Today I want to share a close up look at a memory keeping project I worked on during the month of December. I realize it’s been awhile and the holiday season seems like a distant memory, but I really wanted to share a look at my album with you. I hope it’s one of those “better late than never” situations! I am focusing on a few of my favorite spreads in this post. I flip through the entire album in the video below if you’d like to see more.
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I learned about the December Daily project through Ali Edwards who runs my favorite memory keeping blog and is my go-to source for online classes. She is my memory keeping guru! I highly recommend checking out her site if you like memory keeping. She provides a wealth of information and inspiration for free on her blog. Her classes and products for purchase are some of my favorites, as well!
Just a quick note about supplies before I jump in – I purchased the 6″x8″ album, page protectors, and many of the embellishments shown from Ali Edwards’ online shop prior to the holiday season when she was offering her December Daily range. Most of the other embellishments I used were old Martha Stewarts Crafts finds I’ve had in my stash for years. I can’t link most of these products because they are no longer available.
I wanted to play with a lot of the techniques I learned in the accompanying online class I took for this project. One in particular is using transparencies as floating layers. I used a clear piece of acetate I cut from a presentation folder to make my cover page so I could layer the acrylic “december” word and chipboard year over our family portrait without having to glue them directly on top of it. Finding a medium to secure these was trickier than I anticipated. Super glue finally did the trick but it wasn’t as seamless as I would have hoped. Also, the acetate cracked after about a month and I patched it back together with clear tape. Lessons learned for next year!
I liked Ali’s prompt to include a “Reason Why” snippet in the beginning of the album. I think looking back at this will help me remember my mindset and what my daily life was like at the time, which is an important part of the memory keeping process for me. Plus, it helped me understand my reasons and motivations for undertaking the project which was a huge time commitment for me during a very busy time of year. Having a clear sense of the why made it much easier for me to jump into the project wholeheartedly.
I used layering again, this time with special vellum paper I purchased from Scrapbook.com. I wanted the beginning of the album to have a dreamy effect and had a hunch that gold stars would end up being an unintentional theme element in my project.
I played around with layering text and word art using Photoshop throughout the album. Another theme that pops up several times is “all is calm, all is bright” from one of my favorite Christmas songs. Neither my use of gold stars nor the reoccurrence of this verse were intentional themes I had in mind before starting the album. Some people like to approach the project with clear ideas and even foundation pages in place. I think this is a great method especially if you tend to get stuck without boundaries and/or guidelines since it is such a time consuming project. I decided to give myself the freedom to just go with the flow and create whatever felt natural. I worked on my album every night after both Don and Charlotte were asleep so as to not interfere with our days and time together. I slept a lot less during that month but so relished that time late at night when the house was quite and I was reflecting on the magic of the season.
I dedicated a full spread (two sides) to each day for the most part with a few variations depending on the stories I was sharing. Ali suggests picking just one story per day and focusing on that, which I found helpful, especially as someone who can get stuck in my tendencies to want to share everything. This helped me focus my project and make it much more manageable for me.
I knew I wanted to include snaps of the decor around the house and a bit about the decorating process since it is such a big part of preparing for the holiday season in my home. Ali also encourages you to use stories from other times. For example, most of the photos and stories I included in the two-day spread above were from late November. It was so liberating to give myself permission to not be too rigid about the actual dates.
In that same vein, I gave myself permission to deviate from my theme wherever it felt right. As I mentioned before, I didn’t go into the project with a set theme in mind, but it became quickly apparent that warm tones with golds, maroons, and forest greens dominated the palette. Letting myself play with cool tones in this spread dedicated to the first snow of the season provided encouragement to stay flexible and go with the flow. Plus, it turned out to be one of my favorites in the album!
Layering in mini albums was another technique I was excited to try. I used a photo booklet from Simple Stories (sadly discontinued!) to capture the story of Charlotte eating her first *real* cookie baked by yours truly. I had snapped a quick succession of photos on my phone that I printed out to use flip-book style. This added a quite a bit of bulk to the album but was well worth it and is another one of my favorite elements.
I’m including the spread above because it features one of my favorite photos from the month. We had another snow day and enjoyed a cozy evening at home cuddled up together by the fire (Charlotte’s first!). This is a highly edited picture. I used an extension you can purchase for Photoshop called RadLab to play with the tones of the photo then layered text on top. I took (most) all of the photos I used in this album with my iPhone 7 Plus. It’s actually a pretty decent camera and I knew especially as a mom of a little one that lugging around a dSLR was not realistic for me during this season of my life. I always have my phone on me so that worked out great! When I wanted a fancier effect I just took the time playing around with effects in Photoshop.
I decided to take more time with some stories than others, especially for stand-out stories such as Charlotte’s first visit with Santa. I layered the heck out of this spread! I used the envelope from Santa’s Workshop to house our classic “crying on Santa’s lap” photo along with a letter to Santa written from (my version of) Charlotte’s perspective. It includes the story of the day and how we had lunch with both of Charlotte’s grandmas before meeting Santa. It was a fun way for me to incorporate the story playfully within the spread in an interactive way.
Another fun way to layer for me was using the 12-pocket page protectors. At first I was uncertain how I could possibly make 2″x2″ pockets work for me as they seemed so tiny, but it actually ended up being a great way to include a lot of glimpses of my stories to paint a bigger picture. I took my Mom to see Joffrey Ballet’s new version of the Nutcracker. We made a girls day out of it complete with a seafood feast for brunch and window shopping downtown before the matinee performance. I cut up the program to fit across both sides of the spreads and even layered our tickets on top of the page protector using washi to add an interactive element. I loved Ali’s suggestion of including others voices in your album and printed out a text exchange between me and my mom after the performance. I hope to include more stories in the words of my loved ones in my next December Daily album.
Another way I wanted to play with craft was again inspired by Ali who always includes her love for Starbucks in her December Daily albums. I definitely copied her idea to include actual Starbucks ephemera in my album, choosing to punch holes in a treat bag and turn it into an envelope. I took inspiration from Kathy at The Daily Marker, an amazing blog about card making and coloring, to incorporate an actual Starbucks holiday cup into my spread. I cleaned and dried it then cut it down and left it under a few heavy books for a few days to flatten out. I printed out a snapshot of my favorite holiday treats at the time and adhered it to the back. It’s definitely more of surface type of story but the little things that bring me joy are fun to remember ten, twenty, thirty plus years down the road.
I want to interject here for a moment to discuss something important that I struggled with before embarking on this project. I knew as soon as Ali announced it on her blog last fall that I wanted to participate. Originally I thought it was something I should do for my daughter. After taking Ali’s class and listening to her experience, I realized that I should change my perspective on who I was making the album for. The project was truly for me and from my perspective. Of course it is something that will always be available to Charlotte if she is interested in it as she grows older. But making it for her was not the purpose. I had to give myself permission to make it for me. That was so freeing for me and allowed me to really enjoy and savor the process. Plus, I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on Charlotte to be interested in something she may or may not care about. It means a lot to me and helped form my experience of the holidays in a more joyfully present and magically meaningful way. Mission accomplished!
Remember when I said I used my phone for most all of the photos in the album? I decided to snap a shot of Charlotte opening her first advent calendar (a very cute Little People one that she absolutely loved) every day using my Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 Instant Film Camera. I thought it would be a fun way to incorporate a different kind of photo effect into my album. I cut each one down to 2″x”‘ to fit all 24 shots perfectly in a 12-pocket page protector and popped on some glitter number stickers to mark the days. I love, love, love the way this turned out. You can see how she grows and changes over the course of the month.
I dedicated a couple of spreads to both Christmas Eve and Christmas day since I had so many pictures and memories I wanted to include. I broke the one-story-a-day rule for these last two days, partly because there were too many good things to some leave out and partly because I knew this was going to be the end of my project. Another Ali suggestion was to include a letter to your child (or another loved one, yourself, etc). I found a sweet card that looks a lot like the Baby’s First Christmas ornament we bought for Charlotte and wrote a personal note to her inside. This was a nice way for me to wrap up my album since experiencing Charlotte’s first Christmas with her was the absolute highlight of my holiday season.
As you can see, my album focused mainly on the craft and the photos and not so much on journaling. That’s why I decided to stop at 25 days instead of doing the full 31 as I had originally intended. I not only ran out of room, but also out of steam. I think next time (and I do hope to do this project again) I want to include more of my written stories into my album. This first one was all about playing with the craft for me. I was feeling very inspired from the online class and wanted to try new things. The end result is a bit busier than I go for in my usual memory keeping, but I really like how it turned out and absolutely loved the process.
I do a complete album flip-through in this video if you’d like to see it in its entirety:
I hope you enjoyed this detailed look at my 2016 December Daily album and hearing about my experience with the process. I’d love to know if you enjoy memory keeping and what your favorite project has been if you care to share.
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