Our Engagement Pictures

I’ve been dreaming of having engagement pictures done for a long time, and it finally happened!! My dear friends (and future bridesmaids), Joanna and Emily, were gracious enough to brave the heat with us for a few hours for pictures. I am so grateful for their friendship, camera skills and sweet spirits! Thank you guys!


We started at the NC Art Museum which is a favorite place of mine and Garrett’s. After melting a bit, we went down the road to our next location, but not before having to pull over for me to frantically dance and beat my dress. Wasps stuck inside your dress somewhere who decide to sting your leg and hand tend to make one do those things.  I survived, though, and we made it to our second location–NC State’s Beef Unit where Garrett and I first talked to each other during a judging contest. We laughed a lot, but also managed to get some serious photos. Gideon says the pictures make him seasick, so that’s your warning if you’d like to continue viewing.

Regardless, I am beyond excited for May 19, 2018 to roll around so I can marry the man God picked special for me!






Red, White, and Blue

Fourth of July is always one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. We all get together as a family for a cookout that includes burgers, chicken, hot dogs, pasta salad, fries, and fruit. We always conclude our day with fireworks and sparklers. This year, we conducted a flag retirement ceremony. Grandma had two flags that needed to be retired, so we all took part in the proper way to dispose of them. It was very impactful and special to do on Independence Day.






Jennifer Marshal Phillips |Bridal Session

I am so excited to finally be sharing these bridal portraits with you now that Jennifer is officially Mrs. Phillips. The wedding yesterday was gorgeous! I was so honored to take Jennifer’s bridal portraits and stand beside her as a bridesmaid. Jennifer is beautiful from the inside out! I’m so thankful for her friendship over the years and am so excited for her and Brooks. Congratulations guys!





I’m pretty sure this was a good 5 years ago. The wedding dress looks a lot better than the cap and gown 😉

Cary –Senior Session |NCSU

It was my second year in grad school. I had decided to take an elective class outside of the Communication Department and take one in the Ag Ed Department. It is was here I met Cary. She was someone I could talk goats with and not get strange looks. Let me tell you, that is not common to find.  Fast forward a few semesters, and we both have our master’s degrees, are both engaged, and both still like talking goats and all things animals.

I am so excited for Cary as she starts her new journey at Clemson University where she’ll be pursuing her doctorate degree and planning a wedding!! Here’s to rings and degrees.





Alec–Senior Session |University of Mount Olive

My brother is a college graduate!! It is hard to believe that he is totally done. Alec graduated with a B.S. in Agri-Business. He is currently working at Bayer Crop Science and applying for his MBA. This big sister is so proud of all his hard work and all he has accomplished. Alec not only graduated, but he did so while maintaining a merit scholarship, working part time, acting as an officer in Young Farmers and Ranchers, going to the gym, and participating in collegiate FFA. Did I mention he did this and kept a 3.49 GPA? He killed it…and his photo shoot! Congratulations bud!!





Dancing because he graduated!!!



Our Proposal Story

“I’ve fallen in love with adventures, so I begin to wonder if that’s why I’ve fallen for you.” -E. Grin

A week ago today,  I went on an adventure. Little did I know that my kayaking adventure to Bear Island would lead me to a new adventure all together.

Garrett and I had been planning a trip to Bear Island for months. We would kayak the sound and explore the island. Unfortunately, life got in the way with me working and him trying to finish his thesis, so it kept getting postponed. We finally decided that we’d go on May 3rd.

Thank goodness we decided to go on May 3rd. I had just told myself a few days before that if I couldn’t propose to Marisa by the second week in May I was throwing the perfect proposal plan out the window. I was gonna propose to that girl no matter what, even if that was in her driveway!

The days leading up to the 3rd, I kept asking Garrett if he was sure he was ok to go. I knew his thesis was stressing him out, and it wasn’t turned in yet. The night before we left, he texted saying that he had sent it in! “Great! Now we can celebrate by kayaking,” I said.

Garrett picked me up and we headed to the coast. We talked the whole way there and stopped at McDonalds for brunch. Once at Hammocks Beach State Park, we packed our kayaks, put sunscreen on (him more than me), and launched into the sound. It was an absolutely perfect day—sunny, but not too hot, breezy, but not to where we struggled paddling. It was a made to order kind of day. It took us 1.5 hours to reach the island. Bear Island has a sound side and ocean side. We kayaked the sound side, but when we landed, we walked to the beach side.

On our walk down the beach, we found jelly fish, sand dollars, and plenty of seashells. We laid out towels,  and ate some snacks. I fell asleep on the beach, but woke up after a while.

Meanwhile Marisa is sleeping. I’m racking my brain trying to find and excuse to get Marisa to stand up. Gosh this is proving difficult… Wait, I’ll just ask her to take some more pictures; she loves pictures. That will make her stand up!

Garrett asked if I wanted to take a few more pictures at the beach. So, I got up, and we snapped some selfies. We then just stood looking at the view. The following conversation then occurred:

Garrett: It’s been a pretty perfect day don’t you think?

Marisa: you are pretty perfect and so are we.

Garrett: Well, you know what would make this day even more perfect?

*Garrett drops to one knee

Marisa: No, no, no, no (note this is a “no way I can’t believe this is happening” vibe not my answer. I’m also known to respond to major declarations in a bad way….more on that later)

Garrett: If you would make me the happiest man alive and be my wife, Marisa Linton, will you marry me?

Marisa: YES!!


That is all I remember of the conversation. I was crying and shaking at this point. He gave me the ring, but I had to give it back because I was shaking too hard to put it on. After that, I kind of just hugged him for a solid 10 minutes trying to compose myself. I was shocked. I never thought he would risk taking a ring on a kayak!


One of the first full sentences Marisa was able to form after I asked her to marry me was “How the heck are you so dang calm?!” To which I replied “If only you knew how long I had been planning on doing this. I am just so glad that all of this finally came together like I had planned.”

He then told me all the secrets he had been keeping from me to pull this off. Poor guy had been trying to do this since early March. I didn’t help either. I asked to reschedule our trip once…I might not have done that had I known I was going to get proposed to!

She canceled on my proposal plans! Can you believe that the love of my life cancelled on me asking to marry her!!! Who would have saw that coming!


One of the secrets was that he hadn’t turned in his thesis. He said he did so I wouldn’t reschedule again. Sheepishly he asked if he could finish it up in the car and stop somewhere with WiFi to turn it in. So, that’s what we did. After kayaking back the 2 miles, (with the ring now my responsibility) we packed up, rinsed off, changed sat in the truck.  I called my parents, who apparently already knew this was happening. I also told Alec who at first didn’t believe me and had to get confirmation from Garrett. He then screamed with excitement. While I called folks, Garrett worked on his thesis. I also was discovering that as Garrett put it, I was Lady Lobster. Oops…. I may never learn.

We went out to eat at Texas Roadhouse and drove back home to show off my new bling. Speaking of bling, let me take this moment to brag on Garrett’s jewelry picking skills. He has always done really good at picking jewelry for me over the years, but the ring he picked is amazing!! I love the setting and oval. He picked it all himself too. He’s also basically an expert in diamonds now. And me, well I stare at it a lot.


We then went to my house where I broke the news to anyone who didn’t know and showed off my ring. I was also filled in on some behind the scenes activities. For example, Garrett asked Daddy’s permission months ago over lunch. I knew they had eaten lunch together, but I thought Garrett had to go meet his internship people who work near Dad. Apparently that wasn’t a thing. He just needed an excuse to talk to Dad. Mom and Dad never let on and had  super good poker faces. Sneaky people I tell you.

And with that, I had a fiancé, a sparkly ring, and a new adventure to go on. We are so, so excited for this. I have had to pinch myself several times. It’s real, though. I get to marry my best friend and go on the greatest adventure!


For those who don’t know how Garrett and I met and started dating, here is a very condensed version:

I had no idea the guy sitting in front of me was the guy I was going to marry!

It really started in high school. We’d compete against each other in livestock skillathon and judging contests (I’d typically beat him).  After one contest, Garrett approached me and struck up a conversation about who had more ribbons.


Later that week, he reached out on Facebook to ask if I’d be showing at State Fair so he had a chance to redeem himself. From then on, we would talk. Ironically, though, I thought he was just being friendly, and he thought I was just being nice. Clearly, we weren’t good at flirting. We were good at talking, though. It was never awkward with Garrett. It was always natural.

Fast forward to freshman year of college. We both kind of did our thing. He was at NCSU and I was at Campbell. I dated someone briefly but Garrett and I would still talk. Freshman year passed, and the summer of 2012 came. Both of us were single and started talking more seriously. We’d hang out at 4-H events, but I had the hardest time getting him to go with me to a movie or hang out outside of an event. Our first date was at the Smithfield movie theater. We went the whole fall competing against each other in the hog showmanship circuit.


It wouldn’t be until October 21st 2012, that he’d ask me out. We had spent the day kayaking and watching movies. In the driveway at my house, he asked if I wanted to make things official. I said yes. A week later he’d say I love you, but my answer was “why.” Awful I know. The guy flustered me, though. It had only been a week. It’s ok, though I said it back after he gave me reasons why. The rest is history. We’ve gone on dozens of day trips, spent a whole summer without seeing each other, gotten to know each other, had tough conversations, and fallen in love.




We started our friendship with livestock and still bond over it. We started our relationship with kayaking, and now we have started our engagement with kayaks. I know everyone has a great love story, but I really, really love ours. It has always proven to be an adventure, and I’d have it no other way.


“Love is meant to be an adventure.”—Gordon Hinckley

Grand Canyon/ Vegas Trip

After looking at more than a thousand photos from our Grand Canyon and Vegas trip, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful to share with you all. It was such a wonderful trip filled with a ton of adventure. Garrett’s family was gracious enough to invite me to come along. They promised fun and adventure, and boy did we get it! I hope you enjoy this little recap.

Day 1:

This day was filled with smooth travels…minus the time Garrett got stuck behind a lady who reclined her seat in the plane. That doesn’t bode well for his large frame. Regardless, we finally arrived in Las Vegas. We met up with the rest of the group (Grandma Murphy, and Garrett’s aunts—Kristen & Melanie) who were coming from other parts of the country and set out for a late dinner. We ate at a Mexican restaurant near the strip that had the best tacos and the coolest lighting. After that, we were all pretty pooped, so we decided to call it a night.

Day 2:

We ate breakfast and hopped on the monorail to head to the strip.


We started at one end and worked our way down. Ya’ll, the strip is really long, and we definitely did not make it down the whole thing. After exploring Hershey’s Chocolate, eating at Gordon Ramsey’s Burger joint (best pork burger ever!), and looking at a lot of the sites, we went back to the hotel to change for our show that evening.






We went to the LINQ to see Matt Franco, a magician. If you don’t know who that is, look him up on YouTube. He was super good and funny. We even got souvenir playing cards from the show. After the show, we headed to… well the food court. We each chose various places to eat (Garrett and I chose Panda Express…unique I know). The real winner, though was in the Venetian (my favorite hotel). In the Venetian is gelato!! When I went to Italy, I fell in love with gelato, and what they sell in the stores just doesn’t cut it. This, though, was the real deal. As you can tell by my face, I was excited! It was a perfect way to end the day.


Day 3:

We started the day with brunch at Payard Patisserie & Bistro in Caesar’s Palace. Super yummy pastries and omelets were served!


Afterwards, we explored Vegas more. Our last stop on the strip was Circus Circus. We had a little too much fun playing ski ball, arcade games, and winning tickets for prizes. I walked away with a cup and 5 whole Tootsie Rolls. The kid came out in all of us.


Once our prizes were claimed, we went back to the hotel to change for dinner and a show. We ate dinner at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris with the most delicious steak. We then went to the top of the Eiffel Tower and watched the Bellagio light and water show from the top. While cold at the top, the view was awesome!


Finally, we booked it to Treasure Island to watch cirque du Soleil Mystere. Let me tell you, that was the oddest show. Good but odd. There were amazing costumes and acrobatics, but there was a weird story-line involving adult babies. I was left a touch speechless at the whole thing. That would round up our third night in Vegas.


Day 4:

We said bye to Vegas and looked to a more natural landscape. On our 5 hour drive to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at Red Rock Canyon to travel the scenic drive and hike some. There were some gorgeous views.




We also spotted bighorn sheep. Of course, I didn’t bring my zoom lens the one time I needed it. I still took pictures, but they aren’t too close. We hiked to a waterfall, that ended up being more of a trickle. Nonetheless, it was a really nice stop and adventure. Once we got back on the road to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at In ‘N Out Burger for lunch. I’m a proponent for them bringing those to North Carolina. Milkshakes and animal fries are where it’s at. The sun was setting when we arrived at the Grand Canyon, so we headed to our hotel rooms and got dressed for dinner at the El Tovar. The El Tovar was built in the early 1900’s . I think it was my favorite meal of the trip. I had chipotle tomato soup and prime rib with potatoes. The desserts (creme brulee, tarts, and more) were also to die for. I was a huge fan. It was a good thing that we ate a big dinner that night. I would need the sustenance the next day.

Day 5:

The morning started with a quick hike to the rim to make sure the Canyon really did exist. Once that had been established, we grabbed breakfast and made a game plan. The plan was to hike the rim trail until it was time to grab our flight over the Canyon. I think we hiked about 2 miles of the rim.


We then went to a tour place that had flights. We hopped into an 8 passenger plane and flew over the canyon whilst listening to a guide. It was really cool to see the Canyon from that point of view. I was nervous about the takeoff and landing of a little plane, but it ended up being smoother than any of the big planes I’ve ever ridden in!


After our flight, we went back to the Canyon to hike the Kaibab Trail. We (Me, Garrett, Michael, Emma, and Dr. See) wanted to hike the trail before it got dark. This trail goes down the side of the canyon in cutback dirt trails.


They say that however long it takes you to get down the trail, it will take you twice as long up. It took us 30 minutes to reach Ooh Ahh point and see a view that literally will make you say oohh ahhh. Best view of the week!





We turned around to go back up, and suddenly I was doubting my decision to hike so far down the trail. We had gone a mile down with 700 feet drop in elevation, and now we had to go back up. There were no flat spots; it was a constant uphill. There were several times I thought I was gonna die. I may or may not have stopped to “take pictures” just so I could catch my breath. Finally, we made it to the top. Once I caught my breath, I no longer regretted my decision to hike the trail. When we got to the top, two older women came up and said they had just hiked all the way down to the bottom and back in a day. They hiked 11 hours with only 45 minute break for lunch. I felt like a total wuss after listening to them. It’s ok, though, I did it.

Once we had all learned to breathe again, we went back into town and grabbed Wendy’s for dinner and headed towards the Imax theater to watch a show about the Grand Canyon. It was the perfect way to end the eventful day.

Day 6:

You’d think that after the Kaibab Trail, I’d be over the whole hiking down the canyon deal…not so. We started the day with breakfast and started a hike down Bright Angel Trail.


This trail was very similar to Kaibab, but slightly less strenuous. We only went down 500 feet that day. It was infinitely better. It also helped that we hiked at a much more leisurely pace.


We even spotted petroglyphs. We also checked out a museum featuring photographers from decades ago. We then grabbed lunch and drove down to Desert View Drive, where we would stop at certain places for hikes. These hikes were very flat and leisurely, but still had amazing views!



At the end of the drive, we toured the Watchtower. The tower was built to look old and built by natives, but in reality it is just designed to look that way.



Finally, we watched the sunset. The night ended with dinner at Bright Angel Lodge and some souvenir shopping.  We called it an early night so we could be up by sunrise the next morning.


Day 7:

5am came early. I didn’t worry about hair or makeup, but I did worry about layers of warm clothing. I even borrowed a blanket from our hotel room. We found a good spot to watch the sunrise and got our cameras ready. Although, way early, it was quite magical to watch the day begin at the Grand Canyon.




Now that the sun had risen, we headed back to the hotel to actually take a shower and get ready for the day. Our time at the Grand Canyon had come to an end.


We packed up and headed to the Hoover Dam. I love the history of Hoover Dam, and it always amazes me what man can build.


After our stop at the dam, we continued our way back to Vegas. Once back in the city, we stood in line to take pictures at the iconic Vegas sign, ate way too much food at the Golden Nugget buffet, and went to Fremont Street.

Ya’ll I have been to Fremont Street before and it was definitely PG-13. They have bumped up the rating since then. My eyes hurt a bit after some of the sights that I saw. Nonetheless, the light show, experience, and live bands made for the perfect last night in Vegas.The next morning we’d be headed home.


Day 8:

Just kidding! We thought we were done with Vegas, but Delta had other plans. We stood in line for 5 hours that day, waiting to get new tickets because the storms had made a hot mess. The issues had still not been fixed 4 days later. We heard many a horror story of people’s luggage being sent on without them, but they had to stay behind, or sitting on a plane until midnight only to have the flight cancelled and told to get off. It was so much fun! Delta did give us vouchers for hotel, transportation, and food, though. We wouldn’t be getting out of there until the following day at 11pm. The food vouchers could only be used in the airport, though. So, we grabbed airport Wendy’s, grabbed a cab, and checked in to another hotel. We decided to grab a show last minute that was on sale. The Mentalist was really good, but I was terrified he was going to pick me to participate. Thankfully he didn’t! We ended the evening at a delicious nacho joint.

Day 9:

The decision was made to purchase 2 tickets for Michael and Emma on another airline so they could get home early as Michael had to work. After seeing them off, Garrett, his parents and I hit Vegas again. We went to the pawn shop that is on the show Pawn Stars. That was really neat. After grabbing lunch, we grabbed our luggage and went early to the airport…just in case. Today was not nearly as bad as the previous day. We checked in no problem. We used some of our food vouchers at Chilis for dinner, but we still had a bunch left. The rest of our time was spent going to all the different stores buying food with our vouchers. We went to Starbucks, a smoothie place, Hudson News, and cookie store. The vouchers were for $15 and you could only use it at one store. So, if you only bought $5 worth of stuff, you lost the other 10. Therefore, we tried to get as close to the $15 mark as possible. Just so you know, jerky and a bag of chex mix is $14.98. Boom! We ended up with a lot of snacks for the plane, but it was fun to use them all up.

It was finally time to board our flight!! We were standing in line when over the speaker, they said you have 30 minutes to get on this flight or it is cancelled. What?!! Mind you they don’t just let you on. You have to go on according to your zone. People slowly made their way on the plane. I don’t know if people didn’t hear the announcement, didn’t believe them or thought that if they made it on the plane they were safe, but they could not get a second gear. One lady asked for ice. Ice! Those of us (me included) who were taking the 30 minute deal seriously were telling folks to hurry up. I even grabbed one person’s luggage for them so they could sit faster. The guy in front of us had been on 2 planes already that day and had them cancelled. Still, people would not hurry. I was texting my mom giving her a play by play. Prayers work, though, and all of a sudden, the door closed and we were moving towards the runway. People started to say, “oh, I think they were serious about cancelling the flight.” Ummm yeah they were. The pilots were about to time out. It all worked out, though. We flew overnight (not fun) and landed in New York at 8am, hopped another plane, and finally landed in home sweet NC. We were all pretty tired, but safe and home. Our luggage made it, and we headed to the car only to find the battery dead. Oh Monday, you do show yourself up sometimes. We got that fixed and finally headed home.

I grabbed a shower, and went into work in Raleigh. I finally made it home to my neck of the woods around 8 that evening. With that, the adventure was over. Our trip went longer than expected, but we had a blast! If you’ve lasted this long through the whole dialogue, thanks for reading! If you decided to ignore the words and make this more of a picture book, that’s cool too. Happy weekend!


Linton Family | VA Beach

On our recent spring break trip to Virginia beach, we had a photo shoot at First Landing State Park. The original plan was to take beach pictures, but alas, my vision of sunset beach pictures were thwarted by awful wind. So, we regrouped the next day and found a much less windy location. Mom always likes to get annual pictures to update her wall in the living room, and we always have a good time while taking the pictures.



Behind the Scenes


Virginia Beach, VA | Linton Family Spring Break

It is amazing what a four day vacation does for the body and soul. For once, all of our spring breaks aligned on the same week, so the whole family took a trip to Virginia for a getaway. We started with a stay at Great Wolf Den Lodge and then traveled to Virginia Beach.

It amazes me how different beaches can be from place to place. We had never been to Virginia Beach, and it was definitely different than NC beaches or even Myrtle Beach. We had a great trip exploring the area, climbing lighthouses, and simply enjoying family time. Of course, pictures are better than words, so here are a few photos from our trip.


The boardwalk is filled with art and statues. This is Neptune and probably the most popular.


One of my favorite places we went to along the boardwalk was the Old Coast Guard Station. Daddy served in the Coast Guard for several years. When the lady at the museum found out he had served, they gave us free admission to the museum. How awesome is that?! There were a lot of really cool exhibits. Dad’s favorite was the “Bear” which was the ship he served on.



Keeping with a military theme, we went to Fort Story and climbed Cape Henry Lighthouse. Before we could climb the lighthouse, though, we had to be searched as it is an active duty base. I’m happy to report that we were allowed on base without incident. We also behaved while on base and did not get kicked off. We also got our exercise climbing the many stairs, but it was so worth it.



Cape Henry was the first federally funded lighthouse. George Washington issued the project, and it cost $17,000 back then. After serving for more than 100 years, a new one was built beside it.



You cannot climb the new lighthouse, but you can climb the old one. So, up we went.


After climbing lighthouses, we ate lunch on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (best French dip sandwich ever!)


Once we got to the other side of the bay, we went hiking and discovered an old WWII bunker.

In the bunker was a giant canon that could shoot 25 miles.


Past the bunker was an old cemetery and a beautiful view of a marsh.



It was a fabulous four days. We ended the trip with a photo shoot at First Landing State Park. We laughed until we cried. Family time is always amazing!

When you date a livestock person

When you date someone, there are typical things that you might do with them. You probably go out to eat, watch a movie, go shopping, take a walk….you know the normal stuff. However, when you date someone in the livestock world, the normal is a bit different.

An ideal date may be to a livestock show or sale

A barn full of animals, shavings, dust and manure may not sound the most romantic, but for a livestock couple, it’s perfect. Because, let’s face it, the best thing in life, after our significant other, is livestock. So, when you can combine livestock and your special person, it’s a good night. Not to mention you get to see that particular pair of jeans and boots on your signficant other…swoon.


The biggest arguments are over livestock

You go to a livestock sale. You set a budget. You FINALLY agree on an animal. The animal goes over the budget. You look at each other. One of you says no, the other keeps bidding. They win the bid. You can’t stay mad long because you got the animal. OR there are those arguments about what breed is better, how best to feed, or how a class should be placed.


Couple pictures may or may not have an animal in them

Let’s be real– a pig or sheep or other animal will always enhance the photo. The only problem is getting everyone to cooperate in the picture.



Your love story started with livestock

Whether you met as fierce competitors in the show ring or were on the same livestock judging team, you can thank livestock for bringing you together.


You bond over chores…especially the gross ones

Before going on a “normal” date there are often chores to be done… feeding animals, scooping poop, medicating, etc. The trick is not to get smelly, but if you do, it’s no matter. Your significant other won’t care.


Dating a livestock person can be a bit different than a typical relationship, call me biased, but I think it is ideal.

*Personal Note: After 4 years of dating a livestock person, I’ve experienced every one of these things and more. We started talking after I got a Facebook message saying “hey, are you showing at State Fair? I need to redeem myself after you beat me in skillathon.” We have gone from eyeing each other in the show ring to so much more. We’ve shoveled poop together, traveled many miles to pick up new stock, and have had some arguments over animals. The best part, though, is we share a passion…a passion in livestock.

Unintentionally matching at the NC State Fair Goat Show