Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Jack David | Newborn Photography

Grayson and Megan are some of our dearest friends. We get to do life alongside them through our church community group, and it has been so fun to watch them prepare for baby Jack's arrival. 

Jack David Dzialo was born on Monday, November 17, and we took these photos just a few days after he came home. Meg and Gray, we love you guys and can't wait to watch you raise this little one!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Harper's Birth Story

It was a joy to photograph the day that my niece was born, and I'm honored to have captured these memories for our family.

Harper Elizabeth Brown
July 30, 2014, 1:50 a.m.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seeing Red

We went to Lubbock last August to celebrate my sister's graduation from Texas Tech, and in helping her move out of her condo, she gave us this cabinet that one of her roommates had purposely left behind. At that time we knew we'd soon be buying a house, so we figured "sure, why not, it'll get used somewhere." And since moving in, it has sat in our garage, waiting to be refinished. 

While the cabinet probably could have been left as is, there was one spot on the top that had nail polish remover or something spilled on it, and the paint was bubbling up. We decided to strip it -- because that's easy, right? -- sand it down and stain it. Well...

Stripping paint off of the cabinet was a lot harder than we thought! Sure, the liquid stripper helped a lot, but it was messy, painful if you accidentally got any on you, and getting all of the paint removed was practically impossible. I told Thomas if I ever got the idea to re-do another previously painted piece, to remind me of how much time and energy this tiny thing took.

After stripping as much as we could, we used an "after wash" to remove more of the color, and then sanded it down for what seemed like hours. There are still little traces of red in the grain, but we think it adds a little character. Or at least that's what I'm telling myself to make me feel better about it.

Here's the final product of our labor. All in all, we're pretty pleased with how it turned out! When you walk in our front door, this is what you see on the wall to the left.

The window above the cabinet is from an old home in New Orleans, given to me by my friend Lianne when she heard I was looking for one. That was a whole other project in itself -- it must have had at least three layers of paint on it, built up from over the years, and we stripped and sanded it just like we did the cabinet. I accidentally broke one of the window panes while doing so, so we took out all the remaining panes and when the stain was complete, we used caulk to put three of the glass panes back in (top middle and bottom two corners). Thanks, Lianne!

We're taking our time making this house our home as time and budget allow. When you're trying to save money to pay off new appliances, little inexpensive projects like this make me feel like we're still making progress. Another project down, several more to go! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lone Star Staycation

For Thomas' birthday last month, I surprised him with a night "away" {if six miles from home counts} at the Lone Star Court at The Domain. The company I work for performed the civil engineering for the project, so it had been on my radar for a while. And when I saw a Living Social Deal for a one-night stay, I knew it would make for the perfect birthday date night. 

"At Lone Star Court, you'll enjoy a perfect pairing of modern convenience and traditional comfort in a unique blend of the past and present. Lone Star Court features Austin hotel rooms done up in a 'retro-ranch' motif reminiscent of a time when your journey was as fun as your destination. Our terrific location and fun decor is sure to get you in a mellow Hill Country mood. From metal headboards and deer horn lamps to pictures of country singing sensations and Republic of Texas flags, we've thought of everything to inspire a Lone Star state of mind."

We loved our stay! I went crazy over the decor and atmosphere of the whole place. Everything felt bright, clean and cozy. After we checked in, we went to The Water Trough, the rustic barn bar and eatery, for a drink and appetizers. We relaxed poolside that afternoon, although it was still too chilly to take a dip, and then after a nap, we went over to The Domain for dinner.

We were exhausted from a long week, so we called it a night pretty early and didn't set an alarm, which we don't get to do too often! But, next time around I'd love to stay out a little later to enjoy the fire pits and live music.

If you're looking for a fun getaway in the Austin area, look no further than the Lone Star Court. Even with the hotel being so close to home, it was a perfect way for us to recharge and relax as a couple.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Cabinet Makeover

When buying a house, it's hard to prioritize what projects come first and what you wait to do later. If you're like me, you want to do it all and do it now! Not to mention, all those trips to Home Depot and Lowe's add up fast. 

While we daydream about granite countertops in the kitchen and not having carpet in our master bath, we're finding inexpensive little projects to personalize our home.

Thanks to being raised by a frugal mom, I have a knack for bargain hunting. Thomas and I have frequented our local thrift stores, looking for things to repurpose for our house, and a few months ago we happened upon this old china cabinet {originally from Bassett Furniture} at Salvation Army. We looked at each other as if to say "are you thinking what I'm thinking?" For a whopping $108, this beauty was ours, and we spent several weekends sanding, repainting, and applying new hardware to make it our own.

I couldn't find anything on the cabinet to indicate just how old it is, but I'm guessing at least 30 or 40 years. It has a felt-lined drawer for silver, too, with this old branded logo on the inside.

And here's the finished product! We chose to paint the cabinet navy {Martha Stewart Wrought Iron} and purchased new hardware from Anthropologie {glass knobs} and Home Depot {drawer handles}. We love how the blue contrasts with the grey walls in the living/dining room, and we're having fun staging the inside of the cabinet with glassware, liquor and other items for entertaining guests.

The Reeds are ready for some dinner parties! Don't worry, we won't make you eat on the floor. We've added a table since this photo was taken.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Not a Blog Conference

Blogging started for me in college as a way to keep family and friends up-to-date with my travel plans as I studied abroad in the Netherlands. Weekend trips to Germany, France or Switzerland were recapped in great detail, along with a photo dump of favorite images I’d captured. Then when classes were over and we backpacked through the Mediterranean for a month, I’d pop into an Internet cafĂ© every chance I had to chronicle each memory.

The blog was set aside when I returned from that semester, until after graduation when I found myself going crazy with the job hunt. I needed something to break up my time spent sending out resumes and cover letters, so I revamped the blog. It became a collection of random posts… recipes, updates to friends and family about the wedding and job search, DIY projects and more.

Once I was married, I knew that I wanted to keep up the blog, so it started to become my creative and emotional outlet. I blogged about marriage, faith, food, travel… anything that Thomas and I were doing or experiencing.

I started to read more and more blogs too, finding women in the blog community that I felt drawn to, had similar interests with, looked up to or admired. Women like Casey Wiegand, Danielle Burkleo and Emily Anderson, the three friends who dreamed up the event Hope Spoken. I loved their authenticity, how down to earth they seemed, and how they loved and trusted Jesus. All three are in a different stage of life than me, having been married many years, raising a few kids, but I felt drawn to their stories and their hearts. If they were gathering women around them for a conference, I wanted to be there.  

In March of 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to buy my ticket the day they went on sale for the inaugural Hope Spoken conference. I anticipated meeting "blog friends" in real life, hearing some Biblical truth, and getting a better idea of what direction my blog was supposed to take. I recruited another friend to come with me, and in the weeks leading up to the event even considered making business cards to pass out to people I met, just something simple with my blog address and social media accounts to keep in touch.

But despite being drawn to attend through bloggers I admired, Hope Spoken was not a blog conference.

Hope Spoken wasn't about how much online influence I had, who my audience was, or how I could become a better writer. The event was a sacred, beautiful weekend of life stories being told, stories of hope that only comes through knowing Jesus. Stories were told of infertility and miscarriages, abuse, death of loved ones, adultery, damaged relationships, broken families... events that might cause one to lose hope. But hearing each woman bravely share what had been revealed to them during those times was exactly what every one of us needed that weekend. We needed to be reminded that we all have unique, life-giving stories to share, blog or no blog.

I felt so foolish when I met women who didn't even have a Facebook account, let alone a blog that they shared with the world. I was so relieved that I hadn't found the time to print out silly cards to pass out, as if anyone should have cared who I was or what I blogged about. Man. The Lord showed up in mighty ways at this event, revealing to me that I do have a story, that He has a purpose for everything we walk through, and that He has given us each other to walk alongside and encourage as we seek Him through it all.

Today, tickets went on sale for the 2015 event. I fully intended on posting this blog to encourage other friends to register to attend with me, but y'all... it's already sold out. Truly a testament to the life change that happened in March of this year, as 250 women gathered together to speak of hope.

If I'll see you in Dallas next year, I'd love to hear from you! And if you're still wanting to attend, keep an eye out for women who may sell their ticket down the road if they're unable to attend for some reason.

Casey, Danielle and Emily, thank you for your obedience to God's calling for you to create this gathering of women. I'm forever thankful for what I've learned and can't wait to watch God show off His glory in 2015 too!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Picture This {Giveaway}

It took a while to find the perfect shade of grey for the downstairs of our home, but now that the painting is done, it was time to add some life to the walls in our living room. 

These floating shelves were a great deal from IKEA ($15 each) and the frames were equally a steal -- the 4x6 frames were only $1.99! Now bear with me, still working on getting some of our favorite photos printed to frame, but so far we've framed a photo of our honeymoon resort and one with friends at a Baylor football game. 

In the meantime, I was excited to add a wedding photo to the mix: a canvas from Easy Canvas Prints!

I was really pleased with the quality of the print. It's beautiful! The one I ordered is an 8"x10" canvas with a .75" border wrap.

When ordering, you have a few border options: image wrap, mirror wrap, or colored border wrap. The way this photo was cropped originally, I'd loose some of the image if I chose the first option, so I opted for the mirror wrap, as you can see below.

There are also two display options when ordering -- the standard hanger, which I received, or an easel back. If you want to mount the canvas directly on the wall or have it leaning on a narrow shelf like I have, the standard is what you want. Otherwise, the easel back is great if you want to display on a desk, in a bookcase or on your mantle.

One cool thing about Easy Canvas Prints is that you can link it directly to your Instagram account! Haven't tried that option out myself, but definitely will for future prints.

You know I love a good sale, so if you're ready to place your order, you're in luck. Enter the coupon code 50FREESHIP for 50% off all canvas prints + free shipping!

Aaaaand, Easy Canvas Prints is offering one free 8x10 canvas print to a lucky reader (free shipping, excluding Alaska/Hawaii). Good luck! Giveaway ends Friday, February 7.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted some "before" photos of our house a few weeks ago {here if you missed it}.