...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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I’ve been meaning to create family photo books for a while now. I held off as long as I did because I was waiting for the perfect photo book to come along. I really didn’t want the thick albums of yesteryear with their photo pockets. I’m horrible at printing out photos. Horrible. Not to mention, traditional bulky albums take up a lot of space – space we don’t have. It saddened me to know the photos of our life were stuck in limbo on our laptop and phones. Surely there was a tangible yet beautiful way to share family photos.

Enter Artifact Uprising. The company offers a variety of photo products you can hold in your hand: photo books (hardcover and softcover), calendars, postcards, prints, etc. It doesn’t sound all that different from any other company offering similar products but Artifact Uprising focuses on design-worthy aesthetics and eco-friendly materials. Photo book pages are made of 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper and wood items are handcrafted from local, fallen beetle pine – versus healthy trees. The commitment to quality along with the inspiring back story are what set this company apart from the rest of the pack.

“We believe that doing good is more important than doing well – and that kindness makes the world right. We believe in travel and the things you can learn from getting lost. And we believe the best lessons come from the listening. We try to laugh when light is needed and persist when the path requires it. We love wide open spaces and campfires and the kind of quiet that allows you to hear the snow crunching below your feet. We believe in those who wake up every day to choose joy. And we believe in the underdog. We believe in always remembering where you came from. We believe each of us will – in time – do something really, really nice for the world.” – Jenna Walker, CEO & co-founder of Artifact Uprising

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So, yeah, choosing Artifact Uprising was a no-brainer. I sat down one afternoon while the boys were at school and Mabrey was napping and created nine softcover photo books in the 5.5″ x 5.5″ size. They candidly document the last three years of our life. Most of the photos are from my instagram account but I downloaded a few from our computer as well. I didn’t include every photo from my instagram feed – only the ones that were family-oriented. I chose mostly nature-themed photos as cover photos so the books would look pretty on display. They. are. gorgeous.

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The day the books arrived I tossed them in a bowl on the coffee table and immediately the kids were flipping through them. They are the perfect size for little hands. To say we LOVE them is an understatement.

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I can’t believe how one photo can spark a memory and suddenly we’re talking about “that one time…” They are such great conversation starters for kids. Mabrey especially enjoys seeing pictures of people she knows in a book. “Dat’s ME!” She thinks they’re legit books and we’re all famous ;)

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One softcover book runs $16.99 and would make a special gift for a family member or friend. Mine are in chronological order but you can create “themed” books, too. A book that tells the story of a child from newborn to graduation would be great for a graduation party. A book dedicated to a family vacation could be fun. Steve and I have even talked about creating a book that documents our home’s renovation.

How do you display family photos at home? We have a gallery wall plus these new photo books and we also stream our computer photos on to the TV (via Apple TV) on the weekends when we have guests or are working on a project. The kids love seeing themselves on TV. #mininarcissists

*I love Artifact Uprising‘s mission so much that I contacted them about becoming an affiliate soon after our photo books arrived. They agreed! While I purchased the photo books shown above on my own with no special discount, I do earn commission on any orders placed via affiliate links. This post was NOT sponsored and Artifact Uprising didn’t request a post. I just love sharing good stuff. Thanks for your continued support!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

09.12.14 / Made Me Smile

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So last week I mentioned we didn’t own a cat. Then, in a strange turn of events, there was a kitten in our house the very next day. It’s a long story. I’ll share it next week. I know I’m not the first human to ever own a cat but when you’ve labeled yourself “not a cat person” for 35+ years and then all of a sudden there’s a kitten in your lap, it’s kinda a big deal. Life is weird like that. Anyway, we’ve been having fun with the newest addition to our family. Lots of cuddles and smiles this week.

More smile-worthy links…

*Textile artist, Maryanne Moodie, shared her home tour on etsy. I loved seeing how she mixes her weavings into her décor.

*Renovation inspiration.

*Hello, my name is Dana, and I am a house stalkerIt looks like I’m in good company. Search the hashtag #housestalker on instagram for more stalkers’ finds.

*An introduction for children (or adults) to modern houses and their architects. (Thanks for the heads up, Heather!)

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*She’s baaaaa-aaaaaack. Genevieve Gorder launched a new website and magazine app. I hear she has a spread in HGTV magazine, too. I’ve always loved her so it makes me happy to see her doing well.

*Ikea’s version of a rock climbing wall.

*I couldn’t help but think of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road when I posted this week’s giveaway. Many of you bibliophiles made the connection as well.

Happy weekend! I hope you get a chance to curl up with a good book in your favorite reading spot.

images: 1) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 2) Genevieve Gorder

Have you heard of Indiegogo? I was recently introduced to the global crowd-funding platform which is democratizing the way people raise funds for projects. If you’re an entrepreneur or a do-gooder, you can present your idea, product or cause to the public for funding. Or, if you’re a potential supporter, you can browse all kinds of campaigns and make monetary contributions to the products and ideas you’d like to see through to fruition. Basically, it’s a simple way to make ideas happen. Sounds pretty cool, right?

One particular campaign driven by Indiegogo caught my attention. Meet JIBO, the world’s first family robot. JIBO can take pictures, vocalize electronic messages, read bedtime stories, welcome you home, order takeout and so much more. Essentially, the robot acts as your family’s personal assistant. It’s been dubbed the “robot with a little humanity.” If it sounds like a product worth backing, you can contribute as little as $10 or go all out and pre-order your own JIBO!

After watching the JIBO campaign video, I couldn’t help but think of The Jetsons‘ Rosie, The Transformers‘ Bumblebee, Small Wonder‘s V.I.C.I., Her‘s Samantha and Apple’s Siri. Obviously, we humans have been thinking about the concept of a family / home / humanistic robot for a while. What should it be able to do? To what extent should it interact with us? Should it be personified as “he” or “she” or not at all?

I showed JIBO to Steve and, of course, (as an engineer) he finds the idea of a family robot fascinating. He says the human-robot relationship is inevitable. I have mixed feelings. I do find humanistic robots interesting (this TED talk on the subject is intriguing) but, honestly, I’m a little weirded out by the idea of them, too. I mean, they aren’t real. We’re just starting to see what happens when human-technology relationships replace human-human relationships. But I’ve never been the first to jump at new technological advances either. (I clung to my flip phone up until I was pregnant with Mabrey. Steve forced me to upgrade when only a few wires were holding the two halves of my phone together. I started texting just last year!)

Who knows? Maybe family robots will be commonplace in a few decades. Maybe sooner.

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I will say JIBO is pretty cute…for a robot ;) FYI – That image is a mock-up.

Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on family robots. Yay or nay? Won’t it be fun to look back at this post and the commentary twenty years from now? If they still exist, that is.

P.S. – Check out a few more home technology-related campaigns currently running on Indiegogo: the TouchPico turns any surface into a projector and Reemo allows you to control your world with gestures. Steve wants to try them both.

*This post sponsored in part by Indiegogo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!

media: 1) JIBO 2) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

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My kids are OBSESSED with Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a daily read around here. I credit the comic strip with advancing Everett’s reading skills over the summer. It has prompted a lot of good questions from the kids, too. (“Mom, what does ‘pizzazz’ mean?”) Even though Calvin and Hobbes was a favorite of Steve’s when he was little, he never pushed it onto the kids. It just sorta happened. I think it was Layne who first chose a Calvin and Hobbes book at the library and it was love at first sight read.

So when I was brainstorming ideas for a blank sliver of wall next to the boys’ closet, a DIY mural of Calvin and Hobbes was the first thing that came to mind. Luckily, everyone else thought it was a cool idea, too.

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We searched high and low for an image that would fit the narrow wall space. We settled on a simple image of Calvin and Hobbes standing next to each other. Steve printed the image onto a transparency at work. (Shhhh, don’t tell.)

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We used a projector to project the image onto the wall. The projector is the same one we used for a similar project in our previous house. We borrowed it from Steve’s office and they told us to keep it because they had no use for it. I have no idea how the projector made the cut and managed to stay in the “keep” pile when we downsized. In fact, I thought we had given it away but Steve found it in the attic space above the garage last week.

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Steve traced an outline of the image onto the wall with a pencil. The image was a tad too wide. We didn’t want the bedroom door to obscure Calvin when opened. So after tracing Hobbes, Steve repositioned the transparency to move Calvin a little closer to Hobbes. Then he traced Calvin.

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Using paint we already had on hand (Clark + Kensington primer + paint in one, color-matched to Ace Paint color “besalt” D36-7 in a flat finish) and a small paint brush, Steve filled in the lines. It took two coats to get adequate coverage.

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The matte charcoal paint worked perfectly. The end result is similar to what you would find in print. Except it’s life-sized and on a wall.

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The area under the basketball hoop no longer feels like a void and the mural should hold up to free throws.

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For reference, here’s the same view with the bedroom door open.

Layne and Everett were away at their grandparents’ house when Steve painted the mural. Even though we had talked with them about creating a mural, the boys had no idea it was happening while they were away. They were so surprised (and excited!) to discover it when they came home. Everett talks to Calvin and Hobbes. It’s hilarious. And ironic. And awesome.

The best thing about the mural (other than it being FREE!) is that it’s easily “erased” with a coat or two of paint should the boys tire of it. But seeing as how their dad is still a fan after 25+ years, I don’t think Calvin and Hobbes are going anywhere.

Fun fact: Did you know Bill Watterson first created the popular comic strip characters in his spare time when not working at an advertising job he detested? The mischievous first grader and his tiger sidekick were originally side characters in a strip that was rejected by a syndicate.

How do you feel about wall murals? Would you consider painting your child(ren)’s favorite character on a wall? I would never agree to a character-themed mural on a wall in a main living area but when done in a kid’s space and in a simple, non-garish design, I think it’s harmless fun.

FYI – If you’re interested in DIYing a wall mural but don’t own a projector, try borrowing one from a local business, school, library or church.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking