A Round Tuit

You know those things that basically live on your “to-do” list? Not perpetual chores like laundry and vacuuming, but stuff that you need to do and stuff that you want to do, but stuff that never gets done? Maybe you want to read that classic novel, learn how to crochet, or finally organize the filing cabinet? Well this week my list of “round tuit” items just got shorter by two.

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Part 1.

This is my laptop. I jokingly tell people I built it myself, because when I fried the motherboard of my original one in college, I was able to take the hard drive out of it and put it in my brother’s identical computer. It worked out really well since he had just bought a new mac, and he was happy to let me have this one. Well that was over three years ago, and for the majority of that time I’ve been meaning to clean out the hard drive. For the past two years I’ve been wanting to wipe it completely because so much crud had gotten built up, and it was definitely starting to slow down.

Until Wednesday night. I was quickly flipping through a google image search on daisies when I got the zigzag screen of death. Maybe you know what I’m talking about? It’s white with thin multicolored zigzags running across the screen? Anyway my first computer did that when the motherboard fried, but the “new” one would do it whenever I tried to watch netflix and it got overheated. So I force shut it down, mostly annoyed that my notes weren’t saved, and tried to reboot. Lights, fan, out. Lights, fan, out. It was all too familiar. Remove all power sources and drain any residual electricity. Plug it in, boot it… lights, fan, out. Lights, fan, out. It was most definitely the motherboard again.

Well, I guess I’ll never be cleaning out her hard drive. RIP little HP. We crossed oceans together, and you never once complained about your unethical work hours :-(

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Part 2.

This is a box from Millers. This box is almost a year in the making, and I’m super stoked about its contents. See I did what so many brides on a budget do; I forwent the wedding album from my photographer in favor of the digital images so that I could make my own. Does that thinking save you money? Yes. Does it usually end with a beautiful wedding album in your hands? No.

I was fully aware of the statistics. I knew that newly weds are usually busy starting a life together and making their own album easily lands on the never-completed “round tuit” list. I was also determined to beat the odds. My one advantage was that I was in the process of starting my photography business at the time, so I knew I would have to learn how to make albums anyway. Why not learn on my own album? And what a learning curve it has been! I probably tried out ten different design programs and looked at countless album companies all offering numerous options with a wide range of price points before finally finding a combination I love. Which is why I am so happy to introduce…

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… the Miller’s Signature Album! All of our wedding pictures were taken by the super awesome Kelly of Kelly Lane Photography and her lovely second shooter, Hilde Marie of Hilde Marie Photography. This album is also available for the same price with a leather cover and you can have your names and the date stamped into the front, but we opted for the custom printed cover on canvas.

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Isn’t the texture awesome?

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Ten inches square, full bleed, gutter-less printing… my heart melts :-)

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*happy sigh*

So what’s on your round tuit list? Pick one thing and make it happen this month! I promise it’s so worth it :-)

 

 

 

 

 

The Library: A Love Story

I remember the day someone first told me about libraries. My family was visiting my grandma’s house, when my uncle suggested that I get a library card. He then proceeded to explain that a library was a place where you could check out as many books as you wanted for free! Now all of you are (hopefully) familiar with libraries and probably aren’t astonished by their lack of fees, but all I knew of renting things came from the local Blockbuster. The idea that anyone could walk into a building full of books, take the ones that interested them, and walk out paying absolutely nothing blew my mind.

Now with the internet, there are tons of ways to learn for free. You can find pretty much anything you want to know on the internet if you’re willing to dig a little bit, but libraries still hold a special place in my heart. Walking in and smelling that old book smell, wandering through rows and rows packed with literature on every subject, sitting cross-legged on the floor flipping through book after book after book… *sigh* So much happiness :-)

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Edit: Just to clear up any confusion, this story happened when I was about six, or five, or whenever children learn how to read. As my mom will attest, I’ve been a library junkie the vast majority of my life :-)

Remembering Summer

To say this week has been long would be an understatement. I generally consider myself to be a very social outgoing person, but having something scheduled every night of the week has been a huge drain.

And February is always a struggle. I know, I live in the South and have zero right to complain about winter, but I can’t help it, I’m a summer girl through and through. I want to wear cut-off jeans and go swimming again. I want to sit out back under the stars with Trey without being wrapped in a ginormous blanket (and still ending up with icicle fingers). I want to ride with the windows down every day and some nights.

I know most people who live around here complain about the heat in the summer. 100 degree weather is nothing unusual, and most people would agree that that’s too hot. But I love it! I love baking in the hot sun, sweat covering your body so even the tiniest breeze feels delightful. *sigh* 6 more weeks…

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Making Things Grow: Update

About two months ago the herbs that Trey bought for me sprouted. Since that day, they and I have come a long way: I read about how easy it is to over water them, how they need crazy amounts of sun, how they’re one of the hardest thing to grow indoors (figures), and I watched over them meticulously for any signs of immanent demise.

Indoor Herb Garden

Probably the biggest break though happened last Friday. I’ve been really wary of over watering, waiting for the soil to get dry before watering again, but it took them forever to dry out. Like the first month I think I only watered them once. So then I figured that maybe they needed less water more frequently, but they still weren’t looking very good.

Then last week my friend came over (Martha, the chef, who has actually grown herbs before) and she said that thorough watering is really important because it makes the roots grow. If they had to reach for the water they would get stronger and be able to support the plant as it grew. Well that makes sense.

So after she left I made sure to water them really thoroughly, and discovered something interesting. The pots didn’t have holes in the bottom! How did I miss that for two months? No clue, but it certainly explained a lot. (Note that Trey bought the herbs as a kit designed for beginners.) So I started drilling holes, or trying to. Turns out its actually pretty difficult to drill through, what I’m presuming are some kind of ceramic, pots without dumping the dirt and plants everywhere. Anyway, I got holes of one kind or another in each of the pots, watered them, and left for the weekend. When we came back, the plants were huge! Ok they probably didn’t grow that much, but there was an obvious difference.

I watered them again today, so here’s to hoping that wasn’t too much…

Sweet Basil

Cilantro & Oregano

Parsley

 

A Lesson in Asking

Since Wednesday I’ve had a chance to sleep (yay!), eat real food (yay!), and thaw out in the warm Charleston sun (super yay!!). Word on the street (aka facebook) is that it’s snowing around Charlotte today, and while people seem happy about it for the most part, I can’t help but feel a little smug :-)

Anyway, now that I’m feeling a little more human, I thought I’d share one of the things I was reminded of at the What’s Next Tour. Now this isn’t a new lesson; in fact it’s a very old lesson, but then most of the best ones are. This lesson is about humbling yourself, asking, and being persistent.

In Luke 11 and 18 Jesus tells two separate parables. The first is about a guy who goes to his friend’s house to ask for bread because he had an unexpected guest and he didn’t have anything to serve him. The friend is already locked up and in bed, so he tells the guy to go away. The guy really needs the bread, though, so he just keeps knocking and eventually his friend gives him some bread. In the later parable a widow is asking a judge for legal protection. The judge didn’t care about her or doing what was right, but because she kept bugging him, he eventually gave in. Now both of these parables are about being persistent in prayer, but they can apply to other areas of life as well.

When I was living in Germany, my apartment complex had a laundry room that worked with tokens. At some point the landlord probably got tired of people always coming to him to buy tokens (he didn’t really have office hours, so it was quite a difficult process), so they switched to a card machine. Now you had to put money on your student ID card at the mensa (umm caffeteria/student lounge kind of place) and then swipe your card to do laundry. I’m pretty sure there was a sign in the laundry room about the upcoming change, but there were a lot of signs in the laundry room. Most of them didn’t pertain to me, and they were all in German. Which is how it came to be a Friday afternoon, as I went down to do my laundry wearing my last set of clean clothes, that I discovered that the token machine had been removed.

Uhhh… How am I supposed to do my laundry? My friend lived in the same complex. Her German was much better than mine, so I went upstairs to ask her for help. I could see the card machine, so I figured that was how it was supposed to work now, but I didn’t have any money on my student card and the mensa closes over the weekend. My friend confirmed that the student card was the only way to pay now, and we were both pretty sure that the mensa had already closed. But I didn’t have any clean clothes and no one wants to wear the same underwear for three days, so we walked over anyway just in case it was still open.

It wasn’t. But there were two janitors cleaning inside and they could easily see us through the glass double doors. So I knocked. The man looked up, but motioned that they were closed. I tried to put my plea into hand signs, but he turned back to his work. I kept knocking and calling out in broken German and knocking. The man would look up occasionally but just kept working. The woman started to get annoyed though. She told us more than once that they were closed and that we needed to go away. I tired to explain that I just needed to use the card machine and it wouldn’t take long.

Pause here for a brief culture explanation. In America this probably wouldn’t have been a big deal. The inconvenience of me putting money on my card just wasn’t that great, but we were in Germany. Germans, at least where I was living, love their rules. They have rules and procedures for everything, and you have to follow them precisely or whatever you’re trying to accomplish won’t be accomplished. Of course there are pros to this system. If you know the rules and are able to follow them, things go quiet smoothly. If I had known they were changing the system, I could have turned in my tokens and put money on my card and everything would have been simple. But I didn’t know. So I stood outside the mensa banging on the door and begging in broken German for the janitor to let me in.

After awhile the woman came out of the door to get something from a closet that was in the same landing area as my friend and I were. She walked past us without looking at us, but now I was able to go into my whole spiel knowing she could hear me. I said something along the lines of

“I have no clothes. I have tokens, but tokens don’t work. I must put money on card. Please. I have no clothes.”

She got whatever she needed from the closet, rolled her eyes, sighed, and let me through the door. I think, on the whole, we knocked for twenty minutes while they cleaned the entire floor, and my friend suggested at least once that we just leave. If we had left it would have been fine. I would have worn dirty clothes for a couple days and I would have gotten over it. But I wanted clean clothes, and sometimes the only difference between “just fine” and what you really want is asking and persistence.

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2013

Twenty-thirteen. The year after the “world ended.” The year after college graduation, when my life was no longer laid out before me. The year when anything is possible.

I’ve never really done the whole “new year’s resolution” tradition, partly because I didn’t want to fail and partly because resolution sounded so serious and I could never come up with anything to merit the term. This year, however, new year’s goals have been on my mind a lot. An interesting thing happens when you finish school; you stop having mile markers. No, that’s not true. You still have the first adult job, marriage, the first baby, and the empty nest, but aside from the first two (or the first three for some people), they’re really spread out. In school, every year you’re one grade higher, and that new grade is full of new things to learn and accomplish. I learned the alphabet today! Now we get to read! Then you get to dissect things. Finally you’re taking classes in your major, and then you land your first real job and the rate of cool accomplishments goes way down.

So this year we wrote down goals. Cool things we’d been wanting to do, but had no set plan to accomplish so, in all likelihood, would never be completed. Trey wants to take Cole on a dove hunt. I want to finish my office. We both want to start investing. Of course there are other things on our list as well, but the point is at the end of the year we will be able to look back and see all the things we accomplished, not because some professor assigned it or because it was the next step in a government program, but because we wanted to do it, we made a plan, and we did it.

Of course all of this goal setting and planning for the new year included my business (in fact, most of my goals for the year are business related), and two new things I’m super excited about are my new office (finally un-buried from the moving mess) and Justin & Mary’s What’s Next tour on the 16th. Justin and Mary are two awesome wedding photographers in Connecticut and they’re going on tour this month to teach about business and lighting. I’ve been crazy about them ever since I first discovered their pancake sessions through Abby‘s blog. Talk about a wealth of free information! I’ve learned a ton through their blog and free online conferences and now I can’t wait to actually meet them and start the year off right!

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Oh and this is my office in it’s beginning stage (the closet is huge :-D ):

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It’s Christmas Time!

This is Trey and my first Christmas together, so we don’t really have a set of traditions to follow yet. All he knows is the way his family celebrates, and all I know is the way my family celebrates, but this year we’re getting to do things our own way! I’m really excited about starting our own traditions, but I think not being around our families makes it a little harder to get into the Christmas spirit (the seventy degree weather probably isn’t helping either, but I refuse to complain about that :-) ) This past weekend, however, we went shopping for lights, wrapping paper, and a wreath. Then we went to our church’s incredible Christmas show on Saturday night, and last night we went tree shopping!

Now I don’t know the traditions behind your family’s Christmas tree, but I have a strong preference for live trees. Don’t get me wrong, fake trees are way more practical (not such a fire hazard, no needles to vacuum, it stays green as long as you want to keep it up, it’s cheaper, etc.), but there’s just something about going out in the cold to cut down the perfect tree, the way it makes the whole house smell like Christmas, and even the mess that the needles make on the floor that I love.

Trey’s never had a live tree, but he was willing to indulge me, so we went looking for a tree farm. Except we live in the city and Google maps indicated that the closest tree farm was halfway to Columbia. Ok so maybe we wouldn’t be cutting down our own tree (it’s not like it was cold anyway), but picking one up from Lowes just seemed wrong. And then we passed a tent on the side of the road filled with trees! It reminded me a lot of the pickup trucks filled with vegetables that you see sometimes, so we pulled in.

A big signed indicated these Frasier Firs were from the mountains of North Carolina…

Ok maybe not exactly like the pickup trucks. Still they were nice trees, and it was a lot better than Lowes. Plus they had all the trees named =) Vinnie was our favorite, and so far, the dog seems completely uninterested. Here’s hoping that lasts once the decorations are up ;-)

Making Things Grow

My first encounter with fresh herbs was last spring when my roommate found a delicious looking recipe on Pinterest. Amazingly it appeared simple as well as delicious so we made the short walk to the grocery store and acquired the necessities, including fresh basil. It was, without a doubt, the best meal I cooked in college (granted my usual pbj isn’t much competition).

Since that day I have tried many recipes that call for fresh herbs, and I’m often frustrated by the selection at my local “grocery” store. There was one time that I had to visit three different stores just to find basil. On another trip they had basil, but it was far from fresh. A different recipe called for a small amount of parsley, but at the store I had to buy a huge handful, which, quite naturally, went bad in my refrigerator. Why couldn’t they have all of the main herbs, fresh and loose, so you could get exactly what you needed?

When we moved into the house, I quickly noticed the extra wide sill on the the kitchen window. How perfect would it be to have a little herb garden on this window sill? I could just pluck the herbs I needed as I was cooking and nothing would ever spoil or be wasted! Of course I knew nothing about what it really took to grow herbs. My mom has an incredible green thumb, so I was always able to simply enjoy her efforts instead of learning how to do it myself (kind of like cooking…)

In any case, Trey decided I had talked about growing herbs for long enough, so when I came back from Seattle I had five little pots of planted herbs! I guess now would be a good time to learn how to take care of them =)

These are supposed to be cilantro and oregano,

sweet basil,

and parsley.

The chives haven’t sprouted yet, so I’m pretty sure I killed them :-( Oh and a white fuzzy mold keeps growing on the top of the soil even though I rarely water them and have them in the sunniest spot in the house? Anyway, I’m pretty psyched that they actually sprouted and I hope they live long enough to make it into a recipe or two!

Life is Crazy

The original plan for this morning was to get up early and take pictures at sunrise for a church project, while scouting a location for next weekend’s shoot. What actually happened was that I slept in until 10:30 and had a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with an episode of Good Eats.

See it all started with a text on Thursday afternoon that kind of sounded like a scam: “Becky!!! Wanna work this weekend? $15 an hour plus tips.” Well it turns out my friend had a class with a girl whose mom was working on the financial team for a big concert in town, and they were short a couple of shifts.

“Oh cool. What concert?” Iasked.
“It’s a country concert, the Southern Ground Music and Food Festival featuring the Zac Brown Band.” Now I’m pretty musically ignorant. I’ll listen to the radio and hear songs I like, but I generally have no idea who sings them or anything about the bands. The fact that I recognized the name of the band (even if I couldn’t tell you what songs they sing) made me figure it was kind of a big deal. Trey and I didn’t have an plans for Sunday afternoon, so my friend signed me up for a 1-10 shift and said wear khaki pants and a white shirt.

That was all I knew going in to what ended up being an amazing night of free music and food. I ended up running one of the registers at Chef Rusty Hamlin‘s Eat & Greets truck (turns out he’s pretty famous, too) where we got a free Zac Brown Band t-shirt and were invited to eat as much as we wanted AND take a plate home! Did I mention the food was amazing?! Oh and we could hear the music perfectly. Turns out I actually know and like quite a few of Zac Brown’s songs (which will make it less awkward when I wear the t-shirt!), and one of them was a love song that Trey burned to a mix CD while I was in Germany :D

So all of that to say sometimes the coolest opportunities come when you least expect them, and getting home at midnight after working a ten hour shift is not conducive to sunrise photography.

Lake Weekend

This weekend Trey and I took the dog and headed to Columbia. His grandparents have a little house on Lake Murray that they got back before Columbia expanded and made everything super expensive. Trey has stayed there countless times while we were dating/engaged, but this was the first time we got to go as a couple on vacation. We grilled out, taught Cole how to jump off the dock, and recovered from all of the swimming with back-to-back episodes of House Hunters. Basically it was perfect :-)

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