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The Ultimate Photo Book Guide

The two topics that I receive most questions about (via Instagram’s Direct Message or email) are printing photo books and managing photo storage. Alas, a post that covers both in great detail is very overdue, but actually very timely, given that most people start to think about printing photo books at the end of every year. Plus, most photo sites have great discounts right now (50% off everything at Mixbook until 1/1/18 at midnight, 50% off everything at Shutterfly until 12/28/17 at midnight, etc.).

If you’re new to Snapshots & My Thoughts, then you may not know about my love obsession with photo books. I started printing them in 2006, during my first year in college, and have printed many ever since. Beginning in 2010 (the year I graduated), I began to make an annual photo book in Shutterfly. I would pick a theme, but customize almost every page to my liking. Looking back at the early books, the designs are cringe-worthy but I absolutely love them. I would also print books for vacations and other special events. In 2013, I decided to do a photo-a-day book for Isla, which was quite the undertaking. I am so glad that I documented every day, because it’s amazing to watch her grow page by page, but with sweet Emilia, I am doing a photo-a-week, and you can see the transformation just the same (with much less work involved!). I will share these layouts below!

Every year, I would update the annual book at the end of every month, occasionally falling a month behind but always staying rather up-to-date. Well 2017 happened – a second baby, a busy work schedule and a husband who travels every week for week and alas, my fancy, customized-per-page Shutterfly book didn’t happen. Which I’m still coming to terms with, since I’m one for consistency and routine! I did, however, fall in love with another company in the transition.

I was introduced to Artifact Uprising a few years ago, as I used them to make our Christmas card in 2015. Last year, I decided to invest in one of their layflat books (which are pricier than Shutterfly, beginning at $179 for the 8.25×11 size that I love) for our family photos. Then in February, I chose to print Emi’s newborn photos in another layflat book and seeing the quality of these two ultra-thick, fabric bound books, I was hooked. I printed five layflat books total in 2017!

Fast forward to November 1st, I had this huge cloud hanging over my head: our annual photo book, which had two months of content in it, needed lots and lots of work (and time!). October through December are my busiest months, and I knew I couldn’t spend the time I needed to make the Shutterfly book I wanted. The obvious alternative was Artifact Uprising, as I knew if I couldn’t have ultra-designed, I wanted ultra-simple and white. I couldn’t wrap my head around spending $250+ on each book (I knew I’d need multiple books for how many photos I took this year). I decided to try their hardcover books, which begin at $79 for an 8.5×11 book. I chose the 50 page option, which allows you to fill 99 pages, and managed to get January through March photos included. Filling the pages went so quickly, and you can even chose auto-fill. I’ll go into detail on the uploading process below. I ended up having five books total, but could have done less if I had chosen to do the 150 page option for each instead (allowing you 199 pages) of 50 (allowing 99).

All in all, I am so in love with our 2017 annual photo books. It was not the cheapest option, but I used two Artifact Uprising coupons to bring down the cost (more on coupons in the FAQ section below!). I know that the interest in printing photo books is out there, as people always reply to my Instagram posts or stories saying that much. So, I pray that this post helps move you to action! Print those photos – whether that be prints or books. I love Artifact Uprising’s motto: Inspired by the disappearing beauty of the tangible. I stand behind that – if photos stay on digital devices, we are slowly losing the beauty of the tangible printed photos, which tell stories that generations beyond us can cherish.

There is a lot of content in this blog post. First, I’ll cover details on the books I’ve printed before: annual Shutterfly photo books, photo-a-day/week Shutterfly photo books,annual photo books using Artifact Uprising hardcover photo books and special occasion Artifact Uprising layflat photo books. This is probably my most personal post ever, as I’m actually sharing links to many of our family’s books. Let me tell you: when I made them, I had no intention of them ever being viewed by anyone outside of close family or friends, so they include very personal photos and details, but I really do want to help inspire people to make books, so I feel like it’s important to do this.

So, let’s begin!

Babbleboxx Kidspiration: New Products We’re Loving!

Earlier this month, I received a Babbleboxx delivery – a box filled with fun, educational toys for Isla, gorgeous sparkling ballet flats, a pretty-patterned and very useful duffel, and a few other exciting items that I’ll go into further detail on below.

I loved everything we received and I plan on gifting several of the items to the little ones in our family for Christmas this year.


Helio: Night Light Projection

Of all the items in this Babbleboxx, the Helio projector is our favorite. This award-winning children’s educational night light projection system has a number of different screens you can put on that projects different lessons onto the ceiling (or a wall would work too!). Isla loves having a night light, and this has replaced her old Paw Patrol one. She learned every planet (Pluto, Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, Mercury, the Sun! I’ve got them down too!) within the first week of using the projector. It’s amazing. We’ve moved onto different animals and how long they sleep for, and I’ve ordered a few discs from their site: Addition and Nursery Rhymes.

New Mom Care Package (Plus, $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!)

I recently announced on Instagram that I had one of my best friends, Sydney, join the Snapshots by Ailee Petrovic team (now officially a team, since there are two of us!). Sydney has been helping me with getting contracts setup, social media management, organizing my photography course and editing the material, working on a newborn photography guide, and lots of other incredibly helpful tasks! Today, Sydney is publishing her first blog post – something near and dear to both of us, since we both have little ones under 1 – what to send/gift to a mom with a new baby. She has the best ideas and explains why a new mom would need each item! I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did. To celebrate Sydney’s first post, we’re doing a Pinterest giveaway with a $100 Amazon gift card prize! All you have to do is pin the graphic above and follow me (Snapshots & My Thoughts) on Pinterest! Enter below! Good luck and happy reading.What to include in a new mom care package - essentials for the early days on www.SnapshotsandMyThoughts.com

1 Slippers // 2 Face Masks // 3 Candle // 4 Eye Masks // 5 Robe // 6 Hat // 7 Water Bottle // 8 Mini-Wine Bottles // 9 Dry Shampoo // 10 Hand Sanitizer // 11 Lotion // 12 Amazon Gift Card and/or Starbucks Gift Card // 13 Pacifier Clips // 14 Sanitizing Bags // 15 10-Ft Charging Cable // 16 Mom’s One Line a Day // 17 Philosophy Bubble Bath // 18 Bringing Up Bebe // 19 KIND Bars


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On June 17th, I became a mom to my precious baby boy, Camden, and I can tell you, it is the greatest joy I have ever felt. He is the biggest blessing in our lives and every time he smiles, I just melt.

As a new mom myself, I certainly know how hard those first few days and weeks (and let’s be honest, months) can be for new Mommas. I couldn’t have done it without my family and friends supporting me and Philip, my amazing husband, throughout the entire process. I can’t say thank you enough for every late night that my mom stayed up with Cam while I took a quick “nap” (ie – laid in bed and looked at pictures of him), for every text and phone call with my girlfriends who are already moms who shared their guidance and experiences with me to make me feel more normal, and for every meal that our friends and family brought over so I didn’t have to think about cooking… I could go on and on, but I have felt so loved!

Regaining Confidence Post-Baby with SmileDirectClub

Being able to carry a baby is not something I take for granted. I am so, so incredibly grateful for my two daughters and am in awe that our bodies are able to create and grow human life. I am not one who loves being pregnant, but I pray that we’ll be able to go through that journey again at least one more time (calm down, Sasha!). Like everyone else, I try to embrace my growing curves during pregnancy, as that’s a part of the process. After giving birth to both girls, I was on a postpartum high for awhile – especially with Emi. We went on a long walk to the neighborhood park with her only 31 hours after she was born! I was able to workout until the very last day with both girls, so while I was not in peak shape (ha), I felt in shape going into labor. And then baby… and there goes your time (and ability to exercise for awhile!). With both girls, I distinctly remember seeing photos about 5 or 6 weeks postpartum and thinking, “Is that really how I look?!?” Pregnancy had left me with terrible melasma (discoloration on my face, which is very typical for pregnant women to get) and varicose veins, breastfeeding had put stretch marks on my boobs, middle of the night feeds had created deep bags under my eyes, lack of exercise had soften any remaining muscle, and overall exhaustion had seemed to suck the life out my skin (hello, wrinkles!). Things that once never bothered me now did, and I realized that my confidence had taken a big hit. Again, all of this was so worth it! I realize that!

Emi’s Closet Organization

Earlier this week, @ProjectNursery posted a photo of Emi’s closet (taken before she was born!), which is always exciting to see. As a result, I’ve gotten a lot of emails asking about where I got various organizational products. When I posted her nursery photos earlier this year, they spurred many of the same questions. Since I bought most of the items in-store at The Container Store, it wasn’t very easy to find them on site, but I finally tracked everything down and it’s all linked below!

I am not the most organized person, but since this closet is hyper-organized, it has been so easy to maintain. Everything has it’s proper place, so when I’m putting things away, I know exactly where to put it. Bottle components on the right, diapers, shoes on the left. Swaddles, swaddle sacks, baby-wearing in the tubs, clothes hung up by size. It’s also easier for me to put things away now that I’ve put away all newborn to six month clothing. I love Emi’s little room and her closet – it calms my OCD soul! Ha. I hope the links below are helpful! Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.


Components of Emi’s Closet

1) elfa utility Medium Basket White // 2) Blank Closet Rod Divider  // 3) elfa utility Large Mesh Basket White // 4) Men’s Drop-Front Shoe Box Translucent // 5) Kid’s Huggable Hangers in Ivory (some with Ultra Slim Finger Clips) // 6) elfa utility Small Basket White // 7) elfa Utility Media Rack White // 8) elfa utility Square Box Translucent // 9) 3-Drawer Storage Chest (I didn’t add the wheels) // 10) 77-3/4″ elfa Mounted Standard White with elfa utility Residential Overdoor Hooks White Set of 2

Another amazing The Container Store find – 24-Pocket Mesh Overdoor Shoe Bag White – for our bows!! I got a lot of questions about this when I posted it to Instagram as well!