Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label creativity. Show all posts

June 1, 2015

Summer Break

Summer is generally a slow month in the publishing world and like most students, I used to look forward to the season with tremendous anticipation when I was in school. Summers are generally lazy... a time to head to the beach, lay around the pool, catch up on paperback fiction, and sit on porches to watch the sunset. 

I need a good summer. 

I need a summer to sit around with a beverage of choice (even if the Peanut is clamoring up my legs...) I need a summer to travel and see friends I haven't seen in years. I need a summer to work on crochet blankets, one square a time. I need a summer to read at least one book that I can't put down — even if it means missing out on some sleep. 

I don't want to spend my summer thinking of projects to do, and then spending more time at the computer trying to blog about them. 

I want to actually try out the recipes from my homemade cookbook. I want to add the Peanut's photos to my Project Life album. I don't want to rush a single cuddle with the Peanut because time with him is already flying by too fast. I want to spend time eating lemon meringue pie and picnicking in the park with Pyrex. I want to sit on the porch while the Peanut (briefly) naps. I want to actually clean and purge and declutter, not only the cobwebs from the apartment, but from my mind. 

Many years ago, I volunteered with Mercy Ships as part of their communications crew. I wrote stories, hosted media teams and even took photos. After my nearly five years with them, I took three months out of my schedule to take a photography course in South Africa. I needed that time to create without the confines of an organization. 

I came away from the course refreshed and bursting with creative energy. (I also realized during the three months that I could never be a full time photographer... I needed to write and do other creative things to feel fulfilled!

I need a similar sort of break now. I need some time to actually work on projects and simply enjoy life, without wondering if I took enough photos and if I'll have time to document it in a blog post. 

With that in mind, I'm taking the summer off from blogging.

I know summer doesn't officially start for a few weeks, but according to most people, Memorial Day hails the unofficial start. And let's face it, it's hot enough to swim where I am, so it already feels like summer! 

I'll be back sometime in September... right around the same time school starts. In the meantime, enjoy your own summer and get out there and enjoy life around you. And for the small handful of you regular readers, if you're in need of a Typing Sunflowers fix, there are plenty of posts in the archive to get you through the next few months. 

Thanks for sticking with me! Ciao for now.

June 13, 2014

Project Life Plunge

For years, my friend has been showing me her beautiful Project Life layouts. As intrigued as I was by so much fun paper in one package -- I remained reticent to splurge on such a purchase, especially when I had plenty of other stuff to keep me occupied. 

Project Life is pricey. Plus I really like my 8x8" scrapbook albums. 

But months ago I received a gift certificate to an online store and I finally took the plunge. I figured with the Peanut coming soon, I might need an easier incentive to capture the memories, rather than full-on scrapbooking. Besides, I used up the last of my 8x8" albums on this rampage

It worked out that I had just enough pages left to end off that last 8x8" scrapbook on our moving day.

I figured with our fresh start in a new location, it was time to start a new project. Project Life. So this week, I did just that. 

Oddly, I didn't find scrapbooking 'super easy' with Project Life. Don't get me wrong... everything is pretty much laid out for you -- all you do is insert photos and choose the cards to add into the other inserts. 

I just found it a little restrictive in the creativity department. I wanted to add embellishments, flowers, and pieces of string to my page. 

Instead, only having certain sized pieces of paper kind of put a damper in my 'layout' process. 

I ordered an assortment pack of the pages, and it seems like there were a LOT of pages that only had room for one or two photos and then the rest of the spaces were for the small journal cards. I printed a bunch of my photos wallet-sized and used the actual pictures in many places instead of the Project Life Cards.

That being said, it was pretty awesome to whip out nearly a year's worth of events into a book of memories in less than a week. I still have to journal some of the details... but for me that part goes super fast. 

Nevertheless, most of my favorite scrapbook pages have been born out of creative mistakes. I glue something too fast and it looks funny, but instead of ripping it off the page, I work with it. I add pieces here and there to finally make the page stand out, even if I don't have all of the right shapes and sizes to fit into the 'puzzle'. 

So maybe I need to rethink this whole Project Life deal... and get some creative ideas on Pinterest, despite my earlier post about not bothering with that site.

I'm secretly hoping a glue stick is involved somewhere. And in the meantime, I'm keeping an eye out for more 8x8" albums on sale.

May 26, 2014

Excess, etc...

It may come as no surprise to you that America is a land of excess. 

Almost 20 years ago, when I returned home after an extended time in Ukraine, I remember gawking at a grocery store aisle full of butter. My friend and I counted 50 varieties. I'm pretty sure salted butter hadn't even made it's way to Ukraine that year, so suddenly having 49 other options proved more than overwhelming.

We walked out of the store without any butter, slightly dizzy. 

Grocery stores are not the only places that make me dizzy. I've mentioned before my need to declutter craft supplies.

This week, I dove into the scrapbook heap, determined to catch up on a backlog of ideas and photos. (A friend of mine referred to it as 'nesting'... yes... that must be it!) Whenever I had a spare moment, I'd sit on the floor and craft away.

I had quite a successful week. 

However, when it was all said and done, and I finally got around to cleaning up the mess (I desperately needed to vacuum), I went through the stuff that I had and got rid of a bunch of it. (No dear reader, I didn't throw out perfectly good craft stuff... I'll donate it to a thrift store.) 

While I was crafting I realized that having too much to choose from sometimes stumped my own creativity. Or I couldn't find what I was looking for, because frankly, the pile of paper was too BIG

The Sailor has a thing for excess. He never minds me shopping or buying things... as long as it's not in excess. You can imagine then that he occasionally found my craft stash overwhelming. Happily, I've decluttered a LOT of it, especially the yarn

I often hear stories about people stashing their yarn in closets, under the sofa, in between the sofa cushions -- you get the picture. While I admire their tenacity at storing the stuff, I sometimes wonder how can they remember what they have? And doesn't there come a point where they don't want to use any of what they have (because they have too many choices!) and they end up buying even more? 

A lot of this applies to every day life as well... buying too many clothes can mean you can't make a decision on what to wear because you have too many choices. Buying too much food at one time means that some of it eventually spoils before you can eat it. Even taking out too many library books at one time and then only reading half of one before they are all due is living in excess. (I'm totally guilty of that latter one!)

One of the most amazing pieces of art I've ever seen in my life was by a little girl from Belorussia. She created an incredible scene with a horse, using only twigs and bark and things found in nature. All the gel pens in the world couldn't have come up with something so neat. Seeing that picture made me reassess my own excess.

Did I finish EVERYTHING I wanted to scrapbook? Um, no. But the next time I pull out the supplies, you can bet that I'll have less to choose from... and I'm pretty sure I'll be more creative and efficient as a result. 

January 24, 2014

Scrapbooking on the Cheap: Part II

Earlier this week I mentioned that I'd be sharing some tips on how to keep scrapbooking without breaking the bank. I have been 'scrapbooking' for as long as I can remember. Even when I didn't have a scrapbook, per se, I used my journal to store as much as I could in there, besides words. 

For years, I didn't go anywhere without my journal. It became my personal scrapbook, and one that I wouldn't share with anyone. After I got married, and perhaps as a way to reminisce about the years before, I did a whole 'official' scrapbook on my 12 years of World Adventures: The Solo Years

I did it mainly for me -- for something creative and fun, but along the way, I realized that I could share it with friends and family who had never before seen photos or heard stories from the places I'd traveled, because I had kept my journals so secretive.

In an era before email became the norm, people were lucky to get a postcard out of me for months at a time. My scrapbooks helped to bridge the gap once I returned to the States. Once I started, there was no stopping me -- especially in the months while the Sailor was gone to sea, I'd cut and paste all manner of life events.

They are not your typical run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter scrapbooks. They are messy, bulging, mismatched, and full of luggage tags and adventure... a little bit like my life sometimes, I suppose. 

I found it all so creative that once I finished a book, I didn't really care whether I or anyone else ever looked at them again. I just had fun with it. I never really planned anything -- I'd just cut and paste and the whole process became very organic. Even after I glued something that didn't quite look right, I'd challenge myself to fix it without ripping the whole thing apart. 

Although I still splurged on some things (and still do), I've discovered a few ways to stay within my budget for my paper passion, besides simply waiting for stuff to go on clearance.

1. Look for inspiration everywhere. 
You don't always need something encased in plastic with a UPC symbol on the back to get the job done. One of the most amazing pieces of art I've ever seen in my life was by a little Belorussian girl who created a scene with a horse out of tree bark and twigs. TWIGS. You may not have to go that far, but think of the fun things you could make out of those throwaway cardboard coffee sleeves and a bit of leftover ribbon from an old wreath. 

Like a wood fire, for instance.

2. Save everything. 
I'm not talking about turning into a hoarder, but you know those handmade wedding invitations and Christmas cards you're about to throw away? See what you can salvage first! Torn wrapping paper? Paste it as a layer on one of your pages. Used stamps? Extra photos that accidentally got printed? Magazines with creative flair or neat type? All of these items can be turned into bits and pieces for your scrapbook pages. 

I'm quite partial to stamps, myself. 

3. Don't be afraid to use everyday objects. 
This kind of goes along with #2, but sometimes I actually buy stuff that I know I can get a secondary use out of later. I've used sandpaper on several pages, food labels and calendars, and I purposely buy tissues that have neat designs on them, so I can reuse the cardboard later. 

Besides sand, I have a whole garden of flowers currently growing in my scrapbooks. 


4. Look for items in unconventional places. 
My recent addiction to SMASH Books has been fueled by the fact that I just found a bunch half off the normal craft store price, at TJMaxx. Those, coupled with vintage sewing and knitting magazines from the thrifts, and I had half a book finished in no time. Scour thrift stores and flea markets for old ephemera like maps, magazines and even sewing patterns, to add a vintage touch to your pages. 

Vintage is very in vogue at the moment and what better way to recycle? 

5. Swap and share with a friend. 
One of my childhood friends is an avid scrapbooker, and she regularly sends me extra paper or bits that she eyes as my 'style'. Personally, I swoon at those giant stacks of brand new paper. If you can't find them on sale, find a buddy who will split the cost with you. Most of the stacks contain multiple sheets of the same design, so you can easily share. 

And even when you can't think of a way to use the stuff, 
stick it on an inspiration board in the meantime. 

6. Find your own style!
Even though I've just given you my tips on crafting cheaply... find what works for you! The creative process will be null and void if you do all of the above and gain no satisfaction out of it. The same friend who mails me paper has a very different style from me, but I absolutely love looking at her scrapbooks. She has a neatness and meticulousness to her layouts that I envy. But if I tried to do things her way, I don't think I'd find the process as fun. Likewise, if she tried my style! 

So find your own style and have fun with it. And if you decide to do things on the cheap and save some cash, you have all the more reason to splurge on something later. 

October 7, 2013

Lessons Learned from State of iPhonelessness

My phone has been 'drying out' in a bag of rice and without a mobile device to hold in my hands, I've had a lot of extra time on them instead.

So, I've been pondering life without my phone. And here's what I've learned so far.  

1. It is hard to function in today's society without a phone. 

I had to cancel plans with someone this afternoon, and let me tell you what a palaver it was to get a hold of the person without the use of my phone. For starters, I didn't have her number, because it was stored in my phone. (Who memorizes phone numbers nowadays?!
2. I am waaaaayyyy too dependent on my iPhone. 

Years ago, the Sailor bought me a Nokia smartphone -- back when that term first popped up. He promptly dubbed the Nokia 'second husband' because I spent so much time with the phone. It wasn't that I was TALKING on the phone so much per say as I was texting, surfing, and playing games (solitaire proved to be my drug of choice on many occasions). 

It really was the beginning of the end. 

After that, the Sailor bought himself an iPod touch and when I started playing too much Fruit Ninja on it, he bought me my own. Apps, music and calendar entries galore ensued. My iPod touch and I were inseparable. And, as my old faithful Nokia started falling apart (literally -- keys cracked and those little rubber stoppers meant to keep dust out of crevices were suddenly missing...) we realized it was time for a new phone. Not just any phone though. I was finally going to get an iPhone.

Once I transferred my data, I gave my mom my iPod touch (part of our 'no need for excess' household policy) and I was thrilled to now have everything on ONE device.   

But that one device soon went everywhere with me. I'd take it to get the mail. Or to the gym, even if I wasn't listening to music. I'd walk to the garden, thinking that I was just going to take photos of growing peppers, but in reality, there was a slight bit of separation anxiety if I was away from it for too long. If I left the phone on the counter, I'd check it as soon as I walked in the door.

It was the first thing I looked at before I even got out of bed, and the last thing I looked at before I switched the lights off at night. 

I am not a Hollywood celebrity. Wall Street does not depend on me getting all of my messages. I don't have a job where lives are at stake if I don't answer my phone. I don't need to be with my phone ALL OF THE TIME.

3. It is good (and necessary) for my creativity to disconnect every once in a while.

I may not have crocheted or created more than usual lately, but I feel like I had a few extra hours in the day to breathe and to think. The other night I sat on the balcony, candles burning. My drink was finished and it was too dark to continue knitting. I was about to go inside -- what would people think if they saw me just sitting there, doing nothing? But I stayed anyway. Sometimes you need to do absolutely nothing. (It's also good for your neck to look up once in a while. Your chiropractor will thank you.) 

Over the past few days, I realized that I sometimes spend more time looking to see what other people are blogging or tweeting about, than I do on any actual creative project. I have a renewed sense that I need to set aside more unplugged time to brood over ideas and projects. Technology for sure has its place (I'm a total closet tech geek, if you couldn't already tell...) But sometimes it gets in the way of plain and simple imagination.

Apparently sometimes I need to simply unplug and watch a candle flicker. Who knows - it may spark the next great idea. Hopefully though, next time I'll do so willingly, and not because of another phone incident.