12-Block Scrapbooking

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I decided to simplify my scrapbooking this year and make all my pages based on a 12-element grid. The instructions will explain how to make two different grids – one with portrait photos (vertical) and one with landscape photos (horizontal). Once you create the 12 elements on your page (choose whichever one will suit your needs better), you can stretch out the elements to also suit your needs.

  1. Insert a rectangle shape. Landscape size: 10.5 wide x 10.7 high. Portrait size: 10.3 wide and 10.9 high.
  2. Cut, Grid, Spacing = 3. Landscape: 3 across, 4 down. Portrait: 4 across, 3 down
  3. Select your binding under View.
  4. Group the 12 elements together and center the grouping on the page. Ungroup.
  5. To change a shape into a photo: Right click on each element, Fill, Convert to photo drop unless you want to decorate the element and/or add a text box for journaling or a title.
  6. Resize the photo drops as needed. As you stretch the elements (grab and drag the little boxes around the perimeter), green lines will appear (if you have the Artisan 5.0) and you will easily see when one photo has taken up the spaces for 4 photos or however many you want to stretch it to. Delete the photos that have been covered and are no longer needed.
  7. Add a background, decorate, journal as usual.
  8. Once the two pages have been created with 12 blocks each, copy them and edit as needed.

The configurations are many! Here are a few that I plan to use:

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I’ve added rounded corners, a 3-D edge and a light shadow to look more like chipboard but that’s all optional. (It was somewhat distressing to discover that rounding the corners isn’t as easy as choosing the same amount for each element – the amount of rounding is relative to the overall size of the element.)

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Yes, I took a picture of the plate but I knew that was an easy title!

Please let me know if you try this method and how it works for you. Of course, I will want to know if something is unclear or incorrect.

A Personalized Sleeve for a Coffee Cup

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coffee cup cover photoI got the idea from Pinterest (of course) to give a Starbucks gift card in a Starbucks cup so that’s exactly what I’m going to give my hairstylist for Christmas. Making a sleeve using Artisan and printing it on brown cardstock adds the finishing touch. I lined the cup with wrinkled brown paper to look like coffee and added cotton balls to look like whipped cream. If you mention to the Starbucks employee, when purchasing a gift card, that you would like a cup and straw for packaging, they are not likely to say no!

coffee cup sleeveDownload this template and make the finished size 10.75″ x 3″ (Right Click, Properties). Add your decoration in the middle, group the elements together (Arrange tab), and, if necessary, Rotate 90 Degrees Clockwise (Arrange tab) so it will fit on standard printer paper. To center it on the page: Home, Align, Center on Page. Then Save, Print (File tab), Print, Current Page, Print. The Christmas tree is from the Digital Variety Kit (I reduced the opacity) and the font for Jenny is Xiomara.

If you want to save it as a shape so you can add a border and/or easily find it to use again, you will have to go through a few more steps. Make the sleeve 10.75″ x 3″. Flatten (Arrange tab). Using the Wand (Cut tab), cut away the background. Click on Outliner (Insert tab), Right Click, Shape, Save As… Give it a name and Save.

When Outlined Text Shapes Overlap

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text shape overlapSometimes, when typing a word using the Text Shape feature (which includes the option of creating a border around each letter), the borders overlap and it doesn’t look quite right. An easy solution is to type the word, a space and type the individual letter(s) that are overlapping.awkard letters one

Zoom in to about 200%, insert a vertical line on one side of the original offending letter and a horizontal line on the top or bottom of the letter. Cut the extra letters away from the original word (Cut, Straight, Straight Edge, OK to flatten, move line between word and extra letter, Keep Both Areas, Cut) and then move the individual letter on top of the word using the alignment markings. awkward letters fixFlatten it all together and it will look all cleaned up!

Note: font is Leokadia Deco

Front & Center

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front and centerWhen working on pages for a book, the binding throws the center off from the left page to the right page. To ensure that your elements are properly centered on each page, create a brightly colored bar that is 11.436″ by .5″ (for a 12 x 12 page) and place it at the top of the page, out of the way. Line it up with the edges of the page excluding the binding.center barNow, for the fussy detailed scrapbookers like me, all the elements can be centered with the bar. If the page is already created and all the elements need to be moved, group them all together (except for the temporary bar and the background) and then line up the grouped elements with the bar using the alignment tool (Arrange tab).

Safeguard Your Scrapbooks!

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Creative Memories/Panstoria/Forever… whatever it’s called now… keeps sending updates. Updates are good because the features improve but the problem is, if you don’t keep up with the updates, eventually you will not be able to print your albums. In case you ever need to reprint an album, the easiest way to recreate it would be to fill the pages with full page photos (jpg files). That’s why creating JPG files is better than saving the pages in whichever software you were using when the album was created.Windows Explorer icon

  1. Select the Windows Explorer icon (drawing of 3 file folders) on your desktop. Plug in your back-up drive and on it, create a folder called “Digital Albums as Photos”. Let’s say you just made an album called “2014 Anniversary Trip to Cancun.” In the “Digital Albums as Photos” folder, make a sub-folder entitled “2014 Trip to Cancun” (right click, New, Folder). Minimize the window.
  2. Open the software used to create this album and then open the project file.
  3. Save the pages to the new folder you just created as follows: File, Save As, Export Multiple Pages, Browse: select the newly created folder, OK, Start names with: use default, Save As: JPG File, Page Range: All (default), Export, Trim Option: Full Page (default), Resolution: Best (default), Image Quality: High (default), OK.  NOTE: I found that a 100-page album took about 30 minutes to save.Fullscreen capture 9302015 100622 AM.bmpFullscreen capture 9302015 100831 AM.bmpFullscreen capture 9302015 100843 AM.bmp
  4. Click on the cover and save it as well. File, Save As, Export current page, Export Page To: file name (should come up by default), Browse: select folder (if necessary), Save As: JPG, File Name: Cover, Save, Trim Option: Full Page (default), Resolution: Best (default), Image Quality: High (default), OK.
  5. Go back to Windows Explorer, open the file “2014 Trip…” select Change your View/More Options in the upper right corner and then select Extra Large Icons.arrow one arrow two Review each page and see if it looks okay. (It’s much faster to click through these image files than go through the pages on the scrapbooking software.) If there is anything you want to change, jot down the page number, go back to the album, make the changes and then save that page as follows: File, Save As, Export current page, Browse: select folder, Save As Type: JPG, double click on the existing page, Replace: Yes, Trim Option: Full page (default), Resolution: Best (default), Image Quality: High (default), OK.

This whole back up process is a good reason to flatten your text boxes (titles and journaling) while you are scrapbooking. If you go back to an older album that you want to back-up, and you’ve lost some fonts along the way (perhaps you have a new computer) then the page will be messed up. If you flatten a text box, then the text cannot be changed so be sure it is exactly the way you want it before flattening.

Google offers unlimited photo storage. My next big project is to upload all of these photos of album pages that I’m saving.

To save photos on Google Photo:

From Gmail, click Google Apps (9 little squares in the upper right corner) and select Photos. photos appClick on the Main Menu (3 little horizontal lines in the upper left corner).main menuSelect Settings and choose High Quality (free unlimited storage).high quality

Click on the Collections (albums) icon.collections Click on the upload photos icon.upload Browse to the folder where the jpg files are, select them (Control A if all photos) and then click Open.

When the files are uploaded, the following message will appear.finished upload

Select Create Album, type the name of the album, Enter, select left arrow to return to the main menu.

To download the pictures: At the main menu select the album, click on More Options, Download All. more optionsdownload allThe album will be in your Downloads folder which can be viewed in Windows Explorer. Double click on the folder for the album. Select a location for the download (little blue box for more options), then OK.save options

If you are recreating an album then simply fill each page with a completed page photo.

Bonus Tip: Take a screen shot of your pages in the album and save this photo with the album page photos. It will make it a lot easier to put the pages in order, should the need arise.

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Sewing Civil Air Patrol Cadet Officer Patches… the easy way!

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Cadet Officer PatchesWhen my son first joined the Civil Air Patrol over seven years ago, I didn’t mind sewing the name tapes and other patches onto his BDU’s. However, that all changed when he earned the Billy Mitchell Award and came home with blue fabric scraps with unfinished edges and a white dot in the middle that I was supposed to form into a square and sew onto his cap and collars. I somehow managed to fold it into the correct shape and pin it in place and get it sewn on but after promoting all the way to Cadet Colonel and having two sets of BDU’s, those officer patches were still a source of frustration for me even as an experienced seamstress and home-ec graduate! I pinned and basted and ironed and even made little templates but every time he promoted, I knew the frustration would return.

It’s been three years since his last promotion but I’m still being asked occasionally to sew on a cadet’s newly earned patches and I gladly donate my time to this organization which has played a huge and positive role in my son’s life. Just the other day, after procrastinating on a BDU sewing job, a brilliant idea popped into my head. What if I were to use fabric adhesive spray to help form the patches and then also use it to keep them in place while sewing? It worked wonderfully! In fact, I sewed three patches in just a few minutes!

Here’s how to do it: Set out a large protective surface (I used poster board). Spray the back side of the patch and fold the top and bottom to the back. Press firmly and hold in place for a few seconds. There is supposed to be a 1/8” blue frame all around the dots (or diamonds) so measuring and ironing it first would help with accuracy.

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Spray the back again and fold the sides in pressing firmly for a few seconds with your fingers.IMG_0746

Carefully following the regulations, spray the back again of the now-folded patch and press it down in the proper place on the uniform.IMG_0747

Stitch around the edge and you are done! If the side has flared a bit and there is some fabric sticking out from under the patch, use a pin to tuck it back in while you are sewing. IMG_0748

The can of adhesive spray was $12.95 and worth every penny. I sure wish I had thought to buy a can the day my son became a Civil Air Patrol cadet officer!IMG_0750

Text Wrapping Trick

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text wrap threeSometimes Text Wrapping just doesn’t seem to do exactly what I want it to. Basically, the text box has to be below the element around which it is wrapped on the Elements list on the left side of the screen. Select both the text box and the element, then select the Format tab, Text Wrapping, Element Shape (or Bounding Box if you prefer but that’s too boxy and defeats the whole purpose, in my opinion), the amount of space between the two elements, OK.

However, sometimes the element does not have nice smooth edges (my dot frame) and this will make the text edge choppy. text wrap oneTo trick the system, make a shape with smooth edges. Select the new shape and the text and set up the text wrapping. text wrap two

When you’re positive that it’s written exactly the way you want it, flatten the text box (you will not be able to make any changes after flattening so you may want to make a copy and set it off to the side first) and then delete the temporary shape.

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Miscellaneous Digital Scrapbooking Tips

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misc1. Need a title idea? Type “Scrapbook Title Ideas” in Pinterest and you’ll find more than you could ever use! There are plenty of lists sorting ideas by theme.

2. Facebook Groups to join if you want tons of ideas: Panstoria, Your Stories Go Digital, Pixels2Pages, Scrap Girls digital scrapbooking.

3. Keep a power strip in your computer bag. You’ll still be able to plug in and scrapbook even if you find yourself in a place with not enough outlets.

4. Two more items for your computer bag: an extra battery if you use a wireless mouse and a spare pair of reading glasses if you use them (I get mine at the dollar store).

Keep Scrapbooking! Dinner’s Cooking!

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Discovering Freezer-to-Crockpot cooking was a huge relief for me! I want to provide healthy, tasty dinners for my family but I also like to keep it simple, not stress every day about dinner and have time to pursue my favorite hobby of scrapbooking. My neighbor recently hosted a meal preparation party and while it was a lot of fun to spend time with others, prepare six meals and laugh a lot, I decided that I wanted to fill my freezer and needed to get this massive project done at home.

My daughter and I prepared 28 meals in about 1 1/2 days. Together with occasionally eating out, leftovers, Sunday Snack Supper and alternate dinner plans, this should get us through the summer. I hope to send my children off to college next month with good memories of good meals!

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Method:

1. Decide which recipes to make and prepare a shopping list. I double each recipe and even triple a few of our favorites. Be sure to include freezer-quality gallon and quart-sized bags on your list as well as slow cooker liners. Two-gallon bags will also come in handy.IMG_0154

2. Label gallon bags for each recipe. Some recipes will also require a quart-size bag or small snack bag to separate some ingredients.

3. Collect the ingredients and place the required amounts into the bags. Placing the bags (with the tops folded down just a bit to keep the zip part clean) in a bowl will keep them standing up. This is especially important when adding liquid.

4. Remove as much air as possible, then lay the bag flat and distribute the ingredients evenly in the bag.

5. Place in the freezer laying flat. The next day, stand the bags up in tubs so you can easily flip through your meals to make your selection!IMG_0156

6. Either select your meal the night before and thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or place it in cold water for several hours the morning of cooking. I keep a two-gallon bag handy for thawing. I place the meal in the large bag and in the sink with cold water but keep the top up and to the side so that water cannot seep in. (Yes, that’s my drying rack keeping the bag in the water seeing as there is some air which makes it all want to float up.)IMG_0151

Handy Tips:

1. Williams Sonoma makes a terrific chopper which creates neat little squares of green peppers, onions and even garlic cloves. I’ve had mine for at least ten years and can’t imagine this much food preparation without it.

2. Hefty makes two-gallon sized bags. These are perfect for meals that have several separate components that won’t all fit into a one-gallon bag. These two-gallon sized bags are also the right size for toting a 12 x 12 book (note the scrapbooking reference!).IMG_0157

3. A crockpot liner will make cooking clean-up easy, peasy.

4. Do the grocery shopping on one day and food preparation the next. When my daughter and I went shopping, we gathered all the pantry items and she checked out and loaded them in the car while I started on the produce and cold ingredients. We placed the refrigerator and freezer groceries in coolers and added ice when we got home so they could stay there overnight.

5.  Wear comfortable shoes and be well-rested to take on this task!

6. For breakfasts, lunches and snacks, prepare a plan to re-use each week. Keep it simple!

7. I use the meal planning app, Meal Board. Here I can import recipes, create menus and print out (or email) the grocery lists and menu plans. I really appreciate the feature of being able to enter recipes on my laptop even though I typically use the app on my iPad.

8. If a recipe calls for shredded chicken, I take the chicken breasts out of the crockpot about a half to one hour before serving and shred them with my Kitchen Aid mixer. It takes less than a minute. I return the chicken to the crockpot until dinner time and immediately wash the bowl and beater.

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9. Don’t lift the lid unless you don’t mind losing 20 minutes of cooking time. A slow cooker should be about one-half to three-fourths full for best results.

These are the recipes we prepared. The Chicken Fajitas are Katie’s favorite. We’ve also had the Balsamic Chicken and the Tender Beef Stew which were also delicious. So far, so good! Many of the recipes suggest serving rice or pasta with the meal but since we shy away from carbs, I typically offer a side salad. I expect that you will discover many other recipes on these blogs. Let me know what you try and whether or not you enjoyed it!

Balsamic Chicken with Olives

Cajun Roast

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Chipotle Beef Tacos

Beef Tacos

Chicken Fajitas

Lemon Chicken

Mexican Chicken Taco Stuffing

Pesto Chicken

Sloppy Joes

Southwest Chicken Soup

Teriyaki Honey Chicken

Tender Beef Stew (Trim Healthy Mama book, Pg 309)

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