Friday, August 29, 2014

Obsesspins

Fab little Friday roundup of stuff that’s caught my eye lately…

Current Obsesspinshttp://www.pinterest.com/pin/106256872433628422/
My HOA strictly forbids painting my door any color except for 3 pre-approved, nearly identical shades of black. (seriously), so if I’m going to have any entryway fun, I’m going to have to accessorize. Hoping I can make this happen with a homemade stencil + a plain ikea mat.

http://www.pinterest.com/pin/106256872433652856/
I’m kind of obsessed with floral kimonos right now. Go ahead…imagine me saying that in my OMG Rachel-Zoe-inspired fashion girl voice…but I mean it. (P.s. Have you seen the Ascot and Hart collection? Bloggers turned Target shoppers, turned Fashion designers. It’s like they’re living my life in reverse. Only way, way better.)


Some days (all days) you just need a little dose of adorable. And for those situations, I have an entire board of images at the ready. (Bonus win: Keeping my furry obsessions contained to pinterest saves me from having to clean out any real-life cages).


I don’t have a spot in mind for another quilt, but this design could convince me to go for it anyway. (Plus by the time I finished it 3.7 years from now, I’m sure I could find somewhere to put it!) I’m loving the idea of a color blocked design- it ends up looking like a large scale madras pattern. And you know I’d work some striped binding in there somehow….


Because I obviously needed a way to make tiny carb nuggets even healthier. (Pro tip: alfredo sauce).


http://www.pinterest.com/pin/106256872433700082/

We’ve got big dreams for the master bath…which will likely come to fruition sometime in 2027, but still…it’s fun to dream.


http://www.pinterest.com/pin/106256872433661164/

…And the view’s amazing.


What are your latest Obsesspin? Any boards I need to know about?

P.s. In case you missed the last round, or if you want to dive into all my Pin-related archives.
And feel free to follow my full file of fancies right here.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Notes to My Younger Self

Today I'm participating in a blog series called Notes to My Younger Self, started by the awesomely inspiring Sarah- blogger at Yes and Yes, and writer of The Post College Survival Kit. She's invited some of her "clever, talented internet friends" to share their "wish-I'd-known words of wisdom", and for some reason, I was let into the cool-kid club to share my advice. So here goes...
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Advice for a younger me? I could probably write a book. I could think of 1,002 tips to help poor, unsuspecting Courtney avoid each tiny mistake and major catastrophe she had to face. I'd tell her what to do, who to date (j/k, I was already married by then), and most importantly, I'd demand she throw out those hideous lazy-girl clogs that she was so fond of.

But despite all my hindsight wisdom, I'm hesitant to dole out advice on a 22 year old me...mostly because I remember being 22 year old me, and I thought I had things figured. OUT. And even in the rare moments when I realized I might not actually know it all, I was still bull-headed enough to insist upon figuring it out myself. So if the now-me bothered to lecture the past-me, would I even listen to myself? (If I talk to myself in a forest, but I don't listen, did I ever make a sound?) And further more, would I even want young-me to heed my warnings? 

Because, as I see it, giving that advice- laying out a cheat sheet with a secret path of least resistance to the ideal end goal of life- It's not a gift. It might actually be a robbery.

Sure, it would be great to save myself some tears over some relationship that wasn't going anywhere, or a mean coworker who would eventually be a blip on the radar. And I'd love to go back and erase any of the hurts my ignorance (or selfishness, or insensitivity...etc infinity...) caused to others. But providing a perfect path for an easy breezy life robs past-me of the opportunity to develop grittyness, determination, and the deep viceral desire to do better next time, after experiencing the gut wrenching feeling of failure and disappointment. And perhaps even more troubling, it takes away my chance to be thrown back on my heels in a good way by the twists and turns of life...There's no room for wonder if you already know all the answers. 

So as I look back on it, I'm hard pressed to find any advice I'd want to give myself, without traveling down a Butterfly Effect rabbithole (holy mixed metaphor!) fearing any deviations from my history would change my present. Sure, I could probably tell her to wash her makeup off every night, and put away $50 more each paycheck, and skip that second grilled cheese. But she'll figure that stuff out eventually, before too much damage is done. And the big stuff? As much as want to wrap my previous self up safely like a faberge egg, I know that I'd do better to let little baby bird me step out of the nest, flap, flop, and eventually fly. 

So I won't give myself advice. But I wouldn't give myself the cold shoulder either.
 If a baby-faced Courtney was standing in front of me, here's what I would give her:

Encouragement.
You can do this. 
Even when "this" seems difficult, and confusing and scary. Remember- you are talented, and smart and brave. In other words- you're a perfect match for the tasks before you.

And reassurance.
You will do this. 
It's hard to know in the moment if all that effort is ever going to pay off. If the road clouded with dark patches will end in the light. I know how it feels to be on the endless path of striving, just try try trying until (and past) the brink of exhaustion. But stick with it. Because after a long uphill trek of caring too much and trying too hard...after the struggles of boundary setting, and priority finding and self doubting...after experiencing things the hard way, again and again before finally learning them the hard way...After all that? You'll find yourself at the top of a mountain you didn't fully realize you were climbing. And with that comes the motivation and confidence to scale the next peak. Oh, and a pretty kick-ass view.

And love.
You are doing this...And you're doing it beautifully. 
And though some of the strife will be behind you- the comparisons, and the insecurity, and the fatigue will still come. But the beauty of that long road traveled, and all those tiny scar reminders of your missteps, is that you'll realize your imperfections in a way that is somehow more empowering than defeating. You will have moments where you look around, in awe of what surrounds you- the love, the beauty, the success, the mess, the joy, and you'll realize: THIS. This is what I was working towards. THIS is what I've been blessed with. THIS is it. 

So as you find yourself in the moments of I can't, or I'll never, hear me- hear you- telling you: you can, and you will. And in those rare but exceedingly beautiful points in your journey, when you're lucky enough to stumble into a light that illuminates not only the splendor of your path- but just a teeny tiny slice of the awesomeness to come.... embrace those with everything you've got. Grab a couple of beers, pull your friends in close so you can kiss them squarely on their beautiful, surprised cheeks, and go to bed five minutes earlier than you want to. Because tomorrow comes quickly, bringing a whole new set of challenges, and there's no substitute for beauty sleep. (I guess I couldn't resist jamming some advice in there after all!)

(P.s. For real though, Court- throw away those clogs. You're better than that.)
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What would you say to the you of yore? 

For the record- though I took this to a weird meta-theoretical place (as I'm weirdly prone to doing)- I have to say that there is value in the assignment as it was given, and even more in the advice Sarah offers in her book. Of course no one wants to take away the free will and wonder of 22 year olds. That's just my over dramatic soap box tendencies talking. But a few tips to save some time, heartache and a whole bunch of money? We should all be in line for that. So if you're hankering (that's right: hankering. That's a world old curmudgeons like me use) for more actionable advice, check out a few of the bloggers in the Notes To My Younger Self series: 
  • "Stop making that stupid peace sign with your fingers when you pose for photos."-Today I'm Bobbi 
  • "If you have to wonder if the person you’re dating likes you, then they probably don’t." -Smaggle
    "This day, this moment, right here and now is your whole life. And it will pass whether or not you spend it pushing, rushing or worrying." -The Small Change Project
  • "Embrace the free time. YOU HAVE SO MUCH FREE TIME"- enJOY it
    "Your chances of getting everything you want are slim to none if you don’t A) figure out what you want and B) SPEAK UP"- RosyBlu Handmade
  • "There is no man, no job, no home or amount of wealth that can ever generate an ongoing, uninterrupted sense of fulfillment."- Danielle Dowling

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

B+ Life: Podcast

Hey there! If you found yourself here from Sarah's site, Welcome! I'm thrilled you stopped by!
And if you're a regular around here (hi, mom!) well then, the big news for today is that I'm being featured on Sarah's site as a part of her podcast series.

I've never done a podcast, but when Sarah asked me if I'd like to talk about myself for roughly a half hour, and then post that on the internet, I was IN.
Alright...j a little bit k. Truly, I was honored that she thought of me, and I love the mission of her blog- stories from a "recovering perfectionist in pursuit of living a B+ life." I can totally relate to her struggles with constant comparisons, and striving, and never wanting to "settle" for anything less than perfect. But I've certainly come a long way in my perfectionist journey (think a perfectionist would be willing to lead showyourreal?) so it was fun to chat with her about what I've been learning- and all the things I still have no clue about.

I'd love it if you would check it out (warning...it's 41 minutes of gabbing...I won't be offended if you grab some laundry to fold while you listen, or save it for your commute). If you don't know me in real life (hi, reader who isn't my mom!) hopefully you'll get a bit of a better sense of who I am, how dramatic (and fast!) I talk, and my perspective on twitter, balance (what?!) and why I can't be bothered to cook for my kids' birthdays.

And if podcasts aren't your thing, I included the highlights here (don't judge me for editing out all of my "likes" and "ums"). And in either case, just for fun, I included some pics to round out the audio track...because everything is better with (slightly blurry, taken with an iphone, but way better than nothing) baby pics. And donuts. Mmmmmmmmmm, donuts.
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Two under Two
bowdenisms podcast B+ life
"When I say I have two little kids, I mean I have two little kids. It is full time wild around here...It is the best of times and the worst of times in every single moment."

Why did I start a blog? 
"I just really like the sound of my own voice...just kidding. I think in the beginning I had no plan at all....In the beginning it was a little haphazard and ridiculous. And now it's equally ridiculous, but maybe slightly less haphazard."

But really...why? 
"I think I'm a natural story teller. Not maybe not naturally awesome, but it's innate in me to want to do it. When something happens, I want to spin it as a story. If I have your attention in any setting I want to keep your attention, hold your attention. I want to charm you and make you laugh.:

Show Your Real
"If I want people to be vulnerable, or I want people to be honest and be willing to show the parts that we don't always show...if that's what I want, then I need to put that out there, and I need to create that, to help spur it on in other people."

And the lighter side of Show Your Real
 "One of things I also love about Show Your Real is people being willing to stand up and be proud of the things they are good at...Your real can also be that you're in love with this part of your life. Or you're proud of what you've accomplished here. Or you're thankful for this thing...It's saying 'Yeah, my real is so so great. And so bad. And both. At the same time.' "

The wildness of motherhood
"I feel like you have out of body experiences every once in a while, where you're just like 'This is my life. This is happening right now. What is going on?' "


Life Balance 
"Oh the baaaaalance...Yeah, that's not a thing....Balance is not in a day....Did you get all the things done in one day? Were you a great mom, and a great worker, and a great blogger, and a great everything, this one day? Because, no. You weren't. Maybe I was one of those. I hope....It's looking at how it balances out in total....And if it takes til Friday for it to balance out, that's alright. It's just a matter of how big you're willing to make your lens....Sometimes it's going to take more than a week for me to feel like it's balanced."

Seasons of unbalance
 "The first six months of my daughter's life (the second one)...they were hard. I mean, I loved her, and I loved having her, but there were days when my two year old- I was just like, 'Can you just go somewhere else, today?'...It was just too much for me sometimes....I wasn't necessarily expecting balance in that season. Because it wasn't going to happen: We were unbalanced. And that's ok, because that's not an entire life. I don't necessarily strive to live in those valleys I guess, but...Sometimes I have to pep talk myself and say 'You know what? This might not be it for you....You don't have to be perfect on this certain Monday. Or this week or this month. It's about the entire thing. And if you scope it out all the way to a lifetime, everyone is doing ok."

What does B+ mean to me? 

"There was a time, when B+, was like Oh my gosh, no! I was that obnoxious, type A, has to get an A type of person...I love the idea, but there's something about me that still feels super icky about B+. I'm not B+, No, I'm better than that, right? As much as I've go some of the perfectionism, I never let go the striving. I will always be that way. And I don't know that I even want to change that...it's just who I am. it's my passion, it's my drive...B+ is not about doing things to a B+ level..it's doing some things to an A+ super+, and some things? I get an F. And I don't care."

"Don't find what you're bad at and try to fix it, because you're only going to get to a certain level. So why am I making my F into a C? It's still going to be a C, who cares? Just be an F. Move on. Take your B+, take your A- and polish those up and be awesome at it. If that's what matters to you, really go after that. I'm trying to find the pieces of me that I love, or that are natural to me, and do more of those and do those better and pour into those and bless people with those pieces of me."

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Thanks for joining me in this wild adventure that is silliness/motherhood/vulnerability/internet/life.
If you find you haven't had your Bowdenisms fill, please feel free to snoop around a bit, or even better- sign up to follow the action: instagram | facebook | twitter

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life Lately

This summer has gone excessively fast (Time flies when you’re having fun? Times flies when you’re getting old?!) so I’m working on pulling together a recap of this fabulous season (you know…for my self-centered library) but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to do another round of Life Lately prompts to get in print all the little bits that would otherwise go documented. Because as much as I love story telling, and sharing big updates, so much of life is in the details. Those tiny little somethings that are woven into our current experience, but I won’t remember accurately down the road. So here is my attempt to create a verbal snapshot of what our right now is all about.

We tried.

Making: Zero progress in my crusade against clutter. Where do all the things come from? And why do they always end up on my countertops?
Cooking: Nothing. I can’t even remember the last thing I cooked. {{…Racking my brain….}} Nothing. I assure you we aren’t starving- quite the contrary actually- but it’s been a lot of meals out, Family Dinner Night at my mom’s, and food prepared by Dustin. We did do a good amount of grilling this Summer too, which I adore. There’s just nothing better than zucchini on the grill. Well…except for burgers. Yum.
Drinking: Too much. (Ok. That makes me sound like I have a problem. But this is my first Summer when I’m not pregnant or nursing in 3 years, so yeah…I’m gonna live it up a bit.) Loving Kraken + Vanilla Coke Zero, and Kinky + Sierra Mist. But never before noon. For I am a lady.
Reading: via audiobooks. I actually just renewed my Pittsburgh library card (shhhhh don’t tell them I moved!) because they have an incredible collection of digital resources (man, I'm a nerd). Recent favorite: BJ Novak’s (ya know...Ryan from The Office) One More Thing. It's pretty much genius.
Wanting: hair extensions. Pregnancy hormones did a number on my already sad hair (x2). I probably won't follow through on it, but it would be fun to have the tresses to pull off cool updos. And faking it would be whole lot easier than growing it out (As I'm currently doing...none of these tips)
Looking: forward to Fall. I will NOT rush Summer (in fact, I plan to drag it out as long as possible) but Fall is such a sweet transition (from one thing I love to another!) I won't be happy to give up the sno-cones, but I can at least be convinced to swap them for an apple cider slushie.
Playing: in the bounce house. We borrowed it from my sister for a week- which means for seven full days, every daylight moment was spent BOUN-CING. The girls were obsessed, the neighbors were excited, and we were thrilled to have the kids so thoroughly entertained (and exhausted).
There are no words to explain how much she loved this. 
Homegirl has no sense. And no fear.

Wasting: too much time comparing myself to others. When will that nonsense stop? (Related story: Dustin once told me a story about the oldest woman in the world...when she was asked what the best part about being the oldest woman was, she answered: lack of peer pressure. I hope I'm that funny, and wise when I'm a thousand.)
Wishing: I had about 3 more hours in the day. Or maybe 24 more hours in the week. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way...Can you imagine what it would be like to actually accomplish an entire day's to-do list for once? I might have to throw myself a party (which would eat up some of my extra free time...)
Enjoying: learning who Fin is. She's started to develop a genuine personality over the last few months (it's funny, and determined, and BIG). She was always a wide-eyed, but pretty going baby, but she's coming into her own now...so watch out world (and by world, I at least mean: Piper.)
Don't turn your back on this fox for a minute- 
she'll steal your sheep without a second thought. 

Waiting: impatiently for football season to start. I got my Fantasy team drafted, and Dustin and I stayed up too late last night catching up on Hard Knocks. I am ready for some football...
Liking: a lot less. Well, at least when it comes to Facebook. Did you catch this article about quitting the "like"? It's encouraging me to make the effort to "thumbs up" less, and comment more.
Wondering: if the kids will get Dustin's toe genes. His are great. Mine are busted. I'll feel bad if I set them up for a life of sandal insecurity.
The results of  constant proclamations of "I do it MY-self!"
 
Loving: getting to know my neighbors. We totally hit the neighbor jackpot at our new house, with impromptu mini-block parties, constant sidewalk chalk collaborations, and even some late night card games on the deck. I heart the suburbs.
Hoping: for good weather in a couple weeks- when we go to PUERTO RICO!! (ok, sorry...kind of...That was obnoxious, but really I'm so excited! Happy 9 years to us!)
Marveling: at my girls' sisterhood bond. I'm so excited to see how their love grows (and changes) throughout the years. It's such a blessing to have a sister, and I'm so thankful that we was able to give them that.
Not the best picture ever- but that's a big sister sharing her ice cream 
with a little sister. That makes it the best picture ever.

Needing: to stop procrastinating and finally download an entire summer's worth of pics from my iphone. I live in constant fear that I'm going to drop it in a lake (My parents have a boat- it's a real possibility!) and lose the last three months of memories. (Please don't step in with a lecture on "the cloud". I'm old...I don't get it...)
Smelling: umm...my sweaty kids? Gross, but true. We're still solid in the summer mode that substitutes pool visits for bathtime. It's not a long term strategy, but for now, it's kind of an awesome version of bad.
Wearing: Rainbow sandals (the brand not the pattern) 98% of days and stripes constantly.
Following:  #showyourreal on Instagram. Have you joined in? Loving this community that's building.
Noticing: I need to up my skin care game. I'm possibly the laziest/cheapest/most clueless person ever when it comes to taking care of my skin. But it's pretty much time for me to be a grown up, and make more effort than occasionally slathering myself in moisturizer (it at least has SPF). Any advice?
Knowing: I need to wake up earlier (technically meaning: stop drinking Coke Zero in the afternoon and start going to bed sooner) but having sooooo much trouble making that happen. How do manage being a night owl, when your family needs an early bird?
An episode of Daniel Tiger buys me an extra 25 minutes for those occasions when 
I can't tear myself out of bed on time. Also known as: every morning. Don't judge.
 
Thinking: it would be awesome to have another little Bowden running around someday...But then remembering the work that goes into making that happen. Is there a way to just have a 4 year old dropped off at my house someday? Or maybe I should invent baby boarding school for that time before they learn to sleep through the night...I'm thinking it could be pretty popular.
Bookmarking: so much randomness (be on the lookout for another round of ObsessPins this week) but one in particular: this DIY art. We have about two things up on the walls here. Not sure why that always takes me the longest to do- especially when it's the main thing that makes a house feel like home.
Opening: the door to a whole new world of possibility. J/K. I just can't think of anything good. Maybe: opening a pseudo craiglist store out of my garage? We still have so much extra junk we shouldn't have bothered to move. Need something? Anything? I might have it...and I'll make you a deal.
Giggling: at Piper's silly little musings. A recent fave: I told her a friend of mine was sick, and her response: "Because her sister used her cup?" Guess those lessons we're always giving about germs are soaking in.
Feeling: So very happy. And settled. And thankful. And right exactly where I’m supposed to be in this moment.
(It helps that where I am happens to sell gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches)

Welp. That's about the size of it.
Your turn! What are some “-ings” you want to share?

P.s. Check out the first installment of our -ing things here.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Thrive Moms: Made For This

I'm over at Thrive Moms today...sharing my fears over not feeling like I'm "made for motherhood"...
You see...I know the things that come naturally to me, and they are not the things of motherhood. My natural inclinations are towards the things of this world. The things that serve me. The things that are fun, and easy, and selfish.
Yikes. Can you relate?
Head over to the Thrive Moms blog for the full story...and maybe tell me I'm not alone?

(p.s. I may not fall effortlessly into all of being a mama...but the lovin'- that part I got.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Show Your Real: Amanda K.

Show Your Real + Real Life Friend is my favorite combination ever. (Except maybe Coke Zero + vanilla ice cream. That pair is rrrrrrrright up there.) Amanda (who I strictly call by her last name, so even typing Amanda is crazy weird for me) is a former coworker of mine who wised up faster than me in terms and fled the wild world of corporate retail a few years back. Our friendship has now outlasted our shared office tenure by at least six years, and is maintained entirely through emails, facebook messages and comments typed one-handed while pacifying our babies. She shares my passion for design, photography, well-researched parenting literature, and was the impetus behind my post-turned-novel about work/life/mama-ing/all the things. She's whip-smart, and a fervent supporter of women, openness, and thankfully: me. I tell her often how thankful I am to to have her (someone like her...but more specifically ACTUAL her) in my network of life, even if our interactions are entirely bound to the virtual realm. I'm blessed to get to share her beautiful heart with you all here.

(And in case you find her irresistible too- you can find more of her images and stories over at Leap Day Studio).
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I hate dusting.
There are 26 picture frames in our living room - each with a noticeable layer of top dust. 
If I were of the hoarding nature, I would grow this collection of snapshots.
Expressions of wonder and surprise, awe and investigation, love and laughter would fill our walls.  The stories of days easily within view - not stashed in computer galleries or tucked away in a yearbook. 
This is the stuff of a successful life. 
I’ve come to realize it’s not all spreadsheets and conference calls.
But alas, I hate dusting.  And the kids can’t climb a ladder to help.
A SEASON OF PEACE

My Real is my home.  It’s a humble place with dented walls from thrown objects, carpet spots from over-zealous snacking, rooms with stories of diy and labor pains, design plans for the future, kid chaos of the present, and memories (both harsh and happy) of the past 9 years.  We plan to stay here until our grey hairs are plentiful and our nest is empty.

My Real is my people.  We are a tribe of four:  a hard-working hubby, a newly minted four-year old girl who is both kind and sassy, and a quick moving one-year old boy who has a giggle to lift the heaviest of hearts, and momma me.  The days of giggles, snuggled story time, tiny socks, colorful toys, and you-are-the-center-of-my-world hugs are numbered.  But for all my sentimental ways…it excites me.  Oh, to see our children grow and emerge as individuals – wide-eyed and ready.  A gift.

These are the best parts of my Real - full of gratitude and appreciation for the awesomeness of the people and place we have been given charge of to love.


A SEASON OF CHALLENGE

I’m having a birthday next month.  Kind of a big one.  My Real is…I’m not where I thought I’d be at this age.  My over-achieving mind has ached for many moons these past years for a career not realized and accomplishments untapped.

I know what you are thinking:  “The world is her oyster!  There are many years of prime creativity, years to reach goals.  Don’t give up!!”  To that I say this:

I thought I would be at a certain level based on what I thought I SHOULD be, versus WHO I truly am.  Your brain is aching, right?  Here’s the scoop:

Before life evolved into a full-time-at-home mom gig, I was a great many things – a
Type A over-achiever with a bit too much worry, a get-it-done hard worker, a sentimental gal with a love of technology, and a wife with a penchant for list making, home improvements, meals from scratch, goal reaching, and alone time. 

I am still all of those things.  But I am a mom, too.  And mommahood changes reality (exponentially, the second time around). And that is OKAY. 

I left a career to start a family.  I left a job to nurture two kids and support my husband’s career - one that takes him on many, many airplanes.  
I was the solid.  I could do this.  Still the ache of SHOULD.  SHOULD DO MORE.

After years of schooling, I believed career accomplishment would by my only way to create a wholly successful life, anything less was a waste of my talents and was just me being lazy.
WHAT?!  Yeah, I know.  Crazy. 

Newborn feedings were spent pep-talking myself and fighting resentment, “You could do it.  So many of your friends do.  You have the ability.  Why not?!  You’d be happier.  You’d be a success.” 
The “why not?” had me digging deep for months, because it just didn’t feel right for me to jump back on the career path.

And one day, there it was:  because I’m me and not them. 
After I truly accepted that realization, I said good-bye to a few things - perhaps for always.

Like a career. 

A painful blow.  A large lesson in being selfless and sacrifice for the people I love, including myself.  It was a complete shift in how I was defining success.  Maybe being happy and knowing your sweet spot was success in itself. 


I stopped trying to shove myself into a place I didn’t fit any longer.  After a sit-down chit-chat with my hubby (to share the epiphany I should have had many tearful months prior) I bought a new camera to celebrate.

So here I am.  Almost a year later.  Mom life is hard.  I don’t really love it.  I still have resentment on especially difficult days.  Just like thousands of women who go to work each day just to put food on the table but don’t love what they do.  They still do it. 
They show up and they do their work.  
Because they love their people – so, so much.

My current work is kids.  The messes, the milestones, the worries, the crafts, the baths and all of it.  Without the ache of SHOULD, my mind is open to COULD.

And that silly story about the 26 picture frames?  And the celebratory camera? 
The possibilities are endless.  

Photo Credits Karissa Diagostino
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Show Your Real is a series of guest posts centered around the concept of authenticity. The goal is to encourage each other to expose the reality of our lives- good and bad- and to foster a sense of community that goes beyond the often suface-cy interactions of social media. We invite all of you to participate! Please comment, link, and hashtag to spread the showyourreal love. If you would like to contribute a guest post in this series, please email me (cjsbowden at gmail dot com).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our life in squares

You know what I love more than anything? (ok...that's way too definitive to possibly be true, but let's just pretend for a minute) Photography. More specifically? Iphone-ography. more specifically? Instagram-ography. 

But as much as I love snapping all those tiny pics, I get sad when the only place I can see them is on my tiny phone screen. I miss real prints. I want those little square memories turned into real live mementos. But you know what I hate more than anything (again...not at all possible that I've truly narrowed it down to my one true thorn...) spending forever saving, selecting, resizing, grouping, arranging, and printing those pictures. Way (way) back in the day I tried my hand at scrapbooking, but it can be monstrously time consuming, and equally expensive. Then I got into making blurb books, which is noteably easier, but I still found myself agonizing over the details a bit (a lot) too much. 

Well, my friends- I think I've found the answer....Chatbooks

 (P.s. we got a new ottoman too. And it's a tufted bunch of loooooove.)

In case you haven't heard, Chatbooks is a new(ish) site/app that helps make cute little books of your pics. They're 60 pages of cuteness for $6. Yep. That's a Lincoln + a Washington (to be fair that could also mean 26 cents, but 6 bucks is still one helluva deal). That even includes the shipping. And the best part? It takes about 5 minutes to make them. Even someone who manages to overthink and belabor everything (me) can keep this simple. Download the app, pick the photos you want to include, choose your cover and write a title. Donezo. 

Chatbooks, Shutterfly, Blurb. You're all welcome here!

Even better- I was able to include photos from Dustin's insta-feed too. All of our photos combined in one place, printed out on real live paper, without hours of fussing over the details? Yes please. 
The last blurb book I printed was just before Fin was born, so we had quite the virtual collection to catch up on. But still, it was quick and easy. I spent a few minutes unchecking all our less than stellar snaps, and then sent out my order. A few days later- my memories were officially on the books. (or in some books). Behold: 


I'm not getting a kickback, or really a benefit of any kind by sharing...other than the joy of maybe saving you a few precious minutes, when trying to document a million precious memories. And my honest review: I'm impressed with the quality. At 6"x6" and 60 pages, they're small and thin, but the print clarity is good, and the matte feel and weight of the paper is nice. I miss the ability to combine multiple images on a page, and customize layouts, but what I gave up in control, I more than gained in efficiency. 
 

And my favorite FAVORITE part, is the captions. Previously, my Instagram books were photos only, so to have the captions automatically included under each photo is simply awesome. I love having the memories of the images, with the extra context of my original quips.

 (bonus shot of another love of mine: my recent ombre manicure.)

Yes, there are a couple weird bits- emojis print out as black and white sketches, I accidentally selected to include location tags- which don't always translate directly, and some of my more long winded ramblings end up in size 2 font...but still...I can't say enough about the ease-to-quality ratio. It was all so simple, with such a great end product, that I can't complain about the nitpicky details.

 

So I say: Go! Print the pictures. Save the memories. And save some time.