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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's here!

Scrapbook Workshop is available on Amazon right here!

It's edited by the talented May Flaum and has lots of fun techniques from a lot of my favorite bloggers--and some new bloggers I was delighted to discover! This was fun to contribute to, and I hope you enjoy it:)

Back soon with a tall stack of layouts!

Monday, August 29, 2011

A trip down memory lane.....

I realized the other day that I have a few layouts I created a loooooong time ago that I never got around to sharing. It's always fun (sometimes in a "what was I thinking???" kind of way!) to look back on old layouts.

This first one was created for the Ella Publishing blog, using a photograph by the fabulous Alexis Hardy. If you can't tell already, it was for a purple theme blog post:)

Looking back on it now, I love the simple design and the mix of alphas in the title. I would maybe add more detail now, or switch out the purple alphas for something that stands out against the background more, but I love this the way it is and I'm glad I have it.

Next up is a layout made on my two year anniversary. I would probably frame the border of the layout by stitching or framing it, but I do love the mix of photos and color combos! (another Alexis Hardy photo in here. I got a lot of mileage out of that photo shoot:))

This next one is really old, because the baby being photographed now walks everywhere and talks up a storm!

I love the bright colors and circles, not sure I'd change anything.

One of the funny things about looking at old layouts of your own is thinking about "style." I have a hard time describing my own style. From what I've heard from others, it's simple--I know this based on the fact that sometimes I make what I think is a super-complicated page, only to get tons of comments like "what a great simple layout!" I'd like to think it's whimsical, colorful, and "happy." At least on a good day:) Thoughts?

How would you describe YOUR style?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Birthday Bonanza!

This past Wednesday was my 26th birthday--and while I meant to share about it earlier, life has been keeping me busy! So here's a better-late-than-never birthday recap!

I'm a big birthday person. Not in the "I need a huge dinner with all of my friends and family" kind of way, but more like "let's load up lots of sweet little things and end up with an extra-fabulous normal day."

I woke up after S left the house (not the typical course of events, but someone very small was keeping me up all night already!) and found little notes he had left me around the house, along with this giant bag:

I was VERY tempted to open it right then and there, but decided to wait to open it with S:)

After a day of work (along with lots of fun birthday calls and emails), I did some shopping in midtown, serendipitously found the pair of tan pointy-toe flats I've been searching for for eons, and met S for dinner.

We headed to Va Bene, a fancy dairy restaurant on the Upper East Side. They have a private curtained off area in the back where we usually sit, and everything is delicious, from the bread basket (including focaccia with bruschetta on it--yum) to the dessert menu.

This one's a bit dark (thanks to the mood lighting and all), but I'm a huge creme brulee fan!

(ignore the weird smile in this photo. Not sure what's happening there?)

When we got home, I finally opened that giant bag and found this little lovely inside:

It's a camera bag from Cheeky Lime that I fell in love with months ago and emailed to S for future reference. I had forgotten all about it and was thrilled to find it in my house!
You can't see it so clearly in this photo, but the bag comes with an adorable pink camera charm--right up my alley:)

I also came home to an envelope from my family, complete with a scrapbook layout made by my little sister in honor of my birthday! It was pretty much the sweetest thing ever and between that and the hormones, I was very weepy:)

And of course, I can't forget the other birthday gifts I got this year! Even at the beginning of the summer, I would have never dreamed that i'd be 15 weeks along for this birthday. Along with S, my family, and health and happiness I'm a lucky birthday girl indeed.

So tell me, what was the best birthday gift YOU ever got? (or any gift, for that matter!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Elle's Studio August Layouts!

The Elle's Studio August Inspiration Gallery is live, and I'm having so much fun checking out all the layouts! (This is also helpful procrastination for avoiding a trip to the bank, since I HATE going to the bank. Unclear why, but I do!)

Most of my layouts were created over the past few months and saved up for when I could share about the babes (who we call "bunny" for now).

For my first layout, I loved using my favorite sheet of Sassafrass paper for the background, and I added a lot of bits and pieces that I love!

This one is about my feelings at reaching 12 weeks, and my overwhelming gratitude that day (and then the next day my due date was moved so I wasn't actually 12 weeks quite yet, but nevermind:))

I used Studio Calico butterfly rub-ons and punched kraft butterflies,

and added the camera sticker I've been hoarding for a few months now:)

I added some of my favorite Elle's Studio products, like the Handmade Layers pennants and the month tag from the Savoring Summer kit.

This next layout is the title of the pregnancy album. It's also the explanation for Why I Need To Have A Girl, since this was my attempt at being gender neutral. Oy.

Can you see my attempt at masculinity with the blue star and little boy rub-on? Ha!

This was my first baby layout, about how I was feeling at 5 weeks, very shortly after I found out. I might have gotten a little over-excited with the misting, but I love the soft colors and the memories it contains.

So there you have it--my August Elle's layouts! Be sure to check out the rest of the gallery right here.

Also, Elle's is having a moving sale going on right now! Information can be found right here. While you go shopping, I'm going to run around and take care of errands so that I can party it up for my birthday tomorrow! Yay!

Question for ya: Have YOU tried Elle's Studio products yet? Either way, what catches your eye the most? (this is not a survey, btw. I'm just too curious for my own good:))

Friday, August 19, 2011


I have to tell you I'm a SO glad I finally spilled the beans:)

First off--thank you for all of your love and kindness. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I read each comment more than once and I was so touched. People may comment on "online friends," but I have no doubt that there's a lot of real love and compassion out here on the Net.

And now I'm very excited to be able to share what I've been thinking about for the past 3 months! Not to mention the approximately 8 billion baby layouts I've created around my assignments:) (Not to worry though, this won't be one of those baby only blogs! I always like to keep a mix:)) But for today, there's just a little more baby stuff ahead.

Back on June 2, I went to the city early to take a blood test and find out if our treatment had been successful. Later on that day, I was on the train home when my doctor called and asked if I was sitting down. If you were one of the people looking at me, annoyed, while I shouted "Are you sure? Are you sure?" repeatedly into my cell phone, then now you know why! I waited to tell S in person when he got home that night.

I set the table up all nice: (Although, in my first official act as a pregnant woman, I neglected to make dinner!)

And made a little card with the relevant information inside.

I got some donuts to celebrate (because what's a celebration without donuts, right?):

And after he stopped saying "No, you're not!" and "Are you sure?" repeatedly, we took some happy self-portraits:

It was one of the most special days of my life. After two years, 8 Clomid cycles, countless injections and mountains of pills, my dream was now my reality. It took a while to sink in, and there are days now where it still doesn't feel real.

After one of my first ultrasounds, I created the layout below. One of the things that surprised (and scared) me about pregnancy was how much I loved this particular baby, and not just the fact that I was having a baby.

This scares me because when you love someone, especially when that someone is a 5-weeks-along fetus, the potential for loss is absolutely terrifying. I'm so grateful to be at 14 weeks right now and still pray constantly for a healthy baby in February.

I love this layout, because it's basically my heart bled out on paper. And thank you all again for being part of this continuing journey with me!

And a scrappy question for you: What's your favorite aspect of YOUR OWN work?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It's the LITTLE things in life....

If you know me well, you know that I adore the little things in life. (In fact, I have to occasionally remind myself that life does not revolve around delicious snacks and sunny days. But they're a definite plus:))

I love iced lattes (especially kosher versions of frappucinos!) on crazy hot days . . . .

and fun experiments with leftover pie dough.

I love my (waaaaay too big) collection of body butters . . . .

and boxes of yummy new scrap supplies.

And lately, there's one particular little thing that's making me extra happy:)

Need a hint?

It should be here in about 6 months:)

Hodu LaHashem ki tov, ki liolam chasdo--Thank G-d for He is good, His kindness lasts forever

Monday, August 15, 2011

Last Creative Journey installment for a while.....

I have been so enjoying reading everyone's thoughts about the creative journey posts. My purpose in organizing this series was to remind everyone (myself included) that most experiences in the industry aren't a straight, quick shoot to the top. Instead, the roads are long and windy and fraught with self-doubt and rejection. But don't let that stop you, because it doesn't mean that you aren't good enough. It just doesn't.

Today, I'm going to share a few of my thoughts about this topic. I hope to get another set of guests on in a month or two to continue--if you know someone who would fit or are interested in being profiled yourself, email me and let me know! So excuse me while I interview myself!

So Keshet, tell us about your scrapbooking journey.....

When I first started scrapbooking, it was when I discovered a bag of Creative Memories product in my basement. Even though I've moved away from Creative Memories since then, I'm so glad I started that way, because it was a narrow universe of scrapbooking and not too overwhelming. The first time I saw a "mainstream" scrapbook layout in a magazine, I was actually horrified--there were dozens of flowers, one photo, and nary a mention of which baby the layout was about! Despite my initial reaction, I slowly began using traditional products in my Creative Memories albums and mixing up my techniques.

I scrapbooked on vacations only in high school and college, even though I read magazines here and there and wished I could spend more time with my stash! For about 8 years, I didn't even know the online scrapbooking world existed, let alone have any aspirations to submit to magazines, etc. When I moved to New Jersey and didn't have scrapbook stores close by, I discovered online stores like Two Peas, and through that discovered message board forums and blogs. I also joined Studio Calico as a subscriber, which introduced me to a whole community of savvy online scrappers.

As soon as I found out there was free scrapbook stuff to be had out there, I was hooked--ha! I began submitting to magazines and was really upset when my first submissions were not picked up. I also still remember my first two design team rejections and how much they hurt. Over time, I started investing less emotions in the trying, waiting to get excited if I actually got accepted to the team. After at least 6 months, I had a layout accepted in Scrapbook Trends, and after about a year of trying I made my first design team. A few months after that, I had a crazy two week period when I got four teams. The fact that I get to work with such fantastic companies and people is still surreal to me, and I feel very grateful for it.

Well, that's very nice Keshet. But do you have any actual ADVICE for people??

Advice--that's the key part, huh? I don't feel very qualified to give advice (that's why I got GUESTS for this, people!), but here goes.

1. Don't give upLink
As you know from my last post, I'm on the Elle's Studio team. I usually make my gallery layouts without realizing it, that's how much I love her products. What you may not know is that this was my fourth time applying for the team. Yep, you heard right--fourth. I almost didn't apply this last time thinking that it was a lost cause, but I figured if I still loved her products (which I do), I wasn't going to let fear of rejection stop me. I read the email about 200 times to make sure it wasn't a mistake:) It just goes to show--you really never know when your chance will come.

2. Be a good marketer

To matter how lovely a layout is, an editor won't search for its inner beauty behind a dark and grainy photograph. Try to take the best photos you can of your projects to show them off! (And Gabrielle, I'm planning a tutorial on photographing layouts to answer your question!)

3. Do what you love and love what you do

Try not to worry about if your layouts are "good" and REALLY really don't compare your work to others! Just create things you love, pour your heart into them, and the rest will fall into place over time.

And there you have it--my take on the creative journey. You can also find more information on publications and design team advice on this post and this post.

If there's ONE QUESTION you could ask about publications/design teams/"the industry," what would it be??

Sunday, August 14, 2011

We have a WEEEEENER!

Sorry for the slight delay, everyone--recovering from a short illness bout + unpacking and repacking about five times in the same week. Ugh.

The random.org number was 6, and the Elle's Studio winner is....... Christina!

Christina said...

Fun giveaway-I've been wanting to try out some Elle's products!!

Christina, shoot me an email at keshet.starr@gmail.com!

Hope you all had a great weekend and can't wait to sneak back in here real soon with some scrappy and life posts!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Elle's Studio Spotlight--and a Giveaway!

Thanks for all of your sweet comments on my last post--it's always a little daunting putting raw emotions out on the blogosphere, but your equally heartfelt comments back make it so worthwhile. So thank you again, so much:)

Today, I'm the Spotlight DT gal over at the Elle's Studio blog!

Here's a little sneaky-peeky at the layout I created for today's post:

And to spice things up, I'm giving away my three favorite Elle's Studio items! They are the Pieces of Life note tags, Owl Love You Forever Scalloped circle tags, and Handmade Layers Date/Place strips!

Simple leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner on Friday! (And if you want to have mercy on me, please leave contact info as well:))

Pop over to the Elle's Studio blog for another chance to win!

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A day of mourning

Warning: a bit of a heavy post ahead.

I love to write about Jewish holidays and events on this blog--it helps remind ME what the essence of the holiday is, and I love that it gives you all insight into a world that can be hard to understand from the outside.

Today is the saddest day of the year in Judaism. It's the day that the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed thousands of years ago, and it's also the day when we mourn all of the tragedies that have happened to the Jewish people since then. We call it Tisha B'av. We fast and we don't shower and we sit on the floor. It's a hard day, but an important one.

When you think about it, there's this thread of tragedy and intensity in the world that we (or at least I) mostly ignore. You hear about a sudden death or an awful tragedy and while you're shaken for a moment, you go on with your life, worrying about what to make for dinner and if your shoes clash with your top. Tisha B'Av is a day to see the unseeable, to take the unbearable and force yourself to stare it in the face. It's a day when we realize this beautiful world is also a place of unspeakable darkness sometimes.

But what's the point of all this depressing sadness? According to the rabbis, there are two kinds of sadness--the kind that cripples you, and the kind that motivates you. I try to use this day to widen my perspective, to realize there are bigger things going on in the world than me and my concerns. I'm in a world filled with too much darkness, and it's my job to create as much light as I possibly can.

So today, I'm thinking of the Fogel family of Itamar, Leiby Kletzky, Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, the boys killed in the Mercaz Harav shooting, the victims of 9-11, and all of the people who were killed in the Holocaust, including many of my family members. I'm thinking of a girl my grandmother once told me about, who was so desperate to escape the horrifying reality of Auschwitz that she kept her head in a novel, all the way to the gas chambers. And I'm also thinking of all the work there is to be done, and all of the opportunities for good I can seize as long as I look outside of myself.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Creative Journey on with me!

Happy Monday! I hope this Monday finds you well and happy and looking forward to a good week! (And if not, Friday isn't THAT far away, right?)

Today, the Creative Journey series is continuing with a fascinating story shared by Laura Craigie!

Laura is one talented lady, and I loved what she shared about her experience in the industry:

I really got into scapbooking when I got pregnant with my first son in 2004. My mom had attended a beginner’s class at the LSS, and I decided to give that a go too. I knew right away that I loved it, but also knew that I wanted to do it differently than the basic way they taught. So I sought out ideas on the net. I stumbled across many sites, but always came back to Two Peas in a Bucket as my “home” for all things scrapbooking. It was there I discovered the Pub board and added the task of becoming published and making a big Design Team to my ever evolving and growing life list (Aka Bucket list, but I’m not a fan of that name.. lol). I really wanted to see my kids in a magazine! We are also a smaller one income family and I do not have a large budget for craft supplies, so the idea of designing for a company for product sounded like a dream come true.
In the beginning I tried out for so many things, and would get so incredibly discouraged. I ate quite a bit of consolation chocolate those days... ;)
Now with the bonus of hindsight I can see that my work was just not up to par. I gave up submitting for publication, but eventually I did land a kit club design team which really helped me to grow. It was doing that when I really started to dabble in card making. The smaller canvas just seemed so much easier to work with for me, and on the advice of a friend I tried submitting again, this time with cards. My first month I got 4 cards picked up! I was so incredibly shocked, and delighted. I kept at it, was getting published monthly, and soon was making cards almost exclusively.
Making cards has opened many doors for me, the biggest are that I now design cards for both Cosmo Cricket, and Two Peas in a Bucket. I want to note that with Cosmo Cricket I was short listed the year before I made their team and was quite disappointed. So I made it my mission to better my work over the next year, and to get published with their product so when their next call rolled around I had more to show. It worked, as I made the team that next year, and 2 yrs later I am still designing for them. I think working hard for what you want is imperative in life in general, but definitely applies itself to this industry too.
Laura is spot-on about the working hard part. And the "consolation chocolate"--not that I have experience with that or anything:)

Laura also shared some advice with us:

I guess this is the part where I should offer some sage advice or something... ;) Which sadly I don’t have, but I can tell you what I think works for me.
I don’t create for calls, I just can’t get inspired by that… I just make what I love and if it fits, great! If not, I just don’t submit. I think it also helps to know the magazines a bit too and what they are looking for. I know personally I tend to get more “love” from one mag. than another so I don’t spend as much time submitting to the other anymore. Another odd publishing thing is that the projects you really love will sometimes get passed for something you might not have even bothered submitting. Even after a few years at the game I can never tell what will get picked up and what will not. It makes me scratch my head and laugh sometimes, so really, try not to take it personally
Photography is really important… Whenever you can, shoot in natural light, I photograph my projects on a kitchen table with lots of window light from multiple angles. Every image gets a quick edit in photoshop where I adjust the color balance, brighten, crop, resize, and sharpen. If you don’t have photoshop, you can do all of this for free by using a program like Picnik.
Even though I can sometimes be terrible at updating it, I think maintaining a blog is a good idea, you never know who might stumble upon it! Truth be told, I’ve had work requested a few times that I never even submitted, but was seen on my blog. It does happen :) Also, if you have a favorite manufacturer let them know you are out there. If they have a Flickr gallery, Facebook page, blog challenges, etc, submit to it! It can’t hurt.
Lastly, I’m pretty much an open book if anyone has any questions, let me know. I’m certainly no expert, but if I can help anyone with anything I would love to!

Thanks, Laura! I've asked her questions in the past, and she really is as sweet and helpful as she sounds:)

Here's one of Laura's classically stunning cards:

I live in beautiful B.C. Canada with my Husband (Andrew), and I am a stay at home mom to our three boys Isaiah (6), Griffin (4), and Everett (8months). When not paper crafting I love to sew, read, write, and just spend time with my boys. I'm addicted to Pride and Prejudice (movies and book), Pinterest, Bubble Tea, and chocolate covered gummy bears. Or heck, anything covered in chocolate, except black licorice. That's just gross. I have been published in CARDS magazine, Scrapbook Trends, Paper Crafts, Scrapbooks & Cards, and Scrapbooks Etc. I currently design for Cosmo Cricket and Two Peas in a Bucket.

Well, thanks for joining me for another edition of the blog series! A question for you--is there something you'd like to see in this blog series and haven't seen yet?

Friday, August 5, 2011


Well, I really should be eating lunch right now, but I'm a little full from sampling the cinnamon buns I made this morning:) Which just goes to show you the blessing/curse of twitter: thanks to Jenni's photos of her cinnamon buns earlier this week, I couldn't help but whip up my own batch!

So instead of eating nourishing food, I bring you a new layout!

I created this for Donna Jannuzzi's Stretch your Sketches series on the Ella blog! Check out the blog regularly to see more sketches and interpretations!

Here's the original sketch:

And here's what I did with it:

I switched out several of the photos for patterned paper blocks, and added little embellishments. Papers + embellishments are from the Lawn Party Studio Calico kit! The photos are from an impomptu dance party I staged with S and my sister, Riki, in order to practice my shutter speed skills:) As you can see, they were very enthusiastic participants!

I hope you're all having a wonderful, happy Friday! I'm running off to finish my 12,465 item long to do list (as is the case on all Fridays--luckily one of the items is "buy donuts"! Ha!)

And since I'm always looking for more dessert ideas (May that continue for the rest of my life--amen.) can YOU tell me your favorite dessert?

(Oh, and PS--make sure to come here on Wednesday for a fabulous giveaway!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WCS August gallery--no photos!

The August gallery is up at Write.Click.Scrapbook, and the theme was a bit of a toughie--no photos!

I kind of "cheated" and used this house shaped packaging from Crate Paper's Neighborhood trim as a focal point instead of a photo.

For this layout, I wrote about my experience of moving around and looking for home.

If you can't read the journaling, it says this: As a kid, I lived in Israel, Hong Kong, Hawaii and Ohio. As an adult, in Michigan, Philly, and New Jersey. After growing up all over the place, I badly want to put down roots in one spot and stay there. Which puts a lot of pressure on the "where to live” decision!
We’re hoping Elizabeth will be “home” for the long run.

And if you check the layout in the gallery, you can also learn Fun Facts about me and the rest of the WCS team!

Make sure you stop by the gallery and see what everyone has created!

Question--Where is home for YOU? Is it a temporary spot, or a long-term home for you?

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Creative Journey continues!

Happy Monday, everyone! Thanks for coming back to read more about creative journeys with me. Today's guest is the funny and talented Christa Pastenbaugh! I loved reading what she had to say.

I started actual scrapbooking (i.e. beyond collages!) when I was invited to my first Creative Memories party back in 1998. I went as a way to get to know fellow Marine Corps wives, and I'm so glad I did! I scrapbooked off and on until I had Ella (baby #2) and bought Cathy Zielske’s first book, Clean and Simple. After that, I was a changed scrapper!
I joined a kit club and saw what the designers were doing with the product and was very intrigued. I loved how they looked at paper and embellishments a little differently and I wanted to venture down that road as well. It was around that time that I began subscribing to scrapbook magazines as well and looked, really looked at what was being published. So, after many, many, many submissions over many, many months, and many, many, many rejections I finally got a layout picked up in November 2009, with of all magazines--Scrapbooks, Etc! I couldn’t believe it. That seemed to get the ball rolling and I started getting submission requests regularly from Scrapbook Trends, Creating Keepsakes and more from Scrapbooks, Etc. too. And I am forever grateful for each and every one of those.
Even after getting work published on a semi-regular basis, I still go through “dry” spells if you will. For example, I’m in one right now. I have had less than a handful of requests over the last few months, but that’s how things go in this industry I think. Things ebb and flow, but I don’t stop submitting. One of the difficult pieces for me is that I’m not technique-y and often fall into the trap of thinking that I have nothing to offer. I always have to remind myself that I have my stories to offer and if that isn’t enough, then so be it. I create for me and this is just a nice side effect from it!

Christa also had some great advice for people who are trying to submit:

I don’t feel like I’m one who is overly qualified to give advice on getting published and making a name for yourself in the industry, but here goes. Keep submitting. I know, people hear this all the time, but you never know exactly what the editors are looking for at any given time for an article. Layouts I think are great go without ever getting picked up, while others that I nearly don’t submit sometimes do get picked up--you just never know! I also submit the same layout several times because what might not work for one article, may work for one another month.
And submit a lot. When a call is for a subject area where I have several layouts that fit then I submit them all. That can mean 3-5 for one specific call.
I don’t make layouts for a call unless it is a subject/event I would scrap anyway. It takes the fun out of it! A lot of times calls get the ball rolling for me. For example, since I’m not an event scrapper holiday photos sit forever, but when a call comes out then I dig them out because I do want them documented and this is the kick in the hiney I need!
I feel like my niche is journaling and scrapbooking the out of the ordinary. I tell the story behind the photos and use lots of journaling on my pages. I also try to look at photos outside of what is physically going on in them. I go with my gut and scrap how I feel about them.
Here's a layout that shows off Christa's beautiful style: (And if I can editorialize, I absolutely adore Christa's use of color. You have to check out the layouts on her blog!)

I currently LIVE in the DC suburbs in Northern Virginia. I've been married to my college sweetheart for 13 years who keeps us moving with his career in the Marine Corps. We have lived on each coast several times with more moves in sight! We have 2 beautiful and drama filled daughters, Maya and Ella. I work part time as a school social worker in a large high school and I absolutely love it! I can't imagine doing anything else, but also love that it's part time!
My style has definitely evolved over the years and my main focus is and always has been the story behind the photos. I love to focus on what isn't seen in the photos, including our personalities and quirks. I love to journal and like to make space to get as much in as possible!

I currently design for Pebbles, Inc., Creative Memories, Ormolu and Write.Click.Scrapbook. I have been published in Creating Keepsakes, Scrapbooks, Etc., Scrapbook Trends, Scrapbook and Cards Today and several idea boohttp://www.blogger.com/post-create.g?blogID=3891972351431603536ks. I am grateful for all that comes my way!
I chose this layout to feature not because I love the design (which I do), but because of the story behind it. I’m a story girl and this one is one I’m so glad I documented. My husband and I got engaged at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC and it holds a special place for us. I created this for the sketch class at Two Peas in a Bucket and I love the large photo from the sketch and thought the photo of the Capitol was perfect. I want my girls to know this story about us and how we came to be our family!

Thank you, Christa! Learn more about her on her beautiful blog, right here:)

And a question for you--what have YOU found to be the most helpful advice for getting into the scrapbook industry?