life lately katie

It’s been awhile since I used this space to do a little life update. To fill the space in between the lines, to ramble randomly, to give a peek into my every day life. So this is what current life is looking like:

Reading: I just finished the delightful book, Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple in two days. It was charming, witty, laugh out loud funny and touching at the same time. Highly recommend it. 

where'd you go bernadette

Watching: We watched “About Time” this weekend and loved it. A cute rom com about a time traveler who want to perfect his relationships, both romantic and family. It reminds us all to slow things down a bit and appreciate the beauty of every day. You don’t get any repeats in real life.

Wanting: It to be Spring with warmer temps. To throw my boots in the very back of my closet to not be seen again until next October. For Ryan’s semester to be over. The past two weeks have been really hard on him and subsequently us. He has one more month of this semester left then he’s off school all summer! Freedom! I get my husband back full-time!

ryan tuac

Thinking: When will I ever learn to live in the present? (see above) I’m always pushing for the next season, the next event, to fast forward to the future, but to quote About Time, “We’re all traveling through time together, every day of our lives. All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable ride.” Plus, I’m 31 now. 31! I was okay with 30 – it was still a transition age. Now 31 sounds like I need to be more settled, more comfortable with the here and now. Will that day ever come?

Needing: To go grocery shopping. It rained ALL weekend. Sunday was non stop pouring complete with flooding. I had zero desire to leave the house and run errands.

Smelling: Spring. It makes an appearance some days but then hides away and the 30 degree temps creep back in. But when it’s here, I can smell things growing and warming up.

Loving: All the celebrations we were able to fit in for Ryan and I’s birthdays this past week. Between dinners out with friends, family, and also just the two of us we really lived it up this past week. We had our final celebration on Saturday night with a dinner out with both of our parents. It’s rare that both of our families get all together.

katie and ryan birthday

Cooking: Spaghetti Squash everything. Pad Thai, Vegetarian Pesto, Mac and Cheese, I never considered all the uses for Spaghetti Squash! It’s so filling too.

Listening: A whole lotta pop. Don’t judge. I need something to cheer me up from this glummy winter we are STILL experiencing. Hopefully Katy, and Demi, and Taylor will carry me into Spring.

Planning For: My best friends bridal shower which is a month away! Other than the date and venue, it’s all a surprise for her. I can’t wait!

I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to lately! Let me know below!

xoxo Katie

Top 10 Attractions in Annapolis, MD


Annapolis, MD, the sailing capital of the world, is one of my favorite cities and top five east destinations. I lived here for 4 years in my twenties and go back to visit a couple of times a year. Maryland’s State Capital is full of history, charm, and beautiful waterfront views.

Situated on the Chesapeake Bay and at the mouth of the Severn River, Annapolis is a mecca for waterfront activities. It is also ideally located 25 miles south of Baltimore and 30 miles North of Washington DC. It’s a walkable small city with an eclectic mix of traditional seafood restaurants (crab cakes anyone?!) and new fusion eateries. Nautical prep your thing? Then you’ll love all the shops and boutiques. Love history? The historic district is a goldmine of colonial architecture, historical buildings, and history tour.  Annapolis is a perfect fit for both young people and families. There’s enough of a night life to satisfy the younger crowd and accommodating activities for those with kids or older family members.

I pulled together a list of my top ten favorite attractions in Annapolis:


(please note this is for the historic downtown area – there is much more to do outside the historic area and in the surrounding region. All of these spots are in walking distance from each other)

1. Tour the State House

maryland state house

The Maryland State house (1779) is the oldest state house that has been in continuous use and was the site of many important events during the Revolutionary War including George Washington’s resignation as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from the army, and the ratification of the Treaty of Paris.

2. Mexican Cafe

mexican cafe annapolis md

I know, odd that a Mexican Restaurant is my number 2 but believe me, go! Low key, budget friendly, great vegetarian options, and the best margaritas you will ever have.

3. Pusser’s

pussers annapolis md

Come for their famous Painkiller’s – the perfect water front drink. Stay for the Caribbean food, nautical history and the laid back atmosphere. The only true “dock bar” in town.

4. Go on a Guided Historic Tour

photo courtesy of Annapolis Tours

The best way to learn all the fun facts about this old town is to take a guided walking tour. Various ones are offered, including ghost tours!

5. Joss Sushi

joss sushi

The best sushi in town. Charming atmosphere and great service.

6. Tour the Naval Academy

navy academy chapel

Very interesting for even non military buffs! Highlights include the USNA Chapel and John Paul Jones gravesite.

7. Chart House

annapolis water view

Yes, it’s a chain, but the views from this location are fabulous. Yes, the food is pricey, but the best seats are in the cozy bar with wall to wall windows. Stop in for an appetizer and a cocktail. Located across the waterfront in Eastport, it’s a nice walk across the bridge.

8. Red Red Wine Bar

Great selection of wine and beer, delectable cocktails, talented bar tenders and a chic setting.

9. Harry Brownes

A classy art deco themed restaurant and bar. Great Sunday brunch!

10. See Annapolis by water! Take a boat tour!

Annapolis boat ride

You are in the sailing capital of the world – get out on the water!

Have you been? What are your favorites?

If you have any questions, just comment below!

xoxo Katie

31 Lessons I Learned In 31 Years

31 lessons learned in 31 years katie a beautiful little adventure

Today I turn 31 and like any good writer I’m sitting here reflecting on my last year. This is the year I got married, starting to feel a little physically older, and grew more comfortable with myself – body and mind. I thought I’d share a fun little list of 31 things I’ve learned in my 31 years.

31 Lessons in 31 Years

1. Don’t make assumptions. You rarely know the full story.

2.  Befriend your parents. It’s a once in a lifetime relationship and a friendship that will teach you the most.

3. Success is always in the eye of the beholder.

4. Take time for you. It’s not a selfish behavour. Take care of yourself and your happiness.

5. The cheaper the wine the worse the headache.

6. It’s okay to make mistakes. At least you’re doing something – like learning.

7. A dog can heal your soul.

8. Pause. You don’t have to make a decision immediately.

9. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else is.

10. A nap can fix a great number of things.

11. I’m not a career woman. My job doesn’t define me and never will.

12. Never say never.

13. Not everyone has to like you. Stop trying to please them and stop apologizing for what makes you happy.

14. Style has nothing to do with fashion.

15. Love is all around.

16. Be present. Listen with 100% of your body.

17. Family is everything.

18. Sometimes you just have to know when to say, “I give up” and pour yourself a drink. It’s okay.

19. Forgiveness is both the most hardest but most rewarding thing.

20. You have to create your own happiness.

21. 99% of people aren’t paying any attention to you.

22. Expensive shoes and accessories are worth it.

23. Never miss a chance to say “I Love You”.

24. Nourish and feed your body well. It’s a vessel not a trash can.

25. Truly focus on the select few things that you are good at.

26.  Respond to phone calls, letters,  texts, and emails. Even if there is no question, if someone reached out to you, respond.

27. You don’t have to look amazing at all times. Relax.

28. Use your voice. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.

29. Don’t compare, there is always someone smarter, richer, prettier, and “happier” but there is no one else just like you.

30. No one ever has it figured all out, but each day is a fresh start at trying your best.

31. When you have the oppurtunity to dance, dance. Even if you look stupid, you’ll always have more fun than if you stayed in the corner.

Now eat an ice cream sundae and toast with some champagne with me. Cheers!

katie birthday margarita lake side

xoxo Katie





Birthday Celebration in Annapolis

My husband, Ryan and I, have the unique fortune of having birthdays only days apart. He turned 29 on Friday while I turn 31 on Wednesday and you can bet we spent this weekend celebrating. We spent the weekend living it up in one of my favorite cities, Annapolis!

birthday fun in annapolis

A while back we decided to book a weekend getaway for our birthdays – something to look forward to during the long and bitter winter. Annapolis, MD was an easy choice. I lived in Annapolis from ages 22-26 and still feel like I’m at home when visiting. I took Ryan when we first started dating and he fell in love with the quaint town as well. We try to make a trip down a few times a year.

What’s great about going to the same town over and over? Since you’ve already seen it all, you can have no agenda and have fun just taking in all the sights, people watching, and enjoying all of your favorite hot spots.

This weekend we stayed in the charming Robert Johnson House (part of the Historic Inns of Annapolis).

Robert Johnson House Annapolis Lodging

The Inn dates back to 1773. Our street level room faced out to the Governor’s Mansion lawn and the State House. It was an ideal location and within blocks of all our favorite shops, bars, and restaurants not to mention the waterfront.

We kicked off the weekend at my number one favorite spot in Annapolis – Mexican Cafe!

Mexican Cafe Annapolis Margaritas

This may seem strange to some as it’s not a seafood restaurant or even that unique or trendy of a place, and the food is only so so, but you come for the margaritas! Oh the margaritas! They mix in a little everclear and it’s magic. I use to come here at least once a week – dangerous!

katie at mexican cafe margarita in annapolis

After our lunch we were primed to walk around the historic district. My favorite shop is Paws, a fun pet boutique. Fact: this is the only store that I buy Maggie’s collars from.

Paws dog and cat pet boutique annapolis md

The owners are so friendly and welcoming. You can tell just how passionate they are about dogs and cats. After stocking up on some collars we spent the next 2 hours milling about town, aweing at the architecture and gorgeous historical homes, people watching, and window shopping.

main street downtown annapolis

city dock annapolis

maryland state house

Next we headed into Chart House to share some Blue Crab Dip and some Manhattans at their waterfront bar. The sun was beginning to set and it was that perfect twilight hour. We were so cozy it was hard for us to leave. But we headed back to the Inn to shower and change for the evening.

katie waterfront annapolis md

katie and ryan annapolis md

sunset in annapolis chesapeake bay We spent the night bar hopping to other favorites. At the newer, Red Red Wine Bar we ran into a bachelorette party that invited us to partake in their bachelorette party card game (think a card deck with each card instructing you to do different activities like “pinch a guys butt” or “sing a song”) I never turn down a chance to play a game! We had a blast with the girls and a few other people we met at the bar. What always marvels me is the friendliness of the people we meet here. In our hometown it feels like everyone is set in their ways and not keen on meeting new friends, almost like they’re adverse to anyone new. We were having a blast and pretty soon it was past midnight.

katie and ryan birthday in annapolis Never one to want the night to end, I insisted we head over to Level for one last drink….and then I wanted to follow that up with pizza…apparently I was trying to convince myself I was still 21 and not turning 31.


Sunday was complete with a nice brunch followed by a long chat sitting on a bench facing the water. I couldn’t think of a better way to welcome growing older.

city dock view annapolis md

It was hard going back to work – but I have more birthday fun to look forward to this week. Yay for weeklong celebrations!

Never been to Annapolis? On Thursday I’ll be back sharing my Top Ten Attractions in Annapolis, Md! 

xoxo Katie


Birthday Letter to my Husband


Today is my handsome husband’s birthday. We’re celebrating 29 years of him being present in this world. Isn’t fun that our birthdays are days apart so we can always celebrate together? PS. I still stumble over myself when I use the words “my husband.”. Weird and lovely. On to the celebration:

Dear Ryan,

Each day you inspire me. You wake up and conquer each day with a strong will and determination. I am so grateful for all of the hours, hard work,and sleepless nights you endure for us and our future. Respect and commitment are two actions you live by and I commend that.

You love me far better than I deserve to be loved. Thank you for always finding a way to make me smile.


Thank you for putting up with me when I’m cranky and tired. Thank you for knowing when I need to take a breather. Thank you for letting me control the remote and radio far more than you get to. Thank you for kissing me goodnight and good morning every day, even when I’m fast asleep.


Thank you for always cleaning the bathroom and kitchens, always. Thank you for always being game for something new, no matter how silly it seems. Thank you for acting like a huge nerd with me and being my best friend. Thank you for motivating me when I want to desperately give up. Thank you for encouraging me to be me.

Every day I stumble upon a new way to love you. Growing with you is the greatest adventure I can imagine.

happy birthday husband

I can’t wait to celebrate many many more birthdays with you.

All of my love for all of my life,





You are loved more than you know

Easy Tips to Improve Your Photos for Instant Sharing (part 2)

Today I am over the moon excited to introduce you to a fellow blogger Christina. Her blog Route Bliss is an impressive showcase of her talented photography, writing, and sweet tips on travel and healthy living. Today she is taking over A Beautiful Little Adventure and sharing some intro photography tips – teaching us all simply ways to make our photos ready to share on social media. Take it away Christina:

Hello everyone 🙂 I’m Christina I blog about travel, photography, and healthy living over at Route Bliss. Katie asked me last month if I would be interested in guest blogging, and with all that was going on at the time, I kinda dropped the ball (oops! Sorry again Katie!). So, to make up for it, I brainstormed for something to share with all of you over here at A Beautiful Little Adventure.

I actually came up with a longer list of tips to share, so I’ve split them up — the first half I blogged recently over at Route Bliss (click here) — and today I’m sharing the other half …

Okay, so you have a blog … or an Instagram/Twitter/Facebook profile you want to share images on.

Your only camera may be the one built into your phone.

You might want the images to be “pinworthy” too … but you’re limited on ways to make the images look better (i.e. lack Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) …

So what can you do to make them better without expensive software? There’s two tricks that you can use that don’t require an app on your phone or fancy editing.

#1: Light

Photography is all about light — let in too little light and you can’t tell what you took a photo of, unless its of the stars on a moonless night with a long exposure, and too much light probably means you have an image that has little detail to it because its washed out.

You don’t even need an app to improve the light in your images … just a few tricks and techniques!

Here’s a few scenarios:

Scenario: Let’s say you’re out with friends/family and want to take some selfies or photos of everyone else. Its a bright sunny day, perfect weather for photo-taking, but don’t want the image washed out from the bright sun or everyone in silhouette because you put them in the wrong spot.

Solution:  Find an open shade under some trees, an awning on a building, in the shadow of a building to place everyone (and/or yourself) … essentially, a place where everyone is not staring squinty-eyed at you because you have them staring into the sun. If that’s not an option (perhaps you’re posing in front of a landmark), just make sure that the sun is at their (or your) back. Here’s a couple of examples …

lighting example - cowboy on horseback at the Fort Worth Stockyards by Christina McCall

You can see the sunlight on his beard, but thanks to the cowboy hat, the rest of his face isn’t washed out.

And if you can’t find open shade, do what I did in this image and find an object to block the sun as much as possible, simultaneously creating some sun flare 🙂

lighting example - teepee near Cortez, Colorado by Christina McCall

Scenario: You’re at home and you want to take a photo of something (food, a new outfit, your kids or pets, etc). If you’re like me and you work all day, odds are the only time you have to take photos for your blog is in the evening. And then your photos have a yucky yellow cast to them because soft white light bulbs we all have in our homes.

Solution: If possible (especially now that it gets dark later outside), shoot earlier in the day right after you get home from work or during the day on a weekend. Place the item/person you’re photographing near a window — north and south facing windows are best — and take advantage of the natural light instead.

The first image was taken in front of my back door that faces southwest (its a full panel of etched glass which helps diffuse the light a bit) …

lighting example - yellow billyballs by Christina McCall

This one was taken during the morning in my bedroom, which faces northeast — you can tell the light is diffused behind it thanks to white mini blinds and sheer curtains

lighting example - book and coffee mug by Christina McCall

Scenario: Not many windows in your home? At a place where the lighting situation isn’t within your control or favor?

Solution: Create a reflector to bounce what ‘good light’ you can find! You don’t need a fancy photographer one either …  white poster board or a white sheet, t-shirt, or a towel will work, as well as mirrors and tin foil, which also make awesome light reflectors. Have a white wall in your home or see one where you’re at that’s near a window? Use it, even if its cloudy out! Clouds are a diffuser of light too 🙂

While I used the same idea of using an object to block the sun as mentioned above, I took advantage of my client wearing a white tee to bounce light back onto her black lab (which are hard to photograph tonally btw).

lighting example - girl and her dog by Christina McCall

White, as well as silver and gold reflective surfaces, bounces light! White provides a neutral tone to your image, silver will create a cooler tone, and gold will warm up the image (which makes it great for dreary days).

#2: Composition

What can take an okay image to fabulous? Its composition … here’s a few ways to improve an average setting or portrait:

Rule of Thirds is easily explained as dividing your image into thirds (horizontally and vertically) and then placing the object off center to draw attention to where you want the focus. If you were to shoot a landscape like the one below, for example with the horizon and the VW bus at the center of the image, it would be a bit boring. Placing the horizon at the bottom or top third and placing the bus on the ‘center point’ of the right line and the bottom line draws your attention to the bus as well as the view off in the distance.

composition example - VW Bus by the Rio Grande River near Taos, NM by Christina McCall

Leading Lines are great for drawing a viewer’s attention to something in the image — a person, an object, or just a general direction. For instance, in this image from the Clinton Presidential Library, there’s nothing at the other end of that I’m focused on, but the lines draw your attention to the people down below as well as the continuous emblems visible in the columns.

composition example - Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, Arkansas by Christina McCall

In this image at the Rio Grande Gorge, I used the bridge to direct attention to the mountains in the distance. While I broke the Rule of Thirds by not waiting until my brother was closer to a ‘center point’, his presence helps provide scale to the scene.

composition example - Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos, NM by Christina McCall

Try another perspective — get down low, find some place you can climb/step up to shoot downward. Photographing someone shorter? Kneel/squat down to shoot them at their eye level. Here’s a few examples from some of my past pet portrait sessions …

perspective example - eye level with canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - on the ground with canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - shooting downward at canine by Christina McCall

perspective example - shooting downward at canine by Christina McCall

Questions, want more tips, or is there something you’d like to know more about photography-wise? Leave a comment below, tweet me, or drop by my blog to view my how-to archives!

Thanks Katie for hosting me … and Maggie, please don’t be upset with your mom that I posted other dogs’ photos on her blog!

Christina – Maggie is just fine with that – as long as she gets to model for you sometime in the future! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and tips! – Katie