Photography: Easter Chicks + Dirt Pie

This year for Easter, I had to pleasure of going to Ian’s Uncle’s farm. They even arranged an egg hunt for the little ones. He has raises horses, and they also have chickens and guinea hens on the farm!

Here are some of my shots for the day!





I made this chocolate cream dirt pie to bring. It’s a pre-made chocolate graham cracker crust filled with two boxes of chocolate pudding, and also some chocolate chip “rocks”. Then we topped it with crushed oreos. There were supposed to be gummy worms inside, but we forgot them! I piped some green grass icing, and some pink and purple flowers, then plopped on an Easter bunny for good measure.

I hope everyone had a lovely Easter!

I have some nature photography shots to share with you next time! This blog is taking a turn down the Photography road. It’s something I’ve always been interested in, and I’m very happy to share these with you.  All photos © Dara Hopkins 2013.  :)


Photos I’ve Been Meaning to Share

Clever Name right?

These are photos that have sitting on my camera that I’ve been meaning to post either to Flickr or to this blog for various reasons. Well, now I’m posting them all at once. They range from August 2012 – March 2013. I hope to share more of my Photography up here as well.

I attempted to take a photo of myself during a make-up trial. This was too “Princess” but something about this photo kept me from deleting it.


Eagerly awaiting the RSVPs for our wedding…. This was the first batch to arrive!  Can you believe I’ve been married for 4 months?


Christmas 2013

Image Image

My mother made Ian and my sister’s Fiance stockings  :)


His name is Spot. He lives in the crack in our basement floor. No joke. He’s our “pet”  :)


My lovely husband posing for his portrait.


All Photos on this blog belong to Dara Hopkins © 2009-2013 -Please do not steal, or use without permission.  :)

You Wanna See Wedding Photos??

I’m sorry i’ve been M.I.A. lately… it’s pretty obvious what i’ve been up to!!  I’m the new member of my husbands family haha. Not sharing new last name. you understand right??  I’m a wife though! How crazy is that?? Anyway.. onto the pics! Some are professional, some are guest photos!

i made all of the decor, programs, and the cake topper! :) We DJ-ed the reception ourselves and everyone pitched in to help us make it such a great day!


How we decided NOT to have a backyard wedding

After much letdowns with animal heads mounted on the walls of prospective venues, we were  I was, beginning to go through some rough times. We tried a couple of venue searches on weddingwire, weddingbee, theknot among others. I proceeded to whine… a lot:

“We’re never going to find anything we like!”

“But I don’t want a golf course or a banquet hall!”

“Our backyard isn’t finished yet!”

We thought very seriously about having the reception in the backyard of our new house. The backyard is a disgrace. We don’t have anything back there. Oh wait, we have some sticks, some logs, some pieces of an old stove, an eyesore of a shed, and LOTS of rocks and pricker bushes. Oh, and some dead trees… can’t forget those. The backyard was not really our main concern. Having a clean house that is liveable was. So when the prospect of 120 people in our “backyard” was talked about, we both panicked a smidgen. I began frantically researching tent companies, heaters (since it’s October) and even portable restrooms! The cost was up to about $2,500 before we even added in food, linens and decor. We didn’t even have a caterer at that point. We both gave up and put some hard thought in to this.

Could we really get the backyard ready for a WEDDING in five months? It isn’t even ready for a birthday party! Not even for a BBQ in its current state…. It’s been neglected for the past ten years (we’ve only owned it for one).

We decided that no, we could not do this. We wanted to, but we just couldn’t pull it off AND get the inside ready to be lived in. Some of the rooms didn’t even have floors! Defeated, we bit the bullet and began researching venues once again. Ian had known about the Warwick Center for quite some time and after being told by another winery, “I’m sorry our packages start at $8,000 without food, tax or tip, we just can’t help you”, we decided to look into it.

We made a date to look at the Warwick Center right before Christmas. We were not wowed by it’s interior, but #1, we could afford it, #2, it was practically across the street from the winery AND had the same view off the huge patio! (Take that winery!) We called them back the day after our tour, asked if our date was available. The lady in charge, said yes! :)  Shortly after we booked the church for the same date. I know it’s supposed to be church, first, but we were overly excited. It came with tables and chairs (luckily) but everything else, we bring in. Cups, Plates, decor, napkins, table linens, food, bar and all that. We got to hand-pick our vendors though, so it worked out perfectly (or it seems like it will)… we’ll find out in 72 days…


Where To Start When Boxing Up Your Life?

I’ve been thinking lately, when should I start packing for my “big move?” How big is this big move? Ian and I live about an hour away from each other, and our new home is about five minutes from his current home- so about an hour. “That’s not that big,” some people might say, but when it really comes down to it, any move is a big move.

In October, after our wedding, I will be making my first move ever. I’ve never lived in an apartment with friends,  I’ve never dormed at college, or even lived abroad. This is my first move, making it my “big move!”

I’ve thought about where to start…. furniture? Well there are things piled on top of the furniture! Things I need in these last few months, should I put them on the floor after moving out my desk or table? That doesn’t seem smart! Should I rent out a self storage place? I could visit it each day, and then have my whole unit moved over in one lump! I thought about boxing up my bathroom first – shower items that I haven’t used in years but I SWEAR that I’ll use someday…

A co-worker of mine gave me a Wardrobe packing box. I was surprised how awesomely inventive this thing is. I was grateful to receive it, and I’m looking forward to hanging my clothes on the metal bar, and transporting them easily (hopefully) to the closet in our new home. That’s a new thing, too: OUR closet. I’ve only shared a closet with my sister. That wasn’t too bad. We each had a side and a shelf, and half of the top shelf. I wonder if it’ll be the same here….

Where did you begin while packing up your life?

How was it living with your significant other for the first time?

Rolled Paper Flower Tutorial using Book Pages!


Aside from flowers, we wanted something really interesting on our tables for the wedding. We’re using banquet tables, so they are long and rectangular. Therefore, one centerpiece doesn’t really work! We need a line of centerpieces. We have a tall stack of books with flowers for the center, and needed something else on the sides. We’re both into old books, Ian more than myself actually, so I set out to make some book paper flowers!

I came across a few different sites explaining how to make paper flowers. I tried the crumbling method, but rolling is just so much cleaner (and easier).  I took some tips from many different sites, and experimented a little, and figured out which method worked best for me. Then, I took some photos and compiled it into (what I hope is) an easy to follow tutorial!

Let me know if it’s confusing, or if it works for you! I’d love to see your results!




I also have a vintage jar tutorial Waiting in the wings.  :) See the one in the last photo? It used to be clear!

Stay tuned for my next tutorial. How to paint clear jars to make them look the faux vintage blue color!

Engaged? Yeah like 8 months ago

Last Saturday, we met with my friend Alex who is a brilliant photographer. We discussed possibly shooting our wedding photos, and she shot some engagement photos as well. We were at Ringwood Manor in Ringwood, NJ.

For those who care to see:

All Photos © Alexandra Somma Photography


Anyone have a chill pill I could borrow?

So, I’m stressing. I’m awake most nights dreaming of what people’s faces will look like when they open up our wedding invitations. Will they see all the work that went into it? Will they notice the color change from one line to another? Probably not, and yet, I am consumed with these thoughts.

Will the guests notice the varying shades of purples in the centerpieces? Will they care that I opted for a dried flower bouquet instead of fresh? Does this make me look cheap? Will they say that my dress was made for me? or will they think “she could’ve done better”. At the end of the night after everyone has said, “it was beautiful, thank you , everything was lovely,” will they head back to their cars and start discussing the details they didn’t like, or didn’t quite understand?

I know that I can’t please everyone. I know that my guests will be fed, be able to hear themselves over the music, be able to dance, and drink to their hearts content. Which are the major things. What I really want is a conversation wedding. No, not like a wedding they’ll talk about for years to come. Conversation, as in a big “get-together”. Where everyone chats and has a glass of wine with new family members. I’m tired of the big dance party wedding scene. It was never my deal, and luckily I fell in love with someone who shares the same hatred for Katy Perry and Flo-Rida  as me (is that even how you spell it?)..  We want a laid back, casual conversation wedding. Everyone we love in one room, just “hanging out” with awesome music near the dance floor for those who want to dance with me to Billy Idol and Blondie.  :)

I keep telling myself that we are on the right track, but sometimes when pen hits paper, I feel otherwise! This is going to sound stupid, but I never realized how much a wedding can really stress a person out. I thought I could be stronger than this party. I’ve heard people say that they hated the planning process, and were tempted to elope. I really didn’t want that to be me! I’ve been trying really hard to remain calm, yet focused, throughout this crazy planning process.

Well, it turns out that I am even more insane then I thought. Being an insecure perfectionist is hard enough, but I must now plan a wedding for 120 people. It’s a wedding to celebrate Ian and I, yes, but everywhere I turn, it always comes back to the guests. Yes, people are traveling far. Yes, people are bringing some sort of gift. Of course I want them to have a good time. Can we accomplish this without Lady Gaga, gold chandeliers, silver bells, and a horse and carriage? I sure as hell hope so. And that’s what we’re trying for.

This is my big ol’ list of Done, Must Do, and Where the Heck Do I Start:

  • Got my Dress! I have a 2nd alterations appointment aug 2nd
  • Shoes- I bought one pair and then had second thoughts. So bought another pair. Second pair was from a scam company…. luckily i got my refund. 1st shoes were meant to be I guess.
  • Reception venue- booked… now we need to decorate
  • Ceremony Location- Church booked.. we just need to have another meeting with the priest and choose our readings/readers.
  • We got our invites printed- Vistaprint was okay. I designed them, so I’m being overly sensitive about them.
  • I began assembling the centerpieces (but i still need some major components). I was up until 1am last night folding paper flowers….
  • I figured out for the most part how I want my hair and Makeup (but that changes daily)
  • Got a makeup artist at least… makeup trial Aug 1st
  • Got the RSVPs- they came out well. I’m glad something worked out!
  • I have addressed 90% of the envelopes.. and then I ran out of envelopes! (typewriters are very unforgiving…)
  • the bridesmaid dresses are ordered and 2 out of the 3 have arrived!
  • I bought fabric and embellishments for my veil (but i don’t know what kind of veil i want anymore!)
  • we had our engagement photoshoot/ photographer interview – we still need to decide if she’ll be shooting out wedding or not
  •  Caterer -DONE, we had our tasting are are SO pleased! He’s making the cake too… so that’s helpful
  •  I have ideas about ceremony decor, and bouquets…. but nothing has been made/ordered
  • we ordered linens for the tables (napkins, tablecovers).. fingers crossed that they look good when they arrive..
  • Assembled most of the favors.. needs more work!
  • Called a few limo places… Had them explain to me why I need something bigger and more grand with a red carpet and champagne toast. Just get me to the darn church. that’s all i really want! Sigh….

And at this point the “wedding books” tell me I should have A LOT more done. Not much is done really. My dress is being altered, most of our decor is in some state of assembly, and our invites won’t go out until next week. Our guest list isn’t even really finalized!

So there you have it. This is what I’ve been up to. We have vacation next week.. I’m pretty sure I’ll be bringing some of my wedding stress to Massachusetts, but I’m going to try to keep it to a carry-on size.

If you read all of this, thank you. I was writing it just for you.  :)

P.S.- If I sound whiny, it’s because I am. It’s 9am, and I need to eat my greek yogurt.

Good News! Another wedding :)

Before i get to the news, I just want to say WOW!
My family planned and perfectly executed a surprise engagement party for Ian and I on March 10th. I had no idea! My dad’s birthday is the 11th, so I was told to show up for HIS surprise party. It was well done! All of my family was there and Ian’s family. We feel so blessed to have everyone there for us. It was surreal having my aunt siting next to his uncle telling a story to my best friend and her boyfriend. It was just insane. That was the word of that day, “this is insane”.  :)

Thank you everyone. <3

Okay, on to the News!

My older sister, April and her wonderful boyfriend, Danny are newly ENGAGED! It happened March 15th in their apartment just like they both had imagined. (her ring is gorgeous btw).  :)

We’re so happy for her. She’s my Maid of Honor and also the Maid of Honor in another wedding 3 weeks before mine! She’s got a lot on her plate for sure. I’m her Maid of Honor, yay! :) I’m super excited for them. Super super excited!

April is a teacher, so they are thinking about a Summer 2013 wedding to fit around Summer vacation. :)