Getting to Know you: Maureen Reynolds

Today we welcome our very good friend, Maureen Reynolds, to the GTKY spotlight here at Designer Digitals.


Maureen keeps very busy with her hobbies and travels and checks in often at Designer Digitals. As many of you know from recent threads in our forum, Maureen’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer. Our interview took place before this new development in her daughter’s life, so, I want to tell Maureen how much we all want to support her while she helps her daughter fight cancer. The good news is, according to an update from Maureen, there is good reason to count on the cancer being treatable in her daughter’s case.

For the interview, I asked Maureen to introduce herself in her own words before I start asking questions:

My name is Maureen and I have lived in Annapolis for over 20 years now and happily retired from 20 years in politics, having worked for one federal senator and then for one state senator – both women! I worked on my first national campaign as a 15 yr old teenager so those jobs were true to my early interests. I am also happy to be married to my second husband – ten years now. He is retired too but keeps working as a consultant which is good because it helps pay for our trips. wink We each have three adult children, so in the end I got my only-child-wish for a big family!

Other things about me that tend to come up when I do any of those All About Me quizzes – my first language was Lithuanian because I was being raised by my maternal grandparents during WWII  while my father was in the Army and my mother was working in Philadelphia. I started speaking English at age 3 and have had ease learning languages ever since.  I grew up in the suburbs of Washington DC and graduated from high school at age 15 – after skipping a grade. I was the class baby which is pretty nice now that I’m a lot older. I flunked out of college in my Junior year but went back after my divorce and got my BA at age 57! I considered law school but decided working full time and going to school was not the way to start a new marriage. Mostly, I don’t regret it. wink

I spent the 20 years of my first marriage outside the US, seven in England but mostly in countries that were in some sort of turmoil. In hindsight I can see how it gave me a broad view of the world and taught my children that the US way is not the only way and not even always the best way. I’m very glad that my three children are very open and tolerant of others’ beliefs and ways.

Regarding my blog title and my alternative user name – CookingMyLife – yes, I do love to cook! I started with Gourmet magazine in high school and learned technique from the old Julia Child videos.  While my Nana ( the main cook in our house) was ready to embrace any convenience food that came along, and my mother was just glad to have dinner of any sort ready when she got home from work,  I was ready to learn the very basics. This really came in handy especially in Malawi where I made my own bagels and dealt with butchering half a pig for the freezer. I may not have slapped my thigh to show a butcher what cut I wanted but I have done sign and hand language to figure out what part of an animal a hunk of meat may have come from in an open market. It made for a lot of laughs and a lot of learning. Dick and I love to try new foods when we go out or travel.

Today, I view that blog name as what most of us do in life…we cook our life from the ingredients we have on hand. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s …well, not what we had expected or hoped for but we eat it and go on. It may be a lesson to pick better “ingredients” or just learn new ways to work with what’s in our life.

Maureen, you are very savvy and up to date on all things related to Mac computers and digital scrapbook software. Did you start out as a paper scrapper?

I’ve never paper scrapped. It really didn’t interest me and mostly looked too cute which is not my style. Even in my digital designs, I’m not sure if I’ve ever used a button on a page and most of my flowers just collect digital dust. I’m willing to try new things, but, for the most part, less is more for me. Except for buying digi supplies!

When we remodeled our kitchen 3 years into our marriage, brave souls that we are, and I found the Kitchens forum on Garden Web where i could get almost real time answers to questions about kitchen remodeling. I learned that most people ‘graduated’ to the Cooking forum after they finished the renovation, and I found people who loved to photograph their food. Great cooks and wonderful photographers.  I had used a 35mm back when my children were young but got sick of the weight hanging round my neck. I had a Nikon point and shoot and thought about getting more serious about my food photos but soon realized that was not my goal. I wanted to do something with the photos but wasn’t sure what.  My creativity had an outlet in my cooking but I was ready to do something else.

My dh thought I’d like a Mac for this vague idea about photos so I got one of the original Mac Minis and Photshop CS.  That program brought me to my knees back in 2003. Lots of tears and frustration trying to learn it on my own. The only thing I DID get was layers. I gave up on CS, broke down and got PSE4 and did a lot of googling about what to do with it. I only knew I wanted to play with my photos, not get perfect shots, and stumbled upon Designer Digitals in 2008. I loved Ali Edwards’ templates and eventually figured out what to do with them, especially after PSE6 for Mac finally came out. To say I was hooked is an understatement! I was so happy to retire and play all day long!

Capturing the food we eat on trips is still a big part of my scrapping. Event scrapping is my main work and though it takes planning, I love giving my husband more than just photos.  He reads what I felt about a place and that stirs his own memories again.

Please, tell us a little more about your computer and the software you prefer.

After I had my first Mac, my dh went Mac for security reasons, and we are now a total Mac household. We both love new technology and can help each other out with tech questions.  PSE is not in his realm though and fortunately I no longer have to do Quicken or the comparable software he’s now using to track expenses.  I have gone from a Mac mini which went to our late granddaughter Bekah, to a 24” iMac which has now gone to my grandson in hs, to my current love – my 27” iMac. I use PSE10, as well as ADCSee and now the beta Lightroom 4.  I love having things organized so I hope the combo of ACDsee and LR will get me where I want to be. I do use the folder system a la Cassie as my foundation.  I truly believe ehds are our friends, or perhaps our enablers? I have a 2T backup ehd and a 1T that stores my digi supplies and older photos as well as my completed layouts. I also burn a dvd each month with my digital purchases, or in the bad?good? months, two dvds.  Please say you understand!!

Oh, believe me, I understand. I am compulsive about saving everything on my EHD and on CD’s or DVDs, too. I often think I would have so much more time to actually scrap if I didn’t spend so much time backing up my photos and my supplies!

What about your camera? I think you have mentioned using your camera phone.

I suspect I am the odd one out in now only using my iPhone4 for photographs. With the amount of travel we do, I have tried to keep paring down what I need to take and really knew I didn’t want to go point and shoot any more and definitely not DSLR.  If I were 30 or 40 my answer might be different.  I am mostly happy with straight out of the camera, er iPhone, shots. I may play with them later in PSE but mostly I’m happy with “good enough”. It’s the story and memory I want preserved, not a professional quality photo.

I think that makes perfect sense to rely on the iPhone camera for ease of use. I think more and more people are finding their phones are always handy and the photo quality is really so good for capturing memories.

Since you often are traveling around the country and the world, what advice do you have for other travelers who want to scrap as they go?

I have gone in various directions with scrapping trips AND scrapping ON trips. I used to try and blog each night about the day but found that too stressful and too dependent on iffy internet connections.  At that time I was using my dh’s laptop and the shared time was also an issue.  I finally got a Macbook just for travel but have personally found that trying to scrap a trip while I’m on it is just too much for me. Cruises are a different story. That kind of trip I found I could do, and enjoyed doing a 23 day cruise book while on the cruise. I have all of my digi supplies copied on a 500GB LaCie ehd which is pretty darn rugged. I upload my photos from my iPhone each day and make my choices. I will often use a set of templates. Ali’s Bread and Butter and the original December Daily sets are my favorites. I will usually throw in a very artsy page now and then to break up the more linear look. I think if you plan to scrap while traveling it’s important to have some sort of predesigned plan. While scrapping is fun, it’s also important to actually BE on the trip you’re taking! Sadly, I’m not a daily journaler though I’ve tried. I now use the calendar, the photos, and receipts to recall most of what happened each day.

I think your advice to actually BE on the trip and be aware of every moment is so good. It’s why I take only a few photos at family events. There’s a balance that’s needed between trying to record the experience and being fully involved in the experience.

What about the 365 Project? You’ve been successful with it in years past. Are you doing it again this year?

I’ve really enjoyed the 365 project. Admittedly, I didn’t do as many layouts of ‘stuff’ as I might have done otherwise but that’s ok with me, since 365/Project Life/ P52 or any of the takes on a daily record, really work for my life as it is now. I think it’s especially important for those who don’t have children or partners in our everyday lives to remember to value the day to day bits of our own lives.  I do believe the sacred is in the everyday, and if God is in the details, then this project is for me.  I did start the year with a month or two of planned out layouts – gathering inspiration from the gallery – and that gave me a foundation to build on.

I also made a 365 folder with sub folders for each week. That gave me a place to put the things I thought I might use as well as a place for the psd, the 3600 and the web page when I was finished with each week.  2012? oh yes, I’m doing it again, but as always a trip came first! so I’m slow getting started this year.

Maureen, I’ve noticed your pins on Pinterest. It’s a place I love to go to get ideas, too. Have your pins on Pinterest led to scrapbook pages or home decorating or cooking ideas for you?

I love Pinterest! but have to admit that I do more pinning than using my pins! At least it keeps all those images off my hd and onto the web to share. I do also keep recipes I want to try there, and I have been more successful in using that board as well as the one of images I like to use for my iMac desktop. Some of those have been scrap layouts I’ve found here and there. Some of you may not know it but I may have one of your lovely layouts as my desktop image for a week or so! I always have great ideas about using those decorating pins too but I suspect they are going to stay eye candy for the most part. I really do love the genius behind Pinterest, don’t you?

Oh, I agree with you. Everyone should try out Pinterest for ideas! Before we both get back to our computers, let’s leave the folks with a favorite layout of yours from your gallery at Designer Digitals, Maureen.

This one is not my typical layout, but, I really should frame it because I do love it The photo was taken on a trip to Hawaii.

Lifting_Fiona_864That page is simply lovely. Thank you so much for telling us more of your story, Maureen. May your scrapping bring you joy and maybe even work as therapy for the difficult days ahead while your daughter battles cancer. You will remain in our thoughts and prayers.

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