For nearly the past two years, I’ve been blessed with a “good at everything” boyfriend. And when I say “good at everything” I mean… basketball, Uno, darts, softball, Phase 10, volleyball, poker, horse back riding… literally anything I throw at him, he manages to conquer – even if it’s something that involves pure luck – somehow he finds a way to add strategy to it. Or when I teach him how to do something, he eventually becomes better at it than me – it’s INSANELY frustrating yet undeniably attractive at the same time. (And I’m only admitting this because it’s his birthday… I would never admit he’s better than me at anything on any other day of the year).
But even more impressive than everything else he does well, is his ability to be the most incredible, loving, and loyal boyfriend. He is the BIGGEST supporter of my business, is unbelievably understanding about my hectic schedule, and is the perfect balance to everything good and bad about me. We fight about everything and nothing; agree to disagree on most things, but at the end of the day I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Happiest of birthdays to my best friend, closest confidant, and beautifully-eye-lashed boyfriend that makes me laugh every single day. I’m SO lucky to have you in my life, and I hope today – at the very least – I can make you feel as special as you make me feel all year round. I love you 🙂
Whenever I’m second shooting for Seattle based wedding photographer, JordanQuinn Photography, I know it’s going to be a BEAUTIFUL day. Sarah + Tyler’s wedding was no exception. A gorgeous snowy day in January set the tone for this traditional yet unique wedding. Traditional in the sense that Sarah had her grandmother’s fur coat and their cake topper was passed down to them through the generations – but unique in that the day was set at the AMAZING Ravenswood Event Center, unlike any other venue I had ever seen.
One thing that stood out to me, apart from the gorgeous cotton details, intricate lace wedding dress, and different nude colored bridesmaid dresses (letting bridesmaids choose their own dress in the color theme – my new favorite thing I’m tucking away for my own wedding one day), is the love that Sarah and Tyler had. Not because it was an over the top, can see it from 1000 yards away, jumping on top of couches on Oprah type love (even though it may be) – but what I noticed was how everyone that spoke about them on their wedding day, spoke about how they so fittingly BALANCE each other out.
It’s something that I can relate to in my own relationship, so when I heard each and every speech talk about how Sarah and Tyler are each other’s perfect counterpart, it hit close to home and made me feel that warm fuzzy feeling they talk about in greeting cards and poems 🙂
Special thanks to Jordan for letting me shoot along side her again – it’s always a pleasure, boo. Congratulations to the beautiful couple, Sarah and Tyler – may your lives be full of unparalleled excitement and pure bliss.
primary photographer /// JordanQuinn Photography
venue /// ravenswood event center
florals /// forget me knodt
dj /// toast & jam
cake /// le flour
For the past three years, I’ve gotten a group of 12+ of my friends to go on a local ski/snowboard trip. It’s always filled with interesting games, unforgettable moments, and LOTS of sore muscles. All three of the trips have unique moments that I will never forget, and even though we say it every year – hopefully we’ll make it out to Colorado next year J
I want to quote my good friend Krista from a conversation we had after the trip that perfectly sums up how I feel, “I’m so thankful to have such a fun group of good people as friends!”
Here’s a look back at the past 3 ski trips…
2011: First Year /// Devil’s Head Resort, Merrimac, WI
2012: Second Year /// Devil’s Head Resort, Merrimac, WI
2013: Third Year /// Chestnut Mountain Resort, Galena, IL
Candids can’t be created. They can’t be faked. And the moment can be over before you even realize it started. Capturing those moments in my camera has become a skill… my ears perk up like a puppy when I hear a crowd of people laughing louder than everyone else in the room. Sometimes I feel like I’m a cowboy drawing my camera out of its holster to catch the moment before it’s gone. Or a cat prowling around ready to pounce on its prey (my prey – in this case is a great laughing, crying, or special moment).
And while GREAT candid shots may be few and far between, when you get one, you know it – and the finished product is definitely worth all the effort. These photos are usually my clients’ favorite shots. Because in the end, after all the editorial portraits and family formals, as gorgeous as they may be, nothing re-tells the story of your wedding better than an actual moment frozen in time from that very day.
That being said, here are just a few of my favorite candid moments I’ve been lucky enough to capture over the past few years…
Those of you who know me know that I’m always up for trying anything new. A new restaurant opens up? I’m there. You want me to jump out of a plane? Ok fine. You want me to eat what? Ok, I guess I’ll take a bite. It’s just the way I operate most of the time. That’s why when Chicago Restaurant Week hit last week – I was all over it.
One of my favorite things to do is go out to dinner with friends, have a few drinks, and just chat. If we can do it at a new place – even better. Over the past week or so I tried a couple new places, so I though I’d write a little review and recap in case any of you were foodies like me ☺
Disclaimer: All photos taken with my Samsung Galaxy SIII; I also am not a food critique, just saying what I like 🙂
LITTLE GOAT | 820 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Top Chef’s Stephanie Izard second Chicago restaurant, just down the street from her first success, Girl and the Goat. I met an old friend at this trendy diner style restaurant at 8:45pm on a Saturday night. I put my name and phone number in at the desk, and they said they would text me when our table was ready. Props for texting instead of using dated buzzers reminiscent of Buffalo Wild Wings. After about a 45 minute wait, we were finally seated at a two-person booth. It was cozy, modern, and upscale – all while maintaining a “diner” feel. The menu was full of unique dishes including a Sloppy Goat, Peanut Butter Banana Waffles, and Breakfast Spaghetti and Clams.
Here’s what we ate:
Brandade and Belly Benedict
Brandade (what our server informed us was like a salty fish with a potato like texture), pork belly, eggs, English muffin, and kimchee.
– Brandade is not for me, but my friend liked it. The pork belly, eggs, and English muffin combination was fantastic though.
Braised Beef, avocado, buttercase cheese, pickles, spicy mayo, hoagie
– I forgot I’m not a huge pickles fan, so every bite that I could really taste the pickles wasn’t my favorite. But the braised beef – so tender and juicy.
Ambiance: 5/5 – Super cute, chic dinner, not upscale but you’re also not sitting in the Golden Apple.
Service: 4/5 – Only because our server made us feel silly for not knowing what brandade was; other than that the hostesses were nice and I was a huge fan of the texting when your table was ready.
Food: 4/5 – I think I just ordered the wrong thing, but there were so many great things on the menu.
Overall: 4/5 – It was interesting and tasty. I wasn’t a huge fan of the brandade (I would have loved just the pork belly Benedict part), but the braised beef in the sandwich was delicious. Next time I go I will probably order something different. I also wish they would take reservations.
SMITH & WOLLENSKY | 318 North State Street, Chicago, IL 60654
Danny and I went on a Wednesday night after he got off work. The hosts were friendly, checked our coats, and sat us at a table near a window along the river. The lighting was uncomfortably bright, definitely not what we were expecting, and it didn’t set a romantic or upscale mood. Our waitress was less than excited to see us. We felt rushed and like she was irritated that we were doing the Restaurant Week Menu. Just a few minor things, but the table was at the awkward height where there wasn’t enough room to cross my legs under the table – so weird when that happens! Also, Danny complained of the old wooden chairs being uncomfortable and that he expected the chairs to be a little nicer and not chipped all over. Such a little detail but if we’re paying that much to eat there it should be a little nicer – just sayin’.
Here’s what we ate:
with spicy tomato sauce and basil remoulade
– Good, nothing spectacular. Have definitely had better.
with romaine, teardrop tomatoes, potato croutons, bacon lardons, and mushrooms with house vinaigrette
– WAY too much dressing, which wouldn’t have bothered me if I liked the flavor of the dressing… but neither of us did.
– FANTASTIC. Close to, if not better than, my favorite version at Ditka’s. Better than McCormick and Schmick’s in my opinion.
10 oz. Filet Mignon
with foie gras mushroom ragout
– Pretty good! Ruth’s Chris is still my favorite, but I’d say it was comparable to Gibson’s.
– I don’t even like coconut cake and this was delicious.
– Sub-par; can’t even believe they would offer this as a restaurant week desert.
Ambiance: 3/5 – Expected it to be much nicer inside, at the very least a little more dim. Maybe it’s nicer in the summer time where they can open the doors to the river, but we were not impressed.
Service: 3/5 – Our server was not the nicest. She even said a random “Congratulations!” to us when we left. The 3 points are for the hosts and managers who were extremely friendly and checked on our table throughout the meal.
Food: 3/5 – Typical steakhouse food – not the best I’ve ever had, especially for the price, but pretty decent.
Overall: 3/5 – Probably won’t go back. The food was pretty good, but with the lack-luster ambiance and the fact that Chicago has SO MANY other better steakhouses, I won’t be rushing back here anytime soon.
MERCAT A LA PLANXA | 638 S Michigan Ave Chicago, IL 60605
I came here with the girls on a Thursday night. We showed up for our 7:00pm reservations at 6:15 and they sat us at our table immediately. Our server was so sweet, happily telling us about Restaurant Week and offering us a few different wines. She even took a picture of us girls ☺ Loved the inside, high ceilings, colorful décor, very lively.
Here’s what we ate:
Serrano Ham & Fig Salad
Baby Spinach, Serrano, La Peral, Bacon and Spiced Almonds with Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette
– SO GOOD. If we would have had to choose items on the menu rather than just getting a tasting of all of them, I probably would have skipped this one. But I’m so glad that wasn’t the case because it was GREAT.
Datiles Con Almendras
Bacon-Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Marcona Almonds
– YUM! Not a huge fan of dates but I’d eat these again (probably wouldn’t order them myself though)
Cepes y Butifarra
Catalan Sausage & Mushroom Flatbread, Tomato-Basil Sauce, Roasted Garlic & Manchego
– Again, SO GOOD. I love mushrooms though.
Bruschetta Type Bread?
They also gave us this “bruschetta” type bread that wasn’t on the menu but was really good, too.
Gambas al Ajillo
Garlic Shrimp with Guindillas and Toasted Baugette
– Yep, this was great, too.
Cordero a la Planxa
Colorado Lamb Chop with Romesco & Pickled Guindilla Aioli
– AMAZING. One of the girls doesn’t even like lamb and she LOVED this.
Prawn a la Planxa
Head on Prawn Cooked a la Planxa with Lemon, Garlic & Parsley
– Probably my favorite course, if not the lamb. These were so, so good.
Spicey Potatoes with Smoked Paprika Aioli
– These weren’t bad, but compared to everything else they were just okay. Kind of just like a tater tot with a sauce I wasn’t crazy about on them. Although I forgot to take a picture of these before we dug in…
Croquetas de Xocolata
Milk Chocolate Croquettes with Banana Marshmallow, Rosemary Caramel & Arbequina Olive Oil
– AGAIN… SOOO good. We each got two. Probably could have eaten four each since they were bite sized.
Ambiance: 5/5 – Really cute, lively, fit the mood for a girls’ night out, food matched the décor.
Service: 5/5 – Our server was really sweet.
Food: 5/5 – I LOVE tapas places. You get to try a few bites of so many things – and luckily nearly everything they gave us was DELICIOUS.
Overall: 5/5 – LOVED it. Would definitely go back with a group for a fun night out ☺
UNTITLED | 111 W Kinzie St Chicago, IL 60654
Us girls had so much fun during our girls’ night, that we scheduled another night for us to all go on a triple date with our guys to a different restaurant. Unfortunately, my other half came down with the flu and he couldn’t make it – making me the 5th wheel, and poor Danny had to miss out on some really great food I know he would have loved. I’m definitely taking him back here. The place is modeled after a speak-easy, so it’s dark, dramatic, and mysterious.
I made reservations on OpenTable, like I did for every other restaurant, but when we got there, the host rudely told me that someone had cancelled my reservation at 3:00pm (which I was during my photo shoot so that’s not possible). He literally told me the reservation was cancelled and then continued about his business. It wasn’t until we asked again if he could find us a table, that he paid any attention to us. Luckily, he sat us in a private room, but we had to leave by a certain time – which was sort of frustrating. Nevertheless, we had a great time.
Here’s what we ate:
Charcuterie (Chef’s Selection)
Cheese (Chef’s Selection)
Little Gem Caesar
Smoked chicken, gordal olives, brioche crostini
– Nobody really like this. The chicken tasted like sardines.
Spinach-artichoke fondue, bacon bread crumbs
Slagel Farms Meatballs
Stewed peppers, black garlic gremolata
– Not my favorite things we got, but still good.
Short Rib & Scallop
Kabocha squash puree, herb bread pudding
– These might have been my FAVORITE of the night.
– Good, a nice side item to everything else. Wasn’t crazy about them though.
Pan Seared Gulf Shrimp
Parmesan grits, bacon molasses, corn nuts.
– Really good.
Slagel Farms Chicken
Bourbon-soy glaze, braised Tuscan kale
– Good, but at this point I was so full that I couldn’t eat much of it. Also, the glaze was a little sweet for me, but the chicken was tender and juicy.
Maple bourbon butter, with or w/out bacon
– Really good side, I’m typically not a huge corn bread fan either.
With fudge, cashew butter, crispy milk chocolate
– Again, really fricking good. The combination of the mouse with the cashews was the best part.
– Pretty good, not something I’d order again but if you like fried pickles you’ll probably like these.
Pork Belly Confit
– Mixed reviews on this one at the table. It was really rich, fatty, and tasty… but we immediately Google’d how many grams of fat it had and about dropped our jaws along with our forks.
Service: 4/5 – only because the rude host. Our server was fantastic though and suggested great drinks.
Overall: 5/5 – LOVE. Going back with Danny ASAP.
So glad I got to experience all these great places and share my stories with all of you. I will say though, I’m craving some home-made, healthy food after dining out this much. And my wallet could use a break, too. Salads and veggies here I come ☺
There are always those couples that you admire. Those that you aspire to model your relationship after. Those couples that don’t lose themselves in each other, but enhance each other’s strengths and bring out the qualities that no one but their other half ever knew were there.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing Sammie + Dom since we were 14 years old. I’ve seen their relationship grow into one that I adore, one that I cherish being around, and one that I CANNOT WAIT to see get married this coming October. Sammie has been one of my very best friends for over a decade now, and it makes me so incredibly happy that she has found her perfect match in Dom.
I knew we were going to have a great time on this shoot – but I never could have expected that I was going to literally have tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. We started along the windy shore of North Avenue Beach and then headed over the River North area. Despite the cold weather, infamous Chicago winds, and numb toes from walking ankle-deep in snow, Sammie + Dom’s love shined through it all.
My business is taking many huge steps this year. But what is one of the things I’m most excited about? Offering wedding albums. Clients can now opt to purchase top of the line, gorgeous, high-quality leather and linen albums – professional bound by KISS.
Leather albums feature luscious, full-grain leather covers and a hard substrate between pages. Leather books are weighty and resistant to damage – meaning your wedding memories will last forever.
Photo Credit: KISS Albums
I’m also excited to be offering a more economical album with the same great design and lay-flat pages as the leather option – Linen albums. This, more wallet-friendly option, has a cleanable, silicone-protected linen cover without a substrate between pages. Linen albums are thinner and lighter but still provoke the same emotions as the leather option.
My standard 10×10 album will feature 30 custom designed spreads including one round of client edits. Of course there’s always more options for those that are interested – size upgrades (12×8, 8×12, & 12×12), duplicate albums, additional page spreads, and custom colors.
Printed on the finest Fuji Crystal Archival paper, the pages lay beautifully flat. Using a unique micro-fold developed specifically by KISS, your wedding photos won’t lose any color in the crease and will preserve the full impact of your design without a distracting fold.
The quality doesn’t stop with the album. Each leather and linen album comes with its own stylish, cloth dust cover bag that will make storing your album easy, sleek, and will help maintain its integrity over the years.
Still not convinced? All albums are warranted for LIFE. Yep, you want one don’t you?
Special thanks to Kevin Swan and Shaun Gordon of KISS for being AMAZING at what they do – which helps me be even better at what I do.