Elle’s Studio Guest Designer Project

SZayas_Elle'sStudio_Photo1.jpgI’m so excited and humbled that I was asked to be a guest designer for Elle’s Studio this month.  I’ve been a fan of Elle’s kits for so long!  Having the opportunity to play around with the April and Live Laugh Love kits and to share some projects this month was so much fun!  If you’re interested to read more about this project head on over to Elle’s blog.  More projects to come later this month!!

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Pocket Prompts Class at Big Picture Classes!

BPC.pngTo say that I’m excited to share today’s news is a huge understatement, friends.  I’m in a bit of a “pinch me” state at the moment.  Next Monday, April 17, my very first class will be launching over at Big Picture Classes!! Hooray!!

Putting this class together has been a journey, and one that I am so grateful for.  Over the last 4 months I’ve been brainstorming, sketching, playing with paper, and reflecting on my process so that I could share some of my very favorite photo and journaling prompts and also do a complete walkthrough of how and why I do what I do in my pocket pages.

As I was working on this class I wanted to make sure that I was reaching both the crafters that have never done pocket page scrapbooking as well as those who have been doing it for a long time and are maybe looking for a fresh perspective to add life to their pages.

I hope that if you love pocket page scrapbooking or if you’re curious to try it out for the first time that you’ll consider this class!  You can sign up for a free two week trial over at Big Picture Classes today!

ALSO, later this week I’ll be doing a giveaway over on my Instagram for two people to win a free one month subscription!

All of the workshop details can be found here.

Hope to see you there!!

January-March Books Roundup

Books.jpgHappy Saturday, friends! It’s been quite awhile since I’ve chatted about books here on the blog, so I thought today would be a good day to recap what I’ve been reading over last few months!  These posts are always a bit out of the norm for me as most of my ramblings here center around all things crafty, but since I always LOVE reading about what everyone else is reading, I thought I’d share what I’ve been reading too!

In January I decided to subscribe to the Book of the Month club (BOTM). I had been debating a subscription for so long, trying to figure out if I could justify the purchase, but in the end I decided to just give it a try.  I’m so happy I did.  One of the biggest selling points for me was that the company allows you to skip months, so if you don’t see a book you like you won’t get charged for that month.   I’m not an affiliate, just a fan ;).

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman: I picked this book up on a whim one afternoon while shopping at Target, and  I’m so happy I did!  I sailed through the pages in about a week.  It’s on the longer side for a novel, but it’s a really easy read.  I loved how this book spanned three generations.  In a brief summary, a 30-year-old woman travels across the world to discover a part of her grandmother’s life that no one really knew about.  You read about her courageous and loving grandmother who had some crazy obstacles to overcome at a very young age, and also get to see how her granddaughter is transformed as she is seeking the truth about her grandmother’s history. It’s a really beautiful story.  (4.5 stars)

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn: I was happily surprised when I saw that this short story was going to be shipped for free with my first Book of the Month club box.  I’m not one to purchase short stories and don’t really seek them out at the library either so it was fun changing things up with a book that could be finished in one sitting.  The plot gripped me enough to finish it, but I don’t know if it would have held my attention if it were a full novel . . .  (2.5 stars)

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough:  This was my BOTM club pick for January.  It was a little eerie, very twisted, and there was no way I could have predicted the ending.  Still, I can’t tell if I loved it or hated it . . . it was just that strange.  I’ll base my review on the fact that the story has stayed with me for the last month (I’m still thinking about the crazy ending!).  I’d totally recommend it just so you can judge for yourself! (4 stars)

You are a Badass by Jen Sincero: This book is like one big pep talk from a no-nonsense caring friend. I didn’t find any of the advice in here to be earth shattering or something that I haven’t read in other motivational books, but I did find it to be uplifting, concise, and to be a good reminder to believe in myself and take action! (3.5 stars)

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel: This was my BOTM club pick for February.  I can’t remember the last non-fiction book (other than motivational books) I’ve read, so this was a really nice change of pace.  The true story follows a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for nearly 30 years by choice.  I found myself closing the book a lot and just thinking about the different circumstances he was in, wondering how someone could choose to live in negative 20 degree temperatures winter after winter to avoid human interaction when comfort was literally just a short walk away.  It got me thinking about how we all come from different walks of life and how we’re all just trying to figure out what works best for us.  (3.5 stars)

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge:  This book was recommended to me by my mom, so of course I was excited to jump into it!  I started this book on a weekend trip to Vegas and finished it shortly after we returned.  Parts of it reminded me so much of What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, but I think I liked What Alice Forgot a bit more.  Overall, it was a quick and easy read and I liked the emotional ups and downs and how each character’s flaws were explored. (3.5 stars)

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg: Confession: I only got about a third of the way through this before I had to return it to the library, but what I ready was completely fascinating!  If you’re interested in how habits are formed, this book is totally for you! (4 stars based on what I read :)

Currently on my nightstand: First Comes Love by Emily Griffin

What are you reading?  Any recommendations?

A Rainy Day Story

SZayas_March2017DigitalKit_FullLayout1.jpgOne story that I will always remember about my parents is the story of how they met and their first date.  While growing up I remember asking them to retell the story several times and I’ve sometimes caught myself wondering if that’s a question Omar and I will get from our kids one day.

Truth be told, the first part of our story probably isn’t that romantic- after very little luck with dating, my coworkers encouraged me to try online dating.  I’d heard mixed “reviews”, but decided to just give it a try and put myself out there.  I feel incredibly lucky that I only had one bad date before I met O, but that bad date was almost the reason we never met.  We now laugh about the fact that I didn’t respond to his sweet message for nearly 2 weeks and even considered closing my account before we ever got the chance to meet.  Looking back I can’t believe how close I came to never meeting my future husband.

We sent get-to-know-you emails back and forth for about 10 days before we decided to meet on what would end up being a very rainy St. Patrick’s Day in 2012.  It’s not that I don’t treasure all of those emails that we sent back and forth to each other (I really wish I had kept them!) but I’ll always feel like the first time we met in person is where the sweet part of this story starts.   AE_March2017DigitalKit_Detail1.jpg

To document this special story I used the newest March 2017 Digital Kit from Ali Edwards and paired them with stamps from last month’s Bond story theme.  It ended up being a rainy day story about a rainy day :)SZayas_Digital2017Kit_Detail3.jpg

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of the little details from that day that happened nearly 5 years ago, but I’m so happy to have this story finally documented!

Nugget’s 1st Year Mini (using AE digitals)

20170205_121848.jpgIt’s crazy to think that we adopted Nugget almost 9 months ago.   When I look at him I can hardly believe how fast he’s grown from the little fluffball we picked up on a Friday afternoon last May into the 70 pound playful puppy he is today.  In some ways time has flown, but in other ways it has nearly stood still as we’ve tried to navigate our way through the challenges of figuring out life with our first puppy.20170205_122306.jpgTo help record some of the milestones of Nugget’s first year I decided to put together a hybrid mini book.  The new Week by Week digital stamps by Ali Edwards were so perfect to get the ball rolling, and sticking to a basic template for each page allowed me to complete this mini in just a couple of hours!Nugget 1.jpgNugget 2.jpgNugget 3.jpg20170205_121643.jpgThanks so much for stopping by!

30 Days of Gratitude: Completed Traveler’s Notebook

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Its still so hard to wrap my head around the fact that it’s already December.  It feels like not long ago I was stamping the cover of my Gratitude Traveler’s Notebook getting ready to fill its pages with just some of the things I’m thankful for, and here I am today already sharing the completed notebook! Time flies.

Even though I was already sharing all of the pages of my notebook over on my Instagram throughout the month, I still wanted to do a full flip-through so I could talk about some of the materials I used and the techniques I played around with.

At times this project felt a bit overwhelming (as almost any daily project that is sustained for a good chunk of time tends to be!) but on the whole it really was just a fun activity and great practice for last month.  I look forward to flipping through these pages for many years to come!

P.S. You can find my 2015 Gratitude Mini here. :)

December Daily® 2016 Preparations

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Hi Friends!

Today I’m sharing how I’ve prepared for my December Daily® project for this year.  I’ve also put a video together where I walk you through my album from last year, share what products I plan to use this year (and how I keep myself organized), and lastly, how I prep my album without the use of foundation pages so that I can feel confident that I won’t get stuck or not know how to move forward on my album once December comes!

2016-11-13 08.45.36 2.jpgSome background:

Last year was my second attempt at completing a December Daily album, but my first time actually doing it.  I took some time last year to assess what parts of my process worked for me and what didn’t so that this year I could feel confident going into this project.

While not everyone works on projects the same way, I’m hopeful that at least some of the tips I’m sharing today will help you with your December Daily® project, or any daily project that you might have lined up in the near future.2016-11-13 08.45.35 1.jpg

Here are some of the things that have worked for me:

Prepping my ideas, but not my pages: A lot of people like to build foundation pages. I totally get that and think the idea is brilliant for getting a head start on your album.  However, I find that building my pages beforehand reduces my flexibility later on.  I like to use my photos to drive what cards and embellishments I use in my pockets, so waiting until I have my photos printed is a must before I start adding things into the pockets.  Instead of adding to my pages, I use a piece of scratch paper to write out ideas of what stories I want to capture throughout the month.

On this piece of paper I make a list from 1-31 to represent each day of the month.  I fill in any days where I already know what activities are happening and below my calendar list I write in ideas for other stories I can capture that aren’t necessarily date specific.  This way, if I ever have a day where nothing is happening (and believe me, there are plenty of those days!) I never feel like I don’t have a story to tell.  Having this list handy also allows me to work ahead.  If I feel momentum to keep working on my album one day, I can capture a couple of stories from my list and actually get ahead!

Keeping my stash organized and minimal: This year’s stash is even bigger than last year’s, but I limited myself to one photo storage box for embellishments, and one small box for papers and cards.  Having a limited amount of supplies helps me remember what I have and ensures that I won’t spend too much time digging through things to find what I need.  I like using boxes to store everything so I can tuck it all away when I’m not working on my album.

Printing and Editing Photos:  I use a mixture of DSLR and camera phone photos for my December Daily, but anything that I snap on my phone I like to edit right away using the VSCO app.  This way it’s ready to go as soon as I import it onto my computer.

I try to print my photos every few days (or every day if possible!).  Printing photos is my least favorite part of working on projects, so if I can get that out of the way right away I’m more likely to work on my album in my free time.

I hope that you have found these tips to be helpful in some way.  One thing I like to remember is that while I see a lot of value in this project and want to capture this season, no project is worth stressing over.  It’s all about making it work for you and not the other way around!

Supplies Mentioned in the Video:

December Daily® Main Kit (Note: the main kit has sold out, but the digital version of this kit can still be purchased here.

Decor8 Mini Kit

Cozy Christmas Digital Stamps

December Calendar Digital Stamp (I used this on my December Calendar page)

December Details Digital Stamp

Digital Studio DIY Digital Mini Kit (I used a 6×8 paper from this mini kit as the foundation for My Reason Why page)

Holiday Planner stamps by Kelly Purkey

“Up” Story Kit™ Layout

SZayas_Up_FullLayout.jpgHi Friends!

Today I’m here to share my latest Story Kit™ layout for the Ali Edwards Digital Design Team.  I absolutely loved all the different themes that called for exploration with this month’s kit, but I decided to go the travel themed route so I could get a layout into my Travel Album!IMG_6951.jpg

If you remember me talking about my Travel Album in this previous post then you might remember me mentioning that I’d be working on documenting these trips in chronological order.  I totally went against that by working on Seattle, but the colors of these photos just worked so perfectly.  I’m constantly reminded that there are no rules in memory keeping, and the game plan can and should change to make it best work for you!  So, Seattle, here we go!SZayas_Up_Detail.jpg

Working with 9×12 is still an interesting challenge, but it’s been fun switching things up from the usual 6×12.IMG_6950.jpgIMG_6963.jpgIMG_6964.jpg

Have you broken into your <Up> Story Kit™ yet?  What stories are you telling this month?