This & That

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetThanksgiving is here!!!

Well not actually here, but we leave this afternoon to start our trek to Kentucky, so it might as well be. We are swinging through Charlottesville to visit my brother and then heading on to that blessed state shaped like a chicken leg. James has actually never spent a Thanksgiving in Kentucky, as the last time it was our turn to go there in our holiday rotation (that we follow RELIGIOUSLY because order is what separates us from the beasts), we stayed in DC to be able to make it up to New York for a wedding. That was the year of the infamous black sludge spewing forth from the sink… good times.

In case you are also headed out for some quality vacation time, here is some this and that to entertain you whilst you revel in pie-induced coma.

It was all fun and games until the gluten-free craze started tyrannizing the world of art.

If you are on Instagram and you aren’t following @pumpkintheraccoon, you’re doing it wrong. I have maybe spent all week trying to convince James to get me a domesticated raccoon for Christmas, and he keeps responding with stats about rabies.

If you have ever been bored to tears reading a book to a baby or toddler, you need this children’s book. Admittedly, I am biased, as my talented sister-in-law is the creator and my nephew is in the promo video, but I know this book will be quality because I have had the opening line stuck in my head all week long, rolling around in my brain in poetic perfection every time I get bundled up to go outside. Do yourself a favor, invest $15 in the Kickstarter and get a book in return to brighten your bookshelf. Go ahead and watch the movie below and just TRY resisting the promise of a fat hedgehog in pajamas.

Hip-hop founding fathers? Yes please.

I am intrigued by this kale stuffing. Usually, I would be skeptical. But I pretty much trust whatever Deb does.

On the same note, if Phyllis tells me to use olive oil instead of butter in my cookies, I may just have to do it.

This might just be the year that I cave and finally get the booties that I eye every year.

Every post on this website is beautiful, but the other day I spiraled down the archives and especially loved this one and this one.

On a more serious note, my heart has twisted over and over as I scan Facebook lately, because everyone has an opinion, delivered from their own comfortable and one-sided living room soapbox, about how to “solve” the refugee crisis, as if we can wave a magic wand and miraculously fix a terror that has driven millions of people from their homes and scattered them across the globe. I am disheartened by people acting out in — totally understandable — fear, but I am equally saddened by people belittling that same fear. The same people who weeks ago posted messages of hope like “love drives out fear” or “love will beat hate” ridicule the fears around them, somehow thinking that will help. I do not pretend to understand all the intricacies of politics and foreign policy. But I do know that we have to start with what we know. And what I know – as an American and as a Christian – is that to whom much is given, much is required. Those who live in safety and plenty are called, are commanded,  to care for those who come from danger and scarcity.

Let’s remember that this week, as we sit around full tables and cozy homes and count our many blessings.



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Of vessels and races and getting fat.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetOn Saturday I ran a half marathon.

This is not, in the grand scheme of things, the most impressive accomplishment. I did not run it fast, I did not run it well, I did not — for miles 6-11.5 — even run it happily. It is not my first half marathon, as I did 2 during college and have run multiple 6 or 10 mile races. But I ran it, every last miserable step, and that feels like a victory.

This would have been slightly less of a victory if I ran this race several years ago. The year that I was engaged, I ran almost every day, including a 10 mile race, got super healthy, and dropped to the lowest weight I have been since high school. I radiated a smugly healthy glow and demurely shrugged when people commented on my trim physique. This is pretty standard for brides, as you grow obsessed with being an absolute perfect version of your normal self. And it is not an entirely bad thing, as anything that motivates you to invest in your health is good. But it is, or at least, often is, an unsustainable thing. Once those wedding bells stop ringing, you enter newlywed life in all its domesticated, delicious, showing-off-your-cooking-skills bliss. You eschew the practicality of balanced meals for cozy cookies on the couch, passing over vegetables for pot-pie (or, regular pie) and sensible soup for starry eyed walks to munch on burgers and shakes. You revel in the unconditional love that someone has for you and grow so confident in your body image… that you start totally neglecting its care and keeping.

And then one day, a couple years into marriage, you wake up and realize that your pants don’t fit, that those love handles are heavy on both the love and the handle, that you can barely run three miles without walking, and that you feel terrible. You step on the scale and think surely this must be broken, because those numbers, those big numbers that you have never seen before just can’t be real. And you cry, hurl yourself on the bed, and declare that you are fat and ugly and totally worthless.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetObviously, that’s a tad extreme. But it’s how I think many people feel after a couple years of neglecting their health. It’s how many women secretly feel a couple years into marriage. Or at least it’s how I felt as we rolled into the holidays last fall and I realized that I had gained close to 30 pounds since getting married. I don’t want to even type that because FOR SHAME, but it’s true, and I’m leaving it there in case you feel the same and want some solidarity. It’s not even really about the weight, but about how I felt like an uncomfortable foreigner in my own body.

And so, I set out to make 2015 different. We did the Whole30, first hard core, and then as a general rule to live by, and I did lose a lot of weight. I bowed to the wisdom of my Fitbit, sometimes doing laps around our block or apartment late at night until I earned my rest.  I started running again, hardcore. I found a friend to run with me on the weekends and we worked up slowly through the miles, dragging ourselves out of bed at sunrise on Saturday or Sunday mornings, trudging our weary feet down the mall.

Through it all, I thought a lot about my body, our bodies, these earth shells that house our souls. I think it is tempting to think that they don’t matter, that it is all about finding “inner beauty” and thinking positively. That is true, but it isn’t all true. Because our souls, these  beautiful immortal things, are housed in earthly tents. They are tied to them, impacted by them, and equipped by these terrestrial vessels to do good and noble things. If the body is out of control, the soul is often hindered.  Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetYet I also spent this year trying to work on how I think about my body. This isn’t easy for me, because I can never remember a time when I wasn’t concerned with my weight, my skin, etc. I have never effortlessly inhabited my body. I wrote here about beauty, and I have tried to carry a balance throughout the year of treating my body better, but also thinking about it differently.

It is a vessel. For a soul, for a spirit, for a personality, for all sorts of intangible things that make me who I am. But it is still a vessel, an important and valuable vessel that lets me be those things to the world. Both matter.

And so, finishing this year with this race felt like a victory. A victory in the sense that it marked a year of healthy choices, but also a victory because it was hard. The course was awful (all hills, poorly marked, never enough bathrooms, and actually .5 miles LONGER than a half marathon should be- not cool), and I did not really like running it. But as I limp jogged through the last mile, I was reminded that this body, this often maligned and under-appreciated body, was strong, and capable of being a worthy vessel.  I am proud of it, even if the stomach will never be flat and the thighs will always touch at the top. I feel comfortable in it, content in its strength and its ability to carry me through life and let me be me.

This week, as I eat way too much good food and sit lazily around with my family, I want to remember that. Vessels are for eating, for skipping workouts to laugh with family. For long naps and cozy cuddles. But they are also for running, for healthy living, for restraint and good choices. Here’s to a life of balancing both.Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset


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Anna, Will, & Mollie.

If you feel like photoshoots have taken over this blog lately…. it’s because they have. I fluctuate between scrambling to meet deadlines at work (read: going through all sorts of exciting charts about urban migration in 19th century France because YAY) and scrambling to get photos back to people in time for those all important Christmas cards. The latter is far more enjoyable as it a) allows me to binge watch TV while editing and b) lets me look at the faces of my friends’ growing families. Like, remember this newborn baby? Who is now almost 2, soon to be a big sister, and basically ready for college? How did THAT happen? But enough of that — here are some fun shots from my quick afternoon with Mollie and her parents.  Untitled-1 Dunhams2015-21 Dunhams2015-24 Dunhams2015-29 Dunhams2015-40 Dunhams2015-41 Dunhams2015-48 Dunhams2015-55 Dunhams2015-59 Dunhams2015-62

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Tara & Marshall

I love when a couple decides to do a second shoot. Photographing Jackie and David right after their wedding was a fun way to haul back out that wedding finery, and Tara and Marshall had a great time taking photos in the city where they met and fell in love, since they got married back in Tara’s hometown last spring. Whatever the reason, it makes me want to dig my own carefully cleaned dress back out of my closet for another go! TaraandMarshall-4 TaraandMarshall-14 Untitled-1 TaraandMarshall-19 TaraandMarshall-28 TaraandMarshall-46 TaraandMarshall-58 TaraandMarshall-68 Untitled-2 TaraandMarshall-82 TaraandMarshall-92 Untitled-3

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Full weekends.

Fall2015-100 Fall2015-101 Fall2015-102 Fall2015-103 Fall2015-104 donuts Fall2015-106 Fall2015-108 Fall2015-109Last weekend was full.

Ruth and I hit another SoulCycle class Saturday morning, and as it was to celebrate the opening of the new 14th St. studio, there were fresh Ted’s Bulletin poptarts and cupcakes awaiting us post workout. The only thing I love better than a good workout, is completely undoing it with tasty baked goods.  I would like to say that I was better at SoulCycle, this being my second time and all. But that would be a lie. It was a delightfully painful 45 minutes of me flopping around on my bike and struggling with my tiny weights while a the instructor yelled inspirational things like “lean into it with your courage” and kept writing “14TH STREET” in the steamed up windows behind him. A perfect Saturday morning.

A lot of the rest of Saturday was spent frantically working on my dissertation prospectus draft, but somewhere in there a nap was had and massive breakfast sandwiches were made. I was in my pajamas with wet hair until approximately 10 minutes before we threw open our doors for the 5th Annual Homemade Donut Making Extravaganza, and then there was a VERY INTENSE FLURRY OF ACTIVITY. If you are someone who manages to throw parties without said last minute dash, shoving piles of laundry into closets and stashing things wherever there is a place — please, don’t tell me. I like to think my weaknesses are universal.

The donut party was as it always is, which is to say that we had too many people, ate too many donuts, and made too big of a mess to clean up before bed. Basically a perfect party. We upped our class game with a great hand-lettered sign from Anna, I did the smart thing and bought caramel and chocolate sauces from Trader Joes, and I actually had the forethought to cover the topping table with paper. But not much else was different, which is how I like it.

There was a moment before the party started, as there always is, where I marched around grumbling Why do we bother throwing these things? Even something uniform like donut night involves planning, shopping, cooking, cleaning — a whole myriad of decision making and time. And then of course, in the last minute flurry to get ready I start thinking about all that we need to be doing instead, the laundry folding, paper grading, paper writing, relaxing, and I wonder if it’s worth it. Is it worth it to spend so much time doing this, when we have so many other things that need to get done?

But in the aftermath of the party, at the end of the weekend when we were munching on leftover donuts and looking back, I am reminded that it is worth it, it’s always worth it. All the other things that fill our time are good and necessary. I’m glad that I spent a big chunk of the weekend doing productive things or restful things. But I’m also glad that we enjoyed the enjoyable inconvenience of hosting people because those are the responsibilities that make life fun, that invest in the community that we love here in DC. In a world where young adults are apparently deciding that hospitality is more trouble than it’s worth

–Let’s bring out the donuts.

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Everly and her parents.

Tis the season!

Obviously not the Christmas season, as good gracious we aren’t even through Thanksgiving and I like my pumpkins and mistletoe separate and distinct, thank you very much. I sat in Starbucks today listening to Christmas music and drinking from my red cup wondering, how did we get here again so fast? (Sidenote: Though the new cups are objectively ugly and worthy of lip curls for purely aesthetic reasons, I’m pretty sure that people who are actually outraged about them are like people who actually believe Donald Trump could be a good president — nonexistant, but of great excitement to the media.)

But the holidays are a-coming, and now is the time when we have to start getting things accomplished to get ready, with Christmas cards being at the forefront. I have been blazing through family shoots recently as people start thinking about what picture will grace the fridge of their loved ones. I think that James is secretly hoping that as long as I stay busy with other people’s photos, I will forget our own and he will get out of his much-hated Christmas card ritual. Not so, husband dear.

A couple weeks ago, I did photos for Everly and her parents, which is always fun since I have been able to document my dear friend Christine’s journey through engagement, marriage, pregnancy, newborn life, and a growing child. Love looking at those smiling faces and watching one of my very first college friends from freshman year grow ever more into her roles as wife and mother!Kreinbihl2015-1 Kreinbihl2015-8 Kreinbihl2015-14 Kreinbihl2015-15 Kreinbihl2015-17 Kreinbihl2015-22 Kreinbihlparents Kreinbihl2015-36 Kreinbihl2015-43 Kreinbihl2015-44 Kreinbihl2015-49 Kreinbihl2015-52 Kreinbihl2015-70 Kreinbihl2015-92 Kreinbihl2015-96 Kreinbihl2015-100PS: I posted a while back on Christine’s blog about picking clothes for a family shoot. Check it out if you are getting ready for yours! Christine also shared outfit details (and some more pics!) from this shoot here.

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Go west, young women.

Portland-2 Portland-3 Portland-7 Portland-10 Portland-12Portland-14Portland-16Portland-17Portland-22Portland-23Portland-27Portland-29Portland-32Portland-36Portland-38Portland-40Portland-42Portland-46Portland-47Portland-48Portland-49Portland-51Portland-52Portland-53Portland-54Portland-56Portland-57Portland-58Portland-59Portland-60Portland-61Portland-62Portland-63Portland-65PortlandcollagePortland-70Portland-67Portland-69So many people gushed about Portland before I headed out there. “You’ll love it!” they said, or “It is REALLY its own sort of place,” they promised. Everyone who had been there had a distinct opinion of Portland and the Pacific Northwest, one they shared eagerly, with many recommendations, and vague cautions that it was a weird- though wonderful – place. I had notions shaped almost exclusively by the Internet’s portrayal of the Pacific Northwest of one of impossibly hip people participating in beautiful and “authentic” pursuits, dining on the finest eco-friendly food and pursuing vague careers in the industries that only exist in the most capitalistic and first world societies, despite these people openly professing to eschewing the materialistic culture of which they are the center. And so I packed my most Socality Barbie outfit and headed west.

And this is all pretty much what I found to be true.

But under it all was a vibe I didn’t expect, I vibe that — dare I say it? — was authentic in a strange sort of way. People were eager to boast of their pastured steak and organic cheeses, but equally ready to help us in every situation, displaying a kindness to strangers and tourists that just doesn’t exist on the East Coast. The countryside was stunningly beautiful, and I found myself taking way too many pictures of the beautiful weekend we were having because the world around us just was that worth sharing.  Yes, it was exactly like the intro musical number to Portlandia, but I found myself wanting to drink the Kool-Aid, buy a beanie, and start acting particular about my coffee.

We explored Cannon Beach the first afternoon, and the drive alone was a highlight, partially because we were somehow upgraded by our rental car company to a swank Jeep that made us feel like way more cool and outdoorsy than we are. (Obviously we blew that cover by posing with and praising our Jeep at every turn, but I just can’t even muster up any shame.) Cannon Beach might be one of the most stunning places I have ever been. We saw it on a rare day of sun, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any more beautiful, a child ran up and encouraged us to place our ears close to the mussels covering the rocks in the tidal pools.


I probably could have gone home happy after listening to the symphony in nature, but the weekend continued with more fun. I did present a paper at a conference and attend some great sessions, and I made sure to provide that really awful elevator mirror selfie as proof that it wasn’t all sightseeing and donuts. But donuts there were INDEED, as we made sure to hit two of the big places to experience Portland’s finest.

We also, at the urging of many of you, headed out to see Multnomah Falls, and it was the perfect way to end our trip. I explained to my French friend who came about the Oregon Trail (which of course makes me think of this), and the “Safety Valve” theory, that of American identity being long defined by the ability to head west and start afresh.

And maybe that magic is still a part of the Pacific Northwest. Maybe part of its charm, part of its beauty, part of its much-mocked idealism and dreamy aesthetic comes from this deeply ingrained idea that the West is there waiting for us to come build our dreams. It is a place where people have historically come because they believe that anything is possible, and when you are there… you start to believe it to.

So Portland, we loved you. See you again sometime soon.

PS: Thanks for all your recommendations! We made sure to hit as many of them as we could, with dinners at Lardo (FRIES FTW!) and Veritable Quandary, brunch at Tasty n’ Alder, and donuts at Blue Star and Voodoo. We also stumbled upon Brunch Box (I’m on a major breakfast sandwich kick… I maybe got one here, at Lardo, and at McDonalds all in one weekend…) for lunch one day and Higgins Restaurant for dinner, and they were both good with Higgins being especially perfect. And of course, POWELL’S. Where I wanted to buy everything, but used exceeding adult restraint.

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