DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

Decorating a Traditional Album


After Your Initial $75 Investment

A couple of weeks ago I told you it was possible to get started in scrapbooking for only $75 and that’s the truth, but all you’ve got at that point is a cover, pages and adhesives. If you want more than pictures stuck to a bare page, the next step is Trimmers and Tools. There are just a few basic items you need to get started, but there is a lifetime of fun stuff to collect – and just about the time you think you have it all, they come up with something new that feels as if it is totally necessary.

Two Trimmers

When you begin to decorate your scrapbook pages, there are two primary objects you’ll be dealing with – photographs and decorative paper. Creative Memories has a specific tool designed for each of these jobs.

Decorative paper comes in 12X12 sheets and Creative Memories has an amazing 12-Inch Trimmer I think everyone needs to handle these sheets. The price is $49 and worth every penny. I’ve used lots of trimmers in my decades of scrapbooking, even several versions of CM trimmers, but nothing can compare to this baby.

To begin with, the 12-Inch Trimmer is sturdier than anything else available. This is a tool you’ll use all the time for lots of different things, so you want a good one. When I say it has a double track blade guide, interchangeable safety blades and an easily replaceable mat strip, it probably won’t mean a thing to you, but what I’m saying is that it is well-built, easy to use and there are affordable replacement parts that keep the whole thing going. Because the safety blade is interchangeable, you can not only easily replace a worn out blade, but you also don’t need to get a trimmer for every kind of cut you want to make. You just get blades.

If you can only afford one trimmer, the 12-Inch Trimmer is the one that you want, because it can be used to cut both paper and photos, but if possible you should also consider the Personal Trimmer. It’s a smaller, easier-to-handle trimmer, designed specifically for trimming photos. It’s $26.50. The 12-Inch Trimmer didn’t even exist when I discovered CM in the mid-90’s, so the Personal Trimmer was my first tool and I love it with a passion.

The Custom Cutting System

OK, this is where the fun begins. You do not need a custom cutting system. You can scrapbook forever without being able to cut circles, ovals, hexagons, etc. However, the question is this, “Do you want to?”

I was slow on the uptake for the Custom Cutting System. It cost a little more than I wanted to spend at first and then once I got it, it seemed to slow me down. Then one day they came up with the NEW Custom Cutting System. They made various improvements in the system, from the mat that protects your table to adding a swivel into the blade cartridge. I became a Custom Cutting System fan.

It takes several items to use the Custom Cutting System, all of which can be bought separately. The mat is $15 and you will find yourself using it for many design steps beyond cutting, once you have it. There are a number of pattern packages you can choose, each for $16. You will either get three patterns of the same shape in various sizes, or a single jumbo pattern, or there is a Gemstone set for diamond and heart shapes. The final piece needed is the Blade Cartridges and there are three, red green or blue – each at $7.50.

Here’s how it works. Each pattern has a track on the inside and the outside edge. Each color of cartridge has the blade a certain distance from the feet which go into the tracks. Between the two tracks and three blades, you can make six different sizes with each pattern. Just use the Sizing Template that comes with the patterns to decided which pattern and blade to use. Put what you want to cut on the mat, place the pattern on what you want to cut and then use the appropriate blade in the right track to get the size you want.

If you’re just starting get the mat, the circle patterns and a red blade. That’s a $38.50. You’ll soon want more patterns and more blades, but it’s best to get accustomed to using the system, before adding too much to your stash.

Become a Real Cut Up

I have to warn you, if you fall in love with these, they will be just the beginning of a tableful of tools you think you need to scrapbook. Let me remind you of where you are in your expenditures. You spent about $75 for your album and basic page supplies. The 12-Inch Trimmer is $49 and you are in business for your first album at $124. If you want more, you get the Personal Trimmer and start your Custom Cutting System, which still keeps you under $200. You’ll need to spend about $75 every time you start an album, but the tools will be there for you virtually forever.

Once you have all these great tools, you’re going to need some stuff to cut. So, next week we’ll talk about Decorative Papers and Embellishments.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

An Investment in Traditional Scrapbooking


Last week I told you that if you were going to start doing something about your mess and you wanted to do it yourself, sorting was going to be your first job. I also told you not buy up any fancy sorting equipment, to just use Ziplocks and shopping bags. Most people spend a lot of time in this phase, from a matter of hours to a matter of months. At some point, you’ll need to start your scrapbook and these are the basics.

The CM Album

As I have said before and will say often, I’m more interested in turning your mess into memories than I am in selling you products. However, I do have some strong opinions about which products are best for your scrapbooking projects.

To me, few things are more important than the album you choose for your scrapbooking. I’m not referring to what color you choose or if you’d like it to be embellished or want to add custom printing to the spine or cover. I’m talking about choosing a Creative Memories Album Cover over anything and everything else.

I’ve been scrapbooking a long time. There just isn’t anything out there any better for your project than a CM album. You might go to the craft store and find something you think is cuter. You might go online and find something less expensive. I’m telling you, if my advise means anything, you will use CM albums, and only CM albums, for your scrapbooking.

Why? Quality and durability are the main reasons. You’re going to put a lot of hard work into your album and you don’t want it falling apart in a couple of years. No one else makes albums that will do a better job for you for a longer period of time. CM also has the patented Flex-Hinge binding. This means your pages are going to lay flat and not have some kind of obstruction between the pages.

You may have started some other kind of album years ago or you might discover you can’t resist that album you saw at Hobby Lobby. I will still be your friend and I will continue to help you with your projects, but I’m not going to be very sympathetic when the other album fails and eventually, it will.

A proper CM album uses CM pages and only CM pages, which automatically include your page protectors. The pages come in a variety of formats and I will be happy to help you decide which is best for your projects, but they are designed specifically for CM albums and if you don’t use them, you are compromising the integrity of your album.

There are a world of tools and decorative items out there that have nothing to do with Creative Memories. You will never hear a peep from me about using them. Get those embellishments from Stampin’ Up. Buy your tools from the Michael’s clearance rack. Go to Hobby Lobby for your stickers and papers. I don’t care. I find myself lingering in the scrapbook aisles, too. However, I do think CM albums and pages are your best bet.

One more thing – adhesives. Creative Memories Tape Runners are the gold standard. I’ve used everything. I’ve been known to run out of Tape Runner in the middle of a project and have not waited until I could order from CM. I’ve been given stuff. I’ve picked stuff up on the clearance rack and at the dollar store. Whenever I deviated from CM adhesives, I was always sorry. Like the pages themselves, there are a number of types of adhesives, the wonderful Tape Runners and several other items for a variety of uses. All of them are great and I use them all, depending on what I am sticking down and what I am sticking it to.

When I recommend you exclusively use CM products, this is what I mean. Get your albums, pages and adhesives from CM and no one else. To begin your project, you will need a cover set, a package of pages and a Tape Runner. This will cost you less than $75 and your memories will last a lifetime.

This is where you begin. The basic building blocks of a scrapbook which will turn your mess into memories. You are the most important ingredient in your scrapbook, but you’ll be glad if you take my advice concerning these items. Happy scrapbooking. Let me know how I can help. Next week, we’ll talk tools.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

Is Memory Keeping a Craft, a Hobby or Something Else Completely?

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com


I’m Not Crafty

“Talk to the hand!” Remember Fran Dresher? While people rarely throw their hand up in my face when the subject of memory keeping comes up, they do have several stock phrases they throw at me. I’m too busy! It’s too expensive! I don’t have time.

They generally wish they had sharable memories instead of their mess, but for a variety of reasons, they’ve already made up their mind to keep it on the back burner for someday. I do understand. It’s overwhelming and the longer you put it off, the more overwhelming it gets. I bless the day my mom gave me a Kodak Instamatic camera and a large leather scrapbook. She didn’t realize it at the time, but she launched me into a passion which would enrich not only my life, but the life of many others.

One thing is for sure. I was not then and I am not now crafty, so when someone uses a lack of craftiness as an excuse for not keeping their memories, I know it’s just that – an excuse. Oh, there are crafty scrapbookers. They cut out perfect little silhouettes with just a piece of paper and a pair of scissors. They draw really cute things on their pages, freehand. Their handwriting is gorgeous. Their pages are all about design and have more layers than baklava.

That’s not me. I have a passion for memory keeping and I know how to use basic scrapbooking tools anyone in the world above the age of five could probably figure out. I do have skills which make me a better scrapbooker than some people, but none of them have anything to do with craftiness.

It Can Be a Hobby

Whether you are crafty or totally not crafty, memory keeping can be your hobby. You can enjoy being a scrapbooker or a digital memory keeper without one ounce of craftiness. The purpose of memory keeping is creating a sharable format for your photos, memorabilia and words. You’ll need to sort what you have into some kind of organizational scheme, get it into the format you want and then journal about what’s there – whether that’s as simple as a short caption or pages of journaling. Where’s the craft in that?

If your memories mean a lot to you and most of us do cherish our memories, then making memory keeping a regular activity in your life is something you might enjoy. You’ll enjoy it more if you have a place to do it, so that you’re not packing and unpacking all the time. You’ll also enjoy it more if you have the right tools and accessories.

Here’s something else, as one un-crafty person to another; you’ll be more likely to keep up to date with your photos and memorabilia if you aren’t crafty. Crafty people can spend days working on a single page. They are so full of ideas that many of them create page after page without setting down a single photo. The craftiest people I know are some of the worst memory keepers.

Let Jane Do Something Else Completely

If you’d love to have sharable memories, but you don’t want a hobby or a craft, then here I am. Turn the whole darned mess over to me and let me fix it. There’s a good chance I might even care more about your memories than you do. I don’t just want you to have something you’ll enjoy and be proud of, I’m all about doing it right. While I am not crafty, I do have other skills that help me as a memory keeper and I am happy to use them for your benefit.

For instance, I’m a compulsive organizer. I can’t help it. I will stand in a store and straighten up their displays of merchandise or their rack of clothes. I can pick up something I know nothing about and figure out an order to put it in. It might not match the way some one else would do it or be considered the “correct” way, but it will be in order and it will make sense.

I’m also a story teller. A storyteller doesn’t merely catalog what they’ve seen or heard. They carve out the very best of what’s available to tell an engaging story. You don’t want to put every single item you can find in an album. It will be boring and redundant. You want the best pictures of the best and most important events to urge the audience on to the next page and the next page.

Through years and years of scrapbooking, I have developed an eye for graphic design and have a sense of color. You don’t necessarily need these for a good album, but they make it easier for me to do what I do. I don’t spend hours and days trying to figure out a page. I trim the photos, find some complementary decoration and slap it all down. That’s why I’m faster than the average memory keeper. I’m on a mission and I want to get it done.

You Want a Craft? It’s a Craft!

If you are crafty, I want you to know there’s an entire tribe of crafty people in both the traditional scrapbooking world and the digital world of memory keeping. They have worldwide online events where they share their crafty tricks with each other. They teach classes, they attend classes, they know all the apps and the websites. They invest in equipment I only dream of. They travel all over the place to attend events and conferences. They even go on retreats.

The purpose of this post is not to discourage craftiness in memory keeping, but to make the point that craftiness is not a pre-requisite for it. We can all do it, even if we’re not crafty. Time and expense are true barriers to memory keeping, but a lack of craftiness is not. If you’re interested, then I can help you get started. Just give me a call.

Then come back next week and we’ll talk about what it takes to get started in traditional scrapbooking. Don’t worry ,if digital is more your thing, we’ll discuss that soon!

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

That’s Too Expensive!


What Are Your Memories Worth?

Let’s talk worst case scenarios. Your house has burned down. Your family and your pets are safe, but everything you had is smoke and ash. You are grateful beyond measure to be able to hug your kids, but in the days to come, it’s not the new sofa or your smart TV you’ll regret losing most. It will be that box of photos under the bed.

While there are many families who face this scenario and other tragedies every day, I’ll agree with you, you’re odds are good. You probably won’t be a victim of a worst case scenario. You’ll probably go on living with your mess for decades to come. Along the way you may toss out those slides and home movies, because you don’t even have the equipment to access them anymore. You promise yourself someday you’re going to go through the photos in the box under the bed or in your phone, someday.

The real deal is most people don’t. They kick the can down the road until they retire, until they have more time, until they have more money, until the kids move out, until they hand the mess over to their kids or until they are dead and the mess is someone else’s problem. I have a challenge for you. If these photos and memorabilia aren’t important to you and you’re never going to do anything with them anyway, why not just throw them away or delete them now. Oh, you’re still with me, huh?

I know you have the best of intentions, but the tyranny of the urgent has a way of keeping us from addressing what is important to us. And then, too often, it’s too late. Your kids are looking for a decent picture of you on their phones, because the funeral is in a couple of days and they need a photo to put in the program.

Now, let’s talk best case scenarios. There was no fire, you have no mess and your memories are totally curated, tagged, captioned and safe for generations to come. Can you actually put a dollar amount on what that would be worth to you and to your family? The price of a vacation, of a boat, of your Starbuck’s habit, of a bigger TV, newer phone? You’re probably thinking nothing is more valuable than your memories, but you might still be reluctant to do anything about your mess.

Turning your mess into safe, shareable memories isn’t something that can happen overnight, but it can happen and it can happen more quickly than you might realize. However, it’s probably going to cost more than you want it to, in both time and money. Heck, these days everything costs more than you want it to and it usually takes longer than you want. When it comes to your mess the longer you wait, the longer it will take and the more it will cost.

What’s It Going to Be – Time or Money?

If you’d like to defeat the tyranny of the urgent and start doing something about what’s important, let’s do something about your mess. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. There’s a sliding scale between time and money. The faster you want it, the more money it will cost. The more of your time you’re willing to invest, the less money it will take.

If spending money is the least painful solution, I’ll curate your mess it for $15 an hour and put it in the format of your choice for as little as $500 an album (an album is 24 two-sided pages). If you’re going digital, then you’ll need to also purchase storage, but I have a permanent solution you’ll love.

If you’d rather do it yourself, just because you want to, or to save some money, then get ready to start sorting. That’s where it all starts, whether I do it or you do. Starting is free. I’ll be happy to give you lots of free advice, too. Like don’t buy fancy sorting equipment. Nothing works better than Ziplocks and shopping bags – and if you don’t have any, you can borrow some of mine.

You can spend a fortune on memory keeping tools and supplies, whether you’re going digital or you prefer more traditional solutions, but it is worth every penny. Believe me, I know. Ask my husband how much money I’ve spent creating these scrapbooks to hold all our memories. If you really want to get him going, ask him how much profit I’m making in this campaign to preserve your memories. But be warned, you might make him cry. He’s figured out I do this for love, not money. It’s my passion. In the end, all we have left are our memories or a mess. I don’t want you or your family to be stuck with a mess.

Next week, I’m going to explain help you decide whether you want your memory keeping to be a hobby, a craft or a service you buy from someone else.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography, Scrapbooking

Digital or Traditional or Both


Finding Your Who

What you have and what you want are important considerations for anyone tackling the job of preserving memories. Your time and money budget is a huge factor, too. However, the most important thing to think about as you plan your memory keeping activities is your target audience.

None of us are alike when it comes to the motivation for our memory keeping. Some just want to capture their child’s life to share when they are older. Others are heritage hunters who are tracing their family lines to other places or other times. People who are grieving often want to capture the memories of someone they have lost. There are also those who are looking into the far future, past anyone who is alive today, to someone they will never know, who might wonder about the past. These are just a few examples. Think about what motivates you and then let’s talk about what format would be best suited to your project.

Some of the most faithful Memory Keepers are like me. We preserve our memories for ourselves. There are no kids, grandkids or great grandkids we are doing this for. We are not famous or even infamous. We just enjoy our lives and treasure those we love, the places we’ve been to and the things we’ve done. We only have to suit ourselves.

Explore the Options

Memory keeping should never be a chore, so while your eventual audience is a factor, it’s not the only thing to consider. Whatever format you choose, you should enjoy doing it or you should find someone to do it for you. The one thing you should not do is leave your mess under the bed or floating around unorganized on your phone. My job is to help you get from your mess, to wherever you want to go.

There’s a very simple reason I prefer traditional scrapbooking. My husband and I run a real estate photography business. He’s the photographer and I do everything else. A whole lot of the everything else part is shuffling photos around my computer and the internet. I’ve tried digital scrapbooking, but it’s far too much like my day job. If digital scrapbooking were my only option, I too would just have a mess rather than shelves of completed albums I dearly treasure.

Example of scrapbooking

I am of the mindset that getting it done is more important than the way you do it and I know, whichever method you use, there are conversion options. I want to see people enjoying their memories and sharing them with others. If, like me, you’d enjoy crafting traditional scrapbooks, then that’s your answer. Create beautiful albums you’ll look at frequently and share them with others. If, at the same time, you think your target audience would prefer digital, don’t feel guilty about working in a format you enjoy. Do the scrapbooks traditionally and then digitize them. I can show you how.

If all the stuff that comes with traditional scrapbooking gives you the heebie geebies and makes you want to hug a tree, then you are a digital memory keeper. There are a variety of ways to embrace paperless memory keeping. If you think digital is your way to go, then you still have a lot of decisions to make. From streamlined online-only albums without any decoration, to elaborately decorated digital pages, there are great tools out there for being a digital memory keeper. Once you’ve done your digital job, then you can easily share it all with anyone having internet access. If any of those people would prefer something they can hold in their hand, then they have options they can pursue using the work you’ve completed for them.

And remember, if you know there’s no way you’re going to have the time, energy or desire to get this job done, regardless of the format, then you still don’t have to live with the mess or the guilt. One of my favorite things to do is take your mess and turn it into whatever memory keeping format you’d like to have. I love the excitement of finishing up one of my own albums and then paging through my completed project, but that’s nothing compared to the day I deliver a completed album. It’s the greatest feeling in the world for me and I’d love to do your album.

A Final Thought About Digital

In some ways, my passion for traditional scrapbooking is out of touch with the times. It’s a craft I don’t think will ever disappear completely, but I confess the results can be burdensome. I have an entire wall of traditional scrapbooks. My husband complains about them all the time and my nieces and nephews, who will have to deal with what remains of my life when its over, will most likely throw my beloved albums away.

So, I have worked out a digital solution for the future. It will transcend any changes in technology, it will not cost a penny for future generations to maintain, it is guaranteed for generations to come and it is also guaranteed safe from those who should not have access to your information and images. It’s not any of those familiar names like Apple, Google, Amazon, Snapfish, Dropbox etc. and we should talk if that’s where your memories are stored.

In the future, I will talk more about my digital solution, but in case my post inspires you to do something online with your mess, I wanted to warn you away from uploading to these well-known sites without being aware of their lesser known consequences. Come back next week and we’ll talk about your investment in memory keeping vs. the price of your mess.

DFW Metroplex, Photo Organization, Photo Organization Coach, Photography

I Don’t Know Where to Start!


What Do You Have?

Where is your mess? Everyone has one.

For some, it is shoeboxes of photos under the bed. For others it’s stacks of home movies, video and slides. Still others have their mess on their phones or computers. Some people have all of those messes, plus photos tucked away in drawers, cabinets and closets. The bottom line is their memories are more of a problem than a treasure. Folks are overwhelmed with what they have and they feel guilty about it.

The first step in starting is to start. Call me up and let’s talk about it. It doesn’t cost anything and you’ll feel better about yourself and your mess when we’re done! Let me warn you, this is absolutely the hardest part, so do not wait. Don’t wait until you see me next time. Don’t wait for a better time. Don’t wait until you are more organized. Rip off the bandage, tell me you have a mess and get that behind you.

How the conversation goes will depend on you. Some people cry throughout our first meeting. Others are strictly business and want a bottom line expense amount. Before we can go anywhere I have to understand your particular mess.

The first question I will ask is, “What do you have?” and the next is “What do you want?” While everyone has a mess, these questions determine the path each of us takes to resolve the mess. Once we establish these two important items, then (and only then) can we begin to talk about what is next.

Your Mess Might Not Be as Bad as You Think!

Another important question I will ask is this, “Do you want to do it yourself or do you want me to do it for you.” Recently I got a call from a woman who had lost her mom, but gained a mess. The mess sat on her dining room table for two years and she’d spent most of the time feeling guilty about it. She’d attempted to sort through some of it, but mostly it just sat there making her feel bad.

Whether you want to do it yourself or you want me to do it, budget is always a consideration. When I quoted my pricing to this particular customer, she couldn’t hire me fast enough. As a professional who was paid by the hour, my fees sounded like a real bargain to her. She couldn’t wait for me to come pick up her stuff, but from a couple of jokes she made, I could tell she was a little concerned about my hourly rate for curating. Not that it was an unreasonable fee, but that her job could take months on end. Remember, the photos had been sitting on her dining room table for two years.

The first day of the project I emailed her to let her know my progress and to let her know I would be giving her updates along the way. That seemed to relieve her and she asked specifically to be kept abreast of the number of hours I was accumulating on her project. A few days later, I sent an update and told her I had about another three hours of curating to go. She was both astounded and pleased. She had no idea I would be able to complete the job in such a short time.

I went from three boxes of unsorted photos and memorabilia to being ready to start in about six hours, over a matter of days, not weeks. I had a few photos I needed her to identify and a few questions my curating had raised before I could actually start, but I had accomplished in 6 hours what she hadn’t been able to do in two years. The point is this, your mess might not be as awful as you think it is, so give me a call and let’s talk about it.

More to Come

I’m congratulating myself on getting this post ready for publication. Scrapbooking is my passion, but it’s also my side gig, not my livelihood – at least not yet. Projects have trickled in over the last year, almost of their own volition, but I’ve wished for time to reach out with an occasional post, to encourage people to think about their own scrapbooking projects and how I could be helping them.

As with scrapbooking, starting is the hardest part and now I have. Over the coming weeks, I’ll be blogging about other aspects of my passion – from general information about memorykeeping, like this post, to the coolest news toys and innovations available from the companies I represent.

So, if you have a mess, a passion for scrapbooking or another form of memorykeeping, keep an eye out for my posts or subscribe to my blog and the posts will show up in your email.