I did a series of posts on our 10 year year anniversary trip to Ireland months ago (Ballinskelligs, The Aran Islands, and The Rings of Kerry) but never got around to sharing photos from our night (or “overknight” rather) in a private 16th century castle. When planning our trip I knew this would be perfect stay for my husband Zade, a born and bred romantic, whom has mentioned dozens of times his dream to LIVE in a castle. Our hosts Sonja and Kevin, who felt like friends from the start, are in the process of restoring this gem and their vision and artistry is apparent. Handyman Kevin discovers authentic details on ebay and repairs, buffs, and shines them to a thing of beauty. He is currently working on the “great hall” (I included a picture) where they can host intimate weddings! The night we arrived we were greeted by a jar of honey meed in celebration of our ten years. We turned on renaissance music and were transported to an age gone by. A night we will cherish always!
My friend Allison Rhea dreamed, designed, and debuted her goal setting planner, Pace & Pattern, three years ago and I have loved watching her creativity and passion unfold. I photographed the planner last year and was delighted when she asked me to be a part of capturing the 2019 beauty!
In her own words:
“Pace & Pattern is a system designed to help you clarify your personal vision and integrate your goals into your real life.
It's not about doing more. It's about doing what matters.
This planner takes you from a high-level purpose, through setting meaningful and realistic goals, into mapping out your months, weeks, and days.”
I’m a believer. Pace & Pattern has helped me dream about what I want my life to look like and from there focus on the practical steps that will take me from desire to action. Last year one of my goals was “cultivating a merry home.” A practical aspect of this goal was completing open ended home projects. You know the kind: the ones you always plan to get to some day but somehow never find the time. For example, since we moved into our home two years ago I really wanted to paint and add some design touches to the kitchen in a way that felt more like “us” and “home.” Pace & Pattern helped me think through the steps to break up the project into small actions: decide on paint colors, buy supplies, tape the kitchen, find a babysitter, clean up, measure wall for shelving, contact carpenter, order brackets, hang shelves, etc! My kitchen is much more my own now and I know I wouldn’t have accomplished this project without the focusing power of Pace & Pattern.
I am excited and hopeful about the goals I have set for 2019 using Pace & Pattern. I, like many others, ask for a “word” to direct the coming year. Last year my word was “wick” which signified the desire to come alive…to awaken the liveliness inside when the outside seem dormant. Mine this year is “near.” To be near to God. To rest in him. To be close. To listen. To cease striving.
At the start of the planner you are guided through choosing five core intents to focus on in the coming year from which you craft a vision statement. This year mine is “I will live in the abounding joy of the nearness of God by listening to the Spirit, pursuing the souls, voicing the spark, nurturing the body, and havening the home.”
Your intents inform the goals ( habits - things you do daily, rhythms - things you do weekly or monthly, and big projects - you know what I’m talking about) that you choose to pursue that quarter. Here are my Jan-March goals:
Habits: 1. Eat vegetables at every meal (nurturing the body) 2. Memorize John 1 & 2 (listening to the Spirit)
Rhythms: 1. Host a game night monthly (pursuing the souls) 2. Organize & sell the excess in our home (havening the home)
Big Projects: 1. Restore Lilias’ antique four poster big girl bed (havening the home) 2. Start Lilias’ Home Preschool (pursuing the souls, havening the home)
Pace & Pattern is certainly a beautiful investment in your self and the dream ordinary you hope to walk in.
Also a special thank you to my models in my two shoots: Abby Nelson, Sarah Delotelle, and Melody Ussery and the shops that so generously allowed us to photograph in their space: Grounded Plant + Floral Co and Wildflower Tea Shop.
This was my second wedding for the Gardiner family and what a pleasure. The love in their family is so evident. As is the admiration and understanding between Jillian and Shane. And I am sure we can all agree…their dance floor was lit!
Ceremony: Anchorage Presbyterian / Reception: Gheen’s Foundation Lodge / Bride’s Gown and Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Rebecca’s Wedding Boutique / Men’s Suits: Men’s Warehouse / Desserts: Heitzman’s Bakery / DJ: Randy Embry at Triangle Talent / Catering: Ladyfingers / Makeup: Carrie Lentz / Hair: The Loft at Hubbards
Jim + Brianne on muddying up their wedding clothes on their one year anniversary.
Beneath the waterfall
Over river rocks
Under the tree’s roots
Beside the cliff
Near each other
Kent is our pastor here in Indy and we so appreciate his vulnerability and sincerity in leadership. He often shares about family life from the pulpit and, having children about the same ages, we can so often relate.
Notice in some photos how I intentionally blurred the boys movement to signify the velocity of this moment in life for the Livingston.
Life with three littles is wild and dynamic.
The one ring to rule them all: the magical Ring of Kerry!
We settled into Ballinskelligs and drove round the Ring of Kerry over the course of a couple of days. Most round the ring in a day. But, we sleep late, drive slower, and stop more. So, we stretched it out!
We explored 15th century castle ruins…
Skipped atop stone ring forts standing strong since 600AD…
Chatted it up with a mill worker while picking up a cute knit at the Kerry Woollen Mill…
Hopped on a jaunting cart, just at rainfall, at Killarney National Park…
Rested in the peace of Derrynane Abbey, a graveyard and abbey ruin only accessible when tide is out..
Discovered stones that, in Irish Mythology, mark the burial ground for a bard magician’s beloved…
Thankful to Zade who gifted me by braving all the harried driving himself!
When we booked our tickets to Ireland my very first decision was to schedule a landing tour of Skellig Michael Island, which in George Bernard Shaw’s words is “the most fantastic and impossible rock in the world.” Steep and rugged, this island preserves a sixth century monastic settlement complete with beehive huts, oratories, and a puffin colony. The night before our tour, we received word that no boats would be venturing off the coast for at least the next three days due to turbulent weather. We were heartbroken. But, our wanderlust was assuaged by the gorgeous AirBnB in Ballinsekelligs that would be our private paradise the next three days: Boolakeel House.
Booking a stay at Boolakeel House was a remarkable gift. Our desired dates were not available. But, I fell so hard for the property that its beauty made me bold. I messaged the host, Peta, asking if any space might be made available and to my deepest joy she welcomed us in and opened up the dates for our stay.
The property is a lavish 50 acre sanctuary boasting exotic gardens, a greenhouse with fruits and herbs which supplied our morning breakfast, a tastefully designed and decorated home, and a fascinating host. On one dusky evening I stumbled into a maze of hydrangea bushes and left wide eyed feeling like Mary Lennox. We were overcome to have such a lovely place from which to explore The Ring of Kerry and the local sites including:
Ballinskelligs Castle, a stronghold which is legend to have been constructed in the 16th century to defend the bay from pirates.
Ballinskelligs Abbey, a peaceful 12th century Abbey where the monks settled after one too many invasions of Skellig Michael by marauding vikings. We sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” as an echo of the saints who lived amidst the walls.
Skellig Chocolate Factory, where we sampled decadent treats and left with a couple boxes of jewel-toned wrapped truffles to share with the family back home.
We hope to return and make it on Michael Skellig some day in the future and of course we will stay at Boolakeel House.
When my cousin Clare and her family were in for the Fourth of July I wrangled them into some (almost) sunrise family photos at the park. They are some of the most welcoming and hospitable people I know. They bake a mean biscuit and style a room as comfy as it is gorgeous. I am so glad we get to do life together with our soggy bottom gang (aka toddlers and babies)!
In May we celebrated Jeshua's 1st birthday with a "Jeshua Tree" desert party. The theme befitting because Zade and I visited Joshua Tree National Park when he was in the womb and thus have nicknamed him our little "Jeshua Tree."
Desert scenes on plywood.
A paint your own cacti craft.
A sandbox "desert" where children could search for burrowed coyotes, lizards, snakes, and tortoises.
The cutest macaron cacti cupcakes.
A little musical production presented by Jeshua's extended family!
Hummingbird cake with wire constellation topper (because the stars are so bright in Joshua Tree) of Draco (because he is our little dragon) and the Little Dipper.
A tent with musical instruments of all kinds for children to make up their own -praise- songs!
I was so caught up with our lovely friends that I forgot to take so many detail photos from the party! I completely missed many of our guests, the street tacos, our musical tent, and most importantly: Jeshua by himself! But, these photos capture some of the spirit of the day and our curious, determined, joyful, chunky, and sweet Jeshua Tree.
We spent two nights on the quiet Aran Island: Inis Oirr. The last ferry from the island to the mainland leaves in the early evening and it is then that the little island comes alive as local children chase their siblings down to the town pub and join the entire town crowded round the televised football game. We listen to local Gaelic chatter as we spoon steaming seafood chowder and brown bread into our mouths. Our AirBnb host Pairic, whose family has farmed Inis Oirr for generations, shares how this land resides in his heart. He has worked it from brambles and stones and built wall upon connecting wall. My heart is touched to hear of someone so grounded to the land of his birth. Zade sleeps in for a rest day and I wake early for a day of adventure. After Paraic's hearty breakfast of Irish bacon, eggs, and sausage I ferry to explore the more polished and most visited sister island Inis Mor by bicycle. A horse stands waiting to greet me as I cycle by on my way to Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric semi circular hill fort perched 300 feet above the Atlantic. I race to discover The Serpent's Hole, a natural rectangular shaped pool into which the sea ebbs and flow at the bottom of the cliffs before my ferry returns me back to our sweet Inis Orr for the night. Before sunset we walk the sea path to see the amber rusted Plassey's Shipwreck, a cargo ship marooned by storm on the island in the 60's. Before we leave we choose a few famed Aran sweaters to keep the family cozy this fall. The shopkeeper tells me of his small island "I like it and I love it."
We stop for a quick peek at the Cliffs of Moher, ya know, since we're in the neighborhood.