Lovely Letters: A Snail Mail Exchange

Hi friends! Today is a fantastic day! I’m all groggy from  my turkey and mashed potato hangover but I’m back at work for another day of fun-filled crazy day. Today is also really fantastic because I get to share with you a super fun secret project I’ve been working on for months!

But first some backstory….I stumbled upon a post that The Duck and The Owl wrote describing their experience doing a snail mail exchange….I immediately got super excited and hoped on over to the Nectar Collective and signed up for the next event! This is where, if you’ll remember, I met the fantastic Kerri. (notice the trend in crazy blog hopping here?!) Well I was hooked. But sadly, it was the end of the exchange! I was so sad. But! Then I found Esther. Who is wicked behind a camera, thoughtful, super nice, and was also a believer in the ways of snail mail. So, we began slowly forming the idea of starting our own exchange. Months of planning and traveling and life happening went by, but we worked through it all and are so, so happy to present to you the very first every event of the Lovely Letters Snail Mail Exchange!! Ta-Da! Imagine me making a creepy smiling face, nodding at you with jazz hands flaring! Ta-Da!

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First, what is it? Its like blogger blind dating. We set you up with someone, hopefully from a different country than you, give you a few ideas of what to talk about and then boom! Your BFFs. Ok, well kinda. You guys blog crush on each other, send emails/Skype/text/morose code, share ideas or favorite blogs, ask each other questions about your different cultures, etc. Pretty much, you do what normal humans do when they meet for the first time, but via the interwebs. Then, the most fun part! You mail each other a gift along with a handwritten letter or postcard! (Imagine here I’m performing amazing acrobatics to get the crowd pumped up!)

We will provide you with a theme (optional), some questions and some suggestions to nurture your new friendship. Once you’ve gotten to know each other a bit, you choose something small (about $5) to send each other. Maybe you guys really hit it off talking about crafting so you send one of your favorite embellishments, tools, supplies or maybe your partner really loves hot teas and you send her your favorite fancy exotic brand only available in your country. It can be anything! It should represent you, your new relationship, your culture. The sky is the limit here (ok, well $5 is the limit here)!

The point is to

1. Send/receive a fantastic package (everyone loves mail)

2. To give/receive a small, thoughtful gift from a new friend 

3. To receive/write a handwritten letter from someone you’ve never met in person, gushing over how fantastic you/they are!

Here’s how it works. Every month we will open it up for sign ups. We will then partner you, email you (privately so no spam or sharing your info with others), you guys chat, send your gifts, then you write-up a blog post introducing each other to your community of followers and then link up on Esther and I’s pages for even more exposure! Boom. You’ve just made new friends, learned new things, received a really thoughtful gift and handwritten letter and been introduced to new blogging communities! Seriously, how can it get any better than that?!

Our hope is to foster more connection and community in this crazy blogosphere! We want people to collaborate, make real friendships, learn and grow through this experience. The interwebs are huge, so this is a chance to make them a little smaller and more personal.

You can read more info here on this fun little project and you can sign up for the May exchange here.

This months theme will be spring, because, let’s be honest, who’s not so incredibly ready for spring?! We’ve opened this sign up a little bit early since it’s the first one, so remember you wont hear from us until around the 9th of May to receive your partners. If you have any questions feel free to ask! And please share with your friends, the more the merrier!

14 for 14 update

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This year I’ve set 14 goals for myself. Some easily attainable. Some abstract. Some secretive. Some challenging. Mostly awesome.

So here’s an update on how things are going so far.

  1. Go on a grand adventure. Check! Well, officially July 22nd this adventure will commence. More here. 
  2. Make a quilt. On a whim, I ransacked my scrap stash and started!! I’ve got to finish cutting my squares (which is the easy part), then the real work will begin.
  3. Start something. Check back on monday for something awesome!
  4. Project Life 2014. I started strong. Fell behind. Printed pics up to date and have totally lost my mojo. Gotta get it back.
  5. Blog (Design) Love. Ive officially decided on a new blog name and have started playing with logo design! Cant wait to get this up and running!
  6. Create a recipe book. Im slowly starting to collect recipes from friends and record my favorite Pinterest recipes, but Ive got to step up the time-table.
  7. Learn to shoot in manual. I’ve officially ventured into aperture priority and the field of shutter speeds! Progress, just need more practice!
  8. Read the Bible all the way through. I just finished a really awesome Bible Study (No Other Gods), so now Im starting to get back on track.
  9. Use up my craft stash. Elise is about to teach a class on A Beautiful Mess for this. I can’t wait! In efforts to begin, I’m selling some mixed books.
  10. Be an encourager. Somehow the people I’m trying to encourage are way more encouraging to me! Oh jeez, nice people!
  11. Dance like a fool  at a huge concert. Check! I was on top of the world! See more here.
  12. Annihilate my wardrobe. Wow. I own a ton of stuff! I have officially gotten my winter clothes down to only 1 bag! But who am I kidding? Summer clothes are my jam, so that’s where I foresee a problem….
  13. Go to bed by 11pm…..uh, no comment.
  14. Read 2 books a month. I’m currently KILLING IT with this one. Ill be doing a book review soon. Any suggestions? Im also on Goodreads. Lets me friends so I can see your recommendations!

How are you doing with your goals? Were officially a third of the way through the year (crazy right), but it’s not too late to start something!

 

 

Currently Guest Post

Hi friends! I am honored and amazed and giddy that Kristin is featuring me as a guest blogger and is letting me gush about how much I love her Currently Cards! So go check it out!

Oh and if you’re new here, welcome! Lets be friends and hold hands and throw glitter at each other. No, that would be weird. But you should be sure to follow via your favorite blog reader or sign up for updates via email. Then maybe you would like to check out some cool things like my other currently posts, some new project life tips, techniques and inspiration for you or some money saving travel tips, maybe a mini book or this DIY made from only toilet paper rolls? Stick around, say hey and let’s be friends!

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10 Day Marriage Challenge + A free printable

 

I found this 10 day Marriage Challenge by The Vanilla Tulip via a Bloglovin update email (how fantastic are those?!) and was instantly hooked. And my sweet, sweet husband is a such a sucker for my requests. So we immediately started with gusto and quickly slowed our momentum, but are officially done now, well over the 10 day mark! Oh well, being finished is the always the goal! This was such a legitimately fun experience and we truly learned new things about each other! And got a sweet action mini book out of it!

This was one of the easiest mini books I’ve ever made and it is completely done. No work. No follow-up. Done.

To prepare:  I had Terrell go through my Project Life 4×6 stash and pick out some cards he liked, then I chose some matching ones for myself. I purchased a $1 classic mini album from target and just slipped the cards in. For a fun twist, I challenged myself to find 10 new ways to take photos that represent us. I shared a few using the hashtag #10daymarriagechallenge on instagram if you would like to see more.

Then, every day we would grab the pre-chosen cards, write our answers and share! On days I had more time I experimented with a few fun ways to write on the cards, used some stamps and printed out some of our answers, used embellishments, etc. Some nights it was just straight writing, dating and slipping the cards in. The was a super quick and easy book that has some really fantastic ideas/memories in it.  As for the photos: I regularly print photos for my project life, so I just included these photos in the next batch I did and slid them into the open pockets in between our answer cards.

We didn’t spend an hour each night doing this challenge, as the original blog recommended. But we seriously LOVED this activity. It made us laugh a ton at each others answers (in a loving way of course) and some days were very thought-provoking and hard to choose only 10 things! And we had a really intentional date night where we did the last day together, which was perfect timing since our life is about to change in a huge way and setting goals for it together is very important!

I made a printable card to go in the front cover so you know what questions we are answering (as we didn’t write them on each card). I wanted to share the card with you in case you wanted to do your own and make it one step easier for you! I’ve left space for you to add in your names and date (if you so desire). It will print out to fit on a 4×6 card vertically. You will need to print it first on normal paper, then tape your card to it to ensure accurate printing and run it through again for exact placement. If you use it please share by tagging me on instagram @Lk_hooper or by using the hashtag #laurenmadethis

Have you done any marriage challenges?! Let me know how they went and if you recommend them! I love a good challenge!

Click here to download the card: printable marriage challenge list

These are the questions from Vanilla Tulip. (I condensed the explanations down on the printable card)

Day 1- What are your Top 10 favorite characteristics about one another? Why? (wife writes 10 for her husband. And the husband will write 10 for his wife
Day 2- What are your Top 10 favorite characteristics about yourself? Why? (Wife writes about herself. Husband writes about himself)
Day 3- Where are 10 places you have never been to but would love to go? Why? (again, these are individual lists.  You each write your own)
Day 4- What are 10 of your biggest pet peeves? Why? (in general, not necessarily with one another)
Day 5- What are your 10 things you hope your kids learn from you? Why?
Day 6- If you won $100k tomorrow… what 10 things would you buy yourself? Why? (you cannot save it or spend it on anyone else. You MUST spend it all on yourself)
Day 7- What are 10 things that you would like to improve on personally? Why?
Day 8- If you could invite 10 people to dinner, alive or dead, who would they be? Why?
Day 9- What are 10 things that your spouse can do for you, or does for you, that you really value/appreciate? 
Day 10- ***Do this one over a date-night dinner***  What 10 things do y’all want to accomplish in the next year? Do this list together and once you are done talking about it and putting the list together, put it in an envelope and store it.  Then make a point to open it in a year!

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Project Life Week 8

Its week 8 and I remembered why I love this project!

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Such a fun page for such a fun night! I had a few other things from this weeks events, but I just loved the idea of keeping it focused on this one event. It was a our small groups first night ALL together with our friends sweet new baby boy!

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This weekend I went home to celebrate my sister’s birthday and to celebrate CHRISTMAS with my BFFs. We seriously struggle in the planning department…But we had a sleepover and laughed a ton and took a bunch of ridiculous pictures by calling out an emotion or something and then making a face to rep it. All turned out priceless. So I wanted to make an insert to include them all and I loved Elise’s checkerboard effect. I originally wanted to use white cards to make it actually black and white, but it was too plain for me, so I went with bright fun colors and loved it!

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The last page I focused on other photos from my weekend with family and other sweet friends. I pushed myself to embellish a little more and use more product.  I love the look of stamping and need to make more effort to get more things like this in!

*Also I forgot to put my Week 8 title when I took these photos, but its there!

Products used: Caylee Grey weekly cards. PL Core Kits: Midnight, Sunshine, Kraft, Flea Market. Elise quotes. Basic Grey Captured embellishment. Smash washi tape. Amy Tangerine thickers. Studio Calico wood veneer and labels. Target stickers.

Techniques used:  Photos edited in VSCO cam, Photoshop app, Picasa. Insert made using a page protector and washi tape.

Memorabilia: none.

*Project Life is a memory-keeping system created by Becky Higgins

Weekend Update

I would like to formally blame my mother for my lack of postings this week.

My mom and her BFF came in town last weekend while the hubs was out-of-town. We had the best time watching funny movies, laughing and exploring The Classic City. I have realized just how much there is to see and do here and I am sorely lacking on having done it all and photographed it all. I tried to accomplish a little bit this weekend, but we have got a long way to! But on the bright side, I see a mini book in my future! We had the best lunch at Pauley’s downtown, explored downtown, campus and the botanical gardens. All free, all fabulous.

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Project Life Weeks 6&7

Its week 6&7 and they are sharing a spread and a post because Im so behind!

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Week 6 was a fun and pretty normal week. Pretty much the only pics are from Sunday when we took a walk and played on the playground at the elementary school we live by. We saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and it is a total game changer for movies and just life in general. My favorite part is how they transpose (probably not the right word), but they write his journal pages out onto the screen in the white space. Scrapbookers die over this kind of stuff. Then, on a night when cooking dinner sounded like a terrible idea, we used a gift card we had been hoarding since Christmas. I kept the envelope because our sweet small groups had given it to us and written #itsabeautifulmess on it. An inside joke that is totally ridiculous. Oh and gold washi tape from target for the win!

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Oh hey week 7 in the south is just a winter wonderland! We were snowed in for days and EVERYTHING was closed! Terrell of course insisted on getting out and driving around like a fool. But we waited until midnight on the snowiest day, pulled out a pool float and went sledding. I came home with wet feet and a busted lip. Totally a success. Finally breaking into my stamps from Studio Calico’s Day by Day class. Used a digital Currently card. And printed Vanessa’s handwritten EE Cummings quote on vellum and slid it over a fantastic, but blurry pic. It’s quite difficult to take pictures in the pitch black with snow making the flash go crazy while you’re sliding down a hill at 25 miles an hour….

 

Products used: Caylee Grey weekly cards. PL Core Kits: Sunshine, Midnight. Studio Calico wood veneers and stamp.  Vanessa’s printable card. Rukristin’s Currently Cards.

Techniques used:  Photos edited in VSCO cam. Text added to photos using the A Beautiful Mess app.

Memorabilia: envelope,

*Project Life is a memory-keeping system created by Becky Higgins

New York Mini Album

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I’m here with another installment of my love for minibooks!

Don’t forget I’m giving away one very much like this here and you still have time to enter the contest!

This one is more ‘hybrid’ than my past ones. I am in LOVE with making mini’s, but the more and more they get looked at (which is more frequent that I thought) the more I worry about their longevity. So, I combined some pocket pages into the mix this time. Pretty much I just gutted a Sn@p album. (It’s actually the insides to the album I used to make my planner) These albums come with those chipboard dividers that have tabs on them. I used those as my front and backs and as always just mod podged paper, photos and embellies onto them. Then for the insides I used a few different styles of the 6×8 pages. Some I just slipped 6×8 spreads in like this one below. Others I used Project Life cards and photos to just slip into the pockets to fill it quick and easy. Almost everything is in a page protector, a few inserts and memorabilia are just hole punched and in between 2 page protectors. But for the most part these pages are well protected and should last longer and handle lots of touching better! I completed this book in 2 sittings (excluding printing pics). I printed all my pictures with no real idea how I would make it work and paired down as I went. I sat down for an evening and picked all my papers, paired them and cut them. The next day I added all pictures and embellishments and journaling in just a few hours.

 You can read all about our NYC trip here. But for now I’ll just let you browse the book! Products used (as best I can remember) are listed at the bottom. If you have any technique questions please leave them in the comments and go enter to win an album here!

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This is possibly my favorite page of the album. Not only because it features our lovely friends, but there’s just something about the design layout. I loved that paper on the left too much to put anything on it. Then there’s the simplicity and layering of celebrating our friends and their accomplishments and their generosity. It’s just my favorite.

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As much as I like this book and the hybrid technique, there’s just something about the cruise mini that just keeps calling me to look at it and touch all its exposed embellies…

Products used: Basic Grey Carte Postale collection, Sn@p Album , Project Life cards, Studio Calico papers, wood veneers and embellishments, Amy Tan thickers, Smash book tape and journal cards, Elise Joy stamps, lots of random papers and embellies from my stash, Polaroids

Project Life: Week 5

***Don’t forget there is still time to enter the mini book giveaway!

Its week 5 and I’m so glad I’m doing this project and can remember this journey we’re on. 

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This is the week of the job fair we attended. Though I didn’t have a ton of photos because I was trying not to throw up during interviews, we got some fun snow photos and that sweet photo of the plane. Honest to goodness, I think that is the most snow I’ve ever seen. And our flight got cancelled, so we ended up having to drive through a blizzard in Chicago. I cried. Its was traumatic. But we made it. Oh yeah and we scored some awesome jobs.

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I’ll do a super detailed post about the process of getting an international job and will do a review of the UNI fair another time. But, for this spread we both typed out our thoughts and feelings from the fair and about our job offer. It’s funny to see our different perspectives on these things and the details we both decided to include. I’m really glad I got Terrell to do one also. Recording his perspective is really important and its easier when he has a specific prompt. Oh and how cute are those He said/She said stamps?! I got them on clearance at Michael’s for 50 cents! I kept it pretty simple on this side, I threw in the currently card from right before the trip I did to record my anxiousness and hopefulness. I printed the Week 5 out on computer paper and just cut around it really close as I didn’t want to overtake the UNI logo.

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This is possibly the worlds heaviest insert. The front is our teaching packet cover page. Too cute and very professional! The back is the bulk of the text from this post sharing our announcement. Inside is a treasure chest of memorabilia! We got huge packets at the fair with info, biz cards, info cards, etc. I paired it down as much as I could and tucked the rest inside an 8 1/2 by 11 scrapbook page protector.

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I have been dreaming about this page for a long time! As soon as I knew where we were going I went on a mad hunt for a Korea map. But apparently there. are. none. Seriously?!!? I looked everywhere. Then! Ah ha! I saved one I found from an internet search and followed Elise’s PS tutorial (I have the app, so it’s a little different, but still pretty easy, just time-consuming)t to break it down into 4×6 parts to print for cheap at Walgreens. There are a few places that look funky if you look closely, but you’re not. So stop. But OF COURSE Seoul is right where it got cut! But never fear, thickers are here! I used a Studio Calico geotag inside the page protector, then stuck some old glittery thickers right on top of the page (note to self, put in the back photos before sticking them over the photo openings!). Then I added the photo we took in the airport when we were so excited they had a South Korean flag!

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The sweetest part is surely the letter that was waiting for us when we arrived. We had been talking to the headmaster of our new school via email prior to the fair, so he had written us a sweet little note to greet us and to schedule a formal interview. I stuck it in over the map so the map is still intact and you can pull it out to read it. I’m so glad I have this project to record this journey in our life!

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Products used: Caylee Grey weekly cards. PL Core Kits:Sunshine edition. Kristins currently card. Studio Calico wood veneer.

Techniques used:  Photos edited in the A Beautiful Mess app. Large photo cropped/printed using this tutorial in the Photoshop App.

Memorabilia: All from the UNI fair!

*Project Life is a memory-keeping system created by Becky Higgins