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At 27 I…

At 27 I... | The Nerd Nest

Today is my birthday! I think birthdays are a great time to capture a bit of what someone’s life is like in the moment, so I documented some of the things that really characterize me as I turn 27.

At 27 I…

  • …take several pictures every day, usually with my phone.
  • …am all of the way obsessed with memory keeping and Project Life.
  • …read 7-10 books a month.
  • …am in 3 and a half book clubs. (How did that happen?)
  • …think that pajama bottoms are the best clothes.
  • …wear mostly solid t-shirts and shirts from Sevenly.
  • …love Doctor Who the very most.
  • …also love Games of Thrones, Parks and Rec, Cosmos, The Daily Show, and Last Week Tonight.
  • …like playing the same video games I played in middle school.
  • …love having shorter, no maintenance hair.
  • …would rather sit around talking and eating with friends and family than do anything else.
  • …am figuring out my career path.
  • …listen to a wider range of music than I used to, but still stick with old favorites about half of the time.
  • …could look at Kansas City’s skyline for hours.
  • …am on a home improvement kick.
  • …like strong, dark Guatemalan coffee with a tiny splash of milk and plain lattes (big change from my carmel vanilla loving past).
  • …want more tattoos.
  • …am so thankful to be able to video chat with long distance friends.
  • …go to museums for adventure.
  • …am savoring.

At 27 I... | The Nerd Nest

Check out other birthday and anniversary check-in lists.

The Discovery of King Tut

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

Recently, my family was able to go to the The Discovery of King Tut at Union Station, an amazing interactive exhibit on the discovery of young Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun’s tomb and the contents found inside.

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

We were so lucky to attend a community lecture by Egyptologist Stacy Davidson beforehand, which Eliza loved and spent taking pages of notes. Our group went on tour with Davidson and she was amazing at answering our questions. Eliza’s face here was after learning about the Rosetta Stone and that both English and French (the languages Eliza speaks) are both rooted in Latin. It’s her “Huh? Seriously?” face.

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

It was one of the most fascinating and informative exhibits I’ve ever attended, complete with an audio tour and video. The first part of the tour (no pictures allowed!) included a screened video telling the story of the discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, then a move through a recreation of what archaeologists found in the different rooms of the tomb. Each room had a video describing what was found in each room with a full sized recreation, so that we could understand where the artifacts presented in the second part of the tour were placed within the tomb itself. Our audio players described this part of the tour in sync, and we were able to choose numbers to hear presentations on the artifacts in the second part of the tour.

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The artifacts portion of the tour featured over 1,000 to-scale replicas, which were amazingly detailed. Originals are no longer allowed outside of Egypt, but I’d have never known I wasn’t looking at the real thing. The methods used for recreation was facinating–Tut’s mummy was recreated with a 3D printer!

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

I was thankful for the lecture beforehand and the audio tour, because in addition to appreciating the sheer beauty and workmanship of the artifacts, I could also understand the intended purpose of the objects and meaning behind the symbols included on the works (as well as a few of the hieroglyphs!).

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The stories depicted in the art on the objects were also amazing.

There were over 80 pieces of footwear buried with Tut (which makes much more sense to me after learning that the glyph for “life” is a sandal), and the sandals shown above depicted his enemies so he would symbolically trample them as he walked. On the softer side, his throne pictured a sweet domestic scene with his wife of the sort not usually found in Egyptian royal art.

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

I’m so thankful we were able to see this amazing exhibit! I’m inspired to learn more about ancient Egyptian culture with my family! Do you have any favorite books about Egypt?

The Discovery of King Tut | The Nerd Nest

Kansas City readers, the exhibit is open at Union Station through September 7. It is coming next to San Diego in October!

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

I take a silly amount of classes (mostly on memory keeping and blogging) online, and I’m here again to share my takes with you!

For this round, I’m sharing takes from Use Your Stash, Scrapbooking With Style, and Big Picture Classes workshops (Phone Photography Project 2, Hello Story, and Here and There Inspiration).

That sounds like a ton, but I just did a project or two for each.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

For Week 2 of Here and There Inspiration with Kelly Purkey and Amy Tan, which is all about translating inspiration you find out in the world into your memory keeping, I documented going to Smorgasburg with Kristin and Jeff in Brooklyn.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: If you’re layering a photo on a photo background, make your smaller photo stand out by raising it up with pop dots or by adding a cardstock mat.

Tip: If your cut-out embellishment isn’t noticeable enough, try adhering it to cardstock and cutting around the edges, so the negative space in the embellishment is filled with a color different than your background, as I did with the exclamation wood veneer.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Stamping an image onto cardstock and then cutting it out to add to your project gives you more chances to recover from mistakes. Usually when I do this, I’ll cut out the title in a block, but I had some extra time on my hands while having a Doctor Who marathon with my family, so fussy cutting was in the cards.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

For Week 3 of Here and There Inspiration, I documented seeing Newsies on Broadway. I used the wardrobe design from the musical as inspiration as I was choosing patterned papers.

Tip: Need background paper for a double page spread, but only have single sheets? Cut paper into strips and lay the strips side by side so the pattern continues across both pages. Just make sure that all strips are shorter than 6 inches tall if you are using 12×12 paper so that you have enough for both sides! By using a stripe of a second color through the middle of the layout and framing it with matching strips of paper, you create the illusion that the pattern covers the whole background.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Don’t have room in your design for journaling? Include interactive hidden journaling. I included journaling on the back of and behind my photo mat, which lifts up.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: If your twine or embroidery floss is unraveling on you when you’re trying to thread it through embellishments, try wrapping a bit of tape around the end so that it is stiff enough to pass through.

(Here and There Inspiration is a 12 week class and registration is open until July 30th.)

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

I’m also taking Scrapbooking With Style: Clean & Simple Layouts by Kelly Purkey at Craftsy. (It’s currently 25% off!) This is a video based class with step-by-step layout instruction, so it would be fantastic for beginners. Though I’m not in need of learning basics, I still love Kelly’s style and am excited to make a few layouts inspired by the class.

This Central Park layout was based on Lesson 1, but I replaced the patterned paper with photos, because when you take a thousand photos on vacation, you squeeze them in where you can.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Cut two circle embellishments in half and arrange them around a rectangle or square shape to create an interesting pattern.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: If you are writing on a dark background, try a light colored ink instead of a black pen. I prefer this white gel pen.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Use Your Stash by Elise Blaha Cripe is a fun little mini class with tips for using up scrapbooking products. I was inspired by Elise’s washi lesson to make these striped cards that coordinate with the books I read in May. I also included my Currently cards for May.

Tip: Spread a photo over several pockets to make a big impact! I printed this one out as two 4x6s and cut the bottom one in half to fit into two pockets.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Don’t throw out a card because you make a mistake! I accidentally wrote “June” instead of “May”, so I colored over the word June in white gel pen (next best thing to white-out), waited for it to dry, and wrote the correct word over it. You can’t tell unless you look close! I’m also a fan of throwing label stickers over mistakes.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Add a 3×4 journaling card to a cool patterned 4×6 card so you can have the best of both worlds: words and awesome design!

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Add more into your Project Life by including photos or tags on the back of cards. Just have a bit peeking out so that you’ll know there’s more to see back there!

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

This layout is for Week 12 for Hello Story from Ali Edwards, which means that I made at least one layout for every week of the class this year! Finished! Wahoo!

I listed 10 “House Rules” around here.

Tip: Use wet, clear drying glue for small accents like these wood veneer letters.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Don’t have a group photo with everyone smiling? Use two. Each one here has one grumpy looking kid and one excited kid, and together you get the big picture.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: If your background is white card stock, it is easy to slice apart your layout and move segments if you make a mistake. I originally had the cork house stickers lining the very top of the layout, but it looked imbalanced. It is difficult to remove those stickers without tearing them, so I cut the top off of the layout, moved the strip of houses down, and adhered another strip of white cardstock to the top so the layout would be 12×12 again. The washi strips makes this change virtually unnoticeable.

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 10 | The Nerd Nest

I also just started Big Picture’s Phone Photography Project 2, which centers around helping you to improve your phone photography. Class just started yesterday and is open for registration until July 30. Follow along on my Instagram to see my takes on class challenges as the class develops. (I’m also doing daily memory keeping tips there!)

This class is a sequel to last year’s (now self-paced) The Phone Photography Project: Summer Challenges. I had fun completing all of the challenges for that class– check out my takes on last year’s challenges!

I’d love to know what classes you’re taking or some of your past favorites!


Affiliate links used when possible. Using these links to buy anything, even items other than the linked items, helps to support the Nerd Nest.


Here’s the deal: because I have friends who teach things and because I teach at Big Picture Classes, I get to take classes for free sometimes. So I end up taking more classes at once than I would if I were paying for them. I’d want to make sure I had time to do ALL of the projects in a given class vs. dipping in here and there if I were working within my crafting budget, so I’d probably limit myself to much less at a time. But as it is, I don’t need to do that, so keep that in mind. I don’t want anyone to feel like they need to be taking a stressful amount of classes. Choose classes based on what you think will be the most inspiring or the best fit for you (and your budget).

Day in the Life // July

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Last year I played along with Ali Edward’s Day in the Life monthly and it was one of my favorite projects ever. This year, I’m repeating the project. On the 15th of each month, I’m going to document my everyday life. I like having a set day because I won’t worry about finding a “representative” or “normal” day. Wherever the 15th falls, that’s what I’ll document.

Here’s Tuesday, July 15:

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

I woke up at 6:45 with a really strange dream in my head (probably shouldn’t watch Doctor Who before I go to sleep) and helped Eliza get ready for summer school camp. Tuesdays are a bit easier in the mornings, because she eats at school (she’s been bringing her lunch the other days of the week).

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

After she left, I went and snuggled back up with Jake until Jonas woke up and started climbing on us. Jonas drew us pictures on our new Boogie Board writing tablet while Jake got ready for work. Jake didn’t want me to share his silly sleepy face photos. (Hah!)

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

After breakfast, Jonas worked on picking up his room a bit. He sorted different brands of building stuff into the correct containers, mostly.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

While he picked up, I finished a page in my Project Life album, inspired by Elise Blaha Cripe‘s Use Your Stash class.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Jonas earned a TV show for cleaning his room. He chose to watch Johnny Test and the timing was great, because I had a video meeting right then for class planning.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Then bath time for Jonas. I cleaned the bathroom counter while he played. Obviously I didn’t get to the mirrors.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

We walked to get lunch at Jerusalem Bakery with our friend Paul. The weather was crazy gorgeous for July; it felt more like early October.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Jonas and Paul both fell asleep on me when we got back, so I took that as an opportunity to get more scrapbooking done. I also shared a memory keeping tip on my Instagram, which I’m thinking of making a daily-ish thing. I just need to think of a good hashtag.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Eliza got home from school around 4:00. How awesome is her sense of style? I love it. She showed me the project she made in art class and told me a bit about her day. She learned about using acrylic stamps and paper crafted next to me. We were totally planning on going to the park when Jonas woke up, but he slept forever. (He was up really late the night before, he doesn’t usually take naps.)

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Paul took almost as long a nap as Jonas. We hung out a bit while Eliza did her chores and watched Last Week Tonight with Jake when he got home. I made dinner, which had to be impromptu because I forgot a key ingredient for the planned meal. There were too many Legos on the dinner table to eat there, so we ate on the couch and watched Monday’s The Daily Show while the kids at at a children’s table we have.

Day in the Life // July at The Nerd Nest

Paul left to go to a friend’s concert and I read a book out loud to everyone (mostly Eliza). We’re reading The Giver. Jonas stayed up for the first chapter or so, playing with Legos, and then Jake put him to bed. Jonas kept getting confused. “Am I in that book? Hey, I didn’t to that!”

We also had a fun answering-Eliza’s-questions session. This time we mostly talked about puberty. By the end of the third chapter I read, she was fighting to stay awake so I sent her to bed.

Jake and I headed up to our room / office. I totally planned on working on the spare room we’re refinishing (I’ve been stripping paint a bit every day), but I was too tired. I got into bed and read Invisible Man for about an hour while Jake coded.

*In addition to the normal stuff I document, I also kept a list of people I talked to on the phone, through texts, and through e-mail. That will make an interesting addition! Next time I think I’ll list the chores I do, because there was a lot of laundry and dishes in between these daily highlights.

Are you playing along with mid-month Day in the Life? Make sure to share a link with yours if you are!!!

Check out my other Day in the Life posts, including how I put them into Project Life.

June Reads

June Reads | The Nerd Nest

In June, I read a really wide range of books. I picked a few works of literature I’d been wanting to read (both contemporary and classic), re-read a favorite, celebrated LGBTQ Pride Month with a few novels and essays, and finished the May/June book for the L&R Book Club. I also read a young adult book and a children’s book, which helped me work out a few ideas for my own creative writing. I feel like I’m jumping all over the place, but it’s keeping my brain busy.

June Reads | The Nerd Nest

Here are the books I read in June:

The Human Stain (2000) by Philip Roth

Writer Nathan Zuckerman unravels the complex secrets of his neighbor Coleman Silk, a classics professor driven nearly mad after he is forced into retirement under false charges of racism.

This novel is a wonder. Roth’s carefully crafted use of language and the insidious unravelling of plot are captivating. I also appreciated that the story challenged my personal moral judgements. I’m excited to read more from Roth, including the two other books in this trilogy.

The Bell Jar (1963) by Sylvia Plath

Esther Greenwood, a young woman living in the early sixties, gains an internship with a New York magazine but is unhappy about the possibilities in her future after graduation from school. She begins to not only feel trapped by the roles of women, but by her mind as well.

This book is a realistic depiction of mental illness and of patriarchal society in mid-century America. Even though women today have many more options, I think many will still identify with Ester’s concerns about the loss of one’s self to domesticity and the oppressiveness of the men surrounding her.

I’ve honestly been avoiding this book because all I’ve ever heard about it is its description of depression, so I wanted to read it while I’m in a good place with my own feelings. I didn’t feel that way at all–there were even sections that were extraordinarily funny. I wish I hadn’t put it off for so long.

Middlesex (2002) by Jeffrey Eugenides

Cal–né Calliope–Stephanides takes us back through three generations in a Greek-American family saga to discover a family secret.

I loved the interweaving of the lives of several generations, the amazing experimental and complex narrative style, and the life breathed into the settings in the book. A coming of age novel, taboo romance, American immigrant story, and nature vs. nurture identity formation all in one, this book is in no doubt deserving of Eugenides’s Pulitzer Prize.

*There are some problematic passages involving sex acts without consent that aren’t called out as such and that really bothered me.

Life of Pi (2001) by Yann Martel

Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel, a Tamil boy who grew up in a zoo, adopts a complicated spirituality and fights for survival–with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

*Avoid synopsis of this book if you don’t want spoilers–almost all of them give away the first twist and the ending.

I thought this book was wonderfully descriptive and made a seemingly impossible story come to life. I know that an author has done a good job if the summery of the plot would sound ridiculous to me, but the events seem plausible while I’m reading. That said, I hated the first third or so of the book and almost stopped reading it. Though I think that the writing in itself is beautiful in places, I strongly dislike the core message of the book (which seems to be what had critics raving in the first place).

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1962) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Ivan Denisovich Shukhov describes a day in his life as a political prisoner in a Siberian labor camp (gulag) in the 1950s.

This is one of my favorite books from my high school literature class. I love it because it humanizes what I was learning in history. It shows a darker side of human nature–how we can be controlled through food deprivation. I am amazed at the author’s heroic activism, as this novel gave a forbidden peek behind the Iron Curtain into the human rights violations of the Soviet Union.

**If you read this (or any Russian novel), keep a list of character names, as most characters are referred to by multiple names throughout. Read the short resource Understanding Russian Names in Literature to get your bearings.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary (2010) by David Sedaris

A collection of humorous, R rated animal short stories.

Sederis uses the form of animal fables to point out modern particularities in human interactions. The humor is odd and raw, and pushes far at some points (you’ve been forewarned).

*The book is illustrated by Ian Falconer, writer and illustrator of the popular children’s series Olivia. It’s weird to see his style in some of the more messed up animal depictions.

Rubyfruit Jungle (1973) by Rita Mae Brown

Molly Bolt, a poor Southern girl who doesn’t fit the roles pushed upon her, describes her coming of age in this classic lesbian novel.

Radical for its time, this book serves as a historical depiction of the extreme discrimination and otherness lesbians experienced in America. While the sex scenes were shocking at the time this novel was written, I found most of them to be almost poetic, especially as Molly matured.

I identified with a lot of the beginning of the novel, as I struggled with gender expectations as a child, but found a lot of the attitudes towards consent, heteronormativity, and heterosexual relationships found later in the novel to be problematic.

The Creative Habit (2003) by Twyla Tharp

Twyla Tharp, world renowned choreographer, takes the mystery out of creativity and shares a guide for turning creative work into a habit.

This book was the May/June book for the L&R Book Club. I found it well written, loved learning about different famous creatives’ processes, and appreciated the exercises at the end of each chapter and the introspection into my own creative process that the book sparked.

I do think that Tharp has a bias towards her own process and was disappointed in her distrust towards the science behind creativity.

(I’m probably more critical because I’m very interested in the subject of creativity. My newsletter centers around the theme.)

Paper Towns (2008) by John Green

Quentin Jacobsen is enamored by his enigmatic neighbor Margo Roth. After Margo pulls Q into her life to aid her in a revenge mission, he becomes a teenage detective, trying to decipher the clues she’s left for him.

This is one of the few young adult books I’ve read I want to be SURE my kids read when they are older. I loved that this book turned the white night rescue / girl as a prize cliche storyline on its head and centers around the theme that it’s difficult to really know other people.

In June, I also read the children’s book The Wind in the Willows (1908) by Kenneth Grahame and a bunch of short stories by lesbian authors from a Women’s Literature textbook in celebration of LGBTQ month.

June Reads | The Nerd Nest


Because I read 10 books this month, I tried to keep each synopsis and review extremely concise. If you want to know more about any of these, just ask!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Make sure to put a big SPOILERS warning in your comment to warn others if you have ‘em.

We are Powell’s Books affiliates. Purchasing anything through these links helps to support the Nerd Nest.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

I love documenting my life with weekly Project Life spreads! At the end of each month, I batch edit and order the previous month’s photos and then work on spreads in batches. This week, I’m sharing two and a half spreads from the end of May.

Click on the photos for a bigger view.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

May 18-24

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Jonas being a bad influence for little Ava, who thinks that his jumping on furniture is the funniest thing (there’s a photo of him trying to make his cousin Avery laugh too–such a little entertainer), hanging out with friends and family, DIY Cleaning Supplies, and the wonder that is finding the walrus and winning a sucker at Trader Joe’s.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Sometimes imperfect photos tell the story better. This photo of jumping Jonas as a blur captures his movement and personality way better than the in-focus photos of him in mid-air.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: If a journaling card works with your color scheme but has words that don’t quite fit, just cover up the bit that doesn’t apply! This Studio Calico card said “Hello Summertime.” I loved the color, but it didn’t work on this Spring spread. I used a label sticker and a felt flower to cover up what didn’t apply.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: This insert has the sky on a gorgeous day, going to see X-men: Days of Future Past with our friend Paul (taking a picture in front of a movie poster is a house rule), a funny story about Jonas trying to take a picture of one bare spot on his floor to trick us into thinking he cleaned his room, Charcoal stretching for a belly rub, and reading on the porch with Jake (we’re loving the late post-kid-bedtime sunsets!).

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Add in more words with label spots directly on photos or by combining a photo with a journaling card adhered to the back of it, as I did to make this 3×4 photo fit into a 4×4 spot.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: The back of the insert has dinner with friends, which was almost ruined due to a black-out right before (a downside of having an electric stove), me taking a breather after the kids were driving me up the wall, and Eliza working on her last spelling list for the year (yes!) and how proud I am of her for working so hard on them over the year.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: When you’re working with double-sided cards and inserts, set them up so you can use both sides!

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Out to brunch, Jake’s awesome photo at a Royals game (amazing seats!), Jonas playing with his friend, and playing at the park.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Repeat a stamp so it becomes a design element. When you get to the edge, slip a piece of scrap paper underneath so that you don’t make a mess when your last stamp goes off of the card. (This this week stamp is one of my most used!)

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

May 25-26

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Our friends’ wedding!

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Make your own 4×6 journaling cards! There never seem to be enough in the kits for me, so I’m just going to jazz up white cardstock cards from here on out. (There are plain 4×6 cards if you don’t want to cut down and round the corners of your own!)

This card combined a strip of washi tape, a design punched with a circle punch from a 3×4 card, and a little label die cut.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: The roadtrip part of going to Nebraska for our friends’ wedding. I included pictures of the Eliza reading to Jonas in the car, the kids loaded up with stuff in the lobby of the hotel, swimming in the hotel pool, the trip back with our friend Jack along for the ride, walking to get coffee in the morning, and going to eat at the mega-truck stop our friends’ family owns.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Jazz up a 4×6 card as a photo mat by lining the edges with washi tape.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: When two pages in a spread don’t match very well thematically (even though these photos are all from the same trip, the road trip photos and the wedding photos don’t exactly go together), choosing a more neutral color scheme and carrying the main POP color across the whole spread will help tie them together.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: You don’t have to have a date card! Just write the date wherever you have space.

(Also, because I had so many photos from this trip, I decided to dedicate a weekly spread to it and put the photos from the rest of the week on the next page.)

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

May 27-31

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: More Ava and Avery babysitting, Eliza’s last soccer game, going out to eat with my dad, gardening at Jake’s dad’s, bouncy houses at Eliza’s end of year school picnic, at the hospital with Jonas after he smooshed his finger (no breaks!), and picking up the violin again.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 2 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Don’t have number stickers on your alphabet sheet? Spell out the numbers instead.

P.S. The sheet on top of patterned paper on the facing page is the song list for Eliza’s school concert. The layout I made for the concert is on the back of this page.


Let me know if you have any questions about these spreads or about pocket scrapping in general!

For all posts tagged Project Life, click here.

Project Life is a memory keeping concept created by Becky Higgins.

Savoring Lately

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This year, I’m trying to make a new meal every week. I’ve had some winners, so I thought I’d share some of the results of a few awesome chicken meals and side dishes with you!

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I subscribe to Rachel Ray Everyday magazine and I always try a few recipes out of every issue. Usually they’re approachable and budget friendly, but I also don’t see the point of getting a food magazine if I’m not going to make anything from it!

The Rachel Ray recipe I’ve tried most recently is curry chutney chicken salad, which has raisins and sliced apples in addition to the ingredients obvious from the title. The harmony of the ingredients was fantastic and the mix of textures was pretty much perfect. The only alteration I’m going to test next time is trying yogurt as a base rather than mayonnaise.

I served it on warm naan from Trader Joe’s (their frozen naan is surprisingly delicious).

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In a quest to find a way to like beets (They’re good for you! And cheap! And the farmers that sell them are nice! And they’re so pretty and fuchsia!), I found this recipe for beet roesti. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that, but it’s basically a beet, potato, and green onion hashbrown. And it was delicious: I had my dinner guests going back for seconds (and thirds). Try it out if you’re a beet hater and let me know what you think.

I paired it with roasted chicken, because in the event that the roesti went wrong, it’s hard to screw that up.

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If you’re looking for a crunchy crusted chicken tender without resorting to deep frying, you might want to give almond rosemary crusted chicken a go. This was actually my second time trying this recipe, and this time I doubled the rosemary called for because my first try at it was a bit bland.

I don’t recommend the orzo recipe that is linked with the chicken. Jake made fettuccine alfredo to go with this instead. (That’s one of those add stuff until it looks and tastes right recipes around here. We don’t really measure, it’s just a roux with a quarter cup each of butter and flour + milk + heavy cream + toasted garlic + shaved parmesan cheese + salt and pepper.)

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This chicken souvlaki with cucumber tzatziki and pasta salad doesn’t look very fancy, but there were some crazy flavor explosions going on there.

I love Mediterranean food and thought that the yogurt, lemon, and herb marinade for this chicken sounded fantastic. IT WAS. (I skipped skewering the chicken and just sautéed it instead and went with fresh oregano instead of dried.) The fresh and bright cucumber tzatziki sauce paired perfectly. These are fantastic for summer.

Because these two complemented each other so well, I wanted a simple side dish that could easily be slathered in the tzatziki. I made bowtie pasta, chilled it by rinsing it several times in cold water, and added a bit of olive oil, feta, black olives, and diced bell pepper. This is a mixture commonly served up at Jerusalem Cafe and Bakery, our local Mediterranean buffet.

If this all sounds good to you, it’s a good time to start an herb garden. This recipe was super cheap for me to make because I could snip bits of oregano, rosemary, thyme, and mint from my front yard, but buying cut herbs at a grocer’s can be way more expensive than just buying herb starter plants. If you need convincing, here are some of my favorite herbs and how to use them.

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Here’s another simple chicken meal created because I wanted to test out a new side dish! It can be hard to get Jake to eat his veggies, so when he ate fresh green beans with lemon and garlic at a local restaurant, I knew that I had to try to recreate them at home. The green beans were quickly sautéed in a bit of olive oil with a squeeze of lemon, a bit of lemon zest, salt, pepper, and chopped garlic. It was good, but wasn’t quite right. Next time I’ll roast and mash the garlic instead.

We pared this with bacon wrapped honey dijon chicken and roasted rosemary potatoes. I marinaded the chicken in the honey dijon mustard for about a half an hour, wrapped each chicken tender in a half a strip of thick cut bacon, then cooked them over medium heat until cooked through, about 4 to 6 minutes on each side. I had to drain off some bacon grease halfway through.

For the rosemary roasted potatoes, I used baby potatoes tossed in olive oil, about a tablespoon of chopped rosemary, sea salt and course ground pepper, baked for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.

I hope you try out some of these recipes and like them as much as I did!

What awesome recipes have you found lately?

July Challenge | Document With a Series

Document a Series #NerdNestChallenge

Welcome to the monthly Nerd Nest Memory Keeping Challenge!

This month, the challenge is to document with a series.

Sometimes the best advice is to narrow down to one thing: your favorite photo to represent an event, a single little story or anecdote, or one layout when you could easily make a hundred with the photos you’ve taken. Narrowing down keeps things simple and is certainly less overwhelming, but sometimes a story needs just a bit more.

I’m challenging you to try to create a series to tell your story. For a photo-centric take on this challenge, you can use several photos that, together, show movement. You can also use a series of photos that explain a step by step process. For a word-centric approach, list the steps in a process or describe a series of events. You can even take this challenge a step further and create multiple layouts that serve as a “series” in a longer story!

Document a Series #NerdNestChallenge

For my take on the challenge, I used a series of photos to show Kristin and I at the Shore. Jake took a ton of photos because it’s a good rule of thumb when people are moving around: if you take twenty, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll get at least one keeper. While there is one photo that I love the most out of this series, on its own it didn’t really show the joy we felt standing at the edge of the ocean and getting hit with the cold waves.

I made my favorite photo stand out by making it larger than the others and popping it up with foam dots, but it takes all of the photos in this series to really tell the story.

I can’t wait to see how you create your own series in your memory keeping!

P.S. Watch out for my second take on this challenge (a journaling centric one) next week in a Confessions of a Class Junkie post.


Share your take with a link in the comments below! You can also use the hashtag #NerdNestChallenge on social media.


I’ll be adding takes I find to the Nerd Nest Challenges Pinboard too!

Document a Series #NerdNestChallenge

Bonus Tips:

  • Cut a small slit in your paper to attach a decorative clip.
  • Use wet scrapbooking glue to attach small resin shapes and other translucent or thin embellishments.
  • Print photos at standard sizes and then trim them down to fit your page. For this page, I printed the large photo at 4×6 and the small photos at 2×3 (four to a 4×6 sheet) and then trimmed a bit off of each photo because, together, they were two inches too wide for the page.
  • Thin acrylic stamps can often bend out of shape when you place them on a stamping block and can be difficult to maneuver. I use the packaging as a guide for the placement of the stamp by laying the clear block over the storage sheet, which has the shape of the stamp printed onto it.

Supplies: Paper: White Cardstock; Embellishments: Freckled Fawn Oh Deer Me kit (July), Studio Calico washi tape from Bluegrass Farm; Ink: Prima Turquoise Stone.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Instead of sticking with my usual for 2014 Sunday to Monday weekly format for the first part of May, I decided to break it up differently to accommodate Jake’s and my Mid-Atlantic vacation.

Click on the photos for a bigger view.

Today I’m sharing a spread with all of the May days before the vacation and the weekly spread immediately following the trip, so I can share the vacation spreads together in one post. (Spoiler: I went with a spread for each leg of the trip).

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

May 1-7

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: How I spent National Scrapbooking Day, Jake’s work trip, video chatting with Jake, the kids’ soccer games, visiting my great-grandpa, Jonas learning to dress himself, and guesting on the That’s What She Read podcast.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Project Life is a LONG TERM project, so switching things up for yourself to keep things interesting is a good idea. If you find yourself with a placement pattern (like including title cards in the upper left and text-heavy cards at the bottom of a spread, like I usually to), simply changing up your usual placements can help (like moving the date card to a 3×4 space and throwing the journaling up top).

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Jake’s lovely photos from Philadelphia before he started his business trip in Easton, PA and hanging out with our friends Megan and Ryan who came in from Lincoln, NE to spend the night with us (on Star Wars Day!).

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Use a sticker on the inside of a 4×6 pocket to keep two 3×4 cards or photos in place. (I’m putting a matching sticker on the other side.)

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

May 12-17

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Our last day in Jersey and saying goodbye to Kristin and Jeff, feelings about being home, playing video games and my #Thursday3 for the week (usually I just work my 3 weekly facts into my spread, but I wanted to separate them out this week), and Jake and Paul fixing dinner.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Use a clip to keep a business card in place so you’ll be able to see the other side! Use a label sticker (or, in this case, a label from washi tape) to make a note about the card.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

I love that Jake walked across the street to get a photo of the diner with Kristin, Jeff, and I in it. Mixing together close-up and far photos adds visual interest and tells a bigger story: you get in the setting and the people.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

I was really tickled to fill out a Currently card in the home of Currently.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Yet another trick to filling up pockets with not-quite right sized things: adhering a 3×4 photo and a 3×4 journaling card together to fill a 4×6 pocket!

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Jake and Jonas making noodles and Jonas falling asleep on me as I was reading bedtime stories to him.

Tip: Filling up 4×4 pockets can be tricky if you’re working with kits that don’t have 4×4 and you don’t want 4×4 photos in the pockets. For these pockets, I cut down one 4×6 card and used papers from 6×6 pads.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Most of the products in these spreads are from Studio Calico Project Life kits with a few bits from other kits thrown in (like embellishments from Freckled Fawn‘s Oh Deer Me club).

This spread uses has a lot of cards from The Sweet Life Journaling Cards pack.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Jonas’s last soccer game of the season, Eliza’s game this week, and E’s 3D shape drawings.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Another way I fill 4×4 cards is by adhering 3×4 photos and cards together.

Project Life 2014 | May Part 1 | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Celebrating at my sister’s baby shower, the epic treehouse my grandpa is building for all of the kids in our family, and our cousin’s college graduation party.


I love these two spreads and can’t wait to share more with you next week!

Let me know if you have any questions about this spread or about pocket scrapping in general!

For all posts tagged Project Life, click here.

Project Life is a memory keeping concept created by Becky Higgins.

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P.S. I’m over at rukristin this week talking about my love of #Thursday3. I participate in this challenge every week and it means so much to me.

Spark | Halfway There

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Right now I’m working through some stuff and part of this (recurring) quarter life crisis was questioning the direction I’m heading as a blogger. Ironically, when I signed up for Spark, an e-mail based blogging ecourse Kam of Campfire Chic designed to “rekindle your love of blogging” (so clever), I didn’t know that I was going to be going through another round of questioning and self-doubt. I just signed up because I figured it would help me fall for my blog more. However, it turned out that I REALLY needed it, because on day 3 of the course I was triggered by something that just make me want to delete the whole dang blog. I don’t want to be dramatic or anything, but Spark saved the day.

This isn’t to say that you actually need to be in a blogging funk for Spark to be useful. There are 30 days of action-based e-mails (with extra resources) that, in my opinion, will help you to become more productive in your work, find more joy in your online life, and improve your blog. Because of the way it’s set up–asking you to take 30 small actions that really add up over the course of the workshop–it can help you to clean up your blog and social media and establish habits that encourage more efficient work.

I started the course 30 days ago, so I just received my last e-mail for the course today. But I’m a slow-and-steady-goes-the-race person, so I decided to give myself two days instead of one for each action item. That means that I’ve read the whole course, but have only put into action half of the assignments so far. Most of the action items can be done in 10 minutes, but some of them sparked me to take on bigger projects like cleaning up my archives (which is a BIG undertaking and is still ongoing) and reorganizing my workspace to make it more efficient for my crafting flow.

It’s hard for me to describe how exactly Spark has helped me, because I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that it has helped me to get the distance that I needed from my online life. It’s helped me delete some of the negativity that was weighing me down. It has helped me to make hard-for-me decisions that will help me do what I actually want to do (going down to 3 posts a week for the summer is totally what I need right now). And–big deal–it’s pushed me to work to finish the new Nerd Nest blog design that I thought Jake and I would be done with LAST FALL. (So close!)

The first half of Spark was just what I needed to push me in the right direction and I’m so excited to see where the second half takes me.

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I’m an affiliate of Campfire Chic and as such receive a small percentage of any sales made using the links in this post. However, this is not sponsored content: all opinions are my own. I bought and took this course because boy did I need it and am sharing my progress with you because you might need it too.

If you’ve taken Spark, I’d love to hear about your experience with the class!