Sunday, December 23, 2012

A New Find

I've made a discovery. (I think I'm a year behind the rest of the world, but it's a discovery nonetheless.) It's a children's book called - enchantingly - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente, and there are no words for how wonderful this book is. I came across a quote from it on Goodreads - my favourite online quotes bank - and was so hooked I ordered it immediately. (  Highly recommended :) ) As a booklover I'm always on the lookout for good books for my kids, and I wholeheartedly agree with C.S. Lewis' view that "a children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest." I also like his rule to "never give a child a book to read that you wouldn't read yourself. (Was that C.S. Lewis? Might have been George Bernard Shaw.) One of the happiest days of my life was the day I discovered that my favourite writer as a child, Tove Jansson, also wrote adult fiction.

This is the sort of book you want to devour in one sitting, and annoy the people around you by making them listen to bits you read out. Which I'm about to do to you... This is one of my favourites:

"When you are born...your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you're half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it's so grunged up with living. So every once in a while you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you'll never be brave again."

Glorious. And it got me thinking about my youngest boy. One of the things I love most about him - and, let's face it, find most terrifying as his mother - is how utterly fearless he is. I'd been about to do a layout for his album on our recent holiday, and this musing led to a completely different direction for the page. Here 'tis:

I remembered the e. e. cummings quote halfway through and decided it suited. I'd already stuck the little sun badge on, which echoed the quote's first line nicely. I love happy accidents like that.

I've managed to finish off a couple of other layouts too, so today's post takes us up to 35 for the year. I'm happy with that, even if it isn't the 52 I aimed for. Maybe next year....

Have a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year :)

PS: I've no idea why those first two layouts uploaded sideways. The computer is obviously feeling festive and whimsical  :/

PPS: Just checked. George Bernard Shaw  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Getting Reflective (and a wee bit heavy...)

                   "I am changing,
                    Less and less asleep,
                    Made of different stuff than when I began."

These Brooke Fraser lyrics have been echoing in my head lately. I think I've been undergoing a quiet revolution of sorts. It's not wholly recent; it's been simmering for several years now. But it's definitely starting to gather momentum.

I'm talking about living sustainably. The more I read about the gap between the first and third worlds, and the horrendous cost that a first world lifestyle has on the rest of the planet and humanity, the more troubled I've become by the way I live. Now, I know I'm not personally dumping toxic waste or cheating African workers, but I've come to realise that our culture is so engineered to function at the expense of the developing world that it's almost impossible not to enable that exploitation. There are alternatives though, and those are what I've been trying to track down and start implementing.

Like I said, this has been a gradually developing thing. But every so often there's been a big, jolting discovery. The most recent was coming across Lucy Siegel's book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out The World? This was a real (and extremely uncomfortable) eye-opener. It covered the environmental, humanitarian and social price of the global fashion industry, which is absolutely horrifying. Every time I've been shopping since, I've started myself questions like "Who made this? Under what conditions? What am I actually supporting if I buy this?" (It's very inconvenient...) BUT, since the author loves clothes as much as the next woman, it also offered plenty of wonderful alternatives. And there are amazing people out there, creating clothes that are superior in every possible way to the cheap, looks-worn-out-after-three-washes rubbish that we buy (most of the time) simply because it's there and it's a "bargain".

Now this blog was only ever going to be scrapbooking-based, but I've got a vaguely formed resolution for the new year (and beyond, if it works). I thought I'd see how I'd go with making sure that every clothing purchase was as ethical a choice as I could make it. This can include new stuff from ethical designers, buying secondhand, upcycling old stuff, or DIY. I think I'll give myself some leeway on shoes, and I unapologetically draw the line at any kind of secondhand underwear ("If that is the price of the earth's survival, then I fear the earth shall have to die." Ben Elton). But I think it's doable. I might post some pictures of anything that I'm particularly happy with along the way. I have made a start with these two - the first was an old A-line skirt, and the second was another little skirt - sweet, but far too short (for me at least) to wear and still be unselfconsiously carefree:

Back to scrapbooking! I did up this page in my art/reflective/visual journal (I never know what to call it...) as a reminder. Think it's Number Thirty-One for the year.

Not sure how clearly it shows up, but those are third world workers under a layer of organza. Oh, must make disclaimer: just noticed that one of those tops is by Gorman, which has a stellar reputation for ethical manufacturing. Oops..

And here's Number Thirty-Two.

I think I'm on a bit of a page roll at the moment. It did cross my mind that maybe, just maybe, I could still reach the 52 layouts for the year, but then it occurred to me that there might be one or two other things happening during December.... We'll see!

Have a wonderful - and festive - week :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012


...or, Silencing the Inner Critic.

I'm starting off a little bit differently this time; here's the first ever layout my youngest son did, just recently.

It was so fun watching him. On reflection, he approached the page the same way his brother and sister did when they had a go: he knew exactly what he wanted to do (once I'd talked him down to four photos, rather than fourteen..."I'll make them fit!"). He had a ball too, and was suitably proud of his work. (My favourite bit? The little thumbprint people he did in the bottom corner. Bless!)

It got me thinking about the way kids approach art; happily, confidently, uninhibitedly. So different to us, most of the time! Picasso's words are so true: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." Mike had no hesitations about colours, or coordination; he wasn't interested in what the latest trends were or whether anyone else would like what he was doing. He liked it, and that was all that mattered to him.

I was so struck by what I was seeing that I decided to go at it with the same joie de vivre as he did. I've been in a bit of a creativity rut lately, as far as scrapbooking is concerned, anyway. So I decided to play, and use what I liked as I liked. This is a hobby, after all - it's meant to be fun! Any time I felt the inner critic taking hold I walked away and did something else till it passed. So, minus any angst, self-critiquing or yes-but-is-it-good-enough-for-a-post, here are layouts 28, 29 and 30.

Are they the best I've ever done? Probably not. But I enjoyed doing them, and at the end of the day I figure that's the point. Thanks, Mike!

Have a wonderful week :)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Well, two weeks on from last post and the two-pages-a-week-catch-up idea isn't quite happening. I do however have two layouts to post (I can see a pattern developing here...) so we are plodding along reasonably well. Twenty-Six and Twenty-Seven here:

Still haven't got that pile of new photos developed yet, so these are some early 2009 ones. Got a bit nostalgic, actually!

It's funny, but I think the personality of my kids influences the way I scrap their pages. I've always been fairly conscious of not letting my 'voice' take over what is, at the end of the day, a record for them of their early lives, but I am noticing that Beth layouts tend to be sweet and harmonious without being fussy, Joel's are quite geometric and logically ordered, and Mike's are energetic and playful. Family pages are a bit of a mix of all three. These ones of Mike certainly fit that pattern, anyway.

Have a wonderful week (or two...) :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Oh me of little faith! When I wrote last week that I thought I'd try doing two pages a week till I caught up again, most of my brain was standing by with one eyebrow raised saying, "oh, yes?" And yet here we are, a week later, with two layouts to post. Better yet, they're of photos that have been sitting on the desk for nearly a year, waiting for inspiration to strike. Decided I'd just have to do without inspiration, picked a colour, pulled out some stuff I liked and started sticking it down. Here's Twenty-Four:

 I really love taking a photo and finding something a bit deeper to say about the subject. This was going to be a page about the way Mike spent literally hours on that beach holiday just running up and down the beach. But I think that's why it was so hard to put together for so long; it was a funny memory of the holiday for us, but got less significant as time went on. The photo began to mean something else to me - the sheer energy which which Mike throws himself into everything he does - but I was still trying to scrap the old idea. Once I let go of that, it was much easier.

Here's Twenty-Five:

Funnily enough, this was another example of holding onto an idea that wasn't working....Hello, my name is Danielle, and I can't scrap purple. Oh I tried, I really did. But the same layout with purple bits just made me want to chuck it all in and take up macrame or something instead. Why purple? Because of Beth's top in the photo. But here's the problem - I wasn't actually looking at the photo itself. I was seeing what I expected to see: purple top, beige fence, blonde hair. But once I had a good look at it, I noticed the some of the fence actually had a dull teal tone to it, which matched Beth's eyes. Problem solved! I jettisoned the purple stuff (why do I even have a purple section??) and gleefully pulled out all the teal and beigey-grey bits I could find. Much happier. Ooh - there's a neat little link into the One Little Word, come to think of it...

Oh dear. Just noticed my last post was closer to two weeks ago. So instead of catching up slowly, I guess I'm actually just holding steady. Never mind - at least it's not going backwards.

Have a wonderful week :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Back Again

Ouch. I knew I hadn’t posted for some time, but hadn’t realised it’s been two months. You know how sometimes the longer you leave something undone, the harder it is to go back to? That’s been me and my layouts.

So. Am officially behind goal again. Think I’ll go and get a pile of recent photos printed; that usually helps me get back in the mood again.

Meanwhile I’ve got two pages to post: Twenty-Two and Twenty-Three. (what are we up to – week 35? Could be worse, I guess) Here’s the first:

Photo is an Instagram one. (which I’ve just discovered and am loving.) The quote in the top corner was from a Frankie magazine, and that’s what really sparked off the layout. It came out a little differently than I planned, mainly because the mist spray wasn’t aiming where I thought it was. After a momentary internal panic at my blue-faced son, I decided I quite liked the effect and sprayed the other two photos too. (A little less enthusiastically though.) Here’s to happy accidents!

And the second:

I must have got out every sheet of blue and aqua paper and cardstock I own for this, and detested every last one of them. And all the while my neutrals pile was quietly waiting for me to come to my senses. I apologised to it for straying, then the page came together in a matter of minutes. I liked the yellow as an accent colour against the blue, although I’m still not entirely sure what “Life’s a stitch” means, even if it is a neat little nod to the theme. (It actually makes less sense the more you think about it…)

So there we are. I think I’ll try to do two pages a week for a while, and catch up that way. New photos will help. Surely…

Have a wonderful week J

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Week 21

Two layouts to post this time: last week's and this week's. Last weekend was a busy one; our girl was baptised at church, and we had lots of family and friends over for lunch afterwards. What with the cooking, cleaning and catching up, the thought of writing a coherent post on Sunday night was a little too much. So I used my remaining energy to crawl onto the couch and press 'play' on the remote instead.

One of the high points of the day, though, was the chance to not only say how proud of and grateful for our girl we are, but also to thank and honour the people dear to us for their love, support and investment into our family. What's that African proverb? "It takes a village to raise a child." It's so true. And I think we forget a lot of the time to stop and appreciate the people who ease and enable our journey. I know I do, anyway. So it was nice to be able to take a day to do that.

I think that's the biggest part of why I scrapbook, actually. It's such a powerful way to honour and celebrate the people most special to me. It's pretty awesome that photos + paper + words + a few bits and pieces can leave that kind of legacy.

On to layouts. Numbers Twenty and Twenty-One here:

The first one was a real play time. The main thing I wanted to do was capture the feel of the time - misery. (shouldn't have been fun, but it was!) That's why everything's messy and slumped down towards the bottom of the page. I loved the little rocket sticker - once I'd turned it upside down so it was more of a 'crash-and-burn' rather than a 'blast off' look, that is. I couldn't find any of my Christmassy stash for the second layout, except for a stamp and one sheet of paper which I didn't like.(May have slightly over-culled last year...) So I didn't worry too much about theming it, just went with what looked right. Let's hear it for generic products!

Have a wonderful week :)  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Making Me Happy

“ ‘That’s the worst – or the best – of real life, Anne. It won’t let you be miserable. It keeps on trying to make you comfortable…and succeeding… even when you’re determined to be unhappy and romantic.’”
                                                Anne of Avonlea  L.M.Montgomery

The ‘Anne’ books were some of my favourites when I was growing up, and there’s always a kind of magic in revisiting a book you loved as a child. The above quote has stuck with me ever since I first read it, and it’s been echoing in my head pretty often these last couple of weeks. We still miss our dear old dog Jas, but at the same time I’ve been more and more aware of lots of small happinesses around me – not the big, momentous things, but the little ones that weave themselves into everyday life so quietly and unobtrusively that it’s only when you stop a moment that you really appreciate them.

So, in deference to this year’s One Little Word, I thought I’d take a moment to See Appreciatively. Little things making me happy at the moment:

·        It’s Autumn. All around me trees are blazing into colour…my garden is showing signs of life again… The days are golden and the nights are silver and full of stars, with the smell of woodsmoke on the air.
·        Seeing kangaroos in our front yard at daybreak. (evidently still have enough of the suburbanite in my soul to get excited by this…)
·        Getting a new book I’ve never read by an author I love.
·        Just finished knitting a beanie for myself out of the most divinely soft wool imaginable. Am wearing it proudly, despite Aaron’s occasional comments re cancer sufferers.
·        It’s cold enough to be making soup again. Plus, I finally seem to have converted the rest of the family to the concept that soup is a valid meal by itself.
·        A “just because” present from a lovely friend – a bougainvillea exactly like the one that grew at my great-grandmother’s house. J
·        Watching the kids and Aaron play soccer in the back. (And no, I don’t play. After all, someone has to clap and cheer.)
·        Sitting with a book or watching a dvd with the open fire going. So cozy.
·        Mint Slice biscuits. Enough said.
·        And last for now, but certainly not least, as of this week, I am Officially Caught Up with layouts!

 Yup, at the close of Week Nineteen, I have layouts Eighteen and Nineteen to post. Here they are:

I think the happy state of mind may have spilled over into the design process for these, especially with the second...Good fun :D

Have a wonderful week – hope it’s filled with your own little happinesses J

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's been two weeks since I last posted, and the answer to last time's question, "could the scrapping mojo be returning?", appears to be "not so much". Well, to be exact, it got sidelined a little last weekend when our beautiful border collie of nearly fourteen years passed away. She'd been slowing down for the past month, and on Sunday night, surrounded by all of us, she very peacefully breathed her last.

I honestly don't think any of us expected to be as upset as we were. After all, we knew she was getting old, and wouldn't be around forever, but even so, to not see her running up to greet us as we arrive home, or trotting at our heels is taking some getting used to. But we did have a little funeral for her, when we all said the things we loved about her and then thanked God together that we could have her as part of our family for so long, and somehow after that the sting has gone out of the grief. We still miss her, but now the thought of her is making us smile rather than tear up. End of an era, really...

One thing I have realised is how relatively few photos of her we have. It's worryingly easy to forget to record the everyday bits and pieces that make up most of life - I've resolved to be a bit more diligent about that from now on.

On to layouts, then. At the end of Week Eighteen, I have No.s Sixteen and Seventeen to post. (At least, I think that's what I'm up to. Will have to double check.) Like I said last time, I did toy with counting the double as two separate pages, which (hypothetical drumroll please) would bring me up to date, but have instead decided to be honest. Page two of the double really doesn't stand alone, anyway.

The nice thing about getting these done is that they've been sitting, in bits and pieces, on the desk for about three months. You know those pages which, no matter what you try, don't seem to come together at all - to the point where they almost put you off scrapping entirely? I present Exhibit A and B....

So, 'tis done, 'tis finished, 'tis finished, 'tis done. And hurrah for that! Maybe mojo will be a bit more forthcoming now...

Have a wonderful week :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Could It Be,,,

...that the scrapping mojo is returning? It may be too early to say for sure, but in any case I have Layouts Fourteen and Fifteen to post this week. Here we are:

This page wasn't actually the one I had next in line to scrap, but the other one had been sitting on the desk for two weeks without any inspiration whatsoever. So I let this one jump the queue, and I think in the end it was one of the quickest layouts I've ever done - maybe 15 minutes, total. You have to love cooperative photos! (Although it's faintly disturbing that this is one of the very few photos of all five of us together...and I'm wearing Aaron's jocks. Glamour eludes me once again.)

And here's Fifteen:

Credit where credit's due: photography by Joel Krivan :)

I quite like this one. Went the "instinctive" approach that I tried with No. Thirteen, and just pulled out paper and bits I liked, without worrying too much about whether it fit the footy theme. So there's no real justification for using orange and teal other than that I wanted to. The paper's from Kaiser's Technologic collection (as is the yellow on the first page, come to think of it), which I really like - fantastic boy colours and patterns. I'm always on the prowl for great boy paper...

Have the next layout half-assembled on the desk. It's a double, so depending on whether I'm feeling like going easy on myself re catching up, I may count it as Sixteen and Seventeen. We'll see!

Have a wonderful week :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Officially Behind...

Well, as much as I hate to admit it, as we come to the end of Week 16 of the year, I am Officially Behind Schedule. Or, to put a slightly more positive spin on it, I've been on Scrapping Hiatus. Either way, I've just got the one layout to post this time. Here's No. Thirteen:

Doing this page made me realise how differently I work on layouts now than when I first started scrapbooking. Back then, I used to plan everything before I dared to cut out or stick down anything - mainly because I was so worried about making mistakes. (It was for Posterity, after all...ho hum) Now, I have no idea how a page is ultimately going to look as I begin it; it's all down to experimenting and letting the thing evolve. It's less a case of "but what if it doesn't work?", and instead a focus on "I wonder what would happen if...?"  Much more satisfying! And besides, there's always another page.

I'll try to catch up a bit over the next few weeks, but in the spirit of 2012's jettisoning the "should do's", if it doesn't happen, I won't beat myself up over it. There are always peaks and troughs in Creativity World; next month I may be so inspired it's all I can do to STOP scrapping... We'll see!

Have a wonderful week :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

It's been an interesting few weeks in this corner of the world. It's funny how, often, just as you get used to doing life in a particular way, everything seems to change at once - and you have to learn how to negotiate and juggle and order all over again. I don't mind changes, not at least when the foundational, fundamental things - family, faith, friends - are unaffected, but transitioning from one phase to the next can take some concentration. So far I think I'm doing okay; everyone's had clean underwear in their drawer and fruit in their lunchbox, anyway!

The upshot of all this is that I haven't had much energy left over for high-octane scrapping. I did, I confess, find myself just starting to reproach myself for that, but - hip, hip and a big fat hooray! - this time I managed to catch myself before I slid into a scrap slump. (Frankly, I call that a giant leap forward in personal growth...)

Had to remind myself that scrapping is meant to be enjoyable, not another thing on the to-do list. I really do want to do a layout a week this year, but I really don't want it to become a burden. So I took a slightly different approach this week. I usually leave bits out on the desk for a few days so I can see how they work together and evaluate objectively. This time I gave myself 5 minutes or so to pick stuff - purely going by instinct - and then 15 minutes to put it together. (Although I gave myself an extra 5 minutes since I'd picked alpha stamps. Why can't somebody invent self-cleaning stamps? Why? Why??)

You know what? It worked. While I wouldn't call it my favourite layout ever, the satisfaction of completing a page - and quickly! - snapped me out of the reluctance and got me buoyed up to do another page. Which, incidentally, is sitting in bits out on the desk for a few days, so I can see how they work together and evaluate objectively...

Anyway, here 'tis:

Here's to not over-thinking it!

One last thing. I don't usually post anything that's not scrap-related, but since I mentioned my knitting fever last time, I thought I'd show my latest finished project. This was for a friend's new baby grandson, and I'm quite proud of it. Had never knitted a toy before, or done anything in the round, so it was a challenge, but one I loved doing. Can't imagine being able to come up with the pattern for this. Aren't people clever!

Have a wonderful week :D

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Two Weeks in One

Well, hello to you all. I didn't quite get a post or a layout done last week; had a couple of other projects on the go instead. (There's something about Autumn and cooler weather that makes me want to break out the knitting needles.Yes, knitting. Actually, my sister once gave me a fantastic birthday card that read, "You can't help but love a lady who is not afraid to do nanna craft." Sums it up, really :) )  Anyhow, this week I've played catch up and have no.s Nine and Ten ready:

Nice and simple, these ones. I find I usually veer toward (even) simple(r) after an (for me) involved layout like the sewn tree one. (Although that one set off a bit of an idea for an upcoming page. I'll have a play and see if it works.) The second page has been sitting on the desk for weeks - nothing I tried was really working. I actually wanted a vertical row of photos, but despite repeated efforts, the page wouldn't cooperate. Eventually it stopped speaking to me altogether, so I put it aside until it had finished sulking.

Ultimately they ended up being two versions of the same layout, but I'm okay with that. After all, why reinvent the wheel if you don't have to?

Have a wonderful week :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Interests and Some Experimenting

Here are six words I never thought I’d write with any degree of conviction:

I think I’m becoming a gardener.

Not a particularly knowledgeable or proficient one, but a gardener nonetheless.

I say this because a few weeks ago I walked out of my local nursery, a bag of pea straw mulch under each arm, and felt as happy and satisfied-with-life as if I’d just bought a pair of shoes.

It’s funny; growing up, gardening was the Ultimate Chore, but now it’s become a whole new way to be creative. And given our new block didn’t have a single tree, let alone plant, when we moved in, it really does seem like a wonderful blank canvas.

It’s been exciting to see the kids start to appreciate it too. While I don’t think they’re enormous fans of weeding (but then, who is?), they’ve noticed the trees we’ve planted sprouting, and point out new buds and growth with excitement. It’s lovely to see.

All three have chosen and planted a tree just for them. (Well, two have, one’s still deciding). Week Eight’s layout is on one of them:

This layout had a couple of starting inspiration points. The first was this picture of kids’ wallpaper that I tore out of a magazine a few years ago (I think it’s by Catherine Martin, but I didn’t write it down at the time.):

 Sadly, I wasn’t able to convince any of my kids that they loved it enough to have it in their new room, so it’s been sitting in the ideas file ever since. I did try to draw some silhouette figures for my page, but wasn’t happy with any of them. Besides, they got in the way of the photos.

The second spark off point was a book I read last week on twelve incredibly talented art quilters. This group got together online and each took a turn at choosing a theme that they’d then all interpret as a 12” x 12” mini quilt. The results were phenomenal; so creative and clever. (There’s a website – might be Twelveby12, but don’t quote me)  I really loved that it wasn’t a competition, but rather a challenge in which everyone’s very different styles were celebrated and appreciated. Sounds like a pretty good idea for a scrapbooking group, actually!

There were a couple of these quilts that looked like they’d been painted, only using thread rather than paint. Thought I’d give it a bash on my tree here. I drew a tree (and grass) then cut it out and stuck some paper behind it. Then I used different machine stitches and coloured cottons and played till it looked finished. I was umming and ahhing as to whether to stitch some extra thinner branches and twigs over the cream paper to fill it out a bit, but when I started to sketch it out in pencil it all looked a bit fussy, so I stopped. It was a fun technique to play with though, and I think I’ll have to try it again sometime soon.

Have a wonderful week :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Food For Thought

Last week I was browsing in my local book store (fancy that), and picked up a brunch cookbook to flick through. (I love looking at cookbooks – and this shop’s full of them. Just found the sublime Frenchwomen Don’t Get Fat Cookbook and a fabulous one on homemade icecream. Insert drooling sigh of delight here.) The first page I opened to proudly displayed the recipe for – I kid you not – “Baked Beans on Toast”. Returned book to pile immediately. Honestly…

It did make me giggle a bit though, so I messaged a friend who I knew would also see the funny side of it. That set off a flurry of messages, all suggesting similarly complicated dishes. Fairy bread…boiled eggs…jam sandwiches…carrot sticks…We decided if ever we wanted to make a quick buck, we’d publish “Cookery For The Morbidly Unculinary”. Perhaps we could market it to students… ;)

I mention this not only because I got a laugh out of it, but also because frankly it's a neat little segue into Week 7’s food-themed layout:

Putting this together reminded me of something I really love about scrapbooking – it’s so endlessly accommodating and versatile. One week you can be celebrating a Nobel Prize winner, the next, recording a funny little family moment like this. From the deeply significant to the downright silly, and everything in between – which, when you think about it, is a pretty apt reflection of life itself, huh?

Have a wonderful week :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Bit of Creative Play

Hello again!

I took a break this week from scrapping family and kids, and instead pulled out my own scrapbook/art journal/miscellaneous dumping ground album and started playing. The first page I’d actually begun a couple of weeks ago, but had put aside, what with the busyness of school beginning + Mike’s birthday + starting part-time work. (I’d forgotten the sheer bliss of pulling on tracky pants after a day of work :) ) But a child-free day or two gave me the chance to get down and play. Here ‘tis:

This page came about after reading “The Voice of Hope”, by Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese pro-democracy leader and Nobel Prize winner. (Sorry, I still don’t know how to do links. Google her - she’s astonishing and will make you proud to be female. Or wish you were ;) ) I was so struck by her passion, intelligence, gentleness, humour and wisdom, that I felt prompted to put together a visual reminder for myself of something she wrote that really resonated with me:

            “Fearlessness may be a gift, but perhaps more precious is the courage acquired through endeavour, courage that comes from cultivating the habit of refusing to let fear dictate one’s actions.”

The reason I love this so much is that it makes living fearlessly possible for anyone. It’s easy to look at someone like her and marvel, assuming she’s just somehow got it all together naturally, or that it all comes easily to her. Not a bit! She strips away the mystique – and the excuses – and chalks it up to choice. Fearlessness is a choice, or better yet, a lifestyle of daily choices. As a naturally fairly timid person, I find that inspiring! After all, if she, with the very real threat of arrest, imprisonment, torture and oppression can choose to live fearlessly, so can we all. Heady stuff.

The second page is also related to Aung San Suu Kyi’s book – that, and the book I read prior to it, Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. You’d be hard pressed to find two more different outlooks on life! Interestingly though, they both touched on the theme of ‘greatness’, with (unsurprisingly) very different views. I thought I’d have a go at representing it visually, and came up with this:

I started off trying to show contrast with colour, but it was just too busy – especially with so much text. So I played around for a bit, and found that keeping the format similar for both halves actually emphasised the contrast in theme and pictures; less obviously, perhaps, but I thought more effectively overall. It’s been ages since I tried to sketch anything, so I felt pretty rusty. I did have trouble getting the proportions right, so eventually, when it occurred to me this was meant to be fun, not tear-inducing, I just traced the outer outline. (Note to self: next time use tracing paper, not vellum) I filled in the detail and shading though, so I think it still counts as my work…

This was fun – and a good reminder to make time to play more often!

Have a wonderful week :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Few of My Favourite Things

It’s been a pretty momentous week in my little corner of the world; all three kids started back at school on Tuesday, (a whole new era has begun…) and our youngest had his sixth birthday yesterday. He wanted an “excavator” cake, but, and I quote, “not one you look down on, one with the arm going up into the air – like a REAL one has.” I don’t mind a cakely challenge, so after a bit of Googling, came up with the pastiche below:

He was satisfied, but did want to know where the digger’s bucket was. I told him it was hidden under the “dirt” (i.e. leftover cake offcuts), and that in any case, you never saw them on birthday cake excavators, only real ones, which he accepted happily. Evidently six is still young enough not to question the wisdom of Mum ;)

On to Layout Five. Since I always get a wee bit nostalgic around birthdays, Mike’s the subject of this one:

I went thoroughly self-indulgent on this one, and stuck with my scrapbooking absolute favourites: it’s all about the photo, it keeps to neutrals, embellishments are minimal, and text is used as a design element.

I think if the Scrapbooking Gods suddenly decreed, “thou must stick to one style only”, I’d be satisfied working like this all the time. Well, maybe with just the occasional foray into Embellishment Land....

Have a wonderful week :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Life with dirt on its knees...

Hello again!

This week's layout was inspired by one of Al Hannah's - I think it was her first one posted for the year. Her "Booger" page made me realise it's been a while since I've done one of those fun, not-so-'pretty', kind of life-but-with-dirt-on-its-knees layouts. So I dug out Joel's first lost tooth (or teeth) photos and had a play. Here 'tis:

The other shots from this day were all fairly average; there's "artistically blurred", and then there's just plain out of focus. Try as I might, I couldn't convince myself they fell into the former camp. So since the one good one had, by happy chance, almost a colour blocked background effect, I thought it might work as a repeated vertical image. Plus, it reinforced the "multiple" theme. That was the idea, anyway.

Very much enjoyed limiting the colour palette to neutrals, too. Ah, neutrals...the multitaskers of the scrapbooking world! Love, love, love them.

We're just weathering the final days of school holidays here. I think everyone's ready for the regular routine to start up again. Our youngest is going to school for the first time, and is both enormously excited, and touchingly proud of his new uniform and shoe-tying capabilities. Love this, given to him by my mum yesterday:

Just gorgeous. It's taken pride of place on the fridge. :)

Have a wonderful week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Week Three Layout

Another week, another layout! This 52-layouts-in-a-year challenge is really kick-starting the creativity drive; I’ve done more in three weeks than I did in the last three months of 2011.

Here’s Layout Three:

I haven’t used this colour much before, but I think I’ll have to add it into the repertoire. It’s not as adaptable as the neutrals and earthy tones I love best, but with the right photos, it can pack a real punch.

Have a wonderful week :)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Refining the One Little Word

Late last year, long before I’d finishing mourning the demise of our local Borders store, a new bookshop opened in its place. It’s one of those discount ones, where (almost) everything is only $5. I’ve spent many a blissful hour wandering around in there, and have the satisfyingly burgeoning pile of books-yet-to-be-read here at home to prove it. (I maintain to Husband that books don’t count as purchases. They are Investments. Come to think of it, the same argument could be made for scrap supplies...)

The only drawback to this little piece of heaven is that, apart from “Fiction” and “Non-Fiction”, there is absolutely no logic nor order as to what goes where. Jackie Collins cuddles up next to Charlotte Bronte. The Shining is sandwiched between Great Expectations and Atonement. If you like organisation and alphabetisation, this is not the place for you. In fact, I know someone (and you know who you are, my charmingly self-proclaimed OCD friend) who, in protest, won’t even go in there.

Not me. I treat it as a treasure hunt, and am duly rewarded – every single time.

Yesterday, as I floated out of there, hugging a John Banville novel, while trying to flick through my new book on art journaling without colliding into too many strangers, I had a One Little Word epiphany (see, there was a scrapbooking point to all this). And it was this:

Seeing isn’t a passive activity. Just as I’m prepared to spend time hunting through the thousands of books in the shop for the possibility of unearthing a gem or two, so too if I’m going to really see and discover moments and opportunities this year, I’m going to have to be ready to pursue those moments and opportunities as I catch a glimpse of them. Simply noticing without responding does no good at all.

For example: two days ago, my son asked me to play Monopoly with him, “just the two of us, Mum.” It did actually occur to me at the time that this was exactly the kind of opportunity to play or connect that I’d anticipated - also, that nine times out of ten, I’d probably feel there was something more pressing to do first. So I played, and it was great. (Especially since I won convincingly. There’s no mercy in Monopoly).

Now, if I’d just thought, “Wow! This is exactly the kind of moment I anticipated! I’m so glad I picked up on that," and then did nothing about it, I would have completely wasted the opportunity. I may as well not even have seen it. So, genuine seeing has to be active, with some kind of response, or it’s meaningless. Which reminds me of that Brooke Fraser lyric, “Now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Went back and added the word “actively” under “see” on the layout, just so as not to forget. No excuses now!

Philosophising over. The second week of the year is complete, as is my second layout:

For some reason, Joel layouts always seem to come together quickly; maybe because my preferred style of working, with minimalist clean lines, seems to echo and express the meticulous, logical aspects of his personality. Don’t know. But it’s fun.

Have a wonderful week; I’m off to curl up with a book. Ah, Sunday afternoons…

Monday, January 9, 2012

One Little Word

Have decided to forego the traditional new year’s resolution list this year. Looking back over previous years, it seems to be that my resolutions can typically be divided into two camps: the ones I really want to do, and the ones that could be prefixed by the phrase “I really should...”. The ones I want to do I do anyway, and the ones I ‘should’ do usually fall by the wayside (or are actively jettisoned) by about mid-February.

So, I’m going to try out Ali Edwards’ concept, “One Little Word”. For any of you unfamiliar with this, it just means picking one word that sums up what you want to focus on for that year.

My word for 2012 is “SEE”. Decided on that after a passage in a book I was reading late last year jumped out at me:

“It takes close attention to see what is happening in front of you. It takes work, pious effort, to see what you are looking at. He was mesmerised by this, the depths that were possible in the slowing of motion, the things to see, the depths of things so easy to miss in the shallow habit of seeing.”
                                                                              Don De Lillo, Point Omega

It was the last phrase that did it: “the shallow habit of seeing.” It struck me that I do tend to live through a day without often stopping to really see what going on around me. It’s surface-level living, I suppose. When you stop to think about it, life’s full of wonderful, surprising, transient moments, and opportunities to play, appreciate, or connect with people (especially family); I want this to be the year that I start to notice – and act on - them more.

Made this the focus of the first layout of the year. This isn’t for any album, this is to go on the wall as a reminder for me through out the year. Here ‘tis:

I wanted a really striking visual image to go with the word, and this one (which started out life as playing with aperture settings) seemed to fit the bill nicely. I deliberately kept the whole thing very simple, just words + photo, since it’s meant to trigger reflection. Plus, to me anyway, the image is embellishment enough. Actually, as I started to jot down ideas that the word “see” inspired , I was amazed by how much is in it – this could be my One Little Word for the rest of the decade…

Good start to the year. Am going to try and follow Al Hannah's example and finish a layout a week, so so far, so good! (That's not a New Year's Resolution, by the way, that's an intention...Besides, it's a "want to do", not a "should do", so it doesn't count. ;) )

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Starting a new year, and finishing an old project.

Happy new year to you and yours!

I’m feeling pretty excited about finishing off a work-in-progress, and even more excited by how it turned out. I posted some shots of my photo wall way back, and had assembled it on the study wall. Family loved it, but pointed out that I was the only person who could really enjoy it (which was my original intention, actually). Husband suggested an extended version would be just the thing for the dining room wall. And it was so!

Here ‘tis:  (photos are a bit dark, sorry – only photographable at certain times of the day when the light’s not hitting them directly. In retrospect, I probably should have used matt photos…)

The great thing about making it a family wall, rather than one just for me, was hunting out photos that reflected or symbolised our family life. There were unexpected gems everywhere! The photos with our names, for example, I didn’t even take – found them on my phone, after my girl had had a play with it. She’d formed the names out of  Silly Putty and then photographed the results. (Dreadful stuff, Silly Putty. Non-staining? Ppfftt…). And look at these!

Bottle of wine Aaron had in the pantry, and a fence post at a playground. (one of those fences where you can ‘donate’ a paling and have your name or business recorded as a sponsor). Brilliant. J

I’ve got enough tiles in waiting to put another row on each block, but I’ll wait till I have the right photos, rather than filler ones. Plenty of time, and in any case, it’s fine for now.

Off now to pack for family camping holiday. The plan is to leave by . I’m predicting ….I’m sure it will be wonderful, but it’s 41 degrees today, and enthusiasm is waning somewhat. On the plus side, at least we won’t be cold…