Life Essentials: Things I Can’t Live Without

My life has been crazy the last month and a half.  It was a somewhat-disaster.  I cried a lot.  I left my really important pieces of paper that I need to get on a plane in Tahoe when I went on a work trip and my mother had to fix the situation.  I moved and then the pipe in our old residency busted and now I anticipate a grand fight with the homeowner, who by the way, is the worst kind of desperate jerk-face.  It’s made me think a lot about why people can’t just be nice to each other.   It makes me happy that his house flooded because he so badly is so desperate to find any reason to keep every dollar of ours he can when I returned his house to him in better condition than he provided it to me.  Then I feel guilt for thinking this.  And then I tell myself to stop.  I shot a lot of gorgeous weddings that I can’t wait to share.  I ran a marathon that I can’t wait to tell you about.  I went on vacation and I haven’t even looked at the photos yet, much less thought about editing them.  Remember that time I photographed Dave Matthews Band?  Yeah, I haven’t even had time to look at those photos yet and that was three months ago.

Anyways, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about all the things that make my insanely busy life SO much better.

FYI, none of these companies give me free stuff or suggested this in any way.  I am personally in love with all of them and it’s a fairly random list.  If you are from one of these companies and want to give me free stuff, I would say, “oh hells yes” especially if you are Timbuk2 (pssst I could really use a new gym bag hint hint).

Messenger Bag Travel Style in Salzburg, Austria. Photo by Erik Moore.

So, without further adieu, I present:

SHIT THAT I THINK IS AWESOME

1.  Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Insert and Timbuk2 Snoop Camera Bag – It’s no secret that I’m Timbuk2 obsessed.  On my List of Travel Essentials, Timbuk2 scored 3 of the 8 spots.  However, I have since that list decided that I hate the Lowe Pro Slingshot, which originally wiggled it’s way into one of the spots.  Since creating that list, my favorite company Timbuk2 has broken into the camera bag world and I couldn’t be happier.  I found on a trip in 2012 that the Low Pro Slingshot was creating serious imbalances in my back muscles because I could only wear it on one shoulder.  Since I already own three or four different sizes of Timbuk2 Messenger Bags, the Snoop Camera Insert is the perfect remedy: pop it into the bag and voila, you have a camera bag that doesn’t look like a camera bag.  When I travel, I flatten the insert and a messenger bag into my luggage and then I have it when I arrive at my destination.   Sometimes I have too much gear to fit it into a simple messenger bag.  For travel and weddings, I rely on the Snoop Camera Bag.  With side entry for easy gear organization and access, a padded internal laptop compartment, and padded Velcro panels for protection and separation, it’s just what I need when I have to haul it all.

Photo by Marion Daniels

2.  My Timberland Shoreham Knee High Boots – I scored so huge when I ordered these.  To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what prompted it me to place the order on Amazon that fateful day last year (maybe it was that I hated my old winter boots), but this was the best $49.99 I ever spent.  You probably won’t find that sort of deal on Timberland Boots and I may never find it again, but they’ve won me over.  From all to weddings to travel, I wear these boots everywhere and they are so insanely comfortable that I rarely even notice 12 hours straight on my feet.   I will never order from another boot brand again.  $200 or $50, these things are worth every penny.

3.  The Black Rapid Women’s Camera Strap - this ergonomic women’s specific camera strap is lightweight and comfortable – key features when you’ve got 10 lbs hanging off your body for hours at a time.  The sling allows for quick, graceful and smooth access to your camera and although I am often forced to use the Black Rapid Double Strap when I have two cameras hanging off of me, the Women’s version is significantly less cumbersome and far more pleasant to wear all day.

4.  Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day – Years later, this book still reigns supreme as my most used cookbook.  Bread: it never gets old and I can’t live without it.

5.  My coffee maker.  Wax and wane all you want about your artisan slow drip coffee out of ridiculously overpriced beakers but I can’t live without my Zojirushi Thermal Carafe.  First of all, if my coffee isn’t ready and waiting for me when I get out of bed, I’m furious and secondly, if I can’t take my coffee and I do mean ALL my coffee, to bed with me then something is wrong here.  

6.  The Starbucks Double Walled Coffee Tumblers keep coffee so warm it’s a problem because I can drink coffee WAY later in the day than I should be because it NEVER GETS COLD.  It’s like MAGIC.  They put every other travel mug I’ve ever bought to shame so now I’m a believer.  If only they would stop serving shit coffee.

7.  My Amazon Prime Membership.   SO AWESOME I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE LIVE WITHOUT THIS.  Oh, wait, yes I do: they live in places where they have Target.  I don’t have that so instead I have Amazon Prime and thus, more time in my life.

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Napa Destination Wedding Photography | Adam Plus Tracey

It is no secret that New Orleans is my favorite city in the world.

When I discovered that Adam and Tracey were from New Orleans, I basically did a second line through my house.

When I arrived on site and heard someone use the word “caddywhompus” I died and went to heaven.   “Do you know that I am the only person in California who has ever used that word until now!” I exclaimed.

Adam and Tracey had a small, intimate destination wedding surrounded by their friends and family members on a private estate in Napa and everything about it was exceedingly comfortable.   Adam’s brother officiated the ceremony.  Tracey and I share a love for Amazon Prime.  The cake was flown in from New Orleans: maple peanut caramel deliciousness from a baker that Adam once professed that he would marry he loved the cake so much.

Tracey and Adam were so at ease with each other.  We went gallivanting into the vines for photo opportunities and they laughed, giggled, and conversed as if I wasn’t even there.  It was the perfect venue for a perfect couple and an awesome family from Louisiana that made me feel right at home.

That is why I love New Orleans so much: because everything about her and her people instantly make me feel home.

Dear Adam and Tracey, thank you so much for choosing me to photograph your day!

I taste good

I hopped over to Los Angeles this week to rendezvous with my best mate after working at El Tour de Tucson.  We had a serious weekend of wine drinking, cooking and relaxing on our agenda.  The first stop on Saturday: LA’s Wine House, which had the biggest selection of regionally organized Italian Wines I’d ever seen.  They also had a ton of  harder to find favorites like Patz & Hall.  What caught my eye, however, was this gem:

“THAT’S MY NAME!” I yelled.  The sales agent unpacking wine on the aisle laughed and said I better buy it.  I was a little expensive – $30 on sale down from $55.  At least I know my worth is significant.

I couldn’t find a ton of information about Lindley Wines online.  Their website is still under construction.  Despite the fact that owners Jake and Frankie Lindley just started making wines (2011 was their first vintage), the wine was surprising smooth and quite delightful (I would expect me to be a bit more bitter and snappy).

End of story: I’d buy me again.  Or maybe they should just give me some.

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Clean All the Things!

I’m running  a marathon in 8 days.

There is something wrong with my left calf.

I pulled my old running shoes out of the donation box to One World Running at work.  I think I’m taking them to run the marathon in because I hate my new shoes.   I have 178 miles in them.  I’m not sure if I can take anymore.  The shoe situation is a little nerve racking.

I can’t take both so I’m committing.  Today.  Because at 3 AM I have to fly to Dallas to do a photo booth at a high school reunion.

That’s right, I’m a traveling photo booth now also.

On Sunday we go to New York City where I’m going to take my boyfriend to a musical despite his insistence that they are way too expensive.

Then we’re going to go to DC where I’m going to run a marathon after spending 10 days walking around NYC and DC.

I’m really happy the government took their heads out of their asses for at least a few days so that I can go to the monuments and run a marathon I’m not trained for.

Last year I ran a marathon and only ran 30 miles in the six weeks before.  I’ve managed to run 80 miles in the six weeks before this year, but I don’t feel like I’m any better off.  I am still using it as an excuse to eat bread all day long every day between now and then.

We’re getting kicked out of our house.  The homeowners hate us.  I stood in the kitchen and cried because we had no cinnamon the other night but I was really crying over my house.  I love my house so much.  Word of warning to the next person interested in renting the home at:

2167 Cornelian Dr, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150

The homeowners are old, insane, and unwilling to communicate.  I know the kitchen is beautiful but their shit ain’t worth it. 

So………

I leave tomorrow and I’m frankly a little nervous about the next month and a half:

I am out of town 31 of those 43 days.  Oof.  

I have 4 weddings to shoot.  YAY!

I have 1 marathon to run.  Um….

Thanksgiving will happen.  YES.

I will be in my store for 12 hours over Black Friday.  Again.

I will live in two different houses and I will move, knowing full and well that I’m probably going to have to move again in six months and this very thought makes me tired.

This thought also makes me tired: one day I won’t have to work holidays.  Can I just have a holiday?  For once?  In my life?  Please?

I’m trying to buy a house and I just handed over all my financial information to some stranger whose going to analyze it and then try to decide if I am financially responsible enough to be a home owner.  I’m probably not. 

If I do buy a house, I’m going to celebrate and buy this to go in it.  Megs, don’t be mad, I’m in love with it too.

I’m also getting some chickens.  I’m gonna be that person.

Why isn’t it snowing yet?

Gonna need a lot of this:

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Lockeford, CA Wedding | Stephanie + Garrett

Stephanie’s mother found me on the internet and I’m so happy she did.  On the day of the wedding she said that she picked me because I did “something different” than the others.  It was a nice compliment and an even nicer way to cap off a wonderful evening with this family and their friends.

This Lockeford, CA wedding was held at St. Joachim Catholic Church, just outside of Lodi.  Lockeford is a rural area with vineyards and expansive rolling ranch land to show off.   The family has deep roots here: Garrett was baptized in the church and now, as an adult, he was married here.  The wedding was a DIY affair with plenty of friends lending their hands to help with the fall decor.  The cake was absolutely stunning and made by Garrett’s own mother!

Stephanie’s mother is a bit like me: obstreperous and boisterous with a laugh that rings through the hall.  Her daughter, however, is a bit more reserved: calm, collected, and quiet.  My favorite part of the evening happened during the best man’s speech, during which it was disclosed that the reason Stephanie and Garrett are together is because her mother hounded him at his workplace to date her daughter.  I’m not certain how many boys this tactic was attempted on before Garrett, but it seems to have worked out for everyone!  

 The young teenage son of Garrett’s boss stood up and also gave a hysterical speech during which he lamented the loss of a the “best one” off the market.   I was actually in tears on the floor I was laughing so hard.

I was briefly concerned that no one would be dancing, since the dancefloor is my favorite place to be, but thankfully my fears were unfounded.    Here’s some of my favorites from my day with Stephanie and Garrett.

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 Venue: St. Joachim Catholic Church | Dresses: David’s Bridal | Florist: Cosco | DJs: Every Era Entertainment | Caterers: Tin Roof BBQ | Cake: Mother of the Groom | Decorations: DIY | Rentals: Giuffra’s Party Rentals

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Destination Wedding in Temecula | Haley + Dave

My best mate Haley and I have been friends for over ten years now I think.  We’ve never lived in the same city.  If one of us suddenly gets the feeling that it’s been too long, then we make a point to meet up.  We call them our “rendezvous.”  In 2006 we travelled to Coachella together.  Sometimes we each go half way to San Franciscosometimes I fly to LA.  When Haley and Dave became engaged, I felt honored to be asked to take their engagement portraits.

Though we’re often far apart and sometimes go months without catching up, when we’re together, we’re just the same as always.  I love her to death and I’m so honored to have been able to travel to Temecula Wine Country to witness her marriage to the man she loves.  It should go without saying that I also approve of him.  He drinks great wine.

Haley rented a beautiful house on the top of a hill over looking the wine orchards of Temecula for her venue, which the groomsmen and bridesmaids also stayed in during the week.  It was very much so a family affair – we cooked together, decorated together, puffed up puffy lanterns together, drank wine, laughed and danced and joked together.  Haley’s family and friends all pitched in to arrange flowers and fill ice buckets.  It was a whirlwind of activity and a truly DYI wedding, right up until the point that her amazing wedding coordinator showed up and took over for us.  In the end, it all came together in the most beautiful of ways.

I was not the photographer for the wedding and I was more than happy to put away my camera and dance my butt off all. night. long.  I did photograph most of our week and getting ready photos before the photographer arrived, so that’s what you’ll see here.  Haley and Dave hired the uber-talented, super fun, really adorable Caroline Fontenot and eventually their photos will grace the pages of her blog.  You should go check out her work, it’s fantastic: energy and fun exudes from the very page when you look at her photos.

Haley’s wedding was nothing short of a spectacularly good time: beautiful but relaxed, stylish but informal.  We were paraded around by mariachis, ate street corn and tacos, drank wonderful wine and beer that went down all too easy from Stone Brewing Co, took silly photos in a photobooth, and danced long after the sun went down until we had blisters on our feet.

Temecula was such a great place to visit and if you are in the southern CA area, it would make a great weekend get-away.  I wrote about our adventures wine tasting the other day.  Temecula also has an adorable main street called Old Town, filled with bars and restaurants, hotels and tiny shops.  I stayed in The Palomar Inn, an amazing European (read: shared baths) style hotel right on the main street of Old Town.  The 10 room historic inn is family run, was built in 1927 and is supposedly haunted, though their ghost didn’t show his face to me.  Right around the corner from my Inn every Saturday is an awesome farmer’s market where I sampled amazing hot sauce from Vera’s Tamales Express and then filled my belly before the wedding with a blue crab burrito from Street Foods Co.  I needed it because I’d woken up at 6 AM to run 10 miles with the Temecula Running Club!

Photographer: Caroline Fontenot | Violinists: La Libradolce | Mariachis: Los Salazar | Dress: JLM Couture | Flowers: The Empy Vase | Decor: West Elm | Caterer: M&L Taco Catering | Wedding Cake: Hotcakes Bakes | Popsicles: Front Porch Pops | Bartenders: Always a Happy Hour Bartending | Rentals: Temecula Party Rentals | Wedding Coordinator:  Vanessa Vargess | DJ/Lighting: Brett Elliott | Vacation Home Rental: Eva Woodsmall

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Destination Wedding Preview | Second Shooting for David + Rose

I traveled to Vegas, Baby, Vegas this weekend to second shoot for the wonderfully talented and uber-amazing McKenzie Stewart of Ms. Wedding Image.  I’ll tell you all about it later this month, but until then, here’s a little sneak peek of one of my images from the day.

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You’ll be able to see all the photos from the wedding over at McKenzie’s site.  In the meantime, head to Ms. Wedding Image’s facebook page to see her sneak peek images also!

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Destination Wedding | A Bachelorette Party in Temecula

I know I don’t have to tell you that one of my favorite things in the world is wine.

I’ll tell you again.

I love wine.

So, when I received the amazingly cute invitation for my best mate Haley’s Bachelorette Day in Temecula Wine Country, you know I was excited.  Haley’s Maid of Honor did an abfab job of planning a day for all of the women: a limo tour of wine country, complete with tastings at four vineyards, a delicious lunch at The Pinnacle at Falkner Winery, and just when we thought it couldn’t get better, dinner at Public House on Main Street in Old Town Temecula.

Haley

Our first stop on the tour was Briar Rose Winery, a vineyard with a very interesting story: in the 1970′s, a Disney employee responsible for the construction of Disneyland’s Fantasyland and Toon Town, Beldon Fields purchased land in Temecula and built replicas of Snow White’s cottage for his wife.  Flash forward to the 1990′s.  Les and Dorian Linkogle purchase the estate from the Fields, promising not to change the Snow White Cottages.  Today, the family grows Viognier, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling grapes and make wine.  Dorian, who is an absolute delight, greeted us personally at our limo door, ushered us inside and gave Haley a beautiful story about marriage, what will make it work and how a simple rose will help her get through the tough times.  It was a wonderfully memorable experience.

Our next stop was Falkner Winery, which sits atop a 1500 foot hill that offers unparalleled views of the grapevine filled valley below.  I really enjoyed their Viognier, one of my favorite grapes, which was done in a style a bit more similar to the dryer versions I am used to here in El Dorado County .  We also ate lunch at Falkner in their on site restaurant, The Pinnacle (menu here).  The reviews on Yelp are a bit all over the place, but I can say with confidence that I enjoyed my meal.  I would recommend the Apple and Walnut Baked Brie and the Seafood Portofino.

Our next stop was my favorite from the day: Leoness Cellars.  The wine was stunning and the service was spectacular.  They ushered us into a private tasting room where Dawn explained everything from how certain wines are made, how long they age, what the names of ridiculously large bottles are, how we should eat port and chocolates, to the history of the vineyard and it’s grapes.  We loved it and of all the wineries I visited this day, Leoness is the one I recommend the most.  My favorites included the Viognier, the Melange de Reves, the Meritage, the Syrah, and finally, to be consumed with truffles, the Cinsaut Desert Wine.

Our last stop on the winery tour was Wilson Creek Winery which won extra bonus points for having the owner’s dog wandering around.  Their list of wines is as extensive as their property and choosing just four to taste was difficult.

Last but certainly not least of the day was our dinner at Public House, whose menu was so extensive and amazing sounding that we all ordered WAY too much food.  Their mac’n’cheese changes EVERY DAY.  EVERY DAY.   They have MF’ing grilled romaine.  And they made me a real margarita.  Also, they have a kobe beef burger on the menu and it explicitly says that the chef will not cook it well done, so don’t ask.  Legit.

Want your own Temecula Wine Tasting Day?

RIDE:

  • There are plenty of limo and tour countries in Temecula.  For $105 a person, tastings included, 8 of us cruised around in style for 10 full hours thanks to Sunset Limo Wine Tours.  Our day included a complimentary bottle of champagne to get our morning started right and souvenir wine glasses.

EAT:

  • Holy gastro-pub Batman, I would travel to Temecula to eat at Public House.  Not kidding.  Their outdoor patio was perfectly comfortable and inviting, the beer and wine list inventive and local and their menu overwhelming in its awesomeness.
  • Falkner Winery’s Pinnacle Restaurant is a wise choice if you are spending all day tasting. I enjoyed both the meal and the view and while it’s no Public House, it’s an enjoyable place to eat.

DRINK:

  • Our day included tastings at Briar Rose Winery, Falkner, Leoness Cellars and Wilson Creek Vineyards, but you can incorporate any of the Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association Vineyards and Wineries into your choices for the day.  It’s almost like you get to choose your own adventure.  No, wait, it’s exactly like you get to choose your own adventure.
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Personal Project: The Adventurers

The Adventurers

is a personal project consisting of portraits of people I meet in my own adventures who, in some way, inspire me, strike me, or surprise me.

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LeeAnn and Will

Photographed at: Fireside Pies @ Inwood, Dallas, TX

Live in: Mabank, TX, population 3,035 and a total area of 3 square miles.  Self described as a town where there is “nothing to do.”

I asked LeeAnn and Will if they were going to a party or they just always looked this darn cute.  Her response was, “I’d like to think we always dress like this.”  After imploring them a bit on what they were doing, they admitted to me after much blushing and giggling that they’d been best friends since 4th grade and were on their very first date.  Naturally, I made them go hold hands.  Have you ever seen two high schoolers more fashionable than these two?  I think not.

Destination Wedding Preview | Haley + Dave

 Is there anyone more beautiful and stylish than my best mate?

The answer is clearly and emphatically NO.

I can’t wait to share photos with you from our wonderful weekend in Temecula to celebrate her marriage to a man that I also love very much.  I’m so happy they found each other.  I’m so happy they wed.  I’m so happy she hired a really talented photographer to shoot the ceremony and reception because it meant I got to dance so hard I got blisters on my toes.  I’m so happy I was able to wine and dine and play and laugh and love with my friend and her friends on such a special weekend.

Until I finish, there’s this to tide you over.

Reason #4,876 why Haley is my best mate: she laughs as loud as I do.

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