Friday, December 23, 2011

December Daily: What's Working

I can't tell if I am more on target for sticking with this album this year, but I do think I'm enjoying it more and I know I have simplified some parts for myself. Here's what's been working so far for me, most of which is demonstrated with the Dec. 11 page:

Dec 11

1) Not worrying about daily photos. I tend to be able to find a little of something -- a tag, a receipt, a Starbucks bag, a drawing by one of the boys -- that adds some visual interest. Having fewer photos makes it easier to work with the pages. Plus, since I don't print my photos at home, I don't feel like I'm waiting for photos as much. If I know I'm only going to have a single 4x6 photo, I can build most of the page around that and then just stick on the photo later.

For the Dec. 11 page, I plan to include two or three wallet-size photos on the left side later, but the snowflakes do a good job of being a visual.

2) Being open to ideas for a story that may have nothing to do with the actual events of the day. For some reason, while I was getting my hair cut on Saturday, I had a whole walk down memory lane in my head about the giant tree my Dad used to decorate. I'm planning to write that story down and then have it ready for any day. Robby wrote a winter poem in school that I'm going to type up (the paper was just way too big for the album) and use on one of the days. I find myself remembering many details about Christmases past that I'd like to include in this album.

The Dec. 11 page above is mostly about the activities of that day, but I also touch on my overall enjoyment of paper craft decorations and my annual tradition of cutting snowflakes.

3) Not allowing myself to write down every detail of the day. In the past, my December Daily albums and my attempts at Week in the Life tended to run like this: We woke up. We got ready. I ate a bagel. The boys ate waffles. We went to school/work.... The minute I find myself thinking this way, I stop and remind myself to boil the day down to the simplest piece(s) I want to remember. Taking fewer photos also seems to help keep me focused on just the highlights.

Dec. 11 was a fairly ordinary Sunday, and I could have turned it into a dull hour by hour list so as not to leave anything out. Instead I focused on just one part of the day -- making some decorations.

4) Using the baseball card pocket page protectors. I was sure that trying to use these would make things more complicated than necessary. In fact, I have found that using them sparingly is turning out to be a good way to include the "little stuff" neatly.

Okay, this one is not demonstrated with the Dec. 11 page.

5) Enjoying the excuse to play and create. I look forward to making time at the end of the day to play with my pages and supplies. I have been making big messes, which I take as a good sign. I like that I included actual snowflakes, instead of only a photo of them done or us making them.
    What about you? Have you been keeping up and how?

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Life with an Elf in the House

    Having an elf as a house guest certainly keeps everyone on their toes -- not to mention helps get little boys out of their beds in a hurry every morning.

    Sprinkles has been busy -- keeping up with the boys' changing wishlists, monitoring for naughtiness, playing with their toys and entertaining them with his silly surprises. Here are some of his latest antics.

    Knowing how much the boys love to build, Sprinkles made his own block fort.
    Dec 2- Elf Playing with Blocks

    Sprinkles got a band together for some merry music-making. Fortunately they didn't wake anyone up during the night!
    Dec 6 - Elf & Friends Band

    He played a game of quidditch and caught the golden snitch.
    Dec 8- Elf & the Golden Snitch

    He went sailing on the pirate ship.
    Dec 10 - Elf riding the pirate ship

    Oops! Sprinkles just couldn't resist all that red and green candy and had to dive right in!
    Dec 10- Elf & M&Ms

    Sprinkles invited his pals the nutcracker men and Spike the Dinosaur to a wooden food feast. The boys love this, and prepared a few other items for their meal.
    Dec 14 - Elf Feast

    Last Friday he created quite a commotion, starting with marker mischief on our bathroom mirror and several picture frames.
    Dec 16
    Dec 16
    I tell you, that elf is full of silly stunts this year! And the boys LOVE his elf-style naughtiness, especially when I pretend to scold him and say I may have to report him to Santa if he keeps this up. When I went to pick up the boys in the afternoon, he had sneaked into my car to greet them.
    Dec 16- taking a ride

    But that wasn't all, on our way home from a party that evening, he had moved to the driver's seat headrest and tickled the back of my neck since we couldn't see him in the dark. We had a great time laughing at him and telling him he was going to find himself on the naughty list! The boys couldn't stop laughing and were cheering for him to do more funny/naughty tricks. Fortunately Sprinkles spent a quieter Saturday with us.

    With less than a week till Christmas, Sprinkles still has some fun plans in mind -- better get to work, Sprinkles!

    If you have an elf at your house, I'd love to see what he or she is up to -- share a link to your photos/blog/Pinterest board in the comments.

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    December Daily Album: November Days

    I decided to start my "December Daily" album with the first day of Advent - November 27 - so here are my first four days, a sort of prequel to December Dailies.

    November 27
    Nov 27

    Since Advent is a time for preparing, I listed the ways I am prepared and preparing for Christmas. For the right page, I cut down a baseball card holder and added a bit from the cover of an Advent pamphlet from church with daily readings and the name I drew in our Secret Santa. I also left a placeholder to include a photo of Sprinkles, our Elf on the Shelf. When I typed my journaling, I made a strip with a purple background using a line from a song we always sing in church, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" (please forgive my clumsy photography in cutting off "Lord" in the photo). 

    November 28

    Nov 28

    For November 28, I included the note Sprinkles had left for the boys that morning -- I attached it to the outside of the cardholder so it can be flipped open to read. I also included a little ninja drawing by my son. He drew it on the next day, but I liked it in this space. The right side is an envelope holding the letter Robby wrote to Santa a couple of weeks ago. The journaling is the story about that letter, attached to the outside of the envelope.

    Nov 28- letter

    November 29
    Nov 29

    The 29th was all about singing, dancing and books in our house, and drawings too really. This picture is by my four-year-old of "Santa at our house with the Christmas lights." The pink lights are for me.

    Nov 29 b

    On the backside, I stuck this drawing by my six-year-old of Santa and Sprinkles the elf decorating a tree. The opposite page is the Christmas subway art printable from the ladies at Eighteen25. On that page, I'm planning to add the (very blurry) photos of the boys jumping on my bed in their pajamas while singing and dancing to Christmas songs.

    November 30
    Nov 30

    For November 30, I adhered the note Sprinkles left. The pocket cardholder in the middle is going to include four small photos of the mischief Sprinkles go into today (two photos on the front and two on the back, in the bottom row only so their faces on the card will still peek out). Behind the page protector, the right-side page features our Christmas card. Those two little tags --  November Thirty and the red border -- are from the free "Outnumbered Journaling Cards" series by Avital at Creativity Prompt.

    I'm enjoying the process so far, and have mostly kept each day focused on the highlights, without turning into the day's itinerary.

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Simple Things: A Beach Walk in December

    Living in Connecticut, 50-degree weather in December is not the norm. So while we have been known to walk at the beach on colder days, it is definitely a simple pleasure to do so on such a mild December day. We drew pictures in the sand, listening to the waves and collected shells. The boys got to walk their grandfather's dog, Hailey, who also found much to enjoy about the outing.

    Participating in the "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011

    December Daily (or Something Like It)

    For the past two years, I have partially participated in the December Daily project led by Ali Edwards. I say partially because like so many of the projects I attempt, I just haven't gotten around to finishing it. I actually took photos on all the days and have at least some notes for each day. I even have a collection of the little bits and pieces of every day life that make the books wonderful. But alas, my two books still sit in a "nearly finished" state. I love them anyway, but they do give me a sense of dissatisfaction with myself for not completing them.

    So I have been telling myself that I must NOT attempt this project again this year. Instead, I should try to complete those two books -- maybe by the end of January to start the new year with a clear crafting conscience. Sounds very reasonable, doesn't it?

    Sunday was the first day of Advent. Sunday our elf Sprinkles arrived at the house. Sunday I got an email that my Christmas card order shipped. And what did I find myself doing Sunday evening, despite all my reasons against it... yes, a December Daily album of course.

    December Daily

    I think it's going to be an Advent book, so I guess that means it officially started already. My plan is to not worry about the "daily" too much. In the past, I think my problem has been trying to capture the day's details from morning to night. I like Ali's idea to make it about a single story for the day, so I am going to stop myself when I find I'm writing down the day's itinerary. I want to summarize some of the larger activities or traditions we have. So while we may bake cookies on five different days, I want to just tell the bigger story about our cookie traditions. Or instead of writing down which holiday special we watched that day, I want to write about which movies are our favorites and why. I also want to use this book to capture some of the many drawings the boys are bound to make about Christmas, while adding in some gift lists, shopping lists, party invitations, notes from our elf, etc.

    And what about those two unfinished books? As much as I want them to be completed, and as much as I want to be certain to finish the 2011 book, I do know that even the partially-finished books are still treasures. When I look at them, when I look past what's not finished, I find so much to enjoy -- a funny quote from one of the boys, a recipe, a photo of how we decorated, an activity I normally would not have photographed. Yes, they are incomplete, but there is still much to love about them.

    Here's to a merry Christmas season!

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Halloween in December

    (Or Christmas Magic in October)

    Our Christmas elf, Sprinkles, likes to stop by for a quick visit on some of the other holidays during the year. It's a good way for him to get to check in on the boys, and a chance for us to say hi since we miss him after Christmas. He has made visits on Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day, and stopped in at the grandparents' house on Thanksgiving once too. 

    This year he played a little trick on us, arriving in the afternoon on Halloween, wearing his costume! He even carried a tiny bag with chocolates for the boys. What a surprise that was! The boys were jumping around yelling hello to him and laughing about his pumpkin costume!
    Elf on Halloween

    No reason the magic of the Christmas season can only happen in December.

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Counting My Blessings - 30 Days of Gratitude

    30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, cover

    A few years ago I was inspired to try to keep a list of things I was thankful for each day in November. I still have the notebook, but somehow I never completed the month-long list. I still liked the idea of focusing on daily thanks giving for November, and when I saw this lovely little gratitude list book by Lisa Ottosson, I was motivated to give the idea more than a passing thought. I noticed she used a journaling card from Crystal Wilkerson, which led me to the discovery of a whole set of journaling cards in Crystal's shop that I could see would make for easy pages.

    30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, Nov 7

    I printed and cut the cards, stamped a date for each day, added a title card and some pretty ribbon, and in the end I had a cute little book I couldn't wait to fill. Each morning, I jotted down something from the previous day I was thankful for on a bit of scrap paper and every few days I added to the cards. I tried to focus on just one item from each day, but some days are more list-style. Since it's all about being thankful, I'm pretty sure I don't need to impose any rules on myself. On the opposite pages, I may add a photo or one of Crystal's gratitude quote cards.

    30 Days of Gratitude - mini book, Nov 18

    I am truly enjoying this little project, and appreciating the reminder to look for the blessings in every day. With the start of Advent, I also feel this project has helped to give me a better perspective for the Christmas season too.

    Hope you have been enjoying the season of thanksgiving and are looking forward to the Christmas season too.

    (Supplies: Spring/Summer 2011 - Journaling Cards, by Crystal Wilkerson, binder rings, ribbon from Making Memories, date stamp from Staples)

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    The Elf on the TV

    Looks like Elf is making his television debut this week -- "The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story" airs on November 25 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

    Description from the CBS website: "'An Elf's Story' follows one of the many scout elves from the North Pole who helps Santa Claus determine who to put on the naughty and nice lists."

    Looks like we have our first holiday special lined up.

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    25 Ideas for Christmas Elf Antics

    Meet Sprinkles, our elf who visits with us for the Christmas season and reports back to Santa each night.

    Elf in the Wreath

    He brings mischief and merriment from the day after Thanksgiving through December 26th, or even till New Year's Day. He's supposed to fly back with Santa on Christmas Eve, but Santa gives him permission to stay for Christmas Day to see the boys open their presents. Sometimes he stays longer, if he's just too tired to make his way home after all the Christmas preparations.

    As more of my friends have elves arriving in their homes, I thought I'd share some of Sprinkles' ideas for bringing magic and delight to your home this Christmas season:
    1. Arrive with an Advent calendar for the kids.
    2. Hide in the Christmas tree, maybe with a new ornament.
    3. Hide in the freezer.
    4. Hide in the car to greet the kids after school.
    5. Arrive with elf or Santa hats for the kids.
    6. Hide in the Christmas village -- it's like being back at the North Pole.
    7. Hide in the bookshelves, maybe with a new Christmas story.
    8. Write a tiny note in funny elf writing.
    9. Draw a picture for the kids -- of them in the snow, of him and his elf pals, of Santa.
    10. Leave tiny elf prints around the house.
    11. Steal mom's camera and take pictures of himself making mischief.
    12. Hide in the fridge after turning the milk green.
    13. Nibble elf bites out of the Christmas cookies when you're not looking.
    14. Sit in the kids toys -- a doll house, a play garage, a baby doll stroller, a remote control car.
    15. Hide among the stuffed animals.
    16. Surprise the kids with a mini Christmas tree for their own room.
    17. Show up at a friend or family member's house while you're visiting there.
    18. Hide in the stockings.
    19. Build something out of the kids' Lego sets.
    20. Bring a sweet treat -- chocolate Santas, candy canes.
    21. Hide in the wreath.
    22. Sit in the chandelier.
    23. Hide in mom's china hutch -- a tea cup is a perfect spot for putting up your elf feet and relaxing.
    24. Bring a toy or treat for the family pet.
    25. Bring new Christmas pajamas for the kids. (Maybe mom and dad too?)
    Elf on a Shelf, in a Vase

    When the boys were younger, and less able to refrain from touching him, Sprinkles usually stuck to the higher places for hiding -- the top of the TV or dressers, curtain rods, the top of a seldom-used lamp, in the china hutch and in the chandelier.

    Since our boys have enjoyed Sprinkles' visits so much, he's been known to visit on Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day and even Halloween. When he visited on St. Patrick's Day, he joined the leprechauns in making some green-themed mischief.

    Elf's Visit on St. Patrick's Day

    Do you have an elf who visits at Christmas time? If so, I'd love to hear about his antics in your home.

    (Note: I have no ties to the Elf on the Shelf company or products, and only wanted to share ideas we have done in our home with our elf, or are planning to do this season.)

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    The Simple Things: Boys + Day Off + Imagination

    Since the boys had Friday off for Veterans' Day, I worked from home and got to enjoy watching and listening to their pretend-play adventures. They took out the Tinker Toys and Robby made potions while Joey made "fire-blasting rockets." I love how their creations were unique to their interests, yet their play flowed freely into each other's worlds. There was some jumping on the couches. A few short-lived squabbles broke out. Then the couch cushions became a house, which they set about "furnishing." They ate a real snack there, but also cooked an imaginary feast for their stuffed animal pals and celebrated a birthday for one of the pals. Later the house became a store, where they sold art, writings and flutes. After lunch they played with Play Doh and then made leaf rubbings. We cut out the leaves and they pretended to be trees and tornadoes, throwing the leaves around the room and laughing with joy.

    I love seeing them play together as the best of friends, using their imaginations to enjoy all sorts of adventures. The perfect simple pleasure for a once-in-a-century day.

    Check out more "Simple Things" photographs on Rebecca Cooper's blog.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Some Halloween Craftiness at the 11th Hour!

    Thanks to Pinterest, I've seen thousands of inspiring ideas. My problem is getting around to changing that inspiration into action. With Halloween kicking off the end-of-year holidays, I think I finally have some motivation going -- it only waited till 10:30 last night to finally kick in (yes, that would be the night before Halloween)!

    I had picked up a bag of Halloween pencils from Target several weeks back with the intention of making some kind of little tag or card to go with them for my oldest to hand out at school. Despite the early purchase, I still hadn't done anything with them. So I fired up Photoshop and made little flags to wrap around the pencils.

    Halloween Pencil Flags
    Halloween Pencil Flags

    Everything is from the Too Cute to Spook elements pack from Creativity by Crystal, except the font I used for "From your friend Robby," which is Harry P from

    When the boys get home this afternoon, I have these two little guys ready to greet them in the fridge at snack time...
    Juice Box Mummies
    Juice Box Mummies

    I have seen this idea in several places, but one of the original sources I can trace back is here from I used crepe paper and googly eyes, and I made another one for Robby's lunchbox but just did black marker eyes (sometimes too much distraction at lunch isn't a good thing).

    I also happen to know that our "Elf on the Shelf," Sprinkles, will be arriving later with a surprise too, but more on that another day.

    Thank you Pinterest for some extra Halloween fun. Happy Halloween everyone!

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    The Simple Things: Boys + Rocks + Water = Simple Pleasure

    I love Rebecca Cooper's idea to document the simple moments each week (see her blog, Simple as That) but have never tried it myself. So here's a start...

    The boys and I enjoyed some time this morning at the beach. It was unseasonably warm -- nearly 80 degrees in October! We stopped at the playground, swung on the swings, spent a little time just throwing in rocks, and took a walk. Honestly, this simple activity of throwing rocks into the water could have entertained them for much longer -- next time I think I'll have a seat and just let them throw rocks as long as they like.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    My Personal Ella Publishing eBook Challenge

    Of the scrapbook challenges I set out for myself, my Ella eBook challenge is really a series of challenges in one. These are the eBooks I own and will use in my challenge:
    I happened to win "How to Scrapbook Your Personal Heritage" in a giveaway on Donna Jannuzzi's blog and the Free Super Sampler is, obviously, FREE (go check it out!). The rest I've purchased, which you would think would be a good reason to go and MAKE something after purchasing. But no; I've had several of these for a long while now and have not made anything as a direct result of the inspiration and ideas I found. I certainly found plenty of ideas, but just never acted on them.

    So now my challenge is simple: read through these eBooks and use each to inspire at least one layout. In other words, do something with the ideas I have collected here. 

    First up: Stretch Your Sketches
    Of all the eBooks, this one with sketches seems the most obvious for action. If one buys a book on page sketches, it seems one should pick up the book and actually do something with those sketches! In addition, I have admired Donna Jannuzzi's style -- I like her color and pattern combos, and the way the photos are often neatly grouped in boxes. I definitely wanted to try out one of her sketches.

    This was my first page inspired by Stretch Your Sketches:

    A Moment Shared
    (Papers: Me & My Big Ideas "A Kid Like Me" activity pad (red dot), SEI (striped), Making Memories (green dot), assorted scraps (blue and red); letter stickers: Recollections from Michael's; brads: Recollections from Michael's)

    I ended up being so pleased with the result, I got started right away on another page:

    (Papers: Recollections "Autumn" paper pad (pumpkin print), Bo Bunny "Shabby Princess" (diamond print), Die Cuts with a View (orange textured cardstock), Recollections cardstock (off-white and brown); flocked tags: Heidi Grace; journaling spot: Making Memories; letters: Punch Out Alphas from Remember When)

    With Donna's pages as inspiration, I used patterned paper and bright colors a little more boldly than my typical way, particularly in that first one. Left to my own devices, I would have just used that bright red dot paper in another strip or that orange paper in a smaller dose on a kraft or white background, but I felt these ways were more in keeping with Donna's style, and I love the result!

    I must admit I was inordinately pleased with myself after creating these two pages and left them out in the dining room so I could admire them in passing. In addition to being so happy with the tangible outcome, I just plain enjoyed drawing direct inspiration from a relatively different style -- sort of stretching my design muscles out of their usual routine.

    For my next challenge, I'm looking at 20 Simple Secrets of Happy Scrapbookers and already have a list of at least five possible pages to make with the prompts from that eBook. I like this feeling of having scrapbook homework assignments to keep me motivated and trying new things.

    On a Roll...

    This year I have been creating scrapbook pages more often and consistently. I've been averaging at least one digital or paper layout a week, which for me is great. In the past I was more of a scrapbooking-in-spurts kind of person, going weeks or months without touching my paper trimmer, then creating for a few solid weeks. Now I'm always thinking about my next layout and moving through a lot of recent and past stories I've wanted to tell. In short, I'm enjoying my hobby immensely and feeling inspired and creative all the time.

    One of the things that has helped me are lists, not just the lists of layouts I want to make, stories to tell and photos to take, but also keeping a list of the pages I complete - a great way to see just how much I'm creating, especially in the case of digital layouts since I don't print them right away.

    I've also started sharing my layouts online more often -- on this blog, on Flickr or in the class galleries for Big Picture Classes. Not only is it another visual reminder of what I've completed so far, but receiving comments from fellow scrapbookers about a page is very satisfying. Especially since my only other feedback generally comes from my husband who has no appreciation for color selections to match a mood or the use of white space.

    Another thing that's been working for me this year is trying more online challenges, whether I complete them on time and share them or just work at my own pace. I have gotten several great ideas -- for stories and designs -- from challenges and they help me be more productive since they give me a sort of jump start, plus a bit of motivation in the form of a deadline.

    I've liked the challenges so much, I've made up a few for myself for the year. They include:
    • Make a page inspired by something I've liked on Tumblr.
    • Make (at least one) page inspired by each of the eBooks I have bought from Ella Publishing Co. (I currently own five eBooks and have my eye on the latest one, Scrapbooking the Everyday, so it's time I do more than just look at them.)
    • Complete a layout challenge from a site other than Write.Click.Scrapbook. (I find so much inspiration from WCS, that I feel like a stalker sometimes, so I am forcing myself to branch out a bit.)
    • Make a page every day for one week (I love the idea of a layout a day for a month, but sometimes I like to aim low).
    • Make a home decor item using my scrapbook supplies.
    I'll share the results of my challenges as I complete them -- just one more way to keep me turning out layouts this year.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    How Many?

    In our family, we do a lot of travel by car. My husband and I are also map geeks who like to tally how many states we have visited, with a bit of friendly competition thrown in for good measure. I am proud of the fact that at 5 and 3, our sons have each visited 26 states, and I love the fact that they are learning to be excited about visiting a new state and finding them on maps.

    This layout has long been on my list to create. Hopefully we'll have at least one more to add this summer. (And I now realize I need to add the "as of" date to this page. Back to Photoshop!)

    States We Have Visited

    Paper: Katie Pertiet's Color Challenge 4-25-10 Paper Pack at; Fonts: Impact and American Typewriter

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    An Irish Blessing

    May the road rise up to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
    And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day!

    Wednesday, March 9, 2011

    St. Patrick's Day Print

    After seeing so many fun holiday printables on the web (and printing and using them to decorate for the Super Bowl and Valentine's Day), I decided to try them out myself. So here's my first attempt, in honor of celebrating our Irish heritage. You can see the 5x7 print here, and are welcome to print and enjoy it for yourself.

    St. Patrick's Day stirs up plenty of happy memories of times spent with my great-grandparents, and especially St. Patrick's Day dinners with them, in their house that was painted a light green, inside and out. My Great Nanny Sue and I were cozy companions, side by side at her big green kitchen table sipping tea.

    Here's to soda bread, leprechauns and the wearing of plenty of green next week!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011

    A Weekend Captured in Photos

    As I played with the Instagram app over the weekend, a page started forming in my mind, something like this collage page from Ali Edwards that I had marked in my Tumblr site last week.

    The square Instagram photos lend themselves to a grid layout easily, and the filtered effect ties them all together. I wanted to keep everything else very simple, but did find the gray flourishes in a free kit I downloaded from Persnickety Prints over the weekend.

    I really like having a whole weekend summarized like this in a series of photos on a page. It's my tiny take on projects like a Photo a Day for a Year. I know I could never keep up with recording a year, but I like to have little random samples sprinkled into my albums.

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Quotes Were Flying Tonight!

    Tonight the boys were full of funny comments. From the time I picked up Robby, to our conversation once we picked up Joey about U.S. presidents, and all through dinner, they were unwittingly popping out  one-liners. I had to jot them down as soon as we got home.

    R: I'm planning a surprise party for you. I'm going to invite your whole family and my whole family. (I find it interesting to think that my family and his family are different.)

    J: We are getting smarter than you because we go to school and you go to work.

    R: I prayed for you at school today Mommy because you gave me a haircut.

    J: I prayed for you at school today too because... I like your hutch. (Interesting reason.)

    R: Some day I will be the mayor and rule the whole city!

    Coincidentally, on this day of prolific quotable quotes from the boys, Cathy Zielske had a post on her blog all about capturing quotes. I had read it earlier, and I'm sure that helped me be more in tune to their comments, so it may not entirely be a coincidence. But these are the kinds of quotes I so often want to capture. I think they are a sort of slice of life in miniature -- tiny little snippets of the boys' personalities and ponderings. I love the mini album Cathy shares in her post, and after tonight, I think I need to work on one of those myself.

    Sunday, February 27, 2011

    Anticipating Spring

    After all the snow days, gray skies, chilling winds and rain, this weekend we had two lovely days here in Connecticut. It was the kind of February weekend that reminds you that spring will eventually make its arrival, though there's no guarantee that its arrival won't be delayed by another snow day or two. Saturday morning we took advantage of the sunshine to let the boys ride their bikes at the beach. I took the opportunity to play with the Instagram app on my new iPhone.

    Couldn't resist another trip to the beach in this beautiful weather.
    When Sunday turned out to be equally sunny and even warmer, we headed to the beach again at the end of the day. This time we walked down to the water's edge so the boys could throw shells in. This didn't last long though, since my littlest one can't be near water without getting himself into it. It took him less than five minutes to walk right in, getting his shoes, socks and the bottom of his pants wet. I guess he may be anticipating spring with even a little more excitement.

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    I Love Reading

    I had several little notes for this journaling sitting around for probably 2 years or more, just waiting to be made into a page. With some motivation from Lisa Ottosson on Write.Click.Scrapbook. this week to get stories about myself into my albums, I sat down and wrote. I got my husband to take the photo of me with my 32-year-old book, and got the page finished. It felt good to tell this about myself, and I'd like to imagine that some day my sons will enjoy this insight into child-me.

    [Yellow heart digital paper from "You Are Awesome" digital kit from Crystal Wilkerson. Fonts: Hobo Std, Bell Gothic Std and Century Schoolbook.]

    Since my love of reading has continued all these years, there are probably several other stories I could tell about this obsession of mine -- my current favorite books, how I have re-read those childhood faves as an adult, looking forward to introducing my sons to the Harry Potter book series, my oldest son and I sharing a love of Peter Pan. Okay, so I could write a whole book about my love of books, and that's just books, there's birthday parties, family picnics, family traditions, sports I played and more that I could include. I think that just goes to show how much opportunity there is for telling more about ourselves in our scrapbook pages. There is so much I want to remember about each and every day with my family, but I realize that I want to tell something of my very own story in my albums too.

    On a side note, I should really thank the ladies at Write.Click.Scrapbook for so much inspiration lately. I have been making more pages, more regularly, and a large part of that momentum has been due to the challenges and inspiration from Write.Click.Scrapbook this year.

    Saturday, February 19, 2011

    From Paper to Pixels

    It seems lately I'm finding more inspiration, and making more time to turn that inspiration into scrapbook pages, than usual. So far, 2011 has been a very productive scrapbooking year (not such a productive keep-the-house-clean year, but the dishes can always wait).

    This week, Rebecca Cooper hosted a Beginner Digi Week at Write.Click.Scrapbook with some added help (and free downloads!) from Creativity by Crystal. One of Rebecca's tips for getting started with digital scrapbooking is to use a paper layout for inspiration, something I'd never done. I had a story and photos in mind, and since they were 3 horizontal photos, I knew just the paper layout to copy.

    I love how the three 4x6 photos works so well in a line, especially to show a sort of progression -- this was the progression of a typical day with my sons. 

    The digital one I had in mind was the same idea -- the progression of a snow day at home.

    [Digital supplies: kraft background: Creativity by Crystal's "You Are Awesome" kit; striped paper: Crystal's Free December Papers pack; flair buttons: Crystal's Free December Flair; fonts: Century Gothic, Impact Label and Cooper Black]

    One of the great things about digital scrapbooking is that aside from never using up your supplies, there are so many great downloads available for free (thank you Crystal for these supplies!). Using free downloads really helps me decide what elements I'm more likely to use on my digital pages, so I can make better purchases -- like I think I love Crystal's happy colors and cute patterns, and probably need to go buy a paper pack today....

    Check out more digital inspiration with Crystal's papers and templates in the Write.Click.Scrapbook. Flickr group.

    Monday, February 14, 2011

    Loving Valentine's Day Crafts

    We crafted up a small storm of Valentine's Day projects this weekend -- class cards, teacher gifts, small tags for little surprises, and even some lunchbox love.

    Thanks to a scanner and Photoshop, my kindergartener only had to write the message once. I set the scanned writing into a heart in Photoshop, added some digital papers (from a free Christmas pack from Creativity by Crystal) and borders, and printed. Robby and I had a "race" to see who could cut out the most hearts. Then we worked assembly-style with me making the holes and sliding in the pencils and him adding tape to the backside. A nice team effort.
    Kindergarten Valentines

    Next up -- these cute waterbottles came as a pack from Target. I made a quick tag in Photoshop (thank you Jessica Sprague for the scallop shape) and Robby wrote them out for his teachers.
    Teacher Gifts

    For Joey's preschool teachers, I made up wrappers for Hershey bars. I made some extras and signed them from both boys so we can give them out to friends, cousins, and my grandmother.
    Teacher gifts

    I used that scallop tag in a few sizes for some extra notes to use around the house tomorrow, including as little flags on straws for their breakfast beverages.
    Happy Valentine's Day straws

    For tomorrow's lunches, I cut out their sandwiches with a heart-shaped cookie cutter, added a napkin love note and a few Valentine sprinkles with their cut up strawberries. I like to think of them enjoying the little extra special touches tomorrow when they open their lunchboxes.

    We also started and finished Robby's 100 days project, but since it uses a theme from a particular upcoming "green" holiday, we'll save that for another post.

    Wishing you much sweetness for Valentine's Day!

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Embracing My Imperfect Layouts

    I just started "Embrace Imperfection," a free class from Big Picture Classes with Karen Grunberg. It's all about getting rid of that voice in our heads telling us how to make "perfect" scrapbook pages, and just move on with making pages. Too often that voice prevents us from making pages that are true to our own style and story, or hinders us from making a page at all, because we are trying to do what we imagine is the "perfect page." While I fully believe there is no such thing as a perfect page, sometimes I can't help getting slowed down by that nagging voice.

    Her thoughts and the comments on the class message boards got me thinking about what I like and don't like about my pages. I have a few layouts that I have made mistakes on or wish I'd done differently, or whatever. But the story is still there, and life's too short to worry about doing pages over. I also console myself with the thought that it's unlikely my two sons are going to look through the albums and ever consider my poor choices of patterned paper, messy handwriting (still neat enough to read), crooked edges, out-dated embellishments, or whatever gets into my head about why a page is not perfect.

    So here are a few perfectly imperfect layouts that I love and should do more frequently....

    April '09
    April 09
    I love the idea of the photo a day projects, though I'd never manage to keep up with a full 365 days. Instead, I have done a few month-long versions and I really enjoy them. This is one of my most favorite layouts in all my albums. I like the variety of photos/stories that are captured here -- the mundane like my cube at work and my teapot and mug; a trip to the zoo that didn't get scrapped any place else yet; early spring flowers in our yard; and the random interests of my sons at that time -- garden hoses, umbrellas and popsicles. This captured a number of stories that might not have been documented otherwise and also provided a stash of photos to inspire individual layouts of their own.

    Love Note
    love note
    So many reasons to love this layout -- the sentiment of course and getting to use pink in the mass of boy-color pages. But as a layout, I like that it preserves a bit of everyday real life (aka the bits of paper that are collected all over my house). I like that I didn't include a photo and focused just on the note, and have started doing this more often with other bits of paper.

    I like to write. Words come easily for me. I often have trouble keeping my journaling short. But sometimes a quote says it all, in far fewer words. I could write volumes on my love of books, but this quote from Anna Quindlen sums up my thoughts perfectly and more succinctly than I could. With these 2 photos, you get a snippet of the bookcases in our home and a sample of the titles. The best part: this layout took me about 30 minutes to make!

    When I look through my albums,  I usually end up feeling pleased with my work. Sure there's still some nagging from that perpetual inner perfectionist, but seeing the stories, memories and photos all together puts the individual imperfect page into its proper perspective of the "big picture." And I'm looking forward to working on my next bit of imperfection.