Packing Light: Fall Edition

We’re leaving tonight! I can’t believe the day is finally here. Japan, here we come!

I couldn’t have asked for a better year for traveling. First Europe in the summer (Rome, Florence, Venice, Barcelona, Dublin, Paris, and London), and now Asia during the Fall. This time around, we’re going to Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

The thing I’m looking forward to the most – sashimi and sushi. I can’t wait to eat myself silly! I’m also ecstatic about shopping in Japan. I packed light but brought a huge suitcase to fit all my potential purchases (that’s the way to do it!).

Follow me on Instagram (user jayscup) if you want to see pictures while I’m on vacation. I will not be posting on my blog until I return so if you want to see what I’m up to or what I’m eating, follow me on IG!

Remember when I did the packing light list for the summer? I got some great feedback from you all, so here’s my Fall edition! It’s a great list for 2 weeks, weather ranging from 45 -65 °F. Such a range calls for lots of layers!

I’m obsessed with Madewell jeans as of lately (swooooon at the fit and quality). I’m also very fond of ankle boots right now! Just a tip, a girl should always have a chunky necklace to dress up any outfit. Now here’s my 2 week packing list:

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Jcrew jacket // H&M biker jacker // Jcrew puffer vest // Madewell perfect chambray ex-boyfriend shirt in ferrous wash // UO cuddle up sweater // Zara sweater // Zara cotton t-shirt // Target long sleeve // Target vintage v-neck // H&M camisole // Target tank // Madewell skinny skinny jeans in Madewell rinse // Madewell skinny skinny jeans: rip and repair edition // Piperlime Pim + Larkin ribbed knit mini dress // H&M patterned dress // Asos chelsea ankle boots // Piperlime Sam Edelman petty boots // Nordstrom Halogen Kayla flat // Target paisley scarf // UO open knit scarf // Jcrew Factory scalloped necklace // Jcrew Factory tote bag // Tilly’s fleece lined tights // F21 Beanie // Target Totes floral umbrella // Target metallic clutch

Don’t forget your undies, socks, sleepwear, toiletries, chargers, technology, and flight entertainment (tablets, books, snacks, pillow). These differ for every person so pack what you must!

When packing keep in mind a few key rules:

1. Pack neutrals – They are classic and never go out of style. Plus, they match with everything!

2. Each piece of clothing should be able to stand on its own or match with something else. Chambray is best for this! I can wear it as a button-up shirt, a cover-up with a tshirt underneath, a sweater over with the collar out, or as a shirt underneath my vest. That’s 4 outfits with 1 shirt!

3. It’s not the time for a fashion show. I get it! You got these cute printed pants that match with your chic sandals. But let’s be honest here. That’s one outfit… Show that off when you get back home. Packing light means packing smart!

Now if only I could pack these guys since they are already in the suitcase voluntarily anyway…

Kitties

What do you think? Am I missing anything? Are you going anywhere for vacation during the cooler months? If so, where?

See you when I come back and follow me on IG!
Jay

Prepping for Japan

Eep! We’re leaving on Friday for Japan! It’s coming up so fast!

This year has been quite an eventful one so far – first we spent 3 weeks in the summer in Europe, and now we’re off to Japan for 2 weeks. I’m so blessed to be able to travel with loved ones and make memories along the way.

This week, MG and I have been prepping for our trip.

We got our shots on Monday (the travel nurse recommended Typhoid and Flu shots for the both of us). Ouch! Typhoid really hurts. We looked so silly coming out of the clinic with bandaids on each arm. Too bad at this age, you don’t get candy…

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FYI – if you travel overseas, get the typhoid shot 2 weeks prior to your trip. That’s when the vaccination actually kicks in. At least we’ll be covered the last half of our trip!

Since you don’t get candy anymore after shots, we treated ourselves at Target.

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We bought a bunch of munchies for our long plane ride. Those Outshine bars were obviously for a late night snack! My favorite snacks – Cheetos!

We even got haircuts for our trip! I was getting so sick of my long hair. No oomph anymore, and I just continually put it into a ponytail, blegh. So here’s to change! Short and sweet!

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I have to curl it in the morning now, but I’m liking the new texture! Also for those of your wondering, my skin is slowly healing. I still have acne, but it’s not as bad as before. Now I’m in the stage of whitening the dark spots. Any advice?

Of course a load of jeans also go into the washer, as we are finalizing the packing list. Always turn your jeans inside out when they go into the washer. Then hang dry all your jeans so that they do not shrink. Welcome to the jean sale…

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And the best part of prepping – MG did not want to bring his large laptop while traveling. Our iPad is first gen, and our secondary tablet does not have an attachable keyboard. So his biggest desire was a Microsoft Surface.

He made his desire known at 4pm on Tuesday. After picking up our dry-cleaning at 6:30pm, we headed over to a Microsoft store and dropped some money. Now MG has a new toy! When he first asked me and I said yes, he was shocked. He didn’t expect me to say yes to such a large purchase. But why not? Let’s be spontaneous today!

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It’s so pwetty! It’s going to be a great tool for when I need to design graphics. I can’t believe you can open Microsoft Office and all the Adobe Creative Suites with the Surface. It’s a computer but in tablet form; amazing. I’m a Mac user myself (I’m using one to type this post), but Microsoft is really stepping it up!

Come back for my packing list on my next post. I have some fun items that I recently purchase for our Japan trip!

What do you do to prep for a big trip?
Jay

Pampering Myself

This Friday’s post – something fun, nail art!

Without work (cause my contract ended mid-September) and with MG out all the time traveling for work, I have more time for myself. Once I do the chores around the house, — cleaning the kitchen, dishes, vacuuming, and laundry — I have some time to spend on myself. Lately, I’ve been into nail art. Choo-choo welcome aboard the train, Jay… late to the game amirite?

I always thought nail art just takes too much time to create and then it chips. I still think that way, but it’s more about spending time on myself. In that sense, my mind about nail art has changed. It’s almost kinda fun!

You know how everyone has a color of choice for their wardrobe? Mine is without a doubt, navy. I’m obsessed. Honestly, the best neutral IMO (in my opinion). Of course, that translates into my nails too.

I just bought After School Boy Blazer by Essie. It’s a dark navy, almost black but not quite. Love it! Love it for the Fall/Winter season (c’mon colder weather, I’m eagerly waiting for your arrival).

With a little bit of glam, I created this look.

Essie

First step: base coat. I’m a huge fan of the Deborah Lippmann Ridge Filler Base Coat. It just makes my nails so smooth. Another advantage is that it helps my nail color stay on longer.

Secondly: your nail color of choice

Third step: I used Deborah Lippman’s Stardust for the metallic silver (which apparently is no longer being sold). Similar metallic here by Essie. I painted the tips by eyeballing how thin I wanted the line to be. Basically half the paint brush was painting my skin, but I just cleaned it up with remover later. If you have an unsteady hand, try using Hole Punch Reinforcements as a guide.

Fourth: Top coat/quick dry. I want to emphasize quick dry. Don’t you hate when you go to bed and your sheets get imprinted into your nails?!? That happens to me so often, so this quick dry is my savior. The Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat is the best I have come across. Get it!

Colors

You can maybe, perhaps, say that I’m kind of, sort of, obsessed with nail polish. But what girl isn’t? I wish I had every color!!!

Polishes

What are some of your favorite colors for this Fall season?

Paint away,
Jay
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Check out my latest nail art I created for my half-marathon. Because nails is essential to one’s outfit.

Progressive Dinner Activity

Remember that Progressive Dinner Activity I mentioned in my previous post (if not, here it is)? It’s a fun activity for a group of people 10+.

I’m in a fellowship group for my church. There are at least 5 groups in the East Bay, some with catered to families with kids. Occasionally, we’ll meet with other groups to get to know them a bit better, but it’s always hard to find an activity that we all enjoy (usually our activity will consist of food). This past Friday, we hosted something called a Progressive Dinner.

Progressive Dinner

Here is how it works – You have homes host an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. The host will cook the meals (preferably prior so they can join in on the fun), and the other groups will travel from home to home for each course. 3 Locations for 3 different courses, and everyone gets to travel to visit homes and enjoy food.

Our dinner was a bit more complicated since we had over 30+ people. Our variation was the 3 homes hosted all three courses, while the travelers would go from home to home. Different groups of people so that we could get to know everyone a bit better.

My group got fancy – we made menus for the table so that people could see what courses we were making. We also gave little goodie bags to everyone who came over (yup, overachievers!).

Our appetizer – Fresh crab cakes on a toasted Hawaiian bun with a dressed arugula salad

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^^^ Mounds and mounds of crab cakes!

Appetizer

Main course – Miso salmon on a bed of wasabi infused mashed potatoes and a side of seasoned green beans

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^^^ Look at that glaze!

Main Course

Dessert – Cast iron s’mores (so easy and so fun)

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Smores

Smores Done
^^^ Mmm… Mmm… Mmm… Those crispy tops!

Then we gave out these cutie little goodie bags

Take Home

Goodie Bag

These treats were simple to put together – 1 graham cracker broken in half, half a Hershey’s bar, and 2 marshmallows, put together in a sandwich bag, and tied with twine and a tag. Want to recreate this? Just download and print my tag here!

What do you think about this activity? Is this something you can do? What are some other fun activities that big groups can partake in? Please give me some ideas because we need some fresh thinking!

With Love,
Jay
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Find my crab cake recipe here

The Past 5 Days (According to my iPhone)

The past 5 days have been so much fun! I’ve been going out a bunch, with friends and family.

Starting on Wednesday, look at this delicious roasted chicken! If you want to recreate it, check out my recipe here. With the leftover chicken, I usually make chicken salad for sandwiches. It’s a great recipe!

Chicken

Moving onto Thursday, my in-laws picked me up at 10am, and I spent the entire day with them, until 9pm. Most people would find this frightening, but I’m fortunate enough to have lovable in-laws. I’m not even lying to you. We went out for Dim Sum in a very well-known restaurant called Koi Palace (a must if you are ever in SF). Afterward we headed over to Westfield to shop in Union Square!

Here I spent a nifty amount on some clothes at Madewell. I’ve been eyeing a pair of jeans, and I figured it’s finally time to spend some money on some quality products. I’m at that age where it’s about quality over quantity, and it’s important to invest in key wardrobe staples. I’m happy to say that at 26, most of my “college clothes” aka tanks, low-rise jeans, and t-shirts have been donated or sold. I’ve started buying grown up clothes, but I still I get moments of weakness at XXI (don’t you?). Got these Madewell Skinny Skinny Jeans and also the Perfect Chambray Shirt in a light wash (the one and only one left at Madewell located in Colorado; I’ll get it via mail this week). So excited for these pieces and can’t wait to show them off in Japan in 2 weeks!

Jeans
Madewell Skinny Skinny Jeans – Rip and Repair Edition

Chambray
Perfect Chambray Shirt – Similar Here

After shopping we went over to dinner at Shanghai House again (I went here in my previous post). Twice in a month. I’m such a lucky girl! And of course, Purple Kow again! I introduced this to the in-laws, and they enjoyed it!

Purple Kow

On Friday, I hosted a progressive dinner for Bible Study groups all around the East Bay for our church. I’ll share more about this in a separate post. Basically, different groups of people come for different courses of dinner (appetizer, main course, and dessert). It’s a really great activity! Anyway more in my next post.

Progressive Dinner

Saturday was a girl’s day! 3 girls and a mall means lots of shopping (yup, again). One of my friends, Jess, was willing to get some new clothes to change up her wardrobe, so I was on a mission to get her some new clothes. We made her try on a bunch of different things to get a sense of her style, and she ended up getting some items. I love helping people shop! I seriously find joy in it! To reward my hard work, I bought myself a sweater from Zara and a t-shirt from Brandy Melville. Yay! I’m going to be stylish in Japan! After shopping we got some groceries and made dinner at home. The rest of the night was filled with makeovers – testing out make-up and doing facials. So fun!

Facials
^^^ This picture actually creeps me out quite a bit!

Just a few random things – Olive and Lily (MG’s sister’s cats) are still staying with me. There’s not a dull moment having three cats playing in the house.

Lily
Lily is a people kitty. She doesn’t play with the other cats. When she tries, it ends with hissing and fluffy tails.

Olive
We joke that Olive is Chubs’ girlfriend. They wrestle and run around the entire house like it’s a playground.

Chubalee
And here’s my Chubalee, wanting to play fetch with that little fuzzy white toy. Oh and he’s standing next to my new booties I ordered for Japan. Aren’t these uber cute?

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Sam Edelman Petty bootie – Yay! Gosh, I’m ready to go to Japan in my new cute clothes!

What have you been up to? There are days where time seems to go by too quickly and that was exactly how this past week has been. How about you?

And a very important question, what kind of Fall staple pieces are you buying to gear up for colder weather? Do share!

Happy Monday,
Jay

SF Day Date

When I think of vacations, I think of out of the country trips. I rarely, nay… never, think of stay-cations. Staying in the area is actually a really relaxing getaway. I’m just a girl who’s always on the go, always booking up my weekends, and wanting to travel elsewhere.

My husband is the complete opposite. Ask him where his favorite vacation spot is, and he’ll tell you San Francisco… (we live in the Bay Area and that’s a 45 minute drive away).

Since he’s been traveling for work every week from Wednesday through Saturday, he was able to get Monday off. So stay-cation it was (which also meant fill our belly day)! We slept in and then set off to the city around 11am to catch a late lunch at Cotogna at 1:30pm. On our drive there, we decided we could just spend some time walking around the city.

First we went to Japantown for some fresh mochi at our favorite little shop called Benkyodo. The mochi is made fresh every day! When I first moved to San Francisco, MG and I came here every other weekend to buy mochi. My favorite ones are the fresh fruit ones – strawberry and blueberry. They are so soft like a baby’s belly, or clouds in heaven, or puppy paws. I think you get it… And I think you can tell I love mochi.

Mochi

Then we found parking in the Financial District and set out on a delicious lunch date. The pasta is tasty. The steak though… Amazing. I’m very picky with my steaks (being from Texas and all), but I’m also a stickler for it being seasoned correctly. Many restaurants over-season their steaks, with sauce or butter. But simple is the best to get the yummiest steak taste. Anyway, Cotogna does it right though it comes with a hefty price of $95. Worth it for our stay-cation!

Cotogna

Cotogna

After lunch we drove over to my old neighborhood, Outer Richmond. We got a milk tea to share at Purple Kow. I kid you not, best milk teas. The line is usually out the door, in the cold, but thankfully it was 3:30pm and those high school kids are still just getting out of school. We got our orders in, sat around, and watched as the kids piled in.

Purple Kow

Then we headed over to Ocean beach to sit around and enjoy the scenery. When I lived there, there were evenings that MG and I would just sit on the beach and drink some wine. I even brought dinner once to have a nice little beach picnic. One time we had too much caffeine, and we just ran along the shoreline for a good 15 minutes at night. Many memories are associated with Ocean beach, great memories.

Beach

We ended the evening with one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area, Shanghai House. I used to eat here at least once every 2 weeks. Every time my parents come to visit, it’s a must on the to-do list. Their xiao long baos are fan-fricken-tastic. And they make my favorite pan-fried pork buns (the best I’ve ever had). Their chicken wings are twice-fried. Every dish is so delicious and authentic. Promise me that if you’re ever in the Bay Area, you’ll try this small mom-and-pop shop out. Really delicious and hence that’s why it’s in my top 5 favorite restaurants ever.

Xiao Long Baos

Panfried pork buns

Then at home, we put together a shelf for the garage and organized (so married life…). And when it was midnight, MG decided to start cleaning his keyboard, key by key. Great timing… I left him to it and 30 minutes later “Jay… I need help!” I find him sitting on the carpet, using his phone’s keyboard picture to try and place every key back together. Wife to the rescue!

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Cleaning keyboard

That ends our stay-cation in SF. That’s also why I said this means that our bellies would be filled; we ate through the entire day!

This day date was a great reminder that it’s important for married couples to work on your relationships. Days seem collide together. First it’s me always on my phone. Then it’s MG always on his laptop. And that’s how you start to drift apart. It just happens and no one can be blamed. A day date was exactly what we needed, especially with him traveling so much now.

What are you favorite places to go in the Bay Area? Also, what do you do on a stay-cation (I need some ideas instead of eating my day away for our next one)?

Love and for food,
Jay

Disneyland California Adventures

It’s been a week and a half since I went to Disneyland during Labor Day weekend. And I’m still having Disney withdrawals! After our marathon, we were too sore to go to the park. MG and I ended up going the day after (in our half marathon shirts)!

Matching
^^^ Mg hasn’t achieved pro-status on selfies!

Is it cool to like Disney at the age of 26? I think so! The magic never goes away. That warm, fuzzy feeling after you watch Disney movies is the same warm, fuzzy feelings you get as you walk through the theme park. Going as a child is great. There’s so much to see and a few fun rides. Going as an adult is a whole different story. The roller coasters are fun, but what’s even better is that you’re willing to spend money on superfluous foods and toys (I always buy lunch and snack on a turkey leg, soda, and candied apple). More importantly though, you really appreciate the little details that Disney puts into the parks as an adult. For one thing, when you’re in line at the Little Mermaid ride, there are seashells in the pavement. But these details at Disneyland is NOTHING compared to Disney World. If you haven’t been to Orlando for the parks, do yourself a favor and go! It will not disappoint. I’m not over-hyping it, because you really can’t describe the fun in words; descriptions do not do it justice.

Mickey

Disney

Fortunately for us, the lines weren’t too long on the Monday that we went. The longest we waited was 90 minutes for Radiator Springs Racers. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not bad at all!

By far the highlight of the day was walking through Carsland. The designers did such a great job bringing Radiator Springs to life.

Radiator Springs Racers

Willy's Butte
^^^ Willy’s Butte Rock

Route 66

Cozy cone motel
Cozy Cone Motel – everything is cones!!!

Mater

Switch
Watching Lightening McQueen switch with Mater. Then the line got suppperrr long!

Line

The second best part of the day would have to be the Pixar parade. Look at how cute all the characters were. Can you think of some of the movies they are missing?

Sulley

Crush

Mr. Incredible

Bug's Life

Buzz

Toy Story
^^^ Haha someone is the butt!!!

Cars

Third best thing – my turkey leg. Reminds me of home, of the days my dad would come home with turkey legs from work. And it’s delicious!

Turkey

We ended up leaving the park at 6:30pm to catch our flight at 8:45pm. When we gas-ed our rental up and dropped it off, we noticed that our flight was delayed for an hour. We asked an employee if we could get onto an earlier flight, and he told us “run, it leaves in 10 minutes.” We went through security in a hurry, didn’t get a chance to clean off or wipe my sweat down from the day, and boarded our flight at 7:30pm. In an hour we were able to leave the park and get on a flight. It’s never a calm moment with me and airports. Travel with me to find out!

Have you been to Disneyland or Disney World? How did you like it? What is your fondest memory of the park?
Jay

Disneyland Half Marathon

This past weekend was by far one of the most memorable things I’ve done in my life. Coming back to a normal, regular day is so difficult when you’ve had an epic weekend.

If you’ve been following along, you’d know that I ran a half marathon. I ran a half marathon – that’s 13.1 miles!!! When I first started training, I could barely run a block. I was literally wheezing because my lungs would burn and my legs would ache. Not even kidding. But I did it. I ran a half!

Okay, more like walk/run. Still… I’m pretty proud! MG and I signed up for the Disneyland half marathon, inspired by my sister and her boyfriend who ran the half at Disney World in January. We trained during the month of August (yup, in one month). We ran 5 miles the first week of August and decided that if we could run 10 miles by the third week, we’d be ready. And we were right!

Remember my last post (DIY costume materials)? Were you able to guess what our costumes would be? It’s from Monsters, Inc. Ming-Gih was Mike Wazowski and I was his counter-part, Sulley. We looked like this when running:

Sulley and Mike

It was a blast! We ran with our friend, Sang (he did the Dumbo Double Dare which means the 10k and half marathon). We got up at 3am to get ready because the race started at 5:30am. To make things fun, we took many pictures, with as many characters as we could. I’m a slow runner, but Sang stayed by my side and encouraged me the whole time (Thanks!). With all the water stops, character pictures, and my slow jog, we were close to where racers are cut off (you must keep a 16 minute per mile pace). If you past that time limit, you get picked up and cannot finish the race. Once we saw where the cut-off was, we would run from that point!

Hotel
^^^ Ready and not sweaty… yet. We’re all Pixar characters – Russell, Mike, and Sulley ^^^

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What we look like at 5am – ready to run!

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Lots and lots of people in our corral – we were the last to go ^^^

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About to run through the park

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So cute!!!

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^^^ More than halfway!!!

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We even ran through the stadium

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1 more mile to go!

And then we did it!!! The finish line!!!

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^^^ This guy is a beast! He ran the Goofy Challenge (5k, 10k, half, and full marathon in January at Disney World). And now he did the Dumbo Double Dare (10k and half). Look at all 10 of his medals – including the Coast to Coast where you must run everything within the year. Amazing!!!

We finished the half but with a small injury. MG hurt his knee by mile 8 and couldn’t run the rest of the way. With a bit of bio-freeze lathered on, he could power walk the rest of the way. But YAY! We finished!

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My knee was a little sore but more importantly, I was starving at this point! Sang knows me well… He motivated me by telling me that there were snacks at the finish line!

Teheh I even did my nails for the race.

Nails

If you’re not a runner (I promise you, I am not), sign up for the Disney run. Characters cheering you on. Cheer squads encouraging you. Bands playing to pump you up… It doesn’t get any more fun than this! The Disney run will be a great motivator to work out and train. Plus, you get this shiny thing!

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Epic weekend is an understatement. Words can even begin to describe the memories I have from this past trip. Because of MG’s bum knee, we didn’t get to go to Disneyland after the race. But we went the next day! That’s a different post for different day!

Stay tuned…
Jay

Prepping for the Half

It’s Friday before Labor Day. That means one thing for me – the Disneyland Half Marathon is this weekend.

That’s 13.1 miles. Whew! When I first started running, I ran a block and was totally winded. I kid you not. MG convinced me to sign up for this half (why did I say yes?!?), and since then we have been training to run. I’m nervous but exhilarated. It’s going to be a great first half marathon with Disney characters cheering for you. Yup, that happens!

At first, I had decided to concentrate on my run and wear normal gear. It’s my first one, and it’ll be hard. But then, it’s Disney! How could I not dress up? I literally decided to make a costume this week, one week prior to the half. We basically have most of our gear (remember my Lululemon post?). But I wanted to make this half more fun by dressing up. One week left? Definitely do-able. I made a trip to JoAnn’s and Michael’s and Viola! I created something but won’t reveal it quite yet until after the half.

Here are some sneak peeks of my materials. Can you guess what characters we’re dressing up as? Keep in mind it’s at Disneyland!

Shopping

Outfits

Smile
^^^ Smile!

C’mon! Take a guess.

Come back next week to see pictures from the half marathon. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see pictures before they are posted on my blog so add me (username: jayscup).

Readers – any advice on how to get through?!?

Wish me luck,
Jay

Sophie’s Cake Smash

I had the pleasure of working with a little girl named Sophie, who just turned one!

A friend of mine asked me to take some family shots and birthday pictures for their little girl. How could I say no to one of the most adorable little humans? Mom wanted some cake smash pictures to celebrate her big birthday. We set a date, a location, and you get the rest.

Enough reading. Let’s get onto these pictures!

Collage

We actually found out she doesn’t like cake. She didn’t like the stickiness; she didn’t like the taste too much. We couldn’t get too many cake smash pictures. But I did get some of her being a little bit curious! We basically stuck her hands into the cake… We thought it wouldn’t be very nice to stick her face into it. Haha! Instead we dabbed her with some icing, which she didn’t seem to mind.

Outfit

Cutie

Sophie

Booty
^^^ Oh gosh! I loveeee this pic

Eyelashes

Arm

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^^^ I love these three action shots. Sophie is showered with so much love from her parents.

And this is my all time favorite shot. Mommy & Baby!

Kate & Sophie

It was my first photo session ever. So honored to have Kate and Eric ask me to photograph and trust me for this huge moment in their little one’s life. I thought that the cake smash part would be the best, but my favorite part of the session was photographing the intimate settings between mom and baby/dad and baby.

It’s definitely not easy being a photographer. Much respect! I’ve been trying to figure out my photography “style.” Any suggestions? It’s my biggest struggle right now. Do I like the pop of colors? A bit desaturated for the vintage feel? Brightness to wash out some of the background? Photographers, please give me some advice. How did you find your style?

Go eat cake!
Jay