My summer hiatus in 2014 became a three year hiatus! In three years, I’ve seen many of my favorite scrappy bloggers quit blogging or substantially reduce their blogging. The Paperclipping Roundtable podcast has ended. Two Peas has closed. And I mostly only shop at Michael’s for scrapbooking supplies these days…I live nowhere near an independent scrapbook store. Plus, I have a decade+ worth of supplies I am trying to work through. I spend most of my scrapbooking dollars on printing photos and adhesive. I have enough of everything else.

I published two peer-reviewed articles based on my dissertation:

Medley-Rath, Stephanie. 2016. “ ‘If You Want to Do It, You Will Have the Time’: Combining Family, Work, and Leisure among Scrapbookers.” Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences. (open access)

Medley-Rath, Stephanie. 2016. “ ‘Tell Something about the Pictures’: The Content and the Process of Autobiographical Work among Scrapbookers.” Symbolic Interaction 39(1):86-105. (subscription based…if you want a copy, you know how to reach me)

I am done publishing from my dissertation. I am ready to move onto a slightly different topic. I am still interested in researching autobiographical work and the stories we tell about our lives, but the focus is not on scrapbooking right now.

Anyway, that is a short update. Will it be another three years before I post again? Perhaps. This website is a non-priority right now. (I just realized that I began writing my research proposal for this topic 10 years ago!)



PS: I’d love to get comments from anyone who still checks this website or subscribes to it. I’m curious if there are still any “readers” out there! 🙂


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Neutral Product?

The topic of gender stereotyping in the scrapbook industry came up again on this week’s Paperclipping Roundtable. It was mentioned on the show that this topic isn’t considered much in the industry (I may be misremembering…), so I decided to compile a short post with a few links to several of my posts on the topic of race and gender.

The topic of gender stereotyping has come up a few times in the past few months on the Paperclipping Roundtable. I kind of get the feeling that few in the industry are willing to take any sort of responsibility. It comes down to manufacturers allegedly responding to demand from stores who are allegedly responding to consumer demand.

How about working to educate consumers, then, on how to think outside the box when it comes to selecting papers for pages? Manufacturers spend time educating stores on how to use other types of products (e.g., tools) and stores do the same for customers. Why not educate on how to scrapbook outside the theme?

Further, it would be really easy create neutral products. I used to buy a lot of dog-themed products. My dog was photographed often to use up a roll of film. I eventually stopped buying dog-themed product because it never failed that there would be some sticker that said “man’s best friend” on the sheet. I stopped looking for dog-themed product.

One of the panelists mentioned Echo Park’s new line on gaming. The line is semi-neutral. It uses boy-typical colors, yet doesn’t name boys in the line. Their best friends line is similar: girl-typical colors, yet doesn’t mention girls. It’s a start, but still relies on gender stereotypical colors.

The notion that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, however, is new. I encourage readers to explore Jo Paoletti’s blog based on her book Pink is for Boys. Once upon a time, boys wore dresses (so they wouldn’t crawl into the fire) and most children wore white (which could be boiled and cleaned easily). Check out this article on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s dress, maryjane shoes, feathery hat, and long hair.

Alright, enough from me today. I am afterall supposedly on hiatus for the summer…

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Taking a Break

Dear readers,

I need to take a planned hiatus from the blog. This summer I am moving to another state and starting a new job. I’m very excited about these changes, but it means that I need to focus more attention on moving and my new job rather than this website.

I’m not going away. I might post periodically. I hope to get back into rouine posting, but for the moment, I need to just hit the pause button on the site.

Thank for your continued support and stay tuned for new posts in the future.



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Scrapbooking Twins: Keep It Simple

My sister is about to have twins and is trying to figure out their scrapbooks. Rather than texting her my thoughts, I said I’d write a post on the topic.

I scrapbook for myself. My priority is not to scrapbook for my daughter. I have, however, made scrapbooks for her. I also made her a baby book.

Before she was born, I bought a fill-in-the blank baby book. I am pleased with the book. I added more photos than the pre-printed spaces. I added stickers. I added details from her first year that were in addition to the pre-printed prompts. I liked having the pre-printed prompts. It helped me think of things that I otherwise would have missed. I also added more writing than the pre-printed prompts.

The baby book was easy. While I added some extras and photos, it is mostly writing. It was easy to pull the baby book off the bookshelf and quickly add information.

Now, what about scrapbooks?

I don’t print out duplicate photos and recreate pages for my daughter. I don’t create the same topical pages for her albums as I do for my albums.

What I do is more along the lines of this:

I tend to print out more photos from an event (for lack of a better word) than I will actually use in my scrapbook. I don’t really do this intentionally. It happens because I often can’t decide which photo I like the best just from my computer, but want to see the print. I generally have an extra photo or two from most events. Extra photos go one of three places: (1) I either stick them in a photobox to be stored, (2) I make a layout for my daughter’s books, or (3) I give it to my daughter to make her own scrapbook pages.

I might make a 2-page spread for my own album about a trip to the zoo and then a 1-page spread for her album with the extra photos. I tend to use the same papers and embellishments when I do this. I do not create a duplicate page, nor do I reinvent the wheel. It usually takes just a few minutes to make a page for her after I’ve already made a page for me using this method. I do tend to use the same title and usually the same exact journaling, but photos, design, and embellishments tend to vary. Easy. To be clear, I do not do this for everything I have extra photos for.

Some photos only go in her scrapbook albums. For example, formal school photos of the entire class. While her classmates are adorable, I don’t need her class photo in my scrapbook. It’s her class, not mine. Now that she is nearly six, she does more things that are just hers, such as attend birthday parties. Again, these are her friends, not mine. Any photos from the parties go in her albums.

So, I do make scrapbooks for my daughter, but they are not my priority. At some point, I’ll just hand the extra photos to her and she can make her own scrapbook pages if she wants them. Or, perhaps we’ll make a scrapbook together. We are going to do that this summer with her kindergarten photos. Her teacher took around 30-100 photos of the class every month. I have no need for most of these photos in my own scrapbooks. I’m also not going to make 12×12 layouts for my daughter’s album. Instead, I bought a K&CompanySmash Folio, Doodle Red and printed out about 125 of the photos. We are going to put them in that book. This way, she has a yearbook of sorts and she can look back at her friends and memories. Plus, this is something we can do together.

If I had to do it all over again what would I do differently?

While I have been critical of the pocket-page systems, I would probably select one of these systems for a baby book. You can quickly add photos and the journaling cards would be great to add the random bits. One thing that I found with scrapbooking pages about my daughter was that I would end up with random photos–photos I wanted to scrapbook but really only went together because they were of her. I think random photos could fit well in a pocket-page system.

Which pocket-page system?

While there are several pocket-page systems out there (Project Life, Simple Stories, and We R Memory Keepers), I would probably go with Project Life. If I were doing it for me, I would start with:

Project Life Core Kit – Baby Edition (complete collection)

My sister would probably prefer this collection instead:

Project Life by Becky Higgins Core Kit – Baby Edition for Her (complete collection)

Why the Project Life system? From what I can tell, We R Memory Keepers Albums Made Easy does not come in a baby-themed version. While themed-product isn’t always that helpful, I think it is in the case of a baby album. Simple Stories Snap System does have baby-themed inserts. I’ve worked with Simple Stories pocket pages before, but I think the Project Life system is better for someone who intends to scrapbook beyond baby’s first year because the product line appears to be wider and offers plenty of generic options. I’ve never worked with the Project Life products (beyond some of the page protectors).

My preference would also be for a system that I could buy locally (whether at an LSS or big-box), so that I wouldn’t always have to wait for shipments….though if I were having twins, I would probably just go with whatever can be shipped to me. (FYI…I’ve observed some stores only selling parts of each system and not the whole system. If you buy locally, make sure you can get all parts of the system from that retailer because the page protectors are not interchangeable without you having to modify your photos.)

One concern I have with this approach is that depending on where you get your photos processed, your prints may be “true digial print” size (4×5.3) instead of a true 4×6. If your goal is to just slip in photos, then you will need to either crop your photos before printing to fit on 4×6 or mount your photos on a 4×6 piece of paper before slipping it into the pocket. I did a bit of googling and couldn’t find anyone having this issue but that could be that most people who are blogging about one of these systems is printing at home or using Persnickity Prints to get Project Life 4×6’s.

I would also stick with mostly the same page protector design, like Ali Edwards. This is probably less of an issue if you are a mom of a singleton like myself. If I were the mom of multiples, I would do everything I could to keep things simple. One page design, keeps things simple. One caveat is that you will have to think about the page designe when taking photos. Once I became a scrapbooker, I became much better at turning my camera to get both vertical and horizontal photos. With an iPhone, I take even more vertical photos than ever before. I think with pocket pages, a person may want to make a concerted effort to take more photos that are horizontal (landscape) so you don’t have to cut photos down or crop them and print them in a non 4×6 size. Remember, keep it simple.

I would also just make one album. I would not attempt to make one album for each baby and one for yourself. I would most likely make one main family album. I might stash away any leftover photos and put them in a photobox for each child. Or, I would very selectively make pages for each child for their own album. I would not start intending to make three albums and certainly not three identical albums.

Keep it simple.

Ideas for Using Project Life for Baby:

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Scrapworthy Moments

Scrapbookers determine what is scrapworthy by sifting through the photographs they have taken or been given of moments from their life. Photographs are not taken continuously but are taken selectively. Scrapbookers then have to label a moment as scrapworthy in order to consider photographically recording the moment. What moments, then, are considered scrapworthy? Next week, I’ll begin exploring this topic in more depth. In the meantime, read more:

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Boundary Play and Scrapworthiness

Scrapbookers may play with boundaries through scrapbooking.

Nippert-Eng (2005:304) argues that two conditions must be met in order for boundary play to occur:

First, players must possess a shared, normative expectation for where one draws the line between two semiotically related, categorical (classificatory) boundaries. Second, players must then decide that they do, in fact, wish to use that boundary as the source or focal point of their amusement.

Boundary play can most clearly be seen by how scrapbookers push the limits of scrapworthiness. For example, a respondent talks about how she knows of other scrapbookers who make pages about their young child’s mischief. The child dumps the contents of a bathroom drawer into the toilet. The child is punished in some way, but mom takes a photograph of the child and the mess. The scrapbook page most likely does not detail any punishment but serves as a reminder of the mess that is made and perhaps that innocent look on the child’s face when caught. In this way, a negative event becomes reframed as a positive event. This particular respondent is unsure what parenting message this sends to a child, but recognizes that sometimes parents have to reframe their child’s behavior in order to keep their sanity. The scrapbooker plays with the boundaries between discouraging unacceptable behavior while at the same time wanting to capture the moment to remember in the future.

Scrapbookers regularly include moments and things that are unexpected and play with boundaries in a variety of ways.

Have you ever reframed a memory so that it was postive rather than negative or reframed in some other way?


Nippert-Eng, Christena E. 2005. “Boundary Play.” Space and Culture 8(3):302-24.

Read More:

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A Classification of a Life

Scrapbookers lump together items they consider scrapworthy and split them from the rest which they consider to be not scrapworthy (i.e., trashworthy or forgettable). Scrapworthiness is shaped by how scrapbookers classify their lives within their scrapbooks.

For example, a scrapbooker may consider both holidays and their family as scrapworthy, but they only scrapbook holidays their family celebrates in some way. Even then, not all celebrated holidays are scrapbooked.

Moreover, scrapbookers also chronicle non-holiday family events in scrapbooks. In this way a child’s high school graduation (family) is mentally closer to Christmas (family and holiday) than Labor Day (holiday) is to Christmas (holiday and family). Family is lumped together with family and split off from holidays, though holidays could be lumped together and split off from family.

Scrapbooking then is a site to explore how lumping and splitting happens and where these mental quantum leaps occur (Zerubavel 1991).


Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1991. The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. (Public Library)

Read More: 

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Deciding What to Include in a Scrapbook

Respondents struggle with explaining why they make the choices they do as far as what is included in the scrapbook, especially after the photograph(s) and journaling were accounted for. Most commonly, respondents say they do not know why they chose a particular piece of paper over another. Photographs are generally chosen because they are:

  • of good quality,
  • tell a cohesive story,
  • or are the only photograph—regardless of quality—of a memory.

No one includes every single photograph taken, piece of memorabilia collected, or scrapbook embellishment purchased in their scrapbooks.

It is the rare scrapbooker who can detail exactly how they decide what is scrapworthy because most respondents have either learned to ignore this decision making process or are completely unaware of it.

One respondent, who says he is very organized, offers a glimpse of his scrapbooking-decision making process:

Take a week-long vacation as the subject. I get the photographs developed and lay out the photographs by day. Whatever happened Monday goes in the Monday pile, and whatever happened Tuesday goes in the Tuesday pile. I will then pick through the pile for each day and sort out the photos—eliminate blurry photos and photos to be used elsewhere. I will then start to lay out the page, so I will lay out the photos first and how I really want to prioritize the photos based on what fits. And then I add stickers and journaling.

Another scrapbooker actually plans out layouts before he even takes the photographs. He knows what photographs he wants to get in order for his vision to be realized on the scrapbook page.

Others include pictures that tell a cohesive story. For example, the scrapbooker may have photographs of every noteworthy moment (i.e., photographs in front of Epcot® at Walt Disney World®, but not photographs of them sleeping in the hotel room) from the trip, but only those photos that tell a story are scrapbooked.

What makes it so difficult to discuss what makes a memory, photograph, or piece of memorabilia scrapworthy is that it is so obvious to the scrapbooker that the question seems absurd to most respondents. Scrapbookers are more likely to be able to discuss why something is scrapworthy when the scrapbook is made for somebody else because in this case, the audience is taken into consideration.

How do you decide what to include in a scrapbook? Do you include every memory, photograph, piece of memorabilia, or store-bought embellishment? Why or why not?

Read More:

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A Future in which I Can’t Remember

In my dissertation, I wrote:

Scrapbookers “frame” memories to be remembered in scrapbooks, implying that all other memories can be discarded or ignored (see Zerubavel 1991; 1997; 2006). Scrapbookers are deciding which memories are scrapworthy—or are worth remembering. To be scrapworthy an item, person, or memory is perceived to be worth remembering and memorializing. The scrapbook communicates that a life has worth because it is worth remembering. Similarly, Stewart argues that “[b]ecause of its connection to biography and its place in constituting the notion of the individual life, the memento becomes emblematic of the worth of that life and of the self’s capacity to generate worthiness” (Stewart 1993:139).

I don’t feel like I really fully explored the concept of “worth” when writing my dissertation despite calling the research “Scrapworthy Lives.” The concept of “worth” is something that has been more fully crystalized as I’ve hung out online among the websites of scrapbooking thought leaders.

Consider Becky Higgin’s tagline:

Cultivate a good life and record it.

While Higgin’s tagline most fully encapsulates the idea of living a life that is wroth recording in a scrapbook, this concept can also be seen among other thought leaders in the industry. For example, Ali Edwards encourages memory keepers to choose one little word, which promotes the idea that by choosing one word to focus on over the course of the year, one’s life may actually change. There is a clear trend among online industry leaders that infuses self-help culture with scrapbooking to the point where some purpotedly scrapbooking-focused websites look more like a standard issue women’s magazine (diet! exercise! recipes! fashion! home decor! organize! and more!) along with a little scrapbooking. In the end, as a reader, it leaves me feeling a little inferior just like reading women’s magazines leaves me feeling a little inferior.

Unlike other hobbies, scrapbooking involves a great deal of self-reflection. Scrapbookers make decisions about which memories are worth recording but also which memories they want to be able to revisit in the future. Remember, scrapbooking companies, such as Creative Memories, emerged to provide scrapbookers with archival quality materials so that memories would be accessible in the future. Buying into this idea means a person has to have a certain degree of cynicism towards their future ability to remember: a person has to believe that they may forget. Saving one’s memories is similar, then, to other forms of saving (money, for instance). Perhaps, I shouldn’t be so surprised, then, that most of my respondents were middle and upper-middle class. Middle and upper-middle class culture partially revolves around saving (even if most Americans are terrible at it), but more importantly, around an orientation towards the future (think “college as an investment towards your future”).


Stewart, Susan. 1993. On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. (Public Library)

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1991. The Fine Line: Making Distinctions in Everyday Life. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press. (Public Library)

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1997. Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (Public Library)

Zerubavel, Eviatar. 1997.2006. The Elephant in the Room: Silence and Denial in Everyday Life. New York: Oxford University Press. (Public Library)

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CHA and New Motherhood

One thing that I love about the scrapbook industry is that children are allowed. While I am critical of the child-centered,  mom-guilt narrative that is often used as a marketing strategy, at least the industry is supportive of families, too. And by supportive, I mean that (at least some) babies were welcomed on the CHA floor. I was psyched to see Amy Tan’s blog post of her with her son and her with other industry leaders and their newish babies at Winter CHA.

I am curious though, will the children still be welcome on the CHA floor as they grow older? I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question…

What about the the team/support people (e.g., dad, grandma, nanny) who are helping take care of the babies? Are these working moms really doing it alone on the show floor? I admire Ali Edwards public acknolwedgment of her nanny. Honestly, I’ve unsubscribed to a number of blogs so I don’t know if there are other industry leaders who do the same.

I do wonder about the working moms who must attend CHA that are not celebrities or thought leaders? What about the anonymous folks working the booth? Would their companies support them bringing their babies on the show floor? And by support, I mean would they allow it?

Hmmm…curiosity got the best of me and I decided to explore the CHA website. I could not find an across the board policy, but did find the policy below for the CHA 2014 Paper Arts Show:

Children and Minors Policy for Trade Show Floor

Minors are not permitted at the Event. Requests for variances to this policy must be made in writing a minimum of 15 days prior to the event

I suppose that answers that question…

Maybe the scrapbook industry is more like Yahoo afterall. Sigh…These really are questions to explore more deeply at a later date, but I wanted to post and see what you’ll think, too. How does the scrapbook industry compare to other industries regarding working moms within the industry? 

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