January 25, 2016

NEW in the Shoppe | YOUR SELFIE

I wrote about my shameless love of selfies in an earlier post and hope it inspired you to squish up close to a few of your favorite people and get in the shot! This love spilled onto the drawing board and help me create this fun design,  YOUR SELFIE.  I packed it full of bright happy colors, sketched cameras and frames and meaningful wort art!

Fun- right?!  You can see more layouts made with this design here at the Lilypad or here on the Pinboard packed with #joycreated (almost 1,000 layouts!) using ForeverJoy designs! 

January 22, 2016

SELFIE love is not a sin

It never fails. Whenever I turn my camera over to a member of my family, somehow they manage to capture and exaggerate the most  unbecoming sides of me. My husband will take a photo pointing down, adding about 20 pounds to my hips, my little guy will look up at me- adding 2 chins to my face and my big guy will horse around so long that by the time he snaps a photo, my brows are furrowed and my mouth is open in a manner becoming a sea bass as I yell, "will you just take it already".

And so, once I became an owner of a decent camera phone, I became to take matters in my own hands and take photos of myself. Well, not really of myself- mostly of myself and the the people I am with. Us-ies. I have been advised however, time and again by my children that is not a word. So, we will leave it at selfie. At first, I was hesitant because the boys would gasp in horror- "Not a selfie Mom! Please! That's sooo embarrassing!" as I would grab them close and stick out my arm. And I wondered, is it? Is it vain? Is it too self absorbed? But then, I figured a moment of embarrassing them was worth the life time of memories the resulting photo would give me. (The moment of embarrassing them was pretty cool too!) And I kind of liked being in the shot- I am an important part of the story- and I always feel like something is missing when I am not in the photos. 

The boys declared this was the lamest thing ever- but I'm glad I ignored their advice. I love this series of shots of us together! #mamaknowsbest
I also like the fact that these photos are never really perfect. They are a little askew, always full of emotion and always involve getting real close. I have also found that the more I take them, the more I wear the boys down. The frequency has made them  become the new norm. The frequency of taking them coupled with my purchase of a selfie stick, which I threaten to whip out if they don't just get over here and show mama some love already. 

Doing a few photo journal projects has led me to take some timed self portraits- and I have to say, taking those coupled with the journaling has become one of my favorite new tricks I added to my scrapbook last year. Here's a layout I made when doing a project for an Ali Edwards class I took- where we told stories of our daily AM and PM. I set the camera up by the coffee pot and snapped a few photos on timer. It's not pretty- but it's real.  And it's a real portrayal of how my boys see me on the average school morning. I hope that this will bring back some great memories and a few laughs when they look back on this layout years from now. I wish I had photos of my school mornings when I was little. I remember them well, but sometimes its hard to remember what my mom looked like-

That's why selfies can be a good thing. They get us in the story. They help keep things real. That's a great foundation for good story telling! Here are a few selfies I took with the boys last year- even without telling you the stories beyond each photo- the expressions in each one are spontaneous and I think give you a great idea of what was going on.  You can also see how the big guy still wont look directly into the selfie- the little guy is still yo young to not give a full on smile. It's all good because that's part of the story too. 

My one word of caution is that I think its really important to always get a few photos of the whole story as well when you are documenting a day. The full outfits of at least a few people even if you cant get in the shot, and the location.  How cool is it to look back on photos from years gone by and see that ugly couch, that cool car, those leg warmers and the skyline that has since changed? I wouldn't want an album full of only selfies, but I think they add a great and well needed dimension to our albums.  I recently designed a page kit to celebrate my love of selfies, called, what else- but Your Selfie. The creative team is playing with it this weekend- and I will share their layouts with you a little later.

For now, consider this permission to take a few photos of yourself. (A while back, I wrote a post that had a great video explaining why we never really like photos of ourselves- you can check it out here.) Have fun and don't take it all too seriously- life's to short to wait for someone else to take a photo of you!

January 17, 2016

Digiscrap Tutorial | Layering Up Leaves

Hello Everyone! This is Jenn, aka jk703, here to she some scrapping tidbits on this warm January. It's an odd January here, actually, an odd winter! We've got 60 degree weather and plants are starting to grow! I think Mother Nature wants a vacation!

Today, I'm going to focus on leaves and a simple tip that might bring more oomph to your flowers clusters than you thought! This is also not my strongest skill in Photoshop, but if I can make it simple, and show you one easy way... then you can give it a whirl too!

Here is my page - I've used Forever Joy Blessings Kit (so gorgeous) and New Years templates from new designer at TLP, Scrapping with Liz.

When adding a flower to my pages, I always look for foliage to layer underneath them. This gives them a little more space, and sometimes a more focused focal point for one of my little clusters. I love bigger flowers, too! Here is my page, using a flower and a set of leaves found in the Blessings kit. 

While the flower is there, it feels sort of empty and a little bare. Having a larger element within your cluster. I also tend to use different sized elements when making a cluster. You can scrap any way you'd like, but adding different sizes, textures, and kinds of elements adds more to your layout. One set of leaves are on this layout:

January 1, 2016

NEW in the Shoppe | CIN CIN

Happy New Year! I'd like to say I'm raising a toast of bubble champagne as I wish you all the best for 2016, but in truth, it's a big mug of mocha latte this Jan 1 morning! 

January is one of my favorite times to catch up on holiday scrapping, especially with the Month of Challenges happening over at the Lilypad (awesome inspiration there!)  When looking at my scrap stash, I realized I needed a sparkly, shimmery kit to toast the memories of parties and celebrations we enjoyed over the past year! So, I hit the drawing board and  created this fun design!

I've added some fun twists to this paper pack- sequins, glitter, sparkle and photo realistic designs! 
Of course it works well with new years memories- but I wanted to be sure it would compliment year long celebrations as well- so you can be sure whatever you are toasting this year, CIN CIN will go perfectly with it!  CIN CIN is part of the January BYOC at the Lilypad, and you can purchase each piece separately. But- as always, I've made a secret link for you to access early at a little extra savings this weekend. Just click here and you can purchase the pretties and papers together at  30% off this weekend.  Please note that this savings can not be combined with the BYOC Buy More-Save More offer. 

December 10, 2015

Slowing down Christmastime

Here we are, just into the second week of December and I am fighting to hold on to my Christmas spirit. Santa still visits our home and I credit that magic and the general joy of my boys with keeping my holiday spirit compass in true north. It's just that it seemed the moment the last slice of pie was served on Thanksgiving, I was already behind on all things Christmas. How did this happen?

As a child I can remember that the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like a magical forever that yawned with days full of happily endless little events leading up to the big day! Now, those few weeks seem like but a blink. One of my main focuses during this time is to really slow things down for my kids. Creating those little holiday joys during these December days, and getting the boys to focus on them. It's one of the reasons I enjoy doing the Ali Edwards December Daily project so much. It spotlights the little moments of our Holidays. Slowing these down and highlighting the little things is one way I get to make this a season for our family. And seriously, it's one of the few things that keep me grounded in the true spirit of the Holiday. Simple smiles with my boys, creating the magic for them, special time with my family during a season we thank God for his love and blessings and celebrate all the good He has brought into this world. Heavens knows we need to celebrate the good these days. 

I wanted to share with you one of my happy Christmas memories growing up in downtown Brooklyn. Shopping with my Mom and sister and Grandma the day after Thanksgiving at Abraham and Strauss. I guess you could call it Black Friday shopping, but we didn't know it as that. All we knew was that was the day all the stores decorated for the holidays. Not a moment before. Overnight, lights were hung in streets, store windows were dressed and it was officially "Christmastime"!
Inside A&S,  huge tree hung from the ceiling of the first floor right by the elevator banks that were operated by white gloved gentlemen in elegant uniforms. I can still remember the awe of looking up into the glittering pine, filled with ornaments and lights and toys waiting for the elevator to come. Christmas music played over the speakers and even though there were crowds, we all seemed to be happy. Everyone would look up into that tree as they passed. It was magic. Then ding! The elevators doors would open and the operator would welcome us in.  

Once inside, the operators would greet us with a smile and work a huge dial of sorts to open and close the doors.  This day they didnt have to ask what foor we were going to. Seeing my sister and I they knew that we were headed to the 8th floor, of course.  That was Santa's workshop! Once we got to our floor, the doors would open to a long line and there were displays and tinsel and cotton snow everywhere as we waited patiently between the red velvet ropes to see Santa himself. 

Next stop was a little shopping for presents and holiday clothes followed by lunch in the Garden Room.  It was a place where ladies lunched and kids fidgeted- not much fun to be had there and proper manners were strictly enforced. 

Finally, lunch would be over and we would take the escalators down to the first floor followed by a loud clackity wooded escalator to the basement, where we would be treated to a bag of Bridge Mix to share on the way home! Now, if you boil this all down, it was a day at a store. But, I promise you, there is nothing commercial about my memories of that day.  I recall the magic, the anticipation, the hand holding, the music, the sights and glitter and excitement of it all and oh! the sweet crunch of those candies.  But maybe, my Mom remembers it differently. Maybe she remembers the gift list that seemed longer than out paycheck, the tiredness she felt after working a full week, the crowds and the fact the Christmas seemed to be coming all too quickly.  

After writing this, I've come to realize something. Maybe the fact that time has been rushing for me is because now I am the curator of the Holidays. I like that thought.  I can keep pace with this time clock when I focus on the fact that the kids are unaware of the checklists and budgeting that goes on behind the scenes, as they should be- and the end result are memories of everydays in December that were magical because I kept the pace with a smile.

Yep. I like that way of thinking.

December 1, 2015

VIDEO | Project Life: Making it easier to pick a card, any card

This weekend, as November was coming to a close,  I made it a point to get caught up on my Project Life pages. The days after Thanksgiving were a perfect escape- especially since I was determined not to step foot into a real life Black Friday shop. I was perfectly happy clicking around on line for a little bit- and then, with messy bun and comfy clothes, getting lost in some scrap time. 

With 9 months down, my Project Life Album is full of enough pages to make me really see how awesome this style of memory keeping is- and it's the first year I have stuck with it for so long. I love flipping through the pages and cant help but wonder how many of these little stories would have gotten lost if I had only confined my storytelling to a 12x12 canvas. To make sure I stick with it,  I have been very mindful to pinpoint what doesn't work for me in the process, and adjust my work flow to make it all come together easier. I've written a few posts about my process so far, and a few tricks and tips I have learned, you can check them out here if you'd like. 

One of the things that always seems to be a road block for me though, is not selecting photos or writing my journaling, it's been choosing my cards. I few months back, I wrote a post about how I broke up my kit supplies by color. Organizing supplies by color has been a terrific tool for me- it makes pulling a page together so much easier! But- I'll tell you where it fell a little short.  Let's say I am doing a page about a recent Autumn hike. Now- I know I have a card that has a fall tree on it- but I don't know what color it is- how am I going to find it? Or maybe it's a photo of pumpkin latter -I'd like to highlight. I know I have a coffee cup card. And- I can let that go.  I will easily spend 10 minutes looking for those darn special cards. And that's not really fun.  So, I tried to figure out how to smooth that speed bump a little.

I took a deep breath- and dove into my card box one more time. This time, I broke my cards up into categories that made sense to the stories I tell. Then, I sub-grouped these cards by color. Honestly- it took all of 20 minutes- and it gave me a really clear picture of the cards I have a million of, and those categories that are a little lean. Since you don't know what you need until you know what you have, I have to say, this was a terrific exercise on more than one level!  Here's a look at my final break down:

The front cards have no label- they are the super special ones that I can not bear to part with right now! I guess I could have created a able called "hoarding" for them! 
Here's a video with a closer look in each of the categories: 

After breaking the cards up like this, I was able to do 2 months of layouts in one morning! (about 6 pages in 2 hours!) Look, there's no getting around the fact that putting together stories like this will always be a "project" in some ways- but it doesn't need to be a chore. Work smarter- not harder by identifying your speed bumps and then figure out a way to make them smoother!

How about you? I'd love to hear about what jams you up or slows you down- and how you've worked around it ;)