Friday, March 6, 2015

Anatomy of an Album - MIR

When I started scrapbooking with that darling six month old baby that was providing more photo fodder than I could possibly manage, I naturally and logically scrapped chronologically. It was just the deductive method for someone that is analytical, and usually fairly logical, like me. And I scrapped that way for probably a dozen years. From 1994, up to 2006.

In 2006, watershed changes unfolded. I started working part-time at a scrapbook store in Frisco, Recollections, and my world opened up. I stopped using Creative Memories products exclusively. And I found and read "The Big Picture" by Stacy Julian, which was released on November 30, 2005. It was sold at the store I worked at, and at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in June 2006, it was promoted heavily. And if I really reach into my memory, I can also recall that in the summer of 2006 I traveled to Houston to attend Creating Keepsakes University, taking classes there from "celebrity teachers", including Stacy Julian herself.

I remember being enthralled with Stacy's fresh approach to story telling and letting the story drive the layout, and her encouragement to break free from the literal grid of the calendar. It was a life changing class for me. At that moment, I would have thought that Stacy could part water. I recall her class having us ride the emotional roller coaster, as she shared some of her albums, her approach, and her advice for making our albums more meaningful.
Well, never to do anything less than whole hog, I dove into this new approach, and began metamorphosing the way I had scrapbooked - from the linear calendar grid of always going in date order, letting events drive my layouts, and always being behind, to the freedom to scrap any photos from any moment that I wanted, to tell that story, and to put them into a - gasp - 3-ring binder album that would allow me to easily move around my layouts. I could even tell stories that weren't tied to an event, but to a thought or a perspective! Photo freedom!

And that would be the title of her follow-up book, released on February 26, 2008, "Finding Photo Freedom". After reading that book, I was determined to take her class, Library of Memories, that was offered on her class website, Big Picture Scrapbooks, or BPS as they came known to be. I worked slowly to "build my library", one story at a time. And after working in that style for eight years, I am proud to say that I do indeed have a library. And I love the story-based approach to scrapbooking.

Now, you have to understand there is a whole underbelly to the scrapbooking world, and that is the online community. There are websites and galleries and message boards, and lots of scrapbookers avail themselves of these 24/7 internet info domains, if you will. I hung out at Two Peas for a long time. And found many wonderful friends there, that I am in daily contact with to this day, thankfully through another message board.

One such internet scrapping buddy goes by the board name of Cherrypicker. Love her to pieces. She's a true gem, and everyone that knows her is blessed by her, and in awe of how she gets everything done that she gets done. Mad scrapping talent. She's like a said - a gem. Now, in 2010, Cherrypicker shared with some of us on the board her idea for Month in Review (MIR) album. It got my curiosity up, and she even emailed me in 2010 some sample photos of three or four years of her own MIR albums. I saved that email - have it still - and began mulling over her idea. 

I liked her idea, I did, I did. I was loath to return to anything that wreaked of chronology, but I was also intrigued by the idea of summarizing a span of time. Cherrypicker's MIR idea was to make a double page layout of each month, and have an album that had 24 pages in it when done, 26 counting title page and end page, and maybe adding pages at the back for memorabilia, or adding a pocket. She does do memorabilia pages. I just wasn't sure I would.

In 2010, I completed Ali Edwards' Week in the Life (WITL) project, and enjoyed the documenting the whole sections of our daily life in that point in time, but man, documenting a whole week with four moving family parts was hard! I'll have to share this album with y'all at some point. I loved it, but wasn't too keen to sign up to do it again. 

Well, up against that WITL idea, and Cherrypicker's MIR idea, out came bursting onto the scene Project Life (PL) by Becky Higgins. I bought Becky's first kit, which she called Project 365 actually. I started it. And did about 5 days. Printing pictures daily wasn't feasible, and it just wasn't going to work for me! Now, in 2012 I tried the new and improved PL again, and bought a home printer, an Epson Picturemate Charm. That printer was another life changing moment. Any photo that you see of mine dated after December 2011 is going to be one I have printed at home on my Charm.

Where am I going with all of this?! The Charm gave me true photo freedom with instant print accessibility, and enabled me to do PL for one year, 2012. 2012 was the last full calendar year that both boys were going to be home, and that was my impetus to push through PL for 2012. So, at that point in time, I'd done WITL for one year - 2010 - and I did PL for all of 2012, and I liked both of them well enough in their own right, but wasn't committed to attempting either again. Well, Cherrypicker's idea came {finally} to full fruition, because in 2013, she started sharing her 2013 MIR album with some of us gals online, and a bunch of us committed to trying it for 2014. 

I was slow going out of the start. Something about having a boy start college in 2013 had me behind, I guess. ;-) We picked our format and our papers and prepped them all in late 2013, readying them for easy completion in 2014. The story telling side of me loves non-chrono scrapping, but the orderly organized side of me loves a little recap of the year. Voila! Month in Review! Everything I had been ginning through from 2006 to 2014 all came together!

I love, love, love my first Month in Review album, 2014. It isn't lost on me that my summary style scrapbook came to fruition in the year my nest emptied, in the year I turned 50. I love serendipitous moments, and take them any chance I can.  I wanted to share with you my journey to this album, and encourage you to try it if you haven't. It's very easy. You just need 8-10 photos from each month, and you can do your page in less than a day. 

So, spend a dozen days...and end up with a priceless album of your year! It's so incredibly doable. I am so thankful Cherrypicker kept at her idea, and kept encouraging so many of us. And yes, I've already started 2015. January is done, and February is on the table. 

I think, no matter how you scrap, or how often, or what you use, or how you get the story out, the story is worth the struggle. Get your stories down. If for no other reason, get your stories down for you. And then sit back and enjoy all the memories that got you to today, and give you hope for all the tomorrows.

Month in Review ~ 2014

Sketch Credit: Scrapbook Generation
Paper: Simple Stories
Titling: Simple Stories 


  1. I like how yours turned out! Maybe one day I will go back to mine...

  2. I love your finished album!!! Your pages are really concise and are a wonderful example of just the right amount of embellishment to support the story told!! I wish I could have followed through.....maybe next year!

  3. Your album is so well done. I love your famous border, as well as all the white space and white bordered photos. Lovely!

  4. Wow! You didn't tell me how good this was going to be!!

  5. It looks great, Penny! So happy to get to see the whole year. Thanks for sharing!

  6. So beautiful Penny, I love how your 2014 MIR album turned out!!

  7. I am always in awe every time I've ever seen a photo of all of your completed albums lined up in your Expedit unit. You are quite the prolific scrapbooker! I love the idea of MIR and the closest I've ever come to doing a MIR page would be for Cherrypicker's "30 Days of Thankfulness" challenge last year, which I loved doing and plan to do again this year. You are right, she is certainly a gem. She always kept me inspired and I miss her and the other Peeps over at Scrap 'n Yap. I like the way you did MIR - with one sketch and one set of papers. That makes it seem doable and easier to keep up with I would think.