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  • shannanmanton

Mid-Year Review & Taking Stock

At the end of last year, I took a hard look at my scrapbooking and where I wanted to go with this hobby (HERE) and my two main take-aways were:

1. I'm am happiest when scrapping digitally. I go back to paper and glue sometimes for fun but always end up frustrated, thinking "I could do this quicker and better in Photoshop".

2. I am done with printing loose pages at home and filling album after album. They take up a lot of space (even 6x8), are cumbersome to flip through and every time I settle on an album design or colour, it is discontinued or hard to find again. I loved the Blurb photobooks and trade books I had printed over the years and felt like that was the way forward for me.


For 2019, I have been making digital pages for a number of different books that will be printed at completion. Here's the current list - I've also linked to the blog posts for each project if you want to learn more:

1. Project Life 2019 - 10x8 Photobook

2. My Year In Food - 10x8 Photobook

3. My Book 2019 (I need a better name for this one, but it's all of my regular scrapbook layouts and other bits and pieces made as 5x8 pages) - 5x8 Trade Book

4. 100 Days of Lovely - 6x6 Chatbook

4. Week In The Life 2019 - 5x8 Trade Book (Already Printed)


I have missed printing at home and building up my binders as I go. It can feel very ethereal having all of these pages living on my hard drive until the project is done or ready to print. Sharing my digital pages on Instagram as I make them has helped. I am feeling good about the decision though and know I will be happy to hold all of these books when the time comes.


All of my current projects (except for my regular layouts) use a basic blue-print or template which makes it a lot easier to keep up with. These all have an end as well - some are for a year, some are #100. I can pick one of these projects and get working even if I'm not necessarily feeling super creative. Having multiple projects like this going at once means I have a lot of choice about what I can work on and I never sit at my desk waiting for inspiration.

For my 100 Songs Project, I just type in a few lines on the existing template (by Cathy Zielske) add a photo and that's another one or two for the book. When I'm working on My Year In Food, I just add in any recent food photos, change the date and add a few notes.

I always have my regular pages for when I'm feeling creative and just want to do something different.


This year I've changed from making 6x8 pages to 5x8, just because that's one of the Trade Book sizes at Blurb. I don't follow any pattern and get to use all of my digital products (or not) and tell the stories that speak to me right now. Things I'm thinking about, things that we are doing, things I'm worried about or things I'm loving. I always make a few pages for this book each month with my Ali Edwards' Story Kits and I make at least two layouts a month as part of the Kellie Stamps digital team.

I've averaged out about 20-30 5x8 pages per month so far, some are single and some are double spreads. It sounds like a lot, but while some are more arty and use a lot of product, some are very simple with only a photo or a big title and a line or two of text and that's it.

I realised a few months ago that making 20+ pages a month meant I would have a HUGE book at the end of the year, so I've decided to split it into two for 2019. That means that this weekend I get to put the finishing touches on January-June 2019 and get it sent off for printing - I'm excited to get something to hold in my hands.


I work in the city part-time so Thursday-Sunday is my crafty time (in between real life). Depending on what we have planned, I can usually count on at least two or three days where I can spend a few hours at my desk/happy place. Four days is even better :)

I've been running a week or two behind on Project Life lately so on Thursday's I always try to work on that. It doesn't take me too long to put a week's spread together - some photos, a few filler cards, a couple of little stories, some TV or movie posters in between. I've got a good rhythm going.

I look at Project Life and My Year In Food as my scrapbooking 'chores'. Not necessarily in a bad way, but they are the projects that need some work every week to keep them manageable and on track. I try not to let a week go by where nothing happens with these. I have definitely been that person who had to catch up on six months of Project Life before so I'm trying to avoid that this year.

I'm also giving consistent attention to my two #100day projects, but they are so simple and fun and I don't have a deadline for them - they are done when I hit 100 pages so if that's next month, great, if it's next year, no problem (doing these consistently for 100 days as the project intended is just not possible for me). These are not timely or chronological projects, just two books I will treasure. If I have a free half hour on a Saturday, I can easily sit down with coffee, some music and make one or two of my little 6x6 music pages. I don't need to look through photos or agonise over design or embellishments, I can just get it done and tick another one off.

I am a lot more free with my regular layouts. I get a consistent amount of pages done each month, but it's not through any kind of plan or system, it just happens that way. I am dividing my book by month and I'm not bothered if I have a month with a lot of pages then a month with less. I include stories/events from that month as well as old stories and just general observations that are not chronological at all, so it's really just a collection of what I made that month rather than documenting our month. I think I only broke my book up by month so I could have some kind of order when saving my layouts and getting them into Blurb.

I don't have certain recurring topics or themes that I want to cover every month, it's all quite random. I don't worry if one kid has more pages about them than the other (one is a tween and she ruins every photo I try and take of her anyway). I don't care if my left side layout doesn't match my right side. I don't care if I have five pages about avocado toast by the end of the book. I don't care if one whole page is just a cool journaling card from a kit. When the end of the month comes, I'm done and move on to the next one.

My 5x8 pages sometimes come together very quickly, other times I might have an idea that just does not work no matter how much time I spend on it. These are my creative pages and I really love the design aspect as well as the journaling the most. Sometimes I make three or four at one sitting, other times I'm just happy to work on my other stuff.


I've recently been looking over at my collection of old 12x12 and 8.5x11 albums and thinking about converting the digital pages to books too. I can see how the pages in my old scrapbooks are sagging as they sit on the shelf.

I started scrapbooking in 2008 and went mostly digital in 2010, so more than half of my pages are digital, just printed out through Persnickety Prints and placed in page protectors. The rest are my older paper layouts.

I've started popping some of my old digital layouts into 12x12 and 8.5x11 Blurb books, starting with one each for the kids. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to re-do the paper layouts in digital format (it's always an option, even scanned or photographed) but it would definitely cut down the number of American Crafts albums sitting on my shelves.

Reducing my album collection would make me happy and I think the family will be more inclined to look through the books. Plus it will give me more space in my Kallax for more vinyl records :)


I'm happy with where I'm at so far this year. I really love the new projects I've started that focus on food and music - projects that weren't even on the radar at the beginning of the year. I like how I was able to participate in Week In the Life in a simplified way. I like that I've identified how I want to scrapbook and what is important to me. I like that I'm totally fine with doing it my way even if it's not quite like what everyone else is doing. I like that there are so many options for photobooks in terms of size, shape and type of book. I like that moving to photobooks hasn't really changed anything for me, I just need to create my pages in a size that is available. I like that I have a sustainable way forward where I can make my pages and not have to worry about trends and products being in stock or discontinued.

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