Monday, July 26, 2010

Baking with Grama!

My mom has been visiting for the last couple of weeks! One of the things we look forward to when she visits twice a year is having her bake her bread for us. It is amazing how she can mix up a batch of bread without using a recipe. I remember my grandmother baking bread, too. I love that Abbie was able to get bread-baking lessons from her grama. Precious family memories and traditions!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quality, not Quantity...

Having a great scrapbooking weekend on Topsail Island! Ten of us are making digital and traditional pages, eating {lots of yummy food!!!}, laughing, and enjoying the beach! Here is one of my pages... I unexpectedly, accidentally took this great shot of Jacob last week and had to devote a page to it. Maybe I will get a few more done before the weekend is over!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Man on a Mission!

Sunday morning after church, we checked Zachary in and dropped him off to head out for his first mission trip! More than 60 of our middle school youth, along with at least a dozen leaders, went to Kentucky to minister to children for the week. We haven't been in touch with Zachary, except for a quick phone call to let us know he had arrived and was ok.

I am praying that his heart will be touched during this trip, and that his faith will be strengthened. I pray that he, and the other youth, will truly be a blessing to others. I pray for a lasting impact from this week of service. This morning I got the following message in an email from our youth pastor:

Since our teams have now finished their first day ministering to the children and giving their reports tonight (Tuesday), I wanted to relay some of the students' comments.

* God has brought us here for a reason.

* This trip isn't about us; it’s about these children and Jesus.

* I didn't know how I would make it a week w/o my iPod. After seeing these children (who don't even have things like that and seeing how happy they are because we would want to play with them with a ball), has caused me to wonder why I think I need "technology" to make me happy.

* When we were leaving and I saw the 8 year old boy that I'd played with walking by himself in the rain and the mud to where his mom works, I realized how sad that was and how thankful I need to be for my parents who take care of me.

* We need to be thankful for having parents who teach us the difference (between right and wrong), because some of these children don't have those kind of parents.

* When I asked her what she wanted me to (face)paint on her, she said a "C". I asked if she would like for me to paint her whole name and she said "if it’s not asking too much." She actually was afraid of asking too much of me.

* (different situation)... then I was able to share the gospel with her and she accepted Christ!

These were some of the comments shared by 25 of our students. There will be more during the next two nights. Thank you for your prayers.

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" ~Isaiah 52:7

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"I can do this myself!"

Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet a sweet friend for some yummy iced lemonade-green tea, and to chat about having me create a predecorated album for her to give as a gift. Her friend is in the process of adopting a 2 year old little girl. Susan wanted to give her an album that was ready for the mom to add photos and introduce this precious child to her new forever-family.

I love it when people decide to give albums for gifts! What could be more personal or perfect, no matter who it is for?! And I feel honored and blessed when I can be involved in the process.

Since this album was going to be handled by a toddler, I recommended the 8x8 PicFolio Max that has slip-in pockets for each scrapbook page. These albums are so durable, and great for little hands. I just happened to bring with me the Family Quick Kit to show Susan.

Well, it turns out that Susan absolutely loved the Family Quick Kit and the 8x8 album that coordinates! She thought it really fit her friend. When she saw the predecorated pages and the fun stickers and tags... she realized that she didn't need to hire me, after all! She said, "I can do this myself."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Easy Power Layouts

Abbie often asks me if we can do something together. She also noticed that while our family scrapbooks are "almost" caught up, her own scrapbook hasn't been updated since she was about 5 years old. So, for her birthday, I gave her a new album and some supplies. Yesterday, she was excited to work on her album. I intended to start her out right, so I led her through the Power Layouts technique!

Power Layouts is a method that is used to pre-plan an album using a sort of assembly-line process. It is one of my favorite speed techniques. When I am making a custom album for a client, I always start the project by doing Power Layouts for the whole book. When I am working on my own projects, I do the same. I have a number of customers who are very successful with keeping up on their albums because they have learned to make use of Power Layouts!

Step One: First you choose the photos you are going to use. It doesn't have to be every picture in a stack. We went into Abbie's Power Sort Box and picked out photos from the first several months of 2004. She immediately rejected any picture in her pile that didn't include her! The point is to narrow it down so that you are using the best pictures to represent an event. I try to keep in mind that each page will typically include 2-5 pictures. I also tend to limit most events to no more than two pages. Also, some photos won't fit into an event category, but are still worthy of going into an album. Go ahead and choose them, too!

Step Two: The next step is to lay out planning pages to start the Power Layout process. I use a combination of scrapbook pages and Power Layout Guides that come with the Power Layouts Kit. The white pages, above, represent scrapbook pages. The grey can be another scrapbook page, or a Power Layout Guide. The guides are nice because when it comes time to assemble the pages, you will only be attaching paper and pictures to the actual scrapbook page... with Guides, you won't make the mistake of attaching your layout to a filler page. I also lay out the planning pages so that I have my first page of the book, and then a series of two-page spreads.

Now, this step can take up a bit of room. But it is adaptable to whatever space you have available. You can do Power Layouts on an empty table, or across several tables. You can lay out pages in small batches using up the space you have, going through all of the following steps, then repeat the process. In my custom albums, I used lay out 90 pages on the floor, snaking around the house from the entry to the living room, to the dining room, and back again to the entry!

Step Three: The third step is to deal out all the photos onto the pages and Layout Guides. This is a quick process that gives you an overview of your album! At this point you will see if you have too many pictures for one layout, and how many two-page spreads you might need. You will also eliminate some pictures as you see that they may be redundant, or not as good as some others you have.

I like to have two-page spreads... so in this step, I can see if some of my layouts fall that way or not. I usually scrapbook chronologically, but I will rearrange the order of my pages, if necessary, to get my layouts to fall into two-page spreads. I also see if I have random photos that will group together into topical layouts. For instance, last year I had photos from three separate snow days. It made more sense to group them all into one snow layout. Power Layouts has the advantage of giving you that big-picture view of your scrapbook so that you can group photos in a way that is most efficient for the flow of the book.

Step Four: The fourth step is to crop, or trim, all the pictures that have been dealt out onto the planning pages, and to make a preliminary arrangement of the layout on the page. My preference is to group the photos close together, leaving open areas around the page for journaling, embellishments, and titles. I did notice that once I started printing digital photos, my need to crop my pictures was dramatically reduced. But these older pictures needed some help to remove background clutter and focus in on the subject. If you have any memorabilia, this would be the step to add that, as well.

Step Five: Now the fun begins! In step five, we start to choose the papers that will go with each page. Sheets of scrapbook paper can be left whole, or cut down to make it go further. You can stop with choosing the background paper, or also go ahead and choose the mats, journal boxes, stickers, and other embellishments that will go on the page. Those items will be be dealt out onto the pages, ready for the assembly step.

Step Six: In Step Six, you are basically done with Power Layouts! You stack up the planned pages, with the first page on top and the last page on the bottom. You can then store them in the box that comes with the Power Layouts Kit. Some people do this step at home, then just bring their Power Layouts Box with them to a workshop and assemble their pages. I have other croppers who do Power Layouts on 6 or 8 pages, complete the pages, then do Power Layouts again. Some like to do a batch of Power Layouts at my workshops, then do their assembly at home. It is all about what works for you!

Step Seven: This is the time to be creative and play! The first steps of Power Layouts are where a lot of decision-making is done and less creativity is needed. In this final step, you are assembling the pages, and adding decorative touches. You will pull out the first page from the Power Layouts Box, adhere it and complete it, turn it over, and then continue on with the next layout in your box. It is great because if you just have a few minutes, you can pick up where you left off and complete a page. Some people say they don't have room to scrapbook, or don't want to pull everything out... well, with this step all you need is your Power Layouts Box, and adhesive!

Abbie did great! We spent about 15 minutes on the Power Layouts. Less than 3 hours later, she had TWELVE completed pages!!! Are you ready to try some Power Layouts for yourself???

Monday, July 5, 2010

Preparing for a Productive Retreat!

Only 18 more days until our crop retreat at the beautiful beach!!! Ten of us will enjoy a great weekend away. We will have fabulous food, great girlfriend time, the opportunity to relax and enjoy the wonderful setting, and also get some scrapbooking done. I can't wait!!!

Every year my mom attends quilt camp, which is basically the same concept as a crop retreat. She comes home refreshed and feeling like she got a lot accomplished! Before she goes, she decides on her projects, cuts out all her fabric blocks, and organizes her supplies. When she gets to the retreat, she is focussed on her sewing: getting it done!

Do you ever get time away to work on your hobby? Maybe it is not an entire weekend... maybe it's just a night, or an extended day, or even a weekly date with a friend. How can you make that time as productive as possible? I think preparation is the key!
  1. Before the retreat, think about your goals for the weekend. How much do you want to accomplish? What project or projects do you want to work on or complete? Do you have a deadline? Are you one to focus on just one project for the entire time, or do you need a few things to work on depending on your mood and energy levels? Ask yourself these questions, and establish your goals.

  2. Now that you know your goals, think about what supplies you may need. Go ahead and pull out a tote or box, and start gathering up what you know you will use or may want to include. Think through your projects and make a list of what you still need. This gives you time to order or shop for additional supplies. Do you need to get pictures printed or enlargements made? Do your photos need to be organized? I always prefer to have too much, than to be stranded without something I need!

  3. To maximize my scrapbooking time, I love using the Power Layouts technique. This is a way to pre-plan pages so that some of the thinking is done ahead of time. Before my retreat, I have a couple of Power Layouts workshops scheduled so my ladies can come and get ready. Just going through your photos and picking out the ones that will end up on pages helps a lot, too. Any time spent organizing pictures ahead of time gives your mind a chance to start generating ideas, so that when you actually sit down to make pages, you are not starting from scratch.

The more you plan and prepare beforehand, the more you will accomplish at the retreat. Your number one goal should be to have a good time and enjoy your getaway! I usually never accomplish as much as I hoped to, but I always come home loving all that I got done!!!

What helps you to be productive with your cropping time?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

11 Wonderful Years!

Daddy's girl... (he calls her whirl)...

Holds her own against her brothers...

Full of personality, has her own unique style, and is always dramatic...

Beautiful, sweet, and creative...

I love my Abbie-girl!!!!! Happy 11th Birthday to our beautiful young lady!!! We love you so much.
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