Jan 17, 2014

So, recently my sister posted a picture on Facebook of a semi pulling an Amazon.com trailer with the caption “My Book Order is Here” on Facebook.  Her joke was that it reminded her of me.

Yes, admittedly, I have always been a book nerd.  My Grandma Rankin taught me to read when I was four years old, and my nose has been stuck in a book ever since.  My parents used to joke that I’d never know how to get anywhere because I was always reading when in the car (those pockets on the backs of the front seat make the BEST book holders!), and I used to get excited in high school when a friend’s parents would get their new TIME magazine that I could read.  I was a GOOD time, let me tell ya!  That quote from Jerry Maguire…the one where Renee Zellweger says that a glass of wine and a good book is her idea of a great evening?  Yep..that’s me!

I still love a good book.  On the first of every month, I excitedly scan Amazon.com’s monthly list of books for $3.99 or less, and while I do like the convenience of getting a book immediately on my iPad, overall, I still prefer an actual book with pages.  There’s something textural and nostalgic about it.  Oh, and I’m a total underliner too…I rarely use bookmarks, as most of my books have red pens in them so that I can underline my favorite parts, quotes, and passages.  The added benefit of being my friend is that when you borrow one of MY books, I’ve made it clear which parts are important!!

Back to my sister’s Facebook joke – my aunt left a comment that she needed a good book to read…as I come from an entire family of readers, and I know her pain.  What’s a girl to do when you get done with a book and the next one’s not sitting there waiting?!!!  I like to have at least six books waiting there for me.

So, here’s a few of the good books I’ve read in the last 12-18 months….the ones that kept me up at night…the books that made me chew on my nails…the ones that I know will be on my ‘will read again definitely’ list.

“Unbroken” by Lauren Hillenbrand – OK, I was late on the bandwagon with this one…it was out a long time before I read it…and this is probably the most well-known of my recommendations.  We read it in my book club, and it was amazing…the true story of an Olympic runner whose plane goes down during WWII.  He fights sharks for countless days on the Pacific just to be ‘rescued’ by the Japanese.  It’s currently be made into a movie….I can’t wait, but am also nervous Angelina Jolie, the director, will ruin it for me.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom – Like a lot of people, I love reading historical accounts of WWII lives.  I knew of Corrie Ten Boom’s story, but had never read her biography.  What happens when you have two middle-aged spinsters living with their elderly father in Amsterdam during WWII?  In the Ten Boom’s situation, you become one of the largest hiders and protectors of Jews.  What started with helping just one Jew find a place to hide in the country turned into these three elderly people becoming a major hub of Amsterdam’s underground Nazi resistance.  The family was eventually caught, and what I will always remember  from this book was that as the two sisters stood in line during inspections by the Nazi’s at the concentration camp, they prayed…not for themselves and their lives…but that the soldiers would one day be convicted of their sins and ask for forgiveness from God.

Along those same lines, the story of “The Kommandant’s Mistress” kept me awake all night.  The store of a beautiful Jewish girl and the obsessed commander of a camp who keeps her in the corner of his office.  She was lucky in her access to food, clothes, and warmth, but she was ostracized by her own people…the other members of the camp who hated her for the basics of life of which they had no access.

So, one night I’m on the phone with a bride out of Springfield talking about her wedding day, and we get to chatting about how much we love history, and I begin rambling on and on about this book that I’m reading and can’t put down called “The Orphan Master’s Son”…after two minutes of me babbling like an idiot, I began apologizing profusely…because surely I’m the only person in the world who thinks that the way North Korea has shut themselves off from the rest of the world is intriguing.  Lucky for me, I babbled to the right bride…her family was originally from Korea, and so we bonded over that book!  Seriously, if there’s a book that will make you love the United States and realize what a precious country it is, this is it!  With their lack of family, orphans in North Korea are sent to do the worst of the worst work, for if they should die, they would not be missed.  The main character of this novel becomes somewhat of a Forrest Gump and takes advantage of every situation he’s put in to rise above his circumstances.  Read this book!!

“Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers - This was a booked picked for book club, and I postponed reading it until two days before our meeting.  I had read one of Ms. River’s previous books, and had been a bit underwhelmed by it.  But, wow!!  I literally stayed up all night reading it once I started!  Based on the book of Haggai in the bible, the main character of this book, Michael, rescues a prostitute, who had been sold into prostitution at the age of 8, in an old mining town and vows to God that he will love her regardless of her past and what happens in the future.  Despite his kindness and gentleness, time and again, she leaves him and returns to her brothel.  Metaphorical to God’s love for us, this book pulls you in and doesn’t let you go…and along the way shows you how there is no difference between us and Angel.

There are a few others that I loved from this past year, but I’ll save those for another post!  So, put a pot of coffee on, grab a blanket, and curl up with one of these good reads over this cold and windy weekend!


Next week is our family portrait session.  And, believe it or not, I go through the same anxiety and indecisiveness as you do.  What to wear?  Do I bring bribes for the kids?  What if the kids cry the whole time?  Will my husband pretend he’s enjoying this and give a convincing smile? 

Sound familiar?

Well, yesterday I had our consultation with our photographer to plan the session.  I’m pretty sure the conversation went something like this:


Her:  Kelly, for your family portrait, are you thinking vertical?  Square?  Horizontal?

Me:  Whatever makes me look like a size 4.

Her:  Kelly, do you envision your family portrait as being from a distance or a family close-up?

Me:  Whatever makes me look like a size 4.

Her:  What colors are you planning on wearing with the autumn trees?

Me:  Whatever makes me look like a size 4.

Her:  Are there any activities or traditions that you, Nick, and the kids do that you’d like to capture and remember?

Me:  Clearly, activities that have not made me a size 4.


The McCormick family is taking up triathlon training beginning tomorrow as a family hobby…Max not being potty-trained yet might give him a benefit in the swimming leg of the training.


Happy Wednesday!


Oct 06, 2013

A Glamorous Country Wedding

We sat in a small winery, Willett’s, in our hometown, …it was winter, but inside it was glowing and warm.  We talked farming.  And when I say ‘we’, I mean all three of us…me, the groom, and the bride.  We had all three been raised on farms.  Al three of us are still involved in agriculture.  We talked grain. We talked livestock.  As only farm kids can do.

But we also talked weddings.  In the bride’s words, she wanted her wedding to be ‘glamorous country.’  She wanted sophisticated cream flowers and glowing candles, but she also wanted their reception to embody their love for the farm, their families, and their friends.


Jeffrey and Jenny,

Thank you so much.  You succeeded in every way.  Not only was it an honor to be a part of your wedding day, but it was also a blessing to serve a couple who were as excited about their marriage as they were for the wedding itself.

Blessings on you both,




Jeffrey and Jenny had an AMAZING creative team.  We have been emailing each other this past week re-living their wedding day and talking about the beauty of not only the detail images but them as a couple as well!

Church:  St. John’s Lutheran Church

Reception:  Par-a-Dice Hotel, East Peoria, IL

Lisa Ragan with Happily Ever After Weddings – Event Planning and Coordination.

Scott with Sound & Light Creations – Chandeliers, Lighting, and Dapping.

Beth Maxwell with McKinley Park Events – All florals, ceremony decor, and reception decor.

Sara E Designs – All stationary, wooden table numbers, and custom signs.

Patrick N Swayze – Music and Entertainment at the Reception

Ingrid with White Lily Productions – Videography

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0002Everyone knows I’m a sucker for a ring shot.  I love it.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0003Jenny’s cat…I think her mom told me she showed it in 4-H when she was a child!!  In any case, the kitty wasn’t happy I woke her from her nap to take pictures in Jenny’s childhood bedroom!

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0004 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0005Jenny bought this family bible as a gift for Jeffrey.  He got it later in the day, but we used it for a few pictures first!

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0006I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED these shoes!

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0007Of every wedding I’ve ever been a part of, this was the most amazing veil I’ve seen.  The details around the edges were so intricate.  It was just beautiful.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0008Almost time to get dressed.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0009 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0010 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0011 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0012 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0013 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0014Jenny’s mom was so bubbly and kind!  “Are you hungry?  Here – Eat!!  Drink!!  Grab whatever you need!!”  As soon as we got to Jenny’s parents’ farm, her Dad told us to hop in the truck and he took us on tour of the farm so that we could figure out the best places to shoot.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0015 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0016One of my favorite shots ever.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0017At each wedding, there is always that special moment between a mom and a daughter.  It is my goal at every single wedding to capture that, as I know that in the years to come, it will be cherished.

 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0018 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0019 So beautiful.



st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0001Jeffrey and his brother Benjamen escoring their mother down the aisle.  Background story on Jeffrey’s family.  When I was little, his parents and my parents were in “Young Farmers” together…a group of people through the Farm Bureau that would meet.  I don’t remember the get-togethers, but my older sister does.  But, we’ve known Jeffrey’s family for years.

 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0002Jenny’s brothers escorted her mom down the aisle.

 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0003 Jeffrey’s nephews announced the bride.

st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0004 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0005 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0006There are 30 years between us, but I want this dress.

 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0007Jeffrey, waiting for his bride.

  st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0009 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0010 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0011 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0012I love the look on Jeffrey’s mom’s face off to the left.

 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0013 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0014st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0016

Jeffrey and Jenny’s wedding began at 3:00.  The pastor told the story that at the rehearsal the night before Jeffrey’s mom stated that until 2:59pm the next day, Jeffrey was still hers.  But from 3:00 on, he was all Jenny’s responsibility!!

st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0015  st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0017A good dad.

   st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0020A good laugh during the service.

  st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0022 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0023Giving the mom’s and dad’s the love and respect they deserve.

 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0024  st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0026 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0027 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0028 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0029 st-john-green-valley-il-wedding-picture-0030  The releasing of the doves.

central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0021After the ceremony, the entire wedding party headed back to Jenny’s parents’ farm for pictures.  Could we have asked for a more beautiful location?  But, what’s everyone looking at?


central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0023Ahhh, yes, it’s the limo-bus that got stuck in the field!!  But that’s the handy thing about farm boys.  No big deal – Jenny’s brother ran back to the shed and brought a truck out to pull the limo-bus out.  All good!

central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0022  Now I’ve got mostly everyone’s attention!central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0024 While the bus was getting un-stuck, I took a few minutes with Jeffrey and Jenny alone.  Stunning images of a beautiful couple.


central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0025 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0026 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0027I love this image of Jeffrey and the way he’s looking at Jenny.

central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0028 I couldn’t ask anything more…beautiful bride, stunning location, and the perfect amount of wind blowing through the wind and the veil.


central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0029 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0030My favorite image of the day. central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0031 central-il-farm-wedding-photo-0032 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0019While we were taking pictures at Jenny’s farm, the wedding guests headed to the wedding reception at the Paradice Hotel and Casino in Peoria, IL.  Upon entering the cocktail reception area, Beth Maxwell’s team had put together a beautiful vintage farm scene to welcome Jenny and Jeffrey’s guests.

Yep, they brought it an antique tractor surrounded by stalks of corn.


Guests found their table number by referencing antique window panes.


paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0020There were more window frames suspended from the ceiling displaying pictures of loved ones who could not be there on that special day.


 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0003The ballroom was magnificent thanks to her entire creative team.  It was bathed in warm light, beautiful cream and pink flowers, and once again, a nod to their country roots, gorgeous Babies Breath.


paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0006 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0007 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0008It might have been a tad improper and unprofessional, but I wanted to take a few of those chandeliers home for my own home.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0009  paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0011 Ohhhh, the cake….and once again, every attention to detail with the pale pink petals on the skirt.


paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0013Jenny’s dad gave a sweet speech of thanks…along with props!  He told tales of Jenny and wished Jeffrey all the luck in getting her out of her future scrapes!

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0014 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0015 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0016 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0017    Giving thanks for the family and friends both with them that day and those that could not be there, but who were remembered.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0021 Taking a break from the celebration!

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0022 Yummy gifts for the guests.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0023 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0024Tears of joy and laughter during the toasts.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0025 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0026  One of my all-time favorite images of a first dance EVER.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0028 I love this look on Jeffrey’s mom’s face.  And equal mixture of pride and love.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0029 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0030 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0031Yes, this is an AWESOME reception.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0032So many thoughts of love and thanks in this image.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0033Wait!  What’s Dad mad about?!!

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0034Now, I have been to weddings where the groom and bride have performed “Gangnam Style”…but it was an epic crowd-please when the bride and her dad performed it for the crowd!!

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0038  paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0036 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0037  paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0039 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0040Three generations.

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0041 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0043   Let’s take a minute to talk about the band.  AWESOME!  They’d start a new song, and I’d think to myself, “Oh!  This is a good one!”…all night long that happened!

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0044 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0045 paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0046paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0042

paradise-peoria-il-wedding-reception-photo0027Jeffrey and Jenny….God’s blessings on you both…now and forever.  ~Kelly

Please take a moment and leave a note of congratulations to Jeffrey and Jenny in the comments!

Last week I had a bad case of bronchitis.  During my coughing and hacking, I found the end of Pinterest.  Yep, I laid on the couch and thumbed through Pinterest until I was at the point that I had seen images four or five times in the same day.

I’m better this week, but I didn’t want Etsy to feel so left out after all my one-on-one time spent with Pinterest; so, I gave it some much-needed attention this past weekend.  Below are a few of the lovelies I found that I thought I would share with you….

Happy Wednesday!

 I adore this pillow.



I want to order this dress for Colby sooooo badly, but I know she won’t wear it because it’s not loud with hot pink and purple sequins all over it.


il_570xN.310307893 Is it possible for kitchen towels to make a person happy?


il_340x270.419778185_itf7 Hold on!  Hold on!  I need to get my 17 different color of ink pens to make graphs with for Econ class!!  :)


il_570xN.323773875 Is it possible for kitchen towels to force someone to sit down on the couch and immerse themselves into Pride and Prejudice?  Yes, I do believe this particular kitchen towel holds this type of magical power.


il_570xN.409954050_rlqt The tailoring, structure, and beauty of this coat with tiny kick pleats in the back makes me want to cry….or sit at an outdoor cafe and sip espresso on a sunny November day…..in London…


il_570xN.461761232_m4yh …wearing these earrings….



…and this scarf.


il_570xN.385227824_j7el But I’m not all serious all of the time….I WILL be sporting this tee at the annual Christmas festivities weekend this year!  :)



My friend Jen and I are a ready to hop a play to England and wait for that darn baby to be born.  We’ll need this notebook for the trip.



But I’ll need this notebook for the rest of my life plans.



…and this one too….because it’s hard to conquer the world using nefarious ideas with just one notebook.


il_570xN.418436184_sn4v Along the way, I think I’ll pick up this little gift for my sister Kori, who I think has an entire Pinterest board dedicated to ‘how to be an introvert’…just in case she’s missing a few tricks in her little arsenal of ‘how to be left alone’.


Along with all the beauties above that I do desperately want, I discovered a few that I do not, in fact, want.


Like this comb set…made of dentures.  ?????

il_570xN.465694194_nfqt And the matching bracelet?  The above-mentioned sister Kori and I discussed this.  Is this a situation where family members didn’t have the nerve to tell someone that what they were creating wasn’t quite right?  Do they all sport them because they love them?  Or is the creator sitting in a cabin somewhere in the woods of Montana chunking these babies out and saving for a remote cabin expansion?

il_570xN.453468919_bnvp Meowwwwwww…….


…and if the kitties are a bit to risqué’, then there is always this more modest underwear option.  :)

I thought it only fitting that today, the 4th of July, our nation’s birthday, that I should post images from the most genuine and patriotic wedding I have ever been the privilege to be a part of.  Genuine in the couples’ love for family, friends, their country…and each other.

When wedding industry insiders talk about the ‘details’, we’re usually talking about the floral arrangements, the rings, and the party gifts; however, for Josh and Kristen’s wedding, the details were tiny little surprises laid out throughout the day for all of those that they loved and treasured in their life….tiny little emotional gifts that were akin to opening up a present whose inside treasures made each of us present stop, smile, and remind us of why we were all there…tiny little gifts that told the story of two people who in the midst of the beauty of the ‘traditional details,’ also reminded us all that the details in life that we need to remember are each other, our friends, our families, and those that have given their time and lives so that we can live in a country where we freely enjoy these things.

Kristen and Josh, I know you’re enjoying the sands of Jamaica right now…but thank you for allowing me to be a part of your wedding day, the joyful celebration of family and friends that it was.  Blessings to you both….Kelly

The Story of Josh and Kristen’s Day

The beautiful Ewing Manor in Bloomington, IL, provided a gorgeous setting for the wedding party to get ready.  I was ready to pack a bag and move in….oh! the delicious details of older homes.

Ewing Manor Wedding.02 Ewing Manor Wedding

20130629.Zimmerman-1103_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1105_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1106_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1107_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1108_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1109_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1110_blog Kristen’s Mom helped her down the stairs for her ‘first look’ with Josh.

20130629.Zimmerman-1111_blogTheir first look….it never disappoints!!

20130629.Zimmerman-1112_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1113_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1114_blog Kristen and Josh wrote vows for each other….vows for the just the two of them to remember for the rest of their lives.  I took a couple of brief images and then stepped out of the room….to give them time alone…and to regain my own composure.

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20130629.Zimmerman-1127_blog Josh and Kristen were married at the lovely Evelyn Chapel on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan.

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A note about the service….mainly the sermon.  One of the blessings of being a wedding photographer is that you get so many chances to hear different pastors’ sermons about marriage.  I listen to each one intently and consider it one of God’s gifts that I am reminded so often of the gifts God offers us through marriage.  I have to say, the message crafted by their pastor was the best I had ever heard.  It was a message of longevity, collaboration as a couple, the blessings that God bestows us on through marriage…that marriage was given to us by God to make us whole, as a mirror of his relationship with us, his church.  And just as him, we should never falter.

20130629.Zimmerman-1138_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1139_blog  20130629.Zimmerman-1141_blog  20130629.Zimmerman-1143_blog   20130629.Zimmerman-1146_blog The happy couple!20130629.Zimmerman-1147_blog

20130629.Zimmerman-1148_blog Josh is a firefighter, and as a surprise, Kristen had an antique fire truck waiting for them outside the chapel.

20130629.Zimmerman-1149_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1150_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1151_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1152_blog I adored the cowboy boots with the turquoise that the bridesmaids switched their heels for!20130629.Zimmerman-1153_blog Has there ever been a cake that has more accurately described a bride and groom?!!20130629.Zimmerman-1157_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1158_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1159_blog Kristen’s Dad gave a heart-warming speech about the new couple.

20130629.Zimmerman-1160_blogIt evoked laughter….20130629.Zimmerman-1161_blog …and tears.20130629.Zimmerman-1162_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1163_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1165_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1166_blog Kristen and Josh are passionate supporters of the Center for Wounded Veterans in Champaign, IL  At the reception, they let their guests know that a donation had been made to the fund in their honor.20130629.Zimmerman-1167_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1168_blogThey then asked all of the veterans present to stand for acknowledgement.  There were so many in attendance….every single one of Josh’s groomsmen had served our country.  This says so much about the type of people they call friends.

20130629.Zimmerman-1169_blog It was also Kristen’s grandmother’s birthday.   She was surprised with a little celebration all her own.20130629.Zimmerman-1170_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1171_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1172_blogWhen Kristen asked her grandmother if it was ok to have her wedding on her birthday, her grandmother stated that that would be just fine and that they’d dance together in celebration.   20130629.Zimmerman-1173_blog So they did.20130629.Zimmerman-1178_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1179_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1180_blog 20130629.Zimmerman-1181_blog While we were outside getting a few more images of Josh and Kristen, these two distinguished gentlemen were on their way out of the reception.  They were two World War II veterans that Kristen had escorted on the World War II Honor Flights.

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