Tire Trouble, Tiaras, Torres Unit & Trying To Stay Fit

This morning, my twin sister called me about gaining weight over the holidays. Sadly, she wasn’t alone. We have both put on a few pounds after working so hard to lose weight in our fifties a little over a year ago.

From Halloween to Christmas, watching our weight is an ongoing challenge.

Twinning through the Holidays includes work, working out, and laughing at my sisters saucy observations. “You can’t cherry pick a withered branch from a barren tree.” You can’t expect results without effort.

While Cindy’s daughter, Leigh Ann continues to lose weight after her Gastric Bypass, Cindy and I have fought and fought midlife weight gain since turning 50 four years ago. Leigh Ann’s weight is falling off.

I had planned to go to the gym yesterday but, instead got caught up with a previous client who wanted a Winter Wonderland Photo Shoot in December.

Somewhat confused, I reiterated that Leigh Ann is running a Christmas Mini Shoot special but, was unaware of an option regarding Winter Wonderland.

Sending Leigh Ann a text, I decided to research Winter Wonderland shoots that mostly featured snow.

Since snow is rare in Texas and certainly not “scheduled,” I replied to the text trying to get more information instead.

The client specifically “didn’t want” Christmas themed photos. Okay. It was in my court to find out what exactly she did want and decipher whether or not it was something we offered.

Several texts later, it became apparent that snow wasn’t necessary but fun winter photos were.

Communication is key with every client. If I don’t understand what they want, it’s far harder for me to decide whether a booking will work or not.

I went through winter photos the past eight years to find suitable similar pictures to text the client. From a mother/daughter photo shoot for Mothers Day with coordinating tiaras that we re shot at the wedding with the daughter a few years older to the little boy holding one of my lanterns from our Texas Twins Treasures Inventory, I came up with a few cute photo ideas and locations thinking the situation had been solved with my creative input. But, I jumped the gun.

The client wanted to know if we could photoshop a winter background onto the photos? Well, it’s something we don’t offer. We edit photos and since this client had actually won a contest with my niece that was specifically for family photos emailed to the client and free, these add on options were somewhat surprising to Leigh Ann.

No good deed goes unpunished. My saucy sister “came up with” one of her Cindyism Quotes based on a similar situation years ago. “Don’t ask me for an apple and expect me to bake you a pie.”

Limiting or reigning in what is wanted or expected regarding a free service is not only necessary but, also essential. Try calling someone else for a service or item you didn’t pay for and see how far you get.

What was the situation? I had a bride who needed a wedding dress. Since I often buy them to have on hand to loan Pawning Planners Clients, I took the wedding dress to her.

A few days later, she called me to pick it up and have it altered. I advised her that I don’t sew or alter clothing that I’m loaning to someone. Sure, I was stunned. 

But, I’m not spending money to alter an item that I PAID FOR and LOANED YOU or GIFTED YOU as a courtesy.

Last year, yet another incident had me rattled with a client who wanted to borrow my flowers BUT, wanted them in her colors.  

After explaining to “the Diva” that loaned floral inventory “is what it is,” she began texting me photos of what she wanted. 

I began texting her what it would cost and that I would require a deposit. This ended the “looking a gift horse in the mouth situation.”

I created an inventory to loan to clients at MY OWN EXPENSE. If you don’t want to borrow my inventory, GO BUY YOUR OWN. 

“if COMMON sense was COUNTED in COINS, some PEOPLE got SHORTCHANGED, without a PENNY in their POCKETS” God bless us all.

A few years ago, another bride had found that I sell christening gowns at Texas Twins Treasures and wanted to add a Baptism for her child at her wedding.

Looking back, I should’ve SOLD her the christening gown but, my generosity AGAIN bit me in the butt when I paid priority shipping and mailed her the gown at no cost.

A few days later, rather than thanking me, the bride wanted me to PAY to have a “free to her” christening gown altered. I cannot make this shit up! Seriously. I have met far too many Demanding Divas that didn’t wanted everything BUT didn’t want to pay for it. 

Enlightening and educating these Princesses became such a hassle that I now simply “cut em loose early” and let someone else deal with their drama. You can’t pay me enough to deal with an unreasonable person or client.

There have been so many times that I’ve had to let someone know that I’m not a Fairy Godmother or seamstress that it would stun you. The bride was advised to find someone who sews or pay for alterations.

If I’m GIVING you something- the last thing you should be doing is asking for more, more, more. After all, no one GAVE it to me. I bartered it or bought it. 

Throughout my life on more than one occasion, being the person I’ve never met often has others believing that I’m either stupid or a pushover. I’m neither.

I decided to “meet in the middle” regarding the December photo shoot and visit my storage room for winter props. Sending a few more photos and ideas, I also went on eBay to buy tiaras and Winter Wonderland themed items assuming that we could incorporate them into our holiday photo shoot bookings through January.

I knew my TDCJ Prison Brides would love tiaras at their photo shoots and saw the investment paying off in the long run. 

After all, every year, I add new bouquets, props and other items to my existing inventory to replace and refresh items we use in our traveling photo booth so, I felt that “bending rather than breaking” to accommodate the complimentary photo shoot would work.

I’m not a photographer but, I’ve been a commercial actress and print model as well as actress for over thirty years and know quite a bit about poses and backgrounds.

What I didn’t know about photoshop, my niece, Leigh Ann did. Apparently, it’s not only time consuming but also, rather expensive.

Let’s look at what traditional price points are for photography first and then go into why editing and/or prints incur addition fees:

How Much Do Photographers Charge?

Hobbyist: Free or (under $100).

Amateur: $25 – $75 per hour.

Student: $50-100 per hour / $25-100 per image.

Semi-Pro: $50–$150 per hour / $25-125 per image.

Professional: $75-$250 per hour / $75-$250 per image.

Top Professional: $200-$500+ per hour / $250-$1,500 per image.

Leigh Ann is a professional photographer and seasoned. The package she offered in her giveaway was for 5-7 photos emailed to the client and didn’t involve prints. It also didn’t involve photoshop or various other background options. Leigh Ann needs to be more specific on her target ads and giveaways.

Since I was already “caught in the middle,” by responding to the client, I had also suggested using the Stockyard area for photos approximately 45 minutes from Leigh Ann who had planned to use Holland Lake Park three minutes from her home.

My niece often creates Mini Session Specials. I had a talk with her about specifics after a recent booking a few months ago.

What? Why? Well, the client booked Leigh Ann at $75 for one hour. The client showed up twenty minutes late. This particular client was also pretty demanding.

The client didn’t pay $25 for a photo disc but, as a courtesy, Leigh Ann provided one anyway. The client then wanted Leigh Ann to email ALL photos to her after editing. The client was either too lazy or too cheap to go print photos from the disc.

The client was a DIVA. Showing up late to her photo shoot? Check. Asking for more than she paid for? Check. Not bothering to promote Leigh Ann for going above and beyond? Check.

I’m not going to name any names here but…if you are late, there’s a late fee in all of my contracts. The reason for this is that after years of waiting on clients and running to my next event, I decided that a contract and deposit were essential to getting paid.

For years, getting paid because I gave clients the option to “settle their balance” on the day of the event made my job far more difficult. I have changed things up. 

I now REQUIRE payment in FULL one week prior to the event date. Trying to get paid on the day of an event is a thing of the past for me.

If you are bartering through The Pawning Planners, the trade and contract take place 30 days prior to the event.

I suggested Leigh Ann prepare a contract that specifically details what clients can expect and what she expects of them. Contracts eliminate misconceptions.

I’m now preparing a contract for her to use for photography bookings from this point forward as well as giving her tips on travel fees and deposits.

March- June and September- January are our busiest months. Why? Texas weather. 

December is a very busy month for my entire staff and the client who had won the giveaway waited months after Mothers Day to book her “free session.”

I also advised Leigh Ann to put a time limit on giveaways from now on to prevent unexpected bookings during a busy window. 

I.E. If you have won a giveaway with Leigh Ann, you have two weeks to book or forfeit the session. Period. A second place winner will be drawn to replace the first place winner. 

Let’s get back to that “apple” and the tardy party client. She posted photos on FB but, failed to promote Leigh Ann after being late to her photo shoot and forcing Leigh Ann to email edited photos which took over an hour. No good deed goes unpunished. Leigh Ann was lit about this.

I advised Leigh Ann to start adding a logo to her photos if the client was demanding emailed photos in order to promote herself.

In order to limit the work and time involved that a few clients or divas don’t realize photography entails, Leigh Ann now puts a price on it.

My new additions to Texas Twins Treasures for impromptu photo shoots with clients from Texas Prison Weddings With Wendy Wortham are sure to provide some fun and memorable photos. I love the tiara idea for props!I created Texas Twins Events years ago to help people who couldn’t afford traditional vendors. My twin was my first team member. 

Did I expect four generations of my family to join us? No. But, we’ve expanded and rebranded over and over again. Why? We go above and beyond. Our clients are like family to us.

Cindy’s Quote for going above and beyond? “People are like yeast in bread- they rise to every opportunity!”

We became the people we had never met. By doing things for our clients that no other vendor would do, clients loved our hilarious personalities and props. Cindy has never met a stranger.

I’m also adding new bling bouquets, furs, and holiday decor. We are currently sold out of the emerald and ruby bling bouquets and won’t be restocking bling bouquets for sale at Texas Twins Treasures until February.

If you are interested in custom bling bouquets, please allow 6-8 weeks off season and 8-10 weeks in season for delivery. A deposit is required on any custom order.

Our traditional in stock items are either solid or multi color silk roses with brooch details.

From the grey multi to the pink multi or the sold red, purple, or other colors, it should be noted that full brooch bouquets are heavy. Be aware of this.

A full brooch bouquet can weigh 2-4 lbs while a rosette brooch bouquet weighs 1-2 lbs. 

My rear tire was flat for some reason and I never made it to the gym yesterday but, I did text my son who I haven’t heard from since the Thanksgiving ruckus over my niece, Stephaney joining us. I juggle work and family on an everyday basis.

I also scheduled the winter wonderland photo shoot for December and realized that giving Leigh Ann advice regarding clients needs, wants and the reality or cost of what they are wanting is a necessary conversation.

To resolve the photoshopping issue, I suggested the client using our photos and having them photoshopped elsewhere. This way everyone is happy and there isn’t any confusion in a few weeks regarding add-ons.

If one of my clients changes the contract- I now write a new one. My reasons for this are that add-on items aren’t free.

I offer a wide variety of complimentary items that no one else does and because of this, limit add on items for purchase but not for free.

A few years ago, I was hired to Officiate a wedding. This takes 1-2 hours on location and if there’s a rehearsal, 3. Months into the planning process, the bride added 2 photographers. I gave her the cost and added that printed photos incurred an additional fee. I never asked for a deposit because it was agreed we would be paid on the day of the event.

One week prior to the event, the mother of the bride wanted my Team on location for set up making the total amount of time at this event 8 hours. This was one of the biggest business mistakes I’ve ever made. First, I didn’t require a contract and deposit. Second, adding on additional staff and additional time on site dramatically increased the cost. My staff and I were never paid. I sued the client and won. Theft Of Services whether the original contract was in writing or oral, if you can prove you privided services and didn’t get paid, sue them. I do. 

But, I can also write up a lawsuit on a paper napkin. I’m more than a little “familiar” with court. In fact, I have handled myself Pro Se in Federal Court (suing an employer who fired me while on medical leave and then moved my original lawsuit to Federal Court). Assuming that I would never be able to amend my original petition was a mistake on their part and yes, I won for unlawful termination while under a medical absence. I don’t suffer fools lightly. This Kitty has Claws. I’m nice but I’m far from a pushover. If you steal from me, you will wish you hadn’t. 

There is a good reason I require a contract. Over and over again, I’ve trusted people to do the right thing and from bounced checks to no payment at all or broken promises, I’ve learned that as a business, you cannot pay your bills on broken promises.

Teaching my son, daughter in law, nieces and grandnieces this ahead of time will spare them the experiences that I’ve encountered.

I cannot stress the importance of a contract enough to anyone booking a vendor or the vendor themselves. If you can’t write your own contract, hire an attorney but, get a contract.

Getting my tires checked this morning while waiting at Discount Tires, it should be noted that all of my blogs are written from my iPhone in venue or prison parking lots or even when waiting on clients. Blogging is squeezed into my schedule and a diary of sorts for me.

While I’m dreading trying to get my entire family together for Christmas and hoping that this year they will attempt to get along with each other, my shopping list is being worked into my schedule as most things are.

Getting back to the gym will also be carefully scheduled in today as I leave my SUV and hop into Cindy’s SUV for a lift to Tarrant County Jail to meet my three clients this afternoon.

Jail Weddings are traditionally handled by my son or my niece as my father is currently in Waco and unavailable. 

However, my son is working for his father today and Leigh Ann is editing photos. Jail Weddings are remarkably different from Prison Weddings for a number of reasons. 

First, you are not required to be Approved by Texas Department Of Criminal Justice. 

Secondly, there are no photos available for purchase. Third, many inmates are waiting to be transported to a Texas Prison and want their status to be married going in.

State Jails ARE PRISONS. Because of this, only a TDCJ Approved Officiant (me) can Officiate the ceremony inside a Texas Prison.

My schedule at Texas Prisons is booked through January. Normally, I book only a month out at a time. However, numerous Lock Downs have moved my October and November TDCJ Clients to December and January.

Texas Prison Weddings take place Monday through Friday from 8AM-5PM. The reason for this is that most Unit Weddings take place in the visitation area which is in use on weekends.

If you are a “traditional booking,” your event is either on the weekend or evening which is how I successfully expanded my bookings to include TDCJ Weddings. The “fit” with my schedule was perfect.

Death Row Weddings do not take place in the visitation area. Please be aware of this. There is no contact at a Death Row Wedding.

Traditionally, Prison Weddings allow holding hands, appropriate kissing and hugs. Death Row Wedding Ceremonies do not allow contact.

Cindy and I look forward to meeting our prospective Pawning Planners Clients this week and appraising your items. We are also traveling to several units and mailing out Texas Twins Treasures sales items.

Pawning Planners Apparel featuring Cindy Daniel’s Cindyism Quotes are on a 7-10 day ship time. If you need another language, 14-21 days. We are thrilled with sales from Pawning Planners Apparel and appreciate your patronage. 

To choose your favorite Redneck Reality Quote, google #Cindyism or Pawning Planners Apparel. We are now out of stock on TDCJ Watch Caps and will restock in January. The caps are still available as are hoodies, light jackets and long sleeve tees.

I order these from a third party and don’t produce TDCJ items for sale in our inventory. Because of this, sizes and inventory vary.  If you have a particular size needed, please contact us and we will try to work with our suppliers to restock in plus sizes. We do not sell patches. Texas Prison Museum has a variety of patches available for purchase.
I never actually thought that TDCJ items would be best sellers. In fact, I was wearing a hat that had been given to me in Tennessee Colony when someone asked if they could buy it. Our TDCJ Inventory varies so please check back frequently for new items.

Cindy and I are looking forward to getting back on track and fit in our fifties although the gym isn’t exactly our favorite location.

Nipping this holiday weight gain in the bud early will keep us from going back to Boot Camp. Cindy and I aren’t afraid of hard work and elbow grease. We just don’t love the gym. It’s in and out for us and we clock it.

Cindy and I are also going to the photo shoot with Leigh Ann and packing our suvs with winter props to hopefully give the client what she wants while keeping the photo shoot fun.

I started the prop trend years ago because 1. I’m an experienced floral designer and 2. Pawning Planners Clients cannot afford to provide their own floral designs.

Did I expect that my inventory would grow over the years to include furniture, signs, seasonal items and more? No. But, our clients love photo booth items and we love to add new items.

Cindy and I never planned on selling brooch bouquets either but, one of our bouquets was such a hit that the orders started rolling in.

My twin and I look forward to seeing all of our new and previous clients on location in the coming months and hopefully my tire issue is minor but, it’s better to find out while in Fort Worth than in the boondocks headed to a Texas Prison…