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Deep in the Heart | Simple Scrapbook Layout

While I take in many sources of inspiration, most of my scrapbook pages follow a specific pattern and are inspired by my photos. One image (or a series) will spark a feelings-based story that I want to tell. I then choose the smallest number of images that will capture the gist of that story and begin creating.

You can even take a shortcut by selecting a sketch or template with the same number of photos you want to scrapbook!

In late July we drove from Illinois to Texas to visit my parents. While I captured a variety of personal images with my big camera, I used my phone to share a suite of iconic and symbolic images on social media. While these images represented places we visited on the trip, together they helped me tell a deeper story.

Deep in the Heart | Simple Scrapbook Layout

I remember sitting in choir class in 4th grade, learning how to sing (and when to clap during) “Deep in the Heart of Texas”.

The stars at night,
are big and bright,
(clap clap clap clap)
deep in the heart of Texas.

This was my first year in in the Lone Star State, a Michigander transplanted to the land of bluebonnets and Blue Bell ice cream.

To say the least, it was overwhelming for someone who still believed there was a basement in the Alamo.

Over the years the edge has worn off. I no longer hesitate to tell people that I grew up in Texas. And on this trip I realized how many things I actually like about it, that I now feel just as much nostalgia for Texas as I always have for Michigan.

And that had to be documented!

I began by creating an easy collage with the PicFrame app with four of my favorite images. I used Dropbox to sync it to my computer for printing.

In gathering supplies it felt important to choose products that were symbolic, like the gold star paper as the background.

Deep in the Heart | Simple Scrapbook Layout

I layered a 4×4 piece of vellum and two 4×4 pieces of patterned paper behind the 4×4 collage photo to form the focal point of this simple scrapbook page.

I used a ruler to draw journaling lines and let the title plus two small star embellishments complete the layout.

Tip: Drawing the lines closer together makes it easier to control your hand for consistent journaling.

I’m normally resistant to journaling directly on the background, but I’ve felt a pull towards even-simpler, story-focused scrapbooking recently. I have so much to say and not enough time to fuss.

Your Assignment
Look through your recent images to find four related photos. Then identify a deeper, feelings-based story those images will help you tell.


Day in the Life | Summer

For most of us in the northern hemisphere, we think of summer as June, July, and August. I had intended to document a day in my typical life during this time, but it never happened.

Before I jumped to the present day (Day in the Life | Fall is coming next week!), I wanted to dig a little deeper.

In looking through my photos from those months, it’s pretty clear why I never found an average day. There’s absolutely nothing typical about everyday life during the summer! 

My days alternated between a routine that mirrored the spring and absolutely no routine at all. There were many long weekends and week-long adventures that kept me on my toes all season long.

Here’s a recap, in 5 simple statements:

I enjoyed summer treats with my girl.

Day in the Life | Summer

I traveled to Boston, Houston, and St. Louis.

Day in the Life | Summer

I went to three baseball games.

Day in the Life | Summer

I ate a lot healthy and a lot less healthy.

Day in the Life | Summer

I exercised a little and scrapbooked a little.

Day in the Life | Summer

For me life during the summer looks like adventures punctuated by work and rest. It was a good summer. The best part is that I have a ton of amazing photos to scrapbook this fall!

See Day in the Life | Winter and Day in the Life | Spring for more peeks into my daily life.

Can you sum up your summer in five statements?

Day in the Life is a life documentation project created by Ali Edwards.


How to Finish the Year with Finesse | Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced the idea that a combination of mindfulness and planning can help you finish the year with finesse. We focused on a set of steps to gain focus and clarity:

  1. Celebrate your victories.
  2. Take a snapshot inventory.
  3. Clear your plate.
  4. Focus on next actions.

How to Finish the Year with Finesse

In this post we’ll bookend that discussion, as I teach you how to plan the last three months of the year. All too often, the momentum of planning we create at the beginning of the year has long fizzled by October. I’ll show you how to get that back!

Note: You can look at this exercise with more than just scrapbooking in mind. It’s your call.

Step 1. Estimate your time. Look at a calendar and pencil in the times you are likely to scrapbook or do scrapbook-related tasks. It’s important to be realistic, with a hopeful edge.

Look at every week day and weekend between now and January 1st. Think about your current habits and what that time of year looked like last time around. Take a good guess and pencil in 30 minutes here and 3 hours there.

This activity will give you a reasonable time budget, a general sense of how much time left in 2014 you have to scrapbook. Plus, making appointments for yourself now will make these estimates more likely to happen!

Step 2. Choose one big thing. With a context of time in mind, I suggest choosing one big thing to be the focus of your attention. This is not the time to spread yourself thin.

Consider whether that is a project you want to finish or one you’re itching to start. While I’m not saying you can’t do other things, you should select one activity as your priority.

Your time budget will give you a clue as to whether you’ll have just enough time for this one thing or you’ll have extra for something else.

Step 3. List essential tasks. The spaces around your big thing will be filled with everyday, almost non-negotiable, tasks. Activities like photo processing and backing up fit in this category.

Failing to include these “little” tasks (which actually add up), is one of the biggest reasons that plans fall apart. When you take on too many big things, there’s no time left for rest.

And the thing is, these activities are the ones that also contribute the most to memory keeping. After all, you need photos to scrapbook!

What’s your “one big thing” for the rest of the year? Leave a comment and share what scrapbook activity you will focus on between now and 2015.

P.S. If you would like help focusing on your one big thing, you’ll want to stick around. At the end of this month I’m opening registration for a 100% free community activity, the Holiday Focus Circle.


What Happens in Vegas | Simple Scrapbook Layout

My husband’s best friend just retired and had never been on a plane before. Early this year we put plans in motion for a couples getaway to Las Vegas. The dates were specifically planned for after Stash Bash, the perfect time for a break.

I love to pack light when I travel by air, so I did not bring my big camera. I also didn’t get an iPhone 6 yet because I would totally be the one to crack the screen on her new iPhone by goofing off in Vegas.

While my husband took a ton of random, grainy photos with his phone, I curated a small selection of iconic and personal images on Instagram. I’ve been to Vegas before, so I wanted to relax and be in the moment on this adventure.

I do have one traditional layout from this trip on my to-do list, but this simple pocket page otherwise captures the trip for me. I had a life-changing lightbulb moment at the Bellagio fountain in 2006 and this trip helped me that story full circle.

What Happens in Vegas | Simple Scrapbook Layout

I printed 12 square photos at 2.5×2.5 and used one of two styles in a set of 6×8 page protectors from Studio Calico. I love a simple photo collage and will be punching a new hole so I can insert this into my 2014 album.

The images are roughly chronological, from our overnight stay in Chicago to leaving Las Vegas. We ate, we drank, we walked around. We went to bed at a reasonable hour. It was just what I needed after a big event.


Using photo-heavy or all-photo pocket pages is one way I keep my scrapbooking simple. It helps me record the facts visually, giving me more time for sharing my feelings on traditional layouts.


How to Finish the Year with Finesse | Part 1

How is it that in September it feels like there’s so much time left in the year, but when October rolls around the panic sets in? Your mind begins swirling with everything you still want to accomplish, but the path is blocked by plans for holiday after holiday.

I know this, because I feel it too. While I’m well-organized and consistent with layouts, I’m barely treading water on photo management and Project Life. I’m also already thinking about all the things still to come, which is distracting.

It may feel daunting but you can get a lot done before the end of the year. A combination of mindfulness and planning will help you finish the year with finesse… or as they say on Peppa Pig, with grace and beauty.

How to Finish the Year with Finesse

In this post we’ll tackle how to approach the last three months of the year, with a focus on your mindset. How you think about finishing is half the battle. Then next week I’ll return with Part 2 and we’ll take the next steps with planning.

Note: You can look at this exercise with more than just scrapbooking in mind. It’s your call.

Step 1. Celebrate your victories. Your mind is unsettled, in part, because you’re focusing only on what’s undone. When you take time to identify, record, and celebrate your achievements (big and small), you’ll feel your mind open and your heart soften.

I like to keep a running list throughout the year of milestones met and projects completed, but don’t sweat it if you’ve not done that. Write it down on paper, in an Instagram caption, on Facebook – anywhere – to set the tone for the next three months.

In other words, remember that you rock!

Step 2. Take a snapshot inventory. The balance of that uneasy feeling stems from having the big picture out of focus. You can’t begin to feel in control of your time without a clear view on what you want to achieve. A “brain dump” is the first step.

Our free Quick Start guide includes a simple exercise to help you list and prioritize the projects and activities you’re working on. It provides helpful clarity and a foundation for getting things done.

Don’t stress about being exhaustive, simply start with what’s in your head and give yourself permission to add to your list as you remember other items.

Step 3. Clear your plate. Not being realistic about your time, motivation, and energy to make progress is the fastest way to burn out and frustration. In all likelihood you can’t get everything done before the end of the year.

And that’s OK.

When you eliminate any ideas or obligations that can wait until 2015, you can start fresh right now. Next week I’ll share some ideas for re-building your plate with what matters most, but for now I have one more step that will keep your mind at ease.

Step 4. Focus on next actions. Many of us are household managers, so it’s normal and natural to always be thinking ahead. Unfortunately, you can get in your way by mentally existing in that future time instead of the right now.

The trick is being able to return your mind to the present day. Yes there will be lots to do later, but what do you most need to do today?

When I get stuck in a loop of brainstorming and pre-planning (often with a touch of anxiety), I force myself to pause and think about what’s important right now. Focus on the concrete actions you can take right now to make progress. Often those tasks have nothing to do with what you’ve been thinking about!

Do you get in your own way at the end of the year? Leave a comment and share your experience with getting things done during the last three months of the year.