My Twin Pregnancy: 22 Weeks!

Hello from 22 weeks!

I’ve been really fortunate that my pregnancy with the twins has been so healthy for “the first half” (hah…makes it sound like a football game). Both babies love to kick, especially our little girl, and move around mostly in the mornings and evenings. They’re growing at lightening speed and so is my belly! Earlier this week Sean and I went in for my anatomy scan and learned that our boy (Baby A, sitting lower) is weighing in at a hefty pound & a half, when normally babies at 22 weeks are about a pound. Way to go little buddy! Meanwhile, our little girl (Baby B, sitting higher) is right on target at a pound but carrying a bit more amniotic fluid which luckily is pretty normal for twins. The doc said they both look healthy but between their combined fluid, baby weight, my increasing back pain, and how I’m only 5 & 1/2 months so far – I’ve been asked to start taking it waaaaay easier. No more long walks or opting for the stairs. Shortened work weeks are encouraged. Unfortunately, no more air travel either :(.

My sweet mama and sister planned the sweetest baby shower for me that would’ve been next weekend in D.C. Y’all, I was SOOO excited to see so many of my favorite East Coast ladies again. It just about broke my heart when I learned that I shouldn’t fly. These are women who have known me since I was a little girl at our home church in Pennsylvania, others who are very dear friends from different chapters in my life, and most importantly – my amazing Wilson & Mason families. Being miles away from those who’ve known you for years isn’t easy. When we had to cancel the shower I was so sad, but then I started hearing from many of these sweet ladies with happy wishes for the babies and it reminded me to stop pouting immediately because I’m a very, very lucky lady to have them in my life despite the miles between us. It also reminded me of how lucky I am to have met such sweet friends here in Oklahoma too. Though Sean and I miss friends who’ve known us for years, our new friends here in OK have welcomed us with open arms and it means the world to us! We feel so blessed to be here.

All of this reminds us of the sweet world we’re bringing our children into. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the negativity surrounding the news and media, but we’re constantly reminded about how beautiful it can be when we choose to look at the world with newness just as our little boy and girl will; with wide eyes for the day’s new adventures and for the happy people who surround us. Now if that’s not exciting…I don’t know what is ;).

Speaking of “new adventures” – we took a drive to somewhere SUPER incredible yesterday. Has anyone ever been to Tallgrass Prairie Preserve up in Osage County? It was breathtaking! We drove an hour North to Pawhuska, OK which is basically the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. After lunch and a few photos in Pawhuska we drove into the prairie. Y’all…within minutes you’re like…IN IT.

Herds of buffalo.

Rolling hills for miles.

Dust stirring up behind our tires while navigating the dirt road, just as Sean’s truck was born to do.

Stella panting with excitement as she looked left and right at the new sights around her.

Tall grass brilliantly painted by the sunset’s golden hour.

The subtle sounds of peaceful nature on a beautiful day.

It was the perfect day 🙂

Tallgrass Praire Preserve - Osage County, OK

Tallgrass Praire Preserve - Osage County, OK

Happy Family

Happy Stella

As my 22 week-bump with twins is much larger than most women’s 22 week-bump with one baby, we took this trip as an opportunity to snap some photos of my pregnant belly before I get gigantically huge (say some prayers that I make it AT LEAST another 2 months…but we’re hoping for another 3!). Here are some shots from my little preggo photo-shoot. Give it up for my handsome hubby’s photography skills! I love you so much, Sean!

22 weeks - 1

 

22 weeks - 3

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22 weeks - 5

Review: Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix has become quite the popular way to shop these days. If you’ve never heard of it…think Netflix (sans all the “instant watch” stuff) but for fashion. If you like a certain look, you get to focus your upcoming delivery on a specific look. Got a wedding coming up? Planning a girls night out soon? Need cute new work clothes? Well if you’re not a huge fan of shopping, LOVE getting packages in the mail, and like the thrill and mystery of “what’s gonna be in that delivery?!” then meet your new best friend: Stitch Fix.

Three of my best friends and I (shout out to my CUTLETS!!!) group text all the time, and one day Stitch Fix was brought up. A few of us signed up right away just to see what the fuss was all about. As soon as we each got our packages it was like the BEST way to shop with friends…but still be an introvert alone at home. PERFECT! Texted them my fashion show photos of each dress/outfit the delivery provided. They’d “yay” or “nay” the ones worth or not worth keeping. So fun, so easy…and any that I didn’t want to keep I’d just put in the return address bag and back to the little Stitch Fix factory it went! How easy.

https://instagram.com/p/7OabDAtO_7/?taken-by=ok.kath

Side note: I feel like I’m advertising. Totally not. Please know that I have no affiliation with Stitch Fix. This is purely my own little review, on my own little blog, with my own little thoughts + glass of wine talking 😉

It hasn’t always been a love-love relationship though. I’ve learned a few things over the past few months, and hope that they come in handy for you too:

  1. They send you nice things…so naturally…the prices reflects that. Booooooo. But the good thing is – the $20 you’re charged each shipment goes into the final items you keep. So, that kinda helps.
  2. You have 3-ish days to make a decision. Use those days wisely. I’ve been all “I think I could learn to like this. Yeah. Sure! I LOVE THIS!” then 24 hrs later I’m like “Kath. What are you doing. That’s expensive and you didn’t even love it right away.” I send it back and am happy as a clam that I didn’t waste precious money on something I wasn’t sure about.
  3. Get opinions from people who know you. I consult hubs – he knows how excited I am when the package arrives. Hehe. Consulting your girls over a text helps too to see what’s worth spending your $ on.
  4. FEEDBACK. Give. Feedback. Seriously. It helps! After a few packages I realized that sometimes they just need a few tries to read your notes and get to know your likes and dislikes better. Right before this package was received I got a nice little email from Stitch Fix asking if there’s anything I wanted to give a heads up to my stylist about. “…my stylist….HAH!…I’m so FANCY!” Well this time I actually did, and I LOVED this package. I spilled the beans about how much I’m in love with Fall, how I’d like a new blazer in my life + new skinny jeans to go w/ my cowboy boots + a few fun long sleeve t’s. Boy did she deliver! Check out her nice note that came with it:6O9C3508
  5. Update your profile. I hadn’t updated my profile since I started an account and I noticed that a few things were off, which probably was why some of my previous packages were too. I updated my pant size, my “love it, like it, hate it” section of different styles, and a few others. Pants were a little too big in a previous deliver, but this month? PERFECT! Just good ‘ol fashioned communication.

Now, without further adieu. Here’s what was in my delivery this month, paired w/ a few photos of me actually in them (thanks to my handsome hubs for the model-photography sesh)! What do y’all think!?!

Tadaaaaaa! So what do you think!? There’s one that I want to send back…but I’m not telling which one. The other 4 I really like. Sorry that I didn’t get a photo of just the skinny jeans. I’m wearing them in every photo (and right now actually!) and you can at least see them in the 1st two photos.

Let me know what your Stitch Fix experience has been like. Did my 5 tips help at all? Hope so. What do you think about this month’s delivery? Which ones would you keep? Can you guess the one I’m sending back? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

If you’re ready to start the Stitch Fix obsession too, here’s my referral code! https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/4997431 

Happy fashion fix’in, friends!

The Amazing Stella

Reason #179,086,566 why our dog, Stella, is amazing. She’s an expert at playing fetch…and I captured it on slow-mo. Enjoy!

TOP 5: Photography Tips

6O9C9689-EditI asked a handsome photographer to share five basic tips for those of us who have an interest in photography but are typically scared off by fancy-shmancy terms and enormous lenses.

Oh and by the way, this handsome photographer is my husband, Sean. Hehe 😉

Have you seen his photos?! They’re stunning! I’m so proud of him. Sean has an interest in the complex engineering of cameras, and he also has an authentic eye for artistic potential. I believe (as do many others) that Sean has reached the caliber of a professional photographer, but with the demands of his career in engineering he likes keeping it as a hobby.

Over the years he’s taught me about the difference in shutter speeds, focal lengths, etc. But because I haven’t devoted the time it takes to “get it” through practice and hands-on research, I often ask him to wind it back for me and re-teach me the basics. Which brings me here.

I know I’m not the only one who could benefit from reading a few basics tips. Am I right…ehh? There’s a reason you decided to read this. So, Sean’s here to give us all some pointers. Take it a wayyyyy, honey! 😉


 5 Photography Tips for Beginners

by Sean Mason

1) Learn to See Light

You don’t need a camera for this tip which is why it’s often overlooked by beginners. Most people take light for granted; never taking time to admire all the variations that light can take.

Light can be harsh, or soft. It can fall off quickly, or barely at all. It can come from one direction, or many. It can come from down low, up high, from the side or sometimes both. Even more overlooked is its shadow. Many new photographers do their best to eliminate shadow altogether. This is often a mistake, because shadow can actually add add depth to your photo.

One quick tip for good light outdoors. Move your subject to, what photographers call, “open shade.” A tree will block the direct light of the sun and your subject will be lit with soft light bouncing off everything around them.

Another easy way to get good light for portraits is to use a window. So long as the sun isn’t shining directly into it, the window will act like a studio soft box and give you beautiful, soft side lighting with quick fall off.

Bride - Photo Tip 1Groom - Photo Tip 1

2) Change Your Perspective

One of the great things about photography is its ability to take an every day item and give it new meaning. We spend most of our life looking at this world by standing from 5-feet-something off the ground. Naturally, this is also the same perspective we take most of our photos. If you are struggling with uninteresting photos, try finding a new perspective. “Get low” as they say…or find a ladder. Move back, and zoom in. Maybe get close and zoom out.

Look! Cute dog. If you only point down and snap…you’ll get this kind of photo:

Good vs Bad

OR…if you can get low and take a shot from a more personal angle, you’ll get this kind of photo:

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3) Composition Isn’t a Scary Word.

Google “Photo Composition,” and you will get a million results on The Rules of Composition. Most of which will go over the Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, Golden Ratio, Depth, Framing, etc. – and then, at the very end it will tell you to break the rules. If you were feeling nervous before that this fun and creative hobby was just about to take a dark turn into a classroom, this fact alone should give you some comfort. There is no pop quiz in photography. You never have to know which rule you are following. Jimmy Hendrix didn’t know the rules behind music theory and he did just fine. But simply knowing that these rules exist is a good enough start.

The reason why this subject is so broad and studied is that as humans, we see patterns. It’s what we do. We crave them so much that we will invent them even when there aren’t any. Composition is an awesome subject that you will eventually learn to love, but first – baby steps. Because this is for beginners, I will give you two simple tips that will improve your photographs right away:

A. When taking a photo of a landscape, try moving the horizon from the center of the photo to the bottom or to the top. This will simplify your photo and draw attention to the foreground or to the sky, whichever is right for the scene.

Hawaii - Photo Tip 4

B. When taking a photo of person, try to keep their eyes above the middle of the photo.

_MG_9369-Edit-Edit

4) Snapping the Photo is Just the Start

Now this tip can be a little controversial in some photography circles, but I think I have history on my side. Once you have your photo, you need to develop it. Ask Ansel Adams how long he spent in the dark room working on a single image.

Post processing has gotten a bad rap lately with the YouTube videos showing the power of photoshop, and the effect of advertising on young women. Well, I’m not getting near that, but if you use this one simple concept to guide you while you process your photo, we will both be safe. Use “post processing” to bring out and highlight the essence of your subject. For example, that zit is not the essence of your subject. Go ahead and get rid of it.

Ever take a shot and feel like it just didn’t capture the feeling right? The camera is a lifeless tool. It doesn’t have the first idea of what it’s pointed at. It approaches every scene the same way. This is not how our eyes work, and as such it is our job to do the work our brains normally do when we use our eyes. I don’t have a quick tip for this one, but try and move away from the one-click filters and graduate to the sliders/manual adjustments. I recommend Adobe Lightroom. Don’t worry about Photoshop; Lightroom can do 99% of everything you might need to do and it’s much simpler.

5) Keep Your Money Until You Know Why You’re Spending it.

Photography can become very expensive, very quickly. You don’t need the latest most expensive camera to get started. Either you will fall in love with photography, or you will eventually give it up. Either way, the days of your first camera are numbered. I recommend starting out with a second hand camera model from a few years ago. You will get the best bang for your buck while you learn, and when you upgrade – you’ll do so with little invested and as an informed buyer. The first thing you have to decide is how important size and portability is to you. Mirrorless Cameras have a significant size advantage over the bulky DSLR, but that size advantage comes with a couple trade offs. DSLRs are often cheaper, handle better, track moving subjects better, and have more lenses and accessories to choose from.

Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, and Olympus are all great brands. You can’t go wrong. I’m a Canon user and as such will point out a couple reasons to consider them for your starter kit:

A. They are the biggest, and offer the most extensive camera system you can buy into.

B. They make a lens that I recommend to all beginners, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8. This little guy is about the cheapest lens you can buy, and is sharp; great for low light, and can give you the background blur you see in professional photos. Pair this lens with a second hand Canon T3i and 18-55mm kit lens and you are on your way. I even have a sample image from a few years back.

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Canon T3i with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 – Settings: 1/3200, ISO 100, f/2.0

If you are set on mirrorless, I’d go with Sony, Fuji or Olympus. Nikon and Canon are the kings of the DSLR world, but their mirrorless cameras are not as good as the smaller companies.

Remember: a good carpenter never blames his tools, and the most important feature of any camera is the person holding it.

Good luck!

A Southwestern Sunday

Last Sunday was everything that a Sunday should be: uncomplicated, with just a hint of productivity.

In our home –  you could hear on T.V. the rolling roar from fans in the stadium for an NFL game, mixed with a frequent whistle blow from a ref, and of course…both cheering and heckling from my husband, Sean.

Outside – you could feel the warm breeze strolling through the scene of a jaw dropping blue sky with puffy white clouds scattered throughout.

Sean and I went out for breakfast, Stella and I went for a jog, I baked and cooked a little…but before all that we started the day with a little adventure nearby.

So, at 6:00 a.m. the alarm (set to a local country music station) began our day. I got my cowgirl boots and new red dress on. I poured myself a coffee while Sean packed up his camera, tripod, and lenses. We were going out to take photos of “the Oklahoma” that we adore so far, and I got to be the wannabe country girl that I am, staged in these photos. We live right by a huge, beautifully maintained open farm in town; we’re surrounded by them actually.

Our scene was set as the sun rose a brand new day for us.

Sean’s an amazing photographer. Seriously amazing. He just “gets it” when it comes to capturing an image’s inspirational lighting, its balance between interest and intention, and the pure mechanics and inter-workings of the camera that I have yet to comprehend. He’s just awesome. I’m totally biased, I know. He’s my hubby! But I’m just say’in…I’m super proud of him 🙂

Here are some of our favorites from that morning:

OK - landscape6O9C1834OK - leanOK - bootsOK - happyOK - profile

You’ll probably recognize one of them in “Newlie’s” new header. Thanks, Sean Mason Photography!

What do you think? Fellow “Sooners” – where should we go for our next photography adventure?! I’d love your thoughts.

Thanks y’all 😉

Katherine

Fire Making & Cookie Baking

Well hello, you.

How was your weekend?! Mine was relaxing. I really needed that break from the long week. I just adore being home.

Today we were pretty productive: Sean worked on photography stuff, I went for an hour long run with Stella, I baked homemade bread for the first time (SO yummy. Super time consuming. Worth it. But more on that in another post), and then…Sean thought of how cool it would be to time lapse a few things around the house. Like, one or two perfect representations of a Sunday at home. We decided to highlight him making a fire in our fire place, and me baking chocolate chip cookies. Two of my obsessions this winter: fires in the fireplace, and baking. I’m so proud of Sean’s photography skills (have you “liked” his Facebook page yet?!). He continues to pick up this stuff at lightening speed, and loving every minute of it. He put his time lapse into a video…wanna see? You know you dooo! Here it is:

I hope you enjoyed 🙂

As for the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, this was straight from Betty Crocker. My good friend Sarah Baker (hey girrrl!) gave me the Betty Crocker cookbook as a wedding/bridal gift back in November. I ADORE this book, and especially the classic recipes that it provides. The simple chocolate chip cookie recipe is in there. Go get it 😉

Happy Sunday.

Easy Breezy Beautiful

Remember how I’ve been trying to get back in shape? Well, I’m still trying: a 2 mile run here, a 3 mile run there, a walk around the neighborhood with Sean and Stella once in a while…but today was a breakthrough. FIVE miles! As in one, two, three, four….FIVE of them! Wohooo!!!! I’m completely exhausted now, but I’ve definitely felt like quite the little rockstar all day. I remember when 5 miles was easy breezy, beautiful (“cover girl!”) and that there used to be absolutely nothing to it back in college and high school. Then I suddenly began to grow closer to 30 and let continuous weekly exercise slip away from time to time. “Stop the madness!” I say. It’s time to bring back the easy and the breezy again.

While this morning’s run was anything but easy or breezy, it was so rejuvenating, and yes…beautiful. No one wants to spent their weekends sweating and in pain, am I right? But when the Sunday morning coffee, breakfast, morning T.V., Pinterest addiction, and online wedding venue searching is all out of my system…then what? I knew I wanted to clean the house a little, do some laundry, and make a fun dinner later that day, but that was reserved for “later that day.” What do you challenge yourself to do in those other hours of your day? I say make it beautiful with a little healthy exercise. Your heart and soul will thank you! Mine certainly did.

Interested in finding out how my five mile run went? ….no? Oh dear. Well tough cookies, prepare to be entertained anyway. Rather than rambling along as I typically do, I thought I’d try out a fun, more innovative way to take you along with me this morning. Anyone ever hear of the “GoPro” often used by snowboarders, skiers, surfers, and really anyone else who wants to personalize their active lifestyles into incredibly cool videos?  Here’s the GoPro website to see what it looks like, plus an amazing video on how it’s used: http://gopro.com/. I strapped this puppy onto my “Life is Good” hat, while getting my actual puppy, Stella, pumped up for our morning run. A few things to know before watching this: our house’s “office” isn’t always that messy (it’s filled with Sean’s camera gear), our front lawn currently looks like a mine field because Sean’s filling all the holes with dirt so that we can even it all out more, also – you’re not actually going to sit through 40+ minutes of my run – it’ll speed up and slow down for your viewing pleasure. Shout out to the world’s best fiance’ who put this video together for me today!!! Enjoy:

Hope you liked it! I know the camera was shaky, but it was a fun way to document it not only for this blog, but as a reminder to myself that despite all the things I’m trying to accomplish each week – beautiful exercise like this must remain at the top of the list.

And in other news…I made a delicious new dish tonight! Last Christmas, my Momma gave me my very own Barefoot Contessa cookbook. OOOooohhh my goodness…are her meals delicious or what!? If you love to cook and don’t own a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, please go by one this week. You’ll thank me. I flipped through the pages this morning before my run and showed Sean the winner: Indonesian Grilled Swordfish. Sean loved the sound of that, and he was all in. Here’s the progression to gloriousness in 6 pictures:

DEEEEEELICIOUS if I dooooo say so myself! And yes…I do say so myself. Oh wow. Okay, so all of the ingredients in the first photo was in preparation for the marinade. Appaaaarently the swordfish is supposed to sit in the marinade for four hours or more. Weeellll, that didn’t happen. Instead I just stuffed it all politely into our friendly ziplock bag, then into the fridge for about two hours. Good enough for us! Sean slapped both fish filets right onto the grill, and after about 10 to 15 minutes, they were ready. They were SO juicy, coated with a nice glaze from the marinade, and oozing with flavor. As our sides, I locked in hearty sized asparagus from Trader Joes (love you, Trader Joes!) in aluminum foil with butter, salt, and pepper. I also had pre-cooked rice the night before just incase we wanted it for lunch or dinner. Smart lady, ehh? It was so good. Sunday nights have become our more romantic homemade dinner nights. It’s so special to have that time together before the work week starts up again. It just puts a little bow on the weekend.

Love to you all. Now go eat and exercise lots. With the right attitude, it’s not as annoying as it may sound. As long as you’re happy about it: it’s easy, breezy, and beautiful.