March 22nd

Friday, March 22nd, 2019

I parked my lawn chair in the front yard today and got myself a sun burn.

It was glorious.

50 degrees, no wind, not a cloud in the sky. Welcome, spring!

I even went a little crazy and turned off our furnace and opened some windows. Our house held steady at about 62 degrees, so it was perfect. You forget how lovely it is to have fresh air in your home.

Anyway, as I sat outside reading my book, I looked up at one point to see three deer out grazing in one field, and a flock of pheasants in another. My chickens were making their happy noises, cruising around without a care in the world, Ruby napped in the sunshine. Geese and swans flew by overhead, happily honking.

And then a text came into my phone, and tears started flowing. The most beautiful, amazing news and from that moment on my day was officially deemed perfect. Once the news is public, I’ll share it in a future post, but for now I have to keep it under wraps. I’ll let the suspense build 😉

Happy spring, everyone! I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the bountiful sunshine!

March 7th

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

This sweet girl.

Each day, I see more of a dog instead of a puppy. She’s growing up.

Her boundless energy is definitely still there, but her ability to lay down in complete focus when cued is one of those moments I can see the transformation. Her ability to focus has honed enough too that she’s starting to learn lots of fun tricks – shake, high five. We’re even working on nonverbal cues, and she’s rocking it. Soon, we’ll add in some dog agility elements and see how fast she conquers those.

Up until just a couple months ago, the only thing about her that resembled her cattle dog heritage was her coloring. Recently, her chest and neck have began to bulk up – very indicative of her ACD genes (also, check out that controlled, reserved look she’s tossing my way – that is the cool confidence and independence of the ACD). Her slim hips, petite face, and herding style still represent her Border Collie side, but it’s been fun to see her come together as she reaches full physical maturity.

She’s a pretty great gal pal.

February 2nd

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

Something exciting happened with my family yesterday – my dad retired!

Assured Security, Inc. was founded in 1989 by my dad and his business partner, and they quickly became the go-to specialists for commercial door, hardware, and security needs. Assured grew from a couple of employees working on doors and frames to an office full of guys specializing in security spanning from simple hardware needs like key cutting to complex video monitoring systems and similar technologies. Assured’s reputation for their high standards of quality and customer service brought in institutions such as banks, schools, cities, and a myriad of private businesses as loyal clients.

Thirty years later, my dad put pen to paper and closed on the sale of Assured.

Our immediate family has known for a couple of months that this deal was in the works, so we’ve had some time to wrap our minds around it. However, as a buyer was selected, an agreement eventually signed, and closing day set, I think we’ve all been feeling some intense emotions. But no one as much as my dad.

And when he asked me to photograph him as a part of my blog to document his journey, I was honored.

He was a little confused when I said I wanted to start by photographing him in my parent’s bedroom, but I was thinking about the light and the shelves full of photographs lining one of their walls. Generations of wedding photos, my and my sister’s seniors photos, baby pictures, and frames full of other memories. I thought it was fitting to have all of those memories in the background for this new stage. Like I said to him: The memories he was able to make happen because of his business and his dedication to our family and his success.

We started out with many smiles and laughs, but heavier emotions set in when I asked him to think about what life was going to mean now. What he wanted to do with his time, the people he was going to spend that time with, the freedom that comes with not making the decisions anymore. What he was going to do now that his time was truly his.


Then I asked my mom to come in and take a couple pictures, and when she asked why, I said to them because she was just as much a part of this journey.


After we did a few inside, we went outside (into the forty degree weather!) to take some pictures with his van (and Henna).


I then wanted to focus on my dad’s work shirt, as it’s just as much a part of him as his work van.

And the light was pretty, so we did a head shot too.


I’m so proud of you, and so excited for you dad! You deserve it! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you and for mom.

I love you!

January 20th

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

Back in the saddle again! 🎶 

Made myself pick up my camera today (I’ve been feeling uninspired if you can’t tell), and I’m sooo glad I did!

If I’ve learned anything through this project, it’s that inspiration can spark anywhere.

I mean anywhere.

Where there is light, one can find inspiration. After all of the practice this project has brought me, I’m at the point now where light motivates me instead of frustrates me. I used to know what I wanted to do in my head but not know how to execute it, but now it comes much easier. I definitely don’t nail it everytime, but I walk away frustrated a lot less often than I used to.

Today the issue was the fact that my subjects refused to cooperate. Paul was a big help positioning -and then repositioning, and repositioning, and repositioning – chickens until one stood still long enough to get the shot I was looking for.

Chicken breath.

I don’t know about you, but I know all creatures breath so by nature you can see their breath when it’s cold, but I never thought about it with chickens until I saw it today.

I knew I wanted to photograph our chickens today because we’ve had a lot of people ask how they’ve been doing with the cold, and I wanted to give an update, but the breath lends perfectly to the topic.

So anyway, the chickens are doing great! We did put a small radiating heater in their coop which keeps it about 20 degrees warmer than outside the coop, so that’s helped a lot overnight. We have it hooked up to a thermocube which is set to switch on at zero degrees, so it only comes on when the girls really need it.

We had read a lot about what temperatures chickens can take, and most of what we read said they’re great down to zero, and then you have to start watching them (hence our thermocube setting).

So far in our experience that’s proven to be exactly true. On days where it’s really windy and cold (below zero) they don’t come out of their coop and huddle by the heater, but on days like today, plentiful sunshine and no wind, they were out all day ranging despite the temperature hovering around zero.

It’s remarkable in my opinion. My fingers are about to fall off and they’re napping in the sun or happily clucking as they forage. No complaints from them.

Also, who knew chickens were so beautiful?


January 1st, 2019

Tuesday, January 1st, 2019

Here we are my friends. Year three.

What does that mean for me here?

Not much really. We’ll just keep chugging along and see where life takes us.

Last year, I added in the challenge of self portraits (some with pets too), and while I don’t normally enjoy being in front of the camera I actually I really loved taking self portraits.

I gave myself really loose parameters – I believe I hoped to do one once a week – and I know there were some times that I went much longer than that, but I also enjoyed that side of it too. The idea that I kept myself accountable to completing them, but I didn’t hold myself to a strict timetable. I did them as they felt right and felt necessary, which was perfect.

And having self portraits with my animals? Treasures for sure. Especially after losing Burke this spring; I used the tool of self portraits to work through grief (the day he died), but also to bring comfort and joy back to my heart when missing him (seeing his interaction with me from the camera’s viewpoint). It makes looking back a little more bearable when I’m in the image with him.

So I believe that will be another project I bring with into 2019 as well.

One thing I may add to my self portrait venture is throwing Paul into the mix. I have some great images of the two of us that I took both last year and the year before, and I treasure them. There’s a place for selfies, but I always come back to the images of us from my actual camera. So maybe trying to do one of Paul and me once a month? Paul, what say you? 🙂

I’m not making any personal goals or resolutions this year, not sticking to any particular theme of growth. Perhaps just continuing on with this project is goal enough.

I guess you’ll just have to follow along, and we’ll find out together!

November 4th

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

I’ve found the black background spot in my house.

It’s excellent; the best part is, it’s a super easy space to work in and around. Large and open.

Anyway, that’s not why you clicked on this post. I’m sure you clicked on this post to learn about next year’s calendar themes.

So, without further ado:

Oahu 2019
Fall Year Round 2019

Last year, I stuck with broad themes: Travel and Wildlife. I also had a Floral one, but only carried a limited supply. My Travel and Wildlife calendars both followed the seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), which I liked, but this year I wanted to offer calendars that gave you a vacation from the real world and whatever season we may be in (I’m looking at you, winter).

So, option number 1: Take a year-long vacation to Oahu. Hike to waterfalls, sit on the beach, view the sea turtles. Take in the moody North Shore vibes, or head down to Waikiki and soak in that sunshine. If you’re a Hawaii dreamer, each page states where the image was taken, so save it away with that vacation savings fund and visit there one day!

Option number two: Live in the vibrancy of fall for not just one month, but revel in it all year long. This is the ultimate calendar for all of my fellow fall lovers out there! I’m pretty darn excited about both calendars, but I’m especially proud of this one.

I did have some great feedback from last year’s calendars, so I took those to heart moving forward this year. The monthly layout is more clear; the grid pattern is still clean, but provides more structure for those who were frustrated with that last year. The second big change is that there are holidays listed this year! I don’t know that I need to elaborate further on that. The third is that both the previous month and future month is located on the current month’s page. A great tool for reference.

So much fun stuff happening at ABL right now! Calendars, throw pillows, coffee mugs, I’m working out a coaster idea…I feel on fire!

Calendars will go live on my website soon (still working out some website kinks), but I also will be at two shows this month, perfect if you want to do some shopping in person. The first is Saturday, November 17th from 9am-4pm at the St. Michael Albertville High School for the STMA Women of Today Fall Show. I’m in spot N5 which is the fifth one in from the main door (I scored a great spot this year!). The second is the follow Saturday, the 25th from 1pm-5pm at a friend’s home in Buffalo (see event on Facebook for address and complete information). A fierce friend and Boss Babe herself is opening her home for a fall vendor’s fair for Small Business Saturday (all vendors are local ladies!), and she’s got some really fun things planned (door prizes, ultimate goody bag, etc.). I’m looking forward to the fellowship, and holiday cheer.

Let’s do this! xoxo

October 14th

Sunday, October 14th, 2018

Despite the snow, I’m smiling today.

The gloomy skies brought out my anxiety and depression battle last week. But I’m choosing to smile.

Challenging life decisions seem to constantly hover. But I’m choosing to smile.

Relational tensions stifle feelings of safety and peace. But I’m choosing to smile.

Pumpkins are flying out of the field into joyful homes ready to celebrate the season, so I’m wanting to smile.

Kitty snuggles during the football game make me feel like there’s no place I need to be other than here. So I can’t help but smile.

Worship at church today brought tears to my eyes. So I am smiling; I am thankful.

Cory Asbury speaks to my heart in his song Reckless Love:

There’s no shadow You won’t light up,
Mountain You won’t climb up, coming after me.

There’s no wall You won’t kick down,
Lie You won’t tear down, coming after me.

There’s no shadow You won’t light up,
Mountain You won’t climb up, coming after me.

There’s no wall You won’t kick down,
Lie You won’t tear down, coming after me.

August 23rd

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

We can talk about this now, because she’s doing fine.

But this girl got walloped by Buck on Tuesday.




A lesson she hadn’t learned yet, and one that could only be learned the hard way. One that definitely isn’t fun for anyone to go through.

She always helps bring horses in in the evenings; she enjoys bringing them up into the paddocks. Her herding style tends to lean to the Border Collie side, so she stands back and uses her body and eye pressure to move them, which I don’t mind when she’s out with them. The horses will move off of her pressure, but no one gets riled up.

On Tuesday, however, the horses came running in. As Henna ran out to meet them, Buck dropped his head, snapped his front feet at her a couple times, and I saw the look of Australian Cattle Dog come out, and she met Buck’s challenge head on.

Cattle Dogs are tough, confident dogs – they’re herding style is more aggressive; bred to take kicks of a thousand pound animal, and go in for bites to the nose of a stubborn cow to get them to move. They are much more physical. So when Buck gave her attitude, Henna was on Buck’s heels like a magnet. He tossed his back legs out a couple times to tell her to back off, but she didn’t. It only egged her on. So by the time they made it up to the barn she was barking at him and ran him up into the paddock – and cornered him.

That was a mistake on her point. You don’t corner an animal who survives on a “Fight or Flight” mentality. He couldn’t flee, so he fought.

It happened so fast – Buck’s back leg shot out like lightning and solidly connected with Henna’s left side.

It was like slow motion, and then it all came quickly into regular time again. She was screaming like something was broken, and as she turned to run into my arms, she wasn’t putting any weight on her limp front left leg, and my heart stopped.

I tried to calm her down, but she screamed for 30-45 seconds. Which may not sound like a long time, but stop and sit in your chair for that long and imagine an animal in pain desperate to be in your lap, looking to you for help.

Once dad and I finally got her calmed down enough to check her over, I started down at her toes and worked my way up her leg, looking for broken bones or a reaction from her to tell me what hurt. I made it up to behind her shoulder, and onto her ribs, and while I found a swollen spot, she didn’t flinch at anything. She had started putting her weight back on that front leg.

At that point, I was satisfied nothing was broken, so I went in and grabbed a bag of frozen peas and she let me hold it on her side for a bit to hopefully help with any swelling.

She laid low for the remainder of the evening, and enjoyed all of the extra attention she was getting because no one was really willing to leave her alone.

A couple hours after the incident she had a healthy appetite and was drinking water, so we put her down for the night.

I called my mom the next morning to check in on her, and mom said “It’s like nothing ever happened! She’s running around with no limp, and happily went to check on the horses in the pasture. She’s bringing me all of her toys and wants to play.”

When they say Cattle Dogs are tough, they mean it.

They’re also smart – I’m happy to report that she did indeed learn that tough lesson – Buck now gets a wide berth, and she keeps her wits about her when walking around them.

And I’ve recovered from my near heart attack, so we’re all on the mend.

July 23rd

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

I was gone for three nights, Paul was also gone for one of those, and now the cats follow us everywhere.

Today, as we sat at the dining room table eating breakfast, Colt made himself comfortable on our end table by our couch. From there, he could equally keep an eye on us as well as on the birds outside the window.

The light was so pretty on his face that I grabbed my camera. When I took a moment to frame up my shot, I was able to line up the TV behind him, giving me a black background. I did go in and accentuate the shadows and blacks in post-production, but it’s a good reminder that anything can be a jumping off point!

July 8th

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

This man of mine is quite the treasure.

A few days ago, he was outside working on something when he poked his head back in the house.

“Court? Can you come here a minute?”

I put down whatever I was doing and walked over to our entryway to Paul’s face lit up with discovery.

He held out this tiny little feather between his fingertips: “Look what I found. It’s so small, it must be from one of the baby birds around our house.”

And then he handed it to me as a gift, turned around, and walked back outside to finish his project.

While you may be thinking “Ok, great. So what are you going to do with a feather?” Well let me let you in on a little something. Paul rarely buys me flowers or brings home a bottle of wine. He doesn’t write me love songs or pen poems, but I’ll tell you what he does do – he’s constantly gifting me with thoughtful gestures. This man looks for the little details he knows I’ll love, holds onto them, and shares them with me. And that means so much more to me than all of those other things ever could.

That feather is the equivalent of a bouquet of flowers for me. As a matter of fact, it’s been sitting on the centerpiece on our kitchen table ever since that day, and each time I see it it makes me smile. So today, I wanted to photograph it, as a reminder to myself that life isn’t always the big things, but the small things.

On a side note, I also loved the contrast between Paul’s rough fingertips and the delicate feather’s wispy features in this image.

July 1st

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

Just after the sun went down tonight, I remembered that I forgot to take a picture.


Although it wasn’t all bad, because then I have to get somewhat creative with the lack of light I have at that point.

So with one lamp on in our living room, I had Paul stand parallel to it so it would light up only one side of his face, and just went for it.

This was the first shot I got.

Perfect? Nope. But did I decently execute a technical idea on the first try? Yep!

*Cue the Fist Pump*

April 23rd

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

Death is one of those things where you never truly understand it.

The idea is a simple one when you aren’t emotionally involved: a soul leaves the earth, you won’t see them again here. They aren’t on vacation, they aren’t just gone running a few errands, they aren’t just in the next room, they’re just simply not coming back gone.

The end.

However, when you are emotionally involved, it just isn’t that simple.

A quick glance at a cat’s toy sitting in Burke’s favorite spot becomes Burke for a split second in my mind. I round the corner into our bedroom, and it’s a physical habit to move around in such a way so I can see his cage and check for him. I open the crisper drawer in the fridge, and I turn around with a smile already on my face expecting to see his little nose wiggling at me, but he isn’t there.

In one week since he’s been gone, it’s been an adjustment. But life moves on. With that comes both freedom and guilt.

I’m navigating both of those things. Lots of prayer, lots of reflection. It’s the first loss of an indoor pet for me, so this adjustment is entirely new.


But this is another step towards healing.

While at the vet last Monday, they offered me cremation services for Burke. I did end up opting for individual cremation, and Paul and I actually picked his ashes up on Saturday morning. I was able to “bring him home,” and surprisingly, that gave me a lot of comfort. However, what really, truly, brought me the most comfort?

Our vet had saved a piece of his hair for us. A recognizable physical piece of him – something I thought I’d never have to keep. Also in there was a small, circular clay disc that had Burke’s paw prints pressed into it. This office has just kept giving and giving.

I had it all together when I walked into the office that morning and was feeling surprisingly well, but that additional small gesture (and time) that they gave had me in tears as I walked out the door. The kindness and compassion they’ve shown through this whole deal has just been unending.

When we got home, I opened the small cardboard box to look at his ashes. I knew going in on Saturday to pick them up that there wouldn’t be much (he was only three pounds, and mostly hair at that), but there really wasn’t much. In fact, he’s in that small box I’m holding in today’s picture. Dust to dust.

“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20