words first = documenting Week in the Life.

I decided at the very last minute this morning that I was going to participate in Week in the Life (WITL).

The last time (and first time) I participated in WITL was in August of 2014.  I wasn't super successful in this project the first go-around.  I took waaaayyyy too many photos and had way too much content to sort through.  It was pretty damn overwhelming.  And I haven't done it since.

But reading Ali's posts + listening to her talk on the podcast inspired me to give it another go.  There were things I absolutely loved about WITL.  Photos I absolutely loved.  And I think it's in part because of that project I learned to appreciate and fall in love with everyday moments and details.

So I'm approaching it words first.  (Which is an absolutely struggle for me, because my first instinct has always been "take a photo of that!")  I took only a few photos this Monday, including the one above of our Cocoa girl.

I want to focus on the words + details + stories.

And I'm hoping that approaching it this way will lead me to a more successful Week in the Life documentation that I will love AND finish.  Crossing my fingers!


PS: Are you documenting your week this week?  Let me know so I can check it out!

love for the mailbox.

I love sending out happy mail.  Totally love it.  I always mail things out late.  Always.  In 2015, I mailed our Christmas cards out the day after Christmas.  Really.  I also have way too many ideas and not enough time.  There, I admitted it all.

Now that that's out of the way!  One of my goals for this year was to send out more happy mail.  I really really enjoy sending out happy mail to people.  I know I love opening my mail box and finding a handwritten envelope and wondering "Who sent me something?  I wasn't expecting anything!"  So I know if I enjoy this, I'm sure other people do as well.

Lots of people have been expressing the same feelings the last couple months: what can I do to change the world?  To make this a better place?  To do good?  (We all know why we're feeling that, no need to get political!)  I too feel the same way.  What little things can I do to make a difference?

For me, one of the answers is HAPPY MAIL!  And, as said before, one of my goals this year is to send out more happy mail.  So, when I found these handmade tags and envelopes (I created a few years ago) in a box, I decided to pass them on to some friends and family.  So (ahem, one day after Valentines Day, don't think that's going to change!), I wrote a little note for each handmade item, signed and sealed them, and off they went to 8 randomly-selected contacts from my phonebook.

And you know what happened?  I made someone's day, and received some very lovely messages from the recipients.  The recipients being my grandpa, a few cousins, my aunts, my mom, and a few dear friends.  And those people took the time out to thank me for making their day and for the little surprise (sorry for getting your hopes up Aunt Sandy, not a baby announcement...).  And it was sooo lovely.

And I plan to do it again soon!  Getting nice messages from people wasn't my goal, I purely wanted to do this just because, but it made me feel so good and appreciated!  And filled me up!  And that's a freaking awesome feeling!


#nndailytip - documenting pets!

Happy happy weekend!  My absolute favorite!  I've been sick all week with a bad cold, so this weekend is definitely for some R&R to try and get better.

Last year, I was a part of the Pocket Your Year design team and super enjoyed it.  I'm excited to share that I'll be continuing on working with Megan on creative projects for 2017.  More on that soon!

This week, Megan is talking about documenting pets for her #nndailytip on Instagram.  (If you don't know about #nndailytip, definitely check it out.  Megan shares lots of fun, useful tips on all sorts of different subjects related to documenting and memory-keeping).  If you follow me here or on social media, you know I have an ultimate love for our own furries, so I was super excited to contribute a few tips of my own!

You can check out the #nndailytip about documenting pets this week on Instagram.  Also, if you're looking for some cute animal photos to make you smile during the day, check out the hashtags I use for our furry children on Instagram:
Follow me on Instagram @kelsterjean (or use the link above if you're on a computer).


new year, new chances.

Happy happy 2017!! I know, I know, we're already a month-ish in and holy crap, where has the time gone?!  This post has been in my drafts since the first week of 2017, and the upcoming expiration of my website keeps reminding me that I need to either use this blog or let it go... (sigh)

So first things first: how did you celebrate the welcoming of 2017?  The hubby and I spent the evening watching Secret Life of Pets (finally!) and building our new 6-cube bookshelf from Target.

We also finally hung up these pretty little shelves (from Menards) to hold our collection of Shiner bottles.  (Side note, I'm not a super big fan of the color of the shelves, but they match our cabinets and when you rent, there's things you can't change, like the color of the cabinets...oh well!) 

I should also note that we're not super big drinkers.  First of all, it took us a freaking while to collect all these (and let's not talk about the one or two that I peeled the labels off to use for craft projects!)  And there's also a story behind why hubby and I love Shiner, why we're connected by it, that I hope to document sometime this year.

So onto 2017!  Wooooo000000t!  I'll be back soon to share some of my creative goals for this year, and my plans for memory keeping.  I hope you'll join me as we live and love through 2017!


choosing photos = the struggle is real.

I take lots and lots of photos.  AND LOTS!  It's a terrible habit.  I'm not as bad as I used to be a few years ago, but this has been my ultimate downfall and main reason for failing at Project Life in the past.

This year, I'm doing really good though, because I'm learning to enjoy the moment more and not have "take a photo" be my first instinct.  It's a work in progress!  I was so happy that this month in the Pocket Your Year workshop, we were talking about curating our spreads.  Figuring out what photos to include and what photos to leave out.  The struggle is real.

It's really tough going through photos and picking only your true favorites, but here's what I do to help pair down and get scrapping quickly:
  •  Try dumping all of your photos into a folder (either on your phone or your computer) until you are ready to sort and scrap them.
  • At the end of the month, go through your photos {and stories documented} and decide which ones are still important to you.  For me, if they make me happy or make me smile, they are something I want to keep and remember.
  • Don't get rid of photos just because they are poor quality or are blurry.  Sometimes these are the only photos we are left with, and end up being the ones we appreciate the most.

When you end up with lots of photos, like I did for this highlight spread of September, you can use hidden journaling, pockets, tabs, and flip-up pockets to include lots of photos and stories that might not otherwise make the cut.

The most important thing is always: do things the way it works best for you, and document the stories and memories that are memorable to you!


mail a smile - World Cardmaking Day!!

I'm almost 100% positive the phrase "mail a smile" is copyyrighted by the United States Postal Service (USPS), but I'm using it, and secretly hoping they won't track me down and make me remove it from my blog!

So, that important message aside, Happy World Cardmaking Day!!  Before I became obsessed with pocket page/Project Life scrapbooking, I looked forward to this day every year when I could spend lots of time making handmade cards to send in the mail.

I still love creating cards for the simple reasons that 1) Creating them gets me doing something different, and I like variety, 2) It's not quite my forte and gets me out of my comfort zone a bit, and 3) I love mailing them to people when they're having a crappy day!

To celebrate this fun day of making paper greetings (and protesting buying ridiculously overpriced store-bought greetings), here's a handful of cards I've created the last few months!

The tree and flower cluster above are both stamps and all of the paper used was from my scraps.  For me, it's all about just using the insane amount of craft supplies crap I have.  You have it, you might as well use it!

I'm all about stories, so I love the stories behind why I make some of the cards I do.  For this bunch:
1) The top card was for my BFF's fiance, who has a deep appreciation for art and handmade things.  I wanted to make the card as cool as he is.
2) I used the sentiment "one in a million" for a friend of my hubby's, who always brings him back something when visiting Peru.  This time, it was the handmade stone-carved nativity scene and the shot glass in the leather cover. 
3) Tried a "shaker card" for the first time.  Not too shabby.  I sent this to my grandpa (abuelo) as a thank you for all of the little gifts and camera-related items he has sent me this year.  He's one of my favs!

One of the funnest things about creating cards is trying new techniques, like watercolor.  I don't watercolor much at all, but tried it on the cupcake and teacup above.  Always try new things!

And finally, this one for hubby's grandma's 90th birthday.  90, seriously!  She holds a special place in my heart, so I loved creating this vintage-inspired card for her.  The lady above made me think about how she might look in her younger days.

Soooooo, are you inspired to create some handmade greetings?  Remember anything you create will be loved and adored by someone.  I can promise you that!  And if you're not sure where to start, search around on Pinterest and YouTube for some card inspiration.


a million thanks and an update!

So, we finally put our story out there!!  Wooooootttt!!! Let me tell you, even though lots of people already knew what we were going through, it was freaking scary hitting that publish button and having it all out there for the whole wide world to see.  When I wrote that post shortly after our first failed IVF process, we were so so completely heartbroken and I was very emotional.  I knew that sharing our story and being so vulnerable meant opening up to the good as well as the bad, and anytime you do that, it's super scary.

But despite all that, we are so happy that it's finally all out there and that we don't have to hide a thing anymore!!  Even though we both already knew we had amazing support, the feedback we received in response to our story was completely overwhelming. I found it ironic that people called me "brave" and "strong."  (This is something I struggle with alot, the meaning of being brave and strong).  Really, we are just normal people going through some super tough things and learning how to handle it as we go along.

Anyways, rambling.  A huge tremendous overwhelming THANK YOU to everyone that read our story and commented and are keeping us in their thoughts and prayers and rooting for us this whole time and from here on out.  We are so so so so lucky to have the most wonderful people in our lives, that are cheering us on, and we are beyond grateful!

So where do we go from here?  Well, I met with our doctor about a month after our news.  It was tough being back in his office, and seeing all our nurses, and trying not to cry my eyes out.  Our doctor was so disappointed, like we were, especially since he said everything was "perfect."  I had such a heartfelt meeting with him that I appreciated so much!  Our doctor told me the reason for our fail was "implantation issues," and what that means right now, we are not sure.  We decided to undergo some testing before going through another process, to try and find this out.  This I also appreciate so much: having some answers or at least trying to find out some more information before wasting more time and money and emotions.  We took a break for the summer, just to be away from it all.  During this time, we (of course) had other things going on in our lives that were tough, but also grew as a couple even more.  It was so nice to pay attention to each other and our furries again without having to worry about anything fertility-related.  I started testing in August and we will most likely be going through another process sometime this fall.  We are excited and hopeful, but nervous and scared as well.  We don't want to think about what will be after that.  We just want to focus on getting through that and hopefully coming out with the best news possible.

We have learned so much from this experience so far.  Both about each other, our relationship, and ourselves.  I do not for one second regret the decision to be so open and transparent about our situation.  The best feeling in the whole wide world has been hearing a friend say that because of us and sharing our story, it has helped them share theirs (even if it's not to this big of an audience, but maybe just their loved ones).  This is all we've ever hoped for.  That people know that this really effing sucks and is very hard to go through, but you don't have to be in it alone, and there is absolutely no reason to be ashamed.  100%.

Thank you so much again for allowing me to share our story.  

xoxo always