Saturday 16 January 2016

Guest Designer for More Than Words!
Challenge Blog - Lover of Life Layout

Hi everyone!  Today I am Guest Designing over at the new challenge blog
"More than Words" started up by 6 of my ex-Scrap Around The World Designers
 due to SATW closing down.  I am so delighted to have been chosen as their first Guest!

Their first January 2016 challenge is to use a SELFIE!  Along with that you need to take 
your inspiration from the word PERSONALITY!!  With that in mind I created this page
with everything that appealed to me at the time!  I love misting the old way, without
the watercolour look, so I grabbed a sheet of white cardstock I had tested some
mist on & started with that, overlaying it with my favourite grey ink & my
current favourite Prima background stamp.  I figured using my 
FAVOURITE PRODUCTS was a sure fire way to infuse
my PERSONALITY into my work!

I am also crazy about loopy threads right now & flowers are my FOREVER FAVOURITE!
I also added any words that came to mind to describe me, around the photos.  
Of course I used my signature staples & my typical double-photo diagonal 
design - because I wanted this layout to be a reflection of ME!
And that's my favourite way to design a layout!!

Of course there are loads of unflattering words to describe me too (at my worst LOL) 
but that is more for art journaling!  For layouts I do my best to focus on the positives!
I really can't remember where I got that cameo above but HOW PERFECT?!?
The woman looking into the mirror really reflects the selfie theme!!

Despite all the words around the page my journaling of "Lover of Life" is what I've chosen
 as the title for my page as it really sums me up.  I make fun happen out of every day 
situations because the truth is my life is not amazing or exciting but I learnt years ago
 that it really is the little things that count - so I use my favourite china at each meal 
& treat my family as often as I can!  Every day is a celebration in our household!

The alphas come from the Royal Menagerie Collection by Prima and are full of fun colours
 & different designs, all on the same sheet, which I think is a great idea as it makes it easy-
peasy to get the eclectic look without digging about for various different alpha sheets!

My paper layers are all Prima offcuts from different papers over the years, that I keep in one
bag.  I just love creating using what I can get hold of easily, lying about around my desk.
It really takes the "schlep" out of scrapbooking & infuses the creative fun, which makes
the process enjoyable rather than a chore.  Now on a more serious note...

Please support these ladies.  
They have worked very hard to bring you a great new challenge site.  
They were great key players in my administration team at Scrap Around The World 
& I fully endorse their new venture.  My 2016 is going to be uncertain & I don't know
 what it will hold.  Moving to a new country as I am doing next month is a very stressful 
exercise & that, coupled with working full time & getting my 4 kids sorted out, 2 with us
 & 2 away from home, was my main reason for closing SATW down at the end of 2015.

I didn't want to not be able to run SATW the way it needed to be run - with close attention to 
details, organisation & presentation, & I can't promise that kind of commitment any longer.  

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Happy New Year! My OLW {One Little Word}
A Scrapbooking Class, Some Vacation Photos
& Some Basic Picasa Photo Editing {& Taking} Advice!

Well Hello there!  Yes I know Christmas is over & all that but finally, after 3 weeks offline,
with only my iphone, NO wifi & very little mobile data signal, I am BACK ONLINE!  
albeit only for the next 24 hours!!  In Africa you have to be grateful for what
you can get LOL!!!  

I have chosen STRENGTH as my OLW {One Little Word} for 2016.  Although I am not a 
fully convinced fan of the OLW it certainly can't hurt to select a word & keep it in mind!
This year I am going to need all the strength I can get!!  I have a plane ticket booked
for next month & a busy time after that exploring England deciding where to settle!!

Almost as soon as we arrived in Cape Town {where we still are right now}  I taught
 a scrapbooking class.  I had pre-arranged it months in advance, together with a 
very lovely lady called Ann Ledgerwood, & she hosted the class at her home. 
 There were 8 ladies to teach & I hope they all had as much fun as I did.  

It was a mixed media scrapbook page & I taught techniques of misting, how to make
 your own, how to keep your paper from warping, balance & composition & how
 to successfully achieve a cluster.  The ladies achieved some lovely results
& my daughter was kind enough to join us to help clean & take photos :)

I haven't taken a lot of photos at all.  I actually go away on holiday to NOT take photos!
I take photos almost every day of the week all year so am happy to take a break!!
I also HATE bad photos & making people feel uncomfortable when we are out
in large groups &, even more than that, I hate photos with ugly backgrounds :/

So here are just a few... along with some basic Picasa Photo Editing Hacks.
So for anyone who doesn't know {that would be ME 8 years ago!!!}
Download Picasa for free HERE then go through your settings to
ensure everything is as you like it.  

This is how mine looks - just to give you an idea!  What is imperative at the very
 beginning is that you spend some {a LOT} of time renaming your files if necessary
 {unless you already have a system}.  I name my files according to the year {J is for
 2015 - A was the year I first went digital - 2005!}, followed by the month.  For example - 
January is 1, February is 2, etc - up until October, which is 10.  Then for November 
& December I also name them 10, because if I name them 11  & 12 they come up
 after January & before February!!  This way I can find what I am looking for with ease. 

Once you have a good filing system in place & you can find all your photos you can start 
playing with the editing functions.  Remember Picasa is downloaded from the web but it
 is not web based, so you can use it whenever you like, you do not have to be online. 
 It is also just a mirror of your ''My Pictures" /Photo Library, etc so you will also 
always have your photos stored there too.  

Don't bother using Picasa for editing your phone photos.  There are plenty of good options for those online that you can use straight from your device.  I like to hand my DSLR camera around at family functions & see what people come up with.  Takes the pressure off me & makes everyone feel like a professional
 photographer.  I take for granted the fact that I own an amazing camera but others don't & are 
delighted to hold it & click, SO I have to change my manual settings to AUTO, which means there's
 not a lot of point using it really, so I need Picasa to rescue the best of a usually bad bunch!

If out at a big family function find a white wall & encourage everyone to use that backdrop
for having some camera fun.  At least that way you can play with the sliders in Picasa
& push up the highlights to smooth out the background.  Not ideal but the photos
take on a funky, modern look which makes them great for scrapbooking!


 Text is another fun option in Picasa.  There are plenty enough good options & colours
as well as 2 tone on all of them, & you can pull the text box around, increase or
decrease the size, as well as making multiple text boxes by saving each one
separately as you go along.  That way you can have more than one font per
 photo.  Borders are something else I enjoy adding, as I print my own
 photos. {Makes cutting a lot simpler having a line to follow!}

You can also choose your photo sizes, as well as creating your own custom sizes
 & saving them under their own name for future use, or simply using the Manual
 sizing,with no dimensions.  To edit any photos simply RIGHT CLICK & select
VIEW & EDIT (the top option) or DELETE FROM DISK if you don't want them.

Then of course there is the famous Picasa Collage option!  To utilise this option
edit all your photos FIRST & crop them down to the right sizes.  Choosing similar
 sized photos makes for a better looking collage, as well as sticking to 3 - 5 photos, 
otherwise the photos end up looking too small.  If this does happen you can simply
 pull the photos you don't want OUT, as well as dragging the photos around,within
 the collage, to re-order them.  You can also click at the bottom for the basic grid 
structure of the collage to rearrange itself in all the possible configurations.  

Black & white is another great photo saver.  Everyone looks better in black & white!
Try it & you'll see!!  This works especially well when people have wrinkles or
rosacea LOL!!  Rather than simply selecting BW I prefer to move the sliders
manually myself & adjust the light & shadows for a bit more drama!!!

When things are really sunny do your best to get the crowd into the shade.  If not 
possible remember that the character of family photos is more important than
 the technology!  Notice my daughter's face above, with shadow across!! 
Do spend a little time arranging your crowd & trying to get the tallies in 
the middle & the shorties at the sides.  Also get everyone to squash
together & look out for mobile phones, wallets, etc.  Get people to
hide these behind their backs!  Arms around each other works well.

I remember when I first started using Picasa 8 years ago & worked through all the teething
problems, someone sent me a Facebook message & asked me to please email them to tell
them how to do it!  I replied politely, saying that that would really be impossible but if
they ever needed help with a specific thing they should get in touch.  They've never
spoken to me since LOL!  Oh win some you lose some :-p

{Can you imagine sending someone an email explaining 
how to use a software program?! I could write a book on it!!}