Monday, December 31, 2012

iPod Pictures and Scrapbooking

I recently listened to a Paperclipping Roundtable Podcast about using your iPhone or camera phone for taking pictures. I enjoyed listening to the guest talk about using their phones to document everyday moments in their families and how to take pictures that are beautiful and artful. I don't use my camera to take pictures because it is a crappy phone and I'm cheap. I do, however, use my iPod touch to take pictures, even though the quality isn't as good as my regular camera, which is a point and shoot. I usually have my iPod everywhere and it often becomes the most convenient option when capturing family moments. After listening to the podcast, I want to learn how to better utilize my iPod camera and take better pictures.

I have made a couple of pages using iPod pictures that I want to share here.

Several months ago, our family went to Najd Village Restaurant, a restaurant which serves authentic Saudi food in Riyadh. Now this may not seem like a big deal because I live in Saudi Arabia, but you would not believe how hard it is to find a restaurant which serves authentic Saudi cuisine. You can easily find lots of international foods from American to Thai, but Saudi food requires a lot of time to prepare, so few restaurants attempt traditional dishes. Along with the food, Najd Village offers atmosphere. You go into rooms which resemble old Saudi homes, sit on carpets and lean on cushions, and eat your food on the floor. It is a really great experience. When our family visited Najd Village for the first time, I forgot my camera, but I did have my iPod. The pictures were grainy and poorly lit, because the room was pretty dim. But I took my pictures anyway.

I didn't know what to do with them because of the poor quality until taking a class from Big Picture Classes which featured a sketch a day. One of the sketches called for using a grid with 2 x 2 pictures and 2 x 2 squares of patterned paper. When I saw this sketch, I realized that my Najd pictures would be perfect for this. The quality of the pictures wouldn't be so bad in small prints. I downloaded the pictures to my computer and then used my Canon Selphy Photo Printer to print out my pictures. I think the pictures turned out great and the layout really works in sharing this great story our family's adventures living in Saudi Arabia. 

I shared this second layout a few months ago, but is worth mentioning again here.

 My toddler has a habit of falling asleep in really odd places, as long as he has his blanket and pacifier, he is good to go. I started snapping pictures of him using my iPod and then uploading them to Facebook because they always made me laugh. After I had taken 7 different pictures on different days and times, I realized that I definitely had a story here worth scrapbooking. I downloaded the pictures to my camera, printed them with my photo printer and created this page, which I think is funny and great. It is one of my favorite because of the pictures which totally tell the story.

Most of my scrapbook layouts feature pictures taken with my Fujifilm waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof camera (which isn't super expensive but kind of a necessity when we swim a lot or go out into the desert), but I can definitely see myself using more and more pictures from iPod because of the convenience of it. Plus, those pictures do capture those moments and stories I want to record.

Friday, September 14, 2012

New Projects

I have not been working directly on my scrapbooks lately. I haven't felt terribly inspired, which is okay. Inspiration sometimes comes and goes in waves. I think I'm at a low point. In lieu of pretty scrapbook pages, I am making a Blurb book out of my blog entries. It has been tremendously fun to go through my old posts and compile them into a book. I'm also cleaning up my gmail accounts.

In the meantime, I made a page about my son's funny nap habits for the Big Picture Classes: Big Idea Festival. One of the presenters challenged people to enjoy the moments. Right now my moments revolve around a toddler who will sleep anywhere (except church and his bed) if he has his pacifier and blanket. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Silent Charity Auction for Displaced Ethiopian Maids

I wrote the following post on my other blog about the silent charity auction for Ethiopian Maids. Please follow me to In a Maze of Beige and learn what you can do to help out Ethiopian Maids who desperately need your help.

Here are the three scrapbooks I made and donated to the event.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

First time ever. . .

I've been to the New Jersey Scrapbook Expo two years in a row. In 2011, I went for both days and went to 13 classes. I was very busy. I also did a lot of shopping. I came away with 25 double page spreads, so it was pretty much awesome.  Anyhow, as the expo rolled around this year, I was feeling really sad about not getting to go. I decided to try an online class from Big Picture Classes. The classes aren't too expensive and so I signed up for several classes.

My first official course, where you should try and follow along with a teacher, started on Thursday. The class is called 28 Days of Sketches : Round 2. So far, we've had 4 sketches that we are invited to make our own and then post our finished layouts in a gallery. 

The sketches are great and I'm having a lot of fun with them. I was nervous about posting in the gallery though as I have never posted any of my layouts in a Scrapbook gallery. I've gotten some nice comments on my layouts though, so I feel a little better.

Here are the four layouts I've made so far:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Some new ideas

I've working to keep up with documenting our family history. Living in Saudi Arabia is terribly exciting because we are having so many new experiences. In order to keep up with it all, I've created two blogs. One blog is a public one where I write about interesting experiences we are having in KSA. The other blog is a record of the weekly emails I send to my parents and friends. My weekly email details events and happenings with our family. I also include 6-10 pictures with the emails. I've been doing these emails for a long time. Unfortunately, I never did very well at keeping a record of those emails. They basically come down to journal entries. By keeping a private blog, I can post each weekly email with pictures.

I plan to have both blogs printed. This will then leave me time to spend creating pages that are meaningful to me. I have a blog which records a good portion of 2009 and 2010. I'll try and pull my emails from 2010 to finish off the year. Then I'll make a book from that blog. I'm also going to work on pulling my email letters for 2011. It's just good to keep a record.

I plan to do this so we have a complete record. I don't want the things I post on my email letters to be shared with the world. That's why I plan to keep two blogs.

I also need to get my Stranger Here blog printed out. But that's coming.

In the meantime, I'm still plugging along. I discovered that I had left a lot of the 2010 layouts I had made back in storage in the U.S. So I guess I'll make everything fit when I get back. In the meantime, I only have a few more pages there. So I'm definitely moving along!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Layouts this week

After finding the 4x6 Photo Sketch Blog, I was so inspired by the many sketches I found on the website. I organized most of my 2010 pictures and completed 8 layouts from those pictures. I had such fun creating these pages as they brought back some wonderful memories.

 I just love these stickers. So cute. And I can't enough of my little boy's blue eyes.
 Boy, my little guy had chubby cheeks!
 These were some leftover pictures I had from a couple trips to NYC. I took the text from Alicia Key's song, New York. I think it is so cool that I used to live in a place close to that amazing city. It took me a long time to warm up to NYC, but the more I went, the more it grew on me.
 NYC on Christmas Eve 2010. What a fun day I had with my sisters. This layout was adapted from a sketch I found at 4x6 Photo Sketch Blog.

 This layout was inspired by this sketch.

This final two-page layout is probably my favorite, documenting a trip my boys and I took to NYC to see a great exhibit about King Tut. I adapted this final sketch from 4X6 Photo Sketches. I had four photos and lot of text. I decided to look for sketches with more photos, and use text where photos were supposed to go. I think it turned out really great. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A flip book about Sweden

After finishing my 2007 scrapbook album, I had a pile of pictures that didn't make the cut. Either they didn't tell the story I was trying to share,or I didn't want to devote an entire layout to one or two pictures. But the pictures were important to me and do tell snippets about Sweden. I've been puzzled with what to do with them. I finally decided to make a flip book of the pictures. I clued the backs of two pictures together, so each pair is glued together, cut up 4 sheets of cardstock into 4 x 6 rectangles, and combined the two. I want to bind the book with a wire binding--so that will have to wait until I get back to the states. I also need to journal for each picture. I'm also waiting on that, because I would like to buy some journaling tags or something that match the look I'm going for. In the meantime, the project is started. I've shelved it until I can return to the U.S., but I do have a very clear vision for what I want for the book.
I like the idea of a flip book for my coffee table to share with guests my love of Sweden, without overwhelming them by handing them 5 12 x12 albums with 100-200 pages in each book. I'll probably do the same about Saudi Arabia. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New tactics

After the press to finish my 2007 scrapbook, I'm a little tired of working exclusively with 4 x 6 photos. I also want to capture the memories and events that are happening right now.

In an effort to record events from 2012, I will be doing the following:
1) Make a blog book from my posts about our time in Saudi Arabia.
2) Make scrapbook pages from my weekly updates that I mail to family and friends. The format will be simple with the text being included and then a few highlight pictures from the week.
3) Spend more time making artsy pages on meaningful things--i.e. development in the kids, feelings about being a mom, just stuff that I don't want to get lost. And it will, if I don't record it now.

I am trying to work on parts from 2011 as well. I made photo calenders for my mom and myself this year, with pictures from the last year. I'm going to use the month page as an introduction to the month. And then I'll scrap my favorite memories/events from the year.

I mentioned earlier that I'm tired of having to make do with 4 x 6 photos. I usually operate that way because online photo printing services like shutterfly and snapfish frequently offer specials on batch photos. That is a fine way to do it and saves money. I do have my own photo printer, but each 4 x 6 print costs about 33 cents apiece. I suppose I could get photos printed here in Riyadh, but I decided not to gamble. I bought 3 big packs of photo paper and ink for my little photo printer. In order to be frugal, I'm printing more than one photo per sheet. It's kind of fun to operate this way, because I'm pre-planning my pages, looking at pictures, figuring out the layout, and then printing my pictures. It's a little different process than what I've used in the past, but I needed something different. I felt like my last few pages were uninspired and I want to get over that creativity jet lag. I'm sure I'll pick up again and feel the motivation.

 Mud pie: This was such a fun page to make. My youngest two children spend at least an hour a day making mud pies outside in our back porch. It's a really messy process that kind of drives me nuts. But my children love it! They get so dirty and they are so happy. Anyhow, I took these pictures to document this little ritual they have. I asked my 5-year old daughter to tell me why she likes making mud pies. She obliged with this paragraph about the delights of mud pie making. I found the sketch from a CK magazine. I liked the linear look of the photos being places on one side and then the text on the other side. I had this cute paper with a lot of embellishments that appealed to me. I liked the playful feel of the paper, yet it is organized and easy for the eye to follow the patterns. I matted the photos on squares of coordinating paper and then mounted it on a red block of paper. I do like structure and organization on my pages.

 January 2011: A very easy page to make. I chose a coordinating color to match the flowers on the calender page. I like the look of the torn notebook paper edge. I plan on spending some time documenting the crazy snowstorms we experienced in New York.
Choo-Choo: I made this page from a kit I bought from Piggy Tales. My youngest son loves playing with his wooden train tracks, so it wasn't hard to put this page together. The original layout called for 2 photos, but I had four photos I wanted to showcase. I think it looks great and tells a visual story of my son playing outside.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I just completed my 2007 scrapbook album. 2007 was an incredible year for our family. We spent a really special 6 weeks in the Middle East. I went to Amsterdam for my birthday. My husband graduated with his PhD from Lund University in Sweden. And we went on an awesome 10 day trip to Europe with my mother-in-law.

I made a really cool 40 page 8 x 8 album of my Amsterdam trip. I made photo books of my husband's graduation and party and of our European trip. I'm still working on the Middle East trip. These books were all done in previous years.

But the big news is that I FINISHED my 2007 album. It really was a big year and I took a lot of pictures trying to capture all the little things about Sweden and our time there. So I had a lot of pictures to scrap. I had completed pages from January to the middle of March prior to moving to Saudi Arabia.

Here's the rundown. I've been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for 87 days. In that time, I've made:

* 14 pages covering 2010 and 2011
* 3 mini-books (1 happy book about my youngest son and daughter, 1 board/flap book about my family, and 1 little mini board book)
* 2 wall layouts
* 68 pages from 2007

Yeah, I've been busy. I've pull out my stuff most weekdays and try and do at least 1, if not 2, layouts per session. Not all my layouts are amazing works of art. Some are just really basic. Today, I was in the mood to finish everything and so I did 6 layouts in 2 hours. Really, I'm okay with that. I wanted to finish telling those stories and get that album out of the way. Some layouts ARE special and really well done. Sometimes those layouts take time and other times, they come together really quickly.

I've been immersing myself in magazines, studying Creating Keepsakes and Scrapbooks Etc. and the magazines have given me some great ideas. I'm writing down my ideas and thoughts.

What's next? Well, I have 2010, 2011 and the present, not to mention 1998-2002. Right now, I think I am going to spend some time in the present and working a bit with 2011. I also have this cute little book that I am almost finished with about my 35 favorite things (in honor of my 35th birthday).

Not to brag to much, but I have albums from 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, plus lots of little books about my kids. I'm happy with my progress. Each year, I make albums for my parents and in-laws. And I've made many other books. I feel like my current family history is well documented.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My organization method for pictures

I’m mainly writing it to clarify my process about organizing my photos and preparing them to scrapbook.
Two facts that drive my process:
1. I scrapbook chronologically.
2. I function best when I am organized and efficient. For some reason, this creates an environment where I can be highly creative.
Photo Organization
Film Camera
Pre-digital camera days I had a film camera. I printed doubles and organized the photos chronologically in photo books. I saved my negatives chronologically in a box. I dated and labeled the negatives so I can easily retrieve them if needed.
Digital Camera
Organizing Photos on my computer:
I first make a folder on my computer labeled with the year.
I have folders on my computer labeled: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Within each year, I label 12 sub folders labeled: 1-January, 2-February and so forth.
Within in the month sub-folders, I organize my photos by date and activity or person. So for example: 1-1 Jan 2011 Ringing in the New Year, 2-3 Jan 2011 The baby plays with his toys, etc.
Downloading photos:
I try and download my pictures once a week, usually on Sunday. I use my Microsoft program because it keeps the folders organized the way I like it. I usually write an update and include pictures from the week.
I’ve started to edit my photos on Sunday. I use Picasa, Google’s free photo-editing software. I usually run a batch edit and then crop individual photos as needed. Picasa has a text feature that I’ve started to use. I usually just write a few words about the picture.
I use Picasa because it is free and easy to use. I know that Adobe Photoshop Elements is probably a much better product, but it requires more time than I am willing to give it to learn the program. Picasa is just at my level and still allows me to quite a bit. It’s also very easy to uploads pictures to email, blog or buy.
Organizing Photos to Scrapbook
This part takes two steps.
First, I go through the photos I want to print and make copies of them in a separate folder. I group them in groups of 50 or 100 so I can take advantage of photo printing specials I receive.
Then I make an Excel Spreadsheet. I give a title or them for a group of pictures, date of the pictures, number of pictures, and how many pages I think I will make. I also include a box for marking the page done. This way I can quickly see what I’ve done and what I have left to do.
Why the spreadsheet? Well, I am extremely frugal and often use double-sided cardstock. I hate not using the other side of the paper. So I have to plan spacing and themes. Doing this helps me make the maximum use of my supplies. I also have found that it keeps me focused and on task.
Case in point: I’ve been working on my 2006 album for a few years now. I made random pages and had created quite a few. But I didn’t have a cohesive plan or structure for the album. When I finally sat down, analyzed what I had and what I needed, I was able to print the pictures I needed and pull the album together very quickly. In fact, I was able to make almost 50 pages in a month.
I also find that this process helps me take pictures and supplies to a crop. I can easily pull out enough pictures to do a few pages and not bring everything I have.
If you scrapbook, what is your organization process? Do you work best with a free-form style or are you highly organized? Do you use a similar process that I do?
I suppose the whole process seems a little bit rigid, but it works for me. I function best with organization and purpose. It’s hard to make goals and meet them when you don’t know where you stand or how much you have to do. I’ve floated along for too long and now feel like I need to maximize my time. Ironically, all this organization and structure has opened the floodgates for ideas and creativity. I will streamline the process as I see fit.

Scrapbooks vs. Photobooks: The Smackdown

I’ve made quite a few scrapbooks and photobooks. I find the process for creating both enjoyable. Both have pros and cons that I would like to discuss.
1. Reasonably-priced: Traditional scrapbooks can be a hefty investment. You have to pay for the album, picture printing, page protectors (if the album is larger than the 20 pages included with the album), scrapbook paper, adhesive, and embellishments. When you make a photobook, the cost is significantly reduced. I recently made a 12 x12 photobook of a vacation we took. I did have a coupon, so it was $36.00 total for the book. I could not have printed the photos in the varying sizes used in the book or the album for that price. Both Snapfish and Shutterfly seem to have frequent sales on photobooks.
2. Efficient to make: It took me a few hours to create my vacation book with 28 pages. My text was already written as I just copied posts from my blog. A similar traditional scrapbook would have taken me at least a month to make, if not longer.
3. Less bulky: Traditional scrapbooks are just plain bulky and heavy. It is difficult haul around the big books. Photobooks are sleek and compact. Yet you still get a high quality product.
4. Easy to make copies: I love that you can print several copies of one book. That is efficient. I recently made a photobook compiling some family heritage photos I had digital copies of. It was so easy to share the digital version of the book with my family and they could order copies easily. I have made books in the past for my parents and in-laws for Christmas presents. It really saves a lot of time. Eventually I want to scan my traditional scrapbooks and print them as photobooks for my children.
Good for people who don’t scrapbook but want to compile their pictures in a meaningful way: If you aren’t super crafty or have a hard time creating pages, I think photobooks are a really excellent option. The designs are nice, simple and easy to use.
Limited designs: I have frequently felt frustrated by the templates or the inability to manipulate the page I want. When you choose a pattern, that is what you get for the entire book. While I appreciate a cohesive design, I want more variety within that design. Photo sites could really benefit from some good paper designers.
Text: I’ve used both Snapfish and Shutterfly and I find both text features slow, laborious, and difficult to use. In fact, entering the text in the books takes the most time for me, even when I’ve already got it written. I find the spellcheck feature to be faulty, highlighting words that aren’t misspelled. When you are editing, you can’t see the entire body of the text so you can’t really check for grammar mistakes or problems in the text. If your text doesn’t fit in the space provided, its hard to see how to cut the text down. The text feature has often shut my computer down.
Project versus page focus: While I love being able to complete an entire project in a few hours, I also really enjoy the process of creating individual pages. I miss that joy when I create an entire book.
Lack of embellishments: While you can put your own extra embellishments in the book after it is printed, I never do this, but sometimes I would like a digital feature added.
I feel hampered in my creativity by the templates and designs because I’ve scrapbooked so much.
Pros: I guess I’ve already covered some of these in my discussion about photobooks.
Variety of design and theme: I’m only hampered by imagination in what I create. There are endless designs available from the internet and stores. I have a large stash and feel like I have a multitude of designs at my disposal.
Ability to manipulate to my liking: I’m in control of the creative process, not a computer template or program.
Creative process: I love taking the time to slow down and create something meaningful. As I work with pictures about my experiences and family, I process those experiences, adding meaning and richness to my life. Much of my life involves endless mundane tasks. It is rejuvenating to sit down and make a page that will never be undone or tracked with mud or splashed with juice.
Fun to shop for: I love paper and pens. I love being able to shop for pretty things that I can use to create. I’m not a shopper, but I do enjoy shopping for scrapbook supplies and books.
Scrapbooking is a serious hobby for people who want to create meaningful books about their lives and experiences. If you enjoy the creative process, beautiful papers, pens and embellishments, then traditional scrapbooking is for you.
Cost: While I shop sales and stretch my supplies, it is an expensive hobby. Printing photos costs money, whether you print at home where you pay for ink and paper or buy it online where you pay for shipping costs as well as printing costs. I tend to print 4 x6 photos online because the larger sizes costs more. I have a small photo printer where I can print up to four photos on one 4 x6 sheet.
Bulky books: I don’t do 3D embellishments and tend to avoid metal embellishments as well, but my books are still heavy and large. They take up a lot of space and are hard for my kids to look at because of the size. I worry that I would lose my precious books in a fire.
Time: It takes a lot of time to create my scrapbooks. I don’t begrudge that time, but I know that many people simply don’t have the same amount of time at their disposal.
While the cons of traditional scrapbooking are prohibitive, I think it is important to point out that many hobbies cost money. It’s just up to you and what you value.
I tend to make traditional scrapbooks because I enjoy the creative process. It makes me happy. But I am not above making photobooks to help me save time, money or energy. I think the bottom line is using what works best for your life and needs.


I scraplifted this idea from Creating Keepsakes Jan. 2009, pg. 42. I was drawn to the original layout because of the colors, well-ordered grid-design, and the structure of the page. I also liked the attractive journal/title circle spot. I don't usually follow every design so closely, but I chose to do so with this sketch.

The background paper is Bazzil Basics cardstock. I used patterned paper scraps I had from stuff I bought at Michaels a few years ago. I think the series was a Monkey theme. I used random stickers that I happened to find. I also like the way the stripes tie all the colors together and keep the eye moving over the page.

This layout tells the story of my son, at 3 1/2, getting tubes in his ears when we lived in Sweden. I took WAY too many photos of the event and actually completed a second page on the back of this one that completes the story.

The second page is a modified version of the previous layout. I had more pictures and utilized the paper scraps in a different way, not using such large sections. I repeated the stripe strips and flowers and the circle/journal element.

Because I have to get it out

I think about scrapbooking a lot. But I don't want to bore my husband and kids with my thoughts about the process. So I am creating this blog with the intention of being able to write about my thoughts.

Here is a post I wrote on my other blog about why I scrapbook.

As a kid and then teenager, I filled journals with my thoughts and experiences. Writing was theraputic and meaningful to me. Then I went to BYU. There was a contingent of scrapbookers in one of my wards. And immediately my streak of perversity struck. How were scrapbooks better than my journals, filled with my words and a few photos?
Then I got married and a year and half later found myself expecting my first baby. Suddenly, the camera I never used became important. And my journals–occasionally written in. Life was so busy for me. So when my first son was born, I began to scrapbook, somewhat haphazardly. I enjoyed the process of finding pretty paper, writing and adding my bad photos.
Then we moved to Sweden. And suddenly, I felt very pressed to scrapbook. I wanted to document every single detail about our experiences. I snapped photos at the supermarket, took pictures of the bus we rode and our bikes, snapped endless pictures of Lund with all its amazing and varied architecture. My children were little and I knew that memories are fleeting. So I wanted to create a body of memories that my family could refer to and trigger their own memories.
And so I began to scrapbook in earnest. Somehow in the process of documenting those details I began to process and assign meaning to our experiences. When I felt discouraged about parenting or frustrated with my kids, I could turn to cute pictures of them and feel better about what I was doing. When I felt the wanderlust bug bite me, I could turn to pictures about our adventures and relive those experiences.
When we moved to New York and embarked on a quieter phase of our lives, I found the process of creating rejuvenating and uplifting. I could create something that would be finished and never undone.
And finally, I scrapbook so that the pictures I take don’t become meaningless piles for my kids to wade through. My mother has boxes of photos. Sometimes we can place the photos and other times we can’t. It makes me sad that those photos aren’t arranged and organized. I met my great-aunt this summer and spent a day with her going through her scrapbooks and family heritage photos. She had given her photos context and meaning with her words. She had included bits from her mother’s notebooks and recipes written in her mother’s own hand. It was a veritable treasure trove for me. As she shared her stories and experiences I felt linked to my great-grandparents and past in a tangible and powerful way.
My great-aunt told me that her parents had stacks of photos that they loved going through and looking at. Sadly, they hadn’t written dates or names on the back. After their deaths, there were some people and places in photos that couldn’t be identified by any living descendent of my great-grandparents. I don’t want to do that to my children or grandchildren. I want them to feel connected to our family history and heritage.
And so I scrapbook. When my daughter asks me to tell her a story about when she was little, we pull out the 2006 scrapbook and I show her pictures of her birth and the many pictures of her, looking like a tiny porcelain doll dressed in pink. When we start wonder when an event happened, we pull out the scrapbooks and find details that we had forgotten.
I may never be a famous scrapbook designer. My pages will never be published in a national scrapbook magazine. But my family loves and treasures the scrapbooks I’ve made. I’ve given my experiences and life meaning and context in books that will last a lifetime.
I realize that not everyone has the same drive I have to scrapbook. But if you take pictures, please at least put names and dates on the backs of the photos or tag them digitally, so that your families will have context and meaning when they inherit boxes of photos or disks.