Love & Marriage

Present Projects: A Few Sweet & Personal Gift Ideas

Woot! Yesterday we OFFICIALLY BROKE GROUND ON THE BIG DECK PROJECT! Although breaking ground is a bit of an overstatement since we are not even close to digging post holes yet – we’re still working on getting our ledger board up (those are the support beams that run along both sides of the house to start the deck frame). Let’s just say that cutting and drilling into brick – especially brick that makes up the side of your house – is not for the faint of heart. So we still have a long way to go, but we’ll be back on Monday to share our progress! Until then here’s an Instagram sneak peek that I snapped of Clara playing Job Site Supervisor while peering through the sliding glass doors (you can actually see some ledger boards hung against the house in the reflection):

But back to the real subject of this post: present projects. You know we love a project. Especially when it’s personalized. May is always a busy month for gift-giving in the Petersik family. Not only did we have Clara’s birthday and Mother’s Day back-to-back, but in the past two weeks we’ve also marked my mom’s birthday, Sherry’s mom’s birthday, my sister’s wedding anniversary and my parents’ wedding anniversary (their 40th!). So there are lots of milestones to be celebrated… and lots of gifts to be given. But we’ll spare you a run-down of every unwrapped gift and just show you some of the highlights – mainly the things we designed/put thought into customizing and personalizing with a little DIY design input.

Let’s rewind first to Mother’s Day, when I coordinated with my three sisters to give our mom a gift that was inspired by our visit to Richmond’s Spring Bada-Bing craft fair in April. Look familiar?

Those are the Articipe prints that we spotted at the craft fair, and I ordered four custom prints for my mom (there was a “buy 3 get one 1 free” deal going on, so it was $75 for the four 5 x 7 prints and $20 for the four Ikea Ribba frames). I loved that my three sisters went in on them with me so they could be from all of us (we each selected our favorite recipe of my moms and they were apparently so iconic that my mom could guess which person picked each one). She had given each of us a collection of her go-to dishes after we graduated, so were able to use that to get the recipes just right.

I chose “Chicken Squares,” which is some old Pillsbury recipe that I’ve made so often I can basically do it with my eyes closed (this version listed here is similar, but not exact, to what my mom cut out of a magazine at least a few decades ago). Of course the Articipe version came out much more beautiful than any recipe I learned off of!

The recipes my sisters chose were Black Bottom Cupcakes, Dutch Babies, and Derby Pie – and we were sure to chose a color scheme that worked with my parents’ kitchen decor. Of course the Black Bottom Cupcakes had to be in black:

My sisters and I actually had a great time picking the recipes and reminiscing about our favorites – wondering when we last had a certain meal and comparing what was popular with my mom at what time (there are 13 years of age between my oldest sister and youngest sister, so things evolved a bit throughout our childhood).

My mom loved them. And after accurately guessing which of us had chosen each recipe, in true form she pointed to a Derby Pie that she had brought with her to our Mother’s Day celebration. Love you mom!

While we’re on the topic of my parents, let’s switch celebrations to their anniversary. Specifically, their 40th wedding anniversary (thanks all who congratulated them when I posted this Instagram pic of the breakfast we whipped up for them last Sunday morning).

But breakfast wasn’t our gift. Though the present was once again meal related – and also in the vein of commemorating something my sisters and I grew up with. Before any sit-down meal growing up we would always say grace. We held hands and said the same words every time: “Thank you God for a pretty day.” I’m not sure the origins of it, nor why we adopted “pretty” as the adjective to describe our gratitude but it has been something we’ve said for decades. And the other day it struck me just how meaningful the saying was: we were walking in the park with Clara when Sherry and I each took one of her hands. She took holding hands as a cue and shouted “Thank you PRETTY DAY!!!” We couldn’t stop laughing.

So that night I whipped up this graphic in Photoshop (the small font is Bangla MN found on my Mac, the other is Freebooter Script downloaded here):

I then hunted down this listing for a custom platter on Etsy and emailed my sisters with the idea. They were in, so we ordered it (it was $70 with shipping) and a couple of weeks later this came in the mail:

We figured they can display it or actually use it to serve food on, that way our sweet little family grace is present at every meal in more ways than one. But whatever the use, we were all just so happy they liked it as much as they did. My sister managed to capture some shots of the gift-opening this weekend, but this is the only one I’ll dare share. Once it was actually opened there were some tears going on – and I know better than to post photos of any of our family members’ cry-faces.

I have to admit that I was tempted to make a gag version based on the time my dad slipped and accidentally said “Thank you God for a pretty face.” Something tells me this was the better choice though…

Oh, and if you’re wondering what Clara, Burger, and I gifted Sherry for Mother’s Day – well, among other things (like the flowers shown here) we finally got Sherry two of those West Elm Hive Vases she has ogled for at least a straight year. Here they are hanging out on the fireplace mantel in the kitchen. You know we have a thing for bees

And there was also the One Word A Day journal that Sherry mentioned back in this post. It was on sale for $5 at Urban Outfitters so I thought it’d be a fun addition to Sherry’s journaling tendencies.

Of course in true mother-ing fashion, Sherry’s using it to document Clara. She thought it’d be fun to write down a new word Clara was saying, but ultimately decided it’s more entertaining to write full sentences or conversations that Clara’s cracking us up with – like this one that coincidentally happened after saying grace one night. Yes, she thought we were saying “a man” instead of amen. So naturally she wanted to include a lady too.

Anyone else have a gift-tastic month? Did you get (or give) anything particularly designed or personalized? Is anyone else excited like me that a quieter celebration month is upon them? Or at least a month where they get to be celebrated – hello Father’s Day!

Psst- Speaking of presents, we shared a sweet one that Clara got for her birthday over on Young House Life.

Pssssst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner, so click here to see if it’s you.

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Our Family’s Picture Storage Solution: Yearly Photo Books

We’re working on hanging our new pendant lights so we’ll be back to share those pics in the morning. In the meantime, let’s talk about something people ask about all the time: photo storage. Ever since seeing Katie Bower’s family photo book two summers ago, we’ve been drinking the photo book Kool-Aid – starting with our very first Family “Yearbook” that we made last summer (you can read about that here). And now that another year has wrapped up, well, let’s just say this arrived last week:

It’s one big glossy photo book stuffed to the gills with all of our family photos from 2011. Except the perk is that while it has around 600 photos, it’s only about a half-inch thick. Which is awesome for storage purposes (way less cumbersome than thick overstuffed photo albums that only hold 100-200 pics each). We ordered it through MyPublisher and thanks to a promotion they were running for free extra pages, we got to max out their page limit (100) and pay nothing extra. The discount (which has ended since we received our book – but they tend to pop up pretty frequently) actually saved us $79! And we’d easily pay $44.99 to print all those pics (not to mention having to buy a bunch of albums to put them in) so a photo book can actually end up being quite the deal. And no, they didn’t pay/perk us to write this, we just like our photo books. Haha.

We did our last “yearbook” way after the fact (like mid-2011), so it took a bit of backtracking to organize all of the photos. But for 2011 we planned ahead and kept all of our photos in one iPhoto album (which automatically kept them in chronological order for us), which is why it only took a couple of weeks into the new year to actually get this one done. So let’s take a quick look through all one hundred pages… just kidding. We’ll just take a peek at some of the highlights – like our opening page that we edited to include some text to summarize some of the, well, highlights from the past year. We think we’ll love looking back on it (and having a summary of the whole year on one page).

We also tried to group big events, holidays, and milestones – like the several spreads of Clara’s 1st birthday party. Check out how dark our kitchen was in the bottom left corner!

We also used the preset page designs to give some really special photos the layouts they deserved, like the ones Katie B. snapped when we visited the Bowers in June.

And since it’s not hard for these albums to turn into a Clara-fest, we paid special attention to making sure Burger got plenty of love as well. He even scored a few dedicated pages throughout (every album needs a good Burger-montage or three).

We also thought it was fun to put all of the photos we took for our Blogiversary “Day In The Life” post into the yearbook in order. That way in 15 years we can look back and sort of remember what a normal day was like way back when…

We nearly ran out of pages by the time we got to Christmas (darn 100 page limit!) but managed to make room. Heck, we even squeezed in a collage of a bunch of our holiday card outtakes. Yeah, we’re kind of into our kiddos.

So since we’re on a family yearbook high – especially now that our collection is two albums strong! – we’re already excited to make the 2012 version.

But because that’s not possible yet (unless we want it to be 3 pages long) we’re thinking that we may try to organize our old digital photos and make one or two books that’ll hold all of the photos from 2005 (when we met) to 2008 (right before our 2009 album picks up). Maybe we’ll work on those books once a certain manuscript is in the can.

Oh yeah, and here’s our favorite photo bomber again, just trying to get in on the action.

Anyone else making photo books or albums to document the past year? Or any other event or period of time? We’d love to hear other systems people have for organizing and displaying their family photos.

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