[Travel] An adventure, a celebration, an ever growing hope

I’m writing this on the plane as my first 13 hour leg has given me an abundance of time to reflect. Though I tried, I haven’t slept at all as I’ve been buzzing with adrenaline and thoughts and ideas whizzing round (no change there really) but it’s been a great opportunity to just sit and chill after a suspenseful, busy week.

My flying time is 13 hrs with a layover in Kuala Lumpur followed by another 3 and a bit hours to Bali. If you’re interested here were my plane meals haha.

Pretty good as far as plane food goes actually. Been really lucky amongst a packed plane to get an empty seat next to me which you would think would mean I’d be comfortable and so able to sleep. Hahahaha nope!

I’ve watched two movies; Red Sparrow (a film about a young Russian woman using her unfortunate situation to win back her freedom) and Meditation Park (about a devoted wife having an epiphany about her life after discovering her husband was having an affair) . I found both really resonated with me in very different ways and that’s what got me in a really reflective mood so I thought I’d strike while the irons hot and get writing . Jet lag will likely hit when I land and have been awake for over 24 hours so I’m making the most of this time and thought explaining a bit about this trip might be a good place to start.

So last week I was meeting with a dear friend of mine and they asked me:’Why are you taking this trip?’ Not that anyone needs a reason to have an adventure really, but I told them I needed to stoke the fire in me and dream again. As the week went on and I grew increasingly anxious to the point of overwhelm, dizziness and nausea, I tried to accept and question those feelings in order to “let them go” and as part of accepting I remembered just how significant a trip this is for me.

While not wanting to put too much pressure on myself for this trip, honestly it is like an emotional landmark in my life. I have no idea where this crazy analogy came from but weird analogies are my language so here goes. It’s like a rounders match where after several humiliating misses you’re exhausted and feeling like giving up. Somehow you actually manage to hit the ball and surprise yourself…and you’re legging it round the pitch thinking ‘what now?’ with little to no hope of reaching first base. But then you do, and then second base is even in sight and you have this hope growing inside of you for more.

That’s me right now, thankful that I am able to begin moving forwards when I’ve been stuck batting off curveballs for what feels like forever.

So I know a 6 week holiday is just a holiday in some people’s mind, but more than that it’s a chance to celebrate the gap between where I was and where God has brought me to now.

I’ve always been free spirited and often done things in life that were wayyy out of my comfort zone. Going off to America, jumping out of planes, making friends with strangers. I used to embrace it all and think I’d done it in my own strength but that was naive and also that was when it felt like a choice.

Things totally changed when I had the rug pulled from under my feet and I found myself a few months after marriage abandoned and alone. Fear and anxiety dictated my daily existence and my mental health really suffered in the following months and years and in many ways I imagine lots of things will be a trigger for those insecurities for a long time to come. But i have come to know a God that will never abandon me and is guiding me forwards to other things, to the purposes he has for me.

There are some things that happen in life we just won’t ever get over. Yet somehow slowly we can pick up the pieces and move forwards. Always forwards. With the people He places around to pick you up. There are so many times it will still feel like there’s no reason to fight against the hurt and the darkness but that’s when you take the tiniest baby step forwards. A week, a month, 365 days of babysteps. It goes on. . Shine the smallest light into the darkness and it begins to lose its power.

Slowly but surely you will learn to hold on to the glimmer of hope, people will help lift you up and eventually you will start to see that there’s a future worth hoping for. That’s what this trip is for me, finally beginning to hope for my future and celebrating the distance behind me.

Like a seed in the ground, surrounded by darkness. But day by day still unknowingly growing towards the light.

Learning from Nature

Autumn-Leaves-in-sunshine“Oh how nature acquaints us with the nature of patience.”

This season always reminds me of how seasons in our lives also change. I know if I look back, I can remember when it felt that frustrating or difficult feelings would last forever. So I try to take comfort in the changing of the seasons. The leaves turning all shades of yellow, red and orange. Soon the trees will be bare. We too have times that feel void and empty of meaning. Yet we know, Spring is in the distance, there is still so much good to come. So today’s reflection is an encouragement really.

For anyone hungry to overcome, struggling to accept, eager to grow, desperate to heal or fighting a battle you fear will never end. I just want to urge you. Keep. going.

Redirect that frustration into something that will actually help you move towards your aim. Seasons change and just  like the leaves change colour, so will the way you feel and in turn the impact this has on your life. You won’t stay like this and your pain can grow from it new things if you let it happen. Keep the faith; we are all learning how. Let nature remind you that a new season is coming.

Adventures: Kimchi making

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One thing I can’t recommend enough for taking your mind off whatever crap you might be experiencing and helping you practicing some mindfulness is what i like to call an adventure of the mind! Diving into a project and experimenting with new things!
It might be a Pinterest hack you’ve had your eye on, a recipe you’ve been meaning to try or just something you have always fancied experimenting with. It’s good for the soul and I absolutely love it. So here’s the first of many adventures in new things I’m going to share with you! If you like pickled onions you need to try making this stuff,it’s magical!
The back story
Years ago I was staying in London and tried Korean Barbecue for the first time. There I tried the delights of kimchi which I had never even heard of before. Since broadening my culinary horizons (thanks Joel) I’ve had lots of different kimchi and love the stuff!
Recently I was recommending to a friend they try some as fermented foods are reportedly really good for digestion. Check me out being all knowledgeable haha! You can’t really purchase it as readily as other pickled vegetables and it’s best freshly made so I decided I would just make some myself, because why not? It is honestly super easy and I’ve tested out some variations, spice levels and alternative ingredients. 
If you fancy making your own kimchi I highly suggest following a simple basic recipe to start and then experiment with your ingredients to find what you like and please your tastebuds. If you try it, or any other experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes!
So here it is:
LAUREN’S EASY KIMCHI RECIPE
Prep Time: 20 MINS  plus 1 hr salting and overnight fermenting
No cooking time
You will need 1-2 air tight jars
Will serve about 15 side portions
Ingredients:
  • 1-4 tbsp chilli paste /red pepper flakes  (according to spice preference- I would go with 2 or 3)  (Ideally use SRIRACHA CHILLI SAUCE, a tangy red chilli pepper sauce you can find online or in Asian supermarkets/online.)
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves crushed or grated
  •  Chunk of ginger about 1 inch grated
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 8 radishes grated
  • 2 carrots cut in think sticks or grated
  • 4 spring onions cut finely
  • 1 cabbage (preferably chinese, but normal red or white cabbage will work too)

 

Instructions

  1. Slice the cabbage: Remove the core and cut into quarters then again into 2-inch-wide strips.
  2. Salt the cabbage: Place the cabbage and salt in a large bowl. Using your hands (gloves optional), massage the salt into the cabbage until it starts to soften a bit, then add water to cover the cabbage. Put a plate on top and weigh it down with something heavy, like a jar or can of beans. Let stand for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Rinse and drain the cabbage: Rinse the cabbage under cold water 3 times and drain in a colander for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse and dry the bowl you used for salting, and set it aside to use in step 5.
  4. Make the paste: Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, sugar, and seafood flavor (or 3 tablespoons water) in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Mix in the gochugaru, using 1 tablespoon for mild and up to 5 tablespoons for spicy (I like about 3 1/2 tablespoons).
  5. Combine the vegetables and paste: Gently squeeze any remaining water from the cabbage and return it to the bowl along with the radish, scallions, and seasoning paste.
  6. Mix thoroughly: Using your hands, gently work the paste into the vegetables until they are thoroughly coated. The gloves are optional here but highly recommended to protect your hands from stings, stains, and smells!
  7. Pack the kimchi into the jar: Pack the kimchi into the jar, pressing down on it until the brine rises to cover the vegetables. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace. Seal the jar with the lid.
  8. Let it ferment: Let the jar stand at room temperature for 1 to 5 days. You may see bubbles inside the jar and brine may seep out of the lid; place a bowl or plate under the jar to help catch any overflow.
  9. Check it daily and refrigerate when ready: Check the kimchi once a day, pressing down on the vegetables with a clean finger or spoon to keep them submerged under the brine. (This also releases gases produced during fermentation.) Taste a little at this point, too! When the kimchi tastes ripe enough for your liking, transfer the jar to the refrigerator. You may eat it right away, but it’s best after another week or two21222658_10100396921261274_417748665_o

 

Waiting

I wish there was a way to fast forward this part. But I think that’s the whole point. The only way out of anything is THROUGH. You can’t go around it, you can’t go over it or under it, you have to go through it to get from it what you are supposed to learn. I know I have come a long way but still feel that I’m totally lost in so many ways. I don’t feel like myself anymore. Who am I? In the meantime there is just putting one foot in front of the other, taking it day by day and trying to remember who I am underneath all this hurt, instead of believing who my insecurities and fears are trying to make me.

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Canterbury Wedding Photographer: A sneak peek of Nicky & Gary’s wedding at Preston Court

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Nicky and Gary were married on a wonderfully sunny day in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at the stunning Preston Court just outside of Canterbury, Kent.

It was a truly fab day full of colour, smiles and plenty of fun with eleven bridesmaids and lots of family and friends there to help them celebrate their day.

Congratulations Nicky and Gary, I hope you had a lovely break in Italy and lots of gelato!

Enjoy this sneak peek and more from this amazing wedding to come soon!

Lauren x

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{Sneak peek} A Lark in the Park

Just wanted to share a sneak peak from the family shoot I’m working on today. I had a great time with Sadie, Nathan & Riley at the weekend. Sam, you were missed!

Shame there were no fishes in the pond but that didn’t stop the boys from trying 🙂

Who needs fish when there are ducks to feed!

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Lauren xxx

{The Portrait Diaries} Day 19: Dogs & Their Bling

I hope you already have a smile on your face on this beautiful sunny day. If not surely these two beauties will cheer you up.

These were among the photos I took while travelling. If you missed my post on travel and street photography you can have a read here.Part 2 is coming up in a few days.

For now I thought these two deserved a post of their own. Taken in Texas and San Francisco. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Snoop Doggy Dog in the first picture. How cool is he? Just managed to get this shot before the lights turned green and the car drove off.

It made me chuckle how it looked as if the second fluffy pup was guarding all the jewellery beneath him, relaxing on his bed of bling. Once in a lifetime moments that I wanted to capture. I find I always remember things better when I’ve photographed them. How about you?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Lauren xxx

{The Portrait Diaries} Day 16: When in Rome…

Day 16:

So I lied a little.This post has nothing to do with Rome and everything to do with Texas!

As they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” so in Texas what should we do? Well, ‘The Texas Two-step’ to be specific. This particular style of dancing is like a mix of classic, ballroom & country dancing and it’s sooo much fun!!

Okay, so I’m going to be completely honest with you… two stepping didn’t come all that naturally to me.  However, I can successfully step on two other people’s feet if that counts? No, I didn’t think so!

The experience won me over none the less and here’s why:

I love doing things I’ve never done before, especially the things that make me feel a little bit scared and excited at the same time. Those times that you’re a little bit terrified but don’t want to stop because you’re having too much fun!

There’s no better time to try such things than when you’re already surrounded by the unfamiliar. So when my fiance & I found ourselves in Austin, Texas, I was so excited that my dear friend & amazing host Rebecca wanted to take us two-stepping! I used to indulge in a little country line dancing when I was younger, but walking into the venue ‘Broken Spoke‘ I knew it was the real deal when I saw men in cowboy hats and heard their Southern drawl.  We had some giggles attempting to join in but it was just as much fun to watch and take in the atmosphere of the dance hall.

Traditionally it is a man-woman dance but these days it can be man-woman, man-man or woman-woman dancing. People swap partners, mingling & dancing with who ever is free to dance.

The basic etiquette is that if you don’t really know what you are doing you stick to the outside. That’s where you would’ve found me then!  If you’re a pro or really going for it you will generally be in the middle.   Traditionally, the men set the pace and stride of the dance, gracefully leading their partner through the steps.

While as we didn’t know the steps we were a little less graceful, but today’s photograph is of the ever so gracious Rebecca who knew her way round the dance floor like it was the back of her hand. Her lovely dance partner I did not catch the name of but suffice to say he was a total gent! It is Rebecca we have to thank for an amazing experience in Texas that left us wanting to come back for more.

If you ever get the chance to do some country dancing, definitely give it a go!  Even better if it’s in Texas! Maybe watch everyone else until you get some of the moves down but don’t be scared, live a little and hit that dance floor.

Texas we heart you! Yee Haw!

Lauren xxx

“It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance. It is the dream afraid of waking that never takes the chance. It is the one who won’t be taken who cannot seem to give. And the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.”  Bette Midler 


Competition winner

I hope you have all had a lovely Mother’s Day. I loved reading all your posts about what you love to do with your Mums. They were really heartfelt so I know that you must all have had a great day with your Mums, hopefully enjoyed the sunshine and showed them how grateful you are to have them in your lives, or remembered them with love and affection if they are no longer with you.

I too am so grateful for my Mum. She’s always been supportive of my dreams and encouraged me to follow my own path. She’s not only a great Mum but a super Nanna too so for Mother’s Day I gave her a big printed photograph that I recently took of my gorgeous baby nephew.

Without further ado I am very excited to announce the winner of the competition to win a free lifestyle shoot. Using a random number generator here is the result:

Comment number 15  was Sadie Williams!  Congratulations Sadie, you have won a free lifestyle shoot! 🙂

To everyone that entered, thank you so much and make sure you like the Facebook page and stay tuned to hear of more offers and competitions!

Have a great week, Lauren xxx

Win a lifestyle shoot

To celebrate reaching 450 likes on Facebook I would like to give back to my supporters so I am running a competition to win a free lifestyle shoot and in honour of upcoming Mothers Day (March 18th) I am theming my entry question on that. You do not need to be a mum to enter. Simply answer my question:

What’s your favourite thing to do either as a Mum with your kids or with your own Mum…and why?

To clarify, this can be about the past or it can be about right now, things you loved to do growing up or  things you do with your mum now you are grown up. Whatever you want really just share with me your memories and favourite moments.

Please read the competition rules below:

Participation
To enter all you need to do is to comment on this post with your answer to the question.

One comment per person from a blog address or e-mail address.
Secondly you will need to share and this is really simple- Just press “Share” at the bottom of this blog post. Share it via Facebook or Twitter ( you don’t have to do both!) and tag @Laurenbythesea Photography on FB or @laurenbythesea on Twitter so I will be able to see that you have done this. If you need help or have any questions please email lauren@laurenbythesea.com

Each comment will be given a number that will be used to decide a winner. Numbers will be given according to chronological order of the comments.

Please note: you must live within 30 miles of the CT6 Canterbury area or be willing to pay expenses outside of a 30 mile radius.

Selection
The winner will be drawn using a random number generator and I will select a winner on March 18th. The winner will posted here on the blog & on Facebook on March 18th, 2012.

The Prize
The winner will receive a voucher for a lifestyle session for up to 90 mins. This is usable for up to 3 people and valid for 3 months. No private details of the winners will be published on this blog. You may give the prize as a gift if you wish so anyone can enter and select another recipient for the photoshoot as long as you have followed the conditions of entry.

And please, do pass on the news to your friends and relations, too. The more participants play, the more exciting it is to find out the winner!

Thank you so much to everyone for your support and interest in my photography. Keep on sharing and telling your friends and family and good luck!!

Lauren xxx