Thursday, October 30, 2014

When Things Don't Go as Planned

Sitting in a hospital room, I watched as my baby's heart rate dropped dangerously low. In an instant, 7 doctors surrounded me as a nurse moved me around through my contractions and put an oxygen mask on me. I could see tears dangerously close to falling from my husband's eyes.

A neonatal team entered the room when I was ready to push because they really weren't sure what may happen. My doctor explained as we started to push that if her heart rate dropped during any of the pushes, that I needed to be ready for an emergency c-section. This was not what I had planned for my childbirth experience.

Well, actually I hadn't planned too much because I know things can change. I just wasn't prepared for exactly how much everything could change. That it all could literally happen in a minute.

It's funny, because no one really tells you what could happen when you have a baby, even if the pregnancy was super easy and you & baby are healthy the whole time. No one tells you that things can happen even when you are full term.

No one tells you that your baby could just not breathe and she could be whisked away to the NICU.

No one tells you that you will get so many differing opinions on how to feed your child in a span of 2 hours from 4 different nurses when all you want to do is get your baby out of intensive care.

No one tells you that you may feel guilty seeing all the babies that are so much worse off and your baby is almost ready to leave.

No one tells you when you do get home that you will barely sleep, so worried that she may quit breathing again.

No one tells you that you will sleep even less when your baby isn't gaining weight, so you will pump constantly for months, praying that she will finally put on weight so you can stop worrying.

No one tells you that people with think you are crazy for being so protective, even though they tell you not to have them out for the first six weeks.

No one tells you these things probably because they don't know.

With a very healthy and happy baby reaching the first birthday milestone in just a week, it's really made me reflect on my childbirth experience and has completely amazed me just how much has changed in the past year.

I know I didn't have it that hard. I know there are people that have sick babies, stillborn babies, angel babies. I am not comparing my experience with that whatsoever. Mine was so very easy in comparison, actually.

But I also remember how scary and helpless I felt seeing my baby with all kinds of wires sticking out from her. How utterly devastating it was to have my baby taken from me right after birth. And how wonderful it felt for her to get to go home.

And I hope I never forget how lucky I feel right now to have a beautiful little daughter. Happy almost birthday, darling. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What to Wear for Family Photos

With Christmas time quickly approaching, this is really the time that people start thinking about family photos for their Christmas cards. I know when I think about family photos, I immediately try to think about what type of outfits we will be wearing.

This can feel like a daunting task because although you want a cohesive look, too often it becomes so matchy-matchy. Although you can go with the "all the same color shirts/tops/dresses, etc" I think that has been way over done, and sometimes as a photographer it makes it difficult to do anything creative when everyone just blends together!
This was actually shot by my Dad 

Here's some tips on some great ways to keep your family photos cohesive, but not looking boring.

1. Pick a color "theme" and use with different patterns, textures, and fabrics. 

Want to use navy blue? A dark jean jacket over a different colored dress, navy blue plaid, and even a plain navy blue shirt. But when you mix these different types of the navy blue, it doesn't look like you all bought the same clothes and went so literal with the color theme.

2. Have pieces or parts of your outfit that are in the same color family, not the exact same color.

This is along the same lines as mixing different patterns or textures. You could really play with different colors within the same family and give interest to your photos. This would be especially useful in a larger family. For example, using green as your main color, you could use all different shades of green, mixing it throughout the different family members.

3. Have fun with your choices! 

Don't be afraid to get creative or use color in different ways that you normally would.  Use color in accessories, not just clothing. Get out of your comfort zone!

4. Using complementary colors instead of sticking with all the same color. 

You can always use neutrals to complement any color you would like to use, but it's never a bad idea to also branch out and use complementary colors! If you look at a color wheel, any colors that are directly across from each other on the wheel are considered complementary.

5. When in doubt, ask your photographer.

If you have a skilled photographer, they should be more than willing to answer some of your outfit questions. Send pictures or run your idea past them and see what they think. They can give you some great input and let you know if you will be able to get good black and white photos from the colors/outfits you have picked.

What are some of your favorite tips for family photos?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Juliet- 11 Month Update

So, Juliet and I are officially kicked out of our house so Jay can get to all the makeover magic without a baby crawling around. I'm pretty excited, it's kind of going to be like an HGTV reveal, which is the best if you ask me!

Now, to the real point of this post :) Juliet is getting so big, and I've been trying to document every month with pictures, but with planning her birthday party, working at the Ohio dental assisting testing this weekend, and trying to get the house in shape for our makeover, my pictures (and blog posts, oops!) have slacked a bit. So, this weekend after working we went out into the beautiful evening lighting and lol some 11 month photos I thought I'd share with you! 

She is so, so close to walking. I know she can do it, but she's just not confident enough yet. 

We're still breastfeeding, but I'm planning on starting to wean around her birthday which is sad and relieving at the same time. It's definitely some mixed feelings. 

How adorable are those little teeth?! She eats so much I can't believe she's still so tiny. She's in the 3.3 percentile in weight, and you can't believe how hard we worked to just get it into the scale period! 

So that's a little update on our peanut. Next one will be the birthday party, which is still so crazy to me. How do you deal with your kids growing up? I'm in denial. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

High Five for Friday

Have we had a week around here! Ever feel like all you do is run around but don't actually get anything done? That's kind of how my week has been.

1. If you read my post yesterday, you'll know that we are planning on some big renovations around here next week! I'm getting kicked out so my husband can work and baby girl can sleep and play without being woken by banging and saws. So, we're trying to get the house packed up before I head to my parents. Also, check out our DIY Mason Jar Chandelier I shared earlier this week!

2. I'm cutting down on caffeine intake (aka coffee consumption) and man, oh man, is it rough! Jay drinks a lot of coffee throughout the day so when he makes some it's hard to say no. We are doing  half caff coffee so I'm hoping eventually I'll get used to it.

3. Juliet has a cold of some nature so it's been a long few days.  I've been so lucky that she's never truly been sick,  but poor girl just hasn't been sleeping well at all. Hoping she gets to feeling better soon so she can finally sleep well. 

4. I went to a diaper swap last weekend and got some amazing new cloth diapers to try out! I'm so excited to see how some different types work out for us. It was a bonus to get them at great prices. 

5. It's such a beautiful day today. I'm hoping to get some fall photos taken of Juliet, and will be sharing next week if it works out! Fingers crossed she doesn't just eat the leaves. 

How was your week? Let me know! 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Living Room Mood Board

So, it's official. There is bamboo flooring sitting in my den acclimating to my house, and my husband has taken off work next week. (insert excited squeal here!) We have been talking about repainting the living room for a good while now, mostly because Jay hates the teal I picked. I love the color, but it makes our room a bit dark and with dark floors it just really isn't going to work.

Painting and flooring then brought up painting the trim and doors, which means new blinds and an area rug. So, this whole thing has really snowballed into a huge project and I really couldn't be more excited! This house was definitely a bachelor pad for my husband before I moved in, and now I really think we are going to have such a wonderful mix of his and my styles.

Since we are doing all this work, I have been searching on and off online for different ideas and things to use in our new space. Here's some of the things that have caught my eye lately.
Living Room Inspiration

That beige rug actually has a very subtle chevron pattern to it, which I think could really add something to the space.

What do you think? I'm so excited to show you the finished product!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DIY Tassel Garland

Boy, is birthday planning in full swing around here! Most of my evenings after Juliet goes to bed are full of DIY projects in preparation for her party in a few weeks.

I'm really getting excited for her birthday, but I still can't really believe she's almost 1! It's been a whole year since we brought her home, so itty bitty. I just can't quite wrap my mind around it. 

Remember back when I mentioned I threw a surprise 30th birthday party for my husband? Well, we made some adorable tassels for a garland along our deck. Sadly I didn't get nearly as many photos as I would have liked at his party, but I wanted to share with you how to make an easy and great looking decoration that could be used for any special occasion! 

You will Need:
Tissue Paper
Twine, yarn or something to string tassels

1. Fold tissue paper in half long ways. 

2. I fold into quarters or eighths, then cut a fringe. 

3. Unfold the fringe, then cut in half. 

4. Open the tissue paper, then begin rolling at the bottom, keeping the fringes out of the middle part that is being rolled. 

5. After rolling as tight as possible, twist, making a loop. I slightly twist the two tassel ends together then fluff so it looks like it's all one piece. 

6. String together and hang! 

Now, I will admit it is a bit of a time consuming process. But once you get the hang of it, the whole thing goes pretty fast! Plus, it's so adorable. 

What are some of your favorite DIY party decorations? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY Mason Jar Chandelier-Pottery Barn Hack

I mentioned on Friday about our most recent home improvement project, our awesome Mason Jar Chandelier.

I originally had seen this mason jar lighting fixture from Pottery Barn. I fell in love with the idea, just not the $400 price tag. So of course, I put my wonderful electrician husband onto the task. 
The easiest way to create this look? These pendant plug-in lights from Ikea are perfect. If you have a background in electrical work, you can create the pendants  from scratch for a little cheaper like my husband did. I don't recommend doing that unless you really know what you're doing! 

(Psst: Here's a tutorial with the pendant plug in lights from Ikea. They show how it works and how exactly to put those particular pendant lights into a mason jar.)

To create a lighting fixture from an actual mason jar, you will need to drill or punch a hole through the lid of the mason jar. 

Here's how we did it: 

We measured and found the middle of the lid, then used a 1 3/8 inch drill bit and drilled through the lid.

You can also draw a circle for the size of your pendant, then take a nail and hammer and punch small holes close together all around until the middle pops out. 

The final component of the lighting fixture is the box that covers the electrical work, or the plugs from the pendants if you choose to use the ones from Ikea.

First, measure and decide how wide and long you would like the final fixture to be. 

Then, you will need to cut 2 pieces the measurement of the length you would like.

Next, cut the width piece. To create exactly like ours, you would cut the width -2x the thickness of the wood you are using.

Finally, you will cut a piece that will fit in like the bottom of a box. Then, simply put all of these together!

The final thing you will need to do is drill through the bottom of the box that you just created for the pendants, so mark the distance you would like, then use a drill to create the holes. Hang and enjoy!

This project was seriously one of my favorite projects we have done in our house! It's really not that terribly complicated, and there are definitely easy ways or options for you to do beyond knowing a lot about electrical work.

What do you think? Would this be a project you would like to do? 

Friday, October 17, 2014

High Five for Friday!

Hey guys! I hope you all had a great week. It's been pretty rainy here this past week, so I'm hoping for a little sunshine this weekend. Anyways, let's jump right in!

1.  I have been having crazy amounts of stink with my cloth diapers and they have been causing rashes. After much research and a life saving Facebook group, I have figured out the issue and am in the process of stripping/bleach soaking and getting them back to square one. They are definitely an investment at the beginning, so it's a little stressful when you are attempting to save money and it's not working out!

2. I'm so excited for some of the house projects we have planned over the next few weeks. We've been looking into bamboo flooring for the main living space (yay for no more carpet!), Jay created the coolest mason jar chandelier for over our dining room that I will be sharing details about next week, and we are looking at putting an awesome pallet wall into our bathroom. So much stuff, but so much fun! now if I could only talk him into a little painting too.

3. Juliet is into everything! I literally cannot look away for 2 seconds or she has destroyed something or is eating something inedible-ahem, bugs or dog food- and I honestly don't know where she finds it! I'm going to be in trouble when she actually decides to start walking.

Oh hey Mom, just climbing the stairs because I can. Also, anyone else kid's hair part awkwardly? 
4. Now that Juliet has suddenly decided to be so rambunctious, I've had to really try to change up my routine. You may have noticed this week I've been a little quieter on social media and on here. I think I've finally figured out a new routine for us and that's definitely a relief.

5. Jay also applied for a new job this week! We won't hear anything for a little while, but it would be a great opportunity for him and for our family. He's got a decent chance of getting it, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

How has your week been? I'd love to hear!

Linking up with 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Perfect Fall Outfit

I've been dreaming of my fall wardrobe a lot lately. Fortunately, I've got quite a few sweaters and a couple pairs of boots, so I do have options while I'm still nursing.

But what would I be wearing if I could pick anything? Well, anything within reason, because let's be honest, it's just depressing to be looking at designer clothes when i will never afford the designer price tag.

Perfect Fall Outfit

This outfit is so adorable, and such a comfy but put together look that could work for both running errands or going out on the weekend. 

Confession time: I have an obsession with tights. It's kind of a problem. I would have a pair in every color if I could, and I'm slowly making progress on that. These plum patterned tights are so great for fall and adding a bit of pop to an outfit. 

The TOMS boots are a bit pricier, but I justify that because TOMS donates shoes for children that need them every time you purchase a pair of their shoes. 

I've been dying to get my hands on a a navy nail polish, which I think is perfect color for fall and extremely popular right now. 

Tif at Bright on a Budget found a great blanket scarf on Ebay, so there's definitely ways to cut down the price on this outfit! 

And any fall outfit wouldn't be complete for me without a cute mug to hold my coffee. 

You can also see another way to style this dress over at Lauren Elizabeth

What would your perfect fall outfit consist of? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stuffed Acorn Squash

It's fall and that means there are squashes everywhere. The stores are clogged with them, both for decoration and for eating.

I'll be honest, I wasn't much of a squash eater in the past. I'd have it at a restaurant if they served it as seasonal vegetables or something of that nature, but otherwise it really wasn't something that I would necessarily make at home.

This year that changed! When we planted our garden, I wanted to do a variety so both us and Juliet would have a good mixture of nutrients. When our neighbors then offered us some of their acorn squash, I jumped on it!

It's so much sweeter than the spaghetti squash and butternut squash that I have made. It's seriously so good. By the way, did I mention this is clean AND Paleo? Pretty much can't get better than that.

1 medium sized acorn squash
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 granny smith apple
1 cup chopped cranberries (raisins also work)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or more! It's a great crunch)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
dash cloves
1 tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half, then scoop the insides out. After the squash is cleaned, lightly coat with olive oil and place on a cookie sheet, cut side down. Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the squash is almost able to be pierced easily with a fork.

As the squash is baking, brown the turkey on the stove. When it has been browned, add the onions, apples, and spices. Continue cooking over medium-low heat, stirring often, until apples are soft and the onions are almost translucent.

Remove mixture from heat and mix in walnuts and cranberries.

Flip squash over, then fill inside cavity with meat mixture. Place back into the oven for at least 5 minutes, or until squash is able to be pulled easily from the sides of the skin.

Enjoy a big bowl of fall!

**We had leftover meat mixture that I used with eggs the next day for breakfast. So delicious! Feel free to also add some pure maple syrup, it's a great sweetness addition to the meal.

Linking up with
Eat Drink & Be Mary

Monday, October 13, 2014

When You Have a Baby Young

Ever since I met my husband, my life has become a little bit of a whirlwind. I met Jay in August, we got engaged that next March, and then married the following January. Just two months later, we found out that we were expecting our first child. 

When I found out I was expecting, my life changed. As a recent college grad, most of my friends were still figuring out just exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. I walked in my graduation ceremony in December of 2012 and saw two pink lines in March 2013. When that happened, that searching for what i wanted to "be," stopped. 

Those two pink lines made me a Mommy, and I will be forever grateful for that. But those two pink lines also signaled an end to a part of my life that I never really got a good footing on. 

I don't really miss that life, because well, I didn't really know what it was. When I look at my friends still navigating their lives, trying to figure out what they want to be, where they want to live, and attempting to find a mate (or just having fun), it's a bit of an out of body experience. 

I don't have a lot in common with my peers anymore. In fact, those who I once considered peers probably aren't even that any longer. I struggle with that sometimes. 

I struggle with finding my identity apart from being "Mommy" mostly because I wasn't really exactly sure what that identity was prior to becoming one. 

I was always a very good student and had always seen myself going far in a career. I never dreamed I'd be a stay at home mom. I absolutely adore being home with my daughter and know I am beyond blessed to have this opportunity, so I never want to make light of it. But having such a selfless, unending, and let's face it, often unappreciated job sometimes leaves me feeling at the end of the day not really sure where I fit in besides being a mom. 

Now, I'm in no way comparing this to having a baby as a teenager or the trials of single motherhood. Believe me, I know I have it good.  But sometimes, late at night after my little darling has gone to bed, or especially when someone asks me what I do, I pause and often feel uncomfortable. 

I'm a mommy. That's what I do right now, and really what I will always be doing. But it's not the only thing I am. What else am I? Well, right now, I'm not really sure and that's the part that makes me squirm. 
Maybe some day I will know. For right now, I'm a young mom to a beautiful little girl and I'm going to be content with that. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

High Five for Friday

And another Friday has come! Let's get right into it.
Her favorite place to get into stuff! 

1. Juliet is officially 11 months old now! I'm planning on getting her monthly photos taken either today or sometime this weekend. It's gotten so difficult now because she just wants to play with the camera and pull the stickers that have the month on them off her shirt. I just can't believe in a month I will have a 1 year old!

2. Last weekend my cousins allowed me to be a part of their special moment of the birth of their daughter. It was such a wonderful experience and I was so very grateful to be asked to be their photographer for that moment. Check more about the event here.

3. Because of the birth, we were unable to go to my parents' last weekend. So, Juliet and I are going to visit this weekend. We will also be picking up our couch for the playroom! I cannot wait. I am so excited for Juliet to have some space of her own, free of things that aren't baby friendly.

4. I've gone into buckle down mode on the party planning over here. I seriously love getting to plan parties, so it's been so much fun getting to plan and execute all the details for my munchkin's first birthday. I'm looking forward to getting to share details and some DIYs in the next couple weeks.

5. There's an awesome fall giveaway going on over with Bright on a Budget, the Cup of Tea blog, and Della Devoted. I'm not going to lie, I seriously hope I win. You should check it out, too!

How has your week been?

Linking up with 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Take a Portrait Like a Pro

I'm back with another photography post! I think the one thing that everyone would like to do is take a great looking portrait. It's really not as difficult as you might think. Here's a few tips and tricks to getting your photos looking great in no time.

1. Use natural lighting. 
Get yourself or your subject in front of an open window with the light coming in. If the light is too harsh, diffuse it by slightly shutting the blinds. The best time to do this is in the morning or early afternoon, before the lighting gets too golden. 

2. Pick a neutral or color complimenting background without a lot of clutter. 
This one is huge! If you have a clashing color in the background, or things that aren't necessary in the picture, then you really distract the viewer. This is also especially true when you have something "growing" out of the person's head.  Make sure you are not in front of anything like a pole, etc.

3. Use manual settings or aperture priority setting. 
This one takes a little time to understand and get used to, but once you do it is so worth it! I seriously never shoot any other way. You can literally control exactly how the pictures come out. Aperture priority (check your camera's manual to see which setting this is) is a step down from manual but you are able to decide how much light comes into the camera, which can allow you to get the blurred background that you always see in portraits.

Want to learn about shooting manually? Check out this website, which has a ton of details on how to use your manual settings. I still use this website when I have questions, or for new ideas. Also, always always ALWAYS look at the directions that came with your camera. They are a lifesaver.

Here's a great article about aperture priority setting, also.

4. Check the focus of photo by zooming in when previewing on your camera. 
This is also key and something I don't always do, unfortunately. Check on the back of your camera that the photos are actually focusing the way you want them to. It may look like it in the eye of your camera and also on the back of the camera, but you really need to zoom in to double check. It's so disappointing when you get them on your computer and that great shot just isn't salvageable.

5. Don't be afraid to try something new. 
This is key in really all forms of art. Have an idea? Go for it! It's better for it not to turn out, rather then being afraid to do it at all. Plus, you will be able to look at your photos and decide how you could improve and make them so much better the next time!

Have some questions about photography? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email, I'd love to help! 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Clean Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

So I have a confession- I'm obsessed with anything pumpkin! Well apple, too, for that matter. I went on a pumpkin binge at Trader Joe's last week, which included organic pumpkin purée.

I've been trying to figure out how I wanted to use the purée. Getting onto my trusty Pinterest, I've now found a crazy amount of clean options and I couldn't be happier! 

This morning I decided to try a new take on a protein shake. And oh my, is it delicious! It tastes so bad for you but it's not. Such a great option if you are trying to keep healthy but are desperate for some of that yummy pumpkin that's all around this time of year. 

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp (or more to taste!) pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
4-6 ice cubes 

Blend together and you will have the perfect guilt free pumpkin treat!

Don't have protein powder? Try substituting a banana or 1 cup of greek yogurt. You may need to add just a tiny bit of vanilla extract to taste. Personally, I like it best with a banana, but I've been trying to up my protein intake hence the whey powder. 

What are some of your favorite fall recipes? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Birth Story

Hey all! I know I have a bit MIA the past few days, especially on social media, but I swear it's been for a wonderful reason. There's a new baby in my extended family! I even had planned on posting this a day sooner, but with everything going on around here I have just been trying to keep up with the day to day around here.

I haven't shared too much about my life before baby on the blog, but I went to college and earned a degree in Photojournalism. I seriously love photographing those candid moments in life, those special times that you want to last forever. That's why I really love weddings. And this weekend I had the honor of photographing the birth of my cousin's daughter. 

It was such a wonderful experience! I've never been in the room with anyone during a delivery and that alone is such a special experience. But getting to give them the photographs of the very first moments with their child was truly the most exciting thing I've ever got ten to be a part of. 

I truly hope I get another opportunity for such a great experience and it's definitely something I am planning on trying to have if we are blessed with another child. 

Later this week I will be sharing another photography post, How to Take a Professional Self Portrait (or any portrait for that matter.) I hope you will check back! 

What do you think of birth photography? Would you want it?