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How To Do Project Life On A Budget?

Project Life is a simple and efficient way to scrapbook. The layouts have a clean and organized look, and you don’t have to spend hours working on just one page. You can make your project life pages as simple (just photos and journaling cards) or as complicated (lots and lots of embellishing) as you want, dependent on time and personal taste. And you can make Project Life as expensive or inexpensive as you can afford.

In fact, Project Life is just about perfect for budget scrapbooking as it is predominantly photo centered. The simplest form of Project Life has only need of a binder, card kit, pocket pages, photos and a pen, but you could even skip the card kit if necessary budget-wise.

So, how can you do Project Life on a budget? Here are some tips: Invest wisely in just one core kit. Go photo-centric. Make monthly spreads, not weekly. Use freebies. Put your own kit together from your “old” scrapbooking supplies. Follow tips for “traditional” budget-scrapbooking.

Let’s take a closer look at these budget tips!

Invest wisely in one core kit

Every Project Life core kit comes with a lot of cards and the best way to stick to your budget is to use all, or at least most, of them. Buy multiple kits and try combining all the cards: it is overwhelming and will not only cost you more money but also a lot more time when putting your pages together. Sticking to the one kit will give your Project Life album a cohesive look, it is faster and easier to choose the right cards for your layouts and it is cheaper.

Go photo centric

When professionally printed in bulk, photos are probably the cheapest items in your album. Use one or two journaling cards to tell the stories of those photos and hey presto: a cheap and easy Project Life layout! Experiment with this kind of “minimalistic” scrapbooking and you may find out that these simple, photo-heavy layouts turn out to be your favorite ones. Photos are at the core of memory keeping. You really can’t go wrong including more of them on your layouts.

Make monthly spreads, not weekly

In the “traditional” Project Life a double spread is made for each week. You can cut costs by doing a single page per week or a double page per month. This is not only cheaper but also a lot easier to keep up with. Only choose the best photos for that period and write the best stories. You can add in more pages if you want to include more photos, for instance when documenting a special occasion.

Put your own kit together with “old” supplies

Should your budget not stretch to buying an actual “official” Project Life kit, just put your own kit together using the scrapbooking and crafting supplies you already have. Cut up your 12×12 patterned paper into 4×6 and 3×4 sizes. This way they are ready to use in your layouts. Have those old stickers handy. Use your stamps to make your own tags, banners etc. using scrap paper. What a great way to use your old scrapbooking stash and save yourself some cash!

Go for the cheaper option

Don’t buy the official Project Life binders or pocket pages, just go for the cheaper binders and the cheaply available pocket page protectors out there. You can find some great deals in your local craft shop, dollar stores or on Amazon. Don’t feel like you have to have the “official” Project Life products to be able to benefit from its many scrapbooking advantages.

Use freebies

The internet is filled with free downloadable journaling cards, embellishments and everything else you might want to include in your Project Life layouts. Choose your favorites, download them and print them on nice heavy cardstock (first test if your printer is up to the challenge…). Becky Higgins includes some freebies on her Project Life website. Another great resource is Pinterest, where some pinners have specialized boards with free printable journaling cards or other free goodies!

Design your own embellishments, journaling cards etc. If you are handy with some designing software, like Photoshop, you can just design your own journaling cards and embellishments. In fact, you don’t even need programs like Photoshop, you can just use Paint or even Microsoft Word. Just draw a box for the size you want, drop in some clip art- like graphs, ledger lines, etc. and print out those beauties!

If you are more into your phone than your computer, try some of the photo editing apps available, especially the ones that can add text to pictures. You can save a plain color picture or some other picture you found online as a photo in your camera roll, open the image in your photo editing app, add some cool text in an awesome font, crop the finished product to a specific size and print it out. Making your own items will give your Project Life pages a very unique and personal look.

“Fake” the look

You can achieve the Project Life “look” without any pocket page protectors etc. at all. If you don’t want to fork over the cash for those, just draw lines on a 12×12 piece of cardstock and just glue your photos and journaling cards into their appointed places. This way you can use those 12×12 page projectors that you already have.

Go digital, use the Project Life app

Using the Project Life app can save you a lot of money. You don’t have to pay for your photos to be printed. You can use the free digital journaling cards available on the app. And even if you buy a digital kit, you can use those cards over and over and over again without ever running out. After creating your spreads, you can decide whether to print out the layouts as individual pages or as a photo album. Using the app also has the great advantage of being able to scrapbook wherever you want. And it doesn’t make a mess!

General cost cutting tips for scrapbooking (and Project Life)

Organize your supplies. Whether doing Project Life or more “traditional” scrapping, it is always wise to organize your supplies. Knowing what you have will not only save you time in looking for it, it will also save money as you will not buy duplicates by accident etc. Project Life cards and embellishments are not very difficult to organize. You can use the kit box they come in, or head out to the dollar stores to find little plastic bins that fit your journaling cards perfectly.

Print photos in bulk. If you outsource your photo printing, print your photos in bulk. This will save money on shipping costs. The hardcore Project Lifer that needs just eight or so photos for a weekly spread and that doesn’t want to wait two or three months saving up photos to print, may consider printing the photos at home. This may require a bigger investment upfront (good printer, photo paper and printer ink), but the convenience of being able to print as many or as few photos whenever necessary is considerable.

When buying non-PL-specific scrapbooking supplies:

Never pay retail. Buy your supplies on sale. Right before or right after the holidays may be a good option to find great discounts on scrapbooking or crafty products. You may find great deals online. Use those coupons!

Use free scrapbooking supplies. Don’t throw away your scraps. Especially in Project Life (where the card you want to embellish is usually not that big anyway) you can make good use of small paper scraps, leftover stickers, little pieces of ribbon or other embellishments.

Recycle non-scrapbooking materials. Go for free and eco-friendly by choosing to recycle some non-scrapbooking materials in your Project Life layouts. Here are some examples: used gift wrapping or gift bags, used greeting cards, expired calendars, brochures, flyers, old magazines, old envelopes, book pages etc. Use paint chips, pieces of fabric, aluminum foil, small lengths of sisal rope etc. The sky is the limit!

Even more tips on how to scrapbook on a budget can be found HERE!

What Should I Do With My Old Negatives?

For most of us, it will have been quite a while since we took a roll of film to be developed. Photo negatives have truly become a thing of the past. With all the changes in the way we preserve, look at and share photos, what should we do with our old negatives? Should we keep them or throw them away?

Whether you decide to keep your negatives or not, make digital copies!

Digitizing your negatives is one of the best ways to preserve or back up your photos. Photo negatives can create a higher quality image compared to just scanning your printed photos. Since there are less and less places where you can actually go to have a photo printed from a negative, it will be so much easier to recover your photos from digitized negatives! When scanning old negatives you may even see some new stuff. In the past, some photos were cropped to fit the paper. This means you could discover a previously cropped out extra family member or pet in a group shot!

How to digitize your negatives.
There are really only two ways to get digital copies of your negatives: either have someone else do it or do it yourself. That “someone else” is usually a company specializing in digitizing negatives, slides, photos etc. This will usually come with a hefty price tag. If you have a lot of negatives to digitize it might make more sense to invest in a negative film scanner.

Don’t scan áll your negatives.
Just like you don’t need to keep all your photos, you really don’t need to scan all your negatives. It is okay to play favorites and to pick and choose which negatives are important to you and which are not. If you outsource the scanning process, this may save you some cash, since you usually pay per image scanned. There really is no need to spend money on those blurry shots with cut off heads and fingers on the lens. Nor is it necessary to save all 200 shots of that cute photo session with your baby. Pick your favorites and don’t scan the rest.

Which resolution is best for scanning negatives?
Negatives (and slides) have a very small image surface. This means that if you scan these small images at a too low resolution you’ll get fuzzy photos if you want to enlarge them. Negatives also contain more detail than most photographic prints, and in order to capture all that detail in your digital copy it is best to scan your negatives at as high a resolution as you can afford. High-resolution images take a lot of time to scan as well as a lot of digital storage space. So it really depends on how much you would want to invest in either of those.

Many museums and institutions recommend to scan a negative (or slide for that matter) at 2400-4000 dpi. When choosing to buy a scanner for this purpose, make sure the scanner’s specifications allow for these high resolutions. For archiving and printing, 3000-4500 dpi is the best resolution option.

Which image format is best for scanning negatives?
Saving (and subsequent copying) your images to JPG’s will degrade the resolution of those images over a short period of time. Therefore, the JPG format is not recommended for digitizing your photos or negatives. Your best option is to save your high resolution negative scans to TIFF image format. This way all the original information is preserved and the TIFF file can be used as a master copy to produce any other image file you want, including JPG. TIFF images do take up a lot of digital space, but they will make very good prints, especially when enlarged. Fortunately, (external) hard drives and other means of preserving digital files, are getting cheaper every day.

Digital archiving is new.
It really hasn’t been that long since we switched to save our photos digitally. Theoretically, digital archiving should be able to preserve our precious memories forever. However, the longevity of digital storage still has to be proven. There are many advantages of having your files in digital form, but you have to realize that technology can fail and in order to keep your images safe you will have to plan accordingly. Never rely on just one form of saving your images though, always “back up your back up”, either with multiple hard drives (they can crash without notice) or with a combination of a hard drive and online cloud storage. Professional recovery services are incredibly expensive, so better safe than sorry!

Do I keep my negatives or throw them out?

This is the question only you can answer. A good rule of thumb is to not throw away your old negatives or slides until you are absolutely sure that the quality of the digital copies meets your requirements. Being able to scan your negatives at the highest resolution possible may give you some peace of mind when deciding to throw out the negatives.

Many photographers, librarian and archivists plead for not throwing away your negatives. They argue (as mentioned above) that digital is not a fixed format, and not yet proven to be stable or archival.  On the other hand, negative film itself will degrade over time. In order to combat this degradation you would have to store your negatives in a very precise way (more about this below). You may not be willing or able to do this.

Let’s look at some pros and cons for hanging on to your negatives:

Pros: Why you should keep your negatives:

  • Your negatives are the best originals for your images. Why throw away the most detailed source you have?
  • There may be scanning errors. For instance, the negatives were dirty when scanned or they were scanned at a wrong (too low) resolution. Should your digital negatives turn out not to be scanned properly, you could always just scan them again.
  • Your digital files can be vulnerable. Your hard drive or computer can crash or get lost. You may accidentally delete files. Saving the original negatives will always give you the possibility to replace what has been lost.
  • With ever-improving technology, there may come a point in the future where you might scan all your old media (including those negatives) to a higher, more usable quality.

Cons: Why you can throw away your negatives:

  • Negatives are subject to degradation (although slowly) and require specific storage requirements to keep them safe. You may not have the space in your home to accommodate their storage.
  • It is quite difficult to view negatives as they are. You either need special equipment for this, or a lot of patience.
  • Scanning and viewing equipment for negatives can get obsolete. This means you may end up with either equipment you can’t use anymore or negatives you can’t scan anymore.
  • It is getting increasingly difficult to get your photos printed directly from negatives. Most photo print shops are geared towards digital photos. In future, you might not be able to use your negatives for printing photos at all.

Tips for when you decide to save your negatives:

You should be aware that negatives do degrade over time. Kodak has stated that the lifespan of negatives can be up to 1000 years. Of course, there are some requirements to achieve that high number. You would need to store your negatives at 30-32 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 0 degrees Celcius), with a relative humidity of 40%. Most regular household will not be able to accomplish this, and a more realistic lifespan for negatives is therefore between 20 and 50 years. How long your negatives will last may depend on your geographic location. Negatives will last significantly shorter in areas with hot or humid weather.

Best way to store your negatives at home.
After deciding you want to keep your negatives, make sure you store them safely to reduce the chance of damage or degradation. Only handle your negatives with clean and dry hands, only touching them by the edges. The oils on your hands can cause damage to the negatives.

Negatives are stored best in special film-safe “negative sleeves” collected in a ring binder or in archive quality envelopes. Keep those ring binders or envelopes in a cool location, preferably below 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celcius). Avoid moist locations or locations that have great fluctuations in humidity or temperature (no garages, basements or attics!). An interior closet is usually the best location.

Good to know when you decide to throw away your negatives:

Throwing away your negatives is not harmful to the environment.
Should you decide to get rid of your negatives, what would be the best way to do it and should you consider them to be “chemical waste”? Kodak has a statement on its website that offers advice. They state: “Waste film (…) may be disposed of to landfill without risk of adverse environmental effects.” 

This makes sense, since negatives are almost entirely made up of gelatine, with only a minute amount of chemicals. Unless you have a gigantic amount of negative to get rid of, the environmental impact will be negligible.

How To Scrapbook On A Budget

Scrapbooking can be an expensive hobby. With all the wonderful scrapbooking supplies out there, from colorful patterned paper to sparkly embellishment, it can be difficult to stay on budget! In this article, I want to give you some tips on how to reduce your scrapbook spending to show that scrapbooking can both be a wonderful creative hobby and also cost-effective.

Tips on how to scrapbook on a budget:
Plan your project and make a list of supplies needed.
Never pay retail prices for your scrapbooking supplies.
Don’t throw away your paper scraps.
Recycle and reuse non-scrapbooking supplies.

Let’s take a closer look at these (and some additional!) tips:

Plan Your Project

If you go to the scrapbook or hobby store “unprepared” there is a big chance you will be severely tempted by all the wonderful scrapbooking supplies available and spend much more money than you had planned for. It is a lot easier to stay within budget if you make a list of needed scrapbooking supplies before you even set foot in the store!

So, how do you determine what you need? Well, you plan your project! This works especially well for specific album or minibooks, for instance, a vacation album or something like December Daily. There are different ways to plan your project and make a list of needed supplies, but let me give you some additional ideas for how to go about it.

Make a list of specific scrapbook pages you want to create.
This is easy if you are planning to make a specific album. If you’re not, make a list for as many pages as you can come up with. Write these down, for instance: birthdays, sporting events, baking cookies with the kids, going to the zoo, first haircut, family dinner etc.

Print out the pictures you will need for those pages.
Or have them printed at your favorite (online) print shop. Especially if you “outsource” this step you can save a lot of money on shipping. You’ll end up with a wonderful stack of photos that you will actually scrapbook!

Make a list of the scrapbooking items you’ll need:
how many sheets of cardstock and patterned paper? Approximately how many embellishment. And don’t forget about the adhesives, inks, page protectors etc. Knowing what you need beforehand will enable you to buy your scrapbooking supplies in bulk. For instance, something like plain colored (or white) cardstock is a supply you will need for every page and buying basic colors in bulk will save you a lot of money. Page protectors and glue are also items easily bought in bulk. Consider buying in bulk together with your scrapbooking friends and splitting the cost.

Organize your supplies.
This way you know what you have and you can get to it easily when needed. When you’re organized you have clarity about which supplies you need to refill or not. This will prevent accidentally buying unnecessary duplicates.

Bonus Tip:
Plan your bigger purchases in advance, like a 12×12 inch printer or that Cricut paper trimmer you’ve had your eye on. Make a plan in your scrapbooking budget for buying these pricier supplies. Can you afford to make a larger purchase once a year? Twice? Determine which items you actually want or need and plan to purchase them within budget.

Never pay retail prices for your scrapbooking supplies

Buy your supplies on sale.
Craft stores often have weekly sales on different scrapbooking supplies. For example, Hobby Lobby rotates sales each week and will give 50% off certain items, like paper or stickers. Planning ahead and knowing what scrapbooking needs you will have in the future will help you save money. If, for instance, it is spring and there is a sale on winter or Christmas items, buy them for the following season. Also, make sure to check out the clearance racks of stores you wouldn’t necessarily expect to have scrapbooking supplies. You might be surprised!

Shop right before or after holidays.
Stores usually start displaying their holiday merchandise a couple of months in advance. Practice some patience and wait until the holiday gets closer. Right before the holidays all those scrapbooking goodies may get marked down to 20-60% off!
Similarly, shopping right áfter the holidays may save you some cash. Shops will mark down the items they need to shift in order to make room for new inventory. You can score some huge bargains this way.

Shop online for great deals.
Most of the brick and mortar store also have an online presence, as do all of the scrapbook designers and e-commerce stores specialized in scrapbooking supplies. A lot of them offer special discounts to first-time newsletter subscribers, so be on the lookout for those. Online shopping also makes it easy to compare prices for a certain product in different stores. Desperately need that awesome new tool? Make sure to shop around online for the best deal!

Use coupons.
Cut out those discount coupons from your local paper (or download them online!) and save yourself some money! Subscribe to newsletters of crafting stores. Joann, for instance, frequently offers special discount codes to their new subscribers. Save your coupons for your larger purchases and special scrapbooking equipment.

Check out Facebook Groups for scrapbooking deals.
Facebook will have a group for just about any topic. Why not look around there and see if you can join some (local) scrapbooking groups? Local scrapbooking groups are particularly helpful in finding great deals on tools or basic supplies as their members can put them up for sale. And don’t be afraid to ask your group for something specific you are looking for!

Check out your local dollar store.
Dollar stores quite often sell scrapbooking materials for a severely reduced price. This usually is excess stock from the larger retails stores. What a great way to save money and still be able to buy that particular brand you love! Dollar stores also sell their own brands of scrapbooking goodies, like paper, albums, stickers and other embellishments. It is always worth your time to see if they sell something you like.

Check out local thrift stores and garage sales.
There are all sorts of reasons people want to get rid of their scrapbooking supplies. Maybe they need the space to purchase new stuff or maybe they just don’t have the time to scrapbook anymore. This means there are great deals to be found at yard sales, rummage sales, garage sales and thrift stores. If any of these rummage sales are advertised, you may want to check to see if a particular sale includes some hobby materials. If so, be there on the morning of the first day. Hobby- and scrapbooking supplies tend to go fast, so get there in time!

Bonus tip:
Check Craigslist for your local area. Try searching for “scrapbook” or “stamps” etc. You never know what you might find! Keep checking, because these hobby-related items can go fast!

More budget-shopping ideas

Buy as you go.
If  you are not the type that plans out their pages in advance, purchase your scrapbooking supplies as you go along. Don’t just buy a lot of supplies in the hope you can use them at some point, but just buy those things you actually need right now.

Organize a scrapbooking swap.
Go through your supplies and take out those items you know you will never use. Organize a swap party with your scrapbooking friends and swap your extra never-to-be-used supplies for some fresh items. You can plan a swap party every month or whatever schedule fits. Swapping supplies with friends is a cheap and fun alternative to purchasing new supplies. Apart from swapping, you could get some friends together and organize a scrapbooking session so that you can pool your supplies together and share them. This way everybody gets to use that expensive equipment or share in the latest kit releases. Also, don’t be shy to ask your friends and family for their unused sewing or crafting supplies. They just may need a good excuse to get rid of them!

Switch to digital scrapbooking.
If you already have a computer or laptop, switching from the more traditional paper scrapbooking to digital scrapbooking can save you a lot of money in the long run. There are many websites available that will enable you to digitally scrapbook for free (try Googling “digital scrapbooking online for free”). This way only printing out your layouts separately or in a photobook will cut into your budget.

Invest in Quality Equipment.
Especially when shopping for more expensive tools, keep quality and versatility in mind. Quality tools are perhaps a little pricier, but they will last for years and years. Look for trimmers and cutters that allow for replacing only the blade and not the entire item. Even better is to get your loved ones to buy them for you! Ask for specific tools for your birthday, Christmas etc.

Use free scrapbooking supplies

Don’t throw away your scraps.
Save your small paper scraps, leftover stickers, pieces of ribbon or other embellishments for later use. You can use small paper scraps to punch out small items, use them as die-cuts, or to mat or frame photos. When using a whole sheet of paper to create a mat or border for your photos, cut out the center part and save that with your scraps. Use the back side of patterned paper scraps if you need white cardstock. Save your scraps in a box or organize them in Ziploc bags. Give them to your kids to make cards or other crafty projects.

Recycle non-scrapbooking materials.
Keep your eyes open for everything you can possibly use on your scrapbook pages. Recycle materials that can be found around the house or obtained for free from friends and family. Let’s take a look at some examples:

Recycle used gift wrapping or gift bags.
Gift wrapping or gift bags can make an excellent background for scrapbook pages. Cut out the pieces you can reuse (no rips or tape etc). Small pieces, like the little cut-outs that hang on the handles of the gift bag can be used as a tag or other embellishment on your scrapbook page.

Recycle used greeting cards.
Pictures, phrases or drawings of old birthday or holiday cards can be recycled as cute little embellishments.

Recycle expired calendars.
Reuse those beautiful photos or inspiring quotes!

Recycle buttons, ribbons and fabric.
Take the buttons of that old dress shirt you were planning on throwing away. Use the ribbons of old dolls dresses. Use pieces of that cute, but old, cotton blouse to make your own flowers, for making clusters or as a unique background to your photos.

Recycle brochures, flyers, old magazines, old envelopes etc.


  • Revamp those old chipboard letters with some paint, pattern paper or aluminum foil.
  • Base your scrapbook page design around ephemera and photos.
    Doodle some extra embellishing touches on your pages.
  • Use free paint chip samples to punch out colorful pieces.
  • Outline your journaling space with a cookie cutter and write within its margins.
  • Use an old book as your scrapbook album.
  • Make your own stamps by printing out your favorite font or images and cutting them out of some foam board.
  • Take photos of interesting signs and cut out the letters to use as a unique alpha.
  • Use your scanner to scan clothing or other items and create unique patterned paper.
  • Go online to find free fonts, free templates etc. There is so much free digital stuff available! Print them out and use them on your pages.

Once you start looking for cheap or free scrapbooking supply opportunities, you will see them literally everywhere!

How Can I Scrapbook Faster?

So many photos and memories to document, so little time! Unfortunately, you just don’t have unlimited time to make your precious scrapbook pages. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could perhaps make them a little faster? What can you do to get more scrapbooking done in the time you have?

Here are some tips to scrapbook faster:
Determine what takes you the longest in scrapbooking.
Batch your tasks (print and layout photos, choose colors and supplies). Scraplift.
Limit your supply choices.
Use a grid design.
Copy and paste journaling.
Don’t aim for perfection.

Determine what takes you the longest in scrapbooking

Everybody has their own way of scrapbooking. And everybody has their own “bottleneck” in that scrapbooking process. What part of the documenting process just sucks away that precious scrapbooking time?

One way to find out is to document your process: Sit down and make a layout the way you normally would. Do you reach for products first or photos? Or do you start with the journaling? Or the title? Write down the order in which you proceed. Also document how long each step of the process takes. This will show the step that is your bottleneck and where you can save some time. Perhaps resizing your photos takes hours and hours? Try scrapping just a standard size photo from now on.

It is possible your scrapbooking process doesn’t have a clear bottleneck. Instead, you may discover that every step in the process takes a long time. This could be because you don’t have much confidence in your choices. In this case, focus your efforts on trying to overcome your scrapbooking insecurities.

Batch your tasks

By far the best use of your time is to batch your scrapbooking tasks. You can imagine that having to choose a photo to scrapbook, choosing a layout and color scheme for every single page you’re making is completely time-consuming. Instead, create a scrapbooking “assembly line” by batching the individual steps of your creative process. This works bottleneck well with specific albums, like your vacation albums, baby albums and wedding albums.

Print the photos ahead of time.
Photos are the central focus on most scrapbook pages. No more searching through all your photos on your hard drive to find that specific photo you want to scrapbook. That just takes hours! Choose, edit (if you choose to do so) and print those photos in batches, either on your own printer or send them out to be printed. This way you have a stack of photos ready to be scrapbooked. You may even want to already crop those photos to a certain standard size. bottleneck all will save you time.

Lay out your photos.
With the stack of photos ready to go, you can sort them into single page or double page layouts. Especially if you are making a specific album this is a great way to see which photos will go together best, how many you would want on a page and in which order you would want those pages to go. It creates a cohesive look to your album and layouts.

You don’t have to make any final decisions about which photo goes exactly where yet, just have a general idea of which photos you want on that page. By sorting your photos into layouts this way you also can spot potential problems (Are you missing photos? Is the album going to be too big? Do I have enough supplies?) in advance. Think about the flow of your album and how many pages you need. Having done the “groundwork” for those pages will give you a jumpstart for making the final decorated layouts.

Decide on your decorating theme and assemble supplies.
If you are creating an album for a specific event (wedding, vacation etc), deciding the color- and decorating scheme in advance will save you a lot of time. Pick out a background color for your cardstock, decide the additional colors for the patterned papers and embellishments. Choosing a particular color scheme allows you to buy needed supplies in bulk, or to assemble supplies from your own stash ahead of time. Not having to search through all your supplies for every single page separately is a big time saver. Get those supplies together!

Get Scrapping!
With your photos, general layouts and color-schemed supplies ready to go, it is time to get scrapping! The groundwork is done and now whenever you have some scrapbooking time you just pull out a page and do your creative thing! You’ll see that batching your tasks will greatly improve your speed in finishing that vacation album!

More time-saving scrapbooking techniques

Scraplift (yourself)
If, in your search for scrapbook inspiration, you find a layout you really like, copy the design and use it. This could very well be one of your own scrapbook pages that turned out particularly well. You can scraplift the layouts, but also think about copying color schemes, page topics or journaling prompts you like.

When creating a themed album you can save a lot of time by choosing one or two templates to use for your album pages. It really will save you the headache of coming up with an original design for each and every individual page. 

Limit your supply choices.
Don’t dig through your entire stash when making a scrapbook page. Work with a scrapbooking kit (either purchased as a kit or assembled ahead of time from your own stash). Add a few sheets of neutral cardstock colors to your chosen color scheme. You save time because the products you are going to use are already in front of you. In addition to that, having only a limited choice will help you tremendously in your creative process.

Use a grid design.
Grid designs are simple to create and easy to use. For me, they are a definite “go to” staple in my scrapbooking. Grids give a sleek, organized and modern look to your pages and they are a great way of finding room for lots of photos. Whatever size grid you use, you take the guesswork out of the equation. You’ll know bottleneck what size to cut all of your papers and photos (another task you could consider to batch!). All of which will help you save time!

Copy & Paste your journaling.
All the interacting we do on social media, in emails and on apps like Whatsapp give us pure journaling gold. Grab that text from an email or tweet for your scrapbook page. Copy that caption of your Instagram photo (and the responses!). Make a screenshot of that Whatsapp conversation with your daughter that had you both in stitches! With so much of our lives online these things deserve to be included in our scrapbooking. And copying to your scrapbook pages will save you some time as well!

Bend the “rules” and improvise.
Never forget that there is no right way to scrapbook. And there certainly are no strict rules you “have” to follow. Don’t want to scrapbook yet another birthday party for your son? Then don’t and use those precious photos in a layout all about that child and what makes him special. Does your chosen color scheme clash with some photos? Change the photo (or the background colors) to black and white and make that page stand out. Improvise when things don’t go to plan. Be flexible and creative. And most of all, don’t give yourself a hard time but enjoy the scrapbooking process wherever it might take you.

Some quick tips

  • If you like layering, don’t put adhesive on the very edge on your photos. This way you can glue them down and still stick some layers behind it.
  • Eyeball where you want to put things and start taping things down. This takes away the time your indecision may take.
    Use your own handwriting. Typing on the computer, printing it out in the right size etc. will take up a lot more time than just jotting down your journaling.
  • Sort your supplies by how you scrapbook. Think about your preferred scrapping method: by color? Around journaling blocks or embellishments? Get your stuff sorted. This way you don’t lose time constantly searching for what you want.
  • Challenge yourself to make layouts quickly (like in the layout a day process). Not only will this help you gain speed, it will also help you to grow more confident in your scrapbooking choices.

Don’t Aim for Perfection

Not every scrapbook page has to look like a work of art. Remember your “why” of scrapbooking. Preserving and documenting memories often only need the bare basics. Don’t overcomplicate your scrapbooking process, just get those memories down on paper.

Of course, you want your pages to look nice, but don’t spend too much time on creating that perfect page. Try to work on simplifying what you do on each page to save time. In the end, “done” is what matters and “good enough” is how you’ll get there. Enjoy yourself, cut corners where you can and be proud of all you can accomplish in a small amount of time!

How Often Should I Journal?

Have you ever started a diary or journal with the goal of writing every day? And when you forgot one day just gave it up all together? Well, you’re certainly not the only one! Journaling in planners and bullet journals has become more popular than ever before. And a lot of people are wondering if they are doing it “right” or often enough.

How often should you journal? Whatever schedule (or lack of one…) you’re comfortable with is the right way of journaling for you. Write as little or as often in that thing as you need. Although there is great value in journaling every day, missing a few days is absolutely fine. Or even weeks or months for that matter. 

Writing in a diary or journal is a great way of keeping track of memories, but it certainly has other benefits as well. Journaling is good to develop your creativity, it is good for your mental health and it can also help you to become a better writer. When writing your diary try to focus on creating the habit to write and keep in mind that there really is no “right way” to journal. Remember that your journal is there for you, not the other way around. It is your servant, never let it become your master. Use it to enjoy it.

Let’s take a closer look at some tips and tricks to create a habit of journaling.

Determine your journaling goal

Why do you journal? This question is important because how often you write depends on your purpose for writing. Is it to preserve memories? To sort out some personal issues? Maybe it is to track physical or emotional, spiritual, or intellectual progress? Or to track health symptoms? If your goal is to track something regularly, then, of course, it is important to write regularly. If you journal more to unburden your heart and mind and just get things off your chest, it really doesn’t matter how often you write, as long as you write whenever you need to. Whatever your reason for journaling, starting is the most important thing. In time you will find your goal and will get a feel for how often you should journal.

Write at the same time and place

Many people find it helpful to choose a specific time to write each day. Having a scheduled writing time helps you develop a routine of writing daily. This makes it harder to forget, and gets your brain in the habit of writing at a particular time. Also, having a designated “writing space” helps to strengthen that routine.

When would be the best time to journal? That really depends on you and your daily schedule. Are you an early morning riser or a night owl? Early mornings are great to write: your mind is fresh and in the quiet of the morning it is easier to concentrate on your thoughts and feelings which can make the words flow more easily. However, evenings are also perfect for journaling: the events of the day are still fresh in your mind, ready for you to write them down. Another possibility is “On-The-Go” journaling: capture those experiences and feelings as they happen!

Of course, you can write in your diary any time! Having a scheduled writing time doesn’t mean you can’t write at some other time if inspiration strikes you. You should also feel free to write more than once a day if you are moved to do so.

Make Starting Easier

Keep your diary handy.
One of the hardest parts of daily diary writing is simply to start. A simple solution may be to keep your journal somewhere easy to access and visible, perhaps next to your bed. Another solution is to keep your diary with you: put it in your pocket, purse, or backpack. This way, you can write in your diary any time inspiration strikes. Keeping your diary where you can see and have easy access to it can help you remember to write every day.

Create a “template” for entries.
On some days you will not have difficulties writing something and your writing will flow easily and naturally. On other days though, you may find it’s harder to get started. On these days, having some pre-established questions you can write answers to, a sort of writing template, can help get you started. For instance:
• What did I do yesterday/today?
• What lessons did I learn?
• What am I feeling right now?
• What am I thankful for?
• What did I read yesterday/today?
• What are my plans for today/tomorrow?
• What is the most important thing I must accomplish today/tomorrow/this week? Why?

Use bullet points for brief entries.
If you don’t have much time, or perhaps just don’t feel like writing a lot, you can just write some bullet points that capture the day. This way you still honor your daily writing habit and you cover the main events of your day. Sometimes, these bullet points might provide content for a longer entry you write at some later time. Even if not, it’s better to have just written down something and not skip a day.

For example, your entry might read:
• Met Sarah for Lunch at new coffee shop.
• Working on a new project at work – will funding come through?
• Started reading Crime and Punishment, interesting so far, but a little hard to follow.

Make writing its own reward

If the process of journal writing is pleasurable, then writing is its own reward. If journaling becomes just another task on your “to do” list then you are more likely to write less consistently. So, how can you make writing its own reward? Or, in other words, how can you make journal writing pleasurable? Here are a few tips:

Don’t (just) focus on the negative, make your journal writing more upbeat.
Review the good things that have happened in your day and remind yourself of all the good things in your life and the positive things of that day.

If necessary, use your journaling time as therapy. You may have some difficult issues in your life that need to be resolved or you just need to vent, rant and rave. Capturing your feelings in words is not only very therapeutic, it also develops your creative writing talents.

If you don’t have much time just keep it short. Don’t force yourself to write just for the sake of writing. One way of keeping it super short is to challenge yourself to come up with a one-word journal entry that captures your day. This will save time ánd force you to really think about your day and about your writing.

If needed, turn off your inner critics and allow yourself an uncriticized amount of time where you can let your words flow freely. The inner critics may grumble and mutter for a bit, but then you can quickly start writing, and keep tell any negative voices to simply quiet down.

Don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
Focussing on “language rules” will only distract you or slow you down. This will hinder your creativity. Write for yourself, don’t worry about other’s opinions. Your diary is for you, nobody else. You can always correct your own spelling and grammatical errors after you’ve written what you wanted to write. Don’t let it slow you down during the writing process itself.

Keep it interesting for yourself

Write detailed descriptions.
Writing about events in detail will make your writing a lot more interesting. It forces you to think creatively about the event you’re trying to describe. For example, you could write: “I saw my favorite band play a concert tonight.” That’s not particularly compelling. If, on the other hand, you vividly describe the wild applause of the crowd, the guitar player’s solo, and the moment when the singer bent down and kissed someone in the front row on the cheek you really make this memory come alive. That will make it more interesting to write, and also to read later on.

Write about thoughts and feelings.
This will be especially powerful if you combine it with the detailed description of the event. So try to not write about the event itself, but also your emotions and feelings about that event. This, also, will strengthen your creative writing talents and it can also help you to use your diary to process your feelings during difficult times.

Be honest.
Being honest in your journal entries will not only make your writing more interesting, plus it will also make the experience more beneficial for you. Remember that you write for you alone. Give yourself the freedom to explore your thoughts and feelings in total honesty.

Ad visuals!
You can add visuals by adding some small mementos to your writing, for instance: the ticket stub of that fantastic concert. Adding these little extras will help you be more creative and also liven up your journal. If the mood and inspiration strikes you, go beyond “just” writing: scribble, draw, doodle, paste, color, staple, list, clip, rip, cut, splash, blot, and do whatever else in those pages you like. Sometimes nothing captures a certain mood better than a badly drawn emoji or cartoon.

What to Do When a Scrapbook Gets Wet?

Having a flood or water damage in your home can be a disaster. Not only can it ruin floors, walls and furniture, it can damage important paperwork and books and memorabilia. And that includes your precious scrapbooks. Water can cause the inks and dyes of journal entries, digital photographs and decorative papers to bleed making them appear blurry or streaked. Wet paper becomes distorted or warped and some may even completely dissolve in water.

What to do when a scrapbook gets wet?

  • Remove the pages from their page protectors.
  • Remove, if possible, the photos from the pages.
  • Dry out the photos and scrapbook pages. Avoid direct sunlight.
  • Test any cleaning, flattening or other treatment on a less important print before applying the technique tot he rest of the album.
  • If you don’t have the time to immediately dry out your pages, freeze them in order to prevent mold growth.

Let’s review these steps, and additional advice, in more detail.

Remove the pages from their page protectors

Once your scrapbook gets wet, mold can begin to grow in two or three days. Don’t try to dry your pages inside their page protector as they will hold the water inside. Remove the pages from their page protectors as soon as possible and carefully blot away the excess moisture. Don’t rub or scrub, just blot. Lay the papers flat on blotter paper or some other medium that is very good at absorbing moisture. You can use paper towels, but make sure that you stick to the plain white or unbleached ones, as printed towels may bleed onto the pages. Newspaper should also be avoided because the ink will transfer to the book. Don’t turn up the heat in order to dry out the pages faster, this may cause the mold to grow faster. Instead, place an oscillating fan in the room where the papers are drying, so that you can increase the air circulation and help them to try faster.

If your scrapbook doesn’t have pages in page protectors, but rather is more like a photo book, the best way is to place a sheet of absorbent paper between the wet pages and lay the book flat to dry. You don’t necessarily have to place blotter paper (or paper towels) between every page – just every 20 pages or so. As the blotter paper becomes saturated, you can change it every few hours.

Remove the photos from the pages

It may take two to three days for the photos to dry completely.

Damaged photographs for which there are no negatives should receive attention first.

Be gentle, don’t rush. Handle wet photos carefully. The surfaces may be fragile. Carefully remove the photographs from the scrapbook pages. If the photo is tearing, stop, and try to dry out the photo while attached to its page.

Gently rinse both sides of the photo in a bucket or sink of clear, cold water. Don’t rub the photos, and change the water frequently. Gently remove dirt and debris by blowing it off or shaking the photo gently. Do not try to blot or wipe it away, as this could cause the ink to smear, or you may scratch the surface of the photograph.

After removing the photos, dry them. The preferred method is to hang them on a line. Hang them from one corner, attached with only one clip. Gravity will cause the water to run down from the photo toward the point. This keeps the paper from warping as the water’s weight allows the top part to dry first, keeping downward pressure on the drying paper.

If you can’t hang them, lay them flat face-up on a clean absorbent material (blotting paper or paper towels). This way, however, they may be more prone to buckling and warping here and there. Should this happen, You could add weights to the tips of the photos to keep them down or flatten them once they are totally dry.

Do not put them in direct sunlight. Run a fan to circulate air over and around the items as they dry.

Additional tips for cleaning and drying photos

If you don’t have room to lay out your photos in a single layer, you can try putting wax paper in between each photo.

If any photos are stuck together, soak them for at least an hour in lukewarm water. Gently peel apart. You can also try freezing them as a bunch, wrapped in wax paper. During thawing, carefully peel the photos off one by one and let them air dry.

If the photos are smeared or drenched with a sticky or other liquid, clean off the liquid by soaking the photo in water and carefully drying it as described above.  Some liquids, like coffee, tea, grape juice, wine, and the like, may not come off very easily, however.

As the photos dry and images appear, take photos of the photographs. They may actually get worse as they dry, so you will at least have a photo image of the picture.

In this age of digital photography you probably have a digital copy of the photos used in your scrapbooks backed up and available. In that case, please keep in mind that your photos might be easier to replace than, for instance, the journaling or ephemera. You may want to focus your water damage rescue actions on those irreplaceable items first.

Freeze the pages and photos if there’s no time to dry them immediately

Ideally, your scrapbooks should be dried out as soon as possible. This way, they don’t have a chance to get moldy. Mold will normally grow on wet materials in about 48 hours (sometimes sooner) and will grow rapidly thereafter.  If, However, you don’t have the time to immediately dry the scrapbooks, the best thing to do is to place them (or the loose pages and photos) in a resealable plastic bag and put them in the freezer. This will kill any active mold and inhibits further growth, and thereby save the pages and photos from deteriorating any further.

Dry out other important paperwork

Marriage licenses, birth certificates, favorite books, letters, old tax returns and other paper-based items can usually be saved after getting wet. Again, the key is to remove the dampness as soon as possible, before mold sets in.

The simplest approach to salvaging water-damaged papers and books is to lay the damp items on blotter paper, which will absorb moisture. Paper towels are a good option, as long as you stick to the plain white ones without the fancy prints. Newspaper should also be avoided because its ink may run.

Saving your scrapbooks from dirty water

If the books have been in dirty flood water, you might need to rinse them clean before you begin the drying process. Gently rinse them in a sink or a bucket of cold, clean water. If you think that rinsing them in a bucket might damage them, you can also lay the paper on a flat surface and gently spray it with clean water as well. Be sure not to scrub the pages as doing so will tear the fibers. Loose, dry dirt can often be removed with a soft-bristled brush.

Get rid of that musty smell

When your books and papers have finished drying, they may still have a musty smell. In order to get rid of this, you can place them, propped open, in an open box and then put that in a different larger closed container – with an open box of baking soda. As long as the baking soda doesn’t touch the books, it will absorb the odor. Clean cat litter can also be used. This process may take a while.

Don’t use chemicals

Don’t try to clean your scrapbook pages and photos or prevent mold from growing on them by using chemical products. Using chemical “Quick cures”, such as spraying Lysol on your pages or cleaning them with bleach may cause additional or unforeseen damage. Also, they often don’t’ work.

If necessary, consult a professional

If nothing has worked and the photos or scrapbook pages are too important to let go you may try to consult a professional. Professional photography restoration services can be found through professional photographers, antique restoration professionals, and sometimes through colleges and universities.

How to prevent water damage from happening (again)

Store Your Books High

If you want to avoid your books being damaged by flooding in the future, you should do your best to keep them as high up as possible. Although they still might suffer from humidity damage, they will be a lot safer than if they were in boxes on the floor. If you can’t store them high, at least store your scrapbooks in a dry area, not in the basement or near water pipes.

If you want to make absolutely sure that your scrapbooks don’t get water damaged, store them in large plastic Ziploc bags or waterproof containers.

Digitize and Back Up

Digitize your scrapbook layouts. You can scan entire album pages if they fit on your scanner, so you can record captions or the arrangement of pictures on a page. In a pinch, snap pictures with your mobile device: close-ups of photographs and captions, and full-page images that at least capture how it’s laid out (even if at a lower resolution). 

Also, digitize the photos of which you only have a hard copy. Don’t forget to digitize your negatives as well.

Back up your photos (especially important ones such as baby photos or family history photos) regularly. There are different ways to do this: burn them on CDs, use cloud-based storage services (such as Google Drive or Dropbox), copy them to one or several external hard drives or memory cards. The most secure way of backing up your photos is to choose several methods simultaneously. Don’t rely on just one. Consider storing one copy of your photo cd’s or external hard drives in someone else’s house for extra security.