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Friday, August 19, 2016

Tips for Travel Photo Books

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In honor of World Photo Day  I'm sharing some photos from the pages of our Pacific Northwest photo book I made after our road trip down the Oregon Coast. You can view the entire project by clicking here.  

I designed the book using Blurb's free bookmaking software called Booksmart. It took me two days to reduce the 4,000 photos I took on our trip down to 708.  It is so important to make photobooks within the first two week of returning from a trip. (Did you catch that? Dirty laundry can wait - photo book takes priority!) I've followed this mantra ever since I returned from studying abroad in college. Back then I had to print out photos and buy albums/pages. It was SO expensive! I paid $500 for two albums from a three month trip to South America in 1997.

Fast forward almost 20 years and I now design photo books for a living. I have always used for their quality printing, affordability, and flexible page layouts.  Full disclosure: I am not being paid to say nice things about Blurb, but I do use affiliate links in my posts about them. I think 100 books using the same publisher speaks for itself, don't you?

My Pacific Coast book was less than $100 and has just over 700 photos in it. It is our favorite souvenir. PapaBear looks through it almost weekly and the kids love to show it to people who ask about our trip.

I love knowing that our adventures will remain fresh in our minds because I was able to turn around a photobook so quickly and easily with Blurb.

If you have a trip coming up or aren't sure what to do with all the photos from a recent trip read on for some easy ways to let the photographs tell the story. I've interspersed some photos of our book as inspiration. Blurb allows you to add/delete text boxes and images boxes so you can completely customize your layouts to fit your needs. It makes the design process much less stressful! 

1. Keep text simple and use an easy to read font. Save the script fonts for the front and back cover.

2. If you have more than one kid be sure to get a few pictures of them individually.

3. Take panoramic photos of locations when you first arrive to help you orientate yourself with the setting when you get  home. Even if you never add the photo to your book it will help you remember what's what. This is especially helpful for road trips and beach trips.


4. Just because I like to minimize the text in a book doesn't mean I don't like to tell the story. I prefer to do both at the same time.

I love common threads throughout books. Like the 'Day #' series and the detail shots of each motel room number. (We stayed in nine different motels so it would have been very easy to let them all run together in our minds.)

5. Speaking of motels...If you are fast enough you can snap a few photos of the room before the littles spread stuff from one end to the other and help bring back the memories of that particular stop. I lived the chaos of traveling with three kids for 10 days down the Oregon Coast  and into California. I don't need any reminders of that part, but the comfy couch we sat on and watched the tide come in from, or the panoramic views in one of the motels will help set the scene....if you are fast enough to beat everyone into the room that is.

6. I've mentioned this before when I wrote about vacation/travel books, but I thought this was a good example of a detail shot. When I see those black rocks I can hear the sound they made when the waves rushed over them.

Despite the sheer size of the Redwoods we still took notice of the little things along the way. The contrast between the giants and the forest floor connects you to the photograph and draws you into the scene. That folks is what you want - to be drawn in, transported back to the moment. That is the stuff good travel books are made of.

7. Hand the camera to one of your kids so you can have a picture of mom and dad. People usually include the whole family if possible or one parent takes a photo of all the kids with the other parent. Mix it up! Take a photo with one child and one parent. You won't regret it!

8. Let your kids use your camera for some shots from their perspective.  My 11 year old took the foggy photograph below and it is one of my favorite from our whole trip.

9. Take photos of signs - even if they never make it into your book it will help you identify where you were and how far you hiked when you are designing the book.

Sometimes the signs are so different from what you see at home that you want to include them! I can almost feel the moisture from the hike we took in the scene below. There is probably still mud in the tread of the shoes we wore that day!

More signs...

10. If you traveled to more than one location create a collage for the cover instead of limiting yourself to one photograph.

So there you have it! Ten tips for making your next travel photo book the best it can be! I hope to share some more about the specific places we went on our trip with some travel tips in upcoming posts. We researched for a long time before taking this trip, but it was incredible and totally worth it!

Now it's your turn...what is your best photo book tip? Travel or otherwise....

P.S. We are starting to build our own little travel library! After six years of being tied to the park this is a huge deal for us. If you want to travel to two of our favorite places with us check out Up North and Up River in my Blurb Bookstore for a book preview. 

If you have a trip you want me to get into a book for you don't hesitate to contact me! I teach classes on how to get caught up on your memory keeping or I can do the whole project for you. Thanks to technology I have been privileged to work with people in foreign countries and from coast to coast right from the comfort of my sleepy mid-western town.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Easy Crockpot Lasagna

It's that time of year where things are just starting to get ripe in the garden, but not enough at once to do much more than enjoy a BLT or two. In a few short weeks I'll be up to my elbows in tomatoes, but until then I grab what is ripe and dice them to add to whatever dinners I can. This past Saturday that dinner was a crock pot lasagna recipe I came up with to serve our guests on a HOT and steamy evening when I didn't want to have the oven on or spend too much time in the kitchen cooking. We had some leftover chopped green peppers, onion, and jaune flamme tomatoes from the homemade relish I made for hotdogs/brats the night before so I added those to the sauce. I have been cooking long enough to eyeball ingredient amounts, but when I first started cooking or if I'm looking up a new recipe I definitely want a solid starting point so never fear - the following recipe has exact amounts if that's how you roll.

There are a lot of crock pot lasagna recipes out there so how do you know which one to choose? If you are like me, you scroll through the ingredients for things you already have in the kitchen or aren't too expensive to grab at the store. You also want to know if it has a lot of flavor and IF YOUR KIDS WOULD EAT IT,  right?  I have a picky eater who hates veggies, but they cook down so much in the crockpot that he didn't notice them.

As far as flavor goes, this recipe calls for HOT pork sausage. I didn't even have to add a single spice to the crockpot because I picked a spaghetti sauce with a lot of flavor and spicy sausage.  To be safe, add a couple tablesppones of Italian seasoning and pick the best sauce you can afford.  I loved the Prego Roasted Garlic Parmesan kind.

Easy No Cook Noodle Crock Pot Lasagna Recipe

1 lb hot pork sausage (or hamburger with 2T of Italian seasoning added)
1 1/2 jars spaghetti sauce
1 chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
chopped veggies of your choice (can omit, but is a great way to add nutritional value!)
8 lasagna noodles (no need to pre cook)
2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Brown meat and drain. Stir in sauce and veggies.

Add a portion of the sauce to the bottom of your crock pot then top with two layers of noodles broken as needed to cover meat/sauce/veggies.

sprinkle a portion cheese on top.

Repeat until you run out of ingredients, but be sure to end with cheese on top.

It can be helpful to drizzle a little sauce from the 1/2 of jar remaining around the edges of the crockpot to help keep the noodles from drying out.

Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Keep an eye on it! This is NOT your cook all day while you are at work kind of crockpot meal.

Serves 6.


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