Tuesday, February 9, 2010

January Roundup - better late than never!

Each month I do a round up of the thing that happened in our family each month. It helps me remember what we did, so that when I go to scrapbook them, I can reference my blog and have a better idea of when it happened and some of the details that may have been forgotten along the way. I got this idea from Katie the Scrapbook Lady.

Here are the questions I use:

  1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month?
  2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?
  3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
  4. What gifts did I give and/or receive?
  5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?
  6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
  7. What were my accomplishments this month?
  8. What were my disappointments this month?
  9. How did I do on my goals for the month? (Or any current short or long term goals)
  10. Anything else noteworthy to include?

1. What books and/or magazines did I read this month? I finally finished Mentoring Mom, and I have mixed feelings about it. I think in general the book had good principles, but I really disliked the author's writing style....so it left me with a not so great taste in my mouth.
One book that I thoroughly loved was How Starbucks Saved My Life. It's the biography of Michael Gates Gill, an executive from an advertising agency in New York who's poor choices in his life and work made him disconnected from his family. Then, with no warning, he got fired. His "independent consulting firm" was going nowhere, and he was going broke. He almost accidentally was offered a job working at a Starbucks, and Gill relates the what he learned from this new and different job, and how it changed his outlook on life. Great read!!!

2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month? Can I get any more excited?!?!? AMERICAN IDOL is back!!!
I hated some of the guest judges, but loved Posh Spice and Kristen Chenoweth. I'm slightly addicted. I'm so glad we have a DVR. I record all the episodes and watch them uninterrupted after the kids go to bed. I also enjoyed the new show Human Target.

3. What fun things did I do with my family or friends? We started New Years Eve by inviting a group of girls over for a craft night, and we made books out of Starbucks cups, and New Years Day, we spent a good chunk of the morning as a family painting with watercolors. So fun!!
#2 and #3 went to visit my parents in Clearwater a few weekends later, and we found out my sis is pregnant. I also got to teach 2 scrapbooking classes while I was there. It was a first for me, and totally amazing! We had a few days off school which translated into a few days of hanging out at the house. My kids are really into science now, and we got my son a science kit for Christmas. It's been fun to do together as a family! The kids are really good at making predictions and they get really excited seeing the potions change colors.

4. What gifts did I give or receive? Nothing big that I can remember....

5. What special or unusual purchases did I make? Nothing out of the ordinary....I've started couponing, so I've had several trips to the grocery store where I've saved a tremendous amount of money. One trip, I got $275 worth of groceries for $165. $110 worth of free food is nothing to sneeze at.

6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have? Ooooh....this is a big one. I have an autoimmune disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis. It causes inflammation in the joints and bone spurs on the spine. Most of the time it just flares up in my SI joints, but this month it made the iris of my left eye get inflamed. Let's talk about pain.... At first, I thought I had just scratched my cornea (I had, b/c I had been rubbing my eyes so much) but the pain and inflammation didn't go away. I had to take eye drops round the clock and keep my eye dilated for 2 weeks before it even started feeling better. It's not completely healed, but it's much better now. And I'm down to 4 drops a day. But this is a new symptom of my AS that I'm going to have to start dealing with on a regular basis. I'm contemplating following up with an AS specialist to see what course of action I need to take.

7. Accomplishments for the month. Basically when my eye started flaring up, It was hard to do anything out of the ordinary. I did reorganize some drawers in my kitchen, and reorganized my music collection into nice looking baskets. I threw away a can full of trash (why do I keep that stuff?)

8. Disappointments for the month. Because of my eye, I missed a youth choir rehearsal and because of that we were not ready to sing for a scheduled performance. I know that shouldn't bother me that much, but It does.

9. Accomplishing goals. My word for the year is STREAMLINED. I've worked at organizing things and taking a more practical, easy-going approach to the tasks I've had to do. I've started making a meal plan for the whole month, and hopefully that will help me in grocery shopping and meal prep.

10. Anything noteworthy? Nah....

Ok...so better late than never on this one. Hopefully February will be on time!

February Roundup

Each month I do a round up of the things we did each month. It helps me remember how full my days were and gives me a reference point as I do my scrapbooking. It's the idea of Katie the ScrapbookLady
1. What books or magazines did I read this month?
I read The Wizard of Menlo Park. It was a biography about Thomas Edison, and no, I wasn't doing a book report :o) It was an interesting read, but kinda thick....I had to think alot while reading. The thing that was most interesting was reading about how they invented the phonograph, and that they originally wanted to use it instead of live concerts. They would put the phonograph in the concert hall instead of an orchestra or singer. No one really anticipated them being put in homes.

I also read some books on container gardening, as I am thinking about planting a garden this spring, but I'm not sure I need to take on all that extra work. I also helped #1 read 14 books for his Book it Chart. I'm really proud of how he's doing with that.

2. What movies, television shows, plays, etc. did I watch this month?
We joined Netflix this month!

I watched Stomp Live (loved), Disney's Peter Pan (kids loved - i was surprised by the scariness of it, but it is old school), and World's Greatest Dad (disturbing - not the movie I thought it was when I ordered it - would NOT recommend.)

3. What fun things did I do with my family and/or friends?
VALENTINES DAY!! Normally we don't really do anything big to celebrate because it normally sneaks up on me, but this year we made valentines to give to our family, made pancakes topped with strawberries for lunch to eat on Valentines day (actually Saturday before) and pink strawberry rice crispy treats for snacks. And my hubby and I celebrated by staying home, putting the kids to bed early, and fixing steak and lobster tails for dinner. I bought some cute valentines plates from Target and made a little centerpiece from some pink/white fabric and red and white candles. Lots of fun!!! Very Simple!

We also visited our cousin in Orlando for his 9th birthday which he held at a facility called BounceU. All the kids had LOTS OF FUN!!!

Oh yeah....MONSTER JAM! I took #1 and #2 by myself, and it was fun! A sweet lady in our church gets us tickets every year. Normally Dad goes, but he was out of town on a youth trip, so I had to be super mom. A little scary, and more people than I ever want to be around again in my life, but the kids loved it. This was #2's first time, and just as it was about to start, I looked at her and said, "It's about to get REALLY loud." Then they fired up the engines, and I feel her shaking next to me. I looked over and asked her if she was ok. She looked up to me and said, "I like loud." Priceless....
4. What gifts did I give and/or receive?
Here's the postcard I made of the kids to send to our relatives, and for the kids to give their friends....

I bought the kids cute tshirts for Valentine's day. #1 is really into Lego Star Wars, so when I found a shirt at WalMart in his favorite color - red. I knew I had to buy it. #2 is only 3 1/2, but she's always grabbing our phones and asking to text Daddy, so I saw a shirt at WalMart that says "I love 2 txt" - it was a must buy. #3 is really into music, so I saw a little shirt with a guitar on it for him. For hubby I bought him the latest TobyMac cd. It's it fave artist. He bought me a new cellphone cover, and then....get this....a diamond open hearts pendant from Kay Jewlers. It made my cd look like a pretty silly gift :o) This was big for my hubby b/c he's a really practical person. He'd rather buy something useful than something beautiful, so for him to get this when we hadn't even talked about it was really big! I love it!!

5. What special or unusual purchases did I make?
I've had to buy a lot of printer ink b/c I'm starting to follow a few couponing blogs, and trying my hand at getting more with my money. I still haven't had the shopping trip where I spent $1.28 and got 8 bags of groceries, but I did get $250 of groceries for $110. I was pretty happy with that. My weirdest one was getting $9 worth of nail polish for 45 cents. I also planned meals for the whole month and stuck to the schedule! It helped me to shop more wisely.

6. What illnesses or health concerns did I have?
Still fighting with iritis. It's getting annoying. Starting to have a flare up in my SI joints too which I'm fighting to take care of before it gets bad. The kids have been pretty healthy.

7. What were my accomplishments this month?
I started teaching a new Kindermusik class this month - Family Time. Kids ages 0-7 can all be in the same class together, and it's perfect for families who want to take a KM class, but can't have their kids all in different classes - either because of schedule or finances or would just rather do one class instead of multiple ones. I am LOVING IT! Both #1 and #2 go to class with my, and this is #1's first time in a KM class. He gets overexcited, and I have to "re-direct" his energy several times during class, but it's totally worth it.
This one might sound weird, but I got to sing at a funeral this month. We had several funerals in our church of people who really love Jesus, and had been fighting illnesses for a long time. I didn't personally know the man who died, but he told his wife before he died that I was his favorite soloist in church, and he wanted me to sing at his funeral. The family even picked out the songs they wanted me to sing, one of which I didn't know. It's called "If you could see me now." It's probably the hardest song that I've ever sung. I was able to learn them in 2 days, and sing them really, really well.

8. What were my disappointments this month?
I haven't gotten to scrapbook or blog as much as I've wanted.
One of the girls in our church seems to be distancing herself from God.
I can't seem to get myself organized to do the most important things.....

9. How did I do on my goals for the month? (Or any current short or long term goals)
My word for the year is streamline........we're working on it. I feel like I need to totally empty out the dining room cabinets and work on that room. We re-organized and re-purposed our hall closets to hold the toys better, and it's working. I also re-organized the office shelves so they look a little nicer, and I threw away a bunch of CRAP!!! Wow...I didn't realize I did all that!

10. Anything else noteworthy to include?
#1 keeps getting huge complements from his teacher (the sub from his teacher who is on maternity leave) about how tenderhearted and smart he is. They are working on money concepts, and it's amazing how much he's learning. Like...This item costs 15 cents. How many nickels do you need to buy it? When he buys those items in his class, he always is giving them to the kids who didn't get any or to his sis and bro. Maybe that's not such a big deal, but I think it is.
#3 is FINALLY getting potty training. He's wearing undies all day at home, and on short trips out. Can't wait til we don't have to carry diaper bags around any more!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Burning your iPhoto slideshow to a DVD using iDVD

Ok...So in the last post we talked about how to make your iPhoto slideshow. Now it's time to save it on a DVD that your family can watch on their TV's at home. We are going to use another Mac program called iDVD.
Let me make a note, that there are a lot of ways to customize your dvd and there are different ways to do the steps that I'm about to show you, but for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to just show you one way to do it and leave out all the other options. If you play around in iDVD, you'll find lots of neat stuff, and if you ever make a mistake hit CMD-z to undo or the delete key, and you'll see a cool puff of smoke when you get rid of your mistake! Ok! So on to step...

1) Open iDVD. When you open it, your last project will automatically show up. So go to the top of your screen and choose File - New, and you will get this dialog box....

Choose a name for your project, and where you would ultimately like it to be saved (your documents folder is the default). And you need to choose what TV screen format you want it to be created for. If you are going to be viewing this on a newer computer or a flat screen TV, pick widescreen; if it's an "old school" TV (or if you're not sure) choose standard. Then click Create!

2) On the right hand side of your window, there's a column called "Themes." iDVD has pre-set themes that will give your dvd a cohesive look. There are lots of options from super cutesy, to vintage, to modern artistic, to kinda neutral.... Pick the one you like. I chose "Vintage Vinyl." You'll see things called "drop zones" - don't freak out, we'll make those look better in a minute. Unless you are building a movie with lots of little chapters, you don't really need to worry about what the submenus look like, because this DVD won't have any.

3) Now dealing with the drop zones. On my "Vintage Vinyl" theme, there's one main drop zone - a place to put a picture to personalize the look of your main menu. There are a couple ways to add a photo or movie to your drop zone, but I'll just tell you the way I normally do it. At the bottom of that right hand column, there are 3 buttons, and one says media. Click it. That column will change and will show either all the photos, all the movies, or all the music it can find on your computer. Click on the tab for photos (at the top of the column), choose a photo, and drag it over to the drop zone, and drop it. If you don't like the way it looks, press delete on your keyboard and it will disappear in a poof of smoke. Try it! It's funny! If you'd rather have moving pictures in your drop zone, you can drag a movie over to your drop zone. If you click audio, and drag your favorite song over to the drop zone, it will replace the default song on the menu.

4) Ok, now your menu is set. Let's bring in that slideshow we worked so hard on in iPhoto. Click FILE-Import-Video, and it will look like this....

And it will bring up this dialog box.....

Find where you saved your slideshow, and click Import. (If you've forgotten where you saved your slideshow - type the name of the show in the little search box in the top right corner.)

5) The name of your show will show up next to a little bullet on your main menu! You can change the text, font, size and typeface by clicking on it once, and typing or choosing the corrections.

6) If you have more than one slideshow or movie you want to put on the DVD, repeat steps 4 and 5. Depending on what you import, you may have to make a sub menu, but it's just like making your main menu. If you click the little button at the bottom center of your screen that looks like 1 box on top of 2 boxes, it will show you the "flow chart" of your DVD and whether or not you have submenus to make. There's a button toward the bottom center of the "flow chart" page that says "return," and it will get you back to your main menu.

7) Preview!!! Once you think you have your DVD entirely built, preview it!! You'll see it the way anyone who receives your DVD will see it. It's another good way to check for mistakes.

8) Once you are satisfied with every last detail, it's time to Burn Baby Burn! Click FILE-Burn DVD.

Put in a blank dvd in your dvd burner, and click the button that's black and yellow, and you're burning! Once you burn one, it will ask you if you want to burn more.

And that's it!!!! You're DVD is done! You can throw it in your dvd or give it to a friend and enjoy. Later I'll show you a nifty little envelope thingy I made out of a piece of cardstock and some scrapbook paper scraps to hold my DVDs with. You'll love it! Thanks for looking.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Making a "Year in Review" slideshow/dvd in iPhoto

I wanted to share with you one of the most popular Christmas presents that I made this year - a "Year in Review" DVD. I had all intentions of making a bragbook using my digital scrapbooking stuff with our favorite pictures of the year to give to the grandparents, aunts and uncles this year. Well, I ran short - of time and budget - to get it done! I also had a few prints made for each family member. I decided to use iPhoto to put together a photo slideshow of some of our favorite pictures of the year, along with some of our favorite songs. It was great because I had all the photos, the software, and blank DVDs to burn them on. This present literally cost me nothing (except a few hours of work to make 8 presents!) Here's how I did it....
1) Open iPhoto
2) Click the plus sign in the lower left corner to start your project

3) A menu will pop up. Click "slideshow". Name the project. I uncheck the box under the name (unless I have already selected some of the pictures that i want in my slideshow - then I leave it checked). Then click "Create"

4) At this point your slideshow project will be in the left hand column under slideshows. You've gotta know where this is for the next step. It won't be called "events slideshow" - it will be called whatever you named it. If it's highlighted (like it is in my screenshot), you'll have a big black box in the main window...don't freak out!

5) Click on Events in the left hand column and find the photos for your project. Now drag and drop the photos you want from the events you've opened in the main window onto the name of your slideshow in the left hand column (remember from step 4?) You can drag individual photos, multiple photos (by holding down the CMD key on the keyboard and clicking on photos) or an entire event.

6) When you double click on the name of your slideshow, you'll see all the photo thumbnails across the top of the page. Drag and drop the photo thumbnails across the top of your slideshow to put the photos in the order that works for you.

7) Click on the "themes," "music," and "settings" buttons to make your show look the way you want it to. You may have to click an "apply" button to make the changes stick. iPhoto automatically saves your settings, so that even if you quit iPhoto, your slideshow settings will be saved the next time you open iPhoto.

8) Click the preview button to see what your slideshow looks like in the main iPhoto window. Clicking the play button makes it show up fullscreen. Pressing the "esc" button on your keyboard stops the playback.

9) Once you have your slideshow just the way you want it, you can keep it right where you have it, and just show it in iPhoto from your computer. Or you can share it by exporting it. Click the "export" button, and this dialog box will pop up....

You need to choose what size you want to save it on your hard drive. You need to think about what you want to do with it next. I knew I was going to burn it on a DVD to show on a TV so I did display (large would have worked too), but if you're only going to put it on youtube or your iPod, you can choose something smaller. Choose your size, click export, choose where you want to save it on your computer and what you want to name it, and you're done! The exporting process does take a few minutes as iPhoto renders the still pictures into a movie format...again...don't freak out. The more photos, the longer this will take. You should be able to watch your photos move along as it renders. Most of the time, I try to load or unload the dishwasher before the exporting is done. :o)

In my next post, I'll go thru how to take your slide show off your computer and onto a DVD to give as a gift!

Here's my finished slideshow. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One word Wednesday

Lots of Bloggers are talking about their "One Little Word" that defines and motivates them for the year. My word is STREAMLINED. Not overly exciting, I know, but it is helping me. I'm hoping that on Wednesdays, at least once a month, I'll update what I'm doing to streamline my life. The first thing is kinda fun...my husband built me a laundry chute. There's a opening in the wall in my closet upstairs, and it has a cabinet door to cover it, and the opening is directly above my washer. The great thing is that my kids think the laundry chute is so cool that they LOVE to gather their clothes and throw them down the chute. It's streamlined my life b/c now, instead of having to haul Mount Laundry-more down the stairs once a week, I do smaller loads more often.

I've also done more organizing in our closets and slowly purchasing baskets and bins to store the stuff we have. I'm also getting better at giving/donating the things that are still good to the people who could use them more. I threw away a trash can full of toys that were broken and just sitting in the toy closet.

Here's what I need to work on....Grocery shopping/menu planning. That takes me a lot of time. Thinking about planning a menu a month in advance. I'm also thinking about never buying paper plates/napkins ever again....I figure I could save almost $200 a year if I do that, but I'm not sure having to wash extra dishes/napkins will help me streamline. I'm also thinking about starting a vegetable garden, but again, I'm not sure that will help me streamline - but will make extra work. Is the extra work worth the benefit of fresh veggies and being outside with my family.

Do you have any thoughts? Any tips on grocery shopping/menu planning? Do you have "one little word?"
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