6 Summer Best Buys from Amazon {Series}

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Oh, Amazon, how I love you so. Here is what have been my favorite picks of the summer! I’d love to hear what you have been digging from this amazingly convenient website.

Toiletry Bag – With a ton of summer travels, I knew I needed to update and better organize my toiletry bag. This one was cute and was surprisingly spacious.

Sleeveless Swing Top– I have been living in this during the summer. It is cute enough to wear out and professional enough to wear to work. And I adore a cute floral! (pictured below)

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Workout Tanks – I am constantly going to grab a tank to throw under tops or to work out in and these are super bright and fun.

Hammock – This double hammock is completely awesome. I love the ability to read a book in this comfy hammock. One thing I would recommend is also ordering straps to go with it. I’m a curvy girl and want to make sure it will stay exactly where I put it!

Charger Power Bank – This thing has saved my behind so many times while traveling. I love taking photos on trips and always seem to run my phone low, so this charger is packed in my bag every time!

Facial Mask Sheet – Technically, I haven’t bought this one yet, but I am incorporating more self care into my routines and face masks will be part of it. I think as I get older I realize how much care I need to put into my skin and body. I thinks these will be a great thing to add to my routine.

Another store I’ve totally been loving is ThredUp. My work wardrobe needed an update and I scored some awesome inexpensive finds. (I can also send you a $10 coupon if you are interested!)

To check out the Winter version, click here!

Where in the World is… your SSMP Bag?

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If you have been a client of SSMP in the last year, then you probably have received one of the cutest little totes around (If you didn’t, let me know and I will do my best to get one to you)! Summer is a great time to rest and recuperate and often adventuring happens both locally and across the globe.

I would love to see your photos of where you have taken your tote. And so, I am creating a photo competition. Send me a picture of your tote in a cool (or unique) location and it will be entered in a facebook competition in which you could win a really cool prize!

To enter: Send your photo to me on facebook or via email and your photo will be put into a facebook competition. The person with the most “votes” will win a prize.

30th Bucket List {Personal} – 1/2 way update

I wanted to follow up on what all I have accomplished so far on my list….

I pledged to make this year fierce. Yes, turning 30 might be hard, but not when you have a year of fun planned. Without further ado, here is the list- and what I have accomplished so far!

  • Ride a Riverboat – not done.
  • Go to a Chocolate Factory – not done.
  • Climb a Water Tower – not done.
  • Go see Hamilton – accomplished!!!
  • Update my Passport – not done.
  • Paddle Boat in Forest Park – not done.
  • Graduate with my Masters – accomplished!!!
  • Read 3 Books for Fun – not done, I have at least one done.
  • Enjoy my Hammock – not done.
  • Go Camping – not done.
  • Travel to 3 New Cities – Accomplished – Indianapolis, South Padre Island, and Los Angeles.
  • Plan a Cruise – not done.
  • Pare Down all of my Clothes – not done.

I’m about 1/3 of the way done with my list, thankfully some of the smaller items can get done this summer. And if you want to join me on some of these items, let me know and we can get it planned! Enjoy some of my accomplished photos below.

 

Best Restaurants in South Padre Island {Personal}

personal . boatsIf you followed my Insta story you may have seen that I took a very much needed family trip to celebrate graduation and other family changes. Thank you for letting me get away and rejuvenate. I did a ton of research on great places to eat on vacation and the whole family loved that we could just look at the list I created and know that the food was going to be good and moderately priced. So if you or a friend you know is going to South Padre Island, send them this post and let them rest easy knowing that their tummy will be filled well.

Padre Island Brewing Company – After arriving on the Island this was our first choice as they had the shortest wait time. It is a cute location with great drinks and the favorite meals from my family was the – Salad with Grilled Yellow fin Tuna and Baby Back ribs (the meat literally fell off of the bone!)

Gabriellas – This location was overall of the best experiences that we had the entire week. The service by our waitress Stephanie was outstanding. While it look unexpected tucked away in a strip mall setting the location is cute and we loved the candles. I am not a bit fan of Italian food but really enjoyed this meal and how they treated their customers. Favorite meals – Lasagna

Manuels – Manuel’s was the only restaurant that I did not have on my list and was recommend by a local islander. It is technically located in Port Isabel- but I promise it is worth the trip! The tortillas are made fresh and are the size of your face. Each server is funny and gets to know each guest. Favorite meals – Breakfast burrito with potatoes and avocados. However our server brought out a tortilla with butter and cinnamon/sugar for us to try which was a kind gesture and was delicious.

Blackbeards – This was my favorite meal and I would recommend arriving early as this location fills up quickly. The location is large but is very popular. Favorite meal – Fish three ways (it comes with a giant baked potato!) and also the calamari was some of the best my family had tried!

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Pier 19 – This spot has great food and everyone was very pleased, however what I would recommend is all of the action that happens here. This pier is also a spot that boat tours leave from and so if you time it right you can see a pirate boat tour play around the pier. After dinner I would recommend going out past the restaurant on to the pier and looking for dolphins. Favorite meal – Diablo Flautas

Painted Marlin – This is currently the newest restaurant on the Island and the owners did a great job decorating. The bright colors and atmosphere adds a ton of fun to the experience. Favorite meal – The catch of that day was Swordfish and everyone loved it!

Dirty Als – While Dirty Als was not an overall favorite, if you are looking for a great place to get fried fresh seafood this could be it. It is highly recommended by the locals and has multiple locations. Favorite meal – peel and eat shrimp

 

If you have been to South Padre Island and have a restaurant to recommend, please share in the comments!

Lexee {Senior} . Indianapolis

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I cannot wait to tell you all more about my recent conference – RESET – and the shootout I did with Dana Tate. But before I do, I want to introduce you to Lexee. This bright young lady was filled with kindness and laughter during our session.

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Lexee is a pro at posing with her intense background in dance, but what you don’t know is that she was casted once as a mermaid. That’s right friends, a MERMAID! If I was to go for any person it a cast it would be that!

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Notice that award winning smile!

One of the wonderful parts of photographing Seniors is listening to parents talk about their children. Lexee’s mom was beaming with pride with every story she shared. And this woman is a rockstar as Lexee is the first of five lovely daughters. Can we hand this woman an award and a coffee?

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It is always a joy to shoot in a new location and being at the conference allowed the opportunity to shoot in downtown Indianapolis. The stunning architecture you see around Lexee is the Birch Bayh Federal Building.

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Lexee, I wish you the most beautiful of futures and pray your dreams come true!

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Spring Travel Dates {business}

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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!

Summer Goals {Personal}

There is so much hope and rest in summer. Longer days with warmer temperatures. Adventurous weekends that make lasting memories. And I am so excited to embrace that hope, rest and adventure this summer. To make sure that happens, here are a few of my 2017 Summer Goals!

1. Read

I’m making a goal of taking one evening each week to leave my sweet little apartment and heading to a coffee shop to just read. That is it. Drink coffee and read. My list of books include : Start with Why, Grace, Not Perfection, Total Money Makeover, Jab Jab Jab Right Hook and A Million Little Ways.

If you have read any of these, let me know what you think!

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2. Travel (This is always on my list of Summer goals!

I was excited to announce travel photography dates this year! I will be headed to Chicago to see my dear friend, Lauren. Then off to Michigan to visit family. I’m excited to celebrate my cousin’s graduation and see my dad – I haven’t seen him in almost a year! I need to rectify that asap!

So if you are looking for an adventurous photography session, let me know and I would love to work through the details.

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3. Continue Self-Care

The above goals are parts of self-care but in addition to those I want to continue to build a habit of working out and giving myself grace. I want to add putting good things into my body. The wonderful thing about summers is lots of fresh fruits and veggies and I must get better and putting fuel into my body and not just food. So if you have any good recipes, I would be happy to have some inspiration.

What goals do you have for the summer? Where are you traveling to? I’d love to hear about your goals and overall dreams.

Nicole + Daniel {Married} . Chester, IL

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If I could pick one word that could capture this whole wedding I would choose (without even thinking) – traditions. But not in the sense of stuffy or traditional. As Nicole and Daniel, added so many touches of whimsy – I mean they had a cake that had a Lego cake topper. I mean traditions, as deep-rooted love for how they were raised and the love of family. Every detail had a meaning, and I believe that is what wedding are all about – bringing the traditional roots into a new beautiful marriage.
We were so excited when we were asked to travel to Chester, IL to photograph this beautiful wedding. Not knowing much about Chester, we did a bit of research and learned that this place is poppin with Popeye (yes, the cartoon) memorabilia. The town is also beautifully set on the Mississippi river and if you are looking for some small town charm, I would highly recommend it!
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Some of the traditional pieces that I mentioned before was Nicole’s dress and bracelet. Both were her mothers. Yes, both Nicole and her mother wore the same dress down the same aisle on their wedding days.
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The entire day was filled with tender moments, including this one with the bride and her mother.
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Who can resist a beaming groom, especially when he signs I love you to his beautiful bride!
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Since the ceremony was filled with tradition and memories. The reception had to be filled with fun and laughter! The Bride and Groom trained for months on their first dance- and they did not disappoint!
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The Best Man also planned an exceptional Blues Brothers toast – dance moves included.
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A day full of tradition and whimsy made it the perfect day for Nicole and Daniel.
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Dress Alterations : Fancyworks |  Groomsmen’s Attire: Hooker’s Mens Store | Hair : Fashion Flair | Makeup : Sabrina Jeremiah | Florist: Forget-Me-Not Florist | Cake : Gordon’s Cakes | Rings : Wicker’s Jewelry | Ceremony Venue : St. John Lutheran Church | Reception Venue : American Legion Hall