Scrappy Saturday: Framed

Getting ready for Scanfest.

On the last Sunday of every month, genealogists and others set aside a few hours for Scanfest. We gather our old photos and documents, set up our scanners and scan away while we chat online. It’s a good practice to scan as much as you can, for preservation purposes at the very least. Having the scheduled time set aside to do so helps me to make sure I get it done.

This past Sunday, I decided to take all of my old family photos out of their frames and scan them. I was dismayed to discover that a photo of my grandma, my mom and one of my aunts appeared to have moisture damage. The bottom of the picture has the tell-tale warp of one that’s gotten wet.

The photo won't lay flat due to moisture damage.

On the back of the frame, I noticed what look like mildew spots. Perhaps this photo was stored in a box that got wet or was simply on display in an environment with high humidity.

In the bottom-left corner are mildew spots.

Closer shot of the mildew damage.

I scanned the photo and decided to ditch at least the back of its original frame, plus the cardboard pieces that were used to stabilize the photo in the frame. I put the photo (which I think may actually be a scan and not the original) into a photo-safe storage box until I can find a new frame for it.

When you find photos like this, it’s best not to put them back in the same environment that caused the damage. You should try to isolate the damaged photo from other materials because it may still retain moisture that can spread to other photos and papers if you are not careful.

In general, it’s best to keep photos, books and documents in a place without temperature fluctuations and with low humidity. Since that is not always possible, I recommend setting aside time to scan your family photos and other heirlooms. At the very least, you may want to take inventory of the older photos/frames that you have and check them for moisture, dust and other damage that could be causing your photos to deteriorate.

If you are interested in joining a future Scanfest, watch the AnceStories blog for the announcement of the next session and a link to the chatroom. Scanfest usually takes place from 2-5 p.m. EST/11 a.m.-1 p.m. PST.

Scrappy Saturday: Free Stuff!

Free Googley Eye Download from Creative Memories

Need I say more? For those into digital scrapbooking, Creative Memories offers a plethora of free doo-dads you can add to your pages and other digital projects. Be sure to click on the images in each post on their Digital Freebies page to bring up the high-res versions before you download them.

But, wait! There’s more. (Said in my hokeyest TV announcer voice). You can try their digital scrapbooking software for free too! Try it before you buy it. Download the free software here.

Already hooked on digitial? Then I highly recommend investing in Storybook Creator Plus 3.0 — it’s got lots of new features that make the original version that much easier to use and offers a lot more capability. Purchase it to download direct to your PC here.

As always, if you have questions about any of CM’s products, contact me!

52 Weeks to a Better Genealogy, Challenge #3

I’m a wee bit late for WeTree’s Week 3 challenge: “Assess yourself! You’re great at researching everyone else’s history, but how much of your own have you recorded? Do an assessment of your personal records and timeline events to ensure your own life is as well-documented as that of your ancestors. If you have a genealogy blog, write about the status of your own research and steps you may take to fill gaps and document your own life.”

I jumped into my family’s genealogy about 5 years ago, whilst assembling a scrapbook about my father’s life. But I really do need to do a better job of organizing my personal documents, photos and other stuff.

The good news is that there is plenty of stuff to organize. One of the saddest things that a genealogist faces is a lack of artifacts and sources to work with. Not so with my life! I was quite the packrat in my childhood. Sure, I’ve purged a lot over the past decade or so, but there’s still plenty left to document my life thus far.

I’m slowly starting to take apart the old magnetic and other albums that store my childhood photos. These I’m organizing into photo-safe scrapbooks from Creative Memories. Some will be traditional scrapbooks and some will be digital (using scans of photos). Others are more like traditional photo albums (you slip the photos into individual sleeves rather than laying them out on 12×12 or 8×8 pages). This latter option can be put together much faster, but journaling boxes and other scrapbooking materials can also be incorporated to tell stories and add fun touches to the photo pages.

I still have items like my childhood medical records, my elementary school ephemera, my high school and college newspaper clippings and more. These will have to be stored carefully as many of the items are very fragile. Luckily, Creative Memories has many options to help me with this endeavor as well.

This organization and preservation process doesn’t happen overnight, but the results will be well-worth it years from now when my personal history is still in good shape. Some might see this type of project as a chore, but I enjoy stirring up old memories as I go through old photo albums and create new ones.

Still not convinced you want to take on a project like preserving your own history? Then I’m here to help you. Drop me a line!

Scrappy Saturday: Traditional Scrapbooking Ideas

CM Traditional Challenge #1 Example

Last week, I posted about getting into digital scrapbooking via Creative Memories’ digital challenges. For those who hold physical trimmers and paper near and dear, there are also plenty of options.

CM’s Project Center has a section devoted to traditional scrapbooking, including a Project Idea of the Day. The projects include traditional scrapbook pages and other ways to use CM’s materials.

CM has also started a challenge series for traditional scrapbooking. Challenge #1 was posted on Facebook just this week.

As always, please contact me if you have questions about CM products!

Scrappy Saturday: Go Digital with CM’s Digi Challenges

I’m going to try a new blogging theme–Scrappy Saturday–to let you all know what’s out there for those interested in either digital or traditional scrapbooking. This week, my focus is getting into digital scrapbooking by participating in various online challenges being run by Creative Memories.

What you’ll need:

* try it before you buy it by downloading a free version first!

You can find out about ongoing Digi Challenges by following the CM team on Facebook. Check out their Events tab for the current challenges.

I’m participating in the 365 Project: I take at least one photo everyday and then create a one- or two-page spread at the end of the week. At the end of the year, I’ll have all of the highlights of 2010 ready to publish as a Storybook.

If that sounds daunting, there are plent of mini challenges you can participate in to get the feel for digital scrapbooking. These challenges are a great way to get to know the software and the different capabilities that are there for designing your own pages and using existing designs.

My response to Digi Challenge #9

I recently completed Digi Challenge #9. A layout was provided and all I needed was to select two of my photos to include. I got to pick 4 different papers and 3 embellishments to complement the photos. Then, I needed to fill in one journaling box and I was done. It’s fun to see how others responded to the challenge as well.

If you’ve been thinking about trying digital scrapbooking, but don’t know where to start, try out one of these challenges and see where it takes you. Digital scrapbooking is fast and easy. You can more easily share the results of your digital creations with far-flung friends and relatives than you can with a traditional scrapbook.

One extra benefit to using CM’s digital scrapbooking software is that you create archived versions of your photos and designs with their system almost without having to think about it. By regularly backing up your CM files, you’ll ensure your memories are safe for years to come.

If you have questions about CM’s digital scrapbooking products, please drop me a note!

Christmas Cards

This is post #4 in the GeneaBloggers Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.

Today’s Advent Calendar prompt asks: “Did your family send cards? Did your family display the ones they received? Do you still send Christmas cards? Do you have any cards from your ancestors?”

I don’t really remember my mom sending out a bunch of Christmas cards every single year. I started doing this myself after college — I found it was a nice way to stay in touch with folks after moving away from my home state.

I went through some childhood mementos to see if I could find any Christmas cards that I received as a child. Instead, I found the gem below, which my mom helpfully labeled “Melissa’s Christmas Card to Santa 1980″ (I was 4).

Xmas Card to Santa 1980

I remember those stickers vividly — actually they were stamps and had to be licked to make them adhere to the paper. Mom used to stick them on gift tags she attached to Christmas presents. I distinctly remember licking those stamps while sitting at a tiny white table I had in my playroom in the basement of the house we lived in at that time. Perhaps I’m remembering making this exact card? I can only assume that the letters at the top were my attempt to sign my name…

From a genealogical perspective, this card has more than sentimental value. You may be able to tell from the scan that there’s also a drawing (actually, a watercolor painting, also by moi) on the reverse side. Turns out, the picture on the back and this card were made using a piece of my dad’s medical office stationary* and his office address is printed on the reverse.

After many years of buying Christmas cards that only required me to include a quick note and to sign my name, I’m making my own cards again this year. I’d like to think my technique has improved a bit — I’m still using plenty of stickers though! See below for some examples. The materials came from this year’s featured project by Creative Memories.

Handmade Xmas Cards 2009

*My parents embraced recycling early — in addition to stray pieces of stationary, my dad would bring home reams and reams of discarded EKG printouts from the medical offices where he worked. Many a drawing was done on the back of these printouts — my sister and I were still using them for scratch paper years after he retired.

2010 Calendar How-To

You can create a beautiful 2010 calendar in about 30 minutes with Creative Memories StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0. Below is a step-by-step guide for creating a traditional calendar. You can also use the predesigned pages in the software or create your own embellished pages for more intricate designs. Each calendar page is perforated so you can remove the 12×12 photo after the month is over and add it to a scrapbook, album or wall display. Click on the photos below for larger versions.

select-12x18calendar-smStep 1 — Create a New Project: Open StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0 and select “Create a new project.” Choose “12×18 Calendar” under project type and then select your preferred format (predesigned or basic). Click Next.

add-photos-smStep 2 — Add Your Photos: In the next step, you will select your photos for including in the project. Hold down the CTRL button to select multiple photos at the same time. Click “Get selected photos.”

selected-photos-smSelect Next.

insert-from-memmgr-smAlternatively, you can load photos from Memory Manager. To select photos from Memory Manager, create the project and then select the Insert tab at the top of the window. Click the Photo icon and select “From Memory Manager 3.0.” Follow the prompts to insert photos onto the pages of your project.

name-project-smStep 3 — Name Your Project: Give your project a name, select the location where it will be saved and click Create.

blank-project-smStep 4 — Design Your Calendar: Now you’re ready to dig in. Before you is the January 2010 page. Click on the Photos tab in the right-hand window.

insert-photo-smDrag the desired photo(s) to your calendar page and arrange. Resize, if needed, by clicking and dragging the corners of each image.

aspect-ratio-smUse the Aspect Ratio menu to reshape the photo to fit the square shape of the page by right-clicking on the photo, selecting “Aspect ratio” and clicking on Square.

insert-textbox-smStep 5 — Add Important Dates: Customize your calendar by writing in birthdays, holidays and other special information. Use the zoom bar in the bottom-left corner of the window to zoom in on the days of the month. Insert a text box by selecting the Insert tab at the top of the screen and clicking on Text. Drag the box to the desired location and resize.

resize-text-smDouble-click on the text box and type in your information. To resize the text, highlight the text with your mouse. Select the “Format Text” tab at the top of the window. Click on the text-size button and select the desired text size.

finished-calendar-smStep 6 — Repeat: Save your work by clicking on the Save button at the top of the design window. Click on the Pages tab in the right-hand window and select the next page in your calendar. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 for each month.

click-order-smStep 7 — Order Your Calendar: Click on the Home tab at the top of the window. Select the Order icon and click “Order this project online.” You will have an opportunity to preview your calendar. You then will be asked to log in to the Creative Memories Digital Center (you can create a new account if you don’t have one already). If you are asked for a Creative Memories Consultant ID number, please enter 65148777.

order-smThe CM Digital Center will open in your browser window once you login. Click on My Projects and select Calendars. You should now see the Calendar you just created in StoryBook Creator Plus 3.0. Select it and click on “Add to Cart & Checkout.” Follow the prompts to complete your purchase.

Visit my Creative Memories site for more digital and traditional scrapbooking ideas and products. Questions? Email me!