Goal: be more ‘intentional’

This year on my blog, Infarrantly Creative, the word of the year I chose was “intentional.”  I have such a desire to live my life on purpose, to be intentional in my relationships and the things I choose to spend my time on.  I want to keep short accounts with people.  I want people to always know where they stand with me and how much I love and appreciate them.  So this year has been a mission to try to do that.  I have been doing everything from scheduling monthly lunches with my best friend to remembering (and being on time!) birthday gifts and taking that extra minute to make that phone call.


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A customer service story with a notable ending

thank you noteA few weeks ago, I had to bring my car into the shop to get it checked out. Since I had recently moved to town, I asked friends for recommendations and wound up bringing it to a small, locally-owned place in town.

From the beginning, I was pleased with their service. I was able to drop it off in the morning, and one of the employees was kind enough to meet me there before opening and give me a ride to work. Later that day they called to tell me they had found a serious safety issue with the car, completely unrelated to the problems I’d been having. Despite a heavy workload, they were able to get the parts and have them installed the very next day.

When I picked up the car, I found a small package of jelly beans with a handwritten note that said, “Thank you for supporting our locally-owned business.” I had a great feeling about them and knew I’d be going back to them when necessary. Well, that turned out to be sooner than expected. Continue reading

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Summer Reading Activities for Kids

School is out for the summer, but how do you avoid a “summer slump” in reading skills? Here are a few summer reading activities to help kids get ready for learning and reading in the fall:

Make reading a habitSummer reading ideas
– Find ways to talk, read and write everyday.
– Read to your child for 15 minutes or more every day, at different intervals so reading becomes a routine.
– If your child is already a reader, you should still keep reading aloud – it will help with comprehension and vocabulary development.

Make friends with letters
– When you read to your child, point out letters and the sounds they make. Find common letters on a page, or letters that are in your child’s name.
– Point out and talk about letters when you see them on signs, food boxes, buses and other high-visibility places.
– Whenever you’re waiting – at a traffic light, in a restaurant, etc. – play the “alphabet game.” Think of words that start with the same letter or the same sound, then take turns coming up with as many different words or sounds as possible. Continue reading

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Goodbye college, hello Pear Tree

I was hired at Pear Tree Greetings as the Marketing Intern a little over a year ago and have kept myself super busy with being a full-time student, full-time employee, officer of the Marketing Club, and starting my own cupcake business. And now to top it off, a couple weeks ago, I graduated from Minnesota State University – Mankato (MSU) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing and International Business, and a minor in German.

GermanyWhile attending college, I had the chance to travel abroad where I studied in Germany for six months. I had never been to Europe, I had never left the Midwest, and I had never even been on an airplane! But, I took the leap and got on that plane and flew across the world! I met the most amazing people, learned a lot about the German culture, and traveled to 10 different countries. I now have so many other places I want to go, and friends all over the world that I can visit.

I was also in the Marketing Club at MSU for two years and was elected Director of Finance my senior year. I learned a lot about marketing; we toured fun companies in the Twin Cities area, and even traveled to Chicago and St. Louis for business tours and, of course, sightseeing. Continue reading

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Two words for teachers: Thank You

elmer's glue

My kindergarten teacher didn’t exactly fit the mold for someone tasked with motivating 6 year olds. He was wiry, thin with sunken cheekbones and blond, wispy hair. Smiles were infrequent, and his methods stern. When he handed out papers bulbous knuckles protruded from sinewy fingers. His methods were unpredictable, and, frankly, he was a tad frightening. I don’t remember much about learning to count or the disadvantages of eating glue (but I can count now, and I only infrequently sample the Elmer’s), but I do remember the rooster he brought into the classroom. And I remember how fascinating it was to dissect an owl pellet. And I remember watching those sinewy fingers tap a maple tree and a satisfying smile spread between those same, sunken cheekbones. Somehow he instilled in me an appreciation for the outdoors through unpredictable, arresting methods. I think maybe it was simply because he cared.

It wasn’t until much later, into my adulthood, that I realized how much he meant to me as a teacher. I love the outdoors, and so much of my fondness, I realize, stemmed from the passion he shared with us kindergartners. I wish I had thanked him. That I had known enough to tell him what he was doing mattered, and that it made a difference.

Both my parents are teachers. When I’ve seen my mother the most satisfied is when she wells up reading a thank you letter from a former student, years later, simply sharing with her the impact she’s made. I’ve missed my chance to tell Mr. Miller what he meant to me, and that’s an unfortunate reality for  many of us adults. But our kids, being taught and inspired right now, they still have the chance. And all it takes is a note with two simple words: Thank You.

– Wyatt

Other favorite teachers from our team:

Now that I’m grown I can’t help but smile at the sheer embarrassment I felt over my mother’s occupation as our elementary school librarian. It’s amazing how different that memory looks through my adult eyes! I know that I have her to thank for my interest not only in literature, but art, politics and geography as well. As a librarian, my mother opened a world to me through books that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I will be eternally grateful for that gift.


Beginning of my sophomore year in college I had a professor who taught us very well in the classroom, but more than that he taught us how to prepare for the ‘working world’. He was an inspirational teacher and shared with us his career story- once a newspaper reporter to Editor-in-Chief to college professor- and how each job helped him become who he is today. I thank him for helping me realize what I was learning in each class and how to apply it to better myself professionally.


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Outdoor Photography Tips

Spring is here and we all want to get outside. A winter’s worth of shooting portraits inside is enough to make any photographer go stir crazy. But today the greens are vibrant, flowers are blossoming, trees are budding, and it all makes a great setting for outdoor portraits. All you need is a camera, a subject, and some decent weather!

Shooting in Natural Light
One of the true perks of shooting portraits outdoors is you don’t have mess with studio lighting, flashes or any of that mess. You’re au naturale. Here are just a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind:

The sun is your friend
Here are a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind #peartreegreetings #phototips

When shooting in sunlight, keep the sun to the side of the subject. Shooting with the sun directly behind you just results in a squinting model and flat lighting. Shooting with the sun behind the model leaves you either with a correctly exposed background and a face in shadow, or a well lit face and a blown out background. Keep that sun to your side and you’ll get an evenly exposed shot with nice contours on your model. This happy couple on the right wanted an impromptu portrait taken while the cherry blossoms were poking out in Washington D.C.. The sun was a little too harsh and a little too high for our liking, but they were happy.

But so is the shade
Here are a few outdoor photography tips to keep in mind #peartreegreetings #phototips

Shooting in shade is kind of like shooting in a giant softbox. Your light is soft, you don’t have to worry about highlights that are too hot or shadows that are too dark. You can just focus on your model. What a relief!

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Graduation Movies: Our Top 5 and Picks for Their Graduation Invitations

Nothing like a good graduation movie to make you feel all grown up. There is the angst of leaving their friends and the security of the school where they’ve spent the last 4 years. There is the looming uncertainty of the future. And of course there are the romances—do they get married or break up??? Oh, the drama. Here are our top 5 flicks featuring graduates, and the graduation invitation ideas we personally chose for them:

Tri fold Graduation Announcements -- Favorite Moments Remembered
1. Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (2001) Beautiful? Check. Hilarious? Check. Harvard Law School smart? Check. One of our favorite grads? Double check.
Elle’s graduation announcements: Favorite Moments Remembered, with matching return address labels and thank you cards, of course!

Graduation Announcement -- Elegant Angles
2. Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate (1967). Really, Benjamin? Katherine Ross and Anne Bancroft? What were you thinking?
Benjamin’s graduation announcements: Elegant Angles. You can’t find a fit better than that!

Graduation Invitation -- Photo Booth Strip
3. Sandra Dee in Grease (1978).  Sweet-turned-sexy Sandra, her pals at Rydell High, and their timeless tunes have been the icons of youthful exuberance for decades.
Sandy’s graduation announcements: Photo Booth Strip, so she can show off her cast of friends.

Horizontal Photo Graduation Announcement -- Distinct Stripes
4. Lloyd Dobler in Say Anything (1989).  John Cusack’s Lloyd proves that a quirky, great guy can get the girl. Need we say more?
Lloyd’s graduation announcements: Distinct Stripes, featuring one memorable photo of him, say, holding up a boom box outside her house at dawn. This guy knows how to strike a pose.

Horizontal Graduation Party Invitation -- Looking to the Future
5. Jules in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985). Demi Moore’s character reminds us that it really is hard to have your act together after graduation.
Jules’ graduation announcements: Looking to the Future, which is especially important if you don’t know where you’re going.

What movies did we miss? Maybe your favorite movie will have a perfect match among our graduation invitations. Or for more inspiration, look for more graduation invitation ideas on our blog.
Graduation Announcements & Invitations

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Kids Art Re-purposed, Mom Guilt Diminished

kids artworkAll year long my kids create art masterpieces of all shapes and sizes, in every medium from crayon to clay. Most of it gets put on display, albeit briefly, to be replaced by the next masterpiece a few days later. And when it comes off the fridge where does it go? In the pile. Actually, one of many piles stacked in various locations in our house. There is a pile in my closet, under each kid’s bed, on top of the fridge and on the top shelf in our family room. My brain knows that I cannot continue to hoard my children’s artwork, but my heart won’t let me throw it out. At least not right away. I have a few ideas for kids school projects to share.

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Pear Tree Operation Gratitude program a success! So, we’re extending it…

operation gratitudePear Tree is overjoyed to announce that we have met our goal of helping teachers and elementary school children send 75,000 cards to our men and women in the military. Starting November 1st, we set out to encourage elementary school teachers all over the country to sign up to receive free Pear Tree Greetings cards, and then inspire children in their classrooms to express their gratitude for our troops’ service. What a success it’s been!

Did you know:

  • It took just 19 days to meet our goal of sending 75,000 cards
  • Teachers in 47 states have participated in this program
  • According Operation Gratitude, there are 150,000 troops in harm’s way at any given time

The program’s popularity has sent our holiday spirits soaring, and is sure to lift the spirits of our troops as well.

Thank you so much to all the teachers that have participated in the program. And, of course, we are grateful to the children for crafting such beautiful artwork and sweet messages that touch our troops’ hearts.

Sometimes you can’t have too much of a good thing, right? We are pleased to announce that we are extending the program. Our new goal: let’s send 100,000 cards. By Monday the 29th, we will send out cards to all teachers who have requested cards to date (we got a little behind because of the interest in our program…but they are coming soon!).  So please continue to sign up!

Thank you for your support,

Liwanag Ojala
President, Pear Tree Greetings

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Personalized Gift Ideas

The season of giving. If you’ve ever given the perfect gift, you know how good it feels. But sometimes, it’s oh so hard. Check out these great personalized gift ideas that boast stylish designs at a price that makes you smile. Go ahead, reclaim that status of Giver of Great Gifts. You deserve it.

Personalized Gift Ideas: hostess gifts #giftideas #peartreegreetings #stationery Personalized Gift Ideas: hostess gifts #giftideas #peartreegreetings #stationery
Hostess Gifts

It will happen. You’ll get a last minute invite, you can’t get to the store, and all you have on hand is a box of dried macaroni. Personalized note cards make great hostess gift ideas. (Plan ahead and have it personalized to really impress–a generic message like happy holidays or thank you works, too!). Always keep some note cards at the ready and you’ll never be caught empty handed again.  Continue reading

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