our adventures in life, love, faith and adoption

Monday, July 28, 2014


1 Foaming Soap Dispenser*: $0
1/2 C Dr. Bronner's Baby-mild Liquid Castile Soap: $1.97 ($15.75/32oz)
1/2 C Distilled Water: $0
2 tsp Raw Honey: $0.09 ($8.99/32oz)
2 tsp Jojoba Oil: $0.67 ($7.99/4oz)
5 Drops Young Living Lavender Essential Oil**: $0.39 ($23.50/15ml)
5 Drops Young Living Purification Essential Oil Blend**: $0.31 ($18.75/15ml)
TOTAL: $3.43 for 7.5 fluid oz

Recipe inspiration from The Healthy Chickadee

Blend all ingredients except the castile soap in a blender. (No really, don't put the soap in the blender just to see if it makes a difference or not. Tried that. Soap exploded out of the blender like dish soap would out of your dishwasher. You're welcome.) Pour ingredients into empty foaming soap dispenser and add castile soap. Shake until blended. Enjoy!

This is definitely a winner in our house! The first time I made it I just used lavender essential oil, but this time I mixed it up with both lavender and purification, since both are great for the skin. Purification is used for purifying and cleansing bacteria, and with all the breakouts I was getting, I thought this would be a great addition. (I also use it in my homemade deodorant and in my homemade bug spray). I shake the bottle of cleanser before each use and it comes out really smooth and soft. Both Andy and I love it, and it's really easy to mix up when you need more. It also smells quite lovely :) I would say the only downside is that it stings if you get it in your eyes, so be sure to rinse well. The 'feel' of the castile soap has taken a little getting used to for me, as it's not quite the same as other soaps, but it doesn't bother me now, and I love knowing that I can make my own face wash with easy and natural ingredients! As an added bonus, my breakout problems have gotten SO much better.


* I just used an empty foaming soap dispenser we had from one of our hand soaps, but if you don't have an empty one lying around I'm sure you can get them online.

** These are the wholesale prices for the oils. I became a wholesale member by signing up and purchasing a Starter Kit. Now I can order the oils at 24% off retail and there's no pressure to sell. If you would like more info I'd be happy to point you in the right direction.

I bought the castile soap here and the Jojoba oil at Trader Joe's.

Monday, July 21, 2014

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business shots + weekend happenings

Oh man, I have completely sunk into summer mode and I don't know if I'll ever make it out. Beautiful sunny days, no schedule, lounging on porches and swimming in pools… I have loved taking Fridays off this summer, but that only makes it harder for me to snap back to reality when Monday hits. :)

Anyway, we had a great long weekend. I got to try out my new lens by taking some business portraits for my brother. We gallivanted around the city and then he made us a scrumptious "brinner", aka, breakfast for dinner :)

We hung out at the farm, ate meals with friends, scoped out some locations for an upcoming photo session, and worked on some new obedience skills with Chloe. My very old phone finally bit the dust, unfortunately (I was hoping to squeeze some more time out of it), and so now I can only call the last person who called me. So, in the case of an emergency, my long-time high school friend who lives several miles away will be getting my distress call. Ha! :)

Anyway, I hope to pop back in this week with some more essential oil DIY products that I've been making and loving. Stay tuned!

Happy Monday! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Here it is, here it is! Now I need to place a disclaimer that it is definitely not done. This is in-progress and we still have some work to do, but Andy did such an awesome job on these floating shelves that I wanted to share.

This one wall in our living room has been black since we painted a few months ago, but for the longest time it was just a bare blank wall with our old tv hanging on it. Andy's been saving up for a while to upgrade our tv, so we knew once that happened we wanted to build custom shelves to go around it. There are days when I really miss having a full-wall entertainment unit on this wall. It grounded the room so much, but unfortunately that meant no seating on that side of the room. For us, having seating over here was important (so that guests don't have to line up in a row on our couch, haha!), but I still wanted to create that full-wall look above the chairs. 

Our next step is some lighting that will hang above the tv and balance that gap we have going on between the top of our tv and the top of the wall. (In the morning the sun shines so beautifully and lights up the whole room, but at night this side is very dark.) I also need to figure out what I want to put on the shelves, but for now I love just looking at this wall when I'm on the couch and feeling so much better about it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

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seven years + park exploring

Today marks seven years being married to my favorite tall redhead! That just boggles my mind. I still remember our wedding day, or at least several moments of it, like it happened yesterday. I remember the frozen coffee my matron of honor Katie bought me to keep me occupied while I got my hair done. I remember getting dressed in my parent's master bathroom and my mom helping me with all the layers of my dress. I remember forgetting to eat but my dad had remembered my favorite meal of chicken fingers and had them ready for me to eat in between pictures with my bridesmaids. I remember seeing Andy for the first time, grinning from ear to ear that we had finally made it to the alter, bursting into tears in a complete emotional release as we recessed down the aisle, and looking around the tent with all our favorite people and feeling so loved. I am so glad I get to live this life with Andy. We have our moments of course (as all couples do), but he makes me laugh several times a day and knows me so well that tonight when I wandered into the kitchen and started to grab a spoon out of the drawer, he reached into the cabinet and plopped the jar of peanut butter in front of me. Ha! I am so thankful for him.

I had the day off on Friday, so Andy planned a surprise picnic to a local park we had never been to. He put so much thought into it, and even pointed out that there were several places that he thought would be great for picture-taking. Love him :)

We ate our lunch in front of the fountain underneath a big shady tree and talked about where we thought we might be in another seven years. I always love that game. And of course life is so adventurous that usually our vision ends up a bit different by the time we get there, but it's still fun to speculate. We also witnessed a couple that we could only guess through their interaction that they were on a first date. It was going so bad! Haha! I probably should not laugh, but watching her body language and listening to him talk non-stop was just really funny. We got a kick out of that, and for some reason it made marriage seem so wonderful. I'm glad I'm not dealing with awkward first dates anymore ;)

Andy has become very interested in trees as of late. I think it's due to all the time we spend on the farm. We walked through an arboretum to look up (and hug) several different varieties. We also stopped into their conservatory and literally thought we might die of suffocation. It was such a hot day, and the conservatory was inside a humid glass greenhouse. We walked the whole thing in under ten minutes, but I grabbed a few pictures of some of the things that caught my eye.

It was such a fun afternoon. We really should pack a picnic lunch more often and go visit different parks while the weather is so beautiful. Also, we thought we were so snazzy with a cooler that plugs into the car and either heats or cools your food. Well, I accidentally turned it to the heat setting instead of the cool, and literally roasted the remainder of our picnic. We didn't realize it until we got home, so unfortunately we had a cheese casualty, but other than that the rest of our leftovers were salvageable. I suppose I shouldn't be in charge of the cooler on our next adventure. :)

Happy Monday! I hope you all have a wonderful start to your week!


Friday, July 11, 2014

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Carey is one of my best buddies. We met when I started my job right out of college because we worked right down the hall from each other.

We laugh at this now, but we both weren't quite so sure about the other person when we first met. We made judgments based on the little information we knew and so our friendship stayed at surface level for a while.

Now I don't know what I'd do without her. Carey is one of the most kind, giving, intuitive people I know. She gives amazing advice. She has this ability to look at the big picture in a situation and guide you in a way that is so wise.

The day she told me she had found another job I was ecstatic for her, but I secretly wanted to burst into tears. She had a chance to grow and use her talent and skills in a place that needs them, but I was losing my buddy down the hall. My refuge when I was having a hard day. My creative partner... the one who could walk into my office to shoot the breeze and before we knew it we had come up with an amazing idea together.

I wasn't sure what would happen to our friendship after she moved to her new job. We weren't far away, but these changes can often alter the the terrain of a relationship.

I'm happy to say we've remained friends. In fact, we both agree that our friendship is even better now that we don't work down the hall from each other. We can go deeper and our conversations rarely revolve around our jobs. Now it's about life, how we're being challenged, how we're growing, and our greatest triumphs.

I hope with all my heart that these pictures do Carey's beauty and genuine heart justice. It's such an honor to be trusted to photograph your best friends, but it's also a huge responsibility. I want the people who see these photos to see what I see in her.

Thank you for this tremendous privilege Carey! You are such an inspiration to me. I treasure our friendship, and I hope it remains just as beautiful, funny, and quirky as it is now for a very long time.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

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sawdust & shelf building

Hooray hooray! My favorite tall redhead has been hard at work making some shelving for our black tv wall. I'm beginning to think I may have a tiny obsession with shelves, but the more I think about it, I don't believe you can have too many, can you?

Anyway, there is all kinds of sawdust flying around over here and a simultaneous testing of stain colors. I feel progress coming on! Right now there is a pile of wood waiting for my attention, so I better get to it!

Happy Tuesday :)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

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Oh how I love this girl. It dawned on me that I've known Ellie for over eleven years, and I've been an official aunt for almost seven. ;) I remember the toddler years of pigtails and tickle fights, the elementary years of sleepovers with cheese puffs and pickles, and now she's turning into a gorgeous high schooler. (How does that happen?!)

I'm not really that great with words in person. I'm either really awkward, or really emotional. Anyone who knows me knows I can't have a heart-to-heart moment without losing it, but it's my prayer that Ellie knows how deeply she is loved. I wanted to tell her through my camera how beautiful I think she is.

I mean, this girl rocks pink hair like nobody's business. I remember a time not too long ago (ok, maybe 7 years ago), when the teen-sleeping-in years hadn't hit yet and Ellie and I were up at a crazy hour of the morning after a sleepover at our house. She wanted to know what all the things in my makeup bag were, and she watched as I attempted to put mascara on before I'd even had my coffee or had a rational thought...

... now she could easily school me in eyeliner application and mascara usage. Heck, I should have her do my makeup next time she's over.

The teen years can be tough. I remember them well when I went through them. Actually, I'd prefer not to remember some things. They're when you're figuring out who you are, defining so many aspects of yourself and making friendships that could last a lifetime. You go through stuff. You falter and catch your balance again, and sometimes it just feels like a murky lake of uncertainty.

I can't believe what a privilege it is to be an aunt. Sometimes I don't even know what to do with myself, but it's my nieces and nephews who make me excited to be a mom one day. I watch them grow and I get so excited to add more cousins into the mix. But Ellie... she made me an aunt. There's a special place in my heart for the oldest. ;)

So my dear Ellie... pave the roads ahead of you with courage and gumption. You've got it in you already, I can see it.

Use your creativity and guts... you know, your ability to have wicked awesome pink hair... and make this world a better place.

Take that adventurous spirit... the one that laughed and then led the way today across a rolling, rocky creek... and grab your dreams by the horns.

And we'll all be here forever and always, cheering you on and finding the beauty in the amazing person you are becoming.


Aunt Kristen


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