24 Jul

Hardly Sweetened

Posted by Jenna, Under blog, Work

When I created Pinterest Fail back in 2012 I had no idea that it would be what it is today, but I am really enjoying the experience I’m gaining from running it. So much so that I decided to try my hand at starting another “niche site.”

And of course, as an ex-Mormon, what else could I do but start a site devoted entirely to cocktails? Ha! I’ve really enjoyed exploring the word of alcohol for the last 18 months, but have felt frustrated that so many mixed drinks rely heavily on sugar. Every time I want to mix up something I have to sort through 15-20 options, wondering whether the drink would be just as good with a reduction in the sweetener, before I find something with ingredients I have on hand.

Hardly Sweetened, low-sugar cocktails

Enter Hardly Sweetened. It’s a site devoted to showcasing low-sugar cocktails, and also a place for me to share what I’m learning about infusions, mixers, terms related to alcohol drinks (what’s it mean if my drink is straight up?), and classic cocktail recipes. If you’ve been hesitant to try your hand at mixing up cocktails at home, I hope that this site can act as a guide for you. And if you’re a mixologist extraordinaire maybe you have a favorite hardly-sweet cocktail recipe that you think I should try?

Hardly Sweetened, a cocktail blog filled with recipes low in sugar - like this kaffir lime vodka, cucumber, Perrier lime mix that's perfect for a summer afternoon


Click here to visit Hardly Sweetened

I’ve been putting a lot of work into the site in anticipation of the BlogHer conference this weekend and I would really appreciate your support as I try to build an audience for the site. Pin the recipes that interest you (click through to the actual posts to see the Pinterest-friendly image concept I designed!). Follow the @hardlysweetened Twitter account, check out the @hardlysweetened Instagram feed to see what drinks I’m working on before they go up on the site, submit your favorite hardly sweetened recipes via the contact form, and most of all, click over regularly to see what’s new!

I’ll be working hard on this for the next few months, which sometimes means hardly working since part of the job description means creating and sampling new cocktails for the site. I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

I admit, I’m nervous. Putting yourself out there and trying new things is hard! If you try any of my recipes (most on the site so far are recipes I made up myself!) I’d love to hear what you think about them. I don’t want my own content ending up on Pinterest Fail!

16 Jul

NYIP Tutorial on Spot Metering

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

My photography tutorial on spot metering is up at NYIP. Click here to read it, or on the photo below.

Spot meter for better portraits

All of my photography tutorials can be found on my Photography page.

14 Jul

Womanhood Beyond Motherhood

Posted by Jenna, Under Photography

Six months ago I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. T1 was in the throes of his thrust to childhood independence, T2 was moving out of her “multiple-naps-a-day immobile lump of baby goodness” stage, and TH was staffed on a new case that had him working every single day. I was trying to do all the things, per my usual modus operandi, and I needed more help as I swam through the long days of solo parenting. I went to therapy, got rid of obligations I was holding myself to that didn’t matter as much as I thought they did, and found a family to watch T2 for three days a week so I could work without one ear to the nursery room door waiting for the baby to start crying.

There are many reasons why this period of time was so difficult for me. One of them was that I was feeling entirely consumed by the act of mothering. It not only took up the majority of my mental energy and time spent at home, but when I went out with other adults we seemed to spend all of our time talking about my kids or theirs. Even if the kids weren’t around! It’s wonderful to brag, necessary to collaborate, crucial to have an outlet, but I couldn’t stop thinking “We are so much more than our kids.” I’ve often heard of people talking about older women who have Empty Nest Syndrome, but I can’t think of a time that label has ever been applied exclusively to a man (maybe to the parents as a unit, but never the man on his own.)

Womanhood Beyond Motherhood - mothers representing what fulfills them.

I wanted to explore this idea more, and so I decided to launch a portrait project called Womanhood Beyond Motherhood. I photograph mothers in the setting of their choice, aiming to capture who they are at this stage in their lives. Afterward I send them a list of questions asking things like why the location of their photo is meaningful to them, what fulfills them, and few other prompts to better get at who they are. The site has 17 portraits so far, including a selfie that I took in my office where I am sitting and typing this post.

My favorite image so far is of my grandmother, my mother’s mother. She’s 74 years old and hauled herself up on that fence like someone 40 years her junior. Last week we were in Washington for a family reunion and I watched my grandmother make breakfast for 40 people, clean it all up, and then head out back to use a chain to pull a calf out of a laboring cow. Magnificent! I am in awe of her strength and determination. Read more →

12 Jul

Bring Samantha Kelly Photography to the Bay Area

Posted by Jenna, Under Uncategorized

Are you in the Bay Area? Looking for an all-film photographer who does colorful and bright lifestyle sessions with a natural feel to them? Maybe you don’t want to hire Jenna Cole because I don’t do all-film yet  :) (I did my first paid film/digital blend session and loved it! I’ll put my favorites up on the Jenna Cole blog after my site gets a makeover.)

If you’ve been searching for an all-film lifestyle photographer in the Bay Area but haven’t found the perfect fit, maybe you’d like to join me in bringing Samantha Kelly out here? She’s offering travel sessions for $750, which includes time spent shooting and all edited image files. That’s a fantastic price for a session done entirely on film with a photographer with her skill set, and I think it’s a one-time-deal because odds are high that her client base is going to explode and she isn’t going to be in portfolio-building mode anymore.


I met Samantha Kelly at Yan Fam Way and adored her instantly. I’m really hoping someone who sees this post will want to hire her as well so she will come to the Bay Area to do some sessions for us! When I contacted her she said she would need at least one session in addition to the one with my family in order to make the trip. Any takers?


11 Jul

Meet Me at BlogHer 2014

Posted by Jenna, Under Uncategorized


BlogHer 2014 is fifteen minutes from my house, and I’m keeping my eye on the Ticket Swap page for a great deal on conference passes. I really enjoyed my experience at BlogHerPro and I feel like my “blogging as a career” plans are picking up steam. I’m about to announce/launch a few different projects (details soon, I promise!) and I’m going to use the BlogHer experience to try to develop some partnerships with sponsors and network with other bloggers who are trying to do the same thing I am.

I’ve never been to a big conference like this and I’m trying to prepare myself. I’m such a newb that I didn’t even bring business cards to BlogHerPro. I haven’t lined up babysitting yet, so I’m not quite sure how much of the conference and festivities I’ll be able to attend. I want to meet up with people who are going! Where will you be and what are you looking forward to most?

      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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