cozy winter engagement :: the jewelry





Hello friends! I’m back with more details from the Cozy Winter shoot. Today I want to tell you all about the jewelry worn by Ingrid. Each piece was designed and hand-crafted by the talented designer and artist, Laurie Ashbach of Arise Designs. Laurie happens to be a great friend and a client of mine, and when I visited her studio a few months ago, I was in awe of the new pieces she was creating. The fluid lines and simple details of her new collection were sophisticated, yet casual.

I was so inspired by Laurie’s new collection, that I approached her about designing a custom mount for my wedding ring. Laurie took my snippets of inspiration, and created something far beyond what I could have ever imagined. The ring that she designed and crafted perfectly fits my style and personality. It is entirely unique, and completely “me”–from the thick, weighty band, to the layered details. The stone is from my engagement ring, and was hand-picked by my husband years ago. Laurie wrote a wonderful blog post about the process of designing and creating my ring, from conception to completion. It’s fascinating to see how she works as both an artist and a metalsmith, taking an idea and making it a real, wearable piece of jewelry.

We happened to be in the midst of planning the Cozy Winter shoot as I was working with Laurie on the new ring design. Choosing the right accessories is important in any styled shoot, and in this case, I wanted to use pieces that were cohesive with our overall vision. Her style seemed like a natural fit for this shoot–from the organic simplicity to the playful details–her new collection just felt “right” to me. So, I asked her if we could feature her work in our shoot. She happily agreed, and provided us with a twisted metal bracelet, a silk-corded necklace and, last but not least, my ring, which Ingrid wore for the day.

If you are interested in having Laurie create a custom piece for you, you can contact her directly at laurie(at) Also, visit her blog, in{side}out for a dose of inspiration, faith and creativity!

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photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

cozy winter engagement :: behind the scenes



Styling a shoot is an experience like none other. It’s multifaceted, dynamic, creative and FUN! The process begins with brainstorming and the development of an inspiration board. Photos, colors and textures help to build the vision for me, Emily and our couple. Once we have a basic idea of where we’re heading with the shoot, I work on putting together a wardrobe and gathering the right props. Everything needs to feel natural and cohesive with the overall vision, as well as with the couple’s personality. Location is another important element to consider, because the setting has a dramatic effect on the outcome of the photos.

Sometimes shoots are more editorial or inspirational in nature, as opposed to a “real” shoot for a “real” client. In this case, we maintain more creative control, which enables us to focus on styling and shooting photos that represent us well and can be submitted to both blogs and print publications. The Cozy Winter shoot was one in which we used a real couple (who are really in love!), but shot for more inspirational purposes.

On the day of any styled shoot, Emily is behind the lens, and I am working with the couple, grabbing props, assisting, demonstrating (“see, this is how I want you to saw this log!”), and setting up vignettes.




Speaking of vignettes, for the Cozy Winter shoot, I designed a playful save-the-date for our couple that would feel representative of their love of all things woodsy and would complement the other elements and props we were using. I also created a handmade, personalized book that could be filled with memories and details from their love story. Emily made cute little heart and flower marshmallows, which were perfect toppers to mugs of hot cocoa, and were later used for roasting oven an open fire.

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photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling + paper goods: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

cozy winter engagement :: styled shoot



January in the Midwest isn’t exactly known for being warm and cozy, but put together two people in love, mugs of cocoa, lanterns, a crackling bonfire, and a healthy dose of rustic details, and suddenly everything is all aglow. When Emily and I arrived on site for this wintery inspiration shoot back in early January, we knew there was magic in the making. Ingrid and Colby know how to laugh, and their energy and enthusiasm made for a great day.

I really enjoyed styling this shoot, and am crazy about the rustic, Nordic-inspired details that we were able to incorporate. The woodsy, “cabin” feel that came together felt warm and romantic in the midst of a very cold and snowy setting. Our shoot is featured on The Sweetest Occasion today, so head over there to check it out and view more photos. And stay tuned, because Part 2 is coming later today with behind-the-scenes shots, DIY details and more!









photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling + paper goods: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

cord management




Last week I promised more details on how I finally gained the upper hand on mess of cords under my desk. Cord clutter has always bugged me, but I was unsure how to create order from the jumbled heap. The fix proved to be much simpler and less expensive than I ever would have imagined. IKEA saved the day again with their GALANT under-desk cable organizer for only five bucks. It was a snap to install, and easily holds a power strip and a bunch of cords. A bag of Q Knot Reusable Ties from the Container Store was just what I needed to bundle the cords and secure them to the metal shelf.

The result is less mess, less tangle, less clutter, and a whole lot less accidentally hitting the “off” button on the power strip. I have to say, it makes me feel like celebrating!





sewing nook







Hello friends… I’m here today with another update from the studio re-do!

In my studio, there is a dormer with a large, south-facing window that gets great natural light all day. It its nestled perfectly between the two closets in the room. For the most part, this cozy nook has been home to a work table, a chair, and/or a mountain of miscellaneous props and craft supplies. In other words, this little corner has generally been a big mess. (The “before” picture was snapped after emptying out the room for painting, and really doesn’t give a sense of the disorder this nook has been home to.) Thankfully, the organization of the closets means that all the junk paper, props, and craft supplies have a new, neat and orderly home.

I don’t claim to be a master seamstress, but I do enjoy sewing on occasion. Prior to the studio re-do, my fabric and sewing notions were kept in two vintage suitcases in the guest room, and my sewing machine was stuffed in one of the disorganized closets in the studio. The thought of dragging all that stuff out to the dining room table was never appealing, and so I found that I wasn’t doing much sewing. When Maren and I discussed my needs for the room, one of the things that came up was the addition of a sewing nook. I loved the idea, and realized that having all my sewing supplies in one spot would make it much easier to pick up a sewing project whenever I felt like it.

While shopping Ikea for supplies and containers for the studio, my mom and I happened upon this rail system with hanging hooks and buckets. While it was technically designed for holding cutlery and kitchen utensils, it works great for keeping scissors and thread close at hand in my sewing nook. It was a snap to install, and now all my notions are organized and easy to reach. All my extra buttons and miscellaneous sewing supplies, along with all my fabric, is now organized in containers in one of the studio closets. It’s simple, and not too fancy, but I really love the way this little corner of the studio turned out!

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