Easy DIY Purse Shaper

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker (5)

Here’s an easy and cheap way to make a purse shaper for your handbag!

Why Use a Purse Shaper

Two reasons:

It will make your purse look nice, even when really full.  When I travel, I keep a ton of stuff in my bag.  I’m always carrying the DSLR, a travel book, phone, personal essentials, and maybe a sweater when we’re out and about.  That doesn’t compare to what I put in it for the plane.

It helps your purse keep its shape over time.  If you put your purse though as much as I do, it will eventually lose its shape.

Yes, there are companies that will make custom purse shapers.  I wasn’t going to pay $20+ for something that I could easily make (or ask my mom to make for me).


You will need: a handbag, a hard piece of plastic, a piece of fabric big enough to wrap around the plastic (preferably matching the handbag lining), a razor blade, scissors, and fabric glue.

About the plastic: pick any hard plastic that you can cut with a razor blade.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like because you’ll be covering it.  My mom cut up a campaign sign that she had on her lawn during the last election.  I bet the cover from an old hardcover children’s book would work great.

I don’t recommend using wood.  Thin, light wood might break after a while.  If it was thick enough to not break, it will weigh down the bag.


I freely admit that I asked my mom to make this for me.  I love having DIY projects to work on when I visit home and she had all the supplies on hand.

Step One:  Use your razor blade to cut the plastic.  Cut it larger than you think you’ll need — it’s easier to make it smaller than to start over.  Cut it so you can easily get it in and out of your purse.

We used an old lawn campaign sign for mine.  In case you were wondering, he was running for county supervisor.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Step Two:  Wrap the plastic in fabric and glue.  Fold the fabric like you’re wrapping a present.  It’s fine if it doesn’t look perfect — put the glued side facing the bottom of the bag.

My mom sewed mine because she’s an overachiever.  Gluing will work just fine.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Step Three:  Insert into your bag and forget about it!

I don’t even realize the shaper is in my purse anymore.  It handles all my things like a champ, especially when I toss my DSLR in the bag carelessly at least fifteen times a day when we travel.

DIY Purse Shaper by Natalie Parker

Make yourself one of these before your next trip.  Care for your purse!


A Christmas Travel Journal

Christmas Travel Journal by Natalie Parker

What’s this?  What’s this?  A new travel journal?  I know, I’ve never made two in a year before.  But here she is.

Travel over Christmas = festive required (it’s a rule).  I went for festive rather than something that screamed holiday.  In the past, I’ve shopped for paper with the trip in mind.  For our big trip back in September, I used some paper from my stash.

I used my stash again here.  I had a bunch of great stuff with metallic accents that I hadn’t used yet due to my creativity problem.  I went with Shimmer by My Mind’s Eye.  Actually I had two finalist choices and let Mr. P choose.  He has to earn his keep around here somehow.

What do you think?  I love that it totally fits with a holiday theme but not stereotypically so.

A little secret: by the time this post goes live, I’ll already be well into my trip.  Want to know where I am and see some live shots?  Follow along on Instagram!  If you’d like to stay surprised, I’ll have some photos ready to share in January.

To learn how to make your own travel journal, check out my travel journal tutorial here.  To understand why I keep a travel journal, check out this post.

traveling with a camera

Traveling with a Camera by Natalie Parker

I’ve been mulling a lot about traveling with a camera.

I’ve had my DSLR for a bit now and have taken it on a few trips.  It’s been on short trips in and out of the country as well as one long trip to Antarctica.  I’m starting to wonder whether I need another camera to add to my arsenal.

I used to carry around a pretty cheap point and shoot.  We upgraded to the DSLR because Mr. P was tired of seeing me attempting artsy shots with a cheap camera.  The DSLR takes beautiful photos.

However, the DSLR is also a lug to carry around.  Getting it out of my bag when we’re traveling makes me think twice about whether it’s worth getting a shot (which is no bueno in my mind).  I loved being able to whip out the point and shoot to get a shot that was quick and unobtrusive.  I also loved the option of carrying a smaller bag.  One of my worst fears in life is schlepping.*

Handling the camera with cold weather gear was challenging in Antarctica.  Despite the photo below (wherein Mr. P told me I couldn’t possibly use the DSLR when wearing 2 layers of gloves), I handed off camera duties for most of the trip.

Traveling with a Camera by Natalie Parker

In my trip to Oregon recently, I left the camera at home and used my phone.  That was great for a quick weekend, but not doable for a longer trip.

Perhaps a higher quality point and shoot is needed to fill this void?  I’m leaning that way.  But I fear having that option will make me eschew the DSLR and since I bought the damn thing, I’m determined to get my money’s worth.

Somewhere there has to be a balance between quality and the schlep factor.

Your thoughts?  What camera do you use to travel?

*If you ask me what worries me about parenthood, I will always (naively, because I don’t know what’s coming to me) say that I don’t want to have to carry around a ton of stuff in order to leave the house.

China Vacation Photobook

My China photobook is done!

I now have 5 out of 6 vacation memory keeping steps complete!  Technically I think it’s 5.5 steps because I have half of step 6 (careful storage of mementos) complete.

I create a photobook for each vacation before I work on the scrapbook.  I discussed all the reasons why when I got back from Egypt last year, see the post on that here.

Same drill as last time, this is a 5×7″ photobook from MyPublisher.  Their software has gotten even better since last year and they make everything so easy.

I always start the book with a statement picture – this time it was the red lanterns on Gui Jie (Ghost Street).

I put text on each page where I started a new city but left the rest text-free.

Then I made lots and lots of pages.  This book is about 60 pages.  MyPublisher’s standard pages are very thick and high quality.

On the last page, I used a grid of pictures from everywhere on the trip, plus the cool “End” sign.

On the back cover, I put a picture of us.  I decided to make it a “thing” to put us on the back since I did the same with our Egypt Photobook.

Again, I’m really pleased with the quality and MyPublisher isn’t paying me to do an advertisement here.  When the book arrived at my office, my coworkers were very impressed with the quality and how good the pictures look when they’re printed and bound.

More Pictures from China

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerSummer is coming to a close.  My next vacation being far off, let’s have some fun and look at pictures of my most recent trip to China!

The picture above is from the Shanghai Pudong International Airport.  It’s right above a moving walkway between the Maglev station and the main terminal.  Mr. P was halfway down the moving walkway before he realize he’d lost me.  The sign was too perfect, I had to stop!

Next, a fruit salesman outside of my friend’s apartment.  China has lots of interesting dichotomies, in this case food on a bike cart outside quite modern high rise buildings.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAn unrestored section of the Great Wall.  Most pictures of the Wall you see are actually restored sections.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerA trip to the Beijing Zoo to see pandas!

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe summer palace in Beijing.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFamous Shanghai soup dumplings (xiao long bao).  These were sooooo very good.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerQuail eggs on a stick for sale in Xi’an’s Muslim Quarter.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Terra Cotta Warriors outside of Xi’an.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerAmazing sandstone pillars at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  This is the land that inspired the movie Avatar.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerWild monkeys on the valley floor of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerStanding above the clouds over three thousand feet up at Tianmen Mountain National Park.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerOn Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, looking down at the city.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerThe Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island in Hong Kong – the largest sitting Buddha in the world.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerFried rice inside a pineapple Shek O Chinese & Thai Seafood Restaurant on the southern end of Hong Kong Island.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerMr. P and I on the last day of our trip standing above Shek O beach.

Photos of China by Natalie ParkerCue wistful sigh.

I never understand the enormity of anything I do until way after the fact.  Looking at these pictures, I keep thinking “my gosh, we went everywhere!

On Traveling and Taking Pictures

Mr. P, being ever so thoughtful as normal, brought this CNN article to my attention recently.  It’s about travel, social media and technology and how those things affect how much of our travels we share with friends.

It’s a very interesting read and I agree with many of the author’s points.  It made me realize that there isn’t a right answer to this issue and it’s up to me to balance.

For example, I will still show pictures from my vacations on Facebook.  However, I do not “photo dump” every single picture I took for my friends to see.  I very carefully pick the best ones.  There’s nothing that makes me not care anymore about looking at someone’s trip as having to thumb through blurry pictures or 10 pictures of the same thing in a Facebook album.

Putting down the camera.  The author’s thoughts about putting the camera down are well taken.  Again, it’s balance.  I try to learn each trip how to better capture my experience with the camera.  Still, there are times when I just enjoy myself without worrying so much about photos.  That’s especially true when I’m at an overwhelming or famous site – sometimes it’s impossible to capture the enormity of a place.  I have surprisingly few pictures of the Egyptian Pyramids for this reason.

What do you think?  How do you handle these things when you travel?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article.

Yup, that’s me trying to figure out my friend’s camera on top of the Great Wall.

Minibook: Everything We Ate in China

China Food Travel MinibookI’ve never made a mini-book before.  Funny, right?

I wanted to do some sort of fun project about all the food we ate on our trip to China.  I started by taking a picture of everything we ate, beginning on the plane ride.  Mr. P and our friends were gracious in not touching anything on the table until I got a shot of it – they even reminded me to take photos!

Shopping in Beijing, I found this awesome little book.

China Food Travel MinibookI printed the food pictures as 2-inch squares when I got home, and then left a 1/8-inch white border when I cut them out.

China Food Travel MinibookI was a little concerned that the thickness of all the photos was going to mess with the binding of the book, but the finished product is actually pretty cool!

China Food Travel MinibookI sat in front of the TV with these supplies and went to work.

China Food Travel MinibookI used a date stamp to stamp each page with the date the meal corresponded to.

China Food Travel MinibookThen I taped in each picture and wrote a few words.

I also wrote divider pages for each city we were in.

China Food Travel MinibookNot bad for a first attempt?  I like how minibooks have an effortless look, so I hope I succeeded.

I’ve included a bunch of pages below so you can look at them.  I used over 80 photos, so this is just a sample!

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Why I Don’t Scrapbook on the Road – My Memory Keeping Strategy for Travel

Vacation Memory Keeping StrategyI don’t scrapbook on the road.

Scrapbooking on the road is very popular.  It’s one of those things that works for some people but doesn’t work for me.  Scrapbooking on the road is generally about taking a small minibook and some supplies and at least starting a vacation album while on vacation.

Why I don’t scrapbook on the road:  I’m too busy relaxing I don’t have time.  I wish I could say I spent time relaxing.  Truth is Mr. P and I pack way too much into our vacations.  I don’t think I could scrapbook if I wanted to.

Even if I could, I don’t want to spend the little downtime I have working on a project.  I barely have enough time to keep caught up on my travel journal.  Any extra time I try to spend actually relaxing.  Plus, I like being able to fully digest a trip before scrapbooking it.

Here is my memory keeping strategy for vacation/travel:

  1. Take a ton of pictures.  I took about 2000 in China.
  2. Collect all tickets, programs and other mementos in an envelope during the trip.
  3. Keep a travel journal documenting what we did on each day.  Instructions on how to make your own travel journal are here.
  4. As soon as I get home, go through my pictures and delete blurry/bad ones.  Finished this for the China trip already!
  5. Make a MyPublisher vacation photobook to take around to family.  More information on why I create vacation photobooks here.
  6. Carefully store mementos and get to the scrapbook when I want to.

The last one is key.  I don’t want to pressure myself to get scrapbooking done by a certain time.  It’s a hobby, I’ll get to it when I have time and when I’m feeling creative.  Anything aside from that wouldn’t be my best work and I wouldn’t enjoy myself.

Do you have a travel memory keeping strategy?  I’m all ears!  If you scrapbook on the road and it works for you, I’d love to hear it in the comments.