Saturday, November 30, 2013

Roundup and Recap - November 2013

Hello, hello! November is nearly over, so I believe it's time for a little R and R. And by that, I mean...

That's right! Welcome to the end-of-month, newsletter style post, here at The Mailbox.

This is the time and place where I will share what has caught my eye around the web, things I am loving, what I hope to try soon, and more...

Let's jump right in, shall we?

Last month I began a series here at The Mailbox, and in just one short week, we will be wrapping it up. I have had more fun exploring the ins and outs of how we can make the most of our time and fit in the creativity that we long for.

In case you missed and of this series, I have created a new button on the sidebar that will contain all of the posts, in chronological order, for your reading pleasure...

I also put one of my past R&R spotlights to use and made some of my own cork embellishments. Here they are on a layout....

Thanks again for that awesome inspiration, Tammy!

I also enrolled in Wilna's Art Class 2 and have watched every video over and over again. It is just SO full of inspiration and has made me step out of my comfort zone quite a bit... always a good thing!

In my last post, I shared a chalkboard style layout that was inspired by her class. 

You may remember that I have had a hard time incorporating the chalkboard trend in my own personal scrapbooking?

Well, I am not sure I feel any different about it, but I love that this workshop made me try it more :)
Thanks again to Wilna, I also put an old and favorite supply from my art school days to good use... Masking Fluid.

It is so fun and really does hold so many possibilities for scrapbooking. The layout below uses that material and was aldo inspired by a beautiful layout by Anna-Maria:

And finally, I was honored to have another guest post up on, exploring Five Ways To Scrap With the Color Purple.

There is always so much fabulous inspiration all over the blogosphere and such! I try my best to peruse my favorites on a regular basis and here is what I found most notable this month:

First up, I have shared the work of the amazingly talented Andrea before, but it must be mentioned again. Twice. 

Yep! She blows me away and has become one of my most favorite stops in blogland.

First up is a tutorial she shared on the Simon Says Stamp Blog...
It is truly inspiring and had me running to the fabric store for some goodies!

Up next, she shares an amazing use for some unlikely materials...
I know you will be as inspired as I was!

Now, for something fun and random...
A dear friend shared this link with me and it's too cute not to share. Take a look at how this clever mom is taking advantage of her sleeping newborn to grab some very imaginative photos:

Now, I must admit, I would never take the time to put something like this together, but it is indeed total cuteness!

Ah yes, the brain is always rattling around with things...
  • Mixed media, mini books, and etsy...
  • Christmas decor, balls, and mailboxes...
  • Gift wrapping, doilies, and sequins...

We are already two prompts underway in the fun and FREE Holiday Storytellers e-class. If you haven't signed up, please do so!
Once you sign up, you will receive an email per day including a photo and a prompt to aid you in your holiday documenting. Click on that link above to read more. I am really excited to be a part of this and I just know that it will give me some great ideas as I work through my Christmas Album this December!

Speaking of my Christmas Album, I will be sharing more very soon!

I have also been a crafting mad woman the past few weeks and will have lots of fun things to share with the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Blog and A Flair For Buttons in the coming month. Maybe even a video or two :)

And, you might just hear me sometime soon.... (hint, hint)

See you soon!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fitting It All In - So You Want to Blog Too?

Hello there and happy Friday! Welcome back to the Fitting It All In series here at PurpleMailbox. If you missed the previous posts, you can check them out here:
I have loved getting all of your comments and questions as we move along in this series. I am working on putting a post with all of your tips and questions compiled. In the meantime, Cheryl, asked a question that I thought was worthy of it's own post...

How Do You Find Time to Blog?

Sure, it's one thing to make something, but to photograph it, upload the pictures, write about it, etc, etc... Well, that must just take some super human time management, right?

Nah. It's not too hard. In fact, before I started my blog, I took Shimelle's Blogging for Scrapbookers Course. It was priceless! It really took the mystery out of this whole blogging thing for me. 

But, before we get to that, let's take a step back...

Why Do You Want to Blog?

Cheryl didn't ask me this question, but I think it is an important one to answer. If you are also a blogger, I encourage you to think about this as well. 

You see, there are many reasons one might want to be a craft blogger. There are no wrong reasons. However, knowing your specific reasons will help keep you on track and focused as you forge ahead in the great big blogosphere.
So, why do I personally want to blog?
Well, there are several reasons...

To Share and Be Encouraged
When I first started scrapbooking, I would show my pages to my very willing and patient family. They would give the appropriate thumbs up, but never once did I hear them say "Wow, I just love your clustering!" or, "I love the way you used that stencil." Well, as luck would have it... I get that kind of feedback on the world wide web. Huzzah! 

To Participate in a Community 
There really is just something to be said about being a part of a community of people that have the same scrapbooking obsession as I do.

It Teaches Me
You know that old saying? That the teacher often learns more than the students? Well, I don't consider myself a teacher of any sort here on ye ole' blog. But, I do find that writing out my thoughts about my creative process really does teach me and helps me to see things in a different way... ways I might not see if I were merely posting my work to an online gallery. I am able to dig deeper here on the blog.

Personal Accountability
Let's be honest. When I have a deadline, even if it is self-imposed, I just stay on top of things more. I am much less likely to put a layout to the side and stop working on it if I know that I have planned it for a post.

I didn't start out with a notion of perceived success. In fact, I made it a personal choice not to pursue anything and to really just focus on my blog and doing my thing. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this blog has opened some amazing doors of opportunity in the creative world that I have been blessed to be a part of.

It is truly amazing to be able to pull up a post and quickly access what I was doing creatively at any given time. It offers perspective and room for growth. Priceless.

Alrighty. Now that we have covered that... 
I think it is important to define how you want your blog to be. Or in other words...

What is the Mission of Your Blog?

While this is somewhat similar to the above mentioned items, let's take it a bit deeper. 

It is important to really define what you want your blog to be and how you want to operate it in order to successfully fit it into your "free time."

What does this mean for me? 

I want my blog to be...

About the creative process
I want more than the "look what I made" type of posts. I have no problem reading those, and follow several bloggers that post in that style. However, for me to stay motivated to post, I need to go beyond that. 

Creativity is such a journey. A journey full of successes and failures alike. I want my blog to show that. I think it is so interesting to read about or see pictures of another scrapbookers struggles. It makes them real. I want to be real too. I think we can all learn from that. I know I do. 

Full of photos
Let's face it, most people "look" and blogs as opposed to "reading" them. Hey, I do that! We are all busy and sometimes we only have a couple of minutes to check out a post. (If that is you today, and you stumbled across this incredibly wordy post, chances are you are no longer reading. But, if you are still with apologies!) 

The more photos there are and the more the blocks of text are broken up with images, the more likely we are to come away with some sort of new idea or inspiration. 

As a side note, doesn't it crack you up when someone leaves a comment that is in some way a dead giveaway that they didn't read a word of your post? LOL! I am sure I have been guilty of that a time or two as well :)

Simple and Pretty
Of course, this is somewhat subjective. But, I want my blog to be easy to read, easy to look at, and easy to navigate. I want the pictures to fill the width of the column. I want the graphics clean. That is totally a personal choice, but it's good to know where you stand on that as you go about building your blog.

YES! This is super important to me. I want to have fun with my posts. I want to enjoy doing it. I don't want it to be a chore. This certainly applies to the above mentioned ideas as well. If I am not entertained, my readers are most definitely not going to be either.

I try really hard not to post "just because I should." I want each post to be full of content, and if it's not... it should be directing you to another place that has such content. In fact, if I am out of ideas, or haven't made anything worthy of it's own post, chances are it might be quiet here for a few days. For me, that is totally ok. 

The bottom line? Make your blog what YOU want it to be and what YOU will enjoy. You are much less likely to leave it by the wayside if you have a passion for it.

What About the Technical Side?
Ah yes, that is a huge reality of blogging. How do I handle that? I have systems and ways of doing things. Let's take a look...

Photographing the process
This is so fun for me. It is important that it is fun, because that is what makes it easy and not a chore. I simply keep my camera next to my craft table and can pick it up and shoot anything I am working on. Easy.

I also photograph my projects as soon as they are done. If it is dark out, I do it the next day. If I have a build-up of projects to photograph, it is that much less likely to happen.

Photo editing
Sure, it's one thing to photograph the process, but what about managing all of those pictures and getting them into a cohesive blog post? In a word... batches. That's right. I tend to wait until I have several posts worth of pictures on my camera. I then download them all into iPhoto. I immediately delete what isn't good, edit what is, and export them to a folder that is the title of the future post. When I sit down to write, this makes things SO much easier!

OK! We have our "why." We have our "mission." And we have our "techy talk."
Now, are you wondering how exactly I make time for all of that?
Let's take a look...

When Do You Blog?

During my "free time"
You guessed it! I manage to fit my blogging into my schedule much like I do my tangible creative time

But, there is one important clarification to be made. I don't fit those little bits of time in on the actual computer. I use The Brain. HA! No really, The Brain is what I call my planner and it's where I keep my notes for my posts. So, if I have a brilliant idea, but only a few moments... I am certainly not going to waste that time turning on the computer, starting a new post, etc. Instead, I am just going to head to The Brain and jot down my notes. Easy!

When it is a priority
Ah yes, the priority word again. But, hey... it's true. In fact, I am writing this as my husband is putting the kids to bed. Could I be in the studio crafting? Sure. But, I know I want this post to go up tonight and it is just not realistic for me to do both. I enjoy both the tangible crafting and the blogging, so it's not hard for me to choose one over the other when necessary. 

And, trust me, if I wasn't in the mood to write this, or I started to write this and it wasn't going well... I would stop. This is a hobby for me. I want it to be fun. If I did indeed decide to set it aside and head to the studio instead, I would pick it back up tomorrow. Prioritize and persevere, my friends!
2-3 time a week
I don't want to commit to more. Sometimes it happens, but I don't want my readers to expect it. Also, as a reader of other blogs, I tend to find it overwhelming when a blogger posts daily. In this busy life, it can just be too much to keep up with. I try to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, with the posts going live the night before. 

That leaves me writing a post on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights. If I don't have enough content, or am super busy, I combine my Wednesday and Friday posts into one post that will go up for Thursday. I try REALLY hard to never blog on the weekends. Sometimes it has to happen due to a specific project or commitment, but I generally try to avoid it.

One last thing...

What About All of That Social Media?
It's pretty much common sense that if you want to have a blog that is an active part of the scrapbooking community, you have to promote yourself. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Message Boards, Commenting on other bloggers.... The list goes on.

How on earth do I get all of that in?

I don't do it all. I don't do Facebook. I tend to only use my Twitter account as a vehicle for my Instagram posts. I read message boards, but don't usually comment. I try to comment on my favorite blogs, but often respond in other ways... such as pinning the work or linking back to it in some way.

So if you consider all of that mentioned above, that leaves me mostly on Instagram. I manage to get that in when I am at a traffic light, waiting in a line, waiting for the dish water to get hot, microwaving something... you get the idea :)

Just squeeze it in. If you can't get to it, don't stress it. The internet will wait, I promise.

And there we have it! All the ways I manage to get this whole blogging thing done.
(This layout, seen in detail throughout this post, was directly inspired by Wilna's Art Class 2 over at Two Peas In a Bucket. It is most amazing! More on that in my next post.)

Thanks again for such a great question, Cheryl! All of the other tips and questions I have received will be compiled into a post for next week, as we wrap up this series. So, if you have anything to add, please send it my way!

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let's Fall In Love With Flair One Last Time...

Hello, hello! Before the fall season leaves us, I just had to get one more post full of fall flair up...
One thing I love to do, when I have a huge crafting mess on my table full of bits and pieces, is to make a layout with an informal grid design. 

Not only does this help clean up my desk and save things from the trash bin at the same time, but I also end up with some unexpected combinations. 

This one is especially fun because the layout itself isn't about fall specifically, but due to the lovely colors, I was able to incorporate some gorgeous fall flair.

I do hope you will swing on by A Flair For Buttons and check it out!

And, if you are one of my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Holiday Preparations Begin!

Happy Monday! We have a new challenge up over at the Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge Blog.

December is coming, and with it a wealth of holidays, parties, and lots of important numbers. Children are counting the days until school goes on break, and in general counting seems to be the theme at this time of year. With that in mind, DT member Ashli (hey, that's me!) challenges us to use holiday countdown as this week’s inspiration!

Whether you’re working on December Daily, doing an advent calendar, creating home décor with numbers, or perhaps just making holiday cards and counting down how many you have left to make – we can’t wait to see how you’re counting down to the holidays this week.

So, how am I counting down? Well, last year was my first attempt at a Christmas Album. I chose to embark on a massive project, completing a full 12x12 album of Our Christmas Heritage. I really had SO much fun doing it and it is such a treasure!

With that in mind, and those stories told... I have decided to keep my December Album to a much smaller scale this year. Let's take a look....

To begin, I have a plain 'ole file folder from the office supply store that I have folded a bit differently on the right hand side:
 And a gorgeous selection of papers:
 Then, I just cover my folder with that gorgeous paper:
 Until it looks something like this:
 And after a bit of stitching....
 Time for some white paint and such to spruce this up and add some personality to it:
 Coming along!
 Title time! I used my Tim Holtz Alpha die to cut these numbers:
 A final touch of some Perfect Pearls:
 And there we have it!
 My December 2013 Album, all ready to go...
I also covered the interior with white paper to provide a nice blank slate:
 I can't wait to fill it with all of my memories from this season... 
 And how on earth will I fit a month's worth of memories into this file? Stay tuned...
Alrighty! You know what to do :) Go get crafty and link-up with us! 

Every week a random winner is chosen to win a $50 spending spree from How awesome is that?
Here is a complete supply list for my layout:

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