Holiday Photos and Fun with Portrait Innovations

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This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Portrait Innovations. Though we did receive compensation, we always share our honest opinions and only share and recommend products we would use ourselves.

It’s holiday time! Which means it’s time for taking holiday photos for those holiday cards we all love to send and receive. If you’re a busy mom like me, you know it can be hard to find the time and money, especially during a busy holiday season, to schedule photo sessions – but Portrait Innovations is here to help!

Portrait Innovations Can Help with Your Holiday Photos

Portrait Innovations specializes in giving customers a customized portrait studio experience with creative options for beautiful, professional portraits, keepsakes and personalized photo gifts (think gifts for the grandparents!). Their photographers have been trained in the newest posing and shooting techniques. They’re also experienced in working with newborns, children, families, graduates, religious milestones, and large groups. In fact, we saw photos in the studio of mom’s groups and sports teams.

When you look back on all your old photo albums, do you wish you’d captured that moment in time with a professional photo? If so, you’re not alone! This holiday season, skip the hassle and awkward pictures and preserve memorable moments in the best way with Portrait Innovations and get in on their holiday special.

Holiday Photos with Portrait Innovations – Grab Their Holiday Promotion

Guests can receive a free $25 gift – either a mug or ornament with 42 Portrait Package for only $19.99 – special offer ends Sunday, December 11. ‘Tis the Season for Portraits! 

Their Portrait Package includes 1 – 10×13 Wall Portrait, 2 – 8x10s, 4 – 5x7s, 4 – 3x5s, 16 – 2x3s, plus, 5 – 5×7 Greeting Cards and 10 Gift Tags. Never any sitting fees. Portraits and cards are professionally printed in studio within minutes.

Portrait Innovations Holiday Special

 

Portrait Innovations – Fun for the Whole Family

We took advantage of the ease and convenience available at our local Portrait Innovations in Jacksonville, NC. and we had a great time. It was sweet to see all the families there, some with newborns and toddlers, capturing the magic of the season. Though my kids are pre-teens, and I don’t have to worry about them fidgeting in front of the camera or running off, I was impressed at how easily the photographers at Portrait Innovations kept the little ones entertained and giggling during their sessions.

We had so much fun picking out the different backdrops available and deciding which props to use. We even had the opportunity to change outfits to add some real variety to our photo session. We also really enjoyed our photographer Josh. He had such a great personality and personal style and he was very accommodating. 

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Best of all it was stress free! Because all our photos were printed professionally on site, we were able to go home and immediately enjoy our photos – and start sharing them. I was thrilled that holiday cards came as a part of our package. This may be the first time in years, my holiday cards will be mailed out at the beginning of December!

Ready to Get in on the Fun?

For under $15 you can have your holiday photo cards done, too! And, you get a free personalized photo gift to boot. Remember to take your Portrait Innovations coupon above for the special deal. Schedule your appointment today. You can find the closest Portrait Innovations studio to you, here.

Enjoy!


About East Coast NC

East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast – and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site.

Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Beautiful Cardinal Enjoying Some Winter Weather

Beautiful Cardinal

Beautiful cardinal enjoying a little winter weather in Swansboro, NC.

The Crystal Coast is a great place for bird watching and if you have a bird feeder, you know this! One of the local favorites is the Cardinal. It also happens to be North Carolina’s state bird. Did you know they’re also known as cardinal-grosbeaks and cardinal-buntings? The sexes usually have distinctive appearances with males being bright red, like the one above, and females being a rusty brown.

If you’d like to encourage Cardinals to visit your backyard,  you can help by supplying some of their favorites like seeds, insects (you can buy mealworms), and berries. Their diet is quite varied. Most home and garden stores will have a wide variety of seed selections perfect  for Cardinals.

Wonder what a Cardinal sounds like? You can listen to a Cardinal’s song right here. Enjoy!


Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and you may seem them on our site, credited to you! Submit your photos to blog(at)EastCoastNC.com

Coastal Cruises Offer Something for Everyone

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From Landlubbers to Old Salts, Coastal Cruises Offer Something for Everyone

by Kristen Daly

There’s no better way to discover the coast than from the bow of boat. At the North Carolina Coastal Federation our summer cruise programs are in full swing and offer a variety of ways for you to experience the scenic N.C. coast. From Manteo to Wrightsville Beach, our expert staff will show you a side of the coast you likely haven’t seen and will give you a deeper appreciation for these waterways. All while having fun and perhaps even getting your feet wet! Federation cruises have something for everyone: gorgeous scenery, encounters with wildlife, local anecdotes, and a better understanding of the importance of our coastal waters.

Shallowbag Bay’s Boat the Bay Cruise

In Manteo, the Boat the Bay cruise explores the significance and stunning beauty of Shallowbag Bay.  You will pull up crab pots, visit restoration sites, and (weather permitting) conduct biological surveys of the bay.  During this cruise you’ll investigate why estuaries are referred to as the nurseries of the sea and get hands-on with the creatures that live there.

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Hammocks Beach State Park Marsh Cruise

Those looking to explore the scenic waters of the Central N.C. coast can set sail from Hammocks Beach State Park aboard our Marsh Cruise. You will hear tales of native settlers, past fishing villages and pirates; swing by uninhabited isles, and see the stunning Crystal Coast from whole new vantage point.

Bear Island Shelling Cruise

For folks who would rather comb the beaches, our Shelling Cruise is a perfect fit.  A picturesque ride through the estuaries of the Crystal Coast brings travelers to Bear Island where they can spend the morning searching for shells and other treasures along the shore.  Learn to connect the beautiful shells of our coast with the animals that live and grow in them.

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Rich Inlet and Hutaff-Lea Barrier Island

In the southeast, you can spend a half-day exploring Rich Inlet. See the unspoiled Hutaff-Lea barrier island complex and the incredible array of wildlife it supports. Stroll along the shores of an exquisite barrier island and you will soon feel like you’re a thousand miles away on a secluded isle. While aboard, you will learn about recent threats to this pristine habitat and the nesting sites that depend on it.

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These federation cruises leave a lasting impression and are the ideal way to discover the unique offerings and history of each coastal location.  Participants come away with a fuller and more meaningful understanding of the beautiful North Carolina coast, and all it has to offer. Full of fascinating information and magnificent views, these cruises are not to be missed. Check out our events calendar at nccoast.org for a cruise near you.

About Kristen Daly

Coastal Education and Community Engagement Fellow

Kristen began to nurture a love for the coast as a child planting dune grass along her native Long Island beaches.   She earned a B.S. in Marine Biology from UNC-Wilmington in 2010, and a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Environmental Science from Oregon State University in 2014.  As part of her PSM program, Kristen joined the NC Coastal Federation as an intern in the summer of 2013.   She has also worked in sea turtle rehabilitation, invasive species removal, and native tree planting.  She is thrilled to return to the federation as a Coastal Fellow.  She will be working with the central and headquarters staff in the planning and implementation of outreach and educational programs, conducting coastal restoration, and contributing to advocacy efforts.


East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site. Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Have You Seen the Eastern Box Turtle

NC Eastern-Box-turtleEastern Box Turtle

We found this guy scooting along one damp morning. He was quick and wasn’t too keen on hanging around for photographs so I didn’t hold him up for too long and let him go about his business soon after snapping a few photos.

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The Eastern Box Turtle

An Eastern Box turtle hiding

The Eastern Box Turtle is a subspecies of one of two species of box turtles found in the United States. It is the only “land turtle” found in North Carolina, where it is the state reptile. Box turtles are slow crawlers, extremely long lived, slow to mature, and have relatively few offspring per year. These characteristics, along with a propensity to get hit by cars and agricultural machinery, make all box turtle species particularly susceptible to anthropogenic, or human-induced, mortality.

Eastern box turtles prefer deciduous or mixed forested regions, with a moderately moist forest floor that has good drainage. Bottomland forest is preferred over hillsides and ridges. They can also be found in open grasslands, pastures, or under fallen logs or in moist ground, usually moist leaves or wet dirt. They have also been known to take “baths” in shallow streams and ponds or puddles, and during hot periods may submerge in mud for days at a time. However, if placed in water that is too deep (completely submerged), they may drown.

Have you come across an Eastern Box Turtle in NC? If so, let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear from you.


East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site. Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Sea Pansies and Blue Buttons

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Blue Button by Sam Bland

Sea Pansies and Blue Buttons
by Sam Bland

Awaking before dawn, on a recent morning, I could hear the pulse of the ocean drifting over the dunes and through the walls of my house. The roar of the sea impaled me like a harpoon and pulled me to the shore as if I didn’t have any choice. On the ocean side of the dunes, a ghost crab peered from its burrow then melted back into the sand, giving honor to its name. As I stepped out onto the open beach, I could feel the vibrations of the pounding waves coursing through the sand. The swells were undulating across the surface of the ocean like the ripples on a sail luffing in the wind. The sound was a constant mixture of individual crashing waves that meshed together like the white noise found on a sleep machine. Waves that traveled across a vast ocean, carried and now released the voice of a low-pressure system well out to sea.

Storms are a beachcomber’s ally, a philanthropist depositing gifts and curiosities along a beach strewn with seaweed and chunks of airy foam. I rambled along the beach looking for the calcium carbonite trophies, of which there were a few. Some nice whelks and helmet shells would quickly be snatched up as soon as the sleepy tourist, sipping their coffee, began their morning at the edge of the sea. I resisted the urge to pick up shells, instead intent on finding the unusual. It didn’t take long as I double stepped to prevent myself from trampling on a dark golden colored disk shaped object complete with a blue boarder and tassels. But this was not a seashell, or even an animal; it was a colony of animals.

This group of organisms, which is related to jellyfish, is known as a Blue Button. This object, which looks like it could be a colorful brooch pined to the lapel of a jacket, is group of hydroid polyps that usually live well out to sea on the surface of the ocean. Each animal in the colony has a specific function such as reproduction, feeding or protection. The sturdy one and a half inch round disk is filled with gas, which creates buoyancy. Trailing underneath the disk are numerous tentacle-like strands of hydroids. At the ends of the tentacles are powerful stinging cells called nematocysts. Inside each cell is a coiled harpoon-like spear that is launched when water pressure enters the cell. These spears are used as a deterrent to predators and to capture prey such as crab larvae. Lacking any form of propulsion, these animals wander the ocean at the pleasure of the wind, the waves and the currents.

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Sea Pansy by Sam Bland

As I continued my search for the unusual, not far from the blue button, I found another similar object partially buried in the sand. This purplish two inch fleshy looking item, called a sea pansy, resembled a mushroom or even the petal of a flower. It is a type of soft coral that is also a collection of individual organisms that work cooperatively at different tasks to benefit the group as a whole. The leaf-like body is connected to stalk called a peduncle. Unlike the blue button, the sea pansies live on the ocean floor and are anchored into the sand or mud by the peduncle. Even If uprooted by rough seas the peduncle can establish a new mooring once it settles back on the sand.

The fleshy body has a firm and rigid structure thanks needle-like objects called spicules.  On the upper side of the body are two kinds of polyps. One is an anemone-like polyp that feeds by trapping plankton in gooey mucus. The other polyp controls water that enters the body allowing it to inflate or deflate as necessary. If exposed at low tide, the sea pansy will deflate the body allowing it to be covered by sand and hidden from predators.

When exposed during the night, the sea pansy can also thwart predators by distracting them by putting on an amazing show of pulsing waves of green light. A green fluorescent protein along with an enzyme creates this bio-luminescent activity when the body is touched or molested by an aggressive predator. Interestingly, the enzyme is known as a luciferase, from the word Lucifer, which means light bearer.

As I handled the sea pansy in the daylight I was unable to detect any display of the bio-luminescence. Intently studying the creature, I was unaware of the serious beachcombers that were now scavenging the beach. I walked off the beach as a group of giddy surfers trotted into the surf, eager to quench their thirst with head high waves that ended a long drought of rideable waves.

About Sam Bland

Sam Bland spent much of his life out in the field as a park ranger and park superintendent at the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. He currently works with the North Carolina Coastal Federation developing education programs. He is also an accomplished photographer.


East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site. Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly Heading North

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Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly
by Sam Bland

Summer is slipping away and I will miss its caressing warmth. I don’t even mind the muggy sticky humidity that hangs over the coast like a blanket during the steamy months of July and August. Ultimately, like the tide, the season will change and I will have no choice but to accept this climatic transformation. But until then, I will hold on to summer as long as I can.

Early September has already ushered in cooler weather as the cool fronts begin to drift across the country. This time of year, these pushes of northern air are usually escorted by a variety of migrating birds and butterflies fleeing south to warmer latitudes. The movement of these animals is triggered, instinctively, by air temperature and shorter periods of day light. The day of balance is upon us, equal day and equal night, the symmetry of the autumn equinox. For those observant enough, a messenger has already spread the word of its impending arrival.

Along the coastal plain of North Carolina, anyone out for a walk will notice one of the first signs of the approaching autumn skipping just past their noses. At first, a sighting here and there, then a trickle of brilliant yellow streaks floating through the air, followed by a steady stream of fluttering lemon yellow butterflies. The Cloudless Sulphur Butterfly has arrived and it has relaxed my grip on summer.

The dazzling and showy color of the Cloudless Sulphur is reflected in the insect’s scientific name, Phoebis sennae. Phoebis is derived from Pheobe, the Titan goddess of Greek mythology, who was known for her radiance and brightness. Pheobe was also known for her prophecies. The arrival of the Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies along the coast has long been an alarm clock alerting the local fishermen to ready their gear as the waters will soon be thick with spot and mullet. Its common name, Cloudless Sulphur, represents its Sulphur colored wings that are clear and free of blemish.

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Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies are wide ranging and are found from Argentina north into south Texas and across the southeast. During summer, they stray into the Midwest and some will even reach Canada. In North Carolina, they have been documented in all 100 counties and are predominantly seen during the fall migration while limited numbers are seen in the spring. Their flight can seem erratic with no particular direction in mind. But like a sail boat tacking against the wind, their zig-zagging eventually leads them to their destination. During migration, however, their flight is more matter of fact with the males out pacing the females to wintering sites while covering close to 12 miles a day. The females will actually reduce their flight tempo while flying with the wind. It is thought that this conserves precious energy that will be needed later to produce and lay eggs.

A curious thing though, while most of the Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies are heading south racing the frigid future, a number of them, undaunted, are actually heading north. While the Cloudless Sulphur is more tolerant of the cold than most butterflies, this is a fool’s errand. Eventually, they will be caressed by the embrace of a powerful Artic air mass that will greet them with the cold cruel kiss of death. It is not fully understood why some take on this suicidal journey, but it may be a way for them to develop genetic changes that eventually allow them to survive in colder climates and extend their range.

As I watch from my porch, it is obvious that the Sulphurs passing through are heading north. A few stop among the flowers to slurp up energizing nectar with their long proboscis. Out in a clearing, four Cloudless Sulphurs converge together and conduct a butterfly version of the chest bump in midair. They then swirl around chasing after each other while spiraling up into the air like a mini yellow tornado. At tree top level, they separate, flying down and away from each other in different directions showering the sky like Fourth of July fireworks. A butterfly scuffle triggered over the nectar rich flowers or males intent on finding a mate.

The Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies will continue to coast by until their numbers dwindle like the amount of day light each day. Like the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the equinox dawns the transition into the migration of a new season.


East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site. Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Black and Yellow Spiders in Your NC Backyard

Banana-Spider

You never know what little creature you might meet while in your backyard in North Carolina. Today we found a Black and Yellow Garden Spider, also called the Zipper Spider or Writing Spider. It’s actual scientific name is Argiope. The genus Argiope includes rather large and spectacular spiders that often have a strikingly colored abdomen. These spiders are distributed throughout the world and seem to love our yard.

This one wasn’t really little, but it seemed very comfortable hanging out on the side of the house. Later, we found another in the rose bushes and one who’d made a giant web in a tree.

Black and Yellow Garden Spiders

If you come across a Black and Yellow Garden Spider, you’ll know it almost immediately. The web of the yellow garden spider is distinctive: a circular shape up to 2 feet in diameter, with a dense zigzag of silk, known as a stabilimentum, in the center. It’s possible that it acts as camouflage for the spider lurking in the web’s center, but it may also attract insect prey, or even warn birds of the presence of the otherwise difficult-to-see web. Only those spiders that are active during the day construct stabilimenta in their webs.

Garden spiders often build webs in areas adjacent to open sunny fields where they stay concealed and protected from the wind. The spider can also be found along the eaves of houses and outbuildings or in any tall vegetation where they can securely stretch a web.

Argiope spiders are not aggressive. They might bite if grabbed, but other than for defense they do not attack large animals. A bite by Argiope aurantia is comparable to a bee sting with redness and swelling. For a healthy adult, a bite is not considered an issue. Though they are not aggressive spiders, the very young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems should exercise caution just as they would around a beehive.

You can read more about them on Wikipedia at Argiope aurantia

What have you been surprised to find in your NC backyard?


East Coast NC shares where to go, what to see, and what to do along North Carolina’s beautiful Crystal Coast and beyond. You’ll find the latest events, entertainment, news, happenings, restaurants, real estate information, and more on our site. Share your stories, events and happenings with us, and you may seem them featured on our site! Looking to advertise? Contact us

Sunrise Over Shallowbag Bay, Manteo

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Copyright © Rick Anderson, All Rights Reserved.

Sunrise over an icy Shallowbag Bay in Manteo. Rick writes “Its been pretty amazing to see the amount of ice on the Outer Banks over the past couple of weeks.” We agree! How about you? Let us know in the comments!

We’d love to see your photos and videos from around East Coast NC! Send them to us and if we share them, we’ll credit you and link back to your site. Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Snow Covered Beaches In Emerald Isle

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You’d think that snow wouldn’t be a big deal in North Carolina, but when it happens at the beach, it is a pretty big deal. Emerald Isle Resident, Arlayne Calhoun, sent us these shots from her stomping grounds. Snow covered beaches in Emerald Isle, NC. Who would have thought?! Big thanks, Arlayne!

Did you see snow where you are? Let us know in the comments below.

We’d love to see your photos and videos from around East Coast NC! Send them to us and if we share them, we’ll credit you and link back to your site. Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Snow at Bodie Island Lighthouse

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Bodie Island Lighthouse during the snow the afternoon. Copyright © 2015 Rick Anderson, All Rights Reserved.

The current Bodie Island Lighthouse is the third that has stood in this vicinity of Bodie Island on the Outer Banks (OBX) in North Carolina and was built in 1872. It stands 156 feet (48 m) tall and is located on the Roanoke Sound side of the first island that is part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The lighthouse is just south of Nags Head, a few miles before Oregon Inlet. It was renovated from August 2009 to March 2013, and was made climbable by the public.

Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and if we share them, we’ll credit you! Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Driftwood Heart Among Seashells at the Outer Banks

a driftwood heart among seashells

Just one more reason to love Coastal Carolina! Walking along the Outer Banks, Amanda found this beautiful driftwood heart among the seashells. You can see more of Amanda’s amazing photography on her website at Amanda Lou Who Photography.

Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and we’ll do our best to share them on our site, credited to you! Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Let It Go, Let It Snow! Elsa Visits The Crystal Coast

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Elsa visits the Crystal Coast

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 Elsa visits the Crystal Coast

Beautiful girl dressed like Disney's Princess Elsa

The cold never bothered her, anyway.

If it’s going to snow, why not have a little fun with it? Here are a few photos of local, Allison Owens, as Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. Photos taken by Johanna Owens in Cedar Point, NC. Here’s a treat, “Let it Go” sung in 25 different languages.

Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and you may seem them on our site, credited to you! Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Crescent Moon in NC

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© Allie Miller Photography

Did you catch last night’s crescent moon along North Carolina’s east coast? It sure was something to behold.  This beautiful capture was sent to us by Allie Miller of AllieMillerPhotography.com.

Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and you may seem them on our site, credited to you! Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com

Beautiful Sunrise in Kill Devil Hills, NC

Sunrise at Ashville Drive Beach Access – January 20, 2015

Sunrise at Ashville Drive Beach Access – January 20, 2015 Copyright Rick Anderson of OBX Photos

Another beautiful, January morning on the Outer Banks. Today’s sunrise in Kill Devil Hills photographed by Rick Anderson of OBX Photos.  We’re lucky that we live here and get to see Coastal Carolina’s beauty all year ’round.  But if you don’t live here along our beautiful coast, don’t worry! Rick is an amazing photographer and has a beautiful gallery of photographs you can purchase.

Do you have great photos from around East Coast NC? Send them to us and you may seem them on our site, credited to you! Submit your photos to Photos(at)EastCoastNC.com