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Summer Lovin’

One positive thing that came out of our Summer of Quarantine was that we got to spend a lot of time hiking and camping. Tom and I have always loved to hike together, and it has been fun introducing Henry to our favorite spots and exploring new places together. It hasn’t always been easy, (Henry is heavy and can’t walk very far, sleeping in a tent is very different than sleeping in his crib at home), but it has been worth it. Now that Fall is in full swing around here, and the days are getting shorter and wetter here in the Pacific Northwest, it was been fun to revisit some of our summer trips by making a few layouts in our family Monthly Project Life album.

It has become a tradition to go hiking as a family for Father’s Day, and this year was no exception. We went out to the Teanaway and hiked up Paddy-Go-Easy pass in an attempt to reach Sprite Lake. We got turned around by snow just before the pass, but we got a good workout all the same. This was Henry’s first camping trip, and let’s just say it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. We have since found creative ways to help him, and us, get more sleep.

One of our favorite local hikes is to Melakwa Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This hike clocks in at about 10 miles round trip, and leads to two beautiful lakes: Melakwa Lake and the uniquely named Upper Melakwa Lake. We were lucky enough to snag a prime picnic spot to soak in the late afternoon sun. Tom took his habitual swim, and Henry and I dipped our toes in the icy water. Unfortunately, I rolled my ankle on the way down, which is still healing.

We are super lucky that we live within driving distance of the three National Parks here in Washington, and we traveled to Mount Rainier National Park twice this summer for camping and hiking trips. On our first trip, we stayed at the beautiful Silver Springs Campground, and hiked to Berkley Park and Naches Peak Loop. Henry loved that our campsite had a stream running through it, and would have happily stood beside it all day throwing little pebbles and leaves, and watching them splash.

I’m still in the process of making a layouts for some of our other hikes this summer, including our second trip to Mount Rainier, so stay tuned!

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What Size Is That?

I love experimenting with size in my scrapbooks. I enjoy the challenge of using both different sized albums as well as different sized page protectors. As my scrapbooking style has developed, I have enjoyed playing around with using multiple different sized page protectors, photos and ephemera in my albums.

My December Daily albums are usually my most “crafty” albums of the year, and are often a place I used to try out new ideas for layouts. In my 2019 I experimented with size more than I ever, and had a lot of fun with it. I used a 6×8 album, but also played around liberally with 3×8 shipping-style tags, using cards outside the page protectors, and creating my own pockets to hold ephemera. I like that they added a lot of visual interest without adding much bulk, which is often a problem I have with this project!

This year, I’ve been doing Monthly Project Life for our family album. I’m loving the ease, and the variety of page protector size of the 9×12 album. It is a very simple size for both quick, pocket layout, and more crafty, detailed spreads. Another thing I’m loving about this size, is the ability to include different size page protectors such as 6×8 and 8×10. I like the way that different sized page protectors look when they are layered on top of each other within a spread. I think it adds interesting visual texture, (and it allows me to stuff in even more photos).

Sometimes its fun to experiment with size outside the page protectors as well. This is not a technique I employ much, mostly because I’m worried that little hands will damage things outside of the page protectors, but it is still fun to play around with from time to time. In this year’s Week in the Life, I did a spread that layered a 3×4 journal card, on top of a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 watercolor painting on top of a traditional 3×4 page protector. I really like how the different papers and plastics have different textures. I also added a repeated element of the geotag half circle outside the page protector in my 3×8 Europe travel album which I used to hold the names of different locations that we visited.

I enjoy the look of my albums more when I switch up the sizes of pictures and page protectors that I use. Do you use pictures or other elements outside the pockets? Do you switch up the size of your page protectors in your albums? I’d love to hear what you think!

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Losing My Mojo…and Finding it Again

2020 has been anything but normal. Between the pandemic, civil unrest, injuries, losses, and the ups and downs of having a toddler, there have been many many challenges to contend with. And somewhere along the way, I seem to have lost my scrapbooking mojo. I managed to complete February and March in my monthly project life… and then…nothing. I took pictures and wrote most of the words for Week in the Life, but it felt like a chore. Our life has felt like Groundhog Day for months, and I just couldn’t find the motivation to tell stories.

However, I was not stagnant. At least not for long. I learned how to sew so that I could make masks for my family and friends. Then, I thought, if I could learn to sew masks, I could sew curtains, and placemats, and soon I’m going to start my first quilt.

I started a watercolor subscription with Let’s Make Art, and have found joy and calm in painting. I have started branching out into more detailed tutorials with Anna Mason’s online school, and even tried my hand at original paintings based on flowers we see on our daily walks.

Recently, my friend Ingunn, a fellow scrapbooker, told me about how she decided to make a dedicated “pandemic summer” album, just dedicated to the awesome things she and her family were doing locally. This spoke to me in a way that project life had not. I wanted to tell the stories of our hikes and small adventures like Henry’s first camping trip. I didn’t want to put a lot of pressure on myself to make a perfect album, and I wanted something that felt do-able and reasonably easy and quick.

I found some layered templates designed by Liz Tamanaha over at Paislee Press which fit perfectly into a Citrus Twist Life Crafted album and just started plunking in pictures and short journaling. I added simple embellishments from Ali Edwards’ Roam kit. The final outcome is clean and simple, and I’m really happy with how it looks.

The best part about working on this album, is it has gotten me excited to tell stories again. Just today I uploaded photos from May and June to be printed at Costco! I’m hoping my project life slump is coming to an end and I’ll be able to share some of the new layouts soon!

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January Project Life

I had a lot of success with keeping up with my monthly project life album last year, and I am excited to continue with it this year! I decided to change the size from 6×12 to 9×12, which I am optimistic about. I made the switch for two reasons: I like the variety of pocket page sizes, and I like the width of the full page photos better. Because only two online stores that I know of carry this size album and page protector, (and last year there were supply issues), I really stocked up on my page protectors, and will hopefully make it through the year without having to reorder. Much. Finger’s Crossed.

I’m not making or enforcing a lot of rules on myself for this project, other than to document what happens in our family’s life each month throughout the year. This might mean one layout for the month or seven. I’m looking at you July hiking pages. This month, kind of to my surprise, holds five simple layouts, though one is the album introduction page, so that one doesn’t really count, right? These layouts are not really “crafty” AT ALL, because I’ve been recovering from hand surgery, but done is better than perfect.

Earlier in the month, we had several days of snow. We only get a few days of snow a year, if we’re lucky, so it’s always exciting. I was super excited to use this stamp set from Elle’s Studio that I had ordered before the holidays in a fit of optimistic glee that we would actually get snow this year. I love how the snowflake stamps can be used to build patterns, and how well the other stamps worked together to help tell our snowy story.

This next layout is all about my surgery and the beginning of my recovery. I have been making an effort to go back through my stash each month and use all the “special” pieces I’ve been hoarding forever. This month, it was the wooden words, and the acetate “just breathe” card.

Another goal I have for this year is to use more of the elements from my Stories by the Month subscription from Ali Edwards. I’m finding the page protectors in the 9×12 size are really helping with this, and allow a meaningful, simple layout like this to come together quickly. I hope to include a page similar to this each month to hold multiple, smaller stories from the month as a whole.

Speaking of holding multiple stories, I also hope to include a “Henry Updates” layout each month, if possible. Last year, I had a separate 6×8 album for Henry that documented his first year. While I’m super glad I have this album, I found it cumbersome to keep up with two albums in two sizes each month. I felt like I was repeating myself constantly, and struggled to deal with different sizes when I was ordering prints. It’s a huge relief to have one album hold all of our stories for the year.

That being said, I still want to remember as many of the little details as I can of Henry’s childhood, so layouts like this are helpful. I was inspired by the incredibly talented Laura Wonsik, who does a great job of always including collections of little stories about her girls in her layouts. I feel like this page protector lends its self perfectly to this kind of layout.

I’m excited to continue my 9×12 montly project life into February!

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New Album – All About Books!

New year, new album! For a while, I’ve wanted to document what I read throughout the year, and I have finally decided to pull the trigger. I chose the Life Crafted Album from Citrus Twist Kits, because it seemed like an approachable size: not too big, not too small.

The first layout I did for this album is about Jenny Colgan’s Little Beach Street Bakery series. These funny and sweet books set in on an island off of Cornwall in the UK, had been a fluffy, wonderful distraction while I’ve been recovering from hand surgery.

I loved how quickly this layout came together, even though I’m still getting used to the new size. The stamps come from Ali Edwards’ Read kit, and from Kellie Purkey’s Freshly Baked set. I wanted to be thoughtful about the stamps I used for journaling, because I want to use them throughout the album as I create new layouts. I’m excited about this album, and am looking forward to documenting what I read throughout the year!

This post contains affiliate links.

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December Daily Foundation Pages, Vol. 1

This is my fourth year participating in the December Daily project, and as I have written about before, it is one of my favorite projects of the year. However, this is my first year doing any kind of foundation pages ahead of time. I have the privilege of being able to stay at home with Henry this year, rather than going back to my full-time job as an elementary school teacher. This has allowed me to have a bit more “free time”, (GIANT air quotes here), for scrapbooking projects, including prepping for December Daily! I have completed four of the hexagon projects from the Product Play 3 class, and can’t wait to try some of the others soon!

I decided to take the Product Play 3 class after seeing so many amazing, inspiring projects in the December Daily facebook group. I have to say, it is hands-down one of my favorite gifts I have ever given myself. Henry’s nap time has turned into full on arts-and-crafts time around here. I bought myself a fuse tool and a score board with a bone folder, and am ACTUALLY USING THEM. I have been going through my hoarded December Daily supplies and organizing them and, again, USING THEM. It feels so good.

I love that the lessons, and the class in general, are an invitation to play with all of the pretty products that have been languishing in a drawer waiting for the “right moment”. Its an invitation to try new tools, new shapes, new products. It’s an invitation to experiment, to get messy, to mess up, and to create.

As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I don’t often do things just for me. I know it may sound silly to be this excited about foundation pages for a scrapbook album, but they has gotten my brain working in new ways, gotten me out of the same daily routine, gotten me excited about making something pretty, even if it’s just for me.

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December Daily 2018 is DONE!

It feels so GOOD to be done! This was a really important project for me to finish, because it documented our first holiday season as a family of three. I had, somehow, managed to complete almost all of it last year, which is somewhat remarkable since I had a 2 and 1/2 month old, but the gaps were bothering me. Most of what was missing was journaling, which I find hard to do after the fact, but I did my best. I also had some blank pockets that I chose to fill with extra photos from the month, even though they didn’t tell a particular story.

I failed to take any “before” pictures of my incomplete pages, but here are some of the pages that I added or finished. I uploaded a walkthrough to the December Daily Facebook page, so you can check it out there if you want to see the whole thing.

This is one of my favorite pages from the album. Each stamp loosely, (in some cases VERY loosely), correlates to the story I told that day later in the album. This was such a fun page to complete, because it forced me to look through pretty much all of my stamps to find ones that worked. Because of the labor intensive nature of this layout, I didn’t end up finishing it last year, but I’m so glad that Ingunn and Alicia convinced me to complete it during our prep party. They also helped sort through heaps of stamps to help me find ones that were “just right”, so big props to them!

This is an example of a layout that was *nearly* done when I stuck it in my album last year, all it was missing was the journaling! Happily, I remember that day pretty clearly, so it was easy to add the story. I also added the little snowflake stamps to have a bit of interest to the page.

One of the things I did when completing this album was give myself permission to USE MY STUFF! I pulled out all of my previous December Daily materials and really played around with some of the pretty things I’ve been hoarding. I also really want to use my stamp sets more, in general, so I made an effort to include more stamping as I completed my pages.

Speaking of stamping, I really had fun playing with my stamp stash with this layout. I love how combining the various stars and colors allowed me to create my own pattern paper for this layout. I used some adhesive foam dots to add some dimensionality, and I like how it gives it a more layered look.

I’m so happy to have this project finished, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out! Now, onto December Daily 2019!

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Experimenting with Monthly Project Life

I wanted to try something a little different in 2019 for my family album. I decided to play along with Ali Edwards and document our family stories on a monthly basis. The weekly version of Project Life always seemed too daunting to me, and I knew I would never be able to keep up, so I was excited to try this approach. It also allowed me to use more of the elements from my Stories by the Month subscription rather than hoarding all the pretty things, so it was pretty much a win all around.

While I love the approach, I wish I had not decided to work on two different sized albums this year, as it only confused and distracted me in editing. That being said, it was fun to work with a different album size for my MPL (Monthly Project Life, duh), and this year, I decided to try the new 6×12 album offered by Studio Calico. I really, really like the large full page photos that can fit in this size, but I do wish they could be a tad wider. I think I may try 9×12 next year because of this.

In August, I took full advantage of the full sized page protectors to document our hike to Lake Ingalls. This is one of my favorite hikes in Washington, specifically for the views of Mount Stewart, so I was excited to use a full page photo for this. I have found that a full sized page pairs nicely with a page protector with 4×6, 3×4 or a combination of the two, so I also included these in this spread.

For one of my October Spreads, I chose to document our trip to the pumpkin patch. This has become a family tradition, (we’ve done it two years in a row…that makes it a tradition, right?), and it was fun to document how much our family has changed over the past year. Last year, Henry was only about 3 weeks old, and had no idea what was going on. This year, he was crawling all over the place and attempting to eat mud and worms. Ah, the joy of toddlerhood.

All in all, I have enjoyed the MPL approach, and I think I will continue it next year, though I have yet to choose a size.

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Story Themes in December Daily

This is one of my favorite yearly scrapbooking projects. The premise is to tell one story every day in December from the 1st to the 25th. Sometimes I’m a rebel and tell more that one story, but I figure that it’s my album, and if I want to break the rules, I can.

In preparation for December Daily 2019, I went back through my past three albums to look for themes that I want to make sure I repeat this year. Theme repetition allows for threads of continuity to show up in these albums year over year. It shows how traditions emerge and evolve, what events have become important to me and my family, and how the same events can have important differences as the years pass. Here are some themes that I noticed as I looked back over my albums.

Theme 1: Getting the Tree

My husband and I have a tradition of going “tree hunting”, where we get a permit from the National Forest office, and go select, and cut down our own tree. The tree always ends up looking a bit Charlie Brownesque due to the fact that it grew in the woods and not at a perfectly manicured farm, but it’s all part of the charm. I normally document this in the first few days of December, because if we wait much later, there is too much snow in the mountains to drive up to acquire a tree. Last year’s album had a very important difference, in that our new baby, Henry, got to join in on the “fun”. He was just over two months old and bundled up in pretty much all of his clothes, but he was there, AND he made it onto the 2018 December Daily tree page.

Theme 2: Movies

For the past three years, movies from the Star Wars and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sagas have featured in my December Daily. In fact, I often reference my albums when I want to remember when a specific Star Wars film came out, because really, if it doesn’t make it into December Daily, it didn’t happen.

Theme 3: Family

We live far away from all of our family, so we often have visitors for the holidays. It is fun to document these visits year over year to see how visiting family members are incorporated into our own little family traditions such as taking hikes in the snow and decorating the tree. I also find myself including reflective entries relating to family members who are no longer with us, and how that impacts our holiday season.

Theme 4: Getting Outside

We love to be outside, and having a baby has not changed this. We just drag him along. He even seems to like it most of the time. Inevitably, there will be at least one story in December Daily about us doing something outside. Be it a hike at our local St. Edwards State Park, or a snowshoe adventure at Mount Rainier, you can bet you will find layouts of us bundled up and braving the elements in every album.

Theme 5: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

We are not big church goers, but we do attend services on Christmas Eve at the Episcopal cathedral downtown. It is a tradition we began with Tom’s mom before she passed away, and one that we have continued, even with tiny three month old Henry last year. Since it’s a tradition, it had been documented in my past three December Daily albums.

Of course, I also have to document Christmas Day! Presents! The possibility of snow! Coffee! Now that we have Henry in our lives, Christmas Day will be forever changed. I can’t wait to see how the traditions, and the layouts that follow, will continue to evolve over the years.

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It All Started With December Daily…

My dear friend, Ingunn, has been a scrapbooker basically forever, (with a few gaps, but we’ll forgive her ’cause she’s awesome), and in the fall of 2016, she turned me on to a project called December Daily. This is a rad little project where stories are collected each day through the month of December, paired with pictures and ephemera and put into an album. Being a lover of all things Christmas and holiday themed, I was immediately intrigued, and wanted to participate.

I learned more about this project from Ali Edward’s site, ordered a mini-kit and an album, and was READY. My first December Daily ended up being a hodge podge of product, mostly hand-me-down alphas and numbers from Ingunn paired with the items from the mini-kit all held in a 4×6 bright red album. I had no idea what I was doing or how my album was “supposed” to look, I just dove right in.

To this day, this first album is one of my favorites. Not only am I actually happy with the way that it turned out, but because it got me started with this creative hobby that I have come to love.

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