101 in 1001: #57 Go on a Girls Trip.03.11.14

This past weekend my college BFFs and I traveled to Chicago to have a girls weekend in honor of our dear Susan who is getting married in one month! :D Four out of the five of us were there (Lindsey’s in Scotland with a new baby girl!), and it was SO good to see them and chat about everything and nothing all weekend.

Chicago Girls Weekend

Two of the most important things we realized over the course of the weekend were a) we look a lot older now than we did in college (what’s up with that?!) and b) we did some pretty weird things in college. I think we’ve always known the latter (I won’t even begin to get into our inside jokes), but every time we’re together we laugh so hard we cry over the random memories: the videos we made, the experiences we had that no one else would find funny and the things we did while cramming five of us into a 3-ish bedroom apartment.

Chicago Girls Weekend

Because we missed Lindsey and we can’t ever leave anyone out, we obviously made a paper-plate-on-a-stick version of her to tote around the city. I really wish I was kidding. Actually, no, I don’t. Because this is just another normal day for us and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Chicago Girls Weekend

Leah, the resident Chicagoan, lined up some pretty awesome stuff for us to do: a delicious brunch, manicures, aromatherapy making (see below) and more.

Chicago Girls Weekend

On the way home to CLE, I listened to an audiobook I’ve been wanting to read: MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend. It was the perfect read (or listen!) after a weekend with my own best friends. I realized, while listening to Bertsche talk about the different stages of friendship, that I am extraordinarily lucky to have many lifelong friends that know me inside and out. And these four girls, who I met freshman year of college in good old Morris Hall, will always be lifers.

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Steamboat Springs, Colorado | Travel02.17.14

Steamboat Springs Skiing_0002

I’ve been nesting away this long, long winter. That’s my excuse for lack of blog posts lately! It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s more that I’ve been spending my time under a blanket, watching (all of) the Olympics with a warm cat next to me. :) But I’m breaking my hibernation to bring you … more snow! Specifically our winter vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Nathan’s family LOVES to ski. And I? Well, I’m learning. (In case you missed it last year, here’s how I look on two wooden sticks flying down a hill. I swear I FEEL like I’m flying.) This year was definitely a step in the right direction. I only freaked out once and was a little more confident in my abilities. Let’s just say that the green hills are my best friends. Nathan’s dream is for me to ski the blues with him. I told him maybe in three years. ;)

Besides the fact that I’m not a great skier, I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to travel and see all the beauty out west. The day we arrived in Colorado, we checked out the natural hot springs at Strawberry Park. It was such a crazy sensation to walk around in a swim suit in 25 degree weather and then get in a pool that’s more than 100 degrees.

Steamboat Springs Skiing_0001 Steamboat Springs Skiing_0003

Every day that I skied (a total of two!) we had AMAZING weather.

Steamboat Springs Skiing_0004 Steamboat Springs Skiing_0005

I was very glad I decided to sit the third day out because it was a blizzard on the slopes!

Steamboat Springs Skiing_0006

Nathan and his dad are pros though and loved the powder from the falling snow.

Steamboat Springs Skiing_0007 Steamboat Springs Skiing_0008 Steamboat Springs Skiing_0009

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Rosie Update02.10.14

Rosie, our beloved black-and-white cat, turned one year old (-ish … since she’s a rescue, we really have no idea when her birthday is) a month ago. I realized I haven’t done a proper Rosie blog post since we got her, and I think it’s time I right that wrong. To all you cat haters out there, just scroll right along to the next post. :)

Rosie the Cat_0001

She loves:

  • Chicken (And we give in to her begging waaay too much.)
  • Toy mice (She’s hidden a 15 pack all over the house and we can’t find any of them!)
  • Rubber bands (We frequently find them in our shoes. I think it adds a little element of surprise to her game.)
  • The neighbor cat Marco (Nathan caught them sitting in our adirondack chairs last summer having a chat.)
  • Unplugging my laptop
  • Brita water (Haha, I wish I was kidding but our cat only drinks Brita water now.)
  • Cuddling with us on our red blanket
  • Hiding in our guest bed’s mattress springs (She literally gets inside through a hole.)

Rosie the Cat_0002

She hates:

  • Being petted on her back and stomach
  • Not getting enough attention
  • Every other cat in the neighborhood besides Marco
  • Being tormented by the squirrels and birds
  • Getting wet
  • Rubber bands once they’ve broken

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2014 | It’s All About Balance12.30.13

2013. What. a. year. I always find it overwhelming to look back at 365 days and draw up some overall conclusion/feeling/concise thought about an entire year. My 2013 was exciting (It was my first year as a full-time photographer, and Nathan and I explored lots of new places together). My 2013 was surprising and enlightening (I learned something new almost every day). My 2013 was busy (Did I mention I went full-time with photography?).

My year was these things. It was also SO much more.

If I’m being 100 percent honest, 2013 wasn’t necessarily easy for me. The craziest, most exhilarating thing I did was choose to dive head first into photography. I’d thought about it a lot. It wasn’t a rash decision, and I’m so thankful that I was able to ease into it so that by the time 2013 came around I had my ducks in a row. Or so I thought.

Let me tell you something. Running a business is not a walk in the park. It’s hard work … especially when it’s a one-person show. You probably all realize this. I was still grasping at that truth while I was immersed in it. For me, a lot of 2013 was about struggling to find balance and set boundaries. It was my first really, really, absolutely full season, and while I’m SO unbelievably grateful for (and completely amazed by) it, I was not prepared for it. I was more than halfway through the year before I realized I was completely consumed by work all the time.

Sometime around the middle of August, I was only seeing Nathan when he would come into my office to clear away the dishes on my desk and bring me new ones (I wish I was joking; it sounds so ridiculous). I wasn’t seeing or interacting with my family and friends nearly as much as I would have liked, even though a lot of them live within a one-hour radius and the phone was always sitting on my desk. I wasn’t eating right (at all), I was exhausted, and the summer was flashing by without a proper bike ride, long walk, or good book devoured on the back deck.

I tell you all of this not to wear my busyness as a badge of honor (although I was certainly doing that just a couple months ago), but to bring complete and utter honesty to the table. I want to share that the most important lesson I learned was that a one-dimensional person is not a happy person, no matter how much work you have, how many features you get or how many Facebook “likes” are currently staring you in the face.

I thought that constantly being busy and stressed out meant I was making it. I thought that saying “yes” to everything was the only way to show that I had it all together. Well, guess what?? I didn’t. I don’t. And I realize now that that’s OK.

I recently read 7 by Jen Hatmaker and was completely awakened to the truth that stress can take over your life if YOU let it.

“We are short fused, stressed out, overextended, and unrested. This pace is not sustainable. I don’t want it to be. This season of life is passing me by, accelerated by a lack of boundaries. Most days I just try to keep the wheels on, not living in the moment at all; I’m just getting it done while thinking about what’s left …

“This biblical concept of rest is whispering to me, ‘You’re ignoring me.’ And I am. Not only do I not take God’s command for rest seriously, but I act like its not in the Bible. Ah, Sabbath. How cute and archaic.”

Yes. That’s me. How did you know, Jen?

After much self-reflection, I now realize that balance is going to be my saving grace in 2014 (that and a little prayer :) ). I know that I need more than one thing (work) to keep me happy/creative/motivated/content/excited/[fill in the blank]. I know that I don’t nearly have it all figured out, and I will stumble and fall more than once, but I am on the right path. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about making space for myself to appreciate the moments and then live in them. Imperfect and all. I’ll let you know how it goes.

St. Lucia

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A Few Days of Rest07.24.13

Norris Lake Tennessee

My summers have looked a lot different than “normal” summers since starting a photography business. It’s busy. There’s a wedding every weekend. There are lots of late nights editing. I love what I do, but I need a break from work sometimes.

Enter lake house. Nathan’s family’s home that always serves as a point of relaxation and recuperation. We snuck down to Tennessee for a few days last week, and it was exactly what I needed.

Norris Lake Tennessee

Amazing book. Pick it up if you have a chance!

Norris Lake Tennessee Norris Lake Tennessee

A new dock was delivered while we were there. It is the craziest thing to see a gigantic building (basically) being pushed down a body of water with a tiny little boat.

Norris Lake Tennessee

First jump off the new dock …

Norris Lake Tennessee Norris Lake Tennessee Norris Lake Tennessee

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Goodbye, Paul.06.12.13

Growing up, it was just me and my brother, Barry. We have two close cousins that are more like sisters, but all in all we have a pretty small family. And that’s always been perfectly fine with me.

Barry and I would entertain ourselves on long road trips by shooting suction-cup bow and arrows at each other’s window. And on Christmas morning, we would wake up ridiculously early to start sorting the presents under the tree. As we’ve grown up, I like to think that we’ve matured and become friends in the process. Now we meet for lunch or go shopping for Barry’s apartment. It’s always been just us two.

And then along came Paul.

This last year, my parents hosted a German exchange student. At first, we weren’t sure about this tall, red-haired guy named Paul, but soon he became the third sibling to our dynamic duo.

Chicago

Paul is the most hilarious, quick-witted German I’ve ever met. And that’s saying something. ;) It doesn’t matter that English is his second language, he still gets all the jokes and can give them right back to you. Not a day would go by where I was with Paul and he wasn’t playfully picking on me. Just like a little brother, right?

He became an obvious fixture in my parent’s house. I would go home to visit and he would be there in the kitchen, just like normal. He even took over my room and my place at the table!

Paul in Chicago_0002

Today, Paul starts his journey home to Germany. It seems like just yesterday my mom was telling me they were going to host an exchange student and now here he is leaving! To quote The Office’s Andy Bernard: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.”

I think I speak for my whole family when I say that Paul has added so much to our lives this year. He fit into our family seamlessly, and he will be missed. We love you, Paul!

Chicago

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The View from Here | Pennsylvania Countryside05.29.13

I stood upon the hills, when heaven’s wide arch
Was glorious with the sun’s returning march,
And woods were brightened, and soft gales
Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Pennsylvania Countryside Sunset

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Rosie Goes to the Vet05.20.13

I’ve been MIA the last few days and you want to know what my excuse is? I had to take Rosie to the vet. I feel like maybe I’m getting a glimpse into what having children would be like. (All you moms out there are probably shaking your heads at me right now. ;) ) I’m not kidding, it gives me a HUGE appreciation for the moms who also, somehow, run a business. You all are rockstars.

And now I will stop comparing having a cat to having multiple children and share a couple random tidbits from the weekend:

  • Nathan baked an apple pie. From scratch. With the fancy criss cross top and all. He is officially a better baker/cook than I am.
  • New Girl never gets old. I’m stretching out the season finale as long as I can by watching it multiple times. I’m on number four.
  • Wearing my good flats to trek around in the woods for an engagement session is never a good idea. I think I dumped about five pounds of leaves, sticks, grass and dirt from my shoes at the end of the session.
  • Gnats, while annoying, can really add something to the bokeh of pictures. Tune in to next Thursday’s wedding blog post to see what I mean.

Black and White Cat

And here’s my usual view of Rosie. She’s a lot happier in the window sill than at the vet.

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Waiting to Dive In05.14.13

Being a wedding photographer is kinda funny sometimes. You go from being soinsanelybusyyoucanhardlybreathe May through October to sloooooow over the winter. I think no matter how many wedding seasons I go through it will always take me by surprise. I’m wired to be very calculated and routine, and I’m still learning to speed up and then slow down and bask in a day off during the week when I work all weekend.

Today is one of those days. I’ve been on the cusp of busy season for awhile now but I haven’t completely dived in. Starting this weekend I’ll begin my long stretch, and to make sure I’m completely refreshed and ready for that, I’m going to relax today.

I’m going to play with Rosie.

I’m going to have lunch with my mom.

I’m going to go for a run and enjoy being outside.

I’m going to get some things crossed off my to do list that won’t otherwise get done this busy season.

I’m going to eat lots and lots of Nutella (and maybe frozen yogurt if I’m being completely honest).

I’m going to watch the season finale of New Girl.

It’s going to be a glorious day! :D

Ferocious Rosie_0001

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A Garden + My Favorite Summer Recipe05.13.13

Summer Corn and Tomato Pasta

Giveaway update: Congratulations to Jessica Waskin and Crystal Welsh for winning the pairs of tickets to Cleveland Magazine’s Silver Spoon Awards party (winners were chosen using random.org)! I’ll be putting the tickets in the mail today! :)

This year, with a little help from our neighbor, we have a garden! One of the few things I remember from the first open house we did at this house was our now-neighbor cleaning up her garden as we checked out the backyard. I remember thinking, “I’ve always wanted to live somewhere where people have gardens.” And here we are.

Our neighbor was gracious enough to let us use her garden this year, and we’ve planted all kinds of things: spinach, green beans, peppers. My favorite of all, however, is the basil. I love fresh basil. I could bottle up that sweet, earthy smell and wear it as perfume (maybe). I could eat basil in anything. In just a week we’ve already gone through all of the basil leaves on our plant. Looks like we should have bought five more!

Summer Corn and Tomato Pasta

One of my favorite summer recipes calls for lots of fresh basil (surprise). It’s my favorite for that reason, but also because the first time I had it I was celebrating being reunited with my four college roommates not long after we had graduated. We were all moving around my little kitchen at my first real grown-up house in Cincinnati, enjoying each other’s company after months away (which probably seemed like years because we spent every day of senior year together). I think Leah found this recipe (she’s the foodie of the group), maybe from Real Simple, and every time I eat it, it takes me back to that night.

Summer Corn and Tomato Pasta

Summer Corn and Tomato Pasta
1 pound bowtie pasta
2 tablespoons EVOO
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off (or 8-16 ounces of frozen)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
Parmesan for topping

Cook pasta al dente, and boil the corn. In the meantime, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add garlic and tomato. Cook about 5 minutes, until tomatoes are soft. Stir in corn and raise the heat, about 5 more minutes. Add the mix, butter, and basil to cooked pasta and toss to coat. Top with fresh parmesan.

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