Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

February 6, 2008

Adventures in Organizing Albums.

This is what it looks like when you remove all of your layouts from the hodge-podge of albums holding them:


This is all of them.

All of my layouts from when I began scrapbooking in late 2002 to today. I haven’t counted them yet but they came out of 28 12×12 and 8.5×11 albums.


This is something that has been on my list to do for awhile now. In between doing all those things this week that go along with caring for my sick guys (so much laundry, the never ending dishes, pushing liquids, and dosing meds) I decided to pull out all my albums and finally do this.

This, for me, is getting my layouts in order and organized by date (for some of them) + by theme for the others. Prior to this they had all been in albums pretty much in the order they were completed. (And I was definitely inspired again by reading Stacy’s new Photo Freedom book. ) 

Here’ s the process I am going through (I am about half way throughI figured with everyone sick no one was really going to be sitting at the table for meals so this was as good a time as any to tackle this project):

1. Remove all layouts from the hodge-podge of 12×12 and 8.5×11 albums and place them in piles. My piles included 2002-2008 by year (each year was a pile) focused on Simon, a pile of layouts about me, a pile of layouts about Chris + I (and our friends + travels, etc), and a pile of layouts about general family (some about me as a kid, family reunions, my parents, Chris as a kid, etc). It took me a couple hours to remove the layouts from all the albums.

2. Next I began the process of putting them back into albums. I began with 2002 and inserted pages in date order (as close as I could). Note: I wish I would have ordered additional page protectors. I can fit twice as many page protectors inside each album. It took two albums for 2002 and 4 for 2003 (2003 + 2004 have the biggest piles).

3. Having a piece of paper + pen nearby to document my thoughts + observations was a really great way to collect all the thoughts going though my head as I went through this process (see observations below).


It was really a pretty amazing experience to handle each and every page I have created over the last five years.

Here’s some observations I jotted down as I was going through the process:

  1. I loved looking back over everything. I kept coming into the living room and showing Chris and Simon and saying remember this + remember that. This is the first time I have gone back and actually looked at each and every page I have made since 2002. Most of these books have just been in my closet waiting to be organized. I was flooded with memories – not only through the stories being told on the page + the photos – but the memories of what was happening in our surrounding lives at those times. I love scrapbooking.

  2. There were many pages that I really just LOVE plain + simple. I had the overall feeling that I am so thankful that this has been such a big part of my life. There were also many (too many I think) that really said nothing other than showing a cute photo (more on these below).
  3. I liked looking at the overall evolution of the pages. From the very simple beginnings of cardstock + photo + pen to the addition of stamps to metals to bunches of different products to a much looser/more eclectic style. It was like looking at the history of scrapbooking products as much as the history of our family.

  4. Many of my favorite pages are ones that tell the story of my own childhood using the photos that my parents took of our family. Many of those pages feel more thought out and complete (especially in comparison to others that simply show one photo of Simon + a quote).
  5. There were lots of pages I don’t love - lots with no written story, no sense of balance - ones that just felt incomplete and/or hurried. I looked at them, noted on my piece of paper what I felt was missing and then put them in order and inserted them into the page protectors and moved on. (Note to self: make sure to include words to complete the story.)
  6. I have done a good job including my own story and that is important to me (the pile was nice and tall).
  7. I had to staple a bunch of chipboard letters that had come unstuck and were just hanging out inside the page protector. That was a bummer because I love the look of them. Most everything else was still in place.
  8. I liked that there is an overall balance: some single page layouts that highlight a certain photo (more-so back in the beginning) + others that were two page spreads with lots of photos and a more complicated design and a more complete story.
  9. After 2004 there was a drop in the number of layouts I did for the year. This is either because I began creating more about my own story, doing more “other” work such as writing, blogging, traveling & teaching, etc., or because I had started making minibooks.
  10. I am including both 12×12 and 8.5×11 layouts into the 12×12 3-ring binders from American Crafts. I have a few smaller ones in there (a couple 8×8′s and 6×6′s) that I decided to adhere onto 12×12 white cardstock.
  11. 2002 + 2003 were almost all single page layouts. There are a few 2-page spreads included in there that were created later on (you can tell by the products + the style). I love the double page spreads – again, most of those seem more complete + actually tell the entire story of an event, moment, time, place, etc.
  12. I love seeing the photo compilation pages. Some of my favorites were ones that showed a bunch of photos from a single year or a season or that compare and contrast different events + times. Here’s a good example of this from 2003:


    If the layout included different years I put it in the later year’s album.

  13. I was also really drawn to the pages that included specific information such as Simon’s height, weight, what he was saying (or not saying), etc. There is simply no way I would remember those details if I had not recorded them in some way.   

Those are my thoughts so far. I imagine there will be more as I complete the process. One of the biggest benefits of this entire adventure, in addition to simply getting organized, is that it is solidifying for me again the sorts of pages I want to spend my time doing.

I’ll try to do another follow-up with additional observations as I finish getting everything in place.


  • 1.
    jmbmommy said…

    cool…great to reflect! WOW a lot o’pages! Keep it up…and don’t get sick.

  • 2.
    Rachel said…

    This is a great motivator to document the details. Sometimes I just keep the journaling vague thinking I might appreciate the aesthetics but I now see how it’ll only be forgotten.
    Thanks for jotting down your process.

  • 3.
    Rachel said…

    Makes me tired thinking of all that work that lay ahead of you now! wow.
    Good for you to get so organized. I am a bit envious.

  • 4.
    Rachel Greig said…

    Ali, I did the same thing a couple of months ago, and it really focused my scrapbooking again. I now create less pages, but they are more meaningful. Each one has a story, I take my time with the layout, and use whatever product makes me happy. It’s such a great thing to do! It actually re-inforced my need and wants for scrapbooking. Love this hobby!

  • 5.
    WilmaB said…

    Wow, what lot of lo’s!!! Brave job you are doing;) Are we going to get pictures of all the albums????;))
    Hope your guys will soon be better!

  • 6.
    Susan Gilman said…

    OOHHHHH I love these kinds of posts from you! Thanks for sharing. I dream of the day when I have STACKS of pages to pore through (I have more minibooks than “big layouts”) -still a struggle to “get something on the page” – but your “shares” and your LIFE ARTIST BOOK (just treated myself last weekend….it is my favorite of your books to date!) inspire me to keep moving toward that dream! Hope your guys are feeling better!

  • 7.
    Malla said…

    wow… this was really great reading and wonderful inspiration to look back in all the albums… I will certainly do that too… thank you VERY MUCH! :)

  • 8.
    Alli said…

    about a year ago I did the same thing, it really is amazing to see the stories of your life laid out that way. I really only have 3 categories as I really haven’t done more than a handful on myself so I tend to put those into the family/everything else album.

  • 9.
    Tanja said…

    Oh how I wished to sit at your table and be able to flip through all these pages!!! Need any help???

  • 10.
    Stacie said…

    and you did this because….why!?!? You wanted everything in matching albums? Or , you just wanted to give me a kick n the patootie to get scrappin?!?! :) Thanks for the notes! They alone are great inspiration!

  • 11.
    Relly said…

    This post made me smile a lot. It must be super nice for you to go back and reflect as Ali the scrapbooker not Ali the teacher/writer/CK columnist etc.
    (And kind of nice to hear that you don’t make pages you think are perfect every time, that sometimes your product works loose, or that sometimes there is something lacking – it gives me hope!)

  • 12.
    jill conyers said…

    How ironic. I just posted about this exact same thing on my blog this a.m. I’m starting with photo re-org and my next task is to get layouts org in pizza boxes (taken from the albums) back into albums with a system that works for me.
    I even jotted down notes while I was going through the photo re-org. Often getting side tracked by thoughts of a photo :)

  • 13.
    Chantal said…

    This is something I realy MUST do myself. But I must have a table for myself to do that. And a lot of time,

  • 14.
    LateBlossom said…

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and observations during this process. You’re confirming for me the importance of recording the details. I have so very few pages that are just a pic and title, and it’s going to stay that way!

  • 15.
    marlee said…

    Grrr… I want Stacy’s book right now!! I know it’s not available to the general public, but is there anywhere I could purchase it now? I’m so anxious to start this organizing project…

  • 16.

    Ali, a heartfelt THANK YOU for sharing, you are so good at that :o ))))

  • 17.
    WENDY MYERS said…

    WOW! I cannot believe you undertook this project. That is amazing in it self.
    You are so inspiring and not just occationally, but daily. Thanks for making me feel like goals are reachable.
    You truly are amazing. Thanks for getting everyone inspired to do the impossible!
    GO ALI GO!

  • 18.
    Sister Ann said…

    Ali: what a beautiful tribute to your dedication, passion, focus, talent…. and what one can accomplish in five short years! Brava!

  • 19.
    vera said…

    Thanks so much for posting this! Sometimes I work out of chronological order and that adds to the stress of pulling it all together in albums. I contemplated pulling out all of my layouts and reorganizing them like you have, but I thought the idea was a bit crazy. Thanks for giving me the confidence to tackle the project!

  • 20.
    Molly said…

    Impressive and exciting body of work!
    I’m very encouraged by point #4 specifically, because the reality (likely for most of us) is that we create the page/story well AFTER the fact and there’s concern that we don’t remember enough detail. What we CAN add to these pages is insight and reflection, which is a BIG part of what I love about scrapbooking.
    Love this post so much.

  • 21.
    Maria said…

    Wow…I wonder what my pile will look like considering I have been scrapbooking consistently since 1997! :D Thanks for sharing your notes, as well! A very inspiring post! I signed up for Stacy’s class this year with the intention of getting organized, too. Your entry was the push I needed to visualize the process and get an idea of what I’m getting myself into, LOL.

  • 22.
    Leah Crowe said…

    I was just talking about how I need to do something similar in my albums, and organize them as well. Such great inspiration. How many hours has this taken?

  • 23.
    Kristine said…

    Wow! I am so happy to hear that you still love scrapbooking and the process. It is such a wonderful passion–I hope for me that it never goes away.

  • 24.
    Karmen said…

    WOW! I want this book soooooooooooon! Any chance of “winning” it in a contest from you or anything?!?!?! LOL
    Have a great rest of the “organization” day and don’t get sick! Hope your boys are feeling better by now too!

  • 25.
    jenn said…

    Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing that Ali! I love these type of posts too!!!

  • 26.
    Shannon S said…

    Wow Ali, that is a lot of pages. Looks like a fun way to enjoy your day even though the rest of your family is home sick. I need to do something like this with all of mine. Except a lot of my old stuff is on hinged pages and now I do the drop in kind. I was shocked though that you said your albums were in a CLOSET! Ali, your beautiful work needs to be out in your living room so you can pull those albums and look at them. I have a piece of advice…. take it if you will….A fireman once told me that they will enter a home to save precious photos/albums if all living life is already out of the house and they are easy to get to…. (I have all my albums in on a bookcase shelf in our living room one foot from the front door of our home.) If I need to leave fast for heaven forbid a fire…flooding, whatever, I am grabbing a handful on my way out! Your work is truly amazing and so inspiring…. I would hate to see it hidden in a closet.

  • 27.
    Cathy D said…

    You are too funny, we are embarking on the same journey of organization. I ordered about four d-ring binders and 6 packs of page protectors (i have tons of those at home but figured let me order extra) And that’s my plan to take all the Lo’s out of the book and reorganize them. Cross fingers, I’m hoping the d-ring binders come in today so I can get started. I just think it was funny that I’m doing this project and I come on your blog and you’ve decided to do the same thing. I call it early spring cleaning.

  • 28.
    Shannon said…

    So glad to see this. It’s actually a project that I plan to do myself this year. I just recently bought one of the American Crafts D ring albums and absolutely love it. When my husband saw the album, he said “you should get more of those and put all your layouts in them by year”. Great idea honey, I’ll probably need at least 10 books since I currently have nineteen 12×12 plus various other sizes. Thanks for sharing the process.

  • 29.
    Shannon said…

    Just curious Ali, what are you planning to do with your old albums? I’m not sure what I’m going to do with mine.

  • 30.
    TeenSleuth said…

    Awesome. It inspires me to get down to work–for me, the issue is including enough of the story, and you have been a huge inspiration in this area. It’s easy to take details for granted, to not step outside yourself and determine what information an outsider would want to read.
    Here’s to telling the story completely.

  • 31.
    Kim said…

    This task is on my list also!! I really hope to get it accomplished before summer!
    Thanks for the inspiration b/c my piles will be no where near the height of yours! So I totally know I can do it now.

  • 32.
    Jo E said…

    Ali, you are such an inspiration at the moment – I am loving the ideas you are posting especially the valentines book. I’m having trouble accessing the link you gave to view more of your photobook at Shutterfly. I have tried on a number of PCs now and no joy – any chance you could let us know how we can view it via the Shutterfly site rather than via a link?

  • 33.
    Laura T. said…

    Wow Ali —- That is a LOT of layouts. And don’t you just love going back and looking at some of the first layouts you created. I do this on occasion — especially looking back at my son’s early albums. I love that he likes to go back and look through them too.

  • 34.
    kristin said…

    what a great trip down memory lane. it makes me think about when i first came across you as a garden girl back as mama2simon… i loved the simple graphic look of your layous back then (and of course, still do now). can’t believe how much time has passed, all the scrapbook inspiration that you’ve shared. so cool to see your layouts all together and to read your thoughts about them as well. this post really makes me want to sit down and create a page or two! enjoy the rest of your organizing!

  • 35.
    Jill said…

    I love the American Crafts albums as well. I am one of those people who does not scrap in order so this is something I also need to do. I love looking through my albums and seeing the progression of my work and just remembering all the great memories that the pages represent: the pictures that show the stories and the stories behind the pages :-) Thanks for sharing!

  • 36.
    Jackie said…

    Cool idea. I think I’ll do that myself. My albums seem a little jumbled. There are also beginning layouts that probably need a bit of a makeover. Talk about yucky colors…ick. I got myself on American Crafts album, but I’m thinking I need more. ;-) Thanks for the tip! :-)

  • 37.
    elizabeth said…

    Oh, what a great project. Sounds like fodder for a future column for you ; ) Can’t wait to hear how many layouts there are…

  • 38.
    Martha Thomas said…

    Wow Ali!! You have inspired me in a way I’ve not been inspired before. Thank you so so much. It’s so wonderful to see someone else in the tedious process of getting it all reigned back in and organized. Wow. I’m really just so blown away by your photos of these pages. Thanks for reminding me what this hobby/passion is all about. Blessings!!

  • 39.
    Lisa said…

    Very cool! I did this a few weeks ago– but I only have two albums worth of stuff, lol! I really liked seeing the progression of my work— more hand-written journaling, more balanced layouts, etc. It’s a great time for reflection and, let’s face it, a good pat on the back!

  • 40.
    Jen G said…

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the pages you enjoyed! What great insight and, hopefully, a great reminder for you as you continue the story. The 2 page spreads with lots of photos feel hard to make (vs the one photo one thought type page) and yet, they are so fun to look at. I must remember this!

  • 41.
    kimber said…

    Thanks Ali, you are really a true inspiration in so many ways. I love this post and can’t wait to reminisce through my own piles.

  • 42.

    I recently came upon some similar thoughts when I was refocusing myself on scrapbooking. I just blogged about it and wanted to share some of my thoughts on scrapbooking that were similar to what you noted.
    There are 2 goals / styles I try to personally focus on: 1) “I scrapbook stories, not photos”. I use photos to visually express these stories, but rarely is the photo what starts the page. I use photos just as I use color, patterns, texture, memorabilia, journaling, a title… just an element of the whole.
    and 2) I love “time capsule pages”. These are the scrapbook pages that capture exactly what I’m feeling, doing, into at a particular moment. Like you mentioned the small details about Simon- they capture those details of that period and freeze them in time. What these two concepts boil down to, is just that I want to capture real life, in the moment, today. I want to show the tiny details I’d otherwise forget. It’s about writing down that song you are obsessed with right now, which in 4 years you’ll say, “oh my gosh, I loved that song” and want to pop in the CD and hear it all over again.” It’s about taking the little things that would normally lurk in the background of another’s photo and making that the focus of my photo. :)

  • 43.
    Erin said…

    wow….you must have been reading my mind! keep us updated on your organization process….as all of us need a LOT of inspiration and motivation here! hope everyone is feeling better as well! Erin ;)

  • 44.
    Tiffani said…

    that was a ton of work, but I’m sure was well woth it. I too need to organize my albums. I have an entire box of finished LO’s just waiting to be placed. Thanks for the inspirations.

  • 45.
    Deana said…

    Great post! Hope everyone is feeling better soon!

  • 46.
    Rebecca said…

    So funny – I just did this last week (although I didn’t have quite as many piles :) ). The whole process of looking at all my layouts was SO helpful – it totally got me inspired to create again. What I loved most was discovering where there were gaps in our story – things I really wanted to say or tell about but hadn’t gotten around to yet. So those are the pages I’m working on now… Thanks for sharing your process!

  • 47.
    Katharina Pradel said…

    WOW!Thx for sharing this process!
    This may sound a bit weird, but in a way, only the fact that your boys are sick, gave you the opportunity to do that. So in every negative, there’s something positive! (;
    But often we tend to see only the negative…

  • 48.
    maggie said…

    wow that’s a lot of albums. I luv the idea of recording the height and sayings.
    Hope everyone is getting better,
    Have a spectacular day!

  • 49.
    Maryaz said…

    Looking through the comments – it looks like I am not the only one inspired by your post! Thanks for letting us see your processing & what is important to you.

  • 50.
    Michelle Hart said…

    I LOVE this process! I have done the same thing over the years, just placing my layouts in albums as I complete them…I didn’t even realize that I can take them out and RE-ORGANIZE them!! Thank you for your inspiration!!

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