Evergreen | Utah Christmas Photography

greenapplephotography_0001_evergreenshoot Love Elements Evergreen ~ Snow ~ Winter Crowns

I'm going to be 100% honest here, this shoot was intense! Sometimes, somethings, throw you for a loop, and this happened to be one of them. It was cold, it was snowy, it was dangerous driving, there were equipment malfunctions and dead car batteries. And despite all the crazy, there were four beautiful girls, and four beautiful hair wreaths, three cold mama's, who were worried about the cold babies, and a whole bunch of Christmas Tree Lot Dude's, who thought we were absolutely nutsos.

Sometimes that's just how life goes, and I'd like to say I always weather that storm with clear eyes, and a peaceful heart, but truth be told, my mind goes a million miles per minute, my heart starts beating even harder, and I might get a little flustered from time to time. But despite it all, I think this is one of the most satisfying shoots. There's something to say for being proud, when your vision needs to change suddenly. Like that cute, vintage sled I had? Yeah, we scrapped that. Hot chocolate, soon became cold chocolate. Life happens, sometimes in the middle of a shoot. BUT, Allison, who as always, completely wins with beauty and awesomeness, made the most beautiful wreaths, was my rock, when I needed calm, and ran back and forth providing blankets and warmth and love. And her beautiful words (which you should read over here,) convey the truth of our intentions and the magic, I'm proud to say, I think we still accomplished.

A huge thanks to Sophie, Chloe, Zoee and Nora!

Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope that if this season has been a bit hectic, crazy, and not exactly as planned, that we can all enjoy with our families these precious days, and enjoy the magic that is the season!

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Florals: La Fete, Allison Baddley

Sweet Little Peanut Valentine's Day Party

Lucy and I were recently invited to the sweetest Valentine's Day Party. Megan, from Sweet Little Peanut, is just one super-talented, super-organized, super-creative momma. She put together such a darling party, and Lucy can't stop talking about it (especially, the entire bag of candy she snuck into her skirt.) The kids gave Valentine's, drank pink milk, frosted cookies, and stole kisses. Thank you so much Megan for such a great day! And check out Sharstin's cute littles. These kids were too much!

If you haven't checked out Sweet Little Peanut, you need to, stat! I have bookmarked every single Valentine's Day craft.

Sharstin and Megan, hard at work!

Sweet Little Peanut Valentines Day Party

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to photography the sweetest little Valentine's Day Party! Here's a little peak, but there is plenty more to see over at Sweet Little Peanut's Blog! If you are familiar with Utah Bride Blog and Pink Piggy Design, then you will recognize the fabulous Megan Bailey, who is the creator of Sweet Little Peanut.

Lucy and I had the best time! Also, check out Sharstin Miller's cute little kiddies! So fun!

Independence Day | An ode to the small town

I don't technically live in a small town. I love in a mediumish town, nestled around a lot of bigger towns. But sometimes, it feels like I do. I can walk across the street to go the Farmer's Market every Friday and Saturday in August. I can also walk across the street to go to the local swimming pool, feed the ducks, find a running trail, or take Lucy to the playground. We watch Fireworks from our front lawn, have concerts in the park, and for the last week, we can hear the baseball game from our open windows at night. We love where we live. We love that come Independence Day we pack up our blankets, walk half a block, and watch our quirky little parade with all our neighbors. The Murray Parade may not be the shiniest, and it certainly isn't the fanciest, but it is ours. This is the first place we have lived, in our 12 years of marriage, where we have felt intimately connected to our hood and I like to think of Lucy and Jack making memories here.

Remember the parade, mom, where they wanted us to save the Prairie Dogs?

Or when we went swimming and went down the blue monster?

And got ice cream in the park? The orange building that our neighbor runs, and gives out free kiddie cones?

One day we will have to leave, because 780 square feet on the main level is pretty small for two adults, two kids and a dog who weighs more than most of us. But for right now, at this start of our family, this memory making home is magical.


First things first, Lucy will only wear pink. That may or may not be obvious further on.

Easter was a big deal this year. For the first time since, well forever, I took the Saturday off. Ever since Lucy was born, I have been meaning too, and then I would forget. Now that she is old enough to enjoy holidays, I wanted to make sure to do something special with her. And so the idea of a neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt was born. I joined forces with my friends Maren and Leslee, and we threw a party for the whole neighborhood. It was so much fun, and I think super successful for a first go around. We made a block party of it at Maren's house, which she decorated beautifully, and her trees bloomed accommodatingly. We divided up the kids into age groups, hid a few special golden eggs in tricky places, blew a train whistle (why not?) and let the kids go at it. It was really so much fun, and nice to get to the know the neighborhood a little bit better.

I brought one roll of film, and unfortunately got so excited, I only took pictures of the set-up, Lucy, and her good friend Olive. But I think we probably had 60 people there. It was pretty awesome watching 30 or so kids run around like crazy, or like Lucy, cautiously picking up her eggs. Easter Egg hunting was followed by brunch, and the only boo, was to the two cars that drove through our barricades, going faster than the speed limit, knocking over garbage cans, and pulling our decorations along with them. Luckily, there weren't any kiddies, in the street, but seriously, who does that?

And here is Lucy in pink dress #2, and our own Easter Egg hunt after church. We dyed eggs the night before, but mainly Lucy just wanted to drink the dye water. We put a Tablespoon of oil in our dye cups to get the marble effect, which, come to think of it, couldn't have made it taste that good. I had pinned probably 20 different Easter Egg ideas, but ultimately went with the easiest and cheapest. I think they turned out pretty. Can you guess which color of egg was Lucy's favorite?

By the way, if you are ever interested in doing your own hunt like this, this is what we did and it worked well,

-We hand delivered the invitations. Luckily, our neighborhood is small enough, and we got them out early enough that people could plan on it, but not so early they forgot about it. About 10 days before the hunt -We had the parents bring a dozen eggs a couple days early for each kid that was participating -We limited it to 12 and under -Divide into age groups, so little kids don't get overwhelmed by older ones. We did 0-1, 2-4, 5-8, 8-12 -If you don't have a yard enough big enough (none of us did) get the permits for a block party. It's super easy, and you just need the permission from everyone on the street affected. Check with your local City department for specifics -We requested everyone bring a brunch item. I was afraid people were going to think we asked too much of them, but everyone came with smiles, and there was even someone doing a dutch oven casserole. Impressive. -We came 90 minutes early to set-up and hide the eggs -The rules were 12 eggs per kid, but we had extras (a lot people did more than a dozen eggs each), so we opened it up for a free for all after everyone got their dozen. But, we didn't realize at the time, that there were a few kids who were running late, and there were no eggs left. Next time we will make sure all kids are there before we open it up to everyone to go crazy. And maybe also still keep them in their eggs groups, since at that point the little kids were pretty much out of luck. First timers mistake. -Get bigger blockades, since some people by-passed the sign, and barriers. I wish I knew who you were! -Blow horn, that would have been fun, but luckily Leslee just happened to have a train whistle!

lovers day, bits and pieces

Here's a little bit of what our Valentine's looked like. We never made it to the movie (molten cakes take a long time to prep,) and Lucy maybe had a melt-down or two, "no pasta! no pasta! no pasta!" But that is what Valentines at home are all about, right?

These gorgeous flowers were waiting for me when I woke up. I loved them. I LOVE them. And I love Sarah from Honey of a Thousand Flowers, because she is a genius. This is the prettiest arrangement I have ever received.

A few of Scott's favorite things and then a little something special.

See that cute heart? Scott ripped it right in half. Sad.

Lucy was obsessed with "daddy's balloon!" until Scott said it was going to get her. And now she says, "scary balloon."

Knock! Knock! Knock! Who could it be?

Making sure she doesn't leave any candy behind. Who cares about that other present?

And Lucy loved hated her Valentine present. It was so sad. She loves Cinderella, she loves dress-ups. I thought it would be a match made in blue-rayon heaven. But she wouldn't wear it. She wouldn't look at it. She wouldn't touch it. For someone who wasn't even sure if she liked princesses, I was pretty crushed. Oh well, at least we had molten cakes and blueberry ice cream to look forward too. Scott and I make a good team. He made the molten cakes, and I made the ice cream. In fact, he made the molten cakes why I went to the gym between dinner and dessert. Romantic fail on my part, but romantic win on his. This tops as one of the best desserts we have ever made. I ate two, and finished off the ice cream.

And look at this. The next day I put on a dress and Lucy got all excited. We dressed up together and had a dance party.

Look at old she is getting. It makes my heart hurt a little.

This was my favorite Valentine's yet! I love that Lucy is getting old enough to enjoy the holidays with us.


A couple of stories.

Lucy was so scared of Santa, that she wouldn't come out to help put the cookies out the night before. She peaked around the corner and cried, "No! No! No!" thinking he was literally in the room, eating up all the cookies. Poor thing. Christmas is a lot to take in.

I had the video camera all set to go and record Lucy's grand entrance into the living room. Fifteen minutes into it, I realized I had turned it on, but not to record. Ooops. I would feel bad, but Lucy's reaction to the kitchen set we got her was a little underwhelming, at best. She was most excited about her new dress and shoes, and had to put them on right away.

One day, it won't just be Scott and I up at 6:00am, giggling, waiting for Lucy to wake up too. If we do our job right, she will be waking us up! We loved our little bit of Christmas morning, with Lucy sitting on Scott's lap, eating her chocolate orange.


Halloween, a few months late

I know Christmas's cozy memory is just barely fading, and Halloween, was like, four holidays ago, but sometimes that happens with my personal film. The stuff comes back at the most inconvenient times. It may not be season appropriate, but it is my favorite holiday, so I'm throwing convention to the wind and posting it now. January is a bit dreary anyway, and could use some cheering up.

This was Lucy's first official trick or treating Halloween. We brought her home her on 10.31.09 and I'm not quite crazy enough to take a 4 day old out trick or treating. There is a funny story, however, about me nursing her in the front room, and persistent Trick or Treaters at the front door. Want to hear it? Actually, that's pretty much it. "Mom, I think someone is there, Mom can we wait a bit longer? I think they are just watching TV." And then last year it rained, dumping monsoon qualities of rain. So last year was a no go too.

This year though, this year was perfect. We got the whole neighborhood gang together, and quickly dominated the streets! Ok, just kidding. But we live in an older neighborhood, so it was fun to see so many little monsters, princesses, cavemen and bumble bees all dressed up together. The only sad part was the Lucy tuckered out way before I was ready. Did I mention I love Halloween? I was the kid who would stay out until neighbors started unloaded all of their candy. My dad would drop off sibling after sibling, and we would stay out as long as my little heart and legs would last.

Lucy doesn't quite get the concept. There is nothing more awesome then dressing up and then people giving you candy, just because you showed up at their door. It's amazing.

Happy, belated, belated Halloween!

The Evolution of Domesticity

I'm not a crafty person. And for a really long time, I shied away from any preconceived notions I had about my "roles" in life. Between school, work, work, work, and more school, Scott and I had a fairly established routine of frozen pizza and Barilla pasta sauce. It served us well. And in a lot of ways, in our early married life, I still felt like my mom was the one who cooked the turkey and sewed the buttons on, and I was still the kid. And then I changed. First, after 9 years of marriage we bought a house. And then we got a dog. And then we got Lucy. And somewhere in the midst of all this, my latent nesting instincts kicked in. Scott and I started cooking more (I took a bread class, Scott gave me a Mandoline), we bought trees, and remembered to water them, we remodeled, and painted, and cleaned the inside of the microwave (but not the oven.) I had an epiphany when I decided to make Salt Playdough for Lucy. As I was rolling it out, I remembered the warm dough that my mom would make for me. And here I was doing it for Lucy. I was a mom/wife/woman doing mom/wife/woman things, and it felt really good. Not forced on me, but something I chose and loved. I should mention that Scott and I are an awesome team. I'm lucky that we are in this together, because he is better at making the pizza dough and waffles.

Around the time we bought our house, I started doing Christmas Cards. It was surprisingly fun. I loved giving and receiving cards. And, building on Christmas traditions, this year I decided to make neighbor gifts. I guess that is silly, but for me, it was kind of a big deal. I maybe still haven't cooked my own turkey or sewn on a button, but I was going make hot chocolate on a stick this year! I was going to be neighborly! It would be epic! Last March I discovered this company's hotchocspoon, and bookmarked it for inspiration. So, here are my attempts and lessons learned on how to make these, in case you are so inclined. It was really fun, really messy with a lot more chocolate needed than anticipated.

I did a bit of research when trying to find my own recipe and used this one from givers log, which worked perfectly. Basically you need,

8 oz of good chocolate 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup of powdered sugar a pinch of salt

and then just follow Amber Lee's instructions. She is a chocolate guru.

I made peppermint chocolate sticks and Mexican chocolate sticks. For the peppermint I added crushed candy cane (it works best to put it in the middle of the chocolate, with a bit sprinkled on the top. For the Mexican I added cinnamon and chili powder. Next time I will add more of the flavorings. It was a bit too subtle for my taste.

Helpful things I learned,

One bar of 12 oz bar of chocolate, makes about 10 cubes of chocolate. It's better to fill the chocolate up all the way in the mold. Don't ever, ever get water in your chocolate. It's like the most evil thing to do to chocolate. Don't use chocolate chips. They don't melt quickly. Use more flavoring then you think you need. Don't use extracts. Plastic bags don't work that good. I used this pancake pen that we happened to have. I don't know how to temper chocolate, and I got the mysterious, ugly fat bloom on my beautiful chocolate, which made me sad. If I can't figure out the tempering thing, next time I will just dip the set-up spoons in melted chocolate chips or Cocoa Candy Melts, and then roll in the candy cane/cinnamon/cardamon/curry or whatever combo I come up with. One cup of hot milk or cream, works perfectly with the chocolate. And if I'm going to be picky, I wish I made my tags larger, preferably 3X3.

As far as supplies, I made the tags myself, and had them printed off at Kinkos. I found the perfect size silicone ice cube trays at Amazon here, and it makes 32 at time (so I tripled the recipe each time.) The wooden spoons were purchased at Garnish.

Lucy helping deliver our gifts.

And here is Lucy helping me and enjoying the fruits of our labors. This is her new "picture" face.

a Christmas Memory

I used to work at a little photo studio. Six years ago was my first Christmas there, and the simple thing to say is, it was a hard year. The studio was small, and the owners, studio manager, and other photographer all were gone over Christmas. Which meant it was just me handling the photography end of the things. To make a common story even shorter, I was working 70+ hour weeks, and was often staying until 11PM or midnight. Sometimes later. I was tired, and stressed, and felt diminished in every way. We hadn't even put up a tree or any decorations, and had just hit our year mark of trying to have a baby (little did we know how long that journey would end up being.) Honestly, I just wished Christmas would be over. I didn't have much time off, but on the 23rd I carved out a little bit of space so Scott and I could get away for the evening. I meant to leave work around noon, but with one thing and another didn't get away until 3. And all I wanted to do was get away, far, far away. So we took a drive, to a little restaurant, that was 90 minutes away, up in Logan. If you haven't ever been to Logan, it's a beautiful little college town, tucked away in a valley. We love it for one of our favorites restaurants, Le Nonne, which always makes it worth the drive. Dinner was wonderful, and we ate lots of homemade pasta, and talked, and talked and I maybe answered my phone a few times, fielding problems the best I could. Afterwards, as we were walking to our car, a fresh snow was gently falling. It was freezing, which was no surprise, but the Christmas lights were on, and the town's main street was lit up. I dragged Scott the block it took to get to lights, and as we looked up, the Marquee on the old Utah Theater showed they were playing, "White Christmas" in 5 minutes. This was before Lucy, in more spontaneous times. And so we went in. And sat in the cold, drafty balcony, with about 20 other people. As I held Scott's hand, and listened to Bing Crosby sing, and watched Vera-Ellen dance, I fell in love all over again. In love with Christmas, and life, and Scott. I was utterly happy in that darkened theater. We didn't get home until after midnight, but it didn't matter. I was reminded that although life can be sad and hard and stressful, but there are beautiful moments of happiness in between. That Christmas is much more than just deadlines, and shipping lines, and printers that break down. I'm so grateful for that little moment, that really wasn't all that much, but meant so much to me.

Merry Christmas!

And the angles said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

-Luke, 2:10-14

Christmas Pretty

Here's a glimpse of some of my favorite decorations. I love our simple, little tree, and hate to see the day that we get a perfectly beautiful artificial one. One of my favorite things Scott and I do is buy a Christmas book each year. We didn't used to be super official about it, but now we give one to Lucy every year. We write a little note in it for her, so when she is older she can look back and maybe relive a bit of these early Christmas's, that she wont remember, but we always will. The Smokers are gifted from Bruce and Lynette and we feel so fancy when we set them out each year. I feel like I'm getting in touch with my German roots. I didn't take pictures of our socks, but they hang from the window. Isn't that where they are supposed to go?


The Patch and The Village | Halloween Fun

Sometimes you plan something really fun to do, like going to pick out pumpkins, or going to see the witches at Gardner Village, and it, surprisingly, doesn't seem so fun to a certain feisty toddler. Both of these adventures started off rough. Lucy didn't want to look at pumpkins or go near the pumpkins. She didn't want to look at the witches, or go near the witches, or walk, or be held, or be in her stroller. And she definitely didn't want anyone else to even go near her stroller. This always takes me by surprise, although it shouldn't.

"Why don't you love this super fun thing I have planned," I want to cry. But then, magically, something catches her attention. Like pushing the wheel barrow, or getting candy (hey, whatever it takes.) And then it's the best adventure ever. I think I imagined parenthood as one never-ending play date. We would watch movies, and I would make cookies, and she would love going to the store with me. Yeah, it didn't really work out that way. Scott and I have yet to successfully take Lucy to an actual movie theater, I don't make cookies, and easily going to the store? Forgetaboutit. And I guess that is okay.  One of the many things I'm learning being a mom is that things don't always go as planned, and sometimes a lot of patience is required. But even if it doesn't all turn out perfect, I'm learning that's okay. Scratch that, even more than okay. Because as a family, we are enjoying the ride, even the bit bumpy parts.

the long and weary road of a two-year-old.

oh, and these were two different days, although she is dressed exactly the same. Mama tends to put Lucy in same outfit, multiple days.

Lucy turns 2 | Halloween Birthday Party

Lucy turned two! And we celebrated with costumes, doughnuts, games and candy. We had so much fun! About a month before the big day, I turned to Scott and said something along the lines of, "I want to keep it simple this year." And Scott just laughed. He was right, of course. We maybe didn't make a ginormous pinata but we did want a fun area for all the kids. So we created pumpkin bowling, and pumpkin decorating, and filled balloons with candy, and strung them across the patio. The candy filled balloons were a hit and a behind the scenes disaster. We got it all ready the night before, but somehow in the process of stringing them up, they kept deflating, and the strings got all twisted, and we were stuffing candy and blowing up balloons, right to the very last minute. But the funniest thing was that they kept popping all during the party because it was such a hot day. It was like, "Free Meal!" at Cafe Rio, except the kids yelled, "CANDY!" and dived in. There were a few balloons left to pop at the very end, and the popping of the balloons was the hit of the party.

But the best part was seeing Lucy so happy and surrounded by all those who love her. We feel grateful that Lucy is growing up with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandma's and grandpa's and friends, who make her feel so special.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! You aren't really my baby anymore, but I'm going to keep calling you that for just a little while longer.

And last year, because it is fun to remember...

Lucy's 1st B-day photos taken by my good friend, Kim Orlandini.