Minimalist Scrapbooker?

A few friends of mine have asked where I get my digital scrapbook content, so I have decided to share it here.

First – you must know that I am VERY anal about the quality of my scrapbooks. And I have searched long and hard for supplies that do not result in books that come apart within 6 months.  Also, I have now completely switched over to digital to eliminate the amount of supplies, etc that I accumulate. And I have passed on nearly all of my traditional supplies to those who are using them. Minimalist Scrapbooker? Never would have thought such a thing was possible!

Why digital?

Think about your supplies if you are a traditional scrapbooker.  You have:

  • albums
  • paper
  • stickers
  • adhesives
  • ribbon or any number of other endless embellishments
  • rubber stamps
  • pens

Do any of you have a beautiful piece of paper that you are “saving” for something special?  Has it been used yet (or ever)?

And if you’re like me, your supplies overran your office, spilled into your dining room, and took a small (or maybe large!) suitcase or special carrier to cart to crops and get togethers.  OK, maybe it took 2 or 3 carriers.  It got to be that I only worked on my albums when I was at a crop – because who would want to take that much time and effort to pull everything out if there wasn’t a huge block of time to work on it? And that was the only time I could trust my children wouldn’t get their sticky hands on stuff.

Enter the new realm of digital scrapbooking.

When I was first introduced to this world, the only options were the drag-and-drop type of albums available on Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak, and other similar sites.  I tried these. But I am a very creative person and I felt so limited and constrained by their little boxes. So, I decided that digital scrapbooking was just not for me.

Then I began seeing layouts from people who were using Photoshop to create pages. And they were detailed and beautiful – although I had no idea how they were possibly doing them. Were they creating their own embellishments? Where did you buy these things? And I knew that Photoshop was a very expensive program, and a complicated one to learn.

(Now, before I go any farther I want to emphasize: I am no longer a Creative Memories consultant (was between 2005-2007 to get a discount on my own supplies). The links to  CM are NOT affiliate/referral links and I get no commission on them. I simply LOVE their products and believe whole-heartedly in endorsing them.)

In my traditional books, I had been using Creative Memories products for several years, because I had found their quality to be top-notch. They also extensively test any of their products before offering them for sale.  I was at a CM crop when I was introduced to a new version of their digital scrapbooking software: StoryBookCreator Plus.

SBC+, as it is commonly known in the scrapbook world, was a program that took the creativity and possibilities of PhotoShop and made it user-friendly. But sadly, there was no Mac version available and we are a Mac household. So, I coveted the program from afar while I worked on my traditional albums.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX= STOPPED HERE

Most importantly- In Digital, I will ONLY use binding services that do stitched-binding. I no longer will pay quite a bit of money for a book (from Shutterfly) and then have it fall apart within 6 months as well.  I will never use Shutterfly, which only offers glued-bindings, for photobooks again.

Software

Mixbook (referral link) – this is a web-based scrapbooking software that is excellent for everyone, even beginners.  It is completely FREE to use, until you decide to have your book printed.

PROS

  • There is a ton of content already in the site, but you can upload content you have purchased (.jpg or .png format) or downloaded free and use.
  • IF you do use SBC+/SBCStudio (see below) or Photoshop, you can upload finished pages and have them bound as a photobook through Mixbook. Their quality is outstanding (stitched-binding!) and the prices unmatched. The only downside is their shipping can sometimes be higher than other sites, but their book prices are so low that it evens out.

CONS

  • The few limitations that they do have may have more advanced scrapbookers wanting a different program.  You can only use the fonts they have on their site. And you cannot change colors to any embellishments.

Creative Memories. – CM offers software for PC users (StoryBookCreator+) and for Mac users (SBCStudio).

PROS

  • User-friendly
  • This software will allow you to do ANYTHING digitally that you can do on paper and more! You can even change the colors in the digital papers/stickers you have, use a photo in a font, make an image a rubber stamp – so much you can do.
  • You can also use the fonts from your computer.
  • You can upload to CM’s own site to have your books bound ($$$), or save them as .jpgs and upload to several other sites for binding (see above).
  • CM also offers exclusive content for both PC and Mac to be used in either program.

CONS

  • Program is expensive to purchase – $64.95!  And if you upload to the CM photo site, their books are also very expensive.

FREE Content (I have more that I will add in the future)

Any other scrapbookers or crafters out there trying to downsize their supplies? Leave me a comment with more ideas.

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Another Year

I made a vow when I started this blog that I was NOT doing it as something to clutter up my life further.  So, as you may have noticed, weeks may go by where I do not post.  For me and this time period in my life, this is ok.   This blog is a place to leave resources, write about challenges and progress, and most importantly to encourage others to free their lives of any extraneous crap they may find in it. That stuff could be physical, or it could be mental.  And for me, the last few months of the year are always filled with a lot of mental baggage that I do not have room for another project or task. I hope you will forgive me.

Update on our weight loss challenge: I won!  But only because I kept at it, never stopped, and ultimately lost 19 inches overall (but less than 10 lbs). We are working now on a 2nd challenge that will end June 30th. And this time I am concentrating on changing my diet and continuing the exercise routine I have established. Baby steps.

Update on my home and the minimalizing: it’s neverending. Just when I feel I have a room done, or an area under control, new junk moves in. It is an uphill battle that I fight every day.

To anyone newly discovering this blog, welcome! Flit around, see what you like, and enjoy yourself. Got any tips to share?

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Cookbooks

Am I the only one who seems to collect cookbooks? Goodness knows, it’s not intentional. But as I work through my books and kitchen supplies, I realize I have a TON of cookbooks. And I only like probably 10% of the recipes in most of them (and only half of those are healthy!).   Of course, those 10% I can’t find when I want to make something.

Enter ZipList

I discovered this AWESOME little site a few weeks ago and I just have to share it with all of you. It’s called ZipList and is a site for organizing ALL of those recipes you have in books, on little cards, on printouts, or even bookmarked online.  Check out their virtual tour for how it all works.

I’m so jazzed to get what recipes I like up on this site and then get rid of those space-hogging books.    And unclog my web browser bookmarks! I just installed a little button on my toolbar and now if I see a recipe I like – click! And it’s saved to my online Recipe Box in ZipList. Found that recipe card with Grandma’s apple pie? I can add it easily. I can even add the ingredients to my shopping list with another click.

The last two weeks, I’ve used this to help create a meal plan and OMG! So simple. And I actually was able to stick to the plan.

I’m in the market for a smartphone (I need a brain that won’t fail) and will probably get one next week. And ZipList has a mobile app that has all of your recipes, shopping lists right in your hand. And it will scan UPC codes so you always have EXACTLY what you want on your shopping list (big time saver for those who send their significant others or their children shopping!).  And apparently, although I haven’t used this yet, the site is “smart enough” that after several run throughs, it knows what you purchase on a regular basis and will start matching printable coupons for you!

The only negative is that there aren’t any categories yet (Dessert, Appetizer, etc.), but when I asked on ZipList’s Facebook page they said they were working on it. Yay!

I’m still playing with the site, so I’m sure there are a ton of other features that I have yet to discover. But please, go check this out! You can eliminate the paper cookbooks in your life with this site. And I want to say that this post is not sponsored, the links are not affiliate links, and ZipList in no way knows that I’m writing this. I just thought the site was awesome enough that I wanted to share it with EVERYONE (my family is starting to look at me funny when I exclaim about it).

Go check it out!

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This week’s update on Lose to Win: Healthy for the Holidays

(Banner above is courtesy of Kendra at Key Lime Digital Designs - a WAHM of a super-cute little girl. She offers design services, blog design tutorials, and even free printables. Be sure to check her site out. Thank you, Kendra! )

I am down 7.6 lbs – or 3.34%.

This week wasn’t so bad. The weekend was sketchy with feeling like I ate more than I had allotted. And a few mornings it was REALLY hard to get up and workout. But overall, I feel pretty proud of my week.

How are the other girls doing?

  • Rachel – down 0.9%
  • Kristen – down 1.4%
  • Sara – up 0.8%
  • Jessica – a new friend who joined us mid-week – just starting!

And it’s been fun for us to  get together “virtually” and discuss issues we are having, or sharing tips.

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Lose to Win: Healthy for the Holidays

Today is the first day of the weight loss challenge I have started with my (old and new) friends Kristen, Rachel and Sara.  As we’ve been bonding this week over struggles from the past, fears, anxieties and even laughed together, I’ve been thinking that this just may be it. Seriously.

I know this is not a weight loss blog. But for me, my weight is the biggest hindrance, the biggest CLUTTER, in my life. And as I’ve been tackling the ridiculous knick-knacks, overflowing toys, and why-did-I-buy-that clothes, I’ve been ignoring the clutter that everyone else sees when they look at me every day.

Clutter Item #1- The Weight

This weight just drags me down. I am physically exhausted after a day of SITTING at my desk. I can’t play with my children. I can’t enjoy time with my husband. It is strangling me in a lifestyle that I hate.

Clutter Item #2- The Evil Me

I talked about this in my previous post. The Me that tells me all the things that are wrong with me, etc. To get rid of #1, I need to concentrate on #2.

Clutter Item Infinity – the Rest of the Junk I Will No Longer Need

I’m actually most excited about this one. Once I have conquered #1 and #2, then I can finally get rid of: the too-big clothes, the self-help books, the junk in the pantry. And I can dust off the bike I love to ride, the workout clothes, the playset in the backyard, the workout DVDs that I couldn’t part with, and actually start LIVING.

So, today is the beginning.

I weighed in this morning at 227.8.  I will not share the other ladies’ weights. That is their choice to do on their respective blogs. I will share their percentages and how they are doing each week. All of our triumphs, struggles, and encouragement as we work on this challenge.

I would like to lose between 20-30 pounds in the next 12 weeks. But more than anything, I would really like to be able to wear my wedding ring and engagement ring again. Currently, I wear my wedding band on my pinky finger, because that is the only finger on which it fits. And the engagement ring fits on nothing. It has been nearly 5 years since the engagement ring fit (and I’ve only been married for 6 years!) and almost that long for the band. But I’ve refused to get them resized. I would rather “resize” myself!

If When I reach my goal, I would like buy myself an ipod Shuffle. I’ve been wanting one to have music to workout, too, but the money is always needed elsewhere.  Anyone know of any good workout tunes?  Here is my inspiration for this challenge: “This is not your legacy, this is not your destiny. Yesterday does not define you. “

How am I doing this?

I’ve decided that I do need some kind of structure. I’ve been following the Weight Watchers plan on my own for the last month or so (only down about 9 lbs), so I’m going to stick with that.  And I’m following my SEVERAL workout DVDs from Beachbody, starting with Slim in 6, by getting up an hour earlier than usual. Feels good to have a plan.

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Such a thing as Simple Weight Loss?

For the next few months, I am competing in a weight loss contest with a few other bloggers; not necessarily against each other. Mostly against ourselves. And we each set the rewards we want to receive if we reach our goal.

Enter Lose to Win: Healthy for the Holidays and Kristen, Rachel and Sara – three sweet ladies who all have the same goal: to get healthy.  Each week we will be posting on our individual blogs our progress, our struggles, and how the other ladies are doing.

My story: I have been considered obese since I was a child. Honestly. I have suffered the way most overweight children suffer, the teasing, the gym classes, the shunning from classmates. As I came to adulthood, all of that outer abuse has internalized. You know you always tell someone in a bad relationship just to sever ties and get out? How do you do that when the relationship is with yourself? Now I am the one telling myself: You’re terrible. You’re never going to do this. You suck. Why even try? Everyone is just going to nod their heads when you fail and say, “I told you so.”  You don’t even deserve to be thin or beautiful. Do you know how worthless of a person you are?

My focus will be in doing this in the simplest manner possible. It’s not rocket science. Calories in must be less than calories out. But there are some things that will need to be addressed.  And the main one will be severing ties with that Evil Me.

Fear

I am afraid. Of what? I’m not exactly sure. Failure? Having a new life? Finally achieving my dream? Maybe it’s a different kind of fear. I am afraid of my children having this life, this fear.

Living for Myself

Nearly every parent will argue that their children are first in their life, above all else. But just like the airplane emergency procedures say: Take care of yourself first. As I take care of myself, my children will learn and model MY life. If it’s a bad life, that’s what they become. I must change that.

Worry

I worry about everything. But more than anything, I worry about what others are saying and thinking about me. Ironic, isn’t it? As I put my life online for everyone to see. But I worry and I’m afraid that others are thinking, “She’ll never do this. She always gains it back. This is ridiculous. Just watch.” I worry that they’re right.  See how those things I think others are saying are exactly what Evil Me says to myself.

Notice that none of things were issues with food or issues with working out. Except for getting up after very little sleep, I KNOW that those are the things that get it done. I’m not an idiot.

It’s time to do this. Now. Today.

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Project 333: New Season

It’s that time of year again. And while I’m actually excited for it – and just itching to get to my husband’s side of the closet, which I won’t – I’m also not looking forward to the extra time involved. The planning bit seems to take the longest.

Using again the guidelines for Project 333, but tailored to my kids, here’s the list for them for the Fall/Winter:

  1. Winter Coat
  2. Fall Coat
  3. Winter Hat & Gloves*
  4. Snow Pants
  5. Snow Boots*
  6. Shoes – casual
  7. Shoes – dress*
  8. Jeans/Bibs
  9. Jeans/Bibs
  10. Leggings-pants (you know what I mean)
  11. Leggings-pants
  12. Skirt
  13. Skirt
  14. Socks (7 pairs each)
  15. Dress – Nice
  16. Dress – Casual
  17. Dress – Casual
  18. Long-sleeved shirt – “design”
  19. Long-sleeved shirt – “design”
  20. Long-sleeved shirt – “design”
  21. Long-sleeved shirt for layering*
  22. Long-sleeved shirt for layering*
  23. T-shirt
  24. T-shirt
  25. T-shirt
  26. Sweater
  27. Sweatshirt
  28. Leg warmers/Tights (Will be culling some of these. Just don’t wear the baby legs as much as we did).
  29. Hair bows (Will be culling some of these as well)
I’m looking at this list and thinking that this is still way too much stuff. AND rule-wise, I still have some spots left to fill.  The * denotes items that I know I need to pick up for either 1 or both girls.  I’m having a really hard time finding PLAIN long-sleeved shirts to use for layering. Everything has a design of some kind.
And My List:
  1. Winter Coat
  2. Winter Hat & Gloves
  3. Fall Coat
  4. Snow Boots*
  5. Shoes – Casual
  6. Shoes – Work
  7. Shoes – Dress
  8. Boots – Dress*
  9. Socks/Pantyhose/Tights* (I know. I lumped these together. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that I have a hard enough time finding the MATE to the single sock that comes out of the laundry…)
  10. Jeans
  11. Jeans
  12. Dress Pants*
  13. Dress – Casual
  14. Dress – Work
  15. Dress – Nice
  16. Skirt – Casual*
  17. Skirt –  Work*
  18. Shirt – Work
  19. Shirt – Work
  20. Shirt – Work
  21. Shirt – Work
  22. Shirt – Work
  23. Shirt – Casual
  24. Shirt – Casual
  25. Blazer/Jacket – Work
  26. Blazer/Jacket – Casual
  27. Watch (I know! Most people use their phone. But I like my watch. Needs a new band & battery*)
  28. Necklace
  29. Necklace
  30. Necklace
  31. Necklace
  32. Bracelet
  33. Fashion-y Scarf
Wow! That took longer to put together than I had anticipated. I know what I WANT to have now, so need to dive into the closet and make the choices. Clothes-wise it shouldn’t be too bad, because I’ve never been one to hang on to stuff. But to make sure that my shoes and outerwear are  in check took some thought. There are a couple of pieces (*) that I realize I need to pick up, too, for ME.
If you want to read more on paring down your wardrobe, check out these blogs:
Project 333 - the original
Project 36/365 - “A New Fashion Project inspired by Project 333″
Miss Minimalist (she actually writes about more than just minimalist wardrobes. This link is to the wardrobe category, but please – enjoy the rest of her blog! I do!)
One Dress Protest - One woman exploring what fashion means to her by wearing the same dress every day for a year.
What’s your challenge for the new wardrobe season?

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A Post About Vacation

Yesterday I returned to work after 2 weeks off making memories with my family.  (And was welcomed back with 874 emails. Seriously.) While it wasn’t an extensive, every-minute-planned trip, we were able to fit in many, many things.  For the most part, we stayed in our area and took advantage of the attractions we have right in our back door here in the Chicago area.  We were able to:

  • Travel to St. Louis and visit the Zoo
  • Spend quality time with grandparents, aunts & uncles, cousins (#1 & #2 were even able to spend several days with the out-of-state grandparents!)
  • A Day of Rest – DH spent the day on the couch playing video games & watching movies. I went to a local library for some local genealogy research. Both were much anticipated! And took place while the girls were at the grandparents’ house out-of-state.
  • DH & I took a day and went to downtown Chicago alone. Walked the Magnificent Mile, checked out The Bean, and just enjoyed the city.
  • Visited the local Nature Center. The girls loved it! They have a turn-of-the-century farm, complete with house and you can watch the animals, sometimes watch them planting crops or doing “old-fashioned” housework chores.
  • Visited the Shedd Aquarium. One of our favorites.
  • Visited the Museum of Science & Industry. We have a membership. :)
  • Visited the Bristol Renaissance Faire.  While my costume no longer fit (goal for next year!), we dressed the girls up and got so many comments!
  • And we did take one day to load up truckloads (3!) for the local thrift store. But just one day.

And we did have a couple of days at home with the girls. We played dress-up (seriously! You should the pictures of my husband with the fairy wings.) and tried out our new bike trailer.

With the trip to the grandparents’, and the 2 weekend road-trips, I was a bit worried about packing too much for the girls. I ended up packing 4 days worth of clothes for each, with the plan to wash them on the 3rd day (Parents, you know why I have that extra set!) – but just 2 days worth for DH & I.  We fit everything in a large suitcase, plus a “kids’ suitcase” for the diapers (we left the kids’ suitcase with clothes and some diapers in a plastic bag while the kids were at the grandparents. Brought the suitcase home). For the drive to St.Louis, we did pack a cooler for snacks and food, as well as a backpack carrier for #2 while we were at the zoo.  Overall, I felt we had packed just enough. Not too much, and not too little.

Have you made any memories this summer?

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