Monday, September 29, 2014

Two Decades in the Making

Sometimes there are no easy answers, or no fast answers. At least not with me. ;-) Lisa Echerd invited me to participate in The Scrapbooker's Blog Tour and I was thrilled to be asked to join the blog hopping. Thanks for stopping by today if you are new to my corner of the world. 

This past week I marked my twentieth year of scrapbooking as an adult. Two decades of paper and photos. {#bliss} Yes, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of scrapbookers who attended a Creative Memories class in the '90's. I fell in love hard and fast and decided the September Saturday of the class that I was a scrapbooker in the making - and the only way as a new stay at home mom that I could really afford it was to sell it. I sent in my contract the following day, and became active the first week of October 1994. While I waited for my consultant kit, I sat at the kitchen table and carved Christmas photos into circles and ovals, and taped them into the Holly Berry album that I splurged on at the class.

Fast forward twenty years. So, so, so many changes. Creative Memories is gone. Thank goodness I moved to Dallas in 2005 and discovered the world of supplies outside of the CM corridor. Thank goodness my love of scrapbooking surpasses the bounds of one company. Thank goodness my passion for photography is timeless. Thank goodness my desire to lay out a story is innate and, thus far, unquenchable.

Of course, not only have I changed, and CM folded, but the very tow-headed little blonde boys that supplied me with unending photos, warm hugs, and sweet anecdotes have also grown up and moved on to college, leaving empty rooms and uncluttered kitchen countertops in their wake. Thank goodness I have my memories and my stories to tell. And then, when and if I am ever out of fresh photos, I can retell those fifteen years that are trapped in book cloth coversets, ensconced in Mrs. Grossman sticker patterns.

Yes, this blog post is literally twenty years in the making. And I have the photos to prove it. ;-) That is a little glimpse of my evolution. But, to the point at hand...the blog hop!

Right now, I am working on learning to scrap as an empty nester. I am working on living out of my heart to tell stories across time and space. I am working on remembering. And telling. The layout on my desk is in primitive stages. It is a Christmas layout. Having pulled out my Christmas supplies for one layout, I decided to stay in that genre and make the most of the mess I have everywhere. I always struggle with Christmas layouts. How much is too much? How can you put down on paper the joy and sentiment of a holiday that is really 25 days long?

That is also sort of the conundrum of the layout. When do you know it's time to stop?  I can spend 30 minutes or 30 hours on a layout. I love to hand stitch. I love to use border punches. I love to work in the journaling. I could write much more than I usually do on the page. I think that is how I birthed the idea for my blog - to tell more of the story behind the photos....

I think of myself as a slow scrapper by definition, and I think of myself as a methodical scrapper in my mind. I work to achieve balance and symmetry, to move the eye across the page, to convey the story through photos and paper and words. My signature style, if you will, is a double page layout. 99% of the time I am working on two pages. That goes back to my yearbook staff training, where we were always to work through and across the gutter, to bring about cohesion even if the topics on the accompanying pages were unrelated. I could not tell you how long it takes me to make any specific page. I will tell you that I go until I am mentally done with it and I feel a sense of deep satisfaction with it. 

Since discovering Basic Grey in 2005, I have to admit that my deep love is patterned paper. I like to hold it, to buy it, to smell it, to cut it, to see it, to keep it. I love colors that play together and I love finding just the perfect paper to use on a layout. It can take me a long while to find the right paper for a layout. I start with my photos and usually gather the sampling of them that I think can fit on a layout together to weave the plot of what I want my words and story to convey.

Somewhere in between picking the photos and taping them down, I pull the paper and I also pick my sketch. I found sketches in 2005, too. Of course, CM had layout pages, but I loved going beyond the "creative copy this page" book to discover the sketch and work with the bones of a layout that could be interchangeable. Creating Keepsakes had two sketch books that I used over and over, and then I found Becky Fleck's Page Maps...and then in 2010, I hit the motherlode of sketches. Through Two Peas in a Bucket, also now gone, I found out about Scrapbook Generations' sketch books. I placed an order totaling $42 on January 23, 2010, and went on my merry way of actually finding a sketch tool that worked like I actually wanted to work. I believe I have every one of their sketch books, and now that they do downloads also, I have many electronic sketches on my iPad and printed out and added into my binder. {Which has grown from 1 binder now to 4.}

There are very few pages that I have made since that point where I have NOT used an SG sketch. I love the clean lines, the symmetry, the focus on using double page layouts, and, for the most part, featuring 4 x 6 photos. I love starting with a sketch (shown in the 3-ring binder on the layout below) and watching the page morph and develop into a layout that marries photos with story, creating a layout that I love.

Aside from pretty paper, fun photos and smart sketches, I love to use my Silhouette Cameo on layouts. I love to design layout elements and cut them out and know that what I am doing is unique in all the world. I love fonts. I love seeing it all come together. I have been up and down in my scrappy journey over the twenty years, but I will tell you that when I am not feeling the layout love, I can usually be lured back into the creative process by spending some time with my jpegs, finding something in the pixels that compels me to pull out the paper and begin again. 

I don't think I'll ever stop creating layouts. I hope not. I love the sheer creative fun in the process of it, and I love seeing an album fill up, and I love going back through my layouts, each almost like a child, and remembering what they say to me about when I made that layout, in addition to the story the photos set forth. This layout that I made in 2013 catalogs that I have scrapped every year for every National Scrapbook Day that has ever been held, going back to CM's inaugural NSD crop in May 1995. {How well I remember that first NSD, as I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest son.} 

I think the sticker I put on the layout sums up perfectly my affair with my paper and my photos that has been two decades in the making. "Do what you love and do it often." Scrap every chance you can. As I approach 50, I bear to heart the sentiment "You only live once." Of course, maybe as a scrapper, though, we can leave behind a little bit of ourselves, and our very own chapter of the scrapbook evolution.

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Lily Bee
Font: Pharmacy

I have three scrappy friends to share with you today. As Lisa tagged me, I am tagging them! Next Monday, they will have their blog post up for their turn on The Scrapbooker's Blog Tour. I would love for you to check them out!

Laurie Danielle is something I'll never be - the mother to a little darling girl! I've never scrapped "girl pages" and I just love her bright use of colors and the fun layouts she does of her little one! I am always inspired by her artistic bend. Check out her work on her blog, I think you'll love it!

Stephanie Feltus is a sweetie that I have had the pleasure of scrapping with more than once. I am always envious of her having started scrapbooking so young, before being married. She will have her whole life scrapped! Her blog address is and I would love for you to check our her work!

TinaGale Husong is another friend that I have had the pleasure of scrapping with. Not in my home state, and not in hers, but up in St. Louis! Tina is a Mickey fanatic, too, and so not only can we dish die cuts, but we can dish Disney. Her blog is and it is another great blog to check out! 

Thanks for stopping by on my turn at the Scrapbooker's Blog Tour! I'll be back next Monday with another story and layout, and a reminder to check out Laurie, Stephanie, and Tina Gale.


  1. Oh, I loved hearing your story, Penny. I hadn't even realized Creative Memories started that early. It is so wonderful for you and your sons that you captured their lives early and often. They and their families will treasure these books. Basic Grey still makes some of the prettiest papers. Glad to see that not everything has changed.

  2. I found myself nodding my head along with so many parts of your journey. I should really do a layout like this.

  3. Thanks for tagging me! I'm totally honored to have praise from a scrapper as experienced and awesome as you! What an amazing story you have. Thank you for sharing. :)

  4. Great LO, great subject to document. I am wondering about those cute black cameras along the top, are they stickers?

    1. Thanks so much. Those are from a Silhouette cut file - "heart camera" by Simple Stories, design ID 56651.