Monday, December 30, 2013

A month-in-review : a free online class by guest contributor Janet !

Season Greetings from a very cold and snowy Pennsylvania, USA!

My name is Janet, although most online scrappers know me as "Cherrypicker". I go by either- LOL!

The lovely Isbaha asked me to jot a few notes regarding my Month-in-Review Album ‘system’. I call it a ‘system’, because it really is a step-by-step process that I have used for the last 8 years to record the everyday life of my little family.

My Month-in-Review (MIR) album started out of necessity. In 2006, doing my scrapbook consultant days, I found myself feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated because I felt too many of my ‘current’ memories were getting pushed aside due to the fact I was focusing a lot of my time scrapbooking ‘older’ stories. I knew there had to be a way to combine both.

One day I saw a television episode that showcased this very concept by Heidi Swapp. She simply used an actual calendar page on the ‘left side’ of a layout and photos from that same month on the ‘right side’ of the layout. Bingo! That is exactly how I did my very first MIR album. And thru the last 8 years, my format has changed, but overall the process is the same.

Now, 8 years later, I can wholeheartedly express my love for my MIR albums. They are by FAR my family’s favorite album. And for me, the biggest change for me is that pesky ‘being caught up’ guilt is GONE. I no longer have that feeling because as the month ends, I record my memories for that 30-31 days and call it good. I still will go back and ‘creatively’ scrap the major events and trips, but in my mind, if that 2 page spread is ALL I ever get done for that month and for that period of time - I am covered.

It truly has been so freeing and so rewarding to scrap using the ‘month-in-review’ concept. Not to mention saving time and money.

If you think this may be something you would be interested in, below are some of the basic steps to get you started completing a MIR album of your own.


Getting started: I have to state that my number one all time tip to doing a MIR album is to PLAN the WORK, and then WORK the PLAN. Sounds simple, but it does take some time and planning. After that, the rest is easy and fun. Just follow along the checklist, doing and completing one at a time. It may take several weeks to complete this entire checklist, but that is fine. Work at it now, and when the new year arrives, you will be all ready to go!

….and with that being said, please note that I am sharing ‘MY PROCESS’ for this type of album, but please make it your own and change whatever you wish. This is just works for me and has for 9 years. I recently completed my 2014 MIR album using this same checklist.

Month-In-Review Checklist:

1. PICK THE SIZE of MIR album you want to complete.
I suggest a 12x12 due to the fact you can create a nice spread using that size. Smaller than 12x12, it may be difficult to work with.

Purchase the best you can afford, because you are thinking LONG-TERM. Also consider what will be available in the future if you are like me and want ‘matching’ albums.

Pick a color that fits your family or pick a new color for each year. Have fun with it, or like me, my MIR albums are all black. Again, consider what will be available in the future.

Divided page protectors are NOT an option because they require too much planning. Remember, this is an album will be ‘creating’ ahead of time, so go easy and simple. Again, purchase the best you can afford, think long-term.

Here is where the thinking starts. Think about what you want IN your MIR album. Maybe you just want 12 month spreads, and that is great. But also think about memorabilia. Do you want to include that as well?
If you want to follow my personal process- I use 20 page protectors. That is enough for 12 ‘month’ (2 –page) layouts, a title page, memorabilia  pages and an ending page.

Consider HOW, WHEN and WHERE you will be printing your photos. We will touch on this later, but start thinking, start taking notes. And also, when deciding on your sketch, you will need to whether the photo size you pick, are they do-able at home? Will you have to send out for them ? How long will it take for you to upload them? How often will you be able go to store to pick them up? To make this album easy and fast, you will want to plan for these things now.

This is the area where you will probably spend the most time in the beginning. The KEY is to find a sketch (I always use a 2-pager) that will work for ALL 12 months. Find a sketch that you LOVE and are excited to use for ALL 12 months.

Yes, back to school time. You need to create an outline of what your album will consist of. Don’t worry- this is a simple outline. This is to help plan your papers, cardstock and embellishments.

Example : Here is my album outline

- Title Page
- 12 months ( 12 – 2 page spreads)
- Memorabilia ( 7 – 2 page spreads)
- End Page Pocket
- Embellishments
- Month Titles
- Journaling
- Extras (ex: photo corners, punches needed, etc.)

See, that is simple. Just write this on scratch paper. Nothing fancy. Keep it handy.

This is decision time. Start gathering your cardstock, patterned papers. Shop your stash, use what you have. You don’t want to wait for an order to come. Pick what YOU like. You can choose all florals, change papers per season, use pastels, use neutrals, stick with a certain brand, use a favorite collection, etc. Pick what you like. There are no rules here. Pick more than you need.

Now with outline, start jotting notes as what papers/colors you are using for each item on your outline. Make sure you plan enough papers. Start with your Title page and work thru your album. Plan your backgrounds. Look at your sketch and ‘plan’ how much paper it will take to ‘complete’ the sketch too. Plan for your memorabilia backgrounds-if needed. Also, plan what papers you are using for your embellishments, and journaling blocks.

TIP! One year I used the front and back of my cardstock for my 12 month spreads. I don’t recommend doing that. It was too complicated and I also ended up doing what page upside down. Now, I use a separate sheet for each 2 page spread.

This is OPTIONAL, but for each ‘month’ spread, I have the month showing somewhere other than the journaling. Again, this my process.You don’t have to do this, but since it is a MIR album, I think it adds a nice touch. If you are using letter stickers, pull them all out now and PLAN for each month because it takes a lot of letters for each month. Die-cutting your months is a cost-saver.

Notice we have NOT started cutting into our papers yet, here is why. Now is the time to do a ‘trial run’ of our sketch. Pick some old, unwanted, scraps of papers from your stash and make a ‘mock’ layout using your sketch. Take notes along the way. You can use blank cardstock for your photos. Take notes along the way and to what sizes your papers are. Write measurement right on your scraps. See what is working and what is not working. Make changes as needed. When you are happy with your finished ‘trial run layout’ and love the results, snap a picture or two. Make sure you are keeping notes of anything you need to remember, placement, etc.

TIP! Don’t skip this trial run ‘mock’ layout. Take notes. You don’t want to make mistakes when cutting into that expensive patterned paper. Trust me.

For you visual type scrappers, here are some pictures of my 2014 MIR album for the above steps: 

For my 2014 album, I am using the MME:Collectable- Unforgettable line.

Here is my cardstock: all planned and ready to go. The vanilla cardstock is for my backgrounds (title page and month spreads) and the turquoise cardstock is for my memorabilia pages. The 8 ½ x 11 is for my journaling.


Here are my month ‘titles’ all cut out and run thru the Xyron.

TIP! If you use your Xyron for prepping your album, keep everything in a SEPARATE baggie and THEN place in page protector. Xyron strips as seen in this picture will mess up a page protector very quickly. Learn from my mistake years ago. Yikes!


My ‘TRIAL RUN’ layout. Using my chosen sketch, I used older papers to make a mock layout to see if it WILL WORK for me before cutting up my precious pattern papers. I did have to make a few adjustments, and that is okay. Here is my final ‘trial run’.


My ‘trial run’ embellishments.


I even ‘planned’ where a label sticker will go.


A close-up to see my chicken scratch, I mean my notes….LOL. Making notes is important.


Back to the Checklist :

This is a big step. Use your outline, use your sketch and use your notes to make sure you are ‘measuring twice’ and ‘cutting once’. Take your time! Consider using batch cutting-meaning cutting for all 2 month spreads at a time. For example: If you need a 4-inch strip for each month- cut ALL 12 at one time. Sort into piles for assembling later.

Now that you have everything CUT, time to assemble and see the magic happen. Referring to your Sketch and Notes, work on a month’s spread at a time. Work on Jan, then Feb, then March...and so on…If need be- using a pencil, lightly write on the back of the layouts to keep in order. I sometimes have to write (top) and (bottom) on the backs because sometimes it can be confusing without any photos. Assemble as much as you can- you will NOT be able to assemble everything, and that is okay. What you can’t adhere at this time, keep in a marked baggie/envelope.

Using the cardstock/patterned papers that you planned, start making your titles.Think how you are going to adhere them to your layout. For a quick process, I run all my month letters (look below for visual) thru my little Xyron- one month at a time. If your sketch allows, and you can adhere your titles to your spreads without any further papers, photos, etc. Go ahead and adhere them now-if you wish. If not sure- then don’t! You can easily adhere them each month-that is what I do, just in case I need to shift my sketch a little.
Time for some more visuals, to help you 'see' the process.

Here is a picture of my papers cut and into piles. Doesn’t look like a lot…ha! But it will later.


A close-up of all my border-punched strips.


A look at what my month background spread is like.


A 4 month-grouping of my spreads. I did them in this order, and repeated 3 times. This shows Jan-April. May-August looks the same as well as Sept-Dec.


All 12 months done and awaiting patiently for next step..ha!


My border strips and my embellishment punch outs.


And finally, a look at my finished, prepped, planned, adhered, notes-ready month spread will look like. This is my January 2014 spread. All ready to go. Just makes me happy!


Okay, time to finish this MIR Album.

Now we will make ALL of our Embellishments. Not just plan then, but make them. For some of you that means cutting them, others that means punch them. Either way, get them ALL cut, made and ready for ALL 12 months. Plan for a few extras for your Title and Ending Pages too. Place in labeled baggies for use later on.

TIP! If you are using bulky embellishments, take in consideration of placement on sketches. Any bulky embellishments placed in the SAME place for 12 consecutive layouts will cause a huge bump/lump in your album. Consider switching them around every month or couple of months to avoid this in your album.

Now that you have your foundation pages done and you know where your journaling will be, it is time to plan for that as well. Plan/cut your journaling block if using a MAT. If you will be using journaling strips, just place your cardstock in each month’s slot. If doing hand-written journaling, plan for some mistakes-cut extra journaling blocks/strips. If computer-journaling, plan your FONT, size and make note of it. I generally create a text box in Word when I do my first layout (in Jan.) and then I SAVE it for use the rest of the months.

TIP! What will you write about each month? Plan this now. Pick a journal or calendar and jot down a few (or a lot) of what happens during the month. Don’t skip the journaling part of this MIR Album. Down the road and for years to come, you journaling will be just as important as your pictures.

Time to construct your Title Page and Ending Page- if you so wish. Use your leftover paper scraps and embellishments. Make it your own. Get creative!

If you are including Memorabilia in your Albums, time to get those pages done too. Again, no right or wrong way to do this- it is up to YOU. Do what you like. Use your leftovers for this. And I usually only ‘decorate’ the lead-in page and then the rest are blank. Reason-being, most of it will get covered with my memorabilia so no sense wasting papers/embellishments.

TIP! keep extra left-over pictures you didn’t use for the months. When I have a gap/hole in my memorabilia pages, I use my extra photos to fill in these spaces.

Start thinking now/make a note of when you PLAN to print your photos. Doing this right at the END of EACH month is great. Your memories are fresh and it keeps you motivated to get your pages done. Set a GOAL, and try to meet that goal each month.

By now, your Month-in-Review (MIR) Album should be done! CONGRATS! At this point everything you need for EACH month should be packaged/bagged/slipped into a page protector and ready to use. Give your pages/sketch a quick view. Is everything that you need? You should have everything other than your pictures and journaling. If you are using a special tool or product-make note of it. You won’t remember this come January, or when it comes to work on your album.

Place your album in a safe spot.

A few more final pictures of the process :

My Memorabilia lead-in page. I only ‘decorate’ the first page.


All 12 months placed chronologically in page protectors in album; labeled, bagged with notes and ready to go.


All extras and leftovers are bagged and placed in (or near) album for easy future access.

Now sit back, enjoy a tall cool one (or a hot one at this point) and pat yourself on the back! You now have a COMPLETE ALBUM planned for your 2014 (or whatever year) pictures and memories.

YOU DID IT !!!!!
Many warm scrappy smiles,



Here is a list of memorabilia examples. There are tons of items you can place in your Month-In-Review (MIR) album. There is no rule. It is great having a place to ‘store’ all those little tidbits from your everyday life and for events/places where you just don’t have any photos. Even if you don’t plan for memorabilia pages into your MIR Album, Envelope Pockets are a GREAT product to help you ‘store’ this too. Becky Higgins has a great 12x12 envelope pockets that works great for this. These envelope pockets are readily available on Amazon.

Memorabilia listing :
  • Invitations
  • Postcards
  • Pressed pennies
  • Ticket stubs
  • Business cards (it is FUN to include family/friends cards as well)
  • Airline passes/tickets/etc
  • Obituaries (I know sad…but it is a way to have them preserved)
  • Event/Concert/Movie Ticket stubs/Admission passes and tickets
  • Clothing/Brand labels
  • News Headlines
  • Brochures/phamplets
  • Vacation memorabilia-which can include just about everything
  • Business letterhead/Office memorabilia
  • Envelopes with your address/Stamps
  • Kid’s stickers/little bits of their life/stage
  • Graduation/Birth Announcements
  • Restaurant napkins/place settings
  • Special handmade cards/cards in general (if you have too many, either only include a couple or cut a small  section of the card to include)
  • Children’s handwriting- this is important and FUN. Do this every year.
  • Spouse/Family/Friends Handwriting and YOUR handwriting as well.
  • Receipts- I like to include a gas and a grocery receipt every year (but remember-these fade SO quickly-so copy if you want to really preserve these receipts)
  • Membership cards
  • Used gift cards
  • Gift tags with handwriting
  • Sample of your yearly Christmas/Holiday card that you sent
  • Favorite scrap product labels
  • Handwritten notes/love notes
  • Non-winning lottery tickets
  • Sport/Dance/School/Music programs
  • Christmas paper sample
  • Children's Artwork/drawing
  • Newspaper Articles (keep newspaper items in a separate protector)
  • Actual pay stub/driver’s license/personal info *(use as well, but be sure that they do not show ‘too’ much information,‘hide’ in protector if necessary)*


Thank you so much to Janet to share her process ! Isn't this class really amazing ?! Janet is the best scrapbooking teacher ever, so sad she hasn't any blog...
Thanks to her wonderful class, here is my own MIR album ready for 2014 :

Thank you Janet! That is amazing. I have done my own Month in Review album and have to agree with everything written here. Being organized ahead of time is key. This year, I am doing a Project Life album - my 3rd one! For me, this means I do a layout per week of photos of my family's everyday life. Most weeks I do a two page layout, but it can be more or even less. I keep my pages very simple with minimal embellishments and did the album digitally. For me, that was the trick to making it come together. For this weeks challenge I did my final full week layout for 2013.


Now it's your turn ! What will you review : will it be the year 2013, a past month, holidays, a child's first years, or perhaps like Janet will you plan an entire album for 2014 ? 

 (If so, you only need to link your "trial layout", as only one week won't be enough for the whole process !)

AND to celebrate the new year, there will be a PRIZE... More about it soon !


janet said...

Isbaha- Thank you so much for all your kind words. This really is a fabulous concept. So easy to do- it just take a plan and some time. The BEST motivator is recording your memories as you ar LIVING them. And so do-able in a monthly format. Thanks for partcipating in the 2014 MIR Round. You are a VERY talented scrapbooker and a great resource for inspiration!

I pray that this process helps others. It truly is FUN, do-able and oh, so-worth-it! Warm Smiles ~ Janet

Stacey said...

Janet is an excellent teacher! She's helped so many of us get our albums ready for 2014.

Fleursbydesign said...

Awesome information thanks for sharing :)

janet said...

Stacey- GREAT sketch, awesome layering and just wonderful that you have this ALL ready to go. In just a few short weeks you will be filling up your album with precious memories and moments. It does not get any better than that. Thank you for being such a bright spot in our class!

shutterbuggin said...

Having a blast working through Janet's steps. I linked my January layout.