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.


  • 51.
    Mariajaan said…

    I can´t get enough of your blog! After a while being fed up with excess information syndrome and feeling a bit guilty of engaging too much, too long in personal projects (not being too generous) I returned this way to the www. I think that keeping the memories of your family so well documented and taken care of is giving them a lot!
    Bye now! I will let it flow; it was my word choice for 2008. Best, best!

  • 52.
    Erin M said…

    Ali–thanks for sharing this.
    Although I didn’t re-organize my albums, I did sit down with my kids last night and looked through 3 of our albums. I think you are right on about needing to “tell your story” more. Those are the pages that we all cherish most!

  • 53.
    mama t-rex said…

    Beautiful moment. It’s a little like an archaeological dig through the soul. :)
    I’m curious to know how you felt when you saw your earliest layouts, when you were still learning how to scrap. Did you have a moment of “I hate this layout, I’m redoing it?” Not that I can imagine you ever doing anything “ugly.” :)

  • 54.
    Lisa said…

    Wow! Thanks for sharing this.
    I have so many uncompleted albums and stray pages piled up that some days I wonder what am I really even doing this for since nothing gets put where it the right albums, etc. It’s encouraging to see what you have done.
    It’s funny when one looks back at earlier pages, how they are done… You certainly can see the evolution of Scrapbooking with all the changes in the pages. So fun.

  • 55.
    alexandra said…

    Thanks so much for sharing all this – great to read about what stands the test of time and what tells the story best. I’ll try to keep all this in mind when I create.
    It must have been something else to sift through all your creations!

  • 56.
    alyssa said…

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your process. It is *quite* a process, and being open to change and learning from how/what we create is hugely rewarding (and often hugely challenging). Your willingness to share all parts of the process in all their glorious imperfection is so refreshing and motivating and just plain wonderful. :)

  • 57.
    Terri Porter said…

    I have all of my pictures scrapbooked and in albums by year back to 1983 to the present. However, even though there are layouts that I am not crazy about, the one overriding thing that I wish I had done differently is to journal more. I do that now so the “story” is always told, but what to do about the older layouts, the ones during the growing-up years of my children? I WANT those stories told as well and hopefully there is a way without having to go back and redo the layouts. I am thinking about adding some hidden journaling with pull-out tabs or something similar. If you have any great ideas along this line, I hope you will share them. You seem to be feeling the same way I am that what is lacking in so many of my earlier layouts is the journaling. Since I am in the dreaded position of being “caught up” (every scrapbooker says they want to be caught up, but believe me it’s not an enviable position for an avid scrapbooker), I want to go back and add journaling and stories where I can. It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it, where to add it, etc. I am envisioning creating flip-up pictures with journaling underneath, pull-out journaling from behind another element, etc. Hope you can add to this list of possibilities. Thank you for sharing this “adventure” with all of us!

  • 58.
    natasha said…

    Hi Ali,
    I love your work. Thank you for sharing so much of it and your life on your blog. I love the quote you have posted now. Very inspiring on those days when you don’t feel like you are getting anywhere!

  • 59.
    Susan said…

    I found this post very interesting. I joined ‘two peas’ around the same time you did and I remember seeing your pages there and thinking, yeah, that’s the kind of scrapbooking pages I like. So I put you into my ‘book of scraps’ and have been following you ever since! So, actually, this post was a trip down memory lane for me too.
    It is amazing to me how far you have taken this so called ‘hobby’. You have always been and still are an inspiration to me!

  • 60.
    Jennifer said…

    Thanks for sharing this. What an awesome way to look back. It so makes you appreciate scrapbooking. I was thinking of just sitting down and going through my albums. It would be fun.
    On a side note I’m glad I blog because sometimes I just don’t have the time to scrapbook there can be so much going on that I can look back and use that journalling for my pages. :)

  • 61.
    Cass Morgan said…

    What a job! — and it’s nice to hear how much you’re enjoying the process though.
    Just curious … what 12×12 albums do you mainly use? There’s so many out there and I’d love to know what are the faves out there for most people.

  • 62.
    Bree said…

    No one does things quite like you Ali. You are the real deal. Everything you teach, you live. I know I am only one of thousands that you inspire, but can anyone really ever tire of hearing that they are impacting others? You have impacted my life in dozens of ways and I am grateful for you, all the scrapbook pages you so openly share and this blog.
    Looking forward to the follow-up on this post. Hoping to get glimpses of even more of your artistic genius! Any chance you would show some of your “wish I had done this one differently” or “this would have made the page more balanced” examples?? For those of us with no graphic design background, your advice is so wonderful and appreciated. Also love to see your personal favorites… really just love to see anything you create!

  • 63.
    Kah-Mei said…

    nice – so gotta do this too, although my pile will be significantly less than yours. :) I agree that looking through all the pages brings back memories and it is a great way to see the progression of your scrapbooking style/thoughts/processes.

  • 64.
    Astrid said…

    Wow I really love your outlook on things.

  • 65.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    Wow love to see all you have done. I was thinking the other day I need to review mine, they are currently all in year order, which I love. And I truly love the binders, not a lot of my friends do – but I love that there is a lot of room and also easy to add more and change the layouts.
    Love seeing Simon as a little man.

  • 66.
    Wendy Copley said…

    Thanks! This is so great. I’ve been planning to do something like this for awhile, but haven’t gotten around to it. Seeing those big piles is so inspiring.

  • 67.
    Jen said…

    What a great accomplishment and a wonderful adventure! I did this a while back as well…but now wish I had paid more attention to what I thought about my pages and style. Thanks for the tip.
    Also intersting: I did a scraplift of the layout on top of the bottom left pile in pic of piles after it was in CK. It is definitely one of my fav pages – turned out quite differently that yours, but yours was my inspiration!

  • 68.
    Brittany said…

    your pile is absolutely beautiful because it really means something…you and your family’s story and history. i can’t wait for my pile to look like that. thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. you are awesome to share so much with us, and i really appreciate that. i am definitely going to “examine” my pages and make notes for future layouts. thank you!

  • 69.
    Brooke said…

    That took courage! I enjoyed a re-visit of all of my layouts in Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories course. I reorganized all of my layouts into Us, People, Places & Things, giving up the chronology altogether. The layouts I loved the most were the ones with the most journaling that made me laugh or cry all over again. Stacy also encouraged an exercise to figure out what was missing from our layouts: certain people? everyday things? special places? Since doing that exercise a year ago I have been filling in the gaps in our family story. I made a mini album this week about the values I want my kids to know. Those are more important to pass on than another layout of Halloween or a birthday party. I love your inspiring books & posts. Keep it up!

  • 70.
    Rinda said…

    What a great post! I haven’t stopped by b/c of your “laying low” post. What a delight to stop by and catch up. We love Obama here. A favorite memory of election night for us (in California) was sitting the kids in front of the TV (they’re 9 & 12) and having them listen to Obama speak. I wanted to take a pix but my camera was not within reach. I’ll just have to keep the mental picture and journal about it.
    As for your page review, it reminds me of the technique you suggest in your first Designer’s Eye book. . . an exercise on fiding your style. You suggest looking through all your layouts & pulling out your top 10 and then seeing what makes them your favorites. It looks like you’re doing something similar.
    Thanks for sharing & stay healthy,

  • 71.
    Cate said…

    That is so cool that you spent the time organizing your layouts. Now you should rotate the albums out in the house so they don’t stay in the closet anymore.

  • 72.
    Angi Smith said…

    What an undertaking, Ali! Your work ethic and just the sheer volume of all that you undertake is amazing in itself. I have read Life Artist and am in the process of starting A Designer’s Eye for Scrapping (not nearly as good as Life Artist, but still wonderful). Your new work, just like with everyone, I think, is so awesome and inspiring. You make me want to be a better me. You probably intimidate some people, but that again is what is so inspiring about you!

  • 73.
    michellejeanne said…

    That’s awesome. Interesting confirmation for me of how I have things ordered…and how I’ve been scrapping lately regarding pages you like/don’t like.
    Also interesting about placing a smaller page in a 12×12 with the rest. because there are some pages that would just work better on a smaller scarle, and yet I try to make them bigger to fit. Silly me – such a *simple*, obvious answer.
    Hope the guys are on the mend.

  • 74.
    Lynne A said…

    If only I had a superpower and could teleport there and spend some time around that table o’ inspiration. I would be in heaven!

  • 75.
    Jenni said…

    Hi Ali- I rarely comment, but I ALWAYS read. I love your blog, ezine, books, etc. You are my daily dose of inspiration.
    I just wanted to echo some of the comments about sharing all this info. This post feels as though you are my real life friend and I called you on the phone to ask, “what did you do today Ali?”, and you told me all about your album/layout sorting. I just love that we get a glimpse of your real everyday life.
    As always, thank you so much for sharing YOU!

  • 76.
    Megan said…

    your thoughts about your pages that felt incomplete resonated with me. I am a digital scrapbooker, and I frequently go in and change a file (keeping the original, of course…it’s ALL history, after all!) to improve a thought or an idea…and I told you you’d love the ones with date, height, etc. try my refrigerator idea!

  • 77.
    Carole said…

    What a great idea – thank you for sharing , it will inspire me to work on my piles of pages ( when I make pages for the store , they sometimes are not in order , thus the piles in my scrap room ) ~ will do when I return from CHA – or this spring – or this summer – but this year for sure !

  • 78.
    cathy walters said…

    Thank you for sharing this! What an amazing list of thoughts and your process. I love it. Your generosity completely floors me. :) Blessings!

  • 79.

    that is some undertaking! Good For you! and I love hearing your thoughts too. I love hearing that I am not the only one that has made pages that you don’t just love. and I love that you have started the plan to finish/improve them. also, did you just staple the chipboard letters, regardless as to how they were adhered before? I have several layouts with chipboard letters floating in page protectors.

  • 80.
    Betsy Gourley said…

    Are you putting them back into the same albums they came out of or are you moving to a new kind of album or a single color for each set?
    Liberty MO

  • 81.
    Anne Marie said…

    What an amazing collection and what an amazing job you have done in reorganizing you layouts. Love your LO style!

  • 82.
    suetreiber said…

    I really want to do the same, just haven’t braved the transfer…

  • 83.
    Trina said…

    So amazing that you are doing all that, Ali! What a big project to take on. Good for you! I wish I could look back over the years and see how many pages I’d made for the length of time I’ve been scrapping but I think I ended up with more products and paper than actual pages! Your latest book has freed me from this problem and I have been in the creative mode ever since reading it! I’m giving myself permission to use all my favorite products and papers and I am getting rid of things I know I will never use to make room for more products I will use. It is all due to you and that fabulous book of yours! I have read it many times so far and I will continue to read it again and again. I am slowly finding my own style and an learning to be okay with whatever that is. The most important thing (as learned by you!) is that the memories and stories are preserved. My boys will appreciate that when they are older.
    Thanks so much for sharing! You are such an inspiration to so many people…me included! Hope Chris and Simon are feeling better, take care of yourself, too.

  • 84.
    Debbie Poe said…

    Thanks for explaining your process so precisely.
    I’m not very organized about scrapbooking events as they happen, so I finally just started doing what I felt like doing and putting the page in a book with no worry about time or order.
    I think something you wrote in your blog finally got me motivated to just not worry about it and just do it!–Thanks again.
    My point is that I can always go back and organize it all later.

  • 85.
    Lisa said…

    I have been going through all my layouts and pictures and organizing my overall system. It is a huge process. I agree that the words written about the moments are crucial. The photos are an important part but the telling of the story is key. I remember going through tons of my grandparents photo book and wishing desperately to have more info about the event and what was happening. Sometimes I like to just make a layout about the memory…no photo necessary. Scrapbooking is really story telling. I will also say thaat I had proposed the idea of making some adjustments to some early pages I had made to my daughters first 3 or 4 scrapbooks that I did about 8-10 years ago and she was mortified. She said she didn’t want anything changed and that she loved them. I am for the most part good at journaling so it was really just a matter of the look of the pages. I really had no clue what I was doing and it shows but she loves them dearly and I can’t argue with that. So I have decided to move on from that and to me it is an evolution of my work and sort of a scrapbook of my scrapbooking. I can always create a new book or new layouts later but I think moving on is best.

  • 86.
    Laura Melohn said…

    WOW! You are prolific. I love going back and looking at old pictures and layouts and remembering the times associated with them. And what a great record you have of Simon’s early years. I just have some pictures from when I was little and would love to know the stories and details behind many of them. Thanks so much for sharing and I hope your guys get better soon!

  • 87.
    Melanie said…

    Love it! I “started” this same process last week. I had purchased 1 AC ring binder a month or so ago – and just got brave enough to start filling. As a digi girl – it makes me happy to think about just how many layouts I’ll be able to fit in 1 album! Then throwing in some 8×8 and 8.5×11 sizes AND some (dimensional) art projects from my son … what more could a girl ask for? LOL!

  • 88.
    Kirsten said…

    You just never cease to amaze – if this is what happens when you make some ‘down time’ to take care of your family – wow you put me to shame. That and inspire me. Shamefully inspire me, how’s that? You are so good at getting your thoughts organized and then sharing them with us. thank you for that. You should be so proud – what an amazing body of work! Oh, and ummmm…that’s just a portion of your accomplishments – can’t wait to see what else is simmering in that creative soul of yours!

  • 89.
    DM said…

    Ali, one of the things that I truly love about you is how you always explain everything that you do so well. That is so helpful to some people. I also love how you share so much of yourself. What an awesome person you are!

  • 90.
    BLo said…

    very cool and inspiring post. Thank you for taking the time to share items such as this with us.

  • 91.
    Holly T said…

    I need to do this. I loved it that you were drawn to the LOs that gave out specific info (height, weight, details)…you are right, if we don’t document it, we forget it.

  • 92.
    Jenna said…

    wow! i wish i had that many layouts! sounds like an amazing process. reflecting, organizing, remembering. you are so inspiring ali. i love your perspective. you have been one of the most influential scrapbookers/bloggers for me inspiring me to tell my story. thank you for sharing. :)

  • 93.
    scrapfairy said…

    wow that is amazing, so many layouts, way to go. That is something I need to do, but I still have so many to create in between so I guess it will have to wait.

  • 94.
    Kelly Libby said…

    VERY COOL! I haven’t even touched my scrapbooking stash in months and months and months. This inspired me to make a layout tonight. Awewome!

  • 95.
    Tracy (in Alberta) said…

    Good for you for taking your pages out of the closet! I think it’s sad that people have their pics and or albums unavaliable for themselves and others to enjoy. I think it’s great that you’ve recorded all these memories, but if they are in a closet, spread all over your house randomly, in piles in your scrap room that is such a shame.
    Not that I am ‘caught up’ but the scrapbooks that I have completed are in the living room along with recent photos I have in photo albums. The only pics that are not avaliable is the current book I am working on, it’s on my scrap table.

  • 96.
    Tracy (in Alberta) said…

    Good for you for taking your pages out of the closet! I think it’s sad that people have their pics and or albums unavaliable for themselves and others to enjoy. I think it’s great that you’ve recorded all these memories, but if they are in a closet, spread all over your house randomly, in piles in your scrap room that is such a shame.
    Not that I am ‘caught up’ but the scrapbooks that I have completed are in the living room along with recent photos I have in photo albums. The only pics that are not avaliable is the current book I am working on, it’s on my scrap table.

  • 97.
    Carrie said…

    Sorry I didn’t read through all the comments…but….are you going to convert them into all the same albums if so which albums did you choose to use?? Love the inspiration & determination!!! Thanks for sharing ;O)

  • 98.
    Teresa said…

    I call that a big job…wow…I would have been very tired in the middle of it or got distracted.

  • 99.
    nichole said…

    wow. do you really read all these comments?
    i have just started scrapping… and it was so good to read what you enjoyed about the process and what stood out as important and non-important. SO GOOD TO KNOW!
    i have been trying to go back and do the layouts about my first marriage (my husband passed away a day before our forth month anniversary) and have just been lost as to if I should record the moments in the pictures or how i feel about the memories now… any thoughts?

  • 100.
    Ileana said…

    this is so cool! I would love to sit there with you looking at all those pages. i so admire your work even the early pages you posted on 2ps. thank you so much for sharing so much from your daily life. it’s truly an inspiration.

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