A little local love

I need to do some gushing.

I know, I know, what else is new?

But no, seriously. Have you heard about Heather Baker of Photography by Heather? If you haven’t, you need to check out her space.

If you have, then you’ve been let in on one of the best small business owners Galt, Ontario has to offer.

Heather is an incredible family, child and event photographer, working in the Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge and greater Toronto area. As a small business owner, she gives back to her community, promotes what she loves – especially other small business owners in the communities she works in – and really is just an all around kick-ass human being.

Between her heart, her gift for the perfect shot and her ability to put her subjects at ease, she’s an ace!

I have had the pleasure of working with Heather on multiple occasions, in many settings and she never ceases to impress me with her growth in her art.

She’s shot me (with a camera and lens of course) and my sisters, and caught one of our favourite moments to date in frame:

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I’ve worked with her in a more intimate setting as a gift for my future husband:

The 'Mike approved' blog shot - photo credit: Close Your Eyes Photography

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She’s captured Julia’s growing family at almost every stage since she opened her business:

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She was entrusted with Jacqui and Cody’s big day and once again caught some of the most memorable moments:

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I’ve known for a while that Heather would be trusted with many memories and milestones to come for my family.

Just a few weeks ago, she stole our hearts with her generosity with our engagement shoot. While we only have a sneak peak so far, I already know we will love every picture in our gallery.

When she offered to pull a mini-road trip to a special spot to get the kind of shoot we wanted, I was thrilled. While there were some cues, and a few tuckings of this hair and untucking of this shirt, it felt as though Michael and I were on a date, surrounded by love the whole time, instead of posing for a picture. I feel she invested in our relationship, in our memories and in her work.

From planning our session, right down to the very last shot, she took her time to make sure what she knew of Michael and I and how Michael and I feel about each other, would resonate through our photos and be very personal to us.

I am so very happy you were the one to mark a special milestone for Michael and I, Heather. I love our sneak peak:

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I could tell you more, but I really think you should just have a consult or book with her and find out for yourself. To contact Heather, please email her here. I also highly recommend following her here and making sure to like her here.

~ Toni

Sisterhood Spotlight – More Love Letters

The Weather Vane Sisterhood is no stranger to mental illness – we have that badge in the bag and we wear it for all to see. We don’t hide our crazy, we advocate.

A little while ago during one of Julia’s bouts of PPD, I was trying to find a way to make her feel more loved, and supported from our family. That is when I came across More Love Letters.

Their mission as it is posted on their website is simple – to make love famous. Imagine going through a rough patch, anything from a sick family member, to depression or PPD if you will. Now imagine while you are going through this tough time getting a flooding of love letters. Letters of encouragement, letters of hope. Just a little note to let you know that you are not going through this alone, and a complete stranger is thinking of you. That is exactly what More Love Letters is.

It is a blog where weekly posts let the anyone who wants to know who they should address love letters to and their background story. You can nominate anyone as well – all you need is to take the time to write an email or a letter to the ladies of More Love Letters and tell them why you think they deserve more love! Once you see who needs your love letters it’s up to you to write what your heart desires. As of late I when I have been feeling down, I write what I would want someone to say to me. Something as cheesy as “Don’t stop believing” to more sentimental. There is something so uplifting by telling a complete stranger that you are in their corner and something so heartwarming knowing that you made someone’s life a little brighter with your words.

After writing all my thank you cards, I still have some umpteen note cards left. These cards as slowly being sent all over the world with notes of love and support. I encourage everyone to join this movement and start sending love letters.

The world is a pretty crappy place sometimes. It’s scary and dark, and sometimes it’s hard to find the love and light in the everyday. But if you can be that love and light to someone else then suddenly you have a little slice of optimism yourself.

The other day I was exhausted, it was a horrible day at work and all I wanted to do was to come home and sleep. On my walk home I had made a plan, home, bath, bed. Which is exactly what I did. I came home, drew myself a bath, and then got into my pj’s. I turned on my computer to watch some much deserved Netflix, but when I opened my computer, the last page I was on was More Love Letters to their recent letter nominations. I came across a nomination for a couple who had been together for 36 years. They fell on hard times with their health, he with a stroke and her with lupus. Their children nominated them for the bundle of letters. Suddenly I felt guilty – I had a rough day sure, but I have my health, I have a roof over my head and food on the table – and yet I was grumpy and complaining.

I decided then to write a letter to this couple. I wrote telling them that their love for each other and their years of marriage was an inspiration. I wrote to them telling them I was thinking of them and sending them love from afar during this bump in the road. My problem of a bad day at work seemed so small and insignificant compared to the troubles that these two were going through.

I encourage you to take time today to write a love letter to those in need – make it a weekly routine. During your Saturday morning coffee, grab a pen and a pad of paper and start spreading the love!

~ Love, Jacqui

A hidden love of storage

I have this thing about books. I have a love for books, that I know is not very unique, but I have another love that is tied in with this love…bookshelves.

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There is a social media site that leaves me dreaming of new, inventive ways to store, display, and love my books.

How CUTE!

How CUTE!

It leaves me wanting to build or find builders to create these ingenious and imaginative bookshelves.

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This website is called Bookshelf Porn.

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And it really is crazy how many different styles of bookshelves there are on this site.

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Things you would have never thought of!

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Placements that make it seem accidental, but are so not.

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If you too have a love for books, and by extension, bookshelves I beg you stay away…stay away from the magic that is bookshelfporn.com
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Or not.

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~ Andreah

Sisterhood Spotlight: The Miniaturist

I am a bit of a snobby reader.

I personally blame my education – I have a degree in English, which was a learning path littered with literature and high-brow criticism, and hours upon hours upon hours of reading and dissecting said reading. In the end? I know what I like. I know what I don’t like. And it all comes crashing into the fact that I have very little time to actually read. When I choose a book I am really picky – I need it to be well-written, I need it to grab me, I need it to not be too graphic (or my very impressionable brain will run away with all the gory details), and I need it to be fairly straightforward (Fantasy? Sci-fi? If it’s based in a world like ours, I have a shot…build a completely new world with an entirely new vocabulary to name every piece of it?? Either give me a glossary or you’ll have to wait until I have all my faculties again…which will probably be never).

That’s why I LOVED The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, a debut novelist who wowed me with her prowess, imagination, and finely spun tale.

The story is set in 1686 Amsterdam, where 18-year old Nella is newly married to her wealthy merchant husband. But when she arrives to her new life, where she expects to be the mistress of her domain, she is met with blow after blow, surprise after surprise, and in the midst of it all, a cabinet-sized replica of her new home.

This book pulled me in from the beginning, with writing that was strong, yet clear. Although it is set in the late 1600s, and in a different country, Jessie Burton does a superb job of bringing you right in the middle of the culture and world, without making you feel like you’re playing catch-up the whole time. And even though there is a glossary in the back (THANK YOU), I didn’t have to use it once while reading.

I loved the history, the opulence, the hardship, the class and race clashes, the clandestine love, the unrequited love, and the extraordinary, yet hidden, strength of the main character, Nella.

The writing was gorgeous and the story was thrilling. It was a book that was easy to read, made me never want to put it down, made me want it to end so I could figure out where we were going, yet made me wish it never ended so I didn’t have to leave the world. The last quarter of the book was so tense and emotionally taunt that when I finished reading, I had a lump in my chest that I had carried for days.

I fully recommend this book…and now I need to go write more of my own novel, because Jessie Burton? You’ve inspired me. Thank you.

~ Julia

Sisterhood Spotlight: Guilty Pleasures

We all have those dirty little secrets.

You know, those smut books we don’t talk about, but they are our favourite: Fifty Shades of Grey, Harlequin Romances, and books about cowboys and riding off into a sunset with him by your side, with a roll in the hay!

We all have them.

I do too, however, my favourite started off without the smut. My favourite is a series of supernatural romance, which is oddly enough found in most horror sections.

This series is not for everyone; in fact if you do not like werewolves, wereleopards, vampires, and necromancers, then you will NOT like this series at all.

This is all about the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Starting off with just a woman who had to grow up too soon in life, and is more in favour of solitude because of it, these books take you on her path of self-discovery, with twists of mystery and, in about the fifth book, sex.

She is strong-willed, can wield a gun, and is not your average ‘china doll,’ as her looks would make you believe. She is a hard woman and a bit of a badass.

As Laurell K. Hamilton explains, “In a world where vampires, zombies and werewolves have been declared legal citizens of the United States, Anita Blake is an “animator” – a profession that involves raising the dead for mourning relatives. But Anita is also known as a fearsome hunter of criminal vampires, and she’s often employed to investigate cases that are far too much for conventional police. But as Anita gains the attention of the vampire masters of her hometown of St. Louis, she also risks revealing an intriguing secret about herself – the source of her unusual strength and power.”

The books have the most witty and sarcastic flavor. They are a treat to read and I for one love them.

Give them a try, if any of these words appeal to you!

Start at the beginning with Guilty Pleasures.

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~ Andreah

Sisterhood Spotlight: Julia Nunes

So I have a huge love of music, and I know my sisters do too. And of course, we do not have the exact same taste of music – we each, like our personalities, are unique.

I want to share something with you, or rather someone.

One of my all time favourite singers is Julia Nunes. She is short, she is wonderful, and she makes the best music.

I have even gotten to meet this wonderful eclectic artist twice (yes it was twice in one day, but it counts!).

First meeting!!!! (Photo Curtesy of a random stranger, using Elena's Camera)

First meeting!!!! (Photo Curtesy of a random stranger, using Elena’s Camera)

 

Later on that evening, and yes, Julia Nunes is grabbing my head. (Photo Curtesy of Elena)

Later on that evening, and yes, Julia Nunes is grabbing my head. (Photo Curtesy of Elena)

I was introduced to her by one of my best friends Elena. I walked by her room one day when we lived together and she was singing along to her, and I was pretty much hooked on Julia Nunes from then on.

I wanted to introduce you to her so that you know how wonderfully weird she is, and hopefully get to love her like I do!

From songs about pizza to songs that make you less and more nostalgic all at once…

… she writes amazing, catchy songs that just make you smile, dance, and belt it out in the car.

I want to share her with you, and I want you to show her love and the proper adoration, because everyone deserves to know how wonderful they are!

~ Andreah

Something special to me

Okay, so everyone has a thing, right?

Everyone has that guilty pleasure in their life that not a lot of people know about. Whether it is Julia and her love of gossip, or some people with their love of soap operas, everyone has one and everyone deserves one.

I have one… I have a love of web comics.

I have two that are my favourites that I read every day, and when I found them I went back and started from the beginning. I devoured and read them both through the night, and I still go back and revisit the beginning like I do my favourite books.

I love the fact that I got to see the artists grow with their followings. That their art work kept growing as well until it is the spectacular comics I read today, and they still try and improve, and are still doing as much as they can to connect to their fans, whether it is conventions or tours.

I also love how you get a glimpses into their lives every once in a while and you get to feel like a part of their lives even if only for a moment.

The first is called Questionable Content. It is by an amazing artist named Jeph Jacques.

It is about an awesome and eclectic group of friends. They live in a parallel word where there is Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and the robots have a storyline all their own. (If you want more information check out the wiki page!)

My favourite character in this series is Hannelore, or Hanners. She has severe anxiety and mental health issues but she keeps improving and working through each one and she is happily getting better with the help of her wacky friends.

My other favourite comics is Girls With Slingshots. It is by an equally amazing artist Danielle Corsetto.

“The strip’s two main characters, Hazel and Jamie, sprung to life in a strip called Hazelnuts, the unintentional prequel to GWS. The title was derived from requests Danielle used to get at comic conventions to draw girls with guns (she sucked at drawing guns, so she drew them with slingshots).”

– Girls With Slingshots

Hazel is always stuck in the past and her best friend Jamie keeps pushing her forward. There is also the mysterious Clarice who is a librarian by day, Dominatrix by night.

There are more characters, but those are my favourite.

The thing I love about this comic is that there are so many dynamics of couples, relationships, and friendships. Each one has something special or different about them. For instance, Jamie is head-over-heels in love with a wonderful girl named Erin, but they are an asexual cuddly kind of lovely couple (I don’t know if I am explaining this just right, but I love the depth that this relationship has.)

The stories of each of the characters opens up your mind to new possibilities and gives you warm fuzzy feelings all over.

These two artists are amazing. I have been reading them for about four years now, and every time I visit these to web universes I am never disappointed.

If you want go give them some love, and hopefully you will fall in love with them like I did.

~ Andreah

Sisterhood Spotlight: Greatist.com

When it comes to finding support for leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to find a reliable source that isn’t pushing their own agenda or selling their own brand of get-fit-quick propaganda. While information is accessible everywhere from Google to Pinterest, I’ve come to know and love one particular fitness blog that seems to satisfy all areas of a healthy me – mind, body and soul.

Greatist.com is a blog that covers all areas of living a healthy lifestyle. It’s not focused on being skinny, losing weight, pills, quick fixes or fads. Greatist.com strictly focuses on over all health be it mental, physical or spiritual.

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

Greatest.com home page, May 23, 2014

This specific blog is suited for anyone who is looking to live and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. Every post is vetted to make sure the facts are based on a legitimate scientific study, that they are fun and easy to read, and that the information you are receiving is real. If you are interested in yoga, crossfit, running, healthy recipes, tips on how to manage stress, depression, a bad stroke of luck, tools to train your brain and help you ace that test, or even a daily workout, greatest.com is the site for you.

Personally, I opted in for the daily email – it’s a daily digest of posts containing an array  of topics and I find it a great reminder to get up and do something physically active, everyday (yes, even though today’s daily email was about drinking…).

The daily email - May 23, 2014

The daily email – May 23, 2014

I recommend greatest.com to anyone looking for tips, tricks and support on their journey of improving their overall health – you won’t be disappointed!

Happy, happy Friday from the Sisterhood!

~Toni

Sisterhood Spotlight: Lainey Gossip

I have a dirty little secret: I love gossip.

Celebrity gossip, that is.

I love it. It’s more than a guilty-pleasure beach-read. I consume celebrity gossip.

I can tell you that Blake Lively is in Cannes right now. I can tell you that Johnny Depp has left his long-time girlfriend and mother of his children for someone much younger and obscure. I can tell you that the reigning bachelor has fallen into the marriage trap with a beautiful, powerful, successful lawyer, not starlet (the market will be emptier without you on it, George).

And the place that I love getting my gossip? My favourite place for curating the snafus, wins, fashion fails, and questionable behaviour of the rich and famous is Lainey Gossip.

Lainey

I love Lainey.

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She’s smart. She’s biting. She started from nothing and has built a business around smut. She has principles (like not covering reality stars and avoiding what she calls ‘sad smut’). And she’s a good writer.

I started reading her blog after I noticed she was a gossip correspondent on etalk, the first all-Canadian entertainment show, years ago. And I haven’t stopped.

She loves the royals. She avoids talking Kardashian. She now co-hosts my favourite daytime TV show, The Social, And she has given a TED Talk about gossip, arguing that gossip says more about us as a society, as a culture, than it does about the subjects of the gossip.

Lainey wants a school of gossip and culture studies.

Faculty of Celebrity Studies

Faculty of Celebrity Studies

I think it’s brilliant – celebrity culture has taken over our world in many, many ways. I adore that Lainey has an intellectual take on it, while serving up the guiltiest of pleasures.

If you’re looking for a smart read, a fun read, and a read that will make you come back for more, check out Lainey Gossip. Your appetite for smut will not be disappointed.

~ Julia