Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If Your Walls Could Talk: Guest Room Collage


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Edward Abbey called Moab, Utah the most beautiful place on earth…but even its name is a biblical reference to a land that’s hard to get to.  We’re very blessed that our faraway family and friends often make the effort to travel and visit us here.

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Last month I finally put together a framed collage for our guest room to celebrate all the loved ones we’ve hosted over the years. Two hat tips to my sources of inspiration for this project. First, my friend Angie who has a guest book filled with notes from guests over the years. When we stay with her family in Flagstaff, I love to look through the book and see the past entries we’ve made and recall those visits.

Once our boys decided they all wanted to bunk together (literally, with two sets of bunk beds in one room) and our nursery became an actual guest room, I knew I wanted to do something similar, something that would recall our past house guests and claim the room as theirs. I saw this instagram collage on the Handmade Home---and pinned it for when I found the perfect frame (I love how Ashley used crown molding but knew I wasn’t up for that job).



I went through our photo library and found a photo from all our past guests. I know I’ve missed a couple---our friend Al has visited at least three times and he’s only represented once. Perfection is the enemy of the good though, and I didn’t let that stop me. I cropped every image to roughly 4.5x3  in Photoshop, then added names and dates using Another Typewriter font in white.

Math has never been my strong suit, and only after printing and cropping every image did I realize my images needed to be 4” long, not 4.5”. I actually like that cropping each a bit differently to make up for that error made the collage less lined up and gives it a bit more flow.

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In the middle I included a quote and a “stamped” image of our house created in Photoshop. I took these photos of the collage before our most recent guest, Mary Alice, arrived so her photo will fill the next to last spot. Right now she’s second only to my mother-in-law as our most frequent guest. Who will fill the final slot?

I found the awesome frame at a local shop, Framed Image. It had some minor flaws, so it was a great deal. The owner listened to my plan and included a large white mat that I used as the base to attach all the photos to. I love that our boys have one more reminder of their far-away family and of the good times we’ve had. I love that a few more images are off our computer and living on our walls.

Obviously I’m a big advocate of getting professional quality prints of your family up on your walls. I also believe your snapshots should be printed out. Phones are great for taking spontaneous shots, but don’t lose them to the black hole of your hard drive. Your walls can talk—they communicate what you value. Maybe you have art from a favorite painter on your walls. Great, but do you also have photos of the people you love? Your home and your walls should reflect the relationships you value most.

If Your Walls Could Talk is a series on what our walls and the way we decorate them communicate to others. Share in the comments, what do your walls communicate?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Gratitude

I want to cultivate a grateful heart, and if not count my blessings, then at least acknowledge them. The big ones: life, health, my husband and sons, friends and family, those are always included. Here though I hope to take note of the small blessings, whatever might lighten the load this week or might be forgotten if not recorded here.


Photo by Perpetual Images, used with permission.

1. I’m grateful that Aidan’s baseball team had a great season & won 1st place at the final tournament. I’m especially grateful to see how much he grows with each season. I’m grateful for the time his dad spends with him throwing and practicing, and for the great coaches he’s had each year. And, as much as I ♥ baseball, I’m grateful my evenings at the ballpark are over for this year.

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2. I’m grateful for old friends. Our weekend in Denver deserves its own post---even if only so I remember where we ate!  I’ve felt the benefits of a little time with my soul-sisters all week.

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3. I’m grateful for the wonderful, wild world of boys. On my drive home from the weekend of girl talk, fruity cocktails and French bistros, I pulled into the Bar M trail area to meet my boys at a friend of Aidan’s birthday bash. Ten year old boys on mountain bikes, hot dogs for dinner, burping contests---it was a full immersion back into the world of boys!

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4. Not as superficial as it sounds: I’m grateful for my new Chaco's, a gift from Brian. He ordered them while I was away---which means he must have looked them up on my Amazon wish list in order to know what style and size I wanted. Total surprise.

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5. I’m grateful for my lil fish, Nolan, who finished his first session of swim lessons and loved every minute of it!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Dannally | Moab Newborn Photography

I think I know how it is that sweet baby Dannally was already blowing kisses when she was only one day old.

Her beautiful big sister had already been schooling her in the art of affection.

And big brother had showered her in so many besos, she had extras to share!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Gratitude

The above photo is from ten years ago when two of my closest friends and I met in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, to celebrate ten years of friendship.

This weekend we are celebrating twenty years of friendship.

Today I'm grateful for:
1. old friends
2. new cities
3. non-kid-friendly restaurants
4. live music under the stars
5. an amazing partner who supports my friendships, who is the kind of dad that makes it easy  easier to kiss my sweet boys goodbye for a weekend, and who makes me eager to return!

Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear what you are grateful for today! Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Beautiful Baylee | Moab Newborn Photography

I really have one of the greatest jobs. I get to meet sweet new people---new to the whole world, and witness the amazing love, joy, and celebration of their parents.

Beautiful Baylee started out a bit shy. Rumor has it she has dimples already.

I wonder where she gets them.

I was going to say that Baylee's momma does not look like she just gave birth---because she looks as beautiful as her daughter, but on second thought, based on the joy in her expression, she looks exactly like a new mom!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Brotherly Love | Moab Family Photography

When I mention my photography business, it is often assumed I shoot landscape or nature photography. Understandable, given that Moab is such a beautiful place (“the most beautiful place on earth” according to Edward Abbey). I would love to learn more about nature photography, but my passion is capturing the connection between people who love each other. Newborns and babies are my specialty, but I love family sessions too.


I love that this beautiful family took the time to capture who they are right now…just on the cusp of having teen boys, when it would have been much more difficult to capture their natural selves (the teen years have a tendency to do that to people!).



How adorable are these two? I love their smiling faces, but truth be told, I love their thoughtful, no-smiles, expressions even more.


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Moms are usually the ones who value photography, and are excited to capture their family in portraits. Dads, not so much. I don’t like to say “Cheese” to anyone or to twist a guy’s arm to get into the flow of the photos. Three cheers to this dad who was totally relaxed and just enjoyed being with his family!


We ended up putting together a slideshow of their shoot to Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter than the Sun” and their mom shared with me that the boys keep asking to watch it again and again, and have showed it to everyone who comes over to their house. That was the best compliment I could receive!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Gratitude

I want to cultivate a grateful heart, and if not count my blessings, then at least acknowledge them. The big ones: life, health, my husband and sons, friends and family, those are always included, but on Sundays I hope to take note of the small blessings, what ever might lighten the load this week or might be forgotten if not recorded here.

1. Knowing Brian will be home by this time tomorrow!


We’re proud of the intense work he and his team have been doing on the Church Camp fire in Northern Utah, but two weeks is a long time. We want him home! He sent this photo from his phone yesterday---our hearts go out to all the families who lost cabins or homes in the area. We give thanks that no lives were lost.

2.  The kindness of friends and strangers

From the stranger who jump-started our car battery at the grocery store to my good friend who watched our youngest and our dog for a whole day (see #3), I’m humbled when people come through right when you need them.

3. Random opportunities

sean on Lone Ranger set



Sean got the chance to work as a stand-in on the set of “The Lone Ranger,” which is filming in our town. No photos were allowed on set, but the boys got to see Johnny Depp in full make-up as Tonto, and we snapped this quick picture of Sean on the drive between camp and the set. Moab finally got some rain, but it made for a boring day on the set. Ever since Thursday, the boys have been watching old Lone Ranger episodes.

4. Overhearing this exchange between Aidan and my dad:

Grandad: Aidan, if your nose grew 12 inches long, what would we call it?

Aidan: Pinocchio?

Grandad: A foot!

Aidan: HA! I’ve got one for you, too. Who can jump higher than a mountain?

Grandad: Hmmm…I don’t know. Tell me. Aidan: Anyone, because mountains can’t jump!

Two peas in a pod. Just listening to them makes my heart sing.

5. Another small town 4th of July

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Homemade smoothies, our town’s 5 minute parade, running into old and new friends, Hawaiian shave ice, crazy dog antics, and late night fireworks viewed from our driveway. Oh so grateful for this country and this day of Independence.

Thanks for checking in here. I’d love to hear the small or big things you are grateful for today. Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Round Here: A homage to Nora

For me, much of this week was all about Nora Ephron.
On a drive home last Tuesday, all three boys asked, 'What is it?' after hearing me gasp. I had turned the radio up as soon as I heard Nora Ephron's name, thinking “What luck--an interview with Nora!” And instead they announced that she had died at age 71.

My first reaction was "Impossible. I have unfinished business with her." As if I had heard an old flame had gotten married. Conversations and collaborations in my head that some part of me thought were really going to happen *someday*.

Second reaction, how is it possible that she was older than my mother? Obviously, part of the reason I adore her---get her---is because she was the same generation as my mother. So when Jack Nicholson starts singing "My Boy Bill" in Heartburn, I thought it hilarious. Just like I know all the old movies mentioned in Sleepless in Seattle. And recognized that “You’ve Got Mail” was a remake of “Little Shop Around the Corner.” But in so many other ways, perhaps because my mom came from Ireland or married an older man, they were not in the same generation.

Nora Ephron

I was sixteen, with my very first broken heart, when I saw "Heartburn" and fell in love with Nora Ephron and her words. Carly Simon sang "Coming Round Again" at the end while Meryl Streep played Itsy Bitsy Spider with her daughter and I felt hope that love really would come round again. I still have my paperback copy of it from 1987. My favorite passage of her writing comes from a scene between Rachel, the main character, and her therapist, Vera:

Vera said, “Why do you feel you have to turn everything into a story?”
So I told her why: Because if I tell the story I control the version.
Because if I tell the story, I can make you laugh, and I would rather have you laugh at me than feel sorry for me.
Because if I tell the story, it doesn’t hurt as much. Because if I tell the story, I can get on with it.
I can still picture the maze of book stacks at Black Star bookstore on Sheridan Road in Chicago and coming across her collection of essays called Crazy Salad when I was 18. Not even close to her best work, but reading it was a revelation for me.
nora's books

And then "Harry Met Sally" came out that winter. My mom, sisters and I all went together but the theater was packed and we weren't able to all sit together. There’s nothing like seeing a comedy with a great audience. I remember wanting to turn around and look at my sisters for their reactions.

I was only 20 years old when I started dating Brian, and thought that a ridiculously young age to commit to anyone. But I found Ephron’s line to be true: “When you find the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

A few years later while Mom was visiting me in Tucson, my best friend Angie and I took our moms to see a double-feature of "Sleepless in Seattle" and "Cascablanca" at the UA theater. “You’ve Got Mail” is better each time I see it. I didn’t believe my friend Scott when he told me “Mixed Nuts” was a bomb, and he was so determined to prove it to me, he went to see it again with me. I conceded, but I loved Nora even more for having taken the risk and showing that failure is part of success.  I'm so glad my mom got to see "Julie and Julia"; she, like Nora, loved Julia Child. I loved that Nora’s writing didn’t turn a blind eye to the challenges of living----she saw corruption, the inevitable loss and pain and still, always it seems, sought beauty to still enjoy---a dish worth trying, an adventure worth taking, a love worth risking ----because there’s “more room in a broken heart” and the spider always climbs back up that sprout.

In her last book I Remember Nothing, Ephron wrote a piece called "What I won't miss" and "What I will miss"; I think she knew it was her last book. And now I'm glad I bought it, in hardcover ---a rarity for me. It was the least I could do.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Baby Teejay | Moab Newborn Photography

This cutie was wide awake. He seemed to be taking everything in, even though he’d only been in the world for about 24 hours.

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Welcome to the world, Teejay. I think you’re going to like it here!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday Gratitude

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘Thank You’, that would suffice. –Meister Eckhart

I’m hoping to find a balance between client sneak peeks, photography posts, and personal posts. I want to keep people reading by posting more often, and use blogging as an opportunity to capture either stories, ideas, or images. I’ll be adding a blog schedule to the side bar, which will include Sunday Gratitude as a regular feature.

I want to cultivate a grateful heart, and if not count my blessings, then at least acknowledge them. The big ones: life, health, my husband and sons, friends and family, those are always included, but on Sundays I hope to take note of the small blessings, what ever might lighten the load this week or might be forgotten if not recorded here.

Grandad at the ballpark

1. I’m grateful for phone conversations with my dad. Dad has never been a phone person. He called me at college a few times---usually after he heard about a crime in my neighborhood of Chicago, to warn me and make sure I was safe. My mom was the type who immediately asked for the phone no matter who answered it. So it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve spent more hours on the phone with my dad in the last three months than I had in the past 20 years combined. I’m so grateful he made the effort to visit Moab, that he listens to my boys and shares his stories with me, so grateful for our connection.

2. I love baseball, but I admit…I’m grateful Sean’s final two games are this week. Alleluia. Aidan still has another week or more, depending on playoffs.

3. I’m grateful for the way Nolan says “thingie” instead of “thing”’, “bummer” as if it’s a curse word, for his blond baby bangs, and his pride in dressing himself this week.

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4 I’m grateful for Duke the dog. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Possibly crazier, but stronger. I’m crazy in love with this puppy, but he just might be the end of me yet. Grateful to Aidan for all his help wearing Duke out this week. Also very grateful for Moab’s Bark Park---what a calmer dog Duke is after a good hike and rough housing with other dogs at the dog park!

5. I’m grateful for Sean’s progress as a reader, and the chance to listen to him read Frog and Toad at bed tonight. For some reason, Magic Tree House and most early readers make me cringe, but Frog and Toad read like poetry. Nolan, Sean and I all cracked up when Toad asked, “What’s will power?” in the story called Cookies. Now both boys have big plans to bake a batch tomorrow!

Thanks for checking in here. I’d love to hear the small or big things you are grateful for today. Leave a comment and let me know!

2012 Half Way Point

A cousin of mine recently posted on Facebook that there are only six months till Christmas. A little bell went off and I thought it might be a good time to review/revise my 12 goals for 2012.

Goals for 2012:

1.Take at least one family photo per month. So far, only missed one month. Check Plus!

2. Adopt and train a puppy. *cough cough* How funny that I included "train" as part of this goal. Well, beside photography and loving my family, I've given more time to this goal than any other...probably more than photography even as I walk Duke for an hour a day, never mind training. For a five month old puppy, he's doing well---he knows Sit, Stay, Come, and Off. We're still working on Heel though he does better every week. Our biggest issue is his excitement (and peeing!) when friends come over or when meeting something---lots of jumping and nipping at those times. Still a way to go. Check.

3. Prepare our family for our next trip to Chicago. Check, though there is always another trip in the works. And the unstated aspects of this item---dealing well with loss---are always on-going.

4. Learn the basics of my sewing machine and complete at least two projects. Loved my sewing class and completed two embroidered shirts and some napkins. Hoping to take another class in the fall. Check.

5. Submit two resumes. In retrospect, that sounds much easier than starting a business. Check Plus.

6. Start every month with a clean desk. My desk has been clean twice all year. Check Minus.

7. Lose and keep off 12 pounds. Lost then gained. Same old. I'm now trying no sugar, hoping to eat along the Paleo idea. I want to give myself a Check Plus for lifting weights consistently and working out three times a week with my friend Kathy (when Bri is actually in town to watch the kids when I go at 6AM), but in terms of food choices, I'm still treating chocolate like it's the fifth food group. Check Minus.

8. Create a home binder. Check Minus. Nada.

9. Grow herbs inside my kitchen. Check Plus...because I did it. However, compared to the herbs in  our garden...well, we can't compare the sad things in our window to the herbs in our garden. I think I'd be more excited if I planted them in October.

10. Create a Shutterfly book of 12 on 12.  I did make a 12x12 Shutterfly book for Nolan's preschool. And a few other 8x8s, but not the 12 on 12 I wanted to.  Check Minus.

11. Go to the Telluride Blues & Brew Festival, or see a concert at the Red Rocks or camp in Zion National Park. Check Plus--two more weeks till our girls' weekend at the Red Rocks!

12. 52 Weeks of Light…Check. Not plus because I'm weeks behind, but not minus because it is the only thing I've been blogging consistently here.

So...if I want to achieve these goals, I need to focus on my diet, scrapbooking, the home binder and my office desk in the second half of the year. This may be the most boring post I've ever written, but it helps me. If I reach January 1st, 2013 not having accomplished what I hoped to, at least it won't come as a surprise,

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