Life

photo life // week in review

It was a week full of craziness. Unplanned building maintenance forced me from my office for the week and I learned something, this former homeschooler can’t focus on work for an entire week at home. #shamefaced. So I found places to go to shake things up. From my ever-beloved Union Market, to a lunch date with happy Henry and Liz, to the home of the best baked goods in D.C. (outside of my kitchen) Baked and Wired. It was pretty phenomenal.

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And it ended on the high note of Opening Day baseball at Nats Park! Because what is better than leaving work early, eating limited amounts of ballpark food (being gluten-free is a bit rough there but it’s getting better) and hanging out with awesome people.

To the weekend we go!

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Life, Photography

photo fun // …and then, a penguin

In October of last year (2013), a small six person horde ventured to New Orleans to celebrate the 30th year of Ann Frances Entwistle. It was a time of crazy craziness, I mean we’re taking bike rides and long walks and trips to Whole Foods and lots and lot of champagne. Doesn’t it sound wild? It was super great times. That, however, is not the point of this point. The point is to show, that I, Whitney Porter, met and snuggled a penguin. Pretty much, I can die happy.

#afeis30 #wrpwasalmost28

 

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Life

back to basics // 2013

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Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

Sometimes things get complicated. Too flashy, too over the top, too everything and then you find yourself not knowing which way is up anymore. Where do I even begin when thinking about this year. Unknown, but I’m pretty excited for twenty-eight to come along. I guess the beginning is the place to start.

Earlier this week I was talking to a friend I dance with and in usual form, especially as I was watching So You Think You Can Dance, it turned to dance and lots of “I could never do that.” At some point I used the line, “comparison is the thief of joy.” Really good at dishing out those one-liners, believing them, a little less so. But it wasn’t the first time I’ve had the thought, and prayerfully I say I hope it won’t be the last.

Mantras run through my head:
Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Progress, Not Perfection
Compassion and Mercy
I Will Hold Myself to a Standard of Grace

Maybe it’s having a really good counselor (seriously, she’s awesome), but maybe it’s just a perspective change. So I started working on a goal planning exercise that really was way to introspective. Somewhere along the way I realized that I was spread thin, that when I smiled my eyes didn’t look a bit touch brighter, and that I was exhausted all of the time. I found out that I wasn’t going into early menopause and I didn’t have cancer (yay!), but then I discovered I was a wee bit too sensitive to gluten. Over and over I wondered why. Why are some people left behind? What does nothing really go as planned? But mostly, where did I go so horribly wrong?

Did I mention I have a great counselor? Because this is what came next…

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And I made one real realization.

It is time to start again.

It is time to reevaluate choices. It is time to see life as a place of joy and hope. It is time to cut the bad and add in the good. And sitting on a couch, talking about my feelings, I realized I had forgotten me.  As I throw myself into dance classes day after day and week after week, I wonder how I ever gave it up and vow to never let it go. When I hold a camera to my eye and laugh at the amazing love on the other side of the glass, I give thanks for life. So it is time to purge out the fancy and the over the top. It is time to create a brand that screams Whitney Porter. One that is full of life, hope, ups and downs, recipes, pretty pictures, craft ideas, weddings, and inspiration. It is time to stop being concerned that “readers don’t want this” (hogwash) or that “so and so’s blog looks so wonderful,” nope it is time for simple and clean. It is time for personality to shine, life to exist well and me to dare greatly.

But mostly, right now…it’s time for me to dance.

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Life

shine as brightly as the sun

When was the last time I’ve written a “deeper” post? Unknown, so why not throw in one.

On the bus back from NYC, the windshield wipers squeak at a rate I didn’t know was possible, and iTunes provides me with a cover to the incessant high pitched moments. Sutton Foster pours through my headphones…have I mentioned how much I love her. So, today’s feature is Little Women: the Musical and, as if I could have really forgotten my love, remembered it again.

Now nothing feels the way it was before
And I don’t know how to proceed.
I only know I’m meant for something more
I’ve got to know if I can be
Astonishing

This week I’ve been thinking about Georgetown. I would say I’m not sure why, but I do and I blame the Alumni twitter feed asking what moments made Georgetown…well…Georgetown for us. Images ran through my head at such a fast pace it was hard to keep up with them. Flitting images of cookie baking, smuggling a cake from the cafeteria, flag football on Copley Lawn. Chicken Finger Thursday in Leos, the big three movies of freshman year (Love Actually, Finding Nemo and Mean Girls), GUGS, and 400 little freshman faces that would torment and delight me for an entire year. I take a deep breath and I close my eyes and it feels like it was yesterday. I still think it was yesterday, it was 9+ years ago. I normally can’t explain to people why I loved it so much because it’s so much. It’s the professors that made my life better: Alyssa Webel made French so hard and so good; Diane Apostolos-Cappadona taught me about religious art, societal assumptions and was willing to take on a crazy Jewish Civ student and her thesis on Jewish women in literature; and the ever wonderful Amy Leonard, who made me write more about the church and sexuality (in early modern Europe) then I ever thought I would. As someone once said, I may have graduated with a degree in the best cocktail hour talk ever, especially in D.C., thanks for that Georgetown. Thank you for amazing friends, a Hall Director that fixed a little part of me without every knowing it, and a community that couldn’t and wouldn’t die.

There’s a life
That I am meant to lead
A life like nothing I have known
I can feel it
And it’s far from here
I’ve got to find it on my own

I look back at 17 year old Whitney, a freshman, 3,500 miles from home. But somewhere inside there was a fire and a zeal to make it work. Two months in, I fell off the path, I wanted to go home. Because my parents are wonderful, they let me…for 5 days…and then they made me go back. Thanks for making me go back to the people, to the place, to the experience. Without them I would have missed our run to the Final Four in ’07, the joy of regular trips to the Tombs and taking Studio Art, just because. I look back at it all, and the great bit is that I can look back. My little Canon point and shoot never left my side. I can relive our first snow of Freshman year and the last week, Senior Year, that we all had to spend together. I get to see it over and over again.

So when I explain Georgetown, I can tell it through photos that are apart of me, because of the ability to look back at the good and bad, to remember the moment and the feelings. To look at an image and be transported to that time and everything that you thought then. I look at the picture above and I like home, I think standing in line for a burger, I think of midnight conversations with pints of Ben & Jerry’s on the steps. So when I talk about why a girl with a degree from Georgetown wants to take pictures for a living, I think of my photo skills and I feel the goodness of such a decision roll over me. I send out engagement and family sessions and I love the joy that is expressed in such a thing. I love my clients. They make my day. Even as I am editing, I am drawn in by their emotions and expressions. Thanks, Georgetown for making me think that Cura Personalis was the most pretentious thing I had heard…then for making me believe in it whole heartily. The care of the whole person. Body, mind and soul. A moment that will live on forever.

A life of passion that pulls me from within,
A life that I am making to begin.
There must be somewhere I can be
Astonishing

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Life, Photography, Travel

let’s go // ephesus

“So would it make you all uncomfortable if I read Fifty Shades of Grey out loud on this plane? Would you need to talk about your feelings.”

This is how Ann and I began our trip from Istanbul to Izmir, with the most hilarious group of male seatmates from CA ever. They would come back again before the day was done. Off the plane we went onto a bus to Selcuk (and our hotel) and then a shuttle with Lily the rug dealer. All to get to the best place ever.

ephesusopener

Repeated comments of “is this for real?” came from my mouth. Ann managed a quick search to find non-obvious Biblical references to Ephesus and read aloud time began. There was an angry group of silversmiths that felt like their business of making silver idols was being threatened. So they caused a riot.

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ephesus, selcuk

ephesus, selcuk

There is something amazing when you’re strolling down a stone street that was built who knows when and you enter the public market space that was constructed in 300BC. I mean, it was a city with a thriving population of 250,000 people … 2,000 years ago. INSANE, I tell you!

ephesus, selcuk

Now, it is just a place for tourists to be in awe. It is also a place that explains the general thought process of Turkish preservation and this was something I thought a lot about…as I climbed all over 2,000 year old artifacts. We took pictures on top of columns, climbed through the arena and theaters, and then made one of our favorite discoveries…apparently sometimes they just let the archaeology students construct structures from pieces of columns and marble that mean absolutely nothing. But it also is a place that employees 10 turkish men to reconstruct a mosaic floor and the marble walls of the old homes.

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ephesus, selcuk

arena, ephesus, selcuk

arena, ephesus, selcuk

ephesus, selcuk

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Oh, and my favorite trip outtake…someone finally used her self timer. Someone also got a few laughs when she was found leaping in a column graveyard (my description, not the guidebook) in an attempt to get a great self-timed photo.

ephesus, selcuk

Only one more Turkey post to go. Then I guess it’s time to plan the next vacay.

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Food, Life, Photography

deb + pumpkin doughnut muffins

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So date may be a stretch of the word, but it wasn’t as snappy to write “the evening I listened to Deb Perlman talk about her book and then stood in line for two hours so that I could meet her, have her sign my book, take a photo with her and give her a pumpkin doughnut muffin” on the photo. But needless to say, it was pretty much the greatest moment ever and it means I can cross #13 off the bucket list. Have I mentioned that it was awesome and she was great. Amy and I had a blast, of course ran into people that we knew (hi Erin!) and my foot isn’t too much worse for wear. But really, I feel like I just had a mini life victory, I also like that I’m setting my life victory moments on a manageable scale.

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And of course, cause I am me, I decided to bring Deb my newest baking obsession…the pumpkin doughnut muffin. Since I have taunted people on instagram and twitter for the past two weeks about their goodness, I figured it would be a great time to give up the photos and recipe. They are amazing. Run, don’t walk, to make these. I’ve made them twice now and I really can’t get enough of them.

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Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins
taken from Martha Stewart
Prep Time 20 mins, Total Time 1 hour, Yields 12 muffins

For The Batter
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups pure pumpkin puree (from a 15-ounce can)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs

For The Sugar Coating
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

Make batter: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and allspice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as needed. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions pumpkin mixture, and beat to combine.

Spoon 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Working with one at a time, remove muffins from pan, brush all over with butter, then toss to coat in sugar mixture. Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.

Just because, some of my Smitten Kitchen Favs on Throwing Cake:
Homesick Texan’s Carnitas
Ranch Rugelach
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Buttermilk Ice Cream
Blueberry Crumb Bars

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Food, Life, Photography, Travel

foodie friday: turkey // eats

turkeyeats

One of the greatest parts of travel is the food, and I can easily find myself snacking waaay too often while on vacation. I’d say that Turkey was no exception, except that we were almost too busy to indulge in the greatness. I said almost. I personally had plenty of my favorite food groups, cheese and bread. And every now and then, I managed to squeeze in a vegetable, some fruit, baklava and one night, we worked in the greatest Indian food that I have ever had and I forgot to take a picture of said meal. The spices were unreal.

spice market, istanbul

spice market, istanbul

figs, sirince

All of the elements, the spices and the fruits and veggies, were amazing to see. The prepared meals and meze were just as wonderful. And nothing could top the adorable Turkish man on Heybeliada who pulled us over to the glass counter filled with pyrex dishes as he held his list of the meze options in English. He would point to an item, say the word, and point to the English word on the page while saying it aloud. My personal favorite was him pointing to an item, looking confused and then going with aubergine, everything else was a spot on translation, so we with it, because the french (and foodie) side of Ann and my brain clearly got that it was an eggplant dish.

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heybeliada, prince islands

Also, if you don’t love tea…prepare a great response ahead of time, because people are going to offer to give you a lot of tea.

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Next in the Turkey adventure, let’s get on a plane and see something great!

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Life

life break.

foot

A mini break from the never-ending Turkey recap. :)

I like to say that for my birthday I took a little blogging break. Really it was just a crazy time of the year. Mini-sessions for whit & whimsy, my 27th birthday, blogshop DC, and I know I’m missing about 50 other things but I did them. Then Sandy rolled in and everything in DC shut down and I got a break from work for two days. Sadly, on day 2, I may have given myself more of a break then I intended. Let’s just say frozen full mason jar + falling from the freezer + your foot does not equal fun times.

So it’s actually pretty funny, I’ve done this once before…a jar of rocks shouldn’t fall on your toe unless you want to break it and I am pretty open that I am the worst patient ever. I am currently trying to figure out how to still dance and do photo shoots while following the “limited movement” ruling handed down to me. Let’s see how this goes.

And more Turkey tomorrow, maybe even a special foodie friday version. 

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Life, Photography, Travel

prince islands // heybeliada

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Care of a little bit of facebook stalking, I discovered the Prince Islands. Located off the coast of the Asian-side of Istanbul, they are a chain of nine islands that offer a quiet change of pace, made easy by the fact that the main form of transport is horse and buggy. So, with a little bit of research (read: food blogs and the main desk guy at the hotel) Ann and I set off to use public transport, find the ferry and cross the water to Heybeliada. It was amazing. We strolled up and down streets, avoided getting run over by buggies and found the Naval Cadet School and the Halki Theological School. And we stopped to take a few photos.

heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

heybeliada, prince islands  heybeliada, prince islands

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heybeliada, prince islands

Back to Istanbul we went in the afternoon and with it came Ann’s favorite ideas of the day, let’s go to the Galata Tower! As we learned care of the internets the tower is “one of the city’s most striking landmarks, it is a high, cone-capped cylinder that dominates the skyline and affords a panoramic vista of Old Istanbul and its environs.” So despite my extreme issue with thoughts of potentially dying from a fall, I let myself be dragged to a tower built in 1348 A.D. and then on to the 360 degree balcony I went.

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It took me a few minutes to convince my stomach to not revolt and I made sure stay as close to the wall as possible, but the views, however, were amazing. As the sun went down, the city became dark and the lights went on I forgot about how high I was off the ground. Istanbul, you are beautiful.

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

view from galata tower, istanbul

Next time, Ann and Whitney see something really old…like 300 B.C. old.

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Life, Photography, Travel

istanbul // topkapi palace + a turkish man

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Sadly, the Turkish government doesn’t allow you to take pictures of all the fun things in the Topkapi Palace. We lost count of the number of times a guard yelled at a cruise ship tourist, “no photo, no photo.” So pretend like you see photos of glass boxes with emeralds the size of limes and swords that may or may not have been about five feet long. No seriously, it was almost as tall as me. Besides the amazing things insides, the grounds, the intricacy of the tiles/inlay/etc and the views were amazing. Also great were the reminders not to touch the artifacts on the side of the road.

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topkapi palace, istanbul  topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

The Patterns. I can’t say enough about the patterns. I couldn’t stop myself from repeatedly saying “oh my gosh how did they do all of this…oh wait, forced labor.” But beautiful nonetheless. The tiles! Everything was tiled. The walls, doorways, ceilings, everything!

topkapi palace, istanbul

topkapi palace, istanbul

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topkapi palace, istanbul  topkapi palace, istanbul

And what is a palace without a harem. Because does it really feel like home if you don’t have enough space for your wives, concubines, their children, and…oh, your mother. Awkward turtle. But at least it was pretty.

harem, topkapi palace, istanbul

harem, topkapi palace, istanbul

And then there were those views, amazing, but from the male-only side of the palace…can’t give those women a good view, they could rise up in revolt. Turkish Spring. Too Soon? Maybe.

topkapi palace, istanbul

from topkapi palace, istanbul

blue mosque, istanbul

from topkapi palace, istanbul

The best part of the palace included another crazy Turkish man who like all started his conversation with “are you from the states?” After a yes, he responded with the normal follow up of where, we said DC and he asked where. That wasn’t the typical response. So I just go with NE DC, and he announces his son is at GWU. Over the course of our short interaction we learn that he is a rug wholesaler, he and his wife live in Florida, and that he can give us advice on buying a Turkish rug. I laughed and just said, well I can’t actually afford a Turkish rug but they are great. He suggests that I put it on credit, but then came the best suggestion. “How old are you? No, you do not look that old. Do you have a boyfriend? He can buy you a rug? No boyfriend? It is sad that you have been single for so long. Can I set you up with someone? I know men in Washington. Not the kind of men you know. They are older, they have money, they buy you Turkish carpet.” Oh my lord all I could think was yes that really just happened.

Next time, Ann & Whitney get on a boat, run around an island and face Whitney’s horrible fear of dying from a tall place.

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