Month: May 2014

My girls love picking dandelions and it reminds me of how much fun I had doing the same exact thing as a little girl. The template is from the new release “Poppy” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison. You can find it in her Pixel’s & Company Store. The kit is “Beginnings” by Mye De Leon and Mandy King.

I scraped the horror of loosing my last computer with a newly released template in the”Got Curves V6 pack”.  The main kit is “Get Scrappy”, with beads from “O’snap”, and grey cardstock from “For Her” Freebie Mini. Font is WM Erica. All items used are from WM(Squared) and can be found at her store at The Scrap Orchard.

Me and my “Jakeasaur” at the Bel Air Field Day last week. I used a newly released kit from Pixelily, “Pay It Forward”and it can be found in her Gotta Pixel store. The template is from Little Green Frog Designs, “Second shot vol. 2” which is available at the Scrap Orchard.

Tami Miller Designs has a Commercial Use Freebie available for signing up for her newsletter. You can sign up for it HERE

Book Review: Life After Life, By: Kate Atkinson

This was a book my mind had fun chewing on when I was not in the midst of reading it, and because of this I gave it four out of five stars. I thought about this book a great deal, not because of the characters or the ideas posed by the author, but mainly because her plot was so much fun to think about. I enjoyed trying to anticipate what would happen during Ursula’s next go round, much like I would a mystery novel.

What I liked about the book:
1) I had a terrific time following the lives of Ursula Todd. Her mother, Sylvie, I could do without and I was grateful when the main point of view shifted from her to Ursula. In the middle of the book I couldn’t wait to see how Ursula would die next. Morbid, yes, but there is a good deal of morbidity in the book.

2) I liked watching Ursula become conscious of her many lives. It was interesting to see her evolve from someone things happened to into someone who made deliberate choices. 

3) I really enjoyed the historical view into the civilian life of living in London during the air raids. Then seeing the opposite view of civilian life in Berlin before Russia’s takeover. The author’s historical research really came to life, depicting everything from food, to the sounds of explosions, the routines of the people who remained in London, and the hardships suffered in both Britain and Germany. She did not hold back showing the raw brutality of being a civilian casualty during war.

What I didn’t like about the book:
1) The philosophical journey, while a bit much for me, was still appropriate to the book. I was most bothered by Ursula’s first meeting with her psychologist. It was not believable to me for a ten-year-old girl to grasp, have an interest, and carry forward the philosophical information posed by Dr.Kellet. It also failed my logic test for an educated man to be talking about such things with a child.

2) The maturity of Ursula begins in each of her lives around the age of eighteen. I found her remarkably worldly at this stage as the book progresses. I understand the carry over and impressions her previous lives are suppose to have on her current, but it again did not seem logical for her to pass from life to life with an advanced philosophical understanding, while still being naïve as to why men made inappropriate advances towards her. I found it odd the sexual trauma she endures after her “first time” did not leave a strong enough impression to transcend to her future lives, aside from when she avoids the offenders. Shouldn’t she have a little more anxiety over the act, or strange memories of the wallpaper again? How can she forget this trauma yet retain less meaningful bits of information in her future lives. Her second, “first time”, is glossed over and Ursula has a remarkable sexual sophistication going forward in the book. I thought that was odd considering the trouble she went through after her first time, getting a book from the neighbors in order to learn about human conception. How did she become a savvy mistress to an Admiral her second time being deflowered, but towards the end of the book she did not understand Sam Cole was having an orgasm? 

3) I think Sylvie’s plot arch became totally lost on me. Either that, or it became so layered in symbolism and vagueness I just stopped caring enough to try and follow it. I did not like the author’s choice to showcase Sylvie as the only other person with the ability to change the events of her future lives. If Sylvie can change her life events then all of the characters should have been doing this, and there should have been a broader spectrum of events taking place each go around.

At the end of the book life seemed to be rendered inconsequential. Ursela is awakened to the fact that she will be back, to do it all over again, and she goes crazy. After this there is only one time where her life seems to take on purpose and meaning. She kills herself and has a plan for her next life. However she dies and once again she is back in the snow, running through her life hurdles trying to stay alive again. So aside from this single plan, Ursula is a woman things happen to, and she goes through her life only correcting events enough to stay alive. Stay alive for what? Fox Corner? This home she dreams of with fields, flowers, and fresh cut grass. Is that really all she (or we the reader) is living for? I would have liked the protagonist more if she corrected her life events not only to stay alive but to find the right man, challenge herself to try something new, or explore the depth of her connections to her family.

Bood Review: Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

I give this book three out of five stars.

I will forever remember Tigana as the book full of men crying. The continuous sadness in the book became tiresome and made the never-ending exposition narrative even longer. I think I know who George R.R Martin was reading before he wrote his Game of Thrones series. I am glad I finished Tigana, but after 600 pages of sadness, I feel worn out and I can’t wait to read something quick, fluffy, and chock full of sunshine and rainbows.

What I liked about the book:

1) I liked the depth of Kay’s world building. His twists on our reality made it relatable but foreign and new. How a Ygrath “fool” was not just a fool. The riselka’s and religions referenced lore and dead religions similar to this world, but beautifully painted for the people of the Palm.

2) I liked how the author had a stretched out timeline, but we the reader really only saw a year. The events on this timeline were complex and added layers to the main plot. A series of overlapping sub plots and stories which were all very interesting.

3) My favorite plot points included: Beard fighting with the Walkers. The reconciliation and heart wrenching scene between Tomasso and his father Sandre in prison. Alessan releasing Erlein, and the ring dive of Dianora. I also liked the final battle and resolution.

What I did not like about this book:

1) It took me one hundred pages before I enjoyed these characters or got a firm handle on what the book was about. Kay takes almost to much liberty with the reader’s capacity to keep up with a vast cast of characters who we have little investment in. There were no baby steps, or small incremental dips into this new world. The reader is shoved into this place and forced to tread water and try to keep up with a plot Kay deliberately hides.  I’m all for suspense and not seeing plot twists and turns, but it’s not suspenseful if we don’t see the relevance in what is happening. I wanted to start jotting down notes of who was who, and what was from here, and why such and such meant something. I’m a detail loving kind of person, but the endless narrative with vague or non-existent dialogue, was over the top, and in my opinion unnecessary. The Epilogue felt odd and disjointed when I read it, not because of the change to an omniscient point of view, but because the characters were actually talking to each other.

2) The book felt like a run on narrative exposition, with a few stops to show actual action. The action, which is good when encountered, is interrupted time and time again with mental detours into each characters memory. The action of the book never seemed to unfold within a scene, instead it mostly took place off stage in a memory, or as a side thought of what took place. The scenes where there is action, are well paced and exciting, but end to quickly and shove you back into another depressing character memory.

There is very little talking amongst any of the characters to add balance to the looks, hand gestures, and arm squeezes being exchanged. I kind of wish I had an electronic copy of this book so I could do a word find to see how many “sardonic looks” were passed. There are more words dedicated to the description of a character looking at another character who is in turn looking at another character, and what is viewed on their faces, than words illustrating how the characters talk to one another.

The author built up several romance sub plots, but I did not see the romance of Prince Alessan form at all. It took me completely by surprise. When did that actually take place?  I saw no hints, body language, or flashbacks indicating his feelings for her.  This romance felt flat, and the only proof of their attachment was a shared history and because the author said it was so. I thought Alessan was entirely ambivalent or at best like a brother, to the woman he eventually declares himself to.

3) This is a sad book. Sadness is everywhere even when it does not really need to be there. The author makes you see sadness, hear sadness, or have a character remember saddness. I learned something new about myself while reading all of this sadness. I have a bias against men crying. What can I say, I like strong men, and apparently seeing men “weep” in certain situations in my mind paints them as weak. Get a grip gentlemen-there’s a war that needs to happen with not one but two wizards with armies. This is my issue, I’ll own that, but part of the reason this book wore me out was the number of sad and tragic situations or memories  brought up which caused all these men to break down and weep.

The iterations of men weeping, wiping tears away, openly crying, etc just got old. Tigana even starts with a man crying in the prologue. Half way through the book I became conditioned. I fully expected to find a man weeping at least every 40 pages or so, and Kay delivered. I am not exaggerating and if anything the pace of men crying in scenes picks up. I was so worn out by it I became amused by it. I was laughing out loud when not one but two chapters ended with men weeping. I don’t think my laughter was the desired effect by Kay, but the “weeping” became rediculous.

I appreciated the ending, the serendipity of who Rhun was, and the awesome speech Sandre gives. However, all the things Kay does right in Tigana, are overshadowed by the flow of sadness he keeps pace with through the entire book.

Beta Readers, also sometimes called alpha readers or pre-readers, are informal readers who read written works and provide insight and recommended improvements. The reading is done before a work is released for publication.

I have been blessed with a wonderful team of Beta readers. In the process of finding them, I applied some of the useful information acquired from an author group on Goodreads.  My friend Kate had one especially insightful post. I reached out to Kate, asking her permission to post the wisdom she shared, and see if she would answer a few more questions.

Now, before you read her insight, I need to brag and tell you why Kate knows what she is talking about.  See, I was completely floored when I realized just how much experience Kate has. I can remember faces, but I am bad at remembering names. It takes awhile for my brain to mesh a face with a name, a band with a song, an artist with a painting, or an author with a book. I was a little shocked when I realized who my brain knows as my author friend Kate from Goodreads.  She was in fact, none other than the author Kate Quinn. Her books include: Mistress of Rome, Daughters of Rome, Empress of the Seven Hills, The Serpent and Pearl, and The Lion and the Rose.

Upon realizing this, I saw a big part of my oversight came from the fact Kate has none of the “I’m a big deal book author” attitude. Certainly you could expect it from someone who has authored works with enough notoriety to earn a spot in the limited selection of books sold at Target stores nationwide, and has their work published in several languages. But no, not my friend Kate, which makes me adore her even more.

Kate graciously said yes, and took time away from her current project to tell us more about her experience with Beta readers. This first part is from Kate’s original Goodreads post:

I’ve found that it’s good to have a different variety of beta-readers who you look to for different things. Such as:

1. The Expert. This reader might change from book to book, depending on what you need fact-checked, because this reader doesn’t care about your characters or your pacing, but is reading simply to fact-check you. I had some Roman Army re-enactor types who were good for this. “Make your hero older, it was against Roman regs for a legionary to make centurion before 30.”

2. The Nit-Picker. The person who can be counted on to catch eeeeeeverything little minor mistake. “He can’t wave from the doorway because you already said she saw him *come in.*” I have a goddess named Christi who did this for my last two books.

3. The Language Reader. The reader who hears language like music and will instinctively “hear” where your prose is clunky, where your pacing on a scene is lagging, and hand you the list of verbs you are over-using. For me this is the Dowager Librarian: “Run a word check on `shrug,’ `wink,’ `saunter,’ `shriek,’ and `whisper,’ and cut at least 50% of them.” Yes, Mom.

4. The Big Picture Person. The one with the big-picture eye for story and character development, who can tell you where your story is slowing down or where it needs to be paced up, and who can tell you that your heroine’s turnaround needs to be better set up. Also the Dowager Librarian, for me, as well as Stephanie Dray. (And yes, if you are lucky you will get a Two For One or even Three For One special with some of these beta readers.)

5. The Ideal Demographic. The reader who might not give you much in the way of concrete feedback, but who represents the exact demographic you are trying to hit. For me that’s dear friend Kristen: a voracious bookworm with a solid grounding in history and an enthusiasm for my genre. If she raves about a book of mine, I knowI’ve hit the target. If she’s “It didn’t quite resonate like your last one” I know I’ve got work to do.

6. And finally, The Dark Side. The reader who pushes you to think about going further, whether with your characters or your plot. You’re thinking of writing about an arsonist? This reader suggests a murderer. You want your hero to get beaten up? This reader wants your hero lose a hand. You want your heroine to cheat on her fiance with his friend? This person will suggest she cheat in a threesome with TWO of his friends. Sure, maybe you won’t end up taking the advice. But you’ll consider going further than you ever did before, and it will lead you interesting places. For me, that’s the hubby.

And here are Kate’s answers, to my questions, about her experiences using Beta readers.

1) When did you first start using beta readers?

Only with the last three books, when I finally found myself a writer community and had people I trusted to ask. Before that I mostly did it alone outside a few trusted critique partners.

2) What is the timeframe you allow your team of Beta readers to review your work?

I write big books, so I try to give my beta readers at least 2 weeks to respond. But there are those I know I can count on if I call with a weepy “Can you read this in 4 days because my deadline is insane?” Those are the ones who were reading pages and sending me notes on Christmas Day one year. And I return the favor for them, because they are gems. Beta-reading tends to be a reciprocal process – if someone dropped everything on New Year’s Eve to read all three versions of that scene you wrote with three different endings, then you bet your ass you need to drop everything for them when they need it.

3) I’ve seen links to Beta reader contracts, have you/would you ever use one of these?

Actually, I have NOT heard of those. If it means contracting a stranger to be your beta, think I would rather know someone first so I know what kind of feedback they are likely to be useful for. Beta readers come in various flavors – the Subject Experts, the Language Experts, the Big Picture people, etc. How can you tell that from a contract with a stranger?

4) How do you prep your beta readers?

I sometimes give them a list of up-front instructions: “I’m on a tight timeline, so please star anything you think is crucial to be taken care of, or it won’t happen till after my editor sees it.” I will also sometimes add in-manuscript commentary: “Beta Reader X thought the previous scene would come better from another point of view – what’s your take?” And at the end I generally have questions as well: “Did you feel that the surprise twist was set up well enough? Did you see that romance coming?” But it depends on the work – sometimes you just send the manuscript and let them have at it.

5) What is the best insight you received from one of your beta readers?

Best and toughest: two trusted beta readers told me, three weeks before my deadline, “You need an entirely new viewpoint character.” I cried. But they were completely right, and I made it happen.

6) Do you use all the insight you receive?

Never. Consensus is important – if 5 out of your 6 beta readers are telling you to change something, then you should consider it VERY seriously. But if all 6 are telling you different things, then you just have differing opinions. Take what you think is valuable, what your gut tells you will work, and discard the rest. Because in the end, it is your book.

7) Which is better, kindness or brutal honesty?

Both. Don’t be dishonest in your critique, but some kid gloves are appreciated for the harsh opinions. Rather than saying “Your hero is more boring than watching paint dry,” say “We need to punch up your hero a bit – have you tried making him snarkier?”

8) Who should a writer never use as a beta reader?

Yes-men: the people who will only tell you what you want to hear. Classically this would include friends and family, but that is not true for me – my mother is an absolutely ruthless beta-reader with a great eye for when my language is getting stale and my pace lags (she once wrote “this is dim and stagey” in a margin, which was absolutely true). And I have dear friends who are also writers, and they never hesitate to tell me a scene isn’t working even though they love me. So I wouldn’t say you cannot use your friends and family . . . just be aware of the ones who will only give you “This is great!!!” Because that is not useful.

I did some blogging for designer WM (Squared) this weekend. I made a digital freebie to cordite with her kit “It’s My Party” which is available in her store at Scrap Orchard.  

This is the Freebie I made and you can access it over on WM (Squared)’s blog HERE. The freebie includes three pocket cards and 4 x 6 card template.

 

My kids discovering worms during one of our first rainy mornings of spring. The page was made with “Boxed in Vol 1” templates by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison, available at her Pixels & Company Store. The kit is “Flowers after the Rain” by Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage and is available in her Pixels & Company Store

I made this two page layout with Aimee Harrison’s new release Grecian Isles which can be found at The Studio. Both pages were made with the Key Lime Pie template set from Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available at Pixels & Company. 

The kit “Sweet Pearfection” was used for this layout of my girls showing off their dolled up hair after a haircut. It is a new release from Tami Miller Designs and is available in her store at Pickleberrypop. Template is from “Bad Reputation” by Southern Serenity Designs by Amber Morrison available in her Pixels & Company Store

Are you in the mood for a digital Freebie? Come back tomorrow, I’m blogging for WM (Squared) Saturday and I’ve been working on a digital hybrid freebie. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Book Review: Starship Grifters by: Robert Kroese

I rated this book four out of five stars.

What a fun read, I was laughing on out loud on page two. This book is full of humor, and the authors comedic range is impressive. What made it even more fun was a nice adventure story to go with it.
What I liked:
1) The comedy, hands down one of the best comedies I have had the pleasure of reading in recent years. Kroese does not hold back and uses everything from play on words, ridiculous situations, character banter, slapstick, and irony. The book is equated to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and I agree. Some of the situational humor was better, and so well constructed it reminded me of comedic playwright Neil Simon.
2) The characters were well defined, crazy but still relatable. I liked how we are given opinions about Rex, but allowed to draw our own ideas about him. I thought it was a great choice to not construct the narrative through his point of view.
3) I was so pleased to see the author treating me the reader as smart. We are given details about what is relevant and the narrator routinely breaks the fourth wall, which I enjoyed. The exposition narrative about creatures, places, and things were kept short with enough information to picture what is taking place. There were no dog trails or irrelevant information tempting me to skip down the page.

There was only one thing that bothered me, the authors injections of religious, or I should say anti-religious philosophies. I wont even say I didn’t like it, it was just distracting. While I was reading these things took me out of the story. While I tolerated this, it really felt like the author was exerting his own opinions since they were put forth in such a way they did not flow with the comedic theme in the book. Some were postured as jokes, but others were clearly not.

My computer crashed last Friday. I did the right thing and shut it down the night before. I awoke Friday and turned it on to see what many Mac users know as the white screen of death. My trusty machine would not load the operating system. I made an appointment and with my two younger kids in tow went down to the local Apple store. I hate things like car trouble, a major appliance failure, or computer trouble. It brings up all kinds of concerns that don’t cloud my ordinary everyday. How much is this going to cost? Do we have the money for this? When was my last backup? Will I be able to finish projects x, y, and z? It’s just ugly and I did my best to keep a lid on it and roll with the unknown.IMG_2431

The Apple Store Genius took one look at my Mac and I could see he was looking at a dinosaur; a computer that was top of the line seven years ago when he was graduating high school. I know he’s wondering why I don’t just replace that thing already. To me there’s no need yet. It does what I need it to do. Why would I replace it when I am happy with it? He ran a diagnostic and my hard drive was fine, which was good because my computer has surpassed into an age where an Apple Store will no longer conduct maintenance on my machine. They won’t take my money to fix it? For some unexplained reason my computer could or would not load the current operating software. The Genius was able to have my computer see the last generation of software. Everything was reformatted and I would need to go through a several hour process of updating to the new software, and migrating my information back from my backup at home. If, and it was a hesitant if. The Genius did his best to break the news to me gently. It would work only if my computer did not have the same malfunction when I got home.

It had the same malfunction. I sat at my desk willing a grey apple icon to appear on my screen, but nothing appeared. I sent a text with the bad news to my husband. He asked how much a replacement would be. I replied with the truth, “I have no idea.” I hadn’t let myself covet the new computers. I wanted this one to work. I did my best to proceed with my day by making lunch. Unhappy I picked up the book I’ve been reading, and burrowed under my heated blanket. I spent an hour sulking on the couch while my younger kids played Lego and My Little Pony. My husband called me during a break and laughed at me, teasing that I was already in withdrawal from my computer crack. He made me laugh and I didn’t even try to deny it. “Go, go ahead and get a new one. Just don’t get all the upgrades. I know you-don’t go getting everything.” He said.

It was a big relief to get the go ahead for a new computer. I was excited but it was dampened by guilt over the unanticipated cost and a loving, humbling, gratitude. I rounded my little ones back into the car while going through a back and forth trying to explain to them how I had no more “big coins”, quarters, for candy from the gumball machines they line the mall entrance with.

I stood in front of my dream computer in disbelief. I’ve had my eye on the 27” iMac for a few years. As a digital scrapbooker it was like a car enthusiast fantasizing about a private garage fitted with every tool, jack, and gadget. I could not believe I was in the midst of buying my dream computer. Being a scrapbooker, I went ahead and took a few pictures with my phone hoping to make the experience a little more real. IMG_2436

I did not get to take it home right away, but before the weekend was over I had it home. Time Machine showed my last backup was on May 1st 2014. That was good news. The most heart wrenching, missing files, were pictures from my oldest daughters birthday party from May 2nd. This would be the first time we used our remote backup through Crash Plan. We had been on Carbonite for a few years. There were two disappointments we experienced with them. The first being, after two years my desktop was still not 100% backed up. The other was they would not back up external hard drives. This bothered us, we wanted our video, photo, and my digital scrapbooking external drives backed up. Carbonite does not offer this kind of service. Chris and I changed to Crash Plan after doing some research on Consumer Reports. Crash Plan had my entire Computer, and three external drives backed up in less than 3 months. It was the best feeling to log into our account and see my last back up was the night before my Computer died. I was able to get back every file I was missing.

While this ordeal is still the kind I would avoid at all costs, at least the situation ended better than I anticipated. What did I learn from it?

I’m getting better at pushing away all the “what if” questions. I was able to stay relatively level and I did not loose control of my emotions, or take my frustrations out on anybody else. I really did want to sob uncontrollably for a few hours when I knew my computer was dead, but I didn’t. Sure yes, I did tear up, but there was no sobbing.

I experienced first hand how backing up my computer to all of these places is a good thing. Do what they say-back up and back up often. Keep important files backed up in at least two locations. It’s advice we hear all the time, and every time I’ve heart it I wanted to roll my eyes and respond, “Yes Mom.” But really, the reminders are constant and passionate because the experts are trying to save you from the grief experienced when you don’t backup.

I am over the moon with my new desktop. I’ve never had a graphics card, and this thing has more RAM than I thought was possible. It’s a blessing. Now I just have to use it to do what my husband has been nagging me to do, “finish your book.”

I did Project 365 in 2012, where you take a photo every single day, and ideally a page for every single day. While doing P365 I learned about project 52, where you do a layout of each week. I see similarities to both projects. After doing P365 I can see how P52 might be a little more practical. There were several days in 2012 where my photos were not all that exciting, and not in my opinion layout worthy. However if I were to add up these photos and make a P52 layout they suddenly become something. So I decided I would try P52 this year and do it pocket style.

Back in 2012 I kept track of my photos on these little legal pads and tried my best to work month by month. I made a list of each day in the month, and then noted what the photos were for each day. It was like a never ending task list. I was always happy to cross off a completed page. Organizing a list for P52 is a little different. You need to annotate the week and pull out one shot for each day. I printed my January through March pictures of this year and it was just a mess. All of my photos arrived out of order, and I had to go back and sort them chronologically. That was a pain. I did not enjoy having to scroll through iPhoto in order to  figure out the dates for over 90 photos.

I stumbled on this pack of printables by Wishing Well Creations by Laura Passage recently and decided I had try it. She also has a pack of P365 pritables. Laura where were you in my life in 2012! 

I had decided I would just do an 8.5 x 11 version since these would be easier to find a binder and whole punch for. I really wanted to do half pages, but it didn’t seem feasible to find the right materials. Then I just happened to come accross a cute binder by Basic Grey in the clearance section of JoAnn’s. It was just the right size to fit the smaller scale. I wasn’t sure about getting it because I still didn’t have a punch for 5.5 x 8.5. A few days later I stumbled on one of those at Staples. I went back and found my cute binder still in the clearance section and went to work putting my planner together.

I really like the printables Laura Passage has developed. They are very customizable, and you can even pick which day of the week you prefer to start on. I also like that there is more than just one line to write notes about the photos from each day. You can add bits of journaling and even cover projects or goings on that lasted more than just one day. I have yet to plan down to what photo goes into which spot in my pages, but I like that I have that option as well. I like that I don’t have to open iPhoto to reference a photo date either. I can take a stack of unsorted photos with me to a crop and have my binder with me at the ready to tell me what photo lands in which week. It’s also great to have on hand when I decide to do a P365 layout.

I’ve been paper scrapbooking since 1995, and my stash outgrew a rolling tote within a year. I got serious about organizing my stash as a member of Club Scrap. I just could not envision breaking my monthly scrapbooking kit up and storing everything mashed together. After lots of trial and error I found a storage solution that worked for me that was economical, and fit my need to keep my precious kits intact. I went through a similar process with my stamps, my ink pads, ribbon, eyelets and brads, and colored card stock.

Like my aversion to washi tape, I put off pocket scrapbooking as long as I could. I knew I’d get hooked and “want it all”. Well I have a small collection of washi tape now, and I officially gave pocket scrapbooking a go last year after my trip to Belgium.

Now my newest dilemma is, where do I store all of my gorgeous pocket scrapbooking cards? I had some guesses, but ultimately I reached out to my friend Carly Dee for help with my new dilemma. I met Carly Dee on the web, we’ve never met face to face, but she is a girlfriend crafting has blessed me with. Carly Dee is a template designer, digital creative team maven, who I met through a digital scrapbooking creative team. She is the only crafter I know personally who is a digital to paper convert. Currently she makes amazing project life pages. Here is one of her latest: 

I asked Carly how she stores her Project Life cards. Her favorite cards, the ones she gets from her subscription to Studio Calico, are all stored in one of these nifty Close To My Heart Medium storage boxes. This particular box is super reasonable, priced at $16.95. Since my BFF Kerri gives me her discount I’ll link you to her CTMH page.

Here’s a peek at Carly Dee’s box full of Studio Calico PL cards and embellishments: 

Being a digital to paper convert does not mean Carly Dee has left her digital roots. She routinely also uses digital pocket scrapbooking cards. Here’s a picture to prove it: These are some of Carly Dee’s digital pocket cards from Little Butterfly Wings Designs. Carly said she prints her cards on good card stock and has started storing them in 4×6 Iris boxes. These are another inexpensive way to store pocket scrapbooking cards. And if you hit Costco at the right time of year you can pick one of these up for around $15.00. It comes with twelve 4 x 6 boxes, and they are all neatly organized into one neat, stackable, and highly portable box. I was able to get an entire set of Close To My Heart, Picture My Life sets into one 4 x 6 box, which is nice since the CTMH sets come packaged in just cellophane. You can buy these 4 x 6 Iris Boxes individually at Michaels or JoAnn’s for $1.99 full price, or for a cheaper price on sale or with a coupon. The full box as pictured is $39.00 at Michaels, or again cheaper with a coupon or on sale, or even better if you can find them when they are in stock at Costco.

I asked Carly Dee what her advice was to newbie Project Life scrapbookers.                       “DON’T go out and buy every single Becky Higgin’s Project Life kit there is. You will never ever use it all. Buy one third of that if you can. There are plenty of online groups of people swapping cards or selling off what they are not using. I had all the Becky Higgins kits. I have used no more than 100 cards from them total. Those kits take up ALOT of storage room. I didn’t use them so I ended up selling them off or trashing them.”

Do you think a girl could get along with say just Studio Calico and Digital pocket cards?                 “Actually yes I do. I use mostly Studio Calico and digi printed cards. I reach for those most. You are so much less overwhelmed if you stick to a subject and print what you need. Sometimes to much is not a good thing.”

She has a point. Sifting through hundreds of cards does slow down what was originally designed as a “fast” scrapbooking method. I have no plans of going fast, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed with choices either. Thank you again Carly Dee for letting me pick your brain and flaunt your photos.