOOTH; SET ASIDE.  IN A SEPERATE BOWL, COMBINE MELTED BUTTER, BROWN SUGAR, FLOUR, OATS AND BAKING SODA.  PAT HALF OF OATMEAL MIXTURE INTO THE BOTTOM OF A GREASED 8X8 PAN.  BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 10 MINUTES.  REMOVE PAN FROM OVEN AND SPRINKLE CHOCOLATE CHIPS OVER CRUST.  POUR CARAMEL MIXTURE OVER CHOCOLATE CHIPS.  CRUMBLE REMAINING OATMEAL MIXTURE OVER CARAMEL.  RETURN TO OVEN FOR AN ADDITIONAL 15-20 MINUTES, UNTIL EDGES ARE SLIGHTLY BROWNED.  REMOVE FROM OVEN AND COOL COMPLETELY BEFORE CUTTING.  ENTER HEAVEN.

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Things I <3 Thursday {Drop Everything}

My oldest - Mariah, is notorious for refusing to have her picture taken.  So when she came to me the other day and said, "Mom, do you think you could take some pictures of me and put them on your website?" I tried to remain calm and quickly and maybe loudly answered "Yes!!"  I dropped everything, grabbed my camera, threw one of Emma's headbands in her {wild} hair, some lipgloss on her lips and headed outside.  I was NOT about to pass up an opportunity to take pictures of my {not so} little girl.

She has the absolute best sense of humor and a smile that's contagious.  She's an observer, but yet always the life of the party.  

She is super artistic and creative - always coming up with new inventions and possible business ventures.  I'll often find her hidden somewhere writing a quick graphic novel or poem.  She loves exploring, nature, animals, science and almost every sport out there.

I'm watching her turn into a young lady right before my eyes and it's almost incomprehensible.  I mean, wasn't it just the other day that she started walking?  

But best of all, Mariah always knows the exact moment when I need her most.  She comforts me with an unexpected hug, a helping hand or wise words of advice.  Sometimes I think she teaches me more than I teach her.  Wait - let me rephrase that: I know she teaches me more than I'll ever be able to teach her.  

And last, but not least - the completely staged "bad ninja guy chasing an innocent screaming girl" shot because Robbie was patiently waiting for his turn to choose a picture.  This also highlights just one more awesome thing about Mariah - that {most of the time} she can hang with her brother's wild games and ideas!!

I love you baby girl.  Thanks for letting me take pictures of you - let's do it again soon.  <3