Easy Laundry (Room) Makeover

The family and I staycationed last week, in order to tackle building a new fence.  We figured the kids would benefit from a place where I could contain them or send them when they are a little too chaotic.  My husband headed up the fence building, recruited his buddies to help and I did my part of cheering him on from the back porch with my glass of wine.

my husband loves when I have an idea for a house projectA week at home with Pinterest and coffee usually turns into me starting a house project.  Husband was off limits and I was only working with the little ones nap time and after bed so I had to dream small. When I saw my husbands, kind but concerned look after I told him I was contemplating repainting the kitchen cabinets, I decided maybe I should bite off a smaller task. 

Small House Project Decision: Laundry Closet

Our Laundry “Room” is actually more like a closet, but it is attached to our main living room and usually the first thing people see when they walk into my house.  It’s NEVER closed, because when does laundry actually ever come to a complete stop? I decided that I could maybe perk up this space so that as my bra is hanging to dry for the world to see, it would at least have a cute backdrop.

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I started with an oops paint can I had grabbed from Lowes.  I did NOT like how the first pink turned out—it was definitely pepto bismol and my husband said it made our whole living room glow pink.  I happened to luck out again with a much more perfect peach/pink and love how it turned out.  But it needed a little more character. 

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I considered tiling but ended when I realized it involved a tile saw.  Then I stumbled upon these peel and stick subway tiles.  I was skeptical but considering the price decided it was worth the risk.   When they came in the mail I was pleased with how they looked and their 3-D structure make them look more realistic.  They were super easy to apply.

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Here’s how to apply them:

Use an exacto knife to cut a straight edge

Peel and apply to the wall at one corner

Peel the next tile and place over the “overlap” here space.

Trace and cut around outlets and then peel

A few tips: Use a level and if you misplace a tile you can quickly pull off (will take off dry wall if stuck too long).

 

my overall impression: I can tell that it’s not real tile when I get close to it, but I figured it would work for the mean time and my wallet was happy.  I probably wouldn’t put it in my kitchen but I liked that it would add a little something to this laundry room. 

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I threw a towel rack on the inside of the wall for drying things and I spray painted the door handles with some gold paint and VOILA! The whole thing took two afternoons and less than $50.  A brand new place for laundry do-ing.  I love it and it makes this mom life a little more fun!  (and I didn’t steal my husband from building the new fence.)

 

-Erin

how to make cold brew

I prefer to vibe in all possible ways.  For Mother’s Day, I asked for a little landscaping work in the backyard and a hammock to open things up and allow for proper summer vibing as I sip my drinks and water my flowers and listen to the kids argue and beg for me to get them snacks watch the kids play.

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(There used to be overgrown bushes where those cute little astilbes are now)

One of the beverages I’ll be sipping on this summer is cold brew.  Jeff and I ordered this cold brew maker from Amazon and it’s now a staple like milk or water.  Or wine.

All of the instructions came in a different language, so here’s a tutorial on how to make it.

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how to makecold brew

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I like to add some mocha creamer for an iced mocha feel, or just a splash of regular milk.  I love having a full pitcher of cold brew ready in the fridge.  It’s the perfect drink to relax and recharge with while chatting with a friend.  Maybe I should add a thermos of this cold brew to the list of pool bag essentials.

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-rach

making summer count

I’ve never been good at time management. The people in my life would probably describe me as a free bird, but with lots of fails I’ve learned to thrive in structure. Carving out time for the things that are important actually creates more freedom for those impromptu and spontaneous moments.

if we fight to own our time, then we will have the freedom to give it away when it matters

Lately I feel like I’ve been flailing. I should be excited that summer is coming and I will be getting more time in with my children but instead I’ve felt an anxiousness. I realized it’s because it’s time to figure out a new schedule and how I hope to manage my time.

My number one goal this summer is slow. I want to be intentional. I want to carve out time to love people well. I feel like time is kind of like money. The way we spend it shows where our heart lies. We spend some, we give some and we save some.

making time to be intentional this summer
These neutral Essie polishes: lady likehaute in the heat are perfect for bare toes this summer!

Spend some: Just like finances, we have to be responsible individuals and do things like pay bills. I feel like “spending time” includes things like jobs, responsibilities, tasks and duties. This is the biggest portion of time in my life –and one I have to be the most structured with.  Just like a budget, I am practicing staying focused at work and giving my best when I’m there. I’m also working on not putting unrealistic expectations on myself when it comes to duties like house chores, meal prep and ALL the Mom things. I feel like if I can set these up in a reasonable space and give myself some grace on not being perfect, it will open up more of the “saving” and “giving” time slots—which I think is where the best of life happens.

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This new jumper I got from Old Navy is so easy to wear and livable.  It’s fun dressed up with these heels or for an everyday mom style with sandals and a turban.

Save some: I think this is where we put priorities: your people.  It’s an investment.  The time I pour into my children or intentionally with just a few people will grow deep rooted relationships. I hope to be purposeful in carving out time to be together, for my husband and kids and my friends. I also think it is so important to make time to recharge.  I hope to do this with by trying to be in the moment, to turn off my phone more, by having quiet porch times journaling and praying, by sipping coffee in the mornings and by taking a few naps.

Give some: With our money, sometimes I will intentionally donate to a cause and other times it’s more impromptu and I come across a homeless man on the corner needing a little help. Whether its committing to serve somewhere long term or an impromptu chance to make a friend a warm meal or lend a stranger your listening ear, I think with time, if I am careful with my “spending” I will create more opportunities to give away to others.

The crazy thing about time is that we all only get 24 hours in a day. No one gets any more or any less. We have to choose how we spend it, I want to be purposeful. The kids and I sat down and wrote out a “Summer Bucket List” in hopes to be purposeful in making memorable moments.

-Erin

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P.S. These are my new favorite sunglasses and I love these modern statement hoop earrings.

ways to practice being mindful — as a mom


I always hear “live in the moment” but lately I have been really chewing on that thought over and over in my head. The word that comes to me now is being “mind-full”. I left feeling like I need to keep my mind “full” of the present—not looking forward or backward, and just focusing on what’s happening right in front of me. Often we spend half our time feeling bad about the past, or the other half of the time worrying about the future. No wonder we have no time left over to live in the now. No wonder at the end of the day I feel a hollowness.

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Being a mom can be such a hard and self-destructive job.  Some days I feel like I am “nailing” this mom thing.  Others (actually most), I go to bed replaying all the things I wish I could have done differently. Things I wish I would have said. Moments where I wish I would’ve been more patient.  Words I wish I wouldn’t have yelled. The time I wasted caring about messes and loud noises. 

What if the best gift we can give to our kids and to ourselves is to be mindful?  What if we stopped feeling bad for missing field trips or forgetting to have them brush their teeth?  What if we didn’t wish away the “witching hour” or tune out that question they’ve already asked 1000 times?  What if we stopped trying so hard to be the mom we always thought we ought to be and we embraced the mom that we can be?  What if we focused on the now; the reality, what’s true.

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A truth I can stand on right now is that this very moment is enough.  I got the morning with my two littles.  There were some fights and there were some smiles.  We sang with the windows down and I also fought with my kid as he kept trying to slide across the grocery store floor. This very minute I am breathing (which in itself is a miracle), there are clouds coming in after the rain; the sun is starting to shine through the room; I have a cup of coffee and while the smallest one sleeps; I’m trying to get work done but I’m also listening to my 4 year old convince me that magic is real.

Being mindful to me means taking the good with the hard. Accepting it for what it is. This moment is real and true and pure and beautiful.

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sit – just be.  close your eyes or pick something to focus on.  breathe in some deep breaths and pay attention to the sounds and smells around you.

create – when your hands move your mind slows down.  let your own expressions out as you make and busy your hands.  be aware of the colors, the textures, the mediums. enjoy your work

get outside – nature is so healing.  even when my babies were fussy, i could get them to calm down when we went outside.  take a walk and look for beauty and surprises in the world out there.

gratitude journal – this is my favorite. when i feel life getting to me, i come back to this tool all the time.  I write down a bulleted list of the things that i was thankful for that day or recently.  It usually involves the simple things like a cute thing said by my kids or a text from a friend or a quote in a book or that extra help i didn’t expect.  when i get into the pattern of writing these small things down, i start looking for more moments in the everyday.

-Erin

spring fever and porch decorating

I officially have spring fever.  I have diagnosed myself.  I don’t even need a search on the google machine and I don’t need WebMD.   Symptoms include: heart swelling at the sound of birds chirping, not being able to leave a store without a plant purchase, countless hours spent in Target outdoor section,  excessive planting of herbs and flowers, not being able to sit indoors,  incessant talking about grass, trees, and landscaping, purchasing of new garden gloves and cute watering cans, and only able to eat foods made on an outdoor grill or foods that yell “IT’S SPRING EAT ME!”

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So, obviously, I have a wish list.  Here’s what I’m wanting to put on my porch and my deck this year.

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links: hammockwreathlanternplanterpillowstoolbench, rug, string lights

This past winter was a long one.  I was honestly unsure if it was going to end.  When I finally saw Spring coming, I began to catch all the feels.  I woke up and it was sunny and 60 degrees and my entire inside world began to change with the outside.   I began to feel hopeful and more energetic.  And then, the next day, it rained.  And I wasn’t mad at the rain like I usually am because I am a grown person and I have things to do and rain makes those things harder and less fun.  Instead, I began thinking about the rhythm of the cold and the warmth and rain and dryness.  It’s all part of this plan that is so much bigger than our plans.  This death and life cycle is necessary and out of our hands.  Certain parts of the cycle are easier to enjoy and bring so much hope to our souls.  I am working out in my brain the parts of the cycle that are hard to enjoy… the purpose of them.  While I am not resting until I feel like I’ve bottled every ounce of sunshine I can,  I’m processing the winter that comes every year.  I think Spring is meant to be enjoyed.  It’s a time for planting and nurturing, for playing and watching.  I am wondering about the hard parts.  The parts that are maybe not meant to be enjoyed, but maybe they’re the path to get to the ones we enjoy.  I didn’t do winter very well.  I met my “limit” or my “capacity” for it and was DONE.   And now that the easy part is here, the part where everyday looks like a painting and a gift,  I’m thinking about how we all made it through the hard part and now we are on the other side.  And maybe HOW we make it through the hard part is the purpose of the winter and spring is the gift.

if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant.

love,

racheal

Our Trip to Disney

Today is my first day back at work since we left for vacation.  Coming back to real life is rough, amiright?  Especially coming back from a place where literally everything is focused on you forgetting about the actual world you live in so that you focus on all the entertainment in front of you.  Not gonna lie, I love it.

I also love the first day of vacation.  I love taking in all the smells and sights. I love thinking about how we have the next several days to just be together and away from reality.  The second we got to the hotel, we threw our swimsuits on and jumped in the pool.  After the kids got their pajamas on, my parents volunteered to watch them while we went on a double date with my sister and her husband.  Beer and so. many. sweets in Disney Springs.

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The next day,  we hit up Magic Kingdom.  That’s kind of a must for us to do first.  Allll the character meet and greets.  And more sweets.  That evening we headed to my favorite park for sushi in Japan – Epcot.   I love Epcot.  I love getting to walk around the World Showcase and smell the different foods coming from all the different countries.  They do such a good job of letting you feel the vibes of each country.

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The next day was my favorite day this trip – Animal Kingdom.  It started with Mickey Mouse waffles and included spiked chai, a safari, an impromptu dance party in the street, popcorn, rides, and Rainforest Cafe. And, you guessed it, more sweets and character meet and greets.  I started to sort of be over waiting in the lines to meet the characters.  But then I see this face and it’s worth it.

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On the third day, we went to Epcot.  This day was also Nora’s birthday.  We went to a Princess breakfast and strolled around the World Showcase.

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We asked her what she wanted for dinner for her birthday and she said “I want a cheeseburger in Magic Kingdom because it’s magical there.”  Off we went back to Magic Kingdom for a magical cheeseburger (she changed her mind last minute and got magical mac and cheese instead), more sweets, and a firework show.

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Our last day was spent at Hollywood Studios.  It started raining around lunch, so we went back to the hotel, but not before we met Olaf, Princess Sofia and Jeff rode Rockin’ Roller Coaster.

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Disney is one of those trips you have to go into knowing that some parts of it will be stressful.  And we did have some of those moments.  Waiting in lines is hard, crowds are hard, spending $10 on a kids meal is hard.   Other than those things, though, it’s almost magical.   So many memories.  I will be treasuring them and living off of them for a while.

 

-rach

My Number One Travel Tip

Two years ago my family met my parents and my sister and her family in Disney World.  My parents are very generous and wanted to take us all – mainly to “watch Nora’s face when she  meets all the princesses.”  It was both magical and stressful.  There were countless meltdowns and temper tantrums.  There were also memorable moments, spiked chai, and fireworks.  Now that my sister’s little boy and mine are a little bit older, we are going again.  Nora will turn seven while we are there, and my parents wanted to celebrate her birthday there.

I am a trip person.  I would say a travel person, or a traveler.  But, let’s be real, “traveler” invokes the sense that the person doing the traveling is flying over large bodies of water to get to their destination and the destination usually includes people that speak a different language or sound very different.  I’m not yet a traveler, because, well, dollar bills and children. 

We do however, make 700 mile trips down to Mississippi to visit my family about three times a year.  I’ve noticed a rhythm to those trips.  About two weeks prior, I get a low grade panicky feeling.  That manifests itself in a myriad of ways.  I begin to think everyone in my family is sick with every illness I’ve heard of in the past few days.  To be fair, we’ve had quite our share of pink eyes, stomach bugs, RSVs, colds, flus, etc. on these trips.  I also begin thinking that our house will not be clean enough or that some force of nature will destroy our house while we are gone.  To be fair, we’ve had mice take shelter in our house as well as had our basement flood costing over 10k in damages while we’ve been gone.  All that being said, I feel like I can never prepare well enough for our health and home safety when traveling.

So those are all my feelings when I am going to my parents’ home.  Add those feelings to the feelings of planning to take my two young children to the “happiest place on Earth”.  So. Much. Pressure.  And it’s not only taking my two young children to the happiest place on Earth.  It’s also seeing my sister and her husband and her little boy who also looks just like Eli and my mom and my dad – all of whom I see about six times a year.  Last time we went, I was a little confused when I got home because I felt slightly guilty.  I couldn’t figure out why until I thought for a while and I realized it was because I had just spent six days around everyone and had no meaningful face to face conversations.  That’s just not the focus of the trip – which is okay and a little weird, because we usually try to cram in all the words when we see each other. I’d spent the whole time staring at the kids’ faces to take things in or managing meltdowns.  It was both magical and stressful.

Going into all of it a second time, I’m armed with my number one tip for traveling with kids. Low expectations.  Like, real low.  I have found that having low expectations on trips usually leads to more memorable experiences.  We will go on this trip armed with every snack the kids will eat, all the Mickey Mouse shirts, fast passes, and character meal reservations.  We will also go on this trip armed with perspective and low expectations. _I like Cinderella - she has a good work ethic and she likes shoes._- Amy Adams (1)

Having low expectations doesn’t mean we aren’t excited.  It just means our joy isn’t going to be found in the happiest place on Earth. I fully expect to find some happiness while sipping wine in Italy or eating my Mickey Mouse pretzel in Magic Kingdom.  I expect to find some happiness in watching the kids meet princesses or watching the terror on their faces on Splash Mountain.  I also expect to see tons of eye rolls and tears. While we will all find things we want and enjoy there, we won’t find anything we need.  

I do love preparations.  I love making lists and packing the “park backpack” and planning what we will eat.  But my favorite thing to prepare for, on any vacation, is what I will wear.  I LOVE vacation outfit planning.  Disney World outfit planning was quite the puzzle because the number one concern is comfort because you literally walk all day.  Don’t worry, though.  I figured it out.  I planned a few outfits that I feel like are a good cross section of style and comfort.  I found some fun vintage style Disney shirts and I’m pairing them with shorts and comfortable but cute shoes.  Topping it all off with some cheap and fun sunglasses.  I’ll be packing the rose gold circle necklace along with some rose gold studs.  No clue what the kids will wear (I kid, I kid).

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mickey mouse shirt

jean shorts

sunglasses

shoes

_I like Cinderella - she has a good work ethic and she likes shoes._- Amy Adams

 

the pressure to be perfect and learning to be myself

EVERY year, my family and I go to a local greenhouse on the first weekend before spring.  It started a long time ago and has kind of become a celebration of surviving a “midwest winter.”  (It tends to drag on and on, teasing you every once in a while with a warm day, only to divert back to freezing rain the next.) So we go, and each year as our family grows we take in all of the things that mean spring.  The bright colors, the smell of dirt, all of the opportunities of our soon-to-fail square foot garden.  It’s kind of become a celebration. 

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This year, I thought it would be fun to write a little post on this sweet family tradition.  This will be great.  I figured all the kids were off school, I’ll bring my camera, snap a few pictures…perfect!

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Well, in short, that was optimistic.  The reality I found myself in was actually more something along the lines of this: an hour drive of arguing and whining and ‘are we there yets”, followed by bad attitudes from not eating breakfasts and us all still trying to make it through daylight savings. There was rain, lots of rain. My children running: on tables, down aisles, over to fountains, into breakables and away from me.  And the worst part: me and my big fat need to get the best pictures for a post. 

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My dumb attitude was the worst part.  As much as I wished it wasn’t about getting the perfect picture, that is exactly what that outing soon became all about. I snapped at my sister, at my kids, at my mom.  All because of the pressure I was putting on myself to get that great shot.  To look cute, but not stupid.  To pose my uncooperative kids, to get the right lighting and to make sure I was sucking in. 

I don’t know if you guys have ever felt this.  I tend to be a perfectionist and when everything out there already seems to be perfect and I am such a hot mess (even when I try so hard not to be) the pressure is too much.  Who am I trying to be anyways?  It’s just a dang picture.  But I think it’s more than that.  I think it’s the scary part of trying to put myself out there more.  Anytime you share yourself, in any way, it’s vulnerable.  And though I wish I was cool enough to rise above it, I fall hard into the struggle to be perfect trap.

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And you guys, in my chase for perfection, for the best photos, I missed the moment.  I missed my kids having a great time, smiling. My cutest little nephew who I do NOT get to see near enough and who is running now.  I missed time with my mom. Asking her about her work, their upcoming trip and her concern for a dear friend who’s husband was sick.  I missed my sister, who I treasure time with, and asking her about her growing business, and how mom life feels and what she’s looking forward to.  I missed Everett recognizing some of the plants and planning out what herbs we’re going to plant this year.  I missed Courtland’s dimple grin and the sheer happiness to be with the whole family.  I missed Isla’s first time really experiencing the flowers and how every single aisle was an opportunity to explore.  

family outing spring

On the ride home we stopped at a drive-thru for coffee and as we were paying, my oldest son shouted through the window at the barista. “I love your voice!”  So I rolled down my window so he could tell her again. Interpreting for him I said “my son thinks you sound like a nice person.” She smiled so big and through the suckers she gave them, I could tell it meant a lot to her. 

I kept thinking of that.  “I like your voice!”  I think I am learning. When I am just me, when I am “my voice” and not trying to be any one else’s, or trying to say/be what I think people want or trying to look how I think I should look, or be someone I think I should be, I am way more free.”

spring succulents

When Racheal and I decided to blog more this year, it was because of a pull we both feel to just be ourselves in hopes of encouraging others to do the same. We want to be human, along with other humans.  There is a lot out there telling us how to be someone else, but that’s not why we are each made so different and diverse.  Its nice to see someone just be themselves, don’t you think?  When I see someone else being “human” I feel like I get them.  I feel like “I can do that too.” We should be inspired and encouraged by other’s honesty and vulnerability because it creates a real connection.  No one is perfect, no matter how hard they try, so I’m gonna work on not trying.

-erin

i'm not perfect so i'm going to stop trying to be

45 Minute Boot Camp Workout and Living Healthy-ish

I feel like part of growing up is having periodic “come to Jesus” moments with yourself.  About three years ago,  I had one of these moments.  I was annoyed that my jeans felt tight and I was annoyed when I saw other women eat things like pizza and sweets and it SEEMED like they never gained a pound.  I was grumpy and dissatisfied.  Then, out of nowhere, clarity came.  It sounded like this, “Racheal. This is literally your body.  You are wasting precious time comparing.  Accept and love what you’ve got.  If you want a fitter body, you’re gonna have to work for it.”   Here’s the deal.  I have a slow-ish metabolism.  I’ve not had that medically diagnosed or anything, but I just know.  And all those movies and shows where the cool girl is the one who can eat cheeseburgers all day and all the people love her because she’s cool and happy and not eating salads always used to make me eyeroll so hard.  But during my come to Jesus with myself moment, this weird thing happened where I realized that the hurdles I have to jump through to be a fitter and healthier version of myself would actually also change me for the better on the inside.  I could complain and stare at junk food all day and compare, or I could own who I was and the body I’m given.  And to me that meant changing how I ate and working out.  All the times I’d started in the past had lasted a few weeks and then just dissolved.  But this time, it was different because it started inside.  It was like I’d been given this body so that I could learn consistency and discipline in a real way.  Those things don’t come naturally to me, so it was like a lightbulb went off for me.  This was how I was going to learn to be more consistent and disciplined, which is more important than how I look, because those qualities trickle into every other area of my life. Since I started this whole journey, I’ve developed a love for exercise and eating healthy (read healthy-ish, meaning I also still love wine and Mexican food, among other things).

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My workout essentials are cute workout clothes, bluetooth headphones, and a good playlist.  I got an Apple Watch for Christmas, and while it’s definitely not necessary to have a fitness tracker to be fit, I have enjoyed seeing (read “ruthlessly competing with”) my sister and other friends’ workouts on the Activity app.  I also love being able to throw on a turban to cover up all the craziness happening in my hair after working out.

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I am in no sense of the word a nutritionist and I’m also not a fitness trainer.  These people work very hard and are much, much smarter than me in their specialties.  But I thought I’d share with you a workout that Erin and I did last week that I’m still sore from as I’m writing this.

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I burned (according to my Apple Watch) 425 calories during this workout, so I felt like it was a good one!

 

-racheal

i think it's adorable they're putting jokes on the side of snacks now. like listen to this one_serving size_ 3 cookies

Getting in the Frame

We had our last (for now) photo shoot with Lexi at Brighton Road Photography at the beginning of February.  She’s been taking our pictures since August 2014.  She gets us.  She knows our brand almost as well as us and can make it come to life with her art.

Our first shoot with her was over-the-top-amazing. We had a horse and a couch, outside, by a lake.  There were outfit changes and on site hair and makeup.  There was even a person with a clipboard.

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Over the years, the shoots have been near the Missouri river.

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At an art museum.

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At Lexi’s house.

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Outside in downtown KC.

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At the local coffee shop.

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On a roof in KC.

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In an office building.

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And in our homes.

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The last shoot we did was in Weston, MO in a photography studio inside of a barn.  This last shoot focuses on our rose gold line.  We constantly strive to create pieces that easily fit in a busy woman’s closet.  We want our accessories to be able to go with a plain black tee, leggings and a jacket, or a funky pair of overalls.  We feel like this line really came out the way we intended, with versatility and whimsy.

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We had a throwback but modern vision for the shoot that only included us.  No props, no crazy beautiful scenery in the background.  Just us.

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Erin and I each have our own insecurity issues that come with standing in front of a camera.  From body image to hair to wrinkles, you name it, we’ve been insecure about it.   Add those insecurities to standing in front of a white background with nothing else for an eye to fall on, we were a bit nervous.  In the end, the pictures came out beautifully.

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You know what, though? As pretty as a picture is, if your own self is the focal point, I’d like to meet one woman who doesn’t first criticize herself.   I get so excited to get the email from Lexi, “Your pictures are ready!” Our first thoughts are, “What will our products look like? Will our vision and inspiration come through in the pictures?”  Then our second thought is, “I hope I look okay.”

Here’s where we are at in all of it though.  It’s not about us.  We don’t know all of what “it” is, but we do know it isn’t about us.  Our job is to keep doing the next right thing.  And so much of the time, that next right thing is getting over ourselves enough to put one foot in front of the other.  For this, it was getting over ourselves enough to get in front of the camera.  And maybe that will encourage someone else to do the same.  We know that we are not different from other women in this.  We are all afraid to put ourselves in front of the camera.  I think that so many pictures are missing some very important people in them because of fear and insecurity.  I want to be able to sit with my kids years from now and pull out pictures and go through all the memories with them and feel apart of all of it. Have you ever noticed how much joy you get from watching someone you love be proud of themselves?  When we watch our little girls hop around on a ballet stage and smile.  Or when we see our little boys running as fast as they can on the field.  It breaks our hearts when they aren’t confident, and we do everything we can to build them up.  I imagine, even if our kids can’t articulate it, they feel a similar joy when we feel confident enough to be in a picture with them. Maybe the next right thing is jumping in the frame a little more often.