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.

When I was a young mom, self-care was the last thing on my mind, and the last thing I thought I could fit into my life.  Now that I’m a mom of more self-sufficient kids, I understand the importance of self-care, but I also realize that back then I was actually doing one of the best methods of self-care there is without even realizing it!

I definitely want to share this awesome self-care method with you, but first let’s look at self-care a little more. 

What Self-Care Is and Is Not

Moira Lawler from Everyday Health states it well:  “Let’s clear up one common misconception from the get-go: Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. Self-care means taking care of yourself so that you can be healthy, you can be well, you can do your job, you can help and care for others, and you can do all the things you need to and want to accomplish in a day.”

I feel that phrase bears repeating for some of us:  Self-care is not synonymous with self-indulgence or being selfish. 

Self-care includes things like getting enough sleep and eating good food that fuels your body, but it’s a lot more than that, too.  For an introvert like me, self-care is spending time alone with myself or spending time with cherished friends or family.  For an extrovert, self-care might look like a night out on the town with friends or attending/throwing a party.

So think more about what self-care looks like for you than what it looks like for someone else.

The Benefits

Lawler’s article refers to several studies which show that consistent self-care leads to many broad benefits, such as better health—both physical and mental—including reduced stress, development of coping skills, ability to combat burnout, improved immune system, increased productivity, and higher self-esteem.

Jane Stark at Botanica Health lists five wonderful benefits of self-care: slowing down makes you more productive; self-care boosts your immune system, improves your self-compassion, helps you find out who you really are, and empowers you to give more to others (not less).  

How to Make the Time for Self-Care

While “manicure” and “read a book” often come up as self-care suggestions, it can be difficult for young moms and other busy women to find the time for things like this.  The good news is that self-care is whatever you want it to be.  It can take as little or as much time as you want it to.  I have a friend whose self-care practice includes buying herself fresh flowers once a week to keep on her bedside table. 

So, before I share my best self-care suggestion, I want to share with you a few ideas for making time—and even thinking about time differently.  These are some of my favorite suggestions!

The Best Self-Care You’ve Never Thought Of

Now that we’ve got all the business out of the way, let’s look at the best self-care method you’ve never even thought of.  I love it because it involves something you already have (and it’s something you already love, too).  I’ve called this best self-care method “the best kind of retail therapy,” and it’s definitely true.  (In fact, you can jump over to that article to see for yourself.)

You may be completely surprised that the best method of self-care you’ve probably never even thought of is:  your own pictures.

I don’t mean the pictures that are in a big jumble on your phone that you can’t find or keep track of, I mean pictures that you take time to give meaning to, like this:

Pictures are much more powerful than we give them credit for!  Remember that list of benefits of self-care?  It turns out, taking time to sit down and preserve your pictures does many of the same things:

  • creates connections
  • raises self-esteem
  • increases a sense of belonging
  • has a grounding, centering effect
  • reduces stress
  • improves memory
  • creates perspective and power
  • contributes to healing from grief
  • increases happiness
  • increases relaxation
  • and, my personal favorite:  shown in studies to make you feel happier than chocolate! 


(There are many references and sources from which I compiled that list of benefits—most of them can be found at this link.)

What I love most about preserving my photos and memories as self-care is that it is not only so good for me, but good for my family, too, since they get to enjoy the by-product of my self-care for years and years to come.

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find several affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

My Go-To Self Care

When my kiddos were little, my “me-time” was getting together with a friend to work on scrapbooks while our kids played.  It entailed hauling little carts of pictures and scrapbooking material, but we’d do it for several hours a few days in a row, so we banged out page after page, got some “Mommy Time,” and had play dates at the same time.  It was perfect.

I didn’t realize until years later that it was self-care. 

In fact, it inspired me to write my first ebook, The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness (which you can read free at that link).  It’s about a 40-minute read—and perfect for “me time.” 

Nowadays, those kiddos have grown and my friend and I live in different states. I do my photo-storybooking (a.k.a. scrapbooking) mostly on my own using just my laptop and a digital scrapbooking and professional publishing company I’m completely in love with.  And sometimes I Zoom with my friend while I’m working!

Now What?

1.     Consider what will benefit you the most in terms of self-care.

2.     Consider what you can do to make time for it.  (Although we certainly benefit from slowing down and having non-kid time, remember that I used “me time” and “play dates” and “work on scrapbooks” in combination!  There are many options for making time.)

3.     Prioritize.  Be your own best friend on this and don’t let yourself down.

Involve your pictures.  It’s the best method of self-care you’ll ever think of.

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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) OR a Forever Video Streaming plan
  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 or Forever Video Streaming

All you need to do here is upload your videos to a place where you can watch your videos online.  It's easy, and I'll tell you about 2 options.  I haven't tried Vimeo, but that may be a good (free) alternative to YouTube.

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.  

Forever Video Streaming:  For a truly private home for your videos, devoid of ads and other distracting annoyances, choose Forever Video Streaming.  It's basically like having your own private YouTube channel that you OWN!  This service is offered in a monthly subscription, or for the best price, you can pay for a whole year.  (Note that all Forever accounts allow you to save videos!  To be able to use a QR code like we're doing here and have it lead to a playable video, though, you need Forever Video Streaming.  Otherwise, it's just a downloadable link, not a playable video.) 

(If you haven't tried Forever before, open your new account right here and you'll get a $20 coupon toward any product!)

One last word to the wise--You do get what you pay for.  Because YouTube is free, there's always a possibility that they will change their terms of service or something will happen where you won't have access to your videos there.  Forever Video Streaming is different because you're paying for the rights to that service.  It's almost like you own it.  And Forever is a public-benefit company:

Now you're ready for the fun part!  Let's learn how to make a QR code for your video!

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find several affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

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 (if your videos are on YouTube) you need to find a QR code generator.  I only use free ones.  I think I've used all four of these in the past, and I'm sure there are others.
Whatever you choose, you'll need to make sure you can save your QR code as a JPG or PNG file.  When your QR code is a JPG or PNG file, your photo-storybook system or digital scrapbooking system just thinks it's a picture!  

You get to skip this step if you're using Forever Video Streaming, your video will already have a QR code attached to it--the code will lead right to the video saved in your private Forever account!

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 Forever for high-quality memory-keeping and photo preservation.  

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.  

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!

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Rein in Your Photos, Videos and Memories: Photo Rodeo

Have you heard of a Scrapbooking Crop?  (Yes, paper scrapbooking has its own lingo.)  A crop got its idea from an old-fashioned "quilting bee" where ladies come together to socialize and make a quilt.

A Scrapbooking Crop is similar.  People come together to work on scrapbooks, sometimes for entire weekends, socializing and sometimes sharing materials.  But always sharing ideas and excitement.

Years ago when I started digital scrapbooking (memory-keeping in digital photo books and pages), I started hosting Digi-Crops.  But today my Digi-Crops are getting a remodel!  Today I am introducing you to Photo Rodeo: Rein in Your Photos.

My two favorite things about Photo Rodeo are:

  1. It's online (over Zoom) so anyone from anywhere can attend.
  2. It's time to do whatever your memories need.  It's not just about putting photos in pages (although that's definitely one possibility).  Reining in your photos might mean they need to be organized or uploaded or culled.  And, in reality, Photo Rodeo isn't just about photos.  If you need to gather old family videos on VHS tapes for digitizing with the Forever Box, do that!  
So, Photo Rodeo is time for you to set aside and spend with your photos/videos and memories with friends.  It's casual and fun.  (And free!)

It's great to celebrate our wins together, and I love to see scrapbook pages people are working on (Zoom is so nice for screen sharing!).  As you'll see in the agenda below, there's time for both socializing and some quiet time to work.  

Photo Rodeos will be held once a quarter:  spring, summer, fall, and winter.  Some will be daytime, some evening, just to mix up the time and hopefully fit your availability now and again.  You can always find the current Photo Rodeo Zoom link and the passcode to join at this link.

If you're new to memory-keeping and/or to Photo Rodeo, here are all the details you'll want to know.


The best memory-keeping tool I've ever seen since working as a memory-keeping consultant since 2005 is called Forever.  You'll want a (free) Forever account to get started.  Open it at that link.   

It's smart not to trust your memories to just anyone, so you can learn more about Forever here.  Forever, as you might guess, is all about longevity.  Your photos and videos and photo-memory books are guaranteed to be there for your lifetime plus 100 years with full privacy, no data mining, no advertising, etc.  Basically, if you'd want it for your memories, you can find it at Forever.  That's what I've found for myself.

There's always a sale happening, too.  You can find information on 3 ways to get the best prices here.

One last thing if you're new to Forever, before I get to the Photo Rodeo details:  There's so much you can do with Forever, from making photo-memory books with free and easy software to fully creative digital scrapbooking!  See all the possibilities here so you can choose whatever fits your available time, interests, and needs.

All right!  Let's move on to everything you could do at Photo Rodeo, with plenty of tutorial videos to help you get there.  I suggest watching ahead of time so you're ready to hit the ground running at Photo Rodeo.

Photo Rodeo: Rein in Your Photos (& Videos) is a wonderful opportunity to work together with other memory-keepers, ask your Forever Ambassador (me!) questions, and share your wins, no matter how big or small.  We sprinkle in some quiet work time as well to lessen distractions and help you focus on things that may need your attention.


I made you this tutorial video to show you exactly how to do it.  It's so easy, and it makes finding and sharing your photos super easy, too.

This is a great feature of preserving your photos in Forever Storage, too--you can edit them!!  

You can also tag them and add descriptions.  Tagging helps you find photos faster, and descriptions are the memories and details associated with the descriptions.

All these are great options for taking care of your photos and memories at Photo Rodeo.


One thing I absolutely love about preserving photos and memories in pages with Forever is options!!  Whichever you prefer, your books (or individual scrap pages) will be printed using inks, papers, and bindings that are THE highest quality in the industry.  

If you're looking for quick, simple memory-keeping, you'll love Design & Print.  It's free, web-based software using pre-designed (free) templates.  You can choose each page design in your book separately, too!  The software is very intuitive and I always tell people the learning curve is practically a straight line.  See what I mean in this little 5-minute video:

Or, if you prefer creative, flexible digital scrapbooking where you can play with fonts, put any text or photos anywhere you want on a page, you'll love Artisan.  It's a computer program that you purchase and download like any other program, and it's designed for a PC.  Mac users can use a partitioning program to use Artisan.  You can try the 30-day free trial if you like!

Learn more about the computer specifications required for Artisan here, and then see a little overview here in this 14-minute video:


I'm sure you're like me--not all your memories are in photos.  Some of them are in video, old scrapbooks that are falling apart, slides, etc.  One fantastic way to spend your Photo Rodeo time is to pack a Forever Box!

The price of a Forever Box includes 3-way shipping and the cost of digitizing a certain number of items.  You can add more to fill the box, if you like, for an additional per-item cost.

Here's how it works--how to pack a Forever Box, what can be digitized, etc.  

Just be sure to order your Forever Box here before the next Photo Rodeo.


There are a lot of options for using your photos for gifts, too!  Here's just one example:


It's not just you.  You're not the only one whose photos/videos need some reining in.  Friends are welcome at Photo Rodeo.

You're not the only one looking for TIME for memory-keeping, and Photo Rodeo is exactly that:  time.

As a fantastic bonus when you bring a friend who is new to Forever, you can share your Referral Link with them (where they will open their new Forever account), and you'll get a $20 coupon as thanks!  Here's a short video about how to use your Referral Link.


I hope you'll join me at the next Photo Rodeo!  I'm there to help with any questions anyone has, too!  I bring my own "project" or plan for what I want to do at Photo Rodeo, but it's a backup.  I like to prioritize answering questions if needed first.

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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.

Did you know that scrapbooks are older than photography itself?  Families often kept scraps and mementos in books for safekeeping, and the first “scrapbooks” were often the family Bible.  As early as the mid-1400s, people recorded births and deaths in the front covers of their Bibles, and according to “The Fascinating History of Scrapbooking,” publishers in the 1800s started including extra pages in the fronts of Bibles for this very purpose.  This made family Bibles into heirlooms because they preserved and housed the history of a family.

If you’re old enough that the term “scrapbooking” seems like a burdensome, time-consuming chore, I have some great news.

If you’re young enough that “scrapbooking” is old-fashioned and outdated, I have some great news.

The Great News

Whether you’re a former scrapbooker or a never-scrapbooker, this is the great news for you:

Digital scrapbooking is easier, more efficient, and often less expensive than traditional scrapbooking.  And it’s 1,000 times more meaningful than keeping your photos on your phone or computer.

If you’ve never done any sort of scrapbooking before (maybe you’re a young-un who lives in a digital world and doesn’t see a need), keep in mind the heirloom qualities of the first “scrapbooks,” where families would keep their own history, in essence, and pass it down to a new generation to help them know who they are and where they come from.  Preserving pictures in hand-held pages today serves exactly the same purpose.  As you know, phones aren’t exactly heirlooms.  (Check out these five reasons your photos don’t belong on your phone!)


If you are a traditional scrapbooker looking to make the switch, I highly recommend the article I wrote based on a class I taught on this subject, “How to Transition from Paper to Digital Scrapbooking.”  I answer 5 common questions about switching to digital, including what digital offers that paper doesn’t and what to do if you already have scrapbooking supplies you don’t want to waste.  And then, of course, I show examples of digital scrapbooking right in front of your eyes via video.  Those who attended live LOVED it!

NOTE:  I am a Forever affiliate (a decision I made because I love it so much), so you will find several affiliate links in this post, from which I earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

STEP 1:  Choose from Digital Scrapbooking Options

In over 15 years as a digital scrapbooker, I have become acquainted with several digital photobook and digital scrapbooking options.  There are a lot of variables in publishing companies.  The two big things to look for are quality and longevity.  Your pages have to be top-quality, otherwise all the work (and money) you're putting into them will have to be done all over again in 10 or 20 years (sometimes less).  You also want digital backups of your books or pages to be around for a while.  Some companies are fine deleting your projects and your photos after a while (Walmart and Shutterfly, to name two). 

Here’s my choice for the best digital scrapbooking available.  There are actually three options here, so there's something for everyone.

After quality and longevity, I think the best digital scrapbooking advice I can give is to choose something you will love.  If you love doing it, you're much more likely to do it.

So if Design & Print's software and free, easy templates look like your style, DO THAT.

If you like the creativity and flexibility of pages in Artisan look amazing, DO THAT.

Here's a little more about Artisan if that looks like your digital scrapbooking preference.  It's definitely mine!

There is so much that you can do with Artisan software that I have created two additional resources to help!

  1. Artisan Cheat Sheet - I put this together when I first started using Artisan to help me remember how to do something I just learned.  I update it periodically, so I suggest you bookmark it!
  2. Artisan Quick Tips with Jennifer - This is basically the video version of the Artisan Cheat Sheet, which is nice, I think so you can see how 
There's also an online digital scrapbooking group for Artisan users!  They have TONS of videos and fun resources (including blueprints, which are like templates) for free, too.  It's called Pixels2Pages and has a monthly or yearly membership fee.  The ladies who run it are called Pixies, which is kind of adorable, and you can learn more about the Pixels2Pages online scrapbooking group here.

Note:  Artisan runs on a PC, but MAC users can use it with a partitioning program.

a screenshot of me creating my digital scrapbook using Artisan

Please also consider photo privacy when choosing a digital scrapbooking option.  The company you use should not reserve rights to our photos to sell your data or photos.  I didn't think that was a thing until I did a little research and wrote this article which will most likely blow your mind:  What You’re Really Signing Up For with Digital Photo Storage.  So, please:  know what you’re signing up for when you choose a publishing (or photo storage) company!

All the options you see recommended here at Photo and Story Treasures will always meet the highest quality, longevity, and privacy standards!  It matters. 

STEP 2:  Get Ready – Photo Organization

Most people I know stop right here.  The idea of photo organization is so overwhelming (and understandably so) that the idea of leaving your pictures to die on your phone sounds preferable to creating a family heirloom book with photo and story treasures inside.

But you’re better than that!  You can do this!

I first recommend that you choose your topic.  Do you want to make a photo-storybook about your summer adventures, baby’s first year, the Hawaii trip, or a family yearbook of 2017 or 2020 photos?  Just focus on one thing, not all the pictures you own.  Some people like to start with the most recent (pictures from this summer), but some people like to start at the beginning (the wedding, baby’s first year, or wherever you left off).  Go with what sounds easiest and most doable to you.   

Next, organize and choose photos from just that topic. You may have a lot more photos than that.  That’s ok.  They’ll wait.  Do one thing first, start to finish, and the momentum will propel you forward.  (Because it’s fun, super exciting, and so rewarding.)

I’ve created several resources to help with photo organization.  Find many of them here, including video tutorials.

STEP 3:  Make an Appointment with Yourself

Just like going to the grocery store or the dentist or the gym, nothing happens without making time for it.  So make a digital scrapbooking appointment with yourself and then be a friend (to yourself) and keep it. 

Alternatively, you may want to recruit a friend you can work with.  All you need for digital scrapbooking is a laptop, so getting together is pretty easy.  I used to do this all the time—we’d take turns at each other’s houses and our kids would play together.  Or you can always do Girls Night at any local restaurant or shop with good wifi.  Or you can even get together with friends long-distance thanks to Zoom and such.

And you are invited to do your digital scrapbooking with me!!  I host an online digital scrapbooking work time (sometimes daytime, sometimes evenings) once every season.  It’s free for anyone using my fave, Forever, and is lots of fun!  You can find details of the next event and a link to join it right here—just scroll down until you find “Photo Rodeo – Rein in Your Photos.”

I have one last idea for you to help you make sure your good intentions get done.  Have you ever thought about working with your kids/grandkids to put together your photo and story treasures?  Based on some experiences I’ve heard from people who do it, I wrote Preserving Your Pictures as a Family Tradition.  If you like the idea, read that article and see what suggestions are helpful.

STEP 4:  Just Do It  ~  Enjoy!

Now’s the fun part.  Just do it.  Take those precious photos and preserve them as family heirlooms that tell your story.  It will mean the world to your family, plus it’s so good for your heart and soul!

I love what happens when you preserve your photos and tell their stories—both for the person doing it and the person receiving it—so if you need help or have questions, let me help you on the road.

Create yourown heirloom-quality photo-storybooks by following the steps here.

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