Bring Your Daughter(s) to Work Day!  Our style.

Bring Your Daughter(s) to Work Day! Our style.

We had this brilliant idea last summer to bring our kids along on a work day.  Like a ‘Bring Your Daughter To Work” day of sorts.  Do you remember those??  I used to go every year when I was a kid.  I thought it was the best thing ever, even though my mom preferred I didn’t follow her footsteps to the Post Office. (To her delight, I did not.)  But who doesn’t want to find out what their mom does when they leave for an entire day of work??  I thought I had been let in on some big secret. And I got to miss a whole day of school and go home with all sorts of office supply goodies.  Seriously??  BEST DAY EVER!  Thanks, Mom!  You know how those go as a kid.  So we wanted to give some of those same awesome memories to our kids.

What better day to bring kids along than the day you’re interviewing businesses that sell ice cream??  The best right?  We thought, so, too.  And while I can probably say it was one of my most exhausting work days EVER (I didn’t know a hard work day until I was doing it AND being mom to 3 kids at the same time… chaos is a good descriptor), it was also one of my most enjoyable work days ever.  And one I know my kids won’t forget.  One of them continues to ask when she can return to work with us.  She’s the entrepreneur of my littles.  I love that about her.  It’s been such a wonderful example for her to watch me go out and chase my dreams with photography after investing so much into a different career in a previous time of my life.

The morning started at Vitaly Caffe, with lots of energy and gusto for our fun day.  What made it even more fun was that Maurizio, the owner of Vitaly Caffe, loves to feed kids his gelato!  They were in for some treats with Maurizio.

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Check out all their hearts!  Are they ready to love on Costa Mesa (I mean ice cream), or what??

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Sweet treats!  The kids got to try some fresh gellato straight out of the machine.

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Look at that deliciousness…

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Try a flavor!  Any flavor!

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They Heart Vitaly Gellato!

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Check out Vitaly Caffe at The Camp for lots of yummy Italian foods and treats!

After lots and lots of gellato tasting, the 5 taste testers (aka. kids) were hopped up on sugar and needed some run time.  We went to one of their Costa Mesa faves, Tewinkle Park.  These kids know no bounds with their energy level.  Honestly, where do they get it all?!?  The moms were zapped before we even got to the second shoot!

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We didn’t have long before it was time to head over to America’s Cup for our second shoot of the day.  You can imagine, at this point, how the kids feel about eating more ice cream.  Completely stoked!!  Plus, this time they got to get their own cup of ice cream, and douse it with whatever toppings their little hearts desired.  It was fun to watch.  By this point, I was so exhausted from chasing the 3 year old around, I could barely see straight through my viewfinder!

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Toppings and toppings and toppings, oh my!

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The very sweet owner of America’s Cup, Steve!

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The kids enjoyed their treats…

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and treats…

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and treats.

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And then they were interviewed for I Heart Costa Mesa about their experience!  Made their day.  You can read their sweet interviews here.

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It was a yummy, energetic, hilariously sweet and hysterical day with our kiddos, on our very own version of “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day”.  I wonder what we will do next year?!?


New Year… New You??

New Year… New You??

Happy New Year, world!!  Take a deep breath.  Can you smell it??  Can you smell that new year smell?  That smell of new beginnings, new opportunities, new projects, new adventures?!?  It’s here!!

I’m a lover a new beginnings.  I’m one of those people who will wait until a Monday to start something new, like a habit or a diet or a new schedule, because it’s the beginning of a new week.  So you can imagine what the beginning of a new year feels like.  Complete BLISS!  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks hibernating in my house, preparing for and organizing for the tornado of life that will be coming at me again starting this week.  Lists and schedules and menus, oh my!  Even now, the new year has started.  It’s January 4th, 2016.  BUT, since today is Monday, this is the official “start” to my new year.  I’m so excited I can barely stand it.  Happy first Monday of the year!  I encourage you all to be kind and loving to yourselves!

As a lover of new beginnings, and a despiser of endings,  I’m not always fond of that “looking back” part of the end of the year.  I’m usually day dreaming and planning the next year.  But this last year, 2015, it’s had a particular glow to it for me.  And I found myself fondly reminiscing on the ups and the downs of the year, and all of the things I learned about myself and my life and my relationships.  It was truly an incredibly year for me as a woman.  And that’s something I have to stop and appreciate, and then daydream about how I can make next year even more incredible.

It’s hard to put my finger on what made 2015 so incredible for me.  I’m already blessed with a loving husband, 3 charming girls that keep me on my toes, and a small but supportive family and group of friends.  What can you really ask for outside of that?  I am so grateful.  But I had some extreme internal growth this year that has been undeniable.  I know the catalyst of this change for me was the incredible books written by Brene Brown.  If you haven’t checked her out before, and you’re not afraid to talk about vulnerability and shame, I would highly suggest putting hers on your book list this year!  You will not regret it.

I was also incredibly blessed to happen upon a friend in the past year and a half that has been a catalyst for change in my life.  Sometimes I say she’s the friend I needed when I was a kid in school, we probably would have been besties! But there’s a reason I wasn’t allowed to meet her until now.  I think we feel equally as lucky to have found each other in this journey of life.  At this phase of life.  And now we are working on a project together that has led us on a fantastic journey I’ll never forget.  We began I Heart Costa Mesa at the beginning of the year, tooling around Costa Mesa, interviewing all sorts of people and businesses.  What you learn about life from embarking on a project like that with someone else is innumerable.  We’ve met so many people who have some piece in the growth I have experienced this year.  People who have opened their hearts and shared with us vulnerably and honestly.  And let me shoot them in the same way.  I am forever grateful.

We started a new part of the project just in the  past few months. Hearts of Costa Mesa.  Our first interviewee gave us a quote that I won’t ever let myself forget.  Here he is, as a reminder for 2016, as well as some of our other shoots from this phenomenal year.  Here’s to another life learning year on this journey called life!  Thanks for following along with me.  Happy New Year, all!



“I love that you guys are doing this project. The very act of stopping and paying attention to someone – choosing to photograph them in their best, most human light and to just let them tell their story – well, I would say that’s a holy act. It’s a life-affirming and loving act.

“It’s not that the hatred and the judgement don’t still exist in the world, but you are purposely choosing to focus on the love and mercy.

“It’s like when you watch The Sopranos and people say,’That glorifies the mafia, that glorifies violence.’ Well, no. It just humanizes a person who happens to be doing really awful things; so you end up loving him on some level even if you also really hate him. You’ve been privileged into seeing the humanity of the person, and all of a sudden you find it really, really hard to hate someone when you see their humanity. It’s just difficult.

“How do I hate someone who is human just like me? Through my eyes, it’s impossible.”

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Model trains chugging away at Fairview Park

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RC flying at Fairview Park

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Finding kombucha at Fermentation Farm

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Beautiful events at Grey Matter Museum of Art

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Watching instructors get gritty at Grit Cycle

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All in a day of WTF design at Davis Ink

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Cool dudes of Location 1980

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High notes at OC Music Factory


Fun times at Open House Creative!


Making friends at Pitfire Pizza


Last interview for Grants for Guns before going out with a BANG!


Beautiful, wool art memories with Castle of Costa Mesa

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Always painting her Art and Soul

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Taco goodness at Taco Asylum

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Listen to vinyl at Port of Sound Records

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Meeting some neighbors with Village Green Real Estate

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Beautiful barre skills with babe at Meraki Barre


31 Bits of incredible love


Sidecar Doughnut LOVE (maple bacon bar please)

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Yogurty goodness with endless toppings at America’s Cup

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Father son board shaping at Uhuru Sportscraft

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Gelato fun at Vitaly!

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Learning how to really decorate at Where’s the Party?

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Locking up volunteers at the Costa Mesa Historical Society

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Found some new faves at Love Bags

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Making friends at Mother’s Market

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Grace, love and acceptance at New Directions for Women

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Hanging out with my friend, having all sorts of fun!

Wow, what a year we have had!  We are even missing a few since those articles haven’t published yet.  2016 is slated to be pretty rockin’, so stay tuned, read up, and follow along!  And thank you to everyone who helped me learn my lessons of 2015.  I am forever grateful.

Hello 2016!

Healthy Gut = Healthy Life at Fermentation Farm

Healthy Gut = Healthy Life at Fermentation Farm

The simple sharing of knowledge can be a catalyst of change for a person’s life.  I believe that is why the I Heart Costa Mesa project has catapulted me into this phase of life that has me growing like crazy!  Each person we interview has been so willing to share intimately of themselves and their knowledge, the range of life that we learn about can be overwhelmingly beautiful.  It turns out that Costa Mesa is good for the heart, the soul, and the body!

I was grateful we had come to this place that I had, quite literally, no idea what I was going to be getting myself into.  Fermented foods??  I was a little bit scared.  The sound of it made me scrunch my nose a little.  I’m such a kid like that.  I planned on just taking my photos and minding my own business.  But, really Brandy?  That never happens.  Dr. Yaz shared with us some info, and some fermented food samples, that have altered the way I care for myself and my family.  I’ve had stomach issues for years.  Like literally years.  I can remember my mom taking me to the doctor as a kid, over and over and over, test after test after test.  Nothing ever found.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  As I got older, I thought that maybe my stomach issues were related to anxiety and mental health, so I attempted to treat it that way.  To no avail.  Enter Fermentation Farm, a little info about gut health, and some fermented food testers, and I have finally figured out the key to my chronically aching tummy!  Healthy gut flora literally affects your entire body.  It’s quite amazing.  We had a fun time taste testing and learning with the ladies at the store.  These photos are pre-new space.  If you’re looking for some gut health yourself, stop by and check out the cool addition they’re getting!  They’re super knowledgeable and helpful.  If you’d like more info on this cool business, check out their article.  Here’s some fun photos I shot of their space while we were there…

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Fun fact: Dr. Yaz and her hubby made this really neat light fixture themselves!  Thanks to Dr. and her team for educating me with their very important information!

A Magical Morning with the Castle of Costa Mesa

A Magical Morning with the Castle of Costa Mesa

I have a serious love affair with a gnome.  He’s a finger puppet.  And I like to wear him around.  I get this ridiculous big grin on my face, and childlike joy courses through my body.  This was my experience with Jzin Teng of Castle of Costa Mesa.  And perhaps why she gave me my finger puppet.  A reminder of a morning I won’t forget!  An absolute fairy tale, just take a step inside her garage.  The interview and shoot took us maybe just over an hour, but as we emerged from her garage, I felt like I had been lost in a magical land for hours and hours.  Unbridled joy taking a front seat.  The article written by the Mesa Maven here made me tear up, remembering what a special experience this was.

I really love this project.  We’ve been going around the city of Costa Mesa for going on 10 months now, and I don’t even recognize the person I have become.  There is something beautiful and transforming about being vulnerable and courageous and connecting with others who are doing the same.  I come home every week from these interviews, inspired by someone’s story, success, struggles, failures, trials, triumphs, resilience, every single person has taught me something.  The personal growth has been rich and immense and makes me yearn for more.  Good news is, there’s no end in sight to this amazing project!  It even just got some new legs on a new idea we are doing, Hearts of Costa Mesa.  Follow along as we document all of these incredible individuals we meet!

I’ve been failing miserably to document these beautiful experiences.  It’s been a creative madhouse over here with all this personal growth!  With inspiration abounding, I’ve taken up drawing and water color painting and have massive amounts of photos to edit.  The only organization to it all is in my brain.  But this is what growth looks like.  Sometimes pretty, sometimes messy, always beautiful.  I want to do a better job of documenting all of our experiences and interviews, if only to capture those connections that are changing my life, one person at a time.  Here is the beautiful art and work space of my new friend, Jzin.

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As if the morning could have gotten any more magical, a butterfly hatched in the doorway of her garage.  And my heart almost burst from the joy.

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I think I want to own almost every gnome that she has…are they not whimsical and intricate and beautiful??

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Such a beautiful day.  Thank you, Jzin, for the experience, and sharing matters of the heart.  Unforgettable connection.


Do You Have The Grit For Grit Cycle?  I Dare You To Try!

Do You Have The Grit For Grit Cycle? I Dare You To Try!

Grit: a positive, non-cognitive trait, based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve it.  This perserverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie within a gritty individual’s path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement and realization. This adamant refusal to accept defeat, this is GRIT.

If there has ever been a more motivating place for me to get my @$$ royally kicked, it is by the people at the ever loved, and always packed full Grit Cycle.  The instructors are amazing, the saddle room is amazing, the experience is amazing, the GRIT is AMAZING. If you haven’t, you must try it.  I’ve tried describing my experience to several people, and it’s…well, lacking.  I bet the Mesa Maven is going to knock that description out of the park though.  Check it out.  I seriously urge you to saddle up, and let them show you how much grit you got!  I can’t wait to go back!  Here’s some pics from our time with these super awesome people…

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Changing The World, 31 Bits At A Time…

Changing The World, 31 Bits At A Time…

We have met some seriously big hearted, generous people while out hearting Costa Mesa.  You don’t want to know how many times I’ve broken down into tears of joy and happiness so far on this project!  I’d say it’s embarrassing, but it’s actually not embarrassing to find that there are so many good people left in this world, willing to help others find a better, more fulfilling life.  There are many of these people in Costa Mesa.  31 Bits is just one of them.  The Maven, in all her writing prowess, does them better justice here.

The women who created 31 Bits are amazing in their own right, and what they have created is just phenomenal.  I was in awe as I sat and listened to this empire they have built in Uganda that is bettering the lives of those women and children, every single day.  You can check out all of their amazingness here, and they have these wonderful videos about how these women’s lives have been directly impacted here (I ugly cried during these videos, seriously beautiful work being done in these lives), and more information on how they are impacting  Uganda here.  Every single purchase from 31 Bits helps to empower these women who are fighting for their lives to make a better life for them and their children.  Check out some photos, read their stories, shop for some bits, empower women! <3

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