A Different Sort of December Daily

In The Studio

Have you ever heard of the December Daily album? A page-a-day scrapbook for the month of December that usually exists to document all the wonderful, Normal Rockwell-esque moments lovingly captured during the holiday season.

But how much of that is really real? How much of what we put in scrapbooks, Facebook updates, and family photos is the full story? How true is the picture we paint for others, the picture we try to buy into ourselves?

That’s the sort of question some friends posed a couple months ago, while proposing that we all take a hard look at the hectic days of a real December and scrap that, the good, the bad, and the hilarious. The ring leaders have been offering up prompts for each day, for those who are looking for inspiration, in the Jingle Hells facebook group. I’ve made it through the first week of pages and so far haven’t needed the prompts, but I did want to share what I’d done so far, as a counterpoint to those saccharine-sweet albums that might be showing up on blogs around the web.









No surprise I choose a digital approach to the album, both to keep it easy as well as keep it quick. For continuity’s sake I opted to use a common background from the Brittish Designs/Sahlin Studio Project Mouse (Days): Cards kit. They were intended to be used in a Pocket-Style album for things like counting down to vacation but I thought they were just too perfect for a project like this. In paper scrapbooking it’s a royal pain to have the black, chalkboard-style cards to journal on but digital makes it a snap.

I kept the rest of the elements simple, using mostly fonts to dress up the page, a few choice elements, and the odd Alpha or two. Physically, these pages would only be 6″x4″, so if I get the urge to print them I could put them 6-up on a 12″ sheet, making putting this into an actual album super-simple, or maybe one of the mini albums that every photo printer offers this time of year for cheap. I see now that I switched tense after Day 2, but I’m not going to lose sleep over that. It’s all a part of keeping it real, I guess!

Have you thought about what you’re life looks like in status updates and picture-perfect moments?
How often do you preserve the other side of the story?



Harvest Fruit Digital Scrapbook mini-kit preview

Using What You’ve Got

64 Arts, Everyday Adventures

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been working on digital scrapbook pages again. That’s still true, and–based on my experience as a part of the Gauche Alchemy team (which I will be continuing for the foreseeable future, I love working with them!)–have been wanting to find a spot on a digital design/creative team. This means I’ve been submitting applications and had to put up a gallery of my pages so the team leaders could take a look at my work.

That last part had proved the biggest pain  in my ass. I’ve tried numerous plugins only to have one not allow multiple galleries on a single page, another that I tried had a nasty habit of hijacking ANY images I uploaded to this blog the next time I’d go to upload a layout (so if you ever came here and saw a lot of broken image links over the last month, that was why), meaning I had to re-upload and remap each and every picture in the affected posts. And y’all know how many pictures some of my posts use. So I kept looking for a better plugin. A better addition to this blog.

Turns out, WordPress has a native gallery feature that does pretty much what I need without bloating the install with any more plugins. I just didn’t know it.

Sure, I had to do some minor code tweaks to get everything the way I wanted it, but I’ve become good at reverse engineering WP themes, so it wasn’t the end of the world. And I still have to re-upload, tag, and credit a couple dozen layouts before it’s all said and done, but that’s minor.

In the end, I will have just the gallery that I want without having someone else’s programming to deal with, update, or rely on.

Now, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China? Or our day-to-day creative spirit?

How many times have you put off that fun idea because you didn’t have just the right type of paper/fabric/bead? How much money have you spent on specialty tools when the basic ones, with a little ingenuity would have done fine? How many times do we get hung up on the what and forget the why?

If you’re anything like me–and I’ll bet we have a lot in common–you’re nodding your head to those questions. You’ve been there. We all have.

Living creatively isn’t just about following a set of directions to make the same crafts and tchotchkes that everyone else has. It’s about taking an idea and running with it in our own direction. Sure, sometimes you want to do exactly what they did, because you like their end result, but we always put our own mark on our projects because we’re human beings, not crafting robots.

So have some fun with it–whether that IT is a craft project, a meal, or just getting from point A to point B.

And don’t get hung up on the details.

(Except when the details are important, of course. Things like your safety, meeting obligations, and stuff like that are details totally worth getting hung up on!)

Now, if any of you have been curious about digital scrapbooking and wanting to try your hands at it, I’ve put together a little mini-kit perfect for October that I’m going to share with you: for free!

Harvest Fruit Digital Scrapbook mini-kit preview

I actually started this kit a few years ago, and I used it to make the invitations for that year’s BYOP party (which was the year of the Halloween brunch, hence the fruit images), but never got around to finishing it or sharing it. Now that it’s done, it’ll be available for download until October 31st or 500 downloads, whichever comes first. (And if, by some strange luck, we hit those 500 downloads really early in the month, I’ll put up a secondary link.)

The mini-kit includes 6 papers, 4 fruit images, 2 tags, a piece of organza-style ribbon, and a twine bow. All images are 300 dpi, the papers are jpeg files and the embellishments are png files with transparent backgrounds. Drop-shadows are on the previews, only. Enjoy!

[button link=”https://www.yousendit.com/directDownload?phi_action=app/directDownload&fl=SWhZekZqY1NvQnMxZW9LSFJsRHVnVE9yZWt5UmdteDRsUjJuWENHRzVZbz0&experience=bas” color=”#b00″ size=”3″ style=”3″ dark=”1″ square=”1″ ] Download [/button]

"Queen Bee" digital art journal layout

In Defense of Digital

Everyday Adventures

I have a confession to make, my friends: I’ve been slacking.

Not on the must-do stuff. No calling in “sick” to work or skipping blog updates, nothing like that. But my personal to-do list, the one that usually governs my evenings and weekends (especially the weekends) has seen a bit of a shake-up the past few weeks as I’ve renewed an old hobby.

Renewed maybe isn’t the best word, maybe re-obsessed?

Contrary to what many people assume, scrapsoflife.com was not named for my scrapbooking interests, that just happened to be a coincidence, really. But I was a rather avid scrapbooker back in 2003 (technically since the late-90s, and before that if you count the “old fashioned” journal-with-pressed-flowers-and-other-mementos-inside days–you know, before certain companies made it the largest segment of paper crafting ever), amassing quite the collection of tools, supplies, and techniques. Then, in 2007, I picked up a freelance writing gig and a lot of my extra interests took a backseat (unless I could write an article about it, of course).

Over the last 5 years I haven’t done much memory-keeping of the album-and-paper sort. I always intended to get back to it, but never quite got there. A couple years ago I had a brief relapse, but then I got to work on the cookbook and, again, other things took a backseat.

Until 2 weeks ago, when a newsletter from Divine Digital announced a week-long art journal challenge, and I was more than intrigued.

Because that’s the other confession: what little scrapbooking I have been doing in the past 5 years has been digital.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still love paper crafting and traditional scrapbooking. I still have scads of supplies I will use up, eventually, but any busy scrapper will tell you that it’s tough to sit down and get a page done when you’ve only got a few minutes here and there, everything takes up space and little things can get lost, and then you run out of adhesive or can’t find a ribbon to match just that right shade of blue to keep from clashing…

But with digital, a lot of those obstacles fall away. If you’ve never considered digital scrapbooking, think about this:

  • All our pictures are digital these days. Obviously we still have printed photos and memorabilia that could stand organization, but these days most cameras are digital, and scrapbooking digitally means you don’t have to worry about which photos to print and at what size. You size them on the fly in whatever program you’re using and keep on creating.
  • Digital scrapbook supplies are super-portable. I can’t even count the number of times I loaded up a craft tote (or 2) to go to a friends house for a crop. And out of town weekend retreats took a trunk-full! Even when I moved from totes to specialty organizers with handles and rollers and started pre-kitting my photos to make crops more productive, there were still bags and whellies and oh so much stuff to bring. Now? All I need is my laptop.
  • No hoarding that one perfect paper. Digital scrapbook supplies don’t get used up. I know so many crafters who hold onto a piece of paper because it’s so pretty, they don’t want to cut it up and use it because it’s discontinued or might be hard to find again. You buy an awesome digital paper set and you can use it over and over and over again. Same with embellishments, templates, everything! You buy it, you own it.
  • No more searching for just the right shade. Another perk of digital supplies is if this embellishment and that paper aren’t quite right for each other, you tweak the color or hue or contrast to make it match.
  • Freebies galore! Many digi-scrap websites offer freebies on a regular basis, so you can start to build your collection of supplies with very little risk. My 2 go-to sites fall into this category: Scrap Girls puts out a newsletter 6 days a week and there’s some sort of freebie download available every day. Divine Digital, on the other hand, puts out 2 free digi-kits a month, downloadable in daily chunks (you do have to be a registered member of their site, but that’s hardly a down-side since membership is free). Plus you can usually find out what other designers are offering extra downloads if you pay attention to digi-scrap forums.
  • Much less mess. When you’re having to search, pull out, layout, and fiddle you need space and room to get a little messy. Yes, that’s part of the fun, but it can also be frustrating if you craft in a high-traffic area of your home and have to pick everything up to clear the table, etc. Again, just fire up your computer and load your files and you’re on your way to layouts in no time.

Of course, it does help to have good tech at your fingertips. For a while I was keeping my digital crafting supplies on an external harddrive to keep from using up my computer’s harddrive–the files do take up a certain amount of space. But when I got my new laptop last month (with its Terabyte drive), I was able to copy all those files over (redundancy!) as well as download a whole bunch of new files without making a dent in my harddrive’s capacity.

Which program you use is also a factor. I actually learned how to digi-scrap in PhotoShop Elements 3.0 (hint: the current version is 10). It was a series of tutorials from ScrapGirls that showed me how to use the program, and I was able to use that knowledge when I upgraded to PhotoShop CS4 a while back (only because I needed CMYK capabilities, something the consumer-grade PSE doesn’t support). You can download a 30-day trial of any Adobe product to see what you think about it, plus there are a lot more digital scrapbook program options than back when I started (when it was either the aforementioned PSE or Paint Shop Pro!). Heck, you can even digi-scrap in Paint if you really had to (maybe I’ll tell that store/share that layout one day… maybe).

Anyway, back to the point, I signed up for the Art Journal challenge and did my best to keep up with a digital layout a day. It was great getting back into the swing of things, and I’ve since picked up an old album I was working on back in 2007 and completed another 4 pages for on Saturday. I decided I’d share the 7 art journal pages I completed as part of the challenge, today.

"Inner Circle" digital art journal layout

"Super Hero" digital art journal layout

"Inspired Eye" digital art journal layout

"Take Flight" digital art journal layout

"In Joy" digital art journal layout

"Laugh out Loud" digital art journal layout

"Queen Bee" digital art journal layout

Each day’s challenge came with a piece of word art, a theme, some questions to ponder, and then some specific components to include in the layout. Since this was an art journal challenge, for all but the last layout pictures were optional. My goal was more to refresh my memory of how to construct the layouts, how to use the tools available to me, and find out what’s new in the world of digital scrapbooking. I must have done okay, since Day 7 (my Queen Bee or “accomplished” layout) was picked as Member Layout of the Day. Not to shabby for one seriously out of practice scrapper, no?

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep up with scrapbooking this go-round, before something else demands my full attention and it sits and waits again. I’m hoping for a good, long stretch, but I’ll ride this wave of creativity as long as I can.

What have you been getting your hands and heart into, lately? Revive any past passions over the holiday weekend? Or do you have any questions about digital scrapbooking that I might be able to answer?