22 December 2015
I loved our five Christmas card finalists so much that I would have been thrilled to send out any of them, but in the end, we went with the design that y’all loved best, and that was so undeniably perfect for our upcoming year:
It’s the Wonder Filled design by Baumbirdy from the geniuses at Minted. Our photo was taken by the talented Perry Vaile!
Since our card design was simple and black and white, we didn’t add any color to the newsletter, either. It’s crazy to think of all the milestones we’ll have to squeeze onto the 2016 version!!
I love that many of our news items aren’t news to y’all, like our dativersary, Articles Club, pumpkin and soup night, and of course, our trip to France! It really is a joy to share with and learn from you all, and, in turn, to be invited into your lives! Which brings me to your very own handwritten note, because no Thomas Christmas card would be complete without one:
Thomas Christmas cards are also not complete without recognition of why we send cards at Christmas in the first place. Though sometimes it seems unavoidable, we don’t want our cards to be all about us. We send them out at Christmas to share our joy at the birth of our Savior with the people we love the most, and we want to remind people of that in a personal way. So, we’ve taken to including a few thoughts on what Christmas means to us, and a favorite piece of scripture. We went with a classic this year :)
I’m not sure if I’ll be back between now and my annual year in review, as we have lots of family arriving shortly for an extended visit (YAY!). But, I’m already so excited to share a look back and a look forward to what should be a very interesting year… I’ve been working on my goals with the PowerSheets, and I can’t wait to discuss!
P.S. Our cards from 2014, 2013, and 2012!
16 November 2015
Update: We have a winner! Congratulations to Breanne, commenter number 47!
For as long as I can remember, Christmas cards have been a treasured part of my Decembers. I love the whole process — browsing potential designs, choosing a favorite, writing notes, receiving cards from loved ones, and displaying them in our home. I love that with so much sadness and darkness in the world, Christmas cards are a small reminder of the true light of the world. In fact, we still have Christmas 2014 cards pinned up in our kitchen because they make me so happy!
For the third year in a row we’ll be sending a Minted design, and I would love your help choosing a favorite!
1. Joy to the World Starbursts | 2. Wonder Filled | 3. More Joy | 4. Winter Brush Foil-Pressed | 5. Peaceful Pines
The wonderful Perry Vaile took a few photos of us for a Southern Weddings project earlier this year, and we’re so happy to have her talents gracing our card! The fall hues in the background lend themselves well to some of Minted’s mustard-y options this year — unexpected, but I like it!
I’m sure y’all are well aware of how amazing Minted’s offerings are. With their sophisticated design software, you can easily adjust your photo as well as the placement of all text elements, fonts, colors, and sizing. They also offer the most perfectly coordinated envelope designs, free envelope addressing, extra-thick stock, and custom card shapes!
BUT the thing I most wanted to highlight from Minted this year is their new completely custom art options! For example, send them your child’s drawing and they’ll print it either in letterpress or foil — what an amazing gift for grandparents!! I’ve said it before (here when they debuted their custom fabric), but this company continues to amaze me with their creativity and commitment to excellence. I am a forever fan for sure!
Now for the extra-fun part: I have a $200 Minted gift certificate to give away!! To enter, just comment below with either your favorite option from our Christmas card finalists, or the Minted design you’d most like to order for your family! (Or both!) I’ll randomly choose a winner next Monday! If you’re ready to get started, you can use code FOIL for a free foil upgrade or code JOY for 10% off orders of $100+.
P.S. Yes, our newsletter will be back! I’ve gotten many emails about this, so I wanted to say it here: I’m opening up three spots to design similar newsletters! $100 for a ready-to-print file, customized with your family’s stats and news. Email me at em (at) emformarvelous.com to reserve your spot or ask more questions!
Minted has graciously gifted us our Christmas cards, but I chose to write this post, and the opinions are my own! I have loved everything about Minted — especially their crowd-sourced designs — for many years, and I love sharing what they’re up to with y’all.
16 April 2015
Friends, we have a wedding album! It’s been a long time in the making (2.5 years!), but it’s here, it’s gorgeous, and I couldn’t be happier.
When we were budgeting for wedding photography, we decided to put all of our resources into purchasing talent, not products. Our “package” only included wedding day hours, not albums or an engagement session or anything else. This was 100% the right choice and I would make the same one again in a heartbeat! Tanja was worth every penny. But, I did want a wedding album at some point – it’s one of my 60 Before 30 goals!
And I didn’t want just any album. We purchased Artifact Uprising wedding albums for our parents, which I loved, but for our one heirloom wedding album, I wanted the works: leather, classic styling, and thick, lay-flat pages.
I looked at Tanja’s albums first. She only offers one option, and it starts at $2,500. As much as I thought her albums were beautiful, there was simply no way that would ever be a feasible option for us. I kept looking, but it seemed like all of the albums I loved were only available through a photographer (not surprising, but still disappointing!). Then, I found Milk Books.
It was as if the angels started singing. Their Cream albums are actually used by photographers for clients, which starts to tell you about the quality. Lay flat board pages? Check. Art paper? Check. White leather, a beautiful presentation box, and simple and elegant layout options? Check, check, check.
Cream albums are still expensive (they start at $595 for a 20-page album), but compared to the options available through most photographers, they are a steal. Also, having been subscribed to the Milk Books newsletter for the past few months, I’ve noticed two nice things – they often run sales up to 50% off (seriously – I’ve seen at least two!), and you can pre-purchase an album at any time (during sales!) and then design and order it when you’re ready. So nice!
The Cream online layout system is good, but not perfect. I wish I had had the option of moving pages around, since it was hard to know how much room to allocate for certain parts of the day right from the start. I loved how simple and aesthetically pleasing the layout options were, though – it would be hard to design an ugly album!
Also: strange to design pages featuring yourself :) But, you know, I figured grandchildren might like to see one day.
Keep in mind, these pages are BIG. That full-bleed photo above measures more than a foot wide, and the wingspan of the open album is a whopping 28 inches!
I think if I had realized JUST how large the photos would print, I would have included a few more of the layouts with multiple photos. Let that be a lesson to y’all! These ended up being some of my favorite pages.
It took about a month for our album to be produced and shipped to us, and we had a mini viewing party when it finally arrived! We haven’t looked at it too often since, but that’s okay – I wanted a real wedding album not because I expected to crack it open every morning, but as an heirloom for years (and people) to come. That’s exactly what we got.
If you’re married, do you have a wedding album? If so, was it included in your photography package, or did you buy it separately? I’d love to hear!!
P.S. More wedding photos.
The kind folks at Milk Books offered me a discount on our album. Regardless, I’m just thrilled to share the best wedding album source I’ve found!
19 December 2014
Usually I like to make a fun little graphic showing how the voting on potential Christmas card designs panned out, since y’all are so generous to give us your opinions! This year, however, there was a landslide winner, and it was the favorite in our household, too…
We chose the Snowy Love and Joy card by Tuleppe from Minted. We don’t get too many flakes down South, and I just couldn’t resist adding a few flurries to our card!
Thanks again to our dear friend Meredith Perdue for this lovely photo of us! And thanks to Natalie and Joe for having a wedding in 2014 and making us look good :) (By the way – stay tuned for a peek at their celebration in January!)
I love creating our newsletter because it gives us a chance to look back on our year and share our favorite parts. Unsurprisingly, our California trip took pride of place in 2014!
Thanks to Minted, however, I feel like the scene stealer this year was the envelope! I LOVED their new designed options. Though I didn’t take advantage of their free (!) addressing service this year, I can guarantee you I will in the future!
Though I enjoy hand-addressing our envelopes at the moment, it’s not a deal breaker for me. There are two things, however, that are. First, it’s important to us that our Christmas cards are not all about us. We send them out at Christmas to share our joy at the birth of our Savior with the people we love the most, and we want to remind people of that in a personal way. That’s why we include a few thoughts on what Christmas means to us, and a favorite piece of scripture.
Second, I refuse to send cards out without a handwritten note. I know a lot of folks do so, and I can understand why, but I view our Christmas cards as a touchpoint for friends and family that I don’t get to see or talk to as much as I would like, and I want it to be a truly personal one. And don’t worry, I didn’t forget y’all :)
Hope you love them!
P.S. Our 2013 and 2012 Christmas cards
1 December 2014
As today is December 1, you may have been expecting a monthly goals post! But since I have the first gift guide ready to go, I thought I’d post it today, so if you do decide to purchase anything from it, you can take advantage of Cyber Monday sales! Goals will go up tomorrow.
A. Southern phrase calendar ($12 + free shipping today only) | Colorful and fun, and perfectly priced for giving to friends.
B. How Marvelous How Wonderful t-shirt ($25 + 30% off with code CYBERMONDAY) | I adore their whole Hymn collection, but feel like this one is particularly appropriate!
C. Citrus recipe box ($34) | This tin has the prettiest colors. Even if you don’t need it to hold recipes, find something else to stick in here!
D. All in one bag ($105 + free shipping today) | Natalie gave this to me as a bridesmaid gift, and though I was surprised at the color at first, I now love it! I’ve used it so many times in the past six months, and it’s really flexible.
E. Hand-painted wrapping paper (price upon request?) | This has to be the prettiest wrapping paper in the world.
F. Kaleido trays (from $16) | I love all of the color combinations and think these would be perfect on a bureau or coffee table!
G. Boxer pajama set ($39) | Don’t mind the sultry VS model – I’ve heard these are the comfiest, cutest PJs!
H. Large cosmetic bag ($22) | The yellow dots are classic and fun, but there are so many other patterns to choose from!
I. Anchinalu scarf ($38) | A beautiful scarf, and it helps create sustainable business in Africa.
J. Soma water filter ($49) | An elegant, filtering carafe, and it helps fund charity: water projects.
K. Floral stocking ($30 + 15% off today with code BLACK15) | They make stockings now!!
L. Vintage mason jars (price varies) | Who doesn’t love a blue mason jar? Personally, I think the legit vintage ones are preferable to the reissued anniversary ones. Scoop up a few at your local flea market or Craigslist, and fill them with something pretty for a friend!
M. Nesting boxes ($54 for three) | The prettiest boxes for storing away less-than-pretty things!
Psst: past colorful gift guides if you need extra inspiration…
2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010