If you’ve spent any amount of time here, you know that I’m engaged in an epic quest to organize our personal photos (and have been for almost a year). Many of you have expressed curiosity at my methodology and the processes I’m putting in place, and I’m happy to oblige – once I have everything wrapped up with a bow!
In the meantime, though, I wanted to share one aspect we’ve got down pat, especially since I’m guessing it might be a pain point for some of you: Instagram photos! The photos I share on IG are some of my very favorites, so it makes sense that they’d be a priority to get off my phone and into our home.
Each January, I order 48 to 72 of our favorite Instagram photos from the past year in the 4-inch size via Social Print Studio. (You can purchase them in sets of 24 for $12). They’re printed on velvety-matte paper, and I’ve found the quality to be good. I especially appreciate that you can upload from multiple accounts in the same order as long as you have the passwords, which is great because I choose favorites from John’s account and both my personal and public accounts.
(If we need to round up to reach a number divisible by 12, I’ll add a few more copies of a print I know a family member or friend would love, then pop them in the mail once they arrive!)
From there, I choose our favorite 24 photos from the past year, with a prejudice toward landscape- and adventure-focused shots, and pin them to a bulletin board in our kitchen. I love being reminded of so many beloved places, faces, and memories on the daily, and guests love looking at them, too!
The ones from the previous year come down and, along with the remainder from the new set, go loose-leaf style into a box on our coffee table. (I add the year and any other pertinent info on the back.) The box isn’t organized in any way, which is good because the prints are literally taken out and rifled through every. single. day. June LOVES to discuss them, and they’re a great conversation starter with guests, too!
On this particular day, each stuffie was assigned a photo :)
One last thing I like about this system: it’s a natural way to make sure we’re refreshing at least some of our wall decor on at least an annual basis. It can feel like a monumental effort to get anything on our walls – the choosing! the hanging! – and once something is up, I’m inclined to just leave it. But it’s nice to spiff things up every once in a while, and this is an easy way to do it.
I’m curious: do you have a favorite way of printing your Instagram photos? I think it would be so fun to order one of SPS’s 365 calendars one day!
Anyone else working on Easter baskets? It feels odd to look ahead to Easter when we’re still at the beginning of Lent, but the alternative is… buying things the night before? Can’t do it :)
We chatted last year about Easter baskets – whether celebrating with them takes away from the religious significance of the day – and I loved reading your thoughts. For now, we’ve landed here: Jesus is the best gift we could ever be given. He is love. The day of his resurrection should be the best day of the year. These are hard concepts to illustrate to a three-year-old, but tangible excitement can help – so a basket, given with love from her parents to celebrate the happiest day, is where we’ve landed, along with lots of discussion leading up to the day! (We just added this book to our collection.)
A few budget tips:
1) Save crinkle paper from boxes that arrive throughout the year to line your baskets instead of buying it new.
2) Include items you’d be refreshing for the spring/summer season anyway – pajamas, a bathing suit, sandals, sidewalk chalk. Maximize the impact of money you’re already spending!
3) Though the ideas I’m linking here are all new, use them as inspiration to buy secondhand, if you can. I often pick up toys or clothing at a favorite church consignment sale, including the little wooden bus I included in June’s basket from last year, above.
4) Don’t be afraid to include toys they already own! I love to tuck in June’s two stuffed bunnies, and she thinks it’s so fun to see them hanging out in her basket! :)
5) Presentation is key. Take a minute to arrange things nicely, tie a big bow on top, choose things in their favorite color. It doesn’t take much money to delight a toddler.
Here are a few items that caught my eye in recent searches…
Most of the items are linked in the carousels below, but here are the ones that are not:
Bathing suits and beach fun (can you tell we almost always opt for rash guards?!):
Clothes and shoes:
Toys and games:
So what will we be including in our baskets? Here’s what I’m thinking so far:
June: A new bath towel (she’s still using the one we got her as an infant and it is a liiiiitle small), a rash guard, strawberry jams, 4 bath bombs (I got this pack of 12 last year and put 4 in her stocking, then saved the rest!), Saltwaters, her two stuffed bunnies, sidewalk chalk, and a devotional for preschoolers.
Shep:Saltwaters… aaaaand that’s it. I might roll up a hand-me-down bathing suit we have waiting in the wings and put in a stuffed animal just for fun, but obviously he will not know or care :)
I’d love to hear about any Easter traditions your family has! Pillsbury cinnamon rolls are in our plans for that morning, too :)
About 75% of the time on a night we’re at home, I’m on my laptop. This feels like a lame answer, but it is what it is – since I try to limit screens as much as possible when our kiddos are awake, the time after they go to bed is when I tackle both life necessities – answering emails, updating our budget, ordering more wipes, booking an appointment – and luxuriating in my favorite hobbies (reading blogs and writing my own posts, mostly! :)). I reserve the last half hour or hour once I’m in bed for reading.
John usually occupies himself by reading, watching a show, studying, and taking care of his own life necessities. Sometimes we’ll watch something together, or work on a project (travel planning, when we’re lucky!). But one of the best ways we’ve found to switch things up on a random weeknight is to play a game together.
I know so many of us are looking to break the habit of social media scrolling or mindless TV watching (or worse, both at once!) and connect more purposefully, so I thought I’d share a few of our favorites!
Our favorite two-person games:
Sagrada | Pictured above, this is a gorgeous game that can be played by up to 4 people but is the rare find that I think is actually better with 2! Monopoly Deal | Forget all your dreadful memories of Monopoly – this card game is quick (15 minutes!) and addictive! Seven Wonders Duel | Seven Wonders is one of our favorite games to play with a group, and this slim-downed version succeeds at bringing the fun to a party of two. Eight-Minute Empire | I like that this board is petite, so it’s possible to play in our armchairs, on the little table between them, instead of at our kitchen table. Plus, for some reason I beat John about 75% of the time :) Rock Me Archimedes | We actually don’t own this, but have given it to several family members and love playing it when we’re at one of those recipient’s houses!
Other great two-person games:
Boggle | You know I love me some Boggle, but rolling the dice is SUPER loud, so it’s not the best fit for this season of life where we’re often playing when kiddos are sleeping! Farkle | I’ve only played this in a larger group, but apparently you can play it with two people, too. Bonus: you just need six dice to play this game! Mancala | We don’t have our own board yet, but played this all the time growing up! I’m thinking June might be ready in a year or two. Scattergories | We play this often with 3+, but I suppose you could play it with two people, too. Set | This game is quick and keeps you on your toes – a different style of play than many of the others listed here.
Scrabble Double Solitaire Othello Quiddler Sequence Yahtzee Bananagrams
Here is one reason I like setting monthly goals: it makes me DO THINGS.
Case in point: as I sat down to write this post, I realized I hadn’t made any progress on outfitting our family for bike riding. Because that goal was sitting on my list, I paused, posted on our neighborhood Facebook group, and by the time I was finished writing this post, my next door neighbor had offered up the bike seat her kiddos have outgrown for free!
We can have the best intentions, but still let things – even things we care about! – linger for days/weeks/months without taking action. Identifying the little steps I’m going to take forward each month – and then holding myself accountable! – is the best way I know to move toward the life I want.
On my calendar this month:
— Speaking at my church’s young adult gathering – I’m bringing these, which should be fun! :)
— The Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day parade
— June’s first foray into team sports (soccer – at a field we can walk to!)
— My favorite consignment sale
— Shep’s school pictures :)
What I’m loving right now:
— I ended up returning the heart tee I mentioned in last month’s post (the fit was a little weird!), but I have been wearing and loving this fun striped number from Boden!
— These sesame beef tacos are DELICIOUS and easy.
— As lifelong Jeopardy! fans, we have been eating up the first-of-its-kind All Star Games. The tournament wraps up with the finals today and tomorrow!
What I read in March:
— Sing, Unburied, Sing: This novel was both lyrical and harsh, even hard to read at times. I’m glad I read it, though – it “broadened my horizons,” as my Dad likes to say.
— Meet the Frugalwoods: I checked this one out of the library on a reader’s recommendation (thanks, Elizabeth!). While I don’t think it will win any writing awards, I was grateful for the encouragement to double down on frugality in certain areas. Lifestyle creep can be as relentless as kudzu, and since most of the messages we get each day are the exact opposite of helpful (more! more! more!), it’s important to intentionally feed ourselves reminders that the good life is not waiting on the other side of a purchase.
Revisiting my February goals:
Cull and sort 2018 and 2016 iPhone photos (This goal is majorly besting me!) Buy a trainer for our bikes OR choose a bike trailer or kiddo seat (Done! Thank you, neighbor!)
Read a book about Sabbath Stand for the first hour of every work day (Not every day, but most days!) Make a final decision on our living room rug Share my magic list (Done!)
— Cull and sort 2018, 2016, and 2015 iPhone photos (!!!)
— Go on an inaugural family bike ride
— Arrange for a vapor barrier to be installed
— Sell our old rug
— Set a camping date for late summer/early fall
— Paint a few of our living room gallery wall frames
— Explore Squarespace for our new church site
— Buy a preschool devotional (any recommendations?)
— Rearrange and organize the loft (stop laughing)
As a reminder, many of the goals above are drawn from my 2019 goals!
I would love to hear what you’re working on these days… decluttering? Meal planning? Exercising? Reading good stuff? Anyone in the photo organization trenches with me? :)
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