Rachel Wilkerson Miller Wandeleur Shoot

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

Lately, I’ve been toying with the idea of making my side hustle photography business official. This has been a long time coming, but with all of my efforts being put into the house, I haven’t really taken the time to put serious thought into something that could be a great thing for me. Although I’ve done a couple weddings here and portraits there, making this business official would definitely solidify a future for me and allow me to work with newer (and returning) clients. I would offer my photography services for both traditional (wedding, engagement, portraits, lifestyle) and fellow creative (bloggers, business owners, artists) clients. The wedding photography industry definitely intimidates me but if I start with as a small thumbprint and organically continue to grow in clientele and improve in photography, I am confident that I’ll find my place.

Ideally, I would love shooting styled shoots and lifestyle or styled food and product related photography as well. So over the summer, I’m going to do a LOT of planning, researching and portfolio building so I can turn this side hustle into something bigger and better. I’m also planning a big rebrand and redesign for this blog as well and I’m hoping I can integrate both the photography biz/portfolio and blog together. I’m aiming for all of this to be launched by January 2016.

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

So, speaking of photography, I had the opportunity to shoot Buzzfeed Senior Lifestyle Editor Rachel Wilkerson Miller last week for a feature on Wandeleur, a Chicago-based lifestyle website for those who aspire + inspire. I was really excited about this project because A) huge fan of Buzzfeed here and to photograph and meet someone who works there would be awesome and B) it would actually be my first assigned shoot in NYC. Fun!

Wandeleur_Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

I met Rachel at the Buzzfeed test kitchen/apartment (a seriously naturally lit, gorgeous apartment that had Rachel and I thinking #lifegoals) and began shooting a series of lifestyle-related shots. Rachel mentioned in her feature that she loved arranging fresh flowers, so that was a natural element I wanted to capture. I also wanted to show a few elements of her desk accessories and the Buzzfeed site as well.

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

 

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

 

Rachel Miller Wandeleur Feature

It was so great to pick up my camera again and shoot something other than food! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for my photography business.

Mother’s Day

ProFlowers

ProFlowers

Although I’m not a mother yet (unless you’re counting fur babies!) I’m blessed to have known several women that have made a huge impact on who I am today. These women have shown me qualities that I’m hoping to instill when I enter motherhood. So when ProFlowers approached me to help celebrate every mom, I knew I wanted to send these special ladies a token of my appreciation.

My Mother's Day

First of all, to my own mother, Suzanne. I’m not exactly sure how my words can make up for the last 26 years of my life, but just know you have impacted me heavily and I see so much of you in myself! We joke all the time that we’re the exact carbon copies of each other, down to our personalities and even our temperament, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ve always shown compassion, reassurance, and patience and have always been extremely helpful in whatever situation arose. You have no idea how much I have leaned on you when and since dad passed away- throughout grieving, acceptance and moving on to helping me immensely with flipping the home, I honestly could not have done it without your physical help or your mental reassurance (if I had a dollar for every time I’ve sat down and unloaded my stress on you and asked you if I was doing the right thing, I think we would be millionaires!) I admire your dreams and your will to push through to get to your goals in life and I am proud to call you my mother.

ProFlowers_001

To Kristina, my lovely battle buddy- I honestly think us being roommates while deployed to Iraq was the best thing to ever happen. Not only did it really solidify and grow our friendship, it also showed me what true friendship is. Often times throughout life, you have to take a moment to reevaluate your friendships and ask yourself honestly if your friends are truly your friends and not simply more than acquaintances- but I’ve never had to do that with you at all. Although we were once roommates and in the same unit, we’ve been separated by many states now for a few years, but our friendship has never wavered. Life happens and months could go by without talking but we always pick up right where we left off. One of my many favorite memories of you is always coming to visit you in your office whenever I was having writer’s block (or I just wanted to socialize) and going through care package after care package looking for snacks (and the many notes you left on my door while I was on leave!)  You always have a smile on your face even if you’re going through something difficult and your strength and determination is admirable. Baby Faylinn is adorable and congrats on your second budding bun in your oven! Can’t wait to see if it’s a boy or girl.

My Mother's Day

To Lasima (which is so weird for me to call you by your name-even though we’re way past military structure nowadays, I still call you Packett!) You are literally one of the strongest women I know. You have faced adversity numerous times but have always persevered with strength and the ability to keep going even when it’s hard. You’ve really shown me what it looks like to put your all into your work and family, doing the right thing when no one’s watching and always putting quality over quantity in whatever task you handle. Even when you’re swamped at work, you always make time to put your family first and you’re always making an activity family-related. You’ve taught me when it’s time to say no to things and to stand up for what is personally right for me and what I believe in. It was such a pleasure serving with you and I’m so happy that you’re a part of Jay and I’s lives, even from across states! I hope to reflect what you’ve taught me both in my work and family structure.

How have the mothers in your lives impacted who you are today?

*Thanks to ProFlowers for sending myself and these lovely ladies these beautiful bouquets*

Vintage Record Player Turned Bar Cart

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

I’m so excited to finally share the transformation of this vintage record player turned bar cart! If you’ve been following me on Instagram for a while, I’ve shared snippets of it’s progress off and on.

I found this old record player stashed away in a dark corner of the basement of the house I’m currently flipping and knew immediately I wanted it restored. Although at the time it was super dingy, I knew after a little TLC (and a lot of woodworking!) it could become my new staple entertaining piece that I’d keep for generations to come.

All I know about the record player is from its label “Stradivara, Known For Tone.” Although I have seen some players from the same name around the internet, I have YET to find this exact one and I have no idea what date it could be from… My estimate is at least around 1920s-1950s. If anyone has that information though, please let me know!! I’d love to find out more about it’s origin.

Let’s take a look at this record player in all of its original glory:

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

Pretty great right? Thankfully, I had the help of the ladies at Wasted to help with this transformation. Dawn and Jess, the duo behind Wasted, believe that just about everything can be recycled, re-purposed and re-loved, so I knew they were the perfect team to help me out with this project. Here’s the low down on what was fixed to turn this vintage record player into the bar cart I dreamed of:

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

• I had two first thoughts- where to keep the bottles of liquor and where to stash the wine. Thankfully, this piece is huge and there was enough space to have two separate locations to keep different types of alcohol. I envisioned the liquor bottles going on the top-middle space of the cart, along with other trinkets. To achieve this, Dawn and Jess removed the top door and record player piece (I did keep the top door though just in case- which was also painted black.) The wine storage was a lot trickier but thankfully, it could be done. The girls replaced the slanted pieces in the center with custom-built wine holders, perfect for 12 bottles of wine.

• My next thought was additional storage for glassware. Dawn and Jess added shelving on both sides of the cart behind the doors.

• Black and gold will forever be my favorite colors and match my home decor perfectly, so detailing the bar cart in these colors were a no brainer. The girls painted the cart black and added gold to the feet and hardware of the cart.

• Additional woodwork: where there were once two big empty circle spaces now is additional space on top of the cart for trinkets, drinks and bottle storage.

• Elements I kept: Although this cart underwent a big transformation, I wanted to keep a few elements of it’s former self. Keeping the “Stradivara- Known For Tone” label was important, as well as the old record player handle on the right side.

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

I am SO SO pleased with the turn out of this bar cart. I still can’t believe it started out as a vintage record player collecting dust in a dark and dingy basement. I really couldn’t have done it without Dawn and Jess at Wasted- be sure to check out their other work  and send them some love!

I can’t wait to continue filling up this cart! As you can see, I still have eight more spaces left for wine and I need to add liquor bottles to the top. Since it’s currently in Iowa at my mom’s apartment though, I’ll wait to do that until I get it in my own home back in New York.

Are there any pieces that you’ve restored currently in use in your home?

ALSO- I ALWAYS ALWAYS make an effort to spell check my posts but I can’t believe that I forgot to cross my ‘T’ on my “Life Is Beautiful” water color sketch… So, here’s to hoping no one notices!! I’m hoping you’re all so entranced by my bar cart transformation that you didn’t notice the written typo! Guess it’s time for a glass of wine.

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

This amazing before and after bar cart transformation is one to remember!

30 Minute Pasta Verde

Pasta Verde 01

Throughout my military journalism career, one of the big jokes/lessons I heard over and over was to never start an article by mentioning the weather. Well hey,  I’m breaking that rule today because seriously I am SO happy with spring finally being here! Who’s with me?

All this wonderful T-shirt weather has me excited for fresh spring produce and the beginning of outdoor market season. I love that spring is the time where we start to transition from heavier dishes to lighter and fresher meals (at least in my household)-. I loved being held down by a warm and hearty soup in the winter, but those days are over! Bring on the light but satisfying salads with fresh avocados, bring on the sweet and tangy lemonades and cocktails!

Pasta Verde

Not only are fresher foods pretty tasty, most of the foods are also on the lighter side and are easier to whip up. This is one of the reasons why I love this 30 minute pasta verde.

Pasta Verde

Although it seems like there’s a lot going on here ingredient and step wise, it’s actually quite simple and goes pretty quickly if you make sure you have everything placed and ready before you begin (a phrase called Mise en Place.) This 30 minute pasta verde dish is great as a side at your next summer barbecue or dinner party at home.

I love that it could be served warm or cool, and that it packs a flavorful punch while maintaining a light texture. Also, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love the color!

Pasta Verde

This is kind of an afterthought, but I think adding some baked or grilled chicken or bacon would compliment this dish nicely if you prefer some meat. Let me know if you try it- I think I might next time I make this dish!

Pasta Verde

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No More Rainy Day Hair Styled Shoot

No More Rainy Day Hair styled shoot

Part of being a blogger and photographer is expanding your knowledge and getting out of your comfort zone. As some of you might know, photographing food is definitely my comfort zone. I’ve been itching to branch into styled shoots and getting back into portrait territory- of the human form! I have to admit it’s been a little difficult to balance blogging and photography when my big project and main priority is finishing the house flip, but I take opportunities where I can and am thankful that I’ve been able to do what photography shoots have come my way (and for the people who believe in me!)

So when Maritza of Beauty for Bloggers approached me to photograph her latest hair tutorial, I definitely accepted the opportunity. It was perfect actually- I was in Iowa doing house flipping duties anyways, and Chicago was only a drive away. I’d been following Maritza and her crazy cool hair tutorials for a while and I was so excited for the opportunity to connect outside of the internet.

The concept of the hair tutorials was to show that your style doesn’t have to suffer during a downpour. Maritza styled the hair of Katie of Little Black Blog, Rachel of RD’s Obsessions and Emily of Isn’t That Charming. I loved working with all of these blogger babes and really learned how styled shoots work- it really takes a lot of collaboration and planning but I think the results came out great (Camille Styles thought so too!) I hope to see more styled shoots in my future and hope to collaborate with more bloggers in the future!

No More Rainy Day Hair

Katie’s hair tutorial featured the cutest upgrade to a ponytail I’ve seen (I mentioned to her she had Jasmine hair!) See Katie’s hair tutorial here.

No More Rainy Day Hair

Rachel’s tutorial works best with longer hair and would be perfect for wedding season too. See more of Rachel’s hair tutorial here

No More Rainy Day Hair 4

You’d never guess how easy Emily’s tutorial was. This hairstyle would be a great way to transition from rain to work. See more of Emily’s hair tutorial here.

It was such a pleasure to work with all these ladies! Blogging truly is a small world so I hope to work with them again!

No More Rainy Day Hair

No More Rainy Day Hair