Stories Of Summer : Pen To Paper With May Flaum

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Can capturing the magic of summer truly be as simple as putting pen to paper? If I make sure to jot down the details and happenings will I have all kinds of treasures to scrapbook later on?

My answer, is yes. I can’t believe I haven’t done this sooner, but you can believe this will be a tradition, one I may even take outside of summer. What I’m talking about is preparing paper to write on. To jot down details and memories and stories so that later on when I have time to sit and savor some scrapbooking I have a treasure trove of journaling all ready to go.

So, how can you do this? Well the first thing to decide is what you want.

Keeping a journal and writing in it with a ball point pen is fine, but with a little more preparation you can have READY-TO-SCRAP JOURNALING. First decide what you want from this. I am doing it because I want different perspectives and will encourage family and guests to jot notes when over. I want quick journaling to add to pages, and I want to document more of summer from outside my creative space.


Mostly I see myself using plain, untextured cardstock in white, cream, or kraft. I will keep a proper journaling pen with the paper so that if I like the exact wording and handwriting I can just place the item on a layout.
I do think it will be fun to print out some simple digital journaling products as well as relying on plain paper. Ali has several photo overlays and journaling overlays that I love for this kind of a project. My favorite is this one:


As I work on sharing this with you, I keep trying to find a way to fancy it up, make it more exciting... guess what? I can’t! It’s just a very simple idea that will generate journaling for future pages. That makes me smile – often simple is the best!


Some I hope to use directly as journaling on my pages, some I will display in divided page protectors, while others may end up being inspiration for future journaling.


Above you can see one example I made quickly with some scraps on hand. I tucked it into a page protector and now one funny little 2 year old’s conversation is now captured.


I’m really getting more into divided page protectors that hold twelve 4 x 6 photos, or for that matter anything else small enough to fit inside them. I use them to eliminate pressure and stress to get pages scrapbooked, as a place to store the treasures and photos that did not fit onto the page, and also as a temporary holding spot for pages I want to create someday.

By making sure my journaling cards are either 4 x 6 or smaller, I am ensuring that they will fit into the page protectors if I want them to. Whether it’s the permanent home or a temporary holder, this lets me keep my story with my photos. Birthday invites, ticket stubs, and all kinds of other wonderful treasure can be tucked into them as well – or if that’s not your style feel free to use envelopes or pouches (either on a d-ring binder or simply saved within a box or container)



Well then, awesome! This is something I’m doing myself. I am gathering all kinds of journaling bits and pieces and keeping them in a little container in the front hallway. I will jot down journaling as inspired, and encourage others to pick up a piece of paper and write down a thought, story, conversation, or other memory.


I do not see any wrong way to do this, however I think that using simpler pieces, or at least journaling papers that you are not especially attached to and that aren’t irreplaceable are best. That way if somebody messes it up, or it doesn’t become a part of a scrapbook page it’s ok.


Another version – and a great one for on-the-go - is to either keep a coin purse type zippered pouch to hold cards to come along with you, or to punch holes in the corners and bring stuff along with you on a binder ring. These rings are available at most any office supply store. I really love that this will keep them bound together and prevent loss. This could be especially fun on a vacation!


I’ll be spending more time focusing on capturing the details of my ordinary life, and camera in hand I feel more prepared for summer memory keeping than ever. I think this would be a really fun idea for the holiday season, or just in general too.

Before I end, I’d like to share a list of a few items I see myself looking to capture:

  • Conversations

  • Inside jokes

  • Favorites (foods, rituals, things we do)

  • Silly moments

  • Special highlights and accomplishments

Happy Crafting!



ABOUT MAY : May Flaum is a long time instructor, the co-author of Paper + Pixels: Scrapbook Layouts, she has been published in various books and magazines, and can be found most days blogging at

She's just getting ready to begin a new 5-week layout class at Big Picture called Scrap Camp. Class begins on June 24th but registration is open until July 1.

25 thoughts

  1. dawn

    2010-06-22 01:09:00 -0400

    I so like this idea and have started a little already myself. I bought the kids new journals to write in and we call it our summer journals and they can write whatever/whenever they want so far it's almost daily and I bought myself one so I can include things that I know they won't think of. After reading this though and thinking about my "week in the life" album it would be a good idea to leave some 4x6 journal cards on the table for all of us to write down the extra special things we want to remember and would be fun to include the kids on this idea too. It's always fun to hear stories from their perspective. Thanks May for sharing and thanks Ali for including this post.

  2. Lisa

    2010-06-22 01:46:08 -0400

    I used to write in a journal almost daily. Mostly about my children. What they did that day, what they said that day and so on. I guess life has just slipping by, they started highschool, they started driving, running to this practice, this game and so on. It is so nice to be refreshed on starting it again. And love the idea of the kids journaling too. Thanks so much May, and Ali as usual thanks for the great blog.

  3. Melissa S.

    2010-06-22 01:57:01 -0400

    Love the article! I have tons of journaling spots in a basket in the scrap room, but for some reason it never occurred to me to grab one and jot something down on it as it happened.
    While I don't always carry pen and paper with me, I do usually have my iPhone on me. I've set up a private blog on Blogger and changed the settings to allow email posting, so now I can just jot down a note and email it to the blog where I can see it later. No worries about losing it if my iPhone crashes, and as a bonus everything is dated and timestamped for me automatically.

  4. Denise Laborde

    2010-06-22 02:05:11 -0400

    Great post. Simple is oh so very good!
    About page protectors: i first daw Ali's post on the subject in 2008 and jumped on the great idea. Haven't turned back since. I too find that it uncomplicates a lot of the design side of memory keeping. And the mix of those with traditional pages in my albums is fun to look at.

  5. Monika Wright

    2010-06-22 02:34:46 -0400

    Love this idea...I just started blogging on blogger and have an iPhone so I need to check this feature out. TFS!

  6. Monika Wright

    2010-06-22 02:36:18 -0400

    I keep a $1 notebook I embellished in our living room sofa table drawer and write down immediately what I want to remember. Too many times I have waited until after dinner...and already forgotten the exact details. I know, I know...I need more iron!

  7. gastoryteller

    2010-06-22 02:36:26 -0400

    Great ideas! I am starting Camp Scrap on Thursday with May. Can't wait! I am also in the process (Day 3) of doing a Week in the Life to document how my life is very different in the summer versus the school year. I am still rolling ideas around in my head for how I will do the album- definitely want to mix types of page protectors.
    And I am a journaling cards addict- so any reason to make/buy more is welcome!!

  8. Rachel Wright

    2010-06-22 03:18:29 -0400

    Thanks for the gentle reminder to write these precious interactions down. I just whipped out my stash of journaling cards and wrote this one down.
    I gave Audrey a smooch and she licked her lips and swallowed dramatically. I looked at her a little crazy -like what are you doing. She says " I licked it up so I could put it in my heart forever."

  9. {vicki}

    2010-06-22 03:32:01 -0400

    What a gret idea--I'm gonna get some journaling cards into my purse TODAY!!!!!!!!!

  10. Laura

    2010-06-22 05:32:37 -0400

    May, I really like this idea! I usually have a little notebook with me, but this takes it to the next level by potentially creating scrapbookable journaling. I already have the set of Ali's that you mention -- I'm inspired to print out a bunch of them. :-)

  11. Laura

    2010-06-22 05:33:23 -0400

    That is so sweet! What a cutie pie.

  12. Laurie

    2010-06-22 05:57:28 -0400

    I love this idea! And it's one of those things that now that I see it, it's so obvious. Why didn't I think of something like this? It's a great use for some of those journaling pieces I've bought but haven't used. I don't know what I've been waiting for but this is great. I'm so glad you posted this!

  13. tania smith

    2010-06-22 06:12:38 -0400

    Aghhhhhh! This is such a great idea!!! I have a small accordian photo holder with a velcro closure on it that came with my scrapbooking roller tote that I use to keep various journalling blocks in! I will just add sone kraft stamped ones to it and keep it in my purse. How helpful some of the simplest ideas can be. Thank you for sharing this!

  14. Bonnie

    2010-06-22 06:16:16 -0400

    What a fantastic idea! I love it! I am always looking for ways to simplify my life and this is a great way to do that as well as to keep the memory of the moment fresh for scrapbooking the pictures, etc. later on. Thank you for sharing May's thoughts. I so enjoy reading your blog, Ali.

  15. Kimberly

    2010-06-22 07:54:08 -0400

    Great, yet very simple, idea. It's amazing how some of the very best ideas can be so easy and so simple. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Shannan

    2010-06-22 11:35:52 -0400

    Just wanted to add that I have made some similar cards myself with prompts so if I have some time at the end of the day I can fill a few out - prompts include Funniest Thing I Heard Today, Number One Movie at the Box Office this Week, Song Lyrics Stuck in My Head Today, Front Page News Story today etc. They provide a good snapshot of what's going on in my life and culturally too.

  17. LisaZ

    2010-06-22 13:32:55 -0400

    What a great way to capture the moments of summer, or any time for that matter! Can't wait for Camp to start!
    Thanks, May.

  18. Heather

    2010-06-22 14:01:01 -0400

    Love this idea. I have a little notebook I carry around but then I know when it comes down to it I'll be pained to tear the pages out and put them in a scrapbook, even though that was the intent. I love the idea of cards...nothing to rip out.
    May, did you just print these out at home on Kraft coloured cardstock? Love the look!

  19. may

    2010-06-23 05:19:06 -0400

    I did indeed just print onto kraft cardstock - it's a favorite trick of mine! :)

  20. tracy

    2010-06-23 06:57:41 -0400

    Brilliant! And how easy is this going to make next year's Week in the Life? Awesome!

  21. Gramjak

    2010-06-23 07:21:51 -0400

    Yea! Camp Scrap begins soon: tomorrow! I'm packing journaling blocks and 4x6 cards!! Great idea, May...

  22. TracyBzz

    2010-06-23 07:43:14 -0400

    Great post May! Having some cards ready versus a notebook is a great idea for a jump start on layouts.

  23. Stacy

    2010-06-23 08:23:04 -0400

    This is a great idea! I'm so glad I stumbled upon this post!

  24. Kris N

    2010-06-29 12:48:07 -0400

    I really like the ideas and very glad that i stopped by your blog.
    Kris N

  25. Carrie Woosley

    2010-07-06 08:10:10 -0400

    Where were you when my kids were young! This is such a great idea! I guess it's not to late for me to pass this on to my daugher and we can both do this with my new granddaughter! Thank you!

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