August 2015 | Olive and Tate

The Battleground Living Room with Jonathan Louis Furniture

Let's get real, shall we?

As we all know, I don't do perfect. 

There is no point in faking it for the blog because, quite frankly, ain't nobody got time for that, so it's time for an honest look at a less than perfect Reno Reveal. A Reveal-ish if you will. No super glam photos, no perfect styling, no fresh blooms, just my real life Living Room that I cannot manhandle into looking presentable for the life of me.

Oh, what's that? 

Yes, we do have a giant pool table in our living room, thank you for noticing!

This space is our battleground. 

From the moment we started designing, scheming and planning for this house, my husband insisted that his pool table have a home in our open concept living room. And not just space for the pool table, but actual, legit, regulation space around the table for playing. 

I'll admit that even when we were planning, and despite having the pool table in our first house, I didn't realize just how much space the pool table area would demand in the room. I know it sounds desperate but I think I blocked out the actual dimensions of that thing - and for the record, in our first house Justin actually had a closet removed and turned the combo living/dining room into a Man Room built specifically for his pool table. Obviously, that decision was made before I came into the picture.

Anyways, it's a beast.

In the spirit of marital bliss, I will throw my husband a bone and admit that he was nice enough to have the table re-felted from the traditional AstroTurf green to a gorgeous shade of camel. But, despite the upgrade and stylish gesture, I still struggle with blending his idea of the room's purpose with my idea of the room's style function.

If the pool table saga wasn't enough, the Living Room is also home to our one and only DIY project in this entire house (we had it rebuilt from scratch, it was best to leave it to the pros). We took a quick (too quick) peek at Pinterest and just knew we could become IKEA Billy bookcase hackers. 

We were wrong.

We built our Billy Bookcase unit, complete with upgraded shelving, doors and extender kit, with plans to trim it in ourselves for the "built in" look. Pinterest swears that it's super easy to do. 
Uh, not so much.

We're waiting on our carpenter to come back and do the work. 
It may never be done.

And because I know the shelves are still under construction, I refuse to really put any effort into styling them. So they just hold all of the things that won't fit elsewhere. Giant decanter? Shelves! Bourbon bottles? Shelves, of course! Random photos? Where else? The shelves!

Aside from the wall of IKEA nightmares, the other new addition(s!) to the room are the two gorgeous oatmeal Jonathan Louis Brennan Wood Accent Chairs. And, I am obsessed with them. No shame in my game. 

Initially, the plan was for our old leather club chair to hold court in the transitional space between the kitchen and living room but one chair just looked odd, and odd is, um, not the decor theme I was hoping for. Thankfully, the design gods smiled upon me and the crew at Jonathan Louis Furniture came to me with a plan: less odd, more chair.

Cue the choir of angels.

If I'm being honest, I'll admit that the loss of the leather chair was another his and hers/marriage/style/compromise issue. Thankfully, there came a time when even Justin could see that the sad solo chair just wasn't doing the space any favors. Despite doubling the amount of chairage (I just made that up, go with it) in the room, the pair somehow manages to balance the (yet to be completed) shelving unit and while adding to the open feeling of the space.

And, I don't want to be the wife who rubs things in, but I just have to say that the new Brennan Chairs are so, so much more comfortable than what we were rocking before. The super high quality seats are deep and cushy, perfect for drinking tons of wine with friends and tough enough to handle a wild babe for a little Disney Jr. viewing. I chose a fabric and shade that was soft and neutral, mostly because we move so much and I need our key pieces to fit into any space, but I must say, I spent a moment or two lusting after the (literally) hundreds of fabrics and color choices available (my chairs are in Protege Natural). Go ahead on over to the Jonathan Louis main site to ogle and order swatches and find a retailer so you can Goldilocks your way through their selection of gorge furnishings. 

One last thing: does anyone notice anything peculiar about the windows? 
Ah, the life of a renovation novice is just so glam!

So there you have it, an honest look at one of our unfinished, as yet to be blended, less than styled spaces.

I'd hate for anyone to walk around thinking that I had it all together!

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by Jonathan Louis Furniture and I was provided product of my choice for my review. All opinions and experiences expressed in this post are my own. 

Fall: Week One

I have never been so excited for a week to begin in my entire life. 
Summer is O.V.E.R. and I am so ready to whip this life of mine into shape. 

Yes, last week was perfection - gloomy, grey, cool, cloudy Maine days with my best friend and my kiddo, smothered in queso, Diet Cokes and full of work, teasing, laughter and social media.

But this week? 

This week is what I've been waiting for.

Monday is the day to get it all together - to label all of the book bags and lunch boxes, grocery shop for toddler lunches and meal plan for a family who has dinner together around the table. And, if I stick to my plan, I'll also put our Y membership to use for the first time in many, many months. 
Don't hold your breath on that one, but I'm putting it out there. 

Tuesday is The Day.

My babe heads just down the road to the sweetest little Mother's Day Out at a local church. He'll spend the morning meeting new buddies, playing and terrorizing his sweet new teachers. Not to worry, I plan to provide them with many Starbucks gift cards throughout the year. In all seriousness, I am just so excited for Gray. His personality is shining through and he is becoming this calm, steady, observer who loves to interact with other children. He will love his time at school and I am so grateful that we've found such a wonderful place for him. 

While the babe rocks out at school, I have a To Do List that is literally three pages long. Most of it has to do with tasks that were never accomplished in our house - let's just say "organize every single closet" is actually on the list. It's overwhelming and daunting but now that I have two mornings a week to dedicate to getting my crazy together, I feel calm and in control. That's a heady feeling my friends. Basically, I plan to conquer the world now that I have a few hours a week without my sidekick. Try not to be impressed by my awesomeness.

On Wednesday I'll play with my babe and get ready for the Willow Crowns Fall Collection launch! We feel like we've waited for yeeeears to drop this collection and we cannot wait to put it out there for the world to see. So much of launch week is me working behind the scenes to make our website ready to roll at 10am CST (9.3!) and I'll be working away, culling through listing photos, updating inventory and creating our signature listing verbiage (and yes, I write every single listing for every single Willow Crowns piece - and yep, my listings are copyrighted - cool, huh?).

Thursday we launch the Fall Collection so I'll be a busy girl while my babe plays it up at school and then it's the weekend!

Friday we prep for our very first Clemson Tailgate of the season! Because the game is at noon, we will take the baby so we have lots of planning to do. Saturday we spend the day celebrating the return of football, Sunday we hit the Vineyards with friends and Monday we relax!

The busiest, craziest, most normal Fall week!

I literally cannot wait.

Is that weird?

I have a fun blog week planned for you (yeeeees, I've planned the week of posts ahead of time, NBD) - house stuff, small shop love, flying with an toddler wins and loses and a giveaway!

Ah, Fall, I've missed you like a Basic B misses Pumpkin Spice Lattes. 


 he's hugging a moose, that's maine-ish and therefor relevant to this post. photo cred: christa, of course

Hey kids!

Just checking in to let you know that we all made it through two flights and a layover in one piece.
Thanks for all of your suggestions and good travel vibes - we watched the same Little Einstein's episode 14,000 times and broke out a brand new version of Peekaboo Barn to keep things calm, cool and collected at our cruising altitude. 

I'll be honest and admit that I thought I would blog a new, witty diatribe about motherhood today while the baby napped but after spending 20 minutes standing in the one corner of the hotel room that couldn't be spotted from his crib (and eating my drive through Wendy's salad standing up in said corner), I treated myself to a little nap instead. And that, my friends, is the answer to "how do you travel with a baby?" - you sacrifice your dignity for the promise of a hotel nap.

If you need me, I'll be hiding from my baby in my bed, drinking boxed Target wine from a paper hotel bathroom cup. 

And I'll wearing a jacket because it is cold here.

Toddler in the skies

So, once upon a time, I popped my babe into a Bjorn and hopped a flight solo on the reg. I had Gray on a plane at 13 weeks and we flew sans any other helpful adult many, many times before the baby was eight months old. I had seen it all when it came to flying with a baby. I knew all of the tips and mastered all of the tricks. In fact, I wrote a post (or two) (or three) about it. I owned it.

But now I have a toddler.

A wild, wiggly, free spirited, boy baby toddler who does not enjoy being physically corralled by his mama. 

I am terrified.

I honestly cannot even begin to image how tomorrow is going to go. I will have Justin along for the ride but, as every mama knows, if we can snag a spare seat for the kiddo's car seat, we'll divide and conquer and it will be me doing the conquering. 

So, our current status is: 
the iPad is locked and loaded in a supposedly toddler proof case with every single Peekaboo app available (barn, zoo and rainforest). Volume controlled baby headphones have been liberated from their packaging and promptly tossed on the floor by my discerning baby and more individually packaged snacks than I even knew existed are smashed into my diaper bag. 

My current mood is:
sober and nervous. 
I think I need more wine.

Tips? Tricks? Suggestions?

If you'd like to see if we make it through the travel day, you can always follow along on Instagram (@oliveandtate_) and on Snapchat (oliveandtate) as long as I can figure out how to use it. 

Toddler Smoothie With Nuby USA

Let's be honest, I'm no super mom.
In fact, I think I've officially adopted some sort of mothering style that is based upon a solid foundation of Do As I Say, Not As I Do.

When it comes to feeding my heathen, I honestly make a huge effort to ensure that he eats a much more balanced and clean diet than I do. I love fast food, eating out, chips and dip and wine. Hard. And while I don't believe in making food an "issue", I do want G to ingest more fruits and veggies than I do (which would be zero, so the bar is low). 

We rely heavily on pouches and organic whole milk to ensure that we're hitting our food pyramid goals for the day but sometimes I feel like really showing motherhood what's up and I bust out my smoothie skills.

Try not to be too impressed.

Aaaaaaand, I can't go much further in this post without telling you the honest truth: I reached out to Nuby USA as a Nuby Parent Blogger many, many months ago (while still living in the apartment) to test out their Garden Fresh Mighty Blender in the hopes of becoming the amazing type of parent who makes her own baby food. It must have been a moment of insanity because I just can't be that kind of mom. I want to be, but I'm not. Just like I'm not a good housekeeper and I wasn't the type of student who did the nightly reading.
It is what it is, just go with it.

Anyway, I had the Mighty Blender chilling in my kitchen and I thought it might just make one heck of a baby smoothie blender.

I am pleased to report that it does, in fact, make amazing smoothies and is teeny tiny, perfect for portioning little beverages and for storing in my already overflowing cabinets. 

While making a smoothie is not rocket science, I do like to see what others are sneaking into their kid's sippies so I thought I'd share our current go- to recipe.

I keep a steady stash of frozen fruits from Trader Joe's in my freezer - this is what I had on hand today:

I add in spinach, full fat vanilla yogurt, the frozen fruit and a teeny bit of water - this smoothie had a mix of strawberries and pineapple (neither of which I care for, I know, I know, I suck at eating well).

The Mighty Blender comes with two different blades (one to mill grains and one to blend) and two different bowls (and a steamer basket!) - I popped the blending blade in and went to town. 
As a side note, I honestly think this set would be an amazing shower gift. It comes with the two blades, bowls, steamer basket, spatula, spoons, freezable baby food trays and individual storage containers for your baby food portions.  And it's less than $75.

Anyway, it literally couldn't be easier to use. If G was older, I'd put a straw in the blending bowl and serve it like it is (the little feet make the bowl super stable).

Give it a blend and then toss it into a sippy. I get such a mom high watching that baby down a sippy full of fruits and veggies. I mean, not to brag, but I've clearly got this whole mom thing in. the. bag. 

See, happy baby! 

Yes, I know he has a mullet. I like it and refuse to cut it. Don't get my husband started.
And now I'm off to finish my Chick Fil A french fries and my glass of merlot.

5 Things I Do Each Night So That I Don't Turn Into A Crazy Person

pretty photo of the dirtiest screen ever by Christa Rene

5 Things I Do Each Night So That I Don't Turn Into A Crazy Person

1. Maid Service

I have happily copped to being a terrible housekeeper many times before so don't get any wild ideas about me scrubbing floors or dusting window sills. I do go through the playroom as soon as the baby goes to bed and toss every single item back into our awesome white storage chest thing. Meg said we had to have it, so obviously we bought it, and she was right. G loves it because he can clear every.single.thing. out of it in approximately 7 seconds and I love it because I can "clean" the playroom by putting everything back into it without rhyme or reason. I also grab my various Starbucks and Chick Fil A cups, his snack keepers and sippies and the random dog toys that always find their way over the baby gate. Seeing that space in some semblance of order really keeps my crazy at bay. 

2. Blog It Out

Every night Justin does bath time - yes, he's a hero - and the minute that water starts to run, I feel myself relax just a bit. I'm in charge of making the bedtime bottle and pulling out jammies that still fit and after that, bedtime is all Dad. As soon as story time begins, I grab my laptop, a glass of wine and get into my bed. Yep, at 7pm. It's where I've always blogged and it works for me. I turn on really bad TV (ok, fine, I turn on the newest episode of Dr. Phil, which I DVR'ed. Sorry not sorry.) and get to work. The relative silence and the child free moments really bring me joy (not an exaggeration) and being creative seems to keep my brain relatively engaged. I often worry that the Baby Brain will never truly subside and sitting down to write helps me feel like I'm at least capable of one of the things that I used to do pre-baby. If I think of all the things that I don't feel that I can do as well now that I've produced an offspring, the crazy really comes a knockin, so I take the creativity for the win and move on.

3.Play Secretary

Most days I feel like I struggle to make a coherent thought with the baby trying to jam animal crackers into my mouth (I don't actually hate that) so keeping up with emails and blog comments throughout the day can be difficult. I hate having open ended correspondence hanging over my head so I try to run through my email accounts (I have 7! Three for Willow Crowns, one for the old blog address, one for Olive and Tate and two personal accounts) and tie up loose ends. I don't always catch everything but that at least keeps me from waking up at 2am wondering who I left hanging that day.

4. Single Silence

After I wrap up my blog post, we may eat dinner (which I didn't bother to cook. Domestic Diva!) or I may choose to drink my calories and "snack" on one billion little things in the pantry, but not long after, I hop into bed for good. There is nothing that makes me happier, and the least amount of crazy possible, as being alone. Justin chills in our living room and watches ESPN and I lay in our bed with my wine glass, my phone and whatever crap TV is playing on TLC. I honestly just shut my brain off and it feels oh so good. If Justin tries to come in and have some deep meaningful talk with me (ie: a budget discussion), I just can't. My brain is off and it won't be back on until tomorrow morning (after coffee). 

5. Burn Up The Data

I really miss my friends sometimes. My working mom friends are the hardest for me to keep up with because we are on such opposite schedules and my best friends all live far away from me. It may not be traditional, but I spend a ton of time texting my girlfriends in bed each night. Meg and I work a lot at night (especially right before a launch) and we try to sneak in non-work stuff too. Caroline and I have kept up with one of our old roommate traditions and watch TV together - while she's in Virginia and I'm in South Carolina - and we text the entire time we're watching a show. I may not be able to call someone up for an hour long chat but I can squeeze in a text convo to maintain my friendships. Feeling like I'm still apart of my friends' lives makes me feel stable. 

And stable is good. 

The end!

Memory Lane

So, I had another gem of a post whipped up for today but due to technical difficulties, you'll have to wait a bit to gaze upon it's awesomeness. Try not to be devestated.

Beause I hate to leave you hanging, and because we're talking about the reno house a ton around here, I thought I would treat you to one from the archives.

Most of you weren't around when we moved to Maine (and if you were, bless you) so you may not have heard the story of the time Justin bought a house sight unseen. By either of us.

Behold, the drama, originally published on May 20, 2013:


It's a big week around here at Newlyweds:North - it's our Wedding Week! By Saturday we will have earned the name of our blog - after 10 months of planning and 3 years of dating, we will officially be  Newlyweds.

Wedding Bells will ring this Saturday
So in the name of forever commitment, today's post will tell you a story of complete trust and tolerance. It's the story of "That Time Justin Bought A House That Stephanie Had Never Seen".
As you know, the first (and only) house hunting trip to Maine was a complete bust. I will admit that even though we considered putting in offers on a couple of houses, they weren't houses we would have considered options if we weren't in this unique situation.

 To put it simply, we are in a rush.
We need a home and we need it quick.

We flew home to South Carolina without a plan. We weren't scheduled to go back to Maine until Justin started work, 2 days after we returned to South Carolina from our Honeymoon.
And the rest, for me, gets a bit fuzzy.

Somehow, Justin got a hold of a listing for a house in Maine...I have no clue if he found it online or if our agent sent it to him...but what I do know is that I was in Virginia celebrating the wedding of a dear friend. My bridesmaid schedule kept me from being attached to my phone but I do know that I started getting text like this:

j: check out this house I found

j: look at that house and tell me what you think!

j: I think I want to put an offer on that house

j: where are you?? I have a conference call scheduled to put that house under contract...

me: (i haven't even looked at the link) just do what you think is right! I can't talk right now

j: ok, I put it under contract

And that my friends, is how we decided to put our new house in Maine under contract.

Via text.

Site unseen.

 By either of us.

Before any of you with real estate experience (or common sense) have a coronary, let me say that we had every kick out clause in the book in our offer that allowed us to back out upon personal inspection.

We immediately put Justin on a plane (most expensive flight ever) and he got to see our house that weekend. I, on the other hand, got to look at the online posting....and try not to panic.

Justin loved the house (as much as he could with the pressure that he was the only one who had seen it) and we moved forward with buying that bad boy.

Flash Forward One Week:

Our home inspection in Maine was scheduled to take place on Saturday and one of us had to be this point, it seemed important that I get up to Maine to witness what my fiancé had gotten us into...and the home inspection seemed like the perfect time.

Our travel day to Maine was miserable - we sat on the runway in Dulles for hours waiting for a storm to pass. We finally made it to Bangor at 2am....and I couldn't take it any longer. I made Justin drive me to the house.

That has people living in it.

At 2am.


I don't know if the 2am showing made me feel better or worse but at least it had taken the edge off of the suspense.

The next morning it was, of course, pouring.
We pulled up to the house and the home inspection team met us in the driveway. They were so amazing, if you ever need a home inspection in Maine, please call Dan and Melissa Smart at Affordable Home Inspections. But anyway, in their amazing-ness, they had arrived at the home early because rain is the best time to find surprises in a home. They immediately launched into the condition of the siding and the age of the home etc..I literally put my hand up to Dan and said "should I tell you now that I haven't even laid eyes on this house yet?"

Dan's mouth literally fell open.

He rushed me inside so that I could explore the house while he continued on with Justin and our real estate team in the yard.

It was probably best that I was left alone to wonder the house.

I was SO effing nervous. I mean, this deal was done. Barring something showing up in the inspection that said the house was about to fall down, this place was going to be our home.
I think I held my breath through the door....but just a few steps in and I knew...this was our home.

And here is how I handled the situation like the mature, soon to be married woman that I am:

I sprinted out into the side yard, knocked Dan out of the way, and fell onto Justin hysterically crying.
I was just SO relieved! Justin (who has 3 brothers and doesn't really understand girls all that well) asked me if I was hurt....or sick.

I just couldn't believe this house that we bought site unseen was THE house, OUR house, and it was going to be the perfect home for us in Maine.

After I composed myself (kinda), and apologized to the all male team around us, we carried on with the home inspection. At this point, we are all set to close on June 26th, 16 days after we come home from our honeymoon.

I don't usually brag on Justin very often, but this time he deserves all of the credit for finding us the perfect home and being brave enough and confident enough to go after it in a unique situation. 


Ah, Memory Lane, the most melodramatic Lane on the block.

Summer Blues

 no more summer white. ever. bag. shoes on sale.

Every year it happens.

I am just so over Summer.

I think it must be because I really do crave structure and order and while all of the traveling, playing and partying of Summer is fun in the beginning, by August I am always just so burned out. At some point I start wishing the days will get shorter so I don't have to admit that I crawl into bed while it's still day light and the air will get cooler so that I can wear dark jeans and stop having to shave my legs so much. 

We spent the weekend at home for the first time in something like 5 weekends and it was Heaven. We sprawled out on every sofa, spent time together, trashed the playroom, watched stupid TV, limped to the neighborhood Starbucks and ate every single meal out. The baby is struggling a bit - some sort of hot mess combo of teething, allergies and bedtime regression. It hasn't been a good look for any of us but I'm assuming we'll all get through it. 

Speaking of the babe (super natural transition, no?), he has lots of changes headed his way because in just a few weeks he'll start a sweet little mother's day out program just down the road from our new house. I've ordered his teeny little back pack and can't wait to pick out his first day of school outfit. He'll only go a few morning hours twice a week but I can't wait to see how much fun he has. And I can't wait to go to the dentist, organize my closet for the first time since we moved in and go to the gym (ha, yeah that still won't happen, but it sounded good). 

This week will be another crazy one as we get ready to do a bit more traveling (you'll never guess where we're headed) and try to kick whatever is rocking the babe's world. I know some of you are dying for anther reno reveal (so many requests for the kitchen!) and I'd love to show it to you but our cabinets still aren't right. If you want a reveal, you'll have to take it up with my contractor (since my husband has prohibited me from ever communicating with him again because I can no longer play nicely).

I may just try to get our lives on a bit of a schedule this week but let's be honest, I'll probably lose track of the week, drink too much coffee every morning, drink cheap Trader Joe's wine in bed each night and beg the baby to sleep. Reach for the stars, Mama, reach for the stars. 

See you kids tomorrow!

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

Asked: How do you find and choose the photographers that you work with and how do you end up with images that you are ultimately happy with?

Answered: I honestly get asked some version of this question a ton - especially from my close friends! I'm afraid the answer is going to be frustratingly simple: I've found every single photographer that I have worked with through social media.

I think it might be easiest to just run you through my process of working with a new photog and if I miss a piece of info that you were looking for, feel free to shoot me an email or comment below.

The very first step is to know what type of image style you are drawn to. 

Do you like soft and bright? Moody and dark? 
Are you hoping for a studio location or do you want to swim in a pond with your photographer in tow? Do you like a lifestyle session or are you hoping for props and a theme?

You need to know what it is that you envision in that sweet little noggin of yours and ultimately find a photographer whose style matches your vision and style. My absolute, number one must do when searching for a photographer is to spend some time flipping through the archives on their site. Once I find a photographer whose style I relate to, I find my absolute favorite session of theirs and make a note of it so that I can reference it in future planning convos. 

Having an example of the photographers own work that you love means that your styles are a match and that you'll be able to articulate the look you are hoping for when you are planning your session. As I'm typing this, I can literally still see my absolute favorite shoot of my Maine photog, Danielle Brady. She took a family of three romping through a Christmas Tree farm during a snow storm (not that weird in Maine) and the images were just perfection. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that I never got that shoot set up for my family before we moved! Clearly, her work made an impression on me and I knew her style was a perfect fit for my aesthetic. 

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

  I found Danielle Brady Photography by searching "photographers in Bangor, Maine". She was my honest to goodness complete wild card. I had no idea that I would find such a talented photog in such a remote and small city. Her business blog popped up in my search results along with quite a few talented photographers in the next biggest city (Portland, about a 2 hour drive).

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

Pro Tip: be flexible on shoot day! The first black and white shot is while I'm passing the baby to Justin and we are First Time Parenting so hard - look at our faces! don't drop the baby! In the second shot he was fussing and I literally stopped to rock him and give him his giant orange tiger Wub - and Danielle created magic- and in the shot below, Justin was holding the baby while I snagged some head shots - Danielle turned around and grabbed that shot of the two of them that I just love. 

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

That same web search lead me to our Maternity Photographer, Darling Photography, who is insanely talented and based out of said big city. I will say that my husband really didn't see the appeal of maternity photos and therefor didn't want to shell out big bucks to document the bump (no judgement, babe). I loved Jenn's work so I followed all of her social media accounts and wouldn't you know it, she happened to have a mini session special around my 25 week mark. 

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

By booking a mini session, I spent considerably less money and still have quite a few images that continue to take my breath away.

Pro Tip: booking a mini session is a great way to get to know a photog and their style while saving a few pennies but make sure to read the fine print - you will be told exactly how many images to expect and you're going to want to ensure that the words "edited images" are mentioned in there somewhere. No one needs 20 raw images that feature their yet to be photoshopped double chin, trust me.

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

Pro Tip: Discuss the location ahead of time and be realistic about the shots you can snag. A mini session will have a set location determined by the photog - our maternity shoot was in a huge, old house on the beach. I knew there would be a bed and even asked Jenn if I should bring plain white bedding. She had it covered and I envisioned a soft, relaxed shoot in a big bed. Vision accomplished! 

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

My newest photographer on the roster, Christa Rene Photography, popped up on either a friend's Facebook feed or Insta feed. I saw a sweet, bright, crisp image of a family and popped over to Christa's blog. Her work is lifestyle based, which is how I want to document our family, and I immediately reached out to her to see if she had any interest in a super small scale shoot for my Facebook header image. She was on board (and super flexible, which is now a must for me) and her work was insanely gorgeous. 

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

While she was in our home she got to meet the babe and the way she interacted with him guaranteed that she was going to grab amazing shots of our family. Being a lifestyle family photog, she isn't into posing or waiting for the perfect shot, which, in my opinion, is the only way to genuinely photograph a one year old.  She shoots quickly, isn't afraid to get right in there with us, was willing to try a few of my ideas but was quick to tell us we needed to move on for lighting purposes etc. 

Pro Tip: Don't judge a book by it's cover. Christa is a college senior who is already running her own successful photography business. If a photog is newer, or even at a more reasonable price point, don't count them out! The same can be said for a well known photog whose time is much more of an investment - if their style doesn't match your vision or aesthetic then, by all means, don't book them just because they are well known. They became well known for working their own style and it's simply ok if you don't click with that look.

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

My last suggestion when picking a photographer is to make sure that you ask them ahead of time how long they think a session will last and where it will take place. When shooting a baby or young child, it's basically impossible to take a ton of time or have your heart set on certain poses or expressions. Obviously, no one will be happy if the baby is miserable, stuffed into an outfit, being forced into a bear hug and needs a nap. I think our entire one year photo shoot lasted 20 minutes. I trusted that Christa got some great shots and she trusted that I understood that we were going for real life, personality and candid moments - not a portrait. Had we not discussed all of that prior to our shoot, things might not have gone so smoothly.

5 Tips to Score Amazing Family Photos

Ugh, that was one hell of a ramble, but I am always, always, always happy with the results of my photo shoots and I think it boils down to these key things:

1. knowing the style you like/want/hope for
2. finding a photog who shoots in that style
3. following the photographer on social media to see examples of their style and sessions as they are published and/or to see if you can snag a mini session 
4. clearly articulating your hopes for a session to the photog, using examples of their work 
(and never of someone else )
5. establish shoot logistics to ensure the best outcome for your family - don't schedule during nap time, the witching hour etc. It won't matter how gorgeous the light is if your babe screams the entire time. And try to avoid a two hour photo shoot, that's just a recipe for disaster.

Honestly, did that help or hurt?? 
If you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I'll answer in the comment so that everyone can see.

One Year Photos

I've been holding on to these sweet shots since the babe's first birthday and I just had to share a few.
I wanted the baby's first year photos to be easy, sweet, reflective of our life and in our new house.
Many, many thanks to the amazingly sweet and patient Christa Rene Photography for rolling with the punches and snapping some of my most treasured photos to date.

when you try to pose a baby....

a sneak peek of our bedroom! 

and our playroom, too! 

Ok, I get that not everyone wants to have a photo shoot on the floor of their kitchen, but dumping out that cabinet makes my babe so happy - why wouldn't I want to document that in all of it's crazy glory? He started emptying the cabs and we pulled up some floor and sweet Christa snapped away.
 It might be weird, but these are my fave pics!  

Look at that determined little expression....

Our life, captured in one single snap 

Many of you have asked how I choose my photographers so tomorrow's Asked and Answered will address just that!

Thanks for indulging me in the photo onslaught, I owe you one! 

Fried Poundcake Salted Caramel Sundae

So, let's just say that at some point last week, I may or may not have turned one year older.

I also may or may not have had company over for dinner, obviously not to celebrate or anything ridiculous like that, but you know, just to eat food and stuff.

If I were to have put myself through such an excruciating birthday-ish experience, I would have needed to have some sort of desert ready. A desert that had absolutely no room for any type of writing or candle placement but could satisfy a sweet tooth and pair well with cheap wine.

Allow me to introduce you to my Fried Pound Cake Salted Caramel Sundae

Yeah, your heard me. 

 I fried a Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake, smothered it in caramel sauce, Breyers Salted Caramel Ice Cream, real whipped cream and a champagne covered strawberry.

But just to be clear, it wasn't a birthday cake (those are terrifying), it was simply a delicious desert for my friends and family. 
Got it?
 Ok, good. 
P.S. If you have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about, check out Friday's post 

Anyway, you need this desert in your life.
And it's so easy, you could honestly make it in a single serving for a night in or for a special occasion (if you're that kind of girl, I guess).

Here's what you'll need:

Sara Lee All Butter Pound Cake (in the freezer section)
Breyers Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Caramel Sauce
Whipped Cream
optional: a gorgeous, sparkly strawberry
I snagged everything that I needed at Publix but the Champagne Covered Strawberry was part of a "sorry you ate it in the front yard" care package and deserved a spot of honor in my sundae. 

Slice pound cake
throw a little butter or margarine into a small pan
let it melt 
toss the pound cake in the pan
let it toast up to a golden color - maybe two minutes a side
keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn 

Top with ice cream, caramel sauce and whipped cream while the cake is still warm 

And go to town.

It will be all melty and gooey and happy and you should probably just roll around in it and call it a day.

Now, go forth and make fried pound cake.