Technique: All About Me (AAM) Pages

Some people love creating All About Me (AAM) pages. Others really dislike creating them. No matter which side you’re on, an AAM page is something every scrapbooker should do as it preserves YOUR story.

What is an AAM page?

“I’m 46. I am a Virgo. I live in Kent. I like long walks along the beach at sunset. I like to laugh.”

While it reads like an online dating profile, this could be the beginning of a “list of facts” AAM page. Your page could be random facts about yourself or an examination about something you love, like, or dislike. So often scrapbookers focus on others (pets, family, children), but an AAM page puts the focus on you. And while it’s nice to have a picture of yourself on your AAM page, it’s not necessary – especially if the focus is on something you love, not specifically you.

Why do an AAM page?

Autumn Craig, from Love My Scrapbooking Ideas (www.love-my-scrapbooking-ideas.com) explained why she was starting a year long All About Me album project: “I lost my mother as a teenager and there is so much I wish I knew about who she was, what she aspired to be and what happened to her college sweetheart she had so many pictures of. Hopefully this album will help answer these questions for my daughter and give me a chance to reflect on my own life as well.”

Other reasons to create AAM pages

  • people constantly change – twenty years ago you might have listened to Top 40 on the radio, but today the closest you get to Top 40 is when you hear music leaking from your child’s headphones from her phone; your job, hobbies, and clothing styles have most likely changed also in the past twenty years.
  • people sometimes stay the same – When an acquaintance died a few years ago, my family helped sort and pack belongings. While I knew that our acquaintance was an avid photographer, I didn’t know that he had been taking photos since the 1940s. I also didn’t know that our acquaintance kept lists, dating back to the 1970s, of yearly chores – when the garage was cleaned out was noted along with putting up a new clothing line. While things change, sometimes noting what hasn’t changed over time is also good to remember.
  • technology changes – who would’ve thought about a phone that fits in your pocket (it sounds like something out of Star Trek) that is more than a phone (camera, web access, interactive maps) and how dependent as a society we’ve become on them. Do you have a microwave, food processor, or Kitchenaid mixer in your kitchen? Did you grow up with these labour saving tools?
  • leisure activities changes – as a teen you might’ve read “The Fountainhead” constantly, but now you’ve read more “Clifford the Big Red Dog” than you care to admit; a 2000’s date night could’ve been dinner and a movie and in 2017, it’s dinner and Netflix after the kids have gone to bed.
  • preserving the “right now” – a few years ago I listed some books and TV shows I was currently enjoying. My child came across that page and asked me, “Mum, have you even picked up that book series since then? And do you still watch those shows?” I had to honestly answer, “The book series I read four times. As for the TV shows, Amazon Prime removed two of them so I haven’t watched them since.” I should probably do another version of that page, just to show how things have changed.

How to do an AAM page

There are so many ways to do AAM pages:

  • Answer a series of questions
  • Make a list of favorites
  • Make a list of general currents
  • Pick a subject and write about your like/dislike of it
  • List “Top 10” currents or favorites
  • Make a list of a typical day in your life
  • Think outside the usual “tell me about yourself” questions – focus on things that make you YOU

Example of an AAM page

For this page, I took questions I answered a number of years ago and updated the answers. For the curious, these questions are based upon a template Cathy Zielske made a number of years ago (see Ali Edward’s version of the template here).

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(kit: Serenity by Wisteria Moments)

Where to find ideas for AAM pages

Do a search for “All About Me Scrapbooking” using your favourite search engine and be prepared for a lot of hits. A number of websites include questions, topics, and images of completed pages. Enjoy learning about others as you get ideas for your own pages.

Some suggested sites

30 “All About Me” Scrapbook Topics (Scrapbook.com): https://www.scrapbook.com/articles/3…rapbook-topics

Debbie Hodge: Tips for Writing About Yourself for Scrapbook Pages: https://debbiehodge.com/2010/06/tips…rapbook-pages/

Better Homes and Gardens: All About Me Layouts: http://www.bhg.com/crafts/scrapbooki…ut-me-layouts/

Technique: Storytelling

“Once upon a time ….”

That’s the beginning to many fairy tales – but that doesn’t mean that your scrapbook stories need to start that way.

How does one “do” storytelling?

There are a number of ways to do this technique and it’s a lot easier than you might think. Basically, tell someone what is happening in a photo. You can start by answering the 5W1H questions (covered last week) and then expand.

Here’s an example:

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This is a photo of some California poppies. They were growing in Aunt Jane’s side yard during the summer of 2015. I had to take a photo because they were so lovely.

That’s a great beginning – it covers the basics. It’s factual, you know what is going on. It’s a bit bland, but a stranger looking at the photo knows more information about the photo than just looking at it.

Why “do” storytelling?

Storytelling engages the reader a bit more than reporting. With storytelling journaling, you pretend that you are telling someone what is going on. The journaling is a lot more personal and engaging. There are generally three ways to do storytelling:

  • Tell someone the story
  • Tell the subject the story
  • Have the person tell you the story

Tell someone the story

If someone were looking over your shoulder (or you were looking over theirs) and they came across the photo you wish to scrap and asked you “what’s this” how would you respond? Probably you’d give more information than just the basics – especially if they asked additional questions. You can also add in a “story behind the story of the photo:”

Here’s an example:

This photo of the poppies growing in Aunt Jane’s side yard was actually a challenge to take. Poppies don’t spread out a lot but rather grow in bunches and they’re close to the ground, making them difficult to photograph. Kai suggested picking a few and photographing them inside the house, but Aunt Jane said she read that picking the state flower is illegal – if caught, you can get you thrown into jail. Wow, need to research that little factoid online, eh? (Summer 2015)

Tell the subject the story

This means literally writing directly to the subject in the photo, like you were speaking directly to them. Tell your subject your hopes and/or wishes for them – or tell them a memory they might have forgotten. Using “you” or “I” in your writing is very effective.

Here’s an example:

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How do I love you? Let me count the ways … Dusty, you are one of the most loyal dogs we’ve ever had. You also have the patience of a saint (how many dogs would allow a toddler to pull ears, paws, tail, and fur with just a resigned sigh?). You are protective without being aggressive about it (and with so many dogs in this area, that is appreciated). You’re friendly without being overly excited about it (thank goodness as not many people enjoy having a dog jump on them). You’re a water lover, but also rather enjoy being rubbed down afterward without a complaint. You love lying in the sun but will get up – full of energy – when you hear us come home from work. We love having you in our lives!

Have the person tell the story

This may sound a bit odd, but it’s another effective story telling technique. You could ask the subject to dictate the story behind the photo. You could also interview the person and write down the answers. Of course, if the subject is not a person it’s a bit difficult but you could imagine the subject telling you a story.

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This is a photo I found in Grandmum’s photo collection. She cannot identify this couple and there aren’t any notes on the photo. Who are these people? What story might they have to tell? We think this is a wedding photo – so this couple is starting their new lives together. What will their lives bring them? What adventures will they have? What stories will they have to pass to their children? What historical events will they be eyewitness to? So much promise – and untold stories – in this photo. I wish they could tell me!

Photos:
Poppies: Pixabay
Dog: Dan Gold from Upsplash
Couple: Pixabay

Technique: Freewriting

This is a technique often used by writers to get ideas flowing for stories. There is debate over whether this technique helps, but sometimes free writing can provide a nudge in a direction for journaling. Scrapbookers often don’t select a topic, per se, but instead look at a photo and just write what comes to mind for a certain amount of time.

How to Freewrite

  1. Get a photo you’d like to write about
  2. Set a timer and set it for 5-10 minutes. Make sure that you’ll be uninterrupted for that period of time
  3. Write whatever comes to mind
  4. Continue writing until the time runs out. Do not stop until that point.
    • Do not pay attention to grammar
    • Do not pay attention to spelling or punctuation
    • Ignore incomplete sentences
    • If you cannot think of anything to write, repeat the last written word until something else comes to mind
    • Just jot whatever comes to mind even if it’s not related to the subject/photo
  5. When the time ends, look over what you’ve written and see if there are any ideas you’d like to expand upon for your journaling for the photo.

Here’s the photo I used for this example:

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Here’s my free writing (for 10 minutes):

At the field. Metal bleachers. No coach. Of course. Friday practices are so often canceled last moment. Three kids here – including mine. waiting. waiting. Called coach – no answer. Of course, doesn’t recognize number. obviously. Do I cancel the practice – and if so when? Now 45 mins – suggest kids call their parents to pick them up. Traffic still rather bad in this direction. At an hour past time, two parents arrive to drop kids off. Flag one down. I’m canceling it – no coach and so few kids. Let a kid borrow my phone – thank goodness I brought it. Usually it’s plugged in the charger. Wind has picked up. Another parent decides to call the coach – again no answer. She texts coach. She left with her kid. Another parent took off, kid borrowed my phone to call parent. Parent ignores call – of course, doesn’t recognize number. Kid’s cell is in the car. With the parent. So, five kids at the field – one parent calls me back after listening to message kid left. Hand off phone. Hear kid being asked why wasn’t told about practice canceled when kid dropped off. Parent about fifteen minutes away. Thanks to traffic. traffic. The line to leave here is still really long – and it’s nearly 6:45. Parents started arriving – huzzah. Two pick up their kids and one offers to get another home. One parent decides to stay with the other two kids as the parents are on their way. I collect mine and we head off. Fridays. Not the best day for practices. Especially at this field. Not much else to do here either – as the footie players really want to use the outfield (and infield) when possible. In fact, the kids joined some of the footie players – kicking balls into the nets. Nice for the players to let them do that – as with only one baseball not a lot of throwing can be done among three kids (three way). Even more difficult with five kids. Let footies know no practice. I think one’s about ready to raise my kid into the air to celebrate. Which would’ve been a sight to see. In a month practices will all be at this field, so that’ll be interesting to figure out – but that won’t be my problem. Baseball for this league is over for us then. Metal bleachers. Cold. Especially at this field as only trees are near the dugouts and not providing a lot of protection from the winds sweeping down from the hills. Never forget a sweatshirt or jacket at this field. Always need one. Wish the bleachers had backs. That would be rather nice. Five kids. Luckily these are the nice kids from the team. Huzzah for that.

Looking over the writing, I noticed that it was basically a narrative of the event at the field. I decided that just reporting the facts (which I did in the free writing) wasn’t an interesting page, but putting a conversational slant on it could possibly work. So, with the free writing as an example, and mining for the interesting nuggets of a story, here’s the page I eventually came up with:

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Freewriting may not always work, but if you’re stuck about what to write for a photo it is a useful tool.

Photo: pixabay
Kit: Champions Collab Kit by Pixels and Design designers

Technique: Numbers

So many things in our lives are numerical – how many daily steps taken, miles driven, cost of groceries, percentage of phone battery remaining, missed calls, caloric content – the list is endless.

So, why not record some of those numbers in your life?

Some ideas:

  • Milestones (25th anniversary)
  • Date (birthday)
  • Age (30 things about me at 30)
  • Number of things over a day (steps taken; miles driven)
  • Time to do something (30 minutes from fridge to table)
  • Start/End time (marathon times)
  • Countdown (3-2-1 …)

Be creative as you want about this – did your family move about much as a kid – if so, in how many different places did you live? How many scrapbook pages did you create last year? How many countries have you visited? How many times have you listened to your favourite album? How many concerts have you been to? And don’t forget to include numbers that are important to others in your life!

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Kit used: Month in Review: April by Wisteria Moments

Tips: Using Others’ Words

Last week, we discussed some ways to use others’ words in your journaling (see “Journaling Isn’t Always Necessary” posted 14 JUL). This post gives some tips on where to find others’ words to use on your pages. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but just some suggestions of where to start on a topic.

Famous Quotes

Brainy Quote (https://www.brainyquote.com) has gathered a number of famous quotes. You can search by author or subject.

Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/) also has a number of quotes – some from literature, some from interviews, and some from movies.

American Film Institute (http://www.afi.com/100years/quotes.aspx) has compiled the top 100 quotes from American movies.

Song Lyrics

Lyrics (http://www.lyrics.com/) has a large collection of songs from numerous artists across a number of styles. You can search by lyrics, artist, or album.

AZLyrics (http://www.azlyrics.com/) has another large selection of songs across a variety of genres and ages.

LyricsFreak (http://www.lyricsfreak.com/) this site has a number of more obscure genres, however it’s best to only search for the artist or song.

Religious Quotes

Bible Study Tools (http://www.biblestudytools.com/topical-verses/) has a list of popular quotes on a range of topics.

Bible Study Tools (http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-versions/) also has different versions of online bibles, so if the quote you want isn’t quite right, you can see if another version in another Bible is closer to what you’d like. (This is an example of Revelation 21:21 from a number of different versions.)

Book of Mormon (https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm?lang=eng) has a full listing of the text for the Book of Mormon. Additionally there’s a search where you can enter a keyword for a particular topic.

Poems

Famous Poets and Poems (http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/) lists a number of famous poems by a variety of poets.

Recording Quotes

Kids, co-workers, partners, and parents often say the most interesting things. Write down some of their more humorous comments and use them in your pages as ways to point out their personalities. Don’t forget to include some of your own quotes, too.

Word Art

As mentioned before, many designers include word art in their kits. Don’t feel that you have to use their word art with only their kits – mix it up! Many designers offer both color and black and white versions of their word art, making mixing and matching a lot easier with other kits and color schemes.

Creating Your Own Word Art

Sometimes you find the perfect quote or saying but it doesn’t quite look right. Why not create your own version? There are many free fonts available online and a number of online tutorials and tips for creating word art.

Social Media

Even if you don’t have a Twitter account, you can access other people’s accounts and see what they are posting/tweeting. While a famous person may never do a “shout out” to you personally, they might make a comment you find interesting enough to copy onto a scrapbook page. Don’t forget about copying bits of blogs onto your pages. Don’t forget to give attribution!

Email and Texts

Often personalities shine through via the written word. Sometimes auto-correct makes for some rather amusing difficult to figure out emails/texts. If someone’s email (or text) means a lot to you, preserve it on a page. Ditto for those amazingly amusing emails and texts.

Technique: Currently

Tying in with yesterday’s blog post of “Project Life,” what about a page listing currents in your life?

This can be a page where you list some random things, such as currently reading, currently watching, currently wearing, currently driving, currently exercising, currently drinking – etc. It can be a simple list with some photos (or not). These can be listed on a journaling card or a page with a photo of you, the answers, and a simple title (“Now” or “Currently”).

If you don’t wish to use “currents” in your life, how about someone else’s – a child, your partner, or a pet?

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On social media, there are often hashtags for odd holidays – such as National Pineapple Day, Manatee Appreciation Day, and Flip Flop Day – and people sharing photos of them celebrating said holiday. Checkiday.com (https://www.checkiday.com/) lists holidays specific to each day.

So, for today (19 JUL) some of the holidays are: National Flitch Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, and Take Your Poet to Work Day. Why not take photos of you during the week “celebrating” one of these holidays or a holiday a day? It’s a fun little thing to do – there’s obviously a story behind the photo and even if you include a one-liner about the holiday, you’re preserving your memories with both a photo and some words.

Kit used: Hope by Wisteria Moments

Technique: Life Projects

While the title of this post might sound daunting, take a few moments and read through this. You most likely won’t be sorry you did and, yes, it does touch on journaling.

There are a number of “Life in a” projects out there – Day in the Life, Week in the Life, Project Life, Project 365. The hardest thing about starting a “Life Project” is, well, actually starting it and then actually completing it.

A few years ago, an idea started for taking a photo a day, compiling the photos into a scrapbook or photo album, and adding some notes throughout the week, you’d have a complete photographic record of what happened in that year. Templates and monthly kits with word art for days, months, & numbers were created, and people really liked this challenge. However a number of people commented that taking a photo every single day became difficult – especially when “there was nothing to photograph.”

Then someone came up with the idea of changing it from taking a photo a day to instead taking random photos during a week. Seven pictures sounded easier, but then people wanted to summarize their weeks – so sometimes a week could have more journaling and fewer photos. This became more of a snapshot of a typical week, but sometimes there was focus on the “bigger” events of the week. Designers began creating templates and additional kits (now week dates for the year).

But some people decided that while a summary of the week (or month) was fine, what about a closer examination of what really happened during a typical week – what about a trip to the grocery store, a regular routine, or a trip to the dentist/doctor? In other words, those literal everyday moments of life. So, the idea of an intense look through photos and journaling was created for a week and, eventually, an hour-by-hour examination of a day. These projects (A Day in the Life and A Week in the Life) are for limited specific times and done usually once a year.

Two other projects became popular – Daily December and 30 Days of Thankful. Daily December was created to highlight the traditions and events of the December holiday season – giving another close-up look at daily holiday-related activities, such as wrapping presents, buying food, preparing food, and holiday traditions. 30 Days of Thankful is held during the month of Thanksgiving (November in the US & October in Canada). Each day a photo of something/someone you’re thankful for is taken and some journaling explaining why you’re thankful for that thing/person. These two projects are often shared daily online.

If you’re on the fence about any of these “life” projects, here are some benefits:

  • Quick (Week and Daily) are for a short specific amount of time.
  • There are no hard fast rules – if you choose to do Day in the Life and choose to take photos once or twice an hour, do so – if you want more that’s perfectly fine. If you skip an hour, make it up.
  • It’s a self-contained project that can go into a photo book.
  • It can be worked on over time – some people have gone back to older photos and created Monthly summary pages

Some negatives are:

  • People can lose interest quickly.
  • Every day seems the same, so why bother continuing?
  • You can get behind with photos and preserving stories.

Some people who do Life projects are some of the “big names” in the scrapping industry:

Ali Edwards http://aliedwards.com/blog – is mainly a physical scrapper. She creates products and uses them in her projects. While she may not have invented some of her projects (Daily December, Week in the Life, and Day in the Life), her name is synonymous with those projects. She has video overviews for how she sets up her pages for projects. She did a Week in the Life in April 2017 & a Day in the Life in June 2017. Do a search on her blog for her Daily December 2016 videos.

Becky Higgins http://beckyhiggins.com/ has a company, Project Life, that provides a lot of inspiration and products for doing Project Life. Becky is credited with creating the term “pocket scraping” which literally means slipping photos and journaling cards into pockets on album pages. There are templates and kits available for purchase (both physical and digital) – and they also have an app available. There is a free digital starter kit available, too. Do a search on her blog for video tutorials and her tips for doing project life (from organization, selecting photos, journaling, and printing pages).

Cathy Zielske http://www.cathyzielske.com has posts of monthly summary pages and offers a class related to Project Life, including tips for how to organize photos for the projects. Do a search on her website blog to find more information.

Although this is an example from a Year In Review page, this uses a Becky Higgins Project Life template and includes journaling bits for the year:

If you decide to delve into a Project Life project, enjoy it. You could have a week that is purely photos with maybe an occasional caption or, if more words are needed, you can make notes on a journal card. If you decide that a Project Life project is not for you, do visit one of the sites listed above because, honestly, all of those designers have rather interesting sites.