30.3.12

Enjoy Instagram | 30 Days of April

"so it took an eight-year-old child to bring 'em to their senses...
 that proves something."
harper lee
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You don't have to look far to find a reminder that "it's the little things in life."  I don't know if it's a new era of internet, blogging mama's and Pinterest that has this sunny quotes more accessible, or if because of this new era of technology that we feel we need to be reminded so often.  

Maybe it's like a tall home? There are of course the monumental and symbolic floors of the house.  Graduation, marriage, children, the beginning of a particular career that took one's life a whole different direction, a significant move, buying a home, retiring. The big stuff. But the "little" stair steps that connect the floors are possibly more important than the floors themselves. 

The teachers, who day in and day out nurtured and taught you, the friends who built and destroyed you, the restaurant that hosted a first date, the outfit that won and the clothes that were left behind on the floor for the same first date, the first kisses and "I love you's" and realizations, the happy friends who are so excited to throw you a shower (and the one scandalous friend we all have the offends your grandmother every other sentence), the belly that grew slowly but surely, the first time you went shopping and saw baby clothes and couldn't resist buying something - even a pair of socks - for your own child inside you, the trips to Home Depot, the hard hard hard hours late into the night, the excited unpacking and arranging your own home, when "your song" comes on the radio, you find out a friend is dating a really (actually truly) good guy, your guests loved the meal you made, friends bring you meal after meal during hard times, that really really good book you finished, when you wake up and actually love your job on a random Wednesday in the winter, he texted you during the day just because you're on his mind, your mom helps you with the things only moms can help with, and finding good deals at the grocery store so you can pay your rent and your taxes on time.  

I'm passionate about caring for those little things because the big things would mean nearly nothing without them.  The things and stuff of life are often condemned as creating busyness, greed and selfishness.  Sure, of course they do sometimes.  But other times they are really, really good.  

"I thank Thee for the temporal blessings of this world - the refreshing air, the light of the sun, the food that renews strength, the raiment that clothes, the dwelling that shelters, the sleep that gives rest, the starry canopy of night, the summer breeze, the flowers' sweetness, the music of flowing streams, the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends. 


Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort. My cup runs over. Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies." (one of my favorite Puritan prayers.)


SO. As flowers bloom and light lingers longer we're going to share with each other little joys.  Each day in April will be focused on finishing this sentence: "Today I am enjoying __(verb)___ __(instagram pic)___." 



Hashtag #enjoyproject and include @imkristen_ so I can see your picture!

29.3.12

Enjoy Project | Making Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread


“how many slams in an old screen door? depends how loud you shut it. 
how many slices in a bread? depends how thin you cut it. 
how much good inside a day? depends how good you live 'em."
shel silverstein 
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When it comes to putting something into my mouth, I have three main categories: cheesy, carb-y and soup-y.  My main squeeze, however, has three different categories.  His nutrition heart beats to the rhythm of beef, sweets and sugar. And sweets.  If I fed him a hamburger on plain bread with a cool-glass-of-Coca-Cola! and chocolate cake for dinner every night... well, he'd never leave my company.  But, instead, I make him do crazy things - crazy cultured things and crazy budget things - like pad thai and Crying Tiger pork, and panini's with mustard wine cheese and lemon pepper pasta.  

Here's our issue: I don't like sweets, and I can't bake.  (Come on, when was the last time you had a chocolate fudge bars sprinkled with feta atop fettucine!) My cooking is a creative endeavor like writing or photographing.  It's not HARD LIKE MATH AND SCIENCE AND GRAPHS AND ALGORITHMS AND THOSE BIG FAT CALCULATORS.  People who like baking also probably like sudoku, graphing charts and flash cards. Don't you?  (Actually, don't answer that.  I just tell myself to soothe my soul. "You can't be creative AND bake. Those are the two kinds of people in the world, don't you know?")
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I don't bake.  I get clammy.  I start thinking about timed addition tests.  And long division.  There are so many bowls. So so many bowls.  And a lot of white things.  It intimidates me.  "Take this light sand and dark sand, mix it perfectly with goo and you'll have a cake!" I'd much prefer "Take this pasta and this chicken, and you'll have chicken in pasta!" For the sake of my dearest dude, I have tried to incorporate desserts into our menu more often.  I buy cookies on sale.  I bought an ice-cream maker and made awful peach-mint ice cream.  I even attempted a "sooOoo easy" coffee cake and my boy ate one slice. That is bad sign when this Sugar Monster is around.  If something is bad he usually pities me by getting seconds. One slice? Of cake? Ouch.

But guys. Guys.  I made Zoom Yummy's Cinnamon-Pull Apart Bread TWICE. It's truly the easiest thing.  And I'm being very serious when I tell you I followed her directions exactly. 
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She says to make a smiley face in the dough. On it.
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While you wait for the dough to rise, you can play with other rolls. (Get it? Bah'jing!)
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And I waited for the yeast to beat up the happy face.  Like Petra said to.
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Now, you can't squelch my inner dreamer and artist forever.  I decided (by choice) to roll my dough into a vision I had: the offspring of a polar bear and a large tortellini.  You'd have to be creative like me to understand.
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The shading represents the deep struggle the Polar Bear and the Large Tortellini fought through.  No one thought they'd make it.  (Some of you simpleton's may have thought I just poured too much cinnamon in the corner. Narrow minds.  The light represents hope! And a new dawn! And just ignore the knife... and the 350 degree oven of fire.
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Now we need to cut the dough into this handy dandy pull-apart pieces! Petra chose to roll her dough into a neat, long rectangle with rounded corners and she used a ruler (LIKE YOU DO FOR GEOMETRY HOMEWORK.)  When you have a magical eye like I do, you can just eyeball these matters.  Because it IS crucial that these dough squares are perfectly measured. Per. Fect. Lee. Mezj. Erred.
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Let's go in for the close up:
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Petra has the brilliant idea stack the perfection squares into perfection piles. I like to say that my cinnamon stacks are Monet inspired. 
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(See that little dough strip on the middle left of this image? I rolled it around in all the sugar and ate it after I shot this frame.)
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I wedged all the bread into the pan like she told me to.  
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I also accidentally shot this entire cooking-process in JPEG.  Worst.  This isn't exactly a shoot you can start over... But look at all the dough! Cuddling together like a pack of puppies.
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After I cooked the bread I dropped it onto a towel.  And then before the next frame could fire half the loaf was gone.  And I have no more pictures.  But go look at Zoom Yummy's blog!  She took pictures before she ate! 
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Can someone who can't bake please try to make this? It would make my life.  And take a picture of the finished product (unlike I did.)  And then send some to my Jay-Z (because I'm his "Beyonce"... get it?)

26.3.12

Enjoy Weddings | Sam + Emily | Newton White Mansion

the space between us now
will all work out for good somehow.
life takes patience,
and patience takes time,
but i can't get you off of my mind
dave barnes - adeline
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February 21, 2009 8:57 pm
SamBran: btw, my friend emily has become obsessed with your and lydia's blogs
she's mad at my for showing them to her. prime procrastination tool.
Me: haha aww that's cute. blogging is fun.
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We "all" (mostly Lydia and me) promised our good friend Sam that he was going to find a wife at Hillsdale College.  We just knew it.  Now, we were also convinced this wife would be a dumb blonde goof-ball that would drive him crazy.  
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The first time I ever knew Emily existed was on February 21, 2009. I was told she loved mine and Lydia's blogs. On March 23, 2012 Lydia and I (and Ellie!) shot Emily's wedding to Sam.  Today she is on the blog.
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I love Emily for Sam.  Sam is trivia-brilliant.  He knows a lot about a lot.  He's a reader, a thinker, a learner and a worker.  For a young guy this is good, but can also produce big heads.  Though I felt terrible for him (it really was the dumbest punishment ever) it did my heart a little good to see Sam sit through one detention our senior year of highschool.  Just to keep him humble.  Sam was my first friend as a baby (our mothers met when they were pregnant with us, and are still best friends to this day.) His family were like local cousins, or siblings that lived in a different home.  
Emily has softened him.  He's a gentler, kinder man thanks to her.  She's an incredibly capable, deep, good woman.  And not a dumb blonde ;) 
I felt like I was watching my brother get married on Friday.  If I had let myself I would have cried right on through that whole ceremony.  I've never seen Sam happier.  People say "Oh, they were so happy! They smiled all day long." No, I don't think you understand.  Sam smiled ALL. DAY. LONG.  He was smirking during prayers, grinning while singing worship songs.  Jovial, happy and sweet - I would never have called Sam "sweet."  He's sweet now. 
Emily's determination, patience, friendship and companionship is lovely. I love them together.  I loved their wedding.  I love how elegant Emily was and how gracefully she carried herself.  I loved being there.
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It was a happy day.
And I'm happy for you, kids. 
---


ps. For a little walk down memory lane, here is some old school I'm Kristen and my fat "big brother."
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Aaaand this is the day Lyds and I met Emily! She was in town but Sam had to work so we took her around muddy hills in a random neighborhood... and a pet store.  We've gotten better at hosting since then.
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22.3.12

Enjoy Weddings | Johnny + Kim | Small Little Church Wedding

there's nothing fancy about the way i love you
there's nothing you could not find in another man
but i love you as hard as i can
dave barnes - nothing fancy
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Everyone expected snow.  "It will be so magical." If not snow, everyone hoped it at least wouldn't be too windy.  "But the inside of the church is beautiful, so if worse comes to worse we'll do our best in there."
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This January wedding for childhood friends Johnny and Kim was dazzling.  The wedding was happy, quaint, genuine and tremendously precious.  Oh, and sunny - one might even have said "balmy" or perhaps "warm" at the right time.
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Kim is a mysterious person.  She is intellectual, deep and quite thoughtful, but she is also reserved and soft-spoken.  Her heart is big (like her eyes), but it is not worn on her sleeve.
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Kim is kind and not a flirt.  She is true and not gawdy.  But hidden behind her graceful, almost-ballerina-esque exterior, lies a cache of imagination and discovery.
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Johnny had the daunting but worthwhile task of chipping away at this beautiful mind, the adventure of capturing her tender heart.
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How do you go about, however, asking out your best friend?  The platonic, we'll-never-date, you're like my sibling, friendship that transitions to romantic relationship. Aaaah, that's a scary one.  The stakes are oh-so high.  The reward is oh-so great, but the risk is oh-so serious.  You could possibly lose your favorite person, or you could spend forever... with your very best friend. Whew.
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Johnny took his time.  Johnny prayed.  Johnny deepened their friendship.  Kim started to have that age-old "hmmm." Johnny still waited.  And when it was right, he asked her a question - a question that was sure to change his life one way or the other.
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And she accepted.  Their first date led to more dates leading a proposal to move mountains.
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Want to hear the proposal story?  It's a brilliant one.  Johnny and Kim packed their bags to go visit family in Virginia.  On the way to a family home, Johnny took a detour.  To the airport.
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"What is going on?!" Johnny kept his secret.  He kept his secret all the way until they landed.  Once on the ground, they rented a car and drove through the night: all the way to the Grand Tetons, Kim's favorite mountain range.
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Romantic, huh?  A surprise, whirlwind trip to your dream vacation.  Mmmyea.
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The two daring adventurers hiked and explored, and at the perfect crest with literally a view from a dream, Johnny asked his best friend to be his best friend all the days of their life.  With a marriage on the horizon (too much? haha) these two finished their romantic vacation and savored the newly-engaged bliss together.
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Up on a much smaller mountain, in a much smaller Maryland town, not many months later, there was a wedding for these best friends.
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Also, would the rest of my brides mind getting ready in this room?  I'm sure it wouldn't be inconvenient at all!
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I love these two side by side:
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I also love these two side by side:
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Though I will never love coldness, I will ever love crisp winter light.
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Johnny is infatuated with his bride. I've never seen a man so delicate with a woman before (especially such a tough, outdoorsy man!)
She's like his angel.
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Would you just love a sweet example?  I can do that.  I was taking portraits of Kim while Johnny watched from the side.
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Then all of a sudden! Completely unprompted he swooped in! And stole a kiss! And then faded back to the side.  It was adorable.  Kim blushed, I clicked away, and Johnny rocked on his toes.
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Good night, moon.
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I was obsessed with their tender body language.
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That right there is a man thrilled to be out of a suit, and leaving with his woman.  Ow ow!
He even lifted her into the car and set her in the seat.  I love it.
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