2012, in a series of unfortunate events and poor decisions, we moved to the East Coast. It meant leaving Utah, the place I have always felt “at home.”
It also meant leaving some of the most amazing people my heart has ever known. Just writing that, makes tears swell.
That same year Frank and his wife were married and crushed with the reality that they had a choice between $500 to $700 professional albums and Shutterfly DIY quality. There was nothing really in between.
This past May, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go “back home” and visit my people. Not all of them, but so many.
Within a week of returning, Frank reached out to me about FrameSmile. It’s the company he started with his wife. They make unique and impressive photo books that are actually AFFORDABLE again. For the price of a single “professional” album, they hope to provide entire families (Bride-Groom, Pare, ts and Grandparents) with copies of the wedding to cherish.
It was the perfect opportunity to share with you moments from my trip to Utah and introduce you to Frank’s passion.
It’s all inside this box.
Beautifully packaged and safely nestled inside a bag that will not scratch the beauty of this gift.
This is where my story begins.
Those beautiful, snow-capped mountains I call home. That shadow of the phone? It’s a reminder to tell you that the pictures taken and displayed inside the FrameSmile Glass Crystal Photo Album, were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 phone.
The first full day I was in Utah, I met up with friends.
On the top is Linda. I was her Supervisor at a Call Center. Then I moved to a new Call Center, and Linda followed. She is a lovely lady, who worked a long day and still found time to stop by and hug me.
The bottom is Coralie from Lovebugs and Postcards. I didn’t know Coralie when I lived in Utah. We actually met on a Disney trip, and she instantly filled my soul. She is a beautiful woman that makes me laugh out loud and celebrate the small moments.
The larger picture, to the right, is Nina. Growing up my family went to Nina’s house. Nina has the same number of children, all around the same age as my parents. She is sort of like my “other” mom. We all met at Beans and Brew, and Nina shared embarrassing stories from my childhood to my girlfriends.
Oh, how my heart loves these two.
To the left is Angie. She’s a strong, outrageously fun woman. She and I went to see Celtic Woman a few years back together. She was a Team Lead with my at one of my jobs. She nicknamed MacKenzie “Angry Badger” as a small child. She is creative and just amazing.
If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know the person on the left is Charlotte the Great, my grandmother. She’s 90 now. In this picture, she is doing her infamous lip-trick. It was a request from MacKenzie.
These pages are my favorite.
Charlotte the Great is my best-friend. She and I have had so many adventures. We use to have coffee together every morning and have long conversations until the children came home from school.
These pictures are a sequence.
Charlotte the Great was at the kitchen table when I walked in that morning.
“Hey, Grandma! Look who I brought with me. It’s Jake.”
Grandma recognized me right away. She, however, very quietly said, “That’s not Jake.”
I would learn my grandmother has Alzheimer’s in this visit.
We sat around the table conversing and then I proposed pictures!
Jake knelt beside his great-grandmother. She was sort of apprehensive, but she’s always gone along with my crazy ideas (like the time she dressed up as Lady Gaga).
She engages in conversation…about nothing really.
Jake says, “Let’s get a few without my glasses, do you mind?” and he takes off his eyeglasses.
Then the bottom right photo in the sequence. Do you see it? That light that suddenly comes on in her memory!
The top, far right, the picture she reaches for Jake. Suddenly, she knows he is hers.
The top of the next page, first photo, she sort of leans back, as if to make certain her mind isn’t misleading her.
Then she reaches for him.
She just wraps her arms around him and pulls him close to her and holds him there.
When the hug ends she exclaims, “There’s MY Jake!”
It changed our visit. After that, she had so much to share with him!
Jake held it together for the visit, but on the way home, he just broke down. He cried the cry where your whole body shakes. He loves her as much as I do!
One day Jake drove me to meet my daughter. It’s shameful I hadn’t seen her in four years, but I do keep in touch. She is my passionate reader. My child who sets goals and is determined to achieve. She is the second chair in the Utah Youth Symphony for violin, plays piano, has maintained a cumulative 4.0 GPA through Middle School and is getting ready to start high school.
I also met Jake’s girlfriend. Oh, my goodness is she adorable.
When I first saw her, she reminded me of Barbie’s little sister, Skipper with brunette hair.
Kristen is so petite but just fills the room with love and tranquility. She has a gorgeous smile that she is generous in sharing and she is so much fun!
When Jake first started seeing her and things were getting serious he told me, “Mom, I’ve met this girl. I love her.”
It was what I would say to Jake after we would leave her house each night, “Jake! I met this girl. I love her!”
I arrived in Utah at 11:59 pm on a Thursday. Jake had his final class final Friday morning. He stayed up with me too late visiting, then he went to the college and took his exam.
That morning was stressful. It was the exam that stood between him and his degree.
I’m happy to tell you, Jake now has his Associates Degree. He has done an incredible task at balancing a full-time job, full-time college courses and life. This fall he is expected to transfer to the University to finish his degree.
Jake also drove me everywhere.
I cried for two years when he first got his driver’s license. Every time I saw him behind the wheel of a car, I’d start bawling. It was ridiculous. He’s my first-born and I was probably terrified of what could happen and try to come to terms with how my baby became old enough to drive!
And that picture to the right? That is Jake playing guitar. He loves music. While I was there he said, “Music is the soundtrack of our lives.” It’s so true. I could listen to him play guitar all day.
Jake has always been a collector of people. My final night there, Kristen arranged a surprise graduation dinner party for Jake and his best friends. I was so honored to have met each one of them and hear their stories about Jake. They are a great group of men and their banter is just hilarious fun!
Right before the dinner party, Jake spent some time with my dad (his grandpa). They sat on my grandfather’s front porch and had a jam session.
Last week my grandfather’s house was sold. He lived to be 98 years 1 month and 2 days old. This trip was my last time in his home. A piece of my childhood has disappeared and left me only with these incredible memories.
Isn’t the FrameSmile Glass Crystal Photo Book gorgeous? I wish you could feel how luxurious it is with the thick pages. There is endless beauty in the construction of this album. It is a keepsake that I find myself pulling out again and again to remember the people that bring joy to my soul.
Since you can’t feel it, here’s a brief video on the editing process and assembly of an album.
The cover is a glass crystal. It’s heavy and it reminds me of looking at a picture frame.
There are full-size pictures in the front and back of the book. Let’s face it every book deserves an amazing opening and to end with oomph!
Durable thick PVC pages protect your book from damage and give a perfect lay flat presentation.
My pictures are now vibrant photos beautifully printed with a textured matte finish. There’s not even a glare from the photos from my taking a picture of the pages to share with you here.
This book means everything to me. Since returning, I learned my dad has leukemia and life progresses. I recognize this book may hold my last pictures with my grandmother, it is a time-capsule for the first time I met Kristen, and the last memories made by my family on Grandpa’s front porch.
Whether it’s a celebration or moments you want to remember, the beauty and quality of FrameSmile will ensure the memories are here forever.