December 15, 2014

I have a really good reason...

I know, it's been exceptionally quiet around here. I'm not apologizing for that; just acknowledging the truth of it. I did want to pop-in and say hello to anyone who might still visit this space of mine.

One reason I haven't posted much these past several months is that I've been keeping a bit of a secret...

Yes, we are expecting a new baby. A girl. A girl!

We hardly know what to do with ourselves. I just hope she likes Legos.

Part of why I've been so quiet was that I hadn't found a way to talk about the other things in our lives until I had found a way to share this big thing. And I wasn't ready to share our news right away. But then time passed, and I got so busy with school, and life in general, and then at the end of most days I am just pooped...

So it's taken me a while. I am pretty far along, almost 7 months. Things are going well, though. I feel good; we are so very happy, and the baby is healthy. She is due mid-March; just around the time of our anniversary. We are really hoping she comes before then. We are also hoping we can think of a name for this little one before she arrives! For some reason I found naming our boys so much easier.

There isn't much else to say. I think I've pretty much covered it! =)

October 31, 2014

five on Friday: Halloween Edition

1. The boys are watching Curious George: A Halloween Boo-Fest for the I don't know how many timeth this week.

2. I've got a pot of pumpkin oatmeal cooling on the stove. That it's actually cool enough to enjoy such a thing is something I'm thankful for.

3. It's been a crazy-busy month, and it seems to have gone by in a flash. Never truly thought I'd look forward to November as a less stressful time. You know, with Thanksgiving dinner, and a Harvest Party to host - it's going to be fun! I really mean it.

4. Daddy has to work tomorrow. Which is lame.

5. The boys are super-excited for tonight.

While we don't go all-out for this day, we do try to have fun. Happy Halloween!!

September 22, 2014

scrappy blog tour

A friend of mine recently tagged me for this blog tour and invited to share a bit about my creative process here with you. Jennifer Larson and I met several years ago when we were both on the design team for Ella Publishing. Which seems like ages ago now! We got the chance to meet in person a couple of years ago at CHA, and we had a lot of fun together spending the day admiring all the new pretty paper, as scrapbookers are prone to do! I have always been a fan of her layouts and style and so I was honored by her invitation. Here we go...

What am I working on right now? 

This is my latest completed layout. A really fast turn-around time for me since we just went on this apple picking trip two weeks ago.

Other than that though, I am kind of between projects at the moment. I just finished up a home decor project for Simple Stories for a new eBook they will be releasing to go along with their DIY Christmas collection. That was quite outside the box for me! I am not usually a home decor kind of gal. But it was fun to push my creativity, and when I get the chance I will share that project here on the blog.

How long does it take me to create a project? That is a tough question to answer because I never complete a layout all in one sitting. If I had to guess though, it would probably be 2-3 hours. I am a rather slow scrapbooker, but it doesn't bother me. Trying to go faster than my intuition tells me to usually results in a layout I don't like very much. 

What are my favorite things to create with at the moment? My favorite things to create with at the moment are the things I have always loved working with, patterned paper, brads, and buttons. I like to use Thickers or something dimensional for titles. I love using my Silhouette for titles as well. I also really like wood veneer and flair, granted they are not too thick. I'm kind of a flat scrapbooker, but do like a little added dimension to my pages.

How does my writing/creating process work? When starting a new layout, I almost always start with photos...

There are times when I have to use specific products, for an assignment or such, but this is actually quite rare. So, I begin with my photos, and think about the story I want to tell. A photograph can often tell more than one story, so I try to narrow down the focus of what it is I want to say. This helps me decide if I will need more than one photo, how long or short my journaling will be, and it also guides my product choices later on. Then, working with my sketchbook I choose a combination of photos and a sketch that would best suit that story.

As an aside, if you are not familiar with my scrapbooking, then you might not know that I am a huge fan of sketches. Just this year I taught a workshop through Big Picture Classes all about sketches called Sketch Solutions. I have had people ask me this, but yes, I actually use my sketches! They are a huge time-saver, and I have found them to be an incredibly powerful tool in my scrapbooking.

After I've chosen my photos and sketch, I begin choosing products and embellishments and start the more creative, fun, and playful part of this hobby.

While I'm doing this step I am also thinking about the journaling. Using my chosen sketch as a guide, I have a good idea of how much journaling will fit on the page, and what style of journaling would work best with the design. In the layout at the top of this post I used block journaling, but I mostly use journaling strips:

Either way, I almost always use typed journaling. I might start typing up what I want to say while I'm still working on my layout, but it is always the last thing added to my page.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired? I am inspired by my family's photos and stories. That is really what keeps me, and has kept me, scrapbooking all these years. It is always the thing that pulls me back in when I'm feeling a lack of creativity.

Design-wise, I most often find inspiration in magazines. From the advertisements to article layouts, there is a lot of inspiration to be found in them. I do browse galleries and Pinterest from time to time, but that is only if I need motivation to get a project started, not necessarily for design inspiration.

What is my signature style? My style is linear, colorful, and photo-centered. I love using paper and color to help tell my family's stories. I do think of layouts as telling a story, so all the parts should work together to accomplish that goal. While scrapbooking is a hobby that I enjoy for myself, the layouts I create are not just for me. They are for my family. When we look back at our albums many years from now, I want our pages to make sense and to be relevant. That is something that has guided my style as it has developed through the years.

To continue this blog tour I've been asked to tag three of my favorite scrapbookers. I do have more than three! But I've chosen Elizabeth Dillow (So, Elizabeth was already tagged. You can read her answers to the questions, here) , Aly Dosdall, and Alissa Fast.

Thanks for stopping by!

September 20, 2014

looking back

I've meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now. As it sat on the back burner of my mind this week, I remembered why I haven't blogged very much lately. Because at the end of the day, I am just so very tired. It's a good tired; the kind that comes from having accomplished quite a lot in one day. We finished our third week of school yesterday and things are going well, but it is an adjustment from our summer schedule to be sure. And I know it will be a couple more weeks before we truly find our rhythm.

Before the seasons change completely, because even if the weather around here doesn't my mindset certainly does, I thought I'd share a few summer pages with you. We didn't do everything we had hoped to, but we did have a wonderful summer. Full, and happy. 

This first page is based on a sketch I created some years ago, long before the pocket page scrapbooking craze began. This grid arrangement comes about very naturally though, since a 3x4 is simply a 4x6 cut in half.

I wanted to make a page documenting the boys enjoying some of the some sweet treats I made for them this summer using both our Zoku pop maker and a traditional ice cream machine. I included one photo of each and replaced the other photo spaces with 3x4 cards.

I printed the journaling on a 3x4 card and trimmed it slightly so that there would be a border of color underneath it. Then I embellished it very simply with a sticker and some washi tape.

Next up is a favorite of mine. A layout I made of Gabe and Nathan and a yearly summertime ritual. Our neighbor has several lemon trees in her backyard and their branches extend just a tad over onto our side of the fence. The boys love to collect lemons for mommy to use in cooking (or making lemonade or lemon bars).

The title for this layout is a bit tongue-in-cheek because the truth is that our neighbor lets them collect as many lemons as they want. And believe me, they collect quite a few lemons! In the summer I never have to buy lemons at the grocery store since they keep me well stocked.

I kept the layout very simple; just a trio of photos, a few strips of pattern paper and a smattering of stickers and brads to embellish the page.

As I just mentioned, I made a lot of fun frozen treats this summer. Sam is allergic to egg whites, and many other things as well, but he can have egg yolks. So while cakes and cookies are out the question for now (I have started trying out a few egg-free baking recipes), ice cream remains an option for dessert. And Sam is always up for a sweet frozen treat. This last layout is all about him:

I used a decorative polaroid-style frame from the Good Day Sunshine Bit & Pieces ephemera pack to highlight the photo of him giggling. Again, I kept the design quite simple. Just a few strips of paper and stickers along the bottom of the page and a smattering of embellishments.

These photos were taken just before he got a haircut and so you can see that his hair is a little wild, but I think it’s cute!

He’s enjoying a bowl of honey ice cream. It was so delicious, and he loved it so much, he was practically licking the bowl!

Alright, please excuse any typos. It's been a long week, and I just want to get this posted! I hope you are having a lovely weekend. Until next time...

September 11, 2014

filling in the gaps

Last Friday it was my turn to host the blog for Simple Stories. In that post I shared a project that has been on my mind for quite a long time now. I don’t keep a Life Documented album... Honestly, I find the whole concept completely overwhelming. There is just no way I could ever keep up with such an endeavor. Because as I've mentioned before, scrapbooking is something I never want to have to "keep up" with in the first place. But something that I’ve wanted to do for many years now is to find the best way to include all the “extra” photos into our family scrapbooks. You know, the ones that never make it onto layouts.

I knew that I wanted to use divided page protectors to accomplish this, but for some reason I always thought that I would include the extra photos by month. Don't ask why. That's just where my mind always went, but thinking that way just seemed to make the project too overwhelming. Finally, after putting it off for, right, years, I realized that I should just do a yearly summary. So that's what I did. These are the photos and stories that fill in the gaps of 2013:

Even though the idea behind this project was to include my extra photos, I knew that I needed to set limits in order to make it manageable. To start, I decided to use only two Simple Stories Design 3 page protectors which altogether make 32 slots for photos or journaling or title spots. I knew that to keep the project doable, I wouldn’t be able to include all of our extra photos. When choosing photos from the year I aimed to pick somewhere between 25 and 28.

Again, part of why I put off this project for so long was because it seemed too overwhelming. In order to keep things easy, I also limited my product choices deciding not to use any embellishments other than stickers, and keeping mainly to using Sn@p! Collections already in my stash. I relied most on the Him and Everyday collections, but also used Baby Boy, Family, Christmas, and Summer.

As you’ll see below, I also included two cut-out elements cards from Sea to Shining Sea. I think Gabe must have seen this flag cake on "The Martha Stewart Show" back when it ran on The Hallmark Channel. He's been asking to make one for a long time. I really wanted to include one photo each of Gabe and Nathan creating the Fourth of July flag cake. So these photos got half a page to themselves.

The boys had so much fun doing this, but I never made a scrapbook page to document it. It feels good to finally have that story recorded!

I don’t take tons and tons of photographs, but I take enough that they can’t all make it onto layouts. Plus, some of them, while cute, aren’t all that great. Perhaps they are too dark, or maybe out of focus. Sometimes, there really isn’t enough story there to warrant making an entire layout. This third page includes a few photos that fit into those categories.

And, while I don’t create my layouts in chronological order, I do store them in my albums in chronological order. When I created this fill-in-the-gaps project, I decided to put the photos in order as the year progressed. On this last page are photos from fall, Halloween, and Christmas.

These two pocket pages will be placed behind the year-in review spread I make each year (which is more a highlights layout of photos already scrapbooked), and together they will give a more complete picture of our year. Some more close-ups of the pages, here is a birthday photo of Sam:

As it says in the journaling, we had a very simple celebration at home. And because Sam did not like the cupcakes (a good thing really... turns out he is allergic to, lots of things, and shouldn't have eaten them anyway!), I really didn’t have all that many photos of him celebrating. But again, it is good to finally have at least one photo in our albums documenting that special day.

The photo below is from our first day of school last year:

In this case, I actually do have more photos from the day and have meant to scrapbook them, but have just never got around to doing it. I may go back and to do that, but if I don’t, I’ll at least have some record of that day.

Finally, in some cases there really isn’t much to say about a photo. I do get bored sometimes scrapbooking the same types of stories over-and-over again each year. For example, I love our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, but carving the pumpkins isn’t really my thing. But I did take a photo of the boys cleaning their pumpkins last year:

The photo is pretty self-explanatory, but I decided to embellish it simply with some stickers from the new Frankie and Friends collection.

As I worked on this project I kept repeating to myself, keep it simple! There are so many product choices available to scrapbookers today. And the Life Documented/Project Life inspiration available online in galleries and places like Pinterest is likewise a bit overwhelming. I'm glad that I stuck with my instincts and simplified my choices ahead of time. I am super-pleased with how this project turned out, and the end result is in keeping with my style.

The best part of completing this is that Gabe and Nathan saw the pages on our kitchen table as I was photographing them, and they were so happy to see all our memories from the previous year in one place.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

September 5, 2014

hello out there

Posting on this blog has always been a bit sporadic. And I've never really apologized for it. When I started this blog, goodness, a little more than five years ago, I knew that I didn't want guilt to ever play a part in the why or how of my posting. Still, I know it's been more than quiet around here this past year.

I still feel like this post, which I wrote about two years ago, is still very true. Life is busy. Not for the sake of it, but it is.

Within that post, I linked to another one. I think that post is also so very true. Her comments about Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and add to that now, Instagram, are all even more true. Although I will say that I don't compare myself with other bloggers, and certainly do not fall into discontent about the whole thing. But, I'm with her, very much behind the curve.

So what has been going on? Let's catch up a bit...

This year I taught my first class at Big Picture Classes. It was a good and wonderful experience. Creating quality class content is important to the team at BPC, and I certainly didn't want to let anyone down! I learned a lot and had fun, but it also took a lot out of me.

Of course, there is school work to be done. I might talk about that more in some upcoming posts. I am a new homeschooler, to be sure, and so I will offer no advice. But, early on when I was discerning whether or not to homeschool I found a lot of comfort in reading what others were doing. So, I might share a little of that here.

And then there is all the stuff of daily life, cleaning, laundry, and making meals. I cook a lot. As in, almost every meal. I try to use the idea of "cook once, eat twice" (or more) as often as I can, but I get restless in the kitchen. Lately, I have been trying at least one (sometimes two or three) new recipes a week.

I started running last summer. After a 7 year break. Then December came along and I fell out of my routine. In January, I got back into a rhythm, but then come mid-March I got really sick. It was just a cold, but it took me about 6 weeks to recover fully (it was two colds really; one right after the other). It was not fun. Happily though, as soon as I felt well enough I started running again. I only run three times a week, and I'm not fast and do not go far, but it is something.

We'll see if I can blog a little more often. Not because I have to, but because when I go back and look at old posts, I'm happy at what I've shared and the stories I've told. I like having that record here. In the cases of some stories, it's the only record we have. So, I'm gonna try to do that a little more. If only for my own sake.

Happy Friday, and here's wishing you a good weekend. 

August 23, 2014

a change in seasons

This morning I woke up at 6:00 AM and had to pull our comforter up over myself. I figured if it was that chilly I could afford to sleep in a bit before getting up for my Saturday morning run. I usually get up at seven, and this morning sleeping in constituted about 15 minutes. But still.

When I finally did make it out the door I noticed a distinct chill in the air. And it made me think, wishfully, that fall might be just around the corner.

The thing is, around here it will stay warm for quite some time. Not really cooling down until mid to late November. Sometimes even later. But we'll get these cool, even chilly days from time to time that trick you into thinking otherwise.

For now, I'm just going to enjoy the mild weather and the beautiful day. And be thankful for it all.

Happy Saturday, friends.

July 8, 2014

Grammar Free Journaling, Sneak Peeks and a Giveaway!

Coming this July, Angie Lucas' popular workshop, Grammar Free Journaling, is back for another run! She asked me to be a contributor this go-round and I happily accepted her invitation.

The class starts on the 24th, just a little over two weeks away, and will run for 4 weeks. The basis of the class are 12 fun, unconventional, yet useful writing strategies that will help you tell awesome stories in completely new ways. There will be several layout examples demonstrating each lesson from multiple contributors, including all-new examples from myself, Natalie Elphinstone, Maggie Massey, and Jennifer Gallacher.

I thought it might be fun to share sneak peeks of my layouts with you today. I don't typically start my layouts with my journaling. I usually begin with photos, then choose a design, and then work on the journaling as I go along. Most of the time it is the last thing I add to a layout. It was fun to switch things up a bit and begin the process with my journaling and then think about how the design could work with the challenges that Angie gave me.

First up, a layout utilizing single-sentence journaling:

This is a technique I use quite often actually. I tend to let photos speak for themselves - at least when what they have to say is obvious! This approach worked well for this layout because we don't make a big deal about Valentine's Day. There just wasn't a lot to say about the photos, and so one sentence was enough.

Next up, Angie asked me to use a Venn Diagram.

I'll admit this challenge was the toughest for me, but I was so pleased with how the finished layout turned out! Can you guess which of my boys I am talking about here?

Finally, a layout using a quiz as the journaling device.

Confession:  I took the questions for the quiz on this page directly from an old (and much loved) copy of a Simple Scrapbooks special issue titled, “Scrapbook Shortcuts with Quizzes & Questions.” Perhaps you remember it?! Gabe, turned eight recently, and just before he did I asked him the questions listed on this layout. I then compiled a few of my favorite photographs from his seventh year and put them into photos strips. It was fun talking to him about his favorite toys, TV shows, and vegetables. I was genuinely surprised by some of his answers, and now we have a page documenting our awesome little guy.

On to the fun stuff! I have a free spot to give away to Grammar Free Journaling! To enter, leave a comment telling me your biggest journaling challenge. Comments will remain open until Monday July 14th at 11:59 pm PST. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win! I will select a winner at random and they will be contacted with instructions on how to register for class.

Just a few more things before I go, Angie previously taught Grammar Free Journaling in February 2013 and August 2013. This class features the same content, in a self-paced version. You can check your Big Picture Classes account to find out if you have already taken this class.

Also, in case you don't win the free spot, but still want to take the class, I have a coupon code to share with you. Save $7 off Grammar Free Journaling now through July 24th using the coupon code, GOGRAMMAR.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!

May 21, 2014

Scrapbook Generation's CREATE Magazine 

Are you familiar with Scrapbook Generation's CREATE magazine? It is a free monthly digital magazine which focuses on sketches. Each month they feature a manufacturer's design team and this month's issue featured Simple Stories. I have both a layout and a tag included in this month's issue and thought I'd share them with you today.

If you look at the original sketch, you'll see that I simplified the design quite a bit. I wanted to keep most of the elements the same, but still wanted the finished layout to reflect my own personal style. That can be tricky sometimes when using sketches made by others. And yeah, I'm going to insert a plug for my workshop here, I will be covering this topic in class because I think it is one of the biggest questions that scrapbookers have when using sketches.

Here is the tag I created:

The little watering can on the tag above is from the chipboard stickers from Homespun. I used the title pieces from that set on a layout, but probably would not have ever used this watering can on one. And honestly, isn't that true for a lot of embellishments? You like parts, but not all, of a package of brads or chipboard, or whatever. Tags and cards are a great way to use up those little bits and pieces of embellishments that you might not use on a layout. A simple gift can be made very special with the addition of a handmade tag or card, and in my experience people really do seem to appreciate something handmade.

You can see the original sketches that inspired these projects along with lots of other inspiration from both the Scrapbook Generation team and Simple Stories in this month's issue. Again, it is available for free to view either online or you can download a PDF.

Thanks for stopping by!

May 16, 2014

quite the week

So just the other day I was hoping for gray skies and gloom. This past week brought us quite the opposite in the form of high temperatures along with some of the worst fires San Diego County has seen, at least so early in the year.

If you follow the news at all then you know about the brush fires burning here in the county. We have friends who had to evacuate their homes (and have since been allowed back). We also have friends who are firefighters. They are working nonstop to protect lives, homes, and property.

In the midst of all this, life goes on. It seems like it shouldn't, but it does. It takes an effort, something intentional, to stop and pray. If you can, please take a moment now to say a prayer for all those affected by these events.

Thank you, friends.

May 8, 2014

Sketch Solutions Sneak Peeks and a Giveaway!!

It's just two weeks until the beginning of my workshop, Sketch Solutions, and I thought it might be fun to share a few sneak peeks of some of the layouts I created. 

Just a very few. I created several new layouts for the lessons and am in the process of making more for the class blog. Lots of new layouts! Which I hope will make for a fun and inspiring workshop. 

For the 28 days of the workshop, you'll get a new sketch every other day, accompanied by two layouts and a useful lesson in creative adaptation. With this foundation, you'll learn why and how to harness the power of sketches to truly simplify your scrapbooking process. This interactive online workshop includes 14 main sketches, 14 bonus sketches, and a free copy of my eBook, Stretch Your Sketches.

A sketch provides a solid foundation for a scrapbook page layout, so you can create a well-balanced design in less time—every time. With that piece of the puzzle covered, you can let your creativity soar in the areas of color, photo selection, product combinations, techniques, and journaling.

And now the exciting news, I have two free spots to give away to Sketch Solutions! To enter, leave a comment telling me what you'd like to learn most about using sketches. Comments will remain open until Monday May 19th at 11:59 pm PST. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win! I will select two winners at random and they will be contacted with instructions on how to register for class. 

Good luck!!

May 7, 2014

May Gray & June Gloom

The month had only just begun, but already my husband was complaining about the lack of clouds. Well, he got his wish yesterday, and might again today too. I've written a little before about the weather effect known around here as May Gray - June Gloom. Last year we got just 17 days of gray. "Not enough!" my husband declared. We'll have to wait and see what this year has in store for us. But so far, if the last two days are any indication, it looks like it will be a good one for those of us who actually enjoy a cloudy day every now and again.

Something else I've written about here is how we've had to adapt and find a new balance after little Sam joined our family. Well, Sam is two and I think if I am honest the new balance basically means I don't have a lot of time or energy to devote to this space. I want to write and share, but at the end of the day I really just want to snuggle with and talk to my husband. So there you have it.

Presently, this week in particular is quite full. Gabe will make his First Holy Communion this Saturday, and my mom is in town for that very special occasion. So we've been very busy preparing. But now she's here and I have all of Gabe's clothes ready for his big day, I think we can settle down and enjoy our time together.

Speaking of baby Sam, I hear him waking, which my cue to say goodbye. Until next time...

May 2, 2014

Learn the Secrets of Your Favorite Memory Keepers

I shared last year that I had the privilege of contributing to the second volume of Everyday Storytellers. A group of over 64 scrapbookers contributed to both volume one and two, and it was an amazing experience to be one of them. Starting today, in celebration of National Scrapbooking Day, you have the opportunity to save buy both books and save 40%!

The Everyday Storyteller idea books are perfect for scrapbookers who:
  • Have always wanted to know how their favorite scrapbookers create
  • Miss curling up with some hot cocoa and a creative magazine
  • Crave feeling inspired and fired-up about memory keeping

Each Everyday Storyteller idea book contains over 80 pages of a great variety of topics and are filled with practical advice for scrapbookers. They are organized according to the phases of memory keeping and the books offer simple ways to improve your entire scrapbooking process. The print bundles are in limited supply so get yours this weekend!

April 7, 2014

Stashbusters Anonymous Giveaway

Stashbusters Anonymous with Aly Dosdall is a 12-step program to turn product collectors into productive scrapbookers. If you're great at collecting scrapbooking supplies but less great at using what you have, join Aly Dosdall's 12-step stashbusting program! In four fun-filled weeks, Aly will give you both the inspiration and the incentives you need (weekly prize giveaways) to transform all those products into actual projects - go from potential idea to finished page!

Each week, you'll get three stashbusting challenges complete with sketches, video tutorials, bonus handouts, free printables, and example layouts from Aly and her hand-picked guest designers. Guess what? I'll be one of them!

This workshop begins on Thursday! If you'd like a chance at winning a free seat in the Stashbusters Anonymous workshop at Big Picture Classes, leave a comment telling me the one item in your stash that you have the most of (patterned paper, washi tape, punches, markers, etc). Comments will remain open until Sunday, April 13th at 11:59 pm PST. Please be sure to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win. I will select a winner at random and they will be contacted with instructions on how to register for class. 

***Update:  I've extended the deadline for this giveaway. Although the course does begin on the 10th, registration is open until the 16th, so there will still be time to register for class.***

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck!  

March 28, 2014

Sketch Solutions

Registration for my very first workshop at Big Picture Classes is officially open!!

Sketch Solutions essentially takes everything I have learned from using sketches over the past 7 years and puts it all into one 4-week workshop. I'll share my favorite tips and tricks that allow me to scrapbook faster and in a way that allows me to focus on the fun creative aspects of scrapbooking - telling my stories and playing with paper - without having to reinvent the wheel each time. Joining me for the workshop are the four best contributors a girl could ask for: Elizabeth Dillow, Aly Dosdall, Susan Weinroth and Laura Kurz. That's an amazing list, right!?

Register for Sketch Solutions through April 30th and save $8 with the code SKETCHBOOK.

I hope to see you in class!!

March 20, 2014

two times two

It was my turn to host the blog at Simple Stories recently, and two of the projects I shared were created using variations of sketches from my eBook, Stretch Your Sketches 2. Both featured grids but in slightly different ways.

In the first layout above, I replaced most of the photos in the original sketch with the new Insta-Squares that were released with Homespun:

Each pack includes cards sized at 2x2, 3x3, and 4x4 inches. They were designed to be used with the new Insta-Pocket Pages which were released this past CHA, but the design team has had a lot of fun using them on traditional layouts too. These little pre-cut squares make it so easy and fun to create your own customized patterned paper grid that this is a technique I will likely use again.

Switching gears just a bit, grids are also a great way to fit a lot of otherwise mixed-up photos onto a page. Up until a couple of weeks ago I still hadn't scrapbooked any of our past Christmas photos and really wanted to make something before too much time passed. I used the Simple Basics Kit from  December Documented as the foundation for my page.

I feel silly saying this over and over again, but I love the Simple Basics packs. They are always the first of any collection kit to get used up. I think the chalkboard background worked really well here since it is fairly neutral. With all the busyness in the photos I wanted to keep the rest of the layout rather simple.

I took a few highlight photos from the season and created a photo grid on an 8x10 canvas, added my title and finished with some very simple embellishments. It didn't take me very long at all to put this layout together and now we have at least one layout documenting our Christmas.

I happen to really like using grids, but don't use them as often as I should. Because honestly, whenever I do use them I can't help but think how darn easy they make the whole process! How about you, do you like using grids? Do they make things easier for you or more difficult? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Speaking of, I really appreciate those of you who read and comment and send me emails, especially considering I am quite the irregular blogger! Thank you for stopping by and spending your time with me.

March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

First, a happy greeting. My new favorite shape might just be this little clover.

We'll be celebrating this feast day by reading this:

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

and completing a few of the activities in this St. Patrick Activity Kit.

I'll be attempting this recipe for brown bread. Only because it's the closest thing I've seen to what I used to eat when I lived in Ireland. For dinner we're having bangers, roasted turnips and carrot batons for dinner. No mash because I have the only children in America who do not like mashed potatoes. Seriously. And the carrot batons? Well, I had many a carrot baton in the time I lived in Ireland. Never once did I have corned beef and cabbage. Also, mommy and daddy may or may not enjoy a glass of Carolans. You know, maybe.

If you'd like to learn more about this great saint and why we have a feast day to celebrate his witness of Christ visit Catholic Culture's page on St. Patrick.

March 4, 2014

What are you reading this Lent?

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and I'll go ahead and confess that I have spent the last week, eating all the chocolate. Yeah.

I don't generally make big Lenten goals or plans. I really do try to keep it simple, and this year is no exception. I plan on re-reading two books that I first read many years ago; both are by one of my favorite Catholic authors, Frank Sheed.

Theology for Beginners

A Map of Life

I don't currently have the words to express how much I love Sheed's writing. I'm looking forward to getting back to the basics, in a beautiful and meaningful way.

I also have a copy of this year's Magnificat Lenten companion:

I like to read this first thing in the morning and meditate on the reading throughout the day. The meditations are short and while it is something I can do quickly, it helps to put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day. The paper edition is sold out, but you can buy an electronic version too. And the Kindle version is only $0.99.

Before I go, here is a great post by Leila with her suggestions for Lent.

That's all I have the energy for tonight. It is bedtime and we have a full day tomorrow. Do you have any reading plans for this Lenten season?

February 26, 2014

because it's never too late...

to say I love you. A little cheesy, I know. But yikes, February has seemingly come and gone and I haven't been around much. I tried writing this post early last week and was interrupted oh, about a gajillion times, and so just abandoned the effort altogether. But I was almost done and so I will give it another go.

Such a simple post too, just sharing a few cards I made for the Simple Stories blog a couple of weeks ago. A handful of us were asked to work with products from Petaloo and I decided to make a set of very easy cards. I wanted to keep these designs simple, first of all, to save time. Secondly, because the flowers from Petaloo are quite realistic and they have a little more dimension than products that I typically use. I didn't want the cards to be so visually overwhelming (at least, that was the goal!)

We were asked to work with the Homespun Collection and it really was the perfect match for the Petaloo flowers. I think only other paper lovers will understand, but that polka dot paper with the navy on teal, I sort of love it.

The smaller pockets from the new DIY Collection are the perfect size for holding gift cards. I removed the centers of the flowers below with wire cutters and used brads in their place. These truly only take a few minutes to put together.

Finally, a simple layered tag.

I admitted to still loving butterflies not too long ago. I also really like using stems of leaves as a layer for cards. I have a few favorites from the Silhouette shop and am always looking for new ones.

I know, it's not much of a post, but that's all I've got for now. Must go make breakfast and get a start on our day.


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