Project Life 2016

I love this time of year when it comes to scrapbooking. A fresh album, fresh approach and a fresh start. This year I've decided to go and do something radical: I've quit my monthly subscriptions. Sounds crazy and scary, right? I'm used to a kit (or three) arriving on my door step each month and nothing brings me more join than delving into new supplies - so why am I quitting? Let me explain.  

This year I'm planning to make some big changes to my lifestyle. In order to manage these big changes, I'm going to need big funds. So I've decided to cut my spending back to the bones and live frugally for a while - which I'm actually really excited about! Frugal living (and minimalist living, too) has interested me for a long time and whilst I usually try to live sensibly, and well within my means, I do have the occasional splurge (or four) every once in a while. Do these splurges bring me happiness? Sometimes. Would a big change in lifestyle bring me a great deal more happiness? Definitely! So I'm jumping on the frugal bandwagon and challenging myself to live on minimal funds. I do enjoy a challenge and finding creative ways to spend and live on less will be just that. 

So how will I be documenting 2016 with no new products? I'll be shopping my stash, of course! I'm a terrible hoarder and I can safely say I stash about 50% of my favourite scrapbooking items for 'best.' I don't know exactly when I intend to use these 'best' items - who knows! All I know is that I have a terrible habit of stashing away a number of my favourite items, only occasionally removing them from the drawer to swoon over them, then tuck them neatly back inside. Sound familiar? I know I'm not alone! So the other day I decided to do the unthinkable: I emptied my drawer (and a couple of baskets). I got everything out and sorted it into four boxes: album 1 (Jan-March), album 2 (April - June), things to give away and everything else. Boy did it feel good to sort everything out! I put all of my cutesy, pastel cards and embellishments into my April-June box and most of my bolder colours in the 'everything else' box (for use later in the year). Items I know I will never use, those which aren't my style, I put into a spare box (which I'll give away). It's amazing how many supplies a person can accumulate over a year! With new scrapping goodies arriving at my doorstep (and via digital download) every month, there was no way I would ever get around to using all of my older (but still gorgeous, shiny, new and on trend) items. I just don't have enough to document! So using what I already have makes sense for 2016 and I get to enjoy putting together my own 'kits' (for free!).

For the start of the year, I've stuck to mostly cards from the last few Studio Calico Project Life/Documenter kits which I've hardly touched and embellishments from SC and a few other places (see below). I already had my album sorted: I invested in (read: impulse bought) an Ashley Goldberg 'Goldie' 6x8 album a while back from Studio Calico which is all ready to go on my shelf. I've chosen 6x8 this time as my theory is: smaller pages = less time scrapping. I struggled keeping up with my weekly 9x12 pages when I started my new job, so hopefully 6x8 and a more relaxed approach will help me keep up to date. I also have 2015 to finish (it's patchy towards the end of the year), December Daily (lost my mojo for this), my 12x12 wedding album and my 6x8 New York album (part of which I'll be sharing over the weekend) among other projects. 

So here is my drawer all set up for the new year! As you can see, I've divided it using some old patterned gift boxes and separated all of the different items so that I can see everything. Generally, if I can't see it, I won't think to use it. 

As I said already, most of my cards are from the Studio Calico Project Life/Documenter kits from Oct-Dec. I'll also have January's Studio Calico cards to add to this, as It's too late to cancel January's kit now. I'll just have to let that one go. On top of those, I also purchased (impulse-bought) the Goldie pocket cards when I bought the album. The bright colours all mash together pretty nicely with the SC colours. I realise this is way too many cards for three months but I like options. The leftovers will just get fed back into a 'kit' later on in the year. 

Stickers! I'm changing it up a little bit this year as I'm going to try to include some planner stickers (the tiny coffee cups and shopping bags pictured are from Obsessed with Cute) as embellishments. I want my layouts to be a bit more fun and a little less sensible. I'm also hoping to include more bits and pieces this year: receipts, tickets, doodles, that sort of thing. 'Real life' stuff. 

I'll still be a fair few wood and cork pieces in 2016, they're always a favourite as they add texture and a natural element. That emoji tape - I can't wait to use it! I snagged it in the Black Friday sales from Studio Calico - win! As per usual, I'll be pairing small embellishments with tiny stamps. I've not included them in my drawer as I'm giving myself free rein with stamps at the moment, though I've got a few prioritised in a box on top of my desk. Stamping is still my no.1 way to embellish pocket cards. 

New to this year: I'm going to be using a planner to help with my memory keeping. The idea is that I jot down in it things that happen in the day so I can include them in my Project Life (and not forget them!). So I won't be using it to plan but more as a diary. This one is from Hema UK and has lots of pockets in it, too, for storing bits and pieces. Hopefully, should I fall behind with my PL, I can use my notes to catch up and not have any awkward spaces in my album where I'm trying to figure out exactly what I did with that week ("I must have done more than take selfies with my dog and photograph my lunch, surely?"). Also, writing before bed time might be relaxing. I'll let you know. 

Photographs... I'll still be printing at home so the Truprint packet is a little misleading. I recently got a deal from Truprint, however, for 50 4x6 prints for £10 including postage, so if you do get your photos printed it's worth being on the mailing list for Amazon Local or Groupon and keeping an eye out. I usually get mine printed if I'm doing a mini album as I like the quality and I always worry that my home printed pictures will fade over time (those in the packet above are my wedding pictures). Perhaps someone can alleviate my fear of this? I like to document my weekly layouts straight away (that's when I'm most excited to scrap them!) so I have to print at home. I use an ordinary printer and moderately priced photo paper. I do my resizing in Serif Craft Artist, an old program but a goodie. 

That's everything for now. The only thing I haven't decided on is journalling. I'll be typing again (my handwriting is blah!) but I'm not sure what I'll be typing on to or what font I'll be using. Your guess is as good as mine. Well, anyway, have a happy New Year! See you all in 2016.

Gossamer Blue November Blog Hop

Hi everyone! I'm so pleased to be joining the DT for this month's blog hop. November's kits have simply blown me away and made documenting this month an absolute breeze. My pocket layouts practically fell together, thankfully, as it's been a crazy busy couple of months over here with a wedding and honeymoon going on!

I'm going to talk to you today about my pocket layouts - these are always my favourite! Both of the layouts I created this month document special moments from the morning before my wedding; one shows me and the girls getting ready and the other documents a very special surprise for my husband.

For my pocket cards, I used the 4x6 and 3x4 cards from the Life Pages kit and some paper from the main kit that I cut down. There were so many great designs this month that I personalised using puffy stickers, enamel hearts and other little bits and bobs from the kits. Some cards I left quite simple and on others I grouped quite a few small embellishments together. Cork is a firm favourite of mine, so the cork pieces and number stickers this month were a big hit with me! 

I love how I was able to catch the mood of the morning through the photographs I chose and the pastel colours. On the right page, in the photograph in the top left hand corner, my friend snapped me reading a sweet note from my then hubby-to-be. I'm so glad that she caught this moment - I'm equally glad that another friend popped in and lent us his selfie stick! As we took a group selfie, he took a photo of us taking a selfie! 

For my next layout, I used cards from the Life Pages kit and some papers from Amy Tangerine's Fingers Keepers 6x6 pad (which you can find in the bits and pieces add on). I found that there were quite a few cards and papers with a red/blue/baby pink combination so I stuck with that and introduced a little yellow and some natural embellishments to complement those colours. Again, I stamped and layered until I was happy with the look. On the top left card, I stamped a word at a time so that I could change the way the phrase was laid out (which was horizontally). All I did was bend the part of the stamp I didn't want inked over the back of the acrylic block whilst I stamped the word I wanted. Easy peasy! 

 This double spread documents the moment when my husband was called outside, on the morning of our wedding day, because his uncle had turned up unexpectedly in a very special vehicle! The last time this car ran was about 25 years ago and it's the car that drove Mr C's parents to their wedding, so he was really surprised and really touched. We were told the car wouldn't make it, so It was an amazing surprise! 

That's all from me for today. Thanks for stopping by and make sure you check out what all of the Gossamer Blue DT ladies have been up to this month! 

xoxo Amy Challis Andrea Gray Brenda Weaver Diane Payne Emily Spahn Eunyoung Lee France Wisniewski Jill Keller Kasia Przybyt Kellie Winnell Kelly Xenos Michelle Wedertz Olatz Garaiyurrebaso Sandra Dietrich Stephanie Buice

New York Travel Mini - Gossamer Blue November kits

It's been so long since I've updated the blog, I half expected it to have disappeared! Between a wedding, a honeymoon and trying find that ever elusive work/life balance, I haven't had a great deal of time for sharing online except for a few pics here and there on Instagram (find me @amychallisuk - new name now that I'm a Mrs!). I've also been guest designing for Gossamer Blue this month which has been such a pleasure. November's GB blog hop goes live tomorrow at 8am EST so make sure you check out what the DT have been up to this month! Before then, I thought I'd get in with a sneaky post and show you the first two pages of my New York mini. 

For these pages, I used papers and embellishments from the Gossamer Blue November kits. I love the candy colours of this month's main kits! They shouldn't work for autumn/winter but somehow they just do. The stripy paper on the right is a 4x6 pocket card and the spotty paper on the left was cut down from a sheet of 12x12 card. I was going to save the paperclip for my planner, but it does a great job of holding these business cards in place. 

I'm not too sure yet how this layout will fit in with the rest of my album, which I've chosen a much darker colour scheme for, but we'll see how it goes! FYI, if you are ever in Manhattan make sure you visit Momofuku's Milk bar (especially if you are a big kid, like me!). The milkshakes are out of this world and I fell in love with the compost cookies (filled with chocolate chips, crisps and a mish-mash of other crumbs!). 

Weekend Inspiration #4

1. Perfection every time. She is one of my scrapbooking heroes! Check this out at Studio Calico.

2. Jessy Christopher does it again, this time over at Felicity Jane.Love the colours here. 

3. Love what Leigh's doing with Week in the Life. 

4. Planner inspo over at Maggie Holmes' blog. 

5. This one just jumped out at me! Go here for a closer look. 

Project Life 2015 - Week 31

I have to write something today about embellishments and stamping. I was over at the Studio Calico message boards earlier this afternoon and found a thread where people were sharing what was going well/not so well with their Project Life this year so far. To my surprise, several scrappers mentioned using embellishments on the not-so-great list: they're too time consuming, they over complicate the process... I have to say it right now - I love embellishments! I really couldn't disagree more with all the embellishment negativity. Don't get me wrong, everyone has their own personal style and yours might be more minimalist than mine. But embellishments aren't difficult to use, not when you know how to use them well.

I also included stamping above because I think stamps are the most underrated, underused item in most people's craft stash. Stamps didn't even get a mention in the good/bad lists over at Studio Calico - which is such a shame! I can't rave enough about stamps. You know the most magic thing about stamps? You can use them over and over again and they don't run out. Magic. They're also a great way to get text onto your cards that is super neat (compared to my handwriting!) without putting your journalling cards through the printer which is, lets face it, hard work.

I do have a few rules when it comes to using embellishments and stamps. When I follow these rules, I always end up with a layout that feels finished without being 'busy.' For me, it's a never fail combination! The first tip for using embellishments and stamps is this: pair them up.

Rule 1. Use your embellishments and stamps together. 

Simple, right?

Rule 2. Keep 'em small. 

Also very simple. Tiny phrases and shape stamps (subscription kits are great for these) and tiny embellishments e.g. sequins, enamel dots, little puffy stickers, wood veneers and cork pieces.

Can you see there how I paired up a wood veneer, two stamps and a puffy star? Which brings me to the final rule:

Rule 3. Work from top to bottom. 

For this card, I chose the wooden piece first because I liked the sentiment, shape and size against the white space. I then looked for tiny word stamps that supported my story: I was observing what was happening in the photographs so I chose 'watching', and 'quiet time' explains that afternoon perfectly. Sometimes I stamp my stamps more than once, if it feels right. Go with your gut. The puffy star then just seemed to finish it all off. I'm pretty happy with this card right now.

I used a similar process with these two cards. They both had interesting designs already on them, so in my head the word 'life' and the picture of the fox were at the top and then I worked my way down from them using stamps and cute things from my stash. I don't always stick things down straight away, sometimes I like to move them around a bit or change my mind. Then I stick everything down at the end, after stamping.

Here's something a little bit different. I just wanted to add something extra to these cards which were already mostly filled with an image/photograph. So I dotted the stamps about and put a puffy sticker in each corner - job done. I haven't exactly stuck to the last 'rule' here but are my stamps and embellishments used together: yes. Are they paired up? yes.

So that's how I do it! :) Your way may be totally different, that's why I find hearing about people's creative processes so interesting. There's no right or wrong, there's just what works for you. So work it, girl!

Weekend Inspiration #3

Ali Edwards is talking about Week in the Life which starts on Monday.

I love Stephanie Bryan's photographs this week. Summer captured!

This layout made me smile over at Gossamer Blue.

The latest cards by Digital Design Essentuals just make me want to scrap, hybrid style!

Some great layouts using Studio Calico's Pop Art kits - I got mine today!

Kelly Purkey's pages of her trip to Vietnam are definitely worth checking out. 

Using Project Life cards for photo prompts

There's one thing, when I'm scrapbooking, that drives me completely nuts: not being able to find the right Project Life cards to match my photos + stories. Sometimes I have cards that perfectly explain and express my feelings about the week that I'm documenting. On these occasions, I feel like a scrapbooking ninja - a pro. Today was not one of those days. 

This morning I wanted to scrap the final page of my hen party layout and a page about the day after. I had the photographs already printed out, with the journalling completed, using Paislee Press templates. I started digging through my stash of cards (I keep all of my 'kit' cards in one big, gigantic pile) but none jumped out at me. I found a couple the might work but the colours didn't coordinate and they didn't really work for the stories on both pages. So I pulled everything out - and I mean everything. All of the Project Life cards that I own; core kits, mini kits, partial kits, odd cards, all over the craft room floor. Eventually I dug into one of my Heidi Swapp core kits and threw together a pretty neat layout (blog post to follow!). However, I was disappointed that I couldn't find the right cards in my kit stash because I knew I had some really great ones in there.

I started thinking about how I could incorporate my stash cards more frequently into my layouts - and I came up with an idea. What about if I reversed my process? What if, instead of matching my filler cards to my photos, I matched my photos to my cards?

So I challenged myself to choose 5-8 Project Life cards from my stash and use each of them as a prompt for a photograph. I tried to pick cards which I thought would relate to things I'm doing this week and also cards that could go together in a layout (I stuck with all Studio Calico cards on this occasion). This way, I'll have a few ideas about things to photograph but I shouldn't get stuck on any of the prompts or end up taking photographs of things which are unrelated to what's happening in my life this week. Hopefully, once I've used all of my prompts, putting together my layout should be an absolute breeze! For anyone who's curious, these were mey choices:

1. Books and coffee: two of my absolute favourite things. I'm always drinking coffee and reading books, though I don't usually photograph myself doing it. I feel like I've been unconsciously saving this card for a special occasion, as I really love it but I've had it for ages. Maybe a selfie for this one?

2. I picked this one as I'm seeing my parents a lot this week, which I don't normally. I already have a couple of photos from yesterday that I could use for this prompt (my parents scoffing breakfast baguettes at the car boot sale!) but I'll also take some more over the weekend when I visit.

3. I am mid-project right now! I've got lots of wedding crafts and DIYs going on at the moment so this one should be easy to do.

4. This could possibly relate to some of my wedding projects, too. Or maybe I'll come up with something else clever this week. It could be something like a smoothie recipe (I've experimenting with different flavours recently!) or maybe I'll find a smart way to raise some extra wedding funds.

5. I go through phases of being obsessed with different things. At the moment I love bubble tea, eating antipasti and shopping for my wedding. Or maybe I should just write wedding in big fat letters all over the card. It's hard not to be obsessed with wedding planning when it's less than ten weeks away!

6. It rained pretty heavily today. That's British summer time for you! We were forecast rain tomorrow but I've just checked and it's supposed to be dry now. Shame I didn't snap a picture earlier on! Might have to be creative here but if I can't make it work, I'll just leave this card out.

7. I've got a love/hate relationship with my glasses. I never wear them outside of the house but Adam thinks I look cute in them. They're a part of my that hasn't featured in my album yet. So another selfie for this one, I think.

8. My last card. This one is pretty open - I'll see what awesome things come my way! I've got a pretty awesome weekend planned so this should be easy.

I'll post again in a few days to share the photographs I take for each prompt. If you want to, play along and tag me in the comments box below or on Instagram. I'm interested to see what difference working this way will make to my process and final layout - let me know how you find it, as well. Did it speed up your process? Did you find working from a prompt hard to do, restrictive or inspiring? Catch up with you soon!

Project Life 2015 - My Hen Party (part 1)

I had my hen party last weekend. Crazy, right? It's ten weeks now until I get married and things are really starting to happen. I'm booking things. I'm making decisions about decorations, cars and cake. I've actually nearly booked a photographer! It's getting pretty real now - and I couldn't be more excited!

I'm not sure how ladies outside the UK celebrate with their girl friends before their wedding, but over here we have hen parties which can last anything from an evening to a whole weekend! If you compare UK celebrations to how ladies celebrate in the US, I guess you could say a hen party is a bridal shower and a bachelorette party combined. All of the women in your life are there: your friends, your family, your future in laws. Your mum in there - quite often, so is your nan! You might split the party into two parts: the under age and grandma friendly, then later on the over 18 part of the celebration. Some people throw two hen parties to cater for everyone. Either way, there are no real rules for throwing a hen party - anything goes.

My friends surprised me with a crafty hen party where we made little sewing projects, such as headbands and broaches. We popped some Prosecco and ate cake - my kind of afternoon. Later on we took the party bus (think party limo with flashing lights but inside a mini bus!) to London to see the Dream Boys. If you haven't heard of the Dream Boys, I think you can probably guess what the show was about ;)

I created this layout using mostly cards from Studio Calico and various embellishments from my stash. The 'love' card is from Laurel Lane Designs and the 'let's run amok' is an August add-on from Studio Calico; both are digital printables. 

That's all from me! I've got another hen party layout to create yet, showing photographs from the evening part of my hen. Do you know anyone who has scrapped their hen party or wedding? I'd love to hear from you if you have. Someone on Instagram recently mentioned how few wedding layouts there are on on scrapbooking galleries and blogs. Have you or do you know someone who has recorded their wedding plans and day using Project Life? Leave a link in the comments below.

Wish List #3

The Wonder range from Crate Paper is super cute! I ordered a load of this collection today, just need to get my hands on the ephemera.

Talking of new ranges, can't wait for Dear Lizzy's Documentary range!

Bando are totally killling me with this peekaboo clutch, selfie make up bag and gold dotty mobile charger.

Crumbs and Doilies mini cupcakes. Maple and bacon flavour? You guys are killing me!

Going digital (pocket cards) here:

Get the Scoop with OLB's ice cream themed cards.
Life is sweet for donut lovers here.
Pastel cards for parties from Little Lamm & co.
Any crazy cat ladies? These are a must!
These cool summer cards are only $1.50! I love the origami bird.

Project Life 2015 - Week 29

Project Life in your twenties - memory keeping without kids

At the end of this week, I wondered, not for the first time, what on earth I was going to put in my Project Life layout. Had I actually done anything this week worth documenting? Being in your twenties, with no children, it's so easy to undervalue the everyday experiences that you have. After all, there are only so many pictures of your morning cup of coffee you can include in one album! (Even if it is your absolute favourite mug and coffee feels like an extremely crucial part of your life these days - how would you ever get through the day without your morning latte?!) And nobody really wants to look back on photographs of you going to bed early after a long day at work or grabbing a pizza on a Friday night (which you will probably eat in your pyjamas, in bed, too). Without first steps to record, football matches/ballet performances and trips to the beach/zoo/theme park it can feel like life is lacking 'special' moments.

If you're like me, and have a dog (or cat), you might find your pages dominated by pictures of your fur-baby. Your dog sleeping, playing with his toys, being cuddled by his 'mummy' or 'daddy'... The other weekend, Adam and I borrowed a padding pool from the in laws FOR OUR DOG. You can find the pictures here. It might seem crazy but we were bored, Baxter was bored and it was warm outside, so why not?

You might be wondering why two young, fun twenty-somethings aren't out at concerts, holidaying in Ibiza and roughing it at music festivals (insert other fun things young people do here). Surely we should be out having the time of our lives, responsibility-free, right? Well, the truth is, we're saving for a wedding. And we have a mortage. And, to tell the truth, we're just past it. We've long moved from 'post-uni' into a stage I like to call 'pre-children.' In other words, we are well past the stage where we enjoyed drinking all night and crashing on a friends sofa (or more often, floor) and we prefer quiet nights in with friends, a curry, and the comfort of our own bed. And this isn't nearly as exciting to photograph as the alcohol-fuelled nights of clubbing you experienced, and practically lived for, only four or five years ago.

You might be thinking this is completely to do with being in a couple, and maybe it is. If I was single I'd probably be up for weekends away, crashing wherever my head landed and I'd definitely be doing a lot of travelling. I probably wouldn't have gotten my teaching qualification, though, and I'd more than likely still be living with my parents. I'd never have had the ambition to become a teacher because it was Adam, our house and our future that inspired me to work towards a career and a job that would earn me enough money to pay the bills and eventually, someday, have a family. It does mean that our lives have been a little bit ordinary the last couple of years though. Trying to progress in your career is hard work and owning a house is more expensive than you imagined it would be before you started out. Not to mention the amount of housework you have to do! Saving for a wedding is also very costly, even when you are very resourceful and crafty. This all leaves you with little time and energy, not to mention that fact that Adam's arthritis really limits us in what we can do as getting around is so difficult for him these days.

So what sort of things do I document? And is it really worth me recording our lives at all? Before I started my first Project Life album, in May 2014, I thought about putting it off until my life was a little more exciting, or even until I'd had kids. I'm so glad that I didn't! In years to come, I'll be able to look back over my twenty-something albums and be reminded of what it was like to be me at this stage in my life. It might not seem exciting now, but I know my life will change so much over the next few years, life today will probably seem completely alien to me in the future in the same way that my late teens seem strange to me now.  I'll probably have forgotten all of the hours Adam and I spend in bed, watching YouTube videos and talking happy nonsense to each other. I'll probably forget what it was like to be a trainee teacher, what our house looked like before we decorated and the songs that we listened to on the radio. It will probably be hard to imagine that on the morning after my hen party (this morning) we laid in bed till 9:30, undisturbed, our friends brought a McDonalds breakfast over and then we curled up on the sofa on our respective devices (windows surface for him; ipad mini for me). Then we took Baxter over to the in laws, sat in their garden in the sun, came home for reheated Dominos pizza and then took some photographs for my latest blog post. Sounds pretty great now, doesn't it? I can't be sad about living our quiet life on days like today.

So what do I photograph? Everything. I capture it all. Not everything gets included in my album (like I said, no one wants to see that many pictures of my favourite mug) but I capture as many of our everyday moments as I can. Sometimes Adam doesn't understand it, but occasionally he'll ask to see my album and we'll look at our latest photographs together. I love those moments. Talking about things that we've done, about the little moments in our lives, with big smiles on our faces makes them feel important. I hope that my albums make us smile just as much in years to come and are something that can be enjoyed by our families too. We may not have kids yet, and may not make the effort to do exciting things that we would do if we had kids, but life is still pretty cool right now and we have a lot to be thankful for. There's a lot about these days that I want to remember.

Being a childless, twenty-something year old Project Lifer means:

  • Lots of photographs of your dog - and proud. I love that furry little bugger!
  • Selfies. Because it's still (just about) socially acceptable for you to turn your camera on yourself and snap away. Even in public places. #dontcare
  • Photographs that your friends took on your phone when you left in on the table and went to the toilet (see pictures of my daft friends below). 
  • Pictures of your favourite stuff. You don't ever want to forget the day that you bought that handbag! And you'll probably never spend that much on a bag again, maybe...
  • Craft projects. Is it sad to craft about crafting? We don't care. We're passionate about what we do and don't want to forget those happy hours spent at our craft desk. 
  • Photographs of you lounging around the house or in bed - because you don't have children to wake you up and the crack of dawn. Oh what a shame. 
  • Your dinner. Because you're proud of your cooking expertise/ the cooking expertise of the chef at Nandos. 
  • Your gadgets. Technology is continually changing so don't be ashamed that half of the photographs you have of yourself show you on your phone or your laptop. Make these things a feature of your album. What's up to date now will be cool and retro in ten or twenty years time. 
  • Pictures of your family. You may not have your own little family unit yet, but still make sure you capture your loved ones as much as you can. You'll regret it if you don't.

These are my reasons for doing Project Life. What are yours? How does it work for you in the stage of life that you're in? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you. :)