Friday, August 19, 2016

My Alaska Travel Journal + Tips for Keeping A Travel Journal

While we were traveling through gorgeous Alaska earlier this month I created a travel journal to document the amazing adventures we were experiencing.  Creating this journal made the trip much more meaningful for me and when I look back through it I am flooded with memories from an incredible once-in-a-lifetime vacation.  Below are a few tips for you, if you'd like to create something similar based on your travels this summer.

I'm currently using a classic moleskin journal.  I love to include little odds and ends from our travels, as well as sketches of places we've visited. The pages of this journal can handle a little watercolor, but be careful! I recently ruined a page with a cheap watercolor set that bled all over.

Take a few supplies with you.  I took crafter's tape, a couple small rolls of washi tape, blunt children's scissors, a couple sets of travel-themed stickers (I even found one specifically for Alaska at our local Hobby Lobby!), Micron pens and my travel watercolor set. All of this fit into a small bag that I kept in my backpack.  I also added brochures, etc. to the bag as we collected them during the trip. Of course, you would probably use different supplies, but this gives you an idea of what I used to create the spreads above.

Gather brochures, ticket stubs, maps, tags and postcards as you travel.  I recommend having one consistent place to stash all this stuff while you're traveling, so it's not spread all through your luggage.  Then when you have a free moment you can pull it all out and decide what you'd like to use and what you can get rid of.

I like to tape one side of the postcards down and use the back to journal on.

Keep a list of memories you'd like to journal about later. I kept mine in Evernote (though you could do it on paper, or any other way that works for you) and it was very simple.  Just a few words to remind me of the story I wanted to document (ex: "bus tour driver throwing tootsie pops out the window to hikers" or "fireweed lining the train tracks")

Because we had a lot of time on various travel vehicles (two 8 hour train rides and about 12 hours total on a plane) I was able to complete much of the layout for the journal while we were actually on the trip.  I lettered one quote each day, no matter where we were, in keeping with my daily challenge for the year.  And most of the rest was completed on our train ride back to Anchorage after our stay in Denali.  I listened to Hannah Coulter while I worked and it was quite an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

The photos were printed once we arrived home (they are 2x3" prints.  I made collages with two photos apiece and had them printed as 4x6" photos and then cut them in half.  Make sense?) Much of the journaling was also completed once we arrived at home.  I get very motion sick, so writing on a train/plane is not an option for me.

All in all I spent just a few minutes each day we were traveling working on the journal and then a couple of longer sessions: one for layouts and one for journaling. And I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Book Report: August 2016

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

I am completely fascinated by true survival stories.  While Shipwreck is short, it is definitely among my favorites in this genre.  Shackleton's leadership and survival skills in the midst of extreme conditions was nothing short of incredible.   I knew very little about this expedition before reading this book, but I can already tell this won't be the last time I pick up a book about Shackleton.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Peter Nimble is a little bit Oliver Twist, a quest, and a redemption story, all mixed up with a little bit of magic.  Definitely a fun YA read. Full of humor.  I can't wait to pass it on to my 11 year old daughter.  It's right up her alley. 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child 

This book has been highly anticipated in our home, as I'm sure it has in many of yours.  My sister finished it just as our plane touched down in Alaska and as soon as she closed the book, I nabbed it out of her hands.  I've heard lots of complaints about the play format of this book, but didn't feel like that slowed me down or took me out of the story at all.  I feel like because I've read and loved all the previous books and immersed myself in Rowlings' incredibly detailed wizarding world in the past, I didn't miss the detailed descriptions. Hogwarts, and many of the other locations described in the book are vividly in my mind already.  I loved entering that world again and especially loved experiencing parenting along with Harry Potter.  Feeling like we're failing and questioning our methods/reactions is a pretty universal parenting trait and I appreciated watching Harry go through the same doubts I've faced.

The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko

Fascinating look at the history of dams on United States rivers, the controversy behind the establishment of Lake Powell and the Grand Canyon as well as the true story of the fastest running of the Grand Canyon.  Loved it!

Cress by Marissa Meyer

This third installment in the Lunar Chronicles series was enjoyable and light and just what I needed during a busy season this month. A retelling of the Rapunzel story (while continuing the retellings of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood that were begun in the previous two books) set in the dystopian future.  While the description doesn't sound like something I'd normally read (cyborgs, genetically altered man-wolves, magic and space ships), I've really enjoyed all the books in this series.  Definitely one of the best fairy-tale retellings I've ever read.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

This book has been on my list for a long time, and I was finally able to get to it on our Alaska trip.  It's a sweet, endearing family story.  Told in first person, Hannah narrates her adult life and she shares such a sweet lifelong love story and friendship with her husband. I loved getting a glimpse into their lives together and gleaning some insights into my own marriage.  

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

I have fallen head over heels in love with Brian Selznick's previous books in the past, and The Marvels did not disappoint.  Both Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck are so visually stunning and the story is told in such a unique way with much of the details of the story being shared only through the incredible illustrations.  I won't give any spoilers, but I was surprised by a major twist in the storyline and for a while felt like it was a bit of a cop-out, but in the end, and especially after reading the afterword,  I came to appreciate why the author chose to take the story in that direction. 

What have you been reading lately?

Head to Modern Mrs. Darcy for lots more book reviews.
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Snapshots from Alaska

Jason and I spent the past week in Alaska with most of the adults in my extended family--a dream trip come true. The bulk of our trip was spent in Denali National Park and unfortunately we were among the 70% of visitors who never actually get to lay eyes on the mountain itself.  We did, however, see plenty of wildlife and scenery more gorgeous than anywhere else on earth.  We traveled by every vehicle you can name: car, plane, train, bus and boat (okay, it was a canoe).

We fell in love with the vast, beautiful landscape.  I wasn't able to do many of the more adventurous excursions I would normally have done (zip lining, river rafting) because, for some reason, adventure guides are nervous to have a 34 weeks pregnant woman join their groups.  However, Jason and I were able to find a place to rent kayaks/canoes by the hour on a tranquil lake a few miles away from our hotel.  We bummed rides back and forth and it worked out perfectly.  We also found a gorgeous hike around Horseshoe Lake and ended up doing it twice because we loved it so much.

Long train, plane and bus rides provided ample time for knitting, sketching and journaling.  I even finished most of my scrapbooking for the trip via the Project Life app. I finished three books and most of a fourth, which is an indication of an awesome trip, in my opinion.

While we loved the time away, coming home to our little people was pretty amazing as well.  There's no place like home.

Stay tuned...soon I'll be sharing my full travel journal. In the meantime, you can sneak a few peeks above.
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Friday, July 29, 2016

Five Things for Friday: Queen of Katwe, Summer Fun and Pregnancy Weirdness

1-- Queen of Katwe

I have fallen in love with the uplifting story of Phiona Mutesi. When I received this book to review, it included a small card with a perfect description of the challenges Phiona faced. It said something like "To be an African is to be the underdog of the world.  To be from Uganda is to be an underdog in Africa. To be from Katwe is to be an underdog in Uganda.  To be a woman is to be an underdog in Katwe." Hers is the ultimate underdog story. But a kindhearted and heroic coach changed the course of Phiona's life.  She has triumphed over her circumstances and will continue to do so, all because of the game of chess. She was first drawn to learn chess because of the promise of a bowl of porridge each day, but soon she discovered a knack for the game and her life was forever changed. Learn more about Phiona and watch a short documentary about her incredible story.

2-- The Best Summertime Purchase I've Ever Made

I've been saving pretty much all of the earnings from my shop for the 2 years or so that it's been open.  It's a small income, and I wanted to make sure I was using it wisely and investing most of the money back into the shop to allow it to grow.  I'm generally a very conservative spender. But I recently splurged to buy a family pass to our local outdoor swimming pool, using my hard-earned Etsy money. The price was a little steep for my taste, but I haven't regretted the purchase at all. I've been thinking about buying a pass for the past few years, but this year I am big and pregnant and it is just so hot.  

Several times a week our entire family heads to the pool right after dinner.  The kids splash and play, I soak my swollen feet and Jason and I chat and keep an eye on Elijah. He LOVES to jump in, over and over again, and he's constantly making new friends and trying to steal their toys. It's been absolutely perfect.

3--Pregnancy Weirdness

Aside from my previously mentioned swollen feet, I have a couple of other pregnancy-related woes happening: carpal tunnel and a crazy tongue.  My fingers have been going numb frequently, often during the day (when I'm drawing or knitting, especially) and especially at night. I asked my doctor about it, and she said it's a common result of the swelling experienced in pregnancy.  I now sleep with carpal tunnel wrist braces on and feel like such an old lady. But, they work and I no longer wake up multiple times in the night with painfully numb fingers.  So, I'm cool with being an old lady, I guess.

My tongue is experiencing another weird symptom. I won't go into too much detail, or share any photos, but it's been extremely painful for the past few weeks.  Cracked and crazy looking, like I've spent a week lost in the desert.  It bothers me to eat most foods (which is an issue).  But, things are looking up and I'm hopeful that the worst is behind me.

4-- Fireworks

In Utah we celebrate Pioneer Day, a commemoration of the day Mormon settlers first arrived in Utah. For the first time in the history of our little family, we decided to spend money on fireworks.  We've gone to big fireworks shows put on by the city many times, but we've never done anything more impressive than sparklers at home. Jason bought a large package of ground fireworks, as well as a couple of newly-legal in our state aerial fireworks.   We set up the patio chairs on the driveway and our seven-year-old fire expert even built a fire in the fire pit so we could make S'mores while we watched the show (Jason was in charge of lighting the explosives). It was a perfect evening, and I'm pretty sure we'll be repeating this on a yearly basis now.  With more aerials.

5-- Projects in the Works

I am doing my best to wrap up some projects in the works before our little bundle arrives in a couple of months.  In the works I've got: an LDS Baptism Study Journal (for parents and children to do together), a Hymns Coloring Book (based on some of my lettering pieces from my Year of Hand Lettering) and an Articles of Faith Coloring Book.  I'm hoping to have these all in the shop in the next few weeks.

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