Pleasantly Surprised

I’ve had a lot of instances of my layouts not turning out as planned. If you read my last blog post, you will see how things went sideways on my previous two-pager. This is definitely one of those occasions where what I made was not really what I had envisioned. In fact, it was supposed to be a one page layout. I was using a one page example to scrap my Tree of Life giraffe photos. As I was laying out the page, I ended up deciding to add 3 more photos and a second page.

This layout began in the land of Pinterest, like many of my pages do. I found a fabulous page that goes back to the Basic Grey blog. Funny thing, the layout I used as inspiration is 1 page, but it was derived from a 2 page layout. I didn’t know that when I created my page. I really enjoy seeing how an inspiration page can be morphed over time. It makes me wonder how may layouts have been derived based off of that original. The banners across the top drew my attention. It was the first time that I really saw “upside down” banners being a main feature of a page. I liked the interest that it created, so I went with it.

This layout started with the giraffe paper. I wanted to use up the scraps from a previous page. The most wonderful part of this layout is the use of scraps. I was able to pull some green scraps together to spread across the 2 pages. Additionally, the banners were such a nice use of the small scraps (that I refuse to throw away). It was so nice to get those out of my stash. You know how much I love the chance to use up my scraps!

Putting things together was pretty easy. I used 3 strips of paper to go across both pages. The bottom one got the border punch treatment. (I notice how tilted that looks. It’s mostly due to my photography and cropping skills.) I placed the two giraffe photos across the right page. Then I added two 4×6 photos of different orientations on the left. A third 4×6 photo was cut down to 4×4 to keep the page from being too crowded. I then added a journal card to the far left to finish it off. I then went through the small scraps in my stash that I usually keep for cards. Cutting imperfect fishtails into the scraps provided the look that I was hoping for. I then placed them, some slightly askew to keep it interesting.

As usual, figuring out embellishments and placement took me into another day of scrapping. I knew that I wanted a natural feel, so I started with neutrals. In fact, my first impulse was to head for the wood veneer in my collection. I started by looking for a title. That “picture perfect” wood veneer piece was exactly what I was looking for. I added a wood frame next to it, to help fill in that space to the end of the page. I backed the frame with a leftover piece from one of the banner scraps. I also pulled some wood veneer chevrons for the cluster on the left around the journal spot. For the bottom, I used “explore” in order to have wood veneer in all three spots. I also decided to use flowers in neutrals to decorate each spot. Lastly, I added some brown butterflies to help form a visual triangle across the two pages.

At that point, I stepped back and looked to see if I had any embellishment voids. I know that I tend to go a little light on the embellishment. My first observation was that the banners just needed something. Rifling through embellishments, I ran across a relatively new purchase of puffy stickers. That large yellow outlined heart was perfect! It provided a nice contrast to the red banner and added interest. I also noticed some green puffy leaves, and decided they would be perfect to break up some of the “boxiness” of that upper left hand corner. I also sprinkled a few other small hearts throughout the layout. In the end, I decided to finish up that left cluster with a large camera chipboard embellishment.

I have to say that I love, love, love how this layout turned out. It is nothing like what I had pictured in my head. The layout doubled in size, stretching into territory that I have struggled with in the past. This time, the struggle wasn’t there at all. Why? I think it’s because this came about so organically. I didn’t force myself to do a two page layout. It was derived from the creative process. Maybe those forced 2 pagers that I recently completed just gave me the experience I needed to be successful on this layout. Each page is a learning experience. It’s why I enjoy the process.

Not What I Had Imagined

Those of you that read my blog know that I am a single page scrapbooker. I can’t quite seem to get the hang of double page layouts. You would think that it wouldn’t be any more complicated than a single page. For some reason, as soon as I change the scale of my project, I run into design issues. It doesn’t matter if I’m going larger or smaller. Both give me problems.

I think that the basic design of this layout is pretty strong. I used a sketch from Susan Stringfellow’s blog Sketch Savvy. She even offers up a couple of incredible examples. Her Disney layout is fantastic. She turned the largest circle into a pair of Mickey ears. That was enough to capture my attention. In the end, I picked this design in particular, because I don’t use enough circular design elements. I wanted to push myself to do something different.

Though there is nothing “wrong” with the end result, it’s not exactly a head turner. Stepping away from it for a few weeks, and looking at it with fresh eyes now, I can see what I would change if I were doing it all over again. First, I would use more patterned paper. When I first put this layout together, I was afraid that the zebra paper was far too busy to pair with any other patterned paper. Looking at it now, very little of the zebra paper is on display. I could have easily exchanged the brick red tone-on-tone paper with something with more pizazz.

I also notice that I have far too much white space. That large circle on the left side is just a huge loop of open space. It needs more elements to fill it in a bit. I think having 5 journal strips instead of 3 would have helped. I also should add something more over near the heart. I was originally thinking that the Safari medallion, the small chipboard circle, and the heart placed 3 elements on that side. Looking at it now, the medallion doesn’t look like it’s part of the trio. I may do something that I never do. I may go in and put one more small round element over there. The circle in the upper right is also empty, making it look odd.

One more issue is that my elements are out of balance. The zebra chipboard piece in the upper right needs to be switched with the green flower. It’s so much larger than the other embellishments, causing it to be top heavy. I generally like my larger elements towards the bottom of a cluster. I see the same issue at the bottom. The poppy flower is the largest piece in that strange scattered “cluster” of embellishments. It should be placed farther down, maybe where the zebra button is, or even at the bottom of the arc on the other page.

Okay, so is there anything I like? My stitched circles are pretty nice. They may not look fancy, but they take For… Ev… Er. I am also really digging the title work. They are copper metallic letters that look fantastic. I am also happy to have used up some more Graphic 45 paper and chipboard pieces. This company makes fantastic products. They just aren’t my typical style. So any time I can figure out how to use them on the page, it’s a good day.

Why do I share layouts that I am not in love with? The internet is full of perfect layouts that we aspire to make. Sometimes we fall short. You know what? That’s okay! You aren’t going to love everything you make. I think it’s important for people to see the imperfections. I want more people to share their work. Show us what you made!

Challenging Design

I am forcing myself to use papers that I find particularly difficult to use. It doesn’t make sense to let pretty papers sit on a shelf for years to collect dust. Papers that have corner decorations look so lovely, and used to be irresistible to me. Yes, I know better than to buy them now. I have gotten much better at avoiding this buying pitfall. So how did I wind up with this more recently purchased gem? It was in a Disney inspired collection pack. Well played, universe. Challenge accepted.

For the first time ever, I created a layout on an angle. I’m not going to lie, it was out of my comfort zone. Yes, I’ve had elements of a layout set at an angle, but not the entire layout. I’ve tried to do some tilted pages in the past. Ultimately, I wind up reorienting them so that everything is nice and parallel with the background paper. Maybe it’s a math teacher thing, maybe my tinge of OCD is showing. This time I was determined to succeed.

I was laser focused on using the products that I bought specifically for this Disney World trip. So, in addition to the background paper, I pulled a couple of scraps that I had leftover from other Disney layouts. I trimmed the papers, glued down my photos, and then set that block down onto the background. I quickly realized that I needed a bit more weight at the top left corner. This was a perfect opportunity to use a 3×4 cut apart journal card. That along with a couple of small die-cut pieces filled in that corner well. For the title, I used some chipboard pieces. I added a cluster to the side of the of the title using a number of die-cuts.

It wasn’t until I got to the bottom cluster that I brought in some non Disney embellishments. The large chipboard heart is from a wedding themed collection. What you don’t see in this photo is the gold foil on that heart. It brought a gold element so that it tied into the other two clusters. I knew that I also wanted to add something narrow below the bottom edge of the photo block. After searching through other die-cut packs, I found a yellow cassette tape. It’s been in my stash for so many years, that I jumped at the chance to use it. Then I went back to my Disney purchases, found a couple of more die-cuts, and a Disney stamp set. I don’t often stamp on my layouts, but on impulse, I bought two stamp sets specifically for this project. I took the leap, and stamped directly onto the background paper.

I am fairly happy with the end result of this layout. I did some things that I wouldn’t normally do. It helps me feel like I am breaking out of a bit of a rut. Sometimes you just have to try something new. It doesn’t always work out this well. (You may be seeing another challenging paper layout soon that did not go quite so swimmingly.) You can only grow if you are willing to take the challenge.

Disney tip: If you have multiple days at Animal Kingdom, you may want to go against the crowds. On our last day there, we went straight to Expedition Everest. Lines don’t build up here in the morning like they do for Flight of Passage or the Safari. We were able to ride it 4 times in a row with less than a 20 minute wait for each ride.

How Old Can You Go?

I honestly didn’t set out to use some of the oldest papers in my stash. In fact, this all started with a layout on Pinterest that I was going to use for inspiration. That particular layout used a die-cut paper for the background. It just so happens, all of those papers in my stash are more than 10 years old. Then I did what I always do, I went diving through my scraps. The purple papers that seem to match the background were from my very first year of scrapbooking. That’s right. I kept scraps for over a decade. I know this puts me in the *ahem* eccentric category, but I will find a use for most scraps… eventually.

The background paper was originally slated for a Halloween layout. However, I really liked how it complimented the photos of the castle. Though the castle has more of a bluish tint, I still thought it went well. As a bonus, the fuchsia stripe around the outside of the purple square did a nice job of matching my shirt. (My very wet shirt thanks to an extra splashy Splash Mountain ride.) I decided to repeat that by matting my photos with an almost identical fuchsia cardstock. I chose the pink/purple/blue vertical scrap to tie everything together. This paper was smaller than I needed it to be, so I simply cut it, making it appear that it was longer by hiding the gap behind the photos.

I know you won’t be surprised that I wound up going for a pretty basic design. It is my calling card after all. This time the simplicity wasn’t planned. In fact, that initial inspirational layout went totally by the wayside. Why? Well, it turns out that this die-cut paper is quite a bit smaller due to the scalloped edge. With so much less real estate, my design options were limited. I created an “L” shape design with embellishments on the diagonal.

For embellishments, I chose to go with an aqua/turquoise color scheme. I really love purple and and aqua together. Sticking to a theme of old materials, I used the aqua lace border sticker that I’ve had for more than ten years. I also pulled in the turquoise star pin that’s nearly as old. I then began searching for stars in my stash. Some came from packs that I purchased for my WDW trip. Others were from my stash. I also fit in that “Lovely” banner at the bottom. I wasn’t sure if I loved it there, but I really wanted to get it on a layout. Any time I can get a brad on a layout, it’s a win.

You know, for some incredibly old supplies, this layout looks quite good. For a while, I was purchasing the “newest and the best” in order to keep up with the scrapbooking crowd. When I am looking at these scrapbooks 5-10 years from now, I am not going to know if the paper was new or old at the time I created a layout. Get out those old supplies and use them!

Theme park in Florida tip: If you ride wet rides, don’t be surprised when you wind up soaked. Also don’t be surprised when hours later, your clothes are still wet. That Florida humidity is no joke.

Topiary Love

Full disclosure: I don’t scrapbook throughout the year. This year in particular has been tough. I try to do a little scrappy work whenever I can. In a typical year, that means 3-4 layouts get made in a month, usually over the weekends. This year I’ve been teaching online during a pandemic. The learning curve, student needs, needs of other teachers, and digitizing instruction has just sapped my crafty mojo. My scrapbook room also became my classroom, resulting in spending far too much time in that space.

So how did I post a new layout fairly consistently every 2 weeks? I cheated. I tend to do a lot more scrapbooking in the summer. As a night owl, my creations are often made from 12:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. in July. As I finished up a week’s worth of pages, I would write up some posts and schedule them 2 weeks apart. By the end of the summer, I had enough posts written to take me through the spring. I did put together a couple more layouts in October. Then… nothing. Months of nothing.

I have finally dipped my toe back into the scrapbooking pool. I still don’t have the time I would like for creating. In order to get started again, I decided to go super simple on this layout. I let the patterned background paper do most of the work here. It’s light and breezy, adding just the floral details I wanted to accompany the photos. I liked how it includes the colors from the photos in a much more airy way. I decided to tone down the pattern by using forest green and mint green cardstock. Then I included a matching forest green tone on tone paper.

I went with a highly familiar layout format for me. The dreaded landscape and portrait oriented photo go-to. It’s certainly not creative or showy. It just happened to be exactly what I needed in order to get back to my happy place… no pun intended. This format leaves a space for the title up above the landscape photo, and allows for embellishment along a diagonal.

Though I almost always use minimal embellishments, this feels even more sparse than normal. I wanted to use the metallic vines that go across the top and bottom. This layout is about some fantastic topiaries, so I wanted to make sure my embellishments included as much plant life as possible. That led to me finding the title. From that same 1canoe2 collection, I used the cut apart card for journaling, the flower sticker, and the peach foam heart. (Willow is my favorite collection of all time.) Once those were in place, I looked for a few small details. I pulled out some puffy heart stickers, and those lovely peach and mint velum flowers. Could it use a bit more? Yes. Am I going to do more? Nope. If I fuss until I feel like a layout is perfect, it will never be done.

Disney tip: Though I wanted to go to flower and garden, we couldn’t quite make it work with our schedule. Instead, we were at Epcot for the festival of the arts, about a week before flower and garden started. Honestly, this gave a bit of the best of both worlds. We got the full experience of the festival of the arts, and also got a taste of flower and garden. Some of the topiaries and flowers were already in place while we were there. I loved getting to see some of the beauty that would grace Epcot for the next few months. It was a happy little discovery.

A Bit of a Change

I was looking for a project that would keep me in the paper crafting world without pushing me too far out of my comfort zone. As I was perusing various scrapbook boards, I ran across these wood projects by Foundations Decor. They looked adorable and easy, so I thought I would give it a shot. Let’s be honest… I don’t have an abundance of time, patience, or skill. I’m also not a risk taker. Gluing a little bit of paper to wood seemed just the right fit. Seemed…

I was woefully unprepared when these beauties arrived. After looking over the little pamphlet, I realized I would need paint. So… I ordered paint and waited for it to arrive. Painting is not in my wheelhouse, but at least I had brushes. I began painting the various pieces that needed paint. Then realized I should have ordered more colors than just white and peach. I was NOT ordering again. I figured out how to adjust with a bit of paper or less detail and carried on. Later in the project I realized I had glue that would adhere paper to wood, but not wood to wood. Yet another order had to be made. Planning out projects is clearly not my strong point.

At last I had all of my materials, and was able to get to work. I started with this truck for my dad. It reminded me of a truck he had when I was a toddler. Initially, I was thinking about reproducing his truck, using orange paper. But then I saw this lovely burgundy pattern, and couldn’t resist. I also considered covering the bumpers in silver metallic paper. That just didn’t seem to go with the country style of the truck. So instead, I chose a very light aqua polka dot. After my choices were made, I painted some pieces white and set them aside. Then I glued my papers and… waited for everything to dry.

The next day, I began filing down the paper to the size of the wood. The paper needs to be slightly larger than your wood pieces so that all of the wood is covered. It was at this moment that I realized how much time these pieces were going to take. Though I have many different filing tools, it took some time to figure out which worked best. In the end, I figured out which did well on larger areas, and which did best in tight corners. Really this was an exercise in patience. Did I mention that I don’t have a lot of crafty patience? Luckily, gluing all of the pieces together was a snap.

So, it was time to open up the package and begin on a couple of cute little gnomes for my mom. With one completed project under my belt, this was a little easier. Yes, it was still time consuming because I was putting together two figures this time, but at least I knew what I was doing. Honestly, the hardest part was choosing the papers for the gnomes. To be fair, I ended up letting the examples on the package influence my choices. I knew my mom would like the colors, and I was ready for this project to be done.

I know that they aren’t quite perfect, but I am happy with this first (and possibly last) attempt at this craft. Most importantly, my parents LOVED the final product. I was able to give them something that reflected their own interests. They truly appreciate something that is handmade. In the end, as long as they are happy, I am happy.

The Birds

If you do any research before going to Disney World, you will read about the birds. Like any place that people feed the animals, the animals become bold or aggressive around food. (Don’t even get me started on the chipmunks at Mt. Rainier. Small but mighty doesn’t even begin to cover it.) As a person from the Pacific Northwest, what I wasn’t prepared for, was the size of these birds. Nothing like toddler sized raptors stalking your lunch. Luckily for us, this is as close as they got. Not a single attempt was made on our fish and chips. Perhaps those who ate earlier in the day did not fare quite as well.

Scrapping three 4 x 6 photos of different orientations on a page is difficult at best. I realized there was a lot that could be cropped out of the photos. So in this case, I cut them down to random sizes just to highlight the birds. I knew I wanted to overlap the horizontal and vertical photos, but they blended in together too much. So, I created a white mat around the photos. When I later chose a white background, I had to add a black mat as well. The white mats melted into an abyss of white. (I swear scrapbooking is an exercise in creating, and then solving, problems.) Honestly, I ended up loving the double mat look. I will definitely be doing that again. Yay for happy accidents!

As I have been diligently trying to use up my Disney inspired collections, the scraps have been mounting. It was time to put together a layout that utilized the scraps. In this layout, I decided to go for a design that used up narrow strips. I stuck with creating a pattern of red, yellow, and blue papers that covered a bit more than a third of the background. It would be too much pattern for me if so much wasn’t covered up by the photos. I love the final result, and am doing a happy dance at having fewer Disney scraps.

I am also working towards using up more of my Disney embellishments. I had the half Mickey head sticker on the right. It was just calling out to be used, but I wanted to have 3 embellishment clusters. All of my half Mickey head embellishments went the same direction! This does not work when you want them poking out from the left hand side. Luckily, I have a matching metal die. It allowed me to cut the heads the way I needed them to face… and I used up more scraps!

To finish off the page, I made myself stick to only the bits and bobs that I had purchased for this trip. No outside embellishments allowed! I immediately dove into my die-cut packs. The layout needed embellishments of varying sizes, and die-cuts fit the bill. Then I went through my brads… those little metal terrors that I keep purchasing for some unknown reason. That helped me create 3 spots with 3 elements each. It should have been perfect, but that bottom left embellishment cluster was too sparse. Time to break the rules! I added in the chipboard “Adventure” piece to help fill things out. Yes, I know you aren’t supposed to have an even number of elements. I tried to add in a fifth item. When nothing worked, I decided I liked it just the way it was. Such a rebel!

Though there isn’t anything fancy about the layout, it still looks different than most of my work. Going outside of my comfort zone paid off this time. The end result makes me quite joyful… and isn’t that really the point?

Disney tip: Okay, really this is an anywhere tip… please don’t feed the animals. It’s safest for both the animals and humans if we keep our food (as much as possible) to ourselves. Enjoy their presence and take some incredible photos instead.

Not My Color Palette

Since I am using papers from a Disney inspired collection, I find myself having to use a color palette that I don’t normally utilize. It’s not that I never use red and yellow, I do. I will usually mix them in with blue or green. (I do love me some cool colors to offset the warm.) It’s actually the black and white in addition to the red and yellow that’s quite new for me. But let’s be honest, it had to happen. We are talking about Mickey after all.

Admittedly, it was the papers that drove this layout. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am determined to use up most of the papers I bought to scrapbook our vacation. The Mickey hearts were just begging to be used. From there, I picked the red and yellow polka dot papers since they would let the Mickey hearts take center stage. I didn’t really have any photos that matched this color scheme. So in this case, I began perusing my embellishments. I found the popcorn and the movie clap board in a coordinating die-cut pack. (I had to look up what that little white and black board was called.)

It was the embellishments that inspired my photo choice. I mean, what goes better with popcorn than Hollywood Studios? Luckily, I had just the photos to match the theme. We got our picture taken in front of the Chinese Theater by one of the best Disney photographers that we met. He was a jolly man who took his time to get some fabulous shots. He won me over with flattery, and my husband with humor. Disney cast members are the best!

Once I had the photos, papers, and basic theme chosen, it was time to figure out a design. For this page, I went with splitting the background in half between the Mickey hearts and the red polka dot paper. Usually I will follow the rule of thirds, but sometimes you just have to break the rules. I placed the photos on the yellow polka dot paper, which left me with a lot of space beneath the horizontal photo. Luckily, I remembered that I had a 6×6 pad with the film strip paper. I cut that out and placed it below the photo. That left just enough room for the title.

For the first time in forever I had an idea of how I wanted to embellish this layout. I knew I wanted to use the black journaling card at the bottom. The colors were perfect, and the sentiment was exactly right for the photos. That meant I could place the popcorn as well as a few small bits at the bottom corner. (I seriously celebrate any time I can use up a brad or a journaling card.) Up top, I knew I wanted to use the film strip along the side with the clapboard on top. I added in the “Smiles from ear to ear” on top of the film strip, popped up to add some dimension. Then I also placed that red decorative flower pin, and a few more small items. For the title, I used some puffy sticker words. Oh how I adore puffy sticker words!

I really like how all of my embellishments turned out this time. That’s usually the part I struggle with when making a layout. I’m not totally in love with the colors, but sometimes you just have to branch out and try something new. Overall, it turned out pretty well. Now to return to my comfort zone for the next layout!

Disney tip: Photopass was a great way to get photos of our trip. It is an extra cost, but it was well worth it for us. It’s the first time we’ve had photos of ourselves since our wedding day. I truly appreciate the Photopass photographers that go out of their way to get a great shot.

Masculine Scrappy Card

As I was plunging through my scrap bin, I decided to create a card for a man in my life. The triangle scrap with the copper accents popped out at me. It’s both pretty and masculine. Further digging revealed a REALLY old brown scrap that I think has been around for a decade (don’t judge), and a piece of white cardstock. That was the perfect base for my creation.

I decided to use a design that I often employ. I generally use a card front just smaller than the card itself. Then I put a band across to split up the space a bit. Then I place a square or rectangle on top that will be the home of whatever embellishment I choose. It’s a simple design. Sometimes I will use a slight variation where I use two papers to create the card front. (The more scraps I can use up, the better!)

Once I had my papers chosen, it was time to figure out what to do. When I placed the papers, it was much too plain. So for the first time in over a year, I broke out my embossing folders. Some jaunty polka-dots seemed a good way to keep with the geometric feel of the card. Just that little bit of detail added so much more interest.

Then it was time to add in my embellishments. I definitely went super simple with this card. I found the present diecut that also sported some copper foiling. (I loved that this was also geometric when you looked at the four rectangles.) With that in place, it was still missing something. This time I reached for my ribbon containers and pulled out a white piece of ricrac. That was all of the decoration that this card needed. I decided to forgo the obligatory “Happy Birthday” sentiment. I always struggle with placement. Since they are often stamped, my shaky hands also create smeared words. So for today’s card, less is more.

Scrap Cards

Scrapbookers know how quickly scraps seem to multiply. One moment you have everything organized and under control, the next there are papers everywhere. Storage containers inexplicably begin to overflow in a blink of an eye.

I pride myself on keeping my scraps tamed. When I scrap, I rifle through my scraps for nearly every page. Why cut into a new paper when there is one in your scraps that will work just fine? One would think that this method would result in at least keeping scraps maintained. One would be incorrect. *Sigh* Even with purposely making some layouts completely from scrap pieces, things still get out of control.

I used to keep all of my scraps in one vertical container. It was inconvenient, because the small scraps would be down at the bottom, difficult to see. I have since moved onto using a small decorative box for smaller scraps that I mainly use to create cards. Well, that box is filled to the rim. Which means it is time to make some cards!

I decided to start with some pink scraps. In fact, once I spotted that vellum with the hearts, I knew I had to use it. It needed something plain behind it, so I picked out the pink cardstock. It was smaller than my vellum, but I actually like how the hearts look that overlap onto the white card. I also added the small pink hexagon strip that matched.

It was time to choose a card base and some embellishments. I have had the scalloped card base in my stash for a number of years. The softness seemed to fit with the pink theme, so I went with it.

Now we hit the point where I am not in love with this card. Inexplicably, I chose a purple embellishment. In part, I chose it because it was the correct size. I also wanted to get it out of my stack of random embellishments. But when I look at the card I keep thinking that I should have kept it monochromatic. Could I take the flower off and place something else there? Yes. Will I? Nope. Onward and upward! I also smudged the stamping. Oh well. It’s handmade. Just keep swimming.

I think in the end, I will be happy giving this to someone. (My mom… I’m giving it to my mom.) She will love it despite the imperfections. It’s a perfect metaphor for her daughter. It has a good foundation. A flaw here and there just gives it character.