“You Got Served” Style Challenge from DineXDesign



Recently, my friend Kristin came down from L.A. for a quick visit, along with her overflowing box of mysterious props and delightful stylish pieces.  She started this fun challenge on her blog, DineXDesign, called “You Got Served”, which involves her showing up at your door with a box of styling pieces she pre-selected for you to play with.  In each challenge series, the same box and items are given to a few different people.  It’s fun to see the way each person styles the same items differently!  Kristin says she can often predict which items people will use, based completely on their gravitation toward things natural, like wood, or in other cases, toward statement pieces that are bright and bold

I was nervous to be a stylist for the day, as I mostly throw together and photograph our meals as they are happening in real time.  Kristin was kind enough to interview me about my style in the home, which you can read HERE.  I share which pieces I’ve got my eye on right now! You’ll also find some shots of me in my kitchen with my best concentration face.  She says SO many nice things about me that I don’t feel I deserve! (thanks for the sweet words, K! ;)).  Once you answer questions that force you to define yourself, you realize you have more intentionality in your creative process than you were aware.  Go to Kristen’s lovely and super-stylish blog, DineXDesign, to be inspired by her keen eye for design and ability to bring together things that make your soul sing with delight.  She’s a pretty great lady and I’m happy to know her in real life. ;)


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Comfort: Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

DSC_9093 copyChicken pot pie is one of my most favorite foods.  I have yet to hear someone say they don’t love flaky, buttery crust that leaks creamy sauce, chicken, and veggies when cut into.  I could eat it every week, but especially when I need some comfort food.  This post isn’t about me and my pot pie obsession though, it’s about bringing a little comfort and warmth to the new moms in our lives.

The sigh of relief that follows a new mom receiving a home-cooked meal is to be cherished.  It’s a privilege to come along side our friends and neighbors, with joy, as they begin their new life.  After almost 10 months of preparing, waiting, and hardly sleeping with a giant belly, their special day finally arrives.  The child is here.  For many, the days of giving birth never come and YET they experience the uncomfortable “pregnancy” of tears, paperwork, waiting, more paperwork, hope, and more tears.  They too have waited.  Finally, their day arrives.  The child is here.  Children come into our homes in many different ways.  What a joy to share with these families, the gift of food, as they greet their new children.

Below is the quicker version of this recipe, using phyllo dough instead of a homemade crust.  To make this faster, I like to have a jar of pot pie filling in the freezer ready to go with chicken, potatoes, carrots, peas, and onions  that have already been steamed and seasoned.  Then, I just have to defrost the jar and the phyllo dough, then make the sauce.

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 Chicken Pot Pie

For the filling:

1 cup cooked chicken, chopped (rotisserie chicken is fine)

1/2 cup carrots, chopped

1/4 cup pearl onions, leave whole

1/2 cup fingerling or red potatoes, chopped

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced (cremini preferred)

1/2 cup peas

sachet with thyme, whole peppercorns, and

For the sauce:

3 Tablespoons butter

3 Tablespoons flour

3 cups almond milk

1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

salt & pepper

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Capturing Childhood

agoldenafternoonkids2Childhood is precious.  These little ones have been given to us for such a short time.  We want to soak up these moments and keep them forever, right?

Every Mom has a different perspective on the best way to photograph their kiddos.  For me, the distant and quiet observing point of view is my favorite because I prefer not to interrupt my more intimate moments for a photo.  Think for yourself about which moments make you smile.  Do you smile most when you have a loved one in your arms?  Do you crack a smile from a far, soaking in all of the childhood joy exuding from your little ones. Whatever it is, remember…

When you take a photo, you are telling a story.

agoldenafternoonkids61.  Don’t be afraid to leave out a face.

This may not be our Grandma’s favorite shot.  She might think it’s weird that you see hands but no face, but I love the joy I feel from remembering a moment with my kids and the beautiful way they used their hands.   Chubby baby hands are a total bonus!  Don’t forget to include some open space (like the table space above) so that you give the action in the photo some room to breath.  Nobody like a crowded picture, right?


2. Capture the funny.

We all have those pictures of our kids being goofy and acting crazy for the camera.  Those moments always make for great pictures.  However, my favorite funny pictures are the one where they DIDN’T know they were being funny.  This picture of my son above reminds me of this time in his life when he didn’t know that a squishy round bottom in a cute pair of underwear made me chuckle quietly to myself every time I saw it (sometimes out loud).



3. Stand back with your camera. 

You don’t have to see the whites of your little ones eyes to capture the beauty in a moment.  Stepping away will help you gain a new perspective and therefore, an entirely new photo and memory.  The above


4. Black, white & low lights were MFEO (Sleepless in Seattle, anyone?).

You know those times you wants to remember but you realize it’s night, there isn’t much light, and the color ends up looking wonky when you snap a photo?  I totally have those too.  Those nights were meant to be black and white nights.  The contrast that is created in a photo when light meats dark can be extremely emotional.  The picture above, taken of my youngest son, was a scary and precious moment.  He had just received a shock from an outlet after sticking something in it.  While I was completely nervous about the cause and effect he had just discovered, it was one of the first times he seemed to understand the danger in being too curious.  He was actually scared from the sparks and jolt, which is the emotion we really want them to have in order to stay safe as little ones.



5. Let’s see it again.

I get asked all of the time if I pose my kids or create scenes just to take pictures.  Usually, my pictures are completely “in the moment” and organic, where I speak nothing and just snap a photo.  Other times, I might be having a conversation with my kids and they do something funny or something worth telling a story about.  In a few cases I say, “I love it!  Let me see that again!”, “Show it to me again and hold it up and to the side.” or “Do that dance again”.  The moments are happening, but when I feel the moment is worth preserving beyond just my memory, I ask the kids to do something again so I can capture it permanently.


6. Capture the ordinary.

A funny conversation amongst your kiddos, silly little dance moves, the way a toddler waddles like a penguin, a child reading their favorite book, the groceries all over the counter, a messy room, your morning oatmeal…

It’s important to remember the moments that make up our every day, however ordinary they may seem.




Travel: Southern Pacific Crest Trail

agoldenafternoon-121 copyThe Southern Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is always an exciting place to visit.  You will feel like you have one foot in the desert and one in the mountains.  On this particular visit last year, the trees had seen better days.  Fire had touched their weary branches, but you could still feel their longing to blow in the wind.  Parts of the land felt like you were stepping foot on a new planet.  Ash had mixed with the dirt to form a new kind of topography.  Yet, life-filled flower buds grew from this very burnt soil.  Remarkable how God brings life from death.  He’s good at that.

If you are wanting to hike the PCT with your kiddos, the best spot is directly across from the Laguna Campground.  There is parking on a few spots along the road.  We had little kids and older kids on this hike and they all did just fine with a snack and rest at the top (one baby was in a carrier).  The views are a tremendous reward for everyone!

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Simple Moments v. III


The heaviness of life can sometimes feel like you are being crushed.  We were reading about the water strider in science this week.  The author of the book was pointing out the delicate balance this insect has with the water he lands on.  His delicate body possesses just the right amount of weight to stay afloat on the water, without sinking below. The tension is RIGHT and NECESSARY between him and the water.  Without tension from below, he would sink and would be unable to find his daily food.  With extra tension from above, he would sink.  Isn’t that so with life?  We can feel the pressure being put on us  from above by guilt, sadness, loneliness, sickness, and fear.  Yet, please don’t forget that Jesus is holding us up so that we don’t sink below it all.  He is our delicate balance.  Oh, how I need to remember that truth when tensions are pressing from above. There is hope for those of us who feel like we are drowning.

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.”

Psalm 18:16-19





He’s got us.

This week, as I shared here, the kids and I have been surrounding ourselves with things that bring joy and healing. I’d love to share some of our moments this month, some usual and some special:

1. I love having this old door on which to spread around our planting supplies.

2. Our lemons are growing furiously.  Lemonade was calling our name!  Plus, the weather has been in the 80s and 90s so it was a welcome gift.

3. Becky and Jesse, our local SD photographer friends, came to do a fun photo shoot in our kitchen with the kids and I.  It’s always fun to do something out of the ordinary.  Plus, B & J are just good people. ;)

4. Spring is a couple of days away but our yard is blooming!  Here are some of the succulents in Faith’s old fairy garden.

5. I love goofy kid smiles.  You will find zero perfectly staged Olan Mills portraits on my walls.

6. Finally got to plant some seeds.  We are 2 months late for CA, but thrilled to have some started. Here’s hoping we can keep the MANY kinds of critters out this year!

7. Laundry can be pretty if you find a cozy spot and chase some golden light. I like to throw a little Ray on as well because his music always takes me back to slow summer days.

8. I had my last bite of cheese a weeks ago so I made it pretty and soaked every last bite in.  I remember telling a friend a few years ago that I would never be able to live without bread and cheese.  Now, here I am, without either, and I haven’t collapsed into a complete tearful mess…yet.

9. I’ve attempted so many new “pinterest-y” projects to make some learning more exciting and my children don’t seem to be interested in my efforts yet.  The project pictured is learning tally marks with popsicle sticks.  It’s supposed to help those more tactile oriented kiddos, which is how my youngest learns best.  The sticks kept moving too much, which Dean found frustrating.  I’ve shed some tears of discouragement but I will keep trying!

10. Another lovely friend, Kristin Guy of DinexDesign, came to visit and let me play around with a box of mysterious props for her “You got served” styling challenge.  So fun to play with some new things!  She has remained a sweet friend after we met at an Alt Summit conference a few years ago.  You can see my pictures on Kristin’s site here soon!

11. Seconds before I snapped this picture, I was watching a little hummingbird hover over those flowers.  There is so much beauty to be found.


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