Using Scraps to Make a Headline

Using Paper Scraps by Natalie Parker

When I visited my parents for Thanksgiving, my mom was going through her fabric scraps.  She saves nearly every last bit of fabric to use in other projects.  She was trying to purge her collection a bit and told me I had no idea how hard it was to give up some of the small scraps because they could still be useful.

Actually, I knew exactly what she was talking about.  Instead of fabric, I save paper scraps.  Tiny ones.  Itty bitty ones.  I keep the tiny pieces in a tray on my craft table.

To begin my new 2007 album, I used my tiny scraps to make a headline.

I went through my box snipped a bunch of little pieces.  They are all about 1/8-inch wide.

Using Paper Scraps by Natalie Parker

I used my Silhouette to cut “2007” out of white stock and filled the negative space with the scraps.

Using Paper Scraps by Natalie Parker

Seems simple enough and pretty cool, right?  It took about an hour with scissors and tweezers, so it’s not for the faint of heart.

Using Paper Scraps by Natalie Parker

But, pretty cool way to use up the tiny scraps I’ve been hoarding.  I should probably still purge what’s left . . .

Springtime in Paris

Flowers booming along wrought-iron fence in St .Germain de Pres, Paris by Natalie ParkerView out an apartment window in Paris by Natalie ParkerBread, butter, ham and champagne in Paris by Natalie ParkerRue Maurice Utrillo in Montmarte, Paris by Natalie ParkerReading Hemingway in Paris by Natalie ParkerReading in Les Jardins des Tuleries in Paris, by Natalie ParkerBlooming trees outside Notre Dame, Paris by Natalie ParkerParkers at a Champagne bar by Natalie Parker

Mr. P and I spent last weekend in Paris because . . . why not?  We lucked out with the weather.  It was mild, the sun was out, and everything was blooming.

Thinking back to my post last week about the “right” amount of pictures to take on a vacation, how did I do?  I’m giving myself a B+ here.  We’ve been to Paris many times now, so I only took pictures occasionally.  I ended up with about 260 which I cut down to 132 after we got home.

I still wish I got more pictures of us during our trips.  Mr. P and I are painfully shy, so I only get up the nerve to ask someone to get our picture once or twice.

Le sigh.  Paris is easily my favorite city in the world.  I’m already missing the bread.

Taking the “Right” Amount of Photos on Vacation

Paris Vacation Photos by Natalie Parker

I was chatting with a friend this week about how to take the “right” amount of pictures on a vacation.  I could totally say “do what works for you,” but that’s not really helpful, is it?  If you’re someone who will later use your vacation photos for an album or scrapbook, here’s what I think.

If you take too few photos: you may find later that you don’t have much to work with album-wise (whether it’s a scrapbook, photo book or something else).  Don’t feel like you have to take pictures all the time, but maybe make sure you snap a few per day or per location and don’t forget to get at least one picture of yourself and travel companions together.

If you take too many photos: memory card space is cheap and it’s really tempting to snap away and figure it out later.  Mr. P used the multiple exposure setting in Antarctica.  When we got home, I had 2-3 shots of each photo.  A huge amount of photos can be very very overwhelming when you want to make an album and may make you avoid starting it.  If you end up with a ton of photos, make sure you sit down within one week of getting home to do a first cull.  Delete anything that’s blurry or bad.  If you have 2-3 of a shot, make a quick decision and keep one.  This way your set will be a bit tidier when you want to make an album.  It’s very hard to find the time and desire to go through photos right after vacation but trust me, if you have a ton, you should do it!  You won’t regret it!

How do you find that Goldilocks amount?  (as in, “just right”)  Practice, practice, practice.  I’ve had vacations with too few and too many photos.  When I do that initial cull right after I get back, I think about what worked and what didn’t.  I’m getting a lot better at getting the shots I want to get and knowing how to frame them.  I’ll take fewer but better ones.  I don’t think I’ll ever be perfect at it!

Thoughts on Scrapbooking a Vacation

Scrapbooking Vacations by Natalie ParkerI’ve scrapbooked two big vacations now, so I’m taking the time to reflect on the experience.

I didn’t take that many photos back then.  When Mr. P and I went to China last year, we took over 2000 photos.  For the honeymoon, I had less than 200 to work with.  Granted, it was only a week and the China trip was much longer, but I think it’s an interesting look at my changing ways.  Sometimes less is more – I need to keep that in mind for my next trip.

I only took “big time” photos.  I only took big scenery pictures and not much else.  No food.  I repeat: no food!  I also didn’t get many other details.  Big scenery pictures are great, but it’s very useful to have other bits to break up the pages and to show other people things you saw.

I mean, I didn’t even get a picture of the boat we took on our Na Pali Coast tour in Hawaii!  Or the speakeasy we ate at in New York that has since closed down and is trying to reopen!

I need to do a better job telling the stories.  Vacation layouts are hard.  There’s so much to include and I don’t want to do a mega-scrapbook for each one.  I do have vacation photobooks, but I still want the scrapbook layouts to have a lot of pictures.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the smaller interesting stories.

I showed Central Park but didn’t add the detail that it was windy and all the couples in rowboats were getting blown into the bushes (it was really funny).

Does the story about our crazy bus ride across rural China and being accosted by cab drivers deserve its own space?  Is it better to leave some stories to oral tradition?  I’m still debating about the right balance here.

I can’t capture everything in my scrapbook, I’ve long accepted that.  But I want to capture the “right” things but I’m not 100% sure what those are.

Have you scrapbooked big vacations before?  What have you learned?

On Traveling and Taking Pictures

Mr. P, being ever so thoughtful as normal, brought this CNN article to my attention recently.  It’s about travel, social media and technology and how those things affect how much of our travels we share with friends.

It’s a very interesting read and I agree with many of the author’s points.  It made me realize that there isn’t a right answer to this issue and it’s up to me to balance.

For example, I will still show pictures from my vacations on Facebook.  However, I do not “photo dump” every single picture I took for my friends to see.  I very carefully pick the best ones.  There’s nothing that makes me not care anymore about looking at someone’s trip as having to thumb through blurry pictures or 10 pictures of the same thing in a Facebook album.

Putting down the camera.  The author’s thoughts about putting the camera down are well taken.  Again, it’s balance.  I try to learn each trip how to better capture my experience with the camera.  Still, there are times when I just enjoy myself without worrying so much about photos.  That’s especially true when I’m at an overwhelming or famous site – sometimes it’s impossible to capture the enormity of a place.  I have surprisingly few pictures of the Egyptian Pyramids for this reason.

What do you think?  How do you handle these things when you travel?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on the article.

Yup, that’s me trying to figure out my friend’s camera on top of the Great Wall.

Minibook: Everything We Ate in China

China Food Travel MinibookI’ve never made a mini-book before.  Funny, right?

I wanted to do some sort of fun project about all the food we ate on our trip to China.  I started by taking a picture of everything we ate, beginning on the plane ride.  Mr. P and our friends were gracious in not touching anything on the table until I got a shot of it – they even reminded me to take photos!

Shopping in Beijing, I found this awesome little book.

China Food Travel MinibookI printed the food pictures as 2-inch squares when I got home, and then left a 1/8-inch white border when I cut them out.

China Food Travel MinibookI was a little concerned that the thickness of all the photos was going to mess with the binding of the book, but the finished product is actually pretty cool!

China Food Travel MinibookI sat in front of the TV with these supplies and went to work.

China Food Travel MinibookI used a date stamp to stamp each page with the date the meal corresponded to.

China Food Travel MinibookThen I taped in each picture and wrote a few words.

I also wrote divider pages for each city we were in.

China Food Travel MinibookNot bad for a first attempt?  I like how minibooks have an effortless look, so I hope I succeeded.

I’ve included a bunch of pages below so you can look at them.  I used over 80 photos, so this is just a sample!

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Why I Don’t Scrapbook on the Road – My Memory Keeping Strategy for Travel

Vacation Memory Keeping StrategyI don’t scrapbook on the road.

Scrapbooking on the road is very popular.  It’s one of those things that works for some people but doesn’t work for me.  Scrapbooking on the road is generally about taking a small minibook and some supplies and at least starting a vacation album while on vacation.

Why I don’t scrapbook on the road:  I’m too busy relaxing I don’t have time.  I wish I could say I spent time relaxing.  Truth is Mr. P and I pack way too much into our vacations.  I don’t think I could scrapbook if I wanted to.

Even if I could, I don’t want to spend the little downtime I have working on a project.  I barely have enough time to keep caught up on my travel journal.  Any extra time I try to spend actually relaxing.  Plus, I like being able to fully digest a trip before scrapbooking it.

Here is my memory keeping strategy for vacation/travel:

  1. Take a ton of pictures.  I took about 2000 in China.
  2. Collect all tickets, programs and other mementos in an envelope during the trip.
  3. Keep a travel journal documenting what we did on each day.  Instructions on how to make your own travel journal are here.
  4. As soon as I get home, go through my pictures and delete blurry/bad ones.  Finished this for the China trip already!
  5. Make a MyPublisher vacation photobook to take around to family.  More information on why I create vacation photobooks here.
  6. Carefully store mementos and get to the scrapbook when I want to.

The last one is key.  I don’t want to pressure myself to get scrapbooking done by a certain time.  It’s a hobby, I’ll get to it when I have time and when I’m feeling creative.  Anything aside from that wouldn’t be my best work and I wouldn’t enjoy myself.

Do you have a travel memory keeping strategy?  I’m all ears!  If you scrapbook on the road and it works for you, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

My New Travel Journal

Homemade Travel JournalSomebody has a vacation coming up.  *Wink wink*

Last year I posted about how and why I keep a travel journal.  It is a very simple low-impact way of keeping a record.  I haven’t scrapbooked that vacation yet but I’ve consulted the journal more than once to remember what we ate.

For a complete tutorial on how to make your own travel journal, visit my travel journal tutorial.

This year I was super pressed for time and cut corners by getting heavy patterned cardstock.  This means I skipped the step of gluing the patterned paper to plain cardstock.

Homemade Travel JournalThe cardstock is Perfect Posies from the 29th Street Market Line from My Mind’s Eye.  I picked it up at Michaels on Sunday.  I’m not much for distressing and cut the journal cover from an un-distressed area.

Homemade Travel JournalUsing patterned stock made this super quick.  I was running out of time to make this and threw it together.  It only took 15 minutes!  Okay, it was probably around 20 because Mr. P made me a margarita and I was enjoying that while finishing it.

Homemade Travel JournalDon’t forget to visit my travel journal tutorial for complete instructions on how to make a travel journal!

Make Your Own Travel Journal

Earlier, I talked about how I learned to keep a no-frills travel journal and how I found the perfect little notebook while I was in Paris.

Now I want one exactly like it for every trip I take!

Instead of scouring the stores, I realized I could make my own for next to nothing!

Supplies & Specs

This little notebook measures 4 7/8 inches wide by 5 7/8 inches tall. It contains 24 lined pages (or 48 back to back).

You will need:

  • 1 sheet patterned paper
  • 1 sheet cardstock
  • 12 sheets notebook paper
  • glue
  • stapler
  • corner rounder, optional

I used the travel journal I bought in Paris as a pattern to make this new one, but you can make yours any size you like. If you are planning on using standard binder paper, don’t make it more than 5 inches wide.

Supplies, using old travel journal as a pattern.

Travel Journal Tutorial

First, cut your patterned paper and sheet of cardstock out into rectangles. Make the rectangles slightly larger than you need. For example, I needed something 9 3/4 inches wide, so I cut a rectangle that was 10 inches.

The two sheets do not have to match up perfectly! You will correct that later.

Rough cut of cardstock and patterned paper.

The cardstock is used to give the patterned paper some heft so the cover isn’t flimsy. If your patterned paper is heavy on it’s own, you can skip this part.

Glue the patterned paper to the cardstock. I used Mod Podge for this.

Gluing the patterned paper to the cardstock with Mod Podge.

I didn’t want this to ripple at all. I smoothed the layers out with a ruler as I glued.

Then, I set the glued pages in between 2 sheets of newspaper and several heavy books to dry. I figured this would prevent ripples from forming while it dried.

To keep ripples from forming, dry between newspaper and very heavy books.

Next, take the dried piece and trace out how big you want your journal to be. Again, I used my old one as a guide.

Now that it’s dry, trace out how big you want the journal to be.

Cut it out and you should have nice clean edges. If anything comes unglued, touch it up with a glue stick. Fold the cover carefully. If the ends don’t match up exactly, they can be trimmed later.

Fold it over carefully. If the sides don’t match up, they can be trimmed later.

Now, cut your notebook paper. Use the cover of your notebook as a guide. I cut 4 sheets at a time to make sure the cuts were precise.

Use the cover as a guide to measure and cut the binder paper.

Stack the sheets neatly and paper clip them to the cover.

Paper clip the sheets to the cover.

Now to staple: you could take this to an office supply store or copy center and borrow one of their large staplers. I was impatient but my stapler wasn’t long enough to staple the binding.

Solution? I used my bulletin board! I placed the book onto the bulletin board and stapled through the book and into the board.

Stapling through the book into the bulletin board (I was too impatient to wait a day and get a bigger stapler).

Remove the book from the bulletin board and press the staples closed.

Press the staples closed.

Fold the book closed and trim off the excess paper sticking out.

Fold and trim!

Finally, I used a corner-rounder to round all of the corners. This step is optional.

Round the corners (optional).

It’s that simple!

My new little notebook is finished and ready for it’s adventure.

Tips & Ideas

  • Use any patterned paper you have on hand.
  • If the paper is heavy enough, skip the step about gluing it to cardstock.
  • Use whatever lined paper you have around the house to fill the book.
  • Consider using plain paper to make this into a sketchbook!
  • Make several of these and give one to each of your kids for a family trip.

Keeping a Travel Journal

How do you keep track of your travel memories?

The husband and I took a two week vacation to France last year. Friends asked if I was going to write a travel blog during the vacation. Nope, I didn’t want to spend any time writing when I could be eating baguettes.

Still, how am I going to remember everything?

I will always remember what it felt like to stand on Omaha Beach in Normandy. But how will I remember what we did each day? Will I remember the names of the places we ate?

This is especially a problem if you don’t scrapbook the vacation immediately.

My French Travel Journal

Our second day in Paris, I saw this little thing at a shop. It was perfect!

It was barely larger than my hand and fit neatly in my purse.

This is small and fit in my purse.

Whenever we had a free moment, I jotted down very basic things:

  • The date and what we did on each day.
  • Names of places we ate at.
  • What we ate.

So when I look back at my travel journal and read about sitting in a cafe near the Louvre and writing postcards to our family –

Writing postcards in a cafe near the Louvre.

I will remember this:

What are my plans for this little book now? You mean other than wistfully dreaming of Paris?

I’ll use the information in the book as prompts to help scrapbook later down the road. If I want to, the book is small enough to fit in my scrapbook itself!

Tips & Ideas

  • Keep a small travel journal to keep track of basic vacation things.
  • Make the journal compact and easy to carry.
  • Keep it simple! Write down the basics so you won’t take up too much time.
  • Use the journal to guide your scrapbooking later.
  • Consider gluing the book itself into your scrapbook!