Category: Life with J&M  |  View all recent posts

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!! :)

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.

Thu. Dec 11, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

J&M Behind the Scenes Recap 2014!!

Ooooh it is that time again! Another season has come & gone. We have closed down for the month of December. And that has been giving us some time to look back on this past year at all of the amazing engagements, weddings & shoots we got to be a part of, all of the wonderful places in the world this job of ours took us (Germany, Antigua, California, Colorado, just to name a few!), and all of the incredible people (heyyyyy J&M Brides!) we got to meet along the way.

It is also the time of year where we can look back at all the shenanigans we got up to behind the camera in making those shoots happen.

This is one of my favorite posts of the whole year because it gives me the chance to look back through the whole year and stand in wonder at every good thing that has happened (and remember Who every good thing come from) rather than it all just be a blur and then be on to the next thing! And it also gives me the chance to remember just how very lucky I am to do this all side by side & shoulder to shoulder with my very best friend and the cutest boy in the world.

So here it is, our 2014 Behind the Scenes Recap! Try not to be jealous of all our utter coolness, especially when you see that very last shot! :) (hint: it's the exact opposite of cool!) Since this post is so massive, we've broken it up into some very appropriately named categories, as you'll see below!

Cheers to an incredible year you guys!

**First up, we call this first section, "This is how we DO, New England Style!!"

There WILL be lobsters on my clothes, do not be concerned. I'm from Connecticut, not crazy.

Polka dots and plaid.

Navy & white is my jam.

Polka & pink. Real men wear pink! :)

Striped sweaters & puffers for those chillier months.

Next up is our "Anything to get the shot!" category. We'll wade right into the water, get down in the grass....

We'll shoot one handed while we share a bottle of wine with our couples...obviously!

We'll shoot in tight spaces....

We'll shoot in the rain....

Like, a LOT of rain!!

We'll shoot in high heels boots on the snow.

We'll actually get IN the fountain...

We'll wrap ourselves around this random post because that's where the angle needs to be.

We'll create makeshift backdrops...

And we'll get dangerously close to the cliffs (even when warned against it)!!

This next section is our "Profoto on the GO-GO" category!

Really on the go in NYC.

True story: this nearly turned into a Mary Poppins moment. Chim Chimeroo. But it's really good in case of rain.

And Profoto on the go to these awesome steps in Chicago!

Which leads me into our next section...."Oh the places you'll go"!! On location in the Garden of the Gods, CO.

The top of Foss Mountain in NH for sunset.

A catamaran in Antigua with one of my all time favorite J&M Brides, Lauren Wakefield!

The shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago. With a bird.

On our own personal sailboat for the day in Rockport, Maine.

And on an almost totally frozen Belle was beautiful!!

Next up is our "Justin looking dapper" category! Naturally!

One handed. Just how he rolls!

But he always makes time to groom the next generation of photographers!

Laid back J.Crew for those more casual days.

Suspenders and satchels for the win.

And when in doubt, add a sailboat and a puffer vest in Nantucket! Plus that adorable smile! :)

His trusty Fuji with the leather strap.

This brings me to our "Stuff that happens at weddings" category. Bridal party of 20? NO problem! Big groups totally think I'm funny! Totally.

Do that thing that makes your heart smile.

The Well Groomed Groom.

Breaking out the longer lenses.

Ride along on the party bus!


Group photos with our AMAZING J&M Couples, like these two- Rene & John, who were one of our absolute FAVORITES!!

Mazel, Mazel.

Light testing for epic room shots.

More light testing. And more polka dots!!

Photo booth fun! Even better if there are shark heads. Actually, there should always be shark heads.

Annnnnnnd then there's.......THIS. Which I'm pretty sure gets a category all it's own. :)

Happy Friday Friends!!

Thu. Dec 11, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

Christmas Fun w/ Friends in Richmond!!

While we were down in Virginia working on our brand & new website this past week, we were also able to spend a day in Richmond meeting up with some of our favorite people! We sent them an email to let them know that we were coming & we told them to show us how RVA does Christmas....and BOY did they deliver!!

We had dinner at the absolutely STUNNING Jefferson Hotel that was decked out to the nines for the holidays, complete with a huge christmas tree and giant gingerbread house. This hotel is gorgeous and the meal was pretty amazing too! But the best part of course was the company with Annamarie & Ryan Buddy & Jill , Katelyn & Michael and Matt & Carissa. We just LOVE all of these guys and getting a chance to have a night off of just pure fun with them was just what we needed!

After dinner we headed back to Katelyn & Michael's house for some games (hello Ellen's heads up game!), hot cocoa, and delicious square cookies :) where we got to meet up with Ali too! And of course maybe the best part of the whole night...getting to meet Matt & Carissa's new puppy!! Ahhhh SO cute!

In short, it was a magical night spent with some of the best people we know! Their friendship is such a huge gift!

Happy Thursday everyone!

**Photos stolen from everyone's various Instagrams & a couple from the Fuji....don't judge the quality!! :)

Mon. Dec 1, 2014 by Mary    Life with J&M

Our 2014 Christmas Decor!!

One of my other favorite things about Thanksgiving weekend that has become a tradition over the past few years of my Dad coming up to visit, is that we spend those few days putting up the tree and all of the holiday decorations right away so that they are up for the longest amount of time leading up to Christmas. Truth be told, I would just leave the decorations up year round if I could, because there is nothing like sitting on our couch in the living room with twinkle lights everywhere. It just makes me HAPPY! But I'll just have to settle for the day after Thanksgiving until as long as I can push it in January!

This year, we added quite a bit to our usual decorations so I thought I would give you guys a little tour of everything! First up are our new cable knit stockings we got this year with our names embroidered on them (they're from RH baby & child). I LOVE them! They came in about a month ago and I have been dying to put them up ever since! We're SO lucky to have this amazing huge stone fireplace that is original 1880s in our house (it even has a kettle hook!), and it's just the kind of fireplace that deserves really fun stockings! :)

Going in closer to the mantle, we have a bunch of sparkly trees & the ones on the end light up which is fun! (gold spiral trees are from Pier 1, green sparkly trees are from Crate & Barrel, light up trees are from Home Goods).

Moving just to the right of the mantle, we have our "What's Next" chalkboard set up that we took with us on every stop of our tour all across the country a couple of years ago. I LOVE having this board in our house after so many amazing dreams were written on it...I feel like it has really good vibes! :) On that we hung our new cable knit mitten garland (how cute are they?? Target!), mini trees & Let it Snow sign (all also from Target)

Right next to the chalkboard we have this cool old vintage desk we found when someone was giving it away years ago, and on that we have our Baby It's Cold Outside sign (Home Goods) and this beautiful big ornament (a gift!)

We'll head out the front door now & take a look outside. But only if Cooper can come with us! :) That sled you see in the background there was actually my dad's when he was little. He had it cleaned up & a bow put on it for our front porch!

Justin & my dad trekked up into the woods to bring back some fresh greenery for me to decorate with! Bottom left is a vintage crate with firewood in it stuffed with evergreen. And on the right are our lanterns with berries & green in them (it's crazy but those lanterns were brand new just a couple years ago...this is what the salt air does to everything metal around here!)

All of our windows have light up wreaths on them....we have this down to a science now & can put all them up in about 15 minutes!

Our front door has this big red berry wreath (I think this was Restoration Hardware about 5 years ago) and this year I added the "M"!

Ok, now we'll head back inside to the kitchen! We have this very cool old wood table in there (that we found super cheap on Craigslist) and this year I really knew I wanted to do something with it. I knew it was all going to center around a wood box filled with greenery and gold ornaments, so I just started pulling stuff we have around the house and from the workshops and I'm so happy with how it turned out!

Gold berry wreath (from Target this year), mercury mason jars (Pottery Barn a few years back), Gold bow wreath (I have no idea! We've had it for years but I think it might be Pier One)

I really liked this part of the project! I took the mercury mason jars & wrapped them with one band of burlap ribbon (leftover from a workshop) and then tied on a piece of pine with twine. Then there is actually water & a floating candle inside. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer sign is from TJ Maxx!

Gold glitter ornaments are from Target!

Now this might be my favorite part of the whole thing! I had these gold candles left over from our Charleston workshop (got them at Joann Fabric) and I really wanted some birch wood candle stick holders to go with them. So Justin, being the amazing & resourceful guy that he is, broke out his saw and a specialty drill bit and made them for me!! Husband of the year award right there friends! :)

The little trees in burlap are from the Target dollar bin ($3). They were the find of the year!

Next up, our tree!! We have a light blue, silver, gold and dark gray theme going on our tree and I just love it! There is nothing like sitting by this tree at night and watching movies and drinking cocoa! But most of all, I love our hodge podge of ornaments that all have special meaning, like this little golden guy.

And finally, the view from outside!! Thanks for coming over to visit for a while! :)


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