Europe 2015

This blog is on vacation this week. Our family of four is taking an adventure of a lifetime right now and I want to make the most of it. I promise to share lots of good stuff when we return. In the meantime, I'll be sharing a few highlights on Instagram. 

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Powerful Phone Photography

I'm preparing for a really big adventure. As in flying over the ocean and going to far off places. I'm not taking my DSLR. I'm not even taking my point-and-shoot. Only my iPhone + a few accessories. 

 

There are many reasons why I've decided to ditch a lot of my equipment and rely on my phone instead. These posts were definitely an inspiration for me in this decision:

 

My gear list:

  • iPhone 6 + retractable charging cord
  • Selfie stick + remote  (so we can all be in the picture)
  • Sony qx100 lens + mini tripod. I completely blame Steph for showing me hers. I could never fathom how the thing worked until I saw it in action. Very cool! There is a less expensive model, but I decided to go for the gusto on this one. So far, I'm really glad I did! With the tripod attached, we can also get group selfies with this lens and I can shoot more steady pictures with a greater range of options.
  • Moment lens attachments (wide & tele) that I bought on Kickstarter last year. They are so small so I figured it didn't hurt to throw them in and they give great results! I also funded the Kickstarter campaign for the moment lens case, but it won't be ready for a few months. Dang!
  • MyCharge portable charger in case I run low on phone battery while I'm on the go.

Even though it looks like quite a list, everything fits very nicely in my medium size purse. Nothing is very big so it will be really portable. No need for a camera bag!

Notice how I used my label maker to identify the cords. It drives me crazy that we need different cords for so many things. Why can't someone make one universal cord that would work for everything?! Anyway, at least I know which one belongs to which device when they are labeled.

And because I don't like messy purses, and I want to protect the lenses, I put everything into little pouches. I'm cool like that.

I ordered the Sony case when I bought the lens and the Moment pouches came with the lenses. I've had my LeSportsac pouch for ages and I love those things. They are so sturdy!

 

Apps I plan to use:

  • Native iPhone camera app and basic editing available in iPhone photos app. I know there are oodles of great apps out there, but so many people overlook that a smartphone comes with great tools already in place. The iPhone camera has improved so much over the years and Android users know that their native camera is amazing. I still use these basic features all the time.
  • VSCOcam is my favorite app for applying filters and beautiful effects. I've tried at least 30 different apps in this category and I always come back to VSCO cam.
  • Mextures is another favorite choice for adding artsy and creative filters. The results are different from VSCOcam, but equally beautiful.
  • Photogene lets you fine tune your photo and also has some nice presets. I like the phone app, but I really love the iPad app. I wish they had the same interface.
  • Play Memories Mobile from Sony is the app to use with the Sony lenses like my qx100 I posted about in the gear section.
  • Instagram for sharing my photos with my followers. I love interacting with people on Instagram and it's a fun place to share the journey.
  • Instaplace for adding title and detail locations. This is fun for social sharing and to use on scrapbook layouts or Project Life pages.
  • Instafood is similar to Instaplace, but it's all about food. That's a big part of the travel experience for me!
  • Instaweather is another one from the same makers of the last two apps I mentioned. I try to get at least one photo in this app from each place I visit to record the weather of the day.
  • Diptych is one of my all-time favorite apps. Great for simple collages and to share more than one photo at once. I use this for social media and for my memory keeping. I've even printed out the collages as a full page layout for my photobooks and they turn out great! 

Those are the apps that make up my photography toolbox. I've spent years refining and narrowing these selections and I finally just deleted A LOT of apps that have been taking up real estate on my iPhone. I love knowing what works for me and I'm really happy with this list.

I do use several other apps for creative projects and mobile memory keeping, but those will come in another post. Stay tuned!

 

 

    a super quick roundup of March 2015

    I try to get my roundup done for the previous month within the first few days of the new month, but I'm falling behind right now. I could stress about it, or I could just take a couple of minutes and jot down the highlights from the month and be done with it. That's how it works...sometimes I can write out a lot of details and get a layout done right away, other times I just make a bullet list and a quick photo collage and call it good.

    I honestly believe that when it comes to memory keeping and journaling that SOMETHING is better than nothing. Seriously. Just write down something!

    March 2015

    • I had a recent tooth filling redone because it cracked within days. At least the dentist repaired it at no charge.
    • My daughter performed with her choir for a concert and she was selected to be one of only two students who got to play some very expensive Tibetan Singing Bowls.
    • We hosted a dinner party and dessert for my daughter and a bunch of friends for a Sadie Hawkins date night. We set out a pretty incredible taco bar and we even wore sombreros. It was a great success!
    • We got to attend two Utah Jazz basketball games and even got to meet a few of the players.
    • My son and I both went to an allergist and found out that we don't actually have any allergies. We do have a fair amount of food intolerances though.
    • I celebrated a birthday with a nice dinner out and some fun presents.
    • My hubby and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. We didn't really do anything fancy to mark the occasion, but we usually don't worry about that. I guess next year we should do something cool for our 25th though.
    • I had a layout published in the Somerset Digital Studio magazine.
    • We had an old friend over for dinner and a visit.
    • Alex and I got to hang out with Steph (of Daily Digi fame) and her kids for a fun day of video gaming and digi scrapping while they were in Utah visiting some family members.

    It was a busy and fun-filled month!

     

     

     

    Funnies to share

    Did you know that April is National Humor Month? I'm all for that kind of celebration because I love a good giggle. If you've been a long time blog reader around here, you will know that I like to collect funny little things on my Humor Pinterest Board. Here are some of my recent favorites:

    Hope you have a fun day!

     

    Fun to follow on Instagram

    This post is really for my Mom because she thinks Instagram is kind of boring. It would be if you weren't following fun people, so I thought I would help her out by suggesting some of my favorites. Maybe some of you feel the same way?


    Some of my favorite accounts to follow:

    • Becky Higgins - who seems to be a master at all things related to social media. I love her Instagram account because I get news about new Project Life goodies, peeks into her everyday life, and great Arizona photographs. She posts a good mix of content that I enjoy.


    • Over App - I'm a big fan of words + beautiful images and I get a lot of ideas from this account. It's like eye candy for me!


    • Persnickety Prints - Chari makes this account so fun and if you have ever met her, that won't surprise you because she is full of positive energy. There are posts about useful phone photography apps, printing tips, upcoming sales, and her own adventures.


    • Kelly Purkey - Her pictures always just make me happy. Her travel and food photos are amazing and her life is fascinating. She's pretty much always traveling. Who does that? She's young, beautiful, and super talented. I live vicariously through her. lol!


    • The Delicious - this is a more recent find for me. I have a thing for food photography and this account is filled with incredible pictures of vibrant and beautiful food.


    • Amy Tangerine - a crafty and inspirational lady who posts about projects that I will probably never make, but I still enjoy looking at. Plus, her little boy Jack is SO cute!


    • Simple Scrapper - Jennifer Wilson recently started an Instagram account for her Simple Scrapper site and I have found some great inspiration there. She shares layouts and simple tips for memory keeping. Very motivating for me.


    • National Geographic - this is probably one of the most diverse feeds I follow and every once in a while, there will be an image about a more difficult topic like poaching. The pictures are just stunning though and I've found a lot of amazing photographers this way. It's good to study the masters!


    • Jim RichardsonNG - one of the photographers I found from the National Geographic feed. Lots of incredible landscapes!


    • Martha Stewart - it's all about the pretty pictures for me. I love the images shared in this account and I study them for photography ideas and inspiration. 



    Other places to find fun people to follow:

    • Real life friends. Nothing is better than following someone you know in person and have a connection with. Make comments on their pictures and respond to their comments. A lot of the "good stuff" of Instagram happens in the comment section of each picture. If their account is marked "private" you may have to send them a request to follow. I always feel a little sheepish doing this unless I know them really well. It's not a big deal though and I can understand why that is a better option for some.


    • Stores and designers you like. In the digital scrapbooking world, I have several stores and designers that I follow. I like to see their work and also get glimpses into their world. It gives you a better connection, more inspiration, and sometimes there are even challenges and contests to participate in. I also have some general stores and brands that I enjoy following like Sanuk footwear and Whole Foods Market. 


    • Celebrities. This is not an area I focus on because I'm not that interested in very many celebrities. If you have some favorites though, it's fun to see their everyday lives. 


    • Explore hashtags. If you have specific interests, the hashtags on Instagram can help you find great people to follow. For my Toy to the World account, I've found others who love LEGO, Harry Potter, and Disney, by clicking on related hashtags or using the search feature to find hashtags on those topics. 


    • Bloggers. If you read someone's blog, you will probably enjoy their Instagram account. I share a few things from my blog on my own account, but I also share a lot more of my personal life there. It's my favorite place to share everyday life and memories! When you visit blogs, look for the Instagram icon.

    Do you have any "must follow" suggestions? I'd love to know!

    Some of my all-time favorites

    Picking favorite layouts is sort of like picking favorite children. I feel the same way about my templates. I've designed a lot of template sets and they are all on sale for a whopping 50% off right now since they won't be making the move to my new shop here. I thought this would be the perfect time for me to share some of my all-time faves and tell you why I love them.

    Each set of templates I have designed is the result of a layout or two I have in my mind. I scrap with every single one of my template sets and they are created because I want to use them. It's just a cool bonus that I can make them available to others to help them with their memories as well. I love hearing from scrappers who tell me that I have helped them find joy in the process of putting together their own pages!

    Scrapbook Lady Stories is one of the sets I have used the most over the past few years. It may seem simple, but these templates set the perfect stage for telling some big stories. I love the big photo spaces and ample room for journaling. Here are a few of my favorite layouts I've created with this set:

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    I have a thing for streamers (sometimes called banners or pennants) on a page. For me, they add just the right finishing touch of whimsy! This set is all about layering fun papers behind some big photos and adding a touch of fun with a banner. Here are some of my favorite layouts I've created with this set:

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    Scrapbook Lady Scenic is one of my earlier sets, but I still love the designs. I have found these templates to be very useful for my travel pictures and I love that the focus is on the photographs. When people look through my pages, I always get a lot of compliments on layouts made with this set. Here are some of my favorites:

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    The Structured set is really one of my favorites, but in all honesty, I haven't sold that many of this them. I'm not sure why since I really do love the designs and I have used them a lot. The one with the framed center is perfect for a title page! I like the versatility of being able to use these templates with or without the included frames. Here are some of my favorite layouts I've created with this set:

    ...

    I'm pretty sure that my Scrapbook Lady Smashing Set is my all time favorite so far. That might seem surprising to some because they are different than a lot of my other sets. They are SO much fun to scrap with though! I feel like I'm smashbooking and piling on the fun right on a digital page. It's easy to include a lot of beautiful papers with photos and/or cards on these pages. Here are some of my favorite layouts I've created with this set:

    I'm curious to know if any of you have some favorite sets? I'd love to know if you want to leave me a comment or send me an email.

     

     

    World Autism Awareness Day

    I don't blog about autism much these days, but it is still part of our life. My own son was diagnosed in 1996 at the age of three. There wasn't much information back then and not a lot of media support. I'm so happy that has changed! I would have never imagined at that time that someday there would be a World Autism Awareness Day and that organizations around the globe would show their support.

    For the sixth year in a row, Autism Speaks will be hosting Light It Up Blue on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. Light It Up Blue is a campaign to honor of people with autism worldwide like myself.  Each year thousands of buildings are lit up and events are held to help with the campaign!

    When my son was diagnosed, he wasn't talking (except to repeat movie lines). He had A LOT of autism (for lack of a better way to put it). Now, he is an amazing young man (age 21) who is highly functional and doesn't even like to be generally referred to as someone with autism. He is a high school graduate, an Eagle Scout, and is working on a college degree online. He loves to write and he has big dreams. He even has his own website. We love him so much and simply cannot imagine him any other way. He is an amazing person and we are incredibly proud of him.

    One of the most important ways to help those with autism (and their families) is to take some time to learn about what it is. Autism is not easy to understand and it's important to realize that it is not the same for everyone. This link will take you to a great resource for explaining autism and finding more information. 

    I'm especially thrilled with the free downloadable pdf that Autism Speaks offers. I would have literally given just about anything to have such a resource back in when my son was diagnosed! The Autism Speaks 100 Day Kit for Newly Diagnosed Families of Young Children was created specifically for families of children ages 4 and under to make the best possible use of the 100 days following their child's diagnosis of autism.

    What else do I want you to know about autism? So much! But most importantly, I want to share that early intervention is the most important thing you can do to help a person with autism. Get a diagnosis as early as possible. Get them in programs that will help them. School, speech therapy, occupational therapy. Whatever you can do. Then keep it up. Never give up. Always do what you can to help that person reach their potential. It makes a difference!