I was catching up with my Dad on the phone the other day and he was recounting to me how he had gotten a nasty cold after visiting my brother’s family… again. It’s not surprising, my brother and his wife have three kids under the age of seven who all attend different schools and various activities and it always seems like at least one of them is sniffling or coughing during the cold and snowy winter months… And my parents definitely fall into the category of SUPER-grandparents, they are always very hands-on with the kids, often down on the floor playing with them, being human jungle-gyms and “horsies.” Frustrated to hear that my father was taken down yet again, I promised to send him a little care package with detailed instructions to help boost his immune system during future trips so that he could be Super-grandpa without ending up Super-sick after. And since I was already going to have to write all this out for my Dad, I decided it would be worth posting here too :-)

(That’s me, my brother, and my Dad back well before his Super-grandpa years…)

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Hannah’s Tips for Staying Healthy during the Winter Months :

1.) Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water and herbal teas. When it is cold and dry out, we don’t always “feel” thirsty, but we are very susceptible to becoming dehydrated. When we are dehydrated, bacteria and viruses can take up residence in our bodies. EXTRA CREDIT : Putting ConcenTrace Trace Minerals Drops in your water so that your body can absorb all that extra hydration you are taking in.

2.) Oil your nostrils. I know it sounds weird, but this was one of the easiest, most effective ways to avoid getting sick that I learned during the life-changing 9 Month Living Ayurveda class I took from my good friend Cate Stillman last winter. All you have to do is put a little oil (coconut or sesame could be a good place to start) on your two pinky fingers and rub it on the inside membranes of your nose. EXTRA CREDIT : Plugging one nostril and breathing in sharply and deeply through the other nostril to try to get the oil up into the membrane (and repeating on the other side.) My favorite oil to use is Cate’s Sinus Lube (because it has good herbs in it and smells nice :-)

3.) Boost your immune system by loading up on herbs when you are starting to feel the first signs of becoming run-down (or before you head down to spend the long weekend juggling small, snotty children.) There are a number of great options out there, my three favorites are : Wellness Formula, Paul Stamet’s MyCommunity Comprehensive Immune Support, and Kick-Ass Immune Activator. I prefer the liquid extracts and just put a dropper full in a small glass of water and shoot it. They also come in pill form if you prefer to take them that way. Jeff and I also found the Kick-Ass Immune Activator in a convenient little spray bottle which I was taking with me and squirting 6 sprays under my tongue periodically when I was fighting off a cold recently. If you don’t like the taste of these extracts you could put them into orange, or some other, juice to mask the flavor a bit, but I don’t find any of these too bad.

4.) There are also some great essential oil blends that help boost the immune system too. My personal favorite is doTERRA’s OnGuard formula. I just put a few drops in my big glasses of water and drink them throughout the day. You can also diffuse it into the air or rub it on the bottom of your (or your little ones’) feet. Best to dilute it with a carrier oil if you are gong to be putting it on your childrens’ sensitive skin and definitely test new-to-you oils cautiously when first using them to make sure that that they work for your body and constitution. Young Living also has an immune boosting blend call Thieves and I have friends who swear by it as well.

5.) Drink homemade ginger, honey, lemon tea like it is going out of style (or at least twice a day.) This was a recipe that I learned from my sweet, awesome, amazing, friend Lisa when she was staying with me a bunch of years back and has become my all-time favorite tea. You will need fresh Organic ginger root (fresh ginger root looks like a little stubby hand with extra fingers.) Ginger has become really popular in the past 5 years or so and should be relatively easy to find in most grocery stores. You will also need Raw Organic Honey (yes it is important to buy the high quality Organic stuff) and Organic lemons. First, peel the skin off the section of ginger that you are going to use with a vegetable peeler or a spoon works, then use a grater to make a small pile of ginger (I just have a little hand one that sits on the counter and looks like a mini-teepee.) Once you have your pile of ginger put it in a big mug, squeeze in some lemon, add a spoonful of honey, and fill the rest of the cup up with hot water. There is no set ratio, you can just add to taste, but generally I probably do 1-2 tbsp freshly grated ginger root, 1 tsp honey, and maybe half a lemon — it depends on how juicy the lemon is… To get a nice juicy lemon try to pick lemons that feels heavy for their size. I always pick up a bunch of them individually and bounce them up and down in my hand to compare their weights when I am picking lemons (or limes!) out at the grocery store. It makes a huge difference!

6.) Get lots of sleep (my favorite!) Often times our bodies can fight off a lot if we don’t push them to hard. I definitely take it easy if I feel myself starting to feel at all compromised. Who doesn’t love a good nap??? Or an excuse to read in the middle of the day??? It is also important to try to get to bed early so that you can let yourself sleep as long as you possibly can. (Which for me can sometimes be 10 or 11 hours straight if I am on the verge of coming down with something. I know, impressive right?) In winter, you might find that your body naturally craves more sleep anyway… it’s our time to hibernate and recharge so that we can take advantage of the long, summer days just around the corner.

7.) If I do come down with anything I reach for homeopathics. The science behind homeopathy is definitely a lot harder to wrap my head around, but all I can say is that I have had incredible results personally and I know a lot of friends and family that have as well. Boiron has two great formulas (Coldcalm for colds and Oscillococcinum for flus) that you can buy at most grocery stores now that cover the majority of common cold and flu symptoms all at once so that you don’t have to try to figure out which remedies to use. You can just follow the instructions on the box. I think it is 2 tablets under the tongue every 15 minutes for the first hour and then 2 tablets under your tongue every two hours after that until your symptoms are gone.

8.) Bonus super extract credit for the hardcore folks out there is to make a concoction of fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and turmeric to drink first thing in the morning. You can add as much or as little water as you like. I do not like the taste (or smell!) at all so I prefer to just add a little water and try to gulp it down as fast as possible. If you don’t mind the taste, you could drink it like a tea or in a larger glass with more water so the taste isn’t as overwhelming. This helps to create an alkaline environment in your body, as well as having a myriad of other health benefits including being immune boosting, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. (All disease states need or do best in an acidic internal body environment.)

Alright, I think that is all I’ve got for now.

 

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

P.S. For any moms out there that have small children like my brother and his wife do, my friend Cate has a two hour Healthier Kids workshop that I am sure would be well worth the $35 investment. Her site Yogahealer.com is an incredible resource all around and has tons of great free information on health and wellness.

P.P.S. Gargling sea salt in warm water is another easy fix that I forgot to mention if you find yourself with a sore throat!

P.P.P.S. Also, I just had a tip shared on Facebook from a friend in response to this post that black elderberry syrup can be very effective in shortening the duration of a flu or used as a daily immune booster. She also mentioned that mustard/Epson salt baths can be amazing if you are on the verge of sickness.

Ah blogging… it is always such a struggle for me to make time to keep up with posting new work! This is going to be a short one, but I just wanted to share my gorgeous 10 page feature in Rocky Mountain Bride magazine that will be hitting newsstands later this month. It really was a treat to get to collaborate with this talented group of vendors on such a fresh and creative shoot!

You can check out the whole online version of the magazine here : Rocky Mountain Bride Regional V1.

Here are the screenshots of our feature. I can not wait to get my hands on a printed copy. There is nothing better than seeing your photographs in print (that goes for regular prints, albums etc. too!) Nothing compares to being to hold a print or album or magazine in your hands or enjoy it on your wall… or really anywhere besides on a computer or iPad screen!

The Team : Rocky Mountain Bride MagazineSpring Creek RanchSimply Grand EventsFleur de V, Hunter Gatherer, Everything but the Dress, Bird and Buffalo, Greta Eagan.

 

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Hannah_Hardaway_Photography_Rocky_Mountain_Bride_Feature_Page_10-11Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

 

There seems to be a stillness in the air this week as Christmas has past and we anxiously await the festivities of New Year’s Eve. I have been reveling in this stillness and using the little extra spaciousness that I feel in my days to refine what it is that I am eager to focus on in the coming year.

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The first thing I knew for sure when I was thinking about my intentions was that being the driven (perhaps overly driven at times,) planning-obsessed person that I am, I was not interested in producing a bunch of rigid, number driven goals that would weigh me down with more ideas of what I felt like I needed to accomplish in the coming year. Instead, I wanted my intentions for 2016 to be more “ways of being.” Guidelines in a sense, that didn’t require any progress tracking and that I felt like no matter how well I embodied these “guidelines” yesterday, last week, or last month, I could get up each new day, re-set my intentions, and just do my best.

Here they are :

1. Be Present.

It sounds simple but being fully present and relishing in the moment is a lot harder than you might think. Often times we think we are fully present when in reality our mind is off rehearsing our to-do list, or fixating on something that happened earlier that day, or even daydreaming about the future. A few tactics that I keep coming back to that I have found help me to be more present are :

  • Breathing. As many times a day as I can think of it, I just keep coming back to my breath and taking big, slow, deep breaths. Try it, it feels amazing… calming, relaxing, and invigorating all at the same time.
  • The second tactic that I use to be truly present is to focus on my senses (how smooth the water feels on my skin when I am washing my hands or how warm the laundry that I am folding feels when I take it straight out of the dryer.) I also try to be really aware of what might be bothering me if I am at all uncomfortable or start to feel a little irritated and I try to take care of it immediately. Often times, it is a simple fix–stepping closer to the sink when I am washing dishes so my back isn’t strained or taking a moment to stop and swing my arms to warm up my hands when I am out skiing on a frigid day. Or just taking a break to eat or drink something if I have been lost in editing or computer land for hours on end.
  • And thirdly, I try to just delight in the little things. The beautiful weather outside, a sweet note at my post office box from a friend, a chance to snuggle up on the couch.

2. Infuse more joy into my day-to-day existence.

I have been trying to incorporate more joy, fun, treats etc. into my everyday. Basically just taking time to nourish myself, just because. Sometimes that is as simple as making myself a cup of tea in the evening or setting aside a few hours to work on an art project I have been wanting to do. I am also making it a priority to schedule in personal time not just on weekends, or on vacation, but in little snippets on lots of days. Going to get a pedicure with a girl friend, taking myself out to lunch, or spending a couple of hours browsing at the library or bookstore.

3. Think small.

I touched on this one in my last post, but I have a tendency to want to do everything to the extreme. It is easier for me to take a whole day off from work than it is to just take a half hour after lunch to sit and read a magazine. Or if I think about traveling, instead of trying to squeeze in a long weekend trip or a week long vacation, I want to go away for 2 months. When I think about doing a project with some of my personal photos, I feel like I need to go through every photo from my whole career rather than just creating a little book or display with some of my recent favorites. And the problem with that is, that when I can’t pull off the big version of what I want to do, I often end up not doing anything at all. So in 2016 I am going to try to focus more on thinking small… mini-trips, mini-work breaks, mini-projects, and mini-indulgences.

What do you want to focus on in 2016?

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

P.S. Photo above of me dipping my feet in the ocean was taken by my talented photographer friend Tom Robertson on our epic month-long bike touring adventure on the north island of New Zealand a few years back.

The Teton mountain range in the winter covered in snow.I had a plan for yesterday. My plan was to take time to pause and reflect on my last year and really think deeply about what it is that I want to cultivate in the year to come. Great plan. But at about noon, I found myself still plugging away at work on the computer and finding it harder and harder to pull away (a common predicament that I find myself in as I really do love my work and I… ALWAYS… JUST… WANT… TO… GET… ONE… MORE… THING… DONE… and as you know there is ALWAYS more to get done.)

Luckily, I have a handsome husband to gently prod me in the right direction. So I left my work unfinished and we headed out for a quick hot chocolate/bagel date (he often bribes me with food) and to hike Teton pass for some powder turns. He sold me on the idea of ditching work to go skiing with the promise of hot chocolate and by pointing out that we would have lots of time to think and reflect on the long hike up. In retrospect, I can’t say I had any revelations on the hike up as it is a 45 minute to an hour hike pretty much straight up in ski boots where much of my focus is usually taken up with just thinking about putting one foot in front of the other (basically like being on a StairMaster made out of snow and set to the most difficult setting.) But it felt amazing to be outside and we had untracked powder turns the whole way back down to our truck. Powder turns are always good for morale ;-) And I made it home just in time to turn around and head into town to the winter solstice workshop I had signed up for at my favorite local yoga studio Akasha Yoga.

The winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year, meaning every day from here on out until the summer solstice the days will be getting longer (Hooray! More light!) It is also a very potent time to go inward and dig around a bit. To think about the things in your life that are serving you and perhaps identify some parts that are not too. At the tail end of my busiest year in my photography business ever, and just when I am finally coming back up for air after a whirlwind few weeks of holiday orders and last minute portrait shoots, I initially thought back over the past year and all I could remember was work. Work, work, work. Fun and inspiring work for sure, but for one of the first times since probably high school I haven’t gone on any long extended travel trips…. And I LOVE to travel. I am the type of person who remembers the different years of my life by what big trip or trips I went on that year, and here I was, a year without any extended travel. But when I pulled out my 2015 calendar I saw lots of little trips, workshops, great music, festivals, and visits with my family and friends scribbled in the boxes as I flipped through the months (Yes, I am still a fan of good old paper and pencil ;-) And as I shifted my thinking and focused on what I had gotten to do over the past year, I could feel myself filling up with gratitude and all the sudden my 2015 was looking and feeling pretty darn good.

So here’s to a great 2015 and bright year ahead. I’ll let you know in my next post what I decided yesterday that I am going to be focusing on in the coming year between my hot chocolate/bagel date, skiing and solstice yoga class :-)

 

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

 

1. Switch up your music. Who says you can’t use non traditional recessional music? Maybe incorporate a live music performance during the program. Select songs that mean something to you — music that you play when you are dancing in your kitchen making a romantic dinner together, a song from the concert you went to on your first date, a song you wrote for him, a mash-up of all the songs that you two can’t resist singing loudly together in your car. Don’t question if your music is wedding appropriate, if it gets you excited, makes you smile, or causes emotions to well up inside of you it is.

2. Use an unconventional seating layout. Situate your guests in a circle with you two in the middle (like my dear friends Brad and Becks did below!) Think round, arc shaped, unique chairs, benches, hay bales… anything that suits your style. And don’t be afraid to mix all your friends and family together (I love those cute little signs you see now “Pick a seat, not a side,” or “We are all family now, sit wherever you would like.”

Have your guests seated in a circle and get married in the middle!

3. Rethink the bouquet. Have each bridesmaid have a bouquet of their favorite flower or just different flowers and yours could be a combination of all of them. Gather flowers from your own garden and make your own bouquet… or use wildflowers! Have your bridesmaids carry balloons. The options are really endless. I love this idea from a bride of mine a couple of summers ago Lauran :

“Instead of a bouquet, I really wanted to carry a prayer book that was given to my dad during his christening (in 1966!,) so we created a special arrangement to sit on top of the prayer book to match the bridesmaid’s bouquets and I carried that down the aisle. I also realized that I really wanted something that I wouldn’t have to put down (or keep track of!) during the reception so we also had the flowers on the book designed to convert into a corsage for the reception.”

So original!

Unique bridal bouquet idea. An arrangement on top of a bible or prayer book that converts into a corsage for the receptions. Photo by Hannah Hardaway Photography www.hannahhardawayphoto.com

4. Mix it up with the ring bearer. One of my favorite ideas that I have seen was someone in one of the couple’s families had an antique bell collection and each of their ring bearers (I think there were like 5 or 6!) carried an antique hand bell and rang it as they walked down the aisle (you can see one of the cuties below :-) I also photographed a wedding where the bride and groom were really into fishing and made their ring bearer a handmade fishing pole to carry with a plastic fish hanging from it and attached the rings to the fish in a small bag (Disclaimer : this couple did actually attach the rings to the fish and at some point before the ceremony while the little boy was playing with the rod the rings fell off which made for a little added pre-ceremony excitement as we all scoured the ground searching for the little bag of rings! We did find them before too long, but you might want to consider having the best man just hold onto the actual rings!) A lot of brides are also incorporating fun signs for their “ring bearers” to carry now with a personal message to the groom or simply saying some form of “Here comes the bride!” You could also have your dog or cat or pig or goat walk down the aisle with the rings :-)

Unique wedding ideas : Have your ring bearers actually ring bells. Photo : Hannah Hardaway Photography www.hannahhardawayphoto.com

5. Pick the date or start time of your ceremony to correspond with something significant in your relationship — the anniversary of your first date together, the exact time of day he (or she!) proposed, the same month/day your grandparents tied the knot.

6. Serve a signature drink or a special treat as your guests arrive — who doesn’t get excited about yummy home-made baked goods or a refreshing cold beverage on a hot summer day??? Maybe even enlist a young family member to create an actual little lemonade stand complete with handmade signs :-) You can also make your “favors” be a gift that will keep your guests comfortable (a parasol or hand-fan if it is hot and sunny, a wrap or hand warmers if it is fall or winter.)

Fun Wedding Idea -- A lavendar lemonade stand to greet your guests with at your wedding ceremony. Photo by : Hannah Hardaway Photography

7. Personalize your programs. Include a lyric or special quote that you two love. Brainstorm a unique way to include information about your wedding party and your connection/relationship to each of them and display it in a fun drawing or graphical representation. Share with people why the place you chose to get married is so important to you both. Include your new contact info on the back if the two of you are moving in together or relocating to a new home. One of my favorite program ideas that I have seen was when my bride Jaimie had XOWYO print her ceremony details on kraft paper bags that held dried lavender petals for the guests to throw when she and Miles walked back down the aisle after the ceremony. (You can see Jaimie and Miles’ cool invitations and programs on their Oh So Beautiful Paper feature and other photos from their stunning wedding–like walking back down the aisle getting pelted by the lavender flowers–on their Artfully Wed Feature.) Other brilliant ideas I have heard of couples doing is including a crossword puzzle on the back of the program to keep their guests entertained with fun nuggets of info about the two of them while they were awaiting the main event (the couple took it a step further and provided the answer key to all the questions about the couple at the guests’ place settings too!) I have even seen a couple’s program that was designed in the shape of those origami paper fortune teller games that we used to make in junior high school!!! People are so creative I am just constantly astounded by what they come up with!!!

8. Create a focal point to get married in front of. Build and/or decorate an arch, pillars, gazebo, canopy or chuppah for the two of you to stand in front of. If you are inside maybe it is just a window or even a blank wall that you can transform however you want. Outside it could simply be a big beautiful tree that you hang streamers or lanterns or mini-terrariums from or two tall free-standing ladders with a third ladder laid across the top in the middle of field. The options really are endless here. After doing a quick little search I found everything from an arch constructed completely out of books to a couple that made huge letters spelling “Best Day Ever” that they hung from the ceiling above where they exchanged their vows.

Flower and antler wedding ceremon decoration at Snake River Sporting Club. Photo by : Hannah Hardaway Photography www.hannahhardawayphoto.com

9. Write a note or leave a small gift on special guests’ chairs at the ceremony for them to find once they take their seat (or a photo or flower or handkerchief or…) This could be for your parents, grandparents, the person who introduced you two, anyone who you want to give a little extra love.

10. Have a fun recessional. Give you guests explosive confetti poppers, colorful mini pom-poms (those super soft ones you always see at the craft stores,) or paper airplanes (that they can write well wishes on!) to throw as the two of you walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. Or if you need environmentally friendly ideas (ie aren’t someplace where you can easily delegate someone to clean the mess up after) you could use rose petals, wildflower seeds, or dried leaves (which would be sweet for a gorgeous fall wedding.) Bubbles, bird seed, and kazoos are also great ideas. Other creative ideas I have heard of are mini beach balls for an ocean side wedding, theatre popcorn if you are movie lovers, or cheer poms for guests to wave if you are die-hard sports enthusiasts. If you choose something that is easy to pick back up after, you could also make it a contest for all the children at the wedding to clean it up as fast as they can and have a prize for whoever picks up the most (anything can be made into a game with a little ingenuity right?)

Did that get the creative juices flowing? I hope so. Can’t wait to see what you come up with :-)

 

Hannah Hardaway Wedding Photographer

 

 

 

P.S. Be sure to check out parts one and two of my blog series on crafting a meaningful ceremony — Part One : Arguments against a Five Minute Ceremony and Part Two : Unbeatable Ways to Personalize your Wedding Ceremony.