Our California vacation was based around our nephew’s wedding. The family flew to Orange County from all over the east coast. New York. Ohio. Georgia.

We rented a nice VRBO property in Anaheim that housed 12 of us comfortably. It had 7 rooms and it had four bathrooms. It had an awesome gazebo for us to hang out in the mornings and the evenings, a pool and a hot tub that got used everyday!

The wedding was beautiful and the weather was perfect.

We went on a few side trips. I keep a yelp list of places and restaurants that I want to go to. I keep checking the list off. One day was the Griffith Observatory, which is a place I’ve wanted to see. We also we to LA so my parents could see the sights.

I went hiking with some of the family on the afternoon of the wedding to Peters Canyon. Beautiful! It always feels good to move and push yourself physically.

One of the highlights was El Matador Beach. The views were amazing with the cliffs and rock formations! Unreal! The bad part of that day was the traffic back home because of the time of day. Travel time was basically doubled. Wow!

But this view will always be such a beautiful memory!

My nephew Noah took these photos my me and my parents.

We stopped at a few other places like Newport Beach and Crystal Cove. This trip was all about family.

Where will I go next?! Only time will tell BUT Italy is still number one on my list.


I can’t believe it has been just over a week since we have returned from an amazing vacation to Barcelona and Lisboa! You count down the many months, weeks and days and then once you have arrived it goes so fast.

I’m starting with Lisbon even though we went there after Barcelona but I have all those photos edited so here you go.

It was an amazing week spent with great friends. I love to travel. To see parts of the world that have such a rich history. Where the lifestyle is completely different from ours. I should take one of those DNA tests because I feel like I am 100% European. I love the way European’s experience life. Walking everywhere or taking the train (their systems are so much better than ours…at least Atlanta’s) Shopping at markets and carrying your bread and fresh flowers home. 💛🌻🌷💕

We stayed at a beautiful apartment which was located across from the Praça da Figueira. A big square that has an outdoor market called Mercado Da Baixa which has been in existence since 1855.

These are photos around Lisboa.

I fell in love with the tiles on the buildings and the sidewalks are also beautiful. Gorgeous! We met our friend Débora’s parents and they told us about an authentic tiles shop called Sant’anna. We of course took their recommendation and bought a tile or two to take home with us for a constant reminder of the beauty that is Lisbon.

The food!

We had great dining experiences. The highlight was Bairro Avillez’s Pateo restaurant. We sat at what I call the Chef’s Table. It was in front of the window where we could experience the activity in the kitchen. The chef’s working each station. The Head Chef calling out the orders as they came in and the communication between them. The food coming to the pass. The tasting to make sure it was good enough to serve. The plating! Wow! I was in heaven. We met Chef Adriano who was very gracious to take a moment from the busyness of the kitchen to take a photo with us! The food was amazing. I had the Sea Bass and the desserts he recommended were out of this world!

Other foodie highlights were Forno d’ Oro and Time Out Market.

Of course you can’t go to Lisboa and not try Pastel de Nata or pastéis de nata (plural) because you can’t have just one! We went to Manteigaria and Pastéis de Belem. My new favorite! I really need to learn how to make them. It is a custard tart. I can make creme brûlée so I think I could do that part but it is all about the crust! Buttery and flaky layers of thin dough. And coffee, my order was a Cortado) and pastéis…yes please!

And finally, Jeronimos Monastery, Sintra, Pena Palace and Cascais.

The colors. The history. The beauty.

Cabo da Roca is the most westernmost point in Europe mainland and we were there on a beautiful day with sunny blue skies.

Lisbon is colorful and just beautiful! If it isn’t on your travel bucket list, it  should be…and go with friends who love travel, culture and food as much as you do.

Notre-Dame Cathedral and Sacré-Cœur

I was looking through the photos on my phone the other day and came across this one of Notre-Dame. It is one of Bernie's favorite spots in Paris. I was reminded of the time we spent touring around Paris a few years ago.


One of my favorites to photograph the first time we went to Paris was the Sacré-Cœur. The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. 


Great memories. Can't wait for our next adventure. :)


All photos were taken by me, laurajdake

Happy Birthday to me!

I celebrated a BIG birthday last week. Bernie and I spent it in Biloxi and NOLA. Here is our trip through my lens.

Biloxi, MS | Back Bay of Biloxi 

New Orleans, LA | Sites around NOLA

Food around NOLA. The Famous Cafe Du Monde and a really cool restaurant called Meauxbar in Vieux Carré. I had scallops with a squash gratin. Yum! Is was a great birthday dinner! 

Art | Cafe Du Monde and Armstrong Park

Roadtrip Landscapes

Here is some of the beauty I saw on our way to Ohio and during our vacation there.

Seeing beauty

I was in Augusta GA this weekend to photograph a retirement and do some filming for work. To say I wasn't looking forward to it was an understatement. I wanted my weekend for me. To do what I wanted.  

I arrived Saturday afternoon with a few hours to relax before I had to go to the venue for dinner and the retirement program. When I got to my hotel room I opened the door and it was a corner room. One set of windows overlooked the front of the hotel and other side overlooked a beautiful riverwalk. The sun was shining, the air was warm and creation was gorgeous. I didn't come prepared with my Nike running shoes or workout gear but I could not just sit inside and not enjoy the day God created for me. 

I needed this time to clear my head. I couldn't change my circumstances but I had to make the most of it. Something good was going to reveal itself.

I worshiped at The Salvation Army Augusta KROC Center. Major Vick gave a beautiful testimony. It touched my heart. She used the first two verses from Romans 12.

So here's what I want you to do. God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Later Major Street brought the message. He spoke from Revelation 3.  He said, "God has called us to be authentic."

What does God want from you? He wants you be AUTHENTIC.  


Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake

Photo Credit: lauradake