Now booking... 2018 Summer in the City sessions

Two weekends in July...

eight fun locations all around Houston...

an excuse to get out and explore with your dog...

resulting in a professional portrait that will make you smile every day

Introducing... Summer in the City limited edition sessions.  Think of it as a summer bucket list item for you and your dog!

Sessions are booking now.  Visit the registration page to see sample photographs from the eight locations, get answers to FAQs, and book your Summer in the City session.  Spots are limited.

Hope to see you there!


Dogs of Paris - a week in the city of love

I could almost feel the sand between my toes...

Mouse hovering over the "purchase" button, moments away from booking a weekend getaway to a beach resort....

when the phone rang...

It was the hubs asking "how would you like to upgrade our beach weekend to something bigger... like Paris?  I have to go there for work."  Umm.... yes please!!  (I've only been waiting 6 years for his company to send him back to Paris so I could tag along!!)

and our plans changed from Caribbean resort to Parisian boutique. 

Forget the sunscreen and flip flops.  Enter jacket, umbrella, and sensible walking shoes.  We visited Paris in late March and stayed a block off Avenue Montaigne in the Champs-Elysees area.  While J was at work, I spent my days wandering the city on foot and by metro.  I did very little planning ahead of time which truth be told, if I were to go again, I would certainly book a few things in advance (like going up the Eiffel Tower at night). 

All in all, a great week exploring.  I'm not a huge fan of French food (shhh... don't tell anyone) but I did consume a lot of cheese and wine!

Now let's see the stars of this post: the dogs I met wandering around Paris!

 Outside Shakespeare and Company book store

Outside Shakespeare and Company book store

 Rainy walk near the Notre Dame cathedral

Rainy walk near the Notre Dame cathedral

 Sunset at the Pont des Arts

Sunset at the Pont des Arts

 Twilight at Musee du Louvre

Twilight at Musee du Louvre

 Puppy wearing in Montmartre

Puppy wearing in Montmartre

 Wish you were here from the Tour Eiffel

Wish you were here from the Tour Eiffel

 Don't be fooled - this Frenchie is actually from Switzerland!

Don't be fooled - this Frenchie is actually from Switzerland!

 Along the banks of the Seine River

Along the banks of the Seine River

Want to see my week-long Parisian adventure condensed into three minutes?  Watch the video below!

This isn't the first time I've photographed dogs outside the USA - you can see more international puppies on the blog from London and Costa Rica.


Dog-Friendly Activities in Houston - May 2018

One of the busiest months of the year - Mother's Day, graduation celebrations, a three-day Memorial Day weekend, all signalling the start of summer!  In between all the parties and get-togethers, I wouldn't blame you for just chillaxin' at home.  But if you are looking for something to do with your dog this month, I've got you covered...

small black and white dog standing by large flower pot

Things to do with your dog in Houston (May 2018):

  • May 5 - Cinco de Doggo Fiesta at Axelrad Beer Garden.  Margaritas, maracas, doggy bags, pinata games, raffles and more benefiting Reggie's Friends.
  • May 5 - Chihuahua de Mayo at the Houston Humane Society.  Food truck, family fun, and special adoption rates for chihuahuas and chi-mixes.
  • May 8 - K-9 Angels Spring Fling at Karbach Brewery.  Beer, food trucks, auction, & raffles benefiting K-9 Angels Rescue.
  • May 14 - Dogs & Divas Fashion Show & Lunch in League City.  Fashion and dogs benefiting Bay Area Turning Point.
  • May 16 - Yappy Hour at Midtown Park.  Check out this newly-opened park in Midtown with a dog park!  Treats, prizes, doga (dog yoga), and more!
  • May 19 - Bark for Life of Riverstone in Sugar Land.  Celebrate cancer survivorship, both human and canine, in this non-competitive walk.  Benefiting American Cancer Society.
  • May 26 - Greenawalds Service Fun Run at Bear Creek Pioneers Park.  Family friendly, playground, and mini-zoo, join this fun run to raise money to end Veteran homelessness while saving dogs and training them to support PTSD.

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!


A Texas tradition: bluebonnet photos aren't just for people!

To be completely honest, my bluebonnet sessions almost didn't happen this year. 

My husband and I had a trip planned to Paris during the exact 2-week period when the bluebonnets typically peak in Houston, and I wasn't sure if the timing would work.  And for those of you with dogs and/or kids, you know how hectic it can be preparing for a big trip and making sure your babies are taken care of!

Luckily, Mother Nature cooperated with my travel schedule.

At the last minute, I opened an evening of sessions - it not only sold out, but I ended up opening up a second evening.  One sweet dog mom said she'd been stalking me on social media for the last year hoping to snag a bluebonnet session!

Thankful to keep this Texas tradition going (third year in a row!)

Without further ado, the sweet and spunky pups who joined me in the bluebonnets this year:

 Sierra and Rocky

Sierra and Rocky

 Munchkin

Munchkin

 Brody

Brody

 Bruiser

Bruiser

bluebonnet photo sessions for dogs by megan murray photography

And there's always one cheeseball in the group:

havanese dog smiling with texas bluebonnets and indian paintbrush

Do you enjoy bluebonnet pictures as much as I do?  See more sessions from 2017 and 2016.


Decorating with photographs - tips from interior designer Southern Farmhouse Designs

Displaying photographs and artwork is one of the best ways to personalize your space.  But despite how easy HGTV makes it look, decorating your home is not always so straightforward.  Choosing paint colors, fabrics, furniture, artwork, and accessories that reflect your personal style is one thing, but putting them all together to make a cohesive look is another.  Today's post has some helpful hints for decorating your space from local interior decorater Ashley Moore of Southern Farmhouse Designs.  Her designs are so inviting, and I love how she combines old, new, budget-friendly, high-end, colors, and textures into her designs.  

Me:  Tell me a little about how Southern Farmhouse Designs got started.

Ashley:  I've loved design since I was a child, when I used to rearrange the furniture and redecorate my room often.  After we bought and remodeled our home in Tomball, this passion was ignited and with the support of my friends and family, I started Southern Farmhouse Designs.

Me:  What services to you offer your clients?

Ashley:  We are currently specializing in e-design packages to help our clients decorate and style their spaces.  By using a detailed questionnaire and face-time meetings, we put together two cohesive design boards for a single space and send a fun box of fabrics, samples, paint colors, shopping list, and links for purchasing everything.  E-design is great because it's cost effective and allows our clients to transform their home on their own timeline and budget.

 Example e-design (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Example e-design (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  What do people struggle with most in decorating their home?

Ashley:  The number one decorating mistake I see is not choosing the proper size and scale – this applies to artwork on the walls, rugs on the floor, furniture pieces, and even accessories.  A large space usually requires larger pieces.  Many people also struggle with choosing and hanging drapes and pulling different pieces together.

Me:  What are some tips for hanging artwork on the wall?

Ashley:  The first thing you should do when hanging pictures on the wall is consider the overall size and shape of your wall.  You can make a statement with one large piece that fills the wall.  Or you can hang a collection of pieces together to make a story.  I have a collection of nine black and white photographs in my family room – the whole wall is tied together by using the same frame and same color palette throughout the photos. 

 Black and white gallery wall (photo credit:  Grace Laird Photography )

Black and white gallery wall (photo credit: Grace Laird Photography)

For people who don't like the hassle of lining up a group of pictures in perfect straight lines, an eclectic wall gallery is great for mixing and matching sizes, colors, textures, wood tones, and metals, and you can include other items besides photographs!

 eclectic gallery wall (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

eclectic gallery wall (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  How about tips for styling a bookshelf with pictures?

Ashley:  On a bookshelf, I prefer to use fill the bookshelf space with a larger photo, or even a smaller photo in a chunkier frame.  By using larger pieces, you let the photographs take center stage rather than getting lost among other small trinkets.  Another thing I like to do is layer my pictures.

 styling bookshelves with photographs (photo credit:  Chelsea Davis Photography )

styling bookshelves with photographs (photo credit: Chelsea Davis Photography)

Me: Do you have pets?

Ashley:  Yes, I have a lab named Rebel and an outdoor cat that eats snakes!

Me:  Great!  How can you incorporate dog stuff into decor?

Ashley:  Dogs are like kids, they have a lot of "stuff"!  A decorative basket or bucket is great for collecting dog toys, and dog beds have come a long way in the last 10 years!  It's easy to find a dog bed that coordinates with the colors in your home.  We recently made a built-in dog crate in our mudroom, which fits seamlessly into the desk.

 built-in mudroom dog kennel (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

built-in mudroom dog kennel (photo credit: Southern Farmhouse Designs)

Me:  Anything else you'd like to add about decorating your home?

Ashley:  No one actually lives in a Pinterest-house!  Don't worry that your kitchen doesn't look like it's out of a magazine – do what you can to make it pretty and comfortable, but remember, homes are made for living!

 layered photographs (photo credit:  Grace Laird Photography )

layered photographs (photo credit: Grace Laird Photography)

Thank you Ashley!  I appreciate your insight, and now I have some work to do restyling my bookshelves...

You can find Southern Farmhouse Designs at:

website:  http://southern-farmhouse.com/

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/southernfarmhousedesignsllc/

instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/southernfarmhousedesigns/


Now booking... 2018 Limited Edition Bluebonnet Sessions

Who else is enjoying this nice weather and new growth on the trees?  It's springtime in Texas, and that means one thing:

bluebonnets!

For one evening only, I'm offering limited edition bluebonnet sessions.  (Fun fact: one of the images I created during last year's bluebonnet sessions merited in the International Photographic Competition!)

These short sessions will take place March 21 within the Houston city limits.  Book your session here, and hurry!  Spots are extremely limited this year.

cavalier king charles spaniel in bluebonnet field

Dog-Friendly Activities in Houston - March 2018

After an unseasonably cold winter, things are starting to warm up!  It's time to get out and enjoy the outdoors with your dog!  I'm loving all the spring flowers popping up around town!

black fluffy happy dog in spring flowers in houston park

Things to do with your dog in Houston (March 2018):

  • March 15 - FFL YPG Yappy Hour at Cactus Cove.  A pre-St. Patrick's Day yappy hour on the dog-friendly patio, benefiting Friends For Life.
  • March 17 - St. Pawtrick's Day Celebration at Brooklyn Athletic Club.  Bring your dog and join BYOD on the patio for games, green drinks, costumes, and door prizes.  Shamrock bingo benefiting Golden Retriever Acres Senior Sanctuary.
  • March 17 - Kiss Me I'm a Rescue adoption event with Houston Pets Alive!  Food games, green beads, and green beer!
  • March 17 - Doggie Pictures with the Easter Bunny at Rover Oaks Pet Resort. Benefiting Shaggy Dog Rescue.
  • March 21 - Bluebonnet photo sessions by yours truly.  Back by popular demand!
  • March 21 - Yappy Hour at Midtown Park.  Check out this newly-opened park in Midtown with a dog park!  Treats, prizes, doga (dog yoga), and more!
  • March 23 - Yappy Hour at Bagby Park in Midtown.  A doggie playdate happy hour with treats, contests, and prizes!
  • March 24 - BarkHappy Houston Spring Pup Crawl at Under the Radar Brewery and Axelrad Beer Garden.  Benefiting Adore Houston. 
  • March 24 - Paws in the Park in Pearland.  Get outside for this fun run, dock diving, demonstrations, pet vendors, and food!
  • March 24 - Wags & Wagers , a casino night benefiting Corridor Rescue.  Gaming, DJ, silent auction, drinks, and catered dinner.
  • March 25 - Bark Mitzvah at Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism.  Enjoy food trucks, pet vendors, music, and giveaways - everyone welcome!
  • March 25 - Abandoned Animal Rescue's Wine Tasting Fundraiser where animal lovers, art lovers, foodies, and beverage connoisseurs come together for a great cause!

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!


Lola & Baxter, dog food so good even you would eat it

Have you ever made a positive change to your diet and noticed you start to look and feel better?  Your dog can also benefit from a healthier diet.  Today Iman is talking with us about Lola & Baxter, a business dedicated to providing the freshest nutrient-dense food for your dog!

Me:  How did Lola & Baxter get started?

Iman:  My mom, who loves cooking and feeding everyone, has been making food for our dogs for over 20 years.  It started when we lived abroad, where commercial dog food was not readily available.  More recently, our vet noticed how healthy our dogs were and asked what we were feeding them.  When the vet heard about the homemade human-grade recipes, they wanted to sell it to their other clients, and the idea for Lola & Baxter was born.

 Mom, Iman, & Baxter  (photo credit: John Tran)

Mom, Iman, & Baxter  (photo credit: John Tran)

Me: Your company is named after your dogs Lola and Baxter.  Tell me about them!

Iman:  Lola is a sassy German Shepherd, who sometimes acts like an elegant princess and other times is a klutz.  I adopted her as a puppy, and she gallops in her sleep.  Baxter is a shiatzu with a zen Buddha personality.

 Lola & Baxter (photo credit: John Tran)

Lola & Baxter (photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  What dog food recipes do you offer?

Iman: We currently have five different dog food recipes fit for dogs at all stages of life.  They are all made fresh from human-grade ingredients, and we work with a vet nutritionist to ensure the right mix of nutrients.  We are also working on our first cat food recipe and a line of dog treats.

 (photo credit: John Tran)

(photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  Which recipe is your best seller?

Iman: Turkey is the most popular, and chicken is a close second.  We recommend rotating your dog’s food so that they get a variety of flavors and nutrients.  Plus who wants to eat the same thing every day?!

 (photo credit: John Tran)

(photo credit: John Tran)

Me:  From someone who is addicted to the convenience of Amazon Prime, I think it’s great that you deliver.  Can you tell me more about this service?

Iman: For our subscribers, we offer delivery inside the loop, galleria, and memorial areas.  The food is delivered to your doorstep frozen – you can freeze it for up to 4 months or thaw it in the refrigerator and feed to your dogs within 7-10 days.  The temperature-controlled bags and containers are reusable, so when it’s time for the next delivery, simply put your empty containers and bag out, and we will swap for your next food delivery.

 healthy dog food delivered straight to your doorstep (photo credit: Iman)

healthy dog food delivered straight to your doorstep (photo credit: Iman)

Me:  What’s your favorite thing about running Lola & Baxter?

Iman:  My favorite thing is connecting with fellow dog-lovers, their dogs, and other compassionate people we meet at the Farmer’s Market.  I also like the creative side of bringing our business vision to life.  For me, there is nothing quite like planting the business seed and watching it grow!

Me:  What tips would you give dog owners who want to improve their dog’s diet?

Iman:  Many dry kibble recipes contain preservatives and have lost valuable nutrients because of the high-temperature processing method used to cook the kibble.  We recommend introducing fresh vegetables for a more nutrient-dense diet.  Dogs are no different than people – we all look better, feel better, and perform better with the proper nutrition.  It's important to note that some people food is NOT good for your dog - refer to this ASPCA list of people foods to avoid feeding your pets.

Me:  What's in store for Lola & Baxter in 2018?

Iman:  We are finalizing our retail packaging, and soon the Lola & Baxter foods will come to a retail establishment near you!

Me:  Where can people get their hands (paws) on Lola & Baxter dog food?

Iman:  Come visit us at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market every Saturday morning, or order online at the Lola & Baxter website.

 Lola & Baxter at the Urban Harvest Farmer's Market (photo credit: Iman)

Lola & Baxter at the Urban Harvest Farmer's Market (photo credit: Iman)

You can find Lola & Baxter at:

website:  http://lolaandbaxter.com/

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/lolaandbaxter/

instagram:  http://www.instagram.com/lolaandbaxter/

in person: Urban Harvest Farmers Market (3000 Richmond)



Things to do in Houston with your dog - February 2018

Already a month into 2018, and I can already tell this year is going to fly by!  I don't know about you, but my calendar is filling up quickly - if you're looking for something fun to do with your dog this month, I've got a few ideas:

samoyed puppy with owner in warm coat

Things to do with your dog in Houston (February 2018):

  • February 3 - Meadowlake's Puppy Bowl.  Teams of puppies will compete for touchdowns and fans can watch on Meadowlake's Facebook and Instagram feeds.  Everyone wins!
  • February 3 - Champagne and Yoga in the Heights.  Dog-friendly yoga class followed by champagne social, benefiting Animal Justice League.
  • February 10 - 2nd Annual PuppyUp Walk in The Woodlands.  A fun walk with your dog, vendors, music, silent auction, and refreshments all to raise money for cancer research both human and canine.
  • February 10 - 5th Annual Best Friends Brunch at Hotel Zaza.  A charity masquerade brunch, pet fashion show, and silent auction benefiting aniMeals on Wheels.
  • February 11 - 20th Annual Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Mardi Gras Parade in Galveston.  Dress your dog in Mardi Gras attire and parade through historic downtown Galveston, benefiting the Galveston Island Humane Society.
  • February 17 - BYOD Houston Dogs & Roses.  Private indoor bring-your-dog Valentine's tea party, benefiting Friends For Life.
  • February 17 - BarkHappy Houston Valentine Pooch Pawty.  Family- and dog-friendly party with lots of games and goodies, benefiting Adore Houston.
  • February 21 - Yappy Hour at Midtown Park.  Check out this newly-opened park in Midtown with a dog park!  Treats, prizes, doga (dog yoga), and more!
  • February 23 - Yappy Hour at Bagby Park in Midtown.  A doggie playdate happy hour with treats, contests, and prizes!
  • February 24 - Portraits For Life fundraiser by yours truly.  This one-day pet portrait event will be held at an indoor studio, benefiting Friends For Life animal shelter.

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!


Friends For Life update and a pet portrait event you don't want to miss!

What's Friends For Life Animal Shelter been up to? 

(and don't forget to read to the end for a big announcement!)

Last year I was proud to partner with Friends For Life Animal Shelter and Sanctuary, and we are doing it again!  Before I share the details of the second annual Portraits For Life pet portrait event, let's see what FFL has been up to since the last time we talked

Me: Happy new year!  2017 was an eventful year for Friends For Life, especially with the response efforts after Hurricane Harvey.  What was it like working at the George R Brown shelter?

Salise:  We like to describe it as "changing tires on a car going 100 mph."  After Hurricane Katrina, many people died because they would not leave their pets behind.  Because of that, the PETS Act of 2006 was put into place, which authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, and shelter to pets, service animals, and their people.  However, there was no plan on how to accomplish this, and Hurricane Harvey presented the first opportunity to do so.  The City of Houston asked Friends For Life to manage the care of animals brought to the GRB shelter, and our volunteer army stepped up without hesitation.  We completed intake of 671 animals on the first day alone, and 1500 animals received free vet care and supplies during the first week after the storm.

 photo credit: FFL Army

photo credit: FFL Army

Me: That is quite an undertaking - how did Friends For Life do it?

Salise:  We have disaster-trained staff and an army of passionate volunteers.  Plus we had motivation and drive to prove to the world that sheltering people with animals during a disaster is not only possible, but the right thing to do to save lives and keep families together.  For us, it wasn't just about providing shelter for these animals.  It was also about providing full care - food, crates, leashes, vet care, and vaccines.  FFL is paving the way for how communities respond to sheltering people and animals during an emergency, and the country is taking note

Me: It's been unseasonably cold this winter, and I can see that Project Warm is still in full effect.

Salise:  Yes, we are busy making warm houses - just this year, over 230 of them have been dispersed around Houston to provide refuge for feral cats.

 Harley, adoptable cat at Friends For Life shelter

Harley, adoptable cat at Friends For Life shelter

Me: Friends For Life is still the only no-kill LEED-certified animal shelter in Houston.  Can you give me an update on the Fix Houston and Thinking Outside the Shelter programs?

Salise:  Fix Houston provides free spay/neuter services to cats in low income communities.  Since 2013, FFL has provided 4420 surgeries, which translates to preventing the birth of over 88,420 cats!  And that number continues to grow. 

Thinking Outside the Shelter program continues to prevent animals from entering the shelter system by working with pet owners and removing obstacles to caring for their pets.  The food bank distributes 11 tons of food annually, and continues to offer free counseling, obedience training, and basic vet care to keep animals in their homes.

 Callie, recently adopted!!

Callie, recently adopted!!

Me: What exciting things do you have planned for Friends For Life in the next year?

Salise: FFL is celebrating sweet 16 this year!  We also started a new FFL Young Professionals Group made up of Houstonians ages 21-40 who are interested in connecting with other animal-lovers, raising awareness about the no kill movement, volunteering, and fundraising. 

 

To learn more and get involved with Friends For Life, visit the shelter in the Heights or their website for information about adopting a pet, volunteering, or making a donation.

You can find Friends For Life at:

Don Sanders Adoption Center: 107 E. 22nd St.  Houston, TX 77008

website: http://www.friends4life.org

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsforlifehouston

instagram: http://www.instagram.com/friends4lifeorg

twitter: https://twitter.com/Friends4Lifeorg


And now... for the big announcement!

Registration is open for the second annual Portraits For Life event!

Last year, 16 dogs and 1 cat joined me for a special one-day pet portrait event, and together we raised $1000 for Friends For Life!  If you've been thinking about creating a timeless portrait of your pet, now is the time AND you'll be helping other animals in need.  Click the button for more information and to reserve your spot!