A chick flick that has me singing the praises of Channing Tatum, an EP from one of my favorite singer-songwriters and my early vote for the best (and most heartbreaking) book of the year ... here's a peek at a few of the things I was loving on this month.
Earlier this week I turned 30. That’s a big number, yeah? Except, it didn’t feel all that big of a deal to me. Not until others started making it so.
There were reminders from friends. “So, how does it feel to spend your last week in your 20s?” Moments that made me pause and think, “Oh yeah, I’m leaving that “2″ behind, aren’t I?” And, apparently, 30 is the age where people wish you “Happy birthday” only to follow it with a “Well, you don’t look a day over 27.” What’s that all about?
For all the lumps and ribbings that have come with the occasion, here’s the lesson I’m taking with me as I leave my 20s behind: My life at 30 is everything I thought it would and yet, nothing like what I imagined.
It’s a hard concept to wrap one’s head around but I feel like, as I talk to others who’ve newly entered this age bracket themselves, they all tend to agree with me.
Maybe it’s that we aren’t living where we thought we would when we pictured our 21-year-old selves turning 30. Maybe we’re in marriages we didn’t think we’d be in or maybe we’re single when we thought we’d have put a ring on it by now. And maybe the jobs we come to everyday aren’t the ones we got degrees for at 22 and 23. But that’s the thing about turning 30. At 25, we worry we’ll never have life all “figured” out. At 30 we’re old enough to know better. There is no sense in “figuring” life out because so much of it unravels beyond our control. Getting to 30 means coming to terms with the notion the best you can do is enjoy the ride. And that, my friends, is exactly what I’ve been doing. What I hope to continue doing as this new decade of life unfurls before me.
I’ll add what I’m loving most about this particular birthday is its accompaniment of complete and total security in who I am and my self-worth. Three months ago, I was letting other people’s ideas and thoughts for myself and my business influence the decisions I was making for the future. But, like a switch that’s been flipped, I turn another momentous year older and suddenly the only person’s opinion I’m really paying attention to is my own. It’s freeing and, in the end, may be the best gift of turning 30. Well, that and an incredible surprise party. Oh, and a new pair of buttery soft suede pumps. Can’t forget those! :)
I would have loved to see the look on my face when I walked from our garage into our sunroom Saturday night. Nick had just taken me to a fancy dinner for my birthday and I was feeling like a special girl for having such a sweet man in my life. And then I opened the door to see faces of so many people I adore shouting “SURPRISE!” …Well, I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been more surprised! OR flustered! Friends from my past, photographer friends, work friends and my family, all of whom made time to come and wish me a happy birthday in person.
What a truly sweet surprise it was to be showered with so much love! I learned that Nick (along with a lot of help from my sweet friends) had been planning for months to throw a surprise birthday party for my 30th. Add in a Hollywood theme (and a whole house of people wearing their finest attire) and it made for a night that felt like a DREAM!
All I can add is I don’t think I’ve ever felt so special. Truly. To all of you helped make this night what it was, thank you. You have no idea how much it meant to me!
There were vintage movie posters all over the dining room, along with buffet tables set up with “Old Hollywood” drinks and desserts. German chocolate cake is my FAVORITE cake in the world (and now I know why, a few weeks back, my co-workers were playing the game of “What’s your favorite cake?” with me ;) ) My girl, Stacey. One of my dearest friends — I’ve photographed her family, we’ve been to Los Angeles together, and we bonded within weeks of starting our jobs together at Ball State back in ’08 (she had me at “Have you read this series called Twilight?” haha) According to Nick, this party wouldn’t have been a TENTH as awesome as it was without her inspiration. It was Stacey’s husband, Gannon, who came up with the Hollywood theme and these two spent hours prepping for the party (including showing up at 4 o’clock to decorate and set up — we didn’t get home until 8 o’clock!) No words to describe how awesome a friend she is to me….these pictures are all the evidence you need. Along with Stacey, the other ring leader in surprise planning was my friend and co-worker, Kate. Insanely creative, super sweet, hilarious and an amazing baker, I just adore her (and I’ll be photographing her family later this year so keep an eye out for her sweet-as-can-be daughter, Rose). So grateful she and her hubby, Michael, came into Nick and I’s lives in 2011. We value their friendship so much! Speaking of Kate, SHE BAKED ME A CAMERA CAKE. I took one look at it and died of happiness. I’m so unworthy of her generosity (and OMG SHE PUT ME AND NICK ON THE VIEWFINDER!) Speaking of Nick, there’s that SWEET man of mine. I still cannot believe he pulled this kind of fast one on me. Dozens upon dozens of emails with Stacey and the gang, lies told to me to keep me in the dark —— all so he could give me the best birthday a girl could ask for. I couldn’t believe everyone who showed up for the party, including my loonnnggg time childhood friend, Kathleen. There was a period when I was about six where I think I seriously lived the whole summer at Kathleen’s house. We’ve reconnected in recent years and it’s so wonderful to have her back in my life. Everyone deserves a friend as sweet as she is! Oh, Kathleen also made the amazing “Next Best Thing to Ryan Gosling” chocolate trifle that all the guests loved (Stacey said an exception from vintage Hollywood icons like Clark Gable and James Dean was made for Ryan because….well, DUH. IT’S RYAN. :) ) I work with some pretty incredible people at Ball State, I tell you what ….. Special shout-out to Danielle (in red) who made ALL the cut-outs for the food that everybody just loved. One of the best details of the night! Speaking of details, I had my own star on the “Walk of Fame” — WHAAAAAA????? I’m telling you, Stacey thought of EVERYTHING (I even had a velvet VIP rope that she borrowed from the local convention center….that right there? THAT IS AN AMAZING FRIEND). And while we’re on the topic of amazing friends, those are my college buddies (and best friend, Tracy) on the right. Andy and Jon are my two closest friends from college and it’s pretty awesome that after 10 years, we’re still celebrating our birthdays together (Andy’s 30th was THAT night and we all were at his party the night before)! So many friends made sacrifices to make it to the party — for Betsy and Erin (on the left), it was a long drive down from Fort Wayne (THANK YOU GIRLS for making it!) and for my wonderful friends (and Nick and I’s wedding photographers), Amanda and Nate Reynolds (on the right), it meant finding a sitter for their infant son, Ruben. It’s realizing what everyone had to do to get there that made me choke up the most …. My oldest brother, Mark, his wife, Lynne, and my sister, Karin, and husband, Gary, also made the trip down from Fort Wayne — loved seeing their smiling faces when I came into the house! (sorry to the fam for the blurry photo — hoping one of my siblings got a shot in focus!) It’s intimidating to bring friends from so many different parts of your life together in one house, but everyone seemed to have a GREAT time. And, like my friend Betsy said, “It’s like your blog, only in real life!!” I LOVED IT!! :) And finally, one detail I woke up to the next morning to fully appreciate. When I told you Stacey thought of everything, she REALLY thought of everything. Because, you see, I even had my own PAPARAZZI!!! See…did I not have the most amazing birthday party or WHAT? Can’t WAIT for what’s in store in my 30th year. If it holds as much awesomeness as this one night, well, it’s going to be my best year yet!
I know, I know… This is the biggest non sequitur of a blog post ever. I’m talking about produce bags like they’re some fictional character akin to Edward Cullen. But I’m telling you what, friends — I LOVE THESE BAGS.
I’ve been on the eco-bandwagon at the grocery for some time, abandoning those ubiquitous plastic bags in favor of amazing, heavy-duty IKEA bags. But I’ve always hated using plastic produce bags for the mound of fruit and veggies I’d haul home each week (which, is it just me or are those produce bags always the biggest pain to get open?)
Cue one of my dear friends from my newspaper days, Joy. A few months ago, Joy posted a note on Facebook about a friend of hers, Erica, raising money for an adoption by selling homemade, reusable produce bags through her Adopting Green Produce Bags project.
It was JUST what I was looking for! I emailed Erica ASAP, snapped up two sets of five bags and squealed when I opened them (yes, I’m a dork and actually squealed). And here’s the reason I’m writing about them now:
1) They are AWESOME. Incredible quality, machine washable and so easy to use. EVERY time I’ve been to the grocery since their arrival (at least a dozen times), I’ve had people ask where I bought them or tell me how unique they are. Cashiers, people in line behind me, you name it. One woman even pulled out her phone, started taking pictures and finally I said, “Give me your email and I’ll send you Erica’s contact info!” People LOVE these bags.
2) I don’t personally know Erica (and she doesn’t know I’m blogging about her) but I love that she’s raising money for her adoption this way. That this project is a true labor of love and, at the same time, good for our environment. And then there is this: I believe in the power of the Internet and the power of small artists and creative types who can help spread the word for others.
So Erica, if one person places an order for some of your bags off this blog post, well, that’s awesome. But if not, I just want you to know, every week, I appreciate them so much. And I have a line of shoppers behind me whose compliments echo that sentiment :)
If you’re interested in going green with your produce bags, please consider contacting Erica at ericavoell[at]gmail.com. The sets are $12, plus $5 shipping (I paid for mine through PayPal).
PS – Sorry postings have been light this week — have a lot going on with Valentine’s, birthday parties and placing orders and finishing tax prep! I’ll be back next week with some new posts — including (gulp) some thoughts on turning the big 3-0!!!!
At my job at Ball State, I have a wonderful graduate assistant, Chanel. She’s worked for me for over three years and, in every way, is the little sister I never had (I have an older sister I adore, for those keeping tab). We’ve gotten close in the years we’ve worked together (as I often do with the students I mentor) and seeing her navigate her early 20s with her sweet, long-time boyfriend, Kyle, reminds me SO much of Nick and I when we were that age. Ahhh…fond memories :)
Last spring, Chanel told me she and Kyle bought a house they were fixing up. In the months that followed, she’d update me here and there on projects (“We knocked the ceiling out” or “The floors got redone this weekend“). I knew the two of them put a lot of love, sweat and work into the project but had no idea just HOW much until Nick and I visited in December for a home tour. My jaw fell to the floor when I saw just how AMAZING the place looked. And, realizing the shoestring budget these two transformed their place on, I was all the more stunned (as was Nick, who mentioned in the car on the way home, “Yeah, no way did I have a place that looked that nice at 23!“)
A few weekends ago, I told Chanel I had the itch to shoot again, had some new equipment to test out and, “Oh yeah, can I come take pictures of your gorgeous new place?” She happily obliged and here’s the result of our afternoon together. Chanel, I adore you! So happy for you guys as you settle in to your HIP new place!
In a few sentences, explain to me your house (age, style, etc.) and a few of the biggest changes you made to it?
Chanel: Our house was built in 1895 and is located inside the Pendleton Historical District. It was originally a two-room home that was expanded in the ’20s. A few of the major projects right away were returning the walls and ceilings to original height and style, while also refinishing the hard wood floods throughout. Then we completely overhauled the kitchen [Kyle's dad is a contractor so he and his dad did a lot of the work together].
Chanel and Kyle’s dogs, Lexus (in above photo) and Audi (below). Two sweet pooches for two sweet people (Kyle is an artist and makes cute dog portraits for people, including our beloved Daisy and my friend Betsy’s pugs. If you’re interested in your own custom pooch portrait, let me know and I’ll connect you with Kyle!) What are 2 or 3 of your new “favorite” things about the house now that you guys have wrapped up work on it?
Definitely the kitchen and the built-in in the living room. We love our new kitchen layout and design [Chanel's mom designs kitchens and did a great job helping design theirs]. And the built-in in the living room was a great re-purposing job that we filled with personal items. [ISN'T IT TRéS CHIC?]
We worked as a team, while learning new skills with the help of Kyle’s dad. For example, I learned how to replace the glass in the french doors and put down the flooring in the kitchen. It was nice to work on a common goal since we usually have different professional goals. [Chanel's studying to become a speech pathologist and is a craft genius (she MADE that paper wreath below); Kyle is a newspaper designer -- and has mad design skills :) ]I always love when I step in a home and see genuine personal accents everywhere. I loved seeing some of Kyle’s artwork hanging in their bedroom. How cozy is this space?
What do you think your budget was for the remodel projects? What kinds of steps would you recommend for others doing home stuff to save money?
Conservatively, we spent around $3,000 on the remodel and furnishings [OMG THAT'S ALL?!! was my response when she told me that!]. We would recommend doing as much work yourself as possible. Without our free labor that number would have been exponentially higher. Craigslist and Goodwill are your friends, half of the things in our house came from there [I am SO impressed with how good these two are at this! I swear Chanel has the "Craigslist" touch! ha]. You just have to search for what you want and strike quickly. And anyone remodeling should check out one of the Habitat for Humanity Re-Stores like the one in Indy.
You two are so adorable….I can’t wait to photograph your wedding some day! :) One of those AWESOME Craigslist (or maybe it was ebay) finds. Chanel loves owls — and I loved spotting them throughout the house. (and their kitchen table above is an antique drafting table they refinished — a hand-me down from Kyle’s grandpa, an architect …so much personality in all the hand-me downs. Love it!) Okay, here is where the “I’m impressed” meter went up a notch. Chanel had this idea to turn old tea cups into kitchen lights. AND KYLE MADE THEM FOR HER. On that note, I asked, “You are definitely marrying this man, yes?” (and Kyle shared he only broke one teacup in the process…which, of course, were all bought at Goodwill! They’re so smart!) Chanel and Kyle, THANK YOU for letting me come by and get creatively inspired again — both in taking your pictures and just poking around in that awesomely creative space you call home. Go get yourselves a home blog already and when you guys are on HGTV, I can say I knew you when ;)
***If you know of anyone who’s rehabbed a home like this (or is just super proud of their place), please share! I’d love to do more creative, out-of-the-box work in 2012 and at-home sessions are on that list!***