Sierra + Sage

I had the opportunity to take some photographs of Sierra and her lease, Sage, on their last day together.

They accomplished so much during their two year partnership, including 3rd place in the Beginner Novice Rider division at the 2017 American Eventing Championships and being awarded the US Eventing Association 2017 Beginner Novice Intercollegiate Rider of the Year. Sage, whose registered name is Indian Summer Sage, a Connemara/Thoroughbred cross, won the American Connemara Pony Society's 2018 Beginner Novice Connemara Pony of the Year.

While I am so sad for Sierra that it was their time to part, I was so honored to help her capture some sweet memories of their time together.

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Weekend Recap: 11/30-12/2

We had a fantastic first weekend in December! I actually managed to remember to take some pictures, so here we go:

I kicked it off Friday by taking pictures of Sierra and Sage. Friday was Sierra's last day leasing Sage, so she wanted to capture some sweet memories. I can't wait to post my favorites from the album I sent her!


Meet 288!

I pretty much knew all along that Harrison and I were going to get married, and that when we did I would move to Statesville. I'll write more on my thoughts on moving later, but it is both something that I just accepted and was excited for. Four years in college and away from the farm was about all Harrison could take!

Soon after we got engaged, we started thinking about where we would live. Enter 288.

Harrison's parents had a rental house that was occupied at the time, but that they would let us buy from them when the time came. After some discussion, Harrison and I determined that would be the best path for us to take... even though I had never seen the inside! We drove by it occasionally while their renters were still there and we even took some trees down ahead of time. When the renters left, I finally got to see the inside of the 1967 ranch-style brick house and I just knew that I needed to take some pictures so I could write about its transformation once we got started on it! 


Our Engagement Photos

I just realized I had never posted these here, even though we've had them over two months now!

We hired Rachel with Rachel Elisabeth Photography for our engagement and wedding photos. I had chatted with her over the phone, but Harrison and I met her for the first time when she came to his house for our engagement session. She is fantastic and the second I hugged her in the driveway, I knew that we had made the best choice! She was a trooper riding around in the truck to the locations we had in mind. It was HOT, but thankfully sweat doesn't really show up on camera!

Between the big, white plantation house that left us with serious The Notebook vibes, to the more dressed down cow pasture, we are so extremely happy with how these turned out! This is honestly only a small sample of the ones Rachel sent us, and it was so hard to narrow it down. The full album is on my Facebook!


Stronger Together

I haven't written about Hurricane Florence, mostly because I don't know what to say. What words can help you process the destruction of parts of your home state? What words can bring back the loss of property, memories, possessions, and, most importantly, life?

NC's coast fills a special place in my heart. I have been going to Emerald Isle at least once a year since I was born, typically more ever since I started driving. Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington have always been the go-to spot for day trips and shopping. I have favorite shops and spots. Seeing the places that have memories and stories tied to them destroyed is devastating. Parts of the Bogue Inlet Pier in Emerald Isle are gone. The Dockside Restaurant in Wrightsville was (and probably still is) underwater. Entire inland communities are flooded.

None of that heartbreak that I feel for the coast can compare to what the residents have experienced and are feeling. I have friends whose families stayed at the coast and rode it out. I know people whose families had to be rescued from the storm surge. I know of people whose crops and entire livelihoods are gone, just like that.

If there is one thing I've learned from this, though, it's that the spirit of North Carolinians is damn near unbreakable. We are capable of amazing things. We have an amazing country. Humanity removed from the political arena is alive and well and thriving.

To this day, cherry pickers and linemen are still heading towards the coast. I see them everyday on my commute.

I have seen parking lots full of rescue teams and first responders from close to HALF of the states in our country.

I have seen a hog farmer, whose farm was recently shut down because of complaints from neighbors, serving that same community in a swift water rescue situation.

I have seen restaurants serving volunteers and displaced residents, I have friends who volunteered all night and day at their local emergency operations command center, I've seen countless supply drives and fundraisers and animal rescues and acts of kindness.

While we may be broken, North Carolina cannot be destroyed, especially not by a hurricane. We are stronger together.

Image may contain: sky, cloud, ocean, twilight, outdoor, water and nature
Photo courtesy of Visit the Outer Banks


April & JD Engagement Photos

I had the opportunity to take some engagement photos for my grand-big, April, and her now husband, JD, back in mid-June! This was my first time taking engagement photos and I was SO nervous. I came armed with a stockpile of screenshots from Pinterest and whatever creativity I could muster. Luckily, this sweet couple made it SO easy on me! They were complete naturals and had so much fun together. Their joy was contagious!



One word that has been on my mind lately is "quiet." Have you ever truly noticed how much noise we're surrounded by on a daily basis? Currently, I can hear my co-workers chatting (yes, I'm writing this at work... whoops), the housekeeper vacuuming, and the music I have playing. Thank GOODNESS I grew up with two younger sisters and I can easily tune things out!


The Best Day

This past Sunday, Harrison and I GOT ENGAGED!!!!!!!! It truly was the happiest day and I am so blessed that the Lord allowed Harrison and I to cross paths at our huge university. Sometimes it seems so crazy that I found him out of 35,000 people, but sometimes it seems like we were just destined to meet. Our very first class (bright and early at 8:05 AM) on our very first day of college... we were in that huge lecture hall together. Biology 181. I don't remember ever seeing him because I was trying to be the "good student" and sat on the front row. I would have fit in much better with the group he sat with, considering I almost fell asleep every class. Our circles were never really that far separated and the luckiest day of my life was when they converged.

Our engagement was very "us" which makes it all the more special to me. I always told him that I don't want a public proposal- I just want us two, no photographer, even, so that we can just enjoy the moment with each other. He definitely took that to heart!

We were in Greenville for the weekend for Sarah and Justin's beautiful wedding and decided to go kayaking on Sunday. Harrison's dad had told us to check out Merchants Millpond State Park a few months ago, so we thought that there was no better time to go than Memorial Day weekend while we were closer that direction. We enjoyed a beautiful two hours paddling on the millpond. The pond itself is 760 acres and almost 200 years old. The black water is dotted with bald cypress and black gum trees... and the occasional alligator (although we didn't see one!).

After kayaking we had a picnic in the woods (see... very secluded and just us!). Over pizza and nachos lunchables, Harrison got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him! It was an incredibly special moment and we both are ecstatic for what lies ahead!


March in Pictures

I know we're not fully through with March yet, but I wanted to round up some pictures from the past 29 days to share what I've been up to this month! It's been a crazy, fast month... how is almost April already?! Also, March, you never fail me with the "in like a lion, out like a lamb" saying. You definitely came in like a lion (remember all the wind!?), and you managed to redeem yourself with 4 days left in the month- yesterday was 75, today is going to be 80, and Friday and Saturday will be above 65, too!

How can you not love these sweet faces?! Sailor has turned into quite the lap dog lately (I think all the puppy energy is about gone) and sometimes, when you catch them on a good day, you can find Lupin lounging with her.

 Alpha Gamma Rho celebrated their 99th anniversary on NC State's campus this month! The fraternity's colors are green and gold, and Founder's Day dinner just so happened to be on St. Patrick's Day, too, so it provided the perfect excuse to wear green (read: buy a new green dress)! I love when old friends are able to get together, and celebrating this organization that has provided so much opportunity is just an added bonus.

I made many a trip across the street from the building I work in to the coffee shop for an iced caramel latte (sorry, budget!). In my defense, March has been a hectic month!

Taken the same day as the picture of the coffee above... yes, I went to get iced coffee in the snow. March's weather was strange, to put it kindly. I wasn't going to complain about seeing a few more flurries this year, though!

I had a very unwelcome visitor in my bathroom one morning in the form of one of the insects depicted on that can- and it wasn't an ant. If there's one bug that I can't deal with, it's a roach. My mom can attest to that... she and Erin were audibly laughing at me while I was having a total meltdown on the phone. I bought this can of bug spray that afternoon and it has sat on my bathroom counter since. 

Can you tell that she basically thinks bath-time is water boarding?

Oyster roasts are one of my all-time favorite events- especially when the proceeds go to as good a cause as Ducks Unlimited! Harrison and I had a great time shucking oysters and supporting waterfowl conservation!

If there's one thing I can thank Sailor for, it's that she keeps us active. Exploring new trails is one of our favorite things to do. This one was at Lake Benson and Sailor was not a fan of the coots that were on the water.

I'm thankful for another fun, healthy, happy month in the books! I'm excited to see what April has to bring.


Undeniably Dairy

If you haven't heard, the dairy industry is having a pretty tough time right now. Milk prices that hung right around the $16 mark for the good part of last year all the sudden tanked around the first of 2018. During almost the entire month of February, the price of milk was at or below $13.50. That is a 14% decrease from the 2017 average. Currently, milk prices are around $14.

Dairy farmers get paid per hundred pounds of milk produced. Currently there is a huge supply of milk which is driving prices down. Many farms are struggling to make ends meet and some co-ops that purchase milk are sending letters with suicide hotline numbers along with the checks they are writing to their producers. You may have even heard of the contract cuts by Dean Foods. They ended partnerships with over 100 dairy farms (read: family farms) who now have until May 31st to figure out what to do with their milk or face going out of business. You can't just turn off milk production in a dairy cow. They keep producing and you keep milking, even if you have nowhere to send it.

That being said, there are ways to help support the dairy industry...

Put another gallon of milk in your cart. If you have the resources, consider purchasing more dairy products. If you don't finish it, pour it down the drain.

Consider switching to real dairy products if you are able. If you are drinking almond, soy, or other beverages (legally, they cannot be called 'milk!'), switch to the real thing! Dairy products are much more nutrient dense.

If you don't drink dairy (or even if you do), purchase some to donate to a food bank. Milk is often one of the most demanded items by food banks (because it is so nutritious!). Ask if your local food bank will take donations of milk, and if they do, purchase extra and drop it by. If you don't want to deal with all of those extra stops, you can donate online to The Great American Milk Drive.

Cook with butter. Who wants margarine, anyway!?

Go out for ice cream and drink chocolate milk. They are easily the best dairy products out there. Buy a gallon or a tub this week, or stop by your local ice cream shop or creamery for a treat!

Ask your local school district to bring back milk. Milk has disappeared from the lunch line at many schools. Bringing it back will restart that market!

And most importantly... do your research. If you see a shocking video or a scary statement, research all sides of it. Don't believe what PETA or other animal rights organizations have to say- they have an agenda. Don't believe what the misinformed people on Facebook have to say about what's really in your milk. Go to the source. Learn the processes. Incorrect information spread by fearful people will drag an industry down. Don't spread lies. Ask questions and learn.



I saw a quote recently that read: "Why do racehorses wear blinders? So they focus on their own race. We should learn to do the same."

The horse person in me wanted to say that there could be a myriad of reasons for putting blinkers on a horse, but essentially, that is correct. It is to keep the horse focused on what is in front of them. That quote resonated with me. We need to learn to focus on our own selves and our own lives and cut out comparison.

Galatians 6:4-5 says, "Let each person examine his own work, and then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else. For each person will have to carry his own load."

Let each person examine his own work. That is, focus only on what you are doing. Go about your work, or your choices, or your life living up to only your standards (or the standards that were set for you by work, etc.). Don't focus on what your coworker is doing at work or what your friend is doing with his or her life. Keep your eyes on the prize.

Then he can take pride in himself alone, and not compare himself with someone else. When you focus on your own goals and avoid getting caught up in competition, you can be proud of yourself because you know that you did it for you- not for anyone else. You worked hard to become president of a club because that's what fit your goals, not because it's what your best friend did and you need to be able to compare to her. You went a different route with your major because the career path you were heading down wasn't going to allow you to build the life you wanted and you didn't care what your classmates thought about it. Achieve what YOU want to achieve and what will propel YOU forward. Don't do something because everyone else is doing it. Don't seek the approval of your peers or competitors. As a servant of Christ, seek only the approval of the Lord.

For each person will have to carry his own load. When it comes down to it, you will have to answer for your own choices. When those friends drift away and you are on a path you don't want to be on, how do you explain that you are there because you followed the crowd? Because you had to keep up with the newest trends. Because you got distracted with what everyone else was doing and didn't finish your own race.

The shadows are distracting. The others around you will get you sidetracked. The spectators will scare you. Look forward. Stay your path. Put your blinders on. Your race is the one that matters. Your choices will define your life. Dig in and give your all to the goals you have set. Out of the gate it may look like someone else is so much further ahead, so much faster and stronger. But maybe they weren't conditioned the same. Maybe they were trained with short bursts of speed, whereas you were trained with long gallops to build stamina. Resist wanting to speed up and challenge them now. Let your race play out and do what you do best. Stick to the plan because it all works out in the end.

"Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2


March 2018 Goals

I haven't written about it here yet, mainly because I haven't written about much of anything here lately, but one of my goals for 2018 was to be more intentional and actually accomplish some of the things that I want to accomplish. I purchased the PowerSheets Goal Planner from Cultivate What Matters to help me achieve my goals. It has been a great tool so far in helping me prioritize what matters and get those things knocked out each month. I plan to write more about the PowerSheets system, but for now, I will share the goals I have set for March!

-Church 3x (pretty self explanatory!)

-Write in our notebook (Harrison and I have a notebook that we write notes to each other in. We try to swap it every time we see each other, but I have had it for almost 2 months now. Time to buckle down and actually get it back to him!)

-Phone-free date night (Harrison and I are forever going on dates (to us, a simple dinner out (or in!) is a date), but being intentional about listening to each other without distractions doesn't always happen. I want to make it a point to have dinner without our phones one night... maybe even leave them in the car!)

-Dinner at home 2x (getting home to spend quality time with my family is a priority this month)

-Take pictures! (I know this isn't a measurable goal, but I didn't want to set too many restrictions for myself. I just want to get back in the swing of using my camera and enjoying it.)

-Purge closet (cleaning my closet at home has been on my to-do list since I moved out... it is happening this month for sure!)

-Read 2 books (I have started The Defining Decade, now I need to finish it and pick up another!)

-Blog (checking off for this week!)

-3 workouts (after completing a free 10 day course, I signed up for The Balanced Life Sisterhood pilates membership... I want to do at least 3 of these workouts per week)

-Write the Word (when I purchased my PowerSheets, I also purchased a Write the Word Bible journal... I need to have an entry per week!)

-Meal prep (I eat so much healthier when I prep my lunches at the beginning of the week!)

-Mint (changed to Budget Updates) (I used to use Mint to budget, but I'm trying my own system now... I need to keep it updated each week!)

-4 walks with Sailor (it's good exercise for the both of us!)

-Close all 3 rings (this feature on my Apple Watch is a huge motivator for me to get moving!)

-Up at 6:20 (I can't say that getting out of bed early is one of my strong suits)

-Bed by 10:30 (neither can I say that going to bed early is either)

-No spending (definitely not feasible everyday, but it's a good reminder and being able to check that box off has prevented me from picking up everything in sight at Target a time or two...)

-3 cups of water (doesn't seem like a lot, but the cup I drink out of is 16 ounces, so it could be worse... it's a starting point for me because I am SO bad about drinking water)

That seems like a lot, but it is manageable when split up like it is. Some things take me all month, but some are only one-time! As you can see, I have already, on March 1st, gotten out of bed later than 6:20 and spent money. Little by little is the goal- not perfection! This has been a great lesson for me in extending myself grace.

Also, all of my goals are color-coded by the little dots beside them. Each little goal is tied to one larger goal that I set at the beginning of the year. I set 5, with a quarterly review coming up at the end of March. I already know some things that I want to adjust. This system has been life-changing so far, so I can't wait to get started on March's goals!


Snow What Fun

We had an incredible snow this time last week! It was short lived, coming Wednesday and being almost completely gone by Thursday night, but it was so beautiful. It started Wednesday morning around 10:30 and gradually picked up until it was snowing as hard as I can remember in recent years. It put down somewhere close to 6 inches in about 6 hours. The last time we saw such an amount of snow was my freshman year of college! NC State closed Wednesday and Thursday, so we found ourselves with a nice little break in the middle of what would have already been a 4 day week. 

I found it in me to be somewhat productive on Wednesday, but spent the rest of the day and Thursday going in and out to the dog park to let the pups enjoy it (the snow froze to Lupin's fur making him look like he was wearing boots!), drinking hot chocolate, eating comfort food, and watching movies. That made facing a full week this week so much harder!


Happy New Year 2018

Happy New Year from me, Harrison, Sailor, and our newest addition- Willy!

Taylor Jenkins. Design by Berenica Designs.