Disclosure: I received some free samples of Shutterfly products. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not necessarily those of Shutterfly, Inc. Photos contained in the photobook are Copyright Glennia Campbell 2011. All Rights Reserved.
Disclosure: I received some free samples of Shutterfly products. All opinions expressed herein are my own and not necessarily those of Shutterfly, Inc. Photos contained in the photobook are Copyright Glennia Campbell 2011. All Rights Reserved.
I've confessed here before that I used to love scrapbooking. So much so, my husband used to call it my "cult meeting" when I would dash out of the house to join my friends for scrapbooking time together. Unfortunately, having a full time job, a seasonal job, a volunteer position and a blog don't leave much time for other hobbies, so my scrapbooking gear is gathering dust in a corner.
Still, preserving my family's memories is important to me. I have boxes and boxes of old photos that haven't made their way into scrapbooks yet. With the advent of digital scrapbooks making it so easy to create and duplicate beautiful scrapbooks with a few mouse clicks, all the time and energy spent on paper books seems like a waste.
Unfortunately, most of our family's photos pre-2000 are in paper form. Who has time to stand over a scanner and scan hundreds of photos?
Enter, LiveOn Rewind...A few months ago, Clever Girls Collective asked me to be a brand ambassador for a new photo sharing, digitizing, and restoration service called LiveOn. As part of learning about the company, they offered to digitize some of my family photos without charge to me. It was an incredibly easy process, and I am completely sold on their services.
The first thing I did was figure out which photos to scan. I decided start with photos from before 1990. I ordered a postage-paid box from LiveOn Rewind, which arrived in a few days. I was a little surprised at how small the box was, but I was even more surprised that I could fit nearly 500 photos into it. I included some that were in pretty bad shape, thinking that someday I would learn Photoshop well enough to fix them. Some of these are photos of my mom from the 1950's, when she was a young girl in Korea.
I filled up my box and slapped on the pre-made UPS label and dropped it off at a local UPS store. A few days later, I received an acknowledgement that my photos had arrived safe and sound at the LiveOn Headquarters.
While I was waiting for my photos to return, I got an email from someone at LiveOn stating that they could fix my damaged photos. (Note: there is an extra charge for this service). I was beyond thrilled. They sent me a sample of their work, which I posted. I couldn't wait to see the rest.
A few weeks later, all of my photos were returned to me, with a DVD enclosed containing digitized versions of them. There are copies of both the original image and the restored ones. There is also a gorgeous musical slideshow of photos that is like watching your life flash before you (or in this case, my mother's life). The results brought tears to my eyes.
My parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. I can't think of a better belated gift to them than a scrapbook of their early years together, and this way, I can keep a copy for myself and my brothers as well. I can't thank the folks at LiveOn enough for the precious gift they have given me and my family. I plan to put the DVD in our safety deposit box for safekeeping.
If you would like to let your family photos LiveOn, use this code at checkout for a 30% discount at Liveon.com: cgc65
Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please visit LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
When I was in kindergarten, our teacher posed a question to our class of rambunctious five year olds: What is a home? I recall many kids raising their hands, describing a house, a yard, a mom, a dad, maybe grandparents, a dog. One kid said, "where your toys are." Another said, "A house you own."
I thought about the downstairs apartment where my family lived, my mom, my dad, my baby brothers and me. We didn't own it; there was a landlord who came around to collect the rent and cut the grass. Our apartment was the entire downstairs of the old house, painted slate blue, with white windows and a dark red door. My mom was always there, it seemed, since she didn't know how to drive. My dad wasn't always there with us, since his job as a trucker had him out on the road for days at a time.
There was an elderly lady who lived upstairs in one apartment. She would take me on excursions downtown to buy nylons at the local dress shop. The two of us would stop in a diner afterwards, where she bought me pineapple sundaes and gave me a nickel for helping her decide which color stockings to buy, though there really wasn't much choice, since I really couldn't tell the difference between "nude" and "taupe". She smelled like vanilla and wore headscarves tied neatly below her chin.
In the apartment next to hers lived a young couple, barely out of their teens. The young wife would play Bobby Darrin and the Beatles 45s while we baked cookies together and danced around in her living room. I thought she was terribly sophisticated. She showed me pictures of Paris in a scrapbook, and told me it was her dream to go there someday.
Was this a home? I thought to myself. My family and these two strangers above us? Then, it hit me. I shyly raised my hand. "A home is where the people who love you are."
I remember the teacher beaming down at me. "That's right," she said. "Home is where love is."
She drew a house on the board, with a big heart in the middle of it. For a moment, all the kids got quiet, as though they had to think long and hard about that, before commencing their normal routine of eating paste and toppling over blocks. Looking back, that seemed a little abstract for five year olds.
I've lived in a number of places in my life. From that apartment house in Middletown, Ohio, to my parents fulfillment of the American dream, a three bedroom tract house in the suburbs of Dayton. As an adult, I've lived in dorm rooms and shared apartments in New York and Chicago. In Austin, Texas, I shared a house with my brothers' rock and roll band, aptly named "Sourlawn", then rented a small house on a dead end street where I could hear freight trains rumble by in the middle of the night. Frank and I lived in a big house with a pool overlooking the Austin skyline for a time, then moved west to California and a tiny corporate apartment. We've made our home in a modest townhome in Palo Alto since then, full of paper and books and artifacts of our travels.
I remember all of these places fondly, with all the laughter and tears, joy and heartache that comes along with life. I have been proud to call these places home, whether I lived alone or with family or friends or total strangers at times. I was thinking about these places recently and was reminded of one of my favorite songs, by singer-songwriter Sally Fingerett. Her message is about tolerance and understanding of families of all kinds, and the refrain is:
Home is where the heart is
No matter how the heart lives
Inside your heart where love is
That's where you've got to make yourself
I have boxes and piles and scrapbooks full of photos of the places I've lived. I have a few pictures of the houses and apartments, but mostly, the pictures are of people. Even so, there are some images that are missing and reside in my memory alone. I sometimes wish that I had better records of the places I have called home over the years, more photos or recordings, but I will have to make due with what I have, and the knowledge that wherever I go, as long as I'm with people I love, I will always be at home.
If you have photos or videos that need to be digitized, check out LiveOn Rewind. Use the code HOLIDAYREWIND now for 30% off your purchase!
If you have oldThank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Thank you to LiveOnfor sponsoring this blog post. Please click here to learn more about storing and sharing your most special memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own.
I've been a scrapbooker, storyteller, memory keeper and archivist for many years. I got bit by the scrapbooking bug as a small child, keeping boxes and photo albums of photos and memorabilia. Most of those scrapbooks fell apart over time, but I continued to keep the flotsam and jetsam of my life story n shoe boxes, then archival-quality scrapbooks, and more recently, online through my blog, Flickr, and Facebook accounts.
When I was approached by the Clever Girls Collective to check out the new LiveOn site, I thought it was a natural fit for me. I've got photos and stories stored in photo albums, shoeboxes, CDs, DVDs, videotapes, websites, and harddrives. I've always thought it would be nice to have a place to combine all the digital media into one handy location, and voila! LiveOn appears like a beacon in the night to rescue me from my multi-media morass.
LiveOn uses a simple timeline layout that you add memories to by filling in a date along the timeline, along with any photos, videos or music you want to include. You just click and drag photos from your Facebook account, or upload them from your computer into a slideshow on LiveOn, add a text slide, add some pre-programed music, and you have a slick video slideshow. You can add descriptions to each photo, either by typing in text or adding audio. This would be a great way to store your mom or your Grandma's voice telling the family stories (you know, the embarassing ones they keep repeating at every family gathering).
I created my first memory of my 50th Birthday party in January. It only took about ten minutes to compile a slick slideshow of some of the highlights of the party, then insert it into the timeline. The photos were easily imported from Facebook, then shared online via a link. It could not have been easier. I'm hoping that they will develop a similar link to Flickr, since I tend to keep more photos there than in Facebook, due to Facebook's ever-changing privacy policies. The company is just getting LiveOn off the ground, so hopefully, there will be great things ahead for them. It is a great idea whose time has come.
Thank you again to LiveOn for this sponsored opportunity to blog about storing and sharing my most important memories with those closest to me. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
I used to be a scrapbooking maniac. I compiled, cropped, and journaled thousands of photos into big, bulky photo albums. After I started taking digital pictures and blogging, I found myself doing less and less scrapbooking. I started just using my photos for blog posts and occasionally printing them out when my mom whined loud enough about never getting to see her grandson growing up. Other than that, my photos are just hanging out on my harddrive.
Yesterday, my friends at the Silicon Valley Moms Blog invited me to an event sponsored by HP at a nearby Long's Drugstore to make a photo poster. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much, but Techmama's very brave husband offered free babysitting for my son and her three boys, so we ventured over together. I had uploaded some of my favorite photos of our trip to Greenland last year onto a flash drive, and thought I would make something for Alex's room. They offered us a free poster for mombloggers and friends, so I had nothing to lose. Plus, I needed some shampoo, so going to the drugstore was on my list of errands for the day anyway.
We were greeted by a number of friendly reps from HP, who were standing by a photo machine kiosk, ready to help us turn our pictures into a 16x20 poster. Beth went first, and it took her about 10 minutes to load in the pictures, choose a background color, and shuffle her photos into a pattern that she liked. It took another 15 minutes or so to print out, and the quality was pretty amazing. The photo collage was printed out on heavy, photo-quality paper with a matte finish and looked very professional.
I had a little technical difficulty with mine, because the Sandisk flashdrive I won from Socal Mom's giveaway last week was new and contained some kind of software that the machine couldn't read. They ended up making a CD for me on another machine, and when that didn't work, they loaded my pictures onto another flashdrive and we were good to go. They HP reps said this glitch will be fixed with a software upgrade soon, and that the machines should be able to read any of the newer flashdrives in the future. For now, it's best to take in a CD, an older flashdrive, or any memory card from your camera to make a poster.
After we got the pictures uploaded, the touchscreen led me through a series of easy steps of choosing photos, cropping them, choosing a color background, and then a series of "shuffles" that put the pictures in various places in a collage format. You can't choose the exact placement of your photos, which is either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. I could imaging myself spending hours standing in front of the machine, changing sizes, moving pictures around, and not being able to decide how to format the thing. With the shuffle, the software makes the decisions for you, and you can hit the shuffle button as long as you want to, until you get the right configuration. I think I went through about a dozen different variations before I hit on two or three I really liked.
I loved how easy it was to use the machine, and the quality of the end product. I ended up buying a frame and hanging it in the living room, instead of pinning it up in Alex's room as I had planned. I could definitely see making something like this for a teacher gift, a grandparent gift, or to commemorate a very special event. The machine also makes lovely calendars, photobooks, and greeting cards. To find a location of one of the HP photo machines near you, click here.
Now, I'm wondering what I'm going to do with all that scrapbooking equipment I have stored in the closet...
Every year for the past four or five, my mother-in-law and her two sisters plan a weekend getaway at the Scrap & Spa in Union Pier, Michigan. The three sisters, their mom, their daughters and daughters-in-law, all trek to a beach house on Lake Michigan for a girls' weekend away. Scrap & Spa offers just what you would expect from the name--a weekend to work on scrapbooks and get spa treatments. We hang out, we eat gourmet brownies, we drink girly cocktails, we get hot stone massages and pedicures, and we work on scrapbooks. If you're a scrapbooker, it just doesn't get any better than that.
Every year, I've joined them, and had a great time while I was there. Unfortunately, every year I've had some miserable experience or another trying to get there. I usually fly to Chicago on Thursday night, stay at a hotel near O'Hare, rent a car and drive to Michigan on Friday. The idea sounds like no big deal for a veteran traveler. Every year, the fates conspire against me. It's as if someone does not want me to go to Scrap & Spa. I sense a conspiracy on the magnitude of the JFK assassination.
The first year, the flight to Chicago was uneventful, but when I started driving toward Michigan, I sat in still traffic for two hours. Not moving. Just sitting. The freeway had turned into one giant parking lot of doom. I thought it was some construction on the toll road, but it turned out that there was a chemical truck overturned on I-94, shutting down traffic in both directions for nine hours. I finally heard about this on the radio, and decided to get off the highway at the next exit and wing it on the surface streets.
The next exit was Gary, Indiana. Gary is not exactly a tourist resort town. I had a hard time finding a gas station that was: (a) open; (b) selling maps; or (c) had someone who could direct me to the appropriate road to take to get to Union Pier. I still don't know where people buy gas or get directions in Gary, Indiana. I guess they assume that if you're there, you had better know where you're going.
Gary was just about the most depressing town I have ever experienced. My knowledge of the town was limited to the chirpy "Gary, Indiana" song from The Music Man, and knowing that the Jackson 5 came from there, which I learned from excessive reading of Tiger Beat magazine as a child. I was wholly unprepared for the bleak, industrial town with abandoned warehouses and potholes the size of swimming pools. I realized after driving for a mile or two that I had made a terrible mistake, since I had no idea where I was going, and there were no people out on the streets to ask for directions.
I decided that I would just follow the line of traffic headed east, and keep the traffic and news helicopters on my left side. They were circling around the spill site, so I figured once I was past the helicopters, I would be able to eventually get back on the highway. I arrived at Scrap & Spa about 8 hours after I left Chicago, a trip that should have taken 2 hours.
The following year, there was so much construction on the tollroad that the trip took six hours from Chicago to Union Pier. No major chemical accidents and no detours to Gary, so it had improved. I am forever a glass-half-full of champagne kind of gal.
The only mishap this year was being left alone in a hotel room in Chicago, where I had nothing better to do than watch TV in the middle of the night. I was so enthralled by Susan Lucci's Youthful Essence infomercial, that I called. Susan Lucci has been playing Erica Kane on All My Children since I was in fourth grade, and she looks like a teenager. Actually, she looks better than she did when she was a teenager.
I figured she must be doing something right, and bolstered by the bottle of pinot grigio I ordered from room service, I dialed. I got a microdermabrasion kit, face cream, lotions, and potions for a year after that, most of which is still unopened. I still don't look anything like Erica Kane or even Erica Kane's mother, the poor beleagured (and now dead) Mona Kane. This proved once and for all that I should never, ever be left alone with a remote control, since I am evidently prone to drunk-dialing infomercial hotlines.
The third year, my mother-in-law suggested we try something new and I flew to Indianapolis instead, so I could hitch a ride with her and Great-Grandma Lois. My parents were picking up Alex in Indianapolis to take him to their house for the weekend to hang out with my nephew. En route, Alex and I got stuck in St. Louis due to severe thunderstorms, tornados, and high winds in the mid-west. We were supposed to arrive at 7 pm, but got in around midnight. My parents patiently waited for us to arrive, even though the airline had no idea where our plane was and just stopped posting our flight information after 10 pm.
In the car the next day en route to the Scrap & Spa, the rain was pouring down in buckets and then it started to hail, so we had to pull over for an hour. I half expected to see frogs falling from the sky.
Last year, the trip to Scrap & Spa was fairly uneventful, but on the way back, there were tornados throughout the midwest that caused my flight to be delayed about 6 hours in O'Hare. I spent the time trekking from one terminal to another to get to the American terminal so I could hang out in the Admiral's Club, even though I was flying United. On the flight, I amused myself by watching the lightening strikes outside my window and worrying about whether Frank knew where the can opener is, in case of my untimely demise.
This year, two days before I was scheduled to leave for Michigan, we found out that Frank's uncle had passed away. That meant rerouting the entire thing to Grand Rapids, Michigan, taking Alex out of school, and traveling with Frank and Alex. As it turned out, Grand Rapids is only two hours from Scrap & Spa, has a nice small airport, and I was able to get a rental car with a GPS to find my way. I was able to go to the memorial service and then find my way down to Scrap & Spa.
Next year, I fully anticipate a plague of locusts or a freak June snowstorm. Or maybe, I should just stay home.
Photo: The pedicures of Scrap & Spa, taken by me, the one with the Teva sandal tan.
I spent yesterday at a scrapbooking event called "Memoranza" hosted by my friend Liesbeth and a half dozen other Creative Memories consultants. I was a little embarassed to note that the album I was working on was the same one I was working on at last year's event. I was a little surprised to look inside and think, "I'm pretty good at this! Why did I stop doing it? Oh right, the blog..."
I was sitting with my friends Claudia, Debbie, and Jean, who I see a couple of times a year at these events. They are the main reason that I go, since not a lot of scrapping goes on in this house. Three of us are former Creative Memories Consultants and like to compare the new products to the old days, when things were far, far simpler. We're like a crew of little old ladies reminiscing about how much acid we took at Woodstock. "Remember those really, really long stickers? What were they called?" Blank stares all around.
Claudia told me that the other day her husband Bob came in and announced, "There's something I need you to explain to me. What the heck is a blog?"
Bob and Claudia are retirees who have between them a total of nine grown-up children. They live in a retirement community, and are pretty computer-savvy (my parents, on the other hand, don't own a computer). Claudia calmly explained to Bob that a blog is a personal website where people write about what is happening in their lives. "I don't get it. Why would anyone want to do that?" said Bob. "Can't they just send an e-mail?"
Claudia took Bob to the computer, and showed him two blogs that she reads. One is for Project Linus, a group that makes blankets for children that she volunteers with, and the other was mine.
"Doesn't Glennia have a small kid? When does she have time to write all this stuff?" Bob asked.
"I don't know," said Claudia. "Maybe the hours between midnight and six am aren't taken."
"Glennia writes a lot of stuff here. Who reads all that?" She showed Bob the NeoWorx Counter at the bottom of the page.
"Apparently, thousands of people from 82 countries," She replied. Bob was still scratching his head at the end of the exchange, but at least one more person now knows what a blog is. It's only a matter of time before Bob starts to chronicle his adventures on the landscaping committee and Claudia's mahjong victories at BobandClaudia.com.
It all started innocently enough. A friend invited me over to her friend's house for a party. "It'll be fun," she said. "You don't have to do anything you don't want to. I'll even pay for you this time."
I figured, "What could be the harm? A few hours with some nice women chatting and putting our photos into albums. How could that hurt?"
I was so innocent back then. So carefree and naive.
I resisted at first. I didn't have a lot of money to spare on hobbies since we'd just bought a new house. I made up excuses. "I'm not that kind of person..." I told my friend, "you know, the crafty kind. I'm not artistic at all."
"No worries," said the chipper
dealer Consultant, "Anyone can do it. Come on, what are you afraid of? It's fun. I think you'll like it."
I started thinking about my adorable little nephew, born only a few months earlier. I knew his mom was too tired to make a baby album for him. I rationalized that it was my duty as Aunt to do it, right? I mean, how else was that kid going to grow up knowing what his first bath was like? Or his first tooth? Or when he was potty trained? My mom always says, "No pictures, no memories" like she gearing up for the North Koreans to brainwash her and steal her memories.
I was weak and I caved to the peer pressure. I drank the paper-cutting, photo-cropping Kool-aid.
Initially, I bought the small sized album and the smallest kit they had and timidly took it home. I stayed up all night finishing my project, using all the pictures we had taken of my nephew the day he was born, the ones my brother sent me, and some from my mom. It was cool. It was relaxing. It was a rush. Everyone I showed it to oohed and ahhed like I'd just recreated the Sistine Chapel using silly putty and sidewalk chalk. I liked feeling crafty.
After the success of my first project, I found more and more things to scrapbook. Our honeymoon trip around the world. My mom's life story for her 60th birthday. I spent 2 days and nights before my mother-in-law's funeral making a tribute album to honor her life. Good times and bad. Scrapbooking became an emotional outlet and a kind of creative high for me.
At first, I did it out in the open, in front of my husband. He got tired of the mess on the dining room table, so I took it on the road and met up with different scrapbookers at their houses. We held clandestine meetings called "crops" all over the Bay Area. My husband called it "The Cult". I drove from Palo Alto to Fremont to Los Gatos to San Bruno to meet in dining rooms, garages and basements with other fanatics. Some of the women even had their own separate cropping studios. This was the equivalent of having your own crystal meth lab in your garage.
I went to an annual Croptoberfest that was held at a local card club. Walking past bleary-eyed black jack players, I recognized that look in their eyes, the one that said, "Just one more hand..."
We scrappers said, "Just one more page...I'll be done in just one more page..." as we cut and pasted photos of our kids into top-quality strap-hinge bound albums into the wee hours of the night. One woman told me that she was looking at a friend's photo album and she found a little cellophane bag inside containing a brownish dot. When she asked what it was, the friend replied, "My baby's first booger!" We were pretty far gone, but not that far.
Creating all these scrapbooks meant buying more product. My husband started questioning me.
"Who is this Judy that you keep writing checks to?" he asked.
I pretended it was a new hairdresser and not my Creative Memories Consultant. He eyed my haircut suspiciously. I started paying in cash so he wouldn't catch on to how much I was spending.
Eventually, I signed up to be a consultant so I could get the product wholesale. That's how bad it got. I was no longer just an addict, now I was a dealer, the scum that gets everyone else hooked. I didn't care, as long as I had my daily fix of adorable acid-free bunny stickers, scalloped-edged scissors, and heart-shaped paper punchers.
Acid-free, lignan-free, archival-quality. These three became my Trinity. I worshipped at their altar.
Then, we had a baby, and my addiction grew worse as he got cuter. I reasoned that if I didn't make a two-page spread of his every waking moment, Baby Alexander would think we didn't love him. I mean, all the other cool moms were doing it. I secretly wished I was a Mormon, so I could move to Utah, the Scrapbooking Capital of the World.
Eventually, I scrapped about 2,000 photos, but didn't make a dent in the 11 million in shoeboxes and archival quality bins full of photos, under the bed, in the closet. The more I scrapbooked, the more pictures I took. It was a vicious cycle.
I finally hit bottom when I realized I had a complete album of my son's second birthday party. A whole 30 page album, people! The Elmo theme of the party running through like a not-so-subtle leitmotif of furry red monsters. I confess, I set up the party with the idea that "this would make a cute page..." and forced his little friends to line up so I could have a cute page topper that said, "Elmo's Friends" on it. I cut out Elmo's head freehand and punched huge white and black circles for his eyes. Not just a couple of pages, an entire book of every child, every adult, every blade of grass in the park that day. I soon realized that we would be taking Alex to college with a duffel bag full of Old Navy clothes and U-Haul full of scrapbooks memorializing his every waking hour on the planet.
I realized then that I needed to back away from the die cuts and get a life. I quit being a dealer. I sold all my excess supplies at a fraction of the cost. I hung up my paper punchers and put away my chalking pad. I took a break.
I'm now what you might call a "recreational scrapbooker." I only do it once in a while, mainly to see my other addict friends and socialize. I'm not completely cured, because my damn kid just keeps getting cuter and demanding that I photograph all that cuteness.
So, I think I've gotten it under control, and am taking things one day at time. I asked my Higher Power for strength to accept the things I cannot change (the fact that I probably won't live long enough to scrapbook all the photos I have) and change the things I cannot accept (the fact that I really don't need another tin of chartreuse metal eyelets, no matter how cheap they are). I am working on the serenity part.
Just about the time I decided to go cold turkey on the scrapbooking, I discovered blogging. Given the amount of time I've spent online lately, I'm beginning to think that scrapbooking is the gateway drug to blogging.