Sunday, February 27, 2011

Buy Me Some Peanuts & Cracker Jacks!!!!

What's more American than baseball and apple pie!?!?  And I am proud to be an American, and I frequently eat apple pie, so last weekend, I headed down to Georgia to watch my brother Ethan (#21) play some college baseball!!!!

Now, I have to be honest, my sports knowledge is slim to none.  I don't have a good excuse . . . I live in the South where sports are a big enough deal to alter work and school schedules; my husband played football and baseball while we were dating; my brother has played baseball for as far back as I can remember; I played t-ball for 3 years (please hide your shock) . . . and if all of that isn't enough . . . my husband bought me a book, "The Smart Woman's Guide to Sports:  A Hip Handbook for Women Who Don't Know a Slam Dunk from a Grand Slam."  Have I read it!?!?  Let's just say it took me all of the first game to figure out which position my Ethan plays (he seems to stand between 1st & 2nd base).

These games were awesome!!!  By now, I'm guessing you realize I cannot possibly tell you what happened, but it was amazing!!!!  I'll let some of the photos speak for themselves, but in short:  The weather was gorgeous (75-80 degrees and sunny -- I got sunburnt . . . in February)!!!  The company was fabulous (my family is beyond entertaining -- we should go on tour - hahaha!)!!!  My brother hit more balls and homeruns than I can count!!!  And his team won the first game by a landslide, lost the second by one point, and won the third by several points!!!! 

Now, I am soooo ready for Spring!!!!!!!!  I guess baseball will do that for you ;-)  And remember . . . Ethan is #21 . . . isn't he cute!?!?



Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sweetheart Session!!!!

I believe this has been my best Valentine's Day yet!!!  I got to spend the weekend photographing some super adorable children, and on Valentine's Day my amazing husband showered me with Godiva =) -- which of course came in very handy while I was editing!!! 

Here is a sneak peak of the most beautiful little girl in the world . . . my niece Brileigh!!!  I was soooo excited for the opportunity to take some photos of her Valentine's weekend, and we had so much fun!!!  She is so expressive!!!  And she really loved playing with the mirror . . . so here are some photos of my adorable little Valentine Miss Brileigh!!!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine Family Session!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!  I had an amazing Valentine's weekend, and part of that was getting to spend some time on Saturday with this fabulous family!!!  I met up with Josh, Jessica, and little Aiden in Jonesborough, and we had soooo much fun!!!!  And even though we were moving pretty fast (it was a little chilly), Aiden was perfectly happy and just went with the flow -- such a cutie!!!!  I hope you all have a HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!  Now, I'm off to enjoy some chocolate covered strawberries =)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

And they call it Bella Notte . . .

Oh what a night!!  People often ask what my favorite time of day is, to which I reply, "the blue!"  Weird answer, I know, but I can be a little weird if you haven't noticed.  I suppose I really mean dusk . . . I LOVE dusk!!!  I call it "the blue" because my favorite part is the gorgeous blue tint that is cast over everything!!!  I absolutely LOVE it!!! 

The Blue at the Tetons in Wyoming . . .
The Blue at the Amangani in Jackson Hole, WY

I was going to write about my favorite night, but I have so many I really cannot choose, so instead I am going to share several of my favorite nights!!! 

In 2009, my husband Patrick and I escaped to the happiest place on earth for our birthdays!!!  Yes, our birthdays are the same week -- we totally planned that ;-)  I have been to Disney World countless times in my life, but I had several firsts on this trip:  my first time seeing Princess Aurora from "Sleeping Beauty" and my first time seeing the SpectroMagic Parade since I was a little girl!!!  Soooo super excited!!!! 

This next photo is of the GE Building in NYC.  I have a few amazing nights tied up with this one.  When I was 19 years old, my super sweet boyfriend (now my husband) took me out for what was, at the time, the most romantic night of my life!!!  He made reservations for us at the Rainbow Room (65th floor of the GE Building).  I had always dreamed of going there -- it was featured in "An Affair to Remember" and "Sleepless in Seattle."  We had a marvelous time!!!  Divine five-course northern Italian cuisine, a stunning formal ballroom with a revolving dance floor, the most beautiful view of the Empire State Building and NYC at night that I have ever seen, and the most amazing man in the world . . . it was perfect!!!  Over the next few years, I took many of my girl friends up there to the Rainbow Grille for dessert!!!  The Grille was a small attachment of the Rainbow Room on the same floor but with a one-way view, but the staff always let us tour the ballroom!!!  I'm a sucker for a great view!!!  Then, in 2009 I just happened to be in the city with a large group of friends, and we were going to swing by the Rainbow Grille for desserts.  When I got there, I was told it was closed, that night was the last night, and they weren't accepting any more patrons.  I was heart-broken.  My amazing mommy somehow managed to talk her way past security and up the elevator and convinced the maitre 'd to allow us in even though they were already out of food and only had drinks left.  I was so sad -- it was the end of an era.  After 75 years, an iconic landmark closed it's doors, and I am excited I got to be there. 

Fun! Fun!!!  Ok, so this next photo is from a crazy night I spent making some of my family act as my guinea pigs!!!  I know they loved it and are honored to be part of this experience . . . or maybe I bribed them - hahahaha!!!  Anyway, I had been dying to practice photographing light writing, and what more fun way to do it than with sparklers!?!?  This was an amazing night in the world of Leverton Photography!!!  They were able to write all sorts of fun things!!  I was soooo insanely excited that I could do it that I kept jumping up and down shrieking with glee after every photo!!!!  Hahahaha!!!  I'm sure the neighbors thought we were nuts!!!! 

And last but least . . . I always love a beautiful sunset, and I have been blessed with seen sooo many of them in the last year!!!  I love it when God reminds me of what He can do!!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Confessions of a Chocoholic . . .

Do you ever reflect back on the past few days, weeks, or months and discover something crazy about yourself that you never realized before?  Well . . . that is not the case here.  I did however realize that my addiction to chocolate might be a bit crazier than I thought. 

So let me just tell you about my last few days while I sit back and enjoy a slice of chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory =)

This weekend I went to Atlanta for a fun-filled weekend with some of my best friends!!!  There were six of us from 3 states, and we were hungry!!!  Ok, so maybe I was the only hungry one, but we started out at the Dekalb Farmer's Market.  WOW!!!  They have everything . . . fish, amazing cheeses, spices, fruites, veggies, pastries, wine . . . they even had purple potatos (I jest not)!!!!  So while my friends left with carts full of healthy food, I left with chocolate chip cookies and croissants stuffed with strawberries and cream cheese!!!  Still healthy, right??  I mean . . . it IS a farmer's market!!!

Saturday morning, I got started with a salty caramel hot chocolate from Starbucks.  This was followed a few hours later with a strawberry tart truffle chased with a milk chocolate and caramel chocolixir at Godiva!!!  Yes, I was in heaven!!!  Just what I needed to take on Anthropologie, Neiman Marcus, and enjoy some dress shopping!!!!  Did I mention that Tammie tried on a gorgeous pair of Louboutins!?!?  They were AMAZING on her!!!!

After our shopping marathon, we had dinner at Maggianos!!!  And (surprise), I enjoyed part of a Boston Cream Pie followed by going back to the hotel for more chocolate chip cookies!!!!  And somewhere in the 10.5 hours of shopping, I age a caramel filled chocolate candy bar =)

Sunday morning, after breakfast I enjoyed yet another Godiva milk chocolate and caramel chocolixir with a truffle!!!  Then, with my lunch, I had a chocolate covered chocolate chip cannoli!!!!  Finally, before leaving Georgia, I stopped by The Cheesecake Factory to get 3 cheesecakes to bring home for me and my hubby!!! 

So just to recap . . . I managed to ingest 2 Godiva Chocolixirs, 2 Godiva Truffles, part of a Boston Cream Pie, 1 Caramel Chocolate Candy Bar, 1 Starbucks Salty Caramel Hot Chocolate, 2 Strawberries & Cream Cheese Filled Croissants, and multiple Chocolate Chip Cookies in less than 36 hours, and that isn't counting the chocolate I had on Friday or the cheesecake I am eating now. 

I'm full just thinking about it!!!  Now, I need Spring to come, so I can carry large loads of camera equipment through fields and down city blocks just to make up for all of this dessert eating!!! 

I will leave you with some important insight from one of my favorite chocolate boutiques:  Vosges' How to Eat Chocolate!!!!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Meet Me!!!

Ten Facts About Me:

1.  Hi, my name is Nicole, and I am a chocoholic.

2.  I did not own a pair of jeans until I was in 7th or 8th grade.

3.  When I was in middle and high school, my best friend and I would dress up (or dress my sister and her friend up) in random clothes we found in my mom and grandmother's closets and stage photo shoots . . . and now I get paid to do that!!! =)

4.  I will pay over $350 for a pair of shoes, but I cannot bring myself to pay more than $20 for a purse. 

5.  I married my high school sweetheart!!  We started dating when I was sixteen and got married 6 years later. 

6.  I have two super cute and wacky Yorkshire Terriers whom I adore!!!  Coco (named after Coco Chanel) sometimes goes shopping with me!!!

7.  I didn't know Elvis was dead until the early 1990s.  Yes, my mother managed to keep it a secret that long - hahaha!!!

8.  I attended 3 major universities and had 5 majors in 4 years before graduating.

9.  I LOVE to drive!!!  It is my stress release and gives me a sense of control in a world filled with chaos ;-)   

10.  I have a moderate obsession with Italy and most things Italian (gelato, passigatas, moscato, Ferragamos, Armani, Versace, and most of all Tuscany)!!!  Seriously, if you would like to hire me to shoot your wedding, event, or vacation to Italy, I will work for cheap!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now!!!

Dream big!!!  You can do or be whatever you want to be!!!  I am soooo incredibly thankful for parents and grandparents who always told me that by not just their words but their actions!!!  They believed in me . . . they still do!!! 

I'm not sure if my optimism about the future and my abilities is due to my belief in a God who loves and cares about an ordinary girl like me, my amazing and supportive family, or maybe it is even due to my being a child of the '80s (come on -- you know blasting Jefferson Starship & Journey has to have some sort of effect on a girl)!!!  I'm sure it is some combination thereof - hahaha!!!  Either way, it absolutely breaks my heart when I see people who feel like all hope is gone, like they don't deserve better or can't get better. 

Every now and again, I need a quick reminder myself, sooooo . . . for me and for everyone out there who needs a swift kick in the tush ;-)  No one on the planet is better at being you than YOU!!!!  So be the best YOU possible!!! 

Not to state the obvious, but this economy hasn't been the best.  On a positive note, I see many of the people around me getting creative and starting their own businesses and taking the plunge so to speak!!!  As W. Clement Stone wrote, "Every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit."  Another great American, Ben Franklin, said, "To be thrown upon one's own resources, is to be cast into the very lap of fortune; for our faculties then undergo a development and display an energy of which they were previously unsusceptible."  We should be taking advantage of the opportunities around us -- and of course, they don't have to be career related!!!  I know many of my dreams and goals revolve around my family, other people, helping others, and travelling (I LOVE to travel)!!! 

Sooo . . . whether we are well on our way to achieving our dreams or whether we're in the midst of a slight detour, we can press forward and do it!!!  I'd love to hear what everyone else is doing too, so feel free to share your goals, dreams, or plans of things you plan on accomplishing in the near or distant future!!!  Sometimes saying it out loud or writing it down makes it more real!!! 

One of my favorite quotes:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure . . . We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God . . . We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us . . . And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
-- Marianne Williamson