Simple Album Title Pages: A Tutorial

Simple Album Title Pages

One of my favorite aspects of this year’s family story album is the title pages I created for each month. I just love the way these capture our month’s activities at a quick glance.

 

In fact, I’m almost tempted to make an album using just these sheets. If you are searching for a way to quickly and efficiently capture your family’s year, 12 of these would definitely do the trick. Another option is to make sheets that capture each individual family member’s month of the year and then combine them for a low-stress large family year album.

I’ve been creating these album title pages using Canva, the VSCO app, and Becky Higgins’ Project Life app.

First, to maximize the time I spend on our albums, I created a style guide to use while I work. I pick a few fonts and a general layout pattern and stick to this almost entirely throughout the album.

For our 2016 album title pages, I’m using Pinyon Script and Aileron Regular. (Right now, I’m satisfied with the fonts offered through Canva, but there is an option to upload you’re own if that’s how you roll.)


First, I created the title blocks.

I created a new design in Canva by clicking “Use Custom Dimensions” and designing a 3 inch x 3 inch template.

I created two new text boxes – one for the name of the month and one for the year – and arranged them within the new design.

Here are a couple of other ideas for creating a month/year tile:

Once you’re happy with your template, download it from Canva (as a .png). I normally make all 12 at once to save time – to do this, just change the name of the month and continue saving until you’ve created and stored all 12.


Next, I selected 15 photos from the month. First, I scrolled through the folder of my Instagram photos for the highlights. If I found 15 that I liked, then I was done with this step. If I need a few more, I then open the month’s photo folder and select additional photos. (You can see a little peek of my filing process for my photo files below, if you look carefully.)

I don’t spend a ton of time agonizing over this process. Because it’s a title page, I focus more on unique shots or photos that capture emotions or special moments and memories rather than pictures that are perfectly composed. I also pay attention to white space to prevent the sheet from appearing too busy.


Next is the editing. I normally leave any photos pulled from my Instagram file alone, since these are usually already edited.

If you are cool and professional and use a desktop editing program, this next step will be quick for you. Simply edit the photos and save.

If you’re like me and you depend largely on your phone apps for quick post-processing, this will take a bit more time. Here are my editing steps:

  1. Email or Airdrop the unprocessed photos to your phone.
  2. I like to use VSCO, so I upload all of them at once.
  3. I try to use the same filter for the majority of the pictures and, for this group, I minimize how much I play with the photos. A quick touch-up or filter and I’m done. (I normally use the filter B5 for any black and white and the filter A5 turned down a few notches for color.)
  4. Save the photos to your phone and then email or Airdrop them back to the computer.

Create a new template in Canva using the custom dimensions of 5000 px. x 5000 px. Upload the 15 selected photos and the month’s title tile. At this point, I normally rely on the 4 x 4 layout grid in Canva. It allows me to simply drag and drop each photo into a square slot.

(Note: you can edit the exact placement of your photo within the layout square by double-clicking on the photo once you have dropped it into the layout, shifting the photo, and then clicking the checkmark.)

Again, I play around with the exact layout of my grid to maximize the overall look without sacrificing too much time or thought on it. I always reserve one of the most central four spaces for the month’s title tile, although I change its exact location.

Once I’m satisfied, I save the file (Note: always save the highest resolution .png version possible to your computer).

At this point, you can upload the file to your favorite printing source. I normally send it to the Project Life app because I order a printed batch of 12 x 12 sheets at once and I include these title pages with  other pages I’ve created within the app.

Once I’ve ordered the physical pages, I cover them with page protectors like these and snap them into an album.

Easy, right? Do some story-telling about this year in just a few minutes, then include a link to a quick Instagram post of your project in the comments below to share!


Products used:


Simple Album Title Pages

Weekend Links // 19.

Labor Day weekend – officially the end of summer. I can’t even believe it. It’s still quite hot here, so I’m not really ready to think about hot drinks and cold days (although we did have soup for dinner a few evenings ago) and the thought of a sweater makes me want to shriek. But I AM looking forward to cooler days and evenings that will make spending time outside more pleasant.

I have a little patio garden planted for the late summer/fall months and it has been so cooperative, as has this piece about harvesting basil and this article on cilantro. (via Food Renegade & Gardening Know-How)

50 of America’s most famous homes. (via Country Living Magazine)

An interesting piece on co-sleeping. Miles shared our room until he was about 6 months old and Violet sleeps (mostly?) in her crib in our room now. Sleeping arrangements for babies are so baby/parent/schedule/personality dependent and can be such a tricky topic to discuss, yes? But I love reading about what other families choose to do and the reasoning behind it. (via NYT)

This is a blog you will love for so many reasons, but her piece on her cleaning rhythm is especially so lovely.

From Pinterest

Planning a fall wedding? Check out these DIY wedding invitations.

Have you ever tried to capture a silhouette shot?

From Instagram

My bar cabinet. Just kidding! We don’t have a bar cabinet. BUT IF WE DID. (via @organized_simplicity)

I wonder if I could get away with only feeding Mark and Miles Greek yogurt, watermelon, and grapefruit juice? (via @sluser)

From a Better Writer

“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.” 

-Wendell Berry

Weekend Links // 18.

Weekend Reading List

It’s the weekend! Labor Day weekend, my birthday, Mark’s birthday – the official last few weeks of summer always hold fun celebrations for us and I’m excited! What are your weekend plans? If you need a final bit of pool scrolling and reading, check out the links below.

Have you posted one of these shots on Instagram this weekend? Congratulations. You’re wildly unoriginal.

Mark and I LOVED this documentary on the development of babies. The end gets a little political for my taste, but the cute shots of babies interacting with their parents and the discussion about the importance of play and parental interactions in babies’ lives made the two hours immensely worthwhile. (via The Atlantic).

How to throw an epic beer-tasting party.(via The Glitter Guide)

Did you know that you can snag popular magazines like Conde Nast Traveler from Amazon for as low as $5 for a year? I just discovered this secret and may have subscribed to a number of new titles with mildly excessive eagerness.

From Pinterest

A list of emotions you (up until now) have never had words to describe.

Delicious (and supposedly less terrible for you!) cocktail recipes for these hot last days of summer.

I’m obsessed with using vertical space to organize messy work-stations.

From Instagram

An Instagram feed that is not wildly unoriginal.

And another.

From a better writer:

“You don’t overcome challenges by making them small, but by making yourself bigger.”

– John Maxwell

Weekend Links // 17.

After two glorious weeks in Michigan, we are back home and soaking up the last few weeks of these hot summer months.

We went blueberry and cherry picking while we were up North. If you’re faced with the troubling ordeal of TOO MANY BLUEBERRIES (is that possible?), this easy not-too-sweet pie recipe is for you. If you are further south and peaches are ripe, this bourbon slush provides a solution to both the excess peaches and the heat.

I love that some parents are turning dining rooms into a playrooms.

This idea for displaying special photos is great, especially since there’s no hanging required. (via Paper & Stitch)

These backyards have me swooning. I especially love the vertical planters for a small backyard space. (via Clean and Scentsible)

This piece by a mom has the grad student in me thinking about why we all feel the need to write about our kids in the first place. (via NYT)

Today, I pulled all of the shelves and drawers out of my fridge and scrubbed the entire thing. This = happiness in my world. Someday though I’d like it to look this good. (via The Intentional Minimalist)

Finally, a few Olympic events that you may not even know exist. (via LifeHacker)

Weekend Links // 16.

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Happy Sunday! Here’s hoping yours has been restful and rejuvenating. While you’re keeping cool, here are some fun pieces to browse.

For a good laugh, this list of guys. (via The New Yorker)

The perfect dinner party playlist. (via Style Me Pretty)

If you (like me) are trying to improve your photography but don’t understand aperture, here’s a guide that might help. (via Expert Photography)

My favorite part of this list for visiting a new mom is the suggestion about bringing coffee. But there are lots of other gems in there as well. (via Mom.me)

I’m exploring ideas for sprucing up our backyard and love these vertical garden boxes.

If you’re working on the inside of your house instead, here some great suggestions for small spaces. (via The Kitchn)

Working on doing this more.

Weekend Reading List // 15.

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It is Friday! Say it with me.

The dog days of summer are fully upon us. We are basically living at the pool, which is so much less glamorous than it sounds when you are nursing a three-month-old who does not like wind or sunshine, thank you very much, while wrangling a two-year-old who is (falsely) convinced that he can swim.

While you are at the pool this weekend, add these links to your reading list!

Whatever is up with this Pokemon Go craze. (via Vox)

Why you should ask for a small coffee in a medium cup and other pieces of life advice. (via Fatherly)

Why your imaginary pregnancy and your real-life pregnancy are so different. (via OKREAL)

Would you unfollow the Pope on Instagram? (via NYT)

How to decorate as a couple when your tastes are individual. (via Houzz)

Five sauces every cook must know how to make. (via Food52)

I am hoping that this summer reading makes me a calmer parent. Quickly.

I LOVE this baby “stats tracker”. (via lifelove+lucy)

This Instagram account! I can’t even.

Happy weekending!

 

Making the most of every day: 5 strategies.

I considered entitling this blog post “Why I don’t write emails and nurse my baby at the same time,” but apparently Google doesn’t like blog titles of such length and depth. I digress.

Getting anything done while living with small children – even ONE small child – is no joke. Laundry, dishes, basic cleaning, opening the mail, watching a movie – these things that used to happen with almost no thought, now require the strategy energies of a moon-launch to successfully execute, whether you are a mom or a dad of just one tiny two-week old baby or several children under 5.

When Miles was very young, we were barely moved into our apartment in College station, and Mark was in the trenches of the first (pretty terrible) semester of business school, I remember just staring at our piles of possessions completely paralyzed. How was I supposed to turn the chaos into the cozy 810-square-foot-Pinterest-modeled apartment of my dreams while continuing to work my part-time remote job with a baby that required a feeding session every two hours?

But you know what? It got better. Life has a funny way of doing that – more demands on your time come in the by the front door and you think that your sanity is leaving by the back door, but it’s not. Eventually, I figured out what was, and most importantly, was not important for that hour or that day or that week.

So here are my “get it done” hacks. They are not a road-map to 100 extra hours in a week or the answer to why you are not yet successful and happy in your dream job of Instagramming white sandy beaches. They are simply tools that I’ve found useful in stewarding my time and that work for now. I don’t rely them all of the time – but when I do, I’m more well-rested, more productive, more pleasant, and more present.

Whether you are a mom who stays with her baby all day, or a mom who works away from her kids 40 hours a week, or a mom who is at home most of the time and responsible for the laundry while maintaining a career in the cracks of time from your laptop in the dining room – I hope these help you. And give you just a few more hours in your day. Or at least a chance to finish that project and have a few minutes left for a cup of coffee.

Do not do things while your children are asleep that you can do while they are awake.

This is common wisdom passed around leisurely to young mothers at baby showers. But here’s the secret to really leveraging this rule. You can do more things while your children are awake than you think you can.

Laundry? Dishes? Making beds? Opening the mail? Avoid doing these things while your children nap. Instead, talk and sing and play with your children in the room where these things need to be done while you’re doing them.

Will the laundry take longer? Most assuredly. My 2-year-old “helped” me while I cleaned the floors the other day and it took at least twice as long. But it will still get done and then when your baby is asleep you can do something more exciting than the laundry. Like reading a magazine uninterrupted.

Added bonus: your children will not grow up thinking that magical fairies do the laundry and the dishes while they sleep. (And if you are frustrated by this idea or have no idea how to encourage your children to play alongside of you rather than depend on you for 100% of their entertainment, read this book. In fact, read it anyway.)

Have a clearly defined list of things to do while the child or children are asleep.

This way, when that squirmy four-month-old that is in the middle of dropping a nap and won’t sleep at the expected time for all of the efforts you can pour forth and you finally get her down, then you know exactly what to do next to make the 12 minutes of sleep-time productive.

Otherwise, you will spend her 12-minute nap figuring out what to do and will be frustrated because you make any progress on anything but Facebook Awareness when you hear her precious cry at Minute 13.

It doesn’t matter what this list says. If it’s yoga, then get your 12 minutes of yoga in. If it’s editing for a client, then bill 12 minutes of editing. BUT DO SOMETHING that will keep you from falling over the Cliff of Time Despair.

Know and cage black holes.

This is slightly different than the generally accepted mantra: “We are all wasting all of the time with social media” (true as that may be). I have my time black holes and you have yours. Whether the black hole consists of magazines or Instagram or Netflix or counting the clouds that sail by: we all have them. I’m sure even Sheryl Sandberg has something on which she wastes time. The way to leverage this? Know what those things are. Then limit them by determining when you will waste time.

For instance: social media, namely, Instagram, is so addicting to me. I love it. Not always necessarily a good use of time. But when I’m nursing and only have one hand free and can’t really move around very effectively and am generally being left alone by my toddler – I scroll Instagram. When I’m not nursing? I try to leave it alone. See? It’s self-limiting. Wins all around – I get my mental zone-out break, my baby is fed, and I don’t feel as if I wasted precious time by falling down the interwebs.

Have a clear sense of what can be done when.

This is related to all of the other suggestions and this looks different for everyone. Some women can type entire books while they nurse. I can do….basically nothing that requires two hands while nursing. And I’m not very good at typing anything other than a two-line email with one hand. So extensive typing or editing or really at all anything requiring two hands doesn’t happen while I nurse. But my children have both loved our Ergo. So sometimes when they are awake and just want to be close to Mama, I *can* do things like cleaning or laundry or typing while I wear them. But some children hate their Ergos but love their playpens.

If I try to type an email longer than two sentences while I’m nursing, I get frustrated and normally my baby gets frustrated and the email generally doesn’t get finished anyway. So I quit trying to write emails longer than two lines while nursing.

Just know what you need to do and then figure out the best time and situation for doing that. Then, when babies don’t nap and the weather changes and someone needs to be held during their nap instead of sleeping in their crib – you have a backup option and can still be productive at something.

Give yourself grace to be productive in different ways.

Pregnancy and caring for newborns has been a huge reality check (at least for me), in part because being productive suddenly means something very different than it used to mean. During pregnancy, you are growing a human. So even thoughI was exhausted and nauseous and flaky and couldn’t remember why I walked from one end of the house to the other, I was still being massively productive. This took me forever to really accept, but once I did, I became a much less stressed-out human being.

Nursing has been such a soul-check for me. I want to be up and moving and doing things, even if those things don’t necessarily accomplish much, because I feel better if there’s movement and energy being expended. But when I’m nursing my babies, I have to sit for hours. And do seemingly nothing. Sometimes my babies even know when I’m looking at the screen of my phone and get annoyed, so I’m really not doing anything. Except that I am keeping a human alive. So that’s pretty important.

Spending time with my baby and simply cooing back at her is, in fact, quite productive. I’m helping her to become a little human. We don’t always have to be *doing* something remarkable together – sometimes my kids need me to just be present with them. Reminding myself of this helps keep me from being frustrated at the slow moments and helps me appreciate and savor those times more.

This book was also completely life-altering for me. It gave me a new perspective on time and focus and presence with my kids and convicted me enough to really sit down and think about what kind of parent I want to be and how to make that happen.

What are your secret weapons for getting things done with little people?

Weekend Reading List // 14.

It’s the weekend! Summer is here in full force. The Fourth is one of my favorite holidays – America’s birthday AND my baby boy’s birthday. We’ll be having a big barbecue to celebrate both momentous events and I’m especially excited that Miles gets to enjoy the Fourth’s fireworks for the first time (last year he was in bed before sunset!). What are you up to this weekend?

Whatever you’re doing, these ice-cream flavors look to good to miss – find a way to incorporate homemade ice cream into your weekend!

I love this cute toy camera for a kiddo.

Speaking of toys, I’m struggling to figure out how to minimize the toys in our home in a healthy way.  This piece on minimalism helped. Tell me . . . how do you minimize useless (and seemingly inevitable!) toy clutter and focus on quality?

Why your defiant child may be your favorite (later). (via Kids Activities Blog)

This piece on Celine Dion’s concert will have you gasping for air. (via Jezebel)

Family-sleep traditions from around the world. (via Fatherly)

How do you know when you’re “done” having kids? (via Clementine Daily)

Did you see this sweet love story? (via the New York Times)

An interesting piece on unfollowing. (via NYT)

On rhythms and geraniums and parenting two.

  

Parenting Round Two has been so vastly different than Parenting Round One. Becoming a mom for the first time was amazing in so many ways. But also, during Round One, I remember a distinct feeling of panic underlying almost all of my activities. Everything seemed HARD. Nursing was hard for a long time, sleeping was non-existent (for any of us), and I’m pretty sure I didn’t cook a meal that didn’t involve a tortilla for the first four months of Miles’ life.

I looked frantically for solutions at every turn and, even amidst the vast array of crowd-sourced-Internet-and-Amazon baby wisdom, there were very rarely any solutions to my newborn who slept at least three hours less each day than every book promised me he would (try Googling THAT schedule) and who needed to eat twice as often as that elusive “average” baby.

This time around has been different and wonderful in its own way. Baby 2’s birth and the ensuing days and weeks have been covered in so much peace. This probably has something to do with the fact that I am not unpacking boxes, that I actually took maternity leave, that Mark works for an organization forward-thinking enough to offer fathers paternity leave, allowing him to be home for those first couple of new weeks as a family of four. Maybe it has to do with my baby, who just seems to have a more effectively charged internal clock, who seems more mellow, or maybe I just know a little more about what to expect – and what to not expect.

There is a lot more laundry this time around and my house may never actually be completely clean again, thanks especially to my curious and busy toddler. I wash my hair not nearly as often as I used to and dry and style it less frequently than that. But even now, after the first haze of the brand-new baby days has worn off, even on the busiest of mornings when our house contains the work-days of two adults, a babysitter, an infant, a toddler, and an oddly ballooning population of tractors and trains, our days have a steady confidence, an expectant rhythm to them.

Waldorf education philosophy, with which I am almost as mildly obsessed as I am with extra-sharp cheese, talks about how a day is built out of alternating periods of contracting and expansion, much like breathing. We come together, we pull apart. Days, especially for children, should have a pulsing steadiness. Like kneading bread.

I love this picture of pulling outward and settling in. I think it’s almost as important for adults as it is for children. Maybe our rhythms are different; but I go a little crazy when I don’t know what pieces of my day I can depend on. (This is probably THE HARDEST part of parenting young infants for me – this always-not-knowing.) And it is amazing to me how this sense of rhythm changes even the way I handle my infant’s sleep schedule. 

Schedules are hard for babies – not scheduling at all is hard for families. But rhythms? Rhythm is something I can watch for and listen for and encourage. Rhythm is something I can fall back on when our day starts to feel messy and hectic and scattered. Rhythm is something I know will return, even if an evening or a morning or a day feels unpredictable and chaotic.

I try to set landmarks in the day for myself, just as I do for my children. Mine are slightly different – my few minutes alone with the coffee carafe and my cup, a few stolen minutes with a book or a magazine (like this one or this one), a window of time during which I get to water my two pet pots of geraniums. And these landmarks – naps and meals for my children, these little moments for myself – help to guide our day, to reassure us that chaos is not in fact winning – that the days are being redeemed, slowly, steadily, one by one.

And even when the laundry piles up and the tractors and trains line the halls and the crackers need to be vacuumed from the floor for the nineteenth time, I can breathe more easily, knowing that we’re finding our rhythm. And we’ll find it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.

Weekend Reading List // 13.

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Happy Weekend! It’s unofficially the second weekend of summer (which, for me, will always begin with Memorial Day weekend!). I hope you’re enjoying barbecues, pool-time, and the sunshine. I’m excited to soak up lots of beautiful northern weather and solitude this weekend.

Here’s a handy chart that can tell you whether or not to pitch that leftover condiment. (via TheKitchn)

A helpful color chart for design projects. (via Colourlovers)

Enough quinoa salad ideas to stock your fridge for a month. (via BuzzFeed)

A beautiful printable calendar and some other free printables. (via Azzari Jarrett)

The one piece of preparation to do before a dinner party to make cleanup less stressful and nine other entertaining tips. (via Cup of Jo)

And four ways you are undermining your own happiness. (via The Reluctant Entertainer)

How do we make our digital lives more human? (via The AmericanScholar)

From the archives

Why you should take more pictures

Currently loving

My simple glass (Neoprene sleeved) water bottle (similar) that I carry everywhere.

Reflecting on

“The rituals we share are small promises made and kept, every day.”

Simplicity Parenting