Our Winter 2010 Event in Reading, PA got Media Coverage! We were so excited when The Reading Eagle called us to tell us they wanted to do a FEATURE STORY on our event! Here’s what they wrote…

Originally Published: 1/25/2010
Inn at Reading hosts weekend scrapbooking getaway

The hobby appears to have taken the country by storm
The spacious ballroom at The Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, was cozy and warm, a visual anomaly.

Scores of 6-foot-long tables piled with photographs, albums, colored paper, pens, stickers, pretty boxes, ribbons, strings, stamps and lamps – and much more – filled the room.

Reading Eagle: Lauren A. Little
Kelly Niszczak of Lansdale, Montgomery County, works on her book during a three-day scrapbooking getaway held at the Inn at Reading, Wyomissing.
It was one woman per table, nearly 175 women.

Shortly before 10 p.m. on a Friday night in the middle of January, Kelly Niszczak, 40, Lansdale, Montgomery County, came strolling by in her pajamas.

“You’re the first pajamas of the night,” yelled Denise Shaw, 47, Quakertown, Bucks County, one of a trio of sisters generally known as “The D Sisters” or simply “The Three ‘D’ivas,” organizers of what has become a popular national pastime, Weekend Scrapbooking Getaways.

“Reading is one of our favorite places for getaways because the outlets and malls are so close,” said middle sister, Diane Rathjens, 42, also of Quakertown, soon joined by youngest sister Darlene Bauder, 42, Center Valley, Lehigh County.

“While there’s always scrapbooking around the clock for our three-day getaways, there’s also shopping,” she said. “This is our second winter getaway in Reading, and we’re planning to come back again next year.”

Scrapbooking weekends, attracting croppers (people who make scrapbooks), have apparently taken the country by storm.

That’s especially true in winter, but certainly not exclusively then.

It is a perfect time for a retreat, according to the “D”ivas.

The event primarily lures women willing to spend anywhere from $250 to $288 for a three-day weekend (lodging and main meals included), but also such extras as food vouchers, classes, vendor raffles and door prizes.

A pampering massage also is available for a fee, and there even is an on-site yard sale, where croppers have the opportunity to sell their new or slightly used scrapping items to fellow croppers.

“Scrapbooking can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want to make it,” Bauder said.

For most women, it is a time to get recharged and take a break from regular jobs and household cooking and cleaning, not to mention husbands, kids and pets.

Many want to join old friends or socialize with new ones.

Most importantly, they find time, without any distractions except of their choosing, to focus on organizing photographs and journals to preserve their family memories.

“We have some women who flew here from Minnesota and South Carolina, but most come from Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania,” said Bauder, who actually wanted to organize her own getaways shortly after being introduced to scrapbooking in 1999 when she had a baby.

She was determined to share the joys of scrapbooking with her sisters

Later, she convinced them to tackle organizing their own getaways.

“At first, Denise and Diane didn’t want to get involved, but out of obligation and sisterhood they came,” Bauder said.

“We all got hooked, pretty much,” Rathjens said.

In 2005, the sisters organized their first getaway at Split Rock Lodge in the Poconos and drew about 70 croppers.

Since then, the January getaways have grown and are usually sold out by July.

While all of the “D”ivas are wives and mothers, they also work full time, sharing a multitude of creative and organizational talents that have made their getaways a success.

Shaw is a travel agent, Rathjens, a hairstylist and Bauder a manager of a dental office.

“We had enough people (200) to sign up and sell out this year, but we ended up with 173 people because there were many cancellations because of lost jobs, layoffs and people moving, obvious signs of the economic struggles,” Bauder said. “We feel fortunate to have a large turnout considering what is going on in our nation.”

From another perspective, scrapbooking may becoming more popular than ever because it supports the trend toward “family nesting,” and pursuing less expensive, simpler pleasures.

To neatly organize all those lifetime events that happen closer to home and are recorded in photographs – births, weddings, graduations, anniversaries etc. – is often an incentive to participate in scrapbooking getaways.

Cluttered boxes and plastic tubs filled with crumpled pictures and mementos never seem to be as popular a draw at family gatherings as organized scrapbooks, complete with names, dates and sometimes even journal entries.

“I’ve been scrapbooking for about five years,” said Niszczak, the mother of two children.

She sat down at her table ready to concentrate and work shortly before midnight.

She was soon joined by others in jammies ready to crop till they dropped.

“I love doing this, because you can go with friends, have a block of time to get things done, and nobody is going to ask you for a juice box,” she said.

On the first night of the scrapbooking weekend, many women stayed up well past midnight, while some continued to work until breakfast the next morning.

The ones who did go to sleep often covered their cherished memories with blue coverlets to protect them.

“We cover our stuff,” Shaw said. “God forbid the sprinkler system (at the inn) goes off.”

Family memories are often only paper, cardboard or plastic in ribbon.

But to a cropper, they are priceless treasures.

Contact Bruce R. Posten: 610-371-5059 or
Originally Published: 1/25/2010
For scrapbookers, it’s a matter of record

Scrapbooking getaways draw mostly women.

“We had one guy who came last year with his wife, but that’s about it,” said Darlene Bauder, one of three sisters who has been organizing scrapbooking getaways for the past six years.

Other than noticing the predominance of the female gender at such events, there is no stereotype of who a scrapbooker, or cropper, might be – and even why they indulge in getaways.

At a recent Jaunary getaway held at The Inn at Reading, Wyomissing, some of the women included a psychologist, a homicide detective, several businesswomen and nurses and a whole group of Maryland female paramedics and firefighters.

Most of them were married. And, yes, most of them were moms.

“Why are women here?” asked Michele Ruth, 42, Westminster, Md., a firefighter and paramedic. “That’s simple. We’re often the ones who take the pictures. We keep the family records.”

“She got us involved,” said firefighter Leslie Cook, 42, Jefferson, Md., pointing to her friend, Susan Gartner, 44, Westminster, Md., a retired firefighter.

The women were sitting among more than a half-dozen of their friends, enjoying a late evening meal, taking a break from their scrapbooking tasks.

“Basically, it’s a way of keeping our heritage,” Cook said. “And when we complete our work, our kids definitely love to go through these books.”

“I’ve been scrapbooking for 11 years,” said Lisa McCullough, 46, Birdsboro, a school psychologist. “I’d say my approach is eclectic. I’ve done about 12 books in 11 years. Some are very simple and traditional, mounting pictures on paper and framing them. Others have more embellishments using chalk, stamps, paints, stickers and ribbons.”

Donna Ketterer, 51, Douglassville, a registered nurse and another longtime cropper, said she always kept photo albums.

She noted that sometimes scrapbookers give their creative efforts away to friends and families as gifts.

“I have to say scrapbooking is very addictive,” she said.

Elizabeth Bussler, 30, Exeter Township, owner of a Douglassville scrapbooking supply shop called Scraptacular (, sat with her mom, Linda Bechtel, 57, Exeter Township, and extolled the joys of cropping.

As a former bank teller but now a scrapbooking vendor for three years, Bussler has seen a growing interest in the hobby.

“In Berks County, we have a monthly club and classes that attract women of all ages,” Bussler said. “There are great online stores, too,”

Store manager Rhonda Mayers, 41, Reading, a mother of two children, said she has been scrapbooking for six years, but this year was the first time she attended a January getaway with friends.

“It’s very relaxing – it’s great just to have three days to focus on this,” she said.

“It’s not just a cute little thing for us to do,” said McCullough, the psychologist. “We are creating something that will last beyond us for our children and our children’s children.”

Contact Bruce R. Posten: 610-371-5059 or

Originally Published: 1/25/2010

To learn more about scrapbooking

Wyomissing, PA – To learn more about scrapbooking or the three “D”ivas, three Pennsylvania sisters who organize marathon scrapbooking weekends, visit

According to Darlene Bauder, 42, Center Valley, Lehigh County, one of the sisters, a spring scrapbooking getaway in planned for April 16-18, 2010 at The Chateau Resort in the Poconos, Tannersville, Monroe County. Capacity is 100 croppers.

Another winter scrapbooking getaway will be held Jan. 14-16, 2011, at The Inn at Reading, Wyomissing.