Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why photography "clicks" with me

OK, sorry for the cheesy title. I had to do it! 

So, one of the things I love about my bread-and-butter occupation is the ability to learn new things and grow personally and professionally by cross-training in many different fields. On someone else's dime, at that!

I once joked to my coworkers about being "multi-talented" (Swear I wasn't being big-headed...What I REALLY meant was that I was a jack-of-all-trades and dabble in so many things. Multi-hobbied is more like it. Needless to say, they'll never let me live that one down!)

But really, I've always been a student of life...loving to learn, being engrossed and mesmerized by learning something new. I'll find myself Googling and Wikipedia-ing into the night on random subjects, just for the sheer joy of knowledge.

So, naturally, when I took on my writing job, I would always find myself tinkering in our office photography studio–eager to edit, scan negatives, shoot mundane stuff just for something different, new and exciting to do. Our head photographer is an amazing mentor...patiently teaching me, answering my dumb questions, telling wild tales of his days as a newspaper journalist. So as I learned and grew, he brought me along to bigger shoots and eventually to a photography conference called Texas School of Professional Photography last May.

Now, it is called SCHOOL for a reason and I'm forever learning by all means. I'm kind of the oddball of my class...not pursuing a photography career, but out of natural curiosity NEEDING to know all I can about it. But, wow, last year was an incredible learning experience. You can read about that here.

I think I mostly drank in the experience of being surrounded by so many creative and talented individuals. Some old pros that know the business inside and out, and motivated young photographers trying to rise above a saturated market. I was just along for the ride. :) Always the journalist, I just found myself talking with so many interesting people. Telling someone's story through a photograph is so intriguing to me.

Being in that environment really makes you think about taking a leap of faith and following your passion over a paycheck. I made forever friends–laughed, cried, felt deeply–and mostly found myself exhilarated and refreshed.

I'm still trying to find where it is that photography fits into my little world. Travel writer who just happens to take great images, perhaps? Exploring the world and telling the story of the beautiful souls in this life? Sharing pretty things here and hopefully inspiring others as they've inspired me? Time will tell, but it's the relationship aspect that I really love about it.

I'll be sure to update next week...if I find time between all the fun! Cheers to whatever your passion...and following it fearlessly.

XOXO Kayli

Friday, April 20, 2012

Warrenton | Round Top Antique Days

The only thing I love more than going to the family ranch in Central Texas is going when the Warrenton/ Round Top Antiques Fair is in town! The Ranch is only 15 miles away from this junk-seeker's paradise that looks like it just popped up in the middle of a bluebonnet field. Friendly folks, one-of-a-kind finds and inspiration, to boot. And, lots of boots at that!

Some of my favorite scores were a funky olive 50's chair which I'll make a slipcover for soon, a couple shabby end tables that just need a little love and a can of paint, and some architectural details I'll turn into art! Always such fun to hunt for that perfect piece that speaks to you. Had a great time with my fabulous in-laws and enjoy some much-needed down time in God's Country!

Here are some of my faves from the weekend:

Me and my pickin' crew!
A little somethin' spunky I picked up from Misfit Mollies, a few gals from Wichita Falls.

Be still my gypsy heart! The coolest vendors post up in these cuties for the week
Shabby Chic chalk painted furniture while you wait? Yes, please!

These boots were made for walkin'

This cutie became my best friend :)

Oh so pretty lacy dresses

We have arrived!

World-famous Royer's Cafe where we have to-die-for apple pie!
Vintage camera collection

I'll take it all!
Love this jewelry display with vintage sheet music background.

AKA my house.

Me shopping for some vintage prom dresses!

 If you've never been, I implore you to pack your bags, grab your boots and hit the pavement for some serious inspiration and a good old-fashioned fun time in Texas! Planning a trip for my girlfriends in October for the biannual weekend of fun! For more information, visit!

Til next time, friends,


Thursday, April 12, 2012

A love letter to New Orleans

It is quite amazing what a quick trip will do for your soul. If you're like me, you know that once a little wanderlust creeps into your mind, there is only one solution; until you get out and have an adventure, you won't be able to shake it!

I had the perfect girls trip to New Orleans a couple weeks ago. It was so refreshing and fun, full of delirious road trip quotes, tons of laughs, crazy good food and the thrill of a new city.

So, I thought I would enjoy New Orleans, but I didn't know I would fall head over heels in love with it. The city is so vibrant, robust with culture and history, and oozing with charm. I met the most friendly people, and everyone kept thanking us for visiting their city. New Orleans gave me a big bear hug and I must have happily gained 10 lbs. from all the soul food. My soul is indeed rejuvenated!

I'm not the type to plan a trip. I like to go where the breeze blows and see what kind of adventure I can get into. So when I was prompted with the task to plan this girls trip for my best friend's bachelorette party, I was a little scared. It happened to be the first weekend of Spring Break and the Final Four basketball tournament was held there that week, so hotel prices were higher than normal. Also Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Pitt were hosting a fundraiser (which made for fun celebrity stalking)

I took my chances and did a name-your-price blind purchase type thing with Priceline and it totally paid off. We stayed at the Bienville House on Decatur Street. Under $200 and close to EVERYTHING. No cabs, all walking. Charming, charming, charming. It had a beautiful courtyard and heated saltwater pool. It was in a very cute area. In fact, the entire trip, I never felt unsafe. That's not to say you shouldn't be careful, but I had heard cautionary tales making me think the town would be full of shady folks. Not at all true!!

We arrived on a Friday evening and Bourbon Street was hoppin'. My bride is not a partier, but the street was so alive and interesting that we hit it up first. We met some firefighters from Alaska (apparently there are a ton of fires in Alaska...who knew?) and they invited us up to a balcony overlooking Bourbon and let us throw a never-ending supply of Mardi Gras beads. It was a fun perspective, and we launched our fair share of booty-shakin' contests to earn the beads from us! Ha! What happens our Bourbon Street... :)

We began the next morning with a fabulous brunch buffet at The Court of Two Sisters. We sat beneath a fragrant canopy of wisteria and listened to live jazz on the was absolutely picturesque. It was a bit pricey but it was the best buffet I had ever had. Eggs benedict, andouille sausage, cheesy shrimp and grits, fresh fruit salad, and fresh peach bellinis....a hangover's best friend. :)

From there, we stopped in and looked at inspiring local artwork and shopped in the French Quarter. We decided to take the Green Trolley down St. Charles to look at the Antebellum mansions. I have never seen so many gorgeous homes in one stretch! We were all daydreaming about spending lazy spring days on those wrap-around porches. We got to the end and were famished. Here's a tip: ask the locals where to eat, they won't steer you wrong. Alex the trolley driver recommended The Camellia Grill just around the corner. He said the line would be long, but it will be worth it. Boy, was he right!

You've got to know when the line is out the door and locals are just grabbing lunch there, you've found a special place. The Camellia Grill is an old-school diner built in 1942. You pull up a barstool after a long but entertaining wait and the amazing and hilarious waitstaff make you feel like you're one big family. Leon will give you a 'fist bump' and sing "Goin to the Chapel" to you and tell you to "stay beautiful." Do yourself a favor....go to through the kitchen toward the bathroom. We met Ronald, the world-famous pie maker, and he let us taste test the most amazing chocolate cream pie I've ever had in my life. Melt-in-your-mouth goodness! And the food....I stuffed my face, savoring every bite of a juicy hamburger and the best, authentic gumbo. I literally almost cried. It was an incredible dining experience that I won't forget. The staff was so happy to be there and were having the time of their lives. When we were leaving, my friend said "Let's just quit our jobs and come work at The Camellia Grill." I said, "In a heartbeat."

We were blissfully stuffed and rode the trolley back, stopping in a little diner off Bourbon. After the craziness of Bourbon Street, we stopped in at Kerry's Pub just across the street from our hotel and had a beer with a Grammy winner...yup! Best Zydeco Band Grammy winner! Aw Lawdy! That was cool. Seriously, every stranger we met became a friend. We also met the owner of Cochon, which I've heard is fantastic, and he almost convinced us to stay til Monday so we could eat there. It wouldn't have taken much!

We started Sunday morning with a walk to beautiful Jackson Square and stopped for coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. First beignet I've ever had...yum! Like little scrumptious squares of funnel cake. We took it all in...the horse and carriages lining the street and art vendors selling their wares. We didn't need to say it...we were in love! We immediately started planning our next trips...this time with our significant others, this time with a ghost tour. It is such a romantic city.

New Orleans: I'm your newest big fan. Thanks for the good times, the good food, the good people. Can't wait to see you again soon.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Marching on....

Wow, hey friends.

March was a heck of a month! The kind that chews you up and spits you out, and you're not sure which way is up. I'm basically in recovery mode after the busiest few weeks I've had since I can remember. So forgive me for not posting! I'm ready to get back in the swing of things and this weekend will be just the thing to lift my spirits and inspire me again.

I'm headed to the Warrenton/ Round Top Antiques Weekend in Warrenton, Texas, today! It's an amazing weeklong junkers paradise in the middle of Central Texas. If you've been to Canton, Texas, it's like that....on STEROIDS. It's an endless haven of chippy-peely goodness and funky treasures. My kinda place!

I plan to take a ton of photographs and totally redeem myself with some sure-to-be-inspiring images. Promise!

When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Hitting the road!