How to Create a Travel Itinerary and Why It's Important

Hello Lovely,

There is something to be said for aimlessly roaming the streets of an energetic city popping into quaint cafes and talking to the locals, not knowing what you will find. When I went to Amsterdam, I only had two things on my list that I absolutely had to do: try the local “herbs” and go to the Red Light District. Sadly I never made it to the Red Light District. I planned the hotel with a shuttle to and from the airport and nothing else. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the adventures, street fries and stroopwaffles and I’m sure our drunk shennigans began to annoy one of the bartenders. We literally popped into random stores and restaurants and just wandered aimlessly. It was a miracle I remembered the way back. Ever since then, I try to have an itinerary.

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Here’s how I organise an itinerary:

Do Your Research

If you want to get the most out of your experience, you need to know what you want to do and what will make the ultimate travel venture for you. Are you fascinated by a town’s history, culture or food? Do you want your trip to just be about crazy adventures and a city’s vibrant nightlife? Answering these questions means that you need to do some research for the area you are visiting.

Prior to going to London, I looked up tours of all the must-see Landmarks and booked them (well most of them). Even though I had planned a lot, there were still a few hiccups along the way: immigration, currency, my bus pass…so while you always expect the unexpected, always have a backup plan as well.

Use Symbols and Addresses

What’s key to a successful itinerary is coding. I like to use company logos so that at a simple glance, I have an idea of where I wanted to go. Adding addresses makes it easier to remember where something is. Let’s say you want to go to a specific department store. By jotting down the location ahead of time, I was positive I was going to the right store when I plugged it into my GPS.

Download the map area in advance

If you’re travelling internationally, Google Maps has a handy feature that allows you to select a certain area on the map and download it to your phone. That way, whether you have data or not, you’ll have access to GPS. This helped me a lot when I lost my GPS. And if it’s a place you plan on visiting often, all you have to do is update the download periodically so that it doesn’t disappear.

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Keep your Itinerary Offline

I really feel like I mastered the itinerary with my Girl’s Trip to Miami last October. It’s so important to keep a version of your itinerary on your phone offline. Papers can get left behind or lost and internet is so unreliable. Save the document in the cloud, and keep it available offline as well as downloading a copy of it to your phone. You can’t be too careful.

Leave Room for Opportunity & Be Realistic

There are always times while exploring a city that something incredible sidetracks you, and if you are scheduled with events back to back you may have to miss out. Of course you’re going to want to see and do everything on your trip, but also be realistic.

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Don’t Forget the Extras

Add your flight numbers, hotel addresses, maps, etc. to your itinerary file for easy access. All my itineraries include this information, plus the currency exchange rate (so I know how much 1 US dollar is worth in the country). It is much easier to look at one file then have to scroll through dozens of emails or check different apps to find what I am looking for.

Thinking about scheduling a lifestyle session for your munchkin?

Hello Lovely,

Lifestyle family photography holds a special place in my heart. Maybe it’s my ability to see the real and not worry about setting up the perfect shot.  Maybe it’s because it’s the type of photography I want for my brand. When you look back at your parents albums, you know, the ones they kept of all of us when we were kids, what do you see? Aside from the embarrassing fashion that really serves as a testimony to history, what was happening in these photos? Did you see a photo of you snuggling your mom as a small child, your mom looking at you as you look at your children, but no one is ever there to document it? Did you care that your face was not perfectly lit and perfectly smooth? Do you see a photo of your dad, tickling you on the bed and remember that moment, as now your dad is older, and a Grandfather? That, is how you have to think about lifestyle photography. Real.

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What is a lifestyle photo shoot?

Good question! Lifestyle photographs capture the child in their everyday life (typically your own home). They are meant to be fun and really catch the child's personality. They are not a perfectly styled portrait. But I can still give you style advice on how to make sure you have a good shoot. I offer these sessions for maternity, newborn and children up to 12 years old, families, couples and weddings. I shoot in natural light so all photos will be done in the daytime. Artificial light may be used for dimly lit rooms.

What can you expect with:

NEWBORN: Lifestyle newborn sessions are the perfect way to capture your new baby in your home in a relaxed way. This is a great way to get images in your new nursery, with pets, etc.  During these sessions, we will capture your family in a way that you can look back on and remember how you really were.  Siblings do great in this situation as well, allowing us to capture authentic moments.  No posing (either of the baby or family) is done in-home, just gentle and relaxed direction, which allows for natural connection and interaction to occur. All nuclear family members are included.

CHILDREN: Lifestyle sessions are perfect to capture your child in their element. We plan the session totally around their interests. Think about jumping on the bed, sidewalk chalk, swimming, playing tea party with a sibling, or doing whatever your child does, right at home. Capture those moments that only you as parents get to see, in photos. Lifestyle shoots are timeless. You will look back at the photos and remember your children as they were. When you kids ask you when they are older, “Mom, what was I like as a child?”, you can show them.

FAMILY: These take place in your home and incorporate everything about your family, using your home as the background. I will capture your family, just as they are, doing activities you all love.  You count on me to capture all of those in-between moments that you always wished someone was there to capture. These sessions are planned ahead of time to ensure an amazing experience capturing your family in the “real”.

Is the session a set price?


Yep! All children's lifestyle sessions are $150.

How long will the shoot last?
1 hour.

How many images will I get?


You will get 30 images, presented in a digital format with in 10 business days. You'll have the rights to these files, but also understand that unless explicitly stated not to in contract, I will share the photos on my blog.

Will mom and dad be included in the photos?


I highly encourage mom and/or dad to take an active role in the shoot.

How many outfits should I have prepared for the shoot?


I suggest 2-3 play outfits for the child, so you get some varied shots. 

What if I have several children?


You can choose to focus on one child during your session or your whole family. It's a great way to capture sweet sibling moments. *The sibling photos will be lifestyle in nature, and not styled family portraits.

How and when do I pay for the session?


You pay when you book the date. I accept cash or PayPal.

Do you offer maternity sessions or family portraits?


Yes, I offer lifestyle sessions for maternity as well as children, ages 0-12.


What's the difference between a lifestyle session and styled portraits?


A lifestyle session is in the moment, simple, charming... enter Charming Child. A styled portrait we plan every detail ahead; clothing, location, styling, even a house call to measure for your future photos and choose colour palettes. 


GIVE ME A SHOUT!

Have an idea for your next photoshoot? Book an appointment with me below. All consultations are free.

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Hello Lovely,

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Valentine's Day Date Ideas

Hello Lovely,

Valentine’s Day is totally overrated, but there are still some hopeless romantics out there looking to keep the spark alive. At this point, I’m sure everyone is tired of the traditional dinner and movie date, and let’s face it, taking your girl to a club is just no longer cool. Step your game up! So I’ve rounded up 5 really fun and creative date ideas for anyone looking to shower their loved one with affection on this special day!

ROMANTIC CUDDLE KIT FOR TWO

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A romantic Cuddle Kit is an amazing gift for your anniversary, your spouse’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, OR just because! It would also make a cute wedding or bridal shower gift, or a quick-pick-me-up for a cold weather day. It can be thrown together in a jiffy, and who wouldn’t LOVE a night of cuddlin’, snugglin’, and lovin’ in a basket? It’s quick, easy, AND romantic, plus, it comes with a darling, free printable gift tags and “Snuggle Up” banner to help you have the most romantic cuddle around. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Here are some suggestions of what you might put inside…

  • A soft, fuzzy blanket

  • Some Bubbly

  • Chocolate Truffles

  • A lovey, dovey movie

  • Some Candles

  • Some Romantic Music

  • Socks

  • Hershey Kisses

  • Cocoa

The opportunities are literally endless! Just include whatever you think is comfy, cozy, and super cuddly.

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Romantic Rooftop Date

Meeting and falling in love is such a thrilling, exciting time! Enter the romantic rooftop date-perfect for a picnic!!  And why stop at a picnic blanket when you could have a table and chairs?! Don’t have a flat roof?  Are you living in an apartment without roof access?  Well, don’t let that stop you!  Ask to borrow a friend’s roof for the night.   (I’m pretty sure it’s empty and available.)  Or look for a place in town with access to a great view.

Even if you are solo, all of these activities are fun things to do with your friends and family during the cooler fall and winter months. Give them a try and report back!

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Sign Up for a Cooking Class

When cooking isn't your strong suit (and restaurant reservations are booked to the max), sign up for a last minute cooking class where you can learn to make each other's favourite meals. Things always tend to heat up in the kitchen.

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A Wine Bar Crawl

Instead of sticking to just one spot, hop from place-to-place and order different kinds of wine and tapas along the way. It's waaay more interesting than a boring ol' sit-down dinner. Of course, it doesn't hurt stashing one away for later too.

A Scavenger Hunt

This Valentine’s Day, add a little family fun with this Valentine’s Day Scavenger Hunt that everyone can enjoy! You can make up your own, complete with creative challenges, photo missions, and sexy prizes. I’ve even got two ideas for you. The first is specific to Valentine’s Day and only requires your significant other. Not only is this scavenger hunt easy to set up with a cute bag label you can print directly onto the bag, its full of fun activities that will create a memorable Valentine’s Day adventure. Follow all of the scavenger hunt clues to reveal hours of Valentine’s Day fun!

The second option is something I did four years ago for a significant other’s birthday. Just invite your most adventurous friends, print off the clues and let the race begin!

Do you have another fun Valentin’es Day date idea? Sound off below!

The Smart New Guide To Online Dating

Hello Lovely,

January is usually known for a hug surge in two places: the gym and online dating. But why? During this time most people write out plans for the year that normally include creating a regimen to reach a specific fitness goal. Also, during this time you're usually guaranteed a discounted price, the sign-up fee waived, or a few free gym accessories as a sign-on perk. According to Match.com, online dating sites are at their busiest between Dec. 26 and Feb. 14. Match reports 50 million messages sent and 1 million dates occurring during this time, which is referred to as peak dating season. It’s probably because the weather makes us crave a cuddle buddy, but there’s nothing like the holidays to make us feel lonely. So what do we do? The millennial approach to dating is definitely online dating; bars are intimidating and no one has time to wait three days to two weeks for processing time to get a call/text back.

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new dating app. From Bumble to Coffee Meets Bagel and from Hinge to Happn, there are a lot of options out there and it can be a little overwhelming! Don’t worry, as an online dating veteran, I’ve got some expert tips for you so can avoid making some of the same mistakes I did and meet your forever person!

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  1. Choose the right app

Once you know exactly what you want, you have to choose the right dating platform. There are 10 major sites and apps to choose from, so let’s quickly break them down. Tinder might be the best known of all the dating apps out there, but just remember it does have a reputation for being a hookup site, so if you’re looking for a serious connection, this may not be it. I’ve never heard of Hinge before but it’s an interesting concept: Hinge uses mutual Facebook friends to curate matches. The app also uses a scrolling feature, which allows you to interact with multiple parts of a profile, rather than swiping left and right, so no more missed connections! The League is super exclusive and ever I couldn’t get in. After you submit your LinkedIn profile, the apps takes about a week to approve you as a new member, giving you access to 1-6 carefully curated and verified matches a day (height included!) Be careful though, if you aren’t active, the app will kick you out.

Raya bills itself as an app for creative types, from DJs to restaurateurs to NBA players.  To apply, be ready to show a large Instagram following—the rest is up to a “secret committee.” For those looking for a more specific type of connection, JSwipe offers a range of options, from “orthodox” to “just Jewish.”  Bumble asks women to send the first text. Don’t worry if you accidentally swipe past your soul mate—the app offers three free “backtracks” every three hours. I tried coffee meets bagel and I honestly uninstalled it the same day so trust me, skip this one. you to match with people you’ve passed in real life. If they have an account, you can send a like…which they’ll only see if they like you back! Foolproof and a little stalkerish…

Then there’s my personal favourite: OkCupid. I met my ex on it, and since then I’ve had A LOT of interesting conversations. Some I’ve written off the person immediately because there’s no way they could’ve thought we were compatible. Like match.com, after answering a TON of question (and I do mean a TON - but seriously don’t skip them they’re important) you’ll know just how compatible you and a potential match would be based on the percentage of personality traits you share. The app just released an update that shows which specific interests you overlap on, so if certain qualities are more important to you than others, you’ll be able to sort through matches much more easily. OkCupid’s software is literally a free version of Match.com. Sure there are some limits that you’ll have to pay to unlock, but there’s still a lot you can do with it.

2. Perfect Your Profile

Trust me, people actually read your profile! This is where you tell someone why they should get to know you; why they should swipe right. You want to make sure that you get across what’s important to you, and show some personality, too. Include a joke or a cheeky pun, if that’s up your alley. I struck up a conversation with a guy who said he wants a girl who can cook him grits and that was one of the best things I could’ve done! (We still talk)! You also want to give the viewer something to start a conversation about, so make sure that your profile says something that they can engage with. The most important thing is to make it personal, so whatever you feel good about is the right way to go.

As important as what you write is the profile picture. When you pick a profile picture, PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE OTHER PEOPLE! I have looked at pictures and wondered which one is the guy, and the worst ones are them with other girls. Is it your sister? Best friend? Ex-girlfriend? Current girlfriend? Either way it tells me that you’re unavailable so I swipe left quickly.

3. Be Patient & Open Minded

It’s hard to really tell what someone is like based on a few photos. Get to know people, chat it up, and be open-minded. If you’re only into tall, dark and handsome but you end up having great conversation with a blondie who’s on the shorter side, give it a chance. Also, age is just a number (to an extent). We’re not telling you to run out and date someone 30 years older than you, but remember that older usually means wiser (and more dating and life experience), so don’t be afraid to date outside of your own age range.

Also you may be on a site or app for weeks or months without making a genuine connection. Don’t quit! OkCupid found new guys for me every day! A lot of them never messaged me back, but that could be for a number of reasons. Remember, some people may no longer use the site because they lost interest or met someone and just didn’t deactivate their account. So don’t take it personal if the responses are a little slow.

Above all else, remember to always be yourself. Don’t be someone you think will attract the “perfect person” and you can’t maintain the facade. Don’t be afraid to set your standards and don’t settle. Whether you’re looking to casually date or find your lifelong partner, remember to put your best foot forward.

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What are your favourite dating apps? Do you have any online dating tips that you didn’t see on this list?

Share your recommendations in the comments!

3 Valentine’s Day Outfits That Aren’t a Red Dress

Hello Lovely,

February is upon us and apart from my birthday, there’s one big thing a lot of people look forward to. Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to get out for an extra special night with your SO or a few of your besties. But if you’re like me, you don’t necessarily need your V-Day outfit to scream V-Day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good red dress, but that doesn’t mean I only wear it come February 14th. So if you’re like me and want to look stylish, but will pass on the obvious choice, check out these alternate Valentine’s Day outfit options to celebrate in style.

Whether you’re headed out for a girls’ night, doing a super chill date night, or going big with a fancy dinner and a show, we’re sharing a few fun outfit options that work for Valentine’s Day that AREN’T a red dress.

This look is the perfect Valentine's Day outfit when it's cold outside but you still want to look your best. Cute and practical: Best of both worlds!

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No matter the ocassion, nothing says ready like a little black dress.

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In the third installment of outfits for Valentines Day that aren't red dresses, we have my favourite colour coral, paired with a black leather mini skirt for a flirty evening on the town.

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Layered Red Velvet Cake - Why This Recipe Was A Total Disaster

Hello lovely,

Since I started the tradition of making an annual Christmas cake, I decided to extend it to all other holidays. I already make themed drinks and other recipes, but a signature Valentine’s Day Cake sounded ideal this year! Hopefully next year I'm not so last minute with it. And I should probably choose to make it during a less stressful time in my life. I definitely rushed to make this because I anticipated having to travel for a trip that never happened. That's the unfortunate part of when you’re not the one making the plans, so your plans have to accommodate theirs.

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That's why there’s no recipe for this. To start an annual Valentine's day cake, I cared more about how it looked, so I actually used a boxed red velvet cake recipe. There was just one problem: The cake mix was too moist. I couldn’t get around the cake with any frosting because parts of the cake would come off on the spatula. Then the frosting turned out to be REALLY hot pink, which was an absolute nightmare for what I had in mind. I’m already a complete amateur at cake decorating so I actually panicked for a few minutes. (Side note: If anyone is hosting cake decorating classes please sign me up 🙏)

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After my mini panic session, I decided to melt the frosting in the microwave just a bit and pour it over the cake. Trust me, it was as messy as you’re imagining. The clean up sucked and took multiple people, but at least I had two little people (kids) to assist (and by assist, I mean lick the plate).

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So what did I learn from this experience? First: I definitely need to invest in the right pans to make a layered cake of different sizes. I used a Bundt pan for the bottom because it was the only thing deep enough for the base and I actually baked the top smaller cake in a saucepan. It worked but when I say that’s probably one of the most ghetto things I had ever done…🤦‍♀️ Second, I really need to plan better because I stress way too easily. I thought everything was perfectly planned, but its probably not a good idea to shoot a complex cake like this when you’re shooting like 50 other things in the same day. Third, filters really save the day!

Have you ever had a recipe fail? What was your kitchen nightmare. Share your memories in the comment section below. Hopefully your Valentine’s Day treats don’t turn out like mine 😅