Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Best Friend Friday No. 38: The Story of the Garlic Scapes

Almost every Wednesday Lauren and I receive a CSA box full of fresh, local fruits and veggies. We've been Philly Foodworks customers for several months now, and love the produce we've gotten. Although we end up paying slightly more than we would at our local grocery store, the freshness of the fruits and veggies is worth every penny we've spent. Most of the produce is also organic which is an added bonus! Typically, the Sunday leading up to our delivery we sign into our online account and select exactly what we want. This method of ordering has really worked for us as it's allowed us to successfully meal plan for the ensuing week.

However, one week ago we made a mistake thinking that if we didn't select anything from the online market we were thus opting not to receive a CSA shipment the coming week. Little did we know that by not selecting anything we were actually requesting the "mixed farmer's choice" box. Although it is fun and very important to try new foods, sometimes you just have no idea what to do with a particular item. In this case, that item was garlic scapes. I'll be honest, before this mishap I had never even heard of them, and when they arrived, I would've used them similarly to green onions. Luckily, they were a little more familiar to Lauren, though she had never tasted nor cooked with them before. She did know that a lot of people use them to make garlic scape pesto. Both of us enjoy the traditional basil pesto, but don't eat it often as it's usually not vegan. So, we decided to try our hands at garlic scape pesto. I followed this recipe, but made a larger batch and added extra nutritional yeast.

After tasting the pesto, I couldn't get rid of the garlic flavor. I'm a huge garlic fan, and would pick garlic fries over regular fries any day.  But even for me the garlic was so overpowering and the ensuing spiciness, overwhelming. I knew right away that Lauren wasn't going to be a fan of this spread, and that there was no way to doctor it up to her liking. As we were serving ourselves dinner that Thursday night, I warned her try the pesto before dousing her pasta in it. I was right. She ended up eating pasta with marinara sauce instead. On the other hand, once I got past my initial shock, I actually didn't mind the flavor.

Like every week, we were planning to have homemade pizza Friday night. Originally we were both going to add the leftover pesto to our pizzas, but after the previous night's pasta situation, I knew that wouldn't be happening. Lauren made her traditional Friday night pizza with marinara, cashew cheese sauce, olives, zucchini, onion, and potatoes. I added the tiniest bit of pesto to mine, and I surprisingly really loved it. This ended up being one of my favorite pizzas in a long time.

We happily ate our respective pizzas while watching the U.S. Women's soccer game versus China. Because we don't have cable, we had to live stream the game from Lauren's computer. Although a hassle, Lauren has the live stream set up down to a science, knowing exactly which books are needed to prop the computer up so that the screen is the perfect eye level height.

While I don't see us buying anymore garlic scapes in the future, I'm determined to polish off this pesto. I really don't mind that Lauren won't eat it (we all have certain foods that we won't put near our mouths). But, I've made it my unofficial duty to eat all of the garlic scape pesto. It's definitely not as good as traditional basil pesto, but it's not inedible either. A girl can only eat so much pesto though! Besides pasta and pizza, I've used the pesto as a dipping sauce for veggies and it will most likely become a sandwich spread in the very near future. I'm running out of ways to incorporate pesto into my meals though, but I won't fall victim to the garlic scapes!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Melodia Shawl KAL

At the end of May, my local yarn shop, Loop hosted a knit along (KAL) for the Melodia shawl. I had never participated in a KAL before, but I've been wanting to for a while. I didn't think I was good enough to knit amongst more experienced knitters. This time though, Lauren also wanted to join the KAL and encouraged me to do so as well. Wanting to make a tiny dent in my yarn stash, I decided to take the big leap and knit in front of other people. Walking to Loop that first Sunday I was so nervous that I was going to embarrass myself, needing help with every single step.

To ease my doubts, Lauren walked me through the pattern the night before the first meet up. We wound our yarn and made gauge swatches together. She helped me figure out which size needle I should use, and made sure I knew how to do all of the required stitches. Lauren taught me how to do 'kfb' and now I'm a pro at it ;) Most importantly though, she made sure I would be able to do the garter tab cast on all by myself at the meet up. I've always had a tough time determining where to insert my needle to pick up a stitch. It took a few tries and a lot of questions from me, but after studying this tutorial, I got the hang of it and felt confident that I'd be able to replicate this technique the following afternoon.
Lauren and I showed up at Loop with our Melodia supplies in tow the next day. I was a little shy at first, but quickly felt welcomed and comfortable. Although many of the people there already knew each other, they were very friendly and made us feel included.

Spending time learning the garter tab cast on really paid off. I cast on my shawl on my first attempt! This was a huge confidence booster, allowing me to relax and let go of my anxiety of being the "worst knitter" at the meet up. My actual experience was the complete opposite of what I was afraid might happen. Instead, a few ladies actually asked for my advice regarding color choices! People asked me questions about the pattern and I was able to give them full answers. Obviously, we had to come back the following Sunday.

There were a total of four Sunday meet ups for the Melodia KAL (they were closed Memorial Day weekend), and Lauren and I attended all of them. Even though there were about a dozen knitters at the initial meet up, only a few continued to keep coming back. I love knitting within a large group of people, but knitting in a smaller group definitely has its perks as well. By the end of the KAL I felt I had gotten to know three new people well enough that we would call each other by our first names. I have a good sense about their knitting preferences and feel comfortable carrying on conversations with them.

I made my first shawl, but even more important, I realized that I love this hobby. I look forward to bringing my supplies to my local yarn store every Sunday and interacting with others who also feel the same way about this craft. You can bet I want to participate in all of Loop's knit alongs now!
Start Date: May 17, 2015
Finish Date: June 14, 2015 

Yarn: Rain City Fiber Arts Olympic Sock (465 yard); acquired in a swap
Colorway: The label wasn't marked with a colorway, but it's a purple and blue variegated skein
Needles: Size 8 Kollage Square Circulars (firm cable)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Tribal Print Pretty Blouse

In the Summer of 2010 my grandpa gave me a sewing machine and at first I didn't really use it. My mom had an old one that she seldom used, and since I had learned how to sew on her machine, I was more comfortable operating that particular one. I hadn't really seen the value of owning my own machine and learning how to use a different one.

Around this time I would watch Lauren read blogs, but I had absolutely no idea what a blog was. I too eventually started reading blogs, mainly sewing-related ones. I thought that it was amazing that people sewed most of their and their kids' clothing for fun. My mom would sew our Halloween costumes, but our everyday clothes were ready-to-wear. I was impressed and wanted to sew more. I talked to Lauren about this idea and she too took more of an interest in sewing. Her sewing machine was inoperable, so that meant that we would need to use mine. Not an issue, I just didn't know how to use it. Of course Lauren figured it out pretty quickly and then taught me how to use my own machine.
I've always associated the packaged patterns at JoAnn as Halloween/elementary school  biography costumes. I recall my mom loading up all four of us kids in the car and heading to JoAnn when she needed to make one of us a costume. We would start by flipping through book after book, brand after brand, looking at various patterns and trying to visualize how a simple dress could be made into an elegant queen's royal dress. After what felt like hours sitting at that table we finally got to look at the fabric. By this time though we were all tired and hungry and just wanted to go home. So, my mom would go through the aisles of fabric by herself. Once she finally got her fabric choices cut and paid for everything we were able to go home. I remember watching her cut out the numerous pattern pieces, pinning them to the fabric, and then cutting out the various fabric shapes. She would then bring out her sewing machine and for a week or so, until the dress was complete, the kitchen table turned into her sewing room.

There had to be an easier way to go about this garment sewing business though. I didn't want to spend tireless hours searching for a pattern and corresponding fabric.
Lauren showed me that a few bloggers create clothing patterns that they either offer for free or for purchase. At this time I was against paying for patterns so I went for the free options. Don't worry, I no longer have any qualms about paying for patterns and happily do every time I see something I want to sew. Somehow I found the "Pretty Blouse" on Sew Mama Sew and immediately knew that's where I wanted to begin. Thanks to my stubbornness, I had to start the project right then. I didn't want to spend time shopping for fabric; I just wanted to start. Luckily Lauren had a bin full of fabric and she let me use whatever I wanted. I didn't know the difference between fibers and picked fabric based on the print alone. Lauren warned me of the consequences, but I didn't want to pre-wash or iron my fabric; I was ready to start cutting. She told me I should at least wait until we went to her house so I could use the cutting mat and rotary cutter. But since my mom never used those items, I didn't think I needed to either. I just started. I sewed together the yoke and  shoulder seams, but I became frustrated and stopped after that. For several years this project sat in my "unfinished bag".
Like the paint chips, this unfinished blouse moved across the country with me. Once I was all settled in, I realized that if this project was worthy enough of being shipped across the United States, it had better get finished. I pulled out the unfinished top and the other untouched pieces and just stared at it. What was I thinking? It was so obvious this quilting cotton hadn't been washed and will most likely shrink. I couldn't even sew a straight line then; the seams were so uneven. The fabric was fraying because I didn't use sharp scissors. This Pretty Blouse wasn't going to turn out so pretty.

Thankfully I got frustrated and stopped sewing when I did. I decided that I needed to unpick everything I had managed to get my hands on, and just start over. Not only did my sewing skills improve in the past five years, but my measurements changed as well. I laid out all of the already cut pieces and cut them down to one size smaller. Even though I knew the fabric would end up shrinking once the finished garment was washed, there was a big difference in the bust measurement between the small and medium sizes. Because this top is only fitted at the bust and I had plenty of wiggle room even with the smaller size, I went ahead and chopped the pieces down. The edges were no longer frayed and I already felt so much better.

I used French seams throughout and like always, I think this made the finished piece look a thousand times better. The only real issue I had whilst sewing were the silly sleeves. Since I was using French seams, I knew I needed to first sew the sleeves to the bodice, wrong sides together. I knew that and I still messed up three times. That was not fun to seam rip, but it had to be done.
Once I set the sleeves correctly, the rest of the top was a breeze to finish. I ended up taking about five inches off of the length. I have a short torso for my height, and I think this top looks a lot better on me when it's shorter. All I had left to do were the neck binding and the hem, which I could've easily finished in less than a day. However, I procrastinated once again and let my unfinished garment stay incomplete for way too long. After being hung up all alone in the corner of my room for well over a month, I finally sat back down at my sewing machine to finish the blouse. My favorite little detail to add in handmade garments now is a cute little tag made from a piece of twill tape stamped with the correct size. I think the tag makes the piece feel more fun, but even more importantly I really appreciate the functionality of it. Now I no longer have to worry about recording which size I made for each handmade garment.
I'm glad I finally finished this Pretty Blouse; it only took me less than five years! It's not my favorite thing I've ever sewn; I'm not a big fan of the puffy sleeves. But, I am grateful to have finished it and been able to transform the original mess that is was (circa 2010) into something actually wearable. It's also interesting to see how my style has changed in the past half-decade; the flowy, peasant blouse tops that I always felt I needed to wear back then are a complete 180 to the solid, simple knit tees I gravitate toward now.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Best Friend Friday No. 37: Long Run

Even though Lauren and I complete a long run together every Saturday, this past weekend's run was a pretty big milestone for us. We're training for the San Francisco Marathon, and we needed to run 20 miles on Saturday. We've been slowly building up to the distance, so adding just a single mile onto our previous Saturday's run shouldn't have seemed like such a big deal. But, this run proved to both of us that we really can do this; we're completely capable of this daunting time goal of ours.

By now it's probably no surprise that I live off of pancakes for breakfast every day. Fueling for a long early morning run is no different. We've been trying to wake up a lot earlier on Saturday mornings to get all of our miles in before it gets way too hot, which means that we have to wake up even earlier just to eat breakfast. So yes, I woke up at 5 AM to make and eat pancakes, and I don't regret it one bit.

Our past several long runs have been a tad on the slower side for us; we were both overcoming separate injuries. I had hoped that this 20 mile run might be a little faster than our previous runs, but I honestly wasn't counting on it. I kept reminding myself that this was only a training run and pace doesn't matter, only the distance does.

While I do wear a "fancy" running watch that has the capability to show my current pace and overall pace, I seldom use these features. I'm definitely curious, but I know that if I'm constantly worrying about how fast I'm running, all of the pleasure would be sucked out of running. All that's to say, is that I hadn't the faintest idea what our speed was while we were running, and Lauren's watch lost GPS signal so she wasn't able to check either. Lauren asked me to check our overall pace after mile 11 (our turnaround point), and I was surprised that we were able to keep that pace despite the elevation gains through the Wissahickon trails. At that point, our overall pace was 10:16 minutes per mile, and I doubted that we'd be able to keep that up as I feared we started out running way too fast.

Typically Lauren and I both struggle a little bit the last 3-5 miles of our long runs. We're tired, hot and sweaty, and just want to be done. We normally have to constantly encourage each other to keep moving. This time though, I didn't have the urge to quit and lay down on the side of the road. Don't worry, I've never actually done that. I found eating a packet of Gu Chomps (1 per mile) throughout the last five miles of a long run to be the perfect cure. It gives me something to look forward to, helps pass the time, and most importantly gives me a boost of energy to make it to the end. I'm so glad I found what works for me and will definitely use this strategy on race day.

Even though this was an ordinary weekend for Lauren and me, I never regret running with my best friend. Sometimes we're on the struggle bus and have mini meltdowns. Even then, spending hours stuck together isn't that horrible. We always find a way to work through our issues and motivate one another to finish strong. To me, that's what having a best friend is all about! Thanks for running a fast 20 miles with me (we finished with a 10:08 overall pace!), Lauren! Thank goodness this weekend is a step back run!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

WIP Wednesday

This past week has been full of new projects! I finally finished my Spud & Chloe tubular cowl, and I actually really like how it turned out. Also, Loop's Melodia KAL ended, so it was time to cast on new knitting projects. I'm linking up with Ginny's YAL once again to share what I've been knitting this week.
I'm so glad Loop is having another KAL immediately following their previous one. I love walking to their shop every Sunday afternoon and spending a few hours knitting with other avid yarn folks. This weekend we cast on Laylow, and I'm surprisingly enjoying the look of the dropped stitches. I think they really stand out in a good way amongst the simple pattern. I'm making this shawl for myself, but I'll probably make at least one additional Laylow for a future gift.
Because I try to save my KAL project solely for our weekly meet up, I needed to cast on another project so that I'd have something to knit the rest of the week. After months of saying, "I'm going to make this next" and failing to do so, I finally cast on Color Affection. I love Lauren's finished shawl, so I'm using the same edging alterations she incorporated. I cast on yesterday and didn't want to stop. When I bought my yarn for this project over a  year ago, I was indifferent to the colors. They went well together, but I didn't adore them. Now though, I'm loving the "Stay Outta the Hay" colorway and wishing I bought more. I used to ignore all of the shawl patterns as I thought they were too "old-fashioned" for me. Realizing that shawls can also be worn like a scarf made me change my mind though. I joked that I'm going from zero to three shawls in less than two months!
I also continued working on my garter stitch blanket. I decided to add a second dark purple stripe, and am about halfway through this extra-large skein. I've only knit about a fifth of the desired finish size. Luckily, I haven't tired of this project yet since I have still a long ways to go.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

WIP Wednesday

This past week I experienced a knitting problem that I had hoped I would never have to encounter. I broke a pair of irreplaceable interchangeable, wooden needles that I borrowed from Lauren. I'm still so devastated and feel horrible about it. I wasn't doing anything different with the needles, but was simply knitting my blanket when all of a sudden, one of the needles snapped. The break was pretty clean and I may be able to glue the pieces together, but they will never be the same. The worst part is that they completely stopped the production of these particular needles, so I can't even replace them. Lauren decided to try Northern Light aluminum needles  also made by DyakCraft (since she likes the quality of their products) as replacements. This also allows me to continue to use the super long, custom size cable. I've been using them for a few days now, and although they're not as slick or as pretty looking as their wooden counterparts, I think metal needles are the only thing this heavy, bulky blanket can handle at this point. Plus, now I'm so afraid of breaking more needles that I currently refuse to use any wooden ones.
The new aluminum needles shipped pretty quickly, and I managed to finish the dark green stripe on my blanket last night. I have the next color already picked out and ready to be added, which I'm most likely going to later today.
This past Sunday was the final day of the Melodia KAL and I finished just in time. I timed my knitting perfectly, so that I had one more row and the bind off to finish that afternoon at Loop. I even won a free pattern from Janina; I picked Passeggiata!
Loop's next KAL starts this Sunday, so I spent some time this past week going through my stash and finding yarn for this next project. I'm going to use leftover Dream in Color Jilly in Bitter (from Lauren's Three Color Cowl), and I purchased Madelinetosh's Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace from Loop (I love this color!). Both skeins are all wound up and ready to go now!
I also wound yarn for another new project that has been on my to-do list for what seems like forever now. I've been admiring Lauren's Color Affection shawl for a while because the fabric and size are so perfect. I'll be using Plucky Knitter in Modern Vintage, Stay Outta the Hay, and Petal Pusher. All three skeins are from the "one hit wonders" bin at Plucky Knitters' Stitches West booth, so I'm not exactly sure which base(s) they are.

I've made a little bit of progress with my sweater plan. I'm still at the very beginning stages of selecting a pattern. I narrowed it down to four options, but am still considering every little detail of each one. I want the first sweater I knit to be one that gets a lot of use and love. 

I wish I was able to share my current reading material to fully participate in Ginny's YAL this week, but oddly enough, I won't be going to the library until this afternoon where I'll be picking up three books to carry me through the next few weeks. I did however recently finish reading "Not That Kind of Girl", which was a very interesting and mind opening memoir. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Best Friend Friday No. 36: Whole Foods

Last month, Lauren and I each won Whole Foods gift cards in a Mother's Day Instagram contest. We were ecstatic to say the least. We don't go out to eat often and whenever we make the long walk to Whole Foods, we always find ourselves eying their prepared foods. So, we decided to treat ourselves to an elaborate vegan feast! We also thought that this would be a good way to celebrate Lauren finishing her first year of graduate school.

I walked into Whole Foods not caring how much food I picked out. I wanted to try literally everything that looked good to me. The past few times we found ourselves at Whole Foods, we were surprised at how many vegan cheeses there were. Before becoming vegan, I was a huge dairy cheese fiend. So, these vegan fancy cheeses have been tempting me for a while. We decided to start our huge meal off with shredded wheat crackers and Treeline's herb-garlic flavored tree nut cheese. The cashew-based cheese ended up being more of a spread and tangier than I expected. However, it's a great vegan cheese alternative and I would definitely eat it again.

It's no surprise that we then quickly walked over to the dessert area. Lauren chose a chocolate chip cookie bar, and I picked a chocolate frosted brownie.
We then made our way through the cold and hot prepared food counters where everything looked appetizing. I love how they label exactly what is vegan, and include a complete list of ingredients for each item. I used a separate box for my hot and cold selections, but didn't have any issue filling both boxes up!
There just happened to be more desserts on our way to the register, so of course we had to pick a few treats from the cookie bar as well. We both chose miniature gingerbread cookie sandwiches; Lauren also got maple pecan cookies (that we sampled at Veg Fest last week), and I picked out a raspberry thumbprint cookie.

This particular Whole Foods recently updated their dining area which made enjoying our feast even better! As usual, our eyes were way bigger than our stomachs and we had plenty of leftovers to take home (I actually ate my hot food items for lunch today!). The cold noodle salad with tofu, and the seitan over rice were my absolute favorites! Lauren and I decided to split our desserts so that we could try even more things. My favorite dessert by far was the chocolate chip cookie bar. It tasted like a normal baked cookie on the outside and cookie dough on the inside.

A day of best friend activities is never complete without food, in my opinion. Thankfully, Lauren agrees! I'm already dreaming of another Whole Foods raid!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

California: My Perspective

One of my goals this month is to finally finish my art wall. Basically, this means that I need to fill up five more frames with either art I make or purchase. I had fun using paint chips to make something to hang up on my wall, so I thought I'd give handmade art another go.

I've been wanting to incorporate my home state, California into the mix. I liked the idea of incorporating the actual shape of the state and highlighting several cities that hold dozens of memories.
I included a little picture symbolizing what each particular location means to me as a way to personalize my piece of art. Most people probably don't think of dalmatians when they hear of Fresno or Visalia, but that's the first thing I think of when those cities are mentioned.
I outlined everything in pencil while simultaneously looking at real and clip art images online. It took many tries and lots of erasing to arrive at what I believe are adequate representations of California's shape and my respective chosen symbols. I then wrote out all of the cities I wanted to include, pinpointing them as geographically accurate as possible.
I decided to keep the piece simple, just black and white, using black Sharpies on white card stock. I used a fine tip Sharpie to write "California" at the top, and an extra fine tipped Sharpie for the remainder of my art. Although I tend to like pops of color, I think this simple black and white piece will go well with the rest of my already colorful framed art.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Best Friend Friday No. 35: Philly Veg Fest

For months I had been reading many Facebook updates, eagerly anticipating Philly Veg Fest, and this past Saturday was finally the day of the event. An entire block full of vegan food, what could be better than that? Lauren had a lot of school work to complete on Friday, so we decided Saturday's Veg Fest would be the perfect Best Friend "Friday" activity.

I purposefully came with a hungry, empty stomach. I didn't care how much I ate that day; I wanted to try everything! When we arrived, Lauren and I decided to walk around and scope out all of the booths before selecting what we wanted to eat first. We missed the first two hours of the event, so I know several of the booths ran out of food by the time we got there, so obviously those were out of the question. But, one of the first things we did stumble upon was Whole Foods' booth. They were handing out free samples of miniature pea protein pecan cookies. They were delicious, and if they were any indication of what else was in store, I knew we were in for plenty of amazing vegan treats. We walked by several different booths selling Indian food that looked really good, but I wanted to see all of my options first. We came across Blackbird Pizzeria and Dottie's Donuts, both excellent options. But because we've tried both of them numerous times before, we wanted to use this Veg Fest as an opportunity to see what other vegan foods Philadelphia had to offer. Ultimately, we jumped at the chance to try Kung Fu Hoagies.
The Kung Fu Hoagies line was easily the longest line at the Veg Fest, but we figured it would move pretty quickly. That assumption was wrong. We stood in line for over an hour. Both Lauren and I were already really hungry, so Lauren came up with the brilliant plan to snack on donuts while we were waiting in line. I held our place in line, while Lauren wandered off to the Dottie's Donuts booth. Our toasted coconut cream and lemon poppy seed donuts were the perfect treats to stave off our hunger and kept us both patient throughout the remainder of the line. Even though we spent the majority of our Veg Fest time waiting in a single line, Kung Fu Hoagies did not disappoint and was worth every minute of the long wait. The people were very friendly (and apologetic for the wait), and were cranking out orders as fast as they could. I hadn't even tried the food yet, and they already made me want to come back! 
Wanting to try as much as possible, we ordered two different long rolls and shared. We split the BBQ "beef" and "pork" Banh Mi's and really enjoyed both. I liked the flavors in the "beef" sandwich the best, but the "pork" had a better texture. Without hesitating, Lauren deemed the "pork" Banh Mi her favorite. We were happy to learn that they serve their Banh Mi's (and ramen!) from their food cart on Saturdays at Clark Park regularly. Clark Park is a short walk from our apartment, so you can bet there will a lot more Banh Mi's in our near futures!

Lauren and I had just completed an 18 mile long run that morning, so this was the perfect post-run activity. Quality best friend time and a plethora of vegan food! Seriously, nothing beats that!

Friday, June 5, 2015

2014 Scrapbook

A few months ago I was really in the mood to scrapbook. I wanted to use up a lot of paper supplies I have, but mostly I just love looking at old photos. So, on a whim I decided to make a mini paper scrapbook to document the past year. My life has changed tremendously since then and it was nice to relive those moments.
My main purpose for my album was to incorporate as many pictures with people in them. To me, it's the people that you spend time with that create those precious memories, not necessarily the professionalism of the photographs. I thought I would run into trouble trying to write captions for a lot of events, but the opposite was true. Looking at the photos brings back so many funny stories and inside jokes that I hope to remember when I'm much older.
I worked on this project knowing that it was meant for me. I didn't need anything super fancy or expensive; mostly I wanted to use what I had lying around. All of the pages are made from random 12x12 scrapbook paper (purchased from either Michael's, JoAnn, or Target's DollarSpot), all cut down to 8x6 inch pages. The front and back covers are just plain brown kraft paper. I wasn't going for any theme, rather I simply selected papers that I thought would work well covered in pictures and writing. Solids are always a good, simple option. I also found I liked working with paper with tiny patterns- they didn't draw attention away from the photos, and they weren't completely hidden from the photos. I picked two cut down papers at random and attached them together to make double-sided paper. I tried several different methods for this: double-sided tape; glue stick; and Creative Memories adhesives. Obviously the adhesives worked the best, followed closely by double-sided tape.
I did my best to randomize the order of the colorful pages, although I did make sure to include the red and green "Christmas-y" papers towards the end of my book since I wanted to display my photos in chronological order. There are several page repeats so I also made sure to place them far apart from each other.
I went through all of my iPhone and big camera photos, selecting the ones that brought back the best memories. I didn't want all of my photos to start out as 4x6's, but I also wanted to keep the entire photo intact and keep their existing proportions. I didn't want to pay more for different sized photos that I would most likely end up cropping anyway, and I don't have much experience with resizing in Photoshop either. Instead, I used the Project Life app on my phone and resized some of the images I had already taken on my phone. As I went through my photos, I already pretty much knew which ones I wanted to standout. The photos that weren't destined to become the main focus of a layout thus became the ones I ended up resizing smaller. In the app, I just stuck to the simple two-photo layout and switched between the horizontal and vertical orientations, based upon the photos I was working with. It was really easy to select previously saved photos on my phone and drop them into the new Project Life templates. I saved these new images to my phone and then my computer. I added these resized images to a folder with the rest of my big camera photos I would be using, and then uploaded the entire folder to Shutterfly. Once I received my photos, I cut these resized images in half so that I now had 3x4 photos to work with as well. I know there are much simpler and quicker ways to do this, but this was the easiest for me to figure out. I'm really glad I did this because being able to play around with more than just 4x6 pictures made the process so much more interesting.
Next, I organized my photos in chronological order, and figured out that I should be using on average, 3-4 photos per page. Obviously I didn't stick to this throughout the entire book, but it created a great starting point for me to work off of. Making sure to keep all the pictures from one event on the same page(s) and keeping similar photos together, I developed a rough layout.
Then, I cropped my photos down so that all the necessary photos would fit on a single page, played around with the layout of the pictures, and then attached them with the Creative Memories adhesives.
Once all of the pictures were tacked down, I added some notes and captions to only some of the pages. I didn't want this scrapbook to turn into a journal, so I left a handful of the pages bare with just a photo or two. So that I wouldn't make silly errors, I typed up everything I wanted to write. It was much less stressful to put my pen on the paper doing it this way.
Now comes the fun part, details! I embellished my pages using Martha Stewart sticker labels, a date stamp, random letter stickers, alphabet stamps, more scrapbook paper, and washi tape. These little decorations really sealed the deal for me.
I hole punched all of my pages, using the the cover page as a template for the next page. I wish I hadn't made the holes so close to the edge of the paper though. I'm a little worried the holes will rip with time and use. I secured the entire book together with two loose-leaf rings, and deemed my mini scrapbook complete!
I want to do a better job at documenting my life through pictures so that I have tubs full of albums to look through when I'm older. New goal!