Art I made for a boy - Part 2 - Major Crush

A scan of my sketchbook. If you study the lower right corner, you can see yellow streaks-- the original idea I scrubbed out to paint about Josh. Because that's what crazy girls do.

A scan of my sketchbook. If you study the lower right corner, you can see yellow streaks-- the original idea I scrubbed out to paint about Josh. Because that's what crazy girls do.

[Lately on this blog, I’ve been sharing the inside of my earliest sketchbooks. All throughout high school and college, I journaled through art. A lot of those sketchbooks were filled with stories about a boy. One boy in particular. You can start from the beginning of the story here.]

So if you've read the beginning of this series, you've now heard how I met The Cool Boy At Youth Group. (I know, I know, it’s sort of oxymoronic. Youth group kids are, by definition, not cool.) But I'm telling you, if anyone at a youth group has ever been cool, it’s probably Josh Sommer. The girls loved him. High school girls, college girls—even the boys made jokes about wanting to marry him. 

My interactions with him were limited. For one hour every Wednesday, Josh led the worship team practice at youth group. I played piano and sang. He played acoustic guitar and sang. There were always other kids involved, but they're not in this story. Every time I had to sing, his blue eyes would look into mine and for a moment I would hold the attention of the most beautiful boy in the room. There was something in that gaze that told me he understood me. Or maybe he was just really good at eye contact. I wasn't sure.

Over the next months, he patiently teased out confidence from a shy girl in navy Converse low-tops. He would ask me questions about who I was, and my story of faith. He encouraged me to sing and play piano despite my lack of confidence. He wanted to hear my nerdy classical music. He asked questions about my artwork, my obsession with homework, and my love for books. 

I tried not to get involved emotionally. He was nice. Lots of people liked him. I was basically irrelevant. But the truth slowly seeped into my journal. One day, I tried to scribble about school or scripture or who knows what. I was distracted. The page was ugly. Absolutely terrible. 

I took my paintbrush, loaded it up with water, and intentionally scrubbed off as much of the paint as I could. I started putting blobs of purple and blue. I've always felt in purples and blues. I wanted to write stuff about Josh. I wanted some kind of shared experience to journal about. Truthfully, we had almost none. I wondered if he knew that I liked him. I wrote, 

Drip drop soppy wet. Never comes out right. Scrubbed clean— these pages REFUSE to say what I want them to. Don’t you know I long to fill this canvas with you? I would if I could, but I can’t. So I won’t.

A full-fledged crush. With that page, I admitted it to myself. I liked Josh Sommer. Like all the other girls, dang it. I liked him an awful lot. 


Boho Desk and Office Accessories for Hippies, Artists, and Wannabes Like Me

Boho Office Supplies and Unique Bohemian Desk Accessories

If I could have all my studio dreams come true, I’d create a space with “it might be bohemian but maybe she’s just messy” vibes. There would definitely be a black and white checkerboard tile floor, a handful of plants in the corner, and my desk chair would be a bold scarlet or a deep blue.

Unfortunately, my studio is a smallish room in an unfinished basement. It doesn’t have cool artist vibes. It has a handful of filing cabinets I bought at a garage sale and loads of cardboard boxes. What can I say? It’s a glamorous life I lead.

Today I’ve put together a round up of bohemian touches I would definitely add to my studio if my budget allowed for it. I tried to incorporate a handful of small shops like mine—individual makers who are out doing really cool stuff. When I included items from large stores, I tried to choose unique items you can't just find at Target (land of inexpensive yet beautiful goods.)

THIS TOTALLY RAD FLORAL NOTEBOOK FROM SOMMER LETTER CO., $20

If I could decorate my studio, it would look like this. I like darkish moody-ish floral-ish vibes. And yeah, okay, I made this product. But honestly, if I could give my studio new vibes, they'd look like this notebook. You can find it here.

THIS CARVED DESK ORGANIZER FROM WORLD MARKET, $39.99

I'm into this. I can totally see it bursting with paint brushes and pencils. It's one of those items that seems like it would look okay with accidental pencil marks and paint splotches on it. You can find it here

THIS DEEP TEAL AGATE SLICE DESK CLOCK FROM SoLo Market on ETSY, $110

I could stare at this little slice of deep teal perfection all day. It reminds me that nature is full of the best colors and textures. It makes me think of the ocean. AND it's made by a small independent maker. You can find it here

MINI COPPER PLANTER BY JULIA KOSTREVA, $18

To me, boho vibes involve a lot of plants and textures. Little succulents in copper planters belong on desktops, bookshelves, and tucked in corners. You can find them here

RED ANEMONE POPPY PRINT BY WILDFIELD PAPER CO., $38

I adore the work of Annie Mertlich of Wildfield Paper Co. She has a style entirely her own. This red anemone poppy print on canvas is a perfect focal point for a workspace. And she has a lot of other beautiful work worth checking out while you're there! You can find it here

BLUE STONEWARE MUG BY MCBEARD CERAMICS ON ETSY, $25

Every workspace deserves a mug full of coffee, or tea, or (if you're a child like me) hot chocolate. Nothing can top a real ceramic mug thrown on a wheel. This blue glaze is perfection: the texture, the tone, the finish. Yes girl yes. Support the small makers. You can find it here

COPPER LETTER TRAY BY U BRANDS, $20

If you must have office supplies, they should be pretty, right? U Brands has an entire line of copper wire office accessories and desk accessories to keep things organized. You can find this tray here

WATERCOLOR FLORAL IPHONE CASE BY SOMMER LETTER CO., $35

To me, a phone case is absolutely a desk accessory. It sits on my desk all day and contributes to the overall clutter of my workspace. If it's pretty, it adds to the vibe of my work environment. You can find this case for iPhone 6, 6s, or 7 here

Art I made for a boy - Part 1 - Just an Ordinary Day

A scan of the page from my sketchbook. If you look in the lower left corner, you can see a hideous treble clef that I scribbled over. 

Lately on this blog, I’ve been sharing the inside of my earliest sketchbooks. (If you missed the first part of this series, you can find it here.) All throughout high school and college, I journaled through art. I loved the idea that others could read my journal without ever fully knowing all of the clues I had hidden inside. I loved the idea that scribbles and colors could record my memories better than words. This is my first journal entry about a boy.

It was a Saturday night. The year was 2009. I was a high school kid who had recently joined a church youth group. Josh, THE Josh of the “one time at camp we had a moment” incident was a worship leader at the youth group.

One night, he came over to me, and said, “Someone told me you can sing.”

My insides immediately flipped over. My best friend had ratted me out. He wanted female voices on the worship team, and she had given him my name. “I’m not really a good singer,” I told him. I was shy. I was new to the youth group. I didn’t want to bring attention to myself.

“Well you can at least play piano,” he said.

“I play a little,” I admitted. “But I’m not that great,” I told him, my cheeks burning.

“I’ve heard you before. At camp,” he said.

I froze. “You remember that?” I couldn’t hide my shock.

“How could I forget? It was really beautiful,” he said. My heart dropped. Josh, the beautiful boy from summer camp, remembered me playing the piano? From years ago? Again, he asked me to sing. “Sing anything,” he said. “I need more girl voices on our worship team.”

I was so taken aback that I agreed to sing something for him. I stumbled my way through the first song I could remember—Ordinary Day by Vanessa Carlton.

Just a day, just an, ordinary day

Just tryin' to get by

Just a boy, just an, ordinary boy but

He was looking to the sky….

I couldn’t look at him until the song was over. When I finally glanced his way, he was staring at me. And then, he smiled. A huge smile. His blue eyes glowed with excitement. He leaned close and told me I did a great job. I could smell his cologne. I could sense his genuine excitement and kindness. He oozed with unintentional charisma. He wasn’t joking—he actually thought I was talented.

That night he texted my best friend and said, “Tell Kyle I can’t get that song out of my head.”

I couldn’t get him out of my head. I painted about him in my sketchbook. I drew a scribbly piano with dark ink. I layered bits of colored paper I had found – orange, yellow, scarlet. What does infatuation look like? I wanted it all on the page. I wrote, “& then- I let go. And the look on your face was priceless… There was no going back. There was no return. As hard as I tried to regret the choice I had made… I could not. Because we were left speechless and we both knew things were about to change.”

I secretly colored in some of the letters on the page to spell out “He smiled.” Good Lord, he had really smiled.


Art I made for a boy - the prequel

A photo from that year at summer camp. I definitely took this picture off of someone's Facebook. Josh is the one on the far right. He still wears that shirt sometimes.

A photo from that year at summer camp. I definitely took this picture off of someone's Facebook. Josh is the one on the far right. He still wears that shirt sometimes.

This is a story about art I made because of a boy. (Spoiler alert: we got married. Sorry to ruin the ending.) I cleaned out my studio last week and found an entire crate of sketchbooks and journals. A lot of the work in those sketchbooks shaped my future as an artist today. And a lot of those pages are filled with stuff about a boy. His name is Josh. Today I’m going back to the time we met. It’s a prequel to a lot of the art that came later. I have no paintings of this one, just a story, a photo, and a poem.

When I was 14, I went to a whitewater rafting camp in West Virginia. It was a camp for high school kids, but I was younger than a lot of the girls in my cabin. I remember feeling shy.

One day I found myself sitting at the piano in the dining hall. It must have been just before or just after dinner, because I remember a handful of workers wiping down tables and moving about the kitchen. I sat and filled the room with bits of Chopin, Kabalevsky, and Mozart. (Yeah, I was the nerd who played classical piano because it felt safer than flirting with high school boys.) After finishing one song, I heard a voice behind me:

“That was really beautiful. You should sing, too.”

His name was Josh, and he was 18. He was the object of much flirtation; my cabin had an ongoing prank war against him. He had longish blond hair and deep blue eyes and was the kind of boy that girls would call “beautiful”. 

I was embarrassed by his attention. I mumbled something like “oh, thanks, I guess.” And that was it. He left me sitting alone, my face burning. I stood, closed the cover to the piano, and left.

For some reason, we both remember this brief interaction vividly. Years later, I wrote a poem about it. Because, you know, that's what angsty teenagers do.

NO TRESPASSING

The valley is rich and green all over again,
Just as we find it every summer when the boys gather to play killer games of Red Rover
and the girls sit on the hill under the pretense of making bracelets,
all the while watching, each girl with her eye on someone in particular.

The sunset is rich, sweeping yellow and gold over our faces,
Tanned from hours of hiking, rafting, swimming, and sweating. 
I am young, only 14 years old. Too shy to join the games,
I make my way to the dusty, tuneless piano in the dining hall
And play quietly among the workers preparing for taco night: everyone’s favorite.
There is silence, and a voice behind me: “That is really beautiful. You should sing, too.” 

You are 18, handsome, long hair and a headband. 
I notice, but too young to think much will of you,
I am focused on the embarrassment I feel at having been caught. 
NO TRESPASSING, I want to say, like the brown and yellow sign that stands before the lake. 
VIOLATORS WILL BE EATEN BY BEARS, DOGS, or SNAKES. 

But I don’t need to say anything; already you are gone from my life for almost three more years, 
when our lives will wander together again
and you will slowly work to take down the sign I hung in my heart
until I learn to trust you, and I start to love you.
But there is none of that today. There is only NO TRESPASSING. 

 

It was a beginning, a prequel. A lot came of that little moment. And I have loads of sketchbooks to show for it. You can see the first page of my sketchbook and read what happened next here.


I'm still here | My struggle with depression, anxiety, OCD, and the choice to live

still here depression anxiety OCD choice to live

“So, are you still doing that stationery business thing?”

It’s been really quiet around here lately. No blogs, no new products, no Instagram posts… just silence. A lot of my friends and clients have been asking: Do you still have a business?

The answer is, resoundingly: yes. I do have a business. It’s actually alive and well, despite what you have (not) seen online. I’ve been focusing on bridal stationery suites, and boy, do I have some exciting work to share in the coming weeks.

But my Internet presence has been lacking, because frankly, I have been lacking. Remember that gutsy blog post where I told you about my decision to quit my teaching job and start the business of my dreams? It’s still true, but it’s only half the story.

You see, the truth behind the truth is this: I have spent the better part of three years locked in a battle with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I started this business because I was having a personal crisis.  As a teacher, I spent all of my time working, and spent my free time worrying about working. I became a shell of a person: smiles and laughter all day in the classroom, and then insomnia, tears, and panic attacks all night. As an artist I could work in private, behind a screen, in my pajamas, with tears in my eyes, and nobody would know the difference. It's easy to fake it in photos.

Kyle Sommer Sommer Letter Co by Natalie Kunkel

Last year, after I started this business, my crisis got a lot worse. You know all those ugly monsters you bury deep inside? Mine came back, with a vengeance, looking for answers. December hit and I couldn’t run anymore. I couldn’t fake the happy online independent business girl. I froze, literally, for months.

I failed to get out of bed for days at a time. I failed to release my Valentine’s Day cards because I wasn’t happy with them. I stopped blogging. I stopped seeing my friends entirely. I stopped responding to business emails. I stopped dreaming. The hardest thing about depression is being unable to see reality through the fog. I stopped being able to discern what was true and what was just in my head. I really believed the lie: I looked death in the eye, and saw an escape.

Kyle Sommer Sommer Letter Company

There was no clear turning point for me. Day after day, my husband held me, prayed over me, coached me, pointed me to Jesus, and helped me make the choice to live. I had been in counseling for months. I started exercising and eating better. I accepted my psychologist’s recommendation to take medication. I finally let my family get close enough to see the depth of my despair. I stopped pretending, and faced the demons and the unanswered questions. I called out to God and admitted I desperately needed help, and He was faithful to answer me.

The days are brighter, and I think about the future again. I have hope that what God is doing is best. I know He has used my suffering to restore my hope in Him. But I’m not naïve. I’m still in this battle; the choice to trust is a daily decision.

So, yeah, I’m still here. I’m still doing “that stationery business thing” (and you'll get to see everything I've worked on since December!) Stay tuned, because I’m not going anywhere.

Psalm 34
I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
    he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
    and he delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
    for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, my children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Whoever of you loves life
    and desires to see many good days,
keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from telling lies.
Turn from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are attentive to their cry;
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to blot out their name from the earth.
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
The righteous person may have many troubles,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all;
he protects all his bones,
    not one of them will be broken.
Evil will slay the wicked;
    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord will rescue his servants;
    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

P.s. Portraits in this blog post were taken by Natalie Kunkel of Natalie Kunkel Photography. Isn't she kind of the best?? She has truly been a faithful friend through the last year.

How to tie the most perfect bow ever so that even Martha Stewart would be impressed With your Mad Skills

How to tie a perfect gift bow for Christmas | Tutorial by Sommer Letter Co

Today I am so excited to share the most PERFECT bow-tying technique ever! Christmas is JUST around the corner, and I've been doing a lot (a LOT!) of wrapping lately. I just learned how to tie these perfect gift bows a few weeks ago, and I feel like I have been in the dark my whole life. Seriously, these bows are so beautiful even Martha Stewart would be impressed. 

Unfortunately, tying a perfect gift bow is a little weird to explain in photos and writing, so I had to make another video. Thankfully, I do weird things in videos, so you can laugh at me while you learn the best bow-tying technique ever, just in time for Christmas! Just press play! 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a GOOD NIGHT! See you after the holiday! 

Kyle

How to wrap like a pro: an easy, shimmery wrapping style to show off your Christmas cards

How to wrap like a pro: an easy, shimmery wrapping style to show off your Christmas cards

Today we're wrapping gifts. It's mid December, and I have a pile of gifts needing to be wrapped. For a lot of people, that's a headache. For me, it's exciting. I LOVE WRAPPING GIFTS. Love it. The good news is that today's tutorial is IDIOT-PROOF. Just about anyone can do it. No perfectly tied bows or good handwriting skills needed. You just need the following items: 

  • Wrapping paper. (I like brown kraft paper because I'm lazy and I use it for every holiday-- just switch up the toppings. It's the vanilla ice cream of the wrapping paper world. Goes beautifully with everything, especially pie.)  
  • Tape. For wrapping.
  • Scissors. For wrapping and cutting stuff.
  • Gold spray paint. (Optional, my friends. But exciting if you have it.)
  • A wide ribbon. Don't need much; just enough to fit around the package.
  • Stapler
  • Clear photo corners, or double-sided tape, or glue. Something to stick the card to the package. I like these clear photo corners.
  • A Christmas card. I'm partial to my own cards, which you can buy here. (SHAMELESS PLUG).

STEP ONE: WRAP THE GIFT

I'm not going to get into the details of wrapping, because I already did that in another post. It was a video post. I'm awkward on camera. Feel free to laugh.

STEP TWO: ADD SOME SHIMMER

Spray paint wrapping paper tutorial

AH SHIMMER. Lightly dust your package with gold spray paint. I love how the gold spray paint blends seamlessly into brown craft paper and adds just a hint of shimmer. You can go crazy and add a lot if you want for a metallic look. 

Don't be a dummy-- always spray paint in a well-ventilated area, and prepare for overspray. Spray paint goes everywhere. Ev.er.y.where. I usually lay down about a square mile of newspaper before I paint, just to be safe. 

Wait about 10 minutes to make sure it's dry. (If you put a bunch of gold instead of a light dusting, you might need to wait longer.)

STEP THREE: MEASURE YOUR RIBBON

Measure ribbon for wrapping paper tutorial

Wrap a ribbon around your gift, and hold it in place with your fingers. I carefully slid the ribbon off my package while continuing to hold the spot where I wanted to staple it. That can be a little tricky, so you could mark exactly where you want to staple instead of trying to hold the spot with your fingers while you slide it off the package.

STEP FOUR: STAPLE THE RIBBON 

Staple ribbon for unique wrapping paper tutorial

Be careful not to staple your fingers! Staple the ribbon loop in the place you marked, or the spot you are carefully holding with your fingers. 

STEP FIVE: TRIM OFF ANY EXCESS RIBBON 

Trim off ribbon for easy wrapping paper tutorial

I don't know what to say about this. Just trim off any random leftover bits? And then carefully slide the ribbon back onto your package. 

STEP SIX: ADD PHOTO CORNERS TO YOUR CARD

add photo corners for easy wrapping paper tutorial

You should probably write in it first. Just saying. You could use double-sided tape, if you have that instead. Or if you just have regular tape, make little tape loops. I just think the photo corners have the cleanest look when the card is removed. 

STEP SEVEN: PLACE THE CARD ON YOUR PACKAGE

easy Christmas card wrapping paper tutorial

FINISHED! How pretty is that? A shimmery, gorgeous gift. 

A COUPLE OF BONUS TIPS:

  • This style works best with smaller packages. I think it looks best when the card fits nicely on the package. (Ex: books, makeup, etc. fit really well.) 
  • A wider ribbon looks gorgeous. I used what I had on hand, but if I were going to redo this, I would have used a super wide ribbon. I love 2 and 3 inch wide ribbons. 
  • Match the ribbon color to the card for super pro bonus points. It just looks nice. 

Happy wrapping, my friends! 

Kyle 

 

Dudely Christmas gifts under $30 - a simple christmas gift guide for the man in your life

christmas shopping for men - gift ideas under $30

A few days ago, I mentioned how much I love Christmas shopping for my family members and how I get it done in one day. That's true, but I will say that shopping for the men in our family is always the hardest. The real trouble with shopping for boyfriends, husbands, brothers, fathers, grandpas, and other dude people is that they're pretty practical. A lot of gifts by nature are not that practical. (See my last post about gifts under $10 for an example of how much women love trinket stuff.) Men aren't quite like that. 

So what do you get for the guy who doesn't want anything? For starters, chances are you don't have to get him anything. When my brother says he doesn't need or want anything, he really means it honestly and to the core of his being. So you could just listen to him and trust that he really meant it. But since you're being stubborn... Here are a few different routes you can take when choosing gifts for the men in your life.

Route #1: Ask yourself, "what does he need?"

You've got to think like a man to shop like a man. A lot of men are practical beings. They like stuff they can use. They like stuff they need. (Hey even underwear can make a great gift if you're shopping for the right guy.) Maybe he needs a new pair of jeans, or a few more ties for work. Maybe he needs some winter gloves, or a scraper for his car.

Wow, an ice scraper. That’s romantic.
— No one ever

Ok ok so you and I agree that's kind of a boring gift, but if he needs it, he might like it. Only you know your guy well enough to make that call. 

ROUTE #2: ASK YOURSELF, "WHAT DOES HE ENJOY?"

Usually when we suck at buying gifts, it's because we don't understand what someone enjoys. (Example: I get nervous every time I have to shop for my nephews because I'm not actually sure what an 8-year-old boy enjoys. I'm told that it usually involves Nerf, I think.) 

When it comes to shopping for your man, think about what he loves to do. My husband loves his guitar, music, soccer, teaching science, and traveling. Oh, and coffee. The man likes his coffee. Chances are, I can't afford a trip to Cuba right now (although it's on my list of future travel stops...) but I can afford to commemorate some of our favorite travel memories in frames for his classroom. I can't get him a new guitar, but I know he might need a tuner or some picks. I can't send him to a soccer game, but I could get him the latest gear with his favorite team on it. 

Route #3: Who says only men can do the romancing? take him on a date

Setting aside time together is always a good option for boyfriends and husbands. Some of my best memories with Josh are just chatting over dinner. Take him to a movie he's been dying to see, and buy the cancer-causing popcorn with the extra butter. Take him to the best spot in town for a beautiful steak dinner. I love steak as much as any man... that one might be a selfish suggestion. On his own, he's unlikely to spoil himself with such luxuries. When it's a gift, he loves it. 

Without further ado, a few gift ideas i'm loving

(P.s. check out my Pinterest board with gift ideas under $40 for a few more selections) 

holiday gift guide under $40 for men

1. Navy blue double wall traveler mug from Starbucks - $14.95

I know quite a few guys that really love their coffee. I love the matte look of this mug with the subtle Starbucks logo... in case he likes to embrace his inner basic white girl. 

2. Primary dot skinny tie in dark clover from the Tie Bar - $19

I LOVE THE TIE BAR. If you've never searched The Tie Bar, they have just about a billion colors of ties, bow ties, tie bars, and pocket squares. Sure, about 50% of the designs are garish, but it's a really great place for affordable skinny ties. Great for the guy who wears one to work every day. 

3. Gunmetal soy wax candle tin in tobacco and vanilla from Amazon - $28.45

My sister bought this for her boyfriend and every time I go to his house I can't get enough. It's a subtle, welcoming, and dudely scent. A fix for stinky bachelor pads of all types with a really great "gender neutral" scent. 

4. Scratch off world map from Urban Outfitters- $24

I realize this is only really good for the travel geek, but I love it so much. I wish I had purchased this when I was still a teacher. My husband and I like to travel together whenever possible. This would be a fun way to commemorate our trips together.

5. Men's daily beanie in gray from Neff - $11.87

My husband owns a few beanies, and he always comes back to this one. I used to think only girls had tricks for covering up greasy hair, but it turns out beanies are a great out for men too. 

6. Photo poster from Social Print Studio - $25

If you've never gotten prints from Social Print Studio, you should definitely think about it. They're famous for printing Instagram prints. This poster collage would be a great wall filler for an office, home, dorm, or other space. Also a great way to combine and celebrate dozens of memories.

 

Hopefully you've got a few ideas of how you can spoil the guys you love this year. If you need a few more ideas, check out my Pinterest board with gifts under $40

Kyle 

 

 

The very best holiday Gifts Under $10 - A Christmas gift guide for serious budgets

The very best holiday gifts under $10 - a Christmas gift guide for serious budgets

Hello, holiday season. I don't know about you, but I'm one of those people who loves giving gifts, but fails to give any because I don't have the cash for it. Last week I spent probably a full day looking for affordable gifts. I went to Pinterest (my arch nemesis... I have Pinterest issues... Pissues? But that's a topic for another day...) and searched "Gifts under $10." After several hours of worthless internet browsing, I noticed a few trends:

  • a lot of the "under $10 gifts" were handmade
  • an awful lot involved some kind of pun (We wisk you a Merry Christmas!)
  • the majority were food items like popcorn, trail mix, chocolate, and cookies
  • don't hate me for saying this, but I didn't actually want any of them

Not that I hate handmade gifts (hello, I make cards for a living. I'm not against making stuff.) And I really enjoy food-- it's just that the holidays seem to be so saturated with food that I usually want something else. So I spent even more hours scouring the internet to put together a list of under $10 gifts that were none of the things I kept seeing. (THANKS FOR NOTHING, PINTEREST.) Keep an eye out for more lists in the coming weeks! In the meantime, leave me a comment with your best under $10 gift suggestions! And check out my holiday gifts under $20 board on Pinterest. 

holiday or Christmas gifts under $10

1. You are loved art print from Paper Source - $4.95

Under $5? Are you kidding me? I wish I had found this when I was still a teacher. I definitely would have put it in my classroom. At that price, you can probably even afford a frame, and possibly even some gold spray paint to match the gold text.

2. Limited Edition Golden Monogram Mug from Anthropologie - $10 

IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY SEEN THIS MUG, HONESTLY, DO YOU EVEN USE THE INTERNET? This mug is everywhere. In addition to being pinned a million billion trillion times, I've this mug pop up in makeup tutorial videos (I'm looking at you, Kathleen Lights) and about a dozen other places. Because it's cute, gold, monogrammed, and $10. I can think of approximately 3 girls that wouldn't appreciate this mug. 

3. Bath bombs from Lush - $6.55-$7.50

Most (all?) bath bombs from Lush are under $10. I'm not typically a bath girl-- I live in an apartment and I get creeped out thinking who else might have used my tub. But I've given several bath bombs as gifts (maybe even turned one friend into an addict?) and I know bunches of girls who love them. Here are a few of my favorites!

I once gave this to a very dear friend... never mind the sexual title. Her husband might have been creeped out, but this pink and girly bath bomb is a best seller that practically has a cult following on the internet thanks to its great scent. 

This bath bomb is peppermint scented, has neon colors, and bunches of gold glitter dust. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Definitely for that one friend who does whatever she likes and cares not what the world thinks of her.

Lavender scented with pretty purple tones. Hello. Delicious. Calming. (You heard me say Lavender, right?) 

4. Umbrella ring dish from Anthropologie - $8 

This little ring dish has been around for what seems like forever. (I think I saw it on Anthro's website when I got engaged? I might be making that up.) I love the polka dots. I love the teal. I love that it's an umbrella. If I had a BFF that was recently engaged, I would totally be buying this for her Christmas gift this year. 

5. Painted Brushstrokes spiral notebook from Paper Source - $9.95

This notebook is pretty enough to make me want to be a student again... almost. I love the colors, the gold, and the kraft paper background. Plus the inside has a pop of pink on every page. 

Need more ideas? I have several other gift lists coming in the next few days and weeks. Until then, you can browse my Holiday gifts under $20 board on Pinterest (for those with slightly more spendy budgets.) 

Kyle 

 

Decorating for Christmas early is NOT a crime, unless there is a lot of glitter involved. +free phone, tablet, and computer backgrounds to hold you over in the meantime

Decorating for Christmas early is not a crime unless there is a lot of glitter involved

I don't know about you, but I am DYING to put up my Christmas tree. It's like this itch I just need to scratch. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I've been preparing Christmas products since early September????)

There's just one problem: my sweet husband is not a huge fan of the glitter that covers our apartment for two months every year. And I don't blame him. It's not the most dudely thing ever to go to work with little bits of glitter somehow stuck to your face. (Why does that happen, anyway? It's not like he ever touches the tree. Yet little bits of Christmas magic find their way to his face.) 

Soooo I am refraining from putting up the tree until after Thanksgiving. It's the least I can do to spare him a little bit longer. (I mean, if the radio has yet to torture me with the 24/7 Christmas music that really gets on my nerves, I can probably wait a little longer on the glitter decorations. Sorry guys I just can't do 24/7 Christmas music. It makes me crazy.) 

So today I turned my pink poinsettias Christmas card into a pattern you can use to decorate your phone, tablet, and laptop. It's the least Christmas-y of my Christmas designs, so it won't annoy even the biggest Grinch in your life. And you can smile knowing that all the Christmas decorations in the world are coming oh so very soon! Just look at this. It's like wrapping paper for your phone:

pink poinsettias Christmas iPhone and laptop background

More Christmas goodness is one the way ever-so-soon, at a more acceptable date when no one will judge you for it. Enjoy the week, friends! 

-Kyle 

The best Christmas card ever: How to turn any card into a gorgeous photo card worth keeping, because Grammies, Mawmaws, and Nanas everywhere will appreciate the effort

the best Christmas card ever: how to turn any card into a gorgeous photo card worth keeping

I released a line of Christmas cards this week, and a lot of people have asked one question: 

LOVE THESE CARDS! How can I turn this into a photo card?
— Every person that has visited my website

Coincidentally, I had this post planned over a month ago to answer that very question. I'm so glad I did, because many of you have asked. (PSST! If you like the cards in this photo, scroll to the bottom of this post to get 10% off now through November 25!) 

For this project, I used the following items: 

Materials used to DIY photo Christmas cards

 

I am not being paid to support any of these products. I just like to make sure you know exactly what I used and where I can find it if you want to try it, too! 

I'm sure you've figured out by now just what I did: use photo corners to hold photos inside my cards. So that's really the only step involved here. However, I do have a few pieces of advice about how to get the best results.

Tip #1: Put the corners on the Photograph first

Photo corners are small, sticky, and a pain in the rear to position correctly. So, instead of sticking the photo corners inside the card (and then discovering you didn't align them properly) there is a better way:

Put photo corners on the photograph and THEN place the photograph in the card.

Look at the top right corner of this photograph. The corner is already in place; it just needs three more photo corners. Then place it in your card. 

How to use photo corners properly

Tip #2: Use the photograph to pick up corners off their backing

It also helps to insert the edge of the photograph into the photo corner, and then lift the corner off the backing. (The other, poorer option, is to peel off the corners with your fingers. But then they get stuck to your fingers, and they're annoying to work with. If you use the photo to lift the corners off their backing, it's a really simple and clean process!) 

TIP #3: What to consider when choosing tape or photo corners

I tried a few different kinds of corners because I wasn't sure which look I liked the best. Black photo corners reminded me of my childhood. They're a little old-fashioned, and that's exactly why I like them. White photo corners still had an old-timey feel to them, but they're less distracting. They do a better job of letting the photograph shine. Clear photo corners are the least-distracting option of all. They can be hard to see, though, which means your recipients might not realize they can remove and keep the photograph. Double-sided tape ended up being my least favorite option, because it ruined the photograph when I tried to take it out of the card. That means Grandma might not be able to keep the photograph and put it on her fridge after the holidays. When making the decision, it's really up to what you like best. 

Here is an example using black photo corners by Forever in Time

Example of Christmas card using black photo corners

Here is an example using the white photo corners by Forever in Time

Example using white photo corners by Forever in Time

And finally, here is an example using Scotch clear photo corners, for the cleanest/least obvious look: 

Using Scotch clear photo corners to create a family Christmas card

So there you have it: turn any card into the best Christmas card ever. This could also be a nice way to affix a gift card inside a Christmas card. I would love to see if anyone tries this project for their family cards this year! Send me a picture via private message on my Instagram, or shoot me an email at kyle@sommerletterco.com. 

-Kyle 

P.s. As a side note, I intentionally left the insides of my holiday cards blank when I designed them. I want you to have total control over what goes into your cards. While a holiday-related poem, a verse, or even a family photo can be lovely, I didn't want to dictate what made the most sense for you. Do you think I should offer photo cards next year? Let me know in the comments below!



2015 Christmas Card Reveal(!!!)

Sommer Letter Co. Christmas card reveal 2015

Woohoo! Yes! Hooray! I'm freakin' out over here! TODAY IS THE DAY I'm revealing the designs for my 2015 collection of Christmas cards! These cards will be available for sale TOMORROW (November 10)!! Click the play icon to watch the video below and see all the goods! 

Ahh! I am still super embarrassed/awkward in front of a camera. Thanks so much for watching anyway. I would LOVE to hear your feedback in the comments below. Which design is your favorite? (I already told you mine: I love the red "Christ the savior is born!" card the best. Just don't tell the other cards I said that...)

Kyle

P.s. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

P.p.s. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Bonus/embarrassing fact: I did go to Target the other day and check out the Christmas card aisle and I have to say that Target has a lot more Christmas cards that are both true to Christmas and beautiful this year. I'm not a total hater. And I'm happy to see more stuff I like in stores!