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I had been looking forward to my trip to Charleston for MONTHS. I spent hours researching restaurants, tourist attractions, shopping and plantations.  I counted down the days and heard from everyone I talked to how much I’d fall in love with it.  I have to say, it definitely lived up to the hype.  Unfortunately from a photography standpoint, Charleston weather wasn’t very nice to me.  I stepped off of the plane to sunny skies and gorgeous clouds, took about 10 steps, and the rain started.  It would let up here and there for small stretches at a time, during which I would snap feverishly.  Then the rain would start and I’d tuck my sweet camera away and just enjoy the sites in peace.  My poor lenses took a beating, lots of water & fog being wiped away (she’s definitely gotta get shipped in to Canon for cleaning).  But I guess it was a bit of a blessing in disguise.  I ended up just enjoying my little girls’ getaway and doing some much needed R&R.

The first stop I made was to the Middleton Place.   Since it was a Friday at 2pm there wasn’t a soul around.  It was before my friend, Alyssa, landed so I ventured out on my own.  I have to say it was really quite a perfect start to my relaxing weekend away.  Again, I’d walk the grounds in total awe, snapping away, then those pesky clouds would hover and I’d get dumped on.  It actually turned out to be the perfect place to get caught in the rain.  The massive live oak trees served as fantastic umbrellas, and the raindrops rustling in the trees and water all around was very serene.  I’d run to cover, and sit below the tree just soaking it all in.  This was my first experience with the live oaks dripping in Spanish moss. To say these trees were breathtaking is an understatement.  I was a little bummed I didn’t have Alyssa with me so I could have a scale to show you how insanely large these trees were.  And one crazy trunk had a warped piece of wood that I thought looked like a ghost.

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I think the word to describe Middleton place was green. So much greenery, between the trees, lush grass and swamps covered in algae and moss, it was a green attack.  The next day I was SUPER pumped to get away from the monotone and into Rainbow Row.  An entire area of town where each house is a bright vivid color?! Have you seen my artwork? It’s a color addict’s paradise.  We took a Palmetto horse carriage ride that included a small historical tour.  I wasn’t paying much attention to it as I was in awe of the sites.  And I was THAT person who was reaching my head out of the covered trailer to try and get a good shot of the gorgeous architecture.

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I did listen long enough to learn that this stunning white mansion with vivid blue door (ring a bell anyone??) was actually a wedding gift from a grandmother to a grandchild.  My nana clearly has some catching up to do.

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I also have to mention my two nerdy freak out stops.  One of which was the Calhoun mansion which was the scene of Aly’s home in the movie The Notebook.  We also visited the Boone Hall Plantation, which was her summer home in the film as well.  We finally were able to hop out of our carriage just in time to snap a few windowsills and homes before (you guessed it), the heavens decided to open up for day TWO of raining on Jess’s photography parade.

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Talk about curb appeal.  I don’t even have windows like this, but it immediately made me want to added flower window boxes to the front of my home.

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So I know I have my adorable no soliciting sign on my front door, but when I saw this it made me think I should make one like this.  It just seems so much more dignified.  And to the point.

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Enter, pouring rain.  So we decided to drink copious amounts of wine and shop our way through the city with umbrellas.  Just as the day was winding down we saw there was a break in the weather so we made our way to Mt. Pleasant to the Boone Hall Plantation.  Yes, the home from the Notebook (Aly’s summer home, lots of Ryan Gosling make out sessions) and location of the most insanely beautiful drive-up entry ever.  I have two live oaks in my front yard, and it made me want to plant Spanish moss in them and let their limbs grow until they touch the ground.  I really wanted a shot of the house at the end of the long driveway but there was a wedding being set up and the trucks and tables and chairs blocked the whole front entry of the house.  There was this amazing black rod iron gate that opened up to the home. It was so ornate and grand, I wish I could have seen it in all it’s glory without catering trucks blocking it.  I’m telling you, this trip was not feeling my photographic wishes.

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Charleston South Carolina Images_28Charleston South Carolina Images_26Charleston South Carolina Images_27Just as we were getting in our cars from the Boone Hall, you guessed it, the rain came back for the remainder of the evening.  Determined to cram in just a little more outdoors I got up early Sunday morning before my flight and high tailed it to Folly Beach.  I took approximately a 20 minute walk, just enough to feel the sand beneath my toes and snap a few shots of the beautiful skies I’d been waiting to see all weekend.

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After my short stroll I hopped back in the car to cram one final destination into my trip before heading back to the airport.  This time I went to the Magnolia plantation.  Have you ever even heard of a town with more gardens and plantations in your life? Me either.  All 3 were unique and, with the exception for the live oaks in abundance, they had a different feel and story of their own.  If I had to sum up the Magnolia planation in one word, I’d say bridges. They really dig bridges, of all colors and sizes.  They were everywhere.  I’m only posting a few from that spot, but trust me, bridges bridges everywhere.

Charleston South Carolina Images_34Charleston South Carolina Images_35Charleston South Carolina Images_36Charleston South Carolina Images_37And that, in a nutshell is my very quick 48 hour trip to Charleston.  In the rain. 🙂  Thanks for stopping by.

As some of you may know (or have seen on my Pinterest board “Saratoga Curbside), it’s always been my dream to live in a white house.  I’ve always had these notions of this perfectly classic, timeless home, a la Father of the Bride.  I’ve spent many days driving through Highland Park in Dallas ooh’ing and ahh’ing at all the GORGEOUS painted brick homes and thinking to myself “one day.”

When we bought our forever home 3 years ago, I wasn’t too impressed with much of the design of it.  Inside or out.  But much like other women, we see past design, focus on the bones, and start making plans.  We spend hours on Pinterest, scour home design magazines, and dream of all the additions, upgrades and changes that our little brains can handle.  My husband and I always joked that our house was “Carroll Dragon Green” (the school mascot where we live).  I told Nick, not soon, but one day, I’m going to make my white house a reality.  I’m going to save up my monies, and turn this orangey/pink brick into my dream home.  Just so I knew what uphill battle I had ahead of me, right after we moved in I got a quote from a painting company for the project.  Just as I suspected, the price was steep, and not by any means crucial.  So on the back burner it went and filed into my “5 year plan.”

If you followed any of my posts about my interior projects, you would see that the inside of the home was in a total state of disconnect from the outside.  I took my time, went room by room and transformed the dated home into a transitional modern style (and having a ball doing it).  I take great pride when people come over and tell me “your house looks like a Pinterest board.” Mission, accomplished.

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Still I kept thinking “I wish I could have the exterior compliment the interior.”  Enter mother nature.  At the beginning of the summer, Dallas was graced by a historical amount of rain and storms leaving most of the city under water and with residual damage.  Our home was no exception.  The hail and winds left sizable damage to our roof which affected some of our interior walls.  So we contacted insurance and got claim filing underway.  We soon realized among the repairs included a new roof, new gutters and some paint staining and touch ups.  Which….. if you give a mouse a cookie, she’s going to ask the painters to just keep painting.  We soon realized our original painting quote was a lot higher because it included painting gutters, fixing damaged wood, etc.  And now that insurance was helping with those items, it made our paint estimate come down to just enough of a level that it could be done.  Granted, it’s still a whopper of a bill, and I’m definitely going to be on a spending freeze for some time, but COME ON.  When would you get another opportunity like this? So off we went, picking out paint swatches, roofing swatches and watching the dream unfold before our eyes.

As the weeks went by, and my project was about to begin, I thought of all the other tweaks I could do to give our house that finished look.  I took all of the security lights down and spray painted them black.

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I didn’t mind our front door *too* much, I originally planned to just give it a good paint job.  But when a brand new floor model door came across my Facebook Garage Sale feed for $200? I jumped on that.  I gave this puppy a fresh coat of paint and a door knob to match the interior pulls.  Add to that a new light fixture, (eliminating one of the LAST brass fixtures for good) and I had my new entry.

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Then came the days of demo!!! First the gutters came down, then the roof went up, painters came in and worked their magic, and the new gutters went back on.  In the process we lost some landscaping.  Bushes died, flowers had to be ripped out, so this is a fun new project that will happen TBD.   Still on the to do list is hanging our house numbers (husband duty) and paint the bricks on the walkway (also husband duty).

I’m going to just let the pictures speak for themselves, and if you have any interest in the details of paint colors, etc. I’ll finish the post about it all at the bottom (Some of my “before” pictures were taking after the gutters came off, so sorry for that).

Here is my perdy new WHITE HOUSE!

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My poor “Breathe” sign went through the ringer. Between birds stealing the moss and all the movement from demos, it took quite a beating.  Alas, I’ll have to redo most of them, but I put them back up in the interim as is.

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Here are some of the pictures on their own.

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Alas! Cohesion among the house.  A fun note about the blue paint color, it’s the same color in my kitchen, entry bathroom, & laundry room.  I love that it welcomes you at the front door, is a theme throughout the home, and is the back door as well.  It really ties it all together.  You can see these other images of the interior. Here, here and here.

Kitchen walls:

Fine Art Photography Wall Art

Brick – Sherwin William’s “Pure White”

Siding & Wood – Sherwin William’s “Sealskin”

Garage Door, Eaves & Keystones – Sherwin Williams “Tricorn Black”

Roof done by Super Roofman out of Keller – Silver Birch

Gutters & Downspouts – Black

Haint Ceilings, front door & back door – Sherwin Williams “Watery”

Security Lights – Rustoleum Black Matte

Front Light Fixture – Modern Forms

Door Handleset – Kwikset Tavaris

Painting done by CertaPro Painters Southlake

  • Hi Jessica, I really love what you’ve done with your home! It looks beautiful. I’m enjoying reading the blog too… 🙂ReplyCancel

Well, with the magic of a weekend and a husband to tend to the children, I was able to tackle editing all of Caden’s back to school pictures.  Like I’ve mentioned 37 times via social media, this week was hard for me.  We have 3 weeks left until Kindergarten starts for this little man and a wave of emotions has come over me.  Honestly though, after weeping crocodile tears for practically a week, and taking these pictures, I think I’m finally over it.  It was cathartic in a way.  And especially after the end of our session where he proved to still be little, I have fresh (and dried out) eyes on the new endeavor.

I’ve had some interest in back to school mini sessions, so there is more information about that at the bottom of the post.  Please feel free to email or call with me any questions.

So without further ado here are Caden’s back to school pictures.

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Walnut Grove Elementary

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If anyone is interested in having their child photographed for back to school, please email me or give me a call.  I will be doing sessions are your respective elementary schools, and will include a 20 minute session with 10 high resolution, fully edited digital files.


This week a baby lizard found it’s way into our pool and Caden about flipped his lid.  Coincidently he’d been asking me for a pet lizard for some time, to which I always say no, so he saw this as a huge win.  I must say, it’s been kind of amazing watching him take care of it.  I told him he can’t keep it for more than 10 days, and it can’t come in the house.  It’s the first thing on his mind when he wakes up in the morning, and the last thing before he goes to bed. He checks on it constantly throughout the day, making sure it’s got plenty of food and water.  Surprisingly, it hasn’t made a mad dash yet in one of the MANY times a day he lets it out to “play.”  He sings it lullabies, puts it down for it’s nap and talks to it in his sweetest daddy voice.  It took a couple of days but he now lets Alivia hold it (very briefly) and has gotten brave enough to sit it on his shoulder and let it wiggle up his head.  We shall see what happens on day 10 when I tell him it’s time for it to go back to it’s home, but until then it’s been a fun break in our little summer routine.  **Also, I swear I do get my kids dressed.  They swim multiple times a day and always refuse to put clothes back on after they are done.  🙂

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  • Mini & Nana

    ADORABLE !!! Caden & Alivia….Nana and Mini LOVE your new ‘pet’. He’s a really pretty one. Have fun with him. We see you’re taking VERY good care of him. WE LOVE YOU, Nana and Mini.ReplyCancel

I swear sometimes when I look at her, I see a glimpse into her next 15 years of life.  In a quiet moment, she’ll be deep in thought, unaware that I’m studying her every move as I just watch her.  This was one of those moments.   She didn’t want to swim with Caden, she just wanted to sit, feeling the breeze rustling through her hair.  I wonder what her little mind is thinking, as she sits in the sun, listening to Taylor Swift on my cell phone.   Every so often she’d look up and see my intrusive camera, but it didn’t really phase her.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe she really is only 2 years old.  It only lasts about 30 seconds before the toddler sets back in but one day I’ll pull these pictures out and compare to see if much has changed.

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  • Brett

    Love these… the wild hair! And she’s looking so much more like Nick all of the sudden too.ReplyCancel

  • mary bardasian

    Alivia Grace…You are BEAUTIFUL….and Caden is a VERY HANDSOME young man. Mommy, these pics are absolutely amazing, just gorgeous. Yall have a great nite, Love MiniReplyCancel