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Journaling - By Karen Leahy


By Karen Leahy


Scrapbooking is all about recording memories and making sure they are protected in a safe environment. I know we might do some pages for pure artistic pleasure, but most of what we scrap is because it is a person, place or event we want to record and remember.  The journaling is, therefore, especially important. We might think we will always remember what it was or when it was, but our memories fade over time. If our own memories fade, what chance have other people in knowing when, where, why if we donít tell them.


The basic facts

At its most basic level, journaling means recording the main issues Ė when, where, who and why. Some of this may be accomplished in the title anyway, but it is important to record the other details.


The date of a picture may well be very important to people looking at your albums in the future, A page about your daughter learning to ride her bike is fab Ė but when was that precious picture taken? Was she five or six? Dates are easy. Write the date on a tag; punch it on a dymo strip; handwrite it on the page, use a date stamp, but do date the pictures, even if it is hidden and you have to look harder to find it. Believe me Ė you and your family will be grateful in the future.


When you make a page you may think you donít need to put who is in the photograph. Itís obvious itís your daughter Flossie! Well itís obvious to you Ö but what about to people in the future. What about Flossieís grandchildren? Will they naturally know if you donít tell them. Try and include who is featured somewhere on your page as well.


Where and why are important too,; perhaps not so important as the when and who, but try to include them on your page in some form.


Light-hearted details

Journaling doesnít have to be serious and deep all the time; you can take a light-hearted approach. For example, imagine itís your sonís fifth birthday. As well as the who, when, where and why you might want to include a list of the guests at his party, you might want the focus of the page to be on gifts so include a list of the presents he received. You might want to use journaling strips to identify any games that were played.


Lists are a great way to introduce journaling on to a page and you can make these quite tongue in cheek as well. For example. I have done pages listing the rules my cats would give their human family members if they could but talk.


Interviewing your subjects is another good way to include light-hearted journaling. Ask your 13 year old about their favourite bands, foods, CD tracks, interests and record them on a page along with a picture. If you are journaling about a holiday or an interesting visit note down the sights, smells, tastes and textures of the place. 


 Journaling from the heart

Sometimes people are very wary of journaling from the heart on their pages. If you prefer to keep these things private then hide your thoughts away (see the tips later on hidden journaling) but do try to put your thoughts down on some of your pages. It doesnít mean that every page you create needs to have copious notes and detailed journaling, but do try to do it occasionally. I promise, it gets easier the more you do it.  


You may have visited a place you had always wanted to visit. Your page will record what it looked like in the photos, but journal how you felt. In years to come you will look back and the journaling will help you recall exactly how you felt about it and why it meant so much.


You might complete a page about your home and want to include why it is important to you and your family. It may be a tribute page to a past family member explaining why that person was so important in your life. If you are making a ĎBook of Meí you really will need to include journaling on many of the pages. People are going to want to KNOW you. YOU are going to want to know you.


Keeping a Record

A good place to start is to keep notes ready for when you need to journal. Try keeping a holiday journal when you go on holidays Ė it will make it so much easier when you come to scrap those holiday snaps. And remember, it doesnít have to be just you who journals. Get members of the family to add their thoughts to. More fuel for you when you get back home ready to scrap.


Letís face it Ė you are not always going to scrap photos as soon as you get them developed or printed so make a note of any details and slip those notes in with the packet of photos or as a brief text file attached to digital photo files. You will be so glad you did when you finally come to scrap them. Remember, in reality you could be scrapping them in a couple of years time. Will you honestly remember all you need to know if you donít jot some key points down.


Many of you will have piles of old photos Ė perhaps from your own childhood, perhaps pre-dating you all together. ASK people! Find out what they remember, who the people in the old photos are, any interesting stories behind the pictures. This will be important information when you come to scrap the pages.


How to Include the Journaling

There are so many ways to include journaling itís not possible to cover all of them by any means. First you need to decide what you want on view and what, if anything, you want hidden.


  • Visible Journaling You can journal in so many ways. Journaling can be on a tag, written around the edge of a page, round a photograph or embellishment. Journaling can be on journaling strips, on a journaling block or mount. It can be on a transparency laid over the page or even on the photo itself.  Let your journaling be an integral part of the design of the page. And remember, though many of us reach for the keyboard and printer, it is important to use your handwriting at least some of the time. Your handwriting is YOU Ė let yourself be seen.


  • Hidden Journaling You may not want your journaling to be visible on the page. This may be because it is very personal and private or it may be because there is a lot you want to say and it wonít fit easily on the page you are creating. The simple solution is to hide your journaling. Tuck tags containing your words behind a photo mount; make a mini envelope and fill it with your journaling, use hinges and flaps that lift up to reveal the journaling, include a file folder or min book on the page. There are countless ways to hide your text whilst not losing it altogether.


So, next time you prepare to scrap a photo or photos, think about the journaling as much as the papers and embellishments and youíll be amazed how much you will love it when itís done.


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