Autumn Decor: Yes, Please.

{Photo credit}

October is just around the corner, which means mustache madness, candy corn and impending holiday music 24/7. I’m especially excited this year because Pete and I are hosting our very first Thanksgiving together, which means this will be the first time when the majority of guests will have no desire to watch football. Ever since Hurricane Irene rained on our parade, we had to cancel our BBQ, so my family will be making the trek from NYC and Delaware to indulge in turkey goodness. Luckily for me, Pete has experience cooking a turkey, but the most I’ve ever helped with Thanksgiving meals in the past has been microwaving mashed potatoes. So, needless to say, I am ready to solicit some advice from pumpkin pie-baking veterans.

{Photo credit}

{Photo credit 1, 2}

{Photo credit}

The idea of mini white pumpkins scattered on a mantle makes me anxious to go pumpkin picking—I always like cutting out the centers to make them votive candleholders to bring a warm glow to the room.

{Photo credit}

{Photo credit}

Anywho, I’ve been browsing Foodgawker and Pinterest to collect autumn decor and festive recipe inspiration, but I was wondering what some of your favorites are?


Family Session: Farmyard Fun

This past weekend I had my first ever family shoot at a private farm in Bucks County, PA. It was a pleasure getting to photograph such a sweet family, in addition to some teeny-tiny goats. I’m only posting the innocent-looking photos of the goats, but between you and me, I did manage to snag a few shots of the wee goat munching on the mom’s hair.

It was a breath of fresh air to be able to photograph adorable kids because they are always striking precious, candid poses without even realizing it.

Did I mention there were goats? SO CUTE.

I hope to be given the opportunity to photograph a family again sometime in the near future. It definitely made me step outside of my comfort zone and experiment with fresh perspectives. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to get to hang out with baby goats again too, they are my new BFFs.

Happy Birthday, Big Brother!

Dearest big brother,

I have learned a lot from you since I was yanked out of mom’s womb roughly 27 years ago. Thanks for warming it up in there for me, by the way. It seems as though I was following in your footsteps ever since my fetus days, as I decided to be a c-section baby because you had done the same 9 years before me. To celebrate your birthday, I’m highlighting just a few of the many reasons why no one else has a brother quite like you.

Even before I came around, you had a keen fashion sense and creative eye for headwear. I’d like to think that rubbed off on me a little bit, but let’s be honest, the stylish gene definitely skipped a generation.


From a young age, you made me realize that bunnies were totally fabulous in every way possible. We’ll come back to this point later.

Even when I was a wee little thing, we still managed to exchange snarky glances when mocking dad’s latest facial hair trends.

Or mom’s glorious 80s perm.

I forgave you when you went to school and left me alone with these crazy people we call our parents…especially when dad wore his old lady mask and dressed in a bathrobe with his hairy legs revealed for all to see. (This is a screenshot from a home video, I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

You taught me to only wear short shorts when you mean serious business.

Thanks to you, I learned the importance of money and how to earn a living (becoming an artist…that pays well, right?).

I told you we weren’t done discussing bunnies. My artistic skills were advancing at a rapid pace, thanks to having these inspirational pieces of yours to motivate me. This bunny you painted has always been a favorite and definitely inspired me to draw some bunnies of my own.

You taught me how to sketch my favorite Disney characters and whenever you drew Abu or Ariel it made my day.

Thanks to you, I began to quickly realize that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Even though I only scored an 80 on the art test above, I kept drawing turtleneck-wearing turtles and didn’t give up.

You taught me that smoking was bad, except for when you are faking it by putting a pen cap in your mouth while shooting artist black and white photos with your big brother.

I also learned not to care what people thought of me when you dressed me up in Johnny Cash-esque outfits and had me pose in the Catholic school playground, with the confused students watching us.

You taught me how to balance life when I was in college and had no desire to drink in a town where there was nothing to do but get wasted every weekend. The result was me taking a lot of nerdy self-portraits and developing a habit for collecting too many pets.

You made me realize that you can never be too overdressed for the beach, as I have been spotted wearing corduroys and closed shoes on numerous occasions while at the shore.

Your inability to do anything sporty (apart from play a mean wiffleball) has also been inherited by yours truly. Although, thanks to this photo taken by your lovely wife, I can say with great certainty that I could beat you in an uphill race.

But you could kick my arse in wiffleball any day.

And probably ballet, too.

No matter how old we are, when Christmastime rolls around, it’s inevitable that someone always has to play Santa Claus. Thanks to you, I have a sordid appreciation for all things festive when it comes to stuffing your pants with a fake pillow and wearing a beard from the early 80s. As part of your birthday gift, I have spared my readers of the especially vulgar family photos, as these were the only G-rated shots from our adventures as Santa.

Fairly recently, a new Collins family Christmas tradition arose, during which we would embark in a Nerf battle in the basement. In the dark. At first, our main goal was to shoot each other…sometimes in the eye (sorry about that, by the way) and sometimes in other unfortunate places, but overall we looked forward to an all-night shootout as our means of spreading Christmas cheer.

However, our goals soon changed when we realized it was funnier to corner dad with a Nerf gun than it was to attack each other.

That being said, I still get a little scared when I see that crazed look in your eye, whether it’s during our Nerf battles or because I posted an embarrassing photo of you on my blog without your permission.

Regardless, I hope you’ll allow me to keep this post up for more than 24 hours, despite the compromising photos. I made it a point not to include any pictures from your mullet/Prince/mustache/epic goatee/samurai hair days. Despite making fun of your past appearances, I can say with great certainty that my unfortunate hair phases (and eyebrow phases) were much, much more blackmail-worthy.

Anyway, I hope you have a fabulous birthday week. I’ve been eating banana cream pie and drinking lemon-flavored Gold Peak Tea to celebrate in my neck of the woods (any excuse for pie or tea is a good one)!


Your little sister

Currently Reading: French Milk

{Photo credit}

French Milk is an autobiographical graphic novel by Lucy Knisley, who travelled to Paris with her mother for their 22nd and 50th birthdays. For more than a month, the humorous memoir follows Lucy around as her and her mother explore France—taking photographs, eating pastries and drinking French Milk. The story blends real life photos by Lucy with her drawn depictions of their days together, as a travel diary of sorts. For those of you who might not have ever read graphic novels before, I would definitely recommend browsing Amazon or (where books are often sold for less than ten cents) for a starter book. Persepolis, Maus and Epileptic are just some of my favorites, but if you’re less of a bookworm and more into movies, there are often wonderful film adaptations of graphic novels released as well, such as Persepolis or Ghost World.

{Photo credit}

Lucy’s portrayal of life as an art student visiting back home with her quirky parents reminded me of the graphic memoir I started inklings of in college (see a snippet below). Once wedding photography season passes, I’d like to begin concentrating on starting the graphic memoir back up. For these frames below, I used home videos as a reference to capture my dad’s dialogue word-for-word (yes, he lovingly called me “little shit” as a pet name, we’re special like that), so I think I may have some home video-watching in my future.

Our family is probably a bit of a rare case, because we have almost every occasion from my youth on video. Ballet recitals, birthdays, holidays, sledding adventures, talent shows—they’re all captured on camera, so when referencing moments from my child and adult life, I have a lot of materials and images to pull from. My brother, who is 9 years older than me, also has loads of blackmail-worthy home videos including: my dad stalking him and his date on prom night, his questionable mustache/hair phases (I’m guilty of a mustache and pseudo-mullet as well, no worries big brother), modeling in an 80s fashion show with me at the mall…the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting back into graphic novel gear and re-exploring some of the funnier, slightly disturbing moments from my youth and beyond. French Milk was just the kick in the arse I needed to get inspired to mesh family anecdotes with real-life photos and illustrations.

What are some of your favorite graphic novels? I think Blankets by Craig Thompson is next on my list!

Back From Vacation: Part I!

Last week, Pete and I joined his family on a week-long vacation in Ocean City, NJ. The annual Schuster beach shenanigans are always a blast (this coming from my two years of experience, but still…), so this time, I decided to document parts of our trip.

My dad gave us a kite to fly at the beach, so Pete and I tested it out by frolicking around and probably definitely making fools of ourselves. It was Pete’s first time flying a kite and I think he mastered it like a pro.


Thanks to Pete’s generous parents, we stayed on the top floor of this beach house, which was a quick stroll from the beach.

We spent our evenings roaming the boardwalk, playing card games, watching tv and being lazy.

Pete and I played shuffleboard for the first time (although my dad tells me I played when I was a wee little thing).

There were many intense faces made during shuffleboard, which were repeated yet again during the annual game of Goofy Golf (sorry for the lack of photos). Picture putting a ball at a hippo eating a hoagie while “who let the dogs out?” blares in the background. It’s pretty darn good. Shocker: I got the low score.

Pete’s mom made her famous monkey bread, which is to. die. for. We also indulged in caramel corn, berries and loads of other delicious goodies that undoubtedly made me gain a few pounds (totally worth it).

Pete’s aunt and cousin (and her adorable baby) came to visit and I went a little crazy with taking photos of the cute little lass. I don’t often find myself in the company of kids, so I like to take advantage of photographing them whenever I can. It’s always a fresh of breath air to photograph children because they don’t shy away from being themselves or get self conscious when the shutter clicks.

She thought I was interested in stealing her Goldfish crackers…which I might have been…

Nothing beats baby smiles!

She was showing her Grandma where her eyes and nose are located…she’s smart like that!

So. Cute.

Going to the beach also means lots of trivia and reading, which included Bossypants by Tina Fey, who might just be my favorite person ever. Pete caught me Google stalking her after reading the book in a day, which I realize is stalkertastic.

The boardwalk is always fabulous for people-watching, photo booth posing and Skee Ball playing.

We had more than our fair share of fish tacos, smoothies and ice cream. The smoothies at Bryn and Dane’s (a local restaurant based out of Horsham) were the best thing I had on the boardwalk without a doubt.

Pete and I couldn’t resist some Medieval Fantasy Mini Golf, which was definitely worth it just for the black light, airbrushed holes indoors.


Yes, that’s Pete yielding a golf club sword amidst glow in the dark wizards and dragons. There was talk of larping and playing D&D, but hopefully we’ll save that for another year. Or never…

It was pretty challenging trying to take photos in the dark, but I’m glad I was able to get a few shots of the fabulous fantasy world that exists only on the Ocean City boardwalk.

I had to remind myself that I am unemployed and should save my money for more grown-up purchases when I stumbled upon this seashell owl.

We topped off our romantic evening stroll on the boardwalk off with some Elvis crooning while the sun set behind us. Pretty darn priceless if you ask me. Stay tuned for part II of our beach adventures tomorrow, where I’ll share our exciting reunion with a much-missed Betty White.

Happy Bunny Celebration Day!

As I was explaining yesterday, last weekend’s visit to see my family will definitely give me nightmares for years to come. Luckily, we also got to see my parent’s dog Whiskey and my grandma, who has moved up from Florida and will be living with my parents permanently (Grandma, you are a braver woman than I).

I’m still not really sure why my dad thought it would be appropriate to celebrate Jesus rising from the dead by wearing a menacing clown mask, but more power to him. My favorite part was when my dad was fully costumed while prancing around the neighborhood and waving to his neighbors, who were staring in awe through their front windows. Hopefully the apple falls far from the tree in my case. Very, very far.

Poor Pete tolerates my family like a champ. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, ginger. He totally dominated us later that night in a game of Rummy, and I’m pretty sure my grandma is ready for a rematch with “her little Ranger.” Backstory: my grandma thinks Pete looks just like Walker Texas Ranger aka Chuck Norris aka my grandma is my new favorite person for life.

Luckily the next day was a bit more relaxing, with no startling appearances of killer bunny clowns on the beach.

There were, however, startling fashion choices made by my dad, once again. I bet if my dad let Pete wear his hat, he’d look even more like Walker Texas. Just saying.

The Rehoboth beach boardwalk is filled with four-legged gems like this one above, and I want to cuddle them all.

Anyway, that gives you a brief glimpse of how I spent (an early) Easter with my family. As crazy as they are, I love them for still managing to leave me flabbergasted after all these years. And to my father who asked, “You’re not going to post these photos on the Internet now, are you?” Come on dad, you should really know me better by now.

Killer Bunnies From Outer Space

Unfortunately, this is a common facial expression for me when I'm visiting my parents.

Sorry for the silence lately! I promise I haven’t died, but I can’t say it wasn’t a close call when I saw my dad dressed as a terrifying clown-bunny this past weekend. He knows I hate clowns, so he decided to combine my favorite and least favorite things to wish me a Happy Easter. Pray for me that this won’t be one of his many twisted Collins family traditions. This is just a brief, disturbing sneak peek into my upcoming Easter post, so brace yourself until Sunday. As of late, I’ve been spending my free time doing freelance blogging (ghostwriting, so it’s top secret) and preparing for Crafty Balboa next weekend. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to join us so you can stock up on super cute affordable artwork! How is your family celebrating Easter? Something tells me it won’t involve a horrific clown outfit…