Saturday, November 14, 2020

How to Create Unique (Professional!) Holiday Cards without Breaking the Bank

Here's the usual Christmas card quandary:  How do you send out beautiful holiday greetings that are inexpensive without looking cheap?  How do you find something impressive to share with loved ones that doesn't break the bank?

Welcome to the solution to your dilemma.

If you've been around this blog a time or two, you've certainly seen some of the creative, heirloom-quality ways you can preserve your photos, memories, and stories.  And I'm sure you've also see that those same high-quality Heritage Makers products can be turned into something else entirely!  For example, address labels can become chocolate party favors, and scrapbook pages can become nativity sets, and a DIY playing card deck can become recipe cards to share!

Today I'm going to show you a fun and creative use for DIY Heritage Makers notepads!  

That's right!  We're going to take personalized DIY notepads like this:


And turn them into something like this:




Here's what you'll love about Newsletters on DIY Notepads from Heritage Makers:
  • COMPLETELY personalize-able!
  • The quality is stunning.
  • The price is tiny.  (14-19 cents each for 120, plus shipping)
  • Your style.  (Not a locked-in template you're stuck with.)
  • Create them online using any computer without having to download anything!
  • All the creative elements you see (wreaths, background papers, etc.) are included right in the program.  
  • The notepads are professionally printed and shipped to your door.
Note:  Notepads are printed by Heritage Makers' specialty printer and can take 2-3 weeks to print and arrive at your door, so plan ahead.

I came up with this idea to use notepads as newsletters 3 years ago, and it is BY FAR my favorite method of Christmas card.  It's gorgeous and impressive, and nobody would guess they cost me very little!

I made you a step-by-step video so you can do it, too!

You're going to love sending unique and impressive holiday cards and greetings this way.  

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

You're invited to the annual *online* "Enjoy December" Card Party!

This blog post will be updated each year with the latest dates/times for this annual online party!  Up now: 2022.  (Check back in fall 2023 for the 2023 event and details.)

I prefer to enjoy December.  I don't want to feel stressed or like I have too much to do and not enough time.  I like sipping hot chocolate in front of twinkling lights, not scrambling to check things off my list.  So my favorite way to enjoy December is to do a lot of things in November!  

And that's how the "Enjoy December" Card Party was born more than a decade ago!


So if you don't have oodles of time for everything you want to do in December, let me help you check "Christmas cards" (or other holiday greetings) off your list!  

And all you need is:  a computer, tablet or phone!  (Even a borrowed one from the library, if need be.)  

Think you're not creative?  Keep on reading because this platform is quick and easy!

It's everything you'd ever want.

"What's a Card Party?"

I'm glad you asked.  It's just a time to get together with friends (even some new ones) and create your Christmas cards digitally.  Since the party is in early November, you'll get your cards created and ordered and back before Thanksgiving so you can enjoy December!  


All we do is get on our own computers/tablets--wherever we are in the country--at the party date & time, then create together.  Well, technically we create individually, but we're "together" over the internet.  I work on my cards on my computer while you work on your cards on your computer.  

Instead of sitting around signing cards on your own, you get to create digitally with others!  It's the best way I know to make sending Christmas cards a lot more fun.


For those of you familiar with the "Enjoy December" Card Party, it's moving!  Instead of being an all-day Facebook event, it's now being held live via Zoom.  There will be 3 sessions (in an attempt to find a time for everyone), and you can attend the morning session, the afternoon session, or the after-work session--or all 3!  

It's the Umpteenth Annual because I can't remember when I started it!  At least 12 years ago...

"What's so great about a Card Party?  And how will I know if this is something I want to do?"

Aside from being held early enough to enjoy December and being held online with friends (it's fun!), you'll be creating your cards using Forever, which means you get:
  • high quality (with an upgrade option to gold foil-lined envelopes)
  • lots of pre-designed templates to use in the free Design & Print platform--and Design & Print is so simple that it takes just about no time to learn how to use
  • or, if you want more creativity and flexibility than templates, you have the option to upgrade to the Artisan software program to make your cards
  • your own Photo & Story Treasures consultant (me!) at the Card Party with you to answer questions you may have as you create your cards digitally
  • guaranteed photo privacy (not always true for online photo companies)
  • sales happening almost all the time!  (Note:  Bulk Discounts are available when you order at least 5 packs of 10.)

"Sounds amazing.  What kind of cards are available to make?  What do I have to choose from?"

I recommend the Design & Print platform from Forever for 3 reasons:  it's free, it's very user-friendly and easy to learn, and you can be done with your cards and have them ordered in 5 or 10 minutes.  With Design & Print, your cards will:
  • come in a set of 10 
  • be 5x7 or 7x5, double-sided
  • 120 lb. premium satin cardstock (optional upgrade to 130 lb. premium matte cardstock)
  • include envelopes (with an optional gold foil lining)
  • include many pre-designed templates to choose from

There are some additional things available to you if you create your cards using Artisan digital scrapbooking software by Forever.  After you purchase the program and install it on your PC (available on Mac using a partitioning program) and install digital art collections (either free or purchased), your cards:
  • come in a set of 10, except the 4x8 and 8x4 size which you may order singly
  • be 4x6, 6x4, 5x7, or 7x5, double-sided
  • be 4x8 or 8x4, single-sided
  • be 4x6, 6x4, 5x7, or 7x5, folded (like a traditional greeting card)
  • 120 lb. premium satin cardstock (optional upgrade to 130 lb. premium matte cardstock)
  • include envelopes (with an optional gold foil lining)
  • are fully-editable, whether you design from scratch or use an Artisan-made template
  • can use a wide variety of fonts--whatever you have installed on your computer!!
  • allow for more text and/or more photos to fit your needs


"If I'm new to Forever, how will I know if I'm computer-savvy enough to use the free software in Design & Print?"

Two words:  You Are.  It really is that easy.  Here's a video showing you just how easy:


The 12-minute video gives you all the details, so definitely watch it all, but if you just want a quick look at what working in Design & Print is like, watch a minute's worth--watch from about minute 9 to about minute 10.
 
And don't forget I'll be there to help, and Zoom features a screen-share feature we can use if needed.

"And how will I know if I'm computer-savvy enough to use the the Artisan software?"

There are an amazing amount of things you can do with Artisan--add frames around photos, add drop-shadows, put text boxes anywhere, use alphabets and other embellishments.  Because it's a super fancy digital scrapbooking software program, it does take some time to learn, but in my opinion, cards are an easy way to get your Artisan Feet wet!  

Here's what it looks like to make a card using Artisan:


And, again, I'll be there to help, and we can screen-share if you need to.

I also have a whole series on my YouTube channel called Artisan Quick Tips with Jennifer, which you can find at that link.  I have 40+ videos showing you one thing at a time, such as how to rotate something 90 degrees, how to add edges (effects) to photos, how to use the "fill" feature to change the look of an element, how to group elements together (or ungroup them), etc.  


"Okay, this is pretty cool.  When is the party and how do I attend?"

Yes, it is definitely pretty cool!  :)

The 2022 Enjoy December Card Party will be held Friday, November 4 in three 1-hour sessions.  Choose one, two, or all of them.  
  • The morning session will be 8:00-9:00am.
  • The afternoon session will be 1:00-2:00pm.
  • The after-work session will be 5:00-6:00pm.  
  • All times shown are Mountain Time, so adjust accordingly if needed.

You should be able to complete your personalized, high-quality cards in much less than an hour, but there's not a limit on which session(s) you attend.

Individual cards are now available in just the 4x8 size in Artisan.
All other cards come in packs of 10 of the same design.

To attend the Umpteenth Annual Online "Enjoy December" Card Party, simply click this link below to join (at one of the times shown above).


I can't wait to see you at the party!  

Then all you have to do is go enjoy December!  


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Thursday, May 28, 2020

5 Scrapbooking Hacks to Make Memory-Keeping Doable

Whether you love or hate the thought of scrapbooking, this post is for you!  That's because you have pictures, and you have memories to go with them.  And they need a home--a place to LIVE.

Photos that sit on phones, computers, or in the cloud are not living up to their full potential, so to speak.  In fact, they aren't even photos yet--they're just files.  You might not even know what you have or where it is.  Unless you have some wicked {good photo organization} of those files, you might not even be able to find something you know you have.  Knowing what you have and where it is and then giving those photos a tactile home, next to the written memories of them, has some powerful effects.  You can read about those effects {here}.  Our photos are much more powerful than we give them credit for.

And that's all well and good until you don't have a lot of time to spend scrapbooking--in which case, you need some time-saving scrapbooking hacks.


The first thing to know is that "scrapbooking" doesn't have to be fancy and time-consuming.

Did you know that "scrapbooking" in the layered, embellished sense of the word goes back to about 1980, with heightened popularity in the 1990s?  Before that, though, people still put "scraps" or mementos in blank-page books with their photos!  They did! (You can read a brief version of the interesting history of scrapbooking {here}--I learned a lot of cool stuff I didn't know before.)  The reason for this is to keep the photos protected.  They couldn't just leave them in a drawer or a stack on a shelf.  The photos needed a place to be kept so that they could be seen, and wise photograph owners would write next to the photo a description of who was in the photo and where it was taken.

Obviously, the paper-crafting modern version of "scrapbooking" is definitely not the only way to preserve photos and memories.  In fact, given the history of photography, it's a relatively recent invention and isn't used by the majority of photograph owners.  So just do whatever works for you.

You need your photos and memories!  They're good for the heart and soul.  In fact, they're {the secret ingredient to self-care and wellness}!

So let's make it a little easier to DO!  Here are 5 scrapbooking hacks that can help!

#1  MAKE THE TIME ON YOUR CALENDAR

If you struggle to find time, you'll probably have to make it.  There are a lot of really fantastic tips and suggestions for how to do that {here}-- from the concept of "time creation" to making memory-keeping a regular family tradition!  There are suggestions there for streamlining your responsibilities to give yourself more time as well as how to pare down your photos.  

Making time and actually blocking out on your calendar--like an appointment with yourself--is one of the biggest hacks that I use to help me actually stay caught up preserving my pictures!

#2  MAKE YOUR PHOTOS MANAGEABLE

If you are overwhelmed with the amount of photos you have, you definitely need to read {When Photo Overload Becomes Photo Overwhelm}.  This is a very real thing these days, and a very real problem.  The tips there can help you get your photos into a manageable state so that you even WANT to scrapbook, let alone CAN.  The biggest tip is to not preserve every photo you take.  If you're overwhelmed with your photos, just choose your favorites to preserve in print.

If you need photo organizational help, check out my 3-part series (particularly the Part 2 video) there at that link.

just one of the things you'll learn in the 3-part video series

#3  GO DIGITAL

This has saved my bacon.  Digital scrapbooking is what's FULLY responsible for me staying caught up on my own memory-keeping. 

I was a paper scrapbooker for probably 10+ years, but for the last 10 I've been digital.  I love that I can just replicate the design of an entire page with a couple of clicks of the mouse instead of having to re-create it by hand.  I love that I can get multiple copies for multiple kids with zero extra work/time.  


Digital scrapbooking is an enormous time-saver!!

If you're new to digital memory-keeping, check out three different possibilities--from quick templates to fully-creative and flexible books and scrap pages--at this link.  I only recommend companies with heirloom-quality products and private photo storage, and you'll find both there. 

It has changed my life.  No kidding!

#4 CREATE YEARBOOKS

Another amazingly helpful scrapbooking hack is Yearbooks.  I can't even tell you how much I love this idea!  It's what I always recommend to people who are overwhelmed with their photos and really just don't know what to do with them.  


You could also consider the Yearbook Method, which is putting pictures from one month on two pages.  This helps some people pare down their photos by just choosing their favorites, which makes their photos manageable again.  

Whether you use the pared-down Yearbook Method or you preserve the majority of the photos you take (using more than 2 pages per month), the easiest way I have ever seen to make a yearbook is by Forever, and I show it to you right here:


If you prefer full creativity and flexibility, you can also make Yearbooks using Artisan digital scrapbooking software by Forever.  It's powerful software and you can do a lot with it!  That's what I use and I L-O-V-E it!!


Plus, with a Forever account you're getting heirloom-quality publishing and an option to purchase and OWN your own permanent photo storage (which just about nobody offers) without paying a monthly fee (or a "rental" fee, as I call it).

#5 WORK WITH SOMEONE ELSE

I have a friend who gets together with her sister for lunch every Friday for 2 hours and they work on their photos.  Sometimes it's uploading them from their phones, sometimes it's putting them in digital pages, etc.  When I had little kids, I got together with a friend and we scrapbooked the entire day while our kids played together--and it was absolutely fantastic.

This hack to work with someone else is kind of like leveling up from the #1 idea up top.  One of the main benefits of working with others is that you have an accountability partner, of sorts. 

This is why I've been holding online events for quite a few years!  Click here to see "our community & events" and see what events are coming up next so you can come!  Most of them are free, and all of them are fabulous.  I recommend the Photo Rodeo for a general event where everyone just works on whatever they need to, from photo organization to digital scrapbooking.

AS A BONUS, HERE'S ONE LAST SCRAPBOOKING HACK THAT CAN REALLY HELP!

I've been a digital scrapbooker for so long that I work pretty fast!  If you'd like to hire me to do the physical work of putting together your books or scrap pages, click the "contact me" tab at the upper left at the top of this blog.  Having a partner and a scrapbooker-for-hire is a pretty big, helpful scrapbooking hack! 



Choose one of these great methods, prioritize time on your calendar, and make your photos manageable... and you've just hacked scrapbooking!

#dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

One More Reason You MUST Print Your Photos

If any article were to catch my eye, it would be one called "Photos Go Missing After [Computer] Upgrade." 

Guys, this is exactly what I'm talking about!!  This is exactly why I'm a photo pusher!  Digital photos can definitely be stored digitally, but it's a fickle choice.  This {article from the Seattle Times} is a Q & A.  The man asking the question about why all his photos disappeared from his hard drive has just "upgraded" his operating system.  Definitely worth the read.

You may remember {my experience a few years ago}:  after a similar "upgrade," my whole computer crashed!


Technology is always changing, and it's also fairly unstable since computers crash and files become unreadable without warning.  Remember floppy discs?  Remember beta videotapes?  The latest trend is computers without disc drives.  Does that mean all the photos I've saved on discs will be inaccessible 10 years from now?  Or will external disc drives be available?  Or will disc drives come back?  Or not?  We don't know!

And this is why I preach what I preach:  The best way to store your photos isn't digitally.  It's in print.  A printed photo can last about 200 years.  We just don't know how long digital photos last.  A printed photo has a place to write names, dates, memories, and other details that make the photo significant.  A printed photo gets {seen and loved and interacted with}.  It's the interaction that refreshes the memory.  It's the interaction that makes connections.  


Backing up your photos is obviously a good idea.  But never forget that {the backup is a backup}!  It's not the main attraction.  Digital photos are a great backup, like film was in the olden days.  But the real treasure is the actual photo, the printed version, complete with its stories and details and memories.


This is in large part why my chosen method of preserving photos includes both STORAGE and PRESERVATION.  I recommend these two companies, both of which offer me a way to preserve my photos in heirloom-quality printed books and other products.  For digital photo storage, both companies save my photos in full resolution with free download ability (not true with all cloud storage services), and they keep my photos private.  Again, not true with all cloud services.  Privacy is a big deal to me!  

However, between the two companies, Forever is the only one who triple-backs-up my photos and guarantees their privacy and security for my lifetime + 100 years.  (And they also include file migration, meaning if my current photo files, jpegs, some day become obsolete, Forever will change the files to a new format so they're always accessible and never become unreadable.)


Saved photos are an awesome back-up, but it's the printed photos that get seen and loved.  Printing my photos like this gives me two important benefits:  I have a high-quality way of printing my photos and telling their stories (either books or scrap pages), AND I have all those completed projects (books, scrap pages, etc.) saved in my account *forever.  That means everything to me!  I get the interactive, tactile version of my photos and memories, plus some digital backups just in case. 

*Note that because Heritage Makers saves your published photos in your account for free (which is expensive on their end), they require accounts to be used at least every 18 months to be considered active.  With an active account, my projects stay in my account forever.  Because Forever gives everyone with an account 2 GB of free photo storage and allows me to buy additional photo storage, I own the photo storage.  My projects are saved in my Forever account forever without any "active" requirements.  



Don't be distracted by hard drives and external hard drives and flash drives and clouds.  {Printing photos is where it's at.}  Yup, it's kinda old fashioned.  

Another term for "old fashioned," though, is "tried and true."  

Print works.  Printed photos are what's real.  They're what get seen.  They're how you preserve the story that goes with the photos.  "IMG_3489" isn't a story.  It's not really even a photo.  It's a digital file.

The {benefits of memory-keeping don't happen with digital files}.  They happen with photos.  

#dontletyourbabiesgrowuptobejpegs  {Get started here.

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Thursday, March 19, 2020

How to Connect to Your Own Heart - an online retreat!

Today's world is so fast-paced that many people feel pulled in multiple directions--most of the time.

Does that describe you?  

Despite the idea that social media connects us, the common ills of our day are loneliness, stress, depression, and lowered self-esteem.

Unfortunately, what we lose most often these days is ourselves.

This has been on my heart and mind for a while, so I have been working on a solution--a small thing we can do to rediscover and connect with ourselves.  And today I'm so happy to introduce a new online retreat I'll be offering called "Connect to Your Heart through Your Photos and Your Stories."


In "Connect to Your Heart," you will learn the power of your photos and your stories (as shown in studies, actually!) and how to use these simple tools to increase your own peace, contentment, gratitude, happiness, and even relaxation.  Connecting with yourself has a grounding effect that can help you in your goals and everyday life.

Each of the four sessions will be part learning (information) and part practice (telling your story and connecting with your heart using your photos) as you create a beautiful heirloom-quality hardbound book about yourself.

It's a retreat like no other!

In fact, you can choose your own place of retreat during each of the four sessions.  What would be a retreat for you--a place you could go for an hour to be with yourself?  Retreat to your bedroom with your laptop.  Retreat to your favorite wifi-friendly cafe.  Retreat to a restaurant with friends.  Or retreat to your local library (I love the quiet there!), or even your kitchen table.

Here's what Connect to Your Own Heart is--in 1 minute:

Here's what you need to know about this wonderful online retreat:
  • "Connect to Your Heart" will be held via Zoom for four 1  1/2-hour sessions.
  • Cost for the 4-week retreat is just $45! 
  • Cost for the 8x8 hardbound book you'll be creating is $30+shipping and not included in the price of the retreat.  Payment for the book and shipping will be made at the end of the retreat.
  • Minimum number of people required to hold the retreat is 5; maximum number is 10.
Choose from the daytime Connect to Your Heart Retreat or the evening one:
  • 10:00-11:30am* on Fridays May 8-29
  • 7:00-8:30pm* on Tuesdays May 5-26
The Zoom sessions will be recorded and emailed to you if you need to miss a session.  (*And times shown are Mountain Time.)
You'll make a 21-page hardbound 8x8 book just like this.
To secure your spot in the Connect to Your Heart Retreat, the $45 payment must be received by May 1.  Email jenniferwise4heritagemakers@gmail.com to request payment information and to specify whether you will be attending the daytime retreat or the evening retreat.  I'll reply to give you instructions on payment options, and then I'll use your email to send you the Zoom link to join the four Connect to Your Heart Retreat sessions.

And as a bonus:  Everyone who completes payment by April 20 will receive a swag bag in the mail!  That's right--I'll send you a little Connect to Your Heart gift bag.  So why not register a little early?!

Remember that each retreat (daytime/evening) is limited to only ten people, so don't delay.  

You need this.  You know you do.  I know you need it, too--because every one of us needs to find the power and peace that comes from connecting with ourselves.

And if you'd like a sneak peek at what we'll be doing at the retreat, here's a Taste of Connect to Your Heart:

Come see what a difference connecting with your own heart can make!

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Personal Gifts for Moms, Dads, and Grads: an online workshop

It's that time of year--time to make someone special feel extra-special.  If you've ever walked around the mall for a couple of hours trying to find the perfect gift, you're in luck because you're about to spend less time than that on an absolutely impressive and unforgettable gift. 

Whether you're in need of something unique and heartfelt for a mom or grandma, a dad or grandpa, or a graduate you're proud of, this online workshop will be just the thing.


What's an online workshop?  It's the coolest thing ever in just two parts.
  1. First, you'll come to an online video call to see five personal and meaningful gift ideas that your recipients will adore and cherish.  (Spoiler:  I *have to* show you the playing card decks!!)  After the online video call showing gift ideas, you'll have a week to decide what you'd like to create, gather photos, set up the free online account where you'll do your creating, etc. It's easy.  I'll explain everything at this first video call. 
  2. Second, a week after the gift idea video call, we'll get together again--this time to actually create that amazing thing you chose.  (Isn't technology cool?  This second video call will be like we're sitting around my kitchen table, each of us with our own computers, creating our own unique gifts digitally--and I'm there to help out as needed--only in reality we may be in different states!)  We'll digitally create at this second video call, and then you'll be ready to submit your project for professional publishing on highest-quality products.  And if you've never done anything like this before, don't worry.  I help people like this all the time and you'll love it.


About 10 days after you've submitted your heartfelt gift for publishing, you'll get it in the mail!  Trust me when I say that waiting for that day is the hardest part of this whole process.  :)  (Note:  Some items from our specialty print partner can take up to 3 weeks to arrive at your door, so plan accordingly.)

And if I can add a little personal note here:  My mom passed away a few years ago, and events and advertising around this time of year can sometimes be hard for me since I'm no longer able to give her tangible gifts.  {The best gift I ever gave myself was a book about her life.}  Consider gifting yourself one of these items I'll share in this workshop in memory of the parent or grandparent or other special someone you miss on Mother's Day or Father's Day.  It can help the day be a happy one!  For me, it helps me focus on what I have (via legacy and other life gifts) instead of what I lost.

I'm in!  How does it work?

UPDATE:  Here's the video recording of this event!
 
The Moms, Dad, & Grads Online Workshop will be held April 2, 2020, and April 9, 2020, from 12:00-1:00pm (Mountain Time).  If you can't attend live, I can send you video recordings!  The first video call will actually only be about 30-40 minutes, and then second one will be the full hour (so we have more work time).  Again, if you've ever walked around the mall for an hour or two trying to find just the right gift, this online workshop will actually be a time-saver for you!  

The price for this online workshop is only $5!  And you can make as many gifts as you'd like!  Price for the workshop does not include the price of whatever gifts you choose, but at the first video call all the prices will be shown, and there will be something fabulous in a variety of price ranges.  

To register, email jenniferwise4heritagemakers@gmail.com before March 31, 2020.  That way, I'll have your email address and can send you the link to join both of the video calls, and I can give you payment information also.  Payment must be received by April 1, 2020, so if you don't use Venmo, be sure you give yourself enough time to have a check to me by then.

And then we're ready to play!  It's going to be so fun!  Guaranteed.


As I mentioned, there will be 5 super cool products in a variety of price ranges, and everything you'll see is 100% customizable so it's sure to be exactly the style you're looking for!

Giving personalized gifts like these has been something I have LOVED doing for over a dozen years.  I don't have to fight traffic or crowds, I don't have to settle for something average bought from Amazon, and I never even worry if the recipient will like it!  EVERY time, the recipient is duly impressed!  Always.

It's really the best gift-giving ever! So join me.  Be sure to register before March 31!  Invite a friend along, too.

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Everyone loves amazing gift ideas!