Finally Home

Last year I made the decision to push myself in the areas of photography and digital scrapbooking. That decision caused me to venture outside my scrapping world, and checking out the multitude of wonderful site out there with some really fabulous designers. There is certainly not a shortage of wonderful designers out there, and my stash has increased quite a bit. I have also ventured out into the world of being on designer creative teams (CT). I applied and was accepted to become part of two teams. I will try to showcase new products when I can for both of these designers, as well as an occasional product I may run across from time to time that I think are especially awesome. Like I said – there is no shortage of great designers out there, and boy, does it make scrapping so much more enjoyable.

I became a member of Amy Wolff’s CT back in mid-November 2011. Her products range from very traditional to funky, so it gives me the ability to go in any direction with my pages. These two kits were released on January 13:

11:00 am Paper Pack

11:00 am Element Pack

I went back and pulled from my old photos, one that was 20 years old – from when we bought our home. We were so excited about our first home that we asked our realtor to take our photo by the sold sign. Amy’s kit worked perfectly with the photo. I loved greens in the kit as well as the complimentary colors in the kit, but it was the fence from the element pack that immediately led me to the sold sign photo. The only thing I needed other than these two kits was an alpha.

Finally Home



I am one of the photoshop users that has learned what they know by playing around with the program. That being said, I have been learning that the look of an item can be dramatically altered. The image below is one I recently did where I received multiple comments asking how the look was achieved. I will briefly touch on a few areas to give you a starting point in which you can try this on your own.

Old Poway Park

I began with the photo. I also had some new supplies that I figured I would probably use by Anna Aspnes of oscraps. Her new kit ArtPlay Palette Autumn Haze gave me the inspiration as it had some great earthy tones, along with graphics of leaves that I thought would work well. I knew I wanted to place this photo on a clipping mask, but knew little more than that. I began my page with a simple background paper, place the clipping mask, and then the photo. I began with a neutral color, just knowing I wanted the linen texture and the slight wrinkles to show, but I usually start neutral, and then either change this neutral paper to work well with a color in the photo, or pull in another paper I find as I am working that I think works well.
Fig. 1I played around with colors for a bit to try to zero in on what background color I should use, and ended up with an olive greenish color. This was obtained by adding a dark olive-green on top of the beige, and changing the opacity of that until I was pleased. I then pulled some elements from Anna’s Autumn Haze kit, and her Sampler No. 1 kit and tucked them under the clipping mask. Thinking that I would like to somehow frame the photo I decided I would take one of Anna’s edge overlays, and scale it such that they framed the photo. I added another edge overlay to the outer most edge of the page. I knew I wanted the inner frame to be dark, but I decided to make the outer overlay a lighter color to start.
Fig. 2Things were coming along, but I felt it needed more grunge throughout the entire page as well as more along the edge. I next added another paper on top of everything. The paper was from Anna’s Sampler No 2. I could see in this paper that it had some slight grunge properties to it, but I make this grunge more extreme by using curves in Photoshop. At this point I started playing around with blend modes. Although my intent was not to have this paper affect the photo itself, I mistakenly placed it above the photo, and after I decided the blend mode “multiply” gave it a very grungy look. I put this sheet at 56% opacity as well. Under this layer I added a few more overlays to both the outer edge and 2 more to the photo itself, as I felt the single frame was not enough. I added quite a few little brushes around the outside as well as some text brushes. Some of these brushes were changed by using blend modes, others by just changing the opacity, and still others were modified by using the hue/saturation of the element. The images below show the page with the paper blended above all the page elements, and the second image is what it looks like with the blended paper hidden. You can see how it dramatically changes the feel of the page. I actually like both versions, but I liked the feel of the page with the added grunge, as it just seemed to give the page a magical feel to it.

I played around with all the brushes I added to the corners and edges, and found that some looked better above or below others. The colors of these brushes were modified so that the final color of the brush was one pulled from the photo.

I decided I would add a line of brown stitching to reinforce the frames made by the overlays. I like to title and date all pages, so after playing around with different font possibilities, I ended up using VNI-Thufap1 for both the title and date in the lower left. I am a big lover of the look of repeated elements, and chose pearls from Anna’s ArtPlay Palette Barren Sunrise, added a custom shadow, and made sure they were placed above the grunged blended paper overlay. I also pulled a butterfly epoxy element from Anna’s Find My Way Brads, and placed that with the cluster of leaves in the lower right of the photo. This element I chose to be under the grunged paper, causing the element to look more aged than it was. I also added one of Anna’s dotted loopdaloop, as I love to sneak them into my pages. I tweaked all elements if necessary by either decreasing saturation, or opacity, or blend mode until I felt everything worked together. Prior to publishing, I duplicated the grunged paper overlay, changed it’s opacity to about 20%, thus adding a bit extra grunge to the entire page, but decided to eliminate that grunge from the sky in the photo. I did this by added a layer mask, and painting out the grunge from the sky area. I did not include in my description all items used, so if you need to, the top image is linked to my gallery.

If you have never worked with blend modes, changing the opacity of an element, or changing hues and saturation of elements, you might want to play around with them are they are very versatile and can dramatically change the look of a layout.


I cannot even imagine entering the military, and heading off to war. Those that do, I feel a great deal of gratitude toward. They freely fight the enemy knowing they may not come back after the war. Too many are killed, or injured. I feel for all who choose to fight the terrorists that wish to do us harm.

In my hometown, my daughter tells me about all of her friends that chose to enter the military after they graduated high school. She is able to keep in touch with them from their occasional posts on Facebook. We are both always concerned for their safety, hoping they all come back safe once their tour is done.

This past December, my daughter learned that one of her friends was killed in action. It was so hard to console her as it is hard for a young adult to have to face death, and she as seen her share of it through high school, and now the war or terror. I spent much of the next few days looking online at the information about this young man’s death, as well as the other’s that had died with him. I found photos and videos of Kenny, and it was heart-breaking to think of how his family was coping.

Kenny Necochea

My being a digital scrapper, I immediately archived a number of photos of Kenny, and asked my daughter if she would like a page done in his memory. Through her tears, she said she would like that very much. He died on December 12, 2010, and over the months I attempted to scrap his page, but I never felt that any of the pages I started did this young man justice. This page had to be special. When the 10th anniversary of 911 was upon us, I again thought of Kenny. Although this page was not completed for this 10th anniversary, I began working on it again, and finally felt satisfied that it was a fine enough tribute for Kenny. When posting this page, I got many a comment from others saying that this scrapbook page of Kenny helped remind them of all the wonderfully courageous military men and woman out there fighting to protect us. Kenny proudly served in the Army in the 101st Airborne, he is any of thousands of men and women that have been killed or injured. We need to be reminded sometimes that although our lives continue as it always has, there are others out there laying their lives on the line to keep us safe. I will always have Kenny Necochea in my heart. He has shown me how important it is to be thankful for the special life we have, and to not take things for granted. I will always remember that you gave your life to keep us safe. God bless you Kenny, you will always be in my heart.

911 – Ten Years

I, like many others have a very difficult time each year on 9/11. I find myself crying more than I would like, in disbelief that something so horrific could happen. I spent a good amount of the day pouring over a scrapbook page highlighting the events of the day, and putting a lot of my thoughts on the page. In the end, I just couldnt bear to post it, so I began browsing the interest to look at some of the days events. It was then that I found a photography taken by an AP photographer Amy Sancetta. It was taken at the unveiling of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. I immediately decided that this photo was the one I had to scrap.

Never Forget

As I began to scrap, instead of having a lump in my throat, I felt just a bit uplifted. I just kept staring at this little girl walking past the monument. Much too young to be a child born after 911 to one who died, but I wondered if she was a relative. So sweet, and innocent, not touched by the ugliness of that day, 10 years prior. When placing the photo on the page, I realized the first name on the photo was that of Todd Beamer. I don’t think I will ever forget his actions along with other passengers on the plane that day. His cry of “LET’S ROLL” will never be forgotten, and has become a defiant cry many now use when up against adversity, but moving forward, none the less.

I still feel that each anniversary, I will find myself thinking of all whose lives were changed my this day, but I also feel so blessed to have been born in a country such as the United States. We are resilient people, and will push through all obstacles. We will survive. We will not let terrorists destroy us. This little girl gives me hope for the future. I hope and pray that she does not have to witness such ugliness in the world as we did ten years prior.

In creating this page I felt that its basic color had to be minimal. I began browsing through background paper and knew right away it would be gray. As soon as I saw the paper with the vertical lines, I knew it was the one. I also felt that the photo had to be placed so that the vertical lines of the monument landed on the vertical lines of the paper. So as to not overpower, I also felt the title “Never Forget” had to be white, and not black, as I felt it would have caused the eye to go directly there. I also knew I had to place something else on the page. My decision was to place a silk flower partially off the page and I inserted the pearl in the middle. I brought down the color on both the flower and the pearl so as to not conflict with the color of the little girls skirt. The photo, the title and the flower work as a visual triangle, keeping the eye moving and studying the page. All items used on this page are from Anna Aspnes Designs. If you have never used her digital products, you should check out her store. Clicking on the scrapbook page will take you to the gallery where you will find the products I used.

Chosing a Layout Color

As I had mentioned in my last post, I can get caught up in what colors should be used in a layout. I consider myself real picky concerning colors, and try to pull colors from the photos to use within the page. I find, that often times, the predominate colors I see in the photo just will not work for the page.

Love My Ritz Crackers

As in this layout, I so wanted to use the red and blue from Rachel’s cute little outfit, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find a way to do so. The two colors over-powered the photos. After fighting my desire to use these two colors, I finally realized I had to try something else. I know it is always best to use something neutral, but I am always seeing other scrappers pull off bold colors, but in the end I drew from the wood hues and the yellow from big bird, in the photo and decided my background would end up being a pale yellow. The photos themself were too busy to allow for bold paper colors, but I was still able to bring in both the red and blue in accents. The red butterfly, the 3 brads, top and bottom, the title and the little red heart, and then pulled in some blue linen paper under the main background paper, the blue journaling text and the blue date tab seem to pull it all together.

Taking Things to the Next Level.

It has been quite a while since I have posted. I have been quite busy, but I have recently decided to set some goals for myself. The hope is that I up my game as far as the things I love in my life. I have decided that I would be more proactive in taking my interests to the next level. I do understand that I am quite the perfectionist. It takes me hours on some pages, to get to the final product that I am totally happy with. This does not mean that I never post a layout that is not perfect, but there are times when I look at a page and say that I know it is not perfection, but in my heart I feel I have done the page and subject justice, and have other pages in my head and heart that are waiting to be created.

In the past few months, I have taken two steps to better my skills. The first was a webcast which I have been listening to, where I hope to find out more in the way of new resources. Through this webcast I learned of Peppermint from One Little Bird. I am always looking for new and different designers out there, and upon seeking out her blog came across a fabulous tutorial on creating shadows. The biggest thing with me is that I want my pages to look like the items used on them are real – therefore they need impeccable shadows. True, Photoshop has a shadow fx, but I know they can often look even more natural. My method of creating shadows on my pages were to use a standard shadow as I placed each item. This gave me an idea of how I wanted the items to look. Once the page was complete, I would go back to many of the items, and replace the shadow with a custom one, allowing me to use the smudge tool to make it look more accurate.

I have to say, that I was impressed with Peppermints’ blog tutorial, and have been using her technique ever since. Here method uses a dual shadow, plus it creates te shadow in a color which mimics a true shadow (not just black with a lowered opacity). The page above was one I created using this tutorial, and I spent hours working on each and every item, until I was happy with them, and then decided I wanted to move the line of shells, and papers from the left edge to the right edge. This meant that I had to redo each and every shadow, but I think it was the right thing to do. I have been using this technique, without creating any actions for some time. I really wanted to cement the process in my brain, and to also gave myself some time to think about just how to go about creating a set of actions that will work for anything from thin paper to larger/deeper elements requiring larger shadows. I will do this shortly, and this will hopefully speed up the shadow making process.

This is a heritage photo of my mom and her brother and sister in law, and although the photo itself is a bit blurry, I have learned that sometimes those blurry photos are acceptable to scrap, especially when they tug at your heart, as this one does mine.

Beside learning this new shadow technique, I decided I would take classes online that would better my skills. I signed up for an 8 week class on scrapbook page design, and although I did come away from the class with a new tidbit here and there, most that was taught were things I already knew. In fact, I was surprised that many of the scrappers taking the class were ill prepared for this class, as the description of the class was one that would allow the digital scrapbooker to take things to a new level, which was what I was looking for. In the end, I believe those students came away from the class having learned quite a bit. It was kind of a sink or swim type thing for many, but I have the feeling they learned a lot. I walked away from the class with the reinforcement that I had those design skills down, it was just that much of the time I didn’t have a word for what they were teaching in the class, I just knew what worked and what didn’t. I also learned that I like a line layout, where there are more than one photo on the page, and on a page with just one photo, I liked a somewhat small photo usually in the lower left or lower right portion of the page with quite a bit of white space, as in the Myrtle Beach layout above.

The page below was created during this class. I had been loving the style of page where there were loads of layers, but would find that I would get caught up in how to put it all together. In addition, I had been using Adobe Bridge to find all my supplies, and I have come away from that with the realization that it just wasn’t working to my advantage, so it would often times take me hours to locate the elements that I had in my mind, but couldn’t remember what kit it came from. I have since begun using ACDSee 12, having learned you could in fact open items up in Photoshop rather than ACDSee. I am currently in the process of tagging all my supplies in catagories, and we will see when I am done, if it crashes the system. I am hoping that it will make pages like the one below much easier to put together.

Baby you can drive my car

I was really proud of this layout as I had used multiple layers of items, all of which needed custom shadows, and I had used a scallope edged mask to attach some crumpled paper unto, and then feel that I added custom shadows that worked well enough to make it look like real paper. I also tried to make the real look of a viewfinder film by adding the slight white highlights. I don’t feel they look as realistic as they could have been, but my hopes are that I can someday better that technique and go back and change the page.

This page caused me to not agonize over color as much. I struggled over the fact that my daughter’s dress was aqua, and that the car was bright red. In my mind I felt that color combo was a poor one. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get past the red and aqua, but I eventually just said to live with it, and added the brackets in red. What I didn’t notice was that many of the pages being created right now use the red and aqua or turquoise color combo – I am seeing these colors on many pages, so this taught me to be more observant of what is out there in the galleries. I was honored to have this page be chosen as a GSO for June 25th, as well it was chosed page of the week at, plus was listed as a favorite in their forum, and used as a scraplift page, so I found it funny to see a dozen or so pages similar to this – all using the slide reel in some way, and most with many layers. I have since found it on Pinterest as well, which surprised me, but I guess all in all, that website is for all things you like, so it was a compliment.

How did I ever live without my Kelly Moore Bag

My choice: The Kelly Moore Classic

Look, I know women have a thing for shoes. We have to have them for every occasion. We need them in all types of heel heights, different colors, different leathers, open toed, strappy, boots, you name it. I find comfort in knowing I have shoes for every occasion, but to be honest, I find I go more for the same pair for everyday use, as I go for the comfort over everything else – shear perfection for my feet.

For me, my love lies more in the bag I carry. I have noticed over the past few years that I have purchased a number of handbag, in all different styles and colors. I have dozens, and I love them all. However, I have always had the dilemma of how to carry my camera as well. For a while, I decided a point and shoot would be the answer – a small camera I could carry with me anywhere. I found, however, that although I always had that point and shoot with me, I never seemed to pull it out. I sometimes went weeks without taking a photograph, whereas I always found a reason to take photos each and every day, when I had my DSLR, but I hated either dragging an extra camera bag, or was afraid of damaging it the days I placed it in one of my really large bags. I also have a camera bag as well. It is well padded, and has the room for all of my equipment, but I just do not like the bag. After all, it is just a plain ole camera bag.

All Bag Styles

Now, I don’t know why I hadn’t known about the Kelly Moore bags. How could it be that I had never run across these beautiful bags. I heard about them one day while reading the forums where I post my digital scrapbook pages. Everyone was raving about how beautiful they were, and how great it was to be able to carry their camera in something made with a woman in mind. Something that was stylish, and in such beautiful colors. I immediately clicked on the link that was so thoughtfully placed in their post. I was in love. I wanted to purchase one right away, but with my daughter starting college, and wanting to go the an extremely expensive private college, I told myself I had to be very frugal. I looked at the price tag and told myself there was no way I could afford the bag right now. How could I justify the cost of the bag. You see, I had told myself with the last purse that I bought that I had to stop. The economy has just gotten so bad that I told myself I had to simplify my life and stop purchasing. I had gotten pretty good in all the other areas of my life, but the purses were my weakness – but it had to end.

For weeks I pined over these bags. I would go to the Kelly Moore website and gaze at them. I even loved to watch each and every video that Kelly herself had made to help people make their decision. In the videos, she is surrounded by all the bags in different colors, and I just melt at the thought of owning one. I would watch her open each and every one, and listen to her explanation of each pocket or zipper, and I would long for the day that I could order one for myself. I would drool over the Classic bag, with it’s look of being the perfect tailored womens bag, the B-Hobo, with it’s casual comfortable look that every girl would love to own, the Posey, with it’s own little zippered pocket that held credit cards, and it’s ability to have more than one, somewhat eccentric look, so different than any other, the JuJu, which looks like the perfect Tote, almost like the leather bag you would pull out for that special weekend trip, and even the Kelly Boy bag, that looks like that perfect casual leather laptop bag with it’s wonderful large flap and it’s two large front pockets. They would each call to me. They were screaming “BUY ME – BUY ME!”

One night while on the computer, I was doing my scrapbooking, on one monitor, with the Kelly Moore Bag website open on the other, I figured out a way to justify the purchase of one of the bags. The way I figured it, I had to come up with a way to save up the money on things I would normally purchase. In other words, I had to save in one area in order to spend in another. I devised a plan of looking at each and every purchase I made each day, and for each change I made, I jotted down my savings. I went for my occasional starbucks, and stopped myself at the door, and told myself, NO – Kelly Moore Bag!, and jotted the cost in my little notebook. I brown bagged peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of the Chinese or Mexican food for lunch at work. Hell, I even bought store brand instead of name brand and jotted down that difference. I drank water instead of soda – another 50 cent savings. Slowly, but surely, it added up.

Well it took me a while, but much sooner than I thought, I had saved up enough. I was so excited. But now I had another problem. Which bag was I going to get, and in which color. I was off to watch the videos again to help me make my decision. I narrowed things down by how much equipment I had to carry, and the colors each bag came in, and decided on the Kelly Moore Classic in purple – a beautiful deep eggplant color, and placed my order. Within the first week of using my new bag, I came to this conclusion. I am happy with my decision to scrimp and save for the bag, but I have noticed that now that I have my camera with me all the time, I am so much happier. I feel so much more complete to have my camera with me all the time. Now I don’t feel like I miss out on those special shots, as I just have to reach down and grab the camera, and I am ready to go. I also realized that even if I had not made the decision to save for the bag, my happiness would have been worth every penney. I think I’m putting my old camera bag on Ebay, as I will never use it again.

Now girls if you are sitting on the fence trying to decide on whether to buy this bag, I can tell you I am estatic about mine. It feels good when I carry it. I love feeling that my equipment is protected. Although I never thought I would lengthen the strap enough to use it cross body, I tried it, and I love to carry it that way as well, although for everyday use, I shorten it just a bit and just place it on my shoulder. I also have to admit that I hesitated at first, at the thought that the bag was not made of leather. I understood that the material was choosen to keep the camera from the elements, but I was still hesitant. Upon receiving the bag, my fears were for nothing as the bag looks and feels like it is made of fine leather. The construction is sturdy, and Kelly is right, the bag is stiff enough to stand on it’s own, which I think is a plus as well. The hardware is a beautiful brushed silver. It is a beautiful bag. I still have a problem – I am still eating PB&J sandwiches because I am saving for another bag. Will it be the Kelly Boy or the JuJu, or…..

Check it our for yourself girls, at