Aaron & Kaitlyn

A few months ago we planned this weekend by the water with Aaron & Kaitlyn in our new home. We didn’t know their relationship had some history by the water, or that we’d get some pretty romantic rain both days they were here. We did know it would be time well spent getting cozy with these two, and we were right about that! 

It’s good to have someone to cuddle always, but especially when it’s chilly and drizzly outside.2017-01-25_0003.jpg

Riley calls this the “nosey nosey” and it always brings smiles. We love it, especially silhouetted by the water.

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Find someone who makes you laugh. These two have that down, no question.

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They don’t just laugh together…look at those lovey eyes! If you can find someone who looks at you like this, you’ve got it made. :)

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I think they like each other a lil bit. ;) 

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A little playfulness in the rain is good for the soul. Thank you guys for being such good sports and playing goofy games in the rains!

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This is a favorite! Such happiness right here!

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Aaron & Kaitlyn sittin’ in a tree…K-I-S-S-I-N-G

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There might not be any dry eyes at this wedding, you guys. These two are great at bringing the silliness out, but man do they know how to bring the love too.

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See that shot up there? I can feel the love you guys - I can feel it!

Also, thanks guys, for helping us test out the new swing. It needs a few adjustments to be completely stable and smooth, but don’t we all? Also Kaitlyn - your hair. Oh my gosh. As a fellow curly/wavy gal, you have to tell me what you put on those gorgeous locks, since I kept forgetting to ask you this weekend. It’s beautiful even after the rain!

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Since we were hanging out for the weekend it was easy for me (in my jammies still) to say, “Oh hey guys, want to get a few more shots before you leave today?” Thanks for indulging me and letting me explore the light in this new place. It’s pretty kickass, especially with some pretty people snuggling in there. :)

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I kept referencing “the grandma shot” as we went along, because most people who have seen our work know that I either like a deep gaze into the camera close-up, or completely candid real-life shots. But there’s always at least one family member (usually a mom or grandmother) who requests the classic both-people-looking-at-the-camera-smiling shot. We like to get at least a couple of those too, so in your older years you can look back and say, “Hey, that’s what we looked like way back when, whenever we posed for a shot.” So we got a few of those on the stairs…

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And then Jordan snapped this loveliness that’s anything but a grandma shot. It’s very nearly my favorite image from the day. In between the silliness and the awkward feeling of having a camera in your face for way longer than normal, one of us freezes a moment that can say so many things. In this one shot, their whole time in front of our camera flashes in my head, in time-lapse format. It’s always an unexpected shot that does this for me, and this time this is it. Also, it’s just damn sexy, right? 

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A little bit of love in the tower before we head back in and everyone changes back into comfy rainy-day clothes before heading home.

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Til next time, you two. Let’s make more time for hanging out, mkay? :)

Love & hugs,

~jam

PS - I almost forgot, I grabbed some silly outtake shots of us shooting for you guys. Because we had a hilarious fun time, see? Happiness, shared. :)

 That boy’s got some height on that jump! Thanks for interrupting my shot, love. hehe

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Shooting on a ladder that Jordan lugged out to the dock because I was too nervous to get on his shoulders. And then the usual creeper status on the stairs. I love that creeper!

I always ask if Ri wants to grab a shot if he’s around, since he loves looking through the viewfinder, releasing that shutter, then reviewing what he captured. It’s the sweetest thing. I gave him a little boost this time, since he’s otherwise shooting up people’s noses. He definitely brings out smiles for us! :) 

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Snickerdoodles & Chocolate Chip Cookies

This year our holiday baking is a little different than our past years. Mostly because I’ve been gluten & dairy-free for much of the year so I thought I’d be limited in the “sugary things” category of stuff I’d be able to make and enjoy with fam & friends. Not so, you guys, not so. I’ve done a lot of research and decided to try a chocolate chip cookie recipe a few months ago that I found via Pinterest. Not a “Pinterest fail,” it was such a great success that I haven’t yet tried another recipe! Then this month I found a recipe for snickerdoodle cookies and it went pretty much the same.

We’ve made these (so, so very many of these) for our peoples, and they all unanimously agree on the deliciousness (especially the chocolate chip guys). Here are my versions of these recipes, with tips on how to enjoy them best! 

Note: These are both gluten & dairy-free, but do contain coconut oil, and nut flours (almond & coconut), and egg. The cookie unicorn would be to find a recipe without the nuts, I know. I’ll keep looking. ;) 

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Snickerdoodles (see photo above - they’re on the left!)

I found this recipe from the Tone It Up girls, and they have a few others that I haven’t tried yet. I’ve been too distracted by this one. Check the tips after the recipe for texture notes!

Equipment:

  • 2 mixing bowls (this isn’t a huge recipe, so I used a medium and a small)
  • hand or countertop mixer
  • cookie scoop (handy but not necessary - it helps you get to the eating part much faster!)
*This recipe makes about 20-25 regular-sized cookies*

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons coconut sugar (7 if you like them slightly sweeter with crispier edges, I accidentally discovered)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (I use what I have, which is light brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 2 cups almond flour (I love Bob’s Red Mill brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (more doesn’t hurt!)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • coconut oil spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mix coconut sugar (6-7 tbsp), brown sugar (1/3 c), and coconut oil (1/4 c) in one bowl.
  3. Stir in vanilla (1/2 tsp) and egg whites (1/4 c).
  4. In a second bowl, combine almond flour (2 c), baking powder (1/2 tsp), cinnamon (1/4 tsp), and salt (1/8 tsp).
  5. A little at a time, add flour mixture to sugar mixture until well-combined.
  6. Shape dough into balls (I use a cookie scoop that’s about 1 tbsp size) and place on a cookie sheet coated with coconut oil. Flatten just a smidge with fingers or the back of a spoon (a quick spray of coconut oil on the spoon helps).
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges look done.

Tips: I love these so much because of the options for chewy or crispy cookies! It’s hard to find cookies without gluten or dairy that are a good texture. I’ve had my share of mealy/pasty/icky-textured cookies, no thank you very much. These will be chewy when they first come out, then crisp up as they begin to cool. When stored though, they go back to chewy. My favorite thing is to pop a few leftovers in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes and let them cool a bit. Then they’re perfectly crisp on the edges and chewy inside! Oh, and they have never lasted more than three days but were still tasty after that long when stored covered. 

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above: the first bite, before and after

Chocolate Chip Cookies

You guys, we’ve had everyone rave about these. They are some of the best cookies I’ve had ever, gluten-free or not! They are not originally my creation, but I’m sharing my version of a recipe that I’m so glad I found on Texanerin’s blog. Check out her original for more ingredient options, and see below for my opinion of the best combination. :)

Do note - this recipe requires refrigerating the dough for at least one hour, preferably overnight. I usually make the dough the night before I want to bake the cookies, then grab the bowl from the fridge whenever I’m ready to bake. I hear the dough (and final cookie) freezes well, but haven’t yet tried doing so myself!

Equipment:

  • 2 mixing bowls - one large, one medium
  • hand mixer
  • cookie scoop 
  • parchment paper

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter (I use Earth Balance since I’m dairy-free. I’ve tried coconut oil but prefer the taste with EB)
  • 6 tablespoons almond butter (no oil or sugar added - check those ingredients or you’ll have super greasy cookies)
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (or more) chocolate chips (I highly recommend Enjoy Life’s semi-sweet mega chunks. They take these cookies to the next level as they’re huge, super tasty, and they’re allergy-friendly.)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix almond flour (1 c), coconut flour (1/4 c), baking soda (1 tsp) and salt (1/4 tsp)
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter (6 tbsp) and sugar (3/4 c) until well-combined. (Really, really well-combined!)
  3. Beat in almond butter (6 tbsp) and vanilla (1 1/2 tsp) on medium until well-combined. Beat in egg (1) on low.
  4. Stir in flour mixture (I beat this too, because Riley is usually helping and he likes to use the hand mixer - I just don’t let him over-mix.)
  5. Refrigerate dough for at least one hour (overnight is best).
  6. Heat oven to 350°
  7. Spoon dough into 1-2 inch balls and place on parchment paper. (Again I recommend a cookie scoop, though with the mega chunks getting caught in there I’ve bent mine this busy baking season. Still worth it for the ease of scooping and making same-sized cookies, especially since my handy hubby bends it back into place for me.)
  8. If you can’t see chocolate chunks sticking out of the tops, place some more in there. Go on and porcupine that thing with some chocolate. If someone complains about you putting too many chocolate chips in your cookies, well that’s grounds for unfriending right there, friends.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes or until edges look firm and the tops don’t look as wet. As with most cookies, I love taking these out when they’re still slightly gooey in the middle and let them cook on the tray for a bit outside of the oven. 
Heating tip: Just like with the snickerdoodles, I re-heat these in the toaster oven. I’m a picky re-heater, so even if I had no toaster oven I’d turn on the entire oven just to heat a few leftover cookies. It makes them that much better. In fact the above photo with the melty chocolate is a leftover cookie that was re-heated for about a minute. Just barely toasty on the edges and oh-so-gooey inside. Do it. It’s worth the extra work to get a perfect texture, if you care about such things. Priorities, man. As little as I get to eat cookies these days, good texture is a high priority of mine.

2016-12-23_0002.jpgAn optional final step for either of these recipes is handing over the beaters or cookie scoop to be licked clean. Yes I’m aware there is egg - I know. I’m not going to tell anyone else to, but we do it at our house. Life is short y’all. Lick the beaters. And have some happy holidays with some tasty cookies.

Hugs,

~m.

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Three Years of Light

On our back porch in the morning, there’s this magical light that streams through the trees on a sunny day. It highlights everything out there in a way that makes me feel like I’m watching a highlight reel of my life from the future. It brings me so close to happy crying and actually warms my heart and leaves an ache in my chest that’s probably just me choking back tears and light sobs that are trying to escape, and I want to say that it’s literally heart-warming but I’ve given Jordan shit for saying literally so often that our kid is saying it now too. So I won’t say that. But, it definitely is figuratively heart-warming. So much so that I can’t even get my camera to capture it like I see it in real life. Cue Jim & Pam’s mental picture-taking from their wedding day, if you’re a fan of the Office. But it makes me feel like this:

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Wherever you are in life, I hope something gives you this feeling. Whatever troubles you’re feeling, whatever struggles you have, I truly hope there’s something that gives you that light-but-heavy choked-up feeling of happiness. Even if it’s just for a few seconds of your day. Find that light. It’s there somewhere, I promise. And if it isn’t showing itself right now, please know that it will come.

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So much has changed in our lives since Riley was born three years ago. I sometimes feel like I could be a blogger, but in truth I can’t organize all of the thoughts I have here adequately, so I’m sure I’ll just keep posting these random updates and talking about how I want to dive into them further one day. Just for today though, here are a few recent photos of our newly-turned three-year-old. I hope they bring you at least a flicker of the light that I felt while taking them.

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We’ve spent so much time this summer in and around the water. Our house in Wilmington is almost finished, about a year after building started. Perfection takes time, y’all. Just look at this perfect smiling child that took me almost as many months to grow.

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Tickling and chasing and hiding - these are the things that bring out the biggest giggles from this kid. Cheers to many more movies in the new house with Little Bunny. This movie-watching night was pretty memorable even without a comfy sofa to cuddle on.

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We started a countdown to his birthday on the first of August this year, and let him cut off a link every day until his birthday on the 12th. He took this job very seriously, obviously.

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We found a new friend in the Target clearance section this summer. He’s a velociraptor, and Riley decided his name is Vivey and he only eats plants. We nicknamed him Veggie Rap. Oh, and these two built a cardboard house in the driveway. It required power tools, of course. It took less time to build than our beach house, so I think Riley might be teaching our builders a thing or two. ;) 

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He’s always loved reading, but he’s really investigating stories and reading them aloud to himself more these days.

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Bunny & Daddy Bear fam. It’s the best way to sleep.

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This is what happens when you cook bacon without turning on the fan, and your husband is out of the house and doesn’t answer the call from your alarm company. Let’s just pretend this was a planned visit so that Riley could compare his fire truck to a real one, okay?

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This is what my memories look like most of the time.

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One of the best iPhone shots I’ve ever taken:

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He loves so hard, you guys. It’s the best.

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This grin kills me, and is 100% him at three. Sly, sweet, and silly. His first day back to school this week was so awesome that he didn’t want to come home with us after it was over. I know how healthy that is, so I’m not mad about it one bit.

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That’s all for today, loves. I wish you so much happy.

~m.