what my project life looks like lately

It’s been a long time since I shared any of my Project Life pages here!

I’m 19 weeks into my second year documenting our everyday life with words and pictures. I’m still using the Studio Calico Handbook albums and pages which are a smaller scale than the original 12×12″ Project Life products. Each page is about 6×8″ and the album is a little larger overall, but fits neatly on my bookshelf with my small photos albums and blurb books.

I’ve been surprised to find that I have no trouble keeping up with this project on a weekly basis. I wasn’t expecting to be so consistent, but I’ve never been more than a week behind, even after a vacation. I flag photos from the week before on Monday (or Sunday, or Tuesday, depending on how busy my week is) and put them onto a 4×6″ canvas in Photoshop Elements (PSE), editing the exposure and/or white balance if the photos need help, sometimes adding text journaling. Then I print them on my home printer (Pixma 5320) onto my favorite photo paper (this).

Until recently I had been printing the pictures somewhat smaller than 3×4″ and trimming them down and sticking them onto a 3×4″ (or occasionally 4×6″) piece of patterned paper – usually something fun and colorful that looked good with the photo – and then adding letter stickers or other simple embellishments.


Sometimes I would print the photos out at full 3×4″ size. I did a few pages like that, with every picture in full bleed, with a few stickers and some journaling. It worked really well for my NZ vacation, catching up after I got back.

IMG_7260The only issue was if the picture was cropped square from instagram, or if it was in landscape orientation. I could choose a different crop, collage 2 landscape images into a portrait 3×4, leave white space around the photo, or go back to matting them with patterned paper. It was also harder to fit journaling onto full bleed photos because I would be trying to fit it into negative space within the image, so I often didn’t tell the stories as well as I wanted to. Often the date or day of the week took all the space I had.

Lately I’ve been trying something new. I saw a lot of people on instagram using the Collect app for iPhone, which I gather allows you to make a photo-a-day calendar within the app, and creates little images that you can print with a photo, a date, and a journaled caption. They look a lot like those printstagrams I was working with. I looked into getting the Collect app, but my iOS is out of date and wouldn’t support it.

So I decided to see if I could make a simple template in PSE that would give the same simple white bordered look. It was extremely easy. All I really needed to do was create a clipping mask for the photo. I can add a text box for the date and/or for the journaling as I go. I created one template with 2 square photos (I print two 3×4″ cards on each 4×6″ page) and another one that works with 2 taller photos. It’s easy to alter the clipping mask as I go if I need it slightly taller or shorter or narrower. And I can add text under the photo, or over the top, or leave space to add letter stickers after I’m done printing.


The result is very clean and white, and only a sliver of photo paper goes into the trash (most of the pockets are very slightly smaller than 3×4″ depending on the production run). I add a few stickers indicating the day of the week or to create a title and I’m done.


I no longer need to have patterned paper for every picture. (Another way to look at that is that I no longer get to play with patterned paper. That’s partly why I made all those greeting cards – so that I could play with pattern and color.) I usually choose one type of sticker for the whole week to keep the look simple. Sometimes I’m able to use one style of sticker in a couple of coordinating colors. I like the color and the slight dimension that the stickers give, as compared to adding these details within PSE. I have a fairly good stack of alphabet stickers that I would like to use up.


I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with this style of Project Life-ing. There’s nothing stopping me from going back to the more colorful, patterned style I was using until a couple of months ago, or the in-between full bleed photo process. I didn’t mind the patterned paper process, even though it took a lot longer and was sometimes more complicated. I never added very much embellishment anyway, but finding the right papers to compliment the photos and the rest of the papers on the spread was sometimes not very much fun. I like the color of my old pages, but I like the clean simplicity of my new pages. And it saves me some money. I think if I get tired of all the white space on my pages I might go back to printing most of them out full bleed and see if that feels better. Buying more 6×6″ pads of patterned paper will probably be a last resort if I’m not enjoying the process without the pretty-paper-play element.


Depending on how many pictures I have each week and how I feel about them and the week’s stories, the process currently takes me a few hours. I don’t rush it. I’m often working on this project while watching something on TV. If I have a good week and have photos for each day (and I actually did something fun) it’s very straightforward and fast. If the week was dull and I didn’t take many photos, I spend a little more time finding images online for books, movies or TV shows (and, in the process, getting distracted online!) to fill in the gaps. I like having space for news and reviews from time to time and I often include things from TV. What we’re watching and talking about is an important part of our everyday lives. Using small Handbook pages means I rarely have space for much news or ephemera. I remind myself that this project is not about collecting everything. It’s just a sampling.


Project Life is not about perfection. It doesn’t have to be a photo-a-day project or a weekly review. There are no rules. It’s meant to be a way to capture some of the details of our everyday lives with pictures and stories. Or an easy way to scrapbook events. Or whatever you want it to be. It’s meant to be fun and easy. The complications we add are a choice. And just because we’ve chosen one way of doing the project doesn’t mean we have to continue the same way forever. I’m quite happy to see the changes in my pages over time.

I share my pages each week on instagram and have almost every page in a flickr album (where you can see the transition in my skill and style over time).

For more information about Project Life from its creator Becky Higgins, check out  https://beckyhiggins.com/about-project-life/

Thanks for stopping by again!


This entry was posted in crafting, digital scrapbooking, photography, Project Life. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to what my project life looks like lately

  1. Elisabeth Demmon says:

    Thank you for the ideas Jo. I like the simplicity of your layouts…and they tell your story well:)

  2. Dale says:

    I loved all the photos. It makes me wonder what I do with my days.I was thinking last night of a winter project. Watch this space. LOL. Dale

    • I sometimes have to make an effort to take pictures of things to make my life look busier and more interesting! :) Doing a project like this is a good encouragement to get out and do things. But I’m sure you would have plenty to document – gardening, friends, dancing, good food, visits from the lad…

  3. Emily says:

    I’ve been feeling a bit sad since I had Lucas, because when I’m pregnant I am so good at keeping up with my weekly journal in my Belly Book. But really, wouldn’t life with a baby be more interesting? It’s so sad that I always stop once the baby’s born… but who has time, you know? These are the years I’ll wish I’d done scrapbooking, and these are the years I don’t have time. It’s sad. I could never be as choosy as you; I always had about 10 pictures per week. But like I said, picking them, sizing them, cutting and taping them, then labeling them… so much work! But so wonderful. I was flipping through Lucas’s finished book the other day, and it really is like a scrapbook of our life for the last (almost) year. It’s crazy to see how little Emma was..

    • The original idea of Project Life was to print out 7 or 8 standard sized photos, slip them into pockets, then add 8 small cards with handwritten journaling to match the photos, or to tell other stories from the week. No sticking anything to anything, no cutting. Super simple. Some people find that works really well with little kids. They keep the little journaling cards handy to write up during the week or they catch up at the end of the week, maybe on a Sunday afternoon. But choosing the pictures can take a lot of time.
      I have adapted my system to be almost all computer based now, as you will see, so that I can print out a card with the story already there, and just cut it in half and pop it in the pocket, maybe adding one sticker. Choosing and assembling the photos still takes a bit of time. Maybe a couple of hours in total.
      But anyway, don’t give up the idea of capturing baby life. A lot of people scrapbook photos from the past. You might not catch all the little details, but maybe you can journal those to draw from later if you want to make memory books. Or use an app. There are some that combine photos and words to create a kind of scrapbook. There’s even a PL app coming out later this year.

  4. taraelias says:

    Looks so awesome! I love your use of letter stickers!

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