Succeeding at Week In The Life

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Next Monday, I will be documenting my fifth Week In The Life project. Yes, my 5th WITL – where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday, Ali mentioned my work on this early episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable. Fun fact: around the 20 minute mark that she talks about the page shown above. To this day, I feel super lucky for the shout out. After all, that small, kind comment encouraged me to start a blog and to share my work online.

Obviously – WITL and memory keeping have become incredibly important part of my life these last four years.  To date –  WITL project has documented my life from 2010 to 2013: from a time where Aaron and I were a childless couple, through my pregnancy, to the first two years of Rowan’s life. How cool is it to see the growth, literally and figuratively, on a scrapbook page? I’m sure I don’t have to tell you but:  so cool!

Over the next few days, I will be sharing some visual inspiration with my completed albums, including the never before seen 2013 album, next Monday October 28th.….And the crowd goes wild! Ha! Before then, here are some of my own personal tips to finishing a Week In The Life, because having a final album in your hand is so awesome. Of course….I totally deferred to this post from Ali who has great free resources for completing WITL. 

TRUTH: WITL is an intense project

Ugh – If I am being honest, by the time Sunday, the  7th and final day in this week long project rolls around, I am ready to stop documenting. And when I say, “stop documenting” I mean like I don’t even want to think about scrapbooking again.  After a week or two has past, I am totally keen to create again – but WITL takes a lot of me. This project is a marathon not a sprint. Most people start out strong, taking a lot of pictures the first day and then end up loosing steam and dropping out. I find that there is an ebb and flow to it all. Some days I take lots of photos and others I don’t. I accept that fact, move on and focus on the finish line.  During the week I try to remind myself of these 4 things:

1. Something is better than nothing (ex. Any photos/any journaling = good / no photos/no journalling = bad)

2. I don’t have to document everything especially on the first or second day. (And I do take lots of similar pictures through my week and that is ok)

3. My life doesn’t have to be “pinterest pretty” to document – I just have to be willing to capture life in a slow and steady manner.

4. The finished album is so worth it. Trust me, if you have never completed this project – it’s so awesome and so worth the effort! (ex – I often look through my old albums and marvel at the small details. Things that I would totally forget about, if I didn’t take the time to document them. I especially like to get out my completed albums and document what is similar and different than the year before and writing daily gratitudes)

TRUTH: Relying on others for support / encouragement can help

Summarizing what happened each day, whether on a blog or Instagram, is a great way to keep yourself accountable. The last three years, I edited photos in the moment and then posted them to Instagram. Information included in that post was a time stamp and journaling. Next, I took that information and wrote a blog post which included the “best photos” along with journaling from the day. I am not gonna lie, when people “like” my posts or  left comments on my blog, I got energized. In return, I did the same for other people completing the project. Frankly, it’s nice social media etiquette and as memory keepers it can help unite us to the same end goal. That type of social support is real, freaking awesome and addicting!  I can also help push you through to the last day!

Do you have any tips for completing WITL? I would love to hear them! Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to show you my albums over the next few days!

Thirty Four

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Dear 34 year old self –

Oh my what a year it has been! I don’t think you could have predicted the amount of change that has happened in the last 12 months. Most of these changes have been positive and others, not so much. Take the good, leave the bad and know that you are stronger than you ever thought possible. Please remember this in the days and months ahead.

As always, diet and exercise are things you must consciously pay attention to. Over this past year you realized that running and volleyball, although healthy physical activities, do not completely fulfill you. Photography, journaling, and completing Project Life help you fill a creative void that was lacking in your life for many years. Above all else, continue to make family time with Aaron, Rowan and Charlie a priority. Creating new traditions, singing songs and playing family games, combined with all the other goodness in your life, has made you feel fully alive and present. You don’t need a lot of money or things to realize how rich you are.

Again, I am not sure what lies ahead, but here again, are my five recommendations for you during the upcoming year:

1. You are starting to live your creative dream – its not full time – but you are doing more than you ever thought possible. Recognize and embrace that.

2. Your parents are wonderful and kind people. Watching them be grandparents to Rowan has been such a gift. Continue to foster that relationship.

3.  Trust your gut instinct and follow your intuition as they are usually right. If that fails – ask your co-workers – they usually keep you in check.

4. Floss your teeth more. Seriously – get you butt out of bed and just do it.

5.   The combination of coffee and your Type A stick-to-it-ness personality  is a winning combination. Aim high. Be open to change. Work smarter not harder.

Signed with love,

Your 33 your old self

xo

Thanksgiving 2014

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After weeks of dreaming, list writing, co-worker consulting, shopping and a marathon effort of cooking and cleaning, we hosted our first Thanksgiving on Sunday! With all my type A, Herculean efforts, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Like when the turkey isn’t fully cooked and you have to leave it in the oven for an extra 2 hours. Yes – I cooked the turkey for 10 hours and it still wasn’t done….So what’s a memory keeper to do when you have extra time to kill – besides hoping and praying that you don’t give your family food poisoning?  Take family photos of course! Many, many posed family photos…

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We have so many things to be thankful for – and my favourites are included in these photos. For those in the Great White North – hope you had a gobble gobble day!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

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I like big lumps in my soup and I do not lie…

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Dudes! I am T minus 4 days away from hosting my first Canadian Thanksgiving in our new home! I am jazz hands excited but also a little nervous. To help combat those jitters I am slowly cooking my way through the menu and freezing those items until the big day. You may remember this recipe from last week. From my kitchen today: Butternut squash and apple soup!

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Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded + cut into 1 inch cubes

4 cups of vegetable broth

2 apples, peeled and diced

1 – 14 oz can of coconut milk

salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Combine onion, garlic and nutmeg, saute until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes

2. Add squash, broth, apples and coconut milk to the pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. Cook, uncovered until the squash and apples are tender – approximately 30 minutes.

3. Using an immersion blender, puree soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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You can make this soup as lumpy or not lumpy as you want. Seriously this is so easy to make and equally as good! I plan on serving this with some fresh bread – which is a nice light appetizer. Follow me on Instagram and the hastag #cheersjessthanksgiving to see what how our day shapes up. Wish me luck this weekend! And if you are fellow Canadian celebrating with your family this weekend: Happy Thanksgiving!

Project Life 2014: Week 30 – 36

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Summer 2014 will always been known as the summer of the fedora in our house!

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Okay – I am not gonna lie:  August was a bit of a blur. Having just moved into our new house and being in the process of  moving offices buildings at work, I really didn’t know if I was coming or going. Although I took lots of pictures I feel completely uninspired and totally overwhelmed with the idea of catching up on 6 weeks worth of documenting. So what’s a girl to do? Simplify, of course! Yes – this spread represents 5 weeks in our lives…

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Instead of struggling to make my pictures work, I simply printed one picture and journaled some funny little conversations, I had with my girl over the course of the month. You may remember some of these conversations that I wrote about them here. Although this doesn’t visually represent everything that happened in August, I am just happy I have something down in my Project Life book vs. nothing. I have all my photos saved in Dropbox.  If / when I feel the need to, I can always go back – print out more of August 2014 pictures – and put inserts into my album. Easy, peasy!

I specifically chose to use this picture as it captured summer 2014 otherwise known as the summer of the fedora in our household. As a result it seemed like the  right fit with the journaling cards. Bye bye stress!

Journaling cards are from the Dreamy Core Kit; Wood Veneers are from Studio Calico and digital stamp from Ali Edwards.

How do you deal feeling overwhelmed?

Pumpkin Picking – Part 1

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Hey,  wait a minute  – there are no pumpkins in this blog post! Yes – just as there is no pumpkin in a Starbucks Pumpkin spice latte, this entry was inspired by the idea pumpkins even if it contains no pumpkin pictures.  Confused? Let me explain.

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Yesterday, we all woke up at 5:30 am – translate: Rowan got us at the insanely awful hour of half five. Somewhat comatose at the start of the day, by 8:00 am, we had remedied this state by completing many productive  tasks like cooking a full hot breakfast, finishing and folding 3 loads of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, watching morning cartoons and paying some bills. With more hours ahead of us in our day than we had anticipated, we decided to go pick some pumpkins at Whittamore’s farm. Enter in the corn maze.

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Yes the corn maze was perhaps the best thing that happen to us. We went for pumpkins and stayed for the maze. I guess when you are a kid growing up in the city, when you have the chance to run in corn that is 3 times taller than you, you take it.

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Rowan ran 

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And picked up dirty interesting things from the ground

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 And played the cutest and best game of hidey peek admists the corn stalks. No joke this picture was worth the price of admission!

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Yes, getting lost in the corn maze was just a great unexpected little adventure we were hoping to have when we decided to go pumpkin picking. I would highly recommend Whittamore’s Farm. It’s a lovely little spot just north of the city. Besides pumpkin picking and the corn maze, there are lots of fun activities to see and do: Check out there website here. PS> we had a really great family nap afterwards!

Project Life 2014: Week 37

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Orange, Black, White and Grey for the win!

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So I am jumping ahead in my 2014 album. I find that summer is for relaxing and fall naturally energizes me. I have my summer pictures backed up but just haven’t documented them. No stress, no guilt, no worries.  This week, I am scrapping pictures that excite me – and this was a week was one for the books as we attended a gala movie at TIFF! That combined with our regular weekend routine of going to the dog park and playground, this week shows off a nice balance of big and small events. Done and done!

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I took a bit of extra time and typed up a week in review card. I created a text box in Photoshop Elements and printed it on a blank 4×6 Project Life card. Since this week marked the 13th anniversary of September 11th, I wanted included some of my memories from that day 13 years ago. Seriously this layout covers so many stories, no joke!

If you are interested in learning more on about how to use your computer while scrapbooking, I will be schlepping my computer and printer to Two Friends Scrapbook this Saturday, October 4th to teach a beginner  Photoshop Elements for Scrapbooking class. It’s a small class, limited to 8 people. If you are interested in learning from me check it out here. I am excited to talk all things scrap!

Layout features Design A Project Life page protectors and cards from the Jade Edition.

Plum Compote

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No, I am not Type A, I swear! Doesn’t everyone have their Thanksgiving menus planned one month before the actual event? Ha! The truth is that I am beyond excited to be hosting my first Thanksgiving dinner in our new house on October 11th.  My excitement combine with my fear that I won’t get everything done, means I am cooking and freezing some food before the big day. Last night I made plum compote which I will serve with the turkey, switching out tradition cranberry sauce.  Check out the recipe below:

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Plum Compote

3 large red plums

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp of dried thyme

2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup apple juice

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

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Directions

1. Quarter plums and remove pitts. In a mixing bowl, combine salt, pepper and thyme. Stir to coat.

2. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Place plums with skin side up. Cook, shaking skillet often or until the plums release their juices but still keep their shape, for 6 to 8 minutes. Add apple juice and balsamic vinegar until the juice thickens slightly 3 to 4 minutes.

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Super simple, I am hoping to serve this with our turkey as well as future roasted pork dinners if there is any leftover. Have you made plum compote before? What did you serve it with?

Documenting Argentina + Chile

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Is that the beginning of a Project Life Travel Scrapbook? Why yes, yes it is!

When you are in the throes of parenting a young child it is incredibly easy to forget that you had a life before said kiddo. Right now, I am trying to remember what is was like to not be a human kleenex. With the desire to remember our pre baby days /adventures / vacations, I set a goal early this year to document three of the five trips we took before having Rowan, you know, before my memory completely goes to mush!

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A few weeks ago, I shared this layout from our 2007 trip to Argentina and Chile and since then, I have been working hard, to actually finish the rest. And you guys, I am pretty stoked to share that complete trip and discuss how I set up this Project Life travel album. So here it goes….

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For the title page, I enlarged a photo and added a title in PSE.

How did I choose one photo as my title page? Good question! I picked a picture that best represented our trip. When Aaron and I talk about Argentina and Chile, the first story we recount is that of asking about the wild horses in Patagonia.  Although we don’t speak Spanish, we attempted to confirm their existence to a cab driver. Through a series of gestures and stringing together the words, “cabjello sins trabejos” which roughly translates roughly as “horse without jobs”, we were able to figure out that they did exist in Patagonia and they could be seen roaming the countryside. An awkward funny moment that I often associate with this trip. A memorable story meant a memorable picture of horses got the title spot.

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Next I enlarged another 12 x 12 and combined it with a Design A page protector. I repeated this design through out. 

How did you decide what to scrapbook first? Good question! I choose to document the trip by the places we visited and scrapped them in order we saw them. Since we visited Buenos Aires, Patogonia, Mendoza, and Chile, I created one or two pages on these locations, depending on what stories I wanted to tell. Below, you can see that I included two layouts highlighting our time in Buenos Aires where I grouped photos by neighbourhood and colour.

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For our time in Patagonia, I decided to created pages based on the hotel we stayed at and the glaciers we saw:

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For our time in Mendoza, I created a page our our winery tours:

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For our time in Chile, I created a page on visiting Portal Natales, a national park:

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How did you decide what pictures to include? How did you decide what pictures to “leave out”? Good questions! First, these photos were taken before I was a scrapbooker and I didn’t have a lot to choose from. I started looking at the photos taken and seeing what pictures helped to tell the best visual story.  I don’t scrapbook every photo, nor do I think it is possible to include everything you shot. One of my scrapbooking motto’s in life is “something is better than nothing”…..yes, I can’t believe I have a scrapbooking motto either – crazy, right!?! With that mantra in mind, I used “the best” 4 to 7 photos from the trip.  Should I want to include more pictures in this album, in the future, I can easily add in a Project Life envelope or 6 x 12 insert to capture those details.

How did you remember all those details for journaling? Good question! I relied heavily on Facebook status updates to capture my thoughts from 2007. I also used it to gather dates as I did not keep any memoribilla from that trip. And the audience gasps. Yes, I am bummed about that too. Luckily enough, I had some information to piece a story together !!! When i was stuck, I briefly mentioned the sights that we saw and/or I tried to answer the question, “what do I want to remember?” Again, “something is better than nothing”!

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For the end page, I enlarged another photo and added a quote about travel in PSE.

How did I choose this one photo as my end page? Good question! I picked a “walking away” picture to signal the end. How very literal of me! I choose this photo of Aaron walking in the Patagonia mountains because it has similar light to the title page. Also the bottom of the page had space that I could add a quote.

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How did I choose this quote? Good question! I simply went to Pinterest, searched “travel quotes” and choose which one “spoke” to me the most. The quote I choose was from a Winnie the Pooh story. Although I am not a crazy WTP fan, the words somehow reminded me of starting our first year of married life together. As I mentioned above, this was the first of five trips we took before we became parents. I think it sets a nice tone for the future album.

How do you plan on documenting the other 4 trips? Good question! I plan on doing something similar with the other adventures. I will use Project Life page protectors, cards from the Midnight edition and employ some of the same strageties as I have outlined above. Right now I am half through documenting our 2008 trip to California and enjoying the process.

If you have made it to end of the post – thank you and congrats !?!

Are you stuck documenting your vacations? Do you have questions about how I set up your own vacation album? Ask away – I am all ears!

Apple Picking

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Uhm, do you have a license for that?

It’s not too often that I am sans Starbucks on the weekend. Living in city, one of the many perks of our weekend routine is buying ridiculously over priced coffee as we walk through the park at the end of our street. However, this weekend I decided to forgo the caffeine as we ventured out of the concert jungle to roam wide open spaces for a few hours on Saturday. What was the reason for our non caffeinated day you may ask? Apples. Sweet and tart, big and small, delicious apples. Scratch that. Macintosh apples.

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Yes, we along with hundreds of other families, lined up to visit Chudleigh’s Apple Farm in Halton Hills. Just a few minutes waiting at the gates I was questioning if I should have brought an Irish coffee – not just my regular non fat vanilla latte…I kid! Sorta.

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Once we got in the magic began. We met my in laws, who helped controlled the excitement of the almost 3 year old girlie. Seriously, even with the 4 to 1 adult to kiddo ratio, Rowan kept us on our toes.

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We fed the animals…

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and subsequently someone attempted to climb into their pens.

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We had our first pony ride – where we screamed the entire time that we wanted to hold free balloon.

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We picked apples. We picked and picked and picked until we had two big bags full.

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We took rare mama /daughter pictures.

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We savoured time with Nanny and Bobba.

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We soaked up the time in the sun. And of course, who could forget – the free red balloon for the win! Seriously a part of me wonders, if we should have just bought her a balloon and called it a day in the city…I kid! Sorta.

In the end, I didn’t need “a Starbucks” or an Irish coffee, just a really long nap + good night’s sleep. Fall somehow inspires me to get out of old routines and to create new ones. Here’s to having new adventures and creating traditions both in the city and on the farm….and to apples, Starbucks and sleep!

Hope your weekend was a good one.