Ordination: Steve Tamayo

It's not too often that I post personal things on here anymore (I really should write more) - however, I had the honor of documenting a few photos for the church plant (Crossway Church) that my husband and I are apart of. This past Sunday, we had an ordination service for one of our staff members - Steve Tamayo.

I can remember what a pivotal moment it was years ago at my husband's ordination service to receive that blessing and acknowledgement of his (really, your) commitment to ministry and heart for the church. Many influential people who had shaped Jimmy over the years were able to pray over him. It really was a beautiful moment.

My husband and I are insanely lucky to know Steve and his wife, Amy. Not only are they hilarious and fun, but they have a deep commitment to the local church and the people that they minister to on a daily basis. They are two of the most loyal, non-judgemental people on the planet. They are good listeners. They offer sound, godly advice. They are wonderful parents to their two boys, and talented team mates in ministry. It's a privilege to know them.

We are proud of you, Steve (and Amy). The best is yet to come!



What I'm Reading

When I was little, I absolutely adored reading. I would finish my schoolwork and then sit in my bed and read the afternoon away. Fiction was my favorite, with autobiographies were a close second. 

Now that I'm a wife and mom of a full-blown toddler, I don't the luxury of long, drawn-out, uninterrupted time that I did in the past. More often than not, I have to bypass on reading in order to get tasks done, or my eyes are just too tired to put effort into a book. After a few months of reading nothing, I decided to discipline myself and kick it into gear. Yes, discipline. Make time. At the moment, my favorite way to read these days is in my front yard during naptime (with the monitor, of course). Having the sun on my shoulders and a cold iced tea in a tumbler with lots of ice is my idea of a perfect reading scenario.

The act of reading has changed a lot since I was a kiddo. Books are still a big part of my reading, but for light reading, I've stacked my GoogleReader with tons of blogs ranging from photography, style/fashion, to regular moms who blogs about their life. 


Here's are the books and blogs I'm reading right now:


>> Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequiest - I picked up this book a long time ago and I'm currently re-reading it. I love the descriptive, tangible way Shauna writes about her life lessons she's learned along the way. This book is a memoir. It helps me. Re-orients me. It causes me look for the little things to appreciate in life again. Sometimes things get a little crazy over here and the details get lost in the shuffle. 

“But this is what I'm finding, in glimpses and flashes: this is it. This is it, in the best possible way. That thing I'm waiting for, for that adventure, that movie-score-worthy experience unfolding gracefully. This is it. Normal, daily life ticking by on our streets and sidewalks, in our houses and apartments, in our beds and at our dinner tables, in our dreams and prayers and fights and secrets - this pedestrian life is the most precious thing any of us will ever experience.” 


>> Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic - Oh, y'all. Y'all. Did this book come at an ever perfect time. I got it as a recommendation from my friend Brittany. Here's the truth: Motherhood is hard. Really hard. And it's even harder when you have a toddler who is getting disciplined constantly, has needs, and emotions all over the spectrum, but can't necessary speak full words to communicate. It's very easy to get a defeated attitude when nothing seems to be working. This book is both and encouragement to me and a HUGE attitude check. This is a must-read for all mommies, in my opinion.

Some nuggets:

“God treats us with great kindness as we fail daily.  He takes the long view of our sin- knowing that every time we fail and repent, we grow in our walk with Him.  It is easy for us to accept this, because our sins are, well, ours.

But our children sin against us, annoy us, and mess up our stuff.  We want to hold it against them, complain about them (if only to ourselves), and feel put upon by their sin.  We have a much harder time accepting that every failure from them is a wonderful opportunity for repentance and growth and not an opportunity for us to exact penance.”

“The more children you have the more you need to be pastorally minded. Look to each of their souls and their needs. If you are focused on upkeep of the house and the schedule, as long as your child is not interrupting that, you don’t worry about it. If you are being a parent who is pastorally minded you will stop whatever it is that you are doing to go see how your daughter is up in her bedroom. Has she been quiet lately? Was that a faint door-slam you heard in the distance? Find out about that. Did one of your kids seem a touch off as they went outside to sit in a tree? Don’t let that go. Be a pastor to your children. Study them. Seek them out. Sacrifice the thing you were doing to work through minor emotional issues.”


Kendi Everyday - This girl. She is stylish, smart, and hilariously witty. This is probably my favorite style blog out of all the others out there. I love all of her daily outfit posts. Her blog series on learning how to Work Your Closet is so easy to implement and helps you find your personal style with what you've got. This blog is MONEY.

Natalie Norton - Natalie Norton is a photographer from Arizona who has a wonderful sense of writing. She's currently vacationing with her family in Hawaii and has been taking the most incredible photos of her kids on the shores of Oahu. I follow her blog, Twitter, and Instagram. (Haha. Overkill?) My friend Sarah introduced this blog to me a few months ago. Actually, she encouraged me to read Natalie's journey through losing her son, Gavin, to pertussis in 2010 on her old blog. I read through her entire blog tag "Baby Gavin" one afternoon and cried. And cried. And cried. She writes all of her daily emotions, anger, confusion. It's a heavy read, to be sure, and I would recommend starting from the beginning, when he was in the hospital... but so good. So, so good. 

Rockstar Diaries - Um. So. Basically? I'm obsessed with this cute little family from Washington D.C. Naomi (the mother and writer) makes me want to wear bright lipstick every day and take photos of my little babe at every corner. And go to cool museum and play in fountains. And master a top knot. Love love LOVE this blog.

And just because I know you came here for a photo, here's one I took of Rowan the other day :)

This girl is my heart and my soul. My reason.


What are you reading lately?



In the middle of March, Jimmy and I took a trip to New York City for four days to refuel, relax, and just be together. To be quite honest, the most relaxing thing to my husband is city life and coffee. The most relaxing thing for me is shopping. We would probably drive anyone crazy if they were with us. We have an extremely loose agenda, we block ourselves from social media, pack up our film cameras, and wander around without a clear destination. We packed up some Fuji Velvia film and Fuji Reala film in our Canon AE-1 and had it wherever we went.

The first time we went to NYC [October 2010], I was 5 months pregnant and wasn't up to the 8 hour/day walking, but I still did it. I was excited to descend on the city again without any limitations. We walked. And walked. Ate Lombardi's. And walked. And walked some more.

I loved our lazy conversations that laced in and out of our trip, accompanied by coffee, cool air, and getting lost in the city with my beloved.

Here are some photos from our trip :) 

{All photos in this post were SOOC ("straight out of camera" - meaning, there was no post-processing or additional editing done to enhance them.). The red-tinted photos are Velvia, the cool-toned photos are Reala.}




















I really do have the best in-laws and family in the whole world. I love each and every one of them. I love every boisterous gathering. Birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July are my favorite time to get together and just be LOUD.

Tonight, we celebrated Keira's 6th birthday. SIX. Jimmy and I were celebrating our 1.5 year dating anniversary when she was born! She was a little love muffin then and NOW she's a beautiful girlie who has the BIGGEST heart. I even bought her gifts this year from Forever21. True story. WHERE DOES TIME GO?!

I'm so thankful to have beautiful family members to practice on, and also the opportunity to document our family's fun throughout the years. :)



Oh, to have a lifelong best friend at 6 years old. 


Keira and Lexi, you blessed my heart today <3 Friendship is a beautiful thing.


Malia & Maddie stepped in, too.



I love these boys so much. Landon and Caden... you have my heart <3




You. The one who jumps up and down in your crib with glee when I come get you in the morning. The you who downs ice cream like it's no one's business. The adventurous spirit that pursues and fixates on the tiniest thing on the floor until you get it between your chubby fingers.

You. The cuddler. The snuggler. The one who clings to the bottom of my pants to remain steady on her feet (for now).

You. The one who changed my entire life in one moment, with one glance at your writhing, discontent, little red body. The one who kept me up at night and pushed my exhaustion to the limit that I never thought I could reach. The one who I loomed over in wee hours of the night, just to watch you breathe.

You. The sloppy, wet kisses on my cheek and the clingy puff I found on my dress at the end of the day. The little toe prints on my kitchen floor. The mound of toys in the TV room I clean up every. single. night. All you. 

You. The strong-willed, sweet girl you are... I pray for you every day. I pray for compassion, kindness, and gratitude to be your life line, your go-to. I pray for God - Jesus Christ - to be so REAL and so tangible to you at a young age that you wouldn't even recall a day where you weren't a child in God's family.

I loved our first year together. I will love the next one even more.

I love you, Rowan Elisabeth.

I love YOU.







Spring cleaning in the Winter.

It's official - my iPhone hates me. Three weeks ago, I had to clean out my entire phone (photos, apps, videos - everything) because I had reaches it's maximum capacity. I reduced my picture count from over 1,200 to 650. I deleted WAY too many apps that I love (like Cut the Rope - have you ever played that game?! It's ADDICTING). I backed everything up to my external, but I felt like a piece of my heart was gone. I L O V E scrolling through my random pictures when I'm bored at a doctor's office, bored on the couch, bored... you get the idea.

Today, it happened AGAIN. What the what!? I don't know how in the world I re-used that much space... but it happened again. SO frustrating. Again, I went through my pictures and deleted what I could. 

I couldn't help but notice that I take pictures of REALLY random things. I do it because in those moments of boredom, I get a kick out of the random things I see. And today, I'm sharing some with you :)


Have you ever seen an Asian man's bellybutton? Well, now you have. (Coming back from NYC)UM game with my mom, my dad, and my sister. I actually wasn't in this picture because I was in the bathroom... so I have no clue how that hobo with the sunglasses got in there.

Far away capture of me speaking at the ACAAI conference on how to use social media and web developement to your medical practice's advantage.I didn't correct them.

My crushed ice addiction while I was pregnant.

This is me, doing Chris and Natasha's engagement shoot 38 weeks pregnant. Oy.

My last day at the ocean before Rowan. It was a BEAUTIFUL day. I still can't believe I live in paradise!


DIY : Photos on Canvas

So, here's the truth. All my DIY (Do It Yourself) come from me having a huge problem and having to find a solution to fix it.

Current Problem: I take pictures of Rowan all the time and FINALLY had the motivation to print them, so I grabbed my digital negatives and I had TONS of prints done. As a result, my home is full of frame after frame of photos. And I'm tired of it. My honest opinion is that you can only do so many frames on one wall until your photos drown and they lose their *POP* appeal on your wall. Boring, boring, boring. 

Solution! Photo canvas art. It's beautiful and adds another texture and interest to your home decorating. But of course, with this solution came another problem.

Subsequent Problem: Getting a photo canvas done is MAD expensive. Like I'm talking anywhere from $40-$120, depending on the size. To which I say, "What the WHAT?!"

GENIUS Solution! I'll do it myself!

After perusing on Pinterest for awhile, a few friends re-pinned this DIY tutorial for mounting a photo on canvas. This was an absolutely perfect solution to my boring wall woes. I'm on a budget (as most of you are), so this is a fantastic and easy gift to do for others - and it doesn't look "homemade" at all. I wouldn't be putting these on my wall if they didn't look clean, crisp, and somewhat high-end.

I don't have a picture tutorial like above, but I'll show you my end result at the bottom. For a more detailed tutorial, feel free to visit the site listed above. :)


So, let's start with the supplies:

Modge Podge (I used the matte)

Canvases (they sell them in photo sizes - and this 16x20 from Joann's is only $10.79 on sale! CHEAP-O!)

Your photos (have a few copies available in case you mess up). I took a series of photos of Rowan sleeping when she was about three months old. I printed an 8x10 and two 5x7 photos.

A foam brush for the Modge Podge



1. Take your canvas, paint a layer of modge podge on, and let it dry.

2. Paint another layer on, then position your photo on the wet layer of Modge Podge. (Note: this stuff dries QUICK, so have a quick hand)

3. While drying, take the outside of your palm, and smooth the photo CAREFULLY on the modge podge to eliminate any bubbles. Let dry.

4. Add another layer of Modge Podge to the top to seal the photo on. Be sure to stroke all the way from one side to the other completely, and not just go back and forth with your strokes. Otherwise, the modge podge will collect and make clumps on the photo. It has a really cool texture when it finally dries. :) 


The end result:

I included the photo on the right for you to see how the edges look :)


As you can see, the edges don't "wrap" like normal photo canvases, but I'm OK with that. I like this just as much because the edges are so clean.

My grand plan is to buy the wood letters "S-L-E-E-P", paint them white, and mount it on the area above the photos to tie it in :) So cool, right?!

Modge Podge: $3.49

Canvases: $13.29 (for three)

Photos: $7

Brush: Already had it.

Grand total: $20.29 (for THREE!)


And apparently, modge podge can be used for SO MUCH. They even have dedicated blogs to this craft supply. I can't believe I didn't know about this before! My next wall art project will be this. Only I will probably be experiementing with Modge Podge instead of tacky glue because I already have it :)

So, what do you guys think of the end result? :) Have any of you ever done any pojects with Modge Podge? Feel free to share the love! 

Formspring, facebook, and dust.

GUYS!! I absolutely can't believe I'm writing this in the beginning of September. This is crazytown. Having a little babe sure speeds up time... and I also can't stomach the fact that CHRISTMAS is three months away! And Thanksgiving is two months away! And Thanksgiving for our family means.... getting a CHRISTMAS TREE! Oh happy day. Writing "christmas tree" in all caps just made me super stoked for the next few months. Can you feel the excitement?! 

No? Well, how about this...


Speaking of being super-stoked and excited, I have a couple fun, exciting things to announce. (ee!!)

1. Formspring

I have been getting a lot of questions about photography, mommyhood, ministry wife life, you name it from loads of different people. I absolutely adore answering questions about that stuff. Really, I do. However, lots of times they're via FB message or in person. This is fine, except I feel like it would be WAY more fun to have the Q&A's out in the open for all to benefit from. Now, I am NOT saying that I know everything or have it all together. Heck, I'm a newbie mom, a ministry wife of only three years, and have been chasing my photography dream as a profession for almost three years. Not much. 

HOWEVER. Information is meant to be shared, and I'm an open book. A rising tide lifts all ships. It doesn't make sense to keep information to yourself when you might have the potential to help others. This is where Formspring comes in - I haven't used it in a year, but I opened it back up for questions again. You can ask questions anonymously (or non-anonymously) and I'll answer them on that page! Simple as that. If I help even one person, I'll be happy.

2. Facebook

Pretty much, I gave in and got a Facebook page for my photography. I've had my personal page for 5 years now, and it was about time I made a separate one for my work by itself. So, help a sister out and give me a "LIKE". Then tell all your friends, family, and their friends and family to do the same. That would rule.

3. Website Construction

I'm slowly moving things around on my website, so I apologize if things aren't where they usually are, or if a page doesn't exist anymore. I'm doing some re-thinking of the layout and will be getting a new header soon, so please excuse my dust while I figure things out! 

Blog posts are always better with photos (and that's what you came here for anyway!). This was a photo I took on the streets of NYC on me and Jimmy's babymoon in October of last year. I love the general tones of this picture. Oh, and the Asian guy who's giving me the stink eye.

Happy Friday!



5 Must-Haves for Mommyhood

OK. So there is always things people don't tell you about pregnancy or the post-partum phase after you have the baby. I do appreciate the discretion some people give me (as in: "Ignorance is bliss"), because I tend to be overdramatic if I don't have all the information. However, sometimes that backfires.

The truth is, motherhood is a scary adventure where there are lots of opinions and unsolicited advice around every corner and you never know whose advice to heed. In addition, every mom has their favorite baby products and will go to battle with another mom (no, seriously) for their product to come out on top. There are so many unknowns that you just have to figure out by yourself.

I know this is a stretch from my normal photography blogs, but I have put together a list of things that I personally love and make my life easier. Of course, in reference to the paragraph above, this is just my opinion and the stuff that I came to love in my mommyhood journey. I won't cry in a corner if you don't think the same ;)


1. Baby Jogger City Select stroller. Although this is slightly against my nature, I tried to think far out into the future for my stroller buy. When I went into Buy Buy Baby to test drive some strollers, I gave the sales associates the following criteria:

+ Lightweight

+ Easily collapsible

+ Can hold more than one kid (eventually)

I didn't want to get a double right away, but I didn't want to buy a single stroller and then have to update to a double (costing me an add'l $300 in addition to the single stroller cost). I did research. Watched Youtube videos. Perused Amazon for reviews. I finally came up with the City Select. Not only is it a single, but it can convert to a double when that extra kid comes along. Not only THAT, but you can also buy a glider board for your older toddler to ride behind the handle... coming to the total of being able to carry THREE kids if needed. AND (and!!!) it can convert into 16 different positions (see website above). Holy guacamole. I was sold. It also has a ginormous cargo area where I can grocery shop and it's not a big deal.

Is it expensive? Yes. Is it worth it to not have to spend any more money? Yes. Can you get it cheaper? Probably. The 2011 version is retailing for $500... but I got a 2010 model (brand new) for $380. Soon, the 2011 version will be old and will probably be selling it at the same price. Worth every dollar in my opinion.


2. Aden + Anais blankets. These things are soft, huge, light, and amazing. Probably the best bankets you'll ever find. They're made out of muslin, which is SO light and wonderful for Florida summers. They're so big you can use them as a nursing cover. You can buy these at Babies R Us, Kohls, Buy Buy Baby, Target or online. It's around $30 for a pack of four. A little pricey, but TOTALLY worth it.

Even if you're friend doesn't have this on her registry... just take the plunge and buy it for her. She'll thank you later.

No. Trust me.


3. Little Tummys Gripe Water. This stuff is One day, Rowan cried for literally 10 hours straight (around 6 weeks old). We couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. She wouldn't sleep, she wasn't hungry - she was just fussy, uncomfortable, and clearly very upset. Out of desperation, we gave this to her (we weren't sure what it did... and we were new parents. So our troubleshooting skillz weren't the greatest.) She passed some gas, fed one more time, then knocked out for TEN (count 'em - TEN) hours straight.

This medicine helps colicky babies and babies with stomach trouble and pops all the little troublesome bubbles floating around in there. Apparently, babies can have bad tummyaches. And there's a remedy for that. Who knew?


4. Baby Einstein Sea Dreams SootherThis is a little aquarium that you attach to the side of your crib, once your little one is finally in there. Once you hit the big blue button at the bottom, it goes for a 25 minute interval of music and starts rotating the fishies inside. It gets quieter and darker as the time goes by, and finally stops. I started using this with Rowan at about 6 weeks old, and it helps her go to bed every night. I bathe her, feed her, stick her in her crib, and turn this on. She watches the fishies and gets drowsy while sucking on her paci. She's usually out in 10 minutes and it's a great distraction.

It retails for about $40 at Target, and it was definitely worth the money to me.


5. Any Infant to Toddler Rocker (or - in my personal words - a portable chair).

I didn't really know how much I needed this. A friend gave me hers for free, so I kept it around and BOY has it helped me a lot. I put Rowan in it when I eat and rock the chair with my foot, I put her in it when we are at the pool or the beach, traveling, at someone else's house, etc. Plainly put, Rowan gets sick of her carseat because it gets hot and boring. This vibrates, has fun colors and toys, and is a LOT cooler on her skin. She falls asleep in it all the time. It is so convenient to bring with me to other people's houses and Rowan always has a place to sit and hang out no matter where she is. Thank you, Kelli, for blessing me with this!


But enough about what I love.


Moms - what products can you absolutely not live without? Share with me!

Slippers & Giggles

Rowan Elisabeth,

You're almost four months old now. Time has gotten away from me. I remember when you were teeny tiny and could barely hold your neck up only months ago. Now, you're (practically!) independent. Well, at least to me! Sitting up, grabbing, constantly kicking and moving your little limbs. You smile like a champ, and you most recently started giggling. Very rarely still, but daddy got you to do about 10 consecutive "hee-hee-hee's" while playing peek-a-boo. I think you're clever and are still holding out on us for some reason. 

Today, I was inspired by some fun slippers one of your friends gave you. We had a lot of fun today :)

I will always love you. I pray for you every day. I pray you are wise and virtuous, compassionate and have a good sense of humor. Smart. Loving. Enthusiastic. You are a wonder to me already and I can't wait for the fun the next couple months are going to bring.

I love you, little bun <3










2 months!


Here we are, two months in. You're already smiling a goofy, gummy smile and you're cooing a lot when I talk to you. One of your new favorite things is drooling. On everything. And you love sucking on your fingers to help yourself fall asleep. We're finally in a rhythm now and I can usually tell the difference between your little raspy cries. I love learning about you. Do you know that you've grown THREE whole inches since you've been born?! You're long and lean. Dr. Cyrlak calls you a "growing machine". :)

You are the absolute joy of my life and I can't imagine my life without thinking about you first in everything. 

I love you, little bun.

Here is a video of you smiling. You melt my heart <3


Rowan Elisabeth

Rowan Elisabeth,

It’s been 31 weeks that you’ve been living inside me. We have a lot to catch up on. You already have an active schedule and you’re moving around like a champ. There’s not much more room in there, and I’m sorry… life sure is tough being cramped all the time.

I meant to write you notes and letters like this often while you were in my belly, but it just didn’t happen. Mom failed. I’m afraid you’ll get used to that quite soon. I have never – ever – changed a diaper in my whole life, bathed a child, or even held one for a period of time longer then 20 minutes… so we will both have a lot to get used to and I’m sure I will fail a lot.

But you know what? I’m excited.

I can’t wait to learn the language of your cries and what toys you like best. I can’t wait to hang out with you at night and finally feeling success when you’re breathing rhythmically again against my chest after a long, hard night. I can’t wait for the days where we hang out and read books, or watch Anne of Green Gables together, or make special treats for dad before he gets home. Something I’m really looking forward to is when dad is watching football or soccer and you fall asleep on his stomach, because it’s warm and comfortable and safe. You can already sense it, but your dad is the best man you will ever know. He’ll always protect you and be in your corner no matter what. He absolutely adores you. I’m excited to figure out this parenting thing and what it looks like… and I couldn’t do it without your dad.

The other night, I had a dream that I held you for the first time and you were this petite, red and purple, screaming little thing. You were cheesy as all get out and writhing in protest because of all the bright lights. They put you in my arms and I felt my heart swell and expand with love of a whole new level. I woke up feeling overwhelmed with emotion and I couldn’t shake how excited I was after that dream.

We’re 9 weeks out until your due date and lots of events, classes, tests, and doctor’s visits are scheduled. Before it gets any crazier, I wanted to take a minute and tell you that I am so excited for you to get here and join our little family. I’m excited to succeed, I’m excited to fail, and I’m just plain stoked for our new life together.

Now that we had your 4D ultrasound, your beautiful little face is imprinted in my mind and I pray for you all the time. You’re so beautiful to me already. I can’t wait to see you soon.





DIY, anyone?!

At Christmastime last year, I'll admit I was little frustrated. It was our second Christmas in our house and to my delight, we got CHRISTMAS MAIL! Newsletters, postcards, pictures, you name it. While I absolutely love all the updates and adore exclaiming across the house to my husband, "OH MY GOSH!!! Look how cute this is!!!"... I had absolutely NOWHERE to put them. They all actually stacked up in my kitchen without a home. Why was I frustrated? Well, I wanted to see them out in the open and brag on all my beautiful friends and family when people came over! 

So, I took matters into my own hands - I started looking for Christmas card holders. After searching, I came to the conclusion that we probably wouldn't be able to display them like I wanted to. Christmas card holders are expensive, yo. Our budget for Christmas decorations was non-existant but... I WANTED SOMETHING TO HOLD MY CARDS. 

I went into Joann's and decided to just make them myself. I'm not a creative DIY-er by any means, but I thought I would share what I did with you!

(And also give you a Christmas tour of my house... and how to do in on the cheap!)


Christmas Card Holders! (the pictures are not necessarily in chronological order... my bad!)

Step 1: Go to your nearest craft store and buy a couple floral picks (show in the left picture), twine, and mini clothespins. Floral picks are AWESOME and cheap and there is a wide variety of them so there's something for everyone.

Step 2: Gather all your Christmas cards!


Step 3: Take a strand of twine and tie a bow around your floral pick to dress it up a little. Take a looooooong strand of twine and simply tie it around your floral pick, and let the rest hang down.

Step 4: Take your mini clothespins and get to clippin' those Christmas cards on your strand of twine!


Twine: $2.70

Clothespins: $1.99 (24 pack)

Christmas floral picks: ~$0.99 cents each

Total cost: About $7 with tax. 

Final product:

I LOVE mine and actually keep them up all year round. If you're super motivated, you can buy different floral pics for each time of year (but I'm not quite that ambitious!). This took me under 10 minutes to do and it was WAY cheaper and more personalized than anything I found out there!


Here's a couple more ideas I did this year! :)

I'm going to rave for a second on these cinnamon-scented ponderosa pinecones I found at Joann's (NOT in the same trip). For $4.99 you get 10 ginormous, yummy smelling pinecones that you can hide in and around your house to make it smell extra Christmas-y. I actually bought some faux snow and stuck them in a serving bowl on my coffee table!


This is something everyone can do. Go to your local Lowe's and head towards the Christmas tree tent. Ask the nice Lowe's guys for some leftover Christmas branches and make an arrangement for your dinner table! ABSOLUTELY FREE!! 

Since being pregnant, I have an acute, super-ninja sense of smell. I'm obsessed with having good smelling things in my home. Last year, I bought this candle from Yankee called "Home for Christmas". Oh my sweet baby Jesus. It smells like christmas trees and HOME all in the same whiff. I actually burn it so much that I'm down to the bitter end of my candle... and the worst part?! I can't find another one anywhere! It is just pathetic how much I adore this candle.


And now, my favorite ornament currently on my tree...

I don't know how, but my parents found this ornament and gave it to me and Jimmy for our newest little addition, who we have nicknamed "Peanut" from the very beginning. I wish we had a name picked out to share, but we don't yet. Still, I love looking at my tree and seeing her first ornament. Next year she will be with us! And I will probably have some babyproof Christmas ideas by then :)

I hope this holiday is treating you well. There are lots of things for me to blog, but I thought it was time to take a break and share some fun ideas!



commercial break!

No photography today, but I'm about to drop some major knowledge here. 

People have ALWAYS told me that you need to watch the way your boyfriend, fiance, or husband treats his mother. Because that's the way he will treat you. And really, it totally makes sense. Because that's the woman in his life that he is supposed to listen to and take care of until you come along.

Jimmy and I have known each other since we were 16, and we started dating when we were 17. We got married at 20. We've grown up together, sort of. 

But here's the reality: we don't treat each other like we do our parents. Although we do have great respect and love for each other (like our parents do), it's becoming more clear to me that we act more like siblings on a day-to-day basis. We love to annoy the crap out of each other, we're super dorky, and we love to play fight until one of us gets tired and then it's no fun anymore. Oh, did I mention we love to annoy each other? We never get bored around here. 

I didn't realize the connection until I started paying attention to Jimmy's relationship with his sister, Tori, and my relationship with pretty much all my siblings. I had an "AHA" moment.

Even though Jimmy and I act like siblings at times, words can't express how much we adore each other as best friends, husband & wife, etc. Even after a year and a half, we have SO MUCH FUN. 

My advice to newly-marrieds (in my expert 1.5 years of experience)... don't get complacent. Learn something new every day. Don't be afraid to be nerdy. Kiss slowly. And don't ever forget to be adventurous. Oh, and take lots of Photobooth pictures when you're super bored and can't scrap money together for a date. They're fun to look back on when you have absolutely nothing to do.





And last but not least...  my favorite. Ever.


I know, I know. But hey, it's who we are. Here's to living an absolutely fun, out-of-the-box life with your BF4L.

Love you guys!


things i love

The truth of the matter is, I am slightly obsessive about new, fresh things I see. Whenever something is super cheap, simple, functional, stylish, fun, easy, etc... I am ALL OVER IT. And I tell everyone I know about it whether they want to hear it or not. I'll actually try and find some way to work it into the conversation because I just love sharing good information. I like to add sparkle and excitement to the discussion. Also, because I think I'm pretty boring. Ha!


I thought it would be fun to start throwing my current raves out there. Just because I think they're rad and should be shared.


1. McCormick Recipe Inspirations

Desperation led me to this. Here's my confession to you: I cook probably 5 recipes. No, really. To give you a little background, my husband is a finicky eater. Nothing wrong with that. However, because of that fact, I rarely venture out and try new recipes for fear that he won't like it and I'll have wasted money on ingredients I get stuck with... forever (I'm so dramatic). Well, one day, my husband REQUESTS that I make something new. Probably because I have made ranch chicken one too many times. Too too many times. I probably looked at him like he was sporting a third eyeball.

So, I fear the next grocery trip. I dragged my cart dreadfully slow, agonizing the impossible. What am I going to cook? What will he even like? I hate this I hate this I hate this. 

And suddenly, a halo appeared over this handy dandy little packet in the spice aisle. You see, this packet has a recipe with PRE-MEASURED spices, only requiring me to purchase olive oil, chicken, and potatoes. Little to no commitment? I'll take it! To put it lightly, it was a hit. McCormick also has these packets for garlic lime chicken fajitas, among others. Definitely worth the $2.50 (especially if you're a "young married" and are in a similar situation).


2. Rumples Wiggin' Shrek Nail Polish

In honor of Shrek 4 coming out, OPI put out some Shrek-inspired colors! A dear friend of mine bought me "Rumples Wiggin'", the light purple. And I am in lurrrrve. 

I am always looking for pretty spring colors. I love the light blue, but since I work in a more professional environment, I probably couldn't get away with wearing that. However, I'm sporting the light purple now and I've gotten so many compliments! So funky, yet feminine! 



3. Mountain Dew

Oh, for the love. I haven't sipped this in 3 years after seeing the amount of sugar intake, but the other night I got a hankerin' for it. I actually had Jimmy drive to CVS yesterday AT MIDNIGHT to get me one, because the "need" overtook me. I poured it over a tall cup of ice and reveled in it. No, I'm not pregnant. Trust me. This is just me not having self control. 


4. CHEAP Theater Tickets

Yes, I said it. Cheap. For good seats! My friend Gaby shared this with me. If you go to Broward Center for the Performing Arts before any given performance, they sell their tickets for the remaining seats for $20 apiece. All you do is go to the box office 2 hours prior to the performance, and you ask for "Student Rush" tickets. They show you a seating chart, and you pick your seats! My friend got ORCHESTRA seating for Mary Poppins for $20... waaaay cheaper than what everyone else paid (~$150). Take my advice and go get yourself some culture... for next to nothing!



Mm mm mm. I love me some inspiration. I am constantly reinventing my house and seeing what new cool things I can put in it. This website is my go-to for space-saving, innovative ideas that make me look cooler than I really am. I could spend hours on this site, just looking at different organizational ideas. 

This is my favorite idea thus far. I am going to start thrifting at local my local Goodwill to develop this idea. 

My favorite color combo this season is yellow and grey, so I'm all over this look. A white chandelier? Be still, my heart! I also love the industrial look of the filing cabinet. Who would've thought something so practical would look so cool in the right environment? 


So, I have to ask... what inspires you guys??? Do you have cool websites or deals I should be checking out? Share, share, share!!

OK with not being OK.

This Sunday, my soul was ministered to, convicted, and blessed. My husband (worship pastor at Crossway Church) decided to sing, “It is Well” as a closing song. I never expressed this to him, but this is probably my favorite song of all time. The words are so powerful, and the story behind them is so heartbreaking and touching – all at the same time.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

It is well with my soul,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;

The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,

Even so, it is well with my soul.

The reason why I love this song is because I absolutely struggle to say “It is Well” in my own life.  To be completely honest with you, I wrestle with the sin of discontent every single day. It literally floods my mind and some days, it’s hard to get rid of.

Money money money nicer house new nail polish color more time off did I mention a vacation new camera gear oh wait I need to be better at not being discontent I need to work out I never get anything done why is it raining? why am I not the perfect wife gosh I’ve been at it a year and half money Honda CRV I should really get a manicure etc etc etc etc etc.

It’s shameful.

The man who wrote this (Horatio G. Spafford) lost his wife and 4 daughters… and then found it in his soul to say “It is Well”.  I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that Jimmy and I will have to WAIT to get a CRV (not never get)… and I struggle to say “It is Well”.  Really, what’s wrong with this picture?

Needless to say, I was snapped back into reality and humbled when singing this song on Sunday.  Conviction seeped into my heart and I repented. Over and over.  To be honest, realizing you suck isn’t fun. The more I mull over this, the more I realize the repenting needs to be a daily occurrence because the reality is… sin doesn’t fix itself. And I am incapable of fixing myself. Thankfully, the Lord is up to fixing and renewing ugly human souls.

One thing I heard on Sunday from our head pastor, Jon Elswick, is that as Christians, “We need to be OK with not being OK”. And he went on to explain on having the gumption to admitting that you’re not OK or perfect. How refreshing is that?  I honestly think that needs to be said more often.

This is me, OK with not being OK.




ikea = love

Can I just tell you something? My husband and I are addicted to Ikea. When we go, we go for hours. and hours. The shortest span of time we've ever gone is 1.5 hours. Longest? FOUR AND A HALF HOURS. We always pick things up and visualize it in our beautiful single family brick home with a porch, pool, and yellow or red door.... that we don't own. Not yet anyway. But the fact of the matter is that we love cheap stuff. Cheap stuff that makes us look way cooler than we really are. And Ikea serves that purpose perfectly.

This time, we brought Jimmy's film camera and tried out some new Astia film. Oh my. How I love film so much (as you already know). This stuff is legit and is able to be cross-processed, if the lab will allow it. Unfortunately, CVS has some notion that it will ruin the chemicals. To combat the CVS employees shoving the film back into our palms and telling us to go elsewhere, we have resorted to scratching off the little words that say "E-6"processing with our keys so it looks like beat-up film that we bought on eBay. I know, I know. You gotta do what you gotta do!

The result came out suuuuuper red.... and I LOVE it. So interesting and different!


I freaked when I saw how the Ikea store map turned purple. LOVE!


Sidenote #1: My husband loves books. Surprise, surprise. It's his dream (and MINE for him) to own and get a library stocked with Billy bookcases that wrap around corners filled with books and odds & ends. Ikea recently put up a bunch of variations to the Billy bookcases and Jimmy was hooked.

Sidenote #2: IS THE PICTURE ON THE RIGHT NOT AWESOME?!?!?! I had no idea it would come out so stinkin' cool.

The rest are from Jimmy. I post these because I love to brag. And also because my husband's photography inspires me. Also because I want to remember this day forever. 


The precision of the focusing on the script. The natural red vignette. Be still, my heart! (FAVE)

(We finished up a roll of film just to shoot the Astia. :)


My life rules.



you know you're married to a worship pastor if...

Demonstrated below, ladies and gentleman, is what happens when you are married to a worship pastor and do his laundry often. My dear husband always has a guitar pick with him (usually one in his jeans pocket and a couple in his wallet) wherever he goes just in case. Sometimes, he forgets to clean out his pockets.

Here is a picture of five picks LODGED in my dryer. FIVE.


I love my life :)



Three years ago today will be the anniversary of my dad’s major car accident. I almost lost my dad and on the same day my brother was admitted into the hospital for a kidney stone. Two family members in the hospital in one day. I can’t even imagine what I was feeling. I remember writing this in my other blog at the time…

“My family needs major prayer. My brother was admitted into the hospital today for a kidney stone (yeah I know). Thirty minutes later, my sister calls me at work and tells me my DAD got into a car accident trying to get to my brother. While trying to race to see my brother, he went into a diabetic attack and his sugar level dropped… which puts his conscious level at totally drunk [even if he's not]. He swerved into the westbound lane going eastbound… which means he was going against traffic and he hit a school bus HEAD ON. He broke his wrist, pelvic bone, upper leg, shattered his knee, and has a huge, deep cut on his forehead. It actually made the news… it’s pretty crazy.  

He’s going to have pins in his wrist and in his knee for a long time… which means he’s pretty much out of work. Things are already financially tight. I don’t know what to do. Anyway I’m a complete wreck. Life is going to be very tough for the next few months.

 That whole year turned out to be excruciatingly financially tight. My dad couldn’t work and it took awhile for disability checks to start rolling in. We were sustained by meals brought by the selfless people of our church at the time. We were even going to move to Wisconsin at one point, but those were our plans… not God’s. After thhe house contract fell through, we pinched every penny possible to continue living down here. In addition to of all this happening, our home church {Grace Church} of 20 years shut down. We had literally no church family once they all moved away. Now, my dad is working 40 hours a week + occasional overtime, he is a lay pastor at Oasis Church, and he has a clean bill of health. He is not as fast and agile, but he is alive and knows that life is precious.

I can’t believe we made it through that year without going bankrupt. By the grace of God, we have amazing family and friends who have stuck with giving us rides, food, money, gift cards, visits, love, flowers, and all the rest. We even had one of my friends give us his CAR. His one and only car. I cry while I write this because of the magnitude of generosity we experienced. We could never ever pay any of them back, and to be quite honest, everyone at Grace knew we were going to be separated eventually and they weren’t obligated to do anything – but they did.

I really and truly miss Grace sometimes. I was looking in the photo albums and I started reminiscing. There are some pictures of me with kids I taught Sunday school and some VBS pictures, too. I miss the family feel the most. In a congregation of less than 100, you knew what everyone was doing. In some ways, that was irritating, but when someone was going through a rough time and needed help, they were swarmed with meals and visits and LOVE. I am determined to help everyone feel that way now in every part of my life. Everyone needs to know that they are going to be taken care of and they won’t be forgotten. I now know the importance of visiting someone in a hospital. I know the importance of a complete meal and gas tank that is full. I know the importance of simply sympathizing and buying the surrounding family Starbucks to help them get through the long night.  

Every year on February 27th, I personally celebrate a life that was spared. A life that is making a world of difference now. I love listening him talk to his new friend Vic on the phone {who also walks with a cane} from our North Miami campus at Oasis Church. He also calls an 85 year old shut-in named Jenny weekly to see how she is doing and gives her someone to talk to. She is a widow and she is lonely so I’m sure his company makes her happy. He also just recently volunteered to visit any Oasis church members that get hospitalized at Memorial Regional, the hospital he was in for 5 weeks. He is making a difference, one life at a time.


*This picture was taken the year after the accident. Aren't my mom & dad adorable??

I will never forget February 27, 2007… and I hope I never forget that life is frail and it needs to be celebrated.