Wednesday, December 10, 2014

christmas is all around us

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I feel like the clock speeds up in December. I want to soak in every little bit of Christmas and yet the days fly by and disappear. 

We have been busy in our household - we finally got the motivation and courage to fix a mistake we made when we first renovated our house - our kitchen floor. So, while decorating for the holidays (and dealing with the temporary mess that always comes with that) we also decided to tear up our kitchen floor, which means half of our kitchen is now in the dining room. Let’s hope the the new wood floors we ordered arrive soon! 

These pictures show some of our small Christmas accomplishments - picking out a tree and putting up our lights. Billy is such a great sport - he doesn’t bat an eyelash when I tell him that the lights need to go to the very-very top. I hope we’ll be ready for the holidays soon, because they’ll be here before we know it! 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

advent calendars

Thursday, November 27, 2014
December is finally here, which means it's time to bring out the bells, decorate the mantle and trim the tree and start opening up tiny treats and surprises on your advent calendar. Our advent calendar is cute garland with small envelopes that I love to put up - each day opening up a note that inspires an activity. Here are a few wonderful ideas to DIY your own - and if you're not feeling crafty, a few store-ready ones are below too! 

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Not in the DIY mood? Here are a few you can buy that are ready for the season! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

gift guide: for him

Monday, November 24, 2014
It’s that time of year again. Where I can shop to my heart’s content! One of the things I start thinking about very early is gifts I can get for the guys in my life: my husband, dad, brothers and brother-in-laws; the list is a long one. Men aren’t always the easiest to shop for, and I pride myself on being a good gift giver, always trying to think of something both practical and thoughtful. Here are a few of the ideas I have swimming around in my head.

These shot glasses make it clear what you're getting yourself into.

Soundfreaq has amazing sound and equally amazing aesthetic.

My husband has more opinions about soap than I do, so I know he would love Kiehl's Starter Kit for men.  He could try out a few products before picking a favorite, or two.

Gentleman's Playing card that are good for a hand of poker and tips on etiquette for the 21st-century gentleman. (Not a gentlemen? Try Cards Against Humanity)

These cedar-filled shoe inserts from naturally deodorize and dry  his hardworking boots. 

This handkerchief set is inspired by the night sky and is plain beautiful. The perfect gift for the Moon of your life.

I certainly wouldn't mind having this vintage styled Bluetooth and AM/FM radio sitting on a bookshelf, and I don't think he would either.

The softest Reindeer socks are a great introduction to both cashmere and style.

Because everyman with an inner chef in him needs a rugged, cast iron skillet.

Cashmere Cable-knit sweater: so he looks good and feels good too.

Aviator RayBan Sunglasses: Classic, stylish, practical = everyman's dream

This wallet is a classic style made of genuine leather and it comes with free monograming.

pssst. I'll be doing a variety of gift guides Christmas list making this week so stay tuned for lots of ideas. There are lots of gift ideas on my 2014 holiday gift guide! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

best sites for designing holiday cards

Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Well it's that time of year again! We are madly dashing to get our holiday photos done (not the simplest of duties since it gets dark early and rains somewhat often here). Remember that ordering takes a week or so, so plan in advance! We'll be ordering ours as soon as possible to take advantage of all the deals offered this time of year. Check the websites for the most recent deals, they change weekly. 

Paperless Post   

$82 for 50 ($92.50 with foil)

Features: gold foil (+), custom liners (+), return address option (+), no added logos

Despite it's name, Paperless Post certainly does paper, and they do it well. We went through them last year and were delighted with our cards. This year, like many companies, they've added gold foil options. Plus, you can also buy the digital version for those recipients who appreciate the speediness and efficiency of emailed cards or to cut down on mailing costs. We also found them to be one of the most affordable, without cutting quality. Note the price does not include an envelope. There's an option to add envelopes (they work out to be about $1 each), and they automatically come with envelope liners and return addresses. I actually think its a nice opportunity to buy your own envelopes and not be automatically charged. 


$108 for 55 ($127 with gold foil)

Features: gold foil (+), Unique Shapes (+), Free Addressing, Envelope liners (+)

Minted is one of the best in the business. They feature a ton of designs, often from independent artists, so there's a ton of variety. Their extras are often quite luxurious (gold glitter liner, anyone?) and can tempt you into spending an extra dime or two. There is a plethora of backer options (add more photos or write something personal - this does cost more money), personally I prefer to make use of this blank real-estate when given the option. Holiday orders come with self addressing in a lot of cute styles for free, you can also add return addressing for a small fee - this is worth a ton in my opinion. Envelopes are included and for a small charge you can upgrade to Kraft or silver envelopes. If you have the means, this is the best option.

Tiny Prints

$112 for 50 ($130 for Gold foil and $190 for Letterpress)

Features: laser cut printing (+), foil options (+), letterpress (+), envelope customization (+), unique shapes (+)

pssst - great deal - 50% off on Gilt City 

Tiny Prints has so many options including Letterpress! They also have coordinating items so you could potentially have your gift tags match your card design. Pretty cool! The big downside for me is that there is no way to get rid of the Tiny Prints logo on the back - I don't want to pay for their advertising, especially if I'm spending a chunk of change to begin with and I don't want anyone to easily look up how much we spent on card designs etc. I prefer some mystery. But they do have a ton of designs and also a ton of deals going on, this option might be the best bang for you buck! Maybe some strategically placed Washi tape could cover the logo?


$94 for 50 ($144 for foil; $150 for tri-fold)

Features: gold foil (+), addressing(+), delivery service(+) 

Shutterfly has many beautiful options for holiday cards. I especially love the option for them to address or send the cards for you for a no-hassle holiday card experience. Again, there's the logo issue on the back - you can't seem to be able to select a design or option to eliminate this. Am I the only one bugged by this? 

Simply to Impress

$60 for 50 cards ($87 for foil)

Features: gold foil (+), photo retouching(+), addressing(+), mailing(+) 

I haven't yet had the opportunity to use Simply to Impress, but I love how easy the site interface is, they have many beautiful designs and have a lot of price points to work with. At $60 for 50 these are the most affordable of the options and they include envelopes. Price just includes a front of a card, but for more money, you can add backer options (which include a logo...) that also doubles the thickness of the paper used, too. Envelopes are included at every price point, but customization for photo liners is limited. There's even an option for designers to check photo quality before printing and they can even retouch your photos for you (you'll get a proof to sign off on). Oh, and don't want the hand cramp that comes with writing addresses, they'll do that for you, and mail them too, for a small fee.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

christmas photo ideas for couples

Thursday, October 23, 2014
Last year we were blessed that we were able to use a wedding photo for our holiday card. This year, we'll have to put some thought into a Christmas photo! Here are a few holiday-inspired shoots that say "we are a family of two," well, three plus dog! Cards take a week or two to print and mail (if you're going through sites like minted or paperculture) , and there's another week or two while I address and write notes, meaning we need to do this soon to get them out before the Holidays are over! I'd be so interested to hear what other's Christmas card timeline looks like, so please share! 

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