And, here we are again: Friday and the Randoms.

Image Source: The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond

The image above is a startling reflection of how I feel today.  It’s been a crazy week…I’m exhausted…and I wish I was still able to enjoy Spring Break.  But – alas! – it’s been a long…long…long time since I’ve had a Spring Break to enjoy.  I am no spring chicken (ha).

Anyway…it’s Friday.  For most of you, you’re welcoming a nice break with the weekend.  Since my business primarily revolves around wedding invitations, I will not be on break.  With BrainFry, my weekends are dedicated to meeting with potential and existing clients.  This weekend is no different (thankfully).  A quiet weekend isn’t welcome in my house, though I am hoping that there will be a few hours down time somewhere between now and Monday (lol).

As usual, I digress…sometimes I think I have absolutely nothing to say, but then the fingers start moving and the brain starts squawking.  *sigh*  And…there it goes again…but here they are…some Friday randoms…

If I weren’t on the Insanity diet, I would totally dive into some monkey bread a la the Pioneer Woman.  I’ve made it a few times before and Oh-My-God…it’s A-MA-ZING!  Must be all that butter, sugar and cinnamon.  YUM!

I have never had a macaron though I hear that the ones from Laduree are truly delectable.

The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger is completely amusing – I giggle whenever I read any of the novels from the series.  Quite. A. Bit.  I highly recommend the books to everyone, especially those who enjoy period literature with a bit of supernatural, a splash of steampunk, and a lot of humor.

I love all the pretty details in this Mt. Pleasant Wedding from StyleMePretty!  (esp. the curtain of origami cranes!)

Earlier this morning…between sleep and wakefulness…I found this and had a laugh.  In my free time, I’m a gamer and so is my boyfriend…and not so long ago…we used to play together (though now our schedules don’t permit it).

Here is another giggle!  I really do love to laugh…and often.  It’s a good and healthy thing!  So, tip of the day…don’t forget to laugh!

And…last but not least…a song to start your weekend with!

Happy Friday, friends!  Have a wonderful weekend!  And…remember…don’t forget to laugh!

Thursday Cravings: Photogra-comfy

So, it’s been a pretty hectic week.  Lots of follow-ups and orders in various proofing stages.  Juggling a few projects and trying to lock down a few personal ones.  I almost forgot to work on my cravings…almost.  And, when I first sat down to work on it…well, let’s just say I stared at the screen…blankly.  Not to say that I don’t want anything.  I think most people want something or other, if even subconsciously.  I just couldn’t think of anything…at the time.

Anyhow, I finally figured out what to write about…it’s one of my passions.  Photography.  And, since I intend to do a mix of fashion and “something” in my Thursday posts, I dub this week’s cravings…photogra-comfy because 1) while I’m a big fan of the chic and stylish, I’m also a big fan of comfort (most days will find me in a t-shirt, jeans and my favorite pair of Converse) and 2) it’s easier to get a variety of shots in comfortable clothing.  Flopping down on my belly to get a shot in a particular angle isn’t best done in a slim-fitting dress, mmk?  So…without further ado…here’s my craving…

Credits:  1) Charlie Scarf – L.K. Bennett London; 2) Navy Classic Converse – Welikefashion.com; 3) 2 Sues Camera Bag in Raspberry – Kelly Moore; 4) Ralph Lauren Striped Long Sleeve Top – Farfetch.com; 5) Adriano Goldschmied Belle Jeans – Calypso St. Barth; 6) Navy Tucks Hat – Piper and Paisley (Photo Credit: Youa Photography for Piper and Paisley)

And here’s a list of some of my favorite go-to places for photography tips and tricks…

…when I first got my DSLR…I found this series of posts on Aperture by The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, very helpful.  You’ll also find other posts on a variety of photography topics (composure, lighting, exposure), as well as tips and tutorials from guest contributors!

…and if you’re looking for recommendations on lenses and gear, as well as techniques and tips…I know I always am.  My eyes are set right now on a 50mm lens for my Canon.  I’ve heard it’s a must have.  Anyway, here is a great article on lenses that I stumbled upon recently from a blog belonging to wedding photographer, Jasmine Star.

Mood board composition by Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint (at Blogging Your Way NYC)

…earlier this month, I was able to attend a photo-styling workshop in New York City.  Led by Holly Becker of Decor8 and Leslie Shewring of A Creative Mint, the class was insightful and intense.  In one day, I learned a lot about composition, lighting, and styling that I hope to exhibit in my photographs.  Holly and Leslie have an e-course called Blogging Your Way that not only covers blogging and how to tackle it in a personal and creative way, but also offers more insight into styling photos and telling a story through your photos.  I’m hoping to be able to join…may be you might be interested, too!

Bookmark Save the Date by BrainFry Concepts - photograph composed and taken at Blogging Your Way NYC

…if you’re like me and have a business that requires a lot of product photography…stop by handmadeology.  They have compiled a wonderful list of articles from the web that will help you make the most out of your Etsy or on-line shop.  Over the next couple of months, I plan on using what I learned from the photo-styling workshop I attended, as well as some techniques discussed in these articles, to update my site with new photographs of our work at BrainFry.

I took this photo while on a camping trip at Acadia National Park - Schoodic Peninsula (Sept 2011)

…I’m a lover of travel and I do most of my photography when I’m on the road (mainly because when I’m home, I’m working since our studio takes up the first floor of our condo so it’s somewhat difficult to leave work behind).  That said…one of my favorite sites is National Geographic.  They have a great photography section (not surprising) with tons of articles focusing on tips and techniques for on-the-road memory-keeping.

…you have your shots, but you know it doesn’t stop there.  The next step in the world of photography is editing…it’s time consuming and sometimes frustrating.  But, it should be done.  And, if you have a good tool like Photoshop or Photoshop Lightroom, your job is that much easier…some might say.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of Photoshop by itself…but I have recently discovered my love of Lightroom!  I enjoy it so much that I have to stop, turn around and give myself a time out (lol).  Anyway, I am still learning my way around this awesome image processing tool, but a close friend of my father’s took the time to walk me through the basics (see her work here at Fototeqnika and on her blog, Clout and About).  (Thank you, Tita Lulu!  – again)  She introduced me to a bunch of sites and here is one that has amazing presets for Lightroom.

If you have some favorite sites of your own that you wouldn’t mind sharing…please comment below and I’ll hop on over and have a view 🙂

Bridal Inspiration: Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms at Ninnaji Temple (Kyoto, Japan)

It’s that time of year again!  Cherry blossom season has begun!  And, the celebration taking place in Washington, DC is the Centennial Celebration!

In 1912, over three thousand cherry blossom trees were shipped to Washington, DC – a gift given on behalf of Tokyo by Yukio Ozaki and Jokichi Takamine.  Now, one hundred years later…people still enjoy the calm beauty and gently drifts of the cherry blossoms that surround the Tidal Basin.  (Read more about the Cherry Blossom Festival and the history of this wondrous gift from Japan here.)

Before I continue on to my bridal inspiration board, here is a list of cherry blossom festivals to help celebrate life…friendship…and spring!

And, here we are…at today’s Wedding Wednesday inspiration board…I hope you enjoy!

Credits:  1) Kimono Wedding Gown – Culture Bridal Couture; 2) Letterpress Wedding Invitation Suite – Chauhie; 3) Mochi – Martha Stewart Weddings; 4) Arabelle Dress in Silk Chiffon – J. Crew; 5) Soft Pink Cherry Blossom Wedding Cake – Pink Cake Box; 6) Cherry Blossom Twigs, Hair Accessory – Marissa Fleur

Who’s Who: Bee*s Knees Parties

In April of 2011 – a week or so after I had joined the MS Dreamers Into Doers Community – I received an invitation from Dawn Menon of Bee*s Knees Parties to join a few local Dreamers for an informal dinner in NYC, which she was co-hosting with Khaliah of The Party Muse.

As I was brand new to business ownership, I jumped at the opportunity to meet others who were in the same boat as I was – creative entrepreneurs with small businesses.  After a memorable evening of laughter and get-to-know-yous…sharing and discussion…as well as a surprise visit from Amy Atlas (surprise for us, but coordinated by Dawn and Khaliah), I left the restaurant with a spring in my step and new friends in my heart.

This week I am spotlighting Dawn and Bee*s Knees Parties in our weekly “Who’s Who” so that you, too, can get to know this fabulous woman who imbues each of her parties with incomparable style.

Dawn Menon of Bee*s Knees Parties

A Bit About Dawn

Dawn Menon has been a children’s event planner for the past seven years.  She first opened The Little Tea Company in 2005, which was an on-location birthday party company that served the NY area.  During that time, her parties were strictly dress up tea parties for little girls.  After she and her family relocated and her third son was born, Dawn took a year off from the party planning business.  During that time, she saw a change in the business and decided to refocus and re-brand.  Dawn felt it was time to offer unique parties for little boys as well, so she opened Bee*s Knees Parties in 2009.  Over the past three years, she has had the pleasure of planning events for her fantastic clients, as well as family and friends.

Barbershop Party, 2011 (photo credit: 2 girl phototique)

Do you have any mentors that have helped you along as you built your business?

Since day one, my husband has been my biggest supporter and fan.  He helped me build my little company to become what it is today.  Because he works in finance, he is my “business Yoda” and my go-to guy whenever I have a dilemma.  As far as mentors, I admire from afar…I am a big fan of women who may have taken a risk and never looked back.  For me, those women include Sara Blakely (creator of Spanx), Lilly Pulitzer (clothing designer), Rachel Stephens (photographer), and Amy Atlas (lawyer turned internationally known “Sweets Stylist”).

Minnie Mouse First Birthday, 2012 (photo courtesy of 2 girl phototique)

What are the most important business lessons you have learned so far?

After doing children’s event planning for some time, I love that I am still learning and – to me – that is one of the biggest lessons in itself.  One should not proclaim that they already know everything in their field.  Things are always changing and if you do not evolve, your business will suffer.  I believe having a strong vendor list is also key when you are in event planning.  When you trust your key vendor’s level of work, that is one less thing you have to worry about, or micromanage.  I am happy to have built a strong network of vendors, who have become my friends.  Through these vendors, I have also learned about their side of the business, which is so interesting to me.

What did you think you were going to be when you were growing up?

Definitely Wonder Woman.  By age 4, I had so many pairs of Wonder Woman Underoos because I insisted on wearing a pair everyday.  I even had gold wrist cuffs made out of aluminum foil.  I was convinced I would be called to help someone and I wanted to be ready!

French Frog First Birthday, 2011

If you were a rock star, who would it be and why?

I would have to say Tina Turner.  I admire her resilience to every obstacle that came her way, as well as her intense work ethic and drive.  In comparing that to my business reputation, I love the idea that you don’t necessarily have to be constantly talked about or in the public eye, but people know about you, and when you do surface, your talent shines because it is solid and timeless.

What do you like to do in your free time?

While raising three boys and running a small business, free time is not something that I have an abundant amount of…therefor, I need to use it wisely!  I love shutting off the world when we go upstate to the family lake house, and re-connecting with my boys, husband and nature (as well as catching up on wedding and trade magazines!)  I also enjoy visiting new restaurants, catching up with friends, going to quirky thrift shops, and exploring new towns, especially towns that have quaint Main Street shops and eateries.

Keep up with Dawn and Bee*s Knees Parties by visiting:

Fun n’ Flirty…Confetti!

With the arrival of Spring, I find myself wanting to shuck off the darks and embrace the amazing world of color!  And, what better way to celebrate color than through confetti!

There are a slew of options as far as party bits go when entertaining the idea of throwing a confetti-centric party, but here are just a few of my favorites that I’ve found through the web…

Credits: 1) Confetti Letterpress Invitations – Printerette Press; 2) DIY Tissue Paper Confetti Cones – PolkaDot Prints; 3) DIY Popper Invitations – Oh Happy Day; 4) Dipping Confetti Packaging – Tokketok (via Martha Stewart Crafts); 5) Funfetti Cake Balls – Quick Feet, Good Eats; 6) Rainbow Chocolate Covered Oreos – Sweet Temptations; 7) Rainbow Confetti Garland – KristinaMarie; 8) Fairy Dust Cake Bites – Sweets by Arlene

Happy Friday! Go Out and Seize the Day!

Paramus Ridgewood Duck Pond, New Jersey - I took this photograph while enjoying the park with my family.

Yes, that’s a nod at Newsies, which I saw way back when…when Christian Bale starred as Jack Kelly in Disney’s musical covering the newsboys strike at the turn of the century. Currently, the musical has been revived for the stage and is playing at the Nederland Theatre on Broadway.

Anyway, enough of that…I chose that particular call to action specifically because personally it has been somewhat of a tough week to go through. No, nothing bad or untoward has occurred. Just some weeks or days are difficult – sometimes there’s a reason, sometimes there isn’t. And, while it’s ok to give into mulishness from time to time, there are better things to do and you just have to give yourself a shake and plow on! Easier said than done, I know…so here are some suggestions on how to deal with those “Jonah Days” (Yes, that’s a reference to Anne of Green Gables!)…

Take a walk. The weather has been so fine and the sun wonderfully invigorating!

Hit the park! Bring a picnic and lounge about under a lazy tree.

Grab a cup of coffee (or – if you’re in the Park Slope neighborhood – some fresh yogurt a la Culture…I hear their Key Lime Pie is a treat!)

Hop in the car and go see a movie! Hunger Games just hit the theaters!

Basically. Enjoy. Life.

Now…have a great rest of your day and an excellent weekend, folks! I’ll be back on Monday with a veritable smorgasbord of goodies!

Thursday Cravings: A Picnic in the Park

I don’t know how it has been in the rest of the world, but I can tell you that the NY/NJ area has – for the most part – been enjoying gorgeous, sunshiny days over the last week or so…unusual weather for this time of year, but you won’t hear me complaining!  Just the opposite actually….

Weather like this is perfect for the outdoors…not too hot and not too cold…sun blazing warmth and all the world’s a-chirping.  And, I don’t have a doubt that there are just a few of you out there who would enjoy…a day in the sun under the rustling leaves of a big ol’ tree…with a blanket beneath you…a basket of tasty vittles…and a friend or two for company.  So…here it is…my Thursday craving…

Credits:  1) Oslo Skylar Convertible Tote; 2) Purple Ikat Henley; 3) Purple Bead Bracelet – JustineJustine; 4) Rocket Dog Women’s Memories Ballet Flat; 5) True Religion Becky Bootcut Mid-Wash Whisker Jeans; 6) Highlander Bamboo and Rattan Basket

While I’m at it…here’s a picnic menu that’s light and tasty!  If any of you actually go on to make any of these dishes, please let me know 🙂

Credits:  1) White Bean Dip and Parmesan Pita Crisps (photo credit James Baigrie); 2) Mixed Greens with Apricots and Champagne Vinaigrette (photo credit James Baigrie); 3) Russian Potato Salad (photo credit Nami-Nami); 4) Turkey Caprese Sandwich (photo credit Everyday Food, Martha Stewart); 5) Blueberry Hand Pies (photo credit The Pastry Affair); 6) Red Velvet Cake in  a Jar (photo credit RubyEllen)

Bridal Inspiration: Fresh and Clean…Green

Hello-hello and happy Wednesday!

If you start to follow along as I populate this blog, you will probably notice that I will be sticking to particular themes for specific days.  For example, every Wednesday you’ll most likely find a post on something to do with the wedding industry – whether it be a bridal inspiration board, a featured wedding, some tips and tricks, a DIY tutorial, and – occasionally – a shameless plug for BrainFry via a ‘completed project’ post.

That said…here is a bridal inspiration board I put together based on one of my favorite color combinations – green, black and white….

Credits:  1) Invitations – The Quiet Society (featured in Oh So Beautiful Paper); 2) Bridal Bouquet (green hydrangeas, white and black centered anemones) – Botanica Floral Designs; 3) Custom Bridal Shoes – Christian Louboutin (featured in The Brides Cafe); 4) Dessert Table Sandra Downie Events (featured in Amy Atlas); 5) Modern Table Setting – Shiraz Events; 6) Green and Black Geometric Print Clutch – Louisa Designs; 7) Escort Card Display – based on this one found on Martha Stewart Weddings; 8) Table Arrangement – Photographed by: Belathee (featured on Style Me Pretty)

Who’s Who: the HopeFULL Company

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to meet Jessica Welsch and Stephanie Williams – the ladies behind the HopeFULL Company at the Martha Stewart Dreamers Into Doers Event in New York City (if you missed the posts about the event, you can find them here and here).

Stephanie Williams and Jessica Welsch of the HopeFULL Company

After spending several hours with these two refreshingly positive women…over the course of just two and a half days, I sent them an e-mail and asked them if they would mind answering just a few questions so that I could share their story and spread the news about the HopeFULL Company.  It wasn’t long after that I happily opened my inbox to find their story…and their story is one that is so inspiring that it MUST be shared.

What made you both decide to start the HopeFULL Company?

The HopeFULL Company came to fruition in a beautiful, organic way through a dear family friend who was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia in 2009.

Like many people undergoing chemotherapy treatments, eating was no longer an enjoyable activity for our friend.  She struggled to find foods that she could tolerate and that would give her enough calories and nutrition.  Knowing we both made homemade baby food for our children, she asked us to make her meals which were small in portion, packed with nutrition and without strong flavors.  We were thrilled to help and dove enthusiastically into the project.

A week later, we delivered our frozen “whole-food pops” (now known as HopeFULLs) to our friend – each with a unique message of hope.  The HopeFULLs satisfied her pallet, soothed her mouth sores and filled her tummy with healthy fat, protein, calories and nutrients when she needed it most.  We also brought with us a message of hope and peace.

This friend of ours passed on six months later, after touching the lives of many with her grace, dignity, humor and tenacity. The HopeFULL Company happily dedicates some of its proceeds to local charities in her honor.

Twenty months after delivering our first batch of frozen HopeFULLs, we launched The HopeFULL Company. We are proud of our products and are excited to provide a way to feed those having trouble eating while delivering a message of peace, hope and love.

Who were your childhood heroes?

Jessica:  My heroes were those from television and film…Wonder Woman (who does’t want a Lasso of Truth?), Goldie Hawn (Overboard – need I say more) and Tim Burton (because he’s just downright brilliant).

Stephanie:  Neil Armstrong…I wanted to be an astronaut for most of my childhood. In my teens, I looked up to folksy musicians like Bob Dylan, Carol King and Cat Stevens for their ability to use music as a form of social protest.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Jessica:  I love theatre and film, Yoga and catching up with girlfriends over a latte.

Stephanie:  I enjoy seeing live music, reading and spending time outdoors.

Do you have any favorite stories from your work life?

Our HopeFULL Gift Pack was up for a Stevie Award for Best New Product of the Year.  In November 2011, we got to go to the red carpet awards gala in NYC!  As if that wasn’t enough, we were invited to be on The Nate Berkus Show to talk about our company while in town!  We were also styled by Hal Rubenstein of In Style Magazine and were given a make over, new dresses and accessories for the event!

When are you completely satisfied with your work?

When we get a call or email from someone who has been helped by our products…our hearts become filled with gratitude. When we hear how our products are making life easer for people…that’s when we feel successful and fullfilled.

The HopeFULL Company's newest product is the The BellyFULL Kit - a great way to introduce healthy eating to your children!

Find out more about the HopeFULL Company and their products by visiting:

Picks for a Bunny-tastic Holiday!

With Easter just right around the corner…I decided to rove the inter-webs in search of the perfect little bits for a colorful and fun holiday.

Here are just a few things that I found along the way…

Credits: 1) “Keep Calm and Hunt On” Double-sided Invitation – Swanky Press; 2) Bunny Hole Push-Up Pops – Lynlee’s Petite Cakes (via the Spring Issue of Party Dress Magazine); 3) Burlap Bunny Cookies – SugarBelle’s; 4) Easter Boxes – A Little Hut; 5) Easter Bunny Cupcake Toppers – Mimicafe Union; 6) Bunny Cake Stands – Pottery Barn