Archive for August, 2010
Monday, August 30th, 2010
Here’s a little assignment for you. It’s an easy one, trust me.
Set your camera down.
Literally — set your camera on the table. On the kitchen counter. On the bathroom counter. On your nightstand or dresser. On your desk at work. Where you eat. Where you create. Where the homework happens. Where life happens. Set your camera down and take a picture from that angle. Try all of the mentioned surfaces or choose just one. That’s up to however you feel inspired.
Suggestion: Resist the urge to tidy up. Just take the picture as your surface looks right now. That way the story that you’re capturing is more genuine, more truthful, more real.
I took this at (on) our kitchen table.
I see a couple pair of kid scissors and papers from the current projects. I see box top sheets that the kids are filling up for school. I see our yellow lazy susan that is the best addition ever to our table. I see the pen caddy that we’ve had for years and it still tools for creativity. I see a small glimpse of some yellow pears from this past weekend’s Fall decorating. I see way back into our family room niches that still need some Fall decorating. I see the pair of topiaries that I re-potted this summer. Such happy little pots.
History: When we were visiting my parents in Finland back in June I took this picture because it was sooo-my-mom to see all of these knick-knacks on their table. I didn’t move a thing. I didn’t tell her what I was doing. I just set the camera down and took the picture. I love what I see and how it tells of my mom’s personality, of my parents’ experience there, and our own memories being there.
So are you gonna do it? Are you going to set your camera down & capture a story? (Makes for a terrific POTD, by the way.) If you’re interested in sharing your picture, email it to email@example.com by this Friday 9/3. I’ll put together a collection of these pictures and share them here on my blog. I can’t wait to be inspired!
And … I’ll choose one of my favorite shots and send that person Project Life! How’s that for motivation? Now … go set your camera down.
Monday, August 30th, 2010
Hello Monday and hello to you. This week means September is already here (seriously — where did the Summer go?). I’m so in the mood for Fall which means I have some fun ideas & projects to share with you this week.
In the meantime, I enjoyed a little extra time in the kitchen the past several days. A couple social functions called for a variety of yumminess. These were the most recent treat. Also made these a few days ago. David found the most beautiful, huge mushrooms (love you, Coscto) for one of my favorite appetizers.
You may notice Crew, who can and will find a way to reach anything and everything. For the love of pushing buttons. That picture on the right? That was when I was adding the cream cheese to the mixture. I doubled what the recipe called for just to try for a creamier texture. Yum.
Hey, switching topics — congratulations to two winners who now have a free seat in the online blog design class:
1. Christine in New Kensington, PA
2. Sandra in Guam (*fun side note: My family lived there 1972 – 1974 … before I was born)
Christine and Sandra: Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you all hooked up.
Everyone else: If you’re interested in learning how to design your own cool blog or give yours a personalized facelift, take advantage of the Early Bird special today & tomorrow. It’s $5 off of the class – so folks who sign up on these days will get the class for just $30! And also — everyone who takes the class will get a one-time use 40% off coupon towards one of Crystal’s digital kits. Very cool.
This just in from Crystal & Kristina, the instructors: “We are also offering a class Add-on Kit for those of you who just want our pre-made designs & don’t care to design your own. Parts 1 & 3 show you how to navigate blogger & upload your images. So technically, you could take this class without ever touching Photoshop….just skip Part 2: Design Basics. The add-on kit is $20 and will include: 20 Backgrounds, 20 Generic-Themed Banners, 20 Post Dividers, & 20 Pieces of Happy Art.”
The direct link to the blog class registration is now LIVE! Go here.
Friday, August 27th, 2010
I have to tell you, reading through all of the comments in the last post was one of my favorite things to do this week. I love getting tiny glimpses into your lives. We have so much in common with each other. And yet – there was a vast contrast between many of the what-I-am-doing-today anecdotes.
Congratulations to Marianne! You were randomly selected to win a 3-month subscription to e-Mealz! Drop us an email at email@example.com and we’ll hook you up. Marianne said, “Today I’m going to have an ultrasound as I’ve found a lump in my breast. I’m extremely nervous & am praying that everything is ok.” Marianne, I pray that you have either received good news or that you’re able to stay strong if the results aren’t ideal .
As for everyone else, here is a code you can use to get a discount on an e-Mealz plan: savemoney. Just click here to learn more about e-Mealz or to get started. Our family is enjoying it so far. I seriously love the break from planning the meals and making the shopping list. Plus, we’re trying new recipes on a regular basis now. And they’re super simple.
This is what we had for dinner last night: Pecan-roasted pork tenderloin. Thoroughly enjoyed it. (Plate adorableness is from Target.)
Let’s do another giveaway for the weekend, shall we?
Have you ever wanted to makeover your blog but weren’t sure how? Now’s your chance. Crystal Wilkerson & Kristina Proffitt of Blog Designs by Two Happy Mamas have created an online class where they walk you step-by-step through the blog design process. By the end of the class you’ll have a super cute, updated blog that includes all sorts of customized features. And of course, new knowledge to change it whenever you’d like! How’s that for cool?
This new class called Blog Design Basics for Blogger that is going to be launching August 30th at www.jessicasprague.com. To learn more and to see some of their sample blog designs, click here.
PS – I have to mention one of my favorite eye-candy-kind-of-posts ever. Kristina shared a whole bunch of ah-dor-a-ble prints she found on etsy and put them all in one, happy post. I was totally inspired. I think I even mentioned the link on twitter & facebook, but if you’ve got little ones — or need a gift idea — check out her etsy finds here.
Okay, so if you’d like a *free seat* in this cool class, leave your first name and where you live in the comments. A randomly selected winner will be announced on Monday.
Thursday, August 26th, 2010
Today, I am surprisingly not showing any signs of injuries from last night’s handstand fest with my kids. They were completely amused. Apparently I haven’t done handstands for my kids before? I guess I can check that off my bucket list.
Today, the little man tried eating breakfast at the bar like a big kid. Is is possible the beloved high chair will soon see its retirement from our kitchen?
Today, I am all prepped and ready to scrapbook with Porter’s 2nd grade class for the first time. Photos are printed, cardstock pages are printed, pattern paper strips are cut. Check. If you are interested in doing this with your child and his/her class … be sure to grab the free download page templates HERE. All the information is there too.
Today, I am nibbling on these mint brownies for a friend’s baby shower tonight. The top layer? Melted semi-sweet chocolate chips. Divine.
Today, Silly Bandz are scattered, organized, displayed, and worn in our home. Evidence of what the kids are into these days.
Today, I am taking my “note-to-self” seriously (from last week). I made a quick sign to put by the doorbell. I don’t need a delivery person interrupting the precious nap time anymore. We’ll see if it works. Want one too? Check out the Free Stuff page and download it for free.
PS – I just remembered my web-designer-brother Andrew came up with a clever little no-soliciting sign a while back that you may also enjoy. Click here.
What about you? Name one thing that you are up to today.
I will choose someone at random to win a free 3-month subscription to e-Mealz. This is something new for our family lately (based on many of your recommendations) and we really like it so far. Several of you have asked which plan we’re trying. It’s the WalMart Low Carb plan.
I’ll announce a winner on Friday and also share a code for everyone else to get a discount.
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Giveaways are just fun, aren’t they?
I think it’s safe to say – based on the 2,200 comments left on Monday’s post – that you guys like the JoTotes bags. I know! So fun. Congratulations to … Alayna in Cedar City, Utah! And … Stephani in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada! (Yes! A winner outside the U.S. for once!)
Alayna & Stephani: Email your full shipping address, phone number, and bag/color preference to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass this along to the good people at JoTotes. They’re excited to share one of their new bags with you!
Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
Want to know a secret? Lean in close. When it comes to photography, I’m so not a pro and therefore — I kinda cheat a little.
I’ve been behind an SLR camera for about 18 years now and much to my husband’s dismay (and probably my high school photography teacher if she knew what I was up to these days) … I really don’t know how to use all of the capabilities my camera has. Clearly I love to take pictures. But I’ve never made the time to really, truly focus on understanding all there is to know. Major kudos to all of you who have learned the technical side of photography.
As for me, digital editing is everything to my pictures. Sure, it takes some skill and experience to take decent pictures. I have a little skill and I have a little experience. But the shots I take almost always need to be touched up. Most photographer will tell you the same thing. They don’t share pictures with their clients that don’t go through some sort of editing.
Have a look at some before & after images:
That is the lock on the front door of the largest wooden church in the world, built in 1847 (Kerimaki, Finland).
Gymnastics lessons. Go, Claire, go!
Bedtime snuggles & wrestling — resulting in yesterday’s POTD.
Flowers in front of the Helsinki, Finland temple where my parents are currently serving a mission.
So what’s my method? Well … I used to edit all of my pictures in Adobe Photoshop. Still love Photoshop. Still use Photoshop – mostly for adding text and creating invitations & announcements and other projects. But since I’ve been organizing all of our digital pictures in iPhoto for years, I have finally converted to using iPhoto’s simple editing for the majority of my quick edits. Including every POTD for our family’s Project Life book as well as every picture I post here on my blog.
Because I know that many of you are Mac users (and every Mac has iPhoto built into the computer), I thought I’d share my go-to edits that I find myself using with just about every picture I use. If you’ve never edited in iPhoto, today is the day. Seriously — give it a try!
When you double-click on an image in iPhoto, you’ll see this at the bottom:
Click on Edit and you’ll see this:
At this point, you have all these options. Play around. I always click on Effects and Adjust. These are the 2 things that will pop up, shown now at the right side of my image:
No two photos will be edited exactly the same. So I’m not going to recommend to “bring this slider up this much” and “bring that slider down that much” or “click on Boost Color this many times”. Again, you just need to play around.
For this particular photo, I brought up the Exposure quite a bit, a little on the Sharpness, and a tiny bit on the De-Noise. You can see how far I took my sliders. I ended up not doing anything with the Effects options on this particular photo, but I love that iPhoto shows you in thumbnails what your picture would look like with any of those options. Plus, they’re variable. You can go pretty intense … not that I ever really go very intense.
These are the main features I use for quick edits:
Going digital with our cameras years ago was huge. Remember that? Digital editing is just as huge, if you ask me. A quick edit on any picture can make a big difference. You’ll love your pictures that much more. If you haven’t dabbled in this, give it some time.
Remember: Different strokes for different folks. I’m simply sharing with you what I use and what I do. Everyone has a different system that works for them. I realize these specifics aren’t 100% applicable to PC users, but your photo-editing software likely has similar features & functions.
Also worth noting: I’m not tech support. You will probably have far better luck getting your questions answered by the real experts. Check out Apple’s iPhoto Support site or google your questions. It’s amazing how much information that’s out there.
Monday, August 23rd, 2010
About 5 months ago I hosted a giveaway for an awesome SLR camera bag by JoTotes. You can see that here. Well JoTotes has done it again. And the bags just keep getting prettier.
The bags are still just as practical with all the cool, adjustable compartments for your camera(s) and accessories and everything else you’d need to throw in your bag. It’s on-the-go with me just about everywhere I go lately. And I’m digging the color options for each of the bags.
Must. See. More? I hear ya. Go here. Want a chance to get one for free? JoTotes is giving away one of each of their new designs to TWO of my readers right here. Leave your first name, city, state. Good luck! I’ll announce 2 randomly-selected winners on Wednesday.
Friday, August 20th, 2010
I’m sharing 10 Back-to-School photo ideas as a guest over at Creating Keepsakes. You can check it out here.
Noticing some good questions from yesterday’s post. Sending hugs to those of you who were especially respectful and kind with your remarks. It says a lot about you, and means a lot to me. I will try to address your questions over time. (It will take time.) Today, I’ll address a few of your questions regarding the website facelift.
Q: With your new web design, I’m noticing some of the text and graphics overlapping and not looking right. What’s wrong?
A: Just hit refresh. It should clear up. However, if you’re still noticing a problem, please leave a comment and tell me which browser you’re using so we can troubleshoot.
Q: Love the clean, organized design but it’s so white. I find it harder to read.
A: Actually, this font style, color, and size is the very same that it has always been. That didn’t change. As for the all-white look it’s precisely what I was going for. I love how clean it feels. And yet — now that the redesign is live and everyone is giving feedback, I can see that the all-white look is perhaps “too” white. I appreciate the input. I want you to have a good experience every time you visit here. And actually, I agree with you that it needs a little more splash of color. You’ll see some color re-introduced shortly. We’re still wrapping up all sorts of little details on the site as well so you may be noticing some other things pop up.
Q: Please add categories to your Recipes section!
A: I hear ya. I’m on it. It’s been a low priority for a long time, but I’ll get those categories up soon.
[ SEARCH ] A few of you remember some of my Q&A from the past, where I’ve answered lots of little questions. Click on the Q&A category to the right and you’ll notice I’ve added more posts to that section.
Tip: If you remember a specific topic that I’ve addressed at some point but can’t remember where to find it, take advantage of the SEARCH feature on my blog. This will save you a lot of time. It will pull up blog posts that have that topic or keyword (notice the tags).
For example, you’re wondering what makeup I wear? Search for “makeup”. (I prefer Mac.) You remember I mentioned my favorite new magazine somewhere but you can’t remember the name of it. Search for “magazine”. (It’s Seeing the Everyday) You want a little inspiration for making a baby announcement. Search for “baby announcement”. Feeling like you want to try spray-painting or creating a floral arrangement? You know what you’re looking for. Just plug it in the Search field. : )
Happy Weekend, everyone.
Thursday, August 19th, 2010
You guys know I read your comments here. While I can’t possibly respond to every one, I do my best to address your questions from time to time. One that keeps coming up is — When can we see more sketches??
Well I guess today’s the day. Here’s a new sketch!
Look familiar? Allow me to explain.
I’ve been scrapbooking for 17 years. It’s safe to say it’s in my blood. How I go about preserving our memories has changed and twisted and experimented and EVOLVED over the years. Any of you remember back in the mid- to late-nineties when creative lettering was my niche? I l-o-v-e-d creative lettering. I spent years doing plenty of creative artwork and layout design. Most of you are familiar with my sketches. Another niche. You’re the ones wondering when I’m going to share more. : )
Here’s the thing. In my personal evolution, I’ve had babies. I’ve grown busier. I spend more time outside of myself, and more time serving my family as well as those outside my family. I am equally passionate about scrapbooking as I have always been. Only now I am so, so, so much more practical in my approach. I spend way less hours putting together layouts. All the adorable accents, cool gadgets, and detailed techniques? They’re fun, but I simply don’t prioritize that in my life right now.
Bottom line: This is how I scrapbook now: Project Life. (See pictured sketch above.) Drop the pictures in. Add my journaling. Done. Photos and stories. That’s it. That’s the way I like it. I’m very, very comfortable with the system I’ve settled into and kinda wish all my books from the past 17 years were like this. Honestly. Although, believe me — I appreciate all of those stages and niches and all that resulted from thousands of hours pouring my heart into this hobby.
I still sketch. Only it’s not so much for scrapbook page design. It’s more for product design and web design and things like that. I am so grateful to know my sketches have helped in some way. I appreciate your kind notes and requests. I am just not in that mode of artistic scrapbook pages these days.
I’m in the mode of simplifying. I like helping others to simplify as well.
Alright. Enough of that. Let’s open up this post to more of your questions. Go for it. : )
Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
So here we are. A new logo and now — a new, clean look for the website!
I’d like to point out a few features, whether you already frequent my little corner on the web or you’re brand-new here. (Welcome!)
PROJECT LIFE. Most of you are familiar with my passion for story-telling and record-keeping in our families and personal lives. Project Life is the product to help anyone (any.one.) be able to do this without spending so much time and stress getting it done. If you already use it & love it, yay! You can snag the Project Life graphic for your own blog if you want. That can be found on the right side of this page. If you want to learn more, the Project Life section of this website is the place to browse.
BLOG. You’re looking at it. It’s where I share and ramble and teach and announce. It’s like what I’ve been doing for a dozen years in scrapbooking publications — only with a blog it’s completely free, more personal, and definitely more frequent. If you want to be notified every time a new post goes live, see those little buttons up by my picture on this page? That’s how you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook or subscribe to my blog with RSS feed.
CATEGORIES. Look to the right. See all those categories? They’re for your convenience. Need some inspiration on organization? Click on that category for all my best-of blog posts on the topic. Got a question that you know I’ve answered before, but you can’t quite remember? Click on Q&A for all the Q&A blog posts I’ve done. You get the idea.
SEARCH. Don’t forget the Search feature on the sidebar as well. This handy dandy little number will help you find anything you’re searching for on my blog.
Note: It takes a lot of work to get every post appropriately categorized and tagged, since I didn’t do that all this time until more recently. (Wish I did.) So with time, the categories and Search feature will become even more comprehensive.
RECIPES. Just like what it sounds to be … the place I share my favorite recipes. I guarantee you that the kitchen is not where my creativity shines. I do enjoy cooking & baking though, and appreciate talented folks who come up with the recipes. When I come upon a recipe that I deem to be tried & true and a favorite for our family, well then — I share it. I don’t take credit for making any of it up and I do try to give credit to where I found the recipe. Note: Right now this section is blog style, but it will soon be organized & categorized for much easier viewing. In the meantime, you can always use the Search feature there to find what you’re looking for.
ABOUT. A little insight into who I am and how I got here.
AMAZON PICKS. I am often asked “What such-and-such do you use?” or “Where’d you get that?” or “What would you recommend?” So now many of our household favorites can be found together – in one place – in our Amazon store. Everything from children’s books to the best bib ever to software and computer accessories, butter bell, cameras, the round brush I use, and yes — even spray paint. All stuff that we personally use in our home. I will add to the list from time to time. Note: You’ll see several categories to the right of our Amazon store. More than just the initial window of items listed. Happy Browsing!
FREE STUFF. This is the place where you’ll find some fun things to download. You may recognize a few familiar items from my blog’s history. Now they’re all in one place. And I’ll be adding more. You’re welcome to have/use/share however you’d like (except for a profit, silly). If you think your friends would be interested in any of it, send ‘em over.
PERSONAL YEARBOOK. This is the big feature to point out in the Free Stuff section. Check it out. A very A+ project to do with your kiddos in school.
By the way — I don’t think I ever showed you where my Doors of Tallinn print (also in the Free Stuff section) ended up in our home office. Adds a nice little splash of color in that lineup of B&W prints above the counter.
Beloved readers, I hope you enjoy coming here. I’m open to feedback. Have something you’d like to see?
Thanks for stopping by.