Getting to Know: Sarah ter Keurs (AKA sterkeurs)

I am giddy with excitement over our next Getting to Know You Scrapper. I’ve been a fan of her fresh happy pages for a while and I was thrilled to find out she’s a fellow Canadian who lives in the same city as I do! I was lucky enough to meet her in person, sit and have a coffee with her. I had a wonderful time getting to know her better. So without further ado, please let me introduce you to Sarah aka sterkeurs.


Sarah, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am so many people that it is hard to know where to begin. First and foremost, I am a mom of three fabulous children, twins (boy and girl) who are 5 and another son who is 3. Our house can be a bit chaotic, but we always have fun and there is a lot of love and laughter. I’ve been in love with the same guy for 23 years!

I scroll through Pinterest, dreaming of being an über-organized super crafty mom who cooks all our gourmet meals food from scratch and plans amazing kids parties. Sadly, that is not who I am. I do cook a lot of foods from scratch (bread, pasta, soup), but I am hopeless at planning kids parties and I’m not handy at all with a glue gun. I have several unfinished photo albums, and I don’t update my blog very often.

As for my professional life, my Bachelor of Education is in teaching English as a Second Language and I worked for many years as an ESL teacher before I started down the path of administration and found that problem solving was my passion. After a brief stint as a Vice Principal at an Elementary school, I did my Masters in Education and started working at the university where I am currently a Program Manager for international student programs.

I love travel. Just in the past 12 months I have been to Las Vegas, Bonaire, Taiwan, Hong Kong, England, Scotland, Wales, Washington, DC, Holland and France. It can be a bit crazy, but in such a great way. The kids are used to long flights now (they’ve each been to Mexico and Europe twice!) which makes it so much easier to explore the world. I’d love to be a better photographer and a travel writer, but I’ll settle for posting to our family blog and capturing a few memorable photos! I try to do courses online to improve both my writing and photos, but I’m finding it hard to squeeze much else in my life currently. We also travel to our cabin as often as we can which is why I think half my photos are from there!

I run 5km at 5am many mornings, and subject myself to a trainer who tries to kill me twice a week. In the winter our whole family skis, and while we are not “out-doorsy”, you can’t help but be active in a city like this. Actually, the only reason I exercise is so that I can cook and eat because I love food and wine!

We don’t watch much TV but when we do it is either Anthony Bourdain or Jeremy Clarkson (UK Top Gear—I’m a bit of a petrol-head) and usually I am on the computer while we are watching and that is when I do most of my scrapbooking.

ACK! 5 AM runs! Goodness I’m impressed! Well looking at your gallery you’ve been on a real roll with some fabulous layouts. I’m always impressed at how people find the time to work, have families, travel and scrapbook. Tell me a little bit of how you fit in scrapbooking into such a busy life. (Truthfully, I’m always hoping there is an easy way for me to get organized!)

I have a pretty tight schedule, but I suppose it forces me to be organized and fit things in where I can. For example, I squeeze in a few minutes—using my Blackberry—to view the gallery when I am waiting in line at the grocery store or when I am a passenger in the car driving down to the cabin. I also try to set aside time in the evening when I can work on my photos and scrapbooking. Usually, my time to work on layouts is between 10pm and midnight while I am in bed! I wish I had more time to work on things, but that is the way it is right now. I don’t think I’ll ever catch up with the albums that I’ve started, but maybe one day when I retire, the kids’ baby albums will get finished! I dream of going to the cabin alone for a weekend and doing nothing but scrapbooking!

So how did you get started in scrapbooking? How did you find DesignerDigitals?

Like many people, I started, very briefly, as a paper scrapbooker. My friends and I would get together for an evening every once in a while and layout all the paper supplies in order to work on our photos for a few hours. Unfortunately, usually we would end up drinking wine, chatting and all the mass of supplies would be lugged back home. Once we had kids, there was no chance of getting anything done. I’m not very crafty and I don’t like the mess of paper, glue and extra supplies. I can’t recall exactly how I came across DD, but when I discovered that there was such a thing as digital scrapbooking, it seemed like a fabulous solution to my dislike for the paper mess. I loved everything about being able to make changes to the page to correcting mistakes.I also saw it as a great way to force myself to learn Photoshop. After taking a course in Adobe InDesign, I was introduced to Photoshop and what it could do. I didn’t want to do a course, but figured I could use scrapbooking as a way to learn about the program while doing something that I really enjoy. I try to push myself by doing online courses here and there with great instructors like Katrina Kennedy (photography), Jana Morton, Debbie Hodge, Cathy Zielske…..

I think I must have been browsing the web when I came across DD. The layouts that I saw in the gallery really attracted me and the supplies in the store were such great quality. I joined up, uploaded a few pages, and then didn’t come back for a long time. I wasn’t scrapbooking much at that point, and realized that it has to be a part of my life that I make time for. I have come to be known as the albumographer of our family and it is a role that I happily fill.

I like that “albumographer of the family”.I may use that myself.  So what inspires you? What do love scrapping the most?

Recently, I’ve found inspiration in magazines that I get on my new Kindle Fire—especially food magazines. I have a file of interesting colour combinations and pages that I keep. I’ve also recently started to go back onto Pinterest where I find a lot of inspiration, especially with colour, texture and shapes. I think the biggest inspiration for me is the DD gallery where I ogle the oh-so-beautiful layouts. I love looking at the new supplies that are used on the Creative Team layouts and then wait for them to become available.

Obviously, my three kids are my favourite subjects to scrap, but specifically I love capturing a special moment or recalling a funny story of something that they did or said. My youngest son is at a stage where he just says the funniest things. I’m trying to capture some of those on pages so that I won’t forget. I think the “Too Speedy Shoes” was a good example of my favourite kind of page.


I loved that page of yours. To me it’s the best kind of page. A wonderful moment of words that perfectly preserve a moment in time. What could be better? So what’s in your arsenal? What is your dream item that you’d love to have in it?

For camera equipment, I’m not a photographer or a graphic designer, and I have a very old Canon EOS Rebel SLR, the kit lens, a 300mm zoom, and a 50mm. I have an external flash, but I haven’t figured out how to use it. I also had some crazy reflective piece, but I also couldn’t figure that out either and lost it. I don’t know enough about photography to have a dream item, but I’d LOVE to take photography lessons and really figure out my camera settings!! I look at all the beautiful professional-looking photos in the gallery and would love to learn how to improve my photos and learn how to modify them in Photoshop. Like I mentioned, I have done a few online courses, but I’d love to do a face to face course one day.

OK here are snoopy questions that I think about. Are you on a Mac or a PC? How do you organize your photos? How do you backup your work?

Aha, good question! I use a PC laptop with a 15 inch screen. I just got ACDSee 14 a couple of months ago and LOVE it. It took me a while to figure out the tagging thing, and I’m still not finished, but I am committed to keep at it because it makes so much more sense when looking for items. I had to find a method to reduce the time I spent on layouts and this works for me. I back up on a portable external drive, but am thinking about also backing up online because I am terrified of losing everything. I organize my photos by year, month and special occasion and I try to tag my favourite photos so that I don’t have to search so long to find them when it comes time to post to our family blog or do a layout.

It sounds like are very organized about your photos. That’s a good way to be. What do you end up doing with your layouts then?

I try to print two 12×12 albums a year (January-August and August-December) usually through Shutterfly. I find that it is less daunting to do half year albums. I also try to do albums for each big vacation. I’d actually like to switch to printing out individual pages and keep them in albums because I’ve created pages in the past for events that I forgot and then would love to add those pages into an album. Also, I’m irritated with myself when I catch errors on my pages once they are already printed in the book. Working on such a small screen makes it hard to catch things sometimes.

I don’t think you are alone about getting frustrated with errors in a book. It drives me around the bend as well but then I’m the harshest critic of my own work. We need to ease up on ourselves and instead bask in the glory of finishing yet another book. (I know easier said than done!) So what’s been your most favourite response to a book or a layout you’ve created?

We keep the books on a low shelf, and I sometimes I walk into the living room and discover the kids looking through the books and recalling events to each other. That just makes me so happy. To me, if they enjoy looking through the books to remind them of the past and vacations we’ve been on and things we’ve done in our lives, then it is worth it to me to keep spending the time doing them. There is one favourite photo that they always look at which brings me such joy. It is a page from our Bonaire album. The story of the photo is my husband snuck over to Klein Bonaire (the small deserted island), hid treasure in the sand and then marked the spot with a big X. Later when they brought the kids over to “Pirate Island” as they called it, they found the X and dug out the treasure, which was a cigar box filled with chocolate coins. I’ve never seen excitement like that and I think that the photo really captures it. I loved this album because it was the first time I’d figured out that for a vacation album I looks much better when it has a common theme throughout. The book is here: if you want to take a look.

Sarah, that vacation book is outstanding! What an amazing vacation and so well documented. I guess my standard desert island question will be easy for you then. You are stranded on a desert island with your laptop and camera Which four people would you have with you and what 5 digitals supplies would have survived the journey?

Aha, you couldn’t have picked a better question for me! Because we live near the water and usually vacation on a beach, I do a lot of beach layouts! Of course, my kids and my husband would be the other people because we love spending time together. The items that would survive would have to be: Katie’s Alandia Tropics kit (the first kit I ever bought); and Katie’s Hinge pack; any of the Maplebrook Studio Just Linens packs (No.28 is my current fave);  any of Ali’s hand-drawn words (I use the Family Hand Drawn Words one a lot), and finally any one of Studio DD Layer Works templates which I love because you can change the template around and use them in so many different ways.

So what is your all time favourite layout and why?

That is a tough one. It depends on the day, but when I look through the old layouts, probably the one of my daughter that I did while doing Jana’s Blending and Beyond course. It was the first time that I had used Photoshop CS4 (I started off using Photoshop Elements) and was so proud of how it turned out. My style of pages really changed after I learned how to blend.  I don’t know that I have a particular style, but I notice that I do use a lot of full-page photos and like to blend them into the background.

ineke_blendSarah, I’ve had a wonderful time interviewing you. You picked the perfect spot to chat and I love your well designed pages. I can’t wait to do it again soon. Please check out Sarah’s gallery here and leave her some well deserved love.

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