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AE Approach | Project Life 2011

My Project Life kit arrived on my doorstep last week.

As I was opening up the box I was thinking about how I want to approach my album this year. I peeked in at the Project Life Community at Big Picture (it's free) to see what people were chatting about and was inspired by all the different ways people have approached this album.

I love how people are liberating themselves from thinking this has to be a 365 project (which it totally doesn't and it totally can be) and making it work for them.

What I've decided is that I'd love for this album to be a family effort. I loved how someone recently mentioned that they kept their album in their kitchen/dining room and printed photos as they went along. I'm thinking that this might be just what I want to do. I want to encourage Simon and Anna and Chris to be participants in the documenting of our lives - even little things will go a long way in making it "our" project.

In this house I actually have some extra counter space in our kitchen that might be the perfect home for this project. I purchased a new little 4x6 printer that could have a home on the counter and will simplify the process even more. Hook up camera, pick a photo, print. Grab a card, write a few words. This means less time spent messing with the photos in Photoshop. Once I get everything set up there I'll share some photos and more details.

Having the album out in the open, in my experience, is really one of the keys to making it happen (even if it's only to stuff random things in the pockets like I did most of last year).

Here's some things I'm thinking about and ways to include my family in the process:


  • I'd love to include cards of gratitude from each of us at least one week a month. This might be a nice Sunday activity for us.

  • Maybe a family photo per month a la Tara Whitney's family photo project which I just love, love, love.

  • I'm keeping it simpler this year and plan to just hand-write or use my typewriter on all the journal cards. No reason for me not too and I love that I can hand one over to Simon or Chris and ask them to jot down a couple things.

  • I'm not married to making this a 365 project. I anticipate (from my past experience) that some weeks I'll take a photo a day and other weeks I won't. My album will be a combination of photos and what I like to call the stuff of life (papers, drawings, receipts, etc). What I love most about my 2010 album is how I really did collect things throughout the year even when I had zero focus on daily photo-taking and journaling.


A family journal, compiled by our family. It makes my heart beat just a bit faster thinking about it.

I'll let you know how it goes.

And for those of you wondering, my 2010 album is still in process.

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111 thoughts

  1. Kathy(kathyb) says…
    01/01/2011

    Ali, I'd be interested in hearing your views on the Canon Selphy, especially what you think of the quality of the prints. I have an original Epson Picturemate at present and love the quality of the prints, but I know it won't go on forever.

    Reply 6 Replies
    1. Pat Rex says…
      01/01/2011

      Have a selphy and L O V E it! You can do 4x6, 2pics on 4x6, 4pics on 4x6 etc. This printer is perfect for Project Life.

    2. Suz says…
      01/01/2011

      I have a Selphy also and I purchased it for the very purpose of Project Life, I loved it so much I bought one for my niece's Sweet 16 birthday.

    3. Veronica M. says…
      01/01/2011

      I too have a Selphy and I love it. I also purchased it for my Project Life in 2009. It has also come in handy for Dec. Daily photos. I love the printing quality as well.

    4. TracieClaiborne says…
      01/01/2011

      I bought a Selphy and hated it! Maybe mine was a dud. My Epson is 150% better quality.

    5. Kendra says…
      01/01/2011

      I have a Canon Slphy too. I agree it was perfect for Project Life. I used it once weekly to update both Project Life and my December Daily (which I am finishing today.....).

    6. Linda Trace says…
      01/02/2011

      I bought one about a year ago for the specific purpose of using it at a friends wedding to compile a guest album on the spot but it didn't work out. Any hints as to where to get the photo papers/inks for a good price? Has to be online as I'm in Australia.

      I must add though< I'm SO disappointed with the price of the PL kit in Australia. it's nearly double. I might have it shipped to a friend in the USA and have her send it to me. Can anyone give me the dimensions of the box and the weight? (Approximate is fine :)

      thanks!!

  2. Beke says…
    01/01/2011

    I really love the idea of this album. I havent done one yet, but i think its a great thing to do, esp as you said getting the whole family to participate (when ever you can). Hope you andthe family have a great new year!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Kathy says…
    01/01/2011

    Ali, Thanks for sharing....I agree less "construction time" ie away from the computer will make it more accessible and less time consuming. Great idea about the printer.

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. dawn says…
    01/01/2011

    Happy New Year Ali! Thank you for sharing your ideas on pl2011. I think this is great to make it a family sharing album. That's what I do with mine too, the kids love knowing they took the potd and wrote about it. Love the idea of gratitude cards and family photo each month too. What I did for every Friday was to include my grocery list and my receipt from grocery shopping. I like that my kids can go back and see this and shows how much we spent on food during the different seasons and holiday times. Thanks again and enjoy your first day of 2011.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. dawn says…
    01/01/2011

    I forgot to mention that your first page in it looks wonderful and love the extras you included, especially the hooray for everyday!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Debbie says…
    01/01/2011

    I have done this project for the past years...and actually finished all 3...this year I signed up for the digital version...to force me out of my comfort zone and to complete one of my OLW goals to CREATE a 100% digital album.
    I was also thinking that this is how I could use the hours spent after school that I waste waiting for the basketball games, etc to start.

    I already miss my ephemera...sniff sniff.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Debbie says…
      02/15/2011

      Update...I exchanged the digital version for the paper version. The people at Project Life were super wonderful about working with me on that process. I am so grateful for great customer service...way to go Becky Higgins company.

  7. Brooke says…
    01/01/2011

    Oh Ali ;-)
    I really love the idea of this album.Thank you for the great idea.

    LG Brooke

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. TaraMcK says…
    01/01/2011

    I ♥ how you are calling it a family journal, I really do. What a fantastic approach to it.

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Cherie says…
    01/01/2011

    I like the idea of including my family in the process more. They are the subject of most of my photos, but I've done all the journaling.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Kimberly says…
      01/01/2011

      Just peeping in on this convo...what is OLW?

    2. jennifer says…
      01/02/2011

      One Little Word:)

  10. Kristie H says…
    01/01/2011

    Love it! This will be my first time with PL and I am trying to figure out how it will work. Question--when you save reciepts and papers do you do anything special to them to keep them from fading? (especially the reciepts) or do you just stick 'em in?

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Terri Porter says…
    01/01/2011

    I did my first Project 365 last year and was faithful to it until the middle of August. My future daughter-in-law and I were each doing one. When I slacked off in August, I picked it up again with her encouragement, but that only lasted a few weeks and then other things got in the way. I am so mad at myself for doing so well for so long and then slacking off so close to completing it. I would love to hear how other people are handling it when that happens. I have my 2011 Project Life ordered and am determined to finish it this year.

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Suz says…
      01/01/2011

      Terri,
      I just do what I can get done and then move on and let it go. Life is busy. We need to just be forgiving to ourselves. We shouldn't feel guilty for not documenting the memories when we are busy out making them! I'm going with the attitude, that whatever is done is good enough and better than if I didn't do anything at all. And oftentimes, I find I'm the most uninspired or unproductive when I feel like I HAVE to get something done. Just my musing out loud.

    2. Debbie says…
      01/01/2011

      I ran into trouble when our house was flooded (plumbing not nature) and we were completely displaced for 2 months...so I just picked up as soon as I could and have been going back and adding things to the "gap"...stuff from the insurance and repairs...journaling about the whole mess...and adding stuff from the internet about what was going on in the world at the time...I was also able to copy some pictures from friends and family.
      Hey this is what this is all about...LIFE

  12. Sharon in OR &amp; CA says…
    01/01/2011

    In 2010 we lost a brother, a father and our beloved family dog. One might think it would be hard to find gratitude. But it's the opposite. I am grateful for the family gathering where everyone actually could come and we took lots of photos and did lots of laughing. I am grateful to have enjoyed wholeheartedly the family trips we took. And that both our businesses not only survived but grew in a challenging economy. I am most grateful for the family and friends who supported us through the difficult times and celebrated in the good. And for each other.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Christina says…
      01/04/2011

      I am sorry for your loss Sharon. My father is terminally ill and I had to put my mother in nursing home a couple of weeks ago due to dementia. I am behind in my 2010 album. I was doing really good until September when my world fell apart. I am trying to put back the peices one at a time. My goal for this year is to "simplify" my life. I am doing Ali's Onel little word class which I highly recommend.

      Good luck.

  13. Libbi M. says…
    01/01/2011

    thank you for sharing. beautiful page. would you please share the paper you used that the #4 is attached to? thank you and happy new year to you and your family.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Joanne says…
      01/01/2011

      Libbi - Its from October Afternoon, their Thrift Shop Collection. http://www.octoberafternoon.com/show_product.php?prod=505&type=00

  14. Mauxane says…
    01/01/2011

    Wonderful layout!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Michelle says…
    01/01/2011

    My oldest son received his first camera for Christmas, so I too plan on letting him take part in PL. I think years from now seeing things through his camera lense and words will be a wonderful documentation of our everyday life. My youngest son will start Kindergarten in the fall and I look forward to having him journal as he learns more letters and words to write! This is my first year doing PL, but I am sooo excited to be taking part and can't wait to start seeing how others layout their album!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Katie says…
    01/01/2011

    I love the idea of getting the family more involved. That is just how I've been feeling lately.

    Wishing you and your cute family a Happy New Year!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Bec Kilgore says…
    01/01/2011

    Lots of great ideas at the Project Life group at BPC. Many of the pictures I will include this year will be from friends and family's cell phones. We are all pretty good at sending pictures of what we are doing on a regular basis. Thought that would be a fun way to document life.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. stephanie says…
    01/01/2011

    I love the idea of including gratitudes every so often. My daughters and I are starting gratitude journals as part of our schooling (we homeschool) and I am going to make a note to steal periodically from our journals and add that in the album.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Karen says…
    01/01/2011

    Ali, will the fuji instax mini pictures fit in the pockets of the page protector? I got one of those cameras for christmas :)

    Reply 2 Replies
    1. Karen says…
      01/04/2011

      THANK YOU ALI! Good to know, I ordered the kit. Can't wait for it to come. I was kind of wondering how I was going to store all those instax photos. This will be great!

    2. Ali says…
      01/03/2011

      They definitely fit - not perfectly the same size - but you can slide them right in.

  20. Amy says…
    01/01/2011

    LOL my 2009 album is still in process. HA!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Debbie P says…
    01/01/2011

    I tried to get my husband to help out with the 2010 album which was a challenge but after he saw the end result he jumped in more. Looking forward to 2011!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Joanne says…
    01/01/2011

    Thank you for posting this Ali - I was the one that asked you via twitter :) Love your first page, makes me want to personalise mine some more. Looking forward to (hopefully) seeing your 2010 PL and how your 2011 one evolves.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. MichelleGB says…
    01/01/2011

    I love your idea for this project! Now I might have to go order me one...or make something of my own inspired by this post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. paula s says…
    01/01/2011

    that's a great little kit you got there and by vieweing just the one page, looks like you have a great book!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Amy Kropp says…
    01/01/2011

    Hi, Ali! I'm doing Project Life for the first time this year, and I'm using it to help me stay motivated for Project 365. Last year, I posted my photos on Flickr (and I belonged to a great 365 group), but I only kept up for 2 months. I think printing out my photos and keeping them in a meaningful way will make the project more fun. So far, I love the simplicity of the album!

    Reply 0 Replies

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