Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Story Central: Simply Amazing

I began the task of scrapbooking in a rather modest fashion, as a 29-year-old young, stay-at-home mom, working at the breakfast table with a stash of supplies that would fit into a Craftstor bin. 

Did you have one, too? I was rather proud of that bin. And then I required a second matching bin. And the coat closet, seldom used in the gulf winters of Houston, gave way to usher in a scrapbook closet. And before too much longer, the dining room became the formal living room, and the formal living room became a combination home office and scrapbook space. 

And that was just in the first house. I am about 3 months short of the 23rd anniversary of that day I went to that fated, memorable Creative Memories class. ;-) And in that span of time, over the course of twenty-three years, I have worked in the above scenarios: in the corner nook of a playroom, on the side of a bedroom, in 1/3 of a bonus room, in one corner of a home gym, in 1/2 of a home office, and now, finally, in the fifth home in which I've scrapped, and for the first time ever, I finally have my own whole room, dedicated completely to me, designed exclusively for me. It feels like heaven.

Of course, my style of scrapbooking has evolved and tectonically shifted as much in all the time which spans over two decades, just as the space in which I've worked. Thank goodness. ;-) I'm so glad I live in a scrapbooking world that contains the goodness of Echo Park, Carta Bella, and Simple Stories, all companies that have come along in the last ten years or so, companies that have come along "after the scrapbooking boom ended".

When we set about to move to our downsized nest, a downstairs study for my scrap space was on the must have list. When we found and selected the first house's floor plan, the Samuel, which had a 12 x 15 study, I was ecstatic. And then when we changed builders and neighborhoods, and selected and bought our Roseman floor plan, 8 months after the contract signing of the Samuel, it was delightful to discover a 12 x 15 study in it as well. 12 x 15!! So much real estate for my part-time love affair. I've come a long way from that scenario of one end of the breakfast table paired with a coat closet.

Not only was I granted the dream coming true of that much space all to myself, but I was given the permission, and the invitation, and the support by my husband to design my space. I initially planned to use stock Ikea cabinets. But as I thought about the Roseman and the finish-out of this second downsized house, the idea of a "second kitchen" right off the front door did not really appeal to me. I was driven back to Pinterest to start over on my design, and to find inspiration to go perhaps in even a new direction. Somewhere along the way, I saw a built-in secretary type of a bookcase, and my mind had a big light bulb moment, and I took to Numbers to draft up what would become my scrap space storage.

Two months. I spent over two months on the drawing. I studied everything I owned. I measured masses: height, width, quantity. I contemplated future buying potential, the need for expansion, my frequency of use, the need for accessibility.... Every little detail was poured over and over, and over with a fine tooth comb -- with 20 years of history and knowledge and desires and ideas. I decided I wanted to have an L-shaped workspace. I spaced out what would go where within the room. And then I took all of that information, and began slotting its space in the room, and into the designated wall of cabinetry. I finally got the design where I wanted it, and set back and waited for the house to be finished, and for it to become cabinet time.

When the house finished in November, I knew I would need to wait until after Steve's fiscal year-end for his assistance in overseeing the work, as his days off are more often than not weekdays. It was okay. I kept my design fresh in my mind, and busied myself with setting up the rest of the house, preparing for the holidays, having family over for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The New Year rolled around, and Steve's work fiscal year-end passed, and I set out to get quotes on my design. Four quotes. I went with the one that was in the middle on the pricing, and that offered a warranty on their work, and that when talking to him, felt like I was maybe talking to an uncle. Such a kind man. It took them seven long weeks from my meeting with them and paying my deposit on January 19 to the two-day installation which began on March 10. That's the time frame you're looking at for custom, complex work when you currently live in an area that has a booming home industry and several corporate relocations occurring.

Once I got a firm installation date set with my cabinet team, I could then schedule my painters. I had done my painter research during the long arduous weeks of the cabinet build. Armed with a few possible painting dates, I reached out and scheduled the painting. And then I set out to firm up my paint color choice. {Which selection I completely and absolutely adore 110%.} Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. My painting crew was as wonderful as my cabinet crew, but humidity and complications had the painting stretch from March 23 to March 31, and then I had to let the enamel based paint cure for 5 long days. The saying "Great things come to those who wait" had never felt more authentic.

Finally, finally move-in day arrived! The displaced scrapbook stash -- that had come out of four Expedits and been piled in the dining room, the living room, the retreat, the hallway, and one son's bedroom -- could finally begin coming downstairs to its new and beloved home. And as the migration commenced, the utter neglect of my basic and fundamental stash organizational discipline quickly became evident, and quickly came home to roost. Practically everything I went to put away had to be tweaked either by collating new purchases into the existing supplies, or by purging some unwanted excess, or by changing its storage container, and all too frequently, tweaking had to occur in all three areas. That is I guess the ultimate consequence for shopping for twenty-two months and not being able to properly put things away. I had some wonderful friends during this time that kept encouraging me as I waded through my self-made abyss of bliss.

I made lists. I prioritized. I had to go slowly and intentionally, as I wanted everything to be logical and accessible. I religiously studied my initial drawing, and had to adapt the placement of some things as I dealt with the actual masses of certain collections and the finalized dimensions of the cabinet uppers and drawers. {This is where I encountered and slayed daily my inner Perfectionist demon.} Every day I worked hard to cross things off that list. Sometimes the desire to empty a space upstairs would override the next logical thing on the list. I was balancing clearing out the chaos upstairs with creating order downstairs. As I finished or completed an area, I would highlight it in orange to let me know that section was full and done.

I was constantly collating new purchases into an existing stash. Sometimes I would find more of something that had been packed away with the wrong type of items, and have to revamp new spaces again. Lots of late nights. Innumerable trips to The Container Store. {When the managers at two locations greet you, you know you've been in too many times.} A frequent trip to Joann's and Michael's and Hobby Lobby, looking for the ideal storage was sometimes the back-up plan for failed Container Store excursions. Always carrying with me the dimensions for my necessities de jour, and more often than not, carrying my cabinet print out in my purse.

Thankfully, my husband was so patient as I sat in my new digs night after night, listening to reruns of HGTV, Modern Family, Everybody Loves Raymond, and Law & Order episodes. Who am I kidding? He, too, was ready for the return of order to the house! He even patiently spent one evening with me working on a new brad storage system. Poor guy. His lack of fingernails made the end of his fingers so sore and tender after countless times of peeling brads off of cardboard backers. And he's done more than that. He's done just anything I've needed him to! The day recently when he did "my cross wall" was such a day of joy to me. My space is nearly done. There is one pile that haunts me. And, full disclosure, there is memorabilia in the garage to deal with. I count that more on the Moving In/Housekeeping side of the To Do list rather than the Scrap Room Set-Up To Do list. ;-)

But, the small, resolute, lingering, seemingly indestructible pile aside, I'm ready. I'm ready to be done. {There will always be a pile, yes? It's time to move on! Yes? Yes!} I'm ready to play. I'm ready to stop cataloging and purging and organizing and placing. I'm ready to cut paper, and play with photos. I'm ready to sail past the "soft opening" test runs with my new space that I've experienced to meet some project deadlines. I'm ready to launch into the wide open clear spaces of unencumbered scrapping, endless projects going on, fun piles here and there, and embracing the freedom and the time to tell stories that need to be told, stories that are welling up inside of me, stories that are ready to be birthed.

As I contemplated and pondered Every.Little.Detail. of this space, from supply storage to stash placement to workflow to lighting to paint colors to fabric choices to wall decor to cabinet knobs, I came to realize that Scrap Central wasn't going to be the name of my play space anymore. That sounded not only a little pedestrian, but a little too negative. This beautiful new space isn't to be about scraps, it's to be about stories! It's to be about memories, and photos, and sharing what I love about the people I love, and the very good life that I am blessed to live.


  [stawr-ee, stohr-ee] 

nounplural stories.
a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
a fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
such narratives or tales as a branch of literature:
song and story.
the plot or succession of incidents of a novel, poem, drama, etc.:
The characterizations were good, but the story was weak.
a narration of an incident or a series of events or an example of these that is or may be narrated, as an anecdote, joke, etc.
a narration of the events in the life of a person or the existence of a thing, or such events as a subject for narration:
the story of medicine; the story of his life.
a report or account of a matter; statement or allegation:
The story goes that he rejected the offer.
a lie or fabrication:
What he said about himself turned out to be a story.
Obsolete. history.
verb (used with object)storied, storying.
to ornament with pictured scenes, as from history or legend.
Obsolete. to tell the history or story of.

And so I knew in my heart that when I unveiled my new space, I would be unveiling a new name as well: Story Central. 
Story: "A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale" or "A narration of the events in the life of a person...the story of his life." 
Yes, yes, one million yeses! That is what I want to be about - narrating the story of my life, and the life of my family. 

Thank you for hanging with me during the transition, during all the dusty, neglected days on this blog. It's definitely now time to turn a page and begin a new chapter in my book.  And so I unveil to you Story Central, my beautiful, custom, delightful spot from which I pray I will sit and share with you many more days of my crafting the good story I love. She is simply amazing.

Story Central ~ Documenting the Design ~ April 2017

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Simple Stories
Title Font: Watermelon Script

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

There's No Place Like Home

I unpacked the very last box on Sunday, and as of that day, we'd been in the house six days short of the seven month mark. I never expected it to take me that long to unpack, but there isn't anyone my age that doesn't expect life to throw you some curve balls, and to take them in stride is the best management plan. As I unpacked the box, I was acutely mindful of its contents: Demdaco angels that go on display in my scrapbook room. We knew when we moved in that there was no point in unpacking them, as we were going to have custom cabinets built. So when we came across that box, it and the box holding my crosses were set to the side "for later".

As I unpacked the angels and set them out on the kitchen island, I thought about the years of gifting they spanned. I think the earliest date that I saw inked onto the bottom of one was "May '01"...that would have been the first Mother's Day that we lived in McAllen, Texas. Steve would always take the boys to Quips and Quotes on North 10th Street to let them pick one or two out for me for Mother's Day, or Valentine's Day, or my birthday. And as I looked at all of them {I have 32}, I recalled little blonde-headed boys curling up on my lap, or, later, peering at me through awkward adolescent eyes, as we would sit around our dining room table over our family meal. And when I went to place them on the shelves in my now finished custom cabinets, I did not fret over running out of room. My collection fit perfectly, almost too perfectly, as if planned. But as it happens, it was just a serendipitous, organic moment of perfection. The angels fit perfectly, and I knew I need not worry about the collection growing any, or running out of room. Those little blonde-headed boys have of course grown up and gone away, and Mother's Day came and went this year without anything other than a phone call from New York, and a hug from my son who was with us in Florida.

Life goes on. Our whole exercise in downsizing, or right-sizing, and moving was in fact a testament to that, a full expectation that it would be just the two of us again. Steve and I have embraced the spectacularly mild May and June weather we have been having in north Texas, and he and I have sat out on either our new side patio or our front porch in the evenings as much as possible. As we sat on the side patio Thursday night, I asked him, now that we are basically completely settled in the house, and accustomed to most things around us and our new life, if he was content, or happy, with the choice we made to move. See, we are at the two year anniversary of "THE GREAT RIGHT-SIZING DECISION". ;-) You don't have to peer too far back on my cob-webbed and abandoned blog to see that this whole change began with a conversation on our Murphy front porch on Saturday, June 6, 2015, two years ago from today, the day I am "penning" this post. And as Steve and I talked Thursday night, we both came to the individual and mutual decision that it was the right decision, and we are far happier where we are now. Granted, it's been a long two years, full of lots of temporary situations, hard work, stress, and chaos, but unpacking that last box on Sunday signaled the virtual, and very real, end of it all. 

I've stopped binge watching HGTV. I started reading an actual fiction book Sunday night. The stress is off my shoulders. My level of internal joy is increasing and bubbling up inside me. I smile more. I hope more. I look toward the end of the day, the ensuing days, with possibility and positivity. I have resumed my walking at lunch. My Pottery Barn wish list has dwindled down to only some new bedding, {whenever they finally roll out something I like}. Steve and I have resumed our running. Sometimes I just sit down on the sofa and watch a show or take a nap -- because I can. {In fact, one night not too long ago, I sat on the sofa all night long and just watched TV for 3 hours. Unheard of!} He unloaded the box of a puzzle the other night to piece together. We've chatted with our neighbors. We've invited two couples over for dinner this coming weekend {our inaugural hospitality launch}. We've had our first full week vacation away from our new home. {I missed my home!} We've started our builders' warranty work list. And goodness, it's almost unfathomable to comprehend that we have almost been in the house for seven months, but it's true. I've been working on settling in almost non-stop that entire time, and my body can tell you it's true. ;-) Time does fly.  All these days here have been full, busy, productive, and they have flown by.

And in addition to settling down in the house, I'm settling down now in the scrapbook room. March, April, and May have been a crafty flurry of chaos, mayhem, and organizational rabbit holes. I've lived my life for so many months with a DAILY TO DO LIST, and my lists, for the house and the craft room, are nearing their collective ends. I don't know what I'll do with myself! Wait, yes, I do! I ordered some paper today for a specific set of photos, and I am itching to get to scrapping them! But not just yet, as this week I am seriously focusing on wrapping up the last of the moving in of my scrapbook room. I am down to the final items on my list, and that will mean I can finally live the life I designed! ;-) 

I am, admittedly {and surprisingly to me} suffering a little anxiety at finally being finished with everything, and I am internally adapting to no longer needing to search for ideas, research choices, make decisions, shop for things...but at the same time, I am very eager to re-define and re-shape a new normal! I guess after nearly two years of designing and deciding, it's normal that it has consumed me, and it's normal that it's ending, and it's normal, I hope!, to need to adapt to the change. I have scrapped some basic layouts in my new space during April and May, and I have to say the "test runs", or "soft opening", of the new room's custom configuration have gone very well and leave me longing, finally, to once again and un-abandonedly scrap! I am about to be once again where desire and feasibility collide, and yet in a new way, as I've never before experienced a personal, customized space!

So the last box is unpacked, and the last stack of things to put away sits on my built-in desk, and all the collective lists are nearly done. It finally, finally is about over. The dream we launched 24 months ago, the dream we agonized over for 16 months in an apartment, the dream we have been working on in the house for the last nearly seven months - the dream has now come true! I'm really, really about to live the life I designed. And the house, somewhat like the angels fitting on their shelves, fits us perfectly right now. It's been a serendipitous, organic process, and it feels like perfection. It feels like home. Home Sweet Home. There's just no place like it. 

Home Sweet Home ~ Our New Home ~ November 2016

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Lily Bee, Simple Stories
Title: Silhouette File

Thursday, January 19, 2017

You Do Not Find the Happy Life, You Make It

I used that Thomas Monson quote on my February 25, 2016 blog post, and didn't realize at the time that I would blow up my plans 3 days later and start from scratch. I didn't realize or have any way of knowing just how busy I would be in 2016 making, or constructing and building, that happy life.

Today we hit the 10 week mark of being in our new home! Most days I pinch myself, just to see if it's real. I am thrilled with how it turned out, satisfied with the unpacking pace, and eager to embrace 2017 and find our new normal life again. I got my car into the garage on Sunday, so that truly means we are in and just about all done unpacking, right? ;-) 

This time last year, we stood on a slab in full despair of ever seeing "our dream house" begin. Who knew this time last year that we would turn our world upside down by canceling that contract on February 28, 2016, extend the agony of building, and that I would post quarterly on this blog, vs. my ideal (dream) goal of weekly? Like I have said many times since February 2016, sometimes God shatters your dream to give birth to a bigger and better dream. Yes, yes He does.

I haven't photographed our new home much yet, because we still haven't got everything on the walls, and there's one more piece of furniture I want to reupholster, and there's a box in our bedroom, and the study lacks its built-in cabinets, and the list goes on and on. ;-) But, the holidays are behind me, my oldest son came and went in a Thanksgiving and Christmas swirl, and is now back in Nashville in his last semester of college, the Christmas rush is through and the decorations are put away, the unpacking frenzy is for all intents and purposes finished, and I can sit at my worktable in Scrap Central and breathe. And think. And ponder. And itch to create. And print photos. And cut paper. It feels so good to have a spot again, albeit an unfinished spot. And I am excited for all of the story telling I can accomplish in 2017. 

But before I head fully into a new year in our new home, I wanted to share with you all my layouts I created in June and July of 2016 that documented our old home. I only completed 99 layouts in 2016, the lowest amount of scrapbook pages I've ever done since beginning to scrapbook in 1994. Out of those 99, these are my favorites by far. These photos, these memories, these layouts were so instrumental in helping me hold together my sanity in the dog days of summer 2016 in the hot, cramped, dark apartment. And they pay homage to our beautiful old home, they document her splendor, they let me say goodbye properly to her, and ultimately they open the door for me to fully embrace our new home, and all the story telling it will cultivate, and all the memories it will create. 

Yes, you do not find the happy life, you make it. One day at a time, one story at a time, one decision at a time, one moment at a time. And once you make it, hang on to it, and embrace it. Hello beautiful new home, hello crisp new year, goodbye old home, goodbye 2016.

There's No Place Like Home ~ June 2015 ~ Remembering Murphy Manor

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: October Afternoon, Simple Stories
Title Fonts: Ballerina Script