Friday, September 30, 2011

Forward Thinking

Today I received some happy mail: 
Each year I order a letterpress calendar from Ilee's Etsy shop, and this year's calendar is, as always, a paper lover's dream.  At the end of the year, the pages convert beautifully to a mini-album -- gotta love that!

Speaking of mini-albums, tomorrow I will officially begin the October daily mini-album project.  A few weeks ago, a thread on the JBS Mercantile message board caught my eye.  Doris Sander mentioned the possibility of starting a daily album, to be compiled throughout the month of October, since there are so many events going on through the course of the month.   Brilliant, I thought.  I'm so in.  I love October.

Although some people have already assembled their albums, I'm going to take it day by day at first, working on individual pages as I go.  I'll be using the October JBS project kit, which includes an uber-cute Studio Calico woodgrain mini-album, along with a few more papers from the October kits.
We'll see where it takes me!  I'll be sharing my progress in the upcoming issue of the JBS Gazette.

Tonight the JBS October kits were revealed, and I must say, I am quite smitten, and understandably so.  Just look.  

There's the main kit...

 and the Antiquarian kit (used in the layout I shared in my last post)...
and the Artisan kit...
This layout pulls together items from the main and artisan kits:
I'll have more to share in the mid-month gallery!  

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to starting that album tomorrow.  Care to join in?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trimming the Fat

My husband and I were talking today about how we can start living more frugally, and as we both examined our "guilty" lists, it did not take me very long to figure out what was at the top of mine:
My morning Starbucks.

I am an addict. I will admit it.  I am an addict who is so not interested in a 12-step kick-the-Starbucks-habit program, but I will make an attempt nonetheless.  After all, I'm spending about $100 a month there.  Crazy.

What's odd is that I don't crave it at all on weekends or vacations.  The addiction is built into my weekday routine.  I suppose that's a good thing to recognize, since it means that all I need to do to change my wayward behavior is to change my routine.

I also know that my Starbucks preference is related to time.  Since I commute pretty far to work in the morning, Starbucks is just convenient.   However,  it's too costly -- both money-wise and health-wise.  Not long ago, our household declared a soda moratorium.  In just the course of a month, my husband lost weight, and noticeably so.  As for me, I pretty much maintained my weight, because even though I had cut out soda, I was still getting my daily Starbucks fix.

It's time for a change.  We'll see how it goes...I've tried this before, when I gave it up for Lent last year.  It worked pretty well, but when the school year started in August, I fell off the wagon.  Big time.

As for the second item on the chopping block, I'm bidding farewell to my Studio Calico subscription. I've been a subscriber since January 2008.  It was a difficult choice to make, but I know it's for the best.  I'm sure that I just made someone on the SC waiting list very happy.

Being frugal kind of sucks.  Will I ever be the kind of person to go into raptures when she saves $0.40 thanks to a coupon?

It's humbling, though, to identify the excess in our lives, and to recognize when it is justified and when it is not.  Hopefully by reducing some of the overspending, and embracing the philosophy of the ant rather than the grasshopper, we will become wiser in the process.

Anyway, enough about saving.  One place I can splurge without reservation is on my layouts.  Now that is one addiction I don't have to worry about kicking.

Here's a sneak peek at the October Jenni Bowlin antiquarian kit:
Last night, while going through some old photos, I discovered this photo of my grandparents and the grandkids, circa 1978.  I love that it's not perfectly posed, and that our personalities are shining through.  The antiquarian kit is full of items that relate to numbers and finance, so I centered the page around the idea of indebtedness.  My grandparents invested so much in their grandchildren. They devoted themselves to us tirelessly.  Just as the photo demonstrates, we must have exhausted them, but they kept on smiling, kept on loving us, no matter what.  Because of them, I learned to love without limits.

Tomorrow, my daughter will celebrate Grandparents' Day at school with her grandmother.  I wonder how she will reflect someday on the role of her grandparents in her life.  I wish we could all be closer, the way that I was with my own grandparents when I was a kid.  I had an extended family rather than a nuclear family.  It was a true blessing.  We can be frugal with our resources, but there can never be too much love.  In spending time with our families, we save them.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Camera Shy

I don't know what's up with me lately.
I haven't been taking many photos,
and now that I'm in the mood to scrap,
the well has run dry.
Uh oh.  Bad bad.  I need to fix that, pronto.

I think the problem is that I haven't really surfaced lately,
and because I have been so preoccupied with so many other things,
I haven't noticed many "photo-worthy" moments.
Noticing, after all, takes time and patience,
a special kind of willingness to tilt one's head
and shift one's perspective,
but I've been too swept up in the busy-ness of life
to take the time to really see through the lens,
to focus, and wait for the click.

It doesn't help that my camera hasn't been cooperative with me.
For every two pictures I take lately, I get three or four error messages.
I thought it was the lens at first, but I get the error messages
even when I switch out the lens.  Argh.
I think it's time for a new camera.
If only... (hint, hint, Santa Claus).

Anyway, I will be taking my point-and-shoot with me
everywhere I go for the next few days,
in the hopes that I will remember just how great the view can be
from the other side of the lens.
Perspective.  That's what I need.

Since I am short on photos lately, I had to dig deep -- as in, 35 years back --
in order to create this layout:

(More details can be found at Two Peas in a Bucket)

Ha.  Yep, that's little me.
I love the "baby" feel to the layout.  I miss scrapping baby photos.
Maybe I should ask Santa for a baby instead.
A baby and a camera.  :)
Or just a really cute camera. Or a photogenic baby. Either way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Stencil Hop 2011: The Crafter's Workshop and Balzer Designs

Welcome to the blog hop for The Crafter's Workshop and Balzer Designs!  I am so incredibly flattered that one of my longtime crafty idols, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, has asked me to participate.

In cooperation with The Crafter's Workshop, Julie has designed some amazing stencils.  My first experience using one of them was in the JBS September Artisan kit, and, like the rest of the design team, I had so much fun with it!  The stencil is thick enough not to lift up when ink is sprayed or paint is rubbed over it, heavy enough not to allow colors to bleed, and what's more, even after it takes on multiple coats of color, it still washes cleanly quite easily.

Today's post features the new Henna Hands stencil.

I started off just playing around a bit...
 and then I played some more...
and I would have kept playing, but in the midst of my misty reverie, my dog Mazie flopped down by my legs, doing that not-so-subtle rolling-around-on-her-back move that let me know she wanted a belly rub. Perfect timing. As luck would have it, I suddenly had an idea for a layout:

Hands and belly rubs? What's one without the other?
In addition to using the hands on the layout, I also zoomed in on the patterns in the middle of each palm,   spraying a little mist here and there (alternating green and yellow) to bring out the pattern.  It's kind of an earthy background, just right for a layout about my filthy, dirty, belly-rub-loving, always-adorable pup.
This is just one of many ways to use this stencil.  For more ideas, check out the other stops on today's blog hop if you haven't already:

Ronda Palazzari
Tammy Tutterow
Danielle Flanders
Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

If you are just starting here, then head over to Julie's blog for some inspiration!  You are guaranteed to find it there.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning As I Go

I have this idea to videotape the project-making process -- kind of a time-lapse thing -- just so that I can better understand that mysterious methodology that takes us from nothing to something, from something to something more, and from something more to something wonderful.

It would be different from what you see in online tutorials and classes.  Those kinds of videos require foresight and careful planning.  What I'm longing for is "raw" footage.  The only agenda would be "do your thing."  It would be a simple undertaking, involving a camera focused on a desktop, recording over 30 or 60 or 120 minutes or whatever it takes for a project to materialize.  The final cut would feature a sped-up version of this process -- a pair of hands, a page coming together, a creative mind at work.  Maybe a cool soundtrack, too. :)

I've been turning the idea around in my head for a bit.  Maybe one day I'll actually try it.

I kind of wish I had flipped on the camera when I started these October Afternoon projects:

I put together this layout for the OA CHA booth, using the new Farmhouse collection (which, by the way,  you have a chance to win on the OA blog if you post a comment there before September 26).

Had the camera been rolling as I created this layout, it would have captured my hands cutting and tearing piece after piece of these gorgeous patterned papers, inking them and splattering mist on them, and moving them around this way and that in an attempt to create this collage background.  That would be pretty entertaining to watch in fast-forward, now that I think of it -- a flurry of paper and color.

Looking at the layout now, I can see the design logic -- the attempt to create visual triangles, and to achieve a sense of balance by following the tried-and-true "what you do to one side, do to the other" rule.
As beautiful as the papers and accents are, however, the heart of this page is its journaling.  Most of the other page elements relate to it in some way.  

This week's October Afternoon blog also features a Tuesday Tutorial post by yours truly.  I tried something new and I think it actually worked!  It's a pocket-page mini-album.

I just started folding paper and trimming it, and before I knew it, I had put together page after page and had this mini-album to show for it.  You can find the full tutorial here.

I'm not alone in embracing the idea of life-long scrapping/life-long learning.  Today, the September issue of the JBS Mercantile Gazette was released, and it is full of evidence that we on the design team are learning as we go, in a good way.  It's fascinating to me to read about others' processes and sources of inspiration.

Now, if I could just find a way to capture that process on camera...hmm....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turning a Page

Looking at this month's JBS gallery has got me thinking not just about what we as scrapbookers bring to the page, but also about what the page brings to us. 

Over the years, I have read and reread blog posts in which some of my favorite scrapbookers have said farewell to the craft in favor of other endeavors.  I have read more than enough of those message board posts in which people question whether they should just sell all of their supplies and walk away from the hobby.  Though each person who says goodbye to scrapbooking has a reason for doing so, I will confess that each time I read one of these farewell addresses, a part of me is forced to consider the question of whether all scrapbookers will fall out of love with the hobby eventually.  Is it inevitable?

And then...
I turn another page in the album,
and sit down to create the next page

and the next
and the next, and...
if you love scrapbooking as much as I do,
you know what follows.
You keep coming back,
you keep turning those pages,
because there is still so much left to say.
I don't know how people say goodbye to this, because I can't.

I am so not out of love with scrapbooking,
with "putting my world in perspective on paper."

Maybe it isn't for everyone, though.  Of course, I say that, but it is difficult to fathom, I admit, because I still experience such a rush when I immerse myself in the process of creating a page or project. Maybe the people who say goodbye to scrapbooking have found or are searching for other interests that give them that feeling.  Here's hoping that those who have said goodbye are lucky enough to say hello to something that moves them and thrills them.  The passion is the point, in whatever form it takes.  It is definitely worth seeking, because when it is found, there is nothing quite like it.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back to School with OA

I have always been something of a school supply aficionado.   The school supply aisle is one of the most colorful and welcoming aisles in any store, and just standing there gives me all sorts of ideas.  When it comes time to start school again each year, I look forward to our trek to Office Max, and throughout the year, when I run out of ink in a pen as I'm correcting papers, I feel a little flutter of glee, because I know that it won't be long before I get to splurge on supplies once again.  

Well, it was back-to-school time on the October Afternoon blog this week, so you KNOW how excited that made me!  Here's my contribution: 
I spray-painted clothespins and adhered papers from the Sidewalks and Schoolhouse lines to them.  I'll use them to help me organize the ever-present paper stacks that I transport to and from school with me.
Who knew that I could get my school supply fix without having to leave home?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Passion and Process

“If you want to be a remarkable teacher, get a hobby."  So says Marco Antonio Torres, who, I have discovered, has a knack for saying just what I need to hear. 

Torres is in town for the HAIS conference this week, which I will not be attending (sadly), but I did have the pleasure of hearing him speak yesterday evening.  The moment he started to connect teachers and hobbyists, I could sense a blog post in the making!  

Torres asked so many important questions, and there was one particular question he posed repeatedly:  "How do you develop ideas?"  

Really think about that.  In scrapbooking, we may share the product, but it is the process of generating and developing ideas that is truly fascinating and that seems to fuel the kinds of conversations we have with each other in public forums.  Questions relating to process, requests for tutorials, inspiring links, and descriptions of our techniques often appear on message boards and in our posts on our blogs, and accompany our pages in galleries.   If we only ever shared the product, the "community" aspect of scrapbooking would be impacted.  If we did not feel the push to be innovative, we might never create, or dare to use the words "fun" or "play" to describe what we do.  

Torres mentioned that hobbyists will defend their passions.   Many teachers, on the other hand, often concede too easily when criticism comes their way.  Sure, teachers will defend teaching itself, but when it comes to defending their practice, why they do the things they do or don't do, many tend to point to walls in front of them.  

This is precisely why Torres declares to groups of teachers, "If you want to be a remarkable teacher, get a hobby."   Why?  "Hobbyists don't see walls," he claims.  "They see obstacles."   

I can definitely see that playing out in my own creative process as a scrapbooker.  The word "can't" doesn't really occur to me as I create.  If I have an idea, I push and pull it until it translates somehow to the page.  I make it work.  

Is this true of me as a teacher?  I would hope so, but I know that I still have far to go.  

According to Torres, "Hobbyists love to learn," they "have evidence of how they learn," and what's more, "they love to share." Sound familiar, my scrappy friends?   

Is this true of scrapbookers?  Pretty much!    

Is this true of teachers? Now that is the question.  

So this is it:  I have been challenged to become more of a learner with and less of a teacher to my students.  It's what I've been doing all along as a scrapbooker, never claiming to be an expert, perfectly content (and even happy) to be a learner among other learners.  

Who knew that my scrapper self could have something to teach my teacher self?  

I'll leave you with a few shares from the lovely new JBS September kits.  

Idea:  unifying the multiple photos not just by bringing them close together, but also by framing them through overlapping white lines. 

Idea:  journaling inspired by the juxtaposition of black and white photos and brightly colored papers. 

Idea: bringing the outdoors to the page by splattering grass and dirt (figuratively speaking) on cardstock and going green.

It's funny -- since hearing Torres speak last night, I can't help but see these with fresh eyes, asking myself, "How do you develop ideas?"  and realizing that it is learning and innovation that keep bringing me back around to this incredible and worthwhile hobby.

Monday, September 5, 2011

35 and 25 and 15 and 5...

Years ago I read Sandra Cisneros's short story, "Eleven," and experienced one of those moments of recognition, in which the story and my story seemed to converge.
"...when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one..."
This is exactly how I feel whenever I stop to consider my age and what it all means.  I am made of layers, or, in Whitman's words, "I contain multitudes."  

When I was a kid, I remember thinking that 35 was old.  

Now that I'm 35, I know better, but that kid in me is still there, still telling me that by now, by 35, I should be more settled, more stable.  I don't feel as if I have somehow "arrived," that I have peaked.  Nope.  If anything, I'm unsettled.  The five-year-old wants to play with paper and watch TV.  The fifteen-year-old wants to sleep in all the time.  The twenty-five-year-old can't stop checking Anthropologie for sales.   The thirty-five-year old is starting to worry about retirement plans.   They're all in there, so "35" just doesn't quite sum it up for me. 

While thinking about this the other day, I realized that some scrap therapy was definitely in order.  It was time to address the figurative layers with some literal ones: 
 (Full details may be found at Two Peas in a Bucket.) 
In my description of the layout on Two Peas in a Bucket, I mentioned that "I don't need to 'act my age' if I accept the fact that there is no script to follow." I need to hold on to that idea whenever I find myself thinking that by age #, I should be blah-blah-blah-ing.  I really don't want to be one of the those people who measures my life solely in terms of years, who obsesses about her age, or who, when asked about her age, plays coy or appears to be insulted.  If I have learned anything about age over the years, it is that age really is just a number, and mine isn't up yet.