Thursday, January 31, 2019

How to Hygge with Photos and Memories

Hygge is one of the best ways I've found to beat the winter blues!  I discovered it about a year ago, and although it is a tradition that's hundreds if not thousands of years old, it is increasing in popularity--and it's no surprise!  If you need a little more comfort and coziness in your life, you need hygge.

Hygge is pronounced "hue-guh."  It's a Danish (and Scandinavian) concept that embraces a general attitude of comfort and coziness.  It's a focus on warming your soul.  Imagine candles and crackling fires and hot cocoa and fuzzy slippers, and you've got the feeling of hygge.  Hygge also includes relaxing time with family and friends which fills both the home and heart with comfort and warmth.  You can read more about hygge at my article {Beating the Winter Blues with Hygge}, including how I use hygge to temper seasonal depression.  I love hygge! 

There are a lot of ways to hygge.  Reading a good book, baking, and creativity are hygge.  In fact, Christmas lights are hygge.  Last summer I read an excellent article from Hello Hygge, a blog dedicated to all things hygge, about how photos are hygge.  I had never thought of that specifically, but it's exactly what I always say!  Photos, in my opinion, are the essence of hygge--warm, cozy, comforting.  There's a lot to be said for letting something that made you happy once make you happy again.  In the article, {Capturing Everyday Hygge}, the author basically defended photos, saying that we often minimize pictures of food or selfies as trivial.  But her conclusion is the same as mine:  if it makes you smile now, why not capture it so you can look back on it and smile later, too?  Hygge is personal--it's what makes YOU feel comfortable and happy and peaceful.

Henry David Thoreau once said, "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  So if pictures of sunsets or flowers do that for you, take them.  Your photos are valuable to you because of what you see there.

The whole magic of photos is that you can capture something that makes you feel good so you can look back at it and experience the power of reminiscing.  (For some fascinating perspective on reminiscing, read here about {reminiscence therapy} or here about the history of the word {nostalgia}--a word that was actually first coined as a medical term in the 1600s!)

I really don't know of anyone who couldn't benefit from a little more hygge.  It's a very relaxed, mindful, comfortable, low-stress, warm, connected approach to life.

So let's talk about how to hygge with photos and memories!  With a focus on warmth and coziness and comfort as you hygge, photos and memories are the perfect place to start.  I think photos/memories and hygge are the perfect combination for three reasons:
  1. Photos really do make you happy.  Studies show that {looking back on happy memories actually increases your happiness in the present}.  
  2. If you suffer from Photo Guilt (it's like Mom Guilt but more widely experienced) because you have lots of photos just sitting on your phone or computer, this is the perfect solution!  Hygge with photos and memories allows you all those cozy hygge feelings we've been talking about while at the same time you're actually checking something off your to-do list.  Both make you feel better!
  3. All the steps of preserving your memories and photos are hygge--quiet time set aside for self-care, looking through mementos of your life's experience (pictures), remembering, connecting, putting words to your experiences (memories), creating something from your photos and memories, and giving yourself (and/or your kids) something tangible and uplifting to look back on when you need a boost.  We all {NEED the process of preserving our photos and memories}--it's therapeutic!  In fact, {photos have been shown in studies to increase both happiness and relaxation}!
In fact, memories and creativity are even important to personal growth!  Like reading, meditating, and exercising are good for the soul, so are memories and creativity.  They're all hygge.  If you're not sure you're creative, YOU MUST READ {The Importance of Creativity to Personal Growth}.  It will give a you a better understanding of what creativity is, how much your soul needs it, and how you ARE creative.  It will make you feel good about yourself right now!  If you're not sure how memories (looking back) has anything to do with hygge, YOU MUST READ {The Importance of Memories to Personal Growth}--the resources and insights there blew my mind.  

Now that you know why hygge is so good for you and why photos and memories are so good for you, too, let's get to the real business of using photos and memories for hygge.

  1. The very first step to being able to use your photos and memories to bring you happiness and warmth and comfort is to sort your pictures.  This serves two purposes.  First, digital photos are usually cluttered and/or disorganized, with pictures of your finger and nine pictures of essentially the same thing scattered throughout.  Sorting through photos then deleting garbage pictures and duplicates make your pictures manageable.  Check out my video tutorial for organizing digital photos {here} if you need some help.  Second, too many pictures makes them overwhelming and actually makes them not very enjoyable.  Choose your favorites to upload to your computer for step 3.  (Short video tutorial on getting your pictures off your phone and onto your computer {here} if you need it.)
  2. Set aside time.  Hygge is unhurried.  It's a peaceful focus on warmth and comfort.  If you need some tips on making time, I've been collecting them for you for quite a while!  Check out all the information at my {"don't have time?"} link.  There are many resources there, including fantastic ideas from experts as well as some new perspectives about time you may not have thought about before.  And don't miss the information about {"our community" (my online events)} which are hygge in several ways--they involve photos and memories and friends.
  3. Now make something meaningful with your photos.  Creating something from your photos is hygge--good for your heart and soul.  Writing down your memories and what makes those photos fun or special or wonderful is also hygge--good for your heart and soul.  My go-to suggestion is to make a yearbook of all the photos from one year, and {this video tutorial} walks you through that step by step with heirloom-quality books.  But there are lots of ways to preserve your photos and memories, from high-quality softbound books and wirebound cookbooks to wall canvases and digital scrap pages.  Check out {all the top-quality methods I recommend} right there at that link.  Find something you will enjoy!
In Denmark, hygge is mostly a winter tradition that starts in the late fall when days get shorter and colder, but as its popularity increases, people are seeing reasons to hygge in fall and spring.  I believe it's because our world is a little crazier now than it used to be.  With so many things clamoring for our attention and so much loudness and so many things we feel like we have to do, our desire for peace and quiet and comfort and self-care and warmth is continually on the increase.  Regular time spent with your photos and your memories is the best way I know of to carry that hygge softness with you all year long.

Share the cozy hygge tradition by Pinning to Pinterest!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

One-of-a-Kind Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

If you're like most Valentine-givers, you are giving a gift or a card to someone special for a reason.  You want to show love and appreciation.  With a little planning, this year you can give your someone special an impressive and truly personal gift or card.  Ready to see FIVE one-of-a-kind Valentine's Day gift ideas?  Let's go!

The first three ideas I'll show you are all created online (with templates available) using {Heritage Makers}.  So even though they are different products, they all come with:
  • highest quality
  • free templates
  • fully-editable templates (so you're not restricted by using a template--you can add and remove and change and move any element on the page)
  • free digital art (that's all the "cute" stuff--the backgrounds, alphabets, and other embellishments)
  • nothing extra to download or buy (your account is free, use of the software is free, templates are free, and you don't buy or download digital art, either--all you pay for is whatever product you're buying)
  • private photo storage (surprisingly uncommon these days--many companies reserve rights to your photos and can use them!)
  • Heirloom Assurance (as long as your account is active, all projects are saved there forever, and if any project gets damaged you can order a replacement at half price)
  • a consultant--that's me!  I can help with any questions you have.
If you're new to Heritage Makers, you're going to love it!  It is so versatile and so personal.  (If you're "old" to Heritage Makers, I know you're nodding.) 

The last two ideas are things you just order without creating digitally.  They're from Anthology DIY, and they're really clever and fun!

So let's see these five fantastic ideas already!

5.75"x3.5" - 20 fully personalizable pages -  wirebound with clear protective front and back covers - about $12 - arrives about 10 days after you submit it for publishing
template 50462 at the Template Gallery at
I think "reasons I love you" gifts are some of the best kind you can give!  

not for Valentine's Day, but you can see the wire binding here
A written note listing reasons you love your special one would be wonderful, but imagine opening your own book with those reasons, complete with your own photos!  There's nothing like it!!

I made this video for beginners (anyone new to Heritage Makers), showing step by step how to make something lovely for Valentine's Day.  I show template ideas for the sweet little pink book above as well as card ideas which I'll talk about below.  It's actually a live class (recorded), so the attendees actually typed in questions for me to address, too.  

About the Video:  The beginning until minute 5 introduces the cards and book with product specifications and template numbers.  You'll want to skip 5:15-10:45 because that where I explain how to get the best prices.  That system is a tad outdated--the current system is very similar but has been modified, so {you can find best price information here} instead.  Then from 10:45 until the end you get THE WORKS.  I explain how to set up a free Heritage Makers account, how to upload the photos you want to use in your projects, how to use a template, and more.  Then I show in detail how to use the software (it's a drag & drop format) and how to access all the free digital art (thousands of pieces!) as I literally personalize (and change) a template while you watch me do it.  I walk you all the way through ordering, too.

The same basic idea of making the card as shown in the video will help you make the book, too, but if you'd prefer {a tutorial specifically making a flip book}, just click this link.

5"x7" (or 7"x5") - 4 fully personalizable panels - includes an envelope - direct shipping option available - about $2 - also available in 4"x6" (or 6"x4")  - arrives about 10 days after you submit it for publishing

template 25355 at the Template Gallery at
I really think one of my favorite things about this type of truly personal card is that it's the same price as one from Hallmark or Walmart!  Actually, a little cheaper!  And you can put your own picture, your own message, your own sentiment on it.  Isn't that amazing?

I can't even tell you how many templates there are available, either.  TONS.  This is one of the two cards I show in the video tutorial above, and I go into detail about how to make a card in the video, too.

54-card deck of 2.4"x3.5" cards - both sides fully customizable (backs all one design; fronts can be different) -  comes with a plastic case - high gloss finish with rounded corners - about $17 - arrives about 20 days after you submit it for publishing

template 6114 at the Template Gallery at
How cool is this?!  It's a little hard to tell from just this picture, but this is the back of a playing card deck that's been made into Love Coupons!  On the front side, there are sweet little coupons like "30 minute massage" and "candlelight dinner at home for the two of us."  

Because this is a template and because it's a Heritage Makers product, you can put your own picture there on the back and just submit the cards for publishing OR you can change things up.  Instead of "a gift from the heart" on the back, you can put your own message or none at all.  Instead of "candlelight dinner" you can put something else you'd prefer to give a coupon for.  

I LOVE how personal this gift is!

If you would like a little walk through making a playing card deck in order to personalize yours, {click here to see my very basic Heritage Makers playing card deck tutorial}.

The playing cards don't have to be Love Coupons, either.  If you want just a regular deck of playing cards with a picture on the back, you can do that, too!  (That's actually the kind I show in the playing card deck tutorial link above.)

And you can make them for friends instead of a sweetheart, if you prefer, like this:
playing card deck from Heritage Makers; back shown at left, other cards are the fronts

Remember I said there were a couple of non-digital items that are great one-of-a-kind Valentine's Day gift ideas?  These are kits that are almost done for you and make really fun gifts.  Here they are: 

everything (EVERYTHING!) you need to make 20 shaker cards - pre-cut pieces and directions so the cards are almost made for you - beautiful storage box with magnetic closure included - $49 - arrives in about 7-10 days

I have made cards from Anthology DIY card kits before, but not these shaker ones.  I need to try them!  Aren't they adorable? I absolutely adore the Anthology kits in general because it's like crafty card making without nearly so much time.  I get to be creative, but I don't have to cut or measure anything.

The price comes out to about $2.50 per card, and I think this would make such a fun Valentine for classmates, grandkids, girlfriends, etc.  

To order this set, go {to this website} and click "products" at the upper right.  From there, click "Anthology DIY."  This kit is under the Kits section, so you'll have to scroll down a bit.  It's called Valentine Make & Shake Card Kit.  (Don't confuse it with the regular Make & Shake Card Kit, although that's darling, too.)  Just put it in your shopping cart.

set of 3 sticky-backed canvas pieces with a Valentine theme for $15 - block kit including paint, paint brush, and sandpaper along with 3 unfinished pine 3"x4" blocks set, 1 with a finial, for $17 (optional) - arrives in about 7-10 days 

I think this would make such a fun home decor gift!  It doesn't take up a lot of space but is so cute!

The blocks themselves are a separate kit from the sticky-backed canvas pieces shown above.  I personally consider the block set (with the paint, etc.) optional, but it's certainly easier than cutting your own blocks.  

An extra bonus about this gift is that there are additional canvas sets for other holidays.  (Hence, the title "Canvas EXCHANGE.")  The canvas pieces can be stored flat on a plastic sheet (I use a 12x12 page protector) and can be used and reused about 100 times!  You can swap or exchange one canvas set for another while using the same set of wood blocks.  So if you give this for Valentine's Day, you can give additional canvas sets for birthdays and holidays!

To order this set, go {to this website} and click "products" at the upper right.  From there, click "Anthology DIY."  To complete this whole set, you'll want the Valentine Canvas Exchange ($15) and the wood block kit ($17), unless you'd prefer to cut your own blocks and buy your own paint and brush.  Both kits are under the Kits section, so you'll have to scroll down and look around.  Place them in your shopping cart and you've got a cute gift on the way!

How's that for five adorable, unique, personal, and creative Valentine's Day gift ideas that will make your recipients feel like they're one-of-a-kind?!  

Save for next year, too!  Pin to Pinterest.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

What Memory-Keeping Has to do with Personal Growth

Are you a resolution maker?  Or are you a proponent of having a word for the year to focus on?  I'm definitely the latter.  In fact, my word for this past year was "prioritize," and I have changed up quite a few aspects of my Heritage Makers business.  I prefer small do-able changes over a giant proclamation at the beginning of the year (when, frankly, it's cold and dark and I just want to sip hot chocolate all day) about big changes I want to make.

Of all the goals or words for the year that may be crossing your mind, I'm guessing they have something to do with personal growth.  Whether it's taking the stairs instead of the elevator or increasing your random acts of kindness, most things we strive for are related in one way or another to personal growth and self-improvement.  We often want to do a little better at something.

In my years and years as a memory-keeper, and now sharing it as a business since 2005, I have discovered four truths about personal growth in relation to memory-keeping.  While we think about our goals and growth for the coming year, I'd like to offer these four truths for you to consider in coming days, weeks, and months.  The blog posts I'm sharing with each truth go into much more detail, so you'll definitely want to read each one!

Here are four truths I've learned about personal growth through memory-keeping.
  1. Making time to sit, feel, remember, and engage with your photos and your stories gives you peace, gratitude, and happiness in a way nothing else can.  Putting your photos and stories in something tangible gives credence to them is actually therapeutic.  Read more--including statistics and studies about the benefits of memory-keeping as well as advice on HOW to be a memory-keeper--at {Personal Growth through Memory-Keeping}.   
  2. Hobbies are not for people with too much time on their hands; they are for people who want to expand their minds and use or find their talents.  Hobbies challenge your brain, give a needed break from stress, and increase positivity while lowering depression.  (As you might guess, preserving my photos and memories is my favorite hobby because it combines the therapeutic benefits I mentioned in #1 with these benefits of a hobby.)  Read more on {The Importance of Hobbies to Personal Growth}.
  3. EVERYONE IS CREATIVE, and everyone needs to use their own creativity for personal growth, happiness, and satisfaction!  An understanding of what creativity actually is frees you to create.  If you want your heart to feel good right now, read the inspiring words at {The Importance of Creativity to Personal Growth}.  You'll come away knowing much more about yourself.
  4. Memories are important to personal growth!  At first glance, it seems strange--how can memories (looking back) mean so much to growth (going forward)?  Our memory, in fact, is wholly responsible for our connection to other people!  Memory is also what makes it possible for us to grow and change.  I had never thought of that.  I learned so much from the expertise in {The Importance of Memories to Personal Growth}.

So what DOES memory-keeping have to do with personal growth?  Actually , preserving your photos and memories by taking the time to engage with them and remember has EVERYTHING to do with personal growth!

And it would be the perfect goal for the coming year because {it's good for you and good for your family} at the same time!  

{Get started right now!}  There is (quite literally!) no time like the present!  This is gonna be SO good for you!

We all need these therapeutic benefits--so Pin and share!
Happy New Year!  See you there.