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Georgia's Miss Nina Birthday Party (2014)

For Georgia’s birthday party this year we were fortunate to collaborate with Miss Nina.

Georgia’s been a fan of Miss Nina’s since she was one year old. We were hoping to have Miss Nina perform at her 2nd birthday party, however, the timing didn’t work out. Miss Nina was due with her first baby and I was in the thick of first trimester nausea with Conroy. Neither of us were up for the party we had envisioned.

Months before Georgia’s third birthday we booked Miss Nina. We told her how we wanted to go big and Miss-Nina-fy this party like never before. Nina loved our ideas and it resulted in a Love Jac / Miss Nina collaboration we are excited to now offer to you as well.

Party planning has always been in our blood and we’re excited to extend our love to all our fellow Miss Nina fans. We can guarantee this party will be a success since we were able to debut it for Georgia’s 3rd. The feedback we received was overwhelming but, most importantly, the smile on our little girl’s face was priceless. Below is a list of what we can offer you for your next party, along with some helpful tips, & why we think they are a must for any party.

You can watch a short video here!

INVITATIONS:

Invitations set the mood for any event. Want your guests to know they are in for a good time?---start it off with a beautiful invitation! Printed with Indigo ink on an off set printer in Manhattan, these invites will definitely make the baby book!!

The invitation is a pre-designed, brightly colored A7 (5x7) flat invitation. A photo that you provide of your child will be incorporated into the invitation. The invitations come with corresponding envelopes.

Photo Ideas: You can provide us with your favorite candid shot of your little one or choose to go all out and stage a photo shoot with your child. You can use musical props…turn on your Miss Nina album or play her music straight from her YouTube Channel.

STICKERS:

These “I had a super silly time with Miss Nina” stickers are perfect for both a goodie bag as well as decorating one. They can also be handed out at the party or used to decorate paper cups. We haven’t met a child yet that doesn’t love a sticker!!

STEP & REPEAT:

The Step & Repeat is the next photo booth. You may be familiar with the wall of logos that celebrities take pictures in front of at all the hottest events. Make your guests feel just as special as Taylor Swift. By completing with a personalized logo with your child’s name and age, the photos taken in front of it will be keepsakes forever.

An added idea: We’ve included the #mymissninaparty hashtag on the wall itself so be sure to remind your guests to upload the photos and hashtag it to be a part of the Miss Nina fan community. You can also create a unique hashtag for your child’s party as a way to group all of your photos on social media.

  

Taking the photos: We have found it best to snap a photo of your guests when they arrive. If either parent takes on this responsibility it’s a great way to greet every guest. This is also a good task to give to that outgoing friend who is interested in helping with the party.

Don’t forget to take a picture with the birthday boy or girl yourself.

Another fun idea is to have the images printed and mail the photo of your guest with your thank you card.

TATTLY TATTOOS:

We are excited to team up with Tattly to produce custom Miss Nina temporary tattoos. Designed around Miss Nina’s famous pink guitar, these tattoos are liked by both children and adults.

Tattly’s headquarters are located right here in Brooklyn, NY. We knew we wanted to work with them from the beginning. Started by Tina Roth Eisenberg after being unsatisfied with the temporary tattoos her daughter was bringing home, Tattly now employs over 12 creative staff members and is constantly giving back to the design community through their association with Creative Mornings. We have to give an extra shout-out to head of operations, Corbin Sharer, who helped expedite the production of our tattoos to ensure they arrived in time for Georgia’s party. We now have the inventory to supply you for your next party.

We suggest setting up a Tattoo Parlor to help your guest apply their Tattly. Application is simple and it’s the perfect thing to have your friend help with. We took it one step further and D.I.Y.-ed a custom Tattoo sign using the tutorial from Brit + Co

COLORING PAGES:

It’s always a good idea to have something for the kids to do as soon as they arrive. These coloring pages keep with the theme and provide a fun activity.

THANK YOU CARDS:

These official Miss Nina Thank You Cards are the perfect way to show your appreciation to the friends who came out to your party. Featuring a hand-drawn version of Miss Nina’s signature guitar in two shades of pink, along with hand- drawn words “Thank You”, these cards fit seamlessly into the rest of your party’s décor.

All of these options can be added onto your current Miss Nina Party package or through Miss Nina’s brand new website. If you have any questions, feel free to email us or comment below.

 

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December Daily: Progress Halfway Through

This past weekend, I seriously got to work on our December Daily album. You might remember we had a party to kick off this project and that (along with this blog) has helped me stay committed to this project. I can’t believe December is halfway over already, which makes me even more grateful that I started this album.

My Process: 

I did two simple things to keep on top of this project.

  1. I printed out a Google calendar and jotted down the memory of each day.
  2. I started a folder in iPhoto where I would drag the photos I knew I wanted to use. 

These two things allowed me to feel like I wasn’t falling behind, even though I hadn’t actually added anything to the physical album.

When I finally found the time to get to work…which almost seemed impossible with the busyness of life right now…I made a list and followed through. Here’s what I did. So you can see how I squeezed in the time, I have noted that as well.

  1. Consulted my Google calendar & iPhoto album to choose which page protector layout worked best for each day. [early Friday morning and late Friday night]
  2. Went through the photos and divided them up into folders according to the size they need to be printed. This felt like it took the longest amount of time. I didn’t have to do anything to the 4x6 photos and the 3x4 photos except crop them, but I did need to resize the 2x2 photos, the 3x3 photos, and the 4x4 photos using Photoshop. [Saturday morning while Chad took the kids to the playground]
  3. I then put the photos on a thumb drive, went to CVS, and had them printed. [Saturday morning while the kids were still at the playground]
  4. Back at home I rearranged Love Jac Headquarters and created the perfect scrapbooking workspace. I kinda have a thing for an L-shaped desk. It’s the type of desk I had back in my script supervising days and I find it so easy to work at. We have these two collapsible Ikea tables and I simply arranged them so everything was in arms’ reach. [Saturday afternoon before Georgia’s dentist appointment]
  5. This is when things got fun. After the kids went to bed on Saturday night, I brewed a new pot of coffee, poured myself a cup, and got to work. Chad sat with me for the first hour or so, as he read sports updates on the computer. We listened to holiday music and talked about the different memories I was documenting. Finally Chad retired to bed, but I was on a roll so I kept going. Plus, the coffee that had fueled me to get started was now keeping me from falling asleep.

What I’ve learned so far:

  1. Just like what I’m learning from doing our Project Life album… I take a lot of photos. Narrowing them down to one or two per day seems to be the key. I like those finished pages best.
  2. I didn’t have to cut out paper for each spot ahead of time. I am basically taking them all out and replacing them with pictures anyway. I have even had to cut new pieces, which was the task I was trying to avoid by pre-cutting them. Cutting them in the moment isn’t as annoying as I had originally thought. I probably won’t pre-cut them next time.                                       
  3. We do A LOT each day! Instead of trying to document everything we do everyday, I found it best to record one specific memory. Those pages are my favorite to look at.

The seventh of December was a busy day. We sold our greeting cards at a craft fair, Grammy & Grandpa watched the kids, and then we had an evening at home just the four of us. Billy The Elf had left candy canes for Georgia, Conroy, and Grammy to decorate the tree with that morning. I knew I wanted to use their box in the album.  Georgia calls them "Candy Cans" and it's the cutest thing you've ever heard! It's so cute, I can't even correct her. So "Candy Cans" they are! The box gave me the chance to simplify the page.  I chose two of my favorite photos of our day.  Both show my view of our family.  I don't mind that I'm not in these photos because it's how I see life and recording that memory is also important to me.  I journaled on another part of the box and slipped it into the bottom corner.  And of course Billy had to be included, so I gave him a double border and glued him to another part of the box in the top corner.  

I wanted to make the title stretch across the entire middle section - making it appear like one piece instead of three smaller pieces. I thought this would help simplify the page as well.  To be sure the stickers I used were spaced out correctly, I first cut them out and positioned them. 

I cut the box into one long piece and stuck the stickers down.  

I then cut the box into three sections so it would fit into the page protector.  Since there are spaces in between some of the box gets cut out, so I had to move the letters a little bit.  (see below how I learned from this error the second time)

Here are a couple examples of what a page originally looked like when I tried to record all of the events of the day, followed by what it looks like now after I simplified it to one memory.

December 1st: BEFORE. I was trying to document 3 things: our morning playdate, how georgia takes the labels out of the dewey decimal, and our afternoon playdate...plus Billy - so I guess that's four things!

 

December 1st: AFTER. Since we do the afternoon playdate almost every monday, I decided to just focus on the morning playdate.  This gave me room to journal and made the page less cluttered.  I added two half circles so I could journal about the dewey decimal system as well. 

November 28th: BEFORE. Again, we did a lot this day.  We went with my parents to see The Berenstain Bears Live! Everyone looked so cute in their bear ears that I wanted to use every photo!! However, again I couldn't journal.  The real moment I wanted to remember from this day was how Conroy would stretch out his little arms to hold hands and say grace every time we sat down for dinner as a family.  Our friend, Zach, taught us his "grace" were they sing "The more we get together" before each meal.  Conroy loves it! So now we say grace and sing! 

November 28th: AFTER. By getting rid of all the Berenstain Bear photos (I will use them in our Project Life Album) I was able to document our dinner ritual in the way it deserves to be documented.

I also learned from my slight error of cutting letters on the Candy Cans page.  Here's how I did it this time. I did the same thing by cutting the letters and positioning them, but this time I cut the three squares first, instead of keeping it one long piece.  You can see I also wrote the phrase out to make sure I had enough stickers to spell out the phrase.  Those darn E's!!

 

Then I aligned the three squares right next to each other so that when I cut the stickers nothing would get cut out!!  You should also notice that I put the stickers for the word "Together" over top of the page protector. I love how it looks with the "e" right in the middle, but I am a little worried it might not hold up as well over time.  

Details I love about this album:

  1. Saving physical things. I will admit on here (because I plan to address it in 2015) but I have a huge box of “stuff” I can’t throw out - pictures Georgia’s drawn, ticket stubs, and who knows what else. This album has given me a place to record those things. I have included “the dot game” that Billy The Elf left for Georgia and Chad to play, a box of Candy Canes, and the sticker I wore when I visited a friend at Etsy Headquarters. I love the texture they bring to the album and the memories they evoke.
  2. Taking photos of the day’s date. I had this idea when we were at the Fort Greene Holiday Market and the wall had this beautiful numbers stenciled on the wall. I took a photo of the 6 and knew I would use it in the album. (Of course, it was so late at night when I was adding the photo that I accidentally stamped “Sunday” instead of “Saturday” so I have to fix this in the future – That’s when I decided it was time to force myself to go to bed)

Another time I did this was on the 10th when we were on our way home. I couldn’t believe it, but literally lit up in front of me was the number 10. All the letters of the neon sign spelling out “JUNIORS” were out except the I and the O. It had to be a sign! Once that happened, I really enjoyed looking for the number of the day out in the real world.

Another favorite is the check out number at Trader Joe’s!

  1. Documenting Billy The Elf. This our first year doing The Elf on The Shelf and this young elf has a lot of energy. Seeing the joy on Georgia & Conroy’s face every morning has been the best way to wake up! Who knows what the years to come will be like, but right now it is truly magical!

 

We are absolutely loving this album. Conroy is at such a fun age (16 months) and Georgia is somehow a big kid already! If we didn’t make the time to stop and reflect, I think it would have just flown by! We hope you are enjoying your days in December as well. If you are creating an album and blogging about it, leave your link below – we’d love to see it too!

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St. Boniface Christmas Fair 2014

On Sunday, we woke up early and set up shop at St. Joseph’s High School for the St. Boniface Christmas Fair.

This is our fourth year doing this holiday market and each year gets better and better. The other vendors are simply some of the nicest people we have ever met. You can find everything from upstate estate sale pieces to brightly-colored, handmade quilts. They serve homemade chili, play holiday music, sell the most scrumptious baked goods, and have fabulous basket raffles.

We consider this to be the hidden treasure of holiday markets in our neighborhood. When Chad and I first started dating we quickly discovered that we both enjoyed a good flea market, yard sale, or thrift store! We took a trip up to Brimfield, Massachusetts on our first vacation together to go antiquing. We found the most interesting things at the best prices around. The St. Boniface Christmas Fair is exactly like that trip. I can tell you – Chad is not much of a shopper, but at this fair he’s a shop-a-holic! This year I wised-up and brought two extra bags because I knew he’d find some amazing presents for our family and friends. And that he did!

After living in Brooklyn for several years now, we’ve found it difficult to find things at a bargain price. Getting a good deal is one of the things that excites us the most. We find ourselves saying, “We can’t buy that – you know it would only be $10 in Brimfield” - not at The St. Boniface Fair. Each time he’d come back to our booth with another handful of treasures he’d say, “Jac, it was $2. I couldn’t not buy it.” And the truth is the gifts were so perfect that I couldn’t argue with him – in fact I wouldn’t have minded if he had paid more for them!

Our friend Matthew Kells & his daughter find a vintage camera!

Knit in Brooklyn

In addition to these finds, there are many talented crafters selling their goods. There are jewelry makers, sewers, and knitters. We picked up two hand-knit hats from “Knit in Brooklyn”. The kids love them because they are cozy and we love them because they have an extra band that covers their necks. Georgia also refers to hers as her “Anna Hat” because it has two braids. She hasn’t taken it off since.

Angeline Roth

If you love a quilt, Angeline Roth is the woman you should visit. A native of the Netherlands, her designs are beautiful and her work is impeccable. You can truly feel the love and care she puts into each of her creations!

So, if you are looking for that perfect mix of antique trinkets, handmade products, homemade food, and –of course- unique greeting cards, be sure to stop by the St. Boniface Christmas Fair next year!

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Arts & Letters Holiday Market 2014

On Saturday we participated in the Fort Greene Holiday Market for the second year. And for the second year the weather was awful, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. This market is organized by Arts & Letters, an elementary school in our neighborhood. Their dedication and care for their students makes us proud to be a part of this craft show. The fair helps raise money to provide the children of this school with an art education program. Chatting with the shoppers and other vendors, many of which are are also parents of children that attend the school, gave us an inside look at what makes their school such a wonderful place for the students to learn and grow.

We made some new friends at the fair this year as well as caught up with some old friends.

Scully's Deodormint

David Schulhoff was are booth neighbor and is the inventor of Scully’s Deodormint, a chemical-free deodorant. His story is incredibly interesting. His grandfather Scully, who also invented the plunger, came up with the formula in the 1920’s. Recently, David reworked the recipe using only natural ingredients. Many people came by on Saturday that had previously used his product to rave about it and buy some more. Others were so excited to see that this product exists and were excited to try it for themselves. If this interests you, you can buy your own bottle through David’s website. As a new mom living in Brooklyn, I know the importance of not exposing your baby to chemicals while nursing or holding them close to your body.

Claudia Pearson

This is Claudia's booth at the National Stationery Show.  photo credit: claudiapearson.com 

 

Claudia Pearson was at the fair with all of her beautifully illustrated goods – tea towels, prints, and aprons, to name a few. We had run into Claudia at the Brooklyn Flea many times and had the pleasure of meeting her at the National Stationery Show in May. Her talent speaks her itself and her lifestyle as a mother, wife, artist, and business woman is something we personally admire! Check out her website here and find her products in stores nationwide.

My Brooklyn Baby

One of our favorite children’s boutiques in the neighborhood is My Brooklyn Baby. We have bought many items from there and played with their beautiful wooden kitchen set on several shopping trips! We recently started following them on Instagram and got a peek into the world of this lovely working mom! Darcy Le Fleming runs the beautiful store and couldn’t be nicer in person! She has started producing her own products and debuted them at the Fort Greene Holiday Fair this year! We had to pick up a couple of them for Georgia. We’re sure having a daughter helps give her the insider knowledge of what children love at this age, but she really hit it out of the park with her comfortable leather tiaras! We can’t wait to see Georgia’s face on Christmas morning when she opens it!!

Greenlight Bookstore

photo credit: fortgreeneholidaymarket.com

Our favorite bookstore, Greenlight, was in attendance as well – which isn’t surprising since they already contribute so much to the community. Not often would you see a bookstore at an elementary school’s holiday fair, but Greenlight is much more than your average bookstore. They support the neighborhood in so many ways. We were happy to be in their company!

Overall, the day was lovely. We want to thank our friends who came out in the pouring rain to say hi and buy some holiday cards! It was nice to see familiar faces, meet some new people, and spend the day selling cards.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!

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Holiday Markets - Dec 6th & 7th

It’s that time again…Holiday Market Season! This year we decided to focus on just two craft fairs in December.  We chose our favorites that support and benefit groups in our community.

The Fort Greene Holiday Market benefits Arts & Letters, an elementary school in our neighborhood. Because of fundraising done by the parents, the students at this school have more classes, such as Physical Education.  This particular craft fair is put on to help fund their arts program. We are honored to be involved.

Arts & Letters 2013 - Conroy was 3 months old. I chopped off all my hair.

 

The St. Boniface Christmas Fair benefits the church and held at St. Joseph's Catholic School just down the street. It’s one of their biggest fundraisers of the year. They sell beautiful evergreen wreaths, homemade chili, and fresh baked goods. There is an eclectic group of vendors and it always feels like a big family reunion.

St. Boniface 2013 - Conroy helping sell cards. Can't believe that was only a year ago.

 

We were thrilled when we found out these two shows were happening in the same weekend! Visit us at Arts & Letters on Saturday and then in the auditorium of St. Joseph’s Catholic School on Sunday.

As we look back at the holiday shows we’ve done over the past 3 years, it’s kind of incredible. Our company has grown and changed so much – and so has our family. We found it very interesting to look back at the pictures and remember what life was like each year. What a rollercoaster ride! Plus, there’s my hairstyles. 

St. Boniface - 2011. Our first craft show. Georgia was 9 months old. My hair looks like Gilda Radner's.

 

St. Boniface - 2012. Georgia was 1 year and 9 months & I was growing out my hair.

 

Each picture brings back different memories, but the love we have for a good holiday fair always remains the same.

Here are the top 5 things we love about a holiday market.

  • Supporting local organizations
  • Connecting with our customers
  • Working with our daughter: salesgirl Georgia
  • Meeting the other vendors
  • Catching up with friends in the neighborhood

Hope to see you the weekend of Dec 6 & 7, right here in Brooklyn!

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Our Elf on the Shelf Story

Who’s ready to join the fun of The Elf on The Shelf with us? Georgia is now at the age where she is fully into the magic of the Christmas season and we are ready to make this one of our traditions!

We first received The Elf on The Shelf when I was pregnant with Georgia. For the record, this is way too early. When Georgia was about one and a half years old (still too early) my dad read her the book, named our elf Billy, and let Georgia hold him. From that point on, Billy has been a part of our family. Along with Charlotte (her Cabbage Patch doll), Casey (her American Girl doll), and Mr. Bear (her first Teddy Bear), Billy has cuddled with Georgia at night, scooted to the playground, and gone on countless adventures. All of these things are strictly against the Elf on the Shelf rules.

In the meantime, my parents bought Georgia the Elf on The Shelf movie. One random afternoon – nowhere close to Christmas – we popped it in the BluRay Player. We can tell you we were shockingly surprised. It is a great little animated movie! It’s only 23 minutes and tells a cute story about believing in the magic of Christmas.

We’ve watched this movie countless times. Each time Chippey the Elf is about to go down the conveyer belt in his box like a rollercoaster she screams, “Mom, come watch, it’s your favorite part”! What can I say? It reminds me of that promo before the movies in the good old days. Georgia and I stretch our arms in the air and say, “whoooaaahh!”

It also has a great song and dance number – Extravaganzalorious! Let’s just say Georgia and I just might know all the choreography and perform it every time we watch it. This might be one of my favorite things we do together.

This year Georgia is three and a half (which she will be the first to tell you) and we are finally ready for Billy to be magic! Since we’ve broken all the rules up to this point, we decided to write Santa a letter asking for him to become magic like the rest of the Elves on the Shelf.

We know many people out there are annoyed by The Elf on the Shelf and there are several hilarious blog posts about it. Our friend Nic even has a card you could buy if the little guy tends to drive you crazy. However, this is completely up our alley. We can’t wait to search Pintrest and all the Mommy Blogs to get ideas for Billy. We can’t wait to watch Georgia search for him each morning. Hide-and-Seek just so happens to be one of her favorite games right now. We hope you get super excited about this adventure with us. We know it will only last a couple years and we are ready to enjoy every second of it!! If you want to follow along on Instagram, our hashtag is #BillyTheElfCarter

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December Daily: A Party to Make It Happen!

As we prepare for the busiest season for both our business and our family, we decided to squeeze in one more project!! December Daily was created by the talented Ali Edwards. She sums it up beautifully in this video on her website. Essentially, it is an album documenting each day in December leading up to Christmas.

We think it’s genius. So often December flies by in a blink of an eye and we often can’t remember anything that happened. When we first learned about it last year we had a 3-month-old baby boy! The idea of it seemed impossible. As December approached this year, just after we finished our Halloween Costumes, we knew we wanted to do it, but did we have the time? With the encouragement from a dear friend’s two words – “I’m in!” - we made the decision to make it happen. It feels like we have no time with two little ones running around, but the truth is if we want to do something we know we can find the time. It might mean sleeping less or not getting to the dishes right away – or, in this instance, not having all the food beautifully displayed when people arrived, but we can make it happen.

 

And that’s the whole point of December Daily! Life is busy – especially this time of year! By carving the time out to document it, we will now be able to look back and remember all those little moments instead of it all being one big blur. As with most things in our life – it’s all about pre-production, so we decided to have a party!!

 

I emailed several of my girlfriends and got a great response. We knew this would be a lot to ask people – considering how hectic life seems to be these days – so we made it as simple for them as possible. We would handle the supplies, creative inspiration, and coffee – all they needed to do was show up. Everyone wanted to chip in so each person brought something delicious to eat.

The Supplies:

We love shopping, so this was a win-win. We hit up our favorite craft stores in South Jersey and stocked up on beautiful paper, fun stickers, and holiday-themed stamps. We wanted everyone to have a good variety of styles to select from so we bought two pads of holiday themed card stock, as well as two Project Life Card sets. This way if people wanted to do this on their own one year, they could see some of the different options that are out there in the scrapbook world.

We bought a variety of albums, both Project Life Mini-Albums and Snap Mini-Albums - both are 6x8. We bought a variety of pocket pages to go inside. As with our Summer Mini-Album, since we couldn’t resist the different options of pocket pages on sale, we would have to custom cut a lot of the paper. Knowing this ahead of time, we just set aside the time to cut the paper and enjoyed the process. If you want it to be simpler, we suggest using only Becky Higgins’ Project Life elements. That way you won’t have to cut a thing!

 

The Party:

When people arrived – the room was ready. The food was not. In my perfect world I would have had it all laid out and people would have had place to display the food they brought. In reality – everyone just worked together and no one seemed to mind. My husband Chad and daughter Georgia also were a huge help!! Chad even served us up some bellinis on a tray!

 

The goal of the party was for everyone to prep their album. I’ve read online that this is the key to making your album a reality. Everyone chose their favorite book and selected a variety of pocket pages. We then selected card stock to go into the book and I custom cut the paper that needed to be cut.

 

 

Katie spelled out both her daughters’ names on one of the divider pages that comes in the Snap Albums.

 

Anushka used Washi Tape and some bubble stickers to decorate and spell out her dog’s name. “I can’t leave Ivan out of this book!”

Nina used a pocket page with two 4x6 spots to spell out her daughter’s name and left the space below to insert a picture of her daughter.

 

I decided for my book to fill up every spot with card stock.  That way I will have all the options I need and won’t have to cut any more paper at a later point – fingers crossed.  I kept it consistent by only using paper from one card stock pad. I know I will take many of the cards out and replace them with photos. I included a large amount of white cards because I know I want to tell a story in my own words and I would need the room to do that.

We listened to the Pandora station, Holiday – Mariah Carey, to get us in the holiday spirit. I read Ali’s blog post about 25 Story Inspirations out loud to the group and then we brainstormed different objects we could include in our album. Some of my favorites were subway maps, grocery bags, parking meter receipts, and packaging from the food we make throughout the month. Spoiler alert: our album might look like it’s sponsored by Trader Joe’s!!

 

We used stickers during the party and also divided some up for people to take home and use throughout the month.   We will help encourage each other all December long with an email chain while we individually work on our albums. Then we plan on getting together again in January to finish the album – getting all the photos in place and adding more embellishments.  We can't wait to see everyone's albums!! 

 

The party was so much fun! It was wonderful to catch up with everyone and find out what each person was doing for the holidays. It was the perfect way to carve out the time to make this album happen. We want to personally thank Ali Edwards for coming up with the concept and the other bloggers and instagramers who are sharing their process this year! We also want to thank the fabulous group of ladies who came out for a morning of crafting.  Love you girls!  If you want to create your own album this year, there’s still time. Ali sells a kit on her website if you want to simplify the whole process. This album has increased our excitement for the holiday season for sure!! Let’s do this, December!!!

 

...and if you'd like to get in the holiday spirit enjoy this festive Starbucks Commercial!! No, they didn't buy ad space. And Yes, the promotion is over. But, we think the two kids at 17 seconds in are pretty cute!! 

And...if you just want to cut to the chase here is that one second looped!!
Happy Holidays!!
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October 2014 Recap!

Our favorite month happily lived up to its expectations!!

Our Anniversary

Our kid-free weekend was incredible! I one-hundred-percent love my children and I also totally believe the theory behind putting your marriage first, but I find that extremely difficult when you are raising two little ones who need your help in order to get through the day. If I don’t feed Chad breakfast, he will feed himself. I can’t say the same for Conroy. Our anniversary weekend was much needed. We celebrated 5 years married, but this was the first time in 3.5 years that we were alone in our apartment. We went out to a couple fancy dinners in the city, saw a movie, took naps, and did some home organizational projects. We had time to talk and reminisce. A lot of our talks were about the kids and it was so wonderful to hug and be hugged by those little arms on Monday – but having a little over 48 hours of couple time was just what we needed. I highly recommend it.

 

October Crafts

As with pretty much everything that we actually get accomplished in life, our October Crafts started with a list. We squeezed in each project between school, art class, and weekend visits. Here’s what we did…

Decorated our door. I googled Halloween Door decorations, clicked on images, and let Georgia choose. Surprisingly, she chose a spooky face. We used construction paper and tape to replicate the internet image in real life. We also added created googly eyes to make it a little less scary.

Carmel Apple Lollipops! I read about this on one of my favorite blogs – Love Taza. She paired up with Rachael Ray’s friend Kelsey Nixon and demonstrated several fall-themed treats. Our favorite – Carmel Apple Lollipops! We thought this was genius! We made them twice, the first time with one of Georgia’s besties Hazel. The girls loved unwrapping the caramel and sticking the lollipop sticks into the apples but, truth be told, their attention quickly drifted towards playing Legos so the adults finished them. I didn’t have a melonballer so the first attempt was a little more abstract – in the shape of square chunks. 

Our second attempt was a little more successful. We borrowed a melonballer from our awesome foodie friends and the end product was adorable. Once again the adults loved them, but the kids were a little confused by the caramel – which was very sticky, as caramel is, so they wound up eating plain apples on lollipop sticks! Win for us since that just made the snack healthier.

Halloween Eggs We needed egg cartons in the art class we teach so one week I ended up buying three-dozen eggs. Because I knew we wouldn’t use them all as regular eggs we decided to hard-boil a dozen. We used the Rachael Ray method and they came out perfectly! In need of an afternoon craft project, we decided last minute to dye them orange and draw silly faces on them. We used the directions on the back of the food coloring, filling one big tupperwear container – since we wanted them all to be orange (unlike on Easter when you generally want different colors). Georgia and I had a blast thinking of different faces to draw and using markers – all while Conroy napped! He’s a pro at taking the cap off a marker and tasting it so the timing worked out perfectly.

Pumpkin Flavored Everything Growing up I wasn’t really a fan of pumpkin pie. However, now as an adult I seem to be addicted to anything pumpkin. I must not be the only one because Trader Joe’s offers so many pumpkin flavored foods this time of year – it’s a little overwhelming. The first time I entered the store and was greeted by end-cap after end-cap of pumpkin goodness, I couldn’t help myself. I bought Pumpkin Pancake Mix, Pumpkin Ravioli, Pumpkin Rolls, and Pumpkin Muffin Mix! I’m surprised our family didn’t turn orange! Our favorite was by far the Pumpkin Muffins that we made and topped with cream cheese frosting and sprinkles - which I think technically transformed them into cupcakes. We had so many that we packed up half and gave them to our friends and the security guards in our building as a little fun surprise.

Ghost & Mummy Water bottles & Jack-o-lantern Mandarin Orange Cups This year we helped throw a Halloween party for the building we lived in. A couple of the moms got together for some wine and cheese and decorated water bottles and mandarin orange cups!

Pumpkin Patch

With Georgia’s school we all went on a field trip to Brooklyn Plantology. I hadn’t heard of this place before and was pleasantly surprised when our big yellow bus pulled up. The staff led a wonderful lesson where the kids got to color, touch different pumpkins, and plant pumpkin seeds. They also went on a tour of the plants, fed the two goats, and played in the hay bales. If you have a group of kids, we highly recommend a visit there.

Exercise My Money’s Worth

I completed my Exercise My Money’s Worth challenge. The moral of the story is that if you want to do something you need to find the right motivation. Right or wrong, for me it wasn’t to look better…it wasn’t to lose weight…it was merely so that I didn’t pay money for three months of a gym membership only to use it once! Money was my motivator and it did the trick. I put it out there and, with the help of my Instagram and Facebook friends, I squeezed in thirty-minute sessions whenever I could: evenings when my babysitter was there to help with the bedtime routine, mornings before my husband left for work, or late night once the kids were asleep and he was home! Having this goal – made me do the work. I had thought I didn’t have the time (as still really don’t) but, because I put my mind to it, I made it happen. Did I enjoy i?…o.k. a little. Am I going to do it again?…no thanks! My next challenge – most likely after the holidays -- will be to do an exercise that I truly enjoy like hip hop dance or a Zumba class. Stay tuned.

September Project Life

We did it! Our Project Life September Spread is complete. Blogging about it has definitely helped make it happen. So, thank you for that – and you can read about it here.

My Birthday

This year for my birthday Chad had asked if we could stay in Brooklyn. I said sure. Then, a couple weeks before my birthday, we went to a super fun party where we had to write down a secret – in which he wrote down an actual secret. The woman who picked his secret hilariously panicked a little and swore to keep it a secret because it was “actually a secret.” I instinctually knew she might have had what Chad wrote because that’s totally something he would do.

With both of these clues, I kinda thought he had something planned for my birthday. I mean that is his M.O. He’s good at birthdays. Then Friday came. He baked some cupcakes with Georgia before work, but after work we didn’t do much. At one point the doorbell rang and I thought, “oh I knew it…who could it be!” It was the UPS man delivering diapers I had ordered. Wah Wah. I went to bed a little sad. The next morning he packed the kids into the double stroller and said he was going out to pick me up something. I said fine and enjoyed my time alone making Halloween costumes, still a little sad. About an hour later Georgia came into the art room whispering “Surprise.” I figured Conroy was sleeping and they had bought me a gift. Then around the corner jumped my best friend Katie who lives in San Francisco!! I literally started crying. We had the best weekend – catching up, seeing friends, having brunch with more friends, and doing some Halloween things in the West Village. Katie even chose to fly back on Monday morning and go straight to work, so that we would have all of Sunday together. Seriously – this girl is one of the best!! And Chad truly knocked this birthday out of the park!

Halloween

Halloween continues to be one of our favorite Holidays!! This year was no exception…actually we can confidently say this year was THE BEST YET!! Check out our two sets of costumes – The Berenstain Bears & The Mother Goose Club

Thanks for reading! November has begun and we are happily busy making more crafts and creating memories!! We look forward to sharing them with you.

 

 

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Project Life - September 2014

We did it! We have started our first official Project Life album!! The journey of our first month definitely went differently than we had thought, but I learned some things about myself and got into a grove.

Our Game Plan:

I went into this project full force. I was on a high from finishing our Summer Mini Album and I used that motivation to jump right into this bigger project. I started by taking the same approach that worked for the mini-album. I selected the photos, narrowed them down, and tried to map them out using post-it’s and sketches of the layouts I had planned to use. It was slightly overwhelming at first. I realized I take a lot of photos. My plan was to make one two-page spread for every week.

 

To help me focus I needed to get organized. I printed out my Google calendar for the month, pulled up iPhoto on the computer, and wrote down what we did each day. Once the photos were printed, I made paper pockets to keep things in order (just like I did when making Georgia’s SMASHbook). I put the post-it note on the front of the pocket & also bullet-pointed the main events of each week.

 

A Bump in The Road:

This is when I thought things would just fall into place. All I had to do was look at my sketch and slip the photos into the assigned sleeves. However, I kept feeling overwhelmed because all of my photos were being crammed into the album and I’d often have to omit photos I loved. There just wasn’t enough room and what I was looking at wasn’t “me.”

 

When I first told Chad about my love for the idea of Project Life, he told me he was surprised because he didn’t think of me as a “photo album person”; he thought of me more as an “artsy memory keeper.” I understood his point, but I loved the idea of creating these books as the year happens instead of putting it off or making just one for a specific event. I loved the idea of the memories of everyday life!!

Our Epiphany:

Then I took a step back. What did I want my Project Life album to say? How did I want to record this hectic life of ours? What did I enjoy doing?

First of all – I want to document the stories of our life. I set up my computer, looked at the photos on my desk, and started typing from my heart!

The next thing I want this album to do was to simplify our crazy life. During the week we are BUSY! We’ve got a lot of activities and we are always on the go! That’s how I was raised and that’s how I love to live life. I don’t want this album to emphasize our fast-paced lifestyle, I want it to help us slow down and enjoy! Similar to the reason I love Instagram, I want this album to remind me of how precious this time is and how grateful I am to have this life. That’s when I decided to forget limiting my weeks to one spread a week and focus on the activity. For the most part, each activity got its own one-paged spread, but I didn’t make this a rule and that freed me to just be creative. It also gave me room in each layout to include those stories, ALL the photos I love, the cute cards, and embellishments.

 

My spread went from looking like this….

 

To looking like this…

 

I came to the conclusion quickly that Chad was right. I am more of the artsy memory keeper. I like being messy…so I took my station from the desk to the floor. I laid out all my supplies, got my tools, turned on the music, sat Indian style, and put our book together. I was back in my element. I printed out the stories I had typed. I simply measured the width of the cards I planned to attach the story to, adjusted my margin in Word, printed it on regular computer paper, and glued it onto the card - nothing too fancy.

 

Finally- I still wanted to have the dates in there. I want to have a point of reference so that years from now when it’s all one blur I will know what date things actually happened. When I made the new spreads I didn’t focus on the dates - I just scrapbooked – keeping things relatively in the correct order. Then I used my Google calendar with all my handwritten notes and some Post-Its to go through and clarify the dates.

 

Now that everything was in place – I set myself up for the fun part. I moved back to the desk because it’s easier to stamp there. I pulled all the supplies I love and embellished each page. I didn’t want to overthink this, so I gave myself a time limit. I permanently added the dates using my Dear Lizzy date stamper, I drew a couple quotes and words with different sized Sharpies, and used an assortment of stickers I picked up at the craft store.

 

I am so happy with how the beginning of this album turned out. We have already looked at it together several times as a family and enjoyed the memories.

Here are a few general tips I found helpful while I scrapbooked with Project Life.

  • It is easier to add elements to the pages if you work with the pocket pages NOT clipped into the album. This might be Project Life 101 but, for someone coming from scrapbooking with traditional albums, I started by using the pages clipped in the rings and found it difficult to add the cards when working on the reverse side.
  • I used the diagram on the Project Life box to help me decide which layouts to use. It took me a little adjusting to get used to the bigger photo size – compared to the mini-album. Check back at the end of the year, I have a feeling I might prefer a mini-album, but we will see. I’m not making a decision yet!
  • By focusing on one week at a time, I was able to keep moving along without getting too overwhelmed.

 Now, what you've been waiting for...here are the first 8 two-page spreads of our Project Life 2014/2015 Album.

I used cards from a "School Themed" Project Life card set in addition to some scrap paper I had laying around.  The first page highlights the week, the second page is focused just on the first day of school.

These two pages make me so happy.  Both UT Scouts & the Yankee game were two of my favorite things we did this month.  Letting each one have its own spread gives it the room to breath and allows us to celebrate each event.

The page on the left highlights Georgia's first "sick day."  I used cute card stock and tried to focus on the positive.  The page on the right is a little bit of everything. I love how it looks when a person is cut out of the photo.  My favorite scissors to use for this are EK Success Bee Scissors.

When I originally made page on the left I wasn't able to include the photo of all the kids at the game.  Giving this event its own page allowed me to get it out of the trash.  I just love Conroy's face in that photo.  The page on the right is a little bit from the whole week.  I chose photos that would give you a sense of what was happening.

These two pages are highlighting The Pitman Craft Show.  For these pages I printed out my blog post and glued in throughout the spread. I couldn't find a pre-bought card stock that I liked enough, so I used bright blue paper and cut it into 4x6 rectangles - rounding the corners with a punch.

The page on the left could have been made into two pages on its own, but I paired down the photos because even though I loved them all many of them were very similar.  The page on the right is summary of the week. I used Snap! Stickers to stamp or write the day and date, and then put it directly on the photos.

This is another example of two pages that make me happy.  The left page is the day we found out my best friend is having a girl! The page on the right is the day we spent on Governor's Island. I used cards from the "Teen Girl Themed" Project Life card set. 

For this final spread, I began to run out of 4x6 cards so I cut them out of card stock I had on hand. I kept them all green to help simplify the spread.  I also used one card to handwrite the conclusion to the month of September.

Since this platform has been such a great place for me to put things out there and make them happen, here are three things I plan to do in the future. 

  1. Include more quotes from Georgia. She’s at the age where everything she says is hilarious. I try to write them down, but often forget. I’m thinking about either carrying some cards with me or downloading a voice-recording app on my cell phone. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Include more physical mementos - such as ticket stubs, post-cards, and other things I tend to hoard. This is the perfect place to keep them – why am I not? The SMASHbook format made it so easy to SMASH them into the album. I am determined to include them in the mix going forward.
  3. Include some daily Highs & Lows. Again - Highs & Lows are so “us” and we often do them at the end of every day. I want to make it a habit of jotting them down. Seriously – nothing sums up the day better.

Thank you again for reading and sharing this process with us. We are having a lot of fun and we are excited to get started on October memories. We hope this has inspired you to scrapbook your memories and we’d love to hear about your albums too!

 

 

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Mother Goose Club Halloween Costumes

At first Georgia was completely on board with our Berenstain Bear Halloween Family Costume…we were reading the books, my mom bought the DVD with accompanying stuffed animals, and I was telling anyone who asked. Then one day after watching YouTube on Chad’s phone she said, “You know what, Mom? I think I want to be Mary Mary Quite Contrary from The Mother Goose Club.” I shot Chad a look of “Are you kidding me!?!” I’m not a huge fan of watching YouTube on the phone in the first place and now it was ruining my Halloween plans! Then I took a breath and remembered Halloween is really for her, so I wasn’t going to be the mom who forces her to be something she didn’t want to be. A couple days went by and she still wanted to be Mary Mary Quite Contrary so I asked her if we could compromise…she would dress as Mary for Halloween – go to school, a party with friends, and trick-or-treating. Then on Saturday we could all dress up as The Berenstain Bears for our building’s party! She happily said yes! I was beyond thrilled and up for the challenge!!

 

Now if Georgia was Mary Mary Quite Contrary, what would Conroy be? For those of you unfamiliar with the singing rhyming crew of costumed characters…there is Teddy (a brown bear), Eep (a blue mouse), Baa Baa Sheep (a pink sheep), Mary (yellow haired girl), Jack (blue haired boy), and Little Bo Peep (pink haired girl). We asked Georgia who Conroy should be and she quickly pointed to Baa Baa Sheep! After a couple of attempts of suggesting he dress up as someone else, say Jack or Eep…she stood firm that Conroy would be Baa Baa! So we decided – why not? Conroy would make the most handsome pink sheep around. And can I tell you - he did. Yes, everyone we passed on the street said how cute “she” was, but Georgia happily told them that her brother was a boy and said thank you. That boy wore his costume like a champ. He even let me draw pink circles on his cheeks. We tell Georgia often how lucky she is to have such an amazing brother and this is just another reason to add to the list. The costume truly worked to our advantage because Halloween turned out to be a quite chilly day and Conroy was snug and cozy all day long!

 

Mary Mary Quite Contrary

This costume in theory wasn’t that difficult to make; however, it did have many elements: yellow wig, light pink undershirt, bright pink jumper with pocket, blue shorts, light and bright pink striped tights, and blue high tops. I made a list, printed out a photo, and got to work. It was actually very fun scouring through several stores in search of all the pieces.

I picked up the shorts on sale at Sears, I made the jumper from a pink GapKids short-sleeved dress, and got a pair of light pink tights from Wal-mart. I used bright yellow yarn and an old winter hat to make the wig. I definitely winged this, but I was very happy how it turned out and Georgia loved it.

I experimented with several different techniques to apply stripes to the tights – highlighter, fabric pen, fabric paint.

 

I cut the sleeves off the GapKids dress and shortened it a little so you could see her shorts. I’ve said it before – I am by no means a seamstress, but there are two tips I wanted to pass along to my fellow novice sewers. 

  • PRESSER FOOT IN DOWN POSITION. Before pressing the power pedal be sure to double-check that the presser foot is in the down position. You don’t know how many times I would forget this…especially when my fabric was thick. I’d finish - thinking I was done, then turn over the garment to find an extreme excess amount of thread bunched up. Seriously, Jaclyn – stop making this mistake!
  • THE SEAM RIPPER IS YOUR FRIEND. When testing out the placement of a stitch – do it once and then check it before going back and forth on the ends. If it’s off – use the seam ripper, take it out, and start over. It’s so much easier to fix at this point.

 

The morning of Halloween, I decided I should cover Georgia’s sneakers with blue felt to complete the look. I used a couple pea-sized dabs of hot glue around the sole to secure it. This will make it easy to remove…simply pull it off. Full disclosure…Georgia loves them so much, we still haven’t taken the felt off. A girl never knows when she might want to dress up like Mary again and dance to Rig-A-Jig-Jig!

 

Baa Baa Sheep

Conroy’s costume had a lot less pieces and it must had been fate because my mom already had a sheep costume that she had bought as an option for Georgia’s first Halloween.

We simply dyed the costume pink and removed the sheep patch on the front. (Love that seam ripper) We also bought some pink felt to mimic the shape of Baa Baa’s wool.

 

I cut four-inch strips the length of the felt and cut them into a scallop pattern. I then hand-stitched the felt strips onto the costume. As a final touch, I painted the ears purple so they were the same as Baa Baa’s.

 

Our Halloween day was completely full and we had so much fun…school to see our friends, a small festival in town, back home for Conroy to nap, a party with old friends, trick-or-treating and watching a performance on Clinton Avenue, and back home to trick-or-treat in our apartment building. Then dinner, bath, and everyone was in bed by 8:30 p.m. The fun Georgia and Conroy had was totally worth making two sets of costumes and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Looking forward to next year already!

 

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