2010 Summer Blog Tour!

Hello and Welcome to Ramblings By Nicole! First off I’d like to say a great big thank you to Living My Moment and The Work at Home Woman for putting together this amazing blog tour! I’m super excited about being the very first blog on the tour!
There is a reason I got the “top spot” however- life around here is pretty crazy! I’m a Coastie wife and next week we’re moving from North Carolina to Boston. I’m also 30 weeks pregnant with my second child, a baby boy, who will be joining our family in July! Because of all of this they were so sweet to let me schedule now, before my life becomes super-duper crazy!
My blog is filled with product giveaways, reviews, all things parenting (going through the potty training phase right now as well!), Recipes, my scrap-for-hire business Artistic Albums By Nicole, and–of course–my ramblings! I hope you’ll hop on in and follow along with all the new and exciting changes that are going on in our lives right now! (who doesn’t love Boston and new babies??!!)
Thanks for visiting and enjoy the rest of the tour!

Making Work at Home Work

As you all probably know by now, in addition to this fabulous blog 😉 I run a scrap-for-hire business called Artistic Albums By Nicole. I recently joined in a blog ring called Making Work at Home Work . What this means is I will get useful and informational articles from author Mary Byers and share them with you! 🙂 I hope that you’ll enjoy them and that they’ll be helpful for all my fellow work-at-home gals out there! Here are 2 of her lastest articles, I requested both since they go together. And I wanted to add since the second article talks about referring a coach to others, MariLee Parrish who is the head honcho at Christian Mom’s Business Resource is a phenomenal coach that I would highly recommend!
Working with a Coach
By Mary M. Byers
I took the plunge and hired a coach late last year. She’s been a fabulous addition to my team and is worth every penny. Here’s how I’m benefiting:
Accountability: At the end of each session, we identify 3-5 activities for me to complete by our next session. I don’t want to disappointment my coach or embarrass myself so I find I’m highly motivated to get my “homework” done each month.
Advice: I’m able to outline my thoughts and then ask for her advice. Though she doesn’t always say, “This is what I think you should do…” she is always able to ask pertinent questions to help me come to a decision I’m comfortable with.
Expertise: My coach has small business acumen and more importantly to me, is an expert in online marketing, something that intimidates me. I have a lot of questions about how to implement my online marketing ideas and she’s a great resource for getting the answers I need. When I’m stuck, she reminds me that I don’t have to know how to do everything and that between us, we can find the resources to implement even the craziest ideas.
Companionship: Let’s face it, being a solo-preneur can be a lonely endeavor. My coach gives me someone to bounce ideas off of as well as the comfort of having someone along on the journey with me. Knowing someone else is rooting for me encourages me to continue to strive for excellence.
If you’re looking to help your business reach new heights in 2010, consider hiring a coach. Doing so is a great way to stretch yourself and grow your business!
Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at http://www.makingworkathomework.com/. Interested in more articles like this? Join the blog ring here.

Find the Right Coach

By Mary M. Byers

In my last post I talked about working with a coach. This time, we’ll address how to find the right coach for you. I suggest the following:

Ask friends and colleagues if they can recommend anyone to you. Listen to conversations. If you hear someone mention that they work with a coach, ask if they’d be willing to share the name and contact information. Referrals are by far the best way to find a coach.


Do you need help increasing your income? Decreasing your expenses? Someone to brainstorm marketing ideas with? Or, do you have plenty of ideas but lack the follow through to do them? In this latter case, you’ll want someone who can use a little tough love to hold you accountable for getting things done. The more specific you are regarding where you need help, the more likely you’ll be to find a coach that’s a good fit for you.

Identify specifically what you need help with.

Do a search for coaches online. You’ll find plenty! Pick a few sites to go to, read about each coach and his or her philosophy, and watch the videos. You’ll get a sense of who you might feel comfortable working with. Narrow the list to these possibilities.

Search online.

Request a complimentary introductory session. This is THE most important step. I “met” by phone with several coaches before finding mine. One coach spent the whole conversation talking about herself. Another spent the entire time saying, “If you decide to work with me, then…” And a third was not at all focused during our conversation, which led me to believe our coaching sessions would be the same way–frustrating for me.

Make the decision. Know that your coaching relationship won’t last forever. This makes it easier to decide who you will work with. Pick the coach you are most interested in. Then, ask if you can sign up for a limited number of sessions (a minimum of three). You’ll have a good sense of how the relationship is working after several sessions.

Be willing to do the work. When you enter a coaching relationship, you’re making a commitment to help your coach help you. And you’re making a commitment to doing homework between sessions as well as to do the heavy thinking required to help take your business to the next level. Coaches see lots of people who are willing to pay for help, but fewer who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Your work with a coach only pays off if you’re invested and willing to sweat along with your coach.

Good luck!

Mary Byers is the author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. You can learn more about making work at home work by subscribing to Mary’s free blog at http://www.makingworkathomework.com/. Interested in more articles like this? Join the blog ring here.

Exciting New Opportunity!

I’m sure by now you remember me mentioning Christian Mom’s Business Resource (formerly Really Working From Home). I’m so excited to tell you that I was featured on their blog today. The reason I was featured is that I’ll be working for MariLee as her administrative assistant now! This is really a “God thing” as I’d been praying about getting another job that I could do part time from home since my Artistic Albums By Nicole business is usually boom or bust depending on the time of year and we’ll be moving to a high cost of living area and adding a new member to our family soon. When MariLee approached me about the opportunity to do some freelance work for her I was so excited about this answer to prayer! I whole heartedly support her business and have had my Artistic Albums business listed on the site since the very beginning. Since I’ll be blogging quite often for them know don’t be suprised if I link up to my stuff on there-hope you won’t mind! 😀

Rolled Canvas from UPrinting *Giveaway and Review*

***This Giveaway is now CLOSED Congrats to Karen who won***
Out of all of Uprinting’s great products that you can print online, my favorites are hands down their Canvas Prints! I adore the stretched canvas I’ve gotten from them, and the rolled canvas I gave my brother for Christmas turned out great as well!
A rolled canvas would be a wonderful wedding gift or you could just use it to make your favorite picture into a piece of art!
You don’t have to use the canvas to print pictures only though. A piece of customized artwork like the one I made below for my daughter would look gorgeous on canvas, and can be used as a piece of artwork from now when she has a nursery till she’s a teenager or even gets married!
One lucky reader will recieve a 16×20 Rolled Canvas from UPrinting! As an added bonus if you win and you’d like me to create a custom piece of artwork for you (such as the one above but completely customized for you) I will courtesy of my business Artistic Albums By Nicole. Now you have a giveaway that can’t be beat!!!
This giveaway is open to US residents 18 years and older only
As always be sure I have a way to get your email address so I can tell you that you won! If I don’t have an easy way to get it I will automatically choose a new winner. Also leave a separate comment for each additional entry that you do! One comment = one entry!
**Mandatory Entry**
This must be done in order for any other entry to count
Tell me what you’d get printed on your canvas if you won!
**Additional Entries**
Because everyone wants a fancy pants canvas to hang up!!!
1 Entry each ~ Follow me through Google Friend Connect, Subscribe to my RSS feed (Ramblings For You), or subscribe to me via email (Ramblings to Your Inbox)
You only have to do one but each you do counts as an extra entry! I have lots of nice stuff, I promise! 🙂
1 Entry **Daily** Follow Me on Twitter and Tweet. You may copy/paste the following:
Win a Custom Rolled Canvas from @uprinting @coastiewife321 http://tinyurl.com/yfy4frc ends 3/29 #giveaway Pls RT!
1 Entry for every 3 people you email about this! (As in if you email 9 people you get 3 extra entries) CC me da_angel_321@yahoo.com
3 Entries ~ Snag my Baby Boy Blog Shower button! You know you want to join in the fun! Leave me the url so I can come visit your blog!
1 Entry ~ Snag my regular blog button, isn’t it cute?! Leave me the url so I can come visit your blog!
3 Entries ~ Blog about this, leave me the URL to the post, you know you wanna share the love!
1 Entry ~ try to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time
This Giveaway will end 3/29/10 at 10:00 p.m. EST
I will choose the winner via random.org contact them via email and post them on this blog. They have 48 hours to claim their win before a new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!!

My top Digital Scrapbooking Sites

So I know I really shouldn’t be giving away advice or suggestions on digi-scrapping since I have a business doing it…I really should tell you there’s no way you can do what I do and just to let me do it for you and charge a bunch, hehe!!!! But I’m too nice and I want everyone to love it as much as I do!!! So here’s a list of sites where you can find tutorials and free (for personal use) kits with papers and elements and everything you need to begin your digi-scrapping adventure. 😀

Also just to rehash what I think you already know–I use Photoshop Elements (6.0) to make my layouts.

Shabby Princess –this is the site that got me started on digital scrapping, they have a good “Creating your first layout” tutorial and one for doing the photo in all b&w except a few parts. Great free digi kits too!!! They are personal use only though.

Two Peas in a Bucket –they have an awesome PSE class going on once a month right now that I am learning tons from! 🙂 If you look in the shop under digital scrapping kits and put the price from low to high you’ll find their free stuff 🙂 They are also personal use only though

Summer Time Designs –Summer is great and has some of the most fabulous papers I’ve ever seen, I actually purchased her commercial license so I could use all her stuff in my business, that’s how much I love it!!! But for anyone who wants to use it just for personal use it’s all free! 😀 I used her kits in the design of this blog as well.

RAK Scraps –you have to join the site but they have an awesome Mega Kit that comes out each month with a ton of stuff!! Some of it’s great, some not so much, but I just weed through it and delete anything I don’t think I’d ever use

Melanie Violette — (Has seemed to go MIA, which makes me want to cry because I LOVED her stuff…leaving the link up in hopes she’ll restart one day!!)

Digi Scrap Depot –this is a great place because it takes a ton of scattered freebies out there and brings it in to one location 😀

The Scrappin’ Cop–her stuff is for the more advanced digi-scrapper…if you’ve been playing around with it for awhile and want to start playing around with making your own stuff or just recoloring grey scale items you can’t beat her stuff!!!!! She also has some amazing elements, like buttons and ribbons and such.

Scrap Girls –they have one nice summer freebie kit and they also do a great daily newsletter with a freebie. I’ve gotten 3 of my “muses” published with them 🙂

CoffeeShop — amazing free actions and texures for PSE–I love love love this blog!!!

BrushEezy–these guys don’t have papers or elements but I just discovered them last night and they have a ton of free amazing brushes!!!! 😀

Kevin and Amanda–tons of completely adorable fonts including a bunch of handwritten ones which I love to use on my layouts!!!

I also periodically google “free digital scrapbooking kits” and just surf and you can find all sorts of goodies that way! Hope this helps and if you know of any great sites that I haven’t mentioned, by all means please let me know!!! I’m always on the lookout for new sites! 😀

I made the swirly sticker using a brush from brusheezy and following the tutorial from Two Peas 😀 I love getting new goodies and learning new things!!!!

It’s official!

So awhile ago I mentioned the fact that I was starting my very own scrap-for-hire business and that I’d let you know when I had everything all settled–well, it’s official! I’m now the proud owner of Artistic Albums by Nicole. I actually decided on a name and even started doing business eons ago, but never got around to blogging about it. 🙂 I even have my own seperate business blog you can all check out:


So far I’m absolutely loving it! I’m so thankful that Heather talked me into doing this and plan on keeping it up indefinitely. It’s the perfect way for me to bring in a little bit of extra money while doing something I love and expanding my skills in it. Since this is now such a huge part of my life I thought I’d blog a little about digital scrapping and how I got into it in the first place.

I guess the best place to start out would be with scrapbooking in general. I first started (paper) scrapping in my senior year of high school. Since I was homeschooled I didn’t have a year book, but wanted a way to document my last year of high school. I decided to make a scrapbook of it as an alternative. My mom got me materials and a class as my birthday present that year and my love-affair with scrapbooking began. I made an awesome senior year album and then set scrapping away for a while.

Once I got married I knew that I just had to scrap all the awesome pictures I had. Luckily we were able to get an amazing photographer when she was just starting out and before she became “famous” (wwww.fotosbyjenni.com) and since I had a cd of the pictures it was super easy (and cheap) for me to get them all printed out and scrapped.

I also created a Coast Guard album for my husband and all his experiences in the Honor Guard. I really did love scrapping, but I got frustrated because it was so expensive and I just didn’t have the patience to do the pages up to the level I wanted them to be. Sitting for hours stitching and sanding and inking just wasn’t my idea of a good time. Once I got pregnant I knew I would want to scrapbook all of my future child’s babyhood. I picked up a few scrapbooking magazines to give me some fresh ideas. I kept gravitating to certain layouts in the magazine and was surprised when I realized that they were all done digitally. Even more surprising to me was that they all said they were made using Photoshop. I knew that you could edit photos in Photoshop, but had no idea you could digi-scrap with it, or how on earth that would even work. When I started a blog last summer I saw that my friend Jaimin had hers all decked out and adorable with a super cute background. I followed her link for the instructions on how to do it and was directed from there to several sites that had digital scrapbook papers that you could download and also use for blog backgrounds. Already intrigued at the idea of digital scrapping I looked all over these sites, specifically http://www.shabbyprincess.com/ , to learn more. I also found tutorials. When my in-laws told us that we could pick our b-day presents off of Dell.com and I saw Photo Shop Elements I knew exactly what I wanted. I got it, started downloading kits and checking out other sites and more tutorials…..and eventually that lead me to where I am now!!!!

So far I’ve gotten many more ppl interested in digital scrapping for themselves than I have customers, but you know what? I’m totally fine with that. 🙂 I love showing people this amazing new hobby that’s so much fun without being hard or ridiculously expensive. If in the end my business end up in me “teaching” more people about the joys of digital scrapping than ever making a bunch of money off of it, I’ll still feel it was worth all my effort!!!

What’s in a name?

So for those of you who don’t have Facebook 😉 , I’ve decided to start up my own scrap-for-hire business!! Woo Hoo!!! I’d had several people (some joking, some not) tell me that I should scrapbook for people for money. I kind of brushed it off until I uploaded my pages on Facebook and got overwhelming good responses about them. I decided to play around with the idea of doing it for money and when I looked around online I discovered that people actually seem to make some pretty good money doing it. Most scrap-for-hire sites charge an average of $15 a PAGE!!! LoL. 😀 Good news for me!! 😀 The bummer is I have to buy commercial licenses for all the kits I want to use…and that’s really pricey…but I’ve decided at first to just have people pay for the kits and I’ll do the work for free. So anyways…I’m really super excited and hope it works out for me. 🙂

My biggest dilemma in all of this, however, is coming up with a suitable name. It seems every decent name has been taken by a photography studio, scrapbooking supply company, or a different s4h site!!! I came up with/had suggested at least 13 amazing names that were all taken!! I’ve been pulling my hair out the past couple days to come up with an original one. Finally when my creative juices got flowing I came up with too many creative ones…and now can’t pick between them!! Haha!! I’ve narrowed the choices down to either Sweet Pea Pages or Artistic Albums by Nicole. I really can’t decide which I like better!! But eventually I must choose…so I’ll keep you all updated with my progress of this newest adventure and if I ever am able to finally settle on a name!!!!!