Yep – it’s that time of year … time for the CMteam’s Favorite Things (aka The Enabler List). Here are some of the products that made our lives just a little more awesome in 2011. We’re pretty brilliant consumers, if we do say so ourselves — good luck getting through this post without developing a Wish List of your own … or just forward the article to your husband and let him know that THIS is what you’d like for a gift this year! 😉 Enjoy!!

Sarah Wilkerson:

Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 PC-ENikkor 45mm f2.8 PC-E (Tilt Shift Lens)
This lens represents a turning point in my photography. It slowed me down considerably (manual focus only), allowed me to see my subjects in a completely new way, and helped me to begin defining my style. I find working with it mentally and creatively exhausting — in a good way … it really pushes me, and shot for shot, I get more portfolio worthy images out of this lens than any other.

Smashbox Photo set finishing powder

Smashbox Photo Set Finishing Powder
Flawless! I just discovered this a few weeks ago and am in love. It’s the ideal finish for an even, perfectly polished appearance.

Amazon Prime and Amazon Subscribe & Save
I’ve had Amazon Prime for years, but every year my life seems to get a little busier, and every year I find myself deeming it even more indispensable. Birthday Party this weekend? No worries, I can have a gift here tomorrow for a $3.99 shipping fee (SO worth it!). Two day shipping on just about everything else is totally free. If you tend to procrastinate on gift buying, if you find yourself too busy to run out to the store multiple times each week, if you are an instant gratification kind of person … Amazon Prime is for you.

I’m also addicted to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Program, which doesn’t offer the fast shipping benefits of Prime but is nonetheless fantastic for household staples — for me, that’s diapers, Caffeinated Crystal Light, Caramel Cappuccino K-Cups, GoGo Applesauce, and SimpleHuman trashcan liners … just to name a few of our many subscriptions!

I’ve found my perfect jeans. These are soft, boot cut, and have a bit of stretch in the denim. Major find of 2011 for me.

Kathryn Page:

dior dior addict lip glow 0.12oz

Dior Dior Addict Lip Glow 0.12 oz

LOVE this stuff. It is so moisturizing, lasts a long time and goes on sheer but interacts with your body chemistry to make a custom shade for your lips. How cool is that?
smashbox halo hydrating perfecting powder

Smashbox HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder

This stuff is ah-mazing. I don’t like heavy liquid foundations and am not a fan of the mineral makeup usually but this is the exception. It helps reduce those dreaded age lines (not that I have any but, you know, if I did 😉 ) and it’s the perfect foundation for a warm, humid climate as it keeps you from being all shiny.

estee lauder idealist even skintone illuminator serum

Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator Serum

LOVE the way this serum makes my skin look and feel. It evens out all those inconsistencies in your skin and makes it brighter.

Lisa Harrison:

iPhone 4S
I love this phone so much — mainly because of the camera. It is with me always, and I have taken so many amazing photos with it that I never would have taken otherwise. Siri kind of rocks too. She’s getting better at recognizing my voice and dictating my text messages and e mails for me. I don’t think I’d make it through the day if you took my iPhone 4S away.

Starbucks Application for iPhone
I love the Starbucks Application. I don’t even need my wallet anymore. I just enter my gift card information and each time I go I open the App on my phone and they scan the barcode.

Snapseed for iPhone
I process all my iPhone photos with Snapseed and upload then upload them to Instagram. It’s so much fun and has really made me more creative in the way I process.

magic bullet deluxe

Magic Bullet Deluxe
I have been trying to eat healthier and this was money well spent. It makes shakes and smoothies in seconds and a million other things as well. I have fancy expensive blenders but this is so much more convenient with easy clean up.

Megan Moore:

Think Tank airport international 2.0

Think Tank Airport International 2.0
I don’t know what I did without this bag for so long. At home, we don’t have a lot of room, and this holds most of my gear (that I use regularly). I also use it when I shoot weddings. I love that I can lock it closed, and lock it to something if needed, and I love how much I can fit in it. It is well constructed and sturdy, and allows me to arrive at weddings looking put together and professional, instead of lugging 3 or 4 bags that hold all of my lenses, cameras, flashes, cords, cards, batteries, etc.

ProDPI Deep Matte Paper
I’m obsessed with this Fuji paper from my favorite lab. It’s thick, luxurious and gorgeous. The matte finish works really well with how I work and what I shoot, and my clients have loved their prints on this paper. I rarely print anything on any other kind of paper, business or personal work.

Sarah Phillips:

artisan bread in five minutes a dayArtisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
I’ve heard that bread makers are wonderful gadgets, but I don’t have room to store one. I’m most definitely not a baker (or even a cook really), but this bread making technique is so easy and foolproof. I love it, and I have all of my friends convinced that I am a bread making, domestic goddess. Shhh, don’t tell.


I think rentals just went up to $1.06 a night, but it’s still the best deal out there. There are ten of them within four miles of my house, so I am always able to find something I want to see.

kevin kubotas lighting notebook

Kevin Kubotas Lighting Notebook.
Full of beautiful images, pullbacks and detailed descriptions of the lighting setup that was used to get the shot.

Ashley Spaulding:

bootsMy boots
I love them. I have them in both black and brown. They’re comfy, and the leather is really nice. I love them with jeans and with leggings paired with a long sweater.

Nikon 35mm f/1.4gMy 35mm 1.4G lens
It’s fast. It’s sharp. And it’s the perfect focal length for my shooting style. I predominantly shoot lifestyle and candid images, and I love the room the 35mm offers me.

Monica Wilkinson:

dyson dc24 ball all-floors upright vacuum

Dyson DC24 Ball All-Floors Upright Vacuum
My Dyson….this thing is AWESOME!!

Nikorr 105mm macro lensNikkor 105mm Macro Lens
My 105mm 2.8 macro lens from Nikon. I love my macro lens so much! This thing is sharp as ever, and I mostly use it for all my macro shots, but I love that I can use it for a portrait lens too!

April Nienhuis:

hulu plusHulu Plus

I love having a Hulu Plus account so that I can keep up with the current episodes of all my favorite shows, whether I watch them from my desktop or use the Hulu Plus App and watch from my iPhone or iPad when I’m lounging in bed or out and about.

gap contrast knit shawl collar sweaterGap contrast-knit shawl collar sweater

It doesn’t matter if it’s 0 or 100 degrees outside but I am always freezing. A great sweater to easily throw over any shirt is a must have for me and this is my current favorite. I love the knitted material and comfortable fit in a casual style.


Pinterest, a virtual bulletin board, is in my opinion one of the best websites out there. I love having all my photography and home decor inspiration along with recipes and crafts that I want to try all in one place. Any time I need a boost in my creativity I head on over the Pinterest.

Jessica Gwozdz:

I feel like I am the only person on the CM Team who doesn’t have Starbucks coffee flowing through her veins. Here’s my dirty little secret: I don’t really even like coffee. I am totally addicted to tea though – hot, iced, sweet, plain, whatever… I love it! One of my favorite places to buy tea is Teavana . This year I added a new fave to the list of many teas I just adore from Teavana. It’s the Slimful Chocolate Decadance Oolong and it’s just delicious!

Alzo Wireless Radio Shutter Release
After years of shooting with a tiny little infrared remote (and of course dealing with the innate downsides of an infrared remote), I bought the Alzo wireless radio shutter release this year. The Alzo is big, it’s clunky, but it works perfectly. Every single time, thru walls, without interference of ambient light. The Alzo remote is sheer perfection in a somewhat clunky package with a long antenna. I don’t care how it looks though because I love it and I love the images I can create with it.

estee lauder double wear stay in place eye pencil in coffeeEstee Lauder Double Wear Pencil in Coffee
My search for the perfect brown eyeliner is over. Estee Lauder Double Wear Pencil in Coffee, where have you been all my life? This is the first and only eyeliner I have ever used that stays in place all day and does not smear or smudge. The coffee color is just perfect my eye color and skin tone. I can apply lightly for everyday wear, or apply heavier for a more dramatic look.

Meg Sexton:

Frye Women’s Paige Boot

I love these boots. They go with EVERYTHING!! I am wearing them today with my black skirt to work.

My Contax 645 Film camera and 80mm lens
Having this bad boy in my bag is really pushing me to shoot creatively. I love everything about medium format.

urban decay naked paletteUrban Decay Naked Palette

This one just makes me feel pretty. The colors are perfet and having the palette just makes it easy to keep track of!

Amii Wroblewski:

le creuset enameled cast iron 5 1/2 quart

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2 Quart Round French Oven

I cook with this several times a week! It maintains heat perfectly and evenly (a must for serious cooks!)…and I love that it cleans up so darn easily because of the porcelain enamel.

j.a. henckels chef's knifeJ.A. Henckels Chef’s Knife

If I had to pick one utensil in my whole kitchen that was the most used and my fave, it would be this knife! I am pretty certain that if you have ONE good quality knife to work with in the kitchen, cooking seems like less of a chore!

magic bulletMagic Bullet (no, I’m not kidding)
I am kind of a foodie snob…I like very high quality products that I know will be around for the next 50 years. I buy for the long term and typically avoid “gadgets” BUT the Magic Bullet is so darn awesome! My son loves smoothies and even he can use this without my help. It also helps me avoid pulling out my “big dog” food processor when I have smaller jobs like making pesto. Seriously, kind of cheesy but so versatile!!

Jodi Arego:

ipad 2iPad2
Love, love, love being able to get to my emails, calendar, check weather, look for a recipe, store images from my portfolio, hop on cm, internet shop, etc, etc, ETC wherever i am.

farouk chi 1 inch ceramic flat iron

Farouk CHI 1 Inch Ceramic Flat Iron

Biggest time saver when getting ready. I can’t do my hair without this.

smashbox photo finishSmashbox Photo Finish
This is not part of my everyday make-up, but I love the polished look it gives my skin when I’m putting on make-up to go out, for pictures, or for a special occasion.

Megan Cieloha:

bobbi brown skin foundation spf 15

Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF 15

This foundation is lightweight, but covers well and feels good on my skin. I have sensitive skin, but this formula seems to keep my skin happy!

california baby calming shampoo

California Baby Calming Shampoo

One of my boys has sensitive skin as well and the California Baby line works really well for him. I also love the way the kiddos smell fresh from a bath, snugly and ready for bed.



Not only do I love the Keurig for my daily coffee (current favorite, Starbucks Pikes Place Roast, with chocolate almond milk and caramel creamer, mmm) but it make a fantastic toddler distractor. My youngest knows the entire routine for making a cup of coffee and when he’s on the edge of a meltdown, I just ask “Want to make coffee??” Crisis averted.

Nance Heidemann:

corral boots
Corral Boots

I’ve always wanted a pair of real cowgirl boots. When I saw these boots during a recent trip to Nashville, it was love at first sight. My husband asked me where I would actually where these and my answer was “everywhere”. I love wearing them with skinny jeans and a fun top or with a dress and leggings.

1154 lill custom handbag

1154 Lill Custom Handbags

I absolutely love 1154 Lill custom handbags. You can completely customize a purse/bag by choosing the style and fabrics. My favorite style is the Andi.

matilda jane clothingMatilda Jane Clothing
I absolutely love Matilda Jane clothing for my girls! The pieces are unique, adorable and keep my girls looking like ‘little girls’. The best part is that my girls LOVE wearing their Matilda Jane outfits. I even bought a dress for myself this past season!

Stacey Haslem:

apple tvApple TV

We don’t have cable in our house so this is used all the time. We can stream Netflix, watch those hilarious Youtube clips, and even a rent a movie from itunes when we are too lazy to go to a Red Box on Saturday night. Another thing I love about it is that you can share music and pictures from your computer with it. My kids love to watch all the videos and pictures we have captured and it only takes a click of a button.

wig wam wool socksWig Wam Wool Socks

These aren’t the cutest pair of socks, but they are very practical. I am not much of a slipper girl so these keep my feet warm instead. They are made with Merino Wool that is super soft. They also don’t make your feet sweat-yuck. I never wear shoes around the house and in the winter I live in these. I have also worn them out in the snow and they kept my feet toasty. Apparently, they are great for hiking too.

kicker ik501 dockKicker iK501 Dock

I love, love, love music! When I am cleaning, cooking editing, etc. I like to have music on. I don’t like pulling cords to hook up my iphone to speakers. This is the perfect solution. It is convenient, has amazing sound quality and charges my iphone. Now, my phone is almost always fully charged.

Leah Cook:


27 inches of pure love. This baby makes my life so much easier and gives me major cool points (need ’em)

bob unisex revolution dualie color

BOB Unisex Revolution Dualie Color
This sucker is so light and easy to push. My kids love it and it has room + pockets for everything. I also love the shades that pull all the way down in the front for our hot Texas summers.

Maggies Blend Votive Candles
oooooh they smell soooo yummy. Maggies is a fantastic eclectic store that you must stop in when you visit The Woodlands. I don’t live there anymore, but these are hands down my favorite smelling candles. I want to eat them. You can order them online!!

Megan Squires:

anthropologie purseAnthropologie Purse
Purses are my weakness and I always find myself faced with the photoshoot dilemma: do I bring a purse in addition to my camera bag or lug my huge camera bag around with my wallet and phone in it after the shoot? Enter my Anthropologie solution–an adorable purse that can fit both my camera body, two to three lenses, as well as my wallet and phone. And I love that it makes the perfect carry on when I want to bring my gear with me when I travel.

fingerless gloves

Fingerless gloves!
These are a must have for cold winter nights when I’m up editing. I think I have poor circulation because my editing fingers are always freezing! (I don’t have these exact ones, but they’ll do)

cupcake bare escentuals natural lip gloss

Cupcake Bare Escentuals Natural Lip Gloss in Cupcake
I love lip gloss and this is my go-to. I think I have three or more because I love to keep one in the car, one in my purse, and another with my makeup.

Courtney Keim:

toms shoes

hands down my favorite shoes. i wear them from work to sessions to lounging around the house. i’ve even replaced my uggs in the winter with these. love love love them. these are my favorite of all the ones i have b/c i’m such a freakin dork + i love they have calculus equations on them!

laura mercier tinted moisturizer

laura mercier tinted moisturizer

hate wearing makeup. never had … but put this on every morning. just enough coverage to give me a little hint of color + coverage

ikea frakta shopping bag

ikea frakta shopping bag

best 59 cents i’ve ever spent. i cart all my photography stuff in these bags. i use them as my grocery bags (and they don’t break) … only 3 bags for a family of 5 … can’t beat the price!

What are some of YOUR favorite things or best product finds of 2011? Let us know in the comments!!