Category Archives: Project Life

What I learned from Ali Edwards’ A Week In the Life

Putting away some school supplies. The cleaners come the next morning so I spent some time doing laundry and picking up the house -- which was exactly what I was in the mood to do at this time.
Putting away some school supplies. The cleaners come the next morning so I spent some time doing laundry and picking up the house — which was exactly what I was in the mood to do at this time.

Have you been participating in A Week In the Life with Ali Edwards?

At the beginning of my lunch break on Tuesday (the second day) I got online and saw that she had started it so I grabbed my camera and decided to use it to motivate me to learn to take photos in this new house.

We’ve been here almost three years and I still had not found a photography routine here as of Tuesday morning.

I say, “as of Tuesday morning,” because by participating in the photo phase of A Week In the Life last week, I’m finally finding my way around this house with my camera. Every morning I started the day by looking at Ali’s photos, noticing how she aims or what she aims at, and then keeping that in mind as I went about my business.

So I want to share some of the things I learned from Ali along with several of my own photos.
Continue reading What I learned from Ali Edwards’ A Week In the Life

Ideas to Use Your 3×4 Project Life Cards – Paperclipping 247

paperclipping 247
Do you have more Project Life cards than you could ever manage to put into an album?

Or maybe you fell in love with a set and bought it, even though you don’t do Project Life. Either way, I’ve been hearing that a lot of scrapbookers are looking for ways to incorporate those cute cards into traditional pages. Here’s an idea…

Pull out three of the same card and line them up in various ways to create borders or anchoring lines.

I usually do a bit of cropping, depending on how I’m lining them up. It’s a great way to use repetition in your design while giving structure to the page.

I shared this and five other additional ways to use 3×4 cards on traditional scrapbooking layouts in this week’s episode of Paperclipping.

As a bonus I also shared some design tips for when you are using pocket pages and all you have are 3×4 photos, since those are the hardest pages to make look good, in my opinion.

You must be a Paperclipping Member to watch the video. (It’s in the Member’s Area and on iTunes now!).

CLICK HERE to learn about a membership. :)

Shine On,

Playing Inside the Pockets – Paperclipping 239

paperclipping 239

Do you play with pockets, or do you just slip things in them?

When it comes to Project Life and its pocketed pages, I mostly prefer to slip things in — to keep it simple.

But there are times I want to play more in those pockets, and there are times when the memorabilia, the colors, or the design demand more. Some items and spreads have extra special needs in order for the pages to be balanced and unified.

But I’m still going for simple when it comes to Project Life.

You, too?

So how can you have a little more excitement in those pockets, without making it as demanding as a traditional scrapbook page?

Here are some tips…

  • Focus your extra play mostly in one pocket, creating a “hierarchy” of pockets. Good design lets some parts of the design be more dominant and interesting than others.
  • Use scraps from your technique experimentation. Crop them down to 3×4 and stick them with your regular cards.
  • Use embossing make cards with dimensional texture. This will add a lot of visual interest without requiring much effort.
  • Add layers and extra pieces for the purpose of unifying the design (rather than for the sake of adding extra stuff). Do it to achieve balance or to move the eye across the page. When you do it for these purposes, you’ll do just enough to make the page complete, without doing more than necessary.

Want to see these in action?

I made a video that demonstrates all of these on a few different pages. Hopefully it’ll help you add a few additional extra touches while keeping it simple. Or if you tend to spend hours on your Project Life pages and wish you were faster, this might help you turn it down while maintaining a little bit of play.

The video is now in the Member’s Area and on iTunes. You must be a member to view it.

CLICK HERE for your new membership with Paperclipping and get immediate access to 239 videos, plus two more every month.

A Process for Project Life – Paperclipping 234

paperclipping 234

Do you ever feel like you’re battling with Project Life?

I know Project Life is designed to make scrapbooking simple, fast, and easy. And I believe it does that for people who have not been scrapbooking a whole lot like you and I have.

When I look back on the years I’ve tried on and off to do PL, I realize I’ve been battling with it —

  • battling with its colored cards to keep everything from looking chaotic and disjointed
  • battling with the pocket orientations
  • battling with the time it takes to get it done

But the battle is over.

Over the past year I’ve figured out solutions to all these problems and I want to share them with you. These tips are not rules and they’re not the only way to make your Project Life pages look awesome. These are the tactics I’ve come to love as the way that I make the pages attractive, while letting my photos shine, and still keeping it simple and manageable.

Three Tips for Minimizing Chaos with Project Life

(For the scrapbooker like you and me, who may be a bit of an over-achiever when it comes to memory-keeping).

1. Limit Color

Here are options for how to use color that have consistently given me Project Life pages I love…

  1. Use one color per 2-page spread.
  2. Use two colors in small amounts as accents, with black and white being dominant.

I’m not referring to the photos here. I’m talking about the cards, papers, and accents. In the image above from my video tutorial, you can see that I did the two-color accent option, with black and white being dominant. It’s fresh and energetic, but doesn’t distract from the photos.

2. Use the same 3×4 card across your spread.

I got this idea from my favorite pages in Izzy’s Project Life album and I shared an idea for doing it with washi tape from my December Project Life pages as a way to reduce chaos.

If you have more than two or three journal cards across a spread, you’ll want to break up the repetition with one contrasting card for variation to make it look interesting. Here’s why this looks so good (in addition to keeping it simple and easy!)…

  • It unifies the page.
  • It leads the eye across the page.
  • It won’t compete with your photos.

When you vary each card, especially if they’re all a different color or design, you’re adding contrast. Everything that contrasts is trying to get your attention.

What happens when you have lots of different kids all trying to get your attention? Overwhelming? Yeah — that’s how those pages can feel, too.

3. Use embellishments as a solution, not a problem.

Don’t add embellishments only for the sake of adding embellishments. That leads to all kinds of problems and frustration. Think of embellishments as a way to solve design problems. You’ll still have pretty pages and embellishing, but you won’t overdo it and make your pages chaotic.

Need help with some of these Project Life problems?

You can see it all in action on video! I made a tutorial this week where I go through a month of pages (3.5 spreads), and show you how to do all three of these tips, plus additional ones!

It is because of these tips that my most challenging page ended up being my favorite.

I also share my process for completing a month in a quick, simple way that still leads to attractive pages.

You must be a Paperclipping Member to watch the video.

CLICK HERE for info on a membership!

Members can watch the video in the Member’s Area and on iTunes.

Shine On,

Project Life Tip to Reduce Chaos

Jan 2014 6554

Do you ever have Project Life pages that become too chaotic when you add the cute journaling cards?

This happens to me all the time. I also find that some of the cutest cards look the most chaotic with my writing. But I stumbled on a solution that I expect to use a lot. I found it while I was putting together my December pages (I work Project Life monthly instead of weekly).

Here’s what happened, and the solution I found…

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(click on the images to see a larger version)

I love Christmas red as the dominant color for the Christmas season, but I don’t own any Project Life (PL) journal cards with red. I did have a roll of red polka dot washi tape sitting on my counter, though, and I was using it to tape my smaller photos into 4×6 spaces to keep the photos from looking like they’re floating in that larger space (above).

Since I very often use the PL grid cards for my journaling to keep my page from getting chaotic, it occurred to me that I could dress up the gridded cards with my red washi tape.

The page above was my first solution. See the journaling card at the bottom of the page?

Add a strip of tape just below the curved corner. Then add a little wood veneer snow flake. Cute, right?

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Then all of the next pages had more side-by-side pockets for multiple journaling cards.

At this point I decided to line the tape up with the top of the card instead, wrap the tape all the way around, front to back so I could use the same card on the opposite side, and then trim away the excess corners so they would be rounded like the card.

Look how well that washi tape unifies the page!

I love how it also unifies the entire month. I won’t do this all the time for every month, but I think I will once in a while. Especially for a month like December when the entire 31 days is a period of celebration, and most of the photos go well with one specific color.

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The spread above needed a starting point for the eye. I don’t need every single one of these cards to journal on, so I added the red rectangle piece with the Santa mustache. Because it’s red like the washi, the page feels unified.

The two lines of red lead your eye across the spread.

To give the pages some interest, and to keep it from being too flat and boring, I added a handful of wood veneer Christmas trees to intersect with the bottom edge of the washi.


All of the items in this last spread for December are different from each other. There are Christmas cards with very different colors and looks, there is a part of a Starbucks gift back, there is a screen capture from Facebook, and then an everyday photo.

Notice how the same red washi tape unifies the page, so the parts and pieces don’t look so random.

It also gives the eye a place to go, while the white cards give the eye a place to rest. Together the cards become the grounding focal point amid what would otherwise be chaos, since no single photo is dominant.

December brought me the solution to one the biggest problem I run into while doing Project Life — the often chaotic look of many of the pages. Is that a problem you have, too? This is all you need:

I love how simple this is. Once you’ve chosen your tape, you hardly have to think about another thing. I’ll use my regular printed 3×4 cards, too, but I’m excited to combine the washi tape + journaling grid cards again with different color and pattern soon! How about you?

Here’s Where I Do Project Life

Project_Life_Station 2

Do you have a designated spot where your Project Life is always open and ready for you?

I’ve been testing this spot as a potential PL “station” since we moved into our new house in July. It’s possible that once my scraproom is finished I could end up moving it in there, but I have serious doubts. I’m officially in love with this spot. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Maybe it will generate a few ideas for yourself.

We have this counter/cupboard space that is just off the main living areas of our home, and at the entrance to what I think of as my own almost private part of the house. Let me give you a visual of where it is. Here’s what you see when you step into the front door of our home…

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Please excuse the bare walls. It’ll take at least another year before it’s close to being finished.

To the left, where you see my dogs, is the living room/library. Straight ahead is the family/tv room. Left of that is our kitchen, and right of it is the master bedroom.

From the front door, if you make an immediate right, there is a hallway. That is the section of the house that I think of as my own space, with the exception of the guest bathroom that is back there. See that door in the hallway? That’s the laundry room. A little farther down the hall is my scraproom.

Project_Life_Station 3

You can almost get a glimpse of my scraproom through that hallway from this view. And there is my beloved Project Life station.

It is directly across from the laundry room. And since I’m the one that does the laundry, you can see why I feel like this is my area of the house. I can go back and forth between PL and laundry, and I can easily dash into my scraproom to grab or put away any extra supplies I want to use while doing Project Life.

Here is a view of the counter/cupboard space from the laundry room doorway…

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Just an FYI, those cupboards are for household items like extra candles, cake/cookie decorating supplies, medical supplies, etc. I might use one cupboard space below for pocket pages, but right now I’m only using two of the drawers to hold PL supplies.

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In the front of the middle drawer I have two mini kits, and behind that is a tray of mixed cards from a few core kits plus whatever I’ve cut down from regular paper lines. To the side and behind are additional supplies.

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The right drawer is where I throw any memorabilia for all kinds of scrapbooking until I have a chance to sort it for standard scrapbooking, or put it into one of my Project Life albums. Since taking this picture I’ve added file folders in there to sort any PL memorabilia by month.

I’ve got an extremely simple system that makes it easy to keep up with Project Life, so there’s not a whole lot.

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These days I keep two current Project Life albums going at once — one for our everyday life, the other to document our everyday dance life (You can see how the Project Dance Life album was born on video in Paperclipping 229. Click here to learn about about a Paperclipping Membership and access to our videos!).

I mainly keep the general everyday album open at the current spread, and the dance album is standing behind it. When I want to work on the dance album, I switch their positions. If I have loose items and don’t want to stand an album up, I think I can lay it on a shelf that is in the cabinet below (I haven’t had to do this yet, so I’m not positive it fits).

What you’re looking at on the counter right now in the picture above is my stash of supplies while I’m in hard-core PL mode. Because I’m finishing up December, I’ve got Christmas supplies out. Most of the time I don’t have an extra stash of themed supplies out like that. You also see my adhesive and scissors buckets. Those are only there when I’m working on a month of assembly. Most of the time they’re either in my scraproom or upstairs in the recording studio.

Theoretically, this is what it should look like most of the time, as long as I’m not piling up household to-do items on the counter…

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That is, as long as I’m staying on top of my regular-life to-do items. This is what I use for my household action items and my post-it notes, which are essential for both PL and getting regular stuff organized and done…

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This sorting unit is great because it’s portable. I used to keep it at my desk in my scraproom, but I found I like to do a lot of my work at the table where I homeschool Trinity, instead of at my desk. So it’s perfect right here — near the front door and easy to grab to take into our table in the library.

In fact, here’s one last view of my Project Life station, through the library, from that very spot where Trinity and I work…


What Makes a Great Spot for a Project Life Station

Here’s what I love about this spot for my Project Life:

  • I can immediately drop off the memorabilia when I come home.
  • It’s a central spot between the two places I do a lot of my work (laundry/scraproom + library).
  • The kids often walk by it to use the bathroom downstairs, so they can take a peek.
  • It’s an easy place for the current spread to be viewable for anyone, without cluttering up the main areas where we live and entertain.
  • I can choose and edit photos from the table in the library, and wirelessly send them to print on my Selphy (small black 4×6 printer on the counter) where the prints will sit and wait next to my album.
  • When I’m working on my PL I’m kind of in my own space, but not totally separate from the rest of the family. It’s the perfect middle-ground, both literally and figuratively.

Want to see some current pages? I just need to add a final detail or two to my December pages and post them in the next day or so. Please come back to check them out!

Do you have a space that’s working for you? Did my space give you any ideas for how you can improve your own? Please leave a comment and share!

Project Life vs. Standard Pages – Paperclipping 229

paperclipping 229

You’ve got photos and stories to document.

You do a regular Project Life album. But you also scrapbook standard pages.

How do you decide what goes in each format?

If you haven’t chosen clear parameters, you probably feel overwhelmed and are less likely to commit to as many pages (of either type) because of the lack of sureness.

Clarify Your Intentions

Here’s the key to doing both:

Make a clear distinction between your different types of albums. Choose a specific purpose for Project Life that is different from your standard albums.

You also need to know what your specific purpose is for your standard albums.

I tried doing Project Life for three years alongside standard pages, with a general yet slightly vague idea of why I was doing Project Life and what it’s purpose is for me. As a result, I’ve been on again – off again. I’ve had brief moments of enthusiasm and weeks of inaction and the question of whether to keep it up.

Once I had a clear intention for my Project Life, distinct from my other standard scrapbooking albums — one that I could put into words as a simple phrase — it all fell in place.

Not only do I feel more excited and motivated now, but I’ve also found that it’s easy to know which photos and stories to put in it, and which ones to hold off for my standard albums. In most cases I know in an instant which photos to include, and which not to.

If you’ve been struggling with the same confusion or less than stellar commitment, maybe a clear intention for what you’re trying to say with your Project Life album.

There’s no right or wrong intention. It’s your choice. Decide what would excite you with a Project Life format!

See It In Action: Project Life vs. Standard Scrapbook Pages

Want to know what my own intentions are for Project Life, vs. my standard scrapbook albums?

Maybe it would give you some ideas for how you want to clarify things for yourself.

This week I tackled a month’s worth of photos, ephemera, and stories from October. On video I share what I chose for Project Life, as opposed to leaving it for viewing on my computer or putting in a standard album, and why. I put the month together in my Project Life and you can see it all come together.

While your desires and purposes might be different from mine, it should give you some relevant questions to ask yourself and some ideas to explore.

The video is available now in the Paperclipping Member’s Area and on iTunes. You must be a member to view it.

CLICK HERE to learn about a membership!

A Vacation Scrapbook with Project Life – Papercipping 218

paperclipping 218

Every scrapbooker needs a good exit strategy.

And an entrance strategy.

What for? For those big overwhelming projects — such as vacation and travel scrapbooks — which most of us tend to procrastinate or never finish. Or both.

Continue reading A Vacation Scrapbook with Project Life – Papercipping 218