Three Letter Birds
 

The best part of this crazy, amazing, ever changing world of owning a business is the friends you have along side you for the journey.

One part in particular that I love is photographing those friends!

Jenny and I met at our beloved Covenant Point Bible Camp when we were both counselors together summer of 2004. We bonded over trips  into the small town the camp is located in, our love of Target, and a strange affinity for brown Sharpies (HOW that memory sticks out, I don't know!).

Now she owns the whimsical & inspiring Three Letter Birds shop, and recently was the chosen designer of Jen Hatmakers new podcast logo! Last month we worked together to bring her brightly colored and playful goods to life with new product photography, as well as new branded headshots.

What I love about photography is how it infuses life and brings out a voice. I love how these photographs of Jenny speak volumes for the work she does, and the person she is. She is Three Letter Birds...bright, inspiring and whimsical at heart. 

My favorite product of the moment she has? This amazing collection of quotes from her She Persisted collection...head on over to her shop, and treat yourself!

 
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A page of my heart.
 
My grandma with Stella.

My grandma with Stella.

Authors note: Mom, this is going to make you cry. Love, me

A shoebox sat on the coffee table under the window in my grandma's living room. I eyed it as I settled into the green brocade rocking chair that my grandpa always used to sit in. Ever since I can remember, my routine when coming to my grandmas was one of a few things. 1. playing outside in the woods, 2. climbing trees in the apple orchard chasing the cats that had climbed them to get away from me and my two sisters, 3. watching movies and sneaking into her big chest freezer to nab her Schwan's Golden Nugget bars or 4. pouring over boxes of old yearbooks & photographs.

This box I had never seen before, which made me happy. Happy doesn't even describe it. I was excited beyond the word, trying not to voraciously dump out the box to start from the bottom.

In the end, two and a half hours later, I got half way through the box. It's contents? Photographs I had never seen before in my life...important ones - like pictures of my mom as an infant, silly snapshots of my grandma in a giant set of pajamas at work with one of her coworkers...one of them in each leg and arm, and portraits of her great grandparents, mounted on thick paper and embossed with the studio and photographers name from back in Glasgow, Scotland.

My grandma has a hard time walking, she usually stays put in her rocker while we visit. But with each picture I inquired about, she almost leaped up out of her chair to get a closer look. She ended up sitting on the coffee table, laughing away her aches and pains as she diligently told me stories from beyond the frame. "This is me with my niece in Detroit, and just beyond the frame to the left is the steel mill in our town..." her voice trailed off as I realized this is where I inherited my photographic memory for detail (I'm that phone-a-friend for the details that you just can't quite remember).

This feeling in my chest started to rise and I felt myself getting emotional. This is why we take photographs. To sit for hours, pouring over an old shoe box full of photographs that can instantly come to life. Photographs are a key...to a locked door of our stories buried deep within our hearts and minds.

We are trusted with great responsibility - a library of the unwritten stories of our life. How will we get these stories out, into the light where they belong? I keep thinking about our senses...sight, sound, taste, and smell. Each is a road that we can journey to places sometimes forgotten until triggered by our senses. Even that day at my grandma's when I got out of the car, the smell of the wet grass and trees brought back a wave of nostalgia...of hours spent outside at my grandmas. And while I did say "I wish they made a candle that smelled like this!", all I can do is take that moment captive, and tie it to the memory of the afternoon spent with my grandma, that penned the stories of my mother, my grandmother, and beyond on the pages of my heart.

 
My grandma is the little girl on the left.

My grandma is the little girl on the left.

Becoming who you are.
Image by Kindred Cinema

Image by Kindred Cinema

 
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I've been thinking a lot about my story and how I've gotten to this particular place. This curly haired, weird glasses wearing, bright sweater owning girl is me now - but it's the ying to the yang of the past few years.

I use to be a huge people-pleaser. In the name of acceptance, I always took other people's’ advice, I always deeply considered suggestions given to me about my life. I always convinced myself ‘their way was right’. When building my business I would have 10 tabs with other people’s websites open so I could cobble together ‘the best of’ what I saw out there because someone told me they didn’t like what I had already built (quote, it was too ‘bold’). I have made life decisions upon a passing comment and then blamed others for my poor choice. These are not easy words to type.

Finally, a few years ago I found myself sitting on my big brown chair in my living room, tears dripping into my coffee, ‘deeply contemplating’ more life advice I had been given the day before. I’ll spare you the details, but in a nutshell after years of being told I wasn’t ‘enough’ (holy enough, thin enough, pretty enough, creative enough) I was weighing new advice that I was ‘too much’ (too successful, too talkative, too loud, too busy, too happy...all adding up to ‘too unapproachable’).

Looking back, I was too unapproachable. But I had no idea how to temper who I was with what I was expected to be. I sometimes felt like I was being forced into a box of 'who I was expected to be' and so I went in the opposite direction. I have shut people out of my life that I shouldn't have. I have pressed advice on friends who didn't need it. I pushed people away, and was good at it. I was becoming a person I never wanted to be.

I say all this to really say...and this is important that you hear this.

Who you are right now doesn't have to be who you are becoming.

You can change.

There is permission available for you to change course. Take it and run in the direction of the person you dream of being. Believe you can, embrace you can, implant it in your soul. Tell your besties...open up...be vulnerable about your state of affairs and where you want to go - you don't have to walk towards the light alone.


Did you feel like this post lit up a part of you that needs to be let into the light? Hit the heart button below to let others know we're in this journey of becoming together.

 
Photo by Alex Good

Photo by Alex Good

Pritzlaff Fine Art Film Wedding Portraits for Elizabeth Haase Photography
 

One thing I love about the photography industry is the partnerships that can form in community with other photographers. There are niches for everyone and everything, and while I few years ago I decided big, huge, mansion weddings didn't fit with the heart behind my craft - I absolutely love teaming up with another photographers. The heart of what I do is about supporting the other photographer, anticipating their needs and what I know will help them rest easy while herding a bridal party of 10.

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It also is two fold, because I get to hone my craft, giving me more opportunities to document a story that I know will be cherished for generations - the wedding day. I exclusively photograph intimate weddings (with a guest list of 50 or less), and so my eye is always looking for intimate spots on location for future nuptials with my couples.

So when I met Elizabeth Haase on cold, January night in 2016 at a Rising Tide Society meet-up, I knew we'd be fast friends. And even better? We're both film photographers, so as we both traverse the wedding day loading film, metering for each other and calling out readings - I can't help but be so grateful I've found not only a partner to journey in this crazy business owner life, but a friend!

The full post is over on Elizabeth's amazing website, leave her some love!

 
My favorite S'more Cupcake
 

I have a secret. Well, I'm sorry to say it might not be that big of a secret, but...here it is. I'm obsessed with S'mores. I don't know the exact date of my infatuation, since let's face it, s'mores is an American institution. And really if I'm being honest, the ingredient at the heart of my obsession is the humble marshmallow. Through the years, as I have sought out s'mores (i.e. marshmallow) in different forms to quench my obsession....in cakes, ice cream, frappachinos, and even my favorite Martian Mallow Lipsmacker circa 1998 (which also inspired a sundae I invented at the ice cream shop I worked at in high school...different story for a different day) I came upon my favorite form of the s'more (besides the traditional form of them)...the s'more cupcake.

It was a cold January afternoon in Chicago when I strolled into Sprinkles to get a quick afternoon bite with my mom. Typically I get the Vanilla Chocolate cupcake, but that day in the case, the blistered meringue marshmallow topper beckoned me. 

One bite and I was a goner. Instead of going into detail, I beg you to experience for yourself. You can go to Sprinkles in August (it's the cupcake of the month) -or- you can whip it up for your 4th of July celebrations this week. 


alicia's S'more cupcake

ingredients

for crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 20 squares)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1-10oz bag Ghirardelli Chocolate Premium Baking Chips 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate (or just 9oz any bittersweet chocolate, chopped)

for cake

for frosting

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

steps


Cupcakes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 cupcake tins (24 cupcake liners)
  2. In a large bowl, place graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter...stir until combined.
  3. Place 1-2 tablespoons (your preference on how thick you want it) graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Press crumbles to form crust. 
  4. Place 2 tsp of chocolate chips in each muffin cup. Place pans in oven for about 5 minutes until the edges of the 'crust' is golden.
  5. Remove from oven and fill each cup three-quarters full with cake batter. Sprinkle each with remaining chocolate chips.
  6. Return to oven and bake 8-10 minutes...rotate pans and bake for another 8-10 minutes until toothpick inserted in cupcake comes out clean.
  7. Cool cupcakes in tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove.

Marshmallow Frosting

  1. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tarter in a glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water.
  2. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes.
  4. Add vanilla and fold over a few times to combine.

To finish...

  1. Frost cooled cupcakes with marshmallow frosting. Doesn't need to be perfect, and the thicker the frosting, the better!

Oven-toasted method

  • After cupcakes are all frosted, place cupcakes on a sheetpan. Under a low-broiler, return cupcakes to oven to toast tops. Keep a close eye, I've burned the tops before. 😳

Blow-torch method

  • After cupcakes after frosted, take a blowtorch and quickly toast the top of each cake. See my video!
 
 

a tip for you

to crumble your graham crackers, put a few in a plastic ziplock bag and pound out with an ice cream scoop, or run them all through your food processor to create the perfect crumb.

Summer Travel Dates 2017

I love summer. I love laying out in the hot sun on my porch. I love lingering light at 10pm. I love things that grow, things that sprout, things that I can eat that only grow in summer.
 

I grew up on the northern shores of Lake Michigan, and so summer has always meant time on the water. My friend Molly lived right on the lake, and me and our other friend Tracy spent most of our days swimming & making mischief while documenting it on a series of underwater cameras we'd then run into town to develop at the one-hour photo lab. When I moved to Chicago, I spent endless hours training the for the marathon, running up and down Lake Shore Drive along the water or downtown, criss crossing back and forth across the Chicago River bridges. Our New England years were spent at places like Hammonasset Beach (we prefer East Beach), Touisset Point, or shuttling from Brooklyn to Manhattan on the East River ferry. But now at our little shoreline town in southeast Wisconsin, we live 5 blocks from Lake Michigan. Time on the water is something I'm never short of.

This summer I hope to do more sessions while on the road, which is why I'm announcing my summer travel dates.

Click here to inquire!

Click here to inquire!

 

Even though I'm local to Chicago all year round, I plan to be in Chicago more during the month of July, and even squeeze in a trip to Traverse City to see my little sis.

August, we're heading on our (now) annual summer road trip to Rhode Island and I CAN'T WAIT! Plus, all you New England friends...we're planning a few extra days to be in Connecticut to make the rounds and we'd love to see you! I'm thinking, a drop in dinner at Mondo or Heirloom? What do you think?

Email me directly at alicia@hitherandhold.com -or- Design Your Session here!

 
 
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