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Living the Swell Life





Updated: 2017-07-26T04:54:50.532-05:00

 



Same blog...New spot!!

2013-03-26T20:09:39.355-05:00

Hello my dears!  Big news: Living the Swell Life has MOVED!! Although it's been an amazing six-year run (6 years!? How is this possible!!??) here at blogspot, I've finally decided to take the leap to a lovely new wordpress site.   I am feeling so excited and inspired by the new space already and I do hope that you'll update your links and continue to follow my writings and craftings over at livingtheswelllife.com!! Hooray--hop on over!



crafting away!

2012-12-07T00:26:49.182-06:00

This weekend, I am getting set to sell a few of my crafts at two handmade holiday boutiques.  This is a HUGE first for me, although both shows are small and in homes. I am feeling so inspired by the deadline and feel like I've spent more time crafting in the past two weeks than I did in all of 2012!!  Hooray for chilly early winter days and for cozy time in my craft room.  It is relaxing and therapeutic to me. (: Here is just a peek of some of the things up for grabs: 
 Lined zipper pouches, perfect for school supplies, makeup, or my personal fave--storing extra batteries and memory cards/film in your camera bag!
(image)
Wreaths wrapped with yarn and made pretty with felt
Annnd, lovely camera strap covers!  These are approximately 27" long and perfectly hide the black + bright branding of most SLRs.  I get so many nice compliments when I wear these at shoots! (:

If you are lucky enough to live in the Twin Cities area, please stop by Finch's Boutique, and support the handmade movement as well as the American Cancer Society.  A few of my goodies will be there amid more amazing talent, with Be Crafty tags on it! (:

Happy Weekend Friends!
xoxo.



andes mint chocolate cookies

2012-12-14T17:20:23.370-06:00

I can hardly even believe that the holiday season is in full swing! Last week we cut down our modest little Spruce tree, and having it light up our living room day and night is bringing so much joy and making things feel so official!  I just love having so many sweet + sentimental things filling our home again!  This afternoon I am off to a Christmas cookie swap party and am bringing along these Andes Mint cookies.  They are seriously my new favorite flavor of the season!!  Chocolate + Mint...There is nothing better!  

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter
2 Tablespoons water
2 eggs
12 oz. chocolate chips
2 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3 packages Andes mints

Cream sugar & butter.  Add water & eggs.  Melt chocolate chips adnd add to creamed mixture. Add dry ingredients.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour until dough is stiff.  Roll into 1" balls. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. After baking, immediately top each cookie with a mint. Allow to melt, then spread like frosting. (:

Then for the most difficult step:  Allow the candy layer to harden and cool completely before enjoying.  It tastes 10x better that way!

Packaging: Manilla tags, Martha Stewart acrylic stamp, cellophane treat bags, and green striped twist ties from PaperAndPresent.




grateful for this day.

2012-11-22T22:38:18.316-06:00

I took this shot super quickly on my phone this morning, because we spent the day doing far more important things...
We are so extravagantly blessed. House. Home. Family. Food. Health. And so very much more.
Hoping your Thanksgiving was a beautiful reminder of the muchness in your life. Xo.



upcycled canister, washi tape style!

2012-11-20T21:04:47.985-06:00

Life is so full. So, so full. I always wish I could fill this blog with more everyday loveliness, but you know, it always gets pushed to the bottom of the endless list. (: 

Today I am excited to finally share a super quick little project that was inspired by my extremely inspiring friend, Amanda.  After last weekend's wonderful Be Crafty workshop, we had a little bit of pretty washi tape left over from our awesome sponsor Sewing Post...Sooo, we divvied it up and I brought mine home to create an awesome little storage container for what else--my vast collection of washi tape!

First I rescued an empty Swiss Miss container from the trash.  I spray painted the outside white, so that the mountains and marshmallows would not show through the thin papery tapes.  Then I simply went nuts wrapping the outside, ring by ring, with lovely colors and patterns.  I set them all out on the table and let G help me decide on the design! I am loving it and want to empty out all of the other canisters in my house so that I can make more...



little boy frog costume

2012-10-27T22:49:25.409-05:00

 This year, I had high hopes of dressing Graham as a pirate (easy!) or a firefighter (reuse last year's) costume for Halloween.  When he announced that he wanted to be a frog, hop from house to house while trick-or-treating, and eat flies, I knew there was no way I could talk him out of such an imaginative plan. (The result of reading this little book too much!) So, I'll be honest, I stressed out. I procrastinated.  I looked on etsy, and found things that were 100x cuter than I could DIY and 10x more than I wanted to spend.  So I stressed and procrastinated some more. Finally, last night I knew I needed to get down to business.I locked myself in my craft room, armed with a hot glue gun, surrounded by felt scraps and a moss-green queen sized sheet I had picked up at the thrift store a couple years ago.  I sort of went to town and prayed that he would say "ribbit" enough while in public to make up for all his costume lacked... I grabbed a stained old green t-shirt and cut it into 2 half-circles and sewed them together to make the hat.  Next I glued on googly felt eyes, mouth, and tongue.  (The tongue is integral in making this frog legit.)  G also just so happened to have a green sweater and green mittens lying around from last winter.  Score!  The thing about designing Halloween costumes in Minnesota, is that they need to be WARM, because it is freezing here already!  I did a really botched sewing job (sans pattern!) on the smock & pants.  I wanted to be quick and I knew if I messed up too catastrophically, I could always cut more of the green sheet up! G really, really wanted to help, so I let him strategically place his spots before I glued them down.  (Ok, I helped a little.)Perhaps my favorite feature of the costume, are his webbed felt feet!!  I added a bit of elastic to the bottoms to strap under his shoes, so they would stay in place.All in all, this costume cost us ZERO dollars.  Crazy, I know.  I loved the challenge of using things from around our house and it always feels good to finally find purposes for the supplies that I hoard.  Graham LOVED waking up to see the finished pieces this morning and getting to wear it to our neighborhood Halloween festival.  We got so many compliments and it made my heart happy to hear people say "cute froggy!" Plus all the money we saved on his costume means more to spend on the important stuff...Candy!! Can't wait for Wednesday. xo.[...]



30 acts of kindness

2012-10-22T22:55:01.076-05:00

I can scarcely believe that just 2 years ago, I met Amanda through this little blog of mine--because I feel like I've known her forever and ever already.  A loving, real-life crafty friend is hard to find, and when you do, you find 1,000 excuses to get together to share your love for glitter, ribbon, and hot glue guns.  Amanda is an endless source of inspiration and an enormous blessing in my life.  She is so full of joy and has an amazing heart.  Such a generous heart, that when she turned the BIG 3-0 last week, all she wanted for her birthday was to bless 30 perfect strangers, sprinkling random acts of kindness across the state of Minnesota.  I know, right!?And so she paper crafted these 30 adorable tags, made a list of people, places, and things to hit, and when her birthday rolled around, she hopped in my car and we set out on a *30 Acts of Kindness* road trip, along with our dear friend Bethany, who sweetly reserved a whole day just for us on her quick visit home from Kuwait.  We were literally.giddy with nervous excitement!  (And everyone around us probably thought we were a little bit nuts.)  I can't even imagine a more fun way to show love to the world and have your own cup filled in return.  We spent just $30 on mini gift cards and goodies, left handwritten notes for perfect strangers, and brightened one little corner of the world along the way. Here are just a few of her ideas:* A note of encouragement to a driver's ed instructor (on a student driver car)!* Coffee shop drive-through, paying for the drink of the person behind us* Tape a bag of popcorn and $ to a Redbox rental machine* Leave quarters in a soda machine* A note of encouragement on a police car or fire truck (thanks for keeping us safe)!* Tape a coffee gift card and a note saying "You're a great mom!" to a baby changing station* Tube a surprise note to the drive-through bank teller* Hide sweet treats in the pumpkin patch* Candy bars under windshield wipers at the grocery store (it was a cool day so they did not melt)!* Tape an unscratched lottery ticket to the gas station pump* A note of gratitude along with $ in the tip jar at our dinner spot* Bring fresh flowers to a nursing home* Bring toys or blankets to a children's hospitalThese are my instagrams of the trip, but you must visit Amanda & Bethany to see their perspectives!! Truth be told, we ended up not doing every idea on the list, but still passed out all 30 by doubling up on a bunch of them, because Bethany and I had a big surprise of our own up our sleeves...At the end of our journey, we wound up at A-Z Farm in Stokholm, WI.  Even though it was a Tuesday night in October in the middle of nowhere, the place was hopping.  We pulled into a gravel driveway parked full of cars and a looong line of hungry bellies, waiting for a box of their famous wood-fired pizzas, featuring fresh, local ingredients.  Bethany & I sent Amanda away to brave the long line, and while she was gone, we sprang into action...We had stealthily packed my trunk full with a little wooden table, chairs, china, tea cups, vintage wine glasses, and all kinds of loveliness...Including a perfect, pastel pink ruffle cake from the ever-delicious Cocoa & Fig!!  I think Amanda almost died and went to heaven when she walked back to our picnic spot, pizza in hand, and discovered this magical scene!  Just as the sun was setting, we cozied up in blankets, laughed until we cried, sipped wine, divulged sweet secrets, and ate cake until our bellies ached.  I think I speak for all 3 of us when I say that this day was so good for our hearts!  It is way, way better to give than to receive. I can't believe the whole thing came off without a hitch and I cannot even imagine a more perfect way to celebrate our beautiful friend!  I used to dread turning 30, but now I can't even wait. It'[...]



Give Crafty Workshop!

2012-09-19T09:08:27.623-05:00

There's a chill in the air, friends. Yesterday morning I put on socks for the first time since late March.  Socks!  Ok, perhaps that's an exaggeration, but I truly only wear socks if I absolutely must. It makes me think that we have officially entered fall, which means there will be cozier days ahead.  Cozier days ahead mean that it's time to sit inside and craft.  And it is never too soon to make a list of handmade projects you'll want to have on hand for the holiday giving season!  Exactly for this reason, my friend Amanda & I are hosting another handmade gift workshop on 11/17 called GIVE CRAFTY, and registration is opening this week!  If you are in the Midwest, or need an excuse to visit the Midwest, you should most definitely come.  You can register here beginning FRIDAY at 8am CST!



i've finally learned to spell "zucchini". zucchini.

2012-09-16T22:18:32.685-05:00


(image)
 lately i have been delighting in the early-fall bounty and perhaps over-indulging at the farmer's market every week. (is it even possible to over-indulge on produce? surely not.) it is zucchini season. big time. so over the weekend i baked my ultimate fave pineapple zucchini bread.  the recipe for which i posted so very long ago...and took some terrible photos to go along with it. don't judge. just saying. the bread itself however is fantastic. we ate it up in a jiffy.



stone barn pizza farm

2012-09-14T22:05:23.074-05:00

(image) This is how we wrapped up summer:  A long afternoon's drive to Nelson, Wisconsin. (A place I passed through 1,000 on my way to and from college but never imagined the magical, al fresco dining experience tucked away on a nearby country road.) Hungry bellies followed signs to the Stone Barn Pizza Farm. As the sunlight shrank across endless fields of green grass, we sauntered into the open-air remains of a barn that now held the most heartwarming gathering space.  Gazing at my husband, I sipped a glass of one of my favorite wines, awaiting a giant wood-fired pizza while a little boy bulldozed the gravel beneath our table. I adored that we were out of the city, breathing country breeze, running free.  We chased a little boy around the property, pet friendly horses, hunted for treasures in a cottage filled with antiques, and saved ample room for a delicious ice cream dessert.  This mini getaway was so good for my heart. Exactly the sort of rejuvenation I needed last weekend.  This place has won my heart and we will most definitely be back. Annually.



from drab to fab: the craft hutch

2012-08-28T22:20:26.229-05:00

 Ta-da!  Would you believe this gem was once a curb call!? You're witnessing the before & after of my favorite side-of-the-road FREE furniture piece yet!  I am SO happy I was in the right place at the right time to adopt this lovely piece.  After some serious sanding, primer, and a quart of plain white decorator paint, it has become the best thing that ever happened to my craft room.  Perfection.  Of course I couldn't show it off without snapping a few extra pics of its contents, some of my most beloved supplies:
How about you? What is your favorite freebie?  Have you ever found something on the side of the road and transformed it into a treasure?  I'd love to hear...





G at 3.

2012-07-31T21:20:50.401-05:00

 Truth: I have all but abandoned scrapbooking and photo albums.  Kinda like how the carpenter's house never gets fixed.  The photographer's kid never gets photo albums. :)  Maybe someday I'll make a deadline for myself and get my act together.  But this summer, while we're working so hard on everyone else's images, I really want to take a little time to remember G, just as he is, at the sweet age of 3, because seriously, he is such a gift:
: He has been known to eat condiments and only condiments for meals.  On multiple occasions. (Of course, healthy items of sustenance were also offered on his plate.)
: There is nothing on earth I love more than hearing him giggle.
: Considering he can only recognize the letter G, he is an amazingly proficient iPad user.
: He can count to FIVE-teen. (:
: He loves other kids so much and always wants to hold hands with his friends. I cannot find the willpower to discourage this. It is the sweetest thing.
: He is in a hard-core pirate phase, and speaks pirate fluently.  Considering a pirate Halloween costume.
: Fav toys: Legos, Thomas trains, puzzles, and anything with wheels.
: Every single morning, he requests sugar toast (cinnamon-sugar toast) for breakfast.  He insists that he (f)rinkle it himself.

I adore that he has entered the pre-school stage. He is bursting with curiosity and cute conversation. I just dearly miss that there is absolutely nothing babyish left in his life. Except that he will always be my baby...




more thoughts on creating & clicking.

2012-07-26T15:53:42.958-05:00

On Friday, I spilled a whole bunch of my thoughts on iphones, pinterest, instagram and the like.  I adored your comments--it is so good to hear that I am not the only one who has these feelings of inadequacy, and suffers from the paralysis of analysis.  I wanted to mention that I hope the post did not come off as sounding too poor me or like I was somehow fishing for your praise and admiration.  The fact that anyone even takes the time to read this little blog is amazing and fulfilling in its own right. And I know I am capable of doing creative things. There. I said it.

When you stop to think about it, it is utterly terrifying to put ourselves out there, subject to the cruelest judgment with every word and image.  It's no wonder that we all get so caught up in comparison and competition. Plus insensitive stuff happens.  I know that for a fact. It's amazing that we don't all cast our computers into the sea and live under rocks.

And yet, 99.9% of the feedback I've ever encountered has been nothing but the kindest of kindness. Sometimes I need reminders to just be myself (however cool or uncool I may be), to seek beauty, and to love others. To gather inspiration where I feel most inspired, and to have the self-awareness to know when my sources of inspiration are tearing me down instead of building me up. I think that is the key to every creative pursuit. (As I write this, I am chuckling at the thought of this turning into a Pinterest addict's serenity prayer.) So thanks, just for saying such sweet things. You are the reason I love to blog.

P.S. Dear Jessica: Instagramming 4 times on Sunday/family day is far from unplugging. It's cool that you're not too legalistic, but seriously. Better luck next time.

xo.



"mama. i love to make piles."

2012-07-26T01:00:22.729-05:00

If I've learned anything in my 3 short years as a mother, it's that messes are inevitable. Little boys are everywhere. And for these two key reasons, it takes 100 times longer to do everything. Now that I've figured this out, I can relax, take time to accept the disarray without allowing myself to become completely unraveled...Then photograph his antics before taking corrective action. Someday, when I have no one around to unwind my shoebox of neatly wrapped notions, I will miss these surprises in my craft room.





inspiration overload.

2012-07-20T21:59:00.174-05:00

Illustration by Lindsay Letters : via

I have been struggling a lot lately with feelings of inadequacy, lost in the abysmal blogosphere of the most talented designers, photographers, crafters, and writers on the planet.  Perhaps it's just par for the course, having taken so much time away from regularly scheduled blogging. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by all the loveliness of Pinterest, my google reader and beyond, that I feel completely bogged down and well, just plain down.  When I measure my creativity against the whole entire world's I feel completely paralyzed--like an original idea could never possibly cross my mind ever again. Sometimes I spend so much time pinning together my little dream life, and jonesing for everyone else's life via Instagram, that I forget to actually live my real life...Does this sound at all familiar?  Do you ever feel like everything has already been created, so what's even the point?

Since becoming an iPhone owner, I've become acutely aware of just how much it owns me.  I adore the perks of having a smart phone and can't imagine life without it--it's so good in so many ways.  But I cringe at the thought of all the missed moments with those around me, because I've been glued to the screen, fueling the lie that I am somehow creatively inferior.

One thing that's been helpful to me in kicking the rut, is to spend one day a week UNplugged. At our house this summer, we're trying to be more intentional about observing the Sabbath. For us, that means taking a day away from our business, to do family things, to take R&R seriously, to tackle projects around the house, to go to church, and to stay sane during our busy wedding season.  Adding my phone, email, and all things social media to the list, I find it AMAZING; truly remarkable just how much time there is in the day, and how much we can accomplish, when our only goal is to take a break from accomplishing things...

Do you ever get bogged down in the blogosphere?  And if so, what are your tricks for recharging? I'd love to hear...




minnehaha falls on my holga

2012-07-18T10:13:56.688-05:00

This summer I have been having so much fun playing with my Holga!  It is so ultra simple that it feels kinda like the 24 exposure disposable cameras my mom used to send with me to summer camp.  I mean, we're talking primitive.  You have to manually wind your film. No flashy flash, no auto focus, no batteries.  PLUS a crappy viewfinder so you're never quite sure what you're composing.  (Hello chopped heads!)  It may sound like a pointless nightmare to you, but to a girl who spends her summers lugging lenses and shooting fancy weddings, it is a dreamy vacation.  Such a tactile experience.  Everything from the underwhelming little click of the shutter to rolling the film between exposures.  It leaks light in crazy ways so you never have a clue what you're gonna get.  No fake actions necessary. The imprecision of it all is so real and so wonderful!  So here you are...a few shots of our summer in Minneapolis, straight out of camera:





a dollhouse pillow!

2012-07-09T21:41:54.248-05:00

This morning, I dusted off my sewing machine and got to work creating a pretty dollhouse pillow for a friend's baby girl!  I had been wanting to make one for forever--and let me tell you, I had SO much fun putting this together. I honestly didn't use any sort of pattern, I just started cutting and piecing and experimenting.  Things don't always line up perfectly, but it is my favorite way to sew!  If you can sew a straight line, you can make one too. (: Without a doubt, this project was the best thing to ever happen to my pile of scrap fabrics. It makes me wish I had twice as much time to make it even more imaginative and interactive.  Next time...



june.

2012-06-28T14:28:02.420-05:00

JUNE INSTAGRAMS: 1. Pico de Pineapple is my fave. 2. This potted garden at Anthropologie inspired my garden makeover. 3. Watercolors for the new blog banner!  4. Farmers' market fresh. 5. Last night's kabob party. 6. The bucket list in chalkboard form.

Holy guac, during these sweet summer days, is tough to keep up the blogging routine!  Even though it's not super realistic for me to shout hellos here every day, I promise to chime in every once in awhile.  It just feels too good to be back!  Thank you, lovely friends, for the warmest of welcomes.  It makes my heart happy to read your kind comments!

Also, you can still catch glimpses of the swell life daily on Instagram: @jefflovesjessica.  I will go out on a limb and say that it is the best social media site to date.  I am so in love! Yup, better than Pinterest.  Even if you don't have an iPhone, you can still follow my feed here!




clean happy : shower gift

2012-06-13T00:20:05.601-05:00

Full disclosure: when it comes to cleaning, I am terribly, hopelessly unmotivated.  Pre-G, my household tidy factor was at least okay, but in the last 3 years it has steadily fallen.  So often, when perusing the shelves at Target, I lust for pretty cleaning products with fancy colors, wonderful smells, and exceptionally-designed labels...Of course they also are all eco-friendly, locally made and horribly expensive.  If I bought them all, I wonder if my house would be a significantly better place.  And then I pass, because common sense gets the better of me, and after all, baking soda and vinegar are awesome.

But I'd always wanted to put such fun things in a gift basket, because perhaps I'm not the only one who needs beautiful things with which to clean her home.  So I did.  And here is the finished product:
I gifted this little bucket-o-goodies together to my co-worker and friend, Lindsay, who is getting married next weekend.  Sometimes I am naughty and get tired of digging through registries to find something to give that still feels personal. Since Linds and her fiance also just closed on their first house, I thought it would be fun to bundle a shower + housewarming gift all into one.



summer bucket list . 2012

2012-06-11T17:22:59.239-05:00

When temperatures soared last weekend and our AC went kaput, it finally hit me that summer IS here and will go oh-so-fast, because it always does.  Enter the summer bucket list, a reminder for me to slow down, enjoy, and not miss all the season has to offer:

: make homemade lemonade
: twins game
: go camping
: make s'mores
: let G stay up late to watch fireworks
: family dates/day trips, once a week
: landscape our front lawn. seriously, this is so needed!
: remember to water flowers
: play at the pool
: play at the park
: visit a pizza farm
: sidewalk chalk
: take G fishing
: clean the garage
: garage sale?
: clean the basement
: re-finish my new antique hutch
(can't wait to share that one. my best side-of-the-road find YET!)
: vacation in cali
: visit the farmer's market weekly
: ride our bikes
: eat waffle cones
: walk around the lakes
: play at the beach
: invite our neighbors over for a backyard BBQ

I'd love to hear it--what is on your summer bucket list?



the sweetest time of day

2012-06-08T20:57:09.696-05:00

Every afternoon, sometime between the hours of 3 and 4pm, something magic happens.  My sweet little boy wakes up from his nap, saunters out of his big boy bed, stands at the top of the stairs, and calls for me. He is crabby, needy, and cuddly.  I am happy and fulfilled because I've had just enough quiet time to cross something imminent off my long list.

It is the most welcomed interruption.

And so I plop down on the familiar hardwood floors, pull him onto my lap, kiss his sweaty blonde waves, and we snuggle.  All is well with the world.  I savor those warm, wonderful moments that quickly melt into a tickle fight or demand for a sippy cup of milk.  Someday in the not-too-distant future, I will desperately miss our peaceful snuggle sessions.  I do believe it is one of the utmost joys of motherhood. 

xo.



a perfect fit.

2012-06-07T15:55:49.867-05:00

A pretty white lace dress with a cheery yellow sash was definitely not on my shopping list.  But when I stumbled upon it, I just knew it belonged on me.  It was perfect in every way. I love that feeling of certainty.

Oh, hello. This is a little awkward: 9 months ago, I pretty much ditched this blog.  I was overwhelmed by life, working too much, and I wanted to simplify things and focus my energy on the important stuff.  Somewhere along the line, my momentum and blogging joy burned out, and so I hung up my creative writing and photographing and I took a much-needed sabbatical from this place.  And although I had big plans to post similar personal content on our photog blog, that did not exactly happen...

And one day last winter during a 3-month slump (more on that later?), sweet reminders of happier days got a hold of my heart and I started missing this place.  Missing my voice, missing the amazing community, missing a space to inspire and be inspired.  It turns out, this is how I tell my story. This is the reason I whip on the SLR to take photos of my sweet little boy, this is my favorite collection, and this is where my heart overflows.  This is our history. I like to write. It is a part of me, and I've missed it so.

One caption and two paragraphs later, this feels so very familiar.  Like an awesome pair of jeans, sadly outgrown but not thrown out--because they might fit again someday.  Today is that someday.  Even if no one is reading.  And am so glad to be back. This is right. A perfect fit.

So let's get up to speed:  In the last three-quarters of a year, we've been well.  Last fall I planted a bunch of tulip bulbs. I surprised Jeff & G with a kitten for Christmas (more on that later too), read some great books, threw a few craft parties, checked out Vegas, joined the 21st century when I upgraded to an i-Phone (hallelujah!), collected 19 rolls of washi tape, re-learned how to load a roll of film, and jumped for joy when said tulips actually blossomed this spring.

Yay!



a cheerful farewell.

2012-06-07T13:54:11.389-05:00

hello my dears. yes indeedy. this sweet stack of pastel children's novels was by far my proudest thrift store prize of the summer.now it's time for a bit of true blue honesty and a complete subject change. the last few months have been tough. i've been struggling to find a balance, as we all do from time to time. i've been contemplating + praying about this for the last 5 months and i've made a big decision.i am saying farewell to taking a break from this little blog of mine.with slightly slumped shoulders and a bittersweetly beating heart, i am choosing to move forward and focus not on the things i cannot accomplish, but to rejoice in what i can. you know the feeling? when you're doing 100,000 things and only doing them 50% well? i am over that. life is so, so full and i simply need to prioritize what truly, truly matters...like faith, family, home, career, and time to just relax and be in between. this blog has been a super important piece, or more appropriately a collection of pieces of my life for the past 4 years. then at some indefinable point, it became more than just a little hobby and more of a nagging responsibility, at which point the joy began to seep out and the guilt began to seep in.this blog has carried me through so many amazing life transitions!! like moving away from the heartland, a san francisco adventure, a surprise pregnancy, a spring chicken, and a grateful passage to motherhood. which brought us back to the midwest where God led jeff to start his own tiny little photo business on the side, which quickly grew into something more. we also cozied into our very first home with a craft room for moi and a yard for the boy to flourish.and all along, i have been so immensely blessed to meet so many beautiful friends with similar passions and enormous, Jesus-loving hearts, many of whom have challenged me to survey my own. this blogosphere is one powerful network. i have been inspired again and again and again. i've been challenged to be more authentic, more creative, more intentional; more appreciative. i gained confidence to throw parties for perfect strangers. i found utter joy in sharing my favorite little craft projects and recipes with you. i even have a little family record of birthdays, holidays, and everything wonderful that happens in between. heck, i eventually even learned how to take a decent photo.now that we've shared some fond memories and dried our my tears, are you ready to hear the silver lining? good. because there is one.........i am jumping into this photog biz of ours wholeheartedly. i think i may have something to contribute, the foremost of which is my time. last spring i received a golden piece of advice, from an ahh-mazing mentor & colleague: make your business personal. make your blog personal.at first this did not sit well with me at all. this is my blog, my gig...and our photo stuff is our photo stuff. that's just how it was gonna be. but after letting the whole thing marinade for awhile, God helped me realize that i'd been pretty selfish and how this whole thing made perfect, amazing sense. that's when we got serious about a re-brand/re-design, making way for this whole new chapter. it's been a long time coming.long story short, Living the Swell Life lives on (right here). i have big dreams, big plans to compose a manageable one post per week on something personal, something creative, or something inspiring amid our busy business business. funny how i am so comp[...]



i need to make heart cookies.

2011-08-28T15:21:40.555-05:00

the other day, a little bit bored, g stated "i need to make heart cookies." (lately almost everything has been a dire need around here. we are working on sorting out the difference between needs and wants.) but i totally caved to this one. i needed to make heart cookies too. g helped with every step of the process and i must say, he is becoming quite handy with a rolling pin. once iced and sprinkled, we tied a bunch of them up into a pretty little package and mailed them to my grandma. we lost my grandpa a couple weeks ago and we figured it might be a fun way to brighten her day.
(image) (image) p.s. yes--those are big boy underpants in photo #2. potty training is underway. please pray.




look at the size of this thing!

2011-08-24T17:44:25.394-05:00

(image) hello there. it has been forever. i really hadn't intended to take a summer blog-cation...it just sort of fell to the bottom of the list--and i haven't quite mustered the energy to bounce back.

we've been busy.

i say that every time. last night, after a slightly-more-eruptive-than-usual meltdown, jeff insisted that i stop working too hard and that in order to preserve my sanity (read: and his!) i should just blog for a little bit today. so here i am! yay!
lately we've been crossing all sorts of things off of the summer bucket list:

1. harvesting the garden. to be precise, i snagged 1 barely ripe tomato & 3 bell peppers off our plants before an army of blasted, dirty squirrels destroyed and consumed everything. boo. i guess they need to eat sometimes too--and can't afford the luxury of a grocery store like i can.
2. getting way way better veggies from the farmer's market. our neighbor stopped by with this cabbage last night. it. is. enormous! we can't seem to stop chuckling about it. at this point, all i could think to do with it was take a picture...i don't know how to even begin to eat it.
3. tossing a blanket in the grass and reading/ipading the afternoon away
4. playdates at the pool
5. dining al fresco both on our backyard deck & at a few neighborhood cafes
6. road trips x2
7. evenings at the park
8. s'mores