Health, Love & Fire: July 2014

Portland Street of Dreams

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So remember how I'm desperately hoping to get that phone call from our realtor or builder that they are finally starting on our new home, or how my current home practically gives me anxiety every time I walk through it because of all the moving boxes, or how I spend basically every waking minute of my day thinking up new design ideas for our house . . . well if you didn't know all that you do now I've been keeping you in the dark. Poor Dan has to be so sick of my frustrated rants about how I just want them to get started, but he's handling it very well. He clearly knows the key to my happiness is looking at new house stuff . . . which is exactly what we did again this weekend! I posted a few weeks ago all about the Parade of Homes event that we walked through, and of course with this weekend being the opening weekend at the Portland Street of Dreams, I had to make a visit there too! Here are some of my favorite spaces from those homes.


Kitchen & Dining:



Home Decor:

Office Spaces:

Bar & Wine Storage:

Which of these spaces do you love? There were definitely some rooms in each of the 5 houses we walked through that I could have moved in to! It's always so much fun to walk through the houses and dream of living in beautiful spaces like that! But my favorite part is being able to take some of the ideas from these houses and incorporating them in to our own! Which of these ideas would you like to use in your home? 

Things I learned this weekend!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This past weekend I got the opportunity to photograph my very first wedding. I have been in love with photography for the past few years and have a few portrait sessions under my belt, but I was extremely nervous to capture my first wedding. To me, weddings are so much different than your average portrait session. It's such an emotional and memorable day, and people hire a photographer to capture all of that. It's also a day that can never be recreated. I was so nervous about getting every shot I wanted and especially of capturing that first kiss! And would you believe my camera starting freezing right as they were getting to that part of the ceremony?!? I had to just keep calm and make it through the day . . . with the help of a few tips.

And while I'm definitely not an expert or by any means professional, here are a few things that helped me get through the experience of photographing my first wedding:

1. Bring a second photographer - Luckily I had my sweet husband who gave up his day off to help me, but just having someone else with you to help capture more of the day, to calm your nerves, and to bounce ideas off was so helpful. There were lots of times throughout the day that I needed to be with the bride, while other wedding activities were going on, which meant that Dan could still be taking photos while I was capturing something else. Sometimes more experienced photographers will bring less experienced ones with them to events like this to help them throughout the day, which also offers a great learning opportunity that I would definitely look for if you want to get in to photography.

2. Have a backup of everything! Not only did I probably bring WAY too many lenses, but I brought three cameras. One for me, one for Dan, and one extra just in case something went wrong with the other two. Now I know this isn't always an option for everyone else, but it definitely calmed my nerves knowing that I had a backup just in case of an emergency. (Thanks to my father-in-law for his extensive camera collection!) I also came prepared with backup batteries and memory cards just incase I ran out of space, and I definitely did in the memory card department!

3. Find out in detail what your couple is looking for. There are tons of different checklists and wedding photo documents floating around online. Just find one or two that encompass most of the major photos taken at a wedding and go over it with your bride and groom. Find out what family pictures they want, if they plan on doing a garter or bouquet toss, and how long they want you to stay that day. The more you can find out from them, the better you'll feel about capturing everything they're looking for. My bride created a whole list of every family photo she wanted taken so I was able to gather up all the family members and just cycle them all through before the ceremony. This helped me make sure I got every picture she wanted and also calmed her nerves as I checked off each picture as I went. Here are a couple checklists I found helpful:

4. Wear comfortable clothes! We ended up being at the venue for nearly 9 hours and most of that time was spent on our feet! I was very glad I chose the comfortable sandals and long maxi dress because my feet weren't killing me and I didn't have to worry about bending over to get a good shot. (people want to see the bride, not the photographer). Even in my comfortable clothes, by the end of the night I was exhausted!

5. Get there early! I don't know about you, but I hate being rushed. I made sure to find out the schedule of the day from my bride and got to the venue about a half hour early. This gave me time to wander around the partially set up venue, mess around with my camera settings, and get some detail shots.

6. Make friends with the DJ. Chatting with the DJ helped me get some of the pictures I wanted at the reception. He gathered everyone on the dance floor for a photo, got the family to all meet in one place after the ceremony, and helped my photo vision happen! Without him, it would have been much more difficult to herd the guests to do what I wanted!

7. Bring business cards. This is the perfect promotion for your business so you don't want to be without a way to bring in other customers. Unfortunately my business cards are a little outdated and need to be updated so I didn't have any with me, but I would definitely recommend you bringing some if you have them. I was asked a couple times, and would have left some with the DJ, wedding planner, and venue if I had some with me.

8. Visit the venue before the day of. Whether it's with your couple or by yourself, make sure to make time to walk around the venue and begin to get a few ideas before the day of. Not only will this make for better pictures, but you will be less nervous going in to the day if you have some ideas beforehand.

9. Have Fun - If this is something you love, just enjoy it! This might be a stressful, overwhelming experience, but this probably one of the happiest day of your clients lives. Be thankful for the opportunity and the experience and enjoy it!

Have you every photographed a wedding? What helped you calm your nerves and make it through the day (besides a shot before hand which I totally considered)?

Number One Blogging Must Have

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One of the best tools I have to improve my blog would hands down be my DSLR Camera. I love my Canon 60D so much! My camera was a gift from my parents for my college graduation and it's one of the best gifts I've ever gotten. This weekend I am actually photographing my first event . . . a wedding! I'd be absolutely lying if I said I wasn't scared to death to mess something up, but I am also really excited to be able to share something I love so much with other people. I've done senior pictures and portrait sessions in the past, but capturing a day you can never recreate is terrifying. Luckily I will have my husband there with me to help capture anything I miss. And you better believe I will share my tips and experience with all of you after I stop freaking out.

Blogging is such a great place to not only share stories about your life and the best diy tips you have, but it's also a wonderful outlet to share your photos. Blogging pushes me to try new things, and while doing that it also pushes me to document those things. I've always been the type of person to take hundreds of photos, but thanks to blogging, now I'm taking thousands. (If you don't document it, it didn't happen right?!?) I'm definitely guilty of filling my blogging feed with iPhone pictures a majority of the time, but blogging also motivates me to use my camera more often. No matter if you have a canon or nikon, a $700 camera or a $7000 camera, you are still a photographer and I know I love seeing your images!

If you don't have a DSLR, don't worry about it. These 22 bloggers and I want to give you a chance to win one! How would you like to get your hands on a brand spankin' new Canon Rebel T3i? Yeah, we thought you might. Just use the Rafflecopter below to enter.
Win a brand new Canon Rebel T3i!
The giveaway will run from 12:00 am EST on July 24th until 11:59 pm EST on July 30th. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only–sorry international friends! Please be honest with your entries because no one likes a cheater. Good luck, and be sure to visit the other bloggers who helped bring you this opportunity and give them a big "THANKS!" :)

The Solution To My Gift Giving Dilemmas!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Whenever a gift giving holiday like a birthday or anniversary rolls around, I'm always left scratching my head with what to get a husband who has so many likes and hobbies. He gets bored easily, and with his crazy 24 hours on and 48 hours off schedule, he's constantly dreaming up some new adventure or activity to try on his days off. So deciding on which of those dozens of topics to pick from can be a little daunting. For our anniversary last week I decided to get him a new beer kit because he likes to home-brew. Lets just say I was a little out of place walking into that brew shop picking out different yeasts and grains to combine to make a summer ale. If I didn't know better, you'd think I was walking through that shop naked with the out of place looks I was getting. You can bet I was a little disappointed when I found Man Crates just after I had finished purchasing all his gifts and feeling absolutely awkward doing so. If I had known I could have ordered a beer lovers Man Crate from the comfort of my couch in my pajamas, my life would have been made a million times easier (and definitely less embarrassing). (And you can do so by visiting

After I got past the disappointment, I was wishing there were woman crates for all my hobbies, and to make Dan's shopping for me a little easier. But what would I want in a Woman Crate? You think of a guy's survival kit and it's no surprise that there are Man Crates for beer, sports, snacks and games. But since you can't fit all of Pinterest in one crate, what would I want in my Woman Crate survival box?

iPod, because dance parties, so people wouldn't just have to listen to me sing, and because I cannot live without Justin Timberlake . . . who's with me? If they can just fit Justin Timberlake in that crate that would work too.

A tutu, because well, life is just always better in a tutu. I have yet to find a situation that isn't made better by the addition of a tutu.

Wine, because for one, I'm not sure my husband would join me anywhere without wine, and two because it's wine!

My Camera, because I wouldn't really be a blogger if I didn't have any pictures. Plus if I didn't document it, it didn't happen, right? And who wouldn't want to document me on an island in a tutu dancing with Justin Timberlake with a glass of wine in my hand?!? That's a good weekend wrap up post if I ever had one!

A Floaty, because I'd get bored after dancing around the island for a while, so I'd want to float and work on my tan and enjoy the water. (Even better if it's a swan or a whale or a large margarita glass float)

Now I'm fairly certain that none of these items would help me in an actual emergency, so for my plan's sake lets assume that this is a survival kit for a day on an island, not an actual lifetime movie scenario where I'm stranded on an island for the rest of my life. So all you people at Man Crates, if you're looking at putting together fabulous gift giving crates for women to fulfill their totally rediculous survival kits, just remember Justin Timberlake (or an iPod), tutus, wine, a camera, and a float. And please notify my husband as soon as these become available! And if he's lucky, a Man Crate will be under the Christmas Tree for him this year! I would probably win the best wife of the year award or something if I gifted him one of those crates!

Which crate would your significant other love? What would you want in your own personal survival kit? 

Pasta Sauce Canning

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

If you've been around here long or know me well, you may realize that I am constantly thinking about my next diy project or spending hours on Pinterest (nearly every man’s worst nightmare) getting new ideas and inspiration. If it weren’t for work getting in the way, I would probably do something crafty every day of the week!

Dan and I belong to a community garden, which we joined for the first time last year and I'm excited to be a part of again this year. For $12 and 12 hours of work per person you get all the fruits and vegetables you want for 7 months. That means, for $24 and 24 hours of work over 5 months, we can eat as much fresh fruits and vegetables as we can carry home. This has been a great option for us and has really changed the way we eat. There’s just something so great about knowing where everything you’re eating is coming from. Plus, it tastes better when it’s so fresh! If this is something you’re interested in, I would definitely recommend looking for a local community garden in your area!|

With all the fresh produce we got from our garden, we were busy in the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do every year is making homemade tomato sauce! Last year alone we went through nearly 125 pounds of tomatoes and have about 45 quart sized jars of sauce to last us for at least the next year (depending on how many my parents sneak out of our pantry). While you definitely don’t have to tackle as many tomatoes as we have, it’s a great way to make a healthy sauce to use whenever you need some! I love being able to run to the pantry and use this healthy hearty sauce all year long for pizzas, pastas, lasagna, or chicken parm. It’s definitely not the quickest process, but the perfect reason to grab a friend and spend the day in your apron, listening to music, and chatting in the kitchen! 

Here’s the recipe we used and have had great results from! You can definitely just buy store-bought tomatoes at any season, but we seem to make ours every fall when all of the produce is ripe and ready to use! 
½ bushel of tomatoes
3lbs. chopped onions
4 green peppers
3 hot peppers
1 garlic bud
1 cup sugar
½ cup salt
1 tbs. oregano
1 tbs. basil
4 tbs. Italian seasoning

 For the tomatoes you have two options. You can either blanch them and take the skin off and then put them in the pan or process them through a tomato strainer (for this method you don’t need to cook them first). We used the tomato strainer because it seemed to go quicker, but blanching them works just as good

I cook all of these ingredients on medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan until the sauce is the consistency you want. This can vary depending on the amount of juice in the tomatoes and what your preference is. For us it took about 4 hours to cook down to what we liked.

Once it is the consistency you want, ladle into pint or quart jars and seal. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 45 minutes.

Let the jars sit on the counter for at least 24 hours to make sure they are sealed correctly. After those 24 hours either store for the year or try some on your favorite pasta. Oh and don’t forget to let me know if you try this recipe and like it!
Do you have any canning recipes that are a staple in your kitchen? 

Getting In The Portland Spirit

Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm sure you're all probably getting sick of all my marriage and wedding related posts that I've bombarded this space with this week, but I have one last one for you. In an ideal world we would get to travel every year and celebrate our anniversary in some tropical or exotic location. Unfortunately we have these things called jobs that don't allow us to do everything we want. (Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. ) So instead of flying off to some remote location, Dan planned a fun night out together. I had been wanting to check out the Portland Spirit for years, but honestly forget about it whenever it comes to actually making plans. So I was so excited when he told me that we would be taking a dinner cruise up and down the Willamette River for our anniversary!

We met up after work and headed downtown. We stopped at a super cute hotel bar (that I wish I could just live in, and definitely need to go back to and blog about) and got a tasty drink. We then headed to the waterfront and boarded our ship! I was so excited that he had thought up this fun date. We booked the dinner cruise which comes with choice of four entrees, salad, bread and dessert. Its a 2 and a half hour cruise. You board the ship at 6:30, the ship takes off at 7, and you're back to dry land by 9:30 (a little past my bedtime, but I made and exception). Dan specially reserved a window seat for our dinner table which ended up being really nice because our table was a bit more secluded and quiet. The weather was perfect, the food was amazing, and it was a really fun way to celebrate our anniversary!

They have dinner cruises nearly every night and even have an 80's dance party cruise on Saturday nights that I may have to check out sometime! There was some music on the restaurant level, and then there were two high levels, one where you could sit inside and one on the top deck where you could feel the wind in your hair (and get better pictures). If you're in the Portland area and can stay up till 1am (when the cruise ends) and want to join me for an 80's dance party let me know!

Here are some of the images I captured during our cruise . . .

My handsome date at dinner! And the view from our table! 

The night was absolutely beautiful and it was an awesome way to see the city! I'm fairly certain a majority of the people on the ship were tourist and the median age was at least 70, but it was still a fun relaxing anniversary date and something I would definitely recommend doing at least once in portland! And remember, if you're up for an 80's dance party, let me know!