Memories, Menus and Inspiration…

summer mood board, slimpaley.comSlim Paley photo

Several posts back I mentioned that I enjoy scrap-booking and making collages.  In addition to Inspiration Boards, I think they’re a wonderful way to express yourself, as well as keeping memories alive to enjoy on a daily basis. Collages and inspiration boards can be completely random or have a theme. Some of mine get so thick they become assertively 3-D (I told you I could relate to the Collyer brothers!)  Some begin with a certain theme only to veer off down another rabbit hole leading me to a completely different inspiration.

I started collaging when I was a child. An entire wall of my bedroom from floor to ceiling became a vast and vivid depository for photos of my friends and myself, art work, report cards (OK, one or two report cards-hardly any White-Out), pages torn from magazines and all the flotsam and jetsam I found amusing or inspirational at the time. What I wouldn’t give to have a photograph of that wall now! 

Later on, as a young adult, I started to collage my annual day planners, which I always bought in hardcover, sidestepping the Filofax craze.  I traveled a lot and once again, in addition to being a nice way to chronicle the places I’d been each year, it was a way to keep the faces of those nearest and dearest to me close at hand. Keep in mind this was long before digital photography, much less photos on your cell phone. 

Later still, when my children were born, I saved their mementos; ticket stubs, school items, plane tickets, theatre programs, letters written from summer camp, even locks of golden, silky hair (boo hoo!) to put scrapbooks together for them to enjoy and hopefully share with their children. Scrap-books take considerably more effort than collages  but I believe, especially with  children, your efforts will be appreciated. I kept several boxes for each son and over the years everything got thrown into them. In the days when we were still printing photos from film, I would get 3 sets of photos; one for each boy’s scrapbook and one for mine.  My older son’s books are all finished and belong to him now.  Like my collages and life itself, they got a little fatter than I imagined and took longer to assemble than I would have ever thought. Our entire dining room was plastered in photos, Post Its, plastic sleeves, newspaper cuttings, mementos and books for weeks that stretched into…well, I’m not even going to confess how long. 

A word to the wise-DO NOT listen to sad or emotionally stirring music as you take this trip down Memory Lane or I guarantee you’ll be wiping yourself off the floor. Many were the times I would stagger away from the dining room with a tiny sock, or a note to the Tooth Fairy clutched to my breast to share with my husband who would give me a sweet hug and suggest I take a break and change the music. I haven’t started my younger son’s books yet-I’ll start soon and I look forward to it.  I realize that people nowadays might not wish to save their memories in such a labour intensive,old-fashioned method. For me, there’s nothing quite like the tactile loveliness of a scrapbook; the love that goes into making them and the love that pours forth each time they’re opened.

Old agenda covers, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

Photos of 12 years of my collection of collaged Day Planners  (Some faces have been blurred to protect the shy and not so innocent 🙂  )

Inspiration board, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

A photo of an Inspiration bulletin board in my office (about 8′ x 5′)  Not quite sure what the theme was originally, but as this one is right off my bedroom, it is constantly evolving.

Slim Paley photo

A few pages of some of my older son’s scrapbooks. As well as mementos and photographs, I chose to include clippings of news stories over the years and everything from his favourite comics, music and TV shows to world changing, momentous events.

Menu collection, pantry wall, slimpaley.comSlim Paley Photo

.Another fun idea;  Collect menus from restaurants you love, especially when you travel. Cover a wall in your kitchen or breakfast nook with them. If you have a particularly memorable evening or meal, you might have the chef sign your menu and date it. If you are a wine lover, do the same with wine lists.

Most restaurants are very nice about letting you take the menu if you explain your intentions. 

Alternatively, carry a large bag. 

Here, a photo of a wall in our food pantry. I’ve papered the entire room with menus I’ve collected over the years. You might even be inspired to try whipping up some of your menu items yourself when searching the cupboards for what to make for dinner.

Notes on Scrapbooks

– ALWAYS use acid-free, archival quality paper, protective sleeves, glues and tapes.

EXPOSURES catalogue has a great selection of items needed for scrap-booking

-use expandable books with individual pages.  Trust me on this.

-Don’t use both sides of the pages.  Only use one side, then place two back to back in one sleeve.

– archival quality glue “dots” come on rolling tapes in many different sizes (even 3-D) that make life a lot easier.

-For particularly precious items you might want to scan them and keep originals in a safe place.

– Keep all your book bindings uniform.  Pick a classic, low key colour like black or brown leather. Something that will hold up over the years and not look dated.

– As well as photos and mementos from school and travel, include news articles- the passing of famous people and important events, as well as favourite book titles, songs, movies, cartoon characters (Bart Simpson? Sponge Bob?)  Find their photos and lyrics on the internet and include in your child’s scrapbook.

-Place tiny or delicate things such a first lost tooth, or a lock of hair in clear little bags that have an invisible double-sided strip of tape along the edges (Exposures catalogue)

-OK, I’m done.  This post took almost as long as a scrapbook.

Happy Memories!!



  1. I, uh… I am… verklempt. What lovely, personal and totally incredible ideas. We’ve been friends a long time. You could have come with these ideas a little sooner, sister. Like when my kids were younger and I had more energy. And… for what it’s worth… what separates you from the Collyer brothers is one very large gold frame, some push pins and good deal of glue.

  2. okay i remember a table with a piece of glass on it in your bedroom-you covered the table with a collage. must have been your first collage. The house after belair dr. i wanted one too but my parents wouldn’t buy me a table with glass and if i remember correctly there was no room in my bedroom. you had the best creative ideas. although i did start the stars on the back pockets of my jeans that you ended up with. i think i gained weight and you didn’t. what an understatement.

    • The collages were so much fun. One day i’ll get around to doing a couple of scrapbooks … seven rubbermaid bins of stuff await me. Shouldn’t everyone have an inspiration board?

  3. Wow S. P. ( no not Sarah Palin )
    Fantastic blog. Truly felt I had been given a great read which I would read and go back to browse many times. Every time seeing some thing new, yet not. We are trapped Slim. Rock on.

  4. This might be my favorite post yet, and my most guilt ridden. Is there any way to go back in time and make ones now for the “children?” What an incredible keepsake and made with such love. A treasure. These books are what you would save in case of a fire. What lucky children you have!
    As for other ideas, I have friends who save corks from wine or champagne bottles and write the dates and where they were on them. Isn’t that romantic? Another thing for Slim Collyer to collect!

  5. awww….what a great blog, very inspiring!

    Makes me feel a little sad that I didn’t keep more mementos, photos etc….:(
    All I kept was concert paraphernalia from the likes of: Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, ACDC, Eagles, Heart, Journey, Van Halen and ZZ Top….who knew that 30 years later I’d still be able to go to their concerts and collect the same paraphernalia.

    p.s. do you just take those restaurant menus or do you ask them if you can keep one??

  6. Some great ideas and scrapbooking tips in here… Nice work on the day planners! In high school I covered my text books with collages. We were always told to cover our books and I thought it was so blah-ze to use plain paper so I took the time to cover them with photos and scattered magazine clippings of the hottie of the week 😉 Of course they wouldn’t be as risky as the collages on the inside of my locker door… fun times. Good for you for keeping it all up.

Would love to hear from you!