Thursday, April 23, 2015

Project Life How-To

Photos are a big deal in my family. Growing up, the walls of our home had hundreds of frames with family snapshots, from backyard candids by the pool to perfectly styled portrait sessions. But really, I wore a red plaid riding habit once. I will never forget watching my friends roam the halls of each house we lived in, marveling at the number of pictures and always noting how I looked the same at four, fourteen, and now almost twenty-four. 

It wasn't until middle school that I discovered a way to artfully collect moments and memories in not just photo albums but in scrapbooks. It was love at first sight. 

I hoarded stickers, die cuts, scissors, photo corners, and glitter and made friends with the sweet little old ladies that ran the local scrapbooking shop. They held crop and craft nights to which I was a regular attender (with my fancy scrapbooking suitcase), and the shop pets, two Westies named Bella and Scraps, made their home beneath my feet whenever I stopped by.

Stamps (Target), Washi tape (TJMaxx), Cards + Albums + Banners (Studio Calico)

The scrapbooking continued into high school, documenting dances and dates, my bouncing baby brother (who was only 6 when I left for college, sweet thing!)and everything in-between. But somewhere in undergrad the hobby fell to the wayside. My schedule could no longer maintain this side-gig while also allowing time for homework and rehearsal. Therefore I pushed the pause button until after graduation. Once I had donned my cap and gown, crossed that stage, and moved across the country, it was then that I discovered Project Life

Project Life is scrapbooking made easy. It uses pocket pages with cards of varying sizes that can be inserted on their own or embellished to your heart's desire. I have been using Project Life for over a year now and I don't see quitting any time soon!

At first I was overwhelmed and almost deterred by what I found when I went on the hunt for inspiration (see my Pinterest). Everyone was documenting play dates and date nights, five children and fur children, and I began to wonder, Do I have anything really worth documenting? I'm not married, I don't have toddlers or terriers, and most of my photos consist of food, flowers, and random finds. Why would I even try this? 

Well, insert my favorite phrase and current motto here: SAVOR YOUR SEASON. Simply because I'm single doesn't mean life is on pause. There is plenty to celebrate, and documenting it in a creative way cultivates excitement over the every day and contentment in your current circumstances. So what if it consists of selfies and shots of my journal? 

This is what my life looks like and it is worth celebrating!

Organizing Tray (Simplicity), Polkadot Binders (Target), Desk + Hutch (Pottery Barn)

After a year of using this system, I have learned a few lessons I thought I'd send your way. I call these: 

The Single Girl's Guide to Project Life

1. Find what works for you. There are so many different ways to get started with Project Life. The albums come in all shapes and sizes, spreads (the combination of side-by-side pages) can be organized by week or month, standing alone or coordinating, and you can find PL kits in all sorts of themes and colors.

I bought one of the original sizes, a 12x12 album, and stocked up on pocket pages, but I did not make a single spread. It was too large, too much to handle, and not practical for my season. My 2014 albums are in the small 6x8 albums from Michael's which I LOVED! This year they debuted a 9x12 that is really starting to grow on me. Maybe someday I'll be consistent ;)

2. Don't break the bank. You don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to start your storytelling with Project Life. Make use of coupon apps for Hobby Lobby and Michael's to gather the basics/higher priced items. They almost always have a 40% coupon available that can cut an album down from $20 to just over $10 with ease. Also, the Target dollar section is your friend. It is my go to for small storage containers.

I would also recommend considering a monthly subscription. I found that $20 a month for a carefully curated kit from Studio Calico or A Beautiful Mess kept me from wandering the aisles and spending wayyy too much at a craft store when I knew I had goodies coming in the mail. The kits are usually themed, season appropriate, and color coordinate quite nicely. I also use the boxes from previous kits for storage of mementos, pages in progress, and embellishments.


Project Life Cards (Studio Calico + Hobby Lobby)

3. "The best camera is the one you have with you." I first heard this from Ashley Ann's photography classes and I have found it is SO TRUE! I have a fancy (aka bulky) Canon Rebel which takes great pictures, but my iPhone is always on me. Even when traveling abroad I took my DSLR in hopes of capturing the great views but it was more cumbersome than convenient. For documenting my day to day, I stick to my phone and it has made such a difference! I take so many more photos than what I share on Instagram or Facebook, and into my album they go.

There are dozens of apps out there that can edit your photos while on your phone without the need for the more expensive Photoshop. My favorites include Pic-Tap-Go, VSCOcam, and Afterglow. I use PicStitch and the Canon iEPP apps to print my photos straight from my phone to my Selphy photo printer. The quality is somewhat lacking and the resizing isn't perfect, but it suits my needs and this season. If I'm patient, I'll wait for the e-mail from Shutterfly to come in offering 101 free prints. In fact, that's how I printed all of my photos for my 2014 albums and it only cost me a few bucks in shipping!

4. Little moments matter. Out for brunch with a friend? Snap a shot of your french toast and berries! Off for a jog around the lake? Capture those sneakers on a well-worn path! Movie date (alone or with friends)? Tuck your ticket stub in your pocket! Nothing is too little to document in my opinion! I include images from the web on whatever shows I'm watching, typically with a journaling card detailing anything special that happened that week or that episode, and since I am a list loving gal I include "eating, reading, thinking, hoping, wearing" on the regular. It's the little day-to-day moments we will forget, so keep those written down!

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There is so much I can say on this topic, and I hope to share more soon including my favorite products and current PL spreads.  Have you tried Project Life? Why or why not? If you have any questions/suggestions, feel free to send them my way!


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