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Working Mom in the City

Three Picture-Worthy Parks in Northern Virginia

Posted on March 3, 2018

Spring is almost here and I can’t wait for the warm weather. I love flowers, photography, and scenic walks. So, I am going to share with you, three picture-worthy parks in the northern Virginia area. I hope you find time this year to visit.

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is located in Vienna, Virginia. The large, beautiful landscape here is a great area for photography. Not only is this garden picture-worthy, there are different areas to visit such as the fairy garden and the Korean bell garden. What I find fascinating about this hidden-gem is the Gazebo over the lake, that looks over the giant kois and turtles. It is a very well-kept, beautiful garden with a variety of plants and flowers. Meadowlark Botanical gardens is worth the trip if you are in the area. Pricing information and their policies can be found on their website.

Green Spring Gardens

Green Spring Gardens is located in Alexandria, Virginia. I often went for a walk here when I was on maternity leave and in need of fresh air. The smooth pathway is very stroller friendly. I went during the day in the morning, so it was really quiet and peaceful. Inside the visitor center is a small gift shop and a library, that consists of a small selection of books related to botany.

Huntley Meadow Park

Huntley Meadow Park is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The zigzag pathway over the wetlands gives an open, breathtaking view of the natural habitat. When I discovered this park and walked along the trail, I did not know what was is in store ahead by the wetlands. I think the is what made this visit so much better – the unexpected view! Along the zigzag path, you will spot many species of birds and a terrific view of the forest. This park has the longest walk out of all three that I have mentioned. What I like about visiting this park, is that I am so close to home, yet I feel like I am not in the city for a moment because it is peaceful and away from the hustle and bustle.

Thanks for reading! I hope you find time soon to visit one of these three parks in northern Virginia!



Three Infant-Friendly Indoor Playgrounds in Northern Virginia

Posted on February 18, 2018

In the beginning, it was easy to entertain my child. I could go for a walk somewhere, anywhere, and she would love it. Now that she is mobile, and loves to play, I have to find more interesting things to do with her. Particularly on a rainy day, when walking isn’t that pleasant, indoor playrooms are a great place for her to burn some energy. She could play in the house, but I am one of those people who likes to get out of the house for a bit on the weekends.

I conducted a general Google search to find an indoor playroom. Many of them offer classes for her age but they were typically offered during the week – during working hours. What I was looking for was either a class or open play that I could take my 10 month-old daughter to on a weekend.

After conducting some research and visiting some playrooms, I would like to share three indoor playrooms that are infant-friendly, with weekend availability.


Captured at Nook

Nook, Arlington VA

I love this place because they have open play on the weekends. This is perfect because, I am a slow mover on the weekends and being able to show up when I can, is a plus. The open-gym with weekend availability is a great perk for working parents who need somewhere to take their infant outside of working hours. The play area in here is made of wood, with a ball pool filled with pearl-like balls (that my daughter loves), and it is very modern. As well as a play area, there are several “nooks” filled with different toys and activities, from trainsets to dress-up. One tip for this open-play option is to book it at least a week in advance on their website. They fill-up quickly. This place is perfect for my daughter as it was quiet and chill.



My daughter loved the ball pool


The Little Gym, Various

This gym has a lot of classes to offer for various age groups. There are parent-child classes offered on the weekends, which is great because not a lot of places offer weekend classes for infants. They are typically during the week, during working hours. This gym has padded everything, with lots of room to climb. I actually held my daughter’s first birthday party here over the weekend, and the staff were great! As a result of their exceptional service, I am curious to see more and would love to take her to one of their classes.

My Gym, Various

This gym is colorful and very padded like the little gym. The infant classes are offered early on the weekends, with many more options during the week. If you are an early riser on the weekends, this gym may be for you. What is cool about this gym is they have a rope swing. My child is still too young, but it looks fun!

If you know of any more please share your thoughts and experiences. Thanks for reading! I hope this helped. This was not an ad, just some honest research and experiences in Northern Virginia!


New Year, New Resume

Posted on January 23, 2018


Time to update your resume

If someone randomly asked you for your resume in order to be considered for the position of a lifetime, would you be ready? Do you think your most recent resume has what it takes to promote yourself, and your awesome experience? Our resumes not only highlight our past experiences, but it is a document that can reassure the hiring manager that we can do something for them, and their company. It simply highlights what we can bring to the table through our past experiences.

Tailor your resume to a position that you see yourself in this year

While strategically searching for a job is worth a whole new blog post, this post will simply give some pointers, and hopefully some motivation to brush up your resume.  As you may have heard, it can be difficult to get past the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that many companies now use. So, we have to do some research and discover some key words that fit our dream position – just to make into the hands of the recruiters.  Below are some steps to develop keywords for your new resume:

  1. Find three to five job titles that you see yourself in this year.
  2. Look at the skills needed, duties that you will be performing, software that you need to be proficient in, and the requirements. These will generate the keywords that you should include in your resume.
  3. Start to summarize how your past experience matches the requirements using the key words you developed in step two.
  4. You know that you can do the job, so let it be known in your resume.

Get help

There is no harm in asking for help. A second set of eyes may save some embarrassment from a glaring typo. So, ask someone that you trust to give your resume a quick proofread. Another option is to buy a book. Yes, buy a book and actually read it. No one knows what you did on the job more than you, and there are plenty of really helpful resume-writing books out there. One that I found to be quite helpful was, Knock Em Dead Resumes : A Killer Resume Gets more Job Interviews  by Martin Yate, CPC. I purchased this book on Amazon, and there are plenty of examples to explore if you find yourself lacking creativity.

Lastly, there is the option to just pay someone else to do it.  Now, this may seem the easiest route, but remember you will have to put in some type of work to start this process, such as finding job titles. Then they will usually ask you to review it. There are some things to keep in mind if you decide to go this route:

  1. Resume writing services can be expensive
  2. You generally get what you pay for

I tried a resume writing service on Groupon out of pure desperation one time. I wanted to get another perspective on this. I loved the formatting, and overall a decent job. However, some of the sentences just didn’t make sense, and were very vague. However, I know one person who spent over five times as much I did, and they were very happy with their service. I have not read their resume with my own bare eyes, so I can not say if it was worth the money or not.

I hope that you decide to take a second look at your resume, and look for areas that highlight your accomplishments, and what you can bring to the table. Once you get your resume to the hiring manager – you will be one step closer to an interview!

Good luck!

Apps That I Found Useful During Maternity Leave

Posted on December 16, 2017

I want to share some applications that I found useful while I was on maternity leave. I was very busy with the baby, and extremely tired. So, things like walking the dog, grocery shopping, and going to the gym were difficult to complete while everyone was out at work. 


During my pregnancy, I read blogs that shared advice on preparing plenty of food before the baby arrived. Needless to say, I was not that prepared. Actually, I didn’t think it would be too hard to cook with a new born. It wasn’t until after a baby I realized why they shared this advice. I was tired, hungry, and very busy with the baby. The last thing I wanted to do was go to the grocery store with a small baby. If you are anything like me who sometimes waits until the last minute to do things,  try a grocery delivery service. Grocery shopping while apartment living has its hurdles, especially when you end up carrying all that you can just to prevent a second trip upstairs.

Recently, I used Amazon Fresh, and was happy with the service and quality of products. One tip for grocery shopping online: create your list before browsing online. Get a notebook and pen, then go through your cupboards or recipes to see what you need. When your list is complete, type in each item in the search bar as you work your way down the list. It will save you a lot of time.

Dog Walker

Dog walking is expensive, but during the first few weeks it can be hard to get out the door – especially with a baby. Using a dog-walking service, the dog gets a good walk and still feels loved while you take care of the new baby. I was in a situation where my dog wanted to go out usually while I was nursing my child or doing something that limited me from going out.

There are plenty of apps, I live in the Washington, DC area so, I used Barkly; it is an on-demand dog walking service. Also, as they walk, you can see their route on a map. After the walk is complete, the walker sends you a summary of the walk, and sends a picture. (Please, use this promo code: cass1894 and get your first walk for free!)


Joseph loves going for long walks.

Food Delivery

So you don’t feel like making food, tired of the food in the house, or jsut want something different? Food delivery apps may not be your best friend if you are trying to lose weight, but why not treat yourself to a nice brunch? My favorite was Uber Eats because a lot of my favorite local restaurants in the city are available on this app.


I have two apps that I LOVE.

1.      Sweat by Kayla

I highly recommend this fitness app by Kayla Itsines because I love the design, it is well put together, the workouts are great, and there is even an easy cancelation option if you need it. There is a post-partum course available, and the first phase helped me to strengthen my hips. I had no idea how weak legs, abs, and hips would be after having a baby. My daughter also got a kick out of me working out in the living room, and would watch and laugh at me. This app also provides healthy recipes, video instructions for each move, and helps you  set weekly goals. 


Screenshot of Sweat by Kayla

2.      Gaia

Gaia a channel that is available on the Amazon Fire TV. They have workout videos, yoga, dance, and meditation videos. I enjoyed the meditation videos because it helped me relax while my daughter napped. 

Thanks for reading!

If you are on maternity leave, I hope that you are able to try one of these apps. Enjoy your time with your little one and take care ❤ 


Setting Goals

Posted on December 5, 2017

Have you ever felt as if were destined to do something more? Maybe you have arrived at this page because you are still looking for a purpose or need a little motivation. One way to encourage a little self-motivation is by creating clearly defined goals for yourself. This means moving on from vague statements, to having goals that define what you want, why you want it, and what exactly it is that you want to do.

Setting goals may sound simple but have you actually sat down, in a quiet room, with a notebook, and jotted down some goals? How much time have you spent recently re-evaluating where you are with your goals? Are your goals even measurable?

Setting goals to find your purpose involves discovering what inspires you, why it inspires you, and researching the steps needed to get there. From there, you can set concrete goals that are motivating. In this post, I am going to share with you three tips to setting goals that motivate.

Discover your true inspiration

Before you start thinking about your goals, think about what inspires you. When you were younger, do you ever remember saying, “ah, I want to be like her when I grow up!” If so, what was it about this person that made you admire them so much? So, the first tip is to research others that inspire you. Then take note of how they got there and what they are passionate about. Is there something about these people that resonates with you? Did they start in a similar place you are in now? The purpose of this step is to discover others who are in a position that you would like to be in, and find out what it is about them that inspires you.

Narrow it down

Okay, so you want to be rich a CEO, your own boss, or famous? What ever your goal is, ask yourself why exactly do you want that title and what will you do when you earn this position or complete this goal? Below is something personal, that I haven’t shared with most. It was time that I did some soul-searching. Now that I have completed this step, I have realized my purpose and I’m motivated to get there.

To begin this step, complete the following sentence:

I want to be ____

Next, add a few lines of what you want to do with that title. When you reach this goal, what are you going to offer, what will you do with this new title?

Below is a personal example of how I developed a goal.

Version 1. I want to be an executive leader.

Version 2. I want to be an executive leader of a large, well-known company.

Version 3. I want to be an executive leader of a fortune 500 company.

Version 4. I want to be an executive leader of top technology firm, who uses her platform for good, and inspires other women in the technology field to succeed.

Final Version. I want to be an inspiring woman in technology, an executive-leader, a thought leader, who uses her platform to encourage othersto use their skills, their abilities, together, as problem-solvers, paving the way for others to do the same – breaking that glass ceiling.

Practice self-discipline

When you have a few minutes, watch this video from TED Talks. The speaker, Matt Cutts, discusses how it takes 30 days to make a habit. I wanted to share this video with you because I want you to pick something to do for thirty days. As you go through this journey of trying something new for 30 days, I want you to take note of the days when you just didn’t feel like it, or when you told yourself that you will try again tomorrow.

When you start working towards your goals, there are going to be times when you just feel like giving up, or you just don’t feel like doing it, or you need a day off. Remind yourself, that if you really want to achieve your goals, you are going to have to practice self-discipline and stick with it. So as we work towards our goals let’s do something for 30 days that will take us step closer towards our goals. Let’s not fall-off track!

After reading this post, I hope that you are motivated to set some goals. Good luck!

Building My Portfolio

Posted on November 19, 2017


There is something about having my daughter that has inspired me to do more. I have always loved photography and have been doing a gig here or there the past two years. Lately, I have been thinking, and feeling more motivated than ever to actually make this business work.  On the other hand, I also see myself climbing up the consulting food chain into some sort of executive role (ah, dilemma). Nevertheless, both paths are worth pursuing for now until I get a clear sign of which path is working for me. I believe it will happen organically and only time will tell…

Which ever path I follow, I will need a portfolio, a vision, and a purpose. Whether it be an impressive resume or a beautiful online portfolio, both need some sort of physical example showing how successful I am in the field. The idea of a portfolio is to show off your experience and best work, which can at least gets you an email from a recruiter or potential client expressing interest.

So, I looked at my portfolio and evaluated it with honesty and put my ego to the side – it needs improvement. My portfolio is half-done, the pictures do not focus on one style or theme, and the about me section could use a lot of work. This is one way of the most effective ways of showing potential clients why they should choose me as their event photographer – and it’s not quite convincing. Below, I am going to share with you my thoughts and plan on how I am going to tackle updating my portfolio. Although this for a photography portfolio, perhaps, some of the more general ideas could be applied to a variety of portfolios. I researched some other photographers portfolios and completed an awesome course on Lynda taught by a professional photographer – Chris Orwig. Now, I am ready to start planning and make some changes.

  1. Vision

Before I begin updating my portfolio, I wanted to re-think my vision and purpose. This will help me decide which pictures I would like to showcase, and also with my ‘about me’ section.

Why do I want to be a photographer? Easy, I like to take pictures of people.

What type of photography do I want to do? I want to focus on event photography for corporate events, conferences and non-profit functions. However, later, I will like to expand a second line of editorial work, focusing on headshots.

What is my purpose? Well, I believe that there are many reasons to hire an event photographer. The final pictures can be used for marketing purposes or for families to cherish the moment and maybe even frame them.

What is my motivation? Pursuing a career, using my natural talents, in support of my own vision and mission is quite motivating. I am not working towards someone else’s vision. It is my vision and I can make it happen.

2. Curate

When choosing pictures for your portfolio, they need to ‘go together’ by reflecting your style and vision. The curated pictures need to convince the audience that you can do the job. They should also be an example of the type of style that they will receive.

For my portfolio, I want to display pictures that are bright, clear, and document the details of the event.  I want my selection of pictures to give a glimpse of what my potential clients may receive. For this section, I am going to ruminate on this a little longer. I also need more pictures, so I will try to book a few more gigs. An online portfolio also needs a nice layout. To help me with my layout, I chose a Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Squarespace. I have used this tool for a while and I like it because the templates are easy to use, they have a lot of how-to guides and

3. About you

The ‘about me’ section is a quick way for your potential clients to get to know you and your credentials and will serve as the final determination of whether they will contact you or not. This area can be personal, showing that you will be great to work with, or it can be simple explaining what you offer.

I have decided to keep my simple. I researched other photographers and not many of them had detailed sections. However, their work speaks for itself. Generally, I noticed most ‘about me’ sections covered the basics:

  • What they offer
  • Where they offer their services
  • How long they have been doing it
  • Why they do it/what their mission is

Some people included their education background as well. Really, the ‘about me’ section or ‘bio’ is yours to put whatever you want.

Now that I have taken a step back to reevaluate my portfolio, I will focus on my vision, select more photographs, and improve my ‘about me’ section. I hope to update this post soon with my finished result. In the meantime, what service do you prefer to use to create your website?

Thanks for reading. I hope that some of these ideas and my thought process help you with your portfolio.


Get Through It

Posted on October 30, 2017

“Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind.” – David Allen 

Is it me or does time speed-up after you have a child? I can’t believe the year is almost over! One minute I had a new born, now I have an eight month old daughter with two teeth, who loves to wave and say, “Hi!”

I know it is barely November, but seriously, where did the year go? I am always on the go, planning my next day, hour or week. It is as if so much has happened and by always planning my next day or move, I haven’t had much time to just sit back and reflect upon it all. So, I am sitting on my couch, sipping on some tea, my daughter is napping, and so is my fiancé napping. It is just me, my laptop and my tea.

Motherhood is a constant learning experience. After every decision I make, and the stages that my child goes through, I learn from it. No matter how tough the decisions and stages may be, one thing I have learned is that we get through it. With a little faith in ourselves, patience and some strength – we get through it.

The stages we get through are temporary such as, colic, teething, and eating solids. Then soon, we move onto school and starting college! With each stage we need patience. We need patience for our child, patience with our partner, and most of all, patience with ourselves. One stage ends and another one starts, but most of all we get through it.

If you’re frantic about having an abundance of laundry, worried about the never ending dishes, or your living room is untidy – it will get done. Sometimes, we get ourselves worked up, trying to stay on top of everything, when really, we just need to slow down and relax. I follow some popular Instagram moms and always wondered how they managed to keep a house so tidy, with such perfectly placed pillows. In a way, that is what makes their profile attractive to keep their followers engaged and gain more. As a photographer, cropping, lighting and staging photos goes a long way. So no need to compare. We are all mothers at the end of the day and we are all just getting through it.

If you ever get to take a moment to yourself, without the worries or stress, just remember to tell yourself that it will get done and you will get through it.