Monday, July 9, 2012

How I make monthly documenting work for me

(Wow, this has become quite a mammoth post - hope you find it useful if you are keen on scrapbooking/documenting your life on a regular basis! And if you have any other tips or advice to share or any questions feel free to leave a comment on this post!)

I've been documenting our life in scrapbook albums on a monthly basis throughout 2011 and now into 2012.
I admit to being slightly jealous of the Project Life layouts that are regularly shared online and people that manage to document their lives in such detail on a weekly basis but at the moment I just don't have the time to do this.

The original idea for "Document:Year" came from Shimelle in 2010 (here's a link to the information about it on UK Scrappers). I was suffering morning sickness, extreme tiredness and lack of creativity at the time so didn't join in back then but once baby was past the newborn stage and we got to the start of a new year (2011) I decided to give it a go.
I love this way of getting our lives down on paper ready to look back on in the future. I often sit down and flick through last years album or even the pages I have made so far for this year. Mr Mischief is taking an interest in pointing at the pictures within the albums too. We talk about the pictures which is always fun. It's also great for the grandparents and other family and friends to flick through when they visit to see what we've been up to!
I recently found myself wanting to share my process in one of the monthly page sharing posts but decided to write a specific post about what works for me. I hope you might find something useful within what I've written :-)


The way I manage to keep going with this project even when I am running late is by keeping a notes file on my phone during the month. I already have a "Document July" notes file set up this month and every few days/each week add notes of what we've been doing, what Mr Mischief is enjoying, doing and saying etc. 
At the end of the month I make any additional notes of what's been happening over the course of the month and keep the file saved on my phone. (I also have the option to email it to myself if I want).
The other way of keeping track is through the photos I've taken. I'm pretty good at taking at least a couple of photos each day so this is always a good record of what's happened when. Also jotting down appointments and things we are doing in my diary/on the calendar helps too.
I also try and keep any memorabilia as the month goes by. It used to get put in a clear plastic bag with the month marked on it but I seem to be less organised currently so ends up as a pile on my craft desk. This could be things like movie tickets or tickets for a trip somewhere, cards, notes that come with parcels, interesting stamps from mail we receive and other interesting stuff!

And here's an example of my rather muddled Document: June notes - it probably doesn't make much sense to anyone but me but really serves as a memory-jogger:

Document June notes:
Mr Mischief says cake, loves cake
Loves playing with popup toaster and saying toast. Pretends to eat and butter toast
Loves to help bake, puts sprinkled on, helps mix things together
Loves his new Thomas Wellies. Can get them on himself and wants to go "out"
Loves going in the garden swing and says "weee" when you push him
Queens birthday long weekend and jubilee. House decorated, watched flotilla and concert.
Busy making. A baby hat for Kelly (who paid $20!) and for the handmade heart swap
Citizenship ceremony 21st and party 24th.
G bday
50 shades
Mr Mischief eating dinner in high chair up table. Trying lots of foods.

Once the month is passed I make sure all the photos from my phone and camera are saved in my Photo folder for that month. 
(NOTE: I usually update my photo files at least once a week and often more if I am taking lots of photos. And I don't delete them from my SD card or phone until we have also run a back-up onto our external hard drive. So I always try to make sure I have our photos in 2 places at once). 
I then work my way through the photos and select the ones I want to use for the month. Once I have them all in their own folder I can see how many I have and work out what I want to use where within the 4 pages. If I've picked multiple photos from one event that will likely become my feature page. I usually pick heaps of Mr Mischief so some of these become the pictures for his very own page with a focus on what he's been up to that month.

I tend to draw out a plan like below to work out what's going to fit where...

It might be a bit tricky to see it but I basically draw diagrams of the space I have available (so 2 lots of 9 pocket pages and 2 12x12 pages) then label what will fit where. This doesn't always end up being the final version as once I have the photos printed I sometimes change my mind but it does help me work out if I have enough photos/topics to fill all the space and also to try and get some balance.

If photos have enough blank space for journalling I like to print them as 4x4 if they are instagram (most photo printing booths have a "Do not crop" button so the 4x4 prints on a 6x4 with white space each side) or 6x4 and trim them down to fit in the pockets.
If the photos are very busy I use PhotoSheet to make a mosaic of smaller images to print and trim down. I then back these photos onto paper for my journalling.

I decided in January this year to feature my photo-a-day mosaics which take up 2 of the 18 4x4 pockets I have available each month. Some of the tiny images end up being repeated larger when that photo gets it's own pocket but I still like to use the mosaics as a repeating feature each month as it helps summarise what happened during the course of the month.

  • This year I have been using a couple of products that help differentiate between the months in my album. Each month I use one of the 4x6 Monthly journal sections from Simple Stories Life Documented papers (each one has the month's name on it with a space for journalling). I also purchased a set of Ormolu flair buttons and use each monthly one somewhere on my pages - usually on the mosaic somewhere (and I've recently misplaced the October button so REALLY hoping it shows up somewhere before October!). Next year I might try and make my own monthly journal cards and titles but we'll see :-)
  • There have been several times when I have printed photos and then decided not to use them. I remember printing a photo of my Stickygram magnets when they arrived but then I found the packaging that came with them and decided to use that instead. In the end I cut up the tiny images on the photo and used them elsewhere for other projects. I suppose my advice here is don't be afraid to print photos and not use them all in your monthly pages.
  • At this time I am not doing much (if any) additional scrapbooking so I am not finding double ups between my monthly pages and what I want to scrap for Mr Mischief's album. Unless I am suddenly handed more hours in the day I probably won't have time to do scrapbooking independently of my document 2012 album so it suits me to capture everything in this album. Even if I was scrapbooking separate pages I think it would still be worth featuring the events/photos in this album too as they are independent albums and may end up in different places much further down the track!
  • These albums have been a great place to keep some memorabilia as well. For our UK trip most of the tickets, receipts etc went into my travel journal as we were going but in normal day to day life I don't have many places to store memorabilia other than in boxes so I like to feature some on my monthly layouts. For example - in May I used my Mothers Day card and the card that came with my bouquet of flowers directly on the page. It's great to have these kept somewhere safe that I can look back on in the future!
  • And that's all I can think of right now but will add anything else I think of later!
You can see all of my Document 2011 album here and all the pages so far for my Document 2012 album here.

I'm certainly not an expert on scrapbooking or documenting life but hopefully some of these tips might help other people keen to give it a go. And why not go visit Ali Edwards, Becky Higgins Project Life and Elise Blaha who are very inspiring and manage to document life much more frequently than I do!


  1. Where do you buy your Project Life supplies from Katie? Do you buy online or from a local supplier, I would love to do something like this for 2013.

  2. Hi jollym!

    This year I had ordered the 9 x 4x4 pockers in the UK and got my Mum to send them to me.
    But I've started purchasing Project Life stuff for next year from Craft House - they are in Wellington where I am living now but they do online orders too. You can find all the stuff here:

    They are really nice and the stuff is pretty reasonably priced.
    I have the Seafoam core kit and binder on pre-order (fingers crossed it arrives before January 1st!) and can't wait to get started!

    Let me know if you do decide to have a go - it would be good to have some Project Life buddies in NZ so we can all keep each other motivated and inspired :-)



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