Archive for the ‘reflections’ Category

As the March 2022 Disneyboundchallenge comes to a close, I decided to do a wrap-up post to reflect on how it went… and it includes some nerdy statistics because, well, I’m a nerd!

At the end of February, I shared some thoughts and goals for the month. All of those thoughts are just as true at the end of the month now as they were then!

I managed to complete 20 of the 31 prompts, which felt like a pretty good achievement for my second time ever participating! There were more days that I wish I could have participated (after all, I am a completionist/perfectionist), but even though I had a spreadsheet to keep me on track and had taken a number of the days’ photographs ahead of time, I still didn’t have the time or energy… or sometimes the outfits!

My goal was to create only outfits that I would actually wear in “real life,” and I think that I really stuck to that goal. Perhaps in “real life” I would leave off an accessory or two… or maybe even add a couple more! There were times that I could have upped my game in terms of the little details, especially with the accessories, but overall, I am proud of the outfits I put together– and I will definitely be wearing them again, especially as the weather gets warmer.

The one exception to the “real life” outfits was the Red Carpet prompt… Even though I have no occasions in the foreseeable future in which I will get to wear any outfit as dressy that, I am really pleased that I went for it. I was so thankful to the neighbor who gave me a hand-me-down bridesmaid gown to use… and I’m proud of myself for being brave to take– and post!!– the photos.

I learned a lot about taking photos of myself, especially regarding posing: what poses are flattering, which ones are not. Most notably, I discovered that when I’m lighthearted about it– even silly!– I get some of my favorite photos. There were days where it was hard to think about getting in front of the camera, but I think this was a useful “exercise” in having a positive attitude toward the way I look to myself. That being said, I did hit a point about mid-month at which I hit a limit. It was almost like I had spent too much time in front of the camera just posing. I’m glad that I overcame that hurdle, because that meant that I got the photos for Pocahontas and Cinderella!

So how about some of those statistics?

About the photos…

  • I completed and posted 20 of the 31 prompts, and since I did two looks for Hook, I put together 21 outfits for this challenge.
  • I took photos for 19 of the 20 prompts in advance of the day they would post; 8 outfits were photographed before March began.
  • I photographed 7 outfits in one day on March 8 (Fear, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Kim Possible, both Hook looks, and Indiana Jones)!
  • The very first outfit I photographed was Mickey Mouse!
  • The last outfit I photographed was Cinderella!
  • I photographed all the looks by myself with a camera, tripod, and remote shutter release except for Pocahontas. My husband helped me up the hill and into the trees and maneuvered the tripod for most of those shots.
  • My husband helped me choose the photos for 20 of the 21 looks. He is wonderfully supportive and encouraging.

About the outfits…

  • I purchased only one item for this challenge (an olive green duster cardigan), and it cost about $8.
  • 14 of 21 outfits included at least one handmade item. (In addition, I added beads to the ready-to-wear gown for the Pocahontas look.)
  • I sewed three garments particularly for this challenge: the chameleon top, the white blouse, and the black-and-white checked skirt. All three of those items were sewn with fabric I already had on hand– and all of that fabric had been handed down to me!
  • 7 of 21 outfits included at least one item that was given to me by a neighbor in our local Buy Nothing group (this counts the chameleon fabric that I turned into a top!).
  • The white blouse that I sewed ended up being in 4 outfits!
  • The checked skirt that I sewed ended up being in 2 outfits!
  • Three of the outfits were what I would call “waist-up” ‘bounds, inspired by a post by @boundingonabudget in February 2021. All of the character-inspired parts were on my top half, and I wore just plain black slacks or some other neutral on my lower half. Therefore, most of those photos are just from the waist up.
  • I wore my yellow shoes for 4 different ‘bounds!

Thanks for reading all of my musings and nerdy analysis of this month’s adventure in creating a magical wardrobe!

~ ~ ~

For more details on the individual outfits, have a look at these posts:

Days 1-7
Days 8-14
Days 15-21
days 22-31

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On the eve of this year’s #disneyboundchallenge, I want to share some thoughts…

I participated for the first time last year (2021). I came up with four new outfits and used photos from previous trips for others. It was so fun, and I was amazed that people who didn’t follow me came to my little account to see my posts, like them, and even comment on them! 

The challenge made me look at my wardrobe in a whole new way, and it was just plain colorful and fun. I knew I wanted to do even more Disneybounding. I came up with a few outfits on my own, but here we are a year later, and I can say that having prompts really helps!  

I want to go more all-out this year. I won’t be able to participate every day, but I already have outfits planned (and even photos of many of them!) for about 13 prompts. I started preparing earlier than last year, and I even made a spreadsheet! My goals for this year are to 1) create only outfits that I would literally be willing to wear in everyday life, and 2) not reuse any outfits from the previous challenge. 

I’ve learned some things. First, I was reminded of the contents of my own wardrobe. There’s not a lot of turnover in my closet, but I do forget what I have sometimes. Again, this challenge has given me fresh eyes to see what is already there. I intend to use what I already own, and fill in with versatile pieces if necessary (as of this post, I purchased one garment–on clearance!). This isn’t to say that I won’t ever consider purchasing something special, but that’s not at the top of my list. 

Second, I’ve felt really powerful being able to sew my own clothes.  I am excited to see how many of my planned outfits already include me-made garments. But when I found a gap, I have been able to fill in with items I’ve made myself (and so far, I have used only fabrics that were handed down to me!). At this point I’ve made three garments specifically for this #Disneyboundchallenge, and two of those pieces will show up in more than one outfit. 

Third, it’s helping me be okay with how I look right now. Taking pictures of myself is hard (I know I’m not alone), and for the past few years, I’ve been really struggling with this, especially after ankle surgery in 2019 has completely upended the way I can exercise. My husband has been so gracious to help me look through the photos from my little self-photo-shoots. Often I will sit down next to him saying, “I don’t think there’s anything good here, so I might need to retake these,” but he always finds pictures that help me to feel beautiful. It continues to be my goal to improve my fitness, but there is also something to be said about being confident in how I look right now, too. 

Finally, I am thankful for a lighthearted and fun diversion in the midst of the darkness of the world. I don’t take current events lightly, and I also know that they can drag me down into dark depths if I am not careful. This is a bright spot, a chance to add some (hopefully) beauty even when things are hard. 


I’ll be posting during the challenge on my Instagram account (@natalie.strand), but I’m intending to do a few roundup posts here on my blog throughout the month, too.

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Winter is my least favorite season, and so I love looking forward to the warmth and new life of spring. During the bleakness of January and February, I’m taking a look back at my garden in 2021 so that I can start making plans for 2022.

In this post, I’ll be reviewing some of the things I learned this year, sharing some harvest data, and starting to think about what I will do for the coming growing season in my little container garden plot.

CONTAINERS – Some of the containers in my garden are from the very first garden I ever grew! Over the years, I have continued to add more (and replace containers that have broken). In 2021, I purchased some inexpensive plastic planters for my tomatoes, and they were…okay. Midsummer, I discovered that one of them had gotten clogged, and Husband was able to pull off the attached saucer, which seemed to solve the problem and allow proper drainage. At the end of the year as I scrubbed all my pots, I pried off all the saucers, so I hope that they will be better for 2022. I would love to be able to grow more varieties of tomatoes and possibly give other things a try (for instance, bell peppers??), so I’m hoping to get my hands on even more containers for this coming garden. Note to self: this will likely mean increasing the footprint of my plot!

SOIL – I was very unimpressed with the Miracle-Gro Organic Potting Soil I used in 2021. I did not care for the texture; it seemed full of large woody chunks. I also did not realize that I would need to add fertilizer so frequently (not necessarily a fault of the soil, but I guess I expected organic soil to be nutrient-rich). I’m not sure what I’ll use in 2022, but I’m on the lookout for options. I dumped all the soil at the end of the growing season, because it didn’t seem like it was worth saving (so many roots from those big plants!), and I was concerned that disease (especially from the cucumber pots) might stick around and/or spread. One of the reasons my garden is in containers is because the soil in-ground is not in good shape. I go back and forth between wondering if I should be dumping my containers “in place” to start layering a fresh start in that plot… However, I like the “fresh start” each year in containers and that I don’t need to worry about rotating my crops or dealing with soil-borne pathogens in such a small space.

Now that I’ve discussed the basics of my garden, let’s get into what I grew. Since I am a nerd at heart, I kept a spreadsheet of my produce data throughout the season. Below is a chart that shows an overall glimpse of everything I grew. It’s not very informative on its own, since the cherry tomatoes dominate the numbers.

TOMATOES – I grew Best Boy, purple cherry heirloom, and Brad’s Atomic Grape tomatoes this past year. My favorite of these varieties was the Atomic Grape, because the flavor was delicious, plus they were so pretty! However, the fruit split so easily on the plant (even before fully ripe!), which also meant that it wasn’t very long lasting after harvest, either. The purple cherry tomatoes (seedlings from a neighbor) were wonderfully prolific from beginning to end of the season, and the flavor was good. Since both of these varieties are heirloom varieties, I saved some seeds so that I can try growing them again this year. The Best Boy tomatoes were definitely a disappointment. They seemed flavorless, and they didn’t produce very well until much later in the season, and even then, I had been hoping for more. Part of this may have been the fertilizer situation (definitely learning a lesson there!), but it’s not the first year I’ve been underwhelmed, so I won’t be growing this variety again. I would love to try some slicing tomato varieties known for their sweet flavor. I’ll be doing some research into this!

Interestingly, as you look at the individual charts below, it seems that late August and September were when the tomatoes were in highest production. I would have guessed it would have been a bit earlier, but I need to remember this in the future to have appropriate expectations for my harvests.

CUCUMBER – As I mentioned in a few of my monthly updates, I was extremely disappointed in the cucumber situation in my 2021 garden. I had intentionally planted more containers with cucumber vines, and I think this was the worst year I’ve ever had in terms of cucumber production. As I mentioned in the August summary, I first had issues because the soil needed more nutrients, and because of my past experience with other potting soils, I didn’t expect to have to add fertilizer! The graph below shows that the most cucumbers I got on any given date was five, and that was an anomaly! I don’t know what sort of disease or blight got to my vines (I tried looking things up, but nothing quite matched what I was seeing(, but it was devastating. I love cucumbers, so I’m hoping that I can do better in 2022.

NASTURTIUM – I loved having nasturtium in my garden. The leaves are such a pleasing shape, and the flowers are absolutely beautiful. I don’t care as much for the taste of them, but their visual beauty is enough for me! Midsummer was quite hot for them, and I probably should have been fertilizing the soil that I used in my containers last year, but the plants were spectacular as the summer came to a close. I collected and saved a number of seeds, and I’m hoping to grow them in addition to the leftovers from the original seed packet.

MARIGOLD – Marigolds were a surprise hit for me this year! I remember growing them when I was little (often for a Mother’s Day gift in Sunday School or something like that), and feeling fairly ambivalent toward them. The marigolds in my garden were a gift from a neighbor, and I just loved the color they brought! And they were huge! I also was delighted to watch all the different insects they attracted to my garden. I have plenty of seed saved up from the 2021 plants, and I will definitely be planting them again. I am considering adding multiple containers and even having some of the containers outside the perimeter of my garden as a wildlife deterrent. If the containers are smaller, they would be easy to move for lawn mowing.

HERBS – Quite possibly, my 2021 garden was the “herbiest” I’ve ever had! I grew basil, parsley, dill, and chives, as well as lavender. It was not a surprise that I LOVED having these fresh herbs available for my use, and I definitely intend to grow these herbs again in my 2022 garden (I even saved dill seeds from the 2021 plant). I’d like to figure out how to make my parsley more prolific, because of all the herbs, I use that in the largest quantities. I never did figure out how to propagate my lavender, and I would really like to know how to do that. I will admit that I just left the chives and lavender in their pots outdoors all winter. I am interested to see what happens, since both could be perennials. It is my hope to have a lavender bed in another part of my back yard. I just love the scent.

I’m already checking out container gardening books from the library and dreaming about the types of vegetables I’ll be growing in 2022. I’ll be checking my local extension office’s documents about seed starting dates and gearing up for the next growing season as soon as I can! Here’s to a prolific 2022!

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Previously, I posted some layouts that I created for a memoir project that I began in June 2021. These were the title page and introduction to an album that documents my childhood through when I met my husband, created with the guidance of the “Before Your Story” class at Simple Scrapper.

As I mentioned in that post, I think this is possibly one of the most meaningful memory-keeping projects I have created. (The introduction page explains why; see post linked above.) And it is now finished! I filmed a flip-through video today, and I have included some peeks at my process creating this project.

Thank you so much for watching!

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As we come to the close of the year, I thought it would be fun and informative for me to look back at my 2021 projects — both what I did and what I intended to do! As part of the Simple Scrapper Planning party in November, I did a brief look back over the year, and I wanted to dive a bit deeper here on my blog and also touch on my sewing and gardening a bit, too. Buckle up– it’s a long post!


In 2021, I managed to do projects all year long, despite the workload of homeschooling (and the creative fatigue) from January through the very beginning of June. However, once June hit, I dove more deeply into memory-keeping, specifically the Simple Scrapper “Before Your Story” class (more on that below), but that kicked off a massively productive second half of the year!

Each year, as I set up my new planner, I usually write a master wishlist of projects that are anywhere from in-progress to ongoing to ideas that I’d like to try. When I make this list, I never expect to finish everything (although I will admit that it’s always a wild secret hope), and 2021’s list was ambitious as always!

I found that I was a bit burned out on sewing, even though I did complete a number of projects! I kept having ideas for things to sew, but I didn’t start as many as in the past. However, having an external deadline often was motivation to get me going and finish! I made the grey Halifax Hoodie and the floral Thistle Tote for our spring break vacation; the blue cherry dress for my birthday; a pair of PJ pants at the last minute for my daughter for a pajama day at dance class, the galaxy Manassa Maxi for our summer vacation; our children’s costumes; a t-shirt quilt for my daughter’s decade birthday, and my handmade Christmas gifts–posts coming soon). My golden yellow Bexley was a quick sew and I loved the fabric so much; it was probably the favorite of all the fabrics I sewed this year! The frequency and pace of my sewing projects picked up in the last few months of the year; I wonder if that momentum will carry into the new year?

I think that this year was more of a memory-keeping year. I made 54 layouts in addition to other projects! I had some specific goals that I’ll review individually here:

Submit to SCT each quarter of 2021 —
I managed to accomplish this!  When I set out to submit each quarter, only in my dreams did I consider that I might be selected for an issue, let alone all four! I am so very thankful, and the layouts I submitted this year are some of my favorites of all time.  I will definitely be putting this goal on my 2022 list, as well. It helped me to get some past seasonal memories into my scrapbook albums, and I am looking forward to doing more of that in the new year.

Daily journaling–
I watched the beginning of Heidi Swapp’s “Stop the Blur” intro/free class late in 2020, and while full-on memory planning sounded extremely overwhelming, I really liked the idea of having a tiny spot to jot down some daily thoughts.  I modified her weekly notes sheets so that I could print them and keep them with my planner.  It was surprisingly hard to keep up: I fluctuated often between being on top of it and getting several days behind.  I also had a hard time figuring out how much detail to include.   I am really glad that I did keep this daily record (and it has been useful as I caught up my captions for my video library! see below…), but I didn’t love doing it.  I don’t think that I want to do this again in 2022; I would rather be better at keeping up with my photo and video captioning. In addition, I am toying with a weekly “–ing” summary but wondering if that would be even harder to keep up.  

Continue creating layouts for Disney 2016 album–
I had SO much fun this year making layouts for my Disney 2016 album.   I created twenty-two pages (layouts and pockets) for this project alone and realized that I am not in any hurry to finish it.  I LOVE that it is planned out: when I want to create a Disney project, I just look through my albums to pick the one that is most interesting to me.  The photos are printed, and I have the stories in my journals and metadata.  It’s almost completely playtime, and I love it.  This did require an enormous amount of preplanning, but now that I’m enjoying this process so much, I want to do more of this for future projects like Disney 2022 and Germany 2019.
In November, I joined the Disney Creative Co. design team, and I’ll be putting together at least four projects per month for assignments. I am excited to have this “excuse” to work on my 2016 album, and I will have no lack of photos from our 2020 trip to tackle, as well!

Continue creating pages for 2019 Everyday Album–
This was another big intention for my year.  I created the main pages for the February section but ran out of steam (and time at that particular part of our homeschooling year) before I made the inserts.  While I was making the February pages, I was reminded of how valuable this project is/could be, so I don’t want to drop it yet, but it is a huge and overwhelming undertaking, especially considering that only March and April are planned.  This (at least adding a couple more months) is probably going to be a priority in 2022.

Homeschool 2020-2021 digital book–
We homeschooled our children for the 2020-2021 school year, and it was amazing+so hard all at the same time… and definitely something I want to have documented. As we approached the end of the school year, I started envisioning how this would look as a digitally-created book. I wrote a lot of journaling.  I took a lot of photos.  I really wanted to make this book. I had grand intentions of making it as soon as our school year was completed. However, “Before Your Story” came into my field of view, and this project took a back seat.  Even though I put it off, I still really want to make this book about the most unusual school year we’ve had.  This will likely be another priority for 2022.

“Before Your Story” class through Simple Scrapper
This was the big unexpected project of the year.  In January, this was not even remotely a consideration, and it wasn’t until mid-May that it came onto my radar as I listened to the Simple Scrapper podcast.  The confluence of reminiscing about Pioneer Girls with my lifelong friend and hearing about this organized and manageable approach to documenting my childhood intensely intrigued me, and I made (for me) a very last minute decision to sign up for the class (and in so doing, the Simple Scrapper community…). I enlarged the scope of the project a bit, and added in a side project to scan almost all the photos from my parents’ photo albums, so it became an enormous undertaking.
HOWEVER, this project is 99.9% complete– I need to print just a few photos for it to be totally finished, and I’m waiting to compile a larger order to make it a bit more cost effective.
I should also note that I asked my husband to document his own childhood through the framework of this class, and he jumped right in! As of the end of December, he has drafted most of his journaling and selected and scanned almost all of his photos. We still have some work to do, but the bulk of the research and writing is finished! This will be a priority in the first two months of 2022.
Even though it was a “surprise” project, I am SO glad that I added it. I think that this memoir album is one of the most important scrapbook projects that I’ve made, and I am thrilled that we will have a matching set for my husband and me. I think that they will help our children and anyone who reads them to understand more about who we are and the people, experiences, and places that shaped us.

my son’s Project 365 baby album– 
This project has been on my list since I was pregnant with B!  Ever since that first year came to a close, I’ve been trying to finish and/or feeling the weight of this project being unfinished.  The “live” run of The Finishing Project class at Simple Scrapper seemed like the perfect motivation to really bring this to a close.  My momentum was interrupted by the costume project, but I am really proud of the progress I made once I really dug in after the costumes were finished.  This is another project that is on the cusp of completion, but there are a couple small loose ends that need to be tied up before I put them back on the living room shelves. I’m hoping to finish in January 2022: I want to get it off my list!!

photo and video management– 
I had grand plans of keeping up with my videos and photos throughout the year.  I set aside the weekly time waiting in the car during my daughter’s dance class to work on photos and videos, and it worked for a while!   I also had planned to work through past years’ videos monthly.  That was too much, and I got very behind once I stopped using that time for videos (for various reasons: the weather got too hot to stay in the car, I was too tired, etc).  Once dance class ended in the spring, the management really languished. 
Another hangup was with my one-second-per-day project. Early in the year, the iMovie phone app changed with an update, and I could no longer easily add text to the one-second increments.  I got stressed out and just stopped working on that project, intending to do it “later” when I’d figured things out.  I didn’t even try iMovie on my computer until near the end of October, and so there was a bit of a crunch at the end of the year to catch up my videos, and to assemble the one-second compilation video.   I decided that previous years will have to wait.  To help with that crunch, I dedicated the Monday Quiet Co-working sessions at Simple Scrapper to photo and video management, and that the focused time has really helped me get things under control! I am hoping to finish the one-second compilation by early January.
I got an iPhone 12 in October, and it has been my goal to seriously cull photos and videos each day before I allow them to be uploaded to Dropbox. This has helped to streamline my workflow from the start, and I plan to continue this and the dedicated photo/video management time each week to stay on top of my digital assets in the coming year!

So what did I learn this year?
— Having projects pre-planned makes the creative part pure fun.
— Setting aside dedicated time blocks was a game-changer for me (you can hear me talk a bit about this on episode 144 of the Scrapbook Your Way podcast). This not only provided accountability for staying focused, but it also freed me to be more content working on other things (even housework), knowing that I had time coming up to spend on my hobbies. Designating time for the more tedious tasks like photo/video management has helped me to stay on track, and it is not as overwhelming when I take it in segments like this.
— Setting up “punch lists” has helped me to tackle some of the biggest projects on my list and get them to the finish line. I want to do some more finishing in 2022, and I will definitely be using punch lists for those projects.
— Being a part of the Simple Scrapper community has been wonderful. I love the camaraderie. I love the encouragement and support. I love the geeky conversations we have about our hobby. I love the opportunity to participate in virtual crops, classes, etc. I think 2022 has the potential to be even more productive with this community along side me.
— I want to move to doing less pocket-based scrapbooking, and maybe even eliminate page protectors (go back to strap hinge??). However, I have several projects set up with a pocket-page format at their basis, so I’ll still need to do some.
— I want to learn how to better balance my hobbies. Memory-keeping and scrapbooking sometimes seem like warring passions, and I’d like to figure out how to make sure I have time to do each when the pendulum of my interest swings to one or the other. I’d also like to include more playtime into both of them, whether it’s gelli-printing, art journaling, crumb quilting, etc.

Stay tuned for a blog post soon about some hopes and plans for my creating in 2022!

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Here is the fourth of 5 “main” pages for the February section of my 2019 “everyday” album.

As I mentioned in the previous three posts about this section, I have been using a stash kit that I assembled to use during the Victoria Marie virtual crop at the end of January. This particular layout doesn’t fit into any of the challenges, but I do credit the whole crop for getting me going! It feels really good to be working through another whole section of this album. (more thoughts at the end of this post)

The top 4×6 and two left-hand 4×3 pockets are meant to go together: they tell the story of my daughter’s preparations for the Valentine’s celebration in her classroom at school. In order to tie them together, I used the same pink patterned paper behind the smaller photos, and I used parts of the same border sticker at the top of the 4×6 pocket and the bottom of the 4×3 photo.

I’m finding the lovely Paislee Press 4×3 cards to be hard to use in this album. They are so clean and minimal, and this particular project can’t really be described as minimal, can it?! Haha! However, this card was so perfect for this photo of my kids, so I tiled it together with the photo to fit in the 4×6 pocket, bridging the seam with a cluster made from a border strip, label stamped with the date, and an arrow sticker.

There’s another flip-up on this page. As I looked at my photo captions for the story, I realized that there was more of a story to tell, so I included it underneath and added an extra photo.

…some reflections…

I’m starting to run out of steam on this set of pocket pages, I must admit. There is still one more “regular” page in this set (see my next post!), and there are two pocket inserts and two 12×12 layouts planned. Although I haven’t yet used up the stash kit I made, I’m getting much lower on supplies (especially embellishments). I will probably take a pause on this project for a bit so that I can come back with fresh eyes for the inserts and 12×12 layouts.

The original idea for this project was to be a bit of an expansion on my day-in-the-life book projects so that our everyday lives could be captured and displayed: photos+stories together in a physical format. I wanted my kids to have a better look at all the photos that I’m always taking (since they are still not allowed on my computer)! I started the project with the idea (delusion??) that I’d be making it a month or two behind when I was actually taking the photos… and we all can see how that turned out, haha!

It’s a really big project. So big. (And I have a couple other big projects on my plate at the same time.). It has taken–and will take–a lot of planning: I only have photos through April planned out and printed, though I have ephemera and lots of notes and photo captions collected for the rest of the year. There have been some moments when I start wondering whether I will actually ever fill in the rest of the months… and I still can’t guarantee that I will finish (although given my completionist personality, I imagine that I will complete it, but maybe not for years!!).

BUT. I am so glad that I’m doing it. I (of course) didn’t fully understand it at the time: 2019 was “normal.” Even though some big stuff happened for me personally (ankle injury culminating in surgery, loss of my beloved grandfather, a trip to Germany, both kids going to school at the same time, etc.), it still was “normal.” 2020 was so wildly different. It’s been amazing to look back at the little everyday stories of our life in the “before times” and celebrate all those moments in this album project. For that reason alone, I want to keep going. Pockets still aren’t my favorite format, but they are the right format for this collection of small stories that add up to a huge whole story.

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Last January, I decided not to share my goals/intentions on my blog.  It was an interesting year, and although I accomplished many things, I didn’t do a very good job of keeping track of them!  I’d like to do better about keeping a list in 2018.  I won’t share every little detail on my blog, but I’ll share a lot of my projects!

In 2017, I tried not to be as rigid in setting goals for myself and then assessing my progress on a regular basis.  There were definitely good things about this approach, but I also felt like I didn’t have a good sense of my priorities and how I was achieving my goals.  So as we start in on a new year (holy moly), I decided that I’m going to share a list of what I hope to do creatively in 2018:

  • scrapbook more: make layouts! (at least one per month?) and figure out some sort of process for documenting stories that don’t need a whole layout, possibly pocket pages…
  • finish my son’s album by his birthday (it’s still essentially at the point that I discussed in THIS post)
  • make significant progress on my Disney 2016 album (photos placed, layouts made)
  • finish my Grenada journal
  • make photo books: Day-in-the-life 2016, 2017 (and probably 2018) and Hersheypark 2015
  • color at least once per week (more on this to come!)
  • sew a new purse for myself
  • sew more garments (I have some patterns and fabric lying in wait…)

As you can see, paper crafting projects have a large emphasis on this list.  Toward the end of 2017, I was sewing almost exclusively (while still keeping up with my photos fairly well), and although I LOVED the sewing, I also really missed my physical memory-keeping projects.

This list will give me a framework for setting my monthly project hopes/intentions/goals. It will almost certainly evolve throughout the year, but I really do want to make good progress on some of those longer-term projects that have been on my mind. I intend to keep a master list in my planner of the projects I finish throughout the year so that I have a bit of accountability and encouragement to keep going!

Here’s to 2018!


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This is the second in a short series of posts in which I am sharing some “artful devotions” from this summer: hand-lettered verses.  You can find the first post HERE.

I found that hand-lettering verses this summer really made me meditate on the exact and specific words used.  As I planned the way the words would look and fit on my page, I had to decide their importance and weight– and how that would impact how a viewer saw the verse.  I think the emphasis that I’ve placed on some of the words also says a bit about how God was working in my heart and what He was teaching me as I studied.

I am hoping that the time I spent meditating on these Scriptures will help to implant them firmly in my heart and mind–similar to the way God’s attributes impacted me and I am remembering them better for having made illustrations in my Bible last summer.







P.S. All the verses are from the ESV

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I love memory-keeping.

This is not a surprise to anyone who knows me even a little bit.  I like to say that photos are my love-language!  I take so many photos, and I have a detailed system in place to make sure that all of my photos have some sort of caption attached to them.

The form of memory-keeping I like best is paper scrapbooking.  “Traditional” scrapbook pages are at the top of that list: I love adding pretty paper and embellishments to my photos and stories to enhance them and turn them into creative works.  I love the layers, the colors, the feel of the paper and chipboard and veneer and…and…


Recently, though, I have had to prioritize other things, and so I have been doing very little actual scrapbooking with paper.  Add to that the fact that my craft room had to be involved in some plumbing replacement during our bathroom renovation, and you find a girl who is desperate for a creative outlet without a place to make stuff.

And so, I decided to take advantage of the forced time away from my physical supplies to do some digital work.  I had photos to catch up with, and I also had some photo books that I’ve wanted to make.


monorail and Dry Gulch Railroad, 2013


Ladybugs and Sack Slide, 2013


I have mixed feelings about photo books.  Anyone else?  Sometimes I feel like it’s cheating.  It feels like instead of actually making a scrapbook, I’m just throwing some photos onto pages and printing them into a book, and calling it good.  I choose and edit my photos, I upload them to Shutterfly and make the books right in their software.  For these most recent photo books, I just used the standard styles (not even the premium ones) to construct my books.  I didn’t even use my own digital supplies in PSE to make my own pages!  Cheating?


Starship and Ladybugs, 2016


Flying Falcons, 2016

When I really stop to think about it though, I realize that it’s not cheating.  Yes, I used the website’s software and basic templates and supplies.  But I spent hours on them– adding embellishments in just the right places, tweaking the photo placements so that they were just right, and adding text to tell the stories of our annual trips to Hersheypark.  These are scrapbooks, too.  They might not have the tactile end result of layers of paper and embellishments, shadows and textures, but they are lovingly made– and they are completely personalized to our family’s story.  And best of all: they are done!  They are available on our bookshelf — the kids browse through these photo books, reminiscing from the photos, and asking their Daddy and me to read the words to them.  I am so glad that I have taken the time to write so much about each photo.  The metadata in the photo files helped me to construct the narrative that runs through each book.  It’s not cheating: it’s another form of memory-keeping.


Cocoa Cruiser and Livery Stables, 2017


Trailblazer and Convoy, 2017


Ladybugs and Swing Thing, 2017

I still love paper scrapbooks, and I hope that I am always able to keep making them.  But I will also be making more photo books, too.  Sometimes those books will be done on the Shutterfly website, and sometimes I will completely design them myself in PSE.  I’m making my peace with photo books, and I’m glad.


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2013


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2016


photo with Mr. Hershey, 2017

In this post, I’ve shared photos of the three most recent photo books I made in June and July of this year.  I am trying to keep a series of photo books of our annual day trips to Hersheypark.  We went for the first time in 2013, and we’ve gone every year since– I’d like to have a book for each year.  I have not yet made my book for 2015 (there are so many photos from that year!), but I have made all of the others so far!  (I made the book for 2014 way back in that same year, so I’m not showing it in this blog post.)  It’s so fun to see our kids grow up– which rides are new for them each year, and which ones are perennial favorites.  


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Last year over the summer, I did some illustrations in my Bible as I studied God’s attributes and names.  It was a really satisfying way to add some artistic creativity into my devotional time.  More than that, the attributes and names that I illustrated have really remained in my heart and mind because of the time that I spent meditating upon them as I worked.

This summer, I decided to do more “artful devotions,” and in the late spring, I came across Krystal Whitten’s “Letter the Gospel” challenge.  I bought myself a blank sketchbook and worked on a verses throughout the summer.

I’d like to share some of what I made here on the blog.  I studied each verse for a bit before I started working on the lettering.  During my studying, usually I would have an idea of how I wanted to present the verse on my page, and I penciled in lines with a ruler and added my lettering in pencil, too.  I used my three thicknesses of black Becky Higgins Project Life pens to ink the words.  (I’d really like to try a brush pen, but I haven’t purchased one yet!)






P.S. All the verses are from the ESV

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