taking off! again!

You guyyyys.

Jared & I are leaving tomorrow for our anniversary trip in NYC,
I'm sooooo excited!!!
Being sick earlier this week kinda threw me for a loop,
but now that my work week (type thing) is done & over,
I'm finally remembering that a romantic, adventure-filled trip is right around the corner.
We're staying most of our trip with Reigner & Alex, so it's sure to be excellent.

It's time to pack (ayiiii), but I wanted to say hi & I'll try to stop in this weekend.
Have a wonderful weekend yourself, & if you have any trip tips for our week in the Big City,
pass them along! We mostly just want good pizza & fun times. ;)

xo, kelsey


the big peach - aquarium

the Georgia Aquarium and Zoo Atlanta were absolute highlights from our trip to atlanta,
& basically omgcuteanimals! heaven. 
so, so much to see - & usually in some form of high heel, which my feet are still forgiving me for.
these are just some of my favorite photos from the Aquarium. i took probably, oh, a million.

notes from one of my sessions at the conference we attended.
just like college all over again. kinda love it.

pacific sea nettles - so beautiful!

the beluga whale who stole my heart. 
i bought a beluga plushie in the gift shop & named him anderson 
as a shout out to the anderson cooper that we never saw wandering around the CNN Center.

whale shark + manta ray + fishies from up above & down below

heading to atlanta soon? GO TO THE AQUARIUM. & the Zoo.
but mostly the Aquarium, & tell my beluga friend that i say hello.

xo, kelsey


the big peach - sneak peek

the cutest little pumpkin in the whole wide world.
[at Zoo Atlanta]

i just wish tigers could be pets.
but then i remind myself that even if i could pet them.. 
i'd break out in hives.
because tigers are kitties, too.

more atlanta photos tomorrow...
i'm a little busy blowing my nose & coughing right now.

p.s. it's been raining since thursday & i'm still loving it.
i think i was supposed to be a west-coaster.

xo, kelsey


rainbows & down comforters

Enjoyed a beautiful (double) rainbow tonight after a rainy, rainy day...
I had to pull the car over & whip out my silly little phone to snag some pictures,
but it was tooooo, too beautiful to not capture.

I really shouldn't be awake still.
Time to go curl up in my big down comforter & joyfully set my alarm to OFF.
Have a happy Saturday, everyone!

xo, kelsey


a little picnic

So, I was a little leery calling this mini-date a "picnic,"
because there's nothing cutesy, homemade, or cherry-pie-in-a-basket about it.
We didn't even ride our bikes there... In fact, we drove.
But to be safe, I looked up the definition of the word picnic,
(which is: an excursion or outing in which the participants carry food with them and share a meal in the open air)
& I figured, well, that is in fact what we did!

Jared & I have been picnicing/day-dating/midnight walking at this lake since there was a Jared & I.
Really truly, our first "date" took place here,
so there's good memories all around. (More on that soon, promise.)
There's a "secret entrance" down the street from Jared's parents' house
that I like to think only Jared + his siblings + their friends know about,
& for the longest time, it was the only entrance that I knew existed.

It was a few years ago that one of us got a craving for that chicken teriyaki that they throw at you in the mall food court,
so we picked some up, stopped by Chick-fil-a for lemonade (I'll take full responsibility for that craving),
& then took it to the lake to enjoy the beautiful weather.
The whole thing stuck, & now it's a little bit of a tradition, I guess.
Like I said, there's no brie, wicker or checkered blankets...
But it sho' is delicious, & it sure is splendid.

I'll admit - It's the first time we've had this date since we got married,
so I of course got a little sentimental & started dreaming about bringing our baby there someday...
to that first place where mom&dad awkwardly smiled at each other on the dock,
skipping rocks & making eyes.

Alright, I've taken this blog to a whole new level now that I've introduced you to the lake.
You should take me to meet your parents next, or something.
At least start introducing me as your girlfriend.

without further ado...
our day off:

xo, kelsey


sneezes and whales

::our view with a room::

Atlanta was awesome, & I have so very many pictures to share with you. It was a work trip, so I learned things & networked & whatnot... But, I mean, come on. I hung out with a beluga whale.

So, I'm totally home, & totally on the verge of sickness. Jared was left in Virginia to deal with last week's "summer!no fall!no summer! ah,whatevs." weather, which managed to get him sick & wouldn't you know! I think I caught it.

In a cruel role reversal, I'm going to be home sick this weekend while he heads out of town on a camping trip with "the guys"... Which hopefully will result it completely mediocre stories & no scars/wounds/burns to talk about. Right, Amelia? ;)

I'll be back!
xo, kelsey


engagement - save the date session

Aren't these beautiful?
Levi captured the day's completely pristine sky so well.
That sky seriously made up for the um, frigid weather we were dealing with.
Can you even tell we were freezing?
Nope, because I got my love to keep me warm ;)

Looking at these pictures all over again, I think three things:
1. Jared looks so cuddly in his Mr. Roger's sweater & I'm excited for fall all over again.
2. My brother-in-law is, quite clearly, the best.
3. The shoes I'm wearing were perhaps my favorite flats in all the history of flats...
& my parents' (then) puppy chewed them to BITS like, 3 days later. & I'M STILL SO SAD.

I'm working backwards through our engagement photos, 
in case the hair color didn't give that away...
But bear with me! 
I'm gearing up to chat through our wedding paper suite this week,
which starts with a photo from this very photo shoot.
Seriously, I can't thank Levi enough for sticking with me through the 57 save-the-date ideas I had,
taking pictures from every angle that we could possibly need,
& then a lovely post-production process to get the photo to work.

I'm excited!
But even more so, I'm excited to be HOME from my trip.
So excuse me, while I go hang out with my darling husby.

xo, kelsey


engagement - film, pt. II

oh, heeey there, freckles.
& it's a ferris wheel, since you're about to ask.

engagement shoot with Levi Bethune Photography
at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront

xo, kelsey


la mer - a farewell to summer, pt. II


polars from the Essmann family vacation to Duck, NC
yes, me + my sister + her friends are keeping Target's swimsuit line "afloat."
& yes, Emma the dog does in fact smile when she's leash-less on the beach.
such a fun vacation.

xo, kelsey


la mer - a farewell to summer, pt I

It's been September for 14 whole days now, but it's just beginning to hit me that summer has ended.
The distinctive lines between summer & fall have blurred over the last two years, 
what with the addition of a day job and the subtraction of the back-to-school factor.
Traffic is back to it's stop&go norm, the sun is setting earlier, & we're spending more evenings on our back porch.
I'm not kidding myself - I am welcoming fall back with wide open arms,
But I can't help but be *a teeeeensy bit* sentimental over yet another newlywed season ending.

Summer, you were great! 
A little toasty, but I'm sure I'll be dreaming of your warm embrace soon enough.

::some of my favorite ocean photos from our first married summer::


xo, kelsey


taking off!

I'm packing my bags tonight, & jumping on a plane headed for Atlanta tomorrow morning.
While I'm learning things at a work conference, you'll get some more engagement pictures & a couple goodbyes to summer.
I've been prepping my booty off to keep you all entertained this week ;)
In the meantime! If you have suggestions for my week in The Big Peach, please let me know! 
My boss & I already have to-do list running, & we're way more than open to insider tips.

Have a wonderful week!
xo, kelsey


lately: phone photos

1. an august sky
2. bacon chocolate chip cookies + the perfect cup for cookie dunkin'
3. fried green tomatoes from Cotton
4 & 5. Some yummy summer drinks
6. fingernails - ignore my writing bump.

It's been a quiet "day off," but somehow busy aaaall at the same time.
I'm taking off for a work conference this week, & am thus overwhelmed with all the leaving-town goodness that ensues.
I'm making my outfit list, my shopping list, my blog schedule list, my must-wash list...
So. Many. Lists.
But I'm excited! Should be a good trip.

For now, I'm off on the hunt for a good trouser jean.
My 19 yr. old self is all like, "Whaaaa??"
But it's time. Professional Kelsey, reporting for duty.

happy monday!
xo, kelsey


never forget

On September 11th, 2001 I was: 
homeschooled, & slowly getting ready for my day.
My mom came into my room & told me that a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers.
I didn't really know what that meant. The gravity of the situation certainly hadn't hit me.
I sat on her bed & watched the news with her. My older sister joined us.
My mom went to go get my youngest sister. That was when the second plane hit.
I remember being confused. I didn't know if I was watching a replay at a different angle.
It didn't take long for them to confirm that a second plane had hit the towers.
I think that was when I realized... maybe when we all realized... what was going on.
When the Pentagon was hit, it became that much more real.
My dad's friend had left his office & went to the other side of the building.
There was no office to return to.
We spent the rest of the day in front of the tv, watching history. Horrified. Sad.
& like so many others, wondering why. Did we know anyone that was hurt. What does this mean. What comes next.

That night, I had ballet & pointe class.
I remember being surprised they weren't cancelled.
I will actually never forget being driven in that evening.
The sun was setting, & the sky was beautiful.
I remember watching it, & just feeling... small.
The world seemed so small.
I didn't know anyone in NYC that day, but I somehow knew everyone in NYC that day.
The world was small, & we were all hurting.
My teacher explained once we got into class that we were there because we needed to keep going.
To get our minds off what we'd been watching all day, but also so that they didn't win.

& they didn't.

All gave some, some gave all.
Love you, NYC.

xo, kelsey


a braidy bunch

how I wore my hair for last night's date.
what do you think of el "braid bangs?"
(inspiration here)
it was actually super simple to do, if that encourages you at all.

some days, I am just POSITIVE that I want to chop my hair off after our bridal shoot in November,
but there's such a freedom in my long hairs & being able to do... basically anything with them.
right now, the focus is growing out my bangs, which I've given in & cut every winter.
not this year! no sirree! I'm staying strong!

I wish I had a better picture to show you,
but that camera hasn't fallen out of the sky yet,
so my little cell phone is what I'm workin' with ;)

& I apparently will not be doing any applying-mascara-tutorials any time soon.

happy saturday!

xo, kelsey


engagement - film

shot with a Nikon F4; Lens - Nikkor 50mm 1.4 (Made in 1960s)

We have the some of the most talented family members,
& today's photos showcase the fantastic work of Levi Bethune Photography.
These pictures are all straight from the camera,
& we could not be more thrilled with them.

Words cannot describe the HEAT that fell upon the earth the day of this shoot in mid-June.
Which makes sense, because our "save the date" photoshoot was, um, FREEZING (in late March).
But Levi worked his magic, Jared told some cheesy jokes, & we managed to smile, laugh & melt our way through the afternoon,
& things cooled off once we moved into the evening.

When I look at these photos, they look like how Norah Jones sounds.
How she sounded as she crooned in the background when Jared proposed to me in the falling snow.
Glowing faces, beaming smiles.
I just want to hold his hand.
Right now!
& for forever.
(Good thing we're already married, huh?)

Ooo ... Hope I didn't spoil the surprise ending for you just now ;)

xo, kelsey


"sometimes it lasts in love"

Some polaroid photos from our evening at the symphony with Amelia & Andrew.
(Can't make up those polaroid expiration spots, folks.)
We hopped in the Cabrio... top down, of course,
& met up with my family at the annual Labor Day concert that the VA Symphony hosts in a local park.
It was a perfect double date,
with beautiful weather, bacon chocolate chip cookies and some pinot grigio on the side.

It's been a whopping SIX YEARS since I met two beautiful ladies our freshman year at GMU,
& soon after we clicked, those two boys settled into the "guy love" that I don't think anyone could have predicted...
I couldn't be happier to know these souls,
& thus far, it seems like our friendship is just getting better with age.

Amelia, Andrew, Allison & Jared... You are all  w o n d e r f u l .
Thank-you for the *almost* surprise weekend visit, 
for all the laughs that maybe help work off all the food we eat (?),
& for being such wonderful, wonderful kindred spirits.
'Til next time...

"You'd know how the time flies.
Only yesterday was the time of our lives.
We were born & raised in a summer haze,
bound by the surprise of our glory days."

xo, kelsey


with that ring

I did totally wed.

Just a little taste of what I was working on today,
& the first taste of what should be a fantastically wedding-y next couple of months for this little blog.
Now that we've been married for, you know, nearly a year,
I'm finally ready to take you through our wedding, piece by intricate, tiny piece.
Starting with our (two) engagement shoots with Levi,
which include some never-before-seen film photos (like that one, up there!).

Jared planned a surprise visit with Andrew & Amelia for me,
so we have been thoroughly enjoying ourselves with them + Allison
mostly eating, but also a symphony concert under the stars.
I have pictures of all that, too. Duh.

So, see ya, Labor Day! 
With you being over, my birthday (week) is that much closer.
It's been fun!

xo, kelsey


happy weekend

Just stopping in to say hi on a relaxing Saturday afternoon.
I have an event on Monday at work, so I'm missing the Labor Day barbecues,
but I did start the weekend off this morning by dressing up as Cinderella for a parade at the Zoo,
so, really, I'm heading in a good direction ;)
Have a happy weekend!

xo, kelsey