Tag Archives: project life

Random Thoughts

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Good morning! It’s rainy, dreary and all around blech here in Philly – what a great day to go back to work after a long weekend. It’s too much of a meh day to make connected, coherent paragraphs, so here are my random, jumbled shares for this bleakish a.m.:

  • PenPals and Swapping.  When we moved to the suburbs, I felt incredibly disconnected – from my normal routines, from my friends, and I also lost a bit of my independence.  I don’t drive, I’m a terrible driver, but in the city, not only is there no need for a car, a car is a pain in the ass because there’s just no parking.  In the ‘burbs, it’s all about the car.  So, in attempt to reach out to the far off world, because that’s how I felt, a bit, trapped in my large suburban house, I started penpaling and swapping.  For the most part, I was swapping through Swap-bot and through a couple of ATC swap groups.  The ATC swap groups became all about the drama, so see ya.  I got bored of Swap-bot, and then there was Facebook – and the Pocket Letter craze.  I made a half a dozen pocket letters, never wanted to make another one, and I was off the swapping.  Penpaling was a bit more complicated.  I had joined the League of Extraordinary PenPals, and I was writing to ten or so people.  I was keeping up, doing just fine, for probably a year, and then my father died.  Strangely, I didn’t really have trouble writing letter after letter telling the whole saga again and again, but after I wrote them all – that was it.  I couldn’t write another letter.  And, it didn’t help that I had lost my Wendori (my faux Traveler’s Notebook that I had made myself, and had my pen pal log as well as all of my addresses and stamps).  And I just stopped.  I figured if I ever got a letter saying, hey, what happened to you?  I’d figure out the next step then – but I never did.  I was writing to people who also had too many pen pals, and I guess I wasn’t missed.  And, then I dropped out of the League altogether, because not only was I not an extraordinary penpal, but at that point, I couldn’t stand looking at the Facebook page – here, I was navigating the No Dad waters, and people were posting stuff like, “can you help me through this difficult time, I lost my favorite pen” or “send good thoughts my way, my third cousin twice removed is having surgery tomorrow.”  I just didn’t really have any patience, or generosity towards anyone who suffered merely from this thing called life.  Anyway, with the return of Project Life, and the hauling out of all of my papercrafting supplies, the swapping bug has bit again – this time with something called a Flip Book.  So, while I’m not wholeheartedly committing to penpaling again, I am dipping my teeny toe into the Swap-bot waters.  I’ve signed up for two swaps, and I’m not signing up for any more until they’re out in the mail.  I’ve joined a few swapping Facebook groups, but I’m not signing up for anything until those two swaps are out the door.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

  • Beautiful.  For my Valentine’s Day present, Joe got us tickets to see Beautiful, the show based on Carole King’s early career.  Strangely, after seeing the show, which was toe tapping and superfun (although – huge note to lady sitting behind me – no one came here to listen to you sing.  You leave the show singing, you don’t sit in the show singing), I was not intrigued by Carole King, but rather with her cad of a husband, Gerry Goffin.  I knew that King’s writing partner was her husband, but before the show I never really thought about who wrote what, and it never occurred to me that she didn’t write any of the lyrics, but was solely a composer, at least in those early years of collaboration.  So, I started to think about how could a guy write all of those lyrics, written primarily in a woman’s voice, like Natural Woman and Will You Still Love Me.  And then I started to think, are they really in a woman’s voice, or are they more of a unisex voice, filled with all of the humanity, introspection and insecurities that I normally, but wrongly always attribute solely women.  Or, was Goffin just an excellent fiction writer, capable of writing these tiny one act plays from a woman’s perspective, because he knew the song would be going to the Shirelles or Aretha Franklin, or their babysitter, Little Eva? In any event, it was a great show, and if it comes to a town near you, see it!

 

  • Project Life.  This past weekend was my niece’s bat mitzvah.   When it came time to fill my pockets,  I only had a handful of photos.  How strange!  I’m so used to being the photographer at life events, it’s weird to be at the mercy of someone else providing photos, as I now have to wait for my niece’s photographer to finish up with his proofs, and for my sister-in-law to post the good ones on Facebook.  I feel really awkward and conspicuous at functions with my DSLR, which leads me to question what the future is for my DSLR.  We have a tripped planned to England in June, and I know I’m going to take it, but I’m secretly dreaming of a super expensive, lightweight mirrorless Fuji or Sony or Olympus.  Ah, one can dream.  In any event, while waiting, I did have a few photos on my iphone, and there were some photos already on Facebook, so I made an insert with Ali Edward’s 6 x1 12 Layered Templates, and my nieces’ speech and my brother’s toast.  You want to see it?  So do I – but my mother liked it so much she took it, and now I’m waiting for another copy to arrive from Persnickety prints.  So, I’ll show you when it gets here!

 

  • Batman v. Superman.  Of course we had to see this opening weekend.  So Ben Affleck was a totally lame Batman.  Rather than being dark and mysterious, he was just glum and constipated.  And, the ending of this movie was just downright bleak, and a soul suck.  This movie was below zero fun.  At least the commemorative popcorn bucket is pretty cool, but that’s about it.

 

  • Happy Planners.  I want one.  I don’t need one.  What else is new?  I can’t even tell you why I want one.  I’m happy with my Traveler’s Notebook setup, and I don’t want to carry around anything bigger.  I don’t like the vertical layout of the Happy Planner, I like the horizontal layout of an Erin Condren.  But, I like the ARC system dics!  I like the idea of being able to remove pages, and adding pages.  I have seen people “Arc” their Erin Condren planners – uncoiling the binding, cutting off the leftover fringe, and repunching with an Arc punch.  But, that seems like a big risk for a lot of money – these planners are pricey!  I don’t even want to decorate it – I don’t get all of those planner layouts.  I don’t really get planning to plan.  But, I feel like I want something bigger to not plan my week, but to record my daily events to help me out with Project Life.  I guess I want to use it like a diary, with minimalistic entries, to jot my stories down as a placeholder for the eventual Project Life pocket.   I do carry around a notebook with morning pages in my Traveler’s Notebook, but when I do remember to write morning pages, I don’t write daily memories, I write things like this blog post – random thoughts.   There’s a Michael’s coupon today for 40% off one item, and there’s a free shipping offer for four hours, between 4-8 today, so today might be the day.  Or not – because I haven’t totally justified it yet.

 

  • State prisons.  Tomorrow, I have to see a client at SCI Graterford, and I started to mull over what my favorite state prison is, and then I stopped myself.  I really shouldn’t have a favorite state prison.  But, if I did – it wouldn’t be Graterford, uch.

And those are my random Monday morning think abouts!  Hope you have more interesting things going on!

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Happy Pi Day

And, that’s enough math for today.  Or any day, for that matter.  At least on this blog.  I know somewhere in the world it’s changing the future, but not here.  Now pie is a different story, but not today’s story.  We’re on diets in this neck of the woods.  Forget that almost all of the below photos involve eating, that’s diet wine there!

Right.

Anyway, I’m just moving right along through 2016.  2015 you say?

I say, look at these completed layouts!

Both of these layouts are 80% Currently Core Kit, 10% Ali Edwards kit for her Project Life Class, and 10% miscellaney – stuff leftover from Studio Calico kits, stickers, labels I cut with my teeny tiny die cutting machine.

And, speaking of Studio Calico, they’re having a huge sale on old kits today – $10 instead of the normal subscription fee (around $26/mo).   Get thee to Studio Calico and spend a multiple of $3.14 – there were go – some math!

With the PL’ing out of the way for the weekend, I was  left to ponder what to do next.  As I mentioned in the last post, I seem to be off the knit.  I was writing an email to my friend Mindy (shout out!), and I remembered, like a bell went off, that I had actually watched the entirety of Danita’s Art Doll class, and after all the anticipation of taking it, and the excitement of snatching it on sale, I went off the dolls, and never made one.  That had to be corrected.  So, I got the doll making supplies out, and got to sewing.

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And then stuffing.  I had a heck of a time with the neck.

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My that little head took a lot of stuffing!

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As you can see, I’m making two – so that when I mess up the first one, I’ll have the second one ready to go.  And, honestly – I’m good with that.  I’ve long ago gotten over the idea, at least with art, that I’m going to immediately get it right the first time.  It all takes practice.  I’ve always been a quick study, and I used to have a nearly photographic memory, so school, and tests, and my job – I’m not going to say I didn’t have to work at things, but I think I started out with less of a learning curve, and I had a shorter road to travel to get to a place of satisfaction.  Art is really hard for me, and I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve accepted that – that I have to draw, erase, draw again, paint over, throw out, start over, whatever it takes.  There’s no rush.  I have no customers, no critics, no deadlines.  What’s the rush?  To post a photo on the blog?   And, at the end of the process, when I call something done, it doesn’t mean that it’s good, it just means that I’m good with it, and that’s all that matters.

So, that’s about as far as I got when Joe came home from his Sunday all day overtime shift, so it was time to have dinner, and watch some t.v.

What to do, what to do, can’t just sit and watch t.v! And, I’m off the knit . . . well, the doll thing worked out, how about some crochet?

Yes, it’s time to revisit ol’ languishing Sophie:

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Olive apparently approves, and has staked her claim!

So, hopefully tonight, I’ll finish stuffing the dolls, and perhaps get to gessoing.  And, if I don’t get to the gesso, tomorrow is another day!

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Playing with the We R Memory Keepers Fuse Tool

As I mentioned on Friday, I got suckered by a half price offer – an offer, apparently, I couldn’t refuse, and even though in my head, I’m walking back the tools, the products, the photos, I bought the We R Memory Keepers Fuse Tool.   For those of you who have never seen this product, the fuse tool is like a wood burner but for plastic – the tip melts the plastic, creating a seal, and ta da – your own pockets, shaker cards, and whatever else your heart dreams of in plastic.  It comes with this flimsy stand, the cattle prod looking thing, a ruler and two tips – a sealer and a cutter.  The cutter apparently seals and cuts at the same time, and I suppose it’s good for cutting out shapes, or pocket tops, but I haven’t had a chance to use it yet.

So, here’s the new guy, all plugged in and ready to go.  The instructions say to let it heat up a good ten minutes, so while I waited, I mulled what I was going to make. Because, the truth is, I don’t really need any custom pockets, or shaker cards, or anything else – but I have it, so I’m going to use it.
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Because I don’t do any traditional scrapbooking, or cardmarking, or anything for which I’d need a sequin, I don’t really have anything to fill a shaker pocket – hadn’t thought of that.  Luckily, I do have this sequin die that I bought a few years ago from Papertrey Ink when I had grandiose dreams of making my own snow globe, shaker card holiday cards.  Didn’t happen.  So, I finally took the die out of the package, and made some sequins.  This die actually fits in the itty bitty machine I talked about on Friday, real name Diamond Press, available only at HSN until June, I think.  I also think itty bitty machine is a better name, but what would I know.

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Sequins made, I put them in a pocket with some acrylic stars and a camera, probably from a Studio Calico kit that I could never figure out what to do with since I don’t make shaker cards, and voila, a shaker pocket!

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As you can see, my seal line isn’t so straight, and it’s a little gloppy.  Basically, you run the tool, which has a roller tip, against the ruler.  Naturally, I went too fast, and went a little rogue, but it worked – it’s sealed.  Unfortunately, once it was done, I didn’t really have any use for it, and I found that one of the other pockets was defective.  No matter, I cut it open, and reused the acrylic embellishments.

Not having any need for any shaker pockets in my current PL week, I went back and found this pre-Fuse insert I made for my parent’s 50th Anniversary Party, because I couldn’t just be done with one pocket that I ended up destroying.

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Definitely sloppy enough to justify a redo.  So, I took a 12 x 12 page, and laid out my candy bar wrapper, and found it was wider than the invitation.  So, I made little pockets on each side to fill with sequins.  Oh yeah, I don’t have any sequins, so I again endeavored to make my own.  This time, I used cards from a frankly crappy Heidi Swapp gold foil filled PL Value Kit, and went to town with my sequin die –

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Glad to use that gold foil for something.  I’m also a sucker for a Michael’s clearance bin sale.

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Yep, so much better than the original, washi tape engineered original insert.  As you can see above, I did miss a little spot with the roller tip right above the word anniversary on the chocolate bar wrapper, but after I took the photo I spotted it, and fixed it.  One thing I learned is that if you can use the ruler that came with the kit, you should.  While it’s short, and doesn’t stretch across a 12 x 12 page, it is heavy, and does a good job of pressing down whatever is inside your pocket, ensuring that you have plastic pressed to plastic – because if there’s even a little air in between, and the pages aren’t touching, you aren’t going to be able to melt them together.

Here’s a closer look at the seal –

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And, here it is in the album:

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Had I been thinking, instead of just gleefully melting full steam ahead, I would have thought of the other side of the insert.  The invitation has a nice pattern on the other side, so that’s ok, but the other side of the candy bar is upside down – I probably would have cut the wrapper, and turned the other side around, but eh, whatever.

Feeling like a super fuse expert, I then went back to April 2014, and made this insert for my niece’s birth announcement:

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Now, even though my 2014 album is finished through July, I hadn’t included this back in April because my sister-in-law sent them out probably in June, and I was long done with April.  But, I had it saved in a box of stuff anyway, so now seemed like a good time to make an insert – I have a new tool to play with dammit!  So, again, I started with a 12 x 12 page protector.  I fused along the side of the invite first, cut off the excess, filled the bottom with stuff, and then fused a line across.  The first time I made this pocket – yep, first time fail – I made the line way too high – and I thought, no matter, so the top shaker will be narrower, no biggie.  But, the problem was that I hadn’t really put enough stuff in the pocket, and it turned out really top heavy.  So, I tried to poke a hole in the bottom of the pocket with a craft knife, so that I could shove some more stuff in, but I ripped the whole thing open and had to start again.  Oh well.

And, if you’re wondering where I got all of those sequins and baby like die cuts, when I just finished saying I don’t really have anything like that in my stash – well, those little “goodies” came in the birth announcement.  And, since I didn’t know they were loose, just shoved in the bottom of the envelope, when I pulled out the announcement – Bam! They went flying in my face, on the hall table, on the floor, everywhere.  WHO DOES THAT!!!!!  It’s not a party in an envelope – it’s a mess in my foyer! Cardmaking friends – please never do that.  It was such a mess.  I was finding random sequins in my foyer for months.  Shaker cards, cardmaking friends, not loose in the envelope.  I know none of you do that, anyway.  Because no one would do that, except for  . . .

Ehem.

Anyway, after playing with the Fuse for a few hours, here are my thoughts:

  • I can see myself using this tool a lot for inserts, and very infrequently for making actually shaker pockets on the Design A page.  Since I try to keep up, week to week, I don’t think I want to commit to how the pocket will be used in the next week – what if I NEED that space!
  • While I am trying to be more selective with my photos, I will definitely use this tool for making pocket flaps to add more photos, or perhaps to add an interactive element to hide journaling, or something like that.
  • As for the tool itself – it’s easy peasy to use – plug it in and it’s ready to go in about 10 minutes.   Forget about the stand though, and get yourself a ceramic mug, then you don’t have to worry about it flopping around and burning yourself.  And, instead of a glass mat to protect your surface, I have a ceramic tile that I bought at Home Deport for about $5 when I was going through a soldering phase.  Works great!

So, if you’re thinking about buying this product – don’t pay full price.  I don’t think it’s necessarily worth $30 – I paid $15 plus shipping.   Use a Michael’s coupon, or get the bundle at HSN – for $15 over the retail price, you get a ton of stuff – plastic sleeves for waterfall pages, the extra fancy tips, fusible paper!  This clearance price is a steal, and I wish I had seen it first.  Drat.  And, even though I bought the itty bitty machine on HSN (I am a total sucker for the show stopper on Craft Day!), I don’t work for HSN or anything like that – no monetizing on this blog with ye ol’ 11 subscribers.  I just think it’s a good deal, and I’m always happy to enable -er share!

And, I guess if I ever get tired of making pockets with it, I could always use it instead of my foodsaver machine.  Happy melting everyone!

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Project Life Redux

Yesterday, I referred to ye ol’ blog as a patiently waiting home for my stories. I’ve been thinking about stories a lot lately, the who, what, where, when, why and how of them, because I’m just finishing up Ali Edwards’ class, Storytelling with Project Life. Ali’s basic philosophy is fill your pockets, create homes for your stories, tell your stories. Simple, right?

But, what about when your stories are hard, like your father died, your parent/child roles are reversing, your niece has reached teenage, dark and grumpy years? I can’t really blame hard times on my Project Life stalling out – I blame that on excess, but I’ll get to that in a second – but I can blame it for my lack of motivation for starting it up again – who wants to slog through those “good times” again? But, surprisingly enough, Joe was really insistent that I resume documenting our lives, and finding homes, in his mind, for our photographs, and in turn, their stories.

So, at the end of last year, I signed up for Ali’s class, and started going back through my two completed albums, and the half started year, to see what worked, what didn’t, what went wrong. This turned out to be the first week of the class, as well, so I already had a bit of a head start. I found some interesting things. First, having a gazillion photographs and trying to use them all was a real stumbling block for me. I look back on some of my digital layouts, where I had full control over the number and size of pockets, and I’m overwhelmed – why did I use so my photos? Would it have been so terrible to just pick the best one? For instance, at my niece’s birthday party a few years ago, I took a series of photos with Danielle and my parents, and used a collage in a 4 x 6 pocket. The photos are pretty tiny, and two of them are just eh photos – why didn’t I just pick the best one? I look at the mini photo of Danielle and my Dad, and wish it were bigger, wish my hard drive hadn’t crashed, and I could just redo it. The one perfect photo is completely diminished the collage. And, to really put an exclamation point on the idea that too many photos is too many, the last full spread I did in my half complete album was our week long beach vacation, which is spread out over four pages! Too much. Step one, simplify my photo process.

Next, I compared the completed digital album to the completed paper album. There were things about both I liked, but the bottom line was I liked the simplicity of Design A of the Becky Higgin’s line of Project Life products, and I liked the physical process of putting things into pockets. However, on the other hand, I liked the look of typed journal cards so much better than my own handwriting. So, if I liked the paper based version better, what was the problem? Stuff, that was the problem – too much stuff, the need to use all of the tools and products I had purchased. And, it was really a pain in the neck to use my Silhouette. We have no room on the desk in the computer room, and the machine lives in its box. When I want to use it, I have to take it out of the box, hook it up, etc. and there really isn’t a very good space for it even when it’s in action. And, what did I really need it for anyway? When I look back at the pages that had Silhouette cut embellishments, that at the time I thought were just brilliant, I don’t even like them. It had all become just too complicated. And, I think the final straw was the Letterpress platform for my Evolution machine. What was I thinking? I was thinking it would be fun – but it so wasn’t – messy, messy, messy, and zero fun, and not such great results. Big fat fail.

And for whatever reason, at that point, I just wasn’t able to walk it back – wasn’t able to trim back the photos, abandon the embellishments and the machinery. I guess Ali gave me permission to do that – put the card in the pocket, tell you story, call it done, and whatever else is icing.

And, that’s what I did.

But . . . everyone has to have some product, right? So, I pretty much put away all of my previous core kits, and in the first few weeks of the year, I tried a hybrid thing, with The Lilypad’s Monthly Pocket kit, and typing my journal cards. I quickly abandoned that — not simple enough, and I was guzzling printer ink, and I bought One Little Bird’s new Project Life Core Kit, Currently , and for the most part, that’s what I’m using. Here and there, I’ve got an old Studio Calico card from my kit club days, and I do like MAMBI stickers, and photo overlays, and I’ve learned to live with my handwriting. Oh, and I buy this teeny die cutting machine from HSN.

Cute, right? And, it’s so much easier than hauling out the Silhouette – and it’s really all that I need – labels, arrows, tags.  It sits right next to me on my work space, I put the little dies in a small plastic folder, crank the handle, and done!  And, so everything kind of matches, for paper I use journal cards from the Core Kit.  There are so many doubles, its so not a waste.

So, here’s where I am – caught up!  Well, at least as far as this year is concerned.  I am planning on going back and filling in – I suppose, but I’m keeping current, and I think that’s a big thing.

This first month or so, like I said, I was experimenting with a hybrid system, but it was a hassle.  And, I know at this point, if it becomes a hassle, I’ll quit.  Better to simplify than have nothing.

As you can see, things started to go bad the third week, with the car accident, anniversary of my father’s death, etc.  Oh, and look at poor Olive with her hood – she was chasing her ball and ran into the door of the t.v cabinet, cutting herself right under her eye.    But, strangely, writing my way through it was a good thing – I think it would be harder to go back and revisit this period rather than just living in the moment, and moving forward.

And by February, my hybrid experiment was over.  The above two weeks are the Currently core kit, some stamps, some tags I cut with the itty bitty die cut machine, and a few stickers.  Easy peasy.


And, ta da – just like that, I’m current!  This last week I used the kit that Ali Edward’s put together for the class – journal cards, chipboard stars, wood veneer labels, some tags and frames.

It’s all very scrappy, and it’s working for me. And, it’s done. I’m not making art, I’m just making a record.

And speaking of records, Ali talks about putting longer stories in Project Life, and she creates 8 x 12 inserts, mostly using her photo/story templates. For me, there’s some journaling, some longer stories that I don’t need other people reading when they’re flipping through my books. So, what I do is put a card behind the photo. The original Project Life core kits came with these tabbed cards, they were 4 x 6, scored so you could fold them in thirds, and tabbed on top. I’ve run out of them, and I can’t seem to find them anywhere, from any product company. So, I’m just cutting tabs with my itty bitty machine, taping them to the top of a 4 x 6 card, and slipping them in behind the photo.  You can see on in the upper right corner behind the photo of Joe and I.

 

And for my next trick – the fuse tool! Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to be walking it back, but it was on SALE. I mean a really good SALE. But, when I got it, the sale wasn’t as nearly as good as the bundle that’s on HSN now. If I had any local scrappy friends, I would total give them the one I bought, and buy the bundle, but unfortunately, I have no scrappy friends. The paper is fusible people! How cool is that!
 
Anyway, I’ll let you know how my fuse experiment goes. I can’t imagine using it very often. Every once in awhile I like to add a flap to card, and I guess I could experiment with some shaker pockets. We’ll see.

Have a great weekend!

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