30 Days of Gratitude Mini Book


I’m so excited to be sharing the finishing touches on this gratitude mini book today!

Before getting into any details I’d like to first saying THANK YOU to everyone who ‘liked’ or left a sweet comment on my Instagram account over the last 30 days.  It truly motivated me to finish this project strong and make sure that I got up a daily post.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

#30DayGratitudeMini 2#30DayGratitudeMini#30DayGratitudeMini 5#30DayGratitudeMini 3#30DayGratitudeMini 4

(For a detailed look at each page you can head over to my Instagram or search the hashtag #30daygratitudemini)

This project was all about spending some time every day looking at something specific I am grateful for.  Although I try to practice daily gratitude, there is always more time that can be spent in this area, so for the 30 days in November I decided to do just that.

My “objects” of thanks ranged from little things like the cute coffee mugs that make me happy in the morning, to sunshine and fall leaves, to the people that I love.

I didn’t try to dwell on what I was including or not including and I didn’t rank my items so I’d be sure to include what I considered to be the 30 most important things to be thankful for.  Instead, I took it day by day and just posted something I was feeling grateful for at that time.


I wanted the look of my mini to be consistent throughout so I decided that for every entry I’d have a photo that related to what I was grateful for and on the right and I’d do some journaling on the left.  I typed up all of my entries and then used the Southport alphabet stamps by Kelly Purkey with Archival blank ink to stamp all of my headers.  On most of the journaling pages I also added a few simple embellishments. IMG_5886

I really wasn’t intending to add in any extras to this mini, but when I received my November Studio Calico Documenter kit and saw how well some of the 3×4 cards fit with some of my pages, I knew I had to include them.IMG_5898IMG_5896

I love how adding these few extra cards added quite a bit of interest and some dimensionality to my mini. IMG_5883IMG_5884IMG_5887

This Live in the Moment transparency is my favorite insert.  I thought about just adding the transparent die cut directly over my image but instead I cut down a transparency sheet and glued the phrase on top so when you flip the transparency page you can see the image in it’s original state.


I had so much fun creating this mini and it’s by far my favorite book to flip through at the moment.  Although there is so much more to be grateful for, I’m happy to have these 30 documented.

If you were working on a gratitude mini book in November or participating in a daily challenge to document your daily gratitudes, I’d love to hear about it!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

IMG_6928Last year was our first year hosting our families for Thanksgiving.  I can’t really take major hosting credit here because while we had the meal at our house it was more of a potluck style gathering.  Our families ended up making most of the side dishes because they’re awesome like that, O took on the Turkey (did I mention how sweet my husband is :-), and I took on the decorations (my favorite part, of course) and the crock pot mashed potatoes.

While I’d love to have our families over for many more Thanksgivings in the future and actually treat them to dinner instead of having them cook most of it, I’m really happy that this year we’ll be gathering at my parents’ house to enjoy the day.  I’m so looking forward to spending the day with my family and eating a delicious meal together.

From our family to yours, have an amazing Thanksgiving!

P.S. In case you’re in need of an easy and fun DIY for place setting cards for Thanksgiving or any dinner parties this season you might like this post from last year!

Project Life: November 9-15

November 9-15 Cover

Sometimes I struggle with what everyday stories to include in my project life album.  Do I want to include all the tiny details, or just some of the highlights?  Should I include stories where photos weren’t taken?  (YES!).  Should I be lengthy in my journaling, or do the photos do a good enough job telling the story?

These are questions that occasionally run through my head as I’m working on my album.  Even after nearly six months of working on this project I’m still figuring out how I like to document.



This week was a very full week and I struggled with what to include in my album.  I included the story of my first trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and wrote about how we spent most of the day looking at jellyfish and sharks.  I also included our trip to the Cinemark theater after leaving the aquarium to watch the new James Bond film, where I discovered that theaters with reclining leather seats do exist in California, and tickets aren’t even that much more expensive!  I included the story of our trip to an awesome Italian restaurant that we first discovered when we were running the Long Beach half marathon a few years back, but I left out the story about how we didn’t find the food quite as amazing this time around and how I hoped that the reason for that was only because we’ve tried even more amazing food since then!



I also left out three other mentionable moments from this week, like how I tried Japanese food for the first time and “accidentally” ate heart and tongue (yes, you read that right), and when I tried Korean BBQ (also for the first time) and got reassured that stepping out of my food comfort zone really can be a good thing.  I also left out the story about a Friendsgiving we went to, and about how I met some really awesome people and two of the cutest cats (and yes, the cats are totally worth mentioning :-)

So there it is.  These are all the main stories from this week.  Some went into the album and some stayed out (although after I print this out and stick it in my album they’ll all be in there).


There is no right or wrong way to document our memories.  I find it so cool that we can tell (or not tell) our stories any way we like! We get to decide what memories we want to remember in vivid detail, and which ones are maybe not worth noting.

How do you decide which stories to include in your album?

Supplied Used:

Wink Wink and Canyonlands main kits from Studio Calico

Pink Paislee Atlas Ephemera

Project Life: October 26-November 8


It’s November and I’m still loving this project.  In all fairness I didn’t start my Project Life album until June, but 5 months and many layouts later, here we are, with lots of steam left to finish out this year!

Right now I’m still leaning towards carrying my Project Life album through December while also working on a December Daily, but that may end up being too much.  The holidays are so busy, and with O finally having some weekends off in the near future, I think I’m going to play this decision by ear.


First up is my October 26-November 1 layout.  No crazy Halloween photos here!  We had a really low key night.  My family came over for dinner and we spent the rest of the night playing Catan while taking turns answering the door to see all the cute trick-or-treaters in their costumes.  This was the best Halloween I can remember in recent years.  I’m not really big on parties, and being outside when there are people walking around looking like zombies isn’t really my thing either,  so spending time with my family who gets equally excited about seeing the cute costumes as me was awesome!


The cards that I used on both layouts for these two weeks came from the Studio Calico “Wink Wink” and “Canyonlands” main documenter kits.

I’ve noticed that my layouts jump back and forth between being super colorful and more muted with pops of color.  The Studio Calico kits are really versatile and so far I’ve always been able to find several things that fit with what I’m needing for every layout, so that’s pretty awesome.

I wasn’t too crazy about that Catan photo I took on my cell phone in very bad lighting, so I tried to balance things out with some bold alphas stamped across the middle.  I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but these alphas are so awesome! They are perfect for small projects because they are tall and thin.  Love a bold letter that fits on a small project!IMG_5811IMG_5810

My November 2-8 Layout was super simple. Most of the week was just spent working (and apparently drinking coffee, ha!) so I didn’t have a lot of photos.  That’s when these pretty filler cards and embellishments come in so handy.  They’re too pretty to cover up anyways :-)IMG_5818IMG_5819

I’d love to know how many people have a photo of this to-go cup from Starbucks in their album.  It’s like a fall staple, right?  I went through months of being bummed every time I got the normal white cup, and then, just as the red cups started appearing I got the last of this design- woo hoo!  It’s amazing how these little things can make a girl so happy.  Oh wait, is it just me?IMG_5820

Happy Wednesday, everyone!  Have a good one!

3 Tips For Making a “Bad” Photo Amazing (And a Fun 12×12 layout)

You are my home

Some of my favorite photos I have ever taken are either slightly blurry, grainy, or taken in some horrible lighting.  In my ideal world there would be fantastic lighting everywhere I’d go and my subjects would always pause for a second while I captured that perfect shot (#yeahright).  That’s obviously not a reality, but there are some things that can be done to improve the look of a photo with just a few Photoshop tweaks.  Today I’d like to share my favorite method for a quick fix in this situation.

The photo that I’ve used in this layout is super special to me because it captures a typical moment in our everyday life.  It was totally unplanned right up until I decided to snap the photo.  We had just finished eating dinner when I grabbed my DSLR, set it on the opposite side of the table, set a 10 second timer and then jumped back in my chair and tried to act natural.  I took 3 photos (don’t worry, my husband already knows I’m crazy :-) and this was the last one.  It’s not completely “in the moment;”  we don’t always hold hands when we’re talking and we aren’t always this smiley in conversation, but still, this moment is actually pretty candid.

I instantly loved the photo, but I definitely didn’t love that orange cast of light that made me look like an oompa loompa.  So, here’s what I did!

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One of my favorite ways to reduce the appearance of imperfections (grain, blur, bad lighting) is to desaturate the photo.  To do this in Photoshop you go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation and then drag the Saturation arrow to -100.  Voila, black and white photo.

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Now, if you had bad lighting in your photo to begin with, you might find that your photo comes out looking very flat in grayscale.  No worries, there’s an easy fix for this. Simply go back to Image > Adjustments and then Brightness/Contrast.  I increased my brightness in this photo a little bit and pulled the contrast way up.

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The final step in my process is playing with the highlights.  You can find this adjustment option under Image > Adjustments > Shadows/Highlights.  The difference is super subtle, but if you look closely you can see how the photo looks a little more crisp.   Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.29.44 PMNow that I no longer looked like an oompa loompa I could print this baby out use it for fun layout :-)

IMG_5804In my opinion, the best part about working with a black and white photo is that you can get a little crazy with the colors.  I normally wouldn’t pair baby pink with lime green because one of those colors would probably clash with the colors in the photo, but here the green adds an unexpected pop of color in a good way. IMG_5807IMG_5806

These leaves with the gold foil outlines from the November kit from Studio Calico have to be my favorite elements on the page.  I love the gold foil!IMG_5805See, super quick!  What Photoshop tricks are your favorite for enhancing the photos you might otherwise toss in a drawer?

Main Supplies Used:

October ‘Wink Wink’ kit by Studio Calico

November ‘Canyonlands’ kit by Studio Calico

Amy Tangerine Stitched Collection Paper 

December Daily and Stamping Experiments!

December Daily FoundationIMG_5801 IMG_5795Happy December!  Oh wait, it’s not December yet? Clearly my office didn’t get the memo.  It looks like a Christmas confetti bomb exploded all over the place!

For the last week or so I’ve been happily adding to my stash of Christmas paper goods and putting together the foundation pages for my December Daily album.  This is probably as far as I’ll go with my album until December hits so I thought I’d share where I’m at. As fun as it is to keep adding and adding, sometimes I find that too much preparation can limit flexibility later on.

IMG_5788Cover Page:

I always get a bit nervous when I’m about to make a cover. It’s similar to the feeling of starting a new journal or planner- I just don’t want to mess it up!  In the cases when I really don’t have a direction in mind, I’ll choose materials that I don’t mind playing around with and possibly trashing if I don’t like how everything’s coming together.  Stamping is always a fun and inexpensive option for doing this.

For this cover I cut down an 8.5×11 transparency sheet to the size of my album, and used white Brilliance ink to stamp snowflakes in a random pattern all over.  This ink works well on transparency, but I did have to be careful not to smudge.  I used a light and steady hand when stamping and waited several hours for the ink to dry before doing anything else (waiting is always the hardest part!)  Some snowflakes turned out a little blurry, but overall I’m really happy with how it came together.IMG_5789IMG_5791

Next, I adhered one of the Christmas tree wood veneers and the rubber December Daily banner that came in the Ali Edwards Main Kit.  IMG_5792IMG_5793

This is just about the cutest Christmas tree I’ve ever decorated ;-) I probably would have used red and gold enamel dots for the ornaments, but since I didn’t have any on hand, pink and yellow was the direction I went.  Mixing it up here, friends!IMG_5799Divider Inserts:

I really liked how my cover turned out with using the transparency so I started working on some divider inserts too.  I’m not really planning to divide anything up in my album, but I like how using different sizes adds more interest to the album. These inserts measure 3.5″ wide by 8″ long.

I used the Joy, Peace, and Love stamps from an old Hero Arts set, and this time I decided to try Black StazOn ink to see if it would cut down on drying time (see how impatient I am? Ha!) The ink I used for the ‘Joy’ and ‘Peace’ inserts was a little dried out so it actually worked perfectly.  There was zero drying time and the words came out slightly faded, which was a nice bonus.

The ink was a little too dry when I got to stamping ‘Love’ so I broke out a new ink pad, which sadly didn’t work quite as nicely.  The wetness of the new ink made things slippery so it was difficult to get crisp words.  Sometimes it’s just trial and error!


I’ve added number tags to all of my other pages, which are basically placeholders for the moment.  For some reason I like having them there . . . is anyone else like that?  It’s kind of fun having a countdown to Christmas!

So, do you have plans of putting together a December Daily of some kind this year?  Sometimes I think it might be nice to just do a daily Instagram post capturing a special moment each day.  Definitely not as involved, but I can totally see how that could be equally as special.

Let’s Do Brunch!

IMG_5778 I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of food!  Breakfast/brunch is usually my favorite meal of the day.  You just can’t go wrong with something you can pour syrup on and compliment with a cup of coffee, am I right?

Well, there were several months in the past year when O was driving back and forth from Sacramento every week for work.  He’d get home around midnight Friday night and on late Saturday morning we’d both look at each other and try to figure out what we’d want to eat for breakfast.  More often than not we’d find a nearby restaurant and settle in for brunch.  It was seriously the best.  Time to chat with the hubby over a waffle and coffee?  Yes, please!

Brunch sort of became our thing.  When the weeks felt long and the miles between us seemed WAY TOO LONG, at least we had Saturday morning to look forward to.


As I was scrolling through my iPhoto library last weekend, I kept coming across all of these food photos I had taken from our brunches.  A layout had to be made :-) I took my favorite six photos and decided to make a grid layout with them.

The best part about food is that it’s usually pretty colorful so I had a lot of fun tying many different colors and patterns together.  I used a black and white graph-like paper from Studio Calico as the foundation for my photos and cut up strips of this Pick Me Up paper from Pebbles to separate my rows of photos. I love all of those colorful little to-go coffee cups!


I had been hoarding these Amy Tangerine alphabet thickers forever, so I pulled them out and put them to use.  I also stamped a couple of food phrases from the Kelly Purkey Food Coma onto regular white cardstock and adhered them as embellishments.IMG_5780

I’m really happy with how bright and cheery this layout turned out- it goes along great with all of those fond memories of our delicious brunches!

Project Life: October 12 – 25

Project Life Oct. 12-25 TitleIs anyone else out there struggling with the new “fall back” time change?  Don’t get me wrong, the extra hour of sleep on Sunday totally rocked, but I’d give it back in a second for some extra daylight towards the end of the day!!  It’s a bit of a bummer leaving work when it’s pitch black outside ;-)

Oh well, moving on! This month was pretty special in that it was the first month that I purchased a subscription box from Studio Calico.  Now, if you’re a die hard paper lover like me I think you might be wondering, girrrrrrl what took you so long?!  For the longest time I held out for one main reason . . . the unknown factor.  It was hard to justify spending $30 a month on products that would be chosen for me and I didn’t know if I’d like everything that would be included.  I’ve done subscriptions for other types of services before and it’s unusual for me to love everything that comes each month . . . I may be a little picky (ahem, selective :-).

Well, I finally got over my reservation and decided to just do it! I signed up for a 6 month subscription so I could get a free bonus goodie bag (totally worth it!) and then followed that shipment tracking information right up until it said it was waiting on my doorstep.  I may or may not have rushed home that evening, gave my husband a quick peck on the cheek when I came into the house saying “just a sec” while I rushed out the front door to retrieve the box.  Yup, I was kid on Christmas morning excited. I can honestly say that the anticipation and joy that little box brought me was totally worth spending every one of those pennies on “the unknown” (not to mention, I did end up liking nearly everything in the box ;-)

IMG_5765IMG_5766For my October 12-18 spread I used some free journaling cards that Jasmine Jones offered on her website and paired them with those transparent stars, a little tag card, and that adorable black polka dot washi tape from the Wink Wink Studio Calico box.

The “Just Because . . .” phrase was stamped out with the Kelly Purkey Southport Alphabet Stamps , which I am getting so much use out of! See this project to see how well they can work on just about any size of layout :-)

IMG_5771For my October 19-25 layout I was able to put some of the Studio Calico journaling cards to use.  I love the bright green and red colors that were incorporated into this kit, and that My Happy Place card totally fits with the bottom photo of me with my mom and sister at a craft fair OR of the top photo of my desk.  Both of those places are certainly happy places for me :-)


IMG_5774The ‘Big Things Happen One Day at a Time’ typography came from a little card that was included in my shipping box when I received my Get to Work Book.  This phrase perfectly captures everything I was feeling that week so I really wanted to include it on the layout.


I also pulled out this oldie but goodie “This is How I Roll” stamp by Kelly Purkey.  Little fun fact: I think this was the first EVER stamp I purchase online.  I definitely need to dig this one out more often :-)

So there you have it, two more weeks into my Project Life album.  I can’t believe this year is almost over and soon I’ll be wrapping this binder up!  I’ll be putting together a December Daily album this year, but I’ve decided I’d still like to continue doing my project life spreads throughout December too.  It’s going to be a busy month!

Have you started thinking about Project Life for next year?  I think I might take a leap and switch up the size of my album next year.  Still plenty of time to decide, right?

A 30 Day Gratitude Project

IMG_5759This has been a project that I’ve thought about doing for years but never really dove into.  I’ve always loved the idea of having a gratitude list that can be referred to on days when I’m feeling like I “need” something or when I’m just feeling a little down.  It’s always in those moments when I find myself reminding myself that I really do have everything I need and that there’s already so much to be thankful for.

A list of 30 “things” really only scratches the surface, but at least it’s a start.  For this project I’ve given myself a 30 day goal (you all know how I love goals! :-)  to complete this mini-book (one page for every day in November), so that by the end of the month I’ll have this little album of gratitude.


Normally I get excited about all of the little embellishments I get to use in a mini album, but for this project I really want to keep things super simple with pictures and words.  My basic supplies are scissors, a paper trimmer, black Archival Ink (I also love black StazOn ink, but I’ve found the archival works best for any kind of surface), these Kelly Purkey Alphabet stamps for all of my headers, some little embellishment extras I have on hand, and a gold 4×4 instagram album with a bunch of 4×4 page protectors to hold everything together.  I’ll also be printing my photos out on glossy Kirkland photo paper and using regular white cardstock to print my journaling on.


If you’d like to see how this project is already coming together and see daily updates then feel free to head on over to my Instagram!

Happy Monday, Friends!  If you’re reading this then please know that I am very grateful for you in taking time to stop by and read this post :-)

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton