A little throwback Valentine’s Day love from a few years ago. This was part of a little shoot we did to make a card for Olivia’s class. Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

And a quote I found on Pinterest that I love. Wish I knew who to credit it to but I don’t!


“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living:
simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid;
each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid.”
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

When I was about Olivia’s age (around 11), my parents went in search of a home in the Outer Banks. They purchased a cozy little cottage and we spent our first night there in sleeping bags on the floor while a northeaster raged around us and sent the house bobbing and weaving in the wind. The house decorating began with antique items inherited from a great aunt – the goods lovingly trucked across Kentucky and Virginia to make their way to the beach.

Eventually mom and dad tacked up a handmade sign out front with the words “Sea Country” stenciled on it. With all the country-themed furnishings, it made total sense. An old wooden rake hung on the wall, a tractor seat was spray painted and held fruits and snacks, and perhaps the strangest but most talked about, a large antique meat grinder stood watch at the end of the bright yellow kitchen counter. My favorite is the large lone star quilt made by a family member that they “framed” and hung in the den. Mom painted little odds and ends for the house – a sandpiper for one room, a hand-painted milkcan-turned-table. And lest you think the current mason jar trend is new, mom furnished the house with mason jars to drink out of over 30 years ago. (Not as successful, the bright red tin mugs. They get HOT when you fill them with coffee!)

The little beach house was never a typical beach house – but rather a warm, cozy spot to relax and get away.

And I do mean get away. The house didn’t have a TV until one summer a few years after they’d started renting the house in the summer — a rental family apparently went out and purchased a TV (and even had cable installed). Mom and dad caved and let the TV stay. At the end of another summer rental season they discovered that someone had phone service turned on and a telephone sat proudly on a side table. Again, they caved, but it was around that time that they stopped renting it through an agency.

My parents invited my friends and we’d spend entire weekends giggling in the bunk beds in “my” room while my parents – wise ones – got to relax.  One winter we stayed there nearly every weekend while they oversaw the construction of a larger, more modern home a few miles down the beach road. That fancier, modern home served as a meeting spot for a large family reunion, and a few other fun weekends, but it wasn’t long before they put it on the market and we went back to weekends in the cottage. Mom said the cottage was her favorite; no doubt because she’d given it so much time and love.

My parents don’t get down to the house much anymore. They’re somewhat housebound and don’t travel like they used to. My sisters and I are thankful that they’ve kept the house – so far – and we’re hopeful that it stays in the family. We have each continued our own family traditions – one sister’s husband loves fishing for hours a day, another sister loves spending time at the Yellow House Gallery and taking advantage of the off-season 10 cent shrimp happy hours!

Steve, Olivia and I are continuing the tradition of shopping at the Ben Franklin store nearby and making day trips to the lighthouses. And there’s nothing like the sleep you get in the Outer Banks. Last year we went on an adventure to see the wild ponies in Carova – which I highly recommend. We don’t get to the house as much as I’d like, but I love that when we do, time slows a little bit. We spend more time talking, laughing, reading and swinging on the front porch. And we come home with clothes that smell uniquely like the cottage – a combination of antique wood and salt that takes me back to that house every time I catch a whiff of it.

I wanted to preserve Sea Country and the memories we’ve made there. After the recent snow I wanted to capture a few shots of snow on the Outer Banks, too. I shot these photos on film – the warmth and imperfection of film was perfect to record this space and time in our lives.

Technical notes: These are shot on a Contax 645 with a 2.0 Zeiss lens and Kodak 800 Portra film.

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Yes, that’s a little patch of snow sitting next to the steps in the left photo.2014-02-07_0002 2014-02-07_0005 2014-02-07_0006

Mom went through a red phase. Thus, the red carpet throughout the house.
She purchased red towels, too, and we discovered the hard way that the red dye never, ever completely washes out of red towels.2014-02-07_0004 2014-02-07_0007

Dad collected and fixed watches and clocks – you’ll see clocks pop up throughout the house.2014-02-07_0010



Mom painted the sandpiper to the right and glued the shells on the mirror, too. 2014-02-07_0011

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The “art” framed in the photo to the right says “The Pot Hole” – which is what I called my “Port Hole” art drawn as a child.
Only a mother would frame such art and hang it in the bathroom of a beach house!
(The cow’s head towel holder is one of my favorite things in the entire house.)2014-02-07_0012


All good beach houses must have a selection of well-worn beach reading, including selections by Pat Conroy and Anne Rivers Siddons.


One of the things I love about the house is the beautiful light that warms all of the rooms – even with the dark paneling.2014-02-07_0013 2014-02-07_0015

Love the wood on this Jenny Lind bed.


Mom even turned a collectable tin cracker box into a lamp.2014-02-07_0014

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Mom framed a reprint of the Virginian-Pilot from the day that the Wright Brothers flew in Kitty Hawk.

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We stopped at the Knotts Island Ferry stop in Currituck for a few more photos.

Snow on the shoreline of the Currituck Sound.



Ice next to the ferry.2014-02-07_0027

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Have you ever just looked at someone and thought, “I really love you.”
They’re just talking or humming or watching a movie or reading a book or laughing or something,
and there’s something about them in that moment that makes you think, “I just really love you.”

I grew up in Virginia Beach and I know how small of a world this area can be. So when Jackie contacted me about engagement photos and said, “I think we went to elementary school together,” of course I believed her.  As we were catching up, we realized we still have many friends in common. Jackie shared with me that she was newly engaged to an incredible man named Alex. A man she hadn’t really planned on meeting but who had swept her off her feet anyway. A man she calls “Big Sexy.” I love it!

As you can imagine, their session was so much fun. It was a crisp fall day and Olivia went with me to assist since we were shooting close to home. We shot at a couple of locations and they changed clothes in between.  I decided to focus their blog post on this portion of the session because it’s so dreamy and romantic and a beautiful fall location. And fun. It’s evident that Jackie and Alex love one another deeply and also love having a good time together. Alex is a prankster and joker but also an old-school romantic. I love seeing Jackie’s Facebook posts about the things he does for her, her son and for others. Last week he was out shoveling snow for neighbors and today he sent her roses.

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Are you looking for a Virginia Beach engagement photographer? I love working with couples to create unique sessions in beautiful locations. See more of my engagement and couple photography sessions and contact me if you’d like to talk more about your engagement session!

Maternity portraits that combine the use of my Virginia Beach home studio and the many beautiful natural outdoor areas nearby are a beautiful way to capture a pregnancy and all the excitement surrounding it. A huge thank you to this couple who gave me permission to share both their more intimate maternity boudoir style home studio images and their outdoor couple’s portion of the session. I love Lauren’s maternity style – particularly the way she used the headpiece (from Urban Outfitters!) and the way her peasant-style blouse moved in the wind.

I’m thankful we had warm weather that day for their outdoor shots – we’ve had such a roller coaster of weather that you never know what you’ll get. We trudged through some very damp areas in the field but it was definitely worth it to capture the winter afternoon light.

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Interested in a maternity portrait session? Thinking about a combination of maternity boudoir and traditional maternity style images? I happen to specialize in that very combination. :) Contact me today about scheduling your very own session to capture this once-in-a-lifetime moment in your life. I would love to talk with you about how we can create a session you will love!

So. Thanksgiving table decor. Yep, I’m going back in time for this one. We hosted Thanksgiving for the family this year. I started pinning things to my Thanksgiving board on Pinterest way back in September and began planning a white, gold and lace themed look.

A week or so before Thanksgiving my father had a stroke. We spent as much time as possible with him and his rehabilitation center became a second home of sorts for my family during his recovery period there. Thanksgiving was a touchstone of sorts for creating a new normal. My sister who lives in South Carolina joined us for the first time for the occasion and helped me cook and cook – such a blessing. We gathered together and enjoyed the relaxation time before piling into cars and heading out to visit dad. His reaction to seeing all of us and eating the tasty meal we took him was something I’ll never forget. He can’t say a whole lot but sometimes his actions and smiles speak miles more than words could.

So without further ado, here’s my Thanksgiving tablescape!

All flowers provided by Marissa White DiGirolamo at Studio Posy – please, please go see her when you need flowers, an arrangement, a wedding bouquet, etc. She’s absolutely amazing. I emailed her a photo of what I had in mind for my main table and she made it come to life – and even prettier than the photo I’d shared!

I made the arrangement on the food table (below) at a workshop Studio Posy put on just before Thanksgiving. I had such a good time and it was such a nice way to spend time with friends, make something and learn a little something, too!

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Gold turkeys – I spray-painted animals from AC Moore and Michaels to create gold versions of them.
Wooden server: Threshold from Target. Love that line of home goods.

Cheers pitcher from the Threshold collection: Target


Vintage tablecloth from eBay. Gold polkadot runner from Etsy. 2013-12-19_0006

Fox shaker is also Threshold! The ice bucket is vintage from an antique store. And Studio Posy made the gorgeous succulent wreath that became the centerpiece for the table and provided the roses and additional flowers.
Love the wreath so much and it’s still flourishing in the center of my table – love a centerpiece that lives on indefinitely!2013-12-19_0012 2013-12-19_0007

Another lace tablecloth courtesy of eBay. And burlap tablerunner also from Etsy.2013-12-19_0014 2013-12-19_0017 2013-12-19_0008 2013-12-19_0010 2013-12-19_0009 2013-12-19_0011

Gold candleholders used as vases – Threshold from Target (I’m sensing a theme!)
And gold-rimmed drinking glasses and gold-accent dessert plates from West Elm.2013-12-19_0013 2013-12-19_0015

“I am Thankful for” cards from Paper Source.
Gold deer: Purchased the deer from AC Moore and Michael’s and spray painted them gold with Rust-Oleum Metallic paint – LOVE this paint and have spray painted a TON of stuff gold with it recently. It works very well and looks natural.

I purchased an incomplete set of white dinnerware from an antique store for $35 to expand my place setting pieces since my dishes aren’t made anymore. Mixed and matched them and the dessert plates and love the results -
made the formality of the lace and silver and gold a little less formal. 2013-12-19_0018

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