A Curated Gifting List {something for almost everyone} | Amy Thelen Photography Knows Gifts

I’ve always wanted to make a beautifully curated list of gifts that are good for anyone you care for, because my love language is gifting to others (more on that in another blog post). Be it holidays, birthdays, or just a whatever kinda day, it’s hard to pull out a gift that really means something if you haven’t given it much thought.

Sometimes, we just need an image to spark our curiosities or remind us of something that this special person mentioned months ago.

Handmade and local are equally important to me as well. I strive to support small, local businesses, knowing that isn’t always possible. You will find a collection of handmade in Portland as well as items handmade from other cities in this list.

I hope that this may help you, especially since the days are growing short (no, really…have you seen how dark it gets by 4:45pm?) and time is running faster than humanly possible.

Each image has a clickable link to take you to these items, where I guarantee you will find other beautiful and functional goods to drool over. Enjoy your time with a cup of tea or coffee and a warm fire blazing at your feet!

So Cal Sun for Those Who Live in the PNW | Travel Documentary Photography

Every fall we head south, much like those Canada Geese (except I still see them all over Portland: silly birds)! Not only do we all crave a bit more sun and warm water splashing on our legs, but our dear friends top the list of reasons to visit.

Friends who have grown up together even though they are now 1000 miles apart. Friends who we call family and my daughter so lovingly says, “cousins, but not really” when people ask about our travels.

This year was no exception to the joy and light which we all needed.

There was time for quiet reflection, romping and falling in the waves, collecting mounds of seaweed to toss at your unsuspecting friends, and so much laughter. Oh, and yes, I got my treat with a stunning late color show at sunset!

Thank you for stopping by. I know I’ve been quiet and social media has taken a backseat for me, but I am back and since you’re here, head over to my awesome friend, Margaret Albaugh (who kicks butt in Spokane, WA) and see her fabulous work!

London & Ireland Summer Adventure | Family Documentary Travel

Are you that type of person who doesn't plan anything? Then all of a sudden you get an itch to DO something? Ya, that's me. My husband, Nate, and I decided we would meet up with friends in London and then travel to Ireland. The last time I visited both countries was 21 years ago! After that much time, nothing looks familiar. 

We took in a show, ate some amazing Indian and Peruvian foods, walked and walked and walked, visited Buckingham Palace and The Tower of London (with a small group private tour-so many insights that you wouldn't otherwise gather on your own), a cathedral where we overlooked the immensity of the city, both old and modern. Thrift shopping was a throwback to the 70s and 80s, with lots of mostly fake fur! Oh, and sitting being bored. That happened a lot.

After our fond farewells to friends, we boarded a plane to Cork, Ireland. We rented a car and thankfully, from the urging of the rental company, got full insurance. If you drive in Ireland, do it. You'll thank me later. The roads...dear God, the roads. Country lanes, more like it, with shrubbery pruned back so as to not entirely puncture your car as you are run off the road by oncoming traffic. I have never felt so terrified being in the passenger seat!

From Cork, we arrived in a fishing town named Dingle. It was absolutely adorable with brightly colored buildings, pubs, and tons of artisan shops. We drove the Dingle Peninsula, petting and feeding sheep and goats, exploring ruins from 1000 A.D., and embracing the wild Atlantic. We ate at local pubs, shopped at a tiny ceramics store and then ventured back to our B&B for a pint of Guinness while the kids watched the iPad. Yay for adult time!

We ended up spending a fair amount of time in the car, but it was beautiful as we traveled north to Doolin. This town is near the Cliffs of Moher, which we hiked for 4.5 miles, traversing mud and treacherous drop-offs. Then it started raining: we were soaked by the end, but it was worth it.

A 3.5 hour train ride to Dublin was next on our travel plans. We saw some rad street art, heard true Irish folksongs, ate at the oldest pub in Temple Bar, and watched kids playing football in the streets. Drunken revelry was high on Sunday when we arrived after Limerick played Cork in a hurling competition (which we sadly missed). We all got a kick out of the fans wearing their teams colors and talking smack.

I know I showed more than my sanctioned 5 images for this months post, but sometimes you gotta break the damn rules! But, please use your fingers to click on over to Kelly Tuohey, an awesome family photographer, to read about the last and best days of summer!

Hello, Rhiannon Dagmar | Portland Birth Story Photographer

Rhi wasn't anxious to be born. She was comfortable hanging out in the subtle rhythm of her mama's movements and sounds. Maybe it was the pull of the tide or the gentle words from both her parents that guided her into this world; but her entrance was powerful and joyous.

Throughout Talia's pregnancy, she soaked in all the information from books, classes, friends and family, and of course her care providers. Her dedication to being prepared and fueled with knowledge was such a benefit because she understood how little control nature gives women. We make plans and then watch them trampled, not necessarily due to complications, but because we have a vision that was too broad, too grand, and maybe unrealistic.

Birth is fierce. 

A gentle touch, reassuring words, and the allowance of moving through each second with the knowledge that emotions are exactly where they should be. Fear and pain, elation, confusion, understanding and compassion fill the room. Each witness to labor and birth finding their breath and releasing it, to join in the tremendous work of a mother.

Those plans, you know, the ones you lay out carefully, even if they are few on the paper can be swept away when your body tells you otherwise. Talia was so strong throughout the entire labor. I arrived to her in child's position, breathing and sounding her discomfort. I witnessed the  rise and fall of contractions, built upon one another in such rapid succession that she wasn't able to catch a moment to relax. She wasn't in transition, but her body was responding as such.

It's okay to change your plans. 

Her body and soul needed a break. We sat with her as she decided on an epidural and encouraged her to do what she felt her body and baby needed. A space free of judgement. And wow, what a change once the epidural kicked in! A calm and even laughing mom returned; able to continue and feel human.

Over the next few hours, everyone tried to sleep, but rest was the best we could do. I walked the hallways, watching screens, listening to beeps and the movement of staff in and out of rooms where babies were no doubt being born. I returned to the room to see the glow of phones as a distraction for the passing hours.

I watched the rise and fall of contractions on Talia's monitor. A drop in Rhi's heart rate brought the attending nurse into the room, lights back on, adjusting Talia to see if that would help. It was a tense few minutes where wide-eyed looks swept the room; breathing slowed, the air felt heavier, but with the skilled hands of the nursing staff, Rhiannon's swiftly beating heart returned. 

The glorious moment the doctor arrived was at hand. A verbal check in, some laughter, and the excitement of pushing was on the horizon. 

A mother's love...

Being present at birth is beyond measure. The beauty and strength, the ripples of emotion, breathing and holding on bring to head the immensity of this moment. I am so thankful to be trusted to witness and document such an intimate event. 

It has been nearly seven weeks since Rhi's birth. She's grown so much in both body and mind. Her parents are rockstars, even when they don't know what the hell is going on. 

I want all the birth stories! If you have one to share or know of someone who is pregnant and wanting their story told, send them over. What a thrill to look back and see your own birth through another's eyes.

With gratitude to all, 

Amy