Friday, October 28, 2011

'Tis sweeter to give than to receive (but receiving is pretty sweet, too)

At birthday parties, it is important to keep track of who gave what gift. And it's not just to write a proper thank you note, either. Reminding my daughter who gave her what gift encourages gratitude and helps her maintain relationships with friends and family that she doesn't see every day.

Rather than keeping a list tucked away in a drawer, why not incorporate it into an attractive layout with a picture? Here, I got a shot of her with her arms wide open in delight as everyone sang “Happy Birthday.”

I tried to make the squares resemble presents. To do this, I simply used digital patterned paper that went with the colors in the photo. I scaled them down to a small size. I used the text circle tool to make the title: “Tis sweeter to give than to receive (but receiving is pretty sweet, too).”

When I order the print, I'll hang it on the wall for awhile as a reminder. Then, when I put the page in a book, we'll have a permanent record of who participated in the celebration.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Putting Facebook in a scrapbook

These days, much of our lives take place on social network sites. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but at least I can easily put some of it into our family scrapbook.

I wanted to make a page about what happened on the day my daughter turned three, both in the world and in our family. I included some news headlines and economic data for historical purposes. We also met friends at a playground and had cupcakes (eaten with the candle still intact) and her grandparents celebrated her birthday in Florida without her. It's a little hodgepodge, I know. But the theme was simply October 5, 2011.

Of course, I had to put a picture of my her on Facebook and wish her a happy birthday. Many other friends and family wished her a happy birthday, too. I wanted to include these comments in the layout, and the easiest way to accomplish this was to do a screen shot.

A screen shot is super easy to make. First, hit F11 to make the window full screen. Then hold down Control + “Print Screen.” On my keyboard, it is a little button next to the F12 that says “Prt Scrn.” Then go to the scrapbook page and paste. It's as easy as that.

To get the best resolution for the picture, I pasted my JPEG copy of the photo over the photo within the screen shot. Why use a grainy photo when I have the original copy?

For anyone interested, here is the journaling:

You turn three today. You still love milk and Cherios, but not as much as you love mom, dad, your aunts, and grandma and grandpa. A gallon of milk costs $3.59. A new Honda Odyssey costs $28,225. You could get a 30-year mortgage at 3.8%. Minimum wage is $7.40 per hour. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady makes about $375,000 per game. It was a cloudy day with a high near 67 and a low of 38 degrees. The restaurant Friendly's went bankrupt. Illegal immigrants are granted in-state tuition for state colleges. President Obama is losing popularity and we wonder if he will be on the Democrat ticket next November. The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is 10.8%, and has been over 10% for the last two years. “Contagion” is the biggest movie in the theaters. The iPhone 4S is released. The Red Sox had a bad year and are out of the playoffs, while the Yankees are going strong. The Israelis and Palestinians are still fighting. The world population is slightly under 7,000,000,000. Eighteen people wished you a happy birthday on Facebook, and grandma and grandpa celebrated your birthday without you.

It may seem a little boring now, but in twenty years it will be interesting to look back at what was going on. Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Arranging Photos in Stripes

Making a layout with three or more photos is always a challenge. I don't like to shrink photos because the subject can become too small and can get lost on the page. Instead, I try to crop each photo down to only the most essential part. If nothing else, I'd rather include pieces of photos than simply a collection of miniature images that the viewer can barely see.

So how should one arrange the images on the page? Camera viewfinders are the shape of a rectangle (approximately a 1:1.5 ratio). Yet there is no reason why we have to crop in the shape of a rectangle. In fact, laying all my pages out in a grid would get boring after awhile. Instead, I have found that there are many different ways to arrange photos in a visually pleasing way.

For the layout above, I wanted to show the diversity of terrains we covered back in July on the Franconia Notch ridge trail. Here's my description as it is written on the page:

It was a 9 mile hike that took us almost as many hours to complete. Yet it wasn't like spending the whole day at the gym. On the contrary, it seemed like there was something new around every corner. Covering 4,500 vertical feet, we started in the woods but eventually crossed over the tree line where the air became thin and vegetation sparse. Here is a sample of the variety of scenery we covered, all in a day's hike!

I wanted to include seven images on a two-page spread. I found that by cropping them into strips, I was able to show both my husband and the surrounding scenery. Most of the cropped part was just sky, anyway.

After creating this layout, I read a tip from a photographer that suggested we could create “fake panoramas” by simply cropping your landscape photos like this. That seems a little cheesy, but if you want to call it a panorama, go ahead.

I used the stripe layout for another scene – a merry-go-round. I thought the arrangement worked well to show horizontal motion:

I've also done vertical stripes, such as this layout I did for my son's first birthday this past spring:

There are lots of different ways to arrange photos on a page. I try to think outside of the box (literally) and try all different arrangements. Thanks for looking!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recording "firsts"

Many parents set out out do a baby book when their first child is born. Usually, a baby book is a record of “firsts” --- the first time he rolled over, the first time he crawled, the first word, the first haircut, ect. Yet many good intentions fall to the wayside after a few months, and many parents don't do one at all for subsequent children. So why don't they take a minute or two to write down these events during their precious one's fleeting childhood? My theory is that they get bored. A date is just a number, and numbers by themselves are boring and devoid of meaning.

That's why I try to elaborate just a little, telling a simple story about these important, though inevitable events. It's more fun for me and will be more interesting for my children to read later on. This also helps remind me to get photos of the firsts (though for motor skills, the actual picture may be of the second, third, or fourth but you get the idea).

I snapped a few pictures as my husband cut my son's hair for the first time. I tried to make the title look like a sign that you might see at a barber shop. I just grabbed a generic looking barber shop logo from the internet and added the name above it. Here's the story:

We had decided that your hair had gotten too long when we could barely see your ears. It was kind of a spontaneous event, actually. Your daddy was playing with you in bed and decided to trim "just around the ears." Of course, that turned into a full haircut. Surprisingly, you hardly squirmed at all! In fact, it looked as though you enjoyed being groomed (look how patiently you are waiting in the photo on the left). The only sad part is that you don't look like such a little baby anymore. I kind of miss the whispy ends that you only see on a new head of hair. You definitely have the little boy look now. The cut ended up a little high in the back, but it wasn't bad for the first try. Besides, there is always next time. If your daddy does all your haircuts for the next 17 years, we'll save enough money to send you to college!

Now isn't that much more interesting than just a date? If nothing else, it motivates me to keep a record the firsts, which is what we are supposed to do anyway.