Our Week in Photos: Cooking Through Colorado

Boreas Pass Road 907

On Monday, Andy and I drove the rest of the way home from spending a week and a half in Colorado.

With two back to back competitions in Colorado, Andy and I thought we’d make a vacation out of it and spend the week in between at my aunt and uncle’s in the beautiful town of Dillon, just a short drive from Brekenridge.

I just love the beauty of this state—especially during the start of autumn, and after you see these photos, you’ll totally understand why!

We started the trip winning 5th place at the Grand Junction Pork and Hop’s BBQ competition in Grand Junction.

rooftop bbq pork and hops grand junction competition

This was my first time actually competing with Andy, as his sous chef. I still think I did only 5% of the work though!

We then drove the few hours into the mountains to my aunts where we cuddled babies, played at the local playground (the neighbor’s front yard, haha), celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary, and drove Boreas Pass Road to see the aspen trees turning their leaves into glorious autumn colors.

donovan dillon colorado newborn photography evelyn dillon colorado 1 year photography

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We even got to drive down into Denver for a day and visit my favorite bookstore, The Tattered Cover.

tattered cover denver colorado

And then just this past weekend, we competed at the BBQ festival in Telluride. Where we got to camp out in Mountain Village… but spent the afternoon down in the town eating Thai food and mini donuts. You would never know from these photos that a giant storm just blew through (and would come again later that night).

telluride street view teddys mini donuts telluride telluride mountain village gondola

Then Sunday, our team won Reserve Grand Champion—before starting the drive back to California! It was a great ending to a glorious week!

rooftop bbq telluride festival competition

road to telluride colorado sunset

How Andy Proposed, Reflecting Back 8 Years

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Yesterday marked our 7 year wedding anniversary, so today marks our 8 year proposal anniversary! That’s something to celebrate right?

Read how Andy and I met, our MySpace fairytale here.

I thought I’d take today to share how Andy proposed, because I just love this story!

Once upon a time…

Toward the end of the summer of 2006, Andy and I knew that we would be getting married in the next year or so—even before he proposed. So when he suggested checking out the chapel at the Christian camp that he and all our friends grew up attending, I didn’t think anything of it! We drove the 5 hours up to the Sequoias for my first ever visit to Quaker Meadow—the camp where so many lives had been changed and pledged to Christ. I was really excited to just see this beautiful place in person!

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Taken by our friend David who got us into the camp, before we went on our little hike.

After checking out the chapel and some of the other grounds, we took a mini hike, more of a walk, out to Inspiration Point—a view point where you can see quite a big tree filled canyon.

As we are walking around out there and climbing on the rocks, I thought to myself for the briefest of instances, “man, this would be a great spot to propose!” That thought then left my mind as quickly as it came.

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I still had no idea what was to come.

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Our last selfie photo as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Our last selfie photo as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Minutes later, I was shocked and overjoyed with surprise when Andy then got down on one knee to ask me to marry him by saying something along the lines of “here is where I dedicated my life to Christ, and now I dedicate myself to you.”

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Notice the drastically increased joy in our smiles in our first selfie photo as fiances!

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Of course, I said yes!



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Nothing much has changed in the last 8 years, as even back then I felt the impulse to document every moment of our lives, down to the dirt Andy knelt in to propose!

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As we were walking back, I remember looking back and thinking, that’s where we just got engaged…. Oh my gosh, we are engaged!

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And lastly, calling the parents from the camp phone! Thanks again David, semi shown below, for taking us up to camp!!

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Thank you Andy for 7 marvelous wedded years together, looking forward to all that’s to come!

DIY Wall Art from Modified Shanty-2-Chic Tutorial

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Hi all! I am so excited to share this most recent project with you guys… but first a little background on our little group.

In January a few of my closest girlfriends and I started a monthly craft night. What started as a “learning to sew” group has now grown into a more general craft night. First we crafted aprons, which was so fun and my first ever project hand sewn by me! Since I don’t cook very often, so far I’ve only worn it making cookies for Super Bowl! ha! Then the next month we made curtains. I can not wait to show you how those came out, I made them for the office which is SO close to being done!

Okay okay, so then in March we decided to have a 2 night craft project, making the wooden wall art from Shanty-2-Chic, that we had made for Amie’s wedding.

Harvard Photography love wooden sign

The first night, we stained our boards, cut out stencils for the letters, and learned how to make the fabric flowers (tutorial here).

Some behind the scenes iPhone photos…

@jessica_rose_20 sneak peek @samallencreates sneak peek

Those pesky flowers sure took way more time than any of us predicted! My board alone has over 130 flowers and each one takes about 5 minutes to assemble. Ugh, don’t try to do the math there!

But it was totally worth it!!

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Of course, I wanted to try to do a different kind of design than the LOVE, something that was more unique to my husband and me—since it was going in our bedroom. I kept playing around with “established ’07” designs but was just not loving it. Then my friend Lauren reminded me of our first dance song “Me And You” by Kenny Chesney. Which then inspired me to create the board based on my beloved ampersand (&) sign. And let me tell you, I absolutely looooooove this project!!

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The next night, when we all got together with quite a few flowers completed, we laid out our stencils on our nice dry boards and painted out the designs. Once that was dry, we started to add our flowers, but none of us finished that night as we had a ways to go with our flowers. But it was so fun over that next week seeing the girls complete their boards.

Trisha's LOVE wood art

Lauren was smart and chose to not have flowers at all, and I love how simple yet just as gorgeous and rustic hers came out! She also decided to do something different for her board. And I was so happy to hand letter the “love” for her!

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With all that to say, hope you love how our boards came out! Here are some freebies for you, PDFs of all 4 of the designs you see above!

– the sanserif LOVE based on the Shanty-2-Chic original

– Amie’s serifed LOVE

– Lauren’s Love from a 1 John verse

– and my You & Me design

And I’ll end this post with a fun “I just finished and I’m so proud of this project” iPhone photo, taken late at night while I was crafting in my jammies!

@samallencreates done

Photographing My Best Friend’s Proposal

When Matt sent me a text message on the Thursday before Christmas I just knew what it would entail. He was about to propose to my best friend. What started as a discussion on the where and when turned into the who and what as well. I would be starting Amie’s morning with breakfast and coffee with a walk down to the Orange Circle where her darling boyfriend would be awaiting her with a ring in hand.


Of course, several minute details of the day caused several mishaps like Matt falling asleep after his night shift and barely making it in time to propose and Amie having one of the many colds of the winter season. Those small “almost missed the moment” moments will add the depth every good proposal story needs.


I will always remember the day as the morning I cried on the phone with my mom as I drove to Orange County in the anticipation of the day.  The morning I drank too much coffee to stall the soon to be bride before the [so far] best moment of her life. The morning I got to witness, and photograph, when my best friend’s man of her dreams got down on one knee with their dog in tow. And the morning where she said yes.


Amie calling her family to spread the great news!

Thank you Matt for making my best friend of the happiest girls in the world. And thank you for allowing me to be a part of that oh so special morning in Orange.


P.S. In the craziness of the morning and a case of the common proposal nerves along with the urgency of keeping hidden until the last moment, Matt is disguised dressed like a homeless man. 😉 Everyone keeps asking that so I might as well say that here and now as well.

How I Met My Husband, A Myspace Fairytale

Once upon a time, eight years ago to be exact, I received a Myspace message from a prince from a far away land. Actually one land over from po-dunk Wildomar. I mean, a land flowing with DeJongs Dairy milk and home to the Tigers.

I had just graduated from high school a mere five months earlier when I received this random Myspace message from a guy named Andy Allen. A 22 year old at that!

I had briefly chatted with him in person after my senior portrait session at his work, he was a pretty quiet guy but I definitely remembered him! To this message I replied, and after a few messages about MSJC’s multimedia design program, the lengths began to dwindle from there and then a few weeks went by without a whisper.

Then I had an amazing revelation at a church youth event that changed my life… I then very cooly posted about it on my Myspace blog. Really, I was that cool of a girl. Thankfully, Christ was then brought into mine and Andy’s relationship as he commented on the post sharing his passion for mission work. From there Andy invited me to his college group bible study. I never would have just gone and met him if it wasn’t for our mutual friend Lindsey who was in town over Christmas break and we went together.

Then just before Christmas, Lindsey and I both got Disneyland passes to join the group on their adventures. (betcha thought I have been crazy over Disneyland my whole life huh ;))

We may have started as random acquaintances with graphic design in common, with a reconnection via Myspace over 8 months later, we finally built a foundation as friends with Christ as at the center.

Another month later, I truly got my side of life figured out and after just a couple rejections (sorry Andy!), I finally said yes and we became… boyfriend and girlfriend on January 15, 2005. Awwww…

And the story continues….

Lauren and Kellen’s Engagement Photos in the Woods, Menifee

Well the wedding came and went in a whirlwind of fun and laughter. Now Andy and I are in cloudy and cold Washington enjoying a much needed vacation while Kellen and Lauren are enjoying a sunny ocean filled honeymoon in Hawaii. Before too much more time has past, I wanted to share a few photos I took of the almost married couple for their wedding invitation.

We only needed one photo for the RSVP card so we were there and gone within 15 minutes if not less than that! Here’s the photo side of their RSVP card, I will share more of the invitation (and hopefully some wedding photos) next week too.

And here’s two more that didn’t make the cut for the RSVP card but I still just loooooove how they came out!

Ah! I seriously just adore them! Mr. & Mrs. Wagoner I mean… 🙂 Okay okay, I adore the way the photos came out too!

See ya next week!

Courtney and Andrew’s Maternity Photos | Canyon Lake, California

One of my oldest and dearest friend’s is having a baby in just a little over a month and I CAN NOT WAIT! I am so excited! Courtney and Andrew are going to be amazing parents! They love their little Jameson so much already and Andrew may be one of the most excited man I have ever seen to be a dad. The way he looks at Courtney is so genuinely sweet and he would just randomly reach over and rub her growing belly throughout the evening, even when I wasn’t asking him to. Courtney and Andrew have been together since Courtney and I were sophmores in high school. Since then, Courtney and I went to junior college and then both attended Cal State San Bernardino together, majoring in graphic design. Throughout it all, Andrew was there by her side, being her biggest supporter and encourager. Then, two years ago, I was a bridesmaid in their wedding and got to stand up with them when they pledged to love each other forever. And here we are, awaiting their first child. So needless to say, I feel like we’ve all been waiting for this moment for 10 years! And now you’ve been waiting to see the photos and all I’ve been doing is blabbing, so without further ado, here is Jameson’s parents, happy as can be…

Jameson’s room will be nautical themed so we wanted to photograph on a dock. Canyon Lake was an easy choice, and a local place, with a dock. Thank you J Rose Photography for also suggesting the Canyon Lake Lodge as a second location to Holiday Harbor, and for helping plan the timing of the session.

These next few are my favorite!

Courtney, you are beautiful!

Courtney and Andrew, I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. Hope you’re enjoying your babymoon!

I Choose Dumplings

For over a month, I pestered my husband. Well I know I pester him a lot more than that. But for the past month, I specifically pestered him to make me a homemade seafood dinner on my birthday. He flat out refused. To me, him making me seafood—a food group he downright despises—would mean he loves me. He cares for me. His sacrifice of cooking such a food, would mean he unselfishly loves me and would do anything for me.

Andy has known since the beginning of our relationship that the way to my heart is through food. I just love food. All food. It’s disgusting really. But he learned and memorized—before we had even become official—exactly how I order at every fast food place. A task that only my mother could do. When he first recited to me how I would get a burrito with no tomato, extra sauce, and xyz at Taco Bell and then go on to tell me how I order a burger at In-n-Out and then what I would get at McDonalds, I knew two things: 1, I eat out way to much; and 2, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with someone who took notice of these little details of my life.

Back to today, I was deeply offended that he would not make me seafood. Didn’t he love me, I asked myself. Then, last week, on a night that I thought I was coming down with the flu and had come home early from work and everything… he called to say he was making homemade chicken and dumpling soup. Because I was sick. Because I needed him to take care of me. Because he loves me. And even after all my ranting about some dumb birthday dinner, and after he worked late at a photo shoot, and after running to the store and getting home after 7, he made me dinner.

No, I do not need a seafood dinner on my birthday. But I do need a husband who will stick by me even when I make selfish demands. I need a husband who will take care of me in sickness and in health. I need Andy.

So whatever he chooses to make for my birthday dinner… I choose dumplings.


A Moment: Our Disneyland Stone

Tomorrow is our 4 year wedding anniversary which means 4 years ago today, was our wedding rehearsal. After our rehearsal at the church, we all caravanned to my friend Brittany’s house, a house that I have known since I was 6 years old. Her backyard was always the host of special occasions… from Girl Scout camp outs, to my dream wedding (that I had to plan for a high school psychology class), to the annual fourth of July party, to my bridal shower, and then for the rehearsal dinner. Their backyard was transformed with twinkling lights and candlelit wine bottles. It was there that Andy and I saw each other for the last time before becoming husband and wife. It was also there where we were given one of our most treasured gifts.

After giving my bridesmaids their gifts, they then gave me mine. As I opened the card, my eyes instantly went to the slip of paper inside with a photo on it. A photo of the ground. The ground at Disneyland. A stone in the esplanade between the parks. A stone that will have our names on it as a part of Disney history. And then the following photo moment happened….

And then I cried. And cried. The ugly cry. Why? Because my friends know me so well and gave me a gift that I can enjoy every time I go to Disneyland. A gift that I take to heart in so many ways. It was truly the perfect gift ever. It not only is at my favorite place ever, but it is engraved with mine and Andy’s names and wedding date and it reminds me of my bestest friends, friends who know me and love me so very much. Thanks ladies!!!!!!

Do you have a stone at Disneyland? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to go find it next time I’m there!

P.S. I have heard that they are no longer making these stones which is a sad sad thing.

Happy Birthday Mama!

Happy birthday to the bravest,

most determined, woman I know who is the strength and soul of our family.
Who always looks to the positive side of things, who dares us to dream, who has unwavering faith in things not seen.


Her children rise up and call her blessed;
Her husband also, and he praises her.
Proverbs 31:2