Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gasoline Rainbows - Amy Kuney

Stumbled upon this music video and wanted to share it with you. I think we - myself included - can get so caught up in the moment that we fail to look ahead. What we do today effects the Earth tomorrow. Our decisions and actions have consequences that affect not only us, but everyone around us. This is true in all aspects of life. I'm personally trying to be more conscious of this fact. This video has some thought provoking lyrics and images.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Simple Prayer

We just returned from our weekend trip to Italy. We had an absolutely wonderful time and I will share stories and photos later in the week but I did want to share a quick highlight from the trip.

One of our stops was in Assisi, Italy and we visited St. Francis Basilica. It was such a beautiful church with so much history. Unfortunately cameras were forbidden inside so I was unable to capture any photos to share, but what I was able to take away and share with you is the famous prayer spoken by St. Francis himself.

A Simple Prayer

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred .... let me show love.
Where there is injury .... pardon.
Where there is discord .... unity.
Where there is doubt .... faith.
Where there is error .... truth.
Where there is despair .... hope. 
Where there is sadness .... joy.
Where there is darkness .... light.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled .... as to console.
To be understood .... as to understand.
To be loved .... as to love.

It is in giving .... that we receive.
It is in pardoning .... that we are pardoned.
It is in dying .... that we are born to eternal life.

-St. Francis

This is also my heart's prayer.

I will share more about our adventure to Italy soon! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend too!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Things I Love: Nude Pumps

A pair of nude colored heels is a staple for any woman's wardrobe. They go with any outfit and can give a very classic and sophisticated feel. Not to mention they make your legs look a million miles long! :) Here are a few different styles of nude pumps and some of my favourite ways to wear them.

1. Forever21
2. Kristen Bell
3. Jessica Simpson
5. Ralph Lauren
6. Christian Louboutin wedges
7. Nine West
8. Shock Boutique
9. Target (this is the pair I own and I LOVE them!)
10. L.A.M.B. Crepes
11. Steve Madden
12. Jimmy Choo

all photos were found on google images

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Siblings In Switzerland

It's been nearly 9 months since Jared and I moved to Switzerland. Overall it's been pretty amazing. We've definitely had some huge challenges, but we've also had some pretty stellar experiences and we've learned so much about ourselves, about each other and have grown in so many ways. This has definitely been a life changing experience so far.

In the past month we had both my parents and my brother and sister-in-law stay with us. I can't put into words how thankful I am that they were able to make it over here so that we could enjoy some time with them. Family is most important to me and being this far from them has been the toughest part of this whole adventure by far!

We just learned some exciting news today though. My Dad is working with some of his clients in Italy right now and brought my Mom along with him. I got a call from them yesterday and we all agreed that it would be a tragedy for them to be this close to us and we not see each other. So...we've booked a train to Rome and we're going to spend the weekend there with them!! I am beyond excited! Jared has never been to Italy so I'm extra excited for him. And of course, more time with family is ALWAYS a good thing!!

As promised here are just a few photos of our time with Jon and Jess. We got to spend 3 days with them here in Switzerland before they headed off to Italy themselves. One of those 3 days was a holiday and here in Switzerland that means EVERYTHING shuts down. So there wasn't much we could do on that day but we showed them around our town, gave them a tour of where Jared works and enjoyed lots of laughs back at our apartment. I had missed just having them around and joking around. It was awesome just sitting out on our balcony living it up with them!

 The Gang at our apartment in Switzerland

The final day they were here we took them on a ferry boat ride from our little town of Lutry to Chateau de Chillon which is about an hour boat trip. VERY scenic and relaxing. Jared and I are already talking about doing it again sometime while we're still here. It was lovely.

 view of the Alps from the boat

 view of Lutry from the boat

We also took a tour of Chillon Castle - that was cool and somewhat creepy. The dungeon was cold and they had some sort of projector casting creepy shadows on the wall. It also had several old nooses that were used to hang the prisoners. We went to the very top level of the castle and I think we all got a little freaked out by the height and narrow stairs that seemed to be made of very old and un-sturdy wood. It had a lot of character and history though and it has some beautiful views!

 view of Chillion from the castle

One part of the castle we all could appreciate was the his and her toilets that were basically two wooden holes side by side. We got some pretty silly pictures of us enjoying le toilettes! :)

Looking longingly at Jared as he "uses" the his and her toilet in the castle :)

one of the rooms inside the castle

castle courtyard from the top

view of the ferry and the other side of Chillion from the top of the castle

It was hard to watch their train pull away from the station on their last day with us. But I'm remaining optimistic because we WILL see them next year! Not sure when, but we return to America in the fall of next year so whether or not they come here before our return it feels good to know we will see them next year regardless! It's a mindset I must have in order to not get too homesick. I keep looking ahead past the challenges that come with distance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hip Hop Love

I've never been a huge fan of Rap music. Mostly because the majority of rappers say the same worn out lines about money, sex and drugs. I like music to have more of a message. It can have a good beat but if the lyrics are terrible, I can't listen to it. I have been listening to Lecrae a lot lately. He's a Christian Hip Hop artists whose lyrics are real and raw. I admire when people break the mold and love the Lord in their own way and use their talents to glorify Him. You likely will not hear his music played in church on any given Sunday, but it is worship music nonetheless. And I dig it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

♥ Papa Bear ♥

Father's Day was yesterday. I talk to my Dad almost everyday, definitely every week and I realize how blessed I am that despite being an ocean apart, I still have a very close relationship with Him.

This video is so heartwarming and really reminds me of my Papa....

My Dad was definitely one who played with us as kids. He encouraged our imaginations and entertained us constantly. One of my favourite memories with Papa Bear was when we played "The Game". (original name title, I know) We would invite over our friends and play a more extreme version of hide n' seek in our basement. My childhood home had a large basement with lots of hiding places...perfect for The Game. We would turn out all the lights, find a hiding spot and my Dad was always the Seeker. It started out as an average game of hide n' seek but my Dad added new elements each time. He would add some scary music, then he began wearing a wig and shining a flashlight on his face while bellowing a scary voice whenever he found us. Eventually he incorporated a camera flash where he would temporarily blind us by the light adding extra excitement to the game. Unfortunately for me, after being blinded by the flash I ran into our rod iron staircase and busted my nose. That was the end of "The Game" as we knew it. But did we have a blast while it lasted!

I also remember him letting me play beauty shop with his hair, sock fights and ninja training, watching Sci-Fi movies on his lap and making an effort - despite his busy work schedule - to build us a tree house that ended up only having 3 walls and no roof. :) As I grew older he did his best to embarass me every chance he got. Afterall, isn't that part of a Dad's job? He made threats to all my boyfriends and followed through on a few! ;) He saw me through college and loved me through all of my mistakes. He gave me the wedding of my dreams and even helped with many of the details behind the scenes. He's shown me that he's not just an awesome Dad but an amazing G-Pa as well. He was the first to teach me how to love selflessly and to value a giving heart.

There really isn't enough I can say about my Dad. He doesn't always get things right but when it comes to the most important things - God, family and integrity - he is a loving example of each. He is dedicated to his family, devoted to God and displays the kind of integrity I admire. I am so SO thankful for his presence in my life.

I love you Papa Bear! Thanks for all you've done and continue to do. You're irreplaceable.

Dancing with my Dad on my wedding day ♥

One of my favourite pictures of Dad...doing his Nutty Professor impersonation :)

Best G-Pa on the planet!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Short On Time But Not On Excitement

This has been quite a busy week for us. I hoped to have more photos from when my parents were here but I sincerely have had no time to go through them and do any editing. I've been getting my new website up and running as well as investing time into Epic Alliance this week  so on top of my other daily tasks and preparing for my brother and sister-in-law's arrival I've just been unable to sit down and edit. I'll have to postpone an update with photos until next week. Thank you for being patient to those who have been asking.

I can't believe Jon and Jess will be here on Sunday!!! We are so excited!! I love and miss them so much!! I'll probably be skipping a few blog days next week while they are here. They are staying with us for just a few days then they are hopping over to Italy for an anniversary getaway before heading home. I'm so happy they get a chance to celebrate in such a special way this year! We're going to have a blast while they're here for sure! :)

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Things I Love: Noble Causes

I had a completely different post planned for today. Then I read this article and watched this video......

Suddenly that blog I had planned seemed so trivial. When I see an injustice I can't just say "Oh that's horrible." and then move on. I have to do something. I have to act. I want to help. I want to inform others who may not be aware. It's like a part of my DNA. I can't just sit back and do nothing or walk away.

I have become actively involved in several global causes because of this passion to serve, to empower, to encourage. I thought it would be much better to share with you some of the groups I support and/or volunteer with that I believe bring positive solutions to some of the major issues we face every day in our world. Please be inspired to check out these non-profit organizations, get involved and be the change you wish to see in the world. Click on any of the images below to view their websites.

These are just a handful of the great groups out there who's goal is to help enrich the lives of others. There are many more I could list here. If you have any groups that you think make a great impact on our world please share them in the comments below. Thank you to all of those helping make a positive difference in the lives of others even if it is locally in your own town, or church or family. Bless you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Website is now LIVE!

Hello all you photo lovers out there!

It’s here! It’s HERE! :) My new website is now LIVE!  Check it out at:

I had a lot of request to start making my work available for purchase online…so for those incredibly supportive and amazing people….here you go! I tried to work out all the kinks before making it public so I hope you find the site easy to navigate and work with.

Currently I have standard and customized prints available that use high quality photo paper. It actually makes a huge difference in the overall outcome of the images. I received a few test prints and they turned out gorgeous. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the quality.

I am also offering two types of fine art canvas. Traditional Wrapped Canvas as well as Float Wraps. Both products come in standard and customized sizes the real difference being the effect it gives when hung on the wall. The Float Wraps give the effect that they are in fact floating on your wall. A very cool new product that I’m excited to offer. Of course, the traditional Wrapped Canvas is a classic touch for any home or office. Both fine art canvas products are high quality and stock examples of each can be seen on the website.

Prices include shipping. I thought it would be easier just to list the total cost with shipping. So there are no extra or hidden fees. The price you see is the price you pay. Your order will be delivered to the address you provide in this lovely premium packaging. Looks a lot like Swiss chocolate doesn't it? :)

I’m really excited and yet nervous about this new part of my photography business. It’s sort of that treading into unknown waters feeling. You hope there are no storms, just peaceful sailing. Please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions or encounter any problems with the new site. Any feedback would be much appreciated!

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart! Your support and encouragement means the world to me! Hope you all are having a fabulous summer so far!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Torino, Italy - Home of the Holy Shroud

While my parents were here visiting we decided to make the 2 1/2 hour trip by car to Torino, Italy in order to check out the Shroud Museum and Cathedral located there. We knew we would not be seeing the original shroud that is said to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ because the authentic shroud is only on display every 25 years as a way of keeping it well-preserved I believe. But we were mostly interested in learning a little more about the history and evidence behind the shroud and figured while we were this close we should take the opportunity to check it out.
shroud replica inside the cathedral

I went into the experience fairly skeptical. Unfortunately in this world there are lots of scams where people just want to make money off of hype. I require evidence and facts in order to trust the authenticity of something. In other words, I don't just blindly believe anything without doing extensive research.

I certainly don't need a burial cloth or a history book for that matter to believe Jesus lived and died for me and for the world. He is not bound by books, by time or by our limited ways of thinking. But after hearing and seeing all the evidence to support the authenticity of the Holy Shroud, there is little room for doubt of it's genuineness.

I encourage everyone to do your own research on the this religious relic. The historic and scientific details are fascinating and difficult to ignore. Long before the latest findings an Agnostic professor remarked "Had the image on the shroud been that of anyone other than Jesus Christ, the sheer weight of evidence that we have seen would cause it's authenticity to be widely accepted."

The evidence I found most interesting was the qualities of the shroud that are unable to be reproduced. There is overwhelming agreement that the image was not painted or hand created. There are no traces of paint or other creative materials that would suggest it was drawn or designed by man. When photographed and viewed as a photo negative it has convincing naturalistic lights and darks. Long before the age of photography the shroud contained these hidden properties leading us to believe that this is the first photograph of Jesus Christ. Not only that but through more in depth scientific investigation, the image on the shroud has special 3D properties that can be appreciated with advanced technology.

 photo negative of the shroud

 depiction of Jesus Christ based off the image on the shroud

the shroud's 3D properties

The blood stains and visible wound marks that seem to be supernaturally transferred match the Biblical account of the crucifixion to the very detail. The nail piercings in His wrists and feet, the spear-pierced side, the injuries caused by a crown of thorns. There were also body wounds determined to be caused by early Roman weapons known as a flagrum that resembled a whip and had tiny lead or iron balls or sharp bone on the end used to rip through the skin and there are also visible shoulder marks consistent with carrying the cross.

 the shroud with both the front and back images of His body head to toe

 close up of His head and face

 close up of His hands and wounded wrists

It is also worth mentioning a seemingly insignificant fact that I found interesting which is that the blood collected from the shroud was tested and found to be the blood type AB which is a universal receiver but can only donate to others with the AB blood type. When thought of in a spiritual context it is more significant because Christ accepts all of us, but only gives salvation to those who accept Him and share the Holy Spirit.

Other interesting details include the rare herringbone cloth it is made of which points to it's distinct origin in history. This as well as small plant pollen found on the cloth trace it back to Israel where it must have been if it were authentic. Initial carbon dating has since been proven to be invalid because scientist used an end piece of the cloth which was undoubtedly contaminated by the countless times it was handled each time it was publicly displayed. It was quickly labeled a fake based on this alone. But a more critical look at the evidence and new research emphasize its validity. There is still much controversy over this, but the nature of the image and how it was fixed on the cloth remains a mysterious phenomenon which is likely why it is one of the most studied artifacts in human history.

What is also notable is how the shroud has managed to survive all this time. It narrowly survived through two major fires creating thirty-two holes in the cloth but leaving the vital image intact. It has also managed to survive floods, earthquakes, sieges, religious persecutions, vandalism all of which and more the cloth somehow survived.

But by far the most compelling details are found within the cloth itself. The hidden, and somewhat unexplainable properties of the shroud provoke deep consideration. Dead bodies do not leave imprints of themselves. And it can't be explained by direct contact of sweat and blood because science proves again and again that it only makes sense that something was flashed over a distance to create the contours that make up what we see as a photograph centuries before photography was even invented. It's as though it is a snapshot of Jesus Himself, coming back to life during the moment of His resurrection.

Perhaps the shroud gives us the same opportunity afforded to Doubting Thomas. Who declared he would not believe Christ had risen from the dead until he could put his fingers in His wounds. Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29) It's possible that the shroud brings us face to face with the same decision each of us must make individually. Whether or not to believe.

If you're ever in Torino, Italy I definitely recommend you check out the museum. I would go on a weekday when there are less visitors like we did. We had a personal tour with detailed explanations from a man who had been there for over 30 years. Very insightful. It is impossible for me to cover all of the facts and details in a single blog post. I encourage you to seek more information on the topic for yourself. I got the official DVD entitled Shroud - Passio Christi Passio Hominis which is directed by Academy Award winning director, David Rolfe. It delivers a visual and informative look at the history and authenticity of the shroud and is offered in 6 different languages. It can be found online for those who may not have the opportunity to visit the museum. However, the museum has several things not mentioned in the film and are best experienced in person. I'll probably share more of our trip to Italy along with photos in a separate post later in the week.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mental Vitamins: Distinct Value

The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." Albert Einstein

Jesus has called us to influence and illuminate others for good and for God. That means taking responsibility to do things better at home, on the job, and in all aspects of our life. If the only people we show genuine care for are those who will care for us in return then we aren't showing authentic love. Christ's command to "Love your neighbor" includes the less-than-lovable. And we love others when we add value to their lives.

 So how can we do that?. 1.) By truly valuing them. That calls for believing in them before they believe in us, serving them before they serve us, loving them before they love us, and giving to them without expecting anything in return. 2.) By making ourselves more valuable. We can't give what we don't have. So we must earn and grow, in order to give and guide. 3.) By knowing what they value. What happens when we are interested only in our own agenda? We know very little about the people around us. We should strive to make others' priorities, our priorities. Ask to hear their stories. Discover their hopes and dreams. Make their success part of our mission. 4.) By doing things that God values. When our life is done, what will we have lived for? Eventually everything on earth will turn to dust―including us. So we should devote ourselves to things that will last beyond your lifetime.

*excerpts from my daily devotional

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Switzerland With The Folks

It's a rainy day here in Switzerland so I actually have some down time to do a blog update.

My parents arrived here in Switzerland last week on Monday. I took the 2 hour train from Lausanne to Zurich to meet them at the airport. I really enjoyed the views from the train. I actually took a few photos from the window...

 beautiful sunrise taken from my train to Zurich

Seeing my parents after almost 6 months and hugging them brought me to tears! It was a happy reunion for sure! The first night in Zurich we had dinner with some of my Dad's clients at an authentic Spanish restaurant with good food, great wine and lots of laughs! The following day, my Dad was hosting a workshop for his business so Mama Bear and I went shopping! :) We also enjoyed the world famous Mövenpick ice cream which is made right here in Switzerland and is hands down the best ice cream I've ever had!  All in all it was a great start to our visit.

Mövenpick Mango and Cream ice cream
On Wednesday we headed back to Lutry where I live and met up with Jared after he got off work. He greeted us with GREAT news! One of his co-workers had been working on a project for 15 years with absolutely no results, so his boss asked him to start working on the same project to see if Jared could make the chemistry work.....long story short, it took Jared only TWO WEEKS to accomplish what the other guy couldn't in 15 YEARS! To be fair to the other guy...the project was not simple, it was actually quite difficult....but God has simply blessed Jared with talent and wisdom when it comes to his field of chemistry. This is his third and definitely his best patent yet since he started working at EPFL 7 months ago! I couldn't be more thrilled for him or more proud of his accomplishments!

With my parents being in town and Jared's awesome news we decided a celebration was in order! So we had dinner at a Portuguese restaurant right by Lake Geneva in our little town of Lutry. It was DELICIOUS! Definitely a do again! After dinner we enjoyed a leisurely walk by the lake and enjoyed the sunset. Perfect.

 Lutry, Switzerland at sunset

On Thursday we did our weekly grocery shopping and also picked up some fresh herbs to start a little herb garden. The planter looks so cute sitting outside our kitchen window! :) We now have fresh basil, rosemary, oregano and lime. The lime smells AMAZING. I also got my hair cut for the first time in 6 months and the first time ever in Switzerland. It was a very positive experience. The guy didn't speak much English but with his limited English and my limited French we were able to communicate. I love how he cut my hair but WOW was it the most expensive hair cut I've ever had in my life! Staying true to the norm it was roughly double what a haircut would be back home in the U.S. so it will likely remain a bi-annual event for me.

 new hair :)

On Friday we had dinner with another one of my Dad's Swiss clients. He and his wife live in Geneva so we ate at a quaint little restaurant with excellent food. They were fun to be with. The wife was an absolute doll - so sweet and he was hilarious! We really enjoyed them!

Saturday was kind of a down day for us. We had planned to go to Italy to visit the Turin Museum and see the cathedral where the Shroud of Turin is located. Of course it is only on display every 25 years so we wouldn't be able to see it in person but the museum would be interesting to visit. However, the website said Saturdays and Sundays are bad days to go, plus I wasn't feeling very well so we are postponing our visit until tomorrow. It's awesome that Italy is so close by car or train. It's only about 2 1/2 hours to Turin, Italy from our place by car. Looking forward to that trip.

Sunday we took the famous Golden Pass panoramic train ride through Switzerland. It was a 6+ hour train ride through the mountains with gorgeous scenic views! My favourite stop was at Interlaken where we took a cable car up over 4500 feet to the top of the mountain with a beautiful overlook of the countryside and mountains. It was absolutely breathtaking! Very memorable! I took lots of photos but haven't had time to edit many of those yet. Here are just a few.

 view overlooking Interlaken, Switzerland

 Monday we tried out a new restaurant in Lausanne called Buffalo Grill. It is Jared's new favourite. It had American-style food (burgers, barbecue, steaks, etc.) with American size portions and reasonable prices. Jared's eyes lit up when they brought out his huge burger that tasted like it was straight off the grill. I'm pretty sure it will be our new date night hot spot! :) It had a nice outdoor seating area and as I said...the food was wonderful! That is one thing we will have to be careful about when we move back to the U.S. is the dining out and food portions. Here we eat out maybe once a month, I do all the cooking because it's more affordable and quite frankly...not many of the restaurants have good, flavorful food. And without a car we do a lot of walking...I've easily lost about 15 pounds since we moved here in October. Food is such a huge part of American culture...I'll have to try and keep much of our European lifestyle when we return because I'm healthier now than I've ever been. I can see how easily we could regress. I don't want that. Dining out should remain a treat. Exercise should remain a priority.

Tuesday night we had our friends Julia and Morgan over for dinner. I really do enjoy cooking and entertaining. I made fajitas, fresh guacamole, brushetta cheeseball, and black beans and rice. Even my Dad was throwing me multiple compliments about the food. :) I told them I learned from the best...my Mama! Growing up we had dinner as a family every night and my Mom loved to try new recipes and they were ALWAYS good! I get my love for cooking and entertaining from her for sure! It was fun to have our family and friends together for the evening.

So that is the long update. I had kind of missed blogging since I'm used to doing it pretty much everyday. But I put a lot of effort into my blogs, I don't just throw them together and time with my family was much more important these past few days. I have had a lot of sweet people write me and asking about updates but also encouraging me to take some time off from blogging to spend time with family. I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life who care about me and want to know what's going on in my life. As long as you keep reading, I'll keep blogging! :) Thank you for your love and encouragement. You mean the world to me.

I'll update again when I can. My parents are here until Sunday then in 11 Days my brother and sister-in-law will be here!! Can't wait to share adventures with them too! :)