Monday, January 15, 2018

One Little Word - 2018

Every year for about the last ten, I've been participating in some fashion in the One Little Word adventure created by Ali Edwards. Although every word I've chosen has not been a great success, I have learned so much about myself in the process of choosing and working with a single word each year. The words I've chosen, in no particular order, were joy, organize, focus, write, solace, me, time, and create. For some of those, I did almost nothing besides choose a word; with some, I worked regularly on prompts in Ali's class, which I found more rewarding than simply choosing a word I didn't think much about for the rest of the year.

2017's One Little Word

Last year's word was create, and I had a fair amount of success with it, though I admit it was less action-inspiring than I originally thought when I chose it in early 2017. My main intention for this word was to be more creative in my daily life--to create more generally, but also to take a more active role in my life, rather than being a sort of passive observer.

I was successful in that endeavor in several ways, and I created a lot of scrapbook pages, finally finishing the Florida vacation album from 2014, completing the October vacation album from that same year, and wrapping up the 2014's yearbook as well. I also made great progress on 2015, which I hope to finish in early this year.

Choosing 2018's Word

As last year began its descent towards December, I started thinking about what I wanted in my life for 2018, and one word kept swimming to the top of my mind.

This year, I will turn 50.

I still have to let that sink in!

I've always wanted to "grow old gracefully," but I admit, the prospect of this particular milestone has caused me some emotional turbulence. And the truth is, grace is simply not the energy I need to successfully proceed through this particular transition.

I need to be strong, resilient, passionate, energized, and brave.

I need to be, in One Little Word, FIERCE.

And so, that is the word I have chosen to guide me through 2018, a word that encompasses all of those other words and more, as I cross the finish line of my forites, and begin the journey into my fifties.

So Far, So Good

I wasn't going to take Ali's class this year, but I changed my mind. I know that I could work with previous class content myself, create my own project, but I also know that I will be more likely to do the work on a monthly basis if I pay for the class. I also bought some supplies from Ali's shop, including the pink album and the main kit. I hope to share my progress with the album as I go.

And I've watched the class videos and begun work on the prompts. Keeping a One Little Word journal has worked well for me in the past, so I'm continuing that practice. I set up a Pinterest board for my word, as I've done in previous years, and I've discovered some amazing quotes already. 

Working with this word so far, it's been quite abundantly obvious that I made the right choice for me, for this year. (I also have an idea of how to augment my One Little Word class work by selecting some fierce women to feature in my album somehow, but more on that as I develop the idea.)

I'm super excited to see where FIERCE takes me this year and how my life is influenced by the choice to develop my own fierceness in the months to come.

What about you? What's your word for 2018?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

2017 Awesome Ladies Project Album

Doesn't it feel great to complete a project? I mean, I love the process, too, but finishing a project makes me feel such a sense of satisfaction.

On Friday, I finished my 2017 Awesome Ladies Project album, admittedly a little late, but I'm so happy with the finished pages. Early in the year, I chose a mini album with a variety of page bases by Dear Lizzy to contain my layouts, one topic per month, and I put together a kit of supplies, based on a Dear Lizzy collection full of lovely pastel colors, including one of my favorite shades of purple. I added some other bits and pieces to give myself a wider selection of embellishments, and I created some unity by scattering those throughout the album.

The Intro Pages

The page on the left is an acrylic stripe, and I layered all kinds of die cuts, most from Elle's Studio, and a ticket I punched from patterned paper. In the album, the left page lays on top of the right pocket page, the introduction to the album, which also contains some puffy camera stickers by Freckled Fawn which pop up again and again.

January - Right Now

For this topic, all about my right-now life at the beginning of 2017, I did a fair amount of writing, probably more than for any of ther other pages. I love that I had an "I Love Right Now" journaling card to use! The photo is a mirror selfie, part of the challenge for this month, and the canvas page on the right adds a great texture background.

February - Favorites

For simplicity's sake, I chose just one favorite for this topic--coffee--though I am drinking out of my favorite cup in the photo, so I suppose that counts as two. I so love that background patterned paper! And I liked including so many different kinds of embellishments on this page.

March - Routine

A simple little pocket page for this topic, all about a daily routine that changed when my husband took a different job. Without this prompt, I might not have documented this part of our daily life that is so very different, now, and I'm glad I did.

April - Weather

Three different photos, all in the month of April, three different kinds of weather. That's Michigan for you, and spring is a time when the weather can be all over the place. I used the yellow patterned paper on the right side page to echo the bright sunshine in that photo, as well as coordinate with the forsythia in the #2 photo on the left. I did go a little astray with the color scheme to include that fabric frame, but I think it works, and I like how there's both coordination and contrast between the two pages, just like the contrast between the weather on three different April days.

May - Family

The page on the right is another patterned acrylic page, and at first, I didn't have that pink polka dot patterned paper (say that three times fast!) there. But while I liked the placement of the journaling card, the gap looked odd, both on the front and back, so I added paper. I also went back and forth on whether to add anything to that strip, deciding to go simple and leave it blank. It is a lovely color, I think.

June - Travel

The left side being the back of the previous page, the same thing goes with that strip of paper. Originally, I thought I might use it for journaling, but I decided the right page would be plenty of room for the story of a special weekend trip I took to East Lansing, Michigan, for my birthday last year.

July - Home

I think this was the only topic that prompted two stories, and I decided to go with it and tell them both.

August - Outdoors

Originally, I only had two photos selected for this story about one of my favorite outdoor places where I spent a lot of time in 2017. But then I decided to add that photo of me with that contented smile that expresses my feelings about this lovely park. I only had one O left in the package of Thickers I used for the title, so I used zeros instead. I also used a hashtag and period from that set as embellishments on the right side page.

September - Read

Of all the layouts, this one is my favorite. I used an rukristin stamp to create the labels for journaling (I used the same stamp on the August layout, too.) Since my personal story about reading in 2017 had to do with my struggle with progressive lenses, I included two glasses stickers, though one of those may be hard to see--it serves as the shelf on which the title is situated. Have I mentioned how much I love that floral patterned paper? And the purple, of course. I love that color of purple. I did have to use an older Stampin' Up! marker as ink to stamp the labels, as I didn't have any other ink that matched.

October - Self

The content for October prompted the most ideas. There are so many stories I want to tell about me, which is a good thing. But because I chose a photo of myself from a trip my husband and I took for our 15th anniversary last October, me on the beach in Naragansett, Rhode Island, I decided to focus on just one story semi-related to the photo. (There will be many other albums to contain all those stories!) I chose patterned papers reminiscent of the sea, and the yellow heart paper as a hint of autumn. I think this is my second favorite layout.

November - Food

Okay, I had trouble with this page. That's why it looks so oddly shaped in the photo. I didn't have enough of either patterned paper to span the whole 6x8 canvas, so I had to use strips, and when I adhered the patterned papers down, somehow, the card stock backing got curled. I don't think I could do that again if I tried, but I couldn't really find a way to fix it. I just brayered it to get as much of the curl out as I could and stubbornly soldiered on.

I also used an rukristin stamp on this page, one from the Currently List set. The sentiment on the cork piece goes along nicely with the story about how I made Thanksgiving more enjoyable by going out to eat with my husband and my nephew, rather than forcing myself to cook the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Honestly, though there are things I like about this page, it's probably my least favorite.

December - Tradition

This one, I love. Kind of a monochrome scheme with just a little bit of color in the puffy sticker and the enamel hearts. I used that same rukristin stamp to create the labels for journaling, and I love that gold star vellum in the background, how the stars echo the lights in the photo. This was a story that didn't make it into my Journal Your Christmas album this year, but perfectly rounded out my Awesome Ladies Project.

Overall, this was a fun and meaningful album of stories that came together easily (for the most part). I liked having a kit to work from, though I admit it was a challenge to create autumn-flavored pages for October and November with the pastel papers and embellishments I chose. I like challenges, though, because that's how I stretch my creativity and grow my skills in telling my stories, my way.

Please take a few moments to check out the Awesome Ladies website. Kristin creates amazing, inspiring content that will definitely make you want to tell your stories your way, and there's a whole community of support there, too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Welcome, 2018!

In my last post, I caught up on what had been going on the second half of 2017. December was a whirlwind, as always, with the holidays in full swing and all the activities Christmas revelry entails.

Holidays, my darlings, are hard work.

That being said, I had a blast this year. Daniel and I decided to stay home and return to some of our Christmas traditions that we missed in 2016 because we traveled to be with extended family. Our nephew joined us for the festivities, and it was a sweet, cozy, quiet holiday we all three enjoyed.

And then...a New Year to ring in! 2018. Hard to believe, though I say that every single year. Sometimes, almost always, it staggers me how quickly time passes, even while I intend (and often succeed) in savoring moments so that time doesn't drag me so quickly forward.

I scribbled a poem (if we can agree that entering text into the Notes app on my iPhone can be referred to as "scribbling') on December 15th that relates to my feelings on time. Take a look:


Time Reflected

Time pretends
to move
at the same pace
equi-distant chase
around the empty space
between then
and now
and then again.

Time feels
like flying back and forth
among memories
and moments
and all the things you thought
you’d do and never did.

Time lies
not only between
the plans you make
and their fruition,
or hopeless lack
but also in
the vague flash
of what happened,
and the flicker of
what could have been…

…and what is.


It's been a LONG time since I wrote anything remotely creative, so it's creaky, I admit. But it did feel good to have creative inspiration tug at me, even in the midst of all the hustle-bustle of holiday preparation. And I'm proud of myself for taking a couple minutes to listen to inspiration and jot down those words swirling in my mind. It's one of the ways my One Little Word--CREATE--manifested itself in real effect.

In these early days of this New Year, as 2018 gets off the ground, I am excited and full of great expectations of the year ahead.

What's going on for you in 2018?

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. 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.


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.


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.


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!