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Day in the Life | Fall

As I sit down to begin documenting my day I realize that my Day in the Life | Spring also recorded a day in which my husband was out of town. I didn’t choose this day with that in mind, but I must subconsciously feel more spaciousness for this level of detail when he’s away. Interesting.

5:45am – Alarm on Steve’s phone goes off. We’re sleeping feet to feet on our sectional couch because my parents are visiting from Houston. The next time they visit we’ll be in our new house – with a guest room.

6:09am – Steve wakes me up and I throw on yesterday’s clothes to take him to the airport. I twist my frizzy bed head hair up the back and fasten with a clip, no mirror required.

6:10am – Wondering if I really shouldn’t have stayed up late looking at curtains on the web.

6:11am – I remember that I’m documenting this day and I take a photo of my feet in our dimly-lit kitchen, which is better than the pitch black of the rest of the house.

Day in the Life | Fall

6:19am – As we drive through our neighborhood I comment on how dark and cold it is, making it so much harder to bounce out of bed at this hour. I start thinking about the coffee I’m going to get on my way home.

6:26am – We stop by the ATM at our credit union and take a country road out to the airport. Our new house is just off this road and will be a very convenient distance to the airport.

6:35am – I kiss Steve goodbye for now and don’t even think about parking because I know I never looked in the mirror. He walks into the terminal and I realize I didn’t take his picture.

6:36am – I pull into a spot just past the terminal and take a photo of his plane waiting at the gate, which is better than nothing. We have two gates, each with a split jet bridge.

Day in the Life | Fall

6:51am – Pulling into Dunkin Donuts I decide to order a medium Dunkacinno because I’m that tired. The line is long and as I wait I turn the radio from Steve’s preferred station (country) to mine (lite rock).

Day in the Life | Fall

7:17am – Wrap a two day old Panera bagel in a wet paper towel before microwaving. Pop it in the toaster, not realizing that someone turned it way up.

7:19am – Spread the last of the cream cheese on my stale and now very dark bagel.

7:20am – Realize that anytime I’ve ever said I was not a stress eater I was totally lying. Take a sip of my Dunkacinno.

Day in the Life | Fall

7:21am – Open up my laptop, sigh at the ever-growing crack in my screen, and open up Pinterest. Totally avoid email.

7:47am – Start looking up the differences between ultralight PC laptops and a new MacBook Air. I am a loyal Apple consumer, but surprise expenses always have me cringing at the price.

7:49am – Discover that a comparable ultrabook is going to be as much or more than a new Air. #bummer

7:58am – Shocked that it’s nearly 8am already. Call Emily’s daycare to let them know she will be having breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa before they leave.

8:07am – Steve texts me that he has landed in Chicago. Sends me a photo he took flying over our new neighborhood.

Day in the Life | Fall

8:21am – I decide to try using the iPad for the rest of this post to see how tolerable it is.

8:23am – Immediately see that having a keyboard case would be extremely beneficial, though it’s really not that bad. I’m currently touch typing in portrait view with the iPad flat on the table.

8:45am – Emily wakes up and is excited that she kept her sheets dry. We are still using pull ups at bedtime because those are easier to change than her sheets.

Day in the Life | Fall

9:12am – I give Emily a cup of Greek yogurt while I cook some scrambled eggs for her and my dad.

Day in the Life | Fall

9:23am – Emily is full after me alternating between bites of yogurt and egg, with her requesting a “zoom zoom” noise on each. (I rarely feed her like this.)

9:30am – We got home late last night after going to a museum and Emily didn’t get a bath. Post-breakfast it’s clear that one is needed. Afterwards I blow dry her hair.

Day in the Life | Fall

9:45am – I strip the sheets from the bed and couch. Holding as much as I can I trek through the garage and down the stairs to the basement to start laundry.

Day in the Life | Fall

10:20am – I finally take a shower while my dad blow dried his hair over the kitchen sink. I can’t wait to have more than one bathroom!

Day in the Life | Fall

10:45am – Every time my parents visit I take a photo of them with Emily in front of the big maple tree in our yard. This will be the very last photo in front of that tree.

Day in the Life | Fall

11:15am – I drop Emily off at school just in time for lunch. They are having quesadillas with black beans and fruit.

Day in the Life | Fall

11:40am – We regroup and order some takeout for lunch, embarking on an adventure that also includes a trip to Walgreens and Goodwill on the way. Discover that one of my prescriptions is now so expensive.

Day in the Life | Fall

12:45pm – Mom and I enjoy sushi while Dad has a burger, pretty much a tradition to conclude their visit.

1:15pm – I sit down and try to remember what happened over the last 3 hours. Getting ready for anything with kids is always a whirlwind.

1:30pm – Mom and Dad head off to the airport and I take a few clothes to a local consignment shop. I check out Tuesday Morning for the first time while I’m out.

Day in the Life | Fall

2:00pm – Instead of going home to finally get to work I check out two more stores to see if they have just the right curtains for the living room. (They didn’t.)

3:15pm – I sit down at my desk and start processing the mountain of email that accumulated since Thursday.

Day in the Life | Fall

4:15pm – By now I’m distracted by this hunt for curtains and have three different shopping websites open plus Pinterest.

4:30pm – I receive a surprise phone call from Steve. He’s been taking care of consolidating our insurance policies from his hotel room. Thankfully this is his last trip for the rest of the year!

5:17pm – I rush out the door to retrieve Emily from daycare, leaving an email unfinished. I’m going to have to do some work tonight to catch up.

Day in the Life | Fall

5:25pm – She is cuddly, talkative, and easy going today. We have a squeeze hug upon getting in the car.

Day in the Life | Fall

5:35pm – Emily and I share an after school snack of cheese and crackers.

5:45pm – I pick up the house a little and prepare my lunch for tomorrow. We’re having leftovers tonight so I put off emptying the dishwasher.

6:10pm – I sit down to check in on this documentation while Emily builds a princess castle with her Legos.

7:30pm – Emily doesn’t want her leftover spaghetti and ends up eating 1 hot dog, 1 pear, 8 grape tomatoes, and 1 wedge of cheese. (Yes, she is a very hungry caterpillar!)

8:10pm – During Emily’s second bath of the day she reads a book to herself from memory.

8:30pm – Lights out.

Day in the Life | Fall

8:55pm – Head down to basement to retrieve laundry from dryer and discover that I never turned it on.

9:00pm – She’s still tossing and turning.

9:17pm – Buy the VSCOcam preset bundle to try editing photos for this post in a new way.

9:30pm – Give up on VSCOcam in frustration. Feel doubly frustrated that Emily still isn’t asleep.

9:45pm – Watch the most recent episode of How to Get Away with Murder on OnDemand.

10:45pm – Try again with VSCOcam while watching Jimmy Fallon. Wishing I had used my big camera today, but rolling with it. B3 from the Black & White Classic series presets for the win.

12:05am – Sit down at computer to upload photos.

Day in the Life is a life documentation project created by Ali Edwards. This year I’m keeping life simple by capturing one day in my life each season. See Winter, Spring, and Summer.


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.