Thursday, November 30, 2017

What's Going On

It is raining on this last day of November, and I'm sitting on my couch, taking a few moments out of what promises to be another busy-busy day, drinking a mocha, and thinking about the beginning of December and all the festivities of the upcoming holidays. I cannot enumerate the number of times I've been wanting to sit down and restart this blog this year, but each and every time I've thought, "I am going to start blogging again," something has interfered with my intention.

That doesn't make me happy.

So...here I am. Committing to myself that before I dive into the task list on my table today, I'm going to catch up with myself and with my blog and share what's been going on with me in 2017...just as the year begins to draw to its close. I invite you to pull up a chair, sip something yummy, and catch up with me.


The Eyes Have It



Probably the thing that shaped my life in 2017 more than almost anything else was the trouble I had with my eyes/vision. The short version: it's really important for glasses with progressive lenses to be crafted with precision. My first pair were not, and after a lot of misery and frustration and doctor appointments, I've finally reached the point where I can see, mostly without the eye strain and discomfort that kept me from doing as many of the things (like blogging) that I like to do.


Political Engagement



Another thing that has shaped my life this year was the political landscape. While I have always paid some attention to politics, I felt the results of the 2016 election required me to be more engaged politically than ever before. The stakes seem so much higher, now. In January, I participated in the Women's March, along with my husband Daniel and our friend Shirley. I had never done anything like that before, and it was an empowering experience for me. We subscribed to the online version of the Washington Post, and I started listening to the podcasts produced by Crooked Media. I also watch much more news on TV than I ever have, feeling the need to be informed about what's going on in government.


Awesome Opportunity



2017 was the year I began helping with The Awesome Ladies Project, a website and program for scrapbooking with a strong feminist focus. My new adventure began with answering a call for the Awesome Ladies Community team, and I was absolutely delighted to be invited to be on that team for 6 months, helping to grow the Awesome Ladies community. The weekend of my birthday, I went to the Awesome Ladies Live retreat in East Lansing, met some incredibly creative women to talk about feminist scrapbooking, telling our stories, committing to our own creative lives, and we made stuff.

It was one of the best experiences of my life. Happy birthday to me!

Later this year, I sent an email to rukristin, who created the Awesome Ladies Project, telling her that I wanted to help in any capacity she needed. Since then, I've been going to East Lansing once a week, and it is meaningful, fulfilling work that makes me so happy.


Travels



For Daniel's birthday, we went to Pennsylvania to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright House, Fallingwater. Daniel has been interested in Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture for awhile, and he works in a building that was inspired by Wright's work. Getting to see the house that incorporated a water fall into its design, the artistry of it, was spectacular. I loved it, and so did Daniel, and we enjoyed the surrounding landscape, as well.



For our annual anniversary vacation, Daniel and I chose to visit Niagara Falls and then New England. The Falls were more spectacular than I realized; photos simply cannot capture the sheer grandeur, the volume of water, the height and depth and majesty of it. We got to see both the American and Canadian Falls. We did both boat tours. We got thoroughly soaked because those plastic ponchos they give you are no match for that spray from the falls that feels a lot like a good, hard rain.



New England was just as awesome in different ways. We stayed in a hotel in Chicopee, Massachusetts, then took day trips to Vermont and New Hampshire, Boston, and Connecticut and Rhode Island. The Freedom Trail in Boston and the beach in Naragansett were my favorites, but the whole trip was just so much fun. Being with Daniel always is, but getting to see so many things I'd never seen before made it a memorable week.


At Long Last - 2014 Documented!

I can't help but mention that I finally, finally finished scrapbooking the year 2014, including our trip to Florida and our trip to Northern Michigan. Completing those projects, having the entire year of 2014 finished, feels really good.


Right Now



Reading: Mostly articles online, though as my eyes continue to get better, I'm definitely feeling the urge to read all the books stacked up on my shelf

Watching: My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is freakin' hilarious.

Learning: How to grow old gracefully? (I hope.)

Planning: Things to do during December to savor our holiday season.

Working: Organizing our photos from vacation.

Buying: Presents! 'Tis the season!

Drinking: Coffee (always!). Seasonal beer from Sam Adams, especially.

Missing: Our walks at County Farm Park. Throughout the summer and into the fall, Daniel and I were walking the trails at the park almost daily, but with darkness falling earlier, just around the time Daniel gets off work, we're not able to do that anymore, and I definitely miss it.

Enjoying: Having lots of things that were on my to-do list for quite a long time, done! Especially the dentist!

What's Next

I'm looking forward to the holiday season, the celebration. A new year, the year I turn 50, new experiences, new lessons. A new word to incorporate into my life.


So. That's what's going on with me. What's new in your life? What are some of the things that you've experienced in 2017 that have made you happy? What were your struggles? What's coming up for you as one year ends and the next begins? Leave me a comment!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Documenting Autumn 2014

Lately, I've been working on scrapbooking photos from autumn of 2014, using supplies from my gigantic autumn-themed kit I put together probably more than a year ago.

Here are my favorites:

Twelve Years Together


For this page about our anniversary dinner, I used a sketch from the Ready, Sketch, Go class by Tracie Claiborne and Jen Schow, modified to work with the background paper I chose. I used a Tim Holtz thinlits die to cut those scribbly hearts out of orange glitter paper, and I added sequins, punched leaves, and puffy hearts. Love!


Pumpkin Craft


For this page about my little Mommy and I decorating a little pumpkin together, I modified an 8.5 x 11 sketch from a Big Picture class to 12x12, having to add a few elements to make it work. I love the energy and fun of these Doodlebug patterned papers, as well as the K&Company pumpkins and, of course, that luscious yellow dot paper by Bo Bunny. Also can't help but love that smile my Mom's wearing. Such a sweet memory.


Snapshots of Fall


Another sketch, this one I've had a long time and probably downloaded from Pinterest. I've written many times about how much I love fall, and this page was to highlight some favorite photos of my favorite season. Supplies were mostly from an autumn collection by Carta Bella.


Found


One of my favorite pages I've done in a long time. I used watercolor paper as a background and did the "smooshing" technique with water, spray mist, and plastic packaging. I used some tissue papers as  a matte for the photo and bases for embellishment areas. A patterned paper from Bo Bunny finished off a layout I love, about a story that makes me really happy.


Autumn Smile


Another sketch from Pinterest, also modified to fit my purposes. I chose supplies from an Echo Park Paper collection, adding a title from Dear Lizzy and leaf die cuts I made myself, both colored with Distress spray stains and mica sprays. I love this photo, and I love the way this page turned out.


New Glasses


From another Ready, Sketch, Go sketch, I created this page with some somewhat disparate supplies that I think work okay together. I wanted to use mostly autumn-themed papers and embellishments, but I also really wanted to use the big chipboard glasses, which came from a My Mind's Eye chipboard sheet that was not fall-ish at all. Fortunately, I had some papers and die cuts from an American Crafts autumn collection a couple years ago that had some of that pink, as well as a little bit of that light turquoisey blue color, and it (mostly works). I like this layout, though it took a few days for it to "grow on me." It's good to stretch the creative comfort zone once in awhile, and this layout definitely did that for me.


Let's Party


Also from a Big Picture class sketch, a page about my Mom at a nursing home Hallowe-en party. Not a major story, really, but a wonderful picture of her and that wonderful smile she had. I used mostly Carta Bella supplies, except for the buttons, sequins, the Stampin' Up! cardstock photo matte, and the background paper, which was from the October Afternoon Saturday Morning collection and went really well with everything else I chose.


Note: sketches can really streamline the creative process, so definitely consider giving them a shot if you haven't already. Search Pinterest, sign up for Big Picture Classes or Ready, Sketch, Go. There's a new class coming up called Six Sketches, Six Ways you may also want to check out.

Scrapbooking the Difficult Times

Scrapbooking life's inevitable difficulties is a topic that has come up several times in my travels through the online scrapbooking community. As we all know from experience, life can be hard. Sometimes even kick-you-in-the-ass, drag-you-through-the-mud, hurricane-in-your-back-yard, hard. People we love get sick, we get sick. We have arguments with others. Relationships fail, fall apart. We get fired, hurt, betrayed. People die.

And because scrapbookers are storytellers, sometimes we want to document those difficult, heart-rending stories, too, for a number of reasons. To work through the feelings, to tell how we survived, to present a real picture of our lives, to chart our own growth, or for reasons we can't necessarily put into words.

We just need to tell those hard stories sometimes.

For me, the year 2013 was defined by my nephew's leukemia diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Talk about hurricane in the back yard! The impact of the reality my husband and I faced as we absorbed the shock of his illness and his long journey toward recovery was definitely hurricane force. When the worst was over (or we thought it was), I came face-to-face with a decision: did I want to include the hardest times of that year in my scrapbooks? And if the answer was yes, the next question was, how? I went back and forth before finally deciding that because the entire year was shaped by my nephew's health crisis and my role as his caregiver, to exclude it would leave a gigantic gap in my scrapbook pages.

I gave the question of how a lot of thought, too, and decided on simplicity of design and mostly soft blue tones, using elements that I felt reflected my own feelings about what happened. Thankfully, I journaled profusely during my countless hours in hospital waiting rooms, so I had many of the details of the stories I wanted to tell already recorded.

That record served my scrapbooking well.

Today, I'm sharing four pages I created about this difficult time in my life. The first serves as an introduction and doesn't contain a photo.

Leukemia


I printed the title in a large font to be a focal point of this page, as well as a statement of impact. I also printed a definition of the word, as a point of reference and a design element. The typed portion is excerpted from my journal, and the handwriting was my current perspective when the page was created.


3 Days In


I took a photo from my nephew's hospital room and used it on this layout about how things were going three days into his treatment. Again, the journaling is from my typed journal. I used four bits of the same patterned paper and three arrow embellishments on the light blue background, adding a little interest to another text-heavy page.


ICU 2013


For this page, I used a brochure we were given as a focal point, including both typed journaling from the record I kept during the experience, as well as handwritten journaling that provided the more current perspective.


This Happened


For this more recently created page, I kept to my muted color scheme of mostly blues, with just a little pop of light yellow to coordinate with the mask I included as a focal point element. I used the Tough stamp set by Ali Edwards and embellished with butterflies, which mean transition and hope to me.

The telling of this story is far from complete. I have several pages planned to document the rest of 2013, and I have more to tell about leukemia coming back, my nephew's second bone marrow transplant, and his continuing recovery.

When I look at these pages, as well as the others I've done, and the photos that haven't made it onto scrapbook pages yet, I sometimes get emotional. I re-live those memories, those moments, and all the accompanying feelings, and I remember how hard it was and how my strength and stamina were tested, forged into steel through those difficult days.

I also feel a whole lot of gratitude that my nephew survived, against all odds, and he's creating a life for himself, hopefully never to deal with this terrifying disease again.

Documenting the bad times creates a whole narrative for my life, helps me see a bigger picture of how I've lived, who I am, what matters, and how unimaginably lucky I am every day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Layout Share - My Love

Lately, I've been working on scrapbook pages for my 2014 album, and this one is about my sweetheart and how he is always there for me.

My Love


I used a sketch from this class by Jen Schow and Tracie Claiborne, which I highly recommend, and the supplies are from the last bits of a little kit I put together with papers and embellishments from Jilliebean Soup and Shimelle for American crafts.

Sketches + kits + a great subject make scrapbooking easier and more fun than it already is!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Currently Me Mini-Album

I spent my (inter)National Scrapbooking Weekend fighting off a cold virus, resting in the recliner, and wishing my physical energy matched my creative motivation, augmented by all the inspiration online. Yesterday, I felt well enough to start on eight challenges from the Awesome Ladies Project's NSD online crop, creating a Currently Me mini-album, which I finished today.

I started with the Awesome Ladies Currently Me kit, and I added letter stickers, a package of puffy stickers by Fancy Pants, three colors of Distress ink, black Archival ink by Ranger, several Story Stamp sets by Ali Edwards, a few bits and pieces from the odds and ends dish on my table, and a length of camera ribbon given to me by my friend Sandi.


That camera card being so adorable, I used it for my front cover:



I also used two letters from a package of Thickers to add some pizzazz to the title.

And here are the pages of the mini album:

Name/Date/Place


Watching


Reading


Listening


Making


Feelings


Planning


Loves



Generally, my tastes run in a different direction from the graphic style of these supplies, but I wanted to challenge myself to use this kit, stretch my color/style comfort zone a bit. It took just a few hours to put this project together, including the taking and printing of photos, and I had such a blast working on it. I love how it turned out.

Big thanks to the Awesome Ladies Project for the online crop, inspiration, and challenges that lead to me documenting some current details of my life.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Happy iNSD and a Layout

Today is (inter)National Scrapbook Day, and I had the grandest intentions of participating in a few challenges, even though I was feeling under the weather. As it happened, whatever virus is flitting around my body stole all of my energy, and I couldn't do any crafting today.

Fortunately, I still have a layout to share from a couple of weeks ago.

Hello, Adventure: You and Me Together


These two pages tell the story of an adventure I had with my Mom back in 2014. With other folks from the nursing home, we visited a beautiful park and got to embark on a boat ride that took us around a lake with lots of beautiful scenery. Mom was a great lady, always up for some fun, and this is a happy memory of her, of us spending time together, that makes me smile.

Here are views of the individual pages:





Here's hoping I'll be back with some newer creations tomorrow.

Happy iNSD!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Getting Artsy


I created this layout a few weeks ago, after I'd made the little hydrangea embellishments from a stamp and distress stains, and then the three tags. I also tried the cellophane "smoosh" technique on the background, and though I was a bit unsure of the result, it ended up working for me.

As a scrapbooker for about 11 years, now, I'm still exploring and developing my style. Playing with colors and mediums and making my own embellishments is what I'm really into right now, what I hope to do a whole lot more in 2017.