Make My Book and Capture Memories Forever

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it is easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

I confess that gift giving is hard for me.


It’s not that I don’t have the spirit, and it’s not that I don’t have the heart in it, but the problem is I need gifts to be too perfect. And since I’m more of a big picture girl, instead of being able to see and and carry out tasks in small, manageable chunks, I tend to get overwhelmed and paralyzed by Gift Giving Fear. Sometimes? I give something that doesn’t match my heart and thoughts. Sometimes? I give up completely. NOT good! I want to be someone who wears her heart on her sleeve.

And I want my gifts to reflect that.

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it's easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

As many of you know, my life travel dream was to go to Alaska. Cassidy and I went there on a belated honeymoon in August. We had never had a honeymoon because of money and timing and having Scarlet fairly soon after we were married. This was my ultimate travel dream – my ultimate adventure. Although there were rocky times and overcast weather, the memories are still so strong. I hope they always remain that way. And if they don’t, we have the option to make beautiful photo books.

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it's easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

The Make My Book Service (for $9.99) at Shutterfly is affordable and so easy to use!

Looking for a perfect gift for ANY occasion? #Shutterfly has the Make My Book Service and it's easy, time-effective, and gorgeous for your #photography. #ad

This is THE solution you’re looking for – to think of the perfect gift for loved ones, and to get gorgeous photo books designed and created with ease at your own computer. When I used to shoot film, I’d keep my photos in boxes and albums.

These days, custom photo books are the perfect gift.

This year for Valentine’s Day, I made Cassidy a custom photo book of highlights from our trip to Alaska. I want our kids to see what we did and to dream about their own adventures – perhaps even taking such dreamy adventures WITH us someday.

The book arrived – so beautiful and well-printed. You KNOW I notice this stuff after 15 years as a photographer.

What do you think he thinks as he looks at this book?

I think he sees adventure and love. And a whole lot of living.

I feel so lucky to have this book, but also to have found the perfect gift for loved ones! It’s easy, customizable, meaningful, and a good gift for ANYONE, including yourself. That’s right – you can make yourself a photo book easily! This is big. This is the best way to capture memories, and I know not everyone chose photography as a career like I have, but everyone has photos they love. Everyone has occasions to celebrate and remember. What photos will you choose? What will your story say?

The Make My Book service is so important to me because it saves a ton of time. I am not as tech-savvy as you might believe, and the designer service is easy and rewarding. The service is $9.99 and it’s worth every penny. That price is not the price for the book itself. I can’t say enough how much this has enriched my life, and the lives of my photography clients.

Have you been thinking of getting photo books beautifully designed just for you? Let Shutterfly help you choose your photos and help you design your book. Check out the Make My Book Service and see what it can do for you!

How I Honeymooned Your Father, Part XVII: Last Song

If you’re just tuning in to our Alaska adventures, here are the links to Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV, Part XV, and Part XVI. Where did we leave off last? Oh, boy! Talkeetna! We spent 24 hours there, making lemonade out of lemons, by ziplining after our Denali Flight Tour dreams were all squashed by the weather. We had a locals’ dinner, a tourists’ dessert, and then went looking fruitlessly for moose, but fruitfully for adventure – like abandoned earth stations and tales of severed moose heads. Sometimes I have something so deep-rooted and burrowed that I want to say, but I don’t know how to say it. I’ll let Eddie Money say it, but pretend it’s me.

I may not have his obvious charisma, but this is about more than Talkeetna. It’s the whole thing. It’s the whole life. It’s dreams and magic and little girl wishes. There’s nothing I can say to make you understand, but it’s ok. I imagine you get it anyway. It’s about that hollowed out feeling from things beginning and ending. And how every ending is a beginning, and every beginning is an ending. It’s about how nothing is ever as it seems, or how you imagined it when you wanted it for SO LONG. That’s ok, too. Sometimes the reality is even better. Achier. Breakier. Heartier. It has grooves & heights. Peaks & dips.


It can knock you off your feet, and make you lightheaded and dizzy.

Now bear with me, because this post could easily be two posts, as it is two or more stories, and I’m even adding two songs for you. We woke up on our last day at Grace and Bill’s Freedom Hills B&B and went to the main house for breakfast. It was awesome to sit with other guests and talk about Alaska land, Denali, and bull moose. There was spotty WiFi but I remember taking a shower and then making a video for work out there in the wilderness. I was even wearing a lumberjack shirt. During checkout, Bill suggested we go back to Anchorage through Hatcher Pass, therefore bypassing Wasilla – easily the ONE place in Alaska I wasn’t completely captivated by – but we were only on the main road once. I’m certain there’s beauty there.

Hatcher Pass wasn’t shabby, though! It was an old road for the gold miners! So cool! #TheMoreYouKnow

It was foggy and drizzly, with cold wind gusts. We went to check out a lodge on a mountain out there – boasting warm soup and awesome views – but it was closed! I didn’t take a lot of photos, other than the ones above. It was hard conditions for it and I was tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes the world is almost too beautiful? Magical and barely touched – like a watercolor. It was like that, but also cold, rainy, and windy. I was numbed over because of all the beauty and emotions.

I wouldn’t kick this view out of bed:

Our flight was a red-eye, so we had the whole day to explore. We headed to Anchorage – and had dinner plans later with Erika and Steve. Remember them from the beginning of the story? They’re our family and they had given us our first moose, first soup, and first warm bed in Alaska nine days previously. It was probably around late afternoon now, and I had to tackle Anchorage’s WiFi for a blog post first. Yes, even on vacation, but it was only one or two! So I went to a McDonald’s while Cassidy decided to go back to Eagle River to explore the visitors center. Well, while I smelled french fries I didn’t ever intend to eat, he was seeing what he thought might be his last moose of Alaska. We all know smartphones don’t zoom in so well:

Holy cow, though! Not cow. Holy bull! He did a solo hike and saw his second bull moose of all time on a secluded bog. In Alaska. MAN. And it was his favorite moose encounter of the whole trip, and maybe of forever, although we saw our first moose in the wild together in 2004. She might have favorites rights for all time? I don’t know, though. What makes me happy is that Cassidy’s favorite moose encounter actually became his SECOND favorite. That’s right. With only a few hours to spare left before our flight, we somehow topped that together. He picked me up from the dreadfully WiFi-ed McDonald’s and we went back to Powerline Pass. We weren’t there long, because of dinner reservations, but can we say worth it?

Worth it.

Then we rounded a bend, with minutes to spare, and Cassidy said, “Oh, hello!” There was our last bull moose of the trip!

That looks close, right? It was. I was balking a bit, and I went to warn two incoming runners about the moose so they’d change their course. They saw the look on my face and said, “Don’t worry! Anchorage moose are different from the ones outside the city. They have more tolerance for people coming close to them.” That does NOT mean I recommend getting close.

He looked at us curiously, but mostly minded his own business. I had the luxury of distance, although this is NOT my zoom lens. This is just a 50mm. My rented zoom was already packed in my suitcase, and ready to be checked at the airport.

I had to go black and white for at least one!

Oh my. Well that’s it for moose! We made it to our dinner reservation just on time, and guess what I ordered? That’s right. Salmon. We showed Erika and Steve all of Cassidy’s pictures and told our stories in chronological order. Then, the airport:

I took that same photo on our first day there – after landing at night – and I felt like I had grown so much in nine days. The things I had seen, and not seen. The things I had done, and not done. I felt like something inside me had been sleeping.

We boarded the plane and had someone sitting in between us, which seemed fitting. It was dark and I leaned my head on the cold window, thinking of everything I wish. I wish I had taken more photos. I wish I could break through a shutdown. I wish I could do it all over. I wish I could feel it all over. I wish I could feel.. in general.. when sometimes I can’t touch that raw part of myself. It’s frozen over. Our plane’s satellite radio kept playing one song, and these days, I can’t listen to the song much.

Whenever I take a deep, altering trip, there’s always one song that makes me think of it the most. It’s almost a treat to revisit it in small doses, and reopen the heart and sound waves – to let it all come back rushing towards and through me.

I’m back there now. I’m forever there, in the middle of dreams dying and coming alive. Ending and beginning. They all meet in the middle. I’ll never forget that silent and endless night in the sky – and the brightness I found on the other side.

It was always leading me here:

*Endnote – my mother-in-law took that picture, bringing our kids to meet us in the middle of a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA, after ten days apart. The photo is 100% candid – showing our sleeplessness, sweat, tears, and LOVE. Thank you for reading.