Sunday, July 29, 2007

Family Walkin' Shirts

The Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk® events are coming up in the next few weeks. If you plan to participate in a walk to support this cause that is (or should be) very near and dear to the heart of every family historian, you'll want to wear team (family) t-shirts. I know you think this may sound corny but believe me you'll feel like the poor relation if you/your team shows up for the walk without them. For some (families), it's about remembering their loved one who's suffered from this dreaded disease. For others (businesses or organizations), it's about joining together to support the community and/or the Alzheimer's Association. Regardless of why you participate in the walk you'll look ever so much more "with it" if you and yours have a t-shirt to wear. It's sort of a badge of pride so to speak.

Creating a custom t-shirt is really easy to do. Let's look at the simple steps involved...

  • Register for the Memory Walk event near you. Once you do you'll be given contact information for a coordinator near you.

  • Call or email your local coordinator and ask them to send you the Memory Walk logo art. These are JPG files easily sent by email.

  • For a family t-shirt, pull up one or more of your favorite family photos in your photo editing program of choice (I recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 ), add the name of your loved one or your family, add the Memory Walk logo, and save your file.

  • For a business or organization team t-shirt, get a copy of your company or organization's logo and open it in your photo editing software, add a snappy saying like "Boy Scout Troop 123 is taking steps to end Alzheimer's Disease" along with the Memory Walk logo and save the file.

  • Go to Click on "Make Your Own Stuff" and follow the simple steps to create your t-shirts. Then you can order them for all of your family or save the artwork in your own (free) store for the members of your business or organization to order up themselves.
It's just that easy! But you should get started on the project now because you know how things have a tendency to go wonky when you're right up against a deadline ;-)

And here's a bit of sage advice for you, be careful about copyright infringement. I created a piece of artwork loosely based on the I Love Lucy TV show (my mom's name was Lucy). I'll show it here as an example of what not to do. Now personally, I didn't think it was all that similar to the show's logo but I guess I'm a better graphic artist than I thought ;-) The folks at CafePress refused the order on the basis of possible copyright infringement.
So I had to alter the artwork a bit and the shirts ended up looking like this.

I'll be walking in the Memory Walk in my area on August 25th along with several of my family members. We're supporting the cause and I encourage you to get involved also. If you'd like to read why I'm supporting the cause you can do so here. If you don't want to walk yourself or can't, consider sponsoring a walker. We'd appreciate your support!

Get creative with your genealogy and support a worthwhile cause while you're at it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking Magazine, 3 Issues Online

If you're just getting started with digital scrapbooking, there's no doubt a lot you still don't know. When I'm in that situation I always look for "how to" sources to help me understand what's what. Sometimes it's easy to find tutorials that deal with the stuff you don't understand, but sometimes a book or magazine works out better. If you'd like to check out some issues of a magazine on digital scrapbooking, you're in luck. Digital Scrapbooking magazine has put three complete (past) issues online for you to read, print, or share (email) with friends. I've looked through one of them and found it very informative and inspiring. As soon as I can make the time I'm going to go through the other two. Check them out here.

Get creative with your genealogy!

(Thanks to Hummie for the tip.)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking, Anyone Can Do It!

When genealogy is your primary hobby, you generally don't have much time left over for other endeavors. That's just the kind of hobby genealogy is... time consuming and addictive. So I realize that introducing the idea of digital scrapbooking (another hobby that can be time consuming and addictive) to my fellow genealogists is bound to get a tepid reception. You may like the results of sample scrapbook pages you've seen but you don't think you have time to start creating pages of your own. I know just what you mean! Really. You probably think you don't have enough creative ability to make up the pretty pages with all the fancy doo-dads either. Here's my confession... I've had those thoughts too. But you can put together pages that look great in a very short period of time. And I'm going to tell you how.

Introducing... QPs! (aka Quick Pages). The digital scrapbooking folks have made it so easy for us by not only creating kits with color and design coordinated papers and elements/embellishments, they've even taken those papers and elements and put them together in ready-to-use pages! Is that cool, or what? I'm not kidding here. The pages are all designed (and look terrific!) and ready to use. All you have to do is add your photo and your personal journaling (an expanded caption) and you've got one dynamite page! Take a look at this one...

Now you can't tell me that isn't a page to be proud of. Come on admit it, it's gorgeous! I'd love to claim the credit for it but I didn't create any of it. This quick page was created by "Olga 9999" using a kit called Eastern Spice which was designed by the very talented Julie Olree, of the Stone Accents blog. Now here's the thing. It's a free download just the way you see it except that it doesn't come with a photo (you have to supply your own) and the note card's lines are blank... just waiting for you to write on them. All you have to do is download the file (which you can find here), un-"zip" it (it's a PNG file), and open it in PSE or Photoshop. Then you import the photo you want to use and drop it to a layer beneath the quick page layer. Align the photo as you like in the transparent "window" of the quick page, type the information you'd like to add on a layer above the quick page and you're done. Yep. That's it. That's all there is to it!

But wait, it gets even better... Julie has a whole gallery of quick pages and they are all free to download! I know. Sounds too good to be true doesn't it? But I'm not kidding you. You do need to register on the site (but she doesn't ask for personal info) and good manners demand that you thank the quick page creator with a comment and give credit to all parites concerned if you post your page on the web. But that's quite a bargain, don't you think?

There are several other sites out there that also offer completely designed quick pages. I'll be mentioning some of them to you in future posts.

If you haven't bought Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0 yet, what are you waiting for? Get it now and start amazing your friends and family with terrific scrapbook pages. Get creative with your genealogy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Scrapbook Themes for the Genealogist

When you think about it, a lot of genealogy is measured by time and place. By that I mean that along with the names we put on the family tree we add significant dates and the places where significant events happened. We typically mark our ancestors' lives by major life events... birth, marriage, and death, being the most common ones but graduations, birthdays, and religious ceremonies are common as well. Residences, temporary assignments (military, religious, etc.), and journeys (and vacations) determine the places we attach significance to for our ancestors.

So when it comes to scrapbooking the old photos of one's ancestors, it's fitting to use a theme that matches a given era or a location to help identify the time and place. For instance, if your ancestors came from Scotland you might use a tartan plaid on pages featuring them. If grandpa was stationed in France during WWII, you might want to feature a 1940s map of France and items such as the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe as decorative page elements when you display photos of him in his military uniform. Do you have pictures of your grandma dressed as a flapper from the 1920s era? Creating a scrapbook page in the art deco style would be very appropriate and consistent with the time period. I could go on and on (and I will in future posts) but for now we'll leave it at that.

I'm going to explore various periods and places in terms of scrapbooking themes. I have to tell you that there are an abundance of themed kits available labeled as "vintage". Generally that means, of the Victorian era, with lots of roses, lace, strings of pearls, pinks and reds, ribbons and bows. I personally love all that stuff but it isn't always the best choice for vintage photos. The best choice will either be timeless or time appropriate. While there is no shortage of vintage scrapbooking kits, I've found it much more difficult to put my hands on kits (digital) for other eras. So, I am going to post here when I do find digital scrapbook kits of various eras, and ethnic themes too. I've started a list in the right column with links to my "finds". If you're looking for a specific era theme or ethnic theme I hope you'll stop by here and take a look. In return, if you should come across a kit for a specific era or ethnicity I hope you'll leave me the link in the comments of any scrapbooking related post on this blog.

What you should know about kits
Some of the kits I will write about are free and others are for purchase. The price to purchase a kit generally ranges from $2-$10 and will come with a number of background papers, elements/embellishments, and often a matching alphabet (not a font that needs to be installed but a series of letter/number images that match the theme). Sometimes there are photo frames and or tags too. When you think about the time it would take you to design all these items, I'm sure you'll agree they are a bargain for the price. I know it would take me several hours to design one of these kits, and several hours of my time is worth more than $2-$10. Lots more! Which brings me to the subject of free kits.

Free kits are just that, free to download. But the designers put just as much time into designing them as the kits for purchase. All they ask is two things: 1) Give them some love for their efforts... that simply means leave them a comment and say "thank you" for sharing your kit. 2) If you post/display a page you put together using elements from their kit mention their name and give them the credit due them. I am constantly amazed at the creative designers who give their kits away for free, knowing as I do the time involved in creating them. They are a very talented, kind, and generous bunch.

Time sensitivity
One last thing about these scrapbooking kits. Generally, the kits for purchase are available indefinitely or at least for pretty long time in the online store selling them. On the other hand, free kits are often available for a very short period of time. The files are usually hosted on free file sharing sites that limit the amount of disc space available per account. So once a kit has been available for a while it will be taken down by the designer to make room for a new kit. That's just the nature of the biz folks. So if you see a free kit you like you should make an effort to download it soon before it becomes unavailable. Because once it's gone, it's gone. If you're not ready to use it yet, let it sit on your hard drive or burn it to a CD. If you let it go thinking you'll go back for it in a few weeks when you have more time you may well regret it.

Kits shown here
The first kit I'm showing here (the blue one) is called Bonnie Scotland - Blue Seas. It's a free kit by Snowraven and it's featured on the Snowraven's Cave blog. This is a Scottish theme and it comes with everything you need for one very classy Scottish-themed scrapbook page.

The second kit I'm showing here (the pink and green one) is called All Things Vintage - Coral n Cream Fans, by Lucy Hampton. It is for sale for $4 at Check it out to see all the things it comes with. This site also has many, many other "vintage" kits. Just enter "vintage" in the search box on the home page and see for yourself.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Using a Coat of Arms on Your Web Site/Blog

Once you've got your coat of arms designed you may want to use it on your genealogy/surname web site or blog. It will certainly give it a touch of class as well as brand it with your own customed designed mark. The thing that you need to keep in mind whenever you're designing graphics for the web is, small file sizes are good, large files sizes will cause slow page load times.

In a previous article where I discussed creating your coat of arms, I was careful to point out that print resolution is 300 dpi. But when it comes to using images on the web you need to optimize or downsize that resolution to 72 dpi. Print resolution is too big high to use on the web so when you get ready to upload your coat of arms image to your web site or blog, be sure to optimize it first.

Once your image is optimized, you can use it as a design element on your web page. You can resize it to a smaller size and use it in your banner or side bar or you can reduce the opacity of it (make it a lighter, paler image) and use it as a background image on your page. Unless you get carried away, you almost can't go wrong using your coat of arms on a web page or blog. It will give a classic and elegant look to your page.

If you've a taste for something a little more dramatic, you can always animate your coat of arms as shown above (if it's not animating refresh your browser page). This is a Flash animation I created a while back. When timed well and used in conjunction with other coats of arms it can fill a page and make a one-of-a-kind genealogy home page. View mine here.

That concludes this series on designing a coat of arms. I hope the ideas presented in these articles are inspiring and helpful to you. If you do create a coat of arms of your own (and I hope you will!) please upload a copy and leave a link to it in the comments below. I'd love to see what you come up with! Now go get creative with your genealogy!!!

The complete series of articles on designing and displaying a coat of arms:
Why You Need to Design a Coat of Arms for Your Family
Dissecting A Coat of Arms Achievement
Create a Coat of Arms: Design Ideas
Create a Coat of Arms: Design Considerations
Using Clipart To Create A Coat of Arms
Wearing Your Coat of Arms
Displaying Your Coat of Arms
Printing Your Coat of Arms
Digital Scrapbooking With Your Coat of Arms
Using a Coat of Arms on Your Web Site/Blog

Monday, July 16, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking Blog Carnival is Posted

The latest and greatest edition of the Digital Scrapbooking Blog Carnival (#3) has been posted at the Digi Pick of the Day blog. Lots of great information in this edition so get on over there and check it out!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Digital Scrapbooking With Your Coat of Arms

When it comes to creating a scrapbook page, it's all about emotions. A photo by itself can evoke emotions but put it on a scrapbook page and you can kick those feelings up a notch, create emotion where there seems to be very little or add to what's already there, and convey information while you're at it. I would suggest that adding a coat of arms as a design element to your scrapbook page will give your photo a punch of heritage.

Take a look at a photo of my grandfather. What does it tell you? What's his name? What's his heritage? When did he live? If you looked at this photo among a few dozen other similar ones in a photo album, what could you say about it? Let's just say his name was on the back but you couldn't see the back of the photo to read it. What more does the photo tell you? You could say that he was well-to-do given that he was well dressed but then again the photo could have been taken on his wedding day while he was wearing a suit he borrowed. Where did live? Where did he come from? Who really was this man?

Now let's take a look at the same photo used on a scrapbook page with a coat of arms as a design element. What is your first reaction? Does it give you a different feeling from looking at the photo by itself? What impression do you get of this man now? There's a bit of journaling to tell you his name and something about the man, but the coat of arms adds even more information about him. Doesn't it lend him an air of importance? Doesn't it speak of tradition? Doesn't it add wonderful visual interest to the page?

Given his occupation, I could have created a background of bakery images (rolling pin, oven mitts, pastries, cake). That would have made sense from a theme perspective. But given the formal photograph, it would probably look incongruous. When you have a formal/serious photograph, especially a vintage one, it's important to compliment it with a congruent theme. And when it comes to a traditional style coat of arms, you know you've got winner. You may have to recolor some of the coat of arms elements to match your background paper (as I have done with this one) or maybe recolor your paper to coordinate with your coat of arms. Either way you'll want to make the colors consistent for eye appeal.

Use your coat of arms to make a statement. Use it in scrapbooking for a wonderful heritage design element. Show it off with pride!

Coming up next: Using a Coat of Arms on Your Website/Blog

Other posts on this topic:

Credits: The photo frame and beige mat were actually part of a quick page on a CD collection called A Formal Heritage by Jenny Binder. I also used a background paper from the Raspberry Cream collection. I don't know the name of the designer, if you know it please leave a note in the comments. Thanks!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Free Digital Scrapbooking Webinar

Linda Sattgast is having an eSeminar sponsored by Adobe on July 10, 2007 on scrapbooking with Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0. The demonstrations will be geared to beginner through intermmediate scrapbookers. This webinar will begin at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and will last about an hour. It's free, but you have to register in advance. You can do so here. The Adobe webinars tend to fill up quickly so I wouldn't wait too long to register for this one. Linda Sattgast is a talented teacher and knows Photoshop Elements inside and out. If you've been thinking about getting started with digital scrapbooking or you've already tried it and want to learn more, this webinar will be worth your while to attend. I'm already registered. Won't you join me?

Get a great price on Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Free Patriotic Digital Scrapbooking Kit

Did you take family photos this 4th of July? How would you like a free patriotic theme kit for creating a digital scrapbook page with those photos?

Hummie at Hummie's World blog has a great patriotic kit and it's yours for the taking. Please remember to say thank you to Hummie and be sure to give her credit if you post your digital scrapbook page on the internet.

This kit has so many nice vintage ephemera elements... you can use it for any ancestors on your tree as well as current family photos. For a true vintage look, turn your current photos into black and whites or sepia tone images.

Have fun with Creative Genealogy!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Printing Your Coat of Arms

There are lots of ways to use your coat of arms in print. From greeting cards to stationary, stickers to book covers... the ideas are all here for the taking. Here's my list of 10 ideas for using your coat of arms on printed pieces. Do you have other ideas? Leave them as comments!

  1. Print out your coat of arms on 8.5"x11" quarter-folded paper and keep a stack of them on hand. You can use them as thank you notes, thinking of you notes, for writing a note to your child's teacher, or for writing a special correspondence to someone researching your same surname.
  2. Print out your coat of arms on card stock and make personal greeting cards. They make classy birthday cards for men or women. They're great for announcing a birth or adoption. You can use them for Mother's Day or Father's Day greetings too.
  3. Again using card stock, you can add a clipart evergreen wreath with a red bow around your coat of arms for a very classy Christmas card. Or add some holly leaves and berries with a holiday greeting. On the back of your card write a short paragraph explaining the symbols and colors you used on your coat of arms. Your cards will be unique and the envy of all your friends and family!
  4. Print your coat of arms in a small size on card stock and cut into pieces. Fold in half and write a name on each one to use for seating place cards for your next dinner party, shower, or family gathering. They will make good conversation starters!
  5. Use your coat of arms on printed invitations. Whether you use them on commercially printed items like formal wedding invitations, or just print them at home for family reunion invitations, they will make an impressive statement about you. You might also consider using them to invite friends and family to your next holiday party or open house. You'll get many compliments... just wait and see!
  6. Use your coat of arms on your family newsletter. It will make a great graphic that family members will come to recognize and take pride in.
  7. Use the shield part of the coat of arms on personalized return address labels or stickers.
  8. Your coat of arms would make an outstanding book cover for your family history or family cookbook.
  9. How about using your coat of arms on personalized recipes cards? Great idea, eh? Next time you do a recipe exchange yours will definitely stand out from all the rest!
  10. Have a custom-made rubber stamp made up and stamp, stamp, stamp! Rubber stamps are very versatile and can be used on just about every type of paper. With gold or silver inks they are exceptionally chic. Use black ink and let kids color them in with colored pencils.
Coming up next: Digital Scrapbooking With Your Coat of Arms

Other posts on this topic:

Digital Scrapbooking Blog Carnival

The second edition of the Digital Scrapbooking Blog Carnival is posted by Connie at the Digital Scrapbooking Info blog. If you're looking for some digital scrapbooking blogs this may interest you.

I'm very pleased that a post from the Creative Genealogy blog is one of the ones featured in this edition but because of the way this blog carnival is set up it's hard to identify it. (It's the 5th one down, about creating and using a silhouette.) This blog carnival is a tad disappointing to me in that it fails to identify all the bloggers and their blogs by name. Perhaps they'll change that in future editions. It sure would be helpful to know who's writing about what.

If you get a chance, check out the carnival. There are lots of links to follow!