Hiking the Great Smoky Mountains

Hey there, readers! I know it has been almost a month since my last post on the blog… I have been incredibly preoccupied with wedding planning, traveling, and finishing up a class for graduate school. Thanks for being patient with me!

For my birthday (which was Feb. 26), David and I took a mini road trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee! Why Gatlinburg? Well, this may sound silly, but I have always wanted to visit the city after hearing a song by Jason Aldean. He briefly mentions the city and how he heard it was “pretty.” That was all I needed to know it was somewhere I wanted to be! I figured this song would make a good song of the week, too. So enjoy “This I Gotta See” by Jason Aldean below!

Boy was Jason Aldean right! Gatlinburg is absolutely stunning. We chose a relatively warm weekend during the off season, so it wasn’t nearly as crowded as I am sure it can be in the summer months. One thing I wanted to do, for myself, was to hike part of the Appalachian trail. When I, hopefully, heal and am comfortable with long distance hikes, David and I are going to hike the entire trail together from start to finish.

With a leg that isn’t fully healed and requires frequent breaks when hiking, 4 miles of the trail had to suffice (8 miles there and back). We chose to hike to Charlie’s Bunion which offers panoramic views of the North Carolina and Tennessee state lines. It is truly breathtaking. I contemplated if taking pictures was something I wanted to do… but I decided that I deserved to document an amazing feat for myself.

In 20 days, it will be a full year since the day of my surgery. Hiking part of the Appalachian trail was the best birthday present a girl could ask for. I am so grateful to be alive and to have had an opportunity to see such an incredible view of the Great Smoky Mountains. It will forever be a memory burned into my brain. Not to mention, I was able to share the memory with my best friend and almost husband.

Below are some photos that David and I took during our hike. I want to thank David for being an AMAZING support system while hiking that trail. He was such a good sport. The hike was strenuous and he never made me feel like I was slowing him down or being a burden to him. Every step of the way he guided me and cheered me on. What more can you ask for in a partner for life? I am so blessed.

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Happy Anniversary to Faithful Elephant!

Three cheers for this blog! Three cheers for THREE years! Three cheers for doing something I love! Hip Hip Hooray! Today is all about the number THREE, in case you couldn’t tell. 😉

Three years ago, I started a blog called Faithful Elephant and never looked back. It has been quite a journey and so much has changed since that very first post. Followers who followed me since the beginning… THANK YOU! Followers who recently stumbled upon me in someway… THANK YOU! I am grateful to each and every one of you who read (and now listen) to things I have to say. Without you all, I would not be inspired to continue this journey.

One thing I have learned as a blogger is that we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. We have to be ready for people to have negative opinions on what we say on a regular basis. Not every person will be a fan of our writing, style, or thoughts. Like any writer, we must do it for ourselves. Sure, we can give the readers what they want from time to time, but we must NEVER lose sight of what we want or why we do what we do.

For me, this blog is an outlet, a passion, a time to be creative, an opportunity to share what I love, and most of all, something to call my own. I may have a long way to go with Faithful Elephant, and I certainly do not have all the means to get it where I want it to be right now, but it is still my baby. I will treasure this blog for a lifetime.

I decided since it was Monday and I am unfortunately suffering from a case of the Monday Blues… I would share some photos that were taken last week during the Blizzard! Although it was cold, David and I were stuck indoors, and we cheated (A LOT) on our diets, we had a blast experiencing 30 inches of snow together. It was also Koa Bear’s first snow, so you can imagine how much fun we had laughing at his first impressions.

Again, I want to thank you all for following Faithful Elephant. I hope you continue to read and listen to my thoughts as time goes on. You are all amazing! Happy Monday and Happy Three Year Anniversary to my baby… FaithfulElephant.com!

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12 Days of Christmas – Day Seven

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Weeee! I am so excited about today’s prompt! We are to share a Christmas photo (or photos) from the past or present. You all know how much I LOVE photos/photo sharing. It has been a while since I posted one of my “My Month Through Photos” blogs, but it is something I plan to get back into at the start of 2016.

For now, I will share with you all some of my favorite photos from Christmas celebrations in the past! I will definitely share some Christmas photos and videos from this Christmas, too. That will not be until next week,though. Most likely next Sunday once all the festivities come to an end.

Enjoy some of my photos with family and friends… oh and GO REDSKINS! HTTR!

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Want to join in on the blogging challenge? Click here for the rules to start this challenge by ScaleSimple! 🙂

Holiday Décor

Throughout the week, David and I put up all of our holiday décor! This is our first Christmas living together, so we were VERY excited to share each other’s traditions, while making our own. Most were similar which made it an easy transition for us both.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite décor pieces in our apartment. We learned that the apartment has become incredibly cozy since the addition of the holiday decorations. If only we could keep them year round! No one would judge us… right? Just kidding 😉

Oh, and before I share all of that… Here’s a fun shot of our sweet pup, Koa. ❤ Those puppy lips just bring a smile to my face, lol.

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First for our holiday décor, we have our Christmas tree! We are both Christians and celebrate Christmas, so this was simple for us. We bought a real tree (duh) and it is a balsam fir, six feet tall. Red, green, and gold are our main colors for ornaments, however we have one Redskins and one Eagles ornament to represent our respective football teams. As we grow older and eventually have children, our special ornaments will increase in numbers. For now, we decided to buy one, each, a year. It will be our own tradition.

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Next, we have David’s nutcracker cohort, as I like to call it. This is David’s collection of nutcrackers. We agreed to buy a new nutcracker each Christmas, as well as an ornament. Mine is the sparkly green and silver nutcracker! 🙂

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Now, this may be my favorite décor piece in the apartment right now. David’s mom gave us a mini sleigh and I decided to wrap some of our presents and fill the sleigh with them. David then said it needed something else to bring it all together. We settled on lights on the sides. Such a fun piece, but it really adds holiday spirit to the living room. Plus, it is one of the first things guests are drawn to look at when they enter our place.

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What is a holiday season without Santa? This display was another gift from David’s mom. She has great taste, doesn’t she? We added some lights for a little something extra 🙂

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There is a lot more in our apartment, but these are just some of my favorites. I hope you all have fun decorating your homes this holiday season. Happy Holidays and enjoy the weekend. Here is a song to get you in the holiday spirit while decorating!

Great Falls is Truly Great!

All of my DMV followers will (hopefully) know what I am referring to when I say Great Falls. For those followers not from the DC Metropolitan area, Great Falls Park is a small park in Virginia, near Tyson’s Corner. This park is home to the Great Falls of the Potomac River! I visited this past Saturday and absolutely LOVED the falls. The view is truly breathtaking. A $5 fee is between you and a beautiful sight to see. The park is not just for photography, staring, and embracing nature, though. There are many hiking trails, opportunities for climbing, kayaking, and taking in some history about the river and Patomack Canal.

While visiting, I learned that seven people drown per year in the Potomac River. I was very surprised at that number, actually. I was expecting lower numbers! Stay safe out there, friends. Water is incredibly dangerous. My main purpose for this visit was to enjoy the scenery, take in the fresh air, and, of course, take beautiful photos! Unfortunately, it was frigid on Saturday. I did not take nearly as many photos as I had planned. I did take a few great shots though! Check them out below and enjoy! I forgot to mention this in my SOTW post, but Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

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Night Photography

My photography assignment from last week was night photography. At first this assignment was very frustrating for me. I had to adjust my shutter speed and ISO so often that I was getting annoyed. Finally I found the perfect settings and my photographs turned out a lot better than I anticipated. Below are a few of my favorite shots from this shoot!

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Photographs in the dark with just a small bit of light from a lamp post, car headlights, or a flashlight really turn out awesome! By the end of the shoot I really began to appreciate the assignment.

One word: Color

The wonderful thing about fall (one of many) is all of the beautiful colors. Reds, Yellows, Oranges, Greens, Blue… the list goes on. Lucky enough for me, I chose to enroll in a photography course in the fall semester. All of my pictures are packed with color, which I love! This week’s assignment was… take a guess! COLOR!! 

Over the weekend I assisted my brother and my future sister-in-law as they painted their new house! During a trip to Lowes, I purchased samples of paint so I could play around with the color to take some photos. Here are some of my shots!

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And of course a fun one taken by my mother…

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Now, I wasn’t satisfied with the rest of my photos from the painting extravaganza… so I decided to take more. This time I took photos of the gorgeous Kilgore Falls in Jarrettsville, MD. What better way to capture the essence of Fall than at a waterfall in the woods?

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At the end of the trip… it is safe to say that I was satisfied! Not to mention it was a GORGEOUS day! I hope you enjoyed these photographs. Next week’s assignment is Portraits! Who will be my model? That is the question!

Sunsets, Trees, and Backlighting

I enrolled in a digital photography course this semester and have fell in love. The class is not my favorite, but the assignments are! Each week the class has to take 30-50 photos of something assigned by the professor. For example, this past week was backlighting. I will be posting my favorite photos from each week’s assignment! Please provide feedback. I want to get better! Enjoy.

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