I’m a reformed crotchety Christmas-hater. I’m learning to give into the magic of the holidays, and shooting holiday photos is helping me in this winter-time journey! It’s hard to be a scrooge when you’re around family who love each other. I had a blast being the fourth wheel to the Tovars as we strolled around downtown Round Rock. Their little princesa was a natural in front of the camera!
I had my first multiple babies photo shoot in Austin this weekend. Can I be honest about something? I find myself just gazing at these snapshots. These cousins are so stinking cute, I can’t help myself. Born just a few days apart, I have a feeling they’re going to grow up to be best friends.
To see more of my work and book with me, check out my photography website! I don’t mind a little travel either!
When my beautiful friend Soujanya approached me about doing a newborn photography session with her son, Reyansh, I was honored. As soon as I arrived at Soujanya’s and her husband Deepak’s home, we entered a state of flow. With patience and teamwork, the four of us, with some support from doting grandparents, were able to capture some precious moments. Baby Reyansh and his adoring family were a dream to capture. I left inspired by their images. Soujanya reported she loves them so much she cried. What a relief! Here are some of my favorite shots.
Treavor and I met about 6 years ago when we both vlogged our lives every day for a month on Youtube. It tickles me to tell people we met on Youtube. Through the years, it’s been a pleasure to watch Treavor grow in all aspects of his life, but more specifically, watch him grow creatively. One of his favorite modes of creative expression is through words. He is currently pursuing his dream of publishing his first book, and he asked me to photograph him to mark this endeavor. I will always be a cheerleader for Treavor and his projects so I was honored to be part of his new exciting adventure.
We spent a whole day together and shot outside during relentless but light rain. I’m so glad I was the one behind the camera and not in front because I wilted under the humidity and moisture. While I wilted, Treavor seemed to bloom. It must be one of his super powers. I thought I’d share my favorite shots of him looking radiant and powerful despite the rain.
The first three photos on this post were from my first asado, an Argentinean barbecue. I wrote about what a serene day it was on my food blog. (Click on any of the first three photos to read the post.) I went to Houston for a weekend to stand in a high school friend’s wedding. I stayed with my parents and brought back some of the permissions they harvested from their garden. Sugarface and I were invited to an outdoor hot pot party which was also another serene experience dining outside in good company.
October was mostly about settling into the new apartment with Sugarface. I’m proud of how well we handled our transition from seeing each other a few times a week to every waking moment spent at home. That’s a lot of change for any relationship. Not depicted on Instagram, all the home-cooked meals we’ve made in our new home, hosting our first dinner guests, a dance party in our undies with our puppies, and hosting our first overnight guest. We did a good job breaking in our new home!
September was moving month for me and Sugarface. We started searching for an apartment together and fell in love with the first apartment we saw and three weeks after seeing it for the first time, we moved in! So apartment hunting and moving in bookended the month. The act of moving in and packing is dreadful but I found this was the most exciting move I’ve had and I’ve moved 13 times in the last 14 years!
In September, I took walks along Barton Creek and creeped on strangers as they admired nature. I spent sometime in the pool, both with friends and on my own. I attended a Cirque Du Soleil show with Jane and also went to a brunch she hosted at Top Golf. I’m still taking advantage of my free time from not working and volunteered at a local farm and painted with vegetables.
Sugarface and I went on more adventures with our pups, who by the way have adjusted to being roommates and are great pals!
Not depicted on Instagram: a 4 hour Revenge marathon while eating chocolate and camping out in Sugarface’s living room before the big move.
I started July with a middle of the week visit to one of our creeks in Austin with Sugarface and his pup. Every time I find myself doing something fun during normal work day hours I make sure to be grateful for one of the perks of unemployment. We then drove eight hours to Arkansas to spend Fourth of July with his family. It was a perfect few days spent barefoot in our bathing suits and eating amazing home-cooked meals.
My friend Treavor came to visit me that next weekend and gifted me early birthday presents to add to my home library. We talked really late into the night, watched Magic Mike XXL, which we both really enjoyed, and worked to find work in coffee shops.
I joined Sugarface during one of his work outings. Again, as I sat under a tree with him in the middle of a Tuesday, I thought to myself that this could have only happened while I’m in between jobs. Along with the lunch dates we’ve had.
July really had wonderful weekends. The third weekend I spent in Chicago with girlfriends. I went with my current roommate, a former roommate who now lives in Florida, and a friend I often travel with. In Chicago I met up with my friends who live in Chicago, one of whom was a former roommate! I could start a sisterhood of lovely women I’ve had the pleasure of living with. There was a moment in time prior to this trip where I wondered if it was prudent of me to go on a trip while unemployed. I’m glad I went! It was mostly paid for by the time I was laid-off and it produced such sweet memories. We went with the purpose of eating and singing along with Taylor Swift. I wish I could show you how excited my roommate was when Taylor surprised us with Sam Hunt.
The last weekend I spent with my girlfriends again. Stephanie picked me up bright and early with breakfast and treated me to great conversation while floating on stand-up paddle boards. My roommate and I hosted our monthly brunch, our theme being “Totes Toast”.
I ended the month turning another year older, feeling very loved with the gifts in the mail and cupcake and plant deliveries. On the actual day, Sugarface made me my favorite breakfast. I met up with my old coworker who was also laid off and we applied to jobs. I had lunch with my best friend and then dinner with Sugarface at my favorite restaurant. It was a quiet day and made me very happy.
Towards the end of June, I was laid off unexpectedly when my company downsized. The layoff has left me feeling really unsettled and insecure about my life. However, when I look through my images shared on Instagram in June, I’m surprised and pleased to see how happy my life is, even when unemployed. I started June wading the Green Belt with Sugarface and our dogs. I tried to force Bob the dog to enjoy swimming but he remains very much like me, a panicked swimmer. I bought myself peonies and reveled in their short season.
Bob the dog and I took a weekend trip to Houston where I would leave him till mid-August. He stays with my parents when I travel and I had four weekend trips from the time of drop-off to August. In Houston, I met up with my friend Thomas and we practiced our night-time photography. Sugarface left for a conference for a week which is the longest we’ve been apart. While we were apart, I had a rough week of not only missing him but also getting laid off. I spent that week reeling and spending a lot of time in coffee shops job searching. I tried to fly to Arkansas to meet Sugarface after his conference and to spend time with his friends and family. I ended up flying halfway and driving the other half with a stranger. (Our connecting flight was delayed and then canceled so we split a rented car.)
Sugarface and I were reunited for a very relaxing weekend. The first of two consecutive weekends (second one being in July) in his hometown. He showed me his childhood home and I met his parents. The natural beauty of the lake and trees compounded with his mom’s amazing cooking and the kindness of his family and friends felt restorative.
Not depicted on Instagram, aside from that spontaneous road trip to Arkansas with a stranger I met while waiting for our soon to be canceled flight, was another ride with a stranger! This one less risky. Blacklane gave me a complementary ride to the airport in a luxury car. I was not otherwise compensated to try out their service or obligated to tell you about them. This is the third time I have used their service and have felt quite spoiled every time. Also not depicted, I officially joined the board of the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance as their Social Chair!
I love Houston. I love her food scene. I love her museums. A lot of my close friends live in Houston. I love the diversity of the population and I love the art! If you’re in Houston from now to February 22, I strongly recommend checking out the Bruce Munro Field of Light exhibit at Discovery Green. The field is illuminated between 3 to 11 pm. If you’re not in Houston on these dates, check out the link anyway as Bruce Munro has multiple traveling exhibits.
I had so much fun setting up a borrowed tripod and taking these shots. The one photo of me was taken by my photography coach and friend for life, Thomas L Chen. You can read more about this night from his perspective on his blog.
My 2014 has been a transitional year, a liberated year, a magical year. A year full of surprises, adventure, and so many little but love filled moments with my friends. I’ve always prioritized relationships and adventure so they always show up as themes when I write these year end recaps, but this year, there was a boundless feeling to 2014. A buoyancy I haven’t ever experienced. I had so much joy in previous years, I didn’t know I could feel this happy, this light, this free as I did this year. This year was my first full year as a single person in nearly a decade and I reveled in the delicious ambiguity. There were more flowers in one year that I’ve received in all my years in a relationship, gifted by family, friends, and even myself. There was more dancing in one year than I’ve done since college. I checked off a lot of old items on my bucket list. There were more celebrity sightings and more rooftops and more sunsets. 2014 generally had more of the really good stuff.
I rang in 2014 with one of my closest friends. I hadn’t had a New Year’s with her since 2008 and it gave us an opportunity to do our New Year’s tradition on the actual first day of the year. We woke up on New Year’s Day and had cinnamon buns and coffee on a quilt while we wrote on our prayer lanterns our hopes and dreams for 2014.
I also learned how to make kimchi and strawberry chocolate jam. When I look through my Instagram feed for January, there were a lot of desserts and meals out. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the year. Most of my meals in 2013 were home-cooked. Most of my meals in 2014 were from eating out.
I had “cook a whole chicken” on my bucket list since high school. I was intimidated by this but a dear friend of mine did it first and then so sweetly held my hand and provided a whole chicken for me to roast on my own. Like a lot of fears faced, it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be, and quite delicious! I tried to ignore my favorite holiday for the first time but Anita brought Valentine’s Day to me by coordinating a card making, movie watching couch date. I spent Valentine’s Day night with my roast chicken coach and our mutual friends. We dressed up and ate good food and chair danced in our seats. I also started reading my favorite book of the year.
I went to Arizona for the first time and visited the Grand Canyon with girls I met on Youtube over four years ago. It was the first time we were all together since Vegas in 2012. The photograph of them sitting on a cliff is one of my favorites I’ve shot in 2014 and I wish I was actually in it! We were in L.A. for a hot minute before and after the Grand Canyon and dipped our toes in the Pacific Ocean. The next weekend I was back in Texas and celebrated a friend’s birthday in Galveston Island, smelling the salty air of the Gulf. Two beaches, three states in two weekends. I also developed my first crush in years. It never took off beyond a few dates but I enjoyed the butterflies. March was fun and light.
I started the month in Houston to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. I went to the first of three weddings where I snapped that photo of that sunset. This year I made a point of being outside for more sunsets. I ate really well at media dinners and the Austin Food and Wine Festival where I was able to see one of my food heroes in the flesh.
After rarely being home in April, I spent more time home in May. I read more and hosted a seven hour brunch. I went to Houston to celebrate Mother’s Day and attend a friend’s bachelorette party. It was during this trip that Thomas gave me a long exposure photography tutorial and I shot light trails for the first time, igniting a curiosity and passion for nighttime photography.
June was filled with flowers. I started the month frolicking in a field of wildflowers on private property and feeling like my life was a movie. I went on a few dates with a man who was compelled to give me elaborate bouquets every time he saw me. The first few times charmed me but then my threshold of enjoyment was reached. He was one of a handful of very kind men this year I didn’t feel real chemistry with. This year taught me the pain of walking away from who Dan Savage calls GGG men. Good, giving, and game. I ended the month in Dallas after photographing a field of giant sunflowers with Anita and Ashley.
Sweet July! I scratched off three new states in a long weekend during a solo road trip. I drove in and out of North Carolina three times and visited South Carolina and Virginia. I saw the amazing Angel Oak Tree in South Carolina and was in awe of all the beauty in the Carolinas. I fell in love with Asheville and added it to my growing list of cities I want to revisit. I was in the area to begin with for the wedding of one of high school friends. I then experienced truly the best birthday I’ve ever had. I showed up to a dinner I planned and a 90s sing-along ready to spend time with some of my favorite people and eat noodles. I had no idea my friends (some of whom still haven’t even met) collaborated with each other and surprised me with a fancy lens for my DSLR camera and a video that I still watch from time to time. The same day as my birthday celebration, Austin CultureMap listed my food blog as one of the top food blogs to follow in Austin. July rocked my world!
I had a photo taking date with my good friend, Aaron. We walked around during sunset and chased the light between skyscrapers as we shot downtown. It was during this friend date I met my first unicorn. In August, I started seeing a friend, met Vince Young, and ended the month in Greece, a trip I had on my life list since high school.
I started the month of September in Greece. My favorite island was Santorini. It was in Santorini where I skinny-dipped for the first time. That has always been on my life list and I assumed I’d do it first in the middle of the night at some unremarkable apartment pool. I love that instead of that unremarkable pool in the dead of the night, it was in the daylight with Anita in the Aegean Sea. How’s that for an upgraded story? The rest of the month wasn’t too shabby either. Anita and I went to a Chris Guillebeau signing, our third time meeting him together. We also went to a party where Ethan Hawke was in attendance, and were sitting close to the front row for a Wendy Davis talk.
October emotionally wrecked me. It was the one year anniversaries of the break-up of a six year relationship and the deaths of two friends. I also experienced more heartache when the friend I was seeing and I had a brutal falling out while on a group trip to New York. Though these parts of October weren’t pretty and caused me a lot of pain, I had some big highlights of the year in October. I finally got to see Oprah with Kimmy. Kimmy is the friend with whom I have the New Year’s tradition and every year we wish to be in the same room as Oprah. We attended a weekend event with Oprah’s Life You Want Tour. I saw Kimmy a few days ago and we both listed this weekend as one of our best moments in 2014. Also in October, I started a tradition with my mom and flirted with Neal Patrick Harris. Not so bad for a grim month!
The first part of November involved moving from North Austin to South Austin which reduced my work commute from 2 hours a day to 30 minutes a day. I moved in with Ashley and it’s been a blast so far. I spent a lot of November practicing self-care and nursing a tender heart. I went to Houston for Thanksgiving and swung on swings with Kimmy and together with Thomas we dabbled in nighttime photography and sneaked on a skyscraper rooftop. November has always been one of my favorite months.
I am back in Austin after spending a week in Houston for Christmas. My dad has decided to join in my dates with my mom and I love that photo of him reaching for the coffee. His weathered hand symbolizes so much to me.
December makes me laugh. I had started the month writing a difficult blog post and was open about my dating experience. It felt vulnerable to share. What makes me laugh though is in the post, I acknowledged how 2014 has been an amazing introduction to dating with minimal damage and I was already flirting with the possibility of a charmed romantic life in 2015. I had already moved on to 2015 despite still having three more weeks of 2014. A week after I published that blog post, I invited a friend as my date to a holiday party and by the end of the night we were holding hands and I was feeling butterflies. It was as if 2014 was telling me to wait, that she wasn’t done surprising me yet.
I am hosting a small New Year’s Eve Party with Ashley and Anita and tonight we’ll cook and prep for it. Tomorrow, I plan on ringing in the new year around happy humans and a sparkling dog.
2014, I’ll miss you and will carry you with me forever.