Photo Books Made Quick and Easy with the Chatbooks App and Instagram

Asia cover

With Spring Break just around the corner, I thought I would share how I make travel photo books!  Too many times the photos I take on vacation either stay on my SD card or phone and never make it onto my computer – and if they do happen to make it onto my computer, they never get any farther than that!

Last summer, we took a three week trip to SE Asia and I was determined to record it, share the photos with friends and family while we were in Asia and have a photo book at the end!

I came up with this idea and it worked flawlessly!!  Enjoy!

asia 2


1. Set up a new Instagram account for vaction photos – i.e. JaneDoeVacationPhotos. (I prefer having a special account for vacation photos so I don’t have to sift through all my day-to-day Instagram posts to see my vacation photos.) If you already have an Instagram account you will need to provide a different email for your new Instagram account – just open a new email account – i.e.

2. Make your new account private or public. I made ours private because we were gone for three weeks and I did not want strangers to know we were away from home.

3. Send friends and family the name of your new Instagram account so they can follow your adventures! (If your account is private, you will need to accept their request to follow you)
4. Download Chatbooks app & set up Acct with Credit card info
5. Link Chatbooks app to your new Instagram Acct
6. Take loads of pictures every day and upload to Instagram at night using hotel Wi-Fi with journal descriptions.
asia 3
6. Order a “custom” book at end of trip. The custom book can be up to 366 pages. Lengthy journal entries will print on their own page. When you have uploaded 60 photos, Chatbooks will send you a confirmation – do not click “order” or you will end up with lots of little books about your trip. Wait until the end of your trip and order a custom book of the entire trip!
7. Consider making your Instagram trip account open to the public after you get home! If it is not filled with lots of personal information – you may want to share your adventures with the world! Whether you make it public or private, it is really nice to have a dedicated vacation account everyone can enjoy for years to come in addition to a nifty photo book!
To get you started, here is a promo code for a free book at Chatbooks – just cut and paste it into the app! Promo Code: U74CFNN
**This is not a sponsored post & I have not been compensated in any way to mention Instagram or Chatbooks.

Scrapbooking with Iphone photo apps – made EASY (Part 1)

I have a cousin named Maureen who is an amazing scrapbooker. Her scrapbooks are like works of art – the layout, her color choices, use of space, font selection, etc. – she is a true “scrapbooker”. 

I on the other hand, am someone who loves scrapbooks – but try as I might, I just cannot make all the elements come together.  I can order the prints. I LOVE to go to craft stores and buy all sorts of beautiful paper, stickers, tapes, pins, jeweled brads & tools. I love all the organizational bins & folders.

But when it comes time to sit down and organize all those photos, date them, narrate them and use all those wonderful stickers and ribbon, it is soooooo frustrating that I end of getting very little done, and just throw everything back in the box.

When I bought an iPhone and discovered some fantastic and easy apps, everything changed and I developed a “SYSTEM” that is easy & fast and when I am ready to make the pages, everything is dated and narrated AND the photos are already laid out!!

While my scrapbooks are not works of art like Maureen’s, I still get to use all those wonderful little decorations and we actually have a scrapbook to sit down and look through – which is better than a box of mixed up photos any day!  The narrations are way better than anything I could try to pull from memory – because I write them within hours of taking the photo!….usually!

Scrapbooking with Iphone apps – made EASY, divided into three posts (I post on Wednesdays at 11:30 MT).

1. Scrapbooking with an iPhone – my SYSTEM & apps

2. Apps I love & how I use them. Grids, Fun labels & Filters (tutorial).

3. Tying up the loose ends from parts 1 & 2, extra apps – everything comes together!


APPS: Get these apps and start playing around with them.

  • Bill Atkinson’s Photo Card  Free    (Buy PayPal credits – costs about $2 to print & mail a      5 x 7 double side laminated postcard.)
  • PicFrame  $.99    (Great for combining up to 5 photos into a picture grid and includes great labels “stickers” for labeling photo. You can save your picture in high res.)
  • Montage Magic  $.99     (How this app is only $ .99 I will never know. It is the only app I have ever run across that might actually be worth $10 – yes, it is that good!  Lots of backgrounds, lets you drag photos & words around the screen and pinch or zoom to change the size.  Also, allows you to download free fonts within the app from font sites on the internet. You can save your picture in high res. so everything is crystal clear).

They are so easy, you probably won’t even need next week’s tutorial post, but I will show you some settings that are good to know about, etc.

MY SCRAPBOOK “SYSTEM” – I swear to you, this is easy and it works.

  • Take a picture or a bunch
  • Use PicFrame or Montage Magic to label one photo or make up to five photos into a grid/collage and label.  Save to “Camera Roll” in High Resolution.
  • Use Bill Atkinson’s Photo Card to make your previously saved pic or grid/collage into a postcard.

  • On the back, write a letter to yourself about the picture(s) and mail it to yourself.
  • When your postcard arrives in the mail, throw it in your “scrap box**” (mine is in the kitchen) until you are ready to deal with it.
  • When you are ready to use the postcard for a scrapbooking page, make a copy of the back and cut out the narration you wrote to yourself.  Choose your paper, tape on the postcard and copied narration, decorate and slide it into the plastic sleeve of your scrapbook!
  • DONE!

**The black and white box in the title photo holds ALL of my supplies – Paper, stickers, adhesive ribbon, brads, double stick tape, scissors, labels and lots of Washi Tape!!  The scrap box’s “home” is on the floor, tucked into the corner under the breakfast bar in the kitchen – it’s pretty and no one notices it anyway (-or you could always keep it in a cabinet). The fact that this box lives in my kitchen is one of the “keys” to my successfully keeping up with a scrapbook because the kitchen is where I go through the mail.

I use a 8.5 x 11 scrapbook because the size for page layout is easier for me. I buy them at Hobby Lobby (in our city, Michael’s does not carry this size of scrapbook or paper).

P.S. Yes, this is the second time I have mentioned PhotoCard. No, I have not been paid to promote it – it is quite simply my “go to” photo card app and it is better than the others I have tried… leaps and bounds!

By Eleanore Macnish

My favorite iPhone Photo Collage App…in the whole wide world

iPhone App Montage Magic – in a word….MAGICAL!  A tutorial…..

  • Can you save in Hi-Res? YES!
  • Can you import fonts from the internet? UNBELIEVABLY, YES!!!
  • Can you move stuff around and rotate and scale photos and text by dragging and tilting your finger position? YES!
  • Is there an in-app tutorial? YES!
  • Is it really, really easy to use? YES!
  • Will you show me how to use it? YES YES YES!….if you click on the pictures below to enlarge them!

At this point, just “Go for it!” and play around with it!

I found out about this app through a fantastic blog called iOs Photo Apps and they even have a video tutorial!!  Yay!

By Eleanore Macnish

Friday’s Gift……”Saving Graces”

“Why Ellie Mac – Tart of Life?  Why do you think these things are so “fly”?”

Because they “rock” – that is why!

#1. Bill Atkinson’s Photo Card iPhone App – Ohhhh yes, there are so many photo card apps and I have many of them; but this one is the one I keep going back to time after time! Easy to use, fantastic quality & customer support, 5×7 postcard (laminated front and back) arrives in your mailbox…, love, love!  A “saving grace” for me because I tend to document my child’s life on my phone!  I take a picture with my phone, choose it as the front image, type a message on the back (there is plenty of room), add little “stickers” -the heart and basketball in this photo), send it to myself and sometimes others – Done! Yay!!

You buy PayPal credits ahead of time, so you never have to enter your credit card info or “log in” – you just choose if you want to email the card (free) or have it sent in the mail. It costs $2 to send the card by mail.  Particularly helpful when on vacation! – you just compose one card and choose as many recipients as you would like from your contact list!

#2.  Stuck On You ID Labels.  Ok, I know at the outset this might seem like a “no big deal” thing………and in that case you would be wrong…….so very very WRONG!  A friend of mine (April Young) turned me on to these about 5 years ago and I love them so much, I even have a set for myself with my email address!

This is why they are so amazing:

  • They are dishwasher & microwave safe.
  • They are vinyl (not paper!)
  • You can put them on the inside of shoes & coats
  • They are so small, kids are not embarrassed of them (the ones in this link are about the width of your pinkie finger nail) – and you can trim them down to just their name to make them even smaller.
  • They come in “cool” colors.
  • Stick them to everything!  Mobile phones, tools, inside of luggage, loop around the zipper of anything, cameras, chargers (think “Girls weekends” when everyone is plugging their charger into any available socket and everyone’s is the same), iPods, iPads, Nintendos, laptops, key fobs, notebooks – a bottle of wine – ha! – anything you do not want to lose – slap one of these babies on it and you’re good to go!
  • Think: Every single freakin’ thing you send your kid to school with – lunch boxes, cups, supplies – anything you want back or don’t want to have to buy again if it is lost – think about that my friend!

This a NOT a sponsored blog post – these are just things I love and thought you would like to know about – that is if you don’t already know about them!

Enjoy your weekend!

By Eleanore Macnish

How to waterproof your Laptop ….ALMOST!

Your laptop and liquids of any kind are NOT friends….no matter how much you want them to be friends, they will never, ever be friends!

Red wine can actually be good for your heart, but is ALWAYS bad for your Laptop!….as is white wine, Diet Coke, water, coffee, hot chocolate, etc.

The picture of the laptop in the above photo was my beloved laptop BEFORE & AFTER I spilled wine on it…..It’s “all fun and games” until someone spills a glass of wine on the keyboard!!!

Actually, there were no “fun & games” to speak of — it was just me, sitting in my studio, answering email and reaching for a glass of wine “without really looking”…..and it cost me dearly!

A couple of days after I ruined my “beloved” laptop, I went out and purchased a new laptop (on which I am writing this blog post).  When I purchased my new laptop, I also purchased a silicone “skin” for the keyboard.

I felt mildly protected, but the the edges of the skin kind of “flare up” (exposing the keyboard – scary! I think it is actually meant as a protection from dust), it was “clunky” when I had to write more than a few words (I found myself removing it any time I needed to “really write”), and there was no protection for the speaker holes. All in all, not the greatest solution.

“From now on, must I drink EVERYTHING FROM A SIPPY CUP!?” I lamented………but then I came up with an “idea”….a most wonderful, ingenious, and perfect idea!

“What if I wrapped my keyboard in that “Glad” Press n’ Seal” stuff that sticks to everything, including itself?!”

Yay!! – it works! The track pad responds beautifully, the keys are the same as if they had no covering at all;  I can wrap the whole keyboard and cut out areas for the side panels (USB port, cd slot, etc) but still allow for the wrap to make contact and seal the top of my laptop!  “But what about the speakers?” you ask? ….I don’t know how it works, but the speakers (even though covered) work almost as well – quite honestly, with no discernible difference to my “rookie” ears!

Although the photo above does not show it, I snapped on my plastic laptop cover (Amazon $20) and it anchors the plastic wrap really well! If you do not have a snap-on cover, just tape the wrap to the underside of your computer in a few spots.

When you want to change out your “Glad Press ‘n Seal Keyboard Protection Layer”,  just turn off your computer and wipe off your keys with a kitchen towel moistened with a bit of alcohol and water to get rid of the little residual dots! Do NOT use Windex or anything like it….those products degrade (break down) plastic…..because they are designed for glass.

Disclaimer: This method does not completely waterproof your computer and I am not liable for any damages to your computer.  This is just something I have found works for me and I wanted to share it.

By Eleanore Macnish

Nickelodeon, You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself!

Nickelodeon Game Screen Shot. DRUNK GIRL….would you grab a camera or hold her hair back?

Let me preface what I am about to say with this:  I completely agree that parents are responsible for policing their kids internet activity, app downloads, etc. – be it through internet site restricting software, keeping track of apps that have been downloaded through iTunes accounts, etc.  Also, I am a pretty laid back Mom; not completely “hands off” by any means – but pretty laid back.

That said, here we go!!!…….

I take issue with the content of this Nickelodeon games app for kids rated 12+.  I think some of the content is so crude and belittling, it is inappropriate for any kid under 18 (and even then, the picture of the girl on the floor in front of the toilet with the choice of “let me grab a camera” is base and degrading no matter how you look at it).  It is also troubling that it was the Nickelodeon brand name that made it attractive to my daughter and she felt “safe” downloading it because Nickelodeon is a “kid” brand (and I am sure she probably saw the 12+ rating and thought it all the more enticing (she is 10)….but still felt safe downloading it because it was Nickelodeon).

***The responsibility to monitor her downloads falls solely on my shoulders and I failed (obviously)…..HOWEVER — how in the HELL is this appropriate even for kids 12+? Really?

Seriously – if my daughter were 12, this would be “OK,” Nickelodeon? REALLY?!?

The ANSWER is no!  NO! –  Nickelodeon, this is NOT appropriate for a 12 year old, a 13 year old….to be quite honest, I do not know what age for which this might be considered appropriate….but I DO know it is not 12 year olds.

Here is my story and I’m stickin’ to it…..see what you think.

Last night, I was sitting in bed with our 10 year old daughter, Eliza, and looking at an iPad game pack she had downloaded called Nickelodeon Addicting Games; a free iPhone/iPad/iPod app containing 36 games.

We opened  Ingenious Personality Quiz, which shows you about 20 screens in succession with photos and asks “What would you do” or has you choose between two options. As we were playing, some things started popping up that were really crude…..and then the one in the picture above popped up with the drunk girl on the floor and the player being asked to choose between one of two actions; “Let me grab a camera” or “Let me hold your hair”.   “Arrag!  Oh my GOSH! What is this game!?!?” I screeched.  “What? What’s wrong?” my daughter asked – she didn’t understand the photo (thank goodness!)  We kept playing, pretty much because I wanted to know what “awful thing” was next and trusting it wouldn’t be too bad because it was a Nickelodeon App……

As we played, other amusing questions/choices on Ingenious Personality Quiz included (not in the order in which they appeared):

What do you see? The choice being “a goblet”  or  “Girls about to kiss!” (my problem is not with “girls” about to kiss but rather making sexual inferences where there are none – AND making any sexual inferences in a game for 12 year olds) – it is a classic optical illusion!  Couldn’t it be “a goblet”  or  “faces”!?!

I Would Use This To (cans of spray paint):  – “Paint dolphins and unicorns and faries and flowers”  OR  “Tag stuff.”

My Greatest Fear Is: A picture of a naked man (waist down) in business socks and shoes clutching his legs together in what appears to be a bathroom, shielding his groin area with his hands  OR  a picture of a mobile home.

This Is A (picture of a hammer): The choice is a “multi-directional impact generator” OR “answer to any argument”.

Eliza started to get a bit nervous at my reaction to the Personality game and said “No Mom!  Look at this one!  You will like this one!”.  We opened High School Cheerleader – which is like any dance game where you are given cues on which step/direction to take and graded on your ability to follow the steps at the right time.  Upon opening High School Cheerleader, you are given a line-up of “girls” to choose as your avatar.  I balked at the avatars, but since this game is rated Tween+, my daughter defended it because she is indeed a “Tween” (defined as: A child between middle childhood and adolescence, usually between 8 and 12 years old) and “it’s from Nickelodeon, Mom!”.  So apparently, this game is OFFICIALLY designed for children 8 years and older……REALLY? (click on the photo….really?!)

…and if you are wondering, yes, it IS weighing heavily on my heart that I “dropped the ball” and when she has yelled from two rooms over “Hey Mom! Can I download this app? It’s from Nickelodeon! I have a credit from my gift card on iTunes!”….I have always yelled back “Oh sure! Thanks for asking!”(because she always has to ask, but you know, it’s nice to compliment her on acting responsibly)….I have always answered “yes” to that question BECAUSE it was Nickelodeon….it’s almost like I thought “they had my back”….but I was wrong….and I was a complete idiot for ever thinking so in the first place, because they are “big business” and “sex sells”….and we are all on our own with regard to this kind of thing….now I know this, and now so do you.

The “Gutless Wonder” in blue & her best friend Annabelle….she looks nothing like a “gutless wonder” to me…she looks just wonderful!

P.S. and by the way, if you are wondering about how the game classified Eliza’s “Ingenious Personality”, it was Gutless Wonder (when you read this, imagine she is 12 – because after all, it is rated for 12+):

Gutless Wonder: These submissive cowards are so quick to roll on their backs that they need to wear special ass-pads so they don’t get holes in their pants.  Complacent as cows, they tend to herd together, sharing group hugs and making it easier to beat them up all at once.

Aliases: Sissy, Wimp

Diet: Tofu

Animal: Jellyfish

Friends: Nursemaid, Creepy Loner

Habitat: Glat on the ground

Color: Yellow

Call: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Enemies: Tight Ass, Bully

I told Eliza I was going to write about this and she was HORRIFIED!!  She said “No Mom! Don’t! You are going to embarrass me in front of the whole world!”  I let her read this post last night. After reading it, she looked at me and said ” you are trying to defend me instead of trying to embarrass me, aren’t you?”

…..yes love, I was, I am and will always be.

Please feel free to comment… don’t have to agree with me, but you do need to comment intelligently or I will edit your comments.

By Eleanore Macnish

UPDATE: This blog was featured on! There is some interesting discussion on their comment thread!

Personal Spaces And How They Speak

Have fun and be sure to include #studiospaces

Recently my daughter and I started taking part in the Photo A Day challenge on Instagram started by one of my favorite bloggers – Fat Mum Slim. She provides a calendar for the month and gives prompts for each day’s photo.  The prompt for March 4th was “bedside”.  When I looked at the photo I took of my bedside table, I thought it was so interesting – I see this table every morning and every night, but it looked completely different to my eye when I saw it in a photo. It “spoke” volumes of my life, and in such a small and contained little space! Jewelry everywhere (I am a jewelry maker), a couple of children’s books (I am a mother), lots of books and magazines (I like to read in bed), reading glasses (I’m in my 40’s), a little jar of Advil PM (for when I drink coffee too late in the day)….and all the little bits and pieces of life in general. I have noticed the same phenomenon when I see photos of my studio in publications or when I am editing project photos for articles and have to crop out all the surrounding “noise = stuff” in the photo.  Because I live with it, I don’t notice it – but when I see it in a photo, all the little details become interesting to me.

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to start an Instagram hashtag group!  It is called Studio Spaces and by no means do you have to be an artist to participate!  “Studio” can mean any place you work, make, or create. I have added pictures of my desk and my studio because both of those spaces are personal “Studio” spaces for me.

– all you need to do is share the photo on Instagram and be sure to put the hashtag #studiospaces so everyone can see your picture!  I have gotten the group started with some of my own pics and you can see all the photos in the group here, or by clicking on the photo above!

Also, a tutorial of mine, Wire Jewelry Tip of the Year: Make Perfect Ear Wire Sets in Minutes appeared on Jewelry Making Daily on Wednesday and I promised to post a few “tips and tricks photos” that did not make it into the article……here they are!  You can Google the products to find retailers and I have linked the photo captions to where I buy them.  Enjoy!

Click on the photos to make them larger!

New iPhone Case From Photojojo is quite simply…..just about the coolest thing ever!!!

If you don’t know about Photojojo, it’s high time you did!  Poke around of their site for fun projects and products!  Look at this!  Soooooooo much fun!  With magnetic lenses! Hello!???

Design a Cocktail Party Invitation to text to your friends!!! Impromtu “Pop Up” Cocktail Parties are such fun!

Sometimes, ideas just Spring themselves on you (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!  Like this morning I was cleaning out my studio and came across this wonderful issue of Anthology Magazine.  Looking for a reason to take a break after cleaning for a whole 20 minutes, I sat down to thumb through the pages and realized I had already read this issue…….but also remembered that there was an awesome cocktail party photo spread!  Then I thought…”hey!  I should have a cocktail party today!!!….or maybe tomorrow!!!”  But what’s a girl to do when there is only 24 hours until said cocktail party arrives and no time to send out invitations…..or even Evites?…….and then it occurred to me…..what about a text invitation?…….but those kind of things can be soooo boring!  Not to worry!  With the help of the camera on my phone (iPhone) and an awesome app called Photogene, I designed an invitation to text to my friends to alert them of soon to be flowing libations — wahooo!

…….and then I remembered I have a party to go to tomorrow night…….and I would have to clean up the patio…….hmmmm maybe another Friday evening in the near future.  At least I got the invitation done before I remembered I couldn’t have the party!

Here is how to do it!  By the way, I think this is legal because it is not for publication and is for personal use but you might check it out if you worry about such things.

(Click on photos to enlarge them)

1. Find something with fabulous photos

2. & 3. Take photo of fabulous photos……take a close up shot.

4. Get this amazing app called Photogene from the app store.

5. Open Photogene app and choose “edit new photo”, pick your photo from “Camera Roll” and wait for it to load.

6. Click on scissors icon in upper left corner of app and drag the green dots to where you want to crop your picture.

7. Click on Star icon and swipe left on bottom bar to choose the rectangle shape.  Tap, hold and drag the rectangle shape onto your photo.

8. Double tap on the rectangle and wait for the keyboard to appear.  Type in your text.

9. Click outline and pick the top left corner gray button to choose no outline.

10. Click on Font and choose your font.

11. Click on Fill and choose the upper right corner gray.

12. Click anywhere on the image to get rid of all the options. Click the lower left corner “check mark”.

13. Click “save”

14. Do all of the above steps for your next photo.

Now, press your “Home button” on the bottom of your phone screen, go to your photos and text them to your friends for a “Pop Up Cocktail Party”!

Wahooooooo!  Cheers!