family photos with Suzuran Photography


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I am so happy to share some of the highlights from our recent family photo shoot with my friend, Suzanne of Suzuran Photography.

A couple of weeks back Suzanne came over and spent a little portion of the afternoon capturing my husband Wes and I hanging at home with our 3 month old daughter Penelope and (nearly) 3 year old Goldendoodle, Bucci.

As a professional stylist on and off for my entire career and someone who has no shyness in front of the camera, I must confess I was surprised by the delicacy of photographing an infant (especially my own!). I was so concerned with keeping her smiling (or at least not crying) and trying (with futility) to remove her pacifier that I couldn’t focus on where we should shoot, keeping my posture in check etc… But that’s where it pays off to work with the incomparable Suzanne.  She is always cool as a cucumber even when, or rather, especially when, her subjects are not.   She is so in tune with her craft and with her subjects that she extracts the best shots out of you even when you’re sure you’re making her job more difficult.  She knows light and guides you into the best angles of it. And her (genuinely) sweet and patient demeanor makes you feel right at home (in this case, literally at home!) in front of the camera.

I could go on but her work speaks for itself.  Basically, with her behind the camera let your worries melt away as she always gets the shot!SuzuranPhoto_HarperFamily-2

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health & wellness books


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Did you do anything special to celebrate the Summer solstice?  Many friends celebrated at the Cleveland Museum of Art‘s annual Summer Solstice Party, an event not to miss!  That said, we missed it this year!  We have gone every year previous but this year we ended up going camping instead.  We had a blast but we also had one to many s’mores and I am anxious to get myself on track again.

One of the ways I find the motivation to get on track is by reading books and blogs on healthy living, exercise or food (healthy food, of course)., health and fitness books, i quit sugar by sarah wilson, body book by cameron diaz, born to run by christopher mcdougall, wheat belly by william davis

I gained 20 lbs 2 years ago.  I lost about 8 lbs of it last summer while training for my half-marathon but gained 6 of it back this past Winter.  I am not looking for a diet. I am not looking for a quick fix.  I am not anxious to jump on any band wagon.  I am however, eager to change my relationship to food and my understanding of how my body responds to it and make doing right by my body and health a top priority.

I am not looking to be restrictive. In fact, with the approach I’m taking,  I am going to be adding far more foods to my diet than I will be eliminating.  I’ll be making some swaps and the biggest thing I am going to focus on eliminating is and will be: added sugars, refined sugars, processed foods and some dairy and some meat (note I say “some”).

I won’t be doing the Paleo diet (although of all eating lifestyle variations, I’d say the plan I’m creating for myself has the most in common with the paleo concepts), I won’t be a vegan and I certainly won’t be doing any fad diets that encourage you to quit all of anything (carbs, fat, etc.).  It seems to me that all the fad diets of the 80’s and 90’s hindered much more than they helped.  Our bodies NEED sugar (it’s good for brain function and energy) and they NEED fat (good fats) and they NEED protein. It’s the balance of these carbs, fats and proteins that I’m working on and my ability to quickly recognize the foods that deliver these to me in a balanced way.

I have a life-long sugar addiction. I am a classic text book case sugar addict. Last summer I did a 30-day sugar awareness program and 5-day sugar detox (through LifeLessBullshit ). I am going to detox again and then afterwards only invite back in natural sugars for the most part.  There will be exceptions, I won’t ever be militant about anything, but I recall not only how amazing I felt last year when I eliminated then cut back on sugar, I also recall how much better my skin looked and also my waistline.   I also recall how easy it was.

My journey towards improved health and fitness and understanding how my body works and what it really needs will likely never be complete but I am more aware than ever before and it gives me the confidence to start taking action.

I’ve read quite a few books on this topic in the last 18 months or so, but these 4 are stand-outs to me:

1. I Quit Sugar by Sarah Wilson ah. this book is great!  it’s a super quick read, read it in a day.  I am planning to dive into some of the recipes this week ( I just read it last week), but they all seem incredible to me!  Sugar is my primary issue so this book really resonated with me.

2. Body Book by Cameron Diaz A quick, easy read this book is no misnomer.  We cover all aspects of our female bodies and what amazing machines they are.  I think her approach to the way she treats her body and respects her body is incredible and there were many amazing tips to guide my own journey.

3. Born To Run by Christopher McDougall I’m actually currently reading this book having just started it the other day.  I’ve had it on my iPad for a year and am SO GLAD I’ve finally opened it.  It had been highly recommended and I quickly can understand why.  I have never been a runner before last summer. I have always wanted to be and am so amazed that I really truly am a runner now. I can confidently refer to myself as such. It’s a tribe I’m proud to be a part of and one of (if not THE) healthiest decisions I’ve ever made for myself.

4. Wheat Belly by William Davis – oh my gosh. this book.  It made a really compelling case against wheat. Unfortunately the science and facts backing up his case are a little gray to me now, being too far in my rearview mirror.  I think may have to pick it up to re-read it and it would be worth my time to do so.

What health and/or fitness books are you reading?  Also, Pinterest is so amazing for health and fitness tips and recipes and exercises!  I’ve been pinning like mad so be sure to check my board out there too! or click here.

Thanks for reading and if you liked this post, please share or pin it.  Thank you!



you need a budget.


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You Need A Budget.  The first time I saw these words I thought to myself “duh, I know”.  How you manage your money is a private issue, really.  Not one to discuss in polite conversation, but also one that I rarely discuss in conversations with my most trusted friends.  Until now.  I am so into the plan that we use to manage our finances on a day-to-day basis that I wanted to share.

get $6 off YNAB with this unique coupon code:  : mrsharper blog, deboe studio, ynab

My husband and I joined our financial forces prior to getting married and have done a decent job of creating and maintaining monthly budgets and goals etc.  Yet, the primary maintenance of the budget and paying of bills usually fell to one or the other of us.  At one point it was primarily Wes handling, then his schedule got too crazy and I took over because mine was more flexible.  This worked only in that, someone was always at least handling it and ensuring our bills were paid on time.  What did not work about this approach is that whichever one of us wasn’t in charge, always felt a little out of the loop or like we were spending a little blindly.  Even looking at the bank balance daily online does not give you an honest up-to-date picture of what there is to spend because typically much of that money is already spoken for.  We spend X amount per week on groceries, dining out, household goods, gasoline and then of course all the monthly bills, savings and rainy day funds.

Enter: You Need a Budget, or as it’s more commonly referred: YNAB.  I honestly can’t link to where I first read about YNAB as I simply don’t remember, but I wish I could because it was a real game-changer.

YNAB ensures that you’re never spending blindly.  It is also designed for both parties to actively participate in real time through their convenient iPhone app that updates the desktop version through the cloud so that all versions work off the most recently updated file.  If I go out for lunch, before I even leave the table, I open the YNAB app, enter the total amount I spent and click on “lunches out” category and hit enter.  Voila!  Wes then, can open the app on his phone, across town and see that the money we have to spend on “lunches out” before we get paid again has just decreased.

When income comes in you assign every single dollar a “job” and then as you find yourself at Target wanting to buy running shorts I can open the app and see if my budget has anymore dollars available for the clothing category at this time.  If the app says $0 for clothing then, I either don’t buy it, or I know that I have to find that money in the budget to cover the cost.  This means, that if I spend $38 un-budgeted dollars on clothes at Target, I have to take $38 out of my dining out category or out of my rainy day fund or savings or somewhere else to cover that cost. This connects me to my money in a way I’ve never experienced before.

2014 has been the year of getting all my ducks in a row.  My financial ducks, my fitness ducks, my career ducks, my garden ducks…all the ducks!  YNAB really was a game changer and I would highly recommend it to anyone!

This was not a sponsored post.  Anyone who signs up for YNAB gets a coupon code to share (brilliant marketing if you ask me!).  I’ve been using YNAB now for 4 months and am ready to promote and share this code as I can now confidently stand behind it.

GET $6 off with this coupon code:



Good morning sunshine! Today I will…

today There is much to be said of a good morning routine. And lately it seems that there is, in fact, a lot being said.  As a flurry of books on Habits seem to have been released in the last year and likely twice as many on the power of routines and time management, I’ve certainly given developing my own solid morning and daily routines a LOT of thought.  Back in August I wrote a little bit about the morning routine I had developed throughout the summer.  I loved that routine. Then WINTER happened!  And, as we’re all acutely aware, it was a particularly brutal one at that. Winter swooped in, dimmed all the sunshine, fortified my home in snow, and caused me to go into a major hibernation mode.  Waking up early with the sunshine?  What sunshine?!  Kicking the blankets off, feeling the morning breeze through the window and smelling the summer scents it carries in with it? Not so much.  More like, black out curtains closed, wrapped like a cocoon within an inch of my life in down comforters and afgans made with love in front of fireplaces by grandmothers now passed. In the winter…I want to stay in that place. I have no sense of what delights I may miss if I waste another moment away in bed….no.  Give me my book. Perhaps a warm cup of coffee, those are the only delights of my day.  Or so it feels like at 7:30am in the thick of Winter. As quickly as the good habits slip away in Winter (for me), it’s rather surprising and impressive (if I may say so) how eager I am to resume the summer routines upon the first promise of Spring. It was warm today. It was sunny today.  This is unusual. There was a blizzard only 3 days ago.  But, as it’s the first day of April and it was warm and sunny, I started to believe it, trust it. I woke up early.  I meditated for 12 minutes with Ariana Huffington (not exactly with her per se, but check it out here!) I took Bucci for a 2 mile walk. I drank the juice of carrots, apples, ginger and spinach (and I finished my annual March juice cleanse a week ago! This juice wasn’t even mandated!!!).  I juiced, and I walked simply because they seemed the right things to do on a nice day. old habits… In anticipation of Spring officially being here and the hope that it’s arrival will become more obvious soon, I’ve put together a checklist to help ensure that I don’t forget any of the daily rituals and habits that I have hoped to add back into my life after this long cold Winter. A note on creating habits: When I read this book, one of the things that stuck with me the most was the idea that we only have a finite amount of discipline we can practice in any given day.  But, if you create a HABIT out of something that would otherwise require discipline then you’ve freed up that much discipline to apply elsewhere. I don’t know about you….but turning as much as I can into a habit seems like the way to go to me!  I feel my discipline dissipate at some point throughout the day.  However, what I need to practice discipline with unfortunately exceeds my daily amount of given discipline.  So, I will try to turn as many of these items as I can in to habits instead. While there are more than a couple dozen items I want to incorporate into my daily life, I felt like I needed to start more reasonably.  So, I created my own checklist of items that I think are reasonable to integrate into my life now and turn into habits.  The idea is that once these items have in fact turned into habits I can then, layer in some new checklist items. I tried the iPhone app LIFT, last summer which is pretty much all about creating new habits and I have to admit that it was pretty helpful.  However, I am not using it this time around because I feel it conflicts with some recently instituted personal phone policies I’ve instituted (which generally keep a safe space and distance between my hand and my phone).The other reason I am not using a digital approach this time is because I am the type of person who feels very gratified by the act of checking the box.  Do you know what I mean?  I love paper, I love design, I love stationery, I love the act of writing (even though I have horrific handwriting) and simply, I love to make a slash mark through a list or to check a box. I find it all incredibly satisfying and makes me feel activated, signed-up, present, alive, involved…you name it! Feel free to download a copy for yourself. I’ve left a some blank space for you to fill in your own habits or go ahead and even white out mine and fill in your own.  It’s just meant to get us started. MY PLAN: I plan to use it for the entire month of April (sorry I’m getting it to you a day late!) and just see how it goes. The idea is that this month I will honestly give every item on that list a serious effort and at the end of 30 days if looking back over my sheets I see that one of the items has only been crossed off 4-5 times or something, then I will ask myself what about that item wasn’t working for me.  What about my lifestyle as it was made that task so difficult?  Could I edit it a little?  Or, do I need to simply get rid of it altogether?  The beauty in this month long experiment is that is about the amount of time it takes for an activity to turn into a habit. My birthday is MAY 1st.  So, I am really hoping that this year, my birthday present to myself will be that I have created a lot of great daily habits in my life and that I have freed up a whole lot of discipline to use elsewhere as I venture into my 37th year. DOWNLOAD: todayIWILL What do you want to habitualize (is this not a word?)?  what are your thoughts on daily routines and the power of Spring to implement them?  I’d love to hear from you. xoxoxo danielle

how much sharing is too much sharing?


I haven’t posted on this blog, my personal blog, in quite sometime.  Since the holidays, in fact.  There was an actual reason I abandoned it and I considered spelling it all out in a blog post but ultimately didn’t feel like sharing. Instead, I chose to just stop posting.

I am back. Well, sorta.  This blog is a personal outlet for myself.  A space to explore. A space to practice. A space to consider and yes, I suppose, also a space to share. But, it’s that last part that became the issue for me last time I used this space with regularity.

Sharing.  How much does one need to share?  Better question though, is how much do I need to share?  Which leads to a whole slew of additional questions: Why do I need to share that?  What are the repercussions of sharing that? How much of that do I share? Who else is impacted by my sharing that? Should I share that?

Real questions. Real considerations.  Quite a modern conundrum.

A very large part of me doesn’t want to share anything. That part of me wants to be on my own journey figuring it all out on my own and in my own way, somewhere in the disconnected shadows. Feeling compelled to share/update/post etc. along with being exposed to everyone else’s sharing, I’ve come to realize does not make me feel good.  In fact, it often actually makes me feel bad.  All that sharing becomes another obligation, more jones’, more comparisons, a magnetic pull towards devices, a disconnection from things that used to matter more to me.  Car rides with my husband spent in my Instagram feed and not in conversation with him.

That is the part of me that has recently cut my facebook visits to 3 times per WEEK not day and certainly not, hour.  That is the same part of me, that checks and/or posts Instagram once daily (if that) and Pinterest a few times a week, not throughout the day.   (thankfully one can post blogs to FB and twitter without ever logging on to either, creepy as that may be it’s helpful here.)

Cutting back on ALL social media across the board is something new to me. Less than 2 weeks old in fact…but I feel a lot lighter. significantly lighter, in fact.

It’s 2014. I am no fool. I’m an entrepreneur. I need social media. It’s a totally useful (AND FREE!!!) tool towards sharing news of upcoming events, communicating your brand, and connecting with people etc. That is why I haven’t quit any of these modes of social media or have any intentions of doing so.  There is plenty to like about them and I am on my own journey here cutting down on them, no judgements.

But, FOR ME, I didn’t like that they were getting in the way of my creating (or maintaining) healthier habits and routines.  There was a level of anxiety I didn’t recognize in myself that disappeared when I slowed down. An anxiety that I didn’t even realize was there until the silence it’s absence provided allowed me a clarity of mind I was having trouble accessing previously.  These shifts were almost instantaneous. Try it. Give up your phone or facebook or all social media for just one day and see if it doesn’t create some much needed space in your mind (and heart).

So, back to this blog…

Last time around on this blog, I found that I couldn’t even really share my gratitude anymore.  Some things were just private to me. Some things I, like anyone, go through are private.  And sometimes those things, those private things, impact every single area of your life and it’s difficult to find your honest voice when you’re holding back so much.

So, I just stopped.

I haven’t found the solution to that problem. I have thought about it a lot and further, and didn’t really get too much farther.

My posts were made up of gratitude (which I used to do on Wednesdays), the scenic imagery from my runs, personal development, books I read and pics from fun weekends with my husband and friends.

Considering the normal-to-life negative things I was going through simultaneously that never made it to the blog, I started to feel like I was painting a dishonest picture.  Like I was bragging about my perfect life.  ‘look at all I have to be grateful for!’ ‘look how amazing my husband is!’ ‘look how healthy and athletic i am!’ ‘ look how much fun all my free time is’ ‘look how much fun my job is!’ ‘look how perfectly together my home, clothes, life, etc.. is!’….

All the things I posted were honest.  They happened. I was grateful. I did do those runs and drink those smoothies and have that date with my husband….but my life is much more multi-faceted than just those things.

But, I am not a debby-downer (or a danielle-downer, as it were) and have no interest in sharing the flip side, the negative stuff.  Not because I don’t want you to know my life isn’t perfect (because, duh!), but rather, I simply don’t like to post negative stuff ever, really. I can’t really find the point, for me anyhow.

This is not a diary for me.  It is a space to keep special memories, for myself. A space to inspire and motivate myself. A space to consider and explore topics of interest to myself and a space for me to practice graphic design and writing for my own self-improvement. It’s a space to find and/or hold onto my own happiness, not to analyze or indulge the opposite.

So, if it’s all for myself then WHY post it on an online blog and not create a scrapbook or diary instead?

Simply, I like this format. I am naturally a connector. I like connecting with other people.  Perhaps there are people who could find inspiration in some of these posts. If a post I share validates or inspires or motivates one person than, that is one more person than my private scrapbook or diary might. In short, I’m a sharer, but even sharer’s have their limits.

Speaking of limits, I’ve not set any rules for myself in terms of how much I will or won’t share about my personal life as I come back to utilizing this personal blog.  Just trust my gut.

I will use this space to ask questions and try to find their answers. I will use to celebrate special experiences.  I will still share some of what I am learning in terms of cooking/recipes/books/running/self improvement etc.. and some of that will be through the use of photos of my runs, my home, my adventures, my family, my life.  But, I want it to be known, to be stated, that this is an exploratory space. A space to accept that neither life, nor myself are perfect.  But, even though I accept imperfection,  I would like to be kinder to myself and others in the context of it.

Here are two quotes I’ve recently noted on Pinterest that feel relevant:

Comparison is the thief of joy.  In this age of technology, we have unlimited access to how other people are living their lives and what everyone else does with their time. And with the barrage of images both sought out and stumbled upon, it’s very easy to find yourself, an otherwise totally self-confident person, wondering what is ‘wrong’ with your life that you don’t have this or that.

But what I am finding is that, if I step back and really look at what I actually want. A lot of these other things fall off my radar. They don’t register as things that are genuinely important to me.  It’s just easy to get caught up and suddenly find yourself feeling less than or badly because of it all.  I’m looking to shovel away all the crap and find not what others want, but what I want.

Be Kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I know this one to be true, first hand. I don’t share all of me. Sometimes I don’t want to be pleasant to anyone. And sometimes…i’m not.  But, I can’t go around explaining to everyone around me why I wasn’t smiling that day or why I had to miss that meeting.

Sometimes you just have to accept being misunderstood.

Knowing that feeling, I try (operative word being “TRY”) my best, to consider this truth when I take too much personally. An attempt at remembering this helps. My hope is that remembering it often will help turn not taking things personally into a habit.

I know I am not alone in some of these thoughts. Maybe that is why I share?  To find validation.  Whatever the reason, it’s been an interesting journey so far. Thanks for joining me and please, stick around!

Comments are welcome here.



Merry Christmas






While baking Christmas cookies with my mom last week, my dad was busy unpacking various Christmas memories, including this letter to santa I wrote when I was little.  “jeans and Ladies shoes”….I guess some things never change.

Merry Christmas everyone!  It seems we have a white Christmas after all!





blogshop from home!


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About a year ago, I went to NYC for a weekend of learning some key Photoshop skills, including animated gifs and video editing among other basic graphic design skills.


The class, known as BLOGSHOP was some of the best money I’ve ever spent. It is taught by Bri Emery of and Angela Koehler, an incredible LA Based photographer and director who is behind one of my most favorite stop motion gems ever: THIS video for A Fine Frenzy.

I’ve got a lot of graphic designer friends and I think they are so lucky to have that particular skill set.  It comes up in my work life on a daily basis and even nowadays in my personal life too (this blog, cards to friends and family etc.)  While I did not become a graphic designer in 48 hours, this class did empower me to take a lot of the small little design needs of my business into my own hands.  I utilize the skills I developed in that class on a DAILY BASIS.  No exaggeration.

I just read on Bri’s blog that they are now offering the class ONLINE! It’s only a fraction of the cost, but the bulk of the content appears to still be there.  It would seem this first one is sold out, but I couldn’t be more emphatic about how helpful I found this class to be, so keep an eye on it and be sure to sign up next round!

Click the image below to go straight to their website.  If you are curious about the class and wonder if its worth flying to another city to take it in person, feel free to message me with questions.




GRATITUDE WEDNESDAY: Thanksgiving edition


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My late grandparents, Anita & John Cameron looking all kinds of glamorous!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, the holiday of gratitude everyone!

I have a lot to be grateful for, especially as it pertains to my family.  Earlier this week we lost my maternal grandmother, Anita. I am grateful for the time I have had with her. With her 9 kids and 27 grandchildren and the fact that she most often lived out of state, It may seem improbable, but I always felt genuinely loved by my grandmother.  And not in a generally sweeping “you’re my grandkid and therefore I love you” sort of way, but in a “you’re Danielle Laura, daughter of Mary Ann and Harold and I see your humor and silliness and sweetness and I love you for it” specific, and real sort of way. For that feeling, I will always be grateful.

As is common with a loss, one becomes more acutely aware of how lucky they are for their family.  In fact, how lucky I am, I’ve come to realize, simply to have a mother and father at all, let alone two who love me and are always there for me. Not to mention, just a brief car ride away. How lucky I am to have 2 brothers who have always been my best friends too and that one of them gave me a sister-in-law that always just felt more like a sister.

And how lucky I am to have found a husband who was endeared to even my most complex and unattractive qualities, enough to declare that he wanted to be with me forever, and how lucky am I that it so happened that he was also the one I wanted to be with forever?!  And how lucky am I that he come with a family with an amazing set of parents and sisters, but also a tremendously loving extended family too.

I’ve come to understand more clearly that family are the people who you can truly count on to be there for you, and perhaps even, the only ones you can really truly count on.

I am grateful because I know that I have that.  I know that, if I have a joy to share, or conversely, that I have a sorrow or pain to vent. If I have behaved badly or if I, or one of my brothers, is going through a tough time, I know that my family is going to be there, even if it makes life complicated, or tough, or even just annoying, we will be there. Truth is, you can’t really count on others as reliably.

More than that, no matter what we put each other through, I know I can count on my family to support each other and also, to ultimately leave judgement behind.

So, when considering what I am thankful for this holiday there is not doubt it is for my family: my father Harold, my mother Mary Ann, my husband Westleigh, my brothers HJ and Donald, sister in laws, Lisa, Val and Ky, mother in law Mary and father in law, Mickey and for all of our extended family, I am very grateful and thankful.

Also this year, I’ll be thinking about my aunt Rose on Thanksgiving. My aunt was born and raised in the Philippines and came over here upon meeting and marrying my uncle in the 60’s.  With the recent Typhoon, she lost some family members and the ones that were spared are enduring much devastation and tough times ahead and while I am grateful that she was here and spared, I know she must feel so sad not to be able to be with and care for her family and friends that she loves so dearly in her beloved hometown.

On this Thanksgiving, I do not want to take anything for granted.  The roof over my head, the food on our table and the family I get to share it with…(both my own and wes’s.)

….and of course the doggy who will be by my side for it all 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

What are you grateful/thankful for today?



Weekending in the Fall



With Wes and I both working for ourselves, we do try to strategically carve out time to take ourselves out of the cycle of work and out of life’s necessary routines to just change our speed a little.

Being that it is Fall in Northeast Ohio, it’s one of the best times of year then to head East.  We spent some time out in Middlefield, Burton and at Punderson State Park for some hiking.  It was a beautiful day to be outside soaking in some fresh air, and perhaps the last remaining rays of sunshine we’ll see for the year.

Included in this post are images from our hike at Punderson. It was really quite beautiful there. I am so glad we got there before all the trees lost their leaves!daytoplayMrsHarper2staycation-6


mrsharper8mrsharper7all photos ©Danielle DeBoe Harper