Category Archives: DIY

I am taking a big deep breath.
I’m about to carve my first cake & I want to get it right!
I’m all nerves & jitters, but the hope that icing & cake crumbs can fix a disaster make me feel a little more confident.
Kevin’s birthday is Friday & this mama refuses to not finish his cake this year {like I did last year}.
He is turning six & I don’t even want to think about how fast these years have passed.
Instead, we are just celebrating who he is & his love for all things krakens {which inevitably led us to a pirate themed party}.

Here goes nothing…

Of course, I made a Pinterest Board all things DIY Pirate Party, ships, & cakes with krakens {my inspiration for the cake can be found here}.
As you can see, I’ll be a little MIA this week.♥

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  • Brynn Hanson - March 21, 2012 - 6:52 pm

    There is a poem about krakens by Lord Alfred Tennyson; I read it today with my students. You could incorporate it into his birthday on a table tent or something. Enjoy the party!

  • Andrea - March 21, 2012 - 6:55 pm

    Oh my, THANK YOU! That is such a neat poem & I’m sure there’s some way I can use it… it fits in perfectly with the old world sailing theme! THANK YOU!

  • […] Kevin’s birthday party was a lot of fun as well, there will definitely be pictures coming from that as well before wedding picks up in full gear! […]

You’re supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God’s sake!

– Iris from the movie “The Holiday”

Before summer even kissed us goodbye, I found myself visiting an old friend. The train was off track & I knew it. She knew it.

At some point in the conversation she asked, “What do you do for fun?”

“Oh I take pictures & I run my business. I enjoy it!” I answered easily.

She is a good friend & she is wise. She didn’t seem satisfied & tried again, slower. “What do YOU do for FUN?”

I started to draw a blank because I didn’t understand why my first answer wasn’t “right.”

I thought that my husband, my children, & my photography business were the things I did that made me feel fulfilled & content. I thought that missing meals & countless hours of sleep in the name of what I love were a sign of sacrifice & dedication. I thought that giving all of my energy away proved my commitment.

Then a few weeks passed & two more people asked me this question. People who were getting paid money to “help” me.
Perhaps there was something more to this little question…

I was not taking care of my body. I didn’t have free time. I didn’t have hobbies. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t take time to eat {good foods}. I wasn’t taking a moment each day to selfishly enjoy something of my own. I was a mess of tension & exhaustion, threaded together only by this ideal definition of sacrifice.

It wasn’t sacrifice really. It was stupidity.

As much as I love all my roles {wife mother photographer} they aren’t meant to fill me… they drain me daily.
I’ve learned that I am actually better at all of these things if I add myself to the script.
If I take the time to nourish my own needs, I have so much more to contribute to the other roles in m y life.

The biggest &Â most consistent change I’ve made is that I go to the gym or get some kind of exercise four-five days a week. After Damian was born, I didn’t take the time to lose the weight & actually ended up gaining some {it’s embarrassing to admit that!}. Even though I know my way around flattering self portraits, I frequently get asked if I’m pregnant & I have all but retired most of my pre-baby #2 wardrobe. Although I feel so much stronger than when I started working out, I’ve only lost about eight pounds. I’m not at the point where I can fit into my old jeans, but this lifestyle change seems like the kind that will eventually get me there.
I’m all for “eventually.” Especially if it means I stop the yo-yo routine I’m so familiar with.

Yesterday I made this Pinterest recipe of Jillian Michaels’ weight loss diet drink. It wasn’t as bad as I feared because the cranberry juice adds a pretty color & I have an fondness for lemons. I don’t believe that it will be a secret weight loss weapon… I have no expectations for it to work a miracle. Eating less cupcakes {self control}, drinking more water, & making my body move are the keys to the changes I want to see.
However, filling this pretty jar is a good way to stay inspired & reminded to drink plenty of water.
It also smells so very good.

Darling, even if your name is on your business, it doesn’t mean that it’s supposed to take care of you.
Only you can do that for yourself.
– Andrea ♥

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  • Melanie - March 14, 2012 - 8:20 pm

    I love this, Andrea. And I can totally relate at this point in my life. As much as I enjoy my kids and husband, I was (untill very recently) the one sitting on the side lines watching. I just didn’t have the energy. Until I started drinking two 50 ounce bottles of water a day, quit eating junk food, and started exercising, I didn’t understand why I always felt to tired. More than that, I was distracted, stressed, unnerved. But, since I’ve started taking some time to myself and doing things that make me feel good, I’m beginning to enjoy the parts of my life that I love most, even more. I wish you luck in your endeavor, and motivation and stamina. The biggest hurdle for myself will be sticking to these new changes. And in that, making mine and my family’s lives better.

  • Andrea - March 21, 2012 - 8:11 am

    Melanie, thank you for sharing! I completely agree, even feeling less tired + more energetic is reason enough to eat better & exercise a little! Even if losing weight wasn’t part of the equations 🙂

    Anything that helps us & our families is such a win win!

  • Echo - April 9, 2012 - 9:49 am

    What a beautiful reminder 🙂 I know exactly how you feel!

I’ve been making a slight attempt to be careful with what I eat, so I bought a large bag of pears thinking that they would go to good use. As I watched the last of them ripen quicker than the pace we were eating them, I thought it would be fun & a little exotic to make pear cupcakes. I even thought I would incorporate some Greek Yogurt into a pear/ginger frosting. It seems like every time I watch Cupcake Wars, I believe I can make any kind of cupcake I imagine {sans recipes}.
Not the greatest idea!

I took a basic vanilla cake recipe & added two chopped pears. I made a mess of a frosting with Greek Yogurt + another pear, and was so disgusted I threw it out after a little taste. Instead I went for a basic {fail-proof} buttercream with extra vanilla & ginger {omitting pears from the frosting altogether}. In all honesty, if Florian were to have tried it, he probably would have told me that although the cupcake was good, he “could not taste the pears whatsoever” {in his thick French accent}. Now I know I can secretly add pears to any batch of cupcakes & the kids will never know. I also found that Greek Yogurt is a tasty topping by itself- don’t add pear juice to it!

Here are some pictures from my little kitchen escapades… Pear Vanilla Cupakes topped with Ginger Buttercream & Toasted Almonds

I added a little DIY heart topper from some fabric scraps that was super easy but really cute!

We finally have a little snow on the ground and the boys are itching to go play in it.

I’m kissing them goodbye for a bit while I make a little trip north to meet my brand new nephew!

Stay warm & cozy.♥

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  • Mitchel - February 17, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    yellow yummy yum yum

  • Liesl - February 19, 2012 - 11:41 pm

    What a lovely, creative idea and beautiful photography, as always! 🙂

At the beginning of this Christmas season we had a talk about how to make this year more meaningful for our five year old, Kevin. He is young & very enthusiastic about gifts {which is perfectly ok}, but we wanted to help him notice all the other marvelous things about Christmastime. I’ve been seeing a lot of DIY Advent Calendars on Pinterest and was really intrigued by the idea of making one.

I have never counted down the days to Christmas in this manner or had one of my own, so I had to do some research. I noticed that some of the Advent Calendars had candy or gifts for each day, and others had a daily activity written on them. I really liked this type of calendar. Kevin is a “quality time” child and it was a good way to do that. He was always excited to find out our activity for the day & it was a bonus that it was also a good exercise for him to practice reading aloud. It was also a way to add more structure & discipline to our evenings. He knew that he needed to eat his dinner & be respectful so that we could do our daily activity. Rocky has been traveling a little more often lately, so it was a good way to keep busy with the kids while he was TDY. Some of the activity cards were geared toward helping others or giving, others told him to open a little gift {Swedish Fish or a small pack of Jelly Beans}. I used the birdseed favor from a wedding I photographed and we made a mini DIY bird feeder {one of our favorites}.

I wanted to design something that could be in plain sight of our home {match our existing Christmas decor} & that was large enough for my eclectic supplies. I ended up stealing the embroidery hoop filled with corkboard {my version of a memo board} from my home office & haven’t returned it yet! I used little odds & ends that I already had, sometimes borrowing from other pieces in the house. It was fun to make some of the ornaments & assemble this surprise for Kevin. Designing & creating this non-traditional Advent Calendar was a good pick-me-up for December & it was a fun way to help us celebrate Christmas a little bit every day. *

*We didn’t do it everyday & sometimes I copped out with a “let’s read a dollar store Christmas book tonight” card. 🙂

Kevin wasn’t particularly excited about writing Christmas cards to deployed soldiers, but I was proud of him for doing it. This is a picture of his daddy {Rocky} from basic training. He has been deployed over Christmas in the past, so it was important to me to do this one.
He drew one of them receiving a present & getting “cheered up from it.”
The DIY Birdseed Feeder was easier than I expected & pretty cute! Kevin liked making it & playing with the leftover gel {from the gelatin packet}.
I made this reindeer ornament with a cookie cutter + sprinkles. Kevin is 5 and Damian {Ocean} is 18 months. Moments like these make my heart swell.

The icing on the cake, was that on Christmas day {after we drove up to see my family in Findlay, Ohio}, we took the boys to ride the Northwest Ohio Railroad Preservation’s Polar Express {NWOR}. It’s a small “magical little train ride around our track decorated with sparkling lights and holiday decorations.” There is a little museum inside & lots of decorated Christmas trees + warm drinks. The staff was so cheerful & even had blankets waiting for us at the train since it was a cold evening. It was probably the best $6 {for all four of us} that we spent on Christmas! The boys had a lot of fun & it was the perfect surprise for them. You can find NWOR on Facebook, follow them for more information about train rides all year long!

Thanks for reading my Christmas flashbacks this weekend! I am really excited to post more weddings & engagements
in February {plus a special little DIY for Valentine’s Day}. Have a good week! ♥


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Around here we are embracing cooler weather & grey skies. The trees are subtly letting go of green and embracing amber hues.

Fall has arrived in crisp spirit & summer is becoming a sweet memory, {no matter how many calendar days say otherwise}.

I’m not sorry to dust off my boots & slip on cardigans.

I’m a Midwest girl & I love my seasons. ♥

Last June Alli & I shot a spread for Styled. The Art of Autumn Merry Making. It is an online magazine with “over 100 pages filled with some of my favorite ideas, people, projects and links for making merry this fall” says founding editor Victoria. You can view it online {perfect for viewing on your iPad} or you can purchase it in print!

Beautiful Cover Photograph By: JACKIE WONDERS

I always love working with Alli, the lovely writer of Hooray Design, because I always feel like we work in sync. Even though we’ve only met in person a few times, we can talk or be perfectly silent & it’s not awkward or intimidating. She is such a creative soul & I love how her thrifty ideas always inspire me! It’s easy to photograph her tables & DIY projects because I always feel so connected & excited about what I’m shooting.

These bottles are covered with scraps from an Anthropologie magazine… I love the colors & textures.

I want to throw a harvest party like this with ombre fruits & vegetables dressing up my table! 😀

Thanks for letting me share your creative & beautiful ideas Alli! See her post on Hooray Blog about this fall party here.

If you haven’t already, grab a pumpkin latte & check out Styled. this weekend!
Don’t forget to sneak in some time to browse Victoria’s blog, A Subtle Revelry.
She has a way of infusing original ideas on her posts, you’ll love her clever DIY projects! ♥

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