Our J&M Summer Bucket List adventures continued out west with our trips to Seattle & Portland! Specifically, we had on the list: go sailing in Seattle & get VooDoo Donuts in Portland. But we were able to do SO much more! We kicked off the trip by hopping right off a plane and on to a sailboat to cruise around the harbor with our new amazing friends Ike & Tash (and baby Wisdom!). And what a way it was to be welcomed out to Seattle! We had perfect weather, golden light, Mt. Rainier off in the distance, and a warm salt air breeze. It was amazing!
But besides that, we also got to grab brunch at Skillet with our recent J&M Couple Michelle & Matt, walk around the Public Market, stop off at the original Starbucks (of course!), go check out a lavender field with fellow photographer & friend Laura Marchbanks, grab dinner with our past J&M Couple Malika & Arjun (who also modeled for both of our workshops!), grab brunch (brunch is my love language!) with designer extraordinaire Jeffrey Shipley, and ride a ferry boat over to Bainbridge Island (while channeling my inner Meredith Grey) with the wonderful Candice Hackett.
From there we hopped in a car & drove down to Portland, where we kicked off that part of the trip right with an adventure to VooDoo Donuts. I had the maple bacon one and it was INCREDIBLE! Most of our time in Portland was taken up with the World Domination Summit, but we did get to drive past Powell's Books and eat dinner (complete with one amazing view from the 30th floor Portland City Grill) with our favorites Karen & Isaac Stott!
Whew! It was definitely a whirlwind, but I am so SO grateful for every minute of it! Here are a few of our favorite shots from the trip!
Sure, the pink peony rings in a close second. And I will always have a special affection for the, well, lilac colored lilac. And standing in fields of lavender last summer is a moment I never want to forget.
But the simple fact is, the blue hydrangea has always been first in my heart.
We had blue hydrangeas at our engagement party. I had hydrangeas in my wedding bouquet. I think they are, simply put, the prettiest of all the flowers.
Four years ago when we bought our house, there were those who, shall we say, thought we had lost our fool minds. And, for a second there, they could have almost been right. Having been built in the 1880s, it was nearly 130 years old. It was run down. It had mold in it. Oh, and the ceiling and the walls were falling in from the 20 feet of water it had been under when a pipe burst on the third floor. And the only way they caught it was when they saw water pouring out of the second floor window.
Yea. It was not the obvious decision to say the least.
And yet, from the second I walked through the front door, moldy air and all....I knew it was ours.
I can't explain it. I just get these gut feelings on things. And at this point in my life, I have just learned to run with them. No really, run with them. Full on sprint, lungs burning, legs on fire, side stitches RUN with them. Because they have always led me to the best things in my life. It was a gut feeling that said I should put off going to law school for a year, and I ended up studying in London and having one of the best year of my life instead. It was a gut feeling that said I should get in my car & go meet up with a brown eyed boy at a coffee shop, and I ended up marrying him. :)
And it was a gut feeling when I walked through the front door of this big old white colonial and side stepped a huge chunk of ceiling, that told me we should put in an offer on a certifiable disaster area (did I mention that the same people who cleaned up Katrina were the ones we had to bring in to make our house actually livable? yea, amazing.) And... it ended up becoming the beautiful place we now get to call home.
The day that we closed on the house, we weren't able to go inside because they were still making it, y'know, breathable. So we did what any new homeowners would do....we started working on the yard! The front of the house had been completely overgrown with these huge weeds every time we had gone to visit, so we set about doing the work of cutting them back. Machete in the jungle style, we hacked it all back. And guess what. When that all fell away to reveal what was behind, what did we find hiding that we never knew was there?
Two beautiful, big, blue hydrangea bushes that just keep getting prettier every year.
Which we keep right there front & center as a reminder to always trust our gut. To be brave. To be willing to take the long way around and do the work. To start with what we have and build from there.
No matter who might think we're crazy. No matter who can't see what we see. No matter how messy things might look in the beginning.
For there are far, far more beautiful things just on the other side. If you'll just have the courage to step through that door.
When I was little, it was the big thing to do to have a "bonfire."
All you had to do was say the word bonfire, and news spread through the neighborhood quickly. I mean, "neighborhood" is a relative word I suppose. We were just the 15 or so little shacks & houses that lived on the top of Fenwick Mountain in rural West Virginia. Bound together by a row of red & blue mailboxes and one gravel road. We weren't much. But when a bonfire was involved, we could have given even the best suburban block party a run for their money.
The women would get right to work on slicing watermelon and making their potato salad (and it better be yellow, thankyouverymuch). And the men would throw pretty much anything that wasn't nailed down on top of the biggest pile of brush the world had ever seen, its wooden branches reaching upward, upward- always heaven bound. When they lit it up, it popped and cracked and made a million sparks fly. They floated up on the hot July air and rested there awhile, as if suspended for a moment while time marched on. And then they lit up the night sky like a drumbeat of fireflies.
The light from the fire served like a beacon. And the neighbors would pour into our yard from all around, armed with their covered offerings. When the hot dogs were roasted and the marshmallows were burnt, that's when the real show began. Fifty or so controlled explosions of color, probably bought the previous Summer on the family vacation to Myrtle Beach. And held in safe keeping until the time had come.
My favorite were the ones that rained down little parachutes. Did you ever have those? Sometimes they had little soldiers attached to them, sometimes they were just metal weights. But they floated down from a purple, smokey sky and made you feel like you were witnessing magic in its purest form. I can still remember running around in bare feet, trying to beat all the neighborhood kids to see who could find more of them. For whoever did, held the summer's prize.
I think for me, that's why the 4th of July always does feel like that...like witnessing magic.
It's a reminder that wherever you came from, wherever you started, wherever you might be now....we are lucky enough to live in a country where there is no limit to where you might one day go.
And it's a reminder that you might one day get to go a million miles from home and love every minute of it.....but come to realize that you still love home the best.
It's a reminder to look up at the night sky in awe more often. And to be so thankful for the beauty that is always around.
It's a blue and white striped blanket with red cherries and friends that feel like family.
It's two arms around your waist and a strong chest to rest back on. A strong chest where you always find your rest. And the words "i love you" whispered under a kaleidoscope sky.
It's freedom. And the cost of being free.
It's summer. And making space to live your life. And to breathe. And to walk around in bare feet.
It's realizing that the real prize is the memory. And actually being present enough in your own life to make one. And it has absolutely nothing, nothing to do with having more than someone else or being the one who is always running the fastest.
It's in the pausing. It's being suspended while time marches on. It's floating up on a hot July breeze and staying there a while, just being a light in this world.
It's your grandma's yellow potato salad. And holding on so tight to the things that matter most that I promise you will one day be gone. So hold tighter while you can.
This is the 4th of July for me. I hope you had an amazing one friends.
I hope you are all off for a weekend of fun and fireworks and barbecues and rest and what matters most!
We're off to enjoy it ourselves & just wanted to hop on real quick to post some pictures from our most recent J&M Summer Bucket List items marked off: adventures in Maine! Last weekend we got to spend four days in this gorgeous state & while we were there, we were able to mark off: brunch in Portland, having Jordan's Pond House pop overs & lobster in Bar Harbor, and spending a day wandering around Kennebunkport. In addition to that, we also had the best ice cream we've EVER had at Rococo's in Kennebunkport, got to take a sunset sail out of Camden, got to see the Rockport jetty lighthouse, and watched a pretty incredible sunset over Bar Harbor.
In short, it was an amazing trip! Here are a few of our favorite pictures!
One of the goals that we set for ourselves this year was to do more shoots just for us. Shoots where we weren't shooting for a client or someone else's portfolio or a publication assignment, but for ourselves. A chance to try new things, probably fail a little in the process, make mistakes, learn new things, but mostly just get back to the heart of photography that made us fall in love with it in the first place.
We've come to realize that shooting for yourself is the absolutely necessary antidote to getting stale. Or getting bored. Or worst of all, getting burned out.
We are all creatives. And we have to give ourselves the gift of regular doses of being able to shoot without a time restriction. Without someone standing over your shoulder telling you to hurry or to do it differently. Without a slew of other cameras over your shoulder. Just you and a subject that inspires you and beautiful light and the chance to breathe deep breaths and fall in love again with your camera. Ahhhhh. Yea, we all need more of that!
Yesterday, we took the chance to do just that. It was us, a couple of pretty models, the amazingly talented Sarah Goodwin from Daisies & Pearls, some beautiful light, and a boat. And it was amazing. Soul filling, heart swelling, life giving... AMAZING.