2017: A Life Update

Hey, Internet. Been a while, right?


For me, it feels like it has been even longer than it’s actually been. The last couple of months of 2016 I made posts in a zombie sort of fashion – posts because I felt like I needed to, not because I wanted to. Posts that made things look better than they actually felt. By mid-February, I couldn’t keep up the act anymore and so I just quit. I even removed the social media apps completely from my phone. Life got too busy for me anyway by the time March kicked off.


2017 has been…. Interesting. Some of the happiest moments of my life have occurred this past year, but I’ve also struggled immensely with anxiety and depression more than I have in over a decade. It’s weird to feel such extremes.


I lost some friends I loved (their choice, not mine); I hated myself for things that were out of my control; I questioned my heart and whether it was worth loving; I worried relentlessly over cats and put myself through weeks of trapping and rescuing a colony not once, but twice; I gained weight and hated myself some more; I failed to do a single creative thing outside of photography; and experienced anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks over everything from possibly needing to use the bathroom when there wasn’t one around to being able to afford a suddenly more expensive life and whether that was a good decision or not.


Still, I’m walking away from 2017 feeling more blessed than not. The biggest blessing being: I’m a homeowner now! And I love, love, love my house. It’s a brick cape cod w/ a covered porch that sits up on a hill on a half acre of land, with a breezeway connecting the house to the garage, built-in bookcases surrounding the fireplace, hardwood floors throughout, 3 full bathrooms, an open floor plan between the kitchen and living room, and Heath and I even have our own giant office/toy rooms, with a spare room for any future child God might bless us with too. It still needs work – there’s still an entire, partially finished basement to tackle, and relocating from Maryland to Pennsylvania was a pain, but I finally feel proud of where I live and I’m excited for all the memories Heath and I will make here. While buying a house was a blessing in itself, there were blessings happening all around me, too, like a family who puts their creative abilities to use the second you have the keys in your hand and friends who gather together to celebrate your milestones. Twice since last December, my office has collected money to help with the burden of these changes in my life and I’ve cried every time over their unexpected kindness.


My Living Room, Christmas 2017

Our living room, Christmas 2017


We also have a new fur-baby! She’s just turned a year old (we rescued her from outside at just 10 weeks old in late January), and is as wild as ever. Tay’s still not sure she really wanted a sister, but the new house has at least given her plenty of opportunities to get away from hyper Callie when she just can’t be bothered with her. And I suppose you could say we have several new fur-babies if I’m honest, but that’s a story for a different post. 😉


Callie Girl, Year 1

Callie, Year 1


I’m leaving 2017 with a far better perspective than I left 2016 – I feel hopeful and excited for all the plans and work I have in mind. I’m sure there will be hiccups along the way, because that’s how life works, but I hope that starting the year with a better outlook puts me on a better path for happiness than last year. I can’t promise I’ll be online much, nearly a year away from it has definitely served as a lesson on just how toxic the internet can be and how easily it can affect you without you even realizing it, but I do hope to chime in more frequently than I did this year (which was not at all – lol). I have maintained activity on instagram (swhisted), so if you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to on a more regular basis, that’s the place to look.


I hope anyone reading this leaves 2017 behind with peace and hope in their hearts and minds. Life is what YOU make it, so choose to make it the best it can be!


Happy New Year!


Christmas 2016

Christmas had a rocky start this year, with dad being in the hospital for a diverticulitis attack and Mom & I trying to figure out how to make the Christmas Eve dinner without him. Thankfully, we didn’t ruin it and even more thankfully, Dad broke himself out of the hospital in time to celebrate. He wrote on his exit board, “Santa had a bellyache, but the little children need him.” Which is completely accurate b/c my dad is Santa. He suffered through the next two days of celebration like a champ and we found ourselves all the more grateful for his presence. The kids, especially, love their Poppy. Christmas wouldn’t have been the same without him.


As usual, Christmas at my parents for Christmas Eve and Morning is crowded and chaotic and I wouldn’t want it any other way.


We ended our Christmas festivities at my Mother-in-laws for another round of good food and fun, feeling so very blessed to be able to spend that sort of quality time with our loved ones.


I hope all of your Christmases were just as satisfying as ours, even if they too had their rocky moments. 🙂


To see more pictures of our Christmas, click the image below!





Blog Treats

Cookie-Thon 2016

Can you believe this is the 7th year I’ve done Cookie-Thon? I guess it didn’t technically become a “Cookie-Thon” until about 5 years ago, but still… I was shooting for a number less insane than last year’s 3,454 cookies, but apparently less for me, was only by 10 cookies, bringing this year’s total to 3,444. Despite that, this year went a lot smoother thanks to a few things: taking Friday and Monday off to give me 4 full days, my friend Shawn lending me his mixer so I could run 4 bowls at the same time in equally powered machines, having my friends Aubrie and Ari helping on Saturday and my Maw Maw on Monday, cookie sheets as big as my oven that held 30-35 cookies, a giant spatula, and just overall better planning.


I filled over 60 packages this year and 6 platters, mostly to the usual friends and family members that receive them every year. But the most fulfilling part of Cookie-Thon continues to be the ability to give cookies to strangers. The surprise of the pizza delivery guy, touched by the offer to come inside and have a warm cookie before he takes the road again. The comfort in the face of a neighbor I don’t really know, but who lost her daughter 2 months ago and is understandably struggling to feel Christmas joy. This is what Cookie-Thon is really about, this token of love, to whoever is willing to receive it. Spreading Christmas cheer is my absolute favorite thing to do and I implore all of you to find a way to spread some too.


This year I had the opportunity to do something really worthwhile with the excess cookies and I am excited about being able to do it every year from here on out too. With about a bins worth of leftovers, I asked around for a good place to donate them, or for people who would like a small package themselves, and my old childhood friend Sasha suggested The Sharing Table. You remember, that humbling experience I had last year when I volunteered? She says they get well over 100 people for the Christmas dinner and now some of them will get to go home (or wherever they find shelter at night) with some of my cookies! I know it’s hardly enough to make their lives any better, but I hope it at least serves as a sweet treat in the name of Christmas that they would have otherwise not had.


I’ve got this idea about making Cookie-Thon a sort of movement, where I release my recipes online and people all over participate in the same event, same weekend, and then we all set out to get them into the hands of people who don’t expect it – who need it most. Be that homeless people, cops, delivery people, someone who’s been down on their luck, etc… If we could create a movement to spread Christmas Cheer…. gah! it’d be an amazing thing to be a part of. Anybody interested in possibly being a part of this next year?


For the most part I posted the progress of Cookie-Thon live on Instagram Stories and Snapchat this year, but I did manage to capture a few pictures with my good camera, too. If you’d like to see the process, click the image below! 🙂







Neff Kids Christmas Card 2016

Since I started shooting this family, we’ve always done funny Christmas cards, but as the kids get older and the parents want themselves a part of it less and less, we shot some more mature pictures for this year’s card. Still, we did manage to get a pretty funny one of their dog, Rocky, too, though. For old times sake. Doesn’t he look thrilled? LOL! 😉


Click the image below to see a few other favorites from this shoot!






Hoerr Kids Christmas Card 2016

When “winging” it works! This turned out so much cuter than I was hoping for considering we literally threw the set together out of random household items in a hardly no time at all at the last minute. 🙂


To see more from this shoot, click the photo below!






Milan Family Christmas Card 2016

Easily one of my favorite families to shoot because Luciano is always so full of character  (he gets it honestly from both parents – lol)! The sun was dying in the sky, creating the most gorgeous flares in the camera and the temperature seemed to be dropping by the minute below 30, but it made for such a beautiful accent to this beautiful family.


For more of my favorites from this shoot, click the image below!





Christmastime 2014

December came so suddenly and passed so swiftly, it’s almost as if it didn’t really happen. I was SO busy. I know it seems like every time I blog these days, busy is topic of discussion, but it’s been true and was extra true in December. I started the month doing a a series of Christmas card shoots (Shoot 1, 2, 3, 4), then it was time for my annual Cookie-Thon, and before I knew it Christmas week was here! Thankfully, I captured it all in pictures, since there was zero time to write about it!


(Click through the slideshows below!)


Christmastime Around My House 




Christmas Eve Eve



Christmas Eve



Christmas Day



Annual Whisted Women Holiday Lunch



As you can see, my Christmas was AWESOME! How about yours?



Luciano Christmas Card Shoot 2014

(Click through the slideshow below!)




Conrad Family Christmas Shoot 2014

(Click through the slideshow below!)



Baby Brody Christmas Shoot 2014

(Click through the slideshow below!)