That Day That I Tried To Finish The Last 8 Weeks Of Project Life® 2013


Last Wednesday Katie (my trusted right hand) issued a challenge to me to see if I could get all 8 weeks of 2013 Project Life® completed in one day.

I think she's tired of me straying from our block schedule (more on that in a post later this week) and saying "I'll get to it" and getting distracted by other things.

But I welcomed the challenge. Actually I embraced it and felt excited about just getting it done.

I started about 10:30am with the plan to deal with photos first. For me that's a natural place to begin. Most of these spreads didn't have stories written down so I was really hoping to fill more of the pockets with photos and then fill in with some words as the next step. You can see a video that shows what I had in place already (mainly sticky notes and a couple photos) here.

I organize my photos by month (in folders) in Aperture so it's easy to see what was happening at a particular time. From there I select and open each photo I want to use Photoshop and often run Rad Lab on them if they need it (usually to either lighten or change to black and white). I print at home on my Espon PictureMate.


Pick, print, stick in pocket. Repeat. (Maybe a bit of editing thrown in - I like to stick with one-click editing and don't spend much time at all messing around creating my own recipes and such.)

This project is not about any single photo - it's about all of them together and the story they come together to tell.

It took me about 3 hours to select, edit, print, crop and place 88 photos for the last 8 weeks of 2013 into the pockets of Project Life®.

By that time I was ready for lunch. And I was excited to get all those photos in those pockets.

Truth be told, after lunch I lost my steam - which is totally fine - and moved on to something else before heading out to pick up the kids. It's progress.

Here's a look at where I'm at now:


WEEK 45 | Almost done. The first half of the spread has been done for awhile. I printed out photos to finish up the second half and added one journal card.

I'll probably add just a couple embellishments onto the photos on the right side and call it good.


WEEK 46 | This is the second of my two weeks in China.

In terms of choosing photos for this week I made zero attempt to try to capture the whole trip in this album (there's really no way to be able to do that with close to 4000 photos between me and Aaron). Basically I looked through the photo folder and just picked some that I liked (which ended up being photos of me and Aaron) and will work with the rest in my album of that trip.

I'll add one text 3x4 card with a few thoughts and likely a few embellishments on some of the photos.



WEEK 47 | This spread needs three journal cards. I might just do an overview/a couple highlights and write directly on the photos here.

Includes an insert of a newsletter that Simon created at school.



WEEK 48 | Thanksgiving week. Can't help but add in that little turkey Anna brought home from school. Looking at these photos right now makes me excited to add in some more words about how much I loved having family here.

I was also excited to use my Thanksgiving Journal Cards & Frames. I added a photo to the "feast" one on the right side and will add words to the "thankful" card on the left.


WEEK 49 | The first week in December.

I have to say that I actually love going back and doing this long after December. For me December is all about December Daily®. I loved going back and adding photos (some were included in DD but many were not).

I had a bunch of these December Daily® 3x4 Journal Cards printed out (used them in my album in 2012) and will be adding words to those.


WEEK 50 | More from December. Love how it captures some of the really basic, non-holiday stuff.



WEEK 51 | The start of my holiday travel celebration. Both this week and next I included a 6x12 divided page protector for extra photos. You can make those yourself by cutting up some of the Design A or you can purchase some here. Some words and embellishments will be added.



WEEK 52 | Seriously fun to go back and look at our Christmas pictures again. Made me heart happy. As I mentioned above this spread includes a 6x12 insert for more photos.

"To be continued" card is from the Plus One Mini Kit.


At the end of the album I included one of the large 12x12 envelopes. This is currently holding Christmas arts and crafts from Anna.

The first spread of my 2014 album includes a few photos from the last few days of 2013.

I don't have a specific plan for this end page. Every year I think I will do something for these pages but I haven't yet.

As I look back on where these spreads are at right now, the truth is I could just be done and call it good. But I won't and the reason is because the words & the context I provide through the little stories or details via words are important to me. The pictures are awesome and I love them but the story is made that much richer when we add the context of our own words.

Excited to have some time later this week to finish this up! It's possible people.

24 thoughts

  1. Pink Ronnie

    2014-05-13 06:35:00 -0400

    Absolutely it's possible! So happy for you that you've made such good progress, Ali. Keep on, keep on. :)
    Ronnie xo

  2. Michelle t.

    2014-05-13 07:00:22 -0400

    Real nice album. You put a lot of work into it. I'm going to have to check out December Daily. I didn't really start following til right around Christmas time so I'm not real familiar with it. I hope you'll do it again this year. Michelle t

  3. Kelsey McEvoy

    2014-05-13 07:13:53 -0400

    My first year completing PL was 2013, and the season I was most excited about documenting -- Summer -- was also the season I became so busy that I didn't (and still haven't) complete a single spread. For the entire months of June, July, and the first half of August, there's zero documentation. I used to be really hard on myself about this, but I've since learned to go with the ebb and flow of not only inspiration, but also the time available to work on this project. Thank you for sharing your process -- it helps keep it all in perspective for me!

  4. Theresa

    2014-05-13 08:34:51 -0400

    Ali, you are so real and we love you. I do the same thing - I get up and set a lofty goal, and then lose interest around lunch time. Thanks for the chuckle, and thanks to your enabling post yesterday, I am getting ready to order that whole MME line. And the real reason I wanted to comment - I just LOVE seeing you and your honey in your PL, laughing and sharing such awesome times together. I am so happy for you.

  5. Jennifer

    2014-05-13 08:44:03 -0400

    I've "finished" 5 years worth of project life albums - in various forms. 2008/2009 we lived in England and I documented a photo a day. 2009/2010 was just highlights from the year separated by occasion. 2011 was the birth of my son and I did a weekly project life mostly to highlight his growth. 2012 and 2013 were much the same, but we more family albums since my daughter was born early 2013. This year I am using a monthly approach. But I am "current". The albums are definitely not perfect. Sometimes I meant to insert something specific in one pocket and forgot or meant to embellish a photo/journal card with a special technique and ran out of time. But there are pictures+words in those books. Each week/month I print out pictures. I jot down stories in a book as the days go by. I shove the pictures in the pockets and write on journal cards. If I have time, I go back and embellish. It I don't, I call it good. I love the creative part of embellishing and trying new techniques, but there isn't always time. Pictures + words first :) Great job catching up Ali! You'll be done soon and on to new projects!

  6. Amie Lamm-Griffin

    2014-05-13 09:44:33 -0400

    Awesome! This gives me hope that I can get my digital pages printed and into albums!

  7. Alida

    2014-05-13 11:02:05 -0400

    Your pages look effortlessly wonderful- even when you're in a hurry. My biggest challenge is always to eliminate photo's as I don't do any extra albums. Amazed at how, even when you document busy times, your album don't look overly busy. Keep on swimming!

  8. Patti L

    2014-05-13 11:24:28 -0400

    Good work! I find I feel much better when I at least have photos in place with a few sticky notes. Then I know the next time I can get to it, I will be able to create more.
    I know how tasking the whole photo choosing, editing and printing process can be, so way to hang in there for 3 hours!

  9. Debbie

    2014-05-13 12:23:33 -0400

    Way to go Ali!!! Love this approach!

  10. Iara

    2014-05-13 12:25:02 -0400

    Ali, I did the same aka finished all the remaining weeks from 2013 in one Weekend. I did not have 8 weeks in a row like you but every month had some Kind of hole. I love that I finished it and feel much more into PL 2014 since I did it in March. Best lucky finishing the entire Thing, you are really Close to it :)

  11. Gina

    2014-05-13 14:27:52 -0400

    Awesome! Congrats on your progress and thanks for sharing!

  12. Karen C

    2014-05-13 15:22:52 -0400

    Great blog title! :D
    You're so close now, you'll get it done!

  13. Ksenia

    2014-05-13 16:16:35 -0400

    This must feel so good! I hope to know that feeling at some point. I gotta say, if my pages looked like this, I'd call them good and done. The layouts in China of you and Aaron make it look like such a fun, memorable trip!

    Unrelated: Do you ever do any workshops/get-togethers locally? I'd love to be able to attend something in Portland or even drive down to Eugene. I'd bring a couple of friends too.

  14. Rae

    2014-05-13 17:43:20 -0400

    Yeah! I put in my photos for August 2013 last weekend. I am looking forward to picking out the photos for September through December. I completed December Daily too but like you I will enjoy looking back and remembering the holidays! I am a little behind but I am okay with that. I have kept a journal to help me with the words when I am ready! You are still an inspiration to me! Keep it up!

  15. Tiffany M.

    2014-05-13 18:05:29 -0400

    The words is always where I get caught up. I always have too much to say and don't know how or where to put it in my PL spreads! THanks for sharing your process!

  16. linda marie

    2014-05-13 21:21:24 -0400

    congrats Ali, must feel great! Makes me want to go pull out December daily and get that finished...soon, yes, soon :)
    btw - the first week in Dec, that Saturday + Sunday card? is that available somewhere? LOVE it...I'm always recapping the weekend onto one card for my monthly PL.

  17. Anna Aspnes

    2014-05-14 00:27:35 -0400

    I think the distraction is what keeps us creatives creative if you know what I mean...

  18. J3SS1C4

    2014-05-14 06:59:34 -0400

    Love how these come together! I think I need to knuckle down and look at doing some thing like this so I can catch up the 2nd half of 2013 and the spreads from this year that I have missed! I really like how the pages are coming together, especially the one of you and Aaron in China :)

  19. Debbie

    2014-05-14 12:08:57 -0400

    Great job Ali! Spend one more Wednesday to finish it up! (Or cheat, and get it done this weekend as a surprise to Katie! Ha!)

  20. Fiona

    2014-05-14 15:44:24 -0400

    That's fantastic! It's nice to see and read how you just put it all together and will go back and add more embellishments if you have time/feel like it. I was inspired today to put together 2 weeks of project life for this year, and I'm going to keep at it until I'm back on track. Thanks for the inspiration, and for being so real!

  21. cindy b

    2014-05-14 18:37:15 -0400

    You and Aaron look so cute together. That is all! :)

  22. Honey Silvas

    2014-05-15 17:59:19 -0400

    This is normally how I do Project Life, like a marathon. Sad but true!

  23. dawn

    2014-05-16 06:17:14 -0400

    Way to go Ali!! I love this and had no idea you didn't finish 2013 already. They look great and the added words will be even better!

    I fell behind this year February thru March and finally sat down to catch up. I found that doing it this way isn't easy or fun for me. All these years I've done it weekly and stayed on top of it. The pages are done but I feel like I didn't put any heart in them like normal. Now I won't fall behind again, lesson learned.

    I can see from your pages and thoughts though you enjoyed it and have a lot of Ali and love in them. SO HAPPY it worked out that way! Thank you for sharing and keeping it real here.
    Love that Katie challenged you!!

  24. Anne

    2014-05-23 12:16:16 -0400

    Wow! Can't believe you did 8 weeks in one day, they all look nice too. Gives me hope and that extra push I needed to start my own Project Life (I have kits and pictures but haven't sat down with them yet). Thanks for sharing.

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