Mark Twain on Travel


Mr. P recently read Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad, which is a bunch of his travel musings from a trip with his friends to Europe and the Holy Land.  He read so many gems to me that I had him bookmark them so I could share them with you.

On regaling your friends with stories when you come home:  We wish to excite the envy of our untraveled friends with our strange foreign fashions which we can’t shake off . . . The gentle reader will never, never know what a consummate ass he can become, until he goes abroad.

On tour guides:  If they would only show you a masterpiece of art, or a venerable tomb, or a prison-house, or a battle-field, hallowed by touching memories or historical reminiscences, or grand traditions, and then step aside and hold still for ten minutes and let you think, it would not be so bad.  But they interrupt every dream, every pleasant train of thought, with their tiresome cackling.  Sometimes when I have been standing before some cherished old idol of mine that I remembered years and years ago in pictures in the geography at school, I have thought I would give a whole world if the human parrot at my side would suddenly perish where he stood and leave me to gaze, and ponder, and worship.

On observing the way of life in Europe:  In America, we hurry–which is well; but when the day’s work is done, we go on thinking of losses and gains, we plan for the morrow, we even carry our business cares to bed with us . . . I do envy these Europeans the comfort they take.  When the day of work is done, they forget it.

On visiting churches:  I have not been to church so often in a long time as I have in the last few weeks.  The people in these old lands seem to make churches their specialty.

Have a lovely weekend!

How to Install a Temporary Gallery Wall

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I love gallery walls.  I have a ton of them pinned on Pinterest.  I always struggle designing them myself because I can never get them just right.  “Effortless” is the absolute last word used to describe any project of mine.

Mr. P and I have a lot of art collected from our travels (read more about shopping for street art here) and most of it is not displayed.  I needed to solve for two things:

First, I had lots of oddly-shaped items but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Getting odd-shaped things framed or mounted is expensive.  I considered cutting my own mats and making my own plexiglass frames, but that seemed like a lot of work too.

Second, it needed to be temporary.  This was for our little rental apartment.  While we love our place dearly, we knew sooner or later we’d move (sooner actually, more on that later).  It didn’t make sense to put a lot of time and effort into something that we’d take down.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I finally realized what I’ve been doing wrong: over thinking it.  I saw this pin on Pinterest and was sold.  I loved the idea of layering and mixing media and sticking things directly to the wall.

This entire process from idea to finished product took three days (including Prime shipping from Amazon on the adhesive).  That’s it!

Sticky Supplies

I ordered a couple types of adhesive: Duck Brand Poster Putty and Command Poster Adhesive.  I tested both on magazine pages first.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I was worried that the putty would leave long term marks, so I used the Command strips on the items I really cared about and the putty on ones I didn’t.


I planned the placement of the art.  Mr. P made me this scale drawing and little art pieces back when we were planning to get things framed.  I used the model to rough out where I wanted everything.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

I selected photos.  I went through my collection and went for bright, macro photos.  When I couldn’t decide on the final ones, Mr. P pointed out that the wall almost had one piece from every country we’d been to.  I stuck with the theme and picked pictures from other countries to complete the set.

I printed photo drafts in multiple sizes and laid everything on the floor to check the look.  This was fun.  We moved things around a few more times, played with the layering, and made sure we picked the right size for each photo.

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker


This was the easiest part!  I printed the photos and we got to work.  We started with the giant Antarctica map and moved right.

Not everything is hung perfectly.  The map could have been smoothed out a bit more.  The whole gallery could have gone a few inches to the left.  I don’t care though — I’m just happy that I can actually see my stuff on the wall!

Gallery Wall by Natalie Parker

Scrapbook Layout: News

News Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerNews Scrapbook Layout by Natalie ParkerNews Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: I picked big news and pop culture stories from the year and put them together in one layout.

Housing Bubble:  I will always remember August 2007 very clearly as when the housing market started teetering.  I looked for a while for an image to illustrate that and I love the political cartoon I found.

Inspired by: I saw these 2×2 Instagram prints at Persnickety Prints and really liked the thick white border.

Previously:  You know I love including news layouts in my scrapbooks to give a bit of context to what was happening in my life.  See earlier news layouts here, here, here, and here.

News Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Nevis | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos) | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos) | Ephemera Included: none.

London: Tate Britain Musuem

Tate Britain Museum, LondonTate Britain Museum, London

When I was in high school, a few of my English teachers had posters of Tate artworks in their classrooms.  I remember the poster of Ophelia in my Shakespeare class and “The Tate Gallery, London” printed underneath it.  Every time I saw it, I told myself someday I’d go to London and see her in person.

I’d been to London three times before this year and never made it to the Tate Britain.  I was determined not to miss it during my April trip!

It can be tough to fit in a visit because it’s not near any huge tourist attractions.  Plus, every time I go to London I’m working and my leisure time is limited.  The Tate closes at 6pm daily, which makes an after work stop impossible.

Tate Britain Museum, London

Some Pointers for Your Visit

This post is about the Tate Britain, not to be confused with the Tate Modern.  I feel like the Tate Mordern is getting all the love these days.  The Tate Britain houses British artworks from dating from 1500 to the present.

Admission is Free.  Donations are appreciated.  I dropped in a donation when I picked up a museum map.

There is a free coat room.  I love the UK for its abundance of coat rooms.  I got caught in a rainstorm on the way to the museum and was happy to shed my coat and umbrella.

What I Thought

I spent just under two hours there.  Everyone has their own museum philosophy and I think it’s a-okay to see the artworks you want to see and move on.  It’s actually quite fun to hunt for the must-see paintings and be totally shocked when you see them in person.

So happy I got to see Ophelia and The Lady of Shalott (another that I’d seen in posters umpteen times).  Ophelia was smaller in person than I thought she would be but she was just stunning.  There’s so much depth to the painting that can’t be seen with a print.

Tate Britain Museum, LondonTate Britain Museum, London

I’m glad I finally made it to the museum!  Have you been?


Click here for a map of all the locations I visited.

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.

Why I Keep Non-Archival Items in my Scrapbook

Big Game Football Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

This question has popped up a few times over the years and I haven’t addressed it directly in a post.  I use a lot of ephemera in my scrapbooks.  Ephemera isn’t acid or lignin free or “archival.”  I get questions about if I pre-treat these items or why even include them in the first place.

The short answer:  because I value the ephemera more, everything’s a tradeoff, nothing is really totally archival anyway, and all paper will eventually deteriorate.

The Long Answer

I’m presently in graduate school training to be an archivist.  I’ve taken several classes on collecting information, organizing it, and on the preservation of paper and other materials. You can read several posts sharing what I’ve learned along the way and how it relates to the everyday scrapbooker here.

Does my future degree make me more qualified to speak on this subject?  I don’t think so but I believe it’s given me some valuable perspective about what I do at home.

The first lesson I learned in my first class in graduate school was that everything has a tradeoff.  If you organize information in a more detailed way, you trade off the time it takes you to do that.  If you do less organization, you trade off the time you spend to find something later.

Whether or not I include non-archival items is a tradeoff.  I believe the value of having the items in the scrapbook outweighs their eventual deterioration.  I want to see the articles about my husband’s water polo coach.  I want my kids to see newspapers from 9/11.

All paper will deteriorate eventually.*  It’s a bit sobering.  I’m not under some delusion that my scrapbooks will end up in an archive somewhere.  If I get to show them to my kids and grandkids, I’m cool with that.  If something happens to them after I’m gone, I won’t be around to know about it.

Archivists make tradeoffs every single day.  I’ve visited many archives and archivists over the last few years.  Archives aren’t beacons of perfection.  Archivists every day have to make the best decisions they can using the resources they have.  It’s a good lesson for the scrapbooker:  it can’t be perfect.

Why don’t I pre treat non-archival items?  Two reasons.  First, an archivist would put the newspaper in the best environment to keep it safe but not actually change it.  I’m also not convinced that stuff actually works.  Second, I’m lazy and don’t feel like it’s worth the time.  I’ve seen 50+ year old scrapbooks full of newspapers on my tours through archives and they are holding up pretty well.  If mine make it 50 years, I’ll be happy.

Do you have to take the same route as me?  Not at all.  Do what makes you feel comfortable.  However, I hope this helps with perspective.  Do you still worry about non-archival items in your scrapbook?  Please share below.

*Digital media deteriorates much much faster than paper, so scrapbooks are still preferable.  Read more detail about the deterioration of paper and media here.

London: Paper + Design Shopping in Marylebone

Marylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie Parker

On my second weekend in London, I took a walk around Marylebone!  Here are the highlights so you can plan a visit yourself!  Make sure to visit the map to see all my stops with links to the store websites.

Start your walk at the intersection of Marylebone Road and Marylebone High Street.  Walk down Marylebone High Street toward Oxford Street — that way you end up at Selfridges plus a lot of central tube and bus lines.

I started at the top of Marylebone High Street and stopped at any cute shops on the main road.  There’s a map on the left side of the street near the start that shows all the shops along the street so you don’t miss any.

Marylebone, London by Natalie Parker

How do you pronounce that?

Marylebone.  There isn’t exact agreement on how to pronounce it.  I’ve heard “Mary-la-bone” and “Mar-lee-bone.”  When in doubt with British place names, subtract syllables and run the rest together.  I say Marley-bone (no one laughed at me).

Highlights from My Walk

I popped into Oliver Bonas to make sure I didn’t miss anything after I stopped at their other location on my Shoreditch Walk.  One can never be too careful.

Caroline Gardner made me consider stuffing throw pillows in my suitcase.  I settled for some cards and a cute gift instead.

Daunt Books.  Enough said.

Marylebone, London by Natalie ParkerMarylebone, London by Natalie Parker

I could not get enough of the neon at Designers Guild.  Give me one of everything please!  Such lovely home goods as well.

Lots of neato Scandinavian style at Skandium.  Cute gifts too!

Cath Kidston: pattern exploding everywhere!  I picked up a polka dot neon pouch to hold travel stuff and some gifts for my niece and nephew.  They sell the prints they use in their products by the yard!

Marylebone, London by Natalie Parker

Afterward, I had a snack at Roti Chai and then hit Selfridges.

A perfect ending to the day would be this: picking out cards at Selfridges, sampling chocolate, then heading to the manicure stand.  Alas, I was in a hurry to get to a pub and catch the Manchester Derby and couldn’t stay.  I’m totally getting my nails done there next time.

What are your favorite shops in Marylebone?

If you go

Click here for a map of all the locations I visited.

Click here to see a photo index for all my posts on London

I traveled solo to London for the month of April on a business trip and kept myself entertained on the weekends exploring new places.

Weekend Reading, Vol. 3

Weekend Reading

More good bits to share today!  Enjoy your reading!

The decaying modern Rome.  I didn’t like Rome as much as I thought I would and wonder if this is why.

Everything French has its quirks and navigating a French market is no exception.  Great tips!

An update from my first Weekend Reading, it looks like the customs app is a go!  If you don’t have Global Entry, you should consider this.

So jealous that visitors to Buckingham Palace this summer and fall get to see on of the Queen’s tiaras!

Glad to know I’m not the only one terrified of flying.

Finally, Alex Morgan all the time.  Go Bears!

Cover photo courtesy quattrostagioni via Creative Commons license.