I usually begin by sitting down one night with my pencil and paper and a stack of pics. Then I group my pics together by theme or event and begin to sketch. I sometimes use my Becky Higgins book of sketches or ones I have cut out of magazines or sometimes I just move the pics around until I come up with an order I like. Then I begin to sketch my page layout - and what I have started to do is next to the sketch make a list of the possible papers and cricut cuts I want to include as well.
My inspiration for this particular layout was I wanted to model it after the pair of Mickey Ears my daughter picked out and designed for herself at Disney World. Here's a closeup so you can see:
And once I have done a few of those (or on a different night) I pull out my Gypsy and use the first layer as my design layer - I layout the cuts as I want to see them on my page. I might use more than one layer if I have to plan welding and shadow cuts.
When I do get around to start cutting (usually after a torturous afternoon trying to pick out papers - oh the decisions!) then I simple copy and paste the images to a different layer for cutting.
For this particular layout, the big Mickey shape is cut at 9.5 inches, the font is cut at 1 inch and shadowed, and the little Mickeys in the corners are cut at 2.90 inches and then I trimmed off the excess that hung over the edges. The printed background paper is DCWV Blossoms & Butterflies, the holographic pink is from Target, and the rest to the paper is Recollections. The gems are from Michaels too - from the kids crafts section and adhered with glue dots.
I hope this is the start of more layouts to come - and if you enjoy looking at the sketches too please let me know - I will be happy to include them.