Christmas 2016 is the date of the first scrapbook. That much I know. I asked everyone to either write their favourite thing(s) about Christmas or something you are grateful for on Christmas. I think my plans were initially to create a book every December holiday we spent together. That changed in 2018 when my sister and her family moved to Dubai in the middle of summer. There was no longer a guaranteed time of year we would be together. And so the tradition pivoted. And I think it’s stronger – and more fun – for that.
THE SCRAPBOOK FORMULA
Each year I pose a new question to answer. That’s what lives on the first two pages of the book. A little preamble, and the set up. The rest of the book is filled with photos and answers. I have been using our Instax instant camera in order to simplify the project, and ensure it gets completed in a timely fashion. There is no waiting for a photo to develop at a lab, or print at home. The photo is taken as I read the question, and then they fill out the card. Each family member gets to choose their journaling card, and they write their own answer there. I especially like this for the kids because we get to watch their printing and writing as it changes over the years. The final two pages are where I get to be a bit more creative. A bit of shimmer or glitter. A big sticker. I learned from the first year (and from a lot of experience) that flat is best in these types of books.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES IN 2021
The layout of the book is much the same as in years past. But the introduction and question has changed of course.
“This past year has no precedence in our lifetimes. But we made it. We overcame obstacles, we saw some wild stuff, and we learned we could do tough and amazing things. This year we answered: What is something I did this year that I am proud of.”
This year’s book makes six in total. Six years. Wow. Wowzas.
1. You can start a tradition any time. Like, literally. Today is a great day to start that family scrapbooking tradition you’ve always wanted. You haven’t missed anything. Don’t lament about the memories you haven’t captured. Get excited about all the memories you are going to capture.
2. Keep it simple so you are more likely to finish it. Making a formula to follow every time helps. If you think that will make it boring, change up something within the formula – colour or pattern of paper, order of photos, one or two more “creative” pages – but keep the main outline of the book the same.
3. Keep it flexible so it can change if your life changes. My sister moved halfway across the damn world and we still make this work.
I joined a Daily Pages challenge in September. This is my experience with the Challenge, and a little bit about my current feelings and future in scrapbooking.
What are Daily Pages?
Daily Pages are a “creative self-documenting habit” started by rukristin. Their purpose is to help you cultivate a habit to get your stories down in a small book. A wide variety of folks make Daily Pages, and I have seen all types of materials and supplies go into them. It’s less about rules, and more about: “there are no rules – just do it”.
Why a Challenge?
Y’all I needed a kick in the butt, and an email reminder every day that someone else sent me was (at this point) the kick in the butt that I needed. It’s no secret that I have been struggling with scrapbooking for many years now, and this provided a low key way to use what I have and be a little bit creative every day. And forget about the label “scrapbook” for a while.
What Supplies To Use?
The best part about Daily Pages is that it’s completely defined by each person. And the point is to use what you have. But seriously, to actually use what you have. There is a joke about scrapbookers (and this pops up in every craft), that buying and holding on to supplies is half the fun. For some people it’s all the fun. I still remember a long-time customer at Treasured Memories who bought our Month Kit every month and had never used any of them!
Now, I haven’t purchased new supplies in a long time. Okay, maybe the occasional sticker, but nothing like back in my heyday. And as most crafters know, it is practically impossible to run out of the fun stuff. Glue yes. Stickers and glitter and paper and rhinestones? Never. I may not have a lot of the latest and greatest, but I still have some really cute stuff that I loved enough to buy.
What am I trying to say here? I am trying to say what I am always trying to say. Use what you have.
Thankfully the Daily Pages Challenge actually got me going through my supplies again, with fresh eyes. Everything is still completely unorganized, but there are less things in bins and more things stuck to paper. Winning!
I feel very unconnected with the scrapbooking world because I don’t do it like most other folks. This creates a weird feeling in me, as I used to define myself by my scrapbooking. I worked in a scrapbook store, I taught classes, I blogged about it, and I scrapbooked daily. There is still a lot of pressure (self-created) to be in this space somehow.
I need to redefine it and how it works for me. This hobby of artfully arranging photos and paper for the purpose of memory-keeping and creativity.
This is just an excuse to post some of the photos I have taken recently. They aren’t great photos, but thankfully this isn’t a photo blog!
I love to explore Edmonton throughout the year, but it really comes alive in the fall. The leaves start to change colour, the golden hour is warm and cozy, and the long shadows creep and tease. Our River Valley is a feast for the eyes.
A few blocks from our home is a large ravine, with a small creek running through. It is dense with mature trees and a lot of trails. Follow those trails north far enough and you reach our River Valley, which is a natural area larger than you can imagine. It stretches for 48km along the North Saskatchewan River, and there are trails along all but a small section. If it’s views you are after, you are in luck, as we are also home to the High Level Bridge, a 110 year old train bridge that towers over the river in the heart of downtown.
If I get started right after dinner I can make it all the way to the High Level Bridge to watch the sun set over Edmonton. It’s a beautiful site, one that makes my fear of heights well worth it. These views always get me thinking about the future of my city, especially that the climate crisis might change them forever. The walk home gives me a lot of time to think about how I might take action in their favour.
These are the traditional and contemporary homelands of the Plains Cree, Blackfoot, Tsuu Tina, Metis Nation (Native Land), and many other First Nations and Inuit people now call this place home. White settlers have done a lot of terrible things to eliminate these people and their rich cultures from the land we all call home. This genocide continues and is perpetuated by systems steeped in white supremacy. We must freely admit these truths so we can become proper neighbours, and all enjoy peace and friendship in this beautiful place.
Looking back at my summer of books, I can’t say for sure if it was typical or not, in terms of sheer numbers. But I will say that I read loads of amazing books. No duds? Well, let’s take a look.
A few breathtaking non-fiction, a sweet literary fiction that I stayed up late reading, an essay collection that broke and rebuilt my heart, and surprising no one (again), a whack load of science fiction to round it out.
I’ve been starting to think about my reading habits along the lines of “but what would I recommend?!”. It has helped me talk about these books more eloquently. I cannot write reviews, nor do I want to. But I can at least try to tell you why I loved a book. And why you might love it too.
At 22 books read over the past three months, I don’t think I can cover them all off here. But let’s do a few of the top titles.
I’ve been hearing amazing things about Becky Chambers’ Wayfarer Series for ages, and I devoured it whole. Best science fiction I have read in ages. Fully realized worlds, clever alien life, and characters with the biggest hearts.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer should be on your TBR even if you’re not into plants or climate science or whatever you think this book is about. And if you can get it on audio all the better. It will open up your eyes and heart to the world around you. It was a gift to read.
I read a lot of books about death and disease this quarter. I mean, I purposely chose and finished books titled The Plague and The Next Pandemic. Perhaps others might find this shocking, considering the pandemic we are literally dying from right now. But there is nothing quite like the prospect of an untimely end to laser focus the stuff you like. The Sixth Extinction was all of my archaeology, anthropology, ecology, earth sciences, climate science dreams come true.
And then sometimes you need a palate cleanser. Enter The Switch by Beth O’Leary. Talk about endearing. You’ve got a burnt out overachiever living in the Big City who switches spots with her literal sweetest Grandma, who is bored with her small town life. I stayed up late (far too late) to finish this one. It was cute, but not sickly sweet, and made me want to meet all of my neighbours. Even the annoying ones.
There was only one dud. That’s pretty good odds. See you next quarter.
Okay okay, so I have been scrapbooking, and blogging about scrapbooking for 16 years, give or take. And I have no idea what to write anymore. It’s all been said by me or by someone else, who is probably way smarter than me (at least in terms of writing about scrapbooking).
Now making videos is something I’ve always enjoyed, but need a lot more practice at. So welcome to this studio vlog of me building a mini scrapbook layout.
HOW TO BUILD A MINI SCRAPBOOK LAYOUT
Again, much smarter people have written much more eloquent words than I have about this, but in essence, building a mini scrapbook layout is the same as building a larger traditional page, say a 12″ by 12″. Except smaller. (Wow, no kidding.) I love mini books because I have to be very judicious in the materials I choose to tell the story. Judicious aka picky. It’s perfect.
I am building this book as I go throughout the summer. Each page measures 6″ by 8″ maximum, and most of the photos are 4″ by 4″. I have bought ZERO NEW supplies, other than adhesive. Working in a scrapbook store for over a decade means I have loads of lovely supplies to choose from, and I have no desire to buy into any trends (in scrapbooking or otherwise).
Step One: Go shopping in my supplies for literally anything that strikes my fancy AND might look nice with the photo
Step Two: Start shuffling those items on and off the page to see what actually fits, eliminating 90% of them.
Step Three: Glue everything down, add journaling and the date.
I love this hobby.
I have been building most these layouts as the events happen, and before I have my photos printed. It’s totally possible! And it helps me from getting too far behind and playing catchup. Because that does not work for me. I keep the photo up on my phone display so I can remember the colours and layout that I’m working with. I have a bunch of blanks cut out of typical photo sizes (3.5″x5″, 4″x6″, 4″x4″) that I use in place of the photo while I’m assembling the page. Once the photos are printed, it’s only a matter of adhering them to the page. And voila! A finished page in a magical amount of time. Past Lisa did all the work. She’s pretty awesome.
WHY MAKE A SUMMER MEMORIES SCRAPBOOK?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I have a hard time with summer. Here in Edmonton where I live, the kids are off school for July and August. The warm weather starts showing up in June, and by the middle of August the mornings are already getting chilly. We have dozens of amazing festivals throughout the summer, and activities that are best enjoyed in the heat. Not to mention I work a full time job, and share custody with my ex so I see Lucas every second week. I don’t want to do the math because it makes it too real, but that leaves only four weekends to make the most of the summer holidays. Gee, that’s not depressing or anything.
Usually when Lucas heads back to school, I am immediately filled with regret and guilt that we didn’t “do more”. So I started creating summer memory books. To remind myself about all the great things we did do over the summer. And to push the boundaries of those moments. I love that part of scrapbooking. Not only do I get to live the moment, I can also relive it when I build the page. It’s my scrapbooker’s high.
Another quarter of the year down. Summer usually brings for me depression, envy, and doubt in myself as a mom. This year I am countering that with a goals reset and a Summer “would be cool if” List. And more books of course.
Here’s what the last three months looked like for me books-wise.
I read 24 Books in total between April and June.
5 Canadian authors
4 Indigenous authors
17 Women authors
12 POC (person of colour) authors
3 short story collections or essays > I achieved my goal for the year
I read a lot of memorable, gut-wrenching, laugh-out-loud, gasp-inducing books this quarter so I couldn’t pick one favourite. So I picked 5.
Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
Mind Spread Our On The Ground by Alicia Elliot
Burning Roses by S.L. Huang
Sisters of the Vast Black by Lina Rather
How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa
Three science fiction/fantasy/horror novellas, and two essay collections. I’VE GOT A THEME AND I’M NOT AFRAID TO USE IT! Ha!
I have been tracking some demographics of the authors in relation to the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year. These goals were set to help me stretch my subject matter, and not just read the same old white dudes. But now I can see the white supremacy in that and I don’t know what to do.
SPEAKING OF WHITE SUPREMACY
For white people living in Canada who are confused/angry/sad/etc. about the uncovering of the graves of Indigenous children at former residential school sites and just now realizing that you live in a super racist country. Hello. Welcome.
I have not been posting about this to social media lately, because I don’t want that to be my activism. Because social media is not real life, and the folks who control it are not my kind of people. I know that I don’t do enough in real life, and I know that book-learning will only get me so far and I am upset with myself for that. But here we are. I get stuck in my own head, that’s no surprise.
If you are a learner like me, here are some books by Indigenous authors I have loved and learned from this quarter:
Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Regan. It is very academic, but if you take it slow it’s really good.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. The author is a poet and a botanist, and she combines science, the heart of the living world, and Indigenous knowledge so beautifully.
This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples. An openly gay Ojibwe man living on a reserve, trying to find some online hookups, while he’s being haunted by a ghost of a boy who’s taken up residence in a dog.
Indians on Vacation by Thomas King. It’s mostly a story about an elderly husband and wife bickering on vacation, but also somehow pokes at a deeper story.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Epic fantasy inspired by pre-Columbian Indigenous cultures of the Americas. Gods and gore. Ooh baby.
While you’re learning from Indigenous folks, don’t forget to pay them.
WHAT’S UP NEXT?
Climate crisis. I’ve got a book on the go right now (by an old white guy) that is getting me fired up about the mess we’ve made. To be honest, it doesn’t take much. I’ve already started looking for more material by Indigenous folks, Black communities, and vulnerable communities in the Global South (aka “Third World”) where it is hitting the hardest. Any recommendations are welcome.
Inspired by my pal Nadine, who took her family to Jasper for the day last month, I chatted with Dan about doing something similar for us, but in a different location. He said “sure”, and so we did.
This may come as a surprise, but I am not much of a planner when it comes to vacations. I usually scratch out a list of things to bring that is much longer than warranted, and then throw a bunch of things in a bag and head out the door. It is very helpful that I have a partner who hears “road trip” and does a full inspection on the car before mending his raincoat, and inventorying his travel bag and first aid kit.
For this particular trip, I knew I wanted to hike in the mountains and eat road trip snacks. That was it. The lack of planning is often assisted by the fact that I have deliciously low expectations.
Clearwater County is one of those places in Alberta where if you know, you know. And if you don’t, it’s hard to explain. Highway 11 West is the main access point, and cuts straight across the county. It eventually takes you to Saskatchewan Crossing, and then you have the choice to go north into Jasper National Park, or south into Banff National Park. Big Horn 144A is a local Indigenous reserve, currently home to some members of the Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley (together known as the Stoney Nakoda) First Nations. The biggest “tourist draw” in this part of Alberta is Abraham Lake, a manmade lake controlled by the Big Horn Dam that is a lovely seafoam colour, and creates some spectacular bubbles in the winter. A lot of land here is designated “crown land”, which means you can hike and camp (mostly) wherever you want, and there is a lot of that going on. There is very spotty cell service. As you drive into the county, there are a lot of ranches. And then it is just forest and mountains.
WHAT WE DID
Every time I try to use All Trails for these excursions, I forget that I won’t have service. So we end up guessing on the trailhead locations, and stumbling along until we get tired. As I mentioned above, with this being crown land, there are trails crisscrossing each other all over the place. And if you see a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road, chances are there’s something good to see if you’ve got some time to find it.
Both “trails” we tackled started where the Cline River meets Abraham Lake. First up was a trail from the Pinto Lake Staging Area on the south side. This one was the tougher of the two, and we faced a lot of steep inclines. The All Trails comments all stated “when faced with an intersection, take the trail that goes down”, which proved to be mostly handy. We didn’t find the waterfalls I was expecting, but we got some lovely canyon views. Next up was the Coral Creek and White Goat Staging Area on the north. Again, having no idea where the Coral Creek headed, we just started walking into the forest. We found a big lake, and then got a different view of the canyon from trail #1.
The vegetation and bird song were a bit different on each side, which was an interesting development. Big destinations like waterfalls or spectacular views are fun, but I like just wandering in the forest too, and that’s what we did!
After trail #1, we drove down to the lake and laid out a picnic blanket for lunch. Always pack a lunch and snacks on a day trip. That’s a very important rule. After trail #2, we drove to Rocky Mountain House and ate McDonald’s in our car before making our way home.
BUT SERIOUSLY, WHAT TO PACK
I have no big tips here. I pack a few layers of clothing and a rain coat. Hiking boots and driving shoes. Snacks, food, lots of water. Dan has the first aid kit and other outdoorsy things I’m sure. We didn’t bring any bear spray along this time, which was dumb because we were hiking in grizzly territory. Good thing I know lots of songs and can sing them loudly as we hike. A towel, bug spray, sunscreen, and picnic blanket rounds out the list. Day trips are nice because you’re not gone for so long that you need a lot of stuff. Plus, we were only an hour or so away from the closest town if we found ourselves in really desperate need of something.
STRUGGLES AND PRIVILEGES
The main struggle on this trip was the fact that I am currently not permitted to drive. That meant 7 hours on the road for Dan. In one day. That’s too many hours for him.
This is also our privilege though. We own a car and we’ve got a driver in the family. This especially felt like a big deal knowing that I could never get out here on my own. Lucas doesn’t love hiking because there are no cars to ogle on the trail. But seriously, he is a trooper, and only started asking “how much longer” when we were all thinking that. When we told him we were on the way back to the car, well, that was the fastest I’d seen him walk all day! He carries his own water canteen, stops when he needs to, and thanks to many years of hiking in the mountains, does a great job on the more technical spots.
This day was loads of fun. I would love to do more day trips this summer, but will most likely stick closer to Edmonton. The mountains are lovely, but when we only have one driver, it makes more sense to keep the drive time to around 2 hours or less.
These are the traditional and contemporary lands of the Tsuu Tina, Niitsitpiis-Stahkoli (Blackfoot), Ktunaxa Nation Yagan Nukiy (Kootenay), and the Metis Nation. Clearwater County is in Treaty Six.