EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX | RECIPE || PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE ||


Hello friends,

Homework is torture, yes. Why they do it, and why we want them to stop is for another post. Embracing it is half the battle. (having a good attitude yourself doesn’t hurt either). Doing homework with your kids can be fun. Let it be fun. When we got this weeks drill it included making valentines boxes for valentines day. Which means we have two choices, one: bitch and moan or two: EMBRACE IT. We looked at it as an opportunity to hang with the kids and get some extra art in. We blasted some music, stuffed our faces with guacamole, made the Valentines Boxes and had a HELL of a TIME!

Cheers

-Nicole



EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOXES:

SUPPLIES:

OLD SHOE BOXES
MOD PODGE MATT FINISH
PAINT BRUSH
COLORFUL TISSUE PAPER
GLITTER
PAINTS
PENS
TAPE

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO CONSIDER, FOR HAVING A GOOD TIME:

YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC KIDS (OR NO KIDS)
YOUR FAVORITE SNACKS, HIGHLY RECCOMMENTED : POPCORN + QUACAMOLE

DIRECTIONS:

TAKE ONE PIECE OF YOUR COLORFUL TISSUE PAPER FACE THAT DOWN ON THE TABLE ( THE COLOR SIDE DOWN) PLACE YOUR BOX IN THE MIDDLE.WITH YOUR PAINT BRUSH, DIP IT INTO THE MOD PODGE SPREAD AN EVEN COAT OVER YOUR CARDBOARD BOX BOTTOM, PLACE THAT ONTO THE TISSUE PAPER, (SEE UBOVE FOR EXAMPLE IN PHOTO) THEN GIVE THE BOTTOM A GOOD PAT WITH YOUR HAND TO SMOOTH THE BUMBS OUT. THEN DO THE SAME TO ALL THE SIDES. IT DOESNT HAVE TO BE PERFECT JUST GET THEM TO STICK, AND THEN ONCE THATS DONE, PUT ANOTHER COAT OF MOD PODGE OVER THE WHOLE BOX AND GET IT NICE AND COATED! IF YOU LIKE SPARKELS ADD THE GLITTER! LET DRY FOR 1 HOUR - TWO HOURS. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR SLIT FOR THE LETTERS ONCE DRY.

NOTE: THIS IS SOMETHING THE KIDS CAN DO, SO GET A BOX FOR YOURSELF AND SHOW THEM HOW ITS DONE, OR DO IT AT THE SAME TIME AND GUIDE THEM, ONCE THEY HAVE THE HANG OF IT THEY CAN EASILY TO IT THEMSELFS. THE KEY HERE IS NOT PERFECTION, ITS FUN! LET THEM GET INTO IT.

ONCE DRY YOU CAN FILL IT WITH YOUR VALENTINES CARDS!


EASY DIY VALENTINE BOX 10.jpg

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX 12.jpg

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOXES

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX


EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX

EASY DIY VALENTINES BOX

EASY DIY VALENTINE BOX

WHERE TO PURCHASE SUPPLIES:

TARGET

IKEA

SNACKS : TRADER JOES

WHOLE FOODS


FEAR, IT'S A FUNNY THING || PERSONAL GROWTH STORIES || FACING ANXIETY|| PHOTOGRAPHER NICOLE LEE

“As you come to recognize the power of consciousness, that what is behind your eyes, so to speak, holds more power than what appears in front of them, your inner and outer perceptions change.” – Gary Zukav

This past year has had its fair share of ups and downs and in between, my health took to an all time low, and for some reason I decided to start caring what other people thought. I became frozen. Frozen in what to say, how to be myself, what to articulate, and WHAT am I bringing to my business? You get the idea. Obsessing about where the line is on sharing was the main focus. To share or not sharing on social media? Sharing too much of your personal life, may leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed. Or not sharing enough may lead to feeling like a phony only sharing the “highlight reel”. I found myself looking at what all these “influencers” were/ are doing and thinking well f*** I am never going to “catch up”. Do I even have anything to offer? Am I good enough? Do people care anyway?

 Processed with VSCO with j1 preset

Not great self talk eh? I had it all wrong.

When I came to the realization that I cared WAY too much and put so much energy into caring what other people thought, I felt mentally exhausted and anxious. I turned to my therapist for help, I told her what was going on, expressing I felt I may have some unresolved social anxiety that I need to face. It comes up at social events, and if I’m really being honest, I feel that way most times before posting on social media channels.

Her response “ she once felt the same way (minus the social media part) and someone informed her that getting caught up in what others think is self absorbed. “SHUT UP!” I thought. The last thing I want is to feed narcissism and be self-absorbed! I gave myself a good hard look into the mirror and said can we move on? Is putting energy into what other people think really worth your time? Is it honestly helping you move forward in life? HELL NO.

Moving forward was simple to do. Truth, it's going to come up again, when it does we have a choice. Fear goes away when you go look at it. The fear gets bigger when you push it aside. It was facing the fear that got me to the other side.

Looking back I can laugh at myself. I wasted so much time on things that only held me back from my own truth. Lesson learned. In fact most people may not have this as an issue. Maybe their fears lie somewhere else, starting that project, launching that business, getting out of the chair to have a good time, trying something new outside of your comfort zone. Whatever it is for you, once you become aware, awake, conscious you have a choice. Using the new tool to look at your fears, face them, figure out what’s up, or run and hide from them, push them down, or drop out. The only one in the way of you is yourself. So the choice is yours.

Cheers, X Nicole


HELPFUL LINKS + TIPS :

JUDGMENT DETOX

 SUPER SOUL SUNDAY, OPRAH

You cannot become compassionate with yourself without becoming compassionate with others, or with others, your world becomes compassionate. You draw to yourself other souls of like frequency, and with them you create, through your intentions and your actions and your interactions, a compassionate world.  –Gary Zukav


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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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



 

 

 

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







 food and lifestyle photographer, arizona, seattle, pacific northwest















CHECK OUT MORE ON INSTAGRAM :

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.  



 

 

 

 

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

Stella Mae - Portraits Nicole Lee photographer - Charleston SC


Today I thought I would share some personal images of my Stella Mae. Without a doubt I am glad a started this project over a year ago, I know one day I will look back and be thankful I took portraits of my children. 

Would love to hear thoughts and share some love if you'd like. 

Happy Friday Everyone! 

-Nicole 




Chocolate- Brownie- Cookies- Gluten Free-



About 8 months ago I got really sick. Ever since I have been on a journey to get back to my normal self.

It all started with some flowers. I was really into buying flowers for my house and this particular week lavender was in season so I thought oh, lets buy something different. When I got home, I put them in a mason jar and placed them on my living room coffee table.

A few mornings later, I entered the living room and started coughing and could barely breath, kind of like a massive asthma attack, (which I don’t have) I thought this was super strange so I then looked around the room, finally discovered that my lavender was covered in MOLD! What? !  I kind of panicked because I am actually allergic. (Not just a little, A LOT.)  I quickly got rid of the lavender.

A few weeks passed and I become super ill.

First I thought it was the flu, then allergies. But as the weeks went on I got worse. I was the only one in our house that was ill as well, so at times I felt a little crazy. I thought back to the flowers and thought what If it was the mold? Maybe I inhaled some of the spores? My husband and I did some research on symptoms of toxic mold exposure, to name a few: mental confusion, sinus infections, flu like symptoms, lung infections, blurred vision, migraines, headaches, hair loss and in extreme cases death, (which were found in people exposed for years.) I ended up with most of the symptoms because I am allergic to mold. The rest of my family just had minimal to none. Which is also common.  First thought was maybe it was just the lavender, that’s why I was just sick. Second was its not worth the risk of our whole family,

Lets just test the house for mold to be safe.

Sure enough it came up positive. We looked around the house, we opened the vents and there was mold everywhere! What? Our whole family was breathing in this? Everyday!

After finding it we literally packed up our things and fled like Zombies were attacking, No joke.

There were the five of us crammed in a hotel. Within days of leaving we started to feel better. Who knew?

We inquired with an environmental allergist here in Charleston. (I seriously owe him my life.) During the evaluation they ask you questions about your symptoms, and after listing most of them he told me: without testing you it sounds like you have been exposed to toxic mold, and you may feel alone, or crazy but you are not. We see a majority of people with toxic mold exposure. You are not alone and we have a plan for you to get better. I can promise you that.

I was beyond relieved that there was an answer to the last few months of madness.

The short version is he got me on a plan for detoxing and recovery. He gave us things for the kids too but he said to keep an eye on them if they are better after leaving the house then they should keep healing quickly and be okay. My predicament was slightly different, he said because of my health history this mold exposure was like the straw that broke the camels back. Your body stopped fighting and healing itself. The amazing thing was it was an answer. Along with a road to travel down to actually get better.

Part of the plan is I have to be on a “special” (not the good kind) diet because of the mold and candida (yeast) that I am allergic to. They basically feed off each other, and my body went on a feeding frenzy. The purpose of the diet was to starve the Candida/ fungus overgrowth, which then leads to die off and creates normal levels in your body. The best way to describe the diet is it’s a low sugar version of Paleo. No grains, no dairy, no vinegars, no beans, no foods containing any time of fungus. These foods actually feed the Candida and make it grow, so if you eliminate them then the candida dies off. (This alone wont “cure” the candida, like I said this was just one part of the treatment plan.) 

Basically my culinary palate has been starving for months. All I want is to eat a piece of bread, with cured meat and cheese on it, or better a big fat piece of melting pizza!

Looking back to a few months ago I have made leaps and bounds, I no longer feel like a sick person trying to get well.  My family is well and safe and things are starting to feel less like we were running from Zombies, to feeling like “well now we know how to survive when Zombies attack”.

Over the past few months I have come up with some creative ways to make my really boring food exciting.  I love bon appetite’ mag and stumbled upon an awesome Gluten Free Chocolate cookie recipe. The main ingredients are coca powder and gluten free powdered sugar (Which you can substitute or add less if you desire to do so). The cookies are so simple to make your 6 year old child could do it!

So stop listening to me ramble about my life and get up and make some awesome mouth watering cookies. You will not regret it!

Thanks for stopping by, look forward to hearing from you friends!

Recipe below 

-Best

Nicole 


Recipe :

 

Ingredients

SERVINGS: MAKES 2 DOZEN

  • 3 cups gluten-free powdered sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs

 

Instructions

  • Place racks in lower and upper thirds of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in egg whites and egg; fold in chocolate and cacao nibs. Spoon batter by the tablespoonful onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart.

  • Bake, rotating sheets once, until cookies are puffed, cracked, and set just around the edges, 14–16 minutes.

  • Transfer baking sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool on pan (they’ll firm up).

ENJOY!! 


More information on health and recipes check these guys out! 

Bon Appetit Magazine Recipe :  http://www.bonappetit.com/

Center for occupational and environmental medicine : http://www.coem.com/