Saturday, June 28, 2014

Keep Smilin, Keep Shinin - A Photo Idea in Nashville - Perfect Place for Pictures


There's a building in Nashville I've been wanting to use as a photo background for a while. You can't miss it when you jump on 40 from Briley Parkway. I have no idea who painted this building, but I give he/she/they props for the hippie-artistry that beautifies my drive from Nashville to Murfreesboro. Not too long ago, the hubster and I stopped for a quick photo session near what I call the "Love" shack building. (see above n' keep scrollin'...)

The photo above is as good as it got, as far as our photo attempts went that day. Only equipped with my iPad, the morning sun's glare made it difficult to capture the idea I'd been envisioning for a specifically planned capture. 

Ever tried to take a picture of yourself with an iPad? Next time you do it, add major sunshine and another person to really complicate your selfie mission. 

The idea I wanted was center the "Love" lettering in the photo, with Josh on one side and me on the other. In my 'imagine-if-we-dream', we would lean in for a kiss and the "Love" letters would be perfectly placed below the smooch. 


Obviously, I was a bit too ambitious for the equipment I'd brought with me that day. 

My Nikon and a tripod (see Christmas wish list) may have produced something better than the iPad snapshots we took as we tried to accomplish the photo goal I wanted, but- 

I like the candidness of what we did manage to shoot that day...

First, I'll need to take a couple test shots. Wow, that's bright. I can't even see the screen, Josh. Hmmm... Here I am, taking this idea very seriously as I try to figure out where we needed to stand for this little photo session. Not angry, just focused... and beginning to realize that this idea would be harder to execute than expected. 

Again, we were using an iPad. We couldn't see what we were actually getting on the camera since the sun was so bright. If we could've, we would have realized we needed longer arms to get more than 1/2 faces in our pose!

Yeah, that's not gonna work either. Stepping back only increased the sun's pic-ruining power. See the building, though? One of my favorite little murals in Nashville. I wish I knew more about it! (Will research later...)Anyway, I started to lose hope that we'd get a decent couple pic at this point during our iPad photo-journey. 

Still, we tried different things to make it happen. Josh is taller, so we reasoned that he should hold the iPad up to get a better picture. Still, no dice. Longer arms don't mean better pics, apparently. Better cameras do. :)

 Too bright, too dark, to sun-beamy, too... one-person-not-in-the-picture-y...

If only I were looking at the camera. Alas, my mission seemed doomed to fail. Until...

Not exactly what I had in mind, but a decent attempt at my overall concept. The 'Love' part is in the shot and so are our faces... all of our whole faces, this time. A semi-success, if I do say so myself. 

Next time, I'm taking the Nikon. 'Til, then... why don't you and your fancy cameras get out there and give this one a try? It's easy to park near this Nashville-based photo background, which is right off Charlotte Avenue. You've seen it. If you haven't thought about taking pics in front of this building, you have now. :) You're welcome, friends. 

Keep Smilin, Keep Shinin. Keep finding photo ideas near you that are perfect for pictures. Just keep in mind that whether or not your pictures are perfect will depend on your idea...and your camera. :)

For more thoughts on this Nashville mural, click below...


Friday, June 27, 2014

Top 10 Things You Miss During Early Pregnancy

It's always a good idea to drink coffee before writing anything. Of course, my favorite morning beverage must be consumed in moderation now that I'm pregnant. I miss coffee. Without it, my writing suffers. . .

Brew faster, pot... I NEEEED you.

As I wait for the sinful cup o' Joe, I think about things I miss now that I'm knocked up.

Having 2-10 cups of coffee is among my pre-preggo memories.
Wine and coffee make writing better.
Best when you drink those separately, I suppose.
I wonder if Hemingway ever mixed the two...
Nah, alcohol was his jam.

Mine is coffee.

How am I supposed to function like this for 9 months?

9 weeks down.
7 months to go.
7 more
of limited coffee intake...

 At last, it's done brewing.
Pardon me while I gulp this down, friends...

Ahhhhhhhh... delicious.
7 more months.

 Being pregnant isn't as fun as everybody says, you know.
You miss stuff like coffee... You miss it more than your non-pregnant self would ever think you would, in fact.
But, it's not just coffee.

Here's what I miss most during 
my first 9 weeks of pregnancy...

1. coffee. 
- Duh.

2. energy.
- Like a 2-year-old kid, I require naps on the reg.

3. steak.
- Eating steak cooked anywhere near above medium rare is a crime not worth my time.

4. my social life.
- See number 2.
  Prefering a nap over going out with friends is lame. I realize this and embrace it, unfortunately.

5. Wine. No. Beer. Beer & Wine.
- It wasn't hard to give up, but having a cupcake after a long shift just isn't the same.

6. Medicine.
- Because Tylenol does nothing for seasonal allergies and daily headaches.

7. Independence.
- Moving furniture? Lifting something? Yard needs mowed? Calling for backup takes practice.

8. Clothes that fit.
- Accepting that I have and will continue to gain weight has been difficult for me, but it's the cute clothes I miss most.

9. Shopping.
- Feeling guilty for splurging on anything you don't need is a weird phenomenon that occurs when you realize you should probably save money for your kid.

10. Concentration.
- Focus. I used to do that. Forgetting stuff is now my specialty. 'Pregnancy brain' is the name for this... I think.

Everyone says, "It'll all be worth it!".
They're right, I know.
I'll just believe them more in 7 months...
when I'm drinking an entire pot of coffee again. 


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Breakfast at Tiffany's Bridal Shower - Decorating Ideas from Tracie's Tiffany-Themed Bridal Shower

 We hosted a Breakfast At Tiffany's bridal shower for my sister, Tracie, who will become Mrs. Holt soon. The cake above is the best cake I've eaten in my entire life. My Aunt Tina is a baking genius whose knack for whipping up sweet treats is unsurpassed, in my opinion. Anyway, chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes and cake were enjoyed by all at the shower... I won't admit how many I ate. They were THAT awesome! The only thing I added to the above photo is the little Audrey Hepburn cake topper doll. I found some ideas online but decided to give my peg doll bigger sunglasses and more bling. She's cute, huh? Just looking at these pictures again makes me want more of these cupcakes!!

Cupcakes by Christina, a.k.a. 'Aunt Tina'.
 She should open a bakery. :)

Setting the stage for a better breakfast than Holly Golightly ate in the film Breakfast At Tiffany's... Pastries, parfaits, deli, pancakes, and of course... those cupcakes!! Since this bridal shower was a surprise party for my little sister, we all arrived early to help set things up. Here's our little buffet area, ready for Tracie's arrival.





Talking like Audrey Hepburn is perfectly acceptable, throughout the duration of your Breakfast At Tiffany's shower. A mimosa bar made a fun little brunch addition to our party, too. Fresh fruit, champagne, and a cute little sign decorated a smaller table that we placed near the buffet area. Smaller guests get juice, of course... so do pregnant ones.
(I was the latter at this shindig.)
Still, we all had lot of fun and loved this classy addition of a mimosa bar


My mom came up with the idea to do a store front scene as decor for the shower. (She's super creative like that...) Tables were covered with pretty patterned cloths and mirrors made great jewelry displays. We scattered diamonds on the table tops to add some sparkle. Since this display sat behind sliding glass doors, the arrangement worked perfectly to create a Tiffany & Co. mini-store that we later used to give away prizes for the party games. Creative, huh? :) 

Jessica was the mastermind behind these balloons, which added a lot to the festive elegance of this bridal shower. Aren't they PRETTY?! Jess incorporated the balloons into a game we played later- inside the teal balloons, a little piece of paper would determine a balloon-popper's winning or losing status.  "Sorry, darling!", was written on my paper.  My Mamaw won this game, to everyone's delight. Popping balloons is fun. It always has been. 
Win or lose, guests enjoy this little game that Jess put together for us. 

Table decorations were made out of some
 glass candle holders I'd found at Goodwill. Adding rhinestones was easy enough and 
mirrors made centerpieces stand out. 
Sprinkling diamonds on just about everything is a decorating requirement. :)

Of course, the guest of honor got to wear the famous
 Audrey crown...

We all wore little black dresses, but Tracie got the accessories to really complete the movie star glam-look.

I picked this charcoal poster up at a Goodwill store, quite some time ago. (We had this shower theme planned for a while...) We used this- and lots of other posters of Audrey from the film to decorate

 Perfectly named Pinot for this bridal shower! "Little Black Dress" Pino Noir.

Love my little sis! Here I am with the future Mrs. Holt. :) 

Here are some of my favorite shots of family...

We used a shower curtain rod to hang up photo booth backgrounds in an entryway. (Clever idea, isn't it?) Tiffany blue boxes were wrapped and tied up with white ribbons and bows to stack up as a prop for the booth. We all had props to pose for pictures and this was a big hit at my sis' wedding shower.

Here are a few more of our photo booth shots...

Chalkboard signs, painted glasses, pearls, presents, & tons of crafty efforts went into the photo booth, shower games, and decorating success at Tracie's bridal shower. I'm WAY behind on posting this stuff, so have too many pictures to put on here today. 

 To the fabulous ladies who attended Tracie's Breakfast At Tiffany's shower, I promise to upload all the pictures I took TODAY, so check your email later this afternoon! (Sorry this is so late!)...

. For Tracie 'Ree' Holt

love, G.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Baby-Needs-A-Name & Other Pregnant Thoughts of a Mom-To-Be

I need to name my kid. I have 7 months to come up with something appropriate to call the tiny human I'll be responsible for raising. For now, the 8-week-old minion is referred to by my husband and me as, 'baby'.

Baby sucks all of my energy and brain power into its tiny body on a daily basis. I misplace stuff more often now that I'm pregnant. Finding potato chips in the refrigerator and replacing my debit card twice within the past month are some examples of how 'baby' is literally stealing my ability to think properly. Some of my coworkers warned of this phenomenon, saying things like: "You're going to get dumber"- and reasoning attempts along the lines of, "Don't feel bad- you're fighting another person for your brain now."...

They were right.

I am tired 90% of the time. My patience for rudeness- or what my hormonally-charged-self even perceives as slight impolite behavior, is... slowly vanishing. Saying things like, "I'm really not in the mood for..." or just crying randomly about stupid stuff... that's what I do now. I do it WELL.

I blame 'Baby'.
'Baby' steals my food, forcing me to eat more and more things like chicken biscuits with grape jelly... for example.
The cravings and aversions are real.

It's weird being pregnant.
Somebody touched my stomach not too long ago, saying... "Awww..., I can already see your little baby bump!" I barely know this person and since "Baby" is not old enough to make any sort of 'bump', I blame those chicken and jelly biscuits for whatever she was talking about that day.

Why the hell people feel like they can touch me and my belly is beyond me. I assume this urge will be expressed more often by complete strangers as I continue to grow. It is not welcome now, nor will it be in the future. Luckily, I have decided how I will react to this in the future. You touch me- regardless of your good intentions- and I touch you. You will be poked or pinched for your inability to keep your grubby hands to yourself. You're not touching the baby. You're invading my space. You're making me angry and since I am an unpredictable mess of emotions, I am not responsible for how I react to your unwelcome advances.

'Baby' likes cupcakes.

So much, in fact- that Baby can't have any more cupcakes.
Okay, Baby gets a ration of 2-3 cupcakes...every now and then.

This kid needs a name.
I'm tired of just blaming 'baby'.
A proper name is needed to explain what my first child has done to me.

Since we don't know the gender yet, 'Baby' kind of stuck.

I don't hate being pregnant.
I don't love it, either.

Everybody expects you to be thrilled when you initially find out you're preggo.
I was in shock for the first week or so.
It wasn't because I didn't feel excited, but because of what I knew needed to happen next...

I don't think myself a selfish person, but quite a bit of sacrifice was required upon the blue plus mark that changed my life.

no smoking.
no drinking.
no caffeine.
no meds.
healthy food.
more sleep.
more water.
no hot baths.
don't touch this.
don't eat that.
don't do that.
don't lift that.

Why aren't you acting excited, Regina? You're going to be such a great mom! You don't seem that excited about this....

A few people said this stuff to me.

I was excited. I was also in shock about how much and how quickly things had to change.
I have wanted this baby since before it evidenced itself in my body. I just... had- and still have- a LOT to think about- a LOT to do- to get ready for this little Baby Needs-A-Name.

Baby-Needs-A-Name and I don't care to go to work this morning. We must go, though.
We would rather nap and snack today.
All in good time...


Friday, June 20, 2014

Pregnancy Announcement - How I Announced My Pregnancy - Creative Announcement Ideas & Inspiration - Cartoons by Regina Hodge

I told my family. I told Facebook. Now, I'll tell you.


After browsing through tons of
 ideas for pregnancy announcements
I found myself still debating on how to tell people the news. 

Lots of cute ideas and inspiration can be found on Pinterest. 
I wanted something different. 

I wanted my announcement to be original, but had no idea where to start.
It took some time to figure out that Facebook status that told everybody I'm preggers.

Anyway, here's what we came up with... Keep on scrollin' to see -


I started drawing after brainstorming ideas with Josh. Our announcement was definitely a collaborative effort. Here's our 'meeting of the minds' creation, in cartoons 

I drew to capture what we wanted our announcement to convey...

  I drew the following cartoons

for our pregnancy announcement...  


cartoons, announcements, pregnancy, regina hodge, lifelooklens, sketch, draw

  After I drew the little comic above, I needed a way to wrap up our little story. (I got stuck on how to do this for a while!)

 I finally decided to close our announcement series with an ultrasound picture... 

Like this...


How you tell people you're pregnant is completely up to you. 

I just really like how we did it.