Sponsored: Worldwide Indexing Event


This post is in partnership with Family Search‘s Worldwide indexing Event.


I don’t know if you know a whole lot about my personal history, but a large part of what got me interested in pointed pen and calligraphy in general was inheriting an exemplar book from my great-great grandfather.

My great-great Wilfred Anderson had written various notes and scrawlings. Best of all, he wrote his family tree on the back of one of the exemplar pages.

Flipping through those pages was an answer to me in a time of a lot of confusion. After we moved back from the Bay Area we didn’t know what was ahead of us. Going through that piece of my history gave me personal clarity on what passion I needed to pursue.

So why this story and why talk about indexing? I’m such a visual person. Being able to search visual records is CRUCIAL for learning about our history. So would you join me in the world’s largest indexing party?

Learning calligraphy has helped tremendously with reading records! It’s been fascinating going through and decoding script! I hope you join me. See below for instructions.

Here’s how:

From July 15-17, FamilySearch International will sponsor the third annual “Worldwide Indexing Event,” bringing 72,000 people from around the globe together online during a 72-hour event to save the world’s records by making them searchable to the public. 

During the 72-hour indexing period, volunteers participate by downloading the FamilySearch software and completing as many names as they would like.  Anyone with a computer and internet connection can join.  

Volunteers have made over one billion historic records searchable online since FamilySearch introduced online indexing in 2008. The demand for indexed records continues to grow as millions of historical records worldwide are added every year.

To join 72,000 teammates in saving the World’s records, visit https://familysearch.org/worldsrecords.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. It is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,921 family history centers in 129 countries.

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    PRINTABLE: Parent Motivator Post Cards



    This post is in partnership with Lily Jade. Their bags are insanely awesome for motherhood and adventuring.

    I’ve fallen head-over-heels for the MEGGAN bag, it doubles as a backpack and has like a zillion pockets with a removable insert that can be easily washed. Connect with Lily Jade on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.


    Parenting can be rough. I’ve found a few things have helped my journey, among them are: my Lily Jade bag (I can hide ALL the food, diapers and calligraphy supplies in those 27 pockets and still have room for more) and the encouragement of random strangers. Some of the most impactful moments as a mother have been when someone was there to lift, give comforting advice, share a laugh and saying that it’s all going to be okay.



    When I first became a mother, I found myself the center of a lot of scrutiny. It seemed to drown out any encouragement I got. As time went on, I listened to the encouragement more and more. It has helped those wounds heal. So I’d like to pay all of that kindness forward in a small way.


    Last month when I flew to Charlotte with the kids, there was a child on the plane that had a terribly hard time with the flight. My heart just ached for his parents, who were likely stressed out by the situation. I heard snide comments about that child by the passengers near me. UGH! I understand that no one wants to hear a screaming kid on a plan, but good grief, I don’t think anyone on that plane was more tortured than the child’s parents. A little bit of understanding goes a long way, in my opinion.


    Oh how I wish I had had a card with an encouraging word to pass along to that family. So I’ve made these so I’m not so unprepared the next time I see a parent who needs a laugh or a bit of encouragement. I thought I would make these available to you as well. You can print them double-sided as postcards for easy mailing or keep the backs blank for a flat notecard or a simple pass-along card.



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    1. Kristie says:

      This is so awesome. Thanks for sharing. I can’t wait to print them out and get sharing. :)

    My Favorite Waterproof Calligraphy Inks


    Let’s talk ink for a bit. It’s been a while since I’ve done a watercolor or a calligraphy post, or any post for that matter. I’ve recently adopted the “slow blogging” method. I spend most of my time teaching these days. You know I teach calligraphy right? If you’re new, it’s a stellar class that includes personal coaching so you know you’re getting the right instruction for your specific needs (and yes, I totally teach lefties).


    Sometimes I find I want to do some kind of watercolor wash after doing an illustration or a name. But I can’t, because the ink inevitably smears everywhere. I thought I’d test out to see how many of my inks are waterproof. Now, I didn’t test all of my inks, I just tested the ones I have that are easily available and most common. I have some small-batch inks that are a little harder to source. I’ve also only tested black (or black-ish) inks. Pigmented inks are a whole different can of worms because of the unique properties from pigment to pigment. If you’re hoping to use a pigmented ink with watercolor, I would recommend trial and error before working on a finished piece. Well, and really trial and error no matter what you’re using before working on a finished piece.


    Among my inks, I tested:



    So what inks do you think performed the best? I personally thought that the Pebeo Encre De Chine and the Ziller Glossy Black would do the only waterproof ink. I was mostly wrong. Continue below to find out which ones did the best!


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    1. Hedy Harris says:

      Thank you this was great. Thanks for going to the trouble to work this out for all of us.

    2. Lady ID says:

      I love sumi ink! I have to ask though – the black/white pen holder – where did you get it?? So cute!

    3. Christina says:

      Thanks for this informative post. I really love your striped oblique pen. Where can I get such a beautiful oblique pen holder from?

    Talking About Depression


    I tend to keep things mostly superficial on the blog here, but it’s my blog so I do what I want. I want to write a little bit about depression, postpartum depression specifically. It’s not something that I thought would ever affect me, but it has.


    For show notes and the podcast episode, click here.

    Subscribe: iTunes | Android

    Briana of The Life Beats Project (if you don’t listen, please do! So many great episodes) asked me if I would talk about my experience with postpartum depression on her podcast. I gladly accepted. As I was prepping for the podcast, I realized that I’ve never really shared my experience in a public forum like this. I tend to keep it quiet for the most part; I’m not afraid to open up to expectant or new moms. I’m not one to push advice onto other parents (plenty of people did that to me as a first-time mom, I became resentful of it), but this is something I’m incredibly passionate about. If my advice helps a mother, I’m happy to pay for the social cost of bringing up something so “taboo”.

    I feel like many approach talking about depression like a pre-teen says the word, “sex”: in hushed, embarrassed tones. We need to change that.

    I GET DEPRESSED. I’ve had struggles with postpartum depression (and depression beyond the baby). I’M ON DRUGS FOR IT.

    There. I said it. It’s out! I’m not afraid to admit I’m on anti-depressants. I’ve been on and off them since I was pregnant with Felix. And it’s been an up and down thing. Some days, my mental health is the equivalent of a couch potato trying to run a marathon without training. I’m a hot mess. Some days I don’t want to get out of bed; but the world keeps spinning, work keeps piling up and the babies still need attention. You’ll hear more about it on the podcast.

    So I thought I would write some notes of my own as a companion to the podcast episode. If you or someone you love has or may have depression, I hope you give it a listen.


    Follow along my #calligraphyquoteoftheday series here


    If you’re in the Utah area, Intermountain Healthcare has a free seminar on understanding mental illness this June 15 at 6pm at Alta View Hospital.

    If you’re a person of faith, you may be familiar with encouragement that “praying harder” or “having more faith” is the best way to cure depression. Eye roll, right? This talk given by LDS Apostle, Jeffrey R. Holland is perfection and addresses that issue beautifully. It goes beyond just “Mormonism”. I encourage you to give it a read.

    Don’t get overwhelmed by the thought of talking to a doctor. Just recently, I found that my depression was coming back. I started withdrawing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. I went back to the last professional that I had seen (my nurse midwife from June’s pregnancy) and talked to her. I felt safe because I had seen her before. She was caring and respectful. Now I’m back on track with my emotions and thoughts under control. If it’s been so long since an appointment you still don’t know who to schedule an appointment with, try a primary care physician first for your annual appointment.

    Jenny Springer’s interview on The Life Beats Project is fabulous. She talks more about long-term depression and how she self-medicated for years before getting help. I love how she talks about “feeding the right wolf”. Working your way out of depression isn’t just talking to a specialist and taking a pill daily. You have to do the things you need to in order to FEED your happiness. It’s a beautiful episode.

    Sometimes you may find it easier to confide in a friend rather than a close family member. It’s totally okay. It’s hard to share those feelings. Starting that conversation can be one of the hardest, most awkward things to do. You can do it. Find someone who you can be accountable to.

    I hope that this is helpful to someone. If you have questions, I’m happy to answer them in the comments. Let’s take back the stigma that depression is something to be ashamed about. 



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    1. Alysa says:

      Thanks for sharing this, Melissa. Grateful for your transparency.

    2. Kell says:

      I’m not sure I’ve ever commented here, but I’ve been following your blog for quite a long time (years, maybe?) and always love the beautiful pictures.

      I just wanted to say that vulnerability is scary, but amazing. I regularly share on social media about my struggles with depression and grieving after my partner dying almost four years ago, and it’s only brought more love into my life.

      If you haven’t had a chance to see it, I recommend watching Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. Her book on the topic is fantastic.

      I wish you the best with continuing to figure out the best path for you through and/or out of depression.

    3. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been struggling! I’m still taking an anti-depressant even though I’ve been stable for six years now. I feel blessed that I have a resource that helps balance the chemistry in my body so I feel like the normal version of myself instead of fighting every day to function. I’m glad to see the stigma starting to fade. I recommend finding a good therapist to the people I talk to who are currently struggling. A friend even went to my excellent former therapist and found the help and direction she was seeking. Thanks for sharing the inspirational article and episode. Elder Holland’s talk is amazing, especially since I used to feel so guilty when I heard church talks on cheerfulness and happiness, but the effort it took to even try was overwhelming. Over time, therapy helped me understand cognitive distortions and put things in perspective while the medicine relieved the anxiety and depressive episodes. I can’t express how grateful I am for feeling like myself for so long now, when there were time it felt hopeless. A good support system of family and friends as well as my faith were also instrumental in recovery and stability. As much as I would wish for a quick fix so the struggle would just go away, it really did take time and effort to change by consistently use the tools and coping strategies I learned to become stable. Thank you for sharing your beautiful talents on this blog. I’ll pray for you <3

      • Melissa says:

        Thank YOU for sharing your words! I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m just so happy to hear you’ve been stable for six years! It’s encouraging for me to read that!! Thank you.

    4. Cynthia says:

      Well said, Melissa! I have struggled as well, especially after my 3rd. And I’m on medication, too! To feel like myself and make me a better mum, I am grateful.

      ‘In the end, I am the only one who can give my children a happy mother who loves life’ ~ Janene Wolsey Baadsgaard


    5. Shelby says:

      Melissa, you’re awesome. We don’t know each other, and even though I sound like a total creep, I love you. I’ve been reading your blog for a loooooong time and still get excited to see a new post because you are so authentic and fun! As most people never guess, I too suffer from depression and I would never have seen it coming from you. But that’s just it! We hide these darker sides of ourselves away and feel ashamed, which is so unnecessary. In recent years, I’ve been working on being more open with my issues with depression. Thanks for continuing to be such an inspiration!

    Freebie: Floral Calligraphy Party Invitations


    Our sweet Miss Penelope got baptized this month a new member of The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon, aka LDS). It was a really sweet day for the whole family, it was hard not to get rather emotional over it.


    As a way to make a big deal out of her birthday and her baptism I threw her a party. The first real party since her dino brunch (favors, printables, invitation) when she turned three. I’ve got an amazing track record, folks. AMAZING.


    As I was looking around online, many of the baptism invitations I found looked a lot like wedding invitations (super formal copy, formal design and a glamor photo). Photos usually included the girl wearing the poofiest princess dress. And while that’s exactly what some girls want (hey, you do you!), it just didn’t seem like Penelope. But hey, I’m sure you could use these graphics for a wedding invitation. Just depends upon how formal/informal the thing is. So, you know, I’m totally a hypocrite.


    For the design, I hand-lettered the whole thing with bits of watercolor. Materials used for the design work:

    For the process, I sketched out the wreath idea, and inked it up. Instead of watercoloring directly on top of the wreath I used a light pad and watercolor paper to do watercolor. I wanted to have as much flexibility as possible for changing things up as the design progressed.

    Then I sketched the outline of the wreath and drew out lines for the text. I inked and scanned. Beyond cleaning up scans, I pretty much just layered everything together and printed. Coming up with the concept took longer than the actual design time itself. It still took a fair amount of time to complete.



    Penelope invited her closest friends to the baptism, but since many of them aren’t of our faith, I wanted to include separate information in case a friend didn’t feel comfortable attending the baptism (everyone’s welcome to baptisms, but it can be uncomfortable if you’re not sure what to expect).

    Since making the artwork, I wanted to put it out there for anyone to use (for personal use only, obviously). So see below for the printable blank version! I think it’d be the perfect printable invitation for a tea party, outdoor picnic, baby or bridal shower. Prints 2 5×7 invitations per sheet. Single-sided, full color. I hope you like it and use it!

    melissaesplin-penelope-baptism-free-printable-3aCLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

    Click the link above to download the printable. The printable is free for personal use only. Alteration or distribution of the files without written permission is prohibited. Feel free to email if you have questions about the artwork (see contact form above or comments section below).


    For the actual party, I didn’t get around to taking many photos of the set up. It was just pure family and friend chaos. But so fun. We decorated for the party with handmade paper flowers and succulents. I managed to sneak shots of the cupcakes I made. I made strawberry vanilla cupcakes with these darling liners that kind of reminded me of flowers.


    The food faire was simple. Make-your-own sandwiches, veggies, fruit, chips, dip, etc.


    And I set up a photo booth for Penelope to take photos with family and friends. As soon as the baptism was over Pen swapped her darling dress for play clothes. She had so much fun goofing off in front of the camera. I printed out all of the images she took with friends and created a little scrapbook for her with them.


    I kind of went a little bit on the crazy side for her big day! Part of me thinks I set a terrible precedence by making a big deal out of it; but I’m looking forward to Felix and June’s big days should they decide to get baptized as well.



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    1. Kristie says:

      Thank you for sharing such a sweet invitation!

    2. Nancy Jones says:

      Love it all! The invitation is so sweet, and I’m really going crazy thinking that your little girl has grown up so much. Congratulations and joy to you!

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