Monday, June 23, 2014

Washington D.C.

Oh the most loved vacation posts. I know how much everyone loves them because I can see the stats. My DIY dog bow tie post has a whopping 30,000 views, and most of my vacation posts get roughly 100. But yet, I continue to post them. What can I say? I give the people what they want. :p

Justin and I went to D.C. in May for a long weekend. I was right in the middle of a quick break from school and he had a couple of days he was able to sneak away. I was so burnt out with school and life in general it was nice to get away and spend some time together. We had a lot of fun, and felt like we had just enough time to explore the city.

The first day was dedicated specifically to the monuments and famous landmarks. The second day we did the museums. The third day we rode bikes around Arlington and shopped/ate in Georgetown. Our hotel was in Arlington, which made our stay much cheaper. The metro was connected to our hotel and we took it into town everyday. We had some of the best food and it was really exciting to see all of the history there.

I love traveling with Justin and look forward to any chance we are able to get away together. I think it is so important to have time away from home to unwind and reconnect. Life gets so crazy and it is easy to get caught up in work and school, but I'm thankful we are able to prioritize time away, even if it's just a quick trip!

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Tiny Office Space Makeover

    I receive many sweet compliments from friends about my decorating abilities. People say nice things like "Please come decorate my house" and I always feel overwhelmingly flattered because there was a time not too long ago when that would not be the kind of thing you said to me. Just ask Justin about the time when we were dating and I surprised him with a bedroom makeover. (Insert most embarrassing face ever here) Or the time I thought it was a great idea to paint our guest bedroom yellow and gray stripes and it turned out to look like a bumblebee's bedroom. I could show you some pictures that would make you laugh out loud. So I really do feel like I've come a long way in the decorating game. I also know I have a lot of growing to do, too!

    What you may not know is that Justin plays a huge role in my new found "abilities". When we moved to Massachusetts I vowed that I would "get it right" this time. I wanted to finally make every space we had cozy and not one bit embarrassing. (Like the yellow and gray guest room) So before I ever finished a project I would ask Justin if he liked it. He has put so much input into our cozy little space, but rarely gets any credit. I wanted to to dedicate this post to show you a space he tackled all on his own without me even knowing about it. Here was our recent conversation regarding my tiny work space in the guest bedroom:

Justin: I wish you had an office space you actually enjoyed working at.
Me: Me too! It's just impossible in this tiny apartment. 
Justin: You need a cute space of your own.
Me: I wish!! It just doesn't seem possible.

    A few days later I came home from work and my little hole in the wall office had been transformed:

     I was in total disbelief. I cried sobbed uncontrollably. He surprised me with the most beautiful feminine space that looked like it had come straight out of a magazine. I was in so much shock it took me a minute to realize he even replaced my old Toshiba (it was on the fritz and I was about the throw it out the window) with my very own MacBook Air. *Cue more crying* Justin tackled a space I just couldn't seem to get right and he did it all without me having the slightest clue. I love that he added pops of my favorite colors and prints. As soon as I saw the space I fell in love and could truly tell that he shopped and decorated with me in mind.

    What do you guys think? Are you in love? With the space, not my husband. He's taken. :P I am so proud of him, I can't stop beaming whenever I come into this room. Now maybe I will be more excited about tackling my five summer classes! Too far? 

Project List:
Desk:Walmart (It was only $40. Craziness!!)
Tufted Chair, storage bins, & all accessories: T.J. Maxx
Lamp: Ikea
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Personalized Pet Food Area

Justin and I used to have late night pillow talk about whether or not we were ready for a dog. We were so worried it would change our lifestyle, and it did! But in the best kind of way. One thing I remember discussing was all of the "stuff"that came along with owning a dog. I hate clutter with a burning passion (ask Justin about my weekly 'too much stuff on the counter' freakouts) I did not want big dog beds laying around or random toys all over the house. I wanted to be a dog person without looking or smelling like we were dog people, make sense? Well the smell part was easy. We give Hudson more baths than he probably needs, I constantly have candles lit, and as soon as the weather hits the high 40's you can bet I have the windows open. There is nothing worse than going to visit someone and being hit in the face with the smell of dog as soon as you walk through the door. I swore to myself that would never be us. (On a side note- we did invest in a Roomba this year. Literally the best money ever spent. We used to have a problem with hair floating around because I couldn't keep up with it with my normal vacuum, but now the Roomba gets all of it. I swear I haven't seen flying hair in forever. Highly recommend!!)

The pet organization part took a little more thought. But it has been fun coming up with unique ways to organize Hudson's "stuff". Now that we live in an apartment I am going through serious house project withdraws. So when I found this dog food holder online I knew I could sucker Justin into ask Justin nicely to make it for me. I wish I was a good blogger and had a tutorial for you, but I totally forgot to take photos of the process. I was so inspired by the below feeder I knew I had to have one for Hudson. (If you have a bigger dog it's also nice to elevate their food so they don't have to eat hunched over) Here's the inspiration and our little twist on it:


We bought this super cute Ikea trashcan to put Hudson's dog food in. So much better than the big ugly bag hanging around! They also have blue, silver and mustard. So fun!

What are you doing with my food, woman?!

Just look at that face! Such a sweet boy. 

So with a couple of my favorite photos of Hudson, a new rug and a handy husband, we now have an adorable pet food area that I am not embarrassed to have out in the open. I am in love and I think our furry little son is, too. I have even caught him staring at his pictures a few times. What do you guys think? Do you try to be a creative dog owner or have you just accepted the fact that they own the house? :p

Supply List:
Ikea Trash Can-$25. (Already had)
Target rug-$4.28 (Thank you clearance end cap!)
Canvas prints of Hudson-$20 a piece 
Pet Food Crate-$20 & husbands time
Adorable Dog-not available for purchase
(Side note-I did stain mine with a dark wood stain)
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Christmas in New York

Warning-this post contains many sappy romantic moments. If this kind of thing makes you roll your eyes and say "Good grief Charlie Brown!" you better leave now

  I have always been a hopeless romantic. In second grade I would stand outside at recess letting snowflakes cover my hair and trying to catch them on my eyelashes daydreaming about the day I would be old enough to get my first kiss in all of the blustery beauty winter had to bring. All while all the other kids were running around like fools screaming "dandruff dandruff you guys have dandruff!!!" It's a good thing I married my husband because when it comes to romance, the man does not mess around. 
     I promised myself when I was little that one day I would get to New York City for the holidays. I needed to find out for myself if it was as romantic as it looked on the movies. When we moved to Boston almost a year ago, I knew this would be my year. I told my husband the only thing I wanted for my birthday was a trip to NYC and that is exactly what I got along with so many New York moments I will never be able to forget. 
     (We stayed at the Double Tree over in Rockefeller center. I definitely recommend that location. It is very central to everything and the subway was right outside of our hotel.)
     I remember thinking that it would be an added bonus if it would snow while we were there, but I didn't get my hopes up. Wouldn't you know that the forecast changed and it snowed big fluffy flakes all day long. I was ecstatic. We did the normal touristy things while we were there, but when you do them around Christmas time everything is different. The entire city is dressed up in its Holiday best. We walked around and window shopped, admired the lights, dove in and out of stores and coffee shops to get warm, went to Rockefeller Center and admired the beautiful tree and all of its 45,000 lights, ate at our favorite restaurant where the manager bought our appetizer because we were all from the same place in Florida. I kept sneaking glances at my husband (who was figuring out the subway system like a champ) thinking to myself, there is no one I wold rather be sharing this trip with. 
     After dinner we walked to Central Park. The snow was coming down so hard with the entire skyline wrapped around us I felt like we were trapped in a magical snow globe. Justin took me to the top of this rock and when we got to the top he asked me to dance. So there we were in the middle of a New York moment I will treasure forever. I went to bed pinching myself because I could not believe what a perfect day we had.
     New York is a magical place, but nothing quite measures up to being there during the holidays. It's busy, cold and most of the restaurants you really want to eat at are booked for months, but it is worth the hassle. I fell in love with my husband all over again during that trip. I loved how handsome he looked with snowflakes on his beard or how cute it was that he was always surprising me with hot cocoa to keep my hands warm while we walked around. The entire city was in love that weekend, everyone was holding hands and stealing kisses. I thought back to the times I wondered if NYC would be as magical as they made it seem on the movies and you guys, it was even better. All because I was there with my best friend. 
     If you ever have a chance to sneak away to New York for a quick weekend in December, don't even hesitate. Book your trip, grab your camera and spend the weekend getting into the holiday spirit with the one you love. 

Thank you honey for making my holiday NYC dream come true. There is no one else I would have rather shred that moment with. 

New York, I love you!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Christian Bullies

     A little over a year ago I tried on my first pair of jeans. Some of you might think this sounds crazy because you've been wearing jeans your whole life and don't get what the big deal is. However, things were a little different for me. From the time I was six years old I had a closet full of dresses and skirts. I never knew why I had to wear them, it was just something my mom told me I had to do. I hated it because of how I felt in them and how other kids at school made me feel. When I got older I hated wearing skirts even more. Yes, skirts are made for girls but for some reason I never felt very feminine while wearing them. I always struggled with awkward lengths and how hideous tennis shoes looked with everything. It got to the point where I didn't even care what I looked like when I left the house because I felt ugly no matter what. When I went anywhere I stared at the ground and tried my best to avoid eye contact with people in general. My hair was long, unruly and I had no clue how to style it. My face had never seen the slightest bit of makeup and I was tired of disliking what I saw when I looked into the mirror.

     It sounds silly, but when I put those jeans on I couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a woman!  Later I made an appointment at a salon and had my hair trimmed, conditioned and styled. When the guy spun me around in my chair I almost cried. I was so beautiful!! A little later after this I treated myself to a makeup kit so I could learn how to highlight my own natural beauty. This amazing transformation was taking place and I actually started looking forward to getting ready now because darn it, I felt like a gorgeous woman! And then the bullying began.

     I started to notice friends from church walking right by me without saying hi, people were disconnecting from me on various social media sites, I was getting emails and text messages from people saying they were "praying for me to come back to God" and even a few family members told me I was hell bound. I was so crushed. I contemplated going back to the way things were before just so I could be accepted again. While so many Christian people were condemning me and making me feel like a total "backslider" they had no idea what I had been through to get to this point in my life. Lots of prayer and Bible reading followed by Godly council. After almost a year of struggling with what to do I finally felt peace about my decisions. I lived so many years doing certain things because people were telling me to but never really knowing why. My own husband wasn't comfortable with me slapping a pair of jeans on the first time because that wasn't how he was raised either! But together we prayed and read scriptures and in the end he knew it had to be my decision.

     So why was I still made to feel so awkward when I went to the grocery store? Why did people delete me from various social media sites? Why were people sending me "there is still hope for you" emails? I don't know. Maybe because they thought that was what they had to do. While they thought they were "reaching out" and trying to save me, I felt very small and hurt. I felt like I was in a room full of mean bullies. I could not believe the amount of harsh words people felt like they needed to say to me. People would put sad faces on photos of mine and ask me what happened to myself. What happened to loving people the way God does?

     I am not writing this post to try to convince anyone to change their physical appearance. I respect your decisions and always will. I am not writing this to ask for advice or a Bible study, I have already gotten plenty of that. I have made a very personal decision for myself, one that I have to live with. If I woke up tomorrow and felt God speak to me and tell me to change my ways, you better believe I would listen. But until then, please stop trying to 'save me'. Personally, I wasn't going to be able to tell anyone about Jesus or invite them to church because I was too busy staring at the ground feeling like an ugly duckling. I am still a very modest woman. I believe in one great big God. I believe in the power of prayer and being baptized in Jesus name. I don't cuss, do drugs or smoke. I occasionally play slot machines and always promise to give God the first 10 percent. (just a little joke people) I am a Godly, Christian woman and I am tired of being bullied. In the last year I have felt more hatred from former Christian friends than I ever care to admit, but I am done with that now.

     The bullying has to stop. If you would like to approach me and ask me anything your heart desires, please do. But please, stop trying to change me. The emails have to stop. The comments in the photos, the innocent slip ins during normal conversation, the hatred. It has to stop. God is love. We as Christians are all supposed to be the light in the middle of this dark world. How are we going to reach out to anyone and help them understand who God is if we are too busy judging those who already know the answer?

( I understand that this is a very controversial post. I knew that while I struggled with whether or not to publish it. Please keep your conflicting comments to yourself and remember, if you don't have anything nice to say...")



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Friday, January 24, 2014

10 Ways to Take Better Photos of Your Dog

The average lifespan of a dog is about 13 years. I am one of those overly attached dog moms who gets emotional thinking about that. I have always said that getting a dog was like setting yourself up for heartache because you are going to love them too hard and lose them too soon. It's just not fair. Even knowing this we went ahead and adopted our favorite guy, Hudson. Already, just two years in, I love him more than I ever knew I could. One way I like to toss the short life span out of the picture and focus on now is by documenting his little life. The biggest question I get from family and friends is always, " How in the WORLD do you get such great photos of your dog? You get him to do the craziest things!!" So I finally decided to let you guys in on my top secret photo tricks. Here are 10 easy ways to improve the photos you take of your pet.

1. Safety is always first. No matter how cute you think a certain photo may be, you must always have your dogs best interest at heart. Does he dart off when you remove his leash? Is he skittish of people and may run away if someone approaches him unexpectedly? Never put your dog in the position of making a choice his mind cannot truly understand the consequences of. You would much rather see his tacky looking leash in your photo than some of the other scary options. 

2. Break out your nice camera. You don't have to have the latest DSLR camera, but sometimes an iPhone just doesn't give your pets the justice they deserve. 

3. Use motivation treats. This is an important one. Some days I can get Hudson to do whatever the heck I want him to because he is in a charming mood. Other days he runs circles around me, silently mocking me for thinking I could get anything out of him without having something to offer in return. I'm not talking about milkbones here. You need to bust out the big guns.Hot dogs, ham and turkey always work best for me. If you have something your dog really loves it's a lot easier to get him to sit, stay and wait while you snap your cute photo. Milkbones and carrots are ok, but they won't give you the same attention you will get with a special treat they don't have all the time. Reward them as you go, too. They need to know they are working for something great!

4. Don't focus on perfection. One fall afternoon I followed my dog around for 15 minutes, snapping so many awesome photos. The true masterpiece though, came totally by chance. Hudson laid down to take a five second rest and SNAP! I captured a still moment so sweet, it reminded me of his puppy years. Some of the best photos you can take are the ones completely unplanned and natural. 

5. Get them in action. Of course you want the cute, my dog looks like a model photos, but we all know that is probably not how they usually act. Capture their true personality by throwing a ball and snapping photos as they are running back to you, or sneak a shot of a quick shake off after a hot summer day's swim. Those are the photos you will appreciate. 

6. Make it a game! Whenever I know I'm taking Hudson to a pretty place, I bring three things-my DSLR, treats and his rope. I swear he knows the rules by now: take some cute photos for mommy, get yummy treats and a nice game of  fetch. I'm happy, he's happy! Your dog will start associating picture time with fun, happy playtime. 

7. Get a tripod. Sometimes I'm a little shaky at the balancing act. I can take a clearer looking photo by having my camera on the tripod so I only have to worry about pushing a button and holding the treat. It's hard to do both at once without a trusty tripod! It is definitely worth the inexpensive investment, especially for posed shots. 

8. Make a fool of yourself. Sometimes just saying my dogs name won't cut it. On occasion I have to break out my best high pitched baby voice, "Bubby Booyyyy!!!!! HII Hudson! Who's the best dog in the whole world? There's a good dog!!!" And if that doesn't lead to them getting over excited and running at you full force to shower you with love and kisses, then in the very least you should have at least gotten some eye contact for your photo. :p

9. Read your camera manuals. The best camera in the world won't give you an amazing photo of your dog if you don't know how to use it. Knowledge is power! There are some great tutorials online, too! (Here's a couple of my favorites- DSLR for Dummies from Decor and the Dog and I Have a DSLR Camera, Now What? from Two Twenty One ) Practice makes perfect, people!! 

10. Avoid frustration. In the end, it's just a photo. It is never worth yelling at the dog and getting yourself worked up because he isn't being the model puppy you want him to be. It's OK. Tomorrow is a new day. Never take your frustration out on your furry friend because of their lack of photo skills. They are dogs, and there is a communication gap there- try to remember that. Taking nice photos of your crazy, on the go, full of energy pet is hard work! It takes patience, practice, lots of treats and even more love.

I hope this help you in your future pet photography endeavors! I don't claim to be a professional, but I do love practicing on my sweet pup! Even if you aren't an obsessed dog lover like I am, snap some photos anyway! You will appreciate having them to look back on. Give your furry children an extra behind the ear scratch just from me! Can't wait to see your photos!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall in Boston (Family Photos 2013)

If you know me at all then you probably know that I am obsessed with photos. I think it is such a simple way to document your life. I am also 100% addicted to lifestyle family photography. After the first time we got our engagement photos back and saw how our pictures told such a beautiful story of our love for each other, Sears and Picture People lost my business forever. There is just something so special about the candid, intimate moments a lifestyle photographer can capture.

We try to get professional photos taken once a year, mainly for Christmas cards. This year was especially important to me because of where we live. We love that we get to live in Boston. I always want to remember how breathtaking this city is and how happy we are living here. One day these moments will pass and I am sure we will live somewhere else, but now we will never ever forget. {And a huge thank you to Nicole Baas Photography for giving us our favorite photos yet!}

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