Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alaska, Operation Heal Our Patriots and Samaritan's Purse

We got home on Saturday from the most amazing week I think I have ever had. Exhausted and missing my kids, I finally today feel a bit more rested and decided to get this blog post up. Jet lag is real.... holy MOLY!
So, my anxiety to fly was pretty strong. I was SO nervous, but once we were in the air, I completely calmed down and relaxed.

We arrived in Anchorage, as soon as we landed I received a text from one of the volunteers with OHOP about where they would be standing when we landed. From the time we landed until we left, Chris and I felt like royalty. We were taken care of, not allowed to do a THING. We took a tiny plane to Port Alsworth (there are no roads in or out) and when flying in, I saw people waving and running to the runway, when we stepped off of that plane, the entire town was there to greet us, shake our hands and thank us. They thanked my husband for serving our country and thanked me for being there for him, for allowing him to serve, it was very emotional and overwhelming. The camp at Port Alsworth is breathtaking, as is Alaska. I have no words for it. And photos really do not do it justice at all... but I tried. We were fed well, had some pretty amazing classes that made us dig deep, a little deeper than I wanted, but it really made me realize a lot of things, things to help us in our marriage and help me in my life with other things I've been struggling with. The volunteers were amazing, I can't say enough good things about them. We would go into the bunker to get water or coffee, always someone greeted us, asked us how our day was going, never went a second without making us feel important.
We fished, hiked, went to see bears, relaxed, enjoyed each other and the company around us. Formed bonds, not only with the couples that were with us but with the volunteers and staff.
On Friday, I won't lie, I cried. I have never had such an experience, it was heart felt and real. I was ready to come home to my kids but not ready to leave that place. It's like magic, you honestly feel like you are closer there.... to everything. In tune with nature, each other... magic.
Samaritan's Purse is an amazing organization that helps people all over the world. I'm so honored to have been a part of it and honestly, would love to volunteer with them one day. We'll see... maybe this was part of it, someone trying to push me to do more with my talent. One message that came across to me loud and clear was this "you all have talents, I want to see that you use them, don't let them go to waste"
And whether that be a talent to sing, or for art, or photograph, or to make amazing human beings to go out into the world, we all have one and it needs to be used. So we will see where that goes with me. I do know that I feel the need in my heart.

And now on to the pics. :)

Lake Clark

The fish I caught! EEK 

Lake Clark at sunrise. Absolutely unreal

Hubby's fish before it flipped out. ;) 

Chef Jean Claude

Friday, July 18, 2014

Hi, my name is Emily and I'm an introvert.

We are preparing to leave for Alaska on Sunday. I am UBER excited but I am also  SO stinking nervous I feel like I could be sick at any moment.
I'm nervous for the usual stuff, airplane crash, we have to fly into Anchorage and then got on a teeny plane that lands on the water *insert big gulp here* but also my nerves are coming from a place of the unknown and meeting people for the first time.
You see, I'm an introvert. A HUGE introvert. I never realized it until in my 30's, but now I see all of the signs and I embrace it.
Let me explain, am I friendly, yes.. I'm not rude, I'm also not shy. I just really hate small talk, I need to prepare weeks in advance for visits, whether it be for friends of my kids or even my family (extended that is) the other people that live here that I call family, they know all about me. My grandma was a big "pop in" person, Lord help me... that makes me insane. No notice at all, let's just pop in. NO!  I need notice. I don't know why I'm this way, but after being around my dad all of my life, hearing my family comment on how he never stays long anywhere, etc I now see, HE is an introvert too! He doesn't stay long because he gets his business finished and off he goes. He needs alone time. After a wedding or a weekend of photography sessions I used to wonder why I was SO exhausted, I mean really, mentally exhausted. Now I know. Being constantly "on" wears me out to the point of, I could sleep for days.
If you know me in real life you would say "oh you aren't an introvert, you are always friendly and talkative" I am, but I hate small talk. I open up to a few yes, I have some really good friends, they never do see the introverted side of me, because they know me and we talk about things, things that matter. I really hate small talk, when people can't sit in a room with you and just be. Or, for instance, my mom, she will call and really have nothing to say... and it's all small talk and then when I sit there and say "uh huh... mm hmm" she thinks there is something wrong. NO, I just can hate small talk! And again, my dad, not a huge phone talker, I used to really get frustrated after being on the phone with him, now I get it!
I have a great friend and client, we are both HUGE introverts AND planners. I think the two MUST go hand in hand. We laugh about our quirks, how we both hate talking on the phone and will usually let it go to voicemail because we mentally have to prepare to talk on the phone. That is why I love texting, I can prepare! I love when I know people like me, it makes me feel SO much better about myself.

So hubby and I are off to a marriage retreat, it's a part of Operation Heal Our Patriots. We will fish and hike and kayak (all things I don't do but am so excited to try) and I will put on my smile and meet people. I'll be fine, but I will also be exhausted. I will probably meet some amazing people and make some new friendships... but it will be a week of me being out of my comfort zone and probably a little on edge. But an experience of a lifetime it will be. I am going to take thousands of photos and enjoy being with my husband and being Emily instead of Gabby, Grace and Jackson's mom.
I can't wait to update with a photo diary when I get back!
Until then.... <3

Monday, July 14, 2014

My Summer Reading List 2014

My summer has really just started. The girls have dance until mid June, which keeps us busy. And this year I took on their dance studio's annual dance concert photos, so that kept me very busy until just recently. I am finally slowing down on the photography side and ready to relax, not think about editing and maybe read a little. Also, I needed a really good book to accompany me to Alaska. Yes, a trip of a lifetime, my husband and I are taking next week. We are excited, nervous and so grateful to have been chosen! I hope to update while there, if not I will have SO many amazing photos to update when we return!

I go through reading spurts. I may read four books in a month and then not read for another six months. If I find a series I love, like The Hunger Games, I will read until I'm finished and then be depressed and sad with nothing to read for a month.

Here are a few books I have on my Good Reads Wish List,  two I have read and encourage YOU to read if you have not. Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber.

 About two years ago a really good friend and someone whose opinion I value greatly suggested Outlander to me. I looked up the synopsis on Good Reads and thought, "eh... period book... time travel, NO.WAY" and I found something else. Finally I decided to check it out from the library. I devoured it in a month. It is a giant book, full of information. I am really picky with time periods when I read. I can read about the future, the present and even as far back as the 50's but to go way back into the 1700's, no. Well, that has all since changed. This book will pull you in, it is a story about love and time travel. The author has done such an amazing job with her historical facts as well, so you learn a little at the same time. I instantly fell in love with Jamie Fraser, the Scott that Claire (the main character) meets. The relationship they have will keep you reading and reading. And this summer, STARZ has joined with Diana Gabaldon, the author, to adapt it into a series. I am SO stinking excited to see it come to life in front of me. I hope it doesn't disappoint! So go out soon and get this book, Outlander is the first in the series.

Outlander synopsis as taken from here
The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon--when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach--an "outlander"--in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord...1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life...and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives

Dragon Fly In Amber is the second in the series. It follows them through time again. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his.... it, so far, was my favorite. I am only on the third book though, and have heard many say that the third book is their favorite, so stay tuned! 

Voyager I have had a difficult time getting into. I've checked it out THREE TIMES from our library, but  I have a long flight ahead of me on Sunday and decided to give it another shot. 
A little about Voyager taken from here
Their passionate encounter happened long ago by whatever measurement Claire Randall took. Two decades before, she had traveled back in time and into the arms of a gallant eighteenth-century Scot named Jamie Fraser. Then she returned to her own century to bear his child, believing him dead in the tragic battle of Culloden. Yet his memory has never lessened its hold on her... and her body still cries out for him in her dreams.
Then Claire discovers that Jamie survived. Torn between returning to him and staying with their daughter in her own era, Claire must choose her destiny. And as time and space come full circle, she must find the courage to face the passion and pain awaiting her...the deadly intrigues raging in a divided Scotland... and the daring voyage into the dark unknown that can reunite or forever doom her timeless love.
The other books on my list are as follows, I have only read one of these but all of them appeal to me so they are in my "to read" on Good Reads. Are you on Good Reads? If so add me! It's a great site, you can keep track of what you want to read, read reviews and also keep track of what you have read! 

Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. 

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. 

But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger? (info from here)

Between Husbands and Friends
Lucy met Kate when they were both young wives and mothers. In the years since, the two women and their husbands and children have become inseparable, spending every August together in a house on Nantucket. Lucy and Kate, each other's most trusted confidantes, have shared their secrets, from the mundane to the shocking--but there's one explosive secret that Lucy has kept to herself.

As August once again approaches, Lucy must confront the truth she has kept hidden all these years. Now, in the midst of an unexpected family crisis, she must make a decision that could shatter all of their lives.

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It's company policy.) But they can't quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O'Neill can't believe this is his job now- reading other people's e-mail. When he applied to be "internet security officer," he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth's and Jennifer's messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can't help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he's falling for Beth, it's way too late to introduce himself.

We Were Liars 
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it's the kind of place where swimming boldly is required and the children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with the midnight skinny-dips, the wet dog smell lingering in the air, the moneyed laughter carrying across the still lake, and before she knows it, she has everything she's ever wanted: wealth, friendship, a boyfriend, and, most of all, the sense, for the first time in her life, that she belongs.

But as Mabel becomes an insider, she makes a terrible discovery, which leads to shocking violence and the revelation of the true source of the Winslows' fortune. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and redefine what is good and what is evil, in the interest of what can be hers.

So I hope that will prompt you to read a little this summer. Tell me, are you reading anything now? Comment and fill me in! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pick Your Plum

By now, surely you have seen one or more of these websites, they send you daily emails with special buys and usually they are super fantastic deals!
I recently came across a new site, Pick Your Plum, daily email updates on the special sales and products that they offer. Everything from home decor, to clothing, super trendy and super cute!

I mean, look at these adorable letters  on their front page this morning

click here!   All you have to do is sign up via email and you will start receiving their daily sale updates and I don't know about you but I LOVE sales!!!!

Click over there on the right to go to their site. :) Now I'm off to order some of these ridiculously cute letters for myself!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Southwest Chopped Chicken Salad

I  love salad. I think I could eat a big salad every night for dinner and be fine with that. This salad is SO good... you need to make it, like right now! It's full of veggies and protein and delicious creamy avocado! So.so.so.good!


For the Salad
Really any veggie you have on hand would work. I used two romain hearts and some boston  lettuce I had
Red, yellow and orange pepper
green onions
one can of black beans rinsed  or one cup if you cook them from dry
2 chicken breasts cooked and chunked

Chop all of that up, throw it in a bowl and then...... 

2/3 cup of plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 packet of ranch dressing season
1/2 packet of taco seasoning 
1/2 of a lime juiced

Mix all of that up.... stir it really well and then drop it in spoonfuls... mix and then drop some more... mix until you have it all coated. Divide into bowls and enjoy, or if you're like me, sit down with this whole bowl and a fork and eat the entire thing. It is that good. 

Enjoy! If you try it I would love to hear about it... I also LOVE when you pin my stuff so, see that pin it button to the side... use it! :) 
Happy Tuesday. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fruit Salsa & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Crisps

We got home yesterday from a much needed week away. The downside to vacation... you have nothing in the house to eat when you get home! So off to the grocery I went today. First stop, Aldi. Do you have one near you? Holy cow, I don't know why I didn't shop here sooner! The deals they have... their produce, it's seasonal but that is what you want, seasonal stuff and it's so CHEAP! Blueberries were .99 for a carton today, strawberries were $1.99 and raspberries $1.99. I also scored some seedless purple grapes (which my kids LOVE) two pounds $1.99. All in all I came home with some great produce!
(Thus post featured on Natural Family Today Link Up)

Which is why I decided to do a little fruit salsa today for snack with some cinnamon sugar tortilla crisps. Honestly, the hardest part was cutting up the tortillas and getting them baked.


Flour Tortillas
Berries (any kind will do, whatever you have on hand) I used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
Olive Oil


I cut my tortillas up, I used 4, I could have made more but didn't want to make too many and waste them. Brush them with olive oil, arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and put into your oven on broil. WATCH THEM CLOSELY! I burnt my first batch. OOPS!


cut up your berries, kiwi, mix in a large bowl
Sprinkle with sugar

Enjoy! Honestly could not have been easier and it was so yummy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Five Happy Yolks in Alabama.

We are here! I love Mobile. It is a great old southern city with history and charm. So many interesting buildings to see, old churches, really you need to visit!
We are staying at the Hampton Inn downtown, I highly recommend it. We got a room, suite, for four nights for a very reasonable price. It is right in the middle of downtown, you can walk anyway you need to go, entertainment, food, museums, you name it.
Tonight we mainly walked to dinner,p and then walked around after to see a little of the city.

We ate at Buck's Pizza. The pizza is great, the beer was good and the atmosphere is pretty nice. Happy hour is from 4:30-630, craft beers are $3 (my kind of place) wine is $2.
We ordered "The Big Buck" pizza, it was pepperoni, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, black olives, onions, it was soooooo good! Anyway, try them out if you are ever in the Mobile area!

A few photos from tonight