A First Birthday Party, Almost a Year Later

first birthday party woodsy adventure invite(front of Forrest’s birthday invite, designed by myself)

As Forrest’s second birthday quickly approaches, I thought it might be nice to finally share some images and words about his first birthday. Clearly, having an almost two year old makes it far harder to keep up with this blog. Between running a successful photography business with my wife and trying to maintain a work/life balance, the blog has been put on the back burner a bit. Good news is that I am about to move into a new co-working space where I am hoping I will be more efficient with my work, thus giving mysef more time to put effort into this blog, because I really have grown attached to it and love what it is/was becoming.

mountain adventure fall first birthday(Teepee tent, pillows from Amazon. Bear from Target. Blanket from Modern Burlap)

I’ll admit, I was one of those people who thought it was ridiculous to throw a one year old a big party and go all out when they won’t even remember it. But I get it now. It’s not just for the child, but also, if not even more so, for the parents. It’s a celebration of making it through a year with this little human. And sure, he won’t remember exactly remember his first birthday party, but he’ll have photographs of it to look at later in life. He’ll be able to see just how much he was and still is loved by all of those friends and family.

Along with tons of help from our family and friends, I would say we pulled off a pretty great first birthday party, especially since it was right toward the end of our busiest part of the year. Oh, and when I say “we”, I really mean my wife, Jessica. She put in the brunt of the work. We held the party at one of the shelters that you can rent out at William B. Umstead State Park. Since Forrest’s birthday is late October and a lot of our life with him involves the mountains and the outdoors, we went for a fall/outdoor/mountain theme.

mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday(Wooden mountain peaks made by friend, outdoor adventure hunt game designed by myself)

As tempting as it can be to put together a super cool party that has no childish vibes at all, we knew it was important to still remember that this party was in fact a one year olds party, so we really tried to make it enjoyable for both kids and adults. We had a good bit of food that would appeal to the adults and then some for the kids as well as the overall design and decorations. I think we succeeded there. Our style for gatherings has always been less pretentious and more laid back, which is how we hope to raise our son, so reflecting that in this party was also important.

mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday(Wooden mountain made by friend, mountain peak milestone painting by our friend Sarah Faucette, WILD ONE balloons from Amazon)


Looking back, I am glad we did all we did for Forrest’s first birthday. It may have seemed like a lot to us in the moment, but the first year is a big year. And heck, we didn’t do nearly as much as a lot of parents do. We knew our limits and kept to them and still had an amazing, memorable time. This year, his birthday might not be as involved, but I guarantee it will be extremely special too.

mountain adventure fall first birthday 016-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 020-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 018-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday mountain adventure fall first birthday(Teepee tent, pillows from Amazon. Bear from Target. Blanket from Modern Burlap)

010-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 022-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 011-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 023-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday 021-mountain-adventure-fall-first-birthday(Wooden mountain cake topper made by friend, cup stickers made by myself, birch straws from Amazon, Letterboard by Letterfolk)

Mother’s Day: A Good Gift Guide

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017Family friend and fellow photographer Rebekah with her newborn daughter, Penelope. Photo: Brett & Jessica

Since this time last year, I have witnessed my wife, Jessica, evolve as a mother and it’s a beautiful thing. As our son, Forrest, has grown, developed new skills and has really begun to show his more toddler personalities, the challenges have become different for Jessica, but I do know that she is feeling the reward of it as well. It’s truly non-stop around our home now and while I try my best to put in a good effort in helping out with Forrest, it’s Jessica who is truly doing the brunt of the work. Her natural motherly instinct kicks in and she just knows how to handle every situation, or at least it seems that way to me. Once we (usually Jessica) have put Forrest down for bed, she then begins to take care of the other tasks she has and by time we hit the pillows, I can sense her exhaustion, yet I hear no complaints from her while I may be laying in bed next to her complaining about some mundane, easily fixable issue I had with my day. She’s a trooper. A hard worker. A dedicated mother. An absolute blessing to both Forrest and myself. That’s why Mother’s Day means so much to us around here. She deserves, as all mothers out there do, a day to feel pampered and rewarded for her role as mom.

Beyond the spa day gift cards, flowers and nice dinner, I’ve put together a Mother’s Day gift guide that I think the mother in your life will certainly enjoy. Whether it’s the woman who birthed your child/children, your own mother or a friend who is a mom, these gifts should certainly make her feel special. Of course, don’t forget to grab a nice card too. I’ve recently been obsessed with everything Moglea has been putting out and they’ve got some amazing cards for mama’s.

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2017

Row One: Toulouse Art Print from Moglea ($40) | Trigg Hanging Container by Umbra ($25) | Coco Rose Body Polish from Herbivore ($44)
Row Two: Original Cinema Lightbox by My Cinema Lightbox ($42) | Eat Beautiful by Wendy Rowe ($16) | Mariella Mule by Nisolo ($159)
Row Three: aHead Wireless Headphones from Kreafunk ($145) | Marble Rise Necklace by Christina Nicole ($45) | C1 Amelie Bike from Public Bikes ($599)
Row Four: Rose Relaxation from Winc ($100) | Darkwave Perfume by Olo ($45) | Vanguard Saddle Bag by Tanner Goods ($249)
Row Five: The Classic Gardener Set by Barebones ($54) | Soy Wax Candle in Concrete Pot by Paddywax ($28) | Jack’s Wife Frida: Cooking From New York’s East Village by Maya + Dean Jankdlowitz ($16)
Row Six: Sarjaton Mug by Iittala ($26) | Blue Agate Coasters by BMS ($34) | Jasmine Aroma Diffuser from Stadler Form ($60)

Children’s Book You’ll Enjoy Reading Over and Over Again Too

best childrens books

If you already have a child, then you know well that whether you were once a reader or not before becoming a parent, that you certainly are now. We all know that reading to your child, even before they are born, is an incredible way to connect, educate and stimulate their rapidly growing minds.

Back when we found out we were having a child, one of the first things we did was buy books to read out loud so that our little guy could learn our voices right away. When he made his way into the world, we kept up with that. It’s paid off in so many ways already. Some of our fondest memories with Forrest so far are during story time. He’s been a book lover since forever and still is.

The thing with children and books is just like children and anything else; they get really attached to one thing or doing a certain thing. They like and need to hear things over and over. I am pretty sure that between my wife and I, we’ve read Little Owl Lost at least 1 million times. So, if you are going to be reading the same thing over and over, you mind as well get some enjoyment out of it too. There are ridiculous amount of books out there for little ones, so naturally, it’s hard to sift through all of them to find the good ones. The ones written well with interesting topics or amazing illustrations and that might even inspire us parents.

So, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books that Forrest loves and that Jessica and I don’t mind reading over and over. Feel free to share any of your favorites in the comments for others to check out as well!best indie childrens books

1 We Found A Hat by Jon Klassen 2 Home by Carson Ellis 3 This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers 4 Alphabetics by Patrick Concepcion 5 I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen 6 The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers 7 All Aboard! National Parks: A Wildlife Primer by Haily & Kevin Meyers 8 Dear Bunny… by Blanca Gomez 9 Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton 10 Wendell The Narwhal by Emily Dove 11 Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives by Lola M. Schaefer 12 Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan

Valentines Day Gift Guide

If I am being honest, it sort of feels like Christmas was just yesterday. It might feel that way because I wanted it to last forever this year, which may have resulted in it actually moving along a lot quicker. Having a child that is now able to get excited and unwrap his own gifts (sorta) and light up when he saw Christmas lights and so on really makes that time of year that much more special.

With that said, it’s hard to believe that Valentines Day is right around the corner. And if there is anyone who deserves to be spoiled a little bit this year, it’s my wife. Her constant mothering is never ending. Last year at this time, I thought those first few months of motherhood were a lot of work for her, but that seriously does not compare to what all she has endured and done in the last year. So, this year, I know I am going to do something really special for her aside from just a gift. I can’t say here of course, since she’ll read it, but I will share this Valentines Day gift guide that includes most of my ideas for her.

Row One: Waffle Robe from Coyuchi ($98) | Calm + Detox Bath Salts by Herbivore ($36) | Classic Ladies’ Analog Watch by Braun ($63)
Row Two: Bergamot & Mahogany Candle from Paddywax ($12) | Good Vibes Sweatshirt from Lou & Grey ($139) | Planner Notebook in Plaid by Julia Kostreva ($32)
Row Three: Small Leaf Earrings by April Soderstrom ($30) | Molly On The Range by Molly Yeh ($20) | Glass Blooms Perfume from Régime des Fleurs ($200)
Row Four: Plaidbrush Jacket from Lou + Grey ($249) | Contour Key Ring Bend by Areaware ($20) | White Ceramic Clock by Beautiful Things Online ($28)
Row Five: Mini Eco Tote by Abacá ($16) | Queen Linen Duvet Cover in Charcoal from In Bed ($242) | Charleston City Guide by WILDSAM Field Guides ($18)

This weekend I was able to get out of the house with Forrest, just the two of us, to do some shopping for momma. It was great. We loaded up in his Mountain Buggy Nano and hit some of my favorite shops around town. I love it when I get to spend some one on one time with Forrest out of the house. And one thing I love about living in the city is the easy access to loads of great shops that we can walk to. With the way things are going these days, I sometimes feel like my son and his generation might miss completely out on what it’s like to support local shops, which is why we try to shop at them as much as possible. And one thing that Raleigh has going for it, is it’s urban boom, including so many amazing shops popping up left and right. If you live in Raleigh or plan on being in the area sometime soon, you should make sure to check out:

Port Of Raleigh
Ramble Supply Co.
Lumina Clothing
Holder Goods
Devolve Moto
Raleigh Denim Workshop
Edge of Urge



If you’re anything like me, you are looking at the calendar and just now realizing there are only 16 shopping days left for Christmas. On top of that, you’ve got a huge workload to finish before the end of the year leaving you little to no time to actually go out and do your shopping. So, in the little bit of free time I have, I’ve been compiling these holiday gift guides full of great gifts for your lady, kids and even a list to give to your wife in case you are one of those “impossible” to shop for guys. Good news is that all of the products listed out below can be ordered online and I am 98% sure all of them will arrive before Christmas, if you get on it soon. Here’s to a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Holiday Gift Guide for Fathers

Row One: Fleece Lined Slippers by Woolrich ($40) | The Nordic Cookbook by Mangus Nilsson ($37) | Chef Shirt from Huckberry ($90)
Row Two: Passport Wallet by Fjallraven ($60) | MH30 On Ear Headphones from Master & Dynamic ($329) | Pour Over Stagg Kettle by Fellow ($79)
Row Three: Beanie by Norse Projects ($75) | The Carry On from Away ($225) | Pour-Over Coffee Dripper by Osaka ($36)
Row Four: Project I-1 Analog Instant Camera from Impossible ($300) | Tinford Jacket from Barbour ($179) | Daypack by Filson ($120)

Christmas Gift Guide for Mothers

Row One: Lori Colorblock Tote by Nisolo ($150) | Ellows Throw by Matteo ($165) | Creative Confidence by Tom Kelly ($18)
Row Two: Handbag Essentials from Grown Alchemist ($80) | Out & About Boots from Sorel ($110) | Stargazey Jumper by Finisterre ($127)
Row Three: 2017 Paradise Calendar by Rifle Paper Co. ($26) | Minuit Rose Gold Watch from Cluse ($99) | 3 Candle Gift Box by Norden ($85)
Row Four: Rivington Sweater-Coat from Madewell ($178) | Pouch from Delfonics ($22) | Model B Slippers from Glerups ($95)

Holiday Gift Guide for Kids

Row One: Work Bench from A Summer Afternoon ($49) | Plush Trousers from Zara ($16) | Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton ($6)
Row Two: Basic Knit Hat from Zara ($13) | Silver Metal Speedster by Schylling ($100) | Wooden Camera by Fanny & Alexander ($52)
Row Three: Mini Band Wooden Percussion Set from Hape ($29) | Ear Flap Hat With Pompom from Zara ($13) | Wooden Baby Puzzle from Manzanita Kids ($36)
Row Four: This Moose Belongs To Me by Oliver Jeffers ($12) | Table & Chair by PlanToys ($135) | Long Sleeved Footed Romper by Milkbarn ($31)

Stocker Stuffer Ideas 2016

Row One: Cub 41 Solid Cologne from Clyde Oak ($26) | Missouri Socks from Chup ($35) | Wooden Yo-Yo by Son of A Sailor ($28)
Row Two: Key Fob from Madewell ($19.5) | Werewolf: A Party Game for Devious People by Timber & Bolt ($15) | Rubber-Dipped Wooden Pinch Bowl from Madewell x Food52 ($10)
Row Three: Flask from Stanley ($28) | Deer Socks from ANONYMOUS ISM ($28) | Infuse Bottle by Bobble ($15)
Row Four: Natural Wood Teether by Grimms ($14) | Tile Mate by Tile ($25) | The Carry On Cocktail Kit: Old Fashioned by The Carry On Cocktail Kit ($23)


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