Oregon, Photography, Thoughts and Lessons Learned

Just Living – Golden Hour on the Farm

“I am tired.”

If you’ve spoken to me at all in the last two months, my bet is that this was said early on in the conversation. Usually I try to stay away from default answers like “I’m tired” or “I’m busy” when I’m catching up with someone, because the reality is we are all busy and tired, and we all measure those differently. Personally, I think we are all capable of being better conversationalists.

But the truth is in this case, when I finally made it home to Oregon for my vacation at home with my family, this was all I could muster up when my Grampy asked how my work meeting in Seattle, (that I had just traveled from) went.

My body was tired, my brain was tired and I’d even say my soul was tired.

Both professionally and personally, this season of life over of the past six months or so has really pushed me. Its tested me and even broke me a couple of times. And that’s all OK. These seasons come and go, and I think it’s important to keep that in mind. I believe that sometimes you just have to put your head down and work, and do what you have to do to get by.

That first evening when I got home I immediately jumped on my laptop to knock out a few things related to the meeting I had just traveled from. But the sun was starting to set and the scene I could see through my parent’s big kitchen window could not be ignored.

So I grabbed my camera and headed out to sit in the yard with our old family dog Jack and just paused for a bit.

It’s amazing how little things like that can refocus things for you.

It’s a beautiful world sometimes I don’t see so clear
Some days you just breath in
Just try to break even
Sometimes your heart’s poundin’ out of your chest
Sometimes it’s just beatin’
Some days you just forget
What all you’ve been given
Some days you just get back
And some days you’re just alive
Some days you’re livin’
Some days you’re livin’

Family, Oregon

Home for the Holidays 2017

Originally, I had every intention of spending my holiday vacation time getting ahead on some blogging for the new year. But I ended up sort of naturally taking somewhat of a break from all things technology-related, and I am not one bit mad about it. Obviously my subconscious knew I needed it. But I am back to the regular grind, and now that I spent my first week in the new year getting myself organized for 2018, I want to jump back into a few posts to wrap up 2017.

This year I was able to go home to Oregon for Christmas for 9 days (plus 2 travel days) and overall I’d say it was a great, relaxing time with my family and friends. I saw the new Star Wars movie with my Uncle Josh (our yearly holiday tradition), as well as The Greatest Showman with my mom, sister and Grammy. Both were great movies and, as expected, I loved Hugh Jackman! Its just fun when you can tell that an actor put so much into a role. So yes, if you were to check my Spotify lately, the movie’s soundtrack is what is playing. I caught up with a few old friends, including Richole, who had just welcomed her new daughter Callie, earlier in the month on December 13. As usual, I spent some time at my family’s flower shop, helping out a little bit here and there, but mostly just distracting everyone from doing their work. I also traveled to Portland for a long day trip with my Grampy to watch my Uncle Jay coach his high school girl’s basketball team in a tournament and then over to the Moda Center to watch the Blazers beat the 76ers. I also spent time with dad feeding cows (a separate post on that later this week!) and shopping with my mom and sister. But most of our evenings were spent just the four of us by the fireplace watching a movie.

Of course, the main highlight was spending as much time as I could with my cousin Sawyer. She is just such a fun, sweet baby and definitely has the spotlight in my family right now.

Here’s just a few snapshots of my break.

On this particular day, I had Sawyer ALL DAY while her parents spent a day in Portland. All things considered we had a pretty good day together, except that I contributed to the demise of her napping schedule and she wouldn’t let me put her down for one second to put on my makeup. #parentingcrashcourse

It’s amazing what an adorable 5 month old baby will convince you to do.

Ego cousins!

Christmas morning with this babe.



Our Grampy is crazy, I’ve tried to warn her 🙂

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

Family, Love Letters, Oregon

Love Letter: To My Family’s Flower Shop on its 30th Anniversary

When I was in high school, we hosted a young woman who was serving as an Oregon State FFA Officer at our house and she asked my Mom a lot of questions about our family-owned flower shop. To one of the questions, my Mom explained that outside of the holiday season, Valentine’s Day and the week of Mother’s Day, it was weddings and funerals that led the core of our floral business. At the time I remembered feeling a bit embarrassed and uncomfortable that my Mom said that, but the guest saw a bit of humor in my Mom’s matter-of-fact answer, and a few days later we received a thank you card that was signed off with “Wishing you many weddings and funerals.”

Looking back, now it makes me laugh and for some reason that story has always stuck with me. When you think about it, owning and working in a flower shop, really means that you get a front row seat to helping people commemorate and celebrate the milestones and memories that make up their story. From new babies, sweet sixteen’s, get well soon’s, high school proms, graduations, holidays, job promotions, break-ups — and yes, weddings and funerals — we get to be a part of it all. And in a small town, where we have generations of families, that carries even more significance.

This year we are celebrating my family’s flower and gift shop, Cottage Flowers, which my grandparents bought 30 years ago and now my Mom owns. I’ve always told people that I grew up in my family’s flower shop — that it was our home base more than any house we lived in ever was. Sure, that might be a bit of an unconventional way to grow up but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If anything, “the flower shop,” which is how we refer to it, is another member of our family.

So, to the flower shop, this love letter is for you:

I didn’t know the very first location on Main Street, but I do remember the location at the Plaza very well. I remember playing in the “silk garden” around the indoor gazebo where we were allowed to make a bit more of a mess. I remember holding tea parties with the glassware and stuffed animals, making Italian sodas when we had a cafe counter and the taste of the carbonated water when you accidentally chose it instead of regular water or Sprite. I remember “making arrangements” with the leftover stems in the trash, my hands going numb from filling water picks and when people camped outside the store for the newest Beanie Babies to arrive. I remember my mom’s back office where I spent every sick day away from school and that the dim back room where we cleaned flowers was scary.

I remember when we moved the store across town to the old armory when I was 10 (I think?) and the true labor of love it was to flip. I will forever remember having to climb along the rafters in the ceiling to thread some wiring for Grampy and being told to “pretend the spiders aren’t there.” I both loved and hated the Event Center that we opened for many years. I loved the big open space to play when it was empty and seeing so many weddings and parties come together there, but I also hated setting up tables that were much bigger than me and being woken up early on Saturday mornings because the wedding from the night before didn’t properly clean up and there would be anxious people waiting to set up for the next one. I can almost remember the exact amount of steps it took to get from the front counter to the back loading dock and can vividly remember the well-crafted process I had for washing hundreds of folding chairs with the pressure washer machine.

As I got older and officially started earning a paycheck, it’s where I learned how to count back change, talk professionally on the phone and that the customer is always right. It taught me how to problem solve, plan a project and manage my time. I remember the exact smell of Comet from cleaning buckets, the sound of the wire service when an order was coming through, the fastest way to clean roses without getting poked by a thorn, being pulled out of school to work on Valentine’s Day and judging people’s ribbon color choices for their prom corsage and boutonniere. Though after you’ve made a few dozen boring ones in a single day, the crazy ones are a welcome change.

The flower shop grew my curiosity and love for telling stories. Every time I wrote a card for someone who’s order I took over the phone, I wandered, how did the woman receiving flowers on her 50th wedding anniversary first meet her husband? Who will this new baby girl that is receiving balloons grow up to be? Why is he sending her an arrangement with a card that says he’s sorry?

It fueled my creativity in a way you couldn’t bottle up and recreate. Yes, I probably inherited the creative gene from my Mom and Grammy, but it also comes from countless hours of watching them work, criticize their own work and somehow make the customer happy on those Sunday afternoons when all that was left in the cooler is three colors of carnations.

It showed me what it means to be a part of a community and the reward of pouring back into your local economy. I mean, I understood the impact of “shopping local” before the hipsters even made a big deal about it.

It gave me examples of what strong, entrepreneurial women can be. I’ve seen them both succeed and take the loss, embrace change, make hard decisions and challenge themselves to see goals through to fruition. Even with their own careers, the men in my family have certainly always played an important role, but celebrating this anniversary is also a celebration of the two women who have put their heart and soul into building a successful business. 

There have been many characters over the years that have played a big part in the flower shop’s story. Whether they only worked for us for a short while or for over a decade, so many of our employees have become a part of our extended family. And to our customers who trust us with their memories, thank you for sharing your lives, challenging our creativity and of course, keeping our doors open.

Most importantly, I truly believe the flower shop is why my family is so close. Sure, mixing business with family can be challenging and definitely not for everyone, but for us it somehow works.

Thank you for the random skills I hardly use like making bows, and the practical lessons I use everyday in my own chosen career. Thank you for showing me what hard work and empathy look like. Thank you for teaching me that love, heartbreak, hope and kindness come in all shapes and sizes.

And thank you, for the privilege of that front row seat.

Love, Mandy

P.S. I found a folder of photos from the flower shop I took my first Christmas home after I got my DSLR camera in 2015, and I don’t think I’ve ever shared until now. So here is a little behind the scenes!

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So There's That Series

So There’s That Vol. 25

{Sort of like  a “Friday Five”  or a “Life Lately” except it’s probably not Friday, and I gave up on the idea of a catchy alliteration. These are some bits and pieces of my not-so-glam 20-something life. See past posts HERE}

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Gearing up for Fall…

I am usually annoyed at people who proclaim September 1 as the first day of fall. But I am just SO READY for it this year! I will also never understand why being obsessed with fall seems to infect ALL WOMEN, but it does, it really does. I’m basic, and not even ashamed.

Sawyer June

Sorry for the spam of baby pictures but Sawyer June is growing so fast and I miss her so much!

The Teacher

I shared this on my Facebook a few weeks ago, but I just had to include it again. If any regular readers still don’t know why I fell in love with Manhattan, KS, just read this.

Bill and I actually have something in common, because my first visit was also on a cold December day and the kindness of the people I met is something that has always stuck with me. I left knowing that it was where I needed to be.

At the very least, if you are a sports fan, this is still worth your time to read.

Article here —> https://www.theplayerstribune.com/bill-snyder-kansas-state-the-teacher/amp/

In Case You Missed It On the Blog in August

  1. Love Letter: To Those With Hometown Roots and Wandering Souls
  2. #MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 1: Hermiston
  3. #MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin
  4. Summer 2017: Top 10
  5. Best Day Ever – Show and Tell Tuesday

Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon

Saved this as a screenshot from Facebook… but I can’t remember the source. Sorry!

Not to downplay anything related to Hurricane Harvey and Irma, whatsoever, but fewer people are aware that Oregon is hurting quite a bit too lately (as is much of the west!) because of a fire in the Columbia River Gorge that now covers an estimated 37,500 acres and is only 13 percent contained. The fire has changed the landscape of so many beautiful natural landmarks and treasures, some to the point that they will never again look the same during my lifetime.

Its been a rough couple of weeks all around, folks.

Motivation from Filly Flair

Growing up with a grandma and mom who own their own business, I have always had a special place for women entrepreneurs. Maybe a little less than a year ago, one of my friends told me about an online clothing boutique out of South Dakota, called Filly Flair, that I should check out. I am now a super fan and customer, but lately I also started followed the company’s owner on Instagram and have really enjoyed her overall message and transparency. So I wanted to share a little video that they recently posted about her and the company. I’d recommend it if you need a little motivation today. And no, this is totally not an ad of any kind, but hey Filly Flair hit me up! 🙂

K-State Capital Area Alumni

Recently I joined the planning committee for the K-State Capital Area Alumni group and my new job is handling social media (big surprise there!) We just kicked off our football watch party season, so I’ve already been all over our Facebook page and also started up our own Instagram account. We’re at @kstatecapitalalumni if you want to check it out.

But really though, making images with K-State purple and football? That will never get old.

The Power of Rituals and 6 Other Ways to Get in The Zone

My Shine Texts are always on the money for what I need to hear, EVERY SINGLE DAY. Habits and routines that help my productivity and focus have definitely been a struggle point for me for a while. This article lays it all out in a way that makes sense to me. Now to just better implement those things…

Article —> https://advice.shinetext.com/articles/7-ways-to-guarantee-youll-have-a-productive-day/?utm_source=Shine&utm_medium=BroadcastMain

Out and About

A few snippets (and Snapchats) of life lately.

My Life in Memes

Memes that are speaking to me right now… both thought provoking and just plain funny.

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So, There’s That.

Cheers!

Family, Friendship, Oregon

#MeganFINALLYGoestoOregon Part 2: The Cabin

Earlier this month, I traveled to Oregon for a much needed vacation and visit home.

As I shared in my Part 1 recap last week, my best friend Megan (from Kansas) tagged along so I could FINALLY share my home with her.

My previous post shared about the time we spent in my hometown of Hermiston, and today I’m sharing all about taking her up to my family’s cabin “The Diggins” (my happy place) near Sumpter, OR.

We did a lot of relaxing, went on walks, played with my pup Jack, took the kayaks out on Philips Lake and Megan kept up with her daily yoga pose challenge. We explored nearby Sumpter, where Megan learned all about gold mining, and had dinner at the historical Geiser Grand Hotel in Baker City. We also hung out with my grandparents, who were also up for the weekend.

And of course, we took a LOT of pictures.











Megan, I am so happy that I finally got to share my home and my happy place with you. And if you weren’t considered part of the family before, you definitely are now.

And to The Diggins, thanks for always being exactly what I need.

Cheers!

Agriculture, Oregon, Photography

Feeding Cows with Dad

There are fewer things that I love more than being home with my family in Oregon doing everyday things, and there are even fewer things that I love more than seeing my family happy.

My parents have always dreamed of having property and cows, and of a farmhouse that they could call their forever home.

Once they found what they wanted there were a few frustrating years before it all came together, so when it finally happened it was that much sweeter.

It was a bit overwhelming at first when I came home. I was walking into a completely different place than where I grew up, but with every room and little detail that they showed me, it became more and more clear to me. This home is perfect for them.

I might take pictures someday of the house, maybe even on this trip.

But I knew even before I came home, that the first thing my camera lens would focus on were my dad and those beloved cows.

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In case you are wondering, these “Oreo” cows are the breed “Bue Lingo.”

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Breakfast time.

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I am only slightly upset that my family finally got cows AFTER I left home…

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This barn cat came with the property. My dad has renamed it “Talks a Lot.” It follows him EVERYWHERE, and well, never stops talking.

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This is what a very happy, new farmer looks like.

Cheers!

Family, Oregon, Photography

Oregon in July | Part 4 | Wedding Day

Hey! We are to my final post about my trip home and the wedding.

On the wedding day I did not pull out my nice camera because I was either busy, or just enjoying the day. Josh and Sonia also hired a great professional photographer, and while I manage to take a good picture every now and then, I have no problem getting out of the way of the professionals and letting them do their thing.

View Part 1 about “Home and Wedding Prep” HERE
View Part 2 about our “Girl’s Day at the Salon” HERE
View Part 3 about the “Wedding Rehearsal” HERE

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The day started out early, but gorgeous.

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frog in flower

That is a little frog there hanging out in the daisy. We found him when we first woke up and let him chill out until we finally needed the flowers back.

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I woke up about 5:30 to start getting myself ready because I did hair for Sonia, all three of the bridesmaids and both of the flower girls. Sonia has really long hair, but it is both very fine and thin, so she decided to use extensions. This was my first time working with extensions, but after a little trial and error, I got the hang of it. It was amazing how much of a difference it made and how well her real hair blended with them.

Note to other newbies… fake hair does not curl normally. You have to cool down each piece for it to hold its shape.

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Taylor had fine, wispy bangs, and we wanted both of the girls’ hair to match so I did one of the tiniest (and probably most difficult) little french braids I’ve ever done, which meant that I needed her to hold REALLY still. Taylor’s favorite candy are tootsie rolls, so we told her that if she held really still and never took her eyes off of it, that she could have it.

PEOPLE, SHE NEVER MOVED.
It was hysterical. Even when I scooped her up to better position her for the hot curling iron, she still never took her eyes off it.

I just wish I could apply that level of concentration to anything at 25.

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We let the little girls pack their own flower pails and Taylor was convinced that we couldn’t leave any petals unused.

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Sisters.

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Excited to have a new aunt/sister.

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I posted this picture of Josh and I to Instagram with this overly cheesy caption:

“You may technically be my uncle, but growing up as your sidekick with you as my big brother you influenced everything from my taste in movies to my humor and so much about how I approach life. I am so happy that you found Sonia and that she’s so much cooler than you.”

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Aside for a short rain during dinner, it was such a beautiful day, and such a fun wedding. I am so happy that Sonia is a part of our family now and that I was able to be home for so long to help celebrate.

And before I go I have to share a few of the professional photos that were on Facebook. To my North Dakota friends, definitely check out Erin at Soulshine Photography. She did an amazing job! I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures!!

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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography
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Photo by Soulshine Photography

Cheers!