When I re-entered the scrapbooking world a couple of years ago, there was a newfangled thing called Project Life. It seems all you had to do was put little journaling cards and photos into divided pocket page protectors. Fast, simple, and ideal for daily or weekly scrapbooking. Plus it was created by Becky Higgins. Becky Higgins! Sketch column goddess of Creating Keepsakes magazine. It must be good stuff.
I decided to try Project Life this summer. I’m a seasoned scrapbooker, and I’d already made a couple of themed albums with pocket pages (Christmas and school) and a 4×6 summer album, so this should be easy, right?
I’m used to scrapbooking events long after they’ve occurred. Like, years later. Scrap-as-you-go did not come easily for me…
I Tried Project Life
A daily diary.
I am excited! First, I need an album and journaling cards. Becky Higgins has her own line of 12×12 Project Life products, but I want to use a smaller album. Plus, I’m not ready to invest in a big box of journaling cards. I choose a Simple Stories SN@P! Binder and divided page protectors, and find some digital journaling cards online. I also make a title page.
I am ready.
I stare at my album. Now what? The idea of recording everyday moments sounded much easier before I actually started.
Maybe it’s just first page jitters. Once I get past the first page, the rest will be easier.
I don’t really have much to say about today, so I decide to start with photos. I take photos of the kids, download the photos from my camera onto my computer, open Photoshop, edit and print. Then I put the photos aside to dry for a while.
This was very time consuming.
Days 2, 3 and 4:
I’m out of town and don’t do any scrapbooking.
I am already 4 days behind. The fact that the “I’m behind” mentality enters my thoughts is quite bothersome. But I have a mountain of laundry to do, so I’ll think about Project Life tomorrow. [It doesn't occur to me to take a photo of the laundry.]
Do I make one page every day? Do I print a photo at the end of each day? Do I write about what I did that day, like a diary? And this daily journaling thing… isn’t that what I’m already doing on Facebook? How do people manage to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., AND do Project Life? I should just print my Facebook posts and call it a scrapbook.
Maybe I need to find some Project Life tips.
I visit the Project Life website. Becky assures me that Project Life is anything I want it to be. She says it’s a revolutionary, back-to-basics approach that will allow me to let go of my memory keeping guilt and get in touch with my blessings and priorities.
I fear this is some kind of cult.
Am I supposed to be feeling guilty for not scrapbooking more photos? Now I’m feeling guilty for not feeling guilty. Save time and stress? Um, not so far. Therapeutic? Nope. And what’s with “filler cards?” Why would I want filler instead of substance?
Maybe I need to see some Project Life page examples.
I visit the Project Life gallery on Two Peas in a Bucket and I am feeling inspired. I find some digital journaling cards that coordinate with my photos. I type, print and trim (which, like the photos, is also very time consuming). I stick the cards and photos into the page protector pockets and stand back to admire my masterpiece.
I am not happy with it AT ALL. Everything looks so… random. *sigh*
At this point, my album is just sad. I’m ready to call it quits and go back to making a summer scrapbook at the end of the summer.
And then I realize that I’m doing exactly the same thing I used to do with traditional scrapbooking: getting overwhelmed with product choices and how everything is “supposed” to be done. I need to stop looking at what everyone else is doing and do my own thing.
I enjoy a cup of coffee and gather my thoughts. (Good ideas come while drinking coffee).
I want dates and captions on my photos. I create a 3×4 template in Photoshop – a simple frame overlay with a date and caption. All I have to do is drag a new photo behind the frame/date/caption, change the date and caption, and print. This really goes quickly! I wonder how long my printer ink will last.
I make a page filled with photos and captions. This eliminates the self-imposed pressure of creating a journaling card when I really don’t have much to say.
Days 9, 10 and 11:
I’m worn out from printing photos and don’t do any scrapbooking.
I wander into Michael’s craft store for no reason in particular. They have Project Life! It looks better in person and I rethink my position on not buying PL. I want all of them. I settle on the Kraft Core Kit because it looks like it will coordinate with my Simple Stories album colors.
I go home and place a few cards in the blank spaces of my album. It looks fantastic! The filler cards are like using patterned paper on a traditional layout – it breaks up some of the monotony of an otherwise all-photo layout. The cards make my album color coordinated and consistent.
I consider rounding the corners of my photos to match the cards, but decide against it.
As a Project Life rookie, these ready-made cards are better for me than digital cards – I have been spending too much time selecting and printing and trimming. I like being able to grab and go.
Dear Becky: I am sorry I doubted the awesomeness of Project Life cards. I am sorry I snubbed my nose at filler cards. The cards are beautiful. I am ready to join the Project Life cult.
My First Project Life Pages
The album’s title page is posted here.
What I Learned about Project Life
- It is different than traditional scrapbooking. Even though I’ve been scrapbooking for over a decade, Project Life took some getting used to. It’s almost as if I had to “un-learn” traditional scrapbooking.
- It was easier to start after I had about a week’s worth of photos. Now I can scrap as I go, but I couldn’t at first.
- When struggling with how to begin, start with a collection of photos. As I’m getting the hang of Project Life, I’m finding it easier to incorporate more journaling.
- Adding dates and captions to photos was very helpful. It eliminated the pressure of having to write a journaling card to explain each photo.
- Having a template for photos was also very helpful. It made editing and printing photos faster for me.
- It is not necessary to print the photos every day. Just find a routine that works.
- The more “everyday” photos I take, the better I’m getting about remembering to do it. And I’m getting more creative.
- Go ahead and get a Project Life core kit. I thought it was just another box of cards, and that I could save money by printing my own, but they are quite nice.
- Don’t stress about perfection (otherwise, it will never get done).
- Using Project Life doesn’t mean you have to change your scrapbooking style. Make journaling cards similar to the way you would make regular scrapbook pages. Add sewing if you normally sew, add paint if you normally paint, etc.
- You have to keep up with it. It’s hard to go back and “catch up.”
- It really IS an easy way to scrapbook once you get the hang of it.
My children, on the other hand, had NO trouble AT ALL with Project Life. They were journaling and coloring and creating right away. I’ll share some of their pages and tips in an upcoming post.
(Background grid pattern in “I Tried Project Life” is courtesy of melstampz.)