Monday, January 14, 2013

how I documented an entire year in one week with Project Life

It's been a while since my last Project Life post. Two years ago, to be exact. HERE'S that post where I gush about my love for Project Life and the simplicity of it and show you several pages from my 2010 book. (And for those of you who've never heard of Project Life, it's the system I use to document and keep up with our family's everyday life. It's simple, doesn't require any special scrapbooking 'tools', and as you'll see in this post, I was able to put an entire year's worth of photos together in about a week. Much thanks is owed to the creator of this system, Becky Higgins. You can check out her site and watch a video all about Project Life HERE.)

While the ideal way to 'keep up' with what's happening in your life would be to write about it/print pics weekly and stick them into your album so you don't forget the details, I find that even THAT is sometimes too much for me to handle. (case in point: my 2011 Project Life album is empty) Taking pictures is the easy part for me, especially since the iphone makes it so darn easy to take not 1, but 428 pics I promise I don't take that many- but I totally could.

Since I had some time off work during Christmas break, I decided to tackle my 2012 album, and I mean ALL of the album. The computer keeps track of what day I took each photo, and since I download pics from our cameras and phone every few days, I had PLENTY to chose from. Picking which photos I wanted to print was actually the most time-consuming part of putting the book together since I literally had thousands to go through. I pulled out a calendar to record which photo I wanted to print for that day and wrote down which folder and which number each photo was so I could go back later and throw them all onto a flash drive. (I print the bulk of our photos at Sam's where it's quick and super-cheap, and doesn't use up our printer ink.)

Once I made it home with the photos, I pulled out my 2012 calendar again and started sliding in the photos. Again, love the fact that no adhesive is needed.

Now you may be wondering, "What about those days where you want to include, say, 165 photos instead of just 1?" Like maybe a birthday party or a wedding or a trip to Disney World?

Excellent question.

I printed 87 photos for the girls' Wizard of Oz party alone, and plan to make a separate 'mini' book for occasions such as this. As luck would have it, a new Project Life mini album made it's debut last week on Amazon. In 5 beautiful shades, no less.

Each of these mini albums has space for 80 4x6 pictures and 80 3x4 journaling cards (or smaller pics/pieces of memorabilia.) Just think of all the possibilities!

Back to the 2012 album.

I mentioned my love for capturing bits and pieces of our everyday life with my phone's camera and to be honest, most of my photos now go straight to instagram. Can I get a quick show of hands from those of you who would like to confess your love for this app as well? I thought so.
Lots of hands raised here.

Of course I'd want to include my fave instagram shots in the book, and Sam's is NOT the place to print these for you, my friends. Instagrams are square, and Sam's doesn't do square. I've heard of several great resources for printing insta's, but haven't used any, so I'll just tell you what I did, k? 

I select the 4x6 option to print, which allows me to print 4 pics at a time. The new printer we have prints them at a perfect 4x4 size, which is ideal for the album. The previous printer/program we had would also print these 4x4 when I un-clicked the box 'fill space', as in- Do you want to stretch these square photos into a rectangular 4x6?
No. No I do not.

Once they're printed, I simply chop off the excess, and voila. Printed 4x4 instagrams, perfect for use in a Project Life album. Side note- if you're a whiz at photoshop, you could reduce the size a wee bit and fit more than 4 instas on a page to cut down on the waste of photo paper. I am not a whiz at photoshop, so this is how I do, YO.

Once all of the photos are in place (yes, this step takes a while as well if you're doing a year at a time), it's time to write about what was happening. You can write a lot, a little, a page, or 2 words- it's evah.whatcha.want.

Once the journaling is done, (and just to be honest, I'm still not done with this part, but for the sake of the post I'm skipping ahead) it's time to go through and add any memorabilia that you want to include. This could be wedding/birthday invites, show tickets and programs, special pieces of artwork made by your kiddos, etc. I keep all of this together throughout the year in a file folder in the top drawer of my chalkboard file cabinet. See?

I literally drop anything and everything I want to hang onto into a folder with the year at the top. 
Yes, it gets pretty thick...

so I go through it once the year is over and decide what goes and what stays. I also put everything in order by date so that it's easier to add it into the book. Some items get inserted into the appropriate week, and some go into a folder in the back of the album.

Here's a layout from my 2012 album:

This particular week had two 8.5 x 11 pages that I wanted to include, so I dropped them into a plastic page protector.

Here's a closer look at the left side:

Love including bits and pieces of things the kids make, like this letter that Oliver wrote to us:

On the back side is Eliza's ballet coloring sheet from that week:

And here's the right side. Sorry for the crappy photos. These were totally taken after midnight, otherwise known as the time I blog:

For those of you into making digital books, Becky offers those too. She's partnered with Shutterfly, and when you add up the cost of the physical kit + book + photo processing, it's really about the same as making your book digitally and having it printed + shipped to you.

Some other recent additions to the Project Life line are baby kits:
(for HER, HIM, and in neutral colors)

And three different editions of a childhood mini kit:
(perfect for adding to your PL album, OR a separate album for each child)

There are also 2 new designs of Project Life available as of last week. I'll be using the Seafoam edition this year, and plan on 'keeping up' with my book week by week instead of waiting until the year is over. Although a year's worth can be done in a week, as I've clearly just proven with this post.

So tell me-
do any of you use Project Life? I know I had a few e-mails after my last post from people who purchased the kit. I'd love to know how you tackle the album- by the week? month? Anyone else do an entire year in 7 days?
Or perhaps you have another method entirely of documenting your 'everyday'.
I'd love to hear...
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