Starting anew in 2017: finding momentum

Hi guys, it’s been a while since I’ve updated and I finally got the energy and drive to update today. So massive massive update ahead, but also lots of photos to feast on.

My current status is that I’m officially unemployed for the past 3 months (wow how time flies). I should saw that I’ve been busy looking for a job, but that’s a lie because the time just consists of a lot of waiting. What this means for my art and creativity though is that my life currently consists of no structure, like I’m bobbing along in the great big sea. Since starting blogging, I found that my most productive creative days happen when I’m busy with other tasks, so I am now consciously aware that having momentum allows me to flourish best. Spending 3 months without any sense of structure and time though… not a good environment to be doing art.

Perhaps it’s the idea of a new year, or perhaps it represents the start of a new life as I leave my undergraduate life behind, this year, I’m finding it easier to start something new (fingers crossed I don’t jinx it). Not just something new, but starting anew, as I try for a past me that have disappeared into the wind in the past few years.

I’m taking up planning again, like those student handbooks that you are forced to buy when you are in school. I have to confess that I used to love them though, and each year my handbook get filled up with reminders and homework and crossing outs. It’s nothing fancy of course, but it didn’t matter because it’s functional. I’ve tried to use planners again during my university days, spending the time and effort to search for planners that would suit my needs AND look pretty. It’s not that much of a lost cause, but often times I find myself not using them, and when I try to pick them up again, I found that I actually didn’t like to use them. This time though, I’m heavily inspired by videos of bullet journals I seen (particularly this and this) so I decided to go simple. I had a B5 binder notebook that I used for German note taking so I decided to use that. And with some new inserts, my planner is thus born. What I loved about this (and probably why it worked so well for me), is that I can just throw papers away if I did something wrong or if I didn’t like it, which frees me from a lot of the stress and pressure I put on myself.

There are tabs that came with the notebook that I used to keep section separate, but the main tab that consist of everything to do with planning is a mishmash of things that goes by chronological order (of when I started the page, not so much what’s on it). I found that it doesn’t bother me so much, and it’s actually kind of nice to be flipping the pages back and forth, rather than just staying on one spread for the week and never needing to move away. It’s adds to the illusion of doing something too, because most days I don’t need to spend too much time writing in the planner. A few photos of how my journal looks:

These quotes used to hang on my wall, but I’ve stopped paying attention to them and one could only feature one at a time so I stuck them into my planner instead
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Daily log page where I write down the things I need to do/plans for the day. I don’t use it as often as I should, but when I do it works fabulously to keep me on my (self-designated) tasks
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This gratitude page started out from a monthly challenge prompt and I’ve kept it to see where it would take me. I’m reading a book called “The Happiness Project” which mentioned that gratitude can make one feel happier
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My Habit Tracker page, which is the page I used the most often and turn to the most

I’ve also started a page on tracking my habits and I’m enjoying it so far. I have unfortunately gained (more than) a few bad habits and lost a few good ones, so I’m trying to get back on track by making them visible, and having a chart to mark off each day allows me to track my progress, and reminds me each day of what I have to do the next day/week/month/whatever. Some habits are easier to get back into than others though, like remembering to put apply face cream in the mornings and nights, and others doesn’t seem to get done at all (the habit that read “Post on My Craft Diary once a week” has been there since January). Yet others seem to have mixed success that I can’t seem to achieve consistently, like sleeping early or bathing early. Nonetheless, keeping track of my habits works for me so it’s something I’m sticking with.

A lot of my drive in picking up new habits come from the first piece of artwork I did this year. It’s a reflective piece, in which I think about the things I want to achieve in my life, and the things I want to keep out. It’s almost like my resolutions for the year? Though I’m not sure if it can really be considered resolutions because they are just big and broad aims I have while I’ve distilled them into workable actions that are manifested in my habit tracker. The piece if now hanging on my wall though, and it makes me happy to just look at the piece on the wall, if only because of the colour. Here’s how the piece looks on the wall:

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And here’s how it looks at the background stage plus some details on the layers. As usual, you can click to view an enlarged image.

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collage, paint and drawings

paint, stenciling, drawing, paint splatters

collage, paint, stencilling with gold paint

I may not be doing a lot of art, but it has not been completely bare these past few months. I did go on a few shopping sprees, so I have quite a few additions to my supplies. They’re mostly utilitarian though (like 3 different type of glues or blade refills), though there are some new yummy supplies that I’ve bought to keep that creative spark (mostly the inexpensive stuff like new pens or ink colours). I finally finally bought the set of paper bead roller that I’ve been eyeing ever since this video came out and it makes paper bead making so much easier. I promptly broke in the new tool by making beads out of scrap pieces of paper that has been lying around for years – that’s what I call killing two birds with one stone 😉 Here’s a look at the bead making process:

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Drying the beads after glazing

I’m also trying to reacquaint myself with the Jennibellie’s Journal Workshop community, and have been chatting with the creative peeps there occasionally. I may be very much out of it but it nice to have a place where I can just drop by, some place familiar where I feel comfortable, and Journal Workshop is just the place for those moments. I participated in the last art swap too, and I think it’s been almost two years since I last did an art swap. We made some paper flowers for the swap and I really liked how these turned out, with the embellishments and all. Hopefully my swap partner would like them!

My main project now is my Japan travel journal, which I started in December and then stopped because I got busy during the holidays (Christmas & Chinese New Year). I started picking it up again a couple of days back, and then somehow fiddled with a camera and video setup. In a stroke of brilliance, I found a set up that works, and doesn’t take too much time to set up, though the setup is rather amusing.

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I use a short table as a temporary work for this project, because I bring out a lot of materials that wouldn’t fit on my usual workspace. You can’t see in this photo, but surrounding this table is an arc of supplies and things I would need for the travel journal, with just an empty space in the middle where I can sit down. Because my craft room is also my bedroom, I used my bed to help in the camera setup, and added cardboard boxes and even my pillow to prop up the selfie stick to a appropriate height. Nothing fancy, so hopefully this means that I might take more videos in the future! I also posted a video of a short flipthrough of the parts I worked on these few days on my instagram which you can view below:

A post shared by Wenyi (@nocloudypooh) on

As you can see, I usually go off on a tangent while I do things, even when I have definite plans. But it’s not a bad thing, because it usually end up being productive, like a new burst of energy to do things. While editing this post, the tangent brought me to create a stamp with the My Craft Diary logo, and it’s pretty easy to add to the images, so that’s a success. *Does happy dance* Have been wanting to do this for a while, but I was finding it a drag to learn how to do it. I did it on Photoshop before, but gimp is a little different and I’m not particularly familiar with the programme, so Google was the best way to go. I think that’s all the updates I have for this post, and hopefully, this marks the start of the habit to post on the blog once a week. Thanks for stopping by.

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Ponderings: On taking photos

It’s been a while since I posted. Mostly it’s a combination of not having anything to post/not feeling inclined to post either because they aren’t that nice to be posted, or they are too personal to be posted. Still trying to work my way around the personal part, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s post will be on my thoughts on taking photos. This came about mostly because I just returned from a holiday to Japan a few weeks ago, and made me realise certain things about me taking photos. But first of all, a quasi-quote that I stumbled upon yesterday. Well maybe not yesterday, but I wrote it down in my book-of-things-I-read/heard-that-needs-to-be-written-down, and I came across it again yesterday:

“Take photos of what you love, and you’ll love the photos of what you take”

There were two ways in which this quote struck me.

Of course there is the literal meaning of the quote – that you will love the photos you take, if they are photos of things you love. In a rare moment of non-procrastination, I got started on my travel journal one week after I came back from Japan, which meant that I had to sort through my photos and look for the ones that I want to add to my travel journal. For the first time in a very long time, I could barely find any photos to include in my journal. Which is a shock, because I am usually indecisive in choosing photos, because I like so many of them (yet can’t include them all at the same time), rather than the opposite. It’s not that I didn’t like Japan, but during my travels, I was finding it difficult to really enjoy it and often I had to force myself to enjoy the things around me, rather than letting my heart wander to other places I rather be.

As I look at my photos, it occurred to me that this translated to the photos I’ve taken. I was taking photos to remember the places I’ve been to for mere documenting, not so much because I had strong emotions to the places I’ve been. It came through in the slipshod-ness in which the photos were taken too – photos taken in a rush, just snap and go, rather than focusing on getting the right composition, or checking the photos afterwards to see that you actually got a good shot. Of course it would be a exaggeration to say that I hated the all the photos I’ve taken (though there were some that came pretty darn close, made worse by the photo quality). It was just that I felt more of “oh let’s take a picture of this place just to remind myself I’ve been here” rather than “wow this place is so wonderful I have to take a picture to preserve the memory”. It was really a lesson learnt, on taking the right photos, on spending time, and to immerse in the surroundings. (Though I have to say I’m only 2 days into my travel journal, and perhaps the remaining 7 days or so might prove to be different. I hope.)

The second thing this struck has to do with my daily photo taking habits. I might have mentioned in an earlier post before (I can’t remember), but I struggle with taking daily photos. I like the idea of Project Life, the whole documenting everyday moments, but I find it hard to justify whipping out the camera daily for that purpose. In a way I find it sad that I don’t find my life interesting to be taking photos like that, compared to the people I follow who always have something to document every week, be it just a good meal or a gathering with friends. Sometimes, I even find it hard to find something to scrapbook about, because most memorable moments aren’t crystallised in photos. It’s been an ongoing problem for me so far, when I get the urges to create, but have no idea or nothing to create. Uhm what’s my point in bringing this up? I don’t think there’s a point actually, just that I wanted to bring up what I felt with regards to this. Sigh.

I’m still as passive as ever, and output is pretty much slow or non-existent. Haven’t been absorbing much too, if my backlog of YouTube videos is anything to go by. Have been doing random stuff lately too, and the photo above is just one of them, slapped together within 5 minutes or so before I need to leave for my dental appointment. Despite the short amount of time put into it, I really liked how it turned out though, likely because I really identify with the subject matter. Maybe I’ll talk more about it in a future post. I’m not sure. But it feels good to have the keyboard under my hands and hearing the clacking of keys as I type away.

Until next time.

Ponderings: Having multiple outlets of creativity

After an unintended 2 months long hiatus, I finally feel the drive to be back. There’s not much to say about the hiatus, except that I haven’t done a lot of art during this time, and I hardly wrote anything as well.

Which brings me to the topic at hand: of having multiple outlets of creativity. As you might (or might not) know, I engage in several creative activities: art, writing, music. A friend asked me about the progress in my writing the other day, and I had to embarrassingly admit that I had not made any progress since the last time he read them. It ended up with me lamenting about how I have no idea why I can’t find the energy and drive to write when everything is already vaguely in my head. But then he made an acute observation and link that I never realised: the reason that I didn’t have the creative energy to write is because I’ve been spending all my creative energy for the past 2 months on music.

And he’s quite right. I spent a lot of time thinking about music, on the bus, on the train, walking to the bus stop, any time that I don’t have to focus particularly on anything. It’s like I have this finite creative budget and I spent it all on music, leaving nothing for art or writing. Now that I am aware of my creative budget, I start to consciously spend more time thinking about art and writing, and actively trying to use up a fair portion of that budget. And it’s working, because I have since churned out more writing (if you would include this blog post as well), and I have been catching up on my backlog of YouTube subscriptions.

I still won’t say that I’m back in the full swing of “things”, whatever that might mean. I use to write and do art every single week, but that was during the period when I had little to no focus on music. Right now, I have music practices every week (though that will stop soon when concert is over next Saturday), while I write and art sparingly. I have yet to find a balance on all three of them at the moment, but I think I’m making some headway.

Is spending all my creative budget on one outlet of creativity a bad thing? I would think no. Even though I couldn’t produce anything substantial for my art and writing, I didn’t feel the sense of frustration that comes with a dry spell. It was merely a “I don’t really feel like doing this today even though I know I haven’t done it for a well.. Oh well I’m ok with not doing anything until the next time I feel like doing something.” In fact, it felt great to be buzzing with all these different outlets of creativity, because they somehow feed each other without you having to do anything. I’ll take this anytime over a creativity dry spell.

One interesting thing I noticed about my art is that most of them are done for art sake, rather then for something deeper on an emotional level. Journaling is always an important part of my art journals and scrapbooking, but it’s something I have not really done for these past 2 months. Going directly into art is something I have not experienced in a long time, so I’m embracing it as it comes, and just really enjoy the process of playing around without any specific aim or endpoint in mind.

Here’s two recent art that I did:

One was a painting I did following a step by step guide which I got for free during my last Spotlight shopping trip. I couldn’t follow it completely because I don’t have the brands/colours they suggested, but I tried to mix the colours as best as I could. Another lesson in colour mixing! It’s not a good quality photo because I didn’t have intentions to share it online then so I just haphazardly snapped it and sent it over What’sApp to a friend.

Watercolours on watercolour paper

Second is an unpolished quick sketch I did on my phone yesterday, just because I felt like it. Took me about 15 minutes to do it, barely any time taken out of my day but it turned out great anyway (at least to me). Haven done any digital sketching for a while and I was very pleased that I even did something at all.

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I hope you enjoyed this little update and chat on creativity budget. Now that I learnt something about my creative process, it becomes easier to work with it rather than work against it. In case you are wondering, I’m going to post my monthly Instagram updates pretty soon, though as I’ve said, there wasn’t much arty stuff going around these past few months.

It’s 2016! And a New Year exercise

Happy New Year to the lovely folks that read my blog! So many things happened in 2015, many of which I was glad it happened. For my crafty life, it has included new supplies (I’ll talk more on this on my December Instagram review post), a new storage shelf, lots of art and art journaling and finally taking up scrapbooking. It makes me pleased to know the great amount of art I did in the past year, even as school gets more hectic and I hope that I can continue to make this much art in the year ahead. In other news, I have been making huge progress in clearing my photos backlog: digital sorting of photos, uploading photos to Facebook, and printing them out. Of course it’s not all completed, but at least I manage to settle years of photo backlog in the last month.

I spent New Year’s Eve at home with my family and boyfriend and I had this sudden idea for a New Year exercise that my boyfriend and I embarked on. We spent about a couple of hours making each other a New Year card, and wrote out messages for each other. I felt that this was a very meaningful exercise, because at the brink of New Year, these messages tells tales of the year past and also hopes for the year beyond. New Year may be an arbitrary delimitation of beginnings and ends, but it’s still a good excuse to reflect on the past year and make wishes for the new one. Perhaps this is one exercise that I will continue to do year after year.

I have yet to make any New Year Resolutions. Still thinking about manageable ones and also nothing much comes to mind. Nevertheless, I hope that the year will bring everyone closer to their dreams and wishes for the future!

Ponderings: Thoughts

The year is ending once again! How time flies. And I have barely achieved anything within this month. I must apologise for my absence, real life distractions aside (relatives visiting), I really didn’t feel very motivated or inspired to do anything craft related. Well, I did do something, but it isn’t a lot considering that I have so much free time this holiday.

It’s hard to explain why I don’t feel motivated. It’s not as if I don’t have any idea of what to do. At the very least I actually have plans for several blog post that I have not started on. I have a lot of new supplies, bought and gifted by friends but I haven’t actually broke into all of them yet. So I’m in some sort of limbo where I absolutely don’t feel like doing anything at all.. which luckily I manage to get myself out of today.

I don’t usually try to fight my lack of inspiration/motivation, because they usually end up being terribly frustrating, particularly if they have anything to do with creativity. Not everyone might agree with me, but I rather do nothing than to do something so halfheartedly that I absolutely dislike it.

Once again, I turn to art journaling at its very basic to help me organise my thoughts and feelings. Here is a page I did just before I started writing this post:

Dreams and envy

All I did was to stick down a journaling card where I could journal onto a pre-made background, stamp the title and my page is complete. This is something simple that I always fall back on, because for me, journaling is the easiest and most convenient way of letting everything out. You find that I have a preference for tone-on-tone jounaling, such that the words don’t stand out too much. For me the process of journaling is more important than the actual words I write so I like to keep them barely visible, but still readable if I ever want to read them again. It is my most fail-safe method that I can turn to without too much effort.

Well that’s all for the ponderings today. The New Year is coming and while it is arbitrary, I still find it a good way to start on a new slate. Also, here’s a quote that resonated with me a lot when I was listening to a podcast: “Failure is not the same as something ending. It feels like you are the one at fault but sometimes, things come to an end because they should come to an end. We may not be ready for it, but it’s not the same as failure.” (not word for word, but it’s along those lines). These are very powerful words, and gave me a lot of food for thought, especially the part about things ending because they should and have to. Hope it gave you something to chew on as well.

Ponderings: What to buy for your craft room?

(Warning: another long post ahead)

As a crafter, I think all of us are to some extent, obsessed with supplies and buying stuff that we can use in our craft room. Not too surprising actually, seeing that the craft industry does so much marketing, and new products are released more than once a year. So amidst all these new release of products and all, how do you know what is the right thing for you to buy? For me, I always want to get the most out of my money, be it spending the least money on what I buy, or making the item I buy worth it through the amount of usage. Here, I’ll share some tips that I have as I reflect from my own experience in crafty shopping.

Continue reading Ponderings: What to buy for your craft room?

Currently…

A collection of small things I want to share. 

Writing down notes from magazine articles.
I borrowed 3 magazines from the library: Artful Blogging, frieze, and Geographical. I have started reading the first two and while reading I have also been making notes, be it tips, quotes or reflections. I feel that writing down notes help me digest the information more, and crystallises what I read into my brain, which also makes reading all the more meaningful.

Immersing in my creative self.
Doing bits of art every now and then, starting and stopping. Basically just going about doing whatever comes into my mind at the moment, and putting aside plans. I have taken out my Creative Handbook once again (free download by Amy Tangerine) and the small scale of the handbook is perfect for my start and stop way of working right now. Finally have the time too to take the online classes that I have previously purchased but haven’t had the time to look at them. I am hoping to add more to the blog this holidays too while I have the time to do so.

Writing my fanfiction.
Have started to write stories for my fanfiction account again, after a short hiatus before the exams. I like it when the words/stories flows and when I get excited about my stories/characters. It’s like the feeling of loving your art but more than that because it’s like living through the story/characters when you write them.

One recent work of art.Boy with a hat

This was inspired by a simple magazine image I saw. I was intrigued by how simple the hands looked in that image (the portion where the boy holds the hat) and decided to give it a try because it looked so simple. I always had an aversion to drawing hands, because I never seem to do it right, or know how to do it. (See this previous work where I avoided drawing real hands.) So I was pleasantly pleased to find that I could actually draw hands if I really focus on it, and by using my hands as a model. This is also the first time I drew a boy; I have always been drawing girls in my journal but I felt that a boy works better with the hat lifting. If there is something that you have been avoiding, maybe now is a good time to try! You never know if it might work out if you put your heart into it.

Quotes I’ve read.

“The world is full of people who are as confused and inspired by our strange and wonderful planet as you and I, and have responded to it in endless creative ways.”

Read this in frieze, one of the magazine I borrowed. It’s been great to find the online community of crafters and to be inspired by the many creative things others do. I feel fortunate that I have taken the leap of faith, and to follow my heart in seeking art once again.

Hope you like this short sharing. A little hard to keep on task this couple of days because we have relatives visiting and staying for a week. But at least it’s always lively around the house when there are more people around (:

Ponderings: Staying “on task”

(Warning: long post ahead)

I was sorting out my photos recently, in an attempt to keep my photos in order and clear my backlog of photos. I have left most of my photos unsorted since last year when I went on exchange, and what was on my computer was just folders and folders of photos as I continually import them from my camera, but did nothing more than that. I have also been neglecting photo printings for years; since 2012 to be exact so that’s a really long time.

There’s a lot of reason why I haven been “on task” with my photos: a mental block that it takes a lot of effort to settle them all, even more effort require to pick out photos and send them for printing, taking too much photos, not being able to find a good photo printer service, not having a system that works the way I want it to. Right now though, I know that some of these are false, or that the problem has been solved. Or sometimes, all it needs is a sudden motivation that brings you to settle them all. In my case, it was a really good deal for photo printing during this holiday season, hence I wanted to get it over and done with while saving money in the process.

Here’s what I’ve learnt these past few years from my photos problem:  Continue reading Ponderings: Staying “on task”

Ponderings: Frequency of blog posts

I don’t have a regular posting schedule for my blog. Sometimes I post several at a go (staggered over days) and sometimes I go without any posting for longer than a week. It really depends on how things are like, and if I have anything to post in the first place.

One reason why I don’t have a regular posting schedule is because it gives me stress. I am still in school and we already have many deadlines set from all the different classes. Having a regular posting schedule adds to that long list of deadlines and gives me unnecessary stress, especially if I cannot meet them. I need to be honest with myself too, because posting on the blog is definitely lower on the priority list. And that is also the practical way to go, because I don’t want to jeopardise my studies for my hobby – it’s a serious mark of ineffective time management.

And so I post on the lull days, days when I allow myself to rest after all the assignments are submitted or when a series of hectic school days have come to an end. That of course depends on my assignment deadlines, thus a seemingly erratic posting schedule on my blog.

Sometimes though, I don’t really have anything to blog about, because I haven’t got time to do any creative work. I then spend my lull time creating. I mentioned in a previous post about finding challenges an easy way to kick start my creative work, and this is partly because I need to do something within a short period of time.

Sometimes, nothing gets done because I don’t feel like doing anything at all. I’m not sure if this is common with other people, because this happens to me only rather recently. Like, I never had the problem of absolutely not wanting to do anything when I was younger. I was told that this is mental fatigue, and it occurs more frequently than I would have like. In days like this, I just don’t do anything productive. It’s a very strong negative emotion, being turned off from doing things, and it also doesn’t feel appropriate to blog with that kind of emotions because this blog is my happy place. A lot of what I say are fueled by my emotions and I don’t want to channel negativity into my blog or perhaps worse, if they might get channeled to the people who reads them too. It’s just against my philosophy.

So yeah, that basically sums up why I post the way I do. I’m still not sure exactly which is better – to post regularly or to post whenever I feel like it/have something to post. I know of bloggers who do both, and right now I am leaning towards the latter because I’m more comfortable with it. Ponderings is born out of this too, because when there isn’t anything arty to share, there will still be things related to creativity to talk about.

A longish blog post, but written in response to the terrible week of deadline that is incoming (as I type this on Sunday). Hoping that the week will pass without too much pain. Hopefully, I am well enough to be back when the week is over. Till then, hope you manage to keep sane too.

How I usually scrapbook

I thought I’ll talk a bit about my scrapbooking process after the last scrapbook layout I posted. I usually decide what to scrapbook by choosing a particular event/theme and then choosing the photos. Some times I’ll just print some photos that I know I want to scrapbook some day, so they all go into a small file of my scrapbook stuff, where I keep the things I want to scrapbook. There aren’t a lot of photos in there, because I find it hard to keep track and I don’t want to waste by printing photos if I’m not sure I want to scrapbook them or I’m not sure when I will scrapbook them. Many other scrapbookers  also recommend printing out photos in advance which really facilitates the scrapbooking process (see: Amy Tangerine and Shimelle which unfortunately I can’t find the link again).

I like to sit on my scrapbook pages, and spread out the work across several sessions. On the first time, I would pull out the background paper that would make the photos, and then I’ll try to imagine how I want the photos to appear. I’ll also pull out matching papers to mat the photos if I want the photos to be matted. If I still have energy left after all the decision making process (picking the best paper(s) is hard and tiring!), I’ll think of where I want the title to be, and then look around my alphabet stickers stash to see if any of them work for the layout. Sometimes, they don’t work at all, and I’ll have to think of alternative forms of titling, so I’ll leave them be for the next time I look at the layout again.

The second time, I’ll put down the title. Especially if they are not stickers I would need to work on that e.g. drawing out the title and cutting them out, hand stitching or painting them. If I paint my title, I would practice a few times on a piece of scrap paper, to get used to how I would paint them and work out the size of my title. The scrap paper then become my reference when I actually put paint onto the page.

On the last setting, I’ll work out the embellishments and the journaling. I like to work out where to place all my embellishments first before I start to journal, though the journal spot would have already been planned out. For embellishments I’ll just go to my stash and pull out things that I think might work with the layout. I only use a couple of the things I pull out. Sometimes, I will feel like it needs something particular that I don’t have it store bought, so I will make my own. Usually these would be like frames, enamel embellishments or something round. Occasionally these might be layout specific embellishments like the volleyball I created for this layout here. Once I’m happy with how everything looks, I will then stick everything done and the layout is now complete!

I don’t arrange my scrapbook pages chronologically by when they happen, but just chronologically by when I scrapbook them. So there isn’t a clear order in my albums. It works better for me this way, and also its less work. My journaling style is more reflective rather than descriptive of the event so it doesn’t matter too much. This also frees me to scrapbook whatever that comes to mind rather than follow any specific order!

Hope you enjoyed this little sharing on how I scrapbook.