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Monday, September 27, 2010

Ms. Thomas' Lovely Tea House & Boutique (Mesa, Arizona)

To celebrate my dear friend Monica who is like a sister to me (we have been friends since junior high school) I took her to Ms. Thomas' Tea House & Boutique in Mesa, Arizona...and could not have chosen a more perfect place to celebrate at!

The entire place is decorated like a Victorian parlor and there is fine china used for dishes. From the lace doilies, to carved wood fireplace, to a conversation area decorated with plush Victorian armchairs, this place screams "feminine!" in the loudest voice I have ever heard. For those of you (like me) who have an old-fashioned soul, this place fits like a glove.

Monica and I love visiting tea places and this is by far our favorite, hands down! She was all smiles as we sat down for brunch together.

There were SO many details to look at around the room: pretty chandeliers, tea sets, antique books, hats, dolls and cute little odds and ends like this squirrel.

Our hostess was the best! Friendly service and a smile, she always had the answer to our many questions. The great thing about this teahouse is that the owner has styled it after many of the European tea houses and they don't rush you out of the door. You feel incredibly relaxed as you sip on your tea (or pink lemonade in my case) and eat your courses of food. You don't feel like you have to wolf everything down in order to get in and out for the next customer. Because it's not a chain business, you really feel that top notch one-on-one classic service that places used you have a long time ago...and it's sooo refreshing! I wish more places were like that!

 Knowing that it was Monica's Birthday (from when I made the reservation) they had a special Happy Birthday sign waiting on the table for her!

We loved that they let us wear the big puffy Victorian hats around the tea house! They told us that we could wear any hat except for Ms. Thomas' hat. We both chose really puffy and elaborate ones!

I don't know if it was the fluffiness of the hat or the flowers or what, but all of a sudden I started talking in a British accent. "Would you like some tea?" I felt very posh-posh. ; )

(Note: This is a picture of me that was taken by Monica, so she gets the photo credits for it. I just did the post production work on it)

Monica was feeling quite elegant and pretty in her hat too....but no British accent, just lots more smiles! I love this picture of her. She really got the old fashioned Belle of the Ball thing down.

We chose the Mariann Luncheon Tea which included fresh fruit, a (rather large) crustless quiche (THE BEST EVER!!!!), tea sandwiches, a toffee and chocolate scone that came with sweet cream and lemon curd and lime sorbet. It was amazingly good! Especially that quiche! I don't know what is in it, but it is so moist and tasteful. It was definitely courses of happy in my mouth. : )

I must say though, while the staff was incredibly helpful, cheerful and welcoming....

.......there WAS one fellow that creeped us out a little bit. He's an old man statue that they've affectionately name Earl. I call him Lurch.

Lots of Red Hat Society women are in love with this Butler, but he just wouldn't smile for me, no matter what I did. It was Monica's Birthday and she tried to get him to smile and join in the festivities, but even balloons and special Birthday cupcakes won't make this guy smile.

He must have been a guard at the palace in London in his earlier days. Whatever it is, he kept staring at us while we ate and reminded us with his eyes to keep our posture straight. He may be a statue, but he looked sooo real! I was so convinced that he was "real" that I offhandly asked, (even though I knew the answer was obviously NO), "Is he real?" Try as she could, Monica could not get him to smile. Not even a smirk. Well...maybe a smirk. I thought that I could see it in those eyes of his...., Earl made sure that everyone got great service, which of course we did with such a wonderful establishment! I love all of the details that the owner put into creating this fun and elegant place. You can tell that she put a lot of thought and heart into it and as a customer, you feel that extra special touch with service too.

When you're there, it truly makes you feel like you've stepped back in time and have been transported away to a time when women dressed up to go to the market. When cars were horses and buggies and when it was fashionable to slow down and spend time nourishing relationships with other people.

Ms. Thomas' Lovely Tea House & Boutique is just that: Lovely.

We will definitely be returning....again and again. We loved it that much. : ) What a way to celebrate such a special life! : )

If you want to visit Ms. Thomas' Lovely Tea House & Boutique for yourself, take a peek at their website:

And visit sometime:

6620 E. McKellips Road, Ste. 102-103
Mesa, AZ  85215

PS: As creepy as he is, I think that Lurch (Earl!) might be starting to grow on me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

PHOTOSHOP TIP: How to Make Eyes "Pop" In Your Pictures

One of my biggest joys is teaching the tips and tricks of Photoshop to people who are newer to the system (or not as new but struggling with something) and to watch their eyes light up when they finally have that "Ah-ha!" moment and learn how to do something they've been struggling to understand and master. It's almost like teaching someone a magic trick and is so fulfilling!

A lot of times people will ask me how I achieve a certain look to my photos in post-production. "How do you make the eyes "pop"?" "How do you create soft skin?" "How do you whiten teeth?" "How do you make your photo look vintage?" "How do you swap heads?" "How do you....?"

Because I always love sharing this information with others who ask me about it, I'm going to be posting some Photoshop tricks here on my blog in the coming weeks. I want you to be able to apply them to your own photos and get that "wow" look that you're going for. : )

So, my first tip will be how to make eyes "pop" in your pictures.

STEP #1:
The first step is to find a picture of someone that has some pretty good catch-light in their eyes.

By this, I mean the little white light hitting their eyes. You need a fairly good exposure on the eyes when you take your photo to make them look their best when you enhance them.

STEP #2:
The second step is to open your photo up in Photoshop. I work with CS4 on a regular PC, so I will be writing the commands from that system. There might be slight variations if you are working in CS5 or an older system of Photshop, such as CS3 OR if you are working on a MAC.

STEP #3:
Locate your lasso tool.

Use it to trace around one eye. (It doesn't need to be perfect). Now, hold down your SHIFT key and use the lasso tool to trace around the other eye (again, it doesn't need to be perfect). It sometimes helps to zoom in on a picture so that you're isolating the eye area and can see them up close when you're tracing them.

STEP #4:
When both eyes have been traced around, you'll seeing little "dancing lines" moving around the selection you've made. Right click with your mouse and you'll see a menu come up. From the menu, look down the list and choose the option that says, "Feather."

STEP #5:
When the feather dialog box opens up, set your feather radius to about 10.

STEP #6:
Next, go to Filter, then Sharpen, then Unsharp Mask (or you can create and use a shortcut on your keyboard. I created a shortcut because I use unsharp mask a LOT. If you don't know how to create a shortcut, write to me and I'll let you know how).

Slide the "amount" and "radius" sliders to the right until your selection looks how you want it to.

(Tip: Have "preview" selected so that you can see the transformation. Make sure you don't OVER sharpen or you'll get some pretty creepy looking eyes). ; )

Keep your threshold kept to zero. When you get it to the desired levels, click OK and you're finished!

Then you get to see the fun before and after of how the eyes in your picture have suddenly "popped" and look sharp and sparkly. Try it out for yourself and have fun! : )

Write to me and let me know if there is something you'd like to see broken down into steps on here and I'll choose some to blog!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Ultimate Women's EXPO -- Phoenix, Arizona (2010)

Wow! What an experience! I got a chance to check out the "Ultimate Women's EXPO" in Phoenix, Arizona this year and it was incredible! Free massages, hundreds of shopping booths, cooking demonstrations from William-Sonoma, free manicures, lots of coupons, a fashion show, keynote speakers, contests for free haircuts from Toni and Guy and free samples are just a small portion of what this event had to offer! I went with my family members and was able to score some free tickets from Starbucks when I got a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino (half coffee, half cream base of course!) there a few weeks ago.

We found some nearby parking and walked across the street. Ahh, we finally found it. I was so excited--come on line, move! : ) Women were lined up down the side of the building. I was surprised that there were scalpers trying to sell the same free tickets I'd gotten at Starbucks!

Thankfully, the real tickets were only $10.00 at the door. There was a happy feeling in the air and everyone wanted to get in the building. (FYI, for you women that want to attend next year, I heard one of the ticket booth people say that they usually don't take credit cards at the ticket booth, so take cash with you).

Once we were in, there was a large room filled with hundreds of women who had showed up for the event. The lines grew by the minute. We were all excited to get in there and experienced being pampered by others!

It was fun going with family--a Girl's Day Out!

We were all smiles (I'm the one on the right with bling-ly necklace) as we waited for the doors to open. I have to admit though, I started to get a little impatient when it was past 10:00am and they still hadn't opened the venue yet. I told my family that I felt like a little kid waiting in line at Disneyland--I wanted to GO! : ) Open, open, open! Open, open, open!

Success! We were in! See that gold container? That was for a contest to win a $5,000 shopping spree! We won't know until the end of September who won, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be one of us! Dream with me for a second...wouldn't that be absolutely AWESOME to win? Hey, a girl can dream can't she? : )

The first thing we were greeted with was Kirstie Alley's Organic Liaison station where they were mixing together some kind of organic tonic sample.

I think her face says it all! I couldn't bring myself to drink it because the smell was killing me. I like healthy, but that was beyond me, blech. Not to say that Kirstie's organic blend is bad--it just wasn't us at all. Bring on the smoothies.....Please!

Thank goodness there was some sweetness floating among the booths! I found this company ( that creates these really elegant and beautiful cakes! Who wouldn't want a beautiful cake like these at their event? Gorgeous!

There were great fashion booths all over the place! One of my favorites included Funfeet Footwear, Inc. ( because they had these great bling-ly flip flops...and you know how much I love blingle! I didn't think I was that old, but I am definitely a child of the past! I told the woman behind the booth, "I love these thongs--they're beautiful!" I was quickly instructed that they are *ahem* no longer called "thongs" but instead "flip flops." Thongs has an entirely different meaning now....oh.  Oops. I'm glad that I didn't say "thongs" too loud.

Putting that aside, aren't these shoes great? I love vintage sparkle and these are right up my alley with a modern-day twist!

There were fashions from Dillard's, Fashion Bug and Dress Barn. Lots of accessory places that carried custom-made jewelry and lots of independently owned shops that specialize in unique fashion pieces. This purse from Dillard's and these outfits from Fashion Bug caught my eye:

There was also an abundance of chocolate everywhere...and I do mean everywhere. It seemed like each station carried some kind of little jar filled with chocolate goodies. There were also booths that were selling chocolate...things...I'm not that much of a chocolate fan, so I don't know what to call them. But they looked mighty chocolate-y! ; )

They certainly drew a lot of "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowds of women standing there looking into the booth's display of confections. My family was no exception....

I stopped at the Toni & Guy Hairdressing place to ask for advice on my hair since the salon I went to a few weeks ago didn't dye my hair properly (my hair color washed out after 3 washes) and they gave me a 20% off coupon for color services...nice!  I may just have to use it. They were giving out several free haircuts every hour--it was fun to watch! Everyone was really excited and there was a "buzz" around the stage of all the women watching and talking. I mean, where can you go and have a decent chance of winning a free haircut? How nice!

Of course, all good things come to an end and we had to leave. But want to go back next April when the Ultimate Women's EXPO rolls into town again! Hope to see you ladies there!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beba Photography Is Starting to Reach International Borders

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has been visiting the Beba Photography website, blog and Facebook page!

I am truly blown away! According to my blog's stats page, the Beba Photography blog is being viewed beyond US borders! It has reached: The United States, Canada, the UK, Ukraine, Australia, Venezuela, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Poland and Argentina

Thank you so much for sharing Beba Photography with your family and friends--you are helping to spread my dream to the world and making this dream of mine come true! You are all a part of making that happen and I am deeply, deeply grateful!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

New "Mini-Mini" Photo Session for Those Great Kids In Your Life!

Those big beautiful eyes. That sideway, crooked grin. That scrunched up little nose. ♥ There is something about each child that is precious that make Mommy and Daddy's heart melt everytime they see them.

Are you ready to have those details captured of your daughter, your son? Maybe it's your granddaughter or grandson or neice or nephew.

I am now offering a "Mini-mini" photo session of those great kids in your life that make you smile day after day. : )

Booking now through October 15th!
Photoshoot must take place in Maricopa or Pinal Counties here in Arizona.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Christmas Mini Session Special

I ♥ the beauty of Christmas and the reason why we celebrate--such a magical time of year!
Capture a part of your own special magic and take advantage of this special Christmas offer while it lasts. Imagine having a picture to tuck inside your Christmas cards this year that is worthy of framing and that your friends and family will keep for years to come! : )

This special offer is valid when you book before October 15th, 2010. Photo session must take place in Maricopa or Pinal counties in Arizona to apply.
This special saves you $180 off regular prices--Christmas savings are here! : )