7.13.2016

Start with the Story: She's just a Child!

For me, scrapbooking is all about the story! My favorite pages tell a story. 

Might be a big story.
Might be a small story.
Might be an account of an event.
Might be just a thought that is important to no one but me.
But a story is a must.

I am a fan of the show, Top Chef. I always really enjoy the episodes that allow the chef contestants to show who they are as a chef without a bunch of crazy twists or requirements. Just let them cook! I like it when they say "this is me on a plate."

In that line of thinking, this layout is "me on a page"! It's clean, it tells a story, it has a title and a photo and is mostly cardstock. 

 

Start with the story!
--Sarah

7.03.2016

One Little Tip--Cataloging Ideas

Sometimes it's the smallest adjustments that can lead to big changes in our lives, right?

After the most recent episode of the Scrap Gals brought me to realize that my photos are all over the house and in total disasterous array, I began looking for a small way to improve the situation "one bite at a time" because this is a huge problem and I am completely overwhelmed by it! Already. 

I am a huge very loudly vocal proponent of printing pictures! It's something I feel strongly about. Print your photos!! I preach about this regularly to anyone who will listen. 

I get photos printed regularly...and consequently, there are stacks of photos always hanging around my workspace, my office, drawers, closets...you get the picture! 

So it's nice to talk about organizing photos and all but to think about actually tackling the task all at once sent me into fits of anxiety. That's scary.

It did occur to me that perhaps I could start by organizing just one kind of photos--kind of embrace the "eat the elephant one bite at a time" concept. Baby steps.

So here's what I learned.

For as long as I can remember, I have been trying to accomplish being an organized idea keeper. Let's face facts: one of the major aspects of being a papercrafter  is the (endless) collecting of ideas for potential future projects. 

There is never a shortage of ideas...and over the years, I have tried several methods for keeping them organized, with only moderate amounts of success. Most recently, I have come upon a way that allows me to create a catalog of ideas and inspiration from a variety of sources and keep it fresh and easily accessible. Another factor that leads me to happiness with this method is cost: it's very inexpensive! 

While browsing Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or Google for inspirational images, I have learned that the quickest way to capture whatever images inspire me is to do a screen capture. On the iPhone, (my primary internet tool) if you press the home button and the button on the side at the same time, whatever is on the screen at that moment gets captured and saved as a photo. It's a very handy tool and once you start using it, it will quickly become second-nature.

Screen captures can be printed as photos. Every time I upload regular photos to my local print service, I also upload 20 or 30 of my favorite screen captures of ideas. For 9 cents each, I can get a 4x6 print of an idea that I really like and want to use. (That's less than the cost of a magazine.) 

Next, when I have amassed a stack of printed images, I arrange them into categories or themes and give them a home in a traditional photo album. 

Today, I happened to realize it was time to make a new idea catalog (the pictures were piling up) so I stopped at Michaels with a nice coupon and picked up this cute photo album.

I probably should have looked in the closet for an empty album before going out but this one was cheerful and cute and ya know...I had a coupon! 

 

This particular catalog focuses on card designs. I grouped the images together in a way that probably only makes sense in my head...but isn't that the point? 

I think my next catalog of ideas will be Christmas themed. I kept those separate. 

Here a quick little video flip-through of my idea catalog.

















There are a few open spaces left--room to improve the collection is always a good thing. Now I can go and delete the screen captures off my phone and free up some space!

 

How do you preserve ideas and inspiration?
Tell me!

--Sarah 

5.24.2016

Twenty Five Photos on a Single Page


So putting 25 little pictures on a single page layout is no small feat. For anyone. However, for a girl who's specialty is single photo layouts...well let just say this is a miracle!

For years, I have been tirelessly searching for a photo print service that could meet my long list of meticulous expectations and I have been let down so many times. Finally, quite by accident, a few weeks ago I came upon an app called Social Print Studio, available in the App Store.The planets must have been aligned because the prints that arrived on my doorstep a few days later are beyond description! The quality of the paper used to print these photos is over the top sturdy--not that flimsy stuff more often used by on-line printers. The app is so very easy to navigate. The matte finish is the softest and smoothest of any printer I have ever used. Oh my. If you love matte finish photos, you must try this.

The strip photos on this layout are one of the specialty formats offered by this San Francisco-based service. What's not to love. You get *9* strips for $10. Each strip is 1.75"x7". 

I've been focused on stamping lately and it was just too easy to coordinate this stamp from the Stampin' Up! Amazing Birthday along with Watercolor Wash to create the title/journaling block. 


 The journaling is done on Project Life cards from the Becky Higgins Project Life Southern Weddings Core Kit. I have a thing for the soft cozy color palette of this kit but have no use for the wedding theme...so I chopped them up and used them anyway. 

Twenty-five pictures. 
No small accomplishment.
And some stamping too!

It's a good day to be a scrapbooker. ;)


5.17.2016

Using the Alphabet Punch Board

Recently, I picked up an Alphabet Punch Board by We R Memory Keepers after watching a presentation of it in HSN. I don't shop at HSN but I was intrigued by the board so I picked it up at Michaels, using a coupon. (The posted price was $34.99, with a coupon it was $20.)

The premise of the punch board is that you can create every letter of the alphabet using the punches and cutter on this one board in a large size. Every letter starts from a rectangle of paper cut to 3"x5"...which means you can cut 8 letters from one sheet of 12x12 paper. Score points for efficiency.

The board comes with an instruction booklet that shows in pictures step-by-step how to correctly punch each letter. Score points for easy-to-understand directions.

My first project with the alphabet punch board was a banner for a baby shower. The size of the letters was perfect for the chalkboard banner pieces that I picked up from Target's Dollar Spot a while back. There were eight letters to cut and I decided ahead of time that if I couldn't master this punch board and accomplish 8 letters in less than thirty minutes, the board and I would be breaking up. 

 

Cutting all 8 letter took less than ten minutes total. Score points for not taking "too long" and being easy to master.

I found the slicing tool a little difficult to get the hang of. It's fumbly...after about three tries, I just started using scissors for those steps. I'm handy with scissors.

I asked the peas what they thought of this tool and their predominant thought was that it wasn't really designed for scrapbooking as the letters produced are really really large. 

The letters are indeed large but I don't think that precludes the alphabet board from being a scrapbooking tool. 

The peas also noted that with so many scrapbookers now having a variety of electronic cutters, the need for a product that cuts one font in one size seems like a throwback. I can agree with that...but for the price and convenience, and as someone who has yet to dive into the e-cutter world, I can still see it as useful.

So I Took it out for a spin and here's what I came up with:

 

 

Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate many layouts using the alphabet punch board on social media. I'll keep looking. There is one video by Shimelle aka GlitterGirl that shows her use of the board for a page. 


So now you know. 

Sidebar: in the second page, you can see the small Project Life card used as an embellishment. Copier. I made a color photocopy of a PL card and reduced it to 65%. Printing on textured Bazzill just makes my day. :)

--Sarah 

5.15.2016

Six Things about Right Now

Right now, today...
I am all about Six Awesome Things.

1. Lego Soap
Ok so, truthfully, Lego Soap isn't really a thing unless you visit a Hilton Garden Inn. I live with four men who range in age from 6 to 44. They all have a deeply-held life-long affinity for all things Lego. My nephew is the six year old. After a weekend away that included a stay at a Hilton Garden Inn, I brought home this mini soap and put it on the sink in my bathroom. A day or two later, I told G to go wash his hands and he said "Aunt Sarah, can I use your bathroom with the Lego soap?"

It took me a minute to understand that this--to him--looks like Lego soap.
 
I sincerely think Lego should get right on this new product line idea. Mothers of Lego lovers everywhere will one day thank me.

Until then, I'm booking regular stays at the Hilton Garden Inn to keep us well-stocked in would-be Lego soap.

2. Painted frames
I've been painting frames for a really long time and I must say...I love them. There are so many ways to use painted frames and new life can so easily be brought to a junky old frame with a simple coat of paint. 

I love this photo stolen from Pinterest. 

 

3. Joann Crafts
So there's a somewhat pitiful little Joann store very near my house. I venture over the occasionally and sometimes they have things worth noting for an avid crafter. I've shopped in the super Joann stores...and I miss that terribly (the nearest one is in Dallas). The one here is shines and new, just the smaller version of the flag stores. It's hard to go back to crackers once you've tasted the whole enchilada...but I digress.

My recent discoveries at Joann were twofold.
First, this greeted me at the door.

 

Yes, that's a rather nice assortment of fabric swatch books being clearances out for $5 each. Oh snap. How much fun am I going to have with a fabric swatch book! 

Secondly, is a magazine called "The Simple Things". It's published in London and I found it in the Joann Crafts in Dallas. I don't usually purchase magazines but I couldn't resist this one.





















4. The West Wing Weekly Podcast!
I'm very late to the podcast party but I am catching up fast. Most recently, I am really enjoying The West Wing Weekly podcast. If you loved The West Wing, (and I do) you will love Joshua  Molina's weekly trips down the walk-and-talk corridors of the Bartlet administration. It's like having coffee with a dear old friend and realizing you still share the same loves after all these years.

5. Sangria Jelly from Annie Moo Moo's
At our local weekend farmers market last year, I happened upon Annie Moo Moo's, purveyor of delightful jams and jellies made right here in East Texas. Topping my list of fine indulgences is the Sangria jelly. Just go right on ahead and dump out the whole box of crackers on a plate because the Sangria Jelly on a lightly salted butter cracker will make your day...and if you don't have any crackers, just use a spoon. That's what I do. :)

6. Social Print Studio App and Photo Print Service
I accidentally ran across an app in the App store called Social Print Studio. If you love a high-quality photo printed on a soft matte paper in unique sizes and styles, this somewhat small San Francisco-based printer is just the right fit for you. And me. The app is so very user-friendly, uses the best packaging practices I have ever encountered and the quality of the prints is off the charts. I've been deeply dissatisfied with photo printing for many years...this is a game-changer.

So now you know...six things.

--Sarah


Water coloring in Cabo

 So one of the things I have always wanted to do finally got accomplished on the trip to Cabo back in March.

For years, I have entertained this romantic notion that painting on the beach using water collected from the ocean would make for a more enchanting rich painting. It just seems like such a "live right here in this moment" kind of activity...I have no idea why I put it off for so long. 

I packed a very small box of watercolor paints, some brushes and a pad of paper and took them along on this journey. 

Just be quiet and reverent.
Right there.
On the beach.
Put water to paper.
Add paint and watch it work.

So as it turns out, the water in the Sea of Cortez doesn't make me a better painter but it does lend itself quite nicely to water coloring in general. I sat right here and painted for a couple of hours and it was just as divine as I imagined it would be.

 

 Joal snagged cups of ocean water for me as needed and I sloshed paint about happily. It made for a quiet and restful, restorative day on the beach.

Ironically enough, I was so busy painting, I totally neglected to take a picture. 

I was totally caught up.
Which was kind of the point...but I do wish I had photos of it all.

Later in the evening, we went back to our room and I sat on the balcony (fifth floor) and painted up the last of the paper with the last of the ocean water. Next time I won't bother packing all the paints--just the blues and greens and I will take a ton more paper. I could have painted every day. 

 

 

 
 

 

There is no real capturing of the true beauty of the ocean and the beach. You never do it justice. Only catch a momentary glimpse.

It's ever changing.
And enchanting above all else.
It's life.

5.02.2016

I Like the Sound of That



While Rascal Flats doesn't strike a chord with me very often, I do like this song--I thinks it's well-written and I like its little twists and turns. I mean how often does Justin Timberlake get a mention in a country song, right?

The premise of the song makes me smile so, of course, I made my own list of sounds associated with my love and turned it into a scrapbook page.  And it was a good spot to use this photo that I really like (in theory) despite its less-than-lovely composition. It was taken while we were in Cabo. Joal was leading a Sunday morning worship hour for our traveling companions and I was a really lazy photographer that day. 

 

One design note...this is a totally random occurrence but interesting, nonetheless. Three of the cards that I used to surround the photo came from the Project Life Honey Edition Core Kit designed by Lori Whitlock. And in a totally random twist, the wood grain arrow paper on the right border, which I think is reminiscent of the guitar, is a sheet from the All About a Boy line by Echo Park, also designed by Lori Whitlock!! 

She's a pretty busy scrapbook gal... Lori Whitlock! 

 

Happy Scrapping!
--Sarah 

4.29.2016

Pretty not Perfect

I don't do perfect.

I rarely use the word "perfect".
I don't strive for perfection and in most things, I don't really believe perfection is possible, so long as members of a broken humanity are involved and heaven remains at bay. In fact, I'm drawn to imperfection and things that are on the verge of being discarded.

I'm a rescuer of things that, unless you choose to look closely, their value and beauty isn't obvious at first glance.

It's easy to like perfection...doesn't take much depth to embrace something that's perfect. Doesn't take much grace to accept something that doesn't challenge you. 

I love pretty things but my definition of "pretty" doesn't really include perfection. In fact, my definition of pretty is anti-perfection. 

Let's talk home decor, for example.
I like easy.
I don't like fussiness. 

This makes my heart skip a beat.

 

 

Chippy...rusty...dented...dinged...
old...loved but discarded...crumpled...
crusty...distressed...imperfect.
These are my things.
I crave things that have had life before me and will probably go on after me.

I love antique malls and junk stores, especially those in sleepy little towns with a town square and a cafe that's not a franchise...where they serve sweet tea in Mason jars and biscuits made in cast iron skillets.
.
I enjoy the fine art of thrifting and going to estate auctions with my brother. Old stuff, out on display. Old frames, old glasses, old books, vintage cameras, Bibles that are tattered and well-read.

I love a house with years on her bones and 6 layers of paint on her walls. If she has a deck made of wood that's gray from the weather, all the better.

I love old songs, old hymns and old music.
I like the smell of old maps and faded books with deckle edge pages.
I treasure old letters and lists, notes and pictures of old people and greeting cards from decades we haven't seen in a long time.

I'm a girl with scars and I don't hide them.
Scars are proof of life.
There are scars on my body and scars on my heart.

I love a man with some gray in his beard and some years in his hands.

Yep, I don't do perfection.
I do pretty.
Keep your Pottery Barn and your Anthropologie.
Give me salt-water washed wood and faded, yellowed, authentic things.
Any day or the week.

--Sarah






4.27.2016

My new workspace

In the past two years, I have moved my scrap space 7 times between two different houses. When we remodeled the Nashville house, I completely packed up my scrapbook space in the bonus room and moved it to a bedroom. A month or so after the renovation was complete, we suddenly decided to put the house on the market, so my scrap space got packed up and sent to storage (some call it decluttering)...except for a few small totes of crafty things that I used to stage the newly renovated craft room downstairs.

I think the fantastic craft room staging contributed to the sale of our home **in three days**. I'm jus sayin'.

In the new house in Texas, I started in a large walk-in pantry, moved to a small bedroom, moved to a different bedroom, and now I have finally come to create in the sunroom.

Empty, the sunroom looks like this: 

 

 

It's a long skinny space that is at the back of the house. It's off our dining room and kitchen (the French doors connect the sunroom to the dining room) and it overlooks the back deck.

I love the Windows!!

So my husband took a few days this week to work from home and he so generously provided the needed muscle to get this space transformed into my new (and hopefully final) scrap and stamp workspace.

I love the light from the Windows!

 

I'm taking up a little more than half the sunroom and using the small bookcase as a divider. In the unused part of the room is the treadmill (folded up) and the access to the deck.

 

The best part of this space plan is that I can work in this calming relaxed area while retaining the bulk of my supplies stored in the walk-in pantry. 

I really like a space that can be kept clean and organized easily and that won't make me feel like I should be embarrassed at the state of my crafty crazy, if/when others see it in use.

Mind you, I'm not denying that I do, in fact, have plenty of crafting crazy...just that its stored in a closet and not out in the open where everyone can inspect it. 

I have three rolling Raskogs for transporting certain tools from the closet to the work space easily and for quick clean up of the work space. Each Raskog is dedicated to a certain task--stamping and embossing, die cutting equipment and the last is the punch center.

My Stampin' Up stamps are stored in the corner on this rolling shelf. This stamp collection is arranged alphabetically and makes me very happy. 

 

When we have company or family dinners, I can easily roll the carts to the closet and slide the table out from the corner and have seating for four extra people! 

 

The view facing the opposite direction. 

 

And finally, the Gayla Pugh art that hangs in my window. 

 

I think I'm going to be happiest creating in this bright sunny space...I hope so because pretty much the only remaining space in this house that I haven't tried is the attic. :)

--Sarah

4.24.2016

No design team work for me

So I've been paper-crafting for twenty years.

Twenty years! Wow.

Seems like forever.


In that time, I've done many related tasks in addition to scrapbooking--just because I might be a little obsessed. I have:


*made scrapbooks for other people

*hosted scrapbook weekends for friends

*had my pages published in national magazines

*taught scrapbooking classes in local stores and conventions

*sold scrapbook supplies for a direct sales company

*created scrapbook pages for manufacturers to display in trade show booths

*created scrapbook pages for online displays for manufacturers of scrapbooking supplies

*displayed pages in on-line galleries for fun and for pay


I have worked on a couple of design teams--for the uninitiated, a design team in the paper crafting world is a group of maker's who make projects for a product manufacturer, using specific products and demonstrating how specific products can be used in paper-crafting. Sometimes, design team members are compensated with a paycheck and sometimes (especially back in the day) they work in exchange for product.


I learned a great deal while working on each of these design teams but after much thought, and reading some other blogs that have discussed design team intricacies in-depth, I have decided that the days of design teams are over for me.


Scrap Gal Tracie Claiborne wrote about design teams here.


Here are my reasons:


1. I'm done working for product. There was a time when product boxes arriving in the mail made my day. It felt like Christmas once a month! I had a lot of space and enjoyed creating with products that perhaps I wouldn't have selected  were I shopping in person for myself.


Those days are done. I've become super picky and my space is limited. As Dave Ramsey says, "cash is king".


I have worked for two teams that paid in cash.


In my experience, the teams that paid on a cash per project basis seemed more straight-forward and were more clear in their expectations and directions. Efficiency matters to me, as does communication. With one of my teams, I felt incredibly respected, was inspired by my fellow teammates and was treated well in terms of timely communication. Unfortunately, the other one--not so much.


2. I like to mix product lines and companies. I am not loyal to one company and I believe that generally the only people who are, do so because they have a financial incentive to do so.


I get a little jazzed when I accidentally discover a super collaboration between products manufactured by different companies. It makes me very happy when I see a design team member say "I just realized that our 123 product works super well with this product from XYZ company." But let me tell you, it's not a common occurrence. And that bugs me.


In my opinion, it shows a lack of actual real-world usefulness. That kind of single-minded devotion doesn't help the everyday scrapbook consumer see how product can work in her creations along-side the other product she probably already owns.


We've all seen those design team projects that are clearly design team projects. The flower company that sells seven dollar packages of flowers sends ten packs of flowers to their designer and she puts all ten packs all on one page, because she didn't have to shell out seventy dollars for all those flowers.


Normal scrapbookers don't spend seventy dollars one a scrapbook page very often    


I've said before--most design team work can be compared to shopping from only a single aisle at the grocery store. That just doesn't work for me.


3. Social media has changed everything! Individual scrapbookers (those not working for a manufacturer or company) now have direct and immediate access to a wide world of other scrapbookers just like themselves and having a blog, a following on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest makes one an instant member of a community that embraces all design styles and all levels of skill. I think the days when a manufacturer needs a stable of designers to create on their behalf are rapidly coming to a close.


Manufacturers need a social media specialist...not a designer. OK, maybe one designer.


4. It's not about the product. Finally, my beef with most of the design team work I see is that it's primarily product driven.  As much as I enjoy the shopping and treasure-hunting aspect of scrapbooking, in the end, the layouts I love the most were supported by the product, not started by them. 


5. I'm selfish with my scrappy time. I don't have a ton of it and I want to spend what time I do have for scrapbooking pursuits working on that which I choose--not what someone else has assigned to me.


Because I have said "no" to design teams, I am free to work at my own pace and take on projects for others that I deeply enjoy and yet never share with anyone else or on-line. 


6. Inevitably, at best, the relationship between the blogger/maker and design team is one of mutual use. You know this going in...the manufacturer is primarily looking for design team members who already have a dedicated social media following. They are looking to add your followers to their own. And as a designer, you are looking to add the manufacturer's users to your own following. Everyone is using everyone and she with the biggest following wins. 


I get that this is how it works. 

I just don't like it. 

I don't want attaining a large following to be the driver of my bus. 


Most of my favorite scrapbookers are also people who aren't seeking professional design careers. They are just ordinary scrapbooking enthusiasts like myself and I love to learn from them. Some are scrapbookers who have had the "diva dot" career as a scrapbooking expert and gave it all up in order to get back to creating from a more genuine place.


I liken design team creating to the genre of another creative industry--fashion design. Some designers create fashion for the rack that has wide appeal and will sell to the mass market in many sizes and colors. Conversely, some designers do avant garde pieces that are an exercise in creativity for creativity's sake. They are experimental. No one besides a model can even get into these pieces nor would they ever want to because while they are interesting to look at, they are difficult to wear, to function in and cost a fortune. 


So now you know. 

4.23.2016

Where the Wild Things Are

So as my scrapbooking style continues to be fleshed out, (it's a lifelong process) I can tell you that I love a page with a really good title and if that title is a phrase that already exists in my cultural lexicon, I'll just love it even more.

Such is the case with this layout called "Where the Wild Things Are". 

"Where the Wild Things Are" is, of course, the title of a world famous book by Maurice Sendek. I love this book...so when I wrote this bit of journaling, I started with the title and applied it to my love of antique hunting.

The title is hand stamped using Stampin' Up! Layered Letters Alphabet. This alphabet has to be the easiest to cut out of any alphabet stamps ever. Since the letters are kinda sloppy, the cutting doesn't require much precision. I love that!



Happy scrapbooking!
--sarah

4.13.2016

Flowers are a copout and other observations about scrapbooking

I'm as guilty as the next scrapbook or of placing a pretty picture on a pretty paper, surrounding it with flowers and calling it good. It's easy. It's pretty. It's pleasant to look at briefly but what does it say?

Are flowers a cop out?

For me, pretty flowers have become the lazy girl's answer to page embellishment. It's true I can do flowers to paper in my sleep.  And a quick browse through my favorite on-line galleries of scrapbooking layouts and creations show me that I am so totally not alone. 

When I haven't fleshed out enough story or when I haven't given enough thought to my design, flowers are the easy answer.

About ten years ago, I attended a class with a very popular scrapbook instructor--at that time we would've referred to her as a *scrapbooking celebrity*. Oh how that term turns me off now, but I digress. Her class was well publicized and many people attended along with me. And we paid a pretty penny for the privileged too. It was a good class. There was what I considered to be a nice amount of inspirational content and it was well-balanced with unique techniques that made me feel like I was learning something new as opposed to those classes that are just about copying the designer's project.

By and large, I was quite satisfied with the class, which is kindof unusual--I can be a little picky about classes.

However, there was one little thing that kinda struck me as annoying and less than professional. After completing one of the main class projects, one of the class attendees dropped a rather large stamp on top of her page and it landed inked-side-down, of course, right smack on top of the pretty part of the layout. She was understandably crushed. She gasped rather loudly when it happened and this caught the attention of the class instructor. The class instructor came over to assess the damage. When she saw the extent of it, she declared with a laugh "oh just stick a flower over it and no one will ever know. That's what scrapbooker's do--stick a flower on it."

The class attendee was quite obviously NOT going to be satisfied with the "stick a flower on it" advice and I admit, it didn't sit right with me either. A flower would change the entire composition of the page and this attendee had worked diligently to create the page just as the instructor had demonstrated--without deviation. Her disappointment was obvious.

Years later, I remember this incident vividly and those words ring in my ears. Is that really all we do? Just stick flowers on things and make them pretty?

I want to say "no".
But I'm not sure it's true.  

A pretty paper covered in flowers to me is the scrapbooking equivalent of getting all dressed up and having no place to go and no one to go with. 

I want more substance.
I crave a better mix of the story and less of "just pretty".

Substance.
Depth.
Story.

Pretty is just way down the list..