Welcome to my world of the practical scrapbooker

Here is ten years of scrapbooking my photos and memorabilia onto actual paper .....without major art projects or (too) complicated techniques.

I blend traditional paper and "new" digital techniques to tell the stories of my family's fun, travels, and history.

Here are my thoughts as I sort, shop, crop, organize, arrange, journal, and decorate my scrapbook pages.


Three months of genealogy and two pages !

My hobby time has been fairly internet intense this fall working on next year's B-25 Medium Bomber calendar for my step-dad's WWII Bomb Group friends. Shutterfly.com has the best calendar programs of all. Almost too many choices. Very pretty. I highly recommend their site. Make a calendar ! Make someone happy. Or many people happy. My calendar involves much WWII photo restoration and an obsessive attention to including interesting facts on each day of the year that is probably unnecessary. Calendars can be easy.
Then I have been helping my mom connect with her Canadian cousins by trolling through the internet and Ancestry.com. Great fun. Somehow I met a woman who had kept an album of photos marked "Chatham photos" from her aunt who was some relative of my father's mother. My mother has been busy identifying them. I met a woman who gave us letters from my mother's father to her aunt and family photos from the 1890's and 1900's of people my mother knew when they were much older.
The internet is truly an amazing way to spend hours and hours and hours of time more productively than playing solitaire or words with friends or e-Bay, well more about e-Bay next time......


A simple scrapbook is not a photo album

My favorite simple 8 x 8 scrapbook page has two photos, a caption, maybe an embellishment, and not much journaling. Can a scrapbook get so simple that it becomes a photo album ? Perhaps close, but no.

Current photo albums have two or three sections per page to slide in the photos. There's a wide margin to leave blank or add some journaling, stickers, or embellishments. I have one photo album that I filled with decades of random animal photos, one album of my absolute favorite photos, and one album of Disney photos that I somehow didn't scrapbook (yet).

In photo albums, the photos are all the same size, so no cropping, and no layout composition (maybe switching some photos around). There is no selecting or fussing with background pages because the album is totally assembled. And that's the difference. I absolutely love deciding on the layout and composition in my scrapbooks. Making scrapbooks is my hobby. Assembling photo albums is creative organization.


Single topics scrapbooks

On a lazy feeling day, I enjoy reviewing my "shoeboxes" of old photos for overlooked photos and memories that fit into existing or future scrapbooks.

I keep finding cake (birthday, baby shower, wedding, anniversary) photos to add to my collection spanning at least forty years of people cutting cakes, blowing out candles, eating cake (neatly or messy), and cake close-ups.

I have my folding file of photos until I am ready for a scrapbook day. I have sections for cakes, boats, grandparents, cousins in groups, sisters in groups, animals (so many random animal shots), cats, puppies, sleeping kids, and "interesting" hairstyles. I doubt I will be posting any interesting hairstyles on this blog though !


Enjoying 8x8 albums

My 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbooks expand over time because my topics are ongoing -- each of my daughters, trips to Disney, trips to Canada, WWII history, Genealogy. I often go back to update and rework pages. It's easy to insert or reorder the pages. The albums never end and never "really" are finished.

Each of my 8x8 scrapbooks focuses on a single event or topic that I assembled and finished. They occupy a different shelf, and I have a totally different fondness for them. 8x8 pages are simple to assemble because there simply is not enough room to design a photo arrangement, title, caption, date, and embellishments. Two photos per page, maybe a caption or an embellishment: perfect for trip photos and more satisfying than a "brag book" or photo album.

My 8x8 single event scrapbooks:
special trips to California, Discovery Cove in Orlando, Dorney Park in Pennsylvania, Costa Rica, and China.
photos from a very busy fifth grade year with only one or two good photos per event. our wedding elopement
our formal five year vow renewal.

My 8x8 retrospective scrapbooks for topical photos I found while sorting through old phots:
all the cake photos from all the celebrations
all the rubber duckie photos with my duckie obsessed toddler to teen
all the animal shots in all the zoos, parks, farms, beaches, and backyards.

8x8 scrapbook albums often are packaged with coordinating pages. Theme pads of 8x8 coordinating paper are so handy because I assemble the whole scrapbook at once.

To complete an easy single topic scrapbook, 8x8 is the way to go.


What did Gramma's House look like ?

My newest scrapbboking tool (and random time waster) is using Google Maps Street View and Google Earth Panoramio to find current photos of my family's "historic" locations. Some of these locations have no photos to scrapbook, and other locations have old photos that I would like to compare with a current photo for a then/now page (one of my favorite layouts).

Google maps has good instructions but requires some mouse practice to maneuver, and the resolution is good enough. Having a specific address is most helpful; yes, more information to obtain and save, along with those childhood friends' names.

Panoramino just needs a town, park, or church name, but its results are limited to whatever photos have been posted. I have enjoyed many beautiful random photos.

So far I have found photos of my childhood homes in Toronto and Vailsburg, my mother's childhood home in Montreal, my grandparents' home in Lachine Quebec, the cemetary where my mother's original Simons relatives are buried in Ireland Township Quebec, and the church where I was batpized. I am astonded by how little some houses have changed (or a lot == a grandparents' house is now an overpass).

At the moment cruising the world with Google has been more fun than practical (as in producing pages), but isn't a hobby supposed to be fun ?? And who knows what I might be inspired to do !


Date Those Photos (and Label those People)

On pretty and artistic scrapbook pages, it's important to work in the who, what, where, and when (or at last write the info on the back). Memories for details do fade, years totally blend together, and cute toddlers look very similar.

I have been going through old pages to update scrapbook pages to label the who, what, where, and when, which has required some wierd family calculations -- such as

To calculate Helen's age in a photo taken on a trip with Jane in Jane's only year as a cadette girl scout in seventh garde if Jane started kindergarten at age 5, Jane would be 13 in seventh grade, so if Jane was born in 1987, the trip was 1999, so with Helen born in 1995, then she was four ! It would have been easier to date the photo, but perhaps less interesting.

Many more trips down memory lane are necessary to date other photos by figuring out what year did we have what curtains, which babysitter, what car.


Scrapbooking Decorative and Commemorative Pins

It took quite awhile to decide what to do with my assortment of commemorative pins sitting in a box. A shadow box was obvious for my military insignia and crests, but how to explain what they mean ? How to scrapbook about them ? Those military insignia, girl scout pins, Disney pins, and miscellaneous souvenir pins all tell stories, but those pins and clutch backs are way too bulky to use in a scrapbook.

I assembled my military pins on a piece of scrapbook paper that I scanned and then used Photoshop to brighten some details. I could have photographed it with my digital camera on the "macro" setting, but I really love my HP Photosmart scanner, its options, and its quality. Then I printed a 5x7 for my scrapbook page. The originals will go on the wall when I find a shadowbox that I love.

Arranging my military set was so much easier than arranging the Disney pins, an ongoing puzzle for me. If the Disney pins were not so expensive, I would be tempted to clip off the back posts and use them as adorable embelishments. Hmmmmmm.