The DigiScrap Parade is live!

It’s time for the quarterly DigiScrap Parade again! The theme for June 2021 is “Keepsakes”, and 12 very talented designers have once again done an amazing job! Go check them out and give them lots of love.

Just one of the many beautiful kits available for download.

In case you don’t know, the DSP is a collaborative effort by dozens of designers, where they all create free digital scrapbooking kits around a single theme, available only for that month.

Christmas layouts with Pixels To Pages kits (guest designer post)

I am sharing something exciting today! I was a non-official designer for the Pixels To Pages’ Journal Blocks Winter Collection that released mid-November.

Kelly from Pixels To Pages has released a number of Christmas kits in her Journal Blocks series, and needed designers for her sunshine-and-sand-themed kits. Since I live in South Africa, next to the ocean, I went like Donkey in Shrek (“Pick me! Pick me!”).

Our December weather is similar to Australia’s, therefore I used the “Christmas In The Sand – Australian version” kit. So, without further ado, let’s get to the layouts.

This is a Project Life double-page layout of our Christmas in 2019, using the Project Life app. I love the kit’s playfulness, like that funny “Baby, it’s cold warm outside” filler card. The kit is designed to give you lots of space to tell your stories, and works great with the new Editorial Layouts that are slowly being rolled out in the Project Life app. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to those yet, so I ended up reworking the designs into journal and filler cards to fit into the standard 3×4 and 4×6 pockets [more on that at the end of this post, so keep reading.]

Those beautiful journal blocks were just begging to be used, so I decided this would be a good time to catch up on my Christmas scrapping, so I documented our 2018 Christmas too. I shortened the 12″ tall “Christmas in the Sand” block to fit more photos below it, and on the “Boxing Day” journal block there was plenty of space for my story, a little photo collage, and a QR code to a cute video!

There was still one more journal block left, which was fortunate since I had one more story to tell: our 2017 Christmas story.

The Christmas of 2017 was a very hard one for my family, and I’m glad I worked my way backwards from later years where things were back to being good, because it reminded me how fortunate we were that things worked out in the end. This is the power of memory keeping, and the magic of long form journalling. I’m glad I was “forced” to revisit that Christmas and tell a story that should not be forgotten.

Have you tried long form journalling yet? How has it helped or changed the way you remember your life? Let me know in the comments.

Have a great day, and thanks for looking!

“Our little animal lover” scrapbook page

My little girl is all about the loveā€”her love for all things four-legged and fluffy šŸ˜Š.

Double-page layout called Our Little Animal Lover

I was going through my photos when I realized how many there are of her just cuddling animals. That is what Stacy Julian calls “connections” in her book “Photo Freedom“, which is a very powerful concept in memory keeping. Connections happen when you let your photos “age” and then go through them later once you have accumulated more photos in the same category.

Once I saw the connection, I knew I had to capture this precious story because it is such a huge part of who my girl is right now. And it’s the type of funny story that we will laugh over for years to come.

I based it on this PageMap sketch from the Scrapbook and Cards Today website:

PageMap sketch from the Scrapbook and Cards Today website

Scrapbooking comes much easier when I am working within an existing framework, which is the following in this order:

  1. Photos with a story
  2. Sketch
  3. Digital scrapbook kit with enough elements and embellishments.

I already had four 4″x6″ photos with a story to tell, so I looked for a sketch that would accommodate a few large photos plus lots of journalling space. I also find that I scrap much faster and successful if the kit I use have everything I need to decorate the page. Once those things were in place, it was easy enough to add a fourth photo to the 3-photo sketch, and enlarge the journalling area. That’s what makes digital scrapbooking so versatile and satisfying to me, the ability to change things on the fly. Here’s a closer look at the pages:

Left page of the double-layout spread

Left page with journalling


Right page

This page is 100% digital, made with a beautiful kit from P&Co. I made it in Affinity Designer, my go-to software for scrapbooking.

Preparing for Week In The Lifeā„¢ 2018

From May 7th to 13th, Ali Edwards is once again doing her 7-day documentary project Week In The Lifeā„¢ (WITL). This will be my first time participating, and since she’s been at it since 2005, I’m a little late to the party, but as I always say: rather late that never, right? (Okay, I don’t always say that, but I do believe no matter when you start documenting your story, you’re never too late, so there.)

The heart of WITL is one that resonates with my own feelings about Your Story:

[Week In The Life is about] valuing your own story. If you do the same thing everyday, awesome. Document that. If you are super busy, document that. Document whatever your life looks like right now and really own that story. One of the reasons I love doing this project each year is it’s often a great time to take stock in how I’m living my life right now. Your story is important even if to no one else but you. (Ali Edwards)

A week-long project like this is quite an undertaking, but I joined the WITL Facebook Group and those fellow WITLers are really active and supportive. Ali also has an amazing collection of WITL posts and resources on her site, so I spent a lot of time reading through everything, and watching every past WITL album walk-through video I could find.

This project is all about documenting a slice of life right now, and it can be as simple or detailed as you want it to be. I quickly realized that, unlike Ali and most of the other people who do WITL, I don’t do Project Life the rest of the time, so the “slice of life” I want this project to record will have to be much more comprehensive than someone who does other memory keeping projects that can fill those story gaps.

So, to prepare for this year’s WITL, I did the following:

  • I spent the last 2 days just thinking about what I want to record with this project, what it is I want to remember about this time of our life, and all the different ways I can go about recording it.
  • I took Ali’s free daily worksheet and adapted it by adding a bunch of extra questions/prompts (see below for detail), and recreating it in a Google Doc (so I can fill it out on my phone).
  • Since I’m doing a digital album that I’ll print out as an A4 photo book, I prepared a digital template where I can drop my photos in as the week progresses. I can’t do my journaling on the day like Ali, because my words need to simmer and mature a bit, but I can do that with the photos.
  • And, last but not least, a very important thing I did to prepare was to browse all the #weekinthelife posts on Instagram, and subscribe to #aeweekinthelife as well as to a few crafters who post drool worthy, inspirational pics.

Since I know you’re just dying to know what I added to the daily sheet, here’s a short rundown:

  • I added a questionnaire that each person in the household will fill out (one for the kids and one for the adults).
  • I added house-focused prompts, since we’re in the process of selling our houseā€”a house both our kids grew up in and we originally thought we’d live in for a very long timeā€”so it’s a very important part of our current memory that I want to preserve.
  • I added “doing” prompts that I will fill in as the week progresses (like “reading”, “watching”, “eating”, “listening”, “playing”, “making”…) Most of those I’ll only fill in once, but if it’s appropriate I’d do it a few times (like with “reading”, which can change on a whim with my kids).

Something else I’m adding to the album is a short summary of each person that will go at the start of the album, since this album will be all about our family.

Finally, I am consciously and meticulously going to include my husband in there. He never speaks about himself ever, so this will be one of the only ways anyone will ever get a glimpse into his psyche (to learn his favorite color, or what he loves to watch on TV, or what his favorite anything is…) and I imagine that one day my children will thank me for it. I’m curious about some of his answers myself, TBH šŸ™‚

Funerals, Memories, and Facing My Fears

My last post was all happy and Christmassy and short. Very short. When I read it I remember the emotions so clearly, because at the time we were going through a dark period and I needed happy and cheerful and fake fake fake.

You see, my mother-in-law (MIL) passed away a week before that post, after we watched her deteriorate for 6 months. The last month or two before she died had already been hard on us, with my kids watching their granny become a stranger in a hospital bed, and my husband seeing his mom become a shadow of herself. Despite that, the 3 a.m. call still caught us off guard, and everything went dark for a while.

Front page of my mother-in-law's tribute.

Front page of my mother-in-law’s tribute. It was designed to be folded in half to become an A5 booklet that wrap around the funeral letter.

I threw myself into creating a tribute worthy of my MIL, fuelled by love and obligation, and probably some guilt and regrets. I was working against the clock to have it ready for her funeral, spending too many days immersed in memories while the pain was still too raw, all while trying to keep it together for my family. I remember making that cheery Christmas card, and having the distinct impression that maybe, if I fake it hard enough, maybe, eventually, things will get better.

Inside of the tribute.

Inside of the tribute. It shows highlights of her life.

Grief, like a giant black hole, swallowed Christmas and New Years and I can’t even remember coming up for air before April.

That’s when I got sick. I had excruciating pain for weeks and had to have an extensive operation that put me in bed for another month to fully recover. The worst part was being away from my kids, and my 2-year old took it especially hard. Then, just as things got better, something else went wrong. I had terrible pain in my arm, so much so I couldn’t use it at all, which directly affected my kids again. It got worse before it got betterā€”more than a month, and I still haven’t regained full use of my arm, although it is getting better.

Amid all of this I was having an existential crisis. I looked back and thought, my MIL was in a good place before things went south. Things were great for her, in fact, and then she had a small accident. Nothing life threatening at all. Except it was. She never knew that the last time she read a book for Linnae or played peek-a-boo with Aiden was the last timeĀ she would read a book for Linnae or play peek-a-boo with Aiden.

What if that was me? I was healthy and fine, until I wasn’t.

Front page of the tribute I made for my father-in-law’s funeral 4 years ago.

Of course, once I went down that rabbit hole I couldn’t stop. I never shared my father-in-law’s (FIL) tribute 4 years ago when he died. It was a big shock when we heard the newsā€”he was healthier than many people half his age. The worst of it was that he died less than a month before his very first grandchild, my daughter Linnae, was born. He also had no way of knowing that the last time he’d be fixing a gate for friends would be the last time he’d be doing anything. He was making plans, being excited about the future, and just marking time while he waited for Linnae to come. Isn’t that what we all do? Banking on all the lovely things we’ll do in the future while missing today? I know I did.

That’s what went through my head when I was lying in bed, unable to let my kids sit on my lap, or cuddle them, or just hold them. The last time I held my son could well have beenĀ the last time I held my son, ever.

As I was struggling to come to terms with my fragility, I kept thinking of all the scrapbook pages I haven’t done, the baby albums I never completed, all the photos I printed with the best of intentions that are gathering dust in a closet.

A strange truth dawned on me, one that took weeks to truly come into focus:Ā Keeping memories overwhelm me. Sometimes, it bloody wellĀ scares me. As a designer and writer, I always assumed that scrapbooking would be easy for me. Well, hello 15 years of struggling. How does one even deal with something like this?

Luckily this was not the sum total of my realisation. But that is a story for a different day.Ā 

First holiday card of the season, yay!Ā 

I made a quick Happy Holidays card from a pre-printed card base and some bits and bobs I had in my stash. It came out pretty sweet, don’t you think?

Scrapbook page of hip hop workshop fun and using the Project Life App

I have been trying out the Project Life Android App by Becky Higgins, and I must say I’m impressed. For the first time in my life I can (potentially) finish a page right there on my phone which saves me a lot of time, and there’s enough free, beautiful kits to get even the pickiest scrapbooker started.

Scrapbook page of dance workshop

Dancing used to be a big part of my teenage and new adult years. When we moved to Hermanus in late 2010, I discovered a dance studio and convinced my husband to take ballroom & latin dance classes with me šŸ™‚ But afterĀ I got pregnant with my first child I had to give it all up, and it’s been a long 3 Ā½ years. That’s why this dance workshop was such a major event for me. I love hip hopā€”that’s my roots, and favourite style of dancingā€”and my youngest is finally old enough thatĀ I can “disappear” for a few hours onĀ a Saturday morning. Even if I can’t pop to save my life, LOL!

About the layout:

This scrapbook layoutĀ documentsĀ a single event, so I’ve “cheated” a little by using a Project LifeĀ templateā€”since there are no rules in this wonderful hobby of ours it’sĀ all good! This is what I love about pocket scrapbooking, it takes the guesswork out of a page’s design, and because it places hard limits on the number of photos and areas where one can journal, it actually makes it easier to tell the story. I simply picked my photos, chose two journaling cards and voilĆ !

Using the Project Life App:

The Project Life App is a wonderful tool, and because it lives on the same device that housesĀ all my photos, it’s a godsend. Unfortunately the app still has some ways to go before it can be a one-stop-app for complete scrapbooking.

One major pain in the behind is the app’sĀ limited font editingĀ capabilities. Oh. Em. Gee. Don’t get me started on it. To work around this majorly lacking functionality, I finish my page without adding any text, then save the layout to pull it into Photoshop Elements where IĀ add the final journaling. ThisĀ way gives me more control (e.g. in this layout, I ended up changing the journaling card colours to matchĀ the photos), BUT it defeats the purpose of making the Project Life app a quick and easy way to churn out layouts. I suppose I could settle for a layout that uses very simpleĀ font optionsĀ ā€”I’ve done it beforeā€”but it makes my inner-designer cringe spasmodically, something I try to avoid if I can.

Another big usability issue is that you can’t move elements between pockets. For instance, if you want yourĀ journaling to appear in a different location, you have to retype and reformat your journaling from scratch; if you want toĀ use the same photo but in a different location, you have to load it from the Gallery againĀ instead of moving it around between pockets.

AĀ big gripe of mine is that every change overrides whatever was in that pocket previously, and there’s no undo button. I’ve lost count of the number of timesĀ a painstakinglyĀ edited text blockĀ disappeared because I accidentally selected a filler card instead of a journaling card.

It also lacks even basic image editing functionality, like rotation, shadow/highlight, brightness, etc. which is a strange deficiency inĀ a photo-type app. I usually edit allĀ my photos first withĀ SnapseedĀ before importing them into Project Life App.

Besides its amazing array of editing functions, filters, and special effects, Snapseed doesn’t compress theĀ final, saved imageĀ like most other apps I’ve used before. This is very important if you want to print out your pages at full size.

How do you use the Project Life app? Do you have any workarounds for some of its limitations?

  • Project Life Kit:Ā Midnight Edition (digital)
  • Software:Ā Project Life Android App by Becky Higgins; Photoshop Elements.
  • Fonts: Avenir (main journaling), Bebas Neue (date),Ā serialSue_TRIAL (filler card body),Ā Times New Yorker (filler card accent)

[Scrapbook page] Digital layout of my 2-year-old daughter at play

Scrapbook pages of my little girl playingIt’s been a while since I’ve scrapped because I simply don’t have time. My little boy is already 7 months old, and that just spurred me on to start documenting our life the way I intended to two years ago before my first one was born, so I began to gather photos (not an easy task between two phones, an SLR, and two point-and-shoot cameras). I fully intended to make a Project LifeĀ® layout, but when I saw all the beautiful photos of Linnae playing, it quickly turned into a “Linnae at play” double-page spread šŸ™‚ .

SB Linnae Speel (page1 web)I guess I channelled my inner Cathy again, because this is typically her style for digital layouts, with the wide margins, sharp corners, and unapologetically symmetrical design. She prefers a more monochromatic approach, infused with lots of puns, white space, and #hashtags, while I opted to keep the photos in their fully coloured glory, and used words in a purely functional fashion. But even though the pages are quite busy, the wide margins and symmetry help to keep the layout balanced. And I wanted that happy, almost ecstatic lookā€”it suits my daughter’s personality to a T.

SB Linnae Speel (page2 web)Because there were so many photos to choose from, I decided to rather use all the spaces for photos and skip any elaborate journalling and pocket page-type “filler cards”. Instead I created a post on my personal blog that goes into detail about every one of the photos, hence the QR code. Gotta love the digital age! šŸ˜€ For that reason I’m not going to go into any personal detail here, so if you’re curious go read it over there. (It’s in Afrikaans; if anyone who does not understand it asks, I’d consider doing a translation here).

I used a beautiful kit from Mommyish called “Daily” because it has nice PL elementsā€”which I didn’t even use, go figure. I intend to print this in a 12 x 12″ photo bookĀ¹ once I have enough pages, as part of my Projek Leef memory keeping (my own Afrikaans version of Project LifeĀ®).

Project Details:

Digital elements: “Daily” kit by Mommyish ā€¢ Template: Elmi (that’s me!) ā€¢ Fonts: Bebas Neue (title), jr!hand (labels/journalling) ā€¢ Software: Photoshop


Ā¹ photo book: Q-photo is running a 50% off sale on all photo books until the end of October. If I can do 18 more layouts (just 9 double pages *cough cough*), I will have a beautiful, full colour memory book for roughly R350 (incl. delivery). That’s a bargain!