5th Graders – Precious Project

Schools and education are near and dear to our hearts. We completely believe in self-education, but also the importance of supporting schools and children so they can have the kind of education that makes them love learning now and later (like us!). This is actually the second time we’ve been approached by a school to assist with a photography project and we love being able to help in any way we can!

The purpose of this project was to photograph 5th graders and their something precious. The complete project will be a framed collage of all the 5th graders sold at auction. What a cool way to celebrate these students plus raise funds to help them love school, which in turn will develop them into life-long learners!

Here are just a few of these cuties! (We mean cool kids, sorry guys.) We’re related to one of the 6 below, can you guess which one?

We love all the different objects! This is one creative bunch. (Polaroid camera, yes! Not that we’re picking favorites, but we are photographers…)

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Book Review #4 – The Ciccarellis

For February (our 6th book – wow, halfway already!) we read Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson in our 12-in-12 book challenge. If you missed our 1st2nd, or 3rd review, catch up by clicking the link.

Scroll down to watch our live review via Vimeo or read our review instead just below the video.

Look at all those tabs! We pretty much tabbed each chapter between the two of us…

Book #6: Rework

This is such an amazing book! We cannot say it enough. Please get this book if you are thinking about starting a business, if you own a business, or if you are a boss or work in a corporate setting. Chapters are 1-3 pages, quick and to the point. These guys don’t mess around. They are blunt, have their own opinion, and make a ton of sense! We would list every chapter here as a take-away, but we’d run out of space and you’ll want to read this one cover to cover… so we just picked 5 take-aways.

Take-Aways we use NOW:

1. Workaholism – We see it all the time. People, especially in the US, equate working a lot with being successful. This book (like others we’ve read by Tim Ferriss) say no. Just because you’re working 50 hours a week doesn’t mean you’re getting any more work done than the person who has streamlined their work by prioritizing and cutting out interruptions and gets it done in 20 hours/week. We always try to batch work, make lists, and cut out the unnecessary to make sure we have a life outside of work. This book will give you plenty of examples of how to cut it back if you feel overwhelmed by the hours you’re currently working.

2. Gear Doesn’t Matter – The authors explain the most important part of your business is making money, not the shiny extras (although new computers and fancy technology are neat). This was a good reminder for us because there are definitely temptations to buy that new lens, but in reality it’s probably best to spend that extra cash enhancing our website to get more clients so that our business grows. Priorities.

3. Long Lists – …don’t get done. We totally agree. We usually have between 3-5 important tasks to finish each day. We make sure the first one is the most important and we keep crossing them off as we go. If our list was 10 tasks we’d never accomplish them all and would feel defeated. If we finish all 3-5 items each day then we have a feeling of great accomplishment!

4. Don’t copy or worry about the competition – It’s very easy to use the internet to check out your competition and compare yourself or steal their ideas. Trust us, it’s not worth it. The time spent worrying about someone else or trying to be like someone else could instead be spent making yourself more successful!

5. Educate & Share – The authors explain that cooks are the best sharers. They make something delicious and put it in a book for everyone to try. Why can’t we all be like cooks? No one is going to cook it exactly the same anyway so you may as well share. We truly believe in sharing and helping educate others as much as we can. The only way to get better at something is to learn…from others! We’ve been so lucky to have friends willing to teach us and have found amazing photographers in the business who share out their successes and failures and we wish to do the same.


Truly one of our favorite books from the book challenge so far! If you’re thinking of reading one of our challenge books choose this one or 4 Hour Workweek to start off. Thanks for reading!
~Erik & Marissa
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Pin it. – Why we love it!

If you haven’t discovered Pinterest yet and you are having a wedding, ready…set…start pinning!

(or even if you just like to stay organized with your ideas all in one place!)

We found Pinterest this summer and haven’t looked back. All those times when you’d find something online that you loved and had to write down the URL or the website and hopefully not lose that tiny piece of paper are gone! Now when you find a fabulous idea for flowers or invitations you just click the convenient button most websites have now (Pin) and it shows up in the category of your choosing on your Pinterest board that you’ve created. You can even download your own Pin button for your bookmarks bar that allows you to Pin any photo from any website! Dream come true for those of us out there that can’t remember where we saw that great hat or where we saw that cute engagement photo idea. Plus now we have a much less cluttered desk since all those sticky notes with reminders are gone!

Things I use it for the most…when I’m having people over and need decorating tips, when I find a recipe I want to try, when I’m dreaming about our future home, and when I find inspiration in fellow photographers’ photos.

Seriously, give it a try and look me up (Marissa)! I have so much fun finding ideas for weddings (even though ours is long gone, maybe 10 year renewals?) and pinning photos that continue to inspire us.

~Erik & Marissa

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Roberto & Hisam – Walking Around South Lake Union

Moving to a new city can be scary, especially meeting all new people and trying to make friends. We feel so lucky that this couple, Roberto & Hisam, moved here around the same time as us. Not only do they make a great couple, but they are our new friends! Both are kind, hilarious, and don’t make fun of you when you sing terrible karaoke (thanks guys).

When we suggested doing a photo session they realized it would land right after the 2 year anniversary of their first date. We felt honored to help them celebrate this occasion, especially after finding out the only other time they had photos taken was at their wedding.

We met in South Lake Union with the plan to walk around and see what the neighborhood had to offer. It did not disappoint. With tons of amazing urban spots perfect for photographs South Lake Union might be one of our favorite new locations.

Our favorite part of the session, however, has to be hanging out with these two. With Hisam’s huge laugh and Roberto’s amazing accent they had us entertained from start to finish.

Thanks Roberto & Hisam!

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Confessional | Debt-Free & Budgeting

“Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” – Jim Rohn

The Truth: We have just started a major self-education in the area of finances and have started a huge overhaul of how we do things. Like many people we thought we knew what we were doing with money because we’ve had it and used it for a long time. Unfortunately, we really didn’t know anything!

Our bonus book this past month was Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover (The Workbook- which had tons of worksheets to copy and fill in for assistance) This is a MUST READ, seriously, even if you think you know what you’re doing with your money (like us!) it’s definitely possible that you really don’t.

In this post you will hear from each of us to share our side of what we’ve been through so far, baby steps 1 & 2 – starting an emergency fund, creating a budget, and getting rid of all debt…

MARISSA: When we started our business, finances was the part I knew I’d be handling because I like math and dealing with numbers, but honestly I put it off for a few weeks (ok maybe a month or two) because it scared me. I didn’t know what I was doing and knew that it was going to be a gigantic learning curve for me. The extent of my money knowledge was paying bills online, investing in a ROTH account, and trying to put money away each month in savings – that’s it. We’ve been lucky that we’ve always had enough for what we needed or wanted in our not too outrageous lifestyle, but we haven’t put much thought into the future or into emergency planning. When we started the business it was a totally different playing field because we were dealing with an irregular income. Some weeks our cash flow is big and some weeks it can be zero so we had to learn ASAP how to budget and manage our income. Once we realized that we couldn’t afford a down-payment on a home (our next goal!) we had to get serious.

I heard about Dave Ramsey from a friend and found one of his workbooks at Half Priced Books after trading in a few of my own. I got home and poured into it, soon realizing we were in serious trouble. Not only were we dealing with an irregular income, but a lot of our savings are tied away in ROTH accounts and we didn’t have enough saved for a serious emergency, let alone a home down-payment. Luckily Dave takes it slow, gives you baby steps to accomplish, and taught me a ton as I began actually learning about finances, not just what I thought I knew (which, turns out, was hardly anything!). Baby step #1 was having a $1000 emergency fund. Our money was all over the place in different funds, savings, checking accounts, even different banks so the first thing we did was simplified our finances. We canceled a checking account and 2 credit cards. We now have 1 personal checking, 1 business checking, 1 credit card (hopefully we will get rid of this too, Dave is a big advocate for no credit cards, but for now it seems safe to keep it in the drawer for emergencies) and one savings account that’s divided into a few different sections. (By the way, it really is fun cutting up cards!) We made sure we had our $1000 emergency fund tucked away- not to use – and then we started on baby step #2 – Getting rid of all debt. We had always thought of ourselves as debt free because we paid our credit cards off each month. What we realized was a lot of our money was going towards loans and interest, which Dave also considered debt! In 2 months we scrambled to pay off 2 personal loans, 1 school loan, and sold our car which was financed and costing us about 350 a month plus gas and insurance, not to mention the interest.

Then came another hard part, coming up with a budget we both agreed on that fit our irregular income. It took awhile and every month we still make small adjustments, but after 4 months we finally have a working budget – every dollar is accounted for. We also use a cash budget, meaning at the beginning of each month we take out cash for each item on our budget (except the few that we pay electronically like rent, utilities, insurance) and put the exact cash from our budget into the envelope for that category (ex: clothes). At the end of the month if we’ve run out of money in that envelope it means we wait until next month when it’s filled back up (ex: if we have $5 left and want to buy a $7 shirt we wait until the next month). This part sounds confusing, but once you have your budget it’s easy, just don’t forget your envelope when you’re going to the store!

The best part of the process for me so far is we can officially saw we are 100% debt free! The only bills we pay are for necessities like rent, utilities, and insurance. The rest of our income can now be spent on things we have a cash budget for, such as groceries, dates, gas, entertainment, etc. This baby step was grueling because we had to switch some of our savings over and change some habits to pay things off but we are so happy we did because now we aren’t paying interest on small monthly payments, they’re all gone!

ERIK: BUDGETING FREAKING SUCKS! But….I’m learning that it’s very helpful. Actually, extremely helpful. I didn’t realize how much I was swiping the plastic. I’ve always said the easiest thing in the world is talking behind someone’s back. The second easiest thing is using your credit card. There are zero consequences when you swipe. For the past 10 years it’s been (normal) to pay off the credit card on the 20th of every month. I thought that was a monthly payment that needed to happen. All of a sudden it was becoming (normal) to payoff $2,000 every month. Half the time it was much more than that. What was I getting out of spending that money? I honestly have no idea. Marissa and I have seen some of that spending in useless stuff collected over the years. It’s all in closets, corners, and under the bed. All places that are easy to put things you aren’t using. I started to become a master at collecting. (Much of that excess stuff we actually sold on Craigslist to pay off some of our debt.)

One of the most eye opening days I’ve ever had was when Marissa sat down one day to budget. This was even before Dave Ramsey. That day sucked. We were caught. The numbers didn’t lie. We had a problem. Using our credit card was common. We couldn’t see what we were spending so it didn’t matter, right?

Wrong, we had to take control of our finances. We had to look towards the future. Money isn’t just going to come out of the sink one day when we want to buy a house. We needed to start saving. I could write for another two days about the tips and tricks you can start doing to help yourself. My biggest helpful hint is to BUY The Total Money Makeover. Read it, review it, write in it.

A great quote we try to live buy daily is: “Live like no one else now, and you will live like no one else later”. Put in the effort now and your future will be designed how you’d like it to be.

Happy financing and please contact us if you have any questions or if you’re a month into your budget and you want to rip your hair out. We can relate.

This is how happy we were last week when we sold the car and paid off the last loan to erase our debt!

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Smith

Even Kiki was excited to say we’re debt free!

“Dogs have no money. Isn’t that amazing? They’re broke their entire lives. But they get through. You know why dogs have no money? .. No Pockets.” – Jerry Seinfeld

Thanks for reading! Hoping this helps someone out there take control of your finances or even inspires you to self-educate yourself in something too.

~Erik & Marissa

Julianna Rennard - I read this book and found it so helpful! I’m proud to say Nathan and I are now officially debt free. YEAH!

Roxy Nunez - I’m proud of u Jules. You always read something and it improves your life. Can you come handle our finances now??? Pretty please with peanut butter cups on top? :-)

Julianna Rennard - Remember when I was into couponing!!!

Priscila Stein - Congratulations you guys!! :)

Marissa Ciccarelli - Yay! It’s so funny how we keep doing things at the same time!

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