Shabby meets Cottage

Forget the 15 bridal magazines that I've subscribed to; just give me some shabby chic meets cottage interior design magazines.  I've been spending 4 of the last 7 days in Barnes and Noble and let me tell you, this place sucks you in like some kind of vortex.  Even though I've got my nose in a series right now, I just have an impulse to buy more books.  I don't like to borrow or rent books . . . there is something about the smell of a brand new book and to know it's only yours makes it that much better.

Anyway . . . where was I?  Oh!  Interior design magazines.  Yes.  I. Love. Them.  I forewarned Josh in a nice way.  I said, hey babe, when you're done playing your video game, can you come look at these magazines to see what I really like and what you're getting into?  He never came.  I took that as a sign of "Honey, I trust you."  Score!  :)  I have finally nailed the look that I am going for.  That shabby chic meets warm cottage.  Think it can't happen?  Oh, it can.  Just you watch! ;)  I even convinced him that as long as I can gather things from thrift stores, antique shops, and barn sales, he won't have to spend much money on "real" furniture.  Again, he didn't respond so I took that as a big "Yes!  You're too cool and I love that you save us money all the time!"  *clears throat and bats eyelashes* ;)

I will have to post some photos of what I'm talking about another time! 

Posted byAshley C. at 10:19 PM 0 Love Notes  

Pile pickin'

Because this was my sister's time of custody with her son, we decided to open Christmas gifts this morning so that he would have time to play with his toys before going back to his dad's tomorrow.  This year was more fun with him than last; he's 2 months shy of 3-years old, so he's all about opening his Christmas gifts (because he already opened a couple and knew what they were so we had to tape them back up!).  It's always fun to hear and feel a kid's joy during Christmas time. 

My sister and I . . . well, we enjoyed it, too.  Every year, it's fun to see what kind of odd things my mom gets us.  This morning for example, as soon as my mom left the room, my sister's pile grew larger because I regifted.  Yes, regifted while opening gifts.  :)  She inherited a colorful array of bobby pins and a rather hideous (sorry, mom!) pair of red and black fluffy sock/slippers.  I also fought her for her awesome pink keychain for my similar blue one until mom stepped in to tell us that they were are birthstones.  Oops!  When my nephew was preoccupied opening his Chuggington train set, tinkertoy, and VeggieTales DVD, I was picking from his pile.  Hey, don't judge me!  The reese's bites and bubble gum were so good! ;)  Next year, I will be married, beginning my own Christmas traditions, so it will be interesting to see how next Christmas will be different.  Really, I can't wait to wake up next to my Husband on Christmas morning laughing because we were too excited and opened our gifts Christmas eve and have nothing to open that morning.  :) 

Well, here's to you and your family's CHRISTmas peculiarity. ;)  Enjoy it!

Posted byAshley C. at 5:08 PM 2 Love Notes  

2010 Christmas List

This is my 2009 Christmas list to my boo.  We don't normally make lists, but I had to find a way to make it clear that by 2010 I wanted to officially be "soon-to-be  Mrs. Staples."  That didn't happen, though.  But, finding the list was cool because it reminded my that my Lover loves to spoil me (and that I got almost everything I asked for throughout 2010).  So, common sense might tell me that if I make a list for 2010 Christmas, odds are I won't be getting them all for Christmas, but that I will probably accumulate them throughout next year.  So . . . my 2010 Christmas list is as follows:
1: a great big house
2: lots of furniture for that great big house
3: a brand new car (bow on top, too, please)
    ... and last but not least ...
4: a cute little baby (yes, I said it!)

Okay, okay, maybe I'm being a little too hopeful, but he does love me, right? ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 3:12 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Loyal readers

*Frantically looking around*  I really hope that my two readers haven't left me abandoned like I have them.  No?  Good . . . Glad that I'm not the only one that isn't the most punctual when it comes to updating their blogs. 
With Christmas right around the corner (really? It's that time?!), I've been busy and yes, not feeling like blogging but instead Christmas shopping, focusing on photography (and ways that I can grow in 2011), reading new books that I've stumbled upon.  But, I am grateful that I know I have at least 1 loyal reader . . . I think. 
Oh and because I'm actually pretty proud of myself (after 2 weeks) that I discovered I was blogging under the wrong tab which was why I wasn't able to load photos, or italicize my photos.  Both of which are very important in blogging, so I'm back! :)

Posted byAshley C. at 2:40 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

What happened

I have no idea what made me think that I would be able to log onto this thing and share my "daily photo" with you anyway, but I did! LOL I hope you all are having a great weekend and for all you local friends, hope you're enjoying our first snowfall. :)

And . . . I came to share my photos, but it seems that the "add photo" button has disappeared, can someone help? :/

Posted byAshley C. at 10:02 AM 0 Love Notes  

Project 365 initiation

After having recently written a blog about commitment (or lack thereof), I've decided that it would be in my character to go ahead and make another! Because people aren't really diggin' cold photo shoots, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to do the Project 365. You know, that project that you have to do to enter to photog world? Since falling into peer pressure is a rather new thing for me (all good, I promise!), I thought why not? Here's what I'll be doing: every day, for the next 365 days I'll be taking a photo. Could be a random photo with no purpose (or maybe no beauty) or could be someone that I've had scheduled for some time. I will challenge myself, step out of my comfort zone, and establish my style more. So, this means that at the end of my blogs for the next year, I will be posting a photo . . . and it may have not a single thing to do with my blog post, but it will be there for your enjoyment (or whatever). :) Oh, and by the way, today is day three, so I will flood you all the next time I blog.

Posted byAshley C. at 4:31 PM 0 Love Notes  

Feeling your heartbeat

In memory of Andre, we did a lot of worshipping this weekend . . . that's everything Andre's life was about.  If Andre wasn't worshipping with another church, he was at his home church, walking the halls with his guitar, praising and worshipping his audience of One.  So many people shared that they saw Andre as one of the closest things to Jesus and I have to agree.  One of the songs that we sang on Saturday and Sunday was a song called "The more I seek You;"  this was one of Dre's favorite songs.  This song was one of those that immediately draw an image in your mind and bring you to the Savior in tears and reverance.

The more I seek you,
The more I find you
The more I find you,
The more I love you

I wanna sit at your feet
Drink from the cup in your hand.
Lay back against you and breath, feel your heart beat
This love is so deep, it's more than I can stand.
I melt in your peace, it's overwhelming

Aside from this being a beautiful song, really picture what these lyrics are saying.  Can you imagine sitting at his feet while he lets you drink from the cup in his hand, and then allows you to lay back against him, feeling his heartbeat and being able to do that all day, every day for all of eternity.  Imagine the talks that you two will have.  Why something happened, how he performed that miracle, why he was willing to die on a cross for your sins alone (and why he would do it again).
I want to share the song with you and was able to find it on Youtube.  Please take a minute to listen and praise God for his unfathomable love. 

Posted byAshley C. at 11:13 AM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Andre's homegoing

Yesterday, Josh's family lost an amazing, godly, gentle-spirited, young man.  Andre was one of the most kind guys that I have ever met.  Although I was not close to Andre, we were friends (would have been cousins, too!).  I can recall some good memories that we've shared and it seems that many of the friends he had can do the same.  I can promise that not a single person could ever say a bad thing about Andre and the life that he lived. 
As I've mentioned before (like, a hundred two hundred times before!), I do not handle death well.  It's one of those ginormous struggles of mine but also where I can find peace knowing that it is a strength that Josh has.  I knew the day would come where I would have to hike up my britches and comfort Josh for a loss in his family and I was sooo scared about it.  But, like always, Josh surprised me.  The way he thinks of it is that Andre is in a much better place, without pain or sickness.  Josh said that every single memory he has of Andre was a good one so that's where he finds his comfort.  Me, on the other hand, thinks in an earthly manner; But, Thanksgiving is next week, his brother's (and best friend) birthday is next month just like Christmas.  What is the church going to be like without his praise and worship?  He never had the chance to share an intimate love with a spouse, he was so young.  But here's the key: Andre does not care!  He is worshipping face-to-face with his Creator!  How amazing is that?!  I think where I get caught up on my sad thoughts is for the individual; for the things that they've missed out on.  But, Andre was here for God's purpose and it is clear that he served his purpose and then some!  His time here on earth was temporary and he made the most of it.  All of his family and friends will be reunited with him before Andre's day is over in Heaven. 

Yesterday, I asked Josh to share with me one of his best memories with Andre and this is the story he told:

When they were younger, Micah (Josh's brother) and Josh were in boxing and Chuck (Andre's brother) and Andre always teased them that they didn't know how to fight and that they were better than them.  Chuck dared Josh to punch him and Andre in the stomach the hardest that he could to see if it would hurt.  Josh told them "no way," but in the end, Chuck was able to talk Josh into punching them under one condition: they had to take turns in the room so that the other wouldn't see how hard Josh could actually punch and cause the other to "wuss" out.  First, it was Chuck's turn.  WHAM! Chuck fell to the ground holding his stomach, grunting.  Micah scraped Chuck off the floor and made him leave the room.  Second, Micah brought Andre in the room and WHAM!.  "That's all you got?" Andre said, standing confidently with a straight face.  Josh said that when he punched Andre in the stomach, all he felt was his hard abs and it was no wonder Josh couldn't hurt Andre!  Andre said, "Your fist hurt my skin, though. I know for sure I'll be sore tomorrow" and kept repeating himself.  I'm going to go out on a limb that Andre would still like to tease Josh about how he punches like a sissy. ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 5:53 PM 0 Love Notes  

I'm just preparing myself

I'm beginning to feel like I'm talking to myself on here.  People always tell me that they read my blogs, but no one comments and I haven't had a new follower since day one.  I can tell you that one reason for that is that most of the blogs I follow are the ones that I cannot yet relate to: the stay-at-home, crafty, money-saving, photographer, mommy blogs.  What interest do they have in a girl like me?  I'm kind of in limbo right now.  I've tried the whole money-saving thing and as I mentioned before, I really stink at balancing.  I'm not yet a mom, I actually have to go to work, and try to become a photographer on the side.  I love reading the blogs that I read because I have learned a lot and I can honestly say that had it not been for following the blogs that I follow, I would never had started clipping coupons, became interested in photography, or have a strong opinion for breast-feeding (and cloth diapers and baby-wearing!). 

Who am I you might ask?  A 22-year old that is engaged and planning a wedding for next July.  I am still living at home, but mostly buy my own groceries so I attempt to save as much money as I can in the process.  I do not have kids, but want a handful of them ASAP and when I do, I will try with all I have to solely breast-feed.  I would like to call myself a professional photographer but the truth is that I haven't even found myself or my voice.  Kinda funny that I'm reading the blogs that I am, huh?  No, I am not trying to become something that I'm not but I don't think you have an idea how badly I want to be at the stage in my life where I can say I am a stay-at-home mom that only breast feeds, uses cloth diapers, and carries my baby in a sling while I am balancing blogging, photography, and loving my husband with my entire heart.  I'm just preparing myself. ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 3:40 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

D90 desires

It was a glorious day when I got my long-awaited DSLR.  I waited and waited for it . . . and my Lover made me a deal and said that if we could leave the mall, I would have my camera in 15 minutes. Deal!

But . . . I am now selling the body so that I can upgrade to something a little more "high grade."  The awesome thing is that I am still sticking to my philosophy of only spending business-made money on business desires to keep me clear from debt.  I am going to put my other lens purchase on hold until I am able to purchase a new body.  Wanna see the new body I want? 

Pretty, huh? ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 8:32 PM 0 Love Notes  

Our first year

Josh and I began dating about a week before he left for his first year of college about 3.5 hours away.  I was still at home finishing up my senior year of high school.  Our love was sparkly and new . . . and we had no choice but to be sure that it was strong, too.  He was attending school to major in computer science and still fulfill the duties he had since receiving his full-ride scholarship to play baseball.  We knew that we wouldn't be seeing each other more than once every other month so we talked on the phone.  A lot.  When I got home from school, I waited by my phone until he got home from practice and we talked until the wee hours in the morning. And did it all over again the next day.

Until his dad stepped in.

What?!  Only 1 hour a day?  He has got to be crazy!!  "I know babe, we'll just have to talk more online, I guess."  Yeah, that kinda sucked.  It was much more different than actually hearing his voice and being able to hear about his day, how practice went, what new schemes his evil roommates plotted that day.  We thought of almost every idea in the books: chatting via webcams, leaving each other looong voicemails until it beeped (hoping that wouldn't reflect used minutes), text messages, surprise letters.  He wouldn't let me drive to visit since I hadn't had much experience driving on the highway since the nightmare.  But, along with his not-often-enough visits back home, I was able to visit twice that year with my soon-to-be roommates.

I suppose it was more than enough to get us through our first year apart.  We spent every moment of every day that Summer and into our first year of school together.  Being 3.5 hours away from home was all the more reason.  But, that's another story for another day.

Posted byAshley C. at 5:07 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Here I am now

I've always been the person that knew what I wanted to be when I "grew up."  I remember when I was about 6 going around telling people I'm a future nurse and really feeling like that was a job title itself.  All throughout high school, I knew for sure that I wanted to be an English teacher.  When teachers asked, I could reply without hesitation.  I knew what I was going to college for.  When I was at the beginning of my college career, I was so positive that I was going to be a Psychologist.  Any kind.  Just a Psychologist.  And after I was more than mid-way through my college career, I decided that I was going to be a Social Worker.  I wanted to work with struggling families; families that were beyond dysfunctional.

Here I am now.  I am a photographer.  Not quite "professional" but definitely chasing it and giving it all I've got, with all that I have.  Forget teaching, counseling, or attempting to save the world.  I've decided that photography is right were I want to be.  For as long as that might be.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 9:54 PM 0 Love Notes  

First business purchase

I told myself from day one that I would not make a business purchase with my own money; if I wanted a new camera, lens, strobe, bag, or whatever else, I would have to save the money that my business earned.  Well, after some time now (and shopping around and debating!), I have been able to purchase a new lens!  Last night, I purchased a Nikon 85mm 1.8 AF and a strobe diffuser!!  I am so excited because I thought that my awesome 50mm was a one-lens miracle; there was nothing that lens couldn't do.  Until I shot Errika's labor and delivery.  I was able to really know and admit that I could have used an 85mm.  Then I shot April's newborn session.  I realized I needed a 35mm.  It's just a really cool and legitimizing feeling that I know what I need.  Heck, about 4 months ago, I couldn't have even told you what any of those numbers meant or how they could benefit me.  Need me to explain (because I definitely can!)? ;)  I have a family session booked for next week, so hopefully I'll be able to pull out the newbie for it! ;) 

Next purchase on the list is the 35mm 1.8.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 4:36 PM 0 Love Notes  

3 years

It seems that I cannot get enough of my friend's baby, April.  That little girl is so stinkin' cute, I don't know what to do with myself.  She will definitely be a heart-breaker. ;)  She is so perfect: no crying, no fussing, just alert and watching the world around her.  But she does have her cute little quirks, too; when her diaper is being changed, she always get the hiccups (and they last a while!) and she sneezes A LOT every morning just because.  But, I'm sure mommy and daddy wouldn't change a thing about her. :)

I keep asking Josh how long he thinks we will wait to start a family after being married. "Most likely 3 years."  What?  Maybe 3 months!  I cannot wait to have a family with him.  We have to have all 4 of our children (God willing) before I get too old and if he plans on waiting 3 years, I will be 26 at that time.  Eek.  I used to say that I wanted all 4 before turning 30 but now that time is passing, I see that is virtually impossible (unless we hit the double-twin jackpot!).  I just need my own baby or else Errika will get tired of me visiting her and April all the time. ;)  Errika keeps telling me that she's got her fingers crossed that we will have a baby like, tomorrow . . . sorry, sister, that ain't happenin'!

Posted byAshley C. at 3:49 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Circus act

I'm horrible at balancing.  Just horrible.  Remember the whole coupon-clipping thing?  Scrapbooking?  Weight Watcher attempts?  P90X?  Hmm . . . it kind of makes me sad but I finally discovered what happened.  I used to think I sucked at everything and I just gave up too quickly, but I really am just bad at balancing.  Ever since photography came into the picture, I feel like I've neglected everything else (including this blog!).  It seems that whatever else I am interested in gets my full attention.  Every ounce of it.  Kind of sucks because I would love to be able to clip coupons, commit to a 90-day workout, scrapbook, and still be able to photograph and post-process photos but I just don't roll like that. 

I wonder what will happen when I'm a stay-at-home mom, photgrapher, coupon-clipper (since groceries will be a necessity!), and trying to work off all the baby weight?  I'm going to look like some kind of circus act.  :/  Maybe this is one of those "practice makes perfect" kind of deals.

Posted byAshley C. at 7:50 AM 0 Love Notes  

Things you shouldn't read

Things you shouldn't read before going to bed:

"I absolutely love all of your photos and I have a huge question for you. I was wondering if you would be interested in photographing [our] wedding on November 27th. If you are I would LOVE that, let me know how much you would charge . . . "

Yeah, umm that definitely didn't catch me totally off guard (pure sarcasm).  But the problem with reading things like that before bed is that your mind immediately begins to think of the best and worst possibilities.  You don't get any sleep because instead you're thinking about the equipment you have, the equipment you need to purchase, why you can't be the only photographer shooting your first wedding, who will second-shoot, how much you are going to charge, what if it's too expensive, what if you're not charging enough for your time, how in the world are you going to edit 500+ photos, what if you don't even get a high number of quality shots?
But then again, I guess all photographer once felt this way, right?

Posted byAshley C. at 7:45 AM 0 Love Notes  

Michael Scott, here

My best friend, Errika had her little one!  She had April Rayn on Friday at 5:59 p.m. and she weighed 8.9lbs and was 21.25in long with a full head of hair.  Just beautiful and perfect.  Errika made everything look so easy and smooth.  She was herself throughout the whole thing: smiling, laughing, and asking silly questions. 

Me?  Well, I guess you can call me Michael Scott (The Office) because that's exactly how I felt.  For those that don't know Michael, he's very intrusive; always has to be in the middle of someone else's intimate moments.  I know, Errika asked me to be there and I was privileged and beyond thrilled that she would ask something like that from me, but I really hope that she didn't see me as "in the way."  Haha before going, I was tempted to Google something like "labor and delivery photographer ettiquette," but figured that most photographer aren't best friends with the person in labor.  So, I told myself that I wouldn't speak unless spoken to, wait for cues to know it's okay to get certain shots, and not be in her husband's way whatsoever.  Only two of those actually happened!  I definitely talked, but wasn't running my mouth non-stop.  I cheered her on quietly, but kept it mild enough for her husband to say that he was running the show.  :)  The whole time, I acted as though my photography was second priority; If her husband stepped away or moved positions, I would jump in, take as many photos as I could, and when he came back, I moved immediately.  I know that he appreciated that because of course he'd rather be by her side, comforting her, holding her hand, and keeping the rag on her forehead cool. 

All that I have to say is that this girl is hawt!  She stayed hawt during her entire labor and delivery and made giving birth look like a piece of cake.  Her and her husband have this amazing, spoken-without-words kind of language and neither of them skipped a beat; they were there for each other in every way possible.  You can see their love for each other radiating from every thing they did and said to each other.  They are now a family of 3 and I am excited and eager to see what the future holds for them; plenty of happiness, laughter, and love, I'm sure.  Congratulations to your new family, mama!

Posted byAshley C. at 9:22 AM 0 Love Notes  

Labor and delivery opp

Within the next 24 hours, my best friend, Errika is going to have her baby! :)  I am excited for two reasons: 1) We are best friends and I've watched her belly grow the past 9 months, 2) She asked me to photograph the labor and delivery.  I am honored because I know that these will be very precious moments.  Her and her husband only have 2 more weeks before he goes back to Iraq to finish the last 6 months of his tour, so I am honored that she's even thinking about me while he's here haha!
People are probably thinking, "Ah, how could she let someone photograph that?!" or "She's letting you in the room?"  Let's make a few things clear . . . I'm not there to get those kinds of shots; I am there to capture the natural moments, the moments that are happening in between that they aren't paying attention to and can't necessarily enjoy; I'm there to capture the details that are missed and go unnoticed.  And not to mention, I'm there because she asked me to be and because we are best friends. :) 

So, here's to Errika and her husband's last night before becoming parents!  You guys will enjoy it and as I've said time and time before, you two make the most perfect team. ;)  I'll see you in the a.m. on the other side of the door! ;)

Posted byAshley C. at 5:02 PM 0 Love Notes  

Just a dream

I'm just going to go ahead and say it, I feel like this is too good to be true.  After being reassured by several people, I have to admit that creating a fan page on Facebook has been one of my best moves yet.  I've got nearly 130 fans . . . about one third of which I have never even seen. :)  Everyday, I get about 2 people inquiring about my prices and availability.  This is way bigger than I thought would happen so soon.  I am afraid to pinch myself because I feel like it may just be a dream. 
When people ask me if I got this job or that job, I can confidently stand and say that photography is my job now.  I am enjoying it and throwing myself out there and watching what happens.  I love my job.  I love everything about it: the shoots, the people, the struggling with poses, the post-processing, the marketing of my my brand.  Everything.  I thank God that I did not get those jobs.  If I had, I probably won't have even dabbled in photography.  I can't wait to see where I am next Spring/Summer!  :)  Watch out, world!

Posted byAshley C. at 7:30 AM 0 Love Notes  

The first game

As you know, I started a fan page on Facebook to get my name out there and let people see my work . . . kind of a "one-stop-shop."  I never would have thought that I would have 100 fans (and more!), so when I saw how fast it was growing in such a short time, I told myself that after I reach 100 fans, I would give away a free session and free prints.  BUT, of course, there are stipulations (or rules haha); for 7 days, fans will have the chance to get entered into a drawing (that I will have next Tuesday) by tagging LeilaniNicole Photography in their status.  They may also be entered again (and again!) for each day they tag LeilaniNicole Photography in their status.  So, each fan has the opportunity to be entered up to 7 times!  I figured this would be something cool to do because 1) I do not know all 100+ fans that I have, 2) people obviously like my work, 3) they are saving $$$!  This "game" helps to get my name out there to the friends of friends that I do not have or even know.  And a free mini-session and prints ain't too bad!  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 8:44 AM 0 Love Notes  

Photography pricing jitters

I've been debating about mentioning this, but after some thought, I figured that I wanted to and is something that people need to know about photography.

Last week, a woman asked me to photograph her 3 children for fall.  I told her of course! I would love to, but please be aware I am charging $50 for the 1-2 hour session which does not include any prints, rather a disc with about 5 photos on there.  She replied by telling me never mind because I was too expensive for her and her husband.  This was very discouraging, considering the same day, I decided that I was worth more than charging people $35 for a session. Not to mention, I was giving her my rights to 5 photos on a disc.
I am not writing this post because I want to bash the woman, but instead, I want people to see the amount of hard work that goes into a photo shoot.  For starters, I will almost always shoot for 2 hours (or a little more if I can).  I am not using the most expensive equipment on the market, but it did cost me a pretty penny and I am always investing.  Second, after the shoot, I am spending time choosing the best of the best of the photos that I shot . . . then processing them, which takes about 3-4 hours.  So, at the end of the day (or week!), I am spending nearly 6 hours on a client that is only paying me $50.  Sure, if (and only if!) the client orders prints, I will be making profit through that, but depending on how much they order, I could be making very little.  Now, aside from me making very little to nothing, I am also reducing my creativity and uniqueness to something that is not even worth $9/hour and that can easily be replaced by individuals standing behind a tripod at Sears with no passion for what they're doing (needless to say, the lack of personal touch). 

People can easily get all hyped on spending "a lot" of money on photos, but are easily willing to pay $70 for a pair of jeans that aren't going to last nearly as long.  I know that if someone really wants something, they are going to find a way to pay for it . . . including photographs.  I want to be something that is valued; I do not want to reduce my prices because someone says that I'm too expensive . . . one other individual has already told me that (when I was only charging $35) and I have an upcoming session with them. :)  My point is that people will pay for something they value.  The more they pay, the more they will value that "thing."  The less they pay, the less they will value your images or your talent.  I am not promising that my prices will stay at $50/session, in fact, I promise they will not.  The more experience I gain and the more in-demand I am, my prices will also increase . . . in other words, my value will also be increasing.  Oh, and please know that studio photography and lifestyle photography are two totally different things; it's like comparing the colors black and white.  So, please don't turn me down and head to Sears for a price list . . . that's an insult to me! ;)  At least let me refer you to another lifestyle photog.  :)

Posted byAshley C. at 10:16 AM 0 Love Notes  


Revenge Being proved right is sweet. 
A couple weeks ago, Josh's car caught on fire on his way home from work.  It's a long story.  BUT, he is okay and to fix his car, it only costed $8 (only under-hood damage).  While he was fixing his car, he was driving mine.  Since his commute is an hour and 15 minutes, I have been warning him that I either: 1) needed my tires realligned and changed; 2) needed air in my tires until he could reallign the tires.  Well, I was talking to him on his way to work yesterday and he said, "Oh shoot, I think I have a flat."  First thing that I thought was haha, told you so! Next thing he says is "Well, there goes your hub cap."  Dang it!  If he only had listened to me.  :)  He pulled over on the interstate to change the tire; no jack.  So, he called his dad to see what he should do (get it towed by their family friend, call my insurance [he's not covered under mine]).  He knew that if he had called my insurance, my 24 hour road-side assistance might be voided since a covered driver was not driving it.  Fortunately, his dad was able to leave work and bring him a jack BUT my spare was flat (go figure).  So, his dad let him borrow the vehicle, drop him back off at work, drop my tire off for service, come pick me up (and a jack!), go pick the tire up, drive back out to my vehicle, change my tire, and I just followed him home. 
Needless to say, both cars now have new tires and have been realligned.  :)   Oh, and this isn't the first time he's had to pay for his stubborn "I'm-always-right" attitude. 

Posted byAshley C. at 10:31 AM 0 Love Notes  

Behind fears

As I mentioned previously, me pursuing photography has definitely had it's run of uncertainties and I have just flat out been nervous to give it my all and give myself to it.  What if I'm not as good as I think I am?  What if people think I am the worst photographer in the world?  What if I only get clients by asking them, hey, uh can I take some photos of you?  But, I heard another photgrapher say to "creat your own game;"  if I create my own game, using my own pieces, I will not have to measure up to someone else and will always come up on top.  This game is called mine.  I have no option but to win.  Plus, if I have God's blessing, I will do nothing but grow and be the best that I can . . . at the work of His hand.

Here is my game plan:
-Remember that I am doing this because I have a passion for it (despite of "bad shoots")
-Put myself "out there" and be daring . . .
-. . . but be willing to fail
-Remember my style and not change it for anyone.
-be myself and not be afraid of people not liking my technique.  Those that like it, like it and those that don't,  don't
-Listen to His voice and follow His lead.

So, here's what I have done.  First of all, I've created a page on Facebook for people to "like" and keep in touch and hear updates about how things are going with this passion I am pursuing.  Second, I have deleted my LeilaniNicole Photography blog; I want people to get to know the real me . . . not a censor for a blog about photography (after all, that's what my future website will be for).  Third, I am just going to dive in; I am not going to hide behind my fears.  I am going to chase after this as though I am certain God wants me here and I will give it my all.  People don't grow hiding behind fears. 

Posted byAshley C. at 5:03 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Stop looking.

My and my Lover's conversation last night went a little like this:

Me: Baby, I really wish you could understand how much I feel like God is showing provision with me   wanting to do photography.
Him:  I understand.  Just make sure you continually pray about it.
Me:  Ever since talking to Krissy that one day, I really have been and ever since, I have felt more encouraged and feel like every time I turn around, more doors are opening for me.
Him:  Is this really what you want to do?  You have a passion strong enough to want to do photography for as long as God enables you?
Me: Yes.
Him:  Alright.  Stop looking for a job.  Continue working on your photography and stay at Omni until God moves you somewhere else.  This is where you are now and God has provided this for you.
Me: *crying* Really?  You're really supporting me with this?
Him: *kisses my forehead* Yes.

And the conversation above is just another example of why I am marrying this guy. 

Thank you, Father.

Posted byAshley C. at 9:39 AM 0 Love Notes  

Finding peace

Since my last post, I've been doing a lot of talking to God.  I've been asking Him to point me in the right direction and lead me where He wants me.  I'm tired of stressing about where I'm going to work (and be a sufficient provider to my future family), how I'm going to use my degree, etc.  I'm done.  I've prayed, asked God to provide, and I'm leaving it in His hands. 
Since I've been praying about this, I've been feeling more and more confident in my photography; visualizing myself in the future being successful; having peace knowing that I am exactly where He wants me.  The only problem is that I do not want to get my dreams mixed with His desires.  I want to be 100% sure that I am listening to His voice and not the little voices in my head saying this is right
Since praying about this, I've been given the most encouraging words, photography advice, and "plans" in ways people want to use me.  I've been thinking big.  Really big.  From out of nowhere, I've been feeling sooo inspired and have so much hope for my photography busines.  But, please God, if this is not for me, I pray that you would shut this door and guide me to the door that you've had waiting open for me. In fact, what if where I am now is exactly where He wants me? That would be pretty sweet!

In the mean time, I will continue trying to bring in clientele and get people aware of what LeilaniNicole Photography is.  I am pretty sure that God will make Himself crystal clear . . . I find sooo much peace in knowing that. 

Posted byAshley C. at 3:31 PM 0 Love Notes  

I thank God

Remember that job that I was so eager to hear back from?  Well, I didn't get it.  And guess what, I thank God.  Remember the job before that, that I was eager to hear back from?  Well, you already know that I didn't get it (and turned the new offer down) and . . . yup, you guessed it, I thank God.  I thank God because he has placed other people in those positions . . . people that He wants in those positions.  I thank God because the girl (a girl I know) that got the first position I applied for loves it; looking back, I cannot see myself in that position.  A woman that has been unemployed (and is much older than I am) got the second position.  I am glad.  I have a job right now and she doesn't.  This all means that God has different plans for me; plans that I will love, enjoy, and be thankful for.
I was talking to my boss today and she told me that she has plans for me: stay at Omni, doing photography on the side, get married, and have a baby.  Ha!  Those plans sound great to me . . . that would be awesome if those are the plans that God has in mind, too.  At this point in my life, I love where God has placed me.  I love that God has placed a new passion in my heart (photography) and it would be amazing to be able to chase that passion wholeheartedly.  Plus, I can't really complain about my boss, either.

A side note, I just finished editing my best friend, Errika's maternity photos.  They are at  Check them out!  And as always, if you know someone that needs photos done, share me with them! ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 6:45 PM 0 Love Notes  

I know that

Often times we forget exactly how big God is.  We (more specifically, I) worry about the smallest things and try figuring out ways to put our hands in the issue, stir it up, and see what outcome we will get.  We forget to pray and ask God for His help . . . and when we do pray and don't get the answer on our timing, we make an attempt at playing God again (only to find ourselves in the same hole!).
After reading another blog today, I was reminded that God is big.  He knows what we need before we even know what we need; He's working on our prayers before they even leave our lips.  One thing that I've been learning though, is that we need to show God our need and dependency for Him; sure, he knows, but it takes a whole lot more for us to put our faith into practice.

I am recently engaged.  My fiance works in the construction business and because this is the down time, he could be getting laid off any day now.  I work but not getting the best pay; I cannot find another job that I am even remotely interested in . . . or even know where God wants me.  We are planning a wedding and trying to pay off bills.  I want to live in something we can call our own.  I want to start a family as soon as possible.  The problem with all of this is that my faith is not big enough to bring me through these worries.  My God is, though.  I know that.

Posted byAshley C. at 9:08 AM 0 Love Notes  

I finally have it back . . .

and it's shinier and blingi-er than I remembered!  :-]  I now feel like yeah, that's right!  I'm engaged.  Uh-huh!  I like people knowing that I'm engaged to this good-looking fella.  Mine.  Forever.  ;-]

I don't know if I mentioned this already, but I started reading a book called Inviting God to Your Wedding (by Marsha Williamson) and I highly recommend it to any woman getting married.  The book talks about the difference God makes when you include Him in your wedding plans (hence, Inviting God . . . ).  From a Christian perspective, the author also talks about whether certain wedding "traditions" are in fact traditions, or faithless superstitions, moving on from the past (and past relationships), the importance of celibacy, etc.  I have been reading a chapter a night and feel good after reading it.  It's definitely thought-provoking and helps you look at your wedding day at a whole different perspective.  I like that she covers everything from A to Z . . . something that all of those wedding books, magazines, websites, checklists (blah!) do not cover.  Plus, she is nudging women (and men) to invite God to their wedding and advising how to establish and keep a relationship going with Him throughout the entire marriage.  I can't wait to finish this book and apply it to our wedding! 

Can't go wrong with inviting our Creator, the One who knows all, to your wedding. ;-] 

Posted byAshley C. at 3:20 PM 0 Love Notes  

e-session plan

So, now that we've been engaged for almost 3 weeks (so weird!), we have finally made plans for our engagement photos.  My cousin, Ray will be doing them for us at Navy Pier next weekend; I am so excited!  I am still trying to figure out what to wear . . . I think I want to do a dress and heels for some and then a more casual outfit for the others.  I just want Josh and me to look purrrty! ;-]    We don't have any pictures of us that are frame-worthy, so this is going to be fun!  I'm wondering how this will go with a photog shooting a photog; I'm afraid I might be too "try this," "don't do that," "shoot at this range," blah blah blah.  It's kind of just how I am haha! 
But then again, I don't know how I'll be able to take pictures without my engagement ring, a locked jaw, and a "crook" in my neck.  I'm just pretty broken down right now . . . hopefully all of those problem will be fixed by the end of this weekend!

Posted byAshley C. at 9:01 AM 0 Love Notes  

500+ memories

I just finished going through all of my photos on Facebook and right clicking them and 'save as' onto my computer.  They have to be restored since *sniff sniff* all of my other photos were stolen; but we won't talk about that because I've learned to just let it go and move on.  BUT, as I was going through 500+ photos, I felt like I was going through this emotional rollercoaster ride.  Here are some things I learned and felt:
1) I looked so much better last Summer when I weighed 129.
2) Some time soon, I need to get back to Indonesia and rescue my heart.
3) I need to go back to Naples, FL and rescue the other piece of my heart.
4) Josh's muscles are/were enough to make me melt.
5) On that topic, I've got one very handsome fiance.
6) Josh and I have changed so much (looks wise).
7) We were not very active this Summer.
8) I cannot and will not look the way I do now on our wedding day.
9) Me and my Lover have been lots of places together.
10) I've been to 3 weddings in such a short time-period.
11) My nephew is pretty much a grown man now. Nooo!
12) While writing this list, I am thinking about how much I want to give my fiance a kiss and eat ice cream . . .

Posted byAshley C. at 3:17 PM 0 Love Notes  

Something . . .

 . . . has been tugging at my heart since the engagement.  No, wait, let me reword that: Someone has been tugging at my heart since the engagement.  For example, I typically listen to a lot of secular music; anything from country to rap to Christian music.  But, in the past week and a half, I have had the strongest desire to listen to Christian music.  Music that glorifies the God that brought Josh and I together.  I have no desire to listen to secular music, in fact, I am kind of grossed out by secular music.  I am going to be honest, my relationship with God has not been the greatest.  I wouldn't consider myself "running" after Him, it's more like a slight jog, then seeing something on the side of the road that distracts my jog . . . then remembering what I was supposed to be doing.  It's been cold, inconsistent, blah.  But . . . something in my heart is stirring.  Stirring to put on my armor, get as close as I possibly can, and follow my God.  Follow my God because He is ready to prepare me, my future marriage, and my commitment to my future husband more than ever.  I want to go into this marriage knowing that I have a strong relationship with God; a relationship that is inseperable; a relationship that will create a "oneness" with God where I cannot be easily distracted by things on the side of the road, but continue running after Him as though my entire life and marriage depend on it.
My future husband deserves nothing less than a godly woman that he can trust with his entire life.

Now, if I could only find which road He is on, waiting for me to begin running behind Him.   

Posted byAshley C. at 4:52 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Interview and naked finger

I don't know which I feel more sick about: the interview I have today for the second most perfect job for me (at least, at this point in my life), or that I have to give my ring back to the jeweler until probably Monday. 

I am just very nervous about this interview because I've only got one shot to prove myself to be the best candidate for a position that would be sooo perfect for me.  Not only will I have a new job, but I'll be able to keep the old; I'll be working 60 hours a week, but hey, I am planning a wedding now! ;-]  Actually, maybe that's why I am so nervous.  Work is getting slow for Josh and I know that him being laid off is right around the corner and I am not the most patient person . . . we have a lot of planning to do in order to lock in our wedding more than a thousand miles away.  We can really use the money. 
Come to think of it, after the 3 interviews I had for that other position, back in May, you would think that I would be an interviewing pro.  This should be a piece of cake, right?

Or, maybe I'm just sad that I have to give my ring back to the jeweler today since my diamond is loose.  Before the proposal, Josh got the ring sized and it seems that they forgot to tighten the prongs.  I noticed that it was kind of loose on Saturday; when I told Josh he told me, "It's not loose," but after he really looked at it, he agreed.  We went to the mall and showed it to the jeweler and she was going to take it that day.  It wasn't even going to ship out 'til today!  No, ma'am!  I would like to wear my ring for as long as I can . . . why would I want it to sit at the mall for 4 days, waiting for service?!  So, we are going to drop it off tonight and they say that they will "rush" it, but I wouldn't bank on that.  I am not happy about my soon-to-be naked finger.  :-/  But, I suppose I'd rather have a naked finger than to lose my diamond.  It's only 6 days.  It's only 6 days.  It's only 6 days.

Posted byAshley C. at 7:36 AM 0 Love Notes  

Perfect magnolia

Today, I went to the Jubilee Days with my mom.  It's an annual Labor Day celebration in our town with local arts and crafts vendors, food, a parade, fireworks and lots of other fun things.  As we were leaving, I saw this painting.  Wait . . . I fell in love with this painting.  I have never, ever seen a painting that I had to have.  When I saw this, I immediately thought This is the perfect painting for me and Josh's future bedroom.  I don't know what color scheme we will have, but no matter what it is, this painting will go beautifully with. 

The woman selling her work was in her late 80's or maybe even her 90's.  On every single piece of art she had, she had her signature along with a Bible verse.  As I was standing, staring at this painting, deciding how I Earth I was going to be able to pay $40 for it with a $10 bill in my pocket, people were walking by making comments on her work and she told them that on each piece of her work, was a Bible verse and when people complimented her on a painting, she recited the verse.  For the 5-10  minutes I was standing there, she must have recited about 5-7 verses.  Her reciting the verse wasn't the only beautiful thing, but just by her glancing at the painting, she knew what verse she chose for that piece.  The verse placed on my piece is a reminder of how awesome God is; how perfect He has made everything.  Her work had me sold.  Her being a Christan woman made it even better.  With there being Bible verses carefully placed on each piece made them perfect

Genesis 1:31a -- God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

Posted byAshley C. at 1:45 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Yankee Candle. Amazing.

Welcome to my Yankee Candle exhibit. Oh, you prefer "cheaper" candles? Gasp! Maybe you have never gone through a season with the real, pure smell of one of these guys. It's possible that my addiction doesn't rest in the candles themselves, but the feeling I get one I light one up and it automatically brings me to that season. See, for each season, I've got about 2 favorite scents; if one of my candles gets discontinued, I won't only write a hate letter to Yankee, but that season will no longer be in existence to me.

For Spring, I'm not really that picky because Spring is probably my least favorite season and if it never happened, I wouldn't really mind. But, this past Spring, I burned "Drift Away" and also purchased "Beautiful Day" but never burned that one although it smells really good.
When Summer draws near, there is nothing that can really make it seem closer than burning "Macintosh & Peach," "Macintosh," or "Beach Walk." Yes, all three. Not at the same time, but kind of in their turn. If you noticed, Macintosh isn't in my inventory . . . that one just doesn't last more than a week with me because I never blow it out. But, I do keep the Macintosh car fresheners. All the time. In fact, that's what is in my car every season except Fall.
Fall. Oh. My. Gosh. Fall is my favorite, favorite, favorite season. I love how warm and cozy Fall feels. I love wearing jeans and a hoodie when I go out, but I would rather sit in the house with my candles lit and watch a movie. But, my favorite Fall candles are "Pumpkin Spice," "Autumn Fruit," and I just found another that I like (and was on sale) called, "Autumn Leaves." I only have the car freshener for that one. I am sooo eager to burn my Pumpkin Spice candle (and eat pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bread, and sleep all day), but I will not allow myself to do that until the first day of Fall. Otherwise, every day will be Fall for me. Even in July.
Winter is another one of those seasons that will not exist if Yankee didn't exist. I think that God intended the scents of Winter to be captured only by Yankee Candle. My favorite Winter scents are "Mistletoe" and "Christmas Eve." There is no way Winter would be Winter without that Mistletoe candle. Amazing.
And if you've got a man in your life that hates those "girly" candle scents or is just afraid to light a candle in fear of another male friend coming over unexpected, the perfect scents for him are "Midsummer's Night" and "Mountain Lodge;" both of those are manly, cologne-y scents. My man chooses those two for his car fresheners. :-]
I just realized that I am beginning to sound like a commercial or advertisement for Yankee Candle. Eek! I mean, if Yankee wants to give me free candles for writing this, e-mail me for my address! ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 9:46 AM 2 Love Notes  

It's all coming together

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine posted something on her Facebook that she was leaving her position at the high school and was eagerly looking for someone to replace (to refer to the principal) her because she wants to be a stay-at-home mommy.  So, I asked her about the position, applied, and waited.  Well, yesterday I got a call from the vice-principal asking if I was still interested in coming in for interview.  The catch: I've known him since 7th grade!  He was my gym teacher 7-8th grade and my dean 9-12th grade; so, he knows me pretty well.  :-]  Oh and *fogging nails, wiping them on my shirt* he said I was one of his favorite students.  Hopefully this means something for me!  haha  I will be going in for my interview on Tuesday.  Oh, I forgot to mention the best part: I will be able to keep the job I have now, too!  BUT, as I've learned before, I will not be counting my eggs before they hatch.  I will just be praying that God opens and shuts doors as He sees deemed . . . just as He's done before.  I like it that way. ;-]

Also, I was thinking . . . If I get this job, I will have teacher's hours, which means no August 13th wedding.  Not to mention, Josh's sister and dad both work for/in schools and for the construction business, August is the most difficult with turning projects over.  What were we thinking for this to work out?  We want to be able to take 2 weeks off of work to get married, go on our honeymoon, and settle into our new place of residence, so August just will not work out with ours or our family's work schedules.  SO, this means that it is highly possible for us to have a July wedding!  That means sooner!  :-]  I briefly mentioned all of this to Josh over the phone while he was on his way home from work, so he probably didn't really soak in all that I was saying so we'll definitely have to sit down together with our families and figure out what works best for all of our schedules.  He reminded me to be open-minded for dates but I WILL NOT have a wedding later than August.  I just won't.  He needs to be my husband sooner than later.  Plus, I can't take time off work, the vice told me so.  ;-]  It's either July or December and he must be crazy if he thinks I want to wait until December 2011! 

Watching this whole thing come together (our engagement and possible job placement) is just a small reminder that God has us exactly where He wants us and nothing is more comfortable than that.  ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 6:02 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

The ring!

And here she is! :-] . . . Oh yeah, and my new fiance, too!

Posted byAshley C. at 8:30 PM 0 Love Notes  

More engagement details

I wanted to come here and share some more information about the engagement that didn't really fit in with the story (and that's too cool not to tell!).  So, you know how I just got back from Tennessee with Josh?  Well, that's not the way our anniversary was supposed to go.  He went into the jeweler's the Monday before our anniversary and bought the ring and needed it sized.  He told the lady that he needed the ring done before Thursday because he had proposal plans.  I guess he already purchased plane tickets for us to go to Florida and he was going to propose to me on the 12th, the day before our anniversary.  BUT, he got a call on Tuesday saying that the ring wouldn't be done until Wednesday night.  On Wednesday, he got a call saying the ring wouldn't be done until Thursday night.  So, there went his plans!  Haha, so, he got his money back for the plane tickets and planned for Tennessee instead.  I don't know how in the world he held that in!!  I am not good at keeping these kinds of surprises in, but evidently he is.  So, when we got back from Tennessee, he picked up the the ring a couple days later. 

This past Saturday, Josh and I planned on going to Chicago and spending the day there at Navy Pier; we were more than half way there, but because we both were tired from washing our cars all day, we decided to turn around and go Sunday instead.  After he proposed and we were talking, he told me that he really pushed for us to skip Saturday and come back Sunday because he didn't bring the ring with him.  He did not want to miss the perfect opportunity to propose, so he wanted to go Sunday.  Haha!  Then on Sunday, he said that there were lots of "chances" to propose, but he wanted to wait for something more . . ."perfect."  And right before I said Just propose to me already he said a very quiet prayer, asking God to please open doors and make this moment that moment.  He thought it was funny because literally 2 seconds later, I told him that.  It gave him the perfect opportunity to propose; and let me tell you what, I would not have changed that for a proposal in sunny Florida on the beach.  Never.  The entire proposal played out so well and simple . . . exactly the way I imagined.

Now, people keep asking if we've got the day picked out yet.  For those that know me and Josh, since like day 2 of us being together, we've always said, "August 13, 2010," but obviously that did not happen, so we have decided on August 13, 2011.  We have also decided (and have talked about for a long time) on a destination wedding in Hawaii with our immediate families (mom, dad, brother, sisters).  We are both more than willing to sacrifice that huge, expensive, traditional wedding and beautiful reception for the chance to get our families together, bonding, spending time together, and becoming one; after all, that's what matters in the end, right? We are still going to have a nice wedding in Hawaii, but only with the 9 of us.  ;-]  But, we've also decided that after we come back from our Honeymoon, we will have a large get-together/casual reception for everyone to celebrate our marriage with us.  
Josh has our planning under some restraints, though.  Haha, he said that we can't plan anything until this Sunday ("Just give us a week to enjoy this right now.").  On Saturday, we are going to open a joint savings account and put ourselves on a so-called payment plan to get us right where we need to be to meet our wedding budget.  On Sunday, I will begin to share lots more details with you all!  I can't wait!  I just want to lay out a budget, get an idea about pricing, plans, etc.  But, in order to fill this "itch" I have, he at least bought me a destination wedding book and a magazine.  :-]

P.S.: Tonight I will post a picture of the ring.  Dunn dunn dunnnnn!  ;-]   Also, this is where I will be sharing most of the wedding planning and lots of other details, so if you want in on the scoop, click the follow button on the side and check back often; I don't want to be one of those annoying people always updating my status about wedding this and wedding that.  Might get annoying to those that don't care one bit.  :-]   

Posted byAshley C. at 5:31 PM 0 Love Notes  

We're engaged!!!!!!!!!!

Finally!  You know what I'm talking about!  I no longer have to wish and hope and dream about the proposal. ;-]  I am officially soon-to-be Mrs. Joshua Staples!!!! Woot woot!!!!  If my computer weren't charging, I would still be running around the house screaming and dancing . . . and posing with my new ring in the mirror!  ;-] 

Yesterday, Josh and I spent the entire afternoon hanging out at Navy Pier.  The weather was perfect; the breeze was perfect; the Summery, warm, comfortable feeling of the day couldn't have been better.  We walked around Navy Pier and decided to take a seat on one of the benches.  I kicked my legs over his, he layed his arm across my shoulders and we just hung out and flirted.  Not just any kind of flirting; the kind of flirting where I have to ask myself, Have we really been dating for 5 years? the kind of flirting that stirs butterflies in my stomach.  I was cuddled in his arms and simply enjoying the moment for what it was.  After we both could no longer fight our hunger feeling, we agreed to grab dinner at Harry Caray's.  While eating dinner, I told him, You know that day that I've been wanting all Summer?  The day where we just hang out, walk hand-in-hand with our ice cream cones, enjoying each other's company?  This is that day.  This day is so perfect it seems unreal.  He just smiled.  Shortly after, I told him, Babe, I just want you to know that I don't even need a ring.  As long as I can have your last name, I am perfectly okay with that.  He just laughed and said "Yeah right!"
After dinner, we rode the ferris wheel and then were determined to find a bench amongst the tons and tons of people standing around waiting for a bench to clear to watch the fireworks.  We found the perfect bench and were sure that there wasn't a better seat at Navy Pier.  After the fireworks were over, I stood up and was ready to go since he had work the next morning and we had a long ride home, but Josh asked, "What time is it?"  9:12, I said.  "Sit back down, we still have some time to hang out."  So, we decided just to hang around and enjoy the perfect, warm breeze and that special moment that is so difficult to duplicate.  He had his arm around my shoulders and I kicked my feet up on the bench, leaned my back into his side, rested my head on his chest and nestled in closely to him. 

Why don't you just propose to me already?  Hey, wouldn't it be so cool if when you . . . And I was cut off by Josh placing this beautiful diamond ring in front of me.  I quickly gasped for a breath, turned around and looked at Josh, who was already on his knee.  Babe, are you serious? 
"Ashley Leilani-Nicole Couch, I love you sooo much.  Will you marry me?"  And the only word that could come out of my mouth was Yes. I grabbed him in the tightest hug and just started crying.  Crying because I couldn't have imagined a more perfect moment, on a more perfect day, with the most perfect guy I have ever met.  I couldn't believe that the moment I had been waiting for for so long had finally just happened.  The ring that he placed on my finger was THE perfect ring. 

I just kept hugging him, looking at him, and kissing him . . . and repeated about 30 times haha!  He said, "If I would have known I was going to get this many kisses, I would have asked sooner!"  So we just sat around, talked about what each other was feeling, assuring him that the ring was absolutely perfect, and promising that I didn't know he had a jewelry box in his side pocket.  Any of you that know me know that I ask Josh every day When are we getting engaged?  Is the day any closer?  Are we going to be engaged by ______?  Have you even purchased the ring yet?  What does my ring look like?  You already know the day you're going to ask me?  I am just the biggest eager beaver when it comes to wanting to be his fiance.  So for me to tell him, Why don't you just propose to me already?  was just another comment/question that the day couldn't end without.  But, I did not expect him to take me literally!  :-]

I still cannot believe that he is my fiance!  It really hasn't hit me, I don't think.  I can't believe that within the next year we will be shopping for wedding bands, looking for a place to live,  joining our bank accounts (YES!  I mean . . . ), looking for wedding attire, looking at furniture and appliances . . . taking steps to sharing the same last name . . . eeeek, it sounds amazing!!!!! 

And for those of you that are curious, the ring is a 1.5 carat solitaire.  ;-]  Yipeeee!!!! Homie did good!!!

Posted byAshley C. at 7:53 PM 2 Love Notes  


I've got to have my moment to shine.  Will you let me?  Okay, well I mentioned a couple posts ago that I started the Biggest Loser program at work.  One of the challenges this week was to log in your fastest mile on the treadmill.  Let me begin by saying that I usually run my mile on 5.5 speed, so it takes me about 12 minutes to finish and when I'm close to the end, I'm ready to just let the belt throw me off because I'm dead.  Well . . . on Wednesday, I looked at the fastest times logged in by other participants and they were 8.29', and 9.22'.  I figured that I would give it a shot.  I love me some competition.  I set the treadmill to 6.5 speed and was pretty sure I was going to die.  I felt like my lungs were collapsing and that my head was going to burst.  BUT, I made it and logged 9.25'; the fastest time I have ever done in a mile, I'm positive of it.  I was not happy with being in third.  Sooo I tried again today.  Instead, I set my speed to 7.0 and ran that speed the entire time.  Want to hear what my final time was?  8.41!!!!!!!!  WHY?!  I am sooo tempted to try again tomorrow!  I was only 12 seconds away from the best time! :-[  But you know what?  I already beat my best time.  By nearly 3-4 minutes, so this was huge for me.  I have to say that I'm proud . . . even though I did come in second.

Here's to being in second . . . and a second week of Biggest Loser! ;-]

Posted byAshley C. at 9:06 PM 0 Love Notes  

Finding my identity

I am almost positive that I'm having an early mid-life (20's?) crisis; not 100% sure, but almost.  You know how when you start junior high, you begin trying to find your identity?  You are trying to discover if you fit better with this group or that group; whether it would be cool to do this or if you'd be better off doing that.  Whether talking that way would be cuter or if you sound more smart talking that way.  If your entire life will change for the better dating this guy or just living for the moment and dating that guy (okay, go ahead and admit you've been there!).  Well, I'm sure I'm at that point again, but this time with photography. 

Do I make a better photog photographing this way or that?
Heck, can I even consider myself a photog?  Am I even "good enough?"
Is this really worth putting in years to see what might happen down the road?
Do I even really want to be doing photography later down the road?
Which direction do I see/feel myself heading?  Couples only?  Wedding?  Children?  Family?
Which direction would I feel most comfortable and be most successful in? 
Is that piece of equipment worth the investment? Will I even use it or am I just on one of those "highs?"
How can I stop comparing my skill to that photog that's been investing years of time?

Hmm.  That list is both scary and not-so-scary.  I guess the easy answer is just to practice, apply, and learn, but then again, it scares me to have to really think about all of that.  I guess if that photog is where they are, they only got there by having to jump the same hurdles as me.  So, I guess it's just watch out world I'm ready to tackle (and think about) whatever jumps at me!  Ready, set, here I go!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:58 PM 0 Love Notes  

Courtney // Maternity

I sent Courtney a text message asking her, Do you mind if I borrow you and your belly for maternity pictures soon? And she immediately said "Yes!" We hadn't seen each other in quite some time, so it sure was nice to catch up and for her to show off her beautiful body for these photos. She did an amazing job and got comfortable in front of the camera so quickly. Thanks for your help, Courtney!

P.S.: Blogger is killing the quality of these photos!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:43 PM 0 Love Notes  

Aaron and Brittany // Family

I asked these two if I could photograph their beautiful family and without hesitation, they were down! It was a blast sharing this growing experience with them because they were easy to please (and not to mention, one of the best-looking families I've seen!). During their shoot, I told them that either I'm doing pretty good and this whole photography gig or they are making my job way too easy! I think having confidence is key, so I'll go ahead and say that it's a little bit of both. ;-] Enjoy some of the photos!

Posted byAshley C. at 12:40 PM 0 Love Notes  

Vacation, Weight, and Photos

Me and my Lover are back from our short vacation.  We were gone for 4 days, but it went by way too fast.  I can't wait until I am able to spend time with him like we did in Tennessee!  We had an awesome time reconnecting with each other.  He has been working 14-16 hour days and when he gets off, he's too tired to hang out; since the school they are working on needs to be turned over by Monday, he will have a lot more time to hang out . . . which is bittersweet because he will probably be laid off for a while.  I mean, the money is sweet, but his body is exhausted and honestly, there is no money good enough for making him feel the way he has.  He deserves a good couple of weeks to relax.  :-]
Me on the other hand?  Well, I have had way too much time to relax.  I've been gaining weight, becoming lazy, and eating everything in sight haha.  Fortunately, on Monday I am starting the 'Biggest Loser' program at my work and on top of that . . . I will be doing Weight Watchers.  Again.  I know, I know.  You are probably thinking "Again?"  But really, I have never weighed this much and have never felt this gross.  I need to lose this weight some way or another and it won't be happening with me laying around and eating fast food.  We will see how this goes.  :-]
On another note, I just got my new laptop this week!  It has been a relief since I've been doing several sessions and have not been able to edit any of the photos.  So, I plan on editing the first session by this weekend and start chipping away at the other two before my next 3 sessions this month.  Eek!  :-]  But, I just purchased a Zenfolio account, so as soon as I have these photos edited, my clients will be able to go online, view, and purchase whichever they like.  I'm really excited about it!  So, as I've said before, if you know anyone interested in finding (or trying out) a new photographer, shoot them my way!

Maybe next time you hear from me, you will have a few photos to taste from my first session!     

Posted byAshley C. at 8:18 AM 0 Love Notes  

Road Trip!

Our 5th anniversary is this Friday and he gave me two options:  1) fly to Orlando or Naples, FL for 4 nights or 2) take a road trip to any place I want.  What did I choose?  ROAD TRIP!  We've been to Florida before.  I love Florida, but I wanted something a little more relaxing.  I feel like with so much going on around us, it's more like us just hanging out and that ends up resulting in us just "being there" with each other.  With it being a milestone for us, him working so much and us not doing a single thing this Summer exciting, I wanted something more us.  :-]  So, I told him that I wanted to go visit the Smokies and he was so up for the idea!  The only catch was that he took off work Thursday-Sunday (which in itself was a huge deal), so that means that I had to somehow get off work Thursday, too (thank you sooo much, Krissy!).  So, we made some reservations, paid for our rental and we're leaving tomorrow morning!  I cannot wait!  :-]  I love, love, love, love  Tennessee!!!  I just might not come back!  I'm so glad that I have my camera because I'm going to take a gazillion photos of everything.  :-D  And ony our list of things to do: ziplining, horseback riding, and hiking!  I will share lots of photos with you when we get back! 

Posted byAshley C. at 2:24 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

Here I come

I've noticed things about my blog.  Not really good things, but not bad things either.  This area is supposed to be a reflection of my life: my feelings, things going on, my faith, struggles, etc.  It hasn't been.  I've made a habit of blabbering on about what's going on day-to-day, but not what's going on inside.  As far as I know, I don't have any new readers, but if I did, they probably wouldn't know the real Ashley.  They wouldn't know my deep struggles, the things that keep me awake at night, the things that I can't "shake off."  Matter of fact, you probably don't either.  I haven't been sharing the real me.  I wouldn't necessarily say that I am being fake, because I have been sharing real things with you all, but I haven't been sharing the important things.  I think that it because once I write them, they are absolutely true and not just a figment of my imagination or something that I am currently working on but instead a real life problem.

My number one struggle right now is my faith.  I am a firm believer in Christ and I would not doubt for a minute that I am truly saved.  I believe in my heart that God raised his Son from the grave and I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord . . . that's all it takes to be saved.  I think that I have taken advantage of the comfortable life of a Christian and have not been living my faith out loud or making sacrifices that I know would make my God proud to call His own.  I have not read my Bible in more than 6 months and have not prayed a real prayer in longer than that.  I've been such a negative person with a very pessimistic outlook on life and me and I am so sure that me and Josh's relationship is the number one reflection of how my relationship with God (and myself) is at any given moment.  God is love.  God teaches love.  Without God, you cannot truly love.  I have noticed how my lack of love with God has had an influence with everyone around me, including myself.  I have been in the crabbiest, most unpleasant mood that I cannot change no matter what I try.  I have tried filling this void with things that are "scientifically" supposed to work like tanning, shopping, sleeping, etc.  But to be honest, nothing can fill the void of the absence of God in one's life.  What do I think I'm doing?  I tend to think Ah, I'm not that far from God.  I can get back to Him if/when I want to.  But, that's Satan's lies.  He wants me to think I am in good standing with God.  He wants me to think that things aren't "that bad."  What he doesn't want is for me to grow in my relationship with God.  Everything that I'm feeling is what he's feeling because he knows that he's doing a darn good job at it.  He's kept his lies up long enough and kept me from my God long enough and I feel like it's time to bring this to an end.

I often think about His Word as a love letter to me.  He wrote that love letter for me to read and be inspired, praise Him, turn to Him, love Him.  That letter has been sitting there, on my nightstand, for months and months, left unopened.  If Josh were to write me a letter, you better believe that I would tear that thing open, full of eagerness to hear what he wants to tell me; hear how much he loves me; hear about our plans for the future.  I would never let a letter from Josh sit that for months and months on end.  How could I?  How could I think that what Josh has to say is more important than what my Creator has to say? 

I need to find true love and happiness and I know that I have been looking in the wrong spot . . . but I see something right there, poking around the corner, waiting for me to go pick it up.  Here I come. 

Posted byAshley C. at 9:00 AM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

What was I thinking?

I don't know what I was thinking, but I did.  I thought it, I acted it out, and now I'm really wishing I didn't.  I am standing at the edge of a deep, deep hole, ready to jump in, not even sure what's at the bottom of it.  Probably a big ol' pile of dog mess, but hopefully something a lot more pleasant . . .and smells a whole lot better.

. . . I am building my photography portfolio and need your help! You will get a digital copy of your photos and I can hook you up on prints. The first 3 couples, 2 families, and momma and her baby that send me a message will get first dibs! Now, have at it! ;-] . . . 

So, there I was.  A little over an hour later and I have myself 2 photoshoots a week through August.  I suppose it's a very good thing since I need to get the practice in as soon as possible.  This will be like a photog boot camp!  :-]  My goal is to get the shoot done, edit the photos, and get them posted on an online gallery for them to view and purchase.  Speaking of which, I am trying my hardest not to say negative things like Ha, if they are even good enough to buy or I'm not even good enough to jump in this hole.  But, I know that I will only be as good and I think I am.  I need to get all of this negative mentality cleared and think positive, be daring, try some new things, and just be me.  Over the next year, I want to see myself grow and develop in ways that I cannot even imagine now.  I've got the most encouraging, supportive boyfriend that anyone could ask for and with him alone, I should not have any excuses for not following through on my dreams.  

Well, here's to a busy month and lots of growth!

Posted byAshley C. at 9:51 AM 0 Love Notes  

choo choo twains and sunny days

I don't really get to see my handsome nephew anymore since he and his mommy moved out of our home; so, when I do get to see him, you better believe all of my attention and energy are focused on him.  Since, mommy was working this weekend, we had the honor to watch (and spoil) him.  I don't know if I've mentioned before, but this little bugger is obsessed with "choo choo twains."  So, me, my mom, and step-dad took him on the train to Chicago and headed to Navy Pier.  And as if the hour train ride wasn't enough, when we got to Navy Pier, the first thing he spotted was the Thomas the Train ride.  He rode that.  3 times.
I don't know how we managed to do it, but we got him on the ferris wheel . . . he loved it, but would not let us let go of him to sit him next to us.  I don't blame him; that ferris wheel feels like it's miles high.  So, in my opinion, he was actually pretty brave. :-]  I got lots of pictures, but since the loss, I can't load them on here. :-[

Yesterday, we took him to the county fair.  He saw and got to pet the pigs, goats, and horses (cows. haha, still working on that!).  A couple months ago, he went to another fair and played that game where you throw the balls into the small jars and can win a goldfish; he won a goldfish and surprisingly, it is still alive.  When you ask him where you got the fish, he says "That's my fish. Throw balls!"  Well, of course, they had a couple of those booths set up and he insisted on playing that game.  Needless to say, after $10, we didn't go home with a fish this time.  While at the fair, he rode the carousel and a car-ish carousel (4 times!).  He probably would have ridden the twain ride a bajillion times if I didn't convince him it was broken (thank goodness his balloon popped and grabbed his attention when it came riding passed us!).  Since we spent so much time dilly-dallying around, we missed the demo derby show.  He would have really enjoyed that, but maybe next year. ;-]  The sun probably wore him out anyway after sitting in it for 2 straight days. 

And I thought I'd give you an update: the insurance said we should have the itemized list and a check in the mail by early this week!  Yay!  Oh, and Josh said that we are separating the money that we get back from each of our stolen items because he "needs it for something."  Hmm . . .?  It's most likely not what I think it is, but it's fun to entertain the thought. ;-]  This means that I'll have a new laptop hopefully by next week!  Then, back to rebuilding my photo albums since they were all stolen. ;-[

Posted byAshley C. at 11:33 AM 0 Love Notes  

I can't wait

You already know that Josh and I have been together for quite some time (well, nearly 5 years to be more clear), and I talk a lot about being engaged to him.  Okay, maybe not on here because I don't want to seem like a crazy, mad, obsessive woman, but ask the people I encounter on a regular basis.  ;-] 

Today, I told Josh, I really can't wait until we're engaged!  and he replied, "And then when we're engaged, you'll say 'I can't wait until we are married.'"  So I laughed and told him, Yeah, you're right.  Of course, since he knows me so well, he tells me, "Then, when we're married, you'll be saying, 'I can't wait to have babies!'" Haha, then I'll be saying that I can't wait until these babies are out of the house and we're on our own again.  Here's the scary part:  Josh finishes by telling me, "And then, when our babies are out of the house and we're old together, you'll tell me 'I can't wait until we're in heaven together.'" 

I guess, that last part is probably very true, but very scary at the same time.  I'm always looking forward to the next big thing, the next life-changing event to occur and I'm kind of overlooking what's in front of me now.  Josh and I are sooo happy together, and sure, being married will enable us to do a lot more, but what's wrong with living in the now, right now?  Times flies and I don't want to be one of those old people that look back on their lives and say "Where did it all go?"  I want to look back at my life and be completely satisfied with everything and know that God's timing in my life was nothing less than perfect.  You know what the cool thing about what Josh said is though?  That God will create a whole new earth, and that means that Josh and I will be able to live for eternity.  Together.  There will be no I can't wait for this.  I can't wait for that.  God will make us perfect beings and living solely by His will.  I told Josh that means that we can have lots and lots and lots of babies since there will be no pain in Heaven.  :-] 

Posted byAshley C. at 7:46 PM Post a comment (1) Love Notes  

verses like these

 When I hear verses like these:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”  Psalms 56:8

"For you created my inmost being;  you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.  All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139: 13-16

I cannot help but be reminded of how much our God loves us and is really involved in our lives.  I don't always feel like God is there or that He is listening to my requests or praises . . . but this . . .this is our reminder.  :-]   

Posted byAshley C. at 8:26 AM 0 Love Notes