Anyway, I've learned a lot of new tips, namely:
1. use even fewer pictures. I've cut back over the years, from seeing the scrapbook as an embellished photo album to highlighting only the best and most memorable moments of an event or experience. These scrapbookers often only use one photo on a page--or just a very select few, and treat the page much more as a canvas for artistic expression, using the memory as a launching pad.
2. crop images closer. It takes a very small portion of a photo to get the point or the sentiment across. It's amazing how close you can crop a picture and still have the essential piece--a smile or laughing face, the hands holding a present, or just a section of the Christmas tree.
3. have a clear focal point. This seems like a no brainer, but especially if you're using a lot of photos, the eye doesn't know where to go. (Tips 1 and 2 help with this problem.) I also notice that some of the best pages concentrate the photos on one part of the page, leaving "white space" for embellishments or interestingly-patterned paper to shine through.
4. embellish more. There's certainly something to be said for simplicity, but I've seen some great examples of how flowers, buttons, ribbons, etc. can be used really well. I tried to do a lot of 3-D stuff on the "snow penguins" layout (pictured below), but I'm still learning how to do it well.
5. the wonder of chipboard. This one's a minor point, but I had never used chipboard before seeing it used so often on Jessica's and others' pages. It's a good way to add dimension, and the wording stands out better than simply writing or stamping them.
Anyway, thought I'd share a couple layouts I've done recently, under the influence of my "scrapbooking guru" and others. First, my darling baby girl, Charlotte:
"Mommy--why are you laying paper on the floor? Do you want me to lay on it or tear it up?"
And, from that nice Saturday snow a couple weeks ago: