Laurel Highlands Portrait Session: Brit + Izzy

I have been waiting quite a long time to get this little peanut in front of my camera and I am so glad that I finally had the opportunity over Memorial Day Weekend! Ya’ll, Meet Izzy and her Mama, Brit!

You would never know it by looking at her now, but this little pumpkin came into the world when her Mama was only 32 weeks along. After spending close to 50 days in the NICU, Isabella Nicole came home and has been thriving ever since! She just turned 1 back in January and has been walking and running ever since!

Brit reached out when she heard about our Memorial Day Weekend Minis and booked a Mommy + Me session with her sweet little lady! She had the cutest vision in mind too! She wanted to dress Izzy in a tulle maxi skirt and flower crown. Talk about a dream come true session!

We met at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania shortly after a storm hit the area and the lighting was just perfect! Izzy’s curls wrapped ever so tenderly around her sweetheart rose crown and Mama’s lavender and pink dress was the perfect compliment to her baby girl’s mauve colored lace top!

Did I mention that Isabella brought her A-game?! Seriously, she is the happiest baby ever and had so many perfect smiles for our session! It was hard to choose which ones to put in their gallery!

Once the humidity kicked into high gear, I suggested we all take a short break in the air conditioned cars.¬† I am a big believer in not pushing the little ones and I was so glad that Brit followed my lead on this. Once they start to show signs of being “done”, I listen and usually, the little ones calm down, Mom can check her make-up and hair and then we’re back at it like we never even took the break. Once we got a little water and some cool air, Mama, Baby + the super preggo photographer were all smiles!

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I had so much fun at this session and I am so thankful that Brit trusted me to photograph this sweet memory for her family! This was just Part One though! Stay tuned for a behind the scenes look at Part Two, when my bestie, Emily, and her newborn babe, Liam, joined these lovely gals for a few family photos!

If you would like to book your unique Portrait Session with me, email therustienailhead@gmail.com to discuss pricing, packaging and to book! I cannot wait to see what you have in mind!

 

Baby Henschel: It’s a BOY!

GUYS!!! My best friend is having a BABY!!! What seems like forever ago, this girl, my girl, Emily freaking Henschel sent us (baby’s aunts/BFFS4LYFE) the best group text ever, a teeny weeny sonogram photo letting us know that he or she would be making their arrival this coming spring. After years of prayers and wishes, these 2 are finally about to become a 3.

Emily and I go wayyyy back. Like elementary school days. And man oh man has it been a ride. As soon as she said she was preggo, I planned a trip home so I could take these photos. This is seriously like dream come true stuff right here. Never in my life did I think that I would the one documenting their baby announcement but wow. Look at my best friend. She is seriously glowing guys. No lie, I cried big , wet soppy tears through most of the editing. I’m just so stupid happy for these guys.

We met at Winnie Palmer Nature Reserve because these fools got married at Saint Vincent and it only seemed right to continue the celebration in our hometown! It was a dreary, wet and cold day and of course, the pregnant lady was in search of a restroom, so we decided to move fast. From the beautiful red barn near the front entrance to a garden area above the fields, we were racing our way all over the property trying to soak up the last little bit of sunlight. The result was these might just be my most favorite collection of images.

“For this child , we have prayed.” 1 Samuel 1.27

Let’s take a little walk down memory lane. Funny but true story. We got engaged on the same day and didn’t even know it was happening. She was in PA, I was in TX and our beaus hadn’t told each other their plans so neither of us knew for a few days!! Somehow we even managed to go dress shopping a few weeks later! But then, the best thing happened, we got to stands beside each other on our wedding days and that is something that I am forever thankful for. Emmy has been my rock for close to 15 years now and I can’t tell you the joy it brings me to see her wish of becoming a mother come true. She even lets me rub her belly guys!!

Chad, on the other hand, is one tough cookie. As 1 Assistant Fire Chief of Pleasant Unity Fire Department, Chad is a man who bravely faces any and all obstacles head on. He’s a guy who loves riding ATVS and hanging out with this buddies at the firehouse. I never would have expected him to be joyful about taking photos. Heck, my husband hates having his portrait taken and I still force him to do Christmas cards year after year. But I gotta say, Chad wasn’t just a trooper, he was pumped. Probably being able to relax around me helped but Chad was so excited. He could have cared less about the photos. He is just so excited to bring this baby into the world and you can see it all over his face. I don’t think I have ever seen him smile so much! I look forward to seeing Chad be this little baby’s father!

What’s left to say other than CONGRATULATIONS EMILY & CHAD! I am so pumped to meet this little nugget and just love on them! Now, please send me weekly fruit size updates and belly pics. ūüôā

 

SURPRISE REVEAL/BOOM: The results of the gender reveal are in and the Henschel’s will welcome a Baby BOY in April of 2018!!! These 2 celebrated with friends and family over the weekend!

Travel Guide: Lake Murray & Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Hey guys! It’s been awhile since I put out a Travel Guide so I figured I would let you in on our mini sort-of staycation in Ardmore, OK. Just a little under 2 hours north of Dallas-Fort Worth, this spot would serve as our anniversary getaway (3 Years Y’all). Mr. Norris and I recently made our way into Okie country to check out the scene at Lake Murray and boy am I glad we did. With its’ Caribbean-like waters and newly-renovated cabins, we felt like we had escaped to our own private oasis.

After settling into our cabin, we made our way down to the docks to sign up for the sunset cruise that evening. For $12, this seemed like an easy excuse to get out on the water. After feeding a few carp and one koi fish from the docks, we made a point to walk around the resort property. Cozied up to the shoreline is the 28 million dollar recently renovated resort. It has clean lines, an industrial feel and the landscaping makes the property stand out in all the right ways. This would be a fantastic setting for a wedding or even a family shindig!

After heading to a swim beach (Marina Beach) to toss the football around and listen to a little Bluegrass on the Beats, we set up our camp for the night and headed out to grab a quick bite before the boat trip. Every search kept leading us back to Cafe Alley and what a treat. The service was perfect and the setting was in this restored warehouse full of rustic charm. The staff had great recommendations and the manager even stopped by our table to make sure we enjoyed our meals.

I had the Cook Shack Chicken with Mashed Potatoes and Iron Skillet Cornbread….ummm let’s just say that delicious is an understatement. Russ had the Mustard Crusted Pork Chop with Apple Onion Compote and the Mac n Cheese. We left with a piece of the famous Carrot Cake to have by the fire later that night. It was smothered in candied pecans and I am still thinking about it. ¬†Here’s a look at their dinner menu.

We made it back just in time for our Sunset Cruise with Lake Murray Watersports. Larry, our driver and owner of the recreation facility near the resort, gave us an inside look at the lake that was created in the 1930s. His establishment, which is located a short walk from the resort, is open to any and everyone looking to get out on the water. You can rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis or sign up for a round of mini golf. For a small fee, the kiddos can go jump on trampolines or take a ride down the slide in the bay.

Larry took us out on the crystal clear water for about an hour and half . We had the opportunity to view Tucker Tower, a geological museum, and the Nature Center. We got a first hand look at Lake Murray’s famous “floating cabins” and Larry even took us for a short ride around the marina to check out some of the fun houseboats that are docked there. We ended our ride on the pontoon boat by watching the red sun set over the west end of the lake. After stoking the campfire and then shortly thereafter devouring the carrot¬†cake, we decided to hit the hay!

Day Two, we woke up bright and early and started en route to nearby Davis, Oklahoma. Our plan was to spend the day at a natural attraction known as Turner Falls. Just a short 20 minute drive north of Ardmore, this leg of our journey was a piece of cake.

After winding through a plethora of roads into¬†what can only be described as a¬†canyon of sorts, we made it to our destination. After parking the car, we started our trek to Dr. Collings’ Rock Castle. Built in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains during the Great Depression, this castle is believed to have been part of a bigger plan for a dude ranch¬† but due to the sign of the times, the building has remained an abandoned¬†tourist attraction.

After snapping a few photos of the castle, we made our way down to the 77 foot waterfall that stems from Honey Creek! It was a sight to see from far away but as we made our way closer, I was in awe. How could I have not known about this place? I could only imagine how beautiful it must be in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors. We swam for a long while before deciding to find a spot to settle down for lunch. We had packed sandwiches and lemonade for a small picnic by a creek though there were lots of options for food to purchase on the property.

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After lunch, we jumped in the car and decided to take a ride around the campgrounds. We wanted to see the aerial view of the falls and maybe even hike a few trails. We headed out on Butterfly Road and we managed to get a birds eye view of the stream system that feeds into the waterfall and the aerial view of the water going over the edge of the rock face. There were caves and rocked paths that would make for the perfect engagement shoot. Just saying!

Before we headed back in the direction of Dallas-Fort Worth, we snuck in some time at the Blue Hole.  There were slides, diving boards and a huge swimming hole for everyone who was hanging in the park to enjoy! I am happy to sat that our $12 admission fee was well worth it!

Our last stop was on our way out of the canyon. We made it to the overlook to grab a few pictures before I realized that people were zip lining over the falls. How neat, right? Has to be expensive, right? Nope, for $12, I braved the ridiculous heights for an amazing view of this part of south-central Oklahoma. My stomach felt like it was in my throat but it was totally worth it. Kind of like a rollercoaster.

After hanging hundreds of feet in the air, we jumped in the car and began our trek back to Dallas-Fort Worth. We stopped at a QuikTrip on the way and grabbed ourselves a few Red Box movies to enjoy on the couch later that night.

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It really was the perfect getaway. We got to get out of town for a few days and make it back in time to throw our¬†laundry in the washer, order some pizza and relax on the couch! Watching the sun set over the plains of Oklahoma during our drive back wasn’t half bad either! We are really looking forward to heading back here in the fall! Stay tuned!

Guess what guys? In just a few short days, Russell and I are headed out on another adventure. This time we are heading to Yellowstone National Park! If you have got recommendations or suggestions, please feel free to comment below! Don’t forget to check back for more Travel Updates!

Garden Party with the Foley Sisters

Hey guys! I am just getting back from another whirlwind vacation home to the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania and I am so excited to share a few sneak peeks of the Portrait Sessions that I crammed in during my visit. My first session was a long overdue play date with my younger cousins, Kaylee and Ryan! Their Momma is my first cousin and we have been trying to work her family into my books for months now!

We decided to meet at one of our family’s favorite restaurants, Rizzo’s Malabar Inn. In fact, Russell and I had our Rehearsal Dinner here. Settled into¬†the quaint, country farming community of Crabtree, Rizzo’s has grown and evolved over the last 75 years from a small sub shop during the coal mining days into a fine-dining establishment with a massive banquet hall and outdoor patio!

After initialing launching Bar Rizzi, the company chose to adapt the space to fit the needs of their clientele. They turned the Bar into a Banquet Hall. Weddings, company meetings, baby showers and many other events have graced the adjacent ballrooms but the staff still felt like something was missing. Just this year, Rizzo’s chose to add on an outdoor ceremony site, a gorgeous water feature and they even added a Fireworks Package for those who book the space.

Because these little girls have a Daddy with a major hookup at Rizzo’s (He’s one of the longtime chefs!), we were able to sneak out onto the property and use this location as our shoot site! I must say, Rizzo’s has done a fantastic job with the space! The pergola is simply decorated with Boston Ferns and the water feature was exquisitely designed making this site a perfect backdrop!

We spent the first half of the morning frolicking through the freshly planted flowers and practicing our best dance moves! Kaylee was her usual self; quiet, reserved yet silly and polite at the same time. From the time that she was little, she was always good at taking direction and this shoot would be no exception. She patiently waited for instruction and followed them meticulously. You could tell that she has come into herself over the years. She knew which side was her “best” side and which smile was her “best” smile. She has become quite the little lady and I am so proud of her for being so responsible all the while maintaining her childlike wonder!

Ryan, on the other hand, is Kaylee’s opposite. She is crazy and wild and has a short attention span. I guess that’s the way it goes with sisters. Ryan is constantly moving. Whether she is exploring a new place¬†or telling a story, there are always a lot of ideas running through her little mind. She told me all about her summer plans and how NOT excited she was to go back to school in the fall.¬† Ryan is a handful, in the best of ways. Even when she was a baby, she could find a way to keep the whole family in stitches. We are kindred spirits in that sense and I am so happy to see that someone else on the Miller side of the family,¬†besides me,¬†got the “wildchild” gene.

We ended our shoot by jumping in the water. I had promised them in the beginning that if they were good, I would let them get dirty and play in the water feature. Both girls were so excited when I told them it was time to make “Martha Washington” hair! They built houses with the rocks they¬†found in the riverbed and even tried to climb into the massive water bowls at the base of the fountain. We ended the shoot by drying them off and giving them both their first photography lesson. I let each of them have a turn at taking a few photos! I loved getting to spend some time with my baby cousins and I look forward to seeing them every time I come back to visit!

For more information on this location or how to book your next event at Rizzo’s, head to www.rizzosmalabarinn.com. And for information on how to book your Portrait Session or to learn about our Pennsylvania Travel Dates, shoot me an email at therustienailhead@gmail.com.