Family Albums Made Simple

My big spring cleaning project is a bit different this year. I have an area of clutter that I have put off and put off for quite some time. I finally decided to take the plunge and get it done. What is this project? Photos! Literally, thousands of digital photos on my computer. I have years worth of unprinted pictures. In fact I had almost no printed photos of my youngest four children until just recently. I had SO MUCH digital clutter, and not a single real family album to show for it.

Once I dove into this project, I can not tell you how happy I was to have these precious memories in albums where we as a family can delight in them and (Lord willing) treasure them for many many years. It was way easier than I ever imagined it would be. So for those of you super busy mamas with a mountain of digital photos just waiting to be printed and enjoyed, this post is for you.

You all know me, I need simple or it just will not happen.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago I use to be a scrapbooker. To be honest, my scrapbooking side was a part of the reason I never tackled my photo printing. I had a vision of one day scrapbooking all of these precious memories on gorgeous spreads, but the more children I had and the more photos I took, the more I began to see that “one day” may never come. I contemplated what I actually had the time and energy to accomplish, and this is what I did.

Family Albums Made Simple

  1. I uploaded ALL OF MY PHOTOS into Amazon Prime Photos. Did you know Amazon has unlimited photo storage for prime members? I love it! It was mind-blowingly simple. Amazon literally does all the organizing work for you, they sync everything and put it in order by the date it was taken. They even sync phone photos if you download the app. That’s the kind of simple this mama needed!Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  2. I decided this album would be our yearly family albums. It holds 400 4×6 pictures. I figure I can dwindle it down to 400 favorites that really capture the highlights of our year. I take a lot of pictures of our daily life, so 400 is a top best kind-of thing. But really, in the end isn’t that what we want, our all time favorites in the album? Now on trips or vacations I probably take about 400 photos (easily), for that reason I decided to do something different to print and keep those special trip details, Chatbooks! I’m going to share a bit more about that below. For the yearly family albums I may select 5-10 of group photos of really special moments on the trip, and save all the others for the Chatbook.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset
  3. Now are you ready for this? I printed the pictures from amazon photo printing. Let me say that again, I printed the pictures. This is a big deal for me ya’ll! I can’t believe how long I put this off waiting for the right time to perfectly edit, crop, and scrapbook them. So glad I got over that! Here’s what I did: I started with the most recent year; no filters, no edits, no cropping, just printing. I clicked the little check boxes of about 400 favorites  from 2016 and hit order. They came to my doorstep two days later. I told you I needed simple. It got done! I just thought, “simple pictures in an album are better than digital pictures just waiting to become the casualty of a computer crash”… way better! Right? Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
  4. I was able to put them all in the 2016 family album in one Sunday afternoon. This process was so fun and non-stressful! I was able to look at and delight in the little memories as I simply placed them in the album. I left a few spaces empty to place 4×6 cardstock with handwritten journaling about the little details I want us to remember for years to come. I haven’t done the journaling step yet, (I’ll add photos and update here once I do.) but these or something similar are the 4X6 lined journaling cards I plan to use. I will write on them and slide them in, and that satisfies the scrapbook side of me just fine. One neat idea for people who can’t quite fill up 400 spaces, order some cute project life cards and slide them in to give the spread a little extra something.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Easy Peasy. Now time to start on the 2015 album and keep working my way back.

Here’s a little look into the album. After seeing it come together, I may actually like the simplicity of this better than my scrapbook spreads that I worked hours on. The focus here is the memories, pure and simple, just as they were in real life. It’s beautiful to me.

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Trip, Vacation, and Specialty Albums

Now about those trip and vacation albums. I used Chatbooks.

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The reason I went with Chatbooks is because they are so simple to put together (because ya know, I need simple), and very inexpensive to order.

In fact you can use this code to get a book for free (I believe it’s the soft cover 60 page book) : UP2QX4T2

Which reminds me, Chatbooks is amazing with instagram and facebook photos. It will pull them right from your account and put the book together for you, dated and captioned. All of your photos and captions can be easily printed in lovely $8 books or upgrade to a hardcover for $5 more. You can even change captions, or choose to not add certain photos that were on your insta or fb that you don’t need or want in your family album. I am currently working on using my Abiding Woman instagram photos as a personal journal where I keep little thoughts, reflections, favorite Scriptures or hymns, and encouragements alongside my instagram photos. I just linked Chatbooks to my instagram and I’m working through the journaling in my free time. But you don’t have to do it through instagram or facebook, you can just get on the site and upload from your computer. That’s what I did with my trip albums. It’s so so simple! They have adorable cover options also, so be sure to click the little lightbulb and check them out.

I recently created a book filled with our Banff, Glacier, and Mount Rushmore photos. Here’s a little look at it.

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This is how I plan to do all of our family trips. And one day soon, when all my current projects are caught up, I plan to make Chatbook baby books for each of my girls and gift books for family. It’s so simple and affordable, and you can do so much with it. The books are a great size, not at all bulky. They make great keepsakes to display on a coffee table or to slide on a shelf. I love it!

Time to get started.

So if printing and documenting your family memories is long overdue, then do what this busy mama did. It was easy peasy, and I LOVE my albums! It’s time to clean out all those beautiful photos and put them where they belong, in your hands. Make it your spring cleaning project.

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Family albums made simple.

DIY Picnic Farmhouse Table (no building required)

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Super simple diys are kinda my thing…. mainly because I’m not all that crafty, and I don’t have tons of free time either. I am convinced that every easy peasy diy has a story behind it, well here is the story behind this one. We had been needing another table for quite some time, I was dreaming of a farmhouse style table, but I had more of a craigslist budget to work with. My husband is certainly handy enough to build one, but he is already double loaded with projects. Adding a table to the list just wasn’t an option. I literally prayed about this, I’m learning to pray for things we need and to wait on the Lord to provide the right thing or idea. I had been shopping craigslist and many other options, but the right fit had not come along. I had found a simple farmhouse table with benches for about $600 a few hours away, but the drive really detoured me and so did the price. I also was concerned about the benches tipping over, and I pointed out to my husband that I would love for them to somehow be attached. Then it happened, we passed a Lowe’s and spotted these $98 wooden picnic tables out front. My wheels began turning….. what if we bought one of those, sanded it and stained it and brought it in the house. And that is just what we did! We ended up spending about $120 on the table, and putting in about 4 hours total. I couldn’t be happier with the result! I just love our picnic farmhouse table!

DIY Details:
We used an electric hand sander like this one. (aff link) This was a must because there were definitely some rough places that could cause splinters. We sanded all of it pretty generously.
After the sanding, we put on 2 coats of Poly Shades stain (aff link) which is a stain and polyurethane in one. It’s always nice to kill two birds with one stone. The shade we used was “honey pine”, and it is linked above, but there are more color options available. I loved this product! We got a beautiful natural wood shade and it was sealed well so I could wipe the table down when it got dirty, every single day. ;) We left the bottom of the wood unstained since the wood will be drying out as time goes by, we didn’t want to trap water inside.

This table is already well-loved, and holding up well.

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Suffice it to say this may be the easiest and cheapest way to get the farmhouse table look. And really, I LOVE that the benches are connected to the table because our dining room clean up is SO much easier than when we had a bunch of chairs to move around. We’ve also seen when guests come over that we can pile tons of people (especially little ones) on these benches. I even think that two of these could be attached to each other to make a really long farmhouse table, which we may have to attempt if our family keeps growing.

So if you’re in a pinch and need a new table, I hope this idea can help your family!

Have a blessed day!

,Stacey