Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Currently - September 2015

I was inspired by this post at The Papercraft lab to document what's currently going on in my life as September departs.

Listening - Lately, I've been listening a lot to Sara Bareilles songs. My current favorite is "Chasing the Sun," which has become a theme song for this year, connected to my One Little Word, happy. I also listen to my nephew tell me about his video game adventures, particularly the new DLC (that's "downloadable content") for a game called Destiny. He's been connecting with people online through the xBox One interface, and I often hear him talking to those new friends, and it makes me smile that he's making connections like that, especially because it means that he's feeling good. Also...listening a lot to the breath of autumn breezes through the trees that are turning all kinds of lovely colors as my favorite season gets underway. Love this time of year so much!

Reading - The other day at Target, I picked up the newest book by Jenny Lawson (the Bloggess) called Furiously Happy. I read about a third of it on Monday, and I don't recall ever laughing that hard or that much. Tears were leaking out of my eyes, I was laughing so hard, and there are also serious passages in the book that spoke to me. I've also been reading a book called Flat Rock Journal by Ken Carey that has been sitting on my books shelf for years. Recently, I went through my book collection and packed many up in a box for giveaway, and I put the ones I haven't read on two cleared off shelves, thinking (hoping?) I'll get to them more readily that way. From that stack, I also selected a book called How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor. I started reading that yesterday, and it's fascinating, particularly how little a long-time Star Wars fan like me knew about the origins of these beloved movies.

Eating - Two nights this week, I actually cooked dinner, which hasn't happened in a long, long time. I'm not a big fan of cooking to start with, and because of all the stress in our lives, we've been doing a lot of eating out or taking out or foraging in the cabinets for whatever might be available that resembles sustenance. Awhile back, Daniel and I started eating salads three or four times a week, and we're trying to get back into that habit. Oh, and chocolate. Especially M&M Almonds because, hey, almonds are nuts, and nuts are good for me, so yummy AND nutritious. Two birds. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Nobody's doctor needs to know...

Loving - My husband, Daniel. I mean, of course! But we've been married almost thirteen years, and I continue to be daily amazed at how lucky I am to have found this amazing man. I remember thinking that I couldn't possibly love him more than I did at that moment, only to have the love I feel for him grow even more. These last few years, we've been through hurricane after hurricane in our lives, and he and I just cling to each other and stand against all that wind and turbulence and devastation. I am so grateful. Just so thoroughly awestruck and grateful for him and for the life we create together and the solace I find in his love for me.

Also loving the delectable fall weather we're enjoying here in Michigan right now. The new Starbucks drink, toasted graham latte: yum! Cropping with new friends at the local scrapbook store. I started going to crops a few weeks ago, and this group of women reached out to me, welcomed me into their circle. We share our lives, and we admire each other's creativity, and we laugh and laugh and laugh together.  Lucky me.

Working On - Oh, that list is long and distinguished! I'm continuing to work on making writing a habit, perhaps even a spiritual practice, and I'm working on staying in the moment, the now, more. I'm encountering the concept of mindfulness a lot lately, and it's something that the experts on happiness say contributes greatly to being happy, as well as reducing those things that detract from happiness. I'm working on finding motivation and time to tackle some big projects, including a huge clean out of our garage, which I hope to complete before winter arrives. The difficult part will be going through my mother's stuff, sorting through her belongings, deciding what to keep and what to do with those things, and what to let go of and how to best do that. For several months, I've been working on cleaning out our house just to eliminate clutter that's been growing since we moved in nine years ago. We also may be moving before too long, so I want to be prepared for that.

Contemplating - As I wrote about in this post a couple days ago, I've been thinking a lot about my memory-keeping process and how I might want to change my focus to more meaningful stories, particularly from the past, rather than the everyday life variety. Not that the details of daily life aren't important, but they get preserved in other ways. I'm thinking about what's next for me, as my nephew continues to improve, and my caregiving responsibilities become fewer. What have I always wanted to do? What new dreams do I want to pursue? Those are the things that are rolling around in my head.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shifting Focus

Lately, I've been doing a lot of thinking about scrapbooking, specifically how many projects I have going, how much scrapbooking I want to do, how much actually gets done.

Lately, doing all that thinking, I have been overwhelmed.

When I first began scrapbooking, preserving the memories of both my weddings (to the same wonderful man, long story) was at the top of my priorities list. That was about ten years ago, and I have completed maybe three or four pages related to the first wedding. The project that has always been important to me, the memories I started scrapbooking to preserve, keep being set aside for other projects.

At the same time, I feel overwhelmed by the volume of everyday scrapbooking I'm trying to do. As of this writing, I've just begun pages about April of 2014, and I'm about one fifth done with scrapbooking a long-awaited vacation my husband and I took to Florida in the summer of 2014. At the beginning of 2015, I planned to give Project Life a try, and I don't think I completed more than a few spreads, although part of the reason for that is how difficult a year it's been, and the fact that I've had to talk myself into scrapbooking it at all.

I have several projects in various states of completion, including projects from classes I took as many as three years ago. There are mini-books, too, that I've planned, started, not finished.

So, yeah. Completely overwhelmed.

I feel stalled. I feel like scrapbooking has become something to "get done," rather than something to enjoy doing. As I've been writing about in the past few blog posts, I created a stamping challenge for September, not only to get more of the great stamps I have used, but also to reinvigorate my scrapbooking process since I really love to include stamping on scrapbook pages. Instead of inspiring me, it's mostly made me feel pressure to create, and that increases the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Not what I want in a hobby, the activity that's supposed to be a haven from all the stress and turbulence life happens to bring.

I've also been thinking a lot about the stories I actually want to tell, not only about my wedding(s), but about the relationship that led up to that (those) wonderful day(s). How I met the man I chose, how we fell in love, the challenges and triumphs we've encountered along the way, the story of us and why it's my favorite story EVER. Classes I've taken from Noell Hyman and Shimelle Laine have inspired me to dig deeper when it comes to storytelling with paper and photos, and it feels like that's not happening the way I'm currently doing things. I feel like I'm rushing through the process to get to the completed product, and there's nothing whatsoever wrong with that kind of scrapbooking, except it is not fulfilling me. I feel like I'm creating a glorified, multi-volume photo album that's not as meaningful as I want it to be.

Four months ago, I signed up for the monthly stamp subscription from Ali Edwards, which comes with monthly content, and I've often thought, while watching her videos for each month, this is the kind of storytelling about myself and my life I want to do. This!

The details of daily life matter, and I want those captured, but I need to find some kind of balance so that everything else doesn't get lost in the shuffle of trying to keep up with the timeline of the now. I also really want to tell stories about then, the past, my childhood, my parents, especially now that they're both gone, my teenage years, early adulthood, the choices I made and why I made them.

I want to curate the stories I tell with more selection and concentration, a lot less urgency to get the story told, quickly-quickly-quickly because there's just too much to DO to spend time on this ONE story!

That is not all.

These thoughts are rolling around in my head, so I'm sharing them here. I'm not sure just yet what steps I'm going to take to shift my focus, but it's coming. Hopefully soon.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stamping Challenge - Set Number Five

For the month of September, I've been conducting my own personal 30 in 30 Stamping Challenge, outlined in this post, and the fifth set I used was Thinking of You by Penny Black:

1. Quintessentially Livvie Layout

For this page about my niece and her very cool personality, I used the leafy border stamp and the butterfly from this set. The buttons are from Stampin' Up!, and the enamel hearts from Pebbles. The enamel dots are from Doodlebug. Everything else is from Simple Stories.

2. Tags

I was in the mood to play with ink and techniques, so I created these two tags, using two different stamps from the set.

Here are details for each one:

The brand new Distress color, Wilted Violet? SO gorgeous! I love the way it mixes with Mermaid Lagoon and Broken China. I used two different background stamps to add texture, Print Pattern and French Script from Stampin' Up!, the latter with silver Distress paint. Glitter stickers from Heidi Swapp add even more shimmer, and the sentiment sticker is from Teresa Collins. The enamel dots come from Doodlebug. So much fun creating this tag--though I confess, it was the second version; the first one was an epic fail. Version two? Love it!

This one uses a color combo of Distress inks that I stumbled upon accidentally when I was testing out colors to coordinate with another project. Those colors are Tumbled Glass, Broken China, and Barn Door. I stamped one of the images from this stamp set a couple times in red on the top of the tag, then embossed it in black in the middle. Three butterfly stickers, some enamel dots from Queen and Company and some red gems, along with a bit of Heidi Swapp mist in gold round out this tag that will be perfect for a card or a layout or...?

3. Thinking of You Card

For this card, which I created for a friend of my Mom's I've been writing to, I used the border stamp, the sentiment stamp, and the daisy stamp. I stamped the image in Archival ink from Ranger, colored with markers, then watercolored the backgrounds with Distress ink. I REALLY dig the result! A couple of doilies and some sequins bring it all together. I think my pen pal will be delighted.


So...with four days of the month left, I've only completed half of my projects, though there are two more in progress right now. Wonder how many more I can finish before September is behind us...

Stamping Challenge - Set Number Four

The stamping challenge continues with the fourth set I used, a fall-themed one from Stampin' Up! called For All Things:

1. Happy Birthday Card

First up, a birthday card for my best friend, another idea inspired by a card I saw on SplitCoastStampers. I used four of the stamps from the set and borrowed the sentiment from another set I chose for this challenge, Butterfly Basics. I rarely make cards anymore, and I send them even more rarely, but this one got into the mail as soon as I took the photo to share. Yay!

2. Autumn Pocket Card Set

My second project with this stamp set is this set of five pocket scrapbooking cards, using almost all of the stamps, along with some stickers from the Simple Stories Sweater Weather collection, a sentiment stamp from a Technique Tuesday stamp, and a sprinkle of gold spray mist from Heidi Swapp. Love!

3. Welcome Autumn Art Journal Page

Along with the leaf and sprig stamps, I used one of the sentiment stamps from the set for this art journal page about how much I enjoy the arrival of my favorite season. Dylusions spray mist created the bright yellow background, and I made use of some Tim Holtz stencils, as well as some old rub-ons and stickers from a kit of autumn-themed supplies I assembled a couple years ago. The finishing touch, a thick pen drawn border around the page. Happiness.

Next up, set number five!

Stamping Challenge - Set Number Three

The third set I used in my stamping challenge was Work of Art by Stampin' Up!:

And these are the projects I created with these stamps:

1. Rockin' the Nu-Step Layout

For this one, I used the border stamp to create...well, a border with colors I matched to some stickers and patterned paper cuts from Echo Park Paper, and I used the heart stamp to accent one of those cut pieces. Several stickers and enamel dots, and Basic Grey letters for the title finish up this page.

2. Date Night Layout

Another card I saw at SplitCoastStampers inspired me to use the heart stamp in this set to create banners for this page, also adding a few hearts as accents. I won't lie: cutting out all those stamped hearts was a bit laborious, but the result made me happy. The Simple Stories patterned paper, part of My Own Kit-April 2014, provided my color scheme, which coordinated well with my photos. I used letter stickers from the same Simple Stories collection (also part of my kit) and some buttons and stickers and enamel dots, and I finished it all up with Distress spray stain.

3. Coloring With Markers Layout

This one was a lot of fun. The Basic Grey patterned paper on the left was my jumping off point, and I coordinated inks to make my own patterned paper background for the right side of the page, using one of the brush stroke stamps and the heart stamp. I also stamped and cut out a couple of hearts for embellishments, and colored some white letter stickers for part of the title. A couple of stickers, some gems and epoxy hearts, and doilies peeking out from behind the matted photos complete a layout that is bright and colorful and makes me oh-so-happy.

Stamping Challenge - The Second Set

The next set in my 30 in 30 Stamping Challenge, September 2015, is the Watercolor set by Tim Holtz:

And here are the projects I created with this set:

1. Here We Go Layout

For this one, I stamped the border stamp of hearts on white card stock in green ink, then used a wet paintbrush to blur the ink just a little bit and give the image a more watercolored look. I used the bigger heart stamp as a background for the photo and journaling, and I added the title with Thickers and some Jilliebean Soup letter stickers. A whole bunch of hearts stamped on scraps of patterned paper and cut out, along with those Thicker hearts and some splatters of brown Glimmer Mist complete the page.

2. Autumn Reading Love Book

For my next project, I created this mini book to keep track of all the books I'm going to read this autumn. I used the heart stamps again, the bigger one for the circle on the cover, and both the large and the border stamps for some decoration of the pages, below.

The rest of the supplies for this little book came from a kit of autumn-themed supplies I collected awhile back, including papers from Doodlebug and a set of embellishments from Jolee's. I even managed to use up a couple pieces of ribbon. I can't wait to fill it up with book titles, maybe a photo or two!

3. Three Butterfly Pocket Cards

For these three cards, I used Distress markers, colored directly on the stamps, then spritzed with water and stamped on specialty stamping card stock. I had to do a lot of trial-and-error on this technique as it's not one I've done a lot, and I needed some practice before I got the result I wanted. I stitched on the cards with my sewing machine and added some word stickers, also from Tim Holtz. There's a story I want to tell about a day I went to one of my favorite parks and saw a monarch butterfly flitting about. I chose colors that would coordinate with those photos.

Next Up, set number three.

Stamping Challenge - The First Set

As I mentioned in this post at the beginning of the month, I challenged myself to create three projects with each of ten stamp sets in the 30 days of September.

Here is the first set, Butterfly Basics by Stampin' Up!:

And here are the projects I created:

1. Happy Layout

For this layout featuring my adorable mother, I used three of the stamps. One butterfly to create an embellishment, one as a border on the left side of the page and for the top and bottom of the photo, and the small butterfly as an embellishment and to add some pops of color. The rest of the supplies were from kits, and I used a set of die cuts by Maggie Holmes to cut the large flower and leaves.

2. Happy Birthday Card

While it is not a total "scrap lift," the inspiration for this card came from one I saw on SplitCoastStampers, and I liked the color scheme so much I used it on the second layout, too.

3. That Smile Layout

First, I created two 3x4 cards to pair with the photo, using three of the stamps in the set. I then created a butterfly embellishment by embossing with clear and just a pinch of glittery powder. (Unfortunately, that shimmer doesn't show in the photo, but in person, it looks awesome!) I added letter stickers for the title, some buttons, one small enamel dot, a little touch of pen work, and a sprinkling of gold mist.

Next up, set number two.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

30 in 30 Stamping - A Personal Challenge

30 in 30 Scrapbooking was a challenge I used to run that involved creating 30 Scrapbook layouts in 30 days, with no daily requirement. This was my own answer to daily scrapbooking challenges that, because of my specific circumstances, I had no chance of completing, leaving me feeling frustrated and defeated.

I could still complete a lot of pages in a month's time, but without trying to scrape together enough time and energy and daylight each day to complete a whole page. I could do 3 pages on 10 days or 5 pages on 6 days or even 15 pages in a weekend, and taking decent photos wasn't as hard to navigate--even the cloudy state of Michigan has a few days of sunshine in a month's time.

I haven't done that challenge in quite awhile, but recently, I decided it might be a good time to do it again, just for me. See, I love stamping, and I have a lot of stamps. I'm part of a Stampin' Up! hostess club, which means I typically order at least one stamp set each month, and I don't love those stamps just sitting on a shelf, not being used.

Recently, as I was going through my stash of supplies to sell the things I didn't want at a local scrapbook store garage sale, I was amazed at just how many wonderful stamps I have, and I was motivated to work on getting more of those stamps used in my paper-crafting projects.

So, I decided that this September, I'm going to personally challenge myself to select 10 stamp sets and use each one on three different paper-crafting projects. There's no per day requirement, just that I complete those thirty projects in the thirty days of September.

Think I can do it?

I'm pretty sure I can, and I am excited to give it a try.

Here are the 10 stamp sets I've chosen for my own personal 30 in 30 Stamping Challenge, September 2015:

1. Thinking of You by Penny Black - I bought this set when I visited a brand new (to me) local scrapbook store. I kept walking away and kept walking back, intrigued by how I could use those appealing images on my scrapbook pages.

2. Watercolor by Tim Holtz for Stampers Anonymous - I love the variety in this set, and while I have used it a little bit, I want to use it a whole lot more.

3. Carte Postale by Stampin' Up! - I've had this set, an old one, for a long time, and I've used it a lot for cards and little details on scrapbook pages. For me, this is a stamp set that sparks joy. I love it, and I want to use it even more.

4. Mixed Bouquet by Stampin' Up! - At that same LSS garage sale I mentioned, I found this set, only lightly used, and I think it was maybe $4.00. I remember liking it when it originally appeared in the Stampin' Up! catalog, but somehow, I never got around to purchasing it before it was retired. Now, I can't wait to play and explore the many, many possibilities! (That scribbly rose?? Adorbs!)

5. Butterfly Basics by Stampin' Up! - Just beautiful images and textures. I'm thinking pages about my sweet little Mommy would be a good place to use these.

6. Flower Patch by Stampin' Up! - I've seen some awesome things done with this set, and to add another level to the creativity, I also have the matching dies to make cutting out pieces and layering easy peasy!

7. For All Things by Stampin' Up! - The watercolor look appeals to me so much, and my favorite season is fall, so I'm going to have a lot of fun playing with this one.

8. Morning Cup by Stampin' Up! - No secret that I am a long time coffee lover. I bought this set because one of the sentiments made me laugh out loud. Literally. I don't think I've used it more than once, so I'm going to remedy that.

9. Work of Art by Stampin' Up! - Another set I've seen used in many creative ways, and I'm inspired to see how I can make it work.

10. Sheltering Tree by Stampin' Up! - As soon as I saw this set, I wanted it. Needed it. Still, it hasn't gotten much play in my paper-crafting life, so that's why it made the list.

I can hardly wait to get out the blocks and the ink and the paper and get started. I'll be sharing my projects as I complete them throughout the month of September.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Goodbye, August 2015

While July seemed to linger much longer than its thirty-one days, August seemed to fly by. I took a few minutes today to review the photos from the month and select some favorites.

1. On a trip to one of my favorite local parks, I saw this tattered red leaf lying on the ground. It reminded me how soon all the leaves will be turning as my favorite season arrives.

2. That same day, at a different park, I caught the dizzying spectacle of a monarch chasing flowers and captured several poses of her perched on a purple coneflower.

3. Just outside the office building where my husband works, this delectable hydrangea bloomed.

4. All the Legos! Throughout the month of August, I worked on a huge Lego-cleaning project. My nephew's Legos from his childhood needed to be cleaned and disinfected so that it's safe for him to handle them with his current health concerns. The goal was to get all of them clean and into his gigantic Lego bin by the end of August, and although that didn't happen, I did make a great deal of progress.

5. I'm often captivated by the play of light in the world around me. Here, sunlight shining through a tree, casting a lacy shadow on the cement walk.

6. In our house, it's almost an ongoing joke: we have too many cups. But when my husband and I were on date night, browsing through shops at our local mall, I saw this cup at Papyrus, and it had to come home with me. Already, it's become a new favorite.

7. A few minutes relaxing on the deck in the back yard, enjoying the cool summer morning. Sick with a virus that I did not want my nephew to catch, I wore the mask whenever I was going to be in close contact with him, taking it off when I was outside.

8. My husband and I were out for a drive in a lovely little rain shower, treated to a rainbow afterward.

9. In July I signed up for an online e-course/challenge called Write Yourself Alive. Not only did I write every day in August, I renewed my commitment to writing as practice and discovered truths about myself as a writer that will help me keep that commitment going forward.

10. Apples at Joe's Produce. I love apples, and I love the light bathing them. I love the implicit promise of apple picking in the orchard very soon.

11. On one of my evening walks around the neighborhood, I saw a whole lotta frogs! Little tiny frogs, one as little as a peanut shell, hanging out on the sidewalk. I had to be a little mindful not to step on them. Curious.

12. Us. Time together. Even just watching TV. Utter bliss. Always.

13. This letter I discovered in a box of my mother's greeting cards was written by her father to her when she was away for a week or so. She was 11. Discovered treasures like this make me so happy.

14. Goldenrod in our back yard. Up close. Every year, I see these bright yellow blossoms and know that summer is drawing to a close, and fall will be here soon.