Stories about sharing memories at home

Some of My Favorite Photo Projects

Nothing brings a smile to the face of family and friends than a good photo. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to print and share the more print-worthy snapshots, I have plenty of great photos that don’t make it into a frame, on a wall or in a post on Facebook or Instagram.

However, many of these photos can be turned into handmade crafts that not only make a unique gift, but also provide a photo memento for grandparents and extended family to enjoy in their homes as functional décor. Whether you’re looking for a gift idea for an upcoming birthday, holiday gift exchange, Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, following are some of my favorite photo projects.


Coasters are a simple, inexpensive way to add personality to a coffee table or nightstand. Add photos to the mix – a series of portraits of the grandkids, the family dog over the years, or images of dad’s car collection – and your standard coaster turns into a conversation starter for parties and events or “photos for your table” as my son, Jaiden, calls them. You can create a set that features a collection of photos or individual tiles of a larger image to create a photo mosaic when displayed on a tabletop. I made a gift set for my brother’s upcoming birthday, featuring photos of him and his 1 year-old son, Vihaan. (Shhh…it’s a surprise) So easy. All you need are a few simple supplies available at your local craft store and a home photo printer. Easy, step-by-step instructions are available at


I’m always amazed at the collection of photos, cards and other items that adorn refrigerators and magnetic whiteboards in people’s homes. These creative spaces in today’s homes can say a lot about a family’s personality, organization and outside interests. Photo magnets are a fun way to share photos with family and friends and a surefire way to make sure your pics end up on loved ones doors and walls for family to enjoy. recently featured a how-to for creating personalized photo tins that can also service as magnets. The example featured here is courtesy of my fellow DIYer Merritt and her daughter Sadie. 

DIY Bridal Shower Decor

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We’ve all been called upon to host or co-host a bridal shower–it’s somewhat a rite of passage as a friend or family member. While the effort comes with great honor, it also involves a great deal of coordination and planning to incorporate elements that make the event meaningful for the guest of honor–from the theme and venue, to the food, décor and activities. However, it’s the little details that make the strongest impression on the bride-to-be and your guests.

A co-worker recently threw a shower for her sister and the photos inspired me to share her crafty ventures in the hopes it will help fellow DIYers and future shower hosts with their planning.

Q: Tell me a little about the bride-to-be’s style.Bingo 1

The term rustic chic can conjure up a range of thoughts in one’s mind–organic, countryside, vintage with a touch of whimsy. For the bride-to-be, it means comfortable, natural and organic with a tiny bit of girly mixed in for fun. For example, her dress was simple but elegant with a vintage lace bodice and A-line skirt. She added her touch of whimsy by adding rhinestones for some extra sparkle. 

Q: What was the inspiration behind the shower theme and decor?

 My goal for the shower was to mirror her style and keep things simple but elegant with a little bit of girly fun mixed in for good measure. The colors for her wedding were orange and gray and the reception was going to be outdoors, so I thought it would perfect to “marry” that with an outdoor shower as well. I used classic white linens and mason jars for the rustic and added in splashes of gray and orange with ribbons, flowers and Chinese lanterns. And, a simple orange heart used throughout décor elements was the little bit of whimsy.  

Q: What other décor elements helped bring the theme together?

In addition to a customized sign for the bride that was the focal point of the party, I wanted to incorporate a few activities that carried the theme and gave guests something to do while the bride-to-be opened gifts.

 The “Gift Opening Bingo” was a big hit among guests and was really easy to create. I simply used coordinating font from the banner and inserted a table in Word and switched gifts around in the table to create a range of Bingo cards for guests.   We also created an advice jar created with a Mason jar, ribbon and chalk label to invite guests to offer the bride-to-be some “spicy” words of wisdom. 

Q: How can readers create a personalized banner?     

I created the banner for the shower in Word using the following steps:

  1. Choose the font you want to use – I used Orniste.
  2. Put a letter on each 8.5” x 11” page
  3. Include a colored heart or another symbol for middle of banner
  4. Print, cut and paste on paper of your choosing – a matte paper works well for durability
  5. Punch holes, string with ribbon and hang

I hope the rustic-chic crafts featured in this shower how-to offer some inspiration for the next event you host and I’d love to hear the ideas behind your little details.

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Unleash Your Inner Pumpkin

Pumpkin Carving

Fall is upon us and it happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. The colors of foliage, fields of pumpkins, a splendor of frightful decorations, and let’s not forget the deliciously sweet, pumpkin-flavored treats.

Beyond the pumpkin-induced pallet frenzy, the season can inspire a range of crafts for adults and kids alike, whether it’s décor for the front door, treats for the classroom or a personal touch for your fall party with friends. We’ve put together some ideas and helpful links to help you get your pumpkin on this year.

Pumpkin Carving 101

In our house we take pumpkin carving pretty seriously. I love how pumpkin carving has evolved to a form of artistic expression that can include far more than your standard carving knife. With templates, craft paint and other seasonal accessories like fun-shaped squash, you can create some amazing Jack-O-Lanterns to lead the way for cutely cloaked trick-or-treaters. The team here at Epson created a template with dinosaurs in mind for my twin boys that you can download and print for your carving or stenciling endeavors.

Trick or Treat Fall Totes

Costume?  Check.   Trick-or-Treat route?  Check.

What about something to carry the treats the little goblins (otherwise known as children) collect along the way? Consider turning a standard canvas bag into a candy receptacle that can be used for the rest of the fall season for shopping or other hauling needs. A scan of your child’s artwork, simple text or a coordinating image to enhance this year’s costume are all great places to start. From there all you need is an iron, iron-on transfer paper and a photo printer to create a reusable tote.

Personalized Pumpkin Treats

Whether you’re hosting a fall feast or helping out for this year’s Halloween celebration in the classroom, personalized wrappers, toppers and labels are easy to create and print at home.  I’ve tagged several of my favorite ideas that I’ve seen this year – from pumpkin-tines and Boo Bars to photo booth frames and printable Halloween decor – to help you celebrate the season.

And if you want to carve your own dinosaur feet, click on the image below and download the template.

Dino Tracks Carving Pattern

Scan to Facebook How-To

Social media and the cloud have had a dramatic impact on the way we interact with others – whether on a personal or professional level. As a working mother of twin boys, I use social media and the cloud to organize my digital files and keep my family and friends updated on the boys’ endeavors and entertaining mischief.  And, like most busy moms, I love to learn about new ways to save time and integrate a new digital tool into my daily routine.

Epson recently added a new capability to its Expression Small-in-One home printers – an easy way to scan-to-Facebook and the cloud.  The new feature allows you to scan, edit and share photos, along with other fun projects, directly to Facebook or other popular cloud services all in one single workflow. While there are countless scenarios where instant photo and project sharing can come in handy, I’ve outlined a few ideas in the hopes it will inspire other ideas for minimizing clutter, getting organized and sharing more with friends and family:

  1. Digitize Your Shoebox of Photos – I’ve found that digitizing my older photos allows me to prepare for family events and my future craft projects, like restoring and printing photos for the next family reunion. With the average household containing nearly 3,000 photos stored in bins, memory albums, and old photo sleeves, scanning directly to Facebook or the cloud is an easy way to turn several years of photos into content that friends and family can enjoy.  
  1. Easy #TBT – Posting a nostalgia-inducing photo from a different era is one of my favorite ways to connect on Facebook. I love sharing old photos of familyand reminiscing with friends about the memories they bring to mind, especially for #throwbackthursday. The new Scan-to-Facebook feature makes scanning and sharing those oldies but goodies easier than ever. 
  1. DIY Kids’ Art and School Work –  In a recent a blog entry, “Scanning into summer: Tips for Sharing and Organizing Children’s Artwork,” I looked at several project ideas for digitizing and saving school artwork. With Scan-to-Facebook, you can share projects with other moms, families and friends or share special projects in new ways. For grandma’s next birthday or Dad’s Day, scan your child’s handmade card to share on Facebook and then store in the cloud to make the projects accessible on your smartphone or tablet when you’re traveling or visiting with family.  

The pictures below offer a quick how-to for scanning and sharing with friends and family on Facebook using Epson’s Easy Photo Scan Software.

Step 1:  Place the photo or project you’d like to share on the printer’s scanner bed.

Step 2:  Open Easy Photo Scan Software and click Scan to launch; click Preview to scan the image; review and click Scan Scan to Facebook_Image 1


Step 3:  When finished, click Close to close the window and open the original scan window.  If desired, you can enhance the image, including cropping, black and white and red eye correction.


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Step 4:  When ready, click the Facebook icon in the destination tab, followed by Login in the pop-up window.


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Step 5:  After you’ve successfully logged into Facebook, click Send in the pop-up window; your scanned photo or project will upload to your Facebook profile page.  Viola!


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Pretty in Pink

press tour8Anyone with daughters under the age of 10 will absolutely know two things: One, the entire soundtrack to Frozen; and two, that their birthday parties are pink and about princesses.

Being the mother of twin six-year-old boys, I’ve escaped these frilly realities of life, but that doesn’t stop me admiring the photos of parties other mothers have thrown for daughters. And while I just admire, other mothers are scouring Pinterest and other sites with serious intent, desperate for ideas for the next party. Yet some parents are realizing that a solution is closer than they think. In fact, it’s sitting on their home office desk.

“Kids’ birthday parties are expensive, and can be stressful. I used to spend $200 or more on invitations alone!” explains my colleague Stacey, mother of two girls. “My five- and three-year-olds are always changing their minds on the design—and the quantity needed.”

Luckily, Stacey realized that her Epson Expression XP-810 could solve many of her problems by setting up a print shop in her house. “Nowadays I just order printable templates from and print invitations, banners, tent cards and other décor directly from my printer,” Stacey says.

Using your home printer also makes personalizing the party decorations and favors that much easier, and cost-effective, to boot. “I’ve always loved personalized items for my daughter, and when her 6th birthday was coming up, we decided to make these cute, personalized party favor bags. She loves her name, pink and being a princess, so the design was easy,” says Diane, mother of my son’s classmate, “Princess Ione”. “They are very easy to make—perfect for busy, working moms.”

ione6Diane chose clear plastic poly bags she found at the party store, which look fancier than sandwich bags, and printed the toppers they designed on card stock. “It was so easy, my daughter did most of the work! We just filled the bags with candy, folded the topper over the bag opening and fastened it with a few staples,” says Diane. “We were both very proud of how they came out.”

Looking at sites like, it’s easy to figure out how to use a home printer to cut costs while still making a birthday party unique, whether it’s for a son or a daughter. With even less effort, customized stickers can be applied to bags from the party store, with the birthday child’s name on them, or personalized for each guest.

And since many of these ideas can be used for both boys and girls, it looks like it’s time for me to move from just being inspired by the photos and actually making some. At least I still have the advantage of twins—it means I only have to host one party for both boys!

Scanning into Summer: Tips for Sharing and Organizing Children’s Artwork

Jaiden Gallery_FinalAs parents, we have the propensity to think that our child is likely to be the next Picasso or Matisse. While my children’s artwork may or may not adorn the walls of museums and galleries across the globe some day, currently it resides in heaping piles throughout my kitchen & dining room.  While I enjoy the memories that a project represents, it’s always a struggle to sort through them and choose the special pieces to share and display.

Now that school is out I wanted to look at what other parents and crafters have done with their kids’ art.  The following is a roundup of my favorite ideas for digitizing and saving school artwork, with the help of a scanner and printer:

  1. A Framed Collage:  It’s extremely hard for me to pick just one piece of school art to frame, which is why I love this idea by blogger Ms. Moth at Moth Design. By scanning and shrinking all of your favorite art projects that you’ve collected over the year, you can fit them into one large framed display.  After scanning a selection of projects you can arrange them digitally in the desired framing size and print one single glossy or semi-glossy page.  You can also have some fun with the frame color and style you use to color coordinate with rooms and other décor items in your home.
  1. The Noteworthy:  Seeing your child’s reaction to their work printed on mini photo cards is worth the work. Identify some of the more colorful pieces from your child’s collection of projects and consider scanning and printing them onto photo quality ink jet cards to turn them into personalized greeting cards for family and friends.  You can also have the kids help embellish the note cards by adding glitter, ribbon, tags or other fun items.
  1. It’s in the Bag: Need a reusable shopping bag?  Personalize your tote by printing your favorite scanned graphics directly onto iron-on transfer paper (Hint: choose the “Flip Horizontal” option on your print settings for a mirror image).  After printing the image, simply cut the graphics, leaving 1/4” of white space around the image and iron onto your bag.
  1. Digitizing Your Favorites: Epson’s blogger Jennifer St. James recently sat down with Sara Caputo, founder of Radiant Organizing + Productivity, to look at ways to digitally organize your content. The blog post looks at Evernote – a cloud-based service that allows you to collect, organize and access information when you need it. There are some tips for capturing photos and scans and uploading to Evernote that help you ensure artwork projects are conveniently accessible on your smartphone or tablet when you’re traveling or visiting with friends and family.

I’ll revisit this in a future post to dive in deeper on scanning and organizing, but in the meantime,  would love to hear from you on some of the interesting ways you’ve shared and organized your kid’s artwork.

DIY Wall Art: Q&A with Craft Hobbyist

I encounter a range of creative enthusiasts in my daily life – Mom’s with young kids who love the opportunity to creatively capture and share images of their little ones; crafters who carve time out of their busy schedules to pursue creative projects as a means of relaxation and artistic expression; and my personal favorite group (one I aspire to be part of one day), empty nesters and retirees who spend their new free time expressing their creativity through photos and design.

Their stories have inspired me to start a series that explores my community of craft peers who are passionate about photos. My goal is to share tips, ideas and how-tos for creating with photos to help inspire others.

Enter my first creative spotlight: Merritt, mom of two and self-proclaimed DIYer, explains an easy wall art project inspired by a family trip.

Q: What inspired your latest DIY project?

A: Last Mother’s Day my family surprised me with a trip to Carmel, CA – it was a full day of sand castles, rolling in the sand and amazingly warm weather. We returned home with a camera full of images that I wanted to display together as a memento of the day without using a typical multi-photo frame.

Q: What materials are needed for the project?

A: It’s a fun and easy project that requires just a few items for the photo display:

  • 4×4 inch mini square canvas panels (quantity depends on size and number of photos for display)
  • Glossy or semi-gloss photo paper and printer
  • Mod Podge® (choose satin or gloss finish)
  • Craft satin paint as accent color for canvas edges
  • Paint brush and scissors

Q: What are the steps for creating the canvas photo display project?

Step 1: Choose the photos and quantity of images that you’d like to display. A series of six or eight square panels works nicely arranged in either a horizontal or vertical pattern on the wall.

Step 2: Crop and size photos; print two square-sized photos on glossy or semi-gloss 8×10 inch paper. Make sure to choose the corresponding media type before printing. Trim final photos from full printed sheets.

Step 3: Paint all four sides of the canvas and approximately a 1-inch border of the top of the canvas panels with an accent color. Choose a color that accents the photo or room that you’re displaying the photos. Allow drying time and repeat as needed.

Step 4: Apply Mod Podge with a clean a paint brush to the top of the canvas panel and adhere a photo. Apply even strokes of Mod Podge to the top of the photo; allow drying time and repeat 3-4 times until desired surface is achieved.

Step 5: Hang the completed photo squares in a series on the desired wall in your home or office using adhesive mini hooks and enjoy.



Mom at Blackpool

There are a few things in particular that I enjoy about Facebook. I love reconnecting with old friends I haven’t seen or spoken to in many years. I just reconnected with my old friend Richard, and learned about his life on a rice farm in the beautiful Japanese countryside with his wife and two sons. The proud Mama in me also loves to share stories and photos of my twin boys.  They dominate my FB page.

My newest favorite thing to do, however, is to share old family photos.  My parents have tons of old photos, most of which are still stowed away in shoe boxes – of themselves as young hipsters, and of me and my brother as toddlers and teens.  Of late, I’ve been stealing the occasional photo, scanning it and sharing on Facebook.  One of my recent uploads was my Mom sitting beach-side in Blackpool, England in 1966.  The beautiful picture delighted so many in my FB family – people who knew my Mom back then and friends of mine who have never had the pleasure of meeting her.  Super fun!

I equally love it when others post “throw back” photos, I enjoy baby pictures of my friends, or better yet, high-school prom pictures, complete with puffy dresses and big hair. Posting old photos has become so popular that Facebook has deemed a specific day, “Throw Back Thursday” (aka TBT), encouraging users to post old pics of themselves and/or loved ones.  So, dig up your old photos, grab a scanner, and start sharing. Not to mention, you are also digitally preserving these fabulous photos for generations to come.

Mom and Dad, scanner coming your way, so prepare to lose the shoe boxes!

Photo Medicine for the Homesick College Student

Recently my daughter left for college. Her mother and I were excited and worried—excited that she had obtained her goal, but worried that she would be homesick and lonely. Although our daughter Margaret easily makes friends, we knew that she and her sisters are very close. Additionally, she had never made it through a sleepover without one family member in the house. In fact, we were sure we’d get a call in the middle of the night to come and get her. And at her chosen college, she would be little more than a quick midnight ride away.

Fortunately, Margaret knew herself better than we thought, and planned for success. The day after high-school graduation, she started planning what she was going to take with her to college. And boy, was she well prepared as we stuffed the minivan with bedding, towels, and more. A colleague sympathized with my situation, describing the difference between guys and gals. Evidently he shipped his son to college with two suitcases, while his daughter required her own a packed minivan.

The next day we moved her in. Fortunately, the school arranged drop-off times and provided a gang of people to empty the lines of SUVs—apparently, we weren’t the only parents with daughters. Soon enough, we got ‘er all moved and in and left for our hotel.

The next morning, we dropped by to see how she’d settled in. I noticed several framed family pictures on her desk. On the wall above her bed, she assembled a huge collage of photos that she made to keep her from feeling lonely. She made the collage very simply by choosing 30 pictures from our family’s digital photo collections and printing them in 4×6 format from our printer’s photo tray. No frames were needed, nor holes drilled for hanging a corkboard. Instead, she attached them to the wall with putty for hanging pictures.

The collage contained pictures of her friends, her sisters, grandparents, and us! As her parents, we felt great to have made the cut—although the dog seemed featured prominently. One photo in particular made me laugh out loud after hearing her explanation for choosing it. “This picture is for when I am feeling homesick. Do you notice what Katie and Lydia are wearing? Every piece of clothing belongs to ME. While I love them, this will remind me of how irritating it is to not be able to find a scarf and then go downstairs to see my sister wearing it!”

Falling in Love With a New Twist on Family Cards

The Twins

Last year I received an adorable card for Valentine’s Day, and I’ll be honest: It wasn’t from my husband or kids. Don’t get me wrong—those were fantastic…even though they were a bit heavy on the glue and glitter.

But the aforementioned adorable card was a family photo card from my cousin, and its star was her beautiful 2-year-old daughter. Like most people, I’ve gotten tons of cards to celebrate the holidays and the new year from friends and families prominently featuring their twins, singletons and/or rescued pup, but this was my first family card to honor Valentine’s Day. I fell in love with the card, and not just because of the holiday.

My cousin is a busy working mom, as many of us are, and all her good intentions to send her usual family holiday card were derailed, thanks to long hours at work and a determined and debilitating flu-bug that her daughter brought home from preschool—not the holiday gift she was hoping for. Anyway, once everyone had recovered from the flu and returned to their normal routine, the holidays were long gone. While she briefly considered an “Appreciate Your Dragon” Day card (seriously, it’s January 16th), she ultimately decided to send out Valentine’s Day cards instead.

And since this was the only family Valentine’s card I received, it stood out. If it had been a holiday card, it would probably have gotten lost among the flood of cards usually sent during the holiday season and not been awarded primo positioning on our bulletin board, as it deserved.
I loved the idea so much that this year I—ahem—intentionally didn’t send out my traditional Happy New Year cards, so I can send Valentine’s Day cards this month. I perused all the recent photos on my iPhone, found the perfect one and have my cards ready to go, thanks to my XP-810 and photo cards.

Now, all I need are address labels and stamps, and I’m good to go. This 2014 it’s Valentine’s Day cards for all my friends and family! That is, unless my plans are sabotaged by one of the boys bringing home a “present” from kindergarten for me….