Welcome to the Lead Your Best Creative Life interview series! In this series, I feature memory keepers who make time to scrapbook in their busy lives. Each month you will meet a scrapbooker, just like you, and learn how they lead their best creative life.
I hope that this series will help you see that we all our doing our best to scrapbook our memories. It can be hard to prioritize your creative outlets, but you aren’t the only one that struggles with finding time to scrapbook and craft.
This month’s interview is with Jenn Slowik a.k.a. Jennshappyplace. I found Jenn on Instagram at the start of the year via Ali Edwards’ project One Little Word. Jenn’s word this year is “Me” and I think it is awesome that she is focusing back on herself. She is a mother of two and is always working to find balance in life for herself, her passions, and her family.
Read on to learn more about Jenn’s scrapbooking and creative process. She has some great ideas about starting, completing, and stopping projects and has been using some strategies to focus on her creativity every week. Her answers have really helped me sit back to think about my own scrapbooking to-do list.
How long have you been scrapbooking and why did you start?
I was introduced to scrapbooking during a community ed class my mom and I took from a Creative Memories consultant back in the early 90s. A few years later I completed my first project – a gift album for my boyfriend (who later became my husband) all about his house. (It was his first house and he was getting ready to sell it and move from Michigan to Indiana.)
Soon after that we got engaged and in October 1999 we married and I quit my job so I could move to Indiana. One day I stumbled upon a scrapbook store in Indianapolis called Scrapbook Essentials. I remembered how I much I’d enjoyed making the album for my husband and how much he’d liked it so I thought working at a store dedicated to the hobby seemed like fun! The job was really fun and I loved the women I worked with and it also solidified my love of scrapbooking.
Do you find it difficult to keep up with memory keeping?
Yes! Besides the obvious “trying to find time” problem, I have learned over the years that I am not good with projects that are ongoing or projects that are current. I do much better with projects if I have a little (or a lot of) time between the event and when I scrapbook it. I think this is why I’ve never been able to succeed with Project Life albums and also why neither of my daughters had baby albums until they were 7+ years old. Unfortunately I also have a problem completing projects. My daughters are now 15 and 8 and neither one of their baby books are complete.
How do you currently make time for scrapbooking and how often do you scrapbook?
I haven’t scrapbooked much this year because we listed our house for sale in February and I had to put most of my scrapbooking stuff away. The only thing I didn’t pack away was my One Little Word album and some supplies for that. It’s been a chaotic few months but on May 22nd we moved into our new home and I’m excited to get settled and set up my new scrapbook space.
In the past I made time for scrapbooking by dedicating Wednesdays as my scrapbook days. I don’t schedule any appointments, do any housework, meet with any friends, etc. I just create during the day for as long as I can. I’m looking forward to getting back to this habit as well as making more time on the weekends for creating! I think it’s important for my girls to see me taking time to do things that I enjoy like scrapbooking even if it does take time away from them. I’m much happier and a better mom when I do this!
How has your scrapbooking methods changed over the years?
In the past I was a 12×12 scrapbooker, except for mini albums which I loved. I would count how many pictures I had for the page or spread and then look at one of my Becky Higgins’ Creative Sketches books and find a layout I liked that had that many photos and would scraplift that. I also had a binder full of page ideas I’d torn out of scrapbooking magazines organized by the number of photos on the page.
Now I am almost exclusively a pocket scrapbooker. I feel like it’s made scrapbooking a lot easier for me. I’ve always liked clean, straight lines so I think having the pockets fits nicely with that. A couple years ago I started a baby album for my youngest and I decided to use the pocket pages. I feel like it’s all coming together so much faster than my oldest daughter’s baby book.
I think coming up with a set formula for the baby book also helped. For instance, each month has a 6×12 insert with a photo of my daughter and her bear and a list of what she was doing that month. It also includes two Design A protectors with my favorite photos of the month. If it’s a busier month like December I include extra protectors.
This year I started working in the 6×8 size for my One Little Word album. I LOVE it! The small size reminds me of my long-ago love of mini albums. I’m having so much fun with it! I also made a couple different Traveler’s Notebooks last year and they are some of my favorite projects I’ve ever made!
Are there any methods, supplies, or strategies you use to scrapbook more efficiently to be able to finish projects?
I think three main things help me finish projects: planning out projects beforehand, not taking on projects I won’t finish, and giving up projects when I realize they aren’t working for me.
First, I often say that I enjoy the planning part of scrapbooking more than the actual creating. Almost every page I create, I sketch beforehand. I helps me a lot. This is especially true for coming up with a framework for a specific project like my youngest daughter’s baby album.
Second, I’m always wanting to try new projects – Project Life, Traveler’s Notebooks, 12 of 12 by Amy Gretchen, #52favorites by PaperIssues, Week in the Life and One Little Word by Ali Edwards, 100 Days of All About Me by rukristin, etc. I also come up with ideas for albums I want to make my girls or myself all the time, like School of Life albums, Birthday albums, Best Days album, Before There Was You album, Coffee Traveler’s Notebook, Reading Traveler’s Notebook, etc.
Unfortunately there’s just not enough time to do ALL the projects. When I start feeling overwhelmed I like to sit down and make sure I’m spending time on projects that not only are important to me and my story-telling but also projects that I’m having fun with and that I can finish. This often means I don’t participate in things that I see everyone else doing like Week in the Life by Ali Edward. I have to accept the fact that I can’t do it all.
Third, and maybe most important, I have to accept the fact that some projects, no matter how great they sounded when I began or even how much fun I had while creating pages, just aren’t working for me any longer. The big shining example of this for me is Project Life. I have tried Project Life 4 or 5 different years with little to no success. I think the most successful Project Life album had maybe 12 weeks completed. Finally one day I gave myself permission to let Project Life go. I have way too many other projects I want to do to keep feeling guilty about an unfinished project.
Tell me more about your Project Life and why it didn’t work for you.
What is your biggest challenge in scrapbooking right now?
Lack of focus (a.k.a. distractions) and time. It seems I’m always thinking about the projects I want to do and find it hard to decide what to work on. I find myself overwhelmed by all the choices. It helps me to sit down and list out all the projects I want to do. Then, I take a good look at the list and prioritize each project. I like to use my Bullet Journal for this and it’s something I seem to do every few months.
- Favorite scrapbooking tool or product? Tool: Herma dotto repositionable adhesive (ek tools) – I’ve used it for as long as I can remember and love it! Product: phrase stickers – They’re my go-to embellishment.
- Current inspiration that gets your creative juices flowing? One Little Word project/class – It’s my first time taking the class and even though I’m always at least a month behind I am LOVING it!! My favorite month so far was February when we created a vision board. I had so much fun doing it! It was the first time in a long time that it really felt like I was playing. I keep my OLW vision board in my scrapbook area. It encourages me whenever I pass by it. I already have a spot picked out in my new scrapbook space.
- Favorite scrapbooking guru? Ali Edwards – To me the journaling/story is the most important part of my scrapbooks and I think Ali does a great job of sharing her stories. I love that she focuses on specific projects every year but still manages to keep each of them fresh with her journaling and product choices. She has such a clean and simple style and a love of type. I dream of attending her Story Camp!
- Your go-to crafting method or design? I like a clean and simple design, especially pocket pages, mini albums and traveler’s notebooks.
- Something new you’ve recently discovered in the scrapbooking or crafting world? @Shannon_pages on Instagram – I love everything she does and am constantly inspired by her!
Share a recent project that you made – we would love to see!
This is the third year I’ve chosen a word for OLW but the first year I’ve participated in the class. What a big difference in how my word is affecting me! The word I choose for 2018 is Me. I had a stressful 2017 and felt like I lost myself. I was always doing things for everyone else and not prioritizing myself. So this year I’m trying to put myself first (or at least 2nd).
2018 has unexpectedly turned out to be a busy and stressful year with the move but I’m proud of myself for still finding time to focus on me, from as little as buying a Caramel Mocha Latte to spending the night at a hotel by myself scrapbooking. I know that my word and making this album have really changed me!
One of the first things I did after I picked my word was set up a crafty Instagram account – Jenns Happy Place. It’s been a great place to share my OLW album and also just to focus on me and my life, not just my girls. I’ve shared a lot of my OLW album there but also have participated in #thursday3 and other bits and pieces of my life. I love scrolling through my feed and seeing ME!
How are you managing your move and finding a new crafting space?
Any last thoughts for our crafty friends out there who are struggling to prioritize their scrapbooking and creative time?
For many years the only scrapbooking I did was at a weekend crop. I go with a couple of my friends every February and every year I’d come home energized and excited to continue creating. Unfortunately life got in the way and I never figured out how to fit scrapbooking into my real life.
Then a year or two ago I kept hearing on scrapbooking podcasts, especially The Scrap Gals, that I should schedule crafting time into my calendar. Eventually I looked at my week and realized Wednesdays were a pretty slow day for me so I entered “Crafty Time” from 9am to 3pm on my iCal digital calendar. That simple step helped me prioritize scrapbooking and myself.
The key is sticking to your schedule and not letting other distractions get in the way. There will always be dirty dishes, dirty clothes, a dirty bathroom, etc. but the benefits to me of creating far outweigh the importance of a clean house. The amazing thing is that when I sit down on Wednesday to create time flies and before I know it it’s time to pick up my kids. An unexpected bonus has been that once I’ve got my creative juices flowing I find myself trying to make time to get back to my scrapbook table to continue the project later that night, the next day, later in the week, etc.
Thanks again to Jenn for being a part of this series, especially to take part in it while she was moving!! I love that she is aware of what projects she enjoys, what projects she has time for, and others she doesn’t. Knowing what works and doesn’t work for you reminds me to look at my to-do list and what I can do to move forward with scrapbooking projects. I hope you also found some inspiration in her process as well. Let us know in the comments!
If you are interested in participating in the interview series, please contact me here!
See you next month – until then, lead your best creative life today!