WHAT CAN I DO WITH ALL MY DIGITAL VACATION PHOTOGRAPHS?

Reblogged from Always Write

Hi hobby photographers, Go ta few pictures you don’t know what to do with other than to store them on your phone?

We know that vacations are good for us. You and your family collectively have taken hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures. What do you do with them all? To create something special I use Canva for blog posts, ads, posters or anything with text.

Yosemite National Part
  1. Holiday Cards Do you browse through the card section of the store for a good laugh? Some of your photos might make great cards or memes even. Holidays happen almost every month and offer you even more opportunities to use your great photos. It takes only a week or two at the most to turn your photos into your own “Hallmark” cards. You might even want to use digitized photos of your parents, grandparents, or great grandparents. Don’t you love all those repurposed old photos? “Happy birthday” (picture on the front of card of a deeply wrinkled woman with no teeth from the 1920s) Inside – “Remember me? You were a year ahead of me in high school.”
  2. Write a blog post. Blogs are great journals. You can use a blog to record and share the stories of your life with your friends. Sometimes just sharing on Facebook, Instagram or other social media is not enough. Besides, in order to find the picture or vacation, you have to sort through all your pictures. Having a blog allows you to share more information that you might want to remember later, including your feelings. Because you can use alt tags, and captions as well as titles on your photos, blogs also allow you to retrieve your memories much easier than social media. Trying to remember the date you traveled and scanning your Facebook timeline or waiting for Facebook to share a memory with you wastes hours of your time. If you are a blogger, don’t forget Photo Challenges that connect you with so many more people.
  3. Create a book. These make amazing Christmas or birthday presents for people you love. We often share our photos, but taking the time to create a book they can have on their coffee table adds a dimension of care. Costco did a great job for me, but Walmart, Vistaprint, and other online printing services do a good job as well.
  4. Create a mug. One of my favorite possessions is a mug that has a picture of my mother and me at Stonehenge. Now you can’t even go as close to the rocks as we did, so it recorded history, and my mother is gone now and that was one of the few vacations that we did together.
  5. Create a puzzle There are two ways to create puzzles. Digital puzzles are free, easier to access from anywhere you go and less messy. You can download an app from Free Jigsaw Puzzles that allows you to create your own digital puzzles. The Jigsaw Planet, another site on which you can make online puzzles to share or keep private, has tips for making classy online puzzles. You can make traditional puzzles, puzzle cards and other puzzle products using Walmart, Shutterfly, Oriental Trading Company, and new businesses that seem to start up daily. Walmart offers great prices and I would rate the quality at about a seven out of ten. I have used Create Jigsaw Puzzles and they are better quality, but about twice the cost. On the backside of a jigsaw puzzle, you can create learning tools after you have worked the puzzle by writing math or history facts on matching puzzle pieces. Break the pieces apart and the child works the wrong side of the puzzle. This works great on puzzles that are 24 pieces or less.
  6. Create playing cards Even though there are a myriad of card games on the market, nothing beats a simple game of rummy if you are bored at home or on vacation with your kids or grandkids. What better way to remind them of good times in the past, but with a deck of cards with pictures from a former vacay. If you want to sell your own cards, you might use Make Your Own Playing Cards.
  7. Purchase a digital frame Our kids gave us a digital picture frame loaded with pictures they took from several of our vacations together. It rotates through pictures at whatever speed you set. Your family can also load their own pictures onto the frame. It’s the perfect gift for busy professionals with an office. It helps people to get to know them better and gives them a mental break in the middle of the day.
  8. Computer mouse pads If you’re in business, these are great free gifts for customers. Look at your own mouse pad. What are you using? I am using a large mouse pad from where I worked, and my husband is doing the same. How much better would it be to give someone one of your vacation pictures for a present? Who buys their own mousepad?
  9. Canvas or metal prints Do you know someone who is moving into a new house? This might be the perfect gift for them. More and more people hang pictures and yard art outside their homes. Or, consider this: how about using your photo for a backdrop for an award or plaque?
  10. Calendars Do people still use calendars? They do if they are personalized. Not only that, they keep personal calendars for years. The quality of the print is good and the paper is thick and they last long enough to pass them down. Sorting through to find the best twelve pictures is a great mental activity that promotes speaking and reasoning skills in children. This makes a great gift for the grandparents.

If your looking for more ideas quickly, just Google your question and look at the different services. You can use your photos to make blankets, shirts, binders, pillows and any number of other products.

If you’re looking for a place to take more photos and want for a fabulous vacation for a fantastic price, check out an Always Write Travel Opportunities. Spend a week in Vegas Feb. 23-March 1 for only $511. Upgrade to a two-bedroom (if available) for only $611. (My picture using a Canva template)

Las Vegas Polo Towers Getaway
Contact Marsha Ingrao to upgrade to a two-bedroom unit for $611 at tchistorygal@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

SIX BENEFITS OF TAKING PLANNED VACATIONS

Reposted from Always Write

Hundreds of researchers have been studying the effects of vacationing on you for years. The good news is that there is so much proof that taking a break for a vacation is good for you that we almost don’t need to write about it. But since we write, it’s a great topic.

Even God rests. The writer of the book of Genesis recorded God’s vacation guidelines from work. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day, he rested from all his work.” God even made the day holy to encourage his creation to rest one day per week.

In the United States, most people “live for the weekends,” but we often fill those days with more work. I wonder what God did to rest. Could he have sat back and enjoyed the beautiful areas he created? If we are going to enjoy those wonderful places around the world, it is going to take us longer than a day to get there. It’s going to take a vacation.

Have you taken a vacation recently and traveled somewhere new?

“Sabine Sonnentag, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist at the University of Mannheim in Germany has explored the effects of vacations. In a meta-analysis of the research, she and her colleagues found that vacations have small positive effects on people’s health and well-being, with people reporting less exhaustion, fewer health complaints, and greater life satisfaction after time away. However, those benefits declined within a few weeks after returning to work.” (Journal of Occupational Health, Vol. 51, No. 1, 2009). https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/01/break So it seems that to take regular vacations would help you stay healthier longer.

BENEFITS FOR TAKING A BREAK FROM WORK

  1. Stress reduction is one of the major health benefits of taking a vacation if you turn off your phone or limit when you respond to it. Looking at the phone takes a person out of the present and back into a stressful environment. Visiting a resort offers you scheduled times to get away from your phone. Our resort offers activities like taking a tour, fitness classes, getting a massage, learning a new skill like banjo playing, or jewelry making. Even taking a vacation somewhere to do a volunteer project will get your mind off work and into something relaxing.
  2. Heart disease prevention.  The Framingham Heart Study, which started in Framingham, MA in 1948 and continues today to identify common factors or characteristics that contribute to cardiovascular disease, revealed that both men and women who didn’t take a vacation for several years were more likely to have heart attacks compared to those who did not take time off.
  3. Improved productivity  Think you’re on a roll and you just have to keep going? Think again! New research by the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off shows that a majority of bosses surveyed agree that vacation improves an employee’s focus (78 percent) and alleviates burnout (81 percent). Why? Because your mind and body get tired and when you get tired, you can’t focus. You need something to rejuvenate your enthusiasm. When you go away, your subconscious produces new ideas and gains new perspectives on old problems.

BENEFITS FOR BUILDING VACATION MEMORIES

  1. Remember the good times. People want to forget bad times and vacations help them do just that. Twenty-three percent of Americans in the western states vacation in order to build memories. Facebook thrives because of your memories. Inspired by hearing people talk about what they wanted, Facebook created products to help people bring back the good times. One researcher. Artie Konrad focused his Ph.D. research on reminiscence and technology. For example, technology provides new opportunities to help us remember our pasts, which can have a positive impact on our well-being. He and his advisor “developed a new memories experience that generates monthly and seasonal photo recaps of recent events, like your summer or the holiday season.” All we have to do is to make memories and take picturesPhoto tips from a pro.
  2. Improve life for people with dementia. Speaking of remembering the past, Alzheimers’ Australia recommends that patients review photos often and consistently. Holiday photos are among the categories of photos that bring back good memories. Build those memories now so you will have something to review later with your parents or children. There are many other ways to use photos besides Facebook and Snapchat.
  3. Improved test scores for students Most parents would do anything in their power to ensure a good life for their children. Vacations may be one of the most powerful tools in their toolkit. Think of a vacation as a field trip. One study conducted by the University of Arkansas found that students that participate in a field trip to an art museum show increased empathy, tolerance and critical thinking skills. Parents who provide these field-based learning opportunities not only improve their children’s chances for academic success, they also add life skills.

CONCLUSION

These six benefits only scratch the surface of why you need a vacation. In the United States, millions of hours of paid time off go unused every year. “By giving up this time off, Americans are effectively volunteering hundreds of millions of days of free work for their employers, which results in $61.4 billion in forfeited benefits.” 

January 28, 2020, was National Plan Your Vacation Day. If you want the least stress and the most enjoyment take a few enjoyable hours and plan your next trip. Talk about it, look up places to visit in the area. You and your family will get more excited and have more enjoyment out of the process.

START PLANNING NOW!

Always Write Travel Blogging has some great deals on vacation resort rentals. What’s on YOUR Facebook page?

Which Rental Is Right for You?

Vacationing in a Hotel, Rented Timeshare, or Air BnB

You are shopping for your next vacation and there are so many options. Hotels, timeshare resorts, Bed and Breakfast, Air BnB, VRBO and so much more.

Professionals run the hotel industry but individuals usually sell their timeshares and private homes on Air BnB and similar venues. In addition to their own advertising and online booking, large hotel chains rely on companies like Expedia and Trip Advisor to bring in business. That may be your go-to starting place. Individuals struggle to compete since usually do not have an advertising budget or a website.

If you haven’t looked recently, Expedia includes everything from budget hotels to private residences and even some Timeshare Resorts. Individuals may contract with them to help market their homes and timeshares.

Typically Timeshare companies like Redweek or Sell Your Timeshare Now market to individuals who want to list their available weeks or sell their timeshares. People wanting to rent timeshares may not think to visit those sites as well.

Comparing Hotels, Timeshares, and Air BnB

Price

Hotel rooms can easily range from $60 to $400 per night. For those prices, you usually don’t get a full kitchen, extra bedrooms, a living room, dining room, and more than one bath.

Timeshares range from studio apartments to three-bedroom apartments or two-bedroom with a lockout room, but the prices are more like a single room hotel, so $70-$400 per night. They are a great bargain! If you’ve never heard of a lockout room, it is like an additional full hotel room with a partial kitchen, but there is a connecting door to the main unit. This is great when you have guests because the full condo and the lockout each have their own entrance.

Private homes/rooms/condos usually sold on Air BnB or VRMO also range from $70 to $400 a night. They can be any size from a bedroom in an occupied home with a shared bath to an entire home, condo, or apartment. Generally, these whole house options are someone’s second home.

Ambiance

The ambiance of timeshare resorts and upscale hotels are similar. There are beautiful pool and spa areas, a lovely restaurant on-site, and fitness rooms. The rooms are all similar – decorated nicely. They are usually uniform in their provisions (bathroom supplies, kitchen equipment, furnishings) Timeshares go the extra step over hotels with activity rooms and coordinated activities, a concierge who will book trips, barbeques, full kitchens, cleaning during the week and at the end of the week.

The feeling in an Air BnB is much more personal. You are using items that belong to someone, and they are unique. Sometimes they are beautiful, and other times not so much. You don’t always know what you are getting from the pictures. The decor and furnishings may not be up to date, and may not even be super clean. Sometimes you are staying in someone’s home where they also live. That can be interesting or intrusive, depending on the owner. Sometimes there is no one to let you in, and you can’t find the key. It’s always different. It’s never bland.

Convenience

Hotels and Timeshares are convenient. Someone will greet you and check you in. If you need anything 24/7, there is a porter to bring it to you. If you forgot something, there is often a little convenience store in the resort or hotel. Someone cleans your room while you are there if you want them to do so. You can always request privacy, but it is easy to get your room picked up daily or at least mid-week if you want that service. There is never food in the refrigerator or cabinets, but there is almost always coffee, salt, and pepper, cream, and sugar.

Timeshares usually have kitchens and all the cooking utensils at your disposal, including electric appliances for the asking. There is always a hairdryer, iron, ironing board, television, and a land-line phone.

In an Air BnB, you never know, but you can’t count on any of the above items. It depends on the owner. There is rarely anyone to greet you or help you with convenience items. That being said, you might find a timeshare listed on Air BnB. It is harder for the timeshare owner to do this because they might not have adequate pictures to advertise the unit.

Availability

Hotels have the most flexible schedules. Unless there is a convention in town, you can almost always find a hotel room available in any city you want to visit. You can call them up directly to book or reserve a room through a third party agent like Expedia.

Timeshares may not be as easy to find because owners have to book them up to a year in advance, and they may not list available units on Expedia or one of the other frequented booking agents. You can find timeshares on Redweek and other Timeshare sites, but only people interested in renting a Timeshare go to those sites. They are not often available on Air BnB, although that is changing.

People wanting to rent private homes may find them on Expedia, but they are usually costly. Those who are looking for a uniquely individual experience often go to Air BnB first, the same as resort seekers go to Redweek or other Timeshare sites. There are fewer resorts or private residences available in big city downtown places simply because downtowns are by nature, usually businesses and hotels.

There are so many options for travelers all over the world. This is the time to travel.

Haven’t Thought of Timeshares Before?

Check out our Always Write Travel Blogging Units for 2020.

Always Write Travel says, “Have fun!”

Visit Las Vegas While It's Cool!

Vacation in Las Vegas at Polo Towers February 23-March 1, 2020

3745 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109 USA

Vince said, “Cut the price in half!”

One-bedroom suite $1,022  for a week! So here you go! $511 for one WEEK in Vegas!

Polo Towers Resort Las Vegas
Polo Tower Suites right on the Las Vegas Strip

We have the perfect opportunity for you to relax and enjoy the Las Vegas Strip, or get out and enjoy the excitement – either works!

Las Vegas Strip outside of Polo Towers.

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass. 

Situated between the Miracle Mile of Shops and a strip mall which includes Ross, ABC, CVS makes your stay very comfortable and economical. The resort boasts two pools, a BBQ area, business center services, fitness center, laundry facilities, free WiFi, and local phone calls.

Las Vegas Rental Polo Towers

The view out of our Polo Towers suite on the Las Vegas Strip across from the Aria.

Showing that week are the Cirque du Soleil O, Michael Jackson One by Cirque du Soleil, Zoomanity, Penn and Teller, Blue Man Group and David Copperfield, and Chris Angel.

If you want to sightsee try Hoover Dam – 1 hour, Valley of Fire – 1 hour, Grand Canyon 4.5 hours, or Zion National Park 2.5 hours, Bryce Canyon National Park – 4 hours, and the other three National Parks within 7 hours of Las Vegas.

Polo Towers

Las Vegas Polo Tower Suites February 21-March 1, 2020

This beautiful 602 square foot one-bedroom suite with a full kitchen is located on the Las Vegas Strip within walking distance from all the huge casinos. It conveniently comes with a free parking pass.

$511.00

Always Write Adopts a Section of the Woodlake Rose Garden

What are you doing with your business, church group, or your non-profit group? Have you considered gardening in a public garden?

The City of Woodlake has way more work than they can handle caring for the fourteen acres that is Woodlake Botanical Gardens. The founders, Manuel and Olga Jimenez and their non-profit, Woodlake Pride Coalition, manage all but the three acres designated as Woodlake Rose Garden. That Garden is divided into small sections and several groups have reached out to support it.

This little neglected area is about a third of the way along the Garden path. I probably should have counted the number of roses before I volunteered to adopt it, but I’m impetuous. With some community help, I think it’s doable.

There are probably about fifty roses on the property, several pomegranate trees and about 20 Rose of Sharon bushes and several clumps of overgrown Pampas grass. The tree front and center is a mystery to me.

Woodlake Rose Garden Floribundas
“Adopt us,” cried the roses as Chuck and I walked over to check out the Master Gardener’s well-groomed rose bushes.

What prompted me to adopt the garden is that it’s time to prune roses in CA. This is as cold as it gets, and you can still see roses in bloom on the bushes.

The Master Gardeners lead the way with their work in the Floribundas. Last year they held a training workshop at the Garden, and we have another one scheduled on January 25 from 11:00 – 2:00. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to make your roses gorgeous.

Pruned roses examples
Model section ready for the January 25th pruning workshop at the Woodlake Rose Garden.

The pruned roses looked so good I blurted out that I thought I could take care of one section. After I announced my decision on the internet, I told Mr. Write, AKA Vince, about my project.

“There’s an adorable cove that I did not even know existed in my new section. I bet you could create something really beautiful there.”

An almost secret garden in the middle of the Woodlake Rose Garden unadopted section.

Vince loved it and quickly came up with several ideas of what he might do with it. Meanwhile, I got started turning my new section into a Master Gardener amateur masterpiece.

My bucket is so handy to carry all my tools: loppers and clippers are essential but the knee pad allows me to work for two hours instead of three minutes. You can see my long-armed leather-like gloves peeking out of the bucket. Don’t even try to prune these thorny critters without them.

I advertised on Facebook for community members to help the day before, but that was pretty short notice. However, the Garden has its own regulars.

The first person I saw was Jose. He offered to help so I gave him the loppers. He can’t see well, but that didn’t stop him. He chopped the roses down to a manageable level. Then I dug them out a little farther. Leaves, old branch trimming, and cockroaches filled the center of the plant, so I cleaned them out with a trowel as I clipped the smaller branches.

One garden regular said, “Put your hair up in a ponytail, then it won’t get in your face.” Duh! Good advice – dress for success.

My friend Sally raked the unwieldy branches into piles so they wouldn’t trip walkers after she finished working in other parts of the garden.

Instead of the three or four rose bushes I might have been able to prune on my own, we pruned fourteen roses, and I even found an old label telling us what they are.

Coral Meidiland Floribunda rose
Coral Meidiland introduced in France in 1993 by hybridizer, Alaine Meidiland, it is a Floribunda shrub with lots of thorns. I can vouch for the thorns. It is shade tolerant and disease resistant. Good choice, Manuel!

Last year the Master Gardeners hosted a pruning class in the Garden. That information came in handy. It takes me a while to make the decisions as to which branches to prune, but the basic idea is to think of the rose as a bowl and clear out anything that points inward. They also say to prune off little branches and anything that is crossing.

Woodlake Rose Garden regular, Victor
My neighbor showed me how to add his name to his picture on my phone.

Meanwhile, a friend of Jose’s named Victor came up and said he couldn’t help but would love to help the next time I come. He pruned a Rose of Sharon tree and several rose bushes before he left an hour or so later. Working in the Garden is addictive!

Pruned roses
You can barely see the Rose of Sharon trees in the upper left of the picture.

On Sunday afternoon I returned and three people dropped by to say hi as I worked.

If you have a business, church, or a non-profit, this is a great way to get out of your own circle of acquaintances and make some new friends. Today I chatted with Jose, prayed with a woman on a motorized scooter, and chatted with a police officer who offered to help during my next workday, which is February 22.

pruned roses
The sign says, “Unadopted.” That’s changing to Always Write.”

If you live in Woodlake or nearby you might be interested in caring for this garden which has been dubbed a Tulare County Treasure. Let me know if you are interested in adopting a section of the Woodlake Rose Garden and I’ll get you connected.

Or you can just drop by and help me in my Always Write newly adopted section.

Always Write logo