Holiday Card Inspiration

I don’t know about you, but there is a plethora of options for holiday greeting cards.  My husband and I aren’t the type of people to send out holiday cards with our faces on them, even now that we have a cute little munchkin.  But we do like to send out personalized cards, and typically I do the boring thing by just picking up a standard greeting card from Walmart or Target.  This year, I’m getting a little more creative and personal.

Plus, it’s that season after all for fun shaped cards with beautiful graphic designs (and deals galore!).

Holiday Card Inspiration

Be Merry • Dots of Love • Falling Leaves • Geometric Joy • Golden Season
Happy Hanukkah • New Year Glow • Peace Joy Love • Royal Stripes • Snowbells

Holiday Quality with AdoramaPix

I’ve worked with AdoramaPix both as a consumer and as a blogger and I have to say I love the quality products and the different options for photo products.  You can see my gallery wall makeover using AdoramaPix here.  Each of the prints are always on beautiful paper with excellent, rich color.  The company is wonderful to work with and really makes it easy to shop.  I highly recommend them and to prove all of this to you AdoramaPix is giving away a $30 credit for you to go do your own holiday card shopping!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and will be for a $30 shop credit to AdoramaPix.  To enter, simply enter and tweet about the giveaway.

Feel free to comment and tell us about your holiday plans, where you’ll be celebrating, but definitely check out AdoramaPix.com and browse around and let us know what you would spend your credit on! This giveaway ends on Wednesday with winners to be announced on Thanksgiving!

 

Disclaimer: this post has a sponsored giveaway by AdoramaPix; however the blog post topic, content, and opinions are 100% in keeping with my own thoughts.

A Cozy Great Date Night In

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own.

Cozy Date Night In-1Date nights nowadays are located in the comfort of our home.  Fireplace running, homecooked meal, and something on TV.  Though, honestly, this is how most date nights are even without adding a baby to the picture.  After long work weeks, sometimes it’s nice just to be lazy cozy on the couch.

It’s why my husband and I work so well together: in spite of whatever obstacles we face, we always can come home together at the end of the day and plop on the couch with some good food, a bottle of wine, and a movie.  Sometimes we have a fun little debate or talk about our dreams and hopes for the future.

OUR FORMULA TO A GREAT DATE NIGHT IN:

Cozy Date Night In-2

Bar Cart • Chromecast • Cozy Throw • Cheese Dome • “The Giver” movie • Woodbridge Pinot Noir

Everything on this list kind of revolves around a good drink, delicious food, and the Google Chromecast, a USB drive-like device that you can plug in to your television and it will allow you to make your phone/tablet/computer a remote control using the applications you have on those devices.  For $35 it’s an entertainment must-have and it is the key to any date night – or social gathering – we spend at home.  We will cast our favorite music playlist from Songza to the TV and speakers during dinner, then put on a movie from HBO Go, Netflix, or Google Play Store.

If we’re doing wine and cheese night (a favorite of ours and we use that exact cheese board above that we got from our own Wedding Registry!), we are probably on the couch watching something or listening to music while talking about what we want to do next in our life (big or small).  If it’s been a long week and we just want to cuddle up on the couch with a beer (his) or vodka soda (her), we probably turn to a new movie — a recent favorite of both of ours is “The Giver.”

What are your go-to items for your date night in?

CHOOSING EACH OTHER WITH TARGET

For those of you who are getting married, consider adding some of these products to your registry to make sure you can have a date night every night!

There are many benefits to choosing Target for your wedding registry:

  • Easy and engaging registry experience with inspirational starter lists
  • 15% off completion offer – the week of your event, you’ll receive a coupon for saving 15% on remaining registry items in store and online.
  • Easy returns

Look for more inspiration for your wedding registry with the Target catalog and start your Target Wedding Registry today!

Creating a Gallery Wall

Disclosure: This post is financially sponsored by Adorama Pix.  All opinions are my own.Gallery Wall-1

For the longest time, this wall was called our “wedding wall.”  You can actually view our wedding wall here.  I really wanted to get rid of it.  I mean it’s been almost three years and I’m a little sick of looking at the same pictures over and over (I get bored easily).  Mr. Charming was not so ready to get rid of it, though, but I finally was able to convince him when our daughter was born.  I wanted a gallery wall to display our favorite pictures, both of people (our daughter!) and of meaningful places.  I put the above gallery wall together to do just that and I think we love it.

Gallery Wall-4

OUR GALLERY WALL

I wanted a gallery wall where I can interchange some pictures as the months go on.  Some of the pictures of the two of us, the baptism pictures, and one of Miss K’s pictures will be replaced with newer pictures as she ages, we visit somewhere new, and as other life events occur.  But, for now, these are the most important pictures to us so they are what I have started with and will probably be up for a good time.  The canvas, the center image, the acrylics, and Miss K’s first picture will most likely be permanent parts of the display, though.

A. Zimbabwean sunset on acrylic.  Many of you probably don’t know my husband was actually born and raised in Africa.  He immigrated here when he was about 14 and I know they still hold a big place in their heart for Zimbabwe, in fact family still resides there today and they had a family reunion in Zimbabwe last year.  So, when I saw this picture they was taken last year I knew it would be a great way to incorporate where he came from into the wall.  After all, they always talk about the incredible beauty of the African sunsets.

B. Extended family picture.  This was taken at Miss K’s baptism and includes our best of friends as well because they are family, too.

C. Canvas family illustration.  I purchased this last year of the two of us plus our animals.  I wanted to have a little portrait of our family before we had kids, you know the first two and a half years of our marriage.

D. One year anniversary portrait.  I wanted to take annual pictures regardless if we have kids are not just to see how we change through the years.  Our second annual pictures included the baby bump, but for our first annual pictures I kind of did a “cherish the dress” session because I was a little disappointed with how little pictures we got from our wedding day of just us two.  You can see more from that session, taken by Elizabeth Buergler Photography, here.

E. Hanauma Bay in Hawaii panorama on acrylic.  We honeymooned in Hawaii and I don’t have many pictures from our honeymoon hanging in our house.  I took this opportunity to get this panorama on an acrylic to mirror the acrylic sunset.  We snorkeled in this bay and I’ll never forget we found a giant sea turtle and started just swimming behind him/her for several minutes.  Such a glorious little creature.  Ever since then, I’ve kind of had a thing for sea turtles.

F. Miss K at 3 weeks.  I took this picture along with a few others of her in a pink tutu.  This is my husband’s favorite picture from the session and I promised my husband we would include it in the gallery wall.  You can see another picture from the session here.

G. Second annual family picture.  This was taken by Elizabeth Buergler Photography in November, in which we also did a few maternity pictures that you might have seen on Instagram.  I wanted my husband and I to be in the center because, well, I love my marriage to him.

H. Miss K’s first formal picture.  Taken at the hospital by the hospital photographer around 12 hours of age.  I believe this will be a permanent picture in the gallery.

I. Two more pictures from our second annual family portrait session.

J. Family group pictures from Miss K’s baptism.  We did smaller group sessions of our families: my husband’s immediate family, my immediate family, our “second” family, and our closest group of friends.

K. Wedding flowers.  I include a mention of these because the tall pink flowers and the gold candles were on our sweetheart table at our wedding.  I have help them unaltered since then as decoration.  The middle flowers are just there, possibly temporarily until I find a better replacement, to kind of fill in the gap.

HOW TO DO THE GALLERY WALL

The key to the gallery wall, like many gallery walls, is mixing and matching.  I wanted to mix and match frames and media on this wall.  Adorama Pix is so great because they offer so many different size options for paper, acrylic, canvas, and metal prints – this was something I felt was lacking from some competitors.  For my Hanauma Bay panorama, they printed it 8×17.7 inches because that was the size of my panorama!

Gallery Wall-3

Once I found the frames and received all the artwork, I used the Command Picture Strips in size large to put up most of the pictures because they are a little more stable and required a lot less hassle than nails: all I did was rip off the stand on the frames, put the strips on the frames, and then put the frames on the wall.  This requires two people so that one person can stand from afar and make sure it all lines up.

** A side note: some of the heights and widths didn’t match up on purpose because I wanted to mix and match both frames and media, however there is a small discrepancy between this template and my actual wall gallery: where the asterisk (*) is on the template I say 11×14, however I used an 8×10 on my wall because that is the largest size I was able to get for that newborn shot of my daughter so I ran with it anyways using a frame for an 8×10 instead of a frame for an 11×14 which would have matched up in symmetry better.  I do recommend using an 11×14 picture instead of an 8×10, though.

Our Puerto Rican Babymoon

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. All opinions are my own.

PR snaps

At the end of June, Mr. Charming and I went to Puerto Rico.  It was a vacation we desperately needed to take together and it most likely will be the only one we get together until well after the baby is born.  I had a gap of five days from work and we went for it.  Could we afford it?  Technically yes, though we weren’t planning on it so we did take a wee hit in July making up for it. But, hey, we have to live sometimes, right?!

I still feel regenerated after that trip.  I was desperate for a relaxing vacation and we got one together.  We relayed on the beach all day one day, we had a few adventures, experienced some Puerto Rican culture, had some delicious food, and have wonderful memories.  Now, I can check spontaneous weekend getaway off my list of things to do (does it still count as spontaneous if you booked it ten days prior?).

Why Puerto Rico?

We chose Puerto Rico for three reasons: the flight was under 4 hours from Atlanta, there was a rainforest (El Yunque) there for us to trek through, and they have something called Bioluminescent Bay where we went night kayaking and experienced these little microorganisms that lit up the water and made it shine like diamonds.

Packing Lightly

I’m a believer in packing lightly anyways, but it isn’t as easy as you think to pack lightly for a five day beach trip.  We had a range of activities planned (yes, I know, we were supposed to relax, but we aren’t going to pay to go to the Caribbean just to lay around – we can do that at home!): kayaking, trekking, swimming, snorkeling, and a nice dinner out on the town one day.  Not too mention, I’m a photographer, I definitely brought my DSLR and two of my favorite lenses!  Personally, I’m a Nikon girl and I recently recommend this beauty to a friend as a starter DSLR.

Husband and I each had a carry on suitcase and a backpack.  His was similar to this SwissGear City Pack where it could double as anything we needed it double as and hold some of the non clothing items during the flight, like our snorkeling gear and electronics.  We always bring heavier duty backpacks like this when we travel.  Yeah, it may shout “tourist!”, but when you travel like us (I always plan perfect itineraries in my opinion) and like packing and traveling lightly and economically, it really is so helpful.  Plus, you want to protect your valuables, right?  Like my aforementioned DLSR and any tablets, e-Readers, phones, headsets, etc.

Why We Loved Puerto Rico for Our Babymoon

Day One: we got in late and just chilled at the resort and in the pool.  It was a one hour drive from the airport in San Juan to Fajardo.  We stopped at a spot for some lunch and tried some local cuisine that was definitely delicious.

Day Two: we went to the beach and just set up shop for the day.  It was also my husband’s birthday.  We did a little picture taking, read, did some snorkling (with our own equipment to save money – we dive/snorkel), had some drinks (mine were virgin), and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery.  Then we went back because we had reservations to kayak Bioluminescent Bay.  I do not have pictures from that because it isn’t wise to really bring electronics when you go kayaking, much less at night.  Friends, I tell you that was such an incredible experience!  I honestly think it’s a main reason people go to Puerto Rico and a must-do if you are ever on the island.

Day Three: we drove to the El Yunque rainforest and just walked around, doing some very light hiking because it was very crowded.  Giving up trying to find a parking space, we started to leave when we just happened to find a little beaten path at the very edge of the rainforest we thought we should explore.  This is where we set up shop along the river with the rainforest all around us.  It really was like a scene out of the movies.  The picture above with just me is where we were.  We spent the next few ours there where we chatted about our dreams and our hopes for the baby (not knowing the gender at the time).  That night we tried another restaurant around our resort that had the best piña colada I’ve had in my life.  Did you know piña coladas were invented in Puerto Rico?

Day Four: we had a lazy day, just wanting to spend another day in paradise on the beach.  Had an easy dinner at the resort and then retired early (because we were tired bums).

We left on day five relatively early (an hour to airport with a flight around noon).  We didn’t want to get in too late to Atlanta and home so that we could be well rested to return to work the next day.

So we created a lot of great memories and we didn’t even need our passports!  We had passed through San Juan together on a cruise a few years ago and though we enjoyed it briefly, we weren’t expecting to ever visit Puerto Rico again.  However, we both are so glad that we did.  This trip was perfect!

Quick Tips on Saving Money

  1. Definitely buy your airline tickets on a Tuesday morning.
    Never do it on a weekend.  There was a $150 price difference between Friday night and Tuesday morning.  Obviously, it’s cheaper to buy in advance, but we did it only ten days in advance so we did what we could.  What helped was that we use Delta 98% of the time (honestly, people, Delta is actually very competitive in pricing and is rarely more expensive than other airlines — at least for where we fly).  We used our SkyMiles for husband’s flight and I was able to book my ticket using something I have making it interest-free credit for six months, same as cash.  Maybe that’s ill-advised, but we always pay our credit off quickly, expect with these special offers in which case it’s just nice to not pay everything right away.
  2. Grab yourself a great, heavy duty backpack like this SwissGear City Pack, and bring what you can to save money while traveling.  
    Eg, we bring our own snorkeling gear (saved $20 per person), we bring our own sunscreen (you know sunscreen is incredibly expensive at tourist spots!), and we bring our own nonperishable food items for the plane/car ride/etc.
  3. Grocery shop.
    We always find a local grocery store and stock up on some food items and drinks to hold us over and lower the cost of spending money out.  And even just stocking up on water and bring your own snacks and drinks to the beach is so much cheaper than buying from the waiters in that tiki hut.
  4. Make your pictures your souvenirs.
    I used to buy things when I traveled, but it quickly became excess crap.  Then I just fell in love with taking pictures and stopped buying things.  I create photo books of each vacation and even blow up prints of my favorite photos from that to hang around the house.  It really does bring me back to that memory.  I refuse to put up pictures that weren’t personally taken by husband and I (unless it’s of loved ones or ourselves) because any other artwork just doesn’t have the same effect as a picture from the time we found a picturesque little spot nestled in the Puerto Rican rainforest.  Invest in a great camera, like this Nikon, and you’ll never really need to waste money on hoarding souvenirs again.

Now, friends, spoil yourself with a $25 giftcard to Target so you can go invest in your next trip by picking up a great camera, grabbing a heavy duty backpack, or even just getting some camping gear to really save money and just camp the island of Puerto Rico yourself! (I know someone who just camped throughout Hawaii for a few weeks and I’m totally jealous!)  There really is just so many ways that Target can help you on your next adventure!  Take a look for yourself on their registry here.