Fourth Thursdays with Deb J ~ Memory Books

Deb J

Deb J

Over the years Colleen has talked in various posts about decluttering craft supplies, photos, and items of memory clutter.  You know those things we hang onto because they help us remember times in our lives that have meaning.  You also know I was into scrapbooking for a number of years and have recently decided that I no longer want to continue this hobby.

As I thought about all the money used to buy supplies, those I have used and those I have given away or sold, I began to realize there is a good solution & it goes along with journaling.  I have not been a very good journaler.  I find that I just don’t have that much to say about my days.  For one thing, my life is not that exciting.  For another, I can’t believe my life is that interesting to others.  What I really like to keep note of are those special times in my life.  These can be vacations, special events, even times when I have a breakthrough in my spiritual or emotional life.  

I realized the solution is to make a memory book.  It can be anything you want to make it but for mine I devised a binder that holds 8-1/2 by 5-1/2 lined pages in it.  It also has page protectors to slip these pages into.  When I have something I think I want to remember I can write it down in that book.  I can add a picture(s).  If I have an item I have kept as a reminder, a picture of it placed in this memory book takes the place of the item.  It’s a one-stop place for memories.  

I’ve learned something else about this Memory Book.  I wish I had started doing this years ago instead of scrapbooking.  I’m thinking of tearing the scrapbooks apart someday and putting it all in the memory book.  I may ask my brother what he thinks as he is the one who will inherit them.  

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter something from your attic, garage or basement.

Eco Tip for the Day

Reduce your reliance on paper reading materials. There are so many digital ways to get your fix on anything of interest.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Deb J, I love that idea. Yet I think that instead of memory book, I want to select my best photos and put them in one binder. I have quote a lot of those half-empty photobooks that just take up to much space. I think that I’ll digitize them as well.

    Also I’m thinking about making a little treasure chest, to keep my memtoos in a pre-defined space. If it is full, something has got to get out.

    What I also like to do (lol, I do sound like a very sentimental person) is that I frame pictures, like for instance the picture from my grandparents, and added a little bit of yarn (in a deep photograph) with it since my grandmother loved to knit sweaters for us.

  2. I REALLY like this idea. Several years ago we bought a better quality camera and I shot pictures of practically everything. It got to be ridiculous. I have so many photo albums and frankly, nobody is interested in them. LOL So, Deb J., thanks for the good idea.

    • Michelle, I know what you mean about taking pictures of everything. I used to do that too. Then I realized that I really didn’t need them all. So I started decluttering my photo files. That felt good.

  3. Thanks, Deb J, this exact thing was on my mind today. I was on another uncluttering type blog where the author recommended the digital memory books from Blurb, I think, although there are so many web sites that have similar services. And low and behold I log on here and read this. I so need to do this. I have that obligatory box full of cute paper and little scrapping pop-outs that I never touch but see everybday in my hall closet. So much useless guilt over this dumb box! And I am not much of a journaler either, my days feel so stressful chasing and teaching two little boys there isn’t much time to sit down and do much of anything but breathe.
    Another awesome thing about digital book is you can reprint them. My younger son is 4 and autistic and has a penchant for destroying things, especially and paper so if I lost one there is the certainty of getting it back

    • Jean, you idea about a digital book is good. There are many places where you can do that online and it’s a great way to make memory books. Yes, you can feel really guilty about those scrapbook type supplies you never use. I have even come to the point where I am tired of making cards. I am not sure if I will do that anymore or not. I will have to give some time to pondering it.

  4. In my clutter career I am so grateful I didn’t take up scrap booking – I had a strong feeling that ‘that way lies madness’ for me. I get so hooked on collections and ideas and themes etc that I would have gone into overload and literally overloaded the house with scrap booking stuff.

    I was asked recently, what to do with the scrapbooks of a parent who has passed away? The person in question isn’t a fan of scrap books herself but obviously acknowledges that a lot of time and effort went into these. There are no other siblings to consider. Any thoughts?

    • Moni, be glad you did not take up scrapbooking. I let it cause guilt for me for a long time. In the case of the scrapbook of the deceased friend, I would suggest checking it for anything that might be sensitive and then seeing if a local historical society would like to have it. I am amazed over and over at the things they want.

  5. I love the idea of a memory book Deb. As you said it’s a good way to keep a note of special events and holidays. Even after decluttering my scrapbooking/card making supplies, I still have loads of things in that area. I realise now that it is aspirational clutter – my friends were all scrapbooking so I thought I should too. While I enjoy card making from time to time, I don’t want to scrapbook. A memory book will help to use up some of those craft things and the rest will have to go.
    Thankyou for the inspiration Deb.

    • Mich, I’m glad this post was of help. It is so easy to get caught up in things our friends do without really thinking it through. When I think of the money I put into scrapbook supplies, classes, etc. I could just smack myself. I”m so glad I’m not doing that any more.

  6. I, too, never got caught up in the “scrapbooking” phenomenon. I was invited and attended a creative memories home party years ago. I remember leaving and feeling like this was some type of “cult” mentality. Once you got sucked in, it would be very difficult to get out, haha! In all fairness to the scrapbookers out there, I also describe one of my family members who buys everything at Costco (the huge US warehouse store), a member of the Costco cult. No offense intended. Just my way of describing something that people have tunnel vision in regards to. My version of the memory book is a memory drawer. I have one drawer in my roll top desk designated for this purpose. Odds and Ends, Bumpf and Silly things reside in that drawer that just make me smile when I need one. And, I also regularly go through that drawer as well and eliminate items that may not be necessary any longer which makes room for new memories.

    • Kimberley, your idea of calling it a cult is good along with your discription of why you call it that. I never got involved in Creative Memories because I was not fond of their way of doing things but I sure got caught up with the industry itself. Your memory drawer is good.

      • Deb J – I think the concept of scrap booking ‘speaks’ to women (I’m stereotyping here) on many levels. There are pretties, there are good memories and a sense of accomplishment all rolled together. What would appeal to me is that as someone with no drawing skills (my one attempt to go beyond stick figures, created potato looking people) I could create something delightful and presentable enough to actually show people. No doubt the marketing brains out there are the same ones who use athletes and pop stars to promote soft drinks, put their heads together and said ‘what do we do with a demographic of women who would like to be creative?’

        I think women are more inclined to be the memory keepers too. Everything has it’s season and everything has it’s expiration date. I remember my mum used to go to and love going to microwave cooking classes. Too bad if she still wanted to go to microwave classes. I can’t remember what she got into next but I remember at one stage there was a craze for doing fancy table settings for dinner tables. Thank goodness that didn’t last.

        • Moni, I can see both sides to the Scrapbooking industry. Yes, it is nice to have a creative and beautiful way to keep the history of your family. It’s even nice to have classes to take so that you can learn new techniques and things. The problem is that like in many “hobbies” you can get carried away and spend way to much time, money, and energy on it. It also means that you can have a lot of albums and such. Who is going to want them later? You need to put thought into it so you don’t weigh down your children or family with things they never wanted. I have a friend who creates 6-8 albums a year of their lives. She and her husband have no children. many of the things she scrapbooks are church happenings or family happenings. Who is she going to pass them on to? Does she ever go back and look at them?

          • Exactly. I’m told by a friend it is really difficult to deal with such items in an estate. They hold no financial value and generally the adult children or other relative don’t really want them.
            My next big project is our photos, my daughter looked at them with me and said “this is why they invented Facebook” – the digital era kids have such a head start.

            Oh yes, I now remember another hobby my mum went thru – macrame – I think it might have been in the 70s. Not much call for that these days. But it kept her happy at the time.

          • Moni, I have been thinking about digital photos and am considering putting all of mine out in Dropbox with descriptive tags and notes. That way I can make them available at will and I don’t need to hang onto anything else. Facebook is another good way to share pictures.

            I made money selling fancy macrame plant hangers, etc. I also made some really snazzy ones for Mom and they were later stolen.

          • Deb J – well there you go, macrame is alive and kicking!
            I have a Dropbox, it doesn’t cost me anything. So far it has been used to put copies of documents and our inventory with copies of receipts, HP agreements relating to big items. My iPhone photos back up to my Dropbox too. Also medical info. It came in handy recently as a specialist asked for further info and I was able to access it on my phone there and then.

            Once I get my photos finally sorted I will also put copies in my Dropbox too, plus I need to edit family videos into more interesting segments. That will be my next big project.

          • Moni, it sounds like you are making good use of Dropbox. I’m trying to get everything scanned and copied into it. It’s taking some time because I am having to do it in bits and pieces.

  7. Hi Deb J, I love your memory book idea. When I used to scrapbook I made mostly 12 x 12 s but I must say I really enjoyed making the smaller 8x8s or 6x6s.Your memory book sounds more like the 6×6 scale which is so much easier to produce. I was thinking along the same lines as you just the other day, wondering how best to rehouse the old print photos I need to minimise and organise. I already have some photo album pages, about 7×15 but ran out of album space. I think I will just create my own cover for these pages and get some of those photos into it. I even have the posts I need to do the job. Kind of decluttering by repurposing and then I can through away the big bulky albums the photos are currently in.

    • Colleen, it sounds like you have come up with a good idea for dealing with your photos. I really do wish that I could do it all over again and not be so into scrapbooking.

  8. You are such an ambitious lot. For me even filling out a “baby” book was a challenge, and for years we would say “put that in your baby book”, which I think meant the box each baby book came in. In general the baby book was early artwork and special objects the child (or teenager) liked–so we probably should have renamed it your life book. I was too busy mending, cooking, etc. to ever even consider scrapbooking though one of my daughters did it for a while. I don’t think she or her kids do it anymore. I’ve never thought to ask her.

    • Nana, I have to admit that when I was scrapbooking it was something fun to do as a hobby. Now I realize it was also very expensive.

  9. I keep photo books but scrapbooking never appealed to me. Fortunately, I guess.

    Michelle and Deb J, I so get the taking all the photos and no one caring to look at them. I think I’ll spend some time dumping the ones I no longer want to look at.

    • Willow, I think one thing that we all need to think about is why are we taking the pictures? Do I really need 500 pictures of my vacation to wherever? Do I need to take a picture of my child every trip we make to the zoo or the park, etc? I have realized not only have I been taking way more pictures than I need but I have also kept & scrapbooked more than I needed to. Just like everything else when we are decluttering, with photos we need to ask the questions and also bring fewer in.