Friday, August 31, 2018

Reunion Keepsakes

Summertime is often reunion time.  From family reunions to school class reunions, lots of traveling to see old familiar faces happens during the summer.  These events are always special, and it’s nice to both make a record of the reunion to look back on and to keep in touch with those you saw there.  But how exactly do you do that?  As part of #familyhistoryfriday Giving from the Heart series, we’ll look today at some fun and special ideas for reunion keepsakes.

A Reunion Magazine

This is such a fun and creative idea!  I love that this Magazine is both impressive and meaningful while still staying affordable.

Isn't this amazing?!

This 8.5×11 magazine is only about $10 ({here} at Heritage Makers) and has thicker pages than the average magazine you see at the dentist’s office.  The premium 100-lb. paper gives it a heftier feel and better quality than regular magazines.  It comes with 16 fully-editable pages.  The magazine is expandable to 32 pages, too, as long as 4 pages are added at a time (due to the way it is printed and cut).  It has a simple staple binding, just like regular magazines do.  I think this price tag makes it an affordable option for everyone who attended the reunion.

This reunion magazine example was actually created before the reunion and included a schedule of events and map of the location where the reunion was being held.  I love it for that!  I also love it for a keepsake after the event with pictures and memories from the reunion.  There are other magazine styles, too!

Put a call out for favorite pictures from the reunion you attended this summer and create away!  Steps to get started can be found right here.  (Note that when you’re at the Heritage Makers website this product is actually called 8.5×11 Booklet.  But it is just like a magazine–just with thicker pages–so that’s what I call it.)

A Softbound Book for Reunion Memories with Photos

Another impressive and still affordable idea for reunion memories and photos is the 8×8 Softbound Book.  A little smaller than the Magazine, this Softbound Book has a {top-of-the-line PUR binding}.  Many DIY softbound books on the market have a glue binding which cracks easily over time, making the pages fall out.  PUR binding actually involves a chemical reaction to create the bind.  PUR binding is clear, unlike the yellowish glue used in many DIY online books today.  Create your 8×8 softbound reunion keepsake ({here}) and you’ll get that high quality PUR binding.

You can see that this example of an 8×8 softbound book was used for a business retreat reunion, but because the template is editable, you can make it yours.  This could be for a family reunion, high school reunion, army buddy reunion, or anything you can think of!  When I say “editable,” I mean editable!  With Heritage Makers, you can keep the basic layout and add your own pictures and text.  You can change the colors, remove the logos you see, change the font, put more or fewer pictures on a page, etc.  You can add flowers or stars or buttons or any of the thousands of digital art pieces (free) in the software, so you’ll get exactly the right look for your reunion.

2021 UPDATE:  8x8 softbound books can also be created here at Forever for the same high quality and PUR binding.  There are other sizes of softbound books available here as well, in addition to templates if you prefer a simpler platform for creating or are short on time.  The main differences between Heritage Makers and Forever are different platforms (fast & easy vs. creative digital scrapbooking style) and products, but the quality is top-notch with both.

I love these 8×8 softbound books.  They’re so perfect for capturing memories with photos and preserving a special event.  Although a hardbound book feels a little more sturdy, these softbound ones cost a little less, so it's easier to get a bunch and share.

Put a call out for favorite pictures from the reunion you attended this summer and create away!  Steps to {get started making reunion keepsakes can be found right here}
"We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.”  -anonymous
Keeping in Touch with a Directory

When you see cousins, classmates, or aunts and uncles whom you haven’t seen for years, you’ll probably think, “Why don’t we keep in touch more often?”  Stopping everybody at the reunion to get their contact information isn’t very feasible, but making a directory of reunion-goers is!

You could certainly use the Magazine I mentioned before (or the Softbound Book, for that matter) as a directory for the family or class, but I like the 6x9 Booklet from Heritage Makers.  It’s a lot like the Magazine– staple binding, 16 pages expandable in sets of 4, 100-lb. weight paper– but it’s just a little smaller.  That makes the price a little smaller, too, at $6.50.

These little Booklets as reunion directories are fantastic!  Collect photos, names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and social media handles.  I think these are especially useful for families whose youngest generations don’t know each other.  If you’re retired, for example, you probably know your cousins but not their children or grandchildren.  Putting names to faces this way is a great way to connect generations!

Ideally, start gathering information to create a directory before the reunion.  That way you can give these completed booklets out at the reunion!  

Specific steps to {get started here}.  As always, let me know if you need any help or pointers.

Giving from the Heart

The best gifts are from the heart, and reunions are special moments that attendees will want to remember.  Your priceless gift of the heart can come in two ways.  First, your gift to the group will be your work in creating these sweet keepsakes, making them available for purchase.  Second, you could actually gift everyone a copy.  Either way, everyone is sure to love and appreciate your gift from the heart.

Scroll back up to find the keepsake that will work best for your reunion, and start this work of heart today!
"It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, it’s the size of the heart that gives it.”  -Eileen Elias Freeman
Who do you know with a reunion coming up?  Share this post!

This post was originally published at on August 31, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  Find more #familyhistoryfriday posts about memories, stories, photos, family, and connections by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Tricks to Catching Up Preserving Your Pictures

Are you one of the millions of people who are behind in preserving your photos?  You take lots of pictures, capturing life's great moments, but you feel a little bad that those precious images are still on your phone or camera.  To make matters worse, you naturally keep taking more pictures , so you feel a little more hopeless about ever catching up on memory-keeping or scrapbooking as time goes on.

Well, no more!

Today I'm sharing a series of four articles I wrote to help you find your way out of overwhelm and into actually being a regular memory-keeper.  It really is possible to stay caught up preserving your photos You just need a few little tricks.

Let me share all the tricks I know with you so you can get going on this important goal!  Click each of the 4 links to learn more.
  • This post {How to Be Successful with Your Goal to Catch Up Preserving Your Photos} is an introduction, with some motivational and perspective-granting links about why preserving your photos is actually really important.  This post includes a 40-minute video class (free) with a Two-in-One Plan for catching up preserving your photos so you can actually get ahead!!  There's even a (free) printable so that you can have the Two-in-One Plan and some helpful tips to refer to as you start getting caught up!
  • Next, {Making a Plan to Catch Up on Your Photos} gives some ideas for how to make time for your pictures and offers some actual helps (I love these!) for making time.  You'll also learn why memory-keeping is worth the time.
  • You'll find some organization tips at {Photos to Conquer?  Start With Organization!}--for organizing both physical (printed) photos as well as digital photos.  I even made a video so you can peek over my shoulder to see how I organize my digital photos on my computer so that I can find anything quickly and so I know what I've already preserved in a digital scrap page or book.  (This, honestly, is really key to how I stay consistently caught up preserving my pictures.)
These 4 articles will help you make memory-keeping a doable goal!  You can finally stop feeling overwhelmed by your photos!  There's really nothing like sitting down and re-living some good times you've preserved in a book or scrap page.  You'll be so glad you prioritized your pictures!

One of the best ways to preserve your photos is in print because they can be preserved not just as files but with the stories that go with them (your memories).  You'll find a variety of heirloom-quality print options here.


Pin and share!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Five Quick Ways to Manage Overwhelm - guest post by Brooke Davis

If you feel overwhelmed and exhausted, I have a great gift for you today.  I am absolutely thrilled to bring you a brilliant post today from guest blogger Brooke Davis.  Brooke is the CCO of Roots of Abundance, and she helps empower people to take a heart-centered approach to figuring out what they really need so they can truly enjoy life.  I asked Brooke to write for LifeTales Books because one of the things she helps people through is overwhelm.  I've stopped counting the number of people who tell me they can't do anything with their pictures because they're so overwhelmed.  While I have lots of tips, articles, and video tutorials about {how to stop swimming in your photos}, if there's more overwhelming you than just your number of photos, it's best to start there.  

Brooke has an impressive, thorough guide to managing overwhelm which you won't want to miss!  You can download the guide free {right here}.  (In fact, it's so thorough and amazing that I'm honestly a little shocked she gives it away!)  Below the free download to manage overwhelm you'll find a link to Brooke's online class "How to Manage Overwhelm and Do What Matters Most" if you'd like to "go whole-hog," as she calls it.  :)   Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom, Miss Brooke!  

I like to think I'm fairly good at managing overwhelm, but I learned a lot from this post!  So I won't keep you from it any longer.  Here are Five Quick Ways to Manage Overwhelm by Brooke Davis

Do you rush through each day feeling swamped by too much to do and too little time to do it?  Are you so worn down by the end of the week that you just want to collapse in front of the TV or  do something mindless to relax? If so, you’re probably living in a constant state of overwhelm.

Given the pressures you may feel at home and work, it's not surprising that you believe you'll never be “caught up” or have a moment to call your own. It's during these times that you need surefire ways to cut through the noise of the world (and the messages you tell yourself) so you can make progress on projects with the least amount of stress and worry. Here are five quick ways you can manage overwhelm and start taking action today.

1.  Manage Expectations - Or Others Will Manage Them For You

Nothing can derail progress faster than setting unrealistic expectations. And when you're overwhelmed, it can be easy to misjudge the time and energy you need to not only get going on a project but also to complete it. 

Managing expectations starts by getting real: with yourself, with others, and with your situation. What do you expect of yourself? Are your expectations realistic or are you setting yourself up to fail through taking on too much too soon? Who needs to be “in the know” about what you're doing and why? What type of support do you need from others and how can you ask for that support? 

Lastly, think about your situation or project and what would satisfy you without getting lost in perfectionism and overthinking. Setting reasonable expectations, communicating them, and then taking small steps toward your satisfactory (but not necessarily perfect) outcome will help you make progress without getting discouraged.

2.  Notice Your Focus by Prioritizing

Overwhelm is often caused by writing down everything you need to do and then thinking you need to complete every task RIGHT NOW. You dive into Get It Done mode without reflecting on what must be done now vs. what can be held for later. You can escape the trap (and the panic) of RIGHT NOW by developing the habit of prioritizing; what must be done immediately and what can wait? 

By prioritizing your focus, you move from a place of scattered chaos to a place where you can literally see the way forward. This allows you to confidently work through your list with a sense of purpose  which will leave you feeling productive instead of like you're spinning your wheels.

3. Organize To-Do’s by Should and Must

As you go about prioritizing your list (and hence your time and energy), it's critical to make the distinction between what you “should” do and what you “must” do. Shoulds are things that you and others expect you to do; musts are non-negotiable. 

Musts compel you to take action; they speak to your soul. Musts have to come first. Your focus and your musts work together as a beacon of light that leads you out of overwhelm and into a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Cross your musts off your list first and then look at your shoulds. 

Examine every should and ask yourself what would happen if you didn't do it. Be honest with yourself with your answer. Your feelings will guide you to what is a must and what is a should. Let those feelings help you decide if something absolutely has to be done and what may not need to be done at all.

4.  Learn to Set Limits and Boundaries

One of the main reasons many people stay stuck in overwhelm is that we don't take time to set limits and boundaries first with ourselves, and then with others. By setting limits with ourselves, we honor our time and energy, two of our most precious resources. This helps keep us healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically. We are then able to set limits with others through our own choices and conversations around what we do each day. Limits with others help us build and honor a foundation of mutual respect, commitment, and strong self-esteem and self-worth.

By asking yourself where you can set better boundaries with yourself and others each time you feel overwhelmed, you reclaim your power to choose not only how you live your life, but also how you can maintain your health, which benefits not only you but others as well.

5.  Use Your Precious Energy Wisely

The first four directives all lead up to this one: use your precious energy wisely. Each of us has the same 24 hours in a day, and each of us will use those hours differently. To get the most bang per buck out of your time, think about where and how it can be best used. Where can you do something that will save you time in the future? How can you take one action that accomplishes several purposes? How can you simplify a task so it can be done more efficiently? Where can you get creative and use outside the box thinking to solve a problem? 

Lastly, take time to look at what you must do and ask what would happen if you only spent a minimum amount of time on it. If you really want to be bold, ask what would happen if you eliminated tasks altogether.

If you find yourself dealing with overwhelm, take heart in knowing those feelings are normal and can be managed. By setting realistic expectations, focusing on the right things, sorting tasks as
must and should, setting healthy and effective boundaries, and using energy wisely, you can cut
through chaos and regain a sense of influence and control over your life.

Pin to save and share!

Don't miss my video tutorial on the simplest way I know of to stop photo overwhelm:  {How to Stop Being Overwhelmed by Your Pictures}.  Find more tips on how to stop feeling overwhelmed by your photos {here}, then find a memory-keeping method that will work for your time and budget {here}. There's no time like right now!  #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

Friday, August 17, 2018

How to Preserve Your Summer Memories

Summer memories!  They’re some of the best kind.  The next several #familyhistoryfridays will be a series called “Giving from the Heart.”  These ideas will connect families and preserve wonderful memories, stories, and photos to look back on when summer is gone.
"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”  -James M. Barrie

What Do You Want to Remember?

Some summers consist of special family vacations, others of family reunions or just evenings on the patio sipping lemonade.  Did you attend a wedding this summer?  How did you celebrate Independence Day?  What pictures did you take?  If you took a poll among family members, what would the Top Ten Memories of your summer be?

Taking time to write down memories is good for the heart and soul, and it’s especially beneficial when coupled with photos.  Too often photos of special moments just float around in the cloud or stay on phones or cameras indefinitely.  Instead of letting your summer memories fade, preserve them.  It’s a way to give from the heart both to yourself and your family.

Unfortunately, we take pictures because we want to remember and then we treat them like we want to forget.  Let’s change that this summer!

Memories can do powerful things for us.  Here are three articles everyone should read about memories!
What to Do First

Memory-keeping is one of the first things to go in our busy society.  If our memories didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be a big deal.  But our memories DO matter.  We benefit from sitting down to put our experiences to paper, and we benefit from our photos in tactile (hand-held) form just as much.  Memory-keeping in this way is cathartic and even increases happiness!  Studies show if you want to {be happier instantly, look back at happy times}!  There are lots of {other benefits}, too.  So let’s get you started!

The first thing to do is to set aside time.  Like all worthy endeavors, memory-keeping doesn’t just happen on a random Tuesday when you unexpectedly find yourself with a couple of hours of free time.  (I mean, how many times has that happened to you so far?)  If the thought of making time for preserving your summer memories seems a little overwhelming, I would first suggest thinking outside the box a little.

For example, have you ever thought of this:  What makes memory-keeping Mom’s job?  Why not make it a family activity?  You could even make it a family tradition!  In fact, here are some {steps to making memory-keeping a family tradition}.  

Another great way to make time to preserve your summer memories is to do it with someone else!  If you make an appointment with a friend or sibling or a group of friends, it’s on your calendar and much more likely to happen!

If you need a little more help finding time, I have some really fantastic ideas and suggestions for you {at this link}, including:
  • how to make time for the things you love
  • how to actually create time
  • ways to look at time and “time management” differently
  • why we’re sometimes too busy to be productive and what to do about it
  • what a digi-crop can do for you
After you’ve set aside time, choose how you want to preserve your summer memories and photos.  If you need photo organization help or help getting your pictures from your phone to your computer, {go here next}.

Options to Preserve Your Summer Memories

Photos are a fantastic guide to trigger memories.  It’s important to preserve photos in a way that allows you to write out your memories, too.  It’s one reason that {digital photo storage is not really the goal}.  Why would you focus so much on STORING something that you actually want to SEE?  What good does a photo in the cloud do us if we can’t tell its story?  Writing out what you remember about the event or the person in the photo is how we get the roses in December.

Back in March we looked at some of the most popular ways to preserve photos and memories these days:  {digital scrap pages}, {digital storybooking}, and {paper scrapbooking}.  (Didn’t you love the history of scrapbooking in that last one?  I thought it was so interesting!)  Of course, there’s also the decades-old tradition of {printing up your pictures} and putting them in a simple album from any craft or big box store.

Quality has come a long way in recent years, but it’s still one of the biggest things to look for. You definitely don’t want to spend the time (or money) to preserve your precious summer memories and photos only to have it fall apart 5 or 10 years from now.

My Favorite Methods

Although some people prefer a more hands-on method for preserving photos and memories, I like digital books and scrap pages for two reasons.  First, you get to skip the extra step of printing photos.  Second, digital allows for multiple copies (to give multiple kids, for example) without extra work.

This fun 12x12 hardbound Disneyland storybook template can be personalized {here},
and even the template is 100% editable so you can adjust whatever you like!

My usual method for preserving my own pictures is with Heritage Makers scrap pages.  Quality is a big reason that I choose this method for my own memory-keeping, but heirloom quality and the 200,000+ pieces of FREE digital art are others.  Because this is what I do for ALL my memory-keeping, I preserve my summer photos this way, too.  If scrap pages interest you, you can see how I make them {here at this video} (where you’ll watch me preserve my summer 2017 photos and memories).

2021 UPDATE:  For other heirloom-quality options besides Heritage Makers, click here to see 3 videos about additional platforms to help you find a memory-keeping method that fits your style and available time, from push-of-a-button simplicity to beautiful done-for-you templates to creative and flexible digital scrapbooking.   

If you’re looking to preserve only your summer memories and photos in one place, go for books! 

This other template is just perfect for a collection of summer memories, I think.  This summer memories book is a little 5.5×5.5 size.  It’s softbound.  (If you like the idea of a softbound book because they’re cheaper, be sure you’re getting one that uses {PUR binding} like this one from Heritage Makers does.  Most companies use glue, not PUR.  Glued-in pages can crack over time, causing the pages to fall out.)  At $9, it’s a pretty wallet-friendly way to give your summer memories and photos a good home, too! 

NOTE:  The other options mentioned above (in the 2021 update) from Forever also use top-of-the-line PUR binding. 

Whether heirloom-quality books or scrap pages are your thing, simple options or detailed digital scrapbooking, I’ve got a variety of videos to help{get you on your way} right there at that link.

What to Do Now

Set aside time, decide if you want to preserve your summer memories as a family or by yourself or with friends, then choose your favorite method.  Then GO!  Whatever high-quality method you choose, it’s the best one–because you’re doing it!

When you’ve given your precious photos and memories a home that will be treasured for years to come, show it off!  My Facebook group is just the place!  {Request to join here} and then take photos of what you created and post them in the group.  We’ll congratulate you on being the hero of your family and celebrate with you.  I can’t wait to see what you’ve done.

Everyone has summer memories!  Save and share this post on social media.

This post was originally published at on August 17, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  You can read more #familyhistoryfriday posts about photos, memories, stories, family, and connection by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

New 5.5x5.5 Softbound Book from Heritage Makers (perfect for Instagram photos)

I honestly love telling you about new things at Heritage Makers.  And this one is no exception because it's so much fun.

Drum roll, please!  Heritage Makers now has a 5.5" x 5.5" softbound book.  And it's only $9!

All Heritage Makers products can have a simple look or a digital-scrapbook look.  They are high-quality and come with {a lot of additional perks}.   

Heritage Makers uses a {drag-and-drop tool called Studio} (which is free) to design each page and the front and back covers of a book.  There are LOTS of tools, shortcuts, and creative options.  You can {use a template} (which is still completely editable) or start from scratch, a blank page and design away.  Either way, you'll get exactly what you want.

The 5.5x5.5 book is a bit different than the other books offered by Heritage Makers.
  • For one, it's a softbound book.  While other Heritage Makers books have a metal stitching, these pages are glued using the {PUR method}, the most durable book binding available for softbound books.
  • Another difference is that this new book comes with 50 pages (no more and no fewer).  All other Heritage Makers books come with 21 pages and you can remove pages to 17 or add pages to 99.  So choose your favorite 50 photos for this darling book, or add quotes or word art from the Heritage Makers art collection if you have a few pages to fill . 
  • And it's $9!!  Can you believe it?!  (That's one more difference about this book than the others Heritage Makers offers--this one has been priced so low that there isn't an additional discount for {HM Club} members like there are for other books and products.  This book is $9 across the board.) 

2021 UPDATE:  There are three platforms in addition to Heritage Makers Studio for creating heirloom-quality softbound books in a variety of sizes using the top-of-the-line PUR method.  Click here to see a video introduction to each platform to find what works best for you, from easy peasy to fully creative DIY!

Right after this book came out, I knew exactly what I wanted to use it for.  I collect Christmas ornaments, and have for years.  I have wanted to document my collection because the majority of the ornaments have special meaning, and I want to make sure their stories are recorded.  The tiny size and the tiny price of this new 5x5 Softbound book made it just perfect for this.  And from making Christmas cards and greetings with Heritage Makers before, I knew that there were some digital art collections that would be just perfect for my book.

And I just love how it turned out!!  See what I mean?  Just perfect.

I went for a fairly simple design since I wanted to showcase the ornaments more.  There's a small description of the origin of the ornament next to each one.

I wasn't used to being limited by the page numbers since pages in other Heritage Makers books are so flexible, but I have about 200 ornaments, so I thought it would work well, and it did.  I'm now working on my fourth volume of my Christmas Ornament Collection books--and did I mention how much I like the $9 price tag?! 

Because Heritage Makers' Studio is a drag-and-drop tool, you'll upload your photos into your Heritage Makers account and place them wherever you want on any page.  You can have an Instagram look with one picture per page, or you can create your own look with multiple photos per page.  It's up to you.  And there aren't limits on the amount of text or digital art you can use, either.  There are lots of fonts to choose from (about 25 new ones were added last summer!), so you're sure to find the style that is YOU.  That's one of the reasons I LOVE doing all my memory-keeping with Heritage Makers.

To open your Heritage Makers account (it's free), click the {"how to get started"} tab at the upper right of this page.  You're really going to have fun with this sweet, tiny book.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Why Digital Photos Aren't Good Enough

There are few things in the world with the power a photo has.  It can instantly draw you back to a place, a time, an event.  It can bring back the memory of someone dear who is long-gone.  It can even allow you to "be at" events you weren't around for or "meet" people who died before you were born.

There's just one caveat.

You have to see it.

How many photos do you have on your phone right now?  How many on your camera?  Have you seen them since you've taken them?  

If you're like most people, you have so many photos you haven't done anything with that you're a little embarrassed to answer the question.  Here's the truth:  you're normal.  You're average.  You're in the majority.

But, as they say, if all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?

Just because everyone does it that way doesn't mean it's for you.  Photos do so much good for the heart and soul that we actually NEED them.  Have you heard of the scientifically-proven benefits of preserving photos and memories?  I fly through them pretty quickly here, but this should help you think about your photos a little differently.

Have you ever thought about how your life would change if you {unleashed the power in your photos}?  Photos weren't meant to be stored in the cloud or on a computer, they were meant to be seen.  The only way that can happen is if we print them somehow.  {You don't keep something as powerful as photos in a box.}  

I know that some people say, "But I look at them on my computer."  Most people don't, and I would wager that it doesn't happen very often.  The main issue with just digital photos, though, is that they have no information with them.  They are missing their story--the whole reason they were taken.  Who is in the photo?  Where was it taken?  Was it a special event or an everyday one?  What happened before or after the photo was taken?  What made it a photo-worthy moment?

Photos with their stories have the power I outline in that video clip.  If you prefer the traditional print method, just make sure you're using high-quality products to put those photos in--and don't forget to record the memories and details that go with them!  If your photos are already digital, it makes sense to print them in {a digital book or digital scrap pages}--and be sure those are high-quality, too, because many these days aren't.  (The options listed at that link ARE!)  

These days we have too many photos to be able to see and appreciate them without some actual time and effort.

But that effort pays great dividends!  Many things {don't produce immediate rewards, but memory-keeping isn't one of them!}  You'll feel happiness, satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and even gratitude as you start preserving your life's story through photos and memories.

Don't wait.  Get started with high quality memory-keeping {right here.}  If you haven't preserved your photos and memories for a while, click the "how to catch up on your photos" tab in purple along the top of this blog (under the header).  There are two video tutorials there which include step-by-step helps but also some strategies to make your photos manageable.

We all need the power in our photos, so Pin, Tweet, or share this post!

Friday, August 3, 2018

#friyay -- What People Love About Heritage Makers

It's the first Friday of the month!  That means it's #friyay here at LifeTales Books--the day we hear from Heritage Makers users/lovers!  We're going to see a couple this month so we can finish our #friyay feature by the end of 2018!

Our first #friyay today comes from one of the sweetest people I've ever met, Karin.  I've quoted Karin here on the blog before as saying, "I've decided it's important for me to do the things only *I* can do."  She had 20 years' worth of photos ready to go into digital photo and memory books, and she knew it was important to do the important things.  I used to live near Karin, and I loved seeing her completed books!

Our second #friyay is from Cassie, who suffered a stroke several years ago (and she's young!).  She's doing fine but has trouble with some of the fine motor things that she'd always been used to doing like card-making, gifts, etc.  I love how much she LOVES Heritage Makers and the difference it has made for her, allowing her to do the things she loves in a different (digital) way.

Bringing Family Stories to Life

Family history sometimes gets a bad rap.  It can be viewed as one of those hobbies people pick up when they’re old and don’t have anything else to do.  This reputation is unfortunate because the fact is that we all need our history.  

We all need our stories, and we all need our family stories.  Stories connect us, give us strength, and help us realize our place not only in the world but in OUR little world of influence.  What would change if you wrote down your own story?  What would you learn if you wrote down your family’s story?

Today for #familyhistoryfriday we will look at a few ideas to get inspired about family stories.

Stories Matter

I’ve always been a journaler and photo-preserver.  Writing things down helps me get in touch with myself, sort through how I feel, and learn from and appreciate my experiences.  As I’ve made this my actual business in recent years, one of the things I’ve been amazed at is that there’s been research done on the effect that knowing family stories has on kids.  It’s quite remarkable!  Family stories aren’t just warm fuzzies that people talk about at reunions.  They’re the experiences that make us who we are.  Knowing that Grandpa did a hard thing gives you courage.  Hearing the funny story of Christmas 1969 helps you realize you should laugh at yourself a little more.

Remembering is great, but since memory fades, it’s so much better to write the stories!  How, then, do you go about creating the family stories?  

Preserving and Sharing Family Stories

Just like your family, and just like your story, the way you preserve and then share your family stories can be different from someone else’s.  The one thing that matters is that you do it.  Hand-writing something in a notebook and making copies for family members works.  Typing something in a computer document and sharing with the family works, too.  (Just don't save it on the computer and assume people will know it's there, know where to find it, or be able to access it.)  
My favorite way to preserve and share family stories is through {storybooks}, but there are other ways, too.

I like the personal, special touch that a family storybook has.  This is one of the first ones I ever created ({here}), and what I loved about it was the photos and the simplicity.  There’s a photo of each of my ancestors as far back as photos go (or as far back as we have them), and I wrote a one-page introduction to each of those people.  

My main goal was to have my children be able to digest the information easily (as opposed to a 200-page life history).  My secondary goal was to let my kids put faces with names and to connect with their ancestors.  If they could say, “Oh, Great-Great Grandpa loved reading, and so do I!” or “Wow, how cool that they lived on a farm,” I felt like I had accomplished something.  The connection that comes from family stories validates kids, {among other things}.

Other Creative Ways to Share Family Stories

Although I do love my family history storybooks, there are a lot of other ways to preserve and share family stories.  

What if you don’t really have a whole story, or what if you just want to preserve and share something Mom always used to say?  It’s fun to have some variety.  What about family matching card games or Grandma’s quote on a lovely canvas in your kitchen?  How about cookbooks to capture your family’s history through recipes?  Read more about these fantastic out-of-the-box ideas:

This 12x12 gallery-wrapped canvas can be personalized {here}.

Family Stories Are For You

Sometimes we feel so far removed from people who didn’t own a car or farmed their own food.  What can we possibly learn from them or from their experience?  Far more than you might think, I promise!  Take some time to talk to your parents or aunts and uncles.  Talk to your grandparents if you can.  Ask about their parents and grandparents.  

The things they remember and know and have learned from life can strengthen yours!

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This post was originally published at on August 3, 2018, by Jennifer Wise.  You can find more #familyhistoryfriday posts by clicking the hashtag below next to Labels.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

An Introduction to Heritage Makers Personal Publishing

What is Heritage Makers?  What can I do with it?  Why do I need to know?  How do you use Heritage Makers?  How would it change my life?

Find all the answers in 13 minutes!  :)  (Prepare to be blown away.)

Heritage Makers provides an heirloom-quality way to create heartfelt and meaningful gifts and memory-keeping (preserving pictures and memories).  You can use this online digital tool for fun, creative DIY, too!

You'll find lots of perks with Heritage Makers that you won't find anywhere else.  There's literally nothing else out there like it.  Heirloom quality products, free photo storage, private photo storage, thousands of pieces of digital art ("stickers" and "papers) INCLUDED, and Heirloom Assurance in case anything happens to your finished product (like your dog or your toddler getting ahold of it).  

2021 UPDATE:  The Heritage Makers software, Studio, will be updated and rebranded in 2022-2023 and will include two platforms instead of just one.  One will be simple templates, and the other will be full creativity and DIY.  Please check here for all the heirloom-quality options Photo & Story Treasures recommends.