project life update

I anticipated 2013 would be a pretty amazing year. 2012 was certainly nothing to sneeze at — I wrote and defended my honors thesis, planned a wedding, graduated from college, got married and moved to a new state — but the year ahead promised to be full of new experiences and enough free time to document them all. Although it wasn’t one of my goals, I have dedicated a portion of my time each week to memory keeping with Project Life.

What is Project Life, exactly? It’s a revolutionary way to scrapbook, but instead of focusing on the “big events” and feeling the need to buy all of the papers, supplies, special scissors and ornate stickers, Project Life highlights the details of every day in a simple, glue-free format that can be as minimalist or as expressive as you so desire. The tagline of Project Life is “cultivate a good life and record it”, and I like this for so many reasons. First, it acknowledges that we as humans have a desire to keep track of how things happen, whether through journaling or taking photos along the way. Second, the phrase pays homage to a conflict that I know many bloggers understand — how to live a good life but also document it thoroughly, beautifully, without compromising participation. I’m so happy to report that, in my experience, Project Life makes that doable.

I asked for the Project Life Clementine kit for Christmas this year, and ended up receiving not only the binder and the sheets but several packs of cardstock and the entire gorgeous Clementine core kit. I started right away, and I’ve kept it up ever since.

Week after week, I take an afternoon or two to print photos, compile mementos from the week, cut them down to size and jot down a few words or a few paragraphs about what went down that week. Some weeks it’s easier to create a beautiful page than others. Some weeks it’s impossible to fit in all of the highlights.

The best thing about Project Life is that it has helped me to cultivate an attitude of awareness and contentment. When I’m looking at a set of blank pages, thinking back on what happened the week before, I’m able to recall small moments of beauty more easily than before I started Project Life. I’m getting better about remembering to take photos, and I’m getting better about remembering with take photos with my camera. I’m becoming more aware of opportunities to try new things and start new adventures, because all of that means a more interesting Project Life that week — and, more importantly, it means a more interesting life in the long run.

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Cover page: I opted for a Christmas recap for my cover page instead of a 2013-themed one. I had so many great shots and mementos from the holiday that I wanted to include a bit of the end of the year with the start of the new year. I covered the page protector with some leftover fabric from a sewing project.

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January: Week 1 – This page encompasses New Year’s Eve and our trip back to Texas from spending the holidays at home. Just recently I put all of the Christmas cards we received into three plain page-protectors for a storage solution and to get a glimpse at how many sweet friends and family members sent us well-wishes on our first Christmas season together.

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January: Week 2 – I was getting more into the habit of taking photos throughout the week, and I was especially trying to capture bits of our daily life. I really like the photo of Andrew on his “lunch break.” Although it’s pretty obvious that I still wasn’t comfortable with my handwriting or my pens.

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January: Week 3 – Not a lot happened across the week, so I saved our PL spread for documenting our trip to Austin over MLK weekend. This was one of my favorite spreads, and one of the most creative and accidentally color-coordinated. It really captured our experience in Austin and was an awesome repository for all of the little mementos I picked up along the way.

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January: Week 4 – Another simple week but a full weekend. This spread had a greater proportion of journaling/text to photographs, but here I’m beginning to get a feel for free-writing handwriting and I finally found a good pen for this purpose.

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February: Week 1 – I really like how the colors turned out on this page, the white and the red and light blue. We didn’t actually do very much of note this week, but it was easy to fill in the gaps with little life details captured along the way, and I’m happy about that.

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February: Week 2 – My parents came to visit, and so this was a week full of fun photographic opportunities. I kept the journaling cards simple, with only a few pops of color and some soft greys to balance out all of the photographs.

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February: Week 3 – I used another page protector to store a few cards and Valentines we received this week, and used some simple white Thickers to add a little textural flair. I love how you can still see through the page protector a little.

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February: Week 4 – I was sick this week, and I really struggled to gather enough photos to make for an interesting page. The rodeo helped with that, thankfully.

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March: Week 1 – Now, nearly every week that I make a spread I think, “this is my favorite.” This week, though, is really one of my favorites. I was very intentional about taking photos and I’m thankful to finally have some shots with our friends that we made, oh, a few months ago.

Two months in and already I’m loving this project for how it has challenged my creativity, improved my attitude, and drawn my attention to how wonderful this life of mine is. Years from now I know I’ll appreciate all of the hard work that went into documenting our first year of marriage, the beginning of Andrew’s military career, how we dealt with life at our first assignments and how we changed along the way.

Of course, there are details from the first couple of weeks that aren’t perfect, that I wish I could go back and change, re-write, or re-align. Theoretically, I can still do that, but I rather prefer to see my creative progress instead of trying for absolute perfection all of the time.

Supplies: Project Life Clementine binder, Clementine Core Kit, Project Life 3×4 grid cards, Project Life 4×6 Textured Cardstock, Project Life Design A Photo Pocket Pages, Thickers (in white, gold metallic, and wood grain), paper cutter, corner rounder, Paper Mate flair felt-tip pen, Cannon printer and matte photo paper, and scraps of this and that from around the house.

Some notable inspiration around the web: Becky Higgins started it all, so her blog is a good jumping-off point for anyone unfamiliar with the concept of Project Life. Elise Cripe has lovely spreads, but what I most enjoy is how she incorporates her Project Life journey into her daily blog. Hers is an excellent resource for newbies like me, who are learning as we go, as she breaks everything down into usable, learnable chunks. And finally, everything that Ali Edwards touches turns to gold. I dare you not to lose hours flipping through her Project Life blog archives and then questioning everything artistic you’ve ever done. Just kidding.

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10 thoughts on “project life update

  1. It looks absolutely gorgeous! I think I just decided what to ask for my Birthday this month! 🙂 Love the idea of documenting bits and pieces of my life. Maybe I could give my book to my mom once it’s done-she’s big on photos and photo albums. 🙂

  2. “…I rather prefer to see my creative progress instead of trying for absolute perfection all of the time.”
    I believe it is so natural to want to ‘correct/edit’ the past, at least for me. Lately I’ve found that it is such a huge blow to the ego to actually accept the mistakes/embarrassments/short-comings of yesterday as they were without modifying the memories/evidence… I’m writing that quote of yours down to remind myself that it’s okay to be less than perfect and to appreciate my growth in general.
    …And your book looks great so far!

  3. I am so in love with your book! (And I don’t think you give yourself enough credit when it comes to creativity!!) I’ve always been too intimidated by scrapbooking but this seems much more reasonable. It keeps with my “Life is Good” mentality and would be a great way to foster thankfulness. This is going on my Birthday List!!!

  4. album | kitchen::candid

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