Monthly Archives: January 2014

Yearly Photo Books

Is it just me or have digital pictures taken over your life too? Right now my phone has over 1,500 photos on it- and that’s not including the hundreds, probably thousands, that I’ve deleted from it trying to free up space. The card in my camera is completely full, and I struggle to delete just enough to make it useable as new events occur. Most days, I am a housewife and dog mom and people often ask what I do all day. The answer: organize pictures. It’s seriously become a full-time job. I’m slightly obsessed with managing my pictures. It’s funny to me that storing/preserving our digital files has become such a big deal since we didn’t use to obsess over how to save our negatives in the days of film developing.

To me pictures are SO important. I am always the one taking pictures rather than just “enjoying the moment”. And really, I like it that way. Memories and experiences are awesome, but pictures preserve those moments. I have never regretted taking a picture, but I often regret not taking one.

Over the years, I’ve gone through several digital photo organizing systems. Right now, I’m in the process of uploading them all to Dropbox so they are out there and accessible and if our house burns down we have them. I also have them on an external hard drive and they will soon be on a USB to stay in our fireproof box. Like I said, obsessed.

So that’s all well and good that I have the digital files protected. But what about actually enjoying them? My photos sat in digital form for so long, and that made me sad. I don’t want to always look at them on a computer. So I pondered. I could print them out and put them in albums, like people have done for years. But the albums are so bulky and you have to make hard decisions about which pictures to print for cost and space reasons.

And then I came across a post on Pinterest from the eighteen25 blog (I can’t find the exact post again) about making family yearbooks! I immediately fell in love with this idea. All the pictures from the year, all in one easy-to-store place. I was hesitant for awhile, just feeling sad about not having actual hard print pictures, but after serious pondering and discussing it with some people (y’all, this was a really big decision), I decided to go ahead with the books, and also print out a few pictures from each year- the “important” ones.

In July 0f 2012 I began creating the photo books. I started with the year 2009 because my husband and I met in January of that year, so it seemed fitting to start there. At some point I hope to go back and do my college years and before, but for now my focus is catching up to present day. I have completed 2009-2012, and am about 3/4 of the way through 2013.


After much research I chose to use Blurb for the making and printing. It is definitely not the cheapest or best quality of the options, but it has a large page limit (400) and a “portrait” option for the book versus landscape. (I will say that I had a program issue at one point and lost an entire book, but their customer service was outstanding and I received a $150 credit, enough to cover a couple of my books. And I think the issue was probably mostly my mistake). Overall, I have been very happy with my books, the design program, and the pricing. I average about $70 for each book, which seems pretty good for an entire year worth of pictures!

In creating the books, I don’t use a specific “style” or plan. Sometimes I put 1-2 pictures on a page, sometimes 6-7. It all just depends on the event and the pictures. One thing that I LOVE about this is that you can add random pictures that you may not choose to print out and put in an album, but fit into the book. And with phones we all take so many pictures throughout the day that we’d like to have forever. It has really freed me to feel ok about taking many pictures. (please excuse my bad iphone pictures of theses pages…)



I have also seen where people with kids include scanned pictures of their drawings and such. I definitely plan on doing that! When my husband proposed he wrote me a poem and I scanned that and included it. So many options for things that can be preserved in these books!


For the covers I always use one of our “professional” pictures from the year (we always have pictures taken in November for our anniversary/Christmas cards).


So, in summary, I LOVE my yearly photo books and HIGHLY suggest this approach to deal with the thousands of pictures we all have. I am sure there are things I have forgotten to cover in this post so please ask questions!

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2011 & 2012 Book Lists

Since I have only been writing about books as I currently read them, I thought I would go back and create lists from what I read in 2011 and 2012. August of 2011 is when I graduated with my master’s degree and was finally able to read for fun again, so I started keeping a record of every book I read. These lists are alphabetized by author and include title, author, date published, fiction/non-fiction, and, if applicable, the series. I have also made note of the books that I especially liked.

(Also, this is my first time attempting PDFs and I am not sure why they are such poor quality. If anyone has any tips I would gladly accept some advice!)

2011 Book List

2012 Book List

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What I’ve Been Reading- December 2013

This month I read five books, mainly because I subbed for three days. Substitute teaching at a high school lends itself to having lots of time to read!

Looking for Me– Hoffman (2013, Fiction): Looking for Me follows main character Teddi Overman as she tries to make a new life for herself in Charleston, away from the family farm where she grew up and the tragedies that befell her there. It’s a story of love, loss, hope, and restoration as Teddi deals with her past and moves forward to the future. I found it hard to follow sometimes as it jumped around from past to present, but it is a great story. Just be prepared for some sad parts!

Beautiful Day– Hilderbrand (2013, Fiction): Hilderbrand’s newest novel reminded me of a book I read back in October, Seating Arrangements. Both are told in a span of a few days and are about a daighter’s wedding, told from various perspectives. But Beautiful Day is by far the better of the two. There are many characters, which makes it sometimes hard to keep everyone straight, but Hilderbrand does a good job and occasionally summarizing what the characters are feeling. So much is happening and you get various point of views on each event. It was a very fun book with lots of stories and lots of drama!

Escape– Jessop (2006, Non-fiction): After reading Prophet’s Prey in November, I wanted to read even more about Jeffs and the FLDS. Escape is the story of Carolyn Jessop, who at age 18 was given in marriage to 50-year-old Meril Jessop, one of the more powerful men in the FLDS community. She gave birth to eight children while married to him, and eventually was able to escape the abusive and freedom-less marriage and community. Her story is both gripping and heartbreaking and sheds light on the FLDS and abusive religion as a whole. As a warning, there are some very graphic parts about human and animal abuse, don’t read if you don’t feel you can handle those. But it is worth those hard parts to be part of the story of this very strong and courageous woman who overcame so much to make a better life for her and her children.

Takedown Twenty– Evanovich (2013, Fiction): This is the 20th book is the Stephanie Plum saga. I always enjoy these books about bounty hunter Stephanie and her sidekick Lula as they solve mysteries in their New Jersey town and attempt to takedown the bad guys, while Stephanie tries to decide between the two men in her life- Ranger and Morelli. These books are light and fun and sometimes suspenseful. I look forward to 21!

The Husband’s Secret– Moriarty (2013, Fiction): I had heard so many great things about this book, so going in my expectations were really high, and it didn’t quite meet them. But, it was still a really good, intriguing story about three families as their lives collide through tragedy. It is suspenseful, emotional, and intense as the three journeys unfold.

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Goodbye 2013…

Y’all, I had such big plans for Christmas posts. I have several still in draft format waiting to be finished (most just needing pictures added). I had a long list of topics I was going to blog about: goodies I made, my method for saving Christmas cards, traditions I enjoy (and want to enjoy), Christmas movies, Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls…. but none of these posts ever came together. And that is really unlike me. I think I’m feeling unmotivated and uncommitted since only like three people regularly read this, if that.

Though they are the least read, I really enjoy my book list posts. So those always take priority for me. But in the New Year I hope to be more faithful and consistent in writing about things that YOU want to read… what might that be? Baking? Cooking? Crafts? Home management? Dog stuff?

We welcomed 2014 in last night with a gathering with my husband’s family. We played games and ate lots of great food. Too much food. (Dinner at Olive Garden before was a bad decision!). I played Nertz and dominoes, and thankfully avoided being part of the 4-hour long Mexican train extravaganza. With my family our midnight tradition has always been to toast with sparkling grape juice, it just isn’t New Year’s without it. I had taken some along so we could do that last night. But my husband’s cousin- their tradition is to eat a few bites of black eyed peas right at midnight. So we did that as well. It’s always fun to add new traditions!

For the new year I didn’t want to make “resolutions”- those seem so easily broken and forgotten. So I’ve thought of a few things I want to change by 2015. One of these involves beginning Weight Watchers, again. This will be my fourth time to do this program. I was successful once before, but then let myself gain it all back. So I enter this new beginning VERY excited about getting healthy. That’s my main focus. I’m sure some of that will appear on the blog. And maybe, sadly, a little less baking (but we’ll see, because that’s my favorite thing to do!).

And with that, Happy New Year and welcome to 2014!


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