The Blog

TheAmy Allender Blog is where you can find all the latest projects, freshest faces, and most current happenings from Amy Allender and The Art of Living Project.  Here, you’ll find inspiration for everyday living, Christian devotionals, awkward moments, design inspiration, and tales of my misadventures as I navigate life in Minot, North Dakota {or, as I call it…Practically Canada.}  I would sincerely love to have you follow along.

If you’d like more information on services I offer and products I sell, check out the photography, design and shop pages.

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Stella {Newborn Photos}

home newborn session

This is Stella.  Isn’t she just about the cutest thing??  When I arrived at her house she was sound asleep in her mama’s arms.  Warm, snuggly, peaceful.  So we laid out the soft, cozy blanket and the soft, comfy pillow.  Stella laid down, sound asleep.  Then I pulled the plug.  I pulled the lime green, pacifying plug.


It was incredible.  Like flipping a switch, as soon as the pacifier was out the wiggling began.  Still seemingly asleep, but now squirming around.  Tossing and turning and throwing arms in every direction.  Not one to risk letting a sleeping newborn wake up, I put the plug back in.  Immediately–sleeping again.


This happened several more times.  Plug out.  Wiggle, cry a bit.  Plug in.  Sound asleep.  Plug out.  Arms flying, crying.  Plug in. Peaceful, sound asleep.  Eventually through a slow, methodical technique of removing the plug over the course of several minutes–she stayed asleep.  And the camera could see her whole, gorgeous face–without the lime green pacifier blocking it.  Comical, precious, and totally worth the patience.

newborn on blanket photos


Vintage basket newborn photos


Toward the end of her session she finally did wake up.  For real wake up.  Look at these bright eyes.  She was squirmy and happy and I loved capturing every moment of her personality.

awake newborn photos

I’m so honored to have been invited in to Stella’s home to get these first ever portraits of her.  Congratulations on the new arrival of this precious blessing!



The Addingtons { Winter Family Photos }

winter family photos

Many moons ago Heather bought a mini session I donated to a silent auction.  Her gorgeous {and very fun} family opted to wait and use their session once we had snow…which turned out to be a pretty tall order.   Even at Christmas card time we didn’t have snow and I was waltzing around in a sweater with no jacket.  When the snow finally came, it brought icy temperatures and wind chill advisories.  And although winter family photos look awesome {see above} and sound so fun and snowy…no one likes to suffer through with red eyes and noses and kids crying frozen tears because they are miserable and cold.


So we waited and rescheduled and rescheduled again.  Then–just as we were about to throw in the towel and wait until March–Minot gave us a gorgeous, only slightly windy, 30˚ day.  Such a payout.  I’m loving these so much.  The jackets, the boots, the snow….!  I’m so glad we finally got it.  And I sincerely hope this gang loves these images as much as I do {is that a canvas print I hear calling???}


This session was #2 of three outdoor snowy sessions I’m hoping to knock out this week.  {The first was Emily and Author}. As soon as I hit publish on this little post, I’ll be headed out the door to set up for another engagement session.  And this time instead of dreading the icy weather I’m actually a little concerned that it’s gotten too warm!  {Is there such a thing in Practically Canada in January?}  Most of the snow has melted away and I’m concerned the bride and groom to-be might get mucky.  But we’ll just have to wait and see.  If nothing else, I’m sure I’ll have a good story to tell…Look for a preview image up on the Facebook page tomorrow.



Emily + Author { Winter Engagement Photos }

winter engagement photos

I remember it clearly.  This adorable, red-headed teenager asked if we could get together and talk.  So we did.  We met at Pita Pit and over sandwiches–excuse me, pitas–I got to know Emily.  We talked about prom and how I couldn’t get a date to save my life in high school and how maybe I should read the signs a little better when three guys turned me down for prom.  But I went anyway, and survived, and eventually all the weirdness that high school can bring gradually faded and I was left with a little more clarity and pockets of crazy stories to tell.


She mentioned Snap Chat and I played it really cool–like I totally knew what that was.  In reality, after the pitas were gone and the iced tea consumed I immediately went to my car and Googled “snap chat” from the parking lot.


As time went on, the drama of high school and prom subsided–as it always does–but we kept meeting.  Mostly for coffee, mostly early in the morning before her classes at the university started.  And while I’m not a morning person, chatting with Emily and researching Scripture with her was a morning worth starting early.  It was one of these days that I first heard about a boy named Author.  “Aurthur?”  “No…Author.  Like an author.”

winter engagement session

I called him Aurthur in our conversations for months–but I’m finally getting the hang of it.  Just in time too…because this boy I heard of once upon an Americano-one-pump-of-vanilla-room-for-cream—is sticking around indefinitely.  These two are engaged and I couldn’t be more excited.  I love that their relationship is rooted in Christ.  I love that Author spoke with our pastor and Emily’s dad before proposing.  I love that they are in love with each other, but even more in love with the Lord.  It’s a beautiful thing.

winter engagement photo ideas

As with most winter photo sessions, these winter engagement photos were scheduled and rescheduled several times before we got it right, but in the end we had a gorgeous day.  And I’m in love with the results.  Congratulations guys!!  And thank you for choosing me to capture your engagement.  What an honor!




2015 Christmas Favorites

It’s here.  I know this has maybe taken too long to post up.  But  I’m not too apologetic.  I think everyone can understand that things run a little slower in December.  Among the hustle and bustle of holiday festivities, business as usual, and taking time to prioritize reflecting on Jesus’ birth….it’s no wonder that I’m just now getting around to putting these precious photos online.


That…and…I don’t like to spoil the surprise of anyone’s Christmas photos.  This way {hopefully} everyone has had a chance to post and share and print cards to their heart’s content.  And now–I just can’t take another second of delay.  This is perhaps my favorite crop of Christmas photos.  I’m so happy that so many lovely Practically Canadian friends trusted me with their photos {especially after a very vague announcement about the set}.  Like the trust fall in Mean Girls…I totally caught you and didn’t let you smack your head on the gym floor.


Oh–and one more thing.  This year the proceeds from Christmas photos was donated to local causes.  Because of the gorgeous, smiling faces in these photographs a lot of beautiful things were possible in Practically Canada.  A donation was made to the Ward County Historical Society {because they were kind enough to let us use the fire truck}; the YWCA received a new crib mattress {they’d given one of theirs away to a single dad in need}; 11 pairs of winter boots, 10 pairs of insulated in soles, a jumbo pack of paper plates and laundry detergent worth about 300 loads was given to the Minot Men’s Winter Refuge; and gifts were bought for a family in need of some extra holiday cheer. 


But I don’t want you giving me even an ounce of credit for even half a second.  I’m sharing this list of goodies with you because it was your dollars and business that made it possible.  Wealth of all kinds, every dollar I have in my wallet and bank account comes from the Lord–the creator of wealth.  I’ve simply spent some time asking Him what to do with the money–and He opened my eyes to some local needs.  God gets the glory for this….I give because He has taught me to give.  My hands are open towards others’ needs because His hands are always incredibly open to my needs.  I hope this testimony glorifies God and encourages you to ask Him how He may be more magnified through your own, unique walk.


Okay.  No more delays.  Now the photos.

christmas photos with vintage car

Okay.  I’ve gotta say just one thing.  I was shocked that more people used the fire truck than this adorable Studebaker.  Isn’t it just the cutest thing?  Who is your favorite?  I know loads of people are having dress envy over Kate’s adorable ModCloth ensemble.  It’s so perfect.  I’m a huge fan of Carson and Olivia, personally.  {Fourth down on the left column.}  They dazzled me with their cuteness last year when they came in PJ’s with milk and cookies.  This year the whole family was there and they looked so sharp!  I love Carson’s tiny vest and tie!!

I was very excited that Mr. Caswell–the legend himself–stopped by for a photo.  He is the owner of this adorable car and was kind enough to let me borrow it {and drive it!!!!} for the weekend.  He’s an avid local collector who showed me stalls filled with cars of all kinds and let me have the pick of the litter.

But I’ll be totally honest.  I can’t pick a favorite.  That’s why these collages are so huge!  Okay.  On to the fire truck.  Everyone loved using this cool truck and I don’t blame them.  It’s rustic and colorful and looks undoubtedly Christmasy with an evergreen stacked on the back.

christmas photos with vintage truck

Let’s take just a second to recognize all the super cute outdoor wear that came to the fire truck sessions.  Hats galore!  I’m especially partial to the little reindeer hat worn by the littlest member of the Forehand clan.  {Insert excited squeaking here.}

Next I’d like to thank all the precious pups that joined their families on photo day.  Everyone behaved so well, and most {except Mr. Taco in the right column} even looked at the camera.

I love these warm and wacky images–from the wreath around Eddie’s neck to the tight squeezes and piles of empty presents.  This crop brings a smile to my face and a pitter patter to my heart.  We have fun, don’t we?


I hope you are having a happy Christmas season–and that these brought a little smile to your face.  I never stop being awed by how unique and beautiful every person and every family is.  Thanks to everyone who chose me and trusted me with your Christmas portrait.  I’m honored and flattered and hope your Christmas card list is floored by your gorgeous photos!




2015 Christmas Photo Samples

Hi all–


I hope you had a very merry Thanksgiving and are gearing up for a very happy Christmas…wait–did I get that backwards?  Things of all kinds seem to be upside down and backwards right now.  The first of the winter holidays passed by in a blissful, pie-filled blur…my house is in that awkward teenage stage between fall decor and winter wonderland…I’m slowing down in the work department as I attempt to start tying up lose ends in Practically Canada before a move this spring…as usual, I’m pining to start a few new projects and I’m longing to write more….add it all up, and I’d say 2015 is coming to a fun-filled, mind rattling close.


Not to complain.  I really truly love this time of year.  {Cold winds and plastic on windows included.}  I like the process of winterizing the yard, stocking up on canned apple butter, kicking myself for not starting to craft up a gift storm sooner and even the satisfaction of a freshly shoveled–or snow blown–driveway.  It’s all pretty great.  Minus the windchill.  {Get it…MINUS the wind chill??  Because it’s usually in the negatives…Okay, so that one was a stretch.}


By far, one of my very favorite parts of this season–not including parties that allow me to wear a fancy dress and my once-a-year-dressy coat–or watching White Christmas and quoting nearly all of the lines–is taking Christmas photos.  I’ve always loved creating a fun photo for Christmas.  Yes, they are nearly always staged.  No, this probably isn’t Derek’s favorite part of the season.  Yes, I think they are adorable.  Yes, the only thing that has made it better is that for the past three years I’ve been able to share the set with others.


So in the days leading up to Thanksgiving I wrapped giant boxes and tracked down a Charlie Brown tree {thanks TC Nursery!!}.  I pulled the sled out of storage and stressed over what wrapping paper patters would look best with which ribbon.  It’s all leading up to this weekend’s Christmas mini session extravaganza!  And Derek–who truly proves himself to be my BFF and a selfless, loving husband over and over–not only tolerated the madness of our home, but loaded it all in the car on Sunday when we went to take some sample shots.  {Because I wasn’t sure I’d made enough props…in case you’re wondering…there’s plenty.}


Here’s what we got.

Christmas Card photos with vintage fire truck

We only posed with the fire truck because the other car is privately owned, and I’m already asking quite a bit to be borrowing it for two days next weekend.  And really, if I had another car in the mix we would have been there all day!  I am so pleased with the final result.  I think these are so much fun and can’t wait to see what adorable things will happen this weekend.

Christmas Card photos with vintage fire truck

Wondering what to wear for your Christmas photo this year?  Remember to take a look at this list of tips–or this one from last year.



The Trondson Family { industrial family photos }

I know it’s really cliche to talk about the weather.  But up here in Practically Canada we are experiencing a weather phenomenon.  Temps are still hitting 40˚s during the day.  There’s no snow on the ground.  Heck, I’ve only worn a coat once or twice this fall.  Today a scarf and a flannel button down were all the outerwear I sported.  So…I’m talking about the weather.  Never in the years have I lived here have I been able to shoot outdoors {fairly} comfortably so late in the season.


Just a few weeks ago I was blessed to spend on of the more chilly mornings {note a couple red noses} photographing the beautiful Trondson family.  Even thought I’ve known them for a few years, this is our first session together.  I so enjoyed this opportunity to get to know them better–especially the chance to talk to these precious kiddos!


These turned out to be kind-of-sort-of industrial family photos. I love using these brick and metal walls as a back drop.  And as a side note–since lots of you are asking what to wear in your Christmas photos–I love what this family wore to their session!!  Greys, white, black and blue jeans.  They look classic and classy–but not matchy matchy.  They’ve struck a great balance, and they look fabulous.  This family is absolutely beautiful!
industrial family photos

Oh, and can I just add that I absolutely love snapping a few photos of just mom and dad together?!  These moments are so special.  I love photographing couples whose love and marriage have matured.  These two are just so adorable!


Eventually, the littlest of the bunch got a little fussy and fingers began to grow icy.  So instead of insisting that we make kidcicles, we moved our party inside where we finished the session.  And, as you can see by these smiles–it was a good choice.  {Oh, and how sweet is this shoulder shot?!  She’s a momma’s girl, which is just about the cutest thing in the world.}

industrial family photos

Thanks Trondson family!  I had a wonderful time with you and can’t wait for you to see the rest of your images!



Christmas Card Outfit Ideas {9 tips}

I’ve had lots of you asking for Christmas Card outfit tips!  Be sure to check out the list I posted last year.  But if that’s not enough…I’ve come up with 9 more tips for looking positively awesome on this year’s card.  Most of the gorgeous photos in the list below aren’t mine.  Click the image for the source.  I had a blast looking through so many stunning images from fabulously talented photographers all over the web.

1.  Layers

Christmas is in the winter.  So unless you live in a warm place, or are trying to do a warm-wishes theme for your Christmas photo–I advise dressing appropriately for the season.  Layers are a great way to give your photos the feel of winter without stating the obvious with outerwear and accessories {more on those things in a bit.}

Layers also give you the opportunity to incorporate color and texture into your photographs in a low key, intimidating way.  A neutral cardigan easily tones down a bright color.  A collared shirt under a sweater instantly brings class to an otherwise rowdy boy.  Layers can also give you something to do with your hands…hold the scarf, put a hand in a pocket, rest your fingers along your lapel.

2.  There’s a wide variety of neutrals

My basic rule for photos is this:  be neutral.  You’ll never go wrong if you keep your whole family in a neutral zone.  But sometimes we can get stuck thinking that neutral only means black, white, brown and gray.  While those are neutrals, there is practically a rainbow of other neutrals that you can use.  An easy formula is to anchor your clothing in those mainstay neutrals, then add in one of these other color-neutrals.  And even if you opt for all gray, brown, oatmeal, and tan…you still don’t have to look boring!  Neutrals are awesome and timeless.

Blue is a very neutral base.  This is why just about everything looks good with jeans.  Blue rarely clashes, looks good with every skin tone and is always a safe choice for photos.  Just stick to soft, light, and denim shades and steer clear of anything vibrant that will steal the show.


Other neutrals you can use include yellow, green, and every shade of brown known to man kind.  Like with the blues, keep your color choices on the muted, dull side and away from bright, neon and vibrant.  You can mix all the neutrals I’ve mentioned here {and I’m sure there are more that I forgot} or just use one of the more colorful neutrals in your photos.  Totally up to you.

3.  Thread a color or pattern

If you want to go a little bolder add some brighter color.  This is a way your family can look unified without looking uniformed.  And no one wants to look uniformed in their Christmas portraits.  Red is a classic Christmas color to weave through your images…but you can do it with any color under the sun, or with a similar patter–for instance adding bits of plaid or stripes throughout your clothing….just don’t over do it because you start to clash.

Keep in mind that the color doens’t all have to be in the same place on each person.  This idea board does a good job of showing how mustard can run through everyone’s clothing without being uniformed.

4.  Outerwear

I loooove this image.  Love it!  I could only find it on Pinterest…and the original source is a little foggy.  It may have been original to Matt Clayton Photography–but the site says it no longer exists there.  At any rate, this is an awesome photo taken by a talented photog.

These folks are nailing the outerwear thing.  The key is creating photo-pretty outerwear.  Don’t dress exactly how you would for a day of sledding or a long time outdoors.  You won’t need your ski mask and snow pants.  Instead, use elements of outerwear to accessorize your outfit.  It’s not too hard.  I promise.  For instance, instead of pulling your scarf over your nose and zipping your coat up to your chin (which hides both your gorgeous face and your cute outfit underneath)–leave your scarf loose and your jacket unzipped.  Instead of putting a hat on and pulling your hood up for a lot of warmth, only do one or the other.

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 11.58.18 AM

The other tip I have for outerwear is to remember that Christmas photos aren’t necessarily realistic.  You’ll only be outside for a short time–so adding just a splash of outerwear (like boots, hats, gloves or vests) over your outfit gives the impression of Christmasy-wintery vibes without taking the parka thing too far.

5.  Accessories

Accessories are a fun way to winter up your Christmas photos.  I’m a big fan of adding hats, scarves, mittens and ear muffs to your outfit.  It’s pretty much the only time of year that this kind of accessorizing is appropriate.  And if you are wanting a nice, cozy look–you’ll never go wrong with boots!  {Just keep in mind that not all boots are created equal.  Classic snow boots, riding boots and work boots look great in photos…but the marshmallowy kind with cartoon characters on the side look a little tacky.}

Christmas mini sessions Minot, ND

6.  Dogs

Lots of my clients bring their pups to the family Christmas session.  If you bring your dog…and if your dog {or cat} will tolerate it, I highly suggest adding some Christmas cheer to their attire as well.  {See the dog in #4}.

Christmas mini sessions Minot, NDChalkboard Christmas Sessions

Chalkboard Christmas Session

7.  Babies

Since our sessions will be outdoors this year–I suggest bundling your baby up well.  I will never insist that you compromise safety for a good photo.  And besides…this is the one season and the one age in your child’s life that they can pull off wearing a fuzzy snow suit in the family portraits.  If weather isn’t a concern, I suggest snug fitting clothes that won’t bunch up or cover your little one’s face when held or if they slouch down.

Christmas mini sessions Minot, ND

{Charleen C Photography}


8.  Fabric choices

Choosing warm, textured fabrics will give your photos a cozy look.  You’ll never go wrong choosing flannel for your Christmas photos.  Chunky knits, nubby sweaters, and other fabrics with texture will add interest and dimension to your images.

new born christmas session

9.  Going classy

This year is a great time to take your photos to a classy place.  Since we will be using vintage cars–we’ll have a nice, classy background too!  Some times it’s fun to dress up and Christmas is a great time to do it.  If you decide to go classy with your photos basically anything you wear will look great.  Just make sure your whole family is committed to the same level of dressy {we don’t want one in a ball gown and the other in a sun dress}.  Add some jewelry or a nice coat for a special touch.

Christmas mini sessions Minot, ND

Christmas mini sessions Minot, ND

2015 Christmas Mini Sessions {think retro}

christmas card ad

Okay.  So you know that part in the movie Mean Girls where they are all in the gym and they confess their secrets and do a trust fall?  It’s very girl powery and the crowd of high school junior girls catches each other girl as she does a trust fall off of the stage.  {Well except for that one that just confesses that she’s popular.}  That’s kind of what this year’s Christmas card sessions are going to be like.


Follow me here.


It’s a bit of a trust fall.  I don’t have a sample photo ready to show you–like in years past.  There’s no cute, quirky photo of me in funky winter clothes or Derek and me wrapped in lights.  You just have to trust me.  But I give you a pinky promise that I won’t let you fall onto a hard gym floor.  I’ll catch you and your images will be awesome.  Here’s what I’ve got in mind.


A vintage car.  Decked out in holiday gear.  Packed with oversized, colorfully wrapped gift boxes.  The retro sled.  A Christmas tree.  Here’s the inspiration I’m working with.  {You can go to the original source by clicking the images.}


Now.  You might be wondering if I can really pull this off.  The answer, of course…is yes.  While working on the Monster Mash {another giant pull off} I got a contact number for a local vintage car collector.  Yesterday, he toured me around his stash which included about 30 restored vehicles.  Everything from 20’s trucks to 50’s Studebakers to 70’s Pacers.  I was shocked–and giddy.


I finally narrowed down the selection and here’s what we’ll be working with.  First of all–a vintage fire truck, housed by the Ward County Historical Museum.  I’ll fill the back with boxes and bedazzle it with holiday cheer.  Like I said–you need to trust me here.  These phone photos don’t do it justice.


Second….we’ll have one of these snazzy cars.  I’m really torn and just can’t decide between the precious Studebaker Cruiser {minty green in the top left spot}–or the 1949 Hudson {in the bottom two images.}  If you’ve got an opinion shout it out!

vintage car

Here’s a better idea of what these cute cars look like when they aren’t in a garage or taken on a shaky phone.

Yes.  You read all that correctly.  You’ll have a choice of 2–count ’em TWO vintage car sets.  The red fire truck–and either the black or mint car.  Now that you know what I’m thinking…let’s get to the nitty gritty.


I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to do a test shoot over Thanksgiving weekend.  It’ll be a dry run so everything is perfect for you the following weekend.  Stay tuned to see those images.


Mini sessions are just $50.  You get a 15-20 minute sessions and 5 images.  Your images will be delivered digitally and you’ll have the printing rights to them.  Times open run from 11am-4pm on December 5th and 12-4 on December 6th.  I’m limiting availability to 20 sessions.  Your family can choose one of the two sets–or you can book two sessions to use both.  Sessions will be outdoors {it’s an El Nino year!}–so keep your fingers crossed for good weather.  If the weather is just plain poopy–we’ll reschedule.  Sessions will happen at the Ward County Historical Museum–on the grounds of the ND State Fair.  Your photos will be back to you by December 9th.


Make sense?  Have questions?  Wanna book?  Get in touch.  Send me a Facebook message.  Or call me {574-361-7268}.  And just for good measure–let’s remember how adorable the last two years’ images have been.

Christmas Chalkboard SessionsChristmas mini sessions Minot, ND



The Oase Family { fall family photos }

family of three photos

The is the Oase family.  When we booked their session months ago–I never in my wildest dreams thought we’d have an evening so beautiful, so late in October.  I figured it was a gamble at best.  I figured we’d be fighting a biting wind and flurries.  But, happily–I was wrong.

Despite the date, the weather behaved beautifully.  In my few years in Practically Canada, I’ve never seen a nicer fall.  It’s really been ideal.  Perfect for a good crop of fall family photos.  So while our evening together was a little chilly…our biggest challenge came from getting this adorable little one to crack a smile!  And that’s a challenge I’ll happily accept.  {But let’s face it…with cheeks like those even a perfectly neutral face is simply sublime.  Isn’t she precious?!}

Lucky for me they came equipped.  Between wagon rides and tosses in the air and kisses from her puppy–eventually we caught some really adorable images.  See?

radio flyer baby portraits

fall family photos

I’m so glad I was able to get to know this sweet crowd.  Thank you for choosing me to capture the art of these precious moments!



Minot Monster Mash : A Grownup Halloween Party

grown up halloween party

Holy cow.  There are a lot of unbelievable things going on right now.  First, I can scarcely believe it’s November.  Really?!  Second, I cannot believe that the temps in Practically Canada are still on the balmy side.  This is the longest, nicest fall I’ve experienced here.  It’s glorious.  I also can’t believe Halloween is over.  It seems like I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing Halloween for months now.  Yikes.


I’ve been so consumed with the creepy I’ve hardly done anything else.  {Okay, you know me…I’ve been doing plenty of other things.} But this year Halloween really took up a good chunk of my time.  And if I was one of those bloggers who is actually really good at blogging…I would have kept you up to date on the whole thing.  But, let’s face it.  I’m just not that good.  So here’s a recap.


I’m on the executive committee on the Minot Area Council of the Arts.  A while back {like in March} we brainstormed some ideas for fundraisers.  We collectively decided a Halloween party would be a good idea.  And it was.  After I found out we’d be staying here through Halloween, I volunteered to coordinate said event–and thus began a very fun, informative, stressful, time consuming, rewarding, endeavor.  And so the Minot Monster Mash was born.


When I dug in to planning the Monster Mash, I started thinking about what kind of party I’d pay money to go to.  If I would be promoting the event, I wanted it to be something I could honestly convince people to come to with my integrity intact.  It needed more than just music, food and costumes.  But since there were few people available to help, the scope had to be narrow and concrete enough to carry out.  In the end, the driving force behind the Monster Mash is my deep loathing for the phrase, “There’s nothing to do in Minot.”  I didn’t just want the Mash to be a night of “something to do” I wanted to teach a man to fish for things to do all winter long.


With that mission in mind I started seeking sponsors who offer things to do and entertainment more people should know about.  I sought prizes that offered guests things to do.  In the end, we gave away $800 in prizes that included everything from hockey tickets and skate rentals to wine and theater tickets.  Our swag bags had information on wine tasting classes, cooking classes, fitness, theater, symphony, art and free ballroom classes.  Oh–and don’t for a single second get the idea that I did this all alone.  I had fantastic help–amazing graphic designers lent their talent, folks called sponsors, picked up gifts, met to get the details in order, promoted on Facebook, volunteered at the event, moved furniture, offered ideas, and just plain helped wherever they were needed.  I owe lots of thank you’s to lots of people.


And now…without any more delays.  Let’s relive the Mash.

grown up Halloween party

The Monster Mash was held in the Minot Carnegie Center–originally a Carnegie Library built in 1911.  The inside is gorgeous, weird, spooky and eccentric.  The closets are filled with the old and odd.  It was the perfect place for a grownup Halloween party.  Spooky, yet refined.


Oliver Nicole Events took care of the decor.  Tawyna, the owner was so incredibly easy to work with.  She spoke my language of DIY and low-cost.  I can’t put in to words how perfect the decor was.  She absolutely nailed the atmosphere I was hoping to achieve.  Ghostly, but not horrifying.  Scary, but classy.  “You know that party the parents go to in Hocus Pocus?…I basically want it to look like that,” I told her at our first meeting.

grown up Halloween party

grown up Halloween party

I know Tawnya did most of the work…but I helped where I could.  I was so super proud when I secured a massive donation of only slightly damaged pumpkins!  I loaded somewhere around 70 pumpkins in my car–which Tawnya put to good use.  When she called to tell me the dead roses she’d been eyeing were $3 a stem…my genius mother asked if we could just use dead plants from my own flower beds.  Duh.  The centerpieces were then filled with dead or dying sedums  and peony leaves.  It takes a special level of talent to turn yard waste into a classy display and she totally nailed it.

halloween art gallery

Downstairs in the old Children’s library we set up a small gallery with local art.  I loved the creepy entries we got.  Oh, and that spooky photo of the girl with a sickle??  I found it in a closet.  {Told you this place is a little weird.}

minot symphony orchestra at the monster mash

Going back to my original goal of showing off Minot’s art scene and things to do in Minot–we kicked off the evening with a performance by musicians from the Minot Symphony Orchestra.  They absolutely blew me away.  And I LOVED that they showed up in costume.


When 8pm rolled around guests started arriving.  Lots of guests.  The best part was that everyone {EVERYONE!} came in totally awesome costumes.  Nothing helps a party like folks who are fully committed to the theme.  I am still shocked that everyone who walked through the door arrived looking positively amazing decked out as someone they weren’t.  The entertainers, the guests, the volunteers.  Everyone looked great.  That really had my heart doing somersaults.

grown up halloween party

When the party was in full swing, while Derek and I were dancing, I told him, “This is what you think Halloween will be like when you grow up…but it never is.”  Seriously.  Halloween and New Years are always so romanticized in the movies and on TV.  As a kid you expect that you’ll grow up and have these super dazzling things to do–but that hardly ever comes to fruition.  Finally in the year 2015–in my 28th year…Halloween was how I pictured it as a kid.  All these people in a spooky old building, crowded with costumes, an awesome cover band and lots of dancing…to me, this is magic.

grown up halloween party

Okay.  Let’s talk costumes.  Everyone blew me away.  I love the Frankensteins.  And I totally admire Mr. F for staying in his mask throughout the whole party.  I was also a big fan of the Man in the Yellow Hat {who took 2nd place in the costume contest.} Oh, and how can you over look Beetlejuice and Lydia!  She nailed it.  But wait!  There’s more!!  What about Disgust from “Inside Out”–amazing!!–or Mary Poppins–Or the coolest skeleton I’ve ever seen–or the Cheshire Cat {who nabbed 1st place.}  Hippies, royalty, an awesome rendering of Bonnie and Clyde–Roger Rabbit, Sandy and Danny, Three Blind Mice!  How do you decide??


We also saw a fully committed squirrel, someone dressed as a SnapChat, a full blown flying monkey {a little terrifying actually}, Ariel, Cruella, Red Riding Hood and a Wolf dressed as grandma…the list goes on and on.  The costumes were wonderful.

grown up halloween party

The Mouse River Players came and did a Sanderson Sisters bit {I put a spell on you…}, the MSU Community Dance Club busted out a mash up that showed off thriller and ballroom styles all together, we were taught to Thriller, The Magic Tap Cloggers dazzled with their high energy Elvis mash up.  We ate junk food and sang and danced and gave away prizes.


Some people left early.  And others stayed to the very last song.  Like I said…there are things I’d do differently and things that I think can be improved…I hope everyone had fun.  But at the end of it all–this is the most fun I’ve had on Halloween in many full moons, this is how I think Halloween should be.  I’m so glad so many people came out and shared this fun night and helped out the arts in the process.

the rescuers costume

It was a lot of work.  But for some reason, I just love this town.  I love it.  And I hope that maybe, just maybe I can help other people love it too.




Well, hello there!

Hi. I'm Amy. Thanks for coming by. I'm in to trying new things and learning to live better. I hope you'll hang around...together we can come closer to mastering the Art of Living.

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