AE : 365 : Project Life


For the last few weeks I have been quietly playing along and figuring out a strategy for myself related to doing one of these year long projects where you document life by taking a photo a day. 

Some of you might remember back in January 2008 when I started off on a 365 Self Portrait project. I made it into the second month and then decided to move on to other things. I ended up using those photos for this digital layout that appeared in Creating Keepsakes last year: 

The photo calendar layered template I used for that page are available for
2009 and for 2010 (each package includes all the months with the dates included).

Fast forward to this year.

I decided to tackle this project again. This time I am not doing strictly photos of myself, instead I'm focusing on our daily lives as a family. I'm looking at this project as a chance to tell small stories (the small stories that are essentially the big ones when you see them all together). I want to capture little details, conversations, memories. It feels like a perfect compliment to my focus on story for the year.

Photos & words & the stuff of life is what I am looking to collect and place inside this album.

I am not stressing about taking a photo everyday. If I don't do it, no big deal. From looking back at
years past I almost take a photo a day already. I am cool with, and
looking forward to, adding in other pieces of life: notes, lists, mail,
email, etc. Some weeks will be all photos and other weeks will be a
mixture of the two.

The base for my album is Project Life by Becky Higgins (which is now available through It's a big 12x12 album with divided page protects and other coordinated supplies. Most of you know I am a big fan of divided page protectors. I like how Becky's product is organized and I like that it is totally open to my own interpretation.

Here's a look at what I have been doing so far:

1. Uploading my photos (if I have taken one for the day) to my Flickr page. In the description for each photo I am adding some words. I am then taking those little notes/stories and transferring them into my album (see image example below). This daily activity, or every few days, is simple for me because I am on the already on the computer just about everyday (and I am in the habit of uploading photos every couple of days).

2. Printing my photos weekly. We have a brand new Walgreens down the street and I sent 13 prints as a test last Friday. They came back looking just fine and I think that will work well for these 4x6 photos. I am sure I will end up printing some of them here at home, but I like knowing that they did a respectable job (from feedback I got on Twitter it sounds like their service really varies from location to location). 


3. Taking those words I am writing on Flickr and copying & pasting them into a file I created in Illustrator. This super simple file includes the date, a dotted line, and then a space for me to input my text. These are being printed onto white cardstock and slipped into the pockets.


4. Taking advantage of the page protectors. The photo above shows how I placed Maya Road's acrylic people inside the four middle pockets of the intro page and then stitched the top edge closed to secure them in each pocket. I am hoping to play around a bit more over the course of the year with the page protectors - I've long been a fan of creating spaces that allow you to see through to the next page.


5. Using the cards that come with the kit and not using the cards that come with the kit. I like some of the designs that came with the kit better than others and will definitely be using them along the way. I have run some of them through my typewriter and some I have written little notes by hand. I am keeping one of the packs of cards out on my desk to use for notes, conversations, etc. I also really like that I can simply turn them over and use the white side as a base for stamping and journaling.


6. Adding 8.5x11 page protectors. One of the things that I loved in a previous version of Week In The Life was adding in one of these page 8.5x11 protectors between the 12x12's. I'm not planning on having one in there every week, but when there is something special it's a nice way to include it in the album (and give it a home). I also have a vision of adding in 8.5x11 photo enlargements if there are ones that are really, really special.

7. Envisioning adding in lots of those little bits of scrapbook stuff I have sitting in a basket on my work table.

Here's a look at the title page and the last three weeks all together:


I used my "the year of story" piece that I scanned in for making my blog header as one of the cards for the first page in the album. As you read about above, the Maya Road's acrylic people were each placed inside one of the middle row of pockets and the entire row was stitched closed. The 365/2010 edwards' card was created using my Outline Days, Months, Years, and Numbers Value Pack from Designer Digitals.


I'm including things such as pages from magazines and tags from clothing. I'm using the 4x6 weekly cards that came with the kit (and placing them in the top left corner) and the great little date stamp to label the week.


The little white cards with the journaling are what I showed above (created in Illustrator/copied and pasted from what I wrote in Flickr). I love having a place to keep some of those random bits of life.

The "love" card is from a Paper Source catalog. Other things you see here include folded up receipts, ticket stubs, email print outs, etc.


I'm in the middle of working on last week (week three) but here's a look at it in progress. A grocery list, one journaling card, two photos, and the backs of the other spaces along the middle.

I think the thing that I am really appreciating about this project right now is that it feels laid back. It feels possible and fun.

I am not trying to document every little thing. I am trying to capture the essence of the ways in which we live our lives from day to day. Our normal

If you aren't already playing along with this project it's never to
late to begin. There's no rule that says you need to begin in January. 

In reading Becky's blog lately I found her post about her evolving views on scrapbooking and memory keeping to be a really interesting read. I think this system can definitely work for some people as the way they document and celebrate their lives. For me, I am going to continue doing a mish-mish of things and play along with this project and see if I can't get a few more stories told over the course of the year. 

In addition to checking out Project Life as your foundation you might want to check out Memory Works new Simple Stories system. Simple Stories also uses divided page protectors as their base (they use We Are Memory Keepers 12x12 leather albums and their awesome divided page protectors that come with a variety of different pocket sizes on a 12x12) and offer a full range of accents and designs in their Life Documented kit. The visual style of this kit is very different from the look of Becky's - it's a much more weathered/distressed. I think a lot of your decision will depend on your personal style and what you hope to accomplish with the project.

I know many of you out there are already on your way with your own 365 project. How's it going? If you did it last year did you learn anything that could help someone who is just starting out?

Want to hear me talk a bit about how I've been inspired by the concept of story? Check out last week's Paperclipping Roundtable.

135 thoughts

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  1. Nerdgrl

    2010-01-26 03:36:56 -0500

    I love reading about what you're doing with Project Life/365. Lots of ideas contained just in the pics of the first three weeks.

  2. Jeni

    2010-01-26 06:08:40 -0500

    Hi Ali - I enjoyed listening to you on the paperclipping roundtable. Love the 365 album. I am inspired.

  3. Mary K

    2010-01-26 07:13:30 -0500

    Hi Ali- I completed the Project 365 from last year and I like how it turned out. This year I will be using the MemoryWorks Simple Stories kit- as a design Team member I've really enjoyed working with it. I like that I can complete however I want. Thanks for the great ideas! Please keep them coming!

  4. Rakel Shideler

    2010-01-26 07:25:11 -0500

    Wow! What a great idea! This is my first time hearing about Project Life and I'm sold!! I went straight to amazon and ordered the kit.. can't wait to get it in the mail! My hubby is in the US Air Force and we're stationed overseas, I think this kit will really help me capture those every day special moments in a different country, that I would otherwise forget about! I think my 8 yr old daughter will thank me for this one day! And with a 2nd one on the way, I think it's a great way to document my pregnancy! Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  5. Intentionally Katie

    2010-01-26 09:00:30 -0500

    Oh, the irony. I use YOUR HANDWRITING to print the dates on my Project Life pictures, yet you type your journalling cards. Hilarious! I love the idea of using the date stamp on the weekly cards. Wish I'd have thought of that b/c my scribbles look awful.

  6. Deb

    2010-01-26 11:42:58 -0500

    Thanks for sharing your project! It looks great as always. I like how you did not use all the products from the kit in your album that you made it your own with other items from your stash.

  7. Jennifer Westmoreland

    2010-01-26 15:16:07 -0500

    Ali, you are simply amazing... don't know how you do it!

  8. Michelle Cortez

    2010-01-26 15:24:36 -0500

    It looks like you are using both sides of the pages in the kit, one side per week. I counted the pages and there are 55, more than enough for one page per week. Do you have plans for the pages you will have leftover? I was going to just do the front side of each page as one week, looking at yours though I am reconsidering. Would you mind telling me why you chose to use the front for one week and the back for another? I am just getting ready to start assembling my book and am on the fence about which way to go. :) LOL
    Thanks so much!!

  9. Ali Edwards

    2010-01-26 15:28:44 -0500

    Hi Michelle - I am doing one spread for each week (the photos just show half a week - there is a top and a bottom photo for each week in the post above). It's just like a 2-page spread in my regular albums - and there are 8, 4x6 pockets. One 4x6 for the weekly card that includes the dates and seven other pockets for each day of the week.
    The first page is an intro page. The back of the intro page is the first page of week one.

  10. Johanna Hörrmann

    2010-01-26 21:52:08 -0500

    If Illustrator works fine for you, you could just write your journaling there and then copy and paste it to photoshop. That should work ok, I think! I haven't upgraded yet myself, but I noticed the difference when using the 30-day-trial of CS4 to check out new features.

  11. vee

    2010-01-27 04:11:42 -0500

    totally amazing ali,love it!! xo

  12. Michelle

    2010-01-27 05:20:22 -0500

    Thank you so much!! I am starting to put my first 3 weeks together now and your note has really helped clear things up in my mind!! Have a great day!

  13. Alison

    2010-01-27 05:52:27 -0500

    My first baby is due next week and your book has inspired me to do a "365 days of you" album. Totally excited about it now that I have a sample style to work off of. I was wondering if you would consider sharing your Illustrator file with us?

  14. Annette

    2010-01-27 12:32:28 -0500

    Ali, thanks for sharing this new project. I too like the idea of not taking so many self-portraits, but those of life and those I hold dear in my life. BTW, my word this year is courage, which I see lived out in the lives of those Haitians who struggle so much. Thanks for your collab designs to help them. I send them my prayers.

  15. Margrethe

    2010-01-29 00:36:22 -0500

    I didn't manage to complete more than 3 photos of P365, but just started up again with self-portraits. Love that Becky Higgins project, too bad Amazon can't ship to my address :(

  16. Tara Kelly

    2010-01-29 09:01:19 -0500

    Do you have a copy of the illustrator file you made for the journaling??

  17. On the Eastern Journey

    2010-01-30 01:34:12 -0500

    We just adopted a baby girl on Sunday and a friend suggested I do the 365 to remember our first year together. So far, I'm in.
    Like you, I failed at the 365 portraits of myself.
    As for Walgreens, the prints are probably fine because the store just opened so the chemicals in their printer are fresh. Depending on how often they change their chemicals will depend on the quality of the print.

  18. Ashleigh

    2010-01-30 13:35:52 -0500

    Thanks for sharing your process with us. I am going to start my own Project 365 either in February or March. I decided to skip the January thing because each year I start off well in Jan but as all other resolutions of mine go, I'm done in March.
    I like the idea of writing a few sentences about each photo. I'll probably add them to my blog. I'm still in idea generating stage but I'm definitely keeping an eye on your blog as well as Becky Higgins's blog for inspiration.

  19. Ioan Panduru

    2010-01-31 05:39:54 -0500

    dont fight people.just be nice like my nice ass

  20. lisa

    2010-01-31 10:31:41 -0500

    After uploading your photos to Flickr, how do you then send them to Walgreens (or where ever you chose to print them) for printing? Do you also save the photos in a separate folder on your computer for this purpose? I love the idea of uploading to flickr for recording the journaling which can then be copied once your prints arrive.

  21. Julie

    2010-01-31 14:20:56 -0500

    I've been loving my Project Life kit this year. I am trying to go for a weekly approach vs. a photo every single day. Our album also holds lots of scraps of real life - movie ticket stubs, tags, etc. I do want to have the kids and my husband do some of the journaling along the way, so it is OUR story, and not just my version.
    An idea for those with wondering how to fill pages may be to include some of the journaling blocks with stories you'd like to share. Top 5 lists, quick memories, etc. The stories will be every bit a treasure to those in your lives as the photos.
    I really LOVE this project and hope to keep it going. I think setting up the format from the beginning is really helpful too.

  22. Leslie

    2010-02-06 04:02:29 -0500

    I just got my kit. I have never been so excited about doing something (other than the "My Week in the Life" I did last year and my "Words of Me Project" I'm in the middle of right now.
    Thanks so much, Ali for your inspiration on ways to use this kit. My Book began yesterday (Feb. 5th) and will run for a year. Love so many of the comments here, too. This is great. Looking forward to creating the best year and recording it!!!

  23. Claire

    2010-02-19 08:09:31 -0500

    What a beautiful album!

  24. Sally

    2010-07-21 06:29:09 -0400

    I actually started a Project 365 on Facebook in January, but have just recently gotten my act together, and ORDERED Project Life. Since I have been captioning all of my pics along the way on FB, it will be easy to add journaling when I get my Project Life kit. Seems like this is working for me similar to your Flickr account, Ali. Also shows me all my pics & the order in which to print them if I'm going chronologically. Nice.

  25. CanadianKristin

    2010-08-28 12:11:02 -0400

    It's August and I just started my Project Life for 2010... I have found it easier to sit at the computer and go back and choose photos since I'm a bit removed. Journalling: I am journalling from memory, taking blog or Facebook posts I wrote at the time, calendar notations, or how I feel now as I reflect back on when the photo was taken. I am finding that it is less stressful because I'm not 'in the moment' and I am 'so far behind' on the project that every page I do is bonus!
    Be encouraged, fellow scrapbookers, it's not too late to start this excellent project!!!
    Thanks, Ali, for the inspiration!

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