After my grandma passed away, I was surprised that it was the little things she left behind that were treasured. I found one of her grocery lists stuffed away in her kitchen cupboard. In her characteristic swoopy backhand she had written: Soap, eggs, Peanut Butter (the good kind), that salad dressing, dates… It left me wondering- what did she mean by “the good kind” of peanut butter? What was “that” salad dressing? I knew what the dates were for! Her famous (although largely unappreciated by the grand kids) Date Nut Pudding.
She was a wonderful story teller. I loved to sit by her side and listen to her describe the sights and sounds of days gone by. Although my youngest children weren’t able to meet her, they know her- through the stories- her stories- that have been passed down. I wish there were more stories. I wish I could remember all the details to tell my kids.
I think we can all agree that keeping a diary is important. Events and feelings can be recorded for future generations to enjoy. Details aren’t lost, and a diary written by the person that experiences the events always brings out a little of their personality in the process.
The problem with keeping a diary, is that it is tedious. We can’t seem to carve out the time, and let’s be honest, a big old blank journal is intimidating!
I have been using SMASHbooks exclusively for all of the vacations that my family takes. You can read about this process HERE. I love the format, and the informal way I am able to document our travels. So I figured- why not SMASHbook my diary?
So I started Volume 1.
You know what? I love it.
It is not in any sort of order- but neither were my grandma’s stories. She didn’t start out by telling us facts about her birth, and then childhood, in chronological order. She would see something that would trigger a memory, and a story would unfold. This is the approach I am taking to my diaries. There is no pressure. When I want to “talk” about something, I SMASH it in my book.
My SMASHbook Process:
I am going to share my process with you, and hopefully you will be inspired to share your life with others- in your own way. The good, the bad, and the ugly. 🙂
First of all- I needed it to be portable. I can pick up and bring my stuff with me on a drive, or just to the couch when my husband has picked a show that I am not really into. Any time you have some free time- and the mood strikes.
I used this 14×14 Stackable Storage Case to keep everything contained.
Inside the case, I have everything I need to journal on the go.
I use zipper-top baggies to hold most of my items. These are just your run of the mill grocery store baggies. Make sure you get the kind with the actual zipper top. They hold up better, and are much easier access to what is inside.
Photos and memorabilia. When I take a photo, or come across a photo that triggers a memory I place it in this baggie for a future diary entry. The same goes for memorabilia. Memorabilia would include things like concert ticket stubs, a receipt for a special purchase, a handwritten note, a bracelet from a hospital stay, etc.
4X6 Cards and 3×4 Cards.A lot of manufacturers have created fun pre-printed cards made for scrapbooking. I like to incorporate them into my books. They add some color and interest without any work on my part. I have a separate baggie for each size i mentioned.
Journaling. Inside this baggie are small notebooks, post-it notes, and lined notepads. Perfect for jotting down thoughts to add into the SMASHbook. There are also pre-made notebooks specific to scrapbooking that contain journaling prompts that can jump-start your diary entry.
Alphabets. I use alphabet stickers for titles, dates and to highlight specific words in my diary. I like having a variety of colors and fonts. I love this set from SNAP! studios, it is a really great size. I also use this smaller typewriter-style sticker set from SNAP! studios a lot.
Pockets. Pockets are nice to add multiple photos to a diary entry, memorabilia, or to add journaling to a diary page that you would like to keep a little more private. You could use regular envelopes in place of official “pockets.”
Washi Tape. An easy way to add color and interest- but also practical for adhering photos, memorabilia, and everything else. I usually keep a few rolls handy.
Glue Runner. I use this to adhere photos, journaling and any other light-weight items.
Tombow Mono Adhesive. This is my go-to glue for stubborn to adhere items. I use it to glue in all the pockets I use. You can use it for bulky items. It dries quickly, and a little goes a long way.
Pens. Your SMASHbook comes with a really great pen. I use it most of the time- but I also like to mix it up a little and use pens with different tips. Colors are fun too.
Scissors. I like to keep a pair of small scissors in the box.
Lastly, (and most important!) a SMASHbook.
I began my SMASHbook diary with a title page-like all books have. I included a photo of myself, my full name, and the date I started this volume.
Then begin your own personal diary journey. There is not right or wrong way to go about it.
I will share with you a few pages I have done, and some tips I learned to make it even easier!
Remember my opening story about my grandma’s grocery list? Remember how I described her handwriting? Well, I would venture to say that not a lot of people like their own handwriting. But- it is a part of YOU. Please hand-write in your diary. At least a little. It meant so much to me to see my grandma’s penmanship. It wasn’t perfect, but it was so “her.”
A lot of pages in the SMASHbook have lines in the design. Either actual lines, or grids or a design of some sort that makes it easy to hand-write on. For this next page, I wrote a lot. Not every page is like this in my diary. At all. But it adds variety, personality, and the lines in the design helped me keep my handwriting fairly neat.
Here’s the thing about a SMASHbook. If you mess up- you can tear the page out, or cover it! Mistakes are a perfect spot for a sticker, or a 4×6 card! Personally, I give myself a pass on mistakes I make when hand-writing in my diary. Life isn’t perfect. So what if your diary has spelling errors, or scratch outs?
You can also choose to computer generate your memories. This page tells a story that was pretty long, and I found it easier to just type the story, and then worry about sizing it correctly to fit on the page after the story was written. Text boxes in Word are great for this. You can size it perfectly and then find a font to fit the text box. Print, trim, and SMASH it! Done.
I love technology! I always have my smart phone with me, as I am sure many of you do. I like to utilize the “notes” feature for jotting down ideas on the go. I found out that if I take a screenshot picture of my “note” I can print it out! How cool is that? I can journal things wherever I am- and when I am ready to add a photo and SMASH it into my book, the hard part is already done. That is what I did on this page about Christmas. On my phone this Christmas, I happened to keep running lists of the items I purchase for each of my five kids. The result? A detailed list of the gifts they received that year. I just printed the lists, and attached them to the diary page using some washi tape. How fun will that be for them to look back on in 20 years? Or for their kids to see?
I added a pocket to this page as well. I wanted a photo of each child, individually opening gifts, but I didn’t want this diary entry to span multiple pages. A pocket was perfect for adding the photos.
I chose to write a diary entry about Christmas this year, because my oldest graduates, and I had a hard time this year knowing that this was the last Christmas we would have together at home. Life is changing. I wanted to document my feelings- bittersweet as they are.
Like I mentioned before, sometimes there are stories that should be shared- but are deeply personal. In these instances, I utilized pockets. You can label the pockets as you wish- addressed to a certain person for a certain date, or just labeled as “personal.”
For the cover of my SMASHbook diary, I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out a die-cut image that I downloaded from the Silhouette online store.
I cut the image twice, and then stacked both images on top of each other to create dimension. I sealed the stacked image to the cover of my diary using Mod Podge Hard Coat– to hopefully stand the test of time.
I hope you are inspired to do the same!