The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas

I was born and raised in upstate New York where we had some brutal winters!  I have no memory of a year without a white Christmas!  Some winters were colder and snowier than others but always we had snow and frigid cold temps!  That was one thing I did not miss when we moved to Texas!  Despite the harsh winters I have fond memories of Christmas and my childhood in New York.

With Christmas only three days away the girls are giddy about Christmas morning and their enthusiasm is contagious!  I find myself growing more excited each day!  This morning when I opened my e-mail I found one of my favorite stories that my Dad has told in an e-mail and I knew I wanted to share this special Christmas memory.  I called him up and asked if could share it on my blog and he agreed!  I hope you all enjoy this special story of the true spirit of Christmas.

“Mom had just bought an Omni-Horizon, maybe her first new car since Dad had died.  She had agreed to come to Valley Farm, where Dorothy and I were living, for Christmas.  This was before we were married, 1977 or 78, and we were pretty excited to have her.  We had the Kalamazoo woodstove to cook and heat up the kitchen, a woodstove in the living room and another woodstove in the basement.  Whew!  That house could sure enough get cold!  Dorothy had her Volksie and I was driving my 1949 GMC pick-up.

Christmas day was a frigid one!  When we woke up the mercury read just about 30 degrees below zero.  As usual, I got up early to stoke the stoves.  The Kalamazoo would go out at night and since that was the only heat we had in the kitchen, it needed to be lit.  It was a good Christmas morning we had at the farm!

Cyndi was living at Sun Canyon at the time, which was about 2 miles away, via the road.  Due to the recent inclement weather we had experienced, the roads were snow packed.  Our plan had been to go over to Cyndi’s house about 9 in the morning.  Well, my old pick had a 6-volt battery in it, almost guaranteed not to start in such cold temperatures.  Dorothy’s Volkswagon sure enough wouldn’t start on such a day, but Mom had her new Omni so I knew that we were in luck!

When it was time to go I went out to feed the animals and start Mom’s car.  Much to my dismay, the weather was too cold even for the Omni and I knew I would have to go break the news to the ladies.  They were disappointed to say the least, especially Mom.  I was feeling a little bad about it so I told them I would work on the vehicles and try to get something to start.  I knew I had a an ace in the hole so I went out.  I had Magnolia.

I went to the barn and harnessed up my old mule, Magnolia.  We just happened to have a single seat cutter and the snow packed roads were ripe for a sleigh ride.  I went in and told the girls that we had on running I just didn’t let on which vehicle it was.  I told them to bundle up, grabbed a couple of blankets and out we went.  My Mom, who did not really care for horses or mules, could not believe her eyes!  As soon as we got out on the road, Ol’ Maggie stepped up into a trot and away we went!

We got to celebrate Christmas at Cyndi’s after all, thanks to Magnolia!  Merry Christmas to all!!”

This story is told by my father, Tom Muratori.  Cyndi is his older sister and at the time they were living in a tiny town in the Adirondack Mountains, Athol, New York.  The story is true on all accounts!  This is such a perfect way to describe my Dad, with this story.  He is always willing to go above and beyond for his family!  I hope you enjoy this story and remember this and every year, the true spirit of Christmas!!

Why the consultation is my friend, and yours too!

I had a consultation today and on my way home I could not stop thinking about the shoot.  We developed so many great ideas and were able to share our vision about the style, poses, wardrobe and so much more!  When we parted ways, I felt I knew exactly what my client wanted.  That is, after all, the purpose of a consultation.

Scheduling a portrait session is a big commitment for both the client and the photographer!  Many clients want to include some lifestyle shots into their session or maybe their pets.  They might want the setting to be in their home.  Each and every client is different so their ideas for their pictures are unique as well.  I have found an hour to be sufficient for a consultation but again, each client is unique so more time may be needed in some situations.

If the client is scheduling an at home shoot and it is possible, head out to the home and check out the lighting, landscaping, décor and feel of the setting.  This would be a perfect opportunity to snap some test shots so you know you will ace the lighting.  When the day of the shoot arrives, the photographer can be confident she has brought the correct equipment for the conditions.

A consultation is also a great opportunity for the photographer to get to know the client on a more personal level.  It is imperative that they are comfortable around each other and feel they can relax.  A tense subject often does not photograph well!

The better prepared both the photographer and the client are on the day of the shoot, the smoother the session will go and the better the pictures will be.  I feel that a consultation is not only helpful, but necessary as well.  These consultations are so important in fact that I urge each client to schedule and attend one before scheduling the photo session.  I think you will be glad you did!

Poetry Tea Time

Poetry Tea Time

As I plodded through my public school education I had little interest in poetry even though I love to read and literature holds a special spot in my heart!  Learning the poets and what they wrote was tedious and boring and as a result, I remember very little about any of the poets or their writings.  When we first embarked on our journey to the homeschool planet, poetry was not something I put much thought into.  A few weeks into school, though, I found some neat poetry activities along with some easy poems to read.  The big girl is a reader already and she was able to read these poems with no help.  The little Monkey loved me to read them to her and then she recited them back to me.  It was nice and something we all enjoyed.  So, back to the books for me for some fun poetry ideas.

After quite a bit of research and soul searching I landed on the perfect way to incorporate poetry into our homeschool without losing us all to boredom, Poetry Tea Time!

That’s right! Poetry and a tea party!  The girls just LOVE our tea parties.  The big girl reads poems from her tablet or a poetry book while the little Monkey browses through some books on her reading level (generally not poetry but whatever gets her reading is fine with me)!


IMG_3689.jpgRight now we are using a book by Mary Ann Hoberman called “The Llama Who Had No Pajama”. The poems in this book are FUN and all about things kids LOVE! In town we have a nice little bookstore and I found this little gem while I was shopping for Christmas!IMG_5017

Poetry memorization is next!  The big girl has memorized one poem by Robert Louis Stevenson called “Bed in Summer”.  It was an easy poem for her and kind of fun!  She seems to really enjoy reading the poems and then talking out what the author may have been meaning.

We don’t always drink tea either.  Sometimes it’s hot chocolate, it might be milk, juice or whatever they want.  Tea is generally what they pick though and we have a nice little teapot for the table so we can have a proper tea party!  We truly do love our poetry tea parties!  They don’t happen every day but we strive for at least twice a week!  I would highly recommend this fun activity if you are struggling with a way to incorporate poetry into your children’s homeschool!

Our “school pictures”

When we started our homeschool journey, school pictures were the last thing on my mind.  One day I happened to see that the public school had pictures coming up!  I realized, with a gasp, I had not even considered what to do about pictures!

But, I was worried for no reason!  Along with the other benefits of homeschool, we are not bound by what we are offered at school.  The girls and I gathered up some props, picked out some cute clothes, waited for good light (in theory), and made a school picture day of it.  In all fairness, kinder and second had their own days for pictures.  More for my benefit than theirs!  The pictures were a success and thanks to Shutterfly, I have school pictures ordered and on the way.  The grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins will be pleased!

I was super excited to take the pictures for a myriad of reasons starting with the practice!  As a homeschool mom and wife/caregiver to a dialysis patient, I am always looking for the chance to practice!

I am happy with my props!  The fence is actually right in our front yard and the mountain in the background is a prop in itself!  The cute desk we used for some of the pictures was actually an antique store find from Mason, Texas.  My Mom picked it up for me for about $20!  The globe was a hand me down from my mother in law a few years ago.  I have moved that darn thing, packed it on shelves, tried hard to not to break it!  Finally, I have found it’s purpose, a photo prop.  It makes me a little sad that we don’t use it in school on a more regular basis but que sera.

The neat suitcase, I loved this one!  Rarely do I go into the thrift stores in town but I had a load of donations and the girls and I had some time to kill so we browsed around.  We were leaving, having found nothing of much interest when around the corner was the largest woman I had ever seen.  She had to have been 6’4″ at least.  She was wide and her hair was spiky and pink!  The girls were stunned!  She was admiring several suitcases clearly having a hard time making a choice.  My eyes were drawn to a vintage red suitcase.  She asked me what suitcase I thought she should get and I voted the red one.  Lucky for me she was putting that one back!  Before she could I snatched it up and $15 later, I was the happy owner of a vintage red suitcase.

I spent countless hours looking at poses, hair ideas, clothes, lighting, you name it!  I was determined to have nice pictures.  I shared my ideas with my models, I wanted them comfortable.  My big girl started out shy and demure but soon was picking her own poses and facial expressions.  Turns out, she loves it!  The little Monkey was animated and laughing the whole time we took pictures!  She really loves it!

I wanted to get some pictures of both girls with the horses.  Unfortunately, I did not have them in the pen or around on the day we did my big girl.  The Monkey have me some wonderful horse shots though.  We were in the field and the horses just came up to her and let us take some nice shots.


Thanks for stopping by!  Ranching Happiness Photography is ready to launch starting January 2016 and I am so excited for our new journey into the scary world of business ownership!  So much goes into the planning and implementing of a new business and I have been busy as a bee trying to make sure I am completely prepared to snap the most beautiful photographs imaginable.  There is such amazing technology out there and as we grow our business we will also add to our equipment making our capabilities even greater.

It is our mission to provide our customers with the highest quality products and photo sessions.  In order to accomplish this, we will continue to further our education and add quality props, backdrops and equipment to our business.  We can’t wait to grow our business with you and happy snapping!