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.  

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

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 with a drag-and-drop system (sort of like or Photoshop) and then submitted for professional publishing by a company called Heritage Makers.  A basic Heritage Makers account is free (with an optional upgrade), the software is free to use, and all the "cute" (the backgrounds, bows, flowers, etc.) are also free to use.  You just need an internet connection and don't have to download anything to your computer.   You can use a wide variety of fully-editable templates, or you can create from scratch.  It's fantastic.

If you've never made anything with Heritage Makers before, don't worry--I’ve got lots of video tutorials walking you through the process.

So let's jump right into the plan.  


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.

DIY conversation cards made from a playing card deck from Heritage Makers

In September, you’ll just need to do these 4 things: 

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

DIY calendar from Heritage Makers

2.      Explore these personal and unique gift ideas, listed below, which can fit a variety of ages and interests (and price ranges for you).  Make a budget first if you like.  Click the links to get the prices and details.  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.  Keep in mind, too, that these are just items I’ve made before—if you have another idea, you can switch it up!

·       personalized playing card decks (scroll down to idea #2 – I don’t have a lot of pictures of these because I’ve given so many away!)

·      personalized board books for kids (These are amazing!)

·      Quick Cakes recipe cards from a playing card deck (great as neighbor/friend gifts)—I gave these with a box cake mix, and my girlfriends loved them!

·       personalized family calendars (step-by-step tutorial video also at that link)

·      personalized books for teenagers and grown-ups such as “10 reasons I love you” or favorite memories together (video tutorial at this link)

·      dinner conversation starter cards (video tutorial for playing cards here)

·      personalized chocolate wraps, with a video tutorial included (really simple and inexpensive!)

·      personalized cork-backed coasters (set of 4; scroll down to idea #2)

·      Chocolate Countdown to Christmas made from labels (fun for kids)

·      tiny tri-fold Nativity Christmas décor (great as neighbor/friend gifts)

·      recipe books or recipe cards (great for sharing family favorites)

Quick Cakes recipe cards made from a DIY playing card deck from Heritage Makers

3.      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.  (I’ll detail this in a minute, but here’s the basic rundown:  Although holiday sales vary each year, almost every product is 15% off when published in November.  Plus, you can get $30 free if you’re in the free-to-join Club HM program from September-November, and if you upgrade to a Preferred Account, you save an additional 10%.  More under #4.)  Tally up the total number of dollars.  (If the all the links I listed don’t mention prices, you can check prices at by clicking “products” at the upper right.  You’ll see product specs and prices.

Board Book from Heritage Makers

4.      Once you’ve determined how much your amazing gifts will cost, I suggest (if they total at least $50), you join Club HM.  It’s free to join.  It’s a way of pre-paying for your items, and as a bonus you get $10 in free publishing each month that you’re on it.  If you have enough gifts to publish that you’ll be spending $150 or more, you can join Club HM in September (paying $50 for $60 worth of products), stay on it in October, stay on it in November, and quit it before December (if you want) and get $30 worth of your gifts for free.  (If your total gifts are around $100, I suggest waiting to join until October, then staying on for November so you have the Premier perks while you’re creating these items digitally.)

examples of chocolate wraps made from Heritage Makers address labels

I know I’ve used a lot of unfamiliar terminology here, so you’ll definitely want to visit this link where you’ll find ALL the details about opening a Heritage Makers account and about Club HM (which I LOVE for gift-giving!)  Joining Club HM is completely optional—you can make any of these sweet and beautiful gifts without it—but since it’s free and has so many perks, it just makes sense to me to join.  I love the freebies and the free Premier access.  (You can see what I’m talking about at that link.)  That link also has some information about upgrading your account to Preferred Customer, which is entirely optional as well.  It’s $19.99 and gives you an extra 10% off for everything you order for an entire year.  You’ll have to do the math, based on what your total price is going to be for these sweet gifts, to see if the Preferred upgrade makes sense or not.  Again, check out that link above for details.

personalized chocolates using address labels from Heritage Makers


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.  I have been known to hire out to make projects for people, too, so if that’s your preferred option, let me know.  I’m happy to do it if I have time (I’m in grad school right now), and I’m pretty fast since I’ve been creating gifts and photo-storybooks and digital scrap pages etc.) with Heritage Makers since 2005.

Chocolate Countdown to Christmas using address labels from Heritage Makers

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

1.      This one is easy!  If you’re on Club HM, let it auto-renew this month, putting $60 worth of publishing credit in your account for $50.  That publishing credit (called Publishing Points) doesn’t expire for a full two years, so stocking up like this is brilliant.  If you joined in September, you’ll have $120 worth of Publishing Points (so $20 of it free) this month, waiting to be used when you’re ready. If you didn’t need enough Publishing Points to warrant joining Club HM in September, join now.  Again, this is optional but has the benefit of giving you a few freebies.

7x5 hardbound book from Heritage Makers

2.      Instead of going shopping for hours in November or December, you’ll use that time now to create your special gifts, following the instructions in the links listed under September.  In October, you should make most (if not all) of the gifts you’ll be ordering.  Again, contact me if you have any questions!

tiny tri-fold nativity made from DIY playing cards from Heritage Makers


You have 3 things to do in November.

1.     If you’re on Club HM, let it auto-renew this month, putting $60 worth of publishing credit in your account for $50.  If you joined in September, you’ll have $180 worth of Publishing Points (so $30 of it free) by now.  If you have extra Publishing Points, you can save them for next year.  Or, if you didn’t join Club HM, just pay for your items at checkout instead of using Publishing Points.

6x6 wirebound book from Heritage Makers

2.      Check the sales (“Publishing Specials) November 1!  Sales depend on WHEN you submit something for publishing.  Normally, something different is on sale every week of November.  You’ll save 15% when you submit something for publishing during the specified week.  If you haven’t finished creating (digitally) some of your gift items, the Publishing Specials 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.

coasters from Heritage Makers (cork-backed; set of 4)

3.    Last of all, place your order!  (You have to close out the project before you can order it, so I walk you through everything right here if you need directions.)  Place your order by Thanksgiving for delivery by Christmas.  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 Heritage Makers makes me the best gift-giver in the family/neighborhood.  Christmas in September has so many perks, and I hope you enjoy this plan as much as I do.

DIY postcards from Heritage Makers

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 only $5 (or free if you bring a friend), and 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.  

The annual online Card Party is held at the beginning of November.

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.  Be sure to check out (at the link above) the creative ideas (personalized postcards, anyone?) and bargain options as well as the tutorial video I made showing how exactly you create Christmas greetings online with Heritage Makers. 

DIY traditional greeting card from Heritage Makers

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! 
Pin this image to Pinterest, or use the buttons at the left to Tweet, email, or
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.


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, Heritage Makers added calendars to their product line.  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!  And I gave Heritage Makers calendars a try.  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 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!  But first let me tell you my favorite thing about making calendars with Heritage Makers.

The thing I love the most about Heritage Makers calendars--aside from the quality--is that there are so many possibilities!  There are 5 sizes to choose from, including one that doubles as a scrap page for the next year.  

The largest calendar is 11x16.

This Now & Later Calendar comes in 12x18 or 8x12,
and the top tears off to save as a scrapbook page!

No matter which size I choose, I can make it exactly what I want it to be--no template-caused restrictions (even when I choose to use one) and so much gorgeous digital art ("clip art") available right in the program for me to use at no cost!

This little Desktop Calendar is 10x4.

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

The 11x8.5 calendar, closed.

Here's what I did for 2020:  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.

This Dia De Los Muertos digital art was new this year and I just HAD to try 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 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.

Wanna make your own?  I've got you covered!  I made this video to walk you through the steps.  

Keep in mind that there are 5 different styles of calendars.  I'll just show one, but it's basically the same idea for the other types.

These DIY Family Calendars from Heritage Makers 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!

Save and share!  Pin images to Pinterest or share on social media using the buttons at the left. 
You can subscribe to this blog by email and also to the YouTube channel so you never miss
more awesome, free tips & tutorials.