Monday, January 21, 2013

In + On: Accessories

While working as a wedding photographer you will get three questions constantly. First, "You make a ton of money, right?" (Awkward!) Second, "What camera do you use?" (Usually followed by the less exciting, "If I had your camera I'd take awesome pictures too..." Um, gee thanks.) And last but not least, "How should I hang my pictures on the walls?" ...I don't know about you, but this is a huge conflict for me! While I love personal photos on walls, I love love love interior design too and the two don't always mix. I definitely won't say it's concrete, but I will say, in general, hanging pictures of yourself, family or personal photos is somewhat of an iffy business in the design realm. I have seen it done well on occasion, but for the most part, again "in general" it's not gonna be phenomenal. That has prompted me to have this kinda-sorta rule that I use, I put my personal pictures in my personal spaces (like my upstairs hallway) and use art in the public areas. I feel like this is a good compromise, and honestly, I'm much to lazy to change out personal prints often enough to keep them up to date, so it's a much better practice for our home. I find art for my walls everywhere from Google images, to book pages, to vintage sheet music & creating my own text art. You can also search Etsy or for even more inspiration. And Aaron Brothers "buy one get one for a penny sale" is probably the best thing that ever happened to my walls. It happens twice a year, I'm sure your walls will thank me. The important part to me is that I use images that are meaningful in some way to me, or that they have some sort of significance that can be universal. For instance our dining room features images from my favorite person ever, Da Vinci, a piece featuring all of our children's birth dates along with a native american pattern (I'm part apache). It still has so much meaning!

I've had this thing for tortoise shell since high school when I constantly bought and broke pair after pair of tortoise shell glasses. (I'm a little clumsy.) So this past week as I looked for ways to protect my new iPhone, I was ecstatic when I found a tortoise shell case! Of course, in my search, I came across so many other beautiful shell items that I think are dreamy. It's definitely on the top of my best accessories to have list.
(Links & credit for all the inspiration images can be found on my Inspiration Den Board)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Allison Escalante - Nothing Lost

Last week I was able to sit down with singer/song writer/ worship leader Allison Escalante to discuss her first full length album, dropping January 18th! Allison's openness and vulnerability with her music is encouraging for all artist. Enjoy the interview and hope to see you at the CD release shindig and snag a copy of her album for yourself!

Here's a sample of one of her favorite songs from the album;  I Need Your Help

LWF: Little Woodland Friend (Amber)
AE: Allison Escalante

LWF: What is the inspiration/vision behind your album title "Nothing Lost"? 
AE: When writing this album I had decided I wanted to convey a sense of vulnerability through each song. I want to connect with people on a more intimate level, even if I don't know them personally.  Even though my heart for this album is to be vulnerable, I still have trouble with it sometimes. I was in LA at the mastering studio the other day, and as certain songs started to play, I began feeling like the walls were closing in on me. I even stooped so low as to take my coat off and cover my head with it. Vulnerability is not easy, but I feel it's necessary.

LWF: What do you hope to achieve through the release of this album? 
AE: I want the listener to know who I am as a person and understand that we all go through trials. A lot of people are uncomfortable with the idea that worship leaders have emotions, or are weak and vulnerable. I think vulnerability is sometimes misconstrued as a form of weakness, but it can also be a way of showing strength, courage, and a valid emotion. I feel like "Nothing Lost" represents that well. 

LWF: How was the album written and did you have a vision for it prior to starting the project?
AE: I went into the project with eight songs and didn't end up using any of them. In my everyday life, I started to notice how annoyed I was getting with passing pleasantries, and how fake I had become. .. So I threw out all of the songs and started writing from past failures, present tragedies and the types of memories you wish you could forget but secretly wanna keep. I  wrote one song in the studio, laid it down and from there the songs started flowing out. That's where I noticed the vulnerability, loss, and emotion coming through. Through this process "Nothing Lost" was created. My songs are about real life experiences, and through those experiences there is nothing lost. There is always a hope.  

LWF: What is your favorite song on the album?
AE: I have two... The first is "We Want to Bless You" because it takes on whatever particular emotion you are feeling at that time, happy or sad.  I listened to this song in my car for 2 full days over and over again once the cello had been tracked. I literally went from being blown away by how awesome the cello sounded against the layered guitars on the instrumental part, to crying my eyes out listening to it in the evening. It somehow took on this incredibly tragic/romantic sound. My second favorite song is "I need Your Help" because it was written for a really good friend who's wife cheated on him and then left him. This was a way for me to comfort and encourage him. 

LWF: Why are you a worship leader?
AE: I know God has blessed me with this gift and I know I'm called to usher His people into His presence through song. I take it very seriously. I'm very aware of the shape peoples hearts are in. I know they come into church broken and burdened and just want to hear God's heart for them. I know this because I'm in the same boat. For a time, I didn't take Leading Worship seriously. I was disgusted at my heart and how I had somehow come to the conclusion that I offered the Lord something amazing and that i somehow made things "Better". I quickly realized how wrong I was and decided to stop being involved in music all together. I had no intention of ever picking my guitar back up again, much less singing in front of a congregation again. But God Restores! I now stand with my guitar and sing from a place of vulnerability in an attempt to encourage people who are also going through hard situations.

LWF: Any Advice to young musicians? 
AE: I think practice is a huge part of honing your craft. It's too easy to let yourself go. Also, make sure to expand your musical interests. Don't box yourself in. Learn other styles and genres. Don't just do it because you know how to, but let things you don't know influence  you. I think it's important to be musically smart as well. There is a huge difference between a musician and an artist. Anyone can pick up a guitar and learn a few chords..  Last weekend I had the privilege of driving to the mountains with another musician to play for a group of 18- 25 year olds. We were listening to music as we drove and I sat there listening to him pick song after song apart. Initially it was slightly annoying, but as time went on I found myself incredibly interested and blessed to sit next to him and just watch. There was something musically smart about him- a definite artist. So often I don't pay much attention to songs. I know I should, but I don't. It was easily a car ride that changed my musical perspective.

(Photo by Robert Escalante)

Allison will be throwing a CD release shindig on 1/18, see flyer below for all the info!

For more info visit Allison's Website 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Xoelle - Stay Classy Inspiration Den!

As I was scouring the great wide internet for some fashion accessories for my husband Jesse, I stumbled upon a gem of a store. Xoelle: a hip, new (to me) bow tie company. I LOVED the variety of fabrics, textures, and character Elle's creations have, and am so eager to share them with you. Elle's own story is equally inspiring! 

Meet Elle designer + Creator for Xoelle!

LWF: Little Woodland Friend (Amber)
ELLE: Xoelle

LWF: How did Xoelle get started? How long have you been doing this?
ELLE: I started collecting vintage neckties in high school and planned to gift them to my future spouse.  I also had a serious love for bow ties and tried, unsuccessfully, to get boyfriends and brothers to wear them.  When I moved to a new city (San Diego!) for a new job (high school art teacher!) I met a nice young man willingly wearing a bow tie- and 8 months later we were married.  I came across the stash of vintage neckties shortly thereafter and decided to turn the lot into bow ties for him.  There were dozens so I chose my favorites to give to the Mr. and posted the rest on etsy.  They were a hit and soon I was making bow ties out of shirts and dresses and billiard felt by the dozens.  xoelle is coming up on it’s 5th anniversary this spring.

LWF: Who and What inspires your designs? What draws you to the fabrics you choose?
ELLE: I adore thrift shopping and often use my bow tie business as an excuse to purchase and collect large amounts of happy second hand fabric.  All xoelle bow ties (with the exception of some custom orders) and made out of vintage or second hand clothing, neckties, fabrics, or linens.  I design for my husband and my little son and often test my ideas on them.  I am drawn to fabrics that are bold, bright, fun, and unexpected.  A bow tie is a statement in itself so going bold is generally part of the package- and I love that!

LWF: What advice would you give a person interested in starting their own design company?
ELLE: Go!  I think that the most important thing in creative endeavors is to be authentic- be your true genuine self.  My own vision gets muddled and I second-guess myself when I pay too close attention to what other bow tie makers are doing.  If you are your authentic self, then you have no competition!  And then of course the rest is lots of hard work and late nights so make sure that you’re passionate about what you’re doing.  But mostly, just go! and do!

LWF: Lastly, what does inspiration mean to you?
ELLE: Inspiration is like this little fire that is burning inside.  I’ve found that it needs to be tended and fed.  To me that means that I have to have a happy work/life balance.  Too much work and that little fire threatens to burn out.  Most of the time when I get new ideas for bow ties or designs it’s not when I’m working- it’s when I’m at the beach with my kids or when I’m dancing at a friends wedding.  I feed my little inspiration fire by playing, and rarely taking anything in my business too seriously.  I feed it good music and rainy days and chocolate ganache lots and lots of pretty textiles- and then new happy ideas come to me and suddenly I can imagine that felted sweater as a bow tie. 

"I love what I do and it is a great privilege to outfit the necks of rad men around the world. " -Elle

Thank you Elle for letting us feature you and your company on Inspiration Den! 

If you want to see more by Xoelle check out her blog + shop below! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

In + On: Post Holiday Greens

Last time we chatted, I was anticipating all the fun holiday things I'd be wearing and doing. I never dawned my outfits this year. (All the planning wasted!) Instead, I spent most of the last two weeks being tired, ill, or taking care of someone who was. Being the girl that I am, I'm going to stage all those happy events I had planned, down to making those gosh-dang nutcracker cupcakes and take pictures of it all. In January. In 10 years we will fondly remember our faux holidays, I'm sure of it. I'm wearing that skirt and no one can stop me. In the meantime, the tree is a semi-permanent fixture. It's coming down next week, but I already miss it. I'm looking for an equal replacement with a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree for the same corner. I love having plants in the house, so of course, the next bigger and better thing would be a tree.


I've had a lot of people ask how I care for my plants (yes, there are that many) and to be totally honest with you - I do nothing. My husband keeps them up for me! They really never last more than a month at my hand, but even at that, I'd rather have a plant then a bouquet of flowers any day. Plants give a home a permanent & settled feeling. If you can't fit a tree in your home, try a Maidenhair Fern (available at Home Depot or Lowes). They look gorgeous anywhere and are by far my favorite tabletop plant)


I've had a history of under appreciating the long dress. I'm just under 5'4" so certain maxis or gowns aren't an option because they only accentuate my height (or rather, the lack of). Because they are trending right now, I'm see a lot more options on the market - plenty even I can pull off! And the top left dress is just stunning to me as it's my favorite color - shiny.

(Links & credit for all the inspiration images can be found on my Inspiration Den Board)

Monday, December 31, 2012

diptyque paris

These diptyque paris candles will be a favorite of 2013. At my Christmas party this year one of my close friends bought me a little gift: the Amber Oud Mini Candle (part of the 2012 Holiday Collection) and an amazing hand-made wreath for my door! All in all it was the the best scented gift I've ever received. Going into the new year I recommend purchasing some of these little beauties as a new accessory to your home, or simply as a way to clear the old air and bring in the new scent of 2013!  


Friday, December 28, 2012

Where the Buffalo Roam: the musical genius of Aaron Lee Martin

Hailing from America’s heartland, singer/songsmith/superhero Aaron Lee Martin has an indomitable passion for music. Whether he’s onstage playing for packed house or in a tour-van sharing new material with a couple adoring fans, he exhibits the same raw emotionalism and devotion to his craft. Freighted with country/folk arrangements and heartrending balladry, Aaron’s music builds on—not belabors—familiar American themes. With matchless vocals and poignant lyrics, he delivers love & loss, life & death, in equal doses, while sidestepping sentimentality—and managing to have fun in the process (Kansans are a rowdy bunch!). Though he’s toured extensively (playing festivals, barrooms, and coffee shops across the country), Aaron rarely turns down an opportunity to play—not because he’s desperate, but because he desperately loves what he does. Already he’s got two full-lengths and a Christmas album under his belt (preview/purchase here), but whether you’re a longtime fan or a new convert, you can rest assured—the best is yet to come! 

Here is a sample of Aaron's solo Album available for purchase:

LWF: Little Woodland Friend
ALM: Aaron Lee Martin

LWF: How long have you been writing/playing music?

ALM: The cliche' answer...more or less my whole life, ha. I remember writing cheesy love songs when I was 8 years old. Now I just write cheesy love songs while I'm 28 years old. But I have always loved the idea of putting my thoughts to melodies and have always loved the way that words can rhythmically fit together like puzzle pieces.

I started out on the drums, but quickly realized that it was not the most conducive instrument to write songs on as a singer/songwriter, though I feel like it immensely helped me to establish a sense of rhythm. One day, I picked up my dad's acoustic guitar and started picking out London Bridges on the bottom E string and found out that playing by ear was something that came natural to me. He showed me a few chords and I just kinda taught myself from there. Fast forward through my bleached blonde teenage years of awkward music selection and fronting alternative/rapcore bands, I discovered that I really loved folk music.

I think I finally found my voice in the singer-songwriter/folk genre, not only audibly (a little less Scott Stapp and a little more Aaron Lee Martin, ha), but lyrically. Over the last 7 years, I've acquired a banjo, other various folky instruments, and somehow figured out that I can fit my foot inside a that's fun! Yeah, long answer to a short question.

LWF: Where do your songs come from? Take us through your creative process…

ALM: My songs usually come from whatever I am directly or indirectly inspired by at the time. Sometimes it's sunrise, sometimes an episode of Lost. Sometimes it's pure fiction and sometimes I'm letting myself be as vulnerable and naked as I can be, while still keeping my clothes on. 

I believe there is a song for every season, emotion, victory and failure that we have. I've found that it's the usually those things that are the hardest to face and reveal about yourself, but somehow still muster up the courage to express, that people seem to relate to the most. It allows a sense of freedom for people to accept who they are and can help us to be conscious of the fact that none of us are truly ever alone. 

As far as the process goes, there is no rhyme or reason. Songs come to me often when I'm driving or in the shower, ha. I just usually hit a point where I realize I'm going crazy because I'm not writing or playing, so I write something...and then realize I am still crazy, ha.

LWF: Who or What inspires you?

ALM: Oh, I guess I partly answered this question in the last question, ha. But as far as the "Who" goes, I'm greatly inspired by a handful of authors, namely Steinbeck, George MacDonald, C.S. Lewis, Thoreau, Chekhov, and Bradbury. The intellect, wit, romance, and honesty these guys bring to the table absolutely blows my mind! 

I'm also a pretty big fan of Pete Seeger. He taught me that one voice, as well as many voices united as one, can do an awful lot to stir up things and cause genuine change and compassion to occur.  

I also draw inspiration from biblical poetry (psalms, proverbs, lamentations, ecclesiastes, etc.). There are quite a few biblical references and connections that can be found throughout my music. 

Aside from those few things, I'm sure there are a million other things that inspire me, but brokenness and vulnerability will stir my soul every time!

LWF: Anything new in the works?

ALM: Yeah, I have plans for my next 3 releases, 2 eps and a full length. They are titled "Blessings and Curses" "Vanity of Vanities" and "The Garden" and they will be released in that order.

I'm actually in the process of recording "Blessings and Curses" and I'm hoping to release it by early Spring. Here soon, I'll be setting up a Kickstarter to help fund the album, so if you feel like supporting, please be on the lookout for that at
And you can actually listen to a demo of one of the songs "Moriah" at

LWF: Aside from music, how do you bide your time?

ALM: Well, when I'm home I work carpentry. Not very good at it yet, but I enjoy learning. And I just started doing yoga. Not very good at it yet, but I enjoy learning.
Ha, I also enjoy connoisseuing various things or at least pretending like I am a connoisseur. (yeah, I know connoisseuing is not a real word, but I like it!) Making up words. And traveling. But I'd say my most fulfilling times are either spent enjoying community living with trusted friends or being completely alone in nature just absorbing and living in the moment as much as I can. This last summer, I had the best of both worlds. I was housesitting with some of my closest friends on some acreage in Central KS, with rolling hills and around 10 buffalo roaming free on the property. We spent our days gardening, taking care of puppies and riding bikes down hilly dirt roads. Most nights we'd cook a family dinner and eat together. After my roommates went to bed, I'd usually stay up until 3:00am sitting out in the front yard, listening to the coyotes and watching the stars. This was a small dose of heaven for an extroverted-introvert, such as myself.

LWF: (bonus question) What is your beard made of?

ALM: The blood of 10,000 angry Irish Men; The colors of a Kansas sunset; The aroma of cloves, soured milk, tobacco and whiskey; and snakes, snails and puppy dog tails! Oh, and I have a white patch too.

Thanks Aaron for letting us feature & Interview you. We LOVE you! 

If you're interested in hearing more from Aaron check out his website

Introduction & Interview by Jesse Dunstan