2015 Family Calendar (and a Downloadable Version)

2015 Family Calendar | PepperDesignBlog.com

I started this little project just before Christmas (and before Marley joined us) and I’ve finally just recently finished it :). I’m actually happy this project has taken longer than expected because it’s given me an opportunity to reprint a few months and add a few photos of Marley as well.

I was initially inspired to create a family calendar after seeing this one ages ago, but I wanted a simpler design and one that I could maybe even adjust year after year. It took me a while to put something together. So long, in fact, that I posted the project on Fiverr to speed up populating all of the calendar dates (love that site!).

Here’s a look at all 12 months. Check out those cuties!

You can download my version here if you’d like (you’ll need InDesign to adjust the photos, but if you’re familiar with the tool it’s as simple as deleting my photo layer and adding your own).

2015 Family Calendar | PepperDesignBlog.com

I printed the calendar on thick watercolor paper, punched a small hole at the top of each print out and strung them together with a little snip of wax baker’s twine for our kitchen’s cork board command center. I made a few sets as gifts, maybe a late Valentine’s Day present now? :)

2015 Family Calendar | PepperDesignBlog.com

I really love how they turned out! Makes me smile to look back at some of my favorite photos from 2014 (this calendar is the perfect size for Instagram photos, too).

Hope that you had a special Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend!

60 Minutes of Play a Day Challenge – My Thoughts

60 Minutes of Play a Day Challenge | PepperDesignBlog.com

You might remember that last week I set a little goal for myself to dedicate 60 minutes a day to one-on-one play with the girls.

My biggest goal of this challenge? To turn off technology while I was focusing on quality time. I wanted to challenge myself to live in the present, to practice focusing fully on the three little girls that make my life pretty special (and in such a way that they knew that they had my undivided attention).

So that’s what I attempted. I spent time each day turning away from my iPhone (and with that work and personal emails, text messages, Instagram updates), and turning towards the girls.

I’ll admit this right off of the bat – my initial challenge mentioned that I wouldn’t count one-on-one time that was already a part of dedicated routines around the house (cooking dinner, reading stories at bedtime). But that was near impossible, and what I learned is to take those sometimes mundane tasks and find ways to make them extra engaging (I’m already making dinner, after all) so as to appreciate them more.

I was a bit surprised (and a little relieved) when I saw the comments and discussion that came in after posting the challenge last week. Most of the moms that shared their thoughts announced with surprise at the amount of time that I was challenging myself to. I’m sure working moms felt the time to be an incredible crunch in their day when, as one mom pointed out, she only has 2.5 hours of time with her kids post-work and pre-bed anyways (and there’s still dinner to make and the pj routine to get through). 60 minutes is overwhelming. And I totally get that. I’m sure stay-at-home moms probably thought the number a bit low (this week I observed one mom at the park who stayed in the sandbox with her one-year-old for an hour straight, totally engaged in his world. I was really impressed.)

60 Minutes of Play a Day Challenge | PepperDesignBlog.com

Here’s what I learned:

1. 60 minutes is a long time! I literally timed myself the first few days just to get a gauge of what my current habits were. I most succeeded in tuning out the ‘noise’ when I broke that hour into chunks. Sometimes that was a twenty minute chunk after breakfast, sometimes that was a five minute chunk during the crazy of a busy afternoon. It’s amazing what five minutes of engagement in the middle of a busy sretch can do.

2. I nixed the rule to not count routine activities within two days. Once I counted our cooking time, activity book or coloring time, reading time and park time, I focused on making those activities centered more around the girls. For example, during meal prep I encouraged Liv to scoot up a chair and help me build the salad. While adding fruits and veggies we talked about what we were doing or our day.

3. I didn’t become discouraged when I couldn’t meet ‘my goal’. This was an experiment after all, and if some days we spent a full morning with a play group but there was no mommy-time, that was okay. If I had to answer work emails for four hours straight and had to skip the park, so be it. If I was sick in bed, I abandoned it all together.

4. I was able to focus on activities I dig! Art projects, reading new library books, going on walks, taking the girls on little Starbucks dates when I had just one with me. I wanted to engage in what the girls wanted to do, but we parents are crafty about being able to shape that.

60 Minutes of Play a Day Challenge | PepperDesignBlog.com

60 Minutes of Play a Day Challenge | PepperDesignBlog.com

Conclusion:

I loved reader Frannie’s comment about quiet observation and “wants nothing quality time”. Janet Lansbury explains that it’s not so important that your quality kid-time is actively engaging, it’s more that you’re just present. Towards the end of the week this was ever true for me.

Sometimes for me setting a goal (amount of time, pounds, number of items, etc depending on the challenge) helps to keep me focused on building better habits. Having this minute goal to reach each day encouraged me to creatively find ways to invite more play. Not so much as any sort of strict rule, but more as incentivization.

I will have to come up with a new strategy when I’m back to work full time (this won’t work then!), but for these next few weeks I’m liking the idea of building habits of encouraging myself to use the free moments that I do have (whether they were two or 30) to ignore distraction and to enjoy the play.

Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and President’s weekend!

Handmade Gifts: Friends’ Edition

Kevin and I are lucky enough to have some incredibly talented friends, and while I’ve shared favorite handmade gifts that I’ve made here on the blog before, I wanted to also share some of the amazing homemade treasures that we have been gifted over the years. In fact, I can’t believe this hadn’t dawned on me earlier! Wow there is just something so special about handmade. I feel so incredibly honored when someone gifts something unique and beautiful that they have spent time and energy creating just for me. I can’t think of a more special feeling.

We have lots of these treasures around our home. Here are a few that might inspire a little creative juice:

Handmade Gifts: Friend's Edition | PepperDesignBlog.com

Geometric candleholders: our friend, David is a contractor and is pretty skilled at working with wood. He made these beautiful votive candleholders out of chunks of a reclaimed slab that Kevin was using to build a bench for the backyard. They are probably one of my favorite pieces of decor in the entire house. That dark stain, the unique shape, the exquisite contrast between the white and wood, the unique imperfections in the wood itself that shows through. They’re beautiful.

Tools: leftover wood chunks, chopsaw, stain and a drill (for candles). Serious experience using a chopsaw since cuts are so angled.

Where to buy: David is starting up an Etsy shop of his own (and when he does I’ll be sure to share!) but until then, here is a similar Etsy artist.

Handmade Gifts: Friend's Edition | PepperDesignBlog.com

Pastel weaving: weaving is so popular right now (I’m trying to build up the courage to try my hand at it) and my very creative friend Cassie has been churning out some amazing work. She used to blog over at Kent Heartstrings but now sells most of her art via an Instagram popup shop.

Tools: diy loom (Cassie built hers with wood framing and nails), yarn, found wood (twigs, driftwood)

Where to buy: check out her Instagram shop.

Handmade Gifts: Friend's Edition | PepperDesignBlog.com

Watercolor home artwork: my friend, Trish has diyed most of her home and one of my favorites about her art is that almost all of it are originals by her family. Apparently she comes from a long line of talented painters! She created this beautiful watercolor of our home (which I will treasure forever) for us a couple of years ago. We now proudly display it in our living room.

Tools: watercolor supplies, a picture of your home

Where to buy: there are Etsy artists selling similar custom pieces (Trish should start a shop!), here is one.

A talented group, right? This will have to be part 1 because I can already think of more homemade gifts around our house that I’d love to share.

PS one of my favorite recent projects, another friend collaboration that resulted in beautiful leather necklaces.

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