Sunday, August 12, 2018

Stash-Busting Challenge Update

Hey there! Apologies for the delay on announcing the winner of this summer's stash-busting challenge. When school begins each August, my keyboard at home gathers dust, while the one at school gets all of the attention. 

As promised, now that the challenge has come to a close, I've picked a winner for a giveaway (presumably to help undo all of the work this person did to make a dent in her stash during the course of the challenge). 

Congratulations to Sara Andrews! She completed all three layouts, plus two more for kicks! She had to stop because she ran out of paper in the kit that she had assembled.  Way to go all in, Sara!  

As for me, I still have some paper left, but I did make a pretty substantial dent in my kit.  Here's the last of my layouts: 

Thank you to everyone who played along! If you want to see some of the highlights, check out #stashbustingchallenge2018 on Instagram. 

Until next year! 

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Stash-Busting Challenge Ends Tomorrow!

After two months, this summer's stash-busting challenge is nearly at a close.  It went by so quickly -- too quickly! I'm scrambling to finish my third project. In the meantime, here's the second layout that I created with the kit that I assembled: 
While I bodily survived the false nuclear attack, the fallout is still real, and takes the form of overwhelming anxiety at times -- especially when the sirens are tested each month -- and when I watch interviews from those affected that day.  A few weeks ago, I saw a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the event and was fine for the first few moments, and then ended up crying and shaking through the rest. 

This layout shares my thoughts documented the day after the false alarm as well as my thoughts, months after the scare. The journaling is too extensive to fit on a single page, so I am tucking it into envelopes -- one from "that day" and the other from "today." 

I'm just relieved to finally have been able to get this down, even though I'm still not quite at peace. 

ANYWAY...the challenge ends tomorrow.  Be sure to direct me to your projects if I haven't yet seen them!  I am loving what I have seen so far. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Lately, I have been

...reading and reading and reading and it's been wonderful. Most recently, I finished this page-turner:
I've walked past it for years on bookstore shelves, but only recently took a second look and decided to give it a try.  Why did I wait so long? It was terrific! The good thing about the delayed discovery is that while I was biding my time, Bardugo was writing even more books. While I wait for the next two books to arrive (I couldn't find them locally for some reason), I am now reading the sequel to one of my favorite books, The Waking Land, by Callie Bates: 
Bates can write. I'm about a quarter of the way through with the book, and with each page that I turn, I'm increasingly anxious about reaching the moment when I run out of pages. 

...shifting from one extreme (an achromatic layout using the June Hip Kit Club main kit)
to another (all of the colors of the rainbow here!). 

...looking forward to using the new Pinkfresh Studio watercolors, three of which can be found in the July Hip Kit Club color kit
They are on my desk at the moment, calling to me to come play. The color is released through eye-droppers, and the paint can be further diluted or left in its intensely pigmented state. 

...crushing on Manish Dayal in The Hundred-Foot Journey. Given my love of food-related fiction and film, it's crazy that it took me several years to get around to watching this movie, but I'm glad I finally did. Seriously. Queer Eye's Bobby has inspired me to declutter big time, and it's been tedious and liberating. Today I filled about 1/5 of the donation pickup van with bags from my decluttering adventures, and there's even more to donate next time around. I'm learning to let go of items that I am keeping for "someday" or because "you never know when this will come in handy." Holding on to too much has been weighing me down and limiting my ability to move within the space that I inhabit. It's a freeing thing, to be able to say, "This goes," and then to send it on its way.  It's also made me think twice about what I welcome into the house in the future.

...listening to Manchester Orchestra's "A Black Mile to the Surface." It's one of the those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish and not feel the urge to skip songs. 

...lagging behind with the ICAD challenge. Of course. It always happens. This year I was committed, though! I did so well until a slew of appointments occurred and then the whole cleaning frenzy began. Stress and exhaustion are full-on creativity blockers. These are the last three cards I made before sputtering out: 
Maybe next year will be my year. Ha! Just watch, I'll be all, "I'm going to DO THIS, really, this time! This is my YEAR!" And one summer, I really will get around to finishing two months' worth of cards. This summer, however, belonged to the dust bunnies and the MRI and ultrasound and mammogram machines and the AP workshop and the vet (and vet bills) and the ophthalmologist and the invasive vines in the yard and the paint rollers and the really good books I encountered. I still love you, ICAD -- it's not you, it's me. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Doors and Windows

There are a lot of variations on the adage, "When a door closes, a window opens," each a reminder to keep holding on to hope, an act that requires a shift in perspective. 

I tend to fixate on closing doors and stare them down long after they have been slammed and sealed. Sometimes I don't notice the open window, and when I do, I shrug it off -- it's a window, not a door. What am I supposed to do with a freaking window? I want my door back. 

This is what I am experiencing at the moment when I think about the state of the scrapbooking industry, where once, it felt as if multiple doors were flung wide open and there were near-360-degree views. Light came in from all angles. Then the doors started closing, one by one, and the windows started disappearing, and now, there is still, at least, one window -- there will always be at least one window, I hope -- but more and more, it resembles a tiny aperture in a stuffy cell where the only door  in or out has been sealed and rusts on its hinges. 

Okay, maybe that was a little dramatic. I'm in a mood. :) 

Over the past few years, so many of my favorite companies and kit clubs have stopped producing collections, have disbanded their design teams, and shut down their websites and blogs, which has impacts for diversity, creativity, and opportunity. When Two Peas in a Bucket closed, my heart hurt and I feared for what this meant for the scrapbooking world at large, but I set my sights on the nearest open window. 

Today, the few companies that remain often produce collections that are difficult to differentiate from each other, and when there is fresh and new product, the time between releases is far too lengthy.  I suppose it all comes down to supply and demand. I haven't stopped demanding, but I guess others have.  

From a business angle, there seems to be a push away from traditional scrapbooking layouts and product and toward traveler's notebooks and pocket-page approaches, which I never saw as problematic (the more expressions, the merrier, right?) until Studio Calico decided to release its last scrapbooking kit last month, which floored me. Now, this week, I learned that Get It Scrapped is ending its membership this coming January, so I will be saying goodbye to one more team, one more source of inspiration. 

Still, let me focus on the window for a moment -- even though the filtered light coming through it is heavy with dust motes, I know that the true source of the light need not be from outside the room. It may sound trite, but the light can come from me. The open window could be in me. This is something that Get It Scrapped taught me, actually, with its emphasis on process, not products. It did not market "stuff," but rather, existed to teach design and to encourage mindfulness as a key component of one's creative process. Every layout that I have completed for the team was never focused on using Product A from Company X. Instead, these pages challenged me to be more attentive of the hows and whys of page design.  

Take my most recent layout, for instance: 
This layout is part of a Get It Scrapped blog feature on using the lines in photos to strengthen page design.  Because this was the emphasis, I was given complete freedom to use the "stuff" in my stash, no matter how old or new, without having to overtly market it.  As such, I could approach it from a creative perspective instead of from a consumer's perspective, if that makes sense. 

And now that I think of it, THAT is the opening window that I need to see. Creativity and not consumerism needs to be the focus. A reduction in the latter need not compromise the former.  A scarcity of new product does not need to be the end of expression.  If the only thing driving the creative spirit at the heart of the memory-keeping world is "new stuff," that's a problem.  I've been guilty of connecting my love of crafting with a love of new product, and I need to rethink that relationship. The industry is not the hobby. 

I'm not saying that "new stuff" isn't great to have; I'm just saying that a scarcity of it shouldn't lead to the end of a hobby that I love even more than the product associated with it. This is a great moment for diversification and adaptation. Maybe the fact that mainstream products are limited could mean that smaller companies or even individuals  with creative visions might have a chance to implement fresh and new ideas; maybe independent designers might now have a chance to find their niche instead of being eclipsed by mainstream manufacturers.  Kit clubs that once relied on mainstream manufacturers can now seek out independent artists and form productive relationships that benefit multiple parties. 

Maybe I have it all wrong, and maybe I am just in Jerry Maguire manifesto-mode, but I'm hoping that perhaps doors are overrated, perhaps doors are really just a state of mind, and that even as the walls seem to be closing in, all we have to do is punch through them in order to create the windows that will change our views entirely. 


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Stash-Busting Challenge 2018: Layout #1

Not only am I finally using my stash-busting challenge kit, but I am also playing catch-up on my month-in-review layouts.  Usually I'm not one to think about scrapbooking in terms of being "behind" or "caught up," but I do try to keep the gap between experiencing the month and documenting the month rather small. 

It was tough to actually work in the blueprint paper here, as I was planning on hoarding it for eternity,  and though I did cringe while running the paper cutter blade down the paper, I am glad to see that bold blue here. Much of this page is an exercise in de-hoarding, now that I think of it, with very little new product represented. There's even some Love, Elsie and KI Memories goodness to contribute to the happy and colorful vibe of the page. 

If you've been playing along with the challenge (or want to start) and are posting on Instagram, don't forget to tag @jill.scrap and use the hashtag #stashbustingchallenge2018 when posting your images. If Instagram isn't your thing, you can also post your images and tag me via the Get It Scrapped Community on Facebook, or you can post on your blog and share a link to the post in the comments below.  You don't have to post everything all at once -- individual posts are totally fine! 

Thanks for visiting today!

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Simple Summer

Maybe the title of this layout is something of a misnomer.
Maybe a truly simple summer would simply involve me sleeping in every day and, within an hour of waking, taking a series of naps like my dog does.

Let me clarify, then: when I use the term "simple" on this page, I mean it in comparison to my non-summer routine.

So far, this summer really has been wonderful, and I have been making the most of it. There have been some stressful moments, however. For instance, my hallway-painting adventure has left paint in tough-to-remove places on my body (there is a serious learning curve when it comes to all things paint, by the way), but overall, I have been loving every day and feeling grateful for this time.

This layout feels like summer to me -- the blue-sky painted background, the flowery brights, the bits of paper sunshine. Every one of the embellishments on this page (and the letter stickers) comes from the June Hip Kit Club Project Life kit. A pocket-page scrapper I am not, but I still like PL kits and use them for non-PL projects all the time.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Two Fathers

To scroll through social media feeds on Father's Day is to encounter post after post celebrating fathers. These posts profess love, gratitude, and admiration for the men who love unconditionally, who offer support and encouragement, and who model the values that shape their children in innumerable and positive ways. 

 My household is blessed with a father like that. 
From the moment he learned that he would be a father, Rob has been there, and even as our daughter begins to venture into the wider world, he is still there for her. I often look at their relationship in wonderment. Do they know just how lucky they are?

They have a comedic banter that is uniquely theirs. Their group texts make me shake my head. 

They have been pulling practical jokes on each other since Z was in preschool (and likely even before that). Whenever they run errands together, they blast the Decemberists and Silversun Pickups. They share a mutual zeal for video games and trash-talk each other incessantly while playing. 

Granted, their relationship isn't always the stuff of idyllic greeting cards -- it's more of the Shoebox Greetings variety, grounded in directness and laughter. Rob may not always agree with Z, nor she with him, but they always find a way to understand each other, in time.  

Not everyone has a father/child relationship like that. Not everyone wakes up on Father's Day and posts laudatory messages about the man who was and is there throughout it all.

Even though my father lives about 25 minutes away, he is, for the most part, a stranger to me. Here is a comprehensive list of how many times we have seen each other in person over the past twenty years: once when I gave birth to my daughter, two decades ago; once in a dentist's office two decades after her birth, when I walked into the waiting room after an appointment only to learn that for the past 30 minutes, he and my daughter had been sitting across each other, completely oblivious to the other's identity; and most recently, at two funerals. 

My parents split when I was in high school, after years of my father cheating on my mom and finally getting exposed (by yours truly). My mom really was clueless about the infidelity, despite what some very unhelpful people liked to suggest during the divorce: "How could you not have known?" or "Underneath it all, you had to have known." She really didn't know. Even I was shocked when I found out. He really was that good of an actor, the Leave It to Beaver husband and father. 

All of the Judy Blume and Paula Danziger books I read as a kid assured me that even after a divorce, dads still love their kids and will try to maintain relationships with them. Parents get divorced, not children, right? Not so in all cases, I guess. 

It took me some time to realize that it was possible that my father didn't ever really love us, that he was just playing a role in accordance with social conventions. It was a revelation to me: he did not and does not love me, not really. Maybe he does in his own way, I have told myself when I have felt the need to explain his absence from my life. 

Which brings up something even more difficult to think about: do I love him

It's a terrible question. 

I don't know how to answer it. 

Here's where my mind goes when I let myself think about how I feel about him and push past the anger to get to the heart of my feelings: I want to love him. I believe I should. I don't know how. I don't know if it would matter to him. Of course it is what Jesus would do. And the Judy Blume kids. 

I can't find peace in that thought process, so I often focus on this instead: maybe instead of loving him, I should work on forgiving him and dealing with what remains of him in my life -- baggage.  

Instead of leaving a legacy of love, he left one of mistrust and doubt, which has affected my relationships. Sometimes the effect has been positive -- I really work at relationships that matter to me. Sometimes the effect has been negative -- I worry that my relationships have an expiration date, that the love that I think is real is just a ruse and that I will not realize this until the person leaves my life, which feels inevitable, because someone who I thought loved me once, someone whose job it was to love me, no matter what, left. 

He is not a total absentee in that respect, but also in another: today, I have a Facebook father, who sends me simple messages on major holidays -- Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, and the like. It is something. Not everyone gets to have Social Media Dad. 

A few months ago, we thought Hawai'i was under nuclear attack and then learned that it was a false alarm.  Not long after that false alarm was declared, a message appeared from my father, one of the longest that he had sent.  He talked about his neighbors panicking, about people experiencing anxiety, and though he did not share what he was feeling, he told me to "have a good day!!!" 

When we thought it might all be over for us, at least one of his thoughts turned to me, and I am holding on to that. 

Maybe we will never be able to rebuild, but we can acknowledge each other, and that is something: you are my daughter, you are my dad. I don't think either of us knows what that means. I don't think we will ever know. 

So I woke up today, grabbed my phone from the nightstand, and sent him a Father's Day message. Maybe that reveals the answer to that difficult question: yes, still, even now, yes, inexplicably, bewilderingly, ultimately, yes, in my own way, the only way I know.