DIY Four/ Five Year Journal tutorial


I cannot remember which blog I found the idea of the Five Year Journal on. I know it ran in late October (or possibly early November) and immediately sparked in me a desire to recreate the idea.

The Five Year Journals that are available to purchase left me feeling blah. They had room for a line, or possibly a space for a doodle, but that's not me. I've been wanting to add more photos to my journaling. Since 4 is my lucky number, I thought making a four year journal would be super-awesome.

If you know me, you know I'm a researcher. That's one of my super powers: google/amazon/wikipedia searches. (And I can search All. Day. Long.)

And so I searched. And found the perfect-for-me solution. A 400 page graph paper journal (not an affiliate link, this is the journal I purchased). Bound in faux leather (vegan! yay!), big enough to accommodate four years worth of memories. Or five, really, since I found a way to sneak last year's photos in!


Graph paper means it is super easy to separate the spaces for each year.

I decided on this format: a one inch header bar at the top for the date (one day on each page) and then four 3.5" x 4" rectangular spaces for each year. (Size is aproximate, since I went by the lines and not by exact measurements).

There was enough space at the top that I decided I could fit in 3 photos from that day last year. (The three below are from my birthday photowalk last year. I didn't pick the same photos to print out that I choose for the blog. Keeping it interesting!)

I'll talk more about the photo printing process in a minute.

Here's what it looked like after I filled it in for my birthday (which is the start of this journal - you could easily start this on January 1st):


As you can see, I printed out three more photos. (They're blurry because I used my 50mm 1.7 lens and the focus is on the words "give away!" You can also see the three photos from last year better.)

I did a little doodle at the top of the space. I'll certainly be doing more of those. I added a few words about the day (keywords to remind me of what I did. I forgot to add that M and I watched Hot Rod and had Indian food together and it was awesome. I think I have space to go back and add that in.) I left enough space that I could print out some photos for that day and add them in later (which I already did in this example, just to show you).

The really great thing (to me) about this style of journal keeping is that it is less about writing on the actual day and more about memory keeping. I'm not going to be printing out photos for this every day. My plan is to print them out the same way I'm doing last year's: as a collage. So, at the end of the month, I'll create a new album in picasa and add three photos or so from each day and then create a collage after I'm done.

Like so (this is a screen shot of the album I made, which is aptly titled "my 37th year (daily 3: Dec):


Adding photos to an album in picasa does not remove the photo from its original folder. Here's a short explanation.

Once you have all the photos in the album, select them and then click "create collage." (Short tutorial here.) I used the "grid" style of collage, which keeps the photos in order as long as you have the correct number of photos to divide evenly into rows (72 in this case or 9x8). It actually just worked out this way for December, because of the number of days I had less than 3 photos (or even none at all). If a month doesn't divide up evenly, I will add a few extra photos into it.

Here is my collage after I made it (another screen shot of picasa).


Note that I did not add a border ("grid spacing") to this collage, that's because my printer is having issues printing bordered collages properly, it's really annoying me but I haven't been able to troubleshoot it yet: I adore my printer, but it has a few oddities. Just like everything else in this world!

(You can see the printed out collage at the top of this post.)

I did not take three photos every day last year. So some days, I do not have photos for. Or I only have one. No worries! I wrote myself a little sticky note about those days and when I was cutting out and gluing the photos in, I left spaces, like so:


"no photos"

So, my plan is this: before the start of each month, I'll divide up the pages for that month, print out a collage of the photos from that month, and put them in. Then fill in each day as I go (sometimes on the day, sometimes later).

Doing a month long chunk of work seems much more doable than doing all twelve at once. And a month's worth of photos prints out at just the right size for me.

(January's collage - which I added the three photos from my birthday to - ended up giving me slightly smaller photos for each day. Which is totally fine. Collage making is very intuitive to me at this point. I'm thinking that's another ecourse I could probably teach!)


Here is the side of my journal, after December's photos (from last year) had been glued in. At the end of this year, the journal will be all fluffed up. Awesome! And then the next three years will be easier, since I won't have to make the templates for each month.

(By the way, you could use Mod Podge or a really good glue stick for the photos, but I'm using Aleene's Acid Free Tacky Glue. That's just a personal preference. I have had issues with glue sticks not holding photos down and this glue really holds so far.)

Another idea that I've seen but haven't incorporated yet (and may not get around to) is to make cards for each day (sort of like this idea, only bigger cards and not monthly... maybe more like the cards in Project Life?).


Anyway I end up doing these, they're gonna be mine... my style, my photos, my words, my handwriting.

And that's what makes this project exciting to me!