Tell Your Story Check-in #1

It’s been about a month since I posted my 2021 documenting goals. Here’s a quick recap of what I’m planning to do this year:

  1. Finish documenting 2020
  2. Print 2020 pages
  3. Document 2021 as it’s happening
  4. Keep a weekly journal on my phone
  5. Work on 2015 photos, then 2014 photos

Finish documenting 2020 & Print Pages

I am so very proud of myself! I finished documenting 2020 on January 11th and ordered a HUGE stack of completed pages for my 2020 album that very same day. A couple of days later, a box full of gorgeous, carefully packaged, perfectly-printed pages from Persnickety Prints arrived on my doorstep. I paired them with sheet protectors from Hobby Lobby, and a We R Memory Keepers 12×12 album.

I absolutely LOVE the little thank you card that comes with my prints. I love that it says “Your Story Matters.” That’s why we’re all doing this, right? We’re trying to tell the stories that matter to us, the stories we want to pass on. Under that cute green tissue paper, there’s an elaborate system set up to protect your prints. Look at that tape! I love how much care they put into keeping my prints safe and my corners crisp & sharp.

Just looking at my pages in the plastic packaging brought tears to my eyes. There are photos from the summer when my niece & nephew came to spend a day with us. There are pages of photos of my bruised & swollen face when I had a laser procedure done this fall. There are pages and pages of portraits I took of my beautiful daughters because I want to remember their faces this way forever. There are pages of photos of friends and family members we’ve lost in the last year. There’s sadness and so much joy.

I sorted the pages into chronological order and slipped them into sheet protectors and put them in the albums. When I ordered my We R Memory Keepers album, there was only one in stock, so I put the rest of the pages in a less expensive album from Hobby Lobby. One day I’ll replace it with a nice faux leather album. The photo on the right shows why I prefer the faux leather album. With a dog and dusty house, the cloth albums collect every dust particle and loose hair.

Document 2021 as it’s happening & Keep a Journal

I’m not doing very well at keeping a weekly journal. I did one entry, but that’s all so far. I did decide to use my Google Docs app so that it’s accessible anywhere. I typically have a couple of minutes while I’m waiting for my daughter to come out of school in the afternoons. I’m going to try to use that time for journaling instead of opening Instagram.

As far as documenting, I have through January 24th documented so far. And I have big Super Bowl Sunday plans to get caught up with the last couple of weeks tomorrow.

Getting caught up

At the beginning of January, I was only finished with the first three months of 2015. I have now finished April and the first half of May! I’m really excited that I’m getting caught up! My Life in Pockets templates really are helping speed things up!

Look at this fun field trip I went on with Hannah while she was in 5th grade. The 5th graders take over a miniature city and run it for a day. They have real-world responsibilities like jobs, paying bills, and running errands. It’s such a fun field trip!

I’m obsessed with these fun pictures of my girls eating dinner at one of our favorite local pizza places. I miss the days when my kids would make silly faces at dinner. And my little niece and nephew are so adorable! I love these photos of my daughter with our dog. They have a special bond.

I’m looking forward to reliving these memories! Looking back at my kids when they were little makes me nostalgic. What are you scrapbooking right now? How are you doing with your scrapping goals?

Love You Lots

Whether you’re celebrating a new love or a love that’s tried & true, this collection is for you!

This collection is packed full of beautiful Valentine’s Day papers and elements. It’s a little flirty, a little sassy, and a little sarcastic! Take a closer look.

I even scrapbooked a quick page celebrating the almost 20 years my husband and I have been married! I used a few of the Journal Cards to add a fun touch to my page. I usually scrapbook pocket-style pages so this is a bit out of my comfort zone. It was kinda fun to play with a few embellishments. Documenting this page also let me know that I need to take a LOT more photos of my husband and I together! It took me forever to find these. Thank goodness for Google Photos face recognition!

We were such babies when we got married! We’ve had some crazy adventures together over the years. We’ve had a lot of hard times, and a lot of great times. I’d do it again. In a heartbeat. This man makes me laugh. Sometimes I get so frustrated with him. We argue. We make up. We share popcorn (that’s about the only food we can both eat). We go to traveling Broadway shows. We’ve made countless runs to Maverick, and just about every other convenience store, to grab a Coke and get a few minutes alone together. And like my favorite journal card in this collection says, “I Choose You. Everyday. Forever.” I love him.

Cuddle Up & get cozy

Growing up in the southeastern United States, I can safely say I’m a warm weather fan. I spent some of my high school years outside Washington DC, so I can definitely appreciate a snow day, but I prefer to do so from the indoors. We’ve been in Utah thirteen and a half years and I can also safely say that each year I pray the snow will stay in the mountains. My kids love snow, so they’re pretty pleased about this week’s weather forecast. Seven straight days of cloudy, rainy, snowy weather. Me, not so much. But, I’m trying to stay positive because we desperately need the precipitation. I’m trying to remind myself of all the cozy socks, sweaters & sweatshirts I can wear and the lovely electric throw blanket I keep near my desk for work days. I can wear my still-warm Uggs the dog used as a chew toy a few years ago and just stay home. See? Now I’m looking forward to taking some pictures and documenting our story with my new Cuddle Up Collection. It’s so new I haven’t even had a chance to scrapbook with it yet!

There are a lot of fun, whimsical details in this collection. It’s jam-packed with 26 patterned backgrounds and 15 solid backgrounds. I love the plaids and the confetti-style heart pattern. There are 108 embellishments in the kit, including several hand-drawn sticker-style illustrations. There are 3 full alphabets including uppercase, lowercase, numbers 0-9, some symbols & punctuation. The first one is a beautiful gold glitter-dusted alpha, with a deep matching green alpha in the same style. The third alpha is designed with an illustrated knit pattern in pink. I think you’ll love all three. If you decide to go for the collection, you’ll not only get the Cuddle Up kit, but you’ll add 24- 3×4 cards in jpg format. There are cards to fit the winter lover in your life as well as those who are a bit more skeptical about the white stuff. As always, you can buy the packs individually, the kit (papers, elements, alphas) together, or the collection. They’re all 25% off this weekend, thru 1/24/2021, but the Collection is the always the best bargain.

I’m slowly chipping away at my goal to document both 2021 and 2015 this year. To that end, I created new versions of my This Year cards for each year. Yes, I know how odd it is to release a set of 2015 cards in 2021, but I can’t be the only person in this boat. They’re priced to reflect the absurdity of releasing them this year. And, I have plans to release other years as I need them for my scrapbooking. If you’re looking for a particular year, just let me know and I can add it to my design schedule.

The 2021 Cards include two options for beginning 2021. I began my Week 1 on January 4, 2021. There weren’t any business days before that, just a holiday and a lazy weekend. January 4th marks the Monday we got back to real life, or as real life as we can in a Covid world. I do have a card for Week 1 covering January 1-10. The week dates run Monday through Sunday so that all of our weekend adventures stay together.

Here you can see that the 2021 Cards come in 4 sizes: 3×4, 4×4, 4×6 & 6×4 to fit in various size card slots. Each size comes in ready-to-use jpg format as well as “With Bleed” jpg format. That basically means that each card is 1/4″ larger, with the design staying the same size. It’s best used for situations where you’re printing the cards to use in physical projects. It allows for the image to shift a bit due to printer limitations and then be trimmed afterward to the correct size.

The 2015 Cards are designed the same way, and in the same sizes: 3×4, 4×4, 4×6, and 6×4. We once again have a partial week with Week 1 covering January 1-4, 2015. This leaves us with a partial week 53 at the end of the year, too.

This is how I’m using the This Year 2021 cards in my documenting. I use a lot of screenshots. Lots of them. There’s no reason for me to try to put the Covid counts into words when the charts & graphs do a better job. Why journal about the importance of getting vaccinated when I can include a screenshot of the Utah Corona Virus post and a picture of my kids’ aunt, who’s a healthcare worker, getting vaccinated? I did include some journaling about that, but I think the picture is meaningful. And my kids like seeing their aunts, uncles & cousins included in our story. They’re a big part of our lives.

And our 2015 story… I can’t believe how tiny and cute my daughters were. I mean, they’re still cute. But come on… I can’t handle how cute this little girl is in her dripping wet coat under her soccer uniform. It was so cold that day. She’s wearing a sweatshirt under her coat, which is under her soccer jersey. And all dressed up for Dad’s graduation – drastic weather change?! Gotta love Utah weather. And Hannah’s “Elsa braid” on the way to church. Ainsley wore fairy wings when we went to see her cousin (and a bonus neighbor!) in a production of Peter Pan Jr. I had completely forgotten about that, but she still loves to accessorize! I even journaled about seeing my baby sister’s cute friend, who was serving as a missionary near us, walking down the street in a neighborhood near mine. We knew she was in our area, but hadn’t seen her. I yanked my car into the middle lane of the road, ran across the street yelling her name and made her take a picture with me. She was pretty gracious about the entire situation. Looking back, I’m sure she was a bit scared at first. Hidden under the Week 19 page is a picture of our dog, Alfie, who has since passed away. I treasure those photos! I’m so glad I’m going back and telling these stories about the random bits and pieces of our lives.

You can find my Life in Pockets Templates on the first couple of pages of these search results at SnapClickSupply. I modify the templates to see more of the patterned paper underneath. I’ll share how I do it quickly in a tutorial another time.

And because I’m a huge fan of Erica Zane, you can find her products here. They’re sweet and fun with a little bit of sass!

That’s all for this week. I’m working on some Valentine’s products. Hopefully I’ll get them finished before Valentine’s Day!

Stay safe & healthy. Wash your hands. Keep making memories with the people in your life, and document them!

Have a great week!

Tell Your Story: The 2021 Plan

Two and a half years ago, I shared my struggles with telling my story. I talked about a few different roadblocks I was experiencing.

  • Huge gaping holes in our family’s story. How do I fill in the holes? Do I want to fill in the holes? Or are there parts of our story that I’m still just not ready to share yet? Maybe parts I never want to share?
  • Lack of journaling. Do I remember why I took the photos? What was happening in our lives when the photos were taken, or when we didn’t take any photos at all? What was happening in the world? What’s the backstory?
  • Clutter & lack of organization? Where is everything? How do I combine the digital and physical bits of our lives? There are time periods with just physical photos and ephemera. I have time periods with a mixture of digital and physical photos and ephemera. I have other time periods with only digital photos and physical ephemera. How can I combine things? What do I need/want to keep?
  • There are so many different ways to tackle this. What tools do I want to use?

I came up with some solutions to some things then that I wanted to try. Since it’s been over two and a half years, let’s check in and see where I am.

Did I Meet My 2017 goals?

According to my Summer 2017 recording for Modern Photo Solutions, out of the previous 11 years, I only had TWO years completely scrapbooked, and had more than 15,000 unscrapbooked digital photos, and boxes of 35mm photos.

Update: As of January 8, 2021, I now have 2005, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018*, and 2019* finished. I am almost finished with 2020. Two years have an “*” next to them because I’ve finished scrapbooking all the photos I have from those years. I am waiting for photos from a couple of plays my girls were in. I was in the process of getting them from the director when Covid hit. I have to physically go to her home with my external hard drive to copy the photos. It will likely take a couple of hours. I’m counting them done until I get the photos! As far as the 15, 000 unscrapbooked photos, I’m not going to physically count all of my unscrapbooked digital photos. I don’t want to know how many I have now! I am really proud of myself for accomplishing this! I documented some really hard times our family went through during these years. It can be hard to fill those Huge Gaping Holes, when there’s a lot of pain hiding there. Here’s the secret… there was also a lot of joy and happiness and beauty right next to the painful memories.

My 2017 memory keeping goal was to stay current with 2017 while finishing my 2016 pages.  I’m not sure if I met that goal during 2017, but as of today, 2016 & 2017 are both finished.

Organization Sundays still pop up on my calendar, but they have become a thing of the past. I do remind my family to open Dropbox and upload their photos on a weekly basis. A couple of times a month, I transfer everyone’s photos to my computer and organize them in LightRoom.

My Goals for 2021

I don’t want to label it as a goal, for some reason, but I definitely want to place an emphasis on telling our story in 2021, and I want to tell our story while it’s happening. 2020 was an eventful year and I feel like a lot of it is a blur. Already. I don’t want to lose 2021. So much has already happened and we’re just over a week into the year.

The Prep Work: Gathering all the stuff

We have so much information at our fingertips. As I’m scrolling Instagram, Twitter and news sites I am taking screenshots of the things I want to remember, and the things that will help me tell the story of our year. Weekly, I’m taking a screenshot of the forecast for the week, the Covid testing numbers for Utah, the school Covid dashboard, as well as emails & communications from the school. I’m taking screenshots of new stories and images. I take a screenshot of our Come Follow Me Sunday School lesson title & image almost every week. If anything stands out to me in the study, I add a screenshot of that as well. I’m also taking screenshots of quotes, memes and other cultural references that will help round out our story. Not all of those things will end up going in our scrapbook each week, but they’ll help me remember what was going on and help me tell our story. I’m also planning to write a quick weekly journal of how & what everyone in the family is doing. It will probably live in an app on my phone until I’m ready to document that week.

The Process

I’m still finding that I really love doing a weekly 2-page layout in a pocket-style digital format. Some weeks end up being 4 pages or even 10 (yep, 10). And that’s totally okay with me. I’m not limiting what I want to share. Other people are very strict at keeping to the 2-page layout and that is completely wonderful for them. I wholeheartedly support them. I am not a minimalist, in any way! I designed a set of This Year 2021: Journal Cards that I’ll be using, along with my Life in Pockets Templates, to tackle this year. The Journal Cards are very similar to 2020’s cards. I scrapbook all my weeks from Monday thru Sunday so that weekend events are all together.

What I’m Hoping to Achieve

Sunday evenings, I’m hoping to spend an hour documenting. I want to scrapbook the previous week’s photos. This part is going to sound confusing but since I scrapbook Monday thru Sunday, I don’t mean the week I’m currently in. For example, the Sunday at the end of Week 2, I hope to be documenting photos from Week 1. I’ll be seven days removed from the stress but will still be able to remember the details. Hopefully, these pages don’t take an hour each week. I’m planning to have 2020 finished by the end of this weekend. That will free up some time to work on 2015, then 2014 as well. Those two years are going to take a long time. I only have 3 months finished in 2015, and none finished in 2014. Thankfully, I didn’t take a ton of photos in those years.

For now, I’m using Photoshop with my Life in Pockets Templates to document these pages. I originally planned to use the Project Life app, but my phone is too full and can’t handle running the app. A new phone isn’t in the cards, and neither is an iPad right now. I have my eyes on a shiny new gold 128GB iPad with an Apple Pencil and I’m hoping to purchase it for myself in the next few months as an incentive for meeting my business goals. At that point, I’ll likely use the ProjectLife app for my “catch up” years to fill in holes.

The Results

As soon as I have enough finished layouts to fill a section of an album, about 3-4 months, I print the individual pages at my favorite professional print lab, PersnicketyPrints. Then I add them to these black faux leather 12×12 albums from We R Memory Keepers. They can be hard to find and they are frequently out of stock, but they’re my favorite. I want to eventually replace all my other albums with these.

As soon as I get my 2020 pages finished, I’ll put in a PersnicketyPrints order and document my process. Putting the pages in sheet protectors and adding them to albums is my favorite part of this entire process.

Quick Recap

This got a bit long-winded, but the plan is to tell our 2021 story while it’s happening, and use any extra time to fill in the 2015 then 2014 holes. I also will be putting together photo books for my daughters with pages from the various musical theater productions they’ve been in, assuming I can get the photos from the director. This is a totally manageable plan. And guess what, it’s flexible. I’ll be checking in with you and sharing tips and tricks I come across each month. I’ll be doing layout shares and pointing you towards fun products I’m using for my albums.

Keep Scrapping!