A few things before we get started:
01 | I took all of these photos on the same day from the same position (and consecutively, with no breaks in between) so I have NO IDEA why the lighting is SO FUCKED. Sorry. I’m also really confused as to why everything looks super sharp in Photoshop but then ends up looking blurry and smudged after it’s uploaded online. ANYONE?!
02 | This is my first-ever attempt at doing anything like this. It didn’t turn out quite like I hoped but I don’t hate it, either.
03 | I love y’all and don’t really have an issue sharing my life online, but this album holds part of Shannon’s life, too, so you’re only getting a peek at selected pages.
Okay. Let’s get into it.
I tend to be really passionate when it comes to gift-giving for people I hold near to me. Like, I plan out different options months in advance and once I’ve chosen “the one”, I dedicate massive amounts of time, attention, and thought to it.
Shannon’s birthday was toward the end of June, which means I’m super late posting this but that’s not really anything new. Anywayz. She was insistent that she didn’t want anything for her birthday; that she didn’t even want to acknowledge it, let alone celebrate it. I’m not big on holidays, so I get it. Except yeah-fucking-right if I’m not going to celebrate my girlfriend’s birthday. Especially when it was the first birthday of hers that we had an opportunity to celebrate together because it was the first birthday of hers since we became “us”. But I still wanted to respect her wish of keeping things low-key (and I wanted to respect my already stretched-so-thin-it’s-basically-broken bank account), so I decided to make her a mini book with supplies that, for the most part, I already had on hand.
As I crept along with this project page by page I started to realize that the things I was including in the mini book — favorite photos of us and ephemera from our first year together (movie ticket stubs, concert ticket stubs, coasters from restaurants we frequent, menus, hotel room keys from Belated Birthday Weekend staycation) — were more suited for an anniversary gift.
And when you consider that her birthday was just two weeks before our one year anniversary and the traditional gift for a first anniversary is “paper”, it made all the more sense to combine the two. Even though combining occasions into a single gift is kind of shitty (Christmas babies, you feel me?). Oh well. I fused the two ideas/gifts together into one hybrid birthday + anniversary gift. Cheap? Nah. Innovative and resourceful. Euphemisms people. And semantics. USE ‘EM.
I cut down a 12×12 piece of hearts paper that looked more like lace (and that I’ve had on hand for years) and used it as a kind of cover page over kraft card stock, to which I affixed the “24 & 1″ wood veneers you see above. The “24” for her birthday and the “1” for our first year together. Not really original but hey, it works. Also, can we talk about how perfect that ampersand is?
The first few pages of the book feature cutesy and cheesy love-y dove-y things: A lucky penny that we picked up in Dupont during Belated Birthday Weekend; a days of the week 6×4 that came in a previous Studio Calico PL kit along with days of the week washi tape from SC, and lyrics to that old school “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (I Love You)” song written on it; a super cheesy quote better suited for a nursery than a mini book for an adult; a nother quote that I first saw around the time Shannon and I began dating (printed on vellum); a gold letterpress Kal Barteski 3×4 that I’d been waiting forever to use.
After all the cheesy quotes in the beginning I started filling the pages with favorite photos of us and of things from our first year together. Champagne bottle labels, movie ticket stubs, a card from trivia night at a local pizza joint we frequent, concert ticket stubs, hotel room keys, coasters, menus, blahblahblah.
My favorite technique for this particular project was printing directly onto vellum. I just really love the frosted see-through look it provides. I printed a few quotes/phrases onto vellum, as well as an image of a map of where we had our first date (and behind it I included a photo of the inside of the bar) and a few photos that are NSFW and not for your eyes, and used a “magic” vellum 6×4 that came in a past Studio Calico PL kit add-on.
One of my favorite things in the mini album is a fold-out $100,000 bill (obviously VERY real) that Shannon picked up for me when she took a lunchtime field trip to the Treasury with a few coworkers earlier in the year. I wrote a short note about how she always makes me feel like a million bucks and tucked it into the book. Cheesy, yes. But I knew she’d love it. Behind it is one of those NSFW photos printed directly onto vellum. I actually affixed it on top of a piece of sized-down 12×12 scrapbook paper that had a script “i love you” phrase repeated on it and LOVE the way it turned out.
Keeping in mind that this was primarily meant to be a birthday gift (NOT a paper themed one year anniversary gift), I added a few handwritten “24…” lists to celebrate her 24th birthday. I tried to stay away from the cliché “24 reasons I love you” thing and did my best to be at least somewhat creative with these lists. I included serious and less serious things, as well as some tongue-in-cheek responses and inside jokes.
Well. That’s basically it, guys. I ended the mini book with a 6×4 from a previous Studio Calico PL kit (and added a handwritten note) and a sized-down piece of paper made from a linen-y material and that had gold and silver flecks in it for the final page. And on that final page I affixed a heart-shaped patch that I picked up at Joann’s (the type of patch they sell for kids’ projects) to a couple pieces of heart-shaped pieces I cut out of scrapbook paper. I wrote a phrase that I say to Shannon All. The. Time. around the heart and called it good.
It’s super random hodgepodge of…stuff…and things, but I think that’s what mini albums are supposed to be. Right? Please say “yes” because otherwise I did this all wrong. And that would be tragic, people. TRAGIC.
It didn’t turn out quite like I was hoping but I don’t totally hate it and Shannon LOVES it (it MAY have gotten a few tears and an emphatic “best gift EVER” label, or maybe not. TAKE YOUR GUESS, but I’m letting you know right now if you guess the latter option, YOU’RE WRONG…). And since it’s her gift, that’s all that really matters.
As for me? I’m looking forward at trying my hand at another mini book documenting Anniversary Weekend.