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.

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.


The Happier Podcast: A Happier Drive

Gretchen Rubin Happier Instagram
From @gretchenrubin on Instagram.

In seeking work-life balance, a major “Happiness Stumbling Block” can be time spent in the car, in traffic (especially if you live in the Los Angeles area).

I see this most prominently with my husband. He has a long commute, and was lamenting last fall about what we could do if he had the time he spent in the car for something else. Full disclaimer, the commute is a strategic choice: to leave by the beach, which he feels is a huge boost to work-life balance. Still, it got me thinking: how could that time be transformed from annoying and wasteful to, at the very least, productive, maybe even enjoyable.

Around that time, I was also contemplating how to embrace nighttime walks when I was tired after a long day at work, which were often cold. I wanted to do right by my pup and give him long walks, but I also found myself rushing to get back home and do all the things I needed to do every evening. (I wrote about this last month too). That was when I found the solution to both our quandaries: Podcasts.

I know, I’m a bit late to the game, but not that late actually. It feels like the podcast market is just exploding, or perhaps I feel that way because two of my favorite women writers started ones last year: Elizabeth Gilbert and Gretchen Rubin. I had been seeing posts on social media about them and was eager to listen. So, I suggested the idea to my husband, who often listens to Serial and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk. And I began my Podcast journey with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons every evening as I walked my dog.

Work-Life Balance Tip: Is there time you have to spend driving (or doing something else) that you feel is wasted? Find a podcast you enjoy to make the most of it.

Then, I decided to take it a step further. Even though I don’t quite have Nadim’s commute, I still do spend A LOT of time in the car– more than I want to. So at the beginning of February, I decided to play “Happier” with Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft every time I had a drive longer than 10 minutes. I am now averaging a podcast per day, to catch up, and I can’t wait to get in the car.


Every evening, or morning, when it’s time for me to drive to my work out, or run errands, go to the supermarket, take my dog to the vet, I play “Happier.” And now it’s become precious time that I enjoy. (Interestingly, Elizabeth Craft talks about this in one of the episodes.)

Already a big fan of Gretchen Rubin’s work, I love everything about the podcast from the “Try this at home tips,” to advice on knowing myself better, to being mindful about when I make mistakes with “Happiness demerits” so that I can reflect on them in hopes of doing better next time, to the casual conversation between two sisters.

It’s going to be bittersweet when I’m all caught up in around a month’s time. It’ll be fun to listen to the latest episode in real-time and join their conversation online, but I also won’t have a stock to listen to every day.

Work-Life Balance Tip: Not only is this podcast a great way to reflect on happiness, habits and work-life balance, it’s turned what would otherwise be a waste of time into something I look forward to every day. I highly recommend it to anyone thinking about and experimenting with balance, making the most of things and working hard to be happy.

You can subscribe here. 

Happier Gretchen Rubin Podcast