• I love capturing that moment.
    That moment when fleeting light attaches itself to an object in a magical way.
    That moment when surprise turns to tears or smiles turn to laughter.
    That moment when you feel you have the world in the palm of your hand.
    That moment when you realize you don’t.
    That moment when you delight in your youthful
    spirit no matter what age you are.

  • It might be a moment I’ve intently planned and
    choreographed or one that I stumble upon as it
    unfolds in front of me. It can be when I am surrounded
    by a world of people or when I am alone with my
    thoughts and wandering camera in hand. I love seeing
    those moments through my lens and hearing the shutter click.

    In that moment I know I have captured something wonderful.

  • LET’S GET SOCIAL!

The O’Neill family are new transplants to our great state of Texas. Moving down from Chicago to work for the Astros organization they certainly have found a different climate and speed of life. We decided to meet up in Houston’s Discovery Green, just blocks away from the Astros Minute Maid park, to have some family fun in this little gem of green space. We wandered around the whole Discovery Green, in between a yoga class and a Margarita fest, and explored all the hidden spaces and art displays. 

It was perfect for this family of six with 4 active little ones. They could climb and run and then stop for cuddles and smiles every now and again. They were all so easy going and up for our explorations, it was just pure fun! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m one of those people who when I find something I love I talk about it to everyone. It could be anything from my Dyson DC-Slim vacuum to my business card holder to my pool company. I can’t help myself. If something has made my life cleaner, easier, prettier or just more amusing–I feel compelled to share it. I don’t go around loving everything though. I’m not that easy. There’s a certain recipe that has to be cooking with ingredients like quality, price and creativity before I show the love. And when it comes to businesses there is a fourth ingredient that I’ll call the “the special sauce”.

Most businesses go about their work and meet your expectations. You get what you pay for and carry on. But some companies go that extra step and leave you with that “ahhhh” feeling.  They’ve got “the special sauce”.  With this whole recipe theme going, I thought I would share one of my favorite local businesses with you–a cake business. As I said, I can’t help myself.

Rita Marra, of Rita’s Cakes, is a really sweet lady. (I think she is made of buttercream icing;) She has been running her business here in The Woodlands since 2010 when her family moved here from Georgia. I spent a cozy morning with her drinking coffee, watching her decorate a chocolate chip “Pink Day” cake and getting the scoop about her business.

Rita is a self-taught cake maker and started out making cakes using the Wilton Books. She soon found inspiration on the internet through other cake makers and spends lots of time researching ideas for clients. Aside from theme cupcakes or cookies, she doesn’t do mass production. She makes one-of-a-kind creations specific to your party theme. 

 Buttercream frosting…yum!
Sprinkling on the “fairy dust”


Rita separates herself from the average cake maker in many ways, with one of them being her carving abilities. Not every cake maker will tackle carving 3 dimensional cakes. She also makes almost all of her marshmallow fondant and I can attest that it’s wonderful. She tells me that she has her family and neighbors taste test all her new flavors and combinations to perfect the moisture and taste. Too bad I don’t live next door…but, I have had the pleasure of having several of Rita’s delicious cakes at some of my parties and she knocked it out of the ball park every time. 

My son’s Pokemon cake                        Cake for The Royal Wedding Reception
My 40th birthday cake–a ’57 Chevy Bel Air

Rita makes sweets for clients in The Woodlands and Houston area. She finds that her busiest times are April/May when she is creating lots of First Communion and Graduation cakes and then again around the holidays when she gets busy with cakes for Thanksgiving and Christmas parties. She’s seen a trend with lots of orders from Realtors and Insurance companies who order customized client gifts of cake pops or cookies. 

She stressed to me that custom cakes require lead time to prepare, so call her early to get on her schedule. The more intricate the design, the more time she will need to plan. Her list of flavors and combinations is long and delicious and her creativity in bringing your party theme to life is amazing. Think of it as an edible present to yourself. Make sure to keep Rita’s Cakes in mind for your next celebration. 

Phone: 678-982-5169, Email: marrafam@aol.com

My favorite cake is Rita’s chocolate chip cake but don’t ever leave out the chocolate ganache. Add it to anything you order and you won’t be sorry! I’ll leave you with a few pictures that Rita supplied of past creations. 




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I’ve joined in on a fun little deal with the Mamarazzi of The Woodlands group where we post a blog limited to 10 pictures on the 10th of every month. You’ll find the link to the next photographer’s blog at the bottom. 

This month has no theme, so when I was trying to decide what to post I delved into my “Artsy Fartsy” file to see what I had. This is a file I store on my desktop of fun and weird pictures I take just to try new techniques or to capture something unusual. A lot of what is in this file never sees the light of Lightroom…a little photography humor…because I didn’t nail the technique or I lose interest in the subject matter so it’s not worth processing the images. Today though, I did find some “gems” to share (last attempt at comedy, I swear).

I took these pictures on our most recent visit to the Houston Museum of Natural Science. They have a permanent exhibit in the Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals showcasing over 450 specimens. I love this exhibit for two reasons. Firstly, I love jewelry and the exhibit holds many exquisite examples of custom-made jewelry using very rare cut gemstones. Secondly, the uncut gems and minerals are pieces of art themselves, beautifully lit up and just asking to be photographed. Gorgeous, immovable objects; how hard can they be to capture with your camera? Well, let’s just say, kinda sorta hard. If you want to be spared the photography breakdown, just scroll below for the pretty images. I won’t judge you;)

There are several factors that made taking these pictures difficult:

  1. The exhibit is in total darkness except for the fiber optic lights inside the individual glass display cases which light the minerals and gems. 
  2. As I just said, each mineral or gem is inside a glass case. Take a moment to consider how many finger prints and nose smudges the exhibit cleaning crew must remove on a daily basis! 
  3. Using a flash is not an option as it would blast light off of the glass displays and crystals themselves leaving unsightly hotspots in the images. 
  4. The minerals are not naturally symmetrical or compact so obtaining focus of all the delicate features is difficult. 
  5. The displays are fairly small (3×3 ft) and there are lots of museum guests crowded around each one at any given time. 
Let me also mention that the museum security guards were following me like hawks. I probably triggered some alert since I was pretty much the only person taking pictures of every display at all different angles. They must have thought I was planning a heist. 

 Anyway, I compensated as best I could for the aforementioned challenges by using a high ISO, a large aperature and trying to find exhibits with clean glass, good angles and no people.  I remember when I was taking the pictures that they were still pretty dark even at ISO 4000 but I just kept shooting and figured the images would make their way to my “Artsy Fartsy” file. 
 
In Lightroom I was able to bring more light into the images with the Exposure and Fill Light options. It was a treat to see the gems open up as I adjusted the lighting. In the end, I think the images turned out pretty good. It was definitely a nice challenge for my camera’s sensitivity and my steadiness at slow shutter speeds in basic darkness.  
 
All images taken with Canon 5D Mark II, ISO 4000, 50 mm lens, f8.0, 1/60 
Now go check the next member of our 10 on 10 blog group to see some of her beautiful Senior Portraits. Click here!

 

 

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I have been fortunate to see some of my clients year after year and sometimes throughout the year for mini-sessions. It gives me a chance to see these little kiddos grow physically and see their personalities blossom and evolve. I’ve known the Haas family since we first moved to Texas and we’ve had all types of portrait sessions. For a little back to school fun we thought we’d meet at a park and just let the boys do what they do best, be boys. Mom dressed the boys in neutral colors and it looked great against the natural foliage and playground equipment. I can’t really decide if I prefer the color or black and white images. The black and white photos seem to really make you hone in on the boys faces.

I will always remember this session as the worst mosquito onslaught ever experienced. We were prepared and completely sprayed head to toe with bug spray but the bugs were relentless. The boys were awesome troopers through it though–just look at those smiles!

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A little behind the scenes: My “assistant” for the shoot helped me keep the Haas boys focused during the session as we moved around the park. Of course, when it comes to your help, what they say is true, “you get what you pay for”. 



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I am getting a well needed dose of sweet 2 year olds these days. I met Gracie and her parents on a sunny Saturday morning at one of her favorite spots. I was told that Gracie loves to come and run around near the pond so I thought it was the perfect spot to capture her smiles. And yes, she does love to RUN around the pond. I quickly realized that I needed to change my 50mm lens to my 70-200mm so that I didn’t have to keep up with her! She was a great sport whenever we tried to have her stop and check something out but she certainly had on her explorer’s cap. It was a lovely morning and Miss Gracie looked cute as a button in her navy blue dress. She had a really sweet way about running far ahead and then stopping to look back. It looks like a model pose but she did it all herself. The bow, the blond hair, the blue eyes and all that pretty greenery added up to some beautiful portraits.

 

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