Personal Letters and Custom Holiday Photo Cards….and why I love them both.

When you hear the words, “written communication”, probably many of you (especially those of you born in mid to late 80s or after) would think of text or email.

If you get a pen pal in this year of our Lord, 2019 is it via email? Do kids send out invitations to their birthday parties through the good ‘ol mail truck anymore? Getting mail (clarification: PERSONAL mail, not junk) is such a special, unusual treat these days. If you were to open your mailbox to find an envelope with your name, written in your friend’s recognizable handwriting I guarantee it would bring a smile to your face.

Here’s why: real, genuine, personal moments are not our daily bread anymore when it comes to communication with our dear ones. Sure, I love a sweet text or a funny gif as much as anyone, but let me challenge you (and I’m including myself in this challenge as well!) to send some personally written cards, notes or letters this season.

I love the family photo Christmas Card, but let’s be honest, it’s not as if your family is actually walking around in coordinating outfits all year long. Let someone know how you’re really doing and inquire about them via a handwritten note or letter. Yes. Let’s use our hands to hold pens. and write. on paper.

Speaking of paper, has some of the most beautiful and totally customizable personal stationary for this season’s letter writing challenge. Each beautiful design you select has the option for you to change each color element. They update in real time so that your options show up on your screen as you select them. Basic Invite is one of the few websites that offers this! You get to design your card/stationary so that it is just the way you want it.

I selected a card with a beautiful floral wreath and was able to change the color of each flower and leaf. I added my monogram, surrounded by flowers of blues and yellows of course! They even have 40 different envelope options! Your handwriting will not be the only personal touch!

If you aren’t sure how your choices will look printed out, you can order a sample of the design. That way you can see and feel it for yourself before you make your large order.

For your personalized Christmas cards, there are over 500 options! You can create custom, holiday photo cards, or holiday greeting cards for your business. RIGHT NOW, Basic Invite is offering 30% off if you use this code: holi30. RUN!

Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders (whoa!!) as well as an address capturing service to gather all of your friend’s and family’s addresses into one place.

Can’t you just see your family’s squishy little faces on one of these beautiful cards?

The foil holiday cards are a really special touch and are available in several colors, including rose gold. Gorgeous!

Wouldn’t this gorgeous card make a big impact to your customer?

Happy letter writing and card sending! I truly hope that you’ll find many genuine moments to breathe in the wonder of Christmas this year.

Christmas, New Years, Moving day…

Can y’all believe it’s only ONE week until Christmas? Just like every year-minus the years I was a kid counting down the days-December is like the blink of an eye. Although there have been some pretty cold nights lately, we’ve been mostly blessed with weather that is conducive to our living situation. I’ve spent some time doing dishes in a coat, hat and scarf. I’ve spent time in a reasonable indoor outfit.
I have, I think, reached my limit on packing. Every Friday I pack. I’ve gotten into a pretty efficient rhythm: toothbrushes, pajamas, laundry….Every Sunday afternoon, I unpack. Put away laundry, remake beds, put suitcases in closet….Brian so sweetly reminded me this week, “this is it. This is the probably the last time you have to do this.” Oh, thank you, honey. I got this.
During the Christmas holiday, we decided to “move (back) in” with my parents (Thanks mom and dad!) to have hot showers, a dishwasher, laundry on site, and to BE WARM. Just in time too. As I write this, the wind is howling and bringing in a cold front. A very cold, cold front, especially for a good Texas girl like me. So, for now #ranchlife is on hold, but adventure year lives on, and goes into 2017 here in North Austin.
Progress has been happening on the house, and it’s really looking more and more like a real house. Like, I can’t wait to live here, where am I going to put the sofa, which cupboard will my mugs go in….etc etc

The front door is just to the right of the stairs




view from upstairs, in the playroom



Monday, the floor crew is supposed to start sanding and staining the wood floors. The usual time frame for completion is a week- a week and a half. I was assured that they would stay and finish up Saturday if they had to so that they could be finished by Christmas. Yes, please. The Tuesday following Christmas, the carpet will go in upstairs. The upstairs is the playroom, and the kid’s bedrooms. I was also assured that this crew WOULD be there the Tuesday after Christmas. Trying not to get my hopes up about that. Once the floors are finished, appliances go in, touch up paint happens, and they hook up our plumbing to our tank. A lot of things are still coming together, but we are so, so close.
Here’s the stain we decided on for the floors: hard to see in the picture, but it’s about 3 shades lighter than I originally chose.

Hoping I can share photos of how the floor turned out after Christmas. Maybe I’ll have more good news about a firm closing date! Brian and I are really brainstorming about the placement of our fence, so hopefully I can share about that soon too. What type of fence do y’all picture around our house? We love the look of a split rail fence. It’s obviously aesthetically pleasing, but all that really keeps out is cows, and still allows armadillos, possums, skunks and similar animals in.  Maybe something like this?

Merry Christmas y’all! Thanks for reading. -Steph

(Originally published December 17, 2016)

Have a holly, jolly, ranchlife Christmas

We knew this would happen, we prepared ourselves, we tried not to get too excited….but it’s still. so. crushing. Our closing date has been delayed. bum bum bum.
Not by much, and yes, it’s the holiday season. Time will go by quickly, like it always does at this time of year, but ugh. We do have lights and fans in and connected (I can turn my lights on and off!), ACs installed, and hot water heaters. Big stuff has been done, but there’s a lot left to come together. Last minute paint touch ups, sanding and staining the floors, carpet, appliances…
Y’all know I try to practice gratitude, I really really try to, but mama’s getting cold. I live in a house made of rocks. It was built for summer weekends by the pool, and on the porch. It was 39 degrees the other night. It was fine, we all had 4 blankets and slept in socks, and it was fiiiiine. But brrr.
We are good. We are great. We are going to be ok. We can do this. We are going to make the most of it. (Pray for us anyway:))
It’s really made me think about people who just live like this. People that year after year live in cold houses, or under a bridge. In the past, in all my previous warm, and insulated homes, I’ve never looked forward to winter (like at all, I kinda hate it), but I haven’t “feared” it. In the name of Adventure Year, this season, the Smiths will be donating coats/blankets. That saying about walking in someone else’s shoes applies here.
On a merry note, here are the economical, and homemade decorations we put up at the ranch house. Carolynn made paper garland, decorated some gingerbread cut outs, and decorated some felt Christmas trees. I knew she would rise to the occasion when we decided to do low-key, ranch life Christmas decorations. She loves art, loves creating and she really made it so special.
(Landon said, “no tanks (thanks). I fine.”)





It’s nothing out of a magazine, but it’s totally representing us where we are right now.
I didn’t get Perfectly Spaced Ornament Placement Disorder Syndrome, and the kids actually get to touch the tree and move stuff around. Adventure Year me is so cool and laid back.


(Originally posted December 2, 2016)