ericamay photography blog: thought studio.

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#92 — Keep fresh flowers in my home August 6, 2009

There’s just something about the smell of fresh flowers that lifts my spirits. There’s something about coming home and seeing a pretty vase filled with fragrant, colorful flowers on the dining room table that helps remind us that the little things in life are what truly matter.

For the past month, I’ve kept fresh flowers in my home, switching out with new bouquets or bundles of fresh flowers every week. It was the best thing — making a trip to my local florist (Needham Floral) for some fresh stems of daisies. A special trip that I would usually dismiss since I “have no time,” but I couldn’t this time, because it was on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.

The thing I love most about creating a list of things to do for yourself is that it makes you do things that you already want to do. Instead of excusing a trip to the florist as not worth your time, writing it down and making it a goal makes it a requirement. It’s such a refreshing change of pace — requiring yourself to do things that make you smile, brighten your day, and add just a little more joy to your life. :)

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For my last set of flowers to complete this item on my list, I chose simple white daisies (some of my favorites!) and repurposed glass bottles I had in my home. One is a medium-sized milk bottle from my favorite milk company, Shatto (see earlier post about that!), and the other is a soda bottle I kept because it was cute. :) 

The milk bottle of flowers sat on my dining room table, and also contained these neat little beads that expand into larger balls when they’re exposed to water. How cool are those? :)

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The second set of flowers in the soda bottle were placed in my upstairs bathroom, so I could look at them while I get ready in the mornings! :) It’s amazing what a little bit of extra beauty in unexpected places can do for your entire outlook on the day.

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I have made quite a bit of progress lately on my 101 in 1001 list! :) If you haven’t heard of the project or haven’t made a list for yourself, click on the link in the upper right to take a look at the rules and see my whole list!


#93: Cupcakes at BabyCakes July 23, 2009

I love cupcakes.

I own at least five different cupcake stands/tree/tiers at home. I have baked a variety of cupcake assortments over the years, including cupcakes baked inside ice cream cones. I follow a few cupcake blogs. I didn’t serve a seven-tiered cake with fondant at our wedding… no, we had cupcakes instead. I delight over cupcakes with fun flavors, cute icing patterns, and pretty little sprinkles. But most of all, I just love to eat cupcakes.

So when I created my 101 in 1001 list, I had to include cupcakes. After all, if I was going to be doing 101 various things over the next 1,001 days — why shouldn’t one of them be about indulging in delicious cupcakes? I thought long and hard about it… ha ha… and decided that the task must be to try a new cupcake variety and a banana-flavored milk from my favorite local Kansas City cupcake shop — BabyCakes.



Jeff and I set out on a beautiful weekend afternoon, after a trip to City Market for some fresh veggies, to cross this item off the list. It was a busy day at BabyCakes, and much to my disappointment, the banana milk from Shatto was all sold out. Gasp! Could I complete this task without banana milk? Why did I specify banana as the flavor? What was I thinking??

My husband, being the sweet and loving man he is, gave me permission to instead try a different variety of milk. Because, you see, I don’t love milk. I don’t love milk the way I love cupcakes. Not even close. In fact, milk sometimes creeps me out. Don’t even ask me to touch a bottle of milk if the sell by date is tomorrow. No way. I won’t do it. So, you see, this task of trying a flavor of milk was more to conquer my creeped-outedness about drinking milk in the first place.

The only milk that I really have ever liked is the milk that comes from the lovely cows at the Shatto dairy farm in nearby Osborn, Missouri. Shatto is a dairy farm that uses no growth hormones, bottles their milk in super cute glass bottles, and makes unique and fun varieties (like root beer milk?!). It’s milk production at its finest. You can even tour the farm. In order to properly cross this task off the list, I had to only have the highest quality of flavored milk available, which of course Baby Cakes offers (and Price Chopper/HyVee, which is where we buy it for home use!). Since the banana milk was all gone, we opted for an orange creamsicle variety.


My cupcake flavor of choice was banana with buttercream frosting — you know, to make up for the lack of banana milk (sorry about the blog stamp mishap below… sometimes I run the wrong Photoshop action on the vertical ones!).


And Jeff opted for a classic — vanilla cake with vanilla cream frosting.


They were delicious. Beyond delicious.



And so was the milk. :)


I am proud to say that I have successfully crossed off another task on my list of 101 things to do in 1,001 days. If you don’t already have a list, consider making one — you get to decide what you do! :) If you start one, post it online so people can keep you accountable… and leave me a link in the comments section to where I can find it!



#50: Learn How To Make Homemade Noodles July 15, 2009

Filed under: 101 in 1001 — ericamay @ 7:05 am

I’m crossing off another item on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a challenge where you get to choose just how much you want to challenge yourself! :) I started my list about a year ago and created 101 things that I wanted to do before the end of 1001 days. I’m making progress!

This past weekend, when I was visiting my family, my mom and I set out to make homemade noodles. And, since this is a photography blog, we documented the process. :)

I love homemade noodles. Seriously love them. And I always thought that they must be difficult to make… but I was wrong. Sure, it takes some time… but it’s not hard!

Like any good recipe, there really isn’t an exact recipe. Here’s what we included:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Salt
  • A tiny bit of cream

We started with the trusty KitchenAid stand mixer.

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And a bowl with 4 cups of flour. To this bowl, we added a 1:1 ratio of eggs to flour — creating a little “bowl” in the flour to pour the eggs into. We added the salt (to taste, depending on how big your batch is), and a tiny bit of cream.

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Then we let the mixer do its job for a while until the dough was thick and a little bit dry (you don’t want it to look like cookies or bread — noodles have to be must more dried out!).

Then, we floured our surface (which we of course cleaned thoroughly) and set about rolling out the dough as thin as we could get it, making sure to flour both sides regularly to keep them from getting sticky!

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Then, we rolled the dough and cut very, very thin noodles. Some people make thicker or wider noodles and that’s totally up to your preference! Here’s our pile of noodles when we were finished cutting:

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Then, we just cooked them! :) I can’t remember for sure how long… maybe 30 minutes? Ha ha. I’d obviously be calling my mom again at that step when I make them on my own. :) We cooked them with chicken breast in chicken broth that had been on the stove for the entire time we were creating the noodles.

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I don’t have any photos of the finished product, because we ate them way too fast. Yum!! :)

Anyway, here’s to crossing off another item on my list of things to do! :)


Operation: Love Reunited Session in Leavenworth February 22, 2009

Last week, my brother went back to Iraq to finish his tour. It was so nice to spend time with him while he was home on leave, and I feel like through his deployment, I can understand a little bit better what the families who are experiencing military deployment go through during that time. I am even more excited about my participation in the Operation: Love Reunited program, where photographers offer free sessions to families during a deployment. 

This weekend, I got to meet another wonderful military family through the program. Both parents are active duty Army, stationed in Ft. Leavenworth. When Jen e-mailed me to do a portrait session of them to send to her husband, who is currently deployed in Baghdad, I was excited. I love these surprise portrait sessions — I send an album directly to the deployed soldier, who usually doesn’t know that it’s coming! It’s such an awesome way for me to give back to the men and women who sacrifice so much — including precious time with their families — for our freedoms.

I met the family in their Leavenworth home, since it was too cold outside for an outdoor location. With sessions in the home, I like to capture families doing what they do best — spending time together! So we started off with Mom reading a book to the kids (their dad’s favorite one!).




And we even got a few close-ups of the kids by themselves to send to Dad! I love these, and I’m so excited to send him portraits of his beautiful children!




I can’t decide which of the next two photos I love more. She is just the most precious girl! These are definitely some of my favorite kids’ portraits.



And some sister-brother bonding!



I love this classic headshot of Mom! I’m sure her husband will, too. :) It’s no wonder the kids have beautiful smiles — look where they got it from!


Mother-daughter photos just never get old, especially not with two lovely ladies. :)



Such great smiles! I love everything about this — from the joyful smiles, to the American flag print in the background…



The bear in the photo below is “Daddy Bear” and it plays a recorded message from Dad to daughter!



Jen, thank you for scheduling a session with me. It was a joy to meet your family, and I can’t wait to send the surprise package to your husband!

If you know a military family who is going through a deployment, send them my way for more information about an Operation: Love Reunited photography session!

This also helps me meet my goal for #81 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days (don’t worry, even though I’m crossing that item off, I’ll still be doing may more OpLove sessions!).


#65: Have a night out with Kasie February 21, 2009

Filed under: 101 in 1001 — ericamay @ 2:01 am
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We met as first-graders in Mrs. Thompson’s class. I was new to the school. I think we first interacted on the playground. She says I stole her friend. I can’t verify or deny that accusation, but what I do know is that she got over it. And eventually, SHE became my best friend. First grade. 6 years old.

And here we are,  18 years later. Still friends. The best of friends, really. She’s the one person in the world who quite possibly knows more embarrassing stories about me than my husband. She’s the one person in the world who I can say one single word to and we instantly know what inside joke it relates to. She’s the one person who stood by me through all of my phases — stretch pants, scrunchies and all.

Having a friend like that who you can count on no matter what is a treasure. I am so blessed to call Kasie my BFF after all of these years, through elementary school, the tumultuous middle school era, high school drama, college in separate cities, and eventually, as roommates before we both got married. And after, we even lived in apartments right behind each other (seriously, we could see in the windows) for about six months. Someday, we’ll write a book. For now, you get a blog post.

I didn’t realize when I put #65 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days that it would actually be this difficult to schedule. Being a grown-up is like that. :) We haven’t hung out by ourselves (not that we don’t love our husbands… we hang out together with them all the time!) in a really long time. It’s nice to be silly and carefree and spend quality time with someone who just “gets” you no matter how silly you can get. And it’s nice to talk in inside-joke-code as much as we want without having to explain the stories… that usually aren’t very funny to anyone else. :)

So tonight, we spent a night at dinner, Wal-Mart (preparing for my new secret project for my office), Starbucks and my house… watching some ridiculous old videos of us that were recently uncovered by my parents. 

Kasie, you’re the best. Thanks for being my friend always.



(Photos from the iPhone!)


#23: Books That Benefit My Business (and life) February 12, 2009

Filed under: 101 in 1001 — ericamay @ 11:46 am
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I just needed something to read. A small book, quick read, something to just entertain me for an hour or so. I wasn’t looking for something life-altering. I wasn’t looking for inspiration. I wasn’t looking for motivation. But I found it. All of it.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of the book “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, a gift from my parents to Jeff at Christmas. I was immediately immersed in the wisdom, candidness, openness and the practical-yet-stirring advice that this man was setting forth… all about achieving childhood dreams.

I’d encourage you to read a synopsis of the book here, but basically the book is a recount of the lecture Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon, gave as his final farewell to the university… and to the world. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last July, but not before leaving a lasting impression on the world. I can’t really describe what the pages of the book contain, except that it tied together a ton of random moments throughout his life in a brilliant way. I just felt moved. I felt encouraged, but in a very realistic way. I felt determined that my childhood dreams (minus the figure skater part) are becoming a reality.

My favorite quote. I probably re-read this paragraph 15 times:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.” 

So I didn’t start out reading this book to gain practical advice for my business. What I gained was so much more — an extra push to chase after dreams, to live a life full of the decisions I want to make, and to just go for it. I am so blessed to be surrounding by people who encourage me and believe in me — and it’s time to start living out our dreams.

Read the book. Find out more about it here. Buy a copy here.

And if you have 76 minutes to spare, you can actually watch his entire last lecture (what the book is based on) on YouTube.


An Unexpected Surprise. January 20, 2009

I received the best thoughtful gift in the mail today… all the way from Connecticut! :)


Several weeks ago (maybe a few months now!), I had the privilege of “meeting” Betsy through my blog. Betsy stumbled across my blog through another photographer’s blog and left me a few comments (including solving the mystery of what type of plant is featured in the photograph that hangs above our fireplace!). I sent her an e-mail thanking her for “stopping by” and providing me with the answer to a question that had plagued my thoughts for so long! :)

So we got to e-mailing back and forth, and I found out that Betsy is an aspiring photographer in Connecticut who also has a very full plate besides her pursuit into the world of photography. Through our e-mails, we started up a conversation about what it’s like to start a photography business, the steps she can take to kick-start her career, tips about photography in general, and basically just have a conversation about something we both love — photography, of course! :)

I am so incredibly impressed with the way she has embraced learning, trying and pursuing her dream. It’s an awesome reminder for me of what it was like to get started (and boy, would I have loved another photographer’s opinion back then!). 

So Betsy sent us these two gorgeous, original mugs (made by her dad, a potter — how awesome is that??), a lovely note, and a Starbucks gift card (I can already taste the chai tea latte waiting for me!). I was so touched, and so in awe of the gorgeous craftsmanship of these two mugs that I had to share with the rest of you!




Anyway, “mentor an aspiring photographer” is #31 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. When Betsy said that I could cross that one off, I agreed to do it as long as she started her own blog and promised to keep shooting and learning. So, Betsy, I’m crossing that item off the list even though it’s a continuing process. Even though I’m always here to help and encourage and share what I’ve learned so far in my own photography journey. And for the rest of you wondering if you can venture into the world of photography — please don’t hesitate to contact me (or keep contacting me!). A line through item #31 certainly doesn’t squelch my love for helping you learn and succeed. I’m available via e-mail… me @ (just remove the spaces!).

I’d encourage you all view Betsy’s blog, and keep an eye on her — she’s just getting started, and she’s already doing great things!! Congratulations, Betsy, and thanks for the super sweet gift.