Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I have a new scrapbooking toy to play with. For my birthday, Sara got me a mini Smash journal. I had seen them at Archivers but wasn't quite sure what they were all about, nor was I ready to stop and consider yet another potential project.

Until I unwrapped mine.

Smash books, as it turns out, are really cool, and their purpose is actually really practical. They're a catch-all for, basically, whatever you want to use them for. Ticket stubs, random photos, quotes, fortunes, etc. If you're like me and you have piles and drawerfuls and refrigerator-fuls of random little scraps you can't bear to part with but won't carry a 12x12 scrapbook page, Smash books are for you. My book has lined pages, blank pages, graph-paper pages and pages with clever photos, drawings and phrases. (Note the cupcake-themed page, third in the sequence.)

It's a fun, inspiring little album. There's no need for grouping common mementos or arranging things neatly. Just glue it down with the glue stick/pen combo that comes with the book and you're done. Part of the beauty of it is you don't have to agonize over placement or design or color schemes. Just "smash" it in there. There's also a coordinating line of stickers and other accessories to dress up the books that run about $2 each. Click this link to flip through a detailed Smash book catalog:

The best thing about these types of books, though, is that you don't need any particular brand of accessories to fill your book. Just use the miscellaneous tags/stickers/chipboard letters that are cluttering up your supply area. You know, the pieces from kits that just never quite fit with any of your previous scrapping projects. What a great way to finally use up some of that stuff! You don't even need a Smash brand book. You could make this out of just about any notebook or journal.

I spent about an hour after work last night digging through the house and making a pile of scraps for my Smash book. I can see myself making another after I fill this one, because I'll never stop accumulating random stuff.

For  more on building Smash books, watch this video from EKSuccess:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sprinkles cont.

During a busy weekend without much time to scrap, I managed to squeeze in some time to finish the second part of the Sprinkles section of the cupcake crawl book. With this one, I had to cram in a lot of pictures (all vertical or square), but I didn't want the layout to look too cookie-cutter or dull. So I used my circle punches to make the dots Sprinkles uses as its signature cupcake garnishes and as its code for flavors. Running them down either side of the layout gave it the punch (no pun intended!) I was looking for and just kind of brought the whole thing together. The Sprinkles dots reminded me of the design at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. When Sara and I did our scrapbooks from that particular trip, she had the idea to make the dots with the punches, and I copied her. It was her idea that inspired me for Sprinkles, too. Thanks, Sara! :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More ... Sprinkles!

1 trip to Hobby Lobby + 1 50% off scrapbooking sale = 2 3-packs of Tombow refills for $13. Not bad! Best of all was being able to scrap again on Monday night. I polished off the final More layout, which included a trio of shots Sara took of me trying the Bacon Bacon Bacon cupcake, which I ended up hating. I kind of look like I'm enjoying it in the final photo, but I think it was taken before my brain had had a chance to catch up to my tastebuds. When I saw that More specialized in eclectic flavor combinations, I knew I was going to have to try one for the SJ-R story. Bacon Bacon Bacon was the odd choice of the day, so that's what I went with. You can read more about it on my cupcake blog,, but the gist of the story is that the cupcake was top-to-bottom bacon. Bacon in the frosting. Bacon in the cake. Bacon in the brittle garnish. I love bacon, but it needs to stay in its proper place next to the pancakes and eggs.

Upon wrapping up More, I moved on to the first of what will be three double-page Sprinkles Cupcakes layouts. I was looking forward to this one because of all the whimsy and dynamic color that define Sprinkles. On the left-hand side of the first layout, I used a round sheet with a scalloped ring and colorful sprinkles that I took to be cake- and cupcake-related when I picked it up at one of the scrapbooking stores. I used it to frame one of my favorite pictures from the crawl, an overhead shot of the salted caramel cupcake I bought at Sprinkles to take home for a later snack. I didn't sample it for the SJ-R story, instead splitting a cinnamon sugar cupcake wtih Sara for the evaluation. Two photos of that cupcake are included on the right-hand page, along with the vanilla coconut Sara bought as her to-go selection and another photo of some of the cupcakes in the Sprinkles display. I used Ranger brand Liquid Pearls in White Opal to add some oomph to the cream-colored background paper and to evoke the look of frosting.

If I can resist the temptation to eat cupcakes as I'm scrapping them, I'll return to my scrapping room soon and finish out the Sprinkles layouts. It's a good thing glue on my hands makes eating unappealing!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Only lack of adhesive shall stand between me and my scrapping

I struggled a little with the second part of the Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique section of my cupcake crawl album. I had used most of the photos in the first part but had just enough left to warrant a second double-page layout. So I arranged. And rearranged. And rearranged again. I dug up some flower border stickers that were close enough to the Sugar Bliss color scheme that they worked. And I found my first use for a small but adorable cupcake stamp I found at a crafting booth inside the Grandstand at the Illinois State Fair. One thing I love about scrapbooking is that, no matter how challenging a layout might seem, there's always a way to pull it together if you can be resourceful with your supplies. Granted, that's not to say the layout worked in the end -- everything's subjective. I probably could have done better, but I was reasonably happy with the way it turned out. (It's hard to see them in this picture, but the little cupcake stamps run vertically down the left side of the left page and the right side of the right page.)

Then I moved on to More Cupcakes, our third stop on the crawl. It was such a small, minimalist store that I decided to go with a similar type of layout for that shop's two sets of double-page layouts. No patterned paper I had seemed appropriate for the sparseness of More, so I went with solid black for the background and skipped the embellishments. I did use the menu along with several photos, though.

I was in my zone and ready to keep going, but then the worst thing happened to me that can happen to an in-the-groove scrapbooker: I ran out of adhesive. I plan to make a tape run tomorrow, but until then I'll just have to hold my scrapping thoughts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sugar blissfulness

After a long, drowsy day at work and a tough workout, I was thrilled to be able to come home to dinner in the crock pot and extra time to work on the cupcake crawl album. After a quick bite to eat, I retreated to my little corner of heaven here at home and dove into the first half of my Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique layout. Sugar Bliss was the second bakery on the crawl, in the Loop not far from Crumbs.

I loved the atmosphere of Sugar Bliss, a modern shop decorated in shades of blue and brown. The cupcakes themselves were a design element, with their flower-shaped frosting toppers. We had the option of standard-sized cupcakes or miniatures, and the minis were a real plus in light of the lengthy list of stops still to come.

Here's the first part of the Sugar Bliss layout:

With any luck, I'll have the second part posted soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cupcakes + scrapbooking = heaven!

If you're a reader of both my blogs (LaVonne, this is directed at you! :-) ), you might battle with your self-discipline when you see the photos of cupcakes I regularly post on Extreme Cupcaker. And you might, if you have the time, come over to Mandy Scraps for some fat-free, calorie-free relief. Unfortuantely, LaVonne, there's no escape anymore. The cupcake crawl scrapbook is in progress. (Insert evil laugh here)

I know, I know. I'm awful! :-)

After completing several small projects during my staycation last week, I finally decided to start the crawl book. I'm going in chronological order, starting with the first bakery we went to that sweet morning, Crumbs Bake Shop. I ended up with three double-page layouts for Crumbs because I had a lot of pictures from that one, and I had a hard time eliminating. On the first two pages, I coordinated colors to the color scheme of the shop itself -- pale yellow and pale blue. I love scrapping bakeries because they're so whimsical and colorful.

The assortment of cupcakes at Crumbs was photogenic, to say the least. There were so many I wanted to try but couldn't, and that's what these pages were dedicated to -- the ones that got away. :-) It's hard to see from this shot, but some of the featured cupcakes are the grasshopper, cookie dough and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.

The final spread for Crumbs is a pocket page to hold the copy of the menu I picked up and wanted to keep as a souvenir of the store's offerings. I added photos of the cupcakes we actually tried -- the ones that made it into the piece I wrote for the SJ-R. The picture on the right side -- taken in mouthwatering detail by Sara, who is a photographic genius -- is the cookies and cream cupcake we split. The much smaller picture on the left page is the other one we tried -- the milkshake. Sara favored that one, while I was partial to the cookies and cream. (It worked out for the best because we knew who would claim the leftovers -- we needed to save room, after all, so we each took just a few bites from both cupcakes.) The frosting, to me, was the best part of the cookies and cream. It was a scrumptious, generous slather of buttercream. The milkshake was a marble cake with "marble" frosting, meaning a mix of chocolate and vanilla. It was good, but it didn't speak to my tastebuds in quite the same way as the cookies and cream.

I like using the pocket pages. They come in different sizes, patterns and colors, and I can see myself using them quite a bit. Sara was the one who gave me the idea to try a homemade pocket in my 2008 New York album, and it worked out fine, but I still like having the pre-designed pockets.

I'm having so much fun with this album so far. Now that Crumbs is finished, I'm organizing paper, photos and embellishements for the next section, which will be Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique. I need to come up with an intro page for the whole thing, but I tend to leave those for last, when I've established the overall feel of the book. I hope to get rolling on Sugar Bliss this week, and when I finish it, I'll post photos.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tribute to Typo

Over the weekend, I finished the framed memorial to the SJ-R's "adopted" feral cat, Typo, which we hope we'll be able to display somewhere inside the newspaper building. Typo was a special cat, loved by many staffers, and I hope the memorial reflects her spirit and the joy she brought us over the years. I used senior news editor Daron Walker's photo of Typo from the early 2000s for the dominant image, and the smaller photos were sent to me by other employees, some of whom (or maybe all) had taken the shots on their cell phones. Typo, may you recieve all the ear scratches your heart desires in heaven!