Four Month Recap

My last post was in March so it’s fair to say I have been a little behind. Part of this was intentional. I was running for Vice President of the National Organization for Women and had decided to scale back on my business to run for office. I ran with China Fortson-Washington on the Rise Up NOW ticket and although we lost, it was an incredible experience. It definitely made me realize I want to run for public office and that I have the stamina to do so! 

So besides running for office, what else have I been up to?

California in March

Ross had to go to San Diego for work so I decided to do a little solo travel visiting friends along the California coast before meeting him in San Diego. I flew into San Francisco and met up with my friend Dana who is studying Landscape Architecture at Berkley. I got to visit San Francisco again, explore Oakland, hike Muir Beach, and spend time with one of my favorite friends. I also reminisced about the last time I was in San Francisco and Ross and I fell hard for each other. It’s our city of love. 

I then flew to Los Angeles, a city I had never visited before. It reminded me a lot of Miami. Lots of traffic, palm trees, and it has a naturally cool vibe. I loved the food everywhere I went except In ‘N Out. I honestly don’t get the hype. I would take McDonald’s over In ‘N Out any day especially when you compare their fries! My favorite part was just walking around and taking photos. Everything was colorful and laid back. I went hiking in Runyon Canyon, visited the Griffith Observatory, strolled Hollywood, stopped by the Chinese Theater, and shopped on Rodeo Drive. On the day I was supposed to visit Venice Beach it rained, so I definitely plan on going back to visit.  I got to see my friend Gina briefly who is attending UCLA and a couple other friends Paul and Katie who took me to Koreatown for some delicious Korean food.

My last stop was San Diego. I took the train from LA and it was absolutely beautiful. It reminded me of the train from Lisbon to Porto in Portugal. Little houses on hills and mountains overlooking the water. While Ross was working during the day, I explored San Diego a bit more. We had been once before and it’s one of our favorite cities. I almost went to grad school there but decided to move back to Miami. I don’t regret the decision but we both agree San Diego is amazing and we could live there in a heartbeat.

Got Married in Key Largo, FL

Ross and I celebrated eight years together on March 30th and then got married two weeks later on April 15th! I held a Sisterhood Soiree for my oldest, closest girlfriends from elementary school to college and we ate pastelitos, drank Cuban coffee, and hung out. We then had a welcome party at the famous Caribbean Club for everyone attending the wedding. We wanted people to get to know each other and for the weekend to be one big, fun party. On Saturday, we got ready, did a first look at Island Home Nursery, and then got married on my parent’s estate. My mother, owner of Keys Parties, outdid herself once again and decorated the venue in an elegant and personal way that only she could do. We surprised everyone with Hora Loca dancers to keep the party going and danced the night away. The next morning we had a small breakfast with mimosas and cinnamon buns from Knaus Berry Farm and said farewell to our guests. To say it was the best weekend of our lives is an understatement. 

Campaigned in Florida

Since the election was held in Orlando, FL, I did a little week long road trip around Florida to campaign. I had flown into Miami to surprise my mom for her birthday and after spending a weekend with my family celebrating my mom, I took off on a solo campaign road trip. I got to talk to people from all over Florida including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Melbourne, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Sarasota. While I was in Miami, I got to visit the beach and I realized it had been way too long since I had been to the beach. I love living in DC, but I miss the beach all the time and don’t get out to it enough. But let’s be real, the mid-Atlantic doesn’t compare to the Caribbean.

Visited the Great Western USA

After the election, Ross and I flew to Salt Lake City to celebrate July 4th with one of my closest friends Jess and her husband Clay. We hiked everyday which was much needed considering I had been cooped up inside making phone calls for the election for way too long. We drove from SLC to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and camped in a prairie in front of the Grand Tetons. Those mountains are truly incredible and I can’t wait to go back. We woke up the next day, hiked all day in the Tetons, and made the drive through Wyoming to Yellowstone. Every time we thought we had seen the most beautiful mountain or animal, the scenery changed, and kept surprising us. This part of the US is truly magical and I recommend everyone go out and visit this part of the US. We made our way to Livingston, Montana where we rented a house with three other couples. All of us women in the group had worked together with our good friend Maddie who was marrying Caleb also from WRI. It was so great to catch up and it felt like time hadn’t passed. We all enjoyed hiking and shopping around the area and Ross and I got to visit Bozeman while we were in town too. Maddie and Caleb got married in a gorgeous valley right outside of Livingston and we all danced and drank the night away. 

We drove back to SLC, had one more day to visit with Jess and Clay, and then we set off back to DC. I went to Europe shortly after. My thinking was that if I had won the election, I wouldn’t have had a vacation in a while, so better to get one in. If I had lost the election, which I did, then it would be something to look forward to. I had a great ten days in London and Paris but I’ll put leave that for another day. It’s been a great few months and thank you to everyone who supported me, China, and our campaign along the way!

Costa Rican Honeymoon

Where have the last two months gone?! That’s the last time I blogged and I feel like honestly so much has happened I can’t even keep up. Ross and I closed on our new home and moved in the first week of February (!) and it has been nonstop since! Oh yea, and we also went on our honeymoon at the end of January which is what this post is about today. Costa Rica was beautiful and lush and the people were so friendly. We stayed at an all inclusive resort and it was so easy. The only decision we had to make was when we wanted to eat. It was glorious. The resort was beautiful and although we ate and drank way too much, I am hoping to fit back into my wedding dress by the time the wedding comes around (yea, still have to do that whole wedding thing). 

Little guy hanging out in the hotel

The first day we arrived we hung out in the resort and ate dinner and confirmed our excursion for the next day. We had booked a whole day excursion to hike Arenal Volcan. We walked through the tree tops on the side of the volcano and took a boat tour around the base of the volcano. The whole day was magical and it ended with a steam in a hot spring and then dinner in the tree tops. 

The rest of the days were spent lounging on the beach, eating, and drinking Bahama Mamas. It got so bad that basically ever bartender knew to get one ready for me as soon as they saw me coming. We did a short day trip to Playa Coco which was beautiful and lively. 

On Sunday, the day before we were set to leave, we booked another full day excursion called Pure Adrenaline. The day included zip lining, water sliding, and horseback riding. It was so beautiful to be in the mountains again and see the volcano from a different point of view. The waterslide was pretty intense and rough so we only went down once. The horseback riding was our favorite part because we got to go “off-roading” with the horses and see the beautiful mountains at a slower pace than in a car. My horse was acting a little weird and tripped over himself once or twice so I was feeling extra cautious and sure enough, on the last ascent up a steep hill, he fell and threw me off. Luckily I landed on my bum and hands so I walked away with a bunch of scratches and a huge bruise but no other damage. Everyone went for a mud bath and then rinsed off in the hot springs as I laid on a chair icing my bum.  Needless to say, it was quite the dramatic ending to the day. 

We got to see a sloth!

Rest stop for coffee

The trip was wonderful, beautiful, and relaxing. I would definitely recommend Costa Rice as a honeymoon destination!

Where do you want to go on your honeymoon? Have you been on any cool trips lately? Let me know in the comments :)

p.s. I am shooting for my next blog to be on our new home. Stay tuned!

Almost Home

In my last post I mentioned that Ross and I are waiting on the appraisal for a house we are in contract with and while I don’t want to mention any more details until it is finalized (silly superstition) I did want to share some details of how I will style the home. While I was in the hospital with my sister, I had a lot of time on my hands to scour Pinterest and dream about the home we would own one day. Now that it has become more of a reality, I can’t wait to move in and make it ours. I have, naturally, made a spreadsheet of all the furniture and miscellaneous stuff we need with cost estimates. If everything goes smoothly, we should be able to move in by the end of the month! And then we leave for our honeymoon to Costa Rica, so it will be crazy, but exciting nevertheless.  

To start off with, I want to paint the whole house in Benjamin Moore’s Super White. Studio McGee put together a helpful color swatch below. 

Here is Super White in action! I also love that rug but I could go on for dayyyys about my love for rugs and how I am styling each room based on the colors and patterns of the rugs I find for each room. I will follow up with a separate blog post.

We are making one of the smaller bedrooms into a wardrobe/vanity/getting ready room and I am OBSESSED with these Ikea PAX Wardrobe systems. They are affordable, bloggers rave they are good quality, and there are a million ways to customize them.

One of the bedrooms will become my home office and I can’t wait to have a space that has all of my equipment, my collection of old cameras, and an area to store my magazines and inspiration materials. Right now my cameras are back in the Keys with my parents in a box, my magazines are on my nightstand with my random books, and my equipment sits in a chair when it isn’t being used. Needless to say, it’s everywhere and it drives me a little nuts. 

I want to have a work station like this one and then have the other half be an open area where I can work out in OR have a daybed to relax and edit on. Haven’t quite decided yet though I am leaning towards a workout/stretch area.

It’s so cold and all I want to do is cozy up into all these perfectly layered beds I have been seeing. I love this rug for my master bedroom colors inspiration and love the bench as well. Since we will have more space, Ross and I will be building more of the pieces we want since we love doing these kind of projects together. 

I am using this bedroom as my inspiration for our master bedroom. I love how inviting and gender neutral it is. The wood side tables add some warmth to the bedroom and the photos add a nice artistic touch and bring your eyes to a focal point when you first enter. I can’t wait to layer and then never leave my bed. 

We will have a small patio that’s just big enough for entertaining. I love how they used this space and the neutral colors make the greenery pop out even more! I can’t wait for the spring so we can host some BBQs. I want to throw a Latin style carnaval too with our neighbors as a way to get to know them. Hopefully they will love this idea and not think I am nuts. Gotta bring some Miami flavor to DC right?

What websites or blogs do you follow for inspiration? How do you keep your home warm when it’s freezing outside? Do you change your decor based on the season?

2016, What a year!

First off, let me start by saying Happy New Year! 2016 was a rollercoaster of a year for sure. I started the year off working on the Hillary campaign and Ross was at Harvard University for their intense Labor program. My grandmother Mima then passed away, leaving heart ache and confusion over what to do with her home and things. Our good friends Jess and Clay eloped and their wedding photos are some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen. Then we flew to Atlanta to watch another favorite couple of ours, Mikhail and Santosha, get married in a lovely garden. We made it to New York to visit friends, Boston to visit family, and then I went to Miami and the Keys to start on a home renovation project. What was supposed to be a month long “helping mom sort through Mima’s stuff and working on some room renovations and styling” turned into 2.5 months of me living in the Keys and working on all things home related. I tore down walls and drop down ceiling, planted, cleaned, painted, sorted through old things, and cried, a lot. Most importantly, I gained clarity in those few months. I have always wanted to own my own business and those 2.5 months made me realize I could do photography and interior styling, allowing me creative freedom I had never had before. I couldn’t wait to get back to DC and get started.

I still hadn’t decided to make the leap until I had secured more clients and contracts so I could have some financial security. I worked at the pig on 14th to make extra money and kept busy. As soon as I secured two contracts with two well known companies as a photographer, I filed for my DC business registration, got my taxes and paperwork in order, and set out to become a full fledged, DC business owner. July 24, 2016 was my official opening date. My shooting schedule became quite intense, so I left the pig, and continued to expand my business, gaining new clients through mostly word of mouth (thank you!)

I traveled to Vegas over Labor Day weekend for my bachelorette party where 13 of my closest friends and family joined me for a weekend of silly fun filled with drinking, dancing, sightseeing, and almost-naked men dancing around us. I am so thankful they were all able to make it out for a trip I will never forget. Later in September brought Cory (Ross’ BFF) and Whitley together in matrimony in Philly, one of my favorite cities. We ate dumplings in Chinatown, shopped, and marveled at how three of our closest friends had gotten married and that we were next! 

In October I was celebrated once again, in a Kate Spade themed bridal shower with close family and friends at my sister’s new house. It was a lovely afternoon and afterwards my cousins took me out for a Keys style bachelorette party. The next day I celebrated Carin (good friend and freshmen roomate) and Koty at their wedding in the Keys. It was lovely and each wedding made me more and more excited for our wedding. I traveled for a quick weekend to Orlando to hang out with my god kids and meet Lorelai, the newborn of my good friends Tiffany and Matt.

Unfortunately birthday and wedding plans were derailed when my younger sister Mallory fell deathly ill with endocarditis, a bacterial infection which affects the heart. She was hospitalized the Sunday before our wedding and put into an induced paralytic coma for septic shock. We don’t know why this happened and I have asked the universe why was it around what was supposed to be such a happy time. I don’t know and I have since stopped asking. Mallory is ok, getting better day by day, and that’s all I can ask for. Ross and I drove down for one afternoon to see his family that had come from Germany for the wedding and various other friends and family that decided to make the trip into a vacation. All of our friends and family AND the wedding vendors were so understanding and accommodating, and for that, we are eternally grateful. 

Mallory was released the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and needless to say, we had a lot to be thankful for. Ross and I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in years and I marveled at the turn of events. Those 2.5 weeks in the hospital were tough. But we came out of it, stronger and more grateful for the second chance of having Mallory in our lives. She enriches each person she meets and we were so grateful for everyone’s prayers and positive energy.

We came back to DC once Mallory was stable and we started the house hunting process once again. We found one and submitted a contract and are now waiting on the appraisal (!!!). We got to meet Zoe, the newest addition to good friends Jen and Deivid’s family. We came back to Florida for the holidays, ate and drank a lot, and celebrated in Charleston for New Years Eve. 

While 2016 was a crazy year with lots of ups and downs, I am not writing it off as the worst year ever. 2016 allowed me to celebrate multiple couples we love, gave me opportunities for lots of travel (and I got to meet Hillary Clinton), and brought me lots of clarity on my professional life. It also brought me back my sister and really, there was nothing better than seeing her wake up and watching her get better each day. 

Cheers to 2017 and many wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!

Good Jobs Now! Rally

Yesterday I had the pleasure of shooting for Change to Win’s Good Jobs Now! campaign in Freedom Plaza.  “The central objective of the Change to Win Strategic Organizing Center is to unite the 50 million American workers who work in industries that cannot be outsourced or shipped overseas into strong unions that can win them a place in the American middle class – where their jobs provide good wages, decent working conditions and a voice on the job.” It was energizing to be shooting at a rally and reminded me why I love photography and how powerful it can be. The crowd was so diverse and pumped up and it made me feel a little more hopeful about the president elect. I have been pretty down about the results and needed to feel and see some action, to feel as though we (those who are not happy about the new administration) are organized and unified. See below some of my favorite photos from the event! 

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