I'm passionate about documenting life in a meaningful way. Co-Creator of Little Paper Projects, Blogger at How I Sustain Blog, and Yoga Teacher at Renegade Power Yoga. Find all the links to all of my work at www.JulieLoveGagen.com.

All posts by julie

My Selfie Scrapbook: Lesson ONE

Hi Friends! Since we’ve updated sites and migrated old content, I wanted to reblog some of our favorite posts (like My Selfie Scrapbook) here on this site. It was a FREE class that a bunch of us put together in 2015. This is from Jen Lake’s old blog (now retired). Enjoy!

It’s hard to believe that since announcing the #myselfiescrapbook project last Wednesday, more than 250 posts have been shared on Instagram under the hashtag!! Each time I check in to the hashtag, I am blown away by the photos you are all capturing so please, continue to share, and continue to support other women in this adventure of self-love.

Today’s post – the first in a series of selfie suggestions – comes from Julie Gagen.  Julie might be the queen of the self portrait as she goes on her fourth month of capturing one photo of herself each day. You can find Julie on Instagram at @julieloveg and on her blog, here.


When I first started taking self-portraits, it was not easy. I didn’t know what I was doing or how to start and they all came out just as awkward and uncomfortable as I felt taking them. But slowly, over time, I got better at it. I learned techniques. I studied other self-portraits.

My moment of change came when I realized that self-portraits are so much more than just pictures of your face.

So this week, we’re starting the #myselfiescrapbook project by getting elemental about selfies. Literally. You’re going to take pictures of pieces of you: your feet, your hands, you favorite shirt, your hairstyle. And slowly, we’ll build up to a full self-portrait.

Here are this week’s challenges:

  • Start with your feet
  • What you carry
  • Let’s see those hands
  • Your favorite shirt
  • Jewelry
  • Your favorite hair style
  • Now let’s see you

Note | The challenge this week is for you is to get the camera facing YOU. You’ll notice all of my photos are taken straight-on, not from my perspective (you’ll have plenty of time for perspective shots later in this class). This was intentional. When the camera faces us, it forces a shift in the way we view photography, because the subject is no longer on the other side of the lens. And that change can be challenging, even when we’re comfortable on both sides of the camera.

My feet have spent a lot of time in winter boots this year. Even though most of the record snowfall in Boston occurred weeks ago, we’re just now starting to see our sidewalks again. So it gives me endless joy to have entered early spring: the season of bright yellow suede boots.

I’ve been working hard at the gym lately as part of a fitness challenge. It’s a great excuse to invest in myself and the results are paying off. So when I think of what I carry, this bag brings me the greatest joy.

My hands do a lot of things. They write. They type. They blog. They take photos. And when I want to give them (and me) a rest, my hands like to embrace a warm cup of tea.

My favorite shirt is a hand-me-down that’s circled around our family. I LOVE the colors and the design. And even though it’s several sizes too big, when I wear it I can’t help but feel happy.

I’m obsessed with this bracelet lately. Convinced it brings me good luck, you’ll see it on my wrist almost all the time.

Truth be told, my favorite go-to hair style is a bun. But when I went to take this picture, my hair wasn’t interested in being styled. So I let it be wild instead.

This week is all about getting comfortable in front of the camera. So now it’s time to bring it all home with a zoomed out timer photo of you. If it feels awkward, that’s fine: the awkward face makes it fun.


Julie is creating a digital 4×4 album to capture her photos from this project. Here are the pages created with the photos she captured using these seven prompts.

Happy creating, friends!!



The #myselfiescrapbook project is a month-long class created by Jennifer Lake and Julie Gagen. Full of prompts, free file downloads, and inspiration from contributors, the class is about self-love and documenting you as part of your family’s story. To join in making your own mini-album, check out all of the #myselfiescrapbook posts.


All the Love for Self-Portraits

FRIENDS. I’m freshly back from Story Camp with Ali Edwards and I can tell you – WOW. SO GOOD. I can’t wait to share the projects I made this past weekend. I can’t wait to share what I’ve learned and how it has shifted my memory keeping for the better!

But first, we need to talk about self-portraits.

One of our homework assignments for Story Camp was to bring a selfie. If you have followed me for any length of time, you probably know how much I absolutely *love* selfies.

Self-portraits tell us so much about who and where we are. I have used them over the years as a way to dive in to myself. To check in. To see where I’m at and work on being better.

At the start of this year, I did a daily self portrait project to help me work through depression (post-partum mixed with seasonal depression, not to mention the chaotic/depressive cultural zeitgeist at that time (right after the election)). It was SO HARD.

Thankfully, I know myself well enough to know that there is a way for me to work myself out of it. I’m a naturally mellow person. I live in a cold weather climate. I have life drama that drags me down, at times. So whenever things come my way, I know what I need to do to pick myself back up.

And I did it. Slowly. And I used self-portraits to help myself along. I’ll explain.

Self-portraits are a way that I check in with myself. You can fake all you want with friends and social gatherings, but when you’re with yourself, the camera doesn’t lie.

It tells the story in the subtle curl of your lips. In the water in your eyes. In the color of your complexion.

The answer is always there. If you know what you’re looking for.

So when I’m not myself, I use a daily self-portrait as a barometer for where I am. And I take it, no matter how imperfect or silly or strange it might appear to be.

And I keep going.

For this year’s project, I did a lot of face-on selfies because I knew what I was working with. And I knew I needed it.

So there you have it.

I have SO MUCH MORE to share. This is where we begin.






Love Where You Live: 2017 Edition

Hey, hey, ladies! I am SO super excited to be offering Love Where You Live again this year! First, a little background on this project.

Love Where You Live is a project that was in my mind, in concept, since 2012. I’ve done it on my own and share snippets online. In 2015 when we launched Little Paper Projects, we offered a FREE version of the course here on this site. In 2016, I revived it, added more videos and content, and brought it into a shnazzy course website. You can find that version here.

In 2017, we’re taking a new turn. Being home with a 1-yr old, teaching yoga, and managing all of my small businesses (seriously, you guys, sometimes I wonder what I got myself into!), I don’t have enough lead time to formally build this into a paid class.

Considering I’ve been doing this personal documentation since 2012, I knew I couldn’t let the year pass without some pictures and a simple book about home.

This year’s project is going to be super simple. It’s going to include four basic prompts, lots of “real-life” moments, and even some video! Again, it’s totally free. I’m not selling anything related to it, so this is just me, making a super simple book about home, and sharing it in our Facebook group. 

I’ll be making an 8×8 digital book because the square format will allow for some project life pages (if I want them) and some full page pictures to round it out.

I’ll set up a schedule next week and share it there. The prompts will be Facebook Live streaming  videos, probably on Monday of each week. Below those posts, we can have discussions, share info and favorite things, and maybe some separate posts sharing our work.

In the Facebook group, you’ll see a thread with links to some favorite kits, Q&A if you have any, and anything else you might want related to this class.

Class begins October 2nd.

Join the FREE Class Now!   


I don’t know about you, but I am SUPER EXCITED about this class! So grab a camera, a favorite kit, and let’s get documenting!



AE Story Kit | Details (Part 1)

Every month as part of my year on Ali Edwards’ Creative Team, I get the opportunity to work with the physical (and digital) products released for that kit and create a story-related project. 

This month Ali inspired us to work through the details of our stories. It’s a theme that has been on my mind lately, as Adeline approaches her first birthday. Truly, my hope it to capture all the littlest details of the things I love most about her at this age, to remember it for always and cherish her tenderness.

It’s funny: usually I open the kits and revel in each and every little embellishment and card. I hold them, individually, in my hands (usually hiding off somewhere because it arrives in the middle of the day when both kids are scrambling at my legs) and think of all the ways I can use it. I smile and think happy scrapbooking thoughts.

I know you think I’m joking. I’m totally NOT and, honestly, I know it’s a little weird. It’s fine. Ali’s kits legitimately bring me joy. 🙂

This month was different. Maybe because it’s my 8th month receiving the story kit, maybe it was just the frame of mind that I was in at the time, maybe it’s because everyone was posting about how much they loved the details kit already, or maybe it was because I LOVED last month’s theme Lost and Found SO MUCH that I didn’t think it would be possible to match it.

Whatever the reason, I opened this month’s theme DETAILS and thought “meh”. I liked the colors and the elements, but didn’t feel particularly excited about any of them. So I stored it off to the side and began building my pages.

As I listened to Ali’s words (for those of you who don’t know, the story kit comes with a video to help inspire you on how to use the kit and what stories to tell), everything shifted. And I paused and jumped right into another project, as if the connection had been made.

I dove into beginning Adeline’s baby book. And the layout that resulted from that was absolutely PERFECT because it captured exactly where I am in motherhood right now: rested enough to notice the little things, joyful enough to LOVE THEM SO MUCH, and grateful to have the inspiration to put the two together.

You can see the first layout in that album here.

Then I started building the DETAILS traveler’s notebook and the results, these pages, are just SO so good.

First, Here’s How this Kit Change My Perspective on My Life, Right Now

But what’s more, and I think this is really important, friend, the practice of noticing and documenting the details of my life made me realize something SO profound and incredibly important, that I totally cried tears of happiness as I put the stories to paper. I realized that sometimes the details that I notice about our lives are the messes: the bathroom that is never clean, the dirt in our entryway, the toys that are never, ever in place. Those details lead me to feel sad, frustrated, and honestly, unappreciated, overworked … and the list goes on.

But in this album, in this practice, I took the time to notice, photograph, document, and write about the details of our lives, right now, that I absolutely love. Things like baby sandals, and dirty toes, things like the handmade sculptures Max made that I will cherish for my entire life, and the little details that I hide away until it’s time to add to my scrapbooks. These are the details that make life right now SO UNIQUE and SO WONDERFUL and SO JOYFUL that I am forever grateful to have the time to put them on paper and love them as much as I do.

As you read this post, notice the stories I chose. The felt random for me, at first, but when I look at the complete album, I can see that I chose to document things that are current and things that show we are on the precipice of change in our family (with the upcoming school year). I appreciate this practice so much because I see that it’s more than pretty photos or cute layouts. This story kit, for me, is about celebrating the messy, crazy, fun, and offbeat life that we are living right now. And it is perfect.

This Month’s Book: All About Details (Part I)

This month’s book was SO on theme, it requires two posts. Here’s the beginning of the book!

The cover is some favorite patterned paper, folded in half and sewed in with the printed pages I made from the digital portion of this month’s kit.

The detail on the front is one the awesome plastic words that come with the physical Story kit. I absolutely love that piece of the kit every. single. month.

The first layout is about Max. He turns five and starts full day Pre-Kindergarten in a few weeks and I’m feeling both absolute BLISS to get him into school, and a slight bit of nostalgia, knowing that change is coming and I love that boy.

I took this picture of his feet while I was watching Ali’s video. He was playing a game on his iPad and I stopped to sit next to him.

Noticing the DETAILS of this Moment

Sitting next to Max, I noticed several things about that moment. First, that his feet now hung comfortably over the edge of the big white chair that seemed so big when we first bought it 4 years ago.

Second, that the bites and bruises on his feet were clearly a sign of his lifestyle: fast, always moving, and completely fearless. Third, that his favorite shoes are a pair of sandals we purchased at the beginning of the summer (that he has since worn out). Two months later, the tan lines on his feet are easy to see.

Lastly, that his toes are covered in dirt. No matter how many baths and beach days he has, they are always – and forever – the feet of an adventurer.

The Details About the Things We Keep

One of the awesome things about the digital kit is how you can move and shift the cards to be whatever size/pattern/tone you want. This next layout includes one of Ali’s kit cards, resized to fit in this book, and patterned paper from another card on the left. Both were edited in Photoshop Elements to achieve the size and scale that I wanted.

This layout is about the time we made these popsicle stick airplanes that I will cherish forever. I remember vividly the day he painted them.


The Details about the Details in our Home

It was about this point in the process when I realized I could use those awesome cork letters from Dear Lizzy to number each layout/detail story. I love LOVE the simple addition and how it came through on the page.

The Details About the Details I Used in this Album

I just really love this purple patterned paper. Add the numbers – and done. This is when my minimalism scrapbooker tendencies really come through.

The full layout includes stickers that I have had from Studio Calico for YEARS. And even though all the alpha “s” were gone, I made the layout anyway. Because they match. And because no one is ever going to physically pick up this book and be like “OH WOW. No plural “s”? That’s strange.”

These are the things I remind myself when I start nit-picking my work.

Done is better than perfect, friend. Done is better.

The gold paper on the right has a great texture. I was initially concerned that this felt a little plain, but if you look at it in real life, you can see the sheen (and the texture of the paper) is a nice touch.

Three details. And, you know, as I’m writing this, I realize Ali has a coordinating stamp I could have used. At the very least, I can definitely add the numbers 1, 2, and 3 to point out the details of this story.


And YES, I’m totally leaving you with a teaser. I’ll share the rest of that page, along with my story, in my next post.

Stay tuned!

Supplies Used:




Baby Girl’s First Year Scrapbook: Month 11

It’s both entirely hysterical and SO EXACTLY LIKE ME to start Adeline’s baby book at month 11.

You see, sometimes it takes a while for ideas to converge and take root. I tend to buy the supplies and wait days, weeks, even MONTHS for a project to fully form in my mind and come together. And this project, especially because of its meaning and how many different feelings I have about it, is exactly as it should be: months behind, informed by deep love and enough perspective to truly find joy in each part and piece that comes together.

Building a Baby Book

Friend, having babies is A LOT OF WORK. No joke. It’s enough to make them and have them grow inside your body. Towards the end, we build this anxiousness about giving birth. As if it will actually be easier once they come out. And maybe in some ways that is true. But for most of us, having the baby is when the work truly begins.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the lack of sleep, hours of feeding, and frenzy of constant care that you lose track of time. Of yourself. Of what you would like to do if you actually had the mind space to make it happen.

So when it comes to a baby book, it’s really easy to lose track of the days and months and find yourself, one or five years later, without anything to reference back to about that time when your kid was actually a baby.

That’s why I’m starting here, at month 11. It’s where I am. It’s where we are. I can always build backwards. But capturing this moment right here is SO SPECIAL. SO important. And SO exactly the point of a baby book to begin with.

I love every bit of this tiny human and I want her to know that.

So when Ali’s DETAILS story kit came out this month, I knew exactly what I wanted to put in her book, and I dropped everything I was doing to make it happen (this is literal – as in, I put Adeline on the floor, gave her something to play with, and let her tear apart my kitchen while I made this layout!) And it was totally worth it.

First, I picked the same Project Life 12×12 Faux Leather album by Becky Higgins that I used for Max, in a blush pink (I found this on clearance at Michael’s months ago). The page protectors are by Becky. The cards are almost entirely Ali Edwards. You can see a full supply list, with links, at the bottom of this page.


I added photos from this month – August – all of which happened to go really well together. Then I added small stars (part of Ali’s kit) that could be referenced in a larger writeup. Those stars also had matching circles + dots, so I used them as a reference to show which words went with which photo. This card is also from Ali’s kit.

Next, I added cards from Ali’s kit and the Project Life Fresh Edition, with its lovely floral prints and subtle patterns, it’s easily my favorite core kit. The “today’s details” is a sticker from Ali’s kit.

Then I started writing. I took to my computer and dropped in the “detail one”, “detail two”, and “detail three” stamps into Pages (the MS Word equivalent for Mac), and wrote descriptions of each of the pictures.

And this is the important part of this post.

How I wrote in My Words / Perspective

Writing to your kids can be HARD. I feel like sometimes I write with this undertone of “you’re driving me crazy” or “if only you cleaned up your toys” or something equally NOT super positive. To avoid that, I waited until I was in a super loving mood. I got myself into the emotional place where I felt so much love I thought I might burst, and then started writing.

The words FLOWED. It came together easily. I cried. And laughed. And couldn’t wait to put it all together.

I looked at the DETAILS of each picture. Her feet. Her hands. Her expression. Her outfit. Where she was. What she was doing. The moment at hand. And I brought it into each card. 

It is one of the most loving pieces of writing I have ever done. And I can’t wait to give it to her when she grows up.

Supplies Used

  • Project Life 12×12 Faux Leather album by Becky Higgins
  • page protectors are by Becky Higgins
  • Becky Higgins Fresh Edition
  • Ali Edwards DETAILS Story Kit




AE Creative Team | Eat Story Kit

Every month as part of my year on Ali Edwards’ Creative Team, I get the opportunity to work with the physical (and digital) products released for that kit and create a story-related project. As with all new adventures, usually it takes a couple of tries for me to figure out what I want to do and how I want to bring it all together.

And this month I figured it out.

As part of the Story Kit release, I’m creating a DIY Traveler’s Notebook out of a combination of printed digital pages (made in MS Word and printed on Matte Photo Paper) and the physical story kit. I add in digital stamps and create pages out of the stamps and cards, as needed. And the combination of mediums – digital/physical hybrid – coordinates into a small 8-page notebook that I absolutely love on that month’s subject, in real time.

This month’s story kit is focused on what we EAT.

Ali always offers prompts for the word – both through the story kit classroom and on the cards and stamps themselves. I’ll be honest – I usually don’t get to the classroom before I start creating — and that was especially true this month because EAT is something that is very much on our minds lately.

So as I pulled this album together, I realized just how many stories I had to tell.

And now I’m considering a second volume.

We’ll see.

For now, here’s my DIY Traveler’s Notebook for the EAT Story Kit — woo!


March 2017 EAT AE Story Kit

The first page was all about celebrating Adeline’s half birthday (hooray 6 MONTHS!) with an over-the-top 6-layer cake that I dedicated one full Friday night to.

It was worth it!

It all started when Max asked to go on Pinterest and look up craft ideas (as we sometimes do). Initially we were looking for Rice Krispie Treats themed for St. Patrick’s Day, but everything got tossed to the side when he saw the Minion cupcakes made with Twinkies.

Thus, the weekend cake party was born. And I spent two days making all the preparations.

The next story came from a facebook status I wrote at the beginning of the month – a half funny, half annoyed experience at Starbucks – when I got the best iced macchiato OF MY LIFE.

Then, there was the time that Chris and I – after basically a full year of never going on a date (because of my complicated pregnancy and, you know, the baby that came after 😉 ) we FINALLY snuck out on a spontaneous Friday night dinner when Max begged to sleep over his grandmother’s house.

I’ll share the full list of supplies at the bottom, it’s a bit of a hodge podge, but in the best way!

The last page was a typed summary of the experiences we had with food this month – eating with friends, going out to eat, and the experiences we have around food and meal time. And, of course, there is a bit on what Adeline is eating (which is changing, literally, every meal – she’s growing SO FAST, friend!).

This back cover style is becoming a favorite tradition of mine – to add a quote (in this case from Ali’s kit) to the back cover, and crop it down to size.

I am SO pleasantly surprised with how this project came together! It’s been such a joy to work with these supplies — I honestly have enough left over to add “eat” to my Project Life Album and still make another DIY traveler’s notebook.

And maybe I will … 😉

Supplies Used:


Happy crafting, friends!





One Little Word 2017 | Beginning + Daily Self Portrait Project

There is power in words. Words evoke feelings, emotions, they suggest deeper meanings and infer sentiment, context.

This is true in the words we use, in how we relay them, and how they are perceived by others.

You may have heard of Ali Edwards’ annual project One Little Word, a project fully dedicated to the expression and exploration of choosing a word, inviting it into your life, and exploring it in the context of personal growth.

I’ve been doing this project, in some form or fashion, since 2013. Here are my past list of words:

  • 2013 – Sustain
  • 2014 – Forward
  • 2015 – Cultivate
  • 2016 – Magic

Lately, I’ve noticed myself using a lot of negative words to describe my life. I say things like “well, it’s okay, but… (insert negative statement).” I can’t take compliments. And I find myself just .. grumpy. Unsettled. Not myself.

It’s winter here in New England, and most of us experience some form of Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), which is prevalent during cold, rainy months when people are trapped indoors and don’t have enough time outside. The lack of sun, the temperature, it can be hard on the soul.

Coming off a hard year (2016), I’m in need of a personal revolution of sorts. I need some serious time and energy invested solely in my own well-being, along with a dose of warmth, and more opportunities to engage, connect, and smile.

This year for One Little Word, I chose the word SECURE.

This Year’s Project

Because of where I am this year, because of how much I NEED a personal revolution, I’ve added several personal development layers on top of the OLW project itself.

You can read more about my personal project here.

This first layer, and the biggest inspiration for this project, is about feeling secure in my body.

I know, touchy subject, right?

But it’s just SO necessary for where I am right now. And if you want to learn more about that, you can read my opening letter to 2017.

In addition to some really healthy practices (like eating better + daily exercise), I’m doing a self-portrait project.

And I’m SO excited.

I’ve done one before. Back in 2015, I took a photo EVERY DAY for the entire year. For more on that, here is a post on my WHY from last time and here’s a small album My Selfie Scrapbook.

This year, it’s a different project for a different reason. But the goal is the same: one photo a day, a few words, a quick dip into where I am and how I am. It’s my way of checking in. Catching up. Tracking progress in a more telling way.

I’m adding in favorite quotes, tracking progress, and keeping it real. REALLY real.

For supplies, I’m again keeping it SUPER simple with whatever I have on hand: Canon Pixma printer, a traveler’s notebook, date stamp, my staedtler pens, some adhesive, and a black Archiver’s Ink stamp pad.

So that’s the beginning! Check back here regularly (weekly?) for updates on the project, my favorite layouts, and continued progress on this project.

Happy Documenting, friends!



December Daily 2016 | This is Us

This year I’m participating in December Daily, an annual documentation project run by Ali Edwards. The goal is to tell stories of Christmas each day in December. To capture the magic, the spirit, the essence of the season. To capture the excitement and anticipation of the holiday in the weeks leading up to the day. In 2016, this is the most exciting Christmas we have had in our family because my son Max is now old enough, at 4 yrs old, to appreciate the full magic of the season. Check back here regularly, all month, as I share the project in progress.

One of the things I wanted to add to this year’s album was a page all about our family: who we are, what we like, what we’re excited about. It took some iterations and some trial and error, but I finally landed on this template and I’m really happy with the results.

My hope is to update it every year with our ages, interests, and what we are most looking forward to. At the end of the day, on Christmas, we’ll hand write in the grey boxes with our favorite parts of this season.

I’m SUPER excited about it.

And I wanted to share it here so that you could do it as well.

You can download it here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzzdZ0YOWon-dUh1UVU1TGlfZ3M/view?usp=sharing

The template is a PSD (Photoshop) file. For next year, I’ll update it with a PDF printable that you can use as well.


Happy documenting, friends!




December Daily 2016 | Dec 1st

This year I’m participating in December Daily, an annual documentation project run by Ali Edwards. The goal is to tell stories of Christmas each day in December. To capture the magic, the spirit, the essence of the season. To capture the excitement and anticipation of the holiday in the weeks leading up to the day. In 2016, this is the most exciting Christmas we have had in our family because my son Max is now old enough, at 4 yrs old, to appreciate the full magic of the season. Check back here regularly, all month, as I share the project in progress.

Today’s pages mark the beginning of December, as we opened the month by decorating the tree.

Now I’ll tell you – I had ideas about how this was going to go. I wanted to establish a tradition around decorating the tree. After all, I had a tradition around decorating the tree growing up.

So when it came time to set it up, open up our box of decorations, and get to it – I was SURE it was going to be a magical family experience, where Chris and I exchanged smiles over hot cocoa and listened to Christmas music while we took turns helping Max decorate.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

First of all, we have a 3-month old baby and if there’s one thing I know about babies, it’s that they don’t care what your plans are.

econd, Max didn’t want to decorate the tree with us. He was TOO excited and insisted on inviting family over to help in the festivities.

Third, we don’t even drink hot cocoa – we prefer tea.

And you know what? I still had a great time. And so did Max.








December Daily 2016 | Part 1

This year I’m participating in December Daily, an annual documentation project run by Ali Edwards. The goal is to tell stories of Christmas each day in December. To capture the magic, the spirit, the essence of the season. To capture the excitement and anticipation of the holiday in the weeks leading up to the day. In 2016, this is the most exciting Christmas we have had in our family because my son Max is now old enough, at 4 yrs old, to appreciate the full magic of the season. Check back here regularly, all month, as I share the project in progress.

This is the first year that I finally understand what all the fuss is about with December Daily. Now that Max is four, and in preschool, every single day since Thanksgiving has been a exciting, anticipated step closer to Christmas.

This Project

I’m sharing my pages, as they’re finished, here on LPP. Most of the products used are a paper pad by American Crafts, a small assortment of embellishments collected throughout the years of doing this project (since 2012), and kits by Ali Edwards and the featured December Daily designers.

Today’s Story

The first story in this album is all about getting the tree. Every year since we moved to our little town, a tiny suburb on the edge of farm country, we have purchased our Christmas tree at a different tree farm. And every year we’re happy with the experience, but none of them were “it”.

That’s the thing about being in a young family in a new place: establishing traditions takes time.

But this year we found it. This is our place. And, without a doubt, our whole family is truly looking forward to coming back again and again for years to come.

We got the recommendation from a friend for a place just around the corner from a small farm that we’ve visited a few years in a row. It’s close to our house (a 10-minute drive) and we’ve been there before (it’s also an apple orchard), so we knew exactly where to go.

The trees are lined and placed in containers, so you walk through lines and rows of trees, large and small, skinny and fat, bushy and spiny: it’s all there.

Because of his excitement, we let Max choose the tree (with some parameters, like – it actually has to fit in our space… ). And Chris followed him as he ran up and down the aisles, while I hung back sneaking photos and hanging with Adeline (who was asleep in her carrier).

After we picked the tree, there was hot mulled cider to drink while we hung by a fire. Max roasted marshmallows. And we all snacked on their fresh cider doughnuts. There was also a hedge maze and farm animals to feed.

It was pretty awesome.

The Album

For my album, I’m making a loose 6×8 with 4 rings. I’m making most of my pages digitally, and incorporating the scrapbook paper pad I picked up at the beginning of this project. The digital elements are from Ali’s December Daily kits. I’m using bits and pieces from all of them depending on what each layout needs.

This tag was placed on our Christmas tree. After we picked it, we went for the doughnuts and camp fire while the guys working at the farm trimmed the trunk and prepped it for our car. They name the trees by the kids, which Max liked a lot.


These pages are printed on Canon Matte Photo paper (which is almost like cardstock) with the Canon Pixma printer. It does a great job, it’s affordable, and it’s archival quality.

I’m still so impressed with it.

One of the things I love about digital is that you can re-color the elements and cards to suit each layout. On this page, I changed the color of the word “holiday” and the corresponding card to match colors pulled from the above picture.

I made the plaid card and tree using elements found in this year’s December Daily kits.

This tag is printed from this year’s DD Main Kit. The circle star is from Kelly Purkey’s DD kit from 2015. I’m still using elements that didn’t make it into last year’s album and I love how easy it is to coordinate them year to year.


So there you have it! One set of pages done, MANY more to go. But as with all of the projects that I do, it takes time for me to find the method, the format, and the groove for each project. Now that I’m finding it, each page will move quickly.


Happy Documenting, friends!




Like what you see? You can find more from me at www.julielovegagen.com.