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The Most Essential Scrapbooking Lesson

Essential Scrapbook LessonHave you ever read a blog post and thought, “I should do that!”  That’s what happened when I read THIS POST  on the Creating Keepsakes Blog.

What was this super inspiring blog post you ask? Stacy Croninger simply wrote about how she started scrapbooking.

In telling my story I need to share the most essential lesson that years of scrapbooking has taught me. So, on with the story…

It all started in 1999 with the birth of my first child, my son Joe.

Actually, it started BEFORE that!

I was invited to attend a Creative Memories scrapbooking party.  I was asked to bring 4-6 photos with me and a small fee to cover the cost of supplies.

I showed up at the party with my photos and money and was ready to learn about scrapbooking. I took my 5 completely unrelated photos and attached them to the page with some decorative paper triangles in the corner and a sneeze of stickers. TA DA! My first ever scrapbook page!

My very first scrapbook page, created in 1997!

At the time the cost of the supplies was prohibitive to me, and to be honest, the idea of cutting my precious photos made me fairly uncomfortable. That was the end of my adventures in scrapbooking for a year and a half.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I started to think about creating a baby book.  I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied with a baby book that didn’t include tons of photos, so I decided I would create a scrapbook baby book. (This was a fairly new concept back then. Most baby books were a store bought fill-in-the-blank book.)

I went back to the lady from Creative memories, purchased an album, some adhesive squares, a special journaling pen and my first tool, a corner rounder. Now I was a SCRAPBOOKER!

Baby Album Scrapbooked in 1999


Over the years I’ve seen many changes in scrapbooking. Tools, techniques, supplies and styles have all changed dramatically.  The one thing that remains constant is the purpose of scrapbooking, to capture the stories and memories of your life.

I look back at my older pages with a bit of disappointment and regret. There are so many pages where I’ve left the journaling for later, or I didn’t know what to say, or I simply said “You’re so cute!” or “We had fun!”

I didn’t realize how important the stories were. I didn’t understand that I wouldn’t always remember those adorable little details. I didn’t know that my own handwriting was good enough. I didn’t know that years later, it wouldn’t be the design or embellishments that disappointed me, but the lack of journaling on the page. Journaling is the most important part of a scrapbook page.

I hope you will take this essential scrapbooking lesson to heart. Save time and learn it now so you will have no regrets later!

Happy Scrappin’


P.S. I’d love to hear what YOUR most essential scrapbooking lesson has been, or how you got started in this hobby.  Leave your story in the comments!




Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Kristy 2 May, 2014, 9:40 am

    One of the things I tell myself when I look at my first pages I ever did is – it’s a process. There are times I’d like to go back and “fix” my earlier pages. But then I remember, the development of my scrapbooking style is a story in itself. I wouldn’t want to change that story. It shows how I’ve grown as a creative person. I may cringe at the simplicity of the early pages, but every story has a beginning; a point to jump off from. These pages are my story – simple or complex. They are part of my process.

    • Alice. 2 May, 2014, 10:21 am

      I totally agree Kristy! I did try to fix a couple of pages and I was very unhappy with the results. I tried to keep the old layout and just spruce it up… never again!

      I’ve learned to love the old pages. They show how far I’ve grown artistically and as with my journaling. I don’t need to worry about fixing pages I’ve already completed, I have too many more stories to tell!

  • Kristie 2 May, 2014, 12:32 pm

    You are certainly not alone with pages that look just like it, and many of us are horrified with what was done to the photos. Cropping is one thing…. but….! They are a testament for the changes we have seen in this industry. The story telling is so vital. I think of that looking at pictures of my childhood. I wish I knew the stories that could have been told with the photos. As I write my own stories, it is the best feeling to have my kids read a page, look at me and say, “I didn’t know that!” Story documented success!

    • Alice. 2 May, 2014, 4:12 pm

      That is a definite success Kristie!

  • Dawn 28 January, 2015, 11:59 pm

    Yeah…..LOL. So many of my pages look like that. But that was the style and the techniques we new back then!! We have new clothes now, and new glasses, and new hair styles so our scrapbooking techniques and talents and creativness are going to change too. And I thought, oh gosh, how enbarassing, I need to fix this. But decided I had lots of other pictures to catch up on instead. And now I’m glad I didn’t because now I can also see where I’ve improved!!

  • Laura 1 April, 2015, 12:17 pm

    That’s EXACTLY how I started scrapbooking. I was invited to a Creative Memories party and brought my photos and did a page. I was immediately hooked and bought an album and photo sliced and circle cutters. I still have the circle cutters, lol. I don’t like my early pages but will never change them. I loved them at the time and they still make me smile.

    • Alice. 1 April, 2015, 12:19 pm

      I went through a period of time where I felt my pages were inadequate, so I tried to ‘fix’ them… they turned out worse! Thankfully I learned that lesson and I just move on! Thanks for commenting Laura! This hobby does have a way of getting you hooked!

  • Bronwyn Reid 30 April, 2015, 3:29 am

    Like you, I also first tried ‘scrapbooking’ (as a group participant) with a Creative Memories consultant, with very much the same kind of trimmings as you show in your first page. They made me cringe a bit then, and still do (but I have pulled a few early albums apart and re-done them since). I do have some (of my MANY) albums from ten years and more back that I am still very fond of even if they were nowhere near as sophisticated as my more recent ones are. Still quite proud of some of my own ideas! Bron

    • Alice. 30 April, 2015, 11:25 pm

      Thanks for commenting Bronwyn. I think even though the pages are not as pretty and sophisticated I still connect with the photos and the stories told. I can’t feel bad about not knowing how to create in a different style, but I’m sure glad that scrapbooking has branched out so much since then! I too have a few pages that I’m quite proud of, and I remember how excited I was when I made them. That’s totally worth it, even if they aren’t ‘stylish’!

  • Michele Harmon 23 March, 2016, 6:15 am

    I seem to be joining the part late, as I am new to your blog. Reading you last post here- I have always been a scrap booker before it was popular and SAFE. But who cares about being up to date and with the latest trend. For me— I see too many pages that have just 1 photo and too many embellishments, paper pieces, stuff to decorate the page itself. The page is about the picture, the moment you captured and remembering it …not the decoration. Seeing those pictures should evoke the same feelings of the day you took the photo. I feel my page is not complete until I journal as I finish the process of my layout.

    • Alice. 10 April, 2016, 1:40 pm

      You are speaking my language! I know that once in a while I make a truly beautiful scrapbook page, but some of my favourites are not really that amazing, they just take me back to a special time and memory. That’s what it’s all about!

  • Leonie 29 March, 2016, 3:46 pm

    I have learnt the photos and journalling are the most important things. I struggle to put any sort of embelishments on my pages, and at the end of the day they are such a minute part of the page

    • Alice. 10 April, 2016, 1:43 pm

      May I suggest that you make peace with that. It’s your style. If you don’t like to embellish, DON’T! Enjoy your pages for what they ARE, not what they AREN’T. It looks like you truly know what’s important to you, that tells me that you’ll create pages that mean a lot to you and your loved ones.

  • Janet Schiro 18 May, 2016, 1:21 pm

    I started about the same time as you did, alice. And with Creative Memories and with stickers all over the page! But since then, I have progressed, worked in a scrapbook store, and religiously go to the CKC Expo every year. Loved my pages back then–but you are certainly right–journal more!

  • Stacey 25 May, 2016, 8:56 am

    I cringe when looking at many old scrapbook pages. Here’s my solution: I’ve made a deal with myself that I will honor that time and that style and leave the pages alone. However I will go back from time to time and scab there old photos from the page when I feel like I need to tell a missing story that I no longer have photos for. The old CM scrapbooks are definitely like a time capsule of sticker sneezes, oddly shaped photos and too much strict chronology !

  • Sheri 5 July, 2017, 5:55 am

    I started because my sister wanted to make her wedding invitations and as the maid of honour, and “crafty one”, I was enlisted to help. I swore I would never start scrapbooking because I didn’t need another expensive hobby. But one class on making invitations, playing with punches, and I was hooked. I tried to get “caught up” on my first son’s milestones while I was pregnant with my second son, and guess what? I’m still behind LOL. But I LOVE the creative process, I love the joy that I get from capturing my memories in an artistic way, and I especially love the connections and relationships I’ve made with sister scrappers.

    • Alice. 5 July, 2017, 5:11 pm

      Lol! It’s funny the way we don’t think this ‘hobby’ is what we want until we end up doing it! Connections with other scrappers is one of the things that keep me motivated. That’s why I joined the ScrapHappy membership group. Over the years things changed and now I’m running the group and I LOVE it! If you’d like to connect with some online scrappers that are very positive and supportive check it out! http://scraphappy.org

  • Sharon Underwood 30 August, 2017, 10:29 am

    My older pages reflect my lack of understanding how to follow the eye on a page. There’s too much stuff, all over the place, on a page! It’s like popcorn blew up & landed on my scrapbook pages. Awful! Now I know how to make the eye follow it’s natural direction with better placement of pictures, journalist & embellishments. Thank goodness!

    • Alice. 28 June, 2018, 10:24 pm

      I think we did the best we could with what we knew at the time. As chaotic as those early pages are they taught us some good lessons and helped us to be ready for a new style of scrapbooking as our skills evolved!

  • Heather Beasley 7 February, 2018, 7:29 am

    Thank you for being “brave” enough to show your first pages! My first album looked just like those! And, my 3 kids LOVE that album the best. I can’t believe it! But it’s because I SHARED the STORY on each page. I agree, journalling is more important than ANYTHING you can put on a layout. Thank you for reminding me!

    • Alice. 28 June, 2018, 10:25 pm

      As much as we love the fun techniques and the art, you have the perfect reminder of what’s truly important!

  • Vickie Masters 20 June, 2018, 1:41 pm

    I have pages that look very similar to yours. I began with Creative Memories too. We have come a long way! I agree with you that journaling is the most important thing on a page. That is why I scrapbook – to get the memories down on paper, telling the story about the pictures. Love this hobby!

    • Alice. 28 June, 2018, 10:27 pm

      I love it too Vickie! I love telling the stories and making connections with other scrappers, it’s all part of the fun!

  • Debbie sykes 27 June, 2018, 3:20 pm

    Alice I have a question about how to use up remaining letters and numbers when you have so many left over from a project and nothing makes words or letters (like not enough) to make so I have all these left overs what to do? Any help appreciated

    • Alice. 28 June, 2018, 10:29 pm

      I’ve seen people mix and match different alphas… this isn’t my favourite though, except when you paint the letters all one colour.

      The coolest thing I’ve seen is to take the alphas and use them to create cool backgrounds. It’s perfect on a page about reading, learning or school.

  • Linda 27 June, 2018, 7:35 pm

    I wish I knew this years ago. I am just now trying to do my books for my sons and unfortunately one of my sons has passed and looking at pictures now I can’t remember why I thought they were so important. So everyone please do your journaley right away.

    • Alice. 28 June, 2018, 10:23 pm

      I’m so sorry Linda. A touching reminder that our memory fades and it’s so important to capture those stories now.

  • Lorna 9 August, 2018, 1:10 pm

    Alice, I like the quote you use: There are no mistakes . . .

    I have this problem of very little journaling on my scrapbook pages.
    How can I add journaling many years later? I’ve thought of using vellum or inserting it between the pages. I would appreciate some ideas from you all.

    • Alice. 30 October, 2018, 5:32 pm

      Depending on the type of album you have I have a couple of suggestions. Rather than alter the pages that are already created I’d suggest putting journaling on album add-ins that sit between the pages. Like small 4×6 or 6×8 page protectors, depending on how much story you have to tell.
      If the albums are post-bound that would be difficult, so I’d suggest using a product like the Close to my Heart “flip flaps” that stick right to the page protector. They’re cheap and easy to use, one of my favourite add-ons for pocket scrapping, but they’d be perfect for this, plus they come in different sizes.
      (I’m not a CTMH consultant, but I used to be.)

  • Shannan 5 September, 2018, 9:53 am

    Thank you for sharing. My pages looked very similar. I have re-done the pages from the past because they looked elementary to me. I still need creative ideas and have to” scrap lift ” a lot of ideas. I get discouraged because everyone else does such wonderful pages. I know not to compare myself to others but it’s hard sometimes. Now 20 years later I have my own scrapbook room, have been to a few Expos, have lots of new supplies and still its hard to get started and commit to a page layout. I’m glad I found your site. It is very very helpful and I look forward to reading it.
    Thank you,

  • Mel Davis 30 October, 2018, 4:55 pm

    I have the same regret Alice, looking back at pages without journalling. I started with a baby scrapbook too and I actually wrote quite a bit in it although I wish I had thought to take hand and foot prints. That would have been awesome to look back on. It was really the progression of scrapbooking products that drew us away from actual memory keeping and just creating arty pages. I’m so thankful for “industry” people like you and some others that have drawn us back to writing the story as well as creating with pretty stuff.

    • Alice. 30 October, 2018, 5:28 pm

      Thank you Mel. I went through that whole, “My pages are not pretty enough” stage, but thankfully I found a better way that let’s me share my stories. Thanks for commenting!