Monday, August 24, 2009


My grandpa died at the age of 99 last week. It really wouldn't be appropriate to be sad about it. I did cry, but mostly because this kind of situation brings many feelings to the surface. How I feel about being so far away from my family at such times, how I would feel if my own parents died (omg, don't even want to think about that, but I would truly devastated and depressed.), how fun it would have been to attend his funeral and hear all the stories about him (and how I will miss out on that), how I will feel when my grandma dies, which probably won't be for quite a while, but I wish I could have known my grandpa better.

Well, here is my tribute post to Grandpa, and I will tell a couple stories about him. I am sure my sister or brother could tell it better and they have more stories about him, but I will try anyway. By the way, the photo above was taken about 12 years ago by Amy Oya (then Mortimore) when she came up for a visit during university. She must have thought Grandpa was photogenic because she wanted to practice her photography skills on him. It worked because my family has always loved this photo of him. It captures the essence of who he was.

First, the facts. He was born in 1911 and lived through 2 World Wars and several other smaller ones. He also witnessed the Prohibition, the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement. He saw so many great inventions including television, and sometimes spoke about the going to the World's Fair in Chicago which seemed to make a big impression on him. (I checked, and it seems the World's Fair he attended was sometime in the 1930's.)

Then, more personal stuff. His name was Edward Smitmajer. His parents were immigrants from Bohemia (now part of Czech and Slovakia) who met in Chicago and then moved up to Northern Wisconsin when Eddie was a child. He had two sisters, whom he never got along with well even later in life. He got married late in life (in his late 30's) to Violet Ingalls (a 20 year old hottie) whom he had met on his milk route. She was living on a farm with her foster family at the time and they dated for 5 years before getting married. Rumor has it, though, he was a hound dog who liked his women and his booze. Experiencing life was important to him, and it took old age to force him to settle down more than anything else.

He had many jobs. He owned a truck and hired himself out to help move things for people. He owned an airplane and enjoyed flying. He sold moonshine during the prohibition. He did farming for a while, but never really liked it. He tried to join the military so he could fight for his country, but was turned down because of his foreign accent. (Never could shake that Eastern European accent.) He was a bouncer at a night club, and he drove the school bus.

He and Violet had 2 children. Holly, my mom, and Cindy were 10 years apart. HIs hobbies included fishing, hunting, polka dancing, reading and saving just about everything "for future use." A true depression era man.

The funeral was just today (USA time), and I was thinking about my family at that lucky they are to be together and share their memories about Grandpa. I'll wait a few days before I post about some of the stories because unfortunately, I am very sparse on the details. My brother and dad knew a lot more since they heard the stories over and over. I have to admit that while growing up, I wasn't always listening very closely...shame on me.

July Chronological Album

Over the weekend, I had a chance to finish the July installment of my album, and here it is. Actually, the first lay out in this July section is the birthday lay out I did for Nic Howard's, and I posted that in a previous entry.

Posted by Picasa

(I am new to using Picasa and now this little logo appears underneath my uploads.)
I spent a lot of time on this page, which is something I don't normally do. It was fun putting together the embellishments while trying to follow some of the graphic design rules, such as using 3 things of the same color in a triangle formation. Can you see it?


Now, Luka and Ailin each get their own pages. A Japanese friend made rubber stamps of each of the kids' names as a gift, so I plan to use the stamps on their pages. Can you see her name here?

I didn't clarify in the journaling, but "oneechan ni natta" means, "I became a big sister!"


I made this page very simple and the journaling very short. It is very hard to explain exactly how I feel about welcoming Luka into our family, but he has already had a huge effect on our family dynamics.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Evolutions & Hooked on Jessica Sprague Classes

I have mentioned Jessica Sprague many times recently and you can access her site from the list of my links on the right. She started a web site about 2 years ago in which she offers an array of online courses in Photoshop, photography & digital scrapbooking. Most are paid classes, but some are offered for free. She also sells digital supplies for scrapbooking - imagine digital buttons, ribbons & alphabet letters which once downloaded into your computer, can be used again and again.

Her classes are mainly video-based, and each lesson might have 5 or 6 parts to video. You watch the video and then go back and do the same tasks on your own software. Once you buy the class, you have access forever to those videos so if you need a quick review, you can always do so.

She seems to have a nice teaching nature and it is easy to follow her instructions. Her classes include lots of bonus materials as well. Think in-between lessons on file organization, bonus assignments for those who want extra practice, free downloads of digital supplies from her sponsors for use in the class, but then you own those digital supplies and can use them in other projects.

So, this was the first I had heard of digital buttons. Wow, and you can put a shadow behind them to make them look like you could just pluck them off the page. Of course, I have not gotten that far in my lessons, but I am currently taking my 3rd class offered by Jessica Sprague.

Currently, I am doing a self-paced course called Up & Running with Photoshop. I am also preparing for a course called Beautiful Evidence which starts on Monday of next week. I had to take and prepare over 80 photos for this course, so it has taken a lot of time to do this, but it was great practice for me to use my new camera and then to begin improving the photos in Photoshop before the real work begins next week. By the end of the class, I will have a 22-page digitally-scrapbooked album documenting our life as it is right now. If I did this project again in 10 years, think of how different the album would look.

Anyway, I am so addicted to her classes that I am currently signed up for 8 classes and waiting to sign up for more when they open up registration. Five of my classes are self-paced, and I have to admit that it is harder to stay on top of things because I don't feel as motivated. The live classes definitely force me to do stuff and get it up on the gallery before everyone moves on to the next assignment.

When I finish the Up & Running Class, I will post my first digital scrapbook pages here. I am so excited because I already did 2 pages, and the each took about 10 minutes!!! Granted, I was using already-made templates, but for people who don't have a lot of time or patience, this is the way to go! I know as I learn more about this subject, I will be able to make digital pages from scratch, but for now, I am just a beginner.

Okay, you are probably dying to see at least one page that I made so far. Here it is.

Amazing, right? It took me less than 10 minutes to make this page.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Evolutions: Ventures into Online Learning

The more I was learning about all the new-fangled ways to embellish pages, the more I realized that I had fallen way behind on my craft. That is to say, once I opened that can of worms, I realized there was so much new information out there. Maybe embellishing pages with glitter and spray-paint watercolor was new to me, but it was old hat to many people back in the USA.

First, I had two problems to contend with though.

I noticed that when people looked at my albums, they rarely read the journaling. (It's bad enough that they page through the albums quickly anyway, but what is the point of writing all that journaling if no one reads it?)

The other problem I had was, as mentioned before, my lack of sense (or knowledge) about how to embellish my pages with all the new products out there.

Some of you know that I took an online class last April. The focus of that class was on journaling and how to go deeper with telling your story. The instructor for this class was a writer and scrapbooker. I did post the pages on here (remember Ailin's birthday lay out & also the page about the very first time I saw Yusuke?). I was quite proud of the stories that came out of that class, and it lead me to think more about which stories to tell. For example, "pivotal moments" or turning points in my life is a great topic that could go on forever because I think there were a lot of turning points in my life that lead me to where I am today.

Online classes are fun, especially if time is of the essence. Basically, the instructor gives you an assignment and you have one week to complete it. When finished, you photograph your work, upload it to the classroom gallery for all your classmates to see, and anyone can post comments about your page. The instructor will eventually come around and post comments as well. It's a nice feeling to know that others are looking at your work and saying positive things about it.

These online classes also have forums where classmates can go and ask questions or make comments about anything related to the class. It's a good way to communicate with others who have some of the same issues as you or who can give advice about whatever you posted. The instructor is present on the forums as well and will throw in her comments too.

After the Deep Journaling class finished, I couldn't wait to sign up for another online class through Big Picture Scrapbooking. I signed up for Point of View taught by an Australian woman named Nic Howard. I wasn't sure what to expect, but based on her self-intro, she seemed funny, and her pages seemed to have tons of embellishing on them. This class was also about journaling, but from different perspectives rather than always from your own point of view. Her reasoning was that people might be more interested in your journaling if you write it from, say, your kid's perspective, or you find out what your husband was thinking about at the time, and you use that in your journaling.

Below, I'll show off the 4 assignments I did for this class.

Pre-Class Assignment

I copied her lay out example pretty much right down to the chipboard circle on the lower right. It was my first time to print journaling onto a transparency, to use chipboard on a lay out, to use rubons, to use a photo this huge size, etc. I felt like I had heaved myself over a big steep hill when I finished this lay out.

Note: Yusuke hates this photo of himself, but you have to keep in mind that this was taken in June while I was still in confinement, and we couldn't go outside and take nice family photos.

Birthday-themed Lay out
We were supposed to do a birthday lay out. Since I had already done Ailin's birthday lay out this year, I was kind of stuck on what to do. MY birthday (in July) from a different person's perspective? How weird would that be? It worked out though when I realized how hard a time Yusuke has every year to please both me and his mom on our birthdays, which are one day apart. Poor Yusuke!

Here again, I copied the instructor's example lay out almost exactly. My first time to use paper and photos in such a way, and I was very proud of this lay out. Yusuke thought it had a Japanese flourish to it, but actually I had chosen masculine colors and font to show it was from his point of view. If it had been a lay out from MY perspective, surely the colors would have been pink and green!

Note: Again, Yusuke hates these pictures. Hey, it's not my fault he got his hair colored orange! Anyway, I think I am missing a butterfly from this lay out. Where is that darn thing?

Another Holiday Lay out - from someone else's perspective
Um, okay we did birthdays last week and now we were supposed to do another holiday. The instructor showed an example of an entire mini-album about her friend's Xmas. She challenged us to make mini-albums as well. I was, to say the least, extremely disappointed about this assignment. It's frickin' July and the last thing I want to think about is Xmas. Plus, my Xmas lay outs are all caught up, so WTF? And, as crazy as I am, I definitely did not want to make an entire mini-album in one week, so I just made one lay out about, appropriately enough, Father's Day.

We were supposed to use candid shots as opposed to posed photos, and I just happened to be working on a lay out for Fathers Day. I had taken several candid photos of him "in action" during that weekend, and I wanted to use them for a lay out in the Chrono 2009 album. Perfect timing, I'd say!

Of all the lay outs for this class, I am most proud of this one because it is simple, it fits right in with my normal scrapbooking regime, and using the Xs & Os / TicTacToe metaphor for the lay out was a brilliant and original idea. I did NOT scraplift it from anywhere! The only embellishing is the use of ribbon for making the Xs, and actually the ribbon inspired the color scheme of turquoise and brown, a color combo I had never considered before. The Journaling is supposed to be from Ailin's perspective, and I tried to find a kiddy type font to use for it.

Assignment 3 - About YOU from another person's perspective
I wasn't too sure about this assignment at first either. We were supposed to brainstorm a list of all the relationships in our life, and all the roles we play. For example, I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a friend, a best friend, an AFWJ member, a gaijin, a dog owner, working mom, a teacher, etc. Then, we were supposed to think of all the relationships in our life, even relationships with, like, the guy who delivers your weekly Co-op order. I thought it was weird at first, but when I sat down to write my list, I very soon had a whole page of various relationships in my life, and a whole new slew of possible page themes opened up to me.

I chose to do something related to my closest friends back home. I have an entire album dedicated to them and their lives, which I update to include their wedding photos, their babies, etc. So, why not ask them to write something about me and make a page out of it? I emailed each of them and asked them to briefly describe me in words or phrases. Each friend wrote back within a couple days, and it was so great to read what they wrote.

Note: I am actually a bit embarrassed about putting this lay out up on my blog, but if my friends can't say anything nice about me, than who the heck can? Thank you, Shannon, Jill, Amy, Sara & Amy. I really appreciate your nice words and compliments about me, and I and my kids will treasure this forever. This brings to an important point: wouldn't it be lovely to see a lay out about your own mom and what her friends like about her? or what comes to mind when they think of her? I would have loved that too.

Assignment 4 - Passing on your wisdom
For our last assignment, I ended up doing 2 separate lay outs, but they are kind of related to each other, so I designed them to look similar. We were supposed to include a photo of ourselves and then think about the phrase "hindsight is 20/20." The instructor showed an example using song lyrics, and she said the lay out was for her daughter, to pass on wisdom to her.

I thought, "well, my daughter is 2 1/2 years old, and all she cares about right now is whether their are popsicles in the freezer and how many times I will let her watch the Wiggles DVD this week." As I began making a list of my "hindsight is 20/20" thoughts, I also thought about what Ailin would say if she could express herself completely. What kind of advice would she dole out to someone even younger than herself? This is the list I came up with. It turned out to be a mixture of things we repeatedly tell her, things she seems to really care about, and things she is probably just starting to figure out on her own.

I really enjoyed making this lay out because for the first time, I did the photo and text in Photoshop and printed it myself. I chose the color combo based on suggestions in a magazine, and just played around with the embellishments until I had created something I liked.

Last Assignment - What I know now (33)
Since scrapbookers have a hard time including lay outs about themselves, the instructor assigned us to do this last one about ourselves. It's hard to get a good photo of me. (Yusuke always takes very blurry photos.) I took this one in the bathroom mirror, thus the strap is hanging down. The list could have gone on and on, but I think I came up with some good ones for the journaling. And, the color scheme, also was suggested in a magazine. You can see that the lay out is similar to the Please Remember lay out above.

So, that was the end of the class. I am really not sure where to go with it now, but I will think about how to make my journaling more interesting, especially in the Chrono albums, from here on out. However, many of these interesting topics don't really fit into Chrono Albums. I'll touch on that topic in a future post.

Next Topic: Evolutions & Hooked on Jessica Sprague Classes

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Evolutions: The Challenges of Chrono Albums

In response to Shannon, I went to a monthly Craft n Chat today and again, someone mentioned having all kinds of CM stuff she had bought in the past but never actually used...couldn't be bothered. Hey, everyone has priorities in life - what they will and won't spend money and time on - she was quilting by hand. I don't have much interest in that. My sister is absolutely crazy about quilting and is extremely talented at it, but she thinks I am nuts to be wasting my time on paper albums. To each her own, I say. I will write about more simple album projects that I have done in my next post...projects that are doable by people who don't have the time or money to spend. And, don't get me wrong...there ARE people out there are crazier about scrapbooking than I am, and I look at what they are doing and think, "Wow, that is really beautiful, but not something I could do myself."

Okay, this time I want to talk about the challenges of keeping up with chronological albums. I mean, chronos are wonderful because it feels like you are scrapbooking every photo. Actually, you would not be. I take about 200 photos a month, but I only use about 40 of those photos in my scrapbook. So, I have to choose the photos that look the best, tell the story in the best way, and can be cropped in a way that will fit in my lay outs. Sometimes, I have to alter lay outs for the sake of the photos, but mostly, I try to take photos that will fit in my lay outs. I usually have in mind, for every photo I take, exactly what that photo is for. For example, if I take photos of our disasterous Family Nites, I know I am going to use them for a nice Family Nite lay out, so I take a series of photos that will tell the story of what our family nites are like. Note: that was just an example. I am dreaming here 'cause it ain't happening yet.

However, the problem with doing 6 lay outs per month (8 pages) meant that my albums were growing to be huge. Imagine 20 years of chrono albums taking up space in your house? My solution for this was to lessen the amount of pages and lay outs for each month in 2009. So, now, each month gets a Family Highlights double spread, an Ailin page, a Luka page, a New to Us page, and if there are some special holidays or events that month, I will do an extra lay out to capture that story.

The next problem I had with my 2008 Chrono album was that I was getting bored with using the same 20 lay outs over and over, so I needed to up the ante a bit.

25 Chrono 2009 - Highlights
See any differences? Probably not at first glance, but rather than choose from a very stingy amount of lay outs for each month, I invested in 2 books (Page Maps by Becky Flick and Best of Becky Higgins Sketches) which I keep on my desk at all times and from there I choose the lay outs each month. Either that, or I get inspired from lay outs I see in magazines. Plus, I have more freedom, so if we have an especially eventful month, I can make more lay outs to capture what we did, and vice versa for those boring months (like August) where we just stay inside all day and night. I only do the calendar page if we have had an eventful month.

26 Chrono 2009 Disneyland

New to Ailin (June)

New to Ailin (May)

Still, I was getting slightly bored again. Need more stimulation, and the more I read in my scrapbook magazines, the more I realized how stuck in a rut I was, and that I was not moving forward in developing my skills for what they call "papercrafting."

Living in Japan, and being sort of closed off from meeting others who are just as nuts about scrapbooking as I am, being unable to browse through craft stores, etc. has lead to me to just rely on CM products mainly. CM does not "do embellishing" of pages; that is to say that they CM Japan does not sell anything but paper, stickers and of course albums. Reading magazines was not really getting me anywhere if I couldn't get a hold of the products, but that is no excuse.

So, I started ordering some things from the internet, and getting some things from Kirsten, who was willing to pick stuff up for me on her shopping trips to Tokyo, but I had another problem. I really had no clue how to embellish my pages, how to use these cool new products, and to be honest, I felt I had no sense for it.

Here is an example of when I was starting to experiment more and more with embellishments. It's still simple, but it was enough to impress Yusuke when he saw the pages.

27 Chrono 2009 Golden Week Adventures

Next up: Evolutions & Ventures into Online Learning

Monday, August 10, 2009

Breaktime - Amazing Results

The other day, Yusuke wanted to use a couple photos of the kids to make our summer greeting postcards (okay, that is a total Japanese thing so don't ask!). I very quickly chose a few photos, and using my skills I learned in Jessica Sprague's Photoshop class, I touched up the photos. We were really amazed at the results! I will never be the same again!

Here is the before and after:

This was a self-paced course, and I just finished it recently. Totally worth it!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Evolutions: Foray into the Chronological Realm

Shannon's comment after the last post about how my beautiful albums almost made her want to start scrapbooking...almost. That says it all about the kind of saleswoman I was when I very briefly was a consultant for Creative Memories Japan. I came across people like that all the time, and I seriously could find no way of breaking through to them. Oh well...thus I am no longer a consultant.

Anyway, on with Chrono albums:
Many people dream of scrapbooking all of their photos only to find it is an impossible dream. Others do it anyway.

I couldn't stand feeling guilty about not scrapbooking our lovely everyday lives, so I decided to give it a try, but it would have to be A. doable, B. simple, C. possible to keep up with it even while working a full time job, and D. interesting.

So, I did two things. At the beginning of 2008, I made a plan for 2008's Chronological Album. Remember that I did do a semi-chrono for 2005, but I made it in 2006 and I finished it late that year. There was no planning involved and certainly no separation between months. I was completely bored with making pages about things that had happened over a year before. This time, I wanted to keep up so that I would finish each month before the end of the following month - for example, July's section would be finished before the end of August.

The 2nd thing I did was to help establish the monthly Craft n Chat event for AFWJ Chiba members (and other foreigners in Chiba are welcome too!). This event motivates me to keep on task so that by the day of the event, I am ready to glue down the paper and photos.

In order to establish this goal, I decided that each month would be allowed 8 pages (1 opening page featuring a calendar and small photos showing dates and some events that occurred then; 1 double spread showing highlights of the month; 1 single spread about ME and/Yusuke; 1 single spread about Ailin; 1 double spread about Ailin & us; 1 closing spread about New Developments for our family (like, a new TV, or Ailin's learning to walk, etc.). After researching in magazines and books, I sketched in my notebook 3 possible lay outs for each of these single and double spreads. On the first day of each month, I sat down at my computer to choose which photos I would use for previous month, which lay outs for each spread, then I ordered the photos to be developed by in the necessary sizes and waited. Two weeks later when my photos came back in the mail, I would use CM paper from a certain set to create my lay outs. Very few, if any, stickers, were used and absolutely no embellishing. I did the journaling on the computer, usually during breaks at work, and later printed it onto vellum, cut it and placed it on my lay outs. The whole process usually took 3 weeks so that I would be completely finished about one week before the next month.

It was becoming like a science to me...this whole scrapbooking process, and I was quite proud of myself. In case you're wondering how I managed while working full time, I'll admit that I tried to do a little bit every day. Sometimes during break times at work because, once uploaded into my site, I could crop and order photos from any computer. Since I had broken the process into several steps, it was possible to do a little each day.

At some point, I got a Cricut machine for Xmas from my mom. I had begged for it. It's a machine which you can use to cut titles.

17 Planning Cricut - Chrono 2008
So, main things about my style in the Chrono albums: Fancy-schmancy titles cut by my new cricut machine, little to no embellishing, repeating lay outs through out.

18 Chrono 2008 March
Ah, the month that Uncle Christian (my sister's husband) and cousin Oliver visited us. I'll show the whole month from start to finish. First up is the Calendar page.

19 Chrono 2008 March Highlights
The the highlights of March. I handwrote the journaling this time, which was quite rare for this album.

20 Chrono 2008 March 2 singles
The left lay out shows us at the zoo. The right lay out shows us going out to view the cherry blossoms. The lay outs are the same but opposite, and I often do this for lay outs that are across from each other. I always save memorabilia in a ziploc bag (one for each month, and then emptied and reused a few months later), so sometimes ticket stubs and the like make it onto the pages. In this case, the zoo ticket matched the color of paper perfectly, and my cherry blossom Starbucks cup just happened to break that month. I pulled out the plastic decor from the innards of the cup and used it on this lay out. It looks very mysterious. People always ask about it.

21 Chrono 2008 March Ailin's double spread
Ailin always gets her own double spread to show some special things she has experienced this month. This time, it was naturally the visit with Uncle Christian and Oliver. That explains why the zoo the cherry blossom viewing ended up on the lay out before. Normally, I would have featured a lay out about something special Yusuke or I had done, and you'll see an example of that later.

22 Chrono 2008 March New to Us
Finally, a the section end page is always called New to Us and features anything new in our lives, including material things, but more importantly, new developments for Ailin. Why is there a large photo of a strange man holding her? Read the journaling to find out.

23 Chrono 2008 Highlights
Now that I have shown you an entire month, I'll show you just a few more of my favorite pages from 2008. This first one, entitled "Spring is in the Air" is the highlights page for the month of April. I love this lay out because it is very business-like, and it shows all the fun stuff we did this month, but you can see it was nothing huge. Nothing major really happened in April that year, but sometimes that is a good thing, right!?

24 Chrono 2008 2 singles
Here is my infamous "Me-time" lay out. By infamous, I mean that often scrapbookers tend not to make lay outs about themselves, so I often tried to include a few pages here and there about what I was up to, or what Yusuke was up to if I could get any photos of that. On the right is a Ailin's first time to visit the Narita Dream Farm...what fun. It had been raining heavily in the days before we went and so it was muddy and gross.

2008 Chrono ended up taking 2 CM albums. Can you imagine having 2 albums for each year from here on out? Plus, I was getting slightly bored and I really needed to change things up a bit.

Next up: The Challenge of Committing to Chrono Albums

Seriously Crazy Family Photo

I just had to take a break from my series of Evolutions posts to put up this absolutely crazy family photo. It comes to me from Amy Oya who took it during her visit with us last week.

It is the only photo she took of us all together, and the only photo I have of us all together since ... I don't even know when, several months ago, probably and before Luka was born.

What is so hilarious is that I was on the search for a photo that represents "US - Right Now" for an online class I signed up for. The class starts at the end of August, but until then, we have been assigned to gather or take a variety of photos to use. The "US-Right Now" has been found, most definitely!

Thank you, Amy.

(Oh, and in case you were wondering about the jarring new photo at the header of my blog, I DO realize it is sideways. Let's just say I was experimenting, replaced the photo with another really awesome sunset photo I happened upon when searching through my archives, realized it doesn't fit right when placed vertically, couldn't get it to fit right no matter what I tried, then couldn't remember where to find the original sunset photo I had. So, here it remains until I decide what to do. If it is too jarring for you every time you open the blog, let me know.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Evolutions & Turning Points

My real turning point in Scrapbooking was in 2005. Then, it became serious business for me. I think I was finally getting the hang of it.

As I searched for new techniques and ideas, I came across a magazine called Simple Scrapbooks. One of the writers for this magazine, Cathy Zielske, often referred to her book in her columns. I liked her columns, so I ordered the book Clean & Simple Scrapbooking. Her focus was on graphic design principles, but she wrote about all kinds of things - color combinations, lay outs, computer fonts, etc. I fell in love with scrapbooking all over again.

So, out of guilt for the many unused photos in my life, I decided to try making a chronological album of our life in 2005, and I was determined to use many of the ideas from Cathy's book. This is an album I truly treasure now because it shows what our married life was like BEFORE KIDS, DOGS, CARS, MORTGAGES, etc. We lead a simple life in our tiny apartment, riding bicycles every where, or gasp, walking! We drank, we ate junkfood, we stayed up all night watching movies, we slept late...oh, was that really us? Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

10 2005 Chrono - Dinks and Moms
Wow, see the difference Cathy made in my life? Good color combo, even margins, printing directly on cardstock...I will never be the same.

11 2005 Chrono - Bonds
Designing a page with only ONE photo. That was a new one for me. Who wastes an entire page on just one photo? Turns out it was trendy at the time. I still love this photo and journaling, and color combo.

12 2005 Chrono - Tokyo Disneyland
Taking photos of details...that was new to me as well. Using the little square punch tool to crop details out of photos was a great way to make borders or just have fun with lay outs. Putting photos next to each other rather than spacing them around the page. Leaving photos in their original square or rectangle form. Look, Ma, no circles!

Also, you can't tell from my samples, but I was experimenting with title treatment in this album, so I sometimes painted my titles with acrylic paints, stamped them, wrote them by hand, etc.

I was on a roll now. Searching for more album projects I could do and wanting to put my photos in albums rather than leaving them in shoeboxes (Amy!), I decided to do an album of my trips home to the USA. Each trip is given 6 pages (2 double spreads, a section page at the beginning and end). It's a great way to summarize the trip and show what was important.

13 Magazine style - Trips Home
Notice the photos flush against each other. Notice the varying sizes of photos. I was now ordering my photos from an online developer ( and was doing the cropping online. Cathy's influence came also in the form of using one large photo as the focus of the page and then smaller ones to show details or other events.

Also, the beautiful, clever magazine style Journaling. I still look at these pages and laugh when I read them. Cathy has a way of journaling about the most mundane things, but she makes them seem so funny. I also need to credit my great friend Kirsten Woest (scrapbook supplier and advisor also) who helped me design the titles with the red and black ink, overlaying words. Very clever, Kirsten.

14 Magazine style - Trips Home
Another example just to show how fun this album is and a great treasure for anyone involved in these trips. My family loves to see the updates. The section end page always has a journaling box highlighting all the things that went wrong on the trip, so I can remember what NOT to do next time!

My next big project, after making an entire album about my pregnancy...yes, you read that pregnancy with Ailin, I went about making an album to commemorate her first year. This stretched into two thick 12x12 albums. Overkill? Yes, I would agree with you on that!

15 Ailin's First Year - Daily Routines
My big focus here was in album planning and lay outs. After scouring magazines and books about scrapbooking, I chose about 20 lay outs that I really liked and sketched them in my notebook. To keep things simple, I basically designed pages based only on those 20 lay outs. It worked well, and it allowed me to make the pages quickly. I kept embellishing to a minimum, and only used stickers here and there. I handwrote all the journaling so that I could write even while nursing Ailin.

16 Ailin's First Year - First Trip to Wisconsin
Had to include this here since some of my readers will see their own photos up here. It also shows an example of a double page spread using large and small photos. I very rarely cropped photos to circles for this album, just to keep things extremely simple, but this is one where I did have to use a compass to cut such a large circle from an 8x10 photo.

Next up: My foray into the Chronological World

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Well, that was a fun meander through memory lane. I noticed Amy Oya makes an appearance on 3 of the pages I featured yesterday. (Correction: She is only on 2 of the lay outs, but she was present at the wedding. She acted as our interpreter for the Japanese guests!)

After arriving in Japan, I felt sort of empty without my hobby. I mean, everyone needs a hobby, right? When my parents visited us in 2003, I asked Mom to bring some of my scrapbooking stuff with her. Thank god she did. As soon as they left, I set up a table in the corner of our tatami room and got to work making an album to commemorate their trip to Japan. I was finally starting to feel like my old self again!

Having been out of commission for more than 2 years, I began studying up on new techniques and I soon found there was a whole world of scrapbooking out there. In fact, there was more to scrapbooking than Creative Memories. This theme has come again in my life recently, but at that time, I discovered their were lots of techniques and ideas that CM had never promoted, so when I made our Music Tour album, I decided to employ several new crafting techniques just to challenge myself.

6 Music City Tour - Old Spaghetti Factory in Nashville.
I love Nashville, if you didn't already guess that. My lay outs started looking a little better, and I even printed small sized photos on my home printer once in a while. I also started to do my journaling on the computer, but rather than print directly on the card stock, I used MS word to change the colors of text boxes. At the time, I thought I was ultra-cool. I also used ribbons and brads...ooh ooh la la.

7 Music City Tour - More brads and oh, sepia toned photos!
Yes, I really got into using brads for a while. Then, I also printed some of the photos in sepia tone to give it an old-fashioned look. And, rather than printing on regular paper, I printed my journaling and sub-titles on vellum. That began my love affair with vellum. By the way, my husband said his head spins when he looks at this page. A little too much for the eye to handle, perhaps?

8 Almost been to Graceland - Brads, torn photo mats, crumbled paper, ribbon
What more could you ask for? I was really experimenting with this album!

9 Fun collages with text and photos
I went through a phase where I wanted to make collages out of my photos. It was trendy at the time! I didn't want to forget all the cool names of New Orleans food that we either ate or read on menus. The design is supposed to resemble a window pane, much like those you would see in the French Quarter. Looking back, I am not sure why I chose to use orange though! I am pretty sure there are no orange window panes there!

After this album, everything changed for me! Just you wait!


Cool title, right? You probably thought I was going to write about the evolution of my personality, or my thoughts on motherhood, or maybe even my international marriage. Not so! I am going to bore you (but totally psych myself up) with my evolution in scrapbooking.

Why? I am addicted to the fairly new blog called Write.Click.Scrapbook brought about by some of the former writers and contributors of Simple Scrapbooks magazine. In their first month of blogging together, many of them shared their own stories of scrapbooking evolution, and it made me think back over the past 10 years. I wanted to share my own story with SOMEONE, so I'll put it here.

I started scrapbooking (the Creative Memories way) in 1999, just after college graduation. My friend, Carrie Lex, had invited me to CM workshop. Carrie and I had only recently reunited since being estranged from each other through high school. She was one of my best friends in junior high...long story there. So, I treaded carefully, but I wanted to see what this was all about, and I thought it would be a nice way for Carrie and I to get to know each other again.

I made my first page, and I was immediately hooked. Forget about forging bonds with Carrie. I just wanted to make more pages! (Just kidding...scrapbooking together did help us get closer again, but I am not sure how often she scrapbooks these days. She has 3 kids to care for plus a full time job.)

1 First Page Ever ... Graduation Trip with friends, in Nashville
Notice the wonderful photo shapes? What shape is that, by the way?

I continued on my with pages to create my first album...a compilation of the good times we had in college - Spring Breaks, Halloween Parties, Graduation. Then I continued to scrap about my new life as a full-fledged working adult, so page themes included things like birthday parties, summer day trips, concerts, music festivals, etc. I call it my "Back when I was young and single" album.

2 Spring Break in New Orleans
Notice the post card cut in half diagonally? Clever, right? I needed a way to use those beautiful postcards I procured during my travels, so this was a trick I often used. Also, notice the journaling DIRECTLY on the white part of the page? More on that later.

3 Growing Up - 2 years old
Wow, Ailin is 2 years old right now, so it's funny to look at this page & see some similarities. What is NOT FUNNY about this page is how I cropped the hell out of all my photos. I think all scrappers go through this phase. They fall in love with the cropping tools and then they want to crop their photos down to nothing. No wonder my dad was extremely annoyed by my new hobby. He barely looks at my albums, even now, and I think it is because he was so upset about this particular album. I should apologize right here and now to my whole family for cutting up these photos. If I could do it all over, I would have scanned them or made color copies and used those for scrapbooking. Sorry!!!!!
Also, notice journaling directly on the white portion of the page. This was before it became trendy to cover your page with mounting paper. Then, if you make a mistake or need to move a lay out, you can easily make changes without ruining the page. See how one photo has been removed and the journaling has been whited-out? I noticed later that one of the photos didn't belong on my "2 years old" page and I had to move it.

4 Wedding - Album Preparation
Ah, the precious wedding album that everyone must feel obligated to make. I made mine in 4 days. Don't believe me? I needed to finish it quickly in the time I had between the wedding and then moving to Japan, so I developed a little system. I was so proud of myself. I decided the colors (blue & yellow), and I went through my paper stacks and pulled out all shades of blue and yellow. I also had leftover paper from the cardstock I had used for the menus and name cards, so I pulled that too. Back then, triangles were all the rage for using on lay outs and behind photos, so I cut lots and lots of triangles. I also cut lots of journaling boxes. Then, I organized my photos, decided how many would fit on a page, and put them in order. I cropped all the photos.
Two things - Pre-planning entire albums in this way was not actually "trendy" until later. And, journaling boxes were not trendy either! I got the idea for the former from those mini scrapbooking kits CM used to sell for weddings and births. All the papers were pre-cut and you just followed a lay out guide. I decided a similar thing could be done to create an entire 12x12 album. I won't go so far as to say that I invented these techniques because shortly thereafter CM began promoting them for all albums. However, at a CM workshop I attended while working on my wedding album, a few of the ladies there got really snippy with me because I was finishing my pages at record speed. One lady was working on the same page for 3 hours, and I had finished about 20 pages in that time.

5 Wedding - No titles, no lay out
Okay, the bad...notice the lack of titles and the lack of a lay out. I mean, I hadn't learned yet that their are certain principles involved in lay out design.

I thought my scrapbooking days were over when I moved to Japan in 2001, as I retired all my tools & paper rather than packing it in my suitcase. This is a good time to take a break, and I'll continue my story tomorrow.