29 November, 2011

Hey, Kid: A Letter to Myself at 15

My impending birthday always makes me reflective.  This year, I spent, like six months contemplating the reality of 30.  So, I've been sitting on this for a few days, debating whether I should post it.  The more I read it, the more I love it.  So I will share.  And I might even add some pictures...

Hey, kid (don't you hate that, I always did):

First, the bad news: They aren’t bringing back Crystal Pepsi. Not ever, so let go of the dream. We did not marry Rider Strong or Rivers Cuomo. I know, right?! You should still doodle cute Weezer doodles all over your binder, though. It’s fun. Also, we are not the toast of Broadway. Lame, I know, but true. Oh, and Ricky Martin is gay. We totally called it.

Now the important stuff.

Don’t be so hard on our parents. They’re pretty amazing. They’ve put up with a lot of shizz from us over the years (ask me about our college bank account). Dad works really hard and he does what he does because he likes it. He’s also pretty brilliant at it, too. Adults do this thing where they stay at a job even though they don’t like all the aspects of it. Insane, I know.  He hates that his job takes him away so much, but it does help pay for the car you’re getting (that’s right, a car for your 16th birthday…keep an eye out in June) and everything else you have, so chill. Besides, we’re 30, and Mom is still our best friend, so what does that tell you.

Oh, by the way, when you are 18, you will be offered some rum cake. DO NOT EAT IT. It will make you sick and you will throw up all over the stairs. It will make the staircase smell like booze. Mom will think you were drinking. She will not believe that you weren’t. When she asks you again (and believe me, she will, several times, years later), she’s giving you a chance to come clean. Stick to your guns. We’ll get her yet.

While we’re on the subject, get ready for this: You will miss Nebraska so much you will feel like you can’t breathe. Never saw it coming. After high school, you will cry every time you leave Mom and Dad’s after a visit. Every time. Each time you visit it will be harder to leave and you’ll feel like your heart is in a vice grip. It sucks. But, you can’t move home every time life gets tough so stick it out.

You are beautiful. Right now. Just like this.  I wish I could be there every day to remind you. Look, I get it: nobody close to you looks like you and that’s hard. You just want to fit in.  These feelings aren’t your fault.  We do, however, live in a world obsessed with youth and beauty and these subtle messages won’t be lost on you. You will internalize it all and you will feel ugly. Every day. I wish I could tell you this gets better for us or shield you from it, but it doesn’t and I can’t. I have given up so much in the pursuit of the perfect figure, sometimes I think the only thing getting smaller is my spirit.  I would give anything to stop you from going through this.  The silver lining?: Our struggle with this makes us nicer to people…gives us empathy…which, let’s face it is an emotion we aren’t good at.

So, boys.  Oh, honey if I had the answers I'd be a millionaire.  All I can say is this: Be good to yourself.  Love yourself first. You won't find what you feel you're missing in the ice blue eyes underneath a dirty ball cap.  It never works out and you'll lose yourself trying to be someone he wants.  Also, you can say no.  Even if it goes really far, really fast.  No one gets ownership of your body but you.  Remember that.  Each and every time.

Okay. This is really important. Your 20’s are going to be…difficult at times.  However, there will be people all around you that want to help. Do not shut them out. You do not have to do it alone.  You’ll know what I mean when you get there. I wish I could explain, but you need to live through these things. You will get back up, you will be okay again and you will feel like a Phoenix when you do.

There’s lots more I want to tell you but I don’t want to ruin the surprise, so I will give you a couple of spoilers (Google it…oh, wait. Can you do that? Google things? Well, look it up anyway.) So here goes:

Hang in there for the Friends finale. It gets pretty good.
Keep your eye on the political scene. Un. Believable.
Remember to relax.
There is a hotter batman than Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer. Seriously, wait for it.
In like three years, a movie called The Matrix will come out. Go see it. It will blow your mind.

So there you have it, honey.  The next 15 years in a nutshell.  It's gonna be crazy, but you're gonna love it.

All my love,

27 November, 2011

Luxe Life: Monster Bash

I've got pictures!! 

If you've been reading lately, you'll remember me talking about Monster Bash.  I was worried that I wouldn't get to use our cute, new party design, but as luck would have it, I was contacted by a frantic little Goldilou.  She found herself the host of a last-minute Halloween party and she needed some great ideas.  That's where we came in.  She knew we'd been working on Monster Bash so she wondered if we might just pack it up and send it over.  Well, needless to say, we were more than happy to help.  She was able to snap some quick pics as she was setting up.

So cute, right!!  Here you can see the invite, cupcake toppers and the bear and soda labels.  We chose to do something a little more mod, like the Shag prints on our Pinterest Board.  We get tired of big, cumbersome gothic motifs, so we decided to use pops of color. 

 In this photo, you can see two of my favorite details: the super cute candy corn banner and the candlesticks.  I'm really loving the way the banner looks against the white wall.  I think if I had to do it again, I would finish the edges of the candy corn.  How great do those candlesticks look?! So simple and yet they look oh, so good.

 Here's a shot of the set up! I'm told the party was a big success.  I'm so glad Goldiluxe could be part of the fun.

Oh, one more thing...a guest at the party has asked for something similar for an upcoming baby shower....we showed her some of our photos and designs and after much deliberation, it seems as though Cowboy Baby will finally be coming to life. I'm so excited!

Wanna see more photos?  You can check them out on our Facebook page.

15 November, 2011

Guest Post: Howard's Guide to the Perfect Shoot

Have I got something special for you today, gang. My super creative friend, Howard Leu has taken some time out of his cray cray schedule to pen a little ditty for us. So, I'll get out of the way and, Howard, it's your dice!

 For Wedding Couples: How to Have a Perfect Wedding Shoot

 Like many wedding photographers, I started out shooting weddings for friends and family. I fell in love with wedding photography from those experiences and also from seeing just how creative wedding photography can really be. I love weddings, and I love capturing people’s candid emotions. It still seems like magic to me that we have this technology that can freeze a moment in time and preserve it for our enjoyment. Sure, I enjoy taking pictures of foliage or things that catch my eyes but being able to capture moments of a celebration where two people commence their union and commitment to one another, there’s nothing like it. And each wedding is unique. That makes shooting weddings challenging and exciting. My own wedding is in April of 2012. And believe me, I would shoot my own wedding if I can find a way to do it. But I can’t.

What I can do is help you get the most out of your wedding photographer and help them in ensuring a perfect wedding shoot. Here are some tips:

Hire the one you trust. I like to think that a wedding photographer is so much more than just that person with the camera taking photos at a wedding, but most of the time it is just that. The only time that it’s not just that is during the formal portraits and wedding party photos. That’s when the photographer is also the stage director, the timekeeper, and the person who tells people what to do. And since this is a person you are hiring to provide a service, why not make sure that they can do more than snap photos. The photographer will be concerned around two things at the wedding party shoot: 1. Getting great photos within the given amount of time, and 2. Making sure that the photo shoot doesn’t delay your arrival to the reception because the angry guests will surely not blame the couple (yep, you guessed right. They’ll blame the photographer). Hire someone you feel like you can trust and work out their duties during the wedding before hand. Then on your wedding day, let go of responsibilities and stress, and enjoy!

A walk with your photographer photographer. When you have your pre-wedding consultation with the photographer, you should do a walkthrough of the whole day as well as the different shoot locations. It can be either a verbal one or if it satisfies you, an actual walkthrough at the locations. A well-trained and experienced photographer should be able to shoot in any conditions and environment, and will most likely go visit the locations by themselves in the morning of the wedding or the day before. The walkthrough is for you the couple to communicate with the photographer what you like about the locations you’ve chosen for the shoots and what kind of shots you have in mind. Also, if you’re the kind of person who communicates better with pictures, don’t be afraid to ask the photographer if it’s okay to show them some wedding photos you like that you collected from magazines and websites. Try using photos that will show what you want and not the photos that you actually want.

Designate an organizer. Perhaps you already have a wedding planner or someone designated to be the point person to make sure things go smoothly on your wedding day. Then you can understand how having a go-to person during a photo shoot can help it go smoothly and efficiently. It could be someone in the wedding party or someone who knows most of the family and friends at the portrait shoots. This helps the photographer focus on what’s being captured behind the lens and ensure the time is well used. It also helps to have the organizer and photographer to be on the same page so that one can round up people needed for the shot while the other is setting up the shoot.

Breathe in, breathe out, relax. When you’re standing there posing and feeling self-conscious about how unnatural you might look, do this: take a deep breath, roll your shoulders back, breathe out, and relax your body. Try to have one foot in front of the other and offset the even height of your shoulders. If you’re naturally camera shy, instead of looking into the camera lens look over it. Stiff in the face? If you just can’t seem to find that natural smile to match the joy in your heart then divert your attention to your spankin’ new husband/wife. Give them a little nudge or just simply look at them and remember what this day is about. Engage them in an affectionate glance, or whisper something tender or funny in their ear to get their attention. Those small moments always make photos that are full of magic.

You’re the Star! The most important thing you can remember about standing there for the photo shoot is that no matter how much you want to look good for the camera it really comes down to how you feel inside. Even if it is a posed photo, what’s really being captured, besides how fabulous you look, is what you express from within. Let the photographer worry about how the photos look. Just focus on all the attention from the cameras and friends and family on your wedding day.

Howard is an architect and freelance photographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He restores and writes about the wonderful historic fabric that is the old buildings in Milwaukee when he’s not pointing his camera at people. You can find his photography works at howardleuphotography.com.