When you find something that works perfectly, you stick with it. That’s just what Kat Benjamin has found with one particular project. In this episode you’ll hear about Kat’s creative process and the specific, satisfying role of mini albums in her memory keeping. Our conversation includes insights about using your stash and keeping up with weekly projects.
- 52 Favorites challenge
- Paige Evans 4×4 albums
- Kat on Instagram: @kraftykat9
- Paper Issues
- Pretty Little Studio
- Elle’s Studio
[00:01:40] 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 236. In this episode I’m chatting with Kat Benjamin about her scrapbooking process, focusing on one weekly project that has made a big difference in using her stash and feeling caught up with her memories.
[00:02:10] Jennifer: Hey Kat, welcome to Scrapbook Your Way.
[00:02:12] Kat: Hi, thanks for having me.
[00:02:14] Jennifer: I am looking forward to chatting with you today. Can you share a little bit about yourself with our audience?
[00:02:19] Kat: Sure. Um, so I am a military spouse. Um, I'm married to Eric and we have a six year old daughter named Piper and an almost 13 year old dog named Moose. Um, I work full time, so I try to get my scrapping in on the weekends and at nights, like everyone with a busy schedule.
[00:02:41] Jennifer: Yes. And what do you do for work if you don't mind saying?
[00:02:44] Kat: Yeah, I work in human resources, so I'm lucky that I work remotely now. Which is really nice, so I kinda get to pick my own schedule a little bit, which is great.
[00:02:56] Jennifer: Yeah. And just have a little bit more flexibility for sure. So Kat, what is exciting you right now? I love to ask our guests both about their scrapbooking hobbies as well as what's going on in your life.
[00:03:07] Kat: Yeah, so, um, like I said, I'm a military spouse and we actually just made the move from Southern California, um, to the East Coast. , We've been in Southern California for the last six years and we loved it there. Um, but we are excited to get back to the East Coast with Seasons. And we're experiencing fall.
[00:03:26] Kat: My daughter's never really experienced seasons before. She's never seen leaves falling and changing. Um, so that's actually really exciting. And I had forgotten. Um, I guess I had never really noticed that it wasn't something she had experienced, but she's so excited about it. Um, and we get thunderstorms, and the first time we had a thunderstorm, she just was shocked.
[00:03:48] Kat: Um, so it's actually really cool to kind of see things through her eyes, because even though she's six, she hasn't experienced this type of weather before, so it's fun.
[00:03:57] Jennifer: Oh yeah, for sure. And just that's such a fun age to, to, as you said, see things through her eyes and to her experiencing new things. Cause they just have that sense of like curiosity and delight about it.
[00:04:09] Kat: Oh yeah, and I'm excited to finally be able to use all these fall themed scrapbooking products that I have that I've never been able to use before.
[00:04:17] Jennifer: Oh, yes. Yeah. Sometimes it feels so funny to like use a fall, like fall leaves paper on something that has nothing to do with fall. Cause you don't experience that weather.
[00:04:26] Kat: Yep.
[00:04:27] Jennifer: Is that what is exciting you in scrapbooking or do you have something else?
[00:04:30] Kat: Um, nope, that too. So again, um, we're probably going to get snow, um, this year. So we're excited. I'm excited to be able to use all these fun products that I've been hoarding forever that I've never really been able to use. , Every year I scramble to find photos if I have a certain project that I have to use, um, those products or a certain assignment. Um, but now I feel like I can actually use them without any issues. I won't have to. I'm going to be making up stuff to scrap.
[00:04:59] Jennifer: Oh, that's, yeah, I'm so glad for you. Now, are you on design teams then? I'm sensing.
[00:05:03] Kat: Yeah, so I design for Paper Issues, which is an online scrapbook store. Um, I design for Elle's Studio, um, and Pretty Little Studio.
[00:05:13] Jennifer: Oh, awesome. Okay. Yeah. I'm sure that's going to come into our conversation later, but I like to share that context with our listeners as well.
[00:05:21] Kat: Yeah.
[00:05:22] Jennifer: Now, one of the other topics that we always ask about is your memory keeping a bucket list. So this is a list of stories that feel important to tell, but for one reason or another, you haven't captured it yet. So do you have one bucket list story on your list?
[00:05:37] Kat: Um, so I actually, don't. My biggest goal in memory keeping is trying to capture those everyday moments. So I don't have a particular goal when I'm doing that. Um, I definitely love looking back on the big moments, like vacations and accomplishments. That type of thing. But it's the little moments that actually make me smile when I go back on and think of them. And so, it's those things that I probably would have forgotten about if I hadn't snapped a photo of it. Um, so for example, you know, the other day my Time Hop app reminded me of a photo of my daughter when she was about two. And she had her stuffed piglet that she put in the dishwasher because it needed a bath because it was dirty. Um.
[00:06:19] Jennifer: I love that.
[00:06:20] Kat: And so the memory popped up on my phone and it just, it made me so happy. And I thought, I am so glad I thought to take this picture because I probably wouldn't have remembered it again. Um, and those are the things that I just really want to make sure I get down. and documented because those are the things that just make me smile and that my family loves to look back on.
[00:06:40] Jennifer: Well, I think that that is a great segue into kind of our main conversation today because that comes out in the types of scrapbooking that you share. Um, can you start by telling us a little bit more about your scrapbooking journey and evolution?
[00:06:55] Kat: Sure, um, so I started scrapbooking many years ago when my husband and I were still dating, um, during his first deployment. I thought it would be fun to make him a scrapbook. Um, so that's kind of what got me on the journey. , And so before my daughter was born, I did a lot of 12 by 12 layouts, and I had done Project Life for probably three or four years. , And I really enjoyed the Project Life project, but my real love is 12 by 12 layouts. Um, those are what make me happy, and so after my daughter was born, you know, I was a new mom, I just didn't have a lot of time to do things, and so I kind of wanted to re evaluate what I was doing and how I was documenting my memories.
[00:07:38] Kat: And like I said, I wanted to make sure I was capturing some of her everyday moments. And so now I do 12 by 12 layouts for me for fun. I do every month for my daughter, I do a double page layout that kind of highlights photos from the month. It's usually about 13. I follow the same format for every month, so it's usually 12 or 13 photos to the double page layout. And then I do a project called 52 Favorites, which pulls a memory from every week of her year. So that way I feel like I couldn't keep up with Project Life, but I'm still trying to get the everyday documented. And that's how I do it.
[00:08:16] Jennifer: I love how you the clarity you have around how you're approaching things, how certain types of stories fit into that. I think, I think we're all kind of hoping for that. It just feels so good that you that you found your way in the hobby.
[00:08:30] Kat: Yeah, I feel very lucky and my daughter loves looking back on them, so I feel like I'm doing something right.
[00:08:37] Jennifer: So I find that your style is so cohesive, like even when I know you're doing using different products, because you have, you know, the banner for your design team on it. But You're making similar choices. How would you describe your, your style?
[00:08:51] Kat: Yeah, um, I think my style is very simple. Um, it's usually very clean lines. Um, I'm terrible with mixed media, or at least I'm really uncomfortable with it. Um, so I, I can't make messy projects look good like so many people do. Um, so I keep to a very simple style. Um, usually I'm on, uh, a white background for my 12 by 12 layouts.
[00:09:16] Kat: Um. I do some, I have gold paint splatters on every single layout that I do.
[00:09:23] Jennifer: That's kind of messy. That's mixed media.
[00:09:27] Kat: Yeah, I guess. I don't know. If you looked at my stuff, I don't think you would ever describe it as messy.
[00:09:32] Jennifer: Sure. Sure.
[00:09:34] Kat: But yeah, I do try to make myself branch out occasionally, but I mean, I know what I like and at the end of the day, it's, it's important to me for the pictures to be the highlight. So my style is pretty simple. And it's, it's easy for me to, to keep up with my projects because I have a simple style.
[00:09:53] Jennifer: I would also say though, that you use a lot of color. Like you really appreciate having, you know, even like rainbow gradients and you're not shy about incorporating color into your pages.
[00:10:05] Kat: That, yeah, that is very true. I do love color. Um, and I, I balance a lot of color with usually a very neutral background.
[00:10:13] Jennifer: Yes. Yes. So when you're sitting down to create a page, what do you typically like think about, um, can you talk a little bit more about your process?
[00:10:23] Kat: Sure. So like I said, um, my 12 by 12 layouts are usually made for me. Um, that's kind of my self care. Um, so on those, I just kind of do whatever I want. Um, so I know some people are like, Oh, I, I have a photo in mind and that's what I start with. Well, sometimes I have a product in mind that I just really want to play with, or I've found a challenge online that I want to do.
[00:10:47] Kat: Um, and so I'll find a photo to match that. And so, usually with my 12 by 12 layouts, I don't go into it, um, with a, a formula. Now my, like I said, my double page layouts that I do once a month that highlights my daughter, those are very much following a formula. I pick out 12 to 13 photos from the month, I print them out. I date stamp all of them, I lay them out exactly how I want them, they all, I mean they all look the same. Because I actually at the end of the year I put them all in a Shutterfly book and get them printed. So they're very cohesive. The same thing with my 52 Favorites, I have a very specific formula that I follow for each of those pages. I do a 4x4 page with a 3x4 photo, and a ton of word phrase stickers down the side. So again, when you look at those, it's very obvious that I did it with this specific formula in mind.
[00:11:46] Jennifer: Yes, yes. So 52 Favorites is a challenge created by Paper Issues way back in 2018. So how long have you been doing it?
[00:11:55] Kat: So I've actually been doing it since it started in 2018. Um, Yeah, so the project was created by Cassie Flora, who's the owner of Paper Issues, um, and her goal was really to, to celebrate one thing each week, so that she could always remember to be thankful for something. And when they announced the project in 2018, it just resonated with me so much. I was a pretty new mom. My daughter was only four months old. I was exhausted. I was under this pressure still to try to keep up with a Project Life type album for her. And so when they announced this project, I was like, oh my gosh, I have to try this. I think this is what I need. So I don't miss out on these moments because I'm worried I'm going to forget them because I'm not getting any sleep. Um, and it was just, it was exactly what I needed. So yeah, I started doing it right away.
[00:12:47] Jennifer: And so all of each album has been exclusively about your daughter Piper, right?
[00:12:52] Kat: Yes. Yep. All about her.
[00:12:54] Jennifer: And do you feel like this really kind of took the pressure off of being trying to be more comprehensive in your scrapbooking about her?
[00:13:02] Kat: I think, yeah, I definitely think so. And, um, like I said, so some of the weeks something big happened, like she started school or it was her birthday, um, and sometimes it's her throwing her stuffed animal in the dishwasher, but it's always capturing something that is, that I want to remember.
[00:13:21] Jennifer: So as you said, these are four by four pages with three by four photos on them. And then I think you choose like a little pattern paper as the background. Is that right? Can you like describe, you know, creatively a little bit in more detail?
[00:13:34] Kat: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so yeah, each of my 52 Favorites. Um, well, let me say this. This is what I do now. So the first year I did, um, kind of like a traveler's notebook size.
[00:13:45] Kat: And they all look the same and it was fun. Um, but I, I kind of felt a lot of pressure to fill up the space. It wasn't a space that I was really comfortable with, or sides that I was comfortable with.
[00:13:56] Kat: And so the second year I did the project, that's when I decided to play around with the 4x4 size. And I've stuck with that since 2019. And so each of my pages, I start with a four by four size pattern paper, and I will glue down my 3x4 photo. And then along one side, I will just take a bunch of phrase stickers, um, I have a lot from Pretty Little Studio, Elle's Studio, um, scrapbook. com sells like, um, phrase sticker pads, so I use all those. And I just go down the side with them, um, I usually have one tag that I type out a quick little piece of journaling about what's happening in the photo, um, and then I put somewhere on there I've designated the week of the year that it is and the date. Um, and they really, they almost all look the same and it's great for me because I fall behind. So right now I'm probably four weeks behind. Um, But I will just go sit down and I can do them all in one sitting in about an hour or less. Because I just follow the same formula. So it's really easy.
[00:15:09] Jennifer: Yes, for sure. I love kind of that sense of repetition. You know, you talked about how you do that in some of your 12 by 12 layouts as well. That can just kind of take away some of those hurdles we have to get things scrapbooked. So could you tell me a little bit more about how you type that journaling? Are you doing it in a hybrid way and printing it and then kind of like cutting out a tag or typewriter? What does that look like?
[00:15:31] Kat: Yeah, so I use a typewriter. Um, I have a We Are Memory Keepers typewriter, which I think now they're We Are Makers, but at the time of the typewriter it was We Are Memory Keepers. Um, I have one of those that I've had for a while. I want to say probably since maybe like 2015 is when I got it. Um, and then Pretty Little Studio, uh, they sell cardstock sheets of labels that you can cut out. And so I use my typewriter and I use the Pretty Little Studio labels and then I cut them out and glue them on.
[00:16:07] Jennifer: Oh, that's fun. That's a great way to do it. Do you do typewritten stuff on your layouts as well?
[00:16:14] Kat: Sometimes. Um, sometimes. Most of the time, I'm actually really bad at journaling, so I don't do a lot of journaling on most of my projects. Um, but if I do now, I'm mainly using a computer. I'm printing it out either on a clear sticker paper or just leaving it on white paper and backing it somehow, and then putting it on my layout.
[00:16:36] Jennifer: Nice, nice. Now, has doing this particular project over the years been kind of a stash buster for you in terms of using up pattern paper?
[00:16:46] Kat: It is. Yeah, it's great for those little pieces that I have left over. Um, so like I said, we just did a move and I tried to purge before we moved. I tried. It's not great, especially with paper products. Um, but I did have a whole bunch of papers that maybe I had half a sheet. Um, so the ones that I still thought were fun and still fit with my style, I did put them in a box and I'm trying to use that box for my 52 favorites instead of cutting into a new 12 by 12 sheet.
[00:17:18] Jennifer: Oh, that's fun. That's, sometimes it's like we can find clever ways to use our scraps and that's definitely one for sure.
[00:17:25] Kat: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:17:27] Jennifer: Do you ever like pre cut a bunch of 4x4s or is it really just like in the moment as you're creating?
[00:17:33] Kat: For me, it's in the moment. I probably should cut some four by fours and have them ready to go. Um, but I also, like I said, I usually sit down and do, um, maybe four weeks at one time. And I don't necessarily know, um, before I sit down what pictures I'm going to highlight from each week. So I go through my phone, I print out the pictures, and then I try to find a paper that matches the picture that I want to use for that week, um.
[00:18:01] Kat: So I just.
[00:18:01] Jennifer: That's fun.
[00:18:01] Kat: Do it all at once.
[00:18:02] Jennifer: So I'm curious, how long have you been doing it with the word strips on the side?
[00:18:07] Kat: Um, ooh, I think I've been doing it since 2019. Um,
[00:18:16] Jennifer: Have you ever felt like you had to buy more? Like.
[00:18:19] Kat: Yes, I do by a lot of phrase stickers now. Um, again, Pretty Little Studio, which is a team I designed for, but every collection they release, um, they have a bunch of word stickers.
[00:18:32] Kat: So I'm always making sure to buy the paper labels and the word stickers from their new collections. Um, and then Elle's, they have a lot of phrase stickers, um, stamps. I should probably use more of my word stamps. I don't stamp a lot on my 52 favorites. But now that we're talking, maybe I should explore that option.
[00:18:52] Kat: But yeah, I do try to stay in a constant supply of stickers. Um, Citrus Twist Kits, uh, they have a lot of word sticker sheets too. And so, um, like twice a year I'll go on to their website and kind of restock my word sticker stash.
[00:19:09] Jennifer: Yeah cause I use a lot of those for sure. And I think between my, like, I have a little chipboard bin of all, like, just like little rectangular phrases. I probably pull that out the most of anything, of all of my chipboard. And so I think I would go through that pretty fast with this style of page.
[00:19:25] Kat: Oh yeah. Well, and then you end up with a bunch that I just really can't use for documenting my daughter. Like handsome and good boy and stuff like that. I'm like, oh, I should probably get rid of these. Maybe I could use them for my dog.
[00:19:38] Jennifer: Yeah, no, that's like another way to like, maybe our organization needs to be shifted towards which phrases work for this type of project. So you're not always like trying to file through and trying to find ones that are relevant.
[00:19:51] Kat: Yeah, absolutely. That's definitely the part that takes me the longest when I'm making them, is looking through all the sticker sheets, like, hmm, which phrase should I use, and how can I use this one?
[00:20:00] Jennifer: Yeah, we will definitely include some links, um, in our show notes to these pages. Because they, even if you only, if someone like only does one, you know, just as a layout, what a great way to use a lot of those supplies and it just has a, like a wonderful design impact, but then you're doing it every single week. So I can imagine that it's just really fun too.
[00:20:21] Kat: Yeah
[00:20:22] Jennifer: Easy, fun, you know, just really feeling we are not forgetting all those little moments of our people as they, they grow and change.
[00:20:32] Kat: Absolutely, yeah, I think that, that's the goal, right, with memory keeping, and everyone has a different goal, but for me, like I said, I do just want to remember those moments. And I think especially you see it as a parent when you, look back and see how, how quickly time has passed. So it is, I'm happy that I do these projects so I can remember some of these things forever.
[00:20:57] Jennifer: So, do you think you'll continue 52 Favorites next year as well as your, um, 13 photo spreads?
[00:21:05] Kat: Yes, I will, um, I will continue doing this project probably until my daughter asked me to stop, if she ever asked me to stop. Um, I will respect her wishes and then, you know, probably once she's out of the house at 18, I won't be able to do it anymore. Um, but yeah, um, I, my, my plan is to keep doing these for as long as feasible.
[00:21:30] Jennifer: Now, I'm curious. I feel like four by four albums and page protectors. Are they harder to come by than they used to be?
[00:21:39] Kat: They are, so in 2019, when I tried this style and realized that I liked it, um, I decided to try to stock up as much as possible. And so I bought a whole bunch of four by four page protectors from Amazon that year that I'm still going through. I have a whole bunch. Um, and then I don't know what year it was, but uh, Paige Evans released a bunch of 4x4 albums with one of her collections in the past few years, and so I bought a bunch at that time too. Um, so I have enough right now that I can probably go four more years.
[00:22:17] Jennifer: Nice.
[00:22:18] Kat: Does that make me sound crazy?
[00:22:20] Jennifer: No, not at all. I think that if we have a project we love and we know we're going to do it in the same size, we have to be prepared. And then maybe by then there'll be something else, like a new, a new size or format that you want to jump onto.
[00:22:33] Kat: Absolutely. And maybe one day I'll return to Project Life. I really loved doing it, but I just couldn't keep up. There was so much pressure for me with that project. Um, but as my daughter gets older and more independent, um, I am getting more time back. So maybe I'll return to that project at some point.
[00:22:51] Jennifer: Yes. I remember like, I need to do a layout about kind of each milestone where you get more time back. Like when they, um, stop using diapers and like just all these different things. It's like, all of a sudden, like, Oh my gosh, like I didn't realize how much time that particular thing took. So.
[00:23:07] Kat: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:23:09] Jennifer: So do you do any, uh, December type projects?
[00:23:13] Kat: I do. So I try to do a December Daily every year. And again with being on the Elle's studio team, um, they put out a Document December kind of kit every year, which is mainly what I work with. Um, but I will tell you, I'm not as good at keeping up with that project. Again, I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself to try to finish it as quickly as possible and it's just not feasible for me to really do a page every day. So then I get frustrated and I feel like I'm so far behind when even though the only person putting pressure on me is me.
[00:23:51] Jennifer: Sometimes we're so bad about that, right?
[00:23:53] Kat: I know, it's like nobody else cares, um, but I usually, every year I probably do about two thirds of a December album. I have, I think, two years that I've completed. Um, so, you know, I need to probably come up with a different approach to it, to be honest with you.
[00:24:10] Jennifer: So what are you thinking? Are you thinking about? An approach for this year, um, do you already have products on order, either as part of your design team or because you purchased them?
[00:24:21] Kat: Um, yeah, so I have all the Document December products from Elle's studio right now. Um, and it's a really fun range this year. So that's mainly what I'll use just to kind of keep a more cohesive look through my album. Um, I think the only thing I'm going to try to do differently this year is to prepare a little bit better.
[00:24:41] Jennifer: Mm
[00:24:42] Kat: I think I'm still going to try to do the like a daily page, um, but I've never been big on prepping beforehand and I know a lot of people do that and they've been very successful with it. Um, for me, I think it'll just be going through some of my past albums and seeing what types of things do I document every year and maybe just having those in mind. Right. Um, so, I always, with the daily prompt, sometimes it's hard because we don't do something exciting every day of December. Um, so I will, in the past I've filled in those days with um, pictures of our laundry stack of Christmas jammies for my daughter. Um, so coming up with filler pages, I guess, when something super exciting isn't happening that day is what I struggle with the most. Um, so I think I'll just try to come up with a list of things before I start the project this year to just be on the lookout for like Christmas art, Christmas lists, um, that types of things. Things I can just throw in and call it a day.
[00:25:49] Jennifer: Well, I think some of those you can kind of fully complete in advance. Like, I know last year I did one about our wrapping paper in November. Like, I had the wrapping paper, I took the picture, I made the page, um, and so it was a nice, like, accessory to what was actually happening during the month.
[00:26:05] Kat: Yeah, absolutely. And that's a great, that's a great thing to document when you didn't ride the Polar Express that day or whatever. You know what I mean?
[00:26:16] Jennifer: Now, I'm wondering also, like, is there a way to, like, take what really works for you with 52 Favorites, um, and, in your other projects that you kind of repeat the same format and bring some of that repetition to your album? Like, I'm, like, what I'm visioning is, like, let's find all the star things and put those down the edge. Let's find all the, I don't know, Christmas ornaments and, like, put those down the side. Like, trying to create some sort of repetition so that it's just easier.
[00:26:48] Kat: Yeah, no, that's actually a really good idea. And again, I think finding a formula that works for you makes a project so much easier. Um, so yeah, I think that's a really good idea having just like a repetition theme throughout an album. So you're kind of your format for the page is already figured out. I love that. I hadn't thought about that before, but that's a really good idea.
[00:27:11] Jennifer: Yeah, I know sometimes we get, like, either stuck doing it the same way and something about it is, like, not totally working. So we have to figure out, okay, what are the things that do work and how can I apply that to what I'm looking at now. So.
[00:27:27] Kat: No, absolutely.
[00:27:28] Jennifer: Well, I'm excited to see what you create and, uh, yeah, to watch this, um, 52 Favorites especially like evolve, you know, it's fun seeing your pages online and seeing your daughter grow. And it's just, it's so, how do I say this? Like, I love when someone has a project that just like means so much to them that that is the drive to keep working on it. And I think those are the types of projects we all need to find in our lives.
[00:27:55] Kat: Yeah, well, thank you. It's a project that I really do enjoy, and I think, um, you know, when Cassie created the project and kind of her vision for it, it really, like I said, it resonated with me, and it's something that I've held on to. It's a project that I don't see myself giving up anytime soon. So.
[00:28:14] Jennifer: Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much for spending time with me.
[00:28:18] Kat: Thank you so much for having me. I love talking with you.
[00:28:21] Jennifer: Kat, can you share where we can find you online and anything else maybe that you have new or coming up that we can see from you in the coming months?
[00:28:29] Kat: Sure. Um, so I'm mainly active on Instagram. Um, so I'm at KraftyKat9. Those are both K's. So K R A F T Y K A T and the number nine. Um, I have a blog, but I haven't updated it in over a year, so I wouldn't recommend going there. Um, and then, uh, yeah, like I said, I am on a few different design teams, so, uh, Paper Issues, Pretty Little Studio, and Elle's Studio is where you can find my work right now.
[00:29:01] Jennifer: Awesome. Thank you again so much. And I hope you have a wonderful week and holiday season as well.
[00:29:07] Kat: Thank you, you as well. Have a great day.
[00:29:10] Jennifer: And to all of our listeners, please remember that you have permission to scrapbook your way.
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