Project Life – Looking Back (Part 2)

I wrote about at the first two releases of Project Life in my previous post – the original (“Cherry”) edition from 2010 and the Turquoise edition from 2011. (Someone on Facebook reminded me that there had been a previous release of a similar product that Becky Higgins had done when she was at Creating Keepsakes magazine, which was a kit for people following Becky’s Project 365 (photo a day) program. From memory this was only released in the USA, so it hadn’t been easy to get in Australia.)

Towards the end of 2011, two new kits, Cobalt and Clementine, were released for 2012. This time I really couldn’t decide. I loved them both, so I bought both of them.

This time the system had changed a bit and different products had started to be added to the range.

Instead of a kit containing an album, pocket protectors, 12 x 12 papers and the cards and stickers, you got the cards alone in a bigger box and you could buy the albums, pocket protectors and papers separately.

Clementine Kit - released late 2011

Clementine Kit – released late 2011

Clementine Kit - released late 2011

Clementine Kit – released late 2011

There were more designs of pocket protectors, which were available in mixed design packs of 60 or single design packs of 12 (or 60 packs of Design A, the most common design). The 3×4 journal cards had ruled lines on the back rather than being blank, so you could use the reverse side as well if you wanted a plainer looking card (or you could embellish it yourself).

The digital products began to become available too, and while there were no specific horizontal journal cards in the kits, Becky made some horizontally designed cards available for free digitally for the two new kits, so you could print your own.

She also released packs of blank grid cards so you could design your own cards if you wanted to, and the backs of the journal cards were also printed with the grid design.

In 2012 I worked with the Cobalt kit. I bought the digital kit as well as the physical kit, which, along with the different designs of pocket protectors, gave me a lot more flexibility, while still retaining the simplicity of the original system. I started to move into the hybrid arena, putting my own photos and journaling onto the digital cards instead of writing on them or sticking smaller photos on.

Hybrid cards using digital Cobalt kit

Hybrid cards using digital Cobalt kit

Cobalt Kit

Cobalt Kit

Cobalt Kit

Cobalt Kit

Cobalt Kit

Cobalt Kit

After that release, the new kits started to be released more often, and the products became a lot more easily available throughout the year rather than being a (mostly) once-a-year thing.

The format of the kits changed again, with the cards being presented in the flat tray we get today. All the cards were printed double sided. The 6×4 title cards had the vertical version of the horizontal design on the reverse, and the filler card designs were printed on the reverse of the 3×4 journal cards instead of being separate cards.

Current format of the Project Life Kits (this is the Sunshine Kit)

Current format of the Project Life Kits (this is the Sunshine Kit)

There were new mini kits with 100 cards and other accessories like 6×4 and 3×4 cardstock packs that coordinated with the colours in the kits.

Since then the range has exploded and there’s so much to choose from, with new kit designs and products being released all the time. There’s now something like 26 pocket protector designs, mini kits, themed cards, value packs, photo overlays, dies, washi tape, smaller (6×8) albums and pocket protectors, and I’ve lost count of the number of kits that are available.

From buying one kit a year and using it for the whole year, people are now mixing and matching multiple kits, creating their own cards, embellishing their layouts similar to traditional scrapbooking, and other companies are also producing their own versions of the system. There are monthly subscription packs and many many types of kits. Project Life has become huge!

I can imagine if someone was starting out now, rather than in 2010 or 2011 when there were very few options, it all might look rather intimidating.

Project Life was never supposed to be overwhelming, but the quantity of products available now (which is all fabulous and allows people to make albums exactly the way they want to) means that starting to work with the system, if you don’t know much about it, can get confusing. It can also mean that you can spend a lot of time on designing your layouts, rather than just getting it all done quickly and simply.

I know there are people who love doing this, and love making more complicated pages with embellishments, which works for them just fine. This isn’t how I choose do it. I know that even as an experienced Project Lifer, I can get stuck deciding what to do for a layout because I have too many choices (and too many photos). Which cards to use, which pocket protector to use, what size photos to print, what else to add, whether to do it digital or physical. I’ve been trying to catch up on last year’s album and it’s been a very slow process.

The original intent of Project Life was to make keeping your memories a quick and easy process, which is what drew me to it in the first place. I don’t mind that there’s a huge range of stuff out there that suits all the different styles out there, but I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t need it all!

Every year I start off with the idea of keeping it simple, and every year I get behind in my photos and end up having a backlog of several weeks because I’ve got stuck. I know there will always be some lag, and I’m not always going to be completely up to date with the album, but I’m still sorting though photos from November (not to mention my trip photos from last year), and I want to get my 2014 album finished!

I want to make this a process that is easy and fun and doesn’t need too much thought, so this year is yet another attempt at keeping it simple.

To start with, I’m not going to buy any more kits. I have plenty of them, and many more part kits that I’ve got from other people. I’ve decided to go old school and use my unopened Clementine kit from 2012 as my go-to kit this year. The challenge with this kit is that the cards are ever so slightly smaller than the new format kits, so this might annoy my perfectionist mind.

2015 title page using the Clementine Kit

2015 title page using the Clementine Kit

I’m going to try and stick with the basic Design A for most of my spreads. I’ll also try and limit the number of photos I use – I love collage photos and I use them a lot, but too many of them on page after page can start to look cluttered.

This probably means taking fewer photos.


No seriously, I want my 2015 Project Life motto to be “Get it done”, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.

What’s your Project Life method?

If you like to keep it simple and would like to share your layouts, let me know and I’ll add your blog to my list


Project Life – January – Part 1

My 2012 Project Life album is coming together quite well. This year I’ve stuck with my approach of working month by month, rather than using the “Photo a Day” approach, or doing a spread for each week. These are popular ways to use Project Life, but they don’t really work for me.

What I do is make several pages of random things that I’ve taken photos of throughout the month – so usually some pages of Juniordwarf doing his stuff, one or two ‘random’ pages and then layouts that cover an event or a place that we went to – either a double spread or singe page, depending on how many photos I took.

At the end of last year I started adding in different sized page protectors so I could include things that are bigger than photos in the album as well. Mostly these are A4 and A5 sheet protectors.

For the first page each month I’m using the new Design F page protectors to include some small photos of random things, places and events that I might not otherwise have included. Most of these are from my Instagram photos that I have resized to 2″ x 2″.

January title page (R)

Instead of using the physical journal cards, I purchased the digital collection from Jessica Sprague. I simply add the photo to the card in Photoshop Elements, include any of the extra elements that I want (usually just the day sticker), and type in my journalling. I wanted to use the same fonts that are used in the Cobalt collection, but couldn’t find out what they are. The closest I found for plain text was American Typewriter, which I really like.

Once I’m happy with the psd files I open up a new 6×4 blank file, paste in two of the 3×4 journal cards and then print them as a normal 6×4 photo.

For each month’s title card, I’m using one of the digital 6×4 cards and typing in the title and again printing it as a 6×4 photo.

The reverse of the title is one of the digital bi-fold journal cards that I’ve resized to 6×4 (the bifold cards are slightly narrower than 6″ so they can fit into the 3×4 slots). I’ve then typed in the “month in review”, included the digital numbers to represent the dates of the most significant things we did during the month and then hand-written some journalling about those events directly onto the photo.

Reverse of January title page (L)

Then for the rest of the month, I continue the same approach I used last year.

January page 3 (R)

Pages 3 and 4 are a combination of digital and paper. Page 3 includes a lot more journalling than photos. I wanted to include the baked beans recipe and the story behind cooking them. This was another one where I used one of the resized bifold journal cards and added pictures and journalling.

January page 4 (L)

I love the new page protector designs, as they provide a lot more flexibility in terms of the photo sizes and orientations that I can include. Design D, with four portrait 6×4 photos and four horizontal 3×4 journal spots is one I think I’ll use a lot.

January page 5 (R)

January page 6 (L)

For the journalling in pages 5 and 6 I used the 3×4 cards and turned them sideways. There are a few designs that have the grid pattern rather than ruled lines, so can be used either way.

A4 and A5 page protectors between pages 6 and 7

January page 7 (R)

I’m also mixing up whether the photos have white borders or no borders because I think it breaks the pages up nicely.

Where I include more than one photo on a 6×4 picture, as in page 7 (above) sometimes I will break the photos up (bottom left) and sometimes I’ll keep them all together (top right).

January page 8 (L)

January page 9 (R)

Page 9 is an example of Design B, which I like because I can use one 6×4 portrait and one 3×4 landscape photo plus a journalling card to tell the story. I used it quite a bit last year and I’m glad it’s included again this year.

So that’s it for Part 1 of January, and my new approach to Project Life. Part 2 will show some layouts that cover specific events, rather than random photos over the course of the month.

Do you use Project Life? What approach are you using? 

P365 – Day 27 hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work we go

One of the ideas behind Project 365 is that you record all the little things in your life. Things that seem insignificant at the time, things that you see and do every day, things that just pass you by without you paying much attention.

They are things that today you might wonder why on earth you’d want to take a photo of.

But in five, ten, twenty years, you might look back at the photo and the subject might have changed beyond recognition, it might no longer exist, or it might be exactly the same, and the photo might trigger memories of things you used to do or places you used to go that you’d forgotten all about.

Becky Higgins describes it like this:

Some pictures will illustrate bigger moments and some shots will be routine stuff in your life. It all adds up to paint the full picture of your life right now.

Likewise with my writing. Some days the pictures serve as a trigger for me to indulge in some self-reflection and write a great deal.

Other days the picture is simply a record of something I did or something I saw that day.

Either way it’s the story of my life as I’m living it.

And so to today’s photo. This is one of the pictures that shows something I do regularly. It’s the view from the car windscreen as we drive up Davey Street in the morning on the way to work.

Stay tuned for ‘find me friday’ tomorrow 🙂