Saturday, 30 January 2010

This is why I scrapbook

Like Shimelle, I don't fit the conventional stereotype that is so often associated with that curious enigma...the 'scrapbooker.' I don't have any children. Or grandchildren. Or pets. I am, in fact, an unmarried, 23 year old postgraduate student.

So, why scrapbook?

Had it not been for one person in particular, it is highly likely that I would never have discovered scrapbooking as we understand it today. That person is Mrs. Rose.
Back in 2004, I spent a year living and studying in the U.S. (Memphis, TN to be exact). As a high school senior, I lived with 9 host families who had daughters in my class (I also lived with my AP English teacher), changing families roughly every three weeks. Mrs. Rose was one of my 'host moms.' She was also a scrapbooker.

When I mentioned to Mrs. Rose that I wanted to make a scrapbook of my photos, mementos and memorabilia from my 'Senior year' (it's always such a novelty for me to be able to say that!), I envisioned some sort of album, some scissors and a glue stick...nothing fancy or complicated...just a simple keepsake to acknowledge my own 'American dream.'

But then Mrs. Rose led me through an innocuous reveal her very own scrapbooking room. This, for me, was a total revelation. I had never, ever heard of such a thing. And, as she gave me a tour of her scrapping space and her supplies, I realised that I had pretty much died and gone to heaven.
Mrs. Rose equipped me with my very own pink post-bound scrapbook album, a Fiskars paper trimmer, a pair of Cutter Bee Precision-Cut Scissors and some Tombow adhesive. She gave me her permission to delve into her supply of cardstock and patterned papers. She even let me use her original Sizzix Personal Die-Cutter, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever...And then she took me to Michaels.

I was smitten.

Of course I realise now - six years later - that my first foray into scrapbooking didn't just satisfy my life-long stationery addiction. At the time, it helped me to get through several bouts of homesickness. It became a catharsis. It was a way of processing an incredible and totally life-changing experience. It was a way of preserving this experience...and, most importantly of all, it was a way of doing it justice.

And this is why I scrapbook.

I scrapbook because I am blessed with a fantastic family, a wonderful boyfriend and some fabulous friends. I scrapbook because I love this life that I lead. I scrapbook because one day I want my children to understand who I was...and who I am. I scrapbook to process and preserve the past. I scrapbook because I want to do my experiences and my memories justice. I scrapbook simply because it is something that I love to do. And I scrapbook because of Mrs. Rose.

Thank you, Mrs. Rose.
*Click here to view this layout in full...

Monday, 25 January 2010

Where has the time gone?!

Wow, has it seriously been over a week already? The last few days have honestly gone by in a blur - after being snowed in for 8 days, things are definitely back to reality! Speaking of being snowed in, I have a couple of layouts to share with you:

Cardstock in Rouge, White and Stone, American Crafts; Kraft and white Dotted Swiss cardstock (inner circle), Bazzill Basics Paper; Apron Lace punch, Fiskars; circles and snowflakes cut using Making Memories Slice Cordless Design Cutter (with Mistletoe Design Card); letter stickers, Jenni Bowlin Studio; snowflake peel offs, Stampendous; font is Another Typewriter from; bling and ribbon from stash.

We had a phenomenal amount of snow at the beginning of January! As you can probably imagine, there were plenty of opportunities to photograph the snow-covered landscape/our garden, so I selected a few of my absolute favourites for this particular layout. I was originally thinking of making a grid in Picasa, but then I came across sketch 169 by Susan Dupre over at Pencil Lines....

...which seemed to incorporate enough photos without looking too cluttered (if you know what I mean). Susan's own layout was also snow-themed, which pretty much cinched it for me! I scraplifted some elements from her original layout, such as the snowflakes and the ribbon, and then adapted the remainder of the sketch to suit the photos and the overall theme of my layout (I was going for an 'Aspen,' 'log cabin' sort of vibe).

As a side note, I should probably add that I am pretty much obsessed with Pencil Lines at the moment! I love the versatility of their sketches and the incredible inspiration that their design team provides each week. And, I'm SO excited about the release of Pencil Lines, a Sketch Book for Scrapbookers...I'm a big fan of the original Scrapbook Page Maps, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the Pencil Lines book will provide some new ideas!

Anyhoo, here is the second layout:

White Dotted Swiss cardstock, Bazzill Basics Paper; patterned paper, all Jenni Bowlin Studio; glitter cardstock from stash; Scallop Sentiment punch, Fiskars; font is Another Typewriter from; letter stickers include Jenni Bowlin Tiny Circle Alpha Cardstock stickers, My Little Shoebox Mini Alpha Stickers and American Crafts Thickers (Subway).

I just want to reassure everyone that the hat I'm wearing in these photographs is 100% faux fur!

I was so excited to finally be able to wear my scarf and mittens set that I bought in the January sales last year, hence these photos! It turns out that British winters are ordinarily just a bit too mild for such a big, thick scarf...but the 'big freeze' provided the perfect opportunity to wrap up warm! This layout actually came together quite quickly, which is a bit of a rarity for me...I suppose I love the process as much as the satisfaction of finishing the 'end product'...

And, just in case you were wondering how much snow we had at the beginning of January, here is a 'before and after' comparison of the snow we had in our orchard just before Christmas (blogged here) and the snow during the first week of January:

A little known fact about me: meteorology is my guilty little pleasure...Storm Chasers is one of my absolute favourite TV shows (I have a bit of a thing for Reed Timmer) and I check pretty much everyday. Yup, I'm a self-confessed nerd.

Ooh, and if you want to see some more snow photos, check out my 'Snow' Flickr set.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Special delivery...

I LOVE getting things in the post. I get particularly excited about magazine subscriptions and catalogues, but even bills have been known to get my heart racing (mostly because they make me feel like a grown up). Today was such a day. This morning, our poor postman toiled through the slush and snow to deliver this:

Wow. Let me say first that I love Elizabeth Kartchner. I love her blog. I love her layouts. I practically fell off my swivel seat when I found out that she was collaborating with American Crafts to create her own line of patterned paper and embellishments. And, I love this book. Yes, it is visually stunning...and yes, it is full of fresh, inspiring and innovative ideas. But, more than anything, it just makes me unashamedly and deliriously happy.

And then, round about midday, the doorbell rang. This materialised:

Until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond). Another wow. I am totally, completely and utterly in awe of her achievements. This woman makes me does she find time to be married to a rancher, raise four children, homeschool said children, plan and publish a cookbook (which made it to the no. 1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller list), maintain a blog and pursue her interest in photography??? I haven't even included the delectable Charlie in this list, who deserves specific mention, mostly because I am very taken with his droopy ears and Eeyore-esque demeanour. I have a newfound love for Basset Hounds. Like her blog, The Pioneer Woman Cooks is accessible, endearing and tantalisingly mouthwatering. She posts recipes on her blog almost daily, so head on over and take a little peek if you haven't already done so. While you're there, be sure to check out From Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll be there for days.

Before I head off, I have couple of links to share: the first I found via Kevin and Amanda (always a favourite) - This is a scrapbooker's allows you to experiment with different colourways and themes. It even allows you to upload pictures from your computer or Flickr (and picks out the corresponding colours for you). Very cool. Also, with CHA Winter 2010 fast approaching, I am loving the sneaks and reveals that are cropping up all over the blogosphere at the moment. I think that this line by Cosmo Cricket might be one of my favourites of all time (seriously):

It reminds me just a little bit of Studio Calico's Home Front. I L-O-V-E it.

Thank you so much for your comments on the post below! If you have any hints or tips about how you go about accumulating your stash in an inexpensive/cost effective way, be sure to let me know!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Snowed in = scrap happy

So, after this post about the snow that we had just before Christmas, it started to snow again...with a vengeance. To date, we've had about 15 inches of snow...and we've been snowed in for the past week (as I might have mentioned, we just can't handle snow in our neck of the woods). And, like most self-respecting scrappers with too much time on their hands, I've been getting busy with my glue stick.

* Once my laptop is fixed I'll scan these layouts and upload them to Flickr - despite my best efforts, Picasa and Photobucket keep removing my edits. I hate technology sometimes...

Cardstock in Rouge and Vanilla, American Crafts; Kraft, Bazzill Basics Paper; patterned papers, all Jenni Bowlin Studio; Subway Thickers, American Crafts; Tiny Circle Alphas, Jenni Bowlin Studio; scalloped circles cut using Spellbinders Nestabilities (Classic Scalloped Circles Small) using a Cuttlebug; font, American Typewriter.

'{2010}': Inspired by a layout featured in the December issue of Creating Keepsakes (I left the magazine in London, so my apologies for not providing specific credit!). My resolutions are organised by theme in each of the scalloped circles, e.g. scrapping, cooking, budgeting etc. - I wanted the layout to be simple and to the point.

For my 2010 album, I've challenged myself to use just one core manufacturer a month. I think this idea might require some explanation, so bear with me...(!) I originally started scrapping in 2004, but took a four year hiatus while I completed my BA. After graduating last year, I resurrected my passion for scrapbooking, only to find that a lot had understandably changed! And experimental phase began. I wanted to try everything...every product...every technique...I was (*shudder*) out of control. More importantly, my endless enthusiasm was costing me a small fortune. But, by using one manufacturer a month, I still get to play with new products and pretty paper spending is just that little bit more sustainable.

Cardstock in Rouge, Vanilla and Coffee, American Crafts; Apron Lace punch, Fiskars; square punch, Woodware; patterned papers, all Jenni Bowlin Studio; Cardstock Alpha Stickers (Red Bookprint), Jenni Bowlin Studio; tiny Alphabet Stickers, My Little Shoebox.

'Believe': My One Little Word layout - I couldn't find the quite right words for my journaling, so I used some inspirational quotes instead.

I should probably mention that this isn't supposed to be restrictive - it's supposed to be cost effective. There are some products that I know I couldn't live without...including:
  • The obligatory Thickers.
  • Punches. I. LOVE. THEM.
  • Any kind of alphabet stickers. My current favourites are Tiny Alphas (Making Memories), Tiny Circle Alphas (JBS) and Alphabet Stickers (My Little Shoebox).
  • Bling. I have a sneaky suspicion that I was a magpie in a former life.

I've already included all of these on my 2010 layouts so far (I have a couple more to post later on in the week). I can also pretty much guarantee that this list will get a whole lot bigger as the year progresses, because I'm learning what I love to use (and what suits me best). And, if you're anything like me (a chronic perfectionist), having just a few papers to hand - as well as a limited colourway - makes life a lot easier. I also love the consistency of the layouts...which I'm hoping will work well for Project 12 @ Scrapbook & Cards Today.

Cardstock in Stone and Rouge, American Crafts; Dotted Swiss cardstock, Bazzill; butterfly punch, Martha Stewart; patterned paper, Jenni Bowlin Studio; Tiny Alpha stickers, Making Memories; Effervescence punch, Fiskars; adhesive pearls, from stash.

'2009 Facebook statuses': I originally got this idea from Molly Irwin's blog. I was amazed by how my facebook statuses so accurately depict my 2009 - panicking about my dissertation, booking my first driving lesson, taking my last ever French exam, graduating...the sad passing of both my hamster and my dog (I'd had him since I was five years old!). If you haven't done it yet, you can find it here.

I'm curious - how do you go about accumulating your stash? Do you buy impulsively or do you plan ahead? Do you have a favourite manufacturer? I'd love to get some different perspectives!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

On the twelfth day of Christmas (sort of)

On Christmas Eve:

We finished decorating the tree...

...and we finished decorating the rest of the house.

We spent a little while admiring our handiwork.

We had mulled wine after Church.

I wrapped stocking presents...

...and big presents.

On Christmas Day:

We opened our stockings.

We had some of this.

We opened these.

We had some more mulled wine.

And then we rolled off to bed.

The end. (I promise).

Monday, 4 January 2010

Oh the weather outside is frightful...

Snow is a rare and wonderful thing in my neck of the woods (London/South East England). If it snows at all, it usually does so in February or early March...and we are woefully ill-equipped to handle it. So, imagine our collective surprise when the first flurries of snow appeared in the week before Christmas. Not only did it settle (which is pretty exciting in itself) just kept on snowing. And then imagine the disruption and mass hysteria that followed. People found themselves snowed in with 5cm (2") of snow. The roads and pavements were treacherous. Waitrose - the local supermarket - could not receive deliveries. Those people who weren't snowed in were advised to stay indoors. The media was busily making inflammatory and accusatory comments about the sorry state of the local infrastructure. Weathermen (and women) pretty much predicted that the apocalypse was coming.

And I was giddy excitement, because only the day before it had started to snow, I had put together my 'Wintertime' layout for my JYC album, which bemoaned the lack of snow in December.

Luckily, just as the snow started to descend from the heavens, I returned to my country mouse roots. Don't get me wrong...I love London in the snow (it's almost as though someone has pushed the mute button it becomes so deathly silent), but there is something so totally magical about the countryside when it is blanketed with snow. Pretty much the first thing that I did when I got home was 'borrow' one of my mother's winter coats which sort of resembled a snuggly quilted duvet (because I'm far too impractical to own such things) and traipse around outside with my camera in hand.

I love how snow tells a story. More often than not, we have absolutely no idea what goes on in our garden (with the exception of the occasional sightings of foxes, rabbits and deer). But the footprints left by wayward furry visitors painted an exciting picture of the Disney-esque happenings when our backs are turned. The orchard looked as though it had survived a stampede in the morning, while cold little birds congregated outside our kitchen window, grateful for the bird seed and bread that had been laid out for them.

I also love how even the most mundane, seemingly uninteresting and unremarkable elements of our everyday lives become beautiful in their own right when it snows. Our brown and bedraggled hydrangeas were transformed by the glistening snow, as was this pile of tree trunks.

Sadly, the snow had almost completely melted by Christmas day. But, the cold weather has continued into 2010 and it is supposed to snow again tonight...and intermittently over the next few days. It is very, very chilly indeed. Bring on the mass hysteria (part 2).

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Blog love

Yesterday evening I gave my blog some much needed TLC. If you're reading this post in Google Reader, hop on over to Life & Layouts to check out the amazing blogs that I have added to my blog roll!

Since taking Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers class, my list of subscriptions in Google Reader has increased to ten times the size that it was three months ago. Madness. The blogs to your right are those that provide me with endless hours of entertainment and inspiration. Some are on my wavelength, some make me think outside of the box...all of them inspire me to become a better scrapbooker, cook, photographer and person. Thanks to the Pioneer Woman, I would also quite like to live on a ranch. I know that the list will grow in 2010, and I seriously need to think up some imaginative titles for each section (any suggestions will be gratefully received).

So, thank you ladies, for broadening my horizons and for setting the standard to which I aspire. And yet another THANK YOU to my readers, followers...those of you that take the time to comment and to those of you that simply stop by from time to time. You rock. But I'm going to stop there, because this isn't the Oscars.

Anyhoo, my proudest achievement to date is adding a divider to my blog! I even fiddled with the HTML. The needle and thread is from I Love My Blog Makeover, which also has a very handy tutorial on how to install it. And then I got thinking. I have come across some really fantastic and informative tutorials on how to edit and improve the design of your blog in recent months. Most of the time I forget where I originally found them, so I end up spending hours trawling through my Firefox history hoping that something will remind me...I could, of course, bookmark them like a normal person, but that's just not my modus operandi. Organisational issues aside, they might be helpful for those of you like me, who are just starting out and want to run and hide from their blog's HTML code, or who simply want to give their blog a makeover in the New Year. So, here we go:

Useful resources:
  1. The Cutest Blog on the Block - (TCBOTB) loads of pretty backgrounds and headers/banners.
  2. Shabby Blogs - gorgeous backgrounds, buttons and blinkies, dividers, headers, etc. Be sure to check out the Shabby Blog, too.
  3. I Love My Blog Makeover - more lovely backgrounds and blog accessories.
  4. Aqua Poppy Designs - lots and lots of backgrounds.
  5. Just Something I Made - check out Cathe's Free Blog Buttons, Gadgets and Goodies section!
  6. April Showers - April's tutorials are very helpful for beginners.
  7. Kevin and Amanda - Amanda's famous Fonts for Peas and Scrapbook Fonts are 100% unmissable (and very useful for signature tutorials).
  8. Webs - Amanda, from (see above) uses this website in a few of her tutorials, which I've linked below. I'm not entirely sure what it is or how it works, but I know that it's important.
  9. Photobucket - most people already have a Photobucket or Flickr account for their blogs, but, since most of the tutorials referenced below use Photobucket, I thought I'd mention it here.
  10. My Live Signature - create your own signature for your blog, for free!
Although a couple of these websites do custom blog design, the majority of the backgrounds and blog accessories are FREE!

How to get a 3 column Minima template in Blogger:
How to get a 3 column template @ TCBOTB
Make your blog three columns @ April Showers

Adding a Favicon to your blog:
Tip of the week: How to add a favicon to your blog @ April Showers

Making that pesky Blogger nav bar disappear:

Disappearing nav bar tutorial @ Shabby Blogs
Tip of the week: How to delete the nav bar @April Showers

Using custom fonts for titles/blog posts:
How to use a cute font for your Blogger post titles @ Kevin and Amanda
How to use a custom font for your entire Blogger/blogspot posts @ Kevin and Amanda

Adding a signature to your blog:
Add a signature to every blog post on your Blogger/Blogspot blog @ Kevin and Amanda
Tutorial on how to add a custom signature to your blog @ I Love My Blog Makeover
Tutorial: How to add a custom signature to your Blogger posts @ Shabby Blogs
Tip of the Week: How to make and post a signature @ April Showers

Adding a divider to your blog:
Tutorial: How to add post dividers to your Blogger blog @ Shabby Blogs
Tutorial on how to add post dividers to your blog @ I Love My Blog Makeover
How to apply our post divider images @ TCBOTB

Adding buttons:
Blog buttons! @Kevin and Amanda (scroll down)

I've got some more photos from the past few weeks to upload in the next couple of days, as well as a few layouts to share! Progress is being made...

Have a fantastic start to the week!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Christmas in London, December 2009

For as long as we have our Christmas decorations up (until 6th January), I am in Christmas mode. So, before the whole world returns to normal after the excesses and excitements of the festive season, I thought I better upload my Christmas JYC album, however, might be a bit more problematic (due to my laptop's aforementioned nervous breakdown on New Year's Eve, which is conveniently set up for my scanner).

Anyhoo, to start with, I put together a (rather massive) collage of my favourite Christmas lights/decorations that adorned the many streets of London at the end of 2009. I LOVE London at this time of takes on a different kind of energy...and the lights seem to soften the city somehow. I suppose it becomes just a little magical (apologies for the many clich├ęs in the coming few days! I get very sentimental at this time of year).

I was going to write a list explaining what each photo involves (some aren't entirely clear) and where each one was taken, but it became so long that I was 99.9% sure you would very understandably lose interest. Lists do that to people. So, here's the short version instead: these were mostly taken in the West End, including Oxford Street, Regent Street, Covent Garden, the Strand, Piccadilly Circus and Knightsbridge. The reindeer with the white background was a poster by Transport for London, taken at Knightsbridge tube station. It was love at first sight:

The green store front is actually Harrods - this year the Christmas theme was the Wizard of Oz, which also explains the red shoes. Each window borrowed an element from the Wizard of Oz story:

I have to admit...I sort of loved it.

Today I was in country mouse mode - we went for a pub lunch (cottage pie and sticky toffee pudding) and a brisk walk through the countryside. It was very cold. But, the lighting was beautiful. We've also had a very small sprinkling of snow, with more expected over the next few days. Yey!

Before I head off, here is a link for my Project 365 gallery over at Flickr. And here is a very cold leaf:

Happy weekend!!

Friday, 1 January 2010

And a very happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Wow. I honestly cannot believe that it is 2010 already. I've spent the last few days thinking about resolutions, aims, intentions and goals, as well as my 'one little word' (I love this idea). In between the cogitating and the list-making, I've realised just how much I am looking forward to the New Year. It is a blank canvas and a fresh start...and it is so easy to be optimistic and hopeful as the clock strikes 12 and 2010 commences with an explosion of excitement and enthusiasm. Or, in our case, rockets and sparklers.

New Year's Eve was a family affair this year. We ate, we talked, we was wonderfully relaxing. And, although I have loved watching the fireworks that illuminate the London sky from the Victoria Embankment in previous years, I definitely did not miss the freezing temperatures and the L-O-N-G walk through Central London (due to the congested public transport) at one in the morning. This year, I very much appreciated the warmth of the log fire and the delicious kick of an Irish stamina, it seems, is depressingly waning with each year.

As usual, I have lots to catch up on. I need to finish Blogging for Scrapbookers. I am still working (and massively behind on) on my JYC album. I have decided to do a 365 project this year, which was a snap decision yesterday evening and which I seriously have not thought through. I'm very excited about it though...especially because I got Photoshop Elements for Christmas. Luckily I was also given Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows: The Missing Manual, because PSE is totally, completely and utterly baffling to me. Every breakthrough - big and small - has been a momentous occasion, which is somewhat diminished when I realise I have no idea how I got from A to B. Rubbish.

Some progress is being made though (thankfully!). Do you remember my scrapping resolutions from yesteryear? Well, before Christmas I ordered my supplies...and they have been patiently sitting in boxes ever since. Today I made a start on my 2010 album - I am doing a few 'year in review' layouts, as well as a couple on my hopes and resolutions for the coming year. I have challenged myself in 2010 to use one manufacturer a month for the album...sort of like an inexpensive kit. January is Jenni Bowlin. I will let you know how it works out! Watch this space for the layouts over the next few days.

I have a few blog posts that I have been meaning to complete as well (Christmas lights in London, pre-Christmas snow and our Christmas festivities) but my laptop helpfully decided to expire on New Year's Eve. Ominously, when I rebooted it after trying to rouse the cantankerous bit of plastic (putting it mildly) from its slumber, the screen remained black and it emitted three, piercing beeps. Apparently, this means that there is a major problem with the motherboard or the graphics card. HELP. I'm terrified that I'm going to lose everything. I determinedly did not allow it to ruin the end of 2009 or the start of 2010 though ...despite the horrific customer support from HP. Grrrr. But that is a story for another day.

Rant aside, I hope that you had a wonderful start to 2010! It is amazing how you can be buoyed by other peoples' enthusiasm - over the past few days, I have been browsing through my Google Reader and feeling so enthused by the excitement and anticipation that everyone has had for the New Year. So, THANK YOU!!! I can't wait to see what 2010 brings...