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Summer 2014: Through the Lens

“Making Memories” – Isn’t that what summer is all about?

Here at Off the Merry-Go-Round, we’ve been busy making memories, enjoying summer, with our families. We’ve gathered some of our favorite summer snapshots to share with you. Click on any photo to open a slide show… Enjoy!

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Preserving Old Scrapbooks: Taking your grandmother’s baby pictures into their next century

SCAN Venetian Alley

By Chris Little

My great-grandmother Ethel was an intermittently devoted scrapbooker—in high school she clipped and saved newspaper articles detailing school activities and local events she’d attended. In the early years of her marriage she created beautiful scrapbooks of her honeymoon trip to Europe and her children’s infancies and childhoods.

SCAN Amalfi Coast

Today these scrapbooks are more than a century old! They’re in pretty good shape, but they won’t always be. I have been at a loss as to how to preserve them—what’s the best way to store them? And what about acids in the paper pages—were they slowly destroying the photographs? Meanwhile, I’d like to make good digital copies of the old photographs to preserve them—but the scrapbook pages are bigger than my scanner bed. Should I disassemble the scrapbooks, scan the images, and then reassemble them in archival-quality albums? That sounds like a risky proposition, and I’d lose all of Ethel’s charming inscriptions.

FlipPad

Enter my new Flip-Pal mobile scanner! Battery-operated and completely portable, the scanner is set up so that I can just place it over the scrapbook page (or the old family Bible record page, or any document I can’t drop onto my full-size scanner bed), press a button, and scan the image to an SD memory card for upload to my hard drive later.

The scanner’s software even digitally “stitches together” multiple images of a large scrapbook page into one image. Below are six scans I quickly took of one page as an example:

SCAN upper left SCAN upper right SCAN middle left SCAN center center SCAN lower right SCAN lower left

And here’s the final digitally “stitched” version of a scrapbook page my great-grandmother made celebrating the birth of her daughter, my grandmother:

scrapbook page

Yes, that top left corner is a little tight. When I do this for real I’ll loosen the string binding so I can get a better scan of each corner. Still, pretty awesome! So the Flip-Pal will take care of digitally preserving Ethel’s scrapbooks. But what about preserving the scrapbook itself?

Old scrapbooks are tricky because they typically contain so many different types of materials—everything from newspaper clippings to hair ribbons to pressed-flower corsages. These materials each have their own storage requirements, and some of them, like newspaper, are highly acidic and therefore can damage other materials in the scrapbook. And then there’s the glue, tape, and other adhesives that also can be hard on the items they affix to the scrapbook. Even worse, the paper pages of the scrapbook itself can be destructively acidic.

Storage. The key to stewarding old scrapbooks into their second century is keeping them cool, dark, and dry—no more than 65 degrees and 40 percent humidity. Temperature and humidity fluctuations cause scrapbook contents to absorb moisture and expand, then dry out and contract—increasing damage to bindings, adhesives, and the materials themselves. For this reason, beware of keeping your old scrapbooks in damp basements or attics with poor insulation. I just moved all of my great-grandmother’s scrapbooks to the guest room closet—it’s dark, cooler than the other rooms in the house, but pretty much stays the same temperature all year. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I’ve got.

Rehabilitation? I’m pretty sure my great-grandmother’s scrapbooks are constructed of paper boiling with acid that’s slowly eating away at her photographs. My first impulse on discovering them was to deconstruct them and rearrange their contents into nice new bindings, on archival paper, with inscriptions copied in acid-free ink. The National Archives, however, cautions against doing that in most cases—and never before making good-quality photocopies or scans of each page. It turns out that the old black-paper scrapbook albums aren’t all that bad, and even disassembling those old self-stick albums we used to use can be tricky. The key here is to proceed with caution, and only after researching the alternatives. Sometimes the best way to preserve an old scrapbook is just to store it safely.

Want to learn more? Happily, there are many, many resources out there. For instance, the National Archives provides excellent guidance on preserving all kinds of family artifacts. The Library of Congress offers information on caring for and storing old photographs. And the Smithsonian Institute even provides a list of purveyors of archiving supplies! So do some reading and equip yourself to preserve your valuable family artifacts for your children and grandchildren. Then tell us about them!

Girls’ Getaway: Scrapbooking

This scrapbook page by my friend Paula is a slam dunk!

This scrapbook page by my friend Paula is a slam dunk!

By Karen Hendricks

Photos have a wonderful way of reconnecting us to treasured moments, past events and important people in our lives. But as a busy mom, I am guilty—like most of you too, I imagine—of leaving those precious photos on my digital camera cards, or on my iPhone way too long. I try to stay up-to-date with downloading them, organizing them, saving them to CDs and backing them up in the cloud. But printing them? That happens pretty infrequently, I’m sad to say.

So it was a joy to work with hundreds of photos this past weekend, and chip away at an on-going project: scrapbooks for all three of my children. My friend and fellow Off the Merry-Go-Round writer Ruth organized a scrapbooking girls’ getaway weekend at an area hotel. About 25 of us filled our vehicles with bins and crates bursting with albums, photos, scrapbooking supplies—and much smaller in comparison, our overnight bags. We gathered in the hotel conference room and “scrapped” to our hearts’ content from Friday afternoon straight through til Sunday around noon.

If you have never participated in an event like this, I highly recommend it! My fellow blogger Jen wrote previously about the benefits of girls’ getaways (click here). So not only does an event like this provide plenty of time to nurture friendships—both old and new—it also provides time to preserve some of your family’s history. My friend and fellow writer Chris has been writing about her incredible journey researching and preserving her family history (click here for her latest post). While scrapbooking was a popular hobby for the past few years, it is sadly trending downward in popularity. Perhaps the biggest reason is that it’s time-consuming. I am sticking with it, because I feel as though the results are worth the effort—scrapbooking is a modern way of preserving our family’s history. And it provides a fun, creative outlet!

Over the course of the weekend, there were women scrapbooking memories of Disney vacations, baby days, family weddings, 4th of July fireworks, lots of sporting events including basketball games and Super Bowls, even marathons they ran, and the list goes on and on… what a treasure trove of incredible moments in our lives. It was an inspirational weekend that provided a real sense of accomplishment for all of us. Even though my oldest daughter is in college, her scrapbook was stuck in the 5th grade. At the end of the weekend, at least I brought her into the middle school years! Enjoy these photos, chronicling our fun—and creative—weekend:

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Setting the scene… scrapbooking madness is underway!

Diane even has a supply of ribbons, organized by color, to embellish her pages... wow!

Diane even has a supply of ribbons, organized by color, to embellish her pages… wow!

Memories of a Christmas cookie marathon... mmmm

Mmmmm… Memories of a Christmas cookie marathon, by Bev.

Beautiful fall memories... by Gretchen

Beautiful fall memories… by Gretchen

Scrapbooking takes a lot of energy... good thing we have Gary's Famous Chicken Corn Soup (made and delivered by Ruth's husband). Delish!

Scrapbooking takes a lot of energy… good thing we have Gary’s Famous Chicken Corn Soup (made and delivered by Ruth’s husband). Delish!

Scrapbooking smiles... Ruth and I

Scrapbooking smiles… Ruth and I

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My scrapbooking buddy Susan created an awesome Steelers page… that is quite a compliment coming from an Eagles fan 🙂

Heather's creativity sparked a spectacular fireworks page!

Heather’s creativity sparked a spectacular fireworks page!

The room as a ghost town by 1:30 am... Gretchen and I were the "last men standing."

The room was a ghost town by 1:30 am Friday night/Saturday morning… Gretchen and I were the “last men standing.”

What a creative Easter-themed page... love the photos trimmed into egg shapes.

What a creative Easter-themed page… love the photos trimmed into egg shapes.

Even a scrapbook page featuring photos from a whale watch!

Even a scrapbook page featuring photos from a whale watch!

Saturday night's dessert... Butterfinger Angel Food Delight

Saturday night’s dessert… Butterfinger Angel Food Delight

And this is what a scrapbooker's car looks like... all packed up and ready to head home. Great memories!

And this is what a scrapbooker’s car looks like… all packed up and ready to head home. Great memories!

Do you maintain family photo albums or scrapbooks? What are your tips for printing photos, journaling or scrapbooking? And have you taken the time for a “girls’ weekend?” We’d love to hear your stories…

The Cure for Anything is Salt Water…

IMG_5549webBy Karen Hendricks

I’m convinced that scrapbooking is a disease.

I absolutely love to scrapbook, but I never seem to have enough time to keep up with it. That guilty feeling of always being “behind” is awful. (I’m currently about 5-7 years behind, trying to maintain albums for all three of my children, in addition to a family vacation-themed album.) Nevertheless, I keep plugging away. Someday, I’ll catch up, right? The eternal optimist…

And I know I’m not alone. I think every one of my scrapbook-addicted friends is in the same boat. We’re all in this madness together. Part of the struggle is staying organized… downloading pictures, labeling/tagging them, having them printed, finding the right supplies–whether you’re using scissors and paper in hand or going online to “virtually scrapbook”–it all takes time.

However, once I get over all of those speedbumps, finding the time to scrapbook, magically turning my dining room into scrapbook heaven… it truly is a special time to re-live wonderful family memories. Now that we’ve turned the page to fall, I’m trying to organize my summer photos so that when I am finally caught up to present day scrapbooking, I’ve clearly labeled and saved all the photos that I need.

I go for long stretches without doing any scrapbooking, so when I do get back into it, I sometimes need a little inspiration to get me started. Ideas for layouts as well as theme-related quotes or titles give me a jump-start.  So my friend and fellow blogger Ruth kindly loaned me some of her gorgeous scrapbooks. I’ve snapped a few pictures of some of her layouts, combined with mine, for a little summer scrapbook inspiration (both digital and traditional).  I also compiled a list of some of my favorite beach-themed titles and sayings. I hope you enjoy both!

Feel free to “comment” and share your strategies for scrapbooking organization and/or inspiration… scrapbook “addicts” need all the help we can get! 🙂

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Summertime / Beach Titles and Quotes:

  • A day in the sun
  • A day in paradise
  • Beach bums
  • Beach babes
  • Basking in the sun
  • Happy as a clam
  • You are my sunshine
  • Beating the heat
  • Sizzling fun
  • No school! School’s out!
  • Tank tops & flip flops
  • Time for bare feet
  • Sandy toes
  • Catch a wave
  • Lemonade and lazy days of summer
  • Hot days and cool ice-cream
  • Summer Breezes
  • Castles in the sand
  • Blue skies & sunshine
  • Sun, Sand, Sea
  • Surf’s up
  • The ocean heals the heart, mind, and soul. (unknown)
  • “The cure for anything is salt water–sweat, tears, or the sea.” (Isak Dinesen)
  • “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” (Mother Teresa)
  • “Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone.” (unknown)
  •  “The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” (Jacques Cousteau)
  • “Eternity begins and ends with the ocean’s tides.” (Unknown)
  • “The beach is not a place to work; to read, write or to think.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)
  • “If you want to know how much I love you, count the waves.” (unknown)
  • “One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach.” ( Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

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Related posts:

Vacation: Same Time, Same Place — Next Year!

Summer Memories

Dreaming of Summer: Vacation Tips

Priceless Treasure: Tips for Great Family Photos

Picture-Perfect Gift Ideas

Summer Memories

By Karen Hendricks

Ok, I know it’s officially fall on the calendar now. However, I feel as though fall was forced upon us this year. Candy corn started appearing in the grocery store in mid-August, before the summer’s salt water taffy supply had run out. Even Mother Nature was rushing into fall–most of August was unseasonably cool here in the mid-Atlantic. September (which IS still summer, through the 21st) has been a bit chilly. I feel cheated.

So, in an attempt to bring back some summertime warmth, I’ve put together a collection of favorite photos from our family beach vacation in Bethany Beach, Delaware. I snapped all of the photos below during an early-morning adventure. That morning, we all woke up (some of us easier than others) around 4:45, packed up a basket of goodies, and enjoyed breakfast on the beach as we watched the sun rise over the ocean. It’s one of my most treasured memories of the entire week and I’m glad we made the effort to roll everyone out of bed.

Beach Sunrise 02

5:18 am – The sky is brightening… Some of us are still sipping warm tea and relaxing on the picnic blanket, while some of us are exploring the beach

Beach Sunrise 01

I was intrigued by this children’s flip-flop, which someone had kindly stuck atop the beach fence, in hopes that the owner would easily spot it and reclaim it. There are indeed kind people in the world…

Beach Sunrise 03

5:25 am – Isn’t it incredible, that no two pictures of the ocean are the same? I love trying to capture the variety of rippling effects made by waves crashing on the beach

My husband always has an interesting relationship with the birds at any given beach... I'm not sure what that's all about...

My husband always has an interesting relationship with the birds at any given beach… I’m not sure what that’s all about…

Beach Sunrise 04

Fishermen try their luck in the pre-dawn hours…

Beach Sunrise 05

5:33 am – The warm glow of the sun is starting to break through the morning’s overcast skies…

Beach Sunrise 07

Don’t you love the birdie posing for a pic along the surf?

Beach Sunrise 08

5:38 am – My daughter captures the sparkle of sunshine we’re beginning to see across the ocean

Beach Sunrise 09

Gorgeous colors and the promise of a beautiful day at the beach

Beach Sunrise 10

5:40 am – I think this might be my favorite pic of the entire series

Beach Sunrise 12

Our three loves…

Beach Sunrise 11

The reflection of sunshine stretches across the sand… would that be called “sandshine?”

Beach Sunrise 13

5:45 am – Hurray! An hour into our adventure, we’ve successfully watched the sun rise over the Atlantic.

Although it’s something that happens every day, how often do we truly stop to watch the sun rise (or set)? This was our one day to see the entire process, to soak it all in, and tuck those memories away to warm us on cool fall and winter days. It was a simple, but beautiful way, to enjoy time “off the merry-go-round” as a family.

How do you keep vacation memories alive? What special moments stand out during your summer travels?

First Day… Hurray?

By Karen Hendricks

Here comes the bus... Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here comes the bus… Source: Wikimedia Commons

‘Tis the season… The back-to-school season! Do you cheer with a “Hurray” or reach for the tissues? Are your kids excited or scared–or both? The phrase “back to school” conveys a variety of emotions and meanings:

  • The excitement of new beginnings
  • Sadness over the end of summer vacation
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Changes… a new grade, perhaps a new school, a different bus
  • Another year older
  • The passage of time
  • Time moving too quickly
  • Milestones
  • Growing up
  • Happiness at being reunited with friends
  • Worrying about finding classrooms
  • Picking out and planning the first day of school outfit
  • Brightly-colored, new backpacks
  • New sneakers, squeaky-clean
  • Getting back into a familiar school day routine
  • Adjusting to new schedules
  • Dreading homework
  • Yellow pencils, pink erasers
  • Early mornings and alarm clocks
  • Posing for first day of school pictures

I think you can see all of these emotions and examples, in the photo collection (below) from our Off the Merry-Go-Round bloggers and families, as they rang in the first days of school recently. Enjoy! Wishing our readers and their families all the best, as we all embark upon a new school year together.

What does the first day of school mean to you? Make sure you take pictures to capture these precious moments and emotions!

(Click on any of the photos to open a slideshow.)

Celebrating Mothers

“A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.”

-Honore de Balzac

In the spirit of this quote, we gathered some of our favorite “mom”  photos through the years. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open a photo gallery… enjoy and Happy Mother’s Day!

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

-Abraham Lincoln