I’m a little late posting my progress for week 4 of Finish-it-February, and I must admit, this album didn’t (YET) get completely finished  (wop wop).  BUT BUT BUT!!!  I am almost finished!  I have two pages that need journaling.  I have one page to do from scratch (the plane journey home), and the title page to put together.  And THEN!  It will be DONE!  A 15-year project.  Ha!  I’d say I made a pretty good showing for February, considering I started out with 62 pages in this album!

This week, I also added die-cut titles to the pages that begin each city section (we traveled to four main cities, and took day trips to two others, plus the Great Wall).  You’ll see a sneak peek with the city title on my Shanghai page, but I’m going to share them all in a final post when I finish the album.  Because this time, I really am going to finish it.  I can taste it now.  …even though it might be a while–a few weeks?– because I have some high-priority stuff going on in the background these days, and so this project is put into the “only if there is extra spare time” category…

Just a reminder, you can see all the posts about my 2002 China album project by clicking THIS LINK.  I started this album in 2002 but never added the journaling.  It’s been on my mind (and my scrapbook shelf) ever since, and a Finish-it-February thread in the Scrap Gals Facebook community inspired me to try and finish it during February 2017.  My intention was to stay as true to the 2002 style as possible, even though my aesthetic has changed dramatically in the intervening 15 years!    

Here are the pages I finished in the fourth week of February:


Summer Palace – before


Summer Palace – after (There is additional journaling under the flap made by the photo on the bottom left.)


Beijing Concert – before


Beijing concert – after

It was at this point that I decided that instead of finishing the end of the album, I would go to the beginning and work up to the point where I started in the first week of February.


the plane journey to China – before


the plane journey to China – after (I haven’t yet printed-and-cut the title tag for this page… it will be added soon!)


Shanghai hotel – before


Shanghai hotel – after (I don’t think I needed to add anything except another key card holder that I had in my stash of extra ephemera)


Shanghai bus tour – before


Shanghai bus tour – after (This became the introductory page for this first city that we visited.  You get a sneak peek of the way I’m going to cut out my titles from cardstock to add to the beginning of each city section. The top left and bottom two photos lift to reveal photos underneath; the caption tags line up when they are closed.)


Scenes in Shanghai – before


Scenes in Shanghai – after (The original page had a photo flap (see the dark red diamond?) that lifted to reveal another photo and more journaling.  There were two problems– the journaling in black pen was hard to read on the darker cardstocks, and the flap itself was getting bent every time I closed the album.  I took it apart, redid the captions on white strips, and now the only interactive elements on this page are the pockets for the city maps.)


Currency – before

I don’t have an “after” photo of the currency page because it’s quite simple and still needs the title tag.  I’ll show it when I share the die cut titles.


Jade Buddha Temple – before


Jade Buddha Temple – after


Yu Gardens – before


Yu Gardens – after (This was one of the very few nearly-completed pages in the whole album, the other being the Oriental Pearl TV tower page that I started with in week 1)


Acrobatic show – before


Acrobatic Show – after (In contrast to its facing page, this one started with nothing but a program/brochure for the show– no photos!  

After this Acrobatic Show page was finished, I had caught up to where I’d begun in week 1, so I went back to the end of the album and our time in Beijing…


Temple of Heaven (left) – before


Temple of Heaven (right) – before


Temple of Heaven (spread) – after

Like I said, I don’t have much left to finish before the whole album is completed! I will share more when it’s done– hopefully by the end of March! We shall see…

Recipe:  Skillet Tamale Pie from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 54; affiliate link)

ATK Skillet Tamale Pie

  • when did we make this? Tuesday, February 7, 2017 for dinner.
  • did we change anything?  I left out the cilantro, because neither Husband nor I like it.
  • what did we like?  The flavor is SO GOOD, and the recipe is SO EASY.  Truly a week-night meal.  I texted my brother after just a few bites to tell him that it was a must-try recipe!
  • what didn’t we like?  Nothing!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? Absolutely.  It is going into regular rotation!

I’m closing in on the finish line!  Wooo hooo!  In the third week of February, I was only able to complete five and a half spreads of my 2002 China album (four of them were in one day!), because other obligations needed to be prioritized over scrapbooking.  However, I think I’m still on track for actually finishing the album during Finish-it February!  Wish me luck, haha!

Even though the pages below don’t look like they have a lot of changes in terms of journaling– they really do.  I think as I got closer to the end of assembling this album back in 2002, I was getting tired, and I started combining multiple sites onto single pages (or splitting a spread into three secions!).  This means that most of the journaling that I’ve added is hidden behind photo flaps.  I have a LOT of interactive elements in this album.  I’m actually contemplating doing a little video overview of the album when it’s finished just to show all of the moving parts and reveal where I’ve hidden SO MUCH writing!

I finally got smart this week (I have no idea how it took me so long to do this  ::palm smack to forehead::) and started drawing in pencil lines to keep my writing straight on the page.  Most of it is hidden, but it still makes me much happier to have it tidily straight(er) rather than have drooping lines.

Because I think it’s interesting, here again are the before-and-after comparisons of the pages I worked on in this third week of February:


Forbidden City – before


Forbidden City – after (this page faces the Tiananmen Square page in my previous post)


Tea Ceremony/Peking Duck Dinner – after (I forgot to take a “before” photo of this page)


Panda Zoo – before


Panda Zoo – after


Traditional Medicine/Lamasery – before


Traditional Medicine/Lamasery – after (The top two photos on the right lift to reveal a second photo each and a lot of journaling.)


Confucian Temple/McDonalds – before


Confucian Temple/McDonald’s – after (this page and the previous page – Traditional Medicine/Lamasery – are facing each other.  We did all of these things in one day and the story is connected across the two pages.)


Great Wall – before


Great Wall – after (This photo makes it look like I didn’t do much, but every one of those dark red squares is actually a flap (or a couple) that lifts to reveal more photos– and under every one of them is A LOT of journaling.  The Great Wall was one of my absolute favorite sites that we saw, and it was so beautiful that I didn’t want to distract from the beautiful vistas in the photos with tons of text.  When I add die-cut city titles, I will also be adding “Great Wall” to this page in the top left corner, where I will also adhere the label with “Badaling Section.”)


Ming Tombs (left) – before


Ming Tombs (left) – after


Ming Tombs (right)/Peking Opera – before (not much!  Just some ephemera and some loose photos of the Ming Tombs)


Ming Tombs (right)/Peking Opera – after


Ming Tombs/Peking Opera spread – after (This was a strange spread.  I’m not sure exactly what I was thinking back in 2002, but the Ming Tombs section spans the break in the spread.  Again, these events all happened in one day– the far left is lunch after the Great Wall, then we went to the Ming Tombs, and that night we saw the Peking Opera performance.  Man, we did a LOT each day.)


Et Cetera – before


Et Cetera – after (This page (and the bottled water page, shown next) is nearly at the end of the album; it contains miscellaneous ephemera and photos that don’t necessarily need to be in the timeline of the story of the trip.  I skipped to this spread because a story came up in my journal that pertained to one of the labels on this page, and I wanted to get it recorded in the scrapbook while I was on that journal page!)


Bottled Water – before


Bottled Water – after



Recipe:  Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 655; affiliate link)

(I forgot to take a photo!)

  • when did we make this? January 2017 to celebrate Husband’s birthday with his family
  • did we change anything?  The store was out of heavy cream, so instead of using milk + heavy cream, we substituted the appropriate amount of half-and-half.  We also used vanilla extract rather than a vanilla bean (using a substitution on the bottle).  Husband also made a double batch because we were sharing 🙂
  • what did we like?  Husband made this recipe, and he was extremely pleased with the consistency of the resulting hardened ice cream (other recipes we’ve tried have come out much harder). Husband and the kids really liked the flavor.
  • what didn’t we like?  I personally thought that it was a bit too sweet (and I usually like sweet things).
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)? From my perspective, I would probably choose another recipe.  But Husband was so pleased with the consistency– perhaps we will try it again, and tweak the sugar content (or add other flavors?) to see if it improves the flavor to my taste.

I’m so happy to say that I’m keeping up with a better-than-one-spread-per-day rate of finishing up my China album!  I added journaling and title tags to 8.5 spreads in the second week of February.

It’s an interesting project to work on.  Since I’ve committed to just keeping my 2002 style in the album, it means that I’m basically just writing on the pages and doing minimal design work.  The biggest decisions I make are usually where to put that writing!  Occasionally, there are repairs to be made, and in a few cases, I’ve reorganized the photos.  There are a few pages I’ve had to make from scratch, but because of those sketches I made back in 2002, it hasn’t been too hard to put them together.

For these reasons, finishing a spread is actually pretty quick.  I decide where the writing goes and copy it down onto my page.  It’s been surprisingly relaxing!  It has been a bit of a gift: This month so far, I have been feeling quite uncreative this month due to seemingly unrelenting sickness, weather, general busyness…) and it’s great to feel like I’m being productive on a project nonetheless.  That being said, it’s not at all pretty, and so I’m also looking forward to finishing it up and moving on to more aesthetically pleasing projects!

Here are the before-and-afters for the pages I finished this week (because you know they are so thrilling):


Tianjin hotel – before


Tianjin hotel – after (not much different! just a few captions)


Tianjin- before


Tianjin – after (I have no idea what I originally thought that I would write on this page to leave so much space!  I’ll try and make it look less blank with a die cut city title, but otherwise, I just had a few captions to add.)


Orchestra banquet – before


Orchestra banquet – after


Rug factory – before


Rug factory  – after


Food Street – before


Food Street – after


Dumpling banquet – before


Dumpling banquet – after


Water park – before


Water park – after (note that I added a photo, which was given to me later by another member of the tour group, to the bottom right hand corner. The photo that was there previously is now under the top left photo, which now flips up)


Tianjin concert – before


Tianjin concert – after


Yangliuqing Gallery (left) – after (I forgot to take before photos of this spread).  I had a lot to write for this one!  


Yangliuqin Gallery (right) + Children’s Palace – after (I forgot to take a before photo of this page, too).  As I was photographing it, I also realized that I forgot to print-and-cut the label for the Children’s Palace section, so I used another label (upside-down on purpose!) as a placeholder. 


Old Culture Street+Drive to Beijing – before


Old Culture Street + Drive to Beijing – after


Beijing hotel – before


Beijing hotel – after (I will probably add the Beijing city title to this page, because I don’t have a better page for it!)


Beihai Park (left) – before


Beihai Park – after (this was one of my favorite places we visited)


Beihai Park (right) – before


Beihai Park (right) – after


scenes around Beijing – before


Scenes around Beijing – after (clearly this one started with just a few loose photos, and I didn’t have a sketch pre-drawn!  I did my best to remember what I’d been thinking for this one…)


Antique Street – before


Antique Street – after


Tiananmen Square – before


Tiananmen Square – after

We had quite a few activities planned for the princess party.  As the guests arrived, we had Rapunzel/Tangled coloring pages and crayons out on the table, as well as little “kits” set up to make Pascal blowers.

coloring pages and Pascal blowers to put together in the dining room

I’m really glad that I switched from regular craft foam to adhesive craft foam–it made all the difference!

Vivian made a Pascal blower

Becker made a Pascal blower with Mommy's help

We also had beanbag games set up in the entryway, where guests could throw “apple” (red) beanbags into a hole for Maximus and “satchel” (black) beanbags into a hole for Flynn.

Vivian's fifth birthday party [Ed's camera]

We did one “organized” party game before the “main event!”  I had cut a whole pile of small paper apples with my Silhouette, and we hid them around the rooms in which the party was happening.  The guests each collected at least five and they turned them in for a “reward from Maximus”– a little bag of red and green M&Ms (they were supposed to be apples, haha!)


do you spy my Rapunzel charm bracelet?  I was Disney-bounding Rapunzel for the party, of course! 😉

The main event was the whole reason we decided to put on this party!  Husband found out about “party princesses” (entertainers who come to a birthday party dressed as a favorite princess character) and decided that they would be absolutely perfect for V.  And of course, they were!  We had requested that Rapunzel come to V’s party, and we were delightedly surprised when Aurora came with her!  The princesses sang, told stories, worked on a little craft, and played some games with the guests.  It was so sweet to see the little girls interacting with the princesses!  At the end, Rapunzel did a little coronation ceremony for V and then V gave out “coronation gifts” to each of the guests (toy rings for the girls, and sticky hands for the boys).


Aurora, Vivian, and Rapunzel

As we did the different activities, the guests put their little treats and treasures into paper bags that I’d labeled with their names on tags that were styled after the party invitation. Also inside each of those bags was a little watercolor set shaped like a palette, and I added a little tag that says “Add a few new paintings to your gallery”

one of the favors for the kids

The party was so much fun to plan and even more fun to see in action… but it was so much work (totally worth it)!  The next party we do will probably be for B’s fifth birthday party– a few years from now, haha!

This is the last post in my series about our daughter’s princess party; click here for all the posts

We did cupcakes for the party!

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

I thought about doing a large decorated cake for the party, but after thinking about all of the other things we were trying to accomplish (did I mention that we put the whole thing together in a week, not counting the invitations and the thank-you cards?), I realized that was particularly unreasonable.  Cupcakes seemed easier!

In fact, it played (no pun intended!) perfectly off of another one of my daughter’s favorite playthings–Disney Princess Cupcake Party Game (<–similar; affiliate link used).  This game is adorable (and actually has a clever game mechanic), and she loves just playing with the cupcakes themselves!  They’re like little Disney-bounding baked goods.  🙂 I managed to sneak a photo of the Rapunzel cupcake and I recreated it for her party.

inspiration for Vivian's birthday cupcakes

cupcakes, modeled after the Rapunzel cupcake in Vivian's game

The gold frosting is buttercream, and I made what felt like gazillions of royal icing flowers to sprinkle on top.  I cut out sunbursts from light yellow cardstock with my Silhouette and sandwiched a toothpick between two of them as a cupcake topper.  The cupcake wrappers are from Hobby Lobby, and my mother-in-law helped me locate the perfect color!!


I was so delighted: when my daughter saw them for the first time, she immediately exclaimed about how they were the cupcakes from her game!  Highest praise, indeed.

Vivian's fifth birthday party [Ed's camera]

Stay tuned for more about our daughter’s princess party!