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.


  • 101.
    Sasha said…

    What a great layout of Simon! Your layouts are standing the test of time.

  • 102.
    Amanda said…

    OMG w/ 99 comments you will probably never read/get to this one!!
    Just wondering when the 1 and 2 page layouts are mixed up together and then put in chronological, what do you put on the other page of a single that doesn’t have a buddy?

  • 103.
    Malika Kelly said…

    Wow, Ali! That is a lot of work! Good for you. Bet that felt great!

  • 104.
    O said…

    WOW and way to go! Your organizing has inspired me to dive in and begin sorting through my office. It’s been waiting for me for several weeks and today I took that first step. Today I also journaled in my datebook (bought on specifically for that purpose); I put all my new scrap supply purchases into an old ceramic planting pot. Some mini albums (7gypsies I think), labels, a paper punch, Crop-o-dile, etc. It looks nice I think :) Thanks so much for sharing glimpses into your everyday and for sharing your creative processes.

  • 105.
    noell said…

    Wow, it’s so cool to see so many layouts in stacks like that! I wish I could dig through them and see them all.
    I posted an entry describing all my album topics and linked to your entry here. It’s just too cool.
    I was wondering two things and I hope you’ll have time to share your answers with us:
    You said you wrote down some notes about layouts you don’t love because they lack balance or a story. Do you plan to go back and adjust those layouts? Or are you just making a note to remember for future ones?
    Also, regarding the details you’ve found you really love in looking back at some layouts…do those details look much different than what you’ve been doing lately? What are the differences?

  • 106.
    anna said…

    Wow! What a daunting task. Bet it feels good to have it done.
    What I would give to spend the afternoon at your house, looking at all those albums!

  • 107.
    Julie said…

    Ali – The first time I ever knew of you was way back in 2002 (I think?). I came across a LO you did on 2 Peas, I think before you were even a GG, of Simon as a baby laying on a white blanket at the park. The angle was from down low and above him, so you could see his little feet up in the air. There was a quote of some kind about a breeze.
    I was SO inspired by that layout to take more interesting pictures, design more simply and to document those everyday kind of moments. And here you are, still inspiring me to document the everyday moments. I will remember that one forever. You went into my “BOS” at that point and now, though I’m long over scrapbooking, you’re still at the top of my blog list for your creativity, style and sentimentality. Thank you for sharing your life and improving mine.

  • 108.

    I have to agree that layouts that tell a story, that are rich in details, are my favorite.
    I could never understand the appeal of a whole album filled with highly embellished single-photo, single page layouts that said only “cherish” or “cute” on each page.

  • 109.

    Thank you so much for sharing your process (+ your thoughts), Ali!

  • 110.
    Kristi B said…

    Hi Ali,
    I recently went through all of my pages & scanned them. Took about 4 months (goal was 1 album a month – late at night while kids sleeping). I was so afraid that something would happen to my albums after all that I have put in them – would hate to lose the details. Anyhow, I printed them in 6×6 & made a book for my kids (layouts about them). Also burned them on cd’s & sent to a far away relative in the event I ever need to reprint. I sleep better at night :)

  • 111.
    Gayle said…

    Thanks Ali. You’ve gotten me to kick myself into high gear and start this. I took Stacy’s LOM class year, I organized photos, but not my 10+ albums.
    I want to take all of the albums out of my closet and sort them and put them in their own space. I just have to find a nice bookshelf to hold them all, out in the open for everyone to see that I love my family and the things that surround me.

  • 112.
    Melanie said…

    Ali–Thank you so much for sharing this process!! I’m so glad to have this insight into what really matters later on. Sometimes I get so caught up in design or certain products that I don’t focus on what is really important–the story and photos. Thanks again for reminding me of WHY I really scrapbook. –Mel

  • 113.
    dr berry said…

    Love it!!! Some people woulda flipped out to see all those LO’s all stacked up. I am one that as soon as it is finished it goes in a page protector.
    Your #1 thought is exactly why I scrap in chronological order. When I go to a weekend crop or occasionally a night crop I usually work one of my 3 tinies an album. I love looking at those old photos, school papers & art work they did when they were little.
    #10 thought I LOVE this idea. I have decided that the rest of the albums I do will be only 3 ring ones. When I purchase an album I usually add extra page protectors to it from the start. I am stuck with 12X12 or 8X8 lo’s till I am through with the album. But with a 3 ring I can add various size page protectors with ease. Also my albums are getting the alligator effect from all the bulky embellies.
    I received Stacy Jullian’s Photo Freedom today. Now I can figure out how to organize all my digi photos. Thank you soooo much again.

  • 114.
    Debbie said…

    I am working on a shelfing system for our family room so we can see all the albums & encourage everyone to pull out a book and look through it. My grandmother keep all of her albums under the coffee table & we loved looking through them.
    Your brave to take on this task! I wouldn’t know where to begin!! You GO GIRL!!

  • 115.
    Sharon said…

    This was so great to see – so inspirational on a lot of levels. Thanks for continuing to motivate us.

  • 116.
    Kelly Farstler said…

    Thanks for sharing this Ali- I am yet another person that needs to do this with my own albums. I have a huge stack of layouts that are homeless and the stuff I have in albums is in no particular order. I was looking at my album shelf in my scrap room just the other day and saying that I need to get myself organized. I have a big weekend of scrapbooking coming up, so I think that once that’s over with, I’ll tackle this project myself. Thank you especially for sharing the observations you made during the process. I’ll look forward to reading more as you make more progress with this project. To know that I’m not the only one that puts layouts into albums without any rhyme or reason is a huge relief! I don’t work in order- I work on things based on what inspires me and what I WANT to work on- and I was beginning to feel a little guilty about my albums being so out of order. I wouldn’t change though- I know people that only work in order and their work seems forced and uninspired. I wouldn’t trade order for inspiration, but I was also feeling like I was creating gaps in my own history. It seems like that’s something you’re addressing in this project, and I’m anxious to see how it comes out for you.
    As always, thanks for inspiring me to tackle a project like this.

  • 117.
    Ana said…

    I sat here reading your entry and was actually overwhelmed at the realization that one of the main reasons I have been scrapping less and less in the last 6 months is because I felt like I have been missing something. That something is the PURPOSE of why I started scrapbooking in the first place, to tell a story. I look back at my pages/albums and notice that somehow I got stuck in the (1) picture page w/barely if even any journaling.
    Thank you for the honesty in your post and for making me realize once again why I started doing this and that I really need to get back to my “basic love” which is telling a story.
    Good luck with your project!

  • 118.
    Michele H. said…

    WOW!! I love the process that you are taking! I’ve been meaning to do the same thing, just haven’t found that perfect album. I can’t wait to see the finished product. TFS

  • 119.
    Sarah van Wijck said…

    Wow, what a job!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and processes here.
    Have you seen this download? Full of inspiration :)

  • 120.
    Amy Tangerine said…

    wow- very impressed. i just started scrapbooking last year and am looking forward to doing some organizing myself! thanks for the constant inspiration.

  • 121.
    hydeeann said…

    oh ali, good for you! how inspiring and what a fun trip down memory lane it must be. i’m not sure how stacie’s system works yet, but what i do is store all my photos chronologically in photo sheet protectors, then scrap what and when i want. i simply insert the pages inbetween the photos if they stay in the family album, or move them into another album. this way i can still look at all my pictures from the year even if they aren’t scrapped. can’t wait to hear the rest of your observations.

  • 122.
    Redheadmomma said…

    Ali, it’s so helpful to us to hear the process of what you’re doing. I’d like to do the exact same thing in the future, but not yet. :) I love reading your notes. Keep ‘em coming! :)

  • 123.
    Cheryl said…

    Ali, Ali, where do you get the energy? You and your creative spirit are remarkable. Thank you so much. :-)

  • 124.
    Linda said…

    You’ve motivated me to do the same. Thank you so much!

  • 125.
    sue said…

    Wow! What a huge task but I’m glad you had so much fun doing it.

  • 126.
    kass said…

    the first word I thought of when reading this was BRAVE – what a huge job and no doubt one in which pride and self-criticism co-existed.
    Good on ya Ali!

  • 127.
    Nora said…

    I love this post. I have been doing the same thing the last few days. I don’t know what made me do it , but I just knew it was time Looking at all those albums and pages done I had to get get them in some kind of oder. I’m so glade i am working on it. I know it’s hard work but like you it will feel good when it’s done and I’ll be able to move on to other projects I want to work on. Tomorrow I’m getting a order of albums and covers to finish up!!! Your a real inspiration to me. I have 7 kids, 2 daughter in laws and 1 granddaughter so I have a lot of pictures and pages to work on. Plus I home school my 2 girls the last at home. The 5 boys or out on their own now. Four of them in the military, three of them will be in Iraq together this summer so I’m planning on scrap booking to keep me busy and not worry about them. Your ideas and inspiration I hope will help too.

  • 128.
    Meera said…

    So many of your observations ring true for me. I have not scrapbooked a page for more than 6 months now. I pulled out my albums and just looked at them. I did the exact same thing- called my husband everytime I saw a page or memory that I had forgotten about. I loved reading what I noted. The funny thing for me is that while going through my albums I never stopped to think about the products or techniques I used. I know the enjoyed making the page back then. But when I looked back- it only mattered what the picture was and what the story was. Note to self: tell the story.

  • 129.
    amy lapi said…

    i love this post :)

  • 130.
    Nicky said…

    It’s interesting to see how perspective changes over time. I should do this. I know I have a wide variety of pages, as well. It was inspiring to read your observations. Thanks for sharing. ;)

  • 131.
    Ramie said…

    How brave to tackle such a huge project….and WOW….such awesome thoughts about it all. How fun!

  • 132.
    natalie said…

    you are an absolute inspiration, ali!
    i hope to be able to just complete my son’s “baby” book, before he turns 3! 11 months to go.

  • 133.
    Laura said…

    My oh my!!! I would never think to take out all my pages from books. I’ve been scrapping for 9 years and in the beginning I scrapped in order. CM pages so of course you had to scrap in order as they are all mounted on the pages. It wasn’t until 2004 when the triplets were born that I actually scrapped out of order trying to get as much done as possible. Their first year is actually in order in an album. Their 2nd year 2005 well, I have one big pile! Just like your photos. they just never got into books. They need to be sorted! 2006 I went digital. I printed 2006 and 2007 in books at the end of the year. I didn’t scrap every event but I did do a lot of their activities. Good luck with your progress.

  • 134.

    What a great idea – can’t wait for the next installment :0)

  • 135.
    moline said…

    Thanks for sharing this! I need to do this too. This post was such an inspiration!

  • 136.
    carine said…

    this is a great idea for an “introspection into my life”..

  • 137.
    Conchi said…

    That good idea! I am delighted to see this pile of LO. It must be a wonderful experience to see your work and your memories embodied in a few pages.
    Hopefully someday I can experience the same thing

  • 138.
    Tina Schadone said…


  • 139.
    Heidi Walczak said…

    This was such an inspiring post for me to read. I often have stacks of photos waiting to be scrapped because I don’t have the perfect page to put them on or album to put them into. I always seem to have these grand ideas of what I want to do with them, yet it becomes increasingly difficult to do that with the overabudance of photos I take. I think what is important here is to scrap for the sake of documentation, get my photos onto pages with detail. Let the beauty of my albums come from the stories being told, not from a complete coordinated twenty page album using just one paper collection.
    So thank you, I’m off to go scrap.

  • 140.
    Judi D / White Bear Lake MN said…

    I just love reading your inspiring thoughts and useful information. I too need to organize. My word for the year “Inspire”.
    You always do that for me. I recently just took a day off of work just for me. I sat in my scap room and enjoyed just looking at what I have. I made some Valentine cards and enjoyed music and ME. Thanks again Ali

  • 141.
    Judi D / White Bear Lake MN said…

    I just love reading your inspiring thoughts and useful information. I too need to organize. My word for the year “Inspire”.
    You always do that for me. I recently just took a day off of work just for me. I sat in my scap room and enjoyed just looking at what I have. I made some Valentine cards and enjoyed music and ME. Thanks again Ali

  • 142.
    Tif said…

    You are brave! This is a huge task. Good luck!

  • 143.
    MNScrapbookmom said…

    Ali, I think this is really great and something that I think that I need to do myself. I have a question though… While taking out your layouts did you notice any problems with the adhesive from your layouts that are several years old now? With technology changing and adhesives saying that they are what they are – I am concerned that my earlier layouts with have items that won’t stick as well if I remove them. Just wanted to see if you had any thoughts on your early adhesives and if they are holding up as planned. Thanks Ali.¥

  • 144.
    Tara said…

    just WOW… I don’t have nearly as many as that but I just bought some albums to start organizing my stuff too.

  • 145.
    sharon said…

    Ali, you are my absolute inspiration. It is you who have reminded me of living the today. Enjoy the moments of the day. I’m now taking time to scrap instead of rushing to finish, so i can think about what i want to say in my layouts.
    It really means alot to me that you got to autograph my life artist book for me. If you ever decide to come on holiday in Malaysia, we so have to get together in my little scrapping shop, Scrappingville, to have a class. Take care. Have a great weekend!

  • 146.
    Laura Lee said…

    I did this shortly after moving to Florida and it was so enlightening. I realized I scrapped way too many events and not enough of the real stuff. I realized I was missing out on important relationships that I wanted to scrap and have concentrated more on the things that I feel are missing in my books than the things I tend to create over and over. At the same time it is comforting to scrap some of the same things! :)
    Continue to look at your books, it will really help you keep grounded in your scrapping! :)

  • 147.
    Karla said…

    This is a wonderful idea! I would have never thought of doing this! Right now I’m struggling with getting my pages INTO albums!
    Thanks so much for sharing! Can’t wait to see your finish and to get Stacy’s book ^—-^

  • 148.
    Christi said…

    Omg, kudos to you for getting these organized, but I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw all those stacks of layouts! I wouldn’t even know where to begin…good luck! :)

  • 149.

    Holy Cow Ali. Not only am I so excited for you, as this has been on my list too, it’s amazing to see how many people have commented on your progress. How cool. I really do hope you post your progress… I look forward to see what you are going to do with all the pages…

  • 150.
    Liz said…

    My stack of albums has been bugging me and I couldn’t put my finger on why other than ‘there has to be a better way.’ Your tips made me realize that this is something that I should do, too. Also, great idea using the three ring binders. Mine are all post albums that I’ve put so many extenders in that they’re really haphazard. The binders seem like a much sturdier way to store them for the long haul.

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