Wednesday, 29 November 2006

Scrapping... with scraps

Now that my vacation is a long, distant memory I have spent a little while putting together a kit of sorts, with all the various bits that will be used to create the scrapbook. As this one’s a special holiday, it gets a scrapbook all to itself! I noticed that about 70% of what I put away in the box was paper: but we’re not talking patterned paper or even plain paper but more like literature. I had hundreds of bits of papers – tickets, maps, menus, hotel brochures, local paper, theme park guides, etc. I managed to fill an 18lt box with all sorts of random documentation. Thing is though, it is all important to me one way or another.

I have always been ruthless to throw things away and don’t tend to hoard anything except for when it comes to Florida vacations. I may grab things here and there on other vacations but when I’m in Florida (especially Disney) I take all I can. I always have. Eventually I had the problem of storage and when my box overflowed, I started cutting up bits and pieces of these papers and using them to decorate my photo albums of the trip. I also used them to decorate my school notebooks – to keep the memory of the vacation alive, I guess. In any case, you can see that this is pretty much a proper scrapbook: a book decorated with scraps.

In the years that this hobby has evolved, I have of course evolved along with it and started using more bought embellishments and less of the “found” stuff. It was just the way I saw it being done so I followed suit. My albums looked very nice!

Now that we have gone to Florida again, though, the old habits refuse to die and I’ve ended up with another boxful of literature. And I plan to use it – because these tidbits of paper all have some meaning to us. One menu reminds me of a lovely lunch, a ticket reminds me of a lovely day at some attraction, a map is a great reminder of our travels and the local paper gives context to our visit.

So even though I also plan to use lots and lots of lovely store-bought embellishments, I also can’t wait to plow through my box of papers and relive some wonderful memories while preserving them in my album. After all, one can’t scrapbook without scraps!

Monday, 27 November 2006

My desert island pick is ALWAYS a book. Actually, make that several books!

Just before I went on vacation, a dream store opened here in Milton Keynes: Borders!

Yes, the bookstore.

I really love this store mainly because it sells books and does this job beautifully. There are few bookstores that display books so well and make it so easy for me to have to buy another book. If I could, I think I’d love to work there and I would be in heaven, surrounded by books. I’ve already been like five times since it opened earlier in the month, and bearing in mind I’ve been on vacation for most of November, it isn’t a bad average.

I just love books. I love and love and love books. Books have been my friends for a long time, since I learned to read at the age of 4. Ever since I discovered the written word I have been pretty obsessed with books and have always been attracted to reading. It’s one of my favourite pastimes – sometimes even more adored than scrapbooking, I have to say. Reading is portable, easy to do and it fills my head with places, peoples and ideas that might make me a different person.

I remember one day, long long ago when I went to my school’s library and found a lovely book I wanted to read, but my recess wasn’t long enough. So the librarian gave me special permission to check it out and take it home – at the time, anyone younger than 2nd grade wasn’t allowed to check books out. Anyway, I took it home and I remember the guilty pleasure I felt in taking a book home that wasn’t mine. I was also terrified something might happen to it so I returned it promptly the next day. I can’t remember what book it was, though.

A few years later, when I was older and actually working in that very same library I stumbled across a magical book – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I checked it out and read it in a day, I couldn’t put it down! I just didn’t know reading could be so magical, so amazing and so fantastic. I quickly read everything with Mr Dahl’s name on it and became a lifelong fan.

Another epic book was “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret” which I read in 4th grade. I remember all the girls talking about it as if it was some dirty book (it deals with puberty, periods and all that stuff) so I placed my name on the waiting list, of course! When I finally got my hands on it, I remember it was almost disappointing but at the same time horribly fascinating. A few months later I had my own “womanhood” to talk about and I took pretty badly, actually.

Sometime in 9th grade I discovered Shakespeare – and read pretty much everything. I loved the Sonnets and poems, especially. I also found some of the plays confusing but with the help of my trusty Cliff’s notes I managed to plow on and read most of his stuff. I admit I didn’t really like the historical plays but love the more magical, lyrical stuff.

As I got older I read more and more, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I read a lot of Agatha Christie, a lot of young adult novels but started slowly drifting towards non-fiction. I just loved stories of actual people or (these days) companies and how they have succeeded. At about this time I was becoming very interested in the Disney company so I read “An American Original” which was the official bio on Walt Disney. I love this book and I still have it – it’s actually falling apart! His life inspired me and this led me to read the life of other, just as amazing people, and find inspiration in them.

These days I mainly read non-fiction but I occasionally read novels – especially when everyone’s talking about them (“The Da Vinci Code” comes to mind!) I prefer to read about real people and real companies and what made them successful. I also like finding out stuff I didn’t know before about my favourite products – I guess I’m just a trivia junkie. These days I also read a lot of parenting books, Disney books (about the company, not storybooks), books about where food comes from and, of course, scrapbooking books.

I must admit I went through a period when I just couldn’t find the time to read and slowly I realized how much I missed it. So I made time and now I am always carrying a book with me, because one never knows when you may get the odd 10 minutes to read. Also, if I am reading a book that is absolutely gripping me, I just can’t put it down! I read “Angels and Demons” over 3 days here at work over the last Christmas holiday, for example.

Reading is my absolutely favourite thing to do in the whole world and I am very much hoping that I pass this gift on to my little boy. Then the world is truly his to embrace!

It is nearly lunchtime here in the UK and I may just sneak off and visit Borders again... there’s a new book on Google and it's history that I simply must read.

Tuesday, 21 November 2006

If GAP sold stash, I wouldn't have any problems!

t’s official – there is something wrong with me when it comes to shopping for stash.

I’ve just spent a lovely couple of weeks in the States and along with enjoying the sunshine and beaches of the Sunshine State, I had the chance to visit a few scrapbook shops (only a few, honestly, I was having too much fun to be inside). I visited a couple of the big chains and a couple of smaller, independent shops but the result in all of them was the same: I hardly bought anything.

I don’t know what it is about stash shopping but I seem unable to do it like everyone else does: with gusto. I relish the experience and like looking through the lovely shelves of merchandise but when it comes to committing some money, I become far too practical and choosy: it is all so lovely but do I really need it? The answer is usually no, so it stays on the shelf. Besides, I say to myself, where will I put it when I get home? I don’t have that much room anyway.

Nothing really grabbed me and shouted at me BUY ME. Sure, there are an awful lot of pretty things available but nothing that I saw and thought I MUST HAVE THIS NOW. I ended up buying an 8x8 album (because I knew I needed one for the photos of the trip) and the refills which can be a nightmare to get here in the UK. I got a few sticker sheets with vacation words, one pad of vellum sayings also on the vacation theme and a Christina Cole 8x8 pad which is the closest I got to buying something because it was soooo lush.

On another store I got a box set with an 8x8 album (another one!), matching papers and stickers which I got because it sort of matched the Christina Cole papers and because I felt that I ought to buy SOMETHING. Another store produced a sheet of chipboard letters from Scenic Route (that I’d been searching for here in the UK with no result) and the last store I came out with ONE SHEET of rubons.

That’s it.

I calculate I spent around $50USD in total (which is pretty good for me, actually) but I was almost disappointed in myself. I just can’t bring myself to buy these things! Here in the UK I do most of my shopping online so I thought that maybe that was the issue, not being able to touch the merchandise before purchase, but it seems I have the same problem with bricks and mortar stores! In one shop I felt there was too much choice, in another not enough. One store was a bit too messy and dark, the other was almost too tidy... so it seems I can’t be pleased. I’m sure the problem is me!

Or is it? Because when I go into the Gap, I can happily spend, spend, spend, without thinking about storage or even if I will use something. I happily buy one t-shirt in every color just because I like it. I get three pairs of jeans because... well, just because. So shopping isn't the issue - only when it comes to stash do I become Ms Practicality.

How does everyone else do it? How can you happily commit money to buying things that you don’t know if you’ll use? How do you know what all of this is even for? How do you store it all?

What are your best shopping tips?

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