Tuesday, August 31, 2010

three words for you...
chicago. hot. dog.
yes, I know I'm a dork...but this is my SO non-important attempt at being photo journalistic.  I know I could have picked a more "hot" topic like sickness or disease or of some great place that I've traveled to.  all of these topic's are important and I've seen great photography works done on these subjects!

but to be honest?

this IS a great place I have traveled.
once you move west of the mississippi, the fine art of creating the perfect chicago dog
(in this chicago-an native's opinion) is completely lost.
no.  there is no ketchup on this dog.
yes.  you must have poppyseeds on your bun.
no.  you can not have sweet relish on this dog, it must be dill.
and yes.  the finishing touch is celery salt.  it's like icing on the cake.  :)

and this great place that I have traveled to get the most perfect chicago dog?
none other than the almighty portillo's.  originated in IL - and perfected in IL.
(although you can order from anywhere...someday for my birthday!) :)
the atmosphere is old school and somewhat kitschy...but I love it...
it simply adds to the awesomeness and originality of the place.

this is the hot dog stand I grew up going to as a kid with my dad...
and now take my kids to as a (somewhat) grownup.



Friday, August 27, 2010

"every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit."
so in light of this week - what is the seed?

choosing to be happy in light of sadness or frustration.

leo tostoy said " if you want to be happy, be."
it's that simple.
to not let yourself be carried away by what others think or say.
to simply choose to be happy.

is it hard to accomplish this?
maybe that's why it's called a seed.  it takes time for it to grow.

so why the photo?  
it sits on my desk and I like to look at it alot.
I like its crisp vibrant colors.
I like to say it's name - it sounds fancy.
mostly though, it simply makes me happy.

have a great weekend!

feeling small. :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

for full effect of this post, you need to open this song in a new tab while reading this. :)
(right click on the hyperlink & click open in new window.)

waves crashing.
sun peaking through clouds.
smell of salt and sea.
soft warm sand between toes.
playing chase with the waves.
stooping occasionally to pick up a stray seashell in hopes to capture this moment longer.

feeling small.

this is what I love about the beach.
and this girl at the beach. :)

raindrops on roses... :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

I'm happy today.
I even wore a skirt...makes me feel girly-er.  cuz' it swishes when I walk. :)
no deep thoughts today...just some of my favorite things right now in no particular order...

my garden.
I know it's august...but I want to try and grow pumpkins.  and tomato's.  and cucumbers, lettuce, italian basil + chives.  it makes me feel domestic...and earthy. :)  and now I want these garden markers for my garden made by an etsian named Cambri Rae .  yup, I really do. :)

my ipod shuffle.
if you follow me personally on facebook you know that I like to think I can dance.  (I seriously, can not.)  but inside...oh, inside...I am fergie from the black-eyed pea's...I am beyonce...I am shakira with amazingly rhythimic hips...I am...not me. :)  but I recentlly updated my shuffle with some of my favorite songs...what am I listening to?  well, it's mostly music that has a decent BPM so that I work harder on the eliptical...sorry, if it's not your cup of tea...but I simply LOVE my mix right now! :)
shakira - gypsy
justin bieber (don't judge.)/usher - somebody to love
farmer's daughter - rodney atkins
say hey - michael franti
bleeding love - leona lewis
king of anything - sarah bareillis
one day - hans zimmer (it makes me chill up everytime...just beautiful!)

heritage makers.
my mom is an independant personal publishing consultant for this company and I just got back two of the books I'd been working on...I simply LOVE them.  more to come on this another post, but this company is just one of my favorites right now!  oprah got it right on this company! (and I'm not even a huge fan of hers!) :)

I just love them...well displayed tidbits (yes, I said tid-bits) of information that get you excited about a company's products...especially if they're visually interesting...thinking about doing one four times a year...but wondering if there would be anyone else that was me your address if you'd like to be added to this list...I'm going to be posting a fillable form on the blog with questions on what you'd like to see in my newsletter...but for now I like the way this one looks...think I might run with this idea! :)

inspiring quotes.
I took this photo while visiting downtown Geneva, IL this summer in the store my friend owns + runs - "Cocoon" and I just really liked this quote!

last but not least...

the holidays.
photoshoots with babies wearing santa hats.
whipped pumpkin candles.
scarves...lots of knit scarves.
ornament parties.
egg nog.
being thankful for friends and families.
holiday cards.
oh, yes.  they're coming! :)
here's a sneak peek of what's going to be announced in the next two weeks!
merry christmas and have a great weekend! :)


Thursday, August 19, 2010

since I've declared it fall yesterday :),  it is time for deep thoughts.
"why?"  you ask?
because it's how I do.  and it's my blog which equals my deep thoughts. :)
a lot of people like to rearrange and recreate who they are on january 1st.
me, not so much.
maybe because I was born in september that I like new beginnings...I dunno.
I just know that towards the end of summer I start having serious deep thoughts about life and where God has me headed.  and watching "eat, pray, love." this afternoon with a good friend has not slowed down the deep thought process...nope, it's just added to it.

I know that a lot of people have done nothing but praise this book and this movie.
but for me, it left me feeling somewhat down and sad.

the story is about a woman who ends her marriage, begins a new one with a much younger man and then leaves that younger man and sets off on a journey to find herself through traveling through italy, india and bali eventually finding yet another man.  the overwhelming current of loneliness and struggle to find this illusive "peace" kind-of tugged at my heart the entire time.  the movie left me wondering how long she would be with that man until she decided to leave again...seemingly finding peace for the moment...
I leaned over to my friend during the movie and posed the question:
"do you think everyone is lonely?"
and both of us concluded that yes.  I think most people have seasons of loneliness...some longer than others, some more often than others.
I did like one of the lines of the movie:
"without ruin, there is no transformation."
and I think I agree with that.  but I don't think that I am the one to transform.  He has to do it for me...He is my center and my peace.  trusting that my life isn't simply about me...I think that I am most lonely when I think that life IS simply about me.

so then, what do I think I am being tranformed into?
personally: to be a less selfish, more transparent person...I know even MORE transparent...scary, huh?
that's not to say that there isn't wisdom with restraint...there is.  but when I think on being not transparent I think of tight fists...saying "mine."...hiding genuine emotion - excitement, sadness, happiness...all these things make up who I am and hiding that makes me feel I should be ashamed at expression - like it's not the equation:
hold close what is "mine." + don't be be too anything = coolness
I think He is teaching me that I would rather be the woman at His feet wracked with sadness recognizing a better Way, I would rather be the king dancing for 1000 miles with joy when society said it was not socially acceptable, I would rather love too much than too little.

creatively: to stop looking to the left and right and take one step at a time, enjoying the journey.  which is super hard when you happen to pull a "lot's wife" and look back and see some of your creativity replicated in blatant ways.  in the end, it's not "mine."  but I'm learning that to learn that things aren't mine I need to not look to the right and leaves a bad taste in my mouth by the people who don't strive to create for themselves.  and that is me not enjoying the journey...why do I create?  in the end, it's because He's given me talent's that are simply fun to do...worrying about what others are doing with ambition shouldn't be filling my head. 

relationally:  to be thankful and love big.  I am not like that woman in the movie.
do I want to travel to italy someday like her?  most definitely.
but I want to do with my best friend.
I know that the relationship I have with him is rare.
I know that a lot of people who marry the boy they liked since 13 don't always stay together.
but in the end, he's the one I want to see italy with.
he's the one that reminds me of truth when I make life about me.
he's the one who show's me how to love big and how to be loved big.
as phoebe would say:  "he's my lobster." :)

so that's it...for now. :)
I would love to hear how you are being transformed and what you thought of the movie! :)

whipped pumpkin

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I did it today.
I lit the first whipped pumpkin candle of the season.
I have declared it fall. :)
is arizona co-operating?  um,'s still a thousand degree's outside.
but inside my cozy house,
it is fall.

weird...but in a good way. :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

there's a funny thing with digital art.
most of your time is spent looking at it on a digital screen.
you're not touching it.
you're not feeling texture.
you're not seeing actual rgb printed color.
so it's SUPER amazing when you final get prints back and get to see what it looks like in your hands and not just on your monitor.  it makes just a little bit more real...
I'm a very "hands-on" person, so yes it makes it REAL to touch it. :)

this year, I got to design the staff appreciation t-shirts.
something I was super excited to do because I simply LOVE our staff...they're family to me. :)
but, with the love for them comes the thoughts:

"what if the design sucks?  what if I think it's cool and it's just not?  what if it prints funky?!"

stupid thoughts, I's just a t-shirt...but they're those spazzy thoughts are there none-the-less. :)

and it's weird, but in a good kind of a way to see people walking around with your design on the t-shirt they chose to wear for the day...
yeah.  just weird.
but in a good kind of a way. :)

here's what I'd been staring at for a couple months...

so needless to say I was SUPER excited to see the real deal and get to touch and yes, even wear!
I know...I'm a spaz.  but hopefully in a good kind of a way? ;)

swagger. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

sunglasses are a little like hats.
you put them on and you get a little swagger. :)
they're just a little bit magic that way...almost like being that kid in "big daddy" who though he was invisible when he put the "magic sunglasses" on...gave him confidence :)

some of my favorites...
aviator's = they make you strut with the theme from top gun running in your can almost hear the surf and they make you want to say "I feel the need...the need for speed!" :)
wayfarer's = stepping out knowing you're hip and trendy...instantly makes you looker cooler by ten years. not sure if there's an age date on these babies... :)
polarized = the athletic look - flex your muscles just a bit and puff your chest out just a smidge...ooh, yeah. :)
and my favorite of the season...
tom ford "whitney" sunglasses = uber-chick classy jackie kennedy style without even trying too hard...perfect!

here's one of my favorites from a wedding I did this last year...oh, yeah...these guys are rockin' it! :)

see more awesome sunglasses entries at:

gold stars. :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

oh, blog.  how I have neglected you... :)
can you tell that the summer is over and we are now back to school?!

I shed a tear today.
yup, my kids are 9 and almost 8...I should be used to this back to school thing, right? least not for a good solid hour after dropping them off.

let me explain my ridiculousness...
you see, I LOVE routine and schedules...
I love shiny new school supplies, the smell of fresh crayons...the ice white new shoes...wonderful!
but while I love the new-ness of back to heart squeezes just a smidge and wants to stay just one more week in the summer.
because I genuinely LIKE my kids!
they're funny, they're sweet, they're goofy and they're my friends...I just like hanging with them and the noise (for the most part) that they make filling our house throughout the summer.
so today, after matt and I dropped them off at the first day of their classes...I shed a little tear for them.
were they sad...nope, not even a glistening eye for their mom...I thought at least I have an over the shoulder look from mad...but nope.  nada. :)

moving on...:)  fall = organization.
I am determined to do this "mom thing" better.
I am determined to NOT be the mom who forgets homework...
the mom who hasn't brushed her daughter's hair in so long that dread locks are growing...
to pay attention on a regular basis to how long my son's fingernails are...
to get up and actually make them nutritious breakfast's and lunches
and yes, even tuck notes into their lunch boxes!
how will I achieve this most amazing task?

my good friend faith said to me once:
"failing to plan, is planning to fail."
and every fall I come back to that statement and resolve to do just a smidge better.

so here goes...
who doesn't love a good check mark on their to-do list...or even better yet a gold star?!
me and my gold star loving kids! :)
we now have a "chore chart" in place!
m+m are responsible, every day, to make sure they have:
their backpacks in their special basket,
their lunchboxes emptied and in their special basket,
all the papers put in the school paper box that I go through and see what's important (we might have a lot of recycled paper this year...I cannot understand why schools go through SO much paper!)
teeth/faces/hands washed and groomed each night,
clothes laid out by their dressers
(super good for mad, she takes FOREVER if I let her choose in the a.m.)
playroom cleaned and toys put away,
and jammies on their bodies.
if they do all these things every night before they go to bed...
they get a special something on fun friday!

and yes, I realize that technically this is not ME who is doing the better mommy things...but baby steps people...being a good mommy is sometimes directing traffic - so this is me "helping" my kids. :)
what's that you say?
why yes, I would like that "mommy of the year" award now. ;)

that's it so far for my organizational abilites...but more is to come...and I'm proud to say that we made it through day one with no dread locks and claw fingernails + gold stars for everyone! :)

next up to conquer?  healthy lunches...maybe if I was a super-cool mom I'd make these for their lunches...
again, sigh.
yeah...most likely not gonna happen :)

"tea for maddie" :)

Saturday, August 07, 2010

I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to describe this wonderful girl
and her fairy grandmother to you.  :)

mad is my baby who is 100% all girl...
she loves to live in a world of princesses and dress up and tea parties...
recently we got the book "tea for ruby" by sarah ferguson - a super cute book about manners with the most unbelievable illustrations - something I'd like to replicate for maddie's room someday!

well, maddie got it in her head that she wanted to do something like that with the close grandma...
aka her "fairy grandmother"...
(the first time she watched cinderella, that's what she thought the fairy godmother was called
and it just stuck!)

my mom is seriously cool and I love to watch her and mad's relationship grow over the years...
my mom planned her "tea with maddie" date and as I write, is taking her to see
the little mermaid at hale theater + then for special sparkly cupcakes at the coffee shop !

mom picked her up after maddie got on one of her best dresses (one of her flower girl dresses)
six bracelets, one ring, her hot pink purse + mommy's "ruby" earrings that dangle!
she talked me into curling her hair and putting make-up on - we have a rule that she never wears make-up unless it's a super-duper special occasion...which tea + the theater qualified for!  :)

while waiting for her fairy grandmother these are the pictures that I took of her...
I simply love her! :)

tiny chocolates.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"jen."  you begin...
"why do you design logo's?  why is it important?"
here's my thoughts on branding/logo design.
most successful business', either small or large, have a distinctive logo...
that eventually becomes their brand.
and yes.  when I write the word brand I think of a cow mooing getting branded by a big hot metal poker. :)

try thinking of Pepsi without the colorful logo.
(why you would be drinking a pepsi instead of a diet coke is a whole other blog post!) :)
you can’t, can you? or at least it’s not easy. that’s because you have seen them both together several times and therefore your mind associates them that way and they are imprinted in your mind as one.

or even better.  try thinking about old spice without the logo...or now, the old spice guy commercial that even furthur imprints old spice in your mind...difficult to separate the two.

it is easy for people to forget names but adding a logo to go with your business name can make all of the difference.  if someone has never seen your work or has never heard of your company then your logo may be all they have to judge you by.

which is where I come in.
part of my spazziness is that I care entirely too much with how things look and how they are packaged.

matt is constantly making fun of me when I have a bookstore date with myself and come home with a little black box from a.j.'s.
I totally believe the tiny chocolates actually taste better because they come in that tiny black and gold miniature box with the perfect gold logo right on top!
did I pay $4 for a tiny chocolate that I could have bought
eight hershey chocolate bars for the same price?!
you bet I did.
and it tasted better. :)

I totally believe that a logo can be a powerful thing in marketing yourself and in cementing who you are in peoples minds.  and I think it should display who you are as a business...some are quirky, some are modern...these last ones that I designed are a little modern and slightly classy for a photographer friend based out of new york!  she loved the idea of signature combined with a modern serif font...minimal with class. :)

the last one was the winner! (just click on it to check out some of her previous work)  can't wait to see your business cards + site! :)

a perfect storm...

Monday, August 02, 2010

this shoot was like a perfect storm.

pretty girl...check.
crazy awesome lighting...check.
new, cherry red, antique chair...check
couple new fun locations...check.
red cowboy boots...check.  (SO jealous of these!) :)
all the makings for an incredible shoot!

this girl always has and always will be a ray of sunshine in my life!  someone who is always looking for a hilarious time plus with character and an amazing laugh - I simply love this girl!
super fun afternoon!  super fun shoot! :)