Harper + Oakley

A New Spin on Photo Books

InspirationMaggie | Harper + Oakley6 Comments
Quote Photo Books | Harper + Oakley

I love giving unique gifts to people.  Back in the day, making scrapbooks for my friends and family was my go-to gift of choice.  I was also a big fan of the mix CD.  I would spend hours on iTunes trying to create the perfect playlist.  I would print out the song list and then write why each song reminded me of that person, whether it be a certain lyric or maybe a shared memory.  Gifts like that are so personal and something that the recipient can cherish forever. 

Now, I still love to give meaningful gifts, but I've found a new favorite - the photo book.  I've figured out a way to combine my love of scrapbooking and my love of song lyrics to create a gift that is unique and special.  Here's a look at the finished product of a photo book that I gave my fiance (then boyfriend) on our first dating anniversary.  I called it Love Stories.  Instead of the typical photo book where I would include pictures of us with captions, I decided to fill this book with quotes and song lyrics - ones that made me think of him, our future, and our love for one another.  I've continued to make him a photo book each year, and it's been such a special tradition for us. 

Quote Photo Book | Harper + Oakley

You can design a book like this for so many different occasions (think graduations, birthdays, Mother's Day, etc.).  I actually made one for my sister that focused on following your dreams for when she was job-searching and traveling abroad.  It's fun to think up different themes and to be able to use your creative side.  If you're a quote junkie like me, then these will be right up your alley.  I'm warning you though, it's addicting - I think I've made over 15 books already! 

1. Start Pinning

I have created a secret Pinterest board for each of my photo book projects that I pin to throughout the year.  I don't actively search out quotes, but if I come across a love quote that reminds me of Billy, for example, I'll be sure to pin it to my secret board for the next time I make a book.  I keep my boards secret mainly because Billy has a tendency to check out my Wish List board from time to time to get gift ideas (isn't he the sweetest?), so I want to make sure that he doesn't see the quotes before I give him the book.  To get started, you can check out my Quotes board or just search the Quotes category on Pinterest. 

Once you're ready to create your book, save each of your pinned images into a folder on your computer so that you can easily access them. 

2. Create Your Photo Book

There are so many photo book websites to choose from, but my favorite is Mixbook.  They are easy to use, they save all of your past creations, and the best part - they almost always have a coupon code available. 

For my photo books, I like to use the 8x6" Pocket Landscape Hardcover Photo Book.  I love this size, because it's not overwhelming, and it's easy to store or display.  I use the Instagram Book template, because I like that it's a blank canvas.  Once you've chosen a template, you hit "Start Book", and an editing tool opens up in a separate window.  This is where you upload your photos and begin to play around with the pages, backgrounds, and layouts. 

I typically choose a neutral background to allow my photos to stand out.  I also like to group my photos by color as much as possible.  Here's an example of two pages that I created.  You can see that I used pink and blue for my color schemes, and I love how everything flows together so well. 

Quote Photo Book | Harper + Oakley

Tips + Tricks

  • If you have used all of your photos but still have some blank spaces to fill-in, you can search for quotes on Google Images.  I use a specific search term like "love quotes blue" to find exactly what I'm looking for to fit that space. 
  • Because I create so many of these, I needed a way to make sure I wasn't repeating quotes between books.  So, I came up with a system that's kind of silly, but it works.  After I've saved all of my pictures to my computer, I pin a stop sign picture to my Pinterest board.  I use this as a bookmark to note where I left off so that I don't re-use the pins below it for the next book.
  • Each template comes with a standard set of layouts, but if you keep scrolling down, there are several more that you can choose from.  There are layouts ranging from 1 to 21 pictures per page.  I like to mix up my layouts on each set of pages to keep it interesting.
  • You may get a warning sign on some photos.  This means that the photo is the wrong size or resolution and will appear blurry when printed.  Make sure to choose another picture or re-size until the warning disappears.
  • NOTE: For some reason, once you've completed your book and are ready to order, the majority of your photos will have a warning sign again.  I'm not sure why this happens, but as long as you've taken care of the warning signs during your creation process, you should be fine.  I always order despite this, and my books are never blurry! 

Did this get your creative juices flowing?  Do you have any friends or family that you think would like this type of gift?  Let me know in the comments!

How to Create a Gallery Wall

Decor + DesignMaggie | Harper + Oakley7 Comments
How To Create a Gallery Wall | Harper + Oakley

We have a large wall that separates our kitchen and our living room.  For the first year after we moved in, this wall was a blank canvas.  It stared at me begging me to do something with it.  I had been toying with the idea of a gallery wall for a while, and I had been pinning several different ideas to my Living Room Pinterest Board.  While they were all beautiful, they also seemed intimidating and time consuming (read: lots of measuring).  So, I decided to figure out a better way to do it, and I'm so happy with how everything turned out!  Because I like step-by-step guides, I'll lay out my simple process for designing our gallery wall.

1. Search for gallery wall inspiration 

Start gathering your ideas in one place.  Pinterest and Instagram are my favorite places to find design inspiration.  Begin to notice patterns in the images that you are gravitating towards.  Do you like neat and uniform or different shapes and textures?  Do you like all one color or a variety of colors?  Do you like a theme or more of an eclectic feel?  For instance, I knew I wanted a variety of sizes, textures, and colors.  The colors in my house are shades of gray, cream, and blue/turquoise, so I used that as my color scheme. 

2. Gather Potential Pieces

When I decided that I wanted to create a gallery wall, I began gathering pieces from all around my home.  I kept in mind my color scheme and design aesthetic, but other than that, everything was fair game!  Get creative and don't discriminate - the editing will come later.  I found picture frames, mirrors, hooks, signs, and plates.  The possibilities are endless. 

I also began to look for pieces when I was out shopping.  I purchased pieces over time, knowing that I could always return them or use them somewhere else in my house if they didn't work out (it helps that I have a similar color scheme running throughout most of my house)! 

Some of my favorite places to shop for gallery wall pieces are: TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Target, Michaels (always with a coupon of course), and local antique and thrift stores.

3. Measure Your Space and Try Different Arrangements

Measure your space.  For example, if you have a large wall, measure the length of the wall.  If you want the gallery wall centered over a couch, measure the length of the couch.  This will give you parameters.  Now, find a large floor or table-top space and mark your measurements with anything you have on hand (shoes, tape, string, pencils, etc.).  This will give you an idea of the space you're working with. 

Next, start experimenting.  Try different combinations of pieces, different layouts, and different sizes.  Make sure to take pictures of each arrangement so that you can refer to them later.  As you can see, I tried several arrangements before finding the perfect one (bottom right).

Once you finalize the layout, make sure that all of your frames are filled and ready to go.  {Don't tell anyone, but we still have to fill in the frame on the top left}!

For our gallery wall, we decided to use pictures that were meaningful and unique.  We printed an antique map of Kansas City for one of the frames, and then used our own Instagram photos for many of the others.  We also wrote the quote "home is wherever I'm with you" on the chalkboard, because it has special meaning for us.  Your gallery wall should be filled with things that show your personality.  

4. Finalize Layout and Hang It Up

There are so many gallery wall tutorials out there that involve a lot of measuring and placing everything in an exact position, but I wanted to keep it simple.  Remember, this is an art, not a science.  First, I made sure that everything was set the way I wanted it on the floor and took one final picture.  Then, I measured the height and width of the arrangement and used those measurements as my outline.  I began hanging everything from the outside in, centering and leveling as I went along (really I should say "we" - my fiance helped a lot...this is probably a two person job).  I continued to reference the picture I took to determine proper spacing and layout.  For most of the items, I used 3M Command Strips which makes for easy repositioning and removal. 

How to Create a Gallery Wall | Harper + Oakley

5. Enjoy!

Enjoy your new gallery wall!  It is a great conversation piece and fun to look at your favorite art, memories, and pictures in one place.  I've tagged the sources for most of our frames below if you're interested. 

  {Sources listed left to right, top to bottom}    Michaels  | TJ Maxx | TJ Maxx | TJ Maxx |  Michaels , Print from Local Artist |  Francescas  | Gift | Michaels ( similar ) | Michaels |  Elizabeth & Co.  | TJ Maxx

{Sources listed left to right, top to bottom}

Michaels | TJ Maxx | TJ Maxx | TJ Maxx | Michaels, Print from Local Artist | Francescas | Gift | Michaels (similar) | Michaels | Elizabeth & Co. | TJ Maxx

Was this tutorial helpful?  What questions do you still have?  Do you have a gallery wall in your home?  If so, I'd love to see it - be sure to share the link in the comments or tag me on Instagram @harperandoakley

Liebster Award + A Big Thank You!

Personal, InspirationMaggie | Harper + Oakley6 Comments
Liebster Award | Harper + Oakley

I am happy to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The amazing Julie from A Modest Vessel nominated me, and I am so honored.  This is an award given to bloggers with less than 200 followers on sites such as Bloglovin'.  It's a great way to discover and promote new blogs.  I've only been blogging for a few weeks now, but it's been so much fun, and I've met some great people like Julie along the way!

As a recipient of the Liebster Award, I'm supposed to answer 12 questions about myself so that you can get to know me a little better.  Then, I nominate other bloggers so that you can get to know them better too!  So, here we go:

1. What is one item that you could not live without?

I couldn't think of an answer for this one, so I asked my fiance what he thought, and without hesitation, he said pizza.  I can't argue with that!  Pizza has been and always will be my favorite food.  This quote from the PrintsEisenherz Etsy shop says it perfectly.


2. What is something/someone that really makes you laugh?

My sister, Ally.  Even though we live thousands of miles apart, she still manages to crack me up every day through text messages, phone calls, and FaceTime.  We have a lifetime of memories, inside jokes, and stories that we share.  As a bonus, she has the same sense of humor as my fiance, Billy, so when the three of us gets together, I couldn't be happier.  Love you Als! 

Liebster Award | Harper + Oakley

3. If you could change your first name, what would you change it to and why?

When I was younger, I always wanted to be named Samantha, because that was my American Girl Doll's name, so I'll go with that.  Are there any other Samantha doll lovers out there?

4. Why did you start blogging, and is this your first attempt at blogging?

I started blogging because I love reading other blogs.  I look to so many blogs daily for inspiration and ideas, and I wanted a place where I could share in that as well.  As I mention on my About page, I have two sides to my personality - an analytical, perfectionist side (which my day job satisfies), and a creative, curious side (which this blog satisfies).

This is technically my first attempt at blogging, although I did create another blog a couple of years ago that I was going to name Paint Your Dreams Pink, but I never published it.  Harper + Oakley feels more like me though, so I'm glad that I waited, and I'm excited to see where this journey will take me.

5. What is the story behind your blog name?

Harper + Oakley are my two adorable puppies.  I love their names, and I love their personalities even more.  Harper is laid-back and sweet, while Oakley is sassy and does what she wants.  They are the perfect pair!  I decided to name my blog Harper + Oakley because I liked the uniqueness of it, and I liked that it didn't pigeonhole me into a particular type of blog.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm open to all of the possibilities that could come along with this blog, so I wanted to keep my name simple, open, and memorable.

{PS - If you want to see more pictures of these cuties, there are plenty on my Instagram}!

Harper + Oakley
Harper + Oakley

6. What is the best thing you have ever splurged on for yourself?

A piano.  I've played piano my entire life, and when I moved out to Kansas City, I had to leave my Clavinova piano at home, because it was too big to move.  I missed playing the piano so much that I decided to buy an upright piano on Craigslist.  It was definitely a splurge, but it was great to be able to play again. 

7. If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be?

My first thought was Taylor Swift, but after thinking about it more, I would probably choose...oh who am I kidding, I'm still going to go with Taylor Swift.  Is there really any explanation needed?  SHE. IS. PERFECT.

8. What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was young, I either wanted to be a cashier at Wal-Mart or a secretary (I had a thing for cash registers and file folders).  When I was in 6th grade, I decided to be an accountant, because my Dad was a CPA.  I stuck with that thought and majored in Accounting in college.  I didn't end up doing Accounting, but truthfully, if you asked me today what I want to be when I grow up, I still don't know.  That's the fun part though - I'm always trying to learn, grow, and figure it out!

9. What is your favorite place in the entire world?

I'm going to pretend this question said places, because I have two absolute favorites: Princeville, Kauai and The Grotto in Emmitsburg, MD.  Growing up, I had the privilege of going to Princeville on many family vacations.  Kauai is hands down the best Hawaiian island, and Princeville is just a gorgeous area - I hope to go back sometime soon!  The Grotto is the most beautiful, peaceful place I've ever been.  Even if you aren't religious, it's worth a trip.  It's tucked into the mountains right outside of Mt. St. Mary's (which is where my Mom went to college), and we would visit at least once a year.  It's especially beautiful in the spring and fall. 

10. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I'm going to copy Julie's answer on this one and say teleportation.  I love to travel, but I hate the actual traveling part of it.  If I could teleport, I'd definitely go to Paris first!

11. What is the greatest advice you've ever been given?

I'm going to get a little personal on this one.  My Dad passed away suddenly when I was 19 years old.  I thought my world was ending.  In the hospital that day, my Aunt gave me the best advice.  She said, "you'll be okay because you had him."  It was just what I needed in that moment, and it's really stuck with me.  To me, this means that my Dad will always be in my heart.  Whenever I am feeling sad or lost, I remember that I was lucky to have known my Dad for 19 years, and the things that he taught me, the quirks that we share, and the character that he demonstrated will always be with me.

12. What book are you currently reading?

Every morning, I read a daily devotional from Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are by Shauna Niequist.  It's a one-page passage with a few questions at the end; I would highly recommend this.  The other book I just started is How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone.  She sells a limited number of copies, so I was lucky to get one last week!  It's great for bloggers and small business owners, and it's something that I've always been interested in. 

Alright, now onto the nominees.  Since I'm newer to the blogging world and just now discovering some of the smaller blogs, I had a hard time coming up with five nominees, so I'm just going to choose one, but I promise you, it's a good one...

Eva | Pearl Girl Creates - This girl is going places!  I'm so happy that I stumbled across her blog via Instagram.  She has a great sense for decorating, and her pictures are AMAZING!  She's definitely one to watch.


  • Answer the questions above, and then comment on this post with a link to your post so that we can all see your answers and visit your blog.
  • In your post, link back to the person/blog who nominated you and give a little thank you shout out.
  • After completing the questions, nominate at least 5 bloggers with under 200 followers on the social media platform of your choice (I chose Bloglovin’), and give them questions of your choice.
  • Notify your nominees of their nomination, and provide a link to your post so that they know what to do.

Thank You!

Lastly, I wanted to take a minute and thank everyone who has read my blog, commented, and supported me.  I appreciate every one of you!  This has been a big dream of mine, and it feels great to know that people are actually reading and enjoying my blog.  THANK YOU!

Now that you've learned a little bit about me, I would love to learn more about all of you.  Pick a question above, and answer it in the comments.  Be sure to leave a link to your blog (if you have one), so that I can follow you as well!