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Month: November 2019

November Day in the Life

Real talk, friends. My son and husband have been sick on and off for about three weeks now, and today the both got diagnosed with ear infections. I’m behind in laundry. I keep discovering surfaces in my house that are sticky with unknown substances. I’ve eaten way more crappy food than I care to admit simply because it is fast and easy. This is how life is sometimes. Messy. Yucky. Challenging.

In the midst of the mess, was the second “designated” day for the Day in the Life, a project spearheaded by Ali Edwards, where we are challenged to document the details of one day. It’s not a special day. It’s not a holiday. It’s just a day. Right now my life is messy. It’s sticky. It’s filled with snot and coughs and crying. But each day also has moments of joy, and this is the true beauty of this project. The invitation to be present in the mess. To be present in the mundane. To be present in the nitty, gritty, gross, fun, silly, belly-laugh moments of one day.

I haven’t historically liked the creation of these layouts. I have previously found them tedious, and even a little boring. I have been anxious to scrapbook about a big hike, or a recent trip, something fun, something flashy. However, as I have completed a few of these Day in the Life and Week in the Life projects, I have come to a realization. These projects are a gift to my future self. I absolutely LOVE going back to these albums and layouts and looking at the snapshot of what life was like at that specific moment in time. I love to see how things change, and what I was struggling with. I love being reminded of the fact that I was really craving peanut butter and jelly English muffins when I was eight weeks pregnant. I love seeing those boring, mundane details. Because these, truly, are the stuff of real life.

In order to try and make the layouts a little more interesting for me to compete this time, I tried playing with different elements from the recent Product Play 3, and playing with products and processes I’ve been enjoying recently, such as adding dimension, and playing more with my stamps. I chose to complete this project in a hybrid style this year, mostly because I knew that during the first DITL in February, I would have a five month old, and the ease of literally just filling in journaling and popping in photos in Photoshop was the only way this was going to get done. For this November day, I was able to be a bit more crafty, and added elements from the recent Foodie kit, the Baby, Rest, Tough, and Watch Story Kits from Ali Edwards, the amazing Freshly Baked stamp set from Kelly Purkey, and some stickers from both Ali Edwards and Studio Calico. I like that the Hybrid approach allows for so much freedom and flexibility.

One way I added dimension for this project was to use Avery index tabs. Ali talked about finding more space in a smaller album by using folded page protectors to either add or hide journaling, or to add more space for photos. I used this technique on two of my pages for this day.

Another way I added dimension was by using pop dots. These adhesive dots allow for various elements to literally POP off the page. I have really enjoyed using these in my layouts recently, especially to add emphasis to stamps.

Finally, I have stuck with the pledge I made to myself to use my stamps more, and I dug into my stamp box frequently for this project. It has been fun finding just the “right” stamp for any given layout.

All in all, I found this November edition of Day in the Life much more enjoyable than those past. It is still a gift to my future self, and one I will come back to again and again.

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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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Does Size Matter?

For me, the answer is an emphatic YES! In the past three years, I have experimented with no fewer than six different sized albums to hold my stories and pictures. So far, I have used 12×12, 6×12, 8×10, 6×8, 4×6, 3×8, and standard travelers notebook sized, which is just a bit wider than 3×8.

While I have enjoyed all of these different sizes to varying degrees, I can definitely say that I prefer the 6×8 size to all the others. I find it easy to use the pocket pages available in this size, and enjoy doing full size layouts as well. I have used this size for two December Daily albums, one travel album for our trip to Iceland, my son’s albums for his first year, and our family album in 2018. For me, this is the easiest size to just “get it done”.

For our family album this year, I decided to try something different than my standby of 6×8, and ordered the 6×12 from Studio Calico. While I enjoy having the ultrabig photos, I actually have found this size more challenging. I think it’s because it’s too narrow for the height of the full sized photos, (this is also my issue with 3×8, more on that later). I have also struggled with this size due to the challenges both Studio Calico and Ali Edwards have had stocking the various page protectors. Not really their fault, I should have ordered more earlier in the year.

I have a few ongoing albums of various sizes, which is both fun, and challenging at times. This year, not only have I been doing my project life-style family album in 6×12, but I have also been documenting my son’s first year in two 6×8 albums. This was a HUGE mistake. I’ve really struggled all year to tell stories in two different sized albums. I find it distracting to deal with different sizes during editing, and have found myself falling behind even more than usual. I have let my issues with the various sizes of my albums get in the way of getting my stories told. Not good. I look forward to returning to 6×8 for my 2019 December Daily, and for my planned 2020 family album. Though I find myself still tempted by those pretty 9x12s…

As I mentioned earlier, I have also dabbled in 12×12, 3×8 and traveler’s notebooks. My one 12×12 album is UNESCO themed. My husband and I have visited many UNESCO sites around the world in our travels, and I thought it would be cool to have a dedicated album just for these sites. I love the full page photos of these beautiful sites, and have often paired them with pocket pages to tell their stories. I have a handful of 3×8 albums, and while initially I struggled with the size, I really enjoy the end product, especially for projects like Day in the Life and Week in the life. Finally, I have been playing around with traveler’s notebooks to scrapbook our adventures while we are on the road. These have become much more a travel journal than a scrapbook, but are still fun. I plan to write more about these later.

What kinds of albums do you gravitate towards? Do you have a size you just don’t like, or a particular favorite?

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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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