Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

September 30, 2008

Week in the Life : Formula + Supplies

DESIGN BASICS (and how that relates to supplies)

One of my biggest tips for putting together an album is to develop a formula and stick with it for each day. Formulas are key to making this a manageable project. By formula I mean setting up a basic design and repeating it for each day of the album. Don’t reinvent the wheel from one spread to the next. Keep it simple. One of the goals of this project, along with celebrating everyday life, is to actually finish an album.

So what are you going to use to hold all this stuff together? First decide what size you want to do: 12×12, 8.5×11, mixed up sizes, 8×8, etc. Will it be paper or digital or a combination? Album or photobook?

There are tons of different ways this can come together.


1. Use a photo album. Maybe something like this. This is a great option if you are sticking with just words + photos. Slide the photos in, add a couple journaling cards (4×6) and call it good. You could print out these Days + Months journaling cards to use in this project. You can take this idea one step further and add in a bit more craftiness by embellishing/decorating those printed journaling cards. Consider paint, patterned paper, etc.

2. The square-punch/collage route. This is one of my go-to techniques when I am working with large quantities of photos. You could choose to simply create a collage of square punched photos for each day. This is a great way to showcase an overall sense of pieces of the whole. One side of your two-page spread could have a favorite shot (or two) and the other page could have a bunch of square-punched photos. The end result of this project does not need to be complicated.


3. The mixed-up, 3-ring album. I am going to go with an 8.5×11 Amercian Crafts Courdory album and potentially use a variety of different page sizes (depending on the amount of content). For page protectors I will be using a combination of Avery Trading Card pocket pages sandwiched between the page protectors that come with the American Crafts album (I will have one of the trading card pocket pages for each day as well as the 2-page spread). I may add in some others as well.

I am considering doing an enlargement of my favorite photo from the day for the second page of the spread. I think it would be cool to contrast that with the smaller photos. That first page of the spread will likely include a collage of photos – some square punched and others cropped.

One of the reasons I like going with a 3-ring album is that if you end up with tons of content (words + photos + stuff) you can always add in more page protectors or pages in different sizes. So much of this will depend on how much you have to work with at the end of the week. Additional divided page protector resources: Fancy Pants, We Are Memory Keepers (2-up, 4×6, 8.5×11), We Are Memory Keepers (6-up, 4×6, 12×12), see other We Are Memory Keeper options here, or you could go with an album + page protector system from Scrapworks (this is the album I used in the beginning when teaching this project).


Ov581568 Ov871754

Story of Today Overlays: these can be used digitally (created to work with these layered templates – you can buy them together here) or printed out and worked on/added to with other traditional embellishments. This is going to be the first page of each of my spreads. I released a new set of these in 8.5×11 format at Designer Digitals this past weekend (much easier to print if you don’t have an oversized printer). The layered templates would be great for use in a photobook.

Days + Months Title + Journal Photo Overlays (see image above under #1): one of the cool things about these overlays is that they can be used on top of photos or as journaling blocks. You could download these and use them for your journaling for each day of the week (a cool way to use a digital product in a traditional album).

For this sort of project, and for much of my work, I look for products that are universal which can be used on more than just this creative adventure. The ones below all have to do with “everyday” themes, three of which are stamps that can be used again and again.


Technique Tuesday A Day To Remember Clear Stamps

Heidi Swapp Days of the Week Journaling Spots (adhesive backed weekday labels)

Rhonna Farrer Messy Date Stamps


7gypsies Life Creme Patterned Paper (could be my favorite paper)

Heidi Swapp Today Stamp

Scenic Route Days of the Week Stamps


Hoping the above ideas will give you a jumping off point for creating with photos + words + stuff. Remember, this is a project that has many, many different solutions. Trust your own instincts and allow your content to guide you as you begin thinking about how you want to put this together.

Keep it simple. Let the content be the star.


A complete list of posts related to the week in the life project can be found here.


  • 1.
    jennyg said…

    Wonderful ideas and resources!! Thanks. Jenny

  • 2.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    Love the overlays Ali and just purchased the 12 x 12 set on the weekend. Still a little frustrated with photoshop but working hard at learning it. Just having problems with layers and man, work gets in the way – hee hee!!! Thanks again for the project having fun with this!!
    Have a great day.

  • 3.
    Danielle said…

    Thank you for all the ideas. I thought at first that I would be going with a smaller album either 6×6 or 8×8 but after just one day I see I will have way too much to work with so I think I’m going with a larger book.

  • 4.
    Jessica Stoops said…

    Thanks for the ideas. I am still debating if it would be easier to use photo album or try the today overlays. I haven’t ventured in to digital yet, get close but still intimidated.
    I did buy the square punch, so I will have try it our for this project.
    I just have to remember to keep it simple. Thanks for the ideas and advice:) Can’t wait to see what you create.

  • 5.
    Karin said…

    So many cool products you have available in English ;-) .

  • 6.
    kerry said…

    Ah Ali, I am going to make you one rich, rich woman with the digital stuff. Haha! You have helped simplify my scrapping, and I’m enjoying it so much more now. Too many other things in life to worry about, scrapping should remain fun.
    I’m going to do this project again next week. I did one at CKU, and another last year. It is so fun! Thanks!

  • 7.
    Hannah said…

    thank you for this, ali.
    i’ve been following your blog, and planning on doing this for some time. friday, my husband found out that his plant is closing, so we will again be moving (fifth time in three years) and we have no idea where..or what is going to happen in the next couple weeks. this is going to be hard, and emotional, but what a perfect time to record our life. it won’t be “everyday activities” but it will really remind us what this adventure is, and help us grow together and stay strong. I’m already excited to look at this a year from now to reflect back on our lives. so much is going to change.
    thank you for your inspiration.

  • 8.
    HeatherC said…

    QUESTION – Do you plan to include the entire word document that you created yesterday, or are these your notes that you will then journal from. I am struggling a bit as to how much room to leave for words vs pictures.

  • 9.
    Nancy Mackey said…

    great tips! keep it simple- why is it that is so easy to forget?

  • 10.
    Tanya Gilmartin said…

    Hi Ali,
    I have to say- your blog is ALWAYS so inspiring! I have other scrap/craft/art blogs saved in my favorites, and they change every few weeks. Except for your blog. It is top in my list and has not moved in years! You seem to know when I am in a creative slump, and BOOM- there is a new project. I am going to do this “week in the life” project, but I am going to wait till your week is done, then decide how to structure mine. How cool would it be if our mom’s did this when we were young? I may do one every couple of years, just to see how things change.
    Ali, you have changed the way I look at scrapbooking, and you keep me focused and inspired- so thank you!
    Tanya- Ontario, Canada

  • 11.
    Peggy said…

    I’m trying to do this week in the life album. I think it’s a great idea, until I started it. Wow that’s a lot of pictures to take. And I work outside of the home. I don’t know that my co-workers would be thrilled for me to take pictures of them everyday all week. Lol
    I’m an insurance examiner so while I change files daily at my desk. I just don’t see the pictures being that different every day. But I’m going to try again tomorrow. I’ll just have to try and make sure I leave the flash off and hope no one thinks I’ve lost my mind. Lol. But I’m going to think this one out and try to get creative.

  • 12.
    Andria said…

    When you print your templates + overlays do you print on photo paper or cardstock? I love this idea and would love to incorporate it into my book, but I get stuck… Using photo paper makes the photos look great but hard to journal on…cardstock is the opposite ~ great for journaling but photo quality it poor…help!

  • 13.
    Ali said…

    Andria – I am printing the large overlays on white cardstock. You can include your journaling on there before you print it out or do strip journaling on cardstock that is easier to hand-write on as well.

  • 14.
    Ali said…

    Heather – I am not sure yet. I have been thinking about it both ways. I may do a portion of it in list format and then use the rest as labels for photos that go with the words. I will know more once I have more content for the week as a whole.

  • 15.
    Ali said…

    Peggy – I totally understand. I find that myself when I work here at home and it all seems the same. My suggestion is to really keep an eye open for things that jump out at you as “so much a part of your day that you miss them all the time.”
    You don’t have to capture every moment of the day. Just having your camera there is an opportunity to have some photos of events, moments, places that you may not otherwise have.
    Also, think in terms of the story of your life. What things do you want to remember at this point in time/at this place in your life? Or what things would you like to forget that would be fun to laugh at in the years to come?
    I guarantee you there are other things even in that same environment you see everyday that are worth your story.

  • 16.
    Cheryl said…

    This has nothing to do with this post, but as a designer, I thought you might enjoy this little comedy about fonts – a little glimpse at some of the standard fonts “personalities”:

  • 17.

    so far so good. . .but i am struggling with the quality of my photos. . .i want them to look more “artistic”. . .say, more tara whitney than me. . .LOL. . .it’s an interesting project. . .thanks for the inspiration.

  • 18.
    christen said…

    i love the idea of the 4×6 journaling blocks and think i am planning on using the divided sheet protectors…but i don’t think all the journaling will fit in one block. your daily blocks are so cute! but i don’t think having a bunch of them on one pg. would look good. are you envisioning one per page and then other blocks open for journaling, too? i guess i’m wondering what other ideas you have for them. thanks.

  • 19.
    Ali said…

    Hillary – I know what you mean :) . Tara is awesome. Maybe your challenge this week is to really break out of the usual way you take photos – try some different angles, different light, etc. Play with your camera more than you have let yourself in the past. I have found the more I play the more interesting the shots and the more comfortable I become with my camera.

  • 20.
    Ali said…

    Christen – I am not sure yet. Some of those things I just won’t know until I start putting things into the album. I imagine I will use more than one journal block – or use more of the space on my 8.5×11 piece of cardstock for the journaling.

  • 21.

    Okay…once again you have set my mind at ease. Like someone else said, why is SIMPLE so hard to keep straight?! I love the thought of actually holding a finished album in my hands in the not so distant future…can’t say I’ve gotten there yet in all honesty but I’m a damn good collector of photos and supplies!
    I love the idea of the trading card pockets and the square punch.
    Ali – you amaze me…how do you balance life, a home, a family, AND have time to get this done? I seem to have trouble dedicating “x” amount of time to work on this in between doing all the bazillion other things that have to be done around here.
    Balancing my “wants” with my “have-to’s” compounded by three kids and a side of autism – balance seems to be a word that’s not in my thesaurus!
    Maybe I can develop some of your balance strictly by osmosis through the computer!
    Can hardly wait to see how this ends up…FINISHED I hope!
    Thanks Ali-

  • 22.
    Amy said…

    Ali, thanks for all the ideas for the album! Thanks to my enormous stash, I have a lot of those items already. :)
    I have was having the same problem as Peggy taking pictures in my cubicle all week would prove to get very boring. But shockingly, my co-workers were very interested in the project. They thought it was a neat idea (And these are civil engineers, so certainly not artsy types at all!) And not only have I been finding plenty of things to take pictures of, but I have been noticing a lot more of my surroundings at work. Details that I see everyday but don’t really SEE. That is the gift of this project for me. Thanks Ali!

  • 23.
    scrapwordsgirl said…

    This is just fun! This morning I grabbed my camera first thing and took a photo of my hubby watching the Markets and enjoying his breakfast. Wouldn’t have done that before. This has me thinking differently and it’s just Day 2. Thanks for this, Ali. Just what I needed. Also love your ideas on the layout of the album. I am so going to make this simple and cool.

  • 24.
    Jenell Stock said…

    Ali – this is such a great project. I’m working on day 2 and the thing that I’m learning or realizing the most is the fact that I am now very aware of my surroundings, what I’m doing and the little things – like the clouds yesterday in a very stormy St. Louis or the clear sky today after the storm – the rain hitting the puddles yesterday. I am really enjoying the picture-taking part of this – the rest will be more difficult for me, but I’m determined to try to do an entire book for me for a change.
    Thanks, as always, for your inspiration.

  • 25.
    Alison said…

    I’m going to set up my book like your mixed-up mini to start and work from there. My week is usually pretty messy, so I figured my book should be too. Thanks for the tips on consistency today — that should help tie the whole mixed-up mess together!

  • 26.
    Tina J. said…

    I took this CKU class in 2006, so I have the big Scrapworks box album. There was a lot of room left, so I think I’m going to make some kinda cool title/divider page and put my new week right behind the first one. May have to order some more page protectors, but that’s ok…
    Thanks for all the info, Ali! This new week is going to be completely different, look and feel. I’m just loving the whole process already!
    Tina J.

  • 27.
    Karen said…

    Can I combine 12×12 layouts and 9×11 in the same album? I apologize for asking a question which you might have answered on another post.

  • 28.
    Ali said…

    Karen – you can if the holes are in the same place on the page protectors. You can also make your own holes – and cut up 12×12 page protectors to fit 9×11.

  • 29.
    Annette said…

    I am having so much fun with this. And I am finding that I am taking the time to enjoy the process which has really made it a kick. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself and your fabulous ideas.

  • 30.
    kim strother said…

    I am really getting into taking the photos..this is cool! I do have a question? If i go with the shutterfly book for this project, how would I incorporate the “stuff”, like pieces of mail, etc?? And does the shutterfly prigram have piece of pattren paper for me to choose from if I want to fill in some extra squares on a page??

  • 31.
    Niccole Reing-Hurley said…

    Thanks so much for providing a catalyst to do this project – I love it!
    QUESTION – What kind of everyday stuff are you collecting? I’m having a hard time figuring out what stuff to collect.

  • 32.
    Jenny Alfonso said…

    Hi Ali!
    I have a question about your digital elements. I’m looking into buying them. If I buy the 12×12 overlays, can they be formatted to an 8 1/2 x 11? I want to use them for both 12×12 and other sizes for future projects. Thanks, Jenny

  • 33.
    Jennifer McNeely said…

    Love this project – does anyone else seem to get more done and eat healthier now that we are documenting it and taking pictures:)LOL

  • 34.
    Ali said…

    Kim – I think I would scan in some of your stuff to add it to a Shutterfly book. I don’t think they have patterned paper designs to add – you would want to use some digital patterned paper (from a site like Designer Digitals) for that portion.

  • 35.
    Ali said…

    Niccole – receipts, tags, newspaper clippings, stuff from the mail, handwritten notes, papers that Simon brings home, printed out emails, bits of papers from my creative work, etc.

  • 36.
    Ali said…

    Jenny – you could adjust them to 8×8 (or anything else square such as 9×9) to maintain the proportions. If you are doing 8.5×11 you would want to use those overlays for this project.

  • 37.
    Caryl Hope said…

    I love your overlays & templates and thinking of making hybrid layouts. Do I need Photoshop in order to work with your designer digital products?

  • 38.
    Kimberly L.C. said…

    I’m liking this project much more than I thought I would. I’m one of those people who think my life is dreadfully boring.
    I’ve found the easiest way for me to journal is in a “draft” e-mail. I have Gmail, so I can save the draft and open it on my work computer, my home computer, etc. I just keep typing and saving as I have a free moment. I figure at the week’s end, I can just cut and paste what I need into the appropriate shape, etc.
    Hope that helps someone…

  • 39.
    Annette said…

    thanks Ali, I was struggling with the idea of doing an 8.5 X 11 or another size. The digital overlays swayed me!!!!!! I have already bought most of them and was debating on the onew you showed guess you made up my mind. I will however be doing hybrid, I still love to play with the stuff!!!! :)
    your the best.

  • 40.
    sev from france said…

    Still hesitate between photobook and photo album…
    An idea for those who want to insert their e-mails in the project : the print screen key. I use it for my own e-mails and blogs I visit daily.
    Thanks Ali for so much creativity !

  • 41.
    jennyg said…

    Having so much fun with this project…I’m sure onlookers thought I was crazy as I took pics of my kids in a Target buggy!

  • 42.
    Ali said…

    Caryl – you do not have to use Photoshop for the overlays. I just tried it in Word and they work in there (as well as other photo programs I assume). If you were going to use Word you will definitely need to adjust your margins and adjust the template to fit.

  • 43.
    LauraBean said…

    Hm, I was thinking of doing this as a mini-book, but I’m beginning to think there’s too much for that. I’m realizing it might make a lot more sense to wait until the end of the week and see just what I have and how it might best be put together, but, wah, I had my heart set on a mini-book! :-) It feels a little narcissistic to do an actual full-size album of one week of my life, even though I know it will be a great document one day down the road. A mini-book felt like the right compromise between self-centered scrapbook and just-something-put-together for posterity!

  • 44.
    Denise Hubbard said…

    Oh my gosh! This project is so much fun!! A million thanks for doing this Ali! I am taking an on-line photography class right now with Karen Russell and posted the info. on this project for all of my classmates to see so they too can participate. Wonderful way to practice our photography, tell stories, and creative skills.

  • 45.
    Kitty said…

    Im so thrilled you are doing tis series. i forgot my camera this morning taking the kiddos to school and had a blowout! needed the camera for that for sure.
    Anyways, I was interested in maybe taking the overlays route with this but I need to know if these work with photoshop elements or do you need the full blown version or another program in order to use the overlays you created??
    Thanks a ton for your wonderful dose of creativity!!!

  • 46.
    Ali said…

    Kitty – they work in Elements just fine :) .

  • 47.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    These overlays also work great in Microsoft Office Picture Manager – and when printing you can resize, once you select your printer and enter next – you have about 6 print options sizes!! Works great. Still trying to get mine figured out in photoshop – but slowly plugging away at that. Gathering pictures, emails & paraphenalia and having FUN!!!
    Thanks again – truly enjoying this

  • 48.

    I’m on my 3rd day and going good. The first couple of days I don’t have as many pictures, but I am doing good today. It’s funny you don’t realize how much you do all day until you try to take pictures of it.

  • 49.
    Linda said…

    Took my camera to the hospital today and found a few things to get pictures of that don’t violate patient confidentiality!!! Don’t want to get fired putting together this book. Since my kids are gone, I sent a text to each and asked them to send me a picture of themselves as a px text. Still waiting to hear from my oldest–she is in Med school and so she is busy but I got pics of the other two girls–fun to include them too. Since I have less pictures than most I am still thinking small. Will have to wait and see what have at the end!! So far no pics of dh he hates to have is picture taken, but I do have some of the cat!!

  • 50.
    Miriam said…

    HI Ali, Will you be putting all this project info/instructions on a PDF, as it would make it so much easier to print out :)
    Thank you

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