Friday, August 31, 2012

5 favorites for Friday

2 posts in one day! *gasp* Before I settle in for the night I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this week.
  1. Etsy is going to be offering site-wide gift cards starting this fall. What a fantastic gift idea for the upcoming holidays! I'm very excited about this, both as a buyer and a shop owner.
  2. This post about how to interact with introverts is hilarious, and spot on.
  3. Tina has some new stamps in her shop and I'm loving this currents one. You know I adore anything that encourages more journaling in my Project Life album.
  4. Elle's Studio introduced their new products this week and I'm crazy about The Sweet Life line. And the stamps. Ha, go figure.
  5. I added these social media icons to the sidebar of the blog this week. I stuck with the neutral titanium gray, but if you are looking to unify the look of your blog, these are simple, awesome + perfect. There's even a HTML tutorial which was super handy!
Have a wonderful weekend!

less + a digital sabbatical : notes from my 24-hour break away from my phone and computer

Last Friday, when Courtney from Be More with Less shared that she was going to be taking a digital sabbatical over the weekend, I was completely inspired to join her. At first glance, no phone and no computer for 24 hours sounded simple enough. Simple, but challenging for this iPhone lover. I decided to give it a whirl.

At 4:30pm on Saturday, we were at the beach and I took one last photo of the kids and my nephews playing at the beach before putting my phone back in the diaper bag. We had a great time that afternoon with my sister and her family and I kept more than busy watching all of those little bodies play in the sand and get in and out of the water. I totally could have taken more pictures (and posted some on Instagram), but refrained and just enjoyed myself.
A few hours later, when we were driving home, was when I got my first temptation to grab my phone. Normally I would have spent that 30 minutes scrolling through my blog reader or Twitter. This time I just sat. Mark and I talked. I sang songs with Morgan + Parker. I had brought a book to read (since I knew I'd be phoneless) but I didn't even touch it. Before I knew it, we were back home.

Once the kids were in bed, I spent my evening unpacking our beach bags, plus some shopping bags from earlier that day. I started a load of laundry and cleaned our kitchen. (I don't know about you but one of my favorite things is to wake up to a clean kitchen in the morning. I love that feeling of a fresh start.) As I unpacked, I took my phone out of the diaper bag and set it face down on the counter near our back door. I'm not sure why, maybe I was taking baby steps, but I never turned my phone off during this break. I just turned it on vibrate. Not that I would have heard it vibrate way two rooms away...

For the remainder of the evening, I sat with Mark and watched a football game. I planned out the following week. I was curious about the weather in the coming days, but looking that up would have to wait. With no internet to suck me into the depths of scrapbooking, social media, blogs and message boards, I was in bed before 10:30. That alone is very rare here.

Both kids were up just before 8 on Sunday and Mark made us waffles for breakfast. The urge to check my email was strong but I stayed busy and away from my phone. More laundry, I repaired a hole in one of Morgan's shirts, and I looked through the new IKEA catalog that's been sitting on our coffee table for 3 weeks. I was finally started to relax and enjoy some intentional downtime without the temptation to get sucked into what everyone else was doing. I was getting stuff done and being with my family. I was present and focused on whatever and whoever was in front of me. And I will be the first to admit, man, that can be hard sometimes!

We played inside and out, and enjoyed the weather. I cleaned a little, organized a little and purged a little. We ate lunch and I made notes - brain dump style - of things I wanted to do, emails I needed to write, and other reminders. After Parker's nap, we got ready to meet some friends at the splash pad and then dinner at their house. During our visit, my 24 hours was up. While the kids ate popsicles in the backyard, I grabbed my phone to capture the moment, then slipped it back in my bag. I ignored the notifications on the screen and reminded myself if I waited this long, I could wait another hour till we were home to "see what I've missed."
And believe it or not, I didn't miss as much as I thought. As a stay-at-home mom, I don't have much adult contact most days, so I adore checking in my with online friends. The vast majority of the daily conversations I have with people are through a keyboard. I love these relationships, but then there is this thing called moderation. I don't have to do it so much. When I think about how habitual it can be to be on the phone, checking Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, email, shop orders, the weather, whatever - this week when I felt I was grabbing it a little too much, I tried to ask myself "why?" For me, it's usually out of boredom or I'm completely unmotivated to do what I should be doing. And the key for me is to choose to be more aware of that. If you too find yourself playing on your phone or computer more than you like, my absolute biggest tip is to keep them out of sight. And at least turn it on vibrate, even for short periods of time. Next time, I might even turn off my phone.

The consensus : when Courtney asked how it went, I said "getting used to not grabbing my phone at every whim was tough, but overall, it was quite refreshing! Need to do more often!" For sure. Probably not weekly, but I could totally do it once or twice a month. What I would truly like to work into my daily rhythm is phone/computer free times. Back at the beginning of the year, one of my less list items was to keep my phone off the table when we're eating a meal. Particularly when other people, even if it's just me and the kids, are at the table. This has been a great time for a mini digital break each day. I'm trying to set a time for myself at night to get away from the screens but have not found a good, consistent fit yet. The busier I get, the more excuses I have. Yup, I am a work in progress.

Have you ever gone on a self-imposed digital sabbatical? Do you set times for yourself for checking email, browsing the internet or working? Any tips to share to get yourself away from the all the screens and in front of the people and things you love?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Project Life : Week 34

Week 34 : August 20-26

This week : pretty typical for us around here. Kids are saying funny things, hanging out with friends and family, and we're spending lots of time outside (including the beach and a little event at our local park called the Marshmallow Fly + Fry - firetrucks, hot dogs and s'mores. Doesn't get much better than that.) Morgan and I have been practicing some school activities - like making and eating fun lunches from her LunchBot. Mark bought an old tandem bike frame off Craigslist and is excited to have a new fall/winter project.

Full spread with insert (click the images to enlarge). The front of the insert is a newspaper clipping about the Marshmallow Fly + Fry :
Left side : 
Really simple this week because of a lack of time / motivation / focused attention. Labels, tags and stamps were my go-to products :
Back of insert (a self-made paper doll that Morgan cutout and dressed) and right side :
Right side :
One of my favorite cards this week is the quote bubble one below. 97% of what Parker says these days is "what's that?" over and over and over. Ahh, two year olds. :)
This Elle's Studio Notes tab stamp is so fun! I just stamped it onto some scrap white cardstock and cut it out before stapling it to my journaling card. I added a little "on back" note where I wrote more about my 24 hour phone and computer sabbatical :
I want to close today with a shop update. I designed 7 new stamps last week and received my samples yesterday. They look awesome! I plan on mounting them this week and seeing which ones will make the cut. If you are following me on Instagram (nicolereaves), you may even catch some sneak peeks! Right now, I'm thinking they'll be in the shop around September 7th.

Also, if you are looking for a theme or a little challenge with your Project Life this week (Week 35), I am going to focus on ME! Yup. As much as I love documenting my family in this volume of books, this week it's going to be all about me. And I'm totally inspired to use Erica's new brushes. Let me know if you want to join me!

As always, thank you so much for looking. This week I'm linked up to The Mom Creative. Check out Jessica's post for more Project Life inspiration! If I forgot something or you'd like more details, just ask. :)

If you are not familiar with Project Life, click here. All of my 2012 Project Life posts can be found here.

Products used this week :

Sunday, August 26, 2012

my less list : no 21

I am back this weekend, feeling quite refreshed after a 24 hour digital sabbatical that was suggested by Courtney from Be More with Less on Twitter last Friday. No phone and no computer from 4pm Saturday until 4pm today, and I handled it surprisingly well. I may write a blog post later this week about my 'day off' since I was keeping a little journal of how I was doing / feeling during the break. Until then, here are my five things this week :
  1. Find a natural / homemade solution for cleaning wood floors. I searched online for a while with no avail. Seems there is a popular solution that includes vinegar but I've heard issues with it stripping the finish on wood floors. That said, I'm not brave enough to put vinegar, even a very diluted version, on our bamboo floors. Gonna stick with store-bought for now.
  2. Put some of the scrapbooking supplies that didn't sell at the garage sale a few weeks ago on eBay - mostly stamp sets + tools. I didn't get to this one. Partly because I'm finding odds and ends to add to the pile. And I'm procrastinating because it seems like such a big task. Sigh.
  3. Replace my horribly over-used, prone to break sweeper / mop and cutting board with newer models. I have put this off for soooooo long. Done and I love them both.
  4. Do another mini toy purge. This time, the stuffed animals, dolls / babies and dress-up accessories are the focus. You know, the stuff that Morgan goes on and on about not wanting to clean up, every single day. Got this done too. I didn't remove much but now her baskets and drawers aren't overflowing. Good deal.
  5. Fall is approaching and the kids are ready with new cooler weather wardrobes. I think it's time I evaluate my own clothing and make a list of what I need (socks + jeans!) and want (cozy sweaters). With that will be another mini closet purge of the clothes I didn't even wear this summer. I can say with confidence if I haven't worn it the past three months, I probably won't wear it a year from now either. Geez, what did I do this week? Another fail here. Hope to tackle it this week.
On the spending front, I feel I've done really well. I stepped foot in Target for the first time all month just this weekend (woah, right?) and bought right from my list, nothing frivolous. I bought one scrappy item with some my dessert contest winnings and used a gift card on a Frappuccino over the weekend (which was sadly disappointing). Five days left and I love how this little challenge has made me more aware of what I have and what I think I want or need.

Each week I write a short list, no more than 5 items long, of simple tasks that I want to complete during that week. Small things, not huge projects, that I can easily do in the span of 7 days. Things that will keep me focused + help me keep my eyes open to the big picture. You can read more about my One Little Word, less, why I chose it + how I'm documenting it in 2012 here. You can read all of my (now updated) less lists here.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Morgan : Right Now : the minibook edition

Back in April when Ali hosted her annual Week in the Life project, I had big plans to change it up a bit and make a minibook each for Morgan and Parker, focusing on their individual lives. You may remember me writing about my plans, including the topics I wanted to cover in their books here.

Since then, those plans changed and now, four months later, I finally finished Morgan's album. As I was collecting the photos + the notes I had been taking, it sort of transformed and became a mini about what her life was like during late spring/early summer of 2012, not just "a week in the life."

As you look through the photos below (feel free to click on them to enlarge and see in better detail), you'll see I used a big mix of products. A good amount of new stuff and a LOT of old stuff. Using old product, specifically the patterned paper and chipboard that I've been hoarding for years, was a big goal with this project. I had plenty of fun stuff I still loved to fit the girly theme and the bonus is, the one person this little book is for isn't going to say "Mommy, isn't this Basic Grey paper older than me?" HA! Well, I hope not. :)

Product links for the goodies you can still buy are at the end of this post. The photo-heavy portion of this post starts now :

There you have it! The best part has been watching Morgan look through her mini and ask "what is this picture from?" and "what does this say?" She loves that this little book is all her. I can't wait to tackle Parker's book next. The album base is done and the photos are in. Now I just need to add the journaling and the cute stuff. I really hope to get that done by the end of the month!

Thanks so much for looking!

Products used in this minibook :

Assorted flair from A Flair for Buttons
Washi tape from Freckled Fawn