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Why I Haven’t Given Up on Project Life

I first fell in love with Project Life at the end of 2011, just in time for the start of a brand new year. Despite many ups and downs over the last four years—and the fact that I am woefully behind in every album, except for one—I haven’t given up on Project Life!

And I don’t intend to, either.

This is definitely my style of memory keeping! The things that first appealed to me about Project Life appeal to me still. I love recording all the little everyday moments, not just the big ones. I love working on smaller canvases instead of on big, blank pieces of 12×12 paper. And I love how fun it is to put all these little things into all these little pockets!

I have 7 albums dedicated to Project Life, covering the last 5 years. I’ve learned a lot about what works for me (and what doesn’t) along the way…

2012 : Going All In

I started my Project Life journey in 2012 by creating a 100% paper album. I made all my own cards with lots of patterned papers, stickers, alphas, washi tape and added lots and lots of stitching.

I used mostly Design A, along a few Design D pages:

At the time, I didn’t have any good printing options at home. I went to Target every other month to print photos from Instagram, and I used our all-in-one printer to print off my journaling cards.

This was also a weekly album, with detailed cards on what we did every (single!) day for the whole year. I enjoyed the documenting process at the time. It’s not something I really want to do again, though!

In hindsight, this album ended up being a rather over-the-top paper affair. Is it any surprise that it’s still not finished?! I still need to work on pages for October, November and December… and it’s been that way for the last three years.

But all the photos have already been printed, and they are in the book. All the stories were also recorded in a journal. So, I’m not worried about it! It will get done.

I hope to finally finish it this year—and I know that is going to feel SO good! I’ve already started working on part of October and I’m almost to November now. Yay!

2013 : Making it Simpler

Because I fell behind with my paper album, and I knew I had a busy year ahead of me with design projects, I decided to go all digital in 2013:

At the time I had access to tons of beautiful kits as a fellow designer at the Sweet Shoppe, so I had lots supplies on hand.

This is the only one of my albums that is 100% complete. I sent off all my prints to Persnickety as 12×12 sheets and I wanted all 52 weeks to go at the same time. The pressure to wrap it up so that I could send it off for printing was helpful!

Once my prints arrived, I spent time slicing them all up and stamping on them.

I followed basically the same format for 2013 that I did in 2012, but I used Design F to switch things up. I really love all those little pockets!

2011 : Jumping Back in Time

Thanks to the boost of confidence that it gave me to actually finish an album, in my spare time I went back to begin scrapping 2011:

This is the year that our youngest joined the family (literally the day before the new year started!), so it felt like an important year to add to the collection.

Since I’m “backscrapping” it all, I don’t have a lot details… but I do know the main stories! So, I’m just recording the them as I go through our photos chronologically.

This year was also “pre-iPhone,” so I have a lot of photos from my DSLR. Design A is perfect for that!

Towards the end of 2013, my mom bought a new printer and gave me her large format Epson. It was a dream come true for me! Then for Christmas that year, my husband bought me a little Epson PictureMate. Finally, I was all set up to do everything myself at home—and I can tell you that this one thing has led to the MOST success for getting my Project Life in the books. I love real papers and elements, but being a digital girl, I’m also very DIY when it comes to my note cards. Having the tools to print at home made a huge difference to me!

These pages from 2011 and all my pages for 2014 were printed at home. (And I intend to keep doing this for 2016 as well!)

2014 : Striking a Balance

In my album for 2014, I wanted to try to combine the look of paper with the ease of digital scrapbooking supplies. It’s ended up being my favorite album so far:

I dropped the “This Week” cards and added calendar cards instead. I didn’t want to spend so much time recording the details of lots of tiny things we did every day, like “Thursday – Went out to eat.” I wanted to be sure that I was capturing the main stories that do matter, the things we will really want to look back on later. I also didn’t worry if I had only one page for a whole month.

I just recently printed out pages from September! There are still a few months to go on this album, too. (October, November and December again? It must be a curse!)

2015 : A Year of Less

As for 2015… I havenโ€™t printed out a thing yet. I’m still not even done messing around with the overall format!

But I have digitally scrapped pages up to the month of April now, so they will be ready to print once I do make up my mind.

This year was difficult for a number of reasons. I felt burnt out on life in general. I took fewer photos (and they were all on my phone). I didn’t keep any sort of journal. I have no notes. I had a lot going on in my life and the stress didn’t lend itself to looking around for things to capture and record.

I also decided to really change up the pockets on this one, using Design K. I’m still not 100% sure what I think of it, but I knew I didn’t want to use Design A or F again for this year. I do like to change it up every year. A new format for each new year seems to keep me inspired! But this change to 4×4 pockets might have been too much for me. (The jury is still out.)

I am thinking about sending these pages off for professional printing once again because it feels a little wasteful to me to print 4×4 photos at home on my 4×6 printer.

I Ain’t Bothered

So, yeah—I have a lot of scrapping to catch up on!

But you know what? These unfinished albums don’t bother me at all.

Why? Because I know I can catch up. It’s Project Life… it’s designed to be easy! (Or hard… if I want to make it hard on myself. LOL!) But when I put my perfectionistic tenancies aside, I know I can get A LOT of scrapping done in a short period of time.

All my albums don’t have to be the same for me to be happy. There are years where I took really great notes in journals. There are other years where the photos are the only trigger I have to what exactly we did that month. I have albums that capture one week on a two page spread. I have other albums that capture a whole month on one page. The randomness doesn’t bother me one bit!

Sometimes I find that it needs to be less about the method and more about the stories and photos.

But, hey—let’s be honest. Sometimes I want it to be more about the design! This is a hobby that I just LOVE and embellishing it up is part of the fun.

But one thing I know that it doesn’t have to be: Perfect!

Life is messy. Life is imperfect. Why would my albums be any different?

The main thing that matters to me is not that I keep going with a weekly layout or always use calendar cards… it’s that I keep recording those moments that make my kids smile when they look over the years.

This method of memory keeping constantly inspires me to keep going. Once I found Project Life, I knew I had finally found the style of memory keeping that fit with what I always wanted.

And the proof that it does work for me is this…

Pages upon pages of recorded stories–over 150 of them!

If it were not for Project Life, I would not have a SINGLE layout to show for the last 6 years. Heck, despite loving scrapbooking for the last 12 years, I hardly have ANY pages at all to show for it. Maybe 20 total… and a barely finished baby book for my oldest daughter (who’s almost 13 now). Traditional 12×12 pages just didn’t work for me, but this does!

And I’m excited to be making plans now for 2016.

2016 : Looking Ahead

I’m going back to Design A. I’m pulling the DSLR off the shelf. I spent half my Christmas gift money on beautiful Project Life kits. I’ve signed up for a Project Life class. I’m stocked up on ink and paper. I’m ready to go! I can’t wait to get started on a new year of Project Life.

It doesn’t matter to me that 2012 is STILL unfinished.

And 2011…

And 2014…

And that I haven’t printed a thing for 2015…

I know I will get it done! So, I don’t stress over it. And that’s why I haven’t given up on Project Life.

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  1. ina

    This was such a good post. I started PL the exact same time you did, end of 2011. I have different size PL albums completed for each year,although it takes me thru Jan of the next yr to finish. Last yr was 12x6which I loved and had 2 albums. they’re easier to handle and less bulky. This yr I hope to print out journaling so I can get more of the stories down than with handwriting.
    I loved reading about your process.

  2. Kimberlee

    Yay! I’m glad there is someone else like me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Kelleigh

    I love this!! I love to see your evolution in scrapping. I’m working with the PL App this year, and I can’t believe how much I’m getting done in so short a time. I just needed to get those pictures out of my computer and into a book! I’m caught up on 2016, and I did 2015 in about 3 weeks. I’m half-way through 2014, too! I’m super excited about it and can’t wait to keep going. I feel like I’m getting my memories back. It’s a good thing.

  4. Mari Koegelenberg

    Nicole I love your enthusiasm and seeing all your pages side by side it really is so beautiful. Thank you for the inspiration and the hopeful message to so many of us that struggle just getting inspired for a new year of memories ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Nicole

    Loved reading about your processes through the years ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree with your point about documenting too much ‘stuff’ at times. When I look back at my album I created in 2013, there is a lot of stuff I went into too much detail. Best of luck with your 2016 album!

  6. Tiffany B

    Thanks for sharing your process…I love that you have embraced imperfection! …And just look at all those pages you’ve made! Congrats on not giving up!

  7. Tracie H

    Thanks for this post. It helped remind me that I’m not the only one out there that is behind and it gave me a new perspective. It’s time to push forward and continue to do what I love…document our families journey.



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