Taking the ‘crap’ out of scrapbooking—a new motto for an old approach

Cathy ZielskeFree Downloads, Scrapbooking109 Comments

A manifesto to take the 'crap out of scrapbooking.

A manifesto to take the 'crap out of scrapbooking.
A few years ago, I did an ad trade with the woman who runs the Skinny Taste site. At the time, I really didn’t have an ad ready to go, so I decided to whip up a quick one and at the last minute, I used the phrase, “Taking the ‘crap’ out of scrapbooking.” I wasn’t sure if that would attract any new readers to my blog or not, but I thought it accurately reflected my approach to this memory keeping pastime.

I worried, initially, that it might be seen as negative by some, but then realized, no, it’s actually how I approach this hobby.

How so? Well, let’s define crap.

1. Crap = expectations of how you’re supposed to do something. From the outset, I had to do what felt right to me creatively or this hobby wasn’t going to last for the 11 years that it has thus far. Having an expected way to tell a story, or hearing how women felt they should do pages for their children never had much of an appeal for me. I always saw it as an opportunity to tell the stories I wanted to save and to feel creative in the process. And as I’ve learned in therapy, expectations make stuff not much fun at all.

2. Crap = keeping up with the latest trends. For me, trying to keep up with every trend (and yes, there was a time in my crafting life when I did make the effort) just didn’t sit well at all. I always thought if the trend fit, then I would wear it. If not, no sleep would be lost that I keep going back to the same approach and style that made me love scrapbooking in the first place. This is more a reflection of me personally as well. I’m not the trendiest of gals out there. I just know what I like and I make it work within my loved, worn and familiar framework.

3. Crap = stuff that gets in the way of creative living. You know what I’m talking about, right? Stuff like comparing yourselves to others (her photos are SO much better than mine); or feeling like you aren’t a good scrapbooking mom if you don’t get the right photos at the right time. Or being so involved in the memory keeping process that you’re not actually living in the moments of your life.

4. Crap = painting the rosiest picture of your life you can find. This hobby is really about telling the true stories of your life. The everyday stuff. The nitty gritty. The ups and downs and inbetweens. What your life really and truly looks like. I’m not saying you need to create a detailed layout on how your bursitis has been flaring up (but if you want to, by all means do), but I am talking about real stories. Real life. The authentic experience of being you.

5. Crap = any other obstacle that removes your personal enjoyment from this hobby. I’m not talking about time and responsibilities here. But I’m am talking about the stress of being behind (who is keeping track here?) or the idea that if you’re not getting the comprehensive story of your life told (maybe because you are out there living it, right?)

So that’s what I mean by crap. And it’s sitting really well in my head right now. It’s inspiring me. It’s reminding me of everything I adore about scrapbooking.

cathyzielske.com | a scrapbooking manifesto

I designed a very simple printable 3 x 4 card, perfect for you Project Lifers out there, or anyone who’d like a handy little card that reminds you of some of your own reasons for doing what we do. There are four colors to choose from.

Download CZ_CrapCard

Enjoy! Here’s to removing the crap from your scrapbooking.



Cathy ZielskeTaking the ‘crap’ out of scrapbooking—a new motto for an old approach

109 Comments on “Taking the ‘crap’ out of scrapbooking—a new motto for an old approach”

  1. #3

    It took me a while, but this is how I feel about scrapbooking too. I used to feel so much pressure…from whom? I don’t know. But now I really enjoy it and I have stopped worrying. I have figured out what the ‘crap’ was for me and let go of it. Thanks Cathy.

  2. #4

    Yup, right there with you.

    I’ve not done my title page for PL yet, and this baby is SO going there right at the front….

    Thank you, Mrs CZ!

  3. #6
    Lee Currie

    This is brilliant and – as always – exactly where I’m at, right now. LOVE the card, and the new header! I usually read in my reader – the new look is fabulous!

  4. #7

    Love it Cathy thank you I am a newbie only on week 3 this should fit in nicely. If I could only take the crap out of my diet up 16 pounds.
    I have been meaning to ask you I love your screen shots of your I phone can you dothat on any smart phone. How in the heck do you print it?
    Thanks again Donelle

  5. #10

    Donelle, very simple. You hold down the home key and the button on top of the phone (iPhone) at the same time and it makes a shutter release sound. Then I simply send that photo via DropBox (the app) to my computer. Then open in Photoshop, adjust, and print. : )

  6. #11
    Sara Spencer

    Love your approach to Scrapbooking. I make pages very sporadically and I only started a couple of years ago. Before that I was a die hard card maker :). But I was constantly reading scrapbook blogs because I loved the idea of memory keeping but just couldn’t get started. Then I discovered your blog, and Ali Edwards blog. And between the two of you I felt like I figured it out! 🙂 I got that it’s about the stories and about life and for me; about just being creative and not worry about how cool my pages are.In a big way your blog and your books helped me love what I do. And this post…it really sums it up very well. 🙂

  7. #13

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{Wild Applause}}}}}}}}}}} and {{{WOO, WOO}}} and I turn to the person next to me, (ok, it’s my dog) and say “Cathy hit it on the head today.” Thank you!

  8. #16
    Louise Fortune

    Love the sentiment – I have taken this one step further recently and removed all the crap from my stash.
    In 2004 when I first started I had a box of donated bits to see if I got scrapbooking, very, very, very quickly I had a dedicated room full of stuff – I totally got scrapbooking.
    Lately I have come full circle and gone back to scrapping from a couple of boxes on my dining room table, I now only buy stuff if I run out of something.

  9. #17

    I really love this. I haven’t been scrapbooking for a long time but decided to sign up for a weekend event in my city. Don’t get me wrong I LOVED it and am feeling re-inspired to do more pages again, but I have to say I was totally overwhelmed by the amount of product out there, the trends that were so prominent, the feeling of not knowing what to do when others were so clearly comfortable with different techniques…and of course the “holy crap these people are so much more talented than I am!” THanks for the reminder of what is real about this whole process…

  10. #24

    Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking. Lately I haven’t been scrapping…not even project life because I’ve been overwhelmed by what I see out there. Just this weekend I went and looked at my earlier PL layouts and thought “Hey. I really like them!” So I’ve picked up from now and I’m moving forward with what I like! So A-to the Men, Sista!

  11. #25

    Oh Thank You, Thank You, Thank You !!! and let’s add an Amen and an Hallelujah!

    I feel so bad when I go to events or talk to people and they are all stressed out on doing it “right”…God help them if they put the button in the wrong place, the scapbook police might come and put them in crop jail! I do my best to encourage those around me to do it their own way, at their own pace and do whatever the heck they want to do with their own albums. My girls are just happy to see pictures of themselves doing silly things with the dog.

    Can you make this a blinkie (or whatever they call them) that we can post on our blog?!

  12. #27

    Halleluiah and amen! I cannot tell you what perfect timing this is for me! I used to be a die hard scrapbooker. Then I got busy with being a Mom and putting everyone else’s needs before mine. I miss scrapping. I have been putting it off for….years. Yes, years. Oh I follow the industry, buy the supplies, oogle over my purchases and then promptly pack them away. And then I just procrastinate. Everything you have listed are the reasons why. Well besides some of my own issues. 😉

    I began step one in the process of “Operation Get back to Scrapping” which is to get rid of a lot crap that I have in my stash. I just have too many things to choose from. It’s stifling my creativity. I’m selling some, donating some and recycling the rest.

    So thank you Cathy for posting this. It helps validate my mission. Perfectly!

  13. #33
    Ellie A.

    I always giggled when I did see that because I love Gina (her recipes are a staple in my house) & I said hmm 2 of my fav. peeps linking each other how more awesome could this get?

  14. #36

    I couldn’t agree more! I’m new to Project Life this year, and I found what attracted me to your style was the clean, simple approach you take. There’s no muss, no fuss, no clutter. I’ve scrapbooked off and on for several years – and I used to constantly compare everything I did to everyone else – and as a result, I ended up with an arsenal of (probably) thousands of dollars worth of supplies – stickers, sprays, punches, flowers, embellishments, etc. I never even use that stuff (for fear of wasting a $5 embellishment on an insignificant page – the horror!!) – and to date – I’ve never actually finished an album because it just becomes too overwhelming to make it perfect. I’ve kept up with Project Life – and by “kept up” i mean I have fallen WAY behind, but then done a mass print order and managed to stick the pictures into the slots at groundbreaking speed. I’ve tried to incorporate a lot of your digital elements to my pages, and I am considering going 100% digital next year – less “CRAP” spread out on my dining room table! I just wanted to thank you for your inspirational blog and making me feel like it’s OK to just keep it simple and, as you say, take the CRAP out of sCRAPbooking!!

  15. #38

    I am printing this article and giving it to my sister…the queen of needing everything and anything that is new in the scrapbook industry. Then she brags about how much she made at the last garage sale!

  16. #40
    Nancy McM

    Oh my, Cathy… I love this post of yours, so honest and I’m so guilty as charged! I’m going to be “clearing the crap” in my scraplife. Thanks again 🙂

  17. #45
    Kelli W

    Thank you for the printables. One of the reasons I love reading your blog is because you are honest/”real”. I try, in my scrapbooking (PL/”regular” album) to tell the “real” along with the good. And I’ve never been one for trends and it took me a while to realize it was okay to just do pages the way I liked them and not to look like the magazine pages or the galleries. Thank you!

  18. #52

    The DropBox app. OH DUH. Why in the heck didn’t I think of that?! Thank you kindly for the reminder, Cathy. Saved me the effort of emailing. I know, I KNOW, ‘cuz emailing is SO difficult.

  19. #53
    Trophy Wife

    Cathy, this is SIMPLY awesome! It’s so cool that you not only design awesomeness but that you also have freebies on your blog, too! Thank you for sharing!
    So…how about a little tuturial in PSE on how to do that cool thing to make the words justify the space and change accordingly??? Hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge…I’ve been trying to figure that little thing out!!!

  20. #54
    melissa rhodes

    Thanks for the awesome post! I am definitely sharing as I hear all the time I cannot scrapbook I am not good enough from friends and acquaintances.

  21. #55

    For me, taking the crap out of scrapbooking meant literally removing the idea that embellishments, extras, fluff, was necessary to document and preserve. It’s fine and great and lovely if that’s what you like, but for me, I decided all I really cared about where photos + memories. I enjoyed making traditional scrapbook pages but they took me forever. Doing PL or making a simple photobook (with any company) is just so quick, easy, and liberating. And I wasn’t getting inspiration from all those magazine layouts after awhile – – just realizations that unless I was part of a design team that had access to loads of free (or cheap) stuff, my layouts wouldn’t look like ‘theirs’.

    So now I get it done quicker, it takes up less space (physcially and mentally), and even more happy with the end result. Win!

  22. #56

    I laughed at the “wasting a $5 embellishment on an insignificant page – the horror”! Yep, buy something so cute and fun and then never use it in fear that you’ll wish you had it later! Then keep it so long it kind of goes ‘out of style.’ I love not worrying about trends anymore and just having pictures + words. That will never go out of style.

  23. #58

    totally and completely agree. 1st time visitor (directed here by none other than Becky Higgens) and I just love it!

  24. #60
    Abby P.

    Love it…if I remember correctly, you were in the middle of a game of Scrabble a while back, and one of the testosterone-inebriated members of your family used your tiles to spell out “crap” or “scrap crap” and left it for you to see…which ever it was, it was HILARIOUS!

  25. #62

    Your article is so “on”! I’m finally getting ok with telling the story and/or showcasing a favorite picture.

  26. #63

    I swear this is no crap – but I actually found your blog from that ad on Gina’s site. And you inspired me to find a way to scrapbook again – digitally this time. So thank you, for all those hours I now spend on the computer instead of cleaning or doing laundry or some other menial chore. I think I’ll just start telling my husband, “It’s all Cathy’s fault.”

  27. #64

    That ad on the skinnytaste site is how I found you! It was about a year ago? I’ve been following and laughing regularly since 🙂

  28. #67
    Janet K

    Thank you for the card! Great post, also! For so long, I didn’t get any scrapbooking done…I kept comparing my ideas with what others were doing. I have been doing PL since Jan of this year, and I am so happy. The pages are getting done….and they are so my style….love it!

  29. #70

    Thank you Cathy! I needed to be reminded of this again! I believe it but sometimes get swept up with everyone else’s ideas of what I should do. I will be printing and adding to my Project Life page!

  30. #72

    Amen, Sister! Now it’s time to take the crap out of my life (because everything you said applies to life, too)! P.S. LOVED Aidan’s hair on Instagram!

  31. #76

    Thanks for the definition, Cathy! I agree with each and every word of this post. If you don’t mind, I have translated it into Hungarian, for the non-English speaker, Hungarian scrapbookers on my blog. Every credit is yours, of course.

  32. #86

    Cathy, I love you 🙂 This is exactly what I am CONSTANTLY trying to tell the other women I scrapbook with! LOL Scrapbooking is a HOBBY! It should be fun! If there is “crap” you don’t like, get rid of it! Don’t do it! Forget it! Right?!?

    I personally do a whole huge miss-mash of stuff when I scrapbook. Some PL type stuff. Some clean and simple page. Some digital, some hybrid, mostly traditional. Sometimes I like to get messy with ink and paint and sprays and glue and layers and layers of embellishments. Sometimes I feel the mini-book love. Sometimes I tell long stories. Sometimes there are very few words. I get inspired by others, but i really never compare myself to them. As long as I am having fun who the hell cares!! This hobby is about me and for me (and my family to a certain extent….but mostly for me).

    Sigh…if only more scrapbookers got this!

    Yep. You rock 🙂

  33. #87
    Jane Simmons

    Thanks so for the card and for the “taking the crap out” philosophy. Project Life weaned me away from pages and let me keep the memories I wanted to remember. Although I’ll do a page occasionally, they are now few and far between–and just cardstock, photos, maybe a scrap of patterned paper and type. What really motivated me to take the crap out was moving to a rental house for three months and only permitting myself to take enough “stuff” to keep up with PL. Two boxes and the rest is in storage. Maybe I’ll never unpack anything except cardstock!

    BTW, not crazy about the new font used in the body of the blog. I’m okay with sans serif for body text in general, but I find this particular font too dense and neither graceful nor utilitarian. Maybe it’s my old eyes but the “c”s all look like “o”s, Just for your considration…

  34. #88

    I so needed to hear this!
    Thanks so much!
    Planning to start with Project Life next year, and getting ready to accomplish it after 30 weeks only of P365 in 2010 LOL
    And my perfectionism was in the way…
    Thanks again! <3

  35. #90

    Hey Jane, thanks for the feedback. I too am not crazy about the sans serif text either, but right now I am not sure how to customize it. Stay tuned, its a work in progress!

  36. #93
    Judy Sanza

    Oh, Louise, that happened to me! I had sooooo much stuff. Now I buy for a project and try to keep everything to a minimum…minimalist scrapbooking for me!

  37. #94
    Judy Sanza

    Your “crap” essay was really needed by a lot of people, judging by the comments. Four years ago I jumped in with both feet and soon had every paper and embellishment known to “us”. What a relief when I went back to SIMPLE SCRAPBOOKING! Now I try to have a minimalist approach. I want to be a minimalist kind of gal. Thanks for the reminder.

  38. #95

    Totally agree with you Cathy. I like the clean and simple style and scrapbook to tell a story rather than create a page using the latest trend. The photos and journalling tell the story and the paper and embellishments help to create a focus on the photos. Being able to express my creative side and the relaxation that scrapbooking gives me is what I love. When I put pressure on myself to keep it “trendy” then I don’t enjoy scrapbooking.

  39. #97
    Nicole H.

    This post is why we, your loyal followers, love you!! You are my favorite scrap mentor (though don’t tell Ali) and why we soak up the sage wisdom you provide. You’re our voice and so many of us relate to you. If I had a nickel for every post about how “behind” other scrapers are….who’s out there taking stock? Keep it up Zielske – we’re listening! (And now you’ve inspired me to work on reducing my scrap room down to minimum stash so it can become a nursery in a few months. It no longer strikes me with fear.)

  40. #98

    You, Ali Edwards and Becky Higgins keeps me grounded in my approach to scrapbooking. For me, fist is about memories; my artistic soul dictates that I am simple, clean and linear. I love telling “the story” for the generations that follow. I hope there are a few souls that will preserve my albums. I do want my photos to last 100 years! Look forward for each of your blog post.

  41. #100

    Cathy, after watching Becky on Creative Live, I realized I was making the whole Project Life thing too hard! I am going to start 2014 with a new outlook. I didn’t do 2013 because it was too hard! Now as I pack for a retreat this weekend, I’m thinking I so could do 2013 in a weekend if I get my photos in order! Maybe not a weekend, but I’d get a good part of it started at least!

  42. #102

    I just want to say that I LOVE reading your blog/Facebook posts. I too am a 40 something who loves to write and scrapbook. I appreciate how open and honest you are about your struggles. It reminds us we all have struggles and we are not alone. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’!

  43. #104
    Fawn Carriker

    After 10 years with Creative Memories and 2 days with Ahni & Zoe by CM, I just became a Close To My Heart consultant. I love your approach to scrapbooking (probably because it mirrors my own), and will share your slogan and tips with my friends!

  44. #106

    Thank you because every bit of crap you mentioned I have thought of and it has stopped me every time. I have just started again and I am gonna print your post and stick it to my wall to remind me this is my hobby and my way 🙂

  45. #107
    Samantha Peyton

    I saw this card pinned & had to read. FREAKING GREAT post! I have been doing a lot of the same lately to get my crafting more fun again. Thanks for the inspiration.

  46. #108

    I love this! And it fits me so well! The short story is I learned about scrapping at a Creative Memory Crop and feel it’s right for me. I loved the products and the “toys” so much I became a consultant. I wasn’t terribly successful but I ended up with lots of inventory.

    Then Bipolar II disorder happened…What that means I spend a whole lot of my time dealing with the depression and the rest of the time like a pinball going all over the place. And after that my husband died. So many of the past years have been a fog.

    I was a Creative Memories for a while. Didn’t make much money but acquired a huge selection their products. Loved their simple pages but got caught up in all the “crap”.

    Now I’m doing better emotionally and ready to get to work on the albums I want to get up to date. Earlier this week I reserved a seat at a series of four two day crops offered by a church in town. So I’ll be pulling out my power layout box and getting it set up for the album of my great-grandson’s second year.

    Thank you for giving me “permission” to keep my albums simple and easy to do.

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