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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Blog Hop!

Welcome to Celebrating your Beautiful Life! I hope you have enjoyed the wonderful ideas in the blog hop so far, and if you are starting here be sure to check out all of the other blogs for some great inspiration - the links are at the end of my post.

It is that time of year when our minds turn to memories of the past and excitement about the days to come. Scrapbooking is near and dear to my heart as I love to record the details of life so as never to  forget them, and it is something that I do not just during special times such as the holidays, but all year long. While I love my shelves and shelves of Creative Memories 12X12 and 8X8 traditional scrapbooks, I am also in love with the many albums and projects I have created digitally. Needless to say, I was VERY excited to find out that Creative Memories was planning to introduce digital artwork for digital scrapbookers!

Creative Memories has announced that it will soon be offering digital images of its artwork! 

For years people have admired CM for its beautiful watercolor paper and stickers, so it will be exciting for their fans to see what they offer when they step back into the world of digital scrapbooking. It is especially exciting for so many of us who are still using our beloved Artisan 5 software (formerly sold by Creative Memories as Storybook Creator Plus but now supported by Forever!) CM has not announced a formal date yet but we do know the artwork will be in a universal format that will work with most scrapbooking software programs.

While we wait with anticipation, let's talk about digital scrapbooking a bit. This time of year is perfect for taking beautiful photographs and it is also a good time of year to give gifts, and there are many different types of projects you can make using digital artwork. Whether it is a gift for yourself or a gift for someone else, printed projects created digitally are sure to be as cherished as traditional ones, and a little bit of artwork goes a long way in making your creations just a touch more special. Since we can only imagine what types of digital papers and embellishments we have to look forward to, I would like to share a few images of projects I have made using digital art kits within Artisan 5:

Page Prints

One of my favorite ways to use digital art kits is to employ predesigned pages (similar to Creative Memories' Fast2Fabulous line!) Predesigned pages make it easy to quickly create a lovely book or page print with many photos, thus making the most of the space (and limited time) you have. The hard work has already been done for you! The pages shown here are actually the inside of a bound digital book I made with Artisan and Forever's digital artwork, but they could also be ordered as page prints and slid into a high quality Creative Memories album (I mix the two up all of the time!) I also have a canvas of the first one!

A predesigned tree using Forever's digital artwork

A predesigned page made this wreath a breeze to pull together

Hardbound and Softbound Books

It is always so exciting to watch your stories come to life quickly through the power of digital scrapbooking. One of my favorite recent projects was a hardbound Christmas 2014 album - I had it in my hands before the month of January was over! I love the speed and ease of digital album creation - I think I am even more creative digitally than I am in my traditional albums because it is easier to play around with your artwork.

A few of my digital 12X12 hardbound books
Watching the pages come to life in Artisan 5

A project view in Artisan 5

A completed two page spread in my 12X12 digital book

Canvases and Facebook Banners

I am giving canvases as Christmas presents this year - I love how these are high quality yet lightweght and easy to hang on any wall. I used Creative Memories' original "Expressions of Love" vellum verses for my wedding banner, and I used Creative Memories' Dance Additions digital artwork from several years ago to create the banner of our recent performance of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe." I can't wait to see how CM's newest designs turn out when they release their digital artwork!

Love my wall art!

FB banner turned into a canvas - what a wonderful gift

A Facebook banner created using the former Creative Memories' Dance Additions digital artwork

Invitations and Christmas Cards

Digital scrapbooking software can be used for a number of things, including invitiations, business cards, letters to Santa and of course Christmas cards! I have even used Artisan to create business cards and gift tags (available for print at the Forever Print Shop.) 

Front of a folded 5X7 card 

Inside of a folded 5X7 card - a project choice within Artisan 5 that can be printed at the Forever Print Shop

As you can see, digital scrapbooking software can open up the doors to many different types of projects, and we are all very excited to have Forever's support of the software we love (Artisan 5) as well as the prospect of Creative Memories offering digital artwork in the future. I have always combined the traditional and digital worlds happily, and this move by Creative Memories is welcomed by many. We will be watching closely for a formal announcement! 

I would love to hear what you think of my projects and CM's announcement so if you would please leave a comment at the end I would be happy to send you a free ebook on photo safety! Be sure to check out the rest of the blogs so you can keep the Christmas spirit going strong - the next stop is Noreen Smith's Organized and Creative Mom!   Thank you for hopping over here, and keep on scrappin'! Fran

Stop 1 KarynCrops
Stop 2 Lisa'sWorkshop
Stop 3 DBrinsley'sMemoryKeepingBlog
Stop 4 CropwithStef
Stop 5 CelebratingYourBeautifulLife YOU ARE HERE!
Stop 6 OrganizedandCreativeMom

Monday, August 29, 2016

Preserve Your Memories Forever!

As the world moves to digital, Forever is right there with you making sure your memories are safe.I have loved the security of knowing my tens of thousands of photographs are preserved safely, privately and securely in the cloud, backed by the Forever Guarantee Fund. My photos and documents go into my account from my phone app, from my desktop using the free Valet photo uploader and from the excellent scanning services offered by the company's digitization facility in Green Bay, Wisconsin. It is so fun to see my memories all in one place and to feel organized and secure in my memory keeping efforts. Even more exciting is the ability to access them all on the go while on my phone, as well as the ability to share them securely with family and friends. I can even create fun projects such as books, canvases, mugs and so much more in the Forever Projects tab!

A snapshot of my home page - those pictures are simply one of many within my "albums" I have created

If you are like me and have LOTS of memories, I would recommend one of the storage packages. All size storage accounts (one time payment only) are 20% off until the end of the September at Software, artwork and printing are also on sale using the code School20, and for now, new Ambassadors get the extra privilege of a 30% coupon at signup. Being a part of the community has been a lot of fun and joining as an Ambassador is the best route for many who are passionate about photo preservation.
It's never a bad time to join Forever (but August is just particularly sweet!)

If you just have a few pictures that you want to preserve and share and like the idea of backing up your smartphone, now is the time to get your name and password set up and to download the ForeverApp for your iphone or Android.Forever offers a free account that will go from 3G to 1G in October so by setting it up now you will get grandfathered in at the higher rate.

I love this company and the promise of privacy and permanence that it offers - there is no price tag on peace of mind. Please comment below if you have any questions or comments and thank you as always for reading! Fran

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Make Your Life Brilliant!

I've written before about the challenges of finding time to scrapbook or to organize your digital images. It is something so many of us aspire to - we know our memories are important and we want to preserve every moment so we can enjoy them later, but so many days slip away from us without doing anything to get us closer to our goal of completed albums. And it doesn't stop with photo albums! Do you have other dreams - dreams of losing weight, dreams of sending more cards to family and friends, dreams of growing your own business, dreams of saving money for a special trip  - that seem to get lost in the habits, routine and shuffle of day to day life? Do you want to make a commitment to be more intentional with your time and make those dreams a reality? Then the Brilliant Life Planner is for you! 

So Much More than a Planner

About a year ago I discovered the Brilliant Business Moms. I loved their positive message and the free printables they sent me to get me on the path of putting my dreams in writing. I filled them out with gusto and made a commitment to myself to make each moment of each day matter. Here are a few of my favorites:

It felt so good to put my dreams, no matter how big or impossible they seemed, in print, and as I filled the worksheets out I began to grow in my confidence that with baby steps, I could get where I needed to go to make my dreams come true! I made miniature copies of my "Big Goal Mind Mapping" sheet once it was filled out and I kept it in my purse as a reminder of why I was doing what I was doing. What an inspiration! I even made a picture collage of one of my top dreams (to become a Lead Ambassador with a company I love called Forever) as an extra reminder to carry with me and guess what - DREAMS DO COME TRUE! By staying on track, sticking to my plans, and working intentionally each day instead of letting time slip away from me, I was able to achieve my dreams. Thanks Brilliant Business Moms! 

As a full time investment professional, Mom, wife, friend, daughter, supporter of other women's businesses, Creative Memories advisor, Forever Ambassador, and personal scrapbooker, I have a MILLION things running through my head at all times. With all of these dreams and only 24 hours hours in a day, no regular calendar was going to get me where I want to go. I needed plenty of room to write out not only my appointments, but also my thoughts, my plans, my challenges, and my list of daily accomplishments and plans for the week/month/year. That is why I am so excited about the 2017 Brilliant Life Planner - I've already ordered mine (I went for the lovely Blue Stripe but they are all gorgeous, inside and out!)

Each planner comes with 4 goal setting pages similar to the free printables I fell in love with, as well as full color on the inside, two page monthly spreads, 37 lined pages for notes, and 8 project planning pages for your biggest tasks of the year. Everyone that buys the bundle now will receive not only the planner itself, but also free printables, a PDF copy of their book Time Management Mama, a free course and all of the positivity and support you can imagine from the Brilliant Business Moms themselves, Beth Anne Schwamberger and Sarah Korhnak. All of this is just $50 during the kickstarter campaign, wow! Prices will go up by $10 once the campaign is over so this is the best deal!

Order your own Brilliant Life Planner!

What are your dreams? Don't let another day get away from you - let's be intentional together! Whether you want to commit to photo album completion and photo organization and preservation, grow a business, lose weight, grow in your job, or just manage your every day life, putting your dreams in print will greatly increase your chances of success. Don't forget to check out the Brilliant Business Moms' Facebook page as well - lots of fun free webinars and encouragement there! Keep scrappin' and thanks for reading!

PS - I volunteered to be on the "Launch Team" for this planner out of sheer love for what the Brilliant Business Moms do - I am not an affiliate and receive no benefit when others purchase this planner through this blog, I am simply sharing the love for others who might want to plan for an intentional and beautiful 2017!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Father's Day Blog Hop

This Father's Day is going to be very different in our home as a month ago my husband's father, my father-in-law, and the boys' Grandaddy Smitherman died at the young age of 65. It was unexpected, and there is definitely a hole in our hearts as we cope with our loss. We honored Jackie at his memorial service with a slideshow, and seeing people's reactions to all of the photos of him at a younger age was priceless. Pictures are powerful and they tell a story of who you are and what you have loved, and they help connect us to the past in happy times and in sad. I was so grateful that as the historian in the family I was able to quickly access all of our precious photographs so that my husband, Chris Smitherman, could put together a beautiful slideshow for his father.

Priceless memories

With these memories fresh, I found it hard to focus on Jackie at this time - instead I am highlighting Chris and the many ways he is a good father and husband himself, just like his own Dad. He deserves more than a Lowe's gift card this year - he has taken on a great deal of additional responsibility with his mother, sister and nieces now that his father has gone, yet he still provides for his own family. I want him to know how much we appreciate him, and to honor what he does for us on a day to day basis! With a busy few weeks ahead, I needed some simple projects that I could knock out in a short amount of time. It doesn't take much to give someone a gift from the heart when you have the right tools and a few printed photographs! I am going to show you a few gift ideas you can pull together before the big day using some of Creative Memories' latest products.

Telling someone you love them as a husband and as a Dad with pictures is easy if you just set aside a few moments to do it

Commemorate a Special Time Together
Before Chris was a father, he was a husband, and while we try to make time for ourselves, it is pretty difficult without formal "date nights." This page layout commemorates one of my favorite trips we took this year - I used the wood grain paper from the "Hello Baby Boy" paper pack, as well as Creative Memories' brown cardstock for mats and decorative touches. The wood grain paper looks perfect with the rustic seafood restaurant as a backdrop - I can never get enough of it! I cannot wait to show my husband these pages. 
I love the way this turned out! The wood grain paper from Creative Memories' Hello Baby Boy paper pack and brown cardstock are perfect for a masculine page for a special man in your life!

 With the wood grain paper from Creative Memories' Hello Baby Boy paper pack it is easy to make a masculine page to highlight a favorite father in your life! I threw in some Brown cardstock for mats and decorative touches and journaled right on the pages as well as in a journaling box created with the Hello Baby Boy Slide In Pack and some numbers from the Year in Review sticker set. 

Not one to waste any space, I journaled everywhere! Stories are so important

The band's logo is actually a photo we took of the screen before the show started - take pictures of signs and logos, they make your pages work so much better! :) 

Hello Baby Boy paper pack (first side)
Hello Baby Boy paper pack (second side)

Creative Memories' brown cardstock
Help Him Celebrate His Children Everywhere He Goes
Now that the school year is over, are you left with stacks of professional photos (school, soccer, basketball, dance, etc...) and nothing to do with them? Don't just put them in a box- cut them up and put them in a little mini album for yourself and for others! Creative Memories is selling these cute little 2X3 Navy Pocket Albums with pages for just $7 and I have always found them to be great gifts for parents and grandparents. I went and looked on Chris' desk and he has the loose photos standing up against his computer monitor - his other mini albums are full already, so I am going to surprise him with this little gem for the newer photos!

Professional photos everywhere?

2X3 Navy Pocket Album with pages holds 16 photos

Fast, easy gift for a Dad

Get those little professional pictures in a book

Wallet sized photos, credit cards, or business cards can easily fit in this affordable little album

Encourage Him to Tell His Own Story! 
Another quick gift is a Fast2Fabulous album. I have talked about these in my blog before, but if you still haven't had the chance to check them out I would definitely do so. I have created some quick pages capturing Chris as a husband and a Dad using the "Stitch in Twine" album pages. Seeing how simple it was to do so, it made me think that a gift of a Fast2Fabulous album, a pen and a tape runner (maybe with a stack of photos) would be an excellent gift for any man this Father's Day. Photos are universal and while men (or busy folks for that matter!) may not care about using elaborate techniques to create pages, they do care about their photos. Why wouldn't they want the best for their memories? Put a pen in their hands and let them tell their own stories!

A Creative Memories Stitch in Twine refill page with a banner strip cut from the Fresh Picks paper pack
Hand that guy a pen!
Stitch in Twine Fast 2 Fabulous Album

For more ideas on ways to honor the fathers in our lives, please continue to Diana Brinsley's blog - the full list of the Blog Hop is below so enjoy getting inspired and have a wonderful June!

Stop1 Fran Smitherman's CelebratingYourBeautifulLife YOU ARE HERE!

Stop 2 Diana Brinsley's DBrinsely'sMemoryKeepingBlog

Stop 3 Stefani Jones' CropwithStef

Stop 4 Sarah Fitzgerald's ClickWriteShare

Stop 5 Lisa Graham Brown's Lisa's Workshop

Stop 6 Noreen Smith's Organized and Creative Mom

Monday, April 25, 2016

Mother's Day Blog Hop Stop Number 1

Welcome to the first stop of our Creative Memories Mother's Day Blog Hop! I am excited to celebrate my own mother today in this blog hop and to spend a little time thinking about how honored I am to be a mother myself. I will start you off with some simple ideas for scrapbook pages to honor the special women in your life, and along the way you will also be able to get inspired by some fun card and gift projects the rest of the team has created! 
So blessed by my parents and the love they have for my own family!
I can think of endless pages I could do to honor my own mother - pictures of her taking care of me when I was a baby, pictures of her when SHE was a baby, pictures of her beautiful holiday preparations, pictures of her with my sons. For the sake of time I decided to narrow it down to my gratitude for one specific act of service she has done for me my entire life - the gift of her sewing skills!

Celebrating a Special Talent

Does your own mother have a special talent you hold dear in your heart? My mother is a wonderful seamstress, and with the new Button Chain cartridge and a simple hand-drawn needle, I was able to make a few beautiful pages about the many projects she has created for us. This is just the beginning of many more scrapbook layouts about her sewing creations I am sure! 

Using the Button Chain cartridge, the Shades of Pastel cardstock pack and the Fresh Picks paper pack, I was able to complement the color of the dress she wore to my wedding. She made it herself, as well as my veil and my "money bag" for the reception!
The button chain cartridge came in handy again here, except this time instead of a long border I actually cut out "buttons." I  drew a simple black line to serve as thread connected to a hand-drawn "needle" made with the black and silver fine tip pens.

Borders from the Fresh Picks paper pack looks really pretty with this shade of purple, and I wanted the journaling and the button chain borders to be symmetrical on each side of this layout. 

How Far We've Come

In my twenties, I had no idea what my future would bring. I studied and worked constantly and prayed that one day I would find the right man and have children, but of course you never know what the future is going to hold. I think the 20-year old version of me would be happy to see that my fears were for nothing, and while I have two boys instead of the two girls I originally envisioned, I am one lucky boy mama! 

Sometimes it's good to just step back and think about how far we've come in our lives. What would the 20 year old version of yourself think if she saw you now? Have you ever had dreams that came true? Don't take those things for granted - they deserve a page or two to tell your own story, don't they? 

Used stickers from the Hello Baby Boy collection to create "ruled lines" for journaling! 

While I no longer have "babies", I was pleasantly surprised to see how flexible the new Hello Baby Boy papers and stickers were. I haven't yet purchased the Hello Baby Girl paper pack but I am willing to bet I will because with these pretty color palettes I can see so many uses outside of a baby album!

I also love how Creative Memories' paper packs have a couple of pages with strips you can cut into borders. I used one of them here to start off my journaling (and you might have noticed in the previous layout I did the same with the Fresh Picks border pages.)

Creative journaling down the side of the page with a border from the Hello Baby Boy paper pack to start it off - "Once Upon a Time" is just one of several cute phrases found in the pack

Mother's Day

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, May 8th and even if you don't have any big plans, take a picture of whatever you are doing (even if it is just picking honeysuckle and enjoying the sunshine!) I created this layout for a Creative Titles post for the CM Blog but just in case you didn't see it, the point of it was not to waste good photo backgrounds! 

I created a title out of shapes cut from the excess background space of photos that might have otherwise ended up in the garbage. The grass would be monotonous if each 4X6 picture was included in my layout, but when punched out using the Blossom Punch, it becomes a lot more fun!

Creative Titles using ABC stickers and shapes punched out from photos

Don't waste those backgrounds :) 
If you have cards and special keepsakes, don't forget you can incorporate those into your scrapbooks as well using Creative Memories' Pocket Pages - they are perfect for holding on to these special items!

I love all of these sweet treasures!

Creative Memories offers Large Single Pocket Pages for displaying your special memorabilia

Whether you are thinking of your own mother, contemplating your role as a mother yourself, or celebrating other special women in your life, I truly hope you enjoy this blog hop and that it will inspire you to do something special with your photos. As always feel free to leave comments - I love hearing from you! Here is the complete list of sites to visit on today's blog hop - enjoy! 

Stop #1 - YOUAREHERE! Fran Smitherman's CelebratingYourBeautifulLife
Stop #2 - Noreen Smith's OrganizedandCreativeMom
Stop #3 - Sarah Fitzgerald's ClickWriteShare
Stop #4 - Candace Bouldin's Scrappin JPEGs
Stop #5   JulieTambrini'sJuliesCMBlog
Stop #6 - Diana Miller's DBrinsleysBlog
Stop #7 - LisaGrahamBrown's Lisa'sWorkshop
Stop #8 - Creative Memories' Blog!