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!  


Instead of doing a general princess theme for V’s party, we decided to narrow it down and choose one princess to focus upon.  It seems like our family is definitely on a Tangled kick!  It’s one of V’s two favorite princess movies, and we all love Rapunzel’s brave, spunky, persistent and sweet personality.  Plus, the movie’s aesthetic is gorgeous!

The main imagery that stood out to me from the movie is (of course!) the floating lanterns, but also the scene in which Rapunzel and Flynn participate in the city’s festival, with those beautiful purple pennant banners!  When we were in Disney World last January, one of my favorite areas of the Magic Kingdom was new Fantasyland.  Especially the Rapunzel theming!


I took this photo (and many others!) of the area of Fantasyland themed after the Tangled movie. We loved the scenery!

Between my photos of the park and the movie imagery itself, we came up with a plan for the decorations!

pennant banners and lanterns

Husband made so many paper lanterns!  He made some by shaping cylinders of white paper, and others by cutting the tops and bottoms off of white paper lunch bags.  On all of them, he stenciled yellow sunbursts (the icon of Rapunzel’s kingdom).  He attached fish line and hung them from the ceiling.

pennant banners and lanterns

In the living, room, where the main activity of the party occurred, I draped some purple tulle from the ceiling over the fireplace and added some tissue paper pom poms.  Radiating out from this point, we hung yards of pennant banners.

pennant banners and lanterns

I cut each one out of purple cardstock.  I traced in the Silhouette Studio software the sunburst design that I downloaded from the Disney Family website and turned it into a cut file and inserted it into a curved triangle flag shape.   (We also used this cut file for the stencil Husband used to paint each of the lanterns!)

pennant banners and lanterns

oooh, so pretty

We also had lanterns and pennant banners in the dining room, where we had some of the coloring activities and the kids ate their food.

there were pennant banners and lanterns in the dining room, too!

If you look closely, you can see a “magic golden flower” in a vase in the center of the dining room table!

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


In the summer of 2002, I went to China with my family.  My brother played with a youth orchestra that was doing a two-week tour through four cities, and there was an opportunity for families to travel with them in a “parallel” tour.  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances, and so my parents and I went along!

That trip was the catalyst my first “actual” “archival” scrapbook.  I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I bought myself a red fabric strap-hinge album, a multi-pack of 8.5″x11″ cardstock, some Elmer’s acid-free adhesive, and a Fiskars trimmer.

That was before I had a digital camera.  I had a nice SLR, and I set myself a limit of taking only about one roll of film per day.  We saw several tourist sites each day, usually, so it was hard to limit my photo-taking (though now, after so many years of digital, I cannot even imagine limiting myself to so few photos each day at so many sites!).  I was super-organized about my photo-taking, too.  I kept a notebook with me, and for each shot, I wrote a note of what it was.  After I got the rolls of film developed, I went through and labeled every single print with the date and the caption I’d recorded in my notebook.


I was really diligent about taking notes on each and every photo I took with my film camera on this trip!

I also kept a detailed journal.  Even then, I knew that there would be so much to remember and that my memory would not hold it all.  I can’t remember now when I wrote in that journal, but it is thorough!

When we got home from China and I had all of the film developed and the prints labeled, I put them all into my strap-hinge album– right onto those white pages!  (Old-school, baby.)  I added cardstock accents, too, and managed to make little fold-outs and booklets to get as many photos into that album as possible.



A (rare) example of a page with “finished” captions.

What I didn’t know then was that it is critical for me to add journaling to a page before I move onto the next one.  I thought that I could batch-process it: photos, then journaling, but somewhere along the way, I lost momentum.  No wonder, because the album is 62 pages (counting each face of each physical page) long!!!  I even remember bringing my supplies to my grandma’s house and working on it, sitting at her couch with a TV tray or two in front of me.


More typically, there are photos and ephemera glued to pages, but no journaling!  Ack!


So, I journaled on about five pages and then stopped.  ::sigh::  For fifteen years, that album has haunted me.  I moved it with me to graduate school, then to our first house, and now to the house in which I currently live.  Every January, when I started to think about projects I wanted to complete that year, the China scrapbook would float to mind.  But frankly, it seemed like a really boring project, compared to my current scrapbooking (which is a dramatically different style now!).

But a couple things happened at the end of this January that really brought that scrapbook to mind.  I caught a little travel video that was “Top 5 Attractions in Shanghai”– and I realized I’d been to at least four of them!  It got me remembering more about the trip, seeing the images of those sites, and I pulled my album off the shelf.  Then, a post popped up in the Scrap Gals Facebook Community– a member started a “Finish-it February” thread.  I cannot resist a challenge like that!  Rather than work on one of the (many) other projects I should finish, I decided to work on this China album at last.

So here’s the plan.  

I’d like to stick to my 2003 style, even though it is so different from my current scrapbook style.  I’d like to add captions to every page, based on my journal and my photo notes.  I’d like to finish any pages that still need to be assembled (and of course caption those, too).

There are 62 pages.  (Sheesh.)  If I do the equivalent of a spread of pages (2 pages) each day in February, I can just about finish the thing.  I have no idea if this is sustainable.  There may be days that I can complete more than 2 pages, which will help me with those days when I can’t allocate time to this project.  For now, I’m going to aim for that pace, and whatever happens, I will still have gotten this album closer to completion!

I started working on it today, and realized that I had to make some design decisions in order to make these pages satisfying while still maintaining that sparse 2003 style.  I am using my Project Life 0.01 black pen to write the captions straight onto the pages like in my original style, and I am going to add in print-and-cut labels that I make on my Silhouette to title the pages and perhaps add additional journaling where necessary.

I managed to complete the captioning on two pages (pictured below in their “before” state) today, so I guess I’m off to a good start!  Wish me luck…




Our sweet girl turned five years old at the end of November!  As time approached her birthday, Husband suggested that we throw her a birthday party.  I was resistant at first, for a number of reasons, but he convinced me, and of course then I had to go all-in!

The first thing we needed were invitations.  There was no question that the party would be princess-themed, and so I used a combination of inspiration from Pinterest and a previous invitation I designed to create the invitations for her party.


Since it was going to be a fairly small guest list, I decided to actually mail the invitations.  You know, in envelopes, with stamps.  🙂  I printed the invitations onto photo paper and matted them on coordinating purple cardstock.

digitally-designed invitation for Vivian's fifth birthday party.

After the party, I made some coordinating thank-you cards.  I was really proud of my girl for writing notes to each of her friends!  (I know it wasn’t my favorite task when I was little, but I am glad now that my mom taught me how…)

hybrid thank you cards


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

Wow, these cards were SO FUN to make!


The inspiration came from the first card in THIS post (Kalyn Kepner for Paper Smooches).  I white heat-embossed the mehndi medallions around the center of the card, which I left open for the sentiment.  I stamped it with black ink and used clear heat embossing powder to help it to stand out a bit more.

After the embossing was complete, the “messy” fun started!  I used the finger-coloring technique I saw on Jennifer McGuire’s blog and added “halos” of pigment ink around the central sentiment.  I rubbed off with a dry cloth any extra ink that got onto the embossing. I really liked coming up with the color combinations, and I can definitely see myself doing this again in the future!


white cardstock
various pigment inks
stamps: Wplus9 “Mehndi Medallions,” Lawn Fawn “You’re a Fungi”

Vehicle quilt

My little boy has been needing a larger blanket for his bed for a while now.  One night in the fall, I realized that it really wouldn’t be hard to make him a quilt like the ones I made last spring (here and here).  I went on a hunt to find fabrics he would love.  Since (of course), I started the quilt two weeks before Christmas (remember, I mentioned that I was pretty busy, and I still had a princess dress to make, too!), I was limited to the local selection, and I was surprised how hard it was to find non-character vehicle prints that were not too babyish.  But I did find one!  It’s a navy cotton with white line drawings of different kinds of vehicles: airplanes, cars, trains, helicopters, busses.  (No trucks! What?!  But it’s okay, because thankfully my boy likes all kinds of vehicles.)  I teamed it up with a multicolored, striped cotton and a solid red cotton to piece the top.


The back is one large piece of navy cotton printed with white stars.


Like the previous quilts I’ve made with this design, I used flannel as batting and machine quilted it along the piecing seams.  And of course, I made a scrappy binding.



And a dedication tag.



The quilt is just the right size for his toddler bed (a converted crib).  Later on when he has a larger bed, he could use it as a reading or TV-watching cuddle blanket.

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

Becker's quilt (sewn for him for Christmas 2016) on his bed

These aren’t super-high-quality fabrics, but that is okay for now.  They are good enough for some hard use (we’ve already washed this quilt several times!)  I’ll make my son a better “big-boy-bed” quilt when he’s a bit older.  This one is for him to enjoy right now 🙂  And he is!  I loved his reaction on Christmas morning– he immediately wanted to lay down and snuggle on it.  The perfect endorsement from my vehicle-loving little boy.


Becker's new quilt