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Monday Q&A: The Scrapbook/Photo Questions Edition

Every Monday I answer a few questions from you, my readers! If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, leave me a comment, or email me (the frugal girl {at} gmail {dot} com) and put “Q&A” in the subject line.

Today’s Q&A will be a teeny bit different than usual…here’s why. Sometimes, I manage to stay nice and caught up with responding to comments on my posts, but then there are other times when I get really behind (I do always read every single comment, though!). The scrapbook post I did last week was one of those where I got behind, so I’m just going to take the questions/comments from that post and respond to them here.

First, thank you for all your encouraging comments about the scrapbooks that I made. I often feel a little discouraged about my scrapping skills when I page through scrapbooking magazines full of gorgeous layouts, so I appreciate your kind comments.

Second, lots of you said that you would indeed be interested in some frugal scrapbooking tips, so I am working on some posts on that topic. I don’t know exactly when I’ll get that done, but hopefully it’ll be sort of soon, as I’ve got four scrapbook post drafts going.

Third, I am very (very!) honored that some of you would like to hire me to do an album for you, but I’m going to have to say no at this point for a couple of reasons.

  • Scrapbooking is fairly time-consuming, even with the simple way that I do it, so I’d have to charge an arm and a leg to do a scrapbook for someone else in order to make any money.
  • I don’t have time. I already spend some time away from my family in order to blog, teach piano, and do photography, so adding another thing like that into my life wouldn’t be especially wise.
  • I really need to work on my own albums! Making the three for Christmas has meant that I’ve not added many pages to my own books this year, and though I make no money doing my own books, I do make something special for our family and I don’t want to give that up entirely.

On the upside, I am going to do my best to share some pointers with you so that you can make your own albums without having to pay me a gazillion dollars to do it for you! (I did mention, though, that I consider it a high (high!) compliment that you asked, right?)

Now for a few questions:

When did you find time to do these and where in your house do you work on them? I love the idea of working on a project like this but it seems like you would need a dedicated space. Clearing off the dining room table every day to work on it doesn’t seem practical.

As far as the time goes, I most often find time to scrapbook on Sunday afternoons. I don’t do regular work (housework or paid work) on Sundays so that I can have time to do things that I find restful. In order to get some of the Christmas albums done, though, I worked on them at other times of the week, mostly while we were on Christmas break from homeschooling and piano teaching.

Now for the location…I used to have to do this on the kitchen table, which was, as you mentioned, sort of a pain. Happily, a number of years ago we bought a desk for our office, which meant the our ugly old government issue desk was available for scrapbooking use.

It had to be put in the cold basement in our townhouse, but here in our current house, there is room for it in the office (which is about as cold as our townhouse basement, but a little cozier looking!).

My desk is very ugly (did I mention that? I do want to paint it black at some point.) but it is as sturdy as a piece of furniture can be, and having a dedicated scrapping space has made my life so much easier!

Are these photos printed from home? They look great! What kind of printer do you use?

Yup, I print all my photos right here at home. Not only is this exceedingly handy, I also have found the print quality to be better than any purchased prints I’ve seen.

I think the convenience of printing at home makes scrapbooking much easier. I’d hate to have to pick out my pictures ahead of time, order prints, and then try to put together a layout. Since I do all the printing at home, I can change things to color or black and white as I wish, I can print different sizes, I can put a layout together and then print another picture to fill a space if necessary, and so on.

I own a Canon Pixma iP4500 inkjet printer, which I love. I buy my ink in bulk at Costco, and I usually buy my Canon paper when it’s available on a great sale from Staples. I really haven’t the faintest idea how much it costs me to print a 4×6 photo, so I can’t say if this is cheaper than ordering prints, but it is not inordinately expensive, and the high print quality and convenience of home printing makes me very loathe to get my prints any other way.

I am curious how you manage to organize all those photos for a whole year? Especially those of other family members?


Well, since I print all of my pictures from home, I only print the ones I need to use. So, all the pictures I’ve taken of my nephew since he was born are just in folders on my computer. When I want to make a layout, I sort through the picture folder, pick the ones I want, print them out, and use them. I do occasionally end up with extra prints (sometimes a layout doesn’t work the way I thought it would!) and in that case, I give them to my kids to put in their scrapbooks, or I give them away (I have a small pile here of prints of my stillborn niece that I’ll give to my sister-in-law). So, print clutter is not really a problem like it was back when I had a film camera!

Even if the scrapbooks weren’t frugal, isn’t the point of being frugal is to have the resources to put into the areas of your life that are important?

Absolutely! I make scrapbooks because I think that, given to the right person, they are a special, meaningful gift. I pour my heart and soul into the pictures that I take and the books that I make, and what motivates me is not the idea of saving money, but the idea of bringing joy to the recipient.

I would venture to guess that the scrapbooks I make usually cost about the same amount as the gifts that we buy (or a little more, once you count the cost of all the prints), but I think they are more precious than something a bunch of money could buy.


Alright! I think I have now responded to all the comments left on that post. If you have another scrapbook related question, though, feel free to either leave a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl at gmail dot com), and I’ll do my best to answer.

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Tuesday 5th of January 2010

What a hoot! Thanks for posting my comment. I'm glad you found it worth sharing. And yes, the scrapbooks are much more precious than anything you could buy.

erin w.

Monday 4th of January 2010

I am so impressed with your scrap-booking skillz girl! I've done a few, and let me tell you, I couldn't have ventured that daunting task of three by Christmas! Don't you love the digital non-print clutter? I just abhor the full boxes of prints I have before digital became so quality!


Monday 4th of January 2010

Battra, I'm sure I could get outstanding prints if I went to a real pro lab....but for the quantity of photos I need for scrapbooking, I can't afford that kind of nice-ness! lol

The top of that desk is formica, so I am loathe to mess with it. Besides, I sort of like having an old top that I can work on without worrying about messing it up. I think the top will be much less offensive looking once the sides and drawers are black, though.

Erika, I'll put that question into next week's Q&A. :-)


Monday 4th of January 2010

Thanks for all the great tips! I was wondering - how did you learn all you know about photography? Did you take classes, or read books, or do research online? I would be very curious to know. I would love to learn more about photography but I'm not sure where to start!


Monday 4th of January 2010

I have never seen home printed photos as nice as the ones that come from a pro lab. I'm using film but all prints are printed digitally. Your standard Wal*Mart prints are fair to decent but I tend to trust my stuff only to places like My one piece that hung in an art gallery was printed by them (I was too pressed for time to do a wet print.)

By the way, I love those old desks. I really like when stuff was meant to last a hundred years. I look forward to seeing how it looks all painted up. Have you thought about changing the top at all or is that a bit too daunting?

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