Thursday, July 31, 2014

JBS August Sneaks

Tonight's the night -- the lovely and oh-so-summery JBS Mercantile August kits are up for grabs!  Here are a few peeks at the projects that I've been working on using the Papercrafting kit and the Antiquarian kit.
I just sort of fell into the colors in these kits, and before I knew it, I had created these three layouts in a single day. Not a bad way to spend one of the last days of summer break.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cling

At this very moment there is a faint but steadily intensifying
meow
meow
meow
drifting from down the hall.

The cat is thirsty, but she has discriminating tastes, and is demanding water from the faucet in the bathroom.

She's driving me crazy, and it's not just because of the water.
All summer, in my daughter's absence, her cat has become my cat. All of the cat's strange little (and not-so-little) quirks that seem to delight my daughter (like their unnerving host/parasite sleeping arrangement) have been a sometimes amusing, sometimes hellish part of my daily routine for the past two months.

I've declared this the Summer of the Whining Cat.

She's constantly evolving, I've learned. Her latest adaptation is sunrise sensitivity. At the exact moment that the first of the sun's rays emerge from behind the mountains, the cat, who has, up until that point, been sleeping comfortably on my not-so-comfortable back/head/chest/arm, lets out a sudden "me-row?" and then, every three seconds, repeats the noise more and more urgently, until she is fed by a cranky me and bolts out the door.

Not cool.

So why do I still love that furry thing?

And why has she decided to give up the quest for water in favor of sleeping on the left side of my keyboard right now?

And why I am just typing around her?

Ugh. Cats.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Different Kind of Blog Hop

Happy Monday!

Today I'm pleased to be a part of a different kind of blog hop -- it's a blog tour, really, continuing from week to week as one crafty blogger tags another.  Last week, I was tagged by Amanda Reddicliffe, a brilliant scrapbooker whose pages are full of rich color and lovely details. I'm not quite sure how she does it, but she captures a sense of energy on every one of her pages. Amanda is also a photographer for Scrapbook Creations, and I was so flattered when she asked to interview me for a feature in the magazine a few months ago. 

There's also an interview component to this blog hop, as luck would have it. Amanda answered these questions last week, and now it's my turn! 

1. What am I working on right now?

I put the final touches on my most recent project yesterday, and it's up on the October Afternoon blog today. Every Monday a member of the design team poses a challenge for the week, and this week,  it's my turn! I chose to go with a five-part selfie challenge, extending the idea of a selfie to make it apply to an entire layout, not just a photo. Part of the challenge includes using one's handwriting to create a text-based pattern. 
2. How long does it take me to create a project?

The answer to this depends on four "s" words: the supplies at my disposal, the subject matter, my schedule, and self-doubt. The more freedom I have to create a layout about anything, using any supplies that I wish, without worrying about a deadline or whether the final product is meeting someone else's expectations of quality design, the smoother the process will be; however, smoother doesn't always mean quicker.  I suppose a layout like that could come together in as little as thirty minutes, if I have a clear focus of where I am going with it, or it could take hours, if I just want to try different things and see where the process takes me.  Efficiency does not matter to me; it can actually impede creativity at times. 

It's usually the layouts attached to firm deadlines and specific topics that come together more quickly for me, usually in about an hour, maybe because they force me to take a more disciplined approach to what I can include on a page.  When it comes to these kinds of layouts, most of the time invested involves generating ideas, gathering supplies, and considering the creative possibilities of different products. Assembling the layout becomes easier once there is a clear sense of direction. Efficiency probably does play a greater role with these layouts, but even though I acknowledge that I may need to pick up the pace at times, I know that I can't force a layout into completion.  I still insist that every page have heart. If that means that one hour becomes two hours, then so be it. 

3. What are my favorite things to create with at the moment? 
  • vellum and glassine 
  • my black Uniball pen 
  • ledger paper, dictionary paper, and book pages
  • Freckled Fawn's wood chip cursive words 
  • found objects/ephemera
  • cream-colored paint 
  • my October Afternoon date stamp 
  • mist/spray ink and ink daubers 
  • my favorite typeface, Typenoksidi 
4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I talked a bit about my creating process in #2 already, but as for my writing process, it depends largely on the emotional connection I feel to the subject of a layout. The most powerful journaling comes about when something resonates within. For instance, take the journaling on the OA layout mentioned earlier: 
I assembled the entire layout, drew the lines for the journaling, and then, realizing that I did not yet have the words to say what I was hoping to say, I walked away from the page for about an hour. That time away made a difference, as my brain began to make associations between the physical products -- the book-themed Public Library collection -- and the focus of the page, a genuine "selfie." I started thinking about books, and how people's lives can be like books...and then I started thinking about life stories...and about books that I hadn't finished, and why...and about people who become comfortable living lives without the story...and then...just like that...I had my idea. A distinct sentence emerged from the muddle in my brain: "I don't want to be a book one abandons upon realizing halfway through that there is no story."  I returned to the page and wrote the rest in minutes. 

The process doesn't always work this way, but the point is, I accept that there is a process. If there are no words, I don't force the words. I find the words. Had I rushed the journaling and not given myself the time and mental space to let the words come, then my journaling might have been reduced to the act of simply filling the space, scribbling, in effect compromising the meaning and the value of the page. 

5. How do I become inspired and stay inspired? 

There are a few avenues that I explore whenever I need to jump start my creative thinking. Pinterest has been a godsend, making curators of us all, and teaching us that if you love something, you don't have to let it go. You can pin it. Usually when I am seeking a spark, I take a moment to browse the images in my "Artsy-Craftsy Inspiration" pinboard.  That usually does it for me. 
I'm also endlessly inspired by my fellow scrapbookers. Being a believer in the adage, "There is nothing new under the sun," I'm in awe of those who have the ability to see with fresh eyes and to enliven their layouts in innovative ways. 

Staying inspired is a tall order, but I think it's possible by surrounding myself with words and images that stimulate the senses, and by keeping myself open to the new and the different while also honoring the tried-and-true. 

6. What is my signature style? 

The "style" question is always the toughest to answer for me. You would think that after all of these years I would be ready for this one.  

When it comes to writing, style is basically how one writes, so when it comes to scrapbooking, style is basically how one scraps. With that said, my scrapbooking style can best be described in terms of convergence. I think in layers and work in layers -- layers of color, texture, and meaning. I pull together bits and pieces with a sense of intention until they click for me, and say what I want them to say, collectively.

Whew! 

Next week, the blog tour continues as I pass the torch to three of my favorite crafty folk, all of whom possess magic scrappy fingers. 

I'm fairly certain that little golden sparkles from Ashley's soul are infused in every one of her layouts.  Her pages have a soft, dreamy quality, and even when a layout is not about her, she is always present on the page. She has a gift for summoning a sense of wonder through her layouts. 

"Wow." This is what I said the first time I saw one of Sasha's layouts, and this is what I still say each time I behold one of her creations. There is something so strong and solid about her pages, but at the same time, there is a sense of something whimsical, even experimental. That's Sasha, I guess -- a mind at play, a steadfast heart. 

On every page, a white background, and in the foreground, a stunning color combination -- you would think this sounds like a formula, but Kim's pages are anything but formulaic. She does for color what Willy Wonka does for candy, exploring so many permutations and combinations of it, rendering something so delectable that I always find myself wanting more. 

Next Monday, please be sure to stop by the blogs of the talented, always-inspiring crafters tagged above, as the blog hop continues! 

As a token of my appreciation for taking the time to learn a little more about me and my scrappy inclinations, leave a comment below by Wednesday, July 30 at 11:59 p.m. EST, and I'll randomly pick one person to receive a sweet little giveaway of some scrappy supplies. Be sure that I can contact you via your blog or email. Good luck! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Adventurer

"I'm not sure how to properly express how much everything has changed in just a few weeks. My world view has shifted drastically, and even as a person, I feel different." 
These are my daughter's words, written just a few days ago, as she begins the last week of her stay with her host family in Russia. It's strange to think back to her first week away, when she called me, homesick, her voice wavering. That kind of call only came once, though. She quickly became acclimated to life in another country as she formed friendships, developed her language skills, and embraced every day as another adventure. Her summer away has changed her in immeasurable ways. 
"It feels like I've been away from home for a year already, though I'm not homesick, nor have I been since the first week here during the initial shock. The thought of going home is bittersweet to me: I do want to continue with my life at home and see my family and friends again, but I've fallen deeply in love with this country. To say goodbye to it is to say goodbye to a part of my heart."
I don't know where she gets it, this wanderlust -- maybe it's a result of living on an island -- but it is a characteristic that is most definitely compatible with her bravery, her curiosity, and her resilience. She's my hero. 

Though I won't get to see the photos on her camera until she gets home, she has been taking some pics with her phone and sharing those. I compiled a few from her first week traveling and created this page: 
The journaling is hers, folded and tucked into the map paper. It's a composition that she wrote for the program pre-departure. Her writing skills have likely grown quite a bit since then. 

One of the reasons why I splurged on the July SC kits was because of the travel-themed accents and paper, which I knew I would put to good use. 
I stamped the wood letters from the SC Penny Arcade kit with a cloud stamp as well as a text stamp, and then filled in the letters with a neon yellow ink dauber. I also used some older supplies from my stash, like the Cyrillic washi tape (from Freckled Fawn, I believe), the Ormolu fabric tag, and the transportation icons from a Moleskine travel journal. 

This has definitely been a transformative experience for both my daughter and me this summer, as she learns to make her way in the world, and I learn to accept that she is ready to do so. 
"I'm sure that I speak for all of us when I say that we will cherish each moment that we have left here and will carry our time here with us for the rest of our lives."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Blurb Book

Before I began this blog, I had a personal blog that I shared with my friends and family members, to keep them updated on our everyday lives. A few weeks ago I learned about a blogger who had lost all of her content -- unthinkable, right? -- and I decided to take action, in the form of converting my blog into book form.

I considered the options and put a few feelers out on Facebook and the SC message board, and finally settled upon Blurb.com.  The process of creating the book was a bit of an ordeal, I must admit, but the BookSmart software was ever so helpful. Since my blog contained two years of near-daily posts and almost 800 images, the content did not transfer easily in the "slurping" process, so I had to move posts and images in smaller groups.  It wasn't hard; it just took some time and patience.  Once I had copied the content, I didn't want it to appear just anywhere in the book, so I pulled an all-nighter (and then some), working on the book page by page, ensuring that the photos that were with the original posts would appear alongside the accompanying text. Here is a sample of one of the layouts-in-progress:
One thing to keep in mind when transferring from Blogger is that the time stamp and author's name will appear at the end of each copied post, along with a "no reply" comment. I went through each post and deleted that "no reply" bit, but I'm sure a few fell through the cracks.  By 4 a.m. I was a bit fried, after all. I didn't have to finish the book in one sitting, of course, but I was supercharged about the project. Even after that all-nighter, I only got four hours of sleep before I was back at it again -- I was that psyched about it.

Would I do it again?  Heck, yes!  I learned a lot in the process, and looking back, it may have involved a lot of time, but it was so worth the effort.  My Blurb book arrived today, and I love it so very much.
The book is a hardcover, standard portrait size (7.75" x 9.75"), and it is just short of 240 pages. That number matters, actually, since once a book hits 240 pages, the kind of paper that can be used becomes limited to "standard" paper. Because I managed to keep the length to 236 pages, I was still able to use premium paper with lustre finish. After looking at the book today, I am so glad that I made the cutoff for that paper. It's beautiful.
This book is a treasure. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lately-ing

Dealing with a sore throat today. No fair. Isn't there a law against getting sick in the summertime?

Learning to use clipping masks in Photoshop. 
Believing every word of that. I could use a rainstorm right about now. It's insanely humid and still. Did I mention the sore throat? How can my only comfort -- hot tea -- be making everything worse instead of better? 

Digging my daughter's Instagram pics from Russia, like these:
The graffiti in our neighborhood doesn't say anything as sweet as that above: "Anya, I love you." Most of the scrawls around here translate to "Obviously, I opted not to pursue a college degree." 

Reading the third installment in one of my favorite series ever:
So far, so good! It's engrossing.

Oh. Wow. What's that I hear? Rain? 
Would it be bad for my sore throat if I went outside to dance in the puddles? Just a little? 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I'll Tell You Why I Love Him

It's because when he calls my name,
and I turn, I see that he has donned zombie glasses.
Though this face makes me crack up,
it's also completely irresistible to me.

Love really is strange. I so dig that.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Finding the Words: The Self-Portrait Page

I say it every year, so it's about time for me to say it again: summer scrapping really is the best kind of scrapping. I am all about the flow right now.

A few weeks ago, I splurged on some goodies from Studio Calico, and yesterday, I created this page.
It's been a while since I created a self-portrait layout. I always feel a little awkward creating pages that are focused on me, especially in a world of selfies gone wild, but from time to time, it is important to turn that gaze around and take a look within. I can't just be the scrapbooker-as-spectator. The self isn't static, and thus, periodic "snapshot" layouts should be welcome -- even necessary -- additions to one's albums.
I spilled the random contents of my head here, taking a fragmented approach to the journaling.
What unifies the fragments is that every thought is genuine, emerging from my muddle of a brain, and each one was recorded as it popped into my head.
A stream-of-consciousness technique works wonders on a self-portrait page, especially if you don't consider yourself/your self as a subject about which you can generalize simply or easily.  Plus, it's honest; it's direct. Just spend a few minutes jotting down your thoughts (and even your questions), not worrying about the order or the coherency. You aren't telling a story or writing a summary; you're just sharing a peek at what the journaling card on this page refers to as "the weird and wonderful."

To jump start the journaling, ask yourself questions; it's almost like having an interview with yourself.

What have you noticed lately? What's been bothering you? What have you been back-and-forth about? What made you smile last? What little things have delighted you in a big way? What have you discovered about yourself recently? What's on your mind?

What lies on the other side of these questions deserves to find its way onto a page or two or ten, don't you agree?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Fourth, One Week Later

Just one week ago, we were celebrating the Fourth of July with barbecue, fireworks, and family.  I pulled together a few snapshots from the day and a few of my favorite Crate Paper goodies, and created a layout to document our celebration. 
Rather than stick to a standard red, white, and blue theme, I added a few more colors to the mix. I went with a listing approach for the journaling, compiling a series of moments from the day. When it comes to journaling on holiday layouts, I find that concentrating on specific images and sensory details makes it easier to avoid generalizing or stating the obvious about the holiday. The more specific the details, the more personal the layout. 
More details can be found on the Crate Paper blog. 

Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

In Just a Few Days...

I can't believe that in just a few days, Two Peas will close. If you are a pea and you have not yet made arrangements to save the items in your gallery, keep in mind that in the FAQ section of the site, Two Peas has posted that "this content will only be available through July 10, 2014 11:59 p.m. CST."

Since the Garden Girl layouts belong to Two Peas, the design team can't share them in galleries elsewhere. If you were wanting to save any of those, keep that in mind. Mine are saved to my computer, and most have been shared on this blog, but I also have a Pinterest pinboard for them. They've been posted in chronological order.
Gosh, it's crazy to think that I generated all of these projects over the last three years. Being a Garden Girl really was a dream come true for me, and I will always be grateful to Kristina for welcoming me to the team. 

Over the next few days, I'll be going through my bookmarks at Two Peas, to be sure that I have saved the layouts that have inspired me over the years.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Proof.

I read. I read books. I have trouble with e-books. I can't seem to form the kind of attachment to them that I have to actual hardcovers and paperbacks.  This is highly inconvenient, I understand, as I do not have enough house to house all of my books and more and more stacks accumulate month after month, but this is less of a discouraging problem and more of a delightful one for me. Just as the cat lady accepts that someday her cats will eat her, so do I accept that someday I will be found crushed under an avalanche of books.

My post this week on the October Afternoon blog offers an 8.5" x 11" sketch as well as a peek at my stacks -- just a glimpse, really, of those on my nightstand. The page offers proof of my bibliophilia.
Appropriately, I used the OA "Public Library" collection.  
I also tried my hand (or my mouse, really) at turning my handwriting into a die-cut file.
I really like how it turned out! In fact, I like it so much that I am happy to share it with anyone who feels the same. You can download the free .studio file right here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

You Realize What This Means.

It's July 1. Exactly a month from now, my summer vacation will be done.  Just as I was getting used to the aimlessness and the sleeping in and the trips to Starbucks with the dog in tow, I've hit the halfway point of summer and it's like someone just flipped over an hourglass. Time to carpe that summer diem, yo.

I think I did just that with the July kits from JBS Mercantile, making the most of them and losing myself in the sense of "flow" that comes with creating.

This month I worked with the Papercrafting and Antiquarian kits, both of which are very July, don't you think?
My first project makes use of the exclusive flamingo-print paper found in the Papercrafting kit. 

I knew just what to do with it. My mother-in-law is not so much a cat lady as she is a flamingo lady. We are always sending her flamingo-themed items, so of course when her birthday rolled around this year, I had the perfect paper for her card. 
 I've got to give it up to Lisa Dickinson for designing this paper!

The Papercrafting kit, as you have noticed, includes quite a bit of red, white, and blue. I nearly put my hand over my heart as I opened the box when I received the kit.  It would have plain wrong and downright unpatriotic of me to have overlooked a page celebrating Independence Day.
I inked a few Lawn Fawn fireworks stamps with some daubers and repeatedly stamped the image on some cardstock, over which I printed my journaling. 
I so love the months of the year flair that Jenni has been adding to the kits. 
You may notice that dark blue paper peeking out from behind the layers. It's cut from a sheet of oh-my-gosh-I-need-300-more-sheets-of-this blueprint paper from the Antiquarian kit.  I fought the urge to hoard the rest of the paper and gave it a home on this layout: 
If you are fan of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, then you will immediately recognize the quote that I used here. After seeing the movie for the first time back in December, my daughter tweeted, "Mark my words, I'll travel the world." A few months later, she was accepted into a study abroad program, and a few weeks ago, my adventurous girl got on a plane and off she went. The quote from the movie  has been a mantra of hers, and it was the best way to communicate how I felt about her sendoff. 
I dusted off the ol' die-cut machine and coaxed it into cutting cursive letters, which was not easy. For some reason my Cameo has been ripping paper as it cuts, and I'm not quite sure how to address that. Miracle of miracles, the title letters emerged on my third try.  I painted them with some Gold Glitter Glamour Dust paint (from a past JBS kit) and then misted them lightly with Tropicana Teal and Mustard Color Shine mists. 

With my daughter off in foreign lands, I've been spending a lot of time with my other daughter, my fur daughter.  This morning she insisted on an "us-ie." 
She holds the camera like a pro, doesn't she? 

Like any pet of mine, she has a bazillion names. I've taken to calling her "Daughter Beezus" lately.  One of the layouts that I've been working on documents a few of the names to which she answers. 
I had some fun with watercolors here, streaking them across the background. There's also a painted piece among the rectangles that I pulled together on the layout. 
Those gold accents -- bestill my heart. 

I also worked in watercolors on this layout, which is based on a PageMaps sketch. The JBS Mercantile team joined PageMaps as contributing guests this month. 
To create the circle pattern in the background, I used one of the exclusive stamps from the Papercrafting kit and stamped it repeatedly to form a grid. I then filled in the circles with red, yellow, and blue watercolor paint, and then mixed the blue and red to create purple, which I added last. 
I brightened up the kraft-colored letters by swiping various colors of ink daubers over them. 
Every time I look at this page, I crave shave ice. 

The last of my pages from the July gallery uses a mix of papers from the Papercrafting kit and some of the vintage items from the Antiquarian kit. 
The "Good Advice" label was the source of the page concept. It became the title but also the catalyst for the journaling. 
I sure got a lot of mileage out of this polka-dotted vellum! 
Check out the rest of the JBS Mercantile gallery here. 

That's it!  I've been merrily scrapping the summer away, as you can see.  ;)  Carpe scrap, I say.