Keep your eyes on your own paper

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

SEP 19, 2014 | Roots to Roofs


There's this little thing I like to do called scrapbooking. You may have heard of it? It's a multi-billion dollar industry in this country and if you've ever kept something you value and put pasted it onto paper to preserve it you've done it.

But The Industry makes it seem a little more complicated than that. And, while I'm glad there is an industry which supports my passion for preserving memories, people were doing it long before QVC picked on the goldmine, I think we've gotten a little sidetracked by the glitter and embossing powder.

Because sure, it would be lovely to have an entire room at home dedicated to scrapbooking supplies, all you really need is a pen, pictures, paper and some paste. But even a stapler would do. But that's not safe for archiving, they will tell you.

Maybe not. But if my mama left me a bunch of pictures and stories in her own handwriting I wouldn't be worried about the rust stains, I'd just be stoked to have a piece of her heart in my hand. And I certainly wouldn't question her lack of embellishments.

As a writer I obviously believe in the power and importance of telling, and sharing, our stories, but it's not just the big, breaking news stories I want to see covered in scrapbooks. No, I would love for more people to just take note of right now.

We need to celebrate our everyday, ordinary lives. Especially, I think, in this digital age were less and less is being preserved in a meaningful, permanent way.

I accomplish this by taking a picture a day, most of the days, of something that matters right now and I do a little journaling about it and combine all of it in a pocket-page system called Project Life designed by Becky Higgins to simplify scrapbooking.

And for the record, there are more sticky notes than pictures in the pockets at the moment. This year, I'm about 33 weeks behind but have no doubt I'll catch up. Tomorrow, or another year. I've got the pictures and the notes and figure worst case scenario I can staple all of that together and hand it over to my boys when they're grown: there.

There's what mattered to you when you were two, and ten and thirteen. And also in there is what mattered to me, to your brother and your dad. You'll also find in there some of what happened in the world. Big stuff that mattered to everyone, and little stuff that mattered to just us. There will be books we read, meals we savored, things we did, places we went and the people we loved.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into it. But, if this project calls to you, if you are excited at the thought of participating, you can totally do it your own way.

I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, back when I was unaware that there was an “industry” based on it. I naturally kept it simple by pasting pictures, stories and scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, and such) onto paper.

I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then, I learned about and became enthralled by the Scrapbooking Industry. I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, then I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in virtual love with the work, mission and passion of creative people like Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards, Becky Higgins and Cathy Zielske's whose motto is literally "taking the crap out of scrapbooking." 

For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for sharing them, the joy in creating and the purpose in preserving the moments that make up our lifetime.

These women were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if you have a desire to record your life in pictures and stories, grab some paste and get started.

And, remember, as it was in grade school so it is in all things: Keep your eyes on your own paper!

Coming up: The Hardy Boys go to church | The scraps of life – Project Life memorabilia | Raising the Hardy Boys, with fart guns | The time times I lost my journal at the airport, and at the gym, and at my boyfriend’s house.


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Summer fun and other news


*Image credit: Carta Bella Paper

Summer starts today ... it's hard to tell with the freakishly fall-like weather we're having here in this corner of Oregon, no complaints just an observation.

It's hard for me to believe it's been a year since I returned to work full time as a reporter after five years home of being home with the boys.

I will always wish I'd had a little longer home with Jake but when that wave of guilt looms over me I dodge its crash by remembering how nice it is to pay the mortgage, among a host of other positives of being back in the newsroom.

So far, I've been able to do the things that matter most to me as far as what being a mom means to me (the snuggles, the surprises and the simplest of delights) but as summer was approaching I felt an ache as I realized it seemed everyone else people on Facebook were making plans for summer vacation, but for us it's just ... business as usual.

keep calm summer

* Credit: pinned from BellePins

After momentarily going down the mental path of feeling sorry for myself and longing for a life that no longer exists, I realized working doesn't have to mean we can't have plenty of summer fun around here.

I just need to be intentional about it, and as crazy as it might sound, the best way for me to ensure we have plenty of old-fashioned spontanous summer fun is to plan for it.

So, I am ... with our own summer manifesto project ala one of my favorite inspirations Ali Edwards.

Which is fun ... and funny since I'm like eight weeks into Project Life and this is like the 25th week of the year? You'll be relieved to know getting current on Project Life is on the list in addition to other realistic things like "climb a mountain" by Jake and "do the Lego challenge" by Sam.

We're still tweaking our list but I'll share it soon and hope to hear a few of your summer bucket list ideas, too!

In the meantime, I'm happy that

{You can get this free download from Cathy Zielske's website, because she's just awesome like that}.


Oh, and in other awesomeness ...  I'm stoked to share that I am actually teaching a class in the same place as the aforementioned creative superstars ... you guys know my journaling class is live now on Big Picture Classes, right?

I figured as much since there are likely very few people who didn't hear my whoop of delight when I watched one of my life-long dreams manifest before my very eyes.

In case you happened to miss it, here's the scoop: for ten bucks you can sign up to take my journaling class "The Art of Self Preservation." And, if you want to be supportive but aren't sure you want to take the class yet, click here and listen to the audio introduction. 

I'd love to hear what you think!





Geeking out

Big Picture Classes

“Really? You’re taking a class on how to organize your pictures?” Asked the imaginary voices in my head when I consider what The Random Others might think.

Mmmhmmm. And I am loving every minute of it. Of course, it’s not even about how to organize pictures, instead it’s about the stories behind them, stories I want to share with  my family and friends.

If I get swallowed by a sinkhole today, I would have piles of pictures and boxes of memorabilia that mean everything to me, but nothing but a mess to clean up behind me for everyone else.

Unless I act on my best intentions and find away to live with my pictures and scraps of life in a way that is enjoyable instead of embarrassing … or guilt-inducing as in “I should really get those in an album.”

“ I should really put people we know in that frame!”

“What pile is that picture I need right now in?”

Enter Stacy Julian and her method of Finding Photo Freedom … it was love at first sight for me. She had me at “library of memories.”

Libraries and memories being two of my favorite things, and all.

Total detour: For a few months I’ve been conflicted about this blog, it’s direction, what I should – and shouldn’t - write about.

Partly because of my new job, and partly because I have such a varied readership – some of you want more about crafty,creative stuff, some ask for more of the writing in real life stuff while others consider it emotional TMI, then others want more journaling, some about writing, some about parenting, but most not all of the above.

Mostly, I am thankful that anyone wants to read this stuff, much less comment on what they like to see, but in an effort to create balance, I went underground completely.

Turns out that isn’t what anybody wanted, including of course, me!

(What’s that expression about not being able to please everyone? I’m still in people-pleaser recovery over here.)

In the spirit of posting something that matters to me instead of the little I’ve been doing recently, here’s the scoop on my current happy crack project:

I am taking Stacy’s class through Big Picture Classes (yes, the same place I’m so excited to be teaching my Art of Self-Preservation journaling class).


I started a DIY version of her system years ago after reading her book The Big Picture. *

But it was more like a “start it yourself, then stop” version, really.

This time, things are falling into place and I want to convert everyone into trying something like this because it is really that awesome.

So, here’s the books for each of the following categories:

Things we do |People we love

 Places we go | All about us

The orange binders are Project Life books from 2012 … not finished, FYI.


Here’s the start of my category lists just brainstorming the different things we do/people we love, etc. Just the start of the list, if you  know I love you and you’re not on that list, I might already have your tab made!


The tools I tweaked to help me keep the rating and sorting of photos going so I can do it in five minute chunks. (It’s working!)


Photo triage in action … so fun to go through these and find unexpected connections.


These will eventually become four category drawers that I’m working on this week.


The first connection I made for a class assignment, me jumping in the pool circa 1980, my son jumping in the pool in 2011 … We have so many water-related pictures I’m thinking of making “Splash” one of my category tabs in the Things we do drawer.


More later on this and many other things connected and otherwise; I just wanted to share these little bits for now.

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* As an Amazon Affiliate, earning my pennies where I can, I included the link to Amazon if anyone is interested in buying the book, or anything else on Amazon, I get a few cents for transactions, so I appreciate you getting to Amazon through my site!

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{Project Life: week 17}

The Mom Creative


And then nine weeks happened. I think I should rename this Project Life Goes On because I have managed to keep taking pictures and notes on the ordinary and extraordinary highs, lows and mediocre meanderings of our days.

And because, no matter what, life does go on and there is always something to be thankful for. Project Life (goes on) is one of the things I am so very grateful for, so here is week 17 and I will post weeks 9-16 later.

Title card: I was inspired by Maria to dress this card up – it’s one of my least favorites in the kit but when I saw her cute, simple addition I changed my mind and used it for the first time this year. I don’t love how the “week #17” turned out … but whatever.

(You can click on each picture to enlarge it and take a closer peek).


{Week 17: left side}


{Week 17: right side}


{Week 18 in progress}


Notes: I use a lot of index cards around here ala Anne Lamott. I’ve started recycling the backs of them in place of Post-its and write my ideas for journaling or pics I took, or want to take … my current Project Life hack is to tuck the days of the week stickers in the next week’s pocket so it’s right there as I’m popping pictures in the pockets. Not having those stickers immediately accessible was a small thing creating a big block in progress. Your block is probably different than mine but can likely be fixed with a tweak in your thinking, process or expectations.

This week I was inspired by Maria at Crazy Lovely Madhouse and by Christine Newman at My Scrapbook Art – Home is where the art is

I love what Maria said about the Project Life honeymoon seemingly being over. It’s not that I lost my enthusiasm personally but I hit a rhythm and stopped seeking out the inspiration and ideas of others in the PL community. Their posts inspired me to share again and that makes me happy!

To see all my other Project Life posts click here and here.

Eyes on your own paper, y’all

Share Project Life banner


My passion for Project Life is no secret. So I’m kind of bummed to hear about people being intimidated to start something so awesome and designed to be simple because of how other people choose to approach the project.

I’ve noticed my tendency to do this when I’m clicking around blogs. First, I’m like: “Oh! That is so cool. I love how it looks.” Then: “Wow. Everyone’s blogs are so sophisticated looking and I can’t figure out how to change my banner!”  "These picture are amazing!” And finally: “I’m such a hack. I suck.”

Except that I totally don’t suck. Not at everything anyway. I’m a writer not a designer. I like to learn more about designing and keep up with the technology that allows me to share my writing and participate in this Project Life community in a visually appealing way. But it’s not my priority. So I’ll get there when I get there. Or I won’t. No worries either way. I don’t come by this attitude naturally. At a young age I learned to compare myself to others and catalogue where I didn’t measure up and  then use that as as evidence of my unworthiness.

That type of chronic thinking landed me on a therapist’s couch. Luckily. Luckily I realized there has got to be a better way to live this one, short, precious life than by going around counting the ways I suck.

I share this not because it’s comfortable but because I know I am so not alone on that journey. So many are told we need to “get more confidence.” But they don’t sell that at Walgreens. You get  confidence by earning it –  from, get a load of this, your own self!!! Because until you have your own approval, no one else’s will be enough. I promise this is true. Deep down, you know it’s true too.

{Yes this all ties in with the self-help series I’m working on, more on that soon!}

One step toward increasing your own self-worth is to DO the things you love. Even if, especially if, you don’t think you’ll do it as well as anyone else. Think of it as your opportunity to impress your own self. And as practice for giving the finger to the part of you that says you can’t.

Project Life may not be for you. Plenty of people just aren’t into documenting life. BUT if this project calls to you, you know in that inner desire that bubbles with excitement at the possibility of participating … you can totally do it your own way.

I think I’m sensitive to this because it’s kind of what happened to my love of scrapbooking. I loved scrapbooking when I did it my own way, ignorant that there was an “industry” and keeping it simple, pictures, stories, scraps of life (ticket stubs, cards, etc.) I didn’t know, or care, if I had a style. Or how my style, or lack of it, measured up to others. Because I didn’t care. I was having fun with it.

And then … I got excited about the Scrapbooking Industry. There were stores, magazines, websites … I loved all of it. Until I realized that instead of scrapbooking anymore, I had become a hoarder of supplies and my pictures stayed in boxes and on multiple unorganized files on my computer labeled “new folder.” Why? I think I felt like I wasn’t “doing it right.”

I didn’t know it at the time as it was a gradual shift from actively engaging in my passion to sitting on the sidelines, watching longingly as others played Varsity.

The pages and projects I was looking to for inspiration seemed so complicated. So embellished. So not me. If that was scrapbooking, I wasn’t a real scrapbooker.

Then I discovered and fell in online love with the work, mission and passion of Stacy Julian, Ali Edwards and Becky Higgins. For me, they lead me back home to what matters to me: the stories, the passion for  sharing them, the joy in creating. They were like the coaches who insist everyone takes a turn at bat because everyone has something to offer, their own way in their own time.

So if these inspiring women are the industry coaches, let’s pretend I’m the teacher and I have this one thing to say:

Eyes on your own paper, y’all!



{December Daily} revisited; deadlines avoided

I’m on deadline. So, naturally I’ve written the thank you notes from Sam’s birthday – in October. And one to the staff at the hotel we stayed at over Thanksgiving – Holiday Inn Express in Troutdale. And the Mayor and Council of my town … I’ve scrubbed random spots on doors and walls I’ve managed to ignore for 18 months and after this post I suppose I’ll have to actually get back to it.

Or … I could spend 40 minutes messing with my  December Daily video because I’ve been meaning to do that since April when many of you couldn’t see what I’d posted. Turns out I used a copyrighted song in the background and that killed this video star.

Inspired by the awesome Ali Edwards, December Daily is a project I will hold dear because participating in it brought me light and kept my focus on the positive during a particularly dark period of my life. Anyway, here’s take 1,000 for those of you who asked:

December Daily 2010

This album turned out exactly the way I wanted. How often does that happen? My favorite part though is that it’s the first time I’ve finished something I’ve started just for myself. If there’s a deadline or it’s for someone else I’m all over it but things that are just for me get put on perma-hold. Or, rather, they used to.

I thought that was my favorite part until Sam saw me get the album out with our other decorations and has asked to sit down and read it together several times a day. I love, love, love that!

For more about my whole December Daily process, click here for archives or on the “December Daily” in the category cloud to your right.

I would love to hear from any of you planning to join in this year. I’ll share more about my current plans for THIS year’s book … but first I have to write the final drafts for my column and book review. Really. I’m on it.

{Project 365: week 12}


week 12

Week 12, side 2

The scrapbooking community in general and with this project specifically there’s no such thing as “copying” or “stealing” ideas. The term is “scraplifting” and anyone’s allowed to do it … in fact, it’s encouraged. The only thing is that isn’t cool is not giving credit where it’s due – the sharing of ideas is widespread and some of the most simple things are inspiring. I saw a Netflix envelope in Amy’s book and commented on it, she said she saw it on Ali Edwards’ site … and now, it’s in mine. A little scrap of life. That envelope was for a Mater movie which Sam deemed “too scary” in the first few minutes. Now we have Weeds, Season 6, disk 2. FYI Smile

Some of your questions have been about process and what’s making this year work compared to the year of Project 180 sticky notes. I’ll get to those soon … for now I’ll say what’s working for me is a combination of routine and flexibility. I suppose that sounds contradictory but for me it’s been just right. That, by the way, has also become the key to my parenting and homemaking. Speaking of which … duty calls.

{Project Life–week 9}


Week 9

Week 9, insert

Week 9, side 2

I’m on deadline for three things due on the same day so expect to see a few posts as I procrastinate.

Week 9 … my 35th birthday and a snow day … working on combining my everyday pictures and basic notes on life as we live it makes we want to actually start scrapbooking again, I think I’ve mentioned that. I get ideas like the huge, pink blanket Matt’s grandma made – Sam calls it the “sprinkle” blanket – was in another picture with Matt when he took a road trip around the country in what I thought was the world’s ugliest van … until I saw the one in our driveway … anyway, I thought that would be a cool page to show the evolution along Matt’s journey … maybe even find a picture of his Grandma Bernie to include. Those are the stories, huh?

And, of course, I adore this little snowman. It came home on a huge piece of paper so I cut it to size and since I love seeing Sam’s name written on his art I cut that out and stapled it to the top.

I totally get that 90% of you sweet readers do not care in the least about technique and details behind the scrapbooking part of me … but for the 10% who do … and for my own process, here they are anyway! For the rest of you, I’m nearly “caught up” and you’ll get a break from this Project Life stuff soon.

Friday favorites and freebies



First – my February column, one of two where I throw myself under the proverbial bus for what I consider a good cause, ran this week:

Baby on Board – Kitchen interest comes full circle

We took our first family walk last night! To the park – which means a couple of things – Spring’s a coming and Jake is officially vertical. I wish I’d gotten a close-up picture of Jake’s first little shoes and Sam so sweetly holding his hand. (Sam, I noticed, even kept his hand down low so Jake didn’t have to reach too high).

I love this picture because Matt took it, which means he came to the park with us after work. He drove up our street and saw the THREE of us walking ever-so-slowly and joined us making it our first family walk. Matt was starving so he bailed early, just as the boys’ new friends Paul and Kaylee joined us.

And here, a few Friday favorites:


-Twig and Thistle posted the cutest DIY Valentine’s idea – stickers for fruit – so, so cute.

- Simple decorations. I’ve been using this little frame for seasonal quotes, pictures, etc and this month I’ve downloaded a freebie from Becky Higgins – you can get it here – either print it on your computer or you can have it printed for your own Valentine’s. Ali Edwards has also posted some cool freebies.

My favorite thing this week is that I’m back to being fully-engaged in writing my book, Breaking Branches and I’m enjoying re-reading it enough to think it might just be The One. The first one that makes it … I hope.

Favorite quote from Sam:

I tried an overnight Crockpot oatmeal recipe. By the time we stumbled into the kitchen it looked very unappetizing but made for a nice (pricey) potpourri. As we were coming down the stairs Sam said:

“Do I smell muffins? I smell something. What could that yummy thing be?”

I scooped some out, pretty sure he’d reject it on looks if nothing else, but instead he gobbled it up and said:

“You sure are a fast cooker, Mama!”