Posts in Lifestyle
Happy October! Enjoy 50% Off Past Issues Until 6:00 pm CST Today!
Flowers by Amy Osaba for Cottage Hill | Beautiful fall or Thanksgiving arrangement now on Cottage Hill |

Happy October! To celebrate fall, we are offering 50% off all past issues for 24 hours! Hurry now to snag your favorite Cottage Hill issue to complete your collection before this offer closes tomorrow at 6:00 pm CST!

And yes, you guessed it, we're making room for The Grace Issue! Pre-orders and cover reveal for The Grace Issue coming later this week!

Grab you Homecoming or Captivated issues here!

Use code :: OCTOBER50

A Mother Daughter Art Collaboration
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll
A Mother and Daughter Art Collaboration, now on Cottage HIll

We love this special mother-daughter session captured at the Refresh Collective, hosted and styled by Melissa Click, and captured by Lauren Jolly at Spain Ranch. Our favorite part? It features a real mother and daughter with a real story.

From Ashley (the mother): My daughter Nora, 4, and I paint oversized abstract artwork in inspired colorways. An extra measure of charm is ever present, as the younger member of this partnership carries full title responsibilities. The results promise to be laughable. 

The process is simple but magical.

Step 1. I toy around with color pallets that inspire me, trying to blend muted tones with saturated, to avoid a juvenile look. This could come from a rug, an outfit, a sunset, or nowhere.

Step 2. I mix our colors, and let her choose her brush.

Step 3. We attack the canvas simultaneously, painting around each other. Sometimes there is a plan, sometimes there is not.

Step 4. We stop when Nora announces that it is finished, and declares some brilliantly ludicrous nonsense that becomes the name, which she immediately forgets.

Step 5. I pick out more colors and we do it again.

As a full time interior stylist and lifelong creative, I have a background in many artistic pursuits. This medium, however, is entirely new to me! Rather, achieving anything on a canvas I would actually share with someone is new to me, as painting one has never ever remotely resembled the grandiose messy masterpiece I envisioned. My movements are too calculated, and the results lifeless, at least in the eyes of this perfectionist. Nora, well, she’s a game-changer. Her approach is so free spirited and joyful, her brush moves so freely and without regret. She is the ying to my yang.

As I learn, and open up to the process, I appreciate my work more, but NEVER would have branched out into this without the ambiance she provides in each piece. Nothing is finished before she’s gotten her hands (and knees, and thighs?!) on it.

This journey began for us just a year and a half ago, starting with a gift we made for my sister. Since, we've been incredibly fortunate to continually be given opportunities to create and share, and every sale goes to Nora's college fund. We're taking it a day at a time, growing and setting new goals...and sharing all the nonsense.

This particular painting in the photos is for sale. The title is 'Colorado, Jeff Bridges, and Jesus' - it is mixed media on canvas, 36" x 48", and can be purchased through her Instagram account here.

You can learn more about Ashley's professional work at Whiteside Art and Interiors. Nora's dress is from Cute Heads and hairbow from Fourth and Pierce. All photos were scanned by Indie Film Lab.

A Real Surprise Proposal
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill
A real Surprise Proposal, now on Cottage Hill

We often receive surprise proposal stories, but rarely does the bride seem truly surprised. When photographs Shayla and Todd of Shayla Renee Photography sent these images and this story, though, we could feel the surprise and the love between these two - we had to share it with you!

Here is what Todd had to say about capturing Jared and Claire's moment:

Jared's proposal to Claire was absolutely breathtaking! It was July 20th on one of the brightest and best days Portland had seen this summer. The location was at one of Portland's premier restaurants, Noble Rot Wine Bar.

Jared decided to propose to Claire on the roof of Noble Rot where a beautiful garden full of vegetables, flowers, and a magnificent view of the city awaited. Jared hired Moorea Masa & the Mood to sing while he asked the big question. As Jared and Claire walked up the ladder and made their entrance Moorea Masa & the Mood began to play beautifully and Jared got down on one knee and asked the question they had been waiting, unknowingly, for fourteen years to be asked. With tears in her eyes (as well as his) Claire said yes! 

What I didn't know at the time and later found out is that Jared and Claire had been best friends for fourteen years and had only been dating just over a year at this point. But the entire time they had been dating Jared knew and even vocalized that he would marry her! They had watched each other fall in and out of love with other people for fourteen years and it was finally their turn, and this love wasn't a love you fall out of but a love you fall deeper into. 

After the proposal Jared and Claire climbed back down tot he restaurant where they finished their glasses of wine and then headed out to an after party where thirty of their friends and family were waiting to celebrate their love.

Girls' Night Al Fresco
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night
Al Fresco Girls' Wine Night

In some areas, like the South, summer is still trying to hold on with it's lingering sunshine or occasional balmy breeze. Those who are fortunate enough to enjoy the slow transition from summer to fall, should take advantage of the final days of enjoying an al fresco dinner. Or, in this case, a simple, outdoor girls' night under the Spanish Moss.

Photography by Maggie Colletta, take at Morning Glory Farm in North Carolina.

The Slow Session
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill
How to Pose Naturally for your Engagement Photos, Family Photos, etc. now on Cottage Hill

When you are having your engagement photos or even family photos taken, the photographer, or, if you are fortunate, a stylist, may direct you towards movements or poses to capture the moment.

If you book true professionals, the photographer or stylist will provide direct instruction (for example, "Walk to that tree holding hands,") where you have the freedom to 'make it your own.' That means, perhaps even without realizing it, you and your love (or loves) will automatically walk to the tree in such a way only you can. Just imagine if you told ten people to walk to a tree, they would all walk differently with a different gait, looking at different things and a different speed.

Sometimes though (if you're like my husband and me), it can take some time to get comfortable to walk to a tree holding hands...with someone holding a camera following behind you. You may just naturally be camera shy, which is OK. However, your particular, organic movement can be lost as you overanalyze how you're holding hands or what exactly the photographer may be capturing from your backside. 

All of which are major distractors filtering into your mind, affecting your disposition, your photographs when you receive them and your overall experience.

What can you do about it? Take your time. Often, sessions are booked by the hour but do not worry about time. If you need a few minutes just to chat with the photographer and loosen up, walk around and getting used to the third party, take it. Your imagery will develop into much more natural moments - moments you will want to keep, print and frame.

More about the photographs from photographer Mary Claire Cook: "This shoot speaks to me because it embodies my philosophy as an artist. I seek to capture real, beautiful & genuine moments. This couple wasn’t posed or directed (in the traditional sense of stagnant holds or insensible movement patterns). Their admiration for each other, their laid-back personalities and their passion for the music they make is natural and infused into each image."

All photographs were taken at the Forage and Fern workshop hosted by Magnolia Rouge and tutored by photographer Tec Petaja. These featured images are by Mary Claire Photography who used The Find Lab for her film scans. Type A Society served as stylist for this experience with floral designs by Ponderosa and Thyme. Jess Wilcox provided Hair and Makeup services and you can learn more about the couple at Tigers in the Sky

Soil & Stem Floral Design Workshop
Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Class with authentic, natural flowers arrangements now featured on Cottage Hill
Beautiful use of carnations, an often ignored flower, in a natural flower arrangement from Soil & Stem's Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Nicole Land of Soil & Stem preparing for her Spring Floral Design Workshop for flower artists now featured on Cottage Hill
Beautiful assortments of Frou Frou Chic ribbons curated by Nicole Land of Soil & Stem for her Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Nicole Land of Soil & Stem teaching flower artists at her Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Beautiful Frou Frou Chic ribbons utilized by Nicole Land of Soil & Stem for her Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
The daintiest pansy used for a unique and natural boutonniere now featured on Cottage Hill
Whites, creams, peaches and light corals for this student's arrangement at Nicole Land's Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Blooming or even non-blooming branches provide depth, height and authenticity to a flower arrangement as seen her at Nicole Land's Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Blooming or even non-blooming branches provide depth, height and authenticity to a flower arrangement as seen her at Nicole Land's Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
Nicole Land of Soil & Stem adjusting a flower arrangement at her Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill
We love the use of carnations in Nicole Land's (of Soil & Stem) arrangement - beautiful for any season, now featured on Cottage Hill
The small bursts of reds, pinks and corals the ranunculi provide in this arrangement more life a joy to a rather traditional palette. See more from Nicole Land's Soil & Stem Spring Floral Design Workshop now featured on Cottage Hill.
Blooms by Nicole Land of Soil & Stem and ribbons from Frou Frou Chic, now featured on Cottage Hill
A simple, light palette takes on modern simplicity in this natural bridal inspiration featuring Soil & Stem, Alexandra Grecco, Frou Frou Chic and Tess Comrie - now on Cottage Hill
A bride waits. See more from Soil & Stem's Spring Floral Design Workshop now on Cottage Hill
The lace on this Alexandra Grecco gown is breathtaking, now featured on Cottage Hill
Tess Comrie perfectly captures movement, fluid movement, from this beautiful bride. See more now on Cottage Hill
A bride in and out of focus, moving, dreaming, anticipating - see more now on Cottage Hill
Simple joy. We love seeing a happy bride. So many editorials are so serious in the name of 'fine art.' Fine art can also capture joy; actually, we prefer it! See more captured by Tess Comrie at Soil & Stem's Spring Floral Design Workshop now on Cottage Hill
One of our most romantic moments. Blooms by Soil & Stem and captured by Tess Comrie now on Cottage Hill
The most adorable flower girl and bride moment. Beautiful blooms by Soil & Stem, captured by Tess Comrie, now on Cottage Hill.
The most adorable flower girl twirls in Frou Frou Chic ribbons, Soil & Stem blooms and captured by Tess Comrie, see more on Cottage Hill

Florists and flower enthusiasts gathered together to learn from Nicole Land of Soil & Stem. Nicole is known for her natural approach to floristry. She sources many of her blooms locally and prefers outdoor-grown product. She believes that flowers cultivated in a natural environment contain a character and story that greenhouse mass produced flowers do not. 

Nicole spoke with attendees about the use of color, texture, depth, and shape of our designs. While spring offers us an abundance of life: blooming branches, hellebores, and flushing roses, allowing us to create pieces that contained color, moments of growth and gesture.

Nicole paired designs with accents of oatmeal grey linen and dove grey dress from Alexandra Grecco along with plenty of clean natural light as well as a candlelit scene. All photographs by Tess Comrie.

Blueberry Elderflower Lemonade Recipe
Cottage Hill Blueberry Elderflower Lemonade

Last year, we shared this refreshing lemonade recipe for the 4th of July weekend. As the heat continues to linger this summer, a glass of this blueberry elderflower lemonade may be just what you need!

As we break away from our office and head to the lake and sunshine with our families, I just want to take a moment to express gratitude for being an American. Speaking on our country's great freedoms can be conveyed in cliche's, but at Cottage Hill, we are especially grateful for the freedom of speech to share meaningful stories here and in our books - sharing equal parts truth and beauty with complete freedom and confidence.

We are so grateful we can live the life we desire, that we have the freedom to pursue happiness and a life lived wholeheartedly without fear or restraint. And of course, we are grateful for the freedom to love. Beyond the realms of romantic or marital love, we have the freedom to love thy neighbor and to us, that is the most special aspect whether exemplified in the sacrifice of a soldier, the prayers of a community's church or sharing a pitcher of lemonade to your neighbor who needs a little extra sunshine. Love never fails. 

Speaking of sharing a pitcher of lemonade with your neighbor, our Creative Assistant Abby Rose Henry went on an adventure with her mom to create a Blueberry Elderflower Lemonade you will want to make for this weekend's festivities. With the floral notes of elderflower and sweetness of freshly picked blueberries, this recipe is sure to loved by all! Scroll down for photographs and recipe. 

Blueberry Elderflower Lemonade

Ingredients :: You will need Elderflower Lemonade (or Elderflower Syrup), sparkling mineral water, blueberries, lemons, mint leaves and ice. 

Step One :: If it's available to you, we highly recommend you grab your mother or best friend and pick fresh blueberries at your local berry farm. We love not only knowing where our food comes from, but getting to know the people who grow our food. So take your time exploring the farm and getting to know the farmers. Plus, fresh blueberries are the best!

Step Two :: Set your ingredients out and maybe take a sip of your Elderflower Lemonade and see for yourself if you prefer it’s sweetness or if you and your guests would prefer a little more dilution. We recommend filling your pitcher with either 1/2 or 3/4 full of the Elderflower Lemonade. If you are working with Elderflower Syrup, think approximately 2 Tablespoons per glass. 

Step Three :: Cut up those lemons into nice thing slices so the concoction can soak in all of the fresh juice. For the blueberries, think 10 berries per glass as you fill your pitcher. If you’d like more of that blueberry flavor, go ahead and muddle or puree about 1/2 cup of blueberries if you are looking for a more berry taste. Add in the mint leaves, approximately 2-3 leaves per intended glass. If you muddled or pureed your blueberries, be sure to stir and mix well so it doesn’t settle.

Step Four :: Finally, once you’re ready to serve, fill up the rest of your pitcher with sparkling mineral water. The sparkling water will give a little more kick to the lemonade. Be sure to taste test as you go, you may want to balance with a little more Elderflower Lemonade or Elderflower syrup. Be sure each glass gets a good amount of lemons, blueberries and mint to come complete the drink. Have a seat and enjoy sipping and chatting over this delicious summer treat!

All photographs by Owl & Anchor Studios Styled by Abby Roses

Herb-Inspired Dinner Party

We are thrilled to partner with Silver Cup Artist Sera Petras for this beautiful herb-inspired dinner party. This team did an amazing job of creating a truly Cottage Hill evening. We love how this simple but elegant evening feels like the perfect end of week celebration to gather with friends, eat amazing dishes, and have good conversations with sweet friends. 

In addition to the beautiful evening The Clifton Inn created dishes incorporating fresh herbs! Come back next week to get the first of two delicious recipes they are sharing! 

Photography by Sera Petras Photography :: Styling and Coordination by Amanda Gray, Ashley Baber Weddings :: Venue, Food & Drink by The Clifton Inn :: Flowers by The Arrangement Company :: Calligraphy & Paper by Leen Jean Studios :: China & Linens by Festive Fare :: Models Lisa Mims & Holly Hudson

Beauty for Ashes
Cottage Hill

In The Captivated Issue, we were honored to share deep, personal stories that truly captivated our hearts and some, providing an avenue for healing. We typically do not share entire stories from our print publication, but what Brenda Oakes shares in her story is a message we want to spread as far and wide as possible - a message about hope and healing. 

When I was a kid growing up in Northern California, we used to spend time each summer in Santa Cruz. My favorite thing to do at the beach was rooted my feet in the sand just at the water’s line where the shore washes into the land. I would stand with my eyes closed; feet firm in the sand, arms stretched to the side and let the waves crash into my little legs. I loved to feel the power of the ocean waves push against my balance. It was a victorious feeling when I could still stand- the ocean was no match for my kid strength. On July 6th, 2005, ten years ago this summer, I met a wave that almost pulled me under forever.

I remember sitting alone in the small exam room at my obstetrician’s office listening to the quiet white noise of the ultrasound device waiting for another digital meeting with our son, Maddox. It was two days before my due date, and I was equally thrilled and nervous to be a mom for the first time. The doctor came in and rubbed the wand on my belly. Without warning, the atmosphere of the room dramatically shifted as the doctor left the room without saying a word. I remembered seeing Maddox moving and full of life at every other ultrasound, that is, until today. Today was different. He was completely still on the screen and in my heart, I knew. Maddox was gone.

The doctor came back and told me what I already knew. My baby had died. Hearing it spoken out loud was a sharp knife to my panicked heart. Before the doctor could finish her sentence, I felt this rush of fire burning through my chest and my airway started to close in like I was suffocating. The only escape from the fire of disbelief was to scream out.

The days and weeks that followed were the hardest for me. It was all a blur. I felt people around me, but I couldn’t see past my tears flooding me. I tried to fake live a life when all I wanted to do was die. The grief was defeating like violent surf crashing on me over and over.  I was suffocating and couldn’t catch my breath; I couldn’t put my feet in the sand to anchor the trashing of my soul.

The hours in the day felt like I was lifelessly drifting out to sea. Still not able to stand, not able to fully breathe, and each evening my husband would pull me back into shore. When he would come home from work, I thought that being together would bring some comfort, but instead, we had tension. I felt like he seemed to be over losing our baby. He just appeared to be beyond where I was at emotionally, and I hated feeling like I was a mess he had to deal with. We were worlds apart and not connecting.

I would plead to God to take me each night before I would fall asleep. Each morning I would wake up mad because I had to face another day of this Hell I was trapped in. Another day of crashing waves, maddening waves.

Two months passed and I knew it was time to go back to work. I just wanted to leave the prison my house had become. Some days I couldn’t control the tears and other days, I felt numb, exhausted from feeling. I would take lunch in the cemetery next to Maddox’s grave. I sat in the grass and tried to imagine him there next to me. Staring at the engraved name on the headstone gave me a strange sense of comfort. This nightmare I was living in was real. Maddox was real.

One day after eating lunch in the cemetery, I got back in my car and caught a glimpse of myself in the rearview mirror. I was so broken. I could barely recognize myself. Then, the questions that changed everything started shifting around in my mind. What am I doing? How did my life end up like this? How long am I going to stay knocked down? I knew I had a choice. Live a life full of a tormenting reminder of death or get back up and live. I chose to live. That day in my car, I made my choice, and I was determined to make this life a legacy for Maddox.

Choosing to live looks pretty on paper. It sounds good and triumphant. However, the real journey to healing from all that had happened was not easy or pretty. My faith in God gave me the strength to slowly pick up the pieces of my broken heart. As I began to be pieced back together, my desire to be a mother again grew stronger. Ten weeks after Maddox’s death, I found myself sitting on the same kind of paper-lined table where it had all begun, listening to the peaceful white sound of the ultrasound. My husband Kris by my side, hands clenched, with hopeful hearts. The “swosh-echo, swosh- echo” sound on the screen confirmed what we desperately prayed for - life, again.  

On the one - year anniversary of Maddox’s birthday, I rocked our baby girl Emory, in his chair, in his nursery…now painted pink. Emory didn’t replace Maddox, but her heart beating against mine was the most wonderful reminder that death did not win. The grief waves crashing against my chest were now subtle tides of pain outmatched with surges of love. I could feel her life beating on my heart, and it was the most wonderful reminder that death did not defeat me.  

We were living and growing as a family. A couple of years later, the faint Whisper again said, “If you want another baby, I will protect you.” With this promise, Kris and I decided to risk it all and have another baby. Sometimes a promise from God can be misunderstood as something that will be easy (at least to me). My third pregnancy was a battle in every sense of the word. The promise was delivered 11 weeks earlier than planned in the form of a 3-pound baby girl named Isla. Both of our girls are living, breathing reminders of just how far we have come. To this day, when I look into the eyes of Emory, I see healing, and when I look into the eyes of Isla, I see joy! My heart was full, my soul was soaring, but there was one area of my life that was still a wreck.

Like a severe cut to the flesh that scars the skin, grief-scarred my physical body.  My joints were stiff from holding on stress and anxiety. I felt weak, brittle, insecure and lacking in physical grace compared to the grace in my soul. With the big brown eyes of my little girls watching my every move I knew it was time for me to put the same effort into healing my body that I had put into healing my heart. My heart was full, my soul was soaring, but my body was still shipwrecked from all the loss.

I wanted a strong body that I could be proud of, one that moved with grace. I wanted my daughters to see me working hard to achieve a goal I set without a fear of failure. So I went online and started hunting for a game plan. I found an online workout called Barre3 and decided to try it, in the safety of my home. This blonde, bright light introduced herself on my television screen as Sadie Lincoln, and although she challenged every muscle I had and a few I didn’t know existed, I wanted to make a point to meet up with Sadie in the comfort of my home each and every day.

Barre3 was just what my body needed. The exercises are a hybrid mix of yoga, Pilates, and ballet-inspired movements. Over time, I noticed the rigidity and tension in my joints started to release. I was getting stronger, and I felt the best I had felt in a long time. All my fears, failures, shame, and regret, had been transformed from the inside and now finally on the outside as well.   

Months had passed and each day I was diligent to meet up with Sadie and her friends. Even though we had never met, the Barre3 instructors on the screen seemed to be my friends now; they encouraged me, challenged me, and strengthened me. It was digital, but it was a community.  I wanted more. I couldn’t shake this feeling that Barre3 was about to become more than my online workout in the comfort of my home.  

What I didn’t expect to find when I set out to heal my body from grief was a new passion and calling to help other people do the same. In July of 2014, my incredible business partner, Andrea Mason, and I opened a Barre3 studio of our own in Tulsa, OK. Today I am a Barre3 instructor and am giving my community what Barre3 gave me at home - physical healing.

Because Barre3 provided my physical healing from the loss of Maddox, I was thrilled with our partnership with a beautiful organization called Every Mother Counts. Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization founded by Christy Turlington Burns after she had a life-threatening complication after delivery of her daughter. She knew she needed to do something to make pregnancy and childbirth safe for all moms and all babies. Every Mother Counts helps provide education, transportation, and supplies all over the world to mothers in need. To think I would have any role in helping other moms safely bring their babies to this world still brings tears to my eyes.  

How incredible this journey has been, and no matter the difficulty behind me or even ahead of me, it has created a hunger for more opportunities to help others. Today, I am humbled by what God has done in my life. Does the pain of losing Maddox still take my breath away? Of course, it does! Was losing Maddox the worst thing that has happened to me? It was the hardest. But today I can say it was the best thing that happened to me because I now have a deeper capacity to love and serve others who also need healing. Beauty for ashes.

Photograph by Abby Rose.

Breakfast in Bed
Cottage Hill Valentines

Happy Valentines weekend! This Valentines is extra sweet for us, but more on that later today. This morning we have a special story from Live View Studios celebrating the small moments. Here is what Brent shared with us:

Love isn’t always found in only the grand and extravagant gestures. Often it’s shown in the simple and ordinary moments of the day, like waking up together and making breakfast with warm sun streaming through the windows. Sharing a late morning snuggle in bed because both of you don’t feel like getting out of bed just yet. Taking time to play together. A kiss from him with a surprise gift. Even in the mundane, love can be nurtured and grown. No matter how small, no kind gesture towards each other is wasted. 

Take every available moment of time together. Find ways to show love to each other throughout each simple daily task. And then each morning, wake up and fall in love all over again. 

Venue, The Bradford :: Hair & Makeup by Perfection by Patricia :: Jewelry provided by Glitz & Love  :: Film Processing & Scans by Photovision 

Santa Barbara Rooftop Rehearsal Dinner
Cottage Hill

I’ve decided that rehearsal dinners are like going back in time to when you were ten years old on Christmas Eve. There is so much joy and excitement wrapped up in that day, and it is truly a time to meditate on the beautiful relationship of two about to become one. These images from Chloe Moore Photography truly capture the excitement of this couple and loved ones.

The beautiful rooftop was chosen over looking downtown Santa Barbara, a place the bride loved visiting as a child, and included touches from the bride and loved ones. The bride and groom were married the following day on their seven year anniversary.

Photography by Chloe Moore Photography :: Venue: Canary Hotel :: Florals by Eileen at Grassroots :: Place Cards from Rifle Paper Co. :: Bride's Dress from Dolce Vita :: Bride's Shoes from Nordstrom :: Bride's Jacket from H&M :: Bride's Purse from Kate Spade 

Winward Family Portraits at the Erich McVey Workshop featuring Ginny Au and Alicia Pyne
Sarah Winward Family Portraits at the Erich McVey Workshop featuring Ginny Au and Alicia Pyne |

The legacy we leave our children doesn’t lie in the grand events of life, but in the simple day-to-day moments. From picking flowers from the garden, or cooking a warm meal, our legacy is being built one joyful moment, one conversation, one boo-boo kissed at a time. 

I love the images Alicia Pyne beautifully captured of this sweet family at the Erich McVey Workshop. I can’t help but think that one day, this little girl will grow to be a woman who loves her husband well, has a spirit of adventure, and is rooted in love and conversations with family. Not because she remembers this specific moment per say, but because these small moments over her lifetime become like a house being built brick by brick.

All images photographed at the Erich McVey Workshop in Elk, California :: Photography by Alicia Pyne :: Design & Styling by Ginny Au :: Hair & Makeup by Mimi and Taylor :: Floral Design by Sarah Winward :: Paper and Calligraphy by Meghan Kay Sadler :: Photo Lab: PhotoVision :: Film Sponsor: Fuji Film :: Table Linens & Rentals: 12th Table :: Venue: Cuffey’s Cove Ranch :: Models: Sarah, David & Ivy Winward

Riverside Honeymoon

As summer quickly approaches, we're looking forward to the warm air, cool drinks and weekend getaways with the ones we love. This editorial by Kristen Lynne provides simple inspiration to enjoy an intimate and effortless honeymoon or romantic escape. We love this simple home and the couple's sweet moments enjoying the river.

Artist Credits: Photography by Kristen Lynne Venue, The Retreat at Cool Spring Stylist, Linda Ha Events Assistant, Aaron Mallory Assistant, Bethany Mallory Models, Jack Knight and Amanda Nell Hair & Makeup by JKW Beauty Wardrobe, Dress from COS and Bathing Suit from J.Crew  Florals by Violet Gardens Floral Film Lab, Richard Photo Lab 

10 Ways to Elevate Your Gift Giving

A little genuine thoughtfulness can go a long way, and this is certainly true with the art of gift-giving...both inside and out. Silver Cup Artist Lauren Jolly recently partnered with gift design studio Memento & Muse to illustrate how you can pour on a little extra TLC this Mother's Day, by presenting that very special woman with a lovely creation before she even opens her gift.

(Just remember to keep it fun! Rather than attempting all of the following tips in one gift wrapping session, Memento & Muse founder Melinda McKee recommends picking three or four tips to try out for starters, then adding in others the next time you have an opportunity.)

Plus, for an easy but extra special finish, Memento & Muse and Sage Paper Co. have combined their talents to offer you a complimentary set of print-and-cut watercolor gift tags! Read on to learn more...


One: Start with a clean, hard work surface.

When real life happens, uncluttered work surfaces can certainly be hard to come by at times. But if your goal is smoothly wrapped gifts with crisp edges, working on a soft bed or carpeted floor isn't going to give you the results you want. Make room on a table or counter, or even a clean hardwood or tile floor, and you'll find it much easier to fold sharp, even creases as you work.

(Nothing spoils a beautiful gift wrapping job like a dirt or food smudge, though, so don't forget to give your work surface a quick wipe-down before setting up!)

Two: Use new gift boxes.

Tempting as it may be to reuse old boxes, trying to wrap paper around worn-out sides and smooshed corners is going to make it harder to get those neat, clean lines. Send your used boxes to the recycling bin, and hunt down some fresh new ones the next time you're at Target or Michaels.

Three: Fold over raw exposed edges of gift wrap.

Folding over raw edges that would otherwise be exposed is one of the best and easiest little tricks to enhance your gift wrapping game. While it might not be explicitly noticed by your recipient, it takes just a few seconds, and will contribute to an overall more polished look.

Four: Make friends with double-sided tape.

It may take a few tries to get accustomed to using tape underneath your paper folds instead of on top of them, but the effect is beautifully flawless. (Just can't get into the double-sided variety? Opt for Scotch's "GiftWrap" tape ~ its satiny finish is clear without being shiny, so it's less noticeable than standard office tape.)

Five: Remember, less is usually more.

When choosing patterned gift wrap, try this trick for a truly elevated look: if you think the pattern would be attractive on a pillow cover or as a framed art print, go for it!

Truth be told, though, few party store or bargain-bin rolls meet that design standard, which is why solid-color gift wrap or kraft paper is an excellent, versatile option to keep on hand. Depending on how you embellish it, solid-color papers can be adapted to just about any style preference and occasion.

And if you do love a good pattern, check out online purveyors of fine paper goods like Rifle andSmock for swoon-worthy designs...just be sure to let the pattern speak for itself, by using simple ribbons/embellishments in contrast.

Six: When using gift bags, opt for fabric rather than paper or plastic.

Fabric bags ~ especially in natural fibers like cotton, silk, jute, and linen ~ offer triple benefits. They have a refined look, they're a quicker gift packaging solution than gift wrap, and they can often be reused for other occasions and purposes.

Seven: Make the vessel part of the gift.

Speaking of reusable items...why not make the container part of the gift itself? As the chic cousin of the everyday gift basket, a well-made storage vessel is an especially attractive way to display a curated gift collection. It usually won't need much in the way of wrapping or adornment beyond a ribbon or gift tag, and your recipient can repurpose it right away. (Just remember to select a fairly shallow storage container, as deep bins will require a lot of extra filler material to keep gift items from getting lost at the bottom.)

Eight: For ribbons and embellishments, avoid plastic ~ look for woven fibers and natural elements instead.

Like with fabric gift bags, natural fiber-based ribbons immediately give a greater sense of elegance than party store synthetic (i.e. plastic) ribbons. And simple squares of soft fabric can make lovely gift wrap, tape or ribbons needed.

For additional embellishments, let Mother Nature inspire you! If your gift-giving schedule allows for a quick turnaround, fresh-cut florals can be a delightful touch; otherwise dried botanicals or even pretty silk flowers can liven up a gift package in an unexpected way.

Nine: Always use sharp scissors to cut fabric ribbon.

Carefully frayed edges can be chic, but raggedy, chopped-up ends? Not so much! Keeping a pair of sharp scissors that are used only for fabric (and never on paper) will ensure you always get clean cuts and a neat finish.

Ten: Add a final personal touch with a gift tag.

Go the extra mile by adding a gift tag to commemorate the occasion or celebrate that special individual. If you can, choose tie-on tags over stickers...there's something beautifully nostalgic and personal about that final hand-tied touch.

For your gifting pleasure this Mother's Day and beyond, please enjoy this hand-painted gift tag printable courtesy of Memento & Muse and Sage Paper Co.! (Click image to download)

Artistic Credits  Location: The Leslie-Alford Mims House Photography: Lauren Jolly Photography Farm Table: Greenhouse Picker Sisters Fresh Florals: Serendipity Designs Nail Services: Paintbar Raleigh Gift Tags: Memento & Muse + Sage Paper Co. Silk Ribbons & Fabric Wrapping: Adorn Gift Wrapping & Styling: Memento & Muse

A Slow Morning by Stephanie Booth
How to Enjoy a Slow Morning |

The weeks go by quickly and often we use the weekends to 'get things done' understandably so. But this weekend we want to challenge you to take it slow, or perhaps, take one morning slow, or just a few minutes to yourself to enjoy the moment. Photographer Stephanie Booth shared her thoughts, and beautiful images, on how she tries to start her mornings slowly and consciously. Read more below.

Society is so fast paced it takes my breath away. I’m connected to my work around the clock, and before I’ve completed my Monday, it’s already Friday. I desperately feel a frenzy in my soul to just slow down, but so often, I push myself to keep going and to keep a pulse on everything in work and society.

But today, as I lean on the counter and listen to the heating kettle of water, I realize that there’s one time of each day that’s sacred. As my husband wraps his arms around my waist and hugs me, I lean back and melt into him and sway with him. There will be plenty to do, but right now, the most important thing is this moment.

Each morning, as the early light breaks on the horizon, I walk downstairs with my puppy and my husband and brew coffee. There’s something therapeutic about the slow process of pouring water through the coffee grounds for each individual cup, talking quietly as the steam rises.

I tried to step away from coffee and drink tea instead, and while I didn’t miss the coffee as much as I thought I might, I missed this slow, thoughtful brewing process. I missed waiting for the kettle to boil and slow dancing with my husband barefoot in our kitchen. I missed the smell of freshly ground beans and I missed carefully measuring the grounds and circulating the water for each cup. And I missed the time I got to just slow down and enjoy the beautiful of an early morning sunrise with the ones I loved most.

Our morning ritual filled with early morning grogginess and a good dose of bedhead has very little to do with guzzling caffeine. This is my time to awaken by slowing down. This is my time to look my husband in the eyes, to curl up on the couch with a steaming mug, and to ask “how are you really doing?”

And this is my time to live in the grace of the slow.

Artistic Credits: Stylist and Photographer, Stephanie and Stephen Booth, Booth Photographics Linens from Sur La Table Coffee by locally roasted by Colectivo Coffee 
Morning reading, Sunday Suppers by Karen Mordecai 

Five Ways to Argue Less About Money featuring Shanna Skidmore
Five Ways to Argue Less About Money in Marriage featuring Shanna Skidmore |

Money isn't always the easiest topic of discussion, but it is something that affects our lives, businesses, and relationships daily. Today we are so thrilled to have business strategist and financial coach Shanna Skidmore to share some tips on having better relationships with money. Read more after the jump.

Did you know that disagreements about money are the leading cause of stress in relationships? According to a CNBC study, 35% of relationships rate money as the leading cause of friction in their relationship. The American Psychology Association released a study that said at least a quarter of all Americans are feeling extreme financial stress. I would guess this statistic goes up when one or both partners are self-employed. According to a poll conducted by, Couples don't just argue about money: they hide transactions from each other. One in 5 Americans in a relationship say they have spent $500 or more and not told their partner, and 6 percent maintain secret accounts or credit card. According to the Huffington Post, half of Americans are spending more than they make. That means every year half of Americans go more and more in debt by living above their means.

Wow! No wonder most Americans dread and avoid the topic of money!

Over the past ten years I have studied money patterns in the realm of small business. You would be amazed to find that many of the things you struggle with, aren’t all that uncommon. Most people are in a similar boat when it comes to money but since this topic is so hush-hush, most feel alone in their struggle. What I’ve also come to learn is that these money woos can be dramatically improved with some very simple steps.

Here are five key steps I’ve learned to having a healthier relationship with money, a healthier relationship, and a more thriving business.

1.     Define what you really want.

A common goal leads to habit change, so get on the same page about your goals. More often than not, women are categorized as the “spender” in the relationship. This can cause a lot of strain when both parties aren’t on the same page about your money goals. Cutting those ingrained spending habits isn’t going to happen overnight, but it is much more likely to happen when you are clear about what you want. Instant gratification is much easier to digest than long-term money goals. So get those big goals on paper and make it a game to start saving for them!

2.     Make room for individual preferences.

Men and women typically spend money on different things. In general men make larger purchases but less frequently (hobbies, trips, etc) while women spend more frequently on less expense items (shoes, clothing, home items, etc). We often try to force our spending preferences on each other, putting more importance on our own preference. However it is important to allow each person to express individual spending preferences without judgment. There has to be a balance. If one party makes the argument that saving is more important than traveling, the other party who values travel over saving will always feel like an unequal voice. It is important to give value to both and make goals with both preferences in mind.

I also recommend having a weekly “allowance” for each person. This allows each party to spend on his or her individual preferences without have to run it by the other person. For instance, I really like grabbing a coffee throughout the week and choose to spend my $20 allowance on coffee or magazines. While my hubs tends to save up his $20 allowance to buy bigger items for his hobbies.

3.     Get clear on expectations.

It is important to know who is paying the bills, who is managing the day to day and what income each person is responsible for contributing. Having these conversations will ease a lot of tension. Unspoken expectations can lead to feelings of guilt and discontentment.

This is especially important if one or both partners are pursuing entrepreneurship. I hear many stories of entrepreneurs who feel guilty for not replacing their former corporate salary with their new business venture. First of all, that is a lot of pressure to put on your new business. Secondly, many of these feelings are unfounded expectations and when discussed is not something the spouse expected at all.

4.     Honor every dollar.

The worst feeling when it comes to your money is looking back and wondering where it all went. One of the best money habits you can implement is taking the time to monthly review where you are spending money and ask the question “is that where we want our money to go?” If it isn’t, change it.

5.     Go on a money date.

Once a month my husband and I make a habit of going out to breakfast and discussing our money goals. We review where we spent the last month, what big expenses we have coming up and name our spending priorities for the upcoming month. We have made this a fun time to talk about dreams and fears and have open conversation about spending money with intention.

As Zig Ziglar says, “Money isn’t everything but it ranks right up there with oxygen”.

Give your relationship, your small business and yourself the space to get comfortable talking about money. You don’t have to be a money person to feel confident and comfortable in the decisions you are making regarding your money. Awareness is the key.

To spending with intention,

Shanna Skidmore

Photography by Haley Sheffield featuring illustrator and floral designer Meredith Mejerle Rush

Unplugged Weekend

Here at Cottage Hill, we believe in thoughtfully connecting with others. Technology can be consuming but making an intentional effort to be present is truly living wholeheartedly.  We are excited to share this shoot that focuses on just that. Kristin of Reveriemade shares a bit about her inspiration for this shoot. 

"Joy is our lifelong pursuit.  It’s our biggest aspiration and biggest mystery, most of us spending a lifetime in search of it.  

In this pursuit of joy, we experience the ebb and flow of happiness and sadness, each one a point of reference allowing us to appreciate fully the other.  Neither of these have the power to alter the homeostasis of absolute joy.  Joy is omnipresent.  It’s unshakeable, and it’s freely available to all of us.  So how do we get there?  

In our culture of instant gratification, most of us fall back into a pursuit of happiness.  We forego long-term joy for something that is quickly attainable.  We upgrade our wardrobe, we furnish our homes with pretty things, and then we turn to social media to fool others-- and ourselves-- into thinking that we’ve found joy.  But instead, all we’ve created is comparison; the comparison of our lives to others.  The comparison of our ideal lives to our real lives.  All of us fall, and nobody wins.  

But absolute joy is so much more than a fleeting feeling.  Joy is a choice.  It was not yesterday, nor is it tomorrow; it’s the here and now.  Joy is.  

Joy is every bite we savor at the table, away from the distraction of television.  It’s the morning run without an iPod, the rhythmic sound of strides and breaths as the only sound.  It’s the laughs we share with friends in person, without the distraction of cell phones.  

In our final days, we’ll remember most vividly the moments in which we were fully present in joy.  We were created for community, and we were created to live joyfully.  As quickly as we can learn to be still-- to be fully present-- joy is just as quickly found."

Concept, styling and floral design by Reveriemade :: Photography by Love & Light Photographs :: Cinematography by Between Sleep & Awake :: Calligraphy kits, pillows, aprons & mugs by  Parris Chic Boutique :: Location at Content & Co. :: Models Amy Hickey, Alexandra McMahon, Ashley McMahon, Mekina Saylor, Alyssa Thiel

Patio Brunch

What do you have planned for your weekend? We think we are going to add gardening and brunch to our list. Even if you don't have a large backyard it doesn't mean you should miss out on working on your green thumb. Herbs and potted flowers are perfect for a small patio and will make for the perfect place to enjoy brunch. Not sure where to start? South facing patios are great for herbs and flowers that require full sun like lavender, rosemary, and thyme. For north facing windows try mint and parsley. The best part? Grab some fresh fruit, cheese, and bread and head out for brunch perfumed with herbs. Nibbling on your hard work is recommended. 

Get more ideas for creating a patio garden and brunch from Dana Fernandez Photography, Maggie of  Bramble and Bee, and Catherine of Two Be Wed below! 

Photography by Dana Fernandez Photography :: Film Lab The FIND Lab :: Styling & Design by Catherine Duffin from Two Be Wed :: Florals and Greenery by Bramble and Bee :: Makeup and Hair by Hey Lovely Makeup :: Venue Gardens of River Oaks :: Cheese, Bread, and Accompaniments by Houston Dairymaids :: Chairs and Table and Table Linen by Aztec Events and Tents :: Salt Cellar by Williams Sonoma :: Cheese Board by Sur La Table :: Glassware and Plates by Crate and Barrel:: Flatware and Napkins by World Market