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beauty as an inside job

Lake Superior Barn Retreat 2015

Ever since hosting our 10-year anniversary crafting retreat at Lake Superior Barn, I have had the desire to go bigger. Unfortunately, all of the locations that interested me had longstanding groups locked in. So I let the idea go. Until two friends gave up their spot at The Trails Retreat last February and Beautiful Girl 2018 was born!

beautiful girl 2018 retreat

But it’s really much more than that. The idea for an entire series of girl-themed retreats was born. I began with Beautiful Girl because beauty is something most women struggle with at one time or another. We are inundated with messages about what defines beauty and are promised that if we only lose a few pounds, get in shape, have surgery, use the right makeup, avoid certain foods, or purchase the perfect pair of jeans we will finally have what we are looking for.

But those messages are rooted in perfectionism and stir up nothing but continual dissatisfaction. I learned this the hard way with my eating disorder a long time ago.

While there are things that we can do to care for these lovely vessels, the key to contentment is learning the value of true beauty and coming to the realization it’s primarily an inside job. I am sure all of you can think of at least one person you know who had all of the right features, was stylish, and “the right size” BUT… was cruel, selfish, and shallow. And what is on the inside, eventually rears an UGLY head.

The same could be said for someone who is kind, encouraging, and filled with joy. Grandma Schrec is the first to come to mind. She oozed beauty. Grandma Schrec was my Social and Family Living teacher in high school. While she didn’t fit the world’s definition of beauty with gray hair, wrinkles, and long dresses she still managed to captivate the young women in her sphere of influence.

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She taught us about healthy relationships, encouraged us to dig deeper, and showed us true beauty by the way she lived every day. She made an unforgettable impact on my life. I am sharing this today because her influence is about to be unleashed at Beautiful Girl 2018.

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Warm Fuzzies were her thing. A way to acknowledge and connect with others – especially those you were just getting to know. I thought our girl-themed retreats would be the perfect place to introduce the Warm Fuzzy. Not without incentive, of course.

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The coins pictured above will be used as a form of currency at all of our girl-themed retreats. And warm fuzzies (among other things) will provide everyone with an opportunity to earn coins. And the coins can be used to purchase an assortment of items from the “Beauty Boutique” – an adaptation of Camp Craftalata’s canteen (Kelli and Crystal provided the inspiration). A teeny tiny peek is below:

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On that note, I will leave you all with a regifted Warm Fuzzy from Grandma Schrec (1985):

The more you give, the more you get;
The more you laugh, the less you’ll fret,
The more you do unselfishly,
The more you live abundantly;
The more of everything you share,
The more you’ll always have to spare;
The more you love, the more you’ll find
That life is good and friends are kind;
For only what you give away
Enriches you from day to day.

Have a great week!

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hello new year

© Tina Vega Photography

I wasn’t even aware of holding my breath until I felt myself exhale.

2017 in pics

It’s over. Madison, my hectic schedule, the holidays, uncertainty, and loss => OVER. Last year’s word (reimagine) served its purpose. I spent a lot of time looking ahead while simultaneously trying to make sense of the present. And towards the end of 2017, the fog began to lift.

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My word for 2018:

© Tina Vega Photography

I am ready.

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we squeezed in a bit of holiday fun | minnesota family photographer

© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography

I met up with this darling family shortly after Thanksgiving for a quick session in and around their home.

© Tina Vega Photography© Tina Vega Photography

It was a gorgeous weekend in Minnesota, perfect sweater weather.

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Not to mention, great timing with the start of the holiday season.

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It was a pleasure working with all of you.:)  Merry Christmas!!!

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winter weekend retreat 2017 | let your heart be light

Winter Weekend Retreat 2017

Our annual crafting and relaxing retreat took place last weekend and a whole lotta both happened. It was the perfect way to usher in the holiday season complete with Christmas music, hot buttered cider, cranberry orange scones, egg nog chai lattes and more! The only thing missing?  SNOW. It looked more like autumn than winter.

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Not that I’m complaining.:)  A handful of ladies even picked up a some new skills over the weekend – Glass Etching and String Art.

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And to top it all off, I introduced them to something near and dear to my heart:

© Tina Vega Photography

We gathered for our very own retreat IF:Table!!! It was truly special.

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While my planned theme for the weekend was “Let Your Heart Be Light” an underlying unintentional theme emerged:

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Multiple deer sightings in multiple forms.  As I made my way into town to pick up our pizza order, I very much had “deer” on the brain.

© Tina Vega Photography

Which helped me spot a cluster of them gathered by the roadside. I was able to slow down quite a bit before impact. Despite the mishap, this retreat weekend was one of my favorites. Here’s a peek at the rest of our time together:

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Thanks again ladies for taking part!

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everyday life by way of instagram

right now

My promise of “more blogging and less Instagram[ing]” hasn’t yet happened so here’s a peek at everyday life since my last personal post. Everyday life is winding down from the autumn session frenzy… in fact, my final edits should be completed TODAY! Time in the kitchen keeps me grounded and I have been intentional about creating a sense of warmth and coziness inside as the temps continue to drop outside. Cinnamon, apples, roasted turkey breast, and egg not chai lattes are in rotation. Seasonal flavors keep me in the here-and-now. Our college boy is enjoying life and even though he is much closer than last year we see him less. Our youngest will be boarding a flight to NEW YORK tomorrow, marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday (making his appearance around 10:35 am)! The 2017 Winter Weekend Crafting & Relaxing Retreat is around the corner (THERE IS STILL AN OPEN SPOT FYI!) and I have been making preparations for it as well, accumulating gifts and crafting supplies. I turned the family advent calendar into a personal BE LOVE quest and can’t wait for December to roll around. Speaking of December, every four years or so I create a December Daily album – documenting seasonal traditions and daily moments. I’m doing things differently this time, documenting everything in Ali Edwards’ December Daily Journal before diving into the project. Annnnnnnd to top it all off, I am feeling so much better these days – surely signs that my copper and iron levels have moved back into the normal range (earlier this year I struggled with persistent anemia, further testing revealed leukopenia & a copper deficiency).

Grateful for so much this season: cozy pink sweatshirts, big sweaters, IF:Table, being paid to eat good food in a recent marketing study, date nights with Tony, boomerang blessings, sunshine, apple cake w/maple caramel ice cream, sour cream raisin pie, fun mail, a night on the couch with my entire family, dinner/drinks with friends in town, Sunday morning worship, Spotify playlists, stolen hugs, and celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary with family last night.

All good. So very good.

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