Recap of 2018 // Merry Christmas from the Allen family


It’s cliche, but my goodness, this last year SPED by.  It especially makes it go fast when you add another kid to the mix and count life in sets of 3 weeks (Brian’s work schedule). I actually haven’t ever done one of these year end re-caps, but hey there’s a first time for everything so here goes…. our year of 2018 in review.   Brian is still Roughnecking for Seadrill in the Gulf of Mexico for 3+ weeks at a time, and it usually home for a little less than 3 weeks. It’s a hard life at times, but we actually prefer the unique lifestyle. I’m still learning how to be super efficient, but also rest while solo parenting during those 3 weeks, and my mom visits often from Texas, which helps a ton. The Lord has definitely blessed us with a good “tribe” and plenty of help when needed… and I’m learning to ASK for and ACCEPT help more often.

Last December, I became a Beautycounter consultant after falling in love with the mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone (and being a loyal customer for several years). We started our “non toxic lifestyle” journey 6 years ago after having Brady, and I’ve become even more passionate about advocating for safer products…. I can’t help but share. The company, products and mission is great!! The income has blessed our family, and it’s been fun consulting other women on safer, high performing products and building new relationships or rekindling old friendships!

I was blessed to serve some incredible families with photography this year, but I narrowed down to some of my favorites from this year’s client images. What a gift that I get to serve people in this way!!


Noah made his first road trip with me to Blackbutte, OR (Central Oregon) last February for a quick girls weekend. He did pretty great, but it was not fun navigating all the wintery mountain roads in my older car.  Fast forward to May when we replaced my 16 year old Lexus SUV for a lovely Toyota Highlander (all wheel drive so I don’t feel unsafe in Oregon anymore!). It is literally the car we prayed for in every way (color, year, package, low mileage, pre-owned by an older lady who barely drove it- yes we prayed for that…) and by the grace of God we paid cash (yay debt free life!). God is always in the details.  A funny little thing also happened where we noticed the online list price dropped by a couple thousand dollars overnight (we prayed they’d come down a couple thousand so we’d feel more comfortable paying cash). HAH! Whaddya know… it happened to be a weird tech glitch/accident on the dealership’s part & they honored it. Crazy how God works, especially when you have very specific prayers.

New car on the left. Old car on the right.

Not only did it snow in February, but we also made a beach day trip in February while my mom was visiting from Texas, and funnily enough, the last time she went to the beach with us was in February the year before! Gotta love those gorgeous breaks in the winter weather here in Oregon.  Brian turned 35 in February. How in the world is that?!  We also celebrated 8 years of marriage at the end of March (10+ years together).

Brady played first season of Spring Tee Ball and did wonderfully. It’s so neat to see your kids excel at things. We practiced once a week at a local park with his team and really enjoyed the coaches and families involved. We were blessed with great weather the entire season, too.

We went on a few new hikes in the Spring/early Summer. I think my favorite views were at Rowena Crest near Hood River, and you guessed it – I droned.  Except it’s REALLY windy out there (far East into the Columbia River Gorge) so I was a nervous reck flying that drone over the cliff’s edges.  We enjoyed a beautiful sunny hike out there and then retreated to dinner in Hood River with breathtaking views of the sunset it the gorge while dining al fresco.

Rowena Crest (Trail)

After gaining some courage to reach out to a photographer I hadn’t yet met, but knew online, we traded family sessions and here’s some of ours from Jenkins Estate in June:


June marked our FOURTH Summer living in Oregon. How crazy is that?! To celebrate, we went family tent camping in the wilderness for 5 days. With a dog and two kids… including a baby. However, it was pretty awesome despite the first two nights we refer to as the “tent of torture”, because Noah scream-cried both nights bc it was cold.  We mostly stayed at our camp ground or drove 2 miles halfway around the lake to the Suttle Lodge for some yard games, a hot meal that I didn’t have to make, and a flushing toilet/ running water – hah.  Next year we’re hopeful the sleeping situation will improve since Noah will be a little older. The boys enjoyed fishing around the lake (Brady caught his own first fish!) and I enjoyed swinging in the hammock while Noah napped. It was glorious.  The only thing we weren’t prepared for were the massive amounts of mosquitos at night – we’re spoiled not to be bothered by them where we live in Portland, and the little chipmunk who we caught devouring our loaf of bread we accidentally left on the table. You can read more about our camping adventures here and here. 

We couldn’t get through Summer without at least one trip to the lavender farm! This year we took Rara to a different, more local, lavender farm just 15 min down the road. Read more here.  And you know we picked our way through the summer… strawberries (freezer jam!), blueberries, peaches, etc… We found a new favorite local farm and of course returned to our favorite peach orchard (TK’s Orchard).

Noah turned ONE in July.  We had a little July 4th birthday party (even though he was born ONE and a HALF HOUR after July 4th hah).  You can see more of his birthday morning here and  July 4th party here  and here’s his cake smash at the studio.


I spent most of the Summer redesigning and learning a new software platform to launch my NEW WEBSITE in August! It was truly a labor of love and I’m proud of my hard work. It’s amazing what you can do when you take the time to learn (& have childcare in order to get work done – hah)! Now my website really showcases my work well and I have full control over every little thing!  I’m really hoping to get into more commercial work based in the PNW so, there’s a dedicated page for my commercial work, now. It’d be my dream to work for companies like Columbia, Hanna Andersson, Nike, Adidas, REI, etc… !

In August we finally ventured to Silver Falls State Park (why did it take us so long?) and hiked PART of the Trail of 10 Falls. Some weren’t flowing at high volume like they do in the winter so, it’ll be fun to return during different seasons. I”ll share my drone video when it’s done.


Also in August we headed back to the adorable “Tiny House” beach cottage in Lincoln City where we celebrated my 30th birthday the first Summer we lived here to celebrate my 33rd birthday this year!  I’ll make an actual blog post about it soon…. and a drone video :). We played at the beach, on the playground in the little neighborhood where we rent the beach house, ate at THE BEST breakfast place (Nelscott Cafe) around the corner, flew a massive kite, played with the drone, road the YELLOW beach cruiser around, played in the (heated) pool and the hot tub, did yoga on the porch, battled each other in checkers, etc…

To round out an amazing Summer, I took Brady on a “solo date” with me to pick apples (and of course snap a couple pics – ha) before school started. It was the cutest little “short orchard” just a few minutes from us on the edge of farm country. We picked a bucket of huge Honeycrisp apples and had a week’s worth left over after making a delicious apple pie!

Brady started Kindergarten at a wonderful local Christian school and we couldn’t be happier. We’ve been blessed by the staff and other families that attend. So wonderful. Brady’s loving it and has been waiting “forever” to start Kindergarten.But now he’s started to read and tell time, which means he’ll begin to figure out when it’s not really bedtime, but I’m making him go to bed lol.  Noah also started childcare once a week at a Christian  in-home daycare through a lady/friend at church, which is  HUGE answer to prayer.

The best thing Brady said last year was on the way to the local pumpkin patch (while Noah was screaming in the car) in response to me asking him “Aren’t you excited to go to the pumpkin patch?!” Brady: “I think Noah would like to go to the boobie patch!”  lol. That’s my kid, folks. His quick qit continues to impress me.  This year Noah was a little happier to be at the pumpkin patch. We visited Plumper Pumpkin this time since our local farm closed 🙁 with some friends on a gorgeous warm Fall day.

Brady turned 6 on Halloween and we celebrated with a big party of his friends and Steve’s Creature Feature! It was a big hit and he did an incredible job educating the kids on all his creatures (snakes/lizards) in a fun manner. His constant sense of inquisitiveness, desire to learn and get his hands dirty makes us so proud and excited for his future. His range of interests is also pretty neat. He loves to carry around his backpack with a notebook at the ready to journal his adventures. He’s also known to be a bit of a hoarder (loves any/all kind of containers/organizers). Often times I find containers I’ve recycled being repurposed to house crayons or legos.  His ability to build lego creations (on his own and by looking at the picture instructions) in an incredibly short amount of time constantly impresses us. He definitely has an engineering mind.

It was “No School November” with all the school holidays and one of those days we took advantage of great coastal weather and a reciprocal zoo membership to get free admission to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and made a day trip of it. After a couple hours at the beautiful aquarium, we headed a few min back up coast to check out the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and boy, was it a highlight of my year! The views, the whales (super far off spouting), everything! I can’t wait to go back one day.  We spontaneously dined at a local brewery that was perfect, because we sat upstairs in the back next to a little kids play area with incredible views of Depoe Bay and bridge!

At the end of November, I opened my online PRINT SHOP where folks can purchase my  (mostly) “adventure” photography from around the PNW as individual professional prints or framed or on canvas. I’ll continue to add to it as we adventure (and add past travel photos, as well). Go check it out if you haven’t already!


In December, (the day after Brian got home from being offshore for 3 weeks) we continued our family tradition (since moving to Oregon a few years ago) of cutting down our own Christmas tree at our favorite local tree farm (just before doing a client photo session doing the same) and snapping our annual “Christmas Card” self portrait. It was actually raining during these self portraits, but all things considered (rain, kids, dog, mud, time limit), it went well. We found a tree & Brian cut it down pretty quickly. I wore Noah while they cut the tree, which made it challenging to also take pics (in the rain) so I don’t have many, but I have these & a couple iPhone videos!

Brian arranged an epic surprise Christmas gift – a 2 night adult getaway to a modern mountain retreat near Mt. Hood. It was glorious! He also arranged for my mom and her twin to fly up from Texas to stay with the boys. I felt very loved for all the effort that went into it. Life is so full of blessings.  We took our time, relaxed, cooked a little, dined out a little, hiked a bit, ventured up the mountain to see snow and enjoy the best hot chocolate and I even managed a couple self portraits with Brian before my fingers fell off frozen! It was the perfect gift to recharge in the midst of a very busy season. Can’t wait to return!!

Yoga spot at the cabin!

Old Salmon River Hike

Headed up to Timberline Lodge


I’m impressed if you’re still reading this massively long letter!!  We continue to be blessed by our community, my clients (photography and Beautycounter), friends and family.  God continues to provide for us in ways we couldn’t have asked or imagined.  He covers us in so many ways.  We pray that you enjoy this holiday season and remember the true meaning of why we celebrate. Merry Christmas! Cheers to a New Year!

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