slowing working through 2011

I’m on page 186 of our 2011 album…with 4 more months to go. Yikes. It has to be done this week…self imposed deadline. I pretty much always meet deadlines, so that means very soon our album will be done. I may wait a bit to order it though – in case a better discount code comes up. This book is going to be crazy expensive. I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite pages, and then give you a little info on how I am creating mine this year….

A few pages…these are set up for a 12×12 book. Big Book!

  • I am trying Blurb for our family album this year. I’ve used MyPublisher in previous years, but those books are limited to 100 pages. I was very happy with MyPublisher, but I really want the whole year in one book. MyPublisher has much better discount codes and coupons than Blurb, but I’m hoping the extra cost will be worth it in the end to have my whole year in one book.
  • I am designing my pages in Photoshop using the Modern Family Album Template from Design Aglow. I tend to tweak the layouts to fit my pictures.
  • First step, I select the photos I want to use on a spread (the two facing pages) and then I select the layout that best works with those photos. Then I do any editing on the pictures and place them into the templates. Finally, I save the page and add it to my Blurb book software. I’m going spread by spread…month by month. When I used MyPublisher I just used the layouts that came with the software.
  • In 2010, I tried to design each month as the month ended. I stayed with it until March. I so wish I could stick with that plan now. It would be much easier than doing it all at once.
  • I am doing a big 12×12 book because I like big pictures. I take A LOT of photos….THOUSANDS each year. I don’t want them tiny just to save money. It is an investment each year, but one well worth it to me. I’d rather have great photobooks for my family to enjoy than the latest whatever is cool gadget.
  • I am doing photos only. I might hand write some text later. Right now it takes me several hours to do one month. If I tried to include dates and captions, I’d never get them done. I figure pictures in chronological order with no text is much better than no albums at all.
  • Originally, I really wanted to turn my blog into a book this year. I tried a few times to get started but it was just overwhelming. I write a blog post basically every weekday…that is a lot of text…a lot of pictures…a lot of content to deal with….so I gave up. I’m hoping someday there will be blog to book option that is easy to use and mimics the wording and picture sizes of my blog. Not to mention, the whole resolution for blog pictures is different than was just too much. I do think I am going to turn just my posts related to our adoption into a book…thinking Little One might enjoy reading those one day.

Update: I got the Blurb email today…with this code: – “we’re offering 20% off when you spend $100 or more or 25% off when you spend $150 or more if you order before July 31, 2012. Use the promo code UNION at checkout.”

Guess I get to order this massive book very soon!

So that is it for today…I am chained to my computer getting this album done. Oddly enough, there is a little kitten whose company I’m enjoying while I work. I’ve been sending my sister and Chris pictures of Poppy sleeping….Lesley said I am becoming a cat person. I think she is right.

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  • Alyssa - I have two cats and my husband makes fun of me for taking so many pictures of them sleeping. Sleeping kittens are so cute though! πŸ™‚

  • AshleyAnn - Alyssa – They are so cute! I had no idea that cats sleep in the most random places and in strange positions. She cracks me up.

  • Freya - These pictures are amazing. I wish every child could grow up and see such amazing photos from their childhood! So pretty πŸ™‚

  • Andy - you have inspired me to continue to work on mine and get caught up. love the layouts of your book. good job, they are so much fun when they come in. πŸ™‚

  • Andy - oh and i love that the first couple of pages you posted love lots of little feet in them πŸ™‚

  • Debbie C - Your book is going to be gorgeous! I kind of like the idea of no words, often you don’t need them b/c the pics say so much themselves. Thanks for reminding me that it’s not about cost (I tend to look for low cost) but about making it the best.

  • Janine - I was wondering if you’d share how you organize all of your photo files on your computer. I take a bunch of pictures (not nearly as much as you) but I don’t have a good organization system to go back and find them all when I want them. Thanks.

  • Danielle - I’ve used Blurb every year for about 4 years now and love it! Although I use their software. Never thought about using a template in Photoshop! Intrigued by that idea. I’ve not even started mine yet! Eeek!

  • Lori - Love the pics. love the book idea! hello. love that you are now a huge animal lover like myself. (okay – took liberties)
    I am just trying to get pics uploaded and off camera cards…so next year is your book and next year – I have photo books…thanks for inspiring me. :0) the things we mothers do!

  • Natalie @ TheShadyAcre - You are inspiring me to quit procrastinating and go make our 2011 book! It is overwhelming. I have a question: Do you print a book for each child, too?

  • AshleyAnn - Natalie – nope, I print 2 copies. One for the coffee table for the kids to look at without me hovering and telling them to be careful. That copy is their’s to enjoy. The other copy is tucked away safely. I guess when I’m gone they will have to fight for them πŸ™‚ I would print a copy for each, but when I think about 5 books a year for 18 years…we’d have to build a library!

  • AshleyAnn - Janine – Here is a very old post on how I organize photos…my process is still very much the same:

  • Rach@InHisHands - What a book that will be! I LOVE that it’s big and filled to the brim with goodness – so worth the time and $$! I need to get on that.

    Praying for you as you wait for your sweet girl to come home. Soon.

  • Alice H - I know just what you can do in ALL of your spare time!! (Like you have any, right?!)
    You could create the program for making your blog into a book. Get busy! LOL!!

    I think the adoption book for Little One would be a beautiful gift for her.

  • Jamie - Thank you so much for sharing your layouts/suggestions! Your book is going to be amazing!

  • MixedMolly - It’s so tempting to go back and start making a book from the beginning of our family…but that’s way too overwhelming. I am just going to start with the current year. Thanks for sharing more info about your process. Great pages so far!

  • Amy - I have long followed your blog, but this is my first time commenting πŸ™‚ hello from MN! Just wanted to tell you I love Blurb! (and I think you will too). Their ImageWrap covers are GORGEOUS! Hope you’ll share how your book turns out!

  • Leigh Ann Hasley - Hey, I used MyPublisher for years, too. But, I just put my beach pictures together from 2011 using the 8×8 option using BLURB and the quality is better and way cheaper. Now to get my 2011 family album finished and it will be a blurb, too.

  • sonya - i used blurb to do my instagram album and really liked the interface. i don’t usually comment on your blog but i am an avid visitor. i so appreciate the time you take to really mother your children and spend quality time with them. so often i meet mother’s who are on a mission to get their children grown up as quickly as possible so they can go back to their “peace and quiet.” as a single woman, who hopes to marry and have children, i find that attitude disturbing. the time you have with your children now is so precious because soon they will fly the nest. i’m sure that parenting isn’t always easy for you but i am so encouraged every time i read your blog and see that you are striving to be a loving, godly mother to your children who treasures the time spent with them now. many blessings!

  • Nicole - I really need to try out blurb books. As a scrapbooker, I’m always trying to scrapbook my photos but I have too many photos & not enough time to scrap anymore.

  • emmybrown - I love seeing your process to get these photo books done. Very inspiring! Someday……

  • Abby - I have used Blurb several times…I have always been very happy. Your book looks amazing so far!

  • Big D & Me - We’ve used blurb for several years for our yearly books and really like the final product.

    Firecracker looks so little in the picture in her room – how time flies!

  • Jenny B - Hi! I’ve followed your blog for quite a while. I love how you photograph your children. You’ve inspired me to change the way I photograph my own three. I’ve used Blurb many, many times. I absolutely love it. I really think page for page, the cost is similar to the other companies. I use their software, but I design my own layouts to fit my pictures. They are also really really fast. Don’t spend the extra for faster shipping because you really don’t need to. I just ordered a book for my youngest daughter with pictures from her softball season and it was in my mailbox in under a week and a half. It was the first time I had done a 7×7. It was cute and just what I wanted.

    It’s cute to see your family fall in love with the kittens. We have a one year old kitten at our house who completely rules the roost (even over the two bigger dogs). We love her to pieces. She’s such a People cat. Loves to be around my husband and I and our children.

  • Molly - Good luck on meeting your deadline! You inspired me, too, to use MyPublisher to make some family photo albums. My pictures are certainly not near the quality of yours, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the printed version compared to my laptop screen version. User error, I’m sure. Someday in your free time (!!!) I would love some tips on optimizing photos for printing. I’ve also used Blurb and liked them – that’s a good coupon code!

  • Christi - I’m a hands on person and it’s hard to order things online without touching and seeing them first. I’m curious what cover and paper you select and why- it’s rather pricey for me to take a risk guessing so any input would be appreciated.

  • Stoich91 - Well THIS is stunning. That is going to be one heck of a family photo album. You rock!

  • Jaime - I ordered a VERY LARGE book through Blurb for 2011 just a few weeks back. I ordered a 12 x 12. It was 294 pages. With the discount code, it ended up being around $150. I was ecstatic! I was positive it would be well over $250 for that big ole book. So glad to have my book now (like you, I order every year). My kids love them…and I know will cherish them as they grow and have kids of their own. πŸ™‚

  • Katy - I love blurb. My husband makes my blog into a book for me every year for Christmas. Some of my most cherished gifts. πŸ™‚

  • Michelle E. - Love your layouts. I never thought about doing them in PS. I have used Blurb to ‘slurp’ my blog for the past four years. I love it! I am not a scrapbooker and this is my cheater way to get my family memories into a book. I do the 8×10 landscape with the image wrap cover. I do have to reformat a lot of it, but once I get a few pages going its easy to copy and paste. I also used to worry about the resolution issue until I printed one with pix right from the blog. It turned out great. The resolution wasn’t an issue at all. (Granted it is a smaller book than yours and it does have my watermark.). My kids love reading the old stories about our adventures and so do other folks who come to our house. Such a fun way to share!

  • Mindy - i do these books as well & while the price seems high initally it is well worth it to me to have a beautiful book instead of a many bulky photo albums. here is a website where she posts photo book deals. i go to it to find great deals through groupon, living social etc without having to looks for them!

  • megan - Thansk so much for posting this. I’m always trying to decide what I want to do for my photo books and what to committ to! Blog book, photos only, photos and words, etc. I like your logic!

    I like the design aglow templates but noticed they are for a 10×10 book. do you have to customize each template to make it work for the 12 x 12 book?

    Also, do you narrow down your pictures enough so that you only have 1 layout for each group of pictures, or do some span 2 or more layout pages?

    and lastly (sorry for so many questions), do you include vacations in your photo albums or do you make a separate album for your vacations? For example, I remember you went to Hawaii as a family and you must have had tons of pictures, right? thanks so much!! Megan

  • Laura - I also get Blurb deals sent to me via email. You can also use the promo code “CAPTURE” by July 31st for 25% off your order, no minimum or anything!

    I think the idea of putting all your adoption related posts into a book is such a great idea. Every time you post an update I get tears in my eyes… I’ve had to stop reading those ones at work altogether haha

  • Kaitlyn - AMEN on the blog to book option! I have tried so many times and agree that it is completely overwhelming. I keep backing up my blog and hoping that I am not 10 years into my blog before that technology is introduced. Props to you for creating albums for your family!

  • the whyte house - I just put together a blurb book with that layout last wk for my friends adoption shoot that I did. I have that book, my 2011 yearbook, and a blog book ready to print, so thanks for the code! πŸ™‚ I don’t typically do blog books, but I did one for 2008-2010 posts because I lost all of my photos on my computer when it crashed. I load up my photos on photoshop by month and just work on one month at a time and slowly add the finished layouts 5 or so at a time so I don’t have a bunch of craziness on my photo selection. I get really overwhelmed when I try to do more!
    Also, all of my books are still saved through blurb. My blog book has been ready to print for 2 yrs, but I just never got to it. I’m sure if the kids wanted books printed someday, they could go back and load the book up and do so.

  • eeny - i love those pages.
    i think making a photo book for each year is the best idea ever. lots of work but well worth it. you rather flip through a book than a thousend digital pictures. i would probably go for just pictures too. pictures say more than a thousand words and i am pretty sure i would remember what happened. and it doesn’t usually matter on which day it was exactly.

  • Jenny L. - I always think I have seen the cutest picture of Firecracker and then along comes another one. That picture of her sewing is just too cute!

  • Jenny B. - Been there, done that! πŸ™‚ I really need to impose some self-imposed deadlines. I thought I was going to get several days alone to work on all my digital scrapbooking projects this month, but alas, my children will not be going to stay with their grandparents for a week after all. πŸ™ Your photo books always look terrific. I can’t wait to see what you think of your Blurb book. I’ve never tried Blurb before. I’m planning to use Inkubook this year, and I’m thinking I’ll do a 10×10 book. I love the big pictures too, but I prefer handling a smaller book. 8×8 is a little too little, though. πŸ™‚

  • Shari B. - Thanks for the motivation to get started on our annual photo books. I have been saying all summer that I need to do them. Next week I am chaining myself to the computer and getting started! πŸ™‚

    BTW, in case anyone can use it… I got an email from Blurb this morning for NEW first time users only… 35% off your order with the code SOCIALBOOK.

  • Rita D - I don’t normally comment, but I’ve been stalking your blog and Instagram for awhile now. I love your pictures and posts. Your family and your little one in China are in my prayers. I have to say I love the fact that you say you may add text or captions in your handwriting after you receive the book. Some of my most cherished photographs are ones I can turn over and see my mother or grandmothers writing across the back telling the date and a little more about the picture. I think having it in your own handwriting will make these albums even more special for your family.

  • Elke - Ashley Ann, your book looks great. I started my year book with blurb, but I can’t decide what kind of paper I should use. I ordered the swatch kit, but I am still incertain. Which one did you chose?

  • giozi - I like the template that you are using. Ohh the promo code is a good news.
    Cat person, I knew that

  • W. - Love your pictures and your idea of printing two copies so the kids can take a look at the pictures over and over!

  • Jesse @ goodgirlgoneglad - Well crap! I didn’t know they were limited to 100 pages. I have been slowly adding all of our 2012 pics as we go along thinking I might be ahead. Now I need to see how many pages I have finished with still so many months to go this year! Thanks for the heads up. Looking forward to your review of blurb.

  • Jane in Canada - Oooooh…I’m glad that you found a better code. 25% is more like it! I’ve never seen more than that, so you don’t need to hold out any more. If you have a chance (as IF you have any spare time), can you peek at the Blurb email you received and see if it is valid for Canada too? Nothing in my inbox today so I’m not sure if it would be valid. The emails I receive seem to be valid for US, UK, Canada, etc. but maybe there is a whole other set that us Canadians don’t get. πŸ™ This may just be my motivation to finally get a book done by the July 31st deadline. I am SOOOOOO behind!

    Not that I know how to use Photoshop templates, but did you not like the Blurb templates within the software? They are all customizable with the Edit Template feature (I’m sure you know this). Perhaps it’s more time-efficient for you to use Photoshop and then import into BookSmart, but I have found they’ve come a long way with their templates and love how they are completely customizable.

  • Emily - Lap Kitties are the BEST addition to computer work, aren’t they?

  • Jessie - I love to digital scrapbook and have never seen such simple and modern templates. I would love to purchase them but I’m concerned that it says 10×10. I do 12×12 and I read you do, as well. How do you tweak that?

    Thank you!

  • Victoria / Justice Pirate - That’s so awesome about the book and must be annoying to tweak things around, but these are such beautiful shots!!!! I love your children’s facial expressions!

  • Kimberlee Jost - I finished 2011 today with My Publisher. 2 books…200 pages that could have been more like 250 but I didn’t want to go to 3 books. Can’t wait to see what yours looks like through Blurb!

  • Kristina - Simply amazing! This is such a great idea and I’m drooling over the picture of your oldest daughter at the sewing machine. Such amazing memories captured and one day if I’m lucky enough to have my own, I’m going to do the same. Thanks for sharing. What a treasure for your family and their families in the future!

  • ratna - Aha! This is a prefect timing post for me. I’m in the process of making 2011 book too (and the years before!). Choosing photos alone is driving me nuts as I’m not as organized as you. But thanks for sharing the process. I’m really glad I’m not the only one spend many sleepless nights for making photo album.

  • Marcie - I had a friend who did a huge blog book w/blurb and she said the thickness of the book meant that there was some pictures lost to the binding. I have yet to print my blog (working for Christmas as a goal!) but I would LOVE to hear your review when you receive your book. I’m sure it will be gorgeous!

  • Cassie - I love using Blurb! I try to finish each month’s section as the month wraps up, but it is hard to keep up. Do you order more than one copy? I’ve wondered if I should order two copies as I make them. They are expensive, though; it’s usually what I ask for as my Christmas present from my husband! πŸ™‚

  • Becky - Ashley, I’ve been following your blog for the past six months ago, and I absolutely love it. You are so talented! I can’t wait to hear more of your adoption journey. Hope you’re off to China soon : )

  • Anita - I have long wanted to purchase a template of some sort from Design Aglow but am afraid I won’t know how to use it and will end up frustrated! I am fairly proficient with PSE and Lightroom. May I ask why you use third party template rather than the design program that is built in with Blurb and My Publisher?

    Enjoy your blog!

  • Erin Clayton - I have read your blog for a long time now and have really enjoyed it. πŸ™‚ I had to comment because I have heard many people say that you need to use the ‘premium’ paper or upgraded paper (I think it is the premium but whatever is one step above basic) to be really happy with the book. I am going to print my 2012 Project Life through them and after all of the reviews I have heard will do the upgraded paper and wanted to make sure that I shared this info with you. Beautiful photos and it looks like a really lovely book. Thank you for all of the wonderful content. I always enjoy!

  • nicci - Your daughter sewing…..just kills me! I can just see her in 10 yeaers, without the baby fat…love your photography. when I have a family one day, I hope I remember to take pictures of it all!

  • Kristy Chuhaloff - Your daughter is reading the book “The Best Loved Doll”! My aunt wrote that book! It has always been a very special book to me and I am thrilled to see someone else thinks so too!

    Kristy in SoCal

  • Alisa Trotter - I love your blog and your photographs! We have such similar interests!

    I can’t get over your little bitty girl using the sewing machine. πŸ™‚ I remember it frustrating me to no end when I was in junior high! Kudos to Firecracker.

  • Laurie H - Thanks for the coupon code. Made a blurb book in 2010 so I need this motivation to get me finished with 2011 and on to 2012.

  • Megan - ashley-
    i cannot tell you how much i enjoy reading your blog. your creativity is inspiring and i love your generous and loving heart.

    on a separate note: my husband bought photoshop elements for me….i have NO IDEA where to even begin learning how to begin. can you recommend some tutorials or websites on how to teach myself some beginning points. i love all the design aglow products but have NO CLUE how to begin using them!!

    thanks ashley-

  • Nancy - I did a memory book for my marathon in Athens and I used Blurb I loved the result their quality is great and the price is reasonable plus they constantly have coupons and good deals. I got mine through groupon. Good job on doing a yearly book your kids are lucky.

  • Jenn - I absolutely adore the idea of going back and handwriting captions! That will be something for your children and grandchildren to treasure some day! Please, someday, share how you organize your photos and what you do with the digital files once you have made your book. Thanks!

  • Kitty - How did Blurb compare to the other companies you’ve used? I have used Blurb for 5 years for our yearbooks, but always wonder about the color and quality of other companies…crispness seems to be lacking at times with Blurb…thoughts? Thank you!