Anniversary Photo Shoot

A few months back, our friend and epic Spokane based photographer, Amber Glanville, inquired about meeting up for a photo shoot near Vantage, WA. A great opportunity to experiment with a super awesome (and out of the way) location, play with a mix of film and digital equipment, and capture some amazing golden hour summer light. We were in! It was the perfect way to commemorate our third anniversary.

Little did we know that the date we choose would be 107 degrees! We met Amber at the Vantage gas station and then spent 3+ hours driving around to shoot in 4 stunning locations. We had never been to Echo Basin or the Vantage campground, so it was a great opportunity to discover a place we cannot wait to revisit.

And the photos? They are stunning. Amber, thank your for these amazing memories.

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Remembering August 10th

It has been nearly 3 years since our wedding but I am just now getting around to putting our photos in album form. I made a beautiful book for each set of parents, but wanted a special copy with just our favorites in one for us.

Fast forward 2+ years and those beautiful images are still just sitting on the computer. I just finished two albums for other people and decided to power through and just finish mine. Two marathon sessions and two very tired eyes later I had the book complete, just in time to still apply a 60% off code.

I am thrilled with the design, and even more excited that our photos will finally be in our hands!

The process of making these books is one of my favorite things to do. I am getting a system down to take other people’s photos and create books for them and it is going smoother each time. I hope to eventually start a side business where I do this for busy people who don’t have time to get their photos into books.

Here is a sneak peek ours:

My 12 Days of Christmas

I came up with the idea to have my own Christmas 2013 blog countdown. As Christmas is getting nearer, I have a ton on my mind and wanted to capture some of it on here in a more organized way. So….welcome to my 12 days of Christmas countdown! I am going to be reflecting on favorite memories, important things in my life, holiday traditions, places and people in a format crammed into some pre-define numerical context. We will see how it goes. Come along for the ride!



When I first think of 12, a dozen immediately comes to mind. There are lots of things that I could relate to a dozen: our weekly adventure to find local eggs on the island, buying doughnuts, the stacks of egg cartons in the basement waiting for our future eggs. I think that last night I found a perfect kickoff topic though: a review of the past 12 months. No, I will not rehash that here, but last night Matt and I sat down and went through thousands of photos from our past year of adventures. We were embarking on the annual task of putting together a Christmas card!

In previous years I have used Costco for their inexpensive holiday card options, but this year wanted something with a little more umph. I found a great website called PearTree Greetings (there are MANY card company options out there!) for making cards that are slightly more personal, and higher quality for just a smidge more cost. The one we picked also allows for two sides and a LOT more content! We looked through Facebook albums and file after file on the computer to select images. What we ended up with is pretty good. Not exactly what I wanted, but the Pinterest worthy couple photo shoot did not happen this year. 🙂  We had to make due with regular old life snapshots. (though next year I am scheming to have this photographer do a shoot for us!)

But what a fun year it was! Travel and school and buying a house. We had a lot happen these past 12 months. Christmas cards will go out soon and I cannot wait to see what people think of this year’s story.

If you want to try out PearTree Greetings here is a referral promo for $20 credit towards your first purchase! link

Come back tomorrow as the countdown continues to eleven!

Lake Serene

After a fantastic Father’s Day “breakfast for dinner” at Matt’s parents, we headed off early Sunday morning for a beautiful PNW day hiking Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls. Matt has been mentioning this hike since the day we met, and since WTA reports said the trail melted out this week, we decided it was a good day to try it.

What a stunning hike! Lush green, ripe salmon berries, beautiful waterfalls, and a stunning lake…the PNW at its best! For some reason my blog settings grey out the photos I post, so be sure to hover over them with your mouse to see their full color and glory! What a stunning day.

this was my favorite photo from the day:

Photobook Comparison: Blurb vs. MyPubisher vs. AdoramaPix

Those who know me know that I am ALWAYS taking pictures, and those of you know me better also know that I love to turn those photos into beautiful photobooks. I started this in college, after returning from 4 months in Africa. I wanted to share my images with friends and family without lugging around a computer. There is something special about turning pages of a book…I feel like it makes the images feel more like a story, which is actually what they are.

I started by reading tons of online reviews, and settled on for my first books. They seemed to be higher quality and I really liked the software that they provided. The print quality was nice too, though I would have liked the option for lay flat pages. Oh well, for the past 6 or so books, I have used Blurb and been quite happy. Their software is downloaded on your computer so you do not need an internet connection to work…and you get to work with photos stored on your hard drive. Pages are very customizable, and there are TONS of standard layout templates. Bonus: your custom templates can be saved and reused. Downside: not many discount codes or sales, so they can be pricy. Also they can have far more pages (probably becuase they are not lay flat) and since my annual books are over the 76 page limit of AdoramaPix, Blurb is still a go-to.

My mom has made some books on Snapfish and some other publishers that have sent free book coupons. They were ok. Very standard.

I was ready to start my next Blurb book, but…there could always be something better right? So I decided to try out I had a discount code and immediately liked the options they offer (lay flat pages, different cover finishes etc), but was very unimpressed with their software. It is hard to use and frustrating to customize. You cannot specify the size or dimensions of an image box. At least they give you grid lines to follow. I found it frustrating to use, but yes, it did work.

A few months ago I ordered my first book from MyPublisher. I was so excited to compare my old Blurb books to this newcomer, and see how the quality compares. I loved that they offered lay-flat pages, and had an ok software package for customizing layouts. Final result: I was happy with the book but they did not feel as high of quality even if the images were better than Blurb.

Fast forward a few months and I am working on another book…this time: AdoramaPix. This company has been on my mind for a long time now, but their initially higher cost was a turn off. I started working on a book after being drawn in to their steal of a deal on a 12 page book. I started designing on their online software and found it pretty easy to use, but limited in pre-made templates that I liked. I also did not like how clumsy it was to replicate spreads once I did customize them! Also, you work online with this software, which means you have to upload photos to the website to work with them. Be prepared to invest some time with this.

Adorama books are standard thicker photo quality paper with lay-flat pages, so I was really excited to see how the final product turned out. Result: I was BLOWN AWAY! The quality of the binding, printing, cover and images were all FAR superior to the previous books I have made. This is really a professional quality book, while the others are great, this one just really takes the cake. They are more expensive, but I was patient and waited around for a 30% off code. Well worth the wait! UPDATE: my most recent book I ordered for 60% off! Splurged and got the real leather cover too!

And the winners are:

Overall Quality: AdoramaPix, super high book quality, fast printing, excellent option for a special album (wedding, gift etc). Maxes out at 76 pages so not suitable for large volume books (like my annual yearbooks). (BONUS! if you create your book and wait around for a sale, I have seen deals for 20%-60% off!)

Price: Blurb is by far the more economical but still high end option. For a standard page set (14 or 20 pages) prices about tie, but as you increase pages, Adoramapix prices go up really FAST! Since many of my annual books are 100+ pages, I will probably be sticking with Blurb for those.

Software usability and customizability: Blurb …though Adorama pix is getting better with the recent update. Maybe I just have not found it, but the Adorama software does not let you save custom spreads as templates so you just have to copy/paste.

Image Qualtiy: AdoramaPix

Pages: AdoramaPix

Cover Quality: AdoramaPix

I am exited to make another book! Honeymoon book is in the works 🙂

UPDATE from 2017: I have fully transitioned to using for all my photobook publishing. Their quality is great and the software (online format) is easy to use. I have also decided from a personal preference that I like smaller more simple books as my collection grows. I now make 6×6 simple books from Zno that I love. Best of luck in your creativity!

Honeymoon Day 18: Santorini, Greece

An evening on the ship and a good night’s sleep and lots of water helped bring me back into balance after the heat incident in Ephesus, so we were all ready to go for the next day in Santorini. Santorini was another tendering port, and there was another catch in accessing this island: only 3 ways to get from sea level to the 1000 ft elevation town of Fira above: cable car, donkey, or hiking. We knew we did not want to push my climbing that early in the day (no repeats of shortened days!), we were both feeling icky from sinus infections, and wanted to make the most of our time on Santorini by getting to the top as fast as possible. The cable car is the obvious choice, but we knew that it is very slow, and cannot accommodate a ships worth of people very efficiently. We did not want to get stuck in a line, so we got up early, grabbed tender tickets early, scarfed breakfast, and got on the first boat in. No line! Perfect!

We had two main missions on Santorini: Minoan ruins of Acrotiri and photos and views in Oia. Problem: they were on opposite ends of the island. Solution: plan the day out efficiently. We grabbed a local bus schedule and hopped onto the first available bus to Acrotiri. The drive across the island was stunning, in a very dry, deserty way. It was extremely hot, arid, and brown. Most of the ground was desert dirt of volcanic rock/ash. The houses were all white, accented with bright blue and colorful bougainvillea flowers. This harsh landscape was back cast perfectly by the clear, deep blue water of the caldera. Really quite stunning and unlike any place I had ever been.

Like I mention in other posts, Matt loves history. His two favorite cultures: Roman and Minoan. And this was Minoan country. We were going to explore the ruins of an ancient, ancient people, a highly developed civilization dating back 3,500 years preserved under layers of volcanic debris. The archeological site of Acrotiri had actually been closed to tourists for the past 7 years so we were not expecting to see it, but we learned on the ship it had reopened in April! Just our luck! We toured around the beautifully excavated site (all covered and indoors…really ideal for such a hot place!) taking our time to soak it all in.

After Acroteri we were tempted to follow the bikini clad moped crew to the beach (Red Beach was just around the corner) but we decided to take the bus back to Oia and get the iconic Santorini view that I was craving. We could lounge on the pool deck later.

Oia did not disappoint. It was not the same quiet experience of exploring the ruins through. Every view was jam packed with tourists trying to replicate Santorini’s famous blue domed postcard images. We wandered town, took photos, and finally found some gyros for a late lunch. Gyros in Greece! Another local food checked off the list! The bus ride back to town was twisty and turny, and after scarfing down our gyros in record time (no food on the buses) we were feeling a bit queasy.

This time we did get caught in line for the cable car, but we enjoyed the view and were relieved that we at least did not miss the last tender boat!

First stop back onboard? Medical office. We were ready to admit that we needed something to take for these sinus infections. Everyone we had talked to had caught the same thing we did, so there was defiantly something going around the ship. It would have been better to get meds a few days earlier, but we were concerned that we could potentially, possibly, get quarantined to our room and miss Santorini. No way! However, when the nurse handed us Sudafed, we were so grateful.  A few hours later we were feeling better, sailing away, and enjoying our time aboard.