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Got an urge to scrapbook?

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If you've ever thought about scrapbooking and dismissed it as too complicated, you're not alone.  Lots of people are daunted by the idea of putting together a big book of memories-- where to find the time? However, scrapbooking expert Cathy Zielske stopped by Morning Living and showed us how simple scrapbooking can be. It's all about the baby steps! Check out her great tips  for making simple, beautiful records of your memories.

Top 10 Easy Ways to Get Into Scrapbooking
By Cathy Zielske

1. Get your photos printed -- Now this may sound obvious, but in this age of digital cameras, a lot of people are shooting a gazillion photos, only to let them live neglected on hard drives across the nation. Right now, you can go through your current month’s photo library, choose 12-15 photos you love and upload them to an online developer. From Wal-Mart Online Photo Studio to, getting prints made is easier and cheaper than ever.

2. Pick up a photo album -- What? Photo albums? But what about scrapbooks? Start out with a photo album that has space to let you write a note about your photos. People overthink scrapbooking, but at its core it’s simply stories and words combined to document our memories. You can do this easily with a photo album, some room to write, and an archival pen.

More tips after the jump!

3. Think small -- For your first scrapbook, pick up a small 4 x 6 photo album, like the kind you’d find on the aisles of a Target store. Remember the 12 to 15 photos you got printed? Start with those. Then, create spreads featuring a photo on one side paired with a blank piece of 4 x 6 cardstock on the other. Use the cardstock to write down why the photo is your favorite. You can handwrite it or use your computer to do it. Either way, you’ll create a simple photo album scrapbook of photos you love and why you love them. This is a really easy way to dabble in scrapbooking.

4. Think thrifty -- You don’t need to be outfitted with the latest and greatest scrap gear to document stories and photos from your life. At the minimum, you’d  need a good paper trimmer, some acid free adhesive, some cardstock in neutral colors (black, white, kraft) and a photo safe pen for handwriting your words.  Those are the base tools to get started. Everything else is just crafty icing.

5. Focus on the here and now -- If you have three kids, and you’re starting to think, “Man, I should really create scrapbooks for them, but how on earth do I go back and begin?”, here’s my advice: don’t go back. Start with today. Pull a current shot of your kids, together or individually, and write about who they are right now, right here. If you find you get the bug to go back, you can go back later, but don’t start out feeling like you’re completely overwhelmed from the get go. Guilt doesn’t belong in creativity.

6. Think highlights -- Some people think they need to capture every little detail through scrapbooking, and that’s not realistic, nor is it going to be much fun. Think about hitting the high points via a monthly highlights page One page a month, a handful of photos trimmed to smaller sizes, like 3 x 3, and then a list of what happened for that particular month. At the end of a year, you’ll have 12 pages that document everyday life. Your life. Do that for a few years and you’ll  have an impressive set of pages documenting your life.

7. Don’t save it for the big events -- Birthdays, holidays, and other special occasions seem obvious choices for scrapbooking, but I tend to think of them as fence posts. They’re big, fun and noticeable, but most of the living in your life happens in between on the every days. Stories and photos from the daily grind are much more of a reflection of who you and the people you love really are. Why not focus on and celebrate this?

8. Don’t just scrapbook for the kids -- I am willing to place money on the fact that your kids won’t think less of you as a parent if you never scrapbook. I’m also willing to bet that any effort you make can be enjoyed by your family for years to come. Don’t feel obligated to get into this because you think it’s something your kids need. Get involved because it gives you a chance to document life, share your voice and give a context to your stories. Save your stories for you. You’ll be surprised at how it can make you feel more connected to and appreciative of the memories you’re making. Everyone will benefit from the process.

9. Take a class at your local scrapbook store or online -- If you want to learn more about the craft, check out your local scrapbooking store. You’ll usually find very enthusiastic staff ready to help you go further if you want to. Check out different classes they offer, or take a scrapbooking class online. offers a wide variety of fun, guilt-busting, meaningful classes and workshops designed to help you save your memories in a fun and do-able way.  BigPicture offers some free classes to get you started as well, and give you an idea of what you can find there.  Or, consider taking an intro class on digital scrapbooking. With the rise of this digital age, more and more women are finding that saving their memories the truly digital way is a rewarding and do-able approach. and both offer some of the best online classes for digital scrapbooking out there and are worth checking out.

10. Make a digital photo book -- With the digital photo age comes so many amazing choices for taking your photos and making stuff with them. Online companies such as Blurb and Shutterfly, to name a few, offer an incredible selection of books designs and concepts to help you create your own memory books. Using templates to guide your process, you can quickly and professionally create really beautiful memory books and the quality of the finished products is surprisingly good. Remember: stories and words. How you get there isn’t the most important part.

Comments (37)

  • CZ rocks - great tips!

  • This is such great advice. I think I might just break out my trimmer and adhesive and get started again.

    Cathy, you're the best!

  • Excellent! Great advice, I meet people each week who want to scrapbook and think I have to do 18 years by graduation! I am so glad I have been offering smiliar advice, I tell people all the time- start with the last photos you took that mean something to you... 12- start small finish a project for istant gradification...

  • Great tips, Cathy! Thanks for reminding us that memory keeping is fun...not a chore. :D


  • "People overthink scrapbooking..."

    So very true. So lovely that a "big name" in the scrapbook world says it out loud!!!

  • Cathy has such tremendous knowledge and wit-Martha should have her on her show!

  • Author Comment:

    I love the whole "taking baby steps" to scrapbooking angle too! It's very realistic -- esp. for people like me who think scrapbooking is intimidating! :)

  • I have been scrapbooking and crafting for over 10 years and yet, when I read this I think, getting back to basics makes it doable and easy. Sometimes I get caught up in the "stuff" and its awesome to have a reminder about the stories, what we love and to document the everyday. Thanks Cathy for that reminder!

  • Cathy Z is the bomb! Nice, nice tips! Thanks for the reminder.....

  • CZ has always been such a tremendous inspiration! I loved this article. True to her whole philosophy on scrapbooking.

  • Thanks so much you guys! And thanks to MSL Radio for having me on!

  • such great tips!

  • Great advice, so manageable!

  • Cathy has done a fantastic job with this article. Everyone thinking about scrapbooking should read it. It's the fun and the stories. The "art" part is optional.(If one loves the art but is not artistic, scraplifting is legal)

  • CZ has nack for keeping things realistic and down to earth (while making gorgeous pages). Thanks for the reminder Cathy!

  • I have been scrapbooking for several years. I have felt I didn't know enough so wouldn't feel happy with what I was doing. This article has helped me a lot to "get on with it". I am going to take a free class from Big Pic. Scrap., thanks to Katie. I will print this info from her and put it in my new instructional notebook as a reminder of what to keep in mind.

  • This makes getting started (whether new to scrapbooking or any level of experience) easier and I LOVE Big Picture Scrapbooking for so many helpful things. I'm grateful that I found this site.

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