And just like that… I turned 36.

Three and a half years ago, I moved to Portland looking for a connection.  I wanted to connect with family and find my roots.  Although it was hard to leave the place I called home for 20+ years, I thought maybe the Pacific Northwest would help me find what I was missing.

How right I was.

The past weekend has been so full of love and good wishes, it was nearly busting at the seams.  What began as a small get-together for my birthday turned into a houseful of friends and family.  All day long, there were notes, texts, and phone calls from loved ones near and far offering up a bit of cheer.  I woke up the morning I turned thirty six, already thinking the day was perfect.

And then things got amazing.

For years I have wanted a big farmhouse table.  I love the look of them, a bit rough and with the character of the wood only enhancing as the years go by.  Like a well-worn leather couch, a well-loved farmhouse table has stories to tell.  But more than the aesthetic, I wanted a place where friends and family could gather round and share a meal, conversation, or a game of cards.  I wanted a spot where people would naturally gravitate toward, telling stories and making memories.  Those were some of my favorite moments in my childhood and I wanted that for my own home.

In the weeks leading up to my birthday, I dropped subtle (as a freight train) hints that a table would be a great present.  When Kevin asked for gift ideas, it was the only thing on my list.  Gently, he told me there just wasn’t enough time to put something like that together… summers in our house are busy, full of commitments and work.

Saturday came and guests started arriving.  The food was prepped, the house was clean, and I was free to relax and enjoy the conversation.  In the midst of everything, Kevin’s cousins, Michael and Jesse, arrived and with them, my birthday surprise.  A beautiful, custom-made farmhouse table.  Unbeknownst to me, while I was working, so were they.  Kevin, Jesse and Michael spent days designing and building this beautiful piece of furniture that is now one of my most treasured family heirlooms.  It means so much to me that they, Kevin’s family – and now mine – built it.  Of course, I cried.

So, interwebs, family members (inherited & otherwise), and friends… a million thank you’s for welcoming me to thirty six.  Thank you for making me feel so, so loved.  It’s gonna be a good year.  :-)

Published! Chyanna + Peter on Simply Elope!

Chyanna + Peter’s elopement in San Francisco is getting popular!  Simply Elope just posted a beautiful feature of their special day at the St. Regis Hotel & San Francisco City Hall!

San Francisco City Hall Wedding

 

Published! Chyanna + Peter – San Francisco, CA

This space has been pretty quiet, but not for lack of activity.  In fact, quite the opposite!  Not only do I work as a photographer for Powers Studios here in Portland, Oregon, I also choose a few select weddings each year to shoot on my own.  The elopement of Chyanna & Peter was one of the latter.

After knowing Chyanna since she was a little girl, on a beautiful day last August,  she and her groom eloped to San Francisco.  Not only was I lucky enough to follow them around the city, documenting their day with a ton of film, I also got to serve as a witness to one of the most beautiful, intimate weddings ever.  Although I will eventually be featuring this wedding on my new site (to be launched in the near future!) here is a sneak peek, compliments of www.preownedweddingdresses.com.  (If you are looking for a gorgeous dress without the designer price tag, check them out!)

I learned so much from this amazing experience.  I found that I *LOVE* elopements.  HOLY COW.  The romance, the authenticity, the deep, deep emotions that come from stripping away all the pomp and circumstance around the event and focusing on the two people that are making a beautiful commitment to one another.  I have to thank Chyanna & Peter for trusting me to do my own thing, to capture moments as I saw them, and for their generosity, for making me feel like I was family.  It was was an incredible experience and one that I hope to be a part of again and again.

Enjoy!

Wedding Dress: Vera Wang / Ceremony Venue: San Francisco City Hall / Floral Design: Union Square Flowers

Pre-wedding Venue & Cake: St. Regis San Francisco / Post-wedding Celebratory Beers: Dave’s

Cameras: Contax 645, Canon 1V, Canon 5D

Film Stocks: Fuji 400h, Portra 800

 

Tree Day & Traditions

Of course, I’m late to the party.  Christmas is over and I’m posting pre-Christmas photos.  {sigh}  You can tell what kind of month this has been, right?

After the Santa-believing, effortless-magic-inducing, where-your-parents-do-all-the-work years of Christmases were over, I struggled with the holidays.  I spent many a Christmas traipsing from one house to another, fulfilling everyone’s holiday traditions but my own.  There were years spent single, while everyone else seemed to be cozying up to one another, feeling very much the spinster aunt hovering somewhere in the background and trying not to be awkward.  I’ve fought feelings of anxiety and over-commercialism, over-consumerism and gift-driven guilt.  I would dread the forced smiles everyone gives each other this time of year as we fight over parking spots and Santa lines.  It wasn’t until I realized that, in the simplest of terms,  I was having trouble transitioning from spending a Christmas where I conformed to my family/friend/significant other’s holiday obligations to creating my own seasonal traditions that gave me the license to enjoy the holidays however I wanted.  Whoa… mind blown.  (We all know that I’m a late bloomer, right?  Right.)  And with that realization, I’m one step closer to becoming a bona fide adult.

The holidays, and Christmas especially, are a lot more enjoyable now, even while they consist of a lot more work.  While I’m still trying to establish my own set of traditions, I don’t hesitate to try new things to see if they’ll stick, dragging poor Kevin behind me whether he likes it or not.  (He usually does.)  Most years include kicking things off at the Holiday Ale Fest with my cousins.   Come October, I start my hunt for the perfect holiday ugly sweater (a must-have here in PDX).  Thanks to a tip-off from a sweet friend, this year we got our boogie on with the amazing Aaron Meyer at his holiday concert.  Then there’s trying my hand at baking both the much-loved cookies of my childhood and the found recipes of my own, selected with my guy’s sweet tooth in mind.  And of course, we cannot forget the all-important Christmas Tree.

When I was young and single and living in Southern California, I would go out on Christmas Eve to a desperate lot willing to off-load the last of their trees to last-minute shoppers.  I would pick the saddest, Charlie-Browniest Noble Fir tree of them all and then argue that it should be heavily discounted since no one else in their right mind was going to give it a home at that late hour.   These days, I live in the place where those sad little San Diego trees of Christmas Past were born –  right here in the Pacific Northwest.  And instead of heading to the Big Box Store or Big Mall parking lot, we go right to the source and chop the damn thing down ourselves.  Huzzah!

This year’s excursion is brought to you by a tree farm that is also home to some very mellow sheep, a very muddy field, a bit of fog, and my ever-patient, sweet lumberjack of a dude.  Thanks for humoring me, babe.

And finally, the result of this year’s hard work…

While it’s tough to eliminate all stress, it’s so nice to finally enjoy Christmas.  Whatever your traditions and however may you celebrate, I hope yours was merry & bright!  Happy Holidays!

Two Years

A little over two years ago, I received an email from a guy.  The interwebs claimed we were a good match and I thought he was pretty cute, so I replied.  He wrote back – not with one line, but with paragraphs.  A few letters back and forth confirmed what I already knew – this guy was smart, funny, straight-forward and kind-hearted.  A couple weeks after that first letter, with butterflies in my belly, I agreed to meet him for a drink.  I was late.  He thought I was standing him up.  I wanted to hug him hello.  He offered me a handshake.  It was an interesting beginning to a first date that turned into hours of talking and a prolonged good night kiss.

Today, that guy is my best friend, my cheerleader, and my rock.  He makes the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted and will passionately talk about politics for hours.  He has the most amazing work ethic I’ve ever seen, whether it’s working for an employer or tackling projects around the house.  He has old school manners that make my grandmother swoon.  He’s independent and yet always makes time for me.  He can make me laugh like no other, has an incredible amount of patience, and spoils the dog rotten.  He gives great advice and gently reminds me that I need to come back to earth sometimes when I’ve spent too long with my head in the clouds.  He’s all this and more and as a result, I feel like I’m the luckiest girl in the world that we crossed paths and I get to call him mine.

Over the last two years, we’ve made an amazing home together and no matter where I am in the world, he’s the one I can’t wait to come home to.    Happy anniversary, baby.  It’s been two years of bliss!  xoxo

(*an infinite amount of thank-you’s to The Nik, who took these incredible photos of us in our backyard.  Hugs!!)