Telling Stories Through Our Scrapbook Pages

I know we all have different reasons for scrapbooking. Some of us do it for the artistic outlet. Some of us do it for the community and friendship aspect. Many of us do it for the memory keeping. I suspect, for most scrapbookers, the reasons are mixed.

That is definitely the case for me. When I started scrapping, it was something to do. I wanted to be creative and scrapbooking was a natural fit with my love of photos and a slight obsession with my kids. As I got involved in the community, scrapbooking was — for years — about the friendships I formed and the community of other women who loved this hobby. But through it all (eleven years and counting!), scrapbooking has mostly been about me sharing the stories of our lives. Recording the little moments throughout my kids’ childhoods has been such a special part of the last eleven years. While many of my pages are cute little things my kids have said or done, I am also trying to be more intentional about telling my story and telling my kids more about the person they call “mom.” I want them to know who I was, what I did, what I believed, and why they were so important to me. At some point, whether soon or many years down the road, I won’t be around to tell the stories. And so I choose to tell them now.

I have actually been sharing some of these stories on my personal blog. Others, though, are told through my scrapbook albums. Many are serious, some are not. It doesn’t matter to me. They are my stories and they are meant to be told.

When I saw Little Butterfly Wings’ kit, Together We So Rock in the February Digi Files, I knew right away what I wanted to do with it. Seeing the mixed tape on one of the journaling cards made be excited to tell a silly and simple story about something my kids have no concept or recollection of:


(kit is Together We So Rock by Little Butterfly Wings, alpha by CD Muckosky, tape by Digilicious Designs)

Here’s the Journaling:

Okay, kids…a history lesson for you. Someday you may hear this term or even come across one of these contraptions as you rummage through mom and dad’s stuff. This is called a mixed tape. Actually, it’s a cassette tape, and this is how we listened to music when we were kids. there were no iPods, no internet, no music to download out of the sky. We listened to the radio or we listened to a tape (just for history’s sake, cassette tapes were at the height of their popularity in the 1980’s, right when mom and dad were kids.) We could put them in a tape player (either a big thing called a boom box or an individual players with earphones called a walkman.) You could buy tapes for a specific artist and the whole album would be on it. Or, you could do the ultimate: make a mixed tape. A mixed tape is just as it sounds — a tape full of songs from various albums mixed together. These tapes could be a certain theme or just your favorite songs. You could borrow tapes from friends and using a dual cassette recorder, copy songs to your tape. Or, you could record songs off the radio (Like I did when i wanted to be cool and spent five hours before school one morning listening to and trying to memorize the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song.) Mixed tapes are something we made for ourselves, for our friends, and for the utmost sign of love, for our boyfriends and girlfriends. Getting a mixed tape from the opposite sex was cause for pittering hearts, hours of listening and relistening, and endless phone calls with your girlfriends trying to decipher the deeper meaning of the songs chosen. I made my last mixed tape in June of 1998, just days before I met your dad. But don’t worry, just because I never made him a mixed tape doesn’t mean i don’t love him.

As you work on your pages, think about the stories you are telling and the ones you want to tell. Some of them may be serious in nature (for instance, I did a page on the miscarriages I had before my children were born), or they may be just factual or fun. Sometimes I sit down to write a specific story that is important to me. At other times, like in this instance, my digi stash was the inspiration. Either way, it’s one more story for the albums!

Rock on!

How Your Digital Presence Makes Memory Keeping Easier

How Your Digital Presence Makes Memory Keeping Easier

Are you finishing up your 2015 pocket album or Project 52 album? I know I am!

When I start a weekly pocket page, I always add the photos first. Then I tell the stories for those photos. For the leftover pockets, I have to dig a little to find content. Luckily, since so much of our lives are lived digitally, there are plenty of places to look for clues about what happened during any particular time period.

Here are some of my go-to stops for finding little tidbits of everyday-life information for my pocket albums.

I use Google Calendar for virtually everything! I have a personal calendar, a calendar for my kids, and even a meal planning calendar. That makes it my first-stop for ideas for memory keeping because everything that I had scheduled is in my Google Calendar. I just view the week I want to scrap and take note of any special events that happened.

I don’t have a big social media presence, but I do use Facebook. For memory keeping, I use my Facebook feed to see what I posted, liked and shared. If it was interesting, I add it to my pocket album. I sometimes use screenshots of my social media to make sure to show exactly what social media looked like today. It will look very different in 5 years or 10 years. And who knows what we’ll have in 20 or 50 years. It’s nice to capture how we communicate today in our memory albums.

With some friends and family, I often communicate by Facebook Messenger so that makes it a great source of information too.

Email is a great source of information! I like to search for a time period and see what pops up. Sometimes it’s just a recipe I’ve shared, but sometimes I’ll find RSVPs to parties and planning for other events that make for good additions to my pocket album pages.

Oh yes, I do love my Netflix. If you head into your Netflix account, you can browse your viewing history. Mine is, umm, extensive. I love adding what shows I’ve been watching to my pocket pages. Hopefully my kids will get a kick out hearing about Mom’s Grey’s Anatomy binge of 2015.

You can search your local news sites for the dates you’re interested in scrapbooking. I’ve done this and been reminded about a big news story that I want to share in my albums.

If you’d like to add interesting trivia, the BBC has their On This Day website. Search any date and it will provide you with the biggest news and events that happened on that day. It would be fun to add things like “25 years ago today, this happened.”

You can also find out the weather on a past date on the web at sites like this one.

What other digital sources of information would you add to the list?

Year In Review List

Year In Review List

As 2015 is winding down, it is the perfect time of year to jot down some quick facts about you, your interests and the world.

If you look below, you’ll see that I have started a quick list of facts that I would like to remember. I’m going to save my completed list on Google Docs. I may even turn it into a scrapbook page later. It would be a great scrapbook page to close an album!

In 2015…

Me in 2015

My age

My job (or school grade)

Where I live

My family

# of years married

My pets

My social media presence

# of pictures taken

Big Events and Activities in 2015

Trips taken

Family changes

Sports played

Entertainment in 2015

Best TV show

Favourite musician

The catchiest song

Best book

Best movie

Notable Oscar winners

Favourite toys

The World in 2015

Memorable news story

Population of our hometown

The price of a loaf of bread

The price of gas

The leader of our country

Food in 2015

Favourite restaurant

Favourite home-cooked dinner

Best chocolate bar

Please share other items that you’d add to your Year In Review list in the comments section below. It might help somebody else to capture a fact or memory.

Six Word Story

Legend says that Ernest Hemingway made a bet that he could make people cry with a six-word story. He won the bet with,

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never worn.

Now, many people don’t believe that this is a true story, but it’s powerful nonetheless. Six words to tell an entire story.

Brevity is powerful. It’s why social media outlets such as Twitter have such a huge fan base. It’s why editors teach their writers to cut, cut, cut. If we are intentional with our few words, those words can wield great power.

After reading an article about six word stories, it made me think of how I would write my story. Off the top of my head I came up with:

Mom of Six. Tired. Happy.


Hands are full. Heart is fuller.

Clearly, I have some work to do. It’s fun to try, though. I searched around online and found some great six word stories. It’s amazing how powerful (or funny) six words can be.

Born a twin; Graduated only child.

Trying to concentrate. Ooh, a kitty!

Torched the haystack. Found the needle.

The smallest coffins are the heaviest.

Nine month wait. Left hospital alone.

Logged out. Pulled plug. Found life.

Lost in wilderness, he found himself.

Congratulations! Boy or Girl?” “…I’m overweight…”

365 Apples. My annual insurance policy.

“Sorry. Bad hair day. Love, Rapunzel”

Butterfly. Windscreen wipers. Half a butterfly.

Obituary column writer dies. Nobody notices.

Trapped in vinegar. What a pickle!

This got me thinking how this technique could be translated to a scrapbook page. Although I love journaling, there is also something powerful about trying to tell the story with just a few words. I was surprised when a few days later I came across a fairly recent layout I had done. I love that the title — just three words — told the whole story. It made me realize that it really can be done. Rake, Jump, Repeat.

I used my Any Which Way templates from the March Digi Files to create the photo collage.

I can’t wait to intentionally try this technique for my pages and see what happens. What about you? Could you tell a story in six words? How could you work it into a scrapbook page?

Future Me

It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And isn’t that what we do with New Year’s resolutions? We make the vast and sweeping resolutions with abstract, unmeasurable results.

And perhaps the bigger problem…we simply forget. We go about our days and weeks and we simply forget about the changes we planned on making. It’s the downside to habit. According to research, more than half our day is done completely without conscious thought or decision making.

I didn’t wake up and think, “Hmm, what should I do now?” Instead, I woke up, checked the time, used the bathroom, got my sweater, pulled my hair back, and made my coffee. I do those things every single day, with little to no thought.

Because of our habit tendencies, New Year’s resolutions often disappear without our even noticing. And then we find ourselves at the end of another year, changes still unmade.

If you want to make real changes, whether it be in scrapbooking, photography, parenting, health, fitness, relationships, or anything else, you have to find a way to remember. You need to be continually reminded of the what and the why.

A few weeks ago I heard about a site called This site allows you to write a letter to yourself and decide when it will get sent.

What an awesome concept!

I remember being at summer camp as a kid and our counselors having us write a letter to ourselves about what we learned that week and what we wanted to do about it. They would promise to mail those letters in a few months (which only some of them did!) The letters that did arrive were so inspirational to me. It is one thing to be fired up at summer camp, but to be reminded months later of the decisions I made was awesome.

If you have New Year’s Resolutions, why not write a letter (or two or ten) to yourself. Tell yourself what you have decided on, why you made the decision, and share the practical steps you are going to take to get there. Have the letters delivered over the next few weeks and months. It will keep you focused, motivated, and it won’t let you forget what you are so excited about today.

Go on, your future self will thank you for it.

Journaling for the Future

I have spent many, many hours scrapbooking. With 2500+ pages, my layouts represent many years of our family’s life. I have shared photos and stories and memories. I love when my kids look through our albums and I can’t wait to share these pages with grandchildren and maybe even great grandchildren. I didn’t do all of this work to have the stories stop with us!

However, it’s important to remember that we don’t know who will see our pages and when they will see them. If my grandkids and great grandkids look through the albums, will they understand the story? Will my kids remember the people in the photos? Will anyone have any idea what is going on?

When I create pages, I try to keep these questions in mind. I want to ensure that as my own kids get older, they will remember. And if they might not remember, I need to help them remember. I do this through my journaling. If I journal only to jog my own memory, the story may be lost with me.

This reality was very real to me just this week as I was organizing a bunch of layouts on our kitchen table, getting ready to put them in albums. My husband came in the room and saw a page with a photo of my son with a sticker on his head. The photo was from more than eight years ago and my husband immediately asked, “What’s going on here?” (He hadn’t read the journaling yet). As fresh as the story was in my own mind, my husband had totally forgotten that when our son was two, he put any and all stickers on his head. We’d walk into WalMart and the greeter would give him a sticker — straight to his head it went. He’d find a sticker in his sister’s room — into his hair it would go. Telling the story on my page was important. I want my family to be able to laugh and enjoy the memories even if I am not around to tell them.

Here is an example of a page when I intentionally added more information because I was worried that at some point in the future, my daughter wouldn’t remember. This is a photo of her and her good friend. Although they have known each other for a long time, they are young. I know for sure that I can’t remember all the names of my elementary school friends. By adding names and how they knew each other, I am helping to preserve the memory.

In this situation, I wanted to journal about our love for our motorbike and how much we will miss it. I also wanted to include this photo because of how crazy it is — and yet how normal of a site it was for us during this time in our life. However, I knew that in the future, people may look at this photo and not understand the context at all. So, through my journaling, I helped explain a little to help others understand what they are looking at and also to dispel fears that we were 1) Breaking any laws and 2) Being unsafe.

As you create your pages, be careful to ask yourself, “What would someone fifty years from now think about the page? Will they know who the people are? Will they understand the context? Will it leave them wondering and confused?” By asking these questions, it allows you to be more intentional with what goes on your page and therefore preserving the memories for generations to come.

So what about you? Do you think about how your pages will perceived 20, 30, or 50 years from now? If you imagined your great grandchildren looking at your pages, would they understand the stories?

Better Journaling

As a memory keeper, I LOVE journaling. For me, scrapbooking is about more than pretty photos and beautiful kits. It’s about telling a story, using photos and words.

When I first started scrapping, I fell into the trap of just being so excited about the pretty papers and fun photos that I missed the point of storytelling. I had lots of pages with just one big title like, “DREAM” on my page, and nothing else. When I got my first batch of layouts printing I looked at those pages and realized that there was so much more to it. There were stories to tell, thoughts to be penned, and memories to be recorded. I love pretty photos and pretty papers as much as the next person, but it isn’t why I scrap.

I know that for many people, journaling is the hardest part of a layout. People have said to me over and over, “I just don’t know what to write.” I get it, I do. It’s why we at The Daily Digi have written so many posts to help your journaling. You can go HERE for a full list, or check out two of my old posts:

Something Is Missing

Buried Treasure

So how do we get better at journaling? Like most things in life, the answer is simple to say and hard to do:


I was recently reading an article on Grammar Girl (we already know that Steph loves Grammar Girl!) The focus was functional MRI studies that were looking at what happens in a writer’s brain when they are writing. It’s an interesting article, but in short, they learned that experienced writers and novice writers write differently. Different parts of their brain are at work (that’s what functional MRIs show us — what is actually happening in the brain, and where, when we do specific activities. The article explained that when we do things often, they become automatic (think about activities such as reading or driving, for example). That makes sense, right?

And writing is no different. The section of our brain that shows we are working automatically lit up for experienced writers, but not for inexperienced writers.

The more you do it, the better you will get.

And the thing to remember here is that your journaling on your scrapbook pages isn’t out there to win awards. You are simply trying to tell your story. Your family’s story. Your friends’ stories.

Just keep practicing. Take a look through your albums and ask yourself, “Did I tell the story? Will my grandkids have any idea who these people are and what they were doing or why this was important to me?”

And then start practicing.

Here are some posts to get you started:

Prompt Lists are a Journaler’s Best Friend

The Stories You are Telling

Resolve to Improve Your Journaling

​Good News for Memory Keepers

There are lots of reason to be a memory keeper. I’ve talked about my personal reasons for scrapbooking: HERE, HERE, and in one of the lessons of my WATCH ME SCRAP class.

Some people do it for the creative outlet and some for the community of other women, but the majority of memory keepers do it because they want to preserve their memories for their kids and families. In short, they want to share their story.

And that’s good news!

According to the New York Times bestseller, The Secrets of Happy Families, research shows that the number one predictor of a child’s emotional well-being is if a child knows his or her family history.

Isn’t that amazing? According to the author,

“Researchers showed that the kids who know more about their family history had a greater belief that they could control there world and a higher degree of self-confidence. It was was the number one predictor of emotional well-being.”

The article I read goes on to say,

“But here’s what really interesting:recounting your family history is not just telling kids, ‘Our family is awesome.’ Recounting the tough times, the challenges your family faced and overcame, is key.”

Isn’t that just what we as scrapbookers do? We share the good times. We share the hard times. We tell our family stories. And according to research, our children will be better for it.

Scrapping Great Quotes

My little girl Katie is hilarious. Seriously. The stuff that comes out of her mouth just leaves me speechless. I keep a running log of her quotes on Facebook, much to the delight of friends and family. Here are a few of her beauties:

Katie’s quote for the day: “If we had as many kids as the Duggars, I know what I would do! When it was Halloween and the kids came the door and said, ‘Trick or Treat!’ I would just give them one of the kids!”

During homeschool today: “I’m just a little girl! How am I supposed to know if ‘sun’ starts with a Sssss sound!”

A Katie quote for you (in her “when I was a mom” series): “When I was a mom, all of us wrestled (except the babies!) and I just banged them all down! And sometimes the daddy would help!”

KATIE: “Mama, can you put my hair up in two things?”
ME: “You mean pigtails?”
KATIE: “Yea, pigtails. Except when I was a mom my kids called them bird frogs.”

KATIE (at dinner last night): “Please more everything…except pasta and bread.”
ME: “So you just want more water?”
KATIE: “Yep.”

So it’s 9:20 am and we are driving in the car. Katie asks why we are going home. I tell her, “Because we need to go home.” She then asks, “Is it night-night time?” “No honey, it’s still morning.” {Huge sigh from Katie} “Phew! That was a close one!”

You can see what I mean! The girl just cracks us up. For a long time I have been wanting to do something with all of her quotes. I’ve scrapped a few of them, such as

However, I knew that I didn’t have time to scrap all of them in the traditional way. I really wanted to find a simple way to get them altogether so that they could be printed in a book.

I decided to make myself a template that I can use for all of her quotes. When I write down a new one, I can easily drop it into the template, grab a recent photo, grab a few simple papers from one of my favorite kits, and be done.

It’s been so easy!

Here are a few pages I have put together (these are 16×8 two-page spreads)

The process was so smooth that I decided to get started on another project I have been dreaming of for years. A friend of our family posts a new quote on Facebook every day. They are always the bright spot in my morning. I have been wanting to gather some of my favorites and make a book for her. So, I took the template, got rid of the photo spot, and started gathering some of her recent posts from her Facebook page. It will take me a while to do enough to put in a book (but she has been doing it for three years so I have lots to choose from!) but I think it will be so fun to finally give it to her. Here is the cover:

And here are a few example pages:

So do you have a fun way to scrap quotes?

What I HAVE accomplished

hooray by one little bird designs

Jubilee by One Little Bird Designs

As memory keepers, we often focus on how “behind” we are with our scrapbooking, photo organization, documenting, etc. It’s so easy to see what hasn’t been done! How many times do you stop to recognize the layouts you’ve completed? Do you ever pat yourself on the back for the stories you HAVE told? Even if you have only completed one pages, you have accomplished something special. If you have written journal entries, blog posts, or social media updates, you have done something to preserve and celebrate your memories.

I was lamenting the fact that I have so many “holes” in our albums. I scrap in spurts and I scrap out of order so in a lot of ways, I’m quite behind. Then I realize how ridiculous that sounds when I take into consideration that I have literally created thousands of layouts. Yes, I have completed a lot of pages and I’ve told a lot of stories! I’m hoping if I share some of my accomplishments here, it will help you to remember to take stock of what you have done as well. Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate what IS finished!

Pictures on Pages

06.2 right

I’m loving the simple and manageable style of pocket scrapping! Just fill the slots with papers, cards, and photos, and a memory is saved. By letting go of complicated page designs, I’ve been able to get more layouts done which means more stories told.

Here are some great resources to help you scrap this way:

Both Sides of the Spread

2 page spread

I’ve spent years scrapping one page at a time in any order I please. It’s been fun to create as my mood dictates and I still love to do that. However, I’ve been much more aware over the past few months that I really feel a lot of satisfaction from finishing a two page spread. Even if the two layouts don’t “match” each other, it just feels nice to have a complete feeling in my albums.

Help for getting spreads done:

Writing Down the Memories

Scrapbook Lady Stories_White Pas

Anytime I include a big block of journaling on my page, I make sure to congratulate myself. Words are such an important part of the documenting process and I really believe that in some cases they are more valuable than the photos we share. The layouts I love the most are the ones with words!

Resources to help you write more:

Documenting the Details

Scrapbook Lady Sixteens_free layout

With a camera (smartphone) in my pocket at all times, I’m capturing life’s little moments. I have pictures of food, toys, books, shoes, and other small details of everyday life that wouldn’t have been part of my scrapbooking process in the past.

How to document the details:

Enjoying the Process

Scrapbook Lady Sixties_Sample Layout

Perhaps one of the most overlooked accomplishments of being a memory keeper is the FUN factor. I’ve had a great time creating these pages and scrapping is a form of stress-relief, therapy, and recreation for me. Nothing wrong with that!


I love trying out new styles and I can do anything I want with a digital canvas as a starting point!

digi smashing

If you find that you aren’t enjoying the process of scrapping, it might be time to shake things up a bit and try out a new style or some interesting techniques.

Try something new:

Use today’s post as a challenge to yourself to celebrate the things you have learned and accomplished. It’s way to easy to focus on what we are failing at. Let’s all give ourselves a break and enjoy the beauty of being a memory keeper!

katie big