Project Life ~ Week 14 ~ April 1-7


I used the Studio Wendy “Pocket Page Actions” for the first time while making this spread. I’ll do a more thorough post at some point about what they do, but for now I’ll say there were things I liked and things I found disappointing. This was a relatively quick spread to put together, however, and the actions played a big part.

I learned a lot from last week’s PL blog hop! Keli at WhimsiKel, in her great PL process post, introduced me to a bunch of new apps, including PicFrame, Snapseed, and Phonto. Inspired, I decided to try editing my photos on my phone. It turned out to be quick and fun and has brought some of the joy back to photo editing! For this page I made the photo collage in PicFrame and edited the square Instagram-looking photos (which started life as regular photos) in Snapseed.


One thing I tried this time was just using a single kit. For the Studio Wendy actions, it’s good if you have all your materials in one folder, which turned out to be great for me. I gathered together everything I wanted to use – photos, journal cards, and all the pieces I wanted to use from the kit I chose (Mommyish’s Just Me kit). I also made each of the mini layouts in the 4×6 pockets in advance. I think in the future I’ll want to use a larger kit, to have available a greater variety of papers, but it was very streamlining to have all my papers color-coordinated and ready to go. The Pocket Pages actions have you add embellishments to your page so I experimented with that as well; the confetti on both pages and the doily on the right are from the same kit. I waited until after the layout was all placed using the actions before I recolored all my journal cards (made by the fabulous and prolific Marmite Mamie) to match the kit colors.


I had a few other pictures I could have used this week, but I decided to finally get in one of those “currently” cards I’ve been wanting to do. It’s difficult for me – I want to tell the story of why I am watching each show, how I found out about each band, etc., not just list them. I’ll have to sit with it for a while before I have a sense of whether or not this list form will ultimately be helpful for me as a memory keeping component.

All in all this is one of my least favorite layouts in terms of how it looks. It’s so plain Jane! It’s also on the dark and simple side, which I actually did intentionally because it was such a hard week, moodwise, and I didn’t want to make the layout incongruously cheerful. I did make it pretty quickly (quickly for me, it still took many hours), though, and I think that may be more important, especially as I get further behind. I certainly don’t hate how it looks, and the pictures and stories have now been recorded and presented in a fun way.

I’m linking this up to the wonderful Project Life Tuesday roundup over at The Mom Creative. There are always so many delightful ideas and inspirations! There’s also a linky for people using the Currently card that I think I’ll check out as well, so head over to rukristin papercrafts to check out lots of “Currently” ideas.

Photos edited on phone with Snapseed, PicFrame
Layouts made using Studio Wendy ~ Scrap It Pocket Pages action
top 4×6 template: Biograffiti ~ Card Collection No. 1, others made by me
Kit (papers, alpha): Mommyish ~ Just Me
“Week of” title: PS Please Send Chocolate freebie
Date circles: Alison Pennington ~ Bucket List Doodles
Date number tags: Misty Cato ~ A Wink and a Smile Date Bits freebie
Tape from paper tutorial & template: Ian Pullen at
Journal cards: Marmite Mamie ~ Don’t Forget to Write It Down (free!)
Calendar card: Marmite Mamie ~ Cloud 9 Calendar Cards (free!)
Graph paper: Fuzzimo ~ free seamless notebook textures
Currently stamp: rukristin paper crafts
Fonts: Amelie, CK Ali’s Hand, American Typewriter, Cabin Sketch Bold

Project Life ~ Week 15 ~ April 8-14


One thing that’s interesting about getting behind and choosing to always work on the most recent week is that when I journal about longer arcs sometimes I’m not sure how much to say, because I don’t know yet what I will have previously talked about (in terms of thinking of these pages reading one after another like a book or journal) because those pages haven’t been written. For example, I’ve been in a horrible fog/unhappiness for a month, since the fire, and this past week it both got really bad and I finally started to pull out of it a little. But to talk about that I decided to write about the unhappiness in general even though most of it happened prior to this week – who knows if I’ll have room in the as-yet-unmade previous layouts or want to focus on that theme. Since no matter how I approach this project I keep returning to wanting it to be my personal journal, I’d rather repeat myself than leave out something important.


I love the colors and paint/artiness of this week. They go so well with the drifty, zoned out space I’ve been in, and the mutedness seems appropriate to a spread with so many difficult feelings. The first kit I tried, based on colors and because I’ve been wanting to use it for a while, was, ironically The Glad Project from Truman Studio. Not surprisingly, way too cheerful and totally wrong for the mood of the pages. The doodle of the falling girl came in the Scrapflower collab I used for all the journal papers. She was originally flying up in the air, but I flipped her and she captures pretty perfectly what things have been like for me. I was delighted to be able to use an alpha from one of the talented women in my PixelScrapper community. I got this alpha from The Emily Files during our recent Birds and Bees blog train, and I remembered it when I was making this spread and it’s like it was meant to be. Such nice quality, too. Also: more square corners! I’m into them. I think I like the look better than rounded right now…


I’m annoyed about something. These stitched pocket pages by Valerie Wibbens were some of the first scrapbook products I spent money on. I bought three packs, plus an extra set of rounded-corner templates, so it was a not-insignificant investment. But you know what? They’re not even! The various journal blocks and the stitched or perforated sections aren’t the same size! This just BUGS me. Everything about them – the price, that they’re sold at The Lilypad, the packaging design, the fact that I’d seen a bunch of other people use them for their PL pages – led me to assume they’d be good quality. But that’s about the most basic fail you can have in a template that’s supposed to be mathematically even. Grr. Can you imagine if the Project Life brand digital templates had different sized journal card spots all over them? It would be ridiculous.

Ah, well, I’m so blessed in so many other ways when it comes to supplies. Almost everything I used here I got for free, and I think the papers, especially, are just gorgeous.

Linking this up with Project Life Tuesday over at The Mom Creative. Can’t wait to go check out what everyone made this week!

Pocket Page template: Valerie Wibbens ~ Stitched Pockets No 6
All papers in journal spots: Scrapflower ~ Daydream Collab
Background papers: Ardent Sparrow ~ The Ombre Kraft papers
Doodles: Marisa Lerin (rain cloud), Scrapflower Collab (cloud, girl, flower), HG Design (corners) (heart), Allison Pennington (kite), Just Jaimee (speech bubbles), Photoshop Daily (swirl)
Graph paper: Amy Jaz ~ Fresh Start JCs
Tape: Sugary Fancy ~ Dear Old Love Add-on
Alpha: The Emily Files ~ Birds & Bees Blog Train
Frame: Sabee’s Creative World ~ Be YOU free kit 
Fonts: Bebas Neue, American Typewriter, Mari&David

Project Life Blog Hop

Today I am participating in a Project Life Blog Hop, hosted by Margie of Nihao, Cupcake! I am a very silly person to have scheduled this for myself, as I will be in class for 12 hours Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (needless to say this post is being written in advance) and currently have a 15 page paper and a hundred or so pages of reading still to do. But this is way more fun! If you read my blog with any frequency you’ll know I’m a wordy girl, both in PL spreads (“Now how can I squeeze in more journaling…”) and in my blogging. But today I’m going to get straight to the goods and then get back to writing that paper!

If you want to check out my latest Project Life spread, it’s one post back and I’d be delighted for you to take a look. For today, however, I wanted to share two of the reminders/tips that I rely on in making my PL pages. I do my PL digitally, using Photoshop, so that’s who these tips will be most useful for (although you can also use them to work with your materials, photos and journal cards, if you edit them digitally before printing). These will seem very basic to many of you, but I have to constantly remind myself of them, so I am hoping whether it’s new or a nudge, they will be helpful to some.

1) Screen! Screen like the wind!

I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make my weekly PL assembly take less time. One of the best tricks I’ve found is for quick-and-dirty photo editing in Photoshop. I don’t have a real camera (I use my iPhone 4) and so sometimes my photo looks like crap (usually too dark or oversaturated), but then I don’t want to take the time (or don’t have the time) to muck around with actions and textures and fancy-pants adjustments. The best thing about this particular adjustment is I can do it after the photo is already in its spot on my layout. So I can put together my layout and then if I have a little extra time I can do a quick finesse of the photos to make them look not-so-crap.


Now, I’m not saying this has suddenly become an awesome, or even a well-edited photograph. However I think it’s a serious improvement that you can now actually *see* what the photograph is of. Just sayin’.

Here’s what I do:
1) Duplicate the photo layer (command/control-J)
2) Change the Blending Mode of the new layer to Screen (the blending modes are found in the drop-down menu at the top of the layers palette, see diagram below). Your picture will magically look better! This is quick and dirty so we won’t go into why right now. You can also experiment with the modes Mulitply (good for overexposed pics) and Overlay.
3) If the picture is now overexposed/too light, lower the opacity of the Screen layer. (The opacity control is found at the top of the layers palette, see diagram below.)
4) If the picture still needs lightening up, you can duplicate the Screen layer and then adjust the opacity of the resulting layer until it’s juuuust right.

2) Don’t forget you can recolor!

There are so many great freebie Project Life materials out there, but I usually end up making my own or using a kit because there is rarely a freebie journal card or filler card that matches whatever color scheme I have going. I forget that because I am doing this digitally, I have the power to basically make everything match! The real tip here is DON’T FORGET! that you have this power, but I am also going to show you a quick and dirty way to recolor on the fly.
Let’s say I want to use this cute freebie journal card from Persnickety Prints but I don’t like the orange, so I want to make it match this set of papers I’m making for the PixelScrapper April Paper-a-Day Challenge.
1) Make a copy of the original card (Image > Duplicate) to work on so you don’t risk accidentally changing the original forever.
2) Use the eyedropper tool to select a color you want from whatever paper or kit or even photo you’re trying to match. In this case I started by selecting a nice dark lavender to recolor the word “Today.”
3) Go to your copied card. You may need to do Layers > New > Layer from background if your card is currently a locked background rather than a layer.
3a) In the Layers palette, click the “Lock transparent pixels” button. This is really important! If you don’t do this you may end up with horrible “jaggies” – ugly jagged bits poking out everywhere instead of smooth lines.
4) With the color you want to use for recoloring selected, select the Paint Can tool (command/control-G).
4a) What is going to happen here is that you’re going to use the Paint Can to click a part of your journal card (I would click on some part of the word “today” in this case). The Paint Can will recolor pixels that are the same color as the place where you clicked.
4b) If you have Contiguous checked up in the top menu for the Paint Can, it will only recolor within the area you clicked, up to the boundaries of that continuous area. But if Contiguous is not clicked, it will recolor everything in the document that is in that color. I unchecked Contiguous when I recolored the arrow, and it recolored the bottom orange stripe at the same time. If I had wanted the arrow and stripe to be different colors, I would have needed to make sure I had checked Contiguous.
4c) You can adjust the Tolerance (next to Contiguous) to fine-tune this. If the chevrons at the bottom had been cream instead of yellow, for example, I might have wanted to reset the tolerance to be very low (so the Paint Can will only recolor pixels that are very similar to the one I am clicking on) so it didn’t also recolor the white background. A higher tolerance will include a wider range of pixels in the recoloring.
4d) Make sure the Opacity of the Paint Can is at 100%, unless you’re trying to do some fancy color blending. If you recolor but end up with a color that isn’t the one you were expecting, check the Opacity setting.
4e) Yep, like the edited photo above, the results aren’t perfect. There are faint orange outlines remaining around the arrow and the bottom stripe. Sometimes you can fix this by adjusting the Tolerance, making it higher (to include more of those orange pixels). Other times you just trill “Good enough!,” throw that recolored card into your PL spread, and go back to reading about Child Therapy. For example. 🙂

Ah, darlings, there was so much more I wanted to say to you and share with you, but I’m out of time and so it will have to be saved for a future blog hop, I suppose. If you want to explore what I’ve done with my Project Life so far this year, you can check that out here, and I wish you luck with your Projects as well!

Here is your roadmap for the rest of this hop:

Michelle R
Michelle B
Scrumptious << YOU ARE HERE
Rechelle << GO HERE NEXT

Project Life ~ Week 12 ~ March 18-24

AAAGH there’s so much I want to say, so many photos I want to include, so many stories I want to tell. But I can’t even keep up with one PL spread a week, much less extras. It’s been my intention to have a simple round-up collage page at the end of each month with all the extra photos from that month. But a) I haven’t had time to do it for any of the past months and b) I keep wanting the stories of those photos to be told as well.

Anyways, on to the layout I actually did get done. The whole chalkboard trend hadn’t particularly caught my fancy up until now, but somehow things just evolved for this spread and I found myself chalking away. This chalk-effect tutorial was a helpful starting point. I discovered that the Function Subtle Grunge brush “Soft Concrete Texture” does a great chalk imitation.This was the first time the loose style of my MLE Card Days of the Week stamps worked with my theme, and it’s always fun to use up-til-now neglected supplies. I also think this is the one time when my blurred-out-for-posting-online text kind of matches the theme, like a partly erased chalkboard. Kinda cool. What do you think?The birds on the second page don’t really go with the rest, but I wanted to include something to symbolize that I spent the weekend working on designs for the PixelScrapper blog train; the collage birds are some of the things I made to give away.


I am constantly evaluating my PL process to try to figure out where the holdups are. One thing that seems to take a tremendous amount of time is, ironically, the reason I switched from paper to digital: having a mix of vertical and horizontal photos. Back in 2011, when I switched midway through the year, it was becoming too constraining trying to get my pics to fit into the premade plastic pocket pages when I had a different mix of horizontal and vertical photos each week. But now I see the same issue brings different challenges in digi. I am basically making a new layout design every single week. So the potential time savings from templates? Gone. The time I could save by using the Wendyzine Pocket Page actions I bought a couple of weeks ago and haven’t used yet? Gone.

I wonder if I can speed things up if I either devote myself to taking only horizontals (so tough!) or only square Hipstamatic or Instagram pics. I know I can always do horizontal pages with my verticals in the 3×4 pockets, but in this layout, I loved that pic of my friend in front of the street art heart, and the one of my mom’s boyfriend looking all French café. I wouldn’t have wanted to make those tiny when aesthetically they’re the most interesting in the spread.


Well, it’s a continuing process. I am at this point nearly 50% behind. I still fantasize, however, that I will find the magic formula that will make this the quick and easy process it was invented to be, and after that, everything will be a breeze. 😉

I’ll be adding this to the big Project Life Tuesday roundup at The Mom Creative. I love checking out what everyone is up to. On busy weeks (and when isn’t a busy week?) I mostly just look at the digital spreads and the spreads of paper PLers who comment here. I get too angsty about techniques and ideas I can’t implement when I look at too many paper pages!

Background: Tracy Martin ~ Chalk It Up Freebie
Chevron paper, journal card: Red Ivy Design ~ Heartfelt Add-on
Brushes: Christine Smith ~ Spray Mists, Function ~ Subtle Grunge
Texture on café photos: Michelle Kane Photography ~ Epoch Textures freebie
Collage birds: Scrumptiously ~ The Birds and the Bees blog train
Frame: Just Jaimee ~ Chalk Journal Cards freebie
Date stamps: MLE Card ~ Days of the Week stamps freebie
Fonts: Mon Bijoux, Bergamot Ornaments (“TO” ornament), Lobster, CK Ali’s Hand

Pixel Scrapper April Challenge ~ Design a Paper a Day

I am participating in a challenge over at Pixel Scrapper, to make a paper every day (following a designated theme) for the month of April. I love making papers, so this is exciting. We’ll see how far I get. At the end of the month I’ll probably make the entire paper pack available as a freebie. The palette I’ll be using (this is not my own artwork! just using the colors for inspiration – the image is from The Caroline Johansson blog):


I’ll post credits for all the marvelous resources I’ve used at the end of the month. For now I am mostly using this post as a place to store my images so I can link to them on the PixelScrapper forum.

Continue reading

Pixel Scrapper April Blog Train ~ The Birds & the Bees


Pinterest inspiration board for the blog train

I thought I wasn’t going to be able to make anything for this round of the Pixel Scrapper blog train. I started working on February’s offering way back in the beginning of December, and it took me the full two months to get everything made. I’ve been incredibly busy lately because of school & the fire & being ill & general life busyness. I also don’t love the color palette for this round, and while the theme is fun – “The birds and the bees” – it felt much more abstract than “retro kitchen” in terms of generating ideas. I’m also really not into “cute” stuff, just a personal preference, and I wasn’t sure how to pull together this palette and theme into something I would personally want to scrap with.

Palette for the blog train

Palette for the blog train

But then the gals over at Pixel Scrapper did a little preview of coming attractions a week or so ago, with people posting previews of what they’d made. Everything was so fun and interesting, with so much variety, and I started to get excited about the possibility of making something. I sat down that weekend and the creativity started flowing, and I ended up having a great time!

I made my first art journal page a couple of weeks ago. So for this blog train I decided to try making my first art journal materials. I drew inspiration from a couple of my art journal design heroes – Christine Smith, who designed the mini I used for my first art journal page, and Sissy Sparrows, two sisters who have an aesthetic that just knocks my socks off when it comes to art journal design. Take a look at Christine’s Brighter Days Ahead minikit (which is free on her blog!) and Sissy Sparrows’ Glitter & Glue Overlays and it will be quite obvious how much inspiration I drew from studying the work of these talented designers. Christine’s Spray Mist Brushes and spray mist stencil tutorial were also invaluable. A final source of art journal inspiration was the talented Andrea Boyer of Lifescapes, which I think may have gone out of business.  (Her “Botanica” kit directly inspired one of my art journal papers.)

I did all kinds of stuff I’ve never done before, both in terms of the kinds of materials I made and the techniques I used to make them. I was gratified at how quickly it still came together, though. Last time was a 2-month slog, this time I was basically finished in 2 days. Most of that I attribute to how much I’ve learned. My Photoshop skills are leaps and bounds above where they were at the end of 2012.


But there was another factor that helped me move faster this time. Last time I made sure all my final products were okay for commercial use. That meant all the commercial use products I used (brushes, textures, overlays, graphics, etc.) had to be “CU4CU” – not only okay to use commercially in making these freebies for you, but also okay for you to then go on to use the freebies however you wanted to. This is actually fairly uncommon, especially among free CU products. So I spent a lot of those two months tracking down resources that would fit the bill, or arduously making things myself to use. This time I wanted to focus on being creative and having a wonderful time. So I didn’t even worry about whether things were plain old CU or CU4CU, and I think this helped me go a lot faster.

So the way it worked out is that some of the things I made for you – the glitter styles, which I made from scratch, the glitter overlays, and the collage bird elements – I can offer to you under a CU license, and you can go off and make whatever you want with them. The rest – the papers, the borders, and the art overlays – incorporate some resources that limit the license I can offer to personal use only. I’ve put them in separate downloads because I know some of the blog train “shoppers” from Pixel Scrapper only download stuff with a CU license. I feel okay about how this worked out, because the things that would be most useful to reuse in your own designs, like the styles and overlays, are CU.

Up first are the PERSONAL USE ONLY materials. This zip file includes 5 art journaling papers/backgrounds, 3 page borders (including a fun one made of feathers!) and 1 small border, and 5 glittery, doodled art overlays to fancy up your art journal pages. Where do you stand on having words included in your art-journal collage-y designs? I think it looks cool, but that it also makes the designs much less versatile. So for those of you who feel the same way, I’ve put versions of the art overlays without the typed words on them in a separate zip file.

Blog train freebie links only stay up for a limited time (though you can still find older blog train goodies if you explore the blog). My The Birds & the Bees kit is no longer available here on the blog – however it may soon be available at Pixel Scrapper.


Next up are the COMMERCIAL USE items. I’m totally in love with the collage birds, this is just exactly the kind of thing that grabs my attention when I’m browsing designs. I don’t even want to admit how long I spent looking for the perfect book page scan to use in the swallow collage, finally finding a great scan from a book about birds at The Vintage Moth. The vintage map was a great find, too – I didn’t need to recolor it at all, and it complements the blog train palette perfectly. The glitter styles come in two varieties for each color. There is one that’s more chunky, and one that’s more fine. The fine glitter style doesn’t look very glittery in the preview, but it really shines (ha!) when applied to very small/fine items (like the smaller honeycomb pattern of the glitter overlays). I feel like I still have a ways to go on learning to make glitter (I made these following tutorials at Pixel Scrapper and Pugly Pixel) but hopefully these will still be useful to you as you make your fabulous art journal pages! (Glitter styles come in .asl form only, apologies to everyone who can’t use .asl styles, I just didn’t have it in me to make other versions.) As for the glitter overlays (which are not black, they are just the glittery parts and the rest is see-through), you can place them over a paper, of course – they’re 12×12 – but I think they also look really cool clipped to a messy mask that fades out at the edges, like the gold honeycomb in the art overlay above. Very art-journal-y! (Direct download links below the previews.)


Preview_glitter copy


As always, if you use any of these for any purpose, I would be thrilled to get an email or a comment with a link to where I can check out your work. Thanks!

You can find the rest of the blog train here, back at the PixelScrappers forums. Have fun!