Category: Project Life

my first December Daily scrapbook: the title page

December Daily title page

In my head, I’m a scrapbooker. In reality? Not so much.

I’ve taken tons of photos, bought a few Project Life kits, and jotted down some quotes from my kids that I want to remember. But when I try to pull it all together into a scrapbook, I feel totally stuck and can’t seem to create what I’ve imagined. In the past two years, all I’ve made are two decent title pages (2013 and 2014) and half a dozen layouts that are just OK.

So I have decided to jumpstart my scrapbooking aspirations with a smaller, more focused project. December Daily is a memory keeping project developed by Ali Edwards, and this year I’m going to join in the fun.

December Daily title page

Throughout the month of December, I’m going to capture some of the images and stories of the Christmas season and compile it all in a small album. December is such a special time of year with unique decorations, food, celebrations, music, activities, traditions, and togetherness, and I want to record some of those memories.

The album I’m using is the 6×8″ faux leather album by Simple Stories, and I’m using photo pocket pages by Becky Higgins (Project Life) and Simple Stories. I’m not using Ali Edwards’ December Daily kit, but I have gathered some supplies that fit my clean and simple aesthetic, and will design the rest myself. I’ve also gathered lots of inspiration on my December Daily board on Pinterest.

December Daily title page

I cut out the word “december,” the numbers, and the white frame with my Silhouette Cameo. The cursive font is Wendy LP, and the numbers are Open Sans Condensed. The background paper with white snowflakes is actually wrapping paper that I recently found at HomeGoods, and I added a few little white snowflake punches. I love white on kraft, and especially like the hand drawn look of the snowflakes.

December Daily title page

I’ve learned that a lot of people prepare their pages in advance by putting in papers and embellishments ahead of time, and then add the stories and photos throughout the month. As an inexperienced scrapbooker, I find it impossible to anticipate how I will want each page to be laid out, so I’m just going to create the scrapbook as I go.

If creating a scrapbook during the month of December sounds crazy to you, let me assure you — it sounds crazy to me too! If I don’t finish it before January, that won’t bother me at all. (I’ve seen some people online recently talking about needing to finish up last year’s December album before this December begins!) I’m going to try not to feel pressure to change what we do just to make our life look good for a scrapbook. However… if this project helps to make the Christmas season more meaningful, and encourages me to live with more intention, more joy, and more gratitude, that will be a wonderful added bonus.

Note: Links may be affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I will make a tiny commission if you make a purchase.

wise words by Maya Angelou

success is... - by Maya Angelou

I learned of Maya Angelou’s passing on Facebook yesterday morning when my friends began posting some of her wise, memorable words. One of my favorite quotes of hers is one I just discovered during the past year, and I’ve been wanting to frame these words to hang in our home.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This morning I scrolled through my quotes board on Pinterest and found some more of Maya Angelou’s wise words that I’ve collected over time.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

printable quote cards: wise words by Maya Angelou

I’ve made these three quotes by Maya Angelou available as printable 3×4″ cards that you can add to a Project Life album or hang on your refrigerator. The PDF with all three cards can be downloaded here.

choosing a fresh start

Comparison is the thief of joy.

I never intended to take a three-month break from blogging, but somehow that’s what happened. There’s no particular reason that I haven’t been posting. Life has been full and rich and wonderful, just as it was before the blog silence, and I’m doing fine. There’s also no special reason that I’m starting to blog again today, except that I finally really want to.

I have a Pinterest board where I collect quotes that inspire me, and several of them have been on my mind a lot as I considered my return to blogging and what I want this online space to become. I’m so quick to doubt my skills and value as a creative blogger. It’s easy for me to compare myself to other bloggers and develop a lengthy list of ways my blog and I don’t measure up. I can think of lots of reasons you should read other blogs instead of mine.

Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.

But none of that really matters, does it? Because I enjoy blogging! This is one of my hobbies, and rachelswartley.com is something I enjoy creating. I love spending time on a hobby that challenges me and gives me opportunities to stretch myself, develop new skills, and interact with others who share some of the same interests. In addition to all of the projects and activities I share on my blog, the act of blogging itself — the writing, photography, design, promotion — is one of my hobbies, and I’ve missed it.

quote card: you may have a fresh start

So today I’m choosing a fresh start. On the screen, it may look like a mere continuation of more than 7 years of blog posts, but for me, it’s a turning point. I’m intrigued by this quote from Mary Pickford, an actress who wrote these words in 1936. “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

If you need a visual reminder to stop doubting, stop comparing, get back up, and choose a fresh start, I’ve made these little quote cards available as a free printable. The cards are 3×4 inches, so they will fit nicely into a Project Life pocket page, but you could also hang them on your fridge or bulletin board.

free printable Project Life quote cards

Download the printable PDF with all three quote cards.

(NOTE: The crop marks at the corners indicate the cutting lines. The rectangular outlines are part of the design. Cutting along the solid lines will result in cards that are smaller than 3×4″.)

my Project Life title page for 2014

Project Life title page by Rachel Swartley

While Ethan took a two-hour nap on Saturday afternoon, I created the title page for my 2014 Project Life album… and I love how it turned out! The color scheme and design is similar to my Project Life title page for 2013, and yet every element of the design is new and different.

For the Hello card, I used a card from the Midnight Core Kit as the background. I covered up the little camera in the middle of the card with a flag I made. The font is Wendy LP, which is the same script font I use on my blog.

Project Life hello card

The blue and white polka dot paper I used for the background on this card is actually tissue paper I picked up at Target last year. It’s from their Spritz brand of party supplies. The font is Open Sans Condensed — the main font you see throughout my blog.

Project Life: this is our story

I bought a Silhouette Cameo with some gift money last year, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t sat down and learned to use it yet. That’s one of my goals for 2014, but meanwhile I just used my hands-on method to trace and then cut these numbers with an X-Acto knife. The textured silver cardstock is by Bazzill Basics — and it’s actually left over from our wedding!

number cutout for Project Life album

I love these little arrows I made with washi tape. It was so simple! Just fold the end of a piece of washi tape in half gently and cut on the diagonal to get a symmetrical point.

washi tape arrows

Project Life is the original pocket-based scrapbooking system, and I started using it a year ago to document some of our memories. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually do much with it last year for a variety of reasons, but I’m still planning to go back and create an album for 2013. One of my goals for 2014 is to create a Project Life album, and I’m happy to say that I’ve already made progress beyond the title page.

If you don’t feel very crafty/creative, or simply don’t have the time, you can definitely do Project Life without making anything yourself! There are kits you can buy with cards that just slip into the pockets. For the rest of my album, I’m planning to use lots of pre-made cards from a couple core kits and mini kits I have, but I wanted the title page to be completely my own design. And for me, the time I spent on it was absolutely worth it.

saving and organizing your Christmas card photos

Christmas card photos in Project Life album

What are you planning to do with all of the Christmas card photos you received throughout the month of December? Will you stuff them in a box of photos? Save them in some organized way? Or have you already thrown them away?!

I used to just save them haphazardly in photo boxes, but last year after the holidays were over, I punched two holes in each photo from that year and held them together with book rings. They were pretty easy to flip through, but the dimensions and orientation of the photos weren’t uniform. It worked, but I didn’t love it.

Then in November, I watched a 3-day online workshop by Becky Higgins on Scrapbooking with Project Life. (The class was free to stream live, but it would be expensive to access it now.) Becky suggested trimming your Christmas card photos and slipping them into Project Life photo pocket pages. Of course! So smart!

Christmas card photos in Project Life album

On New Year’s Day, I spent some time gathering and organizing the Christmas card photos we’ve kept since 2009, the year Tim and I met. I don’t know what went wrong in 2011, because I could only find three photo cards from that year, but otherwise, our collection was pretty much intact — in several different boxes of photos.

Christmas card photos in Project Life album

I trimmed most of the photos to either 3×4″ or 4×6″, but a few were smaller, so I just attached them to cardstock with washi tape. Then I slipped them in the pockets. At the beginning of each year’s photos, I added a simple card that I designed and printed with the year on it. I didn’t worry about starting a new year on a new page. That graphic card with high contrast will make it obvious where a new year begins.

Christmas card photos in Project Life album

I’m not ready to tuck the most recent photos into an album yet, but I’m prepped for the day when it’s time to put the 2013 cards away.

Christmas card photos in Project Life album

Becky Higgins wrote a great blog post on New Years Day about saving and organizing your cards in this way, so I’d recommend checking it out if you’re considering doing this.

I’m planning to dedicate one album to Christmas card photos so that we can pull it out each year in December and look at how much our friends — especially the kids! — have changed from year to year.

Also, I’m considering making the year cards available as a printable. If you’re interested, let me know in the comments.

Project Life 2013: the title page

Project Life title page by Rachel Swartley

Life is full of moments I want to remember.

So I take pictures of some of those moments, I eventually download them to my computer, and then I ignore them. Unless I post my pictures on Facebook or Instagram, my friends and family can’t enjoy them, and unless I print them, my kids can’t see them. I’m not a scrapbooker, and filling a traditional photo album with a bunch of prints seems boring and old-fashioned, so most of my pictures are stuck in my computer.

When I was a kid, I enjoyed looking through our box of photos that my parents and grandparents had taken, but since all of my photography is digital, my family doesn’t have easy access to the pictures I take. Last year it started to bother me that my husband and kids couldn’t see most of the photos I took of our family activities, so I framed a few more photos, I printed a Blurb book full of pictures from our week of vacation in Chincoteague, and I discovered Project Life.

Project Life is described as a “back-to-basics approach to memory-keeping” that “takes the scrapbooking out of scrapbooking.” The album is a 12×12-inch binder that uses plastic sleeves (similar to baseball card collections), and to me it feels like a hybrid between a regular photo album and a traditional scrapbook. The photo at the top of this post is my Project Life title page for 2013.

I bought an album and plastic sleeves, but opted not to buy the core kit, even though it’s considered to be an essential component. I want my album to reflect my own personal aesthetic, so I’m planning to create and design everything myself. There are various styles of page protectors that have different layouts, but I’m just using Design A. The large pockets are 4×6″ and the small ones are 3×4″.

A lot of people who do Project Life create a two-page spread for each week, but I want to fill up my album at whatever pace seems right to me. At this point, I’m planning to divide my album into monthly sections, and some months will probably have more pages than others. My album, my rules.

Here are a few close-up shots of my title page:

Project Life: hello twenty-thirteen - with stitching

These little flags are made of washi tape.

Project Life: washi tape flags

I love the textured papers — it gives the simple design a bit more depth.

Project Life: 2013 title page - textured papers

So that’s the beginning of a project that I’m looking forward to working on throughout the year.

Are you familiar with Project Life? Is this the first time you’ve heard of it, or are you already an avid Project Lifer? If you have experience with Project Life and have any advice to share, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!