Punch it down

Twisted Sketches has revealed its latest sketch, #121, and the twist is “punch.” Be sure to head over to the site to grab the sketch, then create something and link it up! :)

Here’s my Design Team layout inspired by the sketch.


I love using Twisted Sketches to inspire me to tell stories I might not have thought of telling.

I actually struggled for a while, trying to come up with a layout based on this week’s twist (punch). I knew I could always just include an embellishment created with a punch, but I really wanted my topic to somehow incorporate the twist. Then it hit me that you punch down dough when you’re making bread, and I had the perfect story to tell!

When it came to cooking and baking, my Nana—my paternal grandmother—had mad skillz. She commanded a kitchen. Of course, that came from a lot of practice, as she owned and ran restaurants throughout my father’s childhood and young adulthood. In fact, I don’t think she ever baked a loaf of bread. Instead, she always pulled out her huge metal bowl and dumped a whole 5-pound bag of flour into it and baked several loaves of bread.

And I never saw her follow a recipe. In fact, when I was a teenager and wanted to try baking bread for the first time, I asked Nana to tell me how to do it. She didn’t have a recipe to share with me, so while she baked a batch one day we captured what she did. She would pour a big handful of salt into her hand (her usual method of measurement) and then pour it into a measuring cup so that I could record the amount. We had a lovely time together putting her recipe down on paper, but honestly, how often am I going to need to bake several loaves of bread at one time? :-)

For years now, my brother and I have been inspired by Nana to bake bread, too. Even though we don’t make it often (usually at holidays), we both love the process of combining and kneading simple ingredients to turn them into loaves of home-baked magic. It’s a slow, homey procedure. It requires patience while the dough rises. Then it offers a therapeutic opportunity to punch it back down (If you’re going through a stressful time in your life, I highly recommend baking a loaf of bread on a Saturday morning to get out your frustrations.). And finally, it’s hard to deny the sense of pride you feel when you take that fragrant loaf out of the oven and serve it to your family.

With all the fall and winter holidays that are on the near horizon, as well as the cool fall days I’m hoping to experience soon (temperatures are still rising to over 100 degrees in Austin), I think it’s time to break out my bread pan and flour. It’s time to get a little punchy!

Six ways to combat a common crafting conundrum: How do you fight the post-holiday blahs?

Are you like me? When a holiday is just around the corner, you feel like buying the newest seasonal products and scrapping your heart out? Note that this means we get the desire to scrap memories before they’ve actually been made. 😛 But once we’ve celebrated the holiday we feel less like working with those products, right?


I do believe it’s the scrapbook companies’ fault! 😉 I mean, they put untold effort into promoting seasonal products before the holiday—by showing off gorgeous design-team examples, hosting giveaways and blasting us with contests. And we fall in line and get completely carried away by the excitement of it all.

Yet once the holiday has come and gone and we’re armed with the photos and memories from the event, we’re also experiencing the post-holiday blahs…and we’ve sort of lost that lovin’ feeling. Not to mention the fact that the online world has now moved on…usually to focus on the next holiday!

So, what are we crafters to do? Well, I’ve put together a list of six ways to combat this common craft conundrum (say that as fast as you can):

Things to do before the holiday

  1. Scrap past years’ photos. Most of us have at least a few photos from past holidays. Harness your pre-holiday mojo by getting out those older photos and pairing them with your new products.
  2. Make holiday-themed home decor items. If you make decorations for your home with just-released hoiday products you’ll satisfy the itch to create as well as get to display them right away.
  3. Create premade pages. While you’re feeling motivated (before the big day), make pages that are complete except for the photos. That way you can choose and print the needed number of photos right after the holiday, pop them on the page and add the journaling. Done and done!

Strategies to try after the holiday

  1. Put yourself back in the mood. Media has a strong effect on our moods, so why not use it? Fire up “Elf” or “It’s a Wonderful Life” if you want to work on Christmas photos. Put on “Independence Day” or listen to some John Philip Sousa if you want to get into the patriotic mood again. Then craft the night away!
  2. Get a holiday crafting buddy. In the weeks leading up to the holiday when you’re really excited about all the seasonal hoopla, make an appointment on your calendar to crop with some friends, and then scrap those photos. Make this appointment for as soon after the holiday as possible. Get your crafting buddies to agree to a theme-specific crop. You can all agree that you will only work on holiday projects so that you can keep each other motivated.
  3. Host a holiday scrap night for one. Even if you’re just going to scrap at home, make an appointment on your calendar to do it. Make this appointment for as soon after the holiday as possible. Pull out all your special products and put them in a prominent spot in your crafting space to keep you fired up. And then keep that appointment. If you’ve planned ahead for it, you are more likely to look forward to it and be in the right mood when the time comes.

Yes, I took a little of my own advice. A few weeks ago I rode the patriotic wave and pulled out this July 4th photo from 1992. Then I put together the layout below, following tip #1 under the before-holiday list above. I had fun doing it because I wasn’t yet blah about red, white and blue.


This is just a simple layout about my family celebrating the 4th of July together in 1992.

If you have any other strategies for dealing with the problem of fading crafty enthusiasm after a holiday, please share it in the comments. I would love to add to this list.

And to the scrapbooking companies out there, would it kill you to give us a little bit of post-holiday inspirado?

Snoopy came first

I love, love, love using vintage photos from my mom’s attic. The precious ones on this layout are from the late 1960s, when I was a tiny baby and my brother was still baking in Mom’s oven. 😉 They highlight my parents’ relationship with Snoopy, the beagle they adopted before starting to have us kids. You can tell with certainty that they were ready to be parents, can’t you? I mean, just look at how my dad has him swaddled in two of the photos. Darling much?


Mom and Dad had a darling beagle named Snoopy before they started having children. Can you tell they were ready to be parents?

I created this layout based on this sketch that I found at the Sketch Support site.


You can get this sketch at the Sketch Support site.

Here’s to Pat

I’m sorry I’ve been absent lately, but I do have a good reason. I have been putting a good deal of crafty and blog-writing time into my first ever guest blog spot! I’m very excited to be appearing as a guest blogger this Wednesday on Live. Teach. Create. I’ve created a tutorial that I hope you’ll check out and use on a future layout.

Don’t worry; I’ll remind you again on Wednesday. :-)

In the meantime, I’ll share a layout I did a while back about my husband’s stepfather, Pat. He came into Matt’s life when he was about 12 and did a lot to make his life more stable. Though Pat had never been married or a father before, he stepped into a family of five small children who were not happy about having him around and won them over one-by-one. Unfortunately, Pat’s and Sandie’s marriage ended after ten years, but Pat did leave his mark on the family.

I used some rather psychedelic paper for this layout, but I thought it worked well with both the style of the older photo on the left and the colors in the later photo on the right.

So, here’s to Pat.


This layout is in honor of my husband's stepfather, Pat.