A Bookcase Full of Memories

One night a few summers ago, my husband and I were down visiting his parents in New York. We were all enjoying a relaxing evening sitting around in the living room talking and sharing stories. His parents started re-telling a story about a botched attempt to bring a couch to the basement – which ended up with the couch going through the basement wall at the bottom of the stairs, of course – and she had a picture of it that she wanted to show me (because everyone should take a picture of a couch stuck in a wall. True story). She took me over to a bookcase, and I would be lying if I said that no one in the room heard my jaw hit the floor.

On the shelves of that bookcase were over 25 YEARS worth of photo albums. We spent the rest of the evening thumbing through page after page of memories, everything from when my in-laws starting dating, to my sister-in-law as an infant, all the way up to my husband and my wedding.  Every major life event was carefully, and lovingly, curated in these albums. It was then that I decided that I wanted to have my own bookcase full of memories some day.

The only teeeeenny tiny little problem? I’m pretty notorious for deciding to start a project, and then never, ever, ever finishing it.

Like last year, for example. I decided I was going to start Project Life on January 1st – I was finally going to stop being lazy, and get all those pictures off of my computer (where they tend to go to die – seriously, once I upload them, that’s usually the end of the road), and into a Project Life binder. I wanted to use the Seafoam Edition from Elise Blaha Cripe. It was gorgeous, and I was super obsessed, so, clearly, that meant it was out of stock on Amazon. And everywhere else for that matter. I had gotten a few gift cards from Amazon that Christmas and was determined to use them for Project Life, and Project Life only. I started to stalk Amazon. At least twice a day I would log on to the Becky Higgins website and see if it was available yet. When it FINALLY came back in stock, I immediately bought the core kit, and the binder and warp speed. It arrived on my doorstep and I opened every single package, and sat looking through all of the cards in the core kit for hours – imagining how I was going to create this amazing work of art.

Fast forward a week, and then a month, and now a YEAR later, and that binder has been sitting empty.

Like ghost town empty, complete with tumbleweeds.

I re-committed this year to starting – and finishing – Project Life. I broke out my Seafoam edition binder and Core Kit, and I can assure you – they are still as perfect as when I sat stalking Amazon for all those hours last winter!

PL set up-1

PL set up-3

PL set up a-1

I set the title page up the way the kit suggested – for now. I wanted to have a starting page to make me excited enough to want to continue, but I’m not forcing myself to keep it. Chris and I decided (he’s actually being really helpful about this – more on that in a bit) that I should wait and see which pictures really describe our year, and then use those for the title page. No need to tattoo it on my rear-end yet, I’m open to change!

PL set up-4

I took the bottom right corner card and added “2014” in the white stripes. Just wanted to jaazzzz it up a little!

PL set up-5

I also decided to add an insert that covered our first Christmas here in California. We stayed here, and were alone on Christmas day. I felt like it should have been sad because our family was all back on the East Coast, but we had an amazing day, and started some fun traditions that we want to keep going for years to come (cough-cookiesforbreakfast-cough)

Here’s the front of our Holiday Insert page:

PL set up-6

I included our Christmas card, a picture of Chris taking Zoe out for her morning walk in his Christmas PJ pants, our “family photo” Christmas morning, and a picture of our Christmas dinner. I also used this printable, and this one.

And the back side.

PL set up-12

I added a picture of a flower I took while we were out walking on Christmas Eve, our “Christmas breakfast” a few days later, a really pretty Christmas card, and a picture of Zoe and her new Zombie toy. I also used 2 of the cards from these printables to make a 4×6, and used one half of it as a journaling card to write down everything.

My plan for Project Life 2014 (because it’s always great to have a  plan – failing to plan is planning to fail!) is to keep it as simple as humanly possible. Knowing my track record, I feel like it’s best if this lazy bones over here doesn’t get overwhelmed.
I’m aiming for weekly spreads, mainly since I feel like too much happens in a month to only have monthly spreads.
I’m planning on VERY simple layouts – I refuse to go crazy with embellishments, both for cost factor and my sanity.
I’m going to maintain my journaling of daily and weekly happenings in my planner – picture to come later
And last but not least, I’m having Chris take 1 picture a week. I want to see things from his point of view as well – if for no other reason than he’s taller than me 🙂

My only supplies for this project so far is my Project Life Seafoam Core Kit and binder, the Design A pocket pages, a small variety pack of pocket pages, and my Pinterest board of free Project Life printables.

I’ve also been checking out the Creative Team’s blogs for inspiration – meet the team here.

Anyone else do Project Life and have any tips for a beginner? Leave some love in the comments section, and if you having a blog, leave the link, I’d love to see how you tackled your Project Life!

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Broken Promises, Post Office Wars, And a Rat Nest.

I promised the other day that I wouldn’t miss another posting day. I failed (quickly AND miserably.. oops!) at keeping this promise. In all honesty though? I’m not really that sorry.

Why? Because the whole goal of this blog is to remind you that while technology is amazing, it also tends to take over, and de-personalize (did I just make up  a word?) our lives. I would be “Super Hypocrite” (cape included) if I allowed this blog to take over and prevent me from living my life.

So what was I doing that was soooooo important?

Finishing my Christmas shopping, addressing and writing Christmas cards, and getting packages ready to mail. Kinda important since Christmas snuck up on me again this year. Damn holidays.. they always do that.

Today I finished getting my packages all wrapped, taped to the high heavens, and addressed. Then I hauled a giant freaking stack of boxes as big as me (I’m about 5′ 0″ for point of reference) to the Post Office. Thank god I have a jeep! When I got there, the line was just squeaking its way out the door. I had figured this would happen, so in preparation I had made sure that I had all 5 of my lives on Candy Crush available. (Ding Ding Ding – hypocrite alert! hypocrite alert!)

Instead of playing a game on my phone, however, I spent the time watching this unbelievably amazing phenomenon unfold right before my very eyes.

The Post Office has a Self Service machine that allows you to weigh your package, print out the postage, attach it to your package, and leave. All without ever.talking.to.a.real.live.person.

Today, it was broken. And the world just about came crashing down around it.

Customer, after customer, after customer came in, attempted to use the machine, realized it was broken, and started grumbling (some quietly under their breath, but most were loud and obnoxious) about how it was SUCH a hassle that the machine was broken, and now they were going to have to wait in the incredibly long line.

I started thinking about this, and realized we, as a society, no longer really want to talk to other people.

We’re basically all the most socially, antisocial people ever.

Self check out lines at the grocery store, online shopping, and self service machines, like my buddy here at the post office, have all eliminated the need to speak with a real, breathing, person. Hell, I prefer a text to a phone call for god’s sake! (It’s true. I screen phone calls like it’s my job.)

Back in the post office lobby, the grumpy people were forced to not only talk to a real person, but had to wait in line. Imagine, for a moment, how much louder that grumbling got.. Things were starting to get pretty ugly.

So who was the hero in this increasingly volatile situation?

The amazing postal worker who never skipped a beat. Not once. Not when someone was screaming at her that the machine was broken. Not when someone yelled about how long they had been waiting in line.  Not when she was completely chewed out and rudely informed that it was HER fault someone’s package wasn’t going to get to its intended destination in time.

Through it all she kept a smile on her face, and a “Happy Holidays” attitude.

When it was my turn, she looked at me and said “Next time, you bring all those packages to the front of the line, put them down, and then go wait. I don’t want you holding so many boxes for that long, you’re too small!” I usually hate being called small, but for her I smiled gratefully. She was being sweet and thoughtful to a complete stranger, in the middle of what was practically a mine field.

She made sure to give me the best (and cheapest) option to guarantee that my packages would get where they needed to go, and get there before Christmas. She made sure to get me the holiday themed stamps for my cards. She was warm, kind, and friendly. She was worth standing in line and waiting to talk to.

She made my day.

She could have been mean, and it would have been justifiable. She could have snapped at the complainers, pointing out that the line was incredibly long for everyone, the office was severely understaffed, and that she didn’t have time to fix the god damn broken machine. She could have retorted that it wasn’t her fault that the package couldn’t get to East Bum Shoe in time – and that the customer shouldn’t have waited until it was right down to the wire.

She could have, but she didn’t.

Her ability to maintain a calm, kind demeanor had an interesting effect on the people she was helping. They went from being giant flaming balls of super pissed off, to sheepishly thankful bunny rabbits (yeah, I’m not sure what happened there either, I drew a blank and panicked, so bunny rabbit it is.), all in a New York minute.

So what the heck is my point in this crazy, drawn out story that is about as long as the post office line?

Modern convenience is fantastic. Everyone (myself VERY much included) has had those days where you feel like hell, your nose is snotty, your hair is a giant rats nest on the top of your head, you’re so busy you can’t even think straight, and you just want to use the self checkout at CVS. I get it, I’ve been there. A little too frequently with the giant rats nest on top of my head…

What is also fantastic, though, is watching someone make a giant, scary man stop being a Grinch, and instead turn him into Cindy Lu Who without ever lifting a pinky. What is fantastic is having someone be concerned about how many boxes you’re carrying. What’s fantastic is human interaction that leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Next time you’re out shopping and have the opportunity to choose between real person, and self checkout, I challenge you to take the real person route. Toss a smile on your face, and ask them how they are and mean it. I can almost promise that you will brighten their day, and they, in turn, could completely make yours.

What is Better Than a Mailbox Full of Holiday Cards?

*Sorry for the delay in getting this up! I got LaZyyyy. That’s really and truly my excuse. I’ll try not to let it happen again!*

Pretty much everyone who lives and breathes (they kinda go hand in hand, huh?) loves the holidays. Unless you are The Grinch-Man Himself, you’ve got to at least find them enjoyable. They are full of family, friends, gifts, good food, fun music, and honestly, who can resist an ugly sweater party?

The best thing about the holidays though – and I will fight you to the death on this one! – are the holiday cards.

There are few (and it is an astonishingly small amount. I’m serious.) things better than going to the mailbox, opening it up, and having it be bustingattheseams full of envelopes addressed to you, *gasp* by hand!

Here's one I sent to a friend recently. (the address looked really cute but for her privacy I erased it in the pic!)

Here’s one I sent to a friend recently. (the address looked really cute but for her privacy I erased it in the pic!)

These days, when it is super easy to hop on over to facebook or twitter and connect with family (and I mean it when I say super easy – my family had Thanksgiving via Instagram this year, and it was AWESOME) I think its crazy that the cards I get at the holidays might be the only time I get a chance to connect with that person or family all year. <— Wild, right? But it’s true. Great Aunt Josephine might not have a computer. Cousin Felix might not be on facebook (another wild thought. Who isn’t on facebook these days?!). And you might live 3000 miles from both of them. Case in point.

Unless you’ve recently taken pity on the US Post Office, odds are prettttttyyyy good you aren’t throwing a Forever stamp on a monogramed letter to Great Aunt Jo or Cousin Felix any of the other 364 days out of the year. This is their one chance that year to connect with you, and if they are anything like me (or real. Anyone got a cousin Felix? I think that would be awesome!) they look forward to that card more than you know.

So now that we’ve determined that holiday cards are the best – and again, I’ll argue this point allll day long with you – let’s chat about the 3 main types of holiday cards.

There’s the family photo.
I LOVE these gems. They give you a chance to actually SEE the people sending the card to you, and gives you the chance to  see how they have changed over the past year. Especially with my younger cousins, it’s really fun to see them grow up. (I said “See” three times in that statement. I tried really hard to come up with another way to say it, but couldn’t. Sorry it was uber redundant!)

If you’re like me, you have no shame whatsoever in sending out a photo card of your dog. Yup. I’m that person and I’m proud of it!

Yup. This is our holiday card pic this year! :)

True story. This is our holiday card pic this year! 🙂

The family novel.
My mom is totally guilty of this one! Every year, starting around December 1st, I get an email a day with a revised version of what happened to our family in the past year. Each versions gets longer, and more full of detail than the version before it. My mom always ends the email with “If you don’t like what you’re reading about yourself, you’d better send me the version you want, or else it gets told my way!”. Talk about incentive!
But in all fairness, as much as I HATE the process of getting the family letter done, I love getting them from other families. We have one family that we knew when I was a tiny tot, and we all wait on the egde of our seats every year for their letter to hit the mailbox. As soon as my mom gets it, it gets scanned and emailed to all of us (we’re a bi-coastal family these days!) to read and enjoy. The point of this rant is, its really annoying to write, but people enjoy reading them!

The Pretty Card.
These are my least favorite. Mostly because they usually have a lot of glitter on them, and I hate, hate, hate getting glitter all over me (and the floor, and the dog… ooo sparkly dog!) when I open the envelope!  I’ll take the glitter if there is a handwritten note, or a picture in the card though. Plan your glitter sending accordingly!

And there you have it. Maybe I’ve convinced you to love holiday cards as much as I do, maybe I haven’t.  I’m just hoping that I, at the absolute least, convinced you to send one to Great Aunt Josephine. Honestly, I’m sure she’d love it more than you know!

I’m dying to hear your take on the holidays and what the best part is! Let me know by leaving a little love in the comments section!