Thursday, May 30, 2013

Packing For A Weekend Away With Baby

Echo likes to help pack
This weekend I will be photographing a wedding out of town and the lovely bride I am working with was kind enough to invite my husband and baby to the wedding as well so I don't have to be away from them! Since becoming a parent packing has turned in to a 2 day event, I miss the days when I just threw a few clean pairs of underwear in a backpack and took off! Here is a list of what I'm packing for baby Echo. Hopefully it will prove helpful for those of you who will be traveling with your little ones in the near future. 

1. Travel baby shampoo and a little washcloth. This is for Echo's nightly bath. We started doing these in an effort to get her to sleep more. She has been a really bad sleeper from about 4 months to now (8 months) but over the past week she has been sleeping better and better! I don't know if it's the baths or the fact that she recently started crawling but I don't want to take any chances and mess things up now that she's finally sleeping through the night. Therefore we will continue nightly baths while we're on our trip.

2. Swaddle blanket. Another sleep aid that we can't do without. I know it's unusual for an 8 month old to be swaddled at night but my daughter CAN'T sleep without it! I asked the pediatrician and she said I can swaddle her for as long as I want as long as it helps her sleep. So for my own well being the swaddling will continue for as long as possible.

3. Sippy cup. Echo just loves her sippy cup, it has a fun rubbery tip that she likes to chew on and drinking water in the car helps to keep her from fussing.

4. Plenty of toys. Again, this is to entertain her in the car. We will only be going 3 and half hours away but she does not like being restrained in her car seat so the toys will help distract her (we hope).

5. Snacks! I have this great set of bowls with suction cup bottoms (making them impossible to tip over) and lids that I use for packing all her snacks. This bowl contains chopped watermelon. I'll also be packing bowls of sweet potato and mango, some of her current favorite solid foods.

6. Books. Echo is finally at the age where she enjoys looking at books instead of chewing on them (although she still likes to taste them too!). Her favorites are the kind that have different textures in them, she enjoys feeling the different pages, especially the furry ones.

7. A big blanket to play on. Echo is a crawling machine these days and wants to have lots of space to move around. There aren't a lot of great places to crawl at rest areas of roadside gas stations so I wanted to have a portable area she could move around on and stretch her legs. This lovely quilt is a baby gift from my friend Maru over at Mursaki Creates  and it is both beautiful and durable.

8. Lots of clothes. This time I packed some dresses for the rehearsal dinner and  wedding she will be attending but I also packed lots of play clothes since I know she won't want to wear the dresses for long. Sadly since she started crawling dresses are pretty much a no go but she looks so cute in them that I want her to wear one at least for a little bit. Also since she is eating so many solid foods now her outfits get dirty quickly. Lots of outfit changes might be a necessity.

Not pictured are plenty of diapers, wipes and pacifiers. You know, the obvious stuff.

Echo isn't too sure about this whole road trip thing
I'm so very excited about the wedding this weekend and hopefully Echo will think the car trip is worth it once she gets to try the wedding cake :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Let The Baby Proofing Begin!

Echo against the new fabric we put up to keep her from falling out of the loft ;-)

Echo has been getting increasingly mobile over the past few weeks and although she isn't technically crawling yet she is so close! In spite of the fact that she isn't exactly making the crawling motions she still manages to scoot, wriggle and pivot her way around the room. You can seriously look away for a minute, look back and she'll be five feet from where you left her. This has necessitated the beginning of our baby proofing efforts. It's a day we both looked forward to and dreaded. While we are excited at Echo's continued development our house is a baby proofing nightmare and we have so much to do! Here is what we've started with so far. 

A small portion of the cords we removed from the loft.
 Echo has lately developed a fascination with cords and wires of any kind, yikes! Any cord she can get her hands on goes directly in her mouth for chewing, this obviously had to stop. Since we spend most of our family time in the loft where the carpet is easy for her to play on we had to really re-examine the space. You see, the loft is also where our computers and tv live. Eric spent a good part of the day yesterday reworking as many of our electronics as he could to be wireless, allowing us to remove a lot of the wires and cables. What we couldn't remove got tucked away either up under a desk or under the edge of the carpet.

The loft seen from below

One of our big worries in baby proofing was the railing in our loft. It has widely spaced rungs that would be easy for her to slip though. At the same time this area is highly visible when you first walk in the house so we wanted it to be somewhat attractive still. We purchased three yards of fabric on sale at Ikea and used a heavy duty staple gun to fasten it to our railings. It's up there so well now that there's no way she can tear it down and it keeps us from worrying about her falling through.

Newly cleaned and organized loft
We also spent some time generally de-cluttering and cleaning the loft, the less random junk we have laying around the less there is for her to get in to. It already looks so much nicer without all the clutter that tends to build up in a highly used area. I just hope we can keep it this nice!

Still to come are baby gates at the tops and bottoms of the stairs and child safety locks on the cabinets and drawers. On top of that we still have to baby proof the rest of the house! This baby thing sure is a lot of work! Good thing she's so cute ;-)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brown Butter Sage and Sausage Penne

My herb window box that I planted on the back deck has exploded this Spring. It's worked out great because it is so near the kitchen and gives me a ready supply of oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. I use most of those herbs regularly but I can't say I cook much with sage (although I do enjoy the flavor) so I was racking my brain to come up with something to use it in. Most recipes I recall using sage in are very Fall oriented and I was looking for something good to make for Spring. Luckily I recalled that sage and butter are a match made in heaven and I came up with this tasty pasta dish! It is fantastic with a glass of wine, yum!


1 stick plus two tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 onion sliced
1/4 cup sage chopped
2 links Italian sausage
Goat cheese crumbles to top
1 pound cooked penne

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and onions and cook until the solids in the butter separate and start to turn brown (the onions will also start to caramelize and brown). Add the chopped sage and cook 2 to 3 more minutes, remove from heat. In the mean time, remove sausage from casing and brown in a skillet. Stir the cooked sausage in to the butter sauce and toss with the pasta. Top with crumbled goat cheese or grated parmesan. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Garden Updates

It's been a while since I posted updated photos of my garden. Every now and then I like to put on my macro lens and take some close ups of the things I have growing, I always think they are so pretty!It's been another learning year with some successes and some failures. With the way our trees have grown in I just don't have enough sun to grow some things with the garden in it's current location. I may look in to changing this next year or I might just stick to growing things that can tolerate some shade. Anyway, here's what I have going on in the garden this month.


Cherry tomatoes 

Wax beans

Swiss chard

Cayenne peppers




Bush beans

I have a lot of things in the works but not a lot ready to harvest yet. I did get a decent sized radish crop and I've already harvested most of my beautiful lettuce for salads. Looking forward to trying some of my veggies that will be ready latter in the season!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gibbs Gardens

Entryway to the gardens

This week I had the pleasure of exploring Gibbs Gardens with my family on a beautiful Spring day! I don't usually write travel posts on this blog because the focus of it is the home but for attractions around the Atlanta Area I make an exception. Gibbs Gardens are located in Ball Ground, GA near Big Canoe and it took us about an hour to get there from Marietta.

The gardens have the largest fernery in the nation as well as 24 ponds, 32 bridge crossings and 19 waterfalls

The gardens only opened last year and include 220 acres of public gardens. The property is owned by Jim Gibbs and his home is on the grounds, he also has an additional 72 acres which he plans to develop in the future. We actually ran in to Mr. Gibbs during our visit and he was lovely, he invited us to sit on the rockers on his front porch and take in the sites. We also got to visit with his amazingly friendly cat who hopped right up in our laps much to Echo's delight.

Echo enjoying her visit to the gardens
 The grounds include a fernery, rose gardens, waterlily gardens, daylily gardens as well as gardens dedicated to crape myrtle, daffodil, hydrangea, rhododendron, azalea and a sculpture garden depicting Mr.s Gibbs' grandchildren at play.
Japanese maples 

One of the many garden statues

The Manor House, the Gibbs family lives here on the property
 One of the things I thought was really cool about This place is that you can actually walk around the owner's home and in our case we even got to meet him. All they ask is that you don't peak in the windows but you are welcome to enjoy their rocking chairs or sit by their pool. The walk to the manor house is lovely and winds gently up hill but you can also take a tram up there if you aren't up for the incline.

Another view of the house

Gibbs Gardens are also home to the largest Japanese gardens in the country. They've mixed in Japanese plants with Georgia native plants so the overall effect was less Japanese than I was expecting but they have a number of interesting statues and beautiful water features.

Japanese gardens 

Exit from the Japanese gardens

A replica of Monet's bridge. I'm told it's more impressive when the waterlilies are in bloom
Overall the gardens were enchanting and such a pleasant day trip. We sped through them in about 2 and half hours but I could have taken a lot longer if I had lingered more. This is definitely a worth while day trip for anyone in the Atlanta area.

Monday, May 6, 2013

April Photos

April was a busy month for my work wise. I had an engagement shoot, a maternity shoot, some product photography and was gearing up for a wedding the first weekend in May. As a result I didn't take many personal pictures. This tends to happen when I am busy with photography work, my for fun photography goes out the window. Oh well, Perhaps May will give me a little more free time for picture taking. In any case, here are some photos I did manage to snap in April. 

Baby goose taken while I was on an engagement shoot. 

Kitler! Also taken on the engagement shoot. 

Picnicking in Piedmont Park

Marietta farmers market

Marietta farmers market

Getting coffee in Marietta at Cool Beans

Getting coffee in Marietta at Cool Beans

Echo trying to grab my camera

Sleepy kitties

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Our Decision To Unschool

Eric and I spend a lot of time talking about how we want to raise our children. It's been one of our favorite pastimes since before we were even married. I'm lucky to be married to a man who is openminded enough to embrace a radically different form of education than what most people are used to and he is kind enough to listen to me ramble on about it on a regular basis. Even though Echo is nowhere near school age we discuss her education at great lengths and have a pretty cear idea of how we want things to go. I was raised with an educational philosophy known as unschooling, a form of home schooling that most people aren't familiar with. I had such a positive experience with unschooling and after my experiences with the public school system when I was student teaching, I am positive this is how I want to raise our daughter.

This is such a huge topic and one I don't often go in to detail with people about. Of course once you get me going I won't shut up about it :-) The heart of the unschooling movement is centered around the idea that children are natural learners. They love to build, explore, create and learn, in fact they are positively joyful about it. When I tell people I was home schooled I'm pretty sure than many of you picture me sitting at a desk in front of a blackboard while my mom spouts off facts about history and math. This image could not be further from the truth. With unschooling there are no scheduled lessons, no memorization, no drills, no tests and no grades. There are no "school days" because every day and every hour are opportunities for learning. We don't take Summers off and we don't take attendance. Basically we embrace the idea that we are all learning, all the time, and by following our natural curiosity and interests we eliminate the need for structured schooling.

This idea sounds pretty radical to most, can you really do that? I'm sure I would be skeptical too if it weren't for the fact that I lived this way until my college years. I have to give my mother credit for her tremendous courage in choosing to unschool my brother and I at a time when even the legality of homeschooling was questionable. She had no way to know that this crazy idea would work other than her own conviction that this was the right choice for her family. I used to worry that I wouldn't measure up with my traditionally schooled peers but my mother had never ending faith in my intelligence and ability to learn. Now both my brother and I hold advanced degrees and and are happy and successful members of society. Clearly our unschooling didn't put us at a disadvantage. In fact I feel that it was quite the opposite. Through unschooling we became intrinsically motivated, enthusiastic learners and we still love to learn to this day. We also didn't have to waste any of our precious childhood cramming for pointless tests that we would forget as soon as they were over. We were allowed to be children and explore, read and experiment with vigor and gusto. We pursued things that mattered to us and delved deep in to the subjects that interested us most.

I wouldn't presume to say that this is the right choice for everyone and I respect others feelings and choices about their own children's education. However I hope this will give some of you a better understand of where I am coming from and maybe open your eyes to a new way of thinking about education. I'm so grateful that I was raised this way and that I will be able to give my children the benefits of an unschooled education.