Our own Paris session

It’s been 6 weeks since we arrived back home after our trip to Europe. I figure it’s probably time to share a few of the amazing things we experienced during our 2 weeks away from home.

This was Ari’s first major trip. First plane ride, needless to say I was a little anxious about how it was going to go. There is only so much one can pre-plan and prepare, but I tried my best to get as much organized before we left as possible.

As it turns out, Ari is an amazing little traveller. She rocked that plane like nobody’s business. We brought a few key items to get us through…namely tasty snacks, enough fluids, and a few entertaining bits and bobs (skinny, easy to pack books, a fun kids movie, and a few fun stickers and pens).

Our first location was… ahhhh, Paris. I had been here once before in my early twenties. And I had been dying to get back since the moment I left. Paris is definitely one of my favourite cities I’ve visited so far in my lifetime. And this time round did not disappoint.

We got an amazing Airbnb place close to Luxembourg Park, and the weather was fabulous. We must have walked that park every day, pushing the stroller and soaking in something new and beautiful each time we walked through the pathways.

Our first day in Paris, we had to make our way to the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t officially in the plans for the day, but our ‘walk around the neighbourhood’ turned into a curious wander in the direction of the tower. And eventually we just couldn’t help ourselves but to see if we could get there! And we did. It was so exciting to see the tip of the Eiffel Tower peeking through the buildings, and finally having it come fully into view. We made our way to it, and had a little lay-down underneath as we just took in the upwards view.

Even though these photos weren’t taken till a few days later, these are such special memories of the Tower. One of my ‘preparations’ for Paris, was to book a family photo session while we were there. And it just had to include the Eiffel Tower. So, we met up with a wonderful local photographer, Olga Litmanova, at sunrise. If you can make it happen, it is a special way to experience the view, as it is such a quiet, peaceful time of day in a place that is normally full of tourists.

And since we are usually up with Arianna at 6AM on any given day, a 7AM photo session didn’t seem too impossible to make happen! It was worth it, as these photos are going to be mine to cherish forever… and that is exactly what I plan to do.

Thank you Olga for these precious memories…  you can check out Olga’s website HERE

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It’s about time!

Paris anyone?

It’s been awhile since I’ve dreamt of Paris. Actually, that isn’t true. I am always dreaming of Paris, but it’s been awhile since I’ve thought about it in any possible, tangible way.

What feels like forever ago, I took 3 days and soaked in as much of that city as possible. I was in awe. In love. Infatuated with ‘Paris’.

The 3 days ended, and I moved on. But ever since that first date with Paris, I have been yearning to go back, but the next time hand in hand with the love of my life.

The time has finally come to go back, and wouldn’t you know it, but I get to take the TWO loves of my life with me.

I know, I know. It’s just a city. I am a firm believer that the most valuable and loved parts of my life are the people who surround me, so why get all wrapped up in the idea of streets and buildings? Well, all I can say to that is… that’s why I’m taking them with me! Rain or shine, we are going to spend a week together eating crepes and tiny desserts, drinking good coffee and even better wine.

And then I get to kick off my wedding season with a countryside wedding between the rolling hills of England. Ummm, yes, that’s right. My lovely cousin and his beautiful fiance and getting hitched and I get to capture the memories for them (here the link to their Canadian engagement session!)! I could not be more humbled and excited for this wedding. And I’ve wrangled the amazing Amy Faith, who is an incredible photographer located in England to help me out, so that I can also relax with my family and enjoy the celebration as well!

And then we get to come back home to summer in the Okanagan. I’ve got a lineup of amazing weddings that I can’t wait to be a part of. I’ve got time set aside for making my own memories with my little family. And most importantly, I am going to do my best to be ever-present in each moment, whether that be ‘work’ or ‘life’.

My goal this year is to be more streamlined. More organized. More effective. Which will hopefully allow me to truly enjoy every minute I get to focus on my work, and then fully enjoy every second I have with my family. I want to work effectively, play a lot and get the perfect amount of beauty sleep (ya right). Everyone has to dream, right?!

Here’s to another trip around the sun!

Below is my sort of my ‘signature’ Paris photo that always brings me right back to standing on the corner in Montmarte…

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Seattle getaway

It was short and very, very sweet (especially the part where I was devouring the incredible banana caramel cheesecake from The Purple Cafe – we’ll talk about that in a minute).

Ry and I just got back from a much needed getaway to The Rainy City of Seattle, and it did not disappoint. We had been there once before, but just to fly out on our way to Spain (you can check out that ordeal HERE). This time, we came to enjoy some serious R+R. The only thing I had planned throughout the four days was a couples massage. The idea of a lot of coffee-shop time and book reading time was high on the list of hopefuls.

We arrived on Saturday and decided to walk it out. Check out the downtown area on foot. No map, no itinerary, just go and see what we find. We managed to get ourselves into the heart of things pretty easy, with our stroll ending at Pike Place Market. The market was mostly closed, so we did a little look around, but ended up heading back up the street, slowly making our way back to the hotel, but not after picking up a couple of cupcakes-to-go and prepping our plan for the morning!

The next few days we spent checking out the different neighborhoods – West Seattle and it’s adorable beachfront street, Ballard with its’ ahhmazing sandwich shops and unique storefronts, Capitol Hill where we found my favorite coffee shop of all time and drooled over some ridiculously lovely homes. In the evenings we ate at some of the most awesome finds in Seattle, including Local 360, my new favorite Seattle restaurant. As I already mentioned above, the ridiculous dessert at The Purple Cafe did not disappoint. We ate the biggest pizza pie I’d ever seen at Belltown Pizza. And randomly discovered some amazing lunches, especially loving the turkey sandwich from The Other Coast sandwich shop in Ballard.

On top of all that goodness, I even got to see the original Starbucks and the funky (and slightly stinky – of old trident I think) infamous Gum Wall.

It all ended with a couples massage… me getting a fabulously relaxing and completely indulgent massage, while Ryan came out apparently feeling like a well tenderized piece of beef (but he claims it was good).

All in all, a stellar road trip that I am excited to repeat when we can enjoy a bit more sunshine instead of snow/slush/rain. The one really good thing about the rain, is that it kinda encourages you to stay inside, and inside is where all the snuggles happen. So I have no problem with a few raindrops now and again.

Seattle-1 My first ever trip to the classic Olive Garden. First stop on our road-trip… Seattle-2 My sighting of the first ever Starbucks!Seattle-3 We came across some pretty sweet things on our nightly walks, including this super random  (and rotating) car wash sign.Seattle-5 Seattle-9 The steam made me think a few Ninja Turtles were going to pop out of the sewer! Seattle-13 The Gum Wall. Cool and very gross.Seattle-14At Roy’s Street Coffee + Tea enjoying a couple of ‘ love’ lattes and a love-bug truffle.

Havana

During our week-long trip to Cuba, Ryan and I wanted to go and see the big city of Havana. Our resort was a good 5.5 hour drive, so we opted for a 50-minute plane ride instead. We were only able to spare 1 day for this trip, so it was a long day, but I was thankful to have seen this part of Cuba.

We arrived to the Havana airport, which was definitely not the main city airport by any means. We went to use the bathroom at the airport (which was actually more like an outhouse), and one look, we turned around and opted to wait it out. We had left our resort strip and entered a whole other world.

This was my first time scouting a new city on a guided tour, but I must admit, I loved all the knowledge our guide had on the city and on the Cuban people. There is so much history in that country and their way of life is very opposite to ours in Canada, so I was trying my best to download everything he was saying.

We drove around the city and stopped in a few key locations to walk around and soak in a little bit of the city. Here are a few of my photos from the trip. I wished I could’ve had 2 weeks with my camera to walk around Havana.

I’ll start with the fabulous-ness of the cars and the roadsigns for horse and buggy…I’m not sure what caught my eye more, the building or the taxi.There were often people riding in the back of trucks, doubling (or tripling) on bikes, back of buggies. Whatever would get them from a-b.I have a bit of an obsession with photographing doors. I always see so much of a story…More doors.My favorite door from the day; a manicure and pedicure shop.The buildings and streets of Havana were beautiful, colorful, sad and destructive.

The people of Cuba were beautiful, colorful and full of love.

It is impossible to judge a city by what it looks like. I know it is the people who live within those walls that make a city what it is. A week was not long enough to even touch the surface of knowing the people of Cuba, but I am thankful for my time in that country and will await my opportunity to go back.

 

1 week and a dream

The countdown has begun. We are 1 week away to stepping on a jet plane, on our way to our first destination wedding! Not only that, but it’s Cuba with the fabulous couple, Tammy + Scott.

I have always been a travel bug. I adore seeing new places, and I find that my photography sense is slightly heightened by the excitement of the ‘new-ness’! And then add a wedding day full of love, and I’m in seventh heaven…

My ‘dream’, is to photograph all summer long in the beauty that is the Okanagan Valley. I am constantly blown away by how gorgeous this valley is, and I feel so lucky to call this home. But then… what would fulfill this ‘dream’, is to photograph destination weddings throughout our cold winter months… Rent a bungalow in Hawaii for a few months and photograph 10 beautiful lei-filled weddings? Oi.

So, here’s to chasing dreams and making this come true!

Since every post is better with photos, here is Mike + Christina’s engagement session we photographed last year in Hawaii. That light makes my heart melt… and so do M + C!

And then I also fit in a mini-engagement session for Mark + Janelle, since it was just a few days prior that Mark popped the question on the cliffs of Hawaii in this exact spot…

in my suitcase.

It’s no secret I love to travel, and in 1 month from now, I am going to be on a jet plane back to the place where Ry and I celebrated our honeymoon. Kauai. But this time we are going with the whole Lazeski-pack. Yup, like a wolf-pack, but way cooler. In total, there will be 6 Lazeski’s and 3 add-ons brave enough to travel with us!

With just 25 days left, I am starting to think of what to pack. My goal? Think light. But there are ‘musts’ that have to come with me, no matter what. Here is the list of what MUST be in my suitcase for this trip to Hawaii:

1. a mini bottle of conditioner. hotels always always have the 2 in 1 shampoo, and trust me when I say, there ain’t no conditioner in that.

2. $4 flip flops. what can I say? Joe fresh and I are tight!

3. A few cute sun-dresses. They work for daytime, and then just add a sparkly accessory and some sexy shoes, and you’ve got yourself a evening outfit too!

4. My camera. Of course.

5. Band-aids (just in case my winter-y feet reject the idea of $4 flip flops).

6. Old running shoes (so I don’t ruin another pair of new ones in the red clay that makes up that island!)

cabbage rolls and hockey

As Ry and I drove home this morning from my mom’s house, we were talking and laughing about the crazy Easter dinner we had just enjoyed last night. My mom is an incredible, incredible cook. She had created an amazing Ukranian dinner with all the trimmings.

And normally, our dinners are great! A little sibling rivalry, a little joke, a little ‘food’ silence. You know, the usual! But last night, as many of you probably know, was the 6th game of the Canuck-Blackhawks series. The game was supposed to end at 7pm, so momma had timed her dinner to be prepped and ready to plate for 7:01pm. BUT, the ‘Nucks couldn’t quite get ‘er done in the 3 periods they were alloted, so overtime it was. But Ukrainian food will wait for no-one once it’s ready to go. And Christina and I were dying sitting on the couch, smelling the food simmering in the distance. So, we all gathered quickly to the table, loaded up our plates full of AMAZING food, and dug in.

Not before the hard-core hockey fans of my family scouted out the prime t.v watching chairs at the table. The game continued about half-way through my perogies, so instead of the usual dinner conversations, the eyes were darting between the t.v screen and the plates of goodness.

I was sitting across from Mark, Joel, Christina and Mike, and in my opinion, the more entertaining view of the night was watching these die-hard fans! The sudden widening of the eyes. The quickened chewing of the food. The little yelps, grunts and mumbles. The fork that I was closely watching in case it accidentally launched across the table in a moment of excitement.

But, alas, the Canucks did not win, and as such we got to have our key-lime simply enjoying the company of family. I am blessed to have a family that when we come together, it is just so great to be together again, no matter the circumstances. Always fun, always entertaining, and always full of love.

 

Homemade cabbage rolls.....

My Ukrainian grandpa! xo

Malaga

We managed to have, what ended up being the worst, and funniest meal of our entire trip (well, except maybe the hamburger we ordered at the airport on the way home, which came without a bun. Yes, without a bun). We were searching for a restaurant called ‘Chinitas’ on Chinita Ave. I thought I had seen the street name, so we headed down the tight alleyway to a small area with 2 restaurants back to back. The restaurant was called something like “Ruana de Chinitas”, so I figured, must be it! The waiters did look a little crazy, but sometimes what makes a gem a gem is their craziness! So, we sat and ordered our sangria.

We ordered a few items that sounded good, and then happily drank our sangria while we anxiously awaited our tasty treats!

As the plates began to show up, my eyes jetted quickly to the side to see Ryan’s reaction. Suddenly on our table, was a huge pile of green tomatoes covered with a lime green slime of sorts. This was quickly followed by what looked like a mini pie made completely of egg. No crust or anything (and as we soon found out, no real flavor either). And then the calamari arrived… ok, and then what I was most looking forward to, the deep fried prawns. Well, these babies were deep fried all right, completely in thier little carcases. Head, tail and even their little legs. Mmmm. Yummy.

Once the waiter (who we decided was really the cook who forgot to change out of his pyjamas before coming to work), left the table, we looked at each other and just burst out laughing. This was the most ecclectic group of dishes I had ever seen. But what the heck! When in Spain….

The tomatoes turned out to be pretty good! The calamari was fine. Nothing to write home about. The egg pie was, weird. And the little shrimpies…I peeled a few of them and ate the meat, but after that, I’d had enough. I mean, seriously, you order ‘deep fried’ to enjoy the crispy part, but there was no way I was going to shove one of those things in my mouth, dangly legs and all.

So we did the best we could without looking rude, finished our drinks and headed off down the street. This was when we came across the true ‘Chinitas’ on Chinita Ave. And yes, it looked fabulous…. ahh, next time.

Malaga was full of some amazing finds. We enjoyed cafe con leche every morning in one of the many cafes. We loved to see the orange trees in all the parks and walkways. We climbed the Moorish castle on the hill and took in some amazing views of the city. Was able to soak in the life and works of Picasso (Malaga being his hometown). And we even came across a Palm Sunday parade our last night in the city, where we watched the locals of Malaga celebrate the beginning of Easter week. It truly was a wonderful trip to another world.

Barcelona

The city of Barcelona is a busy, beautiful, grungy, old-world, new world city. From the dirty street corners at night to the awe-inspiring creations of gaudi, Barcelona is like a sweet and sour candy. It makes your eyes burst wide open, makes your lips tingle and your face crinkle, but you always go back for more.

We had just 4 days to soak in as much of the city as possible. The first night, we thought we’d go out and celebrate over sangria and some tapas. What did we get? Sangria and randomly chopped up hot dogs with a few pieces of bread. Because Ry and I do not know Spanish, we definitely had some ‘unforgettable’ meals.

The next few days, we spent wandering through the great works of art such as Sagrada Familia and Guell Park, meandering through the back alleys of the Gothic Quarter, window shopping and trying to take in all the craziness of Las Ramblas. In the evenings, we would laugh and simply enjoy each other’s company over a bottle of crazy cheap (but very very tasty) wine. Eat some amazing food, and eat some not-so amazing food, and watch the eccentricities of the city pass by.

The late afternoon sun streaming through the windows of Sagrada Familia.

The beauty of this light was enough to truly calm ones’ soul.

Ryan’s pic of me climbing down the tower at Sagrada. My pics of the open squares and alleyways in the Gothic Quarter.


Our late night Metro ride. Always entertaining.

The evening scene in Barcelona. Surrounded by beautiful light and intense amounts of garbage. By morning time? Cleaned and washed, ready for another day.

And the literal eye candy was something to be seen at the famous Mercat de la Boqueria. These are some of the more pretty sites. I won’t post some of the ‘meatier’ things I saw that were close to putting me back on veggie food for life.

And lastly, a beautiful set of tiles found at Guell Park, created by Gaudi.

Part II – Barcelona complete.

Part III – Malaga…to be continued

Pike Street Blues

Travelling is definitely one of my great loves, and this past 2 weeks, I was able to stretch my legs and go across the world.

Work was done, the car was packed, and instead of waiting until the wee hours of the morning to leave (which was the plan), Ry and my mom convinced me to leave that night…just in case. Just in case what? Well, let me tell you.

We leave, and all goes fairly well. We get to Seattle at midnight. We’re tired, we’re excited, we’re hungry, and we finally get off the crazy, almost killed us, I5.

All we can find (without a map) is a McDonalds. We order 4 $1 cheeseburgers and go to bed. Where? Well, since ‘the plan’ was to leave the next morning, we slept in the first class comfort of our front car seats. Ahhhh, yes. Classy.

We twist and turn until 6am the next morning and I am just so excited to finally see Seattle. Ryan reluctantly drives me back down the I5 to the downtown area of Seattle. Off we head to try and find the Pike Street fish market, now with a gas station Seattle map.

For those of you who don’t recall what those maps are like, they are HUGE. That thing, when opened, was the span of the whole width of the car. How was I supposed to read that thing! Poor Ry hadn’t even had a coffee yet, and he’s got me folding this enormous map out, crunching and crinkling, giving no real help or insight into where we are going.

But we made it! We found the comfort of a little coffee shop just up from the market where we enjoyed Seattle’s Best Coffee. Great books lined the shelves, coffee bean sacs on the walls, and a barista who made sure we got the breakfast sandwich we were craving.

We do the tourist thing and head to the fish market. We saw the fish, we saw the flowers, we saw the fresh veggies. We decide to walk around the block before heading back down the I5 to the airport, coming across some funky grafitti, angled streets and alleyways.

And here’s when the fun really started. As we’re heading out of downtown, needing to get to the airport, Ry noticed that the car heat is really starting to creep up. We figure, well maybe it’ll calm down once we get going. But unfortunately, that just made it oh, so worse. The gauge got so hot it may as well of fallen off the meter! We had to pull off the road, so we take the next exit possible, which begins to lead us…. to the docks. To the ferries. Oh, good. We FINALLY find a spot to pull over before getting docked onto a ferry, and as Ry opens the hood of the car, a lovely poof of smoke jumps into the air.

We aren’t going to make it, are we?

Throughout the following 45 minutes, I had a lump in my throat the size of a basketball. I figured if anyone asked me a question, all they would have gotten was an answer of sobs. Good thing no one was around but us and the birds….

Ry came to the rescue with finding a water hose behind some random building. The radiator fluid container was totally dry. What?! Yes. Thankfully, nothing had blown up completely, so we filled that sucker up with water, crossed our fingers, and tried to find our way out of this ferry exit, back to the I5, and to the airport before we missed our flight to Barcelona. And that is what we did.

Stay tuned for Barcelona pics and tales over the next couple days!