29 at 29


This year I turned 29 for the first time! (Wokka wokka!) Hooooly moly. I always have high hopes for each new age, but I think they’re especially high this year so that I go out of my 20s with a bang. I’ll at least turn 30 knowing for sure that: 1) I’m more comfortable with who I am than I ever have been, 2) wouldn’t go back to high school if you paid me, and 3) even greater things are coming.

I love looking back at these annual lists of things I love at each age – kind of like an annualized 10 Things. :) You can see 28 at 28 here.

  1. The generosity and support of my friends and family
  2. Our local green space/park. So grateful for somewhere open that Dante can run around in! The dog park is wonderful too, but we have to drive 15 minutes to get there.
  3. The VSCO Cam app
  4. Live comedy shows
  5. The dog beach. It’s free therapy…except for gas money.
  6. Making soup! It’s my favorite way to cook in the fall/winter. Favorites right now include cauliflower and leek, pumpkin and vegetable beef.
  7. The Nerdist podcast. Makes my daily commute so much more enjoyable!
  8. Storm clouds. Probably because they’re a rarity around here.
  9. Seeing the Indiana Jones trilogy in the theater. I’m still not over how awesome that was (in the original sense of the word).
  10. Nail polish thinner. It’s saved all my old favorites, they’re like new again! No more gloopy messes. (I use this one.)
  11. Hot chocolate in the morning
  12. The LA County fair. Wish I had gone more than once this year!
  13. My new Ephiphanie Lyric camera bag/purse, which Nikki generously gave me for my birthday. It’s perfection.
  14. Seeing all my old favorite movies in high def – totally doesn’t ruin them!
  15. Mexican Coke. Now sold at my local Target!
  16. Smart and thoughtful TV shows that are still fun, like Sherlock, Doctor Who, Warehouse 13, Mike & Molly and Castle
  17. Probably my favorite Dante photo of the year
  18. Making desktop backgrounds. Since I don’t make time for digital scrapbooking anymore, this is my only regular design outlet. :)
  19. Fresh film prints
  20. Anything made with pumpkin. Dante seconds that!
  21. Wearing my hair wavy/curly. (I’ve gotten better at it since that photo, promise.) Somewhere along the way my hair has gotten a lot more curl in it than it ever used to, and I’m taking full advantage of this new development.
  22. A new season of The Guild!
  23. Playing with makeup. I’m probably never going to outgrow that.
  24. Homemade balsamic vinaigrette. I use this recipe, the dijon mustard makes it creamier and delicious.
  25. Day trips. It never gets old. This year so far has included trips to San Diego, Santa Barbara, the Getty, Joshua Tree, Idyllwild, the California Science Center and the Natural History Museum!
  26. Lake walks. (As if I haven’t talked that to death.)
  27. Anything Star Wars. Probably the highlight this year was seeing the exhibit at the Discovery Museum.
  28. Pinterest. It truly is the online organization tool I always wanted! Without it, I would have a million lists and notes on scrap pieces of paper right now.
  29. Better control of my migraines. I’m cutting out more trigger foods/ingredients, starting new medications, and keeping my fingers crossed I lose as few days as possible during the coming busy holiday season! (My mom and I can’t recommend Managing Your Migraine enough.)


P.S. Portrait of me taken by Nancy in the LA Public Library last December.

P.P.S. Dante was given a clean bill of health yesterday. Phew!

Happy Birthday Dante!

My baby is six years old today*, and I can hardly wrap my brain around that fact. When I first brought him home that night before Easter, four years ago, I had no idea what joy and growth he would bring to my life. He’s helped me grow up, in the best way possible, while providing amusement and comfort on a daily basis. I don’t think you can ask much more than that from a companion, do you?

Ellingsen Photography Dante Birthday Diptych
Ellingsen Photography Dante and Me December 2011

For fun, here’s a look back at some of my favorite photos of Dante over the years…

Ellingsen Photography Dante Birthday Mosaic 2012

Thank you, my darling boy, for everything. We’ll be celebrating tonight with a long walk, plenty of chicken and maybe a hot dog too (because we all know what happens when I try to get him a fancy treat).  :)


*He was brought to the shelter after being found on the mean streets of Seal Beach, so when the vet estimated him at two years, I just made his adoption day his birthday.

28 at 28

Trude and Dante by Jen Disney

Whoa. Twenty-eight. Is it too soon for me to have to stop and think when somebody asks me how old I am? Because that started, like, two years ago.

A few years back, when I was still really big into digital scrapbooking (as in, was a part of several creative teams for different shops; now I only do it for gifts and cards and such), I started doing a list of things I love after each birthday. Kinda like my 10 Things series, except they were things that never failed to make me smile, the things that were my go-to happiness makers, what I’m grateful for. I love looking back on all those pages now, and I hope someday my kids will treasure them too! So, because I’m a girl of habits, here we go again this year…

  1. Sunday mornings spent curled up in bed with Dante and a good book
  2. Green nail polish in honor of my grandma (wearing it today!)
  3. Movie nights with my family
  4. Trips to the dog park
  5. Doctor Who
  6. A fresh pedicure
  7. Finally living with my BFF
  8. Listening to Up From Below...I just can’t get tired of it! It’s all Tara’s fault.
  9. Shooting film
  10. Instagram. In case you hadn’t noticed.
  11. Working with the shelter. It’s been over a year now and every time I go I’m filled with this immense joy and calm.
  12. Pumpkin spice lattes
  13. Honing my DIY skills (I still need to share my padded headboard! You can kinda see it here.)
  14. Day trippin’ with my girls and my family. Next up: Oak Glen.
  15. Sharing and learning (and dining…we love food) alongside my shutter sister, Nancy
  16. Josh Groban concerts…with fifth row seats thanks to Nikki
  17. Star Wars marathons
  18. Movie dates with my dad
  19. Burt’s Bees’ new tinted lip balm
  20. Adding to my library. New favorites this year include The Help, Game of Thrones, Flying Changes, The Postmistress and the Parasol Protectorate series.
  21. Harry Potter marathons
  22. Pinterest
  23. My dad’s Lemon Drop martinis
  24. Getting our bibs on at Cajun Swamp
  25. Catching up on The Guild with Mindy
  26. Spaghetti dinners at my parents’ house
  27. Debating ANTM and Project Runway episodes with the girls
  28. Thinking about what the next year will bring

Phew! I think I’m gonna have to call it quits after year 30, that took a while. ;) What a difference a year makes, huh? New home, different hair, single, but loving life just as much so much more. I know it sounds cliche, but I really love and know myself more now than ever before, and I wouldn’t be any younger if you paid me. Yes, I’m still totally awkward, but at least I’m aware of it. :)

I’m keeping things simple again this year, which is the way I prefer it. I had a big blowout for my quarter century (with a princess-themed bounce house and everything), but since then I’ve only wanted leisurely dinners and time with my family and friends. Last night, Mindy joined Nikki and I for takeout Japanese from my favorite local place and a surprise tres leches cake, and it was awesome to just hang out and catch up. Tonight I’m headed to my parents’ house for dinner – and I’m so looking forward to another of my mom’s marsipan tortes and a batch of my dad’s lemon drops for dessert. Mmmm yes. Tomorrow will see me sleeping in, crafting with Mindy, and then dinner, drinks and a movie with her and the rest of my friends. I totally asked to go to the same restaurant as last year, it’s just that good!

And that, my friends, looks like a pretty darn perfect weekend to me. Hope you have a great one too.


Photos by the wonderful Jen Disney.

One Year Ago

One year ago this week, we were celebrating my brother’s 25th birthday:

Ellingsen Photography Eirik Birthday Brother Family

This year my awesome auntie Elissa (mom’s sister) is in town for a conference, so we’re waiting ‘til Friday to celebrate when she’s all done with work and can come and play!

Also, one year ago Anja was still a teeny tiny puppy and loved to chew on sticks:

Ellingsen Photography Anja Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy Fall Leaves

Say it with me now: AWWWWW!

Now she’s a big girl who still loves to chew on sticks. :)

What were you doing a year ago? How have things changed for you?


I Heart My Family

Took these when we got together to celebrate my mama’s birthday last week – dinner at In-N-Out (her request!) followed by gifts and hot fudge sundaes at home. Pretty darn awesome. :)

I’m so glad they realize resisting my camera is futile; it’s better to just smile and let me move on.

Ellingsen Photography Mom and Eirik Adorable

My new favorite photo of my parents, along with a couple of me and mom that my dad graciously took:

Ellingsen Photography Family Moms Birthday 2011

(Can you tell I’m growing out my bangs? It’s taking for-ev-er.)

Ellingsen Photography Family Moms Birthday 2011 (4)

My dad has been addressing things to her this way for years. Don’t judge by her expression, she still cracks up after all this time!

Ellingsen Photography Family Moms Birthday 2011 (3)

It’s also family tradition to wear the bows and ribbons that come with your gifts.  :)

Ellingsen Photography Family Moms Birthday 2011 (5)

I heart them, a lot.