Office - Before & After

It's finally here! The reveal of my finished office!

I moved into my house in September and I've been working on this room since July. That's right - before I even had the key. I measured it out, drew the floor plan, searched for each furniture piece online and envisioned exactly how I dreamed it would be.

This room is one of the main reasons I bought my house. The house was built in 1954 and this was the original living/dining room. It is the front room of the house and you walk directly into it from the front door (right of the frame in the above photo). Since the house had an addition of a family room put onto the back of it in the 90s, this front room is ideal for my home office.

To give you an idea of the changes that I've made, here are two before and after shots:

During the renovation in August, these are the changes I happily paid my contractors to make:

- new wood flooring
- painted the room a pale yellow (Benjamin Moore Philadelphia Cream) with one accent wall in red (matched from a wall clock I have)
- interior window trim put in to frame out the windows
- recessed lights put in throughout the room
- an outlet installed in the floor under the sofa
- changed out the chandelier for a fan I brought over from the last house

The room is naturally divided into two spaces. This is my client meeting space:

The only things in the above photo that I brought over from my last home office space were the sofa, the framed photo next to the door, the red vase, the albums and some of the stuff in the red cabinet. Everything else is new and picked specifically for this space. Since I know you'll probably ask, here is a list of where I got the furniture:

Found Boutique Store - tufted chairs & bombay chest
Crate & Barrel - red glass-front cabinet
Overstock.com - red leather ottoman
Pottery Barn - rug, black end tables, lamps and fabric for yellow pillows

I fell in love with these tufted chairs and they determined a lot of the other choices for the space.

I love that the room afforded me plenty of wall space for large canvases:

The thing that took the longest was deciding what to hang on the walls! I finally hung the eight small canvases on either side of the red cabinet Friday!

The other space at the far end of the room is our workspace. I brought everything in this space over from the last house except one little additional section to the desk. I love how the red accent wall book-ends the room in red (the opposite wall has the red cabinet) and really draws your eye to the shelves of photos.

I outfitted the windows with these custom wood blinds from Home Depot:

Dixie loves the office because one of the windows is the perfect height for her to keep an eye on the neighborhood:

I can't believe how much work went into this room but it was definitely worth it! I love how it turned out!

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Brandon & Ali's album design

We are back from WPPI - loved seeing many of you there! It was a whirlwind trip and while I loved every minute, I'm glad to be back home with my Dixie dog.

I'm so excited to share another fabulous album design with you! Brandon and Ali were married Saturday and this album design really tells the story of their amazing day. Click here to see the full design! And keep in mind that the finished album is much larger -- 10 x 14 inches in size.

Note to photographers: If you need help getting YOUR album designs done fast, click here to find out how you can purchase my templates!

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Weddings by MJ

Brandon & Ali

Brandon and Ali were married Saturday. They met in the 3rd grade.

In search of a home church, Ali and her family visited Northwest Chinese Baptist Church. While the 3rd grade girls kindly welcomed Ali into their group, the same could not be said for the boys...in particular, a chubby kid named Brandon, who would constantly taunt her and tease her in front of all the other boys and girls. When Ali's parents asked if she wanted to make Northwest her home church, she firmly refused. All because of Brandon. The family moved on, eventually calling another church home.

A few years later, when Ali was fifteen, she attended a visitation to support her best friend Adam, whose grandmother had just passed away. During the visitation, Adam introduced her to his now handsome and athletically built first-cousin named Brandon. Immediately Ali recognized Brandon as that little boy who absolutely terrorized her childhood. Without even thinking, she started off the conversation by blurting out the question: "Did you used to be chubby?" A bit caught off guard and startled, Brandon let out a sigh and replied "yes". Ali proceeded to remind Brandon of how mean he used to be, how he constantly terrorized her, how he used to always make fun of her, and how he was the reason why she had to leave Northwest. With grace, subtlety, and a slight sense of humor, Brandon kindly pointed out to Ali the inappropriateness of her timing considering the unfortunate circumstances that had reunited them. Adam's late grandmother was also Brandon's grandmother.

Ali felt terrible and Brandon was kind and gracious. He recognized Ali's innocent intentions, and the two kindly exchanged apologies...for past and present offenses.

Five years later, Brandon and Ali would be reacquainted once again at a summer Youth Camp where they both served as Jr. high counselors. It was there that Brandon says he fell in love with Ali "spiritually" after observing her love for her campers and her heart for prayer, while Ali says that it was there that she realized that Brandon was the funniest person she had ever met. A friendship was formed.

Over the next year, whenever Ali returned home from college during the holidays, they would see each other at various hangouts and get-togethers allowing them to get to know each other better.

In the summer of 2008, when Brandon received an offer to work for ESPN in Connecticut, Ali would be the first person he called. And when Ali needed help picking out a new car, Brandon would be the person she called. There at the Tempe Honda dealership they talked for hours...sharing their fears and anxieties about their respective futures and what God had in store for their lives.

That day, the two agreed that they would live each day to the fullest. That they would enjoy every moment of that summer. One of the first things they decided to do was to join a few of their friends for a road trip to Six Flags Magic Mountain. At Six Flags, Brandon pretended to feel sick just so he could stay with Ali whose stomach couldn't handle all the rides. By the time they had returned home, Brandon and Ali were in love.

Even though they were just one month away from going their separate ways - with Ali returning to UC Berkley and Brandon headed to Connecticut- and even though everyone thought they were crazy for considering a long-distance relationship, they decided that summer to make it official and commit themselves to one another.

Being 2,600 miles apart with a three hour time difference, Brandon and Ali's first year together consisted of 8 coast-to-coast round-trip flights, 4 hours a day talking on the phone, and thousands of text messages. After a year, Ali graduated from UC Berkeley and was accepted into the University of Connecticut for graduate school. That June, exactly one year into their relationship and after 15 years of knowing one another, Brandon and Ali were reunited once again in Connecticut. They have been inseparable ever since.

It was such a blessing to be a part of Brandon and Ali's wedding day. It is clear that God brought them together and it was so fun to be a witness to the joy of this day.

The morning started with the girls getting ready. How cute is this hanger Ali found on Etsy?

Ali was SUCH a stunning bride. I love her Lazaro gown:

It rained all day Saturday except for a small window of time during which Brandon and Ali saw each other for the first time and we walked around the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale for their portraits.

Again with the stunningness:

These two had so much fun with their day:

Brandon's guys were a fun bunch:

Love these cuff links Brandon's sister got him. He's a huge Star Wars lover. I think he only wore them at the reception but what a fun personal touch!

Even though it started raining part way through portraits Ali wasn't fazed and managed to stay dry and warm:

Ali and her girls:

We took a limo to Valley View Bible Church - the site of the ceremony. Love this shot of Ali in the limo:

The ceremony was emotional, worshipful and personal.

Brandon started crying on the way down the aisle. It was such a sweet moment.

Before walking her down the aisle, Ali's father prayed with her at the back of the church:

The pastor read Ali & Brandon's story.

Rings were exchanged.

And they were pronounced husband and wife!

After returning to the Fairmont, Ali changed into a traditional Chinese dress and we took a couple quick portraits:

The reception details were beautiful. I love the pops of color that the yellow and navy provided. (Flowers by Petal Pusher.)

The first dance:

And I love these shots from the cake cutting:

Congratulations Brandon & Ali! I wish you a lifetime of amazing memories!

To see even more photos from this amazing day, click here to see the slideshow!

I also wanted to give a shout-out to Jennifer Thye of Imoni Events who was the planner for this wedding. She did an amazing job coordinating all the moving parts and enabled Ali to enjoy the day stress-free.

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MJ's Camera Bag


Scott & Megan's engagement shoot

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Last night I got together with Scott and Megan for their engagement shoot. These two met in Boston and live in Baltimore. They love city life. So we met up in downtown Phoenix and hopped on the light rail. It was actually my first time riding it! We had a blast shooting on the train and also got off at a few stops along the way. Here are some of my faves from this fun shoot:

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Love this coffee shop we found:

Coffee shop engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

Phoenix Light rail Engagement

We wrapped up the shoot at Postino's with some wine and dinner.

wine engagement

Such a great shoot you two! Can't wait for the wedding!

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Album Design Templates



This week Dixie and I had some new roomies move in. Gina and Marcus are dear friends of mine who are in between homes. They needed a place to stay for a week or so and Dixie and I are THRILLED to have them. They came with this cute little package named Paisley:

Paisley is part Boston Terrier part spaz. She bounces off the walls and won't hold still long enough for me to pet her. I wish her and Dixie could be BFF but instead I often catch Dix looking and Paisley like, "What ARE you?"

Gina said we needed a family photo today so Sara kindly took these for us in the backyard. Fun times.

I secretly wish I could live in a commune with married people and dogs. And single people. No kids. Just dogs and adults.

And I'd like to decorate it.

That's my dream.

Thankful today for friends.

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