Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

January 1, 2011

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 4×6 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.


  • 1.
    Kathy(kathyb) said…

    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.

    • ….
      Pat Rex said…

      Have a selphy and L O V E it! You can do 4×6, 2pics on 4×6, 4pics on 4×6 etc. This printer is perfect for Project Life.

    • ….
      Suz said…

      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.

    • ….
      Veronica M. said…

      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.

    • ….
      TracieClaiborne said…

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

    • ….
      Kendra said…

      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…..).

    • ….
      Linda Trace said…

      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 :)


  • 2.
    Beke said…

    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!

  • 3.
    Kathy said…

    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.

  • 4.
    dawn said…

    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.

  • 5.
    dawn said…

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

  • 6.
    Debbie said…

    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.

    • ….
      Debbie said…

      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 said…

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

    LG Brooke

  • 8.
    TaraMcK said…

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

  • 9.
    Cherie said…

    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.

    • ….
      Kimberly said…

      Just peeping in on this convo…what is OLW?

    • ….
      jennifer said…

      One Little Word:)

  • 10.
    Kristie H said…

    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?

  • 11.
    Terri Porter said…

    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.

    • ….
      Suz said…

      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.

    • ….
      Debbie said…

      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 & CA said…

    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.

    • ….
      Christina said…

      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. said…

    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.

  • 14.
    Mauxane said…

    Wonderful layout!!

  • 15.
    Michelle said…

    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!

  • 16.
    Katie said…

    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!

  • 17.
    Bec Kilgore said…

    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.

  • 18.
    stephanie said…

    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.

  • 19.
    Karen said…

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

    • ….
      Ali said…

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

    • ….
      Karen said…

      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!

  • 20.
    Amy said…

    LOL my 2009 album is still in process. HA!

  • 21.
    Debbie P said…

    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!

  • 22.
    Joanne said…

    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.

  • 23.
    MichelleGB said…

    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!

  • 24.
    paula s said…

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

  • 25.
    Amy Kropp said…

    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!

  • 26.
    sophia said…

    i love how you put your 1st page together! i know you mentioned you purchased the turquoise edition. are you just using bits and pieces from it as well as some paper from your current stash? i’m curious to know what you are doing with the cards and things that came in the kit (other than the page protectors that you are obviously using). :)

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I’m used a couple other papers here on the front page. I’m not planning on using a ton of supplies in this project at all – I want to fill it with photos and stuff from life rather than purchased scrapbooking products. I’m definitely going to be using the journal cards that came with the kit as they are super simple and I really like them design-wise.

  • 27.
    Annette said…

    I love this! Mine should be getting here on Monday and I’m excited to get it started. I am calling mine an “eclectic” approach–similar to where you are going to have some weeks a photo a day and others where I’m going to maybe focus on just one day,a theme, what we are into at the moment or just the stuff of life. I love the idea of a gratitude card! I was thinking of that too. Love all the ideas at the Big Picture Forum too. Totally inspiring! Thanks for sharing Ali!

  • 28.
    Annette said…

    Oh, and I also love that you used your IKEA page!!

  • 29.
    Debbi G. said…

    Love how you used the IKEA cover in your opening page..great idea! May have to copy that :)

  • 30.
    Raylene said…

    This will be my third year with P365 and I love it! I don’t burden myself with a Photo a day, but look at it WEEKLY. I take pictures every week at least, and include the stories from the week. ie. week of Jan 1-5 . . . Jan 6-12, etc.
    I do mine totally digital, and prepare my templates ahead of time, usually a couple of months at a time.
    I keep it simple. Same paper background per month. For example, in 2009, all BG papers were dark brown, varying with the seasons. In 2010, each month had its own BG paper. This year, I’m going more simplified: White cardstock all year. All I have to do is add the photos and journaling snippets. Ta Da! Done.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I think looking at it weekly makes it so much less pressure!

  • 31.
    rachel carlson said…

    precisely what i needed for the push, thanks ali.

  • 32.
    elisa said…

    this is exactly what I loved about doing project life last year. The fact that I could hand journaling cards to my children and they could contribute.
    It’s wonderful to get their take on the world. I just love it.

  • 33.
    Lacey said…

    I REALLY love the way you did your opening page (i might just lift this idea from you! LOL)! This will be my first time doing this project and like you, my heart beats alittle faster thinking about it! I am super excited! I’m also taking OLW :) What an awesome way to start out the new year :)

    • ….
      Kimberly said…

      What is olw? Thx

    • ….
      Lacey said…

      OLW is Ali’s class at BPC ( called One Little Word. :)

  • 34.
    Linn said…

    I like the idea of keeping it out and stashing “stuff” in the pockets whenever you pass by. I did my album as a 5photos project, choosing my favorite five photos each week along with any little extras. Each side by side layout was a week (had some extras on weeks I was on vacation…one two page layout for each of those). I loved how I kept up with it at first but of course, got sidetracked around July. Maybe if I kept it out like you mentioned it might happen more easily.

  • 35.
    Dee said…

    Love the entry page.
    Do you think you will round the corners on all the photos and notes?
    I love the look of it…but it looks like a lot of work…

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I think I will. Planning to just keep the corner rounder in a little basket on the counter ;) .

    • ….
      Melissa in SC said…

      It looks great with the rounded corners matching up with all of the journaling cards etc.

  • 36.
    Melissa Salomon said…

    Looking forward to living with intention in 2011

  • 37.
    Katy said…

    I’ve been doing a modified version of all this – using divided page protectors and all – for some time, but love Becky’s kit because everything is ready to go.

    Question for Ali or any others: If you *attempted* to use a photo a day, how did you choose just one photo to represent that day?? I don’t always pull out my camera every single day, but when I do, I take several pictures throughout that day since it’s on my mind. I’m trying to get in the mode of taking a picture a day (or some kind of ‘life bits’ a day) b/c I’d like to have that well-spanned overview, but worry I’ll think too much about which picture to use! Does that make any sense? Any advice?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I actually think it’s a fantastic exercise in getting over the worry of choosing just the “right” picture. As someone mentioned above you can always include more images and not have it strictly be a single-photo-per-day.

      My vote would be to look through your images and print the first one that speaks to you. Over the year you’ll have a great mixture of photos that spoke to you for any number of reasons.

      Let go of the worry – pick one and move on :) . YOU CAN DO IT!

  • 38.
    Heather D said…

    Love how you started the first page. Can’t wait to get mine. I finally picked a OLW and I plan to incorporate evidence of it and how it progresses in our lives this year in the “family” album. I just did a wordle and will print it out as a 4×6 for the first page of the PL. Here’s my wordle:

  • 39.
    Debbie Craig said…

    Just signed up for the class at Simplify 101-thanks for the coupon code! I think this will be a good start for me this year. I need motivation to put wheels on my goals/ideas…this sounds great, can’t wait. I was wondering how exactly you file/store your ‘stuff of life’ stuff during the year? Thanks..Debbie

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Debbie – last year most of the things I wanted to keep went into the Project Life album. I also have a 12×12 pocket page that keeps any extra things throughout the year. I like these from Cropper Hopper:

      I’m definitely pretty selective about what I keep so it’s not really too much.

  • 40.

    I received my Project Life kit 2 days ago and I worked on page one just alittle today.This is my first time in doing Project Life and I am so excited about doing it. Thank you Ali for sharing yor ideas on how you will be doing your book this year. I *love* your first page.


  • 41.
    Melissa in SC said…

    Love your idea of keeping the album out so everyone can add to it. I was thinging about how to do something similar. Problem is there is no “extra” surface space in my house at the moment so I need to work that out first. Good goal for January.

  • 42.
    Stacy said…

    I am wondering if you have any ideas as to how I could go about covering the Project Life binder? I love all of the page protectors and many of the cards, but I would like to make the binder itself look a bit more simple. Any thoughts?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Stacy – I put mine for 2011 into a black We Are Memory Keepers 12×12 album:

      I didn’t love the design of the cover last year but ended up getting over it throughout the year as it was always open. This year though I know that she made the binder a bit smaller so I’m hoping that this will work.

      I like plain albums :) .

  • 43.
    Kristine said…

    I am loving your dec daily and hope you will post your project life frequently.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • 44.
    HeidiY said…

    I’m always in awe of your inspiration. Hope you have a wonderful 2011!!

  • 45.
    Daphne said…

    Is the Project Life and the Sun.-Sat. a png file; if so; did you do it or can it be bought somewhere? I love it!! Thank you so much! I love the first page!!! :)

    • ….
      Daphne said…

      I met to say Documenting Life not project life!! Sorry!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      That’s a part of the kit :) .

  • 46.
    CindyP said…

    Are all the papers you used on the opening page part of the kit or do you use your own? I’m torn between the paper version and the digital version….

    • ….
      Heather said…

      this is my question as well. I’m so on the verge of ordering this but wonder how easily I could just do this on my own. How much of that first page of yours is from the kit?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      The top right paper and the bottom two spaces are all my own stuff. The top left paper is from the kit. I will definitely be using the journal cards that are included in the kit – they are all the same style as that top right paper.

  • 47.
    Heather said…

    Ali, A few months ago, I saw where someone put the days of the week on each of their photos for PL and I’m pretty sure it was your handwriting. Do you have any digital elements with the days of the week for a 4×6 photo?

  • 48.
    Carrie said…

    Cool. I wondered what your approach to this was going to be, and I was wondering if this was something I should pursue. Thanks for the insight, friend.

  • 49.
    Jill said…

    a friend and i purchased the kit and plan to split it. neither one of us plan to do the whole year so this way we can save a little $ and free ourselves from feeling pressured to document

  • 50.
    Stacie said…

    I was thinking of doing the exact same thing Ali! As I toyed with the idea of doing one for each of my kids I realized that what I love about our 2010 PL is that it is OUR story. Our families history of one year of our lives and I put pictures in that are screaming for narration from the 5 & 10 year old that made those pictures happen. Now, my goal for this year is to collect more of the paper of our lives. We have a lot of it, I just didn’t collect it this past year.
    P.S. My 2010 is still meandering along too!;)

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