Safe and Sound

We teamed up with photographer Nicole Mendoza of Nicole Midwest to present a local take on the “Front Porch Sessions” that are trending nationwide. Take a look at how a few local families have been embracing staying safe at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Photos by Nicole Midwest / @NicoleMidwest

We teamed up with photographer Nicole Mendoza of Nicole Midwest to present a local take on the “Front Porch Sessions” that are trending nationwide. This movement stemmed from local photographers wanting to use their skills to provide some smiles during the time of COVID-19. By photographing families from a safe distance, cutting out all contact (including hugs, handshakes and even knocks on the door), community members were able to briefly step away from the melancholia and focus on happiness. Little pleasures and joys matter now more than ever, so if you can achieve that safely, we celebrate that! 

We here at Design & Living fully believe that your home is an extension of you. We found these sessions to be a wonderful way to embrace your home, the people you share it with and how you spend your time in it. 

Just because we are quarantined for the safety of our nation, doesn’t mean that relationships, conversations, creativity, self-care and love are also put on hold. We encourage all of you to find ways to embrace staying at home, much like these featured families have. Take in the aspects you love about your shelter. Have quality conversations. Enjoy movie marathons. Start a new craft. And keep on fighting to ensure the safety of our families. 

For once, we have the opportunity to bring our community closer by staying farther away from each other. 

*Note: We ensured complete safety and awareness in executing these sessions. In a time that is dark and uncertain, we were inspired to find the silver lining and embrace our loved ones (that we are spending A LOT more time with as of late!) If you are looking to book a Front Porch Session with a local photographer, please be respectful of distance and safety at this time. Do not go get a haircut for the session. Do not pick up a new outfit. And do not cross into anyone’s six-foot bubble. If your state has a stay-at-home mandate enacted, abide by it. Set boundaries and enforce that the photos be captured from a car or sidewalk. These sessions are intended to make the most of a difficult time and are to be done responsibly and to each involved party’s comfort level.

The Iepsons

Elisabeth, Brett, Clark and Miles
@elisabeth.eden /

Brett and Elisabeth Iepson are quite accustomed to living and working from home. Brett and Elisabeth run their own business, Elisabeth Eden (, a photo, video and small business marketing resource. Their sons, Clark (5.5) and Miles (3.5) are homeschooled. Since they are used to staying at home often, they used the current quarantine to embrace even more indoor activities. This meant spring cleaning, creating stacks of items to donate, cooking, art projects, Disney+ viewings and taking on a big, family puzzle.

In this time of staying home, the Iepsons are thankful to have two levels of their home, creating separate spaces for work and play. This way, there is an easy escape for when things get a little too rowdy on the main floor. They also have been especially enjoying the location of their home and how their backyard views are open prairies and beautiful sunrises. 

The Baldocks

Kate and Josh

Kate and Josh Baldock have been making the most of their time social distancing. Kate is an artist and has been able to continue her work as usual, as her studio is in her parents’ basement. Josh, a sales agent at a bank, has kept busy working in the home office they just built for him in their spare bedroom.

Not sitting out this quarantine alone, the Baldocks are happy to share their home with their two cats, Stella and Ollie. “I think our animals definitely make our house feel like a home! We could not be without our animals. They are comforting, sweet, and ease some of the anxiousness,” said Kate.

Outside of work and quality-time inside, they have enjoyed taking advantage of the rising temperatures. One weekend, they took a day trip to Walhalla, N.D. to hike and enjoy the great outdoors on their family’s private hunting land. They are both quite social and are greatly looking forward to being able to socialize face-to-face again. Kate can’t wait to meet with potential customers over coffee and install her artwork into homes and Josh is looking forward to being back at work and meeting clients face to face.

Teresa O’Day

@t.oday / @proper.shops

With her sister Ashlie, Teresa O’Day owns and operates Proper, a women’s clothing boutique with locations in downtown Fargo and Minneapolis. Being a small business owner, much of her time has been spent trying to adapt to keep the shop going during this uncertain time. “We’ve been changing up our social media plan and getting more products online than ever. Also, we are offering free shipping online for as long as this goes on. I’ve been busy editing photos, loading things on the site and packing up orders,” she said. 

Teresa shares her home with her two cats and has been busy with “virtual hangouts” with friends and family, even taking a virtual watercolor class with Unglued via their Facebook page. She’s worked hard on perfecting some of her all-time favorite recipes and diving into some online shopping to support other fellow small businesses in the area. Excited to return to normal life, she said “I can’t wait to see Downtown Fargo come alive again! I’ll make the rounds to all my favorite local businesses.”

Not wanting to capitalize on the situation at hand, Nicole Midwest used these sessions as a way to raise money for The Ronald McDonald House Fargo and The Great Plains Food Bank. Instead of charging subjects for the photos, she instead encouraged them to donate to one of the two charities.   

The Sullivans 

Katie, Daren, Eva, Kristian and Isla

“Normally, we live a pretty busy life and don’t have a chance to all be together all day every day unless it’s the weekend or we are on vacation. We are taking this as a chance to connect with our kids and tackle some of our home to-do list,” said Katie Sullivan. With her husband, Daren, and three kids, Eva (5), Kristian (2) and Isla (5 months), the Sullivans are using this time at home to bake, make crafts, indulge in some Disney+ viewings and work on some home projects (with supplies they already had). 

They’ve poured their blood, sweat and tears into transforming their house into their dream home. So now, they are making the most of their time in the place that reflects them as a family so much. 

Like many homes across the nation, the Sullivans took part in #AWorldOfHearts. This nation-wide trend stemmed from a Facebook group started by a North Dakota family who wanted to share love by posting cut-out paper hearts on their street-facing window. Now, families like the Sullivans are spreading positivity and love, while also creating a craft for the whole family to enjoy. We must say, the outcome is pretty darn cute! 

The Collinses

Troy, Victoria and Meredith

Troy Collins, a DJ/MC at Harmon Entertainment, is adjusting away from being the life of the party. While he looks forward to returning to enlivening weddings, he’s been relishing his days with family, especially having some good laughs with his two daughters, Victoria (11) and Meredith (8). 

“[I’m] enjoying and spending quality time with family, making homemade goodies from noodles to juices, and taking a step back to ‘smell the roses,'” said Collins. The family has embraced wearing pajamas all day and not worrying about appearances. An added bonus to make their life a bit sweeter indoors? Collins’ wife has been filling the home with delicious Scentsy wax-melt scents. Combine those with all the cooking being done, and it doesn’t sound like the Collins home is bad place to be quarantined in.


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