orchard-01Life seems to be clipping along at light speed this fall. The boy started Kindergarten. Suddenly the baby is not such a baby, and we’ve hardly had a chance to stop and catch our breath.  We’ve been working in high-gear with so much (wonderful) work in our photography business, but realized it had been too long since we’d pulled out a roll of film for these two doves.  So on a warm Sunday afternoon in September, we scrapped our to-do list and went swinging in the apple trees.  We made some very happy memories playing in the sunshine, hopping on a hay ride, and licking our fingers after polishing off half a dozen (or so) cinnamon sugar rolled apple donuts.  This was such a sweet day and I know these photos will give me warm fuzzies for many years to come! xo.orchard-03orchard-04living-the-swell-life-blog-102214-02living-the-swell-life-blog-102214-04orchard-08living-the-swell-life-blog-102214-03living-the-swell-life-blog-102214-01

Over the weekend we had the joy of celebrating our baby girl’s first birthday! It seems so bittersweet and surreal that the snuggly newborn we met 365 days ago has blossomed into a jibbering, scooting, cupcake-loving tot with such a sweet disposition.  Yet at the same time, we can scarcely remember life without her. Since we named her Violet, pretty much her whole life has been flower-themed by default, and her first birthday party was no exception!  We have the most lovely watercolor print that says “Do you suppose she is a wildflower?” hanging in her room, and its colors and sentiment quickly became the theme of her party.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Six weeks before her party, I set out to conquer the party invitations. When I came across this first birthday invitation design from Tiny Prints, I fell in love with the hand-painted look of its lettering. As a personal touch, big brother G helped me punch and sprinkle some DIY confetti into each envelope, which added a charming effect in very little time!
Violet-Bday-17Above: we strung this cheery paper banner across the dining room ceiling.
Below: Pastel tissue fans added a punch of whimsy and color above the dessert & drink table.  We served cucumber mint water, lemonade, and orange mimosas along with a huge spread of  brunchy food, which is not pictured here because I was so busy (not) pulling my underdone/overdone quiches out of the oven.  My super talented sis-in-law Jenny made up for my less-than-stellar main courses, creating the most delicious and beautiful vanilla-lemon cake and cupcakes for the occasion!

Violet-Bday-38Above: Bright cupcake flags added a playful punch to the cupcakes. Later, when he thought no one was looking, brother added SEVERAL extra flags to each cupcake…Ha!
Below: We hauled Violet’s dresser down to our living room to create a little welcoming area as guests arrived.  We set out a book of her baby photos, her “Violet Girl” BlaBla doll,  and party favors. One week before the party, I made my first-ever batch of jam to thank everyone who helped us celebrate.  I topped off the jars with these cute monogram stickers and a little lace trim.

wildflowerfirstbirthday-01Violet-Bday-02wildflowerfirstbirthday-02Violet-Bday-22wildflowerfirstbirthday-03wildflowerfirstbirthday-06Violet-Bday-09Violet-Bday-30This sweet little wildflower of ours LOVED her cupcake, and with notably less mess than her big brother did 4 years ago! Happy 1st Birthday to our sweet little miss. Having a girl around is seriously fun!

Party Supplies : Shop Sweet LuLu
Stationery: Tiny Prints
Floral : Midtown Farmers’ Market
“Do You Suppose She is a Wildflower?” Art : Katie Daisy




The sweetness of lilac season always leaves me feeling refreshed and recharged. I love how these beauties bridge the gap between spring & summer.  They come and go so quickly here in Minnesota.  This year it seemed like they blossomed so late, and now are already on their way out. I made sure to clip a few sprigs from my neighbor’s yard last week. After all, they dangle over the fence and hang directly above our backyard compost bin.  The lilacs were practically begging to be picked, more and more each trip that I made to this little corner of our yard…

I adore how fresh flowers force you to live and enjoy them in the moment. They are so perfect and fragrant for just a day…And then these particular sprigs were done and droopy almost as quickly as I can get them from backyard to vase.  The fact that they can only be enjoyed a few fleeting moments per year makes them an even more lovely novelty to me.  So happy I made off with a handfull of these and that I made them pose for a photo before they wilted their way back to the bottom of the compost bin…

Now on to peonies. Happy June, friends!

We have waited all year for this. S e v e n t y and S u n n y.  We’ve been trying to squeeze in as much outside time as possible, enjoying the blossoming trees, bare baby toes, and long days of sunshine.  So this afternoon when my scheduled plans got canceled, I knew exactly what to do.  The kids and I took a leisurely walk to the library, checked out some great new-to-us picture books, and sauntered home for popsicles.  We then tossed our prized vintage quilt out in the backyard and plopped down for stories in the shade. Even Kit the gray cat joined in, tolerating baby V who generally pulls out her soft gray mane by the hand full. It was all so very perfect.  I am in love with opportunities like this to slow down and really see and enjoy the happy mundane things we do each day. Especially when perfect weather is involved.  summerreading-052814-01summerreading-052814-06

Over the past year or so, G has become a HUGE fan of Richard Scarry.  We seriously have to read the book What Do People Do All Day every.day. It’s cute, but it’s gotten SO old…To the point that I admittedly hide it under his bed or behind other books when I am cleaning, just to dodge reading it for a bedtime or two! (True confession.)  We were super excited to discover the Adventures of Lowly Worm today!  Fresh Busytown for the win!!

summerreading-052814-07summerreading-052814-02DSC_6398DSC_6431In other news, baby V is 9 months old!!  It is always a crazy thought to realize that your baby has been “out” longer than she was in.  She is on the move.  Not exactly crawling on all fours, but she has the most unique little scoot.  She sits up and sort of seesaws with her legs and trunk to get where she wants to go. Hands free. And she’s pretty fast!  She is a sweet, sweet baby and a champion sleeper. Still no teeth. And oh, by the way, she’s afraid of grass.  This afternoon on our quilt, she would scoot her toes right up to the border, reach out, touch a few blades and cry the saddest scaredy-cat cry.  It made for a good invisible fence, and prevented me from worrying about her eating too much dirt while the bookworm and I read on and on and on. (:


When we were expecting Violet, our friend Chris, who is an amazing local cinematographer, approached us with an idea to create a story about Graham becoming a big brother, but even more of a letter to our new baby about how things were before and when she arrived.  He finished it up this week, and it is the best mother’s day gift I could ever imagine!!! I’ve watched it 20 times already and I still cry every time I see it.  More accurately, I laugh my face off at G’s battle fight sequence then burst into happy tears for the rest.   This little film is so real and so precious to me!

I feel like pregnancy and the newborn baby stage is such an exhausting blur of time and I SO cherish how this captures some of the happiest moments of our lives and enhances these beautiful memories.  The first time I watched it, I kept thinking…Who is this cute little family!?!? It is such a gift to be able to see your blessings through someone else’s eyes…Especially someone who happens to be an amazing cinematographer. The project was a blend of our amateur iphone videos and his work on digital and super8 cameras…Chris amazingly worked through so much of our crazy, random footage and created the sweetest story and we feel forever grateful.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we have!

Jeff + Jessica | Hello Baby from Sky Focus Films on Vimeo.

P.S. The opening sequence is Christmas 2012.  That one time when my nervous/nauseous real-life self, attempted to capture Jeff’s reaction as he unwrapped the official pregnancy test!