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Lemme just say, I’m pretty proud of myself for finishing yet another photo book!  When I knew I had ankle surgery coming up, I started planning projects for myself to work on while I was recuperating.  I knew that I’d be off my feet for a while, and so I compiled a list of specific things I wanted to try to finish while I was confined to a chair or couch for most of the day.  One of those things was photo books.  I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: I LOVE the end result of photo books, but I really dislike making them.  My kids love looking at them– and I love seeing them enjoying the books, too, so I grit my teeth and get them done.

In the time since my surgery, I’ve completed three photo books: Hersheypark 2015, Day in the Life 2019, and this book: Day in the Life 2018.  With the completion of this book, my DITL book set is completely caught up– I’ve been doing this project since 2013!  I am glad that I’ve made good use of this sitting-down time (and proud of myself for staying motivated) to accomplish these goals.

Here’s the cover of my 2018 DITL book:

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For this book, I used the beautiful digital papers from Karen Funk’s “A Fresh Start” paper kit.  It’s a smaller set of papers, but I had a lot of photos for this book (there are 106 included), so there were fewer spaces to fill.

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There’s not much new to say about my process that hasn’t already been said…but that basic formula that I use made this book a quick finish, even with so many photos!

I thought it might be interesting to write down my process for planning the pocket pages in my 2019 album.  So while I was working through my April photos and stories (yes, I know it’s November…but life got busy!), I took some photos and wrote down my steps.

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1. Gather all the stuff. 

I’ve made a point to save bits and pieces: ticket stubs, business cards, name tags, programs, wristbands, etc. to include in this album.  I think physical memorabilia is really interesting.  In my album, I’m keeping a 12×12 page protector for each month to collect all these things in one place. I’ve also been using a free printable from Simple Stories (specifically a page from the February 2019 printable set) to collect some notes each month (I fell off this bandwagon during the summer, but I’m getting back on it this fall!  I’ve actually printed it out 12 times, duplex, so that I have it ready for each month).  It’s on this sheet that I record notes that don’t necessarily have specific dates associated with them: the things I’ve been listening to or watching, the foods that I’ve especially enjoyed throughout the month, and occasionally some notes about how I’ve felt during the month.

I spread out all of this stuff where I can see it easily, and I get out my computer and my planner to help me with the next step.

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2.  Make little paper notes. 

I’m a fairly visual/tactile planner, so I’ve found that it helps for me to start out with little slips of paper — one slip for each thing I want to include in my album.  Since I use a lot of PDF sewing patterns, I save the off-cut portions of the pages to use as scrap paper.  They’re usually oddly-shaped, so they’re perfect for tearing into little slips.

In order to write these slips, I look through all my stuff (step 1), all the photos I took that month, and all the notes I made in my planner.  Each item gets its own slip so that I can physically move it around as I do my actual page planning.

At this stage, I’m starting to get an idea (from looking through my photos again) which things will have a larger (literally) presence in my album.  I’m starting to think about how many inserts and “regular” (not pocket page) layouts I’ll add… but that’s for the next step.

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3a. Plan the pockets. 

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a pretty structured person.  For me to enjoy my scrapbook-making, I like to have all of my photo sizes and placement planned ahead, especially for pocket pages.

In this step, I take my little slips of paper and I actually move them around on the divided page protectors.  I have cut out templates of my “standard” smaller photo sizes (3″x4″, 2″x3″, 1.5″x2″– these are the orange and olive green pieces in the photos) so that I can really visualize what will fit in a pocket.

I’m using Design A for my main pages.  I don’t have a specific number of pages that I am aiming to fill–just what makes sense for the stories I have.  However, I do try to make sure that I end up with filled pages– I want each month to start on a new 12″x12″.

The pockets aren’t exactly in chronological order, but I do try to stick to a general idea of chronology– the stuff on the left hand page generally has occurred before the stuff on the right hand page.  When I want a particular photo/story in a particular place, I use some items (like family swim, projects I completed that month, “listening,” “watching,”) to fill in gaps and keep that general chronological flow.

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3b. Make a diagram.

In addition to the little slips in the actual pockets, I have found that it is super helpful later to have a diagram of the pages, too.  I’ll do a rough little sketch of pockets, make notes about what I want to make sure to include in the journaling, etc.

As I determine my photo sizes, I move them into collections in Lightroom.  I have collections set up for each of my smaller photo sizes so that I can batch “print” them to 4″x6″ canvases for actual printing.  I also export my “full-size” 4×6 photos to a To Print folder that I keep on my desktop.  This is where I collect all of the files to send to Persnickety Prints (my favorite).  I like to print in large batches, so this helps me to keep track of what is ready to go.

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4. Plan inserts.  

While I’m deciding where each smaller story will go in my pockets, I’m also identifying larger stories that will get pulled out into inserts.  For instance, the issue with my ankle has become a larger story this year than I expected, and so I’ve started making inserts where I’m “highlighting” all the ankle stuff for that month when there was a lot going on.  We also took a big road trip to visit family and friends in April, so that is being “upgraded” to several inserts that will spotlight the different aspects of that trip.  Since it was Easter, I’m planning to make two traditional layouts that feature a family photo and the egg hunt my kids did at my in-laws’ house on Easter Sunday.

Sometimes these inserts get planned as I’m working on the main plan for the month, but usually I leave these until the end of my monthly process!

Except for the traditional layouts, which I am planning to make 12″x12″, I like my inserts to be smaller than 12″x12″.  Most often, I simply cut down different pocket pages (one column of a Design B page, or a Design A cut down to mimic Design H), but I also like the Becky Higgins Design G pages.

5.  Print the photos and make the pages!

After I plan several months and/or decide on other photos I want to print for other projects, I use Lightroom to batch print the smaller sizes into 4″x6″ photo files.  I have a number of printing templates set up for this, and they make it so quick and easy!

I send off my photo order (usually to Persnickety Prints!) and eagerly await their arrival in my mailbox.  You can see how I distribute the prints into my albums in THIS post

and then….it’s on to making the pages!  Check out my 2019 album progress by clicking THIS link (as of the writing of this post, I’ve only fully completed the January pages!)

~ ~ ~

….now on to plan May…and June…and July…and August…and on and on!  I’ve got some catching up to do!

We have continued an inadvertent “tradition” of having my son in a green costume each year!  He was Prince James, then Pascal, and then Peter Pan last year… and he’s the Green Ninja this year! (2019 costume overview post HERE)

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Like the Nya costume, the base patterns for Lloyd’s pants and tunic were the Blank Slate Snuggle PJ pants and Citronille Emile bathrobe pattern, respectively.  The pants were a basic modification: leave off the cuffs and lengthen the legs to compensate.  The tunic top was a different story, haha!

Because I really, really love to copy every detail that I possibly can, I convinced Husband to help me to drastically modify the bathrobe pattern to capture that really handsome-looking triangular cross-over that Lloyd’s minifig wears.  I would have tried to do it myself, but I wasn’t able to stand up long enough to make large-scale changes to a pattern like that… so I am very thankful that Husband agreed to help me!  I think he did a great job.

We cut black trim on the bias so that it would easily go around the curved parts of the modified front (mostly the flap that crosses under), and I also added black trim at the cuffs and hem.  We added snaps at the corner of the triangle, the neckline, and one snap at the hem to keep the tunic hanging properly.

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I wanted to make actual frog closures for Lloyd’s tunic, but when it came down to it, I didn’t have the right cord on hand.  Instead, I raided my button stash and found some decorative gold buttons that had been given to me, as well as a little scrap of metallic gold trim that was just right.  I attached one end simply by stitching the braid and the button to the tunic, and on the other end, I stitched the button to the braid and then stitched a snap to sandwich the braid.

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We made the gold dragon designs the same way as for Nya’s costume–hand drawn, scanned, adjusted in Silhouette Studio, and then cut with my Cameo 3; I especially enjoyed getting the curled dragon on Lloyd’s back just right…but then we decided that it would be best to mirror it, so that it would connect more logically to the dragon head on the front.

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Again, we changed out the not-really-a-real-character symbol printed on the minifig for Lloyd’s dragon symbol from an earlier incarnation of his outfit on the show.  It is also cut from gold vinyl and applied onto a circle we cut from a scrap of the same dark green fabric as his head tie and belt.

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The belt and head tie were made from fabric left from his Prince James costume, but we didn’t have enough for the leg ties.  We had a scrap of an old dark green t-shirt that was a close match in color, so we used that for the leg ties instead.  We ended up cutting out his hood from a women’s t-shirt, because I couldn’t find any other knit that was a good match!  It was nice and soft, but was a bit more prone to stretching out.

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Action shot!

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Let’s talk about Nya!  (2019 costume overview post HERE)

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When we were starting to plan these costumes, I started looking at commercial patterns that I could use to construct them.  As I looked, I wasn’t really finding exactly what I wanted, and I also knew that I had a great PJ pants pattern that I can make in about an hour that I’d use for the bottoms.  Husband and I were sitting together discussing the top, and our daughter walked into the room wearing her bathrobe.  Husband instantly made the connection, and we realized that the Citronille Emile bathrobe pattern would be just the right basic shape!

We ended up making the size 4 pattern that I’d made for her way back in 2015: we simply lengthened the sleeves and shortened the hem length to make it into a top.  I added black cuffs, added a black band at the hem, and used black fabric as the facing (in the original pattern, you’d use the same as the main garment).  In the unaltered pattern, the facing is only supposed to show around the neck, but I tacked it open at the hem as well, to show the black border all the way down the front.  I added two hooks-and-eyes to help hold it closed under the belt.

The aqua belt, head tie, and leg ties were all made from some scrap aqua knit I had on hand.  I was so excited when I discovered that it was exactly the right color– and my daughter already had an aqua shirt that was almost a perfect match to wear underneath.  I was really excited to find inexpensive dark red knit for the hood that was a nearly perfect match the the woven we’d bought for the main costume pieces.

Probably the most time-intensive parts of these costumes were the gold vinyl dragon designs.  I spent some time looking online for images or stencils that I could adapt for my purposes, but in the end, I decided that it would be easier–and more accurate– to draw them myself.

I first sketched them in pencil:

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and then I colored each one in with black marker…

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This design is for Lloyd’s back, but you get the idea!

…so that I could scan them as .jpgs and trace them in the Silhouette Studio software.  I spent a lot of time editing points, smoothing edges, and fine-tuning the shape, since we connected the dragon pieces from front to back.  Since I could only cut 12″x12″ areas of vinyl at a time, I disguised the joins by making them look like scales.

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I asked for it…I told her to look at me like a ninja…haha!

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We cut the dragons on my Cameo 3 from Cricut vinyl that I got on a very good sale; we deliberately did not use the iron-on (HTV), which was about 3 times the price (after all, these are just costumes…)… but it would have worked much better.  I knew I wasn’t using the appropriate kind of vinyl, but I was dismayed at how poorly this vinyl stuck to fabric.  At the end of a day of wearing these costumes to school, it was definitely and obviously peeling off.

If we ever have the kids wear these costumes again, it would not be hard to re-cut these designs (now that I have them!) from high-quality HTV and replace the peeling vinyl.

On Nya’s back, we decided to use her symbol, rather than the unidentified character that appears on the 2019 Legacy minifig (see Lloyd’s post for a reference photo!).  I cut it from the same gold vinyl and applied it to a circle cut from a scrap of matching aqua woven.  I used fusible web to attach the circle to the top’s back.  I didn’t have any energy left to satin-stitch the edge!

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Now, how about some action shots?!

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sassy Nya, giving Lord Garmadon a “look”

 

As you may have guessed from my son’s birthday party posts this past summer, he and my daughter are Lego-crazy, and especially Ninjago-obsessed.  So this year, it was not a hard decision for them to choose Lloyd and Nya for their costumes!

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And as usual, I went crazy with the details.  I love cosplay, and each year, these costumes are exactly the excuse I need to give it a try.  If you’re familiar with Ninjago, there have been at least nine seasons of the show, with different outfits for the ninja in each one– and then there are different Lego sets with different outfits for the ninja!  In order to limit ourselves, I decided to create costumes that are modeled after minifigs that my son owns: we chose to use the 2019 Legacy versions of Lloyd and Nya.  (It turned out that this was a very good idea, since I found it hard to find good images of the backs of minifigs online!). In future posts, I’ll show the minifigs with the costumes so you can see how we copied/adapted the details!

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I am especially proud of these costumes this year, since I am recovering from ankle surgery, and I just started bearing weight on that leg last week (so I’m still on crutches).  It’s also because of that pesky surgery that Husband and I don’t have costumes this year… I love dressing up, but these costumes were almost more than I could handle, so I’m glad we made the decision not to even try for ours The vast majority of these costumes were completed within the past two weeks.  Husband and I worked together to create them– Husband was awesome at doing all of the cutting (since I couldn’t stand to do it), helping with the reengineering of the tunic for Lloyd (more about that in a later post), and on top of all of it, fetching and carrying for me so that I could work on them as much as possible.

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we have aqua leg ties for Nya; I just forgot to put them on for this photo!

Another thing I’m proud of is how little we spent (at least in actual money– I don’t even want to consider the cost in hours!): the main fabrics (green and dark red cotton/poly wovens, and the dark red knit) for both costumes were approximately $15 total, and the rest of the fabrics were ones we had on hand (either scraps or fabrics that had been handed down to me in the past).  We bought vinyl for the dragon details, which was about $4, and I used a $3 green t-shirt to make Lloyd’s ninja hood.  I had all the right colors of thread on hand already (amazing!), as well as the snaps, hooks and eyes, etc.  So the total we spent on materials was around $20!  Husband also bought their light-up “energy blades” (yes, they are technically lightsabers, but for this costume, they’re energy blades, ok?) for safety after dark, but since they will play with them after Halloween, I’m not counting them 😉

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I’m going to write a post for each of the costumes, showing them in more detail, but I wanted to include some basic information here:

pants pattern: slightly modified Blank Slate Snuggle PJs (I lengthened the legs and left off the cuffs.  I really love this pattern, it is a real TNT for me.)

jacket pattern: modified Citronille Emile (bathrobe) pattern (modifications will be covered in subsequent posts; they were extensive for Lloyd!)

hood pattern: DIY Balaclava freebie pattern/tutorial from Make It & Love It

dragon vinyl designs: I sketched them myself, adapting the images printed on the minifigs.  I scanned them as .jpgs and then used Silhouette Studio to turn them into cut files.  I did a LOT of point-editing work, and with the invaluable help of Husband, we created cut files that were useable on an actual human.

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I surprised myself and managed to finish another digital scrapbook photo book– this one in less than a week!

This is my Day in the Life book for this year (2019! finished already! …but I still do need to complete the book for 2018…).  Since it was an unusual day (off my feet due to ankle surgery, plus I was leaving for an out-of-town trip that afternoon), I didn’t take as many photos as usual.  (In fact, I almost didn’t document at all, but in the end, I’m glad that I decided to take photos and write my journaling!) Husband was so kind to help me take many of the photos I try to capture annually.

Aside from the smaller number of photos, this project is a bit more straightforward than my other digital scrapbooks, because I have a fairly tried-and-true formula by now.  The backgrounds of all my pages are white, and I make flat (no shadows) collages of photos and patterned paper blocks on each page.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve made a lot of basic templates, which I use for these pages!

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I used patterned papers from The Lilypad collaboration kit “All About Me” — it was a freebie blog hop kit that I collected in September 2019.

The title page and front cover are the same each year, too.  The title page is always a photo of the front of my house taken that day, with a title banner and typed credits.  In the past few books I’ve made, I’ve made a point to add the day of the week with the date.

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The very first year I did this project, (back in 2013!!) I made the cover collage by tiling four Scrapbook Lady “Sixteens” templates together, and I add photos and patterned papers that I used throughout the book.  This cover comes together more easily if I add photos as I work on each page rather than waiting til the end!

The scripty titles are from Ali Edwards– back in 2012, she created this freebie, and I’ve been using them every year!

(This is the final post in a series about a digital scrapbook/photo book I created for our trip to Hersheypark in 2015.  See also PART 1, PART 2, and PART 3!)

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A tradition we started the very first year we went to Hersheypark was to get a photo of our kids (although it was just V that year!) with the statue of Mr. Hershey near the historic Carrousel.  We’ve managed to continue that tradition every year, and I have ended each photo book with those photos!

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The back cover of the book features the park map from that year– thankfully back in 2015 I thought ahead and downloaded the .pdf from the Hersheypark website.  I took a “snapshot” (screenshot) from that pdf to use here.  I like having this little record of the layout of the park each year on the back of the book!

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I like to make a contact sheet of all the pages of the book to see how they look together!

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I ordered this book through Shutterfly, using their “Digiscrap” book style.  I’ve been using their 8×8 page templates for years, and it seems like the bleed and gutter margins are increasing (the templates they provided haven’t seemed to change; the ones provided currently for download have a file date of 2013 for the spine/covers and 2009 for the inside page!), so I’ll have to leave even more room around the edges than I already do.  Also, I am finding that the spine template is off: I used the exact same file as my 2018 book (with just the date and background paper changed) for the spine.  That book’s title printed perfectly centered on the spine (the book was printed in August 2018), but this one’s is shifted and overlaps the edge, which is disappointing (and I noticed it happening on a couple other books I printed recently).  I’ll have to remember these details for future books.