CHRISTMAS BRUNCH IN JULY || BRUNCH TIPS || FOOD+LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE



Hello Friends,

Can you believe it’s Wednesday already? In my last post I spoke about how we get to move back into our home this Friday. It’s been a wild journey with the storms of the house. Officially we have been out two months, and two-ish weeks. That would make us staying at 4 different airbnb. The last place we stayed at felt like we were living in a Wes Anderson Movie. Deserted hotel, we were the only ones on the grounds at times. Anyway, we are getting really excited to finally be moving back in. The status of the house, we have walls, and currently are doing some extra remodeling ourselves. Painting, bathrooms the kids rooms and a few odds and ends. The goal is to make it feel like home again. But after all that has happened it’s time to put on some fresh coats of paint and make new memories.

Best way to do that, make a big meal gather around the table and have some laughs. Our go to favorite meal  brunch. Sunday mornings, bacon, eggs, maybe some double chocolate muffins. Or just whatever we may have in the fridge at the moment works too. Here is how we usually brunch on Christmas morning…. 

“Team Lee” Brunch (Christmas Morning Style) : 

Put everything in the middle of the table and enjoy!

Cheers Friends,

Nicole



Sunday brunch tips


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GRAIN FREE "BEAUTY WAFFLE" RECIPE || FOOD+LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE || GLUTEN FREE RECIPE


gluten free waffle recipe

Hi friends,  

How we doing out there? It’s been pretty go! go! go! this summer. We are so close to moving back into our home. Officially we move back in this Friday July 14th. We are feeling slightly bittersweet about it all. The “storms” have calmed down, and the “series of unfortunate events” have been put to rest. Mold gone, plumbing fixed throughout the house, tree that was causing leaky roof, gone ( my apologies mother nature) roof fixed…let me think.. Walls fixed.. Now the house is safe. Amen. Ha. Ryan and I have been cleaning like mad, painting, so the house will be move in ready. There are a few odds + ends I’ll still be sharing on Insta stories ( so stay tuned!) Nothing but clear skies ahead for us with our home. Excited to get back into the kitchen ( well my own kitchen and test some new recipes!)

To celebrate our move in, I've been cooking up some waffles. I have been recipe testing like mad these past few weeks with this grain free chocolate beauty waffle concoction. It sure has been giving me a run for my money! “Beauty waffle”? These waffles are filled with all sorts of good stuff, we’ve got, raw cocoa(rich in magnesium), dark chocolate, xylitol sweetener ( no sugar spike + crash), egg yolks (amazing for skin!), Maca ( libido boosting), and flaxseed meal (aids digestion). All mixed together you have heaven, oh and don’t forget the whipped topping! If you are into things tasting good, and knowing the ingredients going into the food you make are full of added bonus give these waffles a try.

-Happy cooking!

Nicole 


waffle ingredients

gf chocolate waffle recipe

Recipe :
Grain Free Chocolate Chip beauty waffles

Ingredients:

Wet ingredients:
3 pasture raised egg yolks plus+ 1 full egg
2 tablespoons filtered water as needed or almond milk
1 tspn vanilla extract or unsweetened vanilla powder

Dry Ingredients:
½ cup cassava flour
¼ cup unbleached almond meal
1 tablespoon High quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon MCT oil ( I love bulletproof brand)
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
½ tspn baking soda
1 tspn baking powder (aluminum free)
1 tablespoon organic raw cocoa (if desired)
2 tablespoons organic ground flaxseed meal ( trader joe’s brand is awesome)
1 tablespoon raw Maca powder ( moon juice brand is my favorite)
1 bag of stevia sweetened chocolate chips or 1 dark chocolate bar (roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon of swerve ( sugar alternative)
1 tablespoon of xylitol

Tools needed: large mixing bowl, measuring cups, wooden spoon, small or large waffle iron, plate or cooling rack.

Directions:
TIP: It’s always helpful to measure your ingredients ahead ( I don’t always do this, but it helps to at least have them all out)

In a small bowl Separate the egg yolks from eggs. Add in the one whole egg. Set aside. Grab your large mixing bowl and add in all the wet ingredients. Lightly whisk the mixture for about 30 seconds. Add in your dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips), starting with the sugars, then add in all the rest doesn’t matter the order. Mix it all up with your wooden spoon. If it looks dry, add in 1 tspn at a time of almond milk ( or water). Add in your chips. ( to your desire, I like a lot!)
Plug in your waffle iron, use the directions on your machine( believe me they are all different)
Start making waffles! Poor a bit of waffle mix into the maker, when the little light goes off you know they are done, but sometimes they may need an extra min. This is where your own judgment comes in. You can also poke them in the middle, and if they bounce back they are done. Note: you can make a few “tester” one and set a timer. This is always helpful.
Place on plate or cooling rack with a piece of paper towel or parchment paper over the top to keep warm.
Chop fresh berries for topping
Enjoy! Add your favorite whipped cream, maple syrup, or nut butter with bacon.

“Whipped topping”:
(Makes 11 oz )

Ingredients :
3 pasture raised egg yolks
2 cans full fat organic coconut cream (refrigerated overnight)
2 tablespoons xylitol
1 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract or unsweetened vanilla powder
1 organic whole vanilla bean
1 -tablespoons of moon juice loose probiotics ( another form of loose probiotics should work)
Vitamix high powered blender

Directions:
1.Place the blender top in the freezer for about 15-20 min. Or until cold enough there is a layer of fog around the blender top.
2.In a bowl open and separate coconut milk fat from the water. (This should be natural as you have put it in the refrigerator). Disregard the water and use for another project!
3. Slice open your vanilla bean, in half with a sharp knife, scrape out the beans and place with your coconut fat.
4. When your blender top is good and cold, take all the ingredients and place in the blender. On the cold setting blend your heart out ( about 15-35 seconds). Check the consistency and if it’s thick ( not too thick) transfer to airtight container and back in the fridge while you make your waffles. (You can also use this cream to have for a late night treat with berries or other goodies. )




Gluten free chocolate waffle recipe

grain free waffle recipe

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LETTING GO PART 3 || HEALING YOUR BODY || GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE || FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


green smoothie recipe

Healing your gut || 

Hi Friends, 

These last few years I’ve been on this rollercoaster journey to heal my body from its “autoimmune attacking nonsense”. No longer will I use the terms, “My body is attaching itself”, as this just gives it too much power. Instead I’ve chosen to change my language to “Your body has the power to heal itself”. Honestly, it wasn’t until these last few months that I actually believed it, in my heart, mind, and soul. It also wasn’t until I adopted that mantra I started to see real results, now I’m in the process of fine-tuning my health for good.

Currently I’m reading “ The plant paradox by Dr. Stephan Gundry. In this book he talks about how the good foods aren’t really good” and the real medicine to heal autoimmune disorders (and desires) some forms of cancer, dementia, are through a different approach. Its not just about throwing pills at your system, but going to the root, healing your gut! Your gut has the power. He also educates you about lectin's and how they affect your body, and if you choose to eat them, how to prepare them differently to easily digest. It’s pretty mind blowing! (Well at least a Nerd like me thinks so).

When it comes to the diet part of the book now it’s a pretty “extreme” regimen. For myself I was at the point where I was doing most of it. For others if you are on more of a traditional diet, but looking for answers on how to improve your health, it’s really worth it to give it a shot. I cut my inflammation in half the first 3 days I started. As of 3 weeks now I have been NAISD and Allergy medicine free. (I was on Allegra D and taking over the counter pain meds for my extreme periods). And if you know me, I wasn’t really functioning without them either. Instead I switched to supplements like turmeric + stinging nettle for allergies and inflammation. Which aren’t putting holes in my gut like those NAISDS. Did you know that just taking one just one over the counter pain pill is like swallowing a grenade, and then it explodes and puts tiny holes in the walls and lining of your stomach! Crazy, so instead of fixing your pain you are actually making it worse.  (Same goes for antibiotics, that’s a blog post for another day)

For the first time I feel like its working. It hasn’t been easy, but I have this strength inside that tells me to keep going, it’s all worth it. See, the best part is you just are you. Do what you have to do to be the best version of yourself. For me right now, it’s trying new weird, Zen things to get my body + mind to connect to each other to feel good. That might be different for you. It’s about works for your body, and you are the only one steering that ship. With brainpower + food who knew that combination could actually work? (AND IT DOES)! I’m excited about the new gumption I have been feeling, and I hope you find yours too.

Thanks for listening. Below is a recipe for Green Smoothie from “The Plant Paradox”, by Dr. Steven Gundry, MD.

Cheers!   - Nicole


Green Smoothie recipe | Cleansing | detox

GREEN SMOOTHIE RECIPE:

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

½ cup baby spinach

1 mint spring – with stem

½ avocado

4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon

3-6 drops stevia extract

¼ cup ice cubes

1 cup filtered or tap water

TIP: add spoonful of moonjuice probiotics for extra kick, or vital reds to the smoothie.

Directions:

Place all of the ingredients into a high powered blender( if you have a Vitamix thumbs up, a magic bullet should work too). Blend on high until smooth and fluffy. If its thick add 1 tablespoon of water blend and repeat until thinner.

You can store for up to 3 days in the fridge.


Green Smoothie Recipe

CAROL+NEIL || INTIMATE SEDONA ELOPEMENT || PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE ||



Hello Friends,

Sometimes we tend to get lost in all the details of wedding planning, in the pressures to please everyone else. Wedding planning, whether you elope or go the traditional route is stressful. I remember planning my own wedding way back when (10 years ago to be exact), and having everyone around us having opinions about EVERYTHING. People seem to chime in whether you ask them to or not.  The thing is with Carol + Neil, they were smart enough to take note and say, lets tell our story, the way we want for US. And that’s exactly what they did. Best part, the elopement was a big secret, and they were going to send out an announcement after their honeymoon to let everyone know “we’ve eloped”. GENIUS. I admire them. They have gumption!

Here is Carol + Neil’s Sedona Elopement Story.  

Cheers,

-Nicole


CAROL + NEIL|| ELOPEMENT || SEDONA, MAY 25 2017.



LETTING GO || PART 2 || FACING YOUR FEARS|| PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE



“Letting go”, it sounds easy right? I cling tightly to shields, put on armor; masks even, to protect myself, fearful to let too many people get close. Why would I do that? Well, it’s too scary to let people in.

For some odd 25 years I’ve been doing this, granted I’m only 29. I’ve lived a lot of lives, and seen a lot of things. This past weekend I had a session with my therapists and they said this, you have the survival gene, most people wouldn’t have survived what you went through as a child and young adult. The tools you used, the methods you fought with, worked and got you here. But now its time to choose to put the armor down, and stop taking everyone one out. The battle is over. Take a step back and look around where you are, you aren’t there anymore in the chaos, you are here present day in 2017. So I let that sink right in. Deep. That’s it? That’s how you let go? I think it is.                                                                                                                                                      

Over the past few weeks I’d been asking myself, how do I let go? I want to so desperately to really do it. Let go, be my best self, always. I mean that is what I am striving for. I was having a hard time connecting my brain to the actions. I was doing the actions, but my brain couldn’t make sense of it all. See, I want to have the weight lifted off my shoulders, and breathe easy. I want to stop waiting for the floor to sink out from under me. Hearing my therapist say what they did in the session, I had a light bulb moment. It’s this time where I aloud myself permission to finally surrender the flag, and start living life. In that moment, right there.

Now what? Is it as easy as saying yes I get it and erasing everything that happened in the 25 years of my life? Maybe…. See, once you know the core of your crap, where it came from, what it is, what tools you use (good or bad). You can finally start saying (to yourself) stop it. I don’t need to use that tool, it isn’t necessary, and I’m safe. What I’m talking about is, those moments where you find yourself in an anxiety-ridden tizzy, instead of running in circles around it, you face it, check it out, and you explore it. When you face it, you will know what to do with it. Sounds “kooky”, but it works.

The way I look at it is this, I have two choices, I can use the armor to fend off the Calvary, take the sward and finish them all off. – Or I can retrain myself, learn new tools, stop, and be the person who I already know how to be, kind, loving, caring. Option one works, but will be the harder road. With option two, although it seems scary as hell to put down the armor, it feels freeing to let the walls down and walk a new unknown path.

Thanks for listening friends, below are some IPHONE Self Portraits I took, and editing on my phone using the vscocam app. 

Cheers,  - Nicole 




GLUTEN FREE STRAWBERRY TOAST RECIPE || EASY FOOD | FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE



Hello Friends,

This quick recipe for gluten free strawberry toast is all about getting in some nutrients while also making sure your meal is tasty. No one likes cardboard. Lately, I’m into easy food, yet I don’t want to just grab those fries each time. Food can be fuss free, taste good, and make you feel great. Give it a go; this toast will change your life.

Cheers and happy cooking

Nicole x





GF + DF STRAWBERRY TOAST RECIPE || NICOLE LEE

Ingredients:

-1 loaf of gluten free bread

-Raw honey (2 – tablespoons)

-Nut Butter (mixed, almond, peanut)

-Chia Seeds

-Fresh Strawberries (1-2 pints)

-Toaster

Directions:  Clean and roughly chop your strawberries, removing the stems. Set aside. Toast your bread to your hearts desire. Spread with a decent layer of nut butter, and honey. Place the strawberries on top. Finish with a sprinkle of chia seeds. Repeat for as many pieces of toast you’d like to make. Enjoy!



LEARNING TO LET GO || PERSONAL | ANXIETY | FACING FEARS, PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE




Hello Friends, 

Its been awhile. 

Over the past few months I hit a low. My Anxiety hit an all time high. I justified my anxiety because of the unpredictable events, house having mold, (or falling apart as Ryan would say) having to be flexible about the whole thing, being defeated by my children’s school, and the social behaviors they were dealing with, (Actually, still are dealing with) and then Work…

How did I juggle it? I dropped all the balls. There was no certainty in my little world, everything was swirling around me and I stood and watched while all the clouds came rolling in. I didn’t know which way was out, which way let the floods came in, or even how to be safe. Or keep everyone else safe.


0348 BW FLORALS 4.jpg


So I froze. And then froze some more. Instead of coming up with sensible solutions, I internalized everything, and outwardly put on a persona that was FINE by society standards. My goal was just to get through the day to day. To practice being easy going about the whole thing until I really believed it. But there were a few times I was like, when is the next crap thing going to happen? 

 When the clouds finally subsided, I thought I got this. I have been dealing with anxiety since age 6 and honestly I’ve been through much harder crap. Certainty is what I really longed for. In an uncertain situation I made matters worse, then I remembered my therapists saying, you will never have certainty. The world can’t give you that. REALLY?? At first I thought NO. HELL NO. My heart said, there has to be another way. The only way to get certainty is to make your own. Why not channel my inner survival mode instincts? Use them for good, not to fuel my anxiety. Maybe this is the best idea I’ve had in a long time…. Its time to get back on the horse stop looking left or right and plow straight ahead. 

Letting go “game plan”. The plan includes the things I am in control of; ME+ MY actions…

1.  Let go. - Life is unpredictable. Letting go isn’t easy, but when you do it feels so freeing.

2.  Truly be easy going. (No matter what) - As “cheesy” as it sounds, it’s an opportunity to learn when unexpected life events happen. Showing your kids you can stay calm when shit hits the fan is a true gift. Best part, they become easy going people too.                                                        

3.  Health (mental and physical) - Talking to therapist is always a good idea.  Exercising has done wonders for my mental health, subsides anxiety, and makes you feel SEXY!                                

4. Parenting - Committing to teaching my children to socially interact, defeat bullies, to make the world a better place, and WIN AT LIFE.                                                                                          

5. Home- Being Patient. Doing what we can in our time with our house AND BEING OKAY WITH THAT.                                                                                                                                          

6. Anxiety - FACE IT. DON’T RUN FROM IT. GET BACK ON THE HORSE. AND STAY ON, EVEN WHEN YOU HIT THE BUMPS.  ( AND, Damn those hurt!)

Thanks for listening folks; I’m excited to be back in the swing of things. And for this new uncertain chapter called LIFE. Leave a comment below, would love to hear from you!! 

Cheers,

Nicole



 

 

 

MOLD YOU WILL NOT BE THE DEATH OF ME || ARIZONA LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE || PERSONAL POST



Dear Friends, 

My apologies for my slight disappearance these last few months friends. I have found myself (and family) knee deep in black mold. First we found it in our bedroom bathroom, behind the toilet and inside the wall. So Ryan then removed it. Then we suspected it in the kitchen, so he demoed that too. Which he found more mold in the walls of the cabinets and sink. The island and storage next to the fridge is what is currently intact.

While this was being taken care of my very kind Aunt and Uncle let us stay with them. Since I am highly allergic, it’s not smart for me to be in the environment when removal is happening. In fact we ended up finding it because I had become a cesspool of sickness for months, and even though hidden behind walls I was still reacting from it. Finally once the mold was removed and air was clean again (about a week) we went back home.

A few days after returning home, we had some heavy rains here. I was doing some work on my computer and heard some noises. I investigated finding a leak in the dinning room ceiling. I noticed a water bubble in the wall and I just started nervously laughing, someone is “punking me”. Where is ASHTON? I know he will pop up here soon….

So we called the insurance again, it took about a week for them to come out. The adjuster came and inspected the leak. He Chatted with Ryan about how there is nothing he or the insurance could do; unfortunately this was just normal home wear and tear. But he suggested, because of the leak you should pull out the drywall and make sure there is no mold growth under there. That evening, I took the kids to dinner and Ryan ripped out the wall.

Guess what? We found the source… a large I mean, large amount of black mold right there in the ceiling. That night we stayed in a hotel. Now we needed to sort out how to make sure it was gone for good! This owning a home is serious business folks.




Plan of action (to defeat MOLD!):  

-Make sure we get the mold out, Clean (spray down with mold control, the area, and check the rest of the house for hidden spots)

-Get it dry, Tarp it off, put dehumidifier in the space, Keep the air cool

-Figure out how to function in house without kitchen

-Sort out health, do more research, breathe, breathe again

-Make sure to listen to my therapist; she said looks like another opportunity to practice being “easy going” listen to this advice

-Stay Calm

-Call contractors

-Call roofing companies

-Call tree removal services

- Breathe again

-Plan a home remodel

-Be excited about new kitchen, bedroom bathroom, dinning room, painting the house, (cutting down a tree that is causing your house to fall apart)

-Don’t feel guilty about cutting down a tree that is making your house fall apart

-Embrace Change

- Act like you are camping

- Cook outside, Cook food on induction burners, use crockpot, and get creative

- Wash dishes in the bathroom (no judgments please!)

- Get kids to pitch in

- Use survival instincts

- Push through until its finished

- Be easy going with the timeline of projects (contractors are busy)

- Remember this can be fun!

-Embrace the uncertainty

In some odd way I am glad we found it. Even though my house is currently a construction zone, and it’s not nearly “perfect”. I can actually say I’m okay with it.

 Life didn’t give me lemons, but I’d say more like some blank canvas to start creating on. This is an opportunity instead of loss. It’s just a house, its just “stuff”.

Mold will not be the death of me. Challenge accepted.  

- Cheers Friends, Nicole

P.S. As we progress with the house I will slowly add updates, thanks for listening friends!

ARTIST PORTAITS MALORI MAEVA || FLORIST NOIR FLORAL || LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE || HEYDEAR



Hey you guys! Happy New Year! It's great to be back. May I introduce my dear friend and all time business gal Malorie.  

Malorie Maeva, is something special my friends. I was fortunate enough to have met her last year while assisting the AMAZING Kym Ventola with a wedding she was photographing. Instantly I thought wow this girl is the Brains behind Hoot and Holler / and Noir Floral? She is one talented lady, and been killing it in the floral industry for sometime now. I had been following her for some time on instagram and couldn’t help but instantly be inspired by her floral designs, esthetic and boldness that she was putting out into the universe!

I was honored when she let me photograph her doing her thing, designing and crafting floral arrangements. Here is a peek inside what she does and our time together, enjoy friends!

 

CHEERS,

Nicole






















MALORI MEAVA 16_426.jpg

Arizona Florist : Malori Maeva http://www.noirfloral.com/

CHOCOLATE GRANOLA RECIPE || GLUTEN FREE+DAIRY FREE || FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE





Hello Friends, 

Chocolate seems to be at the top of my food list, it is only fitting that I would try to add it to almost everything. One of my fondest memories of chocolate was when we used to live in the PNW; we would walk and get a coffee from our favorite shop. I’d order a hot double short latte and on the top they would serve it with a piece of dark chocolate. The chocolate would warm from sitting on the cup. You would have to eat it quite quickly, the melted chocolate followed by sipping your espresso left the most heavenly taste it your mouth.

Lately, I am yearning to recreate moments of food heaven each day. It looks different now. Instead of walking to the coffee shop, I walk into the kitchen. Back then I cooked, but was still getting my bearings down. Lots of burning, lots of undercooked chicken, and lots of baking, I could do that. The baking was easy. Maybe its because the control of the ingredients lead as a guide of safety and comfort. “ Actual recipe development, seemed scary as you had to move with the food, no rules, just feelings. Food makes you feel. It’s instinctual. You are forced to do a dance, taste, smell, and engage with it. Or else you get a burned hot mess; this took me years to sort out. I just kept cooking, and trying. Lots of repetition, as I was learning I would cook the same dish every night until I nailed it! Ryan would ask “ what’s for dinner, I would say – roast chicken and veg! He replied without grumble, SPLENDID! Along with my encouraging husband, the other helper I had was “the naked chef” (AKA JAMIE OLIVER) he taught me how to: boil eggs, make curry, make soup, homemade pizza, what herbs were, and even nail a good granola. Once I sorted out how simple cooking could be, it all came together. Recipes became effortless. 

So, I want to share my take on good ole granola, it’s easy and the best part it takes 15 min to prep!




CHOCOLATE GLUTEN FREE GRANOLA RECIPE// (Makes about 1.5 gallon bag)

You will need: 2 baking sheets, unbleached parchment paper, mixing bowl, spatula, small saucepan

*INGREDIENTS: *

  • 1 cup nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut or no nutz)
  • 6 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
  • 5 ounces high quality dark chocolate (chopped)
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 5 tablespoons high quality coco powder
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped almonds and cashews
  • 1/3-cup chia seeds
  • 1/3 unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (or kosher salt)

Directions:

Pre- Heat your oven to 300 degrees. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Measure out ingredients, and in a bowl place: gluten free rolled oats, cinnamon, ground ginger, chia seeds, coconut flakes, brown sugar, nutmeg, chopped nuts, and salt mix a little with a spatula. Set aside. Chop your chocolate, set aside.

Take your small saucepan and put on medium –low heat. Add your coconut oil, nut butter, raw honey, and 5 tablespoons of coco powder. Mix constantly, until melted and blended together. Take off heat, add in the vanilla paste and mix in. Pour mixture over the rolled oats mixture and thoroughly combine until the oats are completely coated. Add chopped chocolate, mix.

Finally spread evenly over the parchment paper lined baking sheets. Place both trays in the oven, Bake for 15 min. Let cool completely for about an hour. Store in gallon bags, or mason jars. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks!

To serve, you can enjoy with nut(or raw) milk, fresh berries like raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries. This granola, also tastes great over ice cream or just by it’s self!


CHEERS, 

NICOLE 








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CLOTH AND FLAME DESERT DINNER || SONORAN DESERT, ARIZONA || FOOD+LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE

















 food and lifestyle photographer, arizona, seattle, pacific northwest





Sonoran desert







 food and lifestyle photographer, arizona, seattle, pacific northwest







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AVOCADO TOAST, WITH FIGS, AND CILANTRO || GLUTEN FREE+VEGAN RECIPE || FOOD + LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE



Hello Friends, 

Cooking with children can be a daunting task to some, but I find once you give them a chance it doesn’t take long for them to fall in love with helping out and be part of the process.  It feels only natural to invite them into what we are doing, whether it be flipping eggs, baking some cookies, or just making a simple toast. I tend to give them jobs like; letting them sprinkle on the salt or herbs, or crack the eggs, stir the pot. They love it, give it a try!  - Cheers, Nicole





Avocado Toast; with figs lime and cilantro recipe :

Ingredients:

-A loaf of gluten free (or none GF) bread

- 1 bunch of ripe avocados

- fig fruit (for the top or side)

-1 lime

- chopped cilantro

- salt, pepper, olive oil

- knife, fork, and bowls for mashing

Method: Cut and pit your avocados, in a bowl mash up avocados leaving them pretty chunky. Slice your limes in half, and squeeze over the avocado.  Chop cilantro, set aside.

Toast your bread to your liking, and drizzle high quality olive oil over the top of them. With a fork take your avocado and smash the rest over the toasted bread. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cilantro. Then enjoy!







I would love to hear from you! Just fill out the form below! 


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QUICK AND EASY VEGAN SNACK RECIPE // BLUEBERRIES + ALMOND MILK // FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


Dear Friends, 

For today's recipe I bring you "easy peasy" as my 7 year old would say. Simple frozen blueberries and almond milk. This is made for one, but you may double, or triple or even add in extra's to make it your own. Then simply enjoy! 

What you will need :

1 bag of frozen organic blueberries

1 bowl, spoon and hungry belly

1/2 cup (or more to your liking) Fresh Almond Milk 

Note : if you aren't vegan I would sub for 2% with a splash of raw cream, or even RAW MILK 

Then pour blueberries in a bowl, pour milk over blueberries and watch the magic happen. The milk freezes over the blueberries and now you "almost" have ice cream.

Cheers and enjoy!

 -Nicole 






 

 

REAL TALK // RAMBLING STORIES OF MOTHERHOOD // LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE





Dear Friends,

How are you this fine Monday?

I have decided to share a story from my weekend. Some of you may approve, and others may roll their eyes. I am going to take a chance and share anyway.

On Friday evening my husband and I attended our children’s school fall festival. Now the idea in my head of what this fall festival was going to be was quite exciting, I thought pumpkins, and hay rides, and horses and hot apple cider, parents dressed up or kids dressed up in costumes. You know the small town festival that you grow up with? Much to my surprise when we walked in it was NOTHING like that!

Where were the pumpkins? And the hay rides? I don’t smell the hot apple cider!! Instead what we found was loud music that should be at a club, parents walking around with cups filled with alcohol, dressed like they were out on the town and children roaming freely from bounce house to bounce house. Kids pulling kids, kids being aggressive towards kids, and kids running around like out of control crazy’s! (That part didn’t bother me, the children roaming, well maybe. I think it was the adult Sippy cups that through me over the edge….)

Then I asked myself are you just being a helicopter parent? Maybe this is what we were supposed to be doing? To some this is fine. To some this is “kids just being kids” but I beg to differ. Maybe you don’t mind being half present and you need to be loaded in order to handle this whole parent thing. Not for me folks, not for me…so I stood there frozen, I felt like I had entered a high school kickback. And just as awkward as it was then, as I was then, I asked myself how did I end up here? With the “cool” kids once again? I don’t want to be with the cool kids, watching there faces, It wasn’t fun, maybe if I was drinking it would have been fun, but I don’t think so. I really don’t think so…. I wanted to scream, I wanted to shake these people. I wanted to get the hell out of there!!!! But we just paid WAY too much money and my children would be devastated if we left so we stayed. We made the most of it.

As Parents came up to Ryan and I while we stood outside of a bounce house, they started chatting, the things these people would say where mind blowing. Standing there like a deer in headlights, I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. Frozen, I stood and listened. Speechless. Parents shared stories of how great this was, hanging out while kids roam and we get to drink, or bragging about the night before they got so WASTED that an ambulance had to come and bring them to the ER. As I listened, this pain sank into my heart, which expanded into my gut.  My heart hurt. (Something about this doesn’t feel right) It hurt for the parents, for the children, for my children. I asked myself why can’t there be more, more kindness, more love, more happiness?

Maybe you may think I was judging them maybe you think, How could she say these things? But friends, I am tired of sitting on the sidelines folks, what is happening to our culture, our country, and the world around us? And I have had my own fair share of hiccups, and I am NOT claiming I am a perfect parent, or person. I also don’t think JESUS needs to save you in order to be a good parent but what happened to having some standards, or showing up? There is nothing wrong with drinking, but what are the intentions behind all the charade? Is it this the only way we can be parents, are you trying to escape, or enjoy the moments with your loved ones?

What is happening to the hope of us becoming more empathetic and loving towards each other? Towards our children, and teaching our children to do the same?

I still have that hope, do you??

Thanks for listening friends.

Leave a comment below, we'd love to hear your thoughts.  



 

 

 

 

LAURA + MATT | DESERT ENGAGEMENT SESSION || WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


Learning to be brave. How do we learn to be brave? We learn to be brave by doing something that we are scared to do. This saying keeps flying back at me time and time again. The universe keeps saying, “ be brave” here is your moment, here is this hard thing that I want you to gracefully step into, now go. One of those things are relationships.

(Does this happen to you as well?  The universe / god whomever it may be challenging you on things?)

Lately, I have been on this quest to find out how to really build lasting relationships, to understand what true love really is, and you know I may not have all or any of the answers on the subject. What I do know the scary thing to do is to step into them. The brave thing to do is take a chance on the person in front of you. Sometimes we mess up, sometimes we don’t have all the tools, but what I do know is this:

“Before your ready – before your good at it that’s when you start something. That’s how you get ready, that’s how you get good at it” – ELIZABETH GILBERT

Sit for a moment – let that quote sink in a bit……

This is how we learn to be brave. This is how we step into things we want to make, or do, or who we want to become, or how to lean into relationships, partnerships.  

With that I give you Laura and Matt, and their engagement story.

 

– Cheers friends


 





































SCOTTSDALE PORTRAIT SESSION // SMOCA CURATOR CLAIRE CARTER// ARIZONA LIFESTYLE PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


portrait claire - curator

SMOCA is by far one of my favorite places in Arizona. What is SMOCA you say? Well it is a little haven in the melting pot of Arizona, also known as the Scottsdale museum of contemporary art. You see, it’s more than just a museum, but a community, learning hub, and from time to time they have some pretty fun events they put on throughout the year. 

In addition to having Amazing Art instillations, SMOCA has some very down to earth Curators running the show. I was honored when Claire asked me to spend the afternoon with her and photographing her for a portrait session.

This woman is strong, intelligent, and did I mention has excellent taste?! To top it off she was the first woman curator at SMOCA and plans to keep on doing her thing for years to come. Most recently, Claire curated : southwestNET Sama ALshaibi: Silsia. A short description : (Sama Alshaibi's (b.1973, Basra, Iraq) epic series of photographs and videos is named for the Arabic word silsia, or "link"-a simple noun describing a point of connection. As a verb, "link" also describes the act of joining two discrete units. Silsia represents the joining of individuals to one another, humans with the natural world, and the self to the dive.) To read more head over to the SMOCA page

Lets just say Claire rocks my socks off! She is a powerhouse. 

Here are my favorite images from the portrait session we collaborated on together. 

Cheers, 

Nicole 












 

 


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DAIRY+GLUTEN FREE ICE CREAM RECIPE || ARIZONA FOOD PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


Hello Friends, it has been wayyy to long since I have posted. With that I deeply apologize for the radio silence. I feel that I have neglected my little blog that honestly I have missed so much.

Over the last few months I have been busy, I had some more health issues come up and really just hit the wall of exhaustion. I could blame a lot of things but I would say mostly I chose to stop prioritizing, and made a huge mess of my personal life. If I am honest with you, I just kept saying yes to all the jobs offered, to the grind, to the over working, to the sacrificing and putting all that in front of myself, and my family even. Which as stubborn as I am, hates to admit I was doing too much.

Have you ever heard of the work smarter not harder mentality? Well I switched those around, and for sure worked harder not smarter. And when I fell flat on my face, instead of calling it quits I thought I would take a break until I knew where I was going.. When that didn’t happen, I realized I needed to take a harder look at myself, I needed to see how I could stop falling short, and start being the person I was preaching I was and “trying” to be. Which is ultimately my BEST SELF always.

Someone very wise recently told me this quote from Wayne Dyer:

----“When you squeeze an orange, you'll always get orange juice to come out. What comes out is what's inside. The same logic applies to you: When someone squeezes you, puts pressure on you, or says something unflattering or critical, and out of you comes anger, hatred, bitterness, tension, depression, or anxiety, that is what's inside. If love and joy are what you want to give and receive, change your life by changing what's inside."----

Light bulbs went off, Shooting Stars in the sky! This quote changed my prospective immediately. Who was I on the inside? Does this quote mean I need to be perfect no, does this mean that I am a failure no. This simply means, what do you want the insides to look like? Is it possible to be your best self always?

All I know is I want to be the kind loving person always, in work, in home life, same inside and out.

So who do you want to be?

Thanks for listening friends, thanks for following my journey.

Until next time.

-Yours

Nicole 




Mint Chocolate Coconut Ice cream Recipe :

You will need :

4 cans coconut milk (full fat)

4 eggs

1/2 cup raw sugar or honey

1-tablespoon vanilla paste

2 – 4 oz. of good quality chocolate (I love Theo chocolate) they have minimal ingredients and some are vegan!

1-2 tablespoons peppermint flavor

1 pot, a whisk and an ice cream maker

Prep: place your cans of coconut in the refrigerator upside down overnight.

-Open the cans of coconut milk and separate the fat and liquid. You can save the liquid for another project, such as coconut water. Put your pot on the stovetop and set to medium. Then add in the coconut milk, sugar or honey, vanilla and peppermint to the pot. Whisk together until you see little bubbles and the chunks of coconut dissolve.

-Taste to see if it needs more sugar, then set to the side. In another bowl whisk together the eggs until light and fluffy. Add into the coconut mixture. Then place the bowl in the freezer for about an hour.

-After the mixture is cooled pop into the ice cream maker and follow your machines directions. ! About mid way through of churning add in your chocolate chips, or fresh chopped chocolate pieces. Also, If you don’t have an ice cream maker to churn you can simply pour into Popsicle molds!

Enjoy!




HOME LIFE || ARIZONA PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE |


A few years ago I started a personal project called home life. I was taking an advanced photo class at Coastal Carolina University and we had to pick a project for the semester. The subject had to be the same subject for the whole semester, with the narrative story in mind, one image connecting to the next. I remember resisting choosing something, I remember finding it difficult to choose a project for fear I would “mess up”.

My professor suggested that I photograph what was in front of me. Hinting at the idea of photographing my children. I hesitated, in efforts maybe to avoid the discomfort of sharing my personal life. I think I was trying to photograph landscape, old buildings or something. (You know the safe subjects) The work I was producing was mediocre. I knew if I wanted to grow I would have to start ripping of some Band-Aids and stop compartmentalizing my work life and personal life. I knew that if I just surrendered to blending them together I could get to where I wanted to go, and produce the art I was destined to produce.

So I just started, one foot in front of the other kind of thing. My first Images weren’t horrible, but they looked and felt like everyone’s candid images of their children. My work felt so literal, boring even, I knew I had to find my inner Sally Mann, but how on earth was I going to get there?

Did it just happen? No. Was there a secret sauce, formula or light bulb? No. I just took a lot of images, and let me tell you I burned threw loads of film, and digital files. Mostly film.

 Each week we had to bring our images to our professor and have a one on one critique. Let me tell you there were moments he would look at my work, and I would look at him and hope to Jesus he wouldn’t rip it apart. It was when he was silent it scared me the most. I would anxiously wait, while he looked over the images up and down, the he would say: “You have something here”, or “dig deeper”. He wanted me to come up with the answer, to figure those next steps out. Not just hand them to me, which that I am thankful for.

What I learned from the critique is to keep going, to make it better, and that it doesn’t just ‘happen’ to you have to choose the direction you want to go into. That I am going to fail a lot, and that is OKAY!

So here I am 3 years later, more images, more life and this personal project took on a whole new meaning. 

Enjoy friends, until next time

 

-Nicole 














TO LEARN MORE ABOUT SALLY MANN VISIT - https://www.artsy.net/artist/sally-mann

CHARLESTON, SC DESTINATION WEDDING LEGARE WARING HOUSE// SCOTT+CHERYL // CHARLESTON WEDDING PHTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE


Scott and Cheryl had an amazing magical day. The sun was shining, the air was crisp and they could not stop smiling the entire time! 

Both from Atlanta Georgia, they decided to escape the city and whisk off to Charleston for their destination wedding. 

Here is there story.. Enjoy. 

xx Nicole 













bride dress portrait