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Emerson’s First Nutcracker | Nutcracker at the Castle – Paine Art Center and Gardens

Our mommy daughter date took place last January at the Paine Art Center and Gardens. The Valley Academy of the Arts showcases its gorgeous dancers in this production of the Nutcracker – which is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before…

Emerson just loved the Cupcake Fairy and danced with her for song after song! After the tour and performances Emerson got to choose her very own pink and white nutcracker to take home. Once she got her hands on it she held it like a baby and kept saying “my very first nutcracker” over and over again. Which of course melted my heart with pride.

Emerson is now taking dance at the Valley Academy of the Arts and might actually star in a Nutcracker performance of her own someday!

Enjoy a little glimpse in our lives today as you view some photos from Emerson’s first time seeing the Nutcracker.

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Shows are still running! Here is a link to get tickets!
Nutcracker in the Castle


M2057 by Maria Pinto | Fashion at the Paine Art Center and Gardens

A rainy day in April at the Paine Art Center and Gardens set the stage for a chic fashion event in its new conservatory. Featuring Chicago-based fashion designer Maria Pinto, known for her iconic fashions for First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey. The event included a delicious luncheon, an onstage interview with Maria and a runway show of Maria’s new M2057 Collection. Afterward, guests visited with Maria backstage and got a closer look at her collection and even tried on various pieces.


0001_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140002_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140004_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140005_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140006_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140003_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140007_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140010_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140023_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140012_M2057PaineArtCenter_042214Maria has a fondness for artisans and sees art (and it’s makers) as an important part of today’s culture. I personally was inspired by her vision to create the M2057 line – clothing line inspired by technology with a fit for every woman. She also told me about one of her inspirational figures, Madeleine Vionnet, who invented the bias cut in France in the 1920’s. Another gifted artist, Chef Peter Kuenzi of Zuppas, created a menu to delight our eyes and palettes.

  • First course: Plated cheese selection of Huntsman, St. Andre & Sharp White Cheddar with baguettes and red and green grapes.
  • Entree: A salad of grilled chicken breast on a bed of mixed baby kale, blood oranges, pomegranate, feta cheese, pine nuts and a citrus vinaigrette.
  • Dessert: Mango sabayon layered with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

0013_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140014_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140015_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140016_M2057PaineArtCenter_0422140024_M2057PaineArtCenter_042214The energy in the room during the runway show was electric. The 100+ audience members applauded their favorite fashions while discussing between themselves what ensembles they were most interested in trying on backstage.


Backstage, models helped described the fit of the designs they were wearing while guests of the show found their favorites to try on. It was amazing to see how the designs looked on everyone and how truly versatile the different designs were on different bodies. I think the entire experience of being able to try on a designer garment in the presence of the maker is a once in a lifetime experience. I definitely got in on the action! I tried on the Isabella, Franca and the Caress. With help from Maria I chose the Isabella in Midnight Blue! The collar is to die for and the fabric is stunning. I cannot wait to wear this dress to weddings I will be photographing this summer!

M2057 – Mara Pinto
Lead Sponsor – JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts
Catering – Zuppas Market, Café and Catering
Floral – House of Flowers
Light and Sound – Fantasia Mobile Sound and Lighting
Event Coordination – Paine Art Center and Gardens
Rentals: BBJ Linen and Modern Rentals
Models – Erika’s Bridal Coture, Miss Oshkosh Pageant, and First Choice Modeling Agency
Hair and Makeup – Trillium Salon



Maria used the website Kickstarter to raise equity for her line – M2057. There is nothing that I admire more than a creative savvy business woman. To read more about how Kickstarter helps raise funds for people in the creative industry visit their page explaining seven things to know about Kickstarter. Play the video below to hear how Maria launched M2057 through the Kickstarter program.

Extreme Makeover Home Edition – A few more…

I know by now this is old news… but I really wanted to share some final images of our crazy week. The night security left we were a bit sad… Drew and Andy made friends with our night watchman named Carl. A guy from CA who’s dream is to start a Boys Home – Carl we wish you the best of luck with you endeavor.

Things are much quieter around here. I’d say back to normal. The residents that had damage to their property already have new lawns or seed. The family seems to be enjoying their home… although they’ll need to keep their blinds shut until the show airs in October. The traffic is low… maybe I run into one slow driving rubber-necker on the way down the street.

We are happy and proud to have been part of this event. I have more shots… but will probably wait to post any until after the air-date…

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

If you lived on the block you got a special tag to wear and one for your vehicle. Leaving home was not easy for the residents in the 700 block of Elm Street. Not only were they barricaded in, but they also had to deal with the crowds creeping on their private property, lights blaring at night, 24 hours of zooming golf cars and the sounds of constant construction.

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Volunteers had to sign in at Shattuck Middle School. This friendly woman from Community First organized all the volunteer’s contracts.

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Neenah

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

These weary volunteers just got done laying all the cork flooring in the home.

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Lock and Key Productions “gas man” – this guy drove all around making sure the generators and all the vehicles had enough gas for the week.

Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Neenah

Landscaping staged on Laudan…

Extreme Makeover Home Edition - Neenah

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Furniture staged waiting to be placed on Reed St.

Extremem Makeover Home Edition Neenah - August 2010

Looks like they got fixtures from Kohler – yet another Wisconsin based company.

Class of 2010

I have been a bad blogger over the last month or so! But I’ve been a very good photographer and order-filler!!! Boy am I busy this time of year.

I recently prepared Beth’s images and really wanted to share them all with you. I had a blast photographing all the high school seniors from Xavier, Appleton East/West/North and Winneconne last summer.

Here are just a few of my favorites from Beth’s session…

To see more from Beth’s session and more of my 2010 Fox Cities High School Senior Pictures become a fan of Ardent Photography on Facebook!

Father’s Day Post – a bit late….

Happy Father’s Day!!! To my dad, my father-in-law and my awesome, amazing husband!

Last weekend was a busy time… engagement sessions, wedding and home projects.
Here are some photos from our point and shoot camera…

In daddy’s shoes… sooooo cute!

Fun Fact Friday – get your diamond cleaned

Fact: Dirty rings just wont sparkle.
Make sure you have your rings professionally cleaned for their “close-up”…

It is amazing how many ring shots I do and the engagement ring is significantly less sparkly than the wedding band. Ladies, I’m sure the last thing on your mind the week of your wedding is getting your diamond cleaned. But it does make a difference in the macro photos I soooo love to take at every event.

It isn’t that you are a dirty girl 😉 It is just that your normal everyday wear of your ring will get it a little grimy. Just think of the oils in our skin or our many beauty products.

You can invest in a ultrasonic cleaner for at home cleaning… this sort of cleaner combines ultrasonic waves and a special solution to remove all the grime. But after doing a bit of research online this may not be the best answer… According to www.diamondvues.com you can buy a simple isopropyl alcohol rubbing alcohol. Let your ring soak for a few minutes, then scrub with a brush then drop back in for another short scrub.


Do you get your diamond in for a regular cleaning? How about maitenance to check the prongs?

video of me trying to win a scholarship…

Wisconsin Hillbilly (to the tune of The Beverly Hillbillies) on 12seconds.tv

Gene Higa and Jose Villa – both exceptional wedding photographers are hosting a workshop in Tuscany, Italy. They are having a contest to win a chance to attend the workshop… you need to submit a 12 second video and you need to be creative, funny and tell them why you deserve to win! All in 12 seconds!!! You never realize how short that really is until you give it a try.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they like my off key singing!

Meet Nellie

Meet Nellie. My mom and dad’s newest little puppy. She is a King Cavalier Spaniel. As Tyra Banks would say… she has a bit of “ugly” to offset her “cute”.

They named her Patronella after my great-grandmother. So Nellie for short. Such a perfect name.

The chair is a Northwoods roadside find… as Andy and I were driving up north, about 10min away from the cottage I spotted this Ardent blue chair. The sign said free. It is just perfect!!! Expect to see some upcoming sessions with this chair.

Behind the scenes – destination Punta Cana

Last week I returned from an amazing destination wedding in Punta Cana. My clients Robin and Justin from Kaukauna decided to say their vows on the beautiful, private and (most of all) warm beach-side rotunda in the Caribbean.

I was accompanied by Miranda Zynda-Kneeland of Reminisce Photography and Design and we worked well as a team creating an abundance of beautiful shots for the couple.

Contrary to what most people may think, a destination wedding is not a vacation for the photographers. We actually do a lot of work prepping, packing, traveling, getting through customs, scouting, shooting, archiving and more! Oh, but don’t get me wrong… I love shooting weddings and to shoot a wedding in a tropical location was definitely top on my list. We did have a ton of fun and got some drop dead gorgeous images… but we also did a lot of work.

Here is a quick look behind scenes…

Miranda carefully arranging the straps on the dress.

Shooting in the resort’s spa…

Shooting on the ground of the Bavaro Princes… we had 90+ acres to work with!

Trying out my new fisheye lens… Miranda and I had a blast with the Ever After Session on the beach

The color of the water was the most beautiful I’ve ever seen!

Full blog post coming soon!

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