Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Book: A Visual Journal of Everyday Moments

This is "my book." Or as beloved Ann writes:
"This is the story of a Type-A personality finding serenity in playing about with glossy pictures and glue and paper. Child’s play. Yes, true: it’s a pretty simple story."

I am so, so glad she told that story so that I could begin my own!

It was nearly three years ago I started doing this, found a big stash of lovely magazines in the twenty-five-cent bin at the library, bought a big black sketchbook and started chronicling. Last week I opened volume six. The row of filled coilbound books lined up on my shelf makes me smile. And the current volume has a permanent home lying open on the end of my kitchen counter. I put off the project for a while after I first heard of it, but once I got over my intimidation and jumped in, I couldn't stop.

 ~it’s a place to play, and yet practical: it’s a place to record the workings of your household
 ~a place to make beautiful, so when everything else is unraveling (or is that only at our house?) there’s a pretty place on the counter to write down the date and all the lovely little snippets of the day...
 ~a keepsake day journal for children and grandchildren, a container of simple memories, the best kind
 ~an aesthetically pleasing place made with your own two hands that invites you to write down when the dentist appointment is today, which phone calls to make, and it makes you smile evey time you look at the page
~ the ordinary tasks of our lives find themselves chronicled for what they truly are: important ceremonies… daily celebrations.

Yes. So here we go: I start with a blank book like this (only it's one of the few things I *don't* buy online; with a 40% off coupon for JoAnn, I never pay full price). Sometimes I decorate the cover with a printed article or quote, some patterned paper and a jar of Mod Podge--

--sometimes not. Then I collect magazines. Don't spend a lot of money on this! My favorite sources are Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens and Real Simple. I've also enjoyed Midwest Living and Martha Stewart Living. But I don't subscribe to any of these, unless I can do it for $5 or less (which does happen occasionally). Ask friends and family or even doctors' offices for their discards. Check the castoffs bin at the library. Sign up for free preview/sample issues. (Lowe's has a free magazine called Creative Ideas that comes five times a year.) The magazines above tend to have a higher number of things I like, but this will obviously depend on personal taste--and really, you can find fun pictures anywhere you look. I've used pictures from Pier 1 catalogs, Compassion magazine, even Snapfish or Hobby Lobby flyers. I also occasionally glue in my own photographs of neighborhood trees in the fall, or our peony bushes.

I go through the magazines whenever I get them and tear out anything I find pretty or visually interesting, including (but not limited to):
  • flowers 
  • food 
  • landscapes/scenery 
  • interior decorating 
  • significant words/quotes 
  • cities/travel 
  • random household items (colored bottles, books)

Now that I've built up a huge collection, I keep these sorted in folders, with the above headings plus seasonal ones (Autumn, Spring, Winter/Christmas). And then I flip through them, spread them out on my table, and go to town. I glue in just a few pages at a time, less than a month's worth. I learned that lesson after my first journal, when I decorated the whole thing at once and then ended up looking at tulip pictures in November. I prefer to match the season, so not doing too far ahead allows me to (roughly) match flowers in season, holidays, etc. But I'm a little anal-retentive that way...if you like pumpkins in February or snow in July, more power to you.

Once I've got pictures glued in, I put the open book in its place on the end of my kitchen counter, and I start scribbling. With a pretty pen in a coordinating ink color (because we know pens are a little important to me). Cello pens won't do for this; for a while I was partial to Sharpie pens but now I'm addicted to these pricey but gorgeous Staedtlers...but keep the caps on! The tips of the Sharpies and the Staedtlers *will* get ruined when dropped on the floor...sadly I have learned this the hard way.

Sorry. Pen digression. Anyway, so I start scribbling, and I keep coming back throughout the day. There's no end to the variety of things that can find a home here:
  • daily/weekly to-do lists as well as long-term project lists 
  • gratitude lists 
  • funny things Elijah and Jude do and say, their developmental milestones, etc. 
  • Scripture verses 
  • quotes from books, blogs, song lyrics 
  • printed out blog posts or excerpts (if it's more than a few lines I love), most frequently from Ann Voskamp, Christ in the Chaos, Femina or Scotty Smith 
  • lists of and brief blurbs about books I’m reading 
  • notes from important phone calls (asbestos abatement contractors, preschools, chickens, etc.) 
  • gifts received for birthdays/Christmases (people needing thank-you notes) 
  • hospitality plans 
  • recipes or meal plans 
  • parenting inspirations/reminders

In addition to all these lists and quotes, occasionally I'll do a little more traditional journaling, writing just a paragraph or two about a special event or activity that day. If I remember and have space, I also use this like a scrapbook and glue in mementos (ticket stub, cut-out logo from a brochure, etc.).

Really this can be anything you want it to be. No rules--it serves you. And oh, can it serve you (and your family)! For me, this journal isn't just play, and it isn't a time-suck. It's a visual anchor, a place to refocus. It's a way to chronicle my journey, not in long chunks of set-aside quiet time (though I do love those, and journal differently during those when they come) but in moments. It's a place to preach truth to myself, a reminder to choose gratitude, an opportunity to pause for a moment and really *see* my life, my children, my Savior.

And, I hope, it will become a family heirloom of sorts. Maybe it's just me, but I think if I could get a glimpse of my mother's or grandmother's ordinary daily life this way--what she was thankful for thirty years ago, what Scriptures spoke to her, what books she read and loved, what funny things I said--wouldn't I love that precious keepsake! Even if my boys don't appreciate these books, I know I have loved having and revisiting my own journals over the years, rereading stories of God's work in me and looking back on sweet moments of my life.

So there it is--my often-mentioned visual homemaking journal. Now it's your turn! Grab a sketchbook, a pen, a glue stick and some magazines and have at it.


Unknown said...

Neat idea! I know about the gifts journal, but I had not seen this one before.

Sandra Andrews said...

I love seeing your homekeeping journal. It is beautiful. You also have lovely handwriting! I think I would be more motivated to use mine if my handwriting looked like yours ;)

I really like the idea of someone picking up my journal 50 yrs later and having an intimate look into the everyday life.

Love ya, Amy! Miss you! Are you coming up north any time soon? I'd love to see you again.

Blessings, Sandra

jennymarie1981 said...

I Love this idea.
I kind of felt like my blog was a sort of journal during my first foray into being a home-maker without kids. I hope to one-day again be a stay at home homemaker WITH a child and I think I may put this into practice! Thanks for the inspiration :)

jennymarie1981 said...

I Love this idea.
I kind of felt like my blog was a sort of journal during my first foray into being a home-maker without kids. I hope to one-day again be a stay at home homemaker WITH a child and I think I may put this into practice! Thanks for the inspiration :)

Danielle said...

I love this too. It is beautiful! I've had many journals over the years. The one I keep now is basically a "spiritual" journal where I write each morning what I'm learning alongside my scripture reading. I also do more "traditional" journal entries at times, but these are farther and fewer in-between these days. I love the idea of making it more of a brain dump, yet a pretty one with quotes and pictures. I'll be done my current journal by the end of the summer. Maybe I'll try this method!

Amy said...

oh, you definitely don't have to choose, Danielle - I still do both kinds :) I have a more traditional journal that I use for reflecting on Scripture, processing emotions/life events, and writing out prayers. that one is completely private (though sometimes the Scripture reflections turn into blog posts). it only gets used during "quiet time." then this one is more of an everyday life snippets journal/scrapbook. I *need* both!

Bethany said...

Whoa! Beautiful. I was peeking at some blogs today and I am so glad I hopped onto yours. I use a book like this for my journals too but I love how you do your thank you list here. I need to start doing that. There is something more comforting about paper and pen vs. Digital. Its beautiful.

Okay I just saw in your comments that you have two. That is probably wise because my regular journal is crazy. HA HA. and private.

emily said...

i absolutely LOVE this and feel inspired. thank you for sharing.