Monday, December 30, 2013

Ring in the new year

Whether you plan to party it up until three am like this 1950s couple or have a quiet night in, we hope you have a wonderful night with family, friends, and maybe a little bubbly! 

We wanted to share just a few of our own New Year's resolutions this year.

Elizabeth says:

1. Organize, print, and put in albums our photos. 

2. Streamline the music situation in our house, we have iphones/ipods and use spotify so need to tie them all together.

3. Get hiking – both kids have big enough legs that we want to get out and take advantage of all the coast, country and castles that Northumberland has.

Sona says:

1. Get back to cloth diapers. With our first child we cloth diapered 80 percent of the time. With our second, it dropped to more like 50 percent. With this baby, we've maybe done 20 percent cloth. This year I'd like to get back up there to the 80 percent mark. I mean, we have all this cloth... might as well use it!

2. Take my vitamins. I'm so good about making sure my kids take their vitamins, but I take mine about once a week or bi-weekly. 

3. I was supposed to have more??  Elizabeth's list has made me feel like a slacker. I better re-evaluate my list! The photo organizing one is good... and the music organizing... and the hiking... 

What are your New Year's resolutions this year? Do you have the same resolutions every year or do switch it up? 

And hey, if your New Year's resolution is to have your holiday cards out earlier, you still have time to order up a fun New Year's card like this one or customize any of our photo cards to make that perfect New Year's card to ring in 2014.

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

For some it's Black Friday. Others, the first snowfall. For us, it doesn't feel like Christmas until we have seen Santa.

We start seriously early in our house. It's completely normal to watch a Christmas movie, or listen to Christmas songs from November 1st. The tree was up and the house decorated by Dec 1st. But for some reason, it's just not Christmas until we've seen the man in red.

We have done a few different trips. My favorite is going to Centre Parcs at the end of November and having the weekend away in a lodge. You can hire bikes, go swimming, and all sorts of sporting activities. Rebecca took a pony ride to the Elves workshop where she got to meet Santa. Although that is really early, I figure since we don't have the time off over Thanksgiving to relax with family, that seems a nice way to kick off the holiday season.

This year, we went to Wallington Hall. We found Santa's sleigh and Reindeer statues on the lawn!

Test driving Santa's Sleigh

Rudolph outside the clock tower

There were a lot of positives with this.

1)  It's local and we go there a lot so the kids are comfortable there.

2)  It looked gorgeous all decorated as only an old stately home could.

3)  We have been to other special events there like the Queens Jubilee so it's nice to be there at Christmas.

4)  It was cheap (only 8 pounds to see Santa).

5)  They had a lot of activities on like cookie decorating and carol singers.

Cookie decorating in the old fashioned kitchen

But most importantly, we saw the real Santa! I walked out of our visit and told the lady on the door in my most embarrassing American voice, "that was totally the real Santa!" I don't know who was more excited, us or the kids!?

The kids talking to Santa

Merry Christmas, Santa!

Yes these events can be gimmicky, and yes, they can be expensive, but when the magic of the day is fading and the kids are asleep in the car, I do think these are love and life moments to cherish as they won't be little for long. We'd love to hear your traditions! Do you do a Polar Express? Annual trip to the mall to get your photo with Santa? Please share your stories and photos with us!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Say cheese

I am always so impressed with those who have already ordered, received, and even sent out their holiday card by December 1st. I planned to at least have my card designed and off to the printer by the time we headed west for Thanksgiving this year. But now on failed photo attempt number three, still no card. Shame on me right? Of all people, I should be ahead of the game on this. Two years ago, I blogged with "tips for taking the family photo." You can see more on that here. This year, try as I might to get a photo of my three kids, I am just not having a lot of success. 

Photo shoot number 1 went something like this:

That's OK, we'll get one in the snow when we are home for Thanksgiving. And voila, I give you photo shoot number 2:

Why does is seem like someone is always crying? Oh right, because they are. At least we managed to have some sledding fun!

And lastly, photo shoot number 3. This one has me going back to look at some of the shots from photo shoot number 1 thinking maybe these are good enough.

Do you have any tips for getting all of your children to look at the camera and smile? If yes, could you please share them with the rest of us? And if you are like me and still struggling to get that perfect or even halfway decent shot, this is to let you know that you. are. not. alone. 

It was so cold on that last day that as we were getting back to the car, my five-year old said to me, "Mom, I wish it was summer." And that has me thinking she might just be on to something that possibly all of you organized people already know. Take the shot in the summer. Or better yet, hire a professional... in August! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving thanks

We wanted to take a moment this week to say thank you.

Elizabeth is thankful for
• The Chenango Bridge Fire Department for saving most of my parent's house :)
• Good health (mostly) of my family and friends
• Two little darlings who keep me smiling

Sona is thankful for
• A house full of wild, loud, happy kids and dogs
• Long peaceful and quiet runs around the lake
• A warm fire and hot cocoa after a trip (or 10) down the sledding hill

And we want to thank YOU—our customers, our friends, our family who make it possible for us to continue to create and do what we love!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!

Elizabeth & Sona

Monday, November 25, 2013

Don't forget the flip side!

We want to take a minute to remind you about the back side of your holiday card. Love and Life Cards designers make sure your card has a personal touch on both the front and reverse of your card. Check out our pre-designed backers below or create your own custom message, photo, or both, on the back of your Love and Life card design! 



Three Boxes

Two Boxes


And don't forget, any design on the back of your Love and Life card is included in your card price at no extra charge!

Monday, November 18, 2013

One card, three (or four) ways

Have you ever looked at a holiday card designs and thought, "I like that design, but wish I could have it in a different color," or "I wish I could just change the format to fit my photo."  Well, you can! Our Love and Life Cards designers are happy to make any changes to our designs to make sure that your card is the perfect card to reflect your family this holiday season.

This option is where we began with last year's card for one absolutely gorgeous family.

Then we tried something a little different because of the orientation of the original photo. We ended up with this. Nice... but maybe too busy for this particular photo.

Getting closer this time around, but still not quite there.

And one little tweak and we have a winner!

When you place your order, your online preview is just that, a preview. We send and electronic proof via email of every order before sending it to the printer. So go ahead and place your order with confidence. Specify any changes you'd like to make in the comment section and you will receive an email from one of our designers who will work with you to make sure that your card is just right.

Happy card making! 

Monday, November 4, 2013

These are a few of our favorite cards

We are having a lot of fun this year designing away and are just loving this holiday season at Love and Life Cards! We want to share a few of our favorite designs. We hope these get your creative juices flowing and we can't wait to hear from you to get started creating your 2013 holiday card!
Classic Snowflake

Holiday Hope

Merry Type

Ornamental Doodle

Twinkle Lights

Monday, October 28, 2013

Holiday 2013 at love and life cards!


We love this time of year at Love and Life Cards! Some of you who are much more organized than we are, have already contacted us about your holiday cards or even placed your order! How fun for us! We want to offer all of our Love and Life family and friends a 20% discount this season. Simply pick out your design in our holiday photo card line here and enter the code LALH at checkout to receive 20% off of any non-custom order until November 30th.

And don't forget, if you don't see exactly what you're looking for, contact our design team through to create your own unique custom design at our regular low custom prices.

Monday, October 21, 2013

And the swim goes on

Apologies for not writing an update on Rebecca's swimming career, but to be honest, I didn't think anyone would be interested. After quite a few enquiries from friends, I thought I'd do a follow up post. 

In August I blogged about Rebecca's fear of the water, in the following weeks she received her first two badges. I haven't been worried about it as everyone said it will be just like her reading. Slow progress then it's as if someone flicks a switch and they are off and running. Our turning point came on our summer vacation to my parents house where we spent about ten days straight in their pool. Rebecca enjoyed being the big sister, showing her little brother how it is done (even though she couldn't actually swim herself yet).

Full of smiles to get wet!

About three days in, and lots of practice later, she cracked it. Proper underwater, legs kicking, no hands, swimming! I guess a few things have come to mind since...

1) Thanks Dad for buying Mom the pool heater as we all loved the warm water! Best birthday present ever!

2) It's amazing what your children can accomplish when you actually take the time out to teach them (but we'll save that parental guilt thing for another blog).

3) Watch out for my second born...I think I'll have a whole new set of challenges. :)

Loving life!

Any of your little people nervous to swim? Maybe they were born fish? We'd love to hear your experience!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall running inspiration

Back in August, I started training for a half marathon. Then I got sick. And then stressed. Why am I putting this pressure on myself, I asked? So I quit. But then a few weeks went by and I was healthy again. On a whim I went ahead and signed up for the race. So now the race is less than a week away and I am so glad I'm training. So here are the top five reasons I run.

5. Fall: training in September and October in New England—the leaves, cool mornings and sunny afternoons—the best.

4. Time: hitting the pavement solo is the only time I really get to be alone with my thoughts these days.

3. Friends: looking forward to long run days when I meet up with a friend to run. Two hours of running flies by when you are in good company.

2. Energy: running on a regular schedule, even just three days a week, boosts my energy all day every day.

1. De-stress: even though initially I was stressed about the race, there is nothing like a good run to clear the mind.

Worry less. Run more. Enough said. 

Has anyone else out there been running? Why do you run? 

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Nesting?

My office after photo - the before is unpostable

Most Mothers to be experience that point in their pregnancy where they start to "Nest". If reorganizing kitchen cupboards at 2 am is anything to go by then I certainly did! But I haven't found anything to explain the same type of stress/panic/must sort out feeling that I seem to get at this time of year. Yesterday was the breaking point for me, so rather than go for a run to get rid of the stress, my office was the long overdue target for a clear out. It's not often that I get a chunk of time like yesterday, but with a beautiful Indian summer day, the kids were thrilled to get kicked out into the backyard for some serious playtime! Three bags of rubbish and a few too many hours later, I am now blogging from the comfort of a little bit of organized, work space heaven.

Funnily enough, while I was doing this, I received an email from Home Storage Solutions with their October De-clutter Calendar and thought I must not be the only one! As we are loving the free printable charts these days, here is a copy of the "15 minutes a day challenge".  (download it for yourself here.) I thought whilst feeling inspired, I'd give it a try.

Please let us know if there are any organizational challenges you face that you want Love and Life to help you solve!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Make your afternoons a delight with this free printable

This is our third week in a row of free printable routine charts. We promise to move on to new and exciting topics next week, but we thought we would finish up the month of September with one more routine chart to get this school year off to a smooth start! Besides, we have heard from a few of you that these charts are helping and we have also had a few requests for additional charts. Namely, the Afternoon chart below.

Please visit Love and Life Cards on Pinterest here to download and print this Love and Life Cards Afternoon Routine chart!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bedtime routine free printable

Last week's morning routine printable seemed to help out around our house and we heard from a few of you that a cute bedtime routine would also be good to keep handy. 

So... here it is!

Please visit Love and Life Cards on Pinterest here to download and print our bedtime routine chart. 

We also did a quick bonus "boy" or unisex version of the morning routine chart since we heard that some boys didn't like the little pink shirt as the "get dressed" icon. 

You can grab this version of the Morning Routine chart on Pinterest here.

Let us know if there are any other charts we can design for you that might make the days and nights run more smoothly!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Morning routine - free printable!

We are settling into this school routine now that my oldest is a few weeks into kindergarten and my middle daughter has finally started preschool. But with getting one on the bus before 8:00 a.m. and the rest of us out the door before 9:00, the morning can get a little, well... hectic. 

I decided to go searching around the internet for a morning routine chart that would help us all get our act together. I found some great ideas on all kinds of sites and free printables on iheartorganizing 

Super cute, right? I thought so too. This probably would have worked for us, but there were a couple of routine items that I wanted to change and I'll admit it... I just wanted to give it a little Love and Life style!

So I came up with this little chart 

Hopefully this will help to get us all to school on time. Please feel free to download the chart from Pinterest here and drop us a line if it helps your mornings run a little more smoothly!

Monday, September 9, 2013

What's in your lunch box?

This back to school thing has be obsessing over what I'm putting in my kid's lunch boxes. I did pack lunch for my preschooler last year, but I'm trying to spice it up a little this year making lunches that are healthier and hopefully more fun. At home we eat A LOT of peanut butter, but since our school (and most these days) is nut free, it becomes a little bit more challenging to find healthy foods that are easy to pack and that my children will actually eat.

The Simple As That blog has some fabulous ideas for school lunches

Smart School House has some good ideas for lunches including some easy substitutions to make meals all kids love just a little bit healthier

I have also found tons of inspiration from 100 days of real food like this delicious looking heart-shaped pancake sandwich... yum!

So now that I've found some inspiration for what food to prepare, what about all the stuff? There are so many containers, boxes, bags, ice packs, vegetable cutters, you name it out there right now. How do I pick which ones I need? Do I really need the fancy container? What about the cut out shapes? Can't I just raid the cookie cutters I already have rather than buy special ones? So what if my kid comes to school with a sandwich shaped like a gingerbread man all year, right?

I decided to go with the ziplock 3-compartment divided containers. I found these at Target in a pack of 2 for $5 so if it doesn't work out, no big loss. So far I have used the cookie cutters I already have which do include one large heart and many assorted sizes of stars. I may be inspired to branch out to other shapes as the year progresses. I have noticed that my 3-year-old who usually takes one bite of a sandwich and announces that she is done, will amazingly eat every bit of a sandwich if I cut it into a heart. Who knew? 

So now what I'd really like to know is, do you veteran school lunch makers have any words of wisdom for me? Great ideas for lunch?  Products you just can't live without? 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The love and life annual meeting

It has become a bit of a tradition over the past few years to hold our Love and Life Cards annual meeting over Labor Day weekend. This year we brought the team together again to do some relaxing and a bit of card talk.

We started the weekend out by gathering the team for an inspirational presentation. 

We did manage to get to the beach for a little team building exercise despite the rain.

The whole team worked tirelessly.

And of course the youngest member of the team was the MVP despite her rather outdated wardrobe. 

The Love and Life team is feeling recharged and ready to gear up for the upcoming holiday season. We hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend as well!