2 in 1: Seasonal Photo Board Displays

Photo Boards Michelle Chahine Sinno

This week in experiments with work-life balance: taking the time to organize photos and display them on boards at home.

Work-life balance, to me, is all about getting out of the haze of everyday life. The haze that fills your day, so that sometimes you get from breakfast to bedtime without being present in the hours in between. It’s the same haze that leads you to go months and months without organizing your photos and photo albums–especially in the digital age.

Thanks to high quality cameras in smartphones, we’re all able to take as many photographs as we want, whenever we want. This also leads to a problem: We end up having so many pictures that we often don’t even look at or enjoy any of them. The goal of a picture is to capture a special memory or moment so that we can look back on it and appreciate the richness of our lives. If we get so overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of pictures on our devices, and we don’t end up curating them, editing them, and displaying them in any physical form, we end up missing out in a very real way.

Most homes have photos scattered across it, usually in semi-permanent frames, placed in semi-permanent spots. Gretchen Rubin writes about this in her book, Happier at Home:

“…because these photos were a permanent part of our apartment landscape, we usually walked right by them without seeing them. How could I focus our attention on our photographs? I had an idea. I’d create a new holiday photo gallery.

She uses holidays like Halloween and Valentine’s Day to update all the photographs in her home so that her family can enjoy and reflect on new memories every few weeks.

“The collection made a terrific seasonal decoration,” she adds, “And because these photos weren’t always on display, we paid special attention to them.”

I’ve always loved having cork boards at home to pin inspirational reminders on, in scrapbook manner. So, inspired by Rubin’s seasonal photo displays, I though a great way to display seasonal photo galleries would be on boards. I bought two from The Container Store that I hung up near my desk a couple of years ago, with the goal of rotating photographs on them. That would solve two problems. It would both help me stay on track with all the pictures I take, and it would help us keep our best memories and moments part of our everyday life.

Now, the rotation didn’t happen nearly often enough.

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Yes, I know they’re crooked here! It’s an old photo 😛 “Done is better than perfect!”

I did successfully change all the photographs before the Christmas holidays as part of our decoration the last two Decembers, but my goal is to change the images on a monthly basis–not just once in a while. The advent of Spring this week inspired me to just do it. One of the common excuses, of course, is that there just isn’t enough time to wade through thousands of photographs for a new collection every month. But that breaks an important rule I’ve written about before: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

So, keeping in mind that if I didn’t take the time one evening to just do it, we’d likely go another month–well into the spring–with images of us in the snow and sweaters on the boards, I picked a few of my favorite photos from the last few weeks, along with some great photos from previous springs, and went straight to CVS to develop them. (Shutterfly.com is the best option, I think, when you’ve planned ahead).

Then, I took around twenty minutes to arrange them on the boards, and it gave me great pleasure.

In Happier at Home, Rubin explains the whole reason she decided to write that book:

“I realized that of the many elements that influenced my happiness, my home–in all its aspects–was most important.”

And she shares a quote from British literary giant Samuel Johnson, that seems to put into words an underestimated truth:

“To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”

That’s why one section on this blog is dedicated to “Home,” and why it’s important we take the time to enjoy it and make it reflect the best parts of ourselves.

 

FLowers in pellegrino bottleP.S. I love embracing new seasons all over the home! Here’s my small, cheerful ode to spring on the bathroom sink.

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Going Seasonal Part 2: Special, Simple Fall Recipes

fall-soups-seasonal-michelle-chahine-sinno

As I shared last week, I think going seasonal is a key part of achieving work-life balance. It’s all about taking the time to appreciate the moment, what’s going on around you, and being part of something bigger than your day-to-day.

One of the best ways of embracing any season, of course, is to cook with the foods that are unique to it. What comes to mind during the fall, immediately? Apple, pumpkins, all kinds of squash, sweet potatoes…

This past weekend, I made two fall soups and have been eating them over the past few days: Butternut Squash Soup and Sweet Potato Soup. I removed my wisdom teeth and wanted to make good food I would enjoy, rather than just eat yogurt or ice cream for a week (though I’ve certainly had some!). This was the perfect excuse to try 2 new recipes from The Whole30 cookbook that I’ve been meaning to try.

Both recipes were delicious, but I actually modified the sweet potato soup. I wanted it much thicker (almost a puree), so I increased the sweet potato v. liquid ratio. And I changed the spicing too.

It only takes about 5 minutes to chop, 20 minutes to cook (you don’t need to be standing over the pot), and then about 5-10 minutes to puree and finish up. Here’s my version:

Thick Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup coconut milk (important: from a can, usually in the international/Asian foods aisle of the supermarket)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat until it melts and is no longer solid.

Add the sweet potatoes and stir for about a minute.

Add the cinnamon, 3 cups of water and 1 cup of coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potato pieces are cooked through.

Let the pot cool completely. Then in batches, puree the sweet potato/liquid mixture in a food processor (or blender). Return the soup to the pot and add the salt and pepper. Heat through.

Garnish with a pinch of cinnamon in each bowl when you serve.

 

Bonus:

Here’s a delicious recipe from my former grad school classmate: Maple and Brown Sugar Roasted Acorn Squash. (This recipe isn’t Whole30 but the soup above is.) I love how beautiful this dish looks:

beautiful-maple-acorn-squash-recipe

  • Slice 1 Acorn Squash across as rings, 1-1.5 inch thick
  • Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper.
  • Roast 15 min on one side at 400°, then flip them, sprinkle with brown sugar and a little butter, and roast again for 10 more min.
  • Drizzle with maple syrup before serving.

 


Read: 6 Tips for Going Seasonal Part 1: Home Accents & Decoration for the Fall