Scrapbooking with Sketches

One of my goals for the rest of the year:

Scrapbook less.

OK, that sounds like a fairly crazy goal, right? It’s my favorite hobby. I have a whole room dedicated to scrapbooking. I’ve taught classes and written articles and blog posts about it. It’s been my place for the past almost-twenty years.

But I’m also realizing that it’s my comfort zone. When I’m making a layout, I’m happy. I cheerfully cut paper and flip through my pretty supplies. I feel all pat-myself-on-the-shoulder-y, because it’s a good thing, yes? Keeping the details of your family history.

And even though I have a growing disconnect between myself and the Scrapbooking Industry, I don’t know that it will ever not be my thing. It makes me happy in many ways.

But it doesn’t challenge me.

I've been re-reading The War of Art, a book that focuses on resistance and how it keeps us from doing what we want to be doing, and I keep thinking about this idea:

Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole.

And also this one:

Resistance obstructs movement only from a lower sphere to a higher. 

And this one:

Like a magnetized needle floating on a surface of oil, Resistance will unfailingly point to true North—meaning that calling or action it most wants to stop us from doing. ... The more important a call or action is to our soul's evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.

Right now, scrapbooking is the form my Resistance takes. It seduces me away from writing. And without writing (writing for real, writing that other people can see and respond to) I don’t feel fulfilled with my life.

I feel like I have missed a turn I was supposed to take, and the road I am on is in the same location I was meant to be in…but not exactly the right place. I know where I want to be (in the country of the writers, to continue my metaphor), but I haven’t pushed myself to find the way. I’ve just continued on with my happy little wandering journey, with my bits of scrapbooking creativity, gaining miniscule amounts of success in an industry where I don’t really fit (having words, yes, but not the skill of graphicality—not the ability to use design like others do), and feeling sort of hollow.

So here’s my current mantra: less scrapbooking, more writing!

And when I am scrapbooking (because really, I can’t imagine life without it), I want more authenticity. More meaningful details. More stuff I’ll be glad I spent the time on. (Not more intricate decoration.) I want to make layouts that make me happy, even if they don’t necessarily jive with the current scrapbooking aesthetic. I want to share more layouts on my blog, not because I think one of them will finally be my way of being noticed but because I just like sharing what I’ve made.

And I want to be able to accomplish more in less time.

One of the ways I’ve found to scrapbook faster is by using sketches. I don’t do it very often because that would require me to find sketches and then organize them. (Which takes more time!) But this summer at Write. Click. Scrapbook. we’ve been having Saturday Sketches. I haven’t played along with all of them, but the ones I have have consistently taught me: a sketch makes it go faster. Especially for me, where all my energy goes into the words, and where my strength is writing the story, not arranging the pretties.

I see more sketches in my future.

And in the spirit of sharing, here’s a layout I made using last week’s Saturday Sketch:

09 sept nathan no1
(Fairly grainy photo-of-layout because it's been grey and rainy here all week!)

I started it when I was home on the weekend for my lunch hour, and then I finished it later that day…so I spent maybe an hour, total, on this. Which for me is like Ethopian-marathoner fast. In the end, it looks almost nothing like the original sketch (click HERE to see it and some other layouts made with it). I turned it sideways but the journaling strips are still horizontal, and I used one photo instead of two. Copying exactly, however, is not ever my goal when I use a sketch. Instead, I like how it got me started and gave me enough of a structure that I could put everything together quickly. I love how it turned out!

If you are a scrapbooker, do you use sketches? How do you organize them? 

on Design

On the day of the quail, when I was sitting out in the grass watching them, my neighbor and her son, who is a little bit older than Kaleb, came over to see what I was doing and to show me something: a tiny garter snake. This is one of the components of summer in our neighborhood, the random discoveries of snakes. It took me by surprise when we first moved here, as I had never in my life found a snake in a suburban yard. I think they're here because our area used to be an orchard and I imagine it's in the snakes' collective memory, living here, even though most of the trees and the long orchard grasses are gone. (Our apple tree is one of the left-overs from the orchard, which makes me love it so much more than if I had planted it myself.) Plus, several of the older neighbors still own their water rights, so every three weeks or so their yards (and for a few, their fields) are flooded. The yards that border the water-turn yards always have snakes.

We've only found a snake in our yard once or twice, but there are still plenty to go around. The kids hold them and play with them and then let them go in the field down the street.

As my neighbor and I watched the quail and talked about snakes (she doesn't like them, I'm not bothered by them, but we both agree it's a pretty cool thing for the kids), I was making a strange sort of connection in my mind, because just that afternoon I'd been working on a layout about the garter snakes in our neighborhood:

Snakes are not scary Amy Sorensen

I made it for my Write post, which I write most months for Write. Click. Scrapbook. Its design is based on the same one I used for my WCS gallery layout this month:

A sorensen roly polies

The gallery's focus is on go-to design, the approach or layout or technique you tend to use most comfortably. It is one of my favorite galleries, because I learned so many new things and found so many new ideas.

The design aspect I wrote about is this layout scheme, with three 4x6 photos spread across the width of a 12x12 layout, journaling on the bottom and title on the top. I still remember the first layout I made with this design, one about Haley in kindergarten. I've been using it for a long time.

These are some of the only-a-handful of layouts I've made this summer. It's been so busy! My scrapbooking desk is piled high with supplies that need to be sorted out and put away, but it's also dusty. I feel a sort of shift in my relationship with scrapbooking happening, especially lately as the new supplies have started to appear. I'm starting to question my relevance in the industry, as the current look, which is beautiful but very supply-focused, is so not my design approach. I've always been about the story more than the supply.

At any rate, all of this talk of design and connections has left me quoting Robert Frost in my head, even though it doesn't truly apply:

What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.

(Learning about that poem is one of my earliest school memories, though why we read it in second grade is baffling. Or maybe explains a lot about my psyche.)

Like the spider, the moth, the white flower, only with less menace, the layout, the snakes, the connections make me think that design is more a part of things than I realize. 


Today (and yesterday!) I've spent recuperating from Ragnar. It's actually a good story to tell...but instead I'm sharing a layout I'm in the process of making for July's WCS gallery:

July sneak amy sorensen

I've also been reading Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly, which isn't (so far) really about the creative process, but vulnerability. Still, it's making me think about creativity, and what ways I use it to expose my vulnerability—and how I use it to do the opposite. Creativity as self preservation seems odd...but I think it's a thing I do sometimes. Block out the world by getting lost in the process.

I still have so much to learn about myself, art, creativity, exposure.

But I do love how this layout is shaping up!

For more layout sneaks, check out

Christine's blog

Katie's blog

Amy's blog

You can see the new gallery on July 1 at write. click. scrapbook.


March 2013 WCS Sneak Peek

Today I'm working on a project for Write Click Scrapbook, my March gallery contribution. I'm at the stage where I'm thinking gah, this is so not coming together like I wanted it to but I get that way with every project (scrapbook layout, essay, quilt) I make, so hopefully this is just a phase.

Or maybe I'll scrap half of it and go with more neutral tones, and that will be OK too. I'm using scraps for almost all of it anyway!

Here's a picture:

Wcs march sneak

And some other blogs with sneaks:






Lisa O.


hmmmmm....seeing everyone else's wonderful stuff makes me think I might need to push myself a bit more!

Happy scrapping!

on my desk (A Sneak Peek)

The night we got the call that Beth was having medical problems, it was nearly 10:00. Kendell was watching TV, Kaleb and Nathan were both asleep, Jake was making his way to bed, Haley was working on homework, and I was in the computer room working on a scrapbook layout.

With everything that happened after that phone call, it was awhile before I got back to my desk to finish the layout. In fact, scrapbooking almost felt wrong somehow. Like I was moving forward too soon. But, you know? One of the most comforting things in the days after she went was looking at the scrapbooks she'd made. It matters, this craft that we do. It makes it so a little piece of you stays around after you're gone.

Still, I'm entering back into the process slowly. I'm thinking more about the best way to use my scrapbooking time. I'm trying to make things count. And I haven't found the old joy in it, yet. At least not at first—but as I let the process work, I find a still space of calm.

In a few weeks, we'll be revealing the new Write. Click. Scrapbook. gallery. (November 1 to be exact.) I haven't gotten very far yet on my layout, but I have found a bit of inspiration:

Sneak oct 2012
on my scrapping desk

I'll make sure to include an explanation of these items when I share the finished layout! Can you guess what the theme might be?

Check back on November 1 to see the brand new gallery.


One of my favorite scrapbooking tools is the Silhouette cutting machine. I've had mine for a long time, so it isn't the newest one that will cut 12x12, but I still love it. In fact, I sometimes feel like my layouts lately could all be seen as advertisements for what you can do with a Silhouette!

Here's a sneak peek of my layout for the October WCS gallery:

10 2012 oct sneak

And yes, it's got a lot of stuff on it that I cut with my Silhouette! I think the reason I like it so much is that it saves me from digging through a supply drawer for the thing (whatever the "thing" is) I'm looking for. Which means I use fewer things from my embellishment drawers but more patterned paper.

Do you  have a favorite scrapbooking tool?

Here are some more WCS October gallery sneaks. Make sure you stop by for the full reveal on October 1. (Well, if you're of the scrappy sort, of course! Some of you are rolling your eyes right now I know!)

Monika (who has a give away on her blog today as well!)

Write. Click. Scrapbook. Blog Hop


Hi! And welcome to the second stop of today's Write. Click. Scrapbook. blog hop! If you are one of my blog regulars, I hope you'll join in the hop for a chance to win some awesome prizes. Or if you're coming from the lovely Alexandra's blog, welcome to my little corner of the Internet! My blog is bringing you the letter

One of the things I love the most about the Write. Click. Scrapbook. team is the camaradarie of a group of amazing women. When I first started scrapbooking, nearly all of my girlfriends scrapped with me. At least once a month, we'd pack up our scrapping stuff (back when I could pack all my supplies in one Rubbermaid box) and go to someone's house to eat, talk, laugh, and scrapbook together. We'd give each other advice, share and swap supplies, and compliment particular bits of each other's layouts.

For one reason or another, though, all of those scrapbooking friends have stopped scrapbooking. We're still friends, we just don't scrap together anymore. (I try not to hold it against them!)  So one of my favorite things about being involved with Write. Click. Scrapbook. is hanging out with other women who scrapbook. And these aren't just any everyday, run-of-the-mill scrapbookers. They are seriously talented! And seriously kind. And funny. And smart. And did I mention talented?

I mean, really. If you're a WCS regular you know what I mean. The ideas in the gallery and the daily blog posts are always inspiring. There is layout advice there, and technique explanations, and even products to win. And it all comes from scrappers who offer their knowledge, skill, and creativity in the spirit of simplicity. We all really do mean what we say: the scrapbooking is about the stories and the photos and the remembering.

This month, the focus of the WCS gallery was Inspiration—more specifically, finding inspiration in the work of other scrapbookers. I was paired up with Erin and drew some inspiration from this layout of hers:

Erin is a genius at mixing patterned papers so that is where the spark for my layout came from. Here's a little peek:

Blog hop sneak peak(Click HERE to see the entire layout, as well as read about my inspiration process and how Erin's layout affected my design choices.)

Now for just a little bit more fun! I'm doing a give away today. Leave a comment letting me know something about your BSF (best scrapbooking friend) and I'll draw one winner. The prize? My current favorite alphabet stickers. (Come on...if you know me, you probably guessed it was likely to be about letters!) You can see them in the sneak peek of my layout—that orange alpha is one I just can't stop using. I'll also toss in a handful of some other surprise scrapbooking goodies.

To continue with the fun, hop on over to Celeste's blog for some inspiration, the next letter, and  a chance to win something else.

Make sure to visit all the blog-hop stops (there are some awesome prizes along the way!) and then stop by with all the letters you've collected at the WCS blog for another win-something opportunity.

And as always, happy scrapping!

PS: A big THANKS goes out to my friend Marnie, who revamped and revitalized the WCS blog for our third birthday. She's amazing & awesome & wonderful! (Plus we were once at the same Peter Murphy concert, 20+ years ago. We didn't know each other then, but that we are now friends is one of my favorite bits of scrapping serendipity!)

Gratitude Gallery

April's Write. Click. Scrapbook. theme was gratitude. I made this layout for the gallery:

Friendship tree

It's about Kaleb's friendship with our across-the-street neighbor. I love this family so much! (Does that sound weird to say about your neighbor?) They all do different things that make our lives easier, and they get our sense of humor!

And, dare I confess: I love the way this layout turned out. I usually start working on a layout with some sort of idea in my head, but most of the time the vision and the reality don't coincide. That's because I usually underestimate the space the different elements will take up, or I write more than I thought so I have to switch things around. (Usually, of course, it's that I wrote more than I expected!) This one, however, came out nearly exactly the way I had imagined it. I love it when that happens!

If you're of the scrappy persuasion, click HERE to see the rest of the gallery, and then check back on Saturday for my write. post.

Trek Photo Album: a little teaser

 finally got some of my photos from trek scrapbooked! Rather than just making a layout, I made a mini (8x8) album. Here's a teaser:

A sorensen jbs section 1

Go HERE to see more details!

I made this album for Jake. One day soon I'm going to make one for Haley and one for myself as well.

One thing that this album reminded me: big projects come together so much faster when the journaling is already written! I just had to tweak a little bit, and proofread, and then the journaling was done.

One thing that this album taught me: how to print small, double-sided booklets full of journaling without using Publisher. (As I don't have Publisher on my computer at home!) It's a little tricky and involves some cutting and pasting and some strange arranging of pages, but it can be done!

Another thing this album reminded me: I really, really loved going on trek, despite the cold.

And: despite my insecurities over being the historian, I did get some good photos.

Oh! And it also taught me: 6x8 prints are an awesome size!

Anyway. If you also went on trek, or know someone who did, you might hop over and see the rest of the album!

WCS Mini Gallery

(Thank you for your kind comments about yesterday's post. I'm still processing. I imagine I will continue processing for awhile.)

This month's WCS gallery is up and it's full of mini albums. For my contribution, I finally got around to making an album with my hiking boot photos.

2011 07 31 squaw peak 5x7

Ever since the fall of 2008, I've kept the tradition of the Hiking Boot Photo.
2009 08 30 squaw peak k a h n 5x7

On the top of every peak, I make all the people who are with us pause for a photo of all our hiking boots.

2009 09 06 baldy 5x7

Sometimes I forget and then I have to improvise. Like, this counts as a hiking-boot photo, right?2010 06 30 timp 5x7

As does this one, which only accidentally got my boot in it:

2009 08 16 stewart falls 5x7

I am happy to say that I now have all of my hiking-boot photos from the past 3 1/2 years in this little 5x7 album. It's nearly full, though, so I need to get another one for our next years of hiking adventures. I kept the mini totally simple: the 5x7 photo on the left with the location of the hike added before I had the pictures printed, and a journaling card on the right with the details:

Hiking boots a sorensen layout no1

If you're of the scrappy persuasion, you should go and see the other minis HERE!