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every chapter matters

© Tina Vega Photography

I think most people would rather skip over the rough parts. The messy, sad, and troubled times. But I have learned through my own struggles and in walking alongside others during their most difficult moments that there is beauty to be found in every chapter.

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

It is in the darkness that God’s hand becomes most visible.  The following verse says it all:

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

I have shared several stories over the years (HERE and HERE and HERE to name a few). The perfect orchestration of events. The right people in our lives at the exact time we need them most. Hope.

© Tina Vega Photography

I will have a few more stories to share soon!

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confession #2

© Tina Vega Photography

Sometimes I choose particular donuts because of their photogenic appeal. Not to say they won’t taste good, they ARE donuts after all. But I would choose cake donuts any day over raised… but PINK raised donuts?

© Tina Vega Photography

Heck yeah. Unfortunately because donuts are so delicious, it’s best to capture them immediately. This usually means taking pictures in crud light. With a flash. My least favorite way to play.

© Tina Vega Photography

But who am I to complain?  You can find these donuts and more at YoYo Donuts & Coffee Bar in Minnetonka, MN.

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confession #1

© Tina Vega Photography

Sometimes I bake just to take pictures of the final product.

© Tina Vega Photography

This Triple Layer Brownie Cake also ended up being one of the best cake recipes I’ve ever tried!  As my sister said, “It’s like something you’d order at a restaurant!” Decadent and rich, worthy of any celebration. You’ll find the recipe by clicking HERE (I swapped out chopped Hershey kisses in place of the shaved chocolate on top because it’s what I had on hand). Be very careful removing the warm brownie layers from pans, the chocolate will be soft and prone to breaking. (You will want to remove them while warm otherwise they will stick to the pans.) If a layer breaks, just piece it together as best you can and let cool on a wire rack. Gaps can be filled with icing, just be sure to save the best layer for the top!



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one random act of kindness x 50


Thanks again to all who have agreed to help celebrate my HALF-CENTURY milestone by performing a random act of kindness (RAK) in February! It makes me very happy knowing so many good things will be taking place. [If you missed the original post, click HERE to learn more.]

© Tina Vega Photography

I thought I would help get the ball rolling with a list of ideas. Please know that your kind act is not limited to this list, the month of February, or only one gesture. The only thing I ask is that you share it with me by posting a comment here or on FB, through Messenger, or by email/text!

1. Bless someone you do business with on regular basis. This is a great way to show appreciation to the people who regularly serve YOU! It could be:

=> your favorite cashier at the grocery store – after paying, let them know how they make your chore a little less painful and present them with a small gift (for example, one that talks about dogs all of the time would likely appreciate a PetSmart gift card or gourmet dog treats).

=> your local post office – if you frequent it as much as I do, faces become familiar on both sides of the counter; treat the staff to something special like a box of Mojo Monkey Donuts.

=> your favorite gas station or convenience store employee – whether you are a regular at Kwik Trip, Holiday, or the little mom-and-pop spot down the road, surprise them one day with a treat from Abdullah Candies.

=> your home delivery people – if you place a lot of orders online, consider leaving a basket of weather-friendly treats (granola bars, small bags of chips/cookies, bottles of juice/water, candy bars)  next to your front door with a thank-you-please-take-a-treat note.

=> your trash collector, mailman, newspaper delivery person – leave something that allows them to put their feet up such as a gift card to your favorite pizza place.

2. Brush snow off other cars in the parking lot.

3. Send a card to your pastor – let them know about the positive impact they have had on your life or how touched you were by a message they shared.

4. Remember those who are grieving by sending them handwritten notes – this is especially important around birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

5. Anonymously bless someone you do not know by paying for their meal at a restaurant – zero in on a table that tugs at you (an elderly couple, parents with young children, a group of teenagers, or someone dining alone).

6. If you regularly spot homeless people on your route to work, go prepared! Assemble care packages which include socks, mittens, protein bars, beef jerky, water, hand warmers, and gift cards to use at restaurants in the area. Make eye contact with each person you meet.

7. When making dinner or baking, double the batch and share with a neighbor.

8. If someone you barely know is struggling (illness, divorce, loss) reach out with a gesture of kindness – send flowers, cookies, or a handwritten note to let them they are not alone.

9. If you have recently read a book that inspired you to no end, share it! Gift your favorite book to anyone that comes to mind.

10. Pray for someone every single day this month. Send them a note (along with a cookie card) to let them know what you did.

11. If you are receiving treatment for a long-term illness, bless your care team with boxes of mini donuts from Sleepy V’s (formerly Rebel Donut Bar).

12. Before unloading your cart at checkout, take a look around. If you spot a person waiting with an armful (be it children or merchandise) let them go on ahead.

13. If you have children involved in dance or sports, bless their instructors or coaches with a gift card to Crisp & Green, Berry Blendz, or Truce.

14. Donate to your local food shelf.

15. Is there a teacher in your child’s life who appears to be especially gifted at what they do? Let them know how much they are appreciated and tell them what you see.

16. If someone around you is especially crabby, find a way to tangibly show kindness in return: let the road raging driver off the hook, put a bouquet of flowers in your child’s room, give your unfriendly neighbor the biggest candy bar you can find, or surprise your spouse with dinner out.

17. Be aware of the people around you, in person or online, and look for opportunities to show kindness through words, thoughts, and action. Kindness is about seeing what needs to be done and doing it!

I can’t wait to hear about all of your experiences!

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with your help 50 *will* be nifty

© Tina Vega Photography

I turn 50 next month and ever since his bash last May, my husband has been asking all sorts of questions about how to best celebrate. After mulling it over for some time, I finally came up with THE PERFECT idea! And it involves all of you.  Well, at least 50 of you.

© Tina Vega Photography

In lieu of gifts, cards, and birthday wishes I would love it if you would perform one random act of kindness. And I want to hear about what happens, big or small, because I’d like to put the stories into a scrapbook!

© Tina Vega Photography

Are you in? [If so post a comment here, on IG or FB!] I will be sharing ideas in the coming weeks but you are free to come up with your own. You are also welcome to share the random act challenge with friends and/or family.:DJust make sure you share your stories with me here, through Facebook, Instagram, or email!

© Tina Vega Photography


Jackie Malecha - January 9, 2018 - 6:08 pm

Im in!!!! What a great idea!!!

Lynn Peterson - January 9, 2018 - 6:56 pm

I am in, Tina! Count me as one of your 50. ????

Lindsey - January 9, 2018 - 10:33 pm

I would love to be added. Tina, your heart is so kind!! I love this.

Lynn Tentis - January 9, 2018 - 10:49 pm

I’m in!

Leslie Norman - January 9, 2018 - 11:23 pm

I’m in!

Tina - January 9, 2018 - 11:59 pm

YAY!!!!!!! We are up to 21 so far!

Tanya - January 10, 2018 - 9:29 am

Me, me, me!! You are such an inspiration! For real. :)

Susie - January 10, 2018 - 9:53 am

Love this Tina!!! I will help

Tina - January 10, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Thanks, Susie!

Tina - January 10, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Yay, thanks Tanya!!!!

Crystal Satnik - January 10, 2018 - 8:08 pm

Love this!!! I’m in!

Melissa Grell - January 10, 2018 - 11:16 pm

I’m in!! What a great idea, the gift that keeps on giving!

Jodie - January 10, 2018 - 11:48 pm

Tina, I’m in- an awesome way to celebrate your nifty 50th!!!!

Tina - January 11, 2018 - 8:33 pm

Thanks Crystal, Melissa & Jodie! We are up to 36 people in so far!!!

Beth Galles - January 11, 2018 - 10:19 pm

I’m in. What an amazing idea. Wish I had thought of it. Happy birthday.

Tina - January 11, 2018 - 11:43 pm

Yay!!! Thanks Beth!!

Karin Gradine - January 14, 2018 - 5:21 pm

You bet! I’d love to celebrate you! You are an awesome person….I so love this idea! ?

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