mushroom + rosemary baked brie

The moment we step into September I get in the mood for autumn. All year long I crave cable-knit sweaters, apple cider, barren trees, and delicious warm breads + vegetables that I would never attempt to make in the sweltering Dallas summer. In the fall I suddenly pick up old books that I’ve cherished for years, flipping through their musty pages giggling at my notes and highlights and scrawled definitions from years past- proof that I can even over analyze things that I enjoy tremendously. Memories of starting school again, the excitement of a new fall  wardrobe, a new year to prove yourself and move ahead. Fall symbolizes comfort for me, where summer fades and I become more of who I am. I think that’s why I’ve daydreamed of living in the Pacific Northwest, or Vermont and Maine the majority of my life. I’m drawn to foggy mornings and the scent of treats baking in the oven.

When I finally got the chance to visit the dreamy PNW, I made an abundance of unexpected friends. One being a down to earth political figure in Clallam County, Washington named Mark. Every visit he would take us on guided fishing trips through the Dungeness, Hoh, and Sol Duc rivers where I learned to fish and caught my first big fighting fish, a Steelhead. After long cold mornings littered with fish blood and granola bars we’d make the trek to his sleek modern cabin in the hills where he’d combine some of the most unique flavors in well plated dished while he “educated” us on good music: The Talking Heads, Jorane, Muse, and Crash Test Dummies. We’d sip exceptional wine, dance across the bare wooden floors in our socks, admiring the art he collected and his eloquent way of speaking.

Most of my favorite recipes have been learned from people just like Mark. Although I haven’t been to the PNW or visited him for quite some time, the memories of his open heart, home, and kitchen bring a smile to my face in the dusty-hued months. I’m thankful to have learned this simple appetizer from someone who sparked my love for cooking + baking. This is one of the first food “shoots” I did, last year in my home after spending a full day at the McKinney Farmer’s Market and the Local Yocal where I discovered Texas Olive Ranch olive oil.

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| ingredients |
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion (finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
8 ounces mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1 teaspoon rosemary (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine (or madeira or broth or 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
1 (8 ounce) wheel of brie
1 baguette (sliced)
| directions |
heat the oil in a pan.
add the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
add the mushrooms and saute until they start to caramelize, about 20-30 minutes.
add the garlic and rosemary and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
season with salt and pepper.
add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until it has evaporated.
slice the brie in half, and place the brie on an oven proof serving platter, top with the mushrooms and bake in a preheated 350F oven until the cheese melts, about 8-10 minutes.
serves 4
recipe adapted from closet cooking
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stickygram + hearth magazine love

I usually don’t enter contests on Instagram, but when Hearth Magazine and Stickygram teamed up for a little Stickygram giveaway, I desperately wanted to test my luck. I usually don’t win things either, but this time I did! I squealed like I’d just won tickets to the N*SYNC concert and called my mom, who I think was more amused by my level of excitement than impressed with the fact that I’d won something. Through the Stickygram site I was able to customize my pack and about a week later I got an adorable package of my very own Instagram photos printed onto magnets! So simple, and so lovely. Now my over sized refrigerator is adorned with cuteness, and I couldn’t be happier with the quality.

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thank you Hearth + Stickygram for this unexpected gift

things that I miss

I’m so thankful for the separation we had from day-to-day life. It made coming back so hard, and I’m still adjusting. Still processing my thoughts, feelings, and photos. So this won’t be the last time you’ll hear of this place.

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watching my handsome man assemble and test my beautiful custom fishing pole. we spent months picking out each piece that I would use.

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roadtrips with this man are buckets of fun. I tried cheddar + caramel Bugles! and they were actually GOOD! he and katie-kins also gave me a lesson in country music, and because of them I feel a little more Texan now.  I’ve now learned that my favorite country musicians are those with the worst alcohol and drug abuse pasts. thanks y’all!

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the cutest cafe in Westcliffe, Co. where Simba had puppy ice cream and then threw it all up. they weren’t even mad! and they cleaned it up!

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our adorable cabins, and Mt. Elbert Lodge for being awesome. who knew twenty/thirty-somethings could all share a bathroom without any issues whatsoever?!

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just past our front door was this perfect babbling stream. i woke up to it’s gorgeous songs every morning.

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Twin Lakes, Co. you’re just gorgeous, but you don’t have many fish. so I love and kind of hate you. but mostly love you.

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mountains + meadows. you made me sweat, scratched me, scared me, and awed me with your beauty.

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katie-kins. you humbled me. I thought I was definitely going to catch the most fish, but 40 is more than 7. so you win. and you looked fabulous doing it.  (as always)

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the only time it’s appropriate to wake me up before it’s sunny is if we can experience views like these.  dearest j, I hope you got your fill.

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jakey-poo thank you for letting me crash your solo fly fishing party so I could take pictures. It was nice hanging out and not having to say anything to each other.

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making it to the top of Blue Lake was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever done. 2+ hours of steep terrain and 1+ hours of meadow/marsh made me so very tired, but so very proud. it was worth it for the view.

to be continued

colorado: packing flannel and preparing my heart

You know that rush you get when you hop on a plane for the first time headed towards a city you’ve always dreamed of visiting? Or the thoughts that go through your mind when you meet someone you just know is going to play a big role in your life? The “I don’t know what’s going to happen but my whole life is about to change” feeling? Yeah I’ve had a major case of this for about 3 months. Thoughts of gorgeous landscapes, hours spent fishing, and a full t e n  d a y s away from the monotony of day-to-day life have had me all but salivating. So I’ve packed like six flannel shirts and the cutest hiking boots I ever did see. My beanies are going to get some serious use and they’re definitely going to come back smelling like campfire. Did I mention no cell service or wifi? Yesssssss.

I’ve had to prepare my heart for this trip. When I’m there, I plan on taking myself on a date in the woods. Just me, my cameras, and my thoughts. You see it’s been a verrry long time since I was able to sit down and be real with myself. Although I was never this way as a child/teen, I’ve turned into the type of person who bottles things up until they become too much of a problem to handle with rationality and poise, so I end up having a neurotic breakdown about things that shouldn’t have been that big of a deal in the first place. It’s an unhealthy habit that has also allowed stress and cynicism to creep into the corners of my heart where I’ve never allowed them to roost before. There’s a lot of priorities to shift around, and a thing or two I need to let myself finally cry about. There’s things I need to forgive others for, as well as myself. I haven’t surrounded myself in quiet and peace outside of the yoga studio. So I decided t’s time to change how I do a few things. And there might be a little of this.

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bringing some of the kids

How could I not come home changed after being surrounded by so much natural beauty? And so many positive people? I’ll be in the company of 16 of them who love each other like crazy. Guys who set an example for one another, and women who uplift each other. I am constantly astounded by the way J’s family gets along. He and his three brothers are literally like best friends. His aunts and uncle are so loving and good. His parents adore each other. And his grandma… oh, that little southern belle. She is one of the kindest and most genuine women I have ever had the pleasure of being around. Her love is light a tight hug and hot chocolate with those tiny marshmallows on top. You know, like Christmas in a cup.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Colorado (as I’ve been a good girl and tried not to plan too much), but I do know my time there will change me. I hope to walk away with wisdom, peace in my heart, and some whiskey-laced memories.

And definitely photos.

jackie + jason: an atlanta engagement

I shoulda coulda woulda started a blog sooner, but I can be super lazy when it comes to committing to something that involves technology. I waited 4 years to get wifi at my house, and I STILL refuse to get cable. I think part of me wants to stick it to the man, and the other part just doesn’t want to keep up with the new versions of everything that come out every other month. However, one bit of technology that I can’t do without is a little app called instagram. I’ve “met” so many incredible photographers and friends through that silly little app and have had the incredible fortune to be able to actually meet some of them in person. After 2+ years of penpal-ing, skype chats, phone calls, and IG stalking I was finally able to meet my dear friend Jackie (@jk2011) and her fiancé Jason.

They met on IG, fell in love in New Jersey, and they’ll officially begin their new life together in May when they get married at this gem in Atlanta. I flew down at the end of June to take their engagement photos, and I was so happy with how they turned out! We spent the better part of our Saturday together running around to all the gorgeous spots around the city and I fell IN LOVE with Octane Coffee, which is now added to my list of favorite places ever. Congratulations again guys, I can’t wait to be a part of y’alls big day next year!

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Canon 5D Mark ii + 50mm f/1.8

getaway: or stop trying to plan out every detail of your life you big dummy

I’m typically an over-analytic planner, but I’ve surprised myself lately and found that the best memories are made on a whim. That’s exactly what happened earlier this year when J + I made a last minute venture down to our dear friend Jordan’s family ranch just outside of Austin. We had no real plans except to raid The Czech Stop on our way there and back. It was a glorious April weekend in Texas. We lazily chatted over coffee in the mornings, while afternoons were spent exploring the wooded acreage and gathering wood from Mesquite trees for an aromatic evening fire. My best friend Alyssa joined us for a day during our getaway and hers is the gorgeous face sprinkled through out these photos. (Love you dearly!)

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home

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It was a rejuvenating mini-trip that left us smiling the whole way back to Dallas. I’ve kicked myself for every previous trip I badmouthed because of “poor planning”. I seriously needed to slow it down and take a massive chill pill. That weekend was exactly what I needed, and I’m so thankful for our friends and the joy these little experiences have left in my heart.

Also: Colorado in 3 days. THREE. DAYS. Trying not to mentally plan out everything with this getaway has been tough, but worth it I’m sure.

august vibes

In one week we will be in Colorado with 16 members of J’s family tucked away in the hills beneath Mount Elbert. (insert girl scream!) We’ve had the cabins booked since Christmas and the countdown has been happening ever since. This trip is going to be an incredible opportunity to relax and spend time with those we love in a place they love so much. I plan on bringing my three favorite children: the Mamiya 645 AFD (should be getting here next week), the Mark ii, and of course the Polaroid 340. I can’t wait to share the beauty we’ll be surrounded by during our time there!

In eager anticipation I decided to create a mood board. Yes, I am one of those girls. You probably remember me from high school, any flat portable surface was adorned with magazine cutouts to make ridiculously girly collages. Is it silly so wish my life would adhere to moodboards and exquisite color palettes?

august moodboard numbers

 1 + I recently fell in love with the hand lettering of Scott Tulgetske

2 + impatiently patiently waiting for The Kinfolk Table to release

3 + this amazing Oji Masanori Kami Mug

4 + hopelessly searching for the artist behind these gorgeous jade ceramics

5 + dying to take mountain man pictures of J

6 + this Yield planter box may or may not have inspired me to tackle a DIY version soon

7 + wishing I had red hair and DYING for this green Celine scarf

8 + we’ll be taking road trip photos soon

9 + it’s safe to say I have a massive girl-crush on Mimi Thorisson and this Médoc Traou Mad recipe

10 + this needs to be in our kitchen, wouldn’t ya say J?

11 + NRDC’s article on easy indoor gardening got me excited for yet another weekend DIY

desperately seeking solitude: or how love found me

I think we’re all jaded in one way or another. Aren’t we?

For a while I had a string of unhealthy relationships that depleted my confidence and gave me a completely incorrect impression of what real love looks and feels like. I settled (and settled bad) because I couldn’t find what I wanted in a man. I defended flaws in my partners that I shouldn’t have, and allowed myself to be talked to in ways that were inexcusable. I stifled the parts of my personality that weren’t appreciated and pleaded guilty in most arguments just to avoid a bigger fight. I even had to defend the way I dressed because my personal motto of “modest is hottest” didn’t fly with one guy. I cried myself to sleep most nights and stayed at work later and later just to have less time around the person I grew to fear. I compromised, I kept quiet, I slowly lost my identity and hope. I felt stuck. (Oh! How wrong I was!)

When I discovered photography all the sudden my world lit up with endless possibilities. I used the hobby to spend time alone after work, driving my Volvo station wagon up and down back roads finding abandoned farm homes and gorgeous landscapes that swept me away from reality for just a bit. It was therapeutic to my heart, and gave me the fresh air and clarity I’d been lacking. The guy hated my hobby. Thought it was a waste of time. Didn’t like the community of photographers I was becoming friends with.  But photography instilled a sense of pride in me and gave me purpose. Slowly it began to bring back the parts of me I hid for so long. Happiness was a merely a breakup and shutter click away.

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one of my first + favorite photos

I tried to break it off nicely, got my own place and moved on, swearing to only cohabitate with kittens and polaroids for at least 5 years. I filled my home with beautiful music, collected furniture, took up baking and dived further into the craft that gave me hope. I purged unhealthy friendships, mended strained relationships with certain family members and began to feel life fall into exactly what it was supposed to be. It was all wonderful. I wanted to do things right and give myself time to heal. I didn’t want to date anyone. I was learning to be happy.

They say you find love when you’re not looking, and in early November love showed up in an English pub wearing a disarming smile and basketball shorts exactly when I didn’t want him to. A mutual friend had been telling me about this dreamy dude, “you two would be so perfect together it’s sick” she said “just meet him once” she said. I avoided meeting for a month, but one night she insisted on going out. Soon she was at my door, approved of a navy button-down dress and crochet tights, and we were out. I had no idea until we got to the pub that she invited him and he would be on his way soon. Trying my best not to be completely disinterested in this matchmaking, I got a basket of fries and a tall glass of Stella. We laughed, people watched, and then he walked in.

My cavalier attitude melted away immediately. All three of us sat at the bar and conversation flowed easily. He had 3 brothers. (I had three sisters, plus three more I was about to meet next week) He went to Oklahoma State. (I went there too) He lived in Plano. (Right across the street from where I played and coached volleyball for years) He liked to laugh. (So did I) We got along effortlessly. I could tell he had a good heart and kind intentions. The next week he asked me to lunch, where he then asked me to go on a QUADRUPLE date with his brothers and their respective ladies (talk about pressure on a first date!) at the Baylor vs. Texas Tech game and we’ve been nearly inseparable since.

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our anniversary at the baylor vs. texas tech game 2012

There isn’t a shred of doubt in my mind that I made the right decision to date him before I was fully mended. It wasn’t how I planned my transition to go, but when do plans ever work out how you want? He quickly became my best friend and my hearts protector. He’s shown me every single day what true and unselfish love looks like: completely void of dishonest intention and jealousy.

So I guess this is actually more of a thank you to the bad egg(s) I had to throw out. You taught me so much about what WASN’T right in a relationship, and as a result I’ve been able to develop and maintain a healthy partnership with someone who not only values me for exactly who I am and encourages me to pursue whatever I want, but also loves my family like his own. My heart has healed in it’s own way and I have hope for a continuing future of this incredible, radical love.

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love you j, always.

(thanks veronica for the photo)

instant crush: or how I fell in love with film photography.

I love film. Ironically, the endless talent on instagram, led me to find incredible film photographers like Jose Villa, Chris Kale, Jon Duenas, Parker Fitzgerald, and Jarrod Renaud. I fell in love with the authenticity in their images, and the beautiful unique feeling film gives. I feel like you can truly gauge the artists eye and personality when looking at their tangible work. Everything is unique, everything is raw. I was hooked on the style, the array of tones, and the expertise these men must have in order to execute such incredible photographs. Call me a fangirl. (I am) Everyone asks me why I choose to shoot film even though I’ve got a whole digital set up, and honestly I’m not entirely sure. I think I’m the kind of girl who’s drawn to old things. Like records, old leather luggage, films from the 40s, I think it was a only matter of time until I felt the film world pull at my skirt. When I said I was on old lady at heart, I wasn’t kidding.

Now I’m not an authority on film or film cameras at all, so please don’t let this post fool you. I learn with each exposure, and I learn slow. But this love is true, and this love is a deep. I refuse to give up trying and the mistakes I’ve made previously have not been repeated (knock on wood). At the moment my heart belongs to my Polaroid 340 Land Camera. J was out of town on at his brothers bachelor party down in the gulf last year, and I decided to take myself on a date. After gorging myself on gourmet mac & cheese (thank you Square Burger!) and yummy beer I walked to one of our many antique shops in Downtown McKinney. I knew nothing about land cameras at the time, but I saw the 340 and fell in love. The shop owner didn’t know if it was in working condition, and for $30 I didn’t care, if it didn’t work, I planned on incorporating it into my decor. It was worth the gamble. Turns out the only thing wrong with it was the battery compartment corroded and needed to be converted to hold AA batteries rather than the old, discontinued ones it used to take. Nothing my dear friend Chris Kale from Snap It | See It couldn’t rig up! I haven’t taken too many shots since I’ve gotten it back because I don’t like wasting exposures and the focus on this thing is something I’m not quite used to yet. But I’m determined to get it down.

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backyard wilderness

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las colinas, texas

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Holy hyperlinks on this post, right? I’ll be posting more once I get a better scanner. This one isn’t ideal.

stay(work)cation: or how I found gratefulness

This week granted me the opportunity to spend time with work-friends from Australia, and a weekend at the Omni Mandalay in Las Colinas for an event I had the privilege to photograph. It unexpectedly became a nice getaway from the house/office. J and I had lots of cuddles and jokes to catch up on after 3+ days, which made coming home much, much sweeter. Have I mentioned how lucky I am to have him? I am.

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lunch with masa + miguel @ the pantry restaurant in downtown mckinney

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morning light at the omni

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a glimpse of what the event was like

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my favorite view at the omni

Lately I’ve been overwhelmed with the projects and ambitious tasks I volunteer myself for. It’s made me grumpy and restless, feeling trapped by the opportunities rather than embracing them and allowing myself to feel grateful. Deep down, I know I’m not restless. In fact I’m quite content with where things are headed in my life, but I haven’t granted myself the opportunity to actually enjoy the progress I’ve made personally and professionally. The moment I reach the next step, I’m worrying about how I’m going to get further. Do better. After Day 1 of the event, I walked my tired limbs up to my room that boasted a curved balcony with a striking view of Las Colinas’ busy business district. I made myself some sweet chamomile tea, popped on the history channel, and slipped into my comfy robe from home. Between the view and the robe, gratefulness was inevitable and just a deep breath away. I let it wash over me.

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room with a view

I’m positive I’ll feel unsettled and thankless in the future, I let things get to me more than I should, But I hope I can look back and remember how good it felt to acknowledge the beauty right in front of me. Cliché, but so very true.