And I thought I loved the South...

Anytime I can sing the praises of the south, you can bet your bottom dollar I do! "There's no place like it", "The weather is great", "The history and architecture are beauties like no other", and then I met Palm Springs! 

Several weeks ago, we planned a family rendezvous on the west coast! We flew into San Diego, and then drove into the desert versus flying direct. This gave us an the amazing opportunity to take a mini road trip and see some usual sights.

First stop, HWY 78 and The Anza-Borrego Desert....

he said the terrain reminded him of afghanistan.  

he said the terrain reminded him of afghanistan. 

hey, department of defense...we found a new exercise location. your welcome! 

hey, department of defense...we found a new exercise location. your welcome! 

Next stop, the Salton Sea....

The Salton Sea was created accidentally in 1905. Waters were being diverted to the Imperial Valley for agricultural reasons, a flood caused an irrigation canal to break and waters then freely flow into the Salton Basin.  In the 1920's, it was a hopping tourist destination, and by the 1950's it supposedly had more visitor than Yosemite National Park. This was going to be California's new hot spot; vacation homes, yacht clubs, beaches, and of course hotels.

However, this accidental sea had other plans and also no outlet. As the water evaporates the salinity goes up {It's ruffly 25% higher than the ocean}. The salinity, as well as toxic algae, deoxygenation due to over growth of algae, Vibrio alginolyticus, trace selenium, and being an approved agricultural repository, have all stressed the local biota and unfortunately contributed to massive fish and bird dieoffs as well as mutations...not to mention a very unpleasant smell.

It smelled as good as one might think! There were places where the barnacles were ruffly 6 to 7 inches deep above the sand.

It smelled as good as one might think! There were places where the barnacles were ruffly 6 to 7 inches deep above the sand.

That unusal looking sand: barnacles. They crunched under your feet as well as caused you to sink with every step. .  

That unusal looking sand: barnacles. They crunched under your feet as well as caused you to sink with every step.. 

And just like that, everything closed up, was abandoned, and empty....  

before

before

after

after

But of course I wanted to stop(I love weird and unusual things)! 

it looks post apocalyptic...right out of a movie.  

it looks post apocalyptic...right out of a movie. 

"just sit right back and you'll hear a tale. a tale of a fateful trip...." 

"just sit right back and you'll hear a tale. a tale of a fateful trip...." 

Sixty miles later...

We arrived at Heaven's Gate...otherwise known as The Parker Palm Springs! It's almost hard to describe this place. Every time I attempt to do so...yeah, I'm at a loss for words. In fact, the mere thought of this place leaves a smile on my face, and a warm feeling in my soul. Yes...Yes, it was just that magical! It was like going to a mid-century modern "Alice in Wonderland!" 

Locked away from the real world, and nestled in the middle of the desert is this beautiful hidden oasis. Towering hedges surround the property making it completely private, and a place where you can't help but let your everyday burdens faded into the distance.

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It was decorated by my favorite interior designer, the phenomenal Jonathan Adler{please google him if you've not yet been aquatinted with his work}! Quite frankly, any adjective I could use to describe the decor and how fabulous it truly was would simply be an understatement...so, I'll just stick with photographs. 

how fabulous is their curb appeal? 

how fabulous is their curb appeal? 

decor to die for! 

decor to die for! 

just Say No!  

just Say No! 

norma's was the places for breakfast...  

norma's was the places for breakfast... 

Click the links below...It's ok to be curious! 

adults only!

adults only!

he knows all kinds of nifty tricks.  

he knows all kinds of nifty tricks. 

what happens when you're trying to blend in and look fabulous...

what happens when you're trying to blend in and look fabulous...

au revoir mr. parker

au revoir mr. parker

Palm Springs Day Two...

 

The last leg of our adventure was spent with family at this amazing AirBnb. The whole house was pretty neat, but the back yard took the cake{I got a bad case of outdoor entertaining envy}. I would replicate this in our own back yard, but we'd undoubtably spend all our time hosing off pollen and mold, and never get to enjoy it. Yes, in the south...we're damp, and our plants are always having sex on everything.

seriously, couldn't you just spend forever in this backyard!?

seriously, couldn't you just spend forever in this backyard!?

After settling in, our party of three took the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto.  We hiked around...maybe I should say "they hiked, I huffed and puffed."  We don't hike in South Carolina,we stroll. Down the beach, around town, your neighborhood, the mall, but it's all at a stroll...nice and easy. No climbing necessary, much less elevations. So, needless to say I was always pullin' up the rear. I can brag, however, that they do teach southern girls how to "teetee" outside...so, I at least when nature called, I had that part covered. 

shopping really is my cardio!

shopping really is my cardio!

Palm Springs Day Three...

We visited Joshua Tree State Park and relaxed.

The terrain was like nothing I had ever seen before. I felt like I was on set with the Flintstones. 

hey good looking!

hey good looking!

i could really get used to this.

i could really get used to this.

Palm Springs Day Four...

 

Last stop before our flight was the Palm Springs Art Museum

standing on one side of a large glass sculpture.

standing on one side of a large glass sculpture.

this was the most life like sculpture i have ever seen...and of course i was going to do something inappropriate.   

this was the most life like sculpture i have ever seen...and of course i was going to do something inappropriate.  

Palm Springs really had it all. Terrific weather, a mid-century design and architecture obsession, hidden oases, color(people, places, and things) and it's now officially become my retirement destination location.

My hopes for old age.... lounging by a lushes pool side oasis in a colorful kaftan, while sipping a cocktail, and letting my silver hair blow in the wind. 

You had glamour, you had class, Palm Springs you were FA-BU-LASS!

 

Until we meet again!

XOXO - Nicole

 

The Salton Sea Authority (October 3, 1997) Retrieved from www.sci.sdsu.edu/salton%20sea%20description.html

 

20 Questions with Nicole Moore

Featuring Marley Stokes "Miss SC Teen USA 2016"

Meet Marley

Last February, I was in dire need of a blonde model for our spring photo shoot. I reached out to an old pageant friend of mine, and she quickly came to my rescue by referring none other than Miss Marley Stokes. When she came through the door, it was like the sun came in with her. She was not only great during the shoot {and perfect for the job}, but was a absolute pleasure during our dinner to follow. So, it came as no shock to me that several months later she was crowned Miss SC Teen 2016. 

1. You won Miss SC teen on your fourth try...did you ever think about just calling it quits after attempt number three?

Not at all. For me, it wasn't about how many times, it was about letting God dictate my path on his timeframe and trusting that the opportunities that surfaced would lead me to my destiny.

Miss SC teen USA 2013

Miss SC teen USA 2013

Miss SC Teen USA 2014

Miss SC Teen USA 2014

Miss sc teen usa 2015  - Gown by Canary designs

Miss sc teen usa 2015

- Gown by Canary designs

2. Describe what it feels like to be standing on stage as part of the final two?

Well, I've been there twice so I have felt both sides of this moment and both times it's an exciting adrenaline rush that makes it so hard to gather your prayers.

3. Are you able to explain the emotions you felt when you heard your name announced as the new Miss sc teen?

I was so overwhelmed with excitement that I dropped to the ground in shock that my dream of 4 years had finally come true.

4. What's your favorite part of pageantry?

Networking and meeting new people. You never know who you may meet on an appearance.

5. What is the hardest part of being a beauty queen?

For me, the hardest thing is never having enough clothes{for appearances}. 

 

6. YOUR OPENING NUMBER OUTFIT FROM THIS PAST YEAR WAS AMAZING!!! DID YOU DESIGN IT YOURSELF? 

My mom did,  I didn't even see it until the first fitting.

7. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE food?

Mexican 

9. HEELS OR FLATS?

Flats! I love Vans. I have about 5 pair.

8. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?

Two C’s: Comfy and Chic

Marley definitely knows how to rock the two C's!

Marley definitely knows how to rock the two C's!

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FASHION TREND OF ALL TIME?

Rompers, I have about 30 in my closet right now.

11. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR?

Yellow

 swimsuit by  Kandice Pelletier

 swimsuit by Kandice Pelletier

Marley, sporting a super cute black v-neck romper with fringe detail last summer on a trip to our nations capital. 

Marley, sporting a super cute black v-neck romper with fringe detail last summer on a trip to our nations capital. 

12. Name three things that can always be found in your purse?

Currently, lipgloss, signature cards and sharpies.

13. I SAW YOU RECENTLY TRAVELED TO NEW YORK TO VISIT the MISS UNIVERSE HEADQUARTERS, AS WELL AS DO A LITTLE SHOPPING. HAS THIS BEEN ONE OF THE MORE EXCITING THINGS YOU'VE DONE THUS FAR, OR IS THERE SOMETHING ELSE THAT'S TAKEN THE CAKE?

So many wonderful things happened that trip. I met Miss Universe, Pia Wurtzbach and Julianne Hough, from Dancing with the Stars. I visited the famous Mood Fabric to select the material for my Teen USA dress. Plus, I made some of the most amazing memories with my friends and my Mom.

marley met julianne while she was making an appearance in NYC at "lord and taylor" for the launch of her  mpg activewear line "jules"

marley met julianne while she was making an appearance in NYC at "lord and taylor" for the launch of her mpg activewear line "jules"

Nothing beats a trip to  mood ! 

Nothing beats a trip to mood

14. TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE UP COMING MISS TEEN USA PAGEANT?

The Miss Universe Office hasn't announced anything yet.

 

15. TELL US, WHAT IS ONE THING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT OTHERS WOULD BE SURPRISED TO LEARN?

I absolutely HATE to shop.  

16. Well, what do you like to do in your free time?

Since, I've been traveling so much by myself lately...Whatever free time I have, I try to spend it with my family and friends. I enjoy simply sitting on the couch watching a show, or just laying out by the pool. 

Marley, and a few friends enjoying a low key evening over a game of cards.

Marley, and a few friends enjoying a low key evening over a game of cards.

17. Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram? 

Instagram, because it's easiest for my followers to keep up with my journey to Miss Teen USA.  

18. What is the secret for getting you hair to curl like this?

The secret is a wand and a bit of teasing and a little hair spray.

 

19. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE HOLIDAY? 

Thanksgiving, not only for the yummy food, but to be with family and giving thanks to God for all the wonderful things he has done for us.

 

20. IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SUPER POWER, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?

 I would eat my weight in tacos. Eat without ever gaining weight...No explanation needed!

I HOPE YOU ENJOYED GETTING TO KNOW A LITTLE BIT More ABOUT Marley. To stay up to date on her journey for the crown, you can follow her ON INSTAGRAM AT realmissscteen.

XOXO- Nicole

Not just blowing smoke...

Last week, I posted the fifth installment of our  "20 Questions with Nicole" blog series. If you missed it..it's still there, and you should definitely go give it a look {especially, if you're in the market for a great photographer}.  Her name is Julie Filyaw and I've pretty much known her my whole life. She was my college roommate, has an incredible eye for detail, and is beyond fabulous in my mind {but I might be partial}. So, in an effort to prove I'm not just blowing smoke, here is a little sample of just how good she really is...

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                THIS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF JULIE'S HANDY WORK. BOTH OF THESE PICTURES WERE TAKEN AT THE SAME TIME, yet thE finished products look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. 

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GO CHECKOUT THE Julie Filyaw Photography FACEBOOK PAGE For more information on how to book this amazing photographer, 

XOXO - Nicole

20 Questions with Nicole Moore

Featuring Julie Filyaw of Julie Filyaw Photography 

Meet Julie

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Julie and I met in preschool. However, it wasn't until college that we became thick as thieves. Sophomore year we both transferred into the University of South Carolina from other colleges. By junior year we had decided to become roommates, and from there, the rest is what they call "History!" 

We lived near the Governor's mansion at a place called "The Pavilion Towers" {it's still there mind you...14 years later}. It was a cluster of four round apartment builds in a gated cul de sac.

TA DA!!!!! Meet the Towers. 

We lived on the first floor with a great view of the pool and everyone working out in the gym. 

We lived on the first floor with a great view of the pool and everyone working out in the gym. 

Randomly, I found their pamphlet while looking for old pictures of Julie and myself from college. Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Who keeps stuff like this for 14 years?" I DO! {I'm a momento hoarder!}

Yes, our rent was $315 each a month, and thankfully our parents paid it {Out of curiosity I recently checked out there website, and HolyMoly it's doubled in price}. 

There are so many stories I could share about the wild things we got ourselves into while living here, but trust me some things are better left unsaid {If you are curious about that loud sound you just heard, it was Julie...letting out a sigh of relief.} I'm not saying that I wouldn't be willing to share all of our juicy stories, just that I'm only willing to spill those kinds of details in person. So, if you're interested you'll need to find me and bring a nice {BIG} bottle of champagne when you come. 

Our apartment was a little different from this one, but you get the idea.

Our apartment was a little different from this one, but you get the idea.

 
I believe this was spring of 2003, and in between classes.

I believe this was spring of 2003, and in between classes.

Believe it or not , I do have a few fond and PG memories that I am willing to share. One of which, being my favorite Julie/Nicole activity. Sitting on "The Dock," or other wise known as our Monday mid-day ritual. We would pop a bag of popcorn, sit on our balcony, and recap the details from our {sometimes wild} weekends. And whether the plot lines were full of drama, laugher, or tears...We always found ourselves completely entertained with what the other had to say. In fact, we have enough inside jokes to fill up a Mead five subject spiral notebook. 

Julie's Wedding back in 2004

Julie's Wedding back in 2004

I know I stated earlier that there were a handful of tales I could share, but as I write I realize...Nope, no there are not. I lied. I can't reveal anything else without incriminating either myself or Julie. I find myself laughing out loud at this turn of events, because I established this blog for the entertainment of many and currently there are only two people presently amused! I guess two is better than none. 

Nowadays, with Julie caring for two children, managing a home, and running a small photography business, she doesn't have much time to leisurely sit and chat over a bowl of popcorn. However, for old time sake I was able to drag her away from all that binds her for a few hours to reminisce and reveal. 

1. Let's start this off with an easy question...Do you remember the brand of popcorn we used to eat in college? 

I was thinking Smart Pop. It's the kind I buy now, but I'm betting that's wrong.   

YUP, YOU ARE WRONG...IT WAS HEALTHY CHOICE. THEY STOPPED MAKING IT...I WAS DEVASTATED!! 

YUP, YOU ARE WRONG...IT WAS HEALTHY CHOICE. THEY STOPPED MAKING IT...I WAS DEVASTATED!! 

     2. Is there one memory that I might have passed over from college about us that you're willing to share?

Random road trips to Clemson...especially the time you walked into the room in the middle of the night and by your voice or from lack of a voice, I thought you were a man!  I could elaborate on that night, but I'll just leave it at that! Priceless memories though!

TILLMAN HALL AT CLEMSON UNIVERSIty

TILLMAN HALL AT CLEMSON UNIVERSIty

THIS PICTURE IS FROM OUR FIRST {OF MANY} RANDOM TRIP TO CLEMSON. WE USED DIRECTIONS WRITTEN ON A NAPKIN IN BROWN CRAYOLA MARKER.

THIS PICTURE IS FROM OUR FIRST {OF MANY} RANDOM TRIP TO CLEMSON. WE USED DIRECTIONS WRITTEN ON A NAPKIN IN BROWN CRAYOLA MARKER.

Hahaha! Oh, lord... That was the night I lost my voice at the Clemson/Duke basketball game {cheering for DUKE, of course}.

 

3. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CURRENT FASHION TREND? 

I'm a stay at home mom, so that would be jeans and a t-shirt. I worked in a professional setting for 10 years, wearing dress clothes every single day.  Hallelujah that's over! I'm all about being comfortable, but not sloppy. I hate sloppy!

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FASHION TREND OF ALL TIME?

To be honest, I love baseball caps. They keep the sun off your face, and the hair off your neck. Not to mention, when you've been so busy running after kids that you forget to wash your own hair...a monogrammed cap can help keep that "dirty" little secret private! 

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SNAG UP YOUR VERY OWN MONOGRAMMED CAP...ONLY $15    

CLICK THE PHOTO TO SNAG UP YOUR VERY OWN MONOGRAMMED CAP...ONLY $15  

5. HOW WONDERFUL IS PARENTHOOD?

 

It's the one thing in life that everyone should be so lucky to experience.

6. WHAT'S ONE AWFUL THING ABOUT IT THAT NO ONE WARNED YOU ABOUT?

Well, this is an awful and a wonderful thing, if that makes sense...but, it is the feeling of your heart walking around outside your body. When your child hurts, you hurt. When they are scared, sad, nervous, happy, etc...you are all those things x100. Sometimes, that's an overwhelming load to carry. 

7. Let's get real for a minute. EVERY PICTURE I SEE OF YOUR CHILDREN MAKES THEM LOOK LIKE ANGELS, BUT YOUR SON, COLTON IS 90 MILES AN HOUR AND OLIVIA CLAIRE THINKS YOUR TELEPHONE BELONGS TO HER...HOW DO YOU DECOMPRESS AND RELAX AFTER A FULL DAY OF ALL THAT?

RIGHT BEFORE COLTON PUT A CHICK ON OLIVIA'S HEAD.

RIGHT BEFORE COLTON PUT A CHICK ON OLIVIA'S HEAD.

I don't. I don't have very much down time at all. I can honestly say that when I worked a "real" job, that it was my down time. I could have coffee every single day without having to reheat it, and I could carry on a conversation without talking to a child or doing two other things at once.  People who work full time jobs will roll their eyes at this answer and that's fine. But, I've been an Administrator of 6 physicians and 17 employees in a very busy medical office- being a stay at home mom is by far the hardest, most tiresome job I have ever had. If you have never done it, you wouldn't understand. Trust me, I didn't.

But, it was my choice. I wanted to be the one who picked up my kids from school and the one who witnessed all the first things Olivia Claire would do on her own. Those little things are so important to me!

NO EXPLANATION NEEDED!

NO EXPLANATION NEEDED!

8. STARTING FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL, YOU HAD TO PHYSICALLY ADMINISTER YOURSELF INSULIN SHOT. DURING COLLEGE, I WITNESSED FIRST HAND YOUR STRUGGLES AS A DIABETIC.  HOW HAS LIFE CHANGED FOR YOU NOW THAT YOU HAVE AN INSULIN PUMP? 

Well, I can't really wear a dress! Haha! There isn't anywhere to hide it or clip it to!  People, especially kids, stare at it like it is some crazy foreign object, so most of the time I just go ahead and explain what it is if I notice someone looking. Most adults think it is an iPod or phone. Children are amazed that I can take medicine through a tube in my stomach- super powers ;-)

But on a serious note, it helps me stay more controlled. My endocrinologist said it was necessary to have kids, so i did it!  I actually tried to go back taking injections a few years ago, and hated it!!!!

9. AS A DIABETIC, IS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU ARE TOTALLY FORBIDDEN FROM EATING? 

No, moderation is key.

10. I KNOW IN COLLEGE YOU COULDN'T COOK A LICK {SHE ONCE QUESTIONED HER PORK CHOP BEING DONE BECAUSE IT WAS STILL WHITE}. HAVE YOU PICKED UP ANY FOOD PREPARATION SKILLS IN THE LAST 14 YEARS?

 
CLICK THIS LINK TO FIND YOUR OWN PORK RECIPES. 

CLICK THIS LINK TO FIND YOUR OWN PORK RECIPES. 

 

I can cook some things. I can follow a recipe. But, I wouldn't say I enjoy it and I hate going to the grocery store. Blake does 95% of the cooking in our house.

11. FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, OR TWITTER?

Facebook

12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WEBSITE? 

Pinterest

13. AS LONG AS I CAN REMEMBER, YOU'VE ALWAYS LOVED PHOTOGRAPHY. WHAT DRAWS YOU TO IT, AND IF YOU COULD DO IT ALL AGAIN, WOULD YOU HAVE CHOSEN THAT AS YOUR COLLEGE MAJOR?

My children are the reason I love it so much now, but you're right, I have always loved it! When I'm taking pictures, I'm completely happy. It doesn't cause me any stress and I actually find patience (especially with children other than my own)                                                          

 

You know I have zero patience when it comes to everything else in the world, so I would say that's a pretty great reason to love it. I love capturing moments too. All the one million little things you might forget can be frozen with a picture!    

I wouldn't have changed my major though...I liked public relations and it helps me every single day when dealing with clients in relation to what they need/want from a photographer. In this business, PR is very important. You either have the skills or you don't!  

 

14. How do you find inspiration for an upcoming photoshoot?

I always communicate with my clients - a lot! I want to make sure that what they envision or expect is what I deliver. So, I would say it is a joint effort of that communication and searching websites for great ideas... like Pinterest.

15. WHAT'S THE MOST CHALLENGING THING ABOUT PHOTOGRAPHY?

Being different. Photographers are a dime a dozen these days. I try to make my pictures look a little different than the normal or popular style, but that can be hard. Especially when a client brings an idea to you and really wants it or loves it, and you know other photographers are doing the same thing or very similar.

16. DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE SHOOT LOCATION?

To be honest, I hate this question(You're not the first person to ask me). With so many photographers to choose from these days, staying innovative is key. I spend lots of time finding places to shoot that I haven't seen in pictures before. I think my clients really appreciate when their photos look unique.  But the composition of my photos, "my vision" is what makes Julie Filyaw Photography distinctive. So, sharing my "favorite" locations isn't really a good business. 

17. DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER TALENTS, HIDDEN OR OTHER WISE?

I can sew...well somewhat :-) If I took the time to practice and make more clothes, I think it is a hobby I could really enjoy. I'm very crafty.

 

Both of these beauties were sewn by Julie herself!

18. IS YOUR SIGNATURE COLOR STILL PINK AND YOUR FAVORITE ACTRESS STILL OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN?

 

Yes and yes...I do have a child named Olivia!

19. WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE?

Nikon

SHE'S RIGHT, YOU WON'T FIND A SOLO SELFIE ON HER INSTAGRAM FEED, BUT WE DID FIND THIS SUPER CUTE ONE of her and her husband!

SHE'S RIGHT, YOU WON'T FIND A SOLO SELFIE ON HER INSTAGRAM FEED, BUT WE DID FIND THIS SUPER CUTE ONE of her and her husband!

 

20. AS A PHOTOGRAPHER, DO YOU SELFIE? 

No. Well, occasionally with my kids, but really never of just my self!

If you're in the market for photos of yourself, or your fabulous family, I implore you to hop over to the JULIE FILYAW PHOTOGRAPHY facebook page. There you will find her contact informations, as well as see many examples of her IMPECCABLE work,  

XOXO - Nicole

PS: Check back soon for a look at my very own session with Julie Filyaw posting in a few days.

The Look for Less...

A few weeks ago, I was binge watching season two of "The Royals" on E, and I saw Elizabeth Hurley's character wearing a white hip length fur vest...I instantly loved it! However, I knew that I would never find that exact vest, nor be able to afford it if I actually did. 

But a couple of days later, to my dismay, I snagged a white hip length vest that I liked even more than the one that originally sparked my interest. I've been meaning to share my love of it to the world, but it's been too cold for me to venture outside for pictures...until now!

It's beyond cozy, and kind of feels like a baby blanket. It looks great paired with denim of any shade, and adds just the right amount of etherealism to soften any look. Plus, the best part is...it's under $50!