Traditions

Traditions mean different things to different people, but they all have something in common. They transcend warmth, comfort and joy. Traditions take us back to times in our life that may mean more now than they did at the present moment. They provide us with the gift of gratitude and connect us with our loved ones, both those who are still with us and those who have passed away.
 
I believe as we age, we appreciate traditions more and find the value in passing them on from generation to generation. My husband and I have begun passing along family traditions to our daughter, several of which take place around this time of year in celebration of Christmas.

What are your favorite traditions? Be sure to capture them on camera and in writing so future generations can experience them as well. Have fun this holiday season :-)

Until next time...enjoy making memories!

Benefits of Nostalgia

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we dusted off old family videos. My family and I had a blast watching the VHS tapes. Yes, a VCR was already present :-) It’s amazing how some things change so drastically and others remain the same. Reminiscing through old photos and videos continues to be a favorite pastime of mine. I can’t think of many other things that bring people together in such a lighthearted way. The young, the old, the gals, the guys…all willingly join in on the experience. One event sparks the memory of another and stories upon stories are shared. There’s laughter, sometimes tears and always good conversation.

I was once again reminded of the joy evoked by nostalgia and had to do some research. Come to find out there are quite a few studies which confirm the power of nostalgia. A Huffington Post article captured many of the benefits:

Helps people relate their past experiences to their present lives in order to make greater meaning of it all.

Increases feelings of social connectedness.

Makes people feel loved and valued.

Increases happiness and self-esteem.

Makes people feel warmer, literally.

Creates increased optimism about the future.

This holiday season, give the gift of nostalgia. Create photo gifts, initiate a “trip” down memory lane and share your fondest stories. Keep taking those photos and videos, and please do display them! They have a greater positive impact than what they’re given credit for. They truly do make a difference in the lives of those who cross their paths.

Until next time...enjoy making memories!

Photo Gifts Galore

The holiday season is upon us. I love this time of year! Thanksgiving always brings me so much joy. The emphasis on gratitude increases happiness all around. Families come together. Comfort foods are in abundance. Pumpkin pie aroma fills homes. Relaxation is encouraged. Ahh. More memories to be made.
 
I make it a point to not overlook Thanksgiving and jump right into Christmas, but I do start thinking about Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving rolls around. In fact, my goal this year is to complete all of my Christmas shopping before December. That way, I can truly enjoy the spirit of Christmas. I envision myself relaxing in my living room sipping hot cocoa, eating dark chocolate and cuddling up with my family in cozy blankets while watching Christmas movies among Christmas tree lights :-) It’s been great motivation for me to get a jump start on my personalized gifts!
 
As you probably know, I often gift photos. The number of customized photo products available today can be overwhelming, so I’m going to share with you ten of my favorites. You’ll notice I’m a fan of a few companies in particular. I’ve shopped around and have chosen these companies because they’re reliable. You can count on them to deliver quality products. 
 
BOARD BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
Pint Size Productions is my go-to company for board books. I typically create the books from a blank template using Adobe InDesign; however, they have a variety of pre-designed templates you can personalize as well. I’ve been very happy with the durability of the books and most importantly, the kiddos love them. Click on the images below to view a couple of my recent designs:

Pinhole Press also has photo board book options. I have not yet ordered one of these books, but I have heard good things about them from friends.
 
NOTEPADS
If you know someone who is constantly writing things down, Pinhole Press’s photo notepads are a great gift. These have been a hit with grandparents and aunts in my family.
 
MEMORY GAMES
Grab the attention of kids in your life by turning photos into a fun game. I’ve created a photo memory game for my niece and recently ordered one for my daughter through Pinhole Press. I cannot wait to relive our vacation while playing this game with my daughter. I know she’s going to love it!
 
CALENDARS
You can’t go wrong when gifting a photo calendar. Almost everyone is appreciative to see loved ones’ faces each month. My favorites are from Artifact Uprising, Pinhole Press and AdoramaPix
 
PUZZLES
If you know someone who enjoys putting puzzles together, this is a meaningful gift. My dad, for instance, can be very hard to shop for. He does enjoy puzzles; however, so I created him a personalized puzzle of him and my mom fishing (his favorite thing to do) - something different to get him other than Fleet Farm gift cards :-) Young or old, most have fun seeing a memory unfold before their eyes. Pinhole Press has photo puzzles for children and adults.
 
PHOTO BOOKS
As I’ve emphasized in the past and based on my service offerings, photo books are one of my favorite photo gifts. The possibilities with photo books are endless, and so many details can be included to help tell the story of the photos. Even better, I’ve never seen a photo book recipient disappointed in their gift. Photo books hold so much heart and soul they’re hard to resist. I’ve used Blurb and AdoramaPix for my photo books in the past. Both deliver user-friendly interfaces and superb quality. In the future, I plan to have photo books printed at Artifact Uprising and Pinhole Press. Just thinking about it gets me excited for the day these beauties land on my doorstep. I have no doubt they will be stunning!
 
SQUARE MAGNETS
I ordered square magnets for my office space. They’re adorable! I know I’ll be ordering more for my home and as gifts. These magnets are a fun way to add charisma to any area. You can order them through Pinhole Press.
 
If you like the look of square photos but don’t have a need for magnets, Artifact Uprising can help you out! They offer square print sets. Sleek and gorgeous.
 
WALL ART
I gush over photo wall art displays. Online or in person, they hook me in every time. I have framed photos all over my house. Surprise. Surprise. As I’m walking from room to room, I can’t help but smile while being reminded of the good memories and fabulous people in my life. For me, photos lift my mood, strengthen my gratitude and inspire me to continue living a life in alignment with my values. I find most people appreciate framed prints to display at their home or in their office. Pinhole Press and Artifact Uprising have beautiful wall art options to choose from. I’ve also created my own designs and then purchased a frame that matches the recipient’s style preference. Here’s a print I created for both sets of grandparents last year:

WOOD BLOCK + PRINTS
Rotating photos in a simple, yet elegant display…you can’t go wrong with this piece of art. Check it out at Artifact Uprising
 
PHOTO QUILTS
My parents gave me a photo quilt of childhood memories while I was in college. I loved it then, and I love it now! My mom’s friend was a quilter and helped her with it. Because I haven’t yet had one made for someone else, I don’t have a company to recommend. I’d suggest starting with a local quilt shop or Etsy. You can get really creative with photo quilts, and they serve dual purposes. So cozy and comforting :-)
 
There you have it. Hope this gives you some gift ideas for your loved ones. If you have questions or would like my assistance with photo gifts, don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d be happy to help!

Until next time...enjoy making memories!

Who Knew Storybook Tributes Could Be So Much Fun?!?!

Over the last few years, I’ve found storybooks to be a meaningful way for me to express my gratitude to loved ones. These have been some of my most fulfilling works of art. As I pieced together each storybook, I was pleasantly reminded of the many blessings in my life. I was also filled with joy knowing that my work was going to make someone else feel valued.
 
Although I often start with the photos when determining the purpose and layout of my storybooks, these tributes were born first by content and then paired with photos. I think that’s what makes them so special. The words are the heart of the book and create meaningful connection that would not otherwise be communicated. The photos then add depth to the stories. The combination can’t be beat!  
 
As you read about the significance behind my storybook tributes and view some of the pages, I hope you’re inspired to show your appreciation in unique ways.

CHERISHED MEMORIES STORYBOOK
I sent a letter via email to my grandma’s family and friends. In the letter, I explained I was planning to create a lifetime of memories album to show my grandma how much she was loved and appreciated. I asked everyone to send me favorite memories and photos they had of my grandma, emphasizing it didn’t need to be anything elaborate (a note on a Post-it, a quick email, etc.). I was blown away by the number of responses I received and even more so by the thought that went into the stories. I had a blast compiling all of the information! It ended up being a gift that not only my grandma cherishes but one that family members find entertaining. It’s a great depiction of the youthful, warmhearted woman my grandma is and has always been.

THANKS TO MOTHERHOOD STORYBOOK
After having my daughter, I became even more appreciative of my mom and wanted to share my gratitude with her. She was deeply touched by this book and delighted in the memories stirred up from the photos.

THANKS FOR THE LIFE LESSONS STORYBOOK
My siblings and I wanted to gift something special to my parents for their anniversary, so we combined life lessons we learned growing up with photos from our childhood years. The storybook was a hit and continues to be a conversation piece with visitors. We all love reminiscing about the good old days.

This month, try using photos and stories to thank others. And don’t be alarmed at how much fun it is!

Until next time...enjoy making memories!

Photos + Gratitude

Hard to believe it’s already November! Although gratitude has become a daily practice for me, it always seems to be more prevalent during this time of the year. I love the all-encompassing inspiration it brings!
 
Since childhood, I’ve found writing thank you notes to be enjoyable and therapeutic. It’s one of my favorite ways to show appreciation to those who have made a difference in my life. Not surprisingly, I often turn to photos to make the notes more personable. I believe adding photos helps to create a stronger connection and emulates a sense of rediscovered joy. Both the recipients and I get to relive moments that mattered.
  
Below are a few samples to get you thinking about ways in which you can use photos to deliver gratitude: 

HUSBAND OF THE YEAR CARD
I wanted to let my husband know how much I appreciated him, so I put together a card depicting the qualities I most admired about him, acknowledging his hard work and expressing my love for him. I surrounded the message with photos of us throughout varying stages of our relationship. Several years later, this still makes me smile. So many good times!

THANK YOU CARD
After our vacation, I sent a thank you to our friends in Norway for their hospitality. Visiting them was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that deserved, at a minimum, a note of appreciation. I hand wrote my words of gratitude on the back of this card. Despite my desire for digital design, I do still love pen to paper.

DADDY, I LOVE YOU FOR… ACCORDION ALBUM
I’ve had fun expressing appreciation on behalf of my daughter by creating tokens of thanks for my husband’s loving and caring ways. This was a little piece of home my husband carried with him while traveling for work.

How will you show gratitude to your loved ones? Get creative and most importantly, have fun with it! More often than not, it’s pieces such as these that become keepsakes for years to come.
 
Stay tuned to find out how I took thank you notes a step further and created storybook tributes to express my gratitude. 

Until next time...enjoy making memories!