30A Photography Education & Healthy Living » 30A editorial photographer inspiring women to savor life through learning about photography and healthy living. Serving 30A & Panama City Beach, Florida.

We’re always the first… As soon as Thanksgiving comes, you can count on the Gardner family having our Christmas cards planned and ready to go out the door. This year we’ve been a little (ok, a lot) off the ball and completely missed the mark. What we’re considering doing is sending Valentine’s Day cards instead. Or perhaps even St. Patrick’s Day cards. (We’ll start a trend.) What I do have ready though is something else that’s far sparklier and more fun – photos from Kristen & Gabe’s wedding! Their wedding was a few weeks ago at the Carillon Beach Meeting House, followed by a reception at Runaway Island in Panama City Beach. Their day was full of love, laughter and chocolate cake – all of my favorite things. 😉 After their Carillon wedding (coordinated by Avis Glenister) they caught the last light of the day and danced the night away.

I hope that you enjoy this Christmas and that these images bring a little extra sparkle to your day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Holly

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Here are just a few of the many vendors that made this day possible:

Ceremony venue: Carillon Meeting House

Ceremony coordinator: Carillon Weddings, Avis Glenister

Reception venue: Runaway Island

Reception coordinator/florist: Signature Events, Clay Keels

Photography: Holly Gardner Photography

Cake: Fatty Patty’s

DJ: BBoy Entertainment, Daniel Davis

Makeup Artist: Morgan King

Hairstylist: Amber Conner

Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero from Simply Elegant Bridal

Ring: Mahajara’s Jewelry

Our food allergy story, like many of yours, began with unrelenting eczema. Itching. Scratching. Red, oozy spots. The doctor said it was common with infants and wasn’t a big deal. It pained us to watch our precious baby so miserable and raw. After changing pediatricians, I (Holly) followed my mommy gut and brought him in when he woke up from a nap in a pool of blood. That was, by no means, ok. Not at all.

That day we started a new regimen of baths, topical steroids, crèmes… The advice we received was completely opposite from what we’d been told previously, which frustrated and confused us, but we were so desperate to see a change that we followed their instructions to a t. Within a week, his sweet little baby skin began to heal. It took ten days to clear up completely, but it finally did. Once he was diagnosed with food allergies his flares became less severe and frequent, but he still struggles occasionally.

The other day a friend called and I could sense the desperation in her voice. Her baby was going through the same thing and they were at a loss. I started out by saying “I’m not a doctor. Or an expert. But I know what works for us…” And so I shared a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way. As I started to share, I realized that we have learned a lot about how to keep his eczema under control.

Every child is different, as are their triggers, but here are a few things that we’ve found to be helpful along the way.

  1. Read every label

When our food allergy journey began, we didn’t realize how many allergens were hidden in every day items, like lotions and soaps. That fancy organic lotion we loved? It had dairy in it! Just like food labels, be sure to read each and every labels on toiletries, detergents, etc. Cross-check the ingredients with your food allergy avoidance lists (like this one here.) Not sure what “natural oils” are? Call the manufacturer!

2. Get back to the basics  

Once we ditched all of our fancy toiletries, we started our search for ones that were safe. Our allergist originally suggested Dove Unscented, but we found that we had to be extra careful to get it in his eyes because it burns terribly. When our son had his first appointment at Dallas Children’s Medical Center’s Food Allergy clinic we received a handout from the National Eczema Association (NEA) on soaps and lotions they recommend. We cross-checked their list with our own avoidance lists, to find a few products that are not only completely free of the “Big 8” but approved by the NEA! (Conveniently, we offer a selection of our favorites for sale here!)

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  1. Bathe regularly

A huge piece of the eczema puzzle was baths. Our first pediatrician told us to bathe him less often so we didn’t dry out his skin. But what we learned works best is the opposite – bathe often!!! (The smart folks at the NEA agree on this.) We will soak him in lukewarm water (not too hot or too cool) three times a day for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. This is a good time to bust out the toys and do a little splashing because you’re going to be in there a while. Keep this routine up for 7-10 days and things should start clearing! We’ve found that adding oatmeal to his bath helps speed up the healing, and now we use Eczema bubble pods. They’re filled with oatmeal and are tons of fun! We also recommend that after you get out of the bath you dress up in a puppy towel. While it doesn’t do much to heal eczema, it does a lot for making everyone around you smile.

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4. Slather up like a pig

Once you’ve finished the bath, take your little love out and pat them dry. The key is to leave a little moisture on their skin. Then, use your moisturizer of choice and slather them up like a pig. When his skin feels particularly rough, we turn to either the Hydrating Ointment Moisture Cream or Eczema Super Cream – both of these are thicker and more hydrating.

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  1. Keep allergies under control

This is going to sound obvious, but we have to say it… If you suffer from eczema from environmental or food allergies, the best thing that you can do is avoid your allergens! The more controlled your allergies are, the more controlled your eczema will be!

5. Keep it covered

Something we had to learn the hard way was to dress our eczema baby in long pants whenever we knew he’d be out and about. That can be particularly annoying since we live in the South, but when he doesn’t then any part of his body that touches couches, chairs, or other fabrics breaks out in eczema. We try to balance controlling his eczema with keeping him cool and are still working on this!

     6. Use steroids (sparingly)

Our final tip is to use topical steroids sparingly. We reserve using prescription ointments for when things are really out of control. We have found great success with prescription Locoid, which is formulated to be safe for regular use in newborns, as well as mild hydrocortisone, as found in the Soothing Eczema Care Gift Set. Be sure to only use topical steroids under a physician’s supervision. When you really need it though, a few dabs really does the trick!

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We’d love to hear your tips for controlling eczema. We’re all in this together!

– Holly

Hello, friends! This month commemorates the one-year anniversary of our site launch. Can you believe it? We have met so many amazing people in the food allergy and celiac communities and are beyond grateful for all the support we’ve received! From the messiest of moments to the most intense (like our experiences with anaphylaxis) we feel incredibly loved.

 

As a result, we are feeling in the holiday spirit and want to share our good tidings with you, in the form of a holiday countdown flash sale! Each day this week we’ll offer a special of the day on a new bundle, offered at 30% off!

First up is a little something to help with the itchies – a set of our favorite bath soap and moisturing lotion.

We know you’ll love it because we use it every day in our own house and can confidently say it’s the best! To snag your bundle, head on over to the Holiday Countdown page and snag yours before it’s gone!

– Holly

The nip at my  toes let me know the moment I awoke that things were changing… This morning’s air was crisp and cool, the perfect excuse for me to wear my favorite old sweatshirt as I headed out the door to get the little to school. As soon as I returned home, I cuddled up next to a hot pot of coffee and finished topping off batteries before packing up for the last wedding of the year.

Every year, it comes around the same time and carries with it familiar feelings. Joy. Relief. Pride. Hopefulness. Reflection. Thirty amazing couples. That’s how many have trusted me to document their weddings this year. Each one unique in style and personality, but all with a common trait – they love one another and view their wedding day as the start of a new adventure. It’s humbling, really. Looking back at the calendar and realizing how many have trusted me with their most intimate of moments.

Before I run out the door for Kristen and Gabe’s wedding at the Carillon Meeting House, I wanted to share a few photographs from a recent wedding that was unique and fun-filled – JP & Sheena’s rustic wedding at Southern Lea Farms. Between the stormy skies, elegant décor and the huge smiles on their faces, this wedding was just… everything. Congrats to JP & Sheena – I wish you many years of love and joy!

– Holly

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Here are a few of the many people that made this day possible: 

Venue: Southern Lea Farms

Photography: Holly Gardner Photography

Hair & Makeup: Heavenly Hair, Summer Gay

Florist: Blossoms, Kirby Holt

Officiant: Mike Littleton

DJ: Southern Thunder (David Bass)

Here in the South, meal time carries a sort of sacredness. Holidays call for weeks of preparation, freshly-ironed party dresses and spending time with multiple generations. Thanksgiving has always been one of my personal favorites, since it signals the start of the holiday season and… PUMPKIN PIE.  In the two years since our little man was diagnosed with multiple life-threatening food allergies, we have taken family dinners by the reigns and figured out how to plan meals that are delicious and safe. The first year, we simple kept him away because he wouldn’t get into things. We’d feed him his own food and plates and just keep an eye on him. Last year, things got a little more difficult – he was reaching for things and putting everything in his mouth. Now that he’s almost 2.5, we decided it was time to make our Thanksgiving 100% safe for him. That meant no dairy, seeds, peanuts, tree nuts, mango, etc. Even saying the list makes me tired. After months of planning, I ended up being diagnosed with celiac disease. The upside of my son having food allergies (trying to thinking positive) is that we have learned how to read labels and really gotten into cooking from scratch. But no gluten? That was going to be a hard one! Fortunately, my in-laws are pretty amazing and decided to take charge. We scoured the internet for recipes I could also eat and worked on a few key items at home, like a surprisingly delicious blueberry lemon pound cake.

The photo, above, is actually of our first one. Yes, there was a second one. Yes, it was because we got into it the night before.

Chris also smoked several turkeys in his Big Green Egg. They were so pretty I had to take a picture.

When Thanksgiving Day came, I was shocked at just how much we could eat! Not only was everything 100% safe for him, but I could eat plenty – like the sweet potato casserole. See that orange dish? I licked. it. clean.

No Southern Thanksgiving would be complete without some fresh oysters though. Since little man is not allergic to shellfish, the men got to shucking together out on the patio.

The ice cold Appalachicola oysters were phenomenal, but we obviously didn’t feed the toddler any. It took me a few minutes to figure out the best way to eat them because I’m used to putting them on a Saltine. I ended up sucking it out of the shell. Yum, yum!

The biggest surprise of the day was the desserts my mother-in-law made just for me. She modified a recipe flourless chocolate cake and it was so good we were left fighting over the last piece. Seriously. The gluten and dairy wasn’t missed at all!

And then there were the apples. I have no idea what went in it, but I was reassured that it was completely dairy, nut and gluten free – the oats were gluten-free as well.

This Thanksgiving was certainly different from others, but with a lot of planning, it ended up being stress-free, safe and delicious. We hope that your family’s Thanksgiving was as pleasant as well. Gobble gobble!!!

– Holly