My First REAL Christmas Tree

This year, for the first time (that I can remember) I got a REAL Christmas tree to celebrate the holidays. It makes me feel so happy to be welcomed by a twinkling tree when I walk through my front door.

After searching around for a nearby tree farm, we found a sign that said “TREES” and up the hill we went. Sitting on a bench, were a cluster of hand saws and the tree keeper told us to walk up the path and there would be rows of trees to pick from. How fun!

Investigating each and every tree, I found that most of them had gaps at the bottom, were too small, not full enough or didn’t have the Christmas tree “feel”…. until I spotted this bushy blue spruce. It seemed a little too fat and had very prickly limbs but I knew it had to be mine.

So John got on the ground and sawed it down for me and carried it through the forest.

And the tree keeper pulled it through the tree-wrapper-thing. We tied it to the top of my car with a little bit of twine and hit the road.

A night of decorating along with Christmas music, red wine and pizza was the perfect start to the holiday season.

Just little warm lights and gold glittery balls.

Jaxson loves the real tree. He sleeps by it all day and all night.

Have you already decorated this year? What kind of tree do you usually put up? A real one is a ton of work but a lasting reward!


Everyone knows how important it is to cast your ballot, no matter who you’re voting for so be sure to VOTE if you haven’t already!

Yesterday, I spontaneously attended the Obama rally in Ohio and had to share my experience.

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I don’t typically discuss my political views on social media but I love election time! Not the excessive ads and the perceived brainwashing (on either side) but the passion and energy that comes along with campaigns.

Last year I had the opportunity to visit the White House, the year before, I was invited to take photos of Air Force One during a stop in Columbus and the year before that, I took my first trip to our nation’s capital. To me, it was incredibly mesmerizing. The image I found most beautiful about Washington was right in front of the tulip covered U.S. Capitol: yards and yards of people, all different cultures, beliefs, races and ages, all laying on the same bed of grass. That is what being an American is all about. Individuality and freedom.

Have a voice. It’s your time to shine.

Things I Love About Autumn (Photos + Playlist)

Running and hiking in the crunchy leaves

Pumpkin patches!

Apple picking – and then baking homemade apple pies

The smell of firewood

Pumpkin spice coffee

Snuggling up on the couch with a good book

Pumpkin flavored everything

Cooking homemade soup

Wearing scarves and flannels

Autumn Inspired Playlists: [Listen Here]

  1. The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904
  2. First Aid Kit – Wolf
  3. M. Ward – Pure Joy
  4. Vetiver – Roll On Babe
  5. The National – Fake Empire
  6. The Lumineers – Stubborn Love
  7. Fruit Bats – Seaweed
  8. Beach House – Myth
  9. Alexi Murdoch – Blue Mind
  10. Iron & Wine – Lion’s Mane
  11. Andrew Bird – Give It Away
  12. Sufjan Stevens – For the Widows in Paradise
  13. Camera Obscura – Tears for Affairs
  14. Ryan Adams – Two
  15. First Adi Kit – Emmylou
  16. Blitzen Trapper – Furr
  17. Guillemots – Fleet
  18. Neko Case – Maybe Sparrow
  19. The Walkmen – Heaven
  20. Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap

What are your favorite things about this beautiful season?

Things I Learned On The Beach

It was 6AM each morning when I awoke to the orange sun rising over the ocean and the waves rolling into the shore. Seven days in the Outer Banks with family and my dog was the re-charge I was looking for in my life (two weeks ago). Although I worked 65% of the trip, it was much more relaxing without distraction and in a completely different zone, where I could really focus on the project at hand. It seems that working from the beach exclusively would be much better for my productivity, yes?

While on vacation, I awoke each morning to watch the sunrise, read a little on the porch with the pup, take a jog, get coffee from this little coffeeshop/bakery down the road and then in the middle of working, I played in the ocean, of course! Here are some of the things I learned on the beach:

(1) Get off the kayak before the last surf into the coastline.

The flags on the beach were out to warn of danger but being adventurous, we decided to take the kayaks out to test our luck. Unfortunately, the flags were right – the waves were crashing into the shore viciously and after only a few minutes out in the wild ocean, we chose to come back in. I was doing all right until the last surf came crashing into the coastline, launching me and the boat into the air, over top of the wave and crashing back into the ocean. The kayak rolled over top of me and smashed my head straight into the sand. My neck was sore for days. Lesson learned: don’t try to ride the kayak in on a treacherousness day.

(2) Bring an audio-book for the road-trip. 

From Columbus, the drive to Outer Banks takes about 11 hours. To pass the time, I created a few playlists, listened to NPR, played on my iPad, worked on my laptop and also listened to a few audio-books. I ordered Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine  because I am attending a seminar in which he is the speaker discussing how teams can achieve their full potential. It seemed right up my alley but as soon as I turned it out, his voice put me to sleep. Literally. So I had to switch gears fast.

I went to the extreme and turned on The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. You see, Gary is the kind of guy that is just so fun to listen to. I actually prefer hearing his books to reading them. He’s energetic, passionate and just by listening to him get pumped, you will too. By the end of the book, I was ready to take on the world. Make sure you listen to a short snippet of the book before committing to an entire roadtrip together.

(3) Time doesn’t matter.

Even if you aren’t an early person, try to wake up one morning just to watch the sunrise. It’s such a peaceful site to see the sun coming up over the ocean – something that you will never experience in an inland state. After that , you can go back to sleep or stay up and nap in the afternoon. The beauty of a beach trip is that time doesn’t matter. I found myself working early, sleeping midday on the beach and then staying up late.

(4) Be prepared to eat…and eat… and eat.

The most food ever. Just before the trip, I spent a lot of time focusing on working out, my juice diet and cooking healthy meals at home for dinner. I even brought the juicer on the trip and stopped at the farmer’s market on the way to pick up some fresh produce. It was supposed to be a week of healthy eating but boy was I wrong. Every single night we had an enormous meal and the following day I would say I wasn’t going to have another giant seafood meal and then sure enough, dinnertime came and everyone was gearing up for a feast. Next time, I’m going for one meal skip. Maybe just champagne for dinner (like the photo of the stormy beach night above)

(5) No running on the beach!  Just find a nearby trail.

On the first day, I attempted to run on the beach in the morning. I bought those weird toe shoes and thought it would be a good way to get my morning exercise but after a couple hours, my shins and calves both felt stiffer and more sore than they ever had and it was just a few miles. Day two, I got back out there for more and found that I could barley even walk in the sand. It was time to change my method. I found a nearby trail and after a lot of stretching, it was a much better idea. Sure beach running like Baywatch looks beautiful, but it’s not only hard to do, it’s hard on your body.

Did you go on a beach vacation over the summer? Do you have any tips or advice for someone planning their trip next year?

Hi. Hello!

I’m back with a new beautiful blog designed by the wonderful Allison Lehman of Show + Tell.

(Did I mention she also takes lovely portraits like the one above?)

Follow along and let’s get to know each other all over again. <3


Janine Renee