Friday, November 18, 2011

Isla Mujeres

Welp, we made it! After a long day of uneventful travel, my friend Tina, her family, and I have all made it safely to the island of Isla Mujeres.


I just have to share one happening with you before I forget (as I forgot to pack my journal, you may be seeing a lot of updates!)

We're renting a house for the week and just returned from the grocery store/supermarcado for some staples. While we were there, we stood in the bakery section debating between their Bimbo/Wonder packaged bread OR fresh baked bread from the bakery section... Haha. It didn't take long before our decision was unianimous.

While taking it all in, looking at all the different pastries and such, we saw an employee of the store accidentally drop a loaf of bread on the floor... look up to see if anyone had caught him... MAKE EYE CONTACT WITH US... give that silly little five-year-old guilty grin, brush it off on his uniform.... and, get this, PUT IT BACK ON THE SHELF. Oh my goodness. It was SO comical. I couldn't help but crack up. I know I shouldn't have encouraged him, but the way he pulled it off was histerical!

That wasn't even the best part! I felt like we should have Bob Saget alongside us to commentate the events. Right after witnessing this old man act as if he was four-years-old, a two... maybe three-year-old little Mexican girl with beautiful black piggy tails and a striped top, waltzed her way through Tina, Dani, Glenda, and myself to check out the pastries for herself. She made three trips looking, smelling, and, yes, you guessed it, dipping her finger in the frosting of the pastries. Tina was the first to catch it. When she had all of our attention, she made her selection and got a good finger-full of sugar-laden yumminess and licked it off like only an adorable toddler can do. She really made great use of her time, because by the time she'd consumed a decent amount of sweetness, her mom realized she was missing. Ah. It was priceless.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Antioxidant Fruit Salad

So, as the weather has turned... or is in the process of doing so, I have become somewhat 'under the weather'. :( Boo. While watching some wildly exciting cupcake throwdown yesterday on the food network, Nigella came on a commercial and shared this recipe with me...

Antioxidant Fruit Salad

2 mangoes
1 pomegranate
1 cup blueberries (I bought them frozen and got twice as much for the same price... they have to travel a long way to be anything near fresh this time of year anyway!)
the juice of 1 lime

I cut the mangoes straight down the side of the pit... and then manually eat the flesh off the pit, of course. :) (Kind of like licking the spoon.) I then take the halves of the mangoes and make a grid with my knife. Turn the skin inside out and cut the diced pieces right into your bowl.

Cut the pomegrante in half at the 'equator' (don't cut from top to bottom, but right across the middle) then take a wooden spoon and whack the back of the pomegrante half over your bowl. The seeds will rain down over your mangoes beautifully!

Add in your cup of blueberries.

Juice your lime over all your fruit. 

Mix well.



I'm hoping these antioxidants team up with all the zinc, vitamin C, and Cold Snap I've been consuming to kick this nasty bug out of my system!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

...hidden talent...

I've been thinking lately how fortunate I am. With Thanksgiving around the corner and all, I suppose my mind's been more focused on my blessings lately. I realized just the other day that I am extremely fortunate to have not just one job that I absolutely love... but TWO. Photography is my 'fun job' that I do on the side... but I also work with an amazing group of people just outside of town in this crazy, awesome building teaching their kids. Two fun jobs. Ha. Who would have thought. :)

One of my favorite things about where I work, is how people genuinely care about others and their well-being. On top of that, they are able to see people's gifts and, as a result, create work for that individual that fits their gifting... follow me? -- Last spring I was wrapping up a day at the Learning Center when a mom walked in and said, "Miss Lauren. You're creative... ever thought of painting a mural?" Haha. I'm sure you can imagine my stunned response. "I don't believe that's ever crossed my mind!" "Well, would you be interested in trying?!"

And so begins the story of my mural-making-days...

^Said blue wall would eventually be transformed into a pirate's treasure-laden oasis...

Some days it took a little coaxing...

And some days my efforts were just not working so well...

...but then, the creative juices started flowing. :)

...and I bribed/rewarded myself with Scratch cupcakes.

...the sails went up.

...and pirates arrived...

Unfortunately, it seems my phone lost the photo of the room completely finished, paint catchers and lights put away, and electrical outlets covered again... However, this photo does show you the final product! Last I checked, 'Jake' had a new 'tatoo' on his arm... a foam eighth note. :)

^^Here's a shot of the 'workspace'...
AKA: their poor bathroom that I turned into chaos for a few weeks!

Now, the second mural was for a little girl...
she certainly didn't need pirates on her wall... instead, she needed...

BUTTERFLIES, of course!

Welp, butterflies, she got...

And some flowers and a singing bird, to boot!

I was fortunate enough to borrow the projector/lightbox from work...
but sometimes I had to get a little creative to get the images where I needed them on the wall.

Finished Product:
One whimsical liberating wall to inspire one sweet little girl
to dream big and use that beautiful imagination of hers.

As for me, I learned I am capable of much more than I seem to give myself credit for... (I wasn't exactly sure how it'd turn out when I first began!) I had SO much fun pulling these fun ideas out of my imagination and sticking them to the wall! SO very thankful for opportunities I am able to not only enjoy, but also learn from.

Monday, October 24, 2011

This poor blog has been neglected. As a result, it's looking pretty pitiful. :(

I've come to the conclusion (again) that life has seasons. In most of those seasons, I find I need to write in order to clear my head. In this season (and a scattered few others...) I find that I must clear my head in order to write. <-- I don't care much for this.

I'd like to share a quote someone shared with me today. I love it because it rings true to so many aspects of my heart AND because while I was reading it this evening, instead of the usual, slightly mundane voice in my head... my friend, Meri's, voice was my narrator. She lives really far away and I miss her a lot, so this was a pleasant surprise. :)

“This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are ...beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once; seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating. Live your dream, and wear your passion. Life is short." 

...back to clearing my head.

Monday, August 29, 2011

hometown glory

Lately, well, for about the last year... I suppose. I've been completely captivated with where I am at: my hometown of Cedar Falls. You need to know I've never had this before. I've always been eager to get out. Eager to see the world. Eager to be somewhere exotic and exciting. These foreign feelings are blowing my mind!

Clarity may possibly have started shining through after reading this stat:

A new report from the Corporation for National and Community Service: In 2010, about 38 percent of Iowans devoted time to helping others. They volunteered a total of 93.4 million hours and provided more than $2 billion in services to Iowa.
Cedar Falls/Waterloo has the 11th highest volunteer rate in the country with 37.6 percent of our residents donating their time. This is a great place to live!

It really is a great place to live! There's a sense of community here I'd never realized before. After living elsewhere for about 5 years, I came back to this strange place that was undoubtingly the same location as always, but just had this completely different feel to it. Everyone I'd enjoyed Cedar Falls with prior to my 'grown-up' (if you will) life had gone on to their very own 'grown-up'-lives, and yet, Cedar Falls remained untainted, perhaps even more charming than ever before! There's constantly something going on downtown; whether it be a meeting over lunch, musicians sharing their talents with the rest of us, or a even celebration of motorcycles. (Yes, MOTORCYCLES!) 

People come together in times of need here. People smile here. People LIVE here. 

I can't quite put my finger on whether the change is in me or this lovely little town, but a change most certainly has happened and I think it's nothing less than wonderful.

Check out this local artist for one of my very favorite paintings:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When there's nothing to believe in, I believe in you
Forget the past and let my hand in yours be the proof
Though the strong could be my company, you're the one I choose
So remember, I believe in you

I know it feels like every eye is watching you
Waiting for you to fall, expecting you to lose
But I see victory, so all you have to do
Is remember, I believe in you

I believe, even when I see you crying
I believe, let me dream for you
When nothing comes from trying
Remember, I believe in you

There will come a day when love will lift you out of there
There will come a day when love will bring the truth
There will come a day when love will free you from your fear
And you'll remember, I believe in you

I believe, even when I see you crying
I believe, let me dream for you
When nothing comes from trying
Remember, I believe in you...

"I Believe In You" by Bethany Dillon

Sunday, June 12, 2011

honored to capture these moments!

I just have to share some of the latest photos I've taken!! Makes me EVEN MORE anxious to have a sweet family of my own someday!

Christy is like a sister to me, her sister, Katie, has been a dear friend and confidant of mine for the past decade! (Yikes! Such a grown-up word!) I was actually in Europe when she and Kyle got married. This, in and of itself, broke my heart... thankfully she had an amazing photograher with a huge heart and who was fabulous, not only with photographs but with words as well, Lydia Jane Photography -- (click the link, then scroll down to 'Mr. & Mrs. Chaplin')... Lydia's ability to capture these precious moments of Christy and Kyle's big day brought tears to my eyes while I was far, far away a year and a half ago... and still have the same power today!

NEEDLESS TO SAY, knowing Christy and Kyle had such a phenomenal photographer for their wedding photos, I was incredibly honored that they'd ask me to take pictures of their family!

They sure make a great team!

Another Katie-friend of mine, has a super cute friend with a super cute baby bump... the two talked, cute little miss baby bump contacted me, and here you have it! My very first maternity shoot!!! SO MUCH FUN!! :)

These two were not only fun... they were troopers too! Rain and all!

Haha... Did I mention they were fun?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sometimes... okay, a lot of times when I blog, I just need a place to store signifigant quotes and the thoughts that go with them... today's focus: Mother Teresa.

“May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones. Let it allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.” Mother Teresa

My dear friend, Hannah, saw this picture and said something along the lines of how it was very true to who I am. When I first read the previous quote of Mother Teresa's this moment in time and photo were what popped into my head. All of the details she mentioned were true at this time. I can't help but believe God's creation pulls those confidences out of me. :)

Such a great truth. Ah. I think someday I shall walk around with this as my walking billboard. :)

'The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow, do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough, give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway. —Mother Teresa'

How easily I forget this! How easily I am discouraged not even by someone's words of disapproval, but by a facial expression or some other body language that probably does, but might not even pertain to me in the slightest! Good grief. I really need to meditate on the fact that it's always first between me and God, and hopefully through my encounters with Him others will be blessed.

Sometimes I really struggle in life because I allow myself to become complacent. I neglect to search for the answers of questions I've always wondered. I forget to sit in awe of the magnificent things I never will understand. I forget to explore and find the unknown/unfamiliar. I stop going out of my way to be kind to strangers. But then I remember this little nugget of gold. And I remember the joy of being enlightened by truth. I remember the wonder of awesome things our Creator has made for our enjoyment. I remember the excitement of new beauty, new birth, fresh air, adrenaline, exhileration. I remember how my heart swells when people respond to kindness from a stranger... I remember how by making someone else smile, it makes me smile too... I'm getting off quote... must. re. focus.

Lately I've been dwelling on hurts of the past few weeks. I've been replaying them in my head and letting them change my demeanor and response to others... not for the better either. I need to remember that yesterday is gone and with more love there will be no hurt, right? :) Reminds me of my third grade teacher, Mrs. Loughren. She always would encourage us to 'kill our enemies with kindness'. I'm not talking about any enemies, but she's so right! Love conquers!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

As of lately, I've been thinking about the furious love of God.

These words are not my own. Okay, so a few of them are, but mostly they are the words of an extremely gifted author, who if you're unfamiliar with... you should become familiar with him just as soon as possible; Brennan Manning.

'Justification by grace through faith' | 'the furious love of God'.

He is not moody or capricious {impulsive, unpredictable}; He knows no seasons of change.
He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us.
He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners.
The Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course this is almost too incredible for us to accept.
Nevertheless, through no merit of ours, but by His mercy, we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death and resurrection of His beloved Son. This is the Good News, the gospel of grace.

While reading Matthew 9.9-13 you find Jesus actively portraying this gospel of grace.

'As he moved on, Jesus saw a man named Matthew at his post where taxes were collected. He said to him, 'Follow me.' Matthew got up and followed him. Now it happened that, while Jesus was at the table in Matthew's house, many tax collectors and those known as sinners came to join Jesus and his disciples at dinner. The Parisees saw this and complained to his disciples, 'What reason can the Teacher have for eating with tax collectors and those who disregard the law?' Overhearing their remark, he said, 'People who are in good health do not need a doctor; sick people do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.' I have come not to call the self-righteous but sinners.'

Over and over again we find the beautiful nugget of truth (one that's so easy to overlook!)

Jesus comes for sinners.

He comes for the outcasts and those caught up in poor decisions and failed dreams.
He comes for corporate executives, street people superstars, farmers, hookers, addicts, IRS agents, AIDS victims, and even used car salesmen. Jesus not only talks with these people, but he dines with them. He shares life with them. He does this fully aware of the religious bureaucrats who hold high the tokens of their authority to justify their condemnation of the truth and their rejection of the gospel of grace.

Ah, this topic deserves much more time and attention, but it's a great piece to think on throughout your day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

lauren marie photography

Wow! I don't even know where to start to attmept this whole catch up thing! Yikes.

Gosh, there's so many new things to post! I suppose I should start with what consumes most of my thoughts and time -- I've decided to COMMIT to school and study photography! I'm currently on the waiting list for our local college's photography program, but am taking precourse classes to pass the time (and accomplish the complete amount of credits I need!)

Thanks to my great friend, Katie, I've mustered up the courage to start taking photos of people while I'm waiting for my program to start... I MUST say... it has been SO much fun. I've created a 'Facebook Page' of what I've done so far... it's a little sparce, just FYI. Lauren Marie Photography is where you can find these tidbits. Just in case that doesn't work for you, here are a few of my favorites:

These are a handful of Miss Katie, whom I mentioned just a few sentences before, and her fiancé, Matt:

While these are of my friends Ethan and Jordans' little siblings! Crazy to me, but little Josiah and Annie are all grown up and have fallen in love and are getting MARRIED! :)

Unfortunately for me, it seems all my friends are just ridiculously good looking and photogenic... so I can't really take much credit!

Ah, gotta run... more catchup later!