The Lazy Way to Great Scrapbooks

I once had a fantasy of doing elaborate scrapbooks for Penelope, chronicling and documenting every minute detail of her life with elaborate creativity. Because at some point in my childhood I established a belief that “good” mothers scrapbook and keep photos organized.

That got shot to shit very quickly.

I think that scrapbooking is gorgeous and fun to look at, but for me, it’s not a creative outlet that gives me a lot of joy. I am a big fan of doing creative things to reduce stress and experience joy, but you gotta find what works for you.

I get more joy out of party planning, sewing, painting, and I recently started working with clay again too. I go to a wheel throwing ceramics class once a week and it is heaven. I do enjoy telling stories, and that is a big part of why I started this blog, and maybe if I didn’t have this online space as outlet to tell stories, I might scrapbook more.

But I don’t want to ignore scrapbooking altogether, I still want memories that I can hold in my hand. I have several photo books that Robin Adams Photography made of Penelope’s pregnancy, baby and toddler portrait sessions. Those books are worth their weight in gold to me, and Penelope loves to look at them too.

About two years ago I decided to buy several simple black scrapbooks, dedicating each to different purposes. I bought one each for Halloween, birthdays, Christmas, recitals, and school. This way I put one or two photos in the books each year and call it a day. Nothing fancy or creative, just something simple that Penelope and I can hold in our hands and look at together. And we don’t just look at them, she wants me to narrate each picture and tell her all about what she was like as a baby, or what life was like with my husband before she arrived. She loves the storytelling. 

The Lazy Way to Great Scrapbooks

The Lazy Way to Great Scrapbooks

So far the process has worked really well. About twice a year I print photos and place them in the appropriate books. It probably takes me all of an hour if I tally in photo ordering time.

I also like the mini photobooks from Printstagram, I get them printed each quarter from my Instagram photos. I really, really wish I had an iPhone back when Penelope was a baby and I had Instagram albums going back to then. It’s only been two years since I got an iPhone and can’t even imagine how I lived without one before! I love this way of scrapbooking for the day to day, seemingly mundane, memories that I want to document.

The Lazy Way to Great Scrapbooks

And then I also “scrapbook” Penelope’s artwork into books Plum Print makes for me. Penelope loves to look at those, too. Between all three of these scrapbooking methods, I get everything documented in a simple and beautiful way that doesn’t require hours and hours each week to keep up.

The Project Life scrapbook kits looks pretty awesome too. These would be great if you want to do a simple system like me, but want a bit more punch of color.

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Another simple tool I have been using lately is a calendar at the end of the year from I searched high and low for an easy website to create a calendar from Instagram pictures. I tried several and they all made me want to throw my computer out the window, but this one was so easy! This year I made one for myself and got a couple extra printed for Christmas gifts. I will save the calendars each year so they can double as scrapbook keepsakes!

And one last resource for you- Ali Edwards is the scrapbooking queen, I love her site and the way she approaches scrapbooking. She says what is important is not how you do it, and there is no reason to get hung up on “keeping up” with it, but that telling the stories of our lives, actually makes our lives better. I also love that Ali uses scrapbooking as a way to stay grateful for all the mundane moments, not just the picture perfect ones.

Tell me, do you love over the top scrapbooking or have a down and dirty, “good enough” simple strategy? 

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  • Laureen
    February 19, 2014 at 7:51 PM

    I love these ideas! I have done the art books for the girls and I just ordered my first set of printstagram mini books. I can’t wait to get them.

    • Stephanie
      February 20, 2014 at 4:28 PM

      Fun! I bet they will love looking at the mini books as much as Penelope does.

  • Sayjay
    February 21, 2014 at 4:54 AM

    To answer your questions…honestly, I almost didn’t open the email that brought me to this page. Scrapbooking and picture taking has been surrounded by a lot of pain in my life because of some rocky relationships and long-term struggles. I’ve figuratively put things in a dark closet in my life, where the fear to fix it mounts against the pressure of procrastination.

    And yet my kids grow a little every day, and I feel the sands of time slipping through my fingers. This is a part of my life where I want it to magically be better when I dare to open the closet door a crack to see if it’s safe to try again. I really need healing in this area. I want a pictorial record of my kids’ lives! Thank you for the simple, non-triggering, sensory-friendly page here. It’s inspiring. I want to try again. 🙂

    • Stephanie
      February 21, 2014 at 3:50 PM

      Thanks so much for your brave comment! Yes, scrapbooking can be a huge trigger of emotions for lots of women. Being self reflective enough to know you need healing in that area, means you are well on your way to healing. Keep up the good work mama!

  • Jen
    June 19, 2014 at 4:47 AM

    I am a perfectionist, so scrapboking is out for me. What if I cut or glue or arrange something wrong? Then I discovered Smashbooks. Sloppy scrapbooking. So freeing! A polished scrapbook would never have a napkin or sticky note or scribbled writing in it. But Smashbooks can. I don’t document the day to day this way, because I couldn’t keep up, but I do vacations this way and just adore it. At least I have a record of precious family times and can document how they’ve grown from year to year. Try it, it’s a great creative outlet.

    • Stephanie
      June 19, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      Lol, I feel ya! Thanks for sharing. I will check them out too!