OK, so… WHOA.

I should be posting about how LJ turned one at the end of last month. Or about the fun rustic cowboy/cowgirl birthday party I threw for her and her dad. Or the photos I took of our Christmas decor. Or the sweet NYE photo we took with our friends the Pirates. Or a recap of 2010 complete with a gushing letter to LJ about how fast this past year has gone and that I can't believe how fast she's grown. Or her first word or first steps. Or the bazillions of pictures I've taken with full intentions to post them here. However, having come off the most insanely busy month OF MY LIFE, I feel as if I need to get everything down on paper or laid out in front of me just to sort through the mess that has become by brain.

One thing is for sure: I can't sustain the kind of pace I did last month and keep my sanity too. Looking back I've learned that I need to work on setting better boundaries to guard my time. I want to simplify things so that I can focus on the things that matter most to me: my work and photography, my family and friends, my home, my husband, time with the Lord, and this precious little face:

IMG_4369
So on that note, this is my entry for this week's I ♥ Faces challenge: Absolute Best Face of 2010. How on earth I was supposed to narrow it down to one picture I don't know, but this is what I chose. This was taken in October at a campground east of the Valley- one of my favorite places to get away when I need peace and quiet and nature and stillness. No matter what, she will always be the Absolute Best Face of 2010 to me.

Advertisements

Shine.

The hubby shared this video with me last night and I think it's just stunning… plus I have always loved this song. And! They used more than 700,000 Light Bright pegs to make it! Totally animation-free! Amazing. And what a sweet and sad and heartwrenching story to go along with it. It made me cry, but then again, I'm a sucker for these things- the song brought tears to my eyes long before I ever saw the video.

Thank you for overcoming this heart of mine, o God.

Shine by David Crowder Band.

http://www.vevo.com/VideoPlayer/Embedded?videoId=US82Y1000066&playlist=false&autoplay=0&playerId=62FF0A5C-0D9E-4AC1-AF04-1D9E97EE3961&playerType=embedded&env=0

Simple living: What would you keep?

This morning there was a feature on the Today Show about a couple in Portland (with a very fun and interesting blog) who gave up all but 100 possessions, downsized to a 400 square foot apartment, and got rid of their car. See below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Of course it got me thinking. We live in such a materialistic society… would we really be happier with less?

My husband has always said that he wants to live simply. And I love the idea, but to be honest, I also love stuff. How shallow am I? Ha! But for a while I have been wanting to clean house. So here's my top ten list of things that I absolutely would not give up if I were forced to get rid of everything else besides the bare essentials (which includes at least one car- we live in the most sprawling city in the country- not to mention the hottest!- so a car is a must- even more so with a baby!):

1. My iMac. I make my living by this thing- not to mention it houses all of our music and photographs!

2. My camera.

3. My sewing machine.

IMG_1385

4. My Amma's china set. She bought it one piece at a time while she was working hard and living in Iceland. Priceless!

IMG_1377

5. These two Bibles (yes, I'm cheating): the first I carried down the aisle on our wedding day. The second belonged to Mum Mum.

IMG_1392 

IMG_1399

6. The artwork that our friend Trish painted that was displayed at our wedding.

IMG_1397

7. My Hummell music box… it's beaten up and cracked and worth nothing to anyone but me, but I used to fall asleep to its music every night when I was a kid. It's now in LJ's room.

IMG_1379

8. This photo of Mum Mum and me.

IMG_1389

9. Henry. 

IMG_1387 

10. This silhouette of Linnea:

IMG_1403

I'll tell you what, this exercise sure does make you realize how much crap is sitting around in your house that is completely ignored and also makes you realize that perhaps you don't need all this stuff after all. But then again, even though we could get rid of so many things and never miss them, it's hard to imagine a virtually empty house… my head might explode. Is that wrong? Maybe we need a smaller house so it will feel more full with only the things we need… hmmm… I don't know. Either way, I prefer to live in a home that has character because of its decor. Do I need the decor? Nope. But because it's something I personally love- to be surrounded by beauty- it's meaningful enough to me to warrant staying in my home. Cody and I also love entertaining- so that requires a fair amount of kitchen ware and enough place settings for everyone. It's all a matter of what your priorities are- and that's different for everyone.

It's the things sitting in my closet that I haven't seen in ages that I question. And lots of other things.

Stuff isn't what makes me happy ultimately… it isn't what makes anyone happy. My family and friends and the experiences we share together are what bring me joy, and I'm sure you would say the same of your own. I think it's about time to start cleaning out our closets, organizing, and passing along the things we don't really need to others who would appreciate and have a need for them.

So what are your thoughts on this? What are some of the things you would never give up?

p.s. I think I would die without a car in Portland. Have you BEEN there? SO MUCH TO DO AND EXPLORE.

My new lover.

I have a confession to make: I'm cheating on my husband.

I've been saying for a while now that I DESPERATELY NEEEEEEEEEEEEEDED a DSLR camera because I NEEEEEEEEEEED to be able to take the BEST pictures POSSIBLE of Linnea while she's growing up.

That's my excuse, anyway. 

We have a great point-and-shoot camera that Cody's mom gave us for our anniversary- we absolutely love it and take it with us everywhere. I officially caught the SLR camera bug when I went to my mom and dad's house and came across this beauty:

Vitomatic
My grandpa's old Voigtlander Vitomatic II that he bought in Germany back in 1958.

No idea how to use it. All I kept hearing from my parents was, "It takes the most GORGEOUS pictures EVER," but didn't have time for a crash course on how to use a fully manually operated camera. As a consolation prize, I dug out my old 35mm Canon EOS Rebel 2000 SLR
(that I bought waaaaaay back in 1999 when I was a photography major for a semester) and took it with us up to Flagstaff for a day trip.

Four rolls of film, one set of camera batteries and $53 later, we had our developed pictures back the next day. And don't get me wrong- they were great. But some of them were underexposed. Some were overexposed. Some weren't framed right. Sure, I could mail in the negatives to a scanning shop and get the negatives on disk… at $0.69 a pop. Needless to say… I loved shooting with this camera, but it was starting to get ridiculously expensive.

So we finally did it. I had already been researching cameras and decided on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i AND I LOVE IT. It was a HUGE splurge, but to me it was worth every penny we have to pinch in the meantime. I'm still learning how to use it, and so far it has taken some amazing pictures. Meet my lover, Leon:

Canon t2i

I know the basics, but I will be DEVOURING the tutorials on The Pioneer Woman

So what if my kid was the perfect excuse to get a fancy camera? She's the perfect subject. Can you blame me for wanting the best photos possible of the two loves of my life?

IMG_0375 

Sorry, Leon. As exciting as you are and as much fun as we have together, I'll never leave him for you.

Know any fun photography tutorials? Share them here!

Goodwill finds.

I am not ashamed to admit it: I LOVE GOODWILL. Linnea and I went there yesterday just for kicks, and I totally scored! All it takes is a little time, a discerning eye, and a little bit of fashion inspiration (mine was the July issue of InStyle). I found a book I've been wanting to read for a while, a like-new pair of strappy nude heels (for $5!!!), a denim shirtdress, a floral belt, four tops, two pairs of shorts, a denim mini with a pleated ruffle bottom, and two adorable summery outfits for the small one. Here are a couple of outfit ideas that have been floating around. These are very similar to my new finds:

Denim Dress

I love the idea of pairing a bright belt with nude shoes. And my Amma gave me a gorgeous silver tassel necklace for my birthday… love it.

Plaid top

I found some killer wedges very similar to these at anthropologie over the weekend- not only were they on clearance, I had my birthday discount as well! I love that place. My fashionista friend Alex gave me a similar ring to the one above for my birthday… chunky rings are a favorite of mine!


chiffon shirt

I love all things vintage and girly… so when I found a cute, ruffly, floral chiffon top to pair with the jeans I planned to turn into cutoffs, I decided I must head out to find the perfect sun hat to wear with them as well.

Anyway… just some ideas. I have to work on accessorizing better, but it's a lot of fun finding random things and putting together a cute outfit!

The One With the House.

I am loving my friend Katie's new blog, The One With the House. This dear woman moved back to Portland a couple of years ago after a four-year stint in sunny Arizona. She recently bought her first home and her blog is documenting the progress. I have to say… I'm a little jealous. Scratch that- totally jealous! What a fun project! 

Katie's house

Not only is she gutting and completely remodeling an old home in one of my favorite cities, she knows how to GARDEN. And she'll have her own CHICKENS. Yep. I adore that about her- she's always been so crafty and DIY and I wish she lived here still so I can learn awesome things from her! However, I think if we tried to keep chickens in this heat, they would roast alive in our backyard. Save us a step, I suppose.

Anyway, I just wanted to share her link because it's so much fun and I'm totally missing her these days. She's been there for some of my favorite times of my 20s, and I can't wait to go visit her so I can catch a glimpse into this amazing life she's building for herself!

Dang it… all of my closest friends have moved away from us. Doesn't change that they are my closest friends, but… perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if we up and moved to Nashville after all. I'd just have to convince my family to come along too.

Rainbow party inspiration.

So… my twenties are almost over. (Single tear.) Kind of crazy to think that such an eventful decade is finally coming to a close. Looking back, it was quite a whirlwind. I know that my 30s will bring even more change and blessings, and with life flying by faster than ever before, I'll be raising a glass to making the most of it with my family and friends… in ten days!

Ever since I was a kid, I have LOVED rainbows. I used to have rainbow necklace charms, rainbow sheets, rainbow unicorns (yes, life was all rainbows and unicorns when I was a kid). As an adult, I still love rainbows… and now I love beer. So why not combine the two? And throw in some awesome cake while we're at it? The first time I saw the Rainbow Party Collection at TKS I knew that I HAD to have those at my party! Here are some other fun inspiration photos:

Rainbow cake By the Whisk Kid via Martha Stewart

Rainbow cake 2Via Omnomicon.com

Rainbow cake 3 And THAT would be the cake of my dreams… via I Am Mommy.

Rainbow oreos Photo from one of our sweet customers at TKS!

Rainbow dessert table A lovely display via TKS.

Rainbow plates Ikea plates found on HowDoesShe.com!

Rainbow tutu Rainbow tutu via Joy and Me. I already made Linnea's!

So needless to say, I am super stoked to plan this party! Is it sad that I'm planning my own? Haha! Normally I would say yes, but instead I say two things: While my hubby is hosting, I don't expect him to know anything about decorating for a rainbow-themed party- or ANY party, for that matter. BUT. The man can bake amazing cupcakes. Secondly, I work for one of the best party planners in the country- it's not like I don't have a wealth of inspiration right at my fingertips!

So, tomorrow I will be sewing, searching, brainstorming, and planning the dessert table. I've never done this before, but I have so many fun ideas and have fallen in LOVE with the whole party planning process, so I can't wait to see how everything comes together! Wish me luck…