The Resolutions Project

The beginning of a new year is, as we all know and love (or know and loathe), the traditional time to make resolutions. Sure you may be padded with some extra poundage from all the feasting of the holidays, or getting over that hangover from New Year's Eve, but now you can look forward to the new year as a blank slate on which to write your dreams. I personally adore the tradition of making resolutions. It's magical to me.

Printable 2016 Resolutions sheet

But often, as each and every single one of us knows, it's hard to keep a lot of resolutions. Why? A million reasons why, millions of millions, each of them specific to ourselves. You can read article after article about why they're hard to keep, and hints on how to keep them. Make specific goals. Tell a friend. Make a mood board. All that jazz.

So I've decided to begin a monthly experiment: a resolutions project, trying out the different ways to stay on top of my resolutions. At the beginning of each month I'm going to review my resolutions, see how I'm doing, and also see whether I got my priorities right in the first place.

The first thing for anyone to start with to identify what their true resolutions should be. Here is a printable diagram to chart exactly what should be your real and true resolutions, your do-it-or you'll-regret-it list.

How to use the diagram to zero in on what truly should be on your list:

It would be awesome to do: A dream of yours (going to Paris, learning to knit, exercise every day, living life to it's fullest). This one is easy and usually on the top of people’s lists. But they might also be things you have no real plan for how to accomplish.

I really should get around to doing it: Something you’ve been meaning to do for a while (perhaps getting in the habit of flossing every day, losing 10 pounds (if you’re over your Body Mass Index), or organizing your home). This may be something you've been vowing to do for years.

There are consequences to not doing it: A project or habit that if you really keep putting it off you will impact your health, wealth, or long-term happiness. (Like if you don’t take time to work towards your dream job you will end up frustrated, or if you don’t get back in touch with dear friends you may lose them.) There are new studies showing that concentrating on consequences may help you overcome the blocks between you and your resolution.

  1. If something exists in only one of the circles, you may not actually care that much about it, and you will not be able to accomplish it until you care. Be honest with yourself.
  2. If it falls in two circles, put it on your resolutions list, and make a plan for it.
  3. Where all three circles intersect, it’s time to do it. These are the things you will regret not doing, perhaps not only when the next year rolls around, but forever.

Download the resolutions worksheet, print out your resolutions list, write your no-regrets resolutions list, and hang it where you will see it every day. And join me in starting out on the adventure of living a life with no regrets.

—Kimi

 

 

How To Write A Thank You Note

In the modern era of texts, emails, and social media, it has become easy to show your gratitude, and what a wonderful thing to have more gratitude expressed in the world! In the days of yore when everything had to be written would you have told someone that you are obsessed with those brownies they made and then asked for the recipe? Or that their holiday card made you so happy? I doubt it. We can now show our love over the tiniest things, every day. Did someone make you happy today? Go text them. Right now.

But for the big things, a written thank you note is essential. What counts as the big things? 

-Gifts, whether physical or monetary.

-Attending an event, such as a wedding, an important party, or a funeral.

-Special effort, when someone helps you out with something.

For some people dashing off a thank you note is easy breezy, but for some it is a merciless burden. And like any nasty task, you procrastinate and avoid it, and then are slowly crushed by guilt as you pass that stack of stationery waiting menacingly for you on your desk, glowering at you with blank pages.

I am generally one of the easy breezy kind, but even for me at times I cringe away from doing it. I think to myself, "Not today, I've got sooooo much to do, like look, I've gotta unload the dishwasher! I can do it tomorrow. It's okay if they're a little late. Or a lot late. I'll just stick "belated" somewhere in there so they'll know that I know I'm late." 

How long is it okay to let slide a thank you note? Ideally you should do it within a week of an event to allow for postal time, but for some things that's just not possible—such as weddings, funerals, or births. In that case people will give you two or three months grace. But no matter what, no matter whether it's two months or six, it's better late than never! Do not let guilt make you postpone it until it's the next year suddenly and you feel like a total ass and can't even bring yourself to call them.

However, there is hope for all—The Crib Sheet.

Thank you notes do not, in fact, have to be brilliant. Nor do they have to be stunningly original. All they have to do is be from the heart. And here is a crib sheet on how to start off. 

------

The Greeting

This is the easiest. Stick with "Dear [insert name]" and you will never go wrong. If it is a dear friend you may address them in a more personal way, that is up to you. "Hi there", "My darling", "Bonjour, my dear", whatever feels personal or even an in-joke between you.

------

The First Line

-Thank you so much for...

-It made my day when...

-I can't thank you enough for...

TIP: Never use the word "money", replace with "your generosity" or "your kindness"

------

The Second Line

-For gifts, discuss how you are using or will use the gift. "It is exactly what I wanted and I use it every single day!"

-For attending an event, say how happy or grateful you were to have them at the event. "It meant so much to us that you were at our...", or "We are forever grateful that you came to the...", or "I will always remember how you helped me during this difficult time"

-For a monetary gift, mention how you plan on using it—"We will be using it for a helicopter tour on our honeymoon!" "We are putting it towards getting Brandon the tricycle he has been obsessed with for months!"

------

The Third Line (optional)

I believe in the third line, unless you have over 50 thank you's to write after a wedding or something of the sort. But the third line can still be easy:

-We are so lucky to have such wonderful family...

-I am so grateful to have you as my friend...

-I am so blessed to have you in my life...

-Do you know how awesome you are? You are more awesome than bacon.

------

The Closing Line

Restate your thanks, and mention the future. Feel free to use exclamation marks if it feels appropriate—the only exceptions are for professional colleagues, friends of the family, and old-timers who just aren't into all that extra grammatical stuff.

-Thank you again for... and I hope we can see each other again soon.

-Again, thanks so much, and I hope to see you soon!

-Thank you again, and I'll send you a picture of Brandon on his new tricycle!

------

The Sign-Off

Even this can be fraught, but just choose from the appropriate one below:

-Love or With love, (family and close friends)

-Yours or Your truly, (friends or semi-close acquaintances)

-Sincerely, (older family members, professional colleagues, or just to play it safe)

-or draw a heart (yes really, you can, for dear ones I do it all the time, especially when I run out of space (which is frequent))

------

That's it! Greeting, thank you line, second line, closing line, sign-off. Or another line in there if you've got the time and the person really is just the best and deserves some true gushing. Want even more possible sentences? Here's a great source, Words Of Appreciation

You need never fear the hulking stack of thank you's again. Attack those cards, brandish your pen like a sword (since it's mightier than it), and treat yourself to an ice cream afterwards. 

How To Print Your Own Stationery

Photo by Terry Robinson

Thinking about printing your stationery yourself? Here's a guide on how to do it easily and affordably.

1. Choose Your Printing Method

There are many ways to print your stationery—at home, at a copy shop, with an online printer, a professional printer, or some even with letterpress. Hint: Off the bat I can tell you that often the most affordable way is not at home, but at a copy shop! Why, you may ask? INK. Ink cartridges are not only expensive, they can be terribly annoying to keep consistent, which to me equals emotional costliness. But for those with a kick-ass printer and skills with it, go for it. Just make sure to test out everything first. For details on all printing methods and downloadable samples go here).

2. Choose Your Paper

Paper might be your most important choice, but it will depend on your printing method. Copy shops and home printers can only handle paper up to about 100lb, and to get a feel for that you should definitely go to a paper store (even if you end up ordering your paper online). Paper Source is an easy place to go get your hands on real paper. Hint: linen finish paper is stiffer and can make your stationery feel higher quality. 

Envelopes are the next most important thing. There is a huge variety at affordable prices at Paper And More. And you don't have to go with plain white! But if you choose a dark envelope remember that you will either need to use labels for the addresses or a light gel pen, such as the Uniball White Gel Pen

3. Print Your Stationery

This will again depend on your printing method. To print at a copy shop just bring in the PDF files we provide on a USB key drive or CD, as well as your paper, and let 'er rip. Hint: For home printers make sure your settings are for HIGHEST QUALITY, your appropriate paper (like matte etc), same size and NOT set to "Scale to fit". This will make your stationery too small. 

4. Cut Your Stationery

If you are crafty and have good cutting supplies, then it's easiest to do it yourself. (Hint: Very often copy shops have a paper cutter, or will even cut for you. But make sure to test it all out since some are more accurate than others!)

With an Exacto knife: 

-It's best to have a cutting mat. They are a great investment anyway!

-Cut within the edges of your paper rather than slicing off the sides. This way you will keep your cropmarks.

-Make sure to keep using new sharp blades. 

With a paper cutter:

-Line up the top cropmarks along the edge and cut (3/4")

-Flip around and cut off the bottom cropmarks. 

-From top and bottom cut at 5".

-From sides cut 3/8" 

That's it!

And you thought it was going to be so hard. We have plenty more details and info on the various printing methods here.

Wedding Invitation Wording

Photo by Kimi Weart

You may think that the wording for your wedding stationery will be absolutely straightforward and that it will be the least of your worries in wedding planning. And it might be! But there is a surprising amount that is conveyed in this little piece of paper, as it is the first time your wedding becomes really truly absolutely real, for everyone. 

Will your wedding be formal? Informal? Fun? Elegant? All of these things can be conveyed with just a few simple words. But don't worry—we are here to help you out.

Hint: Go over your wording carefully with all members of the family, twice, three times if necessary. The wording can be a very sensitive thing. Your partner and parents and parents-in-law might drive you crazy over it, but remember that their own emotions are running high. Marriage is change, for everyone. And the last thing you want is to have your stationery all set, printed, and ready to go, and then discover that someone thinks something isn't right—and yes, this has happened. 

A couple of general tips:

-The most important thing is to keep your wording simple and straightforward (though with a smidge of fun if you are so inclined). You don't want your guests to get confused by too much text, and you don't want your design to look crowded. 

-If you have international guests take into consideration that they numerically put their dates as Day, Month, Year. For example if you are getting married 12/1/2016 (December first for the Americans), it would be 1/12/2016 overseas!

-It's absolutely fine to add a wedding website to your invitation, unless you are planning a formal wedding. If slightly less than formal you can put the website at the bottom of your invitation or on the back. The most elegant way to do it is on an additional insert card.

-Zip codes are unnecessary on your invitation. If your invitees are older they will need directions given to them either with an insert card or a letter. If your invitees are younger and internet-savvy then they can search the street address and city and won't need the zip code.

 

Parents of Bride Hosting: Formal

Mr. & Mrs. Jonathon Stark
request the honor [or honour] of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard
to
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Both Parents Hosting: Formal

Mr. & Mrs. Jonathon Stark
and 
Mr. & Mrs. Verity Redan
request the honor [or honour] of your presence
at the marriage of their children
Leslie Bonnard Stark
and
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at half past five in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Groom's Parents Below His Name

Mr. & Mrs. Jonathon Stark
request the honor [or honour] of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard
to
Alexis Petra Redan
son of Mr. & Mrs. Verity Redan
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at four o'clock in the afternoon
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Parents Hosting: Less Formal

Jonathon & Rose Stark
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard
to
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday September 21st
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner & dancing to follow

-----

Jonathon & Rose Stark

invite you to share in the celebration
of the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard
to
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday September 21st
Two thousand sixteen
at 4:30 in the afternoon
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner & dancing to follow

 

Parents Hosting: Informal

Jonathon & Rose Stark
joyfully invite you to the wedding of
Leslie Bonnard
and
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday September 21st, 2016
at 4:30 in the afternoon
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner & dancing to follow

 

Divorced Parents: Formal

Mr. Jonathon Stark
Ms. Rose Stark
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard
to
Alexis Petra Redan
son of Mr. & Mrs. Verity Redan
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Divorced Parents Remarried

Jonathon and Patricia Stark
and Bertrand and Rose Arquette
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Leslie Bonnard Stark
to
Alexis Petra Redan
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Everyone Hosting: Formal

The honor of your presence 
is requested at the marriage of
Leslie Bonnard Stark
and
Alexis Petra Redan
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

-----

Together with their parents
Leslie Bonnard Stark
and
Alexis Petra Redan
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Everyone Hosting: Less Formal

Together with their families
Leslie Stark
and
Alexis Redan
invite you their wedding
Saturday May 16, 2016
at 6 o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner & dancing to follow

 

Bride & Groom Hosting: Formal

Leslie Bonnard Stark
and
Alexis Petra Redan
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
Saturday the sixteenth of May
Two thousand sixteen
at six o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Reception to follow

 

Bride & Groom Hosting: Less Formal

Leslie Stark
and
Alexis Redan
joyfully invite you
to the celebration of their marriage
Saturday September 25, 2016
at 6 o'clock in the evening
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner & dancing to follow

-----

With great joy
Leslie Bonnard Stark
and
Alexis Petra Redan
invite you to their wedding
Saturday September 21st
Two thousand sixteen
at 4:30 in the afternoon
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Dinner, dancing & merriment to follow

-----

Leslie Stark
and
Alexis Redan
invite you to the celebration
of their marriage
Saturday September 21st
Two thousand sixteen
at 4:30 in the afternoon
The Swann Club
421 Park Avenue
New York, New York 

Food, fun & festivities to follow

 

Downright Fun

Emily Stark
and
Peter Redan

are gettin' hitched!

----

Emily Stark
and
Peter Redan

are tying the knot!

----

Emily Stark
and
Peter Redan
invite you to join them

as they celebrate the beginning of their adventure together

----

Emily "It'll be a cold day in hell" Stark
and
Peter "Not in a million years" Redan
invite you to join them at their wedding

 

5 Things You Should Still Write By Hand

Photo compliment Elizabeth Street

When I was a kid my best friend moved away to California. But we assiduously wrote each other at least once a month. We started stories for each other that the other would finish and send back, sort of like a long-term exquisite corpse story (but more filled with unicorns and magic and sailing boats) (we were in 4th grade after all). I treasure those letters still, as I know she does as well.

But by the time I was in college there was wonderful, oh so easy email! This kept me in touch with so many friends that I know I would never, ever, have had the stamina to keep up with. There are friends who live in other countries that I have not seen for countless years, but I know what they're up to. We exchange family war stories, recipes, and we support each other in times of need. I have no doubts when I say they are still dear friends.

However. There are still things I strongly believe should be written by hand.

They're not many. They're quick to write. And they are the things that can even be treasured for years. 

The things that should still be written by hand:

—THANK YOU NOTES

—NOTES FROM KIDS

—HOLIDAY CARDS

—CONDOLENCE CARDS

—TO-DO LISTS & RESOLUTIONS

You are either thinking, "Why is that necessary?" or, "Well of course!" For the doubters out there, here are the reasons why these things should be hand-written.

 

THANK YOU NOTES

Often it is fine to email a thank you—for a dinner party, a spontaneous gift from a pal, any little thing that makes you want to reach out. But for larger gifts and huge gestures, a written thank you is precious. Everyone knows that writing things by hand takes longer and more thought. Everyone knows it involves choosing a card, composing your note, addressing, and a trip to ye olde blue poste box. It is old-fashioned in the best way. And to discover a personal note amongst all the junk mail and bills is a great way to make someone's day a tiny bit brighter. 

One of my best friends once received some hand-me-downs for her son, from a friend of a friend. And we're talking good hand-me-downs, from Janie & Jack (which can cause sticker shock but lasts for years). My friend promptly wrote a gracious note to say thank you. And here's the amazing part—the acquaintance was so impressed by such thoughtfulness that she has kept sending clothing for the last 3 years. The kid is the best-dressed little boy ever. 

Want to start off with an easy and free one? Just download our free printable "Cut Out Thank You" here.

copyright© Printable Press 2015

 

NOTES FROM KIDS

This is pretty self-explanatory. Because the notes that kids write are adorable! But also, children should always be encouraged to practice their writing skills, and should be taught the importance of gratitude. This is something parents and relatives treasure and as the years go on you can compare their development. Here is a free printable thank you card for kids that you can customize with their names.

Once after a play date my 3-1/2 year old son told us he wanted to write a letter to his friend. Letter by letter we spelled it out for him, which he then painstakingly (and frequently backwards) wrote down. We sent it off and it was met with such delight that our families became incredibly close.

Photo by Kimi Weart

 

HOLIDAY CARDS

Now, I'm always happy when I receive an emailed card or image from a friend during the holidays, or even a holiday emoji text. But the ones you get in the mail are so much better. You can line them up on your mantle and be surrounded by the glowing faces of loved ones and their personal greetings. 

For holiday cards you should feel free to just scribble your names or pencil in a brief note, like "Hope to see you in the new year!" Even the tiniest personalization can mean something. There is a scene in Orange Is The New Black where a character receives a Christmas card from her ex and estranged son. But the moving part, the part that made tears well up in her eyes, was that this time the son had signed his name by hand, opening the door just a tiny bit. And that made all the difference.

Plus if you do an unusual one people keep them and you feel like the cool kid in school. This is ours from 2014.

Copyright© Printable Press 2014 

 

CONDOLENCE CARDS

If you can't visit someone who is bereaved, the next best thing is a hand-written note. There are two reasons: the recipient knows how personal such a note is, the effort that goes into it, and because it is a physical reminder of just how many people care for you. It doesn't immediately get archived in email.

I have my own anecdote for a condolence card that really meant something to me. My cat of 17 years passed away two years ago, and I was devastated. It is can be very hard for people to understand how heartbreaking such a loss is.

I received a card from my vet that was incredibly cheesy—yet it made me cry anyway. This is what it said:

Somewhere on the other side, our sweet companions play,
certain that we'll come for them on the appointed day.
So having said our sad goodbyes, let healing thoughts begin,
with memories to cherish until we meet again.

How cheesy is that? And yet how precious is it when your vet, who has so little time, writes in it, "I am so sorry for your loss, Moké was more like a soul mate to you than just a pet. You have my deepest condolences". I have kept it all this time.

Here are some lovely ones from Dahlia Press (So Very Sorry - Cat, So Very Sorry - Dog)

Okay, now I have to stop tearing up and get onto the next one.

 

TO-DO LISTS & RESOLUTIONS

There are many great apps for lists, like Teux Deux, that make your life easier. But if you want to engrave something into your brain there is nothing better than writing it down. It has been proven that the act of writing imprints the message into your memory far more than typing. The combination of thinking plus motor skills ingrains it much deeper. Plus, there is the extreme satisfaction of scratching out something you've accomplished.

Something I've done for years is have a pad of paper on my desk, that I write a fresh list in every morning. If something from the day before has not been done it gets rewritten on the next day's list. An easy thing to do is every time you have a junk piece of 8-1/2" x 11", cut or tear it into quarters and clip it together. I never feel bad about then using them up for my to-do's and grocery lists. 

One step further is to write down your goals and tack them up—here is an excellent article from Forbes magazine that details why. 

Aside from those little 5 things, embrace email whole-heartedly!

Do you have any stories about a time a hand-written note warmed your heart? Or one you've written that has meant a lot to someone else? 

 

The Proper Way To Use A Rubber Stamp

You would think it would be obvious, the best way to use a rubber stamp. But have you had your stamped impressions turn out grainy and gray? Have you ever, like me, had to decide whether to chuck that envelope you just stamped? Or tried to decide whether the person you're sending it to would notice something like that?

I discovered something recently—I've been doing it wrong. 

 

I used to use any old stamp pad, push my rubber stamp into the ink as hard as I could, and then just rub the stamp around on a piece of paper to get some of the ink off. And I used to frown at my envelopes and think, "Did I not press hard enough? I must have not pressed hard enough. Let me try again. Nope, still bad. Okay, let me press even HARDER and try again. WHY DO YOU STILL LOOK AWFUL!"

But there are actually four simple steps to getting a perfect impression, every time!

1. Invest in a good stamp pad, like a lovely stamp pad from ColorBox.

2. Pat the surface of your stamp several times on the ink, rather than pressing it in.

3. Clean off the surface of your stamp after using with alcohol-free baby wipes. If it's really gunky you can use a toothbrush in mild soap and water (but do this only on the surface, don't let the water get into the wood).

4. Store your ink pad upside down to keep the ink always at the surface.

 

Now mind you, I don't bother with these rules all the time, except for keeping my stamp pad upside down. If I'm running out the door and then suddenly remember I have to send a letter to the bank or something, I simply don't care what my address looks like. But for holiday cards, invitations, and personal stationery, that's when it's worth the extra effort for that extra touch o' lovely.

 

 

Bad (Avery stamp pad from Staples, pressed in, not cleaned):

 

Good (ColorBox Pigment Ink, patted, and cleaned). 

 

What a difference, right?? And this is with a stamp that is at least 6 years old, not a crisp new one. And one that I'm not always good about cleaning. I am trying to be better about that, as not cleaning your rubber stamp can lead to some issues such as:

1. Grainy image.

2. Clogged areas that fill in when you stamp.

3. Transfer of ink color, which is especially frustrating when you have a beautiful new colored ink pad, like a gold one that costs quite a bit.

But if you clean your stamp you can bring it back to life, with just a teensy amount of effort. Teensy! 

I suppose a last lesson might be: Leave your envelope alone for a minute to let the ink dry (particularly with pigment ink, which takes much longer).

So bust out your old stamps, apologize to them for treating them so poorly, and make your envelopes and paper happy.