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. 


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