Last known WWI veteran died at age 110

I just read that the last known World War I veteran died Saturday, a mere two weeks from turning 111 years old. Her name was Florence Beatrice Patterson Green, and she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force in September 1918 at the age of 17, where she was assigned to work as a waitress in the officers’ mess.

I confess that as a scrapbooker, whenever I see headlines that the world has lost the last member of an era, I pause and wonder whether that person kept scrapbooks during his/her life or had a memory keeper in the family who took on the chronicler role. (Although I don’t know the answer to this question, the rest of my post is built around the idea that Florence may not have kept a journal or scrapbook.)

Of course, as she lived her life I’m sure Florence Green had no thought of being the last surviving anything. We don’t generally think about our lives that way, do we? We’re all just simple folk living life one day at a time. What’s noteworthy about that?

But a story like Florence’s reminds me that we aren’t usually afforded the vision to see extraordinary while we’re in it. There was Florence, living her 110-year life, every day forging a place for herself in the history books. But did she know it? Of course not. Should not knowing that have stopped her from thinking of her life as remarkable and capturing her memories of it for posterity? You know my answer.

I believe that scrapbookers tend to be the portion of our population who sees every life as exceptional, which is why we spend our time and money to collect family photos and stories and create scrapbooks. Seeing as this is neither an easy nor an inexpensive process, we must believe that to invest in it the way we do.

However, I don’t think the majority of people consider their lives outstanding. I have an 81-year-old aunt, my father’s older sister, who is a nightmare for me as a scrapper. Oh, I love Aunt Bubbles with all my heart. But just try to wrest a good story about her life from her! She thinks it’s all just too boring to capture. No, no, no! I try to make her see that none of the details are meaningless…that every person’s story is worth telling. And so far I have been unsuccessful at interviewing her, but I won’t stop trying.

What I hope more people will realize is that little stories are what make up a life. So a life worth living is a life worth memorializing, no matter whether it feels out of the ordinary every day. Today I am holding Florence Green in my heart as the last member of an event that changed our history. Her story reminds me again that we have the power to preserve the memories of people who will not always be. And it’s really the story of each one of our lives that changes history.

Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal

My husband doesn’t care about clothes…at all. If he ruled the world people would all wear clean but wrinkled shorts and t-shirts to everything. Fortunately, we live in low-key Austin, Texas, where “business casual” doesn’t mean very much, and a majority of people do wear shorts everywhere.

Matt and I own a technology company, which means occasionally we get swag from companies like Microsoft and Cisco, among others. For years Matt has been wearing those hideous t-shirts (no offense intended to the big tech companies, but they really are garish) around the house. However, when he goes out that front door, he makes sure he’s wearing one of his “special” shirts. Even though he doesn’t care a jot about good clothes, he does want to maintain a certain image in the world. And I would describe that image as “geek chick.”

He carefully selects his t-shirts from various online purveyors of fine geek clothing. In his closet are shirts with:

  • A Shakespearean quote spelled out as a mathematical equation (think “To be or not to be”)
  • The falling sperm whale from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with the thought bubble, “I wonder if it will be friends with me?”
  • The symbol Pi written in 4493 digits of Pi
  • My all-time favorite is the one he’s wearing in the large photo on the layout below. It’s inspired by the TV series Firefly and features two dinosaurs with a speech bubble between them that reads, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal.”

This illustrates yet another reason I love scrapbooking: memorializing the personality traits, quirks, habits and personal preferences of those we love. Whether it’s our 40-something husband’s corny t-shirt tastes or our 13-year-old daughter’s short-lived Bieber fever, it’s worth remembering. And celebrating. These are the little things that add up to make people lovable to us, and that’s a great layout topic in my book.


Be You captures my husband's love of corny t-shirts.

Note: Matt does not wear these t-shirts to work, even though he would dearly love to! 😉

Do you journal the tough memories?

If you have visited my site even just a few times, you’ve likely noticed my penchant for scrapping photos from my own childhood. I love to scan in older faded and scratched photos so I can rehab them in Photoshop and scrap them. In addition to being enjoyable for me, it also feels like it’s important to do. I don’t think I need to convince you, gentle reader, about why I say that. It’s one of the main reasons we engage in this hobby…to remember and record.

But for me there’s also a cool byproduct of doing this kind of page: I get to have charming little conversations with my mother and brother about these photos and their memories. Sometimes while I’m working with a set of photos, if I don’t know enough about it I call my mom or bro to ask them for more details. Other times I complete the layout and put it online, after which my family members bring it up to talk about the next time we’re on the phone together. It’s really nice.

Here’s where I get to the reason for the question in my title, “Do you journal the tough memories?” I pulled out a darling photo of Phil and me during the first week of fourth grade in 1976. We had just walked home from school with our arms full of heavy books, and Mom snapped this photo. On the back she wrote, “How studious! September 1976.”

Now I considered, while planning this layout, just journaling the surface details. Something like the description I gave above. But what this photo really reminds me of is a much darker memory. Although I generally loved school, fourth grade was very hard for me; I couldn’t wait for it to end. My difficult times stemmed directly from my homeroom teacher, a nun with a cruel sense of right and wrong.

As I was contemplating how to handle writing about this memory, I grabbed the phone and called Phil for his advice:

  • Do I tell the whole truth?
  • Do I name her?
  • Do I write this differently because I know I’ll be posting it online?

Here’s what we concluded: Tell as much of the truth as you feel comfortable with because people understand that not every memory is rosy. Most won’t be that shocked. And because this teacher was a Catholic nun of a certain age, she was not known in the world by her given name. She was part of a religious community where sisters usually took the name of a saint. Phil and I decided that because I would only be calling her by her religious name, there was no possibility that I could do her reputation (if she is still alive) any true damage.

So I wrote about my real experience on this layout.

Phil observed, “This is really different because you usually just write about happy little memories.” I thought about it then explained that for many of the early photos I have, I was really too young to have a detailed memory about the moment. So I write the facts I know and call it done. But when I look at this photo, rather than remembering much about the day or the moment the shot was taken, I have a very particular feeling associated with the whole school year. So that’s what I felt compelled to write. Phil agreed that’s what I should do.

I wonder, what do you do when you’re faced with this situation? Do you tell the truth of how the photo makes you feel? Or do you just record the happier facts and leave the dark parts in the past?


In September 1976 Phil and I were starting fourth grade and had just walked home with all our books.

An important note: I loved my other years at grade school. Most of the teachers were really wonderful.

Young Crafters Unite blog hop!

Young Crafters Unite Blog Hop header

Hi everyone, and welcome to the next stop on the Young Crafters Unite Blog Hop! If you’re following along the hop you should be arriving here from Chari Moss’ blog (She makes such adorable cards!). If you aren’t a hopper but want to join in the fun you can start at the beginning by visiting the Young Crafters Unite website.

Why do I consider myself a young crafter?

I always feel younger than the calendar says I am. I really believe that being “young” or “old” is up to us. So I act the way I want to feel. And crafting is one of the things I do that helps me stay young. Shopping for crafting supplies surely must reduce wrinkles because it makes me giddy like a little girl. And the feeling I get when I start to cut, stamp and glue things together…well, if my hair was longer I would put it up in pigtails! I suspect all crafters are young crafters. :-)

My “favorite thing” project

We were asked to create a new project using our favorite things, and I chose to create a layout using two favorite things:

  1. These photos are of my brother, Phil, and me at the baby pool in our hometown. I love everything about these photos: Phil’ls scrunchy smile, our darling bathing suits pushed low on our round bellies, our suntanned skin, our happy faces and my memories of many hours spent at that pool together with our mom. Wow, these are awesome photos!
  2. I recently created a tutorial about crocheting on your scrapbook pages, so that’s my new favorite technique! I’ve used it on this layout to create the sun element. It takes some extra time, so I’ll probably save it for more special photos/memories, but I love the even more handmade and vintage feel it gives to my layouts. :-)

At the Pool highlights a few special photos of me and my brother in the summer of 1970.

More of my personal favorites

I thought I would also share just a few more of my recent layouts and cards because they are all about being or staying young, and they make me happy to look at!

I think you are…
I made this little set of 2×3-inch cards so that I could occasionally pop a love note in my husband’s laptop bag before he leaves the house. Why does food with faces make us smile?


I think you, cool, sweet and cheesy!

I am I because my little dog knows me
I can’t help it—I love this layout. That photo of our precious family dog, Spenser, is from 1991 when he was only a few months old. We all adored him and he adored us. And I think this Gertrude Stein quote is awesome.


I think this Gertrude Stein quote is all this layout needed to capture my feeling.

He will go far
This is a photo from 2000, when our nephew Jerad was only 4. I thought this new October Afternoon line, Rocket Age, would work perfectly to highlight all the potential I see in his little face.


This outer space-themed paper just seemed like the perfect way to showcase a child's potential.

Thank you so much for hopping by today. Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post because there are prizes up for grabs for some lucky participants. Randomly selected commenters will have the opportunity to win prizes from Simon Says Stamp, Paper Smooches and Lawn Fawn! Comment by Monday, July 4th at 11:59PM CST to win; winners will be announced Wednesday, July 6th at noon CST.

The next young crafter on this hop is Kelly Latevola (This woman is a master with Distress Inks!). Thanks again for stopping by, and I do hope you’ll come back again soon.

Study shows high levels of versatility in scrapbook sketches

I want to let you in on a little secret. I am not only a scrapbook artist but also a scrapbook scientist.

When I don my lab coat (in a flattering shade of aqua and sporting The Constant Scrapper logo), it’s time to put some aspect of our beloved craft under the microscope. I want to understand either what makes a layout really work, what slight adjustments to the formula make the most difference or what makes this hobby so enjoyable. Please join me on this voyage of discovery. :-)

First I thought it would be fun (ahem) scientifically relevant to test the effect that different product choices have on multiple layouts using the same sketch. Following scientific method, I will hypothesize, test and analyze three scrapbook layouts based on the same sketch and report the results here.

1. Define the question

It has been stated many times in the scrapbooking literature (add references here ;-)) that sketches add versatility and endless possibility to our crafting process. Yet, during interviews with scrappers who don’t use sketches in their design process I found that the most common objection was that their layouts would look too similar to other layouts completed based on the same sketch. This points to our main question for this experiment:

Do the products used on various layouts that all follow the same sketch introduce enough difference for each design to be seen by the community as unique?

2. Gather information and resources

I have chosen the following sketch and scrapbook products for this test. The sketch is one I drew after seeing a layout I liked in the Scrapbook Trends Quick & Easy special edition a few years ago.


This sketch is from a layout I saw in a Scrapbook Trends magazine.

To further limit the variables in this experiment, I chose to work exclusively (except for just a few bits and bobs) with products from Echo Park (the Little Boy, Walk in the Park, Springtime and For the Record collections):

Echo Park's Little Boy collection Echo Park's Walk in the Park collection
Echo Park's Springtime collection Echo Park's For the Record collection

3. Form hypothesis

I predict that the difference in the products chosen will be sufficient to make each of the layouts look unique and not directly connected to the beginning sketch.

4. Perform experiment and collect data

Excuse me while I go to my craft lab and conduct the design portion of this experiment. I’ll be back with the results!

5. Analyze data

For this first layout about our cat, Oliver, I used mostly products from the Walk in the Park collection because of its bright but not primary color scheme and its sweetly simple patterns. The light in the photo was warm, so I played that up with the brown and gold cardstock I chose to use with the patterned papers. The button and sock monkey embellishments are meant to highlight the laundry theme and the comfort Oliver takes in curling up on a fresh pile of clean towels. I give you sample #1:


This design uses mainly papers from Echo Park's A Walk in the Park collection.

For specimen #2 about all the men in my husband’s family working together to renovate his mother’s house, I selected most of my products from the Little Boy collection because I wanted a bright and playful, obviously boyish feel for the layout. I added some Bazzill and Coredinations cardstock, a paper-pieced house and die-cut frame and clouds.


In this layout I used mostly pieces from the Echo Park Little Boy collection.

For the vintage photo in sample #3 I chose to work with the patterned papers in the sophisticated For the Record collection. I thought the vintage yet slightly modern feel of these papers worked well with this one-time-event photo (my grandparents getting together to meet my new baby brother). The simple embellishments I used were stickers from the collection, a “family tree” die cut from paper from the Walk in the Park collection and polka dot letter stickers from Hobby Lobby. Again, I followed the same sketch as in the other two examples.


This layout uses mainly the For the Record collection by Echo Park.

6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

The look and feel of these three final projects is measurably different, based on the products chosen for each theme. I submit that even the well-trained eye of a scrapbook artist would not pick up on the fact that these layouts shared a common sketch (and certainly our non-scrappy friends and family won’t notice). My conclusion is that scrapbookers should find sketches that really work for them and then call on them repeatedly to help turn out designs they’ll love. No one will know they came from the same sketch but us. And really, we should feel more clever about that than guilty!

7. Publish results

Done here!

8. Retest (frequently done by other scientists)

Would you be interested in conducting a similar experiment and sharing your results? I ask only in the interest of furthering our scientific understanding of our hobby, of course. If you do repeat this experiment, please leave a comment so I can read your test results!