Sunday 18 September 2022

How To Cheat At "Outdoorsy"

I'm not outdoorsy. I'm beach-y, sit by a pool-y, walk on the common-y but not one who would make use of the many outdoorsy digital kits that are available and that, for some reason, I buy. I bought them so going to use them...

Here are some flattering photos of me I found the other day with afro perm and fashionable-at-the-time Deirdre Langton glasses. Despite many many hours spent organising photos I'm still surprised when I find them.  We were outdoors having an archery lesson at Walton Hall, near Stratford. We were actually only a few yards from our apartment but still outdoors, so there. I have a huge collection of wood effect papers which made this template (Studio KPD Layerworks No 1677) even more outdoorsy.

[Click on any photo to see a larger version]

Here's a more recent collection of photos from a walk in Boscombe Chine gardens - a few yards from the beach but you wouldn't think so.

The template I used here is Scrap With Liz' Focal Point no 16. Tips: Put the word "outdoors" on it and add some bits of dirt and grass. I have a large collection of dirt...  and yet another wood effect background!

You can see more pages of that Grand Day Out in Boscome here.

Tuesday 15 February 2022

Essential Preparation

They say you should write about what you know so I'm not going to write an essay on good preparation  for everything in life.  Come on! Have we met?? 

I do take cruise prep seriously though (a lot more to follow on our dedicated cruising blog) and it's fun to make "prep pages".

I made this page quickly while zipping through a lot of photos from 2019 in order to "catch up". The phrase "catch up" is normally banned but just this once... I also finished a quilt, cut hubby's hair and transferred my entire life onto a new computer so yay me for achievement this weekend.

It was quick because it was a "pre-decorated paper" and all I did was add photos and the text. The "Escape..." word art was pre-made too. Cheat when you can! All the elements on the page are from Connie Prince's Bon Voyage kit. The photos show:

1) The dress I take on every cruise. It had just come back from a short cruise so I took advantage of good weather to wash it before our Aurora cruise. It's beaded silk and it's DRY CLEAN ONLY. Pffftt... forget that. That just means "not to be washed by idiots". Oh, and wash it by hand! It's actually hanging from our garden parasol, not just hanging from the sky. Or maybe I'm wearing it in invisible mode.

2) The pesky labels taken off new clothes. I can't stand itchy labels next to my skin and always remove them. It usually takes forever as they're sewn on in a ridiculous way with multiple rows of stitching. Needless to say I'm often doing this at the last minute and there have been cries of anguish as my seam ripper rips through the actual garment. 

3) Luggage labels. My printer hates these more than it hated printing tax returns. Once upon a time cruise companies took your money then politely sent you printed luggage labels.

I do start preparing well before the cruise but sometimes it gets away from me and there's a lot of last minute prep then I CAN'T SLEEP  'COS I'M TOO EXCITED!!! 

Mind Games

One thing you can do well before your cruise is prepare in your head. I made this page just after we'd booked a cruise to the Canaries. I used photos of a previous trip to Madeira (including the page background) and journal cards from the Project Life app. I added a pic of my Portguese book and the music I was listening to in Portuguese, albeit Brazilian.

Get Off Our Ship!

I like to take photos of preparing to get off the ship too - photos of our luggage and the cabin and the ship in "closed" mode etc. Well, getting off isn't exactly stressful for us since it takes us about 10 minutes to get home...

There are more cruise prep pages in the album HERE and an article on our main site HERE

Saturday 22 January 2022

Changing Shape - Adventures in Zinnia


No, not about dieting! My succinct view on that is "Life is short. Eat the cake. Then go for a walk."

For many years I've worked on square layouts which I'd normally print 12" x 12". I have a good print company for that if you're in the UK. A square layout just seems to make design easy which is how it becomes traditional. It's also traditional for quilting blocks, allegedly because 12" can be divided by 2,3 4 and 6. The same principal applies with scrapbook pages as far as the eye is concerned. So there's a lot in the "pro" column for square layouts.

The downside is sheer size if you want to print them 12" x 12" and an apartment by the sea beckons soon. It will be a very small one if it's to be near the beach. Scrapbook albums will have to fit on IKEA shelves because we're not spending the entire retirement budget on having a man come round to build custom shelves. The other problem is you need a specialist and therefore expensive album with square pages.

Time to change SOME of the albums to 6 x 8 which you can tweak into A5 if you want a much cheaper album for them. I'm also looking at making Traveler's Notebook (yes, I know it should have two "l"s but that offends the Google gods) pages tweaked for A5.

Along comes the Zinnia app. This is designed for planners/journals etc but I thought I'd have a go at making scrapbook pages with it.  I'm not really into planners as such. I don't have anything to plan and stickers like "unpack groceries" make me laugh. What else are you going to do? Leave it all in the porch? Journalling, maybe. Not about how I feel because I'm British and most days "meh" covers it adequately but notes about craft projects, occasional To Do lists etc. Here's a silly To Do list I made before Christmas just playing with the app (designer credits to follow):

I don't really do To Do lists either, I just kind of muddle through... 

The week 48 page above started out as a kind of planner then morphed into a scrapbook page when I added photos and other stuff. there are loads of page templates and elements in Zinnia plus you can import pdfs and photos. Tutorials and full review soon. It's mostly easy but there are a few tricks to it.

So, what to do with this page? The 2021 album, such as it is, is square so week 48 had to be square too. I tried making an ordinary square page but whatever I did the Zinnia one seemed more interesting. Eventually, after much faffing about, I simply added it to a square page with some extra bits and pieces and background from Bella Gypsy's Woodsy Winter kit. I haven't printed it yet so we'll see if it's all legible... [Edit to say it printed reall well, you can read all the text]

Saturday 15 December 2018

Masks and Edges

I love using masks and  grungy edges. DH John took this photo of the ferry near his office.  

I used a template from Indigo Designs' Frame Art Vol 2, background paper and edges from Scrapyrus' Anchor My Love.

Here's another page from my home town with big wheel thing that appears now and then. This is the second page I've made of this thing and we never did get to go on it. 


The "Bargate" is the mediaeval entrance to the city which is why the streets either side are Above Bar and Below Bar. It makes sense if you live here!

This page is almost more edge than background. I tried to get a panorama shot but couldn't quite get the snow covered chairs in as there was a door frame in the way. It was far too cold to go past the threshold!

Background is from Studio basic's Studio Favorites:Kraft. Border and title from Ju Kneipp's Mitten Weather, other elements from Amanda Yi's Rustic Winter and Krystal Hartley's Winter's Veil.

Thursday 29 June 2017

Project Life When Your Life Goes Wrong

[Legal note: Project Life is a trademark of Becky Higgins LLC and refers to their products. I'm using it here as I'm actually talking about making pages with the Project Life app on my phone]

If you can be bothered to scroll way back in this blog you'll find a post with me hating everything about Project Life. I still stand by a lot of that. I can't stand twee in any form, I can't stand silly people  who make you do scrapbooking - or, indeed, anything - in a certain way and I don't work to a timeframe. However, for the last few years I have been doing a lot of pocket scrapbooking because I like having a photo layout to work to. I've even done weekly Project Life pages, mostly using the Project Life app on my iphone. I then finish the pages in My Memories as for me the layouts are too  bland when they leave the phone and I like to add a border and "stuff". You can see some tutorials and articles on my Easy Pocket Scrapbooking site and there will be more shortly.

I started making weekly pages as an experiment to see if there was enough to go in them. There have been some weeks when I've said to DH "We have to go out and do something, I have nothing for my weekly page". Really. The pages have rarely been done in order and I catch up every few weeks. There are missing weeks in every year. No-one cares. NO-ONE CARES!!

It started to go wrong in 2017. Without giving the details our financial future has been put at risk by a bunch of corporate bullies. We've been put through hell and believed we would lose everything. What do you do about something as trivial as scrapbooking when that happens? Well, first of all you get expensive specialist lawyers, check your pension options and - in my case - come out of the retirement you've only been in for a few months and come up with a plan to exact revenge on said bullies. Oh right, what do you do about the scrapbooking?

I just left everything for six months. I did six regular pages, some with photos from last year. I think I managed to do three weeks' worth of PL pages. Although I talked to my friends about what was happening I didn't feel the need to spout about it in a scrapbook. I'm British. We don't do that.

It's June now and I've started to catch up. I made eight pages last week. The hot weather in the UK helped as I could do sunny pages. The revenge plan also helps! There's a long article on this topic in progress on Easy Pocket Scrapbooking but for now by tips when it gets rough are:

1) Don't worry about scrapbooking when you have more important things to think about but stay in your FB groups (well, not the ones full of bullies obviously), admire the work of others etc. Do whatever hobbies help you to relax. Lots of crocheted scarves have been made in our house...

2) Carry on taking photos of anything and everything and taking screenshots of your Facebook page and the weather (is that just me?)  and organising them on your phone. Make a rough page with the Project Life app when you feel like it. Tell yourself it doesn't matter what it's like as you're not going to use it. You will find it useful as a framework later and might even use the page you made at the time. Carry on backing up. You don't want a load of lost photos adding to your misery.

3) When you do start scrapping again don't worry about what order you do it in. Just pitch in and start! Don't worry about what falls into which week but make sure you put a date somewhere. Show your pages to your friends as you make them.

4) Get those specialist lawyers!

Here's a quick page I made recently during our glorious hot weather. I hope that two weeks wasn't the entire summer. I used the Project Life app the Instaweather and Instaplace apps. Kits is Melissa Bennett's Hello Summertime.


PS (months later....) we beat the corporate bullies. We had the moral and legal high ground and a real desire to grind them into the dust.

Friday 13 March 2015

Keeping It Simple

I'm not very good at simple. I tend to throw stuff at the page and end up putting bits in all four corners even when I'm trying to leave lots of "white space". This page is made with One Little Bird's Halcyon kit (part of The Lilypad's BYOC February 2015). I started off copying one of the CT layouts but drifted off piste.

I tried to fix the shadows so the elements stand out from the page, especially the flowers. I'll do a tutorial for My Memories later this week. In the meantime here are some tips for keeping it simple if you're one of the Very Bad People who like to throw stuff at a page:

1) Find a simple CT page you like and copy that. Obviously if you end up copying the entire thing you need to make sure you give credit to the person who made it.

2) Use only one photo and keep to one kit. Plain papers can be too traumatic so choose papers with a slight pattern.

3) When you think the page is finished force yourself to remove at least two elements!

I love the "live in the sun, swim in the sea, drink the wild air ..." quote. It's my mantra and we hope to live near this very beach one day. It's Alum Chine in Bournemouth and the photo was taken during the very hot summer in 2013 when we were lucky to be renting an apartment right by the beach for a week. No, we're not kidding ourselves it will be like that when we live there. For a start the apartment we buy will be half the size and not have a sea view!

Click on the picture below to get a bigger image:

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Wednesday 31 December 2014

Making the most of what we have ...

I'll get to something deep and meaningful in just a moment, it being the end of the year and all that, but first I'll show you some pages I made recently:

Romsey is a little town near us with the best Waitrose (expensive food store for those across the pond) for miles around. We went to get the week's shopping and noticed signs about roads being closed. So we parked in Waitrose and walked through to the square where the Christmas lights were going to be turned on. Unfortunately it took ages and we had to get back to the store before the lights went on. We took some rubbish photos. No matter, here's a page made with Raspberry Road's Christmas in the City which includes a gorgeous Bokeh Papers pack. If I'd know this earlier I might have tried to get some better Christmas shots! Click on any photo to see a bigger version in a new window.

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We had a Christmas market in Southampton town centre this year as every year. A depressing Facebook group I was in - note "was" as I now leave anything not uplifting - did nothing but moan about the market and how Southampton isn't Christmassy enough so we went to have a look and had a lovely evening. Best of all I got a Monty tote bag free in John Lewis. Yay me! I think they were for people buying iPads and I was only buying a £25 phone but the assistant was keen to get rid of me and go on her break and I don't blame her as the store was packed.

Here's the page made with Kristin Aagard's Christmas Lights:

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One thing we did learn in our Failed Christmas Lights trip to Romsey was the date of their carol singing. Again photos were rubbish but the sly cropping of a regular photo into a panorama made them less so and, hey, we were there! Kit is Melissa Bennett's Tis The Season, template is from Traci Reed's 365 Unscripted Stitched Grids 7.

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So is there a not-so-hidden point to the title of this post?

In common with many of my scrapping friends I have far too many kits and other scrapping stuff and there is no need to buy any more. I should make the most of what I have. Indeed I'm sick of everyone trying to sell me more at every opportunity, and not even timely stuff. Christmas kits were being sold in November. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't you need to take the photos before making the pages? Are we scared the internet stores will run out of kits? We had New Year kits well before Christmas. By the way, designers, "Happy New Years" doesn't even make any sense in the UK. It appears to beg for an apostrophe, needs to lose an s and/or ends mid-sentence. Don't get me started on the way you leave money on the table by not considering what other nations say.

Yes, of course I'll fall off the wagon at some point but I'll save money, save computer space and actually use the kits I already have.

Have a wonderful 2015 full of good memories and new friends!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Ignore Paypal at Your Peril!

Altogether now with the whinges:

"I can't afford to have Paypal in my store, it costs too much money"

"Poor little me I work so hard and everyone should love me and not criticise me".

Oh sorry, the general all-purpose whinge from silly designers slipped in there. We should probably take that as read.

What matters is not what your expenses are but your profit - the bottom line:

Do you want 100 sales without Paypal charges? Do you want more sales from those 100 customers and their friends? OR...

Do you want 1000 sales from around the world where the net receipts are a (small) percentage less due to Paypal charges? Do you want more sales from those 1000 customers and their friends?

If you can't see it in abstract terms - and most people can visualise the concept of "more sales" - try it out with some actual figures. If your maths isn't so good get a friend to help you.

Here's another common whinge: "The store is taking commission. It's not fair" Well, of course it's fair. Why would someone who has spent time and money building up a store sell your stuff free of charge? It's the same maths exercise:

Do you want to sell to the 100 people who might look at your website and Facebook page or do you want to sell to the tens of thousands of people who are customers of the store?

We have a whole series of articles in progress on running a digital scrapbooking business. What prompted me to write this now is a big paper scrapping company who have branched into digital. This has its own challenges as paper designs don't always transfer well to digital and digi scrappers don't necessarily make their pocket pages the way paper scrappers do. They also have a gazillion stores vying for their business. No Paypal. Lost sales.

You can't assume you will have a lot of sales so why lose sales through not offering Paypal? I can use a credit card for any purchases but the bank charges an overseas transaction free of £2.00 (about $3.00). I have another card that doesn't do that but you lose out on the exchange rate - so still a fee. Don't kid yourself it isn't! And why, pray, should I entrust my credit card details to a company I don't even know?

I fix the stupid "No Paypal" mistake on a regular basis as I'm an accountant. A British one, hence maths not math. When I prepare a business plan or bank loan application for a client Paypal has to be in there or there's no deal. It's standard business practice even for the smallest business. I offer it myself so clients can pay their fees easily. It's a courtesy to clients. The total fees just go in my own accounts along with bank charges. It brings in the fees earlier and I can move the money to my business account in seconds.

Your business will have expenses - phone, stationery, web hosting, Paypal charges. Suck it up. do the maths.  Look at the bottom line. Don't be one of the whingeing idiots. Be professional, be courteous to your customers, make more money!

Friday 28 November 2014

Save on Top Photo Editing Software

By Yobeth Puckett

There is no better time to try the top photo editing software, Paint Shop Pro, and save 50%.  Get this Black Friday special from the comfort of your home.  After the 50% discount the full version is $38.99 or upgrade to the latest version x7 for only $28.99.  Amazing!  No need to fight the crowds just click here to purchase.

Hurry, this offer is good through November 29, 2014.  PLUS you'll receive additional bonus items valued at $150.00.

This is my go to program for photo editing and creating digital scrapbook pages.  I love it and use it all the time.  I know you'll love it too.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Piracy? Okay or Not?

by Yobeth Puckett

Piracy, copyright infringement, unauthorized use, reproduction of another's work, plagiarism, and the list goes on.  We frequently see news reports of companies copying a legitimate website/product to make a fake website/product and steal sales.  We can probably all agree that's not right and it's not fair!

People often dream of coming up with the next hugely successful company or product.  But how would you feel if you had a great idea for a new product, you labored over it, spent all your time and money to bring it to market only to have the idea stolen.  Someone else loves your idea too! But they're lazy. They decide to replicate it or in the case of digital designs they just download it, repackage and sell it under their own name.

Intellectual property is defined as a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript, film or design, to which one has rights and may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.  A copyright gives the originator the exclusive legal right to the intellectual properties use and the right to authorize others use of the property as well.

Designers always include "Terms of Use" with products they for sell or give as freebies.  The terms vary widely and range from okay for personal use only to commercial use for commercial use. Whatever the terms are they apply to the person that bought the product only.  Designers do not want us to share products with each other, not even freebies.  Do not share, do not redistribute, do not resell, do not claim as your own, etc.  You may be able to use their products if you buy a license from them or give them credit but otherwise it's considered piracy.  That's reasonable since they either designed the product themselves, bought a license or bought a commercial use product.

No Piracy insert as seen in many digital products.

The use of intellectual property seems to be a muddy area for many people. It's not uncommon for people to download pictures & clip art to use in a layout but just because something is available online doesn't mean it's right or legal to download it.

Of course, some things fall into the "public domain" category either because they're not copyrightable, the copyright has expired or the creator has assigned them as such.  Public domain material is not restricted by copyright so they're free to use, no license required.  Titles, phrases, slogans and such are not copyrightable.  Neither are items of fact or government works and documents.  There are web sites that are great public domain resources for books, images, illustrations, audio and films.

Movie Night kit used with permission by Kimeric Kreations

But what about music or movies?  Really?  I don't think you need to ask! Everything made to promote your child's favorite movie is designed for your child to want, you to BUY and the production company to make money. But wait, you say, sometimes designers make things that are super cute to give away as a freebie! That's okay, right? Sure it's okay, if the designer is using original work made to coordinate or complement the characters or theme of the movie.  It's not okay if they steal original work, downloaded directly from the movie website, to make anything.  It doesn't matter whether it's free or for profit!  These large companies do not tend to sell licenses or give permission to use their products.  They retain all rights.

I recently downloaded a free product a designer made using images that were obviously snagged from a web page.  I downloaded it because I wanted to see if she gave credit or had somehow gotten a license to use the images.  There was no mention that she was using copyrighted images, however, she did include her own TOU.  Among other things, she specified the items were for personal use only and to give HER credit if anything made using the product is used online or submitted to any publication.  Wow!  In case you're wondering, I deleted the product from my computer.  I don't support piracy!

Piracy is definitely a global problem.  The world wide web has broken down boundaries and made it so easy to steal other people's work.  I can only say, if you see designs that are obviously stolen, don't pretend it's okay, it's not. Don't excuse it by saying it's okay because it's free.  If the item were more tangible, a car for example, you probably, hopefully, wouldn't think it was okay to keep a stolen car.  Even if someone gave it to you!  Not only is it wrong, it's illegal to possess a stolen car.  The only one with any legal rights to the car is the car's owner.  

I define good character as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. Don't spoil your good character by stealing something simply because it's easy & no one is watching.  Don't support or defend people that do.  Some people try to make this a grey area but it's really quite clear.  Stealing is wrong and if you agree, then don't do it yourself!  Piracy is stealing.  Piracy is NOT okay!

Friday 1 August 2014

Fill Your Text With an Image Using PaintShop Pro x6

by Yobeth Puckett

Have you thought of using areas of your photo or a favorite background paper to make a title for your page? Give your layout a custom look.  It's easy to do using the Text Tool in PaintShop Pro x6.  I've written a step by step tutorial if you'd like to try it. You'll find the tutorial here.

Go ahead and give it a try.  We'd love to see your layout on Divas Facebook group.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Now For The Things You Don't Want To Do With Shadows!

By Yobeth Puckett

A few days ago I posted an article about the top 5 things to do with shadows on your scrapbook page. Now for the flip side, is there anything you shouldn't do?  Well, I'm glad you asked!

Today I posted the other side of that coin.  The top things that you don't want to do with shadows on you layout.  I want to encourage you to use shadows because they truly add a lot to your designs.  

There really is a happy medium.  Like most areas of life, it's about balance. Skipping shadows all together is not good but floating around like a cloud in the sky is not good either.  You can read the entire post here.  Don't worry, it's not long but touches on the highlights.

The most important thing is to get scrapping.   As as absolute beginner every thing may seem insurmountable but practice makes perfect.  And with practice you'll discover your happy medium.  

Saturday 12 July 2014

5 Things to Remember About Shadowing Your Layout

by Yobeth Puckett

One question that comes up a lot among scrappers is about adding shadows to your scrapbook page.  There are really no hard rules when it comes to scrapping but shadows can enhance your layout and make it look complete. 

I've written a short post that might be of interest to you.  It's about the 5 top things important to remember about shadowing.  You will find the full article here.

Although this not a post specific to any program I do have a tutorial on shadowing in My Memories Suite.  I believe it was written for version 4 but nothing changed with version 5 that applies to adding shadows.  The buttons appearance are different but the steps are the same.
You can find Shadows 101 tutorial here

I hope you find this information helpful.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Plain or Fancy?

There's something to be said for simple pocket pages. On the other hand I like to throw stuff at the page! Let's do both then...

The colours in these photos were a tad retro since it was getting dark so I used the Becky Higgins' Digital Project Life Azure kit and changed the selfie pic to sepia. Here's the simple version:

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It would pass muster but let's throw stuff at it anyway ... (Click on it to see a bigger version)

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The seasidey bits are mostly from Creashens' Newport.

There's an article on simple v fancy on our main website HERE.

Let's do some recycling: same template, same kit, different photos. I love these photos of my Mum and Dad on their first trip abroad together in 1968. I even used their passport photos in it. Mum is doing her film star impression going up the steps of the plane.  I left the hotel postcard looking faded but brightened up the photos a little in Picmonkey.

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Monday 5 May 2014

All Work and No Pay!

by Yobeth Puckett
How did the industry standard in the scrapbook world become getting people to do your work and not paying them?  It's not isolated either, I've seen it in many different areas.

My first experience working in the digital scrapping world was on CTs (creative teams).  This is basically a barter system.  When you work on a CT your purpose, at the very least, is to promote said designer's new release.  You get the kit before it's released, create a predetermined number of layouts within a few days then use them to promote the kit when it's released.  Then you're usually asked to post your layouts in 2-3 galleries. That's not a bad deal for the designer or the CT member.  But some designers require a lot more. Depending on the designer, you may also be asked to participate in forums, praise teams, on Facebook pages, on your own blog, host challenges, and even make products for the designer to give away free in stores, trains and hops.  Wow, now it's looking a little more like slave labor!

I've also "partnered" with some designers to make products they can sell in their stores. I've had good and bad experiences doing this.  The theory is when something you design with the kit sells you're paid a commission. This is a win/win unless you aren't paid the promised commission. This can amount to a sizable amount and is nothing short of theft!

Then you have affiliate programs where you partner with the software companies.  Typically you may provide product reviews, tutorials, giveaways and other promotions for the company on your blog and a link to their product's page.  If a customer follows this link and purchases the software, you receive a commission for advertising, promoting and selling their product. But not all companies are paying commissions as agreed.  They don't have good tracking and reporting systems in place which makes it easy for them. But when two or three people you know say they bought the software using your code but you're never paid, it's not good and reveals their actions.  Actually, it's theft!  And it's happened more than once.

It's ridiculous!  It's not good to base compensation on the honor system when there is no honor among thieves.

A Jewish friend once told me that when someone says "Trust me!" it's yiddish for screw you.  Sad but, in a lot of cases, true.  Like, you promote my software & get us sales & we'll compensate you, trust me! Or, use my product to design stuff I can sell & I'll compensate you, trust me!

I can't think of any other industry that could get away with not paying someone for their labor!  As a matter of fact, it's illegal and is the reason we have minimum wage and other laws in place to protect workers.

I'm currently working with a lady that produces training videos that is actually paying me to write the accompanying handbooks.  Plus, I get the training video which I would have to purchase otherwise.  AND, she pays me the same day I send her the handbook!