Thursday, December 31, 2015

My 2015 : Growth Within the Cracks

     I almost didn't write this post. I started writing thinking Wow, this year was a total fail.  Nothing amazing happened worthy of telling. But then I started looking through my journal and photographs of the past year... and my words leaped out of the pages, hoping that somehow I'd see the story unfolding within the scribbled notes. 
     I somehow thought that only perfect moments could be documented. That somehow the rest of our every days shouldn't be remembered or written down. That our triumphs are worth more than our struggles and tear-stained cheeks. But this year changed my perspective. It wasn't a year of much commotion or "successes", or even big changes on the outside I guess you could say. But what I gained is worth more than anything this world could've ever given me in an entire lifetime. 
     Amongst the days that were filled with tears and questions and confusion, I learned to praise His name in all things. A fire has sparked in my soul and it is the most overwhelming and loving, unreachable, reachable, crazy, immensely, beautiful feeling that I have ever felt. I have come to whisper and shout Jesus' name in every circumstance in my life. Where I once felt like it was an obligation, I now know that I have a God that not only hears me and sees me... but He delights and walks with me everyday.
     And so this year was not a failure at all, it was little cracks of happenings that made me grow in places that would've not, had anything happened differently. And so where growth happens, change will follow. I'm learning to be happy within the circumstances, and enjoy the season and people that are around me in this moment. 
     For the upcoming year, rather than set many plans and change yourself into a new person, I say leave some room for ideas and unplanned growth. Do what delights you, do what makes you feel happy... dance, sing, bake, skate, read, cook... there is no limit! Whatever you do, do out of passion and love. I can't wait to see what 2016 will bring... thank you so much for following along these words and photographs that represent who I am and all of my heart. I wish you and your loved ones a beautiful year!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My 2016 Reading List

     The past year I've grown a love and hunger for reading. I love both fictional and non-fictional, love stories, memoirs, mystery, etc,... Reading leaves me inspired and it allows me to engulf myself on adventures and destinations within my mind. It's funny when you're a child, adults have to sort of push you to read and to want to learn... but as I've gotten older I've fallen in love with learning and discovering new things all on my own. It delights me and stays in my mind, and everything sort of clicks together in my life. 
     And so here is my reading list I will tackle within the new year, I may or may not add a few more books depending on what I find ;). What are new books or things you want to tackle in 2016?


1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. The Finishing School by Valerie Woerner
3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
4. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher 
5. It's Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke
6. Undone by Michele Cushatt
7. For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
8. Keep It Shut by Karen Ehman

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Christmas Story

     Christmas is only a day away and so I wanted to share a recent drama skit I loved being a part of at my Church's annual Christmas Spectacular. Most of us know the story of baby Jesus being born around this time in a stable and sleeping in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. But there is so much more to the story and we wanted to portray why and what made God's gift to us so incredibly special. 
     You see here we are on Earth and God is up above in Heaven. God knew that no matter what we do, we could never be good enough to stand before Him truly innocent. So here is the incredible part: God himself came down to be with us and became a person and then that separation we had from Him was broken. 
     No longer would anyone ever be able to say God doesn't know what I go through... because that's exactly what His son Jesus did. Jesus who was perfect in every way, left His Father and Home to come down to us and be with us and endured all of life's struggles and ultimately death, for me... and for you. 
     No longer does anyone have to go to a higher priest or person to get to God. No religious ceremony, no rituals... just Jesus. I no longer have to be good enough, try harder, or do more to get favor with God. I just have to accept His gift. Isn't that a relief? God came down, and came for everyone. He loves us that much. 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. / John 1:14

     But the interesting part of the story was how He came. Most people thought the Messiah (Jesus) would come as a rich ruler or famous king or warrior... but a baby? That was just so... completely opposite of what everyone thought. That's the thing with God... He doesn't always do things how we would.  
     And so this event in which God would send His son to Earth among us, was so incredible in that He would save us from our sins, and bring us Life .... that you can imagine it wasn't too pleasing to the devil. He along with his dark powers and spirits did try to stop Jesus's mission at every moment they had, including His birth. 

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. / Ephesians 6:12

     As you watch the video, the first part shows two angels leading Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and protecting them while Jesus is born. The devil and his demons are then introduced to portray that the devil was always scheming and trying to get to Jesus. 
     Then you see the angel Gabriel warning Joseph that He must take Mary and Jesus and escape to Egypt, because in the next scene you will see King Herod ordering that all baby boys of a certain age are to be killed. (You see the devil and his demons constantly watching over this). 
     Finally the last scene shows the angels and the demons battling in spiritual warfare and when the devil tries to get to baby Jesus, God's army defeats them.
     The story of Christmas is about God coming down to us. God loving us so much that He gave Himself as the only thing we would ever need. Jesus plus nothing. And that is the most beautiful gift anyone could ever receive. I wish you all a beautiful Christmas... enjoy the video below!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recipes | Alfajores (Dulce de Leche Caramel Cookies)

     The Holidays are coming up and what better time than to experiment with new recipes right? These cookies in particular are my favorite and they are AMAZING. The combination of sweet, gooey caramel and coconut flakes with the moist, melt in your mouth cookie will leave you eating more than you ever wanted to. 
     I have been making these cookies for a few years and every time I bring them to an event, they pretty much are gone within minutes. The amount of ingredients seem intimidating, but once you make them you'll see it isn't difficult at all! Try them for your next party... just make sure to save a few for yourself! ;) Happy Baking!


36 Servings
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups cornstarch
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoons baking powder
3 egg yolks

3/4 cup white sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 (11.5 ounce) jar dulce de leche
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.

  2. 2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, allowing each yolk to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. 

  3. 3. Beat in the vanilla rum, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest with the last egg. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a spoon, making a crumbly dough. When the dough becomes cohesive enough, press it together into a ball with your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  4. 4. Roll out the dough, using as little flour as possible, about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will have an unusual consistency. Cut with a small round cookie cutter. Continue pressing the dough together, rolling it out, and cutting until you have used it all. Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheets.

  5. 5. Bake in the preheated oven until set but not browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the cookies immediately to cool on a wire rack.

  6. 6. Spread the underside of a cooled cookie with a teaspoon of dulce de leche, then sandwich together with another cookie until the caramel oozes out the sides. Roll the sides in the shredded coconut.

  7. Recipe via

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A New York City Christmas | 2015

     I love going into the city every year to see the new decorations they put up and the excitement of the sparkling lights beaming off the buildings. They had the theme song from the Home Alone movie on replay every few minutes and I was all "Kevin!! Kevin!!....Mom!!", that part at the end of the movie where Kevin finally sees his Mom always makes me cry. 
     Though there is always a hustle and bustle of people rushing through the streets, I'm so happy we still have these beautiful reminders of the Christmas season among us.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Christmas Favorites | Gift Guide 2015

     Since it's the first day of December, it only seemed fitting to compile a gift guide of some of my favorites on my Christmas list this year. Now I know I won't be getting all of these things all in one time (hey a girl can dream!), but I still love some of these items and thought they would also make lovely gifts for some people on your gift list. What are you wishing for this year? Happy Gifting!

A leather camera strap has been on my list for as long as I can remember, and this ONA one is so beautiful and classic. 

I wanted this pretty scarf the minute I saw it on the website and surprisingly it hasn't sold out...yet. It's perfect to top over a winter coat and add just the right amount of color. 

I am constantly on the search for new books from the fear of not having one on hand when I finish my last one, call me old school ;). I've heard so many good things on this one and so I need to get my hands on it soon.

Okay I've been saying I will buy this amazing palette for the past 4 years and I never got around to it. The colors are beautiful different ranges of neutral to smokey... perfect for any event. 

I love anything from Rifle Paper Co. and their calendars are no exception. This one showcases beautifully painted cities throughout the year... it would make any wall instantly stylish and chic. 

The second I received my Instax camera I finished all of the film. Okay not really, but they do go sooo fast!! It's an addiction and I need extra packs of these on hand at.all.times. =D

This tote is the absolute definition of timeless chic. I love the simplicity of the black with the stylish chestnut leather straps. Perfect for the summer and fall.

Yes another book. What can I say? I can't help myself!! I've heard how inspiring this book is and I can't wait to dig in and read her story. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Water Shoes

     A certain incident happened to me the other day in which had me wishing I had my trusty old rain boots once again. It was pouring down the wrath of Poseidon as I dashed my way to my car.... avoiding puddles was like trying to drive down a narrow street with potholes every few feet. And just when I thought I was safe... SQUASH! Yup exactly the sound of my small, and completely vulnerable to water Moccasin flats made when I stepped into a deep puddle. My pretty and fluff filled Moccasins suddenly became water shoes. 
     I looked down in disgust at my cold and now wet feet as drops continued to pour down on my head. Where are my rain boots when I need them?! I now wobbled my way to my car and with every step, my soaked shoe would squish up cold water and ooze it up my heel. Let's just say the drive home wasn't the most pleasant in my now Moccasin water shoes. 
     I went home and you guessed it... ordered myself a pair of rain boots. Oh yea and what's the first thing I did with them when they came? I JUMPED IN A PUDDLE... and I really jumped and twirled and stomped in it. It was almost like taunting the puddle, I had my protection now and I knew it wouldn't get me wet like the last time. 
     The whole point of this story? Well I thought it was quite funny now that I think about it, but also sometimes I think we need to accidentally step into a puddle to realize what we need. It isn't until we do that, that we really truly go out and get what we need so that we will be ready for the next time. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

More Than Skin Deep

     This short story was included in a book I recently read... and I thought it was so beautiful and heartwarming. We chase beauty that is clearly seen on the outside, but many times the beauty that is yet to be revealed lies on the inside. This story showed that the true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. 

     Houssaye wrote, "Tell me whom you love... and I will tell you who you are." In which can also translate to what we love in our lives. I hope you enjoy this story... the end totally surprised me! 

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. 

Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen. I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive...

I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat.. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. 

The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. 

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?" The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. 

"I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dark Romance

     I love the look of a glamourous dress paired with an intricately detailed Venetian Mask. It almost whisks you back to a time when they had fancy balls and would pair the masks off with beautiful gowns. There's just something about the masks that holds some mystery when someone is wearing it...a mystery in which then unfolds as only their eyes are revealed. I took some photos of my sister the other day among the beautiful Autumn colors... enjoy and happy Monday! 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Recipes | Homemade Flan

      I'm a total dessert person and I love trying new recipes. Flan is a classic and really easy to make! There are many variations of this recipe in which coconut flakes can be added, Rum, Dulce de Leche, etc,... But I love this simple, sweet and creamy one the most. Make this at your next party and I promise you it will be a hit! 


8 Servings
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

1 cup white sugar
3 eggs
1 (12 fluid ounce) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt sugar until liquefied and golden in color. Carefully pour hot syrup into a 9 inch round glass baking dish, turning the dish to evenly coat the bottom and sides. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Beat in condensed milk, evaporated milk and vanilla until smooth. Pour egg mixture into baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

4. Bake in preheated oven 60 minutes. Let cool completely.

5. To serve, carefully invert on serving plate with edges when completely cool.

Recipe via

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Apple Picking Fun | Alstede Farms

     I looooove Fall activities. Apple picking, pumpkin picking, hayrides and all that good stuff. Just something about being outdoors in nature during this beautiful season makes me all giddy inside. I seriously became a kid again along with my brother and sister petting all the animals, frolicking through the trees and taking bites out of the apples as we stuffed our basket with some to take home. If you live near Northern New Jersey and are looking for a farm, definitely take a trip to Alstede Farms... it was so much fun, and they even had an awesome band playing country music. Here are my photos of when I went with my family!

OKAY this was the funnest thing ever! 

Friday, September 25, 2015


     Wow exactly 4 years ago today I found myself just staring blankly in front of my laptop waiting for some spark of genius. Just give me something God... should I really do this or what? I thought as I tapped my fingers nervously on the keyboard. I had just graduated from college a few months before and had returned from an amazing road trip in California..... so now what? 
     I had a newfound passion for photography, but there was one problem. I had no idea how to use it. After a year of my camera collecting dust in my closet, I finally decided to really give this a shot and I enrolled in an online program and bought endless books. I was hungry to learn everything I could, but it was a passion inside of me that kept me moving forward. 
      I had been going back and forth whether to start a blog or not... and finally I decided to publish my first post. I want to tell you it was the easiest thing for me, but then it would be a lie. I CRINGED at the thought of a written journal of my heart being exposed online for everyone to see. But I'm so unbelievably thankful I did. 
     It wasn't much, in fact it was a few sentences declaring I'm all in... as my mind was saying BARBARA WHAT ARE YOU DOING, DELETE DELETE!!!! I'm so glad I didn't follow that fear. I've learned so many things throughout these past 4 years. I've met amazing people who have supported me in this wild dream of mine, and I've learned so much more about myself. I've discovered other loves and talents and even more dreams along the way!
     So what I say to you is this: Go for it. You don't have much to start with? Go for it. You don't think you're good enough yet? Go for it. If there is one thing I've learned the most, it's to not be afraid to start something. You don't know what you're capable of until you just try with what you've got! Whether it goes well or not... either way you'll learn about who you are along the way. Isn't that what life is about? Diving into new things and seeing what you can do? Yes it totally is!!! I can't wait to see what else is up on this awesome adventure... Happy Friday!! =) 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Recipes | Cream Cheese Pie

     I've grown a love and interest for cooking lately and sooo I've decided to photograph and post some of my favorites from time to time because, well who doesn't love to eat right?! So I was skimming channels the other day and stumbled upon the cooking channel and yep you guessed it, this recipe stopped me in my tracks. 
     It's called Cream Cheese Pie and it is courtesy of Tiffani Thiessen (aka Kelly from Saved by the Bell)... she has a new show called Dinner at Tiffani's! I love cheesecake and this recipe just looked too good to pass up and so here it is. Super easy and soooo delicious... if you give it a try let me know ;)


6-8 Servings

Total Time: 4 hours 45 minutes

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Filling

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature 

Sour Cream Topping

1 cup sour cream
3 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, confectioners' sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.
For the cream cheese filling: Put the cream cheesegranulated sugar, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl and beat with a handmixer on medium speed until smooth. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before topping; leave the oven on.
For the sour cream topping: Combine the sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Spread onto the pie and bake 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Project Her Heart: Skylands Manor Adventures

     I started Project Her Heart this past Summer as a personal project and to practice my creativity. I love discovering new places to see and to photograph, among them is the Skylands Manor, one of my favorite places to shoot. It's filled with beautiful gardens that stretch over 1,000 acres of land, including an old castle with both modern and rustic architecture. Here are my favorites from that day...enjoy!!