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Archive for the ‘nerd’ Category

The Sheikah slates for our children’s costumes were created entirely by Husband, so I’ve asked him to write a guest post about how he made them!

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One of my principles of Halloween costumes is that they need to have some element that glows in the dark.  I could pretend that I’m very concerned about safety and visibility in the dark, but really I just think it makes costumes more fun and cool.  The Sheikah slate in the video game The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is such an integral part of the gameplay that I knew the kids would want to have Sheikah slates as props in their costumes.  I also thought that if I did it right, they might be toys that the kids could play with after Halloween, too.  

For the body of the Sheikah slate, I made a template that seemed big enough to hold the two pieces of electronics hardware, and cut a baseplate out of cardboard.  Then I started using lots of adhesive-backed craft foam to build up layers and thicken the tablets, making sure to leave a central cavity big enough for the speakers and lights.  After a few foam layers were down, I inserted the speaker button through the foam so that it rested on the tab of the Sheikah eye symbol, and kept adding layers until the sides were high enough to enclose the electronics.  Since I needed to maintain access to the electronics to turn them on and off and eventually replace the batteries, I hot glued strips of velcro to the top layer of craft foam and to the back of what would become the ‘screen’ of the Sheikah slate.


To make the screen, I used black adhesive craft foam and drew the Sheikah symbol on it and cut it out.  I had to make some adjustments, because unlike an actual screen, when you are cutting material you can’t have fully enclosed shapes floating in mid-air.  After I had the symbol cut out, I peeled off the paper and adhered a square of light blue vellum to the foam.  Even without the LEDs, it has pretty good contrast with the foam, and when the LEDs are lit up, the vellum smoothes out and softens the glow from the point sources of light.  


For the electronics, I found some battery-powered blue LED lights (aff link) and some battery-powered programmable speakers (aff link) like you might find in a singing birthday card.  I found mp3 files of the Sheikah slate sound effects from the video game and loaded them onto the speakers.  When you press the attached button, it plays a random sound from the list of downloaded files.  


At this point, I had functional, but parti-colored, Sheikah slates.  I wrapped the edges in black craft foam to hide the multi-hued strata of foam, and then painted all the remaining nooks and crannies with black acrylic paint.  I used orange craft foam on the handle to mimic the orange glow there in the game, and then wrapped the handle in brown yarn.  I cut out the decorative Sheikah symbol for the back of the tablet from orange, yellow, and blue craft foam.  For the border of the screen side, I used some more blue craft foam shapes and then free-handed some designs with metallic gold paint.  


They are definitely just approximations of the video game devices, but the kids were thrilled with them, and they are pretty durable and should hold up to being played with for at least a while.

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Our son dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. At the time we were deciding on our costumes, his game character was wearing Zora armor, so he specifically requested to wear that gear as his costume. We brought up his character in-game and took photos for reference!

I made the blue shirt and stealth leggings by hacking Simplicity 1030. It’s a Captain America costume pattern in which the lower half of the shirt is pieced stripes. (Side note: I am really impressed with the design of this pattern. Often costume patterns are badly drafted and ill-fitting, but this is not the case for Simplicity 1030! The style lines and construction are well-done!). The upper part of the shirt has some nice style lines that were perfect for Link’s blue shirt, so I combined the side panel pieces to extend as one piece from the underarm to the hem and lengthened the upper torso pattern pieces to the hem. The result was a very sharp-looking athletic shirt, and I’m contemplating making it again with another fabric!

I added the side accents by layering some scraps I cut into the proper shapes and attaching them to the shirt with basting stitches. The blue fabric I used for the shirt and pants was an interesting athletic knit I found in the clearance section of G Street Fabrics, but it was difficult to stitch, so I thought it would be better for those side panels to be temporary. We will likely repurpose the shirt and leggings as winter pajamas!

I found a free jacket pattern (in my son’s size!) that was the perfect starting point for the scale jacket, and I hacked it beyond recognition, haha! I used a sueded fabric that was handed down to me in a bin of fabrics–it was the perfect color. After I cut the outer layer pieces, I hand-cut all the scales and sewed them in rows before stitching the pieces together.

My final contribution to the Link outfit was the beaded bandolier. I used Sculpey (polymer clay) to mold the moon medallion and the long beads (in retrospect, perhaps dry ziti would have been a lighter weight and easier solution for the long beads!). I strung them with some plastic faceted beads, and my husband spray painted them all with chrome paint. I used a scrap of vinyl to create the “leather” strap that goes over his shoulder, and the beaded strand is attached to key rings I stitched to the ends!

Now, on to the showstopper parts of the costume: the armor!

Husband sketched out the armor pieces on paper after studying the reference photos we took of all angles of Link, cutting out the paper templates to test sizing on our son. When he was satisfied with the design, he traced the pieces on to layers of craft foam and cut them out by hand. After constructing the pauldrons, bracers, and faulds (hip guards), he spray painted them with chrome paint. If we make foam armor in the future, Husband notes that he will apply some sort of sealant to the foam before spray painting to prevent the metallic paint from soaking into the foam and give a shinier end result.

The pauldrons are pinned to the shoulders of the scale jacket.

The faulds are threaded onto the belt with elastic loops that are adhered on the back.

The bracers have elastic straps for our son to wear them on his forearms.

The greaves (shin guards) are also constructed from craft foam, which Husband hand-painted with brown and metallic gold craft paint.

We had a lot of fun taking action photos of our soon acting as Link during our photoshoot at the pumpkin patch…

(No healthy pumpkins were harmed in the making of this trick shot!)

This last photo is a little teaser: Husband created Sheikah slates for our Zelda and Link! Stay tuned for a guest post from him about how he made them!

Summary of patterns:
shirt: Simplicity 1030 (hacked)
scale jacket: Shwin and Shwin Mr. Postman (hacked)
pants: Simplicity 1030 (lengthened)
belt, shoes: ready-to-wear

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Our daughter dressed as Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

We found some amazing reference images from a book of concept art (aff link), and those images gave some great insight into the layers we needed to create.

We used ready-to-wear leggings and boots on her lower half, and we spent our energy creating the layers on her upper half.

The first layer was a blouse with lantern sleeves, and I used the Blank Slate Bookworm Button Up (aff link) as my starting point. The main hacks I made were to the collar and sleeves. Zelda has a tall collar closed with a single round button, so to create that effect on my daughter’s blouse, I increased the height of the collar stand and omitted the collar pieces altogether. I was pleased with how easy it was! Since there is no visible placket on the character’s blouse (fantasy means no practical concerns such as how you put on a garment!), I added hidden snaps between the placket layers.

I used a modified version of the Melly Sews lantern sleeve hack: instead of inserting a rectangle, I used a trapezoid shape. That resulted in an ungathered seam at the elbow and an asymetric blousing effect at the cuff. I stitched the gathers to wide elastic and then covered the elastic with a cuff made from the same knit as the jacket. If I were to do this again, I would omit the elastic and just stitch the gathers into a cuff!

The middle layer was a jacket effect. Since there were no visible closures (again!) and raglan sleeves on Zelda’s, I decided to use the Blank Slate Rivage Raglan (aff link) as my base pattern and an aqua knit I found in the clearance section of G Street Fabrics. After making a quick trial version from scrap knit, I added 2″ of height toward the neckline on the back and sleeve sections, drew the notches in the hemline and sleeves, and modified my pattern pieces. After I cut and assembled the new hacked pieces, I started adding the gold trim. Let me tell you, lamé bias tape is no joke to work with! I also realized only after I’d opened my packages that I’d purchased single-fold bias tape, rather than double-fold! It was an adventure, but I took it slowly, stitching it on with a long stitch length in clear thread (and just plain white in the bobbin). (I will admit that this costume was an exercise in not letting perfection be the enemy of the good…).

I cut the decorative shape at the neckline from craft foam, painted it with a few coats of metallic gold paint, and attached it at the front, behind which the gold crosspieces are pinned in place: I wanted to have enough room for her to get her head in and out!.

The outermost layer is a corset effect (velcro closure in the back), which I constructed from scratch. I added batting and quilted the design, adding the top bands of gold trim over a strip of aqua fabric to match her jacket layer. Husband created the “leather” belt from craft foam. He scored and heated it to give the effect of leather tooling before painting it brown and giving it a wash of black paint for further depth.

He also created the Triforce medallion from layers of craft foam and painted the details with metallic gold paint. We simply hot-glued it in place!

The final touch was her hairstyle! I have no idea why I have not used YouTube for braiding tutorials before–now this has opened a whole new can of worms, haha! THIS video was the perfect tutorial for this cute headband braid style: I learned some new tricks, and we’re excited to keep trying some more in the future.

We got some absolutely beautiful (if I do say so myself) photos of our daughter acting as Zelda during our photoshoot at the pumpkin patch…

Summary of patterns:
blouse: Blank Slate Bookworm Button Up* (hacked)
jacket layer: Blank Slate Rivage Raglan* (hacked)
corset: made from scratch
leggings, boots: ready-to-wear

*affiliate link

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My children talk almost nonstop about their progress playing through The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild! Since they love the game so much, it was the perfect source for costume inspiration. Without further ado, I present Link and Zelda from Breath of the Wild!

Our son specifically requested to wear Link’s Zora armor, which is what his character in the game was wearing at the time we decided on our costumes.

The costumes were a collaboration between Husband and me: he made all the foam accessories (Link’s armor pieces and brooch, Zelda’s belt and Triforce medallion, and the Sheikah slates), while I focused on the fabric pieces (and I made Link’s beaded bandolier).

During our photo shoot at a nearby pumpkin patch, they had a really great time getting into character and acting out scenes for the camera.

I’m thrilled with the costumes, and I think our children are, too!

I will do separate posts (Zelda, Link) with details for each costume and one for the Sheikah slates, but until then, here is a list of the patterns I used:

Zelda:
blouse: Blank Slate Bookworm Button Up* (hacked)
jacket layer: Blank Slate Rivage Raglan* (hacked)
corset: made from scratch
leggings, boots: ready-to-wear

Link:
shirt: Simplicity 1030 (hacked)
scale jacket: Shwin and Shwin Mr. Postman (hacked)
pants: Simplicity 1030 (lengthened)
belt, shoes: ready-to-wear

*affiliate link

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Our son loves Minecraft.

A lot.

So it was not a surprise that he asked for a Minecraft-themed cake for his birthday. Note: his birthday was during the summer; I’m just now getting my act together to post about this cake. It came out so well that I definitely still want to share it!

When we asked him what sort of Minecraft cake, I was expecting him to ask for a scene or a creeper (or both). Instead, he asked for a grass block! He wanted the brown parts to be chocolate and the green to be mint. Challenge accepted.

I baked the cakes and mixed up frosting– I baked two square chocolate cakes, which we trimmed down so that we could make four layers. The top and bottom layers are solid squares; the middle two layers are made from the offcuts stacked perpendicular to each other. We used chocolate frosting between the layers.

Husband did all of the outside work! Of course, we waited until late at night to begin the frosting process, and I was so wiped out that all I could do was offer some suggestions. Husband did an absolutely amazing job. He figured out that he could cut a cardstock template for the grass detail on the sides of the block.

Husband took it one step further and did some sugar work to create the new growth that would occur if the block is sprinkled with bonemeal in the game. I really think this is such a showstopper!

It was so fun to see how completely delighted our son was about his cake! (and it tasted pretty delicious, too!)

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The rush of success in finishing my princess dinner layout prompted me to take action and figure out a way to jump start my creative inspiration. Creative inspiration has been eluding me recently, particularly this fall, and although I *missed* scrapbooking and *wanted* to scrapbook, I was finding it to be a struggle. 

I decided to give myself a challenge, and with Husband’s help, I was able to dedicate a couple hours each day of a long weekend to complete it.

Here’s the framework of my little challenge-to-myself:

1. Watch the replay of Inkiequill’s December 2020 Scrap Stream on YouTube.

2. Create along with Adele!  For each project she created during her livestream, I made a parallel project of the same type. I even tried to stick to the same general timing. 

3. I focused on adding pages to my 2016 Disney scrapbook, and I also made an art journal page along with her —the idea was to get back into the creative process!

I documented the whole thing in my Instagram Stories (there’s a saved highlight here: https://www.instagram.com/stories/highlights/17946705103397268/), and I found that taking the time-lapse videos of each project really helped me to focus and make decisions instead of waffling around.

And WOW. It was amazing.  I can’t believe that I actually made so many projects in one weekend (probably a bit over 7 hours of creating time), and I am really happy with the way every one of them turned out.  This challenge re-energized, inspired, and made me excited to scrapbook more in the coming days and weeks.

In the next few blog posts, I will share each of the six projects I made in my Solo Crop challenge:

  • Disney pocket layout: Hollywood Studios lunch
  • Disney pocket layout: Hollywood Studios afternoon
  • Disney layout: Great Movie Ride
  • art journal page (grab 5)
  • Disney layout: Goodnight, Epcot
  • Disney layout: Bedtime Fireworks

I’d like to do another self-challenge like this again. Having dedicated time–and time LIMITS–was definitely a key to my success! I am also considering taking more time-lapse videos of myself to further train myself to make design decisions more quickly and confidently.

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I thought it might be interesting to write down my process for planning the pocket pages in my 2019 album.  So while I was working through my April photos and stories (yes, I know it’s November…but life got busy!), I took some photos and wrote down my steps.

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1. Gather all the stuff. 

I’ve made a point to save bits and pieces: ticket stubs, business cards, name tags, programs, wristbands, etc. to include in this album.  I think physical memorabilia is really interesting.  In my album, I’m keeping a 12×12 page protector for each month to collect all these things in one place. I’ve also been using a free printable from Simple Stories (specifically a page from the February 2019 printable set) to collect some notes each month (I fell off this bandwagon during the summer, but I’m getting back on it this fall!  I’ve actually printed it out 12 times, duplex, so that I have it ready for each month).  It’s on this sheet that I record notes that don’t necessarily have specific dates associated with them: the things I’ve been listening to or watching, the foods that I’ve especially enjoyed throughout the month, and occasionally some notes about how I’ve felt during the month.

I spread out all of this stuff where I can see it easily, and I get out my computer and my planner to help me with the next step.

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2.  Make little paper notes. 

I’m a fairly visual/tactile planner, so I’ve found that it helps for me to start out with little slips of paper — one slip for each thing I want to include in my album.  Since I use a lot of PDF sewing patterns, I save the off-cut portions of the pages to use as scrap paper.  They’re usually oddly-shaped, so they’re perfect for tearing into little slips.

In order to write these slips, I look through all my stuff (step 1), all the photos I took that month, and all the notes I made in my planner.  Each item gets its own slip so that I can physically move it around as I do my actual page planning.

At this stage, I’m starting to get an idea (from looking through my photos again) which things will have a larger (literally) presence in my album.  I’m starting to think about how many inserts and “regular” (not pocket page) layouts I’ll add… but that’s for the next step.

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3a. Plan the pockets. 

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a pretty structured person.  For me to enjoy my scrapbook-making, I like to have all of my photo sizes and placement planned ahead, especially for pocket pages.

In this step, I take my little slips of paper and I actually move them around on the divided page protectors.  I have cut out templates of my “standard” smaller photo sizes (3″x4″, 2″x3″, 1.5″x2″– these are the orange and olive green pieces in the photos) so that I can really visualize what will fit in a pocket.

I’m using Design A for my main pages.  I don’t have a specific number of pages that I am aiming to fill–just what makes sense for the stories I have.  However, I do try to make sure that I end up with filled pages– I want each month to start on a new 12″x12″.

The pockets aren’t exactly in chronological order, but I do try to stick to a general idea of chronology– the stuff on the left hand page generally has occurred before the stuff on the right hand page.  When I want a particular photo/story in a particular place, I use some items (like family swim, projects I completed that month, “listening,” “watching,”) to fill in gaps and keep that general chronological flow.

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3b. Make a diagram.

In addition to the little slips in the actual pockets, I have found that it is super helpful later to have a diagram of the pages, too.  I’ll do a rough little sketch of pockets, make notes about what I want to make sure to include in the journaling, etc.

As I determine my photo sizes, I move them into collections in Lightroom.  I have collections set up for each of my smaller photo sizes so that I can batch “print” them to 4″x6″ canvases for actual printing.  I also export my “full-size” 4×6 photos to a To Print folder that I keep on my desktop.  This is where I collect all of the files to send to Persnickety Prints (my favorite).  I like to print in large batches, so this helps me to keep track of what is ready to go.

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4. Plan inserts.  

While I’m deciding where each smaller story will go in my pockets, I’m also identifying larger stories that will get pulled out into inserts.  For instance, the issue with my ankle has become a larger story this year than I expected, and so I’ve started making inserts where I’m “highlighting” all the ankle stuff for that month when there was a lot going on.  We also took a big road trip to visit family and friends in April, so that is being “upgraded” to several inserts that will spotlight the different aspects of that trip.  Since it was Easter, I’m planning to make two traditional layouts that feature a family photo and the egg hunt my kids did at my in-laws’ house on Easter Sunday.

Sometimes these inserts get planned as I’m working on the main plan for the month, but usually I leave these until the end of my monthly process!

Except for the traditional layouts, which I am planning to make 12″x12″, I like my inserts to be smaller than 12″x12″.  Most often, I simply cut down different pocket pages (one column of a Design B page, or a Design A cut down to mimic Design H), but I also like the Becky Higgins Design G pages.

5.  Print the photos and make the pages!

After I plan several months and/or decide on other photos I want to print for other projects, I use Lightroom to batch print the smaller sizes into 4″x6″ photo files.  I have a number of printing templates set up for this, and they make it so quick and easy!

I send off my photo order (usually to Persnickety Prints!) and eagerly await their arrival in my mailbox.  You can see how I distribute the prints into my albums in THIS post

and then….it’s on to making the pages!  Check out my 2019 album progress by clicking THIS link (as of the writing of this post, I’ve only fully completed the January pages!)

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….now on to plan May…and June…and July…and August…and on and on!  I’ve got some catching up to do!

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I started putting together this big 200-print order from Persnickety Prints in January, and I worked on it through mid-May (album planning sometimes takes me a while).  I placed this order on May 16 and received it within a couple of days!  (Persnickety is awesome.)

When I got the order in the mail, I had the idea that I could do a super-sped up video of how I separate out my photos into my different album projects.  You see, for about every project I do, I start with an enormous amount of pre-planning.  I like to know where my photos are going to go and what sizes I plan to use.  That way, when I get to the paper cutting and gluing and making things pretty part of the process, the photo part is already finished.

It’s taken me a while to get this video completed (my very first voiceover ever!).  But now it’s ready to share!

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With this order, I have photos for 5 specific projects, in addition to some that I intend to frame or to use on a few scrapbook layouts that aren’t part of a particular album project:

Husband helped me rig up my tripod with my camera so that I could put together this video.  I increased the speed to 20x… and just because I’m a nerd, I did keep track of the actual time it took for each stage:

  • unboxing+sort = about 10 minutes
  • appendicitis mini album = about 15 minutes
  • mommy book = about 5 minutes
  • baby album = approximately 31 minutes
  • Disney album = approximately 22 minutes
  • 2019 Jan and Feb = approximately 39 minutes

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Here’s the video!

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Remember when I said I had another Abrazo tee (affiliate link) on my cutting table?  Here it is!

This top is made from the excess yardage from a dress I finished at the beginning of February (that’s another–long–story!), and this brushed poly was so nice to work with– it will not be my last brushed poly, if I have anything to say about it!

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I added a ruffle detail at the end of the sleeves using the circle sleeve tutorial on Melly Sews (Melissa is the designer of Blank Slate patterns!).

It was my first time ever binding a V-neck t-shirt, and it worked like a charm.  Have I mentioned before how much I love this pattern?!

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Now I just need to get my hands on some more knits (preferably brushed poly–oh so soft!) and make some more Abrazos!

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I’m going to jump out of chronological** order (both in the event date and the actual creating of these pages) to show the inserts I just made earlier this week to document our Game Weekend with friends.

gameweekendpages

In a discussion of using up stash in the Use-It-Or-Lose-It FB group, I mentioned that I was finally cutting into this older collection pack that I’d received in a giveaway.

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This one is not really my typical style– I usually prefer clearer colors and a less antique/distressed look (I really don’t like brown, unless it’s wood! :)).  So this was a bit of a challenge that I set myself: I want to actually USE what I have!  When I got to this set of photos, I realized that this collection pack could work, so I pulled it out.

The first insert is about the actual game weekend itself: Husband and I traveled to the Midwest to get together with friends–friends of his since childhood!–to spend the whole weekend diving deep into the game that we usually play once-per-week via Skype and an online gameboard.  It was a really great time!  (And it was the beginning of an annual tradition that we’ve continued!)

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gameweekend1_back

Since I wanted to really get into the papers and stickers in this collection pack, I tried to make quick decisions about what sheets I should cut into, and what stickers I could use.

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I used some washi tape to set off my title from the group photo.

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And I added black enamel dots to this insert to give some contrast and texture.  Paper and stickers are so flat together without some help!  On this 4×6 spot, I used a Jillibean Soup kraft tag for journaling and popped it up with some foam adhesive.

The second insert is about what was happening with the kids while Husband and I played games 🙂  Husband’s parents had a great time taking care of them at their house!  Since this insert is in my son’s 1st year album, I wanted to make sure to specifically highlight photos of him.

gameweekend2_front

The second side of this insert is fairly simple: I wanted the posed photos to stand alone, and I used a card from the cut-apart sheet, simply embellished with a couple of white enamel dots.

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I made sure to use more stickers to embellish on the front.  I didn’t know when I would ever use the peacock, so I decided to hide most of him behind the camera sticker, and he looks similar to some of the doily motifs elsewhere in the collection.

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The text on the black label sticker had nothing to do with the topic of my layout (or any layout I plan to make, really…), so I decided to layer it behind one of the tag stickers.  It felt good to use stickers in this way– they aren’t getting wasted, and they are adding layers and interest to the page.

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Finally, I made a coordinating 4″x6″ card to go in my “daily” slot for the album, and I used a few more bits from the collection pack: I layered a doily from my stash with the rest of that black label sticker onto some patterned paper, and added a piece of border sticker.  I topped it all off with the “you & me” pointer sticker from the sticker sheet–popped up on some foam.

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I’m curious to see if I’ll use more of this collection pack now that I’ve “broken into” it.  I’m glad that I gave it a try, and now I’m more familiar with its contents for future projects.

 

**In general, I do NOT scrapbook chronologically.  However, it makes sense with the way my brain works that all of my scrapbooks are organized chronologically.

 

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