6 Winter Best Buys from Amazon {series}

SM30(18)

I’m fairly certain that Amazon prime has taken over my life at times. The convenience is overwhelmingly amazing, but sometimes I want someone to tell me that “wow this product is incredible” so this is me telling you the items that have rocked my winter.

CD organizer : I got rid of all of my dvd cases and pared down to this tiny guy. I can’t even begin to tell you how nice it looks on my shelf and how much space I got back. Mind you, I don’t usually put on a movie this days, so I can’t speak to those who would get into this organizer often.

Mario Bedescu Face Spray : I saw this face spray on some list that had amazon items that people are crazy about. And after buying and trying it, I’m joining the crazy train. It is so refreshing and I use it after my shower and before bed. It can also be used as a makeup setting spray, but I’m not that fancy.

Frother : While I know nothing about frothing, I love this little guy for making my evening dessert. I decided to try a keto diet in December and the one thing you can’t have is sugar. So each night I mix up a sugar-free jello and heavy cream dessert and it could not happen without this little frother.

Humidifier : I don’t own this specific one, but I have kept a humidifier going this winter and boy do I notice a difference. This one is cute and perfect for small spaces.

-Dry Shampoo : This is a game changer! I’ve never really used dry shampoo because I couldn’t find one I loved. But this one smells so amazing. Like I want to use it everyday on my hair just because it smells good.

Floral Floor Length Dress : Want to wear socially acceptable pajamas to work? This dress is perfect if you have that mentality. I’ve received a ton of compliments on it. Which I was a little leery about as I’m typically a black and grey clothes wearer. But if you want to spruce up your winter/spring wardrobe and be complimented, grab this dress.

What did you buy recently that you are loving?

30th Bucket List {Personal}

SM30(25)

This year is going to be fierce (insert the above finger snap)! Last year was such a hard year, that I knew that I needed my 30th year to be incredible. Yes, turning 30 might be hard, but not when you have a year of fun planned. Without further ado, here is the list!

  • Ride a Riverboat
  • Go to a Chocolate Factory
  • Climb a Water Tower
  • Go see Hamilton
  • Update my Passport
  • Paddle Boat in Forest Park
  • Graduate with my Masters
  • Read 3 Books for Fun
  • Enjoy my Hammock
  • Go Camping
  • Travel to 3 New Cities
  • Plan a Cruise
  • Pare Down all of my Clothes

Now is where I need your help! Keep me accountable, I already have some of these plans in the works- my tickets for Hamilton is bought and I graduate in May! But ask me how these are going and I’ll make sure to update you all when I accomplish them.

Spring Travel Dates {business}

spring travel dates

One of the goals I had for my 30th year was to travel. I want to see 3 new cities this year and this spring I will have the honor to get 2 of the 3 done!

While I travel, I love the opportunity to connect with locals and photograph their family/couple sessions. it is thrilling to find the cool photo spots in new locations.

If you have family in Chicago, Michigan (specifically near Kalamazoo or Gaylord), Indianapolis or South Padre Island, let them know I will be in the area as I would love to connect with them.

One of the best parts of these sessions is that they are discounted… up to $75 off a session!

Also… if you love these locations and have suggestions on places for me to visit – food or fun – let me know by leaving your tips in the comments!

Most popular posts from 2017 {recap}

2017 . Siddens Twins . -4

Hello Lovelies!

I always enjoy seeing which posts you click on the most. Here is a list of last years most loved blog posts:

  1. Top St. Louis Photo Locations
  2. Birth, Bravery, and Giveaway
  3. 30 & Fabulous Cake Smash
  4. Big News for 2017
  5. Ben & Chelsie – Christmas Proposal
  6. Rising Tide Society – Co leader
  7. Laura & Jared . Engaged
  8. Creve Coeur Camera Photopalooza
  9. Celebrating Sister
  10. Siddens Twins . Newborn

I am so thankful that many of these top posts are personal posts. It makes me want to tear up and exclaim, “They like me, they really like me.” So thank you for investing in my life and helping me celebrate other families in their lives.

Word of the Year {Personal + Business}

flower-spring-1.jpg

There are lots of posts going around in which people are choosing their word for the year. This big picture philosophical concept is incredibly difficult for me to understand. See I’m a small detail practical person. I like making steps and sub steps to meet a goal. I prefer breaking things down and am immediately turned off when I hear people discussing lofty ideas and concepts. But I know I need to grow and expand my preferences. So I jumped on the train.

My 2018 word is : Flourish

2018 . dictionary flourish

 

 

 

 

 

Originally, I was between the words flourish and bloom. So I looked both of the words up, and when I read flourish and specifically the part of “especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment” I knew that had to be the perfect word. I have made huge changes over the past year (see some of them in this post) with the concept of creating a favorable environment. I am so excited to embrace the word to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way”.  (BTW, the photo above I blew up and put on my living room wall- got to have those visual reminders!)

As I said above, I am a wildly practical person so here is a brief list on how I want to embrace the concept of flourishing:

Personally

  • Building deeper friendships – this is so essential as I am an introvert to the core.
  • Finishing my Masters – that’s right, friends, I will officially have my MBA in May!!!
  • Church Community – that introvert in me always pushes against me in making new friends but this past year has taught me that your community is what keeps you going.
  • Experiencing Life – this means creating a list of places I want to go and actually going, even if I have to do it alone.
  • Family time – I am a time person and I have loved growing closer to my family this past year and plan on doing more of it this year (hear that mom and dad- be expecting me over more weekends this summer!)
  • Organization – I am lousy at organizing things- I am an expert in organizing people and events- but things baffle me. So I am learning and plan on growing in this area.
  • Health – I’ve really taken my health for granted and over this past year have had a few health scares. This makes me realize that God has given me one body and I need to take better care of it.

In Business –

  • Blogging – Sharing stories visually is what I do, and I must get better and blogging regularly (at least two times a week).
  • Knowing the client – Honeybook (Client Management System) has been stellar for me this past year at organizing client documents, payment and communication. However, it also has the ability to send surveys so that I understand exactly what each client is looking for in their session. I plan on creating more so that I know more about the person/family before I go into the session.
  • Collaboration – There are so many cool businesses out there that I want to work with. If you are one of them, send me an email and lets create something spectacular!
  • Specialization – I’ve loved photographing a variety of types of sessions and events, but I am passionate about families and high school seniors. I still love newborns, couples, and weddings but feel much more in sweet spot with families and seniors.

2018 will be wildly exciting as I already have great plans in the works including seeing Hamilton (insert all of the heart eyes) and going to the RESET conference. Now I want to hear about your word! What word do you want to represent your year- tell me all about it in the comments below!

A Year from Now {personal}

Muzzey Wedding -24

If I look back at myself a year ago from today I would be amazed at the changes.

A new home.
Monthly counseling sessions.
A new car.
A new church.
Consistent budgeting.
Considering dating again.
A new position at work.

I’m fairly for certain I wouldn’t recognize myself. It is incredible how a year can change so many components of a person. I’m sure you might feel the same!

What big changes have you worked through this past year?

A new stay at home mom?
A recent major sickness?
A tougher boss?
A parent who passed away?
A child diagnosed with a learning disability?

I want to share that you are not alone in your struggle. There are people all around you that care for you. There are people all around that have been through similar situations that can help guide you and encourage you.

This time in your life might be so hard, but there is beauty in the tough times. Don’t just hold on to the pain as you will miss out on the beauty.

I can honestly say that I am stronger, happier, kinder, and more patient then I was a year ago. I know each year has their own struggles and I am so excited to see where God has me a year from now. Where will you be in your life journey a year from now?

For those who have walked with me through this beautifully tough past year, thank you. I deeply appreciate the long walks, kind words, glasses of wine, big moving muscles and most of all your friendship. Thank you clients for your patience and encouragement as you see the business change and adapt with me.

I’d love to hear more about your story in the comments and encourage you no matter where you are at in your journey. We should celebrate with one another whether you are on top of the mountain or deep in the valley.

St. Louis Christmas To Do List {Personal}

2017 . Fall Mini set up -120

Christmas is probably one of the most magical times of the year. I am mesmerized by the lights around the neighborhood. The kindness that is offered by complete strangers. And thankfulness of the hope and faith of the season.

I know that the season can also get busy, but if you are new to the area, or just want to get reacquainted to all the fun the city of St. Louis holds, here is a list of my favorite St. Louis Christmas activities!

  • Garden Glow – Missouri Botanical Gardens
    While it might be a little costly for a family, the views are stunning. It is truly magical. I would suggest it might be best for a date night- and if so make sure you pick up a hot beverage before you enjoy the lights!
  • Santa Parade – Main Street St. Charles
    This event that happens every weekend during the holidays is basically a kiddo’s dream. I appreciate the historical nature of the Santa’s in their costumes and the street is decorated beautifully. This is a free event but give yourself time to travel as parking can be difficult.
  • Christmas Tea Party – London Tea Room or La Patisserie Chouquette
    Both locations have a fabulous formal tea that you need to register ahead for, but if you just want to enjoy a pot of tea (or their scrumptious desserts) with a friend that is encouraged as well!
  • Brewery Lights – Anhueser Busch Brewery
    AB does a great job incorporating adult beverages in all of their events and tours and the Brewery Lights aren’t any different. While there are children activities, I would recommend for a date night as well. The walking tour with a few samples is free – so double win! 
  • Ice Skating in Forest Park – Steinberg Skating Rink
    While I do not ice skate- seriously I am miserable on the ice and miserable to watch- others thoroughly enjoy this winter activity. It is a great way to burn some calories- or energy from your kiddos who are couped inside. They are cash only- so that is nice to remember.
  • Winter Wonderland Lights – Tilles Park
    This is a tradition for many families in St. Louis. I know as a kid I was packed in a vehicle and oooo’d and ahhhh’d as we went through the park. If you want to up your game you can also schedule a horse drawn carriage ride through the park. 
  • The Polar Express – Union Station
    Make the magic of the book come to life through this actual train ride. While this is an expensive trip for your littles it is full of fun for all!
  • Wild Lights – St. Louis Zoo
    The St. Louis Zoo + the magic of Christmas lights = instant fun! If you are looking for a fun event for your kids that burns off some energy and isn’t too expensive this might be the perfect option.

 

 

Do you have any other fun suggestions? If so leave them in the comments below!

The Winners!!! {Birthday Giveaway}

SM30(44)

Birthday gifts make me want to twirl with excitement… so without further adieu…the winners!

Day 1 – $30 Starbucks Gift Card – Megan Ronecker
Day 2 – Sharpie Pens and Notepad from Red Lettered Goods – Chelsie Bartley
Day 3 – $30 Print Credit to Diversified Labs – Elizabeth Ashcraft
Day 4 – $30 Always in Bloom Gift Card – Cory Baker
Day 5 – One Hour Spring Session – Kinsey McKibbin

Winners, please send me an email sweetsarahmariephotography@gmail.com on the best way to give you your gifts!

Thank you again for all of your Birthday wishes… 30 will be the best year yet! Be looking for my 30th year checklist and if you haven’t seen my 30th Cake Smash, check it out!

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie

 

30 & Fabulous . Cake Smash Session {Personal}

SM30(46)

Today I am 30.

I’ve been sitting on this incredible session for over 5 months! This year has been full of GIANT changes and I knew that I had to do a cake smash session. I’ve always admired the women who decided to celebrate getting older so stunningly, and I’m very proud of who I am at this fun place in my life. So let the celebrating commence!

SM30(49)

Maria, owner of Sketchbook Photography, was so kind in photographing this fun time. There was a moment during the session, I looked at her and said, “This is the first time almost a year that I actually feel happy.” And while joy is always an option, I felt so loved being surrounded by friends and hey- how can you not feel happy in a tutu?

SM30(51)

SM30(62)

SM30(67)

Now that cake was so incredibly delicious! It was made by Confections by Libby and I love how she is always giving back through her business.

SM30(42)

Every girl should feel like a princess once in a while. Twirling in a park with people staring at me would typically make me feel foolish, but that day, I just felt beautiful. This could have been due to an incredible photographer- but also because I chose to get my hair and make up done. It was probably the best splurge I could have done. Every woman has insecurities but Alissa, Owner of Makeup by Liss Marie, was so complimentary as we did make up. She rocked my hair and make up. Also shout out to Lauren who helped me set up all of the fun!

SM30(35)

If I could encourage you to do a cake smash session – do it. I’ve never felt so exhilarated, beautiful, and proud of exactly who I am.

Let me know what you think I should make sure I get done this year. I want my 30th year to be incredible!

This session we also did a few ‘normal’ headshots so be looking for those coming up later this month!

Thank you to all who entered the week long Birthday Giveaway. You can still keep commenting and on Monday I will pick the winners!


Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie
Cake: Confections by Libby

SaveSave

Day 5 {Birthday Giveaway} . One hour Spring Session

SM30(46)

I feel like my love for photography goes without saying, but what you may not know about me is how much I love a spring session. Yes, I do about 60% of my family sessions in the Fall. And I understand people love the gorgeous cozy weather, I get so much more excited about Spring. The popping up red tulips, the blossoming magnolia trees, the wooded locations coming back to life. It is almost magical how nature renews itself each year. Sadly, though not very many people choose Spring for their session. Well, I want to help change that by offering an incredible (and expensive – $200) giveaway. Join me in loving the beautiful season of Spring!

That is why I want to celebrate my favorites with giving away a stunning 1 Hour Spring Session!
To enter comment below with what made your favorite photography session so amazing!

This is the last day of the Birthday giveaways! I will posting the random winners on Monday! I appreciate the overwhelming response and I want to say thank you for being incredible clients and friends! Also if you tell me to sign you up for my e-newsletter in the comments you will get an extra entry for each day!

Be looking out tommorrow for my full 30th Cake Smash Session! I would HIGHLY encourage anyone to do this… Do you know anyone about to turn 90? Grandma loves cake too!

It is not too late to win this week’s other giveaways:
Day 1    Day 2     Day 3     Day 4

Photography: Sketchbook Photography
Hair and Make up: Makeup by Liss Marie
Cake: Confections by Libby