06 December 2015

Penelope Pumpkin

Ben and I have had so many exciting changes in our lives lately that it feels overwhelming to try and sit and write it all. Ben got a great new job and we moved into our favorite neighborhood in the city. I have a really exciting and potentially life changing creative endeavor that I have undertaken and I can't wait to share it all over the internet.

But the absolute most important and biggest change to our lives is that we got a tiny kitten named Penelope (but we call her Penny)! She is a white-gray Persian and she has just brought so much joy to our lives.

We've been talking about getting a pet for years, but since we were in Moscow, it felt near impossible. Though the urge was there, dealing with pet passports and quarantines and foreign medical bills was just too overwhelming. When we came home we started the conversation again, but it was usually centered around dogs because
1. I grew up with dogs and always assumed I would get one
2. I've never really been fond of any cat I've met (they hide under the bed all day/they don't reaaaally love you, etc.)
3. I'm kind of allergic to cats

However, it's really hard to get a dog if you live in an apartment or work all day, both being true in our lives. Neither of us could give a dog the kind of attention we would like to, so everything seemed off the table until I started warming up to the idea of a cat.

I began to do some research about cat allergies, different breeds and their attributing personality traits and really like what I had to read about Persians in particular. They are very social cats who crave being around their owners and aren't as... potentially destructive as other cats (i.e. climbing on counters, knocking stuff over). So I started looking on craigslist for people with Persian litters and we found one out in the country of Illinois! So on Halloween we drove a couple of hours to a Culvers on the side of a highway and picked up our sweet baby Penny.

I don't even know what to say about this cat- she is just the joy of our lives. She has completely renewed our energy. She is playful and loving and curious and as sweet as can be. She loves being around us and is always curled up near. We tried to encourage her to sleep outside of our room, but she would cry (and really, it was CRYING... for like, hours) so now she sleeps in between us like the princess that she is.

It's been a wonderful thing having her in our home. I'm so grateful for her and all the lessons of love and patience she's helped me learn.

Cat overload pictures ahead (what?? How am I a person who even types stuff like that?)

When we attempted to train her to sleep in the other room. How adorable is she, seriously?

And now that we've had her for a little bit more than a month, we're ready to try and start curbing some of her bad kitty behaviors (scratching, lightly biting when she's excited). Tell me all of your cat tips and tricks!


17 September 2015

Our Dreamy Camping Engagement Shoot Pt. 2

After bouncing around the beach of Devil's Lake State Park, we decided to hike a trail and take some more scenic pictures. We had some dinky map we were referencing and we found one on the other side of the lake that was something like 0.7 of a mile. Sounded easy enough, so we filled our backpacks with New Glarus beers and headed out to the trail. 

What the hike ended up being was about 0.7 of a mile uphill. Up a rocky, jagged mountain. Which is fine if that is what I knew we were doing. We ended up just sort of running up the thing thinking we were just a turn away from a scenic shot. It was a funny rush and when we were nearly at the top we all collapsed on some rocks and whipped out our beers for some awesome conversation and what ended up being my favorite shots. 

One thing I really appreciated about Christian was his shooting style-it was quick and painless. Ben and I were hardly asked to pose and most of our shots are us talking and smiling together in the real way that we were actually talking and smiling. Christian had a pretty unobtrusive camera and only shot about five pictures when he did decide to shoot and it was over before you even realized it was happening.

So that's our little engagement shoot. For as sleep deprived and anxious and sweaty and frizzy as we were, Christian was able to capture some really authentic moments between us and I'm so grateful to have these photos. It's a really special thing to be able to look back on great pictures and see just how happy and in love you really are.

Thank you for all your kind words about the photos, I'm so happy to have shared them with you. And check out Christian's blog! All his work is stunning, I cannot recommend him more highly for any and all of your photographing needs.

Check out our Engagement Shoot Pt. 1

15 September 2015

Our Dreamy Camping Engagement Shoot Pt. 1

We had our engagement shoot on a hot, sticky day in the dells of Wisconsin a month or so ago. I had found the incredibly talented Christian Gideon through the blogosphere a couple years ago and kept up with his work while Ben and I were still in Russia. After we got engaged, I waited about 15 minutes before I sent Christian an email, knowing he was really the only person I thought could take the kind of pictures I wanted to have. 

Everyone's individual wedding style is something they need to figure out on their own, but for us it has always been clear. We want to look like ourselves, sound like ourselves, be ourselves. I really turn away from the sterilized, starched wedding look. It was difficult to even find engagement inspiration photos because all of them were stretched and photoshopped. Before Ben and I went to go meet Christian, we had drinks with some friends and we all exchanged photo shoot horror stories we'd seen on Facebook (a couple in a field wrapped in a fur blanket was the winner).

We decided to go camping in Wisconsin because 1. We met in Wisconsin and 2. Being outdoors is very natural and therapeutic for us. When we lived in New Hampshire, we used to walk trails and swim in the clear rivers. Some of our happiest times have been drinking beers by the fire and talking deep into the night. 

The night before our shoot, however, was a mess. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to like, stay in a hotel and just show up the next morning, but we just pitched a tent, threw our clothes into a backpack and that was that. 

So naturally the worst storm of the summer happened that night. 

We woke up around 2 a.m. to some of the worst lightning I had ever experienced. The whole campground was lit up in endless white light, though no rain had appeared yet. Ben and I sleepily left the tent and collected all the rest of our camping supplies and packed it up tight. The rest of the campground moved like frightened, quiet ghosts; we all knew this amount of lightning would lead to an interesting night. 

When the rain eventually started, it came down fast and hard. I screamed and clutched Ben and he laughed and rubbed my back. A tree fell about twenty feet away. Our tent twisted and turned and water slipped into the sides to dampen our clothes. I probably slept about two hours the entire night.

The next morning Christian arrived (also shaken from his camping storm experience further up north) and the three of us began making pancakes and swapping lightning stories. 

What followed was a day that really captured our spirits: we ate, we rowed, we parked illegally, we climbed a surprisingly challenging little trail, we drank New Glarus, we talked and laughed. I'm so in love with the pictures that came from this and I'm so grateful for having found a photographer who was able to give us images of us that are really us. 

I will load the rest of the pictures in a couple of days.

Photography: Christian Gideon || Location: Devil's Lake, Baraboo WI 
Campground: Fox Hill RV Park
Christian's blog entry about the day: here

14 September 2015


The seasons are changing once again and I am back to this blog.

My reasons for being gone are both small and large- a broken computer, a tiring schedule, a lack of inspiration- but all those reasons have found resolution and my rusty hands have been inching towards the "blog" button on my bookmark bar.

Here are things that are stable and current:

  • Ben and I are still living on the outside of Chicago. 
  • We are still planning (planned? More on that process later) our wedding. It will be held March 26th, 2016 at Cafe Brauer in downtown Chicago.
  • We are still in love. We don't have time to cook as much, and our exploring is limited, but we are working to change that. 
  • We understand the changes we need to make and have spent our summer wandering down paths, opening up to one another, asking important questions. We had spent a bit too much time dreaming and we were finally ready to face reality and move forward. 
All the other details of my life are so high up in the air right now, it would just be silly to write them down until I have a chance to give them some validity. 

How are you all? Have you been keeping up with my friend Kaleigh? She's had a tough summer, but she's had so much to say about it. Her words are wounded, but strong and stable. She's been a great friend to me and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from her new self. 

Have you been watching Sense8 on Netflix? Ben and I are obsessed. We've only made it through half the season, but it is gripping and mysterious. I have a couple theories, but I'm excited to see what the end will reveal. 

Remember when I was living at the dacha in Istra last summer? No? Here's a TBT for ya!

Over the summer Ben and I did some hiking while we were visiting his family up in New Hampshire. Does anyone here hike or have any tips? Boot recommendations? I'd love to hear them!

I plan on posting Ben and I's engagement photos in a couple days or so, so please check back then. 

Thanks for always sticking around guys. I love this little community. 


11 April 2015


Ben and I took a little trip down to St. Louis to see a friend of ours from college. I took a few pictures while we were there, so I'll make a post later. Our drive down was fun. I wish we had the money to go on an epic road trip, I've always wanted to drive around America for like 6 months. I want to stop at Wall Drug and see the world's largest ball of twine, do it all. One day!

Because traveling is just miserable (I really have no luck at all with it) we got caught in an epic storm on our way home. Then one of our windshield wipers broke. We made it out alright, but it was a little scary there for a second. 

With our friend, Alex. Alex was probably my first friend when I went to Beloit and at the beginning of our junior year I told him I thought Ben was cute and he rolled his eyes and told me it would never happen. Pssh. 

We went to a bar and they were playing the Cardinals v. Cubs game. It was so weird being on the other side of the game and the Cubs played so badly. SMH.

I took this little shot of Ben in our kitchen. I realized after I took it that the majority of my favorite shots of him, of us, of our life, happen in the kitchen. It's the only room I can seem to do right, haha. 

Our cupcake tasting! We went to Molly's Cupcakes and tried a bunch of them. I've actually been going here for years because it's right across the street from where I get my haircut, so this was the one vendor I knew we had to nab. I'm not going to say they had the best customer service (they made us pay for half of them and then the woman sat and stared at Ben and I as we tried the different flavors. A-W-K-W-A-R-D), but their cupcakes are freaking insane. If you are ever in Chicago, you need to check them out. 

And last but not least, we went and saw "The Book of Mormon"! I saw that it was touring in Chicago until May and I wanted to surprise Ben with tickets, but they are so expensive. I beat myself up about it for weeks until I finally bit the bullet and got us a pair. But then keeping it a secret was another ordeal! I told Ben to take off work that night because we needed to see a florist and he called me back and said, "Lisa, I have taken off three days already to see florists-how many florists do we need to see?!" I kept up the jist until a couple days before when I was just too excited not to tell him. He was floored-he had no idea they were even in town!

It was absolutely amazing. It's definitely an out there play--I have a pretty wicked sense of humor and even I was like, "Oh my God, they did not say that!" But it's hysterical and absolutely worth the money. 

I'm already plotting our next show-any suggestions?

If you don't already, follow my instagram! @Lisahoraan

19 March 2015


I haven't written in so long that I started to avoid this blog because it felt like a mountain that only grew larger each time I decided not to write. So much has happened I don't even know where to begin. Ben and I moved from Moscow. It was a little sudden, but it felt like more relief than I have ever experienced in my life. The trip was a blur (with a crazed, sleep-deprived 6 hour layover in Istanbul), but seeing my parents when we got off the plane was amazing. We were done. We were home. 

We've settled in quickly and have been enjoying American comforts (store bought bagels! Target! Driving!) ever since. We thought about moving to Boston in the summer, but a few days ago decided to stay in Chicago and save money. We've been spending our nights around our dining room table, plotting out our wedding, doing little arts and crafts and browsing etsy for deals. It's been a great source of creativity for us and I'm grateful to have something so wonderful to pour my energy into. 

I have--for the first time in my life--a job that does not leave me drained. Ben has been taking EMT classes and working at a restaurant (which isn't the greatest, but we're hoping to move on soon). We have a tiny trip planned for spring break. We bought a (used) car.

Sometimes I have these moments where I feel this deep panic that I'm not pushing myself enough--that I should be growing faster, especially in terms of a career. I compare myself to others and I feel like because I don't live abroad any longer I should be doing something else. 

But I can honestly say that I have achieved a new kind of peace that I haven't really had before. I don't stress about things as much as I used to; I don't feel like I'm falling forward from leaning in. 

This time in my life feels calm and serene, but it is plainer. We made a safer choice, something we aren't really used to, but I feel like was necessary both financially and mentally. When I have my moments of doubt I remind myself that Boston will always be there, that I still have the world available to me. I know I can pick up and go anywhere because I have picked up and gone somewhere. It just feels so good to be here right now. 

I can't wait to share more wedding details with you. Thanks as always for reading. 


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