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.
tomato sauce
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.

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! ❤


Anywhere I turn, there is bad news. Violence, screaming, crying, and even on more of a home hit, people disagreeing over absolutely everything. It gets to the point where you can’t sign into any one platform of social media without some kind of backlash, snarky meme, and people you know-but-don’t-really-know putting in their opinion. I’ve never found that I’m all-in when it comes to weighing in. Nothing is completely black and white to where I’d be able to throw out an opinion and hope I’ve got it all covered. Every time I think I’ve got an opinion sorted, God lets me meet someone to show me that I’m wrong, and how that my way of thinking could really hurt/upset that person, who is, a really good person.
The only time I see the news is at the gym. And every day this week, it’s been nothing but apocalyptic-type reports. Between more frequent duty days, friends being deployed, reports of more fighting, I did what any typical military wife would do: I shut down my social media and even blocked some people. This is a time to be private, right? This is a time to not share.
While this isn’t a time to correct, this is a time to offer a listening ear.
While this isn’t a time to teach, it is a time to reflect.
While this isn’t a time to lecture, it’s a time to grow personally.
This is a time to use your gifts as a blessing to others. You can calm others. You can inspire others to grow and open. You can ripple stagnant waters.
Between screenshots, mutual friends, picbear, looking over other user’s shoulders, and even sharing passwords (ew! creepy!) the ONLY way for others not to see your social media is to not have it at all. Really, that’s your only option.
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Beauty in Imperfection

There is no such thing as perfect, but we live in a culture that claims that it exists. Currently, this is the second time I’ve tried to write this post. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it just “magically” dissapeared for no reason. So eff off inter-webs, I’m going to write my Goddamn piece whether you like it or not. I’m going to tell people, everyone, that they don’t have to be perfect to be good people, or be attractive. I’m going to let women know that they don’t have to look sixteen forever to be beautiful. I’m going to tell men that that they don’t have to look like a juiced up Ken doll to look attractive. People need to know that they can be beautiful without an insane amount of plastic surgery. So your shitty industry can kiss our cute asses. Asses that haven’t been injected with chemical-laden junk produced in your sterile lab. ANYWAY.

Beauty is found in imperfection. The only thing we can rely on is change, and move with it instead of fighting against it. It’s a far cry from 17, and sometimes I tear up going through photos, but we need to stay out of our “it’s just gone” mentality. You are not gone. You are still here. You are a little different, but you’re here.

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Back to Basics

The Basics. Why I started this blog in the first place.To share my photos, my work, and create some art along the way. I didn’t think that art was something that was created until it was finished, and then you realized it was art– it just came about as you worked at it consistently.

As with most things, it morphed, and changed, and grew into…something that I wasn’t even sure of. A short six years ago, we were told to “brand” ourselves, to give people something more to come back to other than photos, to put ourselves out there and dig deep into our psyche to write informative but personal but not too crazy but eclectic but funny but general but interesting posts. Every week. So I did partake.

Wow, did that make a trap for me. It became consuming and overwhelming and…blogging is supposed to be fun, right? Which leads to ALL the pots on the stove boiling over, meaning…nervous breakdown. These come in many different forms! Read on for the process and results, and getting back up again…
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Cast Your Care

Lost in everything and nothing, this time blends together like a Delaware gradient sunset and I’m left turning the calendar pages and wondering how we got here so quickly. How disappointing to live to impress others, when the ones you really want to impress have loved you all along.
This afternoon I was talking with two of my girlfriends…we were discussing the role of makeup in our lives, and their daughter’s lives. Their daughters are both only 11, and seem to be wise beyond their years (homeschool, thanks…) and eager and ready to grow up and look more feminine like their own moms. But why? What does wearing makeup actually DO for us? Does it serve us? Or are we trying to impress people we don’t even know, or trying to impress people we don’t even like? It’s a scary thought, especially in today’s haphazard, unpredictable world. I related it back to myself, hoping to help these girls see that proving your worth is difficult as well as confusing, and in the end, not worth it to “need ” to prove yourself.
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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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Experiencing Confidence

It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s not something that’s here to stay. Confidence. Getting Secure in yourself.

We spend over half our life just trying to figure out “who” we are. At the young age of 18, we’re expected to know enough about ourselves to actually choose an education path for a career. Most of us don’t even know what our true hobbies are, what our likes and dislikes are, and the most important question of “What makes you tick?”
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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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