Posts Tagged ‘scrapbooking’

I Heart Smilebox

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

How much fun is this?! My Halloween Smilebox slideshow is featured on the Smilebox blog.

Check it out. I love the other two creations featured on the post, too. There is so much you can do with Smilebox! And it’s a piece of cake.

Make that candy corn.

Paper and Scissors and Glue, Oh My!

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Remember the simple act of pasting a few special photos, a valentine and maybe a flattened carnation corsage into a photo album?

Today, of course, it's a verb: "to scrapbook." And in our
"let's-go-overboard-and-then-fret-about-how-stressed-we-are" age, it's yet one more thing to feel guilty about.

"I sat down and looked at all those boxes of photos, and I just started crying," one friend tells me. "It all seems so overwhelming."

Another friend spends hours at arts-and-crafts stores, buying stickers and pens and assorted doo-dads, which then sit in a shopping bag in her closet because she's too intimidated by the pages in the scrapbooking magazines.

Who can blame us for feeling defeated? These magazines showcase an overwhelming Mardi Gras parade of artistic techniques. Peek-a-boo pages with sliding doors. Folded tea-bag embellishments. Photo kaleidoscopes. And have you tried taking skinny copper wire, rolling it into tiny circles with pliers and making individual daisies? By the way, don't forget the three shades of green raffia, which you'll flatten and twist for the leaves.

Then there are the baby pages. They're simple, really. Just cut your photo into 16 tiny pieces, add 16 pieces of different-colored translucent paper, and reassemble the whole thing to resemble a
gorgeous stained-glass window.

Frankly, I think I'll wait to try these nifty techniques until after my 13-year-old son, Matthew, leaves home for college. (College-spirit pages – with real mini-pom-poms!) Otherwise, I'm afraid I'll spend his childhood yelling, from behind a pile of acid-free card stock, "Can't you play checkers by yourself? I’m busy preserving your memories!"

I have to confess: I do subscribe to the scrapbooking magazines. But I like to read them in much the same way I peruse gourmet cooking magazines. Late in the evening, in bed, I linger over the pictures and read every how-to step. But just as you're not going to catch me leaping out from under my cozy comforter to whip up a Gruyère fondue with caramelized shallots, don't hold your breath looking for pop-up pages or hand-sponged clouds in my family's scrapbook.

Instead, what you will find is the first letter Matthew ever wrote to Santa, along with a photo of a little boy in flannel jammies placing a piece of cake and a can of Coke by the fireplace. And copies of e-mailed stories about Which Witch, a silly witch who plays tricks on children, written especially for Matthew by his grandmother. Nothing fancy here. No witches flying off the page. But those stories are there, safely preserved, for Matt to read to his own grandchildren someday.

Our baby pages aren't elaborate, either, but they hold lasting reminders of a special time: my scribbled list of things to bring to the hospital when I went into labor (what planet was I on when I wrote "playing cards"?), and the page from my husband's calendar where he logged the time and length of every contraction the night before Matthew was born. We also included our short list of names, so that Matt can look at it some day and wonder if life would have been different as a Gregory.

I also cherish the silly, and sometimes creepy, memories of family life with a boy who seems to grow an inch taller with every page I turn: Matthew, at age 3, running around the house with an oven mitt on each hand, pinching his “claws” together and declaring himself “Larry The Lobster.” The Father's Day when Dad received cereal, coffee and the sports page in bed, but only after agreeing to wear a "Cat in the Hat" hat for the duration of breakfast. And the page showing Matt and his not-too-crazy-about-snakes mom each receiving a "Certificate of Bravery" for viewing the live rattlers at the American International Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

My family's scrapbook doesn't stay on a high shelf, away from curious — and yes, potentially sticky — hands. Instead, it sits on our coffee table, always open and filled with purple-painted preschooler handprints, photos of Matthew frosting Daddy's birthday cake and other snippets from our daily lives that will mean more to us, and our grandchildren, than all the twisted-wire daisies in the world.

Smilebox Makes Scrapooking, Greeting Cards, Invitations Easy and Fun

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

Image representing Smilebox as depicted in Cru...I recently discovered a cool new way to create scrapbooks, cards and blog posts with music, movement and more. Check out Here's a sample of what I made today. (And it took a whopping 10 minutes, including importing the photo and choosing music.) Thought it would be a kick to share it with you and to tell you how easy it is to create these projects.

If you're like me, you have tons of photos sitting on your computer, and you'd like to have an easy way to share them with family and friends. Smilebox works with Mac or PC and it lets you easily import photos and music. Check it out:

Click to play Happy Fall!
Create your own greeting - Powered by Smilebox
Make a Smilebox greeting

Have You Embarrassed Your Kid Today?

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

I just found this photo in a drawer and it cracked me up. I was about 17 when it was taken. What were we thinking with those perms? I guess I was channeling my inner Roseanne Roseannadanna from Saturday Night Live. (See a great 1980 bit from “Gilda Live,” below).

The thing that hit me the most was the fact that the current generation of kids and teens is the most-photographed bunch of children in the history of the planet. And we parents have a lot more photos of ourselves as kids than our parents ever had.

Now that photography has gone digital, it’s easier than ever to shoot, and shoot and shoot (because nothing’s cuter than our kids, right?). I know my son will go into adulthood with his entire childhood pretty darned well documented.

In fact, Matt asked me to stop scrapbooking in actual albums a few years ago because he didn’t want to have to “lug the things around with me after you’re gone, Mom.” (Gee, thanks, kid!) Instead, he wondered “Can’t you just put all my photos on a thumb drive and hand it to me?”

These days, I guess I can. But I’ll also make sure I scan and include a few ancient photos of Matt’s dear old mom and dad (and the rest of his extended family, too). Besides, it’s fun to have him look at pics like this (when he’s at an age where my mere existence is an embarrassment to him) and hear him say “that’s just weird, Mom.”

That’s me, kid. Just doin’ my job.

Get Thee Behind Me, Cheesecake!

Monday, February 4th, 2008

How do you spell S-T-R-E-S-S?

My son, Matt, was fighting a cold this morning and trudged off to school looking like a doomed man. I had to take the dog to the vet. And then I had one of those work mornings I’d just as soon bury in the back yard…

But there was no time for pity parties. I had a lunch date scheduled with my friend Robi, who deserved to have a happy lunch companion for her BIRTHDAY lunch, for crying in the soup! Clearly, it was no time to actually cry in my soup.

But as I was driving to meet her at the Cheesecake Factory, where I usually order something diet-worthy, like the luncheon-potion grilled salmon, I was overcome by an urge to eat cheesecake. A BIG piece of CHOCOLATE cheesecake. Because (say it with me now) I DESERVED IT.

You know the drill: Stressed-out mom has a tough day and decides to indulge in something that (a) doesn’t talk back, (b) provides unconditional comfort (at least until I try to fit into my jeans or I need an angioplasty) and (c) makes me happy.

Well, let’s hear it for the power of friendship. Robi actually encouraged me to whine a bit over my salmon. (What a pal.) Then we went on to talk about everything from scrapbooking to writers’ conferences. Some things are even better — and certainly better for me — than scarfing down a huge wedge of cheesecake.

I ended up bringing home a slice for my son as a special treat. (He’s on the swim team and burns calories like crazy, but I don’t even let him eat stuff like this all that often.) I checked out the nutrition information later and learned that one slice of the Cheesecake Factory’s chocolate mousse cheesecake is (get this!) 780 calories and 55 grams of fat. Yowza.

Thanks to my Robi-therapy, I didn’t rip open the to-go box and down the whole thing in the car on the way home.

And when he sat down for his after-school treat, Matt noticed that the edges had only been slightly evened up.

To follow this mom’s weight-loss journey from the
beginning, just click on "Weight Loss" on the "Categories" list at
right and scroll down.


10 Ways to Make Holiday Thank You Notes Fun

Saturday, December 1st, 2007

It’s that time of year again, when a nagging thought stirs the minds of moms everywhere: Did the kids write their thank you notes yet?

And no, you’re not the only mom on the block who puts her foot down and declares “You can’t play with that toy until you write the thank you note!”

Try these tips to make this holiday task a lot more fun.

°    Start a tradition. “Trace your child’s hand on construction paper and cut it out to make a thank you card,” suggests Stacy DeBroff, founder of Be sure to include the date. Family and friends will look forward to watching the note increase in size each year.

°    Help younger kids get creative.
Purchase colorful note paper, pens, glitter, stickers and stamps and help little ones make their own cards. Their original works of art will be treasured by the recipient as much as the scribbled “Thanks for the Barbie doll, Aunt Jennifer!” will be. Or visit, where your child’s drawing can be made into a set of 20 note cards.

°        Make movie magic.
Videotape your child saying “thanks” and talking about the gift. Then download the tape to your computer and burn a CD to send, suggests Jennifer Bogda Lomeli, the mother of a 12-year-old son who loves to create these. (No CD burner on your computer? No problem. Just bring the tape to your local photo shop and they’ll create the CD for you.)

°    Go high-tech. Let older kids use computer software to design and write their own notes, suggests etiquette expert Sharon Naylor. “Using software such as PrintingPress ($29.99) gives them tons of graphics ideas, fonts — even the ability to create their own monograms,” says Naylor.

°    Create a reminder sheet. Elaine Fantle Shimberg, mother of five grown children and author of Blending Families (Berkley Books) swears by the “rule sheet” that served as a reminder for her kids when writing thank you notes:
1.    Say thank you for the gift and mention it by name.
2.    Mention what you’re going to do with the gift.
3.    Write something about what you’re doing in school, sports or other activities.

°    Think of the recipient. “I want to motivate my girls to write meaningful notes,” says mom Eve Curran. “When we receive thank you notes from other people, I put them on our table so everyone can look at them during mealtime. I often read them and we talk about what we sent and what the person said,” she adds. “I hope this process will remind them, when they are writing, what it is like to be the recipient. Hopefully that will encourage them to put a little extra effort into their notes.”
°    Make it personal — even when the gift isn’t.
When her 16-year-old son received all cash gifts one year (not that he complained!), Sue Poremba suggested he send a note that focused on the people giving the gift, not on the cash itself. With that advice as a guideline, “he wrote the notes in no time,” she says. Of course, when receiving cash or gift cards (an increasingly popular option once kids turn 10 or so) kids also should be sure to mention how they plan to spend the gift.

°    Play show and tell. Ask younger children to draw a big heart on construction paper. Write “Thank You!” in bold letters next to it. Take a picture of your child holding the construction- paper “card” in front of her, and then write a quick note, right on the photo (Example: “Thanks so much for the adorable stuffed bunny. Amy loves it!”) with a photo-marker pen (available at scrapbooking and crafts stores). Let older kids create their own photo shoot, including the recipient holding or using the gift, suggests mom Kay Day. “When my girls were younger, they’d take special pictures and include one in each thank you note,” she says. “Part of the fun for them was getting all dressed up.”

°     Embellish a little. “My 14-year-old daughter’s English teacher taught the class to embellish a bit when writing thank you notes; to say something like ‘Thank you for the pretty top. I plan on wearing it to the Rolling Stones concert with my mom,’” says Melanie Shepherd. “We gave the teacher a knitted scarf for Christmas, and her thank you note mentioned how she enjoyed wearing it while on vacation in Texas because it was so cold. What a great example to set for the kids!”

°    Remember the address labels. My son’s enthusiasm for writing thank you notes increased when he received his own set of baseball-themed address labels. Current and Colorful Images offer inexpensive labels with kid-friendly themes.

One more thing… Be sure to make thank-you-note writing a family affair and take this time to sit with your kids and write your own notes, too. Don’t forget the holiday music, cookies and cocoa!