Sunday, April 24, 2011

Personal | Happy Easter!

I know I've been failing at my blogging goals (again) this month. But the fact that I blog significantly more, now, than I did at this point a year ago is still progress in my mind...

But, what I really came here to say was Happy Easter, my friends! I truly hope each of you has enjoyed a beautiful, blessed day with loved ones - reflecting on and cherishing, most of all, the love and salvation that comes from a risen, ALIVE Savior. I'm grateful that today, and every day, I'm made worthy in the sight of the Lord because of what was accomplished on the cross. And furthermore, what was made complete by the resurrection. What a beautiful cause for celebration!

I'm grateful, as well, for this first Easter spent with my husband! (Quick self-portrait taken before church this morning - don't mind the hair eating my face, or Aaron's skeptical look. Both are pretty common...)


AND grateful for family-away-from-family (we love you Shanks/Haggards! :)

I missed seeing my own family today, but I'm happy knowing I get to see them this weekend and am mostly just amazed by all the many ways God loves and blesses me. May YOU all feel loved and blessed, as well!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Personal | Teapots, Flowers, & Happy Bridal Showers

Even though I've lived in Richmond for over 5 months, now, I still often feel like "the new girl in town". Not in a bad way, but in the sense that I'm still adjusting to my surroundings and getting to know people. And I feel like that's probably perfectly reasonable and normal. I mean, 5 months isn't really that long, after all. But because of that, one of the things that I've looked for and put intentional effort into finding is opportunities to hang out with and get to know other ladies in the area. For those of you who know me, you know that I love people and I really value making new friends, and deepening relationships with current friends. So, when I got asked a couple months ago to work with two ladies I hadn't yet met to head up the decorations for the bridal shower of a friend (and my first bride of 2011! :), I quickly volunteered. Especially when I found out the theme was a "vintage tea party". Could there BE a better combination than making new friends AND creating a pretty environment based on a theme that was perfectly up my ally? I think not.

So, throughout March I worked with two fabulous ladies - Gail (who organized the entire shower) and Anna (who was my decorating partner-in-crime) to pull together this envisioned theme, culminating in what I'd say was one very successful (and pretty!) bridal shower on March 26th. It was fun to put my creative energies into a new facet and to get to know both Gail and Anna who are most definitely as amazing as I'd heard they were. :) Plus, it was really fun to get to do something for Kari as a friend, before getting to take on the role of her wedding photographer. (Both roles are pretty equally awesome, and I'm so grateful to be her friend AND to be entrusted with documenting her day. I can't wait!)

Without further ado, here are some of the pretties of the day. :)

We created the entrance spot with this cool hutch (that Kari & her fiance Peter already had!) and lots of random stuff compiled from me, Anna, Kari & Peter's moms, and other generous friends.


One of the main things we wanted to incorporate in the "vintage" aspect were photos from Kari & Peter's own families. So, this awesome large portrait is Kari's mom. How cool is that? Every bride should have something awesome like that for their daughters to one day admire. :)









We then used these black dividers to lead the way down the hallway to where the shower was taking place.


And even had Peter's grandmother's dress on display!


The table-top decor, probably my favorite, was made up of a different hat box, teapot, and pair of gloves on each table.


Accompanied by a different set of China (belonging to someone in either Peter or Kari's family) on each table. I love the way it all looked elegant and flowed wonderfully, while being eclectic.


(Btw, it was super fun to get to put some of my own favorite teapots to use....the green, brown, and ivory floral ones. And I really love the turquoise one that Anna brought, too. I was so tempted to swipe it, afterwards... ;)






Also on each table, there were two sets of Scrabble pieces, and the table members had to work together to spell as many wedding-related words as possible. Kari then chose the word board she liked best, in the end. It was such a cute/fun idea that I can take no credit for. MaryAnn, another friend, added that touch.



The meal was a "light lunch" and all of the beautiful (and delicious!) food was prepared by the groom's super talented sister Anna and their mom, Liz.




Along the walls we strung wedding/couple shots from parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles of both Kari & Peter, and a few shots of them, as well. There were so many great options to choose from! I love how cool vintage wedding photos are, and how that coolness multiplies even more when they're actual family photos.




We also had some tulips sitting on a table near where Kari would open gifts because her dad has nicknamed her Tulip for a long time, and it's SO fun to be able to work in meaning like that. (Gail was brilliant with that one!)


It was such a fun time, and I loved seeing Kari encouraged, blessed and supported as she heads into this most exciting and incredible phase of life.


(And I also love this shot of Kari's grandma, and Peter's grandma, apparently sharing comments while Kari opened gifts :)


So, there you have it! I'm so happy that I got to help with it, and I'm beyond excited for Peter & Kari's wedding on April 23rd!

It's such a blessing to have friends here in Richmond, and I'm so happy that Gail and Anna are both new ones, now, thanks to collaborating together last month. :) Hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse of the lovely afternoon!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Personal | On Being 25

Well, another year has officially come and gone, and as of Friday, April 8th, I am now officially older. As in...25 years, altogether. Quarter of a century. 75 years from being 100....etc.

This is certainly one of life's milestone ages, and a pretty happy one at that. I'm not thinking about the fact that I'm only 5 years away from being 30, or that I'm "getting old". On the contrary, I feel like more of a legitimate adult and pretty much in the prime of life. Though it's still weird to look at the number and mentally connect it to how old I am. But, that's normal. I still feel 16, inwardly, and not old enough to be married, owning my own business...let alone even thinking about being a PARENT in the next couple of years. Time goes by quickly, and it's crazy to see how far I've come and to even TRY to understand how I've gotten to where I am today. But that's what's awesome about living one day at a time - it eventually all adds up to this crazy cool journey that you may not be able to track on a daily basis, but when looking back over a year or several years, you see the incredible path that God was paving for you, one step at a time. And how living it out really DOES take you places, in the long run.

I can't wait to see where the next 5...10...and 25+ years will take me! But before I get too far ahead of myself with all that, let me tell you about the perfectly wonderful ways I was able to celebrate turning 25 this past weekend.

I'm a girl who gets the most pleasure in life out of small, thoughtful gestures. Things that show me I was on your mind while you were planning your surprise, or thoughtfully writing a note, or intently hand-crafting a random silly item because we once talked and laughed about it. Sure, I love getting gifts, but not as much as quality time with a loved one or a sentimental note from a friend. And my darling husband knows me so perfectly that he couldn't have blessed me more wonderfully or made me feel more special and blessed on my birthday.

The day began with Aaron getting up early to "go to the gym" - which he HAS done a time or two, though generally he goes in the evenings - so I said goodbye half-asleep and rolled back over to continue enjoying my slumber. About an hour later (when he would normally be waking up) I heard the bedroom door open again and in my still half-asleep state I rolled over and saw him walking towards me with a vase of beautiful white, yellow and purple Springy flowers. I instantly woke all the way up and was trying to recover from the sweet surprise when he asked me what kind of tea he could make me, what kind of bagel I'd like and that he'd momentarily return with breakfast in bed for me. I sat there stunned and giddy, and knew that even if nothing else wonderful happened the entire day, that my birthday was made perfect by those sweet surprises. (He proceeded to sit and eat breakfast with me for a while until he had to head to work - which was the best I could have asked for. Surprises + quality time = major win in my book. :)

My beeeautiful flowers:


My rather delicious breakfast (that also was lunch, because I couldn't eat it all in one sitting)


The rest of my morning was spent being wonderfully bombarded with phone call after phone call from my family members and in-laws. It was so lovely to hear all of their voices and know I was being thought of. And for good measure I painted my nails a favorite color that afternoon before I went and got my free Starbucks drink, bought a few soon-to-be-crafted items from Michael's and some plates from Pier One to add to my wall/plate collection (which you'll see in a soon-to-come post!). On top of those fun things, I couldn't help but notice and appreciate how I got an amazing parking spot every place that I went AND how traffic magically cleared up each time I was at a long or tricky intersection. It's like God chose to give me a few extra little blessings that only added to making my day beautiful in all ways.

In addition to the perfect day, my husband ALSO pulled together a little surprise party for me Saturday evening! It included that much more happiness, fellowship, favorite food & drinks and laughter. What more could I ask for? I have a husband, family and friends I truly don't deserve, but am blessed by continually!

Thank you to EVERYONE who added something - whether in person, on the phone, via text, Facebook or Twitter - to my special day. You were each treasured as I pondered how I could possibly be as blessed as I am. :)

Here's to being 25! (This is what it looks like on me... ;)


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Goals | April

Well, now that we're nearly a week into April, I figured it's about time I get my post up about this month's goals, as well as updating about March. Don't you think? Though, perhaps part of the delay has been that my mind is a little distracted this week with the happiness of today marking 5 months of marriage to my incredible husband and just 2 days from me turning 25! Where has all the time gone, people?! It's just crazy. But in a wonderful way. :)

At any rate, back to the subject of goals! While I doubt that any of you have been waiting with baited breath to see how successful I was in March, I hope you'll at least find it encouraging/interesting to see how someone else does when it comes to setting goals and attempting to achieve them. I'm no superwoman, and thus you won't see this list entirely checked off, but I definitely found that it helped keep me driven and focused last month to know that I had specific things I was aiming to accomplish on a specific timeline. So, here are the results! Accomplished things are written in bold, and unaccomplished things in plain text.

  • Workout 4 times a week (the only exception was the week of vacation in FL, but I don't think that should count)
  • Research "couponing" and try to come up with a system that will work for me (still working out the system, but I've at least begun to make a habit of finding and using them!)
  • Hang the bulletin board I recently made & decorate with photos (see photo below! :)
  • Make at least 4 meals without the input/help of my husband
  • Have "girl time" with different friends at least 4 times
  • Order my wedding album
  • Finish writing all wedding Thank-Yous (Not quite finished, but only like 6 left to go!)
  • Mail Thank-Yous (Mailed all that we had done, so again, only like 6 left to go!)
  • Catch up on editing & posting personal photos (Didn't get all the way caught up, but did make some progress!)
  • Get a tan while chilling on the beach in FLORIDA with my sister and cousin :)
  • Sort receipts from January & February
  • Blog at least 2 times a week (yes, aiming low...hopefully I'll get faithful with at least THAT and then move onward and upward) I don't think I quite made this...especially because of vacation. But I came close!
  • Sort at least 3 weddings and pick favorite photos
  • Submit at least 3 weddings to be featured on wedding blogs
  • Finish picking photos for my sample wedding album
  • Order sample wedding album
  • Research workshop/conference opportunities coming up this year (I even attended one!)
So, all things considered, I think March was a pretty successful month and I'm really happy looking at the list and seeing how much I got done, and how close I came even on the things I didn't quite get done. For those of you who decided to set monthly goals for yourselves, how did you do? Did you feel like it helped you stay focused and ultimately accomplish more? I'd love to hear some of your experiences! :)

As for the bulletin board, here are some photos! (I started by purchasing a large framed photo from Goodwill, did away with the glass, painted the frame with one coat of white craft paint - I wanted it to have an uneven, white-washed kind of look - then bought square cork pieces from Michael's, the fabric from Joanne Fabrics and the string and tacks from Walmart.)


It hangs in our bedroom right above my little (not-so-tidy) computer desk.


All of the photos just make me sooo happy. And I chose a lot of ones that probably won't be in the wedding album, because I still loved them and wanted to find some place for them to be displayed. (Rebekah Murray's incredible photography skills make it hard to narrow down one's wedding photos!)


The smaller polaroids were taken at the wedding, too, by one of my dearest friends, Maria (who was also a bridesmaid! She's skilled at multi-tasking. :) They're such a fun addition to the memories of that day, and to the bulletin board.


And, by the way, this is a quick photo of the throw pillows on our bed, which was why I went with the fabric that I did as the background for the bulletin board. It coordinates so perfectly! I really love the grey, white and turquoise color scheme. It's light, fresh, pretty and happy without being overly feminine.


And now, for April goals!

  • Continue working out at least 4 times a week
  • Brainstorm and accomplish 1 for-the-home art project
  • Make at least 5 meals without Aaron's input (yeah, that's right - a whole one more than last month! ;)
  • Have girl time with at least 4 different friends in person
  • Call or hand-write at least 2 far-away girlfriends
  • REALLY Finish writing Thank-You's
  • Mail the last Thank-You's
  • Order Wedding Album
  • Finish catching-up on personal photo editing & uploading
  • Organize iTunes & all Music folders on computers
  • Help my Mom pick out frames & wedding photos to print when I'm in IN at the end of the month! :)
  • Get all receipts from March in order
  • Blog at least 2 times a week (trying this again!)
  • Finish researching Business Insurance options & decide on a company/policy
  • Organize all 2010 pictures on all computers/hard drives
  • Finish researching and choose a company for online backup & off-site storage
  • Research new laptops
  • Research new desktop monitors
  • Make a list of prioritized purchases
And there you have it! I'm already a week into this month, so it's a good thing I had been thinking about what I wanted to put on my lists and have been working towards them, already. Here's hoping for another purposeful, focused, successful month for accomplishing both personal and business goals and enjoying life while I'm at it. :) Happy April, everyone!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Portraits | Last Florida Beach Installment

Ok, friends and readers! The final installment of the Florida Beach Shoot is here! I wanted to snap a few carefree photos of both Aimee and Emily together, before we left the beach, and I think these captured some of the fun we were all having together. :)




Ahh, the ocean wind strikes again! Gotta love the hair flying everywhere. :)





Again I ask, aren't they just beautiul?






After I finished photos of them, Aimee snapped a few of me. So, while it's not normal for me to post a photoshoot of myself on my own blog, I figured it wouldn't quite be rounding out this shoot properly if I didn't share these, too. Plus, I enjoy getting to change it up and be in front of the camera now and then. Thanks for playing photographer for a bit, Aimee!




She was saying ridiculous things and mocking me as she took these. :P





My hair was definitely crazy. Having bangs doesn't work out super well in high winds...



Probably my favorite shot. It's just happy and expresses "me" so well.













And the wind/hair combination strikes again! But I like it.




So, there you go! You have now experienced our beautiful sunset shoot at Sanibel Island. I wish I could be transported back there, right now, as Richmond has been struggling to figure out that it's Spring these last couple of weeks... But here's hoping it'll have nicer temperatures in store this week!

Next post to come (soon!) will be an update on my March goals and my list of goals for April. Stay tuned!