Friday, October 31, 2014

How to Record your Gym Life without Obnoxious Selfies

In March of this year I joined a gym and started spending a lot of time there. Soon I started a strict diet and felt like I spent so much time thinking/talking/researching and working on my health. I knew I had to include these changes into my Project Life album but I didn't want the album to fill up with obnoxious, posed gym selfies. So I got creative. Here's what I've come up with over the months:

1. Mock the Selfie - My husband and I were working out together one day and I thought, why not just join in on the selfie fun. So we flexed, made stupid faces and I added some tongue-in-cheek hashtags over the picture to make it clear we were not taking ourselves seriously.

2. Equipment - One of the classes at the gym is called "Tight Assets" and at the beginning of every class you gather up various equipment. I saw the pile of stuff and thought, hey, there's a photo opportunity. Bam. It made it in the album.

Another one of my favorite gym shots (below) is a machine at the gym I was on. I spotted some symmetry and I am just a sucker for symmetry so snap. Got it.

3. Meals - This one is pretty common on Instagram- there are so many healthy eating accounts and they make their food look extra pretty. If there's a healthy meal you eat over and over, take a minute one day and "style" the shot and include that in your spread. Smoothie pictures are really pretty, too!

4. Self-Timer - Just last week I was trying to come up with more creative ways to document my gym time and since the self-time feature in the newest iPhone software update is pretty handy, I snapped a few while I was doing some "mat work." Just propped the phone up on something that was already on the ground and snap! This one is great for a little action shot!

5. The Subtle Selfie - I am guilty of the gym selfie, but the ones I've done have been subtle. These are ok, right? ;-)

Any other good ideas to document your gym/fitness time?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Top 10 Reasons to Go Digital

Occasionally, when I'm scrolling through my Instagram feed, I see some gorgeous scrapbooking papers or cards and I start coveting. Usually it's the Studio Calico kits that get my heart racing. And for a moment, I get a little sad that I'm not a traditional scrapbooker (paper, glue, flares, stickers etc). BUT then I remember why I love digital and I just keep scrolling through my feed without thinking twice about it. Here are my top 10 reasons for choosing (and loving) digital memory keeping.

1. No Clutter - guys, imma be honest with you for a second. I have a near-debilitating aversion to clutter. Maybe my future therapist can get to the root of this phobia, but for now, I just manage it the best I can. I remember scrapbooking traditionally as a teen and it was such a pain to get all my supplies out, spread them on the floor, then have to put them all back when I had to go do something, I LOVE digital because it's all in my tiny laptop. No paper messes to be seen.

2. Reusable - psychological issues aside, this might be my favorite reason to do digital. I love that every digital element I buy or download can be used over and over! No need to hoard the good stuff! I've been slowly collecting more and more digital paper and it's just great to have such a selection of goods that never deplete.

3. Use Your Supplies for Non-Scrapbooking Things- digital elements, as we call them, are great to have for making invitations, fliers, blogs, wall art etc.

4. Resizable - this is another favorite because sometimes things are made for a 3x4 card, but I want to use it as a 4x6 card. I just Ctrl-T and drag the corners while holding shift. That transforms the digital element while keeping the proportions correct in Photoshop. I use this trick ALL THE TIME. If I like something at a smaller scale I have that option.

5. Re-colorable - ha! That is certainly NOT a word, but if you use digital products and know your way around Photoshop a bit, you can recolor almost anything. A lot of digital products use an off-white or very light gray as the background color instead of white. But that bugs me. I like a PURE white in everything, so I use the magic wand tool to select the off-white and then paint it pure white instead. Easy.

6. Easy to be matchy-matchy - now this one is a good thing AND a bad thing. If you're like me, a recovering 'matcher', then this can be too tempting. In Photoshop you can take the eyedropper tool and find the exact color of anything in a picture, digital element, etc. This can be really good, but, as you'd see in my 2012 album, I overused it. I made every spread have a color scheme and matched every brush, paper and element to each other. Waaayy too matchy matchy. BUT at least you have the option! You can be more subtle and pick the blue from the sky in one picture to be the same color blue as a stamp on a white card in the page next to it. I'm still very much working on the balance between matchy matchy, color themes and minimalism.

7. Less Expensive - not to mention any popular site where people subscribe to monthly kits (oh wait, I already did) but that stuff is expensive! I personally want this to be an inexpensive hobby. I try to do it as cheaply as possible. Which is why it's so great there are a lot of sales - some of my favorite brushes I got on sale for $.99. I use them ALL THE TIME. Like nearly every layout. Keep an eye out for sales- but even non-sale stuff is usually under $5!

8. Many Places to Buy - Digital scrapbooking websites seem to be popping up like weeds. There's so many place to buy and the caliber of products is just going up and up. Other than JoAnn and Michael's, there aren't a lot of options for paper scrapbookers to just walk in and browse for something to catch your eye.

9. Buy Anytime- Sometimes I'm in a creative rut and I've looked through all of my digital supplies and feel stuck. And this is usually around 11:30 p.m. I love having the option of clicking over to my favorite digital stores and buying something inspiring! All from the comfort of my own house. ;-)

10. Backup Files - this one should probably be higher up the list, but I'm not much of a worrier, so I don't think it's likely to happen, but what if my physical albums were somehow destroyed? I'd have my Photoshop files backed up on my hard drive. Another thing to consider is what if someday I want to make an extra copy for the kids? I save all the Photoshop files so I have the option to make photo books of my layouts someday.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Recording Meaningful Passages

The only 2014 resolution I've stuck with is to read more books this year. I know it's vague wording, but I just started my 48th book (but who's counting?) so I'm considering this a success. I think I can hit 55 by the end of the year if I work hard neglecting my kids. ;-)

I bought a notebook when I was roughly 11 years old that was really special to me as I started writing down quotes that I heard in church, read in books, etc. I've kept that tradition for many years and although my 27 year old self would rather have a different notebook, I'm sticking with the one that spoke to my 11 year old self. I'm surprised how often I look through this notebook looking for some kind of inspiration, something to make me smile or just motivation to be a better human. Knowing that everything in this notebook impacted me at some point in my life over the last 16 years makes it one of my most treasured items.

Here's one tip I've picked up along the way that helps me record the meaningful passages in the books I've read.

99% of the time, I'm reading a book from the library. Since I can't highlight or write in the margins (or copy and paste), this is what I do: when I come across a passage that is meaningful or even just a well-written passage, I dog-ear the BOTTOM corner of the page that the quote is on (sorry, library!). Then, once I've finished the book, I take about 10-15 minutes to go through the pages I've dog-eared and find the quote that meant something to me and transcribe it into my notebook.

Some books I don't dog-ear anything. Some books I'm dog-earing nearly every page! (hello, Brene Brown!) There's no pressure to fill up the notebook or make sure every book has something meaningful. Some books are just fluff and that is OK.

Someday I may turn this notebook into something else like a blurb book. But for now, I like my old school notebook. And I love seeing how my handwriting has evolved! (Thanks to computers and iPhones, I'm afraid it's getting worse at a fast rate!)

If you're curious, the books that have the most quotes written down in my notebook (and, therefore have probably impacted me the most):

  • Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Carry On Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, Glennon Doyle Melton
  • Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
  • East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Project Life - Week 41

A few weeks ago, I found out that I was selected to join Ali Edwards' first digital creative team. I'm thrilled to say the least! It's only been a few weeks, but I already love working with the other ladies on the team, sharing ideas and finding inspiration in each other's work. Once you find other people who love memory keeping as much as you do, there's an instant bond. And so many of them are international! (Hello, Canada!!)

One of the perks of being on the creative team is access to Ali's digital supplies. I tried not to go overboard with my new access to so many great brushes, but I counted SEVEN of Ali's brushes on my layout this week. Ha! I guess I did go a bit overboard. I just love them all too much. 

Here's week 41 (Oct. 5- 11). Products listed at the end. :-)

  • Most of the digital brushes can be found HERE, except for the heart one, which I bought forever ago and use ALL THE TIME which you can find HERE.
  • That gold leafy paper is a FREE kit you can get from Pixels and Company if you like their page on Facebook! It's part of a mini kit called Me Time: Part 3 find HERE
  • That plus card I made by downloading a free desktop background from HERE then putting it into a 3x4 card in photoshop
  • Free autumn print from Studio Calico found HERE (get it! and frame it!)
  • That gold plaid paper is from a kit I just bought (on sale for $3.50) from Pixels and Company called My Tribe. Cute paper and elements. Found HERE

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Scoop on Cheap Ink

This is only about half of my current stash of ink.
If I had to trace back how I discovered cheap printer ink, I'd bet it was through one of my former favorite websites SlickDeals. I say former because I may have been slightly addicted to finding deals and buying things I didn't need. So I mostly just stay away for now. But this website, Meritline often has their deals posted on SlickDeals. So that's likely how we became acquainted.

Meritline sells the most random assortment of goods. From shoes to tech stuff. But don't let the randomness turn you off. The website does seem slightly sketchy, but I've had no problems ordering from them.

It's very easy to find the right ink for your printer. You start by saying what printer you have and then they find the compatible ink.

Once I selected my printer, Canon MX882, I saw that a set of 5 cartridges (one of each color: cyan, magenta, yellow, and two blacks) is $6.95 right now. That's $1.39 a cartridge!! You know how much that costs on Amazon? $42 and that only has 4 cartridges for some reason!

Last year my total bill for 80 cartridges was $67.41. That's $1.18 per cartridge.

Their everyday prices are pretty low, but they also have some amazing sales. I wait for one of these sales (I get an email from them each Monday and quickly scan it) and stock up once a year.

UPDATE: They've got a Columbus sale going on right now and my ink is on sale! 4 sets of ink (20 cartridges total) for $14.95!! If you have a Canon Pixma, this deal might work for your printer!

**I'm not affiliated with Meritline in any way. Just sharing a good deal! Happy printing!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Project Life - Week 39

In the Project Life world, people tend to document on a weekly basis. The first year I did PL, I decided that weekly was too much to handle and I went monthly instead. And I'm so glad I did. I eased into it. Because as a beginner, it can seem SO overwhelming to document each week. And it is. But now, two years after I began, I can't WAIT until Sunday night to document the week before. So it's ok to not do a weekly layout. I just feel like sometimes people need to tell other people that it's ok to do something a little differently and NOT feel like you have to apologize for it, you know?

The whole point of that yapping intro was to explain that each of my layouts is numbered 1-52 depending on the week of the year. I know this is weird since in real life we don't say, "oh that happened in week 13." It's weird, yet it also makes sense somehow. Ha....

So, without more rambling, here's week 39 aka September 21-27.

One of my favorite ways to add a little texture is to use digital paper behind one of my digital stamps and use a clipping mask (as seen in that scalloped circle). I'm sure I'll do a post on this in the future.

Design D is a little tricky to get to look right, so it's lucky that all my pictures happened to coordinate with bits of red in nearly every pic.
Ok, I lied. Ink post is next. ;-)

My Most Frequently Asked Question

Black Friday 2011. I was ready to pull the trigger on a nice printer that could print high quality photos. I had seen Project Life popping up on some blogs and knew I wanted to try it starting in January 2012. So I read up on the Black Friday deals and settled on the Canon Pixma MX882. I went into a Staples and looked at the printer but I hesitated and asked the salesperson for advice. She said I didn't want that printer because the ink was so expensive. So I walked out empty handed.

Later that same day, we were in another town and I saw another Staples. I couldn't get that great deal (half off!) out of my head, so I went back in and foolishly asked another employee what he thought of the printer. Once again, he said I didn't want the Canon because Canon ink cartridges were so expensive. And, once again, I walked out empty handed.

The next few weeks I was bummed- I needed a printer and I knew that the cost of ink could be pricey, but I wanted to print my photos at home. My husband saw my dilemma and went out and bought the SAME printer at Best Buy for FULL PRICE. DANG. And guess what!? I LOVE my printer. Moral of the story? Get the deal before it's gone! Or don't listen to Staples employees. Or something...

So, the question my friends, family and IG friends ask is: What printer do you have and do you love it? The answer: Canon Pixma MX882 and YES!

Here's why I love my Canon printer: 

1. It has 5 separate ink cartridges- yellow, magenta, cyan and two blacks- one for photos and one for non-photos. When one color runs out, you just replace THAT color. In some printers, the colors are all together so when one runs out, you have to replace the whole thing.

2. It's wireless. I often print from my couch while watching The Good Wife. ;-)

3, I've had NO problems with it in the 3 years I've had it. Despite printing on a nearly daily basis.

4. HIGH print quality. And I print on "standard" quality (rather than "high" quality) 95% of the time

The ONLY thing I'm slightly worried about is how the pictures react to sun. My husband had some up at his desk and they had significantly faded. This isn't a huge issue since my album is usually closed, but it is a concern in the back of my head- and I wonder if it could be the paper, the ink, etc.

I tell all my friends/family to buy a Canon. I'm just so impressed with it. Have you seen the new WHITE Canon printers!? I'm drooling over those. If mine ever craps out on me, that's what I'm getting next.

Next post: where I buy my ink for crazy cheap. Hint: it's a semi-sketchy website you've probably never heard of. ;-) 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Why I Record

I record to have evidence of where I've been and who I was.

I record so I can remember the little moments that I would have otherwise forgotten.

I record to prove that I was not a bad mother. 

I record to stroll down memory lane when I'm feeling nostalgic.

I record because when my kids look back, I see their faces light up as they remember the good (and bad) times.

I record knowing that should anything happen to me (I'm a bit morbid sometimes), my kids will have a fairly good account of what their lives were like and who their mom was.

I record because I wish there were more records of me as a child.

I record because it feels like the right thing to do. And I truly love it.

Title page of my first Project Life album