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Monday, September 28, 2015

Making Time for Scrapbooking

"I don't have time to scrapbook!"

"I will work on my children's photo albums when they go off to college."

"I wish I could find someone that would just make my scrapbooks for me."

"Where do you find the time?"

As a Creative Memories consultant for 13 years, I have heard these phrases more than a few times in my life. I am sure exercise instructors, nutritionists and school program directors in search of volunteers hear similar stories when they are trying to find people to join their programs or take leadership positions in their organizations. The truth of the matter is that life is busy, but whether you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the CEO of your own household, there are ways to prioritize and simplify, and your health and your memories will thank you for it! To find the time to make scrapbooks, you have to make a conscious effort to MAKE the time, and this takes a little bit of planning and goal setting. I would like to talk a little bit about what I mean and I hope that I can help you to shorten your list of excuses and lengthen your list of accomplishments. Whether your goal is to get those pictures off of your phone or camera and into a scrapbook or to make healthier choices with regard to physical activity or items in your grocery cart, I KNOW you can do it!

So, let's take some steps to prioritize and simplify - sounds easy enough. Where do you start?

First, ask yourself if you are overcommitted. Are you shouldering too many responsibilities? Do you feel like you have more to do than there are hours in the day? Do you wish you had more help? Well, join the club. WE ALL DO! While no one's life is identical to that of their neighbor, we really are not that different from one another, and we all have different stressors in our lives. Maybe you have sporting events/practices EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK. Maybe it is a 60 hour a week career that keeps you hopping. Maybe it is being a single parent. Life is hard but we MUST make the time for what matters.

When it comes down to priorities, God and my family come first with me, but preserving memories is a close third because I know that I take these pictures for a reason. I want to remember this life, and I want my children to remember all the things we've done together. Even before I had children I treasured my memories because this was MY LIFE!  Picture albums made me happy when I felt sad and made me happier when I felt glad. They are therapeutic in longer lasting ways than a visit to a spa or a shopping excursion could ever be, and it also makes people feel good when you show them their place in your life's story! Photo albums aren't just for the past or the future, they also enhance the PRESENT! Can the laundry wait one more day? Can you simplify dinner plans for the week? Could you sign the kids up for fewer activities and choose instead to have an extra night at home? All of these are MAJOR decisions that you may not be okay with, but I bet if you thought about it you could come up with at least ONE way to simplify.

Jessica N. Turner wrote a book this year entitled The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You.  Chances are, no matter how crazy we think our own lives are, there is some "fringe hour" in our day that we could use in some way or another. Ms. Turner brings a devotional with her to read - she said she often arrives 5 minutes early to an appointment so she can sit in her car and read just a little bit of it. The point is, you don't need large blocks of time to make time for yourself. Similar to the author, I bring a journal and journal cards with me in my purse and from time to time I will write in them during my lunch break, or while waiting for an appointment. While I am not scrapbooking, I am setting myself up TO scrapbook. Activities like these are what I like to call "pre-scrapbooking!" I also have a Forever app on my phone that with a touch of a button I can click on to upload my phone photos. I have done this in the elevator on the way up to my office. It's those minutes to ourselves that we didn't even realize we had. Use your "fringe hours" wisely and you will be surprised.

The second thing to think about is our "guilty pleasures." I am a  nightowl who stays up late because I have a VERY full time job and I desperately need the evenings to get things done, but no matter how efficiently I try to use my "fringe" hours (that is, the tiny slivers of time when I am not at work and my children are sleeping) I still feel very frustrated some days. I try to use my time well, but I always feel as if there is more that I want or need to do. So what happened? Well, we all have our "guilty pleasures." In this case, I am referring to time wasters. We all have them. Ask yourself what is yours? Mine is definitely scrolling through Facebook. I just love it, I have to say it! I love to post my own photos, see other people's photos, read their stories, learn new scrapbooking techniques, communicate with other individuals with Creative Memories businesses such as my own, etc...But I bet if I made a conscious effort to step away from the computer I would get a LOT more done in an evening.

What is your "time waster?" Is it reality TV shows? Watching hour after hour of recorded movies? Magazines? Is there anything you might put away for an hour to instead devote to organizing your pictures, uploading them to a photo developing service, or even starting that album you've always dreamed of?

Let's make a promise that at least one, maybe two, or (gasp!) three nights this week we are going to try to step away from whatever it is that's frittering away our fringe hours. Instead, find a table, grab a stack of photos, a pen, a tape runner, and a Creative Memories Fast2Fabulous album and see what you can accomplish in that hour instead! It works for me! I have two busy boys, a high pressure career, and a thriving scrapbooking business of my own with customers to take care of, but I don't let that get in my way of telling my life's stories with love! Am I completely caught up? No way! But every day I am making progress towards that goal.

Remember those quotes at the beginning of my post? Let's draw a line through those and make this our new motto:

"An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox" - Lao Tzu

Remember scrapbooks don't have to be fancy, they just need to be finished! Your own handwriting and stories are the best because they will mean the most over time, and the sooner the better while the memories are fresh in your mind. Whether you do them on your own at your dining room table or set one day a month aside to attend a workshop with other "scrapbookers" I believe that you can DO THIS!

Hope you will reach out to me or your own Creative Memories consultant to ask for help in finding the tools and the events to help you reach your goals. It's so important and we are here for you!

Preserving the past, but also enhancing the present!

Fun with my customers!

Years of scrapbooks - my pride and joy! 
Memories over the years, always fun to take down and peruse

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Future is Bright with "Forever" In It

What is Forever you might wonder? Only the world's first SECURE PERMANENT PHOTO STORAGE SOLUTION! I am sitting here in my hotel room after attending the inaugural ForeverLive2015 event and I am just brimming with excitement over the future that Glen Meakem, the CEO and Founder of Forever, is bringing to us.

I signed up over a year ago to be a Panstoria affiliate so I could continue to offer my customers our beloved Historian and Artisan software (as well as fantastic digital artwork.) When the company Forever acquired Panstoria I was intrigued to find out what it was they brought to the table. Turns out they bring a LOT!

Forever offers permanent storage plans for your very best photos - you basically own (not rent) a place in the cloud and that is backed up on three servers. Lost or broken Smartphones, fire, floods, car wrecks, burglaries or computer/hard drive crashes are all threats to our photos, but with permanent online cloud storage those fears can be put to rest.  The Forever Guarantee Fund is similar to an endowment or an insurance policy in that its sole existence is to grow over time and to only be used to upgrade  and maintain the servers and the file formats. And instead of paying every year as you do for home, life and auto insurance, you pay up front to own these photos in full resolution for your life plus 100 years. WOW! You can even pass your account on for future generations. Talk about sleeping safer at night.

NO OTHER COMPANY promises the permanence or the privacy that Forever offers. Shutterfly, Facebook, and DropBox want our information to sell to advertisers, plain and simple. There is no assumption of permanence (they can delete your photos if you are not active after a certain period of time) and they can shrink the resolution to make more room on their servers - they could also go away at any time as we saw with Kodak Gallery (I lost some pictures myself there years ago.) They are not promising us ANYTHING. Even disks  deteriorate and hard drives and computers can crash. Knowing that Forever is investing in not only protecting our photos but also in upgrading along with changing technology lets me sleep a LOT better at night.

Forever is my FOREVER home for my best and most valuable photos. They also offer digitization services and they will scan photos, photo albums, even physical objects. Forever has an app so you can sync your photos to your Forever account from your smartphone, and they will also continue to offer Historian, Artisan and digital artwork. And just launched this weekend is Forever Projects, a simple way to make projects right from your PC or Mac!

Can you tell how excited I am?

I would encourage everyone to start their own free Forever account today by going to my Forever website and signing up. Once you set up an account on your PC you can then download the app to your phone so you can access it on the go as well! Free accounts have 3 G of storage (holds about 1000 photos.) If you need more storage I will be happy to help you with creating a permanent account.

Forever is the future and I am so excited to be a part of it! I want you to be a part of it too - this is too good not to share.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Themed Albums Part 1: Travel Albums

Need some direction on making a perfect Travel album?
Welcome to the first installment of my blog series on themed albums! Themed albums focus on one topic and examples may include an annual holiday album, books that only feature a child's birthday parties throughout their life, and of course travel albums, our focus here today. I hate to pick favorites because I love ALL of my scrapbooks, but there really is something special about travel albums. Vacations, whether short or long or near or far, give us a chance to let go of the day to day challenges and obligations of life, so it's not surprising that these are the moments we most want to relive, over and over again. 

Themed scrapbook projects are nice because you have a finite topic and thus you are not likely to be overwhelmed by the task at hand. Sounds like a great first project for someone with years of photos and no idea where or how to start! Since most people who take pictures have at least one set  of memorable vacation photos, I am hopeful the travel project is a topic that will have universal appeal for all my readers. So gather up your travel photos and get ready to make a fantastic scrapbook!

There are two ways you can approach these types of photo albums. One is an ongoing project that you add to each year with a few pages devoted to multiple trips, and the other is a full book about one spectacular trip. Both are equally fun! I'll demonstrate the difference between the two, starting with the album where you add a little bit after each trip you take. 

1.) Travel Books

 Let's start with the idea of a true "Travel" book, one in which you highlight various trips with several pages devoted to each one. I have one with the following inscription inside the front cover: 

The inscription in the front of my travel album

About a year ago when I wanted to try my first Fast2Fabulous album to document a group of short family weekend trips, I chose Strut Your Stuff. 

Strut Your Stuff Fast2Fabulous Album

I loved the cool blue and green color theme, but with a stack of pictures as varied as a trip to Pittsburgh to see Muse, a trip to Disney World with the kids to have fun at the Halloween party, a beach trip in the spring, my husband's travels to photograph trains, and a vacation to Atlanta, GA to visit the Coke Museum and the Georgia Aquarium, I was unsure if they would all come together on these pre-loaded, predesigned pages.

The work's already done - you essentially get free stickers, free papers, free mats and professional layouts with Fast2Fabulous albums. All you need is your pen, your pictures and a tape runner. I even worked on this one in the car.

As it turned out, these completely unrelated adventures all looked equally beautiful from one page to the next and best of all, this fabulous scrapbook was finished in no time, with only a pen and a tape runner to adhere my pictures to the pages!  

What does Muse have to do with Strut Your Stuff? Nothing, but somehow it works (and I found a perfect place for our tickets)

Disney World? At Halloween? And no orange and black paper or Mickey stickers to be found? You bet! Thank you Fast2Fabulous for doing the work for me.

Look at my husband's gorgeous handwriting and his nice work selecting a few pictures to place in the designated boxes

Georgia Aquarium and the Coke museum and not a single fish or cola sticker needed!

Many vacations documented all in one place, no need for any extra embellishments, our stories told, page protectors slid over, what a great feeling of accomplishment. My family LOVES looking at this book because it brings us to so many fun locations in one sitting! Thank you Creative Memories and Fast2Fabulous albums!

2.) Vacation Books 

The second type of album you could choose is one in which you focus on just one specatacular trip - I will just call this one a vacation book because it is specific to one vacation. I have to admit, I often come home from longer excursions with anywhere from 700-1,500 photos to choose from, so these are pretty common albums for me. I will select my best 500 or so because our albums can hold about that many photos, more if you crop your pictures (which we are not going to do here.) There is something nice about Spargo or  Natural pages with travel pictures, so I am going to feature those in this next section. I will also show off my Tangerine, Plum and Then Some Fast2Fabulous travel book!

The great thing about Creative Memories's traditional albums is that whether you pick white, natural, or spargo refill pages, you will have a large, blank canvas to work on. In addition to all the space for photos and journals, you can also add memorabilia to your pages because the buffered pages are built to repel acid from these. 

Brochures are welcome since Creative Memories' pages are buffered to repel acid
Here my mother has used Natural pages and  cut out pictures and titles from brochures to create a simple title for one of the pages within her Italy album. She also likes to buy postcards to add to her pages - I think that's a great idea. A third trick is to take pictures of the signs of the places where you visit. Are you picking up on a theme here? Yes, she is thinking about the album project while she is still on the trip. Some folks (myself included) even go so far as bringing a journal on the trip to take notes. Others even carry their laptop so they can upload their photos while on the trip before they even get home (guilty again- yes I like to "pre-scrapbook!")

While  my mother doesn't generally take it as far as I do to "pre-scrapbook" she does do a great job of journaling her pages from memory. She either writes right on the pages themselves or in journaling boxes, and on some pages she adds a few simple embellishments like stars or stickers. There is no rule that pages have to be elaborate or time consuming to be beautiful - the most important thing about albums is getting them done and making sure the supplies you use are photo safe and guaranteed to stand the test of time. That's why we only use Creative Memories' albums, pens and adhesives for our projects.

Journaling boxes and postcards - nice, simple page enhancements

A few punched out stars add a nice touch to this page

I will finish off with one of my favorite album stories for people who say they haven't tried Fast2Fabulous albums yet. When my friends and I turned... well, let's just say a round number... we decided to take a trip to the Dominican Republic to celebrate. We had lots of fun and I took 700 beautiful pictures. I uploaded them and ordered them on the Monday night I arrived home, and Shutterfly had the photos on my doorstep by Friday night. On Saturday night I pulled my Tangerine, Plum and Then Some album off the shelf, placed my favorite pictures from the trip in order on the pages (with an extra pack of refills and some slide in pages as well) and after a few more hours early Sunday morning my album was complete! I had never seen anything like it!  Nearly 700 photos, in an album, beautifully documented, less than a week after returning home from a trip and I spent less than 4 hours on the entire thing. Now if that isn't magic I don't know what is - see what you think of my pages!

The Tangerine, Plum and Then Some Fast2Fabulous album 

A gorgeous start to a gorgeous album - I love the color theme in Tangerine, Plum and Then some (it matches our Vintage paper pack)

We're on our way (and the pages sure look like I worked hard but I didn't!)

The food buffet pictures were a perfect place to use our Slide In pages - very simple and no adhesives required.

I love incorporating cards from our Slide In Packs to add a splash of color

Slide in pages are great for trip memorabilia

Completed travel books, ready to put on the shelf

So that's a brief introduction to Travel themed albums - I hope you've been inspired to work on your own project! The sooner you do them after your trip the better because the details will be clearer, so there's no time like the present to start yours. Creative Memories has a gorgeous array of coversets and your choice of white, natural or spargo refill pages, or you could take the route of the Fast2Fabulous album like the ones I featured here! I highlighted two of my favorites (Strut Your Stuff and Tangerine, Plum and Then Some) but they aren't the only ones available - Now Boarding, Changes in Latitude and Sunshine Getaways are some other favorites for vacation books! Check them out at my personal Creative Memories website or that of your own CM Advisor.

Now Boarding CM Fast2Fabulous album

Changes in Latitude CM Fast2Fabulous album

Sunshine Getaway CM Fast2Fabulous album