October 11, 2011

orchard funness.

I discovered something really enlightening a few days ago. To improve my picture taking skills, the most important thing I can do is get that little black box out, take the lens off, and start clicking.

Duh, I know.
I don't aspire to be a professional photographer, but I do have a huge desire to have a mountain of pictures to look back on. The older I get, the less I care about "stuff". I think the greatest gift I coud receive from anyone would be a nice day spent together. The longer I exist on this planet the more I realize that the luster and newness of objects wear off. We forget about them, they break, we give them away. We replace them periodically with newer trinkets.

Memories though.. those usually stick with you for the long haul. I know that Charlotte will never remember what she got for her first Christmas. She probably will not remember the awe in her eyes when she sees our Christmas tree lit up for the first time in the evening either, but I hope I can capture that so she can look back on it forever.

I love looking at pictures from when I was younger.

Holidays are exciting around here. Ryan and I have had quite a few solid years worth of celebrations pre-Charlotte. Not starting a family yet never stopped us from finding our inner kids and dyeing Easter eggs, decorating a Christmas tree or carving pumpkins. We always had a lot of fun just the two of us, but I have discovered that joy is times a million when you see it through your child's eyes.

This past weekend we went to the pumpkin patch with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and nephew, Chase. Charlotte loved being a part of all the commotion. She was on sensory overload watching kids play, taking a "train" ride, hay ride, crawling through the pumpkin patch and having her first delicious taste of fresh cider and warm sugar 'n cinnamon doughnuts.

Here is a lovely picture of Charlotte eating her first fistful of pumpkin patch dirt. Yumm. On the glass is half full side, I'll say she's just boosting her immune system.


There are some weird shadows and colorcasts in the some of the pictures, but after messing around with them in Photoshop I decided that I liked them best like that... straight outta the camera.



This series of pictures was my favorite of the day.. or month.. or year. Or ever.





Now this is what I'm talking about. Not professional at all, I'm sure a ton of technical things are terribly wrong. But those are the faces of my favorite people at their most everyday, raw state. Ryan is not one of those people that have a nice fakey fake "say cheese" smile. But this? I feel like I struck gold capturing him in the moment. People that don't know him well are convinced he never smiles. This couldn't be further from the truth.

We got a daddy and mommy pumpkin in the patch, but couldn't find one small enough to represent baby. I remembered that they had smaller pie pumpkins in a bin up front, so Ryan and I found one to suit Charlotte. By this time, she was fighting to stay awake after a jam packed day. She was drowsy, but I lifted the sunshade on her stroller and handed her the smallish pumpkin to see what she thought, and she laughed hysterically! I think that she liked that it was just her size.


While we were basking in fall-funness that day, my sister-in-law Stacey wanted me to get a few shots of my nephew for his third birthday. I snapped pictures throughout the day, but was kind of bummed when our excursion was winding down and I knew I didn't really get anything frame worthy. At the end of the day, I pushed Charlotte around in her stroller a bit while everyone finished munching on cider and doughnuts to see if I could get her to take a snooze. I was pushing her on an out-of-the-way area of bumpy grass (her favorite) when I spotted a row of trees with the sunlight just peeking over and some weathered apple crates.

I brought Chase over, had him perch on a crate, and thought to give him one of the apples we'd bought to keep little hands busy. This was my first time getting pictures of a three year old, definitely a challenge! We got a few cute shots though, I think these are pretty adorable.





The next day, I sat down to edit Chase's pictures (they were dark, and needed some lightening, brightening, etc). Afterwards, I digital-scrapbooked the rest of the Orchard pictures. (I got the initial idea to start the digital scrapbook here.) Then I pulled up some older pictures of Charlotte for a tiny bit of editing and ended up going on a full blown digital scrapbooking binge. Thank you to my wonderful husband, who cooked and cleaned while I spent all day organizing memories.

It was about time I finished a page like this...


I can hardly wait for her first birthday when I'll get the first book printed. I love me some memories.

September 28, 2011

tic toc, tic toc.

I received an e-mail from Shutterfly in my inbox the other day that gave me a coupon code for 50 free 4x6 prints. The deal only lasted through today, so I decided to take a quick second to pick out a few newer shots of Charlotte to order. Color me surprised when my "September" folder contained a measly two photos. Pathetic. Time has gotten away from me, as usual.

Saying I've been logging a lot of work hours lately is the understatement of the century. I've been doing what little work related stuff I can do during the day, and really getting down to business at night when Ryan comes home. I've been working as late as 4 am or just not going to bed at all. Definitely not good physically or mentally, but worth the neccesary sacrifice every now and again to be able to spend everyday with my little lady.

I still have a mountain of work to accomplish by Friday, but I decided to take two seconds to snap some current pictures. Two seconds turned into an hour or so, but who's counting. I will just put an extra pot of coffee on tonight while I make up for it.


We may or may not have matching Ugg boots now.

This hat came with mittens. The temperature hasn't really dipped below the 60's, but she's wore it a few times anyways. Sometimes the wind is chilly..umm. or it's cold in the shade.

I tried to take a few pictures inside with random fabric scraps for a background. Next time I will definitely do this earlier in the day when there is more sunlight. The black & white picture turned out okay...
...but the pictures I tried to take with a pumpkin turned out pretty grainy.
Oh well, better than nothing! I will definitely have a lot of photo op's soon with real pumpkins, too.

I'm glad I took some time out of my day to grab these photos. Everyone always says "it goes by so fast", and wow.. yes times a million. Everyday brings something new. Charlotte is full-fledged crawling, pulling up onto her knees and into e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. It seems like it happened overnight. She is learning how to wave and feed herself, too(the latter isn't going so hot thus far- everything she grabs goes into her mouth except for food- go figure).

It is ridiculously hard these days to try and find balance. I've discovered that I cannot "do it all" (If anyone has in fact figured out how to "do it all", give me a jingle). I don't want to miss any of her milestones, but I also have work and household obligations. It's also a neccesary to set aside time for a little bit of leisure too- and I like to spend time with friends and family as often as I can.

Something has always got to give. Right now it's our house. It looks like a mix between hoarders and the aftermath of a tornado. We have a pile of laundry on top of our dining room table that almost touches the chandelier (hey, it's clean atleast)! I don't even want to talk about what the inside of my shower looks like.

I wish I could be super mom, but I need to remember that I'm doing the best I can with what I've got.

There are only so many things I can try to juggle at once, and impromptu photo shoots definitely rank much higher than a mountain of clothes that need folding anways.

August 30, 2011

Time Flies.

Labor and delivery was such a blur. There are so many new, monumental and life changing things happening so fast that it’s hard to recall everything with certain clarity. There are only a few sharp details that stick out in my mind.

I remember waking up and not being sure if my pains were really labor. I also remember not being able to breathe by the time we were taking our icy car ride to the hospital and saying “I’M SURE I’M SURE I’M SURE!”

I remember being admitted and walking into my room. It’s such an emotional thing to see the tiny little bed in the corner. It’s an awe inspiring thing to think, that is where my baby will lay. This baby that I’ve carried for nine long months that I’ve never met.

It seems like just yesterday I saw my baby’s cute little pink face for the first time. It’s cliché, but I remember thinking that she was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen.


When they took her from me, Ryan stood by her the entire time she got checked out and held her tiny hand. As soon as I started to talk, she snapped her head my way. She knew her mama.

I remember being excitedly nervous to take her home. We gingerly snapped her into her car seat that seemed to engulf her. Ryan drove all of about fourteen miles an hour on the way home.


Even though it seems like she has been a part of our family forever, I cannot believe six months has already passed. So much changes in that span of time- I can barely remember the tiny newborn baby we first brought home. They are such blank slates, ready to blossom into their own little being.

In the last half year, Charlotte has gone from a small, sleepy bundle…


…to a lively little thing with such a personality.

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She’s moving like crazy. She’s been rolling like a champ since three months and has been army crawling since just past five. She is on a mission to get mobile. We’ve had to baby proof a little early on for our mischievous little thing… one of her favorite things to go after seems to be electrical cords. Yikes. This one’s gonna give us a run for our money.

Another thing she loves to go after is our dog, Lola. Charlotte is enthralled by dogs, big and small. She loves nothing more than getting a sloppy, wet doggie kiss right on the face. She will diligently inch across the room to get to Lola to pat and pet her.

Charlotte is a joyful little girl and loves to smile. I could cajole a purposeful smile when she was only a few weeks old. She loves to laugh too- and no one can make her laugh harder than her daddy. Charlotte has started to get her bottom two teeth the last few days. Ryan says he is going to miss her gummy grin.

It’s amazing to see her start to recognize people, too. My favorite part of the day during the week is when Ryan gets home from work. I love looking at Charlotte and watching her eyes when she realizes daddy is home. You can literally see the second when it clicks and the excitement starts to flicker. She loves when daddy plays toys with her after work. She likes to touch his scratchy beard, too.

Charlotte has frequent play dates with her friend, Nathan, who is only a handful of days older. He is a cutie and is growing so fast just like Charlotte.


Nathan’s mom Sara and I decided to have a little six month birthday celebration. Time passes so quickly- why not?

We got together (daddies too!) and had a delish dinner of hamburgers, potato packets, fresh fruit and sweet corn. Sara had gotten a mix of boy and girl party décor, princesses and cars, along with Elmo birthday hats.

Here are the party hat adorned kiddos, a little bewildered at what was going on.


I cannot believe they left the hats on!

I was pretty excited about the cake I made…



…but I was bummed about the big chocolaty mess in the middle. It was originally supposed to look like this...


...but the “6 mos” melted within minutes of leaving for Sara & David’s. Ya win some ya lose some!

After dinner, I took a few pictures of the kids playing toys in the backyard. They are super blurry and not great quality (I’m definitely not ready to shoot full on manual, case and point) but just seeing them interact was priceless. How special is it that they can say they’ve known each other almost forever? It was really nice to celebrate such a fleeting moment.



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I always knew I wanted to be a mother, but I never anticipated just how much I would enjoy it. Seeing how quickly my little girl is growing has definitely made me see the appeal of having more than one kid. I cannot imagine only going through these stages once. Funny how I never thought that during the third trimester, or post-partum recovery. Thank you ubiquitous mommy amnesia for giving me my rose colored glasses back.

August 24, 2011

more peas pwease!

The first time I bought Charlotte baby food was an exciting experience. I looked at all the colorful glass jars on the shelf at the store picking and choosing all the things that might taste good to her. Carrots? Check. Bananas? Check. Sweet Potatoes? Check. Turkey Dinner? Blech, okay, not turkey dinner...there is something disturbing about pureed meat... but you get the idea. It was a novelty.

Looking at each individual jar only being seventy some odd cents didn't seem that bad. I usually can come up with more than that just by digging at the bottom of my purse for rogue coins that escaped my wallet. I guess I didn't stop and do the math to realize that she'd be eating three jars a day. And man, we'd have to feed her like, everyday. Not just when it was fun to watch her smear apples in her hair. That's a lot of rogue coins to find.

I planned on making some baby food before Charlotte was even born, if anything just for the nutritional benefits. I guess jars are heated to some ridiculously high temperature in the canning and preserving process and a lot of vitamins and minerals are lost. I also like to cook, and was hoping I could come up with some good concoctions that might be a little more adventurous than what you see at the store. (How come there is never any avocado baby food?)Lately I've also been motivated to get on the homemade baby food train to ease the hurt on my wallet.

Today I boiled some peas and gave them a spin through our food processor with a little of the cooking water. I spooned the pea puree into washed baby food jars and stuck all but one in the freezer. I gave the reserved jar to my little taste tester.

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She was pleased. She was kind of fascinated with the texture too, since it wasn't completely smooth. She took it upon herself to grab the spoon and mash her hands all over the tray when she got bored of eating.

That's okay, I could never get mad at this face.

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Charlotte deemed the peas a success, so I am going to try and make time to cook up baby food more often. I need to put aside a whole day to make several batches of different things so my kitchen doesn't look like this just for cooking up one measly bag of peas.

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I think I only paid a couple dollars for my bag of peas, and I was able to make 11 servings. I have been paying $.77 per jar, so this will save me almost seven bucks. According to my math, my savings should be able to translate quite quickly to purchasing Charlotte the mini Ugg boots I've been eyeing. You know, the necessities.

August 11, 2011

I heart Photoshop.

Well, my bathroom still isn't all the way done...
...but I've been messing around with Photoshop in the mean time. I was seriously intimidated when I opened this program up for the first time, but I've been learning how to use it little by little.

Using this tutorial and this tutorial, I shot and edited these pictures today:

Original Picture 1

Edited Picture 1

Original Picture 2

Edited Picture 2

Soo.. her eyes look a little creepy in the first edited pic, but I still haven't learned how to dial down some of the effects. These pictures were shot inside, shockingly enough (I suck at inside pictures) on my couch that was draped with a black sheet. I tried a pink sheet, but it looked ridiculous when I tried to even out the background, kind of like she was glowing off it like a little baby Jesus. Yikes.

August 03, 2011

I live in a disaster.

We moved at the beginning of July, and I still can barely walk through our new place. My grandparents used to live here, so we are actually living with two sets of belongings since we are still weeding through their things. Not. Fun.

We also need to redecorate every single room. So far, the only space we have really started on is the kitchen, and it's definitely a work in progress (picture all new paint & some accessories, but no cupboard doors. Ryan, seriously, paint the cupboard doors already).

Since the chaos is driving me nuts, I've decided to start redecorating our main bathroom this weekend since it's the only other room we've successfully emptied. This bath will be used by guests, but will primarily be Charlotte's, so I want it to be sophisticated but still a little fun.

This is what I'm working with right now. Shoot me.

before2 before1

My inspiration are these two paintings I scored at an art fair.


Hello, I'm 26 and I love mermaids.

I'm going to paint the trim and vanity white and the walls this gorgeous color:


I have a problem with the color turquoise, it's kind of an obsession.

I'm ripping that weird cabinet/mirror off the wall and replacing it with a light fixture that I kind of think looks nautical, and this old Ikea mirror I have floating around. I'm not sure if the Ikea mirror will work, but I'm going to give it a whirl.


For the vanity, I have a capiz soap dispenser I got eons ago at Target. I don't have a picture, because I have no idea which random pile of boxes it's in, but it is similar to this style:


I will post pictures when I finish, whenever that may be. I would like to get it all done this weekend, but I have a history of unrealistic time lines. I totally thought we were going to finish our kitchen in one weekend. Here we are a month later, and it's still not done. The cupboard doors, Ryan. The cupboard doors. I know you're reading this.

July 25, 2011


I just bought a Nikon D3000 in June and I'm trying to figure out how to use it in my spare time. Since I have so much of that, in between dishes, laundry, baby-wrangling and doing appraisals.

I figured a nice camera was a pretty good investment after having my first baby, not just to capture everyday happenings but also to shoot something worthy of framing and hanging on my wall. I was super excited when my husband bought it for me. Photography studios that don't want an arm and a leg kind of underwhelmed me; they all seem to have snazzy cameras, but with someone that appears to have zero experience... I figured I couldn't do any worse. I also love the added bonus of being able to capture moments spontaneously, at any location.

I've been able to capture a few cute shots, but I usually have to take a billion to find those diamonds in the rough. I've only learned a teensy, tiny, itty-bit about photography so far- there is so much I want to explore. I would like to stick mostly to natural light photography, but I'm open to learning flash in some applications.

I'm going to post pictures on here for friends and family as an extension from facebook. Feel free to give me any critiques, tips or ideas!

Here are some pictures I took of my baby girl, Charlotte, last month. Look at that face, she made these pictures reletively easy- even for a novice like me. I'm not a bit partial :)



Although they sometimes turn out like this...

she's like, "mom, quit putting that huge black box in my face!"

But then we're back to this. I backed up a bit to catch some flowers in the background that I'd just noticed. I'm trying to be mindful of not only what I'm focusing on, but what's in the background as well.


I gave her one of the flowers as a prop, improving. Umm... it was a good idea in theory.


Everything, in the mouth.

I changed my angle next. I love the contrast between the soft fur and the weathered deck.




I took these pictures in the evening, when the sun wasn't as harsh. If I remember right, it was even a little overcast. I have had pretty good luck with evening shots so far. The next thing I would like to conquer is being able to take photos in any type of light, and even be able to use the brightness to my advantage. If you've had success doing this, please give me a few pointers!