Book Review: Of Salt and Shore
My Year in Books: the 2021 Edition

Scrapbooking: Some Backward Glances, Some Looking Forward

2021 favorite layouts
some of my favorite layouts from 2021

A couple of days ago, I spent some time organizing my piles of scrapbooking layouts. I hadn’t put layouts into albums for a couple of years and had a pretty good stack. In theory, this shouldn’t take too much time, putting away about 100 layouts, but it took me about eight hours. Because you can’t just flip through an album to find a spot for the layout. You have to look and read and remember making different layouts and smile and maybe get a little bit teary over how cute the kids were when they were little and how much they have grown and how amazing they are.

I love this hobby so much.

Kendell asks me sometimes what’s going to happen with all of the scrapbooks when I’m gone. “The kids aren’t going to want to take all of those big, fat books,” he warns me. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe they’ll wonder why I also made layouts about myself. Will they think “wow, Mom was conceited!”? Will they want to take the time to read any of the stories? Or will it just be a bunch of papery junk to them?

I’m not sure, honestly.

I started scrapbooking in January of 1996, when Haley was still a baby. My work friend Teresa introduced me to Creative Memories albums, and then my sister-in-law started making them too, and many of her friends. Sometimes they’d invite me to their crops. I decided to start going to the crops and making layouts, too, because I had this gorgeous baby and I wanted to write down the stories of the things we did and how she was. There was a huge amount of attention paid on how it’s important for future generations for people to preserve their photographs right now (it fits in nicely with the Mormon way of looking at life), and that clicked well with my intentions. My scrapbooking goal has always been about telling stories—when I made my first layout, at a scrapbooking class at the Pebbles in My Pocket store, I put it together and found myself frustrated because I wasn’t sure I’d have enough room to write the whole story once I got the photos, title, and embellishments on it. (I actually asked the lady who was teaching the class, who was a well-known person in the industry then, if it was acceptable if I didn’t finish it then, but went home and wrote the journaling on my computer and then printed it. She made a shocked face but then thought for a second and said “I don’t know why you couldn’t do it that way, I just hadn’t ever thought of it,” a memory that still makes me laugh a bit because did I invent printed journaling?)

More than twenty years later I’m still in it for the stories.

As I flipped through layouts, organized layouts, slid them in and out of page protectors, I thought about how scrapbooking has morphed over the years. I confess to missing the heyday, when there were four print magazines and I subscribed to all of them, when books were being published and there were three or four stores within easy driving distance and a huge online community. It’s not quite so vibrant and active anymore. No more magazines (and no more “write for the magazines” possibilities), no more yearly contests for the best scrapbookers (kind of glad that is over, honestly), no more scrapbooking message boards. All of the friends I had who used to scrapbook don’t anymore. (I’m not sure they don’t all think it’s weird that I still do!)

But it’s OK, because I still love it. Even without the perks of scrapbooking’s heydays. I love having a venue for all of my family’s stories and I love that I have told so many.

If, when I die, my kids don’t want the albums cluttering up their bookshelves, that’s OK. It’s their choice. (And all of the layouts are scanned so they could just keep the digital copies if they wanted.) If they aren’t interested in reading my life stories, it’s also OK. Because I had so much pleasure in the experience of making the layouts. If I died tomorrow and had to make a recounting of my life, I think “scrapbooking” would be one of the things I was grateful for. It has made my life richer.

Before I share my scrapbooking goals for 2022, a recap of 2021’s stats:

I made a total of 49 layouts, 35 single page and 14 double page. On average, my single page layouts had 2.5 photos; most common is one-photo (10) and three-photo (also 10) layouts, but the majority of the single page layouts (25) had more than one photo. For double page layouts, the average was 10 photos per layout, with the fewest being six and the most being 12. I try to make about the same amount of layouts for each of my kids; this year I made 7 for Haley, 8 for Jake, 9 for Nathan, and 6 for Kaleb, so pretty close. I made 5 layouts for my family stories album. And I made 13 layouts about myself.

Some scrapbooking goals for 2022:

  • Make more family stories layouts. These are monthly layouts with a lot of notes about the stuff my family did that month. I started working on this style of story telling in 2017, because I realized that as my kids get older, I will have fewer of their stories to tell for their individual albums, but I still want to document them. I have notes written for months and months and months and months, but I have only made about 15 actual layouts. These come together quickly because I print the title with the journaling and then it’s mostly photos and a few embellishments. Specifically, my goal is to scrap the previous month of 2022 and that same month from a previous year. So, in January 2022 I would make the December 2021 family layout and a December layout from a previous year. I’d still not be caught up but so much closer!
    Family 2018 09 September
    an example of the Family Stories layouts

  • Explore scrapbooking as therapy. When I was organizing my stack of layouts (the ones about me), I came across this one that I made in 2020 about the election. 2020 11 07 Amy thoughts on the election
    I remembered how, when I made it, it felt so cathartic. I have had a couple of other experiences that I want to process through scrapbooking as a way of feeling the trauma.
  • Share more layouts online. This makes me feel super uncomfortable for many reasons, and I don’t feel like I can share many of my kids’ layouts, but there is also an element I enjoy, which is interacting with other scrapbookers. So many scrapbookers inspire and influence me and maybe by sharing I can give some of that back.
  • Spend WAY LESS. I bought far too much stuff this year. (A function of lying around recuperating from two surgeries and having lots of time for internet shopping.) This month I am cancelling my two subscriptions (Cocoa Daisy and Elle’s Studio), much as it will make me sad to not get a box every month. I just need to use what I have for awhile, because I have a lot.
  • Tell more of my childhood stories. I have access to more photos from that time period now, so I really want to just get down some of my (I will also still scrapbook about my kids, too!)
  • Make at least half of the layouts I have planned in my page kit binder.
  • Finish up all of my birthday layouts from my 40s before I turn 50 in April (I have photos and notes for the ones I haven't made yet) and make a layout that is a summary of my 40s. 

Here’s to more stories told, more great experiences lived, and more scrapbooking!


Margot MacGillivray

Love the story-first approach - I generally start with the photos but I would like to lead with the story more often. I made 30 layouts last year - only one double pager. Both of those numbers are unusually low. I averaged 3.3 photos per layout (that's very average for me). I made four mini albums (I rarely make these) - one that I created for Edward's 30th, a Day in the Life album with photos I took in 2013 (!), and two photo-heavy mini-albums for holidays we took in the Pacific, back when that was a thing you could easily do. Overall I'm pleased with my output.

I love 12x12 ring-binder albums - they're so flexible. Sometimes double pages don't look so good but the fix for that is to stich them together down the middle seam before filing them (not that I actually do that, but it's an option if the wide gutter does your head in). I've filed using Stacy's LOM system with pages filed in the order I made them (no order) in the categories of Us, Places, Things and People - with extra folders for Celebrations which include birthdays and Christmases. For 2021 pages I'm trying filing them chronologically as I've been thinking a bit about wanting some more order. It would be a challenge to refile everything I've created so far (there are about 20 albums!) but I might do it one day (I think it's going on the "when I retire" list).

Still loving scrapbooking but like you, hesitant to share my pages with people I don't know (but my Scrapmates group is endlessly supportive and I have no problem sharing there).

Here's to a 2022 filled with crafty opportunities and lots of stash-busting!

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