Stories about sharing memories at home

Countdown to Thanksgiving

Mid-November already and only a couple short weeks before the big Thanksgiving celebration.  In the midst of planning, I was feeling good. With my list in hand, I began to review. Guest list? Check. Invitations? Check. Table settings? Check. Menu? Check. But, I wasn’t satisfied. There was something missing…

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and hosting is an activity that I enjoy very much as well. Any excuse to spend a bit of extra time together with my family and friends, I am all for. And that’s when it hit me: if you want something done right, DIY and make it custom.

DIY: Thanksgiving Food

First things first, a DIY recipe from a dear friend to get those creative Thanksgiving juices flowing. Warning, please be sure to not read further on an empty stomach: Freda’s Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving Recipe


DIY: Custom Thanksgiving Menus

You don’t have to be a professional graphic artist to create a beautiful, customized Thanksgiving dinner menu. Not only do they wrap up Thanksgiving dinner with a fun and personal touch, but they are sure to please even the most discerning Thanksgiving party hosts and goers. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Finalize your Thanksgiving menu
  2. Choose a customizable printable template. I found mine on Etsy.
  3. Update the template to include your menu items. Some templates welcome personal photography and could be a fun way to personalize further with this year’s holiday family photo.


  1. Finalize the template and print enough copies for each guest’s place setting. Simply select your preferred paper type (I like the Epson Presentation Paper Matte) and follow the instructions on your Epson Small-in-One printer. Make sure to have scissors handy in case you need to make any size adjustments.
  2. Display the custom menus proudly. Mine turned out great and I’m so excited to share with my guests.


That’s really all there is to it. Super simple, but a surefire crowd pleaser. As an optional step, you could always visit your local office superstore to have the menus laminated as a means to ensure they last throughout the Thanksgiving festivities. However, it’s not necessary.

Now get out there and start customizing – recipes, menus, and more! Your family, friends and guests will definitely feel the holiday love and cheer. And please share your holiday party and planning experiences with me in the comments below.

Keeping Within the Lines

Dramenon Studios

Over this past summer, how many times have you seen your kids at the kitchen table, yellow box of crayons at the ready, heads down and intently filling in page after page of a coloring book? Have you been jealous, wanting to switch off from the hustle and bustle of the grown-up world, pick up the purple crayon and just start coloring? I think we can admit it—we all have felt that pull of nostalgia for the freedom of childhood.

As much as we think of it as a childhood pastime, adults have finally started to realize what they’re missing out on. Even national news stories have been showing women exchanging book clubs for coloring-book clubs, using the activity as a stress reliever. Many are attracted to the coloring books because they want to be artistic, but they are afraid of the blank page.

Alicia Burstein has a different solution. “One complaint I’ve always had with the coloring books is that they are so busy, or there are too many lines,” she explained. “They’re hard to work with.” She wanted something where you could actually take a pen and doodle yourself—and her son actually helped find the solution.

“My oldest son likes to draw,” Burstein explained. “He saw what I was doing but couldn’t quite get the step-by-step instructions in some of my illustration books.” She created designs with three steps in total that produced three outlines to color and three designs for tracing. When she saw how much easier it was for him to start drawing, she realized she could create a book for others.

But try telling Burstein that she’s good at drawing and she’ll argue with you. “I have a hard time drawing real-life objects. In my head, I can see the lines perfectly, but then I tell my hand to draw it and it just doesn’t work.” That said, she does have talent—her line drawings seem deceptively simple at first glance, but soon reveal a skillful elegance. She shares it online at a site called ArtStart, named because she provides the beginning and encourages others to finish them. “It kickstarts your creativity.”

She started with mandalas because she loves drawing in circles and, once colored, they remind her of a kaleidoscope. “I can make a mandala look however I want, either frilly or geometric,” Burstein noted.

And she finds the repetition extremely relaxing. “It zens me out to do this,” she revealed, talking about both the drawing and the coloring. “Cultures throughout the world have created repetitive designs because our brains really like it. Think about it—even nature has repetitive design. Just look at the leaves on trees.”

When Burstein isn’t creating her ArtStart books, she is inserting PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) lines in patients at a neurological center in California’s San Francisco Bay Area. Her work with the human body has started to infiltrate into her artwork, and she says her next book will probably involve human anatomy, but in a very stylized way—think less Gray’s Anatomy and more Aubrey Beardsley.

Burstein has provided Snapshot readers with a free sample of her coloring pages to download and print. And those with one of our Expression printers, like the Expression Premium XP-830, have the option to create coloring book pages by using the Epson Creative Print app. It’s as easy as installing the app, selecting your printer and choosing a photo from your mobile device’s library through the Coloring Book feature. Adjust the contrast to your liking, and click “print”.

I’m looking forward to printing out Alicia’s samples and, using Creative Print, a few photos from our family’s Walking Project. That way I’ll have plenty of coloring projects with me when I join my kids at the kitchen table. I just hope they’ll share the crayons.


Image: © 2015 Alicia Burstein/

The Walking Project

Back-to-School already? The end of summer camp for the kids, the conclusion of family vacations and prepping for the upcoming school year. Summer certainly flew by, and to bring these fun few months to a close with a bang, my husband, our two boys and I decided to get up, get outside and go on a stroll throughout nature. So, I wrangled the troops, made sure I had my smartphone in hand, and headed out into the neighborhood.

I love going on nature hikes with the family, taking them out where they can learn, explore, play, and get dirty (not too dirty). While the hike itself was a blast, allowing us to capture tons of great imagery, the fun is just getting started. Once we made it home, it was time to tap into our crafty sides – to not only preserve the memory of our fun family day, but to keep the kiddos entertained (and away from the TV) for hours.

Create a Nature-Inspired Photo Collage

Our nature hike around the neighborhood was beautiful and inspirational. We documented the entire experience, snapping photos of the scenery, the boys and the family along the way. We let the boys get behind the camera to take photos from their point of view too, and, whether it was a bug, leaf or flower, they were so proud of their work, and very excited to make it home and start printing photos to create the collage. One thing to note…beyond the photos, you may recall that I asked the boys to collect materials during our hike – anything they thought was “cool” and caught their attention – to integrate into the collage. We found some fun-shaped leaves and sticks, colorful flowers and pebbles and even a few pinecones to embellish our collage.


You don’t have to be a pro artist to create a beautiful, finished product. All that is required is a bit of effort and inspiration, along with a few simple instructions:

  1. Head to your nearest office superstore and purchase a poster board to build your collage on. Make sure to pick up scissors, glue and colorful letter-sized paper to embellish, if you like.
  2. Select the photos you would like to include in your collage and print. Simply follow the instructions on your Epson Small-in-One printer. The size and style of the printed photos is entirely up to you.
  3. At this time, go ahead and also select the keepsakes you want to use to augment the board that you picked up along the Nature Walk too.
  4. Begin laying out the photos and materials on the poster board. I like to use the colored paper to boarder some of the pictures so that they stand out, or cut some of the photos into fun shapes.
  5. Glue on the photos first. Then, glue on your nature materials. The key here is to start with the background of the collage and then move forward from there.
  6. Finalize the photo collage. Ours turned out great!


The fun doesn’t stop here. Final step: share your completed artwork on social media. Why not get a few comments and “likes” for all of that effort? Epson makes it easy to share your finished collage directly to Facebook. See my scan to Facebook how-to for additional insight.

Please share your photo collages with me in the comments below – I’d love to see the inspiration that nature has on your own families as we gear up to head back to school!    – Nita

A Mother’s Day Memento: Do-It-Yourself Photo Pendant

Mother’s Day is coming up fast (May 10) and you are no doubt bombarded with gift ideas from all of your favorite sites and shopping apps – from scarves and jewelry, to spa time and mimosas, to the latest gadgets and gizmos.  If you haven’t bought something for mom yet, skip the store-bought gift and show her how much you care with a creative DIY keepsake

Fabulous Photo Glass Pendants

You don’t need to be an artisan to make a photo pendant, you just need a few supplies (glass tiles, jewelry bails, Diamond Glaze, twine or chain, and a printer) and a little inspiration.  I get a lot of my inspiration and ideas from Pinterest, however you can personalize your pendant in so many ways – including the shape of the tile, the color and style of the photo or artwork, and the type of chain you add to the pendant. I used photos of my boys to create pendant necklaces for my mom and mother-in-law as Mother’s Day gift this year.


Once you select your glass pendant style (I went with a square), it’s just a few easy steps:

Grid Shot_Photo Necklace

  1. Select the photo or artwork you’d like to use – photos of grandchildren, pattern with text, or a restored photo from the past – and resize the image to approximate size of glass tile. When you’re ready, print the image.
  2. Lay your glass tile over the print and cut with a craft knife to the edges of the tile.
  3. Apply diamond glaze over the entire flat portion of the glass pendant.  Once your pendant is covered, place it on top of the printed design and let dry for an hour.
  4. Use craft scissors to carefully trim away any excess paper.  After you have your paper shaped to the tile, place another coat of the diamond glaze on the back of the pendant and let dry for an hour.
  5. Place a small spot of an industrial adhesive, like E6000, onto the bail, and then attach to the pendant in the top middle of the tile. Allow to dry for another 30 minutes.


Once the jewelry bail has dried, you can attach a chain, ribbon, twine, or leather cord to personalize your pendant and you’ve created a DIY memento for mom to wear for just about any occasion.

Model_Photo Necklace

A Helping Heart

Valentine CardThis past Valentine’s Day, the play room at the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Center at NYU Langone’s Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital was filled with hearts – and not just those belonging to the patients. The pediatric outpatient facility that treats children with cancer and blood disorders received a special visit from celebrations expert Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings.

“I have been involved with the center at NYU Langone for 16 years. I found out about the center through a friend, and once I saw the incredible doctors, nurses, and staff in action, I knew it was a place where I always wanted to volunteer,” said Miller. “I like to visit the Hassenfeld Center and do special art projects, especially around the holidays.”

This past Valentine’s Day, the project invited children receiving treatment at the hospital to create personalized cards. Each child created an “I heart ___” sign that they filled in with the name of a special someone impacting their lives. Miller snapped a photo of each patient holding up a sign and printed the photo using an Epson Expression Small-in-One. To finish each Valentine’s message, the photo was pasted into a frame illustrated by Miller.

“We were able to immediately print out pictures that we took – the kids loved seeing their projects come to life,” Miller commented. “The personalized cards became priceless gifts for the doctors, teachers, parents, and friends that received the valentines.”

Photo with Supplies

The day touched the hearts of everyone involved at the Stephen D. Hassenfeld Center, including (and most importantly) the patients and their families.

“Seeing the children engaged in the project, showing their love to others around them was inspiring. Their smiles, as they showed off their projects, were the most rewarding part of the day,” said Miller.

Learn more about Darcy Miller and her projects by following her on Instagram (

Learn more about Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone Medical Center, and what you can do to help. Also, visit NYU Langone Medical Center on its social media channels: Instagram (, Facebook (, Twitter (, and YouTube (


Photo courtesy of Darcy Miller




From the Heart: DIY Photo Valentines

The 14th day of the second month of the year can be senselessly saturated with stress. But that day in February when pink and red refract across every metropolis doesn’t have to result in skyrocketing blood pressure.  With twin boys in kindergarten, my goal is to create imaginative classroom cards on a budget in minutes.

Forget cliché conversation hearts – these adorable DIY greetings require little more than a printer, scissors and a paper punch to give tots a treat that will last beyond Feb. 14. Following are some creative ideas for sharing the love, inspired by Housewife Eclectic and created by my DIY friend Merritt.

“You make me glow” Valentine:


Card 1

“You’re a gem” Valentine: 

 Card 2


DIY Valentine Supplies: Computer or laptop, 8.5” x11” photo paper, photo printer, scissors, paper punch, and candy/gifts for cards

Step 1: Take photos and save to your laptop or computer. Consider taking a few different versions to provide a variety of Valentine cards for the class.

Step 2: Insert photos into a Word document and add text and colors to personalize. Try adding color borders, shapes, color filters, and positioning the text in different areas depending on the photos you take.

Step 3: For the Valentine cards featured here, a horizontal design worked nice and provided surface area to add a small gift that matched the text, e.g. a ring pop or glow stick. It also allows you to print several cards per page. 

 Capture 2_VDay

Step 4:  Print design on desired paper. The Valentine cards featured here were printed on Epson Premium Glossy paper, however a Matte paper works nicely too.

Step 5: Cut cards and add gifts with tape or a paper punch pending the size and shape.

Beyond the classroom, if you’re searching for bejeweled gifts, chocolate or a photo keepsake to give your sweetie, have some fun with personalized wrapping. Our creative team just updated the Epson DIY wrapping Paper Generator to offer a range of romantic images to choose from. Dress up your jewelry box and small gifts with these easy steps.

I’d love to see your crafty creations for heart day in the comments below.

Epson DIY Wrapping Paper Generator

Epson Wrapping GeneratorThis year, take the fuss out of holiday gift-giving. Whether you’re making handmade goodies and crafts or braving the crowds at the mall to find that perfect something for everyone on your list – wrap it up with a personal touch and bring a smile to the faces of family and friends.  Personalized wrapping makes any gift extra special, and we’ve got you covered, literally.  Our creative team developed a customizable wrapping generator that makes it even easier to wrap with your own personal style.

The Epson DIY Wrapping Paper Generator offers a range of holiday images to choose from and you can add extra personal touches with customizable font, colors and backgrounds to download for printing and wrapping.  With the help of your printer, a computer and a few other ingredients, dress up your smaller presents with these easy steps:

STEP 1: Gather the supplies (see list provided).

Wrapping Ingredients  
  • Home photo printer like the Epson Expression Premium XP-820
  • 5” x11” paper or larger if you own a 13-inch or 22-inch wide printer
  • Computer or laptop
  • Holiday shopping list of names
  • Tape and scissors
  • Ribbon, tassels, yarn or small ornaments to embellish

STEP 2: Click on the Epson DIY Wrapping Paper Generator link (  Once the window is launched you can easily enter text and design your wrapping paper by selecting the font type and color and your desired background.  Note: You can click “preview” to generate a view of your design prior to printing. 

STEP 3: When you’re happy with your design, click “print” to access the print window. Make sure to enable “background graphics” according to the instructions listed on the generator for the browser you’re using.

Step 4: Load your printer with paper and click “print.” An everyday paper like Epson Bright White paper works well for photo quality and pliability for wrapping; however you can use general purpose plain paper as well.  For larger packages, you can print several copies of the paper and tape sheets together to make one larger sheet.

STEP 5: Wrap the gift item and embellish with ribbon, labels and other fun accents.

Once you’ve created your paper and wrapped your holiday gift, I like to add a little extra whimsy with photos and other embellishments.  Some of my favorite gift tag templates include: mitten tags, custom gift tags and personalized photo tags.  Ribbons with different textures and colors or natural objects like burlap rolls and feathers are also fun. Get the whole family involved and enlist the help of the kids to gather objects and come up with ideas for friends and family members.

Now, that’s a Wrap.

Some of My Favorite Photo Projects

Nothing brings a smile to the face of family and friends than a good photo. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to print and share the more print-worthy snapshots, I have plenty of great photos that don’t make it into a frame, on a wall or in a post on Facebook or Instagram.

However, many of these photos can be turned into handmade crafts that not only make a unique gift, but also provide a photo memento for grandparents and extended family to enjoy in their homes as functional décor. Whether you’re looking for a gift idea for an upcoming birthday, holiday gift exchange, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, following are some of my favorite photo projects.


Coasters are a simple, inexpensive way to add personality to a coffee table or nightstand. Add photos to the mix – a series of portraits of the grandkids, the family dog over the years, or images of dad’s car collection – and your standard coaster turns into a conversation starter for parties and events or “photos for your table” as my son, Jaiden, calls them. You can create a set that features a collection of photos or individual tiles of a larger image to create a photo mosaic when displayed on a tabletop. I made a gift set for my brother’s upcoming birthday, featuring photos of him and his 1 year-old son, Vihaan. (Shhh…it’s a surprise) So easy. All you need are a few simple supplies available at your local craft store and a home photo printer. Easy, step-by-step instructions are available at


I’m always amazed at the collection of photos, cards and other items that adorn refrigerators and magnetic whiteboards in people’s homes. These creative spaces in today’s homes can say a lot about a family’s personality, organization and outside interests. Photo magnets are a fun way to share photos with family and friends and a surefire way to make sure your pics end up on loved ones doors and walls for family to enjoy. recently featured a how-to for creating personalized photo tins that can also service as magnets. The example featured here is courtesy of my fellow DIYer Merritt and her daughter Sadie. 

DIY Bridal Shower Decor

Advice 2

We’ve all been called upon to host or co-host a bridal shower–it’s somewhat a rite of passage as a friend or family member. While the effort comes with great honor, it also involves a great deal of coordination and planning to incorporate elements that make the event meaningful for the guest of honor–from the theme and venue, to the food, décor and activities. However, it’s the little details that make the strongest impression on the bride-to-be and your guests.

A co-worker recently threw a shower for her sister and the photos inspired me to share her crafty ventures in the hopes it will help fellow DIYers and future shower hosts with their planning.

Q: Tell me a little about the bride-to-be’s style.Bingo 1

The term rustic chic can conjure up a range of thoughts in one’s mind–organic, countryside, vintage with a touch of whimsy. For the bride-to-be, it means comfortable, natural and organic with a tiny bit of girly mixed in for fun. For example, her dress was simple but elegant with a vintage lace bodice and A-line skirt. She added her touch of whimsy by adding rhinestones for some extra sparkle. 

Q: What was the inspiration behind the shower theme and decor?

 My goal for the shower was to mirror her style and keep things simple but elegant with a little bit of girly fun mixed in for good measure. The colors for her wedding were orange and gray and the reception was going to be outdoors, so I thought it would perfect to “marry” that with an outdoor shower as well. I used classic white linens and mason jars for the rustic and added in splashes of gray and orange with ribbons, flowers and Chinese lanterns. And, a simple orange heart used throughout décor elements was the little bit of whimsy.  

Q: What other décor elements helped bring the theme together?

In addition to a customized sign for the bride that was the focal point of the party, I wanted to incorporate a few activities that carried the theme and gave guests something to do while the bride-to-be opened gifts.

 The “Gift Opening Bingo” was a big hit among guests and was really easy to create. I simply used coordinating font from the banner and inserted a table in Word and switched gifts around in the table to create a range of Bingo cards for guests.   We also created an advice jar created with a Mason jar, ribbon and chalk label to invite guests to offer the bride-to-be some “spicy” words of wisdom. 

Q: How can readers create a personalized banner?     

I created the banner for the shower in Word using the following steps:

  1. Choose the font you want to use – I used Orniste.
  2. Put a letter on each 8.5” x 11” page
  3. Include a colored heart or another symbol for middle of banner
  4. Print, cut and paste on paper of your choosing – a matte paper works well for durability
  5. Punch holes, string with ribbon and hang

I hope the rustic-chic crafts featured in this shower how-to offer some inspiration for the next event you host and I’d love to hear the ideas behind your little details.

Banner 3

Unleash Your Inner Pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving

Fall is upon us and it happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. The colors of foliage, fields of pumpkins, a splendor of frightful decorations, and let’s not forget the deliciously sweet, pumpkin-flavored treats.

Beyond the pumpkin-induced pallet frenzy, the season can inspire a range of crafts for adults and kids alike, whether it’s décor for the front door, treats for the classroom or a personal touch for your fall party with friends. We’ve put together some ideas and helpful links to help you get your pumpkin on this year.

Pumpkin Carving 101

In our house we take pumpkin carving pretty seriously. I love how pumpkin carving has evolved to a form of artistic expression that can include far more than your standard carving knife. With templates, craft paint and other seasonal accessories like fun-shaped squash, you can create some amazing Jack-O-Lanterns to lead the way for cutely cloaked trick-or-treaters. The team here at Epson created a template with dinosaurs in mind for my twin boys that you can download and print for your carving or stenciling endeavors.

Trick or Treat Fall Totes

Costume?  Check.   Trick-or-Treat route?  Check.

What about something to carry the treats the little goblins (otherwise known as children) collect along the way? Consider turning a standard canvas bag into a candy receptacle that can be used for the rest of the fall season for shopping or other hauling needs. A scan of your child’s artwork, simple text or a coordinating image to enhance this year’s costume are all great places to start. From there all you need is an iron, iron-on transfer paper and a photo printer to create a reusable tote.

Personalized Pumpkin Treats

Whether you’re hosting a fall feast or helping out for this year’s Halloween celebration in the classroom, personalized wrappers, toppers and labels are easy to create and print at home.  I’ve tagged several of my favorite ideas that I’ve seen this year – from pumpkin-tines and Boo Bars to photo booth frames and printable Halloween decor – to help you celebrate the season.

And if you want to carve your own dinosaur feet, click on the image below and download the template.

Dino Tracks Carving Pattern