Project Life ~ Week Seven ~ Feb 11-17

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What I have to say about this week’s Project Life process:

  • I can make my PL plan (which I do on paper) in under 30 minutes. 
  • I can make my “rough draft,” where I place all the photos into my template, unedited, in under 30 minutes.
  • I can’t edit my photos (lighten, color correct, make B&W, and resize, are the main ones) in 30 minutes. Or an hour. Or an hour and a half. I have definitely located at least one of the bottlenecks in the process. I am not a photographer. My pics are all iPhone pics, frequently taken at night in artificial light. I have a bunch of actions which have very pretty “After” pictures illustrating them, and I waste a lot of time trying them out on pictures that are probably beyond saving.
  • It took me 30 minutes just to pick out and fill in a single journal card (the week in review card).
  • I had determined last week to stick with the double-mat, pocket-page layout, but it just didn’t look good with this spread. To my eye, these pictures needed borders!
  • Check it out! I used my first filler card! That’s because I did something different this week. I let go of having PL be my journal and worked with it as a more straightforward record of events instead. It’s a BIG difference. There are some significant conversations and interactions that didn’t make it onto this spread. There are some events I had pictures of that I didn’t include, just listed the event on the week in review card. I feel a little anxious (HOW will I look back and know everything that happened?!) but it was also a huge relief.
  • I made two new templates for myself – both 4×6, one with a single photo (like in the carrot pic above), one with two photos (like the pic of the kids playing cards). I think this is going to save me a LOT of time. I love putting smaller photos into 4×6 spots with journaling – it’s a good solution for a not-so-great picture (man, I tried nearly every action and trick I know on that carrot shot), it lets me get in some nice long journaling without feeling cramped, and I love the way it adds some dimension to the page. But I’ve been reluctant to do it in the past when I’m trying to go quickly because it takes me a disconcertingly long time, with the frame and the angle and the shadowing and all that. So having a premade template for this will, I think, free me up considerably.
  • I am annoyed that the corners of my Valerie Wibbens pocket page rounded corner templates aren’t actually round. Unfortunately they have the spacing I want (more room between photos than the Becky Higgins templates), and re-spacing all those cards is actually a huge drag. Another future time-saving investment will be to make an A template with the spacing I want and properly rounded corners.
  • I would like to work in more of the “Currently” stuff that’s so popular right now, what I’m watching and reading and all that, but there’s no room! My pages are crammed just keeping up with the pictures and stories from each day. Thinking about it now, I guess I could have put one of those cards where I put the filler card. At that point I was so excited to be done, though!
  • I’m pretty proud of how this layout turned out with respect to it being the week of Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want it to be themed as such or over the top with the cutesieness, but I do like the little nods – the touches of pink, the absurd Walgreen’s Valentine’s gifts, the kissers on the theater program, the heart label on the photo, and even the beet tattoo!

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Inspiration this week from:

  • Kimberly Kalil (as always!) for the colored borders/patterned background paper look, and for the style in which I did my small photos in 4×6 spots.
  • Suzanne for a great title card, which I totally scraplifted. I’ve been scraplifting or inspiration-farming other people’s ideas for my title card most weeks, and so far I’ve been really happy with all of them.
  • Heather Johnson for her extraordinary post deconstructing how she does a PL layout. She introduced to me the ideas of taking pics with deliberate empty space to journal on, and making a couple of the photos in my layout black-and-white, which worked really well here (and if you disagree, well, you should have seen the dismal quality of the photos before I converted them!).
  • Haley of The Ney Life for the simple numbers stamped on the corners of photos. I go back and forth about how I want to label and record – day of the week, calendar date, just leave photos unmarked and let the layout tell the story of the whole week all together. However:
  • Julie Fei-Fan Balzer, my very favorite paper PLer, (and who I went to high school with – what’s up, Julie!) is, for herself, very insistent that each and every day be documented in her PL, be it with a photo or journal card or ephemera. Reading this made me feel less uptight and compulsive for having similar feelings myself. So it works best for me that at least one thing per day in my layout gets positioned precisely in time, although day of the week or date number both feel okay for me as long as the dates of the week are marked in my title card. And like Julie, I’m a Monday-Sunday person, always have been, probably always will.

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I’m linking up this week with The Mom Creative‘s Project Life Tuesday. I’m a little late (posting this Wednesday night) so I may miss out on the visiting and commenting fun, but adding it to the linkup there does help keep me motivated to get this done in a timely fashion, so I’ll add it nonetheless.

Credits:
Title card: Scraplift from Suzanne
Wood paper: Marisa Lerin at PixelScrapper
Felt camera, background paper, filler card paper: Persnickety Prints Storyteller free kit
Felt circle: Sweet Lilac Studio ~ Softly Falling free kit
Striped paper: Jen Allyson ~ Vanity Fair Aubergine Papers
Felt style on title: Jen Yurko ~ Early Evening Stroll Styles
Stitches: Busy Crafting Mommy Designs ~ Wonderful
Cardstock: Magpie Paper Works Seamless Paper Textures
Weekly journal card: The Splendidly Imperfect Miss M
Halo on filler card: handmade halo brushes by lily-fox on DeviantArt
Ombre paper (under carrots): The Ardent Sparrow ~ The Ombre Kraft Papers
Teal washi: Alamama’s Pressed Petals ~ That’s Old School add-on
Blue washi: Marisa Lerin ~ The Balkans
Totally not-rounded rounded corner template: Valerie Wibbens ~ Pockets No. 3
Fonts: Pacifico, American Typewriter, Amelie, Bebas Neue

Project Life ~ Week 6 ~ Feb 4-10

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I really like the PL pages I’ve made so far this year but oh man they are taking me SO LONG. Like, embarrassingly long. Like, if I tell you how long you’re going to wonder if I have any other life at all (yes, I really do, but I also have this unfortunate insomnia issue). Even my Project Life hero, Kimberly Kalil, has written recently about trying to streamline her process and cut back on the inordinately long time it takes her to make a weekly spread. She’s trying narrowing the scope of materials she uses and arranging her workflow to try to minimize the amount of time she spends making decisions about things. Check out this page below:

This is Kimberly's version of a *simple* Project Life page. Still lookin' pretty fancy to me, and would take me a very long time...

This is Kimberly’s version of a *simple* Project Life page. Still lookin’ pretty fancy to me,                                                    and would take me a very long time…

I suspect Kimberly has a far, far greater innate sense of design than I do. I try to do my pages quickly, and they are UGLY. I have to do a lot of rearranging before I end up with something that satisfies my eye. And even then, I have so many doubts. Are the pages too busy? Too bright? Should those date tags be smaller? A different color? AAAAAAGH.

But something has to give because I am swamped in every area of my life and my body is giving me all the stress signals it knows, some of which I haven’t seen since college. And I really do want to keep up this year, because I am hoping to somehow squeeze in 2012 as well. (I’m doing 2012 in what I hope will turn out to be a much more simplified fashion, but it will still take time.)

I remember when I made my first Project Life album, back in 2010. It was a physical album with photos I printed at home and slipped into page protectors, and the journal cards were all from the PL kit – there was only one design at that time, the one they call Cherry now. I would get behind, sure, but then I’d sit down for an afternoon and power through a months’ worth of pages. Now it takes me all week (squeezing in time here and there) to make a one-week spread, and I only have time every couple of weeks so I get further and further behind.

Maegan at Scrapaholics takes a streamlined approach to Project Life – and actually gets her pages done!

Even though I basically worship Kimberly and want my PL to look like hers all the time, I decided it was time to try to simplify the process. I pulled up a post I’d pinned from Maegan at Scrapaholics detailing her workflow. She has a pretty streamlined approach – 12×12 colored cardstock, smaller white square, and digital page protector, sized to fit into the white square. Maegan also used the same color cardstock for a full month, the same journal cards for the whole year, and had very simple, classic title cards. I, of course, can’t do anything that simply. (Although I may be getting there – I think Maegan’s pages look classy and I’d be proud to have a finished book that looked like that – and at least it would actually be finished.)

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But half the fun for me is making the title cards and the journal cards and all that, so I still included that part of the process. I did keep to the Storyteller kit once again, which allowed me to use the journal cards I’ve already made in advance. Using the set background format really did save a lot of time and decision-making (although I don’t love how it looks as much as other styles *coughKimberlyKalilcough*), especially since I was keeping mainly to the “photos in the 4×6, journaling in the 3×4” convention rather than getting bogged down in too many intricate little mini-layouts. So maybe I’ll stick with this look for February at least (I’m resigned to my 2012 and 2013 books being a hodgepodge of styles, since I’m still very much in the process of learning digital scrapping).

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I’m linking up this week with The Mom Creative‘s Project Life Tuesday. If any of you stopping by have thoughts or tips about how to make this process (specifically digital) not take so agonizingly long, I’d love to hear them!

Credits:
Background cardstock: Storyteller free kit from Persnickety Prints
Pocket page & template: Valerie Wibbens ~ Pockets No 3
Title card and all journal cards made by me using Storyteller and various embellishments
Alpha brushes: Kristin Aagard ~ Block Party Blog Train
Title card “Feb 4-10” font: GraffitiPaintBrush
Crosshatch doodle: Lauren Reid ~ Yesterday’s Jam One Story Down collab
Rainbow circle border: Just Jaimee ~ Take My Picture Freebie
Embossed label font: Fuzzimo
Washi tape: Vegas Girl ~ Washi Tape Chevron Collection Freebie
L monogram: August Empress
Halo behind monogram: handmade halos brushes by lily-fox on DeviantArt
Date tags: Biograffiti Itty Bitty Dates No. 8
Date tag fonts: Rage, Bebas Neue
Days of the week brushes made from stickers by: Krisi’s Kreations ~ Celebrate Days of the Week (Scrap Orchard)
Journaling fonts: Hero, CK Marissa

Project Life Catch-up ~ Week 2

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I knew I wanted to do my PL digitally this year, since I’ve fallen in love with digital scrapbooking (and since my photo printer is totally dead!), but when I started experimenting with it last year I had some trouble adapting the traditional PL layout (basically a 12×12 page with a top row of 2 4×6 photos, middle row of 4 3×4 journal cards, bottom row of 2 4×6 photos) to a digital form. When you’re not slipping photos into physical plastic pocket protectors in a binder, you have to think about things like what the background will be and if you want borders or shadows or frames, etc. around each photo and journal card. I tried different things but none looked right to me. There are digital page protectors, for example, but they washed out my photos, made me have to shrink down my photos to fit in them, and looked a little messy to me when I tried to use them, although I have liked the look when other people have designed layouts using them.

Then I came across Kimberly Kalil, who blogs her Project Life pages on her blog, This Kalil Life. She is a genius, as far as I am concerned. She totally cracked the digital-PL code and solved all my dilemmas. She uses a patterned or richly textured paper (nothing too busy or garish) as the background in a color that coordinates with the rest of the materials she uses. Then she puts colored borders – just a simple stroke border in some coordinated color – around each photo and journal card spot. Sometimes she also adds a slight shadow for these elements, other times she lets them look “flat” on the page. She also has great design sense in how she puts all the other pieces together, element decorations and tape and so on. I think it’s that magical stroke border that pulls it all together. To my eye, at least, the pages go from a messy assortment of stuff that looks sort of haphazardly “glued” onto a page to a pulled-together layout.

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I’m still pretty new at scrapbooking with any kind of ornamentation or creativity (all I’ve ever done is Project Life and I’m used to just slipping my pics and premade journal cards into those plastic page protectors). So I decided as a learning exercise I would try completely scraplifting one of Kimberly’s PL layouts. I would try to match up what I did with my material (which obviously would be different than hers in terms of words and photos) with what she had done with hers. I thought would be a great way to learn new techniques and get a feel for laying out a page the way she does. I had already been working on the idea of making a “homemade PL kit” (journal cards and so on) from the gorgeous free kit Storyteller, so when I came across a Kalil layout using that very kit, I knew that would be the layout to try!

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So take a look at Kimberly’s pages and you can compare to see how I did as a design-newbie copycat: http://www.kimberlykalil.com/2012/12/project-life-im-on-roll.html. These layouts are made with deepest gratitude to Kimberly Kalil for the invaluable inspiration and lessons her work has taught me.

Credits:
Scraplifted 100% from This Kalil Life
Papers and elements: Storyteller free kit from Persnickety Prints
Staple: Marisa Lerin/PixelScrapper Blog Freebie
Fonts: CK Ali, Indy Pimp, Hero, Bebas, Pacifico

Project Life Catch-up ~ Week 1

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I am usually super aversive to premade Project Life filler cards and cards with scrapbooker-type quotes on them (you know, “This is the good stuff,” and “Remember this”). Don’t really know why, it’s just not my style. But I had an extra page in the first 2-page spread at the beginning of my 2013 PL because Week 1 was such a short week for me. So I let myself go wild with this cute set of 2013 printables from Simple Stories. I altered the colors (using a color-replace trick I think I learned from one of Marisa’s tutorials over at PixelScrapper) to match the Persnickety Prints Storyteller kit I’m going to be using for my PL pages. It still doesn’t really look “like me” (my mom’s comment when I showed her the page, “Wow, that’s… a lot of bright colors.”) so maybe I’ll go back and change it at some point, but for now I’m pretty excited to actually be doing January pages in January. Of 2013. As opposed to over a year later, which is when I did January of 2011 (in February, 2012). (Let’s not talk about 2012 right now, ‘k? We’ll call that the “lost year” for now and just focus on keeping up with 2013. But I’ll be back for you, 2012, I promise!)

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I decided, inspired by this post at A Vegas Girl at Heart (one of my Project Life heroes), to make my own PL kit this year. I love Becky Higgins and adore her for bringing Project Life into my life, and I have happily scrapped with PL paper kits in the past, but none of the core kit designs have ever grabbed me as something I actively want to spend all year using. And now that I have some digital skills, I have the ability to make materials I’ll be excited about. [Sidenote: With the new kits Project Life presented at CHA earlier this month, “my” premade kit has finally arrived – helloooo Rain! Kraft is pretty great, too. Next year is going to be considerably more straightforward, I’m guessing.] [Or not, ’cause I’m kinda hooked on making my own stuff.] [But there’s also this whole finishing-graduate-school I need to get back to and stop pretending I live in magical digital-design land all the time.]

Anyways, I decided to start by trying out using a gorgeous free kit given away by Persnickety Prints – Storyteller – to do my Project Life pages, or at least some of them. I am hoping it will take me less time if I have fewer decisions to make! The first week of 2013 was a short one as far as my PL was concerned, since I got back from an annual trip on the 4th and the new year doesn’t really start for me ’til I’m home from that trip. Another Project Life trend I’ve been resistant to is the inclusion of little calendar journal cards, but I thought that including one here actually worked really well to explain visually that this page is just about two days, rather than a whole week. I was very much in exhausted post-vacation mode, so I didn’t end up with a lot of pictures from this particular weekend, but I loved finding one that echoed one of my favorite iconic Man Ray photographs! So I made a brush from the cello f-hole on the Man Ray model to make my pic match. A friend saw this and asked me if I had a tattoo she didn’t know about. 🙂

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Credits:
2013 cards, quote cards, striped JC: Sn@p Printables freebies
Polaroid frame & all papers: Storyteller free kit from Persnickety Prints
Best Is Yet To Come graphic: Love Party Printables
Jan calendar: Finding Nana
Calendar dates circled with date doodles from: Miss Tiina Date It Any Time freebie
Fonts: Indy Pimp, Hero, Stamp Act (Comic Sans for the Morse code! Finally a decent use for Comic Sans)

Project Life ~ Week 4 ~ Jan 21-27

Well, now that I have a scrappin’ blog, I have my very own spot to post my Project Life pages. Later on I’ll be writing some about how I’ve chosen to do PL this year (year 4 for me, my first was 2010) and I’ll give you a peek at the kit I designed for myself to use in my 2013 PL pages. This week, however, I wanted to play with my new creations, the papers and journal cards I made for the PixelScrapper February Blog Train. The theme was “retro kitchen,” and I didn’t have many kitchen stories to tell, but the colors went nicely with my photos for the week. I’m trying to keep things very simple so doing my pages doesn’t take too long, but these pages, as always, took me way longer than I’d like. So many decisions to make and new techniques to learn and there’s probably a ton of things I’m doing the long way ’round. Ah, well. I’m totally enjoying myself, and that’s what matters (as long as I don’t flunk out of graduate school, of course!).

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I’m linking up this week for the first time over at The Mom Creative’s Project Life Tuesday. I am, as they used to say in radio, a “long time listener, first time caller” in that I’ve ogled & been inspired by the pages linked up there for quite some time, but this is the first year my pages have been online to join the party.

Credits:
Papers & journal cards: Scrumptiously ~ Retro Kitchen
Date tags: Biograffiti Itty Bitty Dates No. 12
Date tag fonts: Indy Pimp & American Typewriter
Journal font: Hero
Fonts on photos: American Typewriter, Indy Pimp, CK Ali’s Hand, Zapf Dingbats (stars)
Scrabble tiles: Pixelberrypie; Bingo number: Leo Reynolds
Tape: Alamama’s Pressed Petals ~ That’s Old School Add-On
Date stamps: Erica Coombs ~ Office Space
Wood tape: Michelle Underwood ~ Posie Add-on
Tape: Alamama’s Pressed Petals ~ That’s Old School Add-On
Stitching: Bobita Designs ~ Naturally Add-On

Pixel Scrapper February Blog Train ~ Retro Kitchen

What a fun theme for my very first blog train! The idea proposed was “Retro Kitchen” and one of the PixelScrapper members came up with a very handsome color palette for us to use. I’ve been pinning on my inspiration board for months (what did we do before Pinterest, seriously?) and playing with all kinds of new techniques and digital materials.

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I have to admit, this stuff is hard. The designers I love seem like even more of celebrities/artistes to me now. Getting just the right shabby texture on a paper is no easy matter. I’ve tried about a million ways and ended up with something I’m satisfied enough to give away, but I know I still have more to learn before I can master making what’s on the screen look like what I’m envisioning in my head.

Speaking of celebrity designers, do you know who’s the total bomb? Marisa Lerin, owner of PixelScrapper, that’s who. She gives away tons of digital materials to play with and you can get a CU license for them for free, so I really had the freedom to explore and try out new things without plunking down any money while I still don’t know what I’m doing. Plus she has created an amazing, supportive, visually appealing community over at PixelScrapper and was, of course, the impetus for this blog train. If you’ve found your way here by some other means and aren’t familiar with PixelScrapper yet, I highly recommend checking it out.

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If you know me from my food blog, In My Box, you know I’m a wordy girl, so I am going to try to keep this relatively brief and get to the goodies! I went back and forth with the “retro kitchen” concept and ended up going with what I think of as more “vintage” (1930s/40s) than “retro” (1950s/60s). Vintage kitchen was so fun to play with and explore, and I ended up making a ton of stuff to share in this blog train. Two paper packs and four different sets of journal cards! I know from the PixelScrapper forums that there are plenty of other journal card addicts like me out there – including scrappers who aren’t even doing Project Life! That’s my main form of scrapping, so I am always on the lookout for good journal cards.

I made these to be just the way I prefer my JCs – clean lines, lots and lots of room for journaling (I did mention I’m a wordy girl, right?). So many products labeled “journaling cards” are really more like filler cards, they have so much ornamentation you could barely cram a sentence onto them. But speaking of filler cards, if that’s your cup of tea, I made you a set of those as well! And since some of you may not be quite as journal-card-obsessed as I am, I’ve put them in separate downloads so if you want just one or two sets, you don’t have to end up with all 32 cards. So, without further ado, here come the treats! (And these are all A-okay for commercial use, so feel free to go forth and make stuff with ’em.)

First up, a pack of papers, ginghams and polka dots. I’m such a nerd – I studied my retro kitchen pins to suss out color combinations from that era – turquoise & cream, pink & puce (that reddish color), and so on. The plaids below also employ color pairings from my list of common retro kitchen color combos. (Yes, there is a list, & yes, I am a total nerd.) (Click preview to download.)

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Next is a coordinating pack of papers with solids and some fun fabrics, several plaids and a couple of cute vintage floral designs. (Click preview to download.)

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Between the paper packs and these fabric-patterned journal cards, we’re getting quite a Project Life kit going here! (Click preview to download.)

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Of course, what would a P365 kit be without cute filler cards? These would be perfect for scrapping some silly breakfast-time or baking stories. Many of these images came from the incomparable free vintage graphics site The Graphics Fairy (I think a lot of us pulled heavily from her for our retro kitchen imagery!)(Click preview to download.)

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Sometimes I get annoyed when there are sayings or word art on my journal cards, but other times a well-played word/image combo can really hit the spot. I hope I’ve done a little of that here with these vintage stamped journal cards. (More props to The Graphics Fairy for these – how adorable is that egg beater?) (Click preview to download.)

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And for those of you who prefer to keep things simple, some lovely kraft journal cards with a subdued vintage floral pattern. (Click preview to download.)

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And that’s all of it! (Well no, actually, I have tons more languishing on my hard drive, but I tried to pare down the fruits of my enthusiasm to a reasonable offering.) If you use any of these for any purpose, I would be thrilled to get an email or a comment with a link to where I can check out your work. Thanks!

You can find the rest of the blog train here, back at the PixelScrappers forums.

Check out the goods in action! Here are my Project Life pages from last week. Close-ups can be found at this post.
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