SYW185 – Documenting Life with a Planner

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When Jennie McGarvey joined our first creative team a decade ago, she was at the beginning of her deep involvement in the online memory keeping world. Today she’s creating content for her own platforms as well as teaching for brands, in scrapbooking as well as the topic of today’s episode: planning.

From decorating your functional planner to shifting some of your memory keeping to the planner format, aka memory planning, Jennie is all-in when it comes to this creative format. In our conversation she highlights why it serves her so well, how it has changed her scrapbooking, and whether she has found that elusive “planner peace.”

Links Mentioned

[00:00:00] Jennifer Wilson: Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a memory keeper today. I’m your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 185. In this episode I'm joined by Jennie McGarvey to chat about planning as a creative project. Our conversation includes both functional and memory planning along with a genuine celebration of doing things "your way."

[00:00:57] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Jennie. Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.

[00:00:59] Jennie McGarvey: Thanks for having me.

[00:01:01] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, I am excited about our conversation. Can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?

[00:01:08] Jennie McGarvey: Sure. I am a mom of three boys, two of which are in college and one just started high school last week, and a husband. I live in Southern California. I've been paper crafting since middle school, but in this more, I don't know, just the more modern way since 2011. Actually before that. But, uh, 2011 is when I decided to get online, I was really reading a lot of blogs and all that kind of stuff, and it seemed fascinating. So I wanted to join in as well. And since then I have been working in the industry since 2013 and on lots of teams and publications and all kinds of stuff.

[00:01:55] Jennifer Wilson: Very cool. I, yeah, we're going to get into a little bit of our history here in a little bit. But I just love, kind of the origin stories that we have and how particularly this, this new online world, either kind of recaptured people's interests or captured it for the first time. Because you, all of a sudden, you start poking around and you realize there's just so much information. And so many people doing all these fun things that you just, you didn't even know was there happening behind your screen.

[00:02:26] Jennie McGarvey: Oh, for sure. And I think that I'm really grateful for it because not only, you know, the sense of community and getting to know people, but then also this thought process of before, you know, it was really about like, yeah, I was enjoying the products and yeah, I was also, uh, creating things that I enjoy, but I wasn't thinking about it in the same way. I think that being online and being open up to so many different schools of thought like, oh, it's okay to just create because you want to. You know, and if the results are you like them, great. And if not, that's okay too. So it's been such a wonderful journey over all of these years.

[00:03:07] Jennifer Wilson: I love hearing that. So what's exciting you right now, inside of memory keeping and the broader paper crafting world?

[00:03:16] Jennie McGarvey: You know, I think that there are people, I guess what's really exciting right now is the willingness to try new things. I feel like I've been memory planning since 2016 and it was sort of, I don't want to say like a lonely space, but there were not many people doing it. And thanks to Heidi Swapp, in the past year, year and a half, we've really seen this explosion of people getting more interested, being more open to it, being more open to seeing things in different ways. And also for the exact same thing that I just talked about, which was that people are so much more willing now to just allow people to be creative for creativity's sake. And that's just really exciting to me because I think documenting is amazing and storytelling is amazing too, but I don't think it has to be for, oh, this is going to be for my family a hundred years from now. It can just be for you right now. And that's okay.

[00:04:14] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love that. You know, one thing that's interesting about the Heidi Swapp products is, is just seeing her evolution of, I don't know how to say this. I feel like she could tell that there's something here and I just need to keep trying to get it right. Because she was doing the original Storyline pages, which were like simple scrapbook pages. And then there were like bound planners and ring by, ring planners and then, okay, no people want, like, sewn bound. Let's keep it really flat. And now she's just exploded with, you know, different products. And I think it really allowed memory planning to reach an even wider audience.

[00:04:53] Jennie McGarvey: Oh, for sure. Because I think that that's one of the beautiful things about Heidi and the evolution, right. Is that she's like you just said, she's not afraid to try new things and if they don't work that's okay. You know, like she'll, she'll have another idea right behind that. So I think that's been so cool. And memory planning is genuinely, I feel like is such a accessible project for anybody. And I have an answer for anybody who says, oh, I don't do anything, nope, what about these ideas? Because I promise your daily life is far more interesting than you give yourself credit for.

[00:05:33] Jennifer Wilson: Hmm. Hm. Oh yeah. So we're going to get more into that. But before we do that, I'm curious about your memory keeping bucket list. So this is a story that feels important to document and whatever format you might want to document it. So what would be one story on yours?

[00:05:49] Jennie McGarvey: Sure. So, like I mentioned, I've been memory keeping since middle school and I'm, you know, mid forties now. So I've been memory keeping a long time. So I don't have a ton of those, but I do have two things that I just haven't gotten to yet that I kind of want to do. In 2018, I went to Chile for a long weekend and I taught a couple of classes. And I talk about my trip all the time. So this isn't new to anybody who's heard me or followed me for any length of time. I talk about it like regularly like, cause it was such a life changing experience, but so that's one. And then the other is that I've had this idea for about a year now I'd like to create like a memories album. So up until, you know, I'll say my youth or my childhood, stories that I just remember, um, things about, you know, family members or stuff like that, that I just like to document basically with old photos, they don't necessarily even have to truly be related. But if they are that's great. I'd just like to get those stories down on paper, just little things, nothing earth shattering or things like that. Just when you think back to like, oh, I remember being five years old and this happened like, yeah, I'd like to document those. They seem really fun.

[00:07:04] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. And I can see it for something like that, where let's just say, it's remembering memories about your uncle and you have a photo of, of, of him. And, but in a format where you can continue to add to it as those memories come to you, because it's sometimes hard to sit down and be like, okay, now what's everything. No, our brains don't work that way. Something's going to jog your memory, you know, a month or even a year or more down the road.

[00:07:30] Jennie McGarvey: 100% that. Like, and because again, they're your memories. You can use, you know, whatever random childhood photo of you to tell that story. Cause they're not, no, they're not necessarily interconnected. I mean, they could be certainly, but they don't have to be because you're just talking about memories that you have of your childhood. That more than likely aren't incredibly specific to like an age. I mean, they could be. Cause oh, I remember that windbreaker, I thought, you know, for the first day of second grade and I was so proud, like that could be it. And you could have a picture of you in that, in that windbreaker, you know, but it doesn't have to be, is what I'm getting at. Cause I know, you know, I'm sure most of us have random photos from our childhood that you can't tie to a specific event. And then you have stories, the same thing that you don't necessarily have a photo that helps you tell that story of how your uncle, you know, took you driving one time when you were 12, you know, but like you'd like to document that.

[00:08:27] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. Yes. Those are so fun. And I love how our community, our industry has, uh, embraced that greater degree of flexibility. I think with the innovation and products that has better supported that. And then now there's just so much of a dialogue over, let's get the stories out and as you said, pair them with what you have and it's never going to be perfect, but something is better than nothing.

[00:08:51] Jennie McGarvey: Absolutely. And like your catchphrase. So, you know, Scrapbook Your Way, you know, like exactly the same thing. Just do it the way that you have access to, or supplies you have access to. That you have time for, that you have headspace for. Like, you know, it doesn't have to be anything so specific. And I think that's really, really interesting.

[00:09:14] Jennifer Wilson: So today we're really going to be talking about planning your way. And planning as a creative practice, all on its own. But first I kind of want to go back a little bit. You were actually part of our very first creative team in 2012, so a decade ago, and I found the bio. I know it's just amazing how much time has gone by. I found your bio when I was like searching my email last night and I'm gonna read it just because it's so fascinating from kind of an industry perspective to see what's changed and I'm sure that it's like, it's interesting to you personally, to think about, you mentioned your boys, you know, that, you know, the youngest one is now going to high school and all that, and it's just, um, yeah. Uh, so interesting. But let me read it here. Jennie McGarvey is a stay at home mom of three boys ages ten, eight and a half, and four. Living in middle America after a recent move from Southern California. Now, are you back in California?

[00:10:11] Jennie McGarvey: Yup. Yup. I am.

[00:10:13] Jennifer Wilson: Okay. You'll have to tell us about that. So she's been scrapbooking in the current style, acid free, and with thought for over 10 years. But has been making scrapbooks her whole life and is enjoying getting more involved with other scrapbookers. In addition to the Simple Scrapper team, Jennie is a design team member for Ella Publishing's Take 12 Team, vintage Street Market and Paper Issues. Aside from teamwork Jennie has also been published 14 times in different print scrapbook magazines this past year. Back when there were different prints scrapbook magazines.

[00:10:43] Jennie McGarvey: Right. Isn't that nuts too.

[00:10:47] Jennifer Wilson: So yeah, like tell me what came to mind when, when you read this, I'd love to hear kind of how your life and your hobby has evolved over the past

[00:10:55] Jennie McGarvey: 10 years.

Yeah, I'd love to talk about that. That's so fascinating too. I, of course, as you already touched upon the initial is that, you know, my boys were so small and they're so grown now. Like my oldest son just started his senior year of college. My baby just started his freshman year of high school. So that, of course, in and of itself. And so obviously the stories that I tell that are current, are much, much different than they were then. And, you know, obviously my planner reflects that as well. It's also just interesting about how really, you know, very few print magazines are left. And so that's really not the same level of excitement as a scrapbooker, as it was at that time to be published in a print magazine. Um, just, I find it fascinating that 10 years later, the same hobby, and I classify it as the same hobby, because let's be clear. For me, planning is the same as memory keeping. They are one in the same, uh, they're just different formats and different, I'm using different tools, but the same hobby thrills me 10 years later. You know, and 10 years before that too, because I was still doing it 10 years before that. So that's the part that really gets me and that there are still thriving businesses like yours, like Paper Issues that are still serving the community. And I find that to be just really heartwarming.

[00:12:27] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, yeah, for sure. And I think it's, it's all those businesses like ours, that support kind of the manufacturers too, like in Paper Issues, the smaller shops that have challenges and, and get people excited and interested in using their products. That's what I think kind of helps keep it interesting and the magazines that we do have, and just the, hopefully we've been able to kind of support the evolution and help bring people along as things changed. So widely you know, they were already changing 10 years ago, but then if you think 10 years before that, you know, how much has changed in that time. So it's just,

[00:13:10] Jennie McGarvey: Truly.

[00:13:11] Jennifer Wilson: And very fascinating for

[00:13:13] Jennie McGarvey: sure.

1000%, You know, it's just, it's such a wonderful trip down memory lane too, because I love hearing other people's journeys and I don't reflect on my own that often. You know, just because it's something we do daily. Right. So you don't really spend that much time thinking about, you know, the actual steps of where you've been like, yeah, oh yeah, you know, I used to do this. You know, you might think of it in a cursory way, but you don't think about it, you know, more deeply. So that's been fun to think about.

[00:13:41] Jennifer Wilson: Now am I remembering correctly that you were in Indiana back then?

[00:13:44] Jennie McGarvey: I was, yeah, so my husband works for Toyota and he has worked for them since we graduated from college. And so we've moved all over the country and we lived in Southwestern Indiana for two and a half years. And we had moved here from Southern California. And then we moved back to Southern California. Like we live in the exact same neighborhood we lived in before. We, you know, we just, we missed it terribly. And so we came back and yeah, we've happily been back here for eight years. So.

[00:14:13] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, it would be an understatement to say those are two very different places.

[00:14:17] Jennie McGarvey: um, yes, they are vastly different. However, we grew up and went to college in Iowa and so Indiana wasn't, I don't know, it wasn't that different from Iowa. I mean, it was, but it wasn't, you know, all that.

[00:14:31] Jennifer Wilson: At least you knew what

to expect a


[00:14:33] Jennie McGarvey: It wasn't a culture shock. Like when we lived in New Jersey, it was a huge culture shock from Iowa to New Jersey. So, yeah, that was a, yes. absolutely.

[00:14:43] Jennifer Wilson: So, when I was thinking about having you on the show, I knew I wanted to talk about what you're doing with planning and both this, this there's kind of two different worlds. There's people who are using functional planning as in what am I going to do next and making that decorative, and then also memory planning where you're reflecting back, whether it's immediately or even a little bit further on what you've actually done. So I'm curious how you got interested in this. You said you've been doing it since 2016. How, how did that evolve from just making a scrapbook pages to bringing planners into your creativity?

[00:15:21] Jennie McGarvey: Sure. Absolutely. So in 2014, I bought a planner. I bought a Erin Condren planner, because I saw, I don't, I don't remember where I saw it. But I saw it somewhere and it was fascinating to me because my brain loved the layout, the vertical layout like that. You started at the top of the day with the morning and you ended the day. And for me, that was very different than the traditional horizontal planners that you saw at chariot or wherever. My brain never got with that, but the vertical planners. So I purchased this and for a long time, meaning several months, I just wrote with pen and that was it. I had three school aged kids that had multiple sports. Each I was everywhere all at once. I had all kinds of pickup times. I had all kinds of practices. I had all kinds of stuff. Like I literally needed it for my sanity and yes, I could use my phone, but then I couldn't add like, oh, stop by and buy milk and bananas or those types of things. And so one planner having all of that information was just absolutely perfect. And then the planner community exploded right about that exact same time. And that's when people were really starting to form communities and buy products, like they were scrapbooking. But I learned right away that scrapbookers, didn't like planning and planners didn't like scrapbooking. And so they were two totally different audiences. And maybe, I shouldn't say didn't like, but didn't understand. You know, like they weren't like, yeah, no, I'm not a scrapbooker, I I'm a planner, you know, and vice versa. Planners or scrapbookers didn't understand why would you waste all that time on a planner? You know? But for me, I saw right away that this was a tool. That I could stay organized. I could get my kids where they needed to go, but then I could also put washi. I could stamp one of my cute stamps there and motivate myself because how do I motivate myself? Well, when I go back to the pages, I find that washi adorable. I love those two stamps that I used there. So for me, it was super motivating to go back and look at those pages because I loved the products I had added so much. I was never over the top initially in terms of what I was adding. It was very simple. And I go back to those early scrapbooks or early planners in the same way that I go back to the earliest scrapbooks, they were hideous. Like I hate them like, oh my gosh, they're so bad, right? The same way that we do our early scrapbooks. And so you just grow and you learn. And the evolution of that as a canvas was absolutely enormous. And then in 2015, the Happy Planner released, and it was very similar to an Erin Condren, except for that, it had disks. And I was thrilled with this idea, because again, for stamping, it was much more friendly to be able to pull the pages out and stamp directly on the pages without any coil in the way. So I was hooked from the moment I saw the Happy Planner at CHA in January of 2015. And yes, I can remember it because I can remember it so vividly seeing the planner being like, oh my god, this is amazing. Like, I couldn't wait for it to happen. And I joined the design team that year and was on it for several years after that, including the, the Squad and all kinds of stuff after that. And then in 2016, I was really struggling with Project Life. And not because I didn't like it. I did like it, but it was hard to keep up with. It felt really huge every week to fill two 12 by 12 page protectors. Full of things like it was all encompassing. I didn't feel like I could still make other layouts and, you know, like I didn't have time for that. And so I wasn't making time for that, right. So I decided, guess what a memory planner, those pages are only seven by nine. Yeah. I could probably fill a seven by nine page. I also, again, recognize that my kids were so involved because of the ages that they were. And they were young men that liked to play sports and things like that. And so I knew my life would never look the way that it did right then. And I really wanted to capture that. And there was no better way to do that than with divided page protectors or memory planning, if you will. Because it really allows you to celebrate the mundane, celebrate the every day, more so than other projects do. I mean, Day In The Life or Week In The Life allows that as well. But memory planning or Project Life really, really celebrated that. The first year, I must admit my first memory planner is on three inch discs. They look like drink coasters are so enormous. Yeah. Because every single week had a page protector and then two sheets of paper. I, that was the only year I did that. I quickly realized that that was not sustainable. It was, I actually didn't like it because the book itself was too big. And ever since then, I've been getting smaller and smaller and finding ways to include the same information, but make it more compact and succinct.

[00:20:31] Jennifer Wilson: Okay, before we go there, I'm actually curious. Do you think the relationship between planners and scrapbookers has shifted since you first started and how, how so.

[00:20:45] Jennie McGarvey: I think that both parties are a little bit more aware or a little bit more, don't want to say respectful, but a little bit more appreciative of the, the other, right. Or at least planners are more appreciative of scrapbookers I think at this point. And I think that scrapbookers do now see the value in paper planners or some do, but maybe they're not at least saying, why would I do that? You know, that's a waste of time or that's a waste of supplies or whatever, and saying, okay, that works for some people, you know, it may not work for me or whatever. Um, but I still don't think there's a ton of crossover, you know, I don't think there's a huge amount of crossover between decorative planning and scrapbooking.

[00:21:33] Jennifer Wilson: Interesting because, okay. So I don't, I don't know if I totally agree, because almost, I would say at least 50%, if not more of the guests I've had in the podcast this year have talked about doing memory planning and these are all scrapbookers. So I, it's.

[00:21:52] Jennie McGarvey: I guess maybe, I mean, like actual functional planning, right? Like, so decorative functional planning versus memory planning. I do think many more scrapbookers are jumping on the memory planning because it is amazing. Like, it is really genuinely something that we have always been doing just with a dated paper versus undated or with, you know, paper that doesn't include a calendar.

[00:22:17] Jennifer Wilson: Okay. Okay. Cause I'm a decorative functional planner, but I'm not a memory planner. So that's really also interesting to think about that way.

[00:22:25] Jennie McGarvey: One of the unicorns. I mean, okay. Maybe unicorn's a bad example.

[00:22:28] Jennifer Wilson: I've always been a unicorn of course, but, uh,

[00:22:30] Jennie McGarvey: Of course. Naturally.

[00:22:34] Jennifer Wilson: No. Yeah, no, it was just so interesting to think about. And I like, I'm trying to visualize like multiple Venn diagrams here of where these communities overlap. I know that when planning really started to take off and we were seeing the products, you know, take over and even displace things, especially in the big box stores. part of me was kind of excited about bringing new people into paper crafting in general and all of our fun supplies. And I think, I think memory planning and just the invitation to include photos has kind of maybe like made that bridge stronger because I there's always been the question of like, well, how do you get photos that small? And like, Hey, we're scrapbookers we can help.

[00:23:19] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah, Absolutely

[00:23:21] Jennifer Wilson: So, um, I think that's been really interesting to watch over time as, you know, especially as social media blurs the lines even, even further. So.

Gosh. Yes, for sure. Social media has definitely changed everything, right. I mean the entire landscape of the hobby has been changed by social media.

But yeah, I guess going back to your statement too, of the, maybe lack of overlap, because from my perspective, there's a lot of planning stuff on TikTok, but there's not very much scrapbooking stuff.

[00:23:56] Jennie McGarvey: Correct? Yep. That's absolutely true.

[00:23:59] Jennifer Wilson: That's very interesting. Wow. Okay. I mean, we could go down that rabbit hole for awhile, but let's talk specifically about you and what you're using right now. So can you run us through the planners you're using, the types of planning you're doing, and kind of what, what roles and functions those have?

[00:24:20] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah, absolutely. So as a planner or as a using a dated book that has paper and those types of things. Cause you know, again, for me, the lines are very blurry for memory keeping and planning. Because I think that there's sort of this scale of what I do, right? So one is a functional planner, ten is eight and a half by 11 scrapbook pages, you know? And so then they all fall on this continuum, but I really consider them to all be very similar in and of themselves. But so I am using, I always use some sort of functional planner where I can write everything down, but things I've already talked about, you know, so-and-so has practice, I need to stop at the grocery store. I need to buy printer ink. I need to make this phone call. I just, I operate so much better when I can write those things down. And then it's also a creative practice for me as well, getting to use cute markers, getting to use pens that I like. Getting to use a swatch of washi that I have in my stash that otherwise it's just going to languish there forever because you know, I love washi. It's amazing, but you know, a person could only use so much. So it's, so a functional planner is always amazing. I'm currently using a Hemlock and Oak. I'm using a daily planner. I have come into loving daily and loving bound. But what I will say about that is that I'm equal opportunity. I love so many planners and that's how I've gotten to kind of this space. I was previously, I was using a disc bound, classic size, Happy Planner or a planner in the same structure. I like the vertical. I like those types of things. Then Happy Planner's, paper quality has really decreased. And that wasn't for me because I have really heavy handwriting. And so I was having a lot of ghosting and bleeding. I stamp a lot. I was having a lot of ghosting and in stamp or, and bleeding in my stamping. And so I needed to switch paper. I did go to an Erin Condren bound, but problem is that I like to experiment. I like to change things. I like to use different planners. And so I was really having a hard time because I also like at the end of the year to have one planner that sits on my shelf and that says, this was 2022. This is where I went. This is what I bought. This is who I saw. And when I allow myself to change a planner every two months. I don't have that. I then have five or six planners on a shelf, which I don't like because I am ultimately sort of a minimalist at heart. And so what I decided was that I promise this has point, that I was going to allow myself to do both. So I am now currently using one 12 month planner that I'm using the Cocoa Daisy Minimalist Collection, classic vertical inserts. So it looks like a Happy Planner, but it's using Cocoa Daisy's planner insert paper, which is beautiful. It's just absolutely gorgeous. It's thick enough. It's pretty, it's lovely. The inserts are very, very neutral so I can add anything I want to them and it matches and it looks fantastic. And then I am using my memory planner. I'm currently using Heidi Swapp Storyline Chapter inserts. I took a chance the first half of the year, I used a Cocoa Daisy planner. And I loved it. I love the layout. I love everything about it, but I just love bound planners right now. So those Heidi Swapp inserts were perfect because they're little bound booklets. They're succinct, they're compact. They go in this really beautiful binder that she sells, that you can add the inserts to and sit on the shelf and it looks beautiful. So those three things are my main planners. Will I change next month, my functional planner? Maybe. I mean, I never rule it out because that's one of the things I enjoy the most about my creative practice is trying new things, doing different things. I'm just, I am not a person who finds something and never changes. I am a person who finds something I love and then says, well, maybe there's something else out there I like too. And so I buy that as well. Um, but for me.

[00:28:42] Jennifer Wilson: I suspect you're not alone in that,

[00:28:44] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah, just, there's joy in that. Absolutely. There's joy in that. And I've decided that I'm going instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed, not embarrassed, but ashamed and like, oh, well I switched again. Like, no, I switched again. I love it. I love this one too. Like, and here are the reasons I love it. And these are the things that I wish were a little different, you know? I mean, so could I have plan or piece? Absolutely. I mean, I could I, a vertical classic Happy Planner works great. You know, like I don't, I don't need anything different. I just, I like to try all the things.

[00:29:20] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I think in your solution, you've kind of, if you compare it to scrapbooking and memory keeping when, when Project Life came out, many people chose to have both a Project, Life, album, and albums that contain layouts and whatever way they decided to organize those. But they really felt like they were two separate things. Like one is this, you know, very immediate documentation. And one is the stories that you want to tell. And it sounds like you kind of have divided the way you look at your memory, your you're planning in the same way.

[00:29:55] Jennie McGarvey: 100%. Absolutely. Yeah. And just decided to embrace it versus say, oh no, that's too much. You know what lots about me and my crafting is too much, you know, but I decided to just embrace that anyway. You know, I mean, and not to be, oh no, I could be a little bit less. Nope. I'm just going to love it all on that's ok.

[00:30:17] Jennifer Wilson: There's a Dolly Parton audio that's going around right now on Reels and TikTok that I think is perfect for that. So about just like being extra and being too much less is less, is not good. More is more.

[00:30:31] Jennie McGarvey: Right. Exactly. And I just, it's one of those things at the hobby brings me such joy and I get such enjoyment out of it. And if I can, why, why would I try to damper that? You know, why, why not just really enjoy it? Because I am telling stories. I am documenting memories and I'm getting to the places I need to be on time. So, you know, it's, I think it's all great.

[00:30:55] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Well and I think something about, I feel the same way that you do about vertical and that it helps me see kind of where I have space in the day. And it also helps me be more on time because I can put in time for prep, like, okay. Even if we have to be here at this time, that means we need to start getting ready, uh, you know, at this time, which might be an hour early or even more. So, um, you can kind of block things out a little bit better, particularly right now we're in the, you know, my daughter is 11 and she's playing middle school softball. And so our schedule is totally nuts every single day.

[00:31:34] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah. No. And I feel that so much. I, if I feel that just to the core of who I am. And so, like you just said, knowing, okay, is all this stuff clean? Is it, do I know where all the pieces are? Do I, do I know what time I need to leave in order to be there on time? Do I need to factor in snacks or meals or, you know, just all of those things and being able to add them to the planner in the way that your brain works. Because I think that's key too, like the way that your brain operates, is valuable. And the thing I think too about exactly that is that, you know, thinking about snacks, thinking about uniform pieces, thinking about time to get from, uh, from A to B is that that's all memory keeping, right? Like someday you're gonna look back on those functional planners, if you're a person who keeps them. And you're going to look back on this year and you're going to be like, oh my god, that's right. I forgot we used to drive to X, Y, and Z, or that was the time that Emily was super into bananas and had to have two every afternoon, like for her snack or you know.

[00:32:37] Jennifer Wilson: No, it's eight oranges. She wants you to pack her eight oranges every day. So you know.

[00:32:42] Jennie McGarvey: Exactly it. She won't want eight oranges forever. She'll move on to something else. And so, you know, those little moments are the things that we forget, but the planner allows us. So yes, you might make a scrapbook layout about that, certainly. But you also might refer back to your planner when oranges, oranges are on the grocery list, again. You know, like, oh my god, I need to get oranges at Costco because I literally can't keep up with the orange consumption, you know? And so I, it seems crazy to me, but I realized what a documentation tool that is like, you know, even pickup times in the planner, right? Like my, our friend used to drive our kids to school and I used to pick our kids up from school. And so I had to have pick up times in my planner because I would go, you know, at this time for this kid and that time for that kid. And like, I don't do that. I mean, You know, but that's such a, a minute story that I wouldn't have told in the scrapbook layout. I wasn't going to tell us right. About driving to school multiple times, you know, but in my planner, that's still there.

[00:33:52] Jennifer Wilson: So do you feel that memory keeping through your planning has helped you feel more caught up in that broad sense of, of what we as scrapbookers and memory keepers think of as caught up.

[00:34:09] Jennie McGarvey: I think so, because no matter what, between that and my phone, I basically have every day, you know, I mean, not every day, that's, you know, there are some weekends, for example, that nothing gets written down just because nothing gets written down, right. Like they're just sort of random days, but absolutely I can go back in between the photos I took, you know, looking in my iPhone photo storage. And looking back on the planner, I can tell you so much about what was going on just by the lists that I made, the appointments that I wrote down, and then the corresponding photos of random pet photos, random things growing in the yard, you know, just all kinds of things like that. Absolutely. I mean, I, if I never memory kept any more, I feel like my planner and my memory planner would be enough. It's not enough for me in my creative pursuits, but in terms of memory keeping and documenting our life, it would be enough.

[00:35:10] Jennifer Wilson: I feel the same way about my photo book. So I've been doing this, I'm on my second year of doing a Lightroom, photo book. I actually had a failed attempt in 2020. Um, but I did one last year and I feel like if I was only going to do one thing, because I had to, for some reason, that's what I would do, because it would be enough for me. Cause it is very much a, you know, pop in at the photo, jot some things down, move on. And it's, you know, it, it doesn't have a creative outlet for me. And so I would miss that, but I would have to find another outlet for it. For me, it would probably be painting if there was no, you know, other scrapbooks supplies or things like that. So I really appreciate that and how we all have to figure out what, what function is this serving for you? And it's okay to kind of shuffle things around as your life evolves.

[00:36:00] Jennie McGarvey: Absolutely. Cause I mean, again, like a large part of it is that, you know, these practices partially or, you know, work for me as well as creative pursuits, right. So there's that. But then there's also that I recognize that nobody can do it all. Nobody is able to do all of these things that they want to do. Okay, actually I should back up, there are probably people that are able to. But for me, like I have 12 projects I'd love to be doing in terms of documenting memory keeping. And I've just learned, I'm just not able to do it. Like this year, I started like three additional journals and, you know, inserts and things like that. And I just was not able to keep up with them because it's, it is a lot. But if I'm documenting in my planner, the movies I watched, the books that I read, all of those things. Well, maybe I didn't get to a specific, you know, Traveler's notebook insert that I wanted to, to document my reading this year. But I did, I did write it down on my planner, like, oh, today I finished this book. So, you know, it definitely serves that purpose.

[00:37:09] Jennifer Wilson: So what tools or supplies are always right in front of you, I'd love to kind of transition to here to some more of the practical basics. Um, and what's really your favorite thing that you absolutely like your love to work with. Like I'm I always get really excited about highlighters, but your favorite thing?

[00:37:27] Jennie McGarvey: Yes. I was super, so again, just like planners, I really cycle in and out of materials as well or tools as well. And so, but I think first and foremost, it's always a good black pen. I shift between various ones that I have that I like. I'm currently using a Sharpie, like a felt tip pen, not a shop Sharpie gel pen as my current, because my handwriting is really big and it's really heavy. And so for a long time I use Paper Mate Flairs, but they're even thicker. And so they just made it even more like, um, obnoxious if you will. So now it's, this seems to fit a little bit better. So between a really good black pen, uh, a mild, liner and specifically, I really like Mildliners because I like the colors that they offer and the Zig Clean Color Dot Markers. I, if I just had a pen and a Clean Color Dot Marker I could make any piece of paper, my daily planner, basically, those are the things that really genuinely do it for me. But the Mildliners are so versatile. I can do like so many things with those. So those really, they just make me happy. They just make me happy in my planning and that sort of stuff.

[00:38:37] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. I totally agree on that.

[00:38:40] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah. I mean, like, I love to stamp,. I add the stamping, you know, I'm, I stamp all the time, but I get, that's a couple of extra steps, but you give me those three pens and I'm all right. I can do whatever.

[00:38:52] Jennifer Wilson: Well and I think that also hopefully is, shows that there can be a low barrier to entry. You probably have the things that you need to get started, or even just to play around, you know, grab a piece of paper, draw some lines, just, you know, start playing, with boxes, just play and kind of try to mimic what maybe what you're seeing on YouTube or Instagram or, or TikTok. And see what you like and then pick quote, unquote, real supplies. A planner and real tools from there. But what you have in your drawer or grab it from your kids. I just stole some of my daughter's Mildliners cause she wasn't using them.

[00:39:30] Jennie McGarvey: Absolutely. Or, you know, uh, build a couple of dollars into the budget every week. And then when you go to Target, you can pick up a pack of Mildliners and see what. Because again, I understand that, you know, I'm sure you have, you know, it's cost is always something we talk about, right? So maybe not, you always don't always have the extra budget to go and buy a package of, you know, markers. You're not sure you're going to love or whatever, but you know, the Mildliners, like I draw boxes with them. I highlight everything. I use them for journaling lines, you know, like, so they're so versatile and the colors are so pretty that, between that, and a pen, I mean, I honestly could do without any planner stickers. You know, I'll use them because I liked them, but I, I equally, as often don't use them and I share that, you know, I share that all the time because I want people to see what real life decorative planning looks like. Cause sometimes decorative planning is just a highlighter and a pen, you know, and you can still make it look really cute.

[00:40:31] Jennifer Wilson: So you've touched on handwriting a little bit, that your handwriting tends to be big and bold. And I hear a lot, and this is something that I struggle with. Uh, people that feel like their, their handwriting just isn't photogenic. Now, obviously it's totally optional to, to photograph what you're doing and share it, but that can even impact your own impression of, you know, of creating something. So do you have any tips or advice that you use to create a consistent, attractive look because you are photographing what you create?

[00:41:02] Jennie McGarvey: Sure. Sure. Absolutely. Well what I will say though, is that I do hear that a lot in terms of handwriting, even from memory keepers, why it's, why they won't add journaling or handwritten specifically on their layouts, because they don't like their handwriting. And I hate hearing that because, and again, I know we have talked about this ad nauseum. I don't mean you and me, but like as an industry, we've talked about this ad nauseum, right. About how somebody's handwriting is so personal and so specific, and like how many people in your own life do you recognize their handwriting and it's so meaningful to you, right? So I feel like people have to feel that way about you and your handwriting as well. I think that, so I, in college, my freshman year, my college roommate had the most gorgeous handwriting, like seriously stunning handwriting. And I loved it so much. And so I went to college in the late nineties, so I had plenty of time in note writing. And so I just started trying to write like her now does my handwriting look like hers? Nope, it's my own. But it was that I took hers as sort of like a model like, oh, okay, let me try to make this like that. And like, I just did it over and over and over again. I think that's one of the things that we all want instant gratification for. Oh, I want to pick up this brush lettering pen and I want to be great at brush lettering. Yeah. It's just so not how it works. Like you can buy the class, go ahead by the class, but you really have to practice. You have to make yourself better at it. Just like anything else. It's not specific to that, right. But I find like you have to find a pen that feels really good to you when you write. I love a felt tip pen. Like yeah, gel pens are great. They just don't have the same feeling for me as a felt tip pen does. So Sharpie felt tip pens right now they're my, they're my favorite. I like a Paper Mate Flair. I like a lot of them. I like a wider nib so I, you'll never see me with a 0.3. It just, it feels scratchy. It doesn't feel good. I don't like how my handwriting looks. You know, a 0.5 is about the smallest I will personally ever go. But I think that trying different pens is where it's at. You know, find what you're most comfortable with in your hand and then practice. You don't love your handwriting. Okay. You know, I mean, you can, you can see, you can try emulating different styles too. Find what works for you or what doesn't, or you can just choose to embrace it too. That's I know what I'd have to do when I started making YouTube videos and doing voiceovers, I hated the sound of my voice. It made me cringe. I was like, oh my gosh, I finally just had to accept it, right. Like either that, or I'm not going to make videos. So, you know, and I feel like the handwriting is the same thing, right. You either have to change it or accept it.

[00:43:52] Jennifer Wilson: I love that perspective. And also just the personalization we were talking about doing things your way. Cause I'm sitting here with a big container of 0.3 and 0.4 pens. Cause I like a really, really fine nib particularly for, for scrapbook journaling, because I feel like it conceals imperfections better than a wider nib. But yeah, it's, if you are, just like a scrap lifting, if you see something that you like, you know, you have to then break it apart. You know, when you're looking at people who are doing memory planning and what Heidi Swapp is doing. Okay. Break it apart. Is it you like that the stamps are layered. Is it that you like that her handwriting is really close together or really spaced out? Um, kind of going more into the details, I think is what can help you mimic that even more. And as you said, it requires practice and patience and really paying attention.

[00:44:46] Jennie McGarvey: Absolutely.

[00:44:48] Jennifer Wilson: Or just letting it go completely. But your, it's your choice.

[00:44:51] Jennie McGarvey: Absolutely. Just deciding, okay. Is it that important to me to be able to create something, you know, beautiful handwriting? Is it that important to me? Or can I let that go and just say, yep. That's what it is. Yep. That's what it is like over and over. Eventually your brain will be like, yep. That's what it is. You know what I mean? Again, I'm not talking about more serious issues. I'm talking about handwriting or, you know, scrapbooking or whatever the case may be. You know? I mean, eventually your brain will just be like, yeah, that's how it is, you know? And we all have unique handwriting. It's all interesting. It is all beautiful. And I don't mean that in, at all looks perfect for Instagram or whatever I mean that it's all beautiful. Cause it's all unique to us.

[00:45:33] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I also think it's okay to embrace your preferences. If it is something that you care about and you want to practice and improve like own that, just like you were talking earlier about, you know, being a little bit extra and loving all the things and having lots of planners. Like if that's what you love, then just own who you are and what, what you value. It's it's all worthy, I guess.

[00:45:59] Jennie McGarvey: 1000%. And I feel like you just have to, you just have to decide where you place the importance. If you place, the importance on having beautiful handwriting, then practice. You know what I mean? Practice makes better.

[00:46:12] Jennifer Wilson: Yep.

[00:46:13] Jennie McGarvey: Well, none of us just wake up one day. Okay. Maybe not none of us, I'm sure some people wake up one day and have beautiful handwriting, but most of us have to, you know, we have to work at it. We have to find a pen you like, we have to find a, you know, uh, oh, I love to write on a notebook versus directly on the, you know, on a desk or, you know, just all those little tricks and tips. You have to find different things that are good for you.

[00:46:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yes, yes, So, and we, as we've gathered here today, creating in a planner has become your primary outlet, but you're still creating traditional scrapbook pages. How often are you doing that?

[00:46:49] Jennie McGarvey: So I still am weekly creating scrapbook pages. But what I will say is that I'm probably more often creating Traveler's Notebook layouts. Like in a Citrus Twist Life Crafted Album. I love those. I love that size. I love the, the finished format of that. I do create actual Travelers Notebook inserts too, but they're usually I've used them more as like a mini album. So like a specific event or like last summer I made one for the whole summer and it was amazing. And I freaking love it because it's just, it just captures our summer. So well, I love that. Um, I do still make eight and a half by 11 pages though. Probably a couple a month, two or three a month. It's not my primary focus, but I do make them, and I have finally broken down sort of my thought process and all these things. It took a long time. Cause I do have so many formats of memory keeping that I do. It's actually sort of absurd, but I have decided that those are the stories. Those are the birthday parties. Those are the new cars. Those are the, you know, the, all of those things. Those are the, the events, right? Like, um, this is my Travelers Notebook or the Life Crafted layouts, those are the, those are the small stories. Those are the stories of, oh, my, I just made one the other day about my son hanging succulents in the backyard and this spring they flower. And I just find that so fascinating. And so a layout like that, that goes there. So those small stories that I still want to capture, they're still beautiful to me, but it's not a birthday party. It's not a first day of school. It's not, you know, all of those traditional stories that I'd put in a traditional scrapbook layout. And then I do, so yeah. I mean, so I'm still doing lots of those in total. I mean probably upwards of five to 10 a month between those two.

[00:48:46] Jennifer Wilson: So it sounds like you're kind of equating scale of story with scale of project.

[00:48:53] Jennie McGarvey: Yes, absolutely. 100%. I never thought of it like that before, but absolutely. So memory planning is like the most basic. I mean, obviously actually my daily functional planner is probably the most basic in terms of like, you know, buy bananas, buy milk, you know, go to this, go to that. But then, you know, the memory planner takes it up a notch, right? Like I will include the, my dog. If you follow me on Instagram at all, and you're following my stories at all, I, I document regularly my my dog swimming in the swimming pool. Because my dog loves to swim so much so that my friends joke about that. I'm glad you built your dog a swimming pool because that's basically what it is. Um, so I will, I, in my memory planner, it'll be things like, oh, look the dogs in the pool again, or look, here's the, I dunno, this flower's, you know, blooming or X, Y, and Z happened. You know, just ordinary normal life things. And then my Travelers Notebook layouts are extensions of that, extensions of those stories that I want to break that story out and talk about it a little bit more. So, for example, I'm sure that those blooming succulents, I'm sure they were probably in my memory planner. I don't remember specifically, but I'm sure they were probably in my memory planner, but then I wanted to break it out further. Cause I find it so beautiful and so fascinating. And I spent the first 22 years of my life in Iowa. And so having blooming succulents in my yard in February is just mind blowing, right? Like still, you know, 24 years later, I'm still mind blown that I have succulents that flower in February in my backyard, you know?

[00:50:33] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. I had a little bit of like my disconnect with, wait, wait, succulents outside. I'm very confused here because I, we don't do that in Illinois.

[00:50:40] Jennie McGarvey: Right. And you know, again, there's a, there's still a part of me that relates to that so much. Like I go outside and I look at my lemon tree and the lemons growing on it and it's still like blows my mind. To me, that's still just not normal. Corn fields are normal. Soybeans are you know, like. Yeah. Those are the things that still feel normal to me, despite the fact that I've lived in Southern California for, you know,a lot of years now. So yeah. And then the, then the, the bigger scrapbook pages, the traditional scrapbook pages typically tell bigger stories. They typically, I mean, sometimes I still, I can't help myself. I still scrapbook a picture of my dog jumping in the pool. I just can't resist it, but I, uh, yeah, typically those are bigger stories. So I think you're totally right. That's, that's fascinating.

[00:51:30] Jennifer Wilson: Well, I'm curious how, if we had to like step back here, how would you describe to someone else the experience of creating with a planner versus the Traveler's Notebook versus, you know, a larger, more traditional scrapbook page?

[00:51:46] Jennie McGarvey: I think that for me, I get to get more into the nitty gritty details and daily parts of our lives. And so that's the part, that's where the meat is for me. Like that's where the real, this is who we are, you know, this was the life that we led. And that really genuinely brings me such tremendous joy and such tremendous feeling. You know, like I really feel like, yeah, this is who we are. This is, this is how we lived. This is where we lived. This is versus just like the pretty picture of us on vacation that we took at the top of you know, a mountain hike or whatever that that's. Yes, it was beautiful and it was something we did, but it wasn't really, you know who we are and who, how we live, you know? And then I think that the part about it actually physically being in a planner, the coolest part about that for me is that the date is right there. I will never forget the date that X, Y, and Z happened because I'm literally putting it on dated pages. So even if I'm not like some people are more specific, like, oh my god, I must put the photo on the day that had happened. And some people are like, I don't really care. You know, just wherever in that week or that month is good. And I don't subscribe to either I'm somewhere in the middle, right. And so for me, even that level, that micro level years later is so beautiful because I've been doing this for so long. 2016 was my first full year in a memory planner. And so I have six completed memory planners on my shelf. And I look back on several years ago and that micro level of knowing, oh, the week of February 14th, we did this, we did that. This is what this looked like. Wow. It's it's genuinely mind blowing. There's no, I don't have to write February 13th because it's already there. You know, like there's just no conscious, conscious documentation of that.

[00:53:54] Jennifer Wilson: What about kind of the design challenges? Did they have similar ones or are they different?

[00:53:59] Jennie McGarvey: You know, I use the same, I'm sure people who watch my videos regularly, they get sick of me talking about it, but I use the same design principles from scrapbooking that I do in memory planning. And I talk about them and I explain them as fully as I can while I'm focused. Cause I, I tend to be a little all over the place. It's part of, it's just part of who I am. Like I'm easily distracted, but I, you know, I still use the visual triangle. I use it every week in both my regular planning, like a weekly functional layout. I'll put three decorative elements that you could tie together in a visual triangle or all use, um, three elements in a cluster, maybe five, you know, if I'm feeling spicy, but you because you know, that's what your eye likes to see. That's visually appealing, you know? And so to me, it's not any different because I consider like the lines in a planner as guidelines, they're suggestions, you know, they're not hard and fast rules.

[00:55:02] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I think that sometimes I know I'm attracted to planners that have, uh, lighter lines because of that, the ones with like really dark lines, sometimes I find it intimidating because I feel more restricted. That I need to stay in the lines because they're so, you know, they're bold and they're shouting at me.

[00:55:20] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah, I can understand that. And I feel that same way, but because I feel like they interfere with the decor, right. So I love to put a cluster in between Tuesday and Wednesday where it straddles both days. And so if you have a really dark line that just kind of annoys me because then like, well, you're, you're intruding upon my cluster. You know that I don't, I don't need you there. I don't need you to be really dark, you know, a nice little light gray line is perfect.

[00:55:47] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. Yes. Yes. So how would you recommend someone getting started with either adding creative elements to their existing functional planner or starting a memory planner?

[00:55:57] Jennie McGarvey: So I think that there's, there's sort of two, like if you're going to start decorating, you know, you're like, oh yeah, you know, that that's a great idea. I would love to add some washi to my functional planner. Or, you know, a couple of stamps or, you know, whatever the case may be there. I think that that's exactly what you do. You, you think about it as a scrapbook layout and you say, okay, you know what? I want to start this washi is the basis of my layout. You know, this, I love this polka dot washi it's got pink and gray polka dots on a white background, even though that really probably isn't very attractive, but you get what, I'm what I'm saying. And so how can I build upon that, right. Like, okay, that's, I'm going to start there and then, all right, I'm going to, you know, I have these really cute Lawn Fawn stamps and they're, you know, a little, couple of little unicorns. I'm going to stamp those couple of little unicorns on there too. Cause I know that like Saturday afternoons are pretty chill for me. I don't have a ton of plans usually on Saturday afternoons. So I'm going to stamp up those, those unicorns there. That's how for me, I always start functional planning. When I add decorative elements is that I think about the days that are less busy for me, the days that I don't, I don't include as much on my planner. And that's where I put my decoration, because if I know Wednesday is slammed and I need the whole day to document, well, I'm not going to, I'm not going to add a functional or a decorative element there. I need all the function I can get, right. And so adding a couple of stamps you already had in your stash or stickers, I mean, stickers or stamps, that could be interchangeable, certainly. But they're just great ways to use some of those supplies in your planner and coordinate them the same way you would on a scrapbook layout. And then for memory planning honestly, I start with my photos, the photos are the they're the main part. And then I put those down in a pleasing way. And then move around from there, but everybody has to do it the way that makes sense to their brain, right. The same way for everything else. So like I still include appointments and activities in my memory planner. I won't always, cause I won't always have as many as I do, but, and that makes me a little sad, of course, honestly, you know, or wistful or it's bittersweet or whatever the case may be, but.

[00:58:14] Jennifer Wilson: Sure, yeah.

[00:58:15] Jennie McGarvey: You know, I mean, cause it's, it's great to write, you know, but it's um, the, and not everybody does that. I'm actually pretty unique in that most people are memory planning just with photos and decoration and journaling. I still add those things because like I said, I'm true to still am true to why I started. And I started because we, this season of our life looked very different than any season was going to look. And I wanted to really heavily document that season of our life. So the one that I knew we would forget because, you know, you're just so busy and things are so chaotic and those are the memories I think that you, you don't even have time to commit them to memory, right. Cause you're just trying to get through the day. So, but yeah, I think, I think you start with photos. I think you start with your surroundings for your memory planner, honestly. Cause I think that, that's the beauty of a memory planner is that it's really genuinely capturing the life that you're living.

[00:59:12] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love that. What a, what a thoughtful point to end on. Jennie, this has been a, such a fun conversation. I'm always excited when I have planner conversations here on the podcast just because it's something that I've, you know, I've found planner peace many times. And just like you have, and I will probably find it many times again, and I'm loving playing in my planner and I'm just excited to share these additional perspectives with our audience.

[00:59:41] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah, me too. It's it's wonderful. Thank you for having me.

[00:59:45] Jennifer Wilson: Can you share where we can find you online? Anything that you have new or coming up later this year?

[00:59:50] Jennie McGarvey: Yeah. So I, as always I'm on Instagram and I share lots of personal stuff in my Stories. On YouTube, I make, you know, as many videos as I feel like. That so random, but you know it ebbs and, it flows. And then I recently in the late spring had a class with Coco Daisy about memory planning. So if you're interested in learning, it was a really in-depth. We launched it in March. Or May, I'm sorry, not March. It ran through May. We had lots of amazing contributors, tons of videos. And I say that because if you're sort of on the fence about memory planning, it is a really, really detailed look at how to start, how to lay it out. How do use supplies, stamps stickers. I mean the whole thing, it's, it's an amazing class. I did that with Rachel Newman, who is a good friend of mine. We worked on that together. And then I also have a, I participated in Studio Calico's Sketch Class this summer. I am working on a Sketch Class for Cocoa Daisy in the fall. And that should be really fun as well. There'll be lots of videos and lots of exciting content. And then I also have another planner class coming up that your audience very well may be interested in that we'll be launching in, it'll be launching in December. But we'll start selling it in September, that I'm very excited about. And I will definitely share online more about that as that comes to fruition.

[01:01:26] Jennifer Wilson: All right. We will definitely include links in the show notes to this episode. Um, either placeholder links or full links of links are available when this episode comes out and we'll update them later, when we can. Sounds so fun. You have a busy schedule ahead. You need the planner just for your scrapbooking, activities.

[01:01:43] Jennie McGarvey: And I sure do, that is for sure.

[01:01:47] Jennifer Wilson: Well, again, this has been so delightful. Thank you for spending time with me.

[01:01:50] Jennie McGarvey: Yes. Thank you so much.

[01:01:52] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to scrapbook your way. It's September and we're kicking off a new Creative Journey at Simple Scrapper. For the next two months our theme is Projects and we'll be tackling it from every angle here on the podcast and inside of the membership. If you'd like to go deeper into memory planning or the creative project on your mind, I'd like to invite you to join us. When you become a member, you'll get access to The Finishing Project, our signature course to help you finish more of the projects you start. It's just one of the many benefits of being a Simple Scrapper member. Visit to learn more and try it out.

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