Friday, February 26, 2016

Perfect Collection + Super Savers

One of the story prompts from the Lisa Bearnson 50 Moments book that I mentioned in my last post is about "the last time you learned anything." When Maria posted that prompt to work from, I'll be honest and confess that it didn't really speak to me, and I passed for now on making a layout from that prompt. For one, I'm in some ways constantly learning something, and in other ways it feels like I'm not really discovering anything new. Know what I mean? For instance, I'm constantly struggling to stay abreast of technology, and Google something almost every day, but I don't feel that a new idea has sparked my brain for awhile. Especially in scrapbooking! I mean, I've been scrapping for 21 1/2 years! 

And then last night I was looking through some layouts I need to put away, and I realized that the concept that I used to make these layouts was new to me, and I did learn something, and I stretched myself in a new way. Grab a cup of coffee and let me show you.

Now, since we are coffee sipping, soul sharing, scrapbook loving sisters, I need to tell you a secret. But you have to promise not to tell, and you have to promise to still be my friend after I tell you. ;-) There is a certain prolific and well known scrapper that many, many people love, and she is so popular the she is also a super hero kind of scrapper and she's so famous that she's also been in the Olympic opening ceremonies. She's cute as a button, and she does wonderful work, but it's just not work to my taste, and I've just never jumped on the fan bandwagon. I'll peek at her stuff every now and again, but I'm not big on glitter after all, and so there. I'll say it. I'm not atwitter over Miss Glitter.

But, you're never too old to learn, yes? So many of my scrappy peeps have taken and loved Shimelle Lane's Perfect Collection class. I've watched them post their results, and I've oohed and aahed over their beautiful pages, but I never had an interest in the concept, or in taking the actual class. I studied their finished pages, and even the corresponding Perfect Collection cutting guide, but I just would not tiptoe in to the murky waters. {It's all the layering of the paper, and the fact that they are all predominantly single page layouts that holds me back, personally. Again, lovely work. Just not my style, per se.} From what I gather, having not purchased Shimelle's class, the premise behind the class, if I may, is that you take an entire collection pack of patterned paper, and {brace yourself for the horror}, you cut the whole thing up according to her cutting guide that you can download, irrespective of {and in advance of making} any planned layouts. And then you have all these piles of cut up patterned paper that you begin to cobble together to fashion into layouts.

Whew. That's so much to process! Typing it up is just as hard as my imagining doing it! ;-) Well, after watching my scrappy peeps go through this class together a couple of times, I was more intrigued, but still unconvinced. Until Heather shared her adaptation of Shimelle's concept. Heather makes "base pages". She, rather than cutting up the paper without a plan, cut into the pack with a purpose. She cut up the whole collection, layout by layout. And she shared her amazing "base pages". And my wheels really started churning!

And so I took Heather's idea - and here's my 50 Moments what I learned lightbulb - I could make this concept all my own! I could take a whole collection, and marry it with my wheelhouse, my go-to style: I could use some sketches by Scrapbook Generation! I could cut up the paper according to some selected sketches and, like Heather, map out my layouts as I went along, versus just random cutting. Now, I was interested, and intrigued, and excited! My first introduction to Scrapbook Generation sketches was back in January 2010 when I purchased two of their books. Shortly after that, I subscribed to their Super Sketch Club, and it's been a long lasting love affair ever since. 

As I puzzled with the concept of how to cut apart an entire collection, and how to marry it with some SG sketches, I had the idea to go to previous months' Super Sketch Club sketches. {Always keep those sketches!} Now, if you are not familiar with the Scrapbook Generation Super Sketch Club, it is a monthly subscription to a brilliant cellophane bag of paper and sketches - patterned paper and cardstock to make 5 double page layouts, based on the included 7 sketches. The Super Sketch Club has each month a Super Saver component, and then two other double layouts, one designed by Debbie and one designed by Allison. You get a sampling of three lines of paper between it all, and the supplies to churn out 10 completed pages when using their sketch instructions. The true genius in the Super Saver kit component is that you will get THREE double layouts from THREE sheets of paper, hence the super saver name. ;-) 

So, for years I've had exposure to and experience with cutting up 3 pieces of paper at a time and cobbling it into layouts. For the record, when I do cut up my Super Saver kits, I always lay the cardstock out as a base, and as I follow the directions for Layout 1, Layout 2, and Layout 3, I set the corresponding cut papers onto the cardstock base that will become that layout. So, what's not to love about multiplication?! I could take this method for cutting 3 sheets of paper and cut up 12! Yes? Yes! So, I thought I would share how I did this and perhaps pay it forward on the inspiration. As Ginny and Janet and Heather inspired me, maybe I could inspire you. Maybe something I share, or something I did, will get you ready to try this. I loved it so much that I am already dying to do it again.

Step One: Pick your paper. I went with the topic of Christmas because first of all, I have a million Christmas photos that need to be scrapped, and second, I have almost that many pieces of Christmas patterned paper. I felt the risk level was low here, since I wouldn't be cutting into anything rare, and I felt like the opportunity for success was high, since I had a broad myriad of Christmas photos to pick from. Also, I felt like since there are so many Christmas ideas and embellishments available, I would have on hand the tools needed to make any layout look polished and finished by the end.

I chose Authentique's Believe. I just adore this paper. Adore.

Step Two: Pick your plan. Use Shimelle's cutting guide if that is your style, or pick some sketches you can work from, or if you are a Super Saver subscriber, dust off those old sketches and find some that will work. Personally, I studied all the photos from the Super Saver photo downloads, and found three months that I thought offered layout styles that would work for Christmas: January 2015, February 2015, and November 2015. I picked 8 of the 9 layouts from these 3 months to complete. I knew I would also complete one single page layout with the "big background" paper in the collection.

After I had my sketches selected, I then assigned certain sheets of the Authentique Believe papers to become the papers on the sketches, three sheets of paper per sketch set. I didn't study too long, but I did assign my "stripe" to be the plaid and then I looked for opposite colorings, for instance going red and green, vs. red and red. For most of the assigning and cutting phase, I had cardstock spread all over the apartment to "catch" the paper that was assigned to that layout. If you make some notes on your sketches, and go slowly, this part is not too confusing.

My friend Ginny suggested a great place to start cutting, when you are overwhelmed, or not sure where to begin, is to remove the branding strips from the paper. Brilliant! An easy start. And how fun is it to see all those branding strips relegated to a discard pile. Instant progress!

These are the sheets of paper that I pulled that did not get assigned to a sketch, but were set to the side to use later in the finishing phases:

  • The big background paper for a single page layout.
  • The red circle paper that I knew I would circle punch for a border across the bottom half of one of the double page layouts.
  • The tan Christmas trees for filler and balance as needed.
  • The cut aparts. I cut them all apart and had them on hand to pull in as needed. I'm not big on these being my only title, so I didn't end up using too many of them. The backside was a boring blue, so I didn't plan to use it anyway.
  • The sticker sheet that came with the collection. I knew this would come in handy later!
  • The scraps left over after I cut. I knew these would become some strips here and there on the other layouts. (Also see close up shot in the second photo.)

Step Three: Begin cutting! As I mentioned, given Heather's concept, I cut with a purpose. I cut each Super Saver set together, and cut per each sketch's instructions. I set each paper on top of the cardstock so I could really see my layouts coming together. I had also printed out letter size black and white copies of the Super Saver photos, and I set that down on the cardstock, too, to help me visualize the end result - and to keep me on track! {I have blurred the details of the Super Saver photos out of respect to Scrapbook Generation and their copyrights.} It didn't take long for me to SEE that this idea would work and the time spent "apportioning", or delegating, papers to sketches was time well spent for me!

Step Four: Adhere your paper, and paper only! This is where you will tape down all of your papers, creating the "canvas" of your layout upon which you will drop your photos. Remember, at this point, you haven't even selected or touched photos! This process is all layout/paper driven! This step went fairly fast. And used a lot of ATG tape. ;-) You could definitely now see the bones of the layouts and the hard part at this point is over!!

Step Five: Add photos. Not much explanation needed here. I personally had the photo suggestions from the Super Saver sketches that I used, and I tweaked them slightly as needed to get my photos to match up with the sketch's foundation. This is a really fun phase, because you can really finally see the full vision for your layouts! And what a lovely stack it will be! {Some of these photos might be slightly askew. Apartment winter photographing is a little challenging.}

Step Six: Embellish and journal! This is the very fun part and this is where you might stall! Don't! Finish strong! A big pile of goodness waits for you! I love, love, love how they all turned out. They stretched me from beginning to end in the process, but it was a wonderful learning experience!

~ Christmas Pajamas ~

~ 'Tis the Season to be Jolly ~

~ White Christmas ~

~ Joy and Family ~

 ~ Home for the Holidays ~

 ~ The Best Holiday Presents are the Memories ~

~ Christmas Cheer ~

~ A Merry Little Christmas ~
{this layout was not get photographed in it's pre-photo phase}

~ Oh Christmas Tree ~

And just because you might be wondering, here is what was left over after it was all said and done. I started with 12 sheets of patterned paper, added in some Bazzill French Vanilla and Cardinal cardstock, added in 1 piece of the coordinating 6x6 paper pad, and then ended up with 17 completed pages, and this small pile of scraps, which is mostly extra cut aparts from the journaling card sheet of paper.

What I learned:

  • Pick paper you love. You will get tired of it. But you can fall back in love with it when you are finished.
  • Pick paper you have plenty of. You won't want to worry about cutting mistakes and not having enough to go the distance.
  • Pick paper that complements some other paper you have, in case you get stuck, want a little extra flair, or need some extra element. 
  • Don't be afraid of the big background pattern if your selected collection includes one.
  • Set aside one or two sheets that you can fussy cut or punch for some coordinating pops of color.
  • Working with one theme is simplistic and wonderful, because your same embellishments will work on all of the pages and you pull them out in one big batch.
  • Vary your sketches to get horizontal and vertical photos. I felt like I did too many horizontal-only sketches when I was trying to pull photos to match the sketches.
  • Commit to finishing. There were stages along the way where I hated how it was looking. But, it all worked out and I love where each layout ended. {There are still a couple I'd like to tweak and may yet add something.}
  • Cut your titles in batches to save time. Vary how they look.
  • Work across a span of years if you don't want an overflow of one single set of Christmas papers representing one year.
  • Give yourself a deadline. You WILL get tired of all this stuff being out everywhere.
I'd have to say, when it's all said and  done, it is a perfect idea, and a super set of layouts. Where this all gets interesting is that I began my initial set of cuts on the Sunday of MLK weekend, I believe: January 17. And I finished the last step on the last layout on February 11. 17 pages in 26 days. {I did also work on other things in between.} The photo at the top of this post is my Expedit. As I finished a layout, I'd set it up there. Watching those cubes fill up was fun and it was wonderful to see the big picture of the completed process! I can't wait to try it again. I'm deliberating on another round of Christmas, or trying Fall or tackling Birthdays.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Headed to Happy

There is a guy at work that I sometimes see at the coffee bar. I give him the normal casual “Hello” or “How are you?” when our paths collide. The thing that I notice about him is that he always answers the second greeting the same way – “GREAT!” and honestly it sort of gets on my nerves. How can he be GREAT every day? I asked him once when he answered, “How is it that you always answer great?” to which he replied, “Because I am great every day, aren’t you?” I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, slowly turned my head, and replied, “No. I’m not always great. Some days I’m just good.” I think a lot about him when I am mulling over my days, taking the pulse on the good life, thinking about the day to day workaday world we live in. I guess I tend toward realism and pragmatism far too much. But, I’m okay with that.

I don’t mean to sound negative, or depressed, or down. I’m not really currently considering myself any of those. It’s just that I don’t think I’ll ever achieve “GREAT!” at the coffee bar at work! ;-) I will admit I have been thinking a lot lately about it all. I’ll also admit one year ago, you could not have made me believe that we would be living in an apartment right now, having sold our beautiful David Weekley home in Murphy, and that we would still be three or four months away from being back in a house of our own. I like to think most days that we are making the right move. Some days it is easier to believe that than others.

For all practical purposes, we are in a tough spot right now, or should I say an uncomfortable spot. {I know this isn't tough. It's just the brat in me getting weary.} The house was initially supposed to be finished “January or February” and folks, let’s face it. There are just a handful of days left in February, and today our house does not even have brick on the exterior, or drywall on the studs. It’s just a shell of what is to come – a glimpse of what it will be. And sometimes to see my dream, I have to squint just so, dig deep into my mind, and conjure up my Pinterest boards to even have a vision of what will be the final product. We aren’t getting into the house anytime soon, and we are sentenced to more days in the apartment. It’s frustrating. It’s isolating. It’s stressful. It’s annoying. It’s an inconvenience. It’s costing us money. It’s preventing us from having any company. It’s freaking out my dog. The end result – our dream – seems so far away.

We had a chance to FaceTime with Philip last night. About halfway through he said, “Y’all are just SO DOWN.” {Yes, yes we are. Right now we are.} It was really an adjustment for him, I think, to see us so down. See, not only is the building going slow, but there are mistakes. Yesterday we were to finally have a meeting with the General Manager, in the hopes of resolution and forward progress, and she came down with bronchitis and had to postpone the meeting. I had carried with me for a few days such high hopes of finally getting some things resolved and having the opportunity to keep the house progressing. When the meeting fell through, I just didn’t have anything left in me to summon up good, much less “GREAT!” I felt a little bad for our son, but at the same time I thought, “It’s okay for him to know that the struggle is real sometimes for all of us.” And I won’t apologize for being human and working my way through an ordeal.

But, I know I need to suck it up a little and keep my chin up. We have too many days left in the apartment to be so down every day. {I think we have more than 90 days left, but less than 120. I should stop counting.} I was reminded yesterday of this layout I completed a few weeks back. Sometimes our scrapping can be oh, so timely. Awhile back my friend Janet had shared 50 Moments - Scrapbook The Pages That Matter Most, a book by Lisa Bearnson. I was intrigued and promptly bought the book, with wonderful intentions. The boys graduating high school and my nest emptying pushed that book onto a shelf and the project to the back burner. I just didn’t get around to working on any of the story prompts until another friend Maria initiated a group challenge with my Peeps during 2016. Maria’s first prompt that she selected, serendipitously, was HAPPY. 

Oh, goodness. It immediately brought to mind a road trip from McAllen to Colorado that I took in 2002. On that trip, I drove through a town in Texas named Happy, and I remember really pondering - still to this day even 13 years later - the road sign that stated Happy was 6 miles away. I coined the phrase in my head “6 miles from Happy” and reflected - then and continually - on how many people can live so much of their lives just outside the boundaries of Happy. {Can you see where I’m headed here? Need that road map?} ;-) Well, when Maria shared that particular 50 Moments Happy prompt, I knew it was time to document this story. I just didn’t admit as I scrapped the story last month that I would need to force myself so completely to live inside it. The layout includes a quote that I really can’t shake off of my heart today, 

“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings. It’s something we make inside ourselves.” 
                      – Corrie Ten Boom
So many times we live waiting on the IF/WHEN scenario. I’ll be happy when….I’ll be successful when…I’ll be better when…And it goes on and on, in a circuitous infinite loop. I learned this lesson back in my 30’s. Taught it to my sons. Coined a phrase. “Choose joy. Because it is a choice.” All the times I retorted “Choose joy" to my sons are all coming back now to haunt me. OR, that phrase is coming back to renew me, to remind me, to refresh me. To give me hope. To help me hang on. I don’t want to live 6 miles from Happy. I want to live right smackdab in the big fat middle of Happy. No matter wherever Happy may be.

Yes, my life’s walls might temporarily be on hold. There may not be many picture perfect shots right now. The apartment lighting might be terrible. The neighbors might be loud and annoying. This is my {albeit temporary} Happy. I need to live out the truth that happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings. It’s something we make inside ourselves. In the spirit of looking at things from a better perspective, of having hope, of hanging on, here's a photo of where the house is today. 

"Of this be sure: you do not find the happy life, you make it."
- Thomas S. Monson

Here's to making our happy. 

I’m sorry I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from blogging. I have continued scrapping. I just have been wallowing in my situation and avoiding writing. I’m going to aim to do better. Hang on. This year might be a bit bumpy, but we can still enjoy the ride. And remember I'm not aiming for "Great!" My course is headed to Happy.

Today is a Great Day to be Happy ~ 50 Moments ~ January 2016
Paper: Basic Simple Stories
Title: Silhouette Cut File