Friday, September 29, 2023

Challenging Industry Norms: *unique* photo-memory preservation

I was recently interviewed by CanvasRebel magazine about the work I do with photos and memories (and videos, and more!).  

The interviewer put my article under the Challenging Industry Norms section of the website, and I couldn't agree more.

Believe it or not, the industry norm for preserving something as irreplaceable as our memories is: 

  • photo print materials (digital photo-memory books) bound with glue that causes pages to crack, yellow, and fall out 
  • photo print materials that do not include a 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • cloud photo/video storage that can be discontinued at any time, including deletion of photos and/or accounts as well as fine print reserving rights to sell your data and/or your photos
  • cloud photo/video storage you can't pass on to another person
  • digitization of old memories (converting VHS tapes, slides, film, etc. to digital form) with less than stellar results
That's the norm.

And none of it is acceptable.  

Learn about preserving photos and videos (etc.) in a unique way by reading my Canvas Rebel article by clicking here:

If you'd like to do things different from the norm, get started memory-keeping with Forever here.  It's simple, straightforward, guaranteed, private, and is head and shoulders above anything you've tried before.

There's even a convenient and helpful way to get all the memory-keeping you need!

Share this article with someone you know who is ready to stop settling for average.  There's more!  The industry standard isn't good enough for our photos & memories.

Share this post using the social media share buttons at the left,
and Pin this image above to Pinterest.

Friday, September 8, 2023

10 Gift Ideas that Won't Be Re-Gifted

Gift-giving--especially to certain people--can be challenging.  It can be difficult to find just the right gift for just the right person.  What if they don't need or like what you've chosen?  What if they just re-gift your gift?   

If you're ready to resort to gift cards (and who could blame you?), you've come to the right place.  You're about to become the Queen/King of Gift-Giving because these 10 gift ideas are sure to be enjoyed for years to come!  

Let's dive in to these fantastic gift ideas!  The only thing you'll need to get any of these gift ideas is a Forever account.  It's free, and if you're new to Forever, it comes with a $20 coupon that you can use toward any of these items.  Win-win!  Plus, all of these ideas shown below are professionally printed using the highest quality in the industry, so technically it's win-win-win.  :)

Don't miss my budget-friendly plan right here for all this amazing gift-giving, too!

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

The first idea on our list is a simple one, but aside from fantastic quality, you can actually give this gift with something unique! 

IDEA #1:  a personalized mug feat. Mug Mix recipes

Yes, you've seen photo mugs at big-box store websites, but you've never seen mugs like this.  I think this makes a great gift for anyone, but especially a college student or anyone else living on their own when you include the Mug Mix recipes.   

They're easy to make, right in the mug, and they microwave in 1-2 minutes.  The lunch mug mix recipes would be great just to take to work, too!   I love the potato soup one myself.

Watch the video tutorial to see the 6 Mug Mix recipes, and feel free to ask me for more.  Most of the additional ones I have are for desserts (like cake-in-a-mug), but I'm happy to share.

You can find the Mug Mix recipes here.  You're welcome to order them for professional printing (be aware they are made from Invitations, so they'll come in a pack of 10), or just copy down the recipes on your own 3x5 cards. 

The tutorial shows how to make a mug as well, but the free Design & Print software is pretty intuitive, especially for something as simple as a mug, so you can just explore templates here on your own if you prefer.  Use the search bar to type in "family," or "Christmas," or "pets," or whatever key word you like.

IDEA #2:  permanent digital photo storage

If you're shopping for the person who has ev-er-y-thing, I guarantee they don't have this! 

I mean, unless, they actually do have Forever Storage, in which case another 10GB never hurts.  (Seriously!  We are always taking more pictures!)  

So, here's the thing:  Most people don't have a good place to digitally store their photos and videos.  

Computers and flash drives are fine, but in case of disaster--from an external hard drive that won't open any more to a flood--storing your photos/videos in the cloud is a must.  

However, so many cloud sites require a monthly fee, and most have undesirable fine print such as reserving rights to your photos to share or sell them if they choose (yes, for real) and/or that they can discontinue their services at any time.  You can read more about this digital cloud storage nonsense here, but the solution to all this is what makes a great gift!

I discovered Forever Storage a few years ago, and it makes a fantastic gift because photos/videos stored there are not only guaranteed private without upkeep fees but also:

When you gift Forever Storage, you can either set up a Forever account for the person or purchase a gift certificate in the amount of the Forever Storage (10 GB, 25 GB, 100 GB, etc.).   I'm happy to help you with questions, too.  You can reach me here.

This video shows how easy it is to upload and organize photos in Forever Storage.

IDEA #3:  Tabletop Panel (not just for decor any more!)

Yes, a Tabletop Panel is a quick and easy gift, but there is even more to this gift than meets the eye.

It's definitely a sweet way to display photos on a desk, table, or mantel.

See all the (free) Design & Print Tabletop Panel templates here.

And there are lots of lovely designs to choose from to match your recipient's decor or style.

But since there's a glossy finish on Tabletop Panels, they can also be used as dry erase boards!
This is such a unique and fun gift!  

I LOVE my menu planner!  I designed it myself and made it ultra-personal using Artisan (see Idea #10).

IDEA #4:  family yearbook

I have a friend who gives this to her family every year for Christmas.  She takes all the photos from the previous year and creates a digital photo-memory book (digital scrapbook) for her family.  They spend Christmas day looking through and enjoying their memories!

made using a free Design & Print template

Don't let this idea overwhelm you, either!  I've taught Yearbook Boot Camp classes where attendees complete their books in either 4 weeks or 2 weeks!  It is completely do-able!  

The professionally-designed templates from Forever make all the difference because they are free, and the (free) software is super intuitive.  See how it's done at this 5-minute video and you'll already be a pro.

I've broken down the Yearbook Boot Camp into 8-week assignments for you right here, but feel free to double-up if you'd like to get it done in 4.

I can't tell you how much I love my family yearbooks!  They are great gifts that last a lifetime, when you think about it.

made using Artisan software; see #10

IDEA #5:  personalized blanket (commemorative or otherwise)

If something special happened recently, a blanket is a lovely way to commemorate it, but it's also just a comfy gift in general.  

made using a free Design & Print template

A friend of mine made a blanket for her dad who was in the end stages of life.  The blanket was of pictures of everyone who loved him, and it was a tender way to be wrapped up in their love.

I know a handful of people who have made blankets with Forever, and every one of them is stunned at the quality.  I mean, stunned.  Including me.

I made this blanket for my daughter after our trip to Ireland, which was her college graduation gift.  It was such a heavenly, delightful trip that I wanted to commemorate it not just in my family yearbook but with something she could pull out every day.  It was so beautiful I almost cried when I opened it.  (And she DID cry when I gave it to her!)  

SEE?!?!  (*swoon*)

A blanket is an amazing way to highlight gorgeous pictures, and when they represent cherished memories, it's just a perfect gift.

See all the free Design & Print blanket templates here, including this fun T-shirt photo blanket idea!  (Great way to save T-shirts in a fraction of the time it would take to actually make a T-shirt blanket by hand!)

T-shirt blanket template here

Or how about a stadium blanket that rolls up and has a handle?!  So many fun ideas for personalized blankets.

IDEA #6: old family memories digitized

I can't imagine how happy I would be if someone had gifted this to me.  (In fairness, I gifted it to myself when I first learned about it, so nobody really had the chance.)  

If you know someone who has old family memories that are stuck--stuck in old formats like film reels or VHS tapes or slides, or literally stuck to old "magnetic" photo albums that are eating away at photos that now can't be removed--this gift will absolutely delight!

The cost of a Forever Box includes digitizing services (for a vast array of products!) and 3-way shipping.  So everything is already paid for when you give a Forever Box.  Contact me for details, or learn more here:

I was SO HAPPY to get my VHS tapes (which had begun to lose their quality and started getting choppy) digitized with the Forever Box.  It's not just me--Forever Digitization has the highest rating of customer satisfaction (by far) on Trustpilot, too.  

Choose DVD, flash drive, or both for your digitized memories.

Order your Forever Box here, then gift it empty and let your recipient choose what gets digitized, or do the digitizing ahead of time for them and gift the final product!  

IDEA #7: notebook/journal

 This is a fun, quick gift to give to recipients of all ages!  Just put a few photos (1-9) of your choosing on the front, a little text, and you're done.

You'll choose a wirebound or hardbound binding before you check out, and one of these interior pages:

I'm going to make notebooks for family members' birthdays this coming year using some of the pictures from our family reunion in July!  What a cool gift.  :)

I love the one I made for myself last year with my favorite beach pictures:

Find notebook templates here.  If you want to see firsthand how easy it is to make a notebook, check out this tutorial video I made:

IDEA #8: planner

Planners are new in 2023!  The actual product is similar to the notebooks in Idea #7, but there are more pages (and the interior pages will obviously be different from a journal, too).

Choose a planner template here, then plug in the photos and text you like in the designated spots.

You'll choose a spiral or hard binding at checkout, along with your interior pages from these options:

The daily one even has a spot to keep track of your water intake!  :)

IDEA #9: canvas (home decor)

A canvas is such a great way to showcase favorite photos in a big way!

There are lots of easy, beautiful, professionally-designed canvas templates to choose from in a wide variety of sizes and orientations.

This tutorial video goes over all the sizes and specs of Forever canvases, and I show you how to make one yourself in just minutes.

I designed my own canvas using Artisan (see #10 below) using a family tree template I bought from MoreThanABranch on Etsy, then added some additional digital art to finish it up.  I love how it turned out!

There are lots of canvas possibilities!

IDEA #10: Artisan (premier digital scrapbooking software)

If you know someone who loves creativity, the Artisan software from Forever makes an amazing gift!

You can make any of the items shown in this post, from mugs to books to blankets, using Artisan instead of the Design & Print templates.  

The templates, of course, are very quick, very easy to make, but if you're looking for more flexibility in design and more creativity, Artisan is where it's at!

Artisan is absolutely impressive.  Think Photoshop and Canva on steroids.  

This video shows you what it's like to work in Artisan by just making a basic page in a book, plus I have a 30-minute Artisan Jump Start and a whole video series called Artisan Quick Tips where you and your gift recipient can see all sorts of Artisan features, shown one at a time.

This is a screen shot of some of my pages from a family yearbook I created using Artisan, but I also made that Ireland blanket with Artisan because I wanted to use that cool Irish-looking font from my computer instead of the more standard fonts available with Design & Print. 

Artisan is definitely for digital scrapbooking, but you can do all sorts of things with it.  I even made a digital scrap page of gift tags that I'll cut out to give out with Christmas gifts to neighbors!

Click the image and you can download this to your Forever
account and print it yourself!

So, which Gift Idea was your favorite?  Which one will be just the thing for your gift-giving this year?  Tell me in the comments below.

Save this post by Pinning this image to Pinterest!  Then share it with
someone who would love it using the social media share buttons.

Hooray!  This post was a featured favorite here:

Saturday, August 12, 2023

How to Share Photos with Friends & Family Without Using Google Drive

I love the ease with which we can share photos with family and friends these days.  Especially with something like a family trip, everyone is taking pictures, and someone always has that perfect shot that I want to "borrow."  

How do you like to share photos with family and friends?  Email?  Google Drive?  Dropbox?

There are many online options, and Google Drive is a popular way to share photos with friends and family, but there are two big reasons I don't do it.

First, my photos aren't private in Google Drive.

Yes, that last item at the bottom is correct.  Google's fine print allows them to host, reproduce, distribute, communicate, and use my content; publish, publicly perform, or publicly display my content, if I've made it visible to others.  Which, if I've shared it with my family, I just have. 

Second, Google Drive storage comes with a limit, unless I pay for it.  I certainly don't want to pay to expand my limit when my photos aren't even secure or private there in the first place.  And Google, of course, isn't the only one.

Let me tell you about my favorite way to not only keep my photos private but also share them easily with friends and family of my choosing.  This method comes with a lot of *perks that I'll detail in a minute.

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Here's all you need:

First,  you only need a free Forever account, which you can open here.  Next, upload photos and organize them into albums and nested albums (like folders and subfolders on your computer).  You can find a tutorial video about uploading and organizing your photos here.

Your free Forever account comes with 2 GB of free photo storage, which can house hundreds of photos.  Most people take more photos than that, so if you need some you can purchase it here.  (That's right: purchase.  Not pay a monthly fee; you OWN it Forever!)

I'm going to tell you about the ideal way, where all parties involved have a secure Forever account, but this can go one-way, too.  

If, for, example, I want to share some photos and videos with you, but you don't have a Forever account, I can send you a link to the album where I've saved my photos and videos.  Like this:

Just click that and you can see an album I created of photos and videos about Forever!

From there, anyone can download whichever photos and videos they like from the album link you've shared.  You just need to make sure that album is set to the "public" privacy setting so others can see it (and you can change the privacy setting later).  There's even an option for others to upload their photos to the album if the album owner enables that.

The easier way, I think, is for everyone to have a Forever account so they can share through Connections securely and privately, guaranteed.  This 4-minute video walks you right through how that works!  It's so cool. 

Oh, and speaking of guarantees, it's time to look at all the perks that Forever Storage includes.  I made this list when I was first learning about Forever Storage and if I wanted to pursue Forever.  Turns out:  it's exactly what I want.

Keep in mind, too, that when you share your photos from your Forever Storage with your Connections and/or Groups as shown in the video, they can not only look at your photos from the albums you've chosen to share with them, but they can download the photos they want as well!  Say goodbye to 30 minutes of going through each other's phones and airdropping photos to yourself every evening of a trip!

And don't forget about the free Forever app, too!  We really need conveniences for our photos these days.  

Someone told me recently that he looks at storing his photos in a secure, triple-backed-up place like Forever that will guarantee they'll be passed on to another generation is like photo insurance.  Well said!

And there you have it!  This is how to share photos with family and friends privately and securely without using Google Drive.  Give it a try.  I'm guessing you'll love it as much as I do.

Share this post using the share buttons and Pin this image to Pinterest to save it!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Ten Tips for Happy Memory-Keeping

Photos are intended to make us happy.  Have you ever thought about that?  Happiness is the purpose of photos.  I've experienced it.  I get to see my grandpa again.  I get to see my chubby-cheeked little ones (who are all off at college/work now) again.  

Unfortunately, this photos=happiness fact has been lost on us.

When I talk to people about their photos, there's often some overwhelm about managing them, organizing them, preserving them in print, preserving them digitally, and sometimes even knowing where they are (cloud? phone? computer?).  There can even be guilt.  

But the purpose of photos is to make us happy.

Working with your photos in any way is memory-keeping.  And memory-keeping is a happy thing!  You can read about the (quite stunning, actually) benefits of memory-keeping right here, and then I want to share with you Ten Tips for Happy Memory-Keeping.

Not memory-keeping that feels like a burden.

Not memory-keeping that makes you feel guilty.

Happy memory-keeping!

It's really do-able!  So let's get started.  See which of these ten tips are the ones you need the most.

This video tutorial shows how to use an easy template that people love!

I really don't have a favorite tip, but this might be one of them because I've seen what a HUGE difference templates make in people's ability to love their memory-keeping when they preserve photos in pages. 

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

And #3 is doable, I promise.  It helps like nothing else!  

Here's the link to the Photo Organization playlist with lots of tutorials and ideas.

Some people work better alone, but some people really need a village!  This can be SO helpful, both in-person or online!

This "Our Community & Events" tab shows the Photo Rodeo dates and link.

A mindset shift can really make a difference, too!  Looking at the benefits of interacting with your photos can help you prioritize making time for them.

If you didn't read about the benefits of memory-keeping above,
now is a good time.  It's pretty amazing information!

I highly recommend Tip #6, particularly to anyone who just doesn't know where to start.  It helps immensely!

This tip, #7, is the big one for me.  It's why I have been "caught up" preserving my photos and memories--consistently--for about two decades.  

I've seen tip #8 make a big difference in people's abilities to accomplish their memory-keeping goals.

In fact, I highly recommend that you take a few minutes to see the different options here because there's something for everyone.  Choose whichever one looks good to you!

I honestly think Tip #9 is a bigger deal than most people realize.

And, last but certainly not least, is Tip #10.  

Which of these tips is your favorite, and which one will make the biggest difference to you right now as you implement it?  Tell me in the comments below.

Pin this image to save and share.

Hooray!  This post was a featured favorite here: