Category Archives: Personal

A Look Back at 2014

These didn’t quite make it in our Christmas Cards this year, but I still wanted to share a few of the highlights from our year.
Julius Family Highlights-2014


Three months later…

Yes, I realize that my poor little blog has been neglected for three months and is in need of a much overdue update (I have pretty good reasons, though…just keep reading)!

I’ll save most of the smaller updates for later posts, but get the big news out there!

I guess I will start with the big news first…John and I are expecting!!!  We shared the good news with immediate family right away when we found out in July and just broke the news to extended family and friends and pretty much the entire Facebook world with this cute little video.  We are due March 15, 2012 and get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl in just three weeks – on October 7.   We’re having a gender reveal party the following Saturday, so you will have to come back after that to find out if Baby Julius will be sporting pink or blue!

Another huge answer to prayer happened right around the same time we found out we were expecting – I got a full-time job offer (and accepted, of course)!  I’m working at a private Christian university as an Administrative Assistant and most of my time has been spent planning and coordinating a retreat for the faculty of the department I work in.  It’s a definite change in environment from my previous position, but I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone that I work with and throughout the University.

We’ve also done some work on the house, including new furniture, converting my office to a guest room (and soon to a nursery) and some landscaping, as well as marking a few more items off on my 101 list and just plain relaxing (growing a baby is a lot of work!).

Stay tuned for more on these other updates as well as Baby Julius’ progress over the next 6 months (and beyond)!

The Busy Birthday Month

I don’t know any statistics on the most popular month for births, but with our friends and family, it was the month of June, especially in 2010, which translated to a slew of first birthday parties this month.  We had a total of four parties to attend this month (and there were still others who had small family parties or were too far to travel).  Because of the large number of June babies, we had to find an economical gift for everyone. It’s so easy to spend a lot on cool toys or trendy clothes (but neither were in our budget), so I decided to make the gifts.

Since I’m a photographer and had taken photos of many of the babies (or was going to be soon), I thought photo frames with the child’s name would be a perfect gift. I got the wooden frames at Michael’s and a package of letters from Wal-Mart. I painted the frame white and then chose colors based on the parents and the birthday baby and loved the results!

They were a huge hit with the recipients and almost all of them put the frame up to their face when they opened it! And I’m sure they will have plenty of photos to fill the frame for many years! I’m definitely keeping this economical personalized gift in mind for the future!



Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers and father-figures…and especially to my dad! Thanks for all you do!

Green with Envy

For at least six months, I have been wanting a camera bag that doubles as a purse. I love taking my camera with me places, but I’ve always disliked lugging around a camera bag along with my purse, or trying to stuff my personal stuff into a small compartment on the camera bag. I fell in love with a Jo Totes bag, but couldn’t afford it, until my birthday when I got some cash from John’s family! Finally!

I ordered my Rose bag in Moss and waited anxiously for the package to arrive. It did not disappoint!

The box arrived on a Saturday morning, so it was waiting on my front step when I got up, the box announcing there was a special delivery inside!

After carefully opening the box, I found my bag lovingly wrapped in another protective bag, declaring the goodness that awaited inside!

I finally had my first glimpse and my new tote (sidenote…I messed up the color on this image…the color in the next two photos is much more accurate)

And here it is, in all its glory!

And of course, we can’t forget the inside fabric! The bag game with 5 separate dividers – I tried to figure out how to use them all, but didn’t need more than 3, but it’s great knowing I have them if I do end up needing them someday when I have more gear.

So, there it is! I’ve used it once so far – but only to my parents’ house. It will be getting lots of use the rest of this month at several birthday parties and photo shoots, so be on the lookout for it to pop up in the future!

P.S. I wasn’t paid or otherwise compensated for this post. I’m just super excited about my new camera bag!










Birthday Recap

My birthday celebrations ended up being about 3 weeks long this year (not continuous)!

The celebrations started on May 14 with a visit from John’s dad and brother to celebrate both my birthday as well as his brother’s birthday (his was the 9th). We BBQ’d burgers and I made this yummy strawberry lemon cake with whipped cream frosting (the cakes were from a box…I made the whipped cream).

They gave me a generous monetary gift that I used, along with a gift from John’s grandma, toward the purchase of a Jo Totes bag I’ve been wanting for a while (more on that soon!). I also got a year-long subscription to Better Homes & Gardens from John’s grandma – and got the first magazine and notification in the mail!

The following day we had a great opportunity to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, courtesy of one of my friends who works there, to participate in an exclusive cast preview of the new Star Tours (amazing!). I was so excited when she invited us because with just 5 days until my birthday, I could count this as my annual birthday trip to Disneyland and collect another birthday pin (this is my fourth birthday pin!), even though this was the first year we haven’t had passes to go! Thanks Alyssa and Jeremy!

The next stop on the birthday celebration schedule was my actual birthday. John left me a beautiful bouquet of red and white roses he clipped from our backyard bushes before he left for work (which is really early in the morning). I was able to enjoy them all day until he got home and we could head out for birthday dinner.

He gave me a choice of going to either Chile’s or Chipotle. I chose Chile’s because I love their Cajun Shrimp Alfredo…or I used to. I must say, I was a bit disappointed. They seem to have changed their menu and some of their recipes. I left after dinner wishing I had chosen Chipotle instead!

When we arrived back home, it was time for presents (finally!). I was excited to open one of John’s gifts to me – Tangled! I loved this movie when we saw it in theaters and I’m working on completing my Disney Classics and Pixar collections, so this was the perfect gift. He also got me a new eye piece for my camera since I had lost the soft rubber party in San Francisco last October! He had put it on my camera and I hadn’t even noticed when I was taking pictures of our green wall in the kitchen!

The next day was a farewell party for my cousin and her family who moved to Utah for a job opportunity and since we didn’t have plans to celebrate my birthday with my family for another week, I asked my mom if she could bring my gift to this party since I already knew what I was getting and I wanted to start playing with it. She agreed and I was so excited to start using my f/1.8 lens! I can’t wait to use it on photo shoots and in indoor situations when my regular kit lens doesn’t allow enough light!

Here’s a few shots from the party that I took with this lens. I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s a fixed focal length (and I sometimes don’t have enough room to move back far enough!) and that when I have the aperture wide open, my depth of field is extremely narrow (as evidenced by this first photo of my cousin’s dog!).

The last part of my celebration was birthday dinner with my family on Memorial Day – my mom made my requested dinner of beef stroganoff, with something else for some of the others in my family since they don’t like it. My mom also made a pina colada cake (yum!), complete with 29 candles – yes, lots of candles!

After cake, it was present time. At this point, I had just one gift left to open since John gave me his on my actual birthday, my parents had given me theirs the weekend before, and my sister had ordered my Food Network magazine renewal back in April to make sure I didn’t miss an issue (I still did…not sure why, but I was rather disappointed!). Though I had just one gift to open (from my brother and his girlfriend), it definitely didn’t disappoint!
“Your Baby in Pictures” by Me Ra Koh! My mom had sent me a link to this book a while ago and I’ve had it on my wish list ever since, so I was very excited to get it! It’s a great resource for how to photograph the first year of a child’s life – complete with tips and techniques at various stages in a baby’s development. And no, we don’t have babies and aren’t expecting…yet, but this book will be a huge help in my photo shoots with everyone else’s babies that I’m photographing as I build my KatieJ Photography business.

So, with that, my 29th birthday came to an end – though I’m already looking ahead to next year and the big party I’m going to throw when I turn 30, provided I’m not super pregnant or have a very young newborn!

Here’s to the last year of being a 20-something!

















I’m Joining the Applause

I read about this on a blog I regularly follow (A Soft Place to Land) and absolutely love the idea and had to share!

On Saturday, June 25, a world-wide event is set to take place – to applaud our Creator – for the incredible world He has created. As an artist and photographer whose love of photography started in nature, this really hit me. How often do we really give praise to the Creator for His Creation – I mean really applaud Him for what He made? You don’t even have to be on a beach or up in the mountains during a beautiful sunset – just look at the grass in your backyard or the tree across the street – or your own intricate body. Words cannot even express how creative our God is! It’s mind-boggling!

So, will you Join the Applause on June 25 at sunset and express your praise, thanks and utter awe by applauding The Creator?

Twenty-Nine Years Ago…

My parents welcomed their first baby (ME!) into the world at 10:03 a.m.

Here’s one of the very first photos of me, just a few hours old!
(Please pardon the quality…it is 29-years-old and well before digital cameras!)

I have no major plans today…that I know of. I did wake up to a vase full of roses from our backyard from the hubby this morning. I’m looking forward to finding out what he’s got planned for dinner since I told him that he could either take me out or cook dinner at home – I wasn’t doing anything for dinner today.

I will celebrate with my family on Memorial Day (it’s so hard coordinating everyone’s schedules, especially with a sister gone to Chicago for a week!) and we celebrated with John’s dad and brother last weekend with a BBQ at our house. I like keeping it low-key this year, because I’m planning to have a HUGE party next year when I get to celebrate the big 3-0!

What do you do to celebrate your birthday? Do you keep it low-key or throw a huge birthday bash? What would be your ideal celebration of a milestone birthday (since I’m looking for ideas)?

New Beginnings

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA for almost a month now. Life’s been crazy (when isn’t it?) and blogging just wasn’t something that was a major priority for me in the midst of all that was happening.

But, I should be back for good now (at least once a week!), so for starters, I thought I’d let you all know what I’ve been up to!

Many of you know that my husband and I were house hunting most of February and early March. We had an offer accepted and opened escrow on the home on March 9. Just 21 days later, March 29, we became the owners of THIS home in Ontario (about 40 minutes from where we currently live) and I was able to check off #45 on my 101 in 1001 list!

I’m sure you’ll be reading more about all of our fun adventures of being homeowners, especially in the coming weeks as we do some work to the house (we’re currently in the process of removing the AWFUL popcorn “acoustic” ceilings throughout the ENTIRE house that I’m sure were a great selling point back when the house was built!).

Some rather shocking and sad new arrived just as we closed on the house – I was being laid off. I had a little bit of notice and began the job search right away, but still haven’t found what God has for me next. Prayers for guidance, trust and peace are much appreciated, if you’re a praying type of person.

The lay off has, however, given me some time to work on a project I’ve been wanting to launch for a few months now…my own photography business!

It’s been a lot of fun building a buzz around the new business and I actually have my very first shoot TOMORROW morning! I’ve always toyed with the idea of owning my own business, especially in photography, but felt like I just didn’t have the time or good enough equipment or enough talent to be successful. But, here I am! I know it will be a lot of work, especially the first couple years, but I know it’s something I will love doing and I AM good at! (If you want to check out the site and my work, just click on the logo above or find me on Facebook.)

So, that’s what’s kept me so busy the past few weeks – and all the new things that are ahead for me and my hubby (who has been super supportive, especially of the business endeavor – he’s sort of my advertising manager)! I’ve got lots more to catch you up on, so stay tuned! You’ll be seeing a lot more of me!

House Hunting, Part 3

WIt’s been a busy few weeks for the Julius family in the house hunting area, especially this past Tuesday…

But, before we get there, let’s go back to the “beginning” and share our journey so far.

We started our house search somewhat unintentionally when we learned my cousin was having to sell her home for an out-of-state move for a great job opportunity. Because of the state of the housing market, they had to short sell their home, and since we didn’t have a reason to hurry, we were fine with the potentially long process of a short sale. We went and looked at the home on February 7 with potential “buyer” eyes (I had been in the house many times for family holiday and birthday celebrations) and were excited with what we saw. However, after frantically securing a real estate agent and mortgage broker, but before submitting an offer, we learned that since we’re related, we can’t purchase the home (short sell rules to protect the bank, I guess). We were a bit bummed, but decided since we had now jumped in the deep end, we may as well start looking.

We met our Realtor the follow weekend and looked at a bunch of homes online with her and talked about what we were looking for in a house (see Part 1 for that list). We spent the next week reviewing all of the homes online and then headed out on our own the next Saturday (President’s Day weekend) to one area we were considering to narrow down our list so we could have our agent show us between 4 and 6 homes the following day. We saw some homes we liked and were interested in seeing the inside, but were disappointed on Sunday when we finally saw the inside of the homes we liked. There was nothing we wanted to put an offer on.

So, we spent our day off in another area we were considering narrowing down our choices and actually (thought we) fell in love with one home. There were 3 others we liked as well, so during the week, my dad went out with just me to look at the homes, and of course, seeing the inside of the homes changed our minds.  We ended up putting our first offer on one of the OTHER 3 homes we liked and were disappointed to discover there was a listing error regarding the price, but ended up countering with the seller several times before hitting a stalemate and hitting the road again to look at more homes.

We saw several more homes that last Saturday in February and really liked another home, put in an offer, only to discover it was termite infested and had lots of dry rot. So, it was off to looking at more homes in early March, found another home we liked, put in an offer and then…*chirp. chirp.* Nothing. We took the weekend off (it was a nice break from house hunting) and then looked at more this past Monday…and put yet another offer in Tuesday morning.

And thus began the day of major action for us! We got a counter back on the most recent offer. We learned the seller’s agent and our agent were working on a compromise to make a sale on the FIRST offer we made. We heard from the third house that there were multiple offers and we had to submit our best and final offer.

To make a long story short, we ended up agreeing to the terms of the offer we made on the very FIRST house and are now in escrow, which is scheduled to close on April 8!

So, what’s the house like?  Well, we’re not going to reveal EVERYTHING yet, but we’ll give you some hints.

Was it this 3-bedroom, 2-bath corner lot house with an extra large garage, but small backyard?

Was it this 3-bedroom, 2-bath corner lot with an in-process outdoor kitchen and new indoor kitchen?

Was it this 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in a quiet neighborhood with an extra large master suite with a walk-in closet and dual sinks on a large lot?

Or was it this 3-bedroom, 2-bath house on a corner lot of a cul-de-sac with lots of windows and a large nicely landscaped backyard?

Stay tuned to see which house is ours (once we close escrow, of course…no chicken counting yet!).