January 30, 2015

today/this weekend

After the craziness that was my life last year, especially last semester I vowed to be better at "showing up" at B's school this semester. I feel like I was barely hanging on last fall and couldn't do a darn thing as far as school stuff was concerned and I felt kinda guilty about it. So, today, I'm volunteering at B's school! School stuff isn't really my bag per se, but...I'm doing it. I'm also baking a yummy chocolate cheesecake today, our friends are coming for dinner tomorrow and it was my friend's husband's birthday this week and he's a cheesecake guy so...there you have it! B has been asking constantly if we can go to the AG doll store, she's been saving her money and wants to buy a pair of pjs for her doll so I think the 3 of us are going to make the trek to the Grove tomorrow for a fun outing before our company comes over. We're trying new church #9 this weekend, a gal invited s to give her church a whirl so...fingers crossed?! I would just love to have that feeling of "THIS is it!"

That's pretty much the haps around here, nothing too exciting, just every day life. :) I finally blogged a mini session from Waco over HERE so check out this cute fam! xo

January 28, 2015

fast January

Typically January crawls by for me, but not this year! Its crazy to me that we'll be in February this weekend! This weekend was super busy but good! We had a lot of fun out in Riverside with family and having our friends in town (even though it went by quickly) was so fun! Our friends (from Oregon) needed to be picked up in Redondo Beach, so rather than just drive out there and pick them up and come back home the 3 of us made a day of it. We decided to skip out on the church hunt and go to the beach...it was lovely. It was so nice to be on the beach, with no agenda and to watch B play in the ocean and build sand castles, it was life-giving. It was such a nice reprieve from church shopping that all 3 of us desperately needed. Mondays and Tuesdays are busy with driving/B's art classes but she's really enjoying them so that's great. We stopped by our old neighborhood (where we lived for a month when we first got here) and visited with Laura and Barb in between school/B's class, so fun to see them. Today I actually have to work...what?!! I have an engagement shoot today, I haven't "worked" in so long I can't tell if I'm nervous or excited? I think I still know how to use my camera...? Fingers crossed!

I've been trying lots of new recipes lately, last week I made a blackened chicken with avocado cream sauce..it had a kick! Last night I made this risotto with caprese chicken, it was really good! And the lemon bar cheesecake from last week was a hit! (truth be told...I don't think the water for my pasta ever got quite hot enough and the noodles were a bit too al dente...such a bummer for my company dinner!!). :/

All in all we're doing pretty well over here, we've almost been here 6 months and I would say we're definitely still adjusting but we're good. B wrote in her journal and let us read it and it was really really sweet, she was saying how "we live in a one story house and its great" and how she's "made good friends and likes it here." She still asks to go back to Waco of course but its so nice reading that she's adjusting and that she does like it here even though its not Texas, good for this mama's heart. :) Thanks for reading. xo

January 23, 2015

nothing in particular

Yesterday I spent the morning cleaning my house and doing laundry, and then a friend came over. This sweet gal has always been more of a "friend of a friend" and our time together has been limited but we've kept in touch through social media and I've always enjoyed her. Well, yesterday we got some quality one on one time and it was just good for the soul. We resonated with each other on certain things about this stage of life was that just...good. We're in different stages of life as far as child rearing, etc. but we had some really great common ground and I walked away from our time together feeling encouraged and wanting more! I hope we get to hang out again soon. :) My long-time dear friend, Chrissy was supposed to drive up from orange county today to hang out but poor thing got sick. :( Boo!! I was so looking forward to seeing her!! Adam and I are going to use this time to go on a date...a good back up option. :) Tonight my sweet realtor and her husband are coming to dinner, she hosted us a while back and it was a FEAST. I'm in no way attempting to compete with her fabulousness but it will still be tasty I think. :) Since I'm still working my way through the bowl of lemons from my friend's tree, I made this lemon bar cheesecake. I've only made it once before and it is SO good, its just a lot of work and needs to be done over several days to allow enough time for things to chill so its a rarity in my kitchen. I'm excited to dig into that tonight!! I'm also making Martha Stewart's pasta with 5 cheeses (so easy and so yummy), I made homemade croutons for a caesar salad and will try a from-scratch dressing, garlic bread, and these stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer. Fingers crossed! Tomorrow we're heading to Riverside to hang out with cousin Caila and her sweet fam, can't wait to see her cute house they recently moved into -she has great style! It will be good for B to get some good cousin time and to get out of Pasadena for an afternoon, a change of scenery is always good! :) Sunday our friends Brian and Lindsay from Oregon are coming into town and spending the night in the guest house- can't wait to see them! Its going to be a busy weekend around here, but so fun! I hope everyone had a lovely week, and has a great weekend! xo

January 20, 2015

MLK weekend

It was a nice, long weekend around here! Friday night we didn't do anything, we just hung out at home and had a chill evening, it was nice and low key. Saturday was also a very relaxing day, it was so pretty outside and we were cozy at home. Saturday night our babysitter came over and Adam and I met our friends for dinner and this yummy restaurant in old town that I don't know how I haven't been to before! It was SO good! It was super slow service but we were all okay with that, more time to chat with our friends who we hadn't seen in years, and to eat the yummy bread they kept bringing around. :) Our dinner was delish and then we were off to our friends gorgeous home for movie night. Our friend works in the entertainment industry so he has all the movies that are currently out in theatres so we cozied up in their home theatre and watched "The Imitation Game" -so good! We still got to watch on the "big screen" only on a comfy couch with cozy blankets and yummy snacks -we felt so spoiled! It was a lovely evening and great to be with friends. Sunday we tried new church #8, sigh. Adam and B enjoyed it more than I did...it was just too traditional for me, I can't do it. Sigh. WHY IS THIS CHUCH THING SO HARD?!!! Sadly, every church (so far) feels like settling and I hate that. :/ So yeah...we still don't know what we're doing. Sunday afternoon we went out to breakfast/lunch at "The Little Flower Candy Company" - a friend introduced me to it years ago and I hadn't been since, it was so yummy and a cool little place (and my mushroom and brie sandwich was delish!). We we're supposed to have friends over Sunday night but they had to cancel due to lice...so sad! (mainly for them of course but we were bummed to miss time with them). Monday we piled in the car and drove to Orange County to spend the day with our dear friends Matt and Meg and their FIVE kiddos! Adam went to high school with Meg and college with Matt so we've known these guys a long time. We spent the day walking with the kiddos around their neighborhood, feeding ducks, playing, getting ice cream, eating dinner, etc. We had a lovely day and it was so nice to be outside in the sunshine catching up. All in all, a really nice, long weekend -and back to work/school today! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend of their own and feels rested as the week starts! Thanks for checking in! xo

January 16, 2015

January 2015

Normally I'm not a fan of January, but this year...I don't mind it so much. Normally it was daunting for a lot of reasons, mainly looking at another year of big ol "????" when it came to where we would live the following year, another year of the job search for Adam, another year of applications and interviews that could potentially all be for nothing, etc. We lived that way a long time so its weird to now be on the other side...I almost don't know what to do with myself! When you live in limbo long enough, normalcy and predictability is so odd. I'm thankful for the answered questions, but of course new questions loom. Life...so weird, right?

This week was good, I loved seeing Daniel and his sweet family this week, man I love those guys. Daniel and Becky's little boy was bit in the face by a dog the day before they came over so poor guy had to get stitches and his face was all swollen, so, prayers for Henry would be greatly appreciated...so scary! Our visits with them are never long enough but I was so thankful for the time we did get. This weekend Adam and I are going to dinner with some of our friends who we haven't seen in years! My friend Des made reservations at a restaurant I can't wait to try so the 4 of us get an adult evening, can't wait! I just realized B doesn't have school on Monday so a nice long weekend for us! We have some friends coming over on Sunday to play so, we can stay up late and extend the weekend, fun. :)

I was reading a bloggers "new year's goal" of hosting 52 dinner parties in 2015, at first I thought to myself "that's crazy, a dinner party a week?!" But then I looked at my calendar and realized we've had people over for dinner pretty much weekly since we moved into our house and we have company coming over for the next several weeks coming up. I'm not making it a near year's goal per se but I love the idea of being intentional and having friends over for a meal. I always love when my home is filled with people so...here we go!

I've tried a couple new recipes lately, last night I made this crockpot chicken recipe that is kind of sweet and you shred the chicken and serve it over rice, Adam and B both liked it so that's a winner! And the other night I made filet mignon for Adam's first class of the semester and I made this yummy caprese salad with homemade balsamic dressing and it was delish! Of course I have no links since they are photos saved on my ipad so I realize not super helpful...sorry. :/

I think that's all the news for now, I have a phone date with a friend who's voice I haven't heard in way too long so I'm off! More to come. xo

January 12, 2015

getting my groove back

This transition to California has been a hard one for me and I don't think I've felt quite like myself in a while, but...I feel like I'm getting there. Looking at the calendar and making plans has made me feel a bit more normal and like I'm getting my old groove back. This weekend was good! Friday night we had some good friends over for dinner and we always have fun together so that was good stuff, Saturday we had a lazy day before B had a birthday party to get to, and then we joined her toward the end of the party and hung out with our friends and had dinner as the party was winding down, Sunday we went to church (one we've gone to a few times that we're still considering) and then we went out to lunch, came home and watched football and the Golden Globes. Chill and relaxing but with some good social stuff - my kind of weekend! This morning I drove to Glendora and had breakfast with one of my long-time dear friends, that is always good for the soul. I just found out one of my best friends from college is in town for the week so he and his family are coming for dinner on Wednesday, can't wait! I haven't seen him/them in a couple years and can't wait to soak up every second they are here! I'm thankful for friends that make California feel like home, its so nice to catch up with such great people who we've missed so much, that's the good stuff. I hope you all are having a lovely Monday, thanks for checking in on us. xo

January 9, 2015

nothing in particular

I've been looking at the calendar and making some plans -feels good. I've had some very low key days this week which has been kinda nice. Adam and I went on a date, to a movie and out to lunch before picking B up from school -love those days. :) B decided this week that she doesn't want to keep doing gymnastics. She was super into it and then...wasn't. So, art classes it is! I signed her up for a drawing/painting class and a sculpture class, hope that keeps her creative juices flowing! I think we both need to be inspired or we go a little stir crazy...the apple does not fall far. :)

I've tried some new recipes lately, I made a garlic chicken lasagna the other night, pretty good! I also tried this bacon smoked paprika gnocchi...I think I've decided I'm not a huge fan of smoked paprika but I do love gnocchi so I need to experiment a bit more. I recently discovered this AMAZING Italian deli/grocery store, I used to live right by it so I guess I always knew of it, but the other day I actually went it and my mind was BLOWN. I need to start making more legit Italian dishes! I bought some of their dough and made pizza last night...pretty darn good! I have to look up the conversions from celsius to fahrenheit on the frozen products which remind me of my Irish life. :)

I'm still plugging away at the business side of getting MWP up and running, starting over is no joke and of course CA is not near as small-business friendly as TX...sigh. I'm making good progress though.

In other news, we're off to Mexico next month! I am SO EXCITED I can hardly stand myself! Our friends who took us with them to their time share in 2013 have asked us back so, we're getting the band back together! All 4 couples that went last time are coming again and I am giddy with anticipation! I'm not sure if I'm more excited about being with those sweet Wacoans or being in Mexico!! 44 days and counting! :) :) :)

I think that's all the news around here for now, gotta hop in the shower and meet my friend for lunch! (I know, its a rough day :).

Head on over HERE to check out this family session! xo

January 5, 2015

2014 Review/Word of the year "Intense"

Happy 2015, everybody!! Sorry (not sorry) for the blog lull, it was a crazy couple weeks there! During the second week of December we decided to buy last minute plane tickets and fly to Waco to surprise our friends, it was so good for our souls and some of the best money we've ever spent. Sorry I couldn't get the video of B running to her friends loaded on the post below, I was having technical difficulties. But, I imagine most folks that still read this sad little blog are friends or family of mine and thus saw the video on instagram or facebook so most bases probably covered. :) It was a GREAT week of basking in the company of some of our favorite people (who really, we consider family that we chose :) and eating some of our favorite Texas foods that we miss. It was a life giving trip and we all walked away with full cups. We were home for a  day (and went to a fabulous Christmas party the one day we were home) before hopping in the car and driving to the northwest. Its been a whirlwind around here that's for sure! We hadn't been "home" for Christmas in several years so it was so nice to be back in OR and WA with the fam and watching B with her cousins, good stuff. Cousin Mike spent a couple nights with us upon our return to CA and we all rang in the new year together and he and Adam went to the Rose bowl to cheer the ducks onto victory on new years day! Its been busy for us, but good busy. :) B goes back to school tomorrow (since we took her out of school for a week to go to TX that girl has had a LONG break!), and Adam will slowly resume his work schedule this week as well even though classes don't start for him for another week. It's been a really nice break for the 3 of us after a very intense year. I have dubbed 2014 "intense" -that is the word that comes to my mind when I think of the year as a whole. And on that note, lets re-cap 2014, shall we? :)

Lets see, 2014...to be honest, it was not my most favorite year but it was FULL of great memories and good things that I am so thankful for and its important to acknowledge the good with the bad/hard.

Some of my favorite things that 2014 brought:

~spring break trip to New Orleans, LA with our family of 3


~my sister Stephanie coming to visit us in TX

~Brennan being a flower girl in 2 weddings for 2 of our beloved college students

~Molly Winn Photography's best year and the year I feel like I really became a wedding photographer

~shooting for Magnolia/HGTV's show "Fixer Upper" ~ that was great fun

~Wrapping up 4 years with our college students, this experience was a highlight of my life and I still can't talk about it/write about it without my eyes brimming with tears

~both of my sisters and my sister-in-law got married!

~Our family went to Hawaii with grandma and granddad and had an amazing week (and Adam and I celebrated our 14 year wedding anniversary)

~we bought and re-modeled our new house in Altadena, CA

~re-connecting with old friends from CA

~spontaneous trip to Waco, TX to visit our friends!

The hard things that 2014 brought:

~Adam getting a job at APU, thus causing us to leave our beloved Waco (sniff)

~selling our home in Texas

~moving....need I say more?

~B having to leave her school and start at a new one

~saying goodbye to our friends/church/life in TX -really, this falls into several categories so I'll just leave it at that

~major downsizing

~CA prices on everything!

~me having to essentially "let go" of my business. Yes, of course it still exists but lets be honest, starting over is haaaaaard

~just the general "starting over" in pretty much every regard (thankfully I'm not starting from scratch with friends, so thankful for that!)

2014 wasn't a bad year, my husband got a job in one of our favorite places after a 14 year journey for petesake! Thankful is what we are!! I hope that is clear, I don't ever want to seem ungrateful or like we've taken that huge blessing for granted, it just brought about a lot of hard change is all. I think that's fair to say. When I look back on 2014 I feel like it was really rushed, really intense, really busy and stressful, and just really hard. I'm not sad to see 2014 go but I also feel weird about 2015. Normally by now I feel like I've processed a new year a bit more and made some goals, and had some intentional thoughts about what I want to do better/differently, etc. but this year I haven't had much time for that yet, I think it will come. I know I want to be better than I was in 2014, I know I want to be less busy and more intentional with my friends. I want to enjoy the days more and not feel like I'm just surviving them. I want to be inspired and to take in the uniqueness that California has to offer. I haven't lived here in a long time so I want to re-connect with the aspects of it that I love. I want to let go of the hurt that I feel from people who have chosen to not engage with me in the ways I had hoped. Life is too short for that. Easier said that done, but something I want to work on. I really want to find a church that we can plug into and not keep bouncing around each week. I want to make better food and keep trying new things. I want to make fun memories with my daughter and do new things together. I want to do work that inspires me and be a better photographer. I have lots of thoughts swirling around in my mind, just need to put some intentionality into place I think. :)

This post is getting really long and rambly, if anyone has made it this far...whoa. I think I'm just processing as I type which always ends up being a little much. :)

Well, happy new year all, as always, thanks for reading! I hope 2015 is a great one all around and that this little blog makes it another year! xo