a summery pocket page layout


It's officially summer in New England - hot, muggy, only the slightest breeze - but today I'm over at Paislee Press sharing a layout from last summer in California using Liz's recently released digital kit, Summer Manifesto. I'm getting caught up on some layouts I skipped in Owen's baby album for the final push to finish it. Better late than never! You can catch up on my latest layout here or see some of my other pocket page posts here. Enjoy the summery post and please say hi over on Instagram!

15 Great Father's Day Cards


Father's Day always seems to sneak up on me, and I'm scrambling for a gift idea (probably something my father-in-law will return or shelve). The reality is that for Father's Day, a great card may be enough to make the dad you're celebrating feel really appreciated. If you're looking for an excuse to buy and send more than one card for Father's Day this year, think about the dads in your life that you admire: a brother-in-law, a grandpa, an old friend who's a great parent, or a new dad. I'm sure any of these guys would be thrilled to receive a little celebratory or appreciative message in the mail.



I'm sending cards to a few dads this month. Here are some of my favorites.

(1) Emily McDowell / She nails it every time. I ordered this one for my father-in-law and I love this one for an honorary dad or father-figure. Order this one for the guy who raised you.

(2) 1canoe2 / This one is for your dad, the scientist.

(3) Reyn Paper Co / Have a preppy dad who went to Vandy (or IS a Vandy)? This is your card.

(4) Sea and Lake / Love these ladies. My picks: sweet, snarky, right in-between.

(5)  Sapling Press / I love this one, plus hipster dad and outdoor dad (citronella reference for the win!).

(6) Moglea / One-up your sibling(s) with this card for Dad.

(7) Paper Source / Our kids are little, so I like this one and this one, which would come from me.

(8) Little Print Design / A simple and sweet Father's Day card for your classic dad.


Do you have any favorite Father's Day cards or resources for cards? Anyone out of the ordinary that you'll be acknowledging on Father's Day?

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Follow me on Pinterest for more Father's Day card and gift inspiration or on Bloglovin to make sure you're up-to-date on blog posts. On deck for next week: my (really) simple guide to thoughtful Father's Day gifts.

My Scrapbooking Story


Today is National Scrapbook Day. It's being celebrated all over the internet, on Instagram, on the blogs, and on manufacturers' websites. If you'd told me a few years ago that I'd be participating in this celebration, I'd have thought you were nuts. I was a graphic designer, not a scrapbooker. To me, scrapbooking wasn't cool or stylish and it definitely wasn't "me."


Until it was.


In 2011, I was pregnant with our first child and devouring literature on caring for a newborn. One of the most influential books I read was written by two female pediatricians (and moms). At the end of the book, in one of the last chapters, the authors gave some advice about photographing our kids. They basically suggested you have a plan going into this adventure for how you want to document it. What pictures do you want to make sure someone takes in the delivery room? Will you print photos or make a photobook? It goes so fast, they wrote, so it's a good idea to think ahead about what you want to do so you'll remember it well.


I started searching the internet for solutions and came across digital scrapbooking via Liz Tamanaha and this new, simplified form of scrapbooking via Becky Higgins. I loved Catherine Davis's blog, with her clean layouts and beautiful photos. I found kindred spirits, design-wise, in this incredibly diverse and talented and creative community, and I found friends along the way.


That first year of Ben's life, I took over 10,000 photos, and I documented those stories in a Project Life album. To this day, we love flipping through the pages. Ben loves flipping through them, pointing out his friends, his cousins, grandparents and his "old house" (we've since moved). Today, I'm perpetually playing catch-up on baby number two's album, but se la vie. It'll get done soon enough, and then we'll have his to enjoy as well.


I've come to regard "scrapbooking" or memory-keeping, documenting, whatever you want to call it, as a purposeful, challenging and really enjoyable creative outlet. I've learned along the journey how to take and edit photos, how to use my camera in manual mode, how to use Photoshop, how to mix patterns, how to tell better stories more succinctly. I'm now a contributor to the blog that first captured my attention and an instructor at Big Picture Classes, where I took my first class nearly four years ago with memory-keeping juggernaut Ali Edwards.


Perhaps most significantly, I've learned to document our family's story my own way, through simple layouts incorporating beautiful design, through minimalist photobooks filled with detailed stories and full-bleed photography. It's pushed me creatively in my work, designing custom stationery, and opened my circle online to this wonderful community of creative women. I'm so thankful for it. So today, I'm celebrating.


xo, 
Catherine

30 Ideas for Letters to Write and Send



This month I'm participating in the #write_on campaign with the goal of writing a letter a day for the month of April. It was really fun to see all the activity on Instagram this week, and I'm so happy to have a bunch of letter writing compatriots this month. If you're not convinced about the benefits of writing more letters, then check this out. If you are, but you're short on inspiration or just looking for some ideas for what to write, then read on. I've got a month's worth of letter-writing inspiration for you.



1. Write to a friend who's kiddo has an upcoming birthday. Tell her she's doing a great job.


2. Drop a couple of stickers / a bookmark / a journaling card (i.e. something light and flat) into an envelope with a little note and send off a mini-gift to a friend.


3. Send a note to someone you admire online (look for a PO Box on their website or email them and ask).


4. Write to a niece / nephew / friend's kiddo. Kids don't get enough mail!


5. Cut a recipe out of a magazine (or print one online) that you recently made and send it to your mom / aunt / grandma and let them know you thought they might like it.


6. Write a note to your kiddo's principal / teacher / head of school. Those folks get a lot more criticism and complaints than praise.


7. Write a note to your mail carrier and tape it to your mailbox. Do you know your carrier's name? I met ours (Terry) this winter, and now he always knocks if he's delivering something fun.


8. Write to someone far from home: traveling or living overseas, in the military, Peace Corps, on mission, etc.


9. Write to a grandparent with updates on your life.


10. Write to a friend you haven't seen in awhile.


11. Send a joke to your sister / brother / friend.


12. Buy a postcard in a local shop or drugstore and mail it to someone who's moved away to let them know your city / town misses them.


13. Write a note to your significant other and hide it in their car / bag / coat pocket. It took Nick like four days to find the last one I wrote him!


14. Send a note to celebrate an anniversary (figure out who in your family knows these dates!).


15. Check your calendar on Facebook - it should list your friends' birthdays. Send a card to someone this month who isn't expecting it.


16. Write to a family friend who knew you as a child. Let them know what's happening with you - maybe even enclose a recent photo of your family.


17. Send a note to a friend and enclose a stamped, addressed envelope or postcard to be sent back to you.


18. Write a note to someone you know who's pregnant and wish her well.


19. Celebrate a friend's recent accomplishment (running a half marathon, getting a promotion at work, etc).


20. Send another thank you for a gift you (or your kid) received letting the gifter know you're still using and loving it.


21. Write a thank you note to a doctor / dentist with whom you recently had a check-up thanking them for the visit.


22. Along those lines, write a note to a doctor you had to see awhile ago. Send them an update (Moms: I'll bet your OB would love to see a recent pic of that baby they delivered a few years ago!).


23. Send a note to your elementary school letting them know where you are today and what you're up to, or send a note to a specific teacher if they're still at the school.


24. Write to a co-worker or friend congratulating them on a recent professional accomplishment.


25. Send a new mom a note of encouragement.


26. Write (or email) someone who recently wrote an article or blog post you enjoyed.


27. Mail an old photo to someone - #tbt via snail mail (if they know what tbt is, then tell them to open it on Thursday!).


28. Buy a $5 gift card to a coffee shop and mail it to a friend.


29. Take one of the cards / pieces of stationery that has been sitting in your stash forever and send it to your best friend from high school.


30. Write a note to yourself. List all the things you want to have done this year. Seal it and write "open on new year's eve 2015" on the outside of the envelope. Tuck it in your night stand and put a reminder on your calendar for that day to check it. #motivation


Be sure to check out the write on campaign if you're interested in participating or my 350 letters project if you're new here. Are you up for writing more letters this month? Do you have any ideas for letters to write and send?

our story and my one piece of advice for new moms



Hi friends. We just made it through a big milestone - year one with our second baby - and I wanted to share a little of our story and a few thoughts for moms. The little guy in these photos is our second baby, our second boy. He arrived last year, and immediately I knew the second baby was different. He was just easier, and looking back, it was because I was easier going, more relaxed, more confident about the whole thing, even though it wasn't particularly easy at the beginning.

Owen in the hospital - day one / Hanging with an unshaven (and probably unshowered) Dad


When Owen was eight days old, I ran a high fever. When it reached 104 degrees around midnight, we called an ambulance. I thought perhaps I was run down, but after multiple tests in the ER, the doctor told me at 5:00 am that I'd be admitted. They didn't know what was wrong with me. Four days later, I went home, and a week later, I was back in the hospital. After two months on antibiotics, I finally regained my strength, kicked the multiple infections my body was fighting, and got on with it.

Holding Owen after my sister snuck him in to see me in the hospital / Heading home after three nights!


In the midst of this, we had to see multiple doctors, including a pediatric ear nose and throat specialist, because Owen had a persistent rattling sound when he breathed. It turns out he has a relatively benign condition characterized by loose soft tissue around his voice box. It was collapsing in on itself every time he took a breath. Um... that didn't sound good. But the docs reassured us that he was getting enough oxygen, so we accepted that and kept an eye on him. He should grow out of it by the time he's two. In the meantime, we live with a very noisy breather.


I tell you all this not to elicit sympathy (believe me, I know many people endure far worse stuff than this in the early months of parenting), but to set up the punchline. We dealt with things for which we were totally unprepared this year. And yet, the crazy thing to me is that when Nick and I look back on it, we think "wow, that wasn't so bad."

Watching him fall asleep - week one.


Why? Because once we got through our first year with our first baby, we knew there was an end in sight. We knew we'd get through it. We had confidence that we'd sleep again. We'd feel normal again. I'd feel like myself again. I didn't have that with my first. I had no idea if or when our lives would normalize. This time around, even given the health struggles and the craziness of those initial months, I knew that barring anything catastrophic, we'd get through it. We'd figure it out. We'd get the medical and emotional help we needed, lean on friends for meals and babysitting, and move forward. Everyone's different, but for me that perspective didn't come with the first baby - it came with the second.

Just snuggling - week one. This part really doesn't last long.


So my advice to new moms is always "hang in there." Because sometimes, when you're holding a baby who's crying so hard because his skin hurts (our first) or you're so sick that you have to be hospitalized multiple times (me with our second) or nursing is incredibly difficult (our first) or your baby has a scary medical condition (our second), the advice to "sleep when the baby sleeps!" or "it goes so fast, just enjoy it!" isn't particularly helpful. Babies are such unique little creatures. They need help for everything - sleeping, eating, being. And their caregivers have to do all of that for them! It's hard work, and it's really hard to have perspective when you're in the middle of it.

All dressed up for my best friend's nursing school graduation. Starting to feel human again. 8 weeks.


So if you're a mom on your own, or you're married but your husband is deployed, or you're home on maternity leave, or you're caring for an adoptive newborn - welcome to motherhood. It is all of the things they say it is: rewarding, fun, full of love and dynamism. But those early weeks and months? They're hard and exhausting. They're filled with uncertainty and, for some of us, anxiety. Yes, there are incredibly exciting and sweet moments, tenderness and joy. But if you feel like doing the dishes instead of napping when the baby naps, then by all means do it - just don't overdo it.


Give yourself a break and hang in there. Your house will eventually look like it once did and your friends don't care if there's clean laundry in piles all over your living room (congrats on doing any laundry at all). You will be able to sleep again. You will figure out the laundry situation. And the reason moms say "just enjoy it!" is because it really does go as fast as they say it will. You just may not know it in the moment (I didn't). So try to hang in there - if it's hard now, it will change. It will get easier.


If you've been through this yourself, I'd love to know what your advice is to new moms. For my part, I'll just leave it at hang in there. xo, Catherine

why I'm using project life as our baby album


Shortly before I had my first son, Ben, back in 2011, a friend of mine sent me this book. One of the chapters talked about baby photos. Two female pediatricians (and moms) wrote the book and basically said that you'll take thousands of pictures of your baby. Have a plan for what to do with them, or they'll live on your computer forever. I took that to heart and began doing a little research. I wasn't a scrapbooker, but when I stumbled upon project life and Becky Higgins, I was intrigued.



My sister puts together beautiful photobooks for her kids' first years. They're amazing, they're gorgeous, they're easy to reproduce (for grandparents) and they're reasonably affordable. I love designing photobooks as well (like this or this), but for both of my kids, I've documented their first year using project life. I'm not a scrapbooker, and I have a hard time "keeping up" with it. I think some of that has to do with not being able to print photos at home. I also adore the clean and minimal look of photobooks. So why do project life for this season of our kids' lives? Well, three primary reasons come to mind:



1 / I like the ability to document throughout the year, rather than all at once after everything has happened, although I guess you could take this approach with a photobook if you were pretty disciplined. I don't completely stay on top of it all, but I have been able to work on the album this whole first year, documenting things while they were relatively fresh. I think I'd be a lot more overwhelmed starting with month one and doing it all once. If I had to, I'd figure it out. But since I discovered this process, I'm happy to be documenting as we experience life (or pretty close to it, anyway). 



2 / I like being able to include "all the things" - the hospital documents and wristbands, a doctor's note or a card from a relative, little physical things that help breathe life into a photo album or scrapbook. I don't use a lot of embellishment or get super-elaborate with the design, but I do like to include little bits of life here and there throughout the album.



3 / I love that it's a tactile album, made to be enjoyed by everyone. I have no problem handing my kids a project life album and saying "flip through it!" I've never done this with one of our photobooks. I don't want those pages to bend or tear or get dirty. Maybe that's a little rigid or paranoid of me, but when I've spent countless hours and over $100 on a photobook, I don't necessarily want my toddler playing with it unsupervised. But the plastic covers on our project life albums protect photos and memorabilia from sticky fingers and well-meaning, but sometimes rough, little hands. Ben is so curious about these albums, but he's never cared to flip through a photobook. Those are for me. This project feels much more about them. It's tactile and intimate, a little more informal. 



I'm a couple months behind in Owen's baby album, and he turns one next week. I'm not stressed about it because I've made a huge dent in this project over the last year. I've automated a lot of the design process, included tons of journaling (something I wish I'd done more of in my first son's album), and kept track of all the major milestones. We're still waiting on the walking, but you'd better believe I'll capture it on my camera. I'm not exactly sure where I'll go from here with the documenting, but I'd be surprised if project life isn't a piece of the puzzle.



If you're a parent, how are you telling your little one's story? Did you do a baby album? A photobook? If you're not a parent but hope to be someday, do you have thoughts as to what you'll do?


Pictured: a January layout from Owen's baby album, project life design A pocket pages, 8.5 x 11 inch page protectors, fifty-fifty patterned card inspired by this and made with these papers, "these days" text from pictures + words no 9, "january" text from month at a glance.

a simple layout documenting winter



Hi there! I'm documenting Owen's first year using a 12 x 12 project life album. Today, I'm over at Paislee Press with a simple layout documenting all the snow we got back in January. The layout came together really quickly and totally motivated me to get this album done and on the shelf so we can enjoy it! I'll be back tomorrow with another simple project life layout right here, but in the meantime, check out my post over at Paislee Press! Happy Tuesday :)