Simplifying the Photo Book

Hi. My name is Sarah. I used to be a scrapbooker.

I really did! And I loved it. I loved cropping and picking colors and adding cute borders and stickers. Then my daughter was born and every time I tried to scrapbook, she needed something or wanted to “help.” My scrapbooking started to feel like a real drag. I started to feel concerned about how many pictures I was taking. How on earth I would even be able to fit my daughter’s scrapbooked childhood in my house! I had also previously thought that my scrapbooking was cost effective compared to the cost of paying for a printed photo album.

I overheard another mom talking about how she switched to doing all her photo albums online. A few months later I had created my first online photo book and given away most of my scrapbooking paraphernalia.

In the interest of efficiency, I decided I would make two books a year. Then I would only have to go through all the fuss every six months. I follow this process to make the photo album process as streamlined as possible.

  1. Gather photos. This is the hardest part and will take the most time. Look for photos on your computer, on your phone, in your email, Instagram and on Facebook. This “gathering” is one of the reasons I only do this twice a year. It’s a pain. When you find the photos you want, copy and paste each of them into a new folder for your photo book. When in doubt, put more photos in the folder. You can cull your collection later.
  2. Consider the size of your photo book. I rarely pay for more pages. This is usually a financial decision and that’s okay with me. My latest photo book (30 pages long) contained 83 photos (including the cover, not all full size of course. If the money isn’t a concern, keep all the photos you want and just pay for more pages.
  3. Choose a company for your book. Three that I would recommend: Blurb, Shutterfly, and Costco. I found Costco was the least expensive and had the fewest customization options. I really like Shutterfly and they frequently have coupons. Blurb is also great, but a little more expensive (lots of customizing available).
  4. Upload your photos and assemble your photo book. You will usually be offered a choice when building your book–the simple path or the custom path. I always choose the custom path because I will always want to tweak or customize something.
  5. Order your book and pay!

Do you enjoy scrapbooking or do you like making photo books online?

Homemade Jam

Help! I need room in my freezer. My ambitious self picked close to 5 gallons of blackberries this summer. My ambitious self forgot how small my apartment freezer is. So I thought, “Hey, I’ll make freezer jam!” Except that the freezer part is the problem. Growing up, I helped my mom make jam a couple times, but now it seemed a lot more complex than that. But, now I’m on the heels of a very large shopping trip involving the freezer section at Costco, and I need my freezer space. My good friend Mike supplied jars, lids, tongs, and a “canning pot.” I have to admit, it wasn’t so much hard as just a lot of steps. And a ton of sugar! Goodness.

Happily, my adventure resulted in 5 lovely cans of blackberry jam and the lids all sealed! Happy day! Notes to myself for next time:

-I should have spent the $1.69 to get a funnel. Seriously.

-You can’t put a price on those nice rubberized tongs to pull the cans out of boiling water. They can save you from many a mishap…say, dropping a can of jam into the dirty dishwater. 😦

I ended up not having enough lids sadly, so I have some “refrigerator jam.”

Dumpster Diving

I like couponing, I love finding a great sale, and I really love getting stuff for free. Like furniture. A couple weeks ago, I was waiting outside to get picked up to head to a wedding. As I looked around, I saw what looked like a chair over by our apartment’s dumpster. I decided to have a look. Lo and behold, this wasn’t just any chair, this was an Ikea Poang chair.

When my ride drove up a few minutes later, we hefted the chair (and footrest) back into my apartment. I ran the cloth covers through the wash, and I am now the proud owner of a practically new Ikea Poang chair. It’s so comfy that every time I sit in it, I want to take a nap. I had been wanting some different furniture for our living room, but I certainly wouldn’t have been able to purchase anything like this. Now all I have to say is, “Thanks, God! It was just what I wanted.”

What are the odds that it would match the rest of my livingroom???


Tell me about an awesome find of yours (free or just a really great sale)!

Guest Blogger: Shawnee

I am so excited to introduce my first guest blogger on my blog. Her name is Shawnee, and she blogs over at The Ex-Perfectionist. One of the things I love about Shawnee is her transparency as she writes and shares her life. I always learn something new when I read her posts. Be sure to check out her blog!


Guest Blogger: Shawnee Randolph

I keep my face wash in the fridge next to the garlic, salsa and Tapitio. My face wash is, as you may have guessed, 100% edible, all natural and completely dreamy.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but store bought beauty products freak me out.  Wondering what has my panties in a knot?  Take a look at the ingredients of your face wash. Most of what you will read is probably…unreadable.  And the rest?  Not fit for your skin.

Our skin is the largest organ in our body.  The epidermis (outer layer) and the dermis (inner layer) help to regulate temperature and gives us our wonderful sense of touch. More importantly our fabulous skin protects our bodies from toxins and helps excrete toxins from our bodies.

Aside from all the technical stuff, our skin is what ages us or keeps us looking young.  I’m sorry to break it to you, but alcohol, acids, and scents will only age you.  Don’t believe that these things are in your face wash?  Stop reading, right now, and look at the ingredients.

I know right?

So if you wouldn’t put those things in your body, why apply them to the largest organ of your body?

Don’t have the cash to purchase a new line of organic skin care?  Me either.  Plus, there are likely many preservatives in your “organic” products, including alcohol.  Instead of breaking your childhood piggy bank, try a homemade face wash and scrub.

 Honey Oatmeal Facewash

½-¾ part Oatmeal (ground in a coffee grinder)

1 part Almond or Coconut milk

1/8 part Olive Oil (adjust according to your skin)

1/8 part Honey

Mix it all up, place it in a container that can be shaken before each use and there you have it.  The oatmeal helps to clean; honey is an emulsifier and also has healing and anti inflammatory properties (good for those pesky pimples); Almond and Coconut milk, especially those fortified with vitamins, will help to cleanse and refresh; and olive oil will give you a nice glow and can take the place of your moisturizer.

Tip: make sure to rinse with cool to warm water, so as not to dry out your skin.

Olive Oil Sugar Scrub

1 part sugar

½-3/4 part olive oil

Mix together.  To use, cleanse your face with the oatmeal wash and rinse.  Place a small amount of the scrub in your hand and very gently massage into your skin.  The skin on your face is the most delicate so it is important not to be harsh with it.  Rinse and pat dry.

Tip: this scrub is also awesome for your whole body.  Note, that when using it in the shower, your tub can become very slippery.  Be careful!

I hope you’ll give natural a try.  Enjoy!

A Love Affair With Orange

For a long time, I felt that pink was my favorite color and “girly” was my decorating bent. When I was a little girl, I always imagined decorating my bedroom in a light, springy, lacy fashion with either pink or purple as the main color. When I attended college, I decided I had no knack for decorating at all, and thus succumbed to pinning Disney coloring book pages on the wall and stringing up bare 4×6 photos on a ribbon for display (sorry roommates!).

Then I got married. And had a little time on my hands. And read a few blogs. And learned a few things about myself. It all started with a blog called “How About Orange“. As the blog’s author, Jessica, shared her passion for all things orange, I found myself also falling in love with this color. I started out with an orange fabric panel.

Looks good? This is a very classy decorating project where I used packing tape to stick it to a random board.

I liked the fabric so much I made pillowcases out of it.

Then, this last spring my mom came for a visit and we did an orange, spray painting project for my kitchen.

My first adventure with Mod Podge resulted in this lovely orange tin (functional use yet to be determined).

Unfortunately, the Modge Podging of the tin resulted in the lid not fitting.

And finally, my sister brought me this adorable, little, orange pot.

Consider a little orange in your life. Maybe it’s the new black (yeah, I just made that up).