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The Dreamer and the Doer

People tell us quite often that they could never work with their spouse the way that Jeff and I do. They would kill each other, they say (usually laughing). While I understand where their comments are stemming from, I feel lucky that I don’t feel the same way. Jeff and I work together which means that we spend an unbelievable amount of time together, and we like it that way. We like it, because we’re good at it. When Jeff and I put our heads together, we can conquer mountains (or at least a wedding party with fourteen groomsmen). But the only…

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Lessons from Around the Farmhouse Table

We moved from the suburbs a year ago to our ‘new-to-us’ old house in our 1950′s neighborhood, and I love it more than I can describe. The simple backyard, the old doors, the creaky floors, and the colorful cabinets all bring a smile to my heart. I am deeply satisfied and grateful to live here and to be here. To be just a four minute scooter ride away from our studio, and to have space for a vegetable garden on the sides of the house. To host dinner for 20 people on a whim, and to devour good food and great wine…

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The Extreme Introvert’s Afternoon

My favorite memories from my travels over the years have been my ‘introvert afternoons’, when I get to steal away and walk around a beautiful neighborhood in a famed world city by myself with earbuds in – nowhere in particular to go – and ending up at a cafe with a cup of cafe con leche, a creamy cappuccino, or a buttery espresso. San Francisco, Paris, Granada, Berlin, Rome, Florence, Venice – I’ve wandered them all. And lately I’ve been dreaming about going to New York City for two weeks for this very reason. How magical would it be to…

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The Dinner Table is Set

For years, I felt like I couldn’t just pull up a chair to the dinner table of life. Every time the gourmet meal would be set out to enjoy, and the invitation sent for all to come, sit, and join in on the feast, everyone else strolled up with confidence. Everyone else pulled up a chair and sat with anticipation. Everyone else dug into the meal. I, however, would run to the bathroom at the sounding of the dinner bell so that I could touch up my mascara, run some fingers through my hair, and adjust my outfit. Was it the…

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Thank You Will Never Be Enough

On Friday – on Valentine’s Day – Jeff and I received an email from one of our past brides, Jennifer. She has always been a sweetheart along with her now husband, Michael, but this note made my weekend. Maybe my year. The subject read, “Thank You Will Never Be Enough.” With Jennifer and Michael’s permission, her note is posted below along with the image that she attached to her email regarding Michael’s sweet Grandmother, Armida Flores. “Dear Erin and Jeff, I have been trying to write this letter to you for the last few weeks in my head and I think…

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The Stolen Journal

I started my first journal in the seventh grade. It was a wide-ruled yellow notebook leftover from sixth grade english. Every night in my blue flannel pajamas, hair pulled back and zit cream on my face, I would dump my pre-teen soul onto it’s spiral bound pages, dishing all of the latest middle school gossip and lining the margins with doodles that I learned from the cool kids in class – the pre-digital era emoticons of my junior high days. I wrote about the best and worst moments of my daily life. Nothing in between. As a twelve year-old, there…

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Fullness, Togetherness, and Why I Love/Hate Starbucks

Jeff and I live in an area of town that is chock full of entrepreneurs and TONS of stay at home parents. Why does this matter? Oh it matters. Have you ever been to my closest Starbucks? Lemme ‘splain. We moved to our neighborhood three and a half years ago, a month after I left my day job to work on our photography business full-time. The second the movers left, I grabbed my laptop and strutted out the door to go work at our local Starbucks for the very first time. After a year of working in a corporate office…

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Henri Nowen on The Greatest Trap in Our Lives

“Over the years, I have come to realize that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity, or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity, and power can indeed present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity, and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left…

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They Steal Your Leather Boots Don’t They?

I’m a nester. A mole. I love to burrow into my comfortable, safe spaces that I create around me, knowing that I’m in control. Because when I’m in control, things will always be the same. And same is safe. But Jeff … well… Jeff has the confidence of a Honey Badger. He just don’t care. He has this relentless ocean of self-assurance that makes what little confidence I have look like one of those smelly puddles on the street next to the sidewalk – everybody avoids it and nobody wants to talk about what’s in it. We got these free…

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The Last Thing I Never Knew I Needed

Yesterday, Jeff and I had some work to do (on a Sunday I know – we can normally take the whole day off but there were pressing deadlines), and my mind was everywhere but where it needed to be. My brains were in a fog – I couldn’t think, I couldn’t focus, and I wasn’t getting any work done. I slogged through the two red hot must-get-done-now items on my to-do list and then I wandered around the house, grabbed a swiffer and vaccuum and began working on the floors. But ten minutes later, I found my foggy self standing…

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Chaos, Gracie, and Abandonment Issues

I don’t know what we’re gonna do when we have kids. They’re gonna have the worst abandonment issues… October. It’s our busiest time of year with weddings, travel, and speaking, so life right now is chaos. Controlled, organized, systematized, non-stop chaos. Monday the 17th, we hopped on a red-eye flight that began an entire month of non-stop travel. We flew to Indiana to visit Jeff’s brother Dan for the week and to speak to a group of photographers at the Indianapolis PUG. At the end of the trip, after four hours of sleep, we hopped on a crack-of-dawn flight back…

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It’s Always Been There

I have spent the majority of my life feverishly covering up the fact that I am not a perfect person. And you know what the terrible irony is? The fact that I am imperfect is completely obvious to everybody out there. You don’t even have to meet me face to face to see that I am an insecure, imperfect person with lots of issues. I’m sure you can feel it right here on the blog in my writing. It’s everywhere. That’s the problem with insecurity. The more we try to cover it up, the more obvious it becomes. As a…

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Life is Good, Now That I Do

This week we photographed a wedding, a portrait session, and a two day photo shoot for Exquisite Weddings Magazine. Yesterday we flew into Chicago for a beautiful wedding that’s happening later today. Tomorrow we’re hanging out one on one with a lovely photographer and then we’re speaking to the Chicago PUG and the South Bend PUG. That will bring us to Tuesday. When we get home on Wednesday, we have an engagement session and a family session, and then a fabulous wedding next Saturday. In the life of a photographer, busy is good. And even though we’re in the midst…

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Lessons From Salt Fish and Fried Bananas

It was a plate mounded with beans and brown rice, a fried banana, a scoop of what looked like potato salad but turned out to be salt fish, two thin chicken drumsticks, and some sort of fruit that had the consistency of bread and tasted like a crumbly, half-cooked yam. I didn’t eat it.  Actually, I took one bite and slowly spit it back into my napkin when the shop owner wasn’t looking. I love traveling. There’s nothing like showing up hot and sweaty at a random roadside building that looks like it’s supposed to be a restaurant, asking for…

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Best Monday Ever

I woke up with a horrible case of the Cranky Pants on Monday morning. And like most Cranky-Pants syndromes, it was for absolutely no reason. Jeff and I have learned to communicate in very special ways and we’ve figured out that when I wake up a little *eh-hem* off-kilter that I just need to let him know. That’s it. I just need to say right away that I’m not feeling in a very happy mood, and then I check myself into a Starbucks for the rest of the day and just write about it. So as I was rolling out…

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The Boots That Made Me Swear

It’s the only time that I’ve ever swore in front of my mother-in-law – at least I’m pretty sure it was. It all took place last summer, after a really crazy month of shooting and traveling. Of stressing out about the messy house. Of laundry. Of album designs. Of blog posts and workflows. It was after planning Jeff’s birthday party. Of coordinating every detail, gathering RSVPs, ordering the food, cleaning the endless mess that is our house, and then – after weeks of planning ahead so that I wouldn’t be late with anything – being late to our very own…

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Don’t Drink That, It’s Bacteria Infested

I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about dreams lately, but to be honest, that’s just kinda where I am. I’m in the middle of forcing myself to dream BIG. And it scares me to death. Dreaming big is scary and painful and thrilling all at the same time. I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart, and that’s exactly who I am. The faint hearted. I have this overly rational mind that takes pessimism to a whole new level. When it comes to big dreams, the glass is always half empty. With a huge crack in it….

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Clearing The Air

His hand reached across the center console and covered mine. As he wrapped his fingers between my thumb and index finger and slowed to a stop at the red light, my chest tightened into a million lumps. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t think that big. There was just so much risk involved. What if fail? What if I don’t have what it takes? These are legitimate fears, I argued. Yes, he replied. They are. But in reality, you’re really only scared of one thing. And I knew exactly what he was talking about. After being around each other almost…

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Sweet and Sour, Edition VI | You Too?

To me, the most powerful words in the English language are “me too.” They mean that I’m not alone. That I’m not entirely crazy. That I’m ok, and that I can survive. That in so many ways, I’m completely normal. So whatever it is that you may be feeling right now, I’m pretty sure I’ve felt it too. And every time I knock my head against the keyboard, I have to remember that others are probably doing the same thing all across the internet. In a world that is so connected, it’s easy to feel more alone than ever, particularly…

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Sweet and Sour, Edition V
R.I.P. October

I can’t believe October is over. October is my favorite month of the year. Nothing feels fresher or more vibrant than a crisp fall day, even in a place like San Diego where the seasons don’t actually, well, happen sometimes. October is when I get to dig into the heart of the year. We’re deep into the story of 2010 now – we’re harvesting all of the newness from the spring and we’re settling down from the joys of summer. I love looking forward to the boatload of holidays that are on the horizon, because with those holidays come friends,…

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Sweet and Sour, Edition IV | Stripping the Layers

A huge benefit to all of these plane flights that Jeff and I have found ourselves on lately is the enormous amount of hours I am able to spend disconnected from 3G and internet. So I am left to occupy my time with a handful of hobbies – drooling on Jeff’s shoulder while I catch up on my four hours of sleep from the night before, writing, listening to NPR podcasts, munching peanuts, wiping drool off of Jeff’s brand new shirts, and reading. Let’s forget those other hobbies and concentrate on reading, shall we? Alrighty then. I finished another book…

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Sweet and Sour | Edition III

I feel disappointed dear bloggy blog. It’s been one of those weeks… There really isn’t a big reason for it. People close to us have made comments – nothing terrible, but enough for my mind to shift into overdrive with overanalyzing. We received some news that made us feel discouraged. It should have felt like good news, but for some odd reason, it just didn’t. We’re tired. We haven’t slept well due to stress and jetlag. We caught colds… It’s just been one of those weeks. I remember hearing a saying back in college. When you’re feeling down or cranky,…

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Just Like I Had Planned

Does anyone remember when Jeff and I were late to our very own dinner party? That was at our house? With guests we invited? Well folks, I think I’ve officially topped that one. I was actually late to my husband’s birthday party a few weeks ago and I was the one throwing it. Here’s the story: When Jeff asked if I could throw him a birthday party for his 29th birthday, I was DELIGHTED. Immediately, the over-achieving hostess in me got out my checklist and started gleefully writing down all of the things that I was going to be able…

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Sweet and Sour | Edition II

I need to be alone sometimes. That’s simply the truth of it. A vacation to me can be a romantic resort on a faraway beach with my hubby, hanging out with a friend for an afternoon, or a week by myself cleaning our wreck of a household. Option three was last week. The first six months of this year have been absolutely crazy, simply because we were gone for four of them. But the thing that boggles my mind (which isn’t hard to do) is that even though we were hardly ever here, the house still accumulated more junk than…

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Sweet & Sour | Edition I

I’m not gonna lie. Being a wedding photographer when I’m a naturally shy introvert can be pretty tough. I feel, probably like many of you that are reading this right now, that this job is much easier for outgoing extroverts. As if I’m at a disadvantage because of my personality.  As if there is an extra hill (or mountain depending on who you are) that I have to overcome in order to be just as good as my counterparts, much less become better. And I think it’s true. Every bit of it. I do have to work harder at what…

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Sweet and Sour | The Beginning

My hubby is a genius. And no he didn’t just tap into my WordPress account and write that statement. I totally did it myself – no prompting, no promise of bubble baths and cupcakes, no Anthro shopping allowances. Nada. Because he totally is a certifiable genius. He has finally figured out a way to get me out of my own head. Let me explain… If you’ve met me in person – especially if you happened to meet me in a party or large get-together with a lot of people milling around that I don’t know – you probably noticed that…

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The Life Tornado

I’m in the middle of one of those life tornadoes. I feel like everything is swirling around me, uncontrollably, but in an organized cyclone shaped fashion. With the business, emails, phone calls, shoots, laundry, packing and unpacking, petting Gracie, cleaning the house, and eating and sleeping, it feels a little crazy at Casa de Youngren. A little too crazy. In fact, it was right before we left for Costa Rica that I realized that it was time for dinner and that I should have started dinner about an hour earlier because it had to go in the oven and like…

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It's been two weeks

It’s been exactly two weeks since my last blog post. When I read that out loud, I feel a mixture of gentle relief and slight nausea. This is the longest gap of time with no posts on this blog since I can remember (which really isn’t that far back – I blame the humidity). Two weeks. A part of me is tied up in hysterical, stressed out knots. The other part of me wants to award me a medal. Which would be a good thing except that the medal would be for “Most Neglected Blog in 2010.” Ho boy. Rewind…

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Every Other Kicked-Out Tuesday

Every other Tuesday I get kicked out of our house and it gets flooded with men. Jeff is a part of a men’s bible study/barbecue night/kegerator “connoisseur” meeting that takes place at our house every other Tuesday. So naturally, I’m banned. Which doesn’t bother me. Not that spending an evening barbecuing and drinking Rag Top Red from the tap isn’t my idea of a good time (because it definitely is), I just know how important guys nights are. And I have come to realize how precious every other kicked-out-Tuesdays are. There’s something a little desperate about getting kicked out of…

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Diary of a Spin Class

About a year ago I started taking spin classes (otherwise known as stationary cycling), but I took a break from it when I switched gyms about six months ago. Over the past month, I’ve started to take classes again twice a week, but getting back into such an intense workout is tough to say the least. I realized the other day that the class is as much a mental exercise as it is physical, but I had to laugh when I actually started writing down the thoughts that go through my head during a class. So I thought I would…

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