What I Read in the Summer

whativebeenreadingHappy Friday, friends!

How crazy is it that we’re already heading into the Fall?  I don’t know about you but I’m incredibly excited about cooler weather, pumpkin spice lattes (they’re back) and hopefully being able to wear my boots again soon!  I’m so ready to curl up under a blanket with a good book every once in awhile (instead of sweating it out with the fan on full blast, ha!) I know it might be awhile before SoCal is blessed with a break in the heat, but I’ll be ready when it gets here!

Today I’d like to share with you what I read over the last few months.  A lot of the books I’m sharing here have been pretty popular (so much so that some have been made into movies!) so many reviews have already been posted, but I still wanted to share my thoughts :)

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter: This book was pretty far out from what I typically read, which is partly why I picked it up.  If this were a movie, there would have been quite a few cringe-worthy times I would have looked away. However, despite some really disturbing parts, I still found myself reading on.  I was intrigued to see what new twists the main character would go though.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes :  This book had so much hype a couple of years ago, but the recent reviews I had been hearing weren’t quite as positive.  Sometimes I wish that I didn’t care about reading reviews, but to be transparent, reviews and recommendations usually fuel what books I choose to read. That being said, I did quite enjoy it.  It wasn’t my favorite book of the summer and it felt a bit like a story I had already read, but I enjoyed the characters and it was heartfelt throughout.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: I’m so happy I listened to this as an audiobook.  Having this book read aloud by Elizabeth Gilbert felt extra magical.  It was like having a friend in the car whose sole mission was to express her thoughts on creativity, pushing past barriers, and finding joy in things you’re making (whether they’re masterpieces or complete duds).  Sound amazing?  It was!!

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: I listened to the first half of this as an audiobook and the second half I read. I loved all of the twists and turns of the plot and the back and forth between characters and time.  I also loved how each character had so many dimensions.  I honestly didn’t know who I should be rooting for.  Not sure how this will translate into a movie, but I guess we’ll soon find out!

Looking for Alaska by John Green: I only made it through about half of this book, which is pretty sad considering its only about 250 pages.  I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get into the characters’ stories.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: My favorite book of the summer!  A pretty emotional read from start to finish, and I got so deeply involved in the main characters. I spent many late nights with this one so I could continue reading.  Can’t recommend it enough!

What are you reading?

How I’ve been using Story Kits in my Project Life Album

SZayas_Stuff_FullLayout.jpgHi Friends!  It’s been quite awhile since I shared an update on my Project Life (PL) album.  I’m happy to say that I’ve completed all of my pages from January-June (hooray!) and can’t wait to share a little flip through of those pages soon.  Today, however, I wanted to focus on a couple of pages that were created specifically using two Story Kits by Ali Edwards: Drive and Stuff.  While you can no longer purchase the physical kits, the digital version of the Story Stamps are still available here. :)

I’ve loved incorporating the Story Kits into my PL album more this year as a way of getting myself to do more journaling.  So far it has been working!  My natural tendency is to usually go very photo heavy and light on the journaling in my PL album and use my Story Kits on full page layouts or mini books, but mixing things up has been fun!

SZayas_Stuff_Detail.jpgI paired my “Stuff” Story Kit with photos from a wedding I went to with my family.  All good stuff here- time with family, celebrating marriage, having fun exploring the Queen Mary.  I loved the sentiments in this kit, and the colors paired really well too!

SZayas_Drive_FullLayout.jpgI paired my “Drive” Story Kit with photos from a recent trip to Yosemite.  This super quick roadtrip reminded me that the journey can be equally as fun as arriving at the destination (as long as you don’t get car fever!).  I don’t mind spending hours on end in the car with O because its just a great time to catch up.  We laugh, find new little places to stop for coffee or food (thank you Yelp!) and sometimes just do our own thing (me reading my book while he listens to music or podcast).  It was fun spending a little more time with this story and getting it into my album.

SZayas_Drive_Detail(with.pocket.flap.down).jpgOccasionally I’ll find myself at a complete loss for journaling about a specific story prompt (“Believe” was totally one of those!), but that’s when the class has come in super handy.  You get lots of ideas to fuel some fun projects.  The great news is that it’s FREE when you get the kit, the stamp, the digital set (or all three!).  It’s a total win!


If you’d like more information about the monthly Story Kits you can find it here.

If you’re a Story Kit subscriber I’d love to know how you use your kits.  Are you a story teller through your traditional layouts, mini books, PL album, all 3, or some other awesomely creative form?



December Daily 2016 | Kits unboxing video)

Hi friends!

Today I’m excited to share an unboxing video of the two December Daily® kits I’ll be using for my album this year. If you’re not familiar with December Daily®, you can find lots of information on what this project is all about on Ali Edwards’ website.

Last year was my first year completing an album and to this day it remains one of my favorite projects I have ever worked on (which is saying a lot!).  I knew at the end of last year that this is one project I’d definitely be tackling again.

Watching unboxing videos is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, so making my own was super fun, though I’ll admit a little nerve-racking being my first video. So many talented ladies out there just make it look so easy. :)

(You can also watch the video on YouTube here.)

If you’re interested in purchasing one of these kits (or seeing what comes in the other kits) you can find more information here.

Also, be sure to check out my fellow Creative Team members‘ Instagram and Blog accounts for more sneaky unboxing videos coming soon :)

If you’d like to see the pages from my 2015 December Daily® album you can find my previous posts here: Cover & Foundation Pages, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

Let me know if you have any questions!  If you’re participating this year I can’t wait to see what you make!



Friendship Mini Album

Hi Friends! Today I’m excited to share a fun mini book with you!  The idea for this mini was sparked by the new “Hello Friends” digital stamps by Ali Edwards and of course 17 years of friendship with my besties!   img_6837My initial project idea for these digital stamps was to do a traditional layout with some kind of grid format so I could include multiple photos.  However, once I started digging into the archives I found WAY too many fun photos I wanted to bring back to life!

Don’t you love how a project idea can change in an instant? Some of my favorite projects have come to fruition this way!img_6840I’ll admit that some of these photos were not the best quality . . . I’m talking horrible lighting, blurry faces,  interesting (a.k.a. unflattering) angles . . . but the emotions in these photos from some of our best times together are completely priceless.

To minimize the appearance of some of the photo flaws I simply turned them all black and white.  This method not only improved the look of the photos, but it also allowed me to play around with lots of fun, bright colors to brighten this mini up!img_6841All of the black and white patterned background papers came from the Ali Edwards’ digital Day in the Life Mini Kit No. 2 and I also used some elements from the Wild digital story stamp set .img_6843I also used some flamingo transparency paper (from Michaels) and a couple of other old patterned papers and some embellishments from my stash. img_6842img_6855img_6845img_6848img_6849img_6850img_6852I also adhered this “just us girls” mini flair from Feed Your Craft directly onto the inside cover of my 4×4 album (I love how strong the adhesives on these flairs are! They won’t budge!!) so it would remain visible the whole time I’m flipping through my album.img_6858

I’ll most likely continue adding to this book over time since these photos only scratch the surface of the MANY photos I’ve collected over the last 17 years, but this definitely feels like a very positive start!

Believe (8.5 x 11 Layout)

SZayas_Believe_FullLayout.jpgMy first thought when I saw this month’s believe story kit was, “wow, I can’t wait to frame some of these cards!”  The words, the colors, the vibes . . . I wanted to plaster my office walls with this kit that Ali designed.  Everything is just SO GOOD.
IMG_6564.JPGHowever, it took me a little while to work through what stories I wanted to focus my energy on.  This is the layout that came out of it.  These words that I was writing to myself were the exact words that I needed to hear in that moment and are words that I know I’ll need to read from time to time down the road.  These are the things that I never want to stop believing.


Project Life 2016 (May 23-29)

PL2016 May 23-29.jpgAnother week is in the books, and it feels good!  Nugget is officially taking over my album, but I’ve totally embraced the change since I don’t mind seeing his cute face on every page (who would?!).

This week’s pages are a mashup of cards, stamps, flair, and other embellishments.  It’s a busy layout for sure, but probably one of my favorites that I’ve put together recently.


Here’s how it came together:

IMG_6546.JPG(Left Side)

I kept the top left pocket pretty simple by just inserting a picture with a Kelly Purkey sticky note attached with the date.

IMG_6547.JPGIn the middle left pocket I inserted a photo of what I was currently reading and used the “coffee+books=love” stamp from this Kelly Purkey planner set to stamp directly on the image. I also added a little cork sticker from an old Studio Calico documenter kit.

In the middle right pocket I used a card from an old Studio Calico documenter kit to record a few things that I’m currently enjoying.  Anyone else into Bob’s Burgers?!  I can’t say that I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately (thanks to some really good books :)  but when I do sit down to watch something, that’s totally my show of choice!

IMG_6548.JPGIn the bottom left pocket I used a 4×6 Studio Calico card and adhered part of a different 3×4 into the corner (which I also did to the top pocket on the right side).  I’m definitely not opposed to cutting up cards and mixing them together to make my own!

IMG_6549.JPG(Right Side)

In the top right pocket I used 2 more 3×4 Studio Calico cards.  Whenever I put two cards into a 4×6 pocket I’ll either use my fuse tool to fuse the middle OR if I end up using a 4×6 card on the reverse side then I’ll just adhere my 3×4 cards onto the back of the 4×6 card/photo (hope that makes sense).   The main thing is that I don’t want my cards to slide around when turning the page.

That puppy love flair is from Feed Your Craft.  Ever since placing my first order with Feed Your Craft I’ve become addicted to flair and have started putting it on everything!!

IMG_6550.JPGIn the middle left pocket I kept things simple again by adding a little chipboard flair from Studio Calico, and in the middle right pocket I used a star stamp to embellish around the “Good Eats” sentiment on that card.

IMG_6551.JPGIn the bottom left pocket I stamped “date night” directly onto my photo and used another chipboard sticker from Studio Calico to finish it off.

Whew!  I told you there was a lot going on.  The little details are always my favorite. :)

Life as of Late >> 01


Drinking >> Water.  Lots and lots of water these days, especially with the current heat wave hitting Southern California!

Watching >> Bobs Burgers and New Girl . . . I’m a fan of anything lighthearted that makes me laugh.

Reading >> Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.  I’m only about 50 pages in, but so far its pretty good!

Making >> My Little Summer Joy traveler’s notebook.  I finished my cover, picked up some basic supplies, and now I can’t wait to add content to the inside!  If you’re interested in joining a fun and FREE class to help you record your summer memories, you can find more information here.

Feeling >> Grateful for the puppy that is currently curled up at my feet.

Hoping >> To take a quick trip up to Portland in August.  If you have any recommendations for places to see/eat, I’d love to hear them!

Trying >> To get back into my workout schedule (story of my life).  So far so good.  I recently discovered the awesomeness of Spotify workout playlists, so my treadmill run just got a lot less boring ;-)

Summer Reading List (Layout)


I’m not quite sure what was more fun- putting this layout together, or selecting which books I wanted to put on my Summer Reading List!


On my list for this Summer:

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Looking for Alaska by John Green


Layout Supplies:

Ali Edwards Read Messy Circles

Enamel Dots and Alpha Stickers by Studio Calico

Hello, Bathtime (12×12 Layout)

Hello Bathtime Cover.jpgI’d say I did a pretty fair amount of reading about training and taking care of a dog before we ever brought Nugget home, however, I can honestly say that for the first two weeks we had him I basically had no idea what I was doing (ha!).  I’m still learning every day and things are by no means perfect (are they ever? I think not) but the first week was definitely the toughest when I was getting an average of 2-4 hours of sleep each night and felt like I was going to break if I had to clean up one one puppy pee accident!

IMG_6507.JPGWhat I’ve learned over the past several weeks is that patience is one of the best virtues to have when it comes to raising a dog (and let’s be honest, in life in general!) Things have slowly started to shift both in how Nugget acts around the house and in how I react to the things that he does.  Progress here, always :)

IMG_6500.JPGSo, all of that is to say that even during the toughest of times during those first two weeks, there were still activities that brought (and still bring me) so much joy.  One of those was the simple act of giving Nugget his bath.  Since he’s small enough (for now) and since our backyard hose wasn’t working we started giving Nugget baths in our tub.  He’s just so darn cute sitting in the tub anticipating the great scrub down.  I had always imagined a flailing puppy and muddy water everywhere, but he has been so chill during bath time since day one!  HOORAY! After his bath we wrap him up in a towel and I sit with him on the fireplace while he dries off.  Puppy snuggles are the best!

IMG_6501.JPGSupplies Used on Layout:

Studio Calico “Scout” Documenter Kit

The Great Escape Stamp Set by Feed Your Craft

Puppy Love mini flair badges by Feed Your Craft