Saving Money All Summer Long with Groupon

My family has a unique situation; in the summer months, all 4 of us are home! We sleep late, stay up later and try to fit as much in as we can. From a weekly movie with the kids to a monthly trip to Lake Erie, we set out to see, experience, complete and capture all that summer has to offer!

Thanks to my sponsor, Groupon, who inspired not only this post but also a few previous summers of fun, we can see and do it all, while saving a ton of money in the process.



From saving cash on concerts, sports events and experiences that the kids will dream about long after summer fades, to saving cash on swimsuits, beach towels and sand toys, Groupon has it covered. You can even score super sweet deals on preserving those moments that become memories with Shutterfly through Groupon.

With 3 months of time and a list that never ends, it is safe to say our summers are spent seeing, experiencing and creating memories. Summer is busy for my family, thanks to an ambition to give my kids a childhood full of fun to inspire their adult lives. Groupon has been playing a crucial role in helping me to smartly fund the endless summer fun.

Have you ever used Groupon? Tell me what you bought! If you haven't used Groupon what are you waiting for? Major retailers like Target and Starbucks are on there, as well as experiences unique to your part of the world. They are all waiting for you to discover the savings to fund your summer fun too!

If you have a great tip to help my family soak up as much summer while saving money, please make sure to leave me a comment! We always love to hear from you!

Bus Driver Thank You


I have a certain appreciation for the people that work with my son, to make sure he gets the most out of his education. This includes the bus driver. I admire her maybe the most of all, because she has sparked my sons dream of driving the bus someday when he is a grown up. To hear my 6 year old dream of a life behind the wheel makes me smile from ear to ear!

As the school year is winding down, I wanted to offer a token of appreciation to the bus driver and let her know how much we appreciate her devotion to getting the kids to school, on time and safely!

What better way to do so than to share the joy of a Hagensborg Truffle Pig!?

This treat is so simple, but the treat packs a delightful surprise of the best chocolates ever, hands down! We put a few truffle pigs in a baggie with a hand written note, signed by my kids. 





It might be a small gesture to make, to say thank you, but we love to share the finest things in life, so chocolates were the natural choice for saying, "Thanks for the sweet ride to school this year!"


A Weekend In Wayne County

This post was written by my husband Adam to reflect on our visit to Wayne County Ohio. Special thanks to the Wayne county Visitors Bureau for hosting our trip!


Sara made arrangements for us to meet Marty ,with the Wayne County Visitors and Convention Bureau, at the Barn Restaurant just on the outskirts of rural Smithville, Ohio. The trip out provided us with scenic vistas of rolling hills and gentle farmlands. This in itself was a treat for our family, who are used to the more flatter regions of north central Ohio. The kid’s joy of the ride was apparent by both my daughter’s exclamations of passing wildlife as well as my son’s frequent reminders that he could smell cow poop.


I stubbornly refused Siri’s suggestions as I pulled into the parking lot ten minutes late for our scheduled rondevu (a slight that I would shamelessly blame the robotic-voiced assistant for). As is almost always the case with small children, one cannot simply arrive at a location, pop out of the car and expect to be in “touring mode”. It seems that one challenge or tragedy begets another. Today's rear-tragedy consisted of a chocolate covered little girl and a “hangry” little boy who was still sore with us for cutting into his Angry Birds time.


A beautiful walkway led us past roaming geese and ducks looking for handfuls of feed from quarter machines spaced strategically throughout the property. The path diverted us onto a small covered bridge, which spanned an equally small creek that was the early afternoon hang out of several awkward and furry goslings. The quiet waterfowl were taking advantage of the shade the bridge provided, as well as bobbing along a babbling little waterfall just beyond the span. An assertive mother goose reminded us that she was aware of our presence and would gladly nip us in an uncomfortable place (say the pinkie toe, nostril or webbing of the hand) if we got too close to her brood. We respectfully declined her bites for the restaurant's main entrance.




The Barn Restaurant is perhaps one of the most aptly named businesses in the region. It is literally an old barn converted into a charming eating establishment. Interestingly, one of the barns shorter sides sports a glass facade, which provides dining visitors with a wonderful view of a farm pond and a hilly country backdrop.






A small visitor’s center greeted us just past the main entrance. I was of the impression that this area was created with children in mind. A miniature train located near the log ceiling would cheerily begin its circuits whenever a particular red button was pushed. Of course whenever the Lehman children were in this room, said button was depressed and the train was in perpetual motion! Similar activities included a beehive display, a gigantic, community built puzzle depicting the Manhattan sky, and various antique farm equipment with interpretive signs.


We were introduce to Marty Starkey, the kindly and informative Executive Director of the Wayne County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. I cannot stress enough the importance of speaking with a representative of a local visitor’s bureau when exploring an area for the first time. Of course this breaches the protocol of manliness, particularly where asking for directions is concerned. However, and this has been our experience, you will spend way too much time driving around aimlessly and turning around in frustration without knowledge of the area. Of course a popular alternative is to cram your glove box full of brochures whilst yelling at the poor person in the passenger’s seat who is only trying to make sense of the 1” x 1” map printed on the back of these little publications. I have suffered many a wicked paper cut from my wife who has used the edge of these brochures to swipe at me in true Game of Thrones-like fashions.


If you want to envelop yourself in the culture and feel of a place, one has to be willing to seek out a local. Otherwise, you are just an automaton marching in step with other families, window shopping the sidewalks of Main Street U.S.A. For us, Marty was just that local. A walking, talking, smiling plethora of  knowledge; here before us stood a lady devoted to getting our little family a well rounded taste of Wayne county. The fun little twist of our adventures, would be that most of our stops would be a bit off the beaten path.


Our nice talk with Marty only served to enrage the beast that is my son’s stomach. After exchanging “so longs” with the Director, it was time to turn our attention to the hostess. En route, we passed the establishments famous “Old Time Salad Wagon”. As I purused the conestoga wagon of culinary options, my daughter whom I was carrying at this point murmured something resembling “Mommy” through her binkie. It was then that I noticed that Sara and Rolf were being seated, while the kind waitress gave me a patient look.   


The Barn Restaurant has a menu full of country delights. As our visit fell in the lunchtime range, the entrees included large portions served with fresh local farm vegetables. Their kid’s menu (and accompanying crayons), provided quick, fun options for our goblins who typically chant “CHICKEN AND FRIES” when we are in an eatery. Of course this chant always seems amplified, particularly when we are seeking to minimize humiliation.


The wife and I have been working on a formula that baffles us, much like a mathematician struggles with 𝛑. The enigma is this: when is it best to order a meal for your children? When the day is long and the blood sugar is low, it seems wise to “preorder” your kids food so that the torture of them having to actually talk to you isn’t as taxing. The benefits of this choice is that your little ones get their plate a bit sooner than Mom and Dad. The downfall of this system is that your little ones get their plate a bit sooner than Mom and Dad. In other words, this gives them more time to declare that they hate what you ordered. Or, in the case of my son’s favorite stunt, eat his chicken and fries as if he is a competitive eater. This is always followed up with everyone’s favorite line, “let's go now, Dad.”


Fortunately, my children ate.
After settling the bill and tip, it was time to turn our attention to the outdoor activities that we spied on our way in, Similarly, the picturesque view of the restaurant served to tease us of the fun to come.


It wasn’t too difficult to discern that the local waterfowl are fed, and well! As I was bent over Harper, elbow deep in another diaper deposit, we were approached by both a wood duck and a Canada Goose. However, there expression soon registered something resembling confusion. They wisely chose to remain a few feet away, likely in fear of being diapered amongst their peers.


We purchased feed from quarter machines and made our way around to a gazebo, a walkway of which, jutted out into a pond. The fish were as ravenous as the geese, and our little ones enjoyed the interaction. That is of course until the feed and quarters run out. Luckily, there was a toy store on the premises.


To reach Toyrifix, all one need do is put down that duck feed, and head a matter of yards across the parking lot. This was a stroll that was welcome by all. I lagged behind so as to discreetly adjust my belt one notch. In doing so, I saw in passing a farmhouse with signage proclaiming it: The Buchanan Place. This I would later read, along with an olde time confection store, The Oak Cupboard, as well as the aforementioned Barn Restaurant, served to compromise the Barn Restaurant Shops as a whole. Since we had just eaten and had no desire to chase children within a shop full of breakables, we kept stepping.




Toyrifix has a fun, museum-like atmosphere to it. Most of the toys had a sample for children to play with. A rather neat way to diminish purchase regret. Sara and I exchanged Clint Eastwood nods in appreciation. Here were toys we remembered from our own childhoods. As my son delighted in Legos and stuffed animals, Harper and I spent some time spinning a Snake Top. This throwback from the seventies features a toy serpent which disappears and reemerges from an old school wooden top. I spied my wife gleefully in the girlie aisle.


I also spent way too much time contemplating the purchase of a toy submarine. I fondly recall receiving one of these beauties in a box of cereal back in my youth. The idea is to fill the little U-Boat with a concoction of baking soda, vinegar, and approximately thirty-four other chemicals. The results were that said sub would sink and rise hauntingly in your water glass for half a minute. It was, of course, unfortunate that the craft would then live out the rest of its days amongst corn-on-the-cob holders in the dish drainer.


Of course, those weren’t the only “blast from the past” toys to assault our senses. The shelves are stocked with treasures such as the Uncle Wiggily Board Game, wooden Labyrinths, Frontier Logs, Ant Farms and Jack-in-the-boxes. The merchandise within harkened back to a simpler time, whereas devices with wi-fi connection hadn’t yet gained control over our children’s imaginations.However, it is interesting to note that a good deal of the toys within Toyrifix are scientifically themed. In other words, parents back in the day also wanted their children to have a fun playing experience, whilst learning something in the process.


In the end, our little ewoks chose a dolly and a Lego contraption as their souvenirs. As Sara squared up the bill, I grabbed the kids, gave the Snake Top another spin and headed for the door.


Overall, our experience at the Barn Restaurant Shops was good. We took some nice photos of our visit, and Rolf and Harper are (as of this writing) still fond of that Lego set and a doll baby. I could only hope that residents of nearby Wooster appreciate this little nook within their backyard.


As for the Lehmans, we were sold the minute we stepped into the restaurant lobby. As we took in the kid-friendly environment, my children were approached by the host. Until our entrance, this kindly man had been standing vigilant guard over the daily specials board. He asked Rolf and Harper if they would like to see the Queen Bee. He then proceeded to lead them to the Honeybee display, and sure enough, to the delight of our six and two-year-olds, he quickly pointed her out to us. This guy clearly did this not as a work requirement, but because he was a thoughtful person who wanted to share his knowledge with our kids. I like to think that this is a reflection of Wayne County Hospitality.


As for us? We packed up, took Marty’s recommendations and headed to the first stop on the list: Kid’s Day in Downtown Wooster. But that as they say...is another story.


The Barn Restaurant Shops are located at:
877 West Main Street
Smithville, Ohio  44677
(330) 669-2555


GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 40.85672109999999
Longitude: -81.8706656
Lehman: :{)


Our friend Martha Starkey is the Executive Director of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Located at:
428 West Liberty
Wooster, Ohio  44691
(330) 264-1800


GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 40.7970534
Longitude: -81.94697819999999

Lehman: :)

#StaplesEZr Special Savings Event

This post has been sponsored, but all opinions are my own.

Graduation is coming up fast and so is the summer wedding season! My list of gifts to buy is growing longer by the moment, but there is something not growing longer; the amount of time I have to fit in the normal grind, typical parenting moments, racing to sports practices and somehow find my way into a dozen shops to thoughtfully select the perfect gift.

Feeling overwhelmed? I know I was!

If you too have a to do, to get, to wrap list that is a mile long, stop stressing and smile. I am going to give you a tip to help you give a great gift while saving time and money. Yes, you read that right, we are going to save both time and money without skipping anyone on our gift giving list!

From now until the 29th, you need to detour into Staples. Chances are you need something they have anyhow, and while you are at it, you want to bee-line right to their gift card selection. When you stock up the gift that is as good as cash, but a little more secure you will get a $20 Staples gift card by rebate when you buy $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards!

See store for details.
Find a Staples near you! http://bit.ly/1QRYPwB   




Grads, Dads, Newly Weds and more will love the gift of a MasterCard, to use however they please! If you are a busy mom like me, you will be grateful for a Staples gift card when back to school shopping season rolls around.

I can always use a MasterCard if I am gifting or not! This sweet deal makes it lucrative to buy the gift cards for paying bills and buying groceries. $20 is no laughing matter unless you are laughing all the way from Staples, with a car full of school supplies that you shopped smart for! {If you double dip on your credit card rewards program, you might be laughing all the way home uncontrollably!!}

This offer ends on 4/29, so skip into your local Staples today to start saving! If you feel lucky, enter to win a gift card! I hope you win the $50 prize!


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Fashion and Function with an Eco Hug from prAna

This conversation has been sponsored, but all opinions are my own.

Versatile clothing is a must have for this busy mom. I like to maintain a classy casual look that can work no matter where I am. Finding clothes that meets my need for function and fashion can be challenging because I consider my environmental footprint with all purchases.

When I spied the prAna line, I had a starry eyed surprise!  prAna clothing is made to accommodate any adventure, and the items are first and foremost mindfully made in order to support fair trade and sustainable practices. prAna actually has only one core belief and that is to give back more than we take from the world. That belief sits well with my mindset and they have some absolutely fabulous options for functional fashion that can multi-task whether you are headed to work, a baseball field to cheer on the kids, or on a hike.



I really liked this Open Knit Parker Sweater. The dusty skies color compliments most of my wardrobe nicely. It is toasty without being bulky, it is the ultimate sweater for spring.


I swooned for the Liana Sweater in moonrock. The color is a gorgeous charcoal-esque shade and this sweater is eye catching to say the least. It is pretty, can be dressed up or down, and highlights the female figure nicely!



If you aren't sure why making environmental choices are important when it comes to fashion, you will want to check out this video about Why Hemp Matters. It has great info for making fashionable choices with great benefits to our planet!

If you want to get your hands on prAna at a great price, you are going to want to snag this coupon and put it to use before May 19th. Visit prAna and use code MHMS17SL. 

I would love to hear how you find clothes that work for business and pleasure. Leave me a comment!

Easy Aquarium Craft for Kids


This easy aquarium craft is perfect for kids of a variety of ages. It gives them a chance to explore their fondness of fish and get creative! Requiring simple supplies, this is sure to be a fun activity kids will flip a fin for!


 This post contains affiliate links. 



My kids love to look at the fish whenever we visit a shop that sells them! I am convinced that between the free cookie at the bakery and a chance to look at the fish the kids look forward the grocery store more than almost anything!

They have been asking if we can get an aquarium, but I hesitate. I am solely responsible for the care of the hamster they begged for last year. Now, don't get me wrong, Hamish, the winter white hamster has brought me a lot of joy, but I am not looking to dive into the world of fish keeping!


To appeal to their interest and buy a little time, in hopes they move on from fish to something else before they talk me into buying a tank we made this incredibly easy fish tank craft! We used two sided tape and contact paper for this project, but you can use construction paper and glue if that is what you have on hand!



Supplies:
A piece of green card stock
A section of contact paper or a piece of blue cardstock 
2  or more colors of construction paper
scissors
googly eyes




Directions:

Cut your contact paper or blue cardstock to resemble a fish bowl.
Cut several fish shapes from your construction paper
Secure the fish inside the fish bowl with two-sided tape


Secure the eyes to the fish using two-sided tape




This was an easy activity for the kids to complete together. They needed a little help with the contact paper but overall did a great job smoothing it out. We proudly displayed this one on the fridge!


Easy Yoda Puppet

May the 4th is right around the corner and Star Wars fans will love this super easy and cute craft to add a little force fun to the special day!



                                        My son Rolf, is the biggest Star Wars fan ever.

He loves to play with Star Wars action figures after school! I wanted to add something fun to his daily Star Wars play and I made something cute and easy to delight him!

This is so easy, all you need are 2 ovals of green paper, a circle of green paper, a popsicle stick, 2 googly eyes and some glue.



Begin by gluing the oval ear shapes to the large circle of paper.

Next glue those onto the craft stick.

Add the eyes and draw on a smile.
There you have an easy Yoda craft puppet!




Special Savings Event at Albertsons #MyMixxv17

This conversation has been sponsored, but you know the chit chat comes from yours truly!

You guys know I like to save money! It is my duty as the financial manager of my family to make our buck get as much bang as possible! When I heard about the special savings event running through 4/22 at Albertsons, I knew I needed to jump on it! You are going to want to dash over to Albertsons and save some cash too!

Right now is the best time to buy Visa gift cards, and lots of them too. At Albertsons, you are going to save big on your Visa purchases too! Visa gift cards are PERFECT for graduation and mothers day gifts. But, think about this, you can totally use a Visa gift card for a non-gift reason too!

I buy them at these prices to pay my bills and save $10!

Listen to this:

Purchase $100 or more in Visa gift cards & get $10 off. Find an Albertson's store near you! http://bit.ly/1dtF0Mn  

Think about double dipping on this deal too!




  • Buy $100 or more in Visa gift cards, get $10 off
  • Earn Credit Card Rewards: By using your favorite rewards credit card to purchase, you can earn points, miles or a percentage back on your purchase.
  • Gift cards are great for graduation gifts or a great way to save on new spring clothes.
  • Savings like this are a win/win
  • Find an Albertsons store near you: http://bit.ly/1dtF0Mn   

I will be buying a few Visa gift cards this week to make my cash stretch further while building up to a future reward with my credit card company!

A deal this sweet is the perfect reason to celebrate! One lucky reader is going to win a $50 gift card! Get your entries in today to try your luck!



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#Omaxv15 Savings Event

This is a sponsored conversation.

I consider it part of my job as a wife and mother, aka family manager, to find creative ways to save money, improve our lives and take advantage of deals. If I can get more bang for our buck, everyone is a little happier in result.

When a special savings event like this one at Office Max rolls around, I am going to take advantage of it for sure! Right now if you buy $300 or more in Visa gift cards you can save $15 instantly. $15 is nothing to scoff at! Let me tell you why I will buy Visa gift cards today and how you can make this deal work to your advantage.



I have bills to pay folks, and lots of them! I would pull out my visa card to pay them, but this month, I am going to pay every bill with a prepaid via gift card. If I can save $15 here and there, that adds up to a fun activity or event for my kids, that we might have normally skipped due to expenses!

With Easter coming up this weekend, a visa gift card is a great way to gift. Who needs candy? I know I prefer cash or gift cards!

This deal runs til the 15th, so make sure you hop over to Office Max. You work hard for your money, a few moments of time while you stock up on paper and printer ink can help keep that cash in your pocket.

To recap:


  • Buy $300 or more in Visa Gift Cards, save $15 instantly
  • Earn Credit Card Rewards: By using your favorite rewards credit card to purchase, you can earn points, miles or a percentage back on your purchase.
  • Gift cards are great for Easter Baskets or save on new spring clothes.
  • Savings like this are a win/win
  • Find an Office Max near you: http://bit.ly/1EYdvB8  
To share the cheer of Easter and celebrate the joy of savings I have a fun giveaway to share with you!!



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Why I Dryel

This post was sponsored by Dryel. All opinions are my own.

If you are anything like me, you put your family first more often than not. Around the holidays it became evident that I am guilty of this, especially when it comes to fashion! My kids have closets bursting with clothes, while I have a small wardrobe that could be considered a capsule if it were an intentional assortment of clothes.



After one horrible afternoon of realizing my Mom Wear was not acceptable and action needed to happen, I went shopping and purchased a new wardrobe. I knew it was more than just clothes. I made an investment in my happiness, and I wanted to keep my new clothes looking new. There was one clear choice for me, in that moment, I became a Dryel Mom.



I know what you are thinking. Why? What a pain that has to be. Ladies, let me tell you a secret to always having awesome clothes in record time. I turn to Dryel for my laundry needs.  My tops, bras, and slacks. My skirts and my t-shirts, as well as my shorts, are all entrusted to Dryel to keep them looking and smelling great.



In January I bought new clothes. In April, they still look brand new. I know, that sounds too good to be true, but picture this; my husband tells me a month ago, "I know I said you should buy a new wardrobe, but I didn't mean a new outfit for every day of the year." I laughed and told him I didn't buy that many new things, but he insisted my slacks were new, they were a first time wear.




Dryel makes my clothes look new, long after the first wear. I LOVE LOVE LOVE that. But, as a busy mom, there is something I love even more than that. The time Dryel
saves me. 




From start to finish, laundry is at least a 2 our endeavor with each load. Who has time for that? Not me. With Dryel, for an average load, my laundry takes 15 to 30 minutes tops. Dryel has been saving both time and money in my life. Both are limited resources, so it makes sense to maximize on both!



Dryel can be used on a variety of materials. If you are a mom that wants to make her mom wear last longer, or a professional with no time to hit the dry cleaners, Dryel works wonderfully to carefully clean clothes to keep them looking new for longer while saving you a TON of time!

#GE20per50 Savings Event

This is a sponsored conversation.

Easter is this weekend you guys, if you are like me, you are running late on those treats to fill the baskets. Oops! I am headed to Giant Eagle right now to stock up on sweets, treats and gift cards to make the holiday a little hoppier!

If you go to Giant Eagle right now, you can score special savings. Listen to this you guys:

By using your favorite rewards credit card to purchase, you can earn points, miles or a percentage back on your purchase. Some credit cards even offer increased rewards for purchases made at grocery store!

$50 or more in select gift cards at Giant Eagle amounts to big savings on your gas purchases with this deal! You earn 20 cents off a gallon with each purchase of $50 in gift cards, that is no laughing matter!

These savings can help get you to Grandma's house for dinner or help keep those gas expenses down on a spring break adventure. Double dipping on your credit card with this deal amounts to even better savings!



As a mom and wife, saving for my family is important to me. It helps keep us happy and on the go. Savings events like this one at Giant Eagle give us a chance to keep the fun going longer without sacrificing anything in return!

To recap how you can take advantage of this deal:


    • Earn 20¢ fuelperks! for every $50 spend on select gift cards
    • Earn Credit Card Rewards: By using your favorite rewards credit card to purchase, you can earn points, miles or a percentage back on your purchase.
    • Gift cards are great for Easter Baskets or save on new spring clothes.
    • Savings like this are a win/win
  • Find your local store here: http://bit.ly/2nDB70T


If you feel lucky you can enter to win a gift card as a part of this event!



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Capturing Moments with Portrait Innovations


This conversation has been sponsored, but the opinons and views expressed are my own. 

There is one thing my family has neglected since we became a family; portraits. While it was something we wanted to do, having time to do it was always an issue. Life moves pretty fast when you are in the thick of parenting. So fast, that one day I woke up to find those tiny babies were movers and shakers, climbing on the bus and heading off to school and becoming their own people.

That moment of realization, of recognition that these kids aren't going to be kids forever, that there is no time like the present to capture the magic of childhood made me take a step back and reconsider this making time for portraits situation.

We headed into Portrait Innovations and found that really, the process isn't as demanding as I had imagined it would be. It was actually quite fun and not like a task at all.




The kids might be growing, but they are ages 3 and 6. Mischief is the middle name at that age, but the people at Portrait Innovations were prepared for that, with Lego tables and kid friendly photographers, my kids were on their best behavior, having fun and saying cheese like a couple of professionals. The studio is very comfortable and inviting.




Overall, the process took about 90 minutes. We loved having choices in backgrounds, from holiday-themed to a rustic wood wall, there were so many options for a great family photo that the hardest part was selecting which ones we wanted.

The photographer was great. She was able to capture fantastic shots of my kids, as well as photos that were hilariously candid. She captured this moment which we all had a great laugh about!




We loved that the process was complete in under 2 hours and we went home with an assortment of lovely family photos that we will cherish for years to come. The photos captured our family as we are. We wanted to preserve a moment in time and that is exactly what we accomplished with our photo session at Portrait Innovations.



I loved how many options were available; from canvas prints to coffee mugs and photo greeting cards to assorted sizes, there is no better time to visit a local studio and capture a moment in time with your family.



Portrait Innovations is offering their best spring special ever. The Spring 24 Portrait Package is only $19.99 plus a Free $100 16x20 Canvas with coupon found by clicking this link


Included in the portrait package is 1-10x13 Wall Portrait, 2-8x10s, 4-5x7s, 4-3x5s, 8-2x3s, and 5-5x7 cards, plus a high-resolution CD with your favorite pose. And, you can save 20% on all additional purchases in the studio. Portrait Innovations never charges sitting fees so bring the whole family. Appointments are limited so schedule your appointment today!




If you feel lucky, why not try your luck at winning some cash after getting those portraits taken? Visit the landing page and then share your entry on social media and include the link to your friends and family to vote. The top 20 people that get the most votes will be judged by Portrait Innovations. There will be 5 winners, each receiving $1,000!