Thursday, November 29, 2018

How Do You Treat Your Pictures?

Have you ever thought about that?  I bet you've never asked yourself how you treat your pictures.  Have you ever thought about why you take a picture in the first place?  Go look at the last 5 pictures on your phone or camera.  WHY did you take them?  What would happen if you lost them?  What would happen if you lost all the pictures on your phone?

I thought about this the other day as I was writing a blog post.  This is what came into my head:  "We take pictures because we want to remember.  And then we treat them like we want to forget."  Isn't that the truth?

And isn't it sad?  Think about it.  We take pictures BECAUSE we want to remember an event, a moment, a person, a sunrise.  And then what do we do with the picture?  Usually, nothing.  It stays on the phone or camera, or maybe if it's lucky you back it up on a computer or hard drive.  Usually, photos just live somewhere as a jpeg file, and they're never really seen or looked at again.  Why would we do that?  Why would we treat something we created to remember as if we actually didn't care about it and preferred to forget it?

I read a {great blog post} recently where the blogger asserted that pictures in today's society are seen as frivolous and even vain.  But I love the conclusion she came to:  If the moment or the event makes you happy right now, why WOULDN'T you capture it so it can make you happy again later?  The ability to look back on a moment, or see a person again, is {good for the heart and the soul}.

One of the main purposes of this blog is to help our actions toward our pictures be more in line with their real value. My hashtag #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs is a real goal here at LifeTales Books!

There's something more.  Your pictures can be something more!  Rather than files to scroll through, back up, and possibly lose, your pictures can be seen and preserved in a high-quality way that will allow you to add meaning to the photos by writing details.  Let me give you an example.

This is a really special photo.  And you have no idea why.  You don't know who is in this photo, where it was taken, why it was taken, or what makes this photo special.  This is how someone else (maybe your kids, grandkids, spouse, friend) will look at your photos.  Over time, you may even look at your own photos the way you're looking at my photo here. 

If you're not careful, your photos will be as useless and meaningless to someone else as this one of mine is to you.  

But at least this is a photo.  Most of our "photos" today aren't even photos--they're just files.  They need to be brought out of file form and into a tactile form that can be held and seen, even if the computer has crashed or the cell phone has been stolen.  (There are some astonishing statistics of the likelihood of these {at this link}.)

This blog has a lot of great resources for doing just that.  Everything you'll find here (especially at the purple tabs across the top of the blog, under the header) are better quality than the vast majority of photo books you find online.  There are lots of perks, too, such as no hidden cost (no buying digital art, for example), private photo storage (shockingly unusual these days), and Heirloom Assurance.  You can {read more here}.

While I always encourage people to {find a memory-keeping method they will love} so that they're more likely to do it, I'll share two of my favorite ideas here, plus one super speedy option.

This is the one I always recommend to people who have so many photos that they don't even know what to do with them or where to start.  This video gives a fantastic solution, but it also goes over some strategies for getting a handle on many, many photos.

This is the method I personally use, and in the video I go over why I love it so much and how this method is responsible for allowing me to be consistently caught up preserving my photos and memories.  This method is sort of the extended version of the method above (yearbook).

2021 UPDATE:  Find three more heirloom-quality options--a simple auto-fill, a pretty adjustable template, and fully creative and flexible digital scrapbooking--at that link. 

Although the videos give you pretty much everything you need to know, you can {find additional tutorials here as well as here} if you'd like.

What will you do today towards treating your pictures as treasures, treating like them as if you want to see them and remember the moments they have captured for you?

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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Best of LifeTales Books - blog post collection (Happy Thanksgiving!)

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you have had an enjoyable day in the ways that make you happiest, and I hope you've taken time to count your blessings.

If you're ready for some inspiring, fun, and interesting reading, you've come to the right place.  You'll find the Best of LifeTales Books today--the top five blog posts of all time.  And since this blog is nine years old, that's actually saying a lot.  Here are the most-read blog posts at LifeTales Books:

#5 Special Family Days: DIY birthday and anniversary board
I gave this as a gift and it is well-loved!  I love seeing it when I visit.  :)  Read this blog post here:

#4 12 (Days of) Christmas Gift Ideas - part 1
These are some of the funnest gift ideas, and they can be combined for 12 Days of Christmas or you can just choose your favorites to give to neighbors/teachers/friends.  Read this blog post here:

#3 Two Impressive Ideas for Swag Bags
I wrote this post with small business owners in mind, but these ideas can be used for anything from birthday party bags to open houses or anything!  If you love this idea (shown), wait until you see the next one.  I think it's my very favorite.  Read this blog post here:

#2 Clever Christmas Card/Letter Idea!
I'm not surprised that my readers are Christmas fans just like I am!  This clever Christmas card/letter idea is so much fun, and it's the second most popular blog post EVER at LifeTales Books!  There's even a video tutorial to show you how to get some fancy and impressive Christmas greetings that will really stand out but not break the bank.  Read this blog post here:

And now for the #1 most popular post at LifeTales Books over the last 9 years...

#1 Teacher Appreciation Gifts that will Knock Their Socks Off
I love these creative, stand-out teacher appreciation gifts.  They're so clever and so personal.  There's also a video tutorial at this link about how to make your own notepads (they're professionally published) for this fun gift of thanks.  Read this blog post here:

Happy reading!  Since several of these posts are time-specific, remember you can Pin each post to Pinterest so you can find it again next spring (for teachers) or at Christmastime or whenever you're looking for gift ideas or swag bag fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

What is Memory-Keeping? (and why does it matter?)

{For centuries now, people have kept scrapbooks}--books with scraps and mementos in their pages.  In fact, the first scrapbooks were usually the family Bible.  It was where people kept important documents, recorded marriages and births and deaths, and even stored keepsakes like locks of hair and eventually photographs.

In the 1980s, a paper-crafting method of preserving photos and memories came on the scene, known as scrapbooking.  ScrapbookING differed from traditional scrapbooks because it was more of an art form or a craft than just jotting a few notes and making sure important things were kept in one place.

Today, preserving photos and memories can come in many forms, and memory-keeping has come a long way.  Quality is better, convenience has improved, and availability is common.

Memory-keeping is nothing more than holding on to what's important.  It's making sure photos of graduation don't just sit on a phone or computer until the files are unreadable.  It's writing down some details and memories next to the photo in a book or page so you can be reminded when your memory dims.  Because it will.

Memory-keeping is how we make connections. 
As we learned so beautifully from {Carol Stewart} this past May, "Memories connect us and help us understand who we are."  Memory-keeping is how we re-live the best times in life.  It's how we better remember what we want to remember.  I passionately believe that we can't afford to pass up {the benefits} of preserving photos and their stories--benefits like increased happiness, stress reduction, increased self-esteem (especially in children), a sense of belonging, and other therapeutic benefits like healing and coping.

Storing photos digitally is good, but the only meaningful way to store photos is in print.  A printed photo can be seen, interacted with, and loved.  A printed photo has a place to record memories.  That's the whole purpose behind and value of a photograph!  Remember that digital photo storage is still just storage.  And storage, as we all know, is putting something away that you won't see or use.  Sticking a digital photo in storage...  well, why even have it?

Photos stored in print can last upwards of 200 years!  Digital photos may or may not last until the next change in technology.  Files can be corrupted and become unreadable.  Computers crash.  One big advantage of printed photos is that their stories can be told.  With digital photo files, there isn't a place to record memories and details.  When you print a photo and put it in a book or page, you have space next to it to record what makes the photo important and why you love it.

A photo without a story is only worth half as much.

There is great power in photos and their stories (your memories), which most people leave largely untapped.  We are drawing further and further away from connections these days because technology, video games, and phones are so overused.  Conversations, reminiscing, and connections are becoming old-fashioned.

If you're looking for deeper connections, a greater sense of purpose, and something you can sit down with for 10 minutes for {instant happiness}, it's time for you to make time for memory-keeping.  Get started {right here}.  Find time management tips {here} if you need them.  #dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

Thursday, November 8, 2018

A Year's Worth of Your Photos Preserved FOR YOU: my 9-year blogiversary giveaway

I can hardly believe it.  I've been blogging here at LifeTales Books for NINE WHOLE YEARS, writing about photos and memories and stories and connections and DIY and creative gifts and ways to make something meaningful, with some time management and photo organization tips along the way.  So let's celebrate!

As you can probably tell by now, I'm passionate about helping you preserve your pictures, memories, and stories.  The {process of it all}--sitting down and going through your life's experiences--is so good for the heart and soul!  It has {therapeutic benefits and even lowers stress}!  We need our photos and memories and stories far more than we realize.  It's the medicine for all the ills of the day, such as busyness, {overwhelm}, FOMO, and more.

So I'd like to help you get started!  If you haven't done any memory-keeping for a while, I know it can feel a little daunting.  To celebrate my 9-year blogiversary, I'm giving away a 12x12 Family Yearbook which I will put together for you!!  This will help you see, hold, love, and enjoy your photos and memories from the past year (or any year of your choosing).  It can be the boost you need to start memory-keeping on your own, and {Heritage Makers family yearbooks make it so easy}!

What's a Family Yearbook?

Only the best way ever to get your photos off your phone or camera and into your hands and heart, that's all!

Did you know that {storing your photos in print is one of the very best ways} to store them?  It's true!  And a Family Yearbook is organized well, so it's easy to know where any given picture goes.  Not only that, but with the overabundance of photos these days, a Family Yearbook is designed to help you choose your favorites and just preserve those in print.  Heritage Makers is top-quality, too, which is a big reason it's my choice for memory-keeping.  Books have a library binding with metal stitching (not glue, which yellows and cracks over time, causing pages to fall out).  Not only that, but the digital art (which is included!) is absolutely unparalleled, so you're getting something jaw-droppingly beautiful, too.

It's amazing!  

photo credit:  Denise Pehrson
Which makes a Family Yearbook by Heritage Makers an AWESOME blogiversary giveaway, right??

Here's what the winner will do:
  1. Choose the year's worth of pictures you'd like to have preserved.  (2018, 2012, whatever)  (If you need photo organization tips so you can find all your pictures, {this video tutorial} will be your new best friend.)
  2. Choose from three styles of yearbooks.  There are actually lots of family yearbooks by Heritage Makers, but I've just picked three to simplify things for me.  You can see them {right here}, including page-by-page previews so you can choose the book that fits your style best.  If you're not the winner of this giveaway, that link gives information to still come away with a family yearbook.  :)   If you'd really like a different style, I can work with you, so let me know.  
  3. E-mail me 6-10 of your favorite pictures from each month of that year, along with a little description of who is in the photos, where they were taken, what memories you have of them, etc.  So, for example, the first e-mail you'll send me might say "January 2016  Jane's birthday party was so fun because..."  You'll need to e-mail pictures to me in full resolution.
  4. I do the work, you get the benefits.  :)
Without the additional charge of my hourly rate for creating books, this prize would be a $52 value.  However, since I'm putting it all together for you (bonus!), this comes out to be a $180+ prize!!

Note:  If you aren't a winner or if you come across this blog post too late to enter, check out {Digital Scrapbooking for Hire} and you can still come away with a year's worth of photos preserved FOR YOU!

And now I know you're wondering:  SO HOW DO I WIN?!

The winner will be selected at random on November 30.  There must be 10 entries for this prize in order for it to qualify to be given away, so you might want to share this post with friends!  

To enter the drawing, here's what you need to do:
  • Comment on this blog post.  You can tell me why you'd like to win this giveaway, or you can tell me something you've liked about other blog posts here at LifeTales Books over the last 9 years.
  • Tweet, Pin, or share on Facebook any blog post from LifeTales Books of your choosing.  
  • E-mail me just a hello so I have your e-mail address so I can notify you if you win.  I will not use your e-mail for any other purpose (because, hello, that's rude).
I'm SO excited to help you get a leg up on your memory-keeping and help you enjoy the good-for-the-soul by-products of preserving your memories and photos in one accessible, lovable place.  Good luck!  And don't forget to share this post so we're sure to have 10 entries for this giveaway.  The winner will be chosen November 30 and contacted via e-mail.
"My mother made me a scrapbook because I was once too young to remember; I am making scrapbooks for my family because one day I may be too old to remember."            -unknown  


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Friday, November 2, 2018

#friyay from Ladies Who Love Heritage Makers

Welcome to #friyay -- our monthly feature on the first Fridays of the month during 2018.  It's a chance to find out what people are saying about Heritage Makers!

We'll start by hearing what Katie has to say.  She has been a Heritage Makers user for about 4 years now.  I have loved seeing what she does with her beautiful books.  She copies and pastes photos and entries from her blog into gorgeous Heritage Makers books that her family will always have and cherish.  I love her dedication to creating heritage.

Our second #friyay shout-out comes from Elin who has created gorgeous wall canvases for her home.  I love how she has made them match the decor of each room while showing off family pictures or inspirational words.

For more reasons Heritage Makers is the best, click the "What Makes Heritage Makers the Best" tab along the top!  You will be amazed.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Cutest Chocolate Christmas Countdown Ever (tutorial + easy-button versions)

Today I made a simple Christmas advent calendar from Hershey Nuggets and Heritage Makers labels, and I'm quite convinced that it's the cutest thing EVER!  See if you don't agree.

Let me show you three ways to get it:  DIY, Simplified DIY, and the Easy Button way.

This is an adorable Christmas countdown that has the extra perks of being easy to make and being, you know, chocolate.  

Let's start with the Easy Button way of getting this cutest ever countdown, then move on to the two DIY methods.


This is so easy peasy.  I have four of these countdowns already made, so just {contact me} and let me know you'd like one.  Each countdown is $10 + shipping.

See?!  Easy!

Now let's look at the two DIY methods.  To make The Cutest Chocolate Christmas Countdown Ever, you'll need:
  • 27 Hershey Nuggets (flavor of your choosing)
  • 1 piece of cardboard about 8.5x11.  The size can vary, but it shouldn't be smaller than 6.5-7" wide and 10" tall.
  • wrapping paper to cover the cardboard
  • 1 set of Heritage Makers pre-designed address labels (as shown; stay tuned for how to get them)
  • double-sided tape


Step 1:  First, order the labels.  I created these Heritage Makers labels myself.  I LOVE that the digital art is free to use, and I love how creative you can be with Heritage Makers.  Bonus:  using the software is free, too, and so is a {Heritage Makers} account.   So grab a set of these pre-made labels from me for $4--just {contact me} and give me your mailing address and I'll get them on their way.  The labels will come blank as shown above.  There will be 27 green labels with white circles, 1 label with a star, and 1 label with presents on a wood ("tree trunk") style background.  While you're waiting for them arrive in the mail, gather the other items listed in the bullet points above.  

Step 2:  Next, number the labels in exactly this way.  It's important to label 1-5 SIDEWAYS.  You can see why in the photo below.  Then number 6-25 with the page portrait orientation as shown above.   There are 2 "oops" labels in case you need them, too.

Step 3:  Now just wrap the labels around your Hershey Nuggets.

This is pretty straightforward, but if you're having a hard time picturing it, I show you in less than a minute in this video--just start at 17:10 and end around 17:53 or so.

Step 4:  Wrap your cardboard piece in wrapping paper.  I personally prefer more neutral paper, but go with what you love.

This is obviously the back of the cardboard piece.

Step 5:  Place your wrapped Nuggets on the front of the cardboard piece, centering as you like.  Then use small pieces of double-sided tape to stick each of the chocolates on the board.

That's it!!  This whole project takes me about 15-20 minutes.  

Now, if you want to go full-on DIY, here's what you do.


Follow all 5 steps as described in the previous method, only order the labels from your own Heritage Makers account instead of from me already printed.  I can transfer the labels I've made to your account (and you can have access to them from year to year that way)!  You can edit the labels, too, if you'd like a different style or some type of personalization.  All you have to do is follow the basic idea shown in the video above.  

No matter your chosen method of getting this darling countdown for yourself or a family or a kiddo you know and love, you'll want to put it on an easel starting December 1!

  1. You may have noticed that there are 25 chocolates to eat as you count down to Christmas and two extras (the star and the tree trunk with the presents) that aren't technically a part of the countdown.  Those are for Mom to eat.  Just sayin'.  
  2. Do your friends a favor and share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or via mail using the little buttons below.  Then Pin this big ol' image to Pinterest so you can find it again next year!  Because this is the cutest chocolate Christmas countdown EVER!
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