Kylee & Chris | Laube Hall Wedding Photos | Laube Hall

I loved going through Kylee and Chris’s wedding photos again! I’ve been catching up on my wedding blogging, and this wedding was picture perfect. Kylee lovingly put all the details together, and Chris made beautiful wooden pieces for their decor and cake serving ware. They each put a piece of their heart into this wedding, and their love for each other shows in each element!

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Thanks for having me! All the best to you!!! ❤

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Amanda & Jeff | Pittsburgh Aviary Wedding |National Aviary Wedding | Pittsburgh National Aviary Wedding | The National Aviary | The Aviary Wedding |

I’m so excited to share one of the coolest weddings I had the pleasure to shoot! It’s been a while since I have been blogging, and I’ve been wanting to especially show off this one! Amanda and Jeff hosted one of my faaaavorite weddings! Why? They did a PHOTO TOUR of Pittsburgh! Currently living out of state, Amanda wanted to highlight Pittsburgh in their wedding photos. Before hosting their wedding ceremony and reception at the National Aviary, they rented a trolley for their wedding party and families and we did photos in all their favorite Pittsburgh places. These places included the Roberto Clemente Bridge, the scenic Mount Washington Lookout, the incredibly colorful Randyland, and right under the Crosby Statue at the PPG Paints Arena.
We started out the day with a First Look Session for Amanda and Jeff–so romantic, right underneath the Heinz History Center.

 

 

After the First Look, we then traveled to Randyland, which we loved for the bright, bold colors and XYZ XYZ

 

 

We finished up their super fun (and full of laughs!) bridal session with the family photos and bridal party photos all over Pittsburgh’s best views!

 

 

After this, we headed to one of Jeff’s favorite places, the PPG Paints Arena (formerly Consol Energy Center) , which houses the coolest statue of Mario Lemieux for shots of his groomsmen and entire bridal party.

 

 

Onto one of the beeeesssst places for a JUMP photo, Mount Washington Overlook!
jump photo, jump wedding photo, Mount Washington Overlook, Mount Washington Pittsburgh, Mount Washington Overlook Wedding Pictures, Mount Washington Wedding Pictures

Heading off to the ceremony and reception at the National Aviary, where Amanda had a fantastic Pittsburgh Cookie Table waiting, along with beautiful birds from the Aviary for us to meet in person.

 


The sloth at the Aviary is by far my favorite little guy!!
National Aviary Sloth, Sloth at the Aviary, Pittsburgh Aviary Sloth

All of the gorgeous birds were such a joy to see during the cocktail hour!

 

And now for the party!

 

Thanks for having me! You two were a blast and I wish you all the best in a long, happy life together! ❤

Sustainable Traditions

I’m just looking forward to being there,” he said.
Driving through the evergreen countryside, passing the landmark wagon wheel, I totally agreed; “My thoughts exactly. Just being there.”
Surrounded by like-minded people. People that all gathered not just to learn, but that congregated because we were alike by default. A convention of learning and fellowship.
“It’ll be great just to catch up with everyone from last year…as well as go around and count all the Subarus and look at the Eco-bumpersticksers!”
We’ve been going since 2012, it’s become something of a tradition.
My own Subaru was included in that statement. I’d say that about 57% of people that attend the Mother Earth News fair drive a Subaru. That’s not an exaggeration, or a joke. Breaking down the counting, we have it subdivided into bumper-sticker categories like Coexist, No Farms No Food, Co-op, and my personal favorite, My Honor Student is Self Sufficient.
Each year is a chance to meet new people and catch up with the friends made from the year before. Every Mother Earth News fair is the same, but different. We learn new techniques and skills for self-sufficiency, or we hone our skills on what we learned the year before, all while networking, growing, and taking a break from life to focus on something that feeds your soul and interest.
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Some of the key points we learned last year were how to properly make soap from scratch (not the glycerin pieces you get at the craft store), getting started with an apiary and making honey, properly fermenting sauerkraut and kimchi, making bread at home, making quick cheese (such as ricotta and cottage cheese), and preserving seeds for next year’s harvest.


There were also classes on homesteading and home school, which were immensely helpful for me, as I’m now in my fourth year of homeschooling our two boys.
We’ve taken away quite a bit from the classes and the people we’ve met at the Mother Earth News Fair. We started growing heirloom carrots and planting in pots as we live in the city. My friends started their own apiary and made delicious honey. Together, we baked some fantastic cheddar chive rolls after harvesting string beans.


The list-maker in me loves how the classes are set up. It’s a college-style course list, and you can look at the course title and description and decide which classes are best suited to you, and attend accordingly.
If I were a teacher for one of these classes (as my husband and I have considered putting ourselves out there for this!) I’d definitely suggest that we use EventBrite as a way of tracking who would be attending the course. It also helps with planning out all the classes you want to attend; ensuring that you don’t try to sign up for two classes that may be running at the same time. This can easily help you map out your day.
Not only would EventBrite give the teacher a better idea of who was attending and how many people they would have to work with that particular day and time slot, but it would also offer a way for people in the class to network with each other. Meeting other people in the class and networking with them on social media is a great way to continue your learning and friendships throughout the year until the next convention!
A few important things I make sure I pack are:
* my camera (because Seven Springs is incredibly scenic in September!)
* a notebook with plenty of fresh pages
* several pens with caps (because pens will burst and you need to protect your stuff!)
* business cards with my email and social media on them
* a hard copy of the classes offered
* an open mind and lots of coffee
I feel that’s the most important part of attending any convention–not just to learn, but to network and make friends.
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Brittany & Ryan | Mayernik Center Wedding | Pittsburgh Wedding | Rustic Wedding | Pittsburgh Rustic Wedding | Avonworth Wedding | Avonworth Community Park | Mayernik Center Wedding Photography |Mayernik Center Wedding Photos

I’m excited to (finally!) share Brittany and Ryan’s wedding day here on the blog! If you’re wondering why it’s taken so long to get their wedding post up, you can read this blog post for a backstory with my blog and the downtime that came with it. Anyway! Brittany is such a special girl–I mean, I even left my vest in her dressing room and she texted me the next day to ask me if it was mine, when she should have just been spending time with her brand-new husband, but, this is Brittany, and she is a loving, caring soul, and all about everyone else. This resonated throughout her wedding day–all about Ryan, her adorable nephews, her sis-in-law who had a newborn 10 days earlier (and you couldn’t tell, super jealous!) and making everyone comfortable and concerning herself with everyone and making sure they had a good time–which they totally did!
They held their ceremony and reception in the same place (so smart!) at the Mayernik Center in Avonworth Community Park. It’s awesome to have your wedding at an all-inclusive place like this because they provided a lovely room for Brittany and her girls to dress in, and it saves your guests (and you!) from running around to different places on your already busy day. It’s also convenient because I was able to take photos of the groom, his groomsmen, and some family photos before the ceremony because they wished to remain traditional and not see each other before their vows. Simple. Easy. Yes!
The Mayernik Center was the perfect backdrop for Brittany’s burlap and lace accents, contrasting with a bright, cheeful Tiffany Blue for her bridesmaid dresses and accents.
It was wonderful to spend the day with these two. Many, many years of happiness to their long life together!

The Mayernik Center (also known as Avonworth Community Park) provide a beautiful backdrop for photos, even in April before any leaves had bloomed! I especially loved the creek running through the park.

Brittany and Ryan really know how to throw a party…

Lots of love to you both! ❤

Three.

Three. No, the date. Today, three.
I’m Sicilian, I’ve always had this “thing” with numbers. Numbers are signs. Signs, I’ve been taught, are God speaking to us.

We’re a unique blend of religion and superstitions.
We wear a cross with a cornicello.
We say novenas, but we worry regardless.
We pray, but we look for signs. We think we can beg and plead and perform to get our way.
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The Value in Your Effort

“Just as long as you keep trying,” I said.
His big blue eyes showed impatience and frustration, how many times do we have to try before we get this right? The value I see is in your effort, and doing your personal best.
No one is required to be perfect.

I’ve been asked why I started blogging again after an almost three year hiatus and the answer is…I honestly don’t know. I just went through my blog one day, deleted a bunch of photos that I didn’t want to display anymore, and saw that I had room for new photos (paired with words!) that I could add and maybe even contribute to someone else’s life.
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Freefall

“So, wife, mama, photog…freefall? Why did you put freefall?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t know, I kind of didn’t know what else to put and it sounded right at the time,” I replied almost sheepishly.
“Awwwww, it’s because you LOVE Tom Petty!” he exclaimed.
“Well, sure, I mean who doesn’t?” relieved I had at least said something.

While I have yet to meet someone that doesn’t like Tom Petty, but about an hour later we went to the gym, and as I was running my laps (listening to Ty Dolla $ign now) this question kept popping up.

Why did I write freefall? Why do I feel like freefall fits me right now?

Plans. I have no plans. And it feels foreign to me.
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I’m Alive for You

My favorite memories…are the ones where I’m with you.

Not alone…my “precious” alone time. That’s just to unwind and relax.

Not working…pursuing my “passion”. Because I’ll tell you at the end of the day working with a majority of the people in my industry can be draining. And a huge letdown.

Not learning…furthering “my dream”. YOU are my dream. A dream is a whole, not just a job that people can do well, even if they excel, what is it for? A dream is for a person.

These “striving towards” just stand in the way. These passions and dreams are just means to make money. Money to pay the bills, heat the air that you live in, fill the fridge you eat from, flow the water out of the faucet, clothe you and fill the gas tank. I hate to say it but…at the end of the day I need to make cold, hard CA$H. Dammit. It’s a fact of life. Even artists can’t perform without eating. Especially if they have kids. Not going to happen.

I always dreaded telling you that I was going to work the long hours, the long days, the overnights. The “I’ll kiss you good morning!” that I tried to sound chipper about, but felt awful, missed you, wondered why I was gone, wondered what was so fckin important, wondered how new world I could get, and why I couldn’t figure out a better way to earn a living without being more involved in your life. I hated this.

Please know, that even thought I got my big-bad BA (from a real-live university) that I wish I could have had a more prominent major. I wish I could have graduated with better grades. I wish I could have headed to law school, or even med school like I wanted, but it didn’t work out academically because BIOLOGY AND TRIG. Thanks, people that don’t approve of apprenticeships anymore. Awesome. Please know you’ve done yourself a huge disservice by being so by-the book. Go cry over your cold, inhumane, dry pages and your inability to properly do anything, sincerely, a mom that had her kid at the best hospital in the state, and sent home with NO diagnosis what-so-fuckin-ever. A lot of good that did you. Sleep well. (Satan!)

ANYWAY. GADDAMN.

Good Lord, do I have the ability to ramble. Anyway for real, what I was trying to get at is…I worked so much, your father and I worked all the time trying to get on our feet, get our house financially set, get our finances comfortable, that we sacrificed our mental health and our stress level. Don’t make this mistake! Our best memories are with you. We both talk about how you taught your little bro how to ride a bike on your own. Your daddy actually cried on the porch when he watched, he was so proud and enamored that you were able to help him so much. We were touched when you ask your older brother if he’s ok when he’s sick. You’re so sweet and thoughtful that it makes our hearts melt. We’re so glad we’re here to witness these moments now, instead of working insane amounts of overtime, or three jobs to make ends meet. In the end, it was worth it, but we wish we could have done it sooner.

But now is a good place to start. When you were six and four, we started our lives over. (HOW good are you with dates??? 3/14) The stress and toxicity weren’t working, and we knew we were missing out on much more than a life–being together, knowing each other, having an actual relationship. We turned our lives upside down on purpose, and didn’t look back. I don’t ever want to live like that again.

We decided, since neither of us could hack the doctor/lawyer/ field, that instead of making more money, we’d require less. We wouldn’t drive luxury cars. Fine. We wouldn’t afford a hummer-home with a two story entryway (because all the heat is in the ceiling…) and a garage and separate bedrooms, ect. But what we do have is a family that is together all the time, and awesome, organic food prepared by an almost-chef and never out of a box, Family Movie Nights, a Lego Room that doubles as a bedroom, a “day off” every day, learning done from anywhere you like, reading and vocabulary done over ice cream two counties away, and two brothers that are so inseparable that friends ask if they’re afraid to take up too much room on the couch b/c they sit SO close together. You’d think they were conjoined. We get the twin question a lot, actually. A weird amount…I don’t see it at all, but there are so many people that think they’re twins. I just make really beautiful kids 😉 YOU’RE WELCOME.

Where was I going with this? Right…my best/favorite memories. They are always with you little guys. My tiny minions. My little wolves. Little bears. You are so wild, but I still want to curl you up and kiss you while you’re not big enough to push me away. You make things fun. In honesty, there have been some events I’ve been invited to, and if you hadn’t been there, I’d have been bored out of my skull.

You are my best memories. You have made everything in my life better. You’ve brought me into new interests, new genres, new ideas, new thoughts, and aspects of thinking I never even considered until your sensitive self brought them up.

You have enriched my life. You’ve made it worthwhile, and whole, and hilarious, and unbelievably entertaining.

I want desperately to live by that Buddhist saying, “Give them wings to fly, and reasons to come back”. I want to give you a background that you feel confident in, and go explore, and go adventure, and then be excited to tell me about it. Dream up all those cool adventures, go get ’em, and show me the photos. I’ll let you borrow my camera…I want to hear all about it. I want to hold you close, just as you are now, and run my hand through your fluffy golden hair and tell you how proud I am and that you can do anything you put your mind to, as long as you want it badly enough.

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The Hurting Creative Brain

So I wrote a completely different blog post today, but I’m holding off on sharing it. It’s kind of dark and sad, and on a rainy day like today, that’s the last thing anyone needs.

But that’s the paradox of being creative. You have things you want to say, but HOW do you say them without sounding like a menacing banshee flying out of hell? You can’t. So you don’t say anything.

And that’s the effect of your creative brain. You feel and experience so much more. There will be another person that went through the exact same thing that you did, and will be able to walk away and just say “Eh, some people are just a$$h0l3$,” and be done with it. You find yourself incredibly jealous of these people and ask for lessons on how to not care about things so much.

I wish I could be cut and dry. I wish things were easier to process. I wish I wasn’t so GD emotional and that I could just forget about people that have treated me badly. I know they’ve forgotten about me–or they wouldn’t have treated me that way in the first place. But still, here we are, resurrecting old hurts and trying to figure it out. Answers! Well, there won’t be any answers. Maybe that’s the hardest part. No justification.

After a while, the sting will wear off. Let some time pass. You’ll stop checking their social media. (You might even give up social media for a time!) You’ll stop wondering if they’re still talking about you. You will have a better grip on how much to let the hurt take up space in your mind. You might even be able to hold a conversation with them when you run into them at the store, even if you do cry as soon as you get into your car. Baby steps. This won’t happen overnight. This is so much easier said than done. You’ll be stronger for just letting yourself take your time, when you’re ready. This creative brain can’t be forced. Rest easy knowing that just because you cried over them today, doesn’t mean you will cry everyday, this won’t last forever. Look forward to your stronger, clearer self. It will take time to get there, but it will be worth the journey. You’ll stand tall, unmovable, and strong.

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Backwards Inspo

“And that’s the effect of living backwards,” she said. “hahaaaa!”
Who? The White Queen. In Alice in Through the Looking Glass. It’s just a movie in a complete fantasty-style-story, but that line has stuck with me for quite some time.

So many times, we frustrate ourselves simply because we end up working backwards, but we don’t figure it out until we’re finished. Not every job you do will have the outcome without hiccups and detours and new finds along the way.

I learned this the hard way while shooting weddings. My beautiful bride was sooo excited to get into her gorgeous gown, skip down the isle, and snog her cute fiance-turned-husband. Someone always had other ideas. That someone came in the form of another female family member with ideas on how she should be spending her time on her day. Sometimes there were tears, sometimes her bridesmaids would stick up for her so she didn’t have to…and sometimes she walked out to get some air. Whatever the case, this was hard for me to watch. I’m naturally defensive of anyone I like, but it was my job to just keep my mouth shut and take the damn pictures. For someone like me, it can be really hard to sit back and bite my tongue while a bunch of chickens are clucking at my bride with a bunch of different opinions on what she should do with her hair, what color her lipstick would be, ask prying questions about their bedroom life, tease her about weight loss pills, what she was wearing for lingerie, and whether or not she SHOULD wear the Spanx they are trying to convince her to put on–that she doesn’t actually need–but that’s not my business.

OK so I kind of derailed myself there–I don’t mean to fly off the handle about rude control-freaky people or who you should let into your dressing room on your wedding day. But the point I’m trying to illustrate is that we can all have experiences where the result will be the same, but the route will be different. At the end of the day, my bride DID get to kiss her cute boyf-turnd-husboo, but not without some significant tears and unnecessary
(read: P E T T Y) arguments over lipstick colors and other thing that simply don’t need to be addressed by anyone but yourself. Seriously.

With our construction business, sure the kitchen gets put together, it looks gorgeous, everything works like a charm…but not without significant hiccups and detours. I’m talking things that need to be rearranged because of 1/4 “off”. A chimney that throws off the entire measurement of a wall. Running out of three subway tiles. Having to redo and redo and redo the 1920’s hex tile over because the black tiles aren’t lining up right with the white tiles and your eyes are now crossed for an hour. These things happen. The end result is the same, but we didn’t get there without some significant setbacks, re-planning, new decisions, and a lot of “we’ll do this instead”.

For me at the moment, the inspiration works backwards because inspo hits when I’m least expecting it. I used to get out my camera and just BE inspired. I’d hear one lyric from a song that would trip a whole cluster of ideas for photos and writing.

Now…not so much. Ideas fly in and out of my head like they never existed in the first place. I’ve become so long winded that I don’t even realize what I’m writing about until I’m done. Probably the thing I’m saddest about the most is that inspo will hit when I have no pencil and paper or even a phone to jot down notes and ideas. They just have to stay in my brain and I try to make mental notes so I can revisit it later. But it really doesn’t happen. I have to work so much harder to remember what seemed so profound to me six hours ago. Then of course, it’s gone. Enter: Getting up earlier.

Getting up before I actually haaaave to is hard. I worked my a$$ off for this lifestyle that is so unusual. Partly, because I don’t have the desire for the typical lifestyle, my desire IS freedom and my desire IS doing what I want when I want…even if it means a lower paycheck that doesn’t come every other Friday at 3:00pm via direct deposit. This outweighs the desk-banishment and the falling-in-line EVERY TIME. Every damn time. Promise. ANYWAY. (Sorry, I just feel the need to justify my lifestyle with all of the “must be nice” comments I hear all the time. I should probably write a post about this.)

So I don’t have to, but I want to get up early. It’s true time alone. I discovered that spending time alone at night was when I was the most tired and UNinspired. No inspo is awful for someone with a creative brain. After the trial and error during the day, the school lessons, the work, the cooking, the cleaning, ect forever, my inspo was nil. I didn’t write, I barely even read. I just netflix zoned, because that’s all I had energy to do, and further sucked creative energy from my mojo.

Coming full circle (finally, I know lolz) I found that reevaluating where and how I spent my time made a big difference. I have the same result, but I got it a different and better way. An easier way, something that allowed me to have a true flow instead of forcing the ideas to come back to me like they had earlier that afternoon. Reevaluate. See where you can make changes. See where things can be easier for you. Small changes can lead to big results.

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