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Today I share with you the world of my childhood, unedited, taken from a simple point and shoot camera. Believing the world had a Creator never seemed hard to me, for His handiwork stuck from my eyes to my soul more times than I could count. I dare say, what you see is one of the tutors who took me to Christ. Some days I would take long walks and gaze upon this beauty on my own, but I felt selfish keeping it to myself. And so, I started taking pictures to one day share with whom—I didn’t know. 

Years ago when I encountered a book that changed the way I would view love for the rest of my life, A Severe Mercy, the author Sheldon Vanauken put into words what I could never explain on my own. He writes of himself in an earlier time of his life,

"He remembered as though it were but a few days ago that winter night, himself too young to know the meaning of beauty, when he had looked up at a delicate tracery of bare black branches against the ice glittering stars: suddenly something that was, all at once, pain and longing and adoring had welled up in him, almost choking him. He had wanted to tell someone, but he had no words, inarticulate in the pain and glory…That nameless something that had stopped his heart was Beauty. Even now, for him, ‘bare branches against the stars’ was a synonym for beauty."

For me, the synonym for beauty is “silver morning mist on orchard grass” (even more so when I could feel it on my bare feet, not just see it) and like Sheldon, just on a different terrain, Beauty stopped my heart many a time, and when I return home, still does.

Contentment

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My friend Anna snapped a few photos of Elsa the other week when she was at my house. I appreciate her meticulousness. She is an amazing photographer, though she wouldn’t admit that herself.

When I look at the bottom picture of Elsa’s smile, her accidents that occur due to potty training, the way she does the opposite of what I ask too many times to count in a day, her never-ending sticky fingers and toys littered about the house, and the fact that life is far too exciting to her than to spend time sitting on mamma’s lap, seem rather mild. I wish I could bottle up that two-year-old jubilant smile of hers and squeeze her forever. 

The moments before bedtime are particularly special to me. When I ask El, “Are you ready for bed?” her answer will always be in the negative, but when I ask her, “Want to go upstairs on Mommy and Daddy’s bed?” she will run up the stairs, grab her blankets, and climb onto our bed. It is the one time of the day she will cuddle and rest her head against me as we sing a few subdued songs. I never expected the contentment this little two-year-old could bring into my life.

Masters of Their Craft // Bario Neal: Jewelers

The latest Masters of Their Craft feature for the studio was Bario Neal in Philadelphia, PA. Four years ago, they designed my wedding rings, and most of the jewelry I wear (keep in mind, I have very little jewelry) has been made by them. I love their work. The story of how their business has grown in the past few years makes entrepreneurism a beautiful thing…having an idea and just giving it a try. Failure or success could result, but trying is better than inaction. They did their research, started small, and now they sell jewelry from a second shop in Manhattan and have a national and international clientele. So incredible! For the full interview and to see the other photos Char captured, click here.

Home, Sweet Home

These are some of the scenes we encountered on a drive from Newtown to Litchfield, Connecticut. What lovely countryside. One day, I’d like to have a little roadside stand like the bottom picture and sell flowers and vegetables from our garden and who knows what else. Just a little something for me and the kids to do while Kyle is at work. That or a store or both.

I find it interesting that we saw a few ocean and boat scenes in Connecticut too, but for some reason, I failed to photograph them. I think the places that remind me of home capture my eye the most.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.       George Moore

Connecticut

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Last month, Kyle, Elsa, and I took a little family vacation to Connecticut. We stayed at a relaxing old mill in the countryside of Newtown, CT, that had plenty of ground to roam, a river running under our cottage porch, and an old stone pool. We explored the surrounding towns of Westport, Greenwich, and Litchfield; took a couple of runs in the mornings with Elsa; attended our first Oyster Festival; had AMAZING brownie sundaes from a farm that sold its own ice cream; read a lot by the pool during the afternoons; and enjoyed driving around the roads of Connecticut. It was a more beautiful area than I realized, and little gets better than having unlimited time to explore with Kyle and El.

Four Years

Six years ago, you were a stranger. Today, you are my other half. Thank you for four years of marriage and for continuing to bring me a cup of water in the night.

Creativity 101: What I Wish I Had Learned in Art Class

At the studio in May, I spoke at our True to You Workshop in regards to my philosophy of creativity. A couple of years ago, I didn’t even have a philosophy on creativity but now it is a matter I think about a lot. The team asked me to put it into writing for our blog, which you can read here. Being able to write is one of my favorite aspects of working at Char Co

Anna offered to come to my house to capture a few photos for the article. Thank you so much!

If you have ever felt that you weren’t creative or struggled with not feeling creative enough, read the article and hopefully your thinking will change.

Some places feel like home the moment you step upon their ground. Daniel Boone’s homestead in Birdsboro, PA is one of those places. The land, picket fences, stone buildings, and red barn—you just can’t get more idyllic. We visited the historic site with Kyle’s parents when they were in town, and I plan to return with Elsa when she is a little older and can appreciate the history because she certainly didn’t find the tour guide very interesting!

We live in an age where everyone is trying to sell something.

People will try to sell you expensive gadgets for your little ones, expensive clothes, and tell you to make “educational” purchases. Videos at one? Computers at two? Classrooms at three? And the answer is, “No, the child needs the old-fashioned basics.” Parents, home, land. Love, boundaries, routines. Family friends, community. Seasons, earth, sky. Activity, sleep. All stirred with warmth, fun, and lots and lots and lots of enjoyment. The main ingredient of this “stew” will be talking together, communication—and then reading books together.

For the Family’s Sake: The Value of Home In Everyone’s Life, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Celebrating Elsa

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We celebrated Elsa’s 2nd birthday the other week when Kyle’s parents were in town. I loved watching her be so excited the entire evening. After every one left, I kept thinking how blessed Elsa is to have so many people love her. As a mother, there is little better than watching people truly take delight in your child.