Category Archives: Personal

Lady With the Green Nails

Last Sunday would have been my grandmother’s eighty-second birthday. Cancer finally took her in 2000 and she is still fiercely missed.

Grandma Gambling at the Races 1976

For at least the last 20 years of her life, she nearly always wore this particular shade of green nail polish. To many in the world of Arabian horse breeding, she was the Lady with the Green Nails (she and my grandfather bred them in their retirement, after bringing a few home from Egypt in the late 70s). I can still remember watching her apply a fresh coat when she was visiting us in California. No surprise where I get it from!

Love this shot of her with me, my brothers and our cousins in 1993. Don’t you just love our mid-90s fashion?


My mom and I paid this tribute to her last year, and I’m wearing green again this year.:)(SpaRitual polish in Rhythm of Life, which I’ve found is a much better match than what’s pictured below.)

Ellingsen Photography Green Nails in Grandmas Honor

But what I didn’t share last year was some of her photography, particularly what she took while they were living in Cairo in the 70s. I mention a lot that she’s my inspiration when it comes to photography. I grew up watching her (as well as my dad and my aunt) always with a camera in hand, and her photos of my mother riding are all over the house (she rode the aforementioned Arabians, competing in dressage and jumping). We’ve got boxes and boxes of her photos, and little by little my mom and I have been scanning them in and working to preserve them. Some of my favorites are what’s framed on the walls of my parents’ home, so it’s just a matter of getting them down and scanning them all in one go.

Here’s just a little sampling of what she shot in Egypt. I particularly love her black and white work.

Barbara Johanson Photography Young Grooms at EAO 6.17.79

Barbara Johanson Photography Cairo in the 1970s

Barbara Johanson Photography At the Gold Cup Race Heliopolis 5.28.78

Yup, that’s my mom in the last one.:)

I just hope she’s looking down with pride at what I’m doing with photography now. Miss you all the time, grandma!

Grandma & Grandpa Dancing-1974


P.S. I’ve been down with a migraine for two days; I had hoped to post this on her actual birthday. I’ll see you guys back here after Thanksgiving, as I’m taking tomorrow off to help my parents get ready. Happy Turkey Day to all my fellow Americans!

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Happy Friday!

Ellingsen Photography Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

Mmm pumpkin pie…I can’t wait for Thanksgiving! This year my parents are hosting quite a few friends and family members, and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sure I’ll be making Pioneer Woman’s Whiskey Glazed Carrots and Butternut Squash Puree…again. They’re so good, I’ll take any excuse to make them. It’s like you get dessert during dinner!:)

It’s a gloomy and chilly Friday around here, so here’s a few good links for those of you trying to hibernate like me.

  • My shutter sister Nancy shared her pumpkin soup recipe this week. Go get you some! I can personally vouch for how delicious it is.:)
  • My future child is totally having a Star Wars nursery like this one, no question.
  • Some fantastic ideas for eco-friendly and inexpensive/free shipping materials over at the Etsy blog.
  • I totally want to try making these apple cider donuts. Doesn’t Jacqueline’s photography make you drool? Love her work!
  • Kaylah over at the Dainty Squid did a fantastic blog about Estate Sales 101. So helpful for a novice like me!
  • If you’re looking for a great gift for any owl-loving friends, you can create a super cute custom owl art calendar for free at My Owl Barn! (Found via How About Orange.)
  • And speaking of gifts, I’ve been pinning different free printable holiday gift tags like crazy. My favorite so far are these from Blush Printables, these from Giverslog and these from Domestifluff. Or I might just do big initials right on the wrapping paper with washi tape, haven’t decided yet.
  • Also, Ez at Creature Comforts has put out her 2nd annual issue of Gifted magazine! It’s so lovely and chock full of inspiration.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I’m planning on some quality time with my mom and a puppy play date, mixed in with some errands and computer work.


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This was just a quickie session, out on the front porch of my parents’ home while Auntie Elissa was visiting. Lucky for me she and my mom crack each other up, so all I really needed to do was put them in good light and click-click-click.  :)

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

This is Elissa’s classic “I just said something witty/inappropriate” expression.

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

Ellingsen Photography Grown Up Sisters Portraits Orange County

My mom and aunt surpassed sisterhood a long time ago and, somewhere along the line, became best friends. I love capturing their relationship! Makes me get a twinge of wistfulness that I don’t have a sister of my own, but then I just think about Nikki and Mindy and Nancy and Katie and Melissa…and I realize I haven’t missed out on much at all. I’m incredibly, incredibly lucky.

Miss you Auntie Princess!


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Cheryl’s Visit

Last weekend a longtime family friend, Cheryl, came down from Sacramento for a visit. I’ve known her since I was itsy bitsy, and it was so lovely to get to see her again – it had been a year! Over the weekend we spent some time antique shopping in old town Orange and celebrating her birthday. It was just lovely; even the weather was perfect.

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit

There were some awesome treasures and geeky delights, but I was good and didn’t bring any home…this time.

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing

Is that not the creepiest doll you’ve ever seen in your life? I love the Duke, but somebody fire that doll face sculptor! And I’m still not sure how I feel about Star Trek Ken and Barbie.

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing Star Trek & John Wayne

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing Star Wars Collectibles

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing Reflection

Dad and I had some fun messing around. Forgot how heavy phones used to be! (Sorry for making you look super pale, dad!)

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing Phones

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Antiquing

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit (2)

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit (3)

After Cheryl came to see my new place, Sunday was spent relaxing on the patio and celebrating her birthday. She has the best smile and laugh ever. And you should probably be warned that her superpower is getting anybody to tell her their deepest emotions/fears/hopes within 15 minutes.  ;)

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit-11

After a delicious dinner, we surprised her with this amazing chocolate covered angel food cake (that Sarah made), her favorite! Love how she’s always surprised when people do something for her, even though that gorgeous personality inspires loyalty and love like nobody else.

Ellingsen Photography Cheryls Visit Birthday Cake

Miss you already Cheryl!


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One Year Ago :: Super Dogs!

Ellingsen Photography Halloween Dog Costume Capes

Last Halloween my mom and Sarah got all crafty and made superhero capes for the dogs, complete with their initials in felt. Aren’t they so stinkin’ cute? We tried Anja’s on her a few months ago and it only comes about halfway down her back. She’s grown so much! (She was just shy of six months old then.)

Ellingsen Photography Halloween Dog Costume Capes

Ellingsen Photography Halloween Dog Costume Capes

These are also bittersweet because Mr. Ted E. Bear, the family shih tzu that was once my grandmother’s, passed in January. You are missed, sweet boy!

So at least I don’t have to worry about a Halloween costume for Dante this year.:)If anyone is interested in details on how these were made, let me know and I’ll have Sarah give me some details to share!


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