Personal Manifesto

Merriam–Webster Definition: {Manifesto} a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.

During my senior year of college, I was challenged to write a manifesto for a class. This manifesto could be about anything – my options were endless. I’ve never considered myself much of a writer, so I found this a bit challenging. After thinking long and hard about what to write, I thought, well, if manifesto means stating my views or intentions, why not make it a personal manifesto. I spent a morning writing out various phrases that I believe to be true. Below, you will find the final result. These statements are words I truly believe and try to incorporate in my life every day. I hope it resonates with you in some way.


© 2016 theclarissab

favorites // 2016

With 2016 behind us, I thought I would share a few of my favorite shots from this past year! I shot a wide range of subjects: weddings, engagement, families, headshots, newborn & bloggers. I’d say it was a very successful year. I am so so so excited for what 2017 has to offer!


2016 Highlights // 2017 Resolutions

Happy 2017 everyone!

This past year has been an interesting one for sure – ups, downs, challenges and victories. I’m so grateful for all the things that were thrown my way this past year. I thought I would compile a list of highlights from 2016 & talk about some of my resolutions for this upcoming year. I’m not sure where 2017 will take me, but I am looking forward to what’s in store!

Just me & my camera ready to take 2017 by storm


  • senior portfolio class – pulled together my graphic design portfolio and worked on a bunch of projects I was passionate about including creating branded materials for a wedding photographer and nonprofit organization as well as working on my hand lettering. We had a really great group of people in our class too, which made it all the more fun putting our senior show together. Our show ended up being one of the best the department has ever put on!
  • graduating college – this was a huge milestone. While I took a semester off in fall 2013, I was still able to graduate on time which I’m really proud of. I had a really awesome senior year, and I would say it was probably my favorite year of college, but it was 100% the most stressful one. I took on way too much (too many classes, being a full time student, and working 30+ hours a week while still trying to have a social life). But I wouldn’t have changed anything – it taught me time management skills for sure. And pretty much half of the materials I used in my portfolio class I bought from work (saved so much money but I never added up the final cost of everything…don’t really want to…) I am also the first grandchild in my family to graduate college so I felt a sense of pride when I received my diploma 🙂
  • graduation gift – as a grad gift, my parents bought me a plane ticket to go visit my freshman year friends in Nashville, TN. It was such a sweet trip: spending time with some really great friends, visiting all the places we used to hang out (new places too!), and reminiscing about our freshman days was such a sweet ending to this chapter in my life.
  • theclarissab’s business picked up a bit – I am very proud of all the progress I’ve made with theclarissab this year:
    • launched my official website
    • switched my blog over to it’s own domain
    • created branded materials for myself (business cards, marketing, etc)
    • started my official business instagram account
    • shot my first 2 weddings which was a HUGE accomplishment in my book!!
    • held more sessions this year than I ever have before, and many of them ranged in content: weddings, bloggers, headshots, families, newborns, etc.
    • a lot of my business has been through word of mouth, so I am so grateful for my friends, family and clients that have recommended me!
    • I launched a new service for theclarissab during the holiday season – gift wrapping! This was my first year doing this, so there are some things I need to tweak, but I loved doing it and hope to continue it next year as well.
    • I participated in another craft fair where I sold hand lettered journals, state string pallets, and hand lettered canvases and wall hangings. I had so much fun creating these pieces. The string pallets were a huge hit and I made a few custom orders! This aspect of theclarissab will be an ongoing project…more information to come!
  • started a new job(s) – no more retail for me! While I was applying for jobs in my field, I came across an opportunity to do graphic design work for a local church. I was able to create branded materials that I could add to my portfolio and I made some new connections as their intern while still working at the craft store that I worked at during my senior year of college. But I was very ready to get out of retail. Through a friend, I found a job as a decorator at a tableware company. I had the opportunity to learn a new skill, explore product photography, be in charge of social media posts, and learn different aspects of how a small business works. I met some really great people too 🙂 There was a little bit of a hiccup in the job department around the time of my birthday, and I had to start looking for a new job due to the fact that I needed to be working full time hours. There was a brief period of time during this transitional phase that definitely tested my faith and personal life, but as always, God provided me with a great new opportunity to work with a nonprofit based in Boston, where I am working currently.
  • some great memories with great friends – thinking back on the year as a whole, I had some really fun times hanging with new and old friends, visiting them at school, going to concerts, traveling, etc. I am so thankful for the group of individuals that I get to call my friends. We ended the year with another annual Christmas party that I have been doing since I was in 5th grade, and although many couldn’t make it, it made me really realize how blessed I am by each and every friendship that I have acquired over the years.


I’m still making my list of resolutions, but I figured I’d share some of them with you 🙂

  • invest more time and energy into my business – I want to really plan and create goals for myself to grow theclarissab!
  • save money (per usual) – I would like to invest my money in order to buy a new camera and eventually move closer to the city.
  • become more culturally and socially aware – basically, I live under a rock. So I want to make more of an effort to watch the news, andddddd also Netflix (just got it last month…I’m a late bloomer clearly).
  • this goes along with the previous resolution, but I want to make it a goal to watch as many classics or academy award winning movies this year as I can. I’m in the process of making a list of movies that I have not seen that I feel fall under the category of “classic” (like Grease, Forrest Gump, The Godfather movies….) any suggestions?! Leave them in the comments and I’ll add them to my list!
  • invest more time and effort into my relationships with people. Time management is something that I feel I can work on, and I find it negatively impacts my relationships sometimes. So I want to work on spending more time with family and friends and investing my time in people. I tend to jam pack my schedule, but I want to do so more effectively this year.

Overall, 2016 was a good year personally, despite all the crap that happened in the world. I’m grateful for God giving me the life I live, even though I’m at a very weird point in my life. But hey, it’s all about perspective isn’t it? It’s all about #redefining23 for me. Here’s to 2017!

Thanksgiving Traditions & How To Conquer Black Friday 

It’s finally my favorite time of year!! The weekend of Thanksgiving is my favorite weekend of the year. Every Thanksgiving I wake up and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in my pjs with a cup of coffee in hand. Usually, my grandparents come over and spend Thanksgiving dinner with my family of 6. We often eat mid afternoon, and typically more family and friends come over for dessert. My mom always pulls out her favorite Thanksgiving tradition – a game of questions. We all take a card that has a question on it and each person has to answer. Dessert usually follows with apple pie, chocolate pie, and icecream. Thanksgiving usually wraps up around 7 or 8, and you can find most of us sprawled out on the couch stuffed to our faces. I, however, am starting to prep for my Black Friday excursion.

I LOVE to shop (shocker). I started a tradition with my aunt and uncle when I was very young where I would go home with them after Thanksgiving dessert. We’d spend the rest of the evening watching Elf while cutting out coupons for the best deals once the stores opened. We then would make a plan of attack – where to go, what was on our list, what time we should go to each store, etc. We then would go to sleep, and wake up only a few hours later to shop the wee morning hours away. We started this tradition back when stores opened at 4am or 5am.

*I must say, as much as I love Black Friday, I think it’s outrageous stores open at 5pm or 6pm on Thanksgiving, what about all the employees?! Massachusetts has a Blue Law against stores being open on Thanksgiving – thank goodness!*

Over the years, this tradition has changed, but it has turned me into a hardcore Black Friday shopper. Below are some of my thoughts and advice on where to go, what to buy, and how to make the most of the biggest shopping day of the year!


What to buy

Black Friday is also the best day to purchase big ticket items, such as electronics, furniture, etc.

I always make a list of what to buy before I head out. I tend to purchase most of my Christmas gifts, along with some items for myself. Below, I’ve listed the typical purchases I make at each store I visit.

Where to go

Every year I go to the same shopping area, about 20 minutes away. That area has most of the stores that I usually shop at, so it’s a no brainer! I always hit these stores:

Target – movies, gifts, clothes, home decor, $1 section (my FAVORITE part of Target)

Old Navy – always a good deal on the cutest clothes

Kohls – perfect place to buy gifts, especially for swaps!

Michaels – also always have good deals on craft supplies, and I am always crafting!

American Eagle – usually a 40% or 50% off entire purchase deal. Great spot to pick up some cute clothes for yourself or an outfit for a guy in your life! I actually went into an American Eagle the other day and scouted out what I wanted so I wouldn’t have to try on!

Bath and Bodyworks – I solely go here for one thing: CANDLES!!!

Tjmaxx – though they don’t do Black Friday sales, I still love checking them out because they always have great gift options!

How to last throughout the night

  1. Go to bed early.
  2. Plan where you are going and what order – that determines what time you get up .
  3. Hydrate!!! Have water and a few snacks in your car.
  4. Have your list handy to cross off as you go.
  5. Order a Peppermint Mocha. Do it.
  6. Turn up the Christmas music on your way there and throughout the day!! Get in the Christmas mood!!
  7. Don’t go over board – the dangerous thing about Black Friday is that you see all these amazing deals, however, you have a list for a reason. There’s nothing wrong with picking up a few things not on the list, but if you go to crazy, you will run out of money, and would have purchased things you don’t really need.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family, and if you are going out tomorrow, have fun!!


halloween costume diy // queen of hearts

Hey friends! I thought I would share with you all what I did for my Halloween costume this year!

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge Halloween person (never did the whole “college halloween” thing) but a friend of mine told me about how The Boston Children’s Museum was going to put on a “Grownups Night” where you dress up, buy drinks, and explore the Children’s Museum. So I said why not!

I had a certain costume in mind, that appeared on Lauren Conrad’s blog last year. A DIY Queen of Hearts that is classy, cute and SO easy to make. The blogger that was featured is named Haley from Me and Mr. Jones and I’ve linked her tutorial here, to give you step by step instructions in case you need a last minute costume!

I made a few changes to mine (being the minimalist that I am). Here’s what I used:

  • black crop top (forever 21)
  • tulle skirt (charlotte russe)
  • black wedge booties (tjmaxx)
  • black tights
  • 3 large red paper hearts
  • safety pins
  • deck of cards
  • stapler
  • krazy glue
  • hole punch
  • black ribbon

queenofhearts img_1372

My take on this adorable costume was a bit more money savvy – since I’m not really into Halloween, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on my costume. So I thought about what I already owned and went from there!

For Haley’s costume, she wore a fringe crop top and a white tulle skirt. I have ALWAYS wanted a tulle skirt. I don’t have many opportunities to wear one, but I thought this was the perfect opportunity to justify buying one 🙂 To be honest, I would never wear a white tulle skirt other than for this costume. HOWEVER, a black tulle skirt would be more versatile (at least in my closet). So I figured, I would buy a black tulle skirt that I can wear more than once instead of a white one. I already have a couple outfits that I’m planning on sharing for the upcoming holidays. Thank you Charlotte Russe! They have a few different styles for tulle skirts (there’s a blush pink one that I REALLY want).

I already own a black crop top and black booties (I wouldn’t wear red shoes other than for this costume – another money saver!)

I had some cardstock laying around so I cut three large hearts and safety pinned them to the skirt. For the crown, I bought a red deck of cards ($3). Haley has linked a template for the crown that I used to make mine. I found it super helpful to use Krazy Glue instead of a glue gun to attach the cards. Before folding the cards to form a crown, I stapled them together for an extra hold (Krazy Glue won’t hold when the cards bend). Once I stapled the crown together, I punched two holes on opposite sides and fed a black ribbon through. This makes the crown into a headband. The nice thing is that because of the holes, you can slide the crown to wherever you want it to sit on your head.

So there you go – a super easy, cute and cheap costume idea! I ultimately spent $30 on this costume (convinced myself of that tulle skirt!) but you could easily go check out a thrift store and find a cheap skirt.

Hope you all have a fun, safe Halloweekend! I’ll be spending mine watching scary movies and drinking apple cider sangria 🙂

some realizations // redefining23

I am coming to the realization that the statement “it’s okay to not be okay” rings truer than I thought.

Of course it’s okay to not be okay – this means you have acknowledged that something is off and are learning to cope/deal/take on whatever it may be.

Over the past week and a half I think I have been more upset deep down inside than I care to admit. And on more than one occasion these feelings have bubbled to the surface, unannounced and have completely taken me by surprise.

With that being said, these feelings have opened up conversations with others (and myself) that have got me thinking. I have come to realize a few things over the past month that I thought I’d share:

Telling myself that God has a plan is not always enough (like I always thought it was). I’ve always told myself this and truly believed it. But I am realizing now that it is not enough. I had a conversation with my dad the other day and he made a valid point – there is a difference between saying okay He has a plan, and actively listening to what that plan is. I honestly am still working on how to actively listen, but it is relieving to understand there is more to it; I cannot just sit back and only tell myself everything happens for a reason. I have to listen and seek His will in order to see any change.

Having all this time off, has given me the time to put more effort and thought into my freelance business. Sometimes when people ask me what I like to do in my free time, I often think Ha WHAT free time? What is this concept?!??? Honestly, that has been one of my insecurities. When most people watch TV or read or play a sport, I’ve always been stumped. Oh, I like to…uh…go on Pinterest? No shame, but not the answer I would really like to give. I’ve always looked at my life as a to do list. I always have something to do, something to check off as completed. And when I don’t, I usually feel like I could be doing something more productive. And this is why I am always looking for an answer to that question. What DO I like to do? Not until honestly sitting down to write this post did I realize that duh, I have passions and things I enjoy doing in my spare time. I choose to work on my freelance business during my free time because I love photography, design and all things creative. I would rather read blogs, scroll Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration and discover exciting people, places and things through these outlets than watch TV (although I did promise myself I would watch some TV after I graduated college, cause you know, it’s always a great conversation starter. Still working on that…) I have always considered my business as work, but it really isn’t. It’s my passion, something I want to do when I’m not at my actual job. My freelance business has been an actual form of income while being unemployed. Before, it was something I enjoyed, and provided a little extra money. Now, I’m more invested (effort and time-wise) to make it something more than a passion. We’ll see where it takes me 🙂

Vulnerability. This is something I need to work on. No not everything is fun and dandy all the time. I would like to be more authentic and vulnerable in how I am feeling and thinking. I don’t always think I am great with words, so I think this is partly why I have a hard time be vulnerable – how do I voice how I truly feel if I can’t even form how I am feeling in my head? This is something that I am working on. I find that when someone is more vulnerable, it shows your true colors and therefore shows who your true friends are, what you really want to do with your life, and how you process things. I really admire those who show vulnerability and am striving to be more transparent. I want to have that vulnerability but still have a positive outlook.

Recently, I took a personality test. It’s pretty much dead on. It’s called the RHETI Test (Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator). I am a Type Nine: Peacemaker. Below is a small description of Nines, provided by the Enneagram Institute:

“Generally, Nines are patient, steady, easygoing, receptive, relaxed, unselfconscious, agreeable, uncomplicated, contented, comforting, sensual, and idealizing.

Nines get into conflicts by being emotionally unavailable, complacent, inattentive, unaware of their own anger, ineffectual, passive-aggressive, unrealistic, resigned, and stubborn.

At their best, Nines are self-aware, dynamic, inclusive, steadfast, healing, proactive, contemplative, natural, imaginative, serene, and exuberant, engaged and passionate.”

Yes yes yes to all of the above. I received a very detailed synopsis of what it means to be a Type Nine. I strongly suggest you take the test, too. It’s a little strange reading something that is so on point personality wise. Being in this season of change and unknown, reading my test results really opened my eyes to who I am as a person and a little bit of clarity to why I have been feeling the way I’ve been feeling lately. I do understand this is just a personality test, but it has been a stepping stone to understanding myself.

I think I’ve mastered the Boston T system. Well, maybe not all the lines, but I have gone into Boston more times than I ever have growing up (not complaining – I LOVE Boston!) This may seem random and trivial, but I’m quite proud of myself – I’ve been to different parts of the city in the past month that I’ve never been to before. I have also realized that while I’ve been to most parts of the city, I don’t know my way around those parts. I think a goal of mine for the next year is to spend more time in the city exploring and familiarizing myself with the various areas. I love Boston and I love living so close!

Pinterest quotes, y’all. Don’t judge. When you’re having a rough day, Pinterest quotes are where it’s at. I’m going to share a few that have resonated with me recently.

everynowandthen mediocre  timeisright vision

If you’re at all interested, you can follow my Beautiful Inspiration board on Pinterest (or any of my boards for that matter) here! I guess these are not so much a realization, but nice little reminders that everything will be okay.  Also diving into the Word could be just as (actually, more) helpful, let’s not forget that 🙂

As this post is more like a journal entry; a place to jot down my thoughts, I hope it resonates with you in some way or another. I think although my 23rd year is off to a shaky start, I’ve already learned more about myself in one month than I have in all four years of college (that’s a bit of an exaggeration but whatever…) I think these realizations about myself will help set my mindset for the rest of the year.

Part of theclarissab’s #redefining23 blog series 

fall favs // top three favorite outfits

I love me some New England Fall weather!! I’ve been on Pinterest looking for outfit inspiration and I wanted to share my top three favorite fall outfits!

LOOK #1 // blanket scarf + vest



blanket scarf // Charlotte Russe (similar one)

vest // Lands End (they no longer have it! But check their vests out here)

sweater // TjMaxx (similar one)

jeans // Gap Factory

booties // Old Navy

bag // American Eagle (all out but here is a similar bag!)

Who doesn’t love a big cozy blanket scarf?! I’ll admit, this was a complete impulse buy, but I love it! The colors are not only perfect for fall, but pretty much the color scheme of my wardrobe in general. The ivory sweater is a cable knit sweater from TjMaxx; the perfect staple. My down vest has lasted me the past couple of years, so not only is it warm, it’s durable! And I wear a lot of neutrals, so brown matches everything. My jeans and boots are from Old Navy, where I’d say about 60% of my clothes are from. They never disappoint! Lastly, my bag is from American Eagle. I love it because it is a mix of black and brown leather, and has a cute design. A little different than your typical oversized leather purse.

LOOK #2 // fur vest



vest // Forever 21 (similar one)

black tee // Banana Republic (similar one)

jeans // Old Navy

booties // Old Navy

bag // Target (similar one)

While my vest and black tee are from those stores listed above, I actually bought them at Plato’s Closet in Dedham, MA. I paid only $10 for the vest and $14 for the tee! I love the fur vest because it is a statement piece all on its own. And who couldn’t use a black long sleeve tee in their closet. My jeans are the perfect dark wash skinny, and the booties are the same as the first outfit.

LOOK #3 // green jacket + bean boots



jacket // J.Crew

sweater // Tjmaxx (similar one)

jeans // Gap Factory

boots // Tjmaxx (similar one)

watch // Target

I am obsessed with this J.Crew field jacket!! Not only my favorite color, but I love the gold details. I paired it with my favorite cable knit sweater and jeans (same as in look #1) and my (fake) bean boots from Tjmaxx! Classic New England look for sure. My watch matches pretty much everything in my wardrobe due to the greenish beige wristband and rose gold face.

There you have it friends! My top three favorite fall outfits that consist of neutrals + classic New England style. As you can tell, I do a lot of shopping at Old Navy, Tjmaxx, Target and J. Crew. I’m all about being stylish but without spending an arm and a leg.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!

the shadow proves the sunshine // redefining23


I’ve recently been listening to a lot of Switchfoot. I really love their lyrics and recently put on a Spotify playlist that was a mix of all of their albums. “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine” really stuck out to me when I listened to it for the first time. When life isn’t going so great, those dark times make the good ones stand out and feel good. I’m trying to look at life this way.

In the past two weeks of being 23, I’ve had a lot of curveballs thrown my way. Highs and lows, as I’m sure many of us have experienced. I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty details, but at the current moment, I am no longer employed full time. It was very unfortunate timing, and I was (am) bummin’ for sure. As of now, I have a couple part time opportunities that will keep me busy and the creative juices flowing, but if I’m being brutally honest, I am extremely anxious. I know many people don’t have jobs, but to put things into perspective, I have never not had a job since I was 16. And since I’ve graduated college, student loans will be starting up soon (on top of all the other bills). I don’t get anxious very easily, but this is something that has been weighing on my mind consistently.

But I guess that’s adulting for ya. I’m thinking these curveballs are because God wanted to give me some good blog content for #redefing23 😉

So…where does this leave me? As I am trying to redefine the year of 23, I am focusing on the positive outcomes of these situations and what I can take away from them.

I just had a really fun weekend visiting friends and my little brother at his college, I’ve had some free time to visit family, work on freelance content, and work on strengthening my portfolio and self promotion.

I don’t want this to come off as a pity party. Yeah life sucks sometimes, but there have been some really great things happening these past two weeks too. For now, I’ll just keep reminding myself of my favorite verse, Joshua 1:9.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


linda + jim // favorites

This past July I had the pleasure of photographing Linda + Jim’s wedding held at Stonehedge Inn in Tyngsborough, MA. I had a wonderful time capturing their special day! The venue was lovely, and we found a great spot behind the Inn for portraits (love me an old white fence!). Here are some of my favorite shots from the day!

intro // redefining23

Today, I turn 23.

I don’t know how I feel about this to be completely honest. On one hand, I’m excited because I can call myself an adult all while still being considered young. But on the other hand, I feel so OLD. I am an adult doing somewhat adult things…it’s a very strange feeling.

As we all know, no one likes turning 23. In case you were unaware of this little known fact, check out this buzzfeed article. Maybe look up that Blink 182 song…

Side note: That buzzfeed article though. Every. Single. One. They all apply to how I am feeling!!

So this got me thinking. I reflected back on what life has thrown my way in the past 5 years or so:

  • Going off to college far away from home
  • Working through college
  • Transferring schools (at the time reluctantly)
  • Taking a semester off
  • Commuting from home
  • My family’s adoption process coming to a close when Rosie came home
  • Making new friends
  • Starting a freelance business
  • Leaving my first job that I had for 5.5 years
  • Graduating college

The list could go on, but these were some of the big ones. These past few years have challenged, taught, blessed and shaped me to who I am today. And all throughout, I’ve strived to have a positive attitude. I definitely didn’t always succeed at that, but that’s always been the goal. Every year has it’s own challenges and victories.

So then what about 23? What will this year hold for me? Only God knows that. But this year, I want to prove that being 23 doesn’t have to suck. I am determined to make this my best year yet.

How you ask? By starting #redefining23

I want this year to be a year of firsts, progress and a time to look back on and remember as a good, successful year – whatever that may entail. I’ll be sharing throughout the next 365 days what #redefining23 means to me – traveling, freelance endeavors, my faith journey, learning, etc. I want to break the stigma that surrounds us 23 year olds by recording all the exciting moments and lessons that life has to offer during this transitional phase. Think of it as a process journal – keeping track of year 23!

I look forward to finding out what #redefining23 holds for me! If this is something that you’d be interested in – join me! Did something awesome happen? Land that dream job? Start a business? Move to a new city? Whatever it may be, post about it and use #redefining23 and tag me in it so I can follow along with you!

Now time to celebrate being a one year older!