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The Great Lego Reorganization Project | 21/52 Projects

The Great Lego Reorganization Project

Building Legos is a favorite family activity. They’ve been slowly taking over my house, what with the number of grandparents contributing to the collection during holidays and all. Jake is a fan of the storage method from his childhood: dump everything all together in a big tub and you’ll never be able to make anything by the book again.

But let’s face it, I’m far too crazy to allow that.

Legos have taken over | The Nerd Nest

Instead, I started to sort the Legos by color so I could rebuild a couple of the cool sets Jonas dropped. Let me tell you: it takes a VERY LONG TIME to find the right piece. So organizing by color was the way to go. I started by separating out the colors most commonly found in the Harry Potter sets on big trays. I put special pieces and mini-figure pieces into bowls.

Legos everywhere! - The Nerd Nest

I was also working on rebuilding sets as I went.

We didn’t eat at the kitchen table for awhile.

Legos with the family | The Nerd Nest

We bought small boxes from IKEA for a more permanent storage solution. Jake and the kids helped out too!

Organizing the Legos | The Nerd Nest

Jake got even more intense with it and connected like-size pieces so they’re even easier to find. I also organized the building manuals into a cheap office binder and page protectors.

Using trays for in-progress Lego projects | The Nerd Nest

In-progress build projects are still hanging out on trays so the table can be cleared quickly.

Organizing Legos by Color in IKEA Tubs | The Nerd Nest

The more colorful pieces are all mixed up in a bigger tub, but we’ll be getting an organizer to go in the tub so we can separate those out too. This organization project (which was much more time consuming than it looks) is making building so much easier! When I’m stressed, organizing like this calms me down a lot.

Harry Potter Lego Display Case | The Nerd Nest

Next up: rebuilding the rest of the Harry Potter sets for our crazy display case!


This year it’s my goal to complete 52 projects; an average of 1 a week. Projects can be art, crafts, home improvement, tech, gardening, or whatever else my brain ventures into. The point is to MAKE. This is project 19 of 52! Check out the other projects: 1 : Script Art / 2: Striped Scarf / 3: Pillow Covers / 4: Eliza’s Doctor Who Valentines / 5: DIY Periodic Table Mirrors / 6: Band Pin Display / 7: French Monuments with Eliza’s Class / 8: Crystal Nail String Art / 9: Adventures in Dye / 10: Spring Poems / 11: Getting the Garden Going / 12: Le Petite Prince Painting / 13: DIY Cleaning Supplies / 14: Picking Up the Violin Again / 15: Shaving Cream Marbling / 16: Water Marbling / 17: Watercolor Crayon Resisting / 18: Doctor Who Guess Who / 19: Spray Painting My Way to a Fancier Porch / 20: Project Life Stop Motion.

Week in the Life | The Plan

Simple Week in the Life in Project Life by Megan Anderson at the Nerd Nest

For the past two years, I’ve been participating in Ali Edwards’s Week in the Life. I’m planning on joining in for this seven day documentation project again this year!

Every time I plan on doing a big project I’ve done before, I review what I’ve done previously so I can decide what I liked and didn’t like about my past takes. This helps me to decide what to do next!

Here’s what I did the past two years:

Week in the Life Plan

Week in the Life Plan

Week in the Life Plan

Week in the Life Plan

For my 2012 Week in the Life, I made a separate 8.5 x 11 album. I made several pages for each day: an overlay with the day of the week, a full page photo with my favorite photo of the day, big photo + journaling pages, and a collage of photos with a bit of patterned paper and embellishments in the empty spaces. There are several journaling / collage pages for each day.

Here’s the thing: I’m still not done with the album. I avoid hybrid projects for some reason, and printing that many 8.5 x 11 photos is pretty pricey. So while there are things I love about this album (the big photos, more journaling fit in because it’s typed ), I know that if I want to finish the project, I shouldn’t go this route.

(Though it’s my goal to finish up this album next month.)

Simple Week in the Life in Project Life by Megan Anderson at the Nerd Nest

Simple Week in the Life in Project Life by Megan Anderson at the Nerd Nest

Simple Week in the Life in Project Life by Megan Anderson at the Nerd Nest

Simple Week in the Life in Project Life by Megan Anderson at the Nerd Nest

For my 2013 Week in the Life, I added a spread for each day in Project Life (with inserts on the weekends). For the first four days, each day focused on one family member, then for Friday-Sunday documented what everyone was up to. I kept it simple by using one kit and one page protector design all of the way through with very minimal embellishing (which also helped there to be room for all of the extra pages so there wouldn’t be too much bulk).

I love this approach, though I think the only major thing that maybe wasn’t the greatest idea was to write out all of the journaling by hand. I already had all of it typed up on the computer, so copying / pasting and making digital journaling cards would have made much more sense in terms of time.

So what does that mean for this year?

I’ll be doing something very similar to last year’s: one Project Life spread for each day, Monday-Thursday focusing on one family member apiece, and simple products.

This time I’ll be using Ali Edwards’s Week in the Life Kit, though I’ll be saving the album and page protectors for another project. I plan on supplementing with digital cards so I can type journaling. Or, if I have a lot to say, I might add a 6×12 journaling insert for each day.

I’ve been taking photos with my phone more often that my photos with my big camera this year, and I’m looking forward to this week of being intentional and documenting with the big camera and lots of words.

Ali is documenting October 27th through November 2nd, but since I run my Project Life weeks from Sunday to Saturday, I’ll be documenting October 26th through November 1st. I’ll also be skipping my monthly Day in the Life on the 15th this month.

Are you playing along with Week in the Life? What’s your plan?

Days of the Week

P.S. You might like the free download we made of Jake’s pretty script days of the week.

Mix the Old and the New

Mix Old and New | The Nerd Nest

Ideas don’t exist in a vacuum.

Let the past be your muse! You don’t have to reinvent the proverbial wheel- to get a creative jumpstart, start with an old idea and add a new one.

All of those original ideas and creative works you so admire? They were built on a whole history of ideas. You might not think of yourself as an original person, but original people don’t start from scratch–they remix old ideas with new ones. This week, let’s think of ways you can mix old and new in your creative work to produce something awesome.

Here are a few ideas for mixing old and new:

  • Look through old notebooks or sketch pads to see if you can update ideas you never realized.
  • Use vintage and new supplies to make a home decor piece.
  • Take an old design style–pointillism, cubism, pop art, etc.– and use it as a starting point for a new design.
  • Search through your blog archives and see if there’s a post that you can update with additional information or a more advanced perspective for a new post.
  • Find an old recipe and see how you can make it more modern.
  • Let an old folk song inspire the melody of a new guitar riff.
  • Use an old quilt pattern with modern fabrics.
  • Write story about a secondary character in a story you wrote long ago.

Go through your old creative work–whatever kind of work that may be–and begin a new project based on an idea from something you’ve already done.

P.S. If your old “jumping off point” idea comes from another creative person, remember to cite your sources and give them credit!

Leave a comment and share your ideas for mixing the old and the new to get a creative jumpstart and use the hashtag #NerdNestJumpstart on social media so I can find you!

Creative Jumpstarts from Megan Anderson | The Nerd Nest News

This post was originally sent in a newsletter. Sign up for The Nerd Nest News Creative Jumpstarts so you can get more awesome content like this delivered right to your inbox! The newsletter is bi-weekly (though sometimes I take a break or send extra surprises). I’ll also send you a little reminder when there’s BIG news around here. The next installment is going out tomorrow!

If you already get Creative Jumpstarts, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

October Challenge | Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest 1

Welcome to the monthly Nerd Nest Memory Keeping Challenge!

This month, your challenge is to fill in memory keeping gaps.

Unless you are a diligent chronological scrapbooker, you probably have gaps in your memory keeping system. That’s nothing to be guilty about: I’m pretty sure I’ll never be able to tell all of the stories I want to tell. But still, it can be annoying when I’m flipping through almost-done albums with just a few blank pages. And lots of times, when I skip something, I’m avoiding that “gap” because I’m stuck in some way.

Sometimes those memory keeping gaps are visible: you might have half done or empty backside pages in an album. Sometimes they are less noticeable: when you flip through an album, do you notice any glaring omissions? Are there important-to-you stories that aren’t there?

I have this topic on the brain since Catch Up with Project Life starts this month, so I thought I’d spread my filling in the gaps mania with you and challenge you to fill in some gaps this month!

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  4

The first gap I tackled was a 6×12 insert in this Week 17 spread from my 2013 Project Life album. This insert was meant for documenting building the pipe bookshelves, but after printing the photos at 4×6 and 4×4, I just couldn’t figure out how to design the page while also getting all of the journaling I wanted in there.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest 5

My solution was to just go decorative for the 6×12 page. I kept it simple with the photos, strips of washi tape from an Oh Deer Me kit, and burnished circles of wood. I added a little title block to the side of the 4×4 photo.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  6

For the journaling, I added in a 5×7 page protector. When I can’t fit everything in, an extra insert or hidden interactive elements works for me every time.

On the front side, I added a strip of bigger burnished circles with washi tape to tie in the journaling page with the photos page. I drew lines to write on, which kept it looking a little neater.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  7

I tied in the backside of the journaling card with a boarder of the washi tape and added my journaling to a cute card from this month’s Studio Calico Project Life kit.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  8

My favorite thing about this spread is the QR code. I used a free QR Code Generator to make a code that takes you to the blog post about building the shelves so that readers can see the time lapse video! (You need a free QR Code Scanner App to use these.

I printed it off at 2×2 so it would fit into the space on the tag.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest 2

For this challenge, I also decided that I’m going to finish up the last few gaps in my April-June 2014 album. I started with this previously blank Design H protector, on the other side of which is a companion insert to a layout about Jonas’s mad baking skills.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  3

I didn’t have much else I wanted to add for April, so I went back and picked a few photos I liked that just didn’t make the cut. I’m happy to have filled out this blank space with a few random little stories.

Fill in Memory Keeping Gaps | October Challenge at The Nerd Nest  9

I still have a few more things to fill in for my 2014 April-June album: pages about the kids’ soccer season, a spread for The Maker Faire, and a title page. Then I’ll be ready to share it with you in a video so you can see what a finished album looks like.

What gaps are you going to fill in? 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! Share your links to past challenges too so I can add them.


Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 13

Confessions of a Class Junkie Vol. 13 | The Nerd Nest

I take a silly amount of memory keeping classes online and I’m here again to share my takes with you!

This time I have takes from 30 Days of Lists by Kam and Amy, takes for Kristin’s‘s and my workshop My Details, a take from Big Picture Classes’s Here and There Inspiration by Kelly Purkey and Amy Tan (now closed) and a few pages for Ali Edward’s Prompts Story Stamp theme.

Click on photos for a larger view.

September 2014 #30Lists | The Nerd Nest

#30Lists September 2014 | The Nerd Nest

30 Days of Lists September 2014 | The Nerd Nest

30 Days of Lists is a bi-monthly journaling challenge with daily prompts and is one of the workshops I always look forward to most. For September’s lists, I used Design F Project Life protectors, which fit 10 3×4 lists and one title card per side. For lists 21-30, I used Studio Calico cards from my stash and filled them out with the Lovely mini kit.

Having these lists all filled out makes me so very happy. It’s a simple thing, but looking back at the lists I’ve done over the years really shows me clearly how I’ve changed, even if it isn’t otherwise perceptible to me. The September 2014 30 Days of Lists is over now, but you can still sign up and go at your own pace if you want to!

Tip: When you are making all-card pages, consider making a color pattern, like the checker pattern of blue/greens and pink/reds that I made, to pull the page as a whole together.

April Reads + Currently | The Nerd Nest

I have fun going back to the prompts from Kristin‘s and my workshop My Details again and again. We included a lot of suggestions for variations of the prompts in the workshop so that they can be used as prompts for in-depth documenting, but I went with more surface level takes on the reading prompt this time around. I like how starting with a theme can motivate me to bust out a bunch of spreads.

April Reads | The Nerd Nest

My April Reads + Currently list spread has been hanging out in my album nearly finished for months. I took this as an opportunity to fancy up this card and call it a day. All it needed was a title and a few strips of washi tape (from an Oh Deer Me kit).

*More about that Venn Diagram in this post.

June Reads | The Nerd Nest

I kept going with the My Details prompt but decided to double dip and use design ideas from Here and There Inspiration by Kelly Purkey and Amy Tan for other reads pages. This page actually covers Week 10 and Week 11 of class assignments.

For the background, I was inspired by the wood pallet trend and used this porch as inspiration for the background. I used an older Amy Tangerine paper, cut the 12×12 paper into 4×4 squares, and turned every other square so that the lines changed directions.

Title Inspired by The Clash | The Nerd Nest

For the title, I used the cover art on The Clash’s London Calling for inspiration for the title. To color the wood veneer letters, I just pressed each letter onto an ink pad.

June Page Turners | The Nerd Nest

Tip: When I make patterned paper by repeating a stamp, I alternate colors (4 in this case) and stagger each row, like each stamp is a brick.

July Reads + the Library | The Nerd Nest

For Week 12 of Here and There, I used some of the products I usually have a bit of trouble with, like the busier of the patterned papers found in Studio Calico 4×6 patterned paper pads and illustrated filler Project Life cards. I documented my July Reads and a family trip to the library.

July Reads | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Cut up a 4×6 piece of patterned paper into four 1.5×4 strips and place them on either side of a 3×4 card to give the illusion that you have two matching card backgrounds.

The Library | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Take pictures of mundane, everyday processes like checking out books at the library. This might not seem too exciting to you, but I’m happy to have this documented when I think of how different the process was when I was a kid versus the self-electronic checkout now!

AE Digital Prompts | The Nerd Nest

Last but not least, I was inspired by the amazing class content that goes with Ali Edward’s Prompts Story Stamp theme. I couldn’t wait for my stamp to be delivered, however, so I went ahead with digital versions!

I used the “around here” prompt to include a lot of bits and pieces of life that didn’t get photographed for this 2011 Project Life page.

Ali Edwards Digital Prompts | The Nerd Nest

I used the “Currently” prompt (which is very lightly in the background of those circle Story Frames, but you can hardly see it in the photo) to document what Jonas was like at nine months. I have a lot of monthly update blog posts about him that haven’t made it in the books yet, which I’m fine with. (Document now, make stuff later. It’ll be there!)

Tip: To get the round photo and “Love You” title, I used a Circle Sentiment and a clipping mask. To learn how to do this in Photoshop, check out this video.

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).

Today is for…

Today is for | The Nerd Nest

Listening to heavy rain pitter patter on the leaves through open windows.

Preparing for energy releasing dance parties today, because Jonas goes a little bonkers when we can’t go outside.

Spending time with my smiley niece Ava, whom I’m watching a few times a week now. (There are two baby Avas. This is the newer one. I’m calling her Ava Bee.)

#Thursday3 from rukristin.

Starting on a stack of scary books for October.

Making plans for tomorrow. Eliza has the day off of school.

Extending my yoga practice.

Heading back to the NICU when Jake gets home to see the newest member of my family and to support everyone.

Keeping it together the best I can. The past few weeks have been rough.

This exercise is a great way to document your right now. Make sure to share a link if you write what YOUR today is for too.

Create, Don’t Collect

Create, Don't Collect | The Nerd Nest

This week, we’re going to create, not collect.

As a creative person, you might really have two creative ventures. The first might be your actual hobby or creative work (blogging, scrapbooking, painting, dance, creative writing, gardening, etc.). The second might be collecting for that hobby or creative work (buying supplies, organizing supplies, finding inspiration, researching, etc.). While you do need that second part in most cases–it’s part of the process–sometimes the secondary creative venture can take precedence over or even replace the primary one. You know, the one where you actually do the thing.

Listening to my eight year old daughter Eliza play with a friend made me realize that this is may be a universal creative tendency. Last school year, Eliza and her friend played after school every day, usually with Legos. Recently, they finished building and playing with a large kit and decided to use the Legos for their own, made up game. They were collecting pieces to be “money” and were assigning value and worth to the different pieces. The next afternoon, Eliza’s friend said, “We keep collecting and talking about money, but we’re not actually building anything.”

These two wonderful amazing mini humans had fallen into a creative trap many of us find ourselves in, but because kids are smart, they realized it two days into the game. They were collecting and planning, but they weren’t doing and creating. Sometimes us adults need a little more encouragement to realize we’re similarly stuck.

Make no mistake: the collecting part is a necessary piece of creative work in most instances. But you can’t let it take over.

I recently read the book The Meaning of Names by Karen Gettert Shoemaker, and the author’s daughter-in-law told me a little bit about Shoemaker’s process before I read the novel, which is historical fiction. Shoemaker had to eventually put a note on her computer that read, “Researching is not writing.” The research for the novel–a necessary component to be sure–was taking over the actual creative work of writing the novel. It can be hard to move on to the next step and actual create, but you have to move on to the hard bit.

When you plan and collect, it feels like you are doing something. It is also exciting, because it’s a step that comes before what is maybe the less fun part of creative work: priming with paint, editing photos, laying the groundwork. Collecting is also less risky: you’re less likely to mess up this step or be judged for your work. Once you move into actually creating, you’re vulnerable. But if you get stuck in the collecting part of creating, you spend your time and energy there and don’t make your own creative work happen.

So let’s create rather than collect.

Leave a comment and share your little creative plans and use the hashtag #NerdNestJumpstart on social media so I can find you!

Creative Jumpstarts from Megan Anderson | The Nerd Nest News

This post was originally sent in a newsletter. Sign up for The Nerd Nest News Creative Jumpstarts so you can get more awesome content like this delivered right to your inbox! The newsletter is bi-weekly (though sometimes I take a break or send extra surprises). I’ll also send you a little reminder when there’s BIG news around here. The next installment is going out next week!

If you already get Creative Jumpstarts, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!

Catch Up with Project Life Sneak Peek + FAQ

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 1

Today (September 30, 2014) is the last day to use the $5 off coupon code teacherspet for Catch Up with Project Life, which makes the workshop only $25! In light of that, I thought it would be a good time to share share some class sneak peeks of my work with you and answer a few FAQ. (Make sure you are following Annette and Trisha on Instagram so you can see sneaks from them too!)

Here’s the sneaks and a Q&A:

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 2

Have I seen all of this stuff before?

No! Each of us are sharing projects exclusive to the class each week. For my video presentations, I use a mix of past layouts I’ve made as examples of the principles I’m teaching, an exclusive project I walk you through in the context of the challenge, plus usually a few more exclusive examples mixed in (but you probably wouldn’t notice the new ones from the already-seen ones in the presentation unless you’re a close reader).

We’re also having a big 12 hour long event at the end of class with posts by a teacher on every hour, posts from a guest on every half hour, and prizes. For that, us 3 teachers are swapping around and doing each other’s challenges, so there will be even more exclusive spreads there!

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 7

I’m all caught up, but I love your work! Will I still be able to get something out of this class?

Because the challenges are geared towards helping you with common reasons PLers get stuck, there’s a lot in there that will be helpful even if you aren’t “behind”. However, there will be a few challenges that aren’t relevant unless you have multiple past spreads to work on–especially the pre-class challenges. You are welcome to go way back in the past for those sorts of challenges (I did a few spreads from years like 2006 and 2011 and know a few people who are using the whole class to work on past years) and do “current” spreads for the rest if that’s what you want to work on! Knowing that, it’s up to you to decide if the class will be worth it for you if not all of it will be especially relevant for what you want to work on.

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 6

I don’t do weekly Project Life. Is the class geared towards those who do?

It isn’t geared toward any specific time frame. I personally approach Project Life from a weekly basis, so a lot of my examples cover a week (though not all of them). However, we were careful to talk about different ways to approach challenges and to be inclusive in our language!

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 5

I want to make more spreads, but I’m not particularly concerned with “being caught up”. Is that okay?

Of course! “Catch Up” is in the title because it’s the most common concern we see from PLers. But this is a no-guilt class. We all want to fill in gaps and make progress, but if you don’t want to set a goal to get completely current (or don’t think it’s a realistic expectation), that’s totally fine! This is all about what you prioritize and getting past problems that might be holding you back from documenting.

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 4

I do small-format / digital Project Life. Is there anything in the class for me?

The challenges will work no matter what format you choose, because they’re based on principles, not on copying specific spreads (though if you’re inspired and want to scraplift, that’s great!). I have a bonus vacation minibook in one of the lessons and we’ll have a few guests for the big event who do small format, but we’ll mostly be sharing 12×12 examples.

Annette has some digital pages, we’ll be talking a bit about the Project Life App, and we have a few guests lined up at the big event that are digital Project Lifers. All in all, the concepts will work even if you’re digital, though you might want to skip over some of the physical process stuff.

Catch Up with Project Life at Big Picture Classes | Sneak 3

How much stuff is really in this class?

It is so very packed. We stuffed a full extra week of content into the pre-class (so you can be ready when the class starts!). Each week, each of us has a video presentation (they can range anywhere from 5 minutes to a half an hour depending on how much we need to get the topic across), a PDF handout, and sometimes a bonus worksheet. We have bonus handouts each week during class with tips for a few tricky areas like cover and end pages, memorabilia, and extra projects. Each of us has a video chat and we’ll have an active message board. We have daily inspiration e-mails so you don’t forget all about the class after the day content goes live for the week. And don’t forget that big event with a total of 24 posts and 12 prizes up for grabs! It’s really stuffed to the brim and I’m very proud of it!

Catch Up with Project Life

Catch Up with Project Life is open for registration now! Today is the last day to use the code teacherspet for $5 off the class. It is only good in September! This code can’t be combined with other offers.

Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll do my best to answer!

August Reads

Reads Post | Megan Anderson | The Nerd Nest

I read a big stack of books last month, so I’m going to race through them with you!

Books I Read in August | Reveiws at the Nerd Nest

Here are the books I read in August:

Cane River (2001) Lalita Tademy

This was my favorite book of the month and might sit among my favorites period.

In this familial epic, Tademy recreated a fictional account of four generations of her real ancestors, who were enslaved in Louisiana.

I found the portrayal of the French / Creole antebellum culture interesting and the subtleties of it is something I’ve never encountered (which is shocking considering the mountain of American History classes I have under my belt).

I was captivated by the stunning strength and identities of the women in the family. Their pain was intense and I cried through a fair amount of the book, but more than the war heroes and politicians glorified in our textbooks, these are the American stories that should be told.

Flight Behavior (2012) Barbara Kingsolver

I picked this up for my local book club. It’s another one of those “way better if you don’t know what it’s about” books, so I won’t give much away.

I will say that I enjoyed it and really liked talking about it with friends. I didn’t think I’d like it in the beginning: for the first chapter, the imagery is too heavy handed and the camera follows a bit too close. That’s just a set up for a big revelation, however, and the rest of the writing is much more balanced.

It’s a bit socially preachy at times, which is common in Kingsolver’s books (and not as irritating to me as I tend to agree with her), but the stories are wonderfully interwoven and a reader will walk away with a much deeper understanding of class privilege and class culture clash.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000) Dave Eggers

I’ve been saving this one and really expected to like it because I’ve liked the other words I’ve read from Eggers. That did not happen.

Usually I can separate not liking a narrator or protagonist from liking the book, but I have trouble with memoirs. If I don’t like a character, then the author could be using the character to shed light on something. A character’s actions are not condoning that character’s behavior. But in a memoir, not liking the protagonist is equivalent to not liking the author. Even though some of the writing was tongue-in-cheek, it was hard for me to get past the self aggrandizement, unacknowledged privilege (so much white guy whining that there’s not enough room for him in a world obsessed with tokenism diversity), and the subtle racism and sexism peppered throughout.

There were good bits: I’ve lived with someone dying of cancer and his descriptions of that experience hit home for me. The meta commentary before the novel started was hilarious. And his descriptions of racing worrisome thoughts brought on from anxiety were spot on.

Looking for Alaska (2005) John Green

I’ve been on a bit of a John Green kick, because they’re good easy reads when things get busy. I’ve been trying to spread them out, because I know he writes with a pretty repetitive formula and that will annoy me back-to-back. That’s starting to happen: I’m going to need a female character that does not fit into the manic pixie dream girl archetype soon.

Repetitive plot devices and character tropes aside, I really like the way that Green writes teenagers. He’s a talented emotional writer and gives you the whole range. I’ve heard a lot of complaints that the teens in his works have “Dawson’s Creek syndrome” and talk above their age, but I don’t see it that way. My high school journals read like a Green character. The conversations I had with friends about the meaning of life and about philosophy and culture can sometimes be found in annotated form in some of those pages. I went to a college prep school, so that might have something to do with it, but I think that so many seriously underestimate what youth are capable of. I’m glad that nerdy teens have someone like Green to read who doesn’t pander to that.

I also read:

  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, the second book in the series, because Eliza loves them and I like talking about them with her (she loves telling me the parts she thinks are funniest and I like challenging her to find parts that are problematic). Also, the books are super funny.
  • The Giver, which I read out loud to Eliza and is one of my favorite books of all time. (I even named a kid after the protagonist, if that wasn’t obvious.) It sparked a lot of great conversations between us and has now won out as her favorite book.
  • The World of Pooh: The Complete Winnie-The-Pooh and the House at Pooh Corner, because I was having a day and needed a dose of cute. I love the subtle humor in these stories and even laughed out loud a few times.
  • Othello, which is my favorite work of Shakespeare to think about. Iago is a fascinating villain and I’ve read this play time and time again to reflect on his motivations. This time, however, I read from a feminist criticism perspective and paid close attention to the portrayal of women in the play. I love this New Folger Library edition, which has the play on the right pages and definitions, descriptions of allusions, and explanations on the left pages. This helps me greatly with words that have changed meaning–there are so many puns I’d miss otherwise.
  • Early Kansas City, Missouri, which is a photo history of KC. I didn’t love the format of the book, with a short essay at the beginning of each chapter and only photo captions thereafter. I also didn’t like the way it was laid out visually. However, I learned a few things I didn’t already know. And it is interesting to connect the names and places in my neighborhood to the history of the city. (Though one street near me is named after the person who first brought enslaved people to the area, so that’s messed up.)

August Reads | The Nerd Nest

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.

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Project Life 2014 | July 27-30

#projectlife at 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 a spread from the end of July.

Click on the photos for a larger view.

Project Life July 27-30 | The Nerd Nest

July 27-30

Because I do monthly breaks between weekly spreads for extra layouts and pocket pages, I treated these four days as a whole weekly spread. If I had fewer photos, I’d just absorb them into the previous weekly spread. (That happens almost never.)

Using square pockets in #projectlife | The Nerd Nest

Going on here: Latte and trying a new roast, Eliza playing Legos with a friend after school, me multitasking yoga and dinner prep, us + Paul at the Sound of Music (because Paul is awesome and scored us free tickets).

Use tags to add journaling to patterned cards in #projectlife | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Tags are a great way to get words onto busy patterned papers that aren’t meant as journaling cards. I used tags from the Crate Paper Notes & Things ephemera pack, which came in the Yeats Studio Calico add-on. The 4×4 cards are from a Studio Calico 4×6 paper pad, my go-to for 4×4 pockets.

Use story prompts on cards for your journaling | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Journaling cards are often meant to be journaling sparks: use them to tell stories in a different way! I had fun with this pros / cons / final decision card and thought it was a great way to tell the story of the musical we all went to, because it was pretty much equal parts fun and horrible.

Science City in #projectlife at the Nerd Nest

Going on here: Science City with the kids and Paul, getting interviewed about The Discovery of King Tut.

Attach translucent embellishments with staples | The Nerd Nest

Tip: Use staples to attach translucent embellishments. I use turquoise staples that I picked up at Target!

Tip: Try writing around shapes or the edges of cards to add a bit of visual interest to your words.

Overlap embellishments over two pockets in Project Life | The Nerd Nest

Tip: To spread an embellishment over two pockets inside the pockets, I take both cards out, line them up, adhere the embellishment, flip the cards over, and snip the embellishment between the card edges.

Adhere thick embellishments to the outside of pockets | The Nerd Nest

Supplies: Studio Calico Project Life kit, Oh Deer Me kit embellishments, Project Life journaling pens, Design A page protectors, Design M page protectors from this variety pack, Project Life corner rounder.

For all posts tagged Project Life, click here.

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

Catch Up with Project Life

Catch Up with Project Life is open for registration now! Use the code teacherspet for $5 off the class through September. This code can’t be combined with other offers.