December Daily - Loving the Stories of Christmas

I finished the final few pages of this year's album. This is usually a bittersweet process for me - it seems like I was just holding my prepped but empty album and then I blinked and Christmas is over.
I almost always end my album with Christmas Eve, which tends to be a quiet and peaceful evening for our family. Christmas Day is filled with lots of activity as we celebrate with both sides of the family and it's always been hard for me to try and include all of that in my book.

After my last post, all that remained was the Christmas Eve story. I originally added the "December 25" page that you'll see further below, but it seemed a little too much of a jump for me to place it right opposite the snowman story that I already shared. To bridge the gap between those two, I inserted a piece of vellum with a square photo on each side.
The right side photo was one I took while doing some shopping in Anthropologie earlier this month - they have such beautiful Christmas d├ęcor in their stores. I took several photos there, thinking that I could use them with stories that might be missing a photo to go along with them.

Here's the December 25 spread. I know that I wrote earlier that I end my album on Christmas Eve, which is the 24th and not the 25th but the different dates don't bother me. I tend to think of Christmas Eve and Day as one big celebration anyway. The photo on the left page was one I liked and wanted to include; it's the title to a favorite Christmas hymn and is a nice match to the calendar page.

The final spread includes the traditional grandparents/granddaughters photo and a photo that I took on our front porch looking inside through the window at our Christmas tree.
I slipped a piece of white cardstock behind the tree photo and used Ali's stamp set as a prompt for my journaling, which reads: 
"Loving that Christmas Eve day found all of us at home. Loving that the day was peaceful and unrushed. Loving that the girls were able to share the celebration with all four grandparents. Loving our little family traditions. Loving that we can feel the spirit of those no longer with us through our reminiscing of Christmas past. Loving that Alison and Sarah get very excited about giving. Loving the stillness of driving to 10 pm Mass. Loving that we sing "Silent Night" in a dimmed church. Loving the magic of Christmas."
The vellum banner and chipboard buttons on the left page were originally on the right side of that page; I carefully removed them and placed them on the opposite side. I included two chipboard stars for a little more detail.
The right page was not in my prepped album. I had a little creative fun earlier in the month embossing snowflakes on a variety of papers and liked how they looked on this patterned paper so I added it to my book. The page looked too plain to me with just the photo and journaling tag so I wound some white crochet thread around the page and tied  a "dream" tag onto the thread. I adhered a few white and silver embossed wood veneer snowflakes to finish off the page.
Here are a few views of my completed album:


It's about 2-1/4 inches thick and I like the twine, tags and other little bits and pieces that peek out from the edges.

This 2015 album will now join the rest of my December Daily albums (I have 8) in a drawer in our home office. I won't look at it again until I'm getting ready to start next year's album, when I'll take all of them out and flip through them. It's a fun way to kick off the holiday season - I love the memories that come flooding back as I turn the pages of the books. These albums are filled with little details and stories that I'm certain I would otherwise forget. This is definitely one of my favorite memory-keeping projects and I'm so grateful to have these special December stories told.

December Daily - Tags, Vellum and Envelopes

I've been using quite a few tags in my December Daily this year - they're perfect for journaling, add a little something extra as an embellishment, and are a great size for the smaller dimensions of my album.

This first spread includes two tags. One is a pre-made decorated tag and the other a plain white office-supply variety. There's also another tag from an earlier page peeking out on the left.
The opposite page is a vellum sheet on which I printed a free download from Ali Edwards. I definitely like the way the vellum just slightly obscures the page underneath it.
The full spread looks like this:
When I put together my pages in November, I intentionally added a glassine envelope because it would be a great place to hold any of the lists I usually include in my December Daily every year.  
I wrote my Christmas Eve dinner menu on some white cardstock, added a few stamped details and placed the paper into the envelope.
I used another tag on this last page. I made it out of a scrap of embossed paper, added some twine and slipped it behind my photo so that it pulls out on the left side.
Here's a look at the tag outside of the photo pocket:
My album is starting to get a little chunky - it's a good thing Christmas is just around the corner!

December Daily - Christmas Past

I don't focus entirely on the current Christmas season in my December Daily. Today I'm sharing a set of pages that are about a topic from my Christmas past.

As we were decorating our tree a few weeks ago, I unwrapped two pompom magnets that I now use as tree ornaments and I realized that I've never documented the story of how this came to be.



I'd eventually like to make a separate mini-album about all our special Christmas ornaments but for now I'm very happy to have this story included in my December Daily.

December Daily - The Usual Suspects

Today I'm sharing some pages that either appear in my album year after year or are about things we do year after year.

For several years now, my older daughter and I spend part of the Friday after Thanksgiving putting some of my snowman collection on display in my kitchen. 

I took photos of both her and the snowmen this year and added them to my album. I wrote my story on the front and back of a little tag that I just hooked directly on to the top binder ring of my book.

I also covered the insides of my album covers. I didn't like the look of the raw chipboard so I covered it with a blue snowflake paper - you can see a bit of it peeking behind the right page.

My next set of pages cover a topic that shows up every year - our family Christmas card. 
The left page, which has nothing to do with the Christmas card, is the back of the embossed Tiffany catalog that I used here.  I wasn't really sure what to do with the back but the "December gratitude" stamp from Ali's set inspired me to jot down some of the things for which I'm especially thankful for this year.

The vellum page on the right side is something that I made myself by embossing some snowflakes with white embossing powder. One of the advantages of having my album prepped and ready to go before December is that it gives me a little time if I suddenly get the urge to be creative. I really like the softness it adds and that you can still see a little of the card showing through.

Here's the front of the card:
and here's the back:
The right page was one of my favorites I'd prepped ahead of time here and thought this would be a good place to use it. I made a little shaker pocket out of a portion of a leftover page protector, wrote a quick note about the card, cut the note into a pennant shape and attached everything to the pre-made page.

Thanks for stopping by - hope you're having a lovely December!

December Daily - How Things Change

I've included pages in this year's album that highlight a couple of ways our Christmas preparations/celebrations have changed over the past several years as our daughters and the children in our extended family grow older.

One big difference is the way in which the girls make up their wish lists. When they were young, they would study toy catalogs and store circulars and, on more than a few occasions I was even able to steer them toward items I'd already purchased. Now they text or email their preferences to me, complete with links in many instances. 
I wrote the story on this "Santa's Ledger" page that I'd prepped earlier and paired it with a photo of one of our Christmas ornaments.  I like the way the ornament reinforces the theme of my page.

The opposite page features a bokeh photo of our tree that I edited with a little word art. This embossed paper wasn't part of my original album; I had been testing some embossing folders and this tree scrap happened to be handy. I liked the way it looked with my photo and so I added it to my album.
The complete spread looks like this:
I documented another change as well. The presents we exchange with my husband's side of the family have gone from completely filling our trunk (because toys tend to take up a lot of room) to fitting in a small gift bag (because those same children now prefer gift cards or cash).
I snapped a quick photo of the gift card envelopes, wrote my journaling on strips of cardstock and put them both together on the page.

On the opposite page, I wrote about the activities of a typical December day from earlier in the week using a noun - verb format.
The two pages together look like this:
  I'm glad I've got these little stories documented - what stories have you been telling lately?   

December Daily - Dear Me

Last time I talked about telling an unexpected story in my December Daily. Today I'd like to share a page that I include in my album every year - a letter to myself.

When I prepped my album pages in November, I made sure I included an envelope to hold the annual letter that I knew I would write sometime during December. The letter itself doesn't follow a particular formula - I pretty much just write whatever happens to come into my head when I'm working on this page. Sometimes I talk about the year as a whole, sometimes I talk about one particular event or topic. I might write about a struggle or about a hope. I might discuss the past or look ahead to the future. Sometimes I include all of these things.

After I wrote my note, I slipped it into the envelope, stamped "dear December" and a couple of hearts and inserted the page in my album.

I kept the opposite page just as I prepped it a few weeks ago.
This is what the complete spread looks like:
December is just flying by and my album is starting to get pretty full. I'll be back in a few days to share more pages - see you soon!

December Daily - The Unexpected Story

I've been doing this project since 2008 and my albums contain lots of traditional and similar pages. Our Christmas tree, certain decorations, wish lists, Christmas cards and menu plans have all found their way into my December Daily albums year after year.

But every year, I've also discovered that an unexpected story somehow finds me, a story that would definitely have gone unnoticed except for this project.

This year's story came to me one recent evening. I had just finished wrapping some presents and when I looked at them all arranged under our tree, the mismatched, leftover collection of wrapping paper caught my attention. I started thinking how nice it would be to have nicely coordinated paper and bows on our gifts for a change. And then I imagined a Pottery Barn decorated holiday home, complete with perfect Pinterest-inspired table settings which of course would hold our gourmet Christmas Eve dinner.

But then I remembered Christmas past and those memories, while fuzzy on the details about decor and menus, were very clear on the feelings of warmth and love from being with my family. And so these pages were born...

I flipped through my pre-made pages and decided that this one would be perfect for the first part of my story:
I didn't add a thing to it - the candy canes were from a Webster's Pages photo-realistic sheet of cut-apart cards. It definitely conveyed that "Pinterest perfect" vibe that would match the first part of my journaling.
I stamped a border around a trimmed piece of white cardstock, using the free stamp set I received for participating in Ali Edwards' Storytelling with December Daily class.  I then used a silver pen to make a little dot in between the stamped phrases and a lined border to separate them from my writing.
The back of that page holds the second part of my story, and at the bottom I added another stamped phrase and heart, along with a couple strips of silver chevron washi tape.

The fourth page contains a photo of the presents under the tree, which is what prompted this entry.
I'd already placed the "joy" tag on the page when I put my album together last month and I though it nicely captured the emotion of my story. 

Here's a look at the completed spread:

So that is this year's unexpected story. Maybe I'll find another before the Christmas season is over. Have you found any unexpected stories to tell lately?

Using Memorabilia and Ephemera in December Daily

I don't know if this happens to you but I've managed to accumulate a lot of "stuff" that I'd like to include in my December Daily album this year.

I've got packaging, postcards, stamps, catalogs and other little bits and pieces that are part of my holiday prep and I've been able to add them in to a few pages here and there. Here's how I did it...

I always choose the religious stamps for mailing our family Christmas cards and I have never mentioned this in my album until this year.
I added the cover of the stamp book along with my journaling and then stamped "the reason why" a few times on the page. Quick and easy - perfect for this busy time of year.
I used a glassine envelope from a gift card to hold a journaling tag:
I adhered a wood veneer snowflake ornament I picked up at Michael's - I embossed it to add a little sparkle to this page.

Every Thanksgiving weekend I attend a Christmas craft show and although I wasn't able to go this year, I still included the postcard advertisement in my album.
I added a cute circular piece of packaging from a Christmas candle to this page about a new ornament on our tree this year.
I just slipped the circle piece right over the binder ring. It still has a faint Christmas tree scent to it which is a fun bonus.
The woodgrain cardstock was left over from a practice session I had when I was learning to use a die-cut/embossing machine I purchased earlier this year.
 My daughter and I spent a fun December Sunday in New York City and as you can imagine I picked up lots of mementos of the day while we were there. 

I decorated a souvenir bag with embossed white cardstock, blue ribbon, silver washi tape and a tiny sticker. These were all part of my CKC December kit "Merry and Bright". I cut a partial circle out of the top of the bag and slipped a couple of collage photos and a pair of 3D glasses inside.
The left side of the spread tells the story of our trip.
I embossed a wood veneer frame (Michael's again) with a little silver tinsel and placed it over my favorite photo from our trip. These found a home on the back of the bag.
I'd added a little holiday word art to the photo. 
I still really wanted to use the cover from the Tiffany's catalog with its beautiful embossed snowflakes. I cut it down to fit my album, and covered the Tiffany name with a photo.
Behind the photo, I slipped a tag stapled with a little snippet of ribbon. The journaling on the tag is a reminder to myself to stop and savor the joy when I feel overwhelmed with all the hustle and bustle of this season.
Here's a look at the full two-page spread:
So that's what I've been working on lately. How has your December been treating you so far?

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