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  • Hello, friend! Thank you for being here.

    OH my goodness, are we excited you stopped by!
    <------That's my oldest little bit over there. She's excitable, like her mama. The apple doesn't fall far. Except she's blonde and has that rockin' dimple on her chin, she got from the Mister. My dimples are in other places and on good days I have only one chin, but yeah. We're a lot a like. We love to have fun, be together with the fam, take pictures, CREATE (we're crafty like that), be dorks, have dance parties, Matilda Jane Clothing, laugh, laugh at ourselves, cook, eat, LOVE, pray, SHARE, and make new friends. And a lot of the time we're doing all of those at the same time! I am a Jane of all trades, master of none. I am always looking for sunshine and easily amused. I am usually unpredictable, mostly energetic to a fault, quirky and sometimes a bit eclectic, and darn right fun to be around... so I've been told.

    Old friends, new friends, friends we have yet to meet-we like them! So come hang out here for some gettin' real, gettin' personal, maybe a little gettin' real personal. We'll play games, talk some shop, kick up our feet, and have a generally good time. You'll definitely get to know more about me in my REM-deprived ramblings. {I can't be held responsible for how those ramblings look on any given day} And I hope I get to know a LOT more about you by YOU chatting and maybe getting to know your heart and soul by making pictures together. Wouldn't that be a blast? Then you can see what happens when we take what makes you OH-so-unique, add me bustin' a move with my camera, "Beast", and have fun capturing what makes YOU SHINE! This is NOT yo' mama's photography. We could leave a mark on this world- yours, mine, ours... together. Happy day.
    This is me. I can't be anything different than who I am.
    Making pictures... making friends.
    LET IT SHINE! ;)

How much does your LOVE weigh? {Gooey Heart’s Day}

Note from ME:  I had every good intention of getting this out early yesterday… ON Valentine’s Day, but alas I had to bring a sick lovey home from school.  My time was spent with her, not my blog.  So even though it’s late, I’m still posting. 

Hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind…(just had an Elton John moment)

and hope you enjoy.  😉

I was away for several days last weekend in Junc Town, Colorado for a Matt and Katie Photographers workshop.

(stay tuned for a post on my trip…)

Although I could spend every waking hour hanging out with MK and the hostess with the mostest, Jami, the

love and missing of my daughters weighed heavily on my heart.

The kind of heavy that renders you breathless.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed EVERY second of my mommy time, but they

were never far from my thoughts.

Luckily, people not too shy to share the weight of their love, surrounded me.

Matt & Katie and Jami gave it freely…


So much, in fact, that I felt loved like family.

So much, in fact, that I miss them like family.

So much, in fact, that I am touched for good.

And as much as I loved each best day evah that came, I am delighted

beyond measure to have my sweet loves back in my arms.

At the airport, and after being greeted properly by my Mister, first thing I did

was suck face with my little Katie Pie.

I nuzzied (that’s what we call nuzzling) her neck, practically ate off her cheeks, and took in

deep, long breaths of her sweet goodness.

Thank goodness my big girls still don’t mind all the mush, because

they were next in line for the same treatment.

Ahhhhh… bliss

So today is Gooey Hearts Day.

And although I could be stressed after a long trip and time difference, I am content.

For the first time in my life I actually prepared ahead!  😉

Before I left for the trip, I made little bags for them to enjoy.

Filled with a darling antique book, a bud vase, chocolate of course, conversation hearts, special tights, and a cute and simple homemade t-shirt to wear on the special day.

I thought this morning of what my jet-lagged body could do last minute to make this day

a bit more special, having been out of town and not on my game.

Here are a couple of quick & easy, last minute DIY’s I did today for those of you in my procrastinating shoes:

1.  I designed Warm Fuzzies Valentine’s Day cards for my lovies with handmade Warm Fuzzies.
2.  I printed out a bingo game via simply fresh designs (via my Pinterest),  to play with them after school

(also used for 1st grade class party that morning).

3.  The cute Gooey Heart’s Day shirts I made my girlie birds before I left for Colorado.  My two big girls wore shirts in French.

The gray shirt says, “all you need is love”  and the white one says, “love is all you need.”

(Freebie coming soon)

Since they are lovers of all things french, they were seriously in love with the shirts.  Mommy points-Woohoo!

4.  I made my version of some whipped cream hearts for their afternoon hot cocoa-DIY below!
(Inspired by this and this from Pinterest)

If I would have had time before, I was going to sew on some
easy sew t-shirt fabric roses or some chiffon flowers.
If you have a second, run to your local craft store for iron transfer paper and have at it!
It is SOOO easy with great results!
Get ready for the compliments.

Here’s two (of MANY) of our favorite Valentine’s Day reading:


Ooey Gooey Whipped Creamy Hot Cocoa Hearts

 Note:  I like my cream a little on the, how should I say, cream tasting side, so I use a light hand with the added ingredients.  Do it to taste.  Okay, so one of the links uses Cool Whip, which you may do if you feel so inclined.  But I always have heavy whipping cream on hand and ALWAYS use homemade over store bought.  There is no comparison.  I know, I know.  I too was one of those girls that ate Cool Whip by the spoonful, like ice cream, when I was a kid, but seriously.

Ain’t nothing like the real thang baby!!!!!

1.  Make your fave version of homemade whipped cream.
In place of confectioner’s sugar, I used decorator’s red sugar (like sprinkles). This makes it sweet and pink at the same time. Feel free to use a little red food coloring if that’s all you have on hand, but make sure to add powdered sugar too for taste.
(I usually use heavy whipping cream, a wee bit of confectioner’s sugar and a little vanilla)

2.  Spread pink/red whipped cream into glass cake pan or smaller, depending on how much you made. I only had less than a half of a carton of whipping cream, so I used small glass pans. My silicone heart shaped muffin pan was packed up or I would have used it. Place in freezer (approximately 3 hours).

3.   When it is time for hot cocoa, remove pans from freezer and cut with small heart shaped cookie cutter.  Use right away or cut out and place back in freezer for later.

4.  Place a few hearts in hot cocoa and ENJOY! I liked a few hearts floating on top, but one large heart would be adorbs too!

Happy Ooey-Gooey Heart’s Day…
Show your loved ones the weight of your love today!!! 😉

Lots of gooey love,



Let it shine,


February 15, 2012 - 9:22 pm

Sandi - Holy Cow! I can feel the love! Gorgeousness! Loved it all! Can’t get enough!

February 15, 2012 - 8:42 pm

jami - LOVE!!!!

The Sandbucket debut & good guts

There’s a common theme going on on some of my favorite blogs right now.

The Sandbcuket Magazine debut and good peeps.

Good peeps meaning good women.

Good women meaning good friends.

Good friends meaning the kind of people that lift you up and make you better.

I don’t know how I got so lucky to be surrounded by such stellar ladies that I call friends.

Better yet, that call ME friend… ME!

These are kindred spirits that take up a very special place in my heart.

Sandi is one of them.

If y’all remember, I met Sandi at a Matilda Jane photo shoot

that our girls were chosen to paricipate in.

I swear that Denise of MJC  has a secret edge on that “inner voice” thing we all hear about.

It’s a gut of steel that she follows with unrelenting gusto.

Somehow she knew to put 4 of us mommies and daughters as housemates for our Florida weekend, and that would lead to something good.

She didn’t know what the good would be at the time, but she followed that hardcore gut.

 So glad she did so we could all find each other.  It was so meant to be.

I treasure each of these women beyond measure.

They help to keep my eyes up.  If I said come now, I know they would run.

Now out of that Sandi has done the same… followed her gut.


“Please join us for the debut issue of The Sandbucket.  This issue is chalked full of fun articles.  Come be inspired to get reading with your children.  Gather new recipes that you’ll want to try out for yourself.  Get to know Denise Demarchis of Matilda Jane a little better.  Read of the giving adventures of families in Atlanta as they went out to feed the homeless.  All this and many more articles that touch upon raising and teaching our children.  There is even a fun teen section where we meet some real teens and talk about their talents as well as some fun DIY projects.  Each page of the magazine is filled with beautiful and useful content, never being interrupted with ads.  Only useful content that can strengthen you and your famlies.”

I am excited to be a contributor for The Sandbucket and all the lovely things to come…

in it’s pages and in my life.

 I love surrounding myself with good peops and I feel more connected to these women already, as a part of this wonderful journey Sandi has started.

So do you think you know that “Atlanta” family???

You better check out the mag to see…

then maybe you’ll find some treasures of your own, feel a friend or two in the lovely pages and be filled with some of that goodness too.



The Sandbucket on Facebook

Let it shine,


January 30, 2012 - 4:24 pm

Jill - I absolutely love this idea and can’t wait to see all the goodness! You are so so so talented my dear! I LIKED The Sandbucket on Facebook and of course The Warm Fuzzy Revolution. I LOVE ALL that you do! 😉

S.O.S {Summer of Service}

Memorial Day 2011, kicked off the summer with a roaring start.

It was filled with the usual sights and sounds of summer, like watermelon, corn on the cob,

Barbecue chicken on the grill, Izze’s, potato salad, and swimming at the pool.

But this summer will be memorable for my girls not because of these things, but because of how

they felt doing something more than just entertaining themselves that day.

Oh, yes.

My girlies spent all morning, through lunch, decorating adorable

cupcakes and making fresh squeezed lemonade to sell at the pool in our ‘hood and

raise money for the Matilda Jane Habitat for Humanity House.

Go figure on a mucho HOT-HOT-HOT day, that customers were more interested in their adorable cupcakes than

the refreshing lemonade…and told us we should have charged more for them.

They were right.

{The girlies just might be able to take a piece of the pie… errr…cake in the cupcake industry.  ;)}

But  I digress…

They have been filling these MJC House of clouds banks (thank you, Ellen) for a couple of months now and are full of joy for their efforts… me too.

They have passed them around to all of their teachers and friends at school, had lemonade stands,

and little middle wants to forego gifts at her birthday party and have them

donate what they would have spent on a gift, to the cause.


But this lemonade stand was officially the first  project for our

S.O.S. {Summer of Service}.

My bosom friend Kelly and I were talking one day, about how we were excited for summer…

to be with our kids and to do a little MORE than we would normally do in ways of thinking of others.

I mean come on.

We all know summer is fully spent in thinking of how we can do things for our own

pleasure and enjoyment or working on a tan.

And the rest of the time, it can be filled with whining, tantrums, bickering, and boredom.

We have both been on the same wavelength (we do that a lot) of wanting this summer to be different.

This summer was going to be one where MORE time would be spent on helping others or making them smile.

This summer was going to be an S.O.S…. a  S.ummer  O.f   S.ervice.

Kelly had already come up with that name before we even talked and I think I just about jumped through the phone with excitement on how perfect it was.

{Kelly made that awesome logo… isn’t it cute?}

And she kindly obliged my idea to start a Facebook page and spread the word to other mom’s who might be interested in a change this summer, but maybe not thought of it on their own.

It will also be a great spot to share ideas and experiences and hopefully inspire each other to raise our kids to think outside of themselves and in doing good to all men.

So please join us, if you feel so inclined, in whatever way you can this summer.

Look for ways to work in a little something or a big something

as often as you can and come report… or not. 😉

I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with and how awesome it will feel to be

spreading some good-lovey-sunshine from wherever we are…

but together.

Now go shine and help someone else’s light shine brighter.

Because you know what happens when two candle lights are put together…

Have you done any good in the world today?

Let it shine,


Let it shine,


August 25, 2011 - 9:18 am

admin - Oh, man I’m busted! heehee We actually did pull through on our S.O.S for the most part, even with everything else going on, if you can believe it. Another thing to add to my why MIA list! 😉 S.O.S will take off next summer since I won’t have all of this on my plate. I’ll be back soon, I promise. Gotta get through this. Need to check up on your bloggity blog too! Not much computer going on the past few months except for wedding research on Pinterest! HA! Thanks for checking in. Love you!!! xo p.s. How did your S.O.S go?

August 24, 2011 - 11:37 pm

jami - K. Seriously. Where are you???????????

June 9, 2011 - 1:57 pm

Jenn - Brilliant. We’re in!

June 9, 2011 - 12:08 am

Sandi - love love love! We want in!

{Peaches & Cream and in beTWEEN}

“All women become like their mothers.  That is their tragedy.

No man does.  That’s his.”

~Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, 1895

Brains & Beauty.

If you ask me, that’s what she’s made of.

With a big, whopping side helping of beautiful heart & soul.


She’s a dish.

The catch of the day.

Peaches & cream, if you will.

But thank goodness we don’t have to think about that.


Thank goodness my girl hasn’t had to deal with any  kind of  heartbreak.


But if she keeps this CUTE thing up, I think we will be in T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Or at least the boys who show up on our doorstep will be.

{by the Mister of the house… be afraid; be very, very afraid}

She doesn’t pay much attention to them.

Is friends with the ones that don’t act all “weird”.

Once in awhile will tell me what it is that is bugging her about boys.

Like the day she came home annoyed by how juvenile boys are.

In class that day, they were split into groups to work together.

They were supposed to be looking up vocab words from Call of the Wild, but the boys were

looking up “B**B” instead.


She said they were the ones acting like one.  Okay so she didn’t say that, but I’m

sure she was thinking it.

Okay, guilty.  That was me too.


But other than that… not on her mind.

What is on her mind are horses, books, playing, her sissies, school, math, art, daydreaming,

cooking, running, good music, singing, piano, animals, and family.

I realize we might be slightly outside of the norm for her age, but I’m very

happy to oblige her innocence a little longer.

And since I will officially be a mama of an official, bona fide teenager, in 18 days…

Some Advice for my girls about boys:

Boys will ALWAYS be boys.

Don’t ever get pressured into do anything for a boy “just to be nice”.

(I know this is hard, because you are so nice, but that is no time for people pleasing, believe you me.)

If a boy wants to carry your books home from school for you, let him.

But know you don’t owe him anything in return, but a thank you.

If you feel uncomfortable, walk away… run if you have to.

If a boy teases you relentlessly and you’ve asked them one too many times to stop,

then by all means punch him in the stomach walk away.

Don’t get in a stink fight with a skunk.

{thanks Jami for reminding me of that saying}

Because “Sometimes when you get in a fight with a skunk, you can’t tell who started it”- Lloyd Doggett

No boy is worth your time and energy if he brings you down.

And no one can bring you down unless you let them.

You are a bright, shiney apple at the top of the tree… wait for the one who’s brave enough to climb to the top for you.

It’s not easy, but choose happiness.  You always have a choice.

Keep yourself busy with good things like reading good books and things you enjoy, and there just

won’t be much time for them until the time is right… like when you’re 32.

You’ll have had plenty of time for that PHD by then.  😉

Hearts are made to be broken and mended.  It just means you’re open to love.

And love is good.

Let the right kind of love in, but keep masquerades of love out.

An open heart is worth the risk.

Be smart, be armed with knowledge and know how… Particularly how you do not need to act like other girls.

To thine own self be true.

Keep your eye on the prize… never settle.

No one is perfect, but as long as that’s what they are striving for, you’re good.

Don’t play games… unless it’s Scrabble… or Monopoly.

Boys should still open doors for you and be gentlemen… Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.

It’s called R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

The more you see of how boys are, the more you’ll love your dogs.

Not all boys are bad.  Boys can be nice; look at your daddy.

Just learn how to spot a good one…listen to your parents-we’ll help you along the way.

Find someone like you’re daddy and you’ll be golden.

Shine on,



“There are much easier things in life than finding a good man.  Nailing Jell-O to a tree, for instance.”  ~Author Unknown

p.s.  Have I ever told you about how my eldest (the sassy, almost teenager) got sent to

the principal’s office in kindergarten?

True story.

Good story.

I don’t condone violence, but that boy who relentlessly teased her

had that punch to the stomach coming. 😉

Let it shine,


June 4, 2011 - 10:48 am

La - A teenager? what the? You never cease to amaze me with your talents girl. sure love ya!

June 2, 2011 - 4:55 pm

Kelly - You never cease to amaze me. What a powerful message for all of your girls.

June 2, 2011 - 8:54 am

Melissa Fullmer - dana, this is precious, i love it! the pictures, the words, perfect :) you are so cute and so are your precious girls.

June 2, 2011 - 12:21 am

jami - Oh how I’ve missed you. XOXOXO

June 1, 2011 - 11:45 pm

Monika - Well, hello darling Dana!!! I’ve missed you! Love this post, read it all out loud do my Erina =).

June 1, 2011 - 11:44 pm

alice gold - love you dana. Love your work. love your girls. love your advice.


Cleaning my office and came across this from who knows when or where,

but it’s just what I needed to read today.

Been thinking a lot about how I’m raising my girls lately and if I’m doing enough.

I know, I know.

We are always so hard on ourselves, but the truth is I KNOW I can do so much better.

And their future depends in it.

They are growing up faster than I can keep up with.

I mean really.  I’ll have an official teenager in a couple of months.


Thought I’d pass on the good advice to all of you with daughters, although I’m sure a lot of it could apply to boys as well…

Especially since I know SO many of you with daughters…

HOLLA Matilda Jane Mamas!!!

{My thoughts are in parantheses)

1. Love her for who she is.

(Sounds easy, but if we really look at how we are parenting, are we really accepting

of every last bit?  It’s not so easy)

2. Help her focus on good goals that include giving of herself to others.
(“Happiness is best kept when given away!” post edit: I forgot to tell you I added this line above myself.

It was similar to what it originally said, but I feel this is so important to raising a confident girl

who knows how to give back to the world and knows the more you give, the more you get back in your heart and soul.)

3. Let her know she’s worth your time.
(I remember when I was a kid and my mom would say just a minute or wave her finger at me to

wait and how it made me feel…Isn’t it interesting how we do what we’re taught?

PLUS, are we REALLY paying attention when they speak or are we Facebooking,

texting, blogging, watching TV while they talk to us-Love and relationships… It’s about time!)

4. Help her stand firm in knowing her value.
(This is so huge in this day and time. Girls grow up way too fast. We also forget that

the nurturing doesn’t stop just because they get older…that’s when they need

it the most. They’ll push you away and that’s just when you hold on tight.)

5. Make sure she knows she belongs.

(This is SO important… we ALL, even as adults, need to feel like we belong.

Imagine how hard that is for a middle schooler?

Start with the dinner table and security at home and the rest will come easier.)

6. Give her choices.

(post edit: But still be her parent, not just a friend.  Start them young with good habits and choices,

like wearing girlie clothes like Matilda Jane Clothing.

That way when they get older, they will have more self-esteem and respect for their bodies.

And hopefully not want to run to that store to buy hoochie mama clothes or something

with their nasty clothes name across their hiney!

“Choices” does not mean without boundaries… set them!  You’re the only one that can, if you will.)

7. Communicate
(for me this means listen more, talk/chastise less)

8. Never compare her to others.
(For me this means to be more aware of not putting lables on her-hard one if you aren’t always

aware of what comes out of your mouth. It’s easy to forget that literally comparing

to “so and so” is so damaging. They never forget what you say or how you made them feel.)

9. Be impressed by her.

(SO TRUE!  I make sure my middle one knows when break dances or

my others sing at the top of their lungs, I am so utterly impressed!!!  heehee)

10. Strengthen her heart, don’t thicken her skin.

(Amen.  LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS ONE!!! Complete truth.

Although a little skin thickening, done in the right way, I think is good to survive in this world.)

11. Make it safe to make mistakes.
(I need to improve on this one!)

12. Let her achievements be her own.
(Never really thought of it this way… SO true!)

and help your daughters do the same… before it’s too late.
And if you’re doing most of these already, then give yourself a big hug and be kind to the rest of us still working through our own issues!  😉

Let it shine,


April 20, 2011 - 12:51 pm

admin - Hey, sweet thang!!! Thank you and PLEASE pass it along!!! We need to hear more of this everyday rather than just being caught up in the swing of the world. Be a parent, not a friend people! The day will come for that. Miss you big time!!! 😉

April 16, 2011 - 2:30 pm

Marcel - LOVE, LOVE, LOVE THIS! I’m passing this one along!

April 15, 2011 - 10:18 am

Allison - AMEN SISTA! I have three little girls I babysit (all under the age of 12) who are dealing with challenges and self-esteem issues that I didn’t face until High School. One is so worried about her weight and she isn’t even cubby. Her parents are so worried that because she wants candy and bread over meat and vegetables that she will become diabetic. NEWSFLASH: kids like sweets! They will grow out of it.

This idea of potentially becoming fat and diabetic has consumed her life and is all she talks or thinks about. One day I took the girls bowling and then to lunch. At lunch all the talk of, “I cant have this and that because they will make me fat.” started up. I reassured her that one lemonade was not going to tip the scale and she finally ordered what she wanted. Then at the table the real issue came up. She told me she didn’t want to become fat because she was scared her mommy and daddy wouldn’t love her anymore. I wanted to cry because no little girl should ever question if their parents will love them. I just asked her If she loved me. She said, “Of course I love you! You are the coolest girl I know.” Thats when I knew I had the power to change this little girl’s mind. I then said, “Well, Lets face some facts. I am overweight, but you know what… I am loved. I am loved by the most important people in existence. God loves me, Jesus Christ loves me, my mom and dad love me, and you love me. I have great friends and I live a great life. I have every thing I need. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside because people who love you see what is on the inside.” Right then her older sister began humming the song I Am A Child Of God. We all teared up a little and it was such an amazing sight to see this somber little girl finally have hope for a bright future.

I feel like not only is it a moms responsibility to raise confident girls but it is every girls duty to set better examples for those around them. We need to be the women we want our girls to become.

p.s. sorry for such a long comment.

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