Friday, June 16, 2017

{england: road trip tips}

That photo above was taken when we were still in the rental car parking lot.
So many pamphlets. So much jet lag. So little makeup.

Did you think I was finished writing about our England trip??

I thought I'd write a post on renting a car and driving in England, from an American's perspective. It may have been our favorite part about the whole vacation, so I couldn't recommend it more. We can't wait to do it again.

Here are my big tips:

Monday, June 12, 2017

{england: from tea to gluten free}

To wrap up our trip, I wanted to write about our tea experience and eating gluten free in England.

{england: london}

(other posts on the trip)

After the Warner Brothers tour, we finally drove back to Heathrow to drop off our rental car and then hopped on the train to London. We were there for most of the trip (Monday night through Saturday morning) and couldn't wait to spend time in the city again.

We stayed in two different neighborhoods—Notting Hill and South Kensington—and both of our Airbnbs were great. We also spent the night at the ritzy Milestone Hotel in the middle of the week (since we decided last minute not to go to Paris) and it was fun to pamper ourselves for a night. I should note here that all of our flights, the hotel, and the rental car were paid for by credit card points. Take advantage of that if you can!

We planned our time in London really well. We knew our only completely sunny and warm(er) day would be on Tuesday—our first full day in the city—so we decided to start far out and make our way in. After some breakfast at our flat (first photo below), we took the tube to the Tower of London and walked from there. We ended up walking 13 miles that day! I'm so glad we took advantage of the weather and spent most of the day outside. The city was so beautiful that day.

Throughout the week we didn't have set plans and instead just did anything that caught our eye. London has so many amazing (free) museums, so on the chillier/overcast days we took full advantage of them; we visited eight! My favorites were the Imperial War Museum and the National Gallery. We skipped all tours except Kensington Palace, since we both had never done it before, and it was definitely worth it. The current exhibition is about Princess Diana's fashion, so it was a great time to visit.

Very last minute we also attended the D&AD Awards on behalf of my agency. I hadn't brought anything fancy to wear (we packed in carry-ons), but thankfully Zara and Top Shop saved the day. The ceremony was very cool to be a part of and the entire experience was especially rewarding.

I love this city. Public transportation is easy to navigate, the people are nice, the architecture is beautiful, and the history is abundant.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

{england: oxford and harry potter}

Click here for other England posts.


If you know me, you know that I love Harry Potter. I still stand by the fact that I'm a low-key fan, but this post kind of makes me question that.

By the time we got to Oxford we were starving, so we quickly found a gf pizza place before we checked into our Airbnb. Our flat was super cute (first picture below) but probably my least favorite throughout the trip for various reasons.

Oxford University is enormous; it's made up of thirty-eight different colleges! We knew we wouldn't be able to see the entire thing, so we just focused on the exploring the town and one of the schools.

Since it was a Sunday evening, we decided to attend Evensong at the famous Christ Church Cathedral. It was an hour of prayer, silent reflection, and beautiful music by the a cappella choir. We both loved the service—it made us miss singing!

The next morning we did an early tour of Christ Church College. The buildings were beautiful and inspired some of the sets in Harry Potter—most notably, the dining hall. Can you imagine eating there twice a day?! The opulence and history was incredible.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

{england: rapeseed and blenheim palace}

Since we knew the rapeseed fields would be fewer and farther between the closer to London we got, we pulled over to take some final pictures. But this time we were a little less exhausted from travel and had a little more make-up on ;) I love the ones of Dylan. I feel like they could be a Hunter boots print ad.

{ps. I don't know why this site is making all of my photos look grainy...because they really aren't! Promise.}

Click below for more photos!

Friday, June 9, 2017

{england: birbury and moreton-in-marsh}

Lacock and Castle Combe
Bourton-on-the-Water, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Lower Slaughter

Last post on the Cotswolds!


First, a little bit about our Airbnb: we stayed in a converted stone barn that was right next to a castle. It was unreal; it had a huge bedroom, beautiful bathroom, and a full kitchen and living space. No one is currently living in the estate, so it felt like it was all ours. The grounds were also really gorgeous. We can't wait to go back. (It was actually pretty comical when we arrived—the GPS led us to a big iron gate at the end of a very private neighborhood. We couldn't believe it was the place we'd reserved. It was literally like a movie, where the village is at the base of this giant castle. But instead of royalty, it was two tired American girls. Haha.)

Our dinner on the second night was my favorite of the entire trip. We ate at an award-winning restaurant called The Village Pub in Barnsley, just a short drive from Bibury. Dylan had the tomato soup (the best) with warm gluten-free bread, while I had the roasted chicken with fresh vegetables. It was so so good—from the atmosphere to the food. Cozy, quiet, and warm.

As a wrap-up to our time in the Cotswolds, I'll just say that we can't wait to return. It's only a ninety-minute drive from Heathrow, so it couldn't be more convenient. The roads were fairly easy to drive on (some spots were narrow), the views were beautiful to admire, and you can see a lot in a short amount of time. We didn't even spend 48 hours there and yet we spent time in eight or so towns! We're also glad we started our trip in the country, instead of end it there, since it was nice to begin the week on a slower pace.

Click below for more photos!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

{england: more of the cotswolds}

Continuing the recap of our time in the Cotswolds today...


We only stopped here for a short time, but it was so beautiful! It was by far the busiest town we visited; I think since the weather was so nice, people took full advantage and spread out on the grass along the river. 

PS. I've heard that the bakery photographed below is a spot that shouldn't be missed—we skipped it, since it wasn't celiac-friendly, but if you ever visit, you should stop by.

Click below for more photos!

Monday, June 5, 2017

{england: lacock and castle combe}

day one: salisbury

After sleeping for nearly twelve hours, we woke up bright-eyed and ready to explore the Cotswolds. The drive over the next two days was absolutely beautiful; we wound our way through the most incredibly scenic towns and countryside. Though the weather started off a little overcast, it luckily turned sunnier as the day went on.

The first part of Saturday was spent driving through Lacock, Castle Combe, and stopping at one of the many fields of yellow rapeseed flowers. (We didn't know at the time that we'd see countless more!)


We arrived here pretty early, so most of the shops were closed. We ended up just walking around for a bit and found the sweetest, tucked-away chocolate shop. As you'll see, we couldn't resist buying some British milk chocolate :)

Click below for more photos!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

{england: salisbury}

I know it's been awhile, but I thought a good reason to come back was to blog about a recent trip to England. This was actually the first duo trip that my twin sister and I have gone on together, and it couldn't have been more perfect. It was a little over a month ago, and yet I still think about it almost every day.

I'll split this up into a few posts, since I took so many images. First up: Salisbury. After flying into London, we headed to pick up our rental car and made the drive out into the country. (I should note here that driving on the other side of the road and car is not as scary as it seems!)

We were exhausted from the flight and kept ourselves busy to stay awake, so we headed into town to visit Salisbury Cathedral, walk around the main square, and get a late lunch. We also picked up some groceries (we ate breakfast at our Airbnbs every day) and were pleasantly surprised at the amount of gluten-free options!

Funny story: when we were about a mile from our cottage, we got stuck in some pretty bad traffic. We didn't know what could possibly be causing the back-up on a Friday afternoon in the country...until we looked out the window and saw Stonehenge! So wild.

We both fell asleep around 9pm and slept until 8am the next day. This was actually so clutch—we both immediately switched to England time and didn't deal with jetlag at all during the entire trip.

Okay, here are photos from the first day:

Click below for more photos!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

{what's in my camera bag}

A lot of friends have asked me for photo advice—what I edit with, what lenses I own, etc.—so I've finally written a long post on all my tips!

I should start by saying I am by no means a professional. I took a few photography courses here and there, but I am primarily self-taught. I learn through practice. That's my biggest tip: practice!


Overall, I believe in investing in lenses, not the actual camera body itself. Not to say the camera isn't important, but if you stick with the same brand, your lenses will work on (almost) any model you upgrade to. Lenses are with you for the long haul.

I'm loyal to Canon, so all of my recommendations are that brand, but I've heard wonderful things about Nikon and Sony. (And Fuji!)


I use this backpack when I travel or hike. It can fit my camera, lenses, cords, external flash and battery. There's plenty of protective padding and—even when it's full—still feels really light and comfortable.

If I want to pack my camera or a lens in my purse, I use these protective coverings. They come in a few different sizes.


I used a Rebel XT for two years, then moved on to the Rebel T4i for about four years. Both of those were great to start with and were exactly what I needed them for. (The T4i takes great video too.) I used them mainly for portraits and they took really beautiful photos. Most of the photos on this blog were taken with either of those.

The reason why I have moved on from the T4i is because I wanted a full frame camera. There are two kinds: crop sensor and full frame. Crop sensor cameras have a tighter frame on the subject. They, essentially, "crop" the photo and increase the focal length. Full frame cameras have a wider frame, so more of the subject is seen. Full frame cameras are more expensive, so I waited to make the investment until I was gaining more clients. I just upgraded to a full frame—a Canon 6D—in the past year and I'm loving it so far.

With that said, I'd still recommend starting out with a crop sensor camera. As you'll see from the photos in the post—most of which were taken on my T4i—a crop sensor camera still takes the photos you want it to take.


Like I mentioned above, smartly invest in lenses. I've had the same ones for years and they all work as well as they did the day I got them. Here's what I have:

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II
If you want an affordable, starter portrait lens, this is the one I'd suggest. It's a fixed lens, which means there is no zoom—you are the zoom. Here are some photos I've taken with it:

Canon 50mm f/1.4
This, another fixed lens, is a step above the 50mm/1.8 since it has a larger aperture and therefore a smaller depth of field. The focus is sharper and faster, and the bokeh is much more smooth. This is my favorite lens to shoot portraits.

Canon EF 35mm f/2
Before I invested in a full-frame camera, I wanted a wider lens that showed more of the subject than the 50mm lenses. This 35mm ended up being the perfect option. Aside from portraits, I've taken many beautiful landscape images with this one.

Canon 18-135mm STM
This is my widest lens and came with my T4i when I bought it. It's great for larger family photos and landscapes. STM = Stepper Motor. When shooting video with this lens, you can keep the autofocus on rather than manual, and the focusing noise will remain fairly silent. (Typically if you shoot video in autofocus, the focus noise is pretty loud and can ruin video.) Unfortunately this doesn't fit on my new camera, so I'm now on the hunt for a new wide lens!


I almost exclusively edit in Aperture, which is a Mac-only program that is (sadly) no longer available to buy. I also use it to house and organize my photo library. Apple's program "Photos" is so inconvenient when it comes to editing options, so I highly recommend not using it. (Same goes for iPhoto, for those who still have that). I very rarely use Photoshop.

I also edit with Nevercenter's CameraBag - they are now on their third version and each has gotten better and better. It's great for quick edits.

Continuing to use Aperture doesn't seem like the best idea, especially since it's not sold anymore. I'll soon be upgrading my personal laptop and when I do, I'm going to start fresh with a new organizing system. I'm hoping to use Adobe Bridge to house my photos and will probably edit in Lightroom.


I have the Canon Speedlite 430EX for my external flash, though I hardly every use it. I prefer natural light. I also use this reflector when shooting indoor portraits, to help soften the harsh flash.

And finally, I use this background if I need to shoot products or newborns. I've only used it once, (and am still getting the hang of properly setting it up), but I'm glad I have it just in case. One side is white and the other side is black.


So there you have it. Anything I didn't cover? Anyone have additional questions? Comment and I'll answer them! And here's my photography website, if you want to see other work I've done.

Friday, January 13, 2017

{hello 2017}

These photos make me want to take a deep breath. Don't you get the same feeling?

We went back to Big Sky, MT for Christmas this year and I couldn't wait to snap photos of the forest again. We didn't get as much snow as we did last year, but the amount we did get was plenty beautiful. These photos were from a hike to Ousel Falls - I'm dying to go back in the summer or fall. I'm sure the colors are gorgeous!

These are all from my phone. I did that thing again where I lugged my camera along with me on the trip and didn't take it out once. But I'm determined to take more pictures this year. It's one of my resolutions.

And speaking of....happy 2017!

I was eager to get back to San Francisco and jump into my work routine and start another resolution - running. But then sickness and nonstop rain put a stop to those plans the day after I got back, so I was pretty lame the entire first week of the year. All is well (and drier) now, so I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things this weekend.

I still owe a few posts - one of which being a photography and camera overview. I've been writing it over the past few months, so I'll finish it up soon. In the meantime, does anyone have any running tips for beginners? (Never mind the fact that I ran both cross country and track in highschool...) Please send them my way!

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

{beachy design inspiration}

Over the holiday, I was able to visit my mom and stepdad's new-to-them beach house on Long Beach Island, NJ. It's modern, but still comfortable and cozy—the most important thing about a beach house, in my opinion. My mom has a lot more ideas up her sleeve about how to finish decorating it, but there were a few vignettes that looked too great not to photograph. She has such an eye for design; I always go to her for style advice. You'll see why below.

Here's what I learned from this house:
—Wallpaper is still impactful, even on just one wall.
—Beds can make statements.
—Pillow arrangements matter!
—Less is more.