Belle Grove Plantation

One of the things I am constantly flabbergasted by since moving to Virginia is the history a stones throw away. No matter where you are, there’s events or people or places that have captivated the cameras and minds of tourists and locals alike. I was lucky enough to experience a bridal event at the beautiful Belle Grove Plantation in King George. Did you know : That’s where President James Madison was BORN? Pretty cool stuff. Especially for me, because I love learning about this beautiful area I’ve moved to! There’s even more history about the property than I was originally aware of and learned about after I went home and read more on their website.

When I walked up to the house, I was in complete awe. I was greeted at the door and given a tour right away! I’m pretty sure I drooled a little bit at the beautiful rooms they keep. I adore historic buildings and I could have just moved in right then and there if they’d have had me! I mean, I can just see me walking the property with my delicate parasol and fan, or having a sweet tea on the upper balcony watching over the waterfront. MMMHMM. I used to be a historic interpreter back home so I definitely love to romanticize and live out those days in history. I was the Blacksmiths wife, and I was horrible at keeping the fire going. No joke, my faux husband wanted to divorce me because every time he left for lunch, he’d come back and the fire was out. However I did sneakily make spoons and tongs while he was gone.

I was set up in the gorgeous library where my booth was surrounded by books and trinkets and lovely furniture. I did not get around to meeting a lot of the vendors because I was at my booth, but before hand I snuck around snapping some photos! Links below are from the vendors I was able to check out before the day started. So whether you want a wedding hosted or a romantic weekend away in a southern gem – I highly suggest this location!

Belle Grove Plantation

That’s My Dress Bridal & Prom

Edible Weddings

Not Your Mother’s Cupcakes

Emily Elizabeth Music

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Gardening Like A Growing Up Grown-Up.

Spring has sprung and summer weather is coming. In Virginia, that means miserably hot and humid days. While it’s still relatively cool and bright I am left wanting to create a beautiful green space to sit and have coffee with Pintrest and my 28 cats. Okay, I don’t have 28 cats, but I do feed a lot of strays who are hopefully going to find homes through Meow Stories in the future! ( to adopt, foster, or donate!)

I definitely do not have a big space to garden. In fact, I really don’t have one at all. I’m working with patio gardening and a 2.5 x 1ft patch of soil. In the past I’ve planted gorgeous zinnias that attracted all sorts of beautiful butterflies and moths. I adored them! However, after a couple of years of that I find myself wanting to do something different. I toyed with the idea of fantastical layered-milk painted-vintage-Pintrest filled greenery for my space, but after realizing I was getting in deeper than my timeframe would allow I took a look at the resources I already had and went from there.

Every year for my birthday my mom would get me a dainty and elegant little porcelain doll from the Enesco Growing Up Girls Collection. I remember being so excited to see which new ones would be out for the year. They started off blonde, like me, then at about 6 or 7 I started to receive the brunettes as a gift since my hair was going dark the way of my fathers. I collected them and kept them high on my shelf where I could not knock them over – because believe me – back then if it was breakable and it was near me, you’d be spending the rest of your night with some super glue. While moving about my room, I had decided the dolls would be better placed on a shelf in the basement area instead of my bedroom. I did not want to spend the time wrapping them up in tissue and putting them in a box to move, so I used the tool every kid knows to be the best for moving all objects and had carefully placed them into my bright orange backpack with one working strap (FUN FACT: No matter the brand – my backpacks would always break the first day/week of school. It was a strange curse). Well, needless to say, that did not end well! Hindsight of a child and all, right? The fact that the backpack was bright orange did not prevent it from taking a trip down the staircase after being placed on the floor.

Fast forward into the future and you meet adult me preparing to move my Enesco dolls from the basement to not only a different room, but a whole new country! I had learned my lesson the first time. The surviving girls were bubble wrapped, news papered, tissue wrapped and then further wrapped in scarves and then boxed – in which those boxes were then buffered with bubble wrap in a hard shell suitcase. They were ready to go! But nothing prepares objects for the rollercoaster that is apparently Siobhan Young vs United Airlines. I have a love/hate relationship flying United. The love comes from the fact they have never killed me in a plummeting, fiery death. The hate comes from the fact that every time I have to check my bags with them something goes horribly awry. One time they sent my luggage to a different state and then claimed for 3 days that I never flew with them. So really, I should have known better than to entrust my  breakable keepsakes with their checked baggage in the first place. I couldn’t glue most of them back together since they were quite literally dust. I was heartbroken. In a few short hours a lifetime of memories were crushed up and sitting at the bottom of my suitcase.

Fast-Fast Forward into the present and you see my amazing and loving husband who knew this story and for Christmas went on Amazon and Ebay and replaced my entire Enesco Growing Up Girls Collection and even added the very last one – the bride. *Queue romantic music* So why did I blog about this Enesco-Fiasco in the first place? Well remember back at the start of this blog I was talking about using my resources to garden? That entails me getting my crafty craft on and using the leftover pieces of porcelain dolls that I kept.

I decided my garden this year was going to be less extravagant and run of the mill, and I was going to get creative with it. I love, love, love succulents thanks to my mother who kept an array of them on our kitchen windowsill in beautiful little planters. So I decided to pick up some Hens and Chicks and go from there. Boy, did I have fun! This little space totally reflects me. I have a mixture of teacups, cats, dinosaurs and cameras, all being used to propagate Sempervivum!  I broke out the glass to an old Yashica lens and SLR camera body from my vintage camera collection. It was much more difficult to break that lens glass than I had anticipated – who knew!

I would like to add to my tiny Me-Space as time goes by – but for now I’m pleased as punch at what I have created. The fact that I could create what I feel is a beautiful piece of art out of broken keepsakes makes me feel like I am honouring the effort and memories my mother gave me every birthday. The growth of the plants from the broken pieces is almost symbolic of life and well, growing up. Gives a whole new meaning to the Growing Up Girls.

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Catherine and Josh Marine Corps Museum Wedding: Triangle, VA

Wow! This last season just flew right by me. It was a whirlwind of weddings, events, and sessions – and somewhere in there we had holidays, too? And suddenly – here’s the end of January! I hope you’ve held onto your resolutions, I didn’t really have time to make any so February will be my official New Years! I’m so excited to wrap up the goodness of last season and look back on the wonderful and crazy year I’ve had, with a nice cup of tea and maybe some one on one time organizing my hard drives. My very last wedding of 2014 was Catherine and Josh’s Marine Corps Museum wedding. I used to live right beside the museum and am ashamed to say I have never been inside before. I thought the building looked cool on the outside, well, the inside is … *channels my inner Zoolander*… at least THREE times as cool! The glass chapel let the warm glow of the sunset pour in around Catherine and Josh as they said ‘I do’. However, I don’t think the sunset was noticed at the time, all eyes were on the couple and the bride and groom had eyes on each other. The grounds are beautifully kept and I highly suggest walking them on a warm fall day. I was pretty overwhelmed (in a good way) walking into the museum. Airplanes and helicopters hanging on display – not to mention the maze of history that fills the building. As we all know my favourite part about weddings are all the little details that make up the big picture.  The pearls from Catherine’s grandmother, the custom made walnut rings, loving family creating Winnie the Pooh cake pops/table coverings and all the special meanings behind them. I especially loved the father-made slideshow of Catherine and Josh! There were many giggles of high school haircuts and awwws of cuteness that filled the theatre. The guests were given free roaming of the museum after a relaxed cocktail buffet dinner and some delicious desserts. Catherine, her father and I went to the Frozen Chosin exhibit to grab a quick photo because it was a battle in which her grandfather fought and survived. A beautiful and calm night enjoyed by all – I’d say it was one of the most unique experiences for me to capture a wedding surrounded by such rich history. I will definitely be taking another trip back on some down time to explore and learn more!

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Fall Family Fun: UMW Fredericksburg

Okay, so I may very well have a penchant for shooting photo sessions at the University of Mary Washington Campus. I can’t help it, it’s ridiculously beautiful any given day of the year – but magical in the fall. It begs you to walk it’s historic grounds with some type of hot beverage from the Hyperion, craning your neck at the huge colonial style buildings while shuffling your feet through crisp, autumn leaves. I may have mentioned once or twice or a million times my ultimate jealousy of the students that are blessed to be taking classes on such a beautiful campus. Buh. Someone please sponsor me to go back to school just so I can be there everyday. ;)

I met my family of four on what was possibly the most perfect day of the season and I had such a great time shooting with them. I felt as if I was doing a catalog shoot with a model family! I love the way mom styled the session and picked out the perfect clothing for an afternoon in autumn. To get some choice conversational content with the young’uns at the beginning of the session, I asked the little boy who his favourite superhero was and he said “SPIDERMAN!”. Then I asked the girl who her favourite superhero was and she said, “DADDY!”. My heart melted! So sweet. I smiled the whole time editing this session remembering how much fun I had and how adorable this family was!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by your family and friends! Even though being Canadian I’ve been over Thanksgiving for a month now, I will still partake in the tradition of stuffing my face! Happy Thanksgiving!


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Jennifer’s Autumn Senior Session: Fredericksburg VA

I am lucky that in my line of work and in my extra curricular activity as a volunteer for a theatre group to be able to work with bright, young and vibrant high school students. I hate/love to admit that I am no longer a teenager, but considered a young adult (at least for a couple more years.. I think…wah!). People always assume I am much, much older than I am, and when they realize they are off a decade make stumbled justifications like “but you’re so mature ” (yeah, right), or “but you’ve accomplished so much!” (thanks, I think). I married young, ditched my motherland and started my own business so that’s an easy assumption. However, I’m going to assume it’s because I drive like a grandma and already have my forehead wrinkles that say “I am unclear of the reference you kids are making”.

What I’m saying is.. I’m kinda, sorta an adult now. I’m at that age where I look back and think “MAN. I thought things would be a LOT different by the time I was this age!” and feeling that change of “you have time” to “where’d the time go”. It’s not a bad feeling, and I am proud of where I am and my accomplishments. But now I’m at the point where I see teenagers and they are all bright eyed, bushy tailed with the world in front of them. They have decisions  and opportunities and a few more years to decide who they want to be.

It’s a great opportunity to have a shoot with a senior who is as awesome as Jennifer. Chatting with her as we walked the UMW campus I learned about the things she wants to accomplish after high school and the field of work she is interested in and why. I found out that her mother’s alma mater was UMW and I unknowingly had her pose on the steps of the building where her mom took classes! What a happy fluke. She also brought her flute to take photos with because she is a rockstar flutist! I also found out we both like to make dinosaur faces at people. Because sometimes, that is the only appropriate response to things. (See, I’m totally an adult). It was a gorgeous afternoon spent with a gorgeous girl who has big ideas and a bright future. I was thrilled to be able to capture her on the picturesque campus of the University of Mary Washington. A school she maybe, just maybe, is applying to… No pressure! But you’d get to enjoy the Autumn season in class like this…

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Tribal Quest 2014: Fredericksburg, VA

It’s that time of year again! The most wonderful time! That’s right ladies and gentlemen – it’s Tribal Quest Time! Summer means heat, mud and a chance to push your limits yet again. I was lucky enough to be one of the official photographers on the Tribal Quest Team again for the 2014 obstacle race.

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I opted for the Mud Crawl this year, because apparently I have a penchant for watching people face plant into things (Polar Bear Plunge – I’m looking at you) This years course seemed more exhausting to participants and I can see why. The mud crawl and pole pit were at the very end of the 5 mile trek and I think that there were some mixed feelings about that! Some people were screaming out “Sweet dear baby pickles WHYYYY would you do this to me!?” and others saw it as a chance to lay down and cool off in the “mud spa” for a bit. Either way, kudos to the organizers – what a great race and fun course to photograph!

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I was especially honoured this year to be able to witness Operation Enduring Warrior in action. Please visit to read about this incredible non-profit and see what else they are up to. Directly from their website – what they are all about: “Operation Enduring Warrior is a veteran operated non-profit whose mission is to Honor, Empower and Motivate our Wounded service members through a physical, mental and emotional rehabilitative cycle modeled for overcoming adversity and hardship through innovation, teamwork and perseverance.”

Incredible, right?

Incredible and honoured are the two words I use in my mind over and over to describe what it was like witnessing and photographing Matthew White jump from a plane and be greeted by other soldiers, including Franz Walkup. There were soldiers on the OEW team in full gear including gas masks. From talking with people, I believe they symbolize the struggle wounded warriors go through, seeing as how the oxygen wasn’t at 100%. The blacked out gear kept anonymity keeping the focus on the wounded soldiers. If I am wrong in this fact I apologize and I would love to learn more about it! I didn’t see OEW again until they ended up at my station: the Mud Crawl.

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The crawl by the end was no easy feat. The sludge only got stickier and heavier with the participants mixing it up throughout the day. It sucked a couple people in pretty deep requiring some runners to stop and help dig and pull people out. I know first hand of course, seeing as how I went too far in at 8 am with no one in sight and had to dig myself – and my shoes out! May all the shoes that were lost in that pit find good homes in the earth!

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It was a wonderful day for a race and to see some of the teams going through was touching. One that stood out for me was Strong For Dom. I had to look it up when I got home and their story is very moving. Team Go Hard was out again this year going strong! And the Mudd Dogs made a big splash. The organizers of this event should of course be proud. The race was fantastic, the camaraderie was ever-present and the food and fun was overflowing. Everyone seemed exhausted and accomplished by the end. For full coverage and available purchases by all the photographers involved in Tribal Quest visit HERE.

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World Of Warcraft – The Lich King

Did you all enjoy the East Coast snow storm we had this past week? While most people were wide eyed and shut in their houses, I (amongst many other photographers) were elated at the big fluffy mess that mother nature bestowed upon us. It’s not common to have snowfalls like this in the DC/Virginia area. With 17 inches of accumulation in one night/day, there was a lot to work with.

Cavan had approached me a few months ago asking if I’d be willing to do a cosplay photo shoot in the snow with a costume he made based on the Lich King from World of Warcraft. Of course I jumped on the idea because A.)Geek love and B.)Snow photo shoot opportunity. This was his first ever Cosplay outfit and SPOILER ALERT: It’s made mostly of paper.

PAPER! I’m so impressed. It’s a fancy thing called pepakura, which is apparently just another word for black magic. Because really, how do you go from flimsy paper to armour? It must have some sort of sorcery involved. Or a lot of cutting gluing, printing and coating… and patience. So much patience. The fact that this was his first costume and it turned out this amazing says a lot about his skills, creativity and craftsmanship.

Over the span of 1 year, Cavan put in hundreds of hours into this costume. I helped him put it on so I understood the intricate engineering that went into it. I have a background in technical theatre, and the inside strap set up to hold everything together impressed me. From the paper base start to the detail finish – I asked him to break it down in hours he said:
-60 on the helmet
-30 for each of the pauldrons
-20 on the breastplate
-15 on each of the upper leg plates
-20 on each of the lower leg plates
-6 on each of the hand plates
-25 or so on the straps and harness
-25 or so on the chain mail
-4 for Frostmourne, the sword
and 6 for the cape

If your jaw hit the floor, you aren’t the only one. Google “pepakura” to see exactly how and why this process takes so very, very long but achieves such magnificent results with the right person. If I could find time I would love to make my own pepakura Blood Dragon armour from Dragon Age, but alas with that kind of commitment I will be finished in the year 2079.

On Thursday we were lucky enough to get caught in the crossfires of the second snowfall and create some awesome photos together. I came out soaking wet like a mop at a carwash, but it was all so very worth it! I’m just glad I don’t have to suffer through 8 months/year of this weather anymore. Like a good little Canadian geese, I flew south. The novelty of cold weather has worn off this week and I’m ready for cherry blossoms and hyacinths in my yard. However until then….
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EOD Wounded Warriors Polar Bear Plunge 2014

It’s Fe-brr-uary so that means the Annual Fredericksburg EOD Wounded Warrior Polar Bear Plunge has taken place! I was out there early again supporting the local derby girls – but it has become so much more than that to me. I still feel like an outsider – a spectator and an appreciator of this event. Don’t get me wrong, I love that feeling. It’s like watching a live documentary before my eyes. The camaraderie and relationships that form from diving into a cold river for charity seem to be everlasting as the anticipation for this event happens year round. I love the change in facial expressions that happen from point A to point B. It’s anticipation, smiles, dread, OH GOD WHY, more smiles and then relief. I was able to witness and capture it all in great fun. I absolutely love this foundation and the caring, hardworking people behind it. Check out for more information on the organization and what they do. For those who may not be aware, EOD stands for Explosive Ordnance Disposal. These are guys and gals who literally diffuse unexploded bombs and other stuff that can ka-plode. Can you imagine doing that job? I don’t even like to light my own BBQ. I couldn’t imagine the strength and stress that comes with being an EOD tech and have SO much respect for these professionals. It is with great honour and respect that I attend the Polar Bear Plunge and am able to showcase these photos. Between the Polar Bear Plunge and Tribal Quest, I have decided that I am secretly obsessed with people plunging in muddy waters. The full set is available on my Flickr account, but please enjoy this selection I have chosen for the blog.
Click here for the FLICKR SET

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