Some really cool flowers and more Q&A

Found these very pretty handmade paper flowers at our local farmers' market …


Here are the orange ones I bought …

I LOVE them!

Andrea emailed me several weeks ago and had LOTS of questions after reading Photo Freedom. I'm going to respond to a couple of these questions today …

But before I do, I want to remind you of something I have had to learn again and again. You can't have all the answers before you start. What I mean by that is at some point, you have to jump in and decide it's all going to be OK and as you work on setting up a system and as you learn to live with it and make time for it, answers and personal adaptations will become clear. I can tell you everything I do and why, but until you make the effort to begin yourself, you will always have questions and no real answers. You'll have my answers (and I personally think they are pretty good) BUT … you need your own answers. Reading a book and learning in theory is one thing, but true learning requires application. What I recommend is trusting me on the essentials of my system:

1. Storage Binders

viewable, short-term chronological storage of printed photos you are 90% you want to scrapbook

2. Category Drawers (or boxes)
long-term active storage of prints by category. Remember, these files hold a very small percentage of your pictures overall, and you will both pull and use pictures, as well as age them over time, so that you can make cool connections and share authentic stories and I think the coolest thing of all — find what you   need, when inspiration strikes!

3. Library Albums
a final resting place for completed pages, organized so that you no longer feel the pressure to keep up and  you are encouraged to celebrate life in a broader, richer and more meaningful way — when you have a          People We Love album, guess what? You are more aware of the people you love, more thoughtful of taking pictures and more excited to include them in your overall story.

Start with these. Focus on these and then add, as it becomes important to you, the extras (either mine or your own) But don't worry too much about these extras or how they all fit together, until you get a good, working understanding of the essentials!


Ok, from my friend Andrea:

I finished reading photo freedom and already feel good about getting organized. I am stuck in a few areas and am hoping you can provide some advice/guidance. Currently I have an album for each son, and a family album. I mainly scrap the boys and family events. I don't usually scrapbook a lot of other people.

I am definitely going to use your photo storing system, grouping pictures in those categories… so that if I want to scrap a girls trip, or my best friend, or the boys friends, or my niece, everything will be right there. Where I am stuck is my albums.

Q: I'm having a hard time with boys "books for me", and ones for them.
I guess I figured they'd get the books I've done for them when i die (yes i know how morbid)

So here's what I was thinking:
All about Zach  and All about Nick (for me or them??)
also, not sure if I need All about Us (Because I don't scrap myself — although this could be the book I keep for myself.) Things We Do — can i include places we go in this? I usually do separate books for major vacations. Also, my girls trip could fit in here, etc …
Then I figure eventually when I have more time and scrap more people… I can add a "people we love" book.

Does that make sense?

A: It does make sense, but I think you need to understand that when I started formulating ideas that would become my Library of Memories system, I didn't just want a way to organize my photos. I wanted and desperately needed a new approach to scrapbooking. You can absolutely embrace whatever elements of my system feel right to you — but you will have more success if you are willing to embrace the philosophy and not just the tools. In other words, I want you to consider scrapbooking in a new way!

What Zach and Nick want from you is NOT 20+ albums. What they want is to see themselves as part of something bigger — a family, with extended relatives and friends and living in an amazing time, immersed in a unique culture and experiencing places that will shape and change them and prepare them for life. Here comes one of those hard-earned opinions that you do NOT have to agree with. I don't think children can become intimate with volumes of scrapbooks and I do NOT think they want to take 20 or 30 or more volumes of scrapbooks with them (I'm almost certain, their eventual wives will bemoan the idea of making room for such a collection) What they want is a happy, engaged mother who stops and notices and teaches them how wonderful the world really is. How cool would it be to have a growing library of scrapbook pages that span a variety of topics. How cool to additionally have one or two or half a dozen small books to grow up with, to keep in your nightstand, to take to school or summer camp or college. How cool to come home to your childhood home and find that same familiar library still there, still inviting exploration, still available to new family members, still communicating a few of the things you did, but more importantly recognizing and celebrating what you are and what makes you, as a family different. 

So, Wow. Sorry for the ramble, here is what I would do …

All about Zach and All about Nick — volumes in the library that will stay in your home and celebrate these boys as they grow and eventually leave.

All about Us — start it NOW. Zach and Nick want and need your story as much or more than they need their own story. I'd rather they had fewer pages focused on them and a few more focused on you!

Things We Do — yes, you can include Places We Go here. That sounds like a great adaptation to me, especially where you are eager to create separate theme albums for major vacations.

People We Love — you will never have more time to scrapbook other people, than you do right now. I'm absolutely certain about this. These kinds of "less than obvious" pages will never be a priority for you, until there is an album in your library begging for pages.

Once you set up an initial set of library albums and begin filling them up, you will automatically become  more open to inspiration and less obligated to the "next pile" of pictures. You will begin to see and sense what is "missing" in your story and you will feel less obligated and more enthused about your potential as the family story teller. Try not to worry too much about eventualities — it will all work out.

If you made it this far, I want you to know that I do feel a little bad that I take these questions so seriously, almost pontificating (sorry!) You probably think, sheez … you could have just answered the question without the lecture.

Happy Tuesday!


  1. I just wanted to say that these questions may be “getting old” but I do appreciate you still answering them. I just got your Photo Freedom book and I agree – you just need to jump in and do it and figure out the tiny details as you go. I also love what you said about kids not needing VOLUMES of albums. For whatever reason it hasn’t crossed my mind that there could ever be too many scrapbook pages! I am hoping to start focusing on the missing pieces to our story, as well as scrapping some of my childhood pictures. Thanks so much!

  2. Having just finished your BPS class for Library of Memories I have to repeat this: YOU CAN’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS BEFORE YOU START…ANSWERS AND ADAPTATIONS WILL BECOME CLEAR. I stayed the course during the class, and follow your advice to the “T” so I could get inside your head and learn. But only a short few weeks later I’ve made some slight adaptations to your system and well…proof in the pudding and all that…. I scrapped 4 layouts this week. That’s more than I’ve completed in almost a year! LOVING THE FREEDOM!!! THANKS!

  3. Not at all! I love specific answers and really appreciate you answering all my questions.
    Ive made some progress:
    *Determined my albums:
    US, Zach, Nick, Things We Do, and People We Love
    *Organized my photos by topics:
    over 50 categories-no longer chronological-threw a bunch out!
    *Keeping my photo albums as chronological cold storage
    *Ordered a russell+hazel binder called my “Scrap Me” book-stuff I need to scrap
    *started my drawers full of people-square pictures
    *planning to order drawers for 5×7, 8×10 pics as well as keepsakes/cards
    *instead of photos i love I adjusted it to an ongoing book for each boy using my favorite photos to explain qualities or traits i think are important for my boys to have… using quotes i have collected.. something i will give when they go away to college.
    I am already feeling sooo organized, and no longer pressured! This is a huge weight of my shoulders and I am already feeling much more creatively inspired. Thank you!! I have so many friends who feel they are so behind they cant even get started… so I am sharing all your wonderful ideas!
    Thanks again!!

  4. Kristin says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it is to hear your honest answers to these questions. Each time is a major ah-ha moment for me. Thank you!

  5. “You can’t have all the answers before you start.” Good advice.
    I’ve stayed pretty true to the basic LOM system.
    Who knows if in a few months or years I may want to change my albums or storage or some aspect but it is a living working ever-changing adaptable system. So gow with the flow!
    And so true that your kids don’t want 30 albums of pictures, they want a few albums of stories, memories, traditions, everday life for the WHOLE family not just them.
    You can scrap a oh-so-cute picture of them (if you don’t have any of yourself) but tell a story about your family life.

  6. Kerry G. says:

    Thank you for all of this Q&A. It keeps me motivated. I can say, that I’m only half way through setting up my LOM, but I can already see a huge difference. It’s so easy to pack for a crop and plan layouts. I love it.

  7. I took the LOM class twice & followed your advice obediently. I love that I can find my pictures & see them at a glance. My favorite tip of all though was the little soup can with the popsicle sticks of what to do next! I use it almost every time I walk into my space.

  8. DawnJoy says:

    Stacy – Thanks for all the info you are handing out. I love your system and just got the book. Now I just need to start.
    And “hear hear” to saying that the kids aren’t gonna want all these books, just the pages that are important to them.
    I’ve been saying that I scrap for me for a couple years now, and all my scrapper friends were all aghast. I’d try to explain it, but they just don’t get it. Maybe I need to pass your book around.
    Thanks so much.

  9. I too agree- JUST JUMP RIGHT IN – and change things so that it works for you. The ‘system’ is just the best, but even Stacy will say that she has evolved to this point. Also want to add that [again - ha] I don’t use the photo binders – I use a file system of recent [within the last year] photos that haven’t been scrapped. When I went fully digital a few years ago I stopped printing photos until I needed them – after reading LOM I completely agree with what Stacy said earlier in the week – we MUST PRINT THE PHOTOS — so I pulled my file system back out and begin using it again. What a difference that ONE THING has made in my creativity. It is so handy to just grab some photos and use them on a page in so many different ways. Another thing I love about LOM is triaging the photos – I take a lot of photos [can we say about 75+ of fireworks alone?] so giving myself permission to delete the not so great ones is very freeing. Do I print everything I ‘keep’? Nope, but they are saved to a disk if ever I should need them. Thanks again Stacy!!! ~ J

  10. I just finished taking LOM too. I think I was at such a point of frustration with scrapbooking because I was “so behind”, that I thought there was no way to continue pursuing this craft. When I read about LOM, it was like a lifeline for me to get back in the game again. I was so intensely curious as to how scrapbooking could work for me again. I think one of my “aha” moments of letting go of chronology was your story Stacy about how we don’t recall childhood memories chronologically, we just remember different bits and pieces, places, people, experiences, tastes, smells etc. This restored my passion again. I want my children to experience and recall the special things of childhood . . . the bowls of ice cream before bed (yikes :) ), playing games together, our special tradition. These are my special memories about my childhood (unscrapped of course), and I want to help them recall these through my LOM.

  11. grandmagina says:

    Amen Stacy! I totally agree that you just need to let go and jump in. Trust the system and see it through from start to completion. I too was part of LOM this year. I learned a ton and have finally started to scrapbook. Everything just clicked right along and it really helped to have my PF book. BUT, I truly did not realize all the freedom I would know until I completed a full cycle! By that I mean I took a group of pics scrapped several, square punched several, put a couple in category files and yes, GASP threw the rest out!!! Yeah, for me! And by the way I scrapped the awesome time my sons had duplicating your dinosaur scavenger hunt you had on your blog. Now b/c I scrapped it they will be able to do it with their children b/c all the clues are on the page even if I’m no longer around!
    I never would have known that sense of freedom and accomplishment had I not followed the system through to the end. I totally GET IT and do not want to burden my kids with thousands of pics or albums that they wouldn’t know what to do with. By the time I’m done they will have meaningful pages and nothing to have to throw away or wonder about! In the mean time I feel wonderful! Thanks so much Stacy!
    Blessings! Gina

  12. For some reason, it helps me to wait about a year before I really decide what i want in my scrapbooks…what is “print worthy”. I’ve started printing small pics as indexes and putting them in smaller albums, them scrapping the ones OF THOSE I fall in love with…or the stories I really want to tell more about. Otherwise, I’d go broke printing everything I thought was worthy at the time.

  13. Dang. Where were you and the LOM ideas 10 years ago??? I’ve done the kid books and duplicate “my” books. My oldest two are 18+ so I’m done with them, but my youngest made me promise I won’t quit doing his. Luckily, it’s only about 8 books for each of them to take with them someday. :)
    I have modified your ideas for now and plan to further modify them in 2 years when I’m “done” doing my son’s growing up books. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve put less in their book and more in my book. I have read both of your books several times and love the “freedom” feeling each time.

  14. The scrapbooks sit on a shelf and collect dust.. and then I labled them as you suggested. Now, they are handled more often by family and friends. I also took the “pictures I loved” and made pieces things that sit out and draw people in to look. Memory Game with photos glued/sanded on. 7Gypsies flip file with my extended family photo’s and a 7×7 Recipe Tin Box containing cards with my family heritage stories/photos. They match my decor and I love having these memories part of my everyday life. Thanks Stacy for all your inspiration.

  15. Laurie Takens says:

    Amen, Amen and Amen Stacy!! I’ve told you before how much I LOVE your style of scrapping and now I love your system too! I work for the school system so I have summers off so my big project this summer is to organize my pictures using your guide in Photo Freedom. It’s working! And the best part? I made a page about my brother and the story about how he offered us financial help years ago when my husband was sick. My kids (18, 21 and 24) had never heard that story. By reading that page they were like “Wow! That’s so cool that Uncle Mike did that!” If I wouldn’t have made that page, that story might never have been told. That – in a nutshell – is what Stacy is trying to convey to us – SCRAP YOUR LIFE AND THE STORIES THAT GO WITH IT!! Go Stacy – keep up the good work girl – even if it includes a little ranting once in awhile!! :)

  16. I’ve read PF and love it! I’m just getting my system set up (category file drawers arrived this week!) and already I’m so excited. And I totally agree about not having all the answers. Just start the process and things will work out. Thanks so much for all you do Stacy!

  17. young c-m says:

    Wow, these flowers are awesome! Love that blogging helps you to share fun finds. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Happy Nat says:

    How true!
    Well I got a reality check when my Mom passed away last fall. I have 4 siblings and none of them wanted to keep Mom’s photos (only about one shoe box full as most of our family pictures were destroyed in the house fire a decade ago). I was shocked and sad that they did not see the importance of preserving our history. Well, this made me the lucky one who kept them all, filed them in my storage binders and added my favourite ones to my category boxes. Doing that helped me with the grieving. I was even able to make pages about my Mom and how she shaped and influenced my life. It was very therapeutic for me and helped me in the process of accepting the fact that she is no longer down here with us.
    What I am sorry about is that for 95% of the photos prior to my birth, I have no clue as to who, where, when they are. With only one grand parent left with a foggy, I can only admire the pictures and imagine how it was like.
    This encourages me to make pages about our daily lives, who we are, what we do, what we like or dislike, where we are and where we go…
    Hopefully my descendants will keep and treasure our family history and add theirs to it for the next generations to come.
    Have a super duper day!

  19. Debbie P says:

    Please don’t ever feel like your lecturing or going on & on. It seems like I get the most out of what you are saying when you do this. This post and your response to Andrea was excellent. I copied it and printed it out because it is the exact words I need to hear so I remember what scrapbooking is all about! Thank you! You’re the best!

  20. Awesome flowers! I love them too :-)

  21. I have not started on the LOM system yet. I’m still “digesting” the ideas presented. BUT, I realized just now, in reading others’ posts that I have used the ideas in re-organizing my files in my office! How cool is that? And I can find what I need much more quickly because it makes more sense to me! Thanks, Stacy. I hope to take the class next year.

  22. Stacy, I love this post about why mom needs to scrapbook. It was such a pleasure and joy to meet you at Treasured Memories last month. I really got so much out of your talk. I (finally) wrote about it on my own blog and was wondering if you have a podcast of that talk. There was so much to digest that I’d love to listen to it a few more times. Thanks for all the great inspiration.

  23. Oops, left off the blog address:
    Thanks for the great picture too!

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