Three Crowns Mini Getaway - Rochester, NY

My boys and I needed a change of scenery this year. It was a long winter full of long work days for me and now that I have a home based office it’s easier to get squirrly. I knew we had to pick somewhere drivable with the 22 month old so we chose Rochester, NY to visit The Strong ( Museum of Play). So we headed off prepared as well as we could.

REAL MOMENT BEFORE YOU SEE CUTE PICTURES: Was it perfect, nope! We got frustrated, with each other with ourselves etc, we had moments of I want to go home we had moments of exhaustion and then Saturday night I was in the tiny bathtub at our 2 star hotel and it “clicked”. This is what family vacations are supposed to be. I am sure my parents felt the same way but all I remember was eating McDonalds drivethru on the way, feeling carsick, seeing amazing things, having fun, getting bug bites and then turning back and going home and doing it all over. Best laid plans mixed with small children and sprinkled with tired adults trying to execute “a plan”.

Day One:
We drove about an hour and a half and the kids needed a break. We had an ipad movie but they were not in the mood so I fed them cheddar bunnies until we stopped in Lewiston, NY and had dinner at The Silo (known for their steak subs in a fun family resto out of an old coal silo). It was good to stretch their legs, let them run and feed them before putting them back in the car for the second leg of the drive to the hotel and right to bed.

Day Two A.M.: Breakfast was had at Jine’s in Rochester a nice family joint with the friendliest waitstaff. The boys got mickey mouse shaped pancakes. It was a beautiful day and we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather so we headed to Long Acres Farm in nearby Macedon, NY. It is an adorable little farm with tons of things for kids to do, a gift shop/ice cream shop and climbing structures that are super well built and home made, can’t find these anywhere else including two ships (which my boys love). We spent about an hour and a half there playing and then got some ice cream and headed on to mom’s favourite part of the trip the Eastmann Museum ( Kodak).

Day Two P.M. In the afternoon we visited the Eastman Museum in Rochester which is located in George Eastman’s (pioneer of popular photography and film and founder of the Kodak Company) 100+ year old mansion and is a museum dedicated to photography and its history. I was in heaven, clearly. The boys also enjoyed as the museum had lots of other exhibits happening in relation to cinema and a fantastic kids room we could have spent hours in that teaches them about photography and the process, and lets them see and touch it all. I was a kid in a candy store. More on that in a future blog post. We finished off the evening getting take out from the highly recommended Dinosaur BBQ and then hit the hay.

Day Three: Our last and final day was spent getting a quick bite, packing up the car and heading straight to the main event the Strong Museum. This was definitely worth the trip as the boys were in heavenly play land and we SO loved watching them have a good time.. You definitely need a day or two to get through the entire building thoroughly but some highlights for us was the Sesame Street exhibit, Superhero area, the toy hall of fame area and vintage toys. My husband absolutely loved the museum area as they take you through the decades in toys. We will definitely be back again.

Quickie Headshot Session - Talking Tree Wellness

Katie from Talking Tree Wellness reached out to me to do headshots for her burgeoning nutrition and wellness business this Winter. Katie is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who focuses on how food affects mood and makes sense of creating practical plans for busy people (which is most of us). She is authentic and has a fantastic blog where she writes what she knows in the most relatable ways. I am a big. fan Like most of us, sitting in front of a camera is not first on our list of fun things to do but Katie and I bonded over this fact and chatted in between shots. I encourage ALL new businesses to at LEAST get a headshot done. People like to see who is speaking to them over social media, blogging, linkedIN etc and a professional headshot is the way to do it. I look forward to watching what Talking Tree does next. You can find her at www.talkingtreewellness.com or www.instagram.com/talkingtreewellness

Brandspiration Blog: Tara McCrory

I was introduced to Tara McCrory (www.tarabmccrory.com) only a few months ago and in that time we have gotten a LOT accomplished together. A mini branding shoot, a full on event, multiple planning/strategy meetings, breakfasts, phone chats, ZOOM calls and finally an awesome logo design for her brand which she has such a clear vision on. This always makes my job easier because we are off to the races so quickly and we can really flush things out right off of the bat. So, a logo board was made and we both loved the same one! It’s not often clients go for my personal faves too so this was great. Tara is a dynamic, bold, direct, supportive and energetic woman so I wanted that to be reflected in her logo. She sent me an amazing mood board that included everything from a bold pink lipstick to a metallic statue to a peacock painting but somehow they all just fit. Additionally Tara had this awesome tag line: Connect Your Dots which I thought was A+ so that had to be there. I am so looking forward to her next steps in life and business. If you would like spiritual/life coaching sessions, angel card readings and someone to help you clarify your next steps, especially those leaving the corporate world like me and stepping into a new chapter… Tara is your girl. I can’t wait to see what she does next, because she has provided me with some eye opening perspective in just a short time. www.instagram.com/tara_mccrory

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100 Women Who Care Oakville

For the past year a good friend has been recommending I check out my local chapter of 100 Women Who Care. When I learned of their Small Commitment Big Impact structure I knew it would be a great thing to be a part of. I am now not only a member but will also be helping in some of the social media platforms for the group. In support of the group this evening as well was Tea With Tracie and The Sandwich Society. 100 Women Who Care meets 4 times per year and each member brings $100 with them. Three local charities are nominated by members who then present on these respective charities. The group then votes anonymously and the charity with the most votes will recieve the donated proceeds from the evening. I was so glad to finally attend my first meeting and contribute to these causes. February’s Charity of Choice was Ian Anderson House. The next meetup is May 27th in Oakville. Who is joining me? www.100womenoakville.com and the new instagram www.instagram.com/100womenwhocareoakville

Coffee and Brand Photography with Beth Woodward

Beth Woodward is an Oakville based Designer and Brand Expert and huntress of beautiful things! She has a passion for helping small businesses thrive through beautiful visuals. As if that wasn’t enough she is also the creator of Southern Ontario Small Business which hosts many events for local businesses to meet, mingle and share their know how, recommendations and the general struggles of entrepreneurship. It was an honour to shoot some of Beth’s social media photography and I love when they pop up on her feed. Visit her at www.bethmwoodward.com for more on her and her business.

Craft DIY Valentine's Heart Crayons

Hey All,

I promised myself I was going to do a little extra home made item for my kids’ classes this year. I have always wanted to try the melted crayon technique because it’s cute, colourful, and lets be honest… it’s easy. I bought some molds at the local dollar store, ordered a 94 pack of crayons from Amazon and voila, some marbled crayon hearts for the kids to enjoy. I have a 19 month old and a 5 year old and this was perfect for each grouping. I sliced all of the crayons paper off with a sharp knife, broke them into small pieces with my hands. shoved them into the molds and then baked them for 18 minutes at 200 degrees, waited for them to cool and then popped them out! We can’t wait to send them to school this week.

Send me any questions you have!

A Very Wintery Blue First Birthday!

One of our favourite regulars came in to the studio with her parents to do a fun smash. I love the simplicity of this shoot. The baby blue and the fun we had put this together. I just love her amazing faces, she’s so expressive. We threw some wiggles on like we did when we saw her laugh, but really she doesn’t need it. She’s always in a happy mood. Can’t wait to see her and big sis again. xo - Dana

What I Have Learned in My First 2 Weeks As A Creative Entrepreneur

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Woah! Where did the time go? No really…where the flip did it go?
After the excitement and the balloon emojis, “get it girl” comments faded down my instagram feed into neverland I was left with…ME. Well to be more clear ME and my Computer and the quiet stillness of working from home. I have this contentment despite the swirl of unknowns that surround me and my family and my life and for someone who runs their anxiety at a steady 7.5 this is new for me. Here’s my observations so far:

  1. Being Home Alone is Super Strange

    I have been so used to getting up with kids, then in my car and pulling out of the driveway and off to a day of colleaues and business and then turning around and coming home to kids and their business. Now, once the kids are off, I sit down with a coffee at a quiet desk and the day ahead is eerily wonderful. However I keep thinking the phone will ring and a voice on the other end will say “where are you, you are supposed to be in “XYZ” meeting.

  2. I Don’t Miss the Small Talk

    I am a girl who loves to share and chat, but I am ALSO a gal who love to get down into a convo that has meaning quickly, so not having to do the “how was your weekend/kids” convo has been nice.

  3. Not Spending 200 mins in the Car Driving Gives You 200 Extra Minutes

    This one needs no explanation. Also ZOOM calls have been so great for local collaborations. It’s supposed to be very cold this winter, so this will come in handy.

  4. You Will Meet the Most Amazing Women Following their Passions

    I had an idea of this world of boss ladies in the first 6 months of business as I attended meetups and groups. There is this subset of female entrepreneurs that exist that will rock your socks off. In saying that, I had no clue to the level that I would be inspired, pushed, championed and cheered on in my first few weeks. I have been asked for coffee, I have been invited to movie dates, I have been on inspiring video chats with people who know what they are doing far better than I, and are willing to share. Can you tell I am gushing? It’s because corporate is a competitive, political place for many. If this isn’t your current workplace yay! Celebrate that!

  5. Meetings are Now at Cafe’s and Restaurants

    Lots is the same in terms of scheduling and prep. You still need a pen and paper and you still need to ask the right questions and focus but now it involves the sound of beans grinding and/or a club sandwich.

  6. If I Need Time for Things I Can Just Take It

    Doctors Appointment? Work Out? Massage? Chuck dinner from the freezer to defrost. No Problem

  7. Being Accountable to Yourself Makes You Proud

    This is a given, but setting goals in the morning and completing them by the end of the day and having productive and forward moving strategy conversations along the way gives a surge of accomplishment and energy like no other.

  8. Patience

    Planting seeds (or quotes in my case) or responding to those price inquiries, that coffee date, that network session… all of that will pay off…in time. You have to let it and believe it, and keep reaching out for new connections until they do.

  9. You Can Wear Your Killer Signature Outfit More than Once

    Got a few meetings in a few days, love that white blouse that has the right combo of flattering lines and boss status? Repeat that sucker! No one knows!

  10. Every Day Is Exciting

    I don’t mean leap out of bed and singing with cartoons exciting. More that each day is different, each day has a new opportunity and each day has potential.

  11. You Will Say to Yourself “What and I Doing?” or “I Don’t Know What I am Doing”

    At least 20 times every DAMN day, and each time you have to pull that warrior voice inside and say “you’ve got this”.

On to next week. I’ve got this.

-Dana

A New Year... and GO!

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I have been so inspired this week by fellow entreprenuers waving their productivity flags and checking goals off of carefully curated lists while also having time to put their feet up for tea. I have been celebrating with them and for them all the while wondering “where the heck do I start?”. I recently made the leap from part time to full time entrepreneur. I use the term “part-time” loosely because when you are spending 6-8 hours a day on a business and all of your weekends it really isn’t a side gig is it? Lets be honest… I had two damn jobs! And I will also be honest… I think I thrive and love being busy. Not just a little busy, like no time to breathe busy. Can’t catch up busy. Backlogged clients waiting in a line busy. I have asked myself why I seem to enjoy this unhealthy pace, because I am fully aware that it is unhealthy and I have concluded that it gives me a zing, energy and a drive that keeps me really productive. So now, having stepped away from a corporate clock in clock out 9-5 in order to focus on my entrepreneurial venture…. I am a little bit frozen. Not for lack of ideas, or clients or excitement. It’s because I no longer report to anyone but ME. That is both excitingly free and an exceptional amount of pressure. What does me as a boss expect from myself? This journey is a lot about business but it’s also a lot about self discovery. Holding a mirror up to yourself and reporting back to yourself, and measuring your progress against YOU. No wonder I am a bit gun shy…that is a hard ask.

Now here’s the good news. Slowing down is a good thing for me. Slowing down on my busy schedule means that I have TIME now. Time for my projects, time to work on the right tasks for my business, think proactively, grow at a reasonable pace and learn to time manage in a way that works best for me. Oh, and maybe even a little time for tea.

Winery Visit

We were invited to enjoy a beautiful spring day at 16 Mile Cellar's open house this past May. The picturesque setting, a bright and breezy day. This wine is a must try and the owners are fantastic people who put great love into what they do. https://www.16milecellar.com/ 

Summer Engagement Session

Was lucky enough to meet up with two super fun teachers for a quick engagement session before their upcoming big day. These two were so easygoing and we had fun capturing their last few weeks before becoming Mr and Mrs. Good luck on your big day!

Maternity Shoot By the Lake

Beautiful lake Ontario was the backdrop for this golden hour shoot to capture a soon to be mom of 2. I loved this shoot so much and was so excited to look at and edit all the photos in this series. There is nothing more classic than a simple white dress, that mama glow and a summer breeze. Enjoy!