Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's a Pea-utiful Day in the Neighborhood

It's hard to know where some stories begin and end, but this is not one of those. I have a clear memory in my mind of the events that led up to me talking about scrapbooking with my dear friend Lea, and her mentioning to me that Creative Memories had announced that they wanted to be the resource that Two Peas in a Bucket was. That was such a curious goal of CM, to me, that I felt compelled to check out this website. A few steps down the rabbit hole later, I had registered and thought of my username and created an account. The date was marked on my Two Peas account - June 27, 2006. But, I get ahead of myself. Let me start closer to the beginning.

As with most stories, they do not go where you foresee them going, and they do not end where you see them ending. I guess that is what makes for a good tale. I don't know, though...I have always enjoyed a small measure of predictability. I guess there is a bit of comfort in that. But my tale of Two Peas does not follow my measure of comfort, and so please indulge me the time to share a few words about a website that knew me.

In July, 2005, we moved from deep south Texas to the suburbs of Dallas, via my husband's job. I was a stay at home mom at the time, and the boys were entering fourth and fifth grade the following month. At this juncture in time, I had been a scrapbooker for 10 years and 10 months, and I was using, solely, Creative Memories' products. I had just converted to a digital camera, and I was getting my photos developed at Walmart. We were holed up in an apartment while we waited for the house to finish, with the large portion of our belongings sitting in storage crates somewhere between McAllen and Dallas.

With our house targeted to finish in November, we set about living the temporary life in a furnished apartment, overseeing the construction, running down ideas, and preparing for the move-in day. One of the errands we ran between July and November was to the Hest Fitness Equipment store in Frisco. At that time, it was next to Circuit City. As we drove into the parking lot, I noticed the name of a store between Circuit City and Hest - Recollections. I could not believe my eyes. A store that sold scrapbooking supplies! We wrapped up at Hest, and Steve went into Circuit City while I checked out Recollections.

That little errand probably turned into one of the most expensive elliptical machines ever purchased, because I found at that store a new way to scrap! Ever a lover of color and stationary and office supplies, I felt like I had just found Pandora's box of scrappy goodness. I signed up to take some classes and, one year later, I would end up working part-time there, until just shortly before their owner, Michael's, announced their closure. Recollections opened up for me a creative and expressive way to take a hobby I intrinsically adored and enjoy it exponentially more, if possible. I remember the first class I took used Basic Grey's Color Me Silly collection. I still have that project hanging on my wall. I made friends, I found retreats to attend, I bought copious amounts of supplies, and I scrapped on.

My evolution continued. In June 2006, I attended for the first time the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Arlington, Texas, over near the ballpark. Steve had heard about it on the radio and my youngest son pointed out a billboard one day while we were driving. I checked it out - and hit another major milestone - another reaching the point of no return. I found bargains on the stuff I was seeing at Recollections, and I found things I had never seen before, and I seriously began my scrappy stash building. And the desire kindled to further develop my storytelling art form.

And in the summer afternoon conversation where I told Lea about Recollections and the scrapbook convention by the ballpark, she told me about Two Peas. The timing was ideal. We were settled in the new house, a scrap corner upstairs had been carved out, the boys were at a great age for the indulgence of a hobby, and I had found a little local scrapbook store to fuel my fire. Having an online resource was icing on the cake. Two Peas in a Bucket, for those unaware, was established in 1999 by Kristina Nicolai-White and her husband, Jeff. Two Peas was like a three-legged stool to me: online inspiration via the garden girls, classes and gallery, a 24/7 message board community, and the Two Peas online storefront. And over time, each of those components was very significant to me in their own right.

Their tag line that appeared at the top of their website for so long, "Live Life. Scrapbook It.", was a clarion call for my heart. I loved Two Peas from the beginning. If I had to catalog the beginning of my love affair, I would have to say that the inspiration from the gallery was probably the biggest initial draw. It was truly inspiring, and undeniably amazing, to see the work of other scrappers from all over the world. Here I was - such a newb at shucking my CM solid card stock and embracing patterned paper - and trying to take in all the design elements of the newly found tools and supplies I was seeing online and at Recollections. I could spend any given amount of time strolling the gallery and getting ideas.

As I grew braver, I ventured over to the message boards. I lurked, as a reader only, for a long, long time before gaining the courage to post anything. As the boys got older, though, my time available to be online increased, and any given day you would find me "Pea-ing". See, each user was assigned a Pea number and we had to give ourselves a username, a Pea name. Avatar photos were optional. Some of us used real photos of ourselves, and some used pictures of their dogs or kids or favorite iconic images -  coffee cups, flowers, Disney characters. You grew to learn people by the familiarity of their recognizable Avatar photo. And I grew to love posting on the threads and sharing ideas and challenges with other scrapbooking Peas. We shared not only ideas, but we shared events and classes, and earned badges for our efforts. Our virtual flair was just all that - and it came with a Bucket to put them in.

We joked that Peaing was addictive. It was. I became a regular poster to the message boards, and at some point in 2008, I uploaded my first card project to their Gallery of projects. The more familiar I became to others, and they became to me, the more I was out there. Not only did I post replies on the Message Boards, I even began starting conversation threads. I became "A Fixture". The website was always up, and I was always logged in. I learned to turn to the Peas for any question I had on scrapbooking, and even, on the fitting occasion, I would venture to the NSBR (Non-Scrapbook Related) board, asking about vacations or questions about the kids, seeking guidance or input...from all of these Peas. My family would know it was sound knowledge if I heard it from the Peas. If I couldn't find an answer, I only needed "to ask the Peas." Someone somewhere knew it and/or had done it. 

It may sound and seem silly, but it really was a tightly knit community of mostly like-minded souls. The common thread of scrapbooking offered an environment with people who could "get me". They could understand searching for one more piece of that certain patterned paper, struggling to mange amassing amounts of jpegs, offering help to title a layout, ad infinitum. The issues were as endless as the ideas. And I'm not even kidding when I say that my husband and sons would not be surprised at all if I told them something I had learned from the Peas. Oh, the power of the Peas. 

From the Peas, and with the Peas, and through the Peas, I learned about digital scrapbooking, non-chronological scrapbooking, layout kitting. I found out about events where I could take classes - Creating Keepsakes University, Creative Escape, Big Picture Classes. I met real life "scrapbooking celebrities" Stacy Julian, Heidi Swapp, Tim Holtz. I discovered blogs and followed bloggers - May Flaum, Ali Edwards, Cathy Zielske. I fell in love with scrapbookers whose style I admired - Nichol Magouirk, Susan Stringfellow, Allison Davis. I moved my scrap studio downstairs and set it up a la Wookiemouse (a Pea named Stacey), spending 26 weeks tediously organizing every rub-on and spool of ribbon I owned. I learned to stamp and ink and wet and dry emboss. I fell in love with punches and sketches and die cutting. I found my niche. Truly, truly I found my niche. I found the perfect compendium of ideas and people who could help me execute on any idea they shared, or any idea I could dream up. The support of the Peas even led me to try out for a design team, and it was truly a thrill to be selected as a member of the Sketch Support Design Team. Oh, the power of the Peas.

Far beyond meeting my initial desire to find a relevant, 24/7 scrapbooking resource, and far beyond the practical information and inspiring ideas, Two Peas offered me friends. There are Peas whom I have met in real life, Peas I have traveled with, Peas I have retreated with, Peas I have had in my home. I would never have dreamed all those years ago when setting up an account on a website, whose name relates none whatsoever to scrapbooking, that it would be a life-changing event. I share this little glimmer of my story, in the full knowledge that there are over 400,000 other stories that mirror mine, to pay homage to a place that I was proud to be a part of. And I was truly proud to be a Pea.

Two Peas announced on the 25th of June that they would be closing down their website at midnight on July 10. The inevitability, or even the predictability of a loss does not make the pain any less. I wasn't surprised at the announcement, but I was not prepared to grieve as much internally. I can't speak to all the factors that culminated in their decision to close, but I can speak to how incredibly sad it makes me to know that such a rich compendium of caring and sharing, a resource organically grown over 15 years in the garden of their tending, will shut down and be accessible no more. 

I have spent the last five days mining data - checking my bookmarks, copying down ideas, saving images. I grieve when I think about the gallery of Katie Watson, Kelly Goree or Candice Greenway being deleted, never really to fully resurrect, since they no longer scrap in the public eye. I get nostalgic when I think about Rusty Pickle, Daisy D or Scenic Route having layouts in the gallery, and tagging their collections. These lovelies were fallouts of the recession and economic downturn, now out of business, whose collections are residing solely on the shelves of hoarding scrappers. I recall Scrapbooks, Etc. and Simple Stories and Making Memories placing publishing calls and sigh, as these magazines are published no more.

Two Peas goes down, and takes with it a chronicling of the very effort it set out to bolster, the cataloging and remembering of life. {Live Life. Scrapbook It.} No matter what continues to happen to my beloved industry, one that continues to compress and digitize and minimize, I will always know in my heart the special place that Two Peas held in the industry. I will always remember the rich development it offered me. I will forever cherish the friendships I have with my Peas. There will always be a little corner of my world where it was good to be Peanut 266613, where life was chronicled and cared about, where it's a Pea-utiful day in the scrappy neighborhood. 

I keep with me the knowledge gleaned in the garden. I continue to grow and develop. I am truly thankful to have been a Pea. And I am thankful that I will maintain the friendships I have with the Peas. Taking down a website won't take away the power of the Peas - the beautiful souls of the ladies I know and continue to scrap and yap with. Oh, the power of the Peas. Rest in Peas, dear Pod of mine. I will always remember the hay days of Two Peas in a Bucket and how it was the home for my scrapbooking heart, the place where my happy scrapbooking story began. It's always a Pea-utiful day in my neighborhood.

Peanut 266613 ~ Becoming Pennyscraps ~ February 2010
Sketch Credit: Cathy Zielske, Design Your Life via Big Picture Classes
Paper: Imaginisce
Font: 2 Ps Old Type

This layout in and of itself speaks to the impact of Two Peas. This is a "digi template" that I created in Cathy Zielske's Design Your Life class, taken in 2010 on Big Picture Classes, using some digi paper for the large dots. I trimmed the template down, and matted it on real Imaginisce green patterned paper.

Two Peas changed over the years. We all did. I am thankful I had some screen captures of the earlier, more playful look. That was the look of the Pod I loved.

A snapshot of my public profile. After hitting 5,000 posts, you could edit the title that appeared under your screen name, creating your little personal message. There were always puns using PEA as a substitute syllable for anything remotely similar. For the longest time, my self-given title line read "It's a Pea-utiful day in the neighborhood." My Peas were the neighbors of my heart.


  1. You captured so much of the good, heady, exciting days of Two Peas. The Pod was a better place with you in it.

  2. Beautifully written and thank you for sharing. I love your Pea collage.