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Scrapbooking rookies learn the ropes of both digital and traditional methods

Having met several scrapbooking experts, my daughter Maggie and I decided to incorporate as much of their advice as possible as we made our own inexpensive family scrapbook. We'd never made a scrapbook before, but we had new digital cameras and the ability to print our own photos, and we were raring to go.

We decided we'd do a few pages using April Oaks' digital method as well as some pages the old-fashioned way, with glue, ribbon and ink. Our version of simple design would be to use lots of photos and no mats, except on pages that we did digitally.

At a Salt Lake craft shop, a 35-page scrapbook was on sale for $10.50, a green pen went for $3, and 250 adhesive corners to hold the photos were $2. We visited several craft shops in Provo and found two small but adorable rolls of ribbon for $1 each. Becky Morris, of Provo Craft and Novelty, said we could easily find a non-acidic glue stick for 39 cents, but ours ended up costing $1. (Maybe it is bigger than the one she was thinking of? At any rate, we decided not to use more gas visiting yet another store.)

In all, we spent less than $20 to get started with scrapbooking, not counting the computer paper and ink it took to print out photos and digitally designed pages. (We figure we will need more glue, photo corners and another roll of ribbon before we're finished. April Oaks let us borrow her CDs — otherwise we'd have paid $35 for one of them, which would have included a class on how to use it on our own computer. As it turned out, we could have used that class. We ended up asking a friend help us on her computer.)

It was a little scary at first, laying out our family photos on a tragically plain white page. We wanted simple and cheap, but we fear we ended up with a book that screams, "rank beginner." Oh well. We love it. And we love scrapbooking.

In fact, having done cheap, we have started to make a list of what we want to buy for our next book:

First, we want something to help us cut a straight line. We didn't mind that our lousy scissors left the ends of the ribbon frayed. (In fact we loved the "distressed" scrapbook that Sueann Harnden showed us. She had pieces of ribbon and frayed fabric sticking out all over her little book — which was made of paper bags.) But we did mind how unprofessional our photos looked when we trimmed them by hand. So we are in the market, now, for a mini paper cutter.

And pens. We can tell already that colored ink will be our downfall. We noted that some scrapbookers like to keep their journaling to a minimum. We like lots of words.

In addition to money-saving tips, the best piece of advice we got we got from everyone. And it was this: Just do it.

In our family, we have 20 years of photos stored in boxes. Naturally, no one ever looks at them. So now, with our first scrapbook, we have something to hold and look at to remember the summer of 2005.

Even if you only do one page, digitally or by hand, the professionals told us, you are ahead of where you'd be if you don't do anything. Your family doesn't want to look through 500 pages, anyway, Oaks says. "Just scrapbook the photos you really love." And if you only finish one page, says Harnden, you can put it in a frame and hang it on the wall.