MABUHAY FROM THE PHILIPPINES

Things slow down around here in December. It's one of my favorite times of year... and I'm finally able to share about our trip to the Philippines. I'm not even sure where to start. Tyler and I traveled to Zamboanga City, Philippines to celebrate my brother and his wife. They got married and it was beautiful. 

We took a redeye from JFK to Manila. It was a 20 hour flight, with one stop in Vancouver. It was my first international flight and the longest flight I had ever been on. My biggest concern was the long plane ride, but it was unexpectedly pleasant. I watched movie after movie, and the flight attendant brought lots and lots of food. The hardest part about our flight was not getting to lay down when I was super super tired, haha. 

We landed in Manila with a 20 hour layover, then we had another redeye to Zamboanga City. We arrived as the sun came up. It was the first time I would be seeing my brother for almost 2 years and it was also the first time meeting Michelle, my brother's new wife. It was a lovely reunion and an amazing trip. We stayed at the Garden Orchid hotel, which I would highly recommend. I would also recommend that you take a trip to the Philippines. :)

Our first day started with a 6:00am breakfast. After breakfast we had a short bit to unpack and settle in. Later that morning we were off to the church for my brother and sister-in-laws baptism. We had our first lunch with all the in-laws were we had amazing food and amazing company. I ended up crying at the table because I was so exhausted, but managed to pull my self together, haha. I felt like I had been up for two days, whew. 

Our our second day we went to Santa Cruz island, known for it’s beautiful pink beaches. Everything was amazing. We took a small boat to the island and I was just sure we were going to sink. ;) But we didn’t. We were only on the beach for a few hours, but it was beautiful and peaceful. We met locals, took pictures, sat under trees and had the very best time. 

We did a variety of things while we were there and all the days are running together now, whew. A few of our our favorite highlights included riding in a Jeepney, this was one of Tyler’s favorite things ever and I will agree, it was so fun! Jeepney’s were originally made from US military jeeps left over from World War II… if you were wondering. :) All the jeepney’s we saw had open seating and we jumped from one to the other. When someone wanted to get off, they simply tapped the railing with a coin. 

The wedding was on Friday, so we had the week to explore the city and have lots of fun. We had breakfast that Friday morning, followed by hair and make-up... my first time ever having my make-up done, and our attire was all ready for us. Tyler and I were apart of the wedding party and slightly unprepared, haha! We were considered sponsors for the wedding and we were in charge of the veil. Both of which are traditional in Philippine culture. During our part of the ceremony, neither Tyler or I knew what to do, so one of the wedding planners helped us. During the reception we both had to give speeches too… and we were unprepared for those as well. I got up on stage and was completely speechless. My brother coached me from the side as I stared at him. 

My brother and Michelle, went above and beyond to take care of us and make sure we had an amazing time. Michelle’s family was so open, generous, and kind. Our favorite part of the trip was the culture and all the people. 

Another random thing… Tyler and my mom were a hit with everyone. Zamboanga City doesn’t often get foreigners, so the fact that they were obviously foreigners (they are white, haha) they sure brought a lot of stares. We had a great time and it was one of the most amazing experiences! We definitely plan on going again. xoxo. Samantha


COFFEE TALK

It's been a long time since I wrote a personal post or any kind of life update. Long story short, I've just been working. I wish I had something super exciting to share, but we're honesty just in a season of work. We say no to a lot of things; adventures, travel, extra-circular activities, because we've set certain financial goals (paying off our student loans) and those goals are priority. I'm also not great with words. I spend a lot of time processing everything internally. When it comes to getting things out in words, I usually don't have a lot to say, but I'm going to try, haha. 

This year has been a year that I was really able to focus on the business. I finally found my niche and I've worked hard to keep things simple, which is usually how I have to process things anyways. Once I find my rhythm with something, then I can usually add something new. This year has been about finding my rhythm within the business and also really finding my style as a photographer. No matter how far I come, I always find myself with opportunities to learn and I have really tried to do that this year.

We actually traveled a little this year, which is out of the norm for us (as I mentioned above, haha.) This summer we were in Missouri for a week... working. Tyler was teaching at a week long camp and while I wasn't actually working, I spent a lot of time helping my mom. In September we were in the Philippines, which was amazing. I can't get over how amazing it was and I actually have a post to share with you guys. It's coming, I promise, loads of pictures and all. 

This year I've spent a lot of time thinking about the business. How it's running, how it could run better, and how I could serve you better. I still have so much to learn and the business still has so much growing to do. Right now I'm actually thinking about next year. Things that are launching at the beginning of the year, things I'm hopeful for, things I'm  hoping to do better. Can you tell I have business on the brain a lot. 

All in all, things are good. Tyler and I are doing really well. We're back in our workout routine, which I love. I love working out.... I love cake and working out. ;) I've become more comfortable as a cook, which is fun because I've been able to incorporate some really healthy stuff. I made more friends this year, which might sound random, but when you move a lot, it takes time to make friends, especially if you don't have a normal work environment where you meet lots of people. I went to the Downton Abbey Exhibition this past weekend, I celebrated my birthday last month, and this month we're headed back to Missouri for Christmas.

So... I think that's everything. How are you doing? xoxo. Samantha


HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS COLLECTION

It's time to get cozy with our Home for the Holidays Collection. Christmas is right around the corner, which I bet means you're Christmas shopping, planning holiday get togethers, and preparing to travel. We're spending time preparing for Christmas and preparing our small businesses and blogs. From content creation, promotions, newsletters, Instagram scheduling, and creating those Pin-worthy images. Make this season a little easier and get your holiday planning done ahead of time. 

I'm so grateful to bring you the Home for the Holidays Collection, because it's so cozy and it reminds me of going home for the holidays, with lots of tradition and family and friends. And the Home for the Holidays Collection is meant to help you do just that. Home means lots of cozy moments, presents under the tree, dinner around the table, and quiet moments alone. Bring the holidays home this season on your blog, Instagram, Pinterest, and website. 

The holiday season can always get busy. Lessen your Instagram load and pick out a few of your favorite images to crop and use in your Instagram feed. Stock photos are perfect for complementing your brand and you can make your feed extra cozy this season too! 


We can't wait to celebrate this Christmas season with you! When you use Elah Tree images on Instagram, make sure that you tag us (@elahtree) and use the #elahtree hashtag. We want to see how you use your stock photos and feature you and your brand! xoxo. Samantha


GRAB YOUR FREE STOCK PHOTOS

elah-tree-styled-stock-photos-free

Did you know we send out FREE stock photos once a month!? That's right, each month we send our email subscribers FREE stock photos. Plus, every new subscriber gets 10 FREE introductory stock photos. Gone are the days of searching endlessly for stock photos. Ease the Instagram stress and give your website a refresh with styled stock photography.

With changes to the Instagram algorithm, you can have more time to engage with your audience instead of spending so much time behind the camera. So ease the stress and make a warm and lasting first impression. I'm confident styled stock photos can make a difference and save you time!

Can't get enough of our FREE stock photos? Stop by our shop and pick out your favorite stock photos! xoxo. Samantha