Jack and Emma Wolak

Jack and Emma are entering their senior year at Jenison High School this month. GO WILDCATS! There’s really no knowing what this year will look like for them but here is hoping that this senior year is the best one. I’ve known Emma for a couple years now as her and I met through Flood (High School Ministry). I’ve been one of her leaders/mentors and it has been an absolute privilege to walk along side her these last couple years. Both Jack and Emma plan to attend Grand Valley next fall. Jack is gifted in technical thinking and hopes to go into engineering (I mean you should see how quickly he was able to put away my pop-up tent that gets the best of me every time). Emma is thinking of doing something in science whether it’s psychology or with animals. Whatever they do, they are both great people and I can’t wait to see where life takes them. Today I’m sharing with you some of the portraits we took in downtown Grand Rapids. I hope you’re able to capture the beautiful personalities they both have.

Blog Map 1

It was fun talking with Emma about high school. If you can, check out those Doc Martins. It reminded me of my time back in high school when that’s all I wore for shoes. Hello Millennium.

Blog Map 2

Let’s share some encouragement to them both. Leave a comment below. If we reach 25 I’ll be gifting them and their mom, Julie 2- 8×10 prints of her favorite photos.

Are you interested in a senior session? Feel free to fill out my contact form. I’ll instantly send you information on me, my photography style and pricing.


What do you think of when you hear Mini Session? Are you thinking– “affordable, quick, small?” Here in West, Michigan there are all sorts of photographers that pop up letting you know they are offering Mini Sessions. A lot of time this will happen in the busiest season, fall. It’s a great way for photographers to push their clients through quickly. However, it’s a lot of work on our end (The photographer). Yeah we get a fast buck but then we’re spending several hours behind our screens trying to work with what we got in a small amount of time behind the lens.


Everyone is different and if Mini Sessions are for you, great! If not that’s fine too. Let me tell you why I don’t do Mini Sessions with my family. Days or even weeks before a session I spend time picking out the perfect coordinating outfits. Stressing over whether or not I’ll look good in a certain color or if my kids complain about wearing a specific shirt because it might be itchy. Just when I think I have everything picked out, our family shows up to where we need to be, and then the photographer has maybe 20 minutes to capture who we are and in the best light. Now I believe that some photographers are great at this but if we have one kid that’s in a bad mood, then our entire session is ruined. I’ve felt defeated, stressed, and all around sad. I spend time apologizing to the photographer and then I beat myself up over how I could have prepared my family better. Has this happened to you? Maybe it wasn’t someone’s mood, maybe it was the weather. It was too cold, or it started to rain. Whatever it is, you’re feeling rushed. Does any of this sound familiar?


(The million dollar shot right here)

I have been guilty of doing Mini Sessions for Kara Hanes Photography but I’ve decided that this is no longer something I value as a photographer. I want to spend time getting to know you, talking with you, finding out what makes you smile because your husband just looked at you a certain way. Maybe it’s Your kid deciding to show their happy emotions a little more because after 20 minutes, they finally think “huh, this lady is actually ok, maybe I’ll smile, grin, or show my personality a bit”. Or maybe it’s been a while and we need to catch up. Whatever it may be, I’m all about getting to know one another and less about being “that lady that pointed a camera in my face”. What do you think? Should we become friends? If your answer is yes then I can’t wait to meet you!

(Making memories with the Koetje Family. There wasn’t any rain on the radar and then all of a sudden it started to pour- waited it out for 20 minutes)


Baked Oatmeal

All the recipes we’ll be sharing are from our digital cook book Market To Table.

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Baked Oatmeal


3 cups rolled oats

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup melted butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup dried cranberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Beat in milk, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Stir in dried cranberries. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish.

3. Bake for 20 minutes, mix with a spoon and place back in the over for an additional 20 minutes. Stir again and serve.

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​Brought to you by the Market To Table Digital Online Cook Book. Check it out here


Pico De Gallo Recipe

Today we’re sharing a summer favorite. This recipe is brought to you by my father-in-law John. His tip is to chop everything into tiny little pieces and to let the ingredients sit a couple hours or over night for best flavor.

Download our digital cook book Market To Table for more recipes like this one.

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Pico De Gallo


8 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 Vidalia onion, minced

2 green onions, chopped

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced

Juice from 1 lime

1 clove of garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Tortilla chips


​1. Prepare and mix all ingredients except tortilla chips.

2. Let marinate for a few hours.

3. Serve with tortilla chips.

This recipe is brought to you by John Hanes



Carnival Paradise Cruise


This past week we took a 5 day cruise out of Tampa, FL with our family of four. My husband Ben, myself and our two kids Caleb (11) and Naomi (9) and our stops were at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. If you’re here, most likely you have never been on a cruise before, you’ve never done a cruise through Carnival, maybe you’ve never been on their ship “Paradise”, or you just want to compare notes. I’m here to share with you our experience on the Paradise ship. I should start by saying that I did very little research and let our travel agent do all the work leading up to our trip. She was great at getting us info but there are always things that you just don’t know until you experience it. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know if you have more to add or possibly questions. Let’s get started.


  1. BEFORE THE TRIP: Within the week or your trip or before you will receive an email asking you to “Check In” to your cruise. This will give you all sorts of information such as a check in time to load the ship, information on parking, packing list, etc. I strongly suggest downloading the Carnival HUB app before the trip. There isn’t much you can do with it before your cruise but we used it a lot during. Keep in mind, when on the ship you’ll need to keep the hub open at all times on your devices for the app to work. I’ll explain more on this below.
    1. PARKING: We drove down to Tampa from Michigan so we had our vehicle. We were able to get parking near the port for the 5 days for $75. If you stay at a hotel near the port, sometimes they’ll let you park your vehicle there for a small fee and shuttle over. Of course if you’re flying you could do a shuttle or Uber as well.
    2. LUGGAGE: We brought our luggage with us and as we entered, there were gentlemen ready to grab our bags for us to get it to the port (These individuals expect a tip so be ready to have anywhere from $3-5 to give them. You’re able to bring your stuff yourself but they are pretty aggressive and will just take you bags. To be honest I didn’t care because I had a rather big bag so I was happy to have this service. We also had carry on bags. When you check in to your cruise online the week before they will have luggage tags for you to print.  We opted for plastic bag tags to put these in so there wasn’t a risk of then getting torn off. It also came with two lanyard to use for our “Sail and Sign Cards” which are used the whole time you’re on the ship.
    3. CARRY ONS: Something we wish we knew;
      • Each kid/adult was allowed to bring a 12 pack of pop on board but they have to carry it on.
      • Another tip, if you bring a bottle of wine (Paradise allows you one bottle per 21+ adult) You need this in your carry on luggage not in your checked bag.
    4. LUNCH: Our loading time on the ship was 12:30pm-1:30pm so we were able to get some lunch on the Lido deck when we first arrived (Floor 10) at 1:30 we were able to get into our rooms and receive our sail and sign cards.
    5. STEWARDS: When you arrive to your room your steward will touch base with you on how often you want them to check your room. This includes emptying your trash, makings your beds, freshening your towels and making those adorable towel animals on your bed. We signed up for one time and picked a later time in the morning so we could sleep in. If you want they can come in the morning and night but we didn’t think that was necessary. Their pay also comes out of gratuity. I’ll explain more of that later but if you give them extra tips you might end up with some extra surprises in your room after they clean.IMG_2923
      • WHAT IS IT?: These will have all the information about you on them. When you check into Carnival with your documents, they will take your photograph and this will show up to Carnival employees every time your card is swiped (Which is nice because then no one else can use your cards). Something we purchased that you’ll see most people wearing are these lanyards to connect your card to. This just assures you don’t loose it and it’s just nice to have.
      • ACCOUNTS: We were able to pre-check our kids into their Kid and Teen rooms so they could come and go as they please. Best decision we made. It’s also nice because parents will have their HUB app which will tell them if their kids checked in or out and where they are headed.
      • MUSTER STATION: Your cards will have your safety muster station on it. Before the ship takes off they will have you attend a safety briefing. They scan all sail and sign cards to make sure you are there. All kids 12 and under will then receive a bracelet to keep on the entire time with this station as well. This is to ensure their safety and to bring them to you in the event of an emergency.

DINNER: Your card will also tell you which fine dinning room you are assigned to. You do not have to attend but one of the nights you are on board will be a formal night. This is the dinning room you will attend. Whether you go or not your gratuities are charged for attending. I’ll explain more of this later.Untitled-1

      • PORT EXCURSIONS: Something I wish I knew ahead of time is that your card is what gets you on and off the ship. Kids are not allow to scan cards without a parent’s card swiped first, You do not need to carry passports and birth certificates because all that information is identified with your card and photo ID that comes up when it is scanned.

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  1. THE CARNIVAL HUB APP: This app was a life saver of staying in touch and knowing what was going on. We simply set our phones on airplane mode and connected to the ship’s server. Here is a breakdown of it’s features.
    1. CHAT FEATURE: This was a no brainer for us. We weren’t purchasing WIFI on the ship because the idea is to get away from it all right? For $5 per device for the whole week we were able to turn this on once we boarded the ship. This allowed us to communicate with our entire party.
    2. WHAT’S HAPPENING: The entire schedule of events is in this tab and allow you to “favorite” the activities you want to go to. not only were you able to see your favorites but it also would show the people in your group and what they “favored” So you knew if more than one of you wanted to go.Screen Shot 2020-01-12 at 11.09.08 PM
    3. KIDS & TEENS: This is a separate tab of events going on in which ever group kids were in. It would tell you what area they were in as well as if they are doing games etc. There were a couple actives that would show up with a $ next to it which meant that it cost money but we didn’t partake in those.Untitled-1 copy.jpg
    4. SHIP MAPS: This was very helpful, It was nice to see where things were happening and know which floor they were on.
    5. ACCOUNT SUMMARY: This was a very nice feature. While on the ship there are additional expenses that may come up such as gratuities, casino, beverages (if you don’t buy the bubbles or cheers packages), if you visit the stores etc. One thing we were not aware of is that you don’t have to pay gratuities for things you don’t attend. For instance, we didn’t attend our fine dinning every night and our kids only attended once, we were able to visit guest services on the ship and be refunded those charges. These all showed up in the summary. We also decided to tip most things in cash instead of on the card so we were able to tell them to take those charges off and we would like to pay with cash. There were no questions asked and they were removed.
  2. PACKING: I would love to share with you the items I did pack as well as items I added on if we go again. Completely optional but I will definitely use this list.
      • Luggage tags and sleeves for suitcases
      • Passports and birth certificates (We only needed these at check in and then used our sail and sign cards for excursions).
      • Cash (for tips and gratuities) excursions etc.
      • Sunglasses
      • Hat
      • Snorkel Kit (For cheap beach options on excursions)
      • Chair and towel clips
      • Hangers if you want to hang more than your room provides
      • Night light plug (Rooms can be very dark so it was nice having one)
      • Power strip (We had many devices to plug in at night but we also found that our room had quite a few USB plugs.
      • Water Bottle: You get plastic water bottles if you get the cheers or bubbles package but we didn’t get either so having a water bottle to fill with tap water at the buffet was nice.
      • Reusable Straw: If you do get beverages they now use turtle friends straws in everything so having your own that you can wash in your room is a bonus.
      • Coffee Mug: If you like to keep your coffee hot and walk around with it then this is a nice option. The downside is that you can leave your dishes anywhere one the ship and it will be taken care of so it’s up to you.
      • Sunscreen
      • Bathroom spray (They don’t have fans in the bathrooms)
      • Bandaids or over the counter meds such as dramamine (Non Drowsy) Ibuprofen, Tylenol etc. We had a very rocky first day so prescription bonine would have been nice. Friends of ours use the behind the ear patches but they were all experiencing blurred vision and very dried mouth from it.
      • Pump hand soap
      • Beach Towels
      • Hair Dryer
      • Shampoo and soap in your showers
      • Kleenex
      • Some items for room service morning and night. Salads, Cookies and some cakes, Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, toast, bagels etc.
      • Two glasses in your room (Bottles of water but they are $3 each if you use them)
      • buffets (My favorite was Guy Feri’s Hamburgers), unlimited Ice cream and frozen yogurt, Coffee, Hot Cocoa, Tea, lemonade and juice/milk in the morning.
  4. EXTRAS:
      • PIXELS: They constantly want to take your photo. If you’re with a character or prop they will not let you use your own camera or phone (You can see below I snuck a photo) but there are many places you can take your own pictures. Packages start at $21.99 for photos.IMG_2988
      • CHEERS/BUBBLES BEVERAGES: These are in addition. If you drink a lot of either of these then the pre purchase plan is the way to go but we don’t drink a lot of pop and we didn’t want our kids to so if we wanted any we just purchased as we went and it was added to our final bill.
      • ENTERTAINMENT: Most entertainment is free on the ship but the following cost extra. Bingo (Anywhere between $20-$40 a game), Casino, Excursions etc.
      • LATE NIGHT CARE: During the day most kid activities are open and are included with your ship costs but if you have small little children or want your kids to hang out late in these areas (Like past 10pm) they offer these for an additional fee. We did not do this so I don’t know the cost.

I Hope this helps you plan for a cruise or just give you an idea or what it’s like. I am not a pro by any means but like I said, I wanted to share the things I wish I knew. Please comment below if you think I missed anything or if you have questions.




Caramel Corn Recipe

My daughter and I were talking today about how we could spend our evening doing fall things. Some of the things we came up with were carving pumpkins, caramel corn and baking pumpkin seeds. Luckily I had my trusted caramel corn recipe and all the ingredients on hand. This is probably the easiest recipe I’ve ever done.

What you’ll need is;

  • 1 cup of popcorn kernels
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 stick of butter
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup of Karo corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • Brown paper grocery bag
  • Non stick spray (optional)
  • Baking sheet (optional)
  • Stock Pot with lid
  • Small pan


  1. Place popcorn and 1/4 stick of butter in a stock pot. Place on high periodically shaking the pot to mix butter and kernels. Once it starts to pop continue shaking the pot. When the popping begins to slow down take it off the heat. (You can also use microwave popcorn if you choose)
  2. Place popcorn in a greased (with non stick spray) grocery paper bag.
  3. In a smaller pan, bring 1 stick of butter, brown sugar, and Karo syrup to a boil while stirring. Don’t over boil. Once it boils for about 1 minute take off the heat and stir in baking soda.
  4. Pour caramel over the popcorn in the bag, fold the top of the bag and shake.
  5. Place bag in microwave for 90 sec and then shake.
  6. Place in microwave an additional 90 sec and shake.
  7. Place in microwave for 30 seconds and shake.
  8. Place in microwave for an additional 30 seconds, shake and pour onto a baking sheet until it cools down.



Speaking of Fall, we want to invite you to our booth at the Jenison Christian Fall Arts and Crafts Fest where we’ll have discounted fall items as well as new items we’re selling for Christmas. You won’t want to miss out.


Fall Garland

In our house we have a mantle. If you’re lucky enough to have one then this is just for you. With adding a location of our booth I thought I’d share some of the stuff I’ve been working on. Yesterday I was cleaning up and took a peek in my fabric bin. Here I found some of the following materials. You could do this with whatever fabric you have but I’m going to share with you what I used.

First you’ll need some string and fabric. I used Jute (5ft), burlap (50 strips of 8″x1″) and buffalo check (50 strips of 8″x1.5″). Depending on how big you want it will determine the length of cut. If you use burlap make sure you keep in mind that it can be very messy.

To assemble you just tie a knot over the string in a pattern.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and it’s the perfect fit for our mantle. -Kara

Did you like the tutorial? Tell us how you would use this in your space. Comment below 👇🏻

In addition to your home we invite you to check out our new super soft Happy Fall Y’all T-shirt. You can find these next week at Rustic Corner in Jenison or in the online shop.

Other mantle items:

Water pitcher and cotton from Walmart $16

Letter H and truck from Hobby Lobby $20

Country egg sign and trick or treat bag from Hanes Home Market

Trick or treat yo’ self sign from uniquely Chic by Karen

20% OFF Hanes Home Market

We have many new fall items in the shop that we are very excited about. Also this week only we are offering 20% off your purchase of $50 or more in the online shop. Simply use code SUMMER20 at check out. Lasts until September 2, 2019. We hope you love these as much as we do!




Coming up later this fall…



Join us this Fall for the Farmgirl Flea 2-day event and shop 200+ vendors who will bring you amazing vintage and handmade goods from across the USA. The vendors are carefully juried to bring you the best shopping experience over the course of 2 days.

Come see why the Farmgirl Flea has been featured as one of the top 100 markets to attend by Flea Market Style Magazine! The events have also been featured in local newspaper articles as well as Flea Market Decor Magazine and Vintage Holiday Magazine. How exciting!

TWO-DAY EVENT- Friday September 27 and Saturday September

Friday September 27 event hours 4pm-8pm
– VIP event $15 entry fee for 12 and over. Includes the Friday night early buyer pre-sale & also includes Saturday re-entry into the market. ALL vendors will be set up for VIP event and Saturday as well. Shop two days in a row😊

Saturday September 28 event hours 8am-4pm
– $5.00 entry fee for Saturday; kids 12 and under are FREE. All vendors will be set-up, restocked, & ready for day #2 of shopping for you!

Location: Hudsonville Fairgrounds
Address: 5235 Park Avenue, Hudsonville, MI, US
Full Details at www.FarmgirlFlea.com


Let’s admit it, as the football season goes on it gets pretty chilly which can make going to the games less enjoyable. Snuggle up with one of our made to order Stadium Blankets for $25. Blanket comes in size 50″ W x 60″ L. The following fabric colors are currently available but could change; Black, Cardinal Red, Carolina Blue, Forest Green, Navy, Red, Royal Blue. Standard name color will be white unless another color is requested for an additional $5. Fabric is 50% cotton / 50% polyester. Turn around time is usually 1 week or less. Email Kara.hanes@imperiumelectric.com to get yours today!


Happy Fall Y’all: Our Favorites

Crunchy leaves, pumpkin everything, hot apple cider, donuts and football games. Could there be anything more perfect than fall? We’re sharing some of our favorite things this fall;

  • Amazing pumpkin donuts from our local place in Hudsonville, Michigan called, Post Family Farm. They are the best if you get them while they are still warm.
  • Apple Pie. This is probably my favorite dessert of all time with a side of ice cream. We have a friend that makes the most delicious pies at The Warm Oven Bakehouse.
  • Sweatshirts, t-shirts and campfires. I love a comfy pair of jeans and a nice warm sweatshirt.



  • Boots. Every year I’m on the hunt for a cute pair of fall boots, here is my favorite pair from this year.
  • Farmer’s Markets. Have you ever been to one? For those of you who are local, here are a couple that are in the area that are must sees.

Jenison Artisan Market

Terra Square

Grandville Farmer’s Market

MiniSession (14)

See more of our fall products in our shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/haneshomemarket