Who needs a Fitbit when you’ve got a 2 year old obsessed with bike rides?!

But seriously, we finally purchased bikes after debating their worth ever since we moved in January, and we’ve used them several times a week ever since. I’m hopeful it continues, and Alwyn is even more hopeful every bike ride leads to a pit stop at our favorite ice cream spot. Naturally, a bike ride instigated by a cranky 2 year old lead to a great opportunity to snap a selfie this month.

October was great (though busy and fast) and I’m excited to see what a hopefully slower November brings. I love this time of year.

2014 October Self Portrait of Monthly Series

November goals:

  • A book I want to read: Gone Girl (apparently I’ve been missing out)

  • A craft I want to do: Family handprint turkeys (idea from here)

  • A “skill” I want to work on: Slowing down.

  • An activity I want to do more often: Dancing to music with my boys.

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Kiwi Crate Family Brands >>


It has been honor to be a part of the Becky Higgins Creative Team this year, and with the end of the year fast approaching, submissions for the new team are now open!

One of the big requirements for being on the team is photographing your layouts at home and submitting them. Since I see so many questions about how best to do this around the web, today I’m sharing how I photograph mine.

5 Tips for Photographing Project Life Spreads

A Good Location to Photograph | I have a large set of windows in the our living room that lets in great afternoon light. It’s about the only spot in my house I can shoot adequate layout photos in. If it wasn’t for this spot, I’d likely shoot outdoors in the shade. I aim for a area that is near bright light but not *in* direct light. I always make sure to turn off any lights in the room, including the flash on the camera.

Finding a consistent time of day is helpful as well. I actually have better lighting from this window in the evening, but naptime for my youngest works better for me.

On White Background | White is my personal choice. Wood, carpet, a rug, tile. It all works as long as it doesn’t distract from the spread. I like to stick to white though to keep it clean and consistent. Last year I had a white kitchen table I photographed on, but this year I purchased a large white poster board from Hobby Lobby for under $5. What I love most about it is that it’s a tri-fold and I can bend the ends to create reflectors, which helps brighten the image.

Distractions | While in-person, the backs of cards and photos from the previous and following pages doesn’t bother me. But in a photo of a layout, they can be distracting. For this reason, I often remove the cards from the backsides of the layout before photographing them. It takes a little extra time, but is worth it. See an example below.

5 Tips for Photographing Project Life Spreads

Out of the Album | This isn’t necessary when you only have a few pages in an album. But once you’re several spreads in, the pages stop laying quite as flat as they once did. For this reason, I now always remove them before photographing them. It also helps to get rid of distractions that may show through from other pages.

Eliminating Glare on those Pocket Pages | The most frustrating part of photographing layouts for me is the glare. Most often this happens on the top of the pocket pages, or the area closest to the window. Below is an example of my usual glare problem.

5 Tips for Photographing Project Life Spreads

I’ve found the easiest way to eliminate the glare is to gently bend the tops of the pages so that they lay flatter. If the tops of the pages concave slightly, I get glare from the windows, but if I make them bend more convexly, the glare goes away. Watch the short video below to see an example of what I mean.

Hopefully that helps, but if you still struggle with glare after attempting this, taking the photos and cards out of the pocket page and laying them on top can work well too.

To see more of my 2014 Project Life album, click here.

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Unplanned, last minute photos of my boys always turn out to be my favorites. Maybe they have less time to catch a hint of my ulterior motives and therefore are more cooperative. I’m not sure.

We headed out for a morning walk, turned mini-photoshoot last Saturday, stopping for McDonalds hotcakes and orange juice on the way. If only I had realized how desperate they both had been for haircuts prior to taking the photos. Oh, details…

DonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family PhotographerDonyaLuana Spring Family Photographer DonyaLuana Spring Family Photographer DonyaLuana Spring Family Photographer DonyaLuana Spring Family Photographer

ps. Hard to believe THIS was a whole year ago.

pss. A peek behind the scenes (thanks to my husband) here.

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Happy Tuesday!

I’m sharing a spread I created with some awesome One Little Bird elements this week, so head on over to Peppermint’s blog to see the details of how this spread came together.

Donya Luana One Little Bird Creative Team

Supplies Used:


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At the beginning of this year I began using a paper planner. Again. It had been several years since I’d used one (probably college), and Google Calendar had been working well for me. But there is one big reason I need a paper calendar: I need a physical to do list. I need to write it all out and I need to cross it all off.

So back to a paper planner I went. I chose the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley late last year, primarily because I’d been following her work for several years and have always admired her designs, but also because I love the way the pages are laid out. Like they were designed for the way my brain works. I have used it daily for 10.5 months now and I still love it. So much so that I already have my 2015 Simplified Planner in hand and ready to go.


This month I’m taking a Studio Calico class called Agenda. The class focuses on how to set up and get the most out of your planner, but to be completely honest, it was the exclusive stamp set that came with the class I was most interested in. And not for my planner, I just wanted the stamps for scrapbooking.

But when the class began I was blown away by the inspiration and customization I saw with those using the binder/filofax planners. Five minutes of planner envy later and my creative juices started flowing. I didn’t have the ability to add new pages to my spiral planner, but I wanted to make my planner work for me. Even more so than it already was.


I did this by using two transparent cards from the Heidi Swapp Overlay Value Kit to create a “today” tab and a “dashboard”. Following this tutorial, I hole punched one side of the cards and cut out small slits so they could be easily added and moved around in my planner. That “today” tab is super convenient when I flip over the monthly page view.


For the dashboard I cut a piece of vellum paper the same size as the overlay and punched matching holes. Then I stamped the cups onto the vellum and paper clipped the vellum behind the transparency so I can write on it daily and erase it when I’m done. I am notoriously awful when it comes to water intake, so tracking how much water I’m drinking daily is a biggie for me. It’s also a great spot for little reminders I might overlook on my normal to do list, or general reminders like remembering to smile. :)


At the back of my planner I keep a separate calendar (I use this ‘month at a glance’ printable) to keep track of my blog posts. A folded 8.5×11 piece of paper fits perfectly back there, but it’s hard to see it without a tab. I created the tab using a Project Life card from the Strawberry Kit, and just stapled it onto one of the papers that I keep a year long list of post ideas on.

Are you a paper planner user? What do you do to make your planner work for you?

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