Tag Archives: scrapping

A Scrapbook for My Mom

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For many years I’ve had the idea of making my mom a scrapbook. Since I wanted it to be a surprise, the first requirement was that I wait until I was living in my own place. I haven’t been at my craftiness peak since college, but I caught the bug again this fall. The time had finally come to embark on Project Mom.

I usually start projects like this with a great deal of planning, probably knowing how many photos will be included before buying paper and an album. This time I more or less made myself dive right in. If I wanted this scrapbook done by Christmas, I wasn’t going to leave it until the last minute. The lack of planning led to a few missteps, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed.

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I started out with a stack of printed photos, a standard photo album, and a 6×6 paper pad by Echo Park. Collecting photos was a challenge because in order to keep my project secret, I couldn’t go digging through our old albums while I was visiting. Thankfully, I scanned some family photos when I was a senior in high school and saved them on a disc. Of course, the last eight years or so are digital photos, and I also had a few copies made from my own photo albums. I later found more digital files, so it took a few tries to get all the photos printed.

Once I sorted the photos into chronological order, some large gaps in time became obvious. I assume that since eighteen-year-old Courtney was choosing which photos to scan, I skipped anything from my awkward early teens. Still, I thought it would be distracting if the scrapbook suddenly skipped ahead for years in time. Besides that, I wanted the book to feel more cohesive than my random assortment of photos seemed to imply.

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Instead of being strictly chronological, I decided to divide the book into sections based on the different roles my mom plays. First is the “mom” section, which is photos of just the two of us. Second is the “daughter” section, which includes pictures of my grandparents and other extended family. There’s also a “wife” section for my stepfamily and, of course, a “grandma” section for my nephews. The organization makes it easier to see the different relationships growing over the years. It also conveniently masks the time gaps.

I worked on the “mom” section first. Once I figured out a few page layouts that I liked, I could pretty much repeat them throughout the book. Assembling pages is always the most fun part; it just feels good to make something with my hands. The colors and general vibe of the paper pad were exactly what I wanted for the album. The final challenge came when I realized that my pages only filled a small portion of the photo album, leaving a bunch of blank pages at the back. Instead I bought a Project Life album and page protectors for a cleaner look.

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Despite a few hiccups, this project was really enjoyable. It helped that I knew my mom would appreciate the effort that went into it. Around the same time, I started using Project Life for my personal scrapbooking, so I was able to have crafty talks with my mom without spoiling the surprise. But that’s another post.

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Life Without a Laptop

Just days before the start of spring break, my laptop officially died. It had been in its death throes for weeks, but would still work if I never, ever moved it. Then one evening it inexplicably powered off for what would be the last time.

My newly computer-less state presented some challenges, particularly in a week with no access to work computers. Most of my files are backed up, so there wasn’t any anxiety over losing all my photos or music. My phone allowed me to check email and Facebook with relative ease. The biggest problem was that most of my recreational activities involve the computer — especially the internet. So what did I do for five days without my laptop? Well, I used the internet on my phone more than usual, but I only find that convenient for quick visits. Mostly I have to rely on other forms of entertainment.

One of my spring break goals was to be crafty. (Another was to write at least two blog posts, but that obviously went out the window.) With the roommates off on vacation, I could take over the living/dining room with scrapbook supplies and feel no guilt. This is not to say that my roomies don’t support crafty pursuits, but I tend to get self-conscious when I’m trying to be creative. I was able to get three or four scrapbook pages done. The paper for these layouts had been purchased back in December, so I felt like I was really conquering my procrastination.

Thankfully the weather cooperated enough for me to take walks. After walking around Lake Harriet two days in a row, I began to worry that I was becoming one of those people who are addicted to exercise. Okay, in my case it would be only to a very specific kind of exercise. I’m here to tell you, there’s a big difference between a Sunday walk and a Monday walk. That is, weekends are very crowded and weekday afternoons are not. I wondered what kind of jobs people had to allow them to go walking on a Monday afternoon. By the end of day two, my feet were displeased with me.

I also finally made progress in The Help, which I started a couple of weeks earlier. Having heard the criticisms about the movie (i.e. white woman fixes racism!), I may have been reluctant to immerse myself in the book. Now that I’ve finished it, I can see why it’s popular. The characters are extremely vivid and also distinct from each other, which is important when switching narrators as it does. I tried to add the movie to my Netflix queue, but there’s currently a “very long wait.” Oh Netflix, I can’t pin you down.

So there I was, writing a blog post in a notebook while sitting at a coffee shop. It certainly beat my bedroom for people-watching, but the hand cramps were a definite drawback. I wonder what J. K. Rowling does to combat hand-crampage?

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Free Never Looked So Good

Over winter break of senior year, I had to replace my digital camera. It was a bittersweet moment because this camera was my first step into the digital realm. Still, the little Nikon left me no choice by literally ceasing to function. Since I lacked the funding for a digital SLR, which is my ultimate camera goal, I found a more sophisticated point-and-shoot to use in the interim. The camera itself has been a satisfactory upgrade, and it came with a bonus offer.

When I bought the camera, I also got an offer for a free 8×8 photo book from Shutterfly. If you don’t know Shutterfly, it’s a very user-friendly photo-processing website. I’ve ordered prints from them a few times and been happy with the results. (And as my mom would tell you, I can be quite picky about photo quality.) However, I wanted to save the free photo book for an event that was worthy of such fancy documentation. My friend Amy suggested our college graduation, and that seemed like the perfect plan.

After spending several post-graduation hours selecting background colors and page layouts, I placed the order for my first photo book. The finished product arrived less than a week later. Shutterfly orders arrive in orange packaging that causes mailbox excitement similar to red Netflix envelopes. But this was more important than regular old prints.

Hello, my pretty.

I decided to use a Senior Week photo for the cover. It would have been difficult to choose between the numerous cap-and-gown pictures, but mostly I just thought this one was way cooler than anything else.

Added bonus of posting these pictures:  you get a nice, long look at our living room carpet (and also my thumb if you’re into that).

There was space for a photo on the back cover, so I decided to get extra cutesy.

Overall I love how the book turned out. The only changes I would make come from my own inexperience in putting it together, not an issue on Shutterfly’s end. I can even see ordering another book in the future. Of course, I’ll have to pay for more than the shipping and handling next time.

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Slice ‘N Dice

It’s no secret that I’m crafty. Or is it?

It’s not a habit that I got to indulge at school very often. In fact, the only occasion I can think of was when I took a Victorian Novel class with the fabulous Susan Jaret McKinstry. The class focused on the book as an object, and most of the novels we read were illustrated editions. There were also several assignments that went beyond the usual paper-writing. My favorite was creating a serial edition of a chapter (or shorter excerpt) from one of the novels we studied. I gleefully bought paper at The Sketchy Artist, took photos around campus, and assembled collage-style illustrations for my edition of Jane Eyre. In fact, if you Google me, one of the only results that actually refers to me is a photo of my edition from the Gould Library website.

So when I looked forward longingly to the post-graduation era, one of my fantasies was having time for crafty projects. Fortunately for me, at home I have my mom as Craftiness Enabler. It will be a sad day when I can’t share her paper stash and tools anymore. At least there’s one tool that I won’t have to live without, and that’s the Slice. What is the Slice, you ask? The Slice is quite simply the best paper-crafting tool ever. It’s a little machine that cuts out letters and many other shapes, which is great for poor crafters like me. Scrapbooking doesn’t have to be expensive if you only buy paper. Granted, the Slice itself doesn’t come cheap, but my mom lucked into a sweet deal around Christmas time.

Yesterday I finally freed my Slice from its box and made my first scrapbook page of the summer. Oh, it was sweet. I know that my free time will shrink considerably when I start job training in August, so I plan to take full advantage of the next few weeks. There are envelopes full of photos and adorable shapes waiting to be cut.

Wow, I managed to be a nerdy English major and a nerdy scrapbooker in one post. Do I win some kind of prize? Preferably one printed in an adorable font on tastefully patterned paper?

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