Foodie Friday: Mexican Dip

I made this dip up one time when I wanted something Mexican (which is most days) and something to snack on! It has now become one of our favorites! This is the perfect time to try it with the NCAA tourney on or for opening day for baseball!

 

Ingredients:

1 can refried beans

2 cups salsa

1 (16 oz.) container sour cream

1 packet taco seasoning

2 cups guacamole

1 cup shredded taco blend cheese

 

Spread the beans in the bottom of a bowl or pan (your preference, I have done both!). Next, spread the guacamole on top of the beans. Empty the taco seasoning into the container of sour cream, and stir until well blended. Spread the sour cream mixture on top of the guacamole. Spread the salsa on top of the sour cream. Top the entire dip with cheese. Serve with tortilla chips.

 

Introducing: Andrea!!!

I am so excited about this post! A few months ago I posted about hiring an intern for the summer! I was a little afraid to put this out there for a few reasons: 1. Will anyone respond? Does anyone want to be my intern? 2. Will I have something to teach someone? Will they want to learn?

Let me tell you, I received an overwhelming response about this! I was so excited about all the incredible people who responded and who were interested and willing to learn! It was hard to narrow down the potentials and interview some great people! There was one applicant who I interviewed who had all of the things I was looking for and we connected right away! Her interview lasted two hours because we ended up talking like old friends! I offered her the position and I am so glad that she accepted because she is incredible! I can’t wait to work with her this summer and get to know her better! She is sweet, thoughtful and will be a great person to work with! I am also so excited for all of my couples to get to work with her and meet her too! I wanted to take a chance to introduce her, 1. because I am so excited about her but also 2. because I want all of my couples to get to know her a little bit before their big day! :) Andrea and I meet up about a week and a half ago to grab breakfast (which turned into brunch, which then turned into coffee, because we had such a good time together!) and she allowed me to snap a few photos of her to show off to all of you! It was super cold and windy, but she was a champ! Thanks girl braving the elements! :)

I also asked her a few fun questions so you can get to know her!

Tell us a little about yourself:
Hello! Hmm, lets see…My dog is my child, and I’m pretty sure she is part human and also partially brain damaged. She thinks rocks are alive…
I am definitely a bottom line, big picture kind of person.
If you are funny I want you to be my friend, because I love to laugh…I think Frank is hilarious. :)
I am always cold, there is no such thing as too hot! My favorite thing is getting in a hot car that has been sitting in the sun (in the summer)!!
I am often in conflict with my super practical nature and my big big dreams.
So you got married last May! Tell us about your wedding day: 
First of all, that rhymed…awesome! Our wedding day was so special. We got married in a little country church near where I grew up, and then had the reception in my backyard! I was SO nervous all morning…THIS was the day I had spent a year planning and a lifetime dreaming about. And it really was a dream. Walking down the aisle, arm in arm with my dad, having him hand me over to the man I was getting married to, looking in Frank’s eyes and holding his hand, hugging my mom goodbye, and finding a goody-bag with new clothes for the honeymoon. Those special moments are some of the many that I remember when I think of our wedding day. Then there were the tears and hugs from our parents, Frank asking what bustling a dress meant, all the amazing people who were there to celebrate with us, the dances, my family busting some crazy dance moves, pictures, and toasts (seriously the best toasts I’ve ever heard.) then…before we knew it we were changing out of our dress and suit  in my sisters backyard (true story since they forgot to leave the door unlocked haha)! It was fast, it was fun, and it was special because I got to marry my best friend and celebrate with those I love!
What is your favorite part of newlywed life?
It is hard to just pick one thing…but I’d say its that even the simple things are better and more fun! The coming home to each other, and the packing one suitcase, holding hands and feeling his ring…Life is just better together!
If you had a $1000 gift card, what store would it be for and why?
It would be for either Apple or b&h photo because I have a laundry lists of things I want!! Photography equipment is sooo addicting!
What is your favorite color?
Yellow
What is your favorite restaurant?
The Blue Apron (their creme brulee is amazing!)
What do you love most about photography?
Stopping a moment in time that one can keep forever.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
I am so excited to work with and learn from Jessica the Jedi Master of wedding photography!! I’m thrilled to work with brides and grooms to help make their day as special as it can be. I LOVE remembering our commitment to one another through pictures! What an awesome opportunity to capture the special moments, and a season of such pure excitement, love and joy.
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT HER WORK HERE!

Engaged: Drew + Kathryn

I am thrilled to blog this session! Every once in a while you don’t even have to look at the back of your camera to know that you are getting some great images… you just know. There are just some couples who are fun, gorgeous and so great in front of the camera, that every picture you take looks awesome. Drew and Kathryn were that couple! They were so fun and so in love with each other, they made my job easy :) I can’t wait for their wedding next month!

Love this image on the left!

Oh my goodness! So gorgeous!Seriously, look at Kathryn’s shoes. I was a bit jealous. 

Love this one!

The one on the right is a new fav!!!

We had the perfect day. The lighting was awesome!

Love both of these!

So pretty! Good job, Drew!

Whenever I see spots that are amazing, I literally get excited. Literally. When I saw these hay bales, I had one of those moments.

Canvas!!!!!

We came out of the hay bale barn to the perfect light. I love the light right when the sunset is just setting. Gorgeous.

Stunning guys.

New favorite!

They look so good together, don’t they?

The one on the left is a new all time fav!

LOVE IT!

This is sensational. You are so beautiful, Kathryn!

 

Engaged: Scott + Chelsea | A Virginia Tech Engagement Session

I am so excited to show off this session! Chelsea and Scott allowed me to shoot a few rolls of film, so I had to wait until I got my scans back from the lab. And let me tell you, I have been dying! It is so hard to wait! I am not patient at all! Chelsea and Scott are a super sweet couple. Chelsea is also a photographer which makes me excited because we can talk shop and she is more than willing to let me try new things! Chelsea and Scott met at Virginia Tech, so they wanted to do their session there because it is special to them! Tech has such a beautiful campus, it makes me a little jealous, Liberty doesn’t have much green space. Chelsea and Scott, thanks for choosing me to be a part of this special time in your lives! I can’t wait for August! 

Look at how pretty film is… don’t tell me you don’t love it!

You both are too cute! I love this one!

Love the one on the left! 

Chelsea, you are so gorgeous!

This is where they met, so of course we had to do part of our session here!

This was a little different type of setting than I usually shoot, so I loved the challenge, and I enjoy how they turned out! 

Too cute! You guys are great models!

Location: Virginia Tech

Digital: Canon mark ii

Film: Contax 645, Fuji 400h, Indie Film Lab

Foodie Friday: Basil Pasta Salad

This is my favorite pasta salad recipe! It is a lot lighter and fresher than traditional pasta salads that use mayo. It is delicious and makes a ton! Try it out this week or weekend!
Ingredients:
  • 1 package(16 ounces) bow tie pasta
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 7 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

 

  • DRESSING:
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse in cold water. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, tomatoes, cheese, yellow pepper, onion and basil.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Yield: 18 servings.
 

Wedding Wednesday: Rings

This can be a blog post for photographers as well as for brides! On the wedding day it is so crazy, there are so many big moments to get captured, that sometimes you forget about the little things or the little moments. However, some of those little moments are so important and help to make your wedding memorable and special! Shooting details is an important part of the day. Whether it is your DIY decor at the reception that you slaved over for months, your gorgeous fluffy dress or your bouquet full of peonies (uh, yes please!), you want every detail preserved with an image!

One of the most important details to capture is the rings! Not only are they symbolic, but they are a pretty detail to be captured! I shoot all of my rings shots with a macro lens (for you photogs: the Canon 100mm 2.8L), so if you are just a bride and not a photographer, chances are you don’t have this lens laying around your house. Excuse all of the jargon, but that means this: you can take a ton of shots of your ring with your camera, but this lens is specifically designed to capture small details. So in other words, these are probably the best pictures of your rings that you will ever get. That makes capturing them super important! It may not seem important at the moment, but I have had couples choose the shot of their wedding rings as their canvas before! Yes, it was that important to them!

I am telling you all about the importance for this reason. I always start the day with shooting details, and some of those details include the rings. It is super important to make sure that you have all three of the rings there! Don’t worry, they always get back to the best man or maid of honor, but I like to have them when I shoot all of the details! That way everything can be shot in the same place (brides who want an album, this is super important for design’s sake!). Also, I hate having to take your rings from you at the reception when you want to show them off to all of your friends! If I shoot them at the beginning of the day, they are done and you don’t have to worry about them anymore! It is also fun to include any little props for ring shots too. For example, if you met in an orange grove (don’t know of that actually happening to anyone, I just thought it sounded like a romantic story), you could have an orange for me to shoot the rings on! Or maybe your first kiss was at a cupcake shop and you have cupcakes at your wedding so you left me one to shot with (and then eat — for the record anything chocolate is more than ok! ) :)

One more little thought for this post. You can do this however you want (I have had couples do it both ways — just something to think about!), but if you are doing a First Look – I always follow that up with the bride and groom portraits – some couples like to bring their wedding rings along to that so that they can wear their bands in their portraits. Again, totally your choice, but just something for you to consider as you think about your day! :)

And of course, because I ALWAYS include pictures (you can’t have a photo blog and not include pictures, right?) these are some of my favorite ring shots of the past! (No oranges from an orange grove – secretly I have always wanted to shoot a wedding in an orange grove – so if you are thinking about it – GO FOR IT!!)

And then I always shoot of few of just the bride’s ring when we do the engagement session.

My recent Starbucks obsession

Ok, so you are probably reading this title and thinking, “Wait, Jessica, haven’t you already told us how much you like Starbucks? You aren’t just discovering its amazing goodness for the first time are you?”

My answer to the first is: “Yes, but it is so amazing so you can never talk about it too much.” And to the second, “Oh no, but I do have something new to share about it!”

So, I am sorry to say that I go to Starbucks waaaay too much. Chris and my bank account will both confirm that truth. I am sure that you have many friends who are Starbucks gold card members. I am sure you are thinking, “Oh you go to Starbucks all the time, so you probably became one years ago.” Sadly, that is not true. I was always lazy and never registered any of my gift cards or refilled them or did any of the things you need to do in order to become a gold card member (except for go a ton of times). I bet that a lot of you are like me. You have been to Starbucks a thousand times, but haven’t used a registered gift card. Its the same old story. Someone buys you a gift card for your birthday, or a thank you or just because you are amazing. You go to Starbucks for free a couple of times, and then when it runs out you throw it away. After you throw it out you think, “Uh, I should have registered it!” But you never did and the cycle starts over.

That is exactly where I was a couple of weeks ago until I discovered the Starbucks app. Yes, the app. You are able to buy, register and reload an electronic card. You are able to see how many stars you have earned, order drinks and can pay with only using your cell phone! You don’t have to keep track of your gift card or reload it when you go in the store. You can do it all from your phone.

Now, this has made me go to Starbucks even more than before. Not a good thing. But now I am close to becoming a cold card member. A great thing. In just a few weeks. Not a good thing (think money and bank account here).

Starbucks has made it so easy to buy and gives you an incentive to buy! I think they have done a great job of using technology and making it easier than ever to buy their amazing coffee at an outrageous price. Maybe they have done their job a bit too well….

Foodie Friday: Chicken + Dumplings

This is one of my favorite recipes to make! It is a yummy comfort food! Have you noticed that trend? I have shared a lot of comfort foods recently! I will try to share something healthier next week! I promise, I do cook healthy food too! :)
I do a couple of things differently than the recipe. I don’t add peas… sorry if you like them… but I don’t at all! :(
Also, I add the chicken frozen (yes, I am lazy and hate to defrost my chicken!) and I do chicken breasts instead of thighs. Either one giant breast or two small ones.
You should try this out! Sooooo good!

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 5 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup (spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or 3/4 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas

Directions

  1. In a Dutch oven (or a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat butter over medium. Add onion, carrots, and thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1/4 cup flour and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly; season with salt and pepper. Nestle chicken in pot; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make dumplings: In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining 3/4 cup flour, dill, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. With a fork, gradually stir in 1/2 cup milk to form a moist and soft batter. It should be just a little thicker than pancake batter and should easily drop from the tip of a spoon. (Add additional 2 tablespoons milk if too thick.) Set aside.
  4. Stir peas into pot. Drop batter in simmering liquid in 10 heaping tablespoonfuls, keeping them spaced apart (dumplings will swell as they cook). Cover, and simmer until chicken is tender and dumplings are firm, 20 minutes. Serve.

    (Recipe and picture courtesy of Martha Stewart)

Engaged: Charlie + Natalie

The first time I met Natalie at Starbucks (well technically it was the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble – but close enough! There was still coffee involved :), we really hit it off! I was so excited when she told me that she wanted me to be a part of her and Charlie’s day! And let me tell you how cute these two are together! This was my first time meeting Charlie, and getting to see the two of them interact, and I loved it! They are both so sweet and love each other so much! From their first meeting in a restaurant to Charlie’s proposal in the snow; these two have a movie love story! I am so excited to be a part of their day in June! Just check out all the cuteness below! :)

You are beyond gorgeous, Natalie! :)
Ah, love it!When we first walked up to this spot, there were three deer. I was hoping they would stay around for us, but they didn’t. Sorry to scare you, Bambi. 

Love both of these! :)

The one on the right is a favorite for sure!Ok, so this horse is a bit bigger than a deer. Charlie had no problems, but Natalie and I were both afraid. I seriously was trying to shoot these next few in two minutes before it charged us!And then it came at me. I admit, I may have screamed a bit.Ah gorgeous, love these!Good job, Charlie! Check out that bling!

Wedding Wednesday: Shoes!

I admit that I haven’t really done consistent Wedding Wednesday posts. To be honest, I have never really had an idea where I wanted them to go, so it was hard to write them since I had no idea what I wanted to write about! I love the idea of something wedding themed on Wednesday, but I have needed some sort of direction for them to go in. Do I talk about wedding planning? Wedding inspiration? My wedding? How I shoot weddings?

So I finally gave some thought into what I thought Wedding Wednesday should be and where I wanted everything to go! I have decided to talk about different topics. Every week I will share a different topic until I run out of topics. That could be a couple of months or a year! So enjoy the first post of the new Wedding Wednesday!

Today I have decided to talk about one thing that every girl loves:  shoes! Shoes are a huge part of the wedding day! There are so many factors to consider when you are deciding what you want your wedding day shoes to look like!

1. Color. Do you want them white? Or one of your wedding colors?

2. Height. Do you want 5 inch heels? Wedges? Flats?

3. Comfort. You will be wearing these all day, so make sure they are at least somewhat comfy! Tip: you can always have cute heels for pictures/ceremony, and then change into comfy shoes at the reception! If you aren’t the type of bride to kick off her heels and go barefoot during the reception, a pair of comfy flats to change inot at the reception will be perfect for you!

4. Style. Are you having a formal church wedding? A small ceremony on the beach? Make sure to choose shoes that go with your venue! Stilettos may not work on the beach, and flip flops may not be the best choice if you are doing something fancy! Make sure to consider the feel of your wedding day as well as the practicality of where you are walking!

5. Season. For a snowy wintery wedding, strappy heels might not be the best choice, and for a hot summer day, uggs will not be your best friend. Be sure to think about the weather when picking your shoes! And if you are getting married in a month with a lot of rain, having a cute pair of rain boots for back up is a great idea!

The biggest advice I can give you about what to wear on your wedding day though is this: wear something that is you! Don’t feel like you have to wear heels if you are not a heel person, and don’t feel like you have to wear flats because your best friend wore flats on her wedding day. This day is about you and your husband, so pick something that is you!

And of course because every blog post needs pictures to illustrate, below are some of my favorite shoes that brides have worn!

 

Emily’s navy heels.

Lauren’s flowery sandals.

Jessi’s purple pumps.

Karen’s silvery flats.
Meredith’s ballet slippers.

Tiffany’s brown flats.

Snow boots from Josh + Brittany’s wedding.

Bethany’s boots.

And in case you are wondering what I wore on my wedding day: yellow toms! I wanted something flat (my husband and I are the same height, so I didn’t want to be taller on our wedding day!), and I wanted something really comfy! Also, our wedding colors were grey and yellow, so these were perfect!