Erika Breslin is a hybrid crafter with a passion for bringing colorful art into the world. In this episode Erika shares her creative inspirations as well as her personal values as a memory keeper. We’re proud to have her as our November featured artist and explore her world in this conversation. Erika’s genuine love for this hobby and this community comes through.
- Register for the 2023 Planning Party
- December Daily
- Leilani Scraps
- Traci Reed
- Erika on Instagram
- Erika on YouTube
- Erika’s Etsy store
[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 194. In this episode I'm interviewing Erika Breslin for the My Way series. My Way is all about celebrating the unique ways memory keepers get things done. We're excited to have Erika as the November featured artist at Simple Scrapper.
Before we jump into the episode I wanted to share a participant's experience with the Planning Party. This comes from Monica M. "The planning party has helped me shape my year. By taking the time to look at what I have going on each month of the upcoming year (like graduations and vacations) and taking the time to think about my energy level changes throughout the year, I have done a better job at creating a reasonable set of goals. I love talking through my ideas with others and learning about what others are doing. My favorite part is making sure I save space because something will come up that I want to try."
The Planning Party will help you look at the year ahead with intention, so your scrapbooking feels fun and productive all the way from January through December. Registration is open for the 2023 Planning Party and I hope to see you there. Visit simplescrapper.com/plan23 to sign up for free!
And now, my conversation with Erika Breslin.
[00:01:56] Jennifer Wilson: Hey, Erica, welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.
[00:01:57] Erika Breslin: Thank you.
[00:02:00] Jennifer Wilson: I am looking forward to our conversation today and getting to know you a bit better for this My Way episode. But could you start by sharing a little bit about yourself?
[00:02:08] Erika Breslin: Certainly. Hi, I'm Erika. I've been scrapbooking for four years, since the birth of my oldest kiddo. I'm from San Diego, but moved to Seattle for work eight years ago. And outside of scrapbooking, I have my rescue animals, including a rescue bunny and my backyard mini homestead, where I grow food and herbs and a love for reading books.
[00:02:35] Erika Breslin: I describe my style as new and different. And through my projects, I perpetually walk my own scrappy path, which includes physical and digital products.
[00:02:47] Jennifer Wilson: Ah, very fun. Now what got you into, doing homesteading and growing your own food and really having that kind of lifestyle?
[00:02:57] Erika Breslin: Owning my first home, actually. Just having that backyard to be able to do whatever I'd like with. It just really inspired me to create something that was not only beautiful, but functional and also give us free food now. And then, so.
[00:03:17] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, no, that's super cool.
[00:03:19] Erika Breslin: Yeah.
[00:03:19] Jennifer Wilson: Now what's exciting you right now in memory keeping? It could be anything at all, but what's kind of floating your boat or coming top of mind?
[00:03:27] Erika Breslin: Holiday scrapbooking is always exciting for me. I guess it's what I'd compare to the Superbowl of scrapbooking. But now it's towards the end of the year. And I don't know about you, but this is usually right around when I started to lose a bit of my scrappy steam and maybe not, being as diligent or consistently documenting. But holiday scrapbooking, especially the December Daily project, really refreshes my perspective on scrapbooking as a whole. Because it focuses on the magic behind the paper instead of just, you know, going through the motions.
[00:04:06] Erika Breslin: And it allows me to reflect on the past months and sometimes in the past years. And I had a challenging upbringing, so, this can introduce a lot of healing and closure in my case. And aside from that, if you've ever participated actively, or even from afar in December Daily, you know, it's just a gold mine of inspiring and beautiful and fresh content. That's literally stunning, both aesthetically and heartfully because this project is just full of heartfelt emotion. And I know at the end of it, flipping through my albums always brings me a smile to my face.
[00:04:49] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, yes. I love it. I am definitely in that mode right now. I've been kind of saying to others casually that there's, you know, there's definitely two parts of the year. There's like January to July. And those are individual months. And then there is December Daily season, which is like the rest of the year.
[00:05:05] Erika Breslin: Absolutely a hundred percent agree.
[00:05:09] Jennifer Wilson: Well, and I think it, it helps us, you know, um, have a different perspective on the busy-ness of this time of year. Kind of gives us something to help us stay grounded. Um, when life can feel probably, you know, very, very full.
[00:05:27] Erika Breslin: Absolutely definitely helps keep things in perspective.
[00:05:32] Jennifer Wilson: So what's on your memory keeping bucket list? We love to ask our guests this because we all have these stories that feel really important to capture, but for one reason or another, we haven't done done so yet.
[00:05:43] Erika Breslin: Yeah. So a year or two ago, I believe. My friendly Leilani at Leilani scraps introduced us to nineties documented. Which is a project takes a deep dive into our formative years. So really it's not just the nineties, it's whatever decade your childhood occurred. Uh, using lots of historically accurate photos and supplies. But it's not your typical project of the past, in the way that focuses on prompts such as your favorite musical artists of the time, favorite toys, book series, et cetera. And I have everything ready. So I'm just looking to take, I'm looking forward to taking that retrospective journey in 2023.
[00:06:28] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that sounds so fun. I was just talking to my daughter the other day. She's really she, okay. So she's 11. She's really into reading the Warrior Cat series. She loves like animal-based fantasies and I did not read anything like that, I was reading like Sweet Valley High and Babysitter's Club. Yes, for sure.
[00:06:46] Jennifer Wilson: And I wanted to have like a slam book. Like I always still feel like goosebumps about seeing like a black and white speckled composition book. And it's just so different. So interesting to think about how things are similar and of course, very, very different.
[00:07:00] Erika Breslin: Yes, absolutely.
[00:07:02] Jennifer Wilson: I'll have to check out some of those prompts because I think that'd be a really fun project.
[00:07:06] Erika Breslin: Yeah. It's it's going to be exciting.
[00:07:10] Jennifer Wilson: So, this is a, My Way episode because you're one of our upcoming featured artists. Um, before we really dive in and learn more about you, I like to give our listeners a little teaser about what makes you tick. So right now at Simple Scrapper we're talking about planning. So how do you keep track of what you want and need to do?
[00:07:28] Erika Breslin: Well, I personally am a huge supporter of making everything as easy as possible. And as a full-time working mom, working remotely at home, with a full house and lots of fashion, fashion projects, I'm constantly jumping from one task to the next. And I used to use planners a lot. And sourced a lot of joy from the cathartic process of outlining everything on paper and checking it off.
[00:07:56] Erika Breslin: However, since having my second baby, the available time has somehow magically diminished. So something has always helped me stay on top of an on track with, has been my phone. And I have an Android phone and I use the calendar religiously. Every family member has a color. So that at a glance I can see who has what, when, but my phone also has a notes app.
[00:08:21] Erika Breslin: And in there I have a list of scrappy projects to make, I also document weekly. So I have lists where I can quickly type in a few words about facts or feelings from a particular day, or maybe a quote. I know I'll want to include in that week's project. So that's just helped me stay organized.
[00:08:42] Jennifer Wilson: I think a lot of us are finding that we have to kind of combine the physical and the digital these days in order to, like one, one is not enough. You have to have some of both, particularly when so many events, these days are electronic as well.
[00:08:57] Erika Breslin: Yes, absolutely.
[00:09:00] Jennifer Wilson: So you shared a little bit that you've only been scrapbooking for four years and you started when your first child was born, kind of, how did that come about for you? How did you make that decision?
[00:09:09] Erika Breslin: You know, I'm not entirely sure how this happened. Maybe it was scrappy serendipity, but a few months after my first kiddo was born, YouTube suggested a video from Shimelle. Her whimsical and unapologetically genuine style instantly hooked me. So I ordered her 12 by 12 paper pad the next day on Amazon and just went from there.
[00:09:31] Erika Breslin: So since then it has completely changed and evolved to encompass digital products, as well as an array of mixed media products. And I usually try everything at least once. And I think doing this matters. Because I get to know myself and my capabilities on a different level and it facilitates my understanding of what I might be naturally good at and maybe what I should avoid and never touch again.
[00:10:05] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, there's definitely things that like, we can get more frustrated over the others for sure. So what sizes or formats, are you typically creating in? And why do you like those more than others?
[00:10:16] Erika Breslin: Typically I create in 12 by 12. I have an album for my family to highlight a singular events. So the mosaic of our lives, they live in our living room and they're the ones that are for public perusal. And I have one for, each kiddo as well. And I love 12 by 12 because of the amount of real estate that's available.
[00:10:40] Erika Breslin: I love to journal and tell stories on my pages. So I feel like you're able to do a heck of a lot more in that size. And apart from that, I also regularly create in an eight and a half by five and a half album, which is what I use for my weekly documenting.
[00:11:00] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, okay. So I have one of those, but I haven't been able to find one since. So where, what kind of albums are you using for that?
[00:11:08] Erika Breslin: So I went a little bit more simply. I went to Office Depot and this is my Avery mini binder. And it's great because it's a $9, 9.99, I believe. And it comes with 375 page protectors. So, and I can use my fuse tool with them as well. So it's just the best of both.
[00:11:32] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, we will definitely link that up. That sounds like a really fun format and that many page protectors in one little album, that's a quite a steal of a deal.
[00:11:43] Erika Breslin: The rings as well. The rings are two inches. So you really get to, I'm able to fit an entire year in that album.
[00:11:52] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, love that. I think that's going to be something that others are interested in as well.
[00:11:56] Jennifer Wilson: Um, the one I have is actually a We Are Memory Keepers. And they only produced it for like a very short period of time.
[00:12:02] Erika Breslin: Right. Of course,
[00:12:06] So tell me more about the products that you're always buying. That you're completely obsessed with.
[00:12:12] Erika Breslin: I go through my ebbs and flows just like anyone else, but I usually obsess with two things, either digitals or stamps. And since the unfortunate closure Feed Your Craft, I would say currently I'm loving everything Traci Reed. I love her digitals.
[00:12:30] Jennifer Wilson: Very cool. And so are you using those primarily digitally? Are you using them hybrid? How do you incorporate things into your projects?
[00:12:38] Erika Breslin: I love to manipulate everything. Uh, so I will include them as digitals. I will remove the backgrounds and transform them as photo overlays, as titles. I will, uh, use them as cut files and work them into my physical scrapbooking with some mixed media. So I really try to stay dynamic with, with that.
[00:13:03] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, that sounds fun.
[00:13:05] Erika Breslin: Yeah, I love it.
[00:13:06] Jennifer Wilson: So when do you typically find the time and energy for scrapbooking?
[00:13:11] Erika Breslin: So, the studies show that health habits start from the top down, right? So starting from your brain. And I suffer from anxiety, which I've learned is a left-brained activity and creating's a right brain activity. So when you make that interhemispheric connection, anxiety decreases, which I found super interesting. So having a healthy brain, it means I can be fully present and available for my family. And creating really fills my cup in that way. So I really try to forge a system that allows me that time to create. And again, in a way that's easy. So I have a phone reminder once a week on a day, that's best suited to carve 20 to 30 minutes to create. And for me right now, that's on Fridays. And since having a baby can throw a wrench in any gear, no matter how well oiled the machinery is. Uh, currently it's been looking a little differently as I've been creating a lot digitally on my phone, right before bed as a way to unwind.
[00:14:18] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love how you've kind of found ways to make it work for you. And to really recognize that there are multiple layers of benefits and, and, you know, often our mental health and our need for self care is one of, be one of the biggest ones for us in these busy days.
[00:14:34] Erika Breslin: My husband is the first one that noticed whenever I was not feeling my best. He said, he asked me when's the last time you scrapbooked? And I realized it has been awhile. So kudos to him for identifying that.
[00:14:49] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah, I love that. I love that. So is there something that you think you do or use on most of your pages?
[00:14:57] Erika Breslin: I definitely always journal. Very thoroughly, almost to a fault. And sometimes others have shared with me that this can be a huge struggle for them. So a technique that allows me to develop the flow of words, I've affectionately dubbed the hamburger method. And it involves breaking down journaling into three main parts. The two buns and the meat. And the top bun is everything that happened before the event or topic you're documenting. For example, the chain of events that led to that event, or topic occurring, how you or others felt in the days leading up to it.
[00:15:36] Erika Breslin: And then the meat is the actual event or topic. You know, usually what you find already on most projects, right? Like, this event was fun or wow. You turned four years old today. And then the bottom bun is a reflection. How did you feel about the event or topic? How will it affect you or others moving forward?
[00:15:57] Erika Breslin: So using this strategy has really helped me narrow my focus for my journaling in order to capture exactly what it is I need on my pages.
[00:16:08] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love that. That's such a handy technique. And I think the more that we can break it down and try to almost make it kind of a fill in the blank strategy. So you don't have to feel like you need to be an expert writer. You just have to get your thoughts out and get them organized.
[00:16:24] Erika Breslin: Exactly. Kind of like in school when you were writing an essay and they had you outline, okay, well you have your introduction and then you have your three points and then you have your conclusion. So really in theory, it writes itself.
[00:16:36] Jennifer Wilson: Yes for sure. I just made my daughter last night, write a one sentence conclusion to her essay.
[00:16:41] Jennifer Wilson: She's you know, this is her first essay ever. And I'm like, well, it just kind of drops off. So you need to at least say something to.
[00:16:50] Erika Breslin: Yeah,
[00:16:50] Jennifer Wilson: Yeah. And so I think taking that perspective, this doesn't need to be, you know, 12th grade literature level. It just needs to be, know, what, you would say, and with words on paper.
[00:17:02] Erika Breslin: Yep.
[00:17:05] Jennifer Wilson: Now, you mentioned that you might have some ebb and flow, like most of us tend to. But do you have any specific strategies that you use to stay motivated or to get back into the groove?
[00:17:15] Erika Breslin: I'm an Enneagram nine wing five. So a big part of my satisfaction in life is feeding what makes me tick. And I love a challenge, a new adventure, and constantly learning. And the constant drive towards mastery is fuel to progress, to keep going, and to try new things. I feel that it stimulates your creativity and helps you see the world from a different perspective.
[00:17:48] Jennifer Wilson: For sure, for sure. Is there something in scrapbooking that you've decided is just not for you? You've kind of hinted at that a little bit, that you are willing to try a lot of things, so I'm sure you've come up with some things that maybe make you cringe or you find frustrating.
[00:18:07] Erika Breslin: Well, to be honest for me, it would be trends. And at first I thought they were something to strive towards, especially in the beginning. You know, just starting out, I had no followers and I felt that they were a great way to, not necessarily make my name in the community, but, you know, make some friends make some connections.
[00:18:31] Erika Breslin: And I soon realized that it was slightly misdirected because sure trends tend to get more likes, but it left me with two things. One, uh, projects that weren't exactly me. And I feel like if the work's not a true reflection of yourself, it's kind of a waste of time and effort. And two, so much stash that it became overwhelming and honestly, a little stressful to manage.
[00:18:58] Erika Breslin: And now I see that, you know, the paper, the stickers, the fringe scissors, those are just simply tools for creating. They do not determine the quality of your art. They are not your art. You and I are the art. There's no one in the world quite like us. And it's important to express that as authentically as possible.
[00:19:21] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, that's beautifully said. I think definitely trends can help inspire you in new ways. I definitely agree with you that in the end, you have to kind of go with your gut and the way that you like to create. Cause that's, what's going to feel most natural and satisfying and allow you to finish.
[00:19:38] Erika Breslin: Exactly.
[00:19:41] Jennifer Wilson: So shifting gears here to organizing, do you have one or two favorite, like tips or solutions that really, really work well for you?
[00:19:48] Erika Breslin: Yes. And there's actually two that have really worked for me. One is, I don't know, a better term for this other than an under the desk wire shelf. That has two little arms and it hangs from the lip of your desk and mine holds white paper scraps and it's great. When I just need a scrap piece of white paper for just like a line of journaling or maybe to practice a stamp a couple of times before doing the real thing.
[00:20:16] Erika Breslin: And then my second that has been great is, uh, actually to help manage my stash in a much more efficient manner. I call it my inbox and it's simply a square, you know, canvas basket that fits in a 12 by 12 cube unit. So whenever I get a new kit, paper, or any other supplies, I stick it in the back. And when I sit to craft, I pull from the front. So that way I kind of work on a first, in first out basis. And that way I'm sure to use everything at least once.
[00:20:52] Jennifer Wilson: So I'm curious if that kind of consistently works well for you. Because I, I'm just going to call myself out here and say that I've tried that. And it just kind of piled up until I gave up and put it all away.
[00:21:04] Erika Breslin: That's a good point. Yeah. That's a great point. So I also, I guess there's a second part to this. I make it a point that once it's full, I don't buy. And that forces me to at least work through a little bit of it before making that purchase. And it helps me regulate that influx of, of stash. And it keeps my stress levels down. So it's a win win.
[00:21:29] Jennifer Wilson: Yes. I think, you know, you mentioned before about having anxiety. I do as well. And I think the more that you can understand how your stuff influences and impacts how you feel in general, I think, uh, the better experience that you can have. Because if you're constantly feeling overwhelmed by your craft supplies, you're not going to want to craft.
[00:21:51] Erika Breslin: Exactly. Especially if they start to fringe upon the top of your desk and you feel like you constantly have to clean your space before creating, it's not really going to feel very inspiring to create.
[00:22:05] And therefore it won't be able to be that kind of nurturing right brain activity that you need it to be.
[00:22:11] Erika Breslin: Yes, exactly. Yeah.
[00:22:14] Jennifer Wilson: So stepping back, big picture, where would you like your scrapbooking to be in 10 years?
[00:22:19] Erika Breslin: Honestly exactly where it is now. I create because I love it. It's for me. And it's, it's become such a natural part of me. It makes me come alive. So I'm sure that as long as I'm documenting and as long as I'm creating something original, that matters to me. I'll be whole, and I'll be happy with it.
[00:22:41] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, I love that. That's so exciting. It's so good to know that you feel contented in this moment.
[00:22:47] Erika Breslin: Yes, it's really been a fulfilling activity that I never even knew existed. So thanks Shimelle.
[00:22:54] Jennifer Wilson: So what has being a scrapbooker taught you?
[00:22:57] Erika Breslin: Scrapbooking has taught me the beauty that our authentic hearts can hold and create. We live in a world where we're constantly comparing and maybe even trying to copy. But sincerity sort of takes us above the noise. It's much quieter up here. And not only that it's easiest to create when you create from the heart.
[00:23:23] Erika Breslin: And you know, when you're unashamedly, honestly, yourself. And yeah, you have to be, you know, a little vulnerable and bare a bit of your soul. But if you start worrying what people may think, you overthink it, you know, your mind takes over. And the creative process is such a magical thing. I feel that the harder you try to be great or to force it, the more obstacles stand in the way.
[00:23:45] Erika Breslin: So it's important to exercise letting go, stop overthinking, just come as you are. You already have everything you need. You just need to let it flow. So I guess if I could impart anything I've learned on this journey, it's to not only make a space for yourself to create but to make space in yourself, bring love to your art. Wonder, find, transform, enjoy. It's. It's not the technique or the supply, but the passion you put into your art that truly matters. Uh, the world is such a complex and crazy place, and I feel it really needs people to genuinely create and connect through that love of creating. And in this way, maybe scrapbooking is one way to change the world. So that's what it's taught me.
[00:24:38] Jennifer Wilson: Oh, such a beautiful statement. You have such a kind of magnetic personality. I want to, I want what you're having.
[00:24:47] Erika Breslin: Thank you. It's such a great compliment.
[00:24:51] Jennifer Wilson: So Erika, can you share where we can find you online? Anything you might have new or coming up here towards the end of the year.
[00:24:56] Erika Breslin: Absolutely. I'm on Instagram and YouTube at California Lucky. And by the time this airs I'll be launching or will already have launched, a scrappy the Etsy store at California Lucky as well. Uh, my plan is to start with digital designs and depending how on, how it goes physical as well. With goodies that are a little bit different, like me. Along with Canva templates and cards with monthly inspiration or tips and tricks to help keep memory keeping fun.
[00:25:28] Jennifer Wilson: Ah, that sounds delightful. We will include all of your links in the show notes and even add them later if we need to. Thank you so much for spending time with me.
[00:25:36] Erika Breslin: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for having me.
[00:25:39] Jennifer Wilson: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to Scrapbook Your Way.
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