Monday, January 30, 2012

Some thoughts on happiness (adapted from Gretchen Rubin)

Okay, I promise this is the last time I will mention Alt Summit.  For a while.

I've struggled to decide what information from Alt to share and pass on to you.  I want it to be useful and meaningful, even if you're not a blogger, or even the creative type.

In the last week, I guess the answer has presented itself, because among the amazing eye-opening advice I sat through (and furiously scribbled in my notebook), the things that have popped in my head the most have come from the final keynote speech by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.  This is not to downplay the rest of the Alt-ness floating in there too, I have food for thought to last until next year :).

I know the reason a few of Gretchen's points resonated with me has to do with the fact that I have reached similar conclusions on points and it was gratifying to hear them spoken out loud by someone else.  My embarrassing confession is that I haven't read her book (yet).  For all I know, everything I'm about to say is contained in those pages, but nevertheless.  It meant something to me, and I hope it will mean something to you too.

Her keynote was peppered with great humor, insight, and advice, but mainly it was about her own quest to be happier.  From her own journey, as detailed in her book, we can pull out certain truths about humanity and happiness.

The first thing that resonated with me was the fact that making others happy, makes us happy.  Everytime.  The funny thing about it is this: it's easier to make others happy when we are ourselves happy, but the return is always the same when you make others happy: happiness!

Secondly, outer order contributes to inner calm.  Yes, it's somewhat of an allusion, but not necessarily a bad one.  The need to settle my daily life/work balance has moved to the forefront of my list lately because I notice little things that make my life harder in small ways that could easily be taken care of with a bit more organization (ouch).

Alright, here's the big one.  The one I've spent the most time thinking about this week...You can only build your life on your nature and your values.  Own who you are and you will be more happy.  Admit your limits.  Gretchen told a story about music.  She had wanted to be a lover of music and had spent a lot of time and energy in her life trying to muster up a love for music that just wasn't there.  It was sad, but freeing to admit that she just didn't really care about music.  How many things have we been spending our time and energy on that we just want to like, or want to be good at, but really aren't?  Knowing yourself is actually really hard, but we can start by eliminating the things that we know deep down in our hearts really aren't us.

 And lastly, the most important things in life can't be measured. Sounds like a Hallmark card, but the point is we are drawn to things we can measure such as money, health, blog stats (ahem!). We spend a lot of time on these things because they equate to a physical number.  The things that will make us the most happy though, can't be found on the list of things that equate to a number (building relationships, spirituality, relaxation, etc.).  Gretchen suggested finding what those immeasurable things are for you and making an actual appointment to do them. 

A lot to think about, right?  I would love to hear your thoughts on Gretchen's insights as presented (rather sloppily!) here, or from the book. 

Three cheers for more happiness!

P.S. Find the book here.

photo credits: one / two / three

Color story #2

Happy Monday!  I'm recovering from the flu, but that doesn't stop me from thinking of hearts and valentines.  This colorful plate of cookies is part of a baby shower by Brooke Reynolds of Inchmark.  Darling, no? See the other details here.  It's a sure way to get your valentine juices flowing!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A special dinner for Addie

My sweet little Addie turned two last week.  Thanks to Alt and a crazy schedule, I didn't plan much in the way of a party.  I was thinking we might take her to the zoo later this week, but my oldest made it very clear that everyone in this family needs a party on their birthday!  I blame myself for this line of thinking :)

So after attending a friends birthday party on Sunday, Jeremy and I ran out for a few things, and came up with a little party for Ads.

I bought two bundles of flowers at the market and decided to tape them in four rows on the wall behind our table (I was inspired by this photo).

My husband surprised me by pulling this lovely little cake out of the freezer!  He had made it while I was flying home on Saturday.  Seriously, I love that man.  And he's going to be making the cakes from now on!  I decided to stick one of my wooden Hooray toppers in the cake (for good measure, of course).

Luckily, I have a growing stash of beeswax candles from Miette.  I knew they would come in handy someday.  Now I can justify buying a handful every time we visit the store :).

Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

From the desk: New business cards

I just realized I never showed you my latest business cards!  Business cards are kind of a big deal at Alt, so I knew I had to make something new for the occasion (no pressure, right?). 

I love how a card can tell so much about someone in such a small space.  It was a treat to receive so many gorgeous and creative cards this last week!

As for me, I stuck with a few of my old stand-bys:  kraft paper, glassine envelopes, and pretty masking tape.  I threw in some cute wooden flags for good measure.  What do you think?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life after Alt

I think I'm finally back in the swing of things after a fabulous time at Alt!  I could really get used to fancy hotels, great advice, beautiful, creative people everywhere, and roommates who like to chat late into the night (and tell you when you have lipstick on your teeth!).  Clearly, I want smilebooth to be in my life. everyday.

I'm still cleaning my house and gathering my thoughts, but in the meantime, here are a few pictures to look at:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And we're off!

I'm on my way to the airport to head to Alt! I'm excited as can be, but nervous too. Three cheers for trying something new, right?

If you want an insiders look at the conference, I will be updating my instagram all week. You can follow me at @randiedwards!

See you next week!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Happy Friday

What are you up to this weekend?  Mine is going to be filled with all sorts of preparations for my trip to Alt this coming week!  I'm still freaking out a little bit over what to wear, so a little shopping may be in order.  I'm also in the process of designing a wedding suite for a good friend, so our weekend may be spent close to home.  We've found a new favorite breakfast cafe that serves the best bagels, so maybe we can sneak away on Saturday morning!

Did I mention Jeremy is in the middle of his pastry unit at culinary school?  The apple tart pictured above is just one of the few amazing things he's brought home.  His arrival home coincides with my midnight snack cravings perfectly!  I could really get used to this.

Thank you for all of your sweet comments this week, I appreciate all of you so much! Anyone who has commented this week or who comments on anything for the rest of today-check your inbox on Monday!

Happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Map Valentines in the shop!

As you may remember, I put together these map valentines last year. Well, I loved them so much that I decided to bring them back for a limited time!  

You can find them in the shop right here.  Each card is hand cut and comes with a vellum envelope and heart label.

Happy Valentine's Day! Get 'em while they're hot!

Wear this: Red pants

A while back, I pondered the bright-pants trend.  I finally took the plunge and bought some red jeans after Christmas and I LOVE them!

They're the perfect blend of sassy and classy, plus there are a lot of affordable options out there.  They look great paired with neutral colors or even stripes.

If you're in the market to try this trend, check these out:

1.Vero Moda super stretch skinny jeans/Asos $32.72 
2. BDG Cigarette High-Rise Jean in red/UO $58
3. 1969 mid-weight legging jean/Gap $69.95
4. Toothpick jean in garment dyed twill/J.Crew $108

P.S. Mine are actually maternity jeans!  Here they are in dark wash (I guess the red ones are only available in the store).

Photo one/two

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Color your own cards (for the kids):

We're still finishing up our Christmas thank you's around here.  I like my kids to participate in some way so they will (hopefully) start the habit of saying thank you from a young age.

Ellie had so much fun painting her own cards last year, that we decided to do it again.

I made a few simple-as-can-be designs and printed them out for the girls to color and paint. 

As soon as the papers were dry, I turned them over and wrote a few words of thanks.  I plan to send them off in pretty vellum envelopes.

If you'd like to print a few off for your own kids, you can find the file here

Happy card making!

Monday, January 9, 2012


True to form, I didn't get around to writing my resolutions until this last weekend.  I finally had a moment of peace to collect my thoughts.  I guess it takes a little time for things to sink in for me, even a new year.

I'm a natural list-maker, so there's always some kind of planning and scheming going on in the practical realm.  So, when it comes to actual resolutions I like to focus on the direction I would like to head, a theme, if you will.  Something I can look back on through the year to find my place.  Obviously, it takes some practical planning and goal setting to actually achieve such a theme, but it's the theme itself that keeps me motivated over time.

So, with that said, here are my themes for 2012:

1. Slow down and be present.

I remember hearing a lesson about this at some point and realizing that most of us spend our moments looking forward to another moment (or looking back, I suppose).  This completely impairs us from enjoying the moment we're actually in.  By the time we get to the moment we were anticipating, we naturally move on to another moment in the future in our minds.

This year I want to plan ahead enough to enjoy my moments more, to truly focus on one thing at a time.  Even when I don't plan well and the house is a mess, and work is undone, I hope to still be able to focus on the moment at hand.  When I'm with my kids I want to be with my kids.  When I'm working I want to be working.

2. Do things that scare me.  Often.

I'm not really talking about sky-diving scary here (well, maybe?).  I think when we're younger we have no choice- we are thrust into new situations and forced to learn new things all the time.  I've noticed as an adult it's really easy to create a comfortable world around me and not really force myself to get out of it.

Sometimes the best things in life are scary, like meeting a new person, learning a new skill, or kicking a bad habit.  Scary things cause growth.

3. Give more.

I want to give more of my time, money and self to things that really matter.  I want to be intentional about serving everyone around me, from my family to strangers in need.  I don't think anyone who's ever set out to give more has ended up empty handed.

There you have it!  What are you goals this year?  I would love to hear them!

Welcome to "thank you" week!

Happy Monday to you!

I've decided to make this week all about you, dear readers!  I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read through Swoon, comment on posts, and even follow daily.  It really means the world to me!

At the start of last year, I sent out little gifts to anyone who commented on my blog.  This year, I've decided to send a few goodies to your inbox, just to say thank you for being here.

Do you want to join in?  All you have to do is comment on something this week (today through Friday)!  Be sure to leave your email address somewhere in your comment and you will find a few downloads in your inbox early next week!

Thanks again for being so great!


Friday, January 6, 2012

Press Here (the most "ridickerous" book ever)

It's a great thing when you pick something out for your child and they actually end up loving it (not always the case).  I picked out the lovely book Press Here, by Herve Tullet, before I even knew who it would be for.

I had heard such great things about the book, and decided it would be wrapped under the tree for four year old Ellie.  She seemed to like it, but to be honest it sat in a pile of presents for about a week before we cracked it open together.

Basically, the book features colorful dots on each page.  The reader is asked to do something interactive with the dots that causes a change in the dots on the next page.  For example "rub the dot on the left gently," which causes the dot to "turn" red on the next page.

This turned out to be the perfect book for my wiggly girl!  She was belly-laughing by the end and shouting, "This is ridickerous, Mamma. Ridickerous!"  

She's just old enough to understand the actions in the book (counting, left and right, etc.), but young enough to really think there's magic involved.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Color story #1

The number one thing that inspires me as I walk through my day is color.  I love how colors act differently when put together in various combinations.  I thought I would make these color story posts more of a regular thing in 2012. 

Sometimes you just need a little pick me up, right?

artwork by Samantha Hahn (her blog is here)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Downton Abbey

Have you heard of the popular series "Downton Abbey" on PBS? We fell in love with the first season of this new Masterpiece Theater series last summer.  Think Jane Austen style plot twists set in pre-WWI Europe. Even my husband likes it!  Plus the sets and costumes are very well done and pretty to look at.

The series continues this Sunday with a second season on PBS.  If you're interested in catching up first, you can watch the first series on the PBS website here.

All photos from PBS

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Baby by the Bay.

My dear friends, I can't keep it a secret any longer: baby three is on the way!  We are beyond excited about the August arrival of this little one.

I'm only two months along, and this past month has been rough-I can barely keep my eyes open some days!  Things seem to be looking up and I think I will feel more like myself by the end of this month.

I'm not really showing yet, but I thought I would share some photos from last time around (Addie).  We were living in Seattle and my sister came over one day to take some photos of my belly.  I have never shared any of these photos, but am hoping to make them into a book before August (gotta eliminate the middle child syndrome where I can)!

I can't believe how tiny Ellie was in these pictures!  Thanks for letting me share my news!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Favorites of 2011

Before we turn all of our attention to 2012, I thought it would be fun to go back and revisit some of my favorite posts and happenings of 2011!

Here we go:

We kicked off the year by hosting an indoor picnic for Addie's first birthday:

And then we made some yummy snacks in our waffle iron:

We made Valentines using maps:

And planned a special Peter Pan party for a very special girl, Abbey.

We dyed colorful invitations in the Spring:

As well as my first ever styled shoot featuring Eden and Ellie (shot by the amazing Meg Borders):

We colored our own Father's Day cards this year:

And threw a Gender Reveal party for a good friend:

We dined outside with the lovely people from Outstanding in the field:

And put our stuff into boxes and moved down to the Bay:

We had fun decorating our new house:

And celebrating fall:

I got carried away with this little Up themed invitation:

And officially opened up shop:

As the days grew colder, we celebrated Ellie's birthday with hot cocoa and glitter globes:

And gave our friends something to keep them warm:

I hope 2011 was a meaningful and fun year for you.  Can't wait to see what's in store in 2012!