I chauffeured and chaperoned a very cute date to the pumpkin patch today.

 

Wardrobe on Maddi: Redfish Kids

Location: Westham Island Herb Farm

Last June, I became an Oddfellow. The Oddfellows is a very old organization started some time in the 18th century. Unfortunately, there seems to not be any concrete evidence of when and how they started. One speculation is that times were hard and a small group of men got together to give of their time and money to offer help to those in need through donations and fundraising activities. This was regarded as odd behaviour so people called them the odd fellows and the name stuck. This organization was only open to men at one point. As times changed, the membership was opened to women. In June of 2016, I was one of 10 women that started a brand new lodge in Vancouver, Hemlock #8. Regardless of how our name came about, I am proud to be an Oddfellow!

Centuries later, the benevolent spirit of the organization still carries through today. Our first fundraising event was a small spaghetti social benefitting Wish Drop-In Centre. We raised a small amount of money and with the success of our first event, we aspired to put on something big! We wanted to get the word out that we put on fabulous events that guarantee a good time. For the past couple of months, we set out to do just that. 

Last Saturday, we hosted roughly 70-80 family and friends and showed them the best time at our masquerade party, A Masked Affair, a benefit event for the Wish Drop-In Centre once again. We love that we’ve built a relationship with them! We had T Riley and the Bourbon Rebels as well as Kitty Nights Burlesque for entertainment, a couple of our members cooked up a storm and a few more served our guests endlessly. I set up a photo booth to capture everyone with their fun & beautiful masks they came to the event with. I love how everyone got into the spirit of dressing up to the theme. I sure hope this becomes an annual event!

A lot of planning, coordinating, time and hard work went into planning A Masked Affair and we couldn’t have done it without the support of our members and local businesses that contributed to the success of the event. I’d like to recognize them as a way to say thanks and for you to know that you support a company that gives back to good causes when you choose to do business with them.

Several members of Van 90 (Vancouver Oddfellows men’s lodge) who volunteered their time to help us run the event

Several members and their families that volunteered time to decorate the space and take everything down after the event

T Riley donated her time entertaining our guests

Kitty Nights Burlesque donated $100 of their services to the cause

Brassneck Brewery donated beer to our cash bar

Lush donated giveaways for our guests and a large gift box to our raffle prizes

Red Tree Wellness contributed acupuncture and naturopathic packages to our raffle prizes

Yours truly donated my Photo Booth services to the event and a mini session to the raffle prizes

Here are the ladies of Hemlock #8, missing Nycki & Cheryl. Top (L-R): Stephanie, Elaine, Beryl, Sonia, Lindsay, Michelle. Bottom (L-R): Carla, Jenn

 

Below is a slideshow of some of the photos from the photo booth. Enjoy!

 

I’m still working on the photos from the event. I will be updating this post with some photos from the event when they are ready.

It was my almost-Valentine baby of a hubby’s birthday on Thursday, Feb. 15th. He had the day off, so I planned a day full of celebration with some of his favourite things. We started the morning spending time in Maddi’s classroom, then went to our painting haven which we discovered through our friend Liz last fall. A quick stop for lunch, then an hour long couples’ massage right before we have to go pick Maddi up from school and take her to ballet. After ballet, we celebrated Sean some more with his mom and his sister over dinner at Kelly O’Bryan’s. He ended his day with an after-dinner poker night with the boys.


Since finding out about this painting haven, Sean and I have been going on these painting dates which are such escapes for us – two whole hours of creativity, presence, play, connection, learning… sprinkled with some laughs and some quiet each time we go. I absolutely love these times and look forward to them every time!

Above is my painting that I’ve been working on for at least 12-14 hours. Below is Sean’s which he just started that day. They both are works in progress and I anticipate with excitement over how they each will unfold and what they will look like in the end.

Returning to art is one of many magical gifts from Maddi. Her arrival into our lives is what ignited the inspiration for us to return to art and I can’t be more grateful.

What gifts has children, yours or another’s, given you?

About a year an a half ago, I was given some tips on how to draw a face. Since then, these women have been emerging from my doodles. 

Their evolution have come some ways in my drawings. I have been stopped in drawing because I can’t be with imperfection, and there was such a big gap between my taste and what I can produce.

More and more, I’ve learned to let go and embrace imperfection, and simply play.


Today, the gap is still there… and I can honestly say that I think the women that emerge out of my doodles are gorgeous.

Here are two from my doodles last night and this morning, sketching on an iPad app for the first time. I’ve also shared the progression in my process last night.

Take yourself on an artist date and give yourself the space to create… no agenda, just play and enjoy! It is so deliciously filling. I would love to hear what you do on your artist dates!

Today, my little family had a lunch date at Nuba on Davie Street. While I browsed the menu, I saw that they had the regular espresso drinks and that they also had Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is made with cardamom, rosewater and sugar. I love many things coffee and was faced with a choice to go with what I know I like or be adventurous and try something I’ve never had before. It’s interesting to me how even such a seemingly trivial choice could be difficult for me some times. I noticed how it’s the significance I attach to making my choice that paralyzes me and that this experience feels so familiar. It’s everywhere in my life – for so many things and for so many times, I had been so attached to “getting it right” and being “safe” that I’ve deprived myself of the fun and adventure in taking risks, playing, trying something new and different, just going for it.

I decided to try it. It came, beautifully presented. It was Instagram-worthy. I tried it, and despite how beautiful it looks and how much I wanted to like it, I hated the taste of it.

As we made our way to the art gallery, we walked into a Fleuvog store. I’ve admired these shoes for a long time but never got myself a pair of these amazingly self-expressive shoes. Too many choices, where do I even begin? Some are so outrageous I don’t know how often I’ll even wear them. Some are not outrageous, but then why buy Fleuvogs if I just want something safe? I decided to just pick out a few that I liked, tried them all on and loved two of them. It was a tough choice, but I made one and walked out with my first pair of Fleuvogs. I’ve just finished watching Gran Hotel, a Spanish series on Netflix. I have always loved period pieces for the fashion, architecture and decor and these shoes remind me of my love of them… I love them!

I see more clearly now that there’s nothing wrong with making a choice that does not result in what I want. Knowing what I don’t want is just as worthy of the risk. And that most importantly, it is the curiosity, the taking a chance on something that makes the experience enlivening!

I’m learning to come out of my scared little girl shell, not take life too seriously, loosen up, play more and have way more fun! From this space, I am loving all the wonderful possibilities available to us in this beautiful world and I am looking forward to all the fun in exploring and getting to know myself, finding out what I like and what I don’t like.

Do you take things too seriously? Do you find yourself stopped by the need to be “safe” and doing things right? What if you let loose a little? What can you say yes to today? How can you follow your curiosities more? How can you live more creatively?

 

I will forever remember this session. It is the first session where from start to finish, I got to do things exactly how I want to do this business.

We started with a consultation session at my client’s home, where I guided her to identify how she would like her family to be photographed – location, style, etc. We also talked about how these photos are going to live – will they be in an album, a gallery of framed prints, a large wall art, etc. Next, we discussed colours for wardrobe and went closet shopping to pick out what the whole family is going to wear on photo day.

 


 

On the day of the portrait session, my client came to the studio to get her hair and make-up done – this was such a treat for a mom who usually runs around taking care of her family to experience getting pampered, in peace and quiet with a hot cup of coffee in hand. We met the rest of the family at the park and had a couple of hours walking, playing, laughing, twirling, dancing… And since I already have an idea of what images they want out of this session as wall art for their home, I was shooting intentionally for those pieces.

 

 

A couple of weeks after the portrait session, we had an ordering session scheduled so I can show them what I captured. And since we’ve already done the work to identify the types and sizes of wall art as well as where in their home these will live, it was simply choosing the photos as well as the specific products and product styles for each of the pieces.


 

A few weeks after that, I went back to my client’s home with the print products and a handyman in tow to hang all the artwork up for her. I like being able to serve my clients in a way where I take care of everything from concept to artwork on the wall, and the only thing for them to do is to enjoy their photographs. It is my wish that in the ordinary moments of the day-to-day business of managing a family and a home, that the images would remind them of the beautiful life and family they have.

 

 

It was an incredible experience for me, and I was so glad to know that it was an amazing experience for her as well when I received this testimonial from her:

“I have wanted to do a family photo session since the birth of my twin daughters. However, I never booked one for a variety of reasons: 1. It was hard to find a photographer with whom I was comfortable, 2. I was not sure how much it would cost and where photos should be taken, 3. I was not sure if I looked good enough for the photos.

I was grateful for Jenn’s gentle approach with me. She spent an enormous amount of time during initial consultations and even helped me pick out outfits for our family. I did not have to worry about how I looked, because a package included hair & make up! This was such a nice treat for a busy mom. We had a lovely day for the photo session at Trout Lake park. Jenn truly knows how to make people comfortable and relaxed. Following the session, she was very generous with her time in helping us pick out pictures and frames. She was extremely responsive and attentive.

Everyday, my husband and I have smiles on our faces looking at the photos on our walls. What’s more, close to the holidays, Jenn gifted us a set of holiday cards.  We received so many compliments on our cards from all over the world. Our friends and family appreciated receiving the cards and seeing beautiful pictures of our happy family and how the children have grown.

We would recommend Jenn in a heartbeat!!!”

 

 

I’ve worked with Lorraine Kitsos of Redfish Kids on several shoots and I just love her style, as well as how she works with the children. Her creations are unique, beautiful and capture the playful and courageous spirit of children. So I’ve asked her for some quick tips to share with you on how to dress children for portrait sessions.

 

 

1.) THEY MUST LOVE WHAT THEY ARE WEARING

First and foremost – they have to love what they are wearing and feel good about themselves, so their involvement in choosing is important. That said, it’s better to give them a choice from 3 previously chosen selections than total free-range. It’s fun for them to try options on and negotiate what is the best one out of the selected few. Enjoy this as it helps kids feel good about themselves.

 

 

2.) GET THE RIGHT FIT

A child’s colouring and body type is important to consider when dressing. There is something for everyone – find the fit that’s best for you and the child. It’s a mistake to buy up in size for portrait sessions. You want to have the perfect fit for the photos! Look at shoulder width and hem lengths for guidance.

 

 

3.) HAVE FUN!

Most importantly, have fun! It’s a wonderful thing to discover “your look” on photo day!

 

This little lady have been holding hostage three wiggly teeth in her tiny mouth for over a month. In the last week and a half, she’s lost them one by one, two at school and the last one fell out earlier today at a birthday party as she took an ever so light blow to the mouth with a balloon. It was hanging by a thread and so ready to drop.

I doubt I’d look even a fraction as cute as she does here in this photograph if I had lost my two front teeth. Indeed, she wears the toothless look well.

Two Summers ago, one of our friends said it was good that we set up the lemonade stand then because the cute factor wouldn’t work so well in a couple of years when she and her friend Marcus start losing their teeth and not look as cute. Uncle Henry, I think you’re mistaken and we’re looking forward to selling out of lemonades again this Summer. The cute factor is intact!

 

 

It was in the late 90’s or early 2000’s when I saw a movie where a tween blogs as a way to introduce some stability to a life where she and her mom constantly moved around. The movie is forgettable… but since watching it, I have loved the idea of blogging.

I loved the idea of sharing and finding connection with others online, the idea that I can connect with people who share my interests, the idea that I can expand my world.

Trouble is, what I romanticize about in my head is far from what my experience in reality has been with blogging. I have difficulty finding my groove for what to blog about. That sweet balance where I am vulnerable enough so my audience can relate to me as another human, and professional enough that those who are coming to the page for my work will find what they’re looking for… and what I ultimately hope for, is that those who come to my page for my work choose to work with me because of the human they get connected to through my posts. This has been challenging for me to attain. Sometimes, I let it stop me from writing altogether and I go months without publishing a post.

What I want is to create and grow a community. Apart from beautiful images, I want to share and dialogue about being a parent, being an artist, being an entrepreneur, being mindful, being human, sharing what I love and what matters to me, and hopefully it all somehow contributes to the community. Having been brought up in an Asian home, “doing things right” is something that has been ingrained in me and sometimes, it gets in the way of me taking action when I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing and figuring it out as I go. I’m giving that up and will be figuring it out as I go with my blog posts.

I know a few people that do this well. One of them is my friend Robert O’Brien, author of Just One More Drive. I admire his discipline in churning out posts weekly. He writes vulnerably, wittily, and with humour… and seemingly effortlessly, it all ties into being an author for a book about a true story of a stuttering homosexual and his race car. I’m dedicating this first post of 2018 to Rob, with the intention to write more consistently this year.

Inspired by the vulnerability of his posts, I want to share about how insecure I can still get about my photography even years into it. Late last year, Rob asked me if I could take photos at his book launch. It was going to be at XY club and although I’ve never been there, I knew clubs are generally dark. I usually shoot outdoors or in a studio. This was going to be something where I’ll be a little out of my element, without the equipment or the crew to properly light and shoot an event in a potentially dark space. I started to panic.

I knew how big of a deal this was for him, this was a dream come true… with a lot of blood, sweat and tears invested into it, his and others’. I had such a resistance to accepting his request. Still, I said yes. This man had been an inspiration to me, it was an honour and a privilege to support him and be a part of what he was creating.

When I took the first few shots and got feedback from the back of my camera that everything was going to be just fine, I relaxed. Then, I realized why I had such a resistance to agreeing to do this… it wasn’t so much about me moving away from doing unpaid work, the real issue was my own conversation of “not being good enough” and I was worried about botching it all up for him on such an important day. And guess what? It was more than ok. The launch went well, I captured the spirit of the event, the images came out great and Rob loved them, despite that I lit them with an iPhone flashlight… a trick I learned from a food blogger who I sat across at a wedding a few years ago. 

To read about the book launch, click here

In sharing this, I hope to inspire even just one person to take a chance on themselves and dare to act in spite of fear.

Today, we took Maddi out of school early to go to the pumpkin patch! Here are some photos from our time at The Pumpkin Patch at Richmond Country Farms.

Maddi’s outfit by Redfish Kids