Fri. Dec 19, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

The First Ever J&M Cocoa & Cookie Swap

This year, I can't explain it, there is just something different about this season.

Justin & I still have all the normal to do's we always do each year of sending out our client gifts, getting in those last few albums, having our final client meetings of the year & booking our December new J&M brides (love all you ladies!!) But this year, I just feel....peaceful. Or maybe more to the point, peace-filled. I just have this calm over me that it's all getting done, it's all coming together, it's all going to be great. And in the midst of it all, we have still had time to really enjoy the holiday season ourselves. That is definitely a FIRST for us in a looong time!!

So far we have gotten to see the lighted boat parade in Mystic, watched a ton of Christmas movies, made homemade soup & sat by the fire. We've decorated our house, we've gone to friends holiday parties, and this weekend we are going to see The Nutcracker! It's really been so amazing to see that change and I'm just so, so grateful for it. And I think if I had to put my finger on it, it's just been this great season of exchanging striving for being still. Of relinquishing control & trusting that someone much better has got this. It's in the slowing down, the taking deep breaths, the letting good things come to us rather than trying to force them all the time. It's been such a huge blessing! And there's not a doubt in my mind that God has had a hand in all of it. I am so thankful for His peace!

Last night, we gathered some of our favorites together and hosted our first ever J&M Cocoa & Cookie swap! We lit every candle in our house, turned up the Christmas music, and filled our home with friends and a ton of laughter (watching the guys act out the Heads Up game will do that!). When it was all said & done, the party didn't end until close to 2am. And we went to bed tired, but oh so happy! And as an extra bonus: we are stocked in cookies through the rest of the year!

If you are thinking about hosting a holiday part (either this year or next), I highly recommend the cookie swap! It was a ton of fun seeing what everyone made & we all walked away with such an awesome mix. I wanted to include our set up here in case you're looking for any inspiration!

Happy Friday friends!

One of my favorite things we did was these tray boxes for everyone to put their cookies in to take home. They were striped boxes with a polka dot tissue paper liner and these metallic imprinted Merry Christmas tags. We got all of them at Hobby Lobby on their 50% off sale for like $1 each!

Jars of marshmallows, chocolate chips & crushed peppermint for everyone to customize their cocoa. And chocolate dipped Oreos there on the right!

Red & white striped straws for the cocoa & hazelnut pirouettes.

Sugar cookies with the peppermint hershey kisses on top. Justin did all of our baking while I did the decorating, and they were DELICIOUS!! He cooks & he fixes stuff....I'm the luckiest girl ever! :)

I just draped these tags into the mugs & it was such an easy & fast way to make them a little more festive!

Candy, CANDY CANES, candy corn and .....syrup!

Cooper was definitely wondering if Santa would put some of those cookies under the tree for him!! :)

Thu. Dec 18, 2014 by Mary    Engagements

Yale Engagement Shoot: Mary & Mike

Happy Thursday!

Whew, this post is going up so late today, but that's just because I was having the hardest time narrowing down my favorites (definitely a good problem to have!!) And when you see this amazing blue dress and this gorgeous couple, I think you'll understand why!!

Mary & Mike came all the way up from Virginia to hang out with us in CT only a short while after they got engaged. We hung out all around the Yale campus, chased some incredible light, and finished everything off with some pumpkin apple ciders (yes pumpkin!) These two are just the sweetest! Mary is actually a photographer herself & that is always such a huge honor when another photographer asks us to do a shoot for them. Plus we always LOVE it because photographers know how to work the camera! These two! Half the time I felt like I was doing a shoot for Vanity Fair...and just wait until you see the ones with the vent! All time favorites!


Wed. Dec 17, 2014 by Mary    Get Fired Up

Made to Last

There is something that happens when you buy an 1800s era home.....the projects are never ending.

Actually no, scratch that. There are THREE things that happen when you buy an 1800s era home:

1) The projects are never ending
2) There isn't a straight wall to be found in the whole thing, and
3) You wouldn't change it for the world.

We LOVE this house. Everything about it has character and style and history and legacy, and you KNOW that's speaking our language. It's everything we love and want to stand for ourselves in our own work! In CT, there tend to be two general types of homes; there are the old historic homes (with all the challenges & extra effort they bring) and then there are the new constructions, which can be gorgeous...we actually looked at a lot of them when we were looking to buy and there are so many pretty ones out there. But every time we walked into one it felt like something was just missing for what we love. And that something I think is the "what makes them different" factor. That is something that's really important to us. In our own work, the last thing we ever want to be is the exact same as everyone else. We always want to make sure we are never compared as a photographer is a photographer is a photographer, all lined up side by side. And we knew that's what we wanted for our home too.

And BOY did we get it!! There is nothing about this house that is the same as any other. And for us, that is both the greatest thing in the world....and also presents an ongoing, ever-growing list of challenges. The walls are curvy, there are all of these quirks in the floor plan we have to work around, the joists are in weird spots. And when you try to bring in modern amenities, with all of their standard measurements & placements, it takes a lot of improvising & shall we say "creative thinking" on the spot to make them work! :)

But again, as frustrating as that can be, I think that's what we also love so much & are so grateful for about this house every single day: absolutely nothing about it is cookie cutter or the same as everyone else! (even though sometimes that would definitely be the easier, faster way to go!)

We were talking to our contractor, who was in to take measurements for our next wave of renovations on the house, and he said something that really stuck out to me. He said he actually really loved it when things don't happen so super quick & easy in a home. He said he loved it when the homeowners have had to get their own hands dirty in helping to make it happen. Because he said it made them appreciate it more, it made them care more than if it was all just handed to them.

And I think it's like that with our businesses too. At some point or another, I think we all wish we could just snap our fingers and we would be "there" (wherever there is). We wish it could be easier. We wish it could be faster. We wish we could just follow the step by step instructions that were included in the box. We are ready to show the world the "after" to our before. We are ready for the highlight reel. We are tired of the behind the scenes.

But it's exactly those behind the scenes- It's the hard work and the getting your hands dirty and the having some skin in the's the problem solving and figuring out how to make it happen and the quick thinking on your feet- it's all of those things that are what make it YOURS. It's all of those things that you'll get to be SO proud of one day. It's all of those things that allow you to get out of the box and stop just following someone else's instructions. Because I promise you, if I just handed it all to you tomorrow... it wouldn't mean nearly as much. It would just be something you were willing to walk away from when the highlight reel was over.

But this. The building it with your own two hands, the learning a new craft as you go, the refusing to take short cuts.... now THAT is how you make something that's different from everyone else out there.

So today, I want you to give yourself permission to slow down. The enjoy the process. To see the work that you're doing on this dream as a privilege and a gift.

And whenever it gets hard just remind yourself....this right here is how you build something that was made to last.

Rock it out friends!

Mon. Dec 15, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

Our New Favorite Holiday Drink!!

When we were down in Virginia working on our new brand & website with the amazing Jennifer Olmstead, all of us were putting in a lot of long hours! And that kind of diligence and effort definitely requires some reward at the end! :) So at the end of Day 3 when the last to do had been check marked, we decided to raise a glass to celebrate! When Jen asked if we wanted to try her favorite new drink, I was honestly just expecting a glass of wine or something like that. But this girl is the QUEEN of hospitality, so I should have known better! She started breaking out cutting boards and spices and fresh rosemary. And that's when I knew we were in for something really good!

Enter: The Bourbon Bomber!!

I don't know about you, but when bourbon, nutmeg, apple cider and bitters all come together, it sounds pretty much like a holiday dream come true to me! And I can tell you that it was even better than it sounds.....they were delicious!! And I may have just had two! :) We know that a lot of you are heading to holiday parties this time of year or maybe even hosting one of your own, so we asked Jen if she could share the recipe so we could pass it along to all of you too. And in true Jen fashion, THIS is the gorgeous design she put together (did I mention she's amazing?!)

We hope you guys love it as much as we do! Cheers!

Amazing design by Tonic Site Shop, recipe from The Boys Club.

Mon. Dec 15, 2014 by Mary    J&M Mentoring Sessions

December J&M Mentoring Sessions

Happy Monday!

Last week, we finished up our last mentoring session of the year! We took two sessions in December: one of them- with the adorable Jamie Rae- was done over Skype because she is all the way out in Oregon and the other was last week while we were down in Virginia with the amazing Amanda Manupella! I just adore both of these girls and I am SO excited for all of the incredible things they have planned for their businesses in 2015! They both came to us totally ready to shake things up and come out swinging like never before next year, and after sitting down with both of them I have no doubts that that is exactly what they are going to do!

I am so grateful for these mentoring sessions and things like Skype and travel and this blog that have brought so many amazing hearts in our lives this past year! It is such a gift to be able to sit down with someone and hear them pour out their hearts for the big dreams they have for their businesses & their lives. To look them in the eye and know that they have what it takes to go do it. And then to sit down side by side, shoulder to shoulder with them and come up with a plan for getting there. I'm just SO thankful! This work doesn't feel like work at all....and that's when you know you're on to something you love!

Here are some of our favorites from the mini-headshots we did with Amanda! And if you are interested in mentoring with us for your business in 2015, we say why not make it a Christmas gift to yourself this year!! :) You can find all the info by clicking HERE.


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