Momma Told Me: 2011

Blog Archive

High School Senior Portrait 101 for Parents: Momma's Tips

To begin with; there is a great deal of confusion regarding High School Senior Pictures. Hopefully; I can clear this up for you. Are “Senior Pictures” the same as “Senior Portraits”? Well, not exactly…..

The quick and easy explanation is that the High School Picture is what, most often, ends up in the Yearbook. That picture is only there to show what you “look like”. Where; on the other hand (when done correctly) your Senior Portraits are a creative, unique and clear representation of “who you are”.

More often than not; the Yearbook picture is taken by a photographer that works directly with your school (this is called a “contract photographer”). Sometimes; the photographer comes directly to your school and takes your picture. Other times; they will have you go to their studio to get this done. In either case; you will, most likely, be placed in front of a background and photographed.

You should be aware that; anything more than the (initial head shot) is, purely, for the benefit of the photographer & studio. FYI: After the “obligatory” Yearbook Picture has been taken; you are under no obligation to take the other photos. At that point; they have what they need for the Yearbook.

You Do Have Choices:
Some schools may allow you to have your Yearbook Picture taken by an outside photographer of your choosing. In this event; you would have a Professional Senior Portrait Photographer (of your choice) take a photo of you specifically for the Yearbook. This can be done during your Senior Portrait Session. To avoid any confusion; you should check with your school to see if you are allowed to submit your own picture for the yearbook. If not; just go to the studio and get that part done. Just tell them that you want to book a “Yearbook Only” Session. Remember; you are under NO OBLIGATION TO BUY ANYTHING.

This Is Your ONLY High School Senior Year
Having your Senior Portraits taken is a rite of passage and time to celebrate. The best way to document your own personality, likes, hobbies, pets, etc. is to have your Senior Portraits taken by a Professional Senior Portrait Photographer that specializes in capturing “Who You Are” and “What You Are All About” at this special moment in your life.

To show you an example of how different a High School Senior Picture is from a Senior Portrait; I have been brave enough to submit my own High School I.D. Don’t laugh; this was the best picture that was taken of me during that brief sitting. Although (I think) that I was quite “pretty” back then; in my opinion I look like a “deer in the headlights”. This picture is, just that, a picture. It does in no way represent anything about my great, witty personality; nor establish “who I was” at that time in my life.

Unfortunately for me; my Mom didn’t know the difference between a High School Picture and a Senior Portrait. This has resulted in my, subsequent, torment. That darn picture has been hanging as a 16” x 20” Print on my Mom’s wall (and haunting me) for well over 30 years! Hint: Just because it is a “picture” doesn’t mean it should become a “Portrait”!

To the right of my I.D, you can see one of “Miss Jessica’s” wonderful Senior Portraits. This photo was taken during a “Location Session” by a Professional Senior Portrait Photographer. First; she was photographed holding a color chart (see the photo at the top of this post). It clearly shows that she was having FUN during her “Senior Portrait Experience”. The photo which is shown to the right of my Senior I.D. is the actual Portrait that was shot a moment after Jessica put the color chart down. You can clearly see the difference between Jessica’s smile and my forced expression.

What is a (Location) Senior Portrait Session?
During Jessica’s Senior Portrait Session; the Professional Photographer took several, different poses. Her portraits were taken in her home, while playfully lying amongst that hill of yellow flowers, in front of an amazing “graffiti” wall downtown, and in the middle of a beautiful town square (surrounded by old architecture and brilliant potted floral arrangements). All in all; she spent about 2 hours (having a great time). She had 4 different clothing changes and ended up with a CD full of high quality Senior Portraits capturing the essence of her fun-loving and adventurous personality.

I am so jealous of Miss Jessica!

Here are two more photographic examples of what it is like to have a (Location) High School Senior Portrait Experience. The main difference between this and a Studio Portrait Sitting is that all of the Portraits are taken “on location” and not in a stuffy studio, somewhere. Note: Some studios will walk you right across the street to take your “location” pictures.

First; you will probably head for a picture against the tree, then over to the brick wall next door (for your “urban” location shoot). If there is time; you might be able to get a 3rd shot (for variety). Remember; the clock is running…….you will have to get all of this done in just 20 minutes because the photographer has his sessions stacked back-to-back. If that’s what you want; I’m guessing that the photographer is most likely very good at taking those pictures. After all; he’s done it for a 1,000 other Seniors.

What Happens First?
Prior to your Location Portrait Session; the Professional Senior Portrait Photographer will, usually, meet with the family (during a brief Consult). The primary purpose of this short meeting is to get to know one another. In addition, the Photographer will, thoroughly, explain exactly what to expect during the Portrait Session. At this point; the Photographer will take the opportunity to find out about the Senior’s personality, hobbies, etc. This is a very important step in the overall process. After all; how can someone capture you in a Portrait, if they have no clue “who you are”?

What Can You Expect On The Day Of Your Location Session?
When the day arrives for your Senior Portraits to be taken; you should plan on spending about 1-1/2 to 2 hours with your Photographer. While you are getting ready; the Photographer will “scout out” each area to ascertain the best locations for your photos; taking into account availability of natural lighting, shadows, etc. Don’t worry about all of that; he’s the professional. You are encouraged to participate in the selection of props (your car, dog, musical instrument, etc.) and backgrounds. Make sure that he/she understands, exactly, what you want to get from these Portraits. If you want a picture with your Letterman’s Jacket; just let him know. He’ll be more than happy to take it.

I have provided an illustration of (5) Portraits from a real Location Senior Portrait Session (above). As Moms, generally are, during the Portrait process; this young lady’s Mom was with her throughout the entire Portrait Session providing support, collaborating on clothing changes (sometimes holding the reflector to assist the photographer) but for the most part; just having fun and bonding with her daughter during this, once in a lifetime, event. Remember; you’re not only taking your Senior Portraits; you are building memories.

The young lady (shown directly above) not only had (5) different clothing changes during her session; but her Grandmother’s home featured this spectacular garden and boat dock. It was unanimous that this was to be the backdrop.

During the initial Consult; Mom had made it clear that she really loved the pink Prom Dress. Aware of this; the photographer took a moment to capture that elegant shot of her in the pink gown. Mom bought this Portrait of her daughter to hang above the mantel in their home. On the other hand; Grandma decided that she was partial to the 2nd shot; so she purchased that Portrait as a 16” x 20” to commemorate the special occasion.

This young lady's Grandfather owned a yacht moored, just below, the home and gardens. Again; they moved to that location and took photos down on the dock. That last portrait was taken just for Grandpa. Did you notice; every one of these Portraits were relevant to this, particular, Senior?

Are you starting to see the difference between a simple “Senior Picture” and a “Senior Portrait”?

Let’s Talk Cost:
The “Package” that the contract studio wants to sell you can sometimes cost the same as, or more, than a Complete Location Senior Portrait Experience. Commonly nowadays; a lot of Professionals are offering all of your images on a CD to do with, whatever you wish. With this option; you have all of the control. This is a very popular way to go. It’s economical and just makes good sense.

Now; that I have completely explained what it is like to experience a Professional (Location) Senior Portrait Session, I have decided to show you one more example. I didn’t want to leave the boys out. After all; everyone should take advantage of this chance to capture a moment that is gone to soon.

As you can see in the Portraits of our Senior Boy (above) the Photographer totally captured this young man’s propensity for extracurricular activities such as skateboarding and his love of paintball. Of course; he wanted those two photos and Mom wanted the more formal Portraits that are shown in the middle. Just as with everything in life; compromises were made. In the end; everyone received the “Senior Portraits” they had wanted.

The above Portrait (examples) encompass the broad and diverse spectrum that can only be achieved by spending the time, and getting to “know”, all of the complexities of what it is to be a High School Senior. Why would you want to just have your Senior Pictures taken; when for the same amount of money you can have a memorable, once in a lifetime experience taking Professional Location Senior Portraits like those shown in this article? The difference in price is negligible in comparison to the rewards.

The choice is yours……. Do you want the “Senior Portrait Experience” or just a “Senior Picture”? Whatever you choose; remember – these images will be around a very long time.

As Required By The FTC: No sponsorship or endorsement was provided to facilitate this post. It is simply a bit of reference blogging done by Momma.

Manitobah Mukluks: Aboriginal Authentic Footwear US/CAN Giveaway and Review~ 12/4

Momma Told Me:
Don't go messing up your new shoes!

As a child one of our first reactions to a new piece of clothing is to show it off. If the article in question just happens to be a new pair of shoes, chances are we're enamored and will refuse to take them off, even for bed. I had a friend who felt this way about her hot pink rain boots, in the 3rd grade, and recall she wore them for months on end with pride. In our house, we typically went shoe shopping once a year, right before the new school year, or when my feet seemed to magically outgrow the last pair. Because of the rarity of this event, I was always especially proud of my new 'kicks', which had a tendency of being white in hue. I'd, never fail, to find the muddiest patch of our school lawn and kick up enough dirt and mud to bring them home in a different color. Momma, furious as she scrubbed them in the sink, would warn me she wouldn't be 'buying another pair' when these looked like they'd been through a marathon in just a week. I'd scrunch up my nose in disagreement, as my shoulders fell back, and whine, "But MOM, shoes are supposed to be worn!"
Little did I know, just 10 years later, ofter shelling out over $100 of my own hard earned bucks for a pair of shoes I'd only wear a handful of times, that this finicky footwear obsession would be passed down. Isn't it funny how much money and attention we put into fashion for articles which originally were designed for function and wear? I hardly see the North American natives gathered around the fire discussing how their newest moccasins required an extra glass bead for panache. In fact, the Canadian Metis utilized every aspect of their lives to not only be efficiently functional under extreme lifestyles and elements, but to celebrate the people's history and ancestors. And their deep respect for the land, and it's inhabitants, lead to an efficiently irreverent lifestyle rich in comfort and tradition. One such vital aspect of these people was the introduction of an active fur trade.

With origins as far back as the 1630 fur trade establishment, the Metis founded a strong relationship for handmade fur based clothing and shoes, with local settlers and Aborigines. When Manitobah became a part of the Canadian provinces in 1870 Metis artisans learned to spread their handmade goods in an effort to solidify relations and important relationships outside their tribe. Today, in the same spirit, the 1990 based Manitobah Mukluk's brand fosters lasting opportunities for Metis tribe elders, through the commercial integration of authentic materials and designs. While each and every elegant pair of authentic Mukluks are instantly captivating, the story of these shoes continues far past fur and tread, to their very soles. Mukluks are build to be functioning art. Though you may never feel quite comfortable trekking through snowy drifts and backwoods in such masterpieces, Manitobah has designed them to be as flawlessly functional (and comfortable) as the people which inspired them.

Beginning with a highly durable, and technically devised, Vibram sole, each pair of Mukluks is visually engaging and functional. As the leader in high performance, rubber based, soles, Vibram is the perfect translation of authentically rugged wear and city ready elegance. Their durable, low profile, sole is the perfect canvas for the Aboriginal story, which appears in 2 forms across the collections; TIPI and TURTLE. While Momma recently reviewed the Manitobah NAPPA Mukluks, I received a pair of (SZ 11) Women's Tall wrap, in Charcoal, for feature during Christmas Wishes. As it turns out, I had received my pair prior to Momma and quickly 'phoned' ahead to anxiously share my first impressions. When I had initially shopped the brand I was advised that, despite the size range cutting off at 11 (women's), the fit ran on the larger end and was most appropriate for feet like mine.

What had arrived at my doorstep was an elegant Black and White Manitobah box, housing a complete Certificate of Authenticity. This piece of 'paper' not only serves as a proof of purchase for the discerning consumer, but outlines the brand's connection with Aboriginal-owned companies. In addition to the stockholding and partnership program, Manitobah extends their friendship with the Aborigines through authentically inspired design, with in-house artists of native descent. You'll find everything from the soles, to the hand laid bead work, is carefully consulted with ties in tradition and purpose. And, if you don't see something 'authentic' enough for your tastes, their artist, Dorothy Grieves will design a commissioned pair of one-of-a-kind Storyboots, through special order.

If you're unaware of the company's roots it might be natural to overlook the treads' story upon first glance. So artistically woven into the very soles of these shoes, are the traditions, trademarks, and stories of Aboriginal people. The TIPI soles showcase the Sky, with it's life giving water from rain and snow, Western Mountains, Woodland People, and progression of modern hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Fire at the base symbolizes the perseverance of the native people, and the Swirling Four Winds, the cleansing as the Sun circles our Earth. While the Mukluks and Moccasins are designed for consumer intent, those looking to have a more personal and impactful connection to the Aboriginal people can commission Manitobah's Edna Nabess designed Storyboots. Storyboots are truly one of a kind works of art made from authentic materials by hand.

Available in Tall and Short, the Charcoal Wrap Mukluk is a very rustic, and authentic, visual expression of nomadic footwear. Manufactured in Chocolate, Charcoal, Black, and Olive, these Cowhide Suede, and Rabbit Fur boots feature an ultra plush (and insulating) Sheepskin Shearling lining that gives the effect of walking on air. Surprisingly, the Vibram soles are incredibly flexible in walking and movement as well. The company suggests sizing down 1 entire size when ordering, and as a natural 12, I was glad to find these (11s) fit quite well in the foot. However, the Tall Wrap has a tie up assembly, which seems to be less kind on my toned calves. While the wrap itself closes to the seams, they're best worn over jeans or leggings for a more casual look. I should also note here that Manitobah does make every effort to work with sizing (as far as stock, or custom order) for those outside the current selection options.

Some may be mortified to find I chose to take my Charcoal Tall Wrap Manitobah Mukluks to the local beach; but I desired a more natural footwear experience. After all, the Aboriginals wear their second skin footwear through extreme conditions and through long days. In honesty, I can't blame them, they're impressively comfortable! I am typically not a fur person, and often go the Vegan route, but the authenticity of Aboriginal design and practice, coupled with the ethical luxury is a very strong argument for Manitobah elegance. I love the casual tie up wear, and the minute details of beauty (such as the beaded accents and pops of turquoise). Mukluks are truly the perfect surprise for any discerning recipient on your list this holiday season!

What Daughter Says: Mukluks will withstand daily wear with durability and rugged elegance. They're the story of an entire people, and the pride of any footwear collection!

One very lucky Momma Told Me follower will win a pair of Manitobah Mukluks of choice (SRV up to $389)!

Pfaltzgraff’s "Pistoulet" Dinnerware Set - (40 Piece) Giveaway and Review~ 11/22

Did you know that Pfaltzgraff is celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year? For that reason; this review is going to be a little different than my normal (witty) delivery of information. The Pfaltzgraff history is such a great example of shear human determination and a strong sense of purpose; that I feel it needs to be shared. How many of us can say that we are a part of something that has withstood the test of time, adapted to current consumer needs and lasted 200 years? In an effort to promote this strong, human spirit; I am going to try and do justice to the rich history of Pfaltzgraff.

In May of 1833 Johann George Pfaltzgraff and his wife, Helwig Elenora (German Immigrants) boarded a ship heading for America armed with a dream to establish his own pottery business. Four long months later, they landed in Baltimore, MD. Johann and Helwig were not the first of the Pfaltzgraff family to reside in the U.S. They did have a relative, living in York County, PA., whose name was George Pfaltzgraff. It is George who is cited for already having, established his own pottery company back in 1811 (thus the 200th Anniversary).

Moving things forward a bit; in 1835 Johann moved to Conewago Township where he owned a small pottery which produced crocks, jugs and jars for food storage. Then in 1848 Johann moved his family to Foustown, PA in order to expand his small pottery business. It is noted; the 1870 Manufacturer’s Census reported that Pfaltzgraff and Son Pottery” had produced a, whopping, $1000 worth of pottery! That was an astounding figure for the times. Sadly, in 1873, Johann George Pfaltzgraff died. His three eldest sons, John B., George B., and Henry B., are the ones responsible for carrying on the family’s legacy.

In 1906, what was then known as the “Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Company,” was nearly destroyed by a fire. It is thought that a disgruntled employee started the blaze. After rebuilding the factory in its new location (West York, PA), it was re-opened and named “The Pfaltzgraff Pottery Company” which was known for its clay flower pots, and even liquor jugs. Due to Prohibition; their liquor jug business had to be transitioned into providing their jugs for “home use only”.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the “Anti Saloon League”, founded in 1893 (Oberlin, Ohio) then relocated to my (now hometown of Westerville, Ohio) was primarily responsible for the beginning of Prohibition? In 1913, in a 20th anniversary convention held in Columbus, Ohio, the League announced its campaign to achieve national prohibition through a constitutional amendment.

It wasn’t until 1964 that the company dropped the word “Pottery” from its name and became; what it is known as today, simply “The Pfaltzgraff Company”. In 1988 the Pfaltzgraff Company began producing bone china, and as they would say, “the rest is history”. We all know the name. Now; we also know a little bit more about how it came to be.

Today; the Pfaltzgraff Company is owned by Lifetime Brands, a formidable company in its own right. “In order to celebrate the Pfaltzgraff Bicentennial, Lifetime Brands has reissued two popular designs – Heritage and Yorktowne – in 32-piece anniversary sets. Pfaltzgraff has now even set up a Facebook page; so you can check out what’s new, including the place setting featured in this review. The design we are reviewing is the Pistoulet Line which was debuted in 2002. In my opinion; all of their designs are beautiful and functional. I would be proud to have any of the Pfaltzgraff sets in my home. They offer such diversity in styles; there should be a set that fits everyone’s unique style and décor.

For purposes of conducting this product review; I am the proud recipient of Pfaltzgraff’s Pistoulet Dinnerware Set (40 pieces). The MSRP for this set is $568.00. It is now on sale for only $249.99 right on their website. This set of dinnerware, serveware and accessories are offered in two, distinct, color schemes. Each place setting includes: a 10-3/4” dia. Dinner Plate, 9” dia. Salad Plate, 28oz. Soup/Cereal Bowl, 14oz. Mug and an 8oz. Dessert Bowl. The pieces are all dishwasher and microwave safe.

This is an elegant dinnerware set, enveloped in colors inspired by the subtle washed watercolors of Southern France. It features brightly colored vines, flowers and vegetables influenced by Jana Kolpen’s book, “The Secrets of Pistoulet”. I love the way that the light lines, almost seem effortlessly, laced around the Salad Plates. The subtle colors are very complimentary to the theme. The entire set really does give you an overall sense of what it must be like to experience the fields of Southern France. It creates an atmosphere of almost being there, sharing a great meal with family and friends and taking in the beauty of the French countryside.

I really love the overall “feel” of this dinnerware. It has an elegant appearance about it. You can sense the thought that went into the design of each and every piece. It is functional and beautiful, all at the same time. The pattern of these pieces invokes a feeling of family and good times, spent around the dinner table, as a child. Much like its inspiration “The Secrets of Pistoulet” it’s almost a comforting state of being. The best way to describe it is; it’s like a, really good book. Now that I know the story behind it; I have an even greater appreciation for it.

Note: Stylized illustrations provided for review purposes. Wine/Glasses not included.

One Momma Told Me follower will win the same 40 Piece Pistoulet Dinnerware Set, as reviewed above, a $568 value.