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Archive for the ‘organization’ Category

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!

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To help my kids make sure they accomplish all of their morning preparations, I made a up a little check-off chart for them!  This chart was heavily influenced by THIS really cute one, but I ended up drawing my own, because I wanted to have a chart that reflected our particular tasks and look like the items in our own household.

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I drew the pictures by hand and then scanned them in black and white.  I adjusted their sizes to make them consistent, spaced them out, and then added captions in Photoshop Elements.  The charts are slightly different for my son and daughter: I drew clothes that look like their favorite school-clothes styles, and my son doesn’t need to style his hair in the morning!

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I bought very inexpensive frames with plexiglass, and we attached a ribbon to hang them from two Command Hooks (<-affiliate link) so that the hooks could become a holder for a washable dry erase marker (each kid picked a favorite color to use from a set I found in a craft store several years ago).  They are hung at kid-level in the hallway so that as they complete tasks, my kids cross off each picture.  We also added felt pads to the back of the frames so they don’t make marks on the walls when bumped.

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During the day or in the evening, I simply wipe the frame clean, and we start over again in the morning!  We’re several weeks into school now, and the charts have been really helpful in motivating my kids to accomplish what they need to do before leaving for the bus stop!

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Last Christmas, Husband and I decided that V should “inherit” my American Girl doll that I’d had when I was younger.  She was delighted, and I really enjoyed seeing all of my special little doll clothes and accessories out and being enjoyed again.

One thing that I really felt strongly about, though, was having a good way to store the doll’s dresses.  When I was younger, the dresses must have stayed in a pile or gathered under the little garment bag I had as part of the doll’s traveling kit.  It made it hard to play with them, and so I asked Husband if he could help… and of course, he did!

We browsed for some ideas, and somewhere on Pinterest we saw an idea that we both liked– it was straightforward and we had scrap wood on hand.  Husband purchased a dowel, and put this cute clothing rack together really quickly!

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Originally, we had intended to paint it, but we think it looks nice as-is.  It’s stable without being bulky, and I love how it keeps the outfits tidy and unwrinkled.  It’s also tall enough that my daughter can store more accessories on the floor under the hanging clothes.

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I noticed, however, that the dresses collected dust really easily.  (Our house always seems so dusty, no matter how frequently we change our filters!)  It really got to me the other day, and so I went down to my craft studio and drafted up this fabric cover for the rack.

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There are main panels connected with a top panel (so that the design of the fabric could be upright on both sides), and end panels that flare to fit the shape of the clothing rack.

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I added a handle on top so that my daughter can easily pull the cover off whenever she’s ready to play with her doll.

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I think it’s working out really well!

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The cover is easily vacuumed or washable, and it keeps the dresses ready for playing!

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I started putting together this big 200-print order from Persnickety Prints in January, and I worked on it through mid-May (album planning sometimes takes me a while).  I placed this order on May 16 and received it within a couple of days!  (Persnickety is awesome.)

When I got the order in the mail, I had the idea that I could do a super-sped up video of how I separate out my photos into my different album projects.  You see, for about every project I do, I start with an enormous amount of pre-planning.  I like to know where my photos are going to go and what sizes I plan to use.  That way, when I get to the paper cutting and gluing and making things pretty part of the process, the photo part is already finished.

It’s taken me a while to get this video completed (my very first voiceover ever!).  But now it’s ready to share!

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With this order, I have photos for 5 specific projects, in addition to some that I intend to frame or to use on a few scrapbook layouts that aren’t part of a particular album project:

Husband helped me rig up my tripod with my camera so that I could put together this video.  I increased the speed to 20x… and just because I’m a nerd, I did keep track of the actual time it took for each stage:

  • unboxing+sort = about 10 minutes
  • appendicitis mini album = about 15 minutes
  • mommy book = about 5 minutes
  • baby album = approximately 31 minutes
  • Disney album = approximately 22 minutes
  • 2019 Jan and Feb = approximately 39 minutes

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Here’s the video!

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For the past two years, I used a Sugar Paper for Target planner for all of my goal-setting, to-dos, and daily planning.  I’d switched to the Sugar Paper one when I was unable to find another favorite planner of mine, and I discovered that its weekly layout with a facing weekly planning page was exactly how my brain worked!  When I went to buy one for 2018, I made the sad discovery that they weren’t selling that planner through Target any more!  I had fallen in love with the weekly layout, and the planners directly sold from Sugar Paper didn’t even meet my needs 😉

As I discussed this “tragedy” with Husband, he suggested that I make my own.  He even volunteered to set up an Excel spreadsheet to auto-populate the dates onto the weekly pages and calendar spreads so that I wouldn’t have to do it by hand.  In fact, he went so far as to program it so that I can enter any year, and it will calculate the proper dates!  Hooray!  He really is amazing.

Not only that, but he helped me fine-tune the margins and cell sizes so that it prints out just right.  I decided to make a half-letter sized planner and use the Staples Arc system to bind it (I purchased THIS punch–affiliate link).  In past years, I stuffed all sorts of bits and pieces into my planners and they ended up bulging in an unsightly way with extra papers (and then they’d fall out if I dropped the planner…).  I purchased a set of Arc covers and the largest discs I could get so that it has plenty of room to grow.  I’ve already added several bits and pieces (notes from my daughter, slips of paper with school information, ephemera stapled to patterned paper, and cards…) and it makes me so happy to see them as I flip back.  I love that these bits of life are now part of the planner in a sleek way.

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After lots of fussing with the layout and fonts, I finally reached a look that satisfied me.  I took my favorite aspects of the two planners I’d loved and some modifications that I’d been making to them and mashed them all together.

At the front of the planner, I have a year-at-a-glance calendar that I modified from HERE.  Because it wasn’t quite the right aspect ratio for what I needed, I took a screen shot of the .pdf and re-created the title with fonts that match the rest of my planner.

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Each month starts with a notes page, which I am using to keep track of the things I accomplish during that month.  On the facing page, I have a planning page to help me keep track of my intentions for that month in each of a number of categories: scrapbook (memory keeping), sew, home, and health.  I also have a spot for important dates and a box where I can make notes for future goals and hopes — the ones I want to get to but aren’t reasonable for that month.

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Right after that comes the month’s grid.  In a future iteration, I hope to have the boxes programmed with conditional formatting so that the borders show up only if there is a number inside… but for now, I might add pretty patterned paper to the blank boxes… maybe!  These pages are printed on card stock, so they serve as a bit of a divider.  I may add little tabs (maybe with matching patterned paper??), as well.

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Each week has a planning page and a week-at-a-glance page that I use to keep track of my daily to-do list and appointments, etc.

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It took me until almost the end of January to get everything in order, but I was using test pages from the beginning of the year, and that really helped me work out some of the finer details before I printed everything.  I am really, really happy with how this turned out!  I am so very grateful for Husband’s help!  This wouldn’t have come together without him.

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I have written a couple of other posts on this topic previously on my blog (HERE and HERE); however, they are at least a couple years old.  I thought it was high time to write a refresher post– especially since I mentioned it recently on a podcast about using my big camera in everyday life, and I also recently gave a short talk at a ladies’ event at church about organized memory keeping with digital photos.

In fact, my workflow hasn’t actually changed in any substantial way since my post about using Flickr.  I think that this means that my process is working really well for me and the way that my brain works.  I will say this: the process is work-intensive.  It is not quick and easy.  It takes dedication, but I firmly believe that it is absolutely worth it.

Therefore, I think it is worth sharing again– so here is my current workflow:

  •  Get the photos to the computer.
    • I have a folder in “My Pictures” for each year.  Within that folder, I keep monthly folders.  If there is an especially big event (say, a special vacation), I might have an additional subfolder for that set of photos.  But in general, monthly folders are sufficient.
    • Several times per month (or more frequently, especially if I want to use a particular photo quickly– for example, on the blog, or to share with a friend or family member), I put my SD card into the slot on my laptop and copy the photos onto my hard drive.
    • Once per week, my husband and I upload photos from our phones to Dropbox, and I copy those photos onto my laptop’s hard drive, as well.  I keep cell phone photos in separate subfolders in my monthly folders because it helps me keep what photos I’ve processed straight.  I generally work with one camera at a time so that my brain doesn’t get too tangled.
  • Delete the bad photos.
    • I delete anything that is badly blurry, or a photo of someone with a really weird expression or eyes closed.  I delete obvious near-duplicates.
    • I have a hard time culling too many photos, though.  My kids are little, and their expressions change so quickly.  I am lenient on myself and probably keep too many…
  • Rename the photos from the big camera.  Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  
    • The images from my big camera are just numbered, and so I rename these files with YYYY_MM_DD_shorttext so that there is a bit of information captured in the filename.
    • Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  However, I appreciate the quickly-accessible information when I’m scanning through my monthly folder.
    • For big events with lots of photos, I don’t always re-name, especially if the files are in a separate subfolder.
  • Import photos into Lightroom.
    • I import my photos in smaller batches when I can; it makes the next tasks seem quicker.
  • Add metadata.
    • In my opinion, this is the most important step.  As I gushed about in my long-ago post about metadata, it is amazing that there is a way to record stories right there within the .jpg file.  I started adding captions and stories to each and every photo that I add to my hard drive within a few months of my first child being born, and it is a game-changer.  Yes, it takes a lot of time, but now I know my thoughts or the story behind every photo.  I am able to preserve precious details in a manageable (and backed-up!) way.  It’s kind of like when you used to write photo details on the back of a print…
    • In Lightroom, in the Grid or Loupe view, there is a “Caption” field in the right-hand menu:
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    • You don’t need a fancy program to enter a caption, though!  In Windows Explorer (this is Windows 8), make sure that in the “View/Navigation Pane” options, the “Details Pane” is turned on.  The metadata will be revealed, and you can edit fields right there, including the “Title” field (This is where LR writes caption data, and where it will be picked up by Flickr, etc. as caption information).  Make sure you click the “Save” button to write your metadata changes to the file!!
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    • You can add the same story to a series of photos by selecting them all before you type your caption.
  • Choose favorites.
    • In each import set, after I’ve captioned all of the photos, I select favorite photos.  I personally label them  with a purple color label in LR.
    • I’ve set up smart collections for each month; based on the date and color label, the collections automatically pull in those favorite photos so that I can easily export and share them later.
  • Edit favorites.
    • During each import session, I do some simple edits on only the photos I’ve selected as favorites.
  • Export and manually back up photos.
    • At the end of each month, I export the favorite photos to a temporary folder and upload them to an album on Flickr that I designate to be viewable to family and friends.  I also copy them to a computer at a remote location for an extra layer of protection (Thanks, Dad, for giving me back-up space!).  Then I delete this folder of edited images; the edits are stored in Lightroom.
    • At the end of each month, I upload all of my photos (the unedited files) from that month (from all of my cameras) to a private album on Flickr– this is an additional layer of backup for my photos.  I have Crashplan running in the background at all times, and theoretically once per week, I also back up my laptop to a local hard drive (Even though I have Google calendar set to send me a reminder every single week, I will admit that I am too lazy to actually do it every week).
    • Once my photos are backed up in multiple locations, I empty my camera’s memory card(s) for that month.

Processing my photos through this workflow ensures most importantly that my stories are paired with the photos–I can’t stand the idea of not having an idea of why a photo was taken.  My photos are safely backed up, and I am able to (mostly) keep on top of the influx of new ones.  I am able to share with family and friends, and I am able to have photos ready for memory-keeping projects at any time.

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Around November of each year, people in the online scrapbooking world start talking about December Daily.  This annual project was started by Ali Edwards years ago, and I’ve always been mildly interested in it, but never enough to actually do the project.  The closest I’ve come was to make the December album for my daughter, to document her first month.  I did finish that album, though I’ve never yet shared the finished project on the blog.  (I’ve been contemplating making a video page-through, even though it’s been about 2 years since I finished it!  Does that sound like something you’d watch?)

But like I said, I enjoy seeing other people talk about and work on their albums.  I love watching Ali’s day-by-day documentation each December.  So this past December, I decided to jump on the bandwagon.  I was smart enough to realize that there was no way for me to actually make the album during December (what with the ornaments and the frenetic princess dress sewing…), but I deliberately took photos every day, and I wrote down notes and stories.  I thought I’d make it in January.

Hahahahahaha!

I will say, I did get my December photos through the pipeline of my photo workflow in January, so that was something, and I did start planning the album–in the midst of preparing for our Disney trip! I really pushed to finish the planning and print the photos in February, and in March, I just barely started to assemble the album.

Today, I thought I’d spend some blog real estate to talk again about how I plan for a project like this.  We’ve established my Type-A tendencies many times on the blog, but why not reinforce the idea? 😉

The Album

I had purchased a Simple Stories Snap! 6″x8″ album on clearance a while ago, and this was the perfect project to put inside.  My plan was to use one side of a page/divided page protector for each day in December, with the exception of particularly important days (like Christmas day, or days spent celebrating with extended family).  I also purchased a second package of a mixture of 6″x8″ Simple Stories divided page protectors, since what came with the album wouldn’t have been enough for the 31 days of December.

I’m really not a fan of pocket-page scrapbooking, but since the idea of this project is to capture small stories each day, it really lends itself to a more modular format like divided page protectors.

The Products

Way back when I purchased BasicGrey’s Nordic Holiday collection for V’s December album (read that story HERE–and while you’re there, notice how similar my album planning process is!  I just need so much structure!), I also purchased the Crate Paper “Peppermint” collection kit.  I decided to finally break into it and use it for this project.  I have a miniscule selection of other Christmas products (like the leftover Nordic Holiday and a few papers left from the Lucky Girl Crafts December kit when I was on the design team there).  I am supplementing with basic embellishments (rhinestones, doilies, washi tape, stamps, etc.).

Story Management

I knew I would cover the whole 31 days of the month because my husband’s parents came for a visit arriving Christmas day, and I definitely wanted their time with us documented in the album.

Before I formally went through the photos to choose which to print (and in what sizes), I sat down with my planner, my phone, and my Gmail* to figure out what things happened on which days in December.  I printed a blank calendar grid and jotted down basic notes to jog my memory.

*I often will email myself stories about little things that have happened in a day– I’m faster at typing than hand-writing, and I tag them “[person’s name] story” so that I can easily find them later.

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working on December Daily page planning

Photo Management

This was the most time consuming part (so far).   Armed with my calendar of stories, I sat down with my Lightroom catalog and a “cheat sheet” of all the page protector configurations I owned.  Looking at one or two days at a time, I chose a page design that was appropriate for the photos I was hoping to use.  I sketched out each and every page for my album in my sketchbook.  Phew!!

planning page for December Daily 2015

planning each page for December Daily 2015

As I worked on each day, I sorted the photos I wanted to print into LR collections based on the size in which they were to be printed (6″x8″, 4″x6″, 4″x4″, 3″x4″, 3″x3″, 3″x2″, and 2″x2″).  In the print module, I was able to batch-print multiple photos to 4″x6″ canvases to upload to Persnickety Prints when I did my big photo order at the beginning of February.  Have I mentioned how much I LOVE Lightroom?

working on December Daily 2015 at craft day today

working on December Daily 2015 at craft day

At a church craft day, I brought my album+page protectors, my stack of prints from Persnickety, and a box of Christmas supplies.  I chopped the photos apart and slid them into their appropriate pages…which took a lot longer than I’d anticipated!  Once the photos were in place, I got to start on the fun part– embellishing and writing out the stories!

But that’s for another post 😉

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I took a lot of photos when we went to Disney World.

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This should surprise no one that knows me!  I’ve said it before: I really do believe that I enjoy things more when I can photograph them.  On top of that, a photo is a wonderful way to spark a memory.

Since I knew that Tracie and I would be recording a podcast about my trip, I took special note of the number of photos that I shot.  Indulge me while I record some numbers here, because I think it’s interesting:

  • Before any culling, I had a total of 2,005 photos (not including photos from my sister-in-law, who generously shared her set with me, nor the PhotoPass/Memory Maker photos).
    • 302 on Thursday
    • 493 on Friday
    • 396 on Saturday
    • 459 on Sunday
    • 310 on Monday
    • 45 on Tuesday (morning at the resort, then traveling home)
  • After culling (I went easy, deleting only the worst or near-duplicate shots), I had 1,448 photos from my big camera plus my husband’s and my phones (the vast majority are from my big camera).  All of these photos got captions as per my normal photo workflow (all photos that I add to my computer’s hard drive must have some sort of caption in the metadata.)

Husband and I sat down together on several evenings right after the trip and looked through the revised set of photos, this time including the PhotoPass shots and the ones from my sister-in-law (which also got captions).  We tried to be extremely selective, and we narrowed the set to 248 favorites.  I shared these 248 on Flickr in an album accessible only to friends and family.

By the way, sitting together to look through our photos was a wonderful way to re-capture the magic of the trip.  I came home from FL with a really awful cold, and so it was an especially hard re-entry into “real life.”  Remembering our favorite moments together really helped to cement them into our memories.

My general plan for these photos is :

  • create a “princesses” mini album for V, and a “Disney favorites” mini album for B
  • create a basic photobook so that we can have all the photos available to look at ourselves and to share with others (since we all know it’s going to take a while to make an actual scrapbook!  I want my kids’ memories to be reinforced by the photos.)
  • get some printed as soon as possible to start scrapbooking

I’ll cover those first two points in other blog posts (as I complete them, I will add links).  Right now, I’m going to focus on the prints.

I originally thought that I would just print all 248 as 4″x6″ photos to have them on hand.  But the more I thought about my scrapbooking style, and the way I plan scrapbooks, I realized that would likely lead to a lot of extra prints.  I’m okay with having some extra prints (to display, to share with V for her own scrapbook, etc.), but I didn’t want an overload of them–I would just feel so guilty.

So for my first printing of the photos, I narrowed the “favorites” set yet again.  I chose photos that went along with my “favorite moments” (as noted in my Disney journals), photos that would be used in my daughter’s princess scrapbook, or just plain absolute favorite photos.

It was hard.  As I sorted photos into a separate collection in Lightroom to be worked with later, it almost physically hurt.  I admit, I am a little bit afraid of forgetting about them.  But hopefully by referring to my “favorite moments” and the entire set of 248 (or the truly full set of photos), I will be sure to print more, possibly in other (likely smaller) sizes as I work through my scrapbook.

In the end I had 134 that I wanted to print at 4″x6″ for sure.  I can already visualize how many of them will appear on layouts (that is exciting!).  There may still be extras when I actually work through the scrapbook, but they are the favorites of my favorites.  As I said before, V will use them in her own scrapbook, or we will display them.

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I took advantage of Persnickety Prints‘ Super Bowl sale to order my photos (I had several other sets to print, as well), and I am so glad that I did!  I am SO HAPPY with the quality of the prints!  In the past, I’ve used big online retailers or warehouse stores to print my photos, and they always come back with a strange color cast and/or ever-so-slightly blurred (even after I check all the boxes to remove any auto-corrections that might be applied).  After all the time I spend tweaking my photos to be how I like them, it’s such a disappointment.  But the photos I got back from Persnickety look like what I see on my computer screen.  The color is beautiful.  They are lovely and clear.  I LOVE looking at the photos, and I know that I’m going to love scrapbooking with them.  I’m hooked on Persnickety now.  (They didn’t ask me to say any of these things– this is truly how I feel!)

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At long last, here is a look into my “finished” craft room!  (you can see more details about the rest of the room in THIS post)

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The craft room is officially

The craft room is officially

A couple months ago, my lovely husband gave me a large portion of a day all to myself so that I could finally get my room settled.  Not only did I get all of the extra stuff that had been waiting in  the unfinished “storage” side of our basement, but I was able to finish up a lot of little ends of projects (like finally sewing up the crab pillow cases…and mending toys and sewing on missing buttons).  The end result was that my craft room was the tidiest it might even be in years!  Haha!

So here are some more pictures–especially focusing on my (dream-come-true) standing island/table.

The craft room is officially

We made it big enough that I can cut fabric on it– for quilts, for garments, whatever!  My rotary cutting mat only takes up part of the table top (it’s the pink area in the photo above– the other side of my mat is a lurid lime green, so it rarely is in view).  When I’m not focused on a large fabric project, the Project 365 album for my son is open and ready for work on the other side of the table.  And there is still room for my big paper trimmer and random piles of stuff, too!  Woo hooo!!

The island is based on the one that Christine made: it was through her blog post that I learned of the melamine shelving that we used for the tabletop, as well as the Martha Stewart “storage cubes” that are the perfect height so that I can stand and work comfortably.

The one downside to the storage cubes is that they are just too small to fit a standard office binder (and obviously too small for any 12″x12″ storage).  However, I have managed to find plenty of things to store on my shelves!

On the side closest to my sewing machines, I’ve stored my jars of thread spools.  There is a shelf for mini-albums, and a shelf dedicated to storing the Project Life supplies for my son’s 365 baby album–easy access for when the album is open on top of the island.  In the middle row of shelves, I have some supplies for my PhD ornaments, as well as some really old scrapbooks I made in high school.  The bottom left cube is holding my cake decorating class supplies for now.

The craft room is officially

On the other end, nearest the closets, I’ve stored old journals and boxes of photos and memorabilia, as well as my stationery and ready-to-mail cards.

The craft room is officially

The closets are as organized as I can get them for now.  I think I might need to figure out some more shelving or bins of some sort in the future.  But at the moment, they are working okay.  On the right, I have an almost-empty plastic drawer unit and my bags for Bible study and for when I do crafting elsewhere.  (And do you see the fancy turntable cake carrier that I splurged on?  It’s great for cake decorating).

The craft room is officially

On the left, I have miscellaneous sewing materials and tools– fabric, naked pillows (I really want to make some more throw pillows for our living room…), and old sheets for making muslins (test garments).

The craft room is officially

I can’t express how incredibly happy it makes me to have this room.  Putting it together and tidying it up unleashed a flood of ideas for finishing projects I’ve started and of course for new projects I would like to work on!  It’s so exciting.

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I think I’ve mentioned before that pocket-style scrapbooking is just not for me as a go-to scrapbooking choice, BUT that the exception would be for another baby album like I made for my daughter.  So here I am again, setting up a pocket-style, photo-a-day album project!  I decided to write this (incredibly wordy and detailed) post so that I can document my plan of attack…even though I most likely will not post many (if any) actual layouts from the project.

Right now I’m calling it “Project 365 2014-2015,” which is quite unwieldy!  I think I need to come up with a better name for this album project…especially since it will definitely be longer than 365 days!

The idea is that I will capture everyday life via a photo-a-day projects starting June 1, 2014 and continue through at least my son’s first birthday.  By starting on June 1, I will be including just a few weeks (hopefully at the most!) of our lives before his birth, which I think will be a cool addition to the album.

With this in mind, I decided to purchase two Project Life Core Kits** and combine them for the album project.  I bought the Baby Edition online as well as the Jade Edition, which is available at most major craft chain stores.  I wanted the album to mostly have an everyday feel to it (hence the Jade edition), but I loved the idea of including the extra information using the prompt cards that are unique to the Baby editions.  I’ll use these prompt cards in special inserts within the weekly spreads–especially for the details right after he is born.  This way my son’s album will be even more “baby-bookish” than my daughter’s Project 366— and I’m not going to make him a special “first month” album like I’m doing for her (it is seriously a HUGE undertaking).  All will be contained within this album project (which I expect to fill two physical albums; hopefully not more than that).

For the rest of my basic supplies, I’m using two 12″x12″ three-ring navy binders by Die Cuts with A View.  The vast majority of my pages will use Design A page protectors.  Inserts will probably use different pocket configurations, but that’ll be on a case-by-case basis (note: I typically prefer my inserts to be smaller than 12″x12″ so that it’s obvious that they are different from my normal weekly spreads).  I’d like to use the same pen throughout the year, but I haven’t found one I love yet.

Over the weekend, my friend J came over and we started setting up our albums together.  (Sidenote: this is her first project of this sort, and I cannot even express how super-excited I am to have another real-life friend who “gets” this whole memory-keeping thing!)

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Here’s how I got things going.

 

I started by sorting out all the different types of cards...

First, I got out all of the cards from both kits and started separating them by “type”: the first/last page cards, the weekly title cards, the journaling cards, and in the case of the Baby Edition, the prompt cards.

There are a LOT of cards.  I kept saying to J, “This is so overwhelming!!”

In years past, I discovered that it works best for me to have all of the journaling cards pre-placed in the page protectors.  This gives me the greatest chance of success for writing a card every day– the extra decision of which card to use has been removed on an ordinary basis.  Of course, I always have the freedom to switch out a card for a different one or for a special card if I so choose.    So I decided to focus on the journaling cards first.

I separated all the different journaling card designs into their own little stacks (about 10 cards for each design, I think) and arranged them first in a loose color gradient to see what distribution I had.  I am completely combining the Baby and Jade Editions here (not including the special prompt cards for the Baby Edition).

Did I mention that there are a LOT of cards??

I arranged the journaling cards by color...

 

But I don’t want my album to go in rainbow order, so once I saw what I had to work with, I mixed up the stacks for a random distribution.  I also took out  a few of the designs that weren’t quite my style or didn’t seem as easily useable for an “everyday” card.    At this point I started feeling a bit less overwhelmed, because I had a better idea of what I was going to do.  But seriously, look at the number of cards!!  I was working with 90 designs!! ***

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(J was so kind to let me take up the majority of the table!  You can see her stuff along the left edge of the table in the photo above– she is setting up her album using the Baby Edition and a few mini card kits).

Once I had the cards sufficiently “mixed,” I populated my page protector slots by taking cards from each stack starting in the left top corner and continuing left to right along each row.  When I got to the bottom right hand corner, I started over again at the top left.  It took me 4 full rounds plus 76 cards to fill the slots for about 60 page protectors (7 cards for each week).

In the Jade edition and in many of the cards in the Baby edition, the 3″x4″ journaling cards have designs on the back to be used as “filler” cards (for the 8th slot in a weekly spread if you’re doing it like me).  Before I filled up my album, I took one of each of the cards and set them aside.  There are more than enough that each week can be completely different from every other week in the album, so I’ll choose one to slip in as we go along throughout the year+.  I haven’t decided yet whether the weekly title cards will be the same for each month or if I’ll mix them up, too.

So what about the extra cards?  Because remember, there are a LOT!

I got out a photo box that had been empty and used it to organize everything that was left over:

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There are some monthly prompt cards in the Baby Edition, plus milestone cards that I want to remember to use at the appropriate times, so I have those in their own category.  The 3″x4″ journal cards are separated by color.  I put all of the 4″x6″ journaling cards (the ones that can be folded) in another category, and in the back are my leftovers from previous projects (I used the Clementine edition for my daughter’s album and what is now known as the Cherry edition for my 2010 album– before there were “editions”!)

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My album will sit out on the dresser we use as a sideboard/buffet in our dining room.  It has shelves just under the top surface, and the box of cards above will sit on one of those shelves.  I have another identical photo box that will hold my pen as well as my roller date stamps and a black ink pad.  If I decide to use any other basic embellishments, I’ll add those to the box, too.  This way, all of my supplies will be within extremely easy reach so that I have the best chance of success (keeping up) with the album!

Finally, there is the issue of the special prompt cards from the Baby Edition.  These cards cover all kinds of information from family history to current events, as well as special details about preparing for baby, the birth, etc.  I plan to make a series of inserts with these cards, but I haven’t quite wrapped my head around that quite yet.  Hopefully soon!  I want to be ready 😉

 

** Did you know that there are .pdf reference sheets that show every single card in every core kit??  I found them extremely useful when I was considering which kit(s) to purchase.  You can find them on Becky Higgins’ Digital Project Life site.

*** Side note: have the newer editions been coming out with more card designs than in the past?  I am amazed that from two kits I had 90+ different journaling card designs to choose from.

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