halfway flasback : june

I loved this picture and this lesson and this post. A prefect way to wrap up June’s Making Things Happen series!

Here is the crux of Making Things Happen, at least for me:

You have to be willing to let go of what you want to make happen.

Case in point:

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my apartment, working furiously on blogging and emailing and job searching and to-do listing. I had a pile of projects to get done before the night was over and I was bound and determined to finish them. Friday Night Lights was on in the background and I was perfectly content to productively wile the evening away.

I looked up from my laptop and noticed that the sunset was casting gorgeous colors on the bathroom shower tile. I had an internal debate about whether or not to Instagram the scene (“It’s so pretty!” “Really, no one wants to see your shower.” “But the colors!” “But seriously…it’s a shower.”) and decided in the end to snap a quick picture and post it:

Done! Pretty! Back to the to-do list!

But I couldn’t help but look outside at the sunset…wondering what it really looked like…not just what it looked like reflecting off of bathroom tile. I’d look out the window and then get back to work. And then repeat. And then repeat. There was this nagging feeling that I should do what’s most important: value the real beauty, not the productivity.

I knew I wanted to go see the sunset. But I did not want to go see the sunset, for a laundry list of reasons. Namely:

  • I did not want to leave my apartment (hello, have you seen Tim Riggins?!)
  • I did not want to leave my parking space and have to find a new one
  • I did not want to stop progress
  • I did not want to take pictures and have to edit them after
  • I did not want to make the effort

In the end…the sunset won. At the last possible moment I ran out of my apartment, out to the car, and drove up to Cobb’s Hill to see this:

A gorgeous sunset over a city I love and a memory I’ll have forever.

I was so glad I made the effort.

So to review, what I wanted for myself was this:

What God wanted for me was this:

Clearly, we have a winner.

When I get stuck inside of my own plans, I get left with only what I can do for myself. What’s easy, what’s comfortable, what’s right in front of me. That night, all I wanted was to check things off of my to-do list. I was content with a shower stall sunset.

But when I respond to what’s tugging at my heart, to the things that God gently guides me to, I get so much more. SO much more! Things I never could have dreamed on my own. I’ve always loved the verse from Ephesians that reminds us that God is capable of doing “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” It’s so true.

It’s important to do the hard work to make things happen – to have a plan, to take action steps, to look fear in the face, to have big dreams. But I think it’s most important to allow plenty of room for God to make things happen for us – immeasurably more than all we could ask or imagine.


halfway flashback : february

Baking, friends, and food photography. Does it get any better? Love this post!

I think this post is going to be my valentine this year. I love it that much.

My love for whoopie pies knows no bounds. It’s almost as intense as my love for shoo fly pie. But just almost.

Also, why is Pennsylvania fond of naming non-pie desserts as pie? Whoopie pies? Basically hand-held cake. Shoo fly pie? Basically cake with frosting on the bottom. Dear PA, perhaps we need to have a cake vs. pie tutorial. I’ll be happy to provide examples. And help sample.

But that’s neither here nor there. The important thing is that Valentine’s baking + Saturday morning + a wonderful friend  =

A pretty perfect day.

These bright red beauties came from a recipe recently featured on Annie’s Eats. As always, she did not disappoint.

Also not disappointing: a free e-book! If you are feeling a bit unprepared for your big Valentine’s date tonight (as in: you have no idea what you’ll be doing 8 hours from now) check out my friend Carrie’s free e-book 101 Cheap Dates. It’s sure to give you the inspiration you need for planning tonight’s festivities (and 100 other exciting date nights, too)!

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

staying creative : desperate fridge dinner winner

This week’s picture comes with a recipe! It’s a 2 for 1 deal!

So last night. Dinner. Go out? No. Smoothie bowl? Been there, done that, more times than I remember…this week. Something healthy? And easy? And using up old groceries? YES.

I had frozen salmon in the freezer and quinoa in the pantry. The spinach and arugula expired a few days ago but what’s in a stamped date? Everything else was added on the fly.

Winner, winner, desperate fridge dinner!


Spinach and Arugula salad base

For the quinoa:

  • 1/4 cup quinoa dry, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sliced scallions (about 2 Tbsp)
  • fresh parsley (about 2 Tbsp)
  • fresh ground garlic salt to taste

For the salmon:

  • 4 oz. salmon filet
  • 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar


Boil the quinoa until water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. When just a little water remains, turn the heat off and let sit, covered, for another 5 minutes or so. Fluff with fork and add remaining ingredients.

While the quinoa is boiling, whisk together the maple syrup, mustard, and vinegar for the salmon glaze. Coat a grill pan with non-stick spray and heat to medium-high before adding the salmon. Cook each side for 4-6 minutes, adding glaze as you flip.

Make a bed with the salad, add the quinoa, and top with the salmon.

Healthy old groceries dinner in under 30 minutes.

As Nike would say, BOOM.

making things happen (not) monday : big action steps, big lessons

I’ve been making things happen over the past few days! Just not a blog post.

BUT…I decided to tackle the boulder that has been wedged between me and most of the other things on my to-do list: getting the pictures on my laptop under control. This is my action item that I’ve been dreading for MONTHS (literally…in fact, almost a full year), and no matter how many steps I broke it into, I just couldn’t get started.

It’s a beast for two reasons: 1. I have about 15,000 pictures that were never sorted properly – including 4 weddings where I accidentally didn’t remove the cast-offs from the keepers – so sitting down to go through all of them feels about as appealing as sitting in on a calculus class. 2. I need to move my pictures off of my laptop/external hard drive because I have no space left on either. Because I had no idea what I was doing when I started working with RAW files and no idea how to fix it once I figured out what I was doing my originals are all over the place. And now…I have no idea how to organize everything. 2a. I also have no idea how to transfer my photos to another system without turning my pathways into knots and my face into contortions.


Taking on this item is the epitome of The Challenge: JUST DO IT. Mostly because it’s ridiculous that I’ve been avoiding it for nearly a year and also because it really is standing between me and a thousand other things – all of which require hard drive space and pictures that I can find and use.

So I dove in.

And look what I found!!!

All of my favorite long lost photos! These are some of the first pictures I ever took (and those people above and below? some of my favorites, too!):

I found myself saying over and over again, “OH, I love that one!!!” and remembering exactly how I felt when I took the picture and saw it come alive on my computer screen for the first time. Buying a real camera and taking pictures was a transformational experience for me. I saw God’s love through the beauty of His creation at a time in life when love and beauty felt few and far between. Every picture was magic. I cried when I got my first set of prints back! I saw everything in a new light, and I loved it.

You know what I realized when I saw these old pictures…reluctantly? They’re better than the ones I’m taking now. It’s soooo true. It doesn’t matter that I have 3 additional years of experience, better equipment, and more time on my hands to shoot, because somehow, I forgot. I forgot what it feels like to take a picture and not be afraid of making a mistake because all I did in the beginning was guess and make mistakes. I forgot what it feels like to not see something I “have” to shoot for the blog or for a job, but to see God’s love in the beauty He chooses surround us with. I just plum forgot that I really, truly, LOVE taking pictures.

I don’t think that’s necessarily bad. It’s part of the ebb and flow of creative endeavors. And having high and lows means that I have a maturing relationship with photography, not a stagnant one. But remembering why I loved taking pictures back then helped me see why I haven’t loved it in awhile: photography was, and is, the way I see God’s love in action. When it becomes anything other than that, it becomes less than what it was intended to be. It loses it’s redeeming power.

What a tidy revelation tucked into an action step!

It’s these little lessons that make doing the hard work worthwhile, sometimes even more than the work in and of itself.

(P.s. If any of you know how to mitigate this photo transfer situation, I’d pay you in a lifetime supply of baked goods if you could help me figure it out. For real.)


Have you signed up for The Challenge?! If not, here’s your chance!

1. Comment here or on ANY Making Things Happen Monday Post to let me know that you are doing The Challenge.

2. DO The Challenge! It’s a 10 Step process that will set you up for success in every area of life.

3.  During The Challenge, you will receive email encouragement from me and a nice surprise in the mail when you successfully complete all 10 Steps (and you will successfully complete all 10 Steps!).

4. One lucky duck will win a prize package, announced at the completion of The Challenge.

Time is starting to run out, so let’s get moving!!!

wedding wednesdays : 6.6.12



I’m about to go into full-fledged gushing mode. We’re going for quality over quantity this week and let me tell you…there is some fabulous quality up ahead!

I was a little surprised to see a Rochester wedding featured on Style Me Pretty. I was a lot surprised when I began to scroll through the post and realized that I knew the bride!!! I was NOT AT ALL surprised that her wedding turned out as it did: a beautifully coordinated day full of vintage charm and meaningful details. Congratulations, Jenna!!! I’m so happy for you!

image credit : t & s hughes photography

post credit : style me pretty new york

The one starts out with a bang: just take a look at those invitations! And then that bouquet! And then the flowered arch! And seriously…I can’t even talk about the cake. (But if you want to spend the rest of your day in sugar-themed dreams, just check out the bakery’s website.)

San Juan Capistrano wedding

San Juan Capistrano wedding

illustrated wedding menuSweet and Saucy Shop wedding cake

image credit : KLK photography

post credit : 100 layer cake

This wedding…OH, this wedding! From start to finish it makes me jump up and down and squeal in delight. If I could put every single picture in this post I would, but since I can’t I have to implore you to go check it out for yourselves in full detail right now. It’s absolutely one of my favorite weddings EVER!

image credit : the reason

post credit : southern weddings

wedding wednesdays : 5.30.12

We’re doing something a little different for Wedding Wednesdays today. Instead of sharing gorgeous weddings, I want to share the gorgeous work of some of my very favorite photographers. Just because they’re AMAZING! These people are talented, committed to their craft, and they work HARD. That combination results in the heart-leaping-out-of-your-chest beauty you’ll find on each of their websites and blogs.

Seriously, your day will be better if you take a few minutes to take a peek through their eyes:

amy paulson

(you need to see these!)

gina zeidler

(you need to see these!)

love the schultzes

(you need to see these!)

nancy noble

(you need to see these!)

nancy ray

(you need to see these!)

ryan estes

(you need to see these!)

shannon nicole smith

(you need to see these!)