New scrap room planning

Like I mentioned in one of my last posts, in exactly one month, we take possession of our new house!  I’m getting so excited about it for so many reasons.  It’s heightened by the fact that we’ll have been of no fixed address for four months once we’re finally in.  I can’t wait to have all my own stuff back!

Although it won’t be a top priority in the first few weeks, I admit that I’ve started to plan out my scrap space.  In this house, our main living area will be our upstairs bonus room, so the second bedroom upstairs is going to be our office/my scrap room.

I got rid of all my Recollections cubes before we moved – they really weren’t holding up well and I didn’t think some of them would survive the move.  My husband says he’s going to build me a storage solution someday, which will be awesome, but in the meantime I’ve got some ideas of how I want to set the room up.

We have two Ikea Kallax bookcases – a 2×4 and a 4×4.  My goal is to use the 2×4 for my supplies and leave the 4×4 for our books and my completed albums.  I think I’ll have to store my empty albums on a shelf in the closet to make this work.

My pocket scrapbook cards will be stored in Close To My Heart medium organizers.  I may have to buy a couple more but I plan to put all my kits and cardstock in these.  From some of the inspiration pictures I’ve seen, I should be able to get two to a cube – and I’ll likely need three cubes for those (eep – time to stop shopping and start using).  I already have my pocket pages in Cropper Hopper vertical organizers, so that’ll take up another cube.  My 12×12 paper will fill up cube #4.  Some Tjena boxes from Ikea should do the trick for tools, adhesives, pens and inks.   My stamps are in DVD-size storage cases, so they should be OK to stack on a shelf, with some sort of bin for stickers. I’m also considering adding a couple of Kallax drawer inserts for those two cubes. Magazines and idea books will take up #8.

think that covers everything – but my stuff’s been packed up for a while and it’s hard to remember everything I have!

As far as a workspace goes, we’ve decided to go big.  It’ll be great for both my husband when he uses the desk to mark and me when I scrapbook.  We’re going to get this desk setup from Ikea.

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Fall is in the air

It’s a cold and rainy day, school starts on Tuesday – it’s definitely fall.  My thoughts turn to scrapbooking every year at this time – once fall and winter descend on the Great White North, I have far more time and inclination to scrapbook (whether my grand plans of getting caught up for the year actually come true are another story entirely).

I haven’t checked in on my goals since posting about them in January.  This will probably be depressing since I know I haven’t accomplished much of anything scrap-wise this year.

Pictures – I’ve definitely been better about taking more day-to-day pictures.  I love the camera on my iPhone 6 Plus, and I’ve also got my husband in the habit of taking more with his phone.  Our DSLR has come out twice or three times this year, so I haven’t really been learning much about it.   Becky Higgins recommended a photo editing app called Pic Tap Go which I’ve been using a lot to edit pictures I’ve taken on my phone.  I’ve been pretty impressed with the results and it’s super simple to use.

Catching up – ahhahahahahaha.  Ha.  Not anywhere remotely close.  I’ve completed the grand total of two pages since my scrapbooking weekend in April.  Between our multiple-stage move, a very busy summer with lots of camping, and not having a decent place to work in our short-term rental, there hasn’t been the time or space.

I’ve set a deadline for myself to complete my parents’ cruise album before they go on their next cruise at the end of October.  Ambitious, since we’re in our rental till the end of September, then back with them for two weeks prior to taking possession of our new house.  I’m going to take advantage of the late night crops my LSS offers next Friday and spend 6 solid hours working, with none of the distractions of home.  I may book another one in early October too.  Once we move back with my parents, I’ll have a better space to work at, so I’m going to fill my evenings by getting their book done.

I’m going to set that as one of only three goals for the rest of the year.  We move into our new house October 15, and setting up my scrap space won’t be the priority.  I’m hoping to get to it by mid-November, but then Christmas will be upon us, and I don’t know how much I’ll get completed.  If I do have the time, I’ll work on a few small pages I have to finish, then start to tackle 2014.

Week/day in the life – 2016.  Not going to add the pressure to myself.

Memorabilia – yeah, so I said it WILL be dealt with in the decluttering of my house.   Survey says – BZZZZZT.  The bin got packed away full.  Fortunately, the stream of stuff coming home from daycare has slowed down, so I won’t be adding to the pile too much.  I think I need to be realistic and just go through a year at a time – add what I can to Miss A’s 2013 book, then as I work through 2014 do the same thing.

Stash management –  well, there was some progress.  I cleared a bunch of stuff out as I decluttered the house.  But…I’ve purchased a few new kits over the summer.  I’ve tried to be really realistic about what I’m buying and not getting caught up in the “I must have all the kits” fever.  For example, Bloom and Inspire both caught my eye, but I know they’re really not my style and won’t get used.  I was on the fence about Fine & Dandy, but from past experience, those “I’m unsure” kits don’t get used either.  Once I get my scrap room unpacked and organized, I’m going to do a huge purge and start with a stash where I truly LOVE every kit.

The second goal I’m setting for myself is getting my new scrap area set up and organized, so I can start 2016 with an organized space ready to go.  I’ve been doing a bit of planning as to what I want and how I’m going to set the room up, which I’ll post about later.

My last goal is blog-related.  I want to reorganize the PL Kit Checklist page and download into something more manageable.  I’m going to do two versions – alphabetically and by release date.  I’m hoping to have that done by the end of the week, so if all goes well, that’ll be an easy one to cross off the list.

Rock – paper – scissors

Or in the Project Life world: physical – digital – app.

Three formats, each with their pros and cons.  It’s a completely personal decision and no one format is the best.   Whether you’re a complete paper or digi scrapper, or find a hybrid in between, like anything else in this hobby, find what works best for you.

Personally I’m a physical product scrapbooker.  There’s a lot of different reasons I’ve stayed working with paper.  First, it’s what I know – digital wasn’t really a thing when I started scrapbooking.   There’s something about the actual act of flipping through tangible cards, paper, pictures, and embellishments that’s comforting to me.  Plus products seem to be released in the physical format first and I’m not the most patient person when I want something new!  I think it’s easier to capture handwriting when you’re working with physical product.

Of course, there are downsides.  Living outside the US, it can be difficult to get my hands on new releases, and especially frustrating when there’s exclusive kits released to US-only stores. When you have a certain card in a kit that you love, there’s not an unlimited number of them, and you often end up with a stack of ones you’re not crazy about.   And there’s storage to consider – how much space they take up and how to store the collection of cards you’re sure to amass.

Digital

The biggest appeal to me of digital scrapbooking are the fact that you can modify cards fairly easily.  It’s easy to mix and match between kits and even brands, and there’s hundreds of digital-only options out there.  If there’s a card you love, you can use it over and over without running out.  If your physical space is limited, all you need is a computer and you’re good to go.

I see some of the same challenges as with physical scrapbooking though – how do you organize all that you have digitally?  And although it’s easier to add space digitally, through external hard drives or storage in the cloud, space still can be an issue.  It can get expensive as well – between purchasing software such as Photoshop, then printing out pages either individually or in a photo book.  The number-one reason I decided to stay away from digital when I switched to pocket scrapbooking was that I’m on a computer at least 8 hours a day at work.  I want my hobby to be a break from the screen!

The Project Life App

An inexpensive app with kits that are reasonably priced, it’s the perfect way to scrapbook on-the-go.  I downloaded the app to see what it was all about, and I’ve used it to create a few collages but that’s it.

The biggest downside to the app is that currently, it’s available for Apple products only.  An Android version is in the works, but tough bounce if you have a Windows phone or don’t have a smartphone/tablet at all.  Using a small screen is a turn-off to me – even working on an iPad strains my eyes after a while.  There’s still the costs of printing pages as with digital scrapbooking.  There aren’t as many ways to manipulate pictures or cards easily through the app, or utilize non-Project Life brand products.

In the end, I think it’s fantastic that there’s a variety of options to get your pictures off your camera and get your memories recorded.

Somebody that I used to know

Unless you’re completely up-to-date on your scrapbooking, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll come across pictures of a time in your life that isn’t so happy.  Whether it’s a person that’s not in your life anymore, or pictures taken around a sad event, it can be difficult to want to scrapbook those pictures.

So what to do?  I’ve dealt with it a few times over the years and each time I’ve handled it differently.

When I split up with my boyfriend that I’d lived with for five years, I had tons of random pictures of him, as well as pictures of trips or events we’d been to.  Once I got to working with those pictures, I scrapbooked the stuff I truly wanted to remember, making as little reference to him as possible, and trashed all the candid shots.  At one point, I considered going back and redoing some layouts I’d done when we were together, but decided against it – it’s still a part of my history and important to remember it.

Last fall, I avoided working on my albums because I scrap chronologically, and knew I was coming up on a bunch of pictures I’d taken with my bestie.  There were pictures of things I needed to scrapbook, like my 40th birthday, so there was no way to avoid them.  We had a falling out and it made me incredibly sad to look at them and remember how much fun we’d had.  I figured with some time, it would be easier to work on the pages and reminisce.  On the bright side, we both got our heads out of our behinds and reconciled, before I got around to working on them, so obviously it’s been much easier to scrapbook the pictures.

I haven’t gotten to pictures from last Christmas, but once I do, I know that it’ll be hard to look at them objectively, knowing how sick my dad was over the holidays.  While I try to focus on the good things in my albums, I plan to do some hidden journaling or something which talks about his illness and diagnosis.  I try to keep my albums positive, but in chronicling real life, there’s going to be times that aren’t upbeat and I think it’s important to include that.

Scrap retreat recap

I was really excited about heading out for a scrapbooking weekend in April.  I had intended on taking at least part of Friday off, but I forgot to block off my calendar, and ended up scheduled in meetings for most of the day.  Things wrapped up a bit early and I was able to sneak out just after 3, then I got caught in construction traffic on the way out of the city.  But I was at our bed and breakfast around 5 pm, hauled in all of my stuff and got set up.  We ate dinner and I was ready to get rolling.

A word about stuff – I hoped I’d haul less stuff than when I was still doing 12×12 pages, but not so much.  I had no idea how much I’d get done, so I took pretty much everything – there’s not much worse than running out of stuff when you’re away and have the time to work on things! I packed tons of pocket pages, all my pictures, cards, embellishments and stamps.  The only thing I didn’t take was my Silhouette and cardstock.

The first night, I focused on finishing the journaling in my 2013 album. It was trickier than I thought it would be. You always think you’ll remember dates of events, or funny things your kid said, or the little details to use for journaling but two years on, I struggled! Fortunately, we had wi-fi available and I was able to go through Facebook and my iMessages to figure out a lot of details. It took longer than I figured it would, and in retrospect working on journaling wasn’t the best use of my time. I could have taken a completed album anywhere and worked on it. I need to lose my pathological need to complete things in chronological order and be able to work on new pages when old ones aren’t 100% complete.

Saturday I slept in a bit, and was off to a slow start, finally getting around to sitting at the table around noon.  I continued to work on journaling, and finally completed it just before dinner.  I started working on new pages and was really mad I’d spent so much time journaling.  I stayed up till close to 1 am, then was up early Sunday to get back at it.  I got about halfway through 2014, putting pictures in pockets then adding cards, before I had to pack up and head home.

In the end, I didn’t get as much done as I’d hoped.  I don’t want to say I “wasted” time on journaling, but it wasn’t the best use of my time out there.  I learned some other things through the weekend:

  • I need to find another way to keep track of things as I go – whether it’s a journal or planner, I’m not sure, but Facebook and text messages aren’t the way to go.  I’m probably not ever going to be 100% caught up, and that means I forget things.
  • I did some stamping on my cards and I really liked the look of it.  I need to learn how to do it better and figure out what the best ink pads to use are.
  • Pocket style doesn’t necessarily equal less stuff.  I’m hoping that if the retreat goes ahead in the fall and I’m able to attend, depending on our house situation, I can spend some time getting more organized before I head out, taking less stuff with me.

Actual scrapbooking time!

In four hours, I’ll be packing up my extremely overloaded desk at work, hopping into my car and taking off for a much-needed break. After a couple of years where either we didn’t have enough people to make it work or the days didn’t work for me, I’m off on my semi-annual scrapbooking weekend.

It’s been so long since I’ve had the time, energy or inclination to work on my albums. Once we started to get our feet back under us after my dad’s diagnosis, we met with some realtors to get some advice about listing our home. With a shaky economic situation in our province, every one of them agreed we should list sooner rather than later because it could take a bit of time to sell. So we spent all of our free time decluttering, cleaning, organizing, staging and doing minor repairs to our house.

Guess what…6 days on the market and we had an offer. And to add another level of complication to the issue, our new house is a bit delayed. So now my free time has been split between looking for a short-term rental and starting to pack.

Needless to say, I’m ready to get away and ignore apartment-hunting, house cleaning, packing, work and cooking for a weekend. This is the first retreat I’ve gone on since starting scrapbooking pocket-style, so I’m anxious to see how much I get completed!

My Scrapbooking Process

Prior to starting pocket scrapbooking , I would do my pages in an orderly fashion – decide on pictures, coordinating cardstock, patterned paper and embellishments, do my layout then complete the journaling.  I continued with this kind of process when I did my Project Life baby album – I picked out pictures and cards for a layout, then did my journaling.  It was a bit easier for this album because I was using one kit only so my card choices were limited.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my big AH-HA moment from watching Creative Live was the idea of batch processing.  Rather than approaching it a layout at a time, you take the time you have to scrapbook and work on a specific step in the process.

I did a few pocket layouts working from A to Z but I found it frustrating.  So the last time I worked on my album, I decided to try the batch process idea to finish my pages from August to December 2012.  I’d already printed all my pictures for this time period, taking advantage of a Costco sale.  I spent a few hours going through my photo albums, pulling out pictures that I wanted to use.  Once I had the pictures in a stack, I went through and put them in the photo pocket pages.  Right now, I’m working on going through and adding cards to the pages.  I find it easier to do it this way rather than dealing with cards and pictures at the same time.  Once I have all the cards in the pockets, I’ll go back and do my journaling.

This is working really well for me, and I can see that it’ll be something that I continue.  It really helped me narrow down what pictures I wanted to use.  Also, because I’m using multiple kits now, it seemed to make things go more smoothly.

Going forward, here’s how I see batch processing working for me.

  • I’m going to take a night a month to decide on keeper pictures, do any editing, and then upload for printing or send then to be printed.
  • Once they’re printed, rather than putting them all in storage albums, pulling them out then putting them in my albums, they’ll just go straight into the pocket pages.
  • Insert cards into pages, and embellish.  That’s something I want to do a bit more of.
  • Do my journaling.

Making Project Life your own

I’m in a few Project Life Facebook groups, and one thing that frustrates me is when I see people stressing about whether they’re doing Project Life the “right” way  or what is the “best” way.

THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO DO PROJECT LIFE!!

Whatever works for YOU is the best  way.  Make Project  Life fit your style of photo taking and scrapbooking, not the other way around.

Do you take pictures of events and then scrapbook them?  That’s what I used to be before having Miss A.  The camera came out for Christmas, birthdays, trips, or other big events.  If that’s when you take pictures, then continue to do it that way.   Scrapbook the events in 12×12 pocket pages, or do mini albums.

If you want to start documenting more of everyday life, do it.  Do a weekly approach a few times a year, or all year, do monthly pages, or take a photo a day.

Combine the two.  Do everyday layouts and then add more pages whenever there’s a big event.

Do you want to stick with one core kit throughout the album or do you want to mix it up with different core kits, mini kits, themed packs or different brands?  Do you want to use one orientation of page protector or a variety?  Embellish or not – it’s up to you.   What WORKS FOR YOU.

Personally, I need variety and would get bored with one core kit so I have several that I’m using.  I’ve even started mixing cards from different core kits.  Recently, my online supplier started offering We R Memory Keepers Albums Made Easy products and I’ve bought a few of their card kits.  On the other hand, I don’t embellish much at all.  I’ve used a few stamps, some solid cardstock and stickers here and there.   If I want to do up a page a bit more, I will but it’s not my style generally.

This hobby is supposed to be fun, and that part of it got away from me for a long time.  I have enough stress in my life between a demanding career, and balancing work and home life.  I’m at the point where if something adds stress to my life, it needs to go.  I’m back to enjoying scrapbooking rather than being stressed out about it.  Although I have certain goals laid out for myself in 2014, I reserve the right to go back and re-evaluate them, change them or toss them out altogether if I need to!

My scrapbooking goals for 2014

In November I watched Scrapbooking With Project Life on Creative Live – a three day class that Becky Higgins hosted which was all about Project Life.  A lot of the concepts she talked about would be just as applicable to a traditional scrapbooker, including journaling prompts, documenting the everyday, theme albums, etc.

One of the things she suggested on the first day was doing an assessment of where your scrapbooks, supplies and photos were in your house and then trying to get things into a central area.

After the assessment, she suggested you create a list of your goals and priorities for scrapbooking.  Whether it was only one album, a few over time, focusing on the future or doing everything, it would help to get it down on paper and then spend some time prioritizing your goals.  I enjoy writing lists so much, it’s really ridiculous, so this was totally up my alley.

My assessment surprised me, because I really thought all my stuff was in two places – completed scrapbooks in the bookcase in our office and my supplies, work in progress and pictures in my scrap area in the spare room.  One of the things I realized was how many of my pictures were scattered over my house, either stored on CDs, still on our cell phones, on the camera’s memory card, or only on my computer.   This changed a lot of what I thought my goals would be – they ended up not just being about completing Layout X or finishing Year Y.

Some of the other concepts she discussed also ended up influencing my list of goals.  These were ideas like ensuring you are backing up photos, how to edit using Photoshop, and the big “ah-ha” idea for me – batch processing – which I’ll talk about in another post.   The general idea is that there’s 4 steps – going through photos, printing them, inserting pictures and cards into pocket pages, and then journaling.   You work on one of these steps in one sitting.

So here’s the goals I’ve established for myself for 2014:

Taking pictures

  • Take more pictures of our everyday lives, not just the big events.
  • Make sure I’m in more of our pictures, not always the photographer.
  • Get more photos of the three of us.
  • Take pictures of non-kid related things in our life.

Photo Organization

Right now, I organize things when the urge strikes me.  Whenever Costco has a print sale, I upload hundreds of pictures at a time, with no attempt to go through and delete the really crappy ones because it’s too overwhelming with that number of pictures.  I print them all out, and then I get mad when I throw out hundreds of prints because they were fuzzy, or not a good picture of someone, or I printed 30 of essentially the same thing and only needed one or two.  It’s the downside of digital photography!

My new goal is to schedule time monthly  to organize the pictures I’ve taken in the past month.  I’m tired of uploading hundreds of pictures, waiting for a Costco print sale, then only using a small amount.  The plan is:

  • Ingest: download all pictures from both our phones and the camera.
  • Organize: rename my files using my batch renamer program, save into the month’s folder, and decide which pictures I’m going to actually use.
  • Edit: use Photoshop Elements to edit any pictures that need touching up.
  • Print: upload to Costco to print later or order prints at that time.
  • Archive: back up pictures to Google Drive and our external hard drive.

In addition, I need to go back and find all the CDs of pictures I have lying around, get them on the computer and backed up to Google Drive.

Memorabilia

My daughter is only 2.5 years old and already I’ve got a file box with art projects from daycare that’s getting out of control.  I don’t need to keep every single scribble drawing or piece of paper that she’s put stickers on because my house will be overflowing by the time she’s done school.  I want to get a system in place to control the memorabilia now.

  • Go through the files I already have and categorize the items:
    • put the originals into my albums
    • scan the originals to put into my albums
    • photograph the originals to put into my albums
    • determine if I want to keep the original in my file box
  • Schedule time to do this monthly as well to stay on top of it.

Layouts

I’ll touch on this in a different post, but there’s all sorts of ways to “do Project Life”.  A lot of people do the picture a day or weekly approach, but that’s not for me.  What I plan to do for my 2014 album is work on monthly spreads.  Some months might only need 2 pages, some might need 20, and I’m totally OK with that.  I don’t want to stress myself out by attempting to fit my style into what Project Life “should” be.  That defeats the purpose of me moving to this style of scrapbooking.

Ali Edwards has done a neat project the past few years called  A Week in the Life.  You take pictures of your everyday life every day for a week.  You document things like what you ate, what you wore, the weather, or anything you want to remember about that week in your life.  I’ve decided to take this one step further and do this four times a year – once per season – February (winter), May (spring), July (summer), October (fall).  Our lives are very different in each season and I thought it would be fun to capture the differences.

Of course, I’m also still behind on scrapbooking my daughter’s pictures, and I have a couple of loose ends I’d like to tie up in my (mostly) completed albums:

  • our wedding – finish typing out our engagement story, print it and put it in our album
  • my pregnancy pages – finish journaling on them and do the month-by-month layout I’ve planned
  • our cats – create the layouts and insert them into my 2012 album
  • catch up from July 2012 to December 2013
  • put the newborn  and 4 month professional pictures we had done of Miss A into her first year album

Whew, seems like a lot when I get it all down but I actually feel like it’s very manageable.

My scrapbooking history part 3

So there I was, floundering with too many supplies, no inspiration and pictures continuing to pile up.  I didn’t know what to do – ditch it all and just make photobooks online?  Continue with traditional scrapbooking?  Find something in the middle?

I needed to get the mountains of stuff I had under control first.  I started getting a monthly newsletter from Scrapbooker’s Inner Circle which helped me declutter and purge tons of supplies that I no longer needed.  My daughter’s daycare was thrilled with the stash of paper I donated to them!   Things began to feel more manageable when I wasn’t overwhelmed with piles of stickers, stamps, or embellishments that I wouldn’t use. 

The last “scrapbooking secret” I got from this newsletter was about using Project Life to simplify your scrapbooking.  I had a couple of core kits sitting on my shelves at the time, and I was feeling inspired to work on an album for the first time in ages.  As my daughter was almost turning two, I thought I’d start working on her first year album.  I’d googled and found a few really good suggestions about how to set up a Project Life baby book, so I made a few notes, pinned a few sites to Pinterest, and then decided to dive in.  I took the Baby For Her core kit, some photo pocket pages, my album, a pen and my pictures and sat down to scrapbook.

It felt weird to be sitting there with basically no stuff surrounding me, and it took me a few pages to get into the groove.   By the end of the first night, after 3 hours of scrapbooking, I’d finished layouts covering her family history, the story of us, my pregnancy, a time capsule of the day she was born, my labour and delivery, her arrival, and her first few days of life.

I was HOOKED.

The simplicity was exactly what I needed.  No spending half my time hauling supplies out of my craft area and setting them up and then putting everything away.  No stressing over what paper to use or what embellishments looked right.  I could have scrapbooks that were done, focused on the pictures, but still looked nice.

There were more overhauls of my craft area, keeping only the basic supplies to do a 12 x 12 page when the inspiration hit me.  I went from 16 of the modular storage cubes you can buy at Michaels down to 9.  I got my hands on more core kits, because I like to have variety in my supplies, and a few extra items like matching patterned paper and cardstock for times I might want to embellish Project Life cards or create a 12 x 12 page that coordinates.

By mid-October, having only had a few hours here and there to work on my pages, I had my daughter’s first year album finished.