Friday, April 26, 2013

My space

I used to dream about having a room dedicated to craft. Well, to be honest, I still dream about it, but even if our house would allow it, I should think twice about it. You see, I am a solitary kind of person. I love being left alone in my nest. And this has been aggravated by the arrival of my kids. I love them, but I feel that my space and time has been invaded, I crave being alone and crafting. So if I had such a "studio", I know for a fact that I would either spend far too much time there or that I would feel frustrated not being able to spend more time in it. Well, actually I think I would do both!!!
Just like I know that if we had a TV in the house I would watch it far too much. 

I currently share an "office space" in the corner of our living room with my sweet husband. 
So let’s start the tour… It won’t take long ;o)

I have most of my supplies at hand. I could not yet find a way to keep my sewing machine accessible, and it's a pity because I would like to use it more for scrapping. Still brainstorming about that part. Under the desk, there is a a cabinet with three drawers holding all my pens, crayons, rullers...

The second one is all about stamping...

And the last one... well, a bit of everything else!

In the closet being my desk, I have big boxes to keep on going projects, PL supplies and embellishments.

Last but not least, I have a very nice old wood box with drawers inherited from my husband grand-mother that is just perfect for all my paper. But this one sits in another part of the living room.

I find that this space is working well for me right now. I like the fact that:

  • I do have to clean up the table on a regular basis. I will not pretend that I do it every time I scrap, but at least once a week for cleaning the room.
  • I have little storage available so I am very selective on what supplies make it to the cart or not. I am in an on-going sorting process but to be honest, it is difficult to let go of items you paid for at one point. The work-around that I found is to set these items aside for the kids to experiment with when they are a bit older.
  • I can be with my husband while I scrap. He would either come and go in the living room or work on the laptop next to me.

When the kids will be older, I dream of spending time crafting "next" to them. But, now is not yet the season of crafting while they are awake because we need to spend time together when at home. I know this will come someday, and I dream about crafty afternoons where each of us would experiment, play and have fun at this big desk.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

PL update

 Playing catch-up last week after receiving 5 weeks’ worth of pictures. I love getting my prints... It is always nice to reflect back on the past month or two and see all the blessings in my life. Looking at their smile, their face, this is just what I need these days. 
As you will see, there is very little journaling. I was busy studying for an anatomy exam and kept PL on back burner, just making sure I sorted and edited pictures on a weekly basis. I am trying to “embellish” pages a bit, but it is not a priority this time around. I prefer to concentrate on journaling what is going on right now. 

I noticed that although I love this project, I am feeling less motivated lately, this is a sign that I need to bring back some fun into it… Some thoughts I have about that:

I would love to get my pictures printed on a weekly basis. Having a PL “date” to play every week would be lovely, but I don’t see that happening due to the cost of shipping. 
I am thinking about keeping one slot each week for creative fun. Could be any size. Could be a picture edited with brushes or mask. Could be ink, stamp, paint, ribbons, embossing…

There are some designs that I really do not like in the Cobalt edition. I chose it because the new designs would not make it to Europe by January and I did not want the backlog. Plus I found most of the designs fun and liked the colors, but some cards are just not for me. So I will create my own to replace them. For example, I absolutely need to remove the 4x6 that opens the week below...

I also need to focus a bit less on the kids and tell a bit more about Laurent, about me and about our couple. But this is a general trend: I need to find myself again as a woman and as a wife. Being a mum is very rewarding but I must be careful of not getting lost in this role. 
I can see some trends in my PL that are just reflection of my life right now: I need more fun.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A new adventure: squarefoot gardening

We have been renovating our house for almost 4 years now… It’s not a big house, there is nothing special about its appearance, no special charm, but it is the perfect house for us. We have two rooms, one for the kids and one for us, a lot of light; we have a big park at the end of the street and … a garden. Who would imagine having a garden in a city? Not me, but here I am: preparing for a new experience: growing some vegetables in Brussels, capital of Europe! Our finances finally allowed us to get the garden redesigned last autumn (this was a huge task, that we could not handle on our own), and we kept a spot for square foot gardening.  

Spring is coming and I getting ready to give it a try… I have a small book that looks very practical (just what I need considering that I barely manage to keep plants alive in a pot). We will see where it takes us.

To be honest, I do not really hope to eat anything from my garden (but who knows?). I am mostly looking for a chance to spend more time outside with the kids. I need natural light. I crave it. But with kids, you can hardly just go out and stay in the sun, they want to be active. Plus I think it is important to connect to nature somehow, to get immersed in the seasons. What could center us more than planting a seed, caring for it and seeing grow?

My word for this year is "Open". With this small potager (in French in the text), I want to be open to nature, more open to seasons, more open to surprise, more open to new experience.

So here is the spot as of today… 

                                                                                                ... to be continued!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Crafting with small kids

I love crafting... I love spending time with my kids... So what could be better that crafting with them? Well, to be honest, the truth is less glamorous than what I envisioned while expecting! My little ones are 4 and 2 years old and I have to accept that:

  • they have different center of interest (one likes to cut, the other one to paint) 
  • they make a mess (and for them it's part of the fun)
  •  they don't follow the guidance
  • they don't care about the final result
  • they will stop when they feel like it

In other words, I have to come at peace with the fact that the craft will most probably not look like the original concept. I know it is the time spent together that counts, but I just can't help correcting them to make it look right! I promise I am working hard at it... 

But all this does not prevent me for planning craft sessions at home. I love to get ideas from Kiwi Crate. I am not affiliated (they do not deliver in Europe, and if they were, I assume the cost of shipping would be ridiculously high), but I love grabbing ideas from their studio, especially when they use a very limited number of supplies.

Among the various tentatives, there have been three big hits (pictures are our chef-d'oeuvre, link is sending you to the original article):

the rocket: I am an aerospace engineer... I just could not resist this one. It is still stored in the living room and from time to time, they ask their dad for a ride!

the basket: we do not celebrate Halloween, but we made these basket for an autumn walk in the park. I listed some stuff to find (5 leaves of different shape, 2 round rocks, 1 snail...) and a simple walk in the park became a treasure hunt. Super easy. The basket themselves were a bit tricky to make, but we got them right in the end. I could not find pictures...

the pipe cleaner: I never though they could have so much fun with so little... Plus I am amazed at the dexterity of my sweet Cécile (the youngest one). She is so proud to do just like her brother.

It's worth the mess... At least I think so now that they are both in bed and the living room is clean!

Friday, March 1, 2013


Life is hectic these days... I have plans for weekly blogs and before I know, I am passed my deadline. But not this week! Yeah! I am very pleased by the result of this layout. The picture is about three years old, I did the editing just after taking it and absolutely loved the result, but I never figured out how to make it justice in a LO. Until I saw the page from another scrapper on the internet. I am quite ashamed because I can not find her back to give her credit. Should she ever come across this blog, I hope she will appreciate my version of her design.

I often use scraplift. It's a good starting point for me, especially these days when I do not scrapbook often. Somehow, the more I scrap, the more creative I become... but the opposite is unfortunately also true.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Project Life - My process

Despite the lack of time, my PL is up and running... I figure that I might as well keep the same process in place than last year (with a little bit of tweaking here and there) since it worked for me. As I mentioned before, I let go the idea of having a "Design Team-worth" result and focus on getting the story told on a regular basis. 

So here is my process:
  1. Take pictures: I have my big camera that usually stays home or come with us on special occasions and a small one that stays in my handbag. I do not take pictures everyday. Since I am working full time and evenings are a bit hectic, it happened that I only had pictures during the week-end, or even one day. But it still works great since it is all about our time together as a family.
  2. Edit the pictures: this is for me the most time consuming part. I download both cameras on a weekly basis, usually on Sunday evening (seeing all the fun we had helps me fight the Sunday evening blues!). Editing includes cropping, resizing (I put a lot of pictures in the 3X4 pockets), improving and adding digital elements.
  3. Once I have all my pictures for the week ready in the "for print" folder, I go through them again and write down stories either directly on the 3X4 cards or on a post-it (which will be added as a small tab to the picture when printed).
  4. I order my pictures every 5 to 6 weeks, then I spend a full evening putting things together. 
Quite straight forward.  From time to time, I might spend time creating something a bit more fancy with paint and stamps, just for fun, but this is more an exception than the rule.

I am making some changes this year though:
  • I do not round the corners anymore. When working 5 to 6 weeks worth of pictures, this is far too time consuming to bother. And I actually like the result.
  • I still need to figure out how I will write the dates on each page. Still not sure about how I want to go (week number, hand written, stamped ???).
  • The step 3 of the process described above is new this year. Last year I though I would remember what I wanted to say based on the pictures when they would be printed, but I found out this was not the case, so I try to have all my notes gathered every single week.
I notice that the last weeks of 2012 and this year, I am much more relaxed about the full thing. I am so positively surprised by the result of last year that I am finally able to say to myself: "It's OK (enough) like that". 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Journal or not journal?

I am very fond of documenting our everyday life. I do my best to record small and big stories of our family. Since starting Project Life, I feel much more on top of this goal and more relaxed when I decide to take time to sit down and do a “full lay-out”. The creative scrapbooking is now again just that: creative. Although I gave up on experimenting with all the new techniques that keep showing up for lack of time and resources, I can still play with my basics: paper, scissors, glue and stamps. My hands are leading the way, time flies by, I am in the zone… And this is all I ask for these days: a small escape, a bubble of me-time, a creative outlet.

This layout has been done start to finish within a nap-time (ok, it was a long 1h30 nap for the oldest one, thanks to a swimming lesson in the morning ;0). 

So when the pictures are enough to tell a story, or when I am happy with my page and am afraid that adding text will damage the result, then I say to myself: you do not HAVE TO journal. Well, I know this goes against most of the scrapbooking gurus’ rules… Guess I can live with that!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Scrap on a budget

While I always considered myself rather careful about how much I spend on scrapbooking, I must admit that my financial situation so far allowed me to indulge in shopping without too much remorse. Not that I would spend hundreds of euros every month, but when I found a stamp I liked or some new pretty paper, I would not think twice and buy it. This year, I am making a very strong commitment to a personal goal that has been on the back burner for too long, as I am working toward getting certified as a STOTT Pilates instructor. In order to do so, I plan to reduce my working hours for a couple of months to 4 days a week instead of 5 days a week. This means more time to study, learn and teach, but it also means less money on my paycheck. So for the coming months, I will earn just enough to make the ends meet. With a house and two kids to provide for, it is quite a scary, but this is a choice I am now ready to make because I know I will regret letting this opportunity pass by. 

So in 2013 I will have to scrap on a very strict budget for the very first time in years. I searched the web for tips and tricks and found some great advice. After careful reading and some brainstorming, here are the 5 strategies I would like to stick to for the coming year:

  1. Define a budget: this one seems obvious I know, but so far, although I would have a rough idea how much I would be willing to spend on an on-line order, I would not often delete an item from my cart if I was a couple of euros above my so called budget. In addition, I never fixed a set amount to spend on scrapbooking each month simply because I was not buying a lot and I did not consider it necessary. Now, I have to decide on a fixed monthly budget (including photo printing) and stick to it. If I want something expensive, well, just like we teach the kids, I will have to save several months’ worth of budget before buying it (next year Project Life kit will be a big challenge!). Considering that I order for about 10 euros in printing each month (and I will not print less), I am now considering a total budget of 25 euros per month. 
  2. Use what you have first: my current goal is to avoid buying new products as long as possible. In other words, no new stamps, or paper if I have something similar in my stack (how many orange pattern paper does one girl need?). On the other hand, I cannot scrap without stamping. So I know that whenever I will run out of black ink or embossing ink, I will resupply without question. 
  3. Sort your supply & see what you use or not: this is somehow related to the previous point. Once I know all that I have and use most, I know what NOT to buy! For example, I recently bought some washi tape but I never use it, so I guess I should not buy more… I am reluctant to do that because I know I will come across items I once bought and will never use. I hate to think of “throwing them away”, because I paid for it… But I came up with a plan: I will put all these supplies in the kids’ supplies box. They will be very happy to have some pretty paper or stickers. This way, I am getting it out of my system without throwing it away, plus I have happy kids! 
  4. Journal more, embellish less: oh yes, I am drooling over all those cute embellishments I see on the pretty pages in the 2 peas gallery or on designers’ blog… All these lovely fabric flowers, 3-D butterflies,  trendy tapes and … But truth to be told, twenty years from now, I do not hope to hear Nathan and Cécile saying “What a great rub-on you have added there maman!”, I would rather like to hear “thanks for writing this story down, I completely forgot about it!”. So it might be a bit less satisfactory for my artist’s ego, but tenfold better when I think about why I scrapbook. 
  5. Explore smaller format: I will not stop 12x12 pages altogether, but I can try to tell some of my stories on A4 paper. It would save money for various reasons: I can save more scrap, I could print on my full LO with my printer, I can store it in regular binders…

I will for sure report on this endeavor in a couple of month! Look out for updates on this topic.