Wednesday, December 30, 2015

App Happy

Well friends, Christmas has come and gone in what seemed like a flurry of preparations, sparkley lights, gift wrap and holiday outings. What's left is really fabulous: lot's of beautiful memories, telling photos, and well, gift wrappings. Oh, let's not forget the tunes still being joyously caroled about, and those Christmas cards!
This weekend I managed to devote some time to cleaning up my current albums. Current, meaning, these are the albums I'm currently still filling in with printed pictures and pretty papers. I always have two albums going; my most recently semi completed, and one that is current to the actual date and season.  There are lot's of unfinished pages in albums I started prior to the beginning of fall, but these two are the one's I'm focusing my attention on. This week at least :-)
So what does album clean up look like? Alas, I have no video, but I couldn't promise that if there were one, it would be very entertaining! Basically, I start with a stack of photos. Strike that, first I thumb through my album and try to put myself back in time a few months to remember the feeling of those days and some of the stories I'd intended to tell.
I've been hoarding our children's artwork as long as they've been making it and have started including some choice pieces within our family albums in clear plastic sleeves. There are gingerbread men drawings from school, fall leave wreaths, and then for our most recent pages, colored reindeer, snowmen, and holly berry clusters.  Slipping those in, where they seem to fit, ended up being a big part of what I accomplished too.
 With my photo stack, I go through the pages already created and slip extras in behind completed layouts. I can always add pages later, but I will not allow unused photos to hold me back (or taunt me by being on show). If there are empty spaces, I look for a large paper background that fits the feel of the photos, and put that in the sleeve too. Sometimes, I even go looking for the memorabilia I know I have lying around...somewhere.... okay, I'll go back for that later too.
There are times when I find I have all the necessary items for a page within an album sleeve. And so I stick it all together and call it done! And it doesn't always look "perfect"- so I turn the page and move on! Cause I'm in production mode, people! My glue is flexible, too if I need to go back and revisit that mess.
I was having such a good time scrappin, I hardly noticed that my few hours were up, and when I showed honey what I'd been up to, he commented, you did all that? Just now? and gave me the look... the one that says both, How did I get such a talented woman to document our lives, and How did you just spend 3 hours playing with paper? I had jazzed up 5 pocket page spreads, finished/completed 3 12x12 single pages, and even created three more from thin air. Thin air being comprised of tiny plant fibers. I used supplies I'd obtained at the Creating Keepsakes Convention last month. I didn't overthink or over embellish because I didn't want to travel the 25 feet to my craft room haha.
Best of all, I was having a really good time... like, unwrapping Christmas presents good time. Oh who am I kidding, it was like the WRAPPING presents time- I love the thrill of anticipating, what will they think of this?! so much more than, oh, that didn't go over well.
When my album is looking finished (to the untrained eye), I look for any more of those empty sleeve spaces. Our books almost always start right in with photos as opposed to a title page of any sort, but there are a few that have one, and this fall album I worked on ended up with a fun opening page. It's so simple, and lovely, and a great reminder, that all those things I have in the craft room do not have to go onto one page. There is one sheet of 12x12, one sheet cut down to 5x12, and a chipboard title that reads, Celebrate Together and a matching chipboard banner in the corner.

Some simple photo editing
courtesy of my Samsung Note3
 I love the way it looks so much, I went a little app-happy and filtered it to this sepia image. Now this pretty background has an extended viewing platform: my phone's lock screen! Next time you have a page you love and want to show it off, upload it as you facebook cover image- you may have to play a little bit to get your details on show, but any play is good play when its a scrappy -appy- day!
Now I want to know, friends, how do you transition from the happy holidays to the New Year and all the promise of that date change? Are there photos involved? Pretty papers (please say some sparkle)? Would you rather pull the blanket over your head an hibernate until the flowers bloom? I want to know, comment below~

Thursday, December 10, 2015

What to do with those Christmas cards!?

Our classes at the local youth hang out, Key Center's Red Barn, are always a lot of fun! There were four girls who sat down with me and my two assistant crafters to repurpose old greeting cards into new ones. Boy, did they ever create a ton of cards. They really seemed to enjoy the creative process and listened attentively to the tips and techniques presented while we brainstormed from card to card. I would have liked to involve more kids but there was a lot going on; at the Red Barn, kids can play foosball, ping pong, billiards, basketball,  just sit and chill with their friends, or, get involved with a cool art project.  
The project was to use old greeting cards to make new ones. We used a manual due cut machine (gifted early to me by Ray- my very own Big Shot) which they thought was pretty cool. Also, used a new product gifted from the generous folks at Queen & Co.:  tensile -not tinsel- string to make Christmas light strands. Lots of Bling being used! And, as always a delight to give permission to play with product with abandon.
Along with the tensile string, all of the glue, stick on rhinestones etc was donated last month by Queen & Co. What a blessing, huh?  The greeting cards were donated in part by our own Key Center librarian, Dorothy, and another local photographer in Gig Harbor, Nina Barcott. Cardstock was supplied by Two Water's Art Alliance.
Another tool we used which was a big hit was the Wink of Stella pen. This is a brush tipped bottle of glitter water. It's amazing lol. We also added some vintage to our cards by distressing with chalk ink pads.
With all the fun we were having, and the big pile of Christmas cards being created, I wondered, who would the girls give these beautiful new cards to for the Holiday Greetings.... It really was neat that almost all the cards made were donated for Red Barn's managing director, Laura to use as thank you's ♡
Next week we will use the tensile string and the greeting cards to make ornaments... I have green glitter paperclips to use for hanging - maybe we will even string them about the Red Barn?!
So, I'm wondering, what do you do with your old cards each year. Do you still send out holiday greetings, or is an email or text, or a general facebook post sufficient to extend your well wishes? And then, what about birthday cards.... I'd love to read your comments below!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New Traditions

Rainier has started a sweet tradition in this corner; meet the Christmas chair ♡ Adorned thus far with goodies she bartered for in exchange for her handmade cards, a few of which are also on display. Beneath is a gift I received from a MOPS mentor, a mug emblazoned with words of encouragement. I know it's not about the gifts, but I think Jesus would approve... #ReasonfortheSeason

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Tree With Windblown Trimmings

Day 8 of our Journal Your Christmas prompted remembering invites us to explore our Christmas tree trimming memories.

PNW screenprinting in action at the
 Nordstrom Holiday Party
I think back and see the twinkling of the personalized ornaments made to commemorate each Christmas that my brothers and cousins and I received each year from our aunt and uncle.
 I smell the fresh pine of our live tree inside, mingling with the cast iron tea pot of potpourri, the smoke of logs burning in our woodstove beneath, and the sweet, spicy, and oh-so- special cinnamon candle in a tin, brought out this time of year and lit exclusively by my mom.
 Almost forgot- the music! The well known and loved sounds of the season! No decorating party would be complete without them... because, It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... deck the halls with boughs of holly... and soon enough, we'd be rockin' around the Christmas tree!
Out of concern for our children's exposure to toxicities, I am usually the one to take care of hanging the decorations now, and our tree is usually outside to keep busy hands from exploring those hanging baubles, so I am content with capturing my daughter's gaze of adoration through the window.

With eyes shining with wonder,
she gazed in delight~
No tree that I'll trim
will shine nearly so bright.
No soundtrack for this moment; instead, I hear the memorable voice of my German step-dad singing proudly O Christmas Tree in his native tongue...
and, I smell the faint scent of our animal pens and think of Mary's first moments with her new baby ♡

As Pastor Dan Whitmarsh commented Monday morning to our MOPS group; having a baby-in a barn- probably a little messy. Even if it was God's son!
A windblown tree may need to be up-righted more often, it may look a bit soggy, but it's twinkling lights shine even brighter against the black backdrop of night. Without worry of small hands touching, it invites observation, reflection, and dreams of what may still come this holiday season.
Hoping your tree is just as inviting,
(but if it's not, maybe a Welcome to Christmas ornament is in need) ~Anna

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Scrapbooking Plans

I love and adore the concept of a December Daily album. As you may have read in previous posts, I'll be following along with Shimelle's Journal Your Christmas class again this year. It's always interesting to see what the prompt of the day will be, as well as my family's reactive conversations.

For instance, I don't think I realized just how much my mother-in-law enjoyed shopping for Christmas ornaments, or that my older daughter had picked up on  (and insists that we carry on) many of the traditions we shared from our youth with last years journaling prompts. These small smile-abouts have only been tempered by knowing that, despite my best intentions and pre-plans for success, I'm still staring at empty pages in last year's album for this month. I still have stories that are not included in those album sleeves, too. I guess there is no wrong time of the year to continue recording, and I have put chronological scrapbooking way out of mind, but the way I do scrap is by putting my pages into a "current" album. And without that album at least purchased, that's a little harder for this crafter to do!
This year I decided to put some of my pre-holiday shopping into a plan of action that will be fun to use. Starting with a few scrapbooking kits I picked up on discount from, I've now got plenty of product and pretty patterned paper to choose from once I get a few photos printed and make time to document our month's happenings.
A trip to Michael's on Black Friday brought home a gorgeous new addition to our memory hoarding library, which, coincidentally was just moved into a new location. This new album features gold roses outlined on a kraft background~ simple but stunning! What a joy it will be to place inside our memories of Christmas past and present, and now, housed within a few chosen sleeves of various sizes, are those gorgeous kit contents. Embellishments galore from Fancy Pants and Simple Stories, sparkley rhinestones, and perfectly coordinated twines and ribbons are included too!
You can see what I'm talking about, and maybe even get some ideas you can incorporate into your December scrapbooking process, in my latest video:

One bonus I did not mention in this video: with all I need within a grab-able place, I could actually take it with me while I travel about spending time with family. This album has the most potential to include hand written pieces from family of any that I've created to date. If even one sentence written in another's handwriting gets included, I will have a very merry memory indeed :-)
So, what are you doing (or not doing) to record the sights and sounds of the season so far? I'd love to hear about them~ leave a comment below or on the video and as always, thanks for stopping by to CraftWithAnna today!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December, Start Your Engines!

Everthing's better in December- Just Add Sparkle
  I gotta hand it to ya....
December is one of my favorite months! It includes my birthday, but that's not til the very last day, so until then I relish the joy of spoiling my honey on his birthday mid month, and our annual family reunion at my grandmother's house Christmas Eve, followed by a casual day at home with our kids, relaxing before the fire and chatting online with our cross country kin. Somehow the hustle and bustle of increased traffic, downpours, dark-end days, and party invites to choose from can kind of wear the cheer right out of a soul though, but I'm doing, and am going to continue to do, my best to do something to prohibit that effect.
 Inspired by Shimelle
 Last year, I joined Shimelle in her Journal Your Christmas class online for the first time. Never have been a fan of journaling myself, but I've practiced quite a bit these last few years, and I always love a good reason to scrap. I've decided to participate again for 2015, so every day I'll receive a prompt that will allow me to reflect on the past as well as the present(s).
Do you hear what I hear?
Now that I am in a family that I've had a hand in creating, there are so many more stories to tell about Christmas traditions. I not only have my own memories, but those of Ray and his family too- East coasters do things a bit different I've found :-) So we usually reflect on the daily prompt as a family over our morning meal. Sometimes there ends up to be a really golden remembrance, and sometimes we think about what we've heard of other people doing, but the best part for me is that we. are. talking.
How often does that really happen?
That we listen with our heart to our most intimately known loved ones... that we share stories that really don't have a point and it's ok... that we ask our children what they think of what we are sharing? That we ask them what they enjoy without promting their answer to fit what we want to hear, i.e "Honey, don't you want to see Santa?" Um, I'm thinking no, Mom.  Cause, to me, the stranger in the red suit you want me to sit with every year- kinda weird if you want my honest opinion.( I've got the cutest pictures to prove it too :-)
Old Saint Nick brought me more candles this year!
The interesting thing I found about last year's prompted conversings is that it wasn't just contained to our home. Nope, I pretty much chatted up anyone I came in contact with about the ideas of the day. I encouraged my photo app savvy friends to add sparkle to every pic. I listened in rapture as families described their "Best Christmas Ever." I peered into the homes of every newly lit entry way to see what their tree theme would be. Do I remember every conversation? no. Did being available to conversating help me to develop deeper relationships with people I care to do so with? YES!
I also found myself thinking about my family, near and far. About how few cards I was mailing out even as I mass produced them for resale. About the people I've shared holidays with over the years- about friends I no longer see, about relatives whose company I savor because of the rarity of our mingling. Considered the debt-to-feel-good ratio of gift giving. I thought about the decorations that mark the season's start for me...and how would I document all of this while enjoying it too!?
Hoping you have a heartfelt holiday ahead
 I had all the best intentions and filled an album ahead of time. I should have known better- what could be more stifling than staring at an unfinished album before the pictures are even taken lol. This year, I'm going to focus more on the writing and sharing some of those musings here with you. I've got a hardcover journal to record stuff in, and plenty of pretty papers to pull from as the mood strikes.
Today I started setting up a display that will run through the end of the month at our local library- pretty cool, huh? Scrapbook pages, mixed media, even the busts I painted from when I was pregnant will be on display on the Key Center Pierce County Library's main space. There will even be an album with a guest sign in page~ I hope you'll feel compelled to comment, either here or there, friends! And that wherever you are, or how you're feeling about this time of year, a little bit of glitter finds it's way into your day.
 Now, to get my vocals warmed up with a bit of Pitch Perfect... hey, new traditions, right?