Have you tried to design a wedding album? If you have, you probably know how long it can take. In fact, I’ve been trying to put one together for Matt and I for almost seven years… and have yet to do so. Maybe it’s hardest with your own wedding. There are so many images that you love, narrowing them down is near impossible. Yet, a well told story in physical form is more accessible and lasting than opening up a folder of hundreds if images.


Here is another look into the process of wedding album design and layout with the finished book from Brendan and Karen’s wedding. It’s currently off at Madera books being printed and bound into the one of a kind piece it was made to become. Archival quality photographic prints are mounted to the pages, sewn together and wrapped in leather or linen to create the finished piece. This year I switched to Smart Albums for the design instead of using InDesign and highly recommend the software. Any other questions on this process? Leave them below!

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butternut squash apple soup 1 Butternut Squash Apple Soup | Thanksgiving Meal Planning

It’s time to spend a few hours traveling, sleep in every available bedroom and do your best to help put a meal together that everyone will enjoy sharing. It’s the week of Thanksgiving.

I, like most kids, spent years sitting at the kids table not realizing the amount of work that went in to preparing the meal. My only requirement was to play whatever song I was currently learning on the piano, per my grandma’s request. I loved the holiday and grew up on pretty traditional Thanksgiving fare that – in my world – revolved around turkey, mashed potatoes and pie. I can’t even remember sweet potatoes with marshmallows but I’m pretty sure my aunt makes them… and I never cared for stuffing since it was usually comprised of saved ends of bread. My taste didn’t start to change until I got a bit older and eventually had the opportunity to host the holiday a few times.

It was the opportunity to host (in addition to a deep shared interest in cooking, health and the environmental concerns associated with food) that pushed us to find new ways of creating the Thanksgiving table and find recipes that would become our own. In the process we discovered our current favorite way to cook a turkey, carve a turkey, make the best mashed potatoes (the secret is the ricer) and find a stuffing recipe that made me go from avoiding it all together to becoming one of my favorite parts of the meal. We made such an impression with our turkey cooking over the years of hosting that Matt and I are once again in charge of cooking it. We have a 18lb bird but we will be able to cook it in 2 hours or less because we wet brine + spatchcock it. I know, that’s a fun word to say, right? You basically flatten the bird out and cook it on a tray so that the meat and skin is perfect. See the resources we use in the links below and check out the free Bon Appetite Thanksgiving app if you want to discover more great recipes and twists on classics – in addition to timeline planning.

Pre – cooking Turkey prep : Wet Brine   |   Spatchcocking a Turkey   |   Perfect Crisp Turkey Skin   |    Our Favorite Stuffing (cooked in muffin tins, never in the bird)

butternut squash apple soup 3 Butternut Squash Apple Soup | Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Our tastes have also expanded, and the side dishes that fill the table and add some beautiful color have become just as interesting to me. Side dishes are also one of the easiest ways to contribute something to the meal when you are getting together with a group. Last week we tried out this Butternut Squash Apple Soup recipe and if you are looking to add something new to Thanksgiving – or contribute a dish – you should consider making this. It’s velvety, has texture and the best part is it can be made beforehand. Day of all you need to do is warm it up and the serve little cups for everyone with all the toppings (apple matchsticks, pancetta/bacon + sour cream – don’t skip the toppings they make the dish) and enjoy!

butternut squash apple soup 4 Butternut Squash Apple Soup | Thanksgiving Meal Planning

What are your Thanksgiving plans? Are you cooking or just eating? Have any secrets you want to share?

butternut squash apple soup 2 Butternut Squash Apple Soup | Thanksgiving Meal Planning

Oh yes, Matt and Daphne made crackers the day we had this soup and they used this recipe. It’s both wonderful and a test of patience to cook with kids, but the advantage is that she happily tastes almost every ingredient when we are cooking. Fresh basil? Sure! Dipping fingers in the flour? Why not! Blackstrap molasses? Tastes like candy. Okay – maybe that’s a stretch but she happily licks the molasses spoon these days.

butternut squash apple soup 6 Butternut Squash Apple Soup | Thanksgiving Meal Planning

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ellicottville engagement mary dougherty photo01 Ellicottville Engagement

The day was sunny and bright, a perfect reflection of the relationship between Eliza and Mark. On their own they are both wildly talented, easy going and down to earth in a way that will make you want to immediately find a way to be friends with them. Together they are even stronger, covering each others weaknesses and pushing each other to dream bigger. In the small village of Ellicottville, New York we met to take engagement photos. It was a short drive from Mark’s hometown of Olean, but a far cry from their current home in New Orleans. We had be planning the session around the few times they would be traveling back before the wedding and we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to do so. They would look good in any city, town or village but I can not wait to join Eliza and Mark in New Orleans for their wedding day next year. Until then enjoy these favorites from their session and stay in touch!

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  • November 21, 2014 - 5:40 pm

    Liz Krasowski - I love all the pictures! Mary, you are so talented! And Eliza and Mark look amazing! I’m so happy for you guys!

daphne snow patagonia kids photo buffalo 1 the backyard

This is our backyard. It’s a huge space, made available because we live pretty far from everything. Since I work and travel most frequently in Rochester that is the area I associate with, but in fact I live down by Letchworth State Park. It’s not easy to live here. There is a lot of driving involved with going to the grocery store, a good coffee shop, etc… but I guess in some ways that simplifies things. Instead of being able to run out at any time our trips are more planned and intentional, because they have to be. We are surrounded by nature. There are waterfalls under bridges and open fields in every direction, and it’s an interesting thing to be surrounded by space. You can breath a bit deeper and slow down when you step outside. I’m grateful for that.

We had our first good snow on Monday and Matt took Daphne out to play. If there is one thing he is good at (and there are certainly quite a few things) outdoor recreation is at the top of the list. To be able to enjoy the outdoors and invite people to share it with you is a unique gift. I think he has the Adirondacks to thank for that. We squeezed Daphne into last year’s Patagonia snowsuit and put on her newly borrowed boots and they were off : building a snowman (and a snow baby – she loves babies these days), identifying tracks, checking on the newly built sledding hill and shaking the snow off of trees and on to each other.

I can probably attribute it to the snow, or last years Christmas turned sickhouse, but soon after November rolled around, I was ready to get into the spirit. I know, I’m not typically one of those people, but something made me come around starting Christmas early. I’m really just talking about being okay with Christmas music playing, slowly getting out decorations and preparing for the advent traditions our family will share and celebrate in the days leading up to Christmas. Everything goes by too fast these days anyway, so finding ways to slow things down and enjoy moments are at the top of my list. Share your ideas with me and if you are experiencing the crazy snow storm in Buffalo right now I’m thinking + praying for you!

daphne snow patagonia kids photo buffalo 3 the backyard

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  • November 19, 2014 - 2:36 pm

    Megan Zaranek - I love it–glad Daph could squeeze into the snowsuit :) what a cute picture of her. can’t wait to join you in the more rural living…soon I hope. so the snow storm in buff isn’t getting you??

fredonia wedding buffalo mary dougherty photo01 819x1024 Fall Fredonia Wedding | Ashley + Scott

There are days that you live for. Days that define the course of your life and change everything around you. These changes might be small but they have a big impact, and a wedding day is certainly one of them. Ashley and Scott’s fall Fredonia wedding was a perfect mix of emotion, pure joy and celebration. Gathering at her parent’s house Ashley prepared with her bridesmaids at her side little niece Ezra running around. Her starbucks sat nearby – picked up with a busy morning at the salon – and details from the day filled the house. Wood burned coasters with their wedding date, the card Scott gave her with a Tiffany necklace, and flowers in bright purples and greens. It was hard to believe the day had arrived, and yet they were undoubtedly ready.

Vintage cards waited to drive Ashley to the church, where she and Scott shared a first look and began the day together. From there, we enjoyed time photographing the bridal party and capturing portraits so the whole day has an easy going flow. I felt incredibly thankful to be a part of this day, and was so taken care of while photographing with them. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of their day at the Grandview of Ellington and once again, congratulations Ashley + Scott!

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