Ekk...Were Launching (AKA our first post) and more about us


Writing on the Wall

When I was three my mother found me crawling up a 2x12 plank to my father on the second floor of the house he was framing in. Even though she was petrified of heights and I was her baby, she didn't scream. Mom calmly told my Dad to turn around and call me to him (he had assured her he was watching me). I crawled right up to him and he picked me up. I'm sure she didn't bring me to a job site for a long time after that one.

Building stuff, remodeling, was just what we did in our family. Our own cutting boards, doll houses, you name it we did it ourselves. This was back before they called it "DIYing" and it was the cool thing to do. So when I ended up getting my degree in construction science and then a career in interior design, it wasn't a huge surprise to anyone.

Meanwhile, Mitch was building and rebuilding car engines in his fathers garage, eventually building (and subsequently crashing) his Camaro.

While we both were being brought up to DIY our way through this life, it wasn't until we met that our passion to create things really came to light.  So our love at first sight started with two German Shepherds, a 800 sf house we needed to remodel, and we haven't slow down after that.


The Whirlwind we call life

If you haven't been over to our Meet the Giants page yet you might not know that we are some tall people. Mitch and I stand at 6'5" and 6' respectfully, and we were both tall lanky kids who were teased for our heights. Before we met, neither of us had really dated others as tall as one another, but it was clear after we met that we had been made for one another.

launching post master gallery wall

We bought our small house here in Western Ma. in 2010, a year after we had met, and got married the year after that. We added three dogs to our pack, and starting breeding two of the German Shepherds in one of the odd front porches of our house.

launching post german shepherd puppy

We decided to get our very own 67' Chevy Bel Air Wagon car shortly after that.

launching post office right before it became our daughter's room

I left my interior design position to start my own business and just as we got everything set up for a home office in our second bedroom, we found out that we were expecting.

launching post office right before it became our daughter's room

So we're the neighbors on the block that always seem to have a few more projects going on, tons of things we still haven't finished, and its always entertaining to hear what we're up to next.

An Idea is Born

I can't peg exactly when the blog idea came about, but we started talking seriously about it once I got pregnant. We didn't have time to build up a good client base with the interior design business and it just didn't seem viable. If I went back to work the money would just go into the new babies childcare. That didn't seem to be the right thing for our family. We've been the types who are always working on something new and different, so the idea of staying at home and only raising our children didn't sit well with me either. (Silly naive me, staying at home and rising kids is two full time jobs as it is!)

So when our friends and family kept coming over and saying "show us what you've been working on lately" or other such remarks, it seemed maybe people would want to read our blog (jury is still out on that one). Hopefully we could inspire, insight, and help others with our journey.

Here are just a few of our projects completed in the past 6 years.

Left to right: our live edge dining room table, the repurposed window frame headboard, eclectic jewelry hanger, outdoor rolling cart, and our exterior porch remodel.

examples of our pre launching projects

Right after our daughter Haverly was born, we were going to start remodeling our front porches and make them into a front entryway and small home office. It seemed the best time to start the blog as well, so I went to work learning and taking classes. (Byregina.com was the biggest help ever). At the same time I was working with our long time friend and General Contractor to draft the plans for the remodel. Then, get them approved by the building department and finally pull permits.

Best intentions at launching but...

Needless to say , the blog didn't get up and running and had to be back burnered. My mother and her Weimaraner moved in for a bit. Which meant we now had five dogs and three adults in a two bedroom, one bath house.

launching post five dogs living in one small house

We had Haverly, and started demo and construction two weeks after she was born. Mitch then got a promotion to Sergeant, with a huge workload and extra time needed at the department. All the while Haverly had colic.

It was our normal crazy paced mess in this household, and we couldn't have been more thankful my mom moved in for a few months. We played pass the crying baby for two months, sounds fun right?

So here we are almost two years later, finally launching this blog that we hope you will continue to follow along with us. We would like to use this space to grow and learn in our adventures, impart any wisdoms (fails or wins), and spread some inspiration.

Our Motto

After years of this fast paced, diy lifestyle we have come to one conclusion. Perfection is overrated.

The key to us having a happy life and home is to embrace the imperfections. That lanky tall kid that everyone made fun of. The crazy couple who would move in with one another weeks after meeting. Who owns four dogs in an 800 sf home, and then breeds them, anyways?

german shepherd puppy

german shepherd puppy


Less Perfection = Loving Life and Home

Thats why at the bottom of most of our posts you will find a section that gives a little reality check. What went wrong, what we would do differently, or just how imperfect life is. Although we want to spread inspiration, we also want to contribute to this big world wide web in a way that honors real life.

In our real life the house is usually a mess, the dogs break things, the laundry is never really all done, we can't find our shoes because Haverly hid them, on and on. Thats what makes life interesting, the imperfections.


winter 2016 family picture

There is so much more we have done and that I wanted to put in this "first" post. I fear you won't ever come back if I continue to ramble on about us.

Follow along with us on this journey to wrap up old projects and  finish our spaces. we will be living this messy imperfect life and trying to inspire along the way.

Anybody else just launching a blog? We'd love to read along with yours!

Creating a Classic & Stunning Photo Yearbook


  After we had our daughter Haverly (have-er-lee) I started taking photo's like crazy, even borrowed a friends old DSLR for like a year (until she got together with other family & friends and they bought me my own for a 30th Birthday present). I knew I wanted to create the baby's first yearbook and then got to thinking about how much fun it was as a  young child to look at photos. But we don't really print photos anymore, just hand the few on our gallery wall. So how would Haverly ever get this same experience?

Mitch even grew up with the same experience, his Nana was big on taking photo's of the boys as they grew. She still currently has a photo album per year for there entire childhood.

So I set out to find a classic photobook, that was cost effective, and didn't have so many options my head was spinning. I stumbled upon MontageBook and the process sold me. Three books later (Our photos pre-baby, 2015's yearbook, and Haverly's baby book) and we couldn't be happier with the results.

yearbook photo books from Montagebook.com


What to put in your yearbook

yearbook photo books from Montagebook.com

Obviously we like these montagebooks or we wouldn't already have three of them, so making a yearbook in December is becoming a tradition of our's, that way we get the book by Christmas (or shortly after if I've been lazy), and they only take about 3-5 days to be printed and sent out.

If your asking "If its a yearbook wouldn't you wait until after the first of the year to order?" Then you would be correct, thats one way of doing things. We happen to like to review the year at Christmas with Haverly looking at pictures.

Therefore, our yearbook goes winter- winter and includes the previous years Christmas. That means our 2016 yearbook will have 2015's Christmas in it and run right up to the first or second week of December 2016.

I try not to take the yearbook too seriously, because then I'll try to make it perfect and you know how that goes... it never gets ordered and looked at because you can't get it just right. Or you miss the sale opportunity because you can't get it just right in time, so your waiting to order....and waiting.

Our "list" of must haves for the yearbook

  • Events (Weddings, Birthdays)
  • Milestones (Promotions, Births, Graduations)
  • Projects (Remodel Before & Afters, DIY's)
  • Time Sensitive (Pictures of your child playing with a toy they love and will outgrow by next year)
  • The Everyday (photos that you uploaded to Facebook & Instagram) This is about real life, not just picture perfect poses.

yearbook layouts with montagebook

In one of our books we put pictures of the litter our Sadie & Freeway made. Obviously these are not "our" dogs anymore, but we wouldn't want to miss telling Haverly about that time we were German Shepherd Breeders and how much fun it was to experience that.

yearbook layouts with montagebook

Also, our porch remodel we went through right after Haverly was born (like two weeks after!) It was such a significant time in our lives because it has changed the way we live in this household, we want to remember that.

yearbook layouts with montagebook

I'm sure as we continue archiving our projects with the blog we may not put as many examples of projects in our yearbooks, but it still is nice for us to look back on some adventures.

yearbook layouts with montagebook

How we Layout our Yearbook

This is similar to if you wanted to scrapbook or print and put together a photo album yourself. You can have:

  • Monthly spreads
  • Seasonal Sections
  • Chronological Order
  • All Mixed up

yearbook layouts with montagebook

I really wanted to go through all our pictures monthly and create spreads this year, but every month came to an end , and I hadn't done the work. Therefore, I just took all my photos for the year filed by date and start narrowing down from there.

yearbook layouts with montagebook

Managing your photo collection to make a yearbook


I've been using Lightroom for a few months and couldn't live without it. It catalogs all of my photos and I can create collections, keywords, etc. to keep things organized. I also do all of my edits in Lightroom at this point (I haven't gotten into Photoshop much yet).

I won't go in to too much detail but I will say if your looking for a program that can handle your ever growing collection of photos this is wonderful and at just 10$ a month for it, and Photoshop CC, so you can start editing and creating some amazing photos.

Apple Photos or iPhone

Before Lightroom I just used my apple photos app to manage and organize everything. Without having started this blog I may have always stuck with the photos app, it was just so intuitive and easy to use.

Amazon Prime Photos

If you don't have a Mac or iPhone and subsequently can't use apple's photos app, Amazon Prime photos has unlimited storage (with your prime membership) and it seems they just updated the app. All my phone's photos get backed up to Amazon as do most of my computers photos. The really nice thing about Amazon's photo storage is that Montagebook.com with pull directly from Amazon so you don't have to upload photos from your computer unless you would like too.

Using Filters or Presets

Most of us have used filters in one social media account or another, but they can tend to make our photos look a little fake. I've found a few options that work really well.

  • Lightroom CC already has presets loaded and you can start playing around there.
  • Pretty Presets has presets for Lightroom that have worked very well for me thus far.
  • VSCO is an robust app that you can use to apply filters to your photos and then adjust the intensity of the filter. I've used this app on many photos for our yearbooks and various social media posts.

Although you could theoretically apply one filter to all of your photos in Lightroom CC , I wouldn't recommend it. Your yearbook will be uniform, but some pictures will just loose there "reality", and the whole point of a yearbook is to accurately depict life correct?

So I use filters for my black and whites, and possibly for a yearbook spread or seasonal section.  I would pull all of my outside fall photos and apply a filter , and all my winter with another filter, etc.


How the process works with MontageBook

You Upload

  • Lightroom- I started with my 2016 photos, narrowed them down, and imported into MontageBook.com. This is the base of my yearbook, after I've uploaded and changed some of the yearbook pages I then...
  • Facebook- Look in my Facebook for any photos someone else possible posted that I didn't take or an event like a friends Wedding.
  • Amazon Prime- Finally I'll take a look at these photos for anything amazing from my I-phone that really needs to be in our yearbook to complete it.


Montage book upload process for yearbook


I've found that your uploads from your computer go into Montagebook by date, while subsequent uploads for Facebook, Amazon, or the other apps will not be added in chronological order. They must just get uploaded that way because they were organized chronologically.

Keep that in mind, if everything is mixed and you really wanted it to build in chronological order you will have a lot of moving photos on your hands.


montage book facebook upload process for yearbook


All in all, its really easy to get your photos onto the website, and they will auto create the pages for you to start with.


Front cover & Options

How can you not fall in love with a simple, streamlined, and fun cover like these? Its really easy to swap out photos .

montage book cover page shuffle


You can also create a whole other layout to your cover page by just hitting shuffle.


montage book cover page shuffle


Typically I'll go through and hit the shuffle until I find a cover that is close to complete. Then I go ahead and move a few of the photos in or out.


montage book cover page shuffle


Voila! A truly unique cover page with all your favorites.


Layout Themes

You can choose from a variety of themes for the layout of your photobook (White with gold, color blocking, modern patterns, grunge, geometric, etc). We've personally only ever used the magazine white and portfolio white for their simplicity and professional look.

MontageBook Theme Styles


The white space in this portfolio white can really help your photos pop

MontageBook Theme Styles



But a background can be nice if you are doing something specific like a baby book. Below the watercolor theme is really fun, especially for summer photos.

MontageBook Theme Styles


  • This process is almost done for you, especially if you can get over having everything be perfect and just go with it. In other programs it seems you have to change the photos and rearrange a lot. You end up sick of the photos you took before you even order the books!


Montage book creating the book


Heres the first pages straight from the app doing its thing:

our montage books first page rendered


This page should be relocated it's off chronologically but not by much. Montage book even makes that change simple and easy. You can grab thumbnails of the pages and move them around.

Our montage book third page rendered


Here is a winter scene from last year, MontageBook took all of the photos and made sure they were together. Not much I would have to do to edit something like this.

our montage book second page rendered


Layout changes

If you want to change around the layout of a particular spread, it as easy as hitting the button change layout.

Our montage book third page rendered


Below I deleted a photo off the page (I can always grab it and add it back into the book at anytime).

Montagebook deleteing a photo for layout change

And here I hit the change layout button again to get something I liked.

Montagebook changing a pages layout



Once your all done with a few adjustments, your all set to order. They have only a few extra options: a storage box, and premium paper. That makes ordering simple, and the end result a classic photo book with just enough variation.

We've found the 8x8's to be the perfect size, substantial enough without being this huge book that will never fit on a bookcase. When I ordered our 2016 yearbook the estimated delivery was mere 5 days later!


Reality Check

Although these are very fairly priced for the quality of product you get, I have to cut down how many photos I upload. The book's come with 20 pages and any after that would be extra (Even one spread for each month of the year will put you over the 20 pages). So you can easily get above and beyond the base price for the books.