In Inspiration on
December 6, 2017

‘Tis the season of advent

This coming Sunday marked the start of Advent. Growing up, living with my grandparents, I have fond memories of this time of year. Every night at dinner (6:30 sharp) my grandma would light the advent candle, which was displayed in the kitchen, and would be the focal point at our dinner table. I loved what it stood for and I loved waiting for the next week, where she would light the next candle. It was something special that I was a part of and wanted to carry on as a tradition in our family as well. To me, celebrating advent is a great reminder of what the season is truly all about.

The season of Advent lasts the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. It is a celebration of the time we are waiting and preparing for the celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The season of advent starts this year on December 3rd and ends on Christmas Eve.

One of the most common Advent traditions involves the use of evergreen wreaths, branches, and trees. On the first Sunday of Advent, churches and homes are decorated with green to symbolize the eternal life that Jesus brings. An Advent wreath—an evergreen circle with four colored candles surrounding a white one in the middle—is placed in a prominent spot. The candles are then lit one at a time, each Sunday leading up until Christmas. The first candle is the candle of “hope” or “expectation.” On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the center white candle is lit, which is called the “Christ Candle,” a reminder that Jesus, the Light of the Word, has come.

The candle colors and their meaning:

Purple has traditionally been the primary color of Advent, symbolizing repentance and fasting. Purple is also the color of royalty and the sovereignty of Christ.

Pink is also one of the colors of Advent used during the third Sunday of Advent. Pink represents joy or rejoicing and reveals a shift in the season away from repentance and toward celebration.

White is the color of Advent representing purity and light. Many of the advent wreaths contain a 5th candle, the white candle. This is lit on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The white candle represents Jesus Christ, who is our sinless, spotless, pure Savior. He is the light come into a dark and dying world. Also, those who receive Jesus Christ as Savior are washed of their sins and made whiter than snow.

 

I did not have a ‘traditional’ round advent wreath, so I decided to go a little non-traditional this year. Being that I have a one year old, who could very easily get his hands on these candles, I decided to go with this metal taper candle holder, which could be kept high on our kitchen counter, being visible from all angles of our living space. I filled the inside of the box with evergreen to represent the eternal life that Jesus brings.

I look forward to lighting the candles each night at dinner with my family gathered around the table and being reminded of what this month is really about. As Advent draws closer, another candle will be lit. With each candle that is light, the darkness will disappear more and more. The advent wreath helps us to spiritually connect the story that surrounds the birth of Jesus, which ultimately leads to our salvation! Thank you Jesus for your promise.


What are some of your holiday traditions? Would love to hear from you!

In Lifestyle on
November 29, 2017

How to take better quality pictures that will capture people’s attention

Hello everyone! Hope you are having a great day! I have had a bunch of people asking me lately about how I take “such great photos.” First, I’d like to thank you for your great compliments. I love that people think and I am a great photographer, enough to leave me sweet comments like that. I LOVE to take photos so this really warms my heart to hear and motives me to keep it up!

I am happy to share with you my ‘secrets”- (not really), but you know what I mean.

1. I put a lot of thought into my photos. Creating an idea for photo isn’t always as simple as it may seem. I have to think about creative ways to capture my audience and engage my readers.

2. I use editing apps to enhance my iPhone photos. Photos taken on my camera are edited after in Lightroom.

3. I have a photographer who I shoot with once a month who shoots pictures of (mainly) myself, but my family as well time to time. 

4. I take a ton and ton of pictures and choose the best one to post to IG.

 

Another question I get asked a lot is, what camera do I shoot with? To be a honest a lot of my photos are taken with my iPhone 6 plus, but my professional camera is my Canon XS Rebel. I switch between my 18-55mm and 50mm prime lens. My favorite lens to shoot with is my 50mm because it gives the nice blurred background (bokeh), is super sharp, offers great lighting and I can shoot at a faster speed.

Since this post was written, I am now shooting with my new Canon EOS 70D. Which I absolutely LOVE!

Here are some helpful tips when shooting:

  1. Use natural light whenever possible. Outside light is the best. You will get crisp, clean photos when you shoot in good lighting. Great lighting is your friend 😉
  2. If shooting with your DSLR camera, shoot in RAW. The image sizes are larger and take up more space on your computer, but you can edit your photos after with more flexibility. For instance, if you get a really dark shot- you can edit the images in Lightroom after, which can drastically change the lighting to help revive your picture.
  3. Don’t be afraid to edit your pictures. Editing is my favorite part about taking photos. Sit me down with my computer, a glass of wine, and some recently captured photos & I’m as happy as can be! Whether you are using apps from your phone or Lightroom on your computer, editing can really help enhance your image!
  4. Get creative. Think outside of the box. Take pictures using different perspectives. I love taking flat lay photos (shots from above looking down on top of an object) – they are my fav!
  5. Try to keep your pictures as straight as possible. Use the grid line feature on your phone. Take pictures using the rule of ‘thirds’ helps to create a well balanced and interesting shot. Example: Take a picture off-center to make it creative, not just directly in the middle of your picture.
  6. If you have an Iphone – use portrait mode for up close pictures of people or objects/nature, it rocks!
  7. Have fun! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Taking great pictures takes time and practice!

Some of my favorite editing apps:

When using iphone editing apps I almost always sharpen, brighten + boost contrast in my images.

  1. VSCO Cam. This app is one of my favorites for editing photos. I like to edit my exposure in this app, this is how I get my pictures super bright. Also, you can straighten your images here. So don’t worry if you took the picture a bit “off”, you can correct it here. This is the main app that I use. I also save my edits, so that I can copy & paste them to my other photos- to create that consistent look on my insta.
  2. PS Express.  A good blogger friend of mine uses this app and her secret is to brighten the photo, up the contrast, lower the warmth (so they look less yellow and more ‘cool’ blue) and sometimes denoise (which takes out the grain in the photo- when a photo is taken in a dark place or at night)
  3. Snapseed. Great to adjust white balance. If your image appears ‘off white’, you can adjust it here, amongst tons of other options for editing your images.
  4. Camera +. is another great option for some cool filters.

 

What’s your secret to taking great pictures? I would love to hear them! Leave your comments below 🙂

 

In Lifestyle on
November 27, 2017

It’s beginning to look like a lot like Christmas

This past weekend we went to Wintergreen Tree Farms in Lafayette, NJ. This was our first time trying out a new tree farm, since the last 3 years we went to Hidden Pond in Mendham. It was a nice change of scenery and felt good to change things up a bit. It didn’t take us long to find a tree, mainly because we didn’t want to walk too far 😉 TJ pointed at the first tree we walked up to and jokingly said, “this is it!” We found a tree very close by and that was it. We aren’t picky people. All the trees were beautiful. Here’s a little glimpse into our day! 

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