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Spring Dinner with Lauren + Emma | New Orleans Lifestyle Photographer

“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever. —Lev Grossman, The Magicians S”
Erin Loechner, Chasing Slow

I was gifted with the honor of crossing paths with Lauren a couple of years ago, and every day since, I remain baffled by the humor, talent, and graceful heart she possesses. Lauren is one of those people that you see online and likely think to yourself, “There’s no way this girl’s life is real.” I’ve watched her pour her heart and soul into her daughter, her home, and the things that fulfill her most, truly content with the time, talent, and people life has given her.

For those of you who don’t know Lauren, she’s an incredible photographer and an equally amazing cook. In between busy schedules, we try to get together for yummy dinners, heartfelt chats, and some girly laughs as often as possible. I took my camera over to her house when she invited me over for dinner and captured a few sweet photos of her and Emma whipping up the best meal.

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Emma lives the most colorful life for a toddler. From art projects to gardening, cooking together to traveling the world, Lauren is always so involved with keeping her ever-developing mind active and engaged. If you’ve ever met Emma you know just how much her little voice livens up any room…

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

While we waited on dinner to cook, we spent time soaking in the sunset on the rocking chairs of Lauren’s 100+ year-old beautiful home and adventured into the woods behind the house for a little swing in the Hammock. 

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

On our walk towards the Hammock, Emma stopped to show me the garden they had recently planted and told me that “We have to find a way for the animals not to eat her vegetables at night!”

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Lauren, the world truly is a little more enchanting with your hilarious side jokes, breathtaking eye for all things lovely, and graceful soul. Umm, and definitely your delicious meals…

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

Dinner with Lauren + Emma

If you are interested in a casual Lifestyle Session of this nature in your own home or on one of your family’s adventures. Please, contact me! I’d love to document the activities, places, and people that bring you the most joy in life!

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Our “Friends-mas” | On Cultivating the Meaningful Relationships in My Life

We are made so intricately in the depths of our being to connect with other humans. There’s something so unspeakably soul-filling about being surrounded by a group of genuine souls. I’m going to humbly brag for a moment and say that I’ve always felt extremely grateful by the types of humans I seem to find myself surrounded by.

As life and being a girl goes, close-knit communities of people like this in my life sometimes ebb and flow; nonetheless, I’ve been truly overwhelmed with the loving and talented people I’ve found in my close circle this past year. Having friends that not only lift you, but inspire you to reach new levels creatively are a gift I accept with the utmost gratuity.

I threw a Christmas party this year to celebrate these meaningful friendships–something I now hope to make a purposeful tradition. I thought I’d share with you some of the joy from the night…

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

I made the little cheesecakes; however, our GORGEOUS dark cherry, black forrest cake was made by the ever-talented Bonnie of Pink Cake Love. If you’re looking for a classy, beautiful, and equally tasty cake, she’s absolutely your girl. I’ve been to a few parties and weddings with her cakes and they are always a hit.

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

My Albert Camus lettered quote framed in gold on the gallery wall is one of the most asked about pieces in my home. For those of you wondering, it’s from one of my favorite hand-letterers, Chelsea Petaja. You can find her stunning work, here.

2016 Christmas Party

SALTED CARAMEL WHITE RUSSIAN:

  • 1 PART Kahlua Salted Caramel
  • 2 Parts Vodka
  • 1 Part Cream
  • Salted Caramel Syrup (for lining the glass)
  • Shaved Chocolate (for garnish)

++This makes for a pretty strong drink. Since we put this into a decanter for guests, I actually added a bit of almond milk. It was the hit drink of the night, for sure.

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

I had these ornaments custom made as favors from Ashley at Bagsby Blue Co. They’re inscribed with the words “Make Life Pretty” and were accompanied by a note to my guests reminding them that no matter the good, bad, beautiful, and ugly life may bring, you can always choose to make a life that’s pretty–a legacy crafted by nothing more or less than the choices made.

2016 Christmas Party

CRANBERRY GIMLET:

  • 1 Part Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice
  • 2 Parts Vodka
  • Soda Water
  • Cranberries + Fresh Rosemary for Garnish

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

We had cheese, wine, gumbo, potato salad, and all of the laughs. And a prize for the most awful Christmas sweater, chosen by our youngest attendee, Miss Emma.

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

We ended the night around the outdoor fire pit with some S’mores Lattes. Twas the best night.

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

2016 Christmas Party

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The BEST Time of Year is Here! | Festive Holiday Cocktail Recipe

I love all of the weather changes when they come; however, the start of November is A-B-S-O-L-U-T-E-L-Y my favorite. Cozy blankets, festive spiked cocktails, cuddling up to the twinkle of Christmas tree lights–there is not much I find more warm and inviting than that, friends. Since yesterday marked the end of Halloween madness, I felt it was safe to get a little festive with some after-dinner drinks last night.

Spiked eggnog is a staple in my house during the holidays, so I decided to share the recipe for the way we like to sip it…

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HOLIDAY SPIKED EGGNOG WITH CHOCOLATE-RIMMED GLASSES

INGREDIENTS:

Eggnog (Regular, not spiked. I prefer Borden or Kleinpeter)

Southern Comfort Liqueur

Almond Bark (comes in huge brick, only need one square to melt)

Heath Bar Toffee Bits (baking aisle)

  1. Melt 1 small square piece of almond bark in a small bowl for 60 seconds. Continue to heat at 30 second intervals until melted. While chocolate is melting, pour out Heath Bar Toffee Bits onto a plate generously. Once chocolate is heated, dip rims of glasses in chocolate, then in Heath Bar Toffee Bits. Place glasses to side to harden.
  2. Mix equal parts Eggnog and Southern Comfort Liqueur. I basically fill my small glass with both, leaving only enough room for ice. (Here’s where your recipe may differ. We like our eggnog strong. Who wants the calories of eggnog without the appropriate liquor? For a less strong drink, simply add less Southern Comfort.)
  3. ENJOY! PS. Nibble on your toffee and chocolate as you sip–it makes for the perfect dessert after dinner!

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Social Media’s Out for Summer: Why I’m Taking a Partial Social Media Hiatus

“I’m sure no one ever thinks about it…but these snapshots are our little stand against the flow of time. 

The shutter is clicked, the flash goes off…

And we’ve stopped time. If just for the blink of an eye.

And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young and I was happy…

and someone cared enough about me in this world, to take my picture.”

If you’ve seen the movie One Hour Photo starring Robin Williams, you may remember this quote. Watching the movie again recently, the words got me like a jab straight to the gut. But perhaps not in the way you might think. While the words did resonate the sentiment that photographs are ever-so-important, it resonated another sentiment even more. One of disconnecting in this world we live of C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T connection. Taking time to breath and to be present, without sharing every move we make in hopes of “likes” and followers.

I think things in the social media world have evolved at such a fast pace, that we sometimes don’t even realize how much it’s effected the ebbs and flows of our lives, our emotions, and our relationships. While I absolutely CHERISH social media for it’s ability to connect us with the outside world, I think most of us can agree in this age of DAILY Facebook spats, that it’s both a blessing and a curse.

I am ever-so-grateful for the parts of social media that have allowed me to expand my mind and my relationships with thoughts and people that I never before would have been able to encounter in the same ways–or on the same levels. However, I think we can all agree that the “Keeping up with the Joneses” and the Facebook aggression on topics like vaccinations, political debates, and parental critiques are at an all-time-high enough to make an onlooker sick to the stomach.

SocialMediaBreak

(Photo by Jenna Kutcher)

So, what am I getting at?

Well, after much debate (and fear)–as social media does drive an inherent part of my business–I’ve decided to take a little hiatus from Facebook and blogging. It’s VERY semi-permanent, but I truly believe a break from the constant chatter to NOT document every move I make and instead observe the real-life happenings around me is essential for growth and development.

With that being said, I WILL still be present on Instagram and you can follow me @kalinorton. I’m not sure exactly what date I’ll be back on Facebook and blogging, but it will likely be around mid-August. When I do return, my hope is to share with you any insight and growth that occurred in my absence.

While this step was a little scary for me, as blogging twice a week has become such a vital part of my business, I truly believe this break is necessary. After all, the scariest things usually birth the best transformation, right?

In the meantime, if you’d like to reach out or connect with me, you CAN still do so via email, Instagram (@kalinorton) and Snapchat (@kalinorton).

Happy Summer, friends!

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Fresh Start Spring: Tips & Tools I’ve Found to Clear the Clutter & Start Fresh

As I mentioned with last week’s post, I’ve really been focused on clearing the clutter in my life via some “Spring cleaning” with intention. From my home, to my body, to my daily routine, I’ve been focused on clearing out the unnecessary and making room to intentionally focus on the things that matter. Spring is when I find myself having the most energy to start fresh, so if that’s the case for you too, perhaps these things might help…

Jennifer Landry

BODY 

I don’t know about you, but I feel best when I’m intentional and feeling fresh from the inside out. For this reason, it’s usually pretty essential for me to feel healthy and rejeuvenated with my diet and clean eating before I can even begin to honestly tackle any other aspects of my life. For this reason, my #freshstartspring began with me working with a nutritionist to clean out the holiday festivities that crept their way into my diet and feel good again in my own skin. Something about a clean diet almost always gets me motivated in all other aspects of my life.

 

HOME 

  • HAVE A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING: Clutter gives me anxiety, bottom line. Having a place for everything is a GREAT way to start days off organized and fresh. Not only does it help when it comes to finding things, but it helps from adding unnecessary additional items into the home. It may be a large initial task to purchase bins and storage for each thing that needs space in your hom,; but I promise, you will feel like a new person once it’s done. Clean out junk drawers, makeup drawers, piles of mail–if it isn’t necessary to your daily/weekly/monthly functioning, TOSS IT!
  • FILE IMPORTANT PAPERS AS YOU RECEIVE THEM: This is a huge one for me. From junk mail, to taxes, to bills, additional papers can quickly pile up in my home. As a result, I went to target and bought manilla folders to label and create a place for each piece of paper that enters my home. Each type of bill has its own folder and is filed in a larger drawer. When you do this AS THEY COME, it never piles up and literally takes only a minute to walk to the file drawer to put it in. I’ve been guilty of letting papers pile up in the past, but oh how much easier this system makes life.
  • MONTHLY BILL CHECKLIST: As I mentioned about everything having a place, this includes a spot where I can physically check off bills as they’re paid. I’m not an auto pay bill type of gal and I cannot tell you how many times in the past I used to question if I paid the bill or not and have to take the additional time to login. I purchased this bill checklist from Etsy a few years ago and have used it ever since. I just saved the file on my computer and print a new one each year. It’s simple and allows me to see all bills in one place.
  • PASSWORD SHEET: With each year, it seems the amount of online passwords grow. What used to be kept on a scratch sheet of paper in the back of my planner, can no longer fit. I recently downloaded a password tracker from Emily Ley’s Free Printable Library, and it’s a great way to start fresh with what may seem like an ever-growing list of scribbled passwords and usernames. Update this yearly and you’re sure to stay organized in that department!
  • CLEAN OUT PHONE PHOTOS: I put this one off FOREVER. It seems as though the amount of photos we store on our phones can grow exponentially by the week. With that being said, rummaging through thousands of photos to delete duplicates, bad ones, and ones that you just don’t need seems like a daunting task. Bite the bullet. Put it on your list. JUST DO IT. And while you’re at it, print those babies so they don’t stay on your phone or get lost forever with a random software crash. I print iPhone photos from time to time onto this wonderful little book from Artifact Uprising. It’s a GREAT way to get the photos off of your phone and document your years in print.
  • PURGE YOUR CLOSET: This is probably the most common “Spring Cleaning” to-do. If you’re a clothes lover like me, it’s important to get rid of the old to make room for the new. Create a separate Instagram to sell your nicer, gently used clothes and donate the rest.
  • CLEAN OUT YOUR PURSE: Ladies, we all know of the most random things that end up at the bottom of our purses. Clean it out along with the rest of your house. You’ll just feel better.
  • WEEKLY UPKEEP: Make a designated day or time every week where you perform basic upkeep and cleaning. The key to maintaining organization and a clean household is to keep up with it. While sometimes it may be easier to put a task off, taking the extra few seconds to put something in it’s place or clean a dish will make all the difference with how much time and energy (and stress) you have to put into it later. I try to use the downtime when I have it on most Sundays for cleaning and upkeep around my house. Dusting, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, washing sheets, are all manageable tasks when I try to tend to them weekly.

MIND & HEART 

  • NIGHT TENDING LIST: This is something I learned from doing business training with Lara Casey and Emily Ley a few years ago, and still practice these things nightly. Every night I go through my general to-do list for the following day. I get my gym clothes out and brainstorm the regular outfit I’ll wear (if applicable after). I fill water bottles, clean out the kitchen sink of dirty dishes and bathroom of dirty clothes. I go to bed with everything in place for a fresh slate the next day. Y’ALL. This sounds so simple, because IT IS. But I cannot tell you how these little things truly impact how intentionally I start my day. The minutes and brain power I save not having to worry about locating clothes, shoes, and other things is spent more productively on the tending list I can do in the morning to get my day productively moving in the right direction. I urge you to try this routine out just for a week or so and let me know how it adds to your productivity.
  • MORNING TENDING LIST: By doing the aforementioned things at night, I’m able to spend the first few moments of my morning (about 30 minutes to an hour) reflecting, catching up on world news, reading, ant mapping out my vision for my day. Having a clear mind in the mornings to not worry about what I have to get done, but instead, to just be has also been very monumental for me.
  • UNFOLLOW PEOPLE YOU COMPARE YOURSELF TO & FOLLOW PEOPLE THAT UPLIFT AND INSPIRE YOU: I’ve blogged more extensively about this topic, here. But TRULY TRULY, just do it. This life is far to short and precious to be down on yourself or in constant comparison with those around you. Feed your mind and soul with things that push you forward and leave the rest behind. It’s really that simple.
  • PODCASTS: While I’m putting makeup on or driving, I’ve found podcasts to be a GREAT way to further educate myself, exercise my mind, and seek out positive ways of pursuing life. If you’re looking for ways to add more value to the in-between moments of your days, I highly recommend finding some podcasts that inspire you. Here are a few of my current favorites: The Lively Show, Being Boss, Serial.
  • SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY: Choose to spend less time around negative people and more time around positive people. Sometimes, the most negative people in our lives are the ones we can’t outright cut out. Even if that’s the case, we can take in more positivity so that we are better prepared to handle emotional clutter. Fill your well so that you always end your day feeling more heart-filled. (NOTE: This particular bullet point is copied directly from Lara Casey’s #freshstartspring movement. She put it so perfectly that there really was no need to put it any other way)

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