Thursday, May 26, 2016

live inspired: brandi kincaid: thinker. maker. sharer.

This week on the Live Inspired podcast, I am so excited to share with you my heart to heart conversation with Brandi Kincaid about her utterly delightful art and soul inspiring words. If you do not already follow Brandi, before you listen to this episode, I recommend you check her out on Instagram at @brandeye8. Seeing her work and reading the letters she wrote to herself during her "week in the life" recently will give you more perspective on our conversation.

Brandi said so many amazing things in our conversation but one of the things you'll hear right off the bat is that "she gives herself grace" for her memory keeping and creative work. I think that's so important! Those words "giving myself grace" makes me kind of feel like I can breathe a deep breathe, sigh and everything will be okay. Creative work is supposed to be fun and never stressful, even when it's your job.

I just absolutely adore Brandi's illustrations and her memory keeping so I hope you'll take time to visit her Instagram account and her blog. I am just tickled pink I found such an amazing source of inspiration and it makes me wonder who else is out there that I'm missing out on!

If you know of someone who is super inspiring - let me know in the comments below. Who makes your heart go pitter-patter when it comes to their creativity? Tell me! I need to know! :)

Thanks for listening - have an awesome day!

Friday, May 20, 2016

live inspired: inspiration everywhere with jen schow

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to Crafty Jen Schow about her recent YouTube series, "Inspiration is Everywhere." We discuss each idea from the series and how we can use her ideas to fuel our creativity for crafting.

It's always fun to talk to Jen since because she's so full of creative ideas. I hope you listen and leave feeling inspired yourself! :)

If you'd like information on the cruise we are teaching on this fall, click the image below!

Be sure to visit Jen's blog for a boatload of inspiration on a regular basis!!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

what's going on

I mentioned some of my upcoming events and new classes in the Scrap Gals podcast and promised to put links here for those who want more info so here it is!

Join me at the ScrapHappy Reunion in Grapevine, Texas, June 17-19, 2016
We will crop and have a lot of fun. I'll be teaching a brand new class called "Journal Your Life Workshop" and a hand lettering class (both traditional and brush lettering will be covered and put into action). 

You must be a ScrapHappy member to attend. To become a member, use this link.

Join me on the PL Junkies Cruise & Crop, October 2-9, 2016

Crafty Jen Schow and I will be instructors on this cruise which includes several days of crop time, plus excursions in Haiti, Jamaica and Mexico! I'll be teaching a class on Project Life Design and another class which I'll announce soon. 

There is a $250 crafting fee in addition to the cruise fee. To book your trip or find out more info, visit this link.

Check out my new class with Illustrated Faith - Follow Your Arrow: Documenting Your Testimony

This class is available now at this link. I share step-by-step how to create a mini-album to document your journey of faith. Heather Greenwood and Shanna Noel also share a project and I know you will love the content of this class.

I'm getting a lot of great feedback on my latest class, The Ins and Outs of Titles. This is a five-lesson class for the low price of only $10 so you can try out my teaching style and see what you think! The class is available at this link or click the image below.

Exciting things are in the works, including:
- Ready, Sketch, Go! Volume 2 (available late June)
- Journal Your Life (available early July)

I hope you're staying crafty and having fun doing so. Live Inspired is still on a break but I'll be back next week with a new episode. :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

live inspired: kelly purkey, part one and two

This week and last, on the Live Inspired podcastI interviewed someone I have admired for many years....Kelly Purkey. Kelly lives a life many of us only dream about, traveling often and seeing new places and having new adventures. She somehow finds time to design her own line of stamps and products perfect for documenting travel as well as everyday life. It was truly a delight to hear about her travels and her design work. 

I'd like to say thank you to Kelly for answering all my questions and for sharing your amazing life and design skills with us!

Be sure to check out Kelly's shop full of amazing products for the modern day memory keeper and use the code INSPIRED20 to receive 20% off your entire purchase through 5/1/16.

Here's Part One of the interview:

Here's Part Two of the interview:

I hope you enjoyed this two part interview as much as I did. If you're looking for inspiration, I have a couple of new classes you might be interested in: The Ins and Outs of Titles and Follow Your Arrow: Documenting Your Testimony (with Shanna Noel, Heather Greenwood and myself). You can save $5 on Follow Your Arrow, only through May 1st by using the coupon code "followyourarrow." 

You can find more info by clicking either of these images:

Will be off on a holiday for the next two weeks! See you back here the second week of May!

Monday, April 18, 2016

why I love the disney dining plan

I had a discussion with a friend this weekend about the Disney Dining Plan. I tried to convince her of its merit and that it is not as much about the money we save as the convenience of having an all-inclusive trip planned. 

1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian

I believe the Disney Dining Plan allows us to have a different experience at Disney than those without it (unless those people have unlimited funds but who does, right?). With the dining plan, we schedule a lovely sit down meal every evening and many of those include character interaction. 

Caroline and Prince Charming - 1900 Park Fare

The meals are at a different resort each night and I build time into our schedule to relax in the lobby of a resort that I wouldn't see without a dining reservation there.

Lobby of The Grand Floridian

During our time at the parks, we rarely stand in line for an autograph because we know we will see almost all of the princesses (more than once) and the entire Mickey Mouse gang. You could schedule your dining in such a way that you also see Stitch, Winnie the Pooh and more. I hate standing in line for an autograph, I want to ride rides or shop or see a show. Also, with a long line of people behind you, the character experience is very quick. At dinner, the characters come over and talk to you and interact with you and your child and make you all feel very special.

Chef Mickey's at The Contemporary

There's just nothing like it. The food is great and I always book the earliest dinner reservation available (often 4:55 pm) so the characters are fresh and so is the food!

Some of our favorite moments of all our Disney trips have been at these dinners. We sit and enjoy dinner and relax and we never feel rushed.

O'Hana at The Polynesian (our table overlooked Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom)

The characters and at the non-character meal, the servers, have always been extra nice to us probably because we're so happy to be there and we never complain. 

Akershus in Epcot's World Showcase (Norway) even includes a free photo package with a 5x7, 4x6's and wallets! It's always with Belle in her yellow dress.

This is a photo of the photo thus the poor quality.

So you may be thinking, "Well DO you save money on the dining plan?" 

The answer is YES! I do. I always do. I know that for sure.

We leave in 12 days so I have every meal scheduled and know where we will be eating every day. Here's the cost breakdown (from an online Disney Dining calculator) but keep in mind, this is an average cost. I just actually ordered our food online (today) at Be Our Guest and it came to $70.52 vs. the $51.95 you see here. So this is a very low approximation.

This is the average cost projection for our meals (for three people):

5/1 - Pop Century Food Court - $46.42
5/2 - Sunshine Seasons at Epcot - $49.97
5/2 - Biergarten at Epcot - $143.23
5/3 - Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom - $51.95 (actual cost $70.52)
5/3 - 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian - $158.31
5/4 - Pop Century Food Court - $46.20
5/4 - O'Hana at The Polynesian - $150.77
5/5 - Columbia Harbor House at Magic Kingdom - $42.37
5/5 - Chef Mickey's at The Contemporary - $177.18
5/6 - Sci Fi Theater Restaurant at Hollywood Studios - $81.50
5/6 - Captain Cook's at The Polynesian (self-serve Dole Whip!) - $39.87
5/7 - Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge - $86.69

With every meal, you get an entree, drink AND dessert. We do not eat dessert sometimes at lunch so we ask for carrots or grapes and put those in our bag for later. You also get a snack so the cost of the dining plan includes a snack for each of us each day. That is not reflected in the cost above. Those snacks can be as much as $6 each snack so that's about an additional $100 we would spend just on snacks if we were to purchase them ourselves.

So with the calculator, the cost for the plan (one quick service, one table service, one snack plan) is $1,267.63 and if I paid out of pocket, according to the calculator, the cost is $1,074.46. It says I am spending $193.17 more with the plan but here's why I know for sure that is wrong. 

First of all, I've figured it up exactly what we spent on each trip and we always come out ahead with snacks and every meal and I will do that again and do a follow up blog post.

Secondly, as I showed you above, just the cost of Be Our Guest was off by $20. I know that in some of the restaurants we eat at on the plan, I order the most expensive meal and some people order a low priced meal. If I were paying out of pocket, I would order the lowest priced meal so you can't really calculate the cost by using an average. You have to know how you eat and what you order. 

Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom

But here's the truth of it. Even if I thought I was spending almost $200 more for the plan (I'm not): it would be worth it. One reason is: I pay for it up front which means our entire trip is all-inclusive. (If you've ever been on a cruise, you'll understand the beauty of that.) So all of our dining and snacks for the entire day is paid for up front. I do take tip money but other than that, I walk in with a gift card in my pocket for souvenirs and the entire trip is paid for. I don't have to consider how much something will cost. I just sit down and order like a princess. Now when does that ever happen in real life? (Then an actual princess comes over to talk to me while I'm eating.)

You might say, "Well my kids just don't eat enough to pay for that, we split meals." I understand that. This is for kids who are healthy eaters or above 12 and/or adults. I have to think about the cost of every meal, every day because we eat out every day and it adds up quick! So at Disney, I don't want to think about "what will this cost me?" because let's face it, I'm probably NOT going to be okay with the Chef Mickey buffet costing $177 for three people. Are you kidding me? What are we 

So this brings me to another plus on the side of the dining plan. Because you're not worried about the cost when your bill comes, you just eat and enjoy. You're not physically laying out $177 for three buffets. That would smart!!! Ouch!!! I can't do it!!! So I eat. I enjoy. Mickey comes over to see me. I walk out happy. It's less stress, especially if you're a penny pincher. (I am not but I'm not wealthy either.)

This is my favorite dessert at 1900 Park Fare (at any Disney restaurant, actually). I love every bite but would I love it knowing I had to get out $158 and pay for it? No. I don't think I could enjoy it. I just love my money more than that. ha!

I just figure if I'm going to Disney anyway and I stay in the value resort (Pop Century, adorable, clean, magical) then I may as well splurge a little on dining. It's TOTALLY WORTH IT! Trust me, you'll have something to look forward to every evening. A respite during an overly scheduled, busy, fight the crowds vacation. You'll be treated well and feel like royalty. The food is delish and the characters amazing. You'll have more time to ride rides and you'll pass the suckers in the line for Cinderella and think, "Ha! Saw her twice already at dinner." 

Most of all....your kids will love it. You will love it. I just can't say it enough. Disney is a different experience with the dining plan and character meals and time built in to rest before and after.

So here's the dining plan calculator but trust me when I say, this is a lowball figure you're getting... Disney Dining Plan Calculator. I'm going to try a couple different ones and I'm going to calculate every dime we spend and prove to you I am right but I will end this as I started it, it's not about the money - it's about the experience!

12 days and counting!

Friday, April 15, 2016

a new self-paced, online class

I'm super excited to announce the release of my newest class, "The Ins and Outs of Titles." This class is priced super low at only $10 so that those of you who have never taken a class from me before can try out my teaching style. Those of you who are loyal supporters of my classes will enjoy this lower rate, I'm sure.

This self-paced class includes:
  • Five never before seen layouts created exclusively for each concept taught
  • Five lessons with more than 2 hours of video instruction
  • Seven page .pdf handout with written reminders of the lessons taught in this class
  • Six exclusive sketches to help you create great titles for your layouts
  • Links to my most-used free fonts for electronic die cutting
  • A sneak peek at my "coming soon" classes

Here's what you can expect to learn:
  • new options on what products work best for great titles
  • a fresh approach to designing your titles
  • an understanding of how to make your title super readable
  • the skills to find an authentic title for your page
  • how to find a good spot for your title
  • an arsenal of go-to page designs with a designated title spot
  • how to discover new title ideas in old magazines and idea books
  • a desire to tell a story on a page and pair it with a title for that specific moment
  • a step-by-step guide to creating a great title on your pages
  • how I choose a story and title for my photos

I've had a great first day of sales so thank you to all who have already purchased!! If you'd like to purchase, click this link

I'd be happy to answer any questions you have so leave a comment if you have one. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

live inspired: let's get creative's suzy west

This week, on the Live Inspired podcast, I'm talking to designer, educator and event coordinator, Suzy West. Suzy, who has traveled the world teaching scrapbooking, is currently hosting events called "Let's Get Creative" at major manufacturers and scrapbook stores across the country. Her story about getting started in the industry is fascinating and fun to hear.

I had fun talking to Suzy and hearing all about her scrappy adventures. Ironically, as I was editing the show, one of my friends posted about going to an event where Suzy is teaching. They sound like a lot of fun! If you'd like to get on Suzy's mailing list to hear more about her events, visit her Facebook page for a link to her newsletter sign up or e-mail her at

I'm counting down the hours until the release of my newest class, "The Ins and Outs of Titles!" Check back here tomorrow for a list of what is included in the class and a link to purchase!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

no idea is entirely original

While creating my new class this week, "The Ins and Outs of Titles," I had a unique idea to share with my students so I sat and wrote it all out in great detail. The words poured out of me and when I was done, I thought, "That's one of the most original ideas I've ever had!" 
Tonight, I Googled something scrapbook related and stumbled onto a blog by a person I've never met and barely heard of and found a post where she had written almost word for word my "original" idea. After about 10 seconds of dismayed surprise, I just shook my head and chuckled. If I had a nickel for every time this has happened to me since I've been a part of the creative community, I'd be wealthy now. 
Every time it happens, I remember that we are all influenced by so many of the same ideas that some of us are bound to come to the same conclusions. Those of who think analytically about design and our craft often do so in a way that is very similar. 
Part of me wishes I hadn't discovered my original idea was not so original and the other part considers it validation that I am on the right track with what I'm teaching. The point in my posting this is to remind us both of a truth I've heard 100 times over and it's this: there's nothing new under the sun. 
No idea is entirely original. Our ideas are influenced by something we've heard or seen so all we can do is embrace that influence and be unique in our delivery and execution to make those ideas our own. 
Honestly, most of what I see in the creative community reminds me of something I've already seen but I don't love it any less. I recognize that we all inspire each other. That's one reason I started the Live Inspired podcast: to celebrate and connect with the people who inspire me most. 
I like to put these ideas out there for you to read because sometimes we see someone who is doing something that seems familiar and we're quick to judge that person for being unoriginal but we should always keep in mind that great minds DO think alike. I found that out for myself tonight!

"The Ins and Outs of Titles" will be available for sale this Friday, 4/15 for the low price of only $10. If you've been considering purchasing a class from me and would like to see the quality of my video lessons, layout designs and teaching skills, this intentionally low priced class is for you!

Saturday, April 09, 2016

my favorite television characters of all time

Tonight I watched what might be the series finale of one of my favorite shows and it got me to thinking about how I love some television characters as if they were real people. There are a few that seem so real to me, they're almost like family. I thought it would be fun to share a list and think about why I love them. There are shows I love with a large cast and sometimes I love everyone on the show but then there are a few characters that are so brilliantly developed, I can't help but feel they are real people that were an important part of my life.

They are as follows:

#1: Andy and Barney
The Andy Griffith Show is my all time favorite tv show. It relaxes me and makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. My favorite moments between Andy and Barney are when they hum and then sing hymns together, when Barney calls Andy "Anj" and when Andy teases Barney and smirks. Their friendship seems so genuine and the entire cast of the show are such good actors, it's hard to believe this show wasn't the first reality show and Mayberry was a real town. I wish it were. I'd move there posthaste. I quote this show daily and know it so well I can listen to it and see the scenes in my head. It has a special place in my heart and I love Andy and Barney just as much as if they were related to me. :)

#2: Sydney and Vaughn
Alias is my second all time favorite show and one I can still watch for hours and enjoy. I love to see Sydney kick butt and take names and the relationship she had with Vaughn is my all time favorite romantic relationship of any other than my own! Crazy but true!! Their chemistry was off the charts. The development of both of these characters was amazing and I feel like I know them inside and out as people. They made me laugh, cry, scream and feel joy. That's good writing, folks.

#3: Ichabod Crane
Tonight may have very well been the last time I'll ever see Tom Mison on my screen as Ichabod Crane on Sleepy Hollow. It was the season finale but possibly the series finale if it doesn't get picked up. I so immensely enjoy this character from beginning to end that I can't even describe how much I love him. His voice is soothing to me and I admire everything he does from his strength as a soldier to his knowledge of the world. This character is so well written, I hope the show returns so I can see more of him. If it does, I'll be glued to the screen each week to see what happens next! 

#4: Gidget
Yes, Gidget. :) I watched Sally Field play Gidget after school every day for a while growing up and I wanted to be her. She had the cutest clothes, the cutest room, the cutest personality and the cutest smile. Although the show originally aired way before my time, something about the character stuck with me and I loved her so much I missed seeing her! I bought the entire series on DVD a few years ago and just writing this makes me want to break it out and have a Gidget marathon. I love this character so much. She's sunshine personified. If I could be any fictional character, it would probably be her or whoever gets to marry Ichabod Crane (see photo above if that doesn't make sense). 

#5: Neal and Mozzie
One night I was looking for a new show on Netflix and remembered seeing an ad for White Collar years before and thinking it looked great. I watched the pilot and was hooked from the first minute! I loved the series so much, I slowed down the amount of episodes I was watching because I didn't want it to end!! When it did, I felt actual sadness that I would never again see another new one. I thought about it for days, read all kinds of theories online and had long conversations with my sister about what we thought happened to each character. Neal and Mozzie, especially, just made me fall in love with them. I love a good friendship among tv characters. Much like Andy and Barney, Neal and Mozzie's relationship seemed so genuine, I believe the actors must truly be friends in real life. This show is brilliantly written, I miss it even now. 

So that's it! I love these people! They brought me so much joy. I know I love television a bit too much but I just consider it a hobby and count my blessings for all the joy it's brought me. :)

So who are your all time favorite tv characters? Did any of them make my list?

Friday, April 08, 2016

why I will never be on a design team

Sometimes I have a lot to say about life and I start to compose a Facebook post and I stop myself and go, "Wait. This needs to be a blog post."

This is one of those times. :)

I was just on Instagram and I saw someone's lovely work for some lovely company like Simple Stories or American Crafts and all at once I kind of couldn't breathe and I said in my head,

"Thank GOD I'm not on a design team!"

It surprised me that I felt so strongly about it but it just hit me like that and I realized, I need to say that sentence out loud, in public so I won't ever go back on that feeling. I have decided I could just never, ever, ever cope with being on a design team. This will come as no surprise to those of you who listen to Live Inspired but I've been asking myself recently why I'm so against it for myself. (Since the standard "get your name out there" move in my industry is definitely to be on a well-known design team.)

After much contemplation, here are the reasons why I could never be on a design team:

1) I am not a multi-tasker. I used to multi-task. Maybe I multi-tasked until I fried my brain but now, I simply cannot multi-task. I must focus on one task or project at a time and work on it until it is done. I also must give myself more time than I think it will take because I am easily distracted by the shiny glint of the internet or a sunny day with blue skies and white fluffy clouds. Now that I work for myself, I primarily focus on creating classes. If I had a design team assignment, it is very possible that I could be in the middle of creating a class and have to stop, switch gears, make a layout with a totally different theme or topic, photograph it, write a blog post about it and send it in before returning to my work. I just couldn't do it. I get in a groove and rhythm that works for me. Today I made two class videos and by the end of the second one, I was cookin' with grease (as we say here in the South). When I'm in class creation mode, I think, eat, breathe and sleep the topic until the class is done. I barely do laundry and dishes, let alone make a product-driven layout for another purpose.

2) I don't work well on someone else's timeline. If someone says to me, "How long do you think this will take you?" I always feel nervous. When it comes to creativity, I don't really know sometimes how long things will take me. Sometimes I can whip a layout out in one hour and last Tuesday I spent 12 hours making two layouts. I hadn't created anything in 6 weeks and I had to get back on track and find my mojo. It was okay because I had given myself the time but if there had been any kind of pressure, I would have probably sat on the couch and watched Andy Griffith and lived in the land of perfectionist procrastination because that's my home away from home when I feel pressured. No, I have to be the one steering my own ship.

3) I want the things I create to be of my own choosing. I don't want any parameters or guidelines unless I create them for myself. That's why the sketch class I do with Crafty Jen Schow works so well for me. We work on 15 sketches and then what I create with them is entirely up to me. I can use any picture, any story, any technique or product and say as much or as little about them as I'd like. She trusts me explicitly to be a good teacher and designer and I feel the same way about her. Because of that, it's a totally enjoyable experience to work on the class. If my favorite product manufacturer said, "Here are some of your favorite products. Now make us a page by Wednesday about family, using them all." my head would spin off. I just don't operate that way. I go, "Wait, what?" I have a long list of classes I'm creating this year and some of them are with other people but I will be the one in control of the time frame and ideas. That's just the way I'm wired. I like to be the boss I guess. ha!

4) I don't want to be compared with other high profile designers that are on design teams. I am pretty good about not comparing my work to other people's and being happy with what I make. I think if I were on a design team with super talented people, when it came time to create, I would feel the pressure of living up to being chosen for that team. I would live in fear of being good enough to cut it. I know me. I am a perfectionist with a capital P. I hold myself to a very high standard and everything I do, I try to do well. So if I felt that my layouts weren't up to par, design wise, with everyone else's, that would shake my confidence. I am such a fan of so many designers who put themselves out there. I know myself enough to know my work beside theirs would mess with me. I care less about what my critics say and more about what I think of myself so it's not that I would be worried about being judged by others. I just feel that it's an added pressure that would be a part of my creative process and it would affect the way I feel about memory keeping and my creative time. I would be setting myself up for failure and I've learned lately how to avoid doing that by making good life choices.

5) The payoff (product) wouldn't be worth the investment (time) to me. I know many people truly enjoy receiving boatloads of product they'd probably be buying anyway. Not me. Too much product actually overwhelms me. I don't like a lot of anything in my house: it starts to feel chaotic. I am a slow scrapper so I can just imagine all that product piling up and the guilt I would feel for not using it quickly enough. It would be hard to let go of and hard to keep. Also, there is only so much time in the day that I can spend being crafty. I don't want any part of that time to be spent doing something just so I can get free stuff. I just don't. I'd rather pick and choose what I want and then order it. I am perfectly happy sharing my work primarily in my classes for the people who like me enough to support what I'm doing here in Tracie-land. :) I know many people participate in design teams because it's a great feeling to receive a lot of positive feedback about your work but I am blessed enough by the kindness of others on a daily basis that my cup runneth over in that department. It's great to get praise on something you create for fun or for free but it's a beyond wonderful feeling to work hard on a class and then receive praise. I know because the testimonials I've received on my classes have been the highlight of my creative career. It makes all the time I work for free (on podcasts) and the time I work on my classes totally worth it!

These are the main reasons I've never applied to be on a design team and never will. It really boils down to creating parameters for my creativity that allow me to enjoy my life. I think the older I get, the more I realize how I want my life to look. Time is truly my greatest asset so I must spend it wisely. I also know my own strengths and weaknesses and that's why I am able to make the list above and share it without reservation. It's okay that I don't want to be on a design team. Honestly, sometimes I do consider it but I am writing this post to remind me of why it wouldn't work for my life. I recently quit the Write.Click.Scrapbook team for many of these reasons. I love those girls to pieces but I just couldn't make the necessary commitment to them that was requested while I'm creating so many classes. I think if I weren't in "build a business" mode, I might feel differently on this topic. I am open to guest blog posts and have one coming up that's exciting but I can fit that in every once in a while and on my timetable. :)

So having said ALL makes me even more thankful to all the lovely ladies who take so much time to inspire me every single day! I hope that by listening to Live Inspired, the creative community is getting a glimpse into the amazing amount of time it takes to inspire others on a regular basis and I hope that glimpse cultivates an attitude of gratitude for our favorite designers. If you're reading and you're on a design team, bravo and thank you! I'm sure you have your own very valid reasons for investing your time into the creative community and I admire you for it.

I celebrated a major milestone yesterday. Live Inspired hit 100K+ downloads. In just 20 weeks and one day, 101,400 listeners enjoyed the shows. The moments I've spent taping the shows have been some of my favorite moments of my life. I sit there with my headphones on, mic in front of me, thinking, "I am a lucky girl." So thanks to all of you who have listened and continue to support me with your kindness. You are all so very lovely. I have grown to truly love so many of my listeners that I interact with online. XO!