Friday, December 3, 2021

The Best Self-Care Method (that you've never even thought of)

It's a good thing that self-care is talked about and emphasized more these days.  It's a really good thing!  We have more on our plates than ever before, and I would venture to say that the information age (access to all known information in existence through a device in your pocket) puts more on our minds than ever before, too.

As you probably know, this blog is dedicated to Photo & Story Treasures:  all things photo, memory, and story.  I started my little Heritage Makers consultant business back in 2005, and at the time I was just encouraging people to record their stories in this brand-new, high quality product.  It didn't take long for people to start using Heritage Makers books as digital scrapbooks, and I've been amazed at how much my little "don't let your babies grow up to be jpegs" motto has evolved to include so many other aspects of life.

I had no idea, for example, that I would learn so much in the ensuing years of how much preserving your photos and stories is related to happiness and well-being.  I had no idea that it was studied and shown to have a grounding effect, improve self-esteem, and even be therapeutic 

Preserving your photos and memories is much more powerful than we realize!

A few years ago, this inspired me to write my short (free) ebook, The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness.

And more recently, it inspired me to write

The Best Self-Care You've Never Thought Of

Click over there and read it right away!  

Because we can no longer think of preserving memories and photos as if  they don't matter, or that we're too busy, or that we'll do it some day.  It's self-care!  It's good for your heart and soul!  It's necessary now!  We spend a little time and money on manicures or a cute new pair of shoes, but the best time and money is spent on the best self-care there is.  

Be sure you can trust the company you use to preserve photos and memories!  The company should have a photo privacy policy (most don't, believe it or not--and here's why that matters), and it the books and other projects you create there should be heirloom-quality.  I recommend these companies.

Share this post on social media and tag someone amazing who could use a little higher-quality self-care!  Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 5, 2021

How to Put Videos in Photo-Storybooks and Digital Scrap Pages

Lately, I've been revisiting a cool trick I learned a few years ago for putting videos in printed pages such as photo-storybooks and digital scrap pages.  It's really fun, not very hard, and a pretty impressive addition to preserving photos and memories on pages.  

It's so cool that you should know about it, too.  

I just made a photo-storybook for my son and my niece who together went on a humanitarian service trip.  It was part hard work and part amazing play, so I wanted to save not only the pictures (like I always do) but the videos from the trip as well.  

To do this, you just need 3 things--but don't worry because I'll tell you how to get or use all of them if you don't already know.  You'll need:
  1. a YouTube account (free; already comes with a Gmail account--and I've got you covered on privacy issues)
  2. a QR code (You can make one in about 5 seconds with a free website.)
  3. an awesome, high-quality method for preserving photos and memories on pages (and I've got you covered here, too)
So let's get going and show you the goods!  This really is the coolest thing ever.  And I'll walk you right through, step by step.

STEP 1:  YouTube

All you need to do here is upload your videos to YouTube.  A YouTube channel is free, and if you've got a Gmail account, you can click the grid in the upper right next to your profile picture and then click the YouTube icon.  That's your YouTube channel, even if you've never used it before.

If you worry about random people being able to find and view your videos (which I do), just be sure to publish them as "unlisted."  The "unlisted" option means nobody can search and find your video (or find it by accident)--they have to actually have the link to it in order to have access to it.  Don't use the "private" setting (counterintuitive though it might be) because people have to be invited individually to see your video and it gets complicated.  "Unlisted" should do it.

Word to the wise on this--YouTube currently only lets you upload 10 videos per 24 hour period.  If you have a lot of little video clips (like my son did on this trip), you won't be able to do it all at once.  

STEP 2: QR Code

If you know nothing about making QR codes, then you're just where I was when I first started doing this a few years ago.  Luckily, it's both easy to do and free.  

If you're not familiar with QR codes, here are the basics.  QR stands for Quick Response, and it's a type of matrix barcode that can store a lot of information (like a website link).  QR codes are square and need to be read (scanned) with a QR code reader on your phone.  You'll need to download a QR code reader app on your phone.

You can try scanning this QR code to see how it works.  And you can like my Facebook page that way, too!

You can also scroll back up and scan the QR code in the picture I took of the photo-storybook page.  The video is less than a minute, but keep watching to see dolphins jumping out in the open ocean!

To make your own QR codes you need to find a QR code generator.  I only use free ones.  I think I've used all three of these in the past, and I'm sure there are others.
You'll need to make sure you can save your QR code as a JPG file.  (The top one listed does that, I know, but I haven't used the others in a while.)  When your QR code is a JPG file, your photo-storybook system or digital scrapbooking system just thinks it's a picture!  (If you use Heritage Makers, you can also use PNG files in addition to JPG files in your memory-keeping projects if you've got the Premier account.  Lately, I've loved using Forever for my digital scrapbooking, too--and I can even save my video there in my permanent digital storage.  If you haven't tried Forever before, open your new account right here and you'll get a $20 coupon toward an product!)  

STEP 3:  An Awesome, High-Quality Method for Preserving Photos and Memories

Quality is really important to me if I'm going to spend my limited time preserving my photos and memories.  Putting in the time, not to mention the money, is something I want to do only once!  I don't want my efforts to fall apart in a year or two because I went with a discount option.

I do preserve my photos, by the way, instead of just counting on them to be on my phone.  First, you never know what can happen to a phone, and phones aren't exactly heirlooms, either, so I don't count on the digital versions of my pictures being around forever.  Second, when you have the photos just by themselves, you have no details--no memories--to go with them.  

Memories fade so much faster than we think they will.  Photos without recorded memories are the 21st century version of a shoebox full of pictures.  If I'm going to really remember all the moments I take pictures of, I know I have to record the memories with the photos.

I highly recommend both Heritage Makers and Forever for high-quality memory-keeping and photo preservation.  Aside from these all-important perks, they're a little different, so check out both and see which you prefer.  You can see my comparison chart here, if that's helpful.  Again, these two are the highest quality out there while also maintaining your photo privacy and rights.

When you create your digital pages, you just treat the QR codes like a picture!  Put them onto your pages just like you would a picture.  This little video clip shows you what putting a picture on a page looks like in Heritage Makers.  If you use Forever's AutoPrint or Design & Print options, it's even simpler.  

And that's it!  You'll submit your digital book or scrapbook page for printing, and then when you and your loved ones look through your photo-storybook or digital scrap pages, you'll be able to just pull out your phone, scan the QR code, and see your videos, too!

How much fun is this idea?!  I hope you love doing this in your memory-keeping like I have in mine!

Share this post with someone you know who would love it, too.

Friday, October 1, 2021

How to Start Digital Scrapbooking

Feeling like there's got to be a better solution for photos than keeping them by the hundreds on your phone?

You're right.  There is.  

Digital scrapbooking is my favorite way to preserve photos and memories because it's fast, convenient, and cost-effective.  I recommend it to everyone I know (and everyone I don't), so if your photos need a home where they can be loved, you're in the right place.

It doesn't matter if you've ever scrapbooked before or not, and it doesn't matter how old you are or how busy you are or if you don't know what you think about the idea of digital scrapbooking.  

Before we get to the awesome details, let me just say that you should be sure you know what you're getting when you choose a digital scrapbooking company.  Quality matters!  And so does photo privacy.  It seems hard to believe that not all companies offer quality products for something as important as your pictures, and that some companies are willing to sell something as private as your pictures, but that's actually how it is these days.  I only recommend high-quality, photo-secure companies, and you can see my favorites here.

This article will walk you right through what you need to know.  We'll start off with the great news (the perks) of digital scrapbooking, then learn about it in three steps:  1- digital scrapbooking options (including important information about photo privacy when choosing your option), 2- getting ready (where to start) and photo organization, and 3- how to set aside time. 

Click on over to my new article,

Then share this post with someone who wants to put their photos into their hands, too!  No experience necessary.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Perfect Gifts with a Budget-Friendly Plan: Christmas in September

This post was updated in 2022.

You’ve probably heard of Christmas in July, but if you’ve never heard of Christmas in September, today’s your lucky day.  

Get ready for a mind-blowing, life-changing approach to completely annihilate the stress and expense of gift-giving in December while giving impressive and amazing gifts which I promise you will be the best gifts ever.

I’ll give you a month-by-month guide (use it as a checklist, if you like) along with memorable, personal, and unique gift options to choose from.  You’ll have everything completed by Thanksgiving, your expenses will be spread out, you won’t be scrambling for gift ideas, and you will have very happy recipients.  

Christmas in September is basically the best thing ever.

All these gifts are created digitally (sort of like or Photoshop) and then submitted for professional publishing.  You'll just need a (free) Forever account, which I'll give details on later.  You get a $20 coupon just for opening your account, too!  It's only good for 60 days, though, so I'm going to help you plan accordingly.  

If you'd like a video version of this post, I walk you through Christmas in September with a few more ideas here:

Something to keep in mind is that although print products are fantastic gifts and I'll show several of them here, we're using Forever products and services for this Christmas in September Plan, which means you could also gift digitization!  You can get old home movies digitized, old photos digitized, etc. with the Forever Box!

Find more details on the Forever Box here or email me at with your questions.  (The Forever Box is almost always on sale, too.)  It's a priceless gift!

All right!  It's time for the Christmas in September Plan!  It's unforgettable gifts with a budget-friendly plan, and as a bonus you don't have to go to the mall in December!


The first steps happen in September.  This gives you time to choose the gifts and budget for them.  These particular gifts will be personal (and delightful, I happen to know from experience), and I’ll include a lot of details here to help you make them that way, such as video tutorials.  The links will have more pictures, too.  This month, you’ll only need to set aside a portion of the cost.

In September, you’ll just need to do these 6 things: 

1.      First, learn about the three platforms for creating impressive, personalized, high-quality gifts here, and then we'll jump right into the Plan.


2. Make your recipient gift list:  Grandparents, parents, friends, siblings, spouse, children, neighbors, grandchildren, everyone.

3.      Explore personal and unique gift ideas that are also high-quality which can fit a variety of ages and interests (and price ranges for you).  Make a budget first if you like, then explore gift ideas and options here.  Don’t worry about not knowing yet how to actually get/create these items—that’s another step later.  This part is just having fun and picking gifts for loved ones.  Books are always meaningful, but calendars and ornaments are popular this time of year, and steel water bottles, mousepads, and wall decor are other great ideas.

4.      Make a price list of how much these sweet items cost, but keep in mind that by following this Christmas in September approach, you’ll hit some sales as well as have a chance to get some freebies.  Tally up the total number of dollars, but take into consideration that sales are 20-50% off.  This "save up over time" Christmas in September approach will save you an additional 5% as well, so include that in your tally.  

5.      Once you’ve determined how much your amazing gifts will cost, now it's time to learn about Forever Club.  It's free to join, and you're essentially just putting money into your Forever account a little at a time to save up for your upcoming purchase.  You can read about Forever Club here, or watch either one of the videos below.  Club Dollars don't expire, so it's a great way to save up during the fall for your Christmas purchase--and save 5%, too.

6.      You will need to order your chosen gifts at the end of November, so chances are, you'll want to join Forever Club near the end of September in order to use your $20 coupon within 60 days.  If you want Forever Storage or Artisan digital scrapbooking software, you can use the $20 there instead of later for your gifts.  It's up to you!  Join Forever Club at this link.


In October, you get to start creating!  Woo hoo! (Certainly, you can start on this earlier if you want).  This is the fun part.  If there aren’t specific videos for the items you want to gift—or if you just have questions—you can contact me here.  

In October, you’ll need to do these 2 things: 

1.      This one is easy!  If you joined Forever Club in September, let it auto-renew this month, putting the same number of Club Dollars in your account as you did last month.  (Or change it if you prefer--you can do that right in your account.)  If you didn't join in September, check your tally and see how many Club Dollars you'd like to save up by the end of November--you'll probably want to join Forever Club now.      

2.      Instead of going shopping for hours in November or December, you’ll use that time now to create your special gifts.  In October, you should make most (if not all) of the gifts you’ll be ordering.  Again, contact me if you have any questions!  If you're using AutoPrint or Design & Print to create your personal gifts, they are both fairly straightforward platforms that take only minutes to learn how to use.  If you're using Artisan, you have a lot more flexibility but there's a lot more to learn.  Either way, you can find some video tutorials about each here.


You have 3 things to do in November.

1.     If you’re on Forever Club, let it auto-renew this month so you keep accruing Club Dollars.  If you're not yet, definitely join this month so you can save an extra 5% when you place your order at the end of this month.  You'll need to be a current Forever Club member when you place the order to be able to get that 5% savings, so time things right as needed. 

2.      Check the current and upcoming sales ("Deals") at this link on November 1!  Sales are based on when you submit something for publishing.  You’ll get the sale price when you submit something for publishing during the specified day(s).  If you haven’t finished creating (digitally) some of your gift items, the Deals will help you determine what you need to finish first.  I post updated specials here, and I send them out in my monthly newsletter also.

cork-backed coasters; set of 4

3.    Last of all, place your order!  Place your order by Thanksgiving for delivery by Christmas.  If you're new to Forever and opened a new account here, you also got a $20 coupon, so don't forget to use it! All these gift ideas are professionally published and shipped to your door.  


I love being *done* with Christmas gifts before Thanksgiving, steering clear of malls and big box stores at that time of year, and spreading out my gift-giving budget over a few months.  

More than that, though, I love giving high-quality, unique, and personal gifts that are always loved.  I feel like Forever makeS me the best gift-giver in the family/neighborhood.  Christmas in September has so many perks, SO I hope you enjoy this plan as much as I do.

As a bonus way to enjoy December, you’re welcome to join the yearly online event I host called the Enjoy December Card Party.  It’s the most fun you’ll ever have getting Christmas greetings done.  It’s normally the first Friday of November, but you can find details (including date & times) at this link for the upcoming year.

We “meet” online and work individually to create our digital cards (or newsletters, or any number of other creative greetings), then submit them for publishing!  Again, you’ll get them back before Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy December.  You can see how fast it is to make impressive cards here:

And then you get to just enjoy December!  Sip hot chocolate in front of twinkling lights.  Give service to those in need.  Go to some parties.  You might even have enough energy now to host one!  

Share this post with someone who needs less stress, more time & money, and
impressive gifts in December! 
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share on Facebook.  

Friday, July 2, 2021

Why Your Photos Shouldn't Be on Your Phone

Since we take so many photos with our phones these days, a phone seems like a good home for photos.  Believe it or not, this deceiving thought can get us in trouble--but most of all it can deprive us of our photos and what they can really be and really do for us.  

There are five big reasons your photos don't belong on your phone, and I delve into each of them at this guest post over at OneStopForMom.  

Photos can be so much more when they're not on your phone and when they're connected to their stories (your memories).  They can contribute to emotional well-being (including self-esteem and a sense of purpose), increase gratitude, connect family members, and even increase your level of happiness!!  So find out more by clicking over to read 

and don't forget to share this article with someone who needs it as much as you and I do!  There are share buttons over at the left.

2022 UPDATE:  For triple-backed-up permanent photo storage that's guaranteed for your lifetime + 100 years, check out our new option at that link!


Friday, May 7, 2021

How Photos, Memories, and Stories Improve Emotional Well-Being

 If you've been around the blog a time or two (well, this one, anyway), you've certainly learned that photos, memories, and stories aren't just cute little extras that some people like to play with.  They are actually crucial parts of self-care and well-being, play an important part in stress relief and happiness, and have actually been shown in studies to be the best thing you can do for your kids.

If you'd like to know exactly how photos, memories, and stories improve emotional well-being, provide perspective for your life's events, and even help in healing from grief, you can spend several hours here at the blog reading.  And you're welcome to!  

Or, you can peek in at this presentation I was asked to give at a Photos & Memories Boot Camp a few weeks ago.  

Based on the comments I received afterwards, I think you're going to love what you learn here in only 27 minutes.  So sit back with a yummy drink and learn how photos, memories, and stories improve emotional well-being.  Then leave a comment about what you learned here that has encouraged you.

When you're ready to make this a reality in your life, click here to get started.  I'm here to help!

Friday, March 5, 2021

"Your photos matter. Your stories matter. When you preserve them, it has the power to change you."

If you're new here, let me introduce you to... me!  I'm the heart behind the blog, and I'm thrilled to share with you my recent interview with Voyage Denver so that you can get to know me a little.  

You'll see why your photos matter, why your stories matter, and why I'm so passionate about helping you preserve them.

Read the article here:

Meet Jennifer Wise - Storybooking & Digital Scrapbooking Consultant

And when you're ready to make your inspiration into action and get your photos off your phone and the memories out of your head, click here to get started.  I'm here to help you all along the way!

Friday, January 8, 2021

DIY Family Calendars Like No Others

For years and years, my father-in-law has put together a family calendar showcasing family photos from the previous year.  He has it printed up at Kinko's, and it has been fun for well over a decade now to hang that on our wall.

On my side of the family, my sister-in-law brought the same tradition from her family when she married my brother.  Her tradition is to highlight (via photos) each person in the family on the month of his/her birthday, which is so fun.  She, too, had it printed at Kinko's.  And then we had two family calendars hanging on our wall side-by-side.

About the time my sister went to working nights full-time as a nurse, I discovered an easy, digital way to make beautiful calendars!  I knew she was swamped and exhausted, and I had a little more time, so I asked her if she wanted me to do the calendar.  She was so relieved!  

The result was GORGEOUS.  I've been the calendar-maker of the family ever since.  She loves being on the receiving end now.

Plus, I have a go-to, always-loved Christmas gift now for my whole side of the family every year!  Win-win.

Then I had an amazing idea inspired by Family Search for my 2020 calendar.  I can't wait to show you!  

There are two different ways to make beautiful, personalized calendars!  Whether you're looking for quick & simple or fully flexible & creative, Forever has you covered.  And I've got videos to prove it.  šŸ˜Š


The quick & simple option uses the free Design & Print software at the Forever website.  The calendars are 12x18, and they come with a really neat feature!

Your calendar can double as a scrapbook page!  

It's true!  There's a perforation right above the calendar grid, and you can tear off the top bottom part, making the top part into a 12x12 print.  Frame it, or put it in a book as a scrap page.  How amazing is that?!?!

Your calendar comes together in no time with this option.  Get all the details at this video tutorial I made for you, where you can see exactly how to create your own Design & Print calendar:


I love the Design & Print option because it's fast and still personalized and beautiful.  However, my favorite way to make a calendar is Option 2.  It's still the same high-quality calendar, but there are two additional perks because I'm using Forever's Artisan digital scrapbooking software to create my calendar.  (Learn about Artisan here, but be sure you also click the "Deals" tab because it's almost always on sale.)
  1. Using Artisan means I have FULL FLEXBILITY with my calendar.  I can add more (or fewer) pictures, add in birthdays and special events in the calendar grid, create backgrounds (and frames and everything) of my choosing, etc.
  2. I have more size calendar options to choose from.  The 12x18 "Scrapbook Calendar" (above) is one option, but so is the 8x12 "Scrapbook Calendar," along with a 4x10 desktop calendar and an 11x8.5 calendar (my fave).
This little Desktop Calendar is 10x4.

The 11x8.5 calendar has a coil wire in the middle.

The 11x8.5 calendar, closed.

Before I get to the video tutorial for Option #2, here's what I did for 2020 that I'm so excited about:  I added ancestor birthdays and anniversaries (back 4 generations) on the calendar dates.  

My family LOVED this!  I think it is especially neat for us older ones to see parents and grandparents who have passed away.  It's also inspiring to see who else we came from--especially when we know their stories.

And so, when I made my 2021 calendar, I had to keep our sweet ancestors there.  Here are some shots of the calendar.  TA-DA!!

The large pictures at the top show pictures of those who have birthdays in that given month.  (We don't have any February birthdays, so I chose the new babies we added to our family in 2020.)

And then the small pictures on the actual dates show ancestor photos with birthdays and anniversaries.

Here's the video I made for you showing how to create a calendar using Artisan:

The video is a good overall snapshot of making Artisan calendars, but (as I mention in the video) I could not do as well as the professionals from Forever's pixels2pages in showing you how to master the Events List and Calendar Grid, so get 8 helpful, short videos right here at this link--so do not miss it!


Did you know some people make Perpetual Calendars?  

They don't assign Mondays & Thursdays (etc.) to the dates, but just list out birthdays and anniversaries (January 12:  Pam).  That way, they can keep the calendar every year.  I like updating the pictures every year, but I think a Perpetual Calendar would be super cool, too, especially for ancestors.

This is really one of the very best gifts I could give my family each year!  The addition of ancestor birthdays just makes these calendars that much more special.

These DIY Family Calendars  are truly like no others!  Follow the directions in the video and make your own, and you'll see what I mean.  Not to mention, you'll be the coolest gift-giver in the family!

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This blog post was updated in 2022.