I met with John and Kate-Lyn recently to discuss their wedding next year – and they were eager to capture the beautiful Fall we’re having for their engagement session. A few days later we met at a gorgeous apple orchard on the most perfect Autumn day to celebrate their engagement!

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Celebrating life and love,


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October 20, 2015 JJ’s Family

Had so much fun documenting Chris, Lexie and JJ again! It has been so fun to watch this family grow – from when I first document Chris and Lexie’s engagement and wedding to their sweet family today! I love the age JJ is at with her sense of wonder and wanting to explore. A great afternoon!

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Celebrating life and love,


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Many years ago, I knew Melissa as a young, shy junior high student – today she’s an absolutely gorgeous bride-to-be. It was great to catch up with her again and to meet her fiancee Jay. They are a great couple – and I can’t wait to document their wedding next year!

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Celebrating life and love,


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September 28, 2015 David and Michelle

David and Michelle’s wedding was set at the beautiful David’s in Port Dover overlooking Lake Erie. The day started with rain, strong winds and a black sky – eeks! But after the ceremony, the skies cleared and we had a beautiful evening outdoors! A great celebration of a sweet couple – and their adorable daughter Olivia too!

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Celebrating life and love,


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jefferson%20journey zpswuhchnuu Jefferson Journey: Inspired

This past summer my girls and I did a 12,000km road trip all across the United States with people joining us along the way (my husband, my mom and my dad). I’ll be sharing about our trip over time here – to follow it you can search the “Jefferson Journey” category!


I’ve been asked “why” we did this big road trip and spend time & money travelling.

There are so many reasons – travel is something that is so important to me personally and something we try to share with our kids. I was fortunate to grow up travelling since my dad is a pilot and my parents encouraged exploring. Mark is one of 11 kids so he was not able to do much travelling – and saw the ocean for the first time when we were on our honeymoon! When we were first married, Mark and I would take a trip each year (enjoying the perks of my dad’s airline discount) and we both got the travel bug. We enjoyed traveling through America’s southwest (which inspired this current trip), Europe and Australia. Each trip inspired us, stretched us and left us wanting more.

When we travel – we have never stayed at the fanciest hotels and ate at the best restaurants. We more often are sleeping in cars, above pubs or in a tent. Our food is usually cooked on the beach or a packed picnic rather than off a menu. We see as much as we can, try to see how the locals love, and soak it all in.

And so we’ve raised our kids the same way. We haven’t changed how we travel since we have kids – we still sleep in cars and in tents and cook on the beach. But more importantly – we still try to soak it all in.

And that’s what we aimed to do on this trip. Soak it in. Experience new sights. See how the geography changes. How people are the same and yet so different all across our world.

I also had one other goal on this trip. Our girls both love art. Eden dreams of becoming an artist one day. They spend hours of sitting at the kitchen table drawing. Designing. Creating. And so we wanted to show them also art across the country. How art can be a million different things. And so I researched different artistic pieces to visit on this trip – and it opened up lots of discussion. What makes something art? Some of the art we visited was intricate, difficult pieces to design – and some could look simply like piles of second hand treasures. How can both be considered art? Why create? Lots to think about – fortunately we had thousands of miles to chat about it…

Here’s some quotes from around our visits that inspired us…

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Here are a few of the places we visited, a couple of them I’ll post more about later as I’d like to take more time with sharing them!

The first day we stopped at the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, Michigan. It’s a city block in the third most dangerous neighbourhood in the USA being transformed by art. I’ll share more about this later!

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The second day we stopped at a sculpture park in Des Moines, Iowa. It was pouring rain and miserable out – but it was fun to be the only ones there as we wandered through the sculptures and picked out our favourites.

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In California, I was out with friends one night and we went into Beverly Hills. As we were driving I spotted a familiar looking sculpture in a park.

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Before we left California, we headed south to Salvation Mountain. This too I’ll blog more about later – such a fun place to visit. Despite it being about ten gazillion degrees outside.

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Then we went into Texas to a place Eden has been wanting to see since she read about it in Kid’s National Geographic. Cadillac Ranch was such a fun place to stop – I’ll blog about that too later!

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I’ll leave you with this one question… Are you inspired?

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Celebrating life and love,


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jefferson%20journey zpswuhchnuu Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips

This past summer my girls and I did a 12,000km road trip all across the United States with people joining us along the way (my husband, my mom and my dad). I’ll be sharing about our trip over time here – to follow it you can search the “Jefferson Journey” category!


So, I have been wanting to blog about our trip this past summer – but haven’t had the chance yet. I figured I just need to start! The first thing I thought I’d write about is some travel tips as I’ve been asked lots of questions! If you don’t know – the girls and I did a 12,000km road trip this summer across the United States. We camped along the way – and had my husband, my mom and then my dad join us a different places along the route!

The number one question I get asked is “how did you know where all to travel to?

Research. I probably spent double (or triple) the time planning the trip than I did driving on this trip. Our first destination we knew was the Grand Canyon. So we would put that into Google Maps. You can see there are two routes there the same length of time to travel – so we decided to do one each way. Then we would start to break the drive into bite size pieces. I figured 8-9 hours a day would be about our maximum to drive in a day as it was usually just me as the only driver. Didn’t want to get too tired. So I would look on a map for a good place to stop, and then for something interesting to do each day. Lots of googling. Researching. Searching. And then some more googling.

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I would then print out our plan for each day – the map and step by step directions (just in case the GPS konked out) to our “fun stop” that day and to where there were some campground options. Now, this went out the window day one when we hit a traffic jam and got way behind schedule and had to stop before we had planned. You definitely have to be flexible!! I probably changed our route 100 times before we left as I kept finding something else I’d like to see. We definitely couldn’t see everything so had to weigh our options and pick the best. Hard to do!

Because we didn’t have a set end destination (everywhere was our destination!) – where we were going to that day became our goal. Instead of thinking – only 40 more driving hours to go! We could look at the fact we only had three hours until we stopped at our first interesting pit stop – and then four hours after that to go to camping. Bite size pieces.

Some packing tips…

We bought dry erase markers – the girls can then write on the windows with these and just wipe them off! Some things we used them for…

-keeping score of random games we played
-practicing math (clearly my idea not theirs)
-x’s and o’s
-memorizing verses (writing them out)
-and random doodles!

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We also brought those small suction cup soap holders for inside the shower from the dollar store. Each girl had one on her window – and this was a great place for putting the dry erase markers, sunglasses, phones, etc.
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A few campgrounds we stayed at did not have showers and were more primitive. I’d highly suggest dry shampoo to avoid the greasy hair look! And while on this topic – baby wipes are divine when there’s no showers available.

A blue tooth speaker was one of our favourite items with us. We love listening to audio books and music while we drive – the blue tooth speaker allowed us to listen easily.

We wanted to keep camping simple – did not want to be blowing up air mattresses each stop, but also did not want to be sleeping on the ground! We bought these spongey floor mats that lock together. They would cover the floor of the tent – leaving just a small space without them at the door of the tent for our shoes and such. No rolling off your mattress or blowing up air mattresses. Worked for us! And kids had fun putting it together in a different pattern each night!

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I did not want to get into a big clunky stove and such – so we brought our Coleman one burner to cook on. It’s surprising how much you can cook on this little thing! And being so small – we could use it at rest stops, parking lots or even on the beach – very easily!

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We were living out of the car so everything packed had to be minimal – we even left our pillows at home and just brought pillow cases that we could stuff with our sweatshirts and such!

Speaking of minimal packing – a few things we overpacked on…

Books. I know – I am usually of the philosophy you can never have too many books but in this case… we did. Madi narrowed down her first packing list of 23 books down to about a dozen. But she still did not get through all her books – I think next time we’ll go back to our kobos (even though we all prefer paper books). Or allow them 1-2 books and agree to buy a new one once they are completed as a reward.

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We also packed too many clothes – as much as I travel, I’m a terrible packer! I knew we were going to have hot weather as well as cooler weather. Need shoes for hiking and also for the beach. And so we needed a variety of clothes. But we did not need a wide selection of each item! I’d pack less next time and do more laundry!

I had printed off a ton of fun car games and activities. An activity/info sheet for each state. Car bingo and other car games. And so on. I had tons and tons of options for the kids. Honestly? Most went untouched!!

Some car rules…

We have done a few road trips with the kids now (across Canada, out to the east coast a few times, around Iceland, etc.) and our number one rule is – if someone needs to stop and use the washroom we ALL use the washroom. Even if you don’t think you need to. Because without fail – you will need to as soon as we get back on the highway!

We have always had a no electronics rule on our road trips. No watching DVDs or playing video games. The trip is about the journey not just the destination – so look out the window! The girls were allowed to bring their ipod for photos and music though. And another rule we have is music is for us all to hear – no plugging in earphones and tuning the family out. They’ve grown up with these rules so they’re fine with them!

We started our day with a bit of a routine… we would read a Psalm, pray for safety and then listen to “my” music. I was the only adult for much of the trip and had to keep my sanity in tact. If the day started on a poor foot – the rest of the day was a mess too!

Likewise, there was a no audio book until I’m on the highway rule. I find the excess noise of a narrator and characters while I’m trying to navigate city streets in a foreign place a little overwhelming! Until the car was on the highway and things were going along smoothly – no audio books!

I am a Diet Coke fanatic – but we had a “water only” rule for drinking on this trip. Was hard to do – but felt so much better!

Each spot in the car had it’s role – front seat passenger had to help with navigating maps and GPS. Back seat passenger had to hand out the food and drinks from the cooler. Likewise, at our campgrounds everyone had a role. I’d make supper and get things organized while Madi would set up the tent and Eden would lay out the mats in the tent and sleeping bags. This made things go so much smoother!

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Oh! And a super helpful tip from my dad! If you are a Canadian driving through the States you know that it’s such a pain when they ask for your “zip code” at the gas pump because we don’t have one! I use to use “90210″ as my zip code because it was the only one I knew. icon smile Jefferson Journey: Travel Tips Now that doesn’t work anymore. The secret is… take your postal code, remove just the letters (you’ll have 3 numbers remaining) and add “00″ to the end. Works like a charm! For example – my postal code growing up was P7C 4T9 – so I’d enter 74900 as my zip code! No more having to go into the gas station to prepay because I don’t have a zip code to use at the pump!

Now that you have a glimpse into the “how” of the trip… we can start the fun of reliving it over the next few blog posts!

Celebrating life and love,


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September 16, 2015 Burtis Family

This family is extra special to me as they are good friends of mine. We got up realllllly early to catch the beautiful morning light one morning – so worth it! Loved documenting this family – and their new addition Millie!

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Celebrating Life and Love,


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September 15, 2015 TIFF weekend to remember

Apparently I’ve become one of “those” people.

We all have friends who’s birthdays stretch for a week. A month. Or in my case… six months.

Now, since my work in Africa I’ve come to realize that aging is a luxury many are not granted – so I have lost all embarrassment at telling people my age. This year in December I will turn 40.

I also got over the fact that society tells me I’m suppose to lie about my age when my friends and family threw me a surprise “Half Birthday” party in June! No hiding my age now!

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This past weekend, my sister gave me my birthday gift early… tickets to TIFF! TIFF is also celebrating it’s 40th year – and everywhere we went at TIFF was “Happy 40th” or “40″ signs… naturally, we assumed they were all for me. So thoughtful. (On a side note – even if I’m not embarrassed about my age… maybe I should be by the fact I seem to have only one outfit looking at this pic below and the one above).

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I’ve had lots of friends asking what exactly TIFF is – so thought I’d try to explain and share a bit about our time there!

TIFF – or Toronto International Film Festival – has close to 400 films shown and debuts many major films for the first time. There are different types of screenings – Premieres (where the film is shown for the first time ever and the director and cast is usually on hand) right on down to small outdoor screens. This article from People Magazine explains TIFF well – LINK

Our first film was Friday night – since we were going in against rush hour, we take the train. The rest of the time we drove. Always fun to go into the city for a change of scenery. The whole area of TIFF has an energy and festival feel to it! The streets are closed and there are vendors and music and free giveaways and pop up shops galore! It rained pretty much the whole weekend – but that didn’t dampen our fun! The last photo shows us in the Andy Warhol photo booth – with our rainy frizzy hair and still laughing!

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All of our films were at Roy Thompson Hall – amazing venue. Our first film was “Eye in the Sky” with Helen Mirren. We knew the least about this one, and so were a little less excited about it. We knew it was a war movie – which could mean blood and gore (yuck) and that it was set in Nairobi, Kenya. We liked that fact as my sister, Marcie and I had been to Nairobi together just a few months ago. Because it was a Premiere, the director and a couple of the cast came out ahead of time and shared about the film. The director, Gavin Hood, shared how a film of his a few years before had been awarded the “People’s Choice” award at TIFF – and how it changed his life. Suddenly people took notice, he gained distributors for the film and was able to go on and make other films. He was really emotional sharing about it – so naturally I got choked up. Dame Helen Mirren is sheer grace and beauty. And Barkhad Abdi had us all laughing with his “let’s get going!” as they were anxious to watch the film. Mirren had refused to watch it earlier as “how would she know what parts she likes?” without an audience’s reactions.

This film was excellent – a perfect blend of humour along with the harsh reality of modern day war. The real debate was what the value was of one life… it was powerful. I was quick to place my vote for this one for people’s choice – amazing film I’d totally recommend!

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After our film, was the Premiere of the Martian. We had tickets for it the next day – but wanted to see if we could catch a glimpse of the cast. One thing I do want to stress – is Marcie and I both love our celebrities and Hollywood gossip.. .but we do not love the idea of “hunting” celebrities. We both felt when they walk the red carpet – that’s part of their job in doing their promotions. But we did not want to stalk them outside of their hotels, restaurants and parties like we saw being done. Many people stood for hours and hours to catch a glimpse of stars – we would simply go and maybe be wayyyy down the line and not a direct view, but our sanity was still in tact! And as you’ll see at the bottom of this post – still paid off for a great photo op! icon smile TIFF weekend to remember

So, after our film Friday we went over o the red carpet and were able to catch Matt Damon, Sebastian Stan (“Bucky” from the Marvel movies) and Jessica Chastain – both excellent in the Martian. Another GREAT movie. Set on Mars, and Matt Damon is left behind presumed dead… but later they find out he’s alive. Decisions have to be made to go back for him or not. Again the question of the value of just one life. Could not imagine anyone but Matt Damon in this role. It was nice how they all waved at me directly. They must have known it’s my 40th.

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The next morning we went back in, and watched the Martian (which I mentioned above). And then we saw “Miss You Already” with Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. This was the one I expected to like the most – a chick flick about two besties. Probably my least favourite of all the movies. Still good – but not as powerful as the others. But that’s okay – I got to see Drew who I love! I really think we’d be BFF’s and I like to pretend in this first photo it’s her surprised face when she sees me there. Sort of how she reacted when she saw Toni on the red carpet after her. They went running to each other hugging and squealing like she wanted to do with me. And Toni – incredible actress and so, so stunning. Her hair and her yellow skirt – wow! They were exactly how you’d expect them to be when they spoke about their film. Toni was witty and articulate – Drew gushed and was sugar sweet. Toni explained that this was like giving birth to the film so all of us watching were the film’s doulas. ha ha.

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Then that was suppose to be it… but we had entered some contests where you post a selfie and use a certain hashtag. In this case it was for L’Oreal. Well – what a surprise when I got a comment on instagram that I had won tickets and to come pick them up! When we went to pick them up they took us up to their VIP lounge overlooking the red carpet (super cool)… and then let us choose our tickets. We decided to come back the very next day! And the tickets were also for a Premiere. That meant we would have 4 tickets on opening weekend – and 3 of the 4 were world premieres! We kept saying – I think we won the TIFF lottery! Never get such great tickets – it’s so tough to get tickets at all! And for all of the premieres we got seats on the main floor centre. Score again!

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Sunday we went back for one last show – first day that was not raining. Still chilly though!

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We were watching “Freeheld” with Ellen Page and Julianne Moore. Two actresses I love! It is a true story about a same sex couple, where one partner is a longtime police officer who is dying from cancer and wants to pass her pension on to her partner. It was the legal battle that went along with that struggle. Julianne Moore absolutely deserves an Oscar for her role (has any actress won back to back? She won last year too!). Ellen Page is adorable in it too. It was powerful to have the real people the story is about there also. The cast – especially Julianne Moore – constantly directed all the applause to them. Michael Shannon was a giant compared to Ellen – loved when he pointed down at her as one of the movie’s producers. She’s soooo tiny! When a Premiere ends, the cast will stand in the front row of the balcony to applause and usually a standing ovation. It was clear that at the end of the movie Ellen and Julianne had been crying and moved by the film as they stood to applause – and again they directed our attention over to the real people the story was about.

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Julianne hugging the real life woman the story is about who’s partner Julianne played in the movie.

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I have decided walking the red carpet would be the wost experience ever. Everyone reaching for you, screaming your name, and photos! photos! photos! Argh!

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And now for the story everyone has been asking me about!

Friday night as soon as we got there we wandered around – and saw people lining up along a red carpet. We asked who was expected – and everyone said “Sandra Bullock”. We thought it’d be fun to see her but had to get to the movie we had tickets for. We let ourselves stay for about ten minutes before we had to leave. We were wayyyy down the line along the red carpet so didn’t expect any interaction – but may get a photo of them getting out of their car. The road is closed off – but the police would let through the star’s SUV’s. Each time an SUV pulled up the crowd would speculate who was in it. The windows are so tinted you have no idea until they open the door! Well no one was expecting George Clooney to get out – he is a producer for Sandra’s new movie but no one knew that. He got out and all you could hear was people yelling “it’s George!” all through the crowds. And then, he came down the entire line of people waiting alongside the red carpet – right down to where we were way at the end. Talking to everyone and super friendly. These photos were with my 50mm lens – no zoom, he was right there!

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When he got to us, I realized I wouldn’t have time to get a good picture with my “real” camera so I put it away and had my iPhone right ready and set for a selfie. He came up and said “how’s everyone doing? Is everyone okay?” Just friendly and fun… and that voice! I asked if we could grab a quick photo with him – when he said yes, I had my camera ready to go. He said “Wow! – you know how to take photos! You’ve got skills!” Little did he know I’m actually a photographer… ha ha! Marcie said I should put that quote on my website. Hilarious.

And here it is…

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And that was how we kicked off our weekend at TIFF! Everywhere we went people would talk about who they saw – when we told them we even got a photo with George Clooney – they’d high five us and get excited. One woman in line asked if she could share it on her facebook page! ha ha. Love people’s enthusiasm!

Such a fun weekend! Great gift – thanks Marcie!!

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Celebrating life and love,



September 10, 2015 Jacob Moon

Jacob and I have known each other for about twenty years now. It’s been fun to photograph his family over the years – but last week was Jacob’s turn on his own! Jacob is an extremely talented musician (you can check if he’ll be on tour in your area HERE ) and it was time for new promo photos! We wandered around downtown Hamilton and enjoyed catching up while capturing his new images!

And since today is Jacob’s birthday (happy birthday!) – my gift to him is I finished editing his pictures. icon smile Jacob Moon Enjoy!

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Celebrating life and love,


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September 2, 2015 Ryan & Jackie’s Family

I’ve been getting to know Jackie over the last year – and she is so much fun! Love her sense of humour – and her love for her three boys (her husband Ryan and their sons Owen and Luke). It was great to go out to their beautiful home and property to document this sweet family… and my first time taking “hunting” photos! icon smile Ryan & Jackies Family

I was ready to move into this beautiful workshop/garage that Ryan designed and built. Wow!

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And we have to end with some time for just mom and dad!

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Celebrating life and love,


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