Miss Amelia’s First Year in Photos

Amelia's First Year in Photos, Sam Allen Creates

I’ve never had the chance to document the “every 3 months” photos before… getting the opportunity to capture little Mia from behind my camera is just pure joy. While editing all her birthday photos, posted yesterday, I just kept getting so  emotional—and so thankful! Not only do we have every 3 month moments, we had so many more in between. I am so blessed to get to do what I do. To watch these little ones grow from behind my camera… seeing their little sleepy smiles grow to goofy toothy grins. Oh I just love them all.

Miss Mia, I can not even describe how much love I have for you. From being there on the day you were born, meeting you just minutes after you came into this world… to just a couple weeks ago when you walked right into my arms with that giant dimple toothy grin. Oh my heart wants to burst.

How much can my heart grow with love for you. From the day you were born, I’ve loved every moment I have ever gotten to spend with you.

xoxo Auntie Sam, aka your personal paparazzi photographer

Sam and Amelia at Disneyland May 2014

To see Amelia’s life through my lens:

Missing the Best of Friends and the Littlest of Friends

I just got back last night from a week long trip to upstate New York.

Whenever I tell people I’m going to New York they get really excited and recommend places in Manhattan to visit… but “my” New York isn’t in the city… you see a little piece of my heart moved back to upstate New York almost 6 years ago.

Looking back though, when I met my friend Joyce, almost 10 years ago, I had no idea what kind of monumental friendship, a best of friendship, we were about to embark on. Joyce is someone who matched me in uninhibited enthusiasm for the smallest things in life. Someone who understood me far better than most. And knowing she called New York her home, I pushed her away trying to break the friendship before it could really form. But God had other plans. While Joyce was back home in New York going to college, we grew ever closer by weekly phone calls and when she finally came back to California, our best of friends-ship truly began. But you see, Joyce is easy to get along with and she truly is adored by all who meet her. Her joyful attitude is just that contagious.

Flash forward a few years, a few moves, a few weddings… to the here and now… to where just 3 weeks ago she blessed us all further more by giving birth to little Emily Ann.

I had the pleasure to go up to this farm laden country side, where we spent this past week cuddling with the new babe on the couch and driving around town eating more ice cream I’ve had all year put together!

I had the best intentions to get a lot of creative brainstorming done while I was there, I even bought a brand new sketchbook for the trip and everything! And I had all these dreamy magical newborn photo ideas in my head… but instead it was nice to just *be.* I never once used my sketchbook, some days I didn’t even take a single photo! We just talked, and talked, and talked and just really cherished each moment with little Emily.

All that to say, I’m still a little heartbroken to be home, still a little jet-lagged—oh these darn headaches of mine—and still a little behind in life right now so even though I had big plans to post a ton of photos from my trip this week, I am just going to end this little introduction and follow up with more photos from my trip later on.

But of course, I have to post some sort of photo so let’s end with the last group photo from the trip… me and my bestie with her new little love.

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Starting an Etsy Shop: Some Humble Words of Advice

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I am not an Etsy expert, but I wanted to share a few thoughts that I have come to realize over this past year. And I am sure if you went in to creating a shop after doing some market research, a lot of this would be already known to you. But I just jumped into running my shop, feet first with a blindfold on… just wanting to see what would happen.

Since I’m just coming out of a booming few weeks for my little shop… i.e. doubled my total sales in less than 2 months (!!!)… I’ve been reflecting back on times of struggle and lack of movement in the shop. Just a few weeks ago, I was feeling bummed that my sales were down and then boom, now I’m struggling to keep up! It’s only just now calming down and going back to normal. I’ve definitely noticed that there seem to be cycles in the Etsy world, especially when a lot of your clients are brides. But I hope the following random bits of wisdom can help in any Etsy business, whether wedding related or not.

Custom Requests

When you’re first starting out, just say yes. Yes to custom requests that is. They may be a little more work for you in the beginning but I can vividly remember a few custom requests that came in that drastically changed my business. The first one was last November when a woman wrote me saying that she liked my address stamps but just wanted their first names written out with a typed out last name. So basically an address stamp with no address. Well that sounds easy, I can do that no problem I told her. Without realizing it, by saying yes to her and then posting this new product in my shop, I’ve now sold over 25 of them. But I had no idea that was even a need to fill, until I was asked to fill it.

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What Do You Want?

List things that you wish were out there. Here’s another product that I had no idea was already out there. I wanted to hand write my own wedding vows so I thought, hey, maybe other people do too! 33 sales later, with three options to choose from, I can say that my shop is definitely leaning in this direction over the sale of shower invitations that I had first listed, and started out my shop with.

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Variety of Products

List a variety of items… It took me a month to get my first sale  and that was for a invitation printable. But it took my listing the original address rubber stamp for me to get more frequent orders. After being open for over 6 months, I had just barely reached 50 sales. Of course, that was still a major accomplishment for me! And then sales really started to pick up even more after listing the handwritten wedding vows printables. Now, a little over a year later, I have over 70 items with an average of 50 sold items a month! And a variety of all is bought on a daily basis, there is no “one shining star” but a few in each category… to me, this just says that if I stuck with just printables, or just stamps, I would not have the same quantity sold (However, the downfall of that is less time to perfect the existing items).

What if you only have one item to sell? Can you make more of a variety, or add items that are somewhat related? For example, I started with address stamps and then moved into “thank you” stamps, then just plain name stamps, because that’s what people were writing and asking me for. It just kept growing, all stemmed from just that one item.

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Watch Your Competitors’ Products and Images

I also click through when someone “favorites” one of my items and see what else they are “favoriting.” Doing that, allowed me to see what else people are shopping for and who my direct competition is. This led me from just selling a stock Thank You! stamp and adding personalization options… all because I saw that the people liking my stamps also liked a personalized stamp which I wasn’t offering at the time.

And then while looking at your competitors shops, notice how they feature their images. For some time, I primarily just showed a photo of the stamp itself. While the stamps are beautiful, wood engraved with the design, I began to notice that for the most part, all other shops just showed the stamp design/impression… not the stamp itself. That led me to start taking a bit more time styling images with envelopes and tags, showing the variety of uses for the stamps. Then using that photo as the main image, but the thumbnail shows a slightly cropped in view of just the design. Best of both worlds, right?

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When It’s Slow… Don’t Panic

Chances are, your shop will have a boom, then slow down, then increase in sales again… over and over again… when it’s slow, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and use that time to better your shop. Add photos of projects and finished pieces to the listings, and improve your listing descriptions. Go back and check those other favorited listsings I mentioned before, see how they’ve worded things and see what else they have for sale. Brainstorm new products you can offer. Or just enjoy a break, kick back and relax!

Wow… guess I’ve learned a lot, didn’t realize I would have so much to say in this post!

Again, I am not an Etsy expert by any means… my measly 300+ sales are nothing in comparison to other shops, but each sale I am definitely proud of as there is a ton of shops like mine out there to choose from! Most of these are just good practice, and may not lead to a growth in sale, so take my words with a grain of salt, and know what works for me may not work for you. But by trial and error, keep what works, and move on from what doesn’t!

I’d love to connect with you! Do you own an Etsy shop or thinking about opening one? Leave a comment below!

Another Year of Babies, Brides, and BBQ (November & December)

Good morning 2014! And with the close of 2013, here is my last Babies, Brides, and BBQ post! It’s been a fun 2 years documenting all my new little loves that have been born, following the love of brides to be’s, and of course the craziness that is this BBQ world we have found ourselves deep within. Hope you’re enjoying this first day of this brand new year!

Babies!

My little baby section is just growing and growing and growing!!

Jameson

In celebration of this little guy turning 2 yesterday, we went out for some frozen yogurt just like we did 2 years ago the night before Courtney went into labor. This little guy has the sweetest voice, and is so incredibly smart from knowing his letters to his shapes, even including the crescent moon. 🙂 Thank you Mama Coco and Little Jmo for a night out of blueberry topped fro-yo and the showing off all your new 2 year old tricks!

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Owen

Well this darling boy now says “Andy” and “Sam” among many more words in his ever widening vocabulary. And he still has us wrapped around his slightly less chubby fingers as well… and surprisngly Andy is even more wrapped than I am! They are just the cutest little pals! Andy and I have been cracking up over Owen’s new “cheeeeese” face! So I just thought I’d share it with you all here! It’s too funny how distorted kids faces get when they say “cheese!”

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Grayson

Oh this little boy… I do not get to see this little little guy often enough but I happily watch him daily through his mama’s eyes, whether its through Instagram or her blog. Thankfully I got to spend a few precious moments with him in these last couple months at Girls Night and seeing the Mission Inn lights.

P.S. You can tell more in the right side photo that I am definitely forcing him to pose for a picture with his Auntie Sammi… but I don’t even care. 🙂

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Parker

I can not even tell you how happy I am that this family bought Disneyland passes in November. It only took one night of constantly bugging Shane to convince them that it was definitely the right decision! 🙂 I see quite a few more visits in the near future too. This is one tired Parker after their very full day at the Happiest Place on Earth.

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Chara

Next week I’m posting more of the adorable Rice family, but for today let me introduce to you all, Miss Chara. She’s an adorable little munchkin who was fighting a cold that day with her sweet smiles. I can’t wait to share more photos next week, it was such a perfect day for Christmas photos.

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Amelia

Disneyland is “one of my favorite things” without a doubt, but going with sweet little babes and kiddos multiples that joy by infinity. Since Amelia’s mama is my Disneyland buddy, I was just that much more excited to finally go with her… here’s a photo from our first ride together: It’s A Small World. I was just a *little* excited. 🙂

But of course since Miss Mia was a little entranced by the wonders of It’s A Small World, you must check out her 6 month photos I posted last week. She is just all smiles and giggles.

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Molly

Little Miss Molly is just one of the happiest little babes I’ve ever met… but of course my photos today are of sleeping Molly. I must apologize on her behalf, because her smile just lights up her whole face… and I must encourage you to check out her beyond adorable 3 months photos her Auntie Jess took a few weeks ago. Go look, you know you want to. 🙂

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Brides

Amie

Well this Bride had her wedding last month… After almost a full year of planning, crafting, and celebrating the day came and went! If you want to see more gorgeous photos of this beautiful bride and the amazingness that was that day, click here for the full wedding post.

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BBQ

I have been such a slacker when it comes to all these recent BBQ competitions… in fact, I only made it to this past weekend’s competition and only for awards, and only on the first day. Bad BBQ wife right here… 🙁

But even without me there, the boys have been doing amazing!

Last month they were invited to compete at the World Food Championship where they were placed among the top 10 in BBQ which allowed them to go forward in the semi finals. So keep and eye and ear out for the A&E special on the WFC, which will have one entire episode devoted to the BBQ portion of the event. Andy wrote more about his time there, here.

Aaaaand, they took part in a commercial for a major American corporation that we are hoping will air during the Super Bowl… I’m not totally sure on all the legalities of that so I will post more when I can. 🙂

And one last note, in case you are reading this solely because you found this post because of the BBQ section, and you want to learn more about the art of barbequing, you can email pro@greenmountaingrills.com and my hubby will come to your aid, offering as much help as you may need!

With all their success this past year, I am really excited to see what’s to come in this new year!

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Follow past and upcoming Babies, Brides and BBQ here!

How to Get Started When You Just Don’t Feel Like It

I’m notorious in only wanting to work when I feel like it… when I’m inspired… when I feel that urge to just make.

But what happens when you don’t have that feeling?

For me, I just lay on the couch and watch Netflix. My husband can attest to the countless TV series I have watched from beginning to end because of this.

Over this past weekend, I caught a cold. Nothing too bad, but I acted like a big baby and curled up on the couch with a box of tissues and covered up in blankets. Which would be no big deal if I didn’t have deadlines to meet.

Come Monday, I still didn’t want to get up. Get going. Get making and creating.

But I did.

I got up. Sat down at the computer, not knowing how I was going to get from A to Z.

But just by simply getting up, I got things done. A LOT of things done. I’m pretty proud of what was accomplished this week considering I started out with not one strike of inspiration. But since I got going, I can’t stop. My mind has been constantly whirring with new ideas for work and for my Etsy shop. And slowly, I have been updating things around this blog too.

So my words of wisdom for today… they’re simple words and a simple act but hard to do…

Get up and get going.

Another Year of Babies, Brides, and BBQ (September & October)

I can’t believe this crazy year is coming to a close! With this update, a brand new friend was born (Baby Molly, another girl thankfully!!) and with the next update I will be posting about the Pankratz wedding day, with a photo of my best friend in that glorious wedding dress of hers! I can’t believe the big day is almost here, like literally its just 3 days away! And then its Thanksgiving and then Christmas and New Years and hello 2014!

Babies!

My little baby section is just growing and growing and growing!!

Owen (and Eli)

I seriously can’t say it enough, I love having this adorable family as nearby neighbors! Getting the chance to see these boys growing up on the week to week basis is such a huge blessing for both Andy and myself. They even stopped by on the morning of my birthday with a card, cupcake and a balloon. Along with Owen giving me a hand picked flower and Eli giving me a drawing he made. My heart is full, that’s for sure.

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Okay I just have to share one more photo of Owen, and his whole family all dressed up in their Halloween costumes, from this past weekend… how stinking cute are they?! When Jamie first sent us a photo of Owen’s Halloween costume, we all “ooo’d” and “awww’d” over how cute he was going to be, and he did not disappoint. 🙂

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Parker

I rarely get to see this little rolly polly, Parker… but I was so excited to spend the afternoon with him and his family a couple weeks ago. And got to snap this photo of him in honor of his 6 month birthday. Can’t believe he’s already half way to 1, doesn’t seem like he was born that long! Time flies!!

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Amelia

I am quite thankful Rachel has made it a point for me to see Amelia every few weeks, she will drive out just to sit with me as I work at home, catching me up on life. I love it… and then just this past week (the day after I posted her 3 month photos) she came by and we made up a “bed in the woods” photo shoot, just for fun. Here’s just a sneak peek, but oh. my. goodness…. I love so many of them. I can’t wait to post more in a few weeks!

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Molly

Molly is here!!! She has made her sweet precious arrival into this world, blessing her mommy and daddy beyond belief!! I got to be there with friends and family waiting… and waiting for her Tuesday night, but just after we left for the night, Trisha delivered at 2:55 a.m., Wednesday, September 18.

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I have gotten to have a few cuddle sessions with the little miss… but this photo is from that first day, at just about 8 hours old. 🙂

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Brides

Amie

I can definitely say that the months of September and October were full of nonstop wedding activities (hence the shortage on the quantity of baby photos above) from crafting days, to engagement photo sessions and of course, the bachelorette party! There were so many fun events to choose from but I have to share a favorite from their engagement session with me…. because its just so sweet. This day marked a turning point in the wedding planning as from that day forward, with just over a month to go, its been full time wedding crafting/scheming around this house. I left their place after our session with a long list of duties… and I must say I am kinda sad its almost here. It’s just been so much fun! It really has! But in just a few days (!!!) time, my best friend will be the Mrs. to her Mr. and that is just going to be the first page in a whole new chapter of our lives and that I must say is something I am most looking forward to!

P.S. The rest of their engagement session will be posted next week… and I must say it was extremely hard to narrow down which photos to post!

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Caitlin

For Cait’s wedding, I “coordinated” the wedding ceremony, which was a first for me—and we definitely we were just winging it! It was funny how many people asked if that was my new job and when finding out that was my first attempt at it, they then asked if I would do it again. And I totally would, even if it was just for friends and for the sake of seeing this moment… the moment before the miss became the Mrs., the moment where the bride takes that last deep breath holding onto her daddy’s arm, before she says “I do.”

She was just gorgeous and the wedding itself was beautiful!  You can see a photo I snapped during the ceremony here…

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BBQ

The boys have been doing so SO GOOD at their competitions. It’s pretty amazing to witness their triumphs at each and every comp. Over Labor Day weekend, they placed 4th among some of the top teams in the nation—over most of the guys on the BBQ Pitmaster shows. Everyone thought they were going to win 1st and the $10,000 prize for Grand Champion, but with a bad score in brisket, it brought them down to 4th place. Either way, just knowing that they have that ability, is pretty neat! Read more about that comp here.

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And then just one month later, at the Dana Point BBQ competition, out of a California record breaking 101 teams, they placed 4th again! So proud of our boys!

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And last, but not least, Andy’s episode of Supermarket Superstars aired on September 12 on Lifetime! He swears he spoke up quite a bit, but all of his lines were cut! But I still got to see my hubby on TV so it was still exciting!! He’s in the red jersey, #12 in this clip of their focus group.

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Follow past and upcoming Babies, Brides and BBQ here!

Northeast Trip: New York City in 2 1/2 Days, Part 2

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After seeing just how big this New York recap had become I just had to break it into 2 parts!!

For Part 1, click here.

Chelsea Market

The next day, we took full advantage of the NY subway system… for only $2.50 each trip, we sure got around the majority of Manhattan! Starting out at Chelsea Market, where the Food Network is based and the place Andy and my mom were most looking forward to, we had fun stopping in all the random shops and eateries. Feasting on macrons, donuts, a faux-Cronut, salami, coffee, and more! It was a really neat place, the architecture alone was fun to explore. It felt like we were part of a piece of industrial style art the whole time.

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I just loved all the custom chalk work in so many of the shops!

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I just adored this 3D map of the market, made in a variety of materials.

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Katz’s Delicatessen

After eating this and that, we then took the subway over to Katz’ Deli in Midtown to have our official lunch. It was some what out of the way, so unless you would truly appreciate pastrami at its finest and for $16 a sandwich, I’d pass. But for us foodies, we just had to go! It was quite the ordeal though, they have a pretty unique system of ordering and you don’t pay until you are walking out the door.

You may recognize this famous deli as the location for scenes in When Harry Met Sally to Enchanted.

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9/11 Memorial

From there we took the subway further south to the World Trade Center… last time we were there, Ground Zero was just a big hole in the ground, but in the last 8 years they’ve built a memorial, museum, and still under construction new World Trade Center buildings.

When you arrive, you have to check in to the Visitor’s Center to get a [free] admission pass. This sets an appointed time for you to actually get in to the memorial.

The memorial, opened in 2011, is pretty large with two large waterfalls that stand where the original WTC buildings were. The massive size of the waterfalls in the midst of the city are pretty moving espcially as they each drop into a center void… there are also hundreds of trees that really encourage you to stay and reflect.

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Here, Andy and I are standing in front of the Survivor Tree. The pear tree was built in the 7-s and although it was damaged, it survived the terrorist attacks and after it was nursed back to health it was brought back to the site in 2010.

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Washington Square Park and the “Friends” Building

Here is where my Friends was based in New York City fan girl side erupted… we stopped by Washington Square Park—just because its shown sometimes during the show—and then we walked through Greenwich Village—just because that’s where Rachel and Monica’s apartment was based on. And it was seriously worth it. Right, family??

Luckily, we had planned to eat in Greenwich Village so it really wasn’t that far out of the way (until we decided to eat at the same restaurant but at its Times Square location).

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Either way, I can now say I have been to the corner of Bedford and Grove.

Dinner at Jekyll and Hyde, Times Square

We ended our night and our trip in NYC at Jekyll and Hyde, a restaurant recommended by a friend. The Greenwich location was totally dead when we went (it was fairly early at 5 pm)—so that’s why we decided to go to Times Square. Plus my parents had theater tickets to Once.

It was quite the theatrical experience though, the restaurant was huge and there was so much to see. Just one example: the bathroom had a hidden door—no really, it was so hidden that the few times we were by it, people just stared at the wall trying to figure out how that was indeed the bathroom entrance. There was constant live entertainment as well and all throughout the multi storied restaurant—from a Frankenstein like show to the “Rainforest Cafe-like” decorations are coming to life moments.

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Whew, that was a long recap. I didn’t leave anything out just for the traveler who comes across this post hoping for some guidance on their own trip! Another tip I would recommend is to get a paper map of the city, I drew all over mine plotting out where to go and that made this visual learner see what to do on which day. Plus, I would get an iPhone. No seriously, I can’t imagine how we would have gotten around without one! We input where we were and where we wanted to go and it gave us all the subways we needed to get to and from. So amazing and so so helpful! Thanks Apple!

A few places I hope to go to next time would be some of the museums and the NY Public Library. Also, to spend a day in Brooklyn!

The end… of this city. Next up, our day trip to Philadelphia!

P.S. Here’s our video of the trip that I shared in the Boston trip, with the NYC portion starting at about 52 seconds.

Northeast Trip: New York City in 2 1/2 Days, Part 1

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When I think back to our time in New York City, I instantly feel quite overwhelmed! It was a crazy crazy whirlwind of sightseeing and constant moving.

However, now looking back over the photos, I do get an itch to go back. Not only to do the same things we did, but to try a few new things… or to spend more time in those same places.

I really don’t think I took that many photos while in the city, but that’s more because of that overwhelming feeling of go, go go! I mean I took less than 400… which for me is not very many! But I’ve narrowed them down and wanted to share, along with some tips for you, if you happen to take a spin in the Big Apple sometime soon!

We left Boston semi-early, had lunch in New Hampshire, and then arrived at our hotel in late afternoon. Our hotel wasn’t as close to a subway station as previously thought so each day we were there required a hotel shuttle ride for 20+ minutes then the hour ride on the subway into the city.

Times Square and Rockefeller Center

By the time we made it that first night, we just meandered through Times Square as my parents and sister hadn’t yet been there. We walked through the Square, taking it all in; checked out where the GMA’s are filmed—as my parents were going to the next morning’s taping—circled around Rockefeller Center and then walked back to the restaurant we had planned on eating at, John’s Pizzeria—the same place Andy and I dined at 8 years ago!

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I kept my eye out for Liz Lemon!

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While we were on the Top of the Rock later the next day, my hubby found me the best souvenir ever at the NBC store: a giant mug with the Central Perk logo from the show Friends! Photo here.

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John’s Pizzeria is a sit down eatery… a great way to truly experience a New York pizza pie! Plus its in a totally renovated church, just a really cool atmosphere.

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Circle Line Tour

The next day, Andy, my sister and I traveled out to meet my parents—after their spot on the GMA’s with the Bachelorette and her new beau—by the waterfront as we were going to head out on a Circle Line tour. We opted for the longer of the tours, just so we could see Yankee Stadium for my New York loving friend! I would not recommend the longer tour though, as scheduled it’s 2 1/2, and because of a delay with a draw bridge, our tour turned into 3 hours! With such limited time, I wish we would have gone on the 90 minute tour instead.

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However, I would definitely recommend Circle Line in general. As the start to our full days in New York, it really helped seeing New York on the whole, understand where everything is. And with the short amount of time we had, we were at least able to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island closer than we would have just from Battery Park.

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By the end of the trip, I decided that the Chrysler Building was my favorite of the city… funnily enough, it turns out that a NY poster we have at home—purchased years ago—features the building. Guess it was subliminal that it became my favorite over the years!

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Shake Shack and Central Park

After our tour, we took the subway up to Shake Shack. And O-M-G is that place AMAZING. By far one of my favorite eateries—ever! No seriously, Andy thinks that may be the best burger he’s ever had! Thankfully it’s coming to Vegas just next year!! We went to the location just off Central Park west, so after getting our food we took it into the park to enjoy the amazingness.

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With the delay on the tour, that took a big chunk of our time out from spending time in Central Park. And that is definitely a place I could have spent a whole day in! It’s now become my favorite place in the city… but I barely have any photos of it as we had to hustle to make our 6:00 reservation to go up in 30 Rockefeller. Just to narrow it down, I wanted to at least see the big fountain that Enchanted was filmed in front of, so we headed there and then just kept going.

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Central Park truly is so much more beautiful than I ever imagined! After the hustle and bustle of the city, it was refreshing to be amidst huge trees, a large lake, and then random centuries old architecture from bridges and archways to fountains and walkways. I really can’t wait to go back just to visit the Park!

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Top of the Rock

We made it just in time for our reservation at Top of the Rock though! Just barely! Again, this is another spot I would totally recommend… it’s much cheaper than the Empire State Building and the view allows you to actually see the infamous Empire State Building! I loved being able to see both that tower and the new World Trade Centers in the same view. Plus being able to see Central Park and just how huge it really is was nice too. There are 3 view levels of viewpoints… the topmost being totally out in the open—no glass. It was pretty crowded but they do limit how many people can come up so that made it nice too. Surprisingly, my dad and I spent a whole hour up there taking in the view and of course taking pictures!

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I love how you can see just how big Central Park is from up there… the first lake to the left is the one in the photos above.

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One thing I loved about the east coast was the ever changing sky! Just within the hour we were up there, the sky just kept changing! We purposely made our reservation at dusk (6:00)—the photographer’s golden hour—hoping to get daytime and nighttime in one. I would highly recommend making your reservation for 90 minutes before sunset just to guarantee seeing the city during the best hour of the day.

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The building to the right and behind the Empire State Building is 1 World Trade Center, the soon to be tallest building in the Untied States at 1,776 feet. The Empire State Building stands at 1,454 feet, while the Rockefeller building we were on top of is only 872 feet.

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Thanks Dad for braving the heights with me!

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To recap this recap, know where you are going before you set off to go—and plan to spend more time in Central Park just for the sake of how long it takes to walk through even a small portion of it! That truly was my favorite part and I barely got to take any photos from the rush.

Stay tuned for another full day in New York City, posting tomorrow!

P.S. Here’s our video of the trip that I shared in the Boston trip… NYC starts at 52 seconds.

Another Year of Babies, Brides, and BBQ (July & August)

I really thought life couldn’t be crazier than it was last year, but this year has seriously been insane! I am so blessed with the work that I have been doing and get to do, but I am ever so thankful for these babies and being the matron of honor to my best friend bride to be, Amie! Oh and I guess I am thankful for BBQ too. 😉

Babies!

My little baby section is just growing and growing and growing!!

Jameson

Oh how I missed this sweet boy… having not seen him since his first birthday (!!!), he had all sorts of new tricks to show me including knowing how to say Sam. So so sweet!

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Owen

Oh little Owen, this kid just cracks me up! And every time I watch this video I want to laugh and cry at the same time. That laugh is just hysterically contagious!

And then just last week, I was looking after the boys for just a short amount of time and when I set Owen down, he just stood up and starting walking. I was in shock to see him walking around so much without holding on to anything! So proud of their little guy! (for some reason the walking video is only showing up sometimes 🙁 so I’ll just post a cute photo of the two of us to make up for it 🙂 )

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Grayson

I saw little G off and on over the months but each time was just too short of a time… I did manage to snag a few photos of him at our girls dinner a few weeks ago. His mama sure has him trained to pose for the camera… I would say these photos go…

“What do you think you are doing?”
“Oh, a camera! Here let me pose for you like my mommy taught me to”
“Would you like to see my belly button, I know just where it is!”

Or something like that…

And that “What are you doing?” totally reminds me of a face his mom gives me all the time too. 🙂 jk jk

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Evelyn

I know I just shared photos of this little blue eyed babe last week so I don’t have much more to say, but here is another photo of this gorgeous little lady and those giant blue eyes of hers!

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Amelia

I love that Rachel has moved back closer to me! It’s been a joy to watch Amelia grow over these last couple months with visits every couple of weeks. But after having gone about a month with no visit, seeing her for her 3 month photos was quite a shock to the little chunk she has become! Her mother had quite a few affectionate nicknames ranging from her little pot sticker to Buddha belly. 🙂

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Jedidiah

Our newest family member, Jedidiah made his entrance into this world on June 30… (funnily enough Miss Amelia, Jedi, and the next baby Gage were all due within 3 days of each other but all made their appearances over a month’s time). Anyway, we got to meet Jedi just last week while him and his family were down visiting the many beaches of southern California.

He truly is a sweet sweet baby, all smiles. 🙂

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Gage

This little guy… he is such a fighter! He was born with “transposition of the great arteries” and has had quite a few surgeries thus far in his short little life including open heart surgery! I finally got to meet him just two weeks ago and of course fell in love right away! You can see so many more photos of him and learn his story here… and as our pastor’s son, you can hear their testimony here from Pastor Josh’s first Sunday back at church last month.

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Molly

The day after we returned from our trip, we celebrated Miss Molly’s soon to be arrival with a baby shower for her mama. Jess did such a great job on the shower! You can see her post here, and mine here. It’s hard to believe that in my next post in two months, she will be here!! 🙂

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Brides

Amie

I spent the majority of the month of July getting ready for Amie’s bridal shower… which turned out to be exactly what I hoped it to be… it was a [hot] beautiful day showering Amie with love and presents. And since our bestie and my fellow bridesmaid was in from New York we ran as many wedding “errands” as possible in the days after the shower. From picking up our bridesmaid dresses and shoes to assembling the wedding invitations. And of course, Amie’s wedding dress fitting. Can not wait for you to see her in that gorgeous white dress! Pretty much the most beautiful dress I’ve ever did see!

This photo is just the first of many from her bridal shower. It was the first time all 6 bridesmaids were together with our bride, and a very happy moment! I promise to be posting a TON more photos in the coming weeks!

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Kathleen

Welp, Kathleen is now a Mrs! We celebrated at the Riverside Art Museum during the last weekend of July and then spent the night dancing on the rooftop! Okay… we didn’t dance because we had to catch our flight to Maine, but you get the point! She had the most fabulous details that I just adored, especially her cake table! I hope to share their photographer’s photos along with the invitations I helped her design soon! And of course, in mid-July we celebrated with a good old bachelorette party which you can read more about here.

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Caitlin

This gorgeous girl is getting married in just a few short weeks! And her bachelorette party is just next week! It was a short engagement but it still went by so much faster than I imagined! I am so excited for Jarred and Caitlin’s wedding, it is going to be such a good time!

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BBQ

I actually haven’t even been to a BBQ competition since the team competed in Temecula in June. That’s just crazy to think, but it’s been nice 🙂 haha

Anyway, the boys competed have just competed in 3 of their 4 back to back comps… starting in Huntington Beach on August 17 (same day as Amie’s shower!), then they took the 10 hour drive up to Wendover, Nevada and then this past weekend they competed in Mesquite, Nevada (their 4th time competing there—and they did an amazing job!!). I’ll wait to share Mesquite until next time but if you’d like to know more on their past two competitions, click here for Huntington Beach or here for Wendover.

Remember way back, when I mentioned Andy filmed a spot for a television show as a member of a focus group? Well his episode of Supermarket Superstars airs just next week on September 12, at 10:30 p.m. on Lifetime! After finally getting to watch a few episodes, we know his part will be super short, if they even show him at all, but I am definitely looking forward to my husband’s television premiere!

Follow past and upcoming Babies, Brides and BBQ here!

Another Year of Babies, Brides, and BBQ (May & June)

I really thought life couldn’t be crazier than it was last year, but this year has seriously been insane! I am so blessed with the work that I have been doing and get to do, but I am ever so thankful for these babies and being the matron of honor to my best friend bride to be, Amie! Oh and I guess I am thankful for BBQ too. 😉

Babies!

My little baby section is just growing and growing and growing!!

Owen

This is the Chunk as we all affectionately call Owen. He has just been growing and growing, and getting so tall! I love having them as our neighbors, seeing him each week has just been the biggest blessing for Andy and me. And having him “wow us” with walking into our arms on the last day of June, couldn’t get better than that! 🙂

This first photo is from our BBQ pool party we had in May, look at that chunk. Adorable! And then next photo is at Owen’s big brother Eli’s 5th birthday party this past weekend. I love how this photo sums up his personality and the way we think of Owen, belly out and guns blaring all with a smile on his face. 🙂

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Grayson

I can’t believe this little guy turned 1 last month!! It feels like just yesterday that he was born… he has the sweetest little personality, with so much curiosity and sparkle in his eyes. Oh and his little grin… he’s gonna be a heartbreaker! See more from his party in this post from 2 weeks ago.

The second photo is also from Eli’s birthday party, Grayson just loved the water! He’s just such a happy kid!

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Evelyn

Oh this pretty little miss was definitely worth the wait! She was born last October to my dear cousin Katie. And since their little family lives in Colorado, we had yet to meet this happy little lady. I think we all scrambled to get as much cuddle time in as possible during our one afternoon together and I am looking forward to so much more of Evie in Maine later this month even though there I will have to share with twenty other people! I’ll be just as happy snapping as many photos of this pretty little one anyway!

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Parker

At the beginning of May, we took some newborn photos of Parker, and even some with his big brother Hudson. He’s just so darling, and so alert!  See more here.

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Amelia

This blog was busy these past few months showing you another set of Rachel’s maternity photos and the baby shower. While she wasn’t expected to make her arrival until next month, Miss Amelia made her debut a few weeks early on June 8! I am excited to show more photos from her one week photo shoot with her Auntie Sammi.

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Molly

Miss Molly has been growing away, and her mama just glows with excitement for her arrival. We just finished up her baby shower invitations for the shower this August. Oh my, I just can’t wait to see all the girly fun gifts she will open! Here’s a photo of the little mama and the birthday boy, Grayson, last month.

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Brides

Amie

Wedding planning has been in a small lull… but the bridal shower planning is full steam ahead! My office is bursting at the seams full of branches and glassware for the upcoming cherry blossom festival themed shower! I asked Amie not to peek while she was here last night—the wedding invitation process has officially begun as well! Oh, and the birthday girl celebrated her big 27th birthday—she now shares her birthday with Rachel’s Amelia! And the two birthday buddies even got to have a cuddle session on their now shared birthday!

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Kathleen

How gorgeous was this lady at her shower! I just can’t wait to show you the photos from the festivities—but the rest will have to wait until next week! Oh, and her bachelorette party and wedding are just weeks away! I am so so so excited!!!! 🙂 I’ll give you a sneak peek at the wedding invitations we designed together too!

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BBQ

BBQ somewhat slowed down, only 2 BBQ competitions in 2 months… not too shabby… plus a couple catering jobs. The husband just won’t stop! The TV show he filmed a small part for starts this month too! He’s part of a focus group on a food related show coming out on Lifetime, but his episode probably won’t air until September… I’ll keep you posted.

Long Beach

Last year Long Beach was the craziest BBQ competition, in regards to vending, that we had ever been a part of. Double lines, 50 people deep, nonstop until we sold out of food. This year we came prepared to vend vend vend—we sold the same amount of food as the big guys who have been on national BBQ shows and were able to keep our line down. We were mighty proud of ourselves by the end of the day and then the boys were still able to compete at their finest by winning a second in pork and a 10th in chicken out of 55 teams. Read Rooftop’s blog on the event here.

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Pechanga

Pechanga was a great event! We only planned to sell our leftover food so we didn’t feel the usual rush and stress. We even had a 3 hour break before awards! Then during awards the boys were called in 3 of the 4 categories, taking home 8th in chicken, 9th in pork, and a FIRST in brisket. I don’t know if I have ever seen Andy happier than getting that first place call! See Rooftop’s post here.

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Follow past and upcoming Babies, Brides and BBQ here!