On Being Decluttered

Marie Kondo Book

Some people spring clean.  We usually January-clean.  Or get-home-from-international-travel-clean.

Coming home from a trip that makes us realize we don’t need a lot of possessions (or, if you’re Mr. P, that you have to start making your own baked goods).  When we came home from Christmas in Europe, I started reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Enter a recipe for us getting rid of a ton of our stuff.

This book is serious business.  I thought I was a decluttering pro already, but I was shocked at how much we got rid of.

There is a great review and synopsis of Kondo’s method here in the New York Times.

Every space in our home has been decluttered and organized.  Every closet, every shelf, every drawer.  Our clothes, food, kitchen, craft supplies, desk, bathroom, under the bed, movie and music collection, cleaning supplies, papers & bills, everything!

Lessons We Learned

Keep only what makes you happy and let go of the rest.  I used to keep things based on usefulness.  But why bother keeping something I just kind of like?  If you worry about getting rid of a perfectly good thing, Kondo has an answer for that in the book.

Take everything out.  Kondo says bringing items together in one space is the only way that you get a true sense of how much you have.  For example, we took every book we owned and put them in the living room together.

This is why moving sucks.  I kept saying that over and over.  Moving already sucks.  But moving really really sucks when you have to transport so much stuff.  Seeing possessions out in the living room made me realize how much we didn’t need.

What’s left over makes us happier.  I was a little skeptical, but Kondo is right.  My clothes closet only contains items I really love.  There are no “meh” outfits anymore.

Everything has a place!  This was earth-shattering.  After getting rid of stuff, there was space.  Space to grow, breathe, and homes for our things!  When I get home from work, my laptop bag has a space in the closet.  All of my craft supplies have neat shelf space and are not piled on top of each other.

We did a bit each Saturday and it took a little over a month.  We started with clothes and books, then moved to papers, then all 3 of our non-clothes closets, then the kitchen.

I wish I’d taken photos of the living room mid-purge.  I had no idea we’d get rid of so much!

How to Include Ephemera in Your Scrapbook

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I start each scrapbook by reviewing my time capsule box of ephemera and organizing it (more on that process here).  I won’t use everything but including ephemera is very important to me.

I’ve combed through my scrapbook archives and put together a bunch of tips in case you want to start including more ephemera in your scrapbooks!

Make it Part of a Cohesive Design

This is always my first choice: design the page around the ephemera and make it seamless.  I did this with one of my honeymoon pages.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I designed it so everything on the page was the size of a standard business card, including the photos and text block.

Another example: Bay to Breakers (using my race bib).

Cut it Up

Sometimes I’m not too attached to the piece as a whole but I want just some of it on the page.

My favorite example of this is how I took a stack of college assignments and tests and cut them up into squares to make a layout.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

A single assignment on its own didn’t matter much.  I was trying to create a feeling of how much work I did and cutting them up did the trick!

More examples: Wedding Dress Shopping (cut up bridesmaid dress swatch), Big Game Week 2006 (cut up parking pass), New York Trip Title Page (cut up maps and luggage claim tags).

Make an Envelope or Pouch

Sometimes a piece can’t be glued down by itself.  Maybe it’s too fragile, or maybe it needs to be held together in some way.

For my wedding favors, I created vellum envelopes and glued those to the page.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

The favors were stacks of recipe  cards.  It wouldn’t have made sense to staple the cards together and it would have taken too much room to glue each card separately.  The envelope keeps them together and safe.

Another example: Big Game 2002 (creating a pouch to hold grass).

Scan It

This works great for items that are too large to go in the scrapbook.  I do this a lot with posters.

For Big Game Week my senior year of college, I scanned the Bonfire Rally poster.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Football Season 2003 (scanned Homecoming poster and magnet).

Turn it Into a Backdrop

Similar to when I cut pieces up, using a piece of ephemera as a backdrop works if you aren’t too attached to it as a whole but want it on the page.

I used a map of the San Diego Zoo in this layout about our day there with my sister-in-law and niece.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Golden Gate Bridge (with map of Presidio as backdrop).

Make a Collage

I love making collages!  This works very well when there are lots of bits and pieces.  Together they can tell a great story.

I created a collage with leftover bits of ephemera from 2004 and turned it into the end page for that book.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I love how it shows little things that we were up to.

Another example: College Intro Page (collage out of course catalog pages).

Highlight It

Sometimes the piece of ephemera is the star of the show — it is the story.

I made this layout about the very first recipe we cooked together.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

More examples: Graduation Invitations, Wedding Invitations, Seeing Shows (programs + tickets).

Use Just Part of It

This works really well with magazines or newspapers.  In my college basketball layout, I included just the magazine cover.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

Another example: Football Season 2004 (magazine cover).

Photograph It

Sometimes you can’t take things home.  Sometimes things are three-dimensional.  Using a picture works well here.

I did this with my wedding favors page.  We gave away chocolate picture frames (totally not going to fit in the scrapbook), so I used a picture of them in the layout.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

This idea also works really well for foreign currency!  I like taking pictures of cash before we spend it.

If All Else Fails

It can be hard to work ephemera into a layout.  It’s a fixed size and sometimes it doesn’t play well with everything else on the page.

If that happens, ask yourself: is it important to the story?  If no, you don’t have to include it.  You don’t have to include everything.  If yes, then include it, even if the design isn’t great.  Remember my rules: the story is always more important than the design.

Scrapbook Ephemera Tips by Natalie Parker

I like to think of my name change scrapbook layout as an example.  I still don’t love it.  The design is blehhh.  But, changing to my married name was a big deal and I wanted to tell the story.  There was no way I was leaving out my Social Security letter (the first thing ever printed with my married name) or my old ID card (even if the picture isn’t flattering.

If all else fails, just go with it!

I hope this inspires you to add more ephemera in your scrapbooks!!

On the Road to Tomorrowland

Disneyland Tomorrowland by Natalie Parker

Ten years ago today, on a beautiful February afternoon in Disneyland, he asked me to marry him.

We were in one of the passages of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, the one that leads from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland.

When I look back on it now, I smile and think about how appropriate it was, on the road to Tomorrowland.  We ended up in that exact spot because he knew the castle was my favorite and the passages were the only areas where he could do it without a bunch of people staring — he was pretty nervous.

I smile every time I think of it.  That and how I couldn’t figure out why he had to go to the bathroom so often that day (he was checking for the ring in his pocket after every ride).

See how I scrapbooked our proposal story here in my wedding scrapbook.

Improving My Photoshop Skills

Improving Photoshop Skills by Natalie Parker

It’s been a few months since I took a Skillshare class and started using Photoshop.  I want to take a few more of their Photoshop classes this summer.  But for now, I’m cruising along and learning some new stuff on my own!

If you understand the basics, it’s pretty easy to learn new tasks without a class.  Like many things in life, just Google it.

How I learned to make Animated GIFs

I’m going to use my new GIF skills as an example.  When I took a blog design class last year, it included instructions on how to make GIFs.  The problem was my version of Photoshop wasn’t the same and I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

By then I totally had my hopes up for creating GIFs so I had to find something.  Enter Google.

For a very specific task, it’s pretty easy to find someone who has published instructions or a video to help.  Just take what you want to do plus what program you want to do it in.  I searched create GIF CS6 because CS6 is the version of the program I’m using.  And boom!  I found instructions to tell me exactly how to do it.

The result?  I have cool GIFs that flip through each of my finished scrapbooks in my blog archives.

I use this same principle when fiddling with CSS when I can’t remember how to do something.  So many people put helpful instructions online!

Improving Photoshop Skills by Natalie Parker

Scrapbook Layout: Tahoe

Lake Tahoe Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Lake Tahoe Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Lake Tahoe Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Lake Tahoe Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

The Story: Mr. P and I visited his mom near Lake Tahoe for the weekend.

Paper from Argentina: I used the gold paper I carried back from Buenos Aires.  The little purple dots also came from the same shop.  Check out more about our time in Buenos Aires here.

Round Up: I went all crazy and rounded the photos.  I think it adds a softer look to the page.

Date Stamp: I don’t know how you people who use stamps regularly do it.  I think it took me 10-12 times to get it to satisfy me look right.

Lake Tahoe Scrapbook Layout by Natalie Parker

Fonts: Always in My Heart | Tools: Silhouette SD (headline), Epson Stylus R2000 (photos), Office Depot Date Stamp | Supplies: Pioneer SJ-100 Jumbo Scrapbook (scrapbook & pages), Epson Semigloss Photo Paper (photos), Papalera Palermo Gold & Purple Papers, Webster’s Pages/Citrus Squeeze/Backyard Fun (patterned paper) | Ephemera Included: none.

See thumbnails of all my scrapbook layouts here in my Scrapbook archives.

My 2015 Valentines

Valentine by Natalie Parker

Happy Valentine’s Day lovelies!

Just popping in to share my 2015 valentines.  I started designing and sending valentines to my girlfriends in 2013.  I love the chance to work on a different project and I love sending mail (obviously).

I also like to challenge myself to use up supplies.  This year, I had a bunch of 5×7 envelopes. 5×7 valentines here we come!  I’m in love with how it turned out — it’s huge.

I used a photo from a Paris market I took a couple of years ago.  Then I added some text on top in Photoshop (this easily could have been done in Picasa too).

Have a great weekend!

Earlier: 2013 Valentines, 2014 Valentines

Paris Week: the End (for now)

Notre Dame de Paris by Natalie Parker

Well phew.  That wraps up a week of posts dedicated to Paris, my favorite city.

I hope you enjoyed it and it helps on your next trip.  Even better, I hope it inspires you to take a trip!

A Week of Paris Tips

In case you missed anything, here’s a recap from the week:

Everyone’s Paris is Different
Best Tips for Visiting Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the Louvre

How to Eat Out in Paris: 11 tips
How to Ride the Paris Metro
Where to Eat the French Classics in Paris
The Best Walking Tours in Paris
Paris Champagne Tour
How to Pack Champagne Home from France
Map of My Paris Recommendations

Just the Beginning

I’m finished with this week and I already know I need more posts on Paris.  There’s still so much I haven’t shared with you!  Like where to sit and get champagne and ham, or my favorite place to read or fall asleep — this is important stuff, people.

Ah, Paris.  There’s always a reason to go back.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about your trip to Paris, please feel free to reach out and I’m happy to answer.