Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

November 1, 2013

Disneyland 2012 | Creating A Story-Based Album With Simple Stories (Includes Video Overview)


One of the projects on my list has been to create a mini-album of our Spring Break adventure to Disneyland in 2012. You can read about the surprise here.

I’m excited to say that I’ve got it underway and wanted to share a bit of my planning and process with you today.

I decided to use a Simple Stories Snap! 6×8 album and their Say Cheese line for this project. It’s a great collection of magic messages that will go really well with the stories I want to tell from this trip.

The last time I put together a Disney album was many years ago. It remains one of my favorite albums. Parts of it were included in my book Life Artist - a digital version of that book is available here. Here’s a look at one of the spreads from that album:


What I loved about that 8.5×11 album was that it was really thought out and story-based. To me that means that I took the time to look through all the photos and bring them together based on story themes vs. a straight-out chronological approach (more about that below).

For my Disneyworld album I followed that same basic foundation/design throughout the album. Story + photo on one page of the spread paired with a collage of photos on the second page.

As I begin to work on this new project I’m thinking about my basic approach to travel albums. I generally do two kinds of travel albums:

  1. Document while I travel (aka “scrapbook on the road”). This tends to be in-the-moment documentation capturing my thoughts and feelings while I’m experiencing them. I journal. I collage ephemera/all the stuff together. I play. It’s also very dependent upon how I feel on the trip – how busy I am and my general motivation to document. Sometimes it’s high and sometimes it’s low. I never really know until I embark on the journey.
  2. Come home, wait a couple of years, make an album. This is generally what’s been happening even though I’ve intended to scrapbook on the road for my last few trips. This one actually tends to tell a more complete story with perspective about the adventure and I’m usually able to include more.

There are pros and cons to both but they can actually work really well together by taking the time to journal during your trip and then bring it all together when you get home.

And as with all other aspects of memory keeping, there’s no right or wrong. What exists is the opportunity to try things out, to experiment, to see what works and what doesn’t and to recognize that what works on one vacation might not work the next time around.

I have a bunch of trips that I want to scrapbook in their own albums: Greece, Italy 2010, Italy 2011, Ireland 2012, etc. Some of these I have a bit of documentation I did during the trip and will pair that with a more complete approach when I actually bring all the content together in an album. Most of these I started out with the intent of doing a pure scrapbook on the road and then adding the photos when I get home.

It hasn’t worked that well.

Well, it’s worked kind of.

That means I’ve done some documenting while I was traveling and often a lot of gathering of papers and other ephemera. I really and truly love writing during my travels. I simply can’t capture those same in-the-moment reflections in the same way after you get home. The stories are still there and the perspective that’s added to those stories after the fact is awesome.

What I’ve learned about myself through all this traveling is that I want both: the in-the-moment-journaling and the perspective of after-the-fact storytelling with the whole adventure in mind.

Make sense?

All that said, I’m super excited to be reflecting back on this trip. To be re-living so many awesome moments in the process of putting it together. Looking back through the photos, choosing which ones best tell the story, and writing with the perspective of time.

Here’s a look at the start of my album:


The title page. Simple. Yes. It’s what I like. I envision I will add another little phrase strip here (maybe using the typewriter) that says “Disneyland | April 2012.”

The sticker from the 12×12 sticker sheet is popped up using two foam squares on top of the kraft dots pattern paper.


My approach to this sort of an album is to think of it like writing a book. I establish themes/chapters for all the different stories I want to make sure I include. These stories most often come from taking the time to look through all my photos from the trip. What stands out? What can be grouped together into a theme (like transportation, food, rides, relationships between specific people, etc)? What were the most meaningful parts? What connections can be made between all the different photos to tell a complete story?

I also ask myself if it makes more sense to simply tell it chronologically or if the themes feel stronger than a straight this-then-this-then-this approach. For me it usually ends up being a combination of both – it will start with the beginning of the trip (just like I did here) and then it will evolve into theme-based chapters.

This album begins with the story of the surprise. I formatted it and printed it out on Epson Presentation Paper (the same paper I’ve been using for printables) and added two little yellow stars from the 12×12 sticker sheet to the top of each page.


After including the story about the surprise the next logical chapter is travel (how we got there). I’ve included a few photos above from being in the airport and plan to journal on one of the journal cards.

I love enlarged images and definitely plan to do more of those throughout the album. These photos are a bit taller than 6×8. I did one at 6×8 and it felt too short for the page protector. 6×8.25 seemed a better fit.

I’m using RadLab for my photo-editing (such as changing photos to black and white or lightening them up a bit).


After travel I plan to address our hotel. I’ve got photos of Simon sitting on the balcony, fireworks from our room, etc. I might move this one from the hotel pool to another chapter that will just be about swimming.


Part of the Say Cheese collection includes these great die-cut pages. I’m thinking I will use them as dividers between some of the main content areas. One of the next chapters I want to include is Simon’s favorites from the trip (and then do the same for Anna).


They also have a set of 4×6 and 3×4 die cuts that includes this one that says “dreams do come true.” I’m planning to journal on that 4×6 card below about Simon’s experience.


His most favorite thing was getting to do Jedi Training. Of course. It was so awesome and I have a bunch more photos of that I want to include along with the story of him getting picked to participate.


That cut circle spinner is from the Decorative Metal Brad set. This is just a start to lay things out a bit and get an idea visually of how I want to move forward.


Anna’s favorite was having the princess makeover. Of course. There’s a whole story and more photos that need to go along with this as well. Just typing this all up makes me so excited to get these memories documented.


As you can tell I’m using sticky notes to help me identify and plan for other chapters that will be coming as I go through and print my photos and write up the stories. Two more topics I know I’ll cover are (1) the theme of cousins and what that means to all of us and (2) how awesome it was to have Katie there and what that relationship means to us.

It’s so much more than just a trip to Disneyland.

So that’s where I’m at right now. My next steps are to go back through my photos and establish my chapters and print photos and write up the stories. Then I will add stickers and other embellishments on top.

Excited to get started and I’ll share my progress along the way.


I put together about a 12-minute video overview where I talk about the products and the process.


Click on the images to link to the products.

Also, here’s a look at how I documented this week/trip in Project Life: Week Thirteen 2012



  • 1.
    Pink Ronnie said…

    I appreciate the insight into the way you approach these travel mini albums of yours…
    Ronnie xo

  • 2.
    Delia said…

    Hi Ali,
    As always, wonderful and inspiring. I thought I’d share a trick I’ve learned for telling the stories of family holidays.Every morning at breakfast I get everyone in the traveling party to tell me the three best and one worst things about the day before. (Sometimes we end up with many more than 3 best per person and occasionally more than one worst). I record all verbatim. Then, once home and making the album I always include everyone’s three best and one worst as well as the fuller stories I want to tell. That way the story is told through everyone’s eyes. It is amazing when you get home and read what you’ve recorded. While most days have many common entries, always there are a string of quirky favourites or worsts that make you remember wonderful details that would otherwise be lost to history. As always, thanks for sharing. I hope you know how much inspiration you provide so many of us with. Best wishes, Delia

    • ….
      Janet Kemper said…

      I love this idea. This summer we had a vacation with both mine and my husbands family. I asked my nieces and nephews for the top 3 things that they like. It provided a way for me to journal that wasn’t “all me”.

  • 3.
    Jennifer Levin said…

    Thanks for sharing your process with this album! I, too, have many travel albums that need to be put together. Seeing your process makes it seems so much less intimidating and overwhelming!

    And, as silly as this sounds, thank you for sharing the things that haven’t worked for you & that you have several travel albums that have yet to be completed. It’s always refreshing to know I’m not the only one that has a long list of projects to choose from to work on!

    Thank you, thank you for all you do to continually inspire me and so many others! ~Jen Levin

  • 4.
    laura g. said…

    yes, it makes sense that you like to tell the story both the moment and then reflecting about the trip when you get home…thanks for sharing…love the formula you used with the collage page…I have lots of pics from our trips up to the cabin and would like to include them in my PL…am thinking a collage page would be great…kind of break up my PL and do something a bit different..

  • 5.
    Kathy P said…

    Love the storytelling, and the way you have processed the creation of your album! As a Disney addict, I love the new Say Cheese! line, so enjoyed seeing how you are using it. Hope you will share the completed album with us one day!

  • 6.
    JulieE said…

    Does the simple stories kit come in a digital version?

    • ….
      Donna said…

      There is a digital kit from Sahlin Studios called Project Mouse that I have had fun using. They have a variety of themes to choose from now.

  • 7.
    Bethany Rielage said…

    This is so great because just yesterday I decided I was going to use one of these 6×8 albums and the Say Cheese line for our upcoming trip to Disney World! Thanks for all the great ideas! :-)

  • 8.
    Dori said…

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to create a gift album (for my adult son) which will document 3 specific events during 2013. I have a printer, hundreds of digital photos to choose from, and more stuff in my stash than I should admit to, but I just couldn’t figure out how to make everything come together. Thanks to you, I will use your ‘chapters’ approach. How perfect! I’m so excited now to start creating. Thank you so very, very much for this inspirational post and video!

  • 9.
    Lida said…

    I am so happy you are going to do a Disney theme album. I’ve done two Disney albums 12×12, no journaling and I need to do two more Magic Kingdom visits that have tons of photos. I will see if I can incorporate the many ideas that you are using. Going to a 6×8 size would definitely whittle the time spent on producing them. Love the chapter concept.

    Look forward to seeing the album come together. Thank you.

  • 10.
    Mel said…

    Great timing as I have Disney World photos to scrap and was wondering whether to combine into Project Life or do 12 x 12. Now I think I’ll just do a mini album after your inspiring post!


  • 11.
    Eileen said…

    Thanks for sharing. You have given me so many ideas for my Halloween Disneyland trip.

  • 12.
    L.McG.-E. said…

    What a great album. Your chapters idea is great, it gives great focus to a project that could easily become overwhelming. The Simple Stories kit is fabulous, I adore all their produces, they are such great quality.

  • 13.
    Debbie said…

    So great to get to revisit this great surprise trip. Enjoy making this great album. A treasure. These smaller pocket page albums are perfect for these photo heavy events.

  • 14.
    Lauren said…

    I just love the Simple Stories lines. Thanks for sharing.

  • 15.
    Christie said…

    I’m using this same line to do my last Disney trip. Thanks for sharing how you are doing your album. I’m sure I will gets lots of ideas from you!

  • 16.
    tammy b said…

    oh ali, thanks for sharing that even the ‘pros’ have intended albums sitting around! i’m currently working on planning our trip to disney from this past august so this was great timing for me!

  • 17.
    Cynthia H said…

    This looks so so cool! Thanks for the breakdown of how your travel albums tend to go. It really helps!

  • 18.
    Nat said…

    Don’t be so hard on yourself when you haven’t gotten to something like this. Things like these, especially vacations, have a right moment to do them and sometimes it can take a while.

    I stick to ephemera collecting and writing a bit in a handheld journal on our trips, nothing more. Well, if I’m feeling industrious, I’ll delete bad photos at the end of the day but that’s it. I want to experience my travels, not put too much on myself to worry about how I will document them.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Oh not being hard on myself at all – just thinking it all through :) . I have zero guilt about this stuff – just doing it as I can/find the time.

  • 19.
    StacyK said…

    Coincidentally I did some research last night on vacation travel journal writing tips, and the article I read basically said what you stated above. Thank you for the confirmation by sharing your process it is really helpful in guiding those of us new to the idea. Not sure you need another book to read, but the article also suggested reading The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language by Natalie Goldberg which was listed in the O Magazine not too long ago. Anyway, thanks Ali! I can’t wait to see what else you come up

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Oh thanks for mentioning that book – I haven’t heard of that one (love Natalie Goldberg).

  • 20.
    audra said…

    This is totally what I needed! My family went to Disneyland once (Fall ’11). I’m completely overwhelmed with all the photos and have not touched them. Watching your video just helped me rethink the process and totally motivates me! I really appreciate you taking the time to make/share these videos, I love sitting down with a cup of coffee to watch them! Thanks so much!

  • 21.
    suew said…

    thanks Ali you have inspired me to get back into doing my Ireland album! Can’t believe how busy you are before your China trip…..have a wonderful time! xxx

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Going a little crazy right now :) .

  • 22.
    hannah said…

    I love the idea of story chapters … but what do you do for any extra miscellaneous photos? do you plan a section in the middle or end to catch other great photos that don’t fit a story chapter?

    • ….
      Kelly said…

      I would just make a separate chapter at the end of the book entitled misc magic moments or something of that sort and get those fun extra photos in there. It’s really what works for you.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I don’t necessarily think that all photos need to be scrapbooked :) . It would depend on what they were – if they were really important or I really loved them I’d find a way to include them (either in another chapter section or love Kelly’s idea above).

  • 23.
    lin marie said…

    Everything about this is so wonderful! I’ve been eyeing the Say Cheese products –and I haven’t been to Disney and don’t have kids :) You’ve given me great ideas…love the die cut pages.

    And yes, also bothers me that full pages are more 6 x 8.5. I switched my Project Life to monthly spreads in this 6×8 black leather album (after being inspired by Kelly Purkey’s) and find this size so much more manageable.
    I would be interested in any 6 x 8 overlays you may create in the future. (have your dec daily’s) Can’t wait to see this finished album. Fun!

  • 24.
    Peg said…

    Thanks Ali, this was really great. I have a big trip to Italy from last spring and I am TOTALLY overwhelmed so it’s great to see some of your process. Your album is going to be awesome!

  • 25.
    carine1234 said…

    hi Ali, happy (relieved) to read that you might work on albums one year after the event.. I have several ideas of albums to be documented, and sometimes I’m just overwhelmed before beginning

  • 26.
    TracyBzz said…

    We travel quite often and I take tons of photos (like every other scrapbooker). My problem is HOW to whittle down my photos. How did you decide which few photos to include in a 6×8 book (that has full page enlargements no less!)? We’ve been to Disneyland, soon to be 4 times, and I have trouble with making the decision to not scrap all 500 (or whatever) photos I’ve taken. Which is why my first 2 trips are just barely done. Or do you print a ton of them then throw the extras into photo albums. I only have trouble with travel photos.

    After our first Disneyland trip, I printed my photos and slipped them into a photo album. Then got my girls to flip through and as they talked about the photos I jotted things down on sticky notes and stuck them on the photos. Then I had journaling ready whenever I got to scrapbooking the photos.

  • 27.
    Laura said…

    I carry a little spiral notebook on trips, writing date and things we saw, comments, moments. I then use those when making scrapbook, sometimes several years later. I tried using journal cards, but then would not like how they looked with photos after. Love this little Disney albulm. The divided pages are definately a good option.

  • 28.
    Teri H. said…

    Thanks Ali and StacyK. Just ordered Goldberg’s book. Her “Writing Down the Bones” is on my CHristmas wish list! :)

  • 29.
    Abby P said…

    Wow — LOVE how you broke your plan down into “chapters”. Gives me a whole new approach to making albums. Thank you for sharing!

  • 30.
    Debbie P said…

    Thanks for sharing your album Ali! I can’t wait to see more of what you have done. I always get overwhelmed and I feel like I need to scrap every photo. Your album reminds me that the story and flow of the trip is much more important that including every photo.

  • 31.
    irene said…

    love this video. It really helped me. Just bought al the same stuff for a Disney Album. So this came just at the right moment. Love the idea of the big diecut pages as dividers of the different chapters. And that chapter idea is just great to build an album. Thanks for being an inspiration, as always ;0). Bye Irene from the Netherlands

  • 32.

    Love your approach!! Looking forward to seeing you put it all together! :) Evie

  • 33.
    Carol said…

    Hi Ali,

    Would love to see a compilation of your digital products that would be useful for a Disney album or photobook. I seem to remember that you featured a photobook that was put together using your digital brushes years ago, but I couldn’t locate it on the site. I have so many photos, and people I would like to share them with through gift copies, that I may have to do a photobook rather than a scrapbook.

  • 34.
    Rachael said…

    I love that you are going back to work on an album. This gives me hope for the unfinished projects I have stashed aside to complete “some day”. Thanks for the inspiration. I know it will be awesome and fun to actually finish them up despite the time that has passed!!

  • 35.
    sharon said…

    Hi Ali,

    I love how you are putting this album together. I often turn to your work for inspiration and would love to see the completed album on your blog.

    Thank You

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I will definitely share it when it’s finished. Still in progress.

  • 36.
    Heather said…

    Funny! I just started organizing our 1st Disney trip and did a blog post on my organization from a ‘picking photos’ perspective. I read your blog but have been off the last few months with a new baby distraction and read your travel post today to get here. Have fun catching up – makes me happy to know I am not alone!

    I really wanted to scrap this right away but like you having the look back gives it so much perspective. The important thig is to hot down the little notes and stories you may forget (love Instagram for that because I have a snapshot and commentary easy to find)

  • 37.
    Amanda A said…

    I’m going on a couple of road trips this summer. Two with a friend and one on my own. My plan is to write a postcard to myself and mail it off from certain spots on my trip. That way when I get home I have mail and will be able to remember how I felt right at that moment.

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