Category Archives: Welcome to Our World

2013 … Are You Ready???

Our Wish For You - Teal-Mocha

 If  2013 is anything like 2012 has been, we’d all better pull the lap bar down a little more snug and get ready for another crazy ride!

From man-made tragedies, such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsizing off of the Italian coast, to natural disasters, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, NJ, causing at least 100 deaths and an estimated $30 billion in damages – local and world wide events have commanded top headlines.

England hosted this year’s Summer Olympic Games for the third time in history; the only city to have done so on as many occasions. The US brought home a total of 104 medals, including 3 gold in gymnastics and 16 gold in swimming.  England also made headlines in other areas this year, too, including Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Additionally, the world reacted with joy at the news of the pending birth of a new royal baby when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was hospitalized for a severe case of morning sickness.

 Our hearts have broken, and our heads have bowed in prayer over many heartbreaking stories throughout the year, including the Nevada wildfire where more than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate when a fast-moving brush fire broke out near Reno, NV, leaving one person dead and at least 26 homes destroyed.

In March, tornadoes ripped through 17 states in the South and Midwest, causing at least 27 deaths and injuring hundreds.

In April, One Goh, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland, Calif., opened fire on the campus, killing seven people and wounding several others.

Twelve people were killed and 58 others were wounded in a Colorado theater shooting in July when a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in a Denver suburb during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. James Holmes, 24, was arrested in a parking lot behind the theater and arraigned by Colorado prosecutors and charged with 142 counts, including first degree murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives.

 On December 14th, in what was likely the most senseless and stunning tragedy, Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, CT, and killed 26 people.  The victims included 20 children between the ages of six and seven.

However, even as heavy-hearted as some of these stories are, you can also find good in almost anything.  Most recently, Newtown’s police offers, who had been working around the clock monitoring traffic, patrolling funerals and investigating the crime scene, were blessed by other Connecticut police officers from nearby communities who volunteered to work so that the mourning town’s officers could relax on the Christmas holiday and spend time with their own families and loved ones.  Those who volunteered to work also offered to donate any money they made Tuesday to Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.

Also, as tragic as the Sandy Hook Elementary School events were, they could have been even worse.  Victoria Soto, one of the teachers at the school, hid her first graders in cabinets and closets after hearing the gunfire.  When the shooter came to her classroom, she told him that her students were in the gym.  Even though he gunned her down before moving on, she saved the lives of all of her students.  I have no doubt that even as many parents’ hearts are breaking, many others are saying prayers of thanks.

Amidst all the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, “Secret Santa”, a wealthy philanthropist from Kansas City, MO, traveled to Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas by the superstorm, to bless others by handing out $100 bills to random strangers.  One by one, this anonymous businessman lifted holiday spirits and brought hope and tears of happiness to many who had lost so much.  One lady, who didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas after her home was destroyed in the storm, encountered the mysterious Secret Santa in a thrift shop and was given $300.  “It just changed everything,” she said.

 We also look back on 2012 and pause to think of some of the people who have slipped from this world to another … Etta James (1-25-12), Whitney Houston (2-11-12), Davy Jones (2-29-12), Dick Clark (4-18-12), Donna Summer (5-17-12), Andy Griffith (7-3-12), Marvin Hamlisch (8-6-12), Larry Hagman (11-25-12), Dave Brubeck (12-5-12), and Jack Klugman (12-24-12), just to remember a few.  Many of my friends and family have also said goodbye to loved ones, closing chapters in books that will never make the headlines of any local or national news stories, but that doesn’t mean they will be missed any less.

 2012 found Calvin and I with our share of trials and blessings, too … luckily, there were more of the latter.

 We celebrated our 8-year anniversary in November.  Below is a picture that was taken at the chapel on our wedding day in 2004 .  .  .

Happy Anniversary

.  .  . and I am thankful to say that, after being diagnosed with throat cancer two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, he has remained cancer-free since completing his radiation treatments.  That’s not to say he doesn’t still have obstacles and frustrations from the after-effects of the radiation, but I’m so very thankful that he’s here to ring in 2013 with me!


This past year also found us working together in the kitchen to nourish our bodies, as well as our hearts.  While neither of us can claim the title of “chef”, we certainly haven’t gone hungry, either.

Calvin loves Key Lime Pie, so I modified a recipe earlier this year and came up with a Key Lime “Pie” Cupcake.


Another thing we experimented with was a Chicken Pot Pie recipe … on a whim we decided to replace the carrots with sweet potatoes.  Winner!!


Calvin also modified his homemade whole wheat bread recipe.  While it was already a good, crusty, artisan-style recipe, he changed up a few things and has now come up with a not-quite-as-crusty, and much more moist bread recipe.  Great for dipping in a mix of olive oil, Italian Seasonings, basil and minced garlic.

Calvins Wheat Bread

I cannot overlook mentioning the great clients we’ve had at the photography studio this year!  High School and College Seniors … BELOVED sessions … moms-to-be … newborns … pets … First Year Celebrations … weddings … so much fun!  But I also enjoyed doing some shooting “just for me”.

These crocus were among some of the first spring blooms that peeked up through the soil …


I was also surprised at how beautiful a simple mustard bloom can be …


I found these gorgeous beauties in the Albemarle Downtown area late spring while on a photo walk with some fellow local photographers …


While I was simply out walking around our yard, testing some of our lenses, photographing some of the scattered wildflowers, I came across a couple of Queen Anne’s Lace flowers that appeared to be wrapped in an embrace in a world all their own.  Yes, it is indeed some of those unexpected glimpses that hold those “Wow!” moments for me …


And I’m always fascinated by the butterflies as they flutter around, collecting nectar and dancing on the breeze.  The images I have are too numerous to include them all here, but these are a couple of my favorites from this year …


And how could I not include a Monarch …


So, now we look forward to 2013 … with a lot of uncertainty and even more hope.

As thousands across the nation ring in the New Year in Time’s Square and other various parties and events, Calvin and I will be celebrating quietly, but joyfully – likely with a toast at midnight (if we can stay up that late).   The New Year will, without a doubt, bring a lot of changes for both of us … I will be starting classes the second week in January (yes, I’m actually going back to school!), and we’ll be trying to balance our personal lives with our work/school responsibilities, along with the photography studio.  I am so thankful to be blessed to have Calvin by my side as we walk together into the New Year.

Several changes will be coming for the photography studio, too.  We’ve already started re-working the website and the blog, and we’ll be doing a complete re-do of the front window at the studio as well as updating our pricing and adding even more items to an already-great product line.  Below are some images showing the gallery wraps we’ll be offering, along with the Certificate of Authenticity and Care Card for each fine art wall portrait purchased.

Product-Gallery Wrap

As I close this post and get ready to celebrate the evening – reflecting upon memories past, and looking forward to new ones yet to be made, I want to extend an old Irish Blessing to you and yours:

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life’s passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!


Happy New Year! 

Let’s Do This!!

Happy New Year!!

The twinkling lights and the sparkly ornaments are tucked away for another year.  We shared a toast and a New Year’s kiss atmidnight, and ready or not – 2012 is here!  Where did 2011 go?  It seemed like it was only a few months ago (not 12!) that we were at the studio taking the last year’s Christmas tree out of the window.  The year seems like it has literally flown by, but so much happened and we have been blessed beyond measure in both our personal and professional lives.

Miami – Trump Hotel … view of the ocean from the pool area


We had an awesome trip to Miami in May, we attended the “Red Velvet Tour” workshop (a crazy-fun boudoir workshop) with Kay Eskridge in September, I got a hug from Jerry Ghionis in February at the Power of Passion Tour, we attended an over-the-top vendor networking/soiree event in January in Asheville and we also attended Sandy Puc’ “Creative Edge Kids Tour” as well as the Sallee/Nordstrom “Turn The Key” tour.

Red Velvet Tour – Silhouette image of model Meaghan

Red Velvet Tour – Model Ciara in front of the backdrop we won at the workshop; can’t wait to use this in our own studio sessions!


One of the biggest changes we’ve made in the studio this year has been transitioning to in-studio viewing/ordering sessions following client’s portrait sessions.  I enjoy every aspect of what we do (except, of course, for the paperwork and the taxes), but I do believe that the in-studio viewing/ordering sessions are becoming my favorite part of the whole experience!  Our collaboration with the client and everyone’s hard work to make a great session culminates in that moment when we see our clients’ faces as they see their custom-designed slideshow set to music for the first time.  We’ve seen smiles, heard laughter and wiped tears, and I’ve loved every minute.

Asheville Vendor Soiree – Attendees gathered in the Century Room and were treated to sodas, drinks, cake and bluegrass music.  We later boarded a trolley and were taken to the Grand Bohemian …

Asheville Vendor Soiree – Grand Bohemian ballroom gorgeously decorated and featuring fabulous sushi and fruit bars along with vendor samples and a wonderful DJ

Asheville Vendor Soiree – Grand Bohemian Terrace where more hors d’oeuvres and wine were served along with more vendor networking


There will be more exciting things coming to ALP, Inc., in 2012, including a before/after makeover event in February (with additional events being scheduled if the first one goes well), we will be debuting our “ALP Inspirations” gift line, and we will be releasing details about our newest project – “ALP Chrysalis/Boutique Boudoir – Be*You*tiful”.  To be among the first to find out about events taking place at the studio, you can “like” Artistic Life Photography, Inc. on our Facebook page at:

ALP Inspirations – Oval sticker we are considering using for packaging and labeling for our gift line of products


We appreciate those of you have supported and encouraged us, and we are grateful for the clients who entrust their precious memories to us.  Thank you – each and every one of you – in whatever positive way you’ve touched our lives, and may your coming year be filled with abundant blessings!


New Year’s Prayer

-Author Unknown-

May God make your year a happy one!

Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,

But by strengthening you to bear it, when it comes;

Not by making your path easy,

But by making you sturdy to travel any path;

Not by taking hardships from you,

But by taking fear from your heart;

Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,

But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;

Not by making your life always pleasant,

But by showing you when people and the causes

Need you most,

And by making you anxious to be there to help.

God’s love, peace and joy to you for the year ahead.

Teach the children…

Late one Christmas Eve, I sank back, tired but content, into my easy chair. The kids were in bed, the gifts were wrapped, the milk and cookies waited by the fireplace for Santa. As I sat back admiring the tree with its decorations, I couldn’t help feeling that something important was missing. It wasn’t long before the tiny twinkling tree lights lulled me to sleep.  I don’t know how long I slept, but all of a sudden I knew that I wasn’t alone. I opened my eyes, and you can imagine my surprise when I saw Santa Claus himself standing next to my Christmas tree. He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot just as the poem described him, but he was not the “jolly old elf” of Christmas legend. The man who stood before me looked sad and disappointed, and there were tears in his eyes.

“Santa, what’s wrong?” I asked, “Why are you crying?”

“It’s the children,” Santa replied sadly.

“But Santa, the children love you,” I said.

“Oh, I know they love me, and they love the gifts I bring them,” Santa said, “but the children of today seem to have somehow missed out on the true spirit of Christmas. It’s not their fault. It’s just that the adults, many of them not having been taught themselves, have forgotten to teach the children.”

“Teach them what?” I asked.

Santa’s kind old face became soft, more gentle. His eyes began to shine with something more than tears. He spoke softly. “Teach the children the true meaning of Christmas. Teach them that the part of Christmas we can see, hear, and touch is much more than meets the eye. Teach them the symbolism behind the customs and traditions of Christmas which we now observe. Teach them what it is they truly represent.”  Santa reached into his bag and pulled out a tiny Christmas tree and set it on my mantle. “Teach them about the Christmas tree. Green is the second color of Christmas. The stately evergreen, with its unchanging color, represents the hope of eternal life in Jesus. Its needles point heavenward as a reminder that mankind’s thoughts should turn heavenward as well.”

Santa reached into his bag again and pulled out a shiny star and placed it at the top of the small tree. “The star was the heavenly sign of promise. God promised a Savior for the world and the star was the sign of the fulfillment of that promise on the night that Jesus Christ was born. Teach the children that God always fulfills His promises, and that wise men still seek Him.”

“Red,” said Santa, “is the first color of Christmas.” “He pulled forth a red ornament for the tiny tree. Red is deep, intense, vivid. It is the color of the life-giving blood that flows through our veins. It is the symbol of God’s greatest gift. Teach the children that Christ gave his life and shed his blood for them that they might have eternal life. When they see the color red, it should remind them of that most wonderful gift.”

Santa found a silver bell in his pack and placed it on the tree. “Just as lost sheep are guided to safety by the sound of the bell, it continues to ring today for all to be guided to the fold. Teach the children to follow the true Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep.”

Santa placed a candle on the mantle and lit it. The soft glow from its one tiny flame brightened the room. “The glow of the candle represents how people can show their thanks for the gift of God’s son that Christmas Eve long ago. Teach the children to follow in Christ’s foot steps…to go about doing good. Teach them to let their light so shine before people that all may see it and glorify God. This is what is symbolized when the twinkle lights shine on the tree like hundreds of bright, shining candles, each of them representing one of God’s precious children, their light shining for all to see.”

Again Santa reached into his bag and this time he brought forth a tiny red and white striped cane. As he hung it on the tree he spoke softly. “The candy cane is a stick of hard white candy. White to symbolize the virgin birth and sinless nature of Jesus, and hard to symbolize the Solid Rock the foundation of the church, and the firmness of God’s promises. The candy cane is in the form of a “J” to represent the precious name of Jesus, who came to earth. It also represents the Good Shepherd’s crook, which He uses to reach down into the ditches of the world to lift out the fallen lambs who, like all sheep, have gone astray. The original candy cane had three small red stripes, which are the stripes of the scourging Jesus received by which we are healed, and a large red stripe that represents the shed blood of Jesus, so that we can have the promise of eternal life.

“Teach these things to the children.”

Santa brought out a beautiful wreath made of fresh, fragrant greenery tied with a bright red bow. “The bow reminds us of the bond of perfection, which is love. The wreath embodies all the good things about Christmas for those with eyes to see and hearts to understand. It contains the colors of red and green and the heaven-turned needles of the evergreen. The bow tells the story of good will towards all and its color reminds us of Christ’s sacrifice. Even its very shape is symbolic, representing eternity and the eternal nature of Christ’s love. It is a circle, without beginning and without end. These are the things you must teach the children.”

I asked, “But where does that leave you, Santa?”

The tears gone now from his eyes, a smile broke over Santa’s face. “Why bless you, my dear,” he laughed, “I’m only a symbol myself. I represent the spirit of family fun and the joy of giving and receiving. If the children are taught these other things, there is no danger that I’ll ever be forgotten.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand.”

“That’s why I came,” said Santa. “You’re an adult. If you don’t teach the children these things, then who will?”

~ Author Unknown ~


He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.  ~Roy L. Smith

May you never forget what is worth remembering.

Warmest wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with abundant blessings!