In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s the perfect time of year for a beach trip. Since I (Katie) live in Utah, I rarely get to the beach and I treasure every moment  I get to spend there. Fortunately, I’ve been able to travel to some beautiful beaches throughout my life in places such as Hawaii, California, Oregon, and even Greece when I was in college. I would love to go back to any one of those beaches at any time!

My biggest tip for beach visits is packing sunscreen. My husband and kids all have very fair skin and burn easily. Especially my husband (freckled red-head that has gone gray/brown in later years). We always joke about how he can get sunburned just looking out the window for a minute.  That means going to the beach isn’t big on his list. I love it though and wish I could live by a beach. I rarely burn and actually tan quite easily (except when I spend the summer sitting in front of my computer – lol!) My Father-in-law also has that same fair complexion so he wears long sleeves to the beach and brings a big umbrella with him to create his own shade.

Something else I’ve learned about visiting the beach is to protect my camera. I’ve ruined a point-and-shoot camera before just by having it in my beach bag. Sand got inside of it and it never recovered. I’m considering purchasing a waterproof camera before I hit the sandy shores next time. If you bring an expensive camera with you, consider purchasing some protective gear and/or wrap your camera bag in a protective bag as well.

Since I’m just a rookie when it comes to beach visits, I asked a few of our “beach-bum” team members to help out with some great tips for all of us.

From Melissa S.:

Well my DH & I have grown up by the beaches in Perth, West Australia. He practically lived there! After 5 years in Kalgoorlie (400 km from the nearest beach) he is so missing it! We are moving back soon – Emily hasn’t even visited the beach yet!  Phill however swims every time we are in Perth or Esperance.

OK, well onto tips… one big thing – SUNSCREEN, as blonde/fair skinned/sensitive skin/easily burnt people we have to use toddler milk sunscreen. I found other sunscreens would always end up stinging my eyes (yes somehow I’d always end up getting in my eye from my hands I guess and spending the whole time with a stinging eye!). The spray packs are useful as it is quick and easy to apply but not so good for wriggly babies.
In Perth & Kalgoorlie we are fairly close to the ozone layer hole, so even 4mins in the sun and you will start to damage your skin and within 15min you will be sunburnt. Even on Wednesday in the middle of winter (it starts June 1 in Australia) I put on a hat and sunscreen to go for a walk!

Ok so I hate to sound like a wowser – but SLIP SLOP SLAP SEEK and SLIDE everyone! Skin cancer is NOT fun! Be sunsmart!

Protect yourself in five ways from skin cancer: Slip! Slop! Slap! Seek! Slide!

  1. Slip on sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible.
  2. Slop on SPF 30+ broad spectrum sunscreen liberally to dry skin, at least 20 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours when outdoors.
  3. Slap on a broad brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
  4. Seek shade
  5. Slide on sunglasses. Even on your babies! These are awesome sunnies and very affordable. My little girl has been wearing them since the age of 5 months and though she pulls them off sometimes, if it is actually sunny, she will keep them on quite well. Also their hats are cute!

So now I’ve got the sun protect rant off my chest – enjoy your summer kiddos!


From Steph:

My favorite vacations are those that include a beach!!  Since we have such varying ages of kids, it works great for our family, something for everyone!  My husband is (thankfully) great at finding travel deals to allow my beach addiction.  Because of my husbands health issues, we aren’t permitted to travel to 3rd world countries, so Mexico and other very affordable places are out for us.

Here are my tips:

  1. Forget the sunblock – well not totally.  We have found it works better to wear sunshirts on the beach.  When we go to the beach, we spend most of the time in the water boogie boarding.  We learned quickly that sunblock was not the best option for sun protection on our shoulders and arms.  You can get them in the summer at any department store like Target or Wal-Mart.  In tropical locations, you can get them year round.  Then slather sunblock everywhere else.  Always take sunblock with you from home, it is insanely expensive in beach locations.
  2. Grass mats – in Hawaii in every drug store or department store, they sell grass mats. They are super cheap (under $3) and are great for keeping sand off towels.  The water also slides right through, so they don’t stay wet.  My youngest does not like sand at all, so we put a couple of these down and she stays right on them and never leaves.  We take turns sitting on the beach with her, so they are great to sit on and wrap up in your towel.
  3. Boogie Boards – we love to boogie board! We usually check into renting boards at different places, but usually end up buying them , because you can buy them cheaper than renting.  When we check out of our hotel to go home, we find a family checking in and give the boogie boards to them.  We do this with larger pool toys too.
  4. Other toys – check into renting them, sand castle toys can sometimes be less expensive to rent.  Try using an offsite rental place instead of your hotel, they will usually deliver and pick up for no extra cost and are much less expensive.
  5. Bring a lunch and snacks.  There are a lot of sandwich places that will pack a lunch for you and some even pack it in a cooler.  There were many days that we would hit the beach after breakfast and not leave until after sunset…riding the waves all day long!  You can also buy styrofoam coolers for pretty cheap.
  6. Bring plenty to drink and then bring some more!
  7. Don’t be afraid to play in the water in the rain.  On one of our trips to Hawaii, it rained almost the entire time.  We headed to the beach anyway (leaving the youngest of the bunch with Grandma and Pappy) and spent the day boogie boarding.  The lifeguards said it was safe, so in we went!  We had the whole beach to ourselves! It was still 80 degrees outside and we were going to get wet anyway.  That day is one of our favorite memories!!
  8. Buy a book – I really believe in using guidebooks for any kind of vacation, even staycations! So grab a guidebook that will tell you what beaches are good.

Now for another kind of beach…we lived on an island in the Puget Sound for a few years and though we had beaches all around us, it was a very different kind of beach experience!

  1. Most beaches in the Puget Sound area are rocky.  Bring boots…I’m not kidding!  Boots that can get muddy and that are good for walking on rocks.
  2. There are record low-tides usually during June and many communities have ‘beach walks’ with guides that will point out all of the wild life on the beach and teach the kids how to respect it.
  3. During said low-tides, it gets smelly (I have grown to love the smell, but many hate it)…think seaweed.
  4. During the record low-tides shell fish can get red-tide, so don’t go clamming and don’t eat the clams if you see signs posted.
  5. Enjoy the beautiful views!!  One of the things we loved (and miss) most about where we lived was driving across the bridge to our island and seeing Mt. Rainier on our left and the Cascade Mountains on our right.  On a clear day, you could see forever!  So beautiful to see the evergreens heading right into the water.  Second in beauty only to the “sea-to-sky” drive in British Columbia (Vancouver to Whistler drive).

If you are lucky enough to visit a beach, we hope these tips will help you enjoy your trip even more!




All photos in this post from thepioneerwoman.com

When I (Katie) was at a blog conference  last month, I overheard some ladies talking in the parking lot. They were saying things like “she used to live in Los Angeles,” “she married a cowboy,” “she takes pictures of cows and horses,” and “she just wrote a cookbook.” I totally knew who they were talking about and I was honestly surprised when 2 of the ladies there had never heard of her. I thought EVERYONE knew about The Pioneer Woman! 🙂

If you have somehow missed Ree Drummond (her real name) online, now is the perfect chance for me to introduce you to her.

CONFESSIONS The Pioneer Woman’s original blog where she shares her love story, ranch happenings, cowboys in chaps, and the adventures of Charlie. Always something fun and interesting to read!



COOKING – If you are on a diet, you might want to stay away from this section. She uses butter, A LOT of butter! Yum! She posts step by step instructions and amazing photographs for every recipe. You will drool over her food photography! And as if her recipes weren’t enough, she went ahead and started up an amazing cooking site called “Tasty Kitchen” full of fabulous recipes from contributors all over the world.



PHOTOGRAPHY – One of my favorite parts of PW’s site is her beautiful photos. She is prolific and very skilled with her camera. She posts tips, free photoshop actions, and even hosts photography assignments. Sometimes she even shares some of her photos for free downloads. I actually had one printed to frame in my home. She has a few contributing writers who help out with her photography posts and they are all amazing!  I can’t get enough of her photography section!



HOME AND GARDEN – I’m sure you will also enjoy the Home and Garden section. I love that she isn’t afraid to show us the real life of a cowboy’s wife. I can’t even imagine the laundry!



HOMESCHOOLING _ Homeschoolers (and educators) will love the Homeschooling portion of her site. She homeschools all 4 of her children and posts some fun ideas and resources. There are also some guest contributors in this area of her blog and it’s nice to see several different methods and approaches with homeschooling.



I have no idea how she does it all, but I’m glad she is willing to share the journey with all of us online. Thanks for making the internet fun P-Dub!




With Father’s Day quickly approaching (June 20, 2010) this seems like the perfect time to talk about gifts for guys! I (Katie) not only have Father’s Day to worry about in June, but also my Husband’s, Father’s, and Brother-in-Law’s birthday as well. Yikes!

For today’s un-digi, I want to share some fun ideas for gifts for guys:

  • a gift bag or basket full of magazines related to one of his interests (sports, racecars, architecture, gardening, etc.) You could also include a subscription to one of the magazines to make it a little bit bigger of a gift.
  • his favorite treats all put together. I know a lot of guys who would love a big basket of beef jerky, nuts, chips & salsa, and cookies.
  • freezer meals for the man who lives alone. This is especially nice for a man (such as a widower) who might be missing homecooked meals.
  • all the fixings to make a nice breakfast. We have a friend who cooks breakfast for his kids every Saturday morning, so we bought him pancake mix, a bowl, a spatula, an apron, and some fancy syrups. He loved it!
  • wash his car, or give a gift certificate to a car wash place.
  • tools or a gift card to a home improvement or auto shop.
  • a subscription to netflix or a coupon to a video rental store.
  • a gift card to itunes
  • a gift card to a favorite restaurant
  • a video game or gift certificate to a video game store
  • a video game system. Even those who aren’t that into video games, usually enjoy playing on the Nintendo Wii and it’s great for stress relief!
  • sporting equipment such as a tennis racket & balls, or a football. A gift certificate to a sporting goods store is another good idea.
  • your time and/or service. Is there really a more meaningful gift? Find some way to serve him by doing one of his chores, or spending time with him.

For more great gift ideas FOR or FROM a digital scrapbooker, be sure to check out our gift idea post from our 1st birthday celebration!


P.S.  Don’t forget to take our survey. We want to give our readers the very best in digital scrapbooking and your answers will help us do that!

Summer Fun

Summer is just around the corner for those who live in the Northern Hemisphere. Warmer weather and school vacations bring a whole new variety of activities into our schedules. This year I (Katie) am longing for some summer fun so I’ve been browsing the web for some great ideas to share. (All images are linked)


The Martha Stewart website is filled with crafts, recipes, and ideas for summer fun. You can even sign up for a free email newsletter to receive daily summer inspiration in your in-box for 60 days of Summer!



One of the best things about summer is being able to eat outside. Go on a picnic, or eat out on a patio or deck to enjoy the fresh air while you eat. Allrecipes.com has an entire section of their site devoted to picnics.


Don’t forget to fire up the grill for a barbeque. Yum! Find some fabulous grilling tips at the Better Homes & Gardens website.


If you are looking for some fun crafts to keep the kids entertained be sure to check out Family Fun. They have oodles of ideas for summer crafts and activities!


The weather doesn’t always cooperate with our plans and that can result in grumpy kids (and parents!) You will love Muffin Tin Mom’s ideas for indoor play on a rainy day.


I’m ready for some summer fun now! 🙂  Hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these  ideas and activities soon!


Corner on the Market of Busy

I am very blessed to have a friend that will tell me like it is.  One of the things she has said to me before is, “None of us has the corner on the market of busy, we all have the same 24 hours in each day.”  I try to remember this anytime I want to use the excuse “I’ve been so busy,” when I haven’t done something someone asked from me.  The reality is, we have time for whatever we make our priority.  I have found that instead of using the BUSY excuse, if I think to myself, ” it hasn’t been a priority, but should it be?”…that is a great way for me to quickly evaluate if maybe that thing should have been higher on my list.  I certainly would hate for my kids to think they weren’t a priority.  If saying “I’ve just been too busy” were the same as “you aren’t a priority” would we rethink what we do first during our day?

A lot of us feel over scheduled and over committed and really do not have enough time in our days to do EVERYTHING we have on our lists.  The “Zen Guy” at Zen Habits has some great solutions for all of us.  I thought that the beginning of a New Year would be a great time for all of us to try his12-step method to a more simplified life.  An excerpt of his original post is republished here with permission.  Enjoy!

A 12-step method, perhaps, simplified into just 6 steps.

1. Write down your top priorities. We all have a long list of things we want to do, to try, to learn, to accomplish. Just pick 4-5. You can do that right now — make a short list of the things that are most important to you. My list: spending time with my family, writing, reading and running. These are the things you’ll build your life around, for now. You can always change this list later, as your priorities change.

2. Reduce one commitment. What is something you do every day or week that’s not on your short list? Is there any way you can get out of it? Make a phone call or send an email right now that will get you out of that commitment. It might mean disappointing one or many people — but you are going to create the simple life you want, not the complicated life others demand of you. By reducing this one commitment, you are simplifying your life, creating more time and space for the important stuff. Make the choice to put your priorities first, to find the time for them, by reducing your commitments.

3. Simplify your to-do list. Same concept, but at a smaller level — what’s on your to-do list that doesn’t need to be there? Something you’ve been dreading that you don’t absolutely have to do? Can you tell someone you’re just too busy to work on this? Can you give it to someone else, or automate it? See if you can pare your to-do list to just the most important things. Alternatively, just pick 1-3 things to do each day, and don’t worry about the rest.

4. Set aside some disconnected time. If you’re connected all the time, this step is essential. Don’t skip it! Pick one hour to be disconnected — no Internet, no email, no IM, no phones. You can use your computer, but just for desktop computing, like writing in a word processor or text file, or working in Photoshop, or what have you. Use this time to really focus, to pour yourself into important tasks that you love to do. Or you can use this disconnected time to relax.

5. Create your perfect day. You’ve blocked aside some disconnected time, but let’s take that a step further: what would your ideal day look like? What would you do when you woke up, what would your work day look like (hint: it doesn’t have to be the work you’re doing now, but it could be), would you have time for exercise or sports or taking a walk or relaxing or reading or doing a hobby, would you have time for loved ones, time to clean or do errands, time for checking email, etc.? List the things you’d do, ideally, then simplify to the most important ones. Then lay them out in a schedule. You don’t have to stick to this schedule exactly, but knowing what’s ideal gives you something to work toward. In some cases, you can simply start living this day, tomorrow, but in others you’ll have to make gradual changes to allow this ideal day to happen. The key: taking control and responsibility for making the perfect day a reality.

6. Declutter. You want a nice, decluttered, serene space to surround you in your new simplified life. So you’re going to create it. Two ways to go here: if you don’t have much time, just do 10-15 minutes for now, and continue to do small increments until you get to where you’d like to be. Here’s how. Second method is if you have an entire day or weekend — set aside a big block of time and just overhaul your workspace or one or two rooms in your home. Here’s a good method.

Next Steps
Once you get to this stage, things should be a bit more simplified. But you’re probably interested in going beyond that. Here’s what you can do next — but please, please, don’t try to do these all at once. Pick one at a time, and do it slowly, over time. Simplifying isn’t a race — it’s a life.

  • Declutter some more. Read.
  • Letting go of wanting to buy more. Read.
  • Reducing more commitments. Read.
  • Transitioning to doing only work you love. Read.
  • Creating time for solitude, quiet and relaxation. Read.
  • Slowing down in everything you do. Read.
  • Being present more often. Read.
  • Single-tasking. Read.

And most importantly: enjoy the process! The important thing isn’t a destination — a perfect, simple life — but the journey along the way.

Manifest plainness,
Embrace simplicity,
Reduce selfishness,
Have few desires.
– Lao-tzu


P.S. Congratulations to iciclelady who was randomly drawn from yesterday’s comments to win a $10 GC to Michelle Underwood’s store for today’s GIFTaway!! 🙂 Check your inbox!



Not long after I started digital scrapbooking…I also started another ‘hobby’ that I am just as addicted to as digi scrapping…and I just…can’t…stop…!  I have known it was a problem for a very long time…but…I haven’t known how to fix it…

One of the geeky things I do is subscribe to “The Grammar Girl” podcast.  My kids really enjoy listening to it with me and learning from it.  She is pretty funny and always interesting with her tid-bits of grammar information.  The podcasts are short too, just 2-5 minutes is all!!  One day, while driving my son to school…I was laughing out loud… hysterically… as Grammar Girl shared this winning entry in a contest that…addressed my addiction…

Listen and enjoy… Ellipses Spurned


We Must Be Happy People


I was all set to post today about Valentine’s crafts you can do with your kids (or with your hubby, friends, or puppy :). My kids absolutely LOVE to make crafts and there are a lot of really fun and simple things you can do.  I think later today we will pull out the glue and scissors and paints and lovey up our house.

However, as I was pulling together some links for you I came across an article from Yes! Magazine that I thought was very interesting.  It is called 10 THINGS SCIENCE SAYS WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY. I was intrigued as I read through the list, often nodding my head in agreement as I looked at my own life and times when I really, truly “felt” happy.  Now I won’t get into the differences of “joy” versus “happiness” here. Suffice it to say that the happiness we are referring to here is the feeling of being happy.


You should definitely check out the whole article and read through the ten items. It was good to be reminded that things like exercise and not focusing on money can seriously enhance our happiness.  However, what I want to look closer at today is the number one thing listed:


As scrapbookers (I know, I know, ssshhh…this isn’t supposed to be about digi…it isn’t, really, it is about happiness!) we must be some of the happiest people around!  I mean, isn’t this what scrapbooking is really all about??  Savoring the everyday moments, moments that are “normally hurried through.”  When we scrapbook, when we take photos, when we stop to think about how those photos make us feel, we are SAVORING the everyday and in the process, becoming happier people.

I know that in the last four years my level of “happiness” has gone way, way up.  I know there are other things involved in this — personal changes I have made, watching my family grow from two kids to four kids, learning more about who I am and what I do best — but I also KNOW that scrapbooking has a lot to do with this. As I look through my albums, as I view photos of my family and friends, I can’t help but stop and realize how truly blessed I am. When I look through the 17 photos I have taken so far  for my photo a day project, I smile thinking of those 17 “everyday” or otherwise “would have missed” moments forever recorded. And yes, I feel happy.

I encourage you to take some time today to read through the other nine items and look at your own life and how those things fit in.  You can download a full size 11×17 pdf file of the poster.  I think I may cut out a few of the ones  I need to be reminded of most often (like exercising!) and frame them and put them in a place I can always see them. Think about what you can do TODAY to bring a little happiness into your life.

And if you have time left over and still want to do some Valentine’s crafts, here are some great ideas:


Heart and Lillipop flowers from Martha Stewart



Heart Pencil Toppers


Puffy Heart


Clothes Pin Fasteners

Or try these:

Valentine Candy Dish

Recycled Egg Carton Heart

Pop Up Cards

Heart Stitched Card

Handprint Wall Hanging

and MORE


Hope that everyone has a very HAPPY Sunday!