how to make a first birthday scrapbook

How to Make a First Birthday Scrapbook

Scrapbooking can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first timer. But, putting together a first-birthday scrapbook is a fun way to create an attractive keepsake with the hundreds of photos you took during their first year and at the birthday party. There are several ways to get organized before you start the scrapbook that will make the process much easier and faster. Here are a few things you should think about before you start cutting and pasting:

Digital or Physical:

first birthday photosThe first decision you have to make is whether you’d rather do a digital scrapbook or a physical scrapbook. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. For example: a digital scrapbook can be much easier to put together, especially if you’re not particularly crafty. Many programs allow you to create pages quickly and easily, and you can simply drop in your photos. Additionally, digital scrapbooks don’t require all of the fancy tools, paper and scissors that you’ll likely end up purchasing if you go physical.

If you opt for a digital scrapbook, this website is a great, easy-to-use option. What I love is that it allows you to purchase digital kits to add to your collection. The kits typically include paper/backgrounds, cutouts, fonts, etc.

Conversely, if being able to cut and design, insert photos and actually hold the scrapbook in your hands is important, then opt for a physical scrapbook. Physical scrapbooks are a great option if you want to have full control over the layout of the photos. They also provide the ability to add dimension to your design by layering photos, adding textured or 3D objects, and experimenting with luster. Traditional scrapbooks aren’t going to be lost if your computer crashes either.

Whether you decide to go physical or digital you should also consider making use of favorite outfits, blankets and other items. As these things can be difficult to scrapbook, a good option is a time capsule. The first birthday time capsule found here can be personalized to include your little one’s name and birthday. It’s a cute way to store items that are a little too big or awkward for a traditional style scrapbook.

There are a lot of fun things you can do with both physical and digital scrapbooks; it really comes down to personal preference.

Layout:

No matter what type of scrapbook you choose, you need to make a few choices about page sizes and such. The size and shape of the book you choose will determine how you can layout your pages. While narrower books (think something like a regular journal or 8×7) may be familiar to hold, they can be more difficult to design and work with. Consider larger, square books for more versatility.

scrapbooking can be fun Now the fun part: there are a million and one things you can do to each page. A fun idea to consider is to choose an overarching theme for the book. This will help narrow down your choices for paper styles, designs, fonts and colors. For example, you could choose a theme based on colors or events (the beach, the circus, etc.). Pinterest has a lot of pages with tips and steps to get the look you want.

Pro Tip: It’s often easier for people to break books up by year, so think about using other themes and colors for different years as well.

Photos:

The most important part of your scrapbook is the photos and keepsakes. Before you start scrapbooking, sort through all of your photos and pick out your favorites. The number of photos you decide to incorporate will impact how large the book will be. However, don’t feel like you have to narrow your choices down to only a few, you can cut or add photos later on if you feel like it.

This may sound counterintuitive, but be prepared to cut your photos. As in chop them with scissors. There are a lot of fun designs you can incorporate which look better with round photos, diamond shaped photos etc.

Add words:

A fun detail you can add to pages is a journal entry, such as adding a journal type page to the beginning of your little one’s first year scrapbook. Tell the story of how you chose their name, or how much they weighed when they were born. You can either hand write it (with permanent marker or another ink that won’t fade) or print it out and paste it in. Printing can be fun as it lets you choose different fonts and font colors; however, handwritten notes certainly have a more personal feel to them.

Including notes is a great way to add extra personality to the book and can be used throughout the scrapbook for pictures that require a little more reference or photos that have a fun story behind them.

Scrapbooking can be a fun, relaxing way to preserve memories. Take your time, do a little planning and most of all, choose designs that fit your family.

Sweater Stocking Tutorial

Tutorial: Sweater Stockings with Cuff and Coordinating Loop

This year we found the cutest stockings at the store, but I wasn’t willing to p art with the money for them. They were knit stockings with beautiful designs on them, so soft and warm. But when we started putting up our Christmas decorations and I took out our old boring stockings (you know, the kind with the iron-on transfer names), they just didn’t have quite the same feel. Plus, I’ve still not gotten around to doing the iron-on transfer name for our youngest, who is now 3. It might have something to do with me not knowing the location of my iron, but that’s a story for another day.

At any rate, I kept thinking about the gorgeous stockings and how much cooler they would be in our living room. At first, I thought maybe we weren’t going to DO stockings this year. We’re still working on establishing our Christmas traditions to some extent – our oldest son is 6 now, but for the first few years we could just wing it and he wouldn’t notice. But the kids were very excited about stockings and kept asking me when I was going to put ours up, so it occurred to me that I do have another option – my oft-neglected sewing machine!

After scoping out Pinterest for a while (solely for research, not because I was sucked in after trying to search for extra cool gag gifts that would top the tin foil hat, box of tinsel, and hand drawn flip book cartoon (I can’t draw to save my life) that I gave my sister last year…

box dance

Box dance

tin foil hat

Tin foil hat

box of tinsel

Box of tinsel

 

Actually, you can read more of my craziness with gag gifts and wrapping over here on last year’s wrap wars post. Since it’s not yet Christmas and I haven’t quite finished all my devious wrapping, I don’t have one for this year yet…

But the point is – while I was on Pinterest, I happened to see some super adorable sweater stockings. Easy DIY stockings that are made of recycled sweaters (upcycled?) that you either don’t want anymore or purchased at a thrift store. I thought it was a win win win winwinwinwinwin!

So the boys and I headed out on an errand day and stopped at the Goodwill in our town to shop for sweaters. My kids had a blast trying to find the just right sweater for their stocking. I was looking for sweaters that had some visually interesting knitting, but my kids were looking for cool colors. My youngest (he’s 3), fond a blue sweater with metallic thread in it that is very shiny. My oldest first picked up a sweater that he thought would be perfect for my husband, only to change his mind and say that he wanted it to be his. I found a very pretty sweater with pink and silver stripes in it, and we can always use more pink in our house. For my husband, we found a red sweater that had very nice knit stitches on it. We tried to stay away from sweaters that were too bulky, had too loose of stitches, or were too plain. I also picked up a white sweater – just a plain white ribbed turtleneck sweater – to use as a cuff for all four stockings, partly so that they would match, and partly because my other idea for the top was cotton balls and I didn’t think that would really jive with the beautiful sweaters.

So we took our sweaters home, I cut them up and sewed them together (it took me a little over 2 hours for the sewing of all 4, and I’m not the best seamstress, so I’m sure it doesn’t take too long. I broke two needles and ran myself out of bobbin thread without realizing it in the process – I’m quite accomplished). But, at the end, we had four beautiful stockings and my children could not be happier. Here’s the results:

Sweater Stockings

 

We have mine with pink and silver stripes, my husband’s which is a solid red that has very pretty knitting, a very patriotic stocking for my oldest son (we love this theme, especially with the last name Liberty!), and the shiny solid blue stocking with interesting knitting that is my youngest son’s. I posted this quick sneak peek of the stockings last night after I had finished them  on Instagram and shared it on Facebook as well.

I don’t have a mantle, so today we rounded up some Command hooks (that hold 5lbs, these are pretty hefty stockings with the sweater bulk), and shared a quick picture of the finished, hanging stockings:

diy sweater stockings

My friends and family love them! That’s an added bonus to the kids loving them, because let’s be honest, they’re the real judge of Christmas worthiness for stockings. My husband thinks that they look very  much like socks and would have preferred for the body of the stocking to be larger, especially in the foot area. That’s definitely doable, but it all depends on the pattern you start with. Which reminds me of the purpose for writing this post – a few of my friends asked for a tutorial for it. I love to share links to patterns and tutorials I find online, but the problem today is that I sort of mashed a few different ones together. See, I don’t have buckets of ribbon to pick a coordinating one for each stocking, but I wanted to use more of the sweater, so I made the loops out of the sweaters so they would match. And the cuff is not something that you see on most of the sweater stockings I found.  I didn’t line it, but it’s definitely possible for you to line them, and easy as well. So let’s get to it, time for the…

Sweater Stocking Tutorial

DIY Sweater Stocking Tutorial with Cuff and Coordinating Loop

What you need:

  • Sweater (find at thrift store, or in your own closet)
  • White sweater for cuff
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Needles
  • Scissors
  • Pattern (more about this next)
  • Lining fabric (totally optional, but you could do just a cotton, and scrap fabrics work fine)

About the Pattern:

Most of the sweater stocking tutorials or posts that I’ve seen suggest that you start with a pattern of a stocking that you already love. I wasn’t able to find my old ones at the time, so I scoured the Interwebs to find one that I liked. I didn’t want to have to take the pattern to a copy shop to make it bigger, so I was abundantly happy when I found a tutorial online from FabricWorm that includes a pattern you print out on 3 pages and tape together. If you do have a stocking that you already like the shape of, trace it on to some paper (like a brown paper bag or newspaper), and then make sure you add an additional inch or so and cut around that extra line for seam allowance. Otherwise you’ll wind up with a skinny sock and not the beautiful one you’d imagined.

Preparing the pieces:

You need to have 4 pieces cut before you start sewing – 2 sides of your stocking, 1 cuff, and 1 loop.

To cut your stocking sides, I laid my pattern out on top of my sweaters to find a pretty spot to put it. For example, on my youngest son’s blue stocking, that interesting knit pattern only ran down the middle of the sweater, so I centered the stocking body (not foot) there. On my husband’s, it was the opposite with the middle being plain and the interesting knit pattern on the two sides of the front panel, so I centered the stocking body on one of the most interesting parts. I traced my pattern with a Sharpie, although normal people would probably use a fabric pen.

trace pattern for sweater stocking

Next you’ll need to cut out two layers of the stocking. I cut through two layers at one time. Again, normal people may do this differently – for example, they may trace the stocking pattern, cut one, trace and cut the other one. I just make shortcuts. As you can see, I’m using a different sweater here because when I made the original four, I didn’t take any pictures, so I had to make an extra stocking for my dog today.

Once you have your stocking cut, you’ll need to cut a small piece (about 3″x8″ or so) from your sweater. For two of our sweaters I used sleeve cuffs, I think I used at least one hem, and maybe even a neckline on one. It doesn’t matter where you pick it from, but the sleeves and hem generally have more ribbed areas rather than fancy stitches that could be hard to work with on a small piece.

stocking loop fabric

 

The final piece you’ll need to cut out is the cuff. For our stockings, I cut up the sides of the white sweater, to about the armpit area and then cut each piece in half where the breastbone would be if you were wearing the sweater, right down the middle. I did this for the front and the back, so I ended up with 4 pieces that were the same size rectangle – about 6″x16″. You can also open a sleeve and cut a similar sized rectangle, which is what I did for this fifth stocking:

sweater stocking cuff piece

And now that our pieces are cut, we are ready for assembly! This part will go fast, I  promise.

Assembling the Sweater Stocking:

I started with the loop first when I did my stockings, something about it being the smallest piece. I also have a hard time turning them inside out (yes, even with tricks to do it), so it actually took me the longest of the entire process. If it’s taking too long, you can always cut a wider piece and start over. So basically, for the loop, all you do is take your fabric piece  – it’s about 3″x8″ – and fold it in half lengthwise so that it’s now about 1.5″x8″, right sides together. You might want to pin, or you can live radically and just use your hands to keep it together. I’ll be honest – I only pin when I’m taking pictures. Seriously, I did one whole stocking without pinning anything when I did these, but I would totally not recommend that shortcut.

sewing the loop

You’ll want to use at least 1/4 – 1/2″ seam allowance on the side, depending on how bulky your sweater is and how much it looks like it’s about to fray on you. For the big chunky blue one I made for my youngest son, I used the about 1/2″ and that was the biggest. Use a zigzag stitch for strength. So after you sew it, you’ll have a tube. Turn it inside out – I use a crochet hook to help flip it, but you can  use whatever method you’ve got that works.

sewn loop

stocking loop

 

Yay, good job! Now the next part is to prepare the cuff. You don’t have to do them in this order, but I apparently went smallest to largest, so that’s what I’m telling you in this tutorial. So next is the cuff. You should have a piece of fabric (if you’re choosing to use a cuff) that is about 6″x16″. Place it in front of you so that the longest way is running from right to left. Fold in half, right sides together so you have a piece that is 6″x8″. Now you’ll want to sew this together with a zigzag stitch on the edge so that you have a tube. 1″ seam allowance will help with even the bulkiest of fabrics.

stocking cuff

 

Next for the cuff, you’ll flip if halfway down so that right sides are now out and wrong sides are in. It’s important to note at this stage, that you can press the seams or since we’re using a sweater, open up the seams like you would if you had pressed them so that it’ll be easier to sew through later and lays nice and flat.

Cuff seams flat

 

At this point, you’ll want to pin your loop into your cuff at the cuff seam. This will be going on the back of the body of your stocking. You want the loop part pointing down, so the raw edges of the loop and the cuff are aligned. Pin so that they stay together. You may want to leave your loop a little extra long so that it doesn’t get lost when you’re sewing up the cuff into the body of the stocking.

attach loop to cuff

 

So now we have our cuff and loop assembled. Time to move on to the stocking!

First, make sure you have your two pieces of stocking with right sides together. Sew with a zigzag stitch around the outside of the stocking, leaving about 1″ seam allowance (you can trim later, but this allows for any sweater fabric, even bulky ones). Be careful if you have a sweater with a very loopy pattern, because your sewing machine foot could get stuck in the stitches. This happened  with a couple of my stockings, and can be totally annoying.

sewing stocking pieces

 

After you have your stocking pieces sewn together, you can trim the seam allowance –  make sure to pay special attention to curved areas so that when you flip it right side out they won’t look weird. If they look weird, flip it back wrong side out and cut a triangle out of the seam allowance where it looked weird, this will help it lay more smoothly. Once you have it trimmed, flip your stocking right side out.

Stocking right side out

 

If you wanted to use a lining for the stocking, this is the time to prepare that. Simply cut 2 copies of your stocking pattern out on your lining fabric and sew with right sides together. Here’s the important difference though – DO NOT FLIP LINING RIGHT SIDE OUT. If you’re using a lining, it stays wrong side out and goes into the stocking at this point, after the stocking is flipped right side out and before the cuff assembly has been added. So if you’re adding a lining, do it now. If not, continue on.

The cuff assembly is the tricky part to explain, it will make sense when you do it. Place the cuff and loop with the folded edge pointing down toward the heel of the stocking into the the open stocking, aligning the raw edges of the stocking, cuff, and loop. The loop and cuff seam should be on the back seam of the stocking, the seam that goes down to the heel not the toes. Pin the cuff assembly into the stocking opening, raw edges together.

Pin cuff to stocking

 

In this picture, I am showing you if you align the loop raw edges on one side, and the other side I left the loop extra long so that it wouldn’t get lost when I was sewing up the cuff. It’s totally possible for layers to get lost in a big sweater sandwich.

Now that you have it pinned, you just sew up the side with a zigzag stitch so the cuff is sewing to the stocking. Use the 1″ seam allowance again. I went over the loop pieces with forward and back stitches a couple of times to make sure there was a tight hold.

sew cuff on stocking

 

All sewn up? Trim off loop/thread ends and flip cuff out – your loop will pop up with it!

trim loop end

flip cuff

And voila! You’ve made a stocking from a sweater!

sweater stocking

 

I would love to see any sweater stockings that you create, even if they’re not following this tutorial – heck, I rarely follow tutorials completely. Feel free to tag me on Facebook (@JustJoannaBlog or @Joanna Liberty) or Instagram/Twitter (@way2gomom) so I can see! And finally, I hope you have a beautiful and GREEN Christmas! So many times people mention that green is either expensive or shabby, but here’s proof that it doesn’t have to be either!

melancholy

YouTube Playlist: Melancholy

Do you remember making mix tapes? Recording songs off the radio with your super awesome stereo? Man, those were the days. You had to catch the song at just the right time, making top 40 countdown an amazing source for music and something to which you absolutely had to listen. And then when you didn’t get it quite right, you’d have to rewind and it could take a few tries before you absolutely had it correct – with no DJ talk, unless you wanted to include the name of the song, not too  long of an awkward pause, filling up the rest of the tape with the appropriate amount of songs, and the list goes on.

And after that there were mix CDs. It wasn’t as fun as mix tapes because you had less of a chance of discovering completely new music when you were taking music you already (legally, right?) acquired and putting it in a super awesome order with a specific theme. But there was the benefit of being able to have both the completely beginning AND ending of a song. And no weird comments from a DJ making an awkward spot in your mix. The sound was more clear, more crisp, and you could spend even more time on perfecting the exact right combination of songs.

But then there was YouTube. And all of the listening online with radio channels like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and all the rest. But there is still a way for you to get your creative music collections out of your head and into your ears – or the ears of those who love you enough to listen to the mixes that you make. I enjoy making YouTube playlists for the purpose of entertainment – mostly my own, but to recapture in a way the enchantment that happened from the days before online radio when mix CDs and, even better, mix tapes were an option. Sure,  you could make a mix tape now, but who has a tape deck on which to  listen? Or you could make a mix CD, but who uses a CD player anymore? They are far too easily damaged, as well.

Perhaps you’re a loyal reader and remember that collection I shared a while back with The History of Me in which I shared a playlist of songs that inspired me in different points of my life. Or perhaps you’re simply an awesome person who wants to know what crazy I’m talking about today – either way works for me.

Today is a horrible, miserable, rainy, not so good day. And windy. Did I forget to say windy? Because honestly, I’d be amazed if my outdoor decor was still there tomorrow. I’d go out and save it now, but there are only so many places to put things that are blowing away. And they blew away from the last places I put them so they may be on their own at this point. What is better for a terrible, horrible, windy day than a nice Melancholy playlist? Sure, you could listen to music that will perk up your spirit, but having a good down and grungy day every now and then makes those happy days that much brighter. Or maybe it’s just me, which could totally be the case. Click on the image listen to the playlist on YouTube, or check it out in the player below.

melancholy a youtube playlist

Song List:

Johnny Cash – Hurt
Metallica – One
Gordon Lightfoot – The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
Nine Inch Nails – That’s What I Get
Treble Charger – Ever She Flows
Toad and the Wet Sprocket – Always Changing Probably
Modest Mouse – It Always Rains on a Picnic
Incubus – In the Company of Wolves
Pavement – Here
Neutral Milk Hotel – Two-Headed Boy, Pt. 2
Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Elliot Smith – A Fond Farewell
Pixies – Where Is My Mind
Radiohead – Creep
Harry Chapin – Cats in the Cradle
Gary Jules – Mad World

Up for a challenge? Create your own melancholy playlist and send me the link so I can hear!

keep fitness goals

How do I keep to my fitness goals when I’m on the move?

I often think that I want to keep my fitness up while on the move but there just isn’t the time. That’s why protein powder is essential for those who want to achieve their fitness goals and boost their overall health and well-being. Sometimes, in the middle of a busy day, I feel that I am losing energy and there is no time to prepare a healthy meal. That’s when I look for an easy solution that I know is going to do me good.

On the move

All the time we’re on the move our bodies are working hard for us and they need replenishment. Muscle tissue needs to be repaired and built up, bones need to be strengthened and a healthy balance needs to be restored. A well balanced meal of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats is the ideal answer but not always easy to achieve while on the go.

Back at base

When we’re back at home, with a bit more time to devote to our bodies, there are so many ways to work out these days. They all have something in common – muscles get worked hard and need to be repaired in the right way so that they come back stronger. A whole range of amino acids are necessary for good health, a positive nitrogen balance is needed for muscle building and a healthy calcium intake is needed for strong bones and high energy levels.

So, whether I’m on the move or back at home, I make sure that I’m doing the best I can for my body. That means a good mix of exercise and recovery. When I’ve got the time I can prepare a great, tasty and nutritious meal but here’s the thing – with protein powder I can do that even when I’m in a hurry. Mix up some powder, a fresh banana, a cup of skimmed milk and a tablespoon of peanut butter and I’ve got everything I need to keep me on the move.

simplysinopec wrap

Did You Know? I’m an Independent Consultant with Simply Aroma

I may not have told you this, but I’ve been an Independent Consultant for Simply Aroma for a little while now. I’ve tried other direct sales companies before, and they just weren’t the right fit for me because the products contained toxins and that’s just not a product I can feel confident telling my friends to use.

And then I found Simply Aroma. I had seen some of my friends online sign up as consultants, and I’d even been watching since before it officially launched, but it was only recently that I signed up. I wanted to see how the company grew and to hear, on more than one occasion, how devoted they are to ensuring that the product is free of toxins, responsibly produced, and useful to customers. At the launch of the company, there were several oils, but the number available has grown dramatically – with more coming! My reasons were all satisfied for waiting and I truly believe that this company is a great fit for me – if for no other reason than me being able to buy essential oils at the wholesale price.

But through this company, I’ve also been able to do more for myself and my family. My sister and I started making terra cotta clay necklace diffusers (and a bracelet too!) – we’ll be selling these through Etsy and at craft shows. It’s a fun way for us to hang out AND maybe make a little cash.

Clay necklace diffuser

 

Aren’t those pretty?! You just add a drop or two of your favorite oil and then wear it. As you wear it, your body heat will increase the temperate of the clay, which diffuses the essential oil. I like to wear a necklace with vetiver when I’m working. I wore lavender when I was traveling recently too.

I’ve also been doing the #SimplySinopec detox with my husband, although we took a break from it when I traveled to LA and haven’t started back up again  yet. Using the essential oils to help remove toxins from petrochemicals is amazing – and the side effect of losing stubborn fat is my kind of awesome! (If you’re interested, I’ll be talking all about wrapping with essential oils for detox on an upcoming Google+ HoA with  my friend Lydia from ClutteredGenius.com on our Just Brilliant show!)

Here’s what the essential oils look like that we use for wraps:

#simplysinopec oils for wrap
simplysinopec wrap

 

I was able to take advantage of the free starter kit promotion that has happened off and on since launch. I’m not sure if or when it might be offered again, but you can still check out information about the kits and sign up on my link if you’re interested in purchasing oils at wholesale OR making a go of the direct sales business.

And that brings me to another one of my favorite parts about Simply Aroma – the SALES! We had the free kit promotion for signing up that happened for a while, and we’ve had Flash Sales happening more recently. I LOVE the Flash Sales. It’s a great time to pick up oils that you have been wanting to try or score some deals on oils you use frequently. It all depends on what is being offered in the Flash Sale. I just heard that there is a JUMBO Flash Sale happening this weekend with FREE shipping and no limits (but you have to order by Sunday!). Here are the products in the Flash Sale:

Simply Aroma Jumbo Flash Sale

 

You have until Sunday to put in an order – with free shipping!

4 Digital Business Cards

4 Free Digital Business Card Solutions to Save the Trees While Growing Your Network

4 Digital Business Cards

With the ShiftCon Conference swiftly approaching, I’ve been checking out packing lists and working on my list of what I will be packing. I haven’t updated my business cards in quite a while – they end up being stuck places and I just can’t bear to hand out so many pieces of paper that are, in all likelyhood, going to be tossed by the recipients. Especially not at an eco/wellness social media conference.

So I’ve done some quick research on digital business cards, checking out the options to see what it most likely to be useful. My criteria included being able to be used on both iPhone and Android (I have an Android, but I know many of my friends have iPhones). I also wanted a solution that I was able to set up on the web because I like to be able to see what I’m inputting on a desktop – an app that is only available on a smartphone just doesn’t make my list for something like this. No real reason, other than I just don’t like it.

4 Free Digital Business Card Solutions
Contxts SMS Business Card

Contxts Sends SMS Business Cards

Contxts is a really neat site that allows you to set up your virtual business card and send it via SMS. After you have your card set up, you can text “send” and the phone number of the person you’ve met to contxts and they will make the connection. If your new friend also has a profile set up on contxts, then you’ll receive their information back. Contxts is based in Denver, Colorado, and is currently in beta stage. It is free – no additional pricing information.

Evaunt Virtual Business Card

Evaunt – Virtual Business Cards for Everyone In Your Company

Evaunt is an interesting contender that allows you to set up as many free business cards as you would like. If you’re an office manager, you’d be able to set up the business cards for all of the staff and assign it to a single custom URL. You use the unique web address to give to people, and it also includes links to your social media accounts.

Icon.Me Virtual Business Card

Icon.Me – Your Virtual Business Card with Content Aggregation

Icon is a very cool option – you connect your social media accounts (only Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn so far, Pinterest and Instagram coming soon), and set up your personal information. When you’re done, you end up with a custom URL that includes not only your business card information, but also content aggregated from your social media accounts.

Twtbizcard Virtual Business Card

Twtbizcard – Your Twitter Business Card

Twtbizcard is your virtual Twitter business card. I really like this option, but I can see using it for different events, not necessarily at a social media conference. Not everyone uses Twitter, but for those who do, you just tweet to them and include the hashtag #twtbizcard to have your business card information (set up on the site ahead of time) to your new contact. The company is for sale, if you’re in the market, which in combination with the Twitter-only aspect is why it was placed at number 4 on my list. I think it’s really cool, I just worry about it’s future.

It's not the people you know, it's the people who know you

So there you have it – my top 4 virtual business card solutions. Do you use any of these? Which is your favorite?

CDC Image of Ebola Virus

Ebola Outbreak: History of the Virus

"It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls." - Epicurus

People think about death – some more than others, but it’s a thought that happens. We don’t know how or when we will die, and we don’t know exactly what happens after death. It is natural that we wonder about death. Some people even have ways they think they would prefer to die – for example, a quick death over a long drawn-out illness that culminated in death. One of the worst ways I can think of to die would involve uncontrollable bleeding. From orifices. Like Ebola. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that most people would consider that Ebola would be a particularly terrible and terrifying way to die. Is that fear of death, and a horrible death at that, the reason that we are hearing more about Ebola outbreaks? As you may recall from my tick research, I conquer my fears by investigating them and writing about them – while Ebola is not a personal fear of mine, I entertain the potentially narcissistic thought that an investigation and article from me on the virus may help someone who is troubled by the topic.

CDC Image of Ebola Virus

Cynthia Goldsmith/ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What is Ebola?

The inbucation period of the Ebola virus averages about one week, although it varies from two days to 21 days. Symptoms include a sudden fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat that becomes worse over time. These are known as non-specific symptoms because many illnesses have similar symptoms. The onset of the sore throat is followed by a rash, severe abdominal pain, reduced kidney and liver function, vomiting, and diarrhea. Then the bleeding starts. Both internal and external bleeding are involved, although it is noted that not every case includes the hemorrhagic bleeding for which the virus was originally named.

The virus is structurally similar to the Marburg virus (hemorrhagic fever from Germany) but functions differently.

The illness is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or bodily fluids a person or animal infected with the virus. According to the World Health Organization, men who contract the virus and recover still pass the virus to others through their semen for up to seven weeks after they have recovered. The infection is believed to originate from bushmeat, or hunted meat from the forests that helps the people supplement their limited food supply, such as fruit bats, monkeys, antelope, and porcupines.

What is the History of Ebola?

In the fall of 1976, during the months of September and October, 318 cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in and around Zaire – within 70 kilometers of Yambuku in the Bumba Zone of the Equator Region in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

There were additional reports of cases outside of the 70 km radius, because some of those who were ill traveled there to seek treatment. Yambuku is near the Ebola River, and the disease was named after this river. The first person presenting with this fever began having symptoms on September 1, 1976 – five days after receiving an injection of chloroquine for malaria in a local outpatient clinic at a hospital. By September 7, 1976, several other people who had also received injections at the same hospital clinic also began having symptoms or had been in close proximity to one of the other people experiencing symptoms. Most of the 318 people with the disease began having symptoms within the first four weeks, after which time the hospital was closed down. The hospital and clinic initially had 17 people working and closed four weeks after the initial case presented – 11 out of the 17 workers died of hemorrhagic fever, which we know call Ebola virus disease.

In this first outbreak of the disease in 1976, it affected both men and women and knew no age boundaries, but women of childbearing age (15-29) were infected the most – they received injections from prenatal and outpatient clinics at the hospital. At the same time of this outbreak in Bumba, there was also an outbreak in Sudan ear Nzara – a journey that takes no longer that four days, which is less than the known incubation period. No correlation was found for the two locations, but officials estimated that someone in Sudan was affected and transferred the illness to the Yambuku clinic when he or she received an injection at the clinic.

In a subsequent post, I will be covering the current state of the Ebola virus, as well as looking into the treatment and vaccines that have been discussed during this outbreak. To be quite frank, I’ve had this article sitting around written to this point for quite a while now and just wanted to post it now since I don’t have time to finish it just yet.