One Week of No TV

March 22, 2017

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Confession: I’m addicted to TV.

At the end of 2016, Jamie and I admitted to each other that we watch too much TV. It was hard to say out loud because we like TV and we know that after admitting something out loud comes hard work and accountability. “I don’t want to give this up” was my first thought, and boy did that prove to me that something needed to change.

We’ve become accustomed to a lifestyle that involves eating all of our meals in front of the TV, keeping the TV on at all times (I am also addicted to background noise), and staying up too late watching “just one more episode.” I get way too personally invested in TV shows, to the point where I believe that I’m apart of the family or group of people. Crazy, I know.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve been reading The Celebration of Discipline with a sweet friend and last month I read this paragraph below, and it stopped me in my tracks.

“Reject anything that is producing an addition in you. Learn to distinguish between a real psychological need, like cheerful surroundings, and an addition. If you have become addicted to television, by all means sell your set or give it away. Simplicity is freedom, not slavery. Refuse to be a slave to anything but God.”

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I want to create a foundation for our family that is full of eye contact, trying new things and laughing together, instead of watching the next best TV show like a zombie. I want our future children to understand the importance of being together, not just watching TV at night because it’s easy, but truly being together as a family. I want to cultivate a foundation of intentionality, not laziness or conforming to the ways of the world.

If I’m honest, our addiction to TV is hindering our marriage. It’s hindering us from being intentional with one another, giving our full attention and asking meaningful questions. It’s hindering us from being intimate with one another. I refuse to be a slave to anything that is going to put a block in our marriage, so we decided right then and there that there needed to be a change. We wouldn’t go crazy and “sell our set or give it away” but instead we would choose little by little progress. We committed to one week each month with NO tv.

Here’s what we learned from our first week of no TV:
– We got in bed earlier and spent time reading before going to sleep
– We were more willing and excited to spend time with people that we love
– We had way more fun together (dance parties, card games, bed jumping and evening walks)
– We ate dinner at our dining room table with no distractions

I don’t ever want to stop growing. I want to create moments of growth in us as individuals and opportunities to stretch our marriage to do things that are hard and don’t feel normal to the world. We’re currently in our March week of no tv and it has been wonderful. Tonight we’re planning to go to our local nursery to pick out some plants for our backyard!

Married Mountain Weekend 2017

March 6, 2017

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This was our third annual married mountain weekend (see the first one here), something that we made a tradition our first year of marriage. In the beginning it was just three couples and Bokeh. We had all been married that year and were looking for community, a place to openly talk about what was hard, was was joyful and what it looked like to serve our spouse and honor The Lord in our marriage. As the years went on, we continued to add couples that had got married. Last year we added Blair and Quinn, and this year we added Rachael and Brentice. What a blessing this weekend has been for our marriage. Our lives continue to change – we’ve now added babies and more fur babies to our families, but this weekend has stayed the same.

The only way that it has stayed this way over time is because we have fought hard for it. We don’t all live in the same cities or states even, so seeing each other is a fight. A fight against other plans and excuses. A fight of distance and time and vulnerability, but it’s so worth it. To have these married friends who fight to know and love us deeply has been one of the greatest gifts of our marriage.

P.S. I just love these real images. Pajamas, bed head, no makeup and glasses. It doesn’t get much better than that!

Film Processing: Indie Film Lab

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March 2017 Goals

March 3, 2017

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I have come to love our backyard chickens more than I had ever expected. We’ve now had our ladies for 6 months and they have become a part of our family. They have little differentiating personalities, come when I call them and have been loyal in producing the most beautiful and delicious eggs for us! It has brought Jamie and I more joy than we ever expected to be able to share these eggs with people that we love – our family, neighbors and co-workers. Having backyard chickens when you live in a big city has become quite the conversation with people, and it’s been fun to share the joy with them! If you’re in Raleigh, let me know! I would love to share some with you!

Sadly, we lost one of our first chickens, Henreitta about a month ago. We are still calling it a medical mystery, but we think she attacked by some type of large bird. Call me crazy, but I was devastated and when I called Jamie to tell him I had found her dead body in the backyard, he thought that something terrible that happened to me or a family member. (Maybe I was a little bit too dramatic…) A couple weeks later, we decided to get two more chickens (Peep and Sunny) to replace her and little by little the two clans have been getting to know each other and are learning to live together nicely.

I’m looking forward to this month, as Jamie and I have kept our plans to a minimum. I’m excited for weekends at home, daylight savings and spending more time in our backyard as we work to make some big changes in our landscaping!

Finish reading The Zookeeper’s Wife
Read the book of James once a day
Photograph Summit’s Women’s Conference (March 11th)
Help Jamie mulch our backyard
Add another animal to our family
Workout 2x a week
One TV free week (when Jamie and I are together)
Design 2017 quarter 1 Family Yearbook

Artifact Uprising 2016 Family Yearbook

February 21, 2017

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When Jamie and I got married, we decided that we wanted to make yearbooks, filled with images from each year. A book that we could flip through and that would remind us of what we experienced and accomplished. But when I sat down to make this happen, I found that it was going to be way more difficult and take a lot more time than I had anticipated. As a professional photographer, you might think that I had all of our personal images perfectly organized and used to enjoy to my full advantage… but I didn’t. That is until I started following Nancy Ray’s Organizing Your Personal Photos PDF. I put her methods into practice and it’s made the biggest difference. It’s allowed me to take hold of our family’s images and use them in a way that they are enjoyed, not just taking up storage on my phone or computer. It’s allowed me to easily put together our family yearbooks! So easy, that I believe that you can do it to!

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Process For Past Yearbooks:
1. Implement a photo organization process
*If you’re looking to organize your personal photos, I would highly recommend Nancy Ray’s Organizing Your Personal Photos PDF. I can promise you that putting a strict system into place for your photos will allow you to enjoy them more than you had ever hoped!

2. Gather all the images that you would like to use in one folder
Gathering Tips:
– Look through each of your final images folder and copy the images you would like to use for your yearbook into a new folder on your desktop called “AU 2016”
– Copy iPhone images into AU 2016 folder. I use Google Photos to backup my iPhone images! It’s an easy backup for your images and an efficient way to transfer them from your phone to your computer.
– Gather images from other family members if possible. Because it’s only Jamie and me, I just hijack his phone for an hour or so and send all of his pictures to myself to add to the AU 2016 folder.

3. Create an account and choose your book type and design details in Artifact Uprising! Be sure to choose one that you love, because you will want to continue to use the same design so that you have consistency over time! I choose to use the Smoke 8.5×11 Hardcover Photo Book with full dust jacket and 100 pages, but all of their options are awesome!

4. Design your book. I like to do mine in chunks of time rather than sit down for hours to do the whole thing. It allows me to step away and rethink some of the designs.
Designing Tips:
– Less is more! Choose the best images that remind you of that time (1-5), rather than tons of images that all convey the same thing. My favorite layout option is the one image full bleed, as it makes the design look like something out of a magazine!
– Tell the story! Design it chronically if possible. I sit down with my planner and go through month by month to make sure the images align and that I don’t forget anything.
– Don’t be afraid to mix professional photos with iPhone photos!
– Make sure all of your images are the correct size. If you get an exclamation point in the corner of some of the images, it means that they are not going to print well, and you don’t want that! Try to find the original picture, rather than saving it via social media or taking a screenshot of it, as this will compromise the size of the image.

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Process For Current Yearbook:
Follow the same process above, but instead of waiting until the end of the year, add the images to your design quarterly. Set a date on your calendar at the end of each quarter, and use that time to fill your yearbook with photos from the past 3 months. Be strict with your due dates! I promise you, this project will be easy to put off if you let yourself. Don’t let yourself! By the end of the year, your design should be finished and you’ll be able to order your yearbook in January of the following year!

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Thank you so much to Artifact Uprising for partnering with me on this fun project! They graciously helped me with some of the cost of this book, but I would have used them even if they didn’t!

Brown Paper Bag Wine Tasting Party

February 16, 2017

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Whether it’s a casual cookout or a themed party, Jamie and I love to host people in our home and we love to bring people that we love together. A couple weeks ago, we hosted a wine tasting party and we had the best time! We are always looking for fun events to host, and after hearing about this idea from a friend, we knew it would be a good time!

If you’re a fan of red wine, heavy hors d’oeuvres and good company, this party is for you!

Invites:
– I recommend having no more than 12 people (6 couples). The more people you invite, the more wine that you have to try, the longer it takes.
– Explain the rules of the game (see below) and ask each person to bring 2 of the exact same bottles of red wine with a strict spending limit of $10 (1 bottle can range in price anywhere from $00.01 – $10.00). *You can make the spending limit anything that you want, but I would recommend doing at least $10*
– Ask each guest to bring their favorite appetizer to share!

calliedavis-brownpaperbagwineparty-1004 Preparation:
– Print out Tasting Notes, Voting Cards, and Bottle Numbers (according to your number of guests)
– At your local wine store or grocery store, ask for brown paper wine bags to hide each of the tasting bottles.
– We purchased plastic cups and had each guest write their name on it, to keep the wasting of cups to a minimum.
– Be sure to put a spit / washing bucket and a pitcher full of water in the center of the table for people to spit out their wine (drink responsibly!) and to rinse their cup between tastings!

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– When each guest arrives, ask them for both of their bottles of wine
– Take both bottles into a separate room. Put 1 bottle in the “Winners Pile” and use the other for tasting. Put the tasting bottle in a brown paper bag with a number. Be sure to take the cork label off at the top so there is no way to tell which bottle is which.
– Once everyone has arrived, bring all of the bottles out and place them on a table in order from least to greatest.
– Begin the tasting by explaining the rules.
– When you believe everyone has tasted each wine and completely filled out their voting card, gather all the cards for tallying.

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– 3 points for first place
– 2 for second place,
– 1 for third place
– The wine with the most points wins! The guest who brought the first place wine gets to go home with 11 bottles of wine that were set aside at the beginning of the game! Last place has to take their bottle home (because no one wants last place wine!)