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The Journal

A Nashville photographer's story blog.

Simple Skin Care for Winter Weather

Amy Roberts

When I was a child, dry weather was my enemy. At the touch of the winter wind, the skin on my hands would inflame and my knuckles would crack like the Salt Flats of Utah, bleeding on my school books. My lips would split when I laughed, and my hair would break when I brushed it. By December, my mother was lathering my hands in solid lanolin nightly, sealing them with gloves to keep in the moisture.

Now that I’m older, things have leveled out a bit. Still, I struggle every year, not with coldness, but with the brittle air that creates static cling and breaks my skin to pieces.

I’m not a complex-beauty-routine kind of person, but I have found a few simple - maybe even obvious - tools that help me manage winter skincare, and I hope you’ll share any insights you have, too.

Drink water

This is honestly the one I struggle with the most. I’m terrible at drinking water, but it is so vitally important for overall health and makes a giant difference in how dry your skin looks and feels. 64 oz. or about two liters of water a day is a good place to start. There’s an app I find helpful and very charming called Plant Nanny which gives you pet plants to take care of. In order to keep them healthy, you must log your water intake. And they’re really cute, so you want them to make it!

Find the right chapstick

I am a chapstick fanatic. It’s a truth I’ve come to accept. I didn’t mean to be this way, but when Carmex and Blistex just made my chapped lips worse, I embarked on a years-long search to find a brand that really worked. For me, it turned out to be Vaseline’s Lip Therapy (I like the Creme Brulee flavor best), but take the time to try and find the best product for your skin type. It just elevates your comfort level in winter so much that I’ve found it worth the effort to find the perfect match for me.

PRO TIP: This also works great on a chapped nose!


The thing I’ve found most helpful other than moisturizing is exfoliation. Now obviously you don’t want to go too far here, but about once a week I “dry brush” my face with a face brush (I got mine from Amazon, I think they were these). I also love to use homemade scrubs, and if I ever get the chance for a bath, I’m hitting my hands and feet with everything I’ve got.

I don’t think I’m alone, here! Some of my favorite bloggers have shared their recipes for DIY scrubs (etc), so I thought I’d link the ones I like best below, in case you’re interested:

Siobhan Watts’ Herbal Bath Scrub

Kat Goldin’s Super Magic Cream (they also have a Natural Home + Beauty Kit here)

I’ll keep building this list as time goes by and I discover more products and recipes!

I know this post is super-simple, but I really have found that covering your bases and making sure that 1) you’re hydrated and 2) you’re moisturing and exfoliating properly generally keeps things under control long enough to make it to spring.

Any tips from you to me? I would really love to find more simple-but-effective ideas for surviving brittle winters. Let me know!

Wild + Sweet: Graduate Session with Julia

Amy Roberts

“i think photography is trying to find the poetry in people.”

- Wyn Wiley, Photographer

Just before Christmas, I had the joy of photographing a truly poetic soul. Julia graduated high school a semester early, and the story we told together during her senior portrait session was beautiful. It was layered with story, with deep courage, and with the buzz of final achievement. Julia is bookish and quiet, with a touch of the rebel soul and a healthy dose of hidden depths. It was truly a privilege to work with her.

It’s a real treat to photograph someone in such a transitory season. I love capturing this time of life, when identities are solidifying and we really come into our own. Many thanks to Julia for trusting me with her session.

Interested in some portraits of your own? Contact me and we can chat!

Winter Session: Brandon, Meg, and the Kids

Amy Roberts

It’s December in Tennessee, which means it’s raining.

I pulled up to the house on the end of the street at 9:00am on a Saturday to the chime of barking dogs and a rooster’s crow. I was let into a cozy, circa 1900 farmhouse that smelled like peppermint and got hugs all around (even from Will, the barefoot redhead that instantly became my shadow, which I loved).

It was so easy to see how these people lived as a unit and loved on each other daily. It was so easy to capture Will’s constant curiosity, sweet Noah’s newness and concern, and the ebb-and-flow of dad taking over, now mom, now dad again.

Light trickled in through drops of rain, and I began my process. In telling this family’s story, I wanted to shape something that said, “This is what it looks like to have deep, muddy roots. This is what it feels like to be many and one at the same time. It feels like color, like everything goes together on accident, like you can’t tell if something is warm or cool but it’s good and rich and tastes like chocolate.”

My favorite shoot to date, this family inspired me to dig deeper in my work. I also realized how it feels when the right clients find you. There is a genuine chemistry, that ignites between client and photographer when the right people find each other, and it just makes for comfy, deep photography when it happens.

And it’s pure magic.

Enjoy the season, folks. If you’ve been wanting a hearty, rainy photo session and you’re in the Nashville area, please feel free to contact me. Let’s make some magic.



Green Beginnings: An Apron, A Clothesline

Amy Roberts

Our home is the definition of farmhouse. Lingering in the very bones of this place are reminders of its origins - a laundry shoot, a real well, and a dinner bell on the back door tether this space to the habits of rural life. But the most obvious bit of history built into the backyard are two concrete T-shaped posts erected beneath the gnarly maple - a permanent clothesline setup.

It makes me laugh to think that the builders of this home were so certain that clotheslines would be the way of things forever that they actually installed these massive, everlasting posts into the property itself. I have no idea how deep they are, but a friend recently stood for several seconds staring in confusion at the empty statues and finally asked if they were massive anchors or something (like from a pirate ship) because that’s all they could fathom.

Yet this house is influencing me, I think, because if you looked at my recent search history, you’d find the phrase “what to know about clotheslines.” We’ve hung two lines on either side of the posts, and we’re going to start giving this a shot. I love the idea of drying my clothes in the open air, of having crisp linens against my skin, and of saving a bit of money and electricity in the process.

(I should probably pressure-wash those posts.)

I bought standard clothesline and a pack of pins, and had Justin help me find the right knots for hanging it. We ended up using a Tautline Hitch knot, which you can find a tutorial for here.

I started finding out about the concerns with leaving washing out overnight (spiders might want to build their nests in your clothes, so… NO), freeze-drying in winter, and which clothespins were the best. The best resource for me was definitely this post from The 104 Homestead, so if you’re interested you should definitely check out her article.

One piece of advice I found in my research was to secure an apron with hefty pockets so you don’t have to lug around a bag of clothespins. I didn’t have an apron, but I could envision a dreamy old-world vibe where laundry included fabrics in the breeze and linen tied around my waist. I clearly needed a linen one, because vibes. 

I didn’t have an apron, but I did have an old linen hand-me-down shower curtain from Target that I’d been saving for a project. I love re-purposing things (Sound of Music coordinating outfits, anyone?) because it keeps items out of landfills that much longer, and Mama Nature really appreciates that.

I looked at some beautiful apron patterns. This free one from Purl Soho was particularly tempting, but I’m not really someone who does things properly the first time.

It so happens that I’m a barista by day, so I was able to simply use that apron and whip up a simple-and-easy pattern of my own.

I’m really happy with the results! So, I now have a new apron from an old curtain, and I’m employing a new way of doing laundry, except that it’s actually an old way that is only new to me. In my old house, which is also my new house, and is Justin’s literal old house from his childhood, but is now... kind of his new house?

I’ll make the coffee while you think on that.

If you have any advice for clothesline beginners, please let me know in the comments!


Renovation Series: The House That Made Us

Amy Roberts

It’s been a very busy summer.

If you’ve followed along with me on Instagram, you’ll know that we’ve been working hard on renovating a home we bought in June of this year. You may not know, however, that this is actually the home my husband grew up in. Throughout our relationship, this has been the home of his parents. I’ve known this house since I was sixteen years old (twelve years ago now!) and now it’s in our very own hands. We couldn’t be prouder or more excited.

I can’t help but reflect on how much this house has meant to us through dating, engagement, and marriage. We always had an almost unspoken plan to buy this house whenever the day came for Justin’s parents to move on. It was one of two spaces (my parents’ house being the other one) where we really got to know each other and fell in love. We learned about each others’ families here, fell asleep on the sofa downstairs… I even had a stomach virus strike once when I was around seventeen and spent the night with my head in their toilet, unable to even make the five minute drive home. I mean, I grew up here almost as much as my husband, and it’s surreal and grand and really amazing to be trusted with it now.

For any who don’t know, it’s the original farmhouse for our area, built in 1961. Surrounded on three sides now by subdivisions, this entire swath of land was once dedicated to farmland for the original builders of our home. Yet we are not in a subdivision ourselves. The house has retained about four acres of that farmland, which we now own, and it is bordered by old, gnarly trees which block the views of the neighborhood. With three acres of field in front of the house and no neighbors across the road, it still feels very much like we live in the thick countryside, except that we are conveniently close to town and even have a trail being built through the protected forest next to our mailbox. We’ve really got it made.

So, this post is to catch you all up on what I’ve been up to this summer. I want to share bits of our home on here and update things in this series as they get completed. I’ll also show you a few images from my inspiration board for areas that are still under construction.


My Design Preferences

When thinking about my ideal design choices, I immediately jumped to a minimal yet bohemian style. I love neutrals, textured surfaces, and a less-is-more approach to knick-knacks. I also wanted plants everywhere, spilling out of the corners and making the house feel alive and homey. I wanted to be careful not to betray the spirit of the house in my eagerness, though. This is a farmhouse through and through, complete with a white picket fence, farmhouse doors, and a dinner bell still stuck to the back door. With that in mind, I’ve tried to find a sweet spot between bohemian and farmhouse decor, which I have a lot of anyway due to my own heritage and heirlooms. It’s been a fun challenge that I’m sure will continue to morph as my vision shifts.


The Living + Dining Room

This space is an open floor plan, which was pretty new for the 60’s. It’s bright, with a giant floor to ceiling window centering the living room area that faces the sunrise. There’s a brilliant exposed beam across the top of the ceiling from which we may eventually hang a long fan to circulate air upward better in the muggy Tennessee summers. We plan to replace the carpet soon, and later to put in hardwood to match as close as we can to the stunning originals in the other half of the split level. I’d like to work on window treatments (if not curtains, at least nice blinds) and I really want mismatched chairs. That might be goofy, since I have a great matching set, but, you know, I’m just weird.


The Foyer + Library

This is the space that people walk into from both the front and back doors. Wood paneling was so popular back in the day, and I keep waffling on what to do with it. I think I will end up painting it, but I love the wood trim and the gorgeous wooden shutters facing the back garden. I’m not a fan of light walls against wooden trim, though, so I’m at a loss. I’m considering painting the paneling dark, perhaps charcoal or indigo, but I don’t want to regret it later. I hope to make this room feel worldly and cozy, but it also has to serve as a pass-through for any traffic in or out of the house. Lighting updates and built-in bookcases will finish the room up nicely.


My Office

I was so excited to finally have an office again! This room is on the same level as the library and is extremely cold, even in summer. I love it. This is where I want all my whimsical notions to find a home. I only want to hang art in here that really means something to me, by artists who inspire me, and all my handmade items can find their places here. A thrifted wooden desk chair, a bed slat turned to a shelf, and some old wood blinds I found in the basement make this room one of my favorites. There are twinkle lights bordering the ceiling above my desk that give the room a warm glow at night. I still want to add a rug to make it cozy and to protect the beautiful floors from my chair.


More Plans

This is probably enough for now - bathrooms, bedrooms, and the basement will be for another post, and they all have more work to be done anyway. The plans are as follows:

The laundry room is the tiniest one I’ve ever seen, so I’ve tried to be very economical with my plans for it. I will need to turn the appliances to fit better, remove cabinetry, and free up the laundry shoot (YES! I have a laundry shoot!). Simple, minimal, and economical is the goal for that room.

The bedrooms will be cozy, fairly bohemian, and very neutral. I’d like to play up textures and minimize tech in those rooms. 

All three bathrooms will be remodeled to some degree. I’ve already got the half-bath downstairs stripped of half its wallpaper, but a paint job, a new sconce, and maybe a different sink will finish that up. The two upstairs, however, will be full jobs as I replace pink toilets and tile the now carpeted areas. They will earn a full blog post when they’re done!

The basement is my husband’s sanctuary, where all our technology and music equipment will live. We have very different interests, but that’s what makes our house so well-rounded! I hope to bring a lounge-y, exposed brick sort of vibe down there, with the possibility of an added wet bar and plenty of paint.


What a haul! But we love this process so much. We’re so grateful to have this chance for a taste of the countryside and space to spread out. Thanks for following along! For updates and tidbits on the house, check out my Instagram Stories.