Scrap Like a SugarBabe: Vanessa Armstrong

This week’s Scrap Like a Sugarbabe post is from Vanessa Armstrong. Her gallery is full of your everyday, real life moments as well as big events.  She is often asked how she has managed to document and print so many of her family’s memories.  Vanessa did a little video for you to give you a better look at some of her photobooks.




About Vanessa:

Hi everyone, I’m Vanessa (nesser1981), I’ve been a member of SSD since February 2007, Digital Scrapbooking since August 2006, and a SugarBabe since March 2014. I’ve been very passionate about memory keeping for my family since before I started digital scrapbooking.  I decided to start digi when I started to fall WAY behind with paper, my oldest was about 15 months old and of course, I had tons of pictures of her.  

When we had to come up with our SLASB topics, I had to think, what do I consider to be my superpower when it comes to scrapping, what’s my claim to fame, what did I decide?  I’m a pretty fast scrapper and I print nearly all of my layouts!  In nearly 10 years of digi scrapping, I’ve printed 45 photobooks (even though my video says 42, because I can’t count, LOL!) one, 12×12 album of loose layouts and an 8×8 album of loose pages for my All About Me album.  Not to mention the other projects I’ve printed as gifts over the years. Here’s a little video to give you a peek at my books.

How do I scrap/print all these layouts?  As of today, April 30, 2016  I have 3 months of layouts from 2014 to finish, and about 8 pages left for December 2015 to finish and I’ll be completely caught up.  I know what you’re going to say, that’s crazy, I hate scrapping chronologically, doesn’t that take all of the fun out of it, etc.  Let me start by saying, I don’t always scrap chronologically, I tag all my photos I need to scrap, and I tend to jump around, a lot.  I just don’t print a photo book until I have my chronological time period ready to go.  


For the last couple years, I’ve been able to do 2 photo books a year, usually January-September and then October-December.  When I first started doing photobooks, I was doing them monthly, or bi-monthly.  As my kids got older, I was scrapping less, so I went to quarterly books, January-March, April-June, July-September and October-December.  

I asked the Babes to give me a couple questions that I should answer, so here they are.

Do you scrap all of your photos?  I do not, in the early days, I really tried too, but I’ve gotten more selective.  I do a lot of multi photo layouts, it’s extremely rare for me to do a 1 photo spread anymore.  The ones I don’t scrap stay on my hard drive and are backed up to Amazon Photo. I usually just pick my favorites for whatever I’m scrapping.

What happens if you’ve printed and find (or given) more photos for that year?  Let me say, I don’t think this has ever happened to me, maybe the kids teachers give me a copy of a photo they took, and I will just put it in their keepsake box.  Usually I’m about a year behind on actually printing, I always keep my PSD’s until the photobook has been printed, then I toss the PSD’s, so I could squeeze new photos in if I needed to.

 Do you keep a spreadsheet of what you have scrapped or have to scrap for each book?  I don’t keep a spreadsheet, I use ACDsee, and I tag all of my photos that I want to scrap by year/month/date/event.  I talk about how I tag my photos in this SugarBabe Sunday post from last summer.  I use to print my books, they will hold 160 pages for the 8.5×8.5 size, so I know what my limit is for a given book.  Since I organize and plan my pages out well in advance, I should know what I can get in my book.  If we’ve had a busy summer and by the end of July I have 120 pages and have another 30 for August, then I’ll push September into the next book that I print.  

How does working chronological work when you have CT assignments?  Honestly, I’ve never had an issue with the way I scrap.  Since everything is tagged and organized, I can jump around.  I just wait until I have a particular time period finished before I print it.  For instance, I’m finished scrapping 2015, but I still need to do October-December 2014, I’ll probably print my 2015 layouts before I even finish 2014.  

Does it both your that your books are the same size, when you’ve switched printers?  Yes and no.  The first year I scrapped were 12×12 loose prints, those are in a big binder album.  May 2006- December 2007 are 12×12 photo books from Shutterfly.  I switched in 2008 to the 8×8 size from Shutterfly because it was more affordable, all of 2008 is 8×8, then finally in 2009 I switched to an 8.5×8.5 size that I adore, and I’ve been printing with prestophoto since then. As long as I have the whole year period the same, it doesn’t bother me too much.  My All About Me album is just loose 8×8 pages, because I don’t think I’ll ever be completely finished with that, so I can’t put it in a photo book.  

Do you scrap with one kit or mix them? My pages have to match, even if I have 2 different topics, facing layouts in my book,so, I always use the same kit for 2 facing layouts, then I move on.   

Printing photo books isn’t for everyone, I’ve made mistakes, my covers have been off, I’ve had pages cut off, once I even had a duplicated page, which threw off the whole book.  You have to read the specs for the printer you’re using ,make sure you check, double check and recheck everything.  Download the templates they provide to make sure you’re not losing anything valuable in your layout. If you’ve never done one before, do a small test book, to make sure you like it.  I haven’t made any big mistakes in years, but on my most recent book, I did swap the order of 2 layouts.  It was just a monthly spread, but I didn’t double check I put them in the right order.

I try not to put words, titles or wordart too close to the edges of my layouts.  I also started adding a small border around my pages about a year ago, just to make sure.  I’ve made spelling mistakes in my journaling, but you know what, that’s real life.  Had I written it by hand, there would probably be a lot more.

The fact that I have  almost 11  years of memories in one small cabinet is probably my most favorite thing about printing photobooks.  I have thousands of pages in there, and every time I get a new photo book printed, I fall more in love with Digital Scrapbooking!

Here are a few popular photobook printing sites.



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  • Thank you so much for the amazing shoutout in the post and video, Vanessa! You are so wildly talented at digital scrapbooking and your books are some of our very favorites!! <3

    -Meghan at PrestoPhoto

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