Author Archives: jandrlik

Our Family Yearbook

Now that H is one-year-old, I decided to pull all of the photos that we had taken of him over the first year and put them into a book.


I used to be a big scrapbooker. I would probably still be a big scrapbooker if I had the time, but something had to go once we got busy with our little guy. Now, instead of doing a traditional scrapbook with decals, letters, and all of the time that goes into putting them together, I put together digital books on

Inside of Yearbook

It still takes a bit of time, but it is significantly less than I used to spend on scrapbooks and just as rewarding. And I love that you can choose from hundreds of different themes. I used chalkboard chic theme, which looks like chalk on a chalkboard, but also has a vintage flair.

Putting together the book takes even less time if you keep on top of uploading your photos. I try to upload photos to the site every month. Take it one step further, and create those pages while the photos are fresh in your mind and it will take you less time in the end.

I also love that over the years all of the books will match and serve as an anthology, plus they’ll look nice on my shelf because they’re uniform.

We took so many photos the first year that we ended up doing two books: 0-6 months and 7-12 months.

How do you keep and share memories of your family?

Elf on a Shelf Ideas

We recently welcomed a new member to our family. Buddy, the Elf. He made his appearance the other day on our mantle and Harrison immediately welcomed him by waving to him.

Although H is a bit young for all that can go into Elf on a Shelf, we have started moving him around to different areas of the house. But I can’t wait until he’s a bit older and we can really get into Buddy doing some funny things.

Here are some of my favorite ideas pulled from around the Internet:

Elf on a Shelf

What fun things do you do with your Elf on a Shelf?

12 Days of Christmas

I love my mom! Not only because she is so caring and giving, but because she is creative too and has inspired me since I was a little girl. She was the first person to show me Martha Stewart Living, where I would later go on to work, and have me recreate Halloween and Christmas decorations from the pages of that magazine for my childhood home.

12 Days of Christmas

It is hard with her being in Nebraska and us being in Connecticut, especially now that we have H. We Skype, talk on the phone all the time, and of course being my mom, we get endless amounts of care packages (most of them are now addressed to H, not me).

For Christmas, she already bought him a beautiful craft table and chairs from Pottery Barn Kids, but she also decided to surprise us with 12 days of gifts. The first package arrived with a note and five gifts (numbered from 12-8) with the promise of another package coming soon. Some of the gifts have included an Elmo’s World Holiday DVD, a sweater vest, and a Polo shirt.

Each morning H gets to wake up, have breakfast, and open another gift. He lights up every time we start to tear the paper and we call Grandma after we open each gift to let her know what he thinks. Although we’re not close by, it makes us feel a bit closer to her this time of year, and that is a gift in itself. Thank you mom and grandma!

Christmas Presents for the Whole Family

With H being as young as he is, he doesn’t quite understand Santa and where all of these gifts come from or why.

So one tradition I’ve started is a family gift. It’s something the three of us can enjoy together or something similar for each of us. I like the tradition so much that I think I’ll keep it going even when H gets a little older.

In many cases, this is a gift you can also open on Christmas Eve for those impatient kiddos.

I like to give new pajamas for the whole family, or cozy slippers (that’s what I’m doing this year).


The men’s and women’s slippers are from J.Crew and the dog slippers are from Garnet Hill.

Some other ideas include:

A movie night basket (or you could also wrap it in a big popcorn bowl) – this could include a holiday-themed movie, popcorn, movie candy, and a snuggly blanket.

All the fixings for breakfast – pull together your favorite pancake mix, chocolate chips, a whisk, a big bowl, oranges for freshly squeezed juice, placemats… get creative. Everyone can chip in on Christmas morning and make a yummy breakfast together.

A goodnight gift box – this could include pjs, eye masks for everyone, a family book you can read before bedtime, and stuffed animals for the little ones to snuggle up with.

An adventure kit – if your family is big into the great outdoors, this is a fun idea. Pull together everything you need to go on a hike, or a long bike ride, or a treasure hunt.

What other family gifts have you given in the past?

Stocking Stuffers for Little Ones

I don’t know about you, but I love opening stocking stuffers, but find it to be so hard to buy them – especially when it comes to H.

He’s too young for candy or chocolate, he can’t have anything that is too small (for fear of it being a choking hazard), and big toys don’t fit in his stocking, so they’re technically not a stocking stuffer. So with a lot of thought, here are some ideas I came up with for H.

Stocking Stuffers

Puffs – these are like candy for babies, H eats them up every time.

LeapFrog LeapReader Junior - H actually already has this, but loves it and it’s such a great tool to help little ones read.

Small books – buy books to go with the LeapFrog LeapReader Junior or board books. Better yet, make a photo book at Pinhole Press for your little one.

DVD – that is if you allow your child to watch TV or movies at this stage in the game.

Toy cars – H loves this Go Car, and it’s nice and easy to push around on any surface.

Crayons and coloring books – any and all. Find coloring books that suit your child’s interests and for the crayons, JUMBO is key for small fingers.

Finger paint, art smock, and paper – I went with Crayola because it’s washable and inexpensive.

Flash cards - I love these animal cards from the shop Saffles. They’re a downloadable file so you have to print them yourself, but they’re so cute and you get the files right away.

Bubbles – any kind of bubbles, a bubble gun or buy different wants to make it more interesting.

H’s Favorite Things: 11-13 Months

H turned one! It’s hard to believe a whole year and then some has gone by. He is learning new things and constantly exploring so his favorite toys and books have definitely changed along with him.

Here are some of the things he can’t get enough of…

11-13 Favorites

Fisher Price’s Lil’ Zoomer car (although H has ditched the rattle and just pushes the car on top to make it go)

We set this Baby Bowling set up and H knocks it down, sometimes even with the bowling balls. Either way, he loves it. And how cute are the alligator pins?

Yep, we have a walker on our hands and he loves scooting around with confidence with this V-Tech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker.

Anything imaginative is what H is into these days and this Fun Years My Workbench that his Aunt Allene gave him fits the bill to a T.

Anything that makes music, like this Little Tikes Piano, is right up H’s alley. He loves listening to, dancing to, and making music.

And in line with the workbench, H loves playing with this Fisher Price Little People Barn. It makes fun noises and has definitely fed into his love of animals. But no pets yet!

Not Going Crazy for the Holidays

So H is at the age where he is starting to get really excited about all Christmas entails including Santa, lights, the Christmas tree, and presents.

But before he is too knowledgable about this holiday and all that comes with it, my husband and I decided to set some ground rules in terms of presents now and for the future.

He will inevitably get several presents from his grandparents, and there isn’t too much I can do to control that. But from us, we have full control. A former co-worker of mine at Martha Stewart had a great idea. Every year she gives her kids something to wear, something to read, and something to play with. Three gifts from the parents and then a bigger present from Santa.

I’m excited to start this tradition this year both because I think it’s a good mix, it will teach H that this holiday isn’t all about presents, and it will be a good precedent to set for years to come.

Here is what we’re giving him this year:

Knuffle Bunny Books

He loves the first Knuffle Bunny book by Mo Willems so we’re getting him the other two to complete the series.

new balance sneakersHe’s all set on clothes, but he is quickly outgrowing his sneakers, so we’re getting him a new pair.

executive-nod-chair-redAnd finally, for the bigger gift, we’re getting him this comfy chair with his name on it.

Did I Mention We Moved?

Not the site, but my family and I moved. Sadly, after 10+ years in the city, we made the big move to the burbs and now have a house in Connecticut.


Here is a photo of the house. H is so happy with all of his new-found space that he has even started taking his first steps.

With that said, I will be working on a few big home-improvement projects over the next several weeks (and maybe even months) that I will be posting about, but I will also be trying to bring you the same crafty and mommy-inspired posts I always do as often as I can.

And don’t think I haven’t forgotten about my big announcement (note: this is not it). I plan to have it released by Christmas so stay tuned.

Choosing the Right Christmas Card

Every year we send a holiday card in early December and every year I start looking at sites and catalogs well in advance (think October).

Holiday Cards

Since we got married we have done a photo card every year, and it’s even more important now that we have Harrison. Some of my favorite places to shop are Minted, Pinhole Press, Tiny Prints, Celebrations, and Paperless Post.

1. Set a budget. Cards, postage, etc. add up fast. Set a budget for what you’d like to spend before you shop.

2. Plan ahead. There are so many options (from photo cards, to e-cards, to traditional cards), it is a good idea to start your search early. Also, decide whether you’re going to do a photo card or not and what photo you want to use or if you want to have it specially shot. We shoot ours, usually over Thanksgiving, with our family photographer and friend Katie Robertson. And I always have outfits, a location, and theme if necessary planned ahead of time so it’s quick and easy the day of.

3. Put your list together and edit. Put everyone on your list, and then go through and edit. This will play a big part in your budget as well.

4. Order a few extras. This goes for cards and envelopes. Who doesn’t mess up at least one envelope? Check to see if the company you’re ordering from offers extra envelopes for free, every bit counts.

5. Set aside designated card stuffing and addressing time. Grab a glass (or bottle) of wine and your hubby and stuff, address, lick, and close those envelopes. It will go a lot faster if you do it together, and what isn’t better with some wine?

This year, I’m considering doing a card from Paperless Post or Celebrations to save some money. What are you doing this holiday season?

Tackling the First Haircut

The day had finally come! It was time for H’s first haircut.

haircut 1

Looking at this photo, he was in definite need of a haircut and a nap.

Deciding on a style for your little one is a big responsibility. Sure, it may not take the same priority as let’s say feeding him or nurturing him, but it is something that will stick with him for the rest of his life. So I did not take the first haircut lightly.

haircut 2H has very curly hair, which he got from his dad, and for which I have no idea how to take care of. It had started to get long enough that it was forming knots, which I would painstakingly comb out after every bath (not fun for either H or I).

So I felt it was time to take him for his first haircut. I was tempted to trim it myself, but I have seen some of those outcomes on other children, and I did not want that fate to fall upon my little one. So I made an appointment at a kids-only salon called Cozy Cuts on the Upper Westside.

haircut 3

It was adorable! He got to pick his own chair, he chose the red jeep, they had a bunch of fun distractions such as bubbles, DVDs, video games for older kids, and toys galore. The stylist was fabulous and really knew her stuff.

final haircut

It was just a trim (I’m not quite ready to lose those curls yet), but it was a great experience for both H and I. The best piece of advice I can give is to stay calm yourself, so your little one also stays as calm as possible, and to take the extra time to find a salon that specializes in kids.