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!  

I managed to get 9 spreads of my 2002 China album done in the first seven days of February!  I am so excited about this (and I’m hoping that the momentum of my excitement propels me onward to complete more of the album!  This is by no means a “pretty” album, but it tells a great story!

I am so thankful for the detailed notes that I took during the trip.  I decided that aside from general captioning, I would just copy sections out of my journal onto the scrapbook pages– that really is why I took the time to write a journal in the first place! I was also delighted to discover that I had actually sketched out layouts for almost every page in the album!  This was my first ever “organized” scrapbook, and I still do the same kind of planning to this day.

Those layout sketches were really helpful, because I hadn’t actually put all of the photos and memorabilia into the album.  I was a bit stymied at first, because like I said in my first post about this Finish-it project, I want to remain true to my 2002 style.  When I found those pages of sketches, I practically jumped up and down!

I am using my Silhouette software to make print-and-cut title labels for each page using the font “akaDora” for the text.  I will be using that same font to cut titles to highlight each of the cities that we visited on our trip, though I am going to wait to add those titles until the end, since I don’t know how much of the colored cardstock I will have left, and I want to use it efficiently.

Here are some “before and after” shots of the pages I’ve done.  I started a few pages into the album– I can’t explain exactly why, but I think I was intimidated by the incompleteness of the first few spreads and wanted to hit the ground running.  I’ll go back to those spreads later, of course!



Oriental Pearl TV Tower – before


Oriental Pearl TV Tower – after


Silk Factory in Shanghai – before


Silk Demonstration in Shanghai – after


Shanghai Museum – before


Shanghai Museum – after


pearl shop in Shanghai + Bund in evening — before (just loose ephemera and photos)


pearl store in Shanghai + Bund in evening – after


Zhouzhuang – before


Zhouzhuang – after (I will be adding a large city title to this page)


Zhouzhuang tours – before


Zhouzhuang tours – after


Zhouzhuang canal boat ride – before


Zhouzhuang canal boat tour – after


Suzhou – before


Suzhou – after (I will be adding a large city title to this page)


more about the Shanghai hotel – before


more about the Shanghai hotel – after


market and Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall – before


market and Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall – after


Shanghai concert – before


Shanghai concert – after


Drive to Nanjing – before



Drive to Nanjing – after


Nanjing hotel – before


Nanjing hotel – after (not much changed!)


Nanjing concert – before (starting with loose ephemera and photos– I found the photos tucked inside this program! I’m so glad that I looked…)


Nanjing concert (insert in pocket with program) + post-concert dinner – after


Nanjing – after (forgot to take a “before” shot; I just added captions.  I will also be adding a large city title to this page)


Dr. Sun Yat-Sen’s Mausoleum – after (forgot to take a “before” shot; I fixed some of the booklets of photos and added captions and a title label)


flight to Tianjin (left) – before


flight to Tianjin (left) – after


flight to Tianjin (right) -before


flight to Tianjin (right) – after

Speaking of food… Another of our favorite scenes from the movie (who are we kidding, really, we love the whole thing, haha!) is in the Snuggly Duckling with the pub thugs. I decided to recreate the Snuggly Duckling sign to display the menu for the party.

hand-painted Snuggly Duckling sign for displaying the menu

hand-painted Snuggly Duckling sign for displaying the menu

I made the sign by painting posterboard with acrylic paint. I’m pretty proud of myself for how it turned out! (Especially considering that screenshots from the movie are fairly blurry).

I hung the menu underneath.  We had fun giving the food punny names (thanks, Pinterest, for some of the ideas!).

To drink, we had lemonade. Oh wait, I mean magic golden flower juice.

lemonade.  Oh wait, I mean magic golden flower juice

We had “Snuggly Duckling nuggets” (a Chick-fil-A platter of chicken nuggets, my daughter’s absolute favorite, which we served in a cast iron frying pan), “Flynn’s Golden Treasure” (macaroni and cheese), “Rapunzel’s Braids” (honey wheat pretzel twists), “Pascal’s Platter” (carrot and cucumber sticks), “Maximus’ Delight” (apple slices), “Gothel’s Hazelnut Dip” (a dip for the apples and pretzels made from Nutella, cream cheese, and whipped topping), and finally, “Attila’s Sublime Cupcakes” (see the next post!).

I think the spread of food was pretty good, if I do say so myself!

How could we resist making black paper plates into frying pans (who knew, right?)?!

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