2.27.2015

Friday Five

1 // I have a new nephew!  Levi Jason was born Tuesday afternoon and I, as the proud auntie, immediately went on a shopping spree for cute baby stuff to send him as a birthday present.  He's a handsome little man (as expected) but we're refraining from too many internet pictures at this point.  So I'll show you some of the cute stuff I bought for him instead. :)

H&M baby clothes
H&M


2 // Molly has now hit the 6-week mark since her vet discovered she had lymphoma.  She's officially passed the initial 2-5 week prognosis!  I knew that little piggy wouldn't give in easily.  She still has a pretty hearty appetite, looks generally healthy (clear eyes, shiny full coat), and likes to come out to play with her toys and cuddle on the couch.  The cancerous lymph nodes are significantly larger, though, and they're slowing down her mobility just a bit.  She has a little bit of a waddle to her walk and when she tries to run she does this funny little bunny-hop thing.  On the other hand, she actually wants to run and play so I'm taking that as a good sign that she's not actually in any pain.  The downside to her hearty appetite/limited mobility is that she's gained a little bit of weight recently but I'm not about to put her on a diet at this point.

3 // We're tentatively planning a babymoon for some time in the next month or two and right now, we're between Chicago and Maui.  I know that seems like a no-brainer for some but Chicago has a special place in my heart and I still have a few friends that live there, too, so the decision is a tough one.  (Btw, when did 'babymoons' become a thing anyway?)

Chicago / Maui


4 // We have dinner plans with friends this weekend and it's quite possibly the last time I'll hang out with many of them sans bebe.  Needless to say, I'm super excited.  And a little bit sad/nostalgic even though bebe isn't actually here yet.

5 // And speaking of things to be excited about, I'm already looking forward to Lent being over and we're only about 10 days into it.  The no-sugar thing has been tough but I just realized something making it all the more difficult.  I completely forgot spring is the time for my all-time favorite seasonal candy - the Reece's peanut butter egg!  I'm going to eat about 50 million of them come Easter Sunday.  Okay, maybe not 50 million, but at least a solid dozen.  That's reasonable, right?



PS - I totally saw the dress and white and gold.  Still do.

Happy weekend!
xo

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2.25.2015

Wise Words | A Year Ago



As I sit here nearly six months pregnant with a mini-gymnast doing acrobats in my belly (or maybe he/she is having a wild dance party?), I can't help but think how true this is.  A year ago, my focus was on how I was going to shoot the impending 26 weddings on my calendar and somehow still find time for a vacation.  Now, I'm still thinking about all my upcoming weddings and *hopefully* finding time for a vacation, but thoughts of raising a little human, keeping him/her healthy and happy, and somehow also still teaching them how to be a productive and contributing member of society seem to be taking up the most brain space.  It'll be interesting to see just how different things are this time next year, when that mini-gymnast is a full-fledged 8-9 months old kid!

Are you where you thought you'd be a year ago?  Anything different you didn't expect?

xo

Image

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2.24.2015

Rachel & Kyle | A Lands End Engagement Session

engagement photos at lands endGolden sunlight and clear blue skies, two people smitten with each other, and two fluffy pups smitten with the ocean.  It's the perfect recipe for a totally fun and sweet engagement session!  Rachel and Kyle chose Lands End and Ocean Beach for their engagement photos, two of their favorite locations for hiking and spending time with their sweet little pups.  We started off hiking through the greenery and wildflowers and chatting about wedding plans, honeymoon adventures, and their favorite places in San Francisco.  Engagement sessions are one of my favorite types of sessions to shoot because it often feels like we're just hanging out and getting to know each other, while coincidentally taking random photos in beautiful locations.  It inevitably helps things go more smoothly on the wedding day, both for me and for the couple, because we're already comfortable with each other and know exactly what to expect.  And this session with Rachel and Kyle felt exactly like that - a few new friends hanging out together and taking in the lovely views.


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2.20.2015

Friday Five

Trying something a little different this week with five things on Friday. :)

1 // Last weekend, we celebrated my niece's first birthday with a Frozen/Valentine's Day party at the park.  She's the sweetest, cutest, happiest little girl and it was awesome to spend a sunny afternoon with her, her big sis (my adorable goddaughter!), and the rest of the family.  As stressed as I am about all things baby, I'm really glad this little one will have cousins close in age to hang out with.

first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park
first birthday party at the park


2 // And speaking of cousins, I just found out my sister, who is also pregnant, is being induced next Tuesday!  She has preeclampsia so her docs feel early induction is the best option.  I'm a little worried for her and hoping everything goes okay, but it's exciting to know my little nephew Levi will be here in just a few days!  So many babies in my life right now...

3 // This no-added-sugar thing has been super tricky, and it's only Day 3.  I know I jokingly said sugar is my crack, but that is a legit analogy.  I've even had withdrawal symptoms - headaches, low energy, moodiness.  Kickin' a bad habit ain't easy, folks.

4 // Gia has been super cuddly lately and while I'd like to think it's because she wants to snuggle with me, I think it's really Molly she wants to be close to.  She used to hate being held or sitting on my lap but on Valentine's Day, she randomly decided it's actually not so bad.  When I hold her by herself, she still doesn't fully relax but when Molly is on my lap, too, she crawls off her pillow and snuggles up with both of us.  And normally Molly is a jealous little piggy and doesn't like me petting them both at the same time, but lately she's been perfectly happy letting Gia snuggle while I hold them.  As a result, Gia's been getting a little more cuddly every day and I love it.

guinea pigs cuddling on lap


5 //  We're planning to see Hot Tub Time Machine 2 this weekend.  I know what you're thinking - "It looks so dumb and with all the Oscar-nominated movies still in theaters, isn't there a better use of your time??"  Maybe.  But I thought the same thing about the first one, then decided late one night to watch it on TV and it has become one of my favorite comedies ever.  The sequel looks equally dumb so I'm hoping it turns out to be just as surprisingly enjoyable as the first.

xo

What are your plans for the weekend?

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2.18.2015

Je Promets...

french macarons

It's that time of year again.  Many of you know yesterday was Mardi Gras.  Fat Tuesday.  A day for indulgence and excess.  And for the Catholics out there, whether lapsed or practicing, today is another big day.  Ash Wednesday.  A day of deprivation and motivation.

I do not really consider myself a practicing Catholic.  I basically only go to church for weddings and funerals.  And though I think Pope Francis has been great for moving the church forward, I'm still not fully on board with all of its policies.  But Lent ... oh Lent.  I just can't shake the firm grip of Lent.  I give up something around this time every year, from caffeine to meat to sweets to laziness and I have to say, by the end of it, I usually feel pretty good about myself.  New Year's resolutions never really appealed to me much - 365 days is a lot of commitment.  But 40 days?  40 days I can do.  Whether it's the shorter timeframe or the lifelong Catholic guilt, I'm not entirely sure, but I can commit to doing or not doing something for 40 days.  It's the only time of year I actually have any will power, it seems.

This year, I'm really pushing myself for the challenge.  My Lenten promise is twofold for 2015: no added sugar and walk at least 10,000 steps a day for a minimum 5 days a week.  Honestly, between the two, the added sugar is going to be the hardest.  Sugar is my crack.  In the past, I've given up sweets and desserts but I've never done the full monty and cut out all added sugar.  I'm allowing honey for tea and oatmeal but that's it.  No cookies, cakes, chocolate, or ice cream, obviously, but also no fruit-flavored yogurts or processed foods with added sugars either (among other things).  This is some next-level shizz for sugar deprivation, people.  I'll be reading a lot of labels over the next 40 days so I'm trying to look at it as an educational experience, too.

So I don't drive myself entirely nutso in this Lenten experiment, I'm following the American Heart Association's guidelines for natural vs. added sugars.  Natural sugars are still okay - so I can have my daily fruits, fruit smoothies (with unsweetened almond milk or coconut water) and glass of milk.  And I fully realize that cutting out every last grain of added sugar might make this the Impossible Challenge considering it's in basically all the things (I still need ketchup with my fries!) but, generally speaking, Nature's Sweetest Crack is off limits until Easter Sunday.

The 10,000 steps will also be a challenge but a slightly more manageable one.  According to my handy-dandy FitBit, I average about 5,000 steps a day.  I used to walk everywhere all the time but now that I work from home, my walking has decreased dramatically.  I mean, my commute is from the bed to the desk, literally one room over.  Even on days when I work out for half an hour or more, I still don't necessarily hit 10,000 steps so I'll really have to make an effort to get up and move over the next few weeks.  It's not quite my 40 Days of Fitness challenge from previous years because, let's be honest, I'm totally going to count the steps added while walking around Target to do some shopping, but it's still a pro-active promise rather than just deprivation based.  Again, it's another education opportunity - just how much do I have to move to meet the minimum steps recommended for good health?

When I first formed these ideas, they seemed so simple and doing two Lenten promises seemed like a piece of cake (mmm.... cake....) but now that I write it out, I'm a little scurred!  (Though I am looking forward to Easter Sunday when I can just sit on my tush and eat desserts all the live-long day.)  Wish me luck, lovelies - and wish The Husband luck, too.  I might turn into a she-devil during the first bit of sugar detox and he's giving up caffeine and alcohol so things might get a little testy around here in the next few days...

xo

Did you give up anything for Lent?  Want to join me in either challenge?  We can keep each other motivated!

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2.16.2015

Marika & Alex | Sunny Summer Wedding in the Vineyards

Happy belated Valentine's Day, lovelies.  Hope you all had a great time celebrating!  We had my niece's first birthday party on Saturday, so we celebrated by spending time loving on family (and cuddling with the guinea pigs of course).  I have some pretty cute pics from the party to share with you soon but first, a little more love of the romantic type.  Marika & Alex's wedding.

wedding at crane melon barn
The anticipation and excitement was palpable when I arrived at the hotel that morning.  Marika, her mom, and a few of her favorite ladies were getting ready for their walk down the aisle.  With the last ribbon tied and the veil in place, we headed over to Crane Melon Barn, where Alex awaited his bride with a little bit of anticipation and excitement of his own.  Though the day was a bit warm with the cloudless sky and afternoon sun, it turned out to be perfect in the shaded grove reserved for the ceremony.


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2.11.2015

Marika & Alex | Love in the Redwoods

Marika & Alex wanted a casual, laid back, fun engagement session (who doesn't, right?) so we laced up our best hiking shoes and headed out to Muir Woods.  We traipsed through vines and fallen branches along the trail, stopping for photo breaks here and there.  You'll notice Marika & Alex basically never stopped smiling the whole time we were together.  That wasn't because of any coaching by me - they were and are just that happy to be in each other's company.  There were surprisingly few people out on the trail that evening, which left us often feeling like were the only souls in the forest.  It made for a peaceful hike, and helped put them even more at ease in front of the camera, too.

The sun was quickly descending but we managed to find little pockets of it peeking through the massive limbs and trunks of the surrounding redwoods.  All three of us were in awe of those giant trees.  Aren't they amazing?  The perfect backdrop for a love like theirs - strong, unyielding, long-lasting, and deeper than you could ever express with words alone.

engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woodsengagement photos in muir woods
engagement photos in muir woods

engagement photos in muir woods




I'll be sharing more from their sun-drenched vineyard wedding soon so stayed tuned!

xo

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2.10.2015

Molly & Patrick | Engagement at Muir Beach Overlook

As I was going through my sessions from 2014, I realized I shared Molly & Patrick's lovely wedding at Stable Cafe not too long ago, but I never shared their engagement session!  I can't believe it slipped my mind because it was one of my favorites of last spring.  We kept it fairly simple and stayed at one location - Muir Beach Overlook in Marin.  We started off exploring the surrounding wooded areas and the overlook itself, before settling in for a little picnic at sunset.  The two warned me ahead of time that they weren't very comfortable in front of the camera (though you'd never guess it from their photos!) so Molly packed their favorite cheeses, nuts, and some champagne for the picnic.  It made the session feel even more relaxed for them because it gave them the chance to do something they'd normally do anyway, whether or not there was a camera nearby.  I love how easy and natural the photos turned out and how they show a little glimpse into what they're really like as a couple.  We lucked out with a clear, fog-free evening, too, and were able to catch the most beautiful sunset before calling it a day.

engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook
engagement photos at muir beach overlook


xo

PS - Since it's Valentine's week, I have a few more engagement sessions and weddings lined up to share with you!  Nothing too shmoopy, of course.  Just real, genuine, you're-my-favorite-person-ever love. :)

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2.09.2015

Non-Shmoopy Valentine's Cards

I've never really been into Valentine's Day.  I'm not a shmoopy sentimental type of gal and Valentine's Day is all about the shmoopy.  Sometimes we'll go out to dinner, but not always.  In fact, this year we're celebrating by going to my niece's 1st birthday party - not Valentines-y at all.  But I do think it's important to show the one you love that you care about them, so I scoured Etsy and found some cute non-overly-sentimental Valentine's Day cards that I think anyone would appreciate, shmoopy or not.  Enjoy!

etsy valentines day cards


1. You're Still Okay
2. We Go Together Like Kanye & Kanye
3. Thanks For Loving Me Even When I Don't Shave My Legs
4. Screw Valentine's Day. Fat Babies Carrying Bows & Arrows Are Creepy Anyway.
5. You Batter Be My Valentine
6. I'm Only In This For Your Cute Butt. Obviously.
7. I Love Sitting Mute On The Sofa With You

xo

Are you into Valentine's Day?  How do you like to celebrate?

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2.05.2015

Molly's 4th Gotcha Day

guinea pig with blueberry

Four years ago today, The Husband (then The Boyfriend) and I made a trip to our local pet store with every intention of getting a little hamster.  At the time, I was living alone and had a lease that specifically prohibited cats and dogs but said nothing of any other kid of pet.  My roommate in law school had a little hamster and it was pretty darn cute and entertaining so, I thought, why not get one to keep me company in my lonely little apartment?  I had no experience actually owning hamsters myself but it seemed like a good idea, so off we went.

When we arrived, I quickly noticed all the little hamsters were sleeping.  I could barely make out their faces as they huddled together in furry little masses snoozing the day away.  "They're nocturnal," the clerk informed us.  "They're mainly active at night."  I was immediately discouraged.  On the one hand, I'd be at work most of the day so it wasn't that big a deal, but on the other hand, I wanted a pet I could actually interact with.  A pet that would be more than just a furry roommate.  One that would be my little buddy, my companion.

"Have you thought about a guinea pig?  We have some that just came in this morning from a local shelter available for adoption."  The clerk just happened to have two guinea pigs herself and she was quite the piggy advocate.

"Aren't they just bigger versions of hamsters?" I naively asked.  Not at all!  The clerk quickly informed me that guinea pigs are quite smart -about the same intelligence as a cat- and can learn their name, do tricks, even be house trained so they can roam freely around your house if you want them to.  Hmm... That sounded a lot more like what I had in mind for a pet.  She took me to the little cage with the four baby guineas in from a local guinea pig rescue.  They were all females, and all available for adoption.  Three of the four scampered off and hid in their cardboard tube as we approached but one brave little guinea pig did not.  This grayish-brown little cutie with the white spike of hair came closer to the edge of the cage, just as curious about us as we were about her.

brown gray crested baby guinea pig
Molly, right after we first brought her home


It was love at first sight.

I asked lots more questions about guinea pigs.  How big do they get?  What do they eat?  What kind of cage should they have?  The clerk directed me to a book called Your Happy Healthy Guinea Pig and suggested I consider buying it if I was going to adopt one of those little babies.  "I want that one with the spiky white hair."

We filled our basket with bedding, food, chew toys, treats, hay, and an igloo for her to sleep in.  The last step was getting the little piggy herself out and ready to go.  As soon as the clerk handed her to me, she started squeaking, even purring a bit as I pet her.  I was totally smitten.  How could you not be, with that cute little face?

On the way back to the car, The Husband asked what we should name her.  I knew right away.  You see, the night before this trip, I'd had a dream that I adopted a new pet.  I was at dinner with friends, telling them all about this new little addition to my life.  How smart she was, the tricks she learned, how easy she was to house train, how much personality she had, how she followed me around the apartment and cuddled in my lap.  The pet wasn't actually in the dream, just me talking about her with friends, but I remembered the name I used when I talked about her.  Molly.  Naturally when I awoke, I assumed it was a dog that I adopted.  What other kind of pet would be house trained, do tricks, follow you around the house, and cuddle in your lap?

A guinea pig, actually.  That's what kind.  Molly was meant to be mine before I even met her and she's made the last four years more love-filled and joyful than I ever imagined a 3-pound rodent was capable of.  I'm so thankful we made the trip to the pet store that day, that those guinea pig babies just happened to be in that morning, and that we met a sweet clerk who just happened to be a guinea pig ambassador.  We cherish every moment we have with Molly and look forward to spoiling her even more than usual today.

Happy four years, my little piggy-poo!

gray and white crested guinea pig
Molly, this morning.  I can't believe she used to fit in one hand!


xo

PS - Molly is still doing well despite her lymphoma.  She continues to play with all her favorite toys and enjoy her favorite treats, but the lumps in her neck and groin area are definitely getting larger.  It's been three weeks since the vet discovered the tumors, so she's already surpassed the minimum two-week survival rate the vet gave her.  I'm still holding out hope she'll defy the odds and be with us for at least another month or two, if not longer.

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