10 steps to simplify sending out your holiday cards with Tiny Prints

Back when we were kids, specifically in the 90’s, my mother would get christmas cards by the droves! We would have a trash bag filled with cards that we would have to sort through and then choose how long was appropriate for keeping said cards.

More recently, holiday cards have become more personal with photos, or e-cards with their animation and what not.

I for one did not think that I would EVER send out holiday cards. In my mind it was something that older women aka “moms” did. Makes sense that I started sending out cards once I became a mom myself.

So for those of you who are considering sending out Holiday cards, (Birth Announcements, Birthday Invitations and plenty other papered goods) I honestly recommend Tiny Prints.

I was able to partner with Tiny Prints again this year in order to be able to send the BEST Christmas Cards. We got so many compliments on our cards that we received phone calls and texts saying how great they were. It was also great to see our last years cards when we went to go visit a few of our friends over our holiday break!

Tiny Prints allows med to customize my cards with some of the most beautiful and luxurious cards that I have seen out there.

This was the design that we went with this year. It opens in the center and your personal photos are the center focus of this design. You can customize the color of the words and the message inside.

With an easy to use gallery feature you can preview what your card will look like as you search through the site to pick your favorites.

The best part about Tiny Prints to me is the coordinating accessories.

The card selection is great, but one thing that I love is that I could customize every part of this card down to the liner of the envelope!

I chose a one photo option for the liner of my envelope which is a silver shimmer.

You will have to assemble these but it was so easy, I did it while laying in bed one night watching tv.

 

This is what it looked like when you stuff the card into the envelope! Pretty impressive huh?

In addition to the envelope liners we chose to do personalized stamps. If you are going to pay for postage why not make it pretty postage! The final accessory to this holiday card set was the return address label that wrapped towards the back to seal the envelope.

All made super duper easy by Tiny Prints.

So if you want to create your own personalized holiday card or card for any upcoming event as they have paper goods to meet every need – see future post about Gracie’s 3rd Birthday – then check out http://www.tinyprints.com to get started.

Need some tips to get you started ?

Here are 10 steps to simplifying sending out your very own Holiday Cards:

1. Chose a color palette for your family’s attire. When in doubt search Pinterest for some inspiration. The previous years I stuck with Red as an accent because it reminded me of Christmas, but when paying for pictures, I soon realized that I want to use them for more than Christmas or Holiday posts so I went with a color that didn’t overtly scream HOLIDAY!

2. You do not have to do the matchy matchy thing. Gone are the days where you have to stress out over finding the exact same outfit in multiple sizes. Try to pick outfits that compliment each other, versus match each other. Again, you can go to Pinterest for help with this as well.

3. Pick a photographer whose work you love! Now whether you hire someone or you decide to set up your camera with a timer on it, make sure that its a finished product that you love. That way when you see it printed over and over, you won’t hate it and feel regret that you wasted all of the effort.

Make sure that if you take the pictures yourself that they are of a high quality because nothing is worse than ending up with a blurry card.

4. A way to save money: If you decide to go with a professional photog, look for the times where they are offering mini-sessions. That is when a photographer make pick 2-3 days to book multiple clients back to back, with shorter session times at a reduced rate. You get in, get out and with great pictures that you can then save for your cards later on.

5. Pick a time when your children usually cooperate: preferably after they have been fed or had a nap. We missed the nap window rushing and needless to say, my daughter was NOT the most cooperative towards the end. She refused to stand in grass, walk on sidewalks, wave or smile. I mean really! so in the end, we gave her a cell phone and took that photo you see of use walking away.

6. Do not think you have to pick the perfectly posed photos for your card. Pick the ones that you love and shows the personality of your family. In one of our pictures, you see me holding my uncooperative child having a conversation with my husband while my dress is slightly hiked up — But thats us!

7. Chose Tiny Prints for your Holiday Card. Make sure that you pick a company who will print to the quality that you are paying for. You have spent money and energy on outfits, wrangling your kids and photographers and you do not want a thin, flimsy piece of a card. Quality is best!

8. Make an Excel sheet of your friends and family’s addresses. Nothing worse then scrolling through your phone not having any addresses for the persons that you want to send cards to. If you have your list of addresses and names on hand, it leads to my tip number 8.

9. Take advantage of letting Tiny Prints address the envelopes for you! That means the only thing that you have to do is stuff, place your personalized stamp on it and place in your mailbox out front! It gets no easier than that!

10. Order Early! Yes, I know the holidays have passed, but that just means you can get a really early start on next year’s cards!

 Disclaimer: I was compensated for this post in the form of free product from Tiny Prints in exchange for a blog post. However, photos and thoughts about the experience are all my own. Affiliate links are in this post.

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Twenty/Sixteen

 

Yes.

It is true, that I had not posted a single thing in 2016.

What happened?Life. I know you may have seen a lot of people post about how tough 2016 was for them. And although it appeared that it was all sunshine for me in 2016 – if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, but the reality is 2016 was so emotionally taxing that I could not even get my thoughts together to blog.

Work and Commute to D.C. was stressful in it’s own way. 

My child was entering the terrible twos. 

My sister was randomly taken to the ER (Thank GOD for her angel)

My mother was in the hospital early January (but she is doing just fine now)

My father suffered through his own seasonal sickness. 

My little cousin was murdered on the campus of Morgan State University, while attending school. Finding out at work was a bit taxing – and even though I took not one day off, because I was there I was still expected to do my job and in no way did I feel like dealing with criminals or coworkers- to be honest. No one in my family had ever been killed, not even tragically. We all die of old age. It was a shock. 

My child was officially diagnosed with Asthma (praying she outgrows it)

I had started taking natural hair clients out of my home as a second source of income. and thank you Jesus that I stay booked!

My husband was in prayer constantly about his job with came with its own emotions at home.…. and now we live in Dallas, Texas!———- 

April 2016, in a sudden faith move, my husband came to me and said he felt strongly that he needed to go to the International Pastor’s and Leaders Conference hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in Orlando. I have been a part of my husband’s life long enough to know that if he felt like God was calling him to go somewhere that I need not argue. So in a last minute decision, we decided to go to Orlando with Gracie in tow.

I got there a day after he did because I didn’t have the leave to take off, but I made it just in time. We went to the worship services and workshops and sat in the very back. Much different then the previous year when we were there. Last year we were in the VIP section because my mother was a guest presenter. This time, we went for us!

We sat in the back because we didn’t want Gracie to disturb anyone — yes we were the only ones with our child with us, and usually always the only ones with our child, but we had no other place to take her. We just wanted to be in the room. She was quiet and we got just what we needed. While there, I went to a workshop called Girl Talk with my sisters in the ministry Sarah Jakes-Roberts,  Cora Jakes Coleman and First Lady Serita Jakes.

And while they were preaching about women and our struggles to have it all or have it at all, God spoke to me as clear as day and had a Word for my husband. (Side note: I know some may be asking as they read this how do you know that God is speaking – but lets just say if a thought overtakes you and it is confirmed through prayer and strangers then yep God said it. He will say it more then once.) But in that moment, while sitting there listening to the sermon and reflecting about how God comes through even in the last minute, God told me that my husband would be offered a job exactly where he is now and that it would happen fast and that when it happens, I will have to be obedient and quit my job because it would be tied to my own destiny.

QUIT MY JOB!? My good government job. Thank God for faith!

I shared this with my husband with a bit of hesitation because speaking prophetically is something that is a fortunate gift however, its something that comes with great trepidation.

Well, just as God said – literally the very next day, he was offered a potential opportunity. By the end of the next week he was offered an in person interview. Within the first meeting he was hired. Within two weeks, we packed out entire house into a POD and moved to Dallas, Texas because we KNEW this was what God said would happen.I gave 30 days notice and left my job in faith that I would be where I needed to be. I informed all of my clients that I was moving and closed that chapter. My child was offered free school for the summer from an awesome church and everything was lining up perfect.

Back in January, before the conference, we were driving around Dallas, Texas (as we were secretly in town to be with my mom) we both said, “hmm, we could live here.” Not knowing we were putting in the atmosphere the very thing that would happen within 6 months!My husbands last day at his old job was a Sunday and he was at his new job that Wednesday.He hit the ground running and has not stopped since.

God truly took us from the back of that arena at the International Pastors and Leaders Conference, where we sowed in faith for a change, not knowing that within days my husband would now be a part of the music staff of The Potters House of Dallas.

Our lives have truly been in a whirlwind. I left my job and went to work for the AME Church General Conference which is a highly stressful week of production work.I produced a live television production. Did I mention it was LIVE! Talk about STRESS!!!!!!Trying to keep people on time in a room that holds 10,000 people is hard!

In addition, I again ran Lead on a major Presidential candidate coming to visit the Conference, which requires details I can not really share. But I was able to work with such a great advance team from the Hilary Clinton campaign that it was one of the smoothest yet.

From there, it was job searching. and job searching. and job searching. sigh.So, then my mother was in need of some extra help within her office with a number of projects.As much as I fought the idea of working for her because we truly do not believe in nepotism in the Murphy family, but you MUST earn your stripes, I took the job. Needless to say, it has turned out to be the best thing for me and my family in this transitional season. So for the last six months, we have been adjusting to

a new city

a new house

selling our house

getting our daughter settled in a new school

looking for yet another new school

traveling for work(because my job takes me out of town every other week from Sept – Dec)and for play 

shipping our cars

trading in the hybrid

getting a truck (because everyone in Dallas drives one)

adjusting to multi-generational living aka living with my parents again

joining a new church

trying to find my place in ministry

producing God’s Leading Ladies at The Potters House (talk about a God move)

being a wife

getting a year older

preaching, teaching 

working on freelance projects

taking family vacations 

vision casting

teaching workshops

ordaining 

praying and then some!

I have lived out of suitcases since I moved to Dallas because there was some where I always had to be.

But I made it!and if you have read this far, so have you!

2016! its over.

and I have much more to share with you!

So guess who’s bizzack!2017! here we come!

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A Very Peppa Pig 2nd Birthday

I swore when I was planning Gracia’s 1st Birthday and going ALL OUT that I would NOT be throwing her a 2nd Birthday and beyond. I figured its her very first birthday so we HAVE to do something right? Well here we are a year later and I am throwing my daughter a 2nd Birthday party. Why? you might ask. Well, I justified it because she was seriously sick during her 1st Birthday and I don’t believe she got the chance to really enjoy herself despite her best efforts. Even now, I am binding all illness that she is not sick during this Birthday.Last year, she was into Disney’s Sophia the 1st and this year she is in to Peppa Pig – so much so that she asks for Peppa every single day and night, when she wakes up, when she goes to bed. If it isn’t on, she brings you the remote because she knows that we have taped all episodes on the DVR.I wrestled with a few themes but in the end we knew that this would be a very Peppa Pig Birthday after all. I am not even sure how I came across the information that Peppa Pig, a popular pig cartoon from the UK that comes on Nick Jr. was doing her first US tour, but when I did I was hype because I knew that I could finally take her to something she would love. Not to toot our horns, but as a team of parents, Amos and I had pretty much mastered a good balance of how to keep the toddler entertained, engaged and not crying for too long when she got upset in public. We were more excited than she was since we knew where we were going and she had no clue. 

We get to the Warner theater in Washington, DC on the afternoon of Black Friday. I debated about getting tickets that when I finally decided to purchase, the better seats were in the balcony (or so I thought). We head up to our seats, which had a great view but ZERO leg room. The seats were so close together that my 5’7 self couldn’t even sit down without deeply tucking my legs under. I knew that my 6’3 husband was not going to be able to deal. The family next to me saw my struggle and said “tight fit, huh?” I said “yup, I won’t be able to take this.” and they looked at me leave to make something happen, almost in disbelief. I went to the hostess and told her the issue and asked was there anything that could be done. She told me to hold tight, that there were possibly some tickets in the suites that we could have. We paid for three, but we got two in return and that was fine for the exchange of leg room and Gracia wasn’t going to sit down in a seat anyway.
Needless to say, when she heard the familiar theme song of Peppa Pig, she was so excited!

Unfortunately, my hopes for a sick-free birthday season was not so. She is sick as we speak. But this time its not RSV or double ear infection, its her sinuses. We reluctantly welcomed the nebulizer into our home and he is now called “Mr. Seal”. Day One was a screaming match, but by Day 3, she was a pro. 

She didn’t let any of this damper her spirits though. She was all smiles regardless throughout her Birthday season and since she was born in December, my mother made me promise to always let the baby have a birthday and not smoosh it into Christmas. So her dad and I try to go above and beyond on Birthday.

She had a small party at daycare complete with cupcakes and ice cream, which she loved!We picked her up that night and took her too the Winter Festival of Lights at the near by Park. I noticed that as we drove through the neighborhood that she loved Christmas lights. It surprised me late one night that as we were driving she burst out with “oooh mommy, amazing!” and pointed at the lights. I knew then that she would like this huge light show. Her favorites of course are the Santa figures and the Gingerbread Men, which she calls German because Gingerbread was too many syllables. We then decided that instead of picking her toy for her, that we would let her pick out her own toy if she wanted one for her Birthday. We never made it there because she was too in love with the toy that she had just received at daycare. We instead took her to Hibachi, which ironically I always said I would do on her 2nd Birthday versus a party. We were joined by her Godfather, which was nice because she got to hang out with him and is starting to actually recognize him without us telling her these days. 

Nothing was more hilarious then watching her reaction to the Birthday Song complete with the Gong played loudly. She squirmed at the fire show that the chef gave but enjoyed her food and when the Chef left she screamed “bye bye Chef” as if they were the best of friends.

I forgot that I ordered some Peppa Pig things online way before her birthday and judging by the delivery date I put it out of mind to be here after the new year. Once I got the package and realized it came from China, I see why it took a while, however it came right on time. She opened the package and she loved it! Squealing of course. Her party actually took place at the My Gym. The blessing of My Gym is that they literally do everything for you and have built in entertainment that is age appropriate. Now my child is a stubborn two year old so while everyone was doing circle time, she was off at some other part of the Gym. At first we tried to get her to participate, but in the end we just let her be and eventually she came to be a part of the group. My parents weren’t able to be there but we were able to FaceTime and she loved that. It felt like Neena and Pop Pop were there with her. She of course mostly enjoyed the ball pit, dodge ball and the bubbles. At first she was unsure about the puppet show, but in true Gracie fashion, while every kid say seated, she ran over in front of them and stood there watching with a smile. 

When we came home, I asked Amos to put her gifts under the tree. He said “Why? They are for her Birthday.” and he was right. Oops. I said well lay them near the tree so I can open them with her since her Birthday has passed. The first picture you see is the result of me not opening her new Minnie Mouse toy fast enough. (which by the way she has been sleeping with ever since she got it).
Needless to say, she had a great 2nd Birthday.
I promised husband no 3rd Birthday event, especially since her birth/birthday falls right in the middle of his busiest time of year as a musical director for a huge million dollar Christmas Extravaganza. But hey, I can’t make any promises because we weren’t supposed to have a 2nd.
Happy Birthday Vashti-Gracia

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It’s Time for A Giveaway!

I am so excited to be hosting my second giveaway with Freshly Picked. In honor of Gracia’s 2nd Birthday which is coming up next week, why not share the love with an awesome giveaway.

It’s simple to enter… that is, if you have Instagram!

That’s right! I am taking the party to the ‘gram.

I want you to be able to get a glimpse of what’s going on with me even when I don’t get a chance to do a full on blog because as you know, life can truly be too much of a whirlwind to try to keep up.

So head to @vashtijasmine on Instagram and look for the giveaway post, follow the directions to enter.

Then check back on December 21st to see who won!

The Tale of the Not So Perfect/Perfect Christmas Card

Let’s keep it Real: Christmas Cards or any kind of family portrait is difficult with a Toddler involved.

You might as well just embrace the fact that the youngest person in your photo shoot is going to run the photo shoot just like a true Diva.

No matter how much planning you do to schedule family photos around their happiest times of day, more than likely they will become a horse of a different color when you want them to stand there and say “Cheese!!!!”

So, this year I decided, instead of the Pinterest worthy, perfectly posed Holiday Card that this year we would embrace our personalities and show that through our holiday photo card to our family and friends. My goal was to have a lot of laughs and hopefully no tears in order to have a great photo to send to our family, especially those who are far who may not have seen us in a while.

This is the tale of Rolling WITH Resistance when you have two year olds.

I picked the late afternoon just before sunset right after nap time to take family photos. I thought my daughter would be rested and ready to “play”.

I think before every shoot, I hold my breath because God only knows how my child is going to act on a day to day basis…

Just look at this little mischievous face … she just looks like “what can I get into…”

Then of course, she is in that phase of “monkey see, monkey do” where she imitates what she sees and hears. So, if the photographer is bending down to get on her level, she squats down too and refuses to stand.

FINALLY, for a split second she stands and the photographer got the cutest shot of Gracia.

When selecting your photographer, make sure that they continue to shoot beyond the poses. Here is why… you get the best natural shots while walking and having personal moments. Life isn’t posed therefore, make sure your entire photo shoot isn’t either. It is how you capture your family dynamics and personalities best.

I suggest picking a location that you love to frequent, where you can run and play if need be.

Some suggested places could be:

The Park (which is where we were – including a pond with ducks)

The Playground

Your own kitchen

Your favorite activity center

Embrace the world you live in.

Literally two shots in, she made us put her down and wanted to go do her own thing. Iris kept shooting away…

Where was she going you ask?

She wanted to sit down.  Great.

We got her to come back to us, but she preferred not to be held but instead wanted to stand and watch the ducks. I would’ve let her play with the ducks, but these ducks were about the same size as she is.

We decided that if we walk away from the family of ducks, we could get her attention back and continue.

Clearly, she did not want to go.

I believe she was even saying “NOOOO” and was trying to pull us in the opposite direction.

And then all of a sudden, the struggle stopped and we have a shot we can use.

The rest of the afternoon was spent embracing “The Gracie Show”.

She does not lack in personality and determination to do what she wants, stand how she wants, go where she wants. Our talker, walker, climber, and helper (who loves to clean-up) enjoyed herself in the Park and luckily didn’t want to pick up every leaf she saw.

In the end, it was a great afternoon that we had just walking around the park and spending quality family time together. We occasionally looked at the camera, but mostly we embraced that whether we are at home or out and about, our two year old kinda runs the show. Like I said, let’s be honest.

So she was rewarded with plenty of high fives and treats for doing such a good job.

She made it through an hour or more of photos while only having 10 min attention spans.

Now there is no point in investing in great family photos, if you don’t select a great card that will help your photos look their best!

Thanks to TinyPrints, we were able to gather plenty moments for this years Christmas Cards.

They have plenty of new Holiday cards including glitter cards, metallic foil, even a Christmas Ornament card that you can send to family and friends.

TinyPrints has so many selections that truthfully, it was very hard to decide which card I wanted to go with this year.

I selected a card that I felt would be able to tell our story.

We only send out cards once a year and I want them to make a last impression on my friends and family so that it will be worth posting or sitting on the mantles just like we do with the cards we receive from friends.

This year, because my personal desire was to show more of an experience, I went with a Tri-Fold Card that I would be able to include 6+ pictures on the card as well be able to show both looks for that day on one card.

If you want to select something similar, I chose to go with the Tri-Fold version of the Antique Glow in Linen.

This is what the back looks like when you select the Linen color.

As you can imagine, Gracia was just about through with taking pictures at this point.

As we waited for Gracie to join us, we decided to just take some couples shots, which we hadn’t done in over two years. Our last was my pregnancy photos.

Gracia had taken a break and decided she would simply prefer running and chasing leaves close by. I on the other hand decided that I would not chase her. That is why most of our second look, she is no where to be found or captured in poses that have us “talking to her” or preventing her from running away.

I say, thats fine. If she wants that black mail photo of year 3 of our pictures with her on a toddler leash, so be it. (I’m kidding) but just because we aren’t looking at the camera doesn’t mean its not a great photo. It’s the experience of our family. It’s our current season. It’s our story.

Eventually all cooperation ceased. This was her, “Are you ready to go Mommy and Daddy?” look.

Yes Diva, it is time to go.

If you are looking to send out Cards this year and perhaps even considering sending New Years Cards, take it from me TinyPrints is the way to go.

They make it super easy to do.

You upload your favorite pictures into your account and then drag and drop them into their beautiful card templates. You can preview your design and they even have a Designer who will review it for Free before it goes to print.

It doesn’t get any easier or better than that.

And so, I hope you have a Merry and Bright Holiday Season.

Special thanks to Iris Mannings Photography and TinyPrints

*Full Disclosure: TinyPrints provided my Christmas Cards in exchange for telling my story in making my Christmas Cards this year. No other compensation was provided. Review of product is 100% true and my own experience and opinion and in no way influenced by TinyPrints.