How To Corral 365 Days of iPhone Photos And Be The Family Hero.

I think we can all agree that the abundance of photos that live on our phones is a major source of anxiety. What if they disappear? What if I can never find the ones that mean something to me buried in the abyss? How the f*ck do I organize them so I can access specific memories as the years go by- I mean, Alexa's rehearsal dinner could be just 18 short years away, gotta start thinking about the requisite photo montage video!

There is ONE thing I do annually (this started in 2012, so we are going on the 6th book this year) for our family to keep me from having an all-out photo induced panic every single time I accidentally look at the insane number of images that live in my Photos app. I dread this one thing literally for an entire year leading up to actually doing it-  but I know that if I don't complete it, I will be so upset with myself for so many years that the 15-20 hours it takes me to execute is a small price to pay.

I create a "Year In Review" photo book on Shutterfly- complete with clever captions and graphic design details- documenting what I like to (mostly) lovingly refer to as "Falik Family Fun Time". 

Here is how it goes down:

*NOTE: DO NOT TRY AND DO THIS DURING THE YEAR THAT YOU ARE DOCUMENTING. YOU WILL WANT TO INCLUDE WAY MORE THAN YOU PROBABLY SHOULD, BECAUSE IN THE MOMENT, IT ALL SEEMS SO IMPORTANT. LET AT LEAST 3 MONTHS GO BY- IT GIVES YOU A BIT MORE PERSPECTIVE, WHICH MAKES THE EDITING PROCESS MUCH EASIER.

1: Sneak onto my husband's phone, and create a shared album called "Falik Family Favorites 2017" (or whatever year just passed) and upload the best 40-50 photos in his camera roll.

2: Download those photos from the Cloud into the Photos application on my laptop.

3: Create Smart Albums for each month of the year (and title them January 2017, February 2017, etc. Nothing clever here- all about simplicity)

4: BI break them up into 3 sittings where I narrow down 4 months of photos at a time into albums titled 2017 SELECTS JAN THRU APRIL, 2017 SELECTS MAY THRU AUG and 2017 SELECTS SEPT THRU DEC.

5: I upload these albums to Shutterfly, using the same naming categories, so the photos are still in 3 groups- it feels MUCH less overwhelming this way. 

6: I go into the Photo Books section and choose to create a book using Custom Path. It is the most labor intensive, yes- but I have tried the Simple Path option where they arrange the photos into pages for you, and it actually ends up taking way more time because inevitably, it is not the way you would have done it. 

7: For size, I always go with 8.5 x 11. There are more modern options now- square, oversized, etc- but since the goal is year-on-year consistency, I stick to the tried and true. Next, pick a style. There are a TON to choose from- it is mind boggling- but in my experience, the more simple you go, the easier it is- so I suggest one of THESE.  Last year, I did Modern White, and the year before, Modern Black. 

8: The photos get batch loaded into the project- starting with SELECTS 2017 JAN THRU APRIL. Month by month, I lay out the photos to chronicle both special occasions and everyday events. At the end of each month, I always put in a collage page (using the template options that Shutterfly provides on the project sidebar) where I can throw any random pictures I want to include but can't figure out a storyline where they fit. Always click the option to "Hide Used" photos- this way, once it is in the project, it no longer stares up at you tempting you to rethink where you placed it.

9: After all the photos are loaded in, the real work begins- writing headlines and captions, and inserting in fun graphic elements to reflect the personality of the year. The text part is where Shutterfly kinda kills me- but I am in too deep, so I just deal. There is no easy way to make sure all your fonts and spacing and sizing and colors are consistent from page to page. Advice here- don't obsess over it. You will make yourself insane. Instead, have fun with the copy- be conversational, include any funny anecdotes that come back to you while looking at the photos, and, if there is a typo or a style slip-up, WHATEVER. (That is big for me to say, guys- so just go with it.) 

10: When I finally feel like I have done my best to corral the most memorable moments, I choose a cover format and insert my favorite photo(s), make sure to write "FALIK FAMILY FUN TIME 2017" on the binding (so, when they sit on a shelf, I can make sure they are in chronological order and the fonts all line up consistently), opt for the upgrades that they get me with EVERY. DAMN. TIME. Glossy hardcover, lay flat pages, yada yada yada- I mean, at this point, why the heck not, right? (Plus, they always have those 40% off coupon codes, so...) And- cue the sweeping orchestral music- ADD IT TO MY CART!

I order 2 copies (so it is one less thing for Alexa and Goldie to fight over when Brian and I kick the bucket)- one goes on display in our family room, the other in storage for safe-keeping. But the beauty of Shutterfly- and why I put up with the many less-than-ideal glitches and overall clunkiness of the site- is that the books are saved in my account and with one click, I can reorder as needed.

My books to date have been between 95-110 pages, and cost around $190 each. This cost includes the upgrade options mentioned above, and small fees here and there for additional sticker embellishments and premium storytelling pages that I think are totally worth it- just adds that extra touch of whimsy and personality that takes the pressure off having to showcase museum-quality photos (because who has those?!) and Pulitzer-worthy prose.  

Anyway- there you have it. Long, I know- but hopefully helpful enough to inspire you to give it a go yourself. Trust me- your family will thank you big time. My girls LOVE flipping through them, and it is so cute to watch Alexa narrate the pre-Goldie years to her little sister, years that I am fairly sure she only remembers through photos.

How do you get the photos off your phone? I would love to know- as would other readers... This is a topic that seems to come up all the time- what to do with all the digital photo clutter! HELP!

39 for 39.

  LOVE Sweatshirt  (similar style) /  Jeans  /  Sneakers

LOVE Sweatshirt (similar style) / Jeans / Sneakers

39 random things I love/feel/know heading into my 39th year of life, in no particular order.

1.     High waist jeans are more flattering, and versatile, than you ever imagined. And, THIS is the best brand to buy.

2.     It is okay that you impulse bought this extravagant pair of statement shoes  because, they are AWESOME and, at this point in your life, they will get worn 4 times a year and as such, last forever.   

3.     If you get cranky with your kids because they are dragging out the bedtime routine, once they do fall asleep, you will feel pretty shitty about yourself.

4.     100 burpees a day is the most efficient workout that you can rarely find an excuse to skip…and once you start, inevitably you are like “ugh, I already need to wash my hair so may as well do some more…”

5.     If you stop drinking by 10pm, no matter how much you drink before that, you will wake up feeling pretty much fine. (Easier said than done, but…)

6.     The best kind of girl friends at this stage in life are the ones who are your constant cheerleaders but also your most brutally honest sounding boards.

7.     THESE will make you feel sane and organized every time you look at them, even if you are a total mess. You can’t have too many.

8.     Flying with 2 young kids is a pain in the ass, but always worth it. The more you do it, the better travelers they become.

9.     If you put a reading nook in your living room, make sure the cushion is removable so said nook can transform into a banquette late night dance parties.

10. You only live once- so opt for the boldest wallpaper option offered, always. 

11.  3 things to always have in your freezer: Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Rice, Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Popsicles, and a giant box of frozen mini tacos from Costco (quick dinner for the kids, easy end-of-the-night tipsy snack for adults.)

12. During off-peak hours, the Metro North train is perhaps the best temporary office space ever. (First runner up- the local library- it makes you feel like a kid again, even if you are sitting there figuring out mortgage payments and filing taxes.)

13. If you don’t like your hands- but you like Instagram- stock up on oversized rings that cover up your fingers. THIS Etsy shop has a plethora of options- obsessed.

14. Lay out your kids’ breakfast place settings night before. Granted it only takes a few seconds but somehow when the morning rush rolls around, it makes you feel totally on top of things.

15. On the topic of breakfast, never be without THESE cereal bowls- 2 of each color is essential.

16. Get THIS coffeemaker, and a subscription to MistoBox. Your mornings will be consistently- and creatively- caffeinated.

17. Lots of products don’t do what they say they do- but collagen peptides deliver. Stock up on THESE. Stick with a scoop or two a day and your hair will look like it did in high school (but better, because, well, keratin.)

18.  Tune out the social media noise, but not the inspiration. In real life- and life in the blogosphere- it is important to be able to differentiate between what annoys you and what energizes you.

19.  Push your kids to be competent in skiing and tennis- even if they fight you. Because how grateful are you that your parents made you stick it out when now, 30 years later, you can keep up with your friends on the slops and the courts.

20.  Dear Evan Hansen is the best Broadway show ever. Ever ever ever.  See it one hundred times if you can.

21. Even if in your head you know your family is complete, you will inevitably question whether or not you want to have just one more kid while you still (presumably) can.

22. At a certain point, even though you give them a hard time about it, you kinda love it when you kids crawl into bed with you at 3am.

23. 3 things to always have in the bar: A giant handle of Tito’s Vodka, small bottles of club soda and 4 limes. (You can keep the limes in the fridge, but just make sure that you have them somewhere in the house.)

24. Being on the older end of the age spectrum in your industry can actually result in a quiet confidence and sense of calm, which is something you never expected.

25. Instagram Stories is the best thing to happen to social media- and THIS “graphic design for dummies” tool is the most priceless way to tell your stories with style.

26. THIS Iro leather jacket is worth every single penny.

27. THIS t-shirt bra is worthy of owning in every color- because open back shirts are amazing, but you going around town sans bra is not. (When you make it to #39, you will see a photo in which said bra is featured.)

28.  Laser hair removal is wayyyy less painful than it used to be, and even when it does hurt, the sting only lasts seconds but the ability to shave less often (or at all!) will last a lifetime.

29. If your kids refuse to take a bath, but you refuse to let them go to bed smelling like feet and cheese, just say the word “BUBBLES!” or “BATH BOMBS!” and consider victory yours.

30.  Paint your front door an unexpected color- and use a Fine Paints of Europe high gloss formula so it glistens even on the cloudiest of days.

31. A robust stash of 1 Liter Poland Spring water bottles is the best investment in staying hydrated- THIS delivery service is indispensable.

32. Write something every day. You will always regret the days that you don’t record some sort of memory- and the 3 minutes it actually takes to scribble down a few sentences is really no big deal.

33.  Organize your damn photos. Until you do, it will keep you up at night. But where to begin???

34. You can never have too many Veronica Beard pieces in your wardrobe- stylish and timeless and just perfect. The most easy go-to's for getting dressed.

35.  In marriage, timing is everything. Knowing when to bite your tongue and when to table a to-do-list related conversation until later is invaluable, and something you are still working to learn.  

36. Let things go. With your friends, with your family, with your work- because your kids notice these things, and it helps them to do the same- any little thing you can do to help thicken their skin is a good thing.

37. You CAN go home again. You may have never thought you would live in the town you grew up in, but times change, people change, and you can’t imagine being happier anywhere else.

38.  Read books. Don’t ever cancel your Book of the Month Club subscription!

39.  As long as there is Botox, SoulCycle, Collagen Peptides, THESE leggings, and that insanely flattering sparkle filter on Instagram, being one year away from 40 ain’t no thang.

 This is the bra mentioned in #27, btw.

This is the bra mentioned in #27, btw.

Donut Grow Up! Goldie Turns 3 and Finally Gets a Birthday Party.

Goldie3-016.jpg

With my girls being 5 days (and four years, but that is irrelevant when it comes to birthday celebrations) apart, Goldie has never gotten a proper birthday celebration. Because I know better than to think she actually would remember eating leftover cake while holding a 4 day old balloon from her big sister's Pinterest-worthy party (you may remember THIS crazy undertaking from a couple years back).

But this year, Alexa requested a gymnastics party at her gym- which is plug & play and couldn't be easier. So, I felt like it was time to roll up my sleeves, procure the email addresses of Goldie's friends' parents, and throw a party in our playroom like I had done for Lex many times before.

Goldie's favorite thing in the world is ballet- but I wanted a more gender-neutral theme. The only thing that Goldie loves equally as much as ballet? A donut. Or, more accurately, many donuts.

Donut Grow Up became the theme- partly because I can't resist a pun, and partly because I couldn't think of an easier way to decorate our basement than blowing up a ton of giant donut floats and calling it a day.

We covered up the toy storage cubbies with donut-covered plastic tablecloths (a trick learned from parties of the past- way less distractions and wayyyy less mess), rented 2 rectangular toddler-height tables and 18 chairs, and otherwise, everything came from Amazon and Etsy (shoppable links in captions in case you ever have a hankering to throw a similar celebration).

A few favorite details are below...

 An inflatable donut- with GOLDIE written across the top using my beloved sparkle stickers- greeted guests in place of a wreath. Oh- and the doormat is always a hit- I got it  here .

An inflatable donut- with GOLDIE written across the top using my beloved sparkle stickers- greeted guests in place of a wreath. Oh- and the doormat is always a hit- I got it here.

 To balance out the actual donuts, we served sliced apples with cream cheese- we whipped a giant block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese from Costco with skim milk to make it all fluffy, and added pastel food coloring, topped with rainbow sprinkles. 

To balance out the actual donuts, we served sliced apples with cream cheese- we whipped a giant block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese from Costco with skim milk to make it all fluffy, and added pastel food coloring, topped with rainbow sprinkles. 

 Throw-away party favors annoy me endlessly- so we affixed $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards to  these insanely inexpensive squishies .

Throw-away party favors annoy me endlessly- so we affixed $5 Dunkin Donuts gift cards to these insanely inexpensive squishies.

 Inflatables procured by the dozen  here , and  these  grouped-to-go donut paper goods made setting the table simple.

Inflatables procured by the dozen here, and these grouped-to-go donut paper goods made setting the table simple.

 You can find ANYTHING on  Etsy , including  this  easy-to-inflate foil balloon wall hanging and a  ballet tutu outfit  with a gold "three" in the front (I got Alexa a "seven" version but she wouldn't wear it, so...)

You can find ANYTHING on Etsy, including this easy-to-inflate foil balloon wall hanging and a ballet tutu outfit with a gold "three" in the front (I got Alexa a "seven" version but she wouldn't wear it, so...)

Bet You Never Knew THIS About Boudoir Photos.

 One of my favorite pics from my crazy cool  Private Portraits  photo shoot experience.

One of my favorite pics from my crazy cool Private Portraits photo shoot experience.

The word "boudoir" makes me feel awkward. Throw the word "photos" after it and omigod, I am on the verge of feeling full-on queasy. In my head- based fully on preconceived notions- the whole concept of taking sultry photos in lingerie you would NEVER wear in real life to give to your significant other is something I could never, in a million years, EVER see myself doing.

Enter one of my close friends who also happens to be an incredible photographer, Jen Goldberg. Jen has taken photos of my family for as long as we have known each other- her work can be seen on various Falik Family holiday cards, giant acrylic prints in my home and, of course, on her website.

A few years ago, Jen mentioned to me that she was starting to do some boudoir photography here and there. A short time later, she was doing wayyyy more than "some"- and opened up Private Portraits, dedicated to boudoir shoots.

Jen has a modern aesthetic, and a sophisticated style to her photography (not to mention a sophisticated clientele). I could not reconcile that with women draped in feather boas pouting towards the camera donning overly painted red lips and perhaps even- GASP- body glitter. 

So I took a look at her work. And I was FLOORED. It was cool and modern and sophisticated and beautiful. And fascinating. Every photo I saw was completely different- but there was one thing every single shot had in common- you could tell that the women in front of the lens felt POWERFUL. 

On a whim (and probably after 3 Tito's on the rocks with a splash of soda), I decided to do it. 

And now, I get it. Completely.

The process may be the coolest part. This shoot is an appointment on your already packed calendar that forces you to think about what you think is sexy about YOU. And, I can tell you, what I find sexy about myself at this moment in my life has nothing to do with lingerie or body glitter or feather boas. Going out on a limb here but- guessing most of you will agree?

Between the booking and the shoot, I pored over Pinterest images, comparing notes with Jen on how we could translate them into something that felt right for me. We had one "official" meeting where she took me through what the shoot would be like (very helpful!) and tips on what to bring- meaningful pieces of jewelry, signature shoes or a favorite old t-shirt, etc. I don't think we uttered the words "pearl thong" or "leather bustier" once.

One week prior, I did a Shopbop order (felt like i had to have these) and a trip to Urban Outfitters. The night before, I packed up 3 giant rolling suitcases of shoes, accessories, favorite tank tops, the neon distressed sweatshirt from this pic, an oversized hat, my signature black blazer and most beloved jean jacket, and then some. 

The morning of, I got my hair blown out, threw on makeup, took a few deep breaths and drove to Jen's studio to get naked. I worried it would feeI a little weird- I mean, this is the house, besides our own, in which family and I probably spend the most time hanging out. But it wasn't weird at all. It was so much fun. 

 We incorporated my favorite products from my makeup bag- and my makeup mirror from my vanity at home- into a few shots.

We incorporated my favorite products from my makeup bag- and my makeup mirror from my vanity at home- into a few shots.

When the proofs came back, I had a giant hardcover coffee table book made with my favorite images.

Not for my husband.

Not as a relic to prove to my girls how I once looked when I am inevitably older, more wrinkled and more paunchy.

The book is a gift to ME. A gift to make sure I always remember the things that made me feel powerful and strong and confident about myself when I was 38 years old, raising 2 young girls, learning to take care of our first home, growing a business and trying desperately to keep my head above water. Many (er, most?) days, I feel like a hot freakin' mess. But on that day- and the days leading up to it- I just felt hot. And for all the right reasons.

Moral of the story? Don't let your preconceived notions of any experience deter you from actually having said experience. Because it may surprise you- and in the process, you will most certainly surprise yourself.

So whaddya think- would you do a shoot in your skivvies? Do tell.
Or, have you already? If so, would love to hear what you thought of your experience...I mean, c'mon, I shared mine...

 

Instantly Improve Your Nightly Bedtime Routine And Go To Sleep Feeling Like Parent of the Year

  THIS  is the best purchase I have made in a long time... Alexa loves the routine we have of doing one entry each night, and I love the #momoftheyear feeling I get (at least for these brief few minutes) each night.

THIS is the best purchase I have made in a long time... Alexa loves the routine we have of doing one entry each night, and I love the #momoftheyear feeling I get (at least for these brief few minutes) each night.

I think one of the best habits we can train ourselves- and our children- to do is keep a journal. Ideally, regularly. But it can be daunting- especially if there is this expectation that every night you should be scrawling pages and pages of deep thoughts and dreams, when, the reality is, by the time I crawl into bed at night, I am WIPED.

As such, the benefit of this journal is three fold:

1- It shortens overly long bedtime routines since each question is just concise enough, and you only do one per night (as opposed to the 5+ stories I get suckered into reading otherwise...)

2- It creates a habit that is easy for both kids and parents to stick with

3- It is a nightly conversation starter- and way to share memorable anecdotes with children over the years that they may have forgotten but you never will

Plus, even if I haven't done one educational-ish activity with Alexa all day, at least we have this 5 minute window just before bed that makes me feel like #momoftheyear.

Basically, there is a simple question that is asked for each day of the year- and over the course of the three year span in which this journal is designed to be used, kids will answer the same questions on each day every year and see how their answers- and handwriting! and attention to detail!- evolve over time. 

It is around $12 on Amazon (or you can get this one which seems to be almost identical, but is available to ship immediately and arrive for Valentine's Day) order it today and thank me later.

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