Otherworld

It was situated in a desolate parking lot. Where are we? We drove in to be greeted by empty store windows, brand names peeled from the exterior walls with only the glue and sun stain to mark it’s past box store resident, abandoned trash cans, and aging pavement throughout the parking lot.

We were in Columbus, Ohio, which made the emptiness feel even more strange. This is large city crawling with people and then there’s… this? A desert of sorts. This itself was possibly an unintentional (but maybe completely intentional) introduction to the immersion art we were about to experience.

Otherworld.

When you walk in, there are a few ways you can go. There are lights. There are noises. There is art. There are hidden passage ways. There are secrets written in the art. You can make music with the art.

There are eyes everywhere. A room where the light follows you. A room where if you touch the gems on the wall, the shatter. Mirrors echoing neon lights as you walk through them.

You really have to feel your way around because there are hidden rooms right behind curtains that don’t look like curtains. Touch everything. Crawl through everything.

Visit the room full of your childhood toys. Visit the room full of spiders. There is an office full of psychology books. There is a room with a graveyard and large manic looking figures. Twins. Visit the ocean room. Visit the room with the man eating plants, close to the center of it all.

Just go. Immerse yourself in the strange yet beautiful art. Look at it all. Touch it all.

*I would like to add – it is pretty kid friendly. I took my 2.5 year old and she loved it.

10 years

Cheers to 10 Years and many more!!

That’s right. My husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary yesterday. It’s been an adventurous decade. We met in 2007 and got married shortly after in 2009.

We started our marriage by totally uprooting our lives and moving to the Azores! We lived there for two years, gained a cute pup, made life long friends, and soaked up the culture.

We eventually packed up our things and moved our family to Okinawa, where we spent 3 years breathing in that tropical ocean air. Japan taught us a lot – mostly how to be gentler humans in such a busy world.

4 years ago, we settled into our new home in Ohio. We bought a house, had a baby, lost our cute pup to sudden illness, went through two deployments, and fell I love with the gem city. Ohio will always have a special place in our hearts.

It was a beautiful, but quick 10 years. We’ve had a lucky run. Plenty of ups and downs, but we always manage to pull it together, together.

But here we are, celebrating our 10 year wedding anniversary while preparing our home for the market – We will be on the move again soon! Our family is packing up and moving to…

Little Rock, Arkansas!

Oakes Quarry

We went on a little adventure recently and guys, this is a true hidden gem. I’ve always casually heard about an old quarry that was turned into a park. Never really thought anything of it even though it’s under 10 minutes from my house – That’s it!

So you know how long it took me to get there? 2 years since I heard about it. Well we headed out there the other night for an evening adventure… and fell in love.

Walking down the rocky path sends you into another existence. I did not feel like I was in Ohio at all. It was 89° and the sun was beating down on us and this rocky desert like scene.

Yes, this is an appreciation post just for an old quarry in Fairborn, Ohio. Pics below and if you live near here – GO! It’s got plenty to see and a nice 2 mile walk amongst the rocks. (There is a quick history below the photos)

I even headed back out there a few days later to do a photo shoot with the ever so lovely and dark Aniyahlationn

Back in 1929, it was surface mined for limestone. The Oakes family purchased it in the 90’s and eventually donated the land to the city of Fairborn in 2003.

The park has a 2 mile foot trail and 1 mile horse trail. It’s the 2nd largest park in Fairborn and it is a beauty. Keep a look out for wildlife and fossils! The last time I was there, we saw swarms of Buckeye Butterflies!

Reclaiming photographer

I have spent a lot of time behind the camera – teaming up with amazing people who enjoy modeling and makeup artists who have amazing talent. Heck, our awesome collaborations have even gotten us published in magazines a couple of times!

I had been practicing my craft for as long as I can remember. I have always loved being behind the camera. It was in 2009 though when I took it up a notch by creating a website and properly advertising.

I had many volunteers who enjoyed modeling just as much as I enjoyed shooting. We’d come up with new ideas for photo shoots and spend a couple of hours just playing around. It was some of the best times and it was a great way to explore wherever we were living at the time.

In 2017, my husband deployed soon after our daughter was born. After much contemplation, I decided that I wouldn’t have time to plan, execute, & edit like I used to. I quietly deconstructed my website and portfolio… putting it away for safe keeping.

Now I still did a few shoots for a couple of close friends. I just wasn’t advertising for new clients. I’ve been itching to get back into it. It’s one of my creative outlets that I haven’t been able to use.

So how do I reclaim myself as photographer?

Honestly, it’s been hard to get back into the swing of things. I’ve had a dedicated page on this website for a few months now that will eventually hold my portfolio. I have started keeping up with an Instagram though, so that’s progress! I have even put feelers out there for models to practice on. It’s all coming together, so why do I feel so nervous?

I photographed people for years – countless beautiful faces. It’s a craft I’ve been studying since I was a teenager. Something though – something has me holding back from the big jump.

Wish me luck, guys.

PSA FOR CONCERT GOERS

I have to share something with you guys.

Last Monday, my husband and I went to a concert while our amazing friends watched our daughter. We drove out to Cincinnati to see Lil Wayne & Blink182 – which honestly fulfilled some teenage dreams for us.

But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. It’s about what we tried for the first time and I will NEVER attend another concert without them.

That’s right… look at the photo again! We wore hearing protection to a concert. Why? We are old. No, I’m kidding. We actually heard a tip that it would make the concert experience much more enjoyable and it did!

The earplugs took out all of the extra static noise and buzz from the speaker & audience. The performing artist’s voices and the music was so much more clear. It honestly sounded like we were listening to it right off of the album.

So PSA to all of you concert attendees – Not only do you protect your hearing, but you hear the concert clearly making your experience that much better!

Dayton Area Fall Favorites

It’s finally September, so if you haven’t gotten spooky yet – now is the time! I started decorating around August 1st because I was just too excited to wait. Would you be interested in some Fall decor photos?

Since moving to Dayton, Stephen and I have developed some favorite annual Fall events that we always attend. It’s been super exciting to share that with CJ as she gets older. We LOVE autumn. The tree changing colors, the welcoming fall decor, all of the mums, spooky decor, and the crisp cool air speaks to us.

Two weeks ago was the Fairborn Sweet Corn Festival and even though this is mid August, it really feels like the start of autumn for us. It’s held every year around the 3rd weekend of August at the Fairborn Community Park. The dinner is what draws us in – blackened chicken, corn fritters, lemonade, and fresh steamed & delicious corn!

Another favorite is Katie’s Pumpkin Barn. This is a small place and it is not a u-pick pumpkin patch. It is better because it is literally a barn full of every color, shape, and size of pumpkin you could imagine. The barn is always decorated for the spooky season and usually opens at the start of September.

They have a live stock that you can look at and sometimes pet. They even have a small corn maze that is super friendly for small children. I think what I love the most is the classic Halloween decorations. Katie’s is our favorite stop in Autumn!

Peifer Orchards is a new place that we explored last year. We went Apple Picking! Again, this venue isn’t huge, which is what we loved about it. They sell mums, baked goods, pumpkins, and apples. You can do your own apple picking, which is so fun! It’s a bit of a walk down the path, so if you have little kids make sure to bring their strollers. CJ got tired and just sat down in the middle of the trail last year after all of the excitement. This year, we will bring the stroller.

Honorary mentions –

Tecumpsah Land Trust for Sunflowers – its best to check their Facebook for updates about the fields.

Hiking at the smaller family friendly trail at Wegerzyn once the leaves begin to turn.

Apple Butter Festival in Enon in October 12th & 13th

Sauerkraut Festival, if you don’t mind give crowds! October 12th & 13th in Waynesville.

Potato Festival – get there early to beat the crowds. I recommend the potato ribbons! Happening on October 5th & 6th in Spring Valley

Ohio Renaissance Festival is a must! Now -Oct 27th on Saturdays and Sundays

5 Tips for the Three Rs

Every Wednesday, Layla from Lettered Cottage does a segment called “Let’s Go With Layla” on her Instagram and she shares 5 tips, ideas, or cool finds that she spots out and about. A few weeks ago, she decided to open the floor up to anyone who wanted to participate and host their own Let’s Go With Layla!

Stepping WAY out of my comfort zone, I decided to hop on Instagram and share a few of my favorite five tips in the topic of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

So let’s go (with Layla!)

Tip One: Cutting out the plastic water bottles! I’m actually super guilty of this. I’m very weird about drinking water from the sink – I always have been. So up until about March, I was buying water bottles by the 24pack. Between my husband and I, we would put out 60-70 bottles a WEEK!

I finally had enough so I just dove in and bought a water filter while I was at the grocery store. It has reduced our recycling waste by a bunch and I feel much better about our smaller impact on plastic use.

This is the one I purchased from the grocery store Classic 18 Cup Dispenser

Tip Two: Ditch the plastic shopping bags! I invested less than $7 in reusable grocery bags from my local grocery store and haven’t looked back since! I always take them with me! Pro Tip: buy a clip to hang them from the cart, so you take up less space inside the cart. It’s so nice not bringing all of that one use plastic into my home. Luckily lots of stores now recycle their plastic bags, so you can just bring them back to the store if you’ve got a collection or forget your reusable bags.

I want to add that I just switched to using mesh bags for my fruits and vegetables instead of those super thin & hard to recycle plastic bags in the produce section. I love them so much! Click here for the Mesh Bags I bought on Amazon.

Tip Three: Regifting Books/Library Card! I joined a challenge in January on Facebook where if you shared the post, you agreed to send one book each to the first 5 people who commented, as long as they also shared it and committed to the challenge.

It got me thinking – I tend to read books and just leave them sitting on a shelf for… well, ever. So now aside from this challenge, I’m also making it a habit to regift these books. I’ve also stepped up my library book borrowing game up.

Tip Four: I try to be really smart about buying CJ toys. I tend to buy less toys that have batteries and buttons because they break easier, creating more waste. I also look for toys made from recycled items. Bonus points if those toys are second-hand, but I always deep clean them when I get them that way. Don’t worry – she has plenty of new loud and bright toys too.

Tip Five: Reusable straws & cups are a favorite in this house. I purchased some reusable straws on amazon and have collected an assortment of reusable water and coffee cups over the years. Most places don’t mind you using your own – some even encourage it.

The straws came in a carrying pouch, so I can keep them in my purse. The cups are harder to carry around, but they do encourage me to just fill up at home. That ultimately saves a little bit of money – especially at the coffee shop!

So there you have it! 5 easy ways to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle! What are some of your favorite 3R Tips?