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Florida

There was an expanse of reasons why it was impractical, uneconomical and totally unorganized to fly down to Florida and meet Billy while he was travelling for work…but then yesterday happens. And all the small worries, the day to day inconveniences get thrown straight back into perspective. My heart goes out to all those affected by Boston, it’s truly horrific. There are literally no words – I am just sick to my stomach.

But for right now, there’s nowhere else in this world I would rather be – hug your loved one a little tighter tonight and don’t take any day for granted x

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Fluffy Company

4.15am this morning came the ever-so-familiar call from the taxi waiting outside. One last big hug and he walks out the door with his huge tennis bags thrown over his shoulder. And who jumps up onto the bed, flips over onto her back so her four huge paws fall over my body :) Kaya knows this routine by now and doesn’t need to be told to come keep me company anymore. It might sound silly but I’m not sure what I would do on these long weeks the hubs travels, she’s my big loving ball of fur :)

And this last week we had two of these loving fur balls to keep us company! Billy and I had Kaya’s best friend Maddie to stay while his parents soaked in the Florida sunshine. Literally – they are best friends. I just need to mention her name and Kaya’s ears perk up…pulling round to his parent’s house and she starts squealing! We might have had a call from the police on her last night here. They had complaints from the neighbors that a dog that was barking non-stop…..oops! Mad’s was just warning the squirrels to stay away :) But look at those big brown eyes…how could you ever get mad at that?!

So this week it’s me and my pup and I’m thinking this spring weather calls for our beach days to come back! Plus i’m missing Mad’s so if anyone wants a puppy play date, Kaya and me are in :)

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Home : London

I find myself talking about ‘home’ in different contexts. Whenever I am in Chicago that is my home, where my husband is, my puppy, my career. Then as soon as I touch ground in England every part of that is home. From the green fields with sheep grazing, the cobbled streets and pedestrianized towns, sensible motorway driving and of course my family and friends :)  Initially I had this idea that you had to have one home  – so I was supposed to swap it from London to Chicago. But how silly is that?! Anyone who has moved continents – or even states or towns – will realise that you can have two homes. Two places that hold your heart.

Here is one of my places and a little glimpse into my short but ever so sweet trip home…

A day out in London with my sister Becca :) – I love my beautiful niece Bella to bits! But we hadn’t spent a whole day with just us two sisters in over 3 years so this was beyond special. We roamed around the city untill we got to Skylon Bar where she treated me to an amazing wine-filled lunch :)

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We then decided to be cultural and go somewhere we could only go by ourselves. The Light Show  at the Hayward Gallery was like no other art show I’ve been to!! There were some pieces that were seriously mesmerizing, others that left you completely confused, some were simply beautiful and a couple that we found ourselves giggling at :) (yes we were the two girls in the corner laughing at the lightbulb hanging from the ceiling!)

2013-03-23_008And you just can’t leave a trip to England without a takeout Indian!!!
2013-03-23_009Even though my trip was short notice, I was able to spend almost my entire weekend with some of the most special girls :) Meet Poppy – the new addition to Nic’s household … soooo cute!!!2013-03-23_0372013-03-23_0212013-03-23_0362013-03-23_038

Here is (some of) my crazy family :) … (our waiter did a good job right?!)

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How I was lucky enough to have Sunday lunch with the entire U of I group I’m not sure, but it was amazing :)

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Days spent driving around the village my mum grew up in, getting lunch with my Mum and sister…
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There are so many people not pictured who went out of their way to see me! Perfect dinners, amazing pub lunches. It’s so exciting to see all the changes in my friends from promotions to buying their first houses :) I can’t wait to go home the next time, see the people I missed and catch up with everyone else :) Love you all!! xx

Palm Springs

While I had the time of my life in Santa Barbara for United 2013, it was a complete whirlwind of learning, meeting, parties, socializing that I think left all of us in NEED of an extra vacation. Some time to just breath and take in everything that we had learnt. It just so happened that one of my goals for 2013 was to make the effort and go and see Billy more when he travels for work…so when he ended up being able to make it out to Palm Springs early, it seemed that life had dealt us a good set of cards :)

Taking my treacherous driving through the mountains out of the equation – we had the most amazing 4 days! We managed to hike up a mountain (harder that it looks by the way!). With a couple of wrong turns that left us literally climbing and holding onto rocks, we got to the top together. We spent an evening strolling downtown – and made sure we watched the blackhawks WIN! No less than twice in 1 day did we set the alarm off when we got back to the house, which resulted in the police shouting to “make your presence known!”…oops. I’ve decided that when we grown up and buy our first home – a hottub will be a necessity ;) Then, when Tim arrived I got a cooking (and drinking…) partner! Cooking dinner on the bbq was amazing but all diving into the pool at midnight – so much fun!

This just makes me so excited for summer, the wedding season, wearing shorts, taking the pup to the beach, sleeping with the windows open and cooking outside :)

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For my amazing 2013 brides – this book is awesome! It’s not the psycho-analytic nonsense your thinking…once I get it back from being leant I’ll write a post about it! 2013-03-07_0012013-03-07_0132013-03-07_0142013-03-07_0062013-03-07_0092013-03-07_0242013-03-07_012 2013-03-07_0252013-03-07_011 2013-03-07_0262013-03-07_0102013-03-07_0082013-03-07_0052013-03-07_0232013-03-07_0172013-03-07_0182013-03-07_0192013-03-07_0152013-03-07_0072013-03-07_0212013-03-07_0222013-03-07_0202013-03-07_004

United 2013

Going to grab a coffee with Lauren last month, I had no idea it would literally change my little world. She casually asks me if I’m going to United this year. I shrugged off the question and said no – I figured one major conference was enough for the year. I can’t thank Lauren enough for not letting it drop, finding me a (side of a) bed in her room and whisking me to Santa Barbara for what was definitely an unbelievable week :)

I suppose I thought there are some awesome speakers so I would probably learn a few business tricks, marketing ploys or photography secrets. I mean, that’s what usually happens right? But we rarely put those different ideas and opinions to use – because, well, they just don’t fit into our life. United was completely opposite. It took everything back to your roots. Instead of preaching their philosophies, each speaker made you look at your own individual business, your own life and how you could help yourself.

Above everything, we kept coming back to WHY. Why did you pursue photography and why do you still do it? Before your business even existed….I’m a profound worrier. I think it’s genetic ;) it definitely runs in our family at least! Last week made me take a step back and realise that worrying is selfish. It accomplishes nothing other than getting more and more tangled in your own selfish thoughts. If I take myself back to when I just had a camera in my hand and it made Billy and me happy to be able to do what we love, everything else gains perspective.

Here is a little glimpse into the wonderful information shared;

“You can’t help others be happy if you don’t have it yourself”

“Time is what we want most, but use the worst”

“Without vision in life we perish”

“You can’t live unless you are ready to die”

“How can you be depressed if you know there is just one person in the world who needs your gift”

The friendships made and strengthened that week were by far the best thing :) There were so soooo many to try and name… the amazing Trevor, Timothy, Chad and Keith for rescuing me at LAX :) THANK YOU! The wonderful girls of room 505, Lauren, Jackie and Jessica – LOVE YOU! The midnight games of cards against humanity with some besties, hotseat laughs, roadtriping with Evan, hand-delivered coffee from Montana, midnight stroll with Meg, lunch conversations, balcony talks at freedom house….literally the list could go on and on and on. You guys are all the best and we will all grow so much more while we are on this journey together :) So grateful for each and every one of you! xx

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Lucky Girl

I’m a lucky girl – for many reasons – but especially because of the amazing friends I have :) I might live on another continent from everyone I grew up with, and we may not necessarily talk as much as if I were to live in the same town (or even country), we may live in different time zones and lead different lives – but as soon as you see one of your best friends standing in front of you it’s like you jumped back to when you were 15 again :)

Except this time Helen was standing in front of me in the lobby of a 5* hotel in downtown Chicago on a business trip! So maybe things have changed just a little since we were kids, but no matter where this crazy world takes us and however much changes in our lives, you know the friendship will remain exactly the same.

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Pickles.

I remember that day, 17 years ago, Mum and Dad told me we were going to go for a little drive to the countryside. Well, for me an hour in the car felt like an eternity! “Are we nearly there yet???” I can just picture pulling up to that little cottage – walking in and seeing a teeny little fluff ball sitting on top of an ironing board. Dad turned to me and said, “Well, there you have it – you got what you asked for!”…. my own puppy!!! My very own little puppy :) You were perfect, and slept all the way home on my lap.

Whether it was a smart decision or not – Dad let me (the 7 year old) choose your name! He kept calling you a little pickle – so how could they say no when I decided you would be named pickles! :)

You had endless patience, letting me paint your nails all the colours under the sun, using mums Chanel pink lipstick on you and thinking you were just one of the 15 children Mum babysat – pulling at your tail and jumping on the trampoline with them.

You had to learn everything the hard way – like running into the glass conservatory door at full pelt, or getting locked in the shed and not being able to find you for hours!!

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It never got old, every year when April fools day came around, telling Dad you had escaped and watching him run around town shouting “Pickles!!!!” at the top of his lungs :) One would think he was a gullible man – that is, if this didn’t happen on a very regular occurrence :)

You were truly part of our family. Our camping holidays to France, Spain or some rainy place in England were not complete without our pup snuggled in the back of the car – keeping watch out the back window.

Always the butt of jokes, ridiculed for your goofy face and tendency to bark at anything and everything – but we didn’t care. As the years passed and I took off to college you became more than just my pet. When Dad got ill, you would let him pet you for hours through his endless chemo. You knew something wasn’t quite right, and Mum and I could see you sticking by his side.576612543678

When  Dad passed, you helped Mum more than we have ever acknowledged. The doctor told her to use you to help her through her depression. Mum would take you on walks for hours every day – your little legs must have been ready to drop off! With Mum’s household filtering down from 6 of us to just her – you kept her company for over 4 years.276_604798309178_729_n

You were a tough little pup, putting up with slowly going blind and deaf. Although – whenever “chewy” was called it appeared you suddenly regained your hearing! That was one thing, but Mum couldn’t watch you in pain. It wasn’t fair. So the day had come we all had to say goodbye to our little Pickles. Of course I am over here and the rest of the family are scattered all over the country but know you meant something to all of us.

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Now there is no puppy to bark us to sleep at night

To accidentally step on when cooking dinner

To greet us with a wagging tail when we step through the door at home

No ‘doggy bag’ to ask for at restaurants

No need to plan our days around you

I can’t imagine coming back home to England without you – you were just always there for so long. To this day everyone at home still asks “how’s Pickles doing?” :)LD5A2913

To some it may seem silly. But with anyone who has a lovable ball of fur, no matter how big or small they may be, you know they are so much more than a pet – and often better than most of the humans in our lives. They don’t answer back, they are never sarcastic, they forgive in under a second, never hold a grudge, always happy to see you and never jealous. The list is endless. Tonight i’m going to give my giant pup an extra big hug and appreciate all the joy she brings to us and look forward to the years of memories we will make with her – just like Pickles did.

True Friends.

I woke up to a whatsapp message last wednesday that said she was going to be flying to Dallas on a business trip and had managed to get an overnight stay in CHICAGO on Saturday!! :) I squealed (waking Billy up) and ran around the house cleaning Emily’s room ready for her less-than-24-hour stay. That being said…from picking her up at the airport at 4pm, we managed to fit in a shopping trip, dinner at cheesecake factory – and dessert of course – , antique shopping downtown, brunch at bongo room and a quick stop in Evanston to get her boyfriend some USA craft beers (World of Beer in Evanston – brand new and a beer lovers dream!) All before dropping Em at the airport by 3pm the following day! She’s one of those friends who you may not have seen properly for over a year, but feels like no time has past as soon as you run and give each other airport arrival hugs :) A true friend who downgrades her 8hour flight from business class to economy just to see you xxx2013-01-25_001

Left: Morocco 2010

Right: University Ball 2007

LD5A29102013-01-29_002LD5A29012013-01-29_001LD5A29052013-01-29_003LD5A2908Love you Em! Thank you so much for staying up till 6am your time talking to me, flying economy  and making the effort to come to Chicgao just for one night :) xxxxx

Australian Open 2013

I may not play tennis (I’m actually truly terrible) but being married to a tennis coach I think it would be fair to say I know a fair share about the sport. Over the years I have not only grown to appreciate it but now – somewhat as a necessity if I am to choose to live with my husband – love watching it! So when Athletic DNA asked me to shoot their sponsored guys during the Australian Open I was pretty happy :) Of course shooting weddings is where my heart lies but any time you can diversify you can only learn and ultimately grow! It also meant that Billy and I got to work together…in Melbourne?! I’m not sure we ever thought the athletic coach and creative photographer would ever collide on the job, but it was pretty awesome – and the location made it that much better! Billy’s player – Tim Smyczek – made it through qualifying and beat Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the main draw. Second round he faced Ferrer (4 in the world) in a stadium packed with 12,000 Australians rooting for Tim! The atmosphere was unreal, and once Tim had warmed up to it, he took Ferrer to 4 sets, walking away with an L but displaying some unreal tennis.

Here are the guys I shot for Athletic DNA:

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Daniel Kosakowski 
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Rajeev Ram

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Here is Tim Smyczek (Billy’s player) practicing before first round of qualies.

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I was too nervous to shoot Tim during his matches – safe to say I will make a terrible sports mum! But managed to grab this one shot of him looking at Billy after he won the first round of the main draw :)


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And finally here are a few snippets from our days off wandering around downtown, drinking coffee, eating chocolate and generally enjoying the scorching temperatures!

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