free december printable

Happy Friday, friends! Although it's not yet Thanksgiving (my fave holiday), I've got December on the brain. I've been playing around with planning for a December Daily project, and I came up with a little 3x4 journal card I wanted to share. I don't know if it will make it into the album, but I liked it and I thought some of you might, too! Click here to access the free download. 

This weekend I'll be doodling text on my iPad, editing photos, and finalizing proofs for holiday cards. What are you up to? 

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inspired to document december

I don't know what it is (maybe the early-onset bone-chilling temperatures?), but this year I'm so inspired to do some kind of project to document December. This will be our only holiday season in New England, and I think it would be a lot of fun to make some kind of artifact to commemorate it. Plus, I only have like one friend here, so I have some time on my hands (just kidding... but not really). There's some incredible inspiration around the web for a project like this. Here's where I'll be drawing inspiration this year:

Ali Edwards | Ali's December Daily project started it all several years ago. Mine won't be this elaborate, but I love following Ali's blog for photo and story ideas.

Liz at Paislee Press | Liz's album a couple years ago remains one of my favorites of all time. Gorgeous, simple, thoughtful, minimalist, amazing photography. Such fun eye candy.

Jamaica at Jamaica Makes | I wasn't seriously keen on doing one of these projects this year until I saw this post from Jamaica earlier this week. She's nailed it with the simplicity. I think I'll be adopting some version of this very simple format.

Carly at Lily and Twig | I love Carly's style. It's light, bright and airy. I'm so inspired by everything she does, but I loved seeing this post on December prompts. I can't wait to see what she puts together this year.

What about you? Are you planning to document the holiday season in some special way? I'd love to hear what's inspiring you this year!

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design matters | photographing kids' artwork

Our son, Ben, started preschool this week and already we have precious little items coming home with him: artwork, notes from his teacher, and a weekly summary of what's happening in class. Wow, that happened fast! While this school thing is totally new to us, I know parents who've gone before me have dealt for years with the sheer amount of finger paintings, turkeys made from hand-tracings, paper plate crafts and the like. The struggle is real, friends. So, what to do with it? One thing I've done in the past with little crafts Ben's brought home from Sunday school is to photograph them. I'm sharing a few different ways I do this. One is just laying the item on our kitchen table and taking an overhead shot. I wrote about this method in more detail HERE. Sometimes I photograph the entire thing, sometimes I let it drift out of frame, like this rainbow-sticker-cotton-ball-thingy.
I'm a big fan of hands in photos. Is that weird? Here's a shot I took of Ben holding a piece of art. Notice how my perspective leaning over him (using a step stool while he sat at the table) meant I got more in the frame than I wanted. No worries. A little crop leaves a clean image, which I would use in a Project Life album or photobook (I love this one over on Shutterfly).
Often, kids' artwork is meant to be interactive, like sock puppets or flip books. I like photographing the kiddo interacting with the object. In this case, I took a few shots of Ben playing with the thing he made, a little "I'm sorry" / "I forgive" face on a popsicle stick. Probably not going to be on display at LACMA anytime soon, but it was pretty cute to see him interacting with it.
I like repeating images, so I tend to use them a lot in our albums. When photographing kids' artwork, I'll take a few shots of the same thing and then use a couple side-by-side. I like the two below, because they show Ben checking out his own work on the left and then him just looking pretty cute and laughing on the right. It's all very scientific.
Here's another example of repetition, but here I took a wide shot and then one close-up of the artwork. I would use both in an album.
I hope you've found these ideas useful! We'll see how it goes as we deal with the onslaught of preschool crafts and artwork coming through our doors. I'd love to hear what you do with kids' artwork. Do you display it? Photograph it? Save it? Scan it? We're brand new to all this, so please share your favorite tips!

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taking time seriously

I can't stand when I hear myself say "I'm so busy," but the reality is that that's how I feel a lot of the time. A couple weeks ago, I came across this video, which prompted me to think more seriously about how I'm spending my time. At the end of the video, there's an exercise: list your top five priorities. Now look back over your schedule. How much time are you spending on those things? It took me about five seconds to rattle off my top five priorities. But my calendar didn't exactly reflect those priorities. 

If there's a link between how I spend my time and what's important to me, then my current priorities are cooking elaborate meals, unpacking, worrying about unpacking, doing laundry, and watching Modern Family. I'm spending so much time on things that don't reflect what's actually important to me. And while many of these things are necessary (food, laundry, time to unwind, etc.), they don't have to occupy so much of my day. Does any of this matter? Maybe not. But at the end of the day, I want to feel like I spent my valuable time well rather than squandering it and then feeling like I'm so busy and have no time to do anything. Yuck. Many people are really busy. I'm not one of those people. 

It's time to take time seriously. 

We arrived in New England one month ago today, and we'll be leaving in one year. Time is short, and my list of priorities is too important to ignore. So while I'm trying to be patient with myself as we settle into our new home, I'm starting to schedule time for the things that are most important to me. I don't want to use distractions as an excuse not to take seriously the things and people I value. I'm starting small, but it's making a difference. These days, I feel productive and inspired because I'm scheduling time each day for the things that are the most important to me. I'm getting more done (including the laundry), but for the first time in a long time, I wouldn't say I'm busy.

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working from (our new) home

Hi friends! I'm using the term "friends" not in the anonymous-Facebook-y way but in the you-have-an-impact-on-my-life-and-I've-missed-you-so-much way! Seriously. Sitting down to write a blog post after over a month of traveling, moving, unpacking and everything in-between is such a relief. We're still hanging pictures and getting into a groove, but the act of getting back on the blog and back to work makes me feel like we're as settled as we need to be to get on with life. I'm excited to share what's happening around here as we prepare to celebrate the holidays in our new home, with family and new friends, and in much much colder weather. And mostly, I'm thrilled to be back to work designing stationery and paper stuff, hanging out with all of you, visiting my favorite blogs and sharing photos and simple design projects inspired by this beautiful place. Happy fall, friends!

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another navy move

This is our fourth move in nine years of marriage and it's the toughest so far. The others have each had their challenges: leaving jobs, leaving friends, and so on. But this time, we're leaving the place we've called home for the last three-and-a-half years, the longest we've lived anywhere since college. We've put down some roots on this military base in the middle of California's central valley, which looks more like a desert these days. It's blazing hot, infested with ants, covered in dust and in the middle of nowhere. But somehow, it's become home, and I'm heartbroken to leave.

In June 2011, I finally got the keys to our house. It was a long wait for base housing, but we decided to go for it because we knew Nick would be deployed, and living on base would mean I'd be safe, secure and surrounded by people in the same position. It was the right decision for us. Three years, two deployments and two kids later, and I feel like we just moved in. These years haven't been easy, but they've been great. The most significant thing we've done is form friendships with some of the best people I've ever known. They are what I'll miss the most.

When my Dad found out I was engaged to Nick, he told me that in the Navy we might not live in the best places, but we'd always be surrounded by the best people. He was right. So now we're headed to a beautiful place, but we're leaving behind our dearest friends. I'll be crying as we leave town, as I've done with each move, but this one feels more significant somehow. When we pulled into Lemoore, we were a family of two, and we'll leave as a family of four. When we arrived, we were moving closer to family, and now we'll be three-thousand miles from home. My heart is heavy, but hopeful. After all, it's just another Navy move.

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I grew up in southern California surrounded by my mom's extended family. I enjoyed weekend asados at my grandparents' house and summer sleepovers with cousins. We spent every holiday together and had massive cheering sections at graduations, swim meets and softball games. I'll admit that while I loved it, I also took it for granted. These days, my mom and her sisters still live in L.A., but the cousins all scattered for college, and none of us ever moved home. Most of us are married, which means Christmases split between families and really infrequent family gatherings. This year, my mom took it upon herself to organize our first family reunion, so we spent last week up in Big Bear. The first weekend, there were 26 of us on the property: my grandma (Baba, in Ukrainian), uncles, cousins, aunts, and my younger sister (who took over documenting the week - thank goodness) and her husband and kids. We traveled from all over the west coast, from Newport up to Seattle, and it wound up being an amazing week.

I'd sort of forgotten how much our family loves playing games. Outside, it was German horseshoes (the set my Dad built), cornhole and daytime rounds of Ticket to Ride. In the evenings, we gathered around the table for all-hands Farkle and Wavelength. Smaller groups played Euker and Spades and a bunch of us passed around crossword puzzles.

I got to meet my cousin's daughter for the first time and spend a bunch of quality time with my nephews. The "big" boys had a blast together. Who knew a gravel driveway could provide so many hours of entertainment?

The "kids" ranged in age from three months to fifteen years, but the little boys definitely dominated the post-bath, pre-bedtime antics.

For us, the timing for this week with the fam couldn't have been better. Our packers arrive a week from today. We're headed to the other side of the country and we're not sure when or if we'll be back in California any time soon. It was a great week and a reminder that we're very blessed to have such a warm, wonderful family.

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