Organizing: Blog Trains

Blog Trains are awesome. They allow me to discover new designers and see what’s new with my old familiar favorites. And you know how much I love freebies! If you don’t have a lot of money for digiscrapping supplies, blog trains are a great way to fluff out your stash. And there are new ones every month, so if a particular theme or color scheme doesn’t float your boat, there will be another train to check out soon.

The downside to blog trains is that they can take a lot of time. Some trains have as many as 100 designers. Visiting each blog, downloading the kits, and unzipping the files can take days. And then what are you supposed to do with all that STUFF?

My organization flow goes like this-

I make a new note in Evernote with the name of the blog train as the title. (You can also use a regular Word document too). Then I copy and paste the whole list of participants into the note. This should copy the links to each designer’s blog. As I go to each designer’s blog to get their piece of the kit, I’ll delete them from the note. That way I know where I’ve already been. This is especially helpful for really long trains where everyone is on different time zones.

As my files are downloading, I start my Pre-Organization Process. I make a new folder in my main scrapbook kits folder and title it with the name or theme of the blog train. Inside this folder I make several subfolders. I’ve developed this system because you can get hundreds of files in blog trains and my standard “elements” and “papers” folders are way too overwhelming with the amount of stuff you get. Here are my sub-folders:

Buttons, Clips, and Fasteners (including stitches)
Flowers, Trees, and Leaves
Other Ellies
Papers- Pattern
Papers- Solid
Previews, TOU
Ribbon, String
Scatters, Smudges, etc.
Tags and Journaling
Word Art

If there is a specific theme for the blog train, like animals, I’ll sometimes make another folder for that specific thing so my “Other ellies” folder doesn’t get too out of hand.

Then as I go through my newly downloaded goodies, I just plop them into the appropriate folder. It makes things so much easier to find.

I especially like to use blog train kits for recipe type challenges or speed scraps that require you to use certain items. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a speed scrap and realizing the kit you’re using doesn’t have stitches and you need them to complete your page. If you use a blog train kit that almost never happens because out of 20 designers, someone’s bound to have put stitches in their kit!

I hope this helps anyone who’s overwhelmed by blog trains. Do you use blog trains? If so, how do you deal with all the files?

Jen 🙂

What’s your system? (mobile)

I listened to the latest episode of the Paperclipping Roundtable recently where they talked about your scrapping system. That is such a big topic I just had to write about it.

I loved hearing about Amy Tan’s system of scrapping using mini books. She basically keeps a little bag of stuff in her purse that she uses to collect things so that when she gets home, a lot of the work is already done. She keeps a book to jot down notes, a pen, tape, even a tiny printer to print photos on the go. She must have a Huge Purse. I’m really intrigued by that idea, and might work on something like that for the summer.

That got me thinking about my own digi version of scrapping on the go. How can a digital person keep up with things while on a trip, or just collecting everyday things for Project Life?

My best tool is definitely my iPhone 4. I can’t say enough about the ease of use, the great camera, and of course all the apps! I would definitely not get as many pictures as I do if I were using the regular camera.

The thing on the phone that I use the most for scrapping is the Momento app. I’ve seen a lot of people sing it’s praises and I’m definitely joining that choir. You can use it to jot down notes, collect photos, and it even grabs feeds from your social network. I’ve been using it since last spring and it has been so helpful to refer back to, especially if I need to remember details for a layout.

Camera apps. I want to do a whole post on these, but on the rare occasion you take a crappy iPhone picture, they can do a lot to help it look better. The one I use the most is Instagram.

There is a lot more to my system than just my phone, but as far as keeping up with things on the go, nothing has helped like it has.