Anniversary Photo Flipbook

Last summer, my in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and we wanted to make something fun and a little different for them. Here’s what we came up with…I think they liked it!  We certainly had a lot of fun making it!

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I’m sure you know the concept…as you hold the book in your left hand and flip through with you right, it looks (at least a little) like a movie.

We started by writing each of the letters we would need on 8-1/2” x 11” cardstock, then the hooligans decorated the letters.  Then I figured out which letters each kid needed to be photographed holding, to make a pattern.  We spelled out Happy 50th Anniversary…original, I know. Then we snapped the photos.

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I brightened and sharpened them a bit using Photoshop Elements, then created new images that were 5×7 white backgrounds. I put each letter photo onto the white background, against the right edge and leaving a couple of inches white on the left.

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I uploaded all the photos to Costco and printed them in 5×7 format.  We used a photo of all three hooligans for the cover.

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When everything was printed, I punched two holes and bound it with bakers’ twine. It really was quite cool!Flip-Page-ChaosServedDaily

We also included a 8×10 that I put all the images on, like a contact sheet, just for fun.

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These would be fun for any special occasion, or just to send a fun message to someone you love!

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Photos for the Grands

You know how it is…the grandparents have everything they could ever need, so for holidays we generally send either photos, food, or both. This year, we had seen gorgeous wildflowers when walking the dog, so we went to the woods across the road to take some photos.  0614 Dads Day 140614 Dads Day 10614 Dads Day 3

Have I mentioned how happy it makes me that my hooligans are finally old enough to be cooperative when I want some decent photos?  Not always, of course, but Saturday morning I plied them with pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit salad, then hustled everyone out the door while they were full and on a sugar high.0614 Dads Day 11

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Even the dog was semi-helpful about going where we wanted.0614 Dads Day 50614 Dads Day 7

They found lots of nature to stop and examine, too, which was entertaining. The middle one wanted to wear that long, stringy moss on his head for photos, and then he saw a wildflower that had an entire lifecycle on one stem, from bud to death. I suspect his sister was just feigning interest, but it was nice of her to listen.

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When we made it back home, I edited the photos a bit, to make them a little more polished-looking, then I uploaded them all to Costco and made 11×14 collages. They look great…my only complaint with Costco collages is that you can’t place the photos as you want them.  You just have to keep clicking “Shuffle photos” until an arrangement you like comes up.  The one I went with isn’t perfect, but I’d shuffled about 25 times and it was as close to perfect as it got!

I mailed them in tubes, since the grands have asked us not to send anymore frames…they use the ones they already have. Knowing that both papas have a sweet tooth, we poured saltwater taffy into the center of the tubes to fill them up. See…photos and little something sweet (as though pics of their grandkids weren’t sweet enough!).

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Prepping for Halloween Fun

I cannot believe it’s Halloween…and even more scary than that, it’s less than two months until Christmas!  Every year, the days seem to accelerate more and more as we approach the holidays, and I have to take time to appreciate the other seasons. Fall is my favorite season, so I ignore the impending Christmas rush and stress, and fill our days with autumnal fun.

I love Thanksgiving, but that’s what November is for…October is all about Halloween, leaves, and pumpkins!  Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite snapshots of our October…hope they bring a smile to your face!

Playing in (and occasionally raking) the leaves….

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Pumpkin Patch and the Corn Maze (we found Bigfoot!)

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Of course, we had to carve some pumpkins…

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And the hooligans dressed as saints for the All Saints Day Parade at church…

Halloween-Saints-ChaosServeAnd, of course, we made cookies! I like the jack o’lantern ones best.

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You may be forced to indulge me again tomorrow morning, when I post photos of our actual Halloween…if the kids will cooperate for pictures, that is!

However you celebrate, I hope it’s frighteningly fun! (And safe, don’t forget to be safe!)

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Shadow Words Photo Gift

First, let me say, GI Joe, stop reading now, assuming you’re actually reading my posts.  And my dad and father-in-law shouldn’t read it, either, but I’m pretty certain they don’t.

Here we go again…I saw this on Pinterest a while back, but, unfortunately, it was one of those pins that didn’t lead anywhere. So I puzzled it out all by myself. And I didn’t even get a headache or anything, it was so simple.

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I had some poster board that I cut in half, then roughly sketched the letters on each.  I used a combination of a box knife and scissors to cut out the words.

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Now the hard part…I had to find a sunny afternoon or morning, when the hooligans were with me but the hubs wasn’t, and a parking lot where I could take the photos.  It’s been rather gloomy, to say the least, here in Wisconsin.  I normally am a lover of cold, rainy weather, but even I have been a bit impatient for warmer weather this year.

Finally, Monday the sun peeped out from behind the clouds just as I picked the kids up from camp, so we used the YMCA parking lot as our photo shoot area. I’m sure the camp counselors thought I was insane, making my kids hold signs upside down while I photographed them.

Anyway, my cute assistant demonstrates below the proper way to hold the signs. Upside down and the message reading from left to right as you look at them. They may need to tilt the signs slightly, depending on the position of the sun.

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The sun was still shining when we arrived home thirty minutes later, so we tried it in the driveway, as well.Gravel-CHaosServedDaily

After downloading the photos from my camera to Photoshop Elements, I did some minimal editing (sharpened them a bit) and added the test using the Sketch Block font.  I also added a digital background paper, because the photo ration wasn’t right for 11×14 or 16×20. And it added more color and interest, I thought.

Although it’s not as clear as the asphalt, due to the texture of the gravel and the angle of the sun, I liked this one better for the hubs.  I think it’s more interesting and rustic, with their bare feet and the nature surrounding them…kind of like our life.  So I printed this one as a posterboard ($15 for a 16×20 at Costco).  I picked up a plain white frame at Walmart for $4. For the Papas, I printed an 11×14 enlargement ($3 each at Costco), because 1) I know they have frames already and B) I wanted to be able to roll them up to mail them.

Costco can print posterboards or enlargements in an hour or two, so it’s not too late to make these for the dads in your life (assuming you have a little sunshine!). My other option, had the sun not made an appearance, was to photograph the bottoms of their feet with a message written on them.  But, really?  Their feet have spent way too much time barefoot on the trampoline and running through the woods to be very endearing anymore.

So everyone should give thanks that the sun cooperated!

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Papa’s Birthday Book

The hubs and I were puzzling over what to give his dad for his birthday a few weeks ago.  You know how it is…they have everything they need, and buy what they want. Then my May Paper Pumpkin arrived in its cheerful red box from Stampin’ Up! And guess what was inside?  A kit to make a mini-scrapbook! Perfect!

It came with chipboard covers, designer paper pages, tons of fun embellishments, an exclusive stamp set, and lots more designer paper to add wherever I wanted. Oh, and rings to bind it.

I hurried off to Costco and printed some photos, then sat down at my craft table to create.  And, let me tell you, it was so much fun!  I spent about an hour assembling the book, but it could have come together in half an hour if I’d been pressed for time.

Here are a few pages:

The cover, using the Woohoo single stamp that’s available only until the end of July.

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The inside cover and first page.  I cut some solid color cardstock to 5”x5”, to match the book, and each hooligans drew a card on the front and back.  Each one’s card was followed by 4 pages of photos of that hooligan, then on to the next.

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The last page was a photo of all of us at the Museum of Science and Industry, with a birthday wish added.

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Then I just reversed the cover designer paper to cover the back, slipped the binder rings though the holes, and I was done!

Again, if you’re looking for a fun creative “escape” each month, I can’t recommend Paper Pumpkin highly enough.  Each month, the contents have been just what I needed to thank people, wish them a happy birthday, or even as a gift. I end up with an exclusive stamp set each month, along with a Stampin’ Spot ink pad.  I usually have embellishments leftover, as well, for other projects, not to mention the inspiration that I can reuse again and again.

I’m planning to make one of these for the hubs and my dad for Father’s Day, letting the kids again design some pages. For this project, it’s easy enough to cut a square of chipboard to serve as the cover (I save sheets of chipboard that are included as packaging when I buy paper or other supplies, then cut those to size).

Super fun, involves the whole family, and comes from the heart…like I said, it’s perfect! By the way, if you sign up for Paper Pumpkin by the 10th of the month, you’ll get that month’s Paper Pumpkin just a week or so later! And you can even try it for a month, if you’re not sure…so what are you waiting for? Go…now!

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Die Cut Photo Album

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Big Shot die cut machine?  It’s low-tech, but I really prefer it to my Silhouette, for most projects.  For me, it’s much easier to just cut a die manually than it is to design or download a digital die. Especially when my internet works intermittently or I have to stay off the computer because we’re having thunderstorms all day long. Not that life here in Wisconsin isn’t peachy keen most days!

Anyway, I came up with this simple project to give as a Mother’s Day gift.  It took mere minutes to put together, and is a fun, easy-to-mail little album.

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You’ll need just a few supplies:

  • Patterned paper
  • Cardstock for the pages
  • Chipboard for the covers (I use the back piece from a Designer Paper Set)
  • Photos
  • A piece of overhead transparency
  • A binder ring
  • Some ribbon to tie on the ring
  • A sentiment (I just created mine in Word and printed it on Blushing Bride cardstock)
  • A diecut machine and large shaped die (I used the Top Note Die)

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Now, if you don’t have a die-cut machine, you could just trace a pattern and cut each one out by hand.  That’s not as much fun, but definitely easier on your budget! I’m trying to actually use the tools I’ve invested in over the years and refrain from buying new, high tech ones, so I liked using the Big Shot. And, I made the whole album in less than 15 minutes, once I decided on which of my hoarded papers I could part with and use.

But let’s get on with the project.

Cut out the following:

1. From the patterned paper, chipboard, and transparency, cut 2 each for the front and back covers.

2. From your cardstock (I used Crumb Cake), cut as many as you want to have photos.  I only did six, for a total of 12 photos, front and back.

3. Cut each photo using the die. Attach to the cardstock diecuts to make the pages.

4. When finished, stack and punch a hole in one corner.  Use the binder ring to fasten it all together, and embellish with a few ribbons.

5. Add your sentiment to the front cover.

There you have it…a heartfelt and handcrafted gift, which you can customize for any occasion.

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Vacation Memory Flip Books

For Valentine’s Day this year, I made flip books for the hooligans with photos of our Florida trip.  I ordered them when photobooks were buy 1, get two free from Snapfish, and it couldn’t have been easier.

I chose a Mickey theme, since the majority of our time was spent at Disney, but then there were a few backgrounds that were less aggressively mouse-themed.  Those worked for our visits to Legoland and to see Winter the dolphin.

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The cover is textured cardstock with a cutout to show the first page…our adventure started as soon as we got off the plane and the kids found out there was a TRAIN to the terminal. It’s fabulous to be young!

I liked the idea of these books because the kids love looking through our family yearbooks so much.  These were fairly inexpensive, so if they choose to take them on the bus to show their friends, it’s okay if they get a little tattered. The books, not their friends.

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Project 365 and Project Life

So here I go, being ambitious for 2013!  I’ve decided to undertake two photography/scrapbooking projects this year, instead of my usual digiscrapping of our family memories.

The first, Project 365, you can read about here.  It’s really quite simple: Take a photo a day for 365 days and post them online, on your blog, or wherever suits your fancy.  I’m planning to post mine on this blog on a separate page (see that Project 365 tab up there?), once a week.  Doable, right?

When my favorite GI Joe was deployed, I did a 365 project, although I hadn’t heard that it was a whole movement back then.  I took a photo a day of our daily life, and every Sunday compiled them into a weekly 8×8 page with journaling.  Then I dropped a copy in his weekly CARE package for him to add to the album I sent with him. This had the added advantage that when it came time to compile a yearbook for the grandparents, all I had to do was upload my favorite pages and have the books printed.

I had been mulling over another photo-a-day project, and, on New Year’s Day, finished up editing and organizing photos for 2012.  I wrote a post last summer about how I organize my photos, so it’s less overwhelming when it comes time to scrapbook them. It’s not rocket science, but take a look back if you’re wondering where to even start.

Just for kicks, when I finished with December’s photos, I checked to see how many photos I kept for 2012…an astounding 2,306.  That means I probably took close to 15,000 photos, since I’m pretty ruthless with the delete button.  So really, a measly 365?  That’ll be a piece of cake…and remind me of that when I’m tired of taking photos and just want to skip a day, ‘kay?

So here are my first two days; as you’ll see, not every photo will be prize-winning…but they do reflect our real life, which is the goal.

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New Year’s Games:  Marathon of Ticket to Ride

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2Jan2013:  PB&J Bars

The other project I’m tackling is Becky Higgins’s Project Life.  It’s a way of scrapbooking designed to take the pressure off creating and just let yourself have fun.  There’s a digital version, or you can use Becky’s printed cards, which you just slip into her photo sleeves, along with your photos, and have a completed album.  To get started that way, all you need is a binder, a set of project cards, a big pack of photo sleeves, and a pen…which you can order here, on her site. Oh, and your photos, of course!

And, here’s something even better I just found…FREE Project Life downloads on Cathy Zielske’s blog.  You can try the templates and cards out and see if it’s even something you’d like to pursue.

I’ll post more about my Project Life as it evolves…bet you just can’t wait!  But perhaps it will provide some inspiration, at least.

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Climbing through the Fall

A more appropriate title would be “Scrambling,” I think.  One of our favorite discoveries here in Wisconsin provides hours of hooligan entertainment, and the hubs and I always enjoy the scramble, as well.

Ledge Park, in the Dodge County Parks system, is apparently a very well kept secret in these parts. We attended a wedding back in August and happened to sit next to an exceptionally nice couple from Mayville, which is the nearest town to the park.  When we mentioned how much we missed discovering a new hike every weekend in Washington, they suggested we check out The Ledges.  So we did…and it’s now our kids’ favorite destination when we’re looking for an outdoor adventure. But no one that I’ve mentioned it to has ever heard of it. If you live near me, you need to go!

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The park is relatively small, but has a nice campground with a pretty huge play structure, in addition to the hiking trails and, of course, the ledge itself.  The ledge, a rock formation that divides the upper and lower parts of the park, is filled with interesting rock formations that are perfect for even our little ones to climb and explore.

The park is on the edge of Horicon Marsh, which is apparently quite famous for water fowl. I’m sure you can understand that our noise level is so high as we travel, we rarely see wildlife…and we avoid areas where others are trying to enjoy the serenity of nature.

In addition to this little travelogue, I am thrilled with this collage of our photos. If you haven’t tried making a collage with PicMonkey, you’ll be surprised at how simple it is!  It took mere minutes, and the result (as seen above) is high enough quality to insert directly into a blog post.

I often see these collages on various blogs and thought there must be a simple way to make them. I Googled it, and now you don’t have to…just try it out! You only download your finished collage, no application, and there’s no registration involved.

This might (but no promises) be the last fall foliage photos I force you to endure…the winds have been blowing every leaf they possibly can off the trees, so our brilliant colors are but a memory.  What luck that I took so very many photos this fall!

Scrapping Confession

I’m just going to come clean…I am woefully behind in my scrapbooking!  I just never got back into the groove when we moved last summer, so other than creating two pages a month for the books we give grandparents for Christmas, I’ve done very little.  I mean, as in maybe half a dozen other pages. To put it in context, I usually make between 125 and 150 pages a year.

My biggest summer resolution was to catch up on scrapbooking.  I’m not there yet, but I’ve made a sizable dent in it.  As I scrap, I’m also organizing my photos, deleting duplicates and only keeping those with meaning. I save about 5,000 photos a year (imagine how many I take, since I’m the queen of deleting while they’re still on the memory card in the camera).  As I’ve been culling this summer, I find I really only want to keep about 1,500 of those each year.  I know, it’s still a huge number.

I  was completely overwhelmed as to how to go about this organization.  Once upon a time (meaning when I had only one hooligan), each quarter I printed, backed up on CD, and backed up on an external hard drive all my favorites. That fell by the wayside about, oh, five years ago. You can see why I wake up at night in a cold sweat, worrying about this. You can’t?  Oh,well, so I’m a little compulsive.

I came up with a catch-up schedule that’s working really well.  One week I organize and print my favorites from a quarter, ruthlessly deleting all those so-so and redundant photos. The following week, I digitally scrap the photos from that quarter. I just made a little note on my calendar of what quarter is what week (I’m working backward in time) and it’s going pretty quickly.  The organization and cleaning up takes about an hour, then the scrapping takes about 5 or 6 the following week. I try to do a month a night(after the hooligans are in bed, of course) on the the weeks I’m scrapping.

The renaming system I decided on works really well, too. In my “Pictures” file on my computer, the files are automatically created by date as I download photos.  I’m consolidating and renaming all those daily folders into one monthly one that contains 4 or 5 subfolders.  For example, for June, 2012:

Folder Name is 0612

The subfolders in that file are:
Family
Crafts
Food
Stampin’ Up

The photos in each subfolder have names like “0612 MKE Zoo(1)” or “0612 Raspberry Limeade”.”

That way, I’m not looking for a certain photo and they’re all named DSC002010 or something.

I know, it sounds tedious, but I’m enjoying looking back and remembering what we were doing when. I’ve even been inspired to make some cool scrap pages.  These are some of my favorites, of a couple of days we spent on a Lake Michigan beach last summer.

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All this photo work has reminded me of why I love digital scrapbooking, and it’s given me new inspiration to save my family’s memories in a way that’s creative and rewarding to me.

I print a large number at Costco for only 9 cents a photo.  I take mine in on CD (because my internet is only a wireless hot spot and works too poorly to upload them all) and it only takes about an hour before I can pick them…and I can easily waste an hour at Costco! I usually print two quarters at once, to qualify for the discounted price.

If you’re like me and feeling overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of photos you have stuck on your computer, just start small.  Organize this month’s photos.  Then last, and the last, and so on. You can DO it!