Showing posts with label scrapbook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scrapbook. Show all posts

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. 

April 5, 2014

Que Sarong, Sarong

In the 20 years that I have been traveling, I've learned a thing or two about packing. I have a few non-negotiables that go with me no matter how little space I may have in my bag. My journal always accompanies me, and I also pack some sort of sarong, or at the very least, a giant lightweight scarf that can do double duty. 

I guarantee you in the packing priorities department, there is nothing more versatile than a sarong. It has always been on my essential packing list -- no matter where I'm going or what the weather will be like. It's been my security blanket, if you will, on many trips.

My favorite sarong over the years is this blue one in the scrapbook photo. I even wrote a little blurb about my security blanket in the scrapbook:

I can't remember exactly when I bought this sarong -- it's been a staple in my luggage forever, it seems. I do know I found it at a TJMaxx in America (exactly which one in which state remains a mystery). I thought at the time the price seemed quite steep for a piece of material -- $10? $20? Little did I know this sarong would become my security blanket: a curtain for my caravan in Scotland, a sheet in Budapest, a beach blanket in Estonia, a scarf and pashmina on chilly planes and trains... and occasionally an actual sarong at the pool. In Cape Town, it served as a chair cover to hide the plastic patio furniture inside our granny flat. My 'security blanket' awaits the next trip -- already in a suitcase. -- November 2009

Clearly, my security blanket was worth every penny. So, it was a great surprise to me that I completely forgot to pack it this week. The Sailor and I went to Florida for a few days for a last minute beach getaway. Apparently pregnancy brain kicked in, because I was ill-prepared for actually hanging out at the beach. I at least remembered a swimsuit (and I even tried it on before I packed it to make sure it would accommodate my growing belly...) But I didn't remember anything else. No beach towels, no chairs -- not even a simple sarong. 

Luckily, the kitschy souvenir shop across from our hotel had one left. The price was right and it turned out to be the perfect size to use as both a beach blanket and a cover-up when the sun got a little too hot.

 I've used my sarong for all of the following many times over: 
  • Tablecloth: Indoor or outdoor!
  • Curtain: I have previously stayed in hostels with giant windows and no curtains. I like a good view, but I also don't like people looking inside my room while I'm sleeping.
  • Door curtain: Particularly useful in caravans or RVs when you want a breeze, but also privacy.
  • Robe: Covers a lot more than those chintzy towels they give you at the spas in Budapest, let me tell you!  
  • Towel: Desperation, people -- it's much more effective than a tiny bandana. I speak from experience. And, if you're using it as a robe, you may as well dry off with it too.
  • Blanket or sheet: Essential when you end up in a grotty hostel somewhere, although if you're already using it as a curtain (see above), you may consider packing a second sarong for your next trip.
  • Picnic or beach sheet: Nobody wants a towel full of sand. Sarongs are much easier to shake the dirt out of than a thick plush towel.
  • Pillow when rolled up: Do you know how long some train rides are?
  • Skirt, scarf or even a head covering: Perfect for chilly travel days, or those times when bare skin is not acceptable. 
  • A cover-up for swimming or lounging at the beach: The sarong's original use!
I'm kind of glad I forgot to pack a sarong for Florida -- I'm not one to buy souvenirs, but sometimes it's fun to have a little memento, even from a short trip. Now I have another sarong to accompany me on the next adventure. Hopefully I remember to pack it, along with my journal.
What's always in your suitcase? 

February 17, 2014

Decluttering the Craft Supplies

Lately, I've felt the urge to purge my crafting supplies. Maybe I have too much stuff... or maybe it's simply cabin fever from the winter. I think it's a little of both.

Chances are, if you are a regular reader here at Typing Sunflowers, or even if you've just stumbled upon this blog, you're into creating stuff. Most of us who make things regularly have quite the stash of stuff. (See ideas for stash busting your yarn here...) 

I know it's not spring yet... but there are steps you can take to clear the clutter before spring rolls around. After all -- who wants to be inside cleaning when the weather turns nice enough to spend the whole day outdoors? (Although if you want general spring cleaning and decluttering ideas, you can read this post.)

1. Take stock of what you have. 

This may give you a fright. It certainly did me. Last week I hauled out my craft supplies from behind every nook and cranny and I just left everything on the floor, scattered hither and yon (the benefits of having a dedicated office/craft room). The next morning, when I walked into the room to open the blinds, I nearly gave myself a heart attack. I thought someone had ransacked the place while I'd been sleeping. 

It certainly gave me new insight into the amount of junk I had laying around. (Sorry I don't have many photos to show you, but I had a hard time locating my camera in the mayhem. I at least took the button pic before the real ransacking occurred.

2. Clear out stuff that hasn't inspired you in years -- or even months. 

Once you get over the initial shock of how much stuff you have, sort through it and figure out what you actually want to keep. 

Some of the items in my craft arsenal are either dated, or else I purchased bulk supplies and only needed one or two of the 20. Give them away to another crafty friend, donate them to a thrift store, or sell them at a swap. 

Another alternative is to keep a small basket of craft supplies aside for younger guests or even for your own children when they too want to craft. When my nieces were small, I had a bucket of scrap paper, stickers I had no use for and miscellaneous other extras that kept them entertained for hours. Now, I have a small basket that serves the same purpose when guests with children come over. 

Whatever you do: purge. If you've been holding onto stuff for years and you're still not sure what you're going to make with it, then pass it along to someone who may have an idea. 

3. Figure out your method of organization. 

Now that you've cleared out part of the stash, you can get busy actually organizing stuff. Sometimes storage space alone dictates how much stuff you can safely stash. 

For years, I kept my stuff stashed in closets and stored under the sofa. Now that I have more space, I'm trying to put items into clear containers, or at least labeled organized boxes so that I can actually see what I have to work with.

I realized I had all of these great glass containers sitting on a shelf in the dining room with nothing in them. They now live in my craft area, full of buttons and ribbons. And now, instead of searching for the box of ribbon when I have to wrap a gift at the last minute, I know exactly where to go!

If you don't have spare shelf space or if you're not into clear plastic shelving that sits on the floor, there are lots of other fun options to store items. Craft stores sell great baskets and even boxes that look like books and old trunks -- things that look classy enough sitting anywhere in a room. 

Or consider vintage alternatives. Over the years, I've found some neat train cases and vintage sewing boxes to store craft supplies. For the longest time I kept my thread in a small box all jumbled up. Last week I realized I have a great vintage sewing box that is meant for um... sewing supplies!

One of my favorite train cases houses paper travel paraphernalia (I'm partial to old postcards and letters, plus the Sailor gives me his boarding passes from flights to and from his ships. These come in handy when I try to be cheap about scrapbooking.)

Even if you don't have a lot of space to work with, at least try to give yourself a shelf in the closet, or a corner in a room where you can keep everything together.  This last part is important... if your stuff isn't together -- you may not be as inclined to actually work on things (or you'll be like me... hunting for that ribbon at the last minute!)

4. Stop Feeding the Stash!

When all else fails, and when you don't have the time or inclination to purge, at least resist the temptation to add to the stash until you've had a chance to use up some of it. Don't even walk into a craft store and if you do, stay away from the clearance rack. It only leads to more serious stash busting later! 

When I first started this blog, I made myself use up a hefty amount of my yarn stash before I was allowed to buy any new yarn.  A few months later, I rewarded myself by making up a few new yarn rules, which I still adhere to. As lovely as that yarn looks on sale, unless I know exactly what I'm going to make with it, it's staying on the shop shelf.

Now go forth and declutter that craft stash. Blue skies are going to be here before you know it and it's far easier to take your crafting outdoors if it's all organized and you can find it!

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. 

January 19, 2014

Scrapbooking on the Cheap: Part I

Ever since my mom bought me my first journal, I have had a love affair with paper and everything related to it: books, magazines, scrapbooks, cards and even office supplies. It's not easy for me to walk past a store that sells paper without at least having a look inside.

Before 'scrapbooking' was a household term, I collected bits of ephemera from road trips and pasted them into a plain spiral bound notebook, labeling it something like 'Brenda's Scrapbook'. (Clever, eh?!) The only thing I paid for were the photos and the actual notebook.

When stickers arrived on the scene in the 1980s, I couldn't contain myself. Unicorns, My Little Ponies, and anything that resembled a horse somehow ended up in my sticker collection. My friends and I traded them, we wore them, we spent money on them. 

Only I didn't have a lot of money in elementary school. I got an allowance, but that certainly didn't go far in the sticker realm. The sticker albums were something else -- I don't remember what they cost, but I do know they were way beyond my budget. 

My mother came up with a plan so that I could still swap stickers at school -- she somehow amassed a bunch of those clear plastic sheets and we put construction paper on the inside. I had a little binder to put the sheets in and suddenly, I had my own sticker book. The stickers still came off easily, and even though I didn't have an 'official' sticker book, I still had a fully functional, and personalized one to carry around.

When craft stores like Michaels came on the scene, I was well into adulthood, but I still about died when I first set foot in one. So much creativity and craftiness under one roof! And all of those stickers! 

I didn't revert to childhood with the unicorns, but I did start to collect bits and pieces for my modern-day scrapbooks.  But I soon discovered that this little hobby of mine was starting to add up. It had never cost me much before... and suddenly, I was out more than just pocket change.

There was still something about paper, scissors and a glue stick that I couldn't resist though. I started looking for ways to continue with my hobby, but I tried to creatively come up with ideas that were cheaper than simply buying all new supplies at a craft store. 

Later this week, I'll share some of those secrets with you. In the meantime, head over to Doris Sander's blog, meanderings and check out her fantastic scrapbooks and photos. I discovered her just a short while ago and she has again inspired me to start scrapbooking again (ever since we moved, I have hardly touched a glue stick). Her scrapbooks make me want to hold them in my hand and turn the pages myself!