I hope I've inspired some of you to take a look at the action side of creativity this week and even document your own attempts, big and small, to make creativity of all kinds a habit. I am a big believer in the power of momentum—even though I do go days, weeks, or even months without doing much of anything on this whole 52 Projects challenge, I believe that it's made me much more aware of the intersection of wanting to do something creative and actually doing something about it. This momentum certainly spills into my traditional scrapbooking efforts; even something as small as wrapping up some grocery store flowers in newspaper with a crisp, white string keeps the part of my brain where creativity stems tuned up.
But enough of all that. Here's my final project to share with you (though I'll be adding new ones until I get to 52 over at my blog, so feel free to check in—just don't expect anything to show up until I recover from the onslaught of project-ing this week!): Project #38/52: Create an audio scrapbook. Using your actual voice.
Before I go further, there is an important thing I had to work through to actually do this project: I do not like the sound of my voice played back to me. You know, because I sound like an 11 year-old girl. (It's a good thing I have a voice twin to commisserate with). But you know what? While scrapbooking is very often about me and my creative process and blah-blah-blah, in the end it really isn't about me and my 11 year-old girl voice at all. It's about someone (daughters? granddaughters? nieces? nephews? relatives who won't even be born for another 50 years?) getting to know and remember their mama/grandma/aunt better someday. It's a treasure to have someone's voice recorded—I saved some messages on our answering machine for years congratulating us on the birth of our daughters but never got around to recording them more permanently; in one fell swoop in 2008 Bridget's little fingers started playing with buttons on the answering machine on the nightstand and POOF, they were all gone. I mourn that still, though it's no one's mistake but my own for not acting sooner to preserve them.
So. The project. You'll need a microphone that can plug into your computer to do this project (or, if you want to and have access, you could set up a video camera on a tripod and record yourself). There are no doubt hundreds of different microphones out there to buy; I recommended my $19.99 Logitech USB microphone once before here at WCS, and I stand by that recommendation today: it does everything it's supposed to, and it didn't cost very much.
click to make larger
It appears to be widely available. I've never had a problem with it in the nearly five years I've owned it, aside from the fact that it makes me sound like an 11 year-old girl. Ahem.
Next, you'll want to decide what to actually record yourself saying! Here are a few ideas:
1. Write a letter to a loved one, then read the letter and record it.
2. Record yourself interviewing a friend, spouse, child—or all of the above—with the help of an eBook of quizzes.
3. Sing the songs you sing around your house, to your children, whatever. I KNOW. Remember, this isn't necessarily about you and your pride, but rather giving someone who loves you a treasured gift.
4. Let your children have free access to the microphone. Ask them to sing songs they've learned at school. Let them sit with a friend or sibling or cousin and goof around. You're going to end up with some fun audio, guaranteed.
5. Collect a selection of books you read to your children when they were small (or are currently reading to them if they're still small!) and record yourself reading them aloud. If you do have small children right now, they'll appreciate this sooner and later! If you have grandchildren/nieces/nephews/grand-nieces/grand-nephews, it would make the perfect birthday gift. You can easily convert audio recordings into MP3 recordings in Apple's free iTunes, and burn a CD to tuck into a scrapbook.
I did option 5 for my project: me reading a sampling of books we've loved to read to the girls. I can't promise that I'll ever listen to it. But I can promise that it will be a fun surprise tucked into an album.
Thanks for all the fun and encouraging comments so far this week—I have to say, I'm astonished that it took me so long to find those little badge holders as it sounds like so many of you have been hoarding a package or two for years now!
Today I'm sharing my own #37/52 projects (this five in one week business is moving things right along!): Turn a sad wall into a happy wall with items you already have on hand. Chances are that somewhere in your house or apartment you have a lonely nook or corner or hallway that you're required to walk past every single day... I loved reading a comment left earlier this week by Kathleen S. about how she actually enjoys hanging out in her spruced up laundry room—the effect of turning your attention to a space that could be so much better is powerful indeed!
I purposely kept this project to the confines of a small wall space, and I purposely set the parameters that I had to "shop my house" for the items I'd use to gussy it up. I loosely wanted to create a kind of dynamic scrapbook-page-on-my-wall though I decided not to use actual scrapbook pages. The space I chose was the landing by the back door, which leads to the basement of our 1906 House. It is the wall closest to where the box elders congregate when the temperature is above 45º (ick) and the wall I pass by it every time I do laundry (which is a lot). Those three things definitely meet the qualifications of a sad wall: closest to the creepy old basement, bug hangout, and the constant tracks of neverending laundry.
Here it is, far cheerier than before:
The most fun part of this project was the "shopping the house" part. I had to either make it or find it or repurpose it—not an additional penny was spent putting it all together.
A few notes about what I used: I took the glass out of two of the frames so I could put something three-dimensional inside; the frames were already kind of deep, so it worked perfectly to velcro up some of the rocks the girls picked out at a gem and mineral show we went to last year and hot-glue a bouquet of button flowers they made over Christmas break 2009. The middle frame holds another of the post cards I made for my fridge makeover project (and the other favorite Avett Brothers line!). I didn't get a poster calendar this year (I've had inexpensive poster calendars the last 3-4 years in a cheapie poster frame just for pretty) and I already bought a cool Etsy one for my Gracie/Owl mini-album, so I made one myself to fit another frame I had on hand. The snowman art is courtesy of Gracie and the leftover bulldog clip holds a seasonal greeting card. The ladybugs are made by the same company (Tomy); I got one when I was 5 and Gracie somehow spotted the modernized version at the Butterfly Pavilion gift shop this summer when she was five, which we think is very funny. The final touch is the miniature photo frame that holds a picture of a rabbit. The Year of the Rabbit is coming up, which is extremely appropriate because we have a family of rabbits that lives in our yard. We call them yard bunnies (hence the 2011: The Year of the Yard Bunny caption, ha ha).
The plan is to come back to this little wall display monthly and change a few things here and there to keep it interesting, all the while looking through what we already have to put on display. It's about as untraditional of a scrapbook page as you might get, but it still feels scrapbook-y to me. You might make your own display smaller or larger depending upon your space—the only real requirement is that it should make you happier than the plain wall did before.
This week, Elizabeth has been encouraging us all to find our inner crafter. And not necessarily our scrapbooker, but anything that might sing to us. So for our giveaway today, we want you to create your own giveaway. What would help you craft?
Do you need Jeffrey's book?
Or one of Keri Smith's inspirational books?
Or how about the Photojojo challenge book?
Not a reader? Would you prefer a charm pack or a yard of fabric?
Or a pattern for a quilt?
One of Monika's amazing posters for your crafting space?
Or would you like some magnets and badgeholders to channel Elizabeth right into your own home?
Please leave us a comment telling us what would help you get your crafty groove on and what you would do once grooving. Please, inspire us! We can't wait to hear some of your ideas for projects for this year. As a thank you for sharing, two of you will be selected to receive a little something from us to help you get crafty. (Perhaps inspired by your comment...)
Comments will remain open until 8:00 pm PST. Please remember to check back as it is your responsibility to claim your lucky number before midnight Saturday!
Today's project to get you thinking about your own 52 Projects challenge (my 36th if you're counting along!) stems from my irritation about my bad memory. I've always wanted to create a "best of" awards-style mini-album at the end of the year—you know, the award for best picture seen by the Dillow family goes to—that kind of thing. But when I sat down to think about what I would include, I couldn't really remember a lot of 2010: not all the movies we saw, or every excellent meal we had in a restaurant (really, for a family who doesn't eat out all that often it shouldn't be that difficult!) or the funniest things the girls said... those things really are fleeting. If I don't keep a list, it's virtually impossible to recconstruct.
This year I'm determined to keep a little better track of our good things, our even better things, and the very best things of all that we see, eat, say, listen to with the help of Project 36/52: Build a 2011 Highlights Mini-Album.
I got the idea when I was in Office Depot on my futile search for plain bulldog clips:
Now isn't that a cool foundation for a teeny-tiny mini-album? My idea started developing into a plan to keep just a line or two about 12 different categories of things (Office Depot wields a lot of power with me, clearly, because if they packaged their badge holders into packs of 10 I would probably just have two fewer categories on this list):
1. Screen (movies, TV shows)
2. Meals in (we have a tendency to occasionally find a new recipe, try it, and fall in love with it only to realize two months later we have no idea where that recipe came from, and can never be made again)
3. Meals out (on the occasion that we dine in a restaurant finer than Culver's)
4. Adventures (places we go out of our ordinary routine)
5. Quotations (funny things said)
6. Music (music acquired through iTunes—this one's easy, as you can sort by date added!)
7. Books (books we fall in love with, either from the library or by purchase)
8. Visitors (lunch, dinner, or a week's stay)
9. Days (might be nice to document our really good days with a line or two about why)
10. News (new extended family members, remarkable school or job achievements, etc.)
11. Ideas (because a good idea probably ought to be jotted down for posterity)
12. And, the cover.
The badge holders are small (2.5 x 4) so I made some cards to go with each category that have only a small amount of space to document. Here are a few examples:
Instead of keeping this all together for the year, I thought it would be fun to divide it up and store it where the action is: i.e. the screen cards in the attic where we watch movies, the adventure cards in the glove compartment of the van, the meals out one in my purse... I'm going to cut a bunch of blank cards to give to the girls so they can draw pictures, practice writing their name (or writing their name in cursive), etc. We'll keep some of them in the bookshelf above the computer and the rest will probably go in the sideboard in our dining room for easy access. When the year is up, we'll collect them from throughout the house, hole-punch the cards and connect them all with two binder rings (the badge holders have two holes to hold everything together).
I have plans to turn this into a PDF download to share with anyone who'd like to make one too. Watch for that coming soon! I'll be back on Friday with a project to brighten up a lonely wall. Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for giveaway day!
Welcome back to Day 2 of 52 Projects projects! I'm sharing my own #35/52: The Great Fridge Makeover. As I was thinking up ideas to share here this week it occurred to me that my refrigerator front used to be far more organized before I had children; I'm the kind that likes to have pictures displayed with magnets, but lately it just looks like I put everything up blindfolded. With my elbows. For some inexplicable reason none of my regular magnets made it back to the fridge when we moved in October, and the whole thing was looking decidedly un-cute. Behold:
I think Martha Stewart just got a headache but can't figure out why. There's an attempt to make it look interesting with a few pieces of artwork... clearly, it's time for a new plan. We have a glaring lack of extended family photos displayed in our house; this is one of my favorite things about my youngest sister's house—she does a really good job displaying family photos everywhere. Goodness knows I have plenty of photos, so what is the obvious answer? Turn our refrigerator into a family photo gallery. I took everything down (my new plan is to create a hallway art exhibit of the girls' favorite and funniest pieces of artwork) and got to work. Because I wanted to keep this project's costs down, I decided that I would use magnet bulldog clips to hold 4 x 6 photos.
Have you any idea how expensive pre-magneted bulldog clips are?! Anywhere from $3.99/4.99 for TWO. I checked. More than one place. I couldn't find any plain bulldog clips in town to make my own magnet clips, so I ordered a box from Amazon at 37¢ a piece (they come in boxes of 36).
I adhered some sticky-back magnets from a craft store (not sure which one, since I've had these particular sticky-back magnets on hand just waiting for their chance to be needed since around, oh, 1993?) and printed out a whole bunch of family photos—grandparents, first cousins, aunts and uncles, plus a couple of our own family. I also made a few postcards to hang up among the photos with good family quotes on them. Here is the after shot:
Ta-da! Family photo gallery in a neat grid! I attached a little strip of kraft cardstock to the top of each photo so it wouldn't get chomped by the clip.
Here's a close-up of one of the little postcard quote card things I made, using one of my two favorite lines from an Avett Brothers song (the other favorite line will show up in a project later in the week!). Since most of my photos live either in my computer or on a scrapbook page in between the covers of an album, I love that these photos will be enjoyed by my family every time they walk in the kitchen. It will be easy to switch them out for new ones, too. Perhaps you've taken a vacation or attended a sporting event that resulted in 97,000 photos? Earmark 25 of them for a project like this: )
I'm excited to be here this week hosting and to update you on a project I started in January 2010: my own modified 52 Projects challenge. When I reviewed Jeffrey Yamaguchi's book here last year I knew the idea held appeal to scrapbooking types, but after a year's worth of trying it out myself I've decided it's more than just appealing: it's a terrific motivator that provides a sense of accomplishment I wasn't expecting. The momentum of "look what I did!" begets "what else can I do?" A nifty trick, especially for someone who took nearly ten years to get her wedding photos in an album for her mother-in-law. [I know, I know, both bride and daughter-in-law shame.]
When I began the project with all my annual January creative fervor I set some wise guidelines for myself:
1.) Don't commit to a specific list of projects ahead of time.
2.) There is no specific deadline to finish.
3.) Regular scrapbook pages don't count.
Hence, by the beginning of January 2011, I've completed 33/52 projects:
Interestingly enough, only one has been a traditional scrapbook-related project, though I've done plenty of projects that require use of my scrapbooking products, tools, and sensibilities. I surprised myself with the amount of projects related to sewing; even more, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed doing those (even if I had to read the sewing instructions out loud, slowly, upwards of five times in order to kind of-sort of get what I was supposed to do). I am not one tiny bit mad that I didn't finish my 52nd project before 2011 rolled around; letting this whole process develop organically is truly the only reason why I've been successful. I am very much looking forward to turning the whole experience into a page when I'm done—wouldn't you just love to know what your great-grandmothers did to gussy up their homes, to make their lives more efficient, to show for the pursuit of their hobbies?
The answer is Y E S. At least for me.
This week I thought it would be fun to devise five projects related to memory-keeping to both keep my personal challenge moving right along AND give you some ideas to start your own 52 Projects challenge. I tried to come up with things that can be completed inexpensively, brighten up your (or someone else's) day, and won't take much more than a hour, tops. Here's my project #34/52!
#34/52: Write a letter to someone from your past thanking them for their impact/influence.
I've had gymnastics on my mind a lot lately as the girls get more and more involved; I was thinking of how I never would have predicted in 2004 when Maddie started gymnastics with Miss Lasheryl that she'd still be at it in 2011. We didn't keep in touch with the coaches from our gym there when we moved, but after Maddie's last meet this season (she won the Level 3 All-Around!) I started thinking that Miss Lasheryl needs to know that this little girl who loved her so much has become an accomplished competitive gymnast in the last five years. With a little help from Google I came up with a probably-correct business address where she works and will drop a letter in the mail with these two pictures in it today. And since I have the story fresh in my mind (with pictures to boot!) I'll make a quick page documenting this important connection, too!
Let yourself think about this one today. There's a good chance that you'll hear a little whisper of the person's name to which you should address your letter. If the person is no longer alive, consider sending your letter to a relative or friend of the person instead; sharing a memory of that positive influence will no doubt be a priceless surprise gift... and not just to the person who will find something other than junk mail in his or her mailbox. It might require a little detective work, but it's worth it. You've just completed Project 1/52!
I'm back for one last jumpstart example. I was thrilled to be able to get all four of yesterday's layouts done within just a couple of hours by working on them all at the same time, and basing them all around the same basic design. So I made another set of three layouts, but this time instead of basing them on the same design, I based them on the same supply. Remember how I asked you Monday to find some new or unused products? Pull them out for today, and choose one supply that just gets you excited. (When I say supply, I mean one sheet or rubons or stickers, or a digital kit, on some other pack of embellishments you’ll be able to use for three different layouts.)
I chose this poking fun digital kit by Betsy Tuma available at twopeasinabucket.com. I love the look of the poked holes, and I loved the variety of shapes included. I knew I could easily make three layouts using this kit as my inspiration.
As I looked through the kit, I saw this element:
I saw those squares and immediately envisioned them with small pictures inside each one. I decided it would be perfect for a baseball layout, since I had the journaling written and pictures chosen, but none of the pictures were really fantastic. I pretty quickly came up with this:
For my next layout from this kit, I decided to use some of the poked holes circles instead of squares. I cropped my photo into a circle, added a circular date tag, and tried out different combinations of poked holes circles until I was happy with the final design.
For my third layout I combined the poking fun kit with a digital patterned paper kit I’d purchased but hadn’t used yet (Wishing for Sunshine kit by Holly McCaig at twopeasinabucket.com). I just loved looking at the papers next to each other, so I decided to use them in strips above a photo. The “boxiness” of the entire design was again inspired by one of the square poking holes shapes. This simple layout came together extremely quickly.
There you have it: three layouts all inspired by one supply—another three layouts completed in a couple of days, jumpstart fashion. Again, since I had pre-written all the journaling and picked out photos before I even started, these layouts came together extra quickly.
So get going! See if you can’t get three layouts done in the next few days – if you’ve already made a list, written journaling, and chosen some photos, you’re nearly there. Take a look at those favorite layouts from years past, or pull out some new supplies, and jumpstart your scrapbooking!