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Introduction to Gatherhaus

June 29th, 2015

So if you follow me or Studio Laguna on facebook, you may have already heard of Gatherhaus. If you haven’t, I can’t wait to introduce you to this new blog!

My good friend Dani Tietjen and I created Gatherhaus about a year ago and published the blog (which could not have been done without the awesome Jesse at Creature Works Labs in Waconia) a little over six months ago. We are both storytellers at heart, and often find ourselves in crazy situations where one minute we’re shopping at a garden store and the next minute getting a VIP tour of the inner workings of the place from the owner. People love to talk to us and we love to hear their stories, and over the years we have learned so much and all these stories have helped shape our own.

Dani and I are two very different people but also similar. Both creative, both energetic, both with “just get ‘er done!” attitudes…we approach life differently but with similar objectives and direction and share ideas and inspiration constantly. That became the foundation of Gatherhaus. We firmly believe in purposefully building community around shared passions and goals, and found there really was a void for what we were most interested in…and it seemed like it was a pretty big void that others were voicing a need for as well.


Gatherhaus is a place that celebrates the individual who has decided to break out of the mold and do things their own way. It isn’t about a specific lifestyle (though it does embrace crunchiness quite a bit) but more about living authentically and with purpose. Our aim with this blog is to tell the stories of people who decided to live their convictions…to whittle down what is most important to them, and live purposefully in that way.

So whether that is to live in a clean uncluttered environment, to embrace a laid back lifestyle for the kids, to eat organic, to plan more vacations, to make sure screen time is limited at home, to intentionally meet new people who will inspire, to home school, to homestead, to move to a tiny house, to find out how to fix their own house, to learn how to garden and can and sew, to learn how to brew the perfect cup of coffee, to find local artists, the list goes on and on.

Basically, one of my big worries is to look back 10 years from now and find myself in the same place I was then, and to realize I never did half the things I wanted to do. That is one of my main drives in life, to live true to how I want to live and to make choices that fit with my ideals and goals so I don’t get sidetracked and miss out on something big.

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This sounds intense, but it isn’t. It is just reorganizing the brain a bit…it just takes giving yourself permission to live the way you want to live. And if your current life isn’t the way you want it to be (and really, whose truly is?) living purposefully means to make the most of what you have. To maybe change up one or two things so your current situation aligns more closely with the type of person you want to be and the type of life you want to have.

For me, it mainly deals with stress. Owning my own photography business is very stressful, and being creative on top of that is its own brand of stress, and shooting weddings, well, that is the top stress layer on the stress cake. But I love my job, and I love the life it provides for my family, and it lets me meet amazing people, see incredible things, and have experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise. So my journey has been about learning to put myself in an environment and mental capacity that helps me deal with stress much better than I used to. We have embraced simple aesthetics in our home, a simple lifestyle void of overscheduling and full of quality time, and a simple mindset to not sweat the small stuff. It has been a journey, and is nowhere near perfect, but life is good, and that is the goal!


Gatherhaus is full of stories of people who have made changes both big and small to be more authentic to themselves. It contains articles as varied as how to decorate for Christmas, to how to make your own laundry soap…some practical articles, some that are more fun and whimsical, and some that highlight the adventures our community has taken together. On facebook, Gatherhaus is a way to interact with other open minded people that are thirsty to learn and share. In person, Gatherhaus is a warm open community that accepts all and is dedicated to finding the common roots we all have.

So I would love for you to venture over to the Gatherhaus blog and check it out. Subscribe to always know when the next article is posted and to be one of the first to know when our events like the Culinary Series or home improvement classes may be. We are also on twitter and instagram (where you truly get the inside scoop!).

I would love for you to be a part of this journey! I have already connected with so many amazing people, had so many foodie adventures, and posted some really wonderful images, and we have some big news coming soon!


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A Family Engagement

June 12th, 2015

Josey and Matt are getting married this December and are taking us along for that crazy ride (we can’t wait!).  Since they also have three boys in their busy family, we decided to do a family session in Minneapolis.  When we do destination weddings, we are with the couple for days, so it made sense for the boys to get used to me and having their picture taken.  It was such a beautiful blue sky mild day today, just lovely, we had a great time exploring and hanging out.

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Though not in the image, there is a toddler holding on to Josey’s leg as we take our romantic pictures.


Dad gets some boy time, too!  He got a workout during the session giving piggyback rides to the older two.

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Family tickle fight!


Matt and Josey, I had such a great time today getting to know your fabulous family.  Enjoy your sneak peek!

Posted in: Family Sessions
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Simone’s Doljanchi

June 7th, 2015

Simone had her first birthday party today!  In Korean tradition, a child’s Doljanchi is a big deal, and Simone’s mom created a gorgeous party with a French travel theme and including lots of pink, gold sparkles, and whimsical designs.


The afternoon started off with Simone’s one year portraits…and her brother joined her for some as well!

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They are just the cutest!


This party was birthday party paradise.  Face painting, a bounce house, crafts, cotton candy, and the most delicious food and desserts!

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Later in the afternoon, Simone was dressed in a traditional hanbok and guests watched as she played a game called doljabi.  Family members guess what profession she is going to choose and then the child picks an item that says what she will be when she grows up.  Simone chose a paint set…though also the stethoscope, so maybe she’ll be a doctor and a painter!


Time for singing Happy Birthday and the cake smash!

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It was such a pleasure being a part of the festivities today!  Enjoy the sneak peek!


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Love Story

May 31st, 2015

Liz and Alex had their engagement session today!  What a beautiful evening to wander around a new place in the golden sunlight with your fiance!  I had a wonderful time getting to know these two fabulous people better and they were very gracious of my crazy photographer personality running around them and chasing the light and randomly hiding in the brush to get a unique angle.  Here is their engagement session sneak peek!

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We went dramatic with this ring shot, I’m over the moon about it!

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Liz and Alex, thank you so much for spending the afternoon with me!  John and I can’t wait for your wedding!

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Beata and Tony

May 30th, 2015

Beata and Tony were married today!


We started the day off with a sweet first sight at the hotel followed by a few portraits and then a fun filled limo ride into Minneapolis for pictures.

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The day couldn’t have been more perfect, gorgeous blue skies, a cool breeze and an easy going fun wedding party!

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Tony and Beata were such hams, it was a blast working with them!

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In one of our emails Beata told me she was willing to do anything for her portraits, even climb a fence.  She definitely followed through and man, this picture was so worth it!


After pictures, and a quick stop for a fast food snack, we headed to Buck Hill, where the ceremony and reception were held.   After one of the shortest (but cutest) wedding ceremonies ever, Beata and Tony had some time at the top of the ski hill for pictures before heading back to their guests.

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The black and white theme of the wedding was lovely.  Beata included a damask pattern throughout, and everything was modern and clean in design.  The couple had their grand march, went straight into the first dance, and then we enjoyed a delicious dinner from Crystal Lake Golf Club.  After dinner, all bets were off and the shenanigans began…it was such a crazy good time!

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Beata and Tony told us they wanted some modern and edgy pictures on their day, so we created this long exposure and just love how it turned out.


Tony and Beata, thank you so much for having us be a part of your wedding day!  We had a wonderful time and hope you enjoy your sneak peek!

Posted in: Weddings
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Newborn Sebastien

May 12th, 2015

Sweet Sebastien surprised his parents by arriving four weeks early!  This little nugget is just as sweet as can be and everyone in the family is so excited to have him in their lives.  Though he normally is either eating or sleeping, today he kept his eyes wide open for quite a bit of the session, I think he was enjoying all the snuggles and kisses!


Sebastien has the most precious nursery, so we spent most of our time there for portraits.


Zoe joined us for a few images and loved having the freedom to cover Sebastien with kisses…he wasn’t too sure about what to do with that experience but she seems pretty pleased with herself.

After the puppy excitement, Sebastien conked out for the rest of the session.  What a cutie pie!!!!

There is nothing like those first weeks of newborn snuggles.  Heal up, stay warm, and enjoy your new bundle!

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Enticing Entertainment’s Open House

April 24th, 2015

It is no surprise whatsoever that Enticing Entertainment was inspired after a trip to Burning Man.  This troupe of performers are eclectic, full of personality, and extremely talented in so many different niches.  From steampunk circus acts to acrobatics, they own the word entertainment.  Tonight, they had an open house at Aria and the entire night was a feast for the eyes!


Tonight’s entertainment included aerialists, lyra and trapeze artists, stilt walkers, dancers of every sort, circus performances, character performers, fire dancers, acrobats, a light show, and even champagne poured by a woman hanging from the ceiling!  Dramatic light and music added to the atmosphere as well as gold painted servers passing around Crave Catering‘s unique and amazing food.

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I really love this shot, incorporating the company’s logo in with the artist.

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The first large scale performance was called circus, and it was my favorite.  Keep scrolling to see the rest of the night!

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I had such a blast at this event!  I always love working with the Aria crew, and loved all of the amazing talent that Enticing Entertainment showed off tonight!

Posted in: Events
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Hannemann Renovations

April 12th, 2015

We tend to not include too many personal stories on our blog…but I feel like our kitchen remodel has been a supporting cast member in not only our lives but the lives of any client who saw the construction, along with friends, family and peers who heard us talking about it and helped us work on it.

As a quick recap, we live in a home that had an addition put onto the back of the house in the 80s…they literally just slapped it onto the back of the house, we found siding and shingles in the walls during demo.  When they busted through the back wall to create a doorway from the kitchen to the back room, they neglected to properly reinforce a load bearing wall.  When we bought the home, the ceiling was newly painted in the kitchen and we soon realized why when the first heavy rains came and large water stains appeared.  Over the years we tried to find the leaks which continued even after new tyvek and siding was installed, our new upstairs drywall kept cracking and we couldn’t figure out why, and the house was starting to become depressing, especially since we had a 2, 3, and 4 year old to raise.  In comes our hero, Andy, of Worth Design Build who walked us through the scary moments that part of the upper floor of our home was being held up only by 2 2x4s and (I kid you not) SIX NAILS, but who also talked us through how to fix it well, fix it right, and fix it without costing us thousands.  We also loved working with Iron River Construction who replaced part of our roof to make sure everything was sealed up tight.

And us being us thought, “hey, since we have to tear up the entire kitchen ceiling and the back room is all patched and ugly anyway, lets remodel, we hate our kitchen!” and then, us being further us thought, “hey, this back room is awkward and the kitchen is, too, it would be better if we switched them!”  So the journey started.

We had Andy’s expertise and also utilized a great program that St Louis Park residents have at their disposal…an architect comes to your home for two hours to help give ideas for only $25!  We couldn’t pass that up!  For us, we needed a mediator to take my super simple aesthetic and John’s “lets build as big and fit as much in here as we can!” energy and find a healthy middle.  Through this program we met Jeremiah Battles of Acacia Architects and working with him was such a joy!  He helped us see that a functional kitchen footprint is about the same size no matter how large the room is, and gave us the great idea to line up the back door with the island and light fixtures…to see the space in functional areas and gave us ideas that inspired us even further.

This is our original kitchen.  NO counter space, not much room to walk around in…cramped and not functional…


As with any remodel, the moment you open a wall, you discover 45 new things that weren’t done correctly.  John found exposed live wires buried in the walls, duct work improperly routed, and numerous plumbing and electrical DIY projects that were done so incorrectly it started to feel like it was on purpose.  Slowly the two room project leaked to various other rooms in the house as John fixed all the old mistakes just to get to doing the original job.  We always tried to see the silver lining in everything, like the fact that Cooper loved the hole in his bedroom floor that opened to the kitchen below it!  And the kids helped us work and demo!  Below, you can see the family’s game faces.


The kitchen had a totally unnecessary soffit that made the ceiling feel low and dark, we think it was there to keep smoke over the oven since the oven’s exhaust fan was just an opening to the outside!  We quickly got rid of that fan (and the breeze that blew through our house consistently) and the soffit, reinforced the opening from the old kitchen to the new, and got to work.  It was two and a half years of work since we only built when we had money and John was doing almost everything himself.


A small cramped kitchen, was the perfect size for a family dining room.  The birch bark wallpaper and schoolhouse industrial chandelier were the splurges for this room (want to ever have a marriage building activity?  hang wallpaper together) and I wanted to keep it simple and clean.  The grey in this room is slightly darker than in the kitchen so everything ties in together, but the room feels more intimate.  We also love that the room gave us a clean large wall to feature our custom Josey Lewis art piece, I just adore this room.  A huge shout out to Sarah of Lifestyle Interiors for the color choices and helping me tie all our ideas together!

And THIS is the back room.  The room we initially saw as a studio, that quickly became a well used family room, that turned out to be a drafty cold back room we never used.  We blocked it off completely, and fully demoed it.  The decision to switch the kitchen to this room came easily to us as we could sacrifice this space without too much inconvenience and John could work at his own pace without having to clean up each night.  It was basically a workshop he slowly turned into the kitchen.  Oh, and drywalling that angled ceiling?  The dude deserves an award for that work!

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I went to school for interior design, and architecture is a passion of mine (though it is very hard for me to design my own spaces!).  John and I love all things old, unique and antique, but we didn’t want a kitchy country kitchen or something that was shabby chic.  I like clean lines and a fairly monochromatic color scheme with punches of texture and color.  Industrial modern is one of my favorite design aesthetics, along with primitive antiques.  Primitive design has always resonated with me because it is so practical, yet with solid hand crafted quality and just a touch of decorative embellishments.

The kitchen is a balance of modern and old, cool and warm.  Textured concrete countertops are sleek yet have a worn texture, the mahogany cabinets have a shaker design and add that touch of luxe and have pulls that have the same texture as the concrete, the backsplash tiles are the same color as our front room studio and are modern and fashion forward, the barn wood again gives texture and echos the concrete color while beautifully contrasting the warm wood of the floor and cabinets, modern appliances and industrial stools also balance the design.  Cook books, trivets, pots, and bowls we regularly use are display pieces along with an awesome piece of a farmhouse hung up high as decor.  The industrial pendant lights have my favorite Edison bulbs in them and give off a warm light at night.


When I found this 1800’s Norwegian hutch at Carver’s The Nature of It, I initially walked away…it would have been the largest antique purchase we had ever made.  However, I kept having dreams (yes, I dream about furniture) about it, and two months later it was still there, and we had the anchor point of the kitchen.


Ryan Noble’s craftsmanship is simply impeccable.  We are over the moon with how this 100 year old salvaged barn wood looks in our kitchen!


Speaking of workmanship, John’s talent really shines when he is doing the little details.  He added these little cubby holes because he can’t help himself, he has to give purpose to every surface…and they look so fabulous.  And the way he meticulously married the concrete, barnwood siding, and his handmade cabinetry was truly impressive.  Yes, I know how lucky I am to be married to this man…for so many reasons!

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John and I talked about how we wanted our house to flow and worked the design around that.  We like open breezy spaces, but I’m not a fan of open concept homes.  I like separate rooms for separate things.  This design allows us to see from one end of the house to the other, but still feels cozy and gives each room its own identity.  The angled archways were already a part of the home design, so John made sure to keep that look for the arch from the dining room to the kitchen.  And when we designed the front room and dining room, we purposefully kept an open hallway from the front of the house to the back for good hyper kid traffic flow and to make the space feel large and clean.


This is the view from our front room to the kitchen area.  This room is the first we really remodeled when we moved in and it set the tone for the rest of the house.  I can’t tell you how much we love the first floor of our home now!  The years of hard work and scrimping and finding creative solutions were worth it!


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Day on the Farm

April 7th, 2015

I’ve been photographing Finn since before he was born.  And for his two year old portrait session, it was only fitting to come back to the farm where his mom and dad were married, and where we photographed his mama while pregnant.  We started off in the storage barn that Finn’s dad worked so hard on cleaning and basically turning into a photographer’s dream studio.  Gorgeous light with details everywhere!


Hey Finn, remember when you gave your mom a heart attack climbing the stairs of the barn?!?!?!


I just love hanging out with this family, their love for their baby boy is so evident.


After smiles in the barn, it was time to get some energy out.  The brisk spring day was perfect for running around and picking up sticks and climbing on rocks and all the things a toddler loves to do on a farm.

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Back in the barn, Finn explored upstairs, which gave me the opportunity to get some really great natural light shots.

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Enjoy your sneak peek!  Thank you for such a beautiful afternoon!


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Baby Eleanor

April 1st, 2015

Baby Eleanor arrived in the world about two weeks ago!  She is such a doll, and gives this sly one eyed cautious glance, always keeping tabs on the world.  Today was such a beautiful spring day and Eleanor was snug and happy in her little home.

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With two puppy big brothers, Eleanor is in a home full of action, and it was adorable watching the pups try to get close to her and figure her out.


Then, out came the pink tutu.  Eleanor wasn’t super excited about all this photo nonsense, until we snuggled her up in a warm corner…she conked right out…

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…and just as quickly was alert again, checking out the weird lady laying on her livingroom floor taking her picture.


Matt and Allison, thank you so much for welcoming me into your home today and sharing your precious new family member!!!