Quit Screwing Up Your Pictures


Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova

I’ve wasted a lot of time and money trying to learn how to take great pictures.

This entailed the painstaking hours of learning how to use my digital camera solely in manual, taking photography classes, buying fancy-dancy cameras, lenses, computers, and editing software, bugging my photographer friends for advice, and finding time to learn how to use Lightroom.

The latter is still a work in progress.

I recently attended an awesome mentoring session with the oh-so talented Justin DeMutiis of Justin Demutiis Photography, and learned more in our two hours together than I learned in the last year of “figuring it out on my own.” I learn by doing, and I think it’s important to spend the time with a photographer actually walking you through the steps on how to edit versus reading an instruction manual or relying on Youtube.

While being able to edit pictures serves as the icing on the cake, no amount of editing will fix a crappy picture that has a bad foundation. Here are some of Justin’s top ten things to avoid if you want a great shot.

Letting the camera do the work. Avoid relying on the camera’s automatic settings. While using aperture priority is very useful and widely used by professional photographers in fast moving situations, by putting the camera on full auto, you relinquish creative control. (My note: I never thought I’d be able to figure out automatic settings, but I did, and it’s easy).
Leaving distracting elements in the frame – This can be odd trees, plants, water bottles, etc. It’s worth the extra few minutes to clear an area before shooting, or a few extra seconds of looking through the viewfinder to create a clean composition.

Putting the subject dead center in the frame. If you hand the average person a cell phone and ask them to take a picture of you and a friend, chances are, your heads will be in the center of the frame. This is much more manageable in the age of Instagram, but for vertical portraits, it is more pleasing for heads and eyes to be in the top third of the frame.

Shooting with a lens that is too wide. Cell phones generally have wide lenses, professional portraits photographer generally shoot with longer and more flattering lenses.

Taking too many images and/or not spending enough time on a single image. With babies and children, it is vital that you know your equipment and never stop shooting. You never know when the perfect moment will happen. With older children who take direction well, you will not feel as much pressure to go on autopilot and put the camera in burst mode. If you have a loose game-plan, a beautiful location and beautiful light, you can take a few additional moments to pay close attention to the details, perfect a pose, and create a overall pleasing image.

Moving slowly with kids. The above being said, it’s important to be prepared to move swiftly with children. If you take too long or give too much direction, it will be very challenging to capture a genuine moment or expression.

Tiny Prints - Up to 30% Off

Being unspontaneous. With many great moments, it is necessary to just step back and let the moment happen.

Being unwilling to get up close and personal. Notwithstanding the above, if a newborn baby is sleeping, for example, getting closer can often be better. By simply getting closer, you can often eliminate distractions and emphasize your subject.

Being unreceptive to light. Light is ever changing, but many new photographers do not take the time to learn to “see” the light. When I search for locations to shoot, I first look for the light, then a pleasing background, and lastly I consider the pose. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Light is the first of painters”.

Lack of Patience. With photography, practice really does make perfect. Don’t get frustrated when you don’t like your product and, instead, find ways to improve it. Here are examples of Justin’s work, all of which are being published with his permission:

Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova
Justin’s first glimpse of becoming a professional photographer came as college freshman. He became one of eight college students in North America to win a scholarship to attend the North American Nature Photography Association’s annual summit, for which he owes his style. Not long after, he found his true calling in wedding photography, a place where all his technical skills seamlessly blend with so many things he loves. To Justin, nothing compares to providing a timeless set of images that tells the story of one of the most important and happiest days of two people’s lives.

If you are interested in a setting up a photo shoot or mentoring session with Justin, please contact him at 813-229-5960.

Tips on how to take great pictures | The Champagne Supernova

Cheers!

    Bachelorette Parties in Vegas when You’re a Mom and Over 30


    Vegas

    As the self-proclaimed “head honcho” in the bridal party for my younger sister’s upcoming wedding, I had only one stipulation: that she could never refer to me as the “Matron of Honor.” I don’t care that I’ve been married for five years and have two kids, I don’t want to ever be referred to as a Matron. It’s geriatric, grotesque, and carries a connotation that makes me think of a lonely spinster, sitting in a rocking chair, holding a cat. Given that stipulation, I had to agree to accommodate her wishes of planning her bachelorette party in Vegas. “Oh hey… I have a full time job, two kids, a husband, and live on the opposite side of the country… THIS SHOULD BE EASY TO PLAN.” Well… with the help of her amazing friends and some eager-beaver club promoters, it was a BLAST. Here are some of the highlights.

    Vegas7

    Me and the Bride-to-Be.

    Vegas1

    The girls on Night 1 at Hakkasan for dinner.

    Vegas4Steve Aoki was the guest DJ at Hakkasan night club… I never heard of him before, but apparently his trademark is to throw cakes in peoples’ faces. He switched to champagne.

    Vegas

    The ladies on Night 2 at Blue Ribbon Sushi inside our hotel at The Cosmopolitan. This was after a wild day at Lavo for the Party Brunch. This is a must-do for any bachelorette party in Vegas.

    If you ever want to feel like an incredible dancer, come dance next to me. After all, what happens in Vegas goes on the internet:

    Vegas3

    In terms of recommendations, the only place I wasn’t crazy about was Blue Ribbon Sushi. The waiter forgot about my wine order and the staff was slow. We were originally supposed to have dinner at Tao but switched our reservation when we arrived at the hotel at 6pm after brunch and didn’t want to trek back across the strip to The Venetian for dinner.

    Another BIG bachelorette party recommendation is to not go to Vegas with a group of more than 8 people. We had 8 and were maxxed out in terms of filling the hotel rooms, being able to get reservations at a restaurant, getting taxis, and getting into the clubs. Adding even one more person to the mix would have complicated things. Eighteen people came to New Orleans for my bachelorette party and that was ten too many. Everyone ended up getting divided into groups (college friends, high school friends, law school friends, etc.), and because of the size, I couldn’t get to have “quality” time with very many of them.  Lesson learned for my next bachelorette party (haha).

    What are your recommendations for Vegas? Do you have any favorite places?

      The Art of the Appropriate Hug


       

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      I recently had a humiliating hugging encounter at a Christmas party that left me sweating when it was over. While engaged in conversation with the hostess, I spotted a young woman  who my peripheral vision conned me into believing was the hostess’s sister, whom I’ve met several times. After my conversation with the hostess was over, I went in to hug the “sister” and realized, once it was too late, that it wasn’t the “sister,” and rather a girl I briefly met at the hostess’s baby shower a few months back and exchanged- maybe- two sentences with. She probably thought I was a lunatic and wondered why I was hugging her- she may not have even remembered me from the shower and figured I was just crazy and awkward. She politely proceeded with the hug, which was the one-armed-pat-on-the-back-no-frontal-contact-haphazard-hug and I desperately tried to play off the situation and pretend that hugging her was normal and intentional.

      Is hugging generally awkward? Not for me, because I love hugging. However, I occasionally forget that some people are finicky about not wanting weird people to touch them. Like me. To prevent future snafus, I contacted Myka Meier, an old college friend who founded and directs her own international etiquette company, Beaumont Etiquette.

      According to Myka, the key to determining how you should greet someone depends on the formality of your relationship. That being said, there are a few general etiquette rules to help the greeting process become [slightly] easier to manage:

      HACH: Social Code to Hugging (rated by formality level, with 4 being most formal occasion)

      Handshake – Right hand to right hand (4)

      Air Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, but lips never actually touch the other person’s skin (avoid the lipstick smudge!) (3)

      Cheek Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, however you may actually kiss lips to cheek (2)

      Hug – Full embrace (most intimate…not for everyone) (1)

      1. Social acquaintances (i.e. someone you have met a handful of times, but wouldn’t necessarily consider a friend). HACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “When meeting an acquaintance for the first time, I would recommend shaking hands. After the initial meeting, for men, I typically advise they continue to shake hands with other men and give an air kiss to women. After a woman initially meets someone, an air kiss to either a man or woman is an elegant yet informal way to show recognition. If a woman puts out her hand to a social acquaintance after meeting them previously, it’s perceived that she does not recognize them (which is offensive) or does not care to be more than acquaintances (which is doubly offensive). If you felt a mutual (key word) connection (no matter the sex) or share close friends, after the first meeting a hug may feel most comfortable and is fully appropriate.”

      2. FriendsHACH LEVEL RATING 2/1 “A handshake might be perceived as cold and unfriendly to a person who you consider a friend. Therefore, a hug or cheek kiss is typically most appropriate. When greeting both friends and family, some prefer to give a “pat hug” or the “shake hug” which is a combination of a pat on the back and hug or handshake and hug…which show mutual affection while not being too intimate. All are appropriate, depending on comfort level.”

      3. Family membersHACH LEVEL RATING 1 “Hugs (and in some families, kisses) are considered the most common form of greeting family. That being said, determining whether to kiss may depend on the formality of the family situation or relationships.” [Note that is strictly the author’s personal opinion: if you are related to someone and opt to kiss them as a greeting, you definitely need to avoid this regardless of your gender, race, and culture].

      4. Professional colleaguesHACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “Hugging at work is not recommended. If done, especially to someone of the opposite sex or between superiors and subordinates, it can cause many issues. I would advise to always stay formal and professional by greeting with a handshake. Pending the industry you work in (and if you know a colleague extremely well) and feel it would be awkward to shake hands, an air kiss may be more appropriate.”

      5. The bossHACH LEVEL RATING 4 “Generally speaking, you should remain respectful and professional by shaking hands. That being said, as a superior rule, always follow the lead of the person more senior or powerful. If your boss attempts to hug you, it would be awkward to put out your hand.”

      6. Your subordinate (i.e- your assistant). HACH LEVEL RATING 4 “No matter the sex of the subordinate, stay professional. Hugging subordinates can cause employees to undermine rank and therefore often respect, can cause the relationship to lose professionalism, and even be seen as sexual harassment.”

      Miscellaneous Considerations:

      Is it okay to hug some people and shake hands with others when greeting a group? “Yes. If there are two people you’ve met before and two you have not, I would still recommend shaking hands upon first meeting.”

      Is it okay to hug a client? “Treat the client the same as your boss. Always be respectful and professional, yet follow their lead.”

      Do the rules differ depending on the situation (ie- holiday party or running into them at a concert/ purely social function)? “The rules always stay the same. If you bump into your boss at a concert, there are many ways to make the greeting more casual while still maintaining appropriate measures. For instance, you can show warmth by smiling and verbalizing pleasure to see them “Hello XX, It’s so lovely to bump into you out of the office”… It will show you’re not in your normal professional bubble while still remaining in line with your position at work.”

      Is there any person who is always off limits to hug? “Yes. Royalty.”

      Caution: “When traveling, make sure you know the hugging/kissing customs in country you’re going to… i.e. London is two cheek kisses (one on each side) and Switzerland is three kisses: right, left, right; and in some countries the religion prohibits you from hugging.”

      Myka Meier is the Founder and Director of Beaumont Etiquette, a distinguished and modern consultancy that offers courses in British, Continental European, and American etiquette to adults and youth. She is accepting private and corporate bookings in Florida between March 23 and March 29, 2015. For more information, please contact Myka at info@beaumontetiquette.com.

      Myka

        Mothers: Go to the Dark Side with your Daughters


        Back Alone

        Teenage girls can be cruel, but pre-school age girls can be pretty darn cruel as well. I recently took my two year old, Arden, for a play date at a park with three other moms who all have four year old daughters. The four year old girls were friends since birth, regularly spent time together, and their moms considered them to be best friends. When I arrived at the park, I was appalled by what I saw. The girls were acting plain evil, saying things to each other like “I hate you,” “you’re ugly,” and I even witnessed one girl spit on another. Yes, spit. It’s critical to mention that these girls’ mothers are kind, religious, educated women- not the type that I ordinarily would have stereotyped as raising children who behave this way. The mothers were frustrated and intolerant of this behavior, routinely separating their daughters and threatening to leave the park if it continued.

        This was my first dose of pre-school “Mean Girls” and it was daunting. I realize girls can be mean to each other, but never would have imagined it starting as early as four (and from what I’ve heard, even earlier). When I was in fourth grade, a fifth grade girl named Dana bullied me. My maiden name is Daku (pronounced Day-koo) and when I would walk into the school cafeteria for lunch, Dana would loudly and repeatedly chant in front of all the other kids, “Eeeew, It’s Daku.” It was mortifying. That was 25 years ago, and I still remember the feeling that overcame me when the clock struck “lunchtime” and I knew I’d be ridiculed on my way to the table. We’ve all had a Dana in our life, and at some point, we’ve probably been a Dana. The point is that you don’t easily forget the crappy way our Danas made us feel.

        Back to the playground. Arden was unaffected by the Mean Girls, and was playing in a sand box with another child who was closer to her age. I watched her as she played and became consumed with her innocence because, at two, she doesn’t know the pain of being hurt or rejected. She only knows that she prefers to sleep with Mommy and Daddy, get goldfish crackers in her lunch, and wear her Minnie Mouse nightgown to bed.

        Weeks after this play date, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Mean Girls and the reality that my daughters will eventually face the heartbreak of rejection.  I wanted to know the best way to address the pain that they- and I- would feel when they were excluded from the lunch table, didn’t make cuts for a sports team, or weren’t invited to a birthday party. What would I say? What would I do? How would I be able to protect them? I combed over this issue for a solution ad nauseam with girlfriends who have young daughters and nobody could offer an easy answer other than “they’ll grow out of it.”

        I think somebody else figured out the solution.  A couple years ago, I stumbled upon Brene Brown, Ph.D. while watching a TED Talk about the power of vulnerability. Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston who studies vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness. In her recent book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, she completely nailed the “what to do when my daughter is rejected” issue. Nailed. It. The solution is to sit with your daughter in the dark.

        In the book, Brene’s adolescent daughter came home from school feeling hurt after repeatedly being one of the last kids picked for soccer teams at recess. Her daughter advised, “two popular kids are the captains and they pick teams… after all the cool kids are named, the popular kids decide to split the others. I’m always one of the others. I never get to be named.” As her daughter sat in her unlit bedroom crying, Brene resisted the urge to turn on the lights to alleviate her own discomfort and, instead, sat with her in the literal and emotional dark. She put her hand around her daughter’s shoulder and said, “I know what it’s like to be the other.” Brene and her daughter went on to connect about some of Brene’s own experiences in life when otherness was both powerful and painful. Fast forward several pages, Brene’s daughter used Brene’s example of empathy to connect with Brene when she was featured as one of “The Others” on a publicity poster for a speaking engagement. This opportunity for connection would have been lost if Brene wouldn’t have first sat with her daughter in the dark.

        In our own lives, events like these are critical because they become “teaching moments” for our children to learn about the power of compassion and connection. Brene easily could have done what I likely would have done in a similar situation, which is to dismiss her daughter’s feelings by saying something to the tune of “if so-and-so isn’t picking you for the soccer team, then play tennis with so-and-so instead.” Or maybe I would have said, “it doesn’t matter what they think…” Or perhaps I would have instinctively regurgitated the biggest load of garbage that our parents told us about sticks and stones breaking our bones.

        It will be easy if my daughters end up being resilient and unfazed by rejection, but if they are not, I don’t want to make them feel wrong or invalidated for caring. I don’t want to make them feel silly for not immediately “getting over it.” I want to help them understand that rejection is something that everybody faces. I hope there never is a “dark” for my daughters, but if and when there is, I dang sure am going to sit with them in it.

        What are effective ways you’ve dealt with your children facing rejection?

          Beautiful Skin: Beyond the Knife and the Needle


          Botox

          Turning thirty was bad. Turning thirty-three was worse. Not having college students think I was “one of them” at a restaurant at my alma mater after a recent football game was the Grand Poobah of all things awful.

          The combination of having a stressful career, spending years laying in the Florida sun after dousing myself with baby oil, and drinking five cups of coffee a day has taken a toll on my skin. I’ve resisted Botox, mainly because of an irrational fear of needles triggered by a bad vaccination experience when I was four years old. I’ve also resisted Botox because “old lady face” beats “crazy lady face” any day of the week, and a bad Botox job can be spotted a million miles away. In an effort to postpone resorting to the knife or the needle, I reached out to my long-time girlfriend, Dana Hess, who is a Physician’s Assistant at a Tampa dermatology practice. Dana and I met in college when I was assigned as her recruitment counselor when she was participating in sorority rush at the University of Florida. We’ve stayed friends ever since, and she was kind enough to give me skin advice after I had my second baby and was ready to tackle pre-pregnancy skin problems. Here’s her input on how to have gorgeous skin without breaking the bank:

          Best Drugstore Product: It’s important to have a good cleanser that removes dirt, oil, and make-up. For people with dry or sensitive skin, I recommend Cetaphil. People with normal skin can use a variety such as Neutrogena.  For oily skin, I recommend a cleanser with salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena pore refining cleanser. It is vital to wash your face (and wash it well!) before going to bed. Do not skip it. Your skin will thank you in the morning.

          Best Over-the-Counter Product: Good sunscreen! Not all sunscreen is created equal. The active ingredients I look for are zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide because they physically block the sun. The pricier sunscreens micronize these minerals so they are clear when applied, as opposed to “baby” sunscreens and the 1980s zinc oxide that is thick, white and pasty. I like LaRoche Posay sunscreen and EltaMD, the latter we carry at my office. Sunscreen should be worn daily, especially in hot climates! I know, I know, “you work in an office and don’t go outside.” Put it on regardless! Sun exposure is cumulative from birth, meaning that your skin does not forget each time you are exposed.

          Best “Splurge” Product: My favorite splurge product is from ZO, which is Dr. Obagi’s new line of products. It is called Daily Power Defense and it should be worn daily prior to sunscreen. It contains DNA repair enzymes, antioxidants, retinol, and ceramides to help repair dry, irritated skin. There are a few key reasons I am a big fan of this product. Evironmental factors such as allergans, pollutants, and sun can cause free radicals, which are small enough to get into our pores and begin to break down collagen. This product helps repair and restore skin barrier function by protecting and repairing damaged DNA. Even women with sensitive skin can use this product. I have not had one patient say their skin cannot tolerate it. You want to begin using this product in your 20s, 30s, or 40s, and it’s worth the hefty price tag.

          Best Out-of-the-Box Pointers:  When applying sunscreen, I always include my chest, if exposed, before applying the remainder on the backs of both hands. Nobody wants brown spots on the backs of their hands. I am also a huge fan of my Clarisonic. I can physically see the difference when using my Clarisonic to wash my face versus when I don’t use it. You can find them on sale frequently and there are many knock off competitors which I am sure do the job just as well. Many women also notice the first signs of aging to the delicate skin around the eyes, so I think a good eye cream can be paramount. If you have puffiness and dark circles, I like Teamine Eye Complex by Revision skincare, and if you have fine lines and crepiness, I like ZO Intense Eye Repair.

          Best Way to Achieve “Red Carpet Skin” without Needles: I am a big fan of undergoing chemical peels a couple times a year, such as after summer and mid spring. A chemical peel is great for uneven skin tone/hyperpigmentation, acne, pores, bad texture. In order to keep skin healthy, you need cell turnover and exfoliation, both of which a chemical peel can provide. You do need to pick a time where you don’t mind your skin peeling for a few days, typically the second or third day after the peel. We also have several lasers to address fine lines, deeper wrinkles, texture, scarring, pigmentation. Come and see me for a VISIA skin analysis and we can get a treatment plan that’s specific to your needs. Skin care is not “one size fits all.”

          Dana Hess is a Physician’s Assistant at South Tampa Dermatology. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two daughters. (And she’s so much fun and an awesome friend!)

          Dana

           

            The Lady Who Saved My Sanity: The Mother’s Helper


            How to find a mother's helper | The Champagne Supernova

            Our beloved Aba

            This is Josephine, but we call her “Aba,” short for Abuela, which means Grandmother in Spanish. She joined our family in August of 2014 and what followed included a heaping wad of sanity for all four of us.

            I could barely get myself dressed, out of the house, and to work on time when I had zero children. I definitely couldn’t do those things when I had one child. When I was pregnant with our second, I knew we needed to find someone to help get us out of the house in the morning. I didn’t want valuable after-work time with my kids to be consumed with the stress of coming home, getting unpacked, making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning up from dinner, washing bottles, and getting ready to do it all over again the next day. Enter Aba.

            Aba is what I call a “Mother’s Helper.” I definitely think I coined this phrase because Lord knows Google had no clue what I was looking for when I was on the internet frantically looking for one during my last few weeks of maternity leave. Aba arrives at our house each weekday morning at 7 am and leaves a couple hours later at 10. In that timeframe, she washes bottles, makes lunch for both girls, does our laundry, makes the beds, and has dinner ready and waiting for us when we arrive home.

            If I had to come home and do these things after working a full day, it would not be pretty. I’m positive I would be sobbing in a corner while rocking back and forth in fetal position, angry at the world.

            Lots of parents do this on their own, I get it. But this is my one “splurge” for myself.

            Not only is Aba helpful, but she is a joy to spend our mornings with and she treats my daughters like they are her own children. She genuinely cares for them and will often call or text to see how they are doing when they are sick.

            Best of all, she’s able to watch them for the day when they are too sick to go to school and my husband and I have obligations at work that are difficult to miss. Aba’s gotten us out of many a work bind, as we don’t have local family who can cover for us in an eleventh-hour emergency.

            Being a parent is really hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a ton of balls in the air- to include a marriage, career, hobbies, obligations, and friendships. This isn’t limited to working moms. I’ve (temporarily) experienced the struggle of staying home with kids and man, it’s exhausting. While having Aba has required us to sacrifice between buying fancy “stuff” or keeping her around, just knowing that I can come home from work and legitimately play with the girls without being taunted by the laundry demons makes her worth every red cent.

            What are things you’ve done to simplify your life in order to enjoy time with your children? Do you have any “outside the box” tips to share with busy moms who need extra help?

            Cheers to simplifying your life!

              Great Hair: Streamlining Your Daily Routine


              I have naturally frizzy hair. Its texture is best compared to a fresh-out-of-the-sink-Brillo-pad. I used to have the time to blow it out every day and get it colored every 8 weeks, but that ship has sailed. Enter Ellie Wambold, my hair guru. Last year, I hosted a girls’ night at my house where Ellie came and educated me and some friends on how to have our hair look great without spending a lot of time on it. That night improved my life, and I wanted to share the highlights (pun intended) of it with you!

              Ellie has been in the hair business for over a decade and has hundreds of clients. According to Ellie, “when it comes to coloring, we just don’t have the time to get our hair done every few weeks anymore.” She loves that the low-maintenance balayage, ombre, and sombre looks that were once considered “trendy” are here to stay. “Most of my clients that color this way can go 3-6 months, and sometimes a year, before needing to recolor. This saves them time and money.”

              Tips:  Wash your hair every other day or every other third day to save time. If you have oily hair, no fear: after three weeks, your glands will become accustomed to not having your hair washed daily and you will end up with shinier, healthier hair. Plus, you’ll save money on beauty products. (Dry shampoo will be really important to ensure your roots don’t look like the Exxon Valdez… more details below). Pinterest and The Beauty Department web sites are great resources for achieving new looks and usually contain tutorials for how to do your own hair.

              Products I Can’t Live Without: Dry Shampoo. It saves tons of time and does a good job of absorbing oils. (Note: I’ve tried almost every brand and find that TRESemme works the best and is the least expensive.) Another great product is a 1″ wand or curling iron because you can tame frizzy hair by smoothing the hair and curling it away from your face, even if you go to bed with wet hair and don’t want to blow it dry the next morning. I also love Bumble and Bumble “Prep” Detangler. This works well to freshen the ends of your hair on days you don’t blow dry.

              Day 1: Blow out your hair with a round brush. To do this, you will want to blow dry your hair with your hands pulling at the roots to create height and volume. When your hair is almost 100% dry, take 2-3 sections with clips and a round brush. Make sure you use the flat nozzle that came with your blow dryer so you don’t fry your hair. (See the illustration below courtesy of Lauren Conrad and The Beauty Department).

              TBDperfblowout2

              Day 2: Spray dry shampoo on your roots. Curl your hair in spiral-style curls away from your face. Wait 10 minutes after the curls have cooled. By this time, the dry shampoo has had time to suck up the oils. Now, message the dry shampoo into the roots, shake your head upside down, and voila… you have great hair! The photographs and instructions below were found on Pinterest.

              fakeblowout

              Day 3: The high bun. First, pull your hair to the top of your head in a high ponytail. Second, tease the ponytail, and lastly, slightly comb your hair out before wrapping it around your head into a messy bun and secure with bobby pins. The key is to put the bobby in with the grooves facing down. (I’ve been doing it wrong all these years and wondering why the bobby pins weren’t holding my hair in place). The photograph is courtesy of Pinterest.

              TopKnot

               

              Ellie

              Ellie Wambold is an independent stylist at Mint Hair Lounge in Tampa. Make an appointment with her by email: Ellie@hairbyellie.com.  She enjoys being a successful business woman, nature, the peacefulness of the ocean, and spending time at playgrounds with her spunky, creative three-year-old daughter.

              I think we’re all guilty of committing mortal hair sins at some point in our lives. Mine was going platinum. This lasted until around 2009, and I look back on pictures of me and wonder where on Earth my friends were to tell me how horrible it looked. It was difficult to even delineate between where my forehead ended and my hair started. See the photo below- I’m the girl whose hair matches the house behind me.

              jenplatinum

              Bad, bad, bad. What is your mortal hair sin? Also, what are some of your favorite tricks for streamlining your morning routine?

                Stop Prefacing your Statements and Start Owning Them


                 

                I cringe when I see it on my social media newsfeed. Awesome, educated, intelligent people who feel the need to preface their status updates about a controversial or potentially unpopular subject with “I don’t usually post about <religion/ politics/ race relations/ gender equality/ my expensive new car/ superstitious chain mail> but…” This little phrase appears most frequently during election seasons, but I’ve seen it in a variety of other situations.

                I think people use this preface for different reasons. It’s because they think it serves as an advance apology for writing something that others might find offensive. It’s because they think their readers will give more credence to their opinion about the subject because of their usual silence. It’s because they want to lighten the blow of the statements that follow. Or, it’s because they’re unnecessarily verbose.

                Stop it already. Just stop.

                If you want to make a statement about something (without being plain unkind), then own that statement! You are entitled to present your complete opinions without an advance caveat. Without the preface. There is nothing more powerful than hearing (or reading) someone speak from the heart.

                  Girlfriend Traditions


                  I love my college girlfriends. They are the ones who have seen me at my best and worst, and still choose to be my friend anyway. I met a core group of college girlfriends through a combination of living in the dorms and my sorority pledge class. These are the girls who ironed my hair- literally with an iron- before I discovered the Helen of Troy straightener (even before there was Chi). We lived together, went on Spring Break together, and were in each other’s weddings. Unfortunately, we all live far away and found it hard to get together once we started our careers, got married, and had children.

                  Melissa lives in San Francisco, has two children, and works in sales.
                  Stephanie lives in Washington, D.C. and juggles her career as a research consultant with her packed social calendar.
                  Emily lives in Orlando, has a toddler, and is an elementary school teacher.
                  Amanda lives in Fort Lauderdale, has two children, and is a physician’s assistant.

                  In 2010, we started the tradition of meeting in a different city for an annual girls’ trip. In 2013, we made an exception and had a family trip, which included children and significant others. We canned that idea the following year because it was difficult to have meaningful “girl time” when we were busy changing diapers and trying to prevent our toddlers from drowning in the pool. So far, we have gone to Newport, Boston, Dallas, Sarasota, and Orlando. My favorite location has been Newport because it’s a historic and “walkable” city where you don’t need a taxi to get around. There were plenty of restaurants and shops within walking distance from the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed. Our inner nerds convinced us to tour Rough Point, one of Newport’s many mansions, and the former home of philanthropist and tobacco heiress, Doris Duke. This mansion tour was the inspiration behind my daughter’s name. The first time I ever heard the name Arden was when the tour guide said it was the name of Doris Duke’s only daughter, and I loved it so much that it became my first daughter’s name (beating out Harper and Channing, but I digress…)

                  GirlsNewport
                  The Girls (and a guy friend) in Newport in 2010.

                  GirlsBoston
                  The Girls in Boston in 2011. I was five months pregnant with my first daughter.

                  GirlsDallas
                  The Girls in Dallas in 2012. Melissa couldn’t travel because of pregnancy complications and it wasn’t the same without her.

                  GirlsOrlando
                  The Girls in Winter Park, Florida, in 2014.

                  What are your favorite traditions with friends who live far away? How do you make time for your friends once you get busy with life’s obligations?

                    My Theme for 2015: Just Say No!


                    SayNo

                    Happy 2015 everybody! I hope everyone is having a nice start to the new year and had a good time ringing it in last night.

                    A new year always triggers a need for me to reflect on what worked in my life and what didn’t in the last year, including what I want to change and what should stay the same. This can be tough because it forces me take a long, honest look at my weaknesses, which is never fun. I’ve taken a personal vow to remain completely authentic 100% of the time with total disregard about what other people think (my first step: putting myself out there on the internet). I’ve come to realize, in this journey to authenticity, that many of my actions were performed out of fear, obligation, or guilt, rather than a sincere desire to do them. I was taking on too many commitments and it was straining my career, marriage, and friendships. For instance, I was so stressed about accepting five consecutive after-work dinner invitations in one week that I wasn’t enjoying the brief time I had at home with my family after work- all I could focus on was getting myself dressed and out the door on time for whatever obligation I shouldn’t have accepted in the first place. I was constantly saying “yes” when I really wanted to say “no,” but feared that the “no” would let other people down or would cause the invitations to stop coming. I can’t let myself be guided by fear.

                    My theme for 2015 is “just say no!” I will just say no to committing myself to doing things I don’t truly want to do.  I will just say no to spending time with people who I don’t genuinely want to spend time with. I will just say no to allowing myself to be distracted by technology during what should be “quality time” with my daughters. I will just say no to overextending myself through membership in organizations that no longer suit my interests or further my goals.  I will just say no to allowing myself to feel guilty for declining invitations to dinners, weddings, showers, or birthday parties unless these events are things I completely want to attend.

                    What are your goals for 2015?

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