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

When opportunity tackles you

This is definitely long overdue, and with everything that has been going on, I definitely do want to mention this. Our Brother (in-law) gave me an opportunity.

Ben plays Aussie Football. In Ontario. CANADA.

Now I have never heard about Aussie Football, I have never ever even heard about this sport before, and I am not even going to attempt to explain it to you.

What I can tell you is that it is an intense sport to watch, and I am betting an even more intense game to play.
DSC_4709I have known that Ben has played this game for the last year or so, and when I got an email from him, I was shocked, and super excited and touched by the opportunity he presented to me.
DSC_4939.1Ben sent me an email asking me if I would be interested in coming to his games and taking photos for them, the only thing he wanted to make sure is that I knew it was free.

Like that would stop me.

Honestly, I have not been able to touch my camera. I have gotten camera shy.

I don’t think my photos are any good, and I don’t think that I have any talent whatsoever, so it has scared me.

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It has scared me to have a camera in my hand, because what if I let someone down?

However, Ben has given me an incredible gift. He has given me a new kind of opportunity to put a camera back in my hand and get back to my passion and the thing that I love.

This blog is dedicated to you Ben. You are an awesome Big Brother, and I cannot thank you enough for getting me back to what is so me, and something that I have missed so much.
DSC_5006.1THANK YOU.

You should go over and check out more photos, and the game/players over at The Grand River Gargoyles website! If you are in the area for games as well, go check them out! They are great players and a great team and deserve a ton of support.

~ Andreah

Married my Mr. Wright

We are back, and the main reason for our short, but needed, hiatus was that I was busy being a DIY bride who took all her resources (her maids) and used them to their extent! Seriously, I almost broke some of them…and yet they still love me!

Toni and Julia were both my MOH’s and they both, combined, were the most amazing MOH a girl could ask for. Toni took the week with me leading up to the wedding to help me with the running around, cleaning, last minuit detailing…eveyrthing! While Julia made the stationary and hand pies, which were half of our desserts at the reception.

I have written mushy and gooshy posts before about my lovely husband (gotta get used to that…husband), and how excited I am to be a Wright. I can’t wait to get all my legal documentation, to change the tag line on my emails and to officially and legally become a Wright. Because then I will never be wrong (I have been hearing that a lot lately…everyone’s a comedian! Yuk it up people, it’s getting old fast!)

So now for the details! I am so happy I have this platform to rave about all our vendors!

When Cody and I discussed our big day, we both agreed – relaxed and loving – a true representation of us as a couple! We are country bumpkins, and I have pinned so many pictures of barn weddings, bridesmaids in cowboy boots, bales of hay with burlap, lace and colour – so much colour! Based on that, our venue choice was simple – a barn.

We got our venue…now for the food!

For this I went to a seasoned expert: Cody! He wanted a pig roast, or something simple like that. Nothing frufru or with anything we couldn’t pronounce. Toni helped with this one as she connected me to Sean from Wild Boar who took our idea and created one of the best meals that we ever enjoyed (I got to enjoy leftovers, because if you have EVER tried to eat anything in a wedding dress…it’s kind of impossible). I have never had so many people ask me who our caters were, or rave about the amazing meal! The cornbread, the pork, the chicken – all so mouth-watering, and all so good! If you are reading this and are in the Waterloo area with a wedding or any event coming up, call Sean. Seriously, you will not be disappointed!

Next came the dress – I originally went to David’s Bridal in Cambridge, where I felt like my idea and my dream wedding dress was not possible, and I would have to take a dress they had and alter it, which in a lot of cases people have to do! I had a good chunk of my cheering section with me – my momma bear, two older sisters who are my maids of honour, and two brides maids Andreah and Ashley. When they saw how defeated I looked, they reminded me that I shouldn’t settle, and this was only the first store I went to. So on we went – it was a Sunday as this is the day that worked the best for me…because I was the bride…so we were limited to the stores that were open. Something about Sunday being for Jesus?

Anyways, Julia had previously posted on my Facebook timeline about a store in Guelph where a chunk of their proceeds go back to building the green belt called Something Green – I had never heard of it, unlike David’s, but they were open so we went!

It is a small store downtown Guelph. We walked in and Jess, one of the owners, greeted us with the biggest smile (fun fact: the other owner is her mom!). I told her my budget and my dream dress. As I was talking she was walking and pulling gowns, all the while telling me that I should not be settling for my dress. I tried on two dresses – the second one I tried on I was grinning from ear to ear even before the curtains were pulled open for my big debut. Jess decided to add a veil for the full effect because we both knew: this was the one. THE DRESS! Now every time one of my Facebook friends get engaged, or asks for a bridal boutique to go to, I shout from the keyboard Something Green!

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My dress, from Something Green; Nicole on the left and Kim on the right, two of my bridesmaids, dressed by EmmaPaige

Now that I had my dress, it was time for my girls! I was in a wedding in September 2014 for one of my oldest friends Kim (in the picture above!) and her bridesmaid dresses were made by Paige of EmmaPaige Designs, whom Kim and I also went to high school with. Paige was a dream – she took exactly what we wanted in a dress, within an EXTREMELY reasonable budget and created different dresses for all the girls, which is exactly what she did for my ladies! Each one had a different style, and colour. Paige, again is someone who I tell EVERY bride to go to. She is flexible and so unbelievably talented! Instead of going to a bridal store and getting a cookie cutter dress which some girls may have to order in ridiculous sizes, why not get the luxury of a custom dress which is created for each girls body type!  She also created my getaway dress – an adorable ivory wrap dress with a big bow and ruffles around the collar which I danced the night away in!

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Me with one of my amazing bridesmaids, Ashley – both of our dresses are EmmaPaige originals.

All my stationary my designed and created by my amazing sister Julia who is starting up her own business! From our place cards, invitations, thank you cards, and even our programs for the day – EVERYTHING was handmade by her! The mom of three psychos! She is also the one who made the hand pies (which are literally pies you fit in your hand) for our desserts! 150 of them to be exact in four different flavours!!

Our photographer extraordinaire is the one and only Heather Baker of Photography by Heather. (click that link if you want to see an amazing sampling of some our big day). She is amazing! She has worked with our family on so many occasions whether it was our family photos or pictures of my nieces and nephew! She usually doesn’t do weddings, but she said yes to mine! She was so relaxed, yet was able to handle the insanity of my family and Cody’s. Every picture she has shown me is absolutely perfect, and I can not believe I get these amazing memories of our day!!

My bridesmaid Kim did all the decor, including the centrepieces using silk flowers. She made it so I…*we*…could set up the night before and leave it. But I wanted fresh beautiful, full, wild-flower bouquets for all my girls! Krista from Flowers…More Often met with me, looked at all my swatches, listened to all my crazy ideas and then took those ideas and ran with them! I trusted her wholeheartedly as she has an amazing talent! When the bouquets were dropped off the morning of the wedding at the hotel room, I cried. Okay, I bawled! They were perfect. Absolutely amazing. They were romantic, full of colour and EVERYONE said that they were beautiful!

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Photo credit : Photography by Heather; Bouquet – ALL KRISTA at Flowers…More Often!

I literally look back on the day, and see all of our loved ones who came, all of our family and friends who worked so hard to help us out, all the late nights, the running around hunting for the perfect touches, everything, and it was so worth it. I would never do it again in a million years, but it was totally unequivocally worth every extra grey hair on my head.

~ Jacqui

Finding the love

So, you may or may not have noticed that I am a photographer. You also may have noticed that lately (like the last year) I have not picked up or used my camera. Or, at least, when I have, I haven’t told anybody.

There are reasons for that. Reasons that I really don’t want to talk about and I really don’t want to focus on. Needless to say, I am working on figuring that all out.

HOWEVER.

They really liked this bridge!

They really liked this bridge!

I picked up my camera.

They are SO pretty!

They are SO pretty!

I took photos.

Laughing at themselves!

Laughing at themselves!

I remembered the love.

Awesome sisters!

Awesome sisters!

I remembered why I wanted to be a photographer and why I decided to do all this in the first place.

Molly!

Molly!

I fell back in love.

Hanna!

Hanna!

Like I said, I’m working on not being so ridiculous and actually trying to work my craft again.

I also got put back in my place via text message from Hanna (one of the two sisters in the above photos).
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I want to thank you two lovely ladies for this awesome opportunity – you were both fantastic models and wonderful friends!

~ Andreah

Banana bread baking bonanza!

There are certain foods, desserts, breads, dishes that invoke memories. Some of childhood, others of your fiance and one of his friends making banana bread in your oven and almost starting a fire because the two of them have never baked before and therefore were not aware that banana BREAD rises (Needless to say, the mix ran over the side, and all over the bottom of my oven. Thank GOODNESS for self-cleaning ovens! That being said it was some pretty amazing banana bread). I couldn’t tell you what provoked them to bake, but now whenever I have bananas left over from the bunch, I remember the smoke…the horrible smell…my smoking oven… and how good that banana bread was.  If you ask Cody, bananas should only be bought to turn old and to then be put in the freezer to await the great baking of banana bread. So I thought I would share with you the adventure that our latest batch of bananas took.

There are some key components to making anything… first, it’s always more fun if you have people to bake with – I enlisted my sisters (duh) except Dee, as that trip would be ridiculous to just make banana bread and then have her go home…so we thought of her in spirit!

Toni arrived late…shockingly enough…but she came with about 20 bananas, and there is this thing called unconditional love!

Better late then never ...

Better late then never …

You can’t stay mad at that face – she was in charge of taking pictures for this extravaganza

First we peeled our bananas – we doubled our recipe, this way one pan would have chocolate chips…dark chocolate chips…and the other plain Jane for Cody who is lactose intolerant.

They look gross... but it will taste GREAT!

They look gross… but it will taste GREAT!

They look more slimy than normal because they were still slightly frozen.

We added our eggs, our oil, and the sugar

Banana, Eggs, Oil, Sugar ...

Banana, eggs, oil, sugar…

Combine your ingredients so they are still lumpy.  When I combined them, I used a fork and mushed the banana chunks a bit because they were still a little frozen.

Mushy and chunky!

Mushy and chunky!

In a separate bowl, add your dry ingredients, other than the sugar which was previously added with your banana and oil mixture – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg – and combine them together.

"No honey's no jam's .... just  dry" Ingredients that is

“No honeys, no jams, just dry”…ingredients that is!

I should tell you that at this point you should ensure that your “photographer” isn’t taking selfies…and that they are PAYING ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

You are going to pour the wet ingredients into the dry! Normally it’s the other way around – banana bread can be a sneaky bitch!

Look at that action shot!

Look at that action shot!

Stir your wet and dry together just to combine them – you want this mixture to still be lumpy like pancake batter.

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Toni and Julia at this point were delusional with giddiness – and constantly taking pictures of themselves, instead of the master pieces we were making!

Our resident baker and resident picture taker!

Our resident baker and resident picture-taker!

Back to business – grease two (because we doubled the recipe)  bread pans so your delicious-ness will sliddddeee right out!

We used butter ... mmmmm butter!

We used butter…mmmmm butter!

Pour your mixture into both pans about halfway. If you fill them to the brim then they will over flow, and make the biggest smokiest mess EVER! So half way… (Editor’s note: if you just make a single batch, put all of the batter in one pan. It’ll be fine. I promise. And if it’s not, just offer the firemen some banana bread. They’ll LOVE it.)

Half way! Take heed!  Half  Way

Half way! Take heed!
Half
Way

 

They looked SO Yummy!!!

They are going to be so yummy!

We added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to one of our pans, and mixed it without disturbing the mojo of the mixture!

Adding our sweetness!

Adding our sweetness!

Pop those bad boys into the oven and let them cook to delicious perfection!

Two buns in the oven!

Two buns in the oven!

Let them bake for 55-60 minutes, which is just enough time to plan a little something something! Which you should stay tuned for a little later on this year!

Shhhh it's an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Shhhh it’s an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Okay, so 60 minutes have passed, the secret has been planned and now it’s time to take out those delicious treats we made!

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

I would suggest eating it warm – the chocolate chips are ooey and gooey, the top is crispy and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven treat! YUM. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you have yourself pure morning bliss!

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And enjoy!

~ Jacqui

Yummy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 16/1 loaf
  • Time: 90 minutes total
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Grease loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips or walnuts, in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Home and Gardens Best Banana Bread Recipe