Thursday, March 31, 2011

i.Scrap - the Perfectionism installment

i.Scrap is a project-based class taught by Stacy Julian that recently finished up over at Big Picture Classes.  All my pages are done, but I'm still working on the journaling.  So, to keep me motivated, I'm going to present you with the pages as I finish them!

To start with, I ordered an album from WeRMemoryKeepers.  On the website it said it was "olive".  Here is what I got:

Decidedly not olive.  More like super ugly brown.  Not to be thrown by the album, I altered...

much better!  Isn't it amazing what a little acrylic paint can do?!  Now you have a perfect representation of my HAPPY colors.  This also happens to be my very last sheet of TLC Peacock cardstock.  And since I can't get this any longer, will need to find a substitute for this color.

My title page.  Now here is the kicker with this project.  I used only SCRAPS.  Yes it's true - no full sheets of paper were harmed in the making of this album.  I dug into my scrap bits and found stuff to make do for each and every page!  Which also means some of these products are very old, so don't ask me what lines they came from - I'm sure for the most part I would have no idea (actually five of those papers are TLC).

First page. "i.Was".  For those of you who regularly follow my blog, all of these photos will look familiar, as they've all featured here before.

i.Was journaling page.  The journaling reads:

"I was a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak. I know this began when I was a child.  A consummate people pleaser, I did the hustle for worthiness, hoping that being good and bringing home perfect grades would make me worthy of love and attention.  My perfectionism carried into adulthood where I attempted to be some Hollywood version of the perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect employee.  But it was exhausting and I was miserable trying to be what everyone else wanted and needed from me at any given moment.  As an aspiring "good enough" ist, I am trying to let go, take more chances, try new things - even if I might fail.  Life is too short for perfection!"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Joy of Less - a book review

If I hadn't already had minimalist tendencies, I believe that the enthusiasm with which Francine Jay describes how much better life is with less might have pushed me in that direction.

I have been "decluttering" for about three years now.  It is a long process when you figure that it took you years and years (maybe your entire lifetime?) to collect all the "stuff" you currently own.  Short of fire or flood, getting rid of it all in one fell swoop isn't in the cards.

Part One of the book is about the Philosophy of Minimalism - a good general read.  I honestly believe the book would have been better off without Part Two - "Streamline" - it is an acronym for the steps to take in approaching your stuff and letting go of much of it.  It is long, boring, impossible to remember, and the concepts are repeated and re-explained so much in Part Three that it becomes redundant.  So my minimalist thought is knock 42 pages out of the book, use a few less trees to print it, and overall it would be a better finished product!

The real meat is in Part Three - Room by Room.  In this section, Jay takes the reader through each area of the home and gives implementable step-by-step instruction on how to declutter and organize.  There are no "before" and "after" photos (in fact no photos at all in this book) which seems like it would be a disadvantage.  Actually, I believe it makes it easier for the reader to apply the concepts to their own stuff and not get overwhelmed by someone else's organizational systems and ideas.  My only criticism of this Section was that it is a bit repetitive.  The basic "how to" of decluttering and narrowing your possessions is pretty much the same, regardless of what room you happen to be in.

That said, the advice in Chapter 28 "Gifts, heirlooms, and sentimental items" alone was worth the price of the book!  Sentimental items is my Achilles heel when it comes to decluttering.  Jay reminds the reader that "the stuff isn't the person."  It is just stuff.  It isn't necessary to keep your high school cheerleading uniform (as if!) to prove that you were a cheerleader in high school.  Or boxes of participation trophies from pee wee sports.  The stuff doesn't define you. And whether you own it or not, you still did those things, you still have the memories.

The final section - Lifestyle - is about minimalizing your schedule and how minimalism serves the greater good.  If you've ever felt like Christmas (or any holiday for that matter) is too consumer-driven - that it is all about buying more STUFF - or if you've grown weary of trying to "keep up with the Joneses" when it comes to the latest and greatest cars, toys, and electronic gadgets - then this chapter is a must read.  It articulates those feelings and tells about how our consumerist tendencies are killing our planet.  It's a tough note to end on, but really brings home why minimalism is gaining ground as a lifestyle choice.

Now how do I get the rest of my family to buy into these ideas?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Project Simplify - Week Three

The Project Simplify Week Three "Hot Spot" was children's toys and/or clothes.  Since my children are nearly young adults and don't have "toys" (other than the expensive electronic variety) and tackling their clothes is something that can't be done without their cooperation (which I won't attempt during school sessions), I thought I would have to pass on this week.

But I thought about what I could substitute, and decided to attack my own "toys" (scrapbooking supplies).

BEFORE #1 - note the cluttered table top, the albums with post-it notes attached...
BEFORE #2 - and all the "stuff" strewn on the floor.
AFTER.  I really didn't do much purging, having done that several times already.  But I did manage to put everything away and better organize some of the supplies.

Papers and kits that were in the white milk crate were moved into the Cropper Hopper bins. The white milk crate now holds all my various tote bags that I use to carry things to crops.  I added a lot of loose embellishments to the Clip-it-Up.

Of course, the table will be a wreck again the first time I sit down to scrapbook!

Close-up of shelving.  The paper is consolidated and full sheet alphabet stickers have been added to the paper bins.

The fabric covered albums (top right) are my Library of Memories storage binders.  Got rid of the label maker stickers (that didn't stick) and added labeled tags.  Got rid of the sticky notes on my Library of Memories albums (second shelf right) and finally created tags for those.  Also labeled the photo boxes (third and fourth shelves right).

The Iris boxes (left side middle shelves) all contain projects in progress - with all of the various papers, embellishments, letters, etc. set aside for those projects.  As a project is finished, the remaining contents are cycled back into my stash and the box picks up a newer project.
My Library of Memories albums.  Aren't those tags cute?!  The paper and sticker letters are the same used for title pages within the albums. I am so happy to have finally done this little project that has been sitting for .... years!

I love the tweaks I've made to this space. Hope to get back in to do some scrapping soon!

Hello from Rome

Just had to share this adorable video that Sarah sent us!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mundane to Marvelous

This is what my desk looks like when I'm working.  Drafting, reviewing, and revising contracts  is dull, boring, tedious work.  There is very little creative about it.  Until you come up with that perfect twist of phrase that really brings your meaning into clear focus.

The same day I was musing about how mundane my day-to-day work is, the essay in Simple Abundance contained this quote "Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else."  Judy Garland.

And here is the truth.  I am pretty darn good at what I do.  I may not be a famous trial attorney with glamorous high-profile cases.  But what I do, I do well - first rate all the way.

The same is true of something more near and dear to most of us - scrapbooking.  I can admire the way Ali Edwards ties together everyday stories with ephemera from everyday life.  I can marvel at Cathy Zielski's beautiful templates and her clean, graphic style.  But that doesn't mean I need to copy them or try to be like them.  My own scrapbooking, in my own style is what is just right for me!

sneak peek into my i.Scrap album - coming soon to a blog post near you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pass It On

Just wanting to share some of the wondrous "stuff" I've been discovering lately... via blogs and Internet and the like. 

Started Blogging for Scrapbookers yesterday as an alumni.  I got so much out of this course the first go-round.  This time I'm not committed to follow the daily prompts - I'll be blogging whatever moves me, inspires me, or tickles my fancy at the moment.  I also have no commitment to daily blogging - I know my life doesn't really allow for that and I'm being realistic!  But I do hope to create more meaningful posts, to meet some new-to-me bloggers, and possibly to add to my tribe!

Beyond Blogging For Scrapbookers - Was there ever any doubt?  Pretty much no way I can pass on any Shimelle class, but one that promises to be a sequel and expand upon the current curriculum?  I am SO THERE!  BBFS starts April 18th.  There is still time to sign up for either class or both!

Get Those Creative Juices Flowing - a new self-paced class by Amy Tangerine over at BPC.  Amy originally offered this class on her blog at $27.  BPC has it for $17.  Use code "weloveamy" to save another $5 and get this class for just $12!  Since it is self-paced, there is no pressure. I bought it and it is there for me when I need a dose of creativity.  I think of it as saving it for a rainy day. :)

I was sorely tempted by True Scrap which has an absolutely fabulous line-up of teachers.  But when I sat down and really evaluated how many of the classes interested me and my ability to be online at specific times, I ultimately decided to pass on this one.  But it looks great!

Sparkles, a 31 day creativity class - not centered around scrapbooking.  This one appeals to me on levels I just can't really describe.  Jamie Ridler has assembled 31 super-creative people across a spectrum of disciplines to each provide one creative prompt a day. Maybe dancing, drawing, writing, photography... it's all a mystery!  Watch the video (just 3 minutes) - Jamie is so ridiculously cute and has the sweetest laugh - that alone may make you want to sign up! I suspect this may be a bit like Reverb10 which I enjoyed immensely and which, likewise, really had little to do with scrapbooking.

How about some new digi supplies?  Miki Ferkul is guest designing at ScrapbookGraphics this month and I have fallen in love with her work!   Seriously, click on the link and check out her kits. She just posted a new one today that is 20% off.  I purchased these:

And her newest kit.  And if money were no object, I would probably have purchased them all!

Well, that is enough enabling for one day.  I'm off to the gym to work off some of the weight I gained adding all this sweet stuff to my life!

Monday, March 21, 2011


I received this email today:

Received a request this morning to help a child with cancer.
Max Low is a 12 yr old from Neola, IA (he attends school Underwood, IA).

He has been battling cancer for half of his life. His doctors recently told his parents to enjoy the time they have left with him. His wish is to get 1 million cards. If you would like to help Max get his wish, please send him a card to the following address: Mighty Max Low, C/O Greg and Bambi Low, PO Box 111, Neola, IA 51559

He may not make it to one million, but the amount of cards that he receives will make his final days something to look forward to each day.

It only takes a few minutes to make a card and WE CAN DO THIS!! Please send Max a card at your earliest convenience and forward this email to all the scrappers and card makers you know. Let's all start our week making a child's wish come true!!

In order to post this on my blog, I wanted to verify the authenticity.  A simple google search netted numerous articles about Max and his battle with leukemia.  Here's one article that explains a bit.  And a facebook update from a friend close to Max's family

So now I'm off to find (in my stash) or make a suitable card to send to this 12 year old boy.  And hoping you might find it in your heart to do the same.  And maybe post to your friends so this request can go viral.

Shoot the Moon

Trying to "shoot the moon" with a point and shoot camera is probably an exercise in futility.  Besides, it was way too cold to be standing outside snapping photos. 

I got a few interesting shots, but nothing really crisp and certainly nothing with any definition.  I learned that hand-holding even a tiny point and shoot in such low light situations will undoubtedly result in blur - in most of my photos, the moon was quite misshapen. 

I played around a lot in Photoshop with some of my noisy photos and found that by greatly increasing the saturation, I could get this artistic interpretation of what we all saw on Saturday night.  Looks like a good background for an art journal page.

Thankful Thought 001

Friday was a gorgeous Spring day - one of those days that make you just grateful to be alive.  It was 75 degrees out by mid-day (23 C) and I went out to do some shopping.  I loved being outside without a coat!

This photo is our daylilies, beginning to push up through last year's dead remains (which we will need to go clean up soon.)  They won't actually bloom until mid to late Summer, but it is so nice to see the signs of things to come.

Our tree out front - those buds are for the leaves - it doesn't flower.  This is our earliest budding tree.  It sustained quite a bit of damage during an ice storm this Winter, but seems to be doing well despite.

The weekend was right back to "normal" temperatures in the mid 50's (12 degrees C). So the gloriousness was merely a taste of Spring, not quite the real thing yet.

That didn't deter the robins who have been singing outside our family room window. I got to listen to them Sunday morning while I was doing yoga.

Today dawned cold and wet and grey - with freezing rain (which looked like a dusting of snow in spots).  A whopping 37 degrees out (2 degrees C).  I really don't want any more of this.  I am soooooooo ready for the REAL SPRING to get here!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Project Simplify Week Two

Warning - this is a photo heavy post!

Project Simplify is a five week decluttering challenge.  You can read all about it and join in from the Project Simiplify link above.  Week Two's Hot Spot is paper clutter!

I have to admit that Paper Clutter is an insidious monster in my household.  It tends to accumulate, multipy, and join with various other sorts of clutter in numerous hot spots throughout my home.  I have yet to find a "system" that works for me to eradicate this evil from my life.  So I keep trying.  Let's look at the worst spots:

The kitchen counter.  This end is the first horizontal surface you come to when entering through the front door. And becomes the dropping point for all manner of mail, school papers, and "stuff" imaginable.

Several members of my household dump stuff here.  I am the only one who ever removes it.

The kitchen desk.  Largely my fault.  When I move stuff off the kitchen counter, this is often where it lands.

The American Eagle bag? Stuff that needs to be shredded.  The bin under the phone - miscellaneous items like the cat brush, nail clippers, paper clips, coin wrappers, library cards.  Just an odd assortment of stuff.

Where you see the black hand bag - it is sitting in an unused "in box" filled with a bunch of other stuff.

The office.  Still in a state of flux as I'm still transitioning into this space.  And in this photo, at it's worst because I just moved a lot of stuff from the kitchen desk that actually belongs in the office based on use.  But my computer desk is almost always a mess with papers.  So much happens here!

The end table by my spot on the sofa. Can you  count at least five things that don't belong?  How about:  the Ace bandage box, the basket of socks belonging to my two youngest daughters (that has managed to reside in this spot for several years now), the camera case hidden in the corner containing a film 35mm camera that we stopped using in the mid-90's, the outdated JCPenney catalogs, the excess books on the table.

These are the areas I tackled this week.

And the results?  See for yourself:

  Kitchen Counter BEFORE
  Kitchen Counter AFTER

 Kitchen Desk BEFORE. 

Kitchen Desk AFTER.  Purse and stuff moved to closet upstairs. Inbox moved to Office - awaiting a new use or donation.  Stuff in the top two desk drawers also went to the office.  What was in the bin under the phone was sorted (some tossed) and moved to the top desk drawer.  Everyday school supplies were added to the second desk drawer for easy access by the kids.  The bin now holds papers to be shredded.

Newly organized top desk drawer.

Newly organized second desk drawer.

End Table BEFORE

End Table AFTER. Old catalogs recycled. Camera moved to area where we house other camera equipment. Excess books moved to book shelves or bottom drawer.  And that basket of socks? I took it to the girls' bedroom.  A day later it was back by the end table - like magic. I bided my time.  The next morning,  I took it back upstairs and emptied the contents into a bin in the girls' window seat. I used the emptied basket to hold some of the folded clothing overflow that was sitting on their bedroom floor.  It was a battle of wills. I prevailed.

Office BEFORE.

Office AFTER.  A  lot more happened here than is obvious by looking.  A LOT of sorting and tossing of papers. Some reorganizing of the filing system. All the bills paid and all the filing - DONE! :) 

Office close-up:  My Computer Desk BEFORE.

Office close up:  My Computer Desk AFTER.

The end result?  I now have a copy paper box FULL of documents that need to be shredded, another bag of paper that can simply be recycled. "Stuff" has been moved to where it is actually used and removed from surfaces where possible.  I'm a long way from the minimalist NOTHING on horizontal surfaces, but this is such an improvement for me!  I'm really pleased with the progress I made this week.  How did it go for you?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

and a quick explanation

Yes, I'm hitting you fast and furious with photo-heavy posts today.  Why?  Good question! 

I had planned to post the Project Tag Book photos last week.  The photos had all been taken -  But I couldn't work with them because I was having issues with ACDSee.  Always frustrating when your software is on the fritz.  I sent a support ticket in on Tuesday the 8th.  Got a confirming email saying I would hear back in 2-3 business days.  Finally heard back from them on Monday the 14th.  So I wasn't operational until Monday.  And then I spent Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in declutter mode.  That post is coming tomorrow! :)

So there you have it.  My lack-of-blogging excuse.  And today I've been playing catch-up.  Hope I haven't bored you to tears.  But just in case... here's a little green to mark the day:

Picture Inspiration 4/52


In the event of severe weather, I do NOT have to run to the store for toilet paper!

Colorful stacks.  I used to maintain color coordination with all the linens.  Now it's a hodge podge of whatever we have.  Upper shelf = girls linens.  Lower shelf = adult linens.  Sorry kids, but the Pottery Barn towels are ALL MINE!

Stacks in the dish cabinet.  My take on the artistic approach.  I'm thinking... meh.  Better luck next time.  Maybe earlier in the day when there is more ambient light?

More colorful stacks - horizontal, vertical, double.  All good.  Those photo boxes?  Some are filled to capacity with photos.  Sorted photos. Unsorted photos. Very old photos. Photos of more recent vintage.  Although probably nothing since we went digital in 2002.  Some of the boxes are (shhhhhh) empty.  I keep them there for looks!

Keeping Track of Projects

Scraplifting has become a bit of a habit for me. I take someone else's idea and run with it. I don't know if it is because I lack any semblance of original thought. Or because someone else's idea is the springboard for my own creativity. I hope it's the latter. But I'm not counting on it.

So, this time I totally stole Karen's idea for keeping track of the projects I'm working on this year. Thanks for the idea Karen! :)

I had a stack of 2.75" x3.75" lightweight cardstock tags - some in white, some in kraft. I didn't have a tag book handy, so I created my own covers from chipboard and painted them, then aged them with Walnut Ink. Title is felt Thickers.

Karen's project has a handy tag for each month. At the end of each month, she is writing what she completed for the month. 

Of course, I had to be different. I can never leave anything just as is. And as I do with everything I scraplift, I spun off with my own interpretation. I created a tag for each project or class I hope to finish this year.

In some cases, it is projects I have already completed this year, like my 2010 JYC album that I [started and] finished in January 2011.  On the back of the tag I'm hand-writing the origin of the class or project, any thoughts about it, and the date completed.

This method also allows me, where appropriate, to use
actual materials that I used for the album or project!
Like the Embrace Imperfection album
created during Karen Grunberg's free class in February.

In this case, it is a project I'm working on right now! :)


And there are projects I anticipate coming up later in
the year.  Like LSNED and JYC 2011.
There are tags for technique classes (like this Digital
Scrapbooking class from Jessica Sprague) that I signed
up for but never started - others I started but never
And then there are tags for old projects that I hope to
finish this year.  There are a few more of these than
I care to admit!

The completed tag book hangs on my bulletin board right above my computer - somewhat as a reminder to spend time creatively. 

In all it currently has 13 project tags and 4 technique class tags.  I know there are a few old classes I still need to add and I'm sure that more projects will crop up through the year... even without any plans to take new classes, I have no doubt that some will come up that I just can't resist!

And I apologize in advance if the formatting of this post is a total mess.  Blogger just won't let me put things where I want right now!