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.

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134 thoughts

  1. Icecat62 says…

    I did Project 365 last year and have all the photos in, but made the mistake of not doing the journaling as I went. I am ten months behind on the journaling and will make that a daily project to get in finished. It's a wonderful way to look back at the year and sparks so many great memories. This year I'm doing Project Life, but will focus on one or two events during the month, with more photos and extra journaling. I think this type of album gives people so many options. And now that the digital version is available, you can play with it online and send it as a gift or keep an extra one for yourself. Either way, doing these types of albums don't have to be a chore. Do what you can and enjoy doing it or you will end up frustrated at yourself and that's not the point of scrapping. :)

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  2. kmiller1229 says…
    01/25/2010 is another great resource to do project 365. I've been using the 'comment' part for each photo as a reminder for journaling. So far, I've been really good about taking a pic a day. I've been using as inspiration for those days that I can't think of what to "shoot". Thanks for the idea of using 8 1/2 x 11 sheet protectors. Great way of displaying awards, special homework and such....
    I've yet to print out pics, I'm hoping to do it monthly - we'll see how that goes!

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  3. Jujudo says…

    The picture-a-day-project is a great idea to keep memories of that year. I did it last year - 2009 - and took a picture every day. In the beginning I was quite shy with the camera but got used to it and completed the 365/365! Loved it so much.
    I still have to finalize the project for me by using the printed photos for a journal or frame the ones I like best.
    This year I'm doing a "52 weeks of 2010" project. Isn't it great to take pictures? I love it every day.

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  4. Melissa says…

    Ali, your album is (as usual!) GORGEOUS.
    I completed BH's 365 last year and here's what helped me out: I kept a running paper pad (spiral) and just listed the dates for a week to a month ahead. Next to them I filled in very brief notes about things that happened that day. That way if I took a photo I had notes, if I didn't I could still use journaling if I wanted.
    I made it a point to sit down once a week and choose the photos that I wanted to upload/print. Those went into a special P365 file that I kept within each month so that I could upload straight from one file instead of one day at a time.
    Mostly: DON'T STRESS ABOUT THE PHOTO. It, quite literally, can be anything. A photo of breaking news on CNN (TV or computer screen), the sky (weather), a recipe you've made, the mess after dinner or a party... you're with me on this. It's just limitless.
    Have a great time!

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  5. KelliL says…

    I am doing something almost identical to this. I picked up a bunch of the We R Memory Keepers divided protectors in all different sizes(love the 4x4 version). I have a basket that sits on my dresser that I dump all my "scraps" of daily life everyday. Receipts, lists, movie stubs and such. I am taking a POTD of my life and tracking it all in a "Listograpy" album I found at Barnes and Noble which can also be found at Amazon to document a little something everyday. It helps that it sits right by my bed so at the end of each day I know it will get done.At the end of the month I plan to sit down and scrap one months of memories or one week for each page protector.So basically I am doing a very large version of "A week in the Life". I am actually very excited about it and I needed something like this to get me in the groove again.

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  6. janie says…

    My advice is REMEMBER to JOURNAL the story. Even if you have to jot notes on a napkin or whatever is available -- doesn't have to be perfect -- then add it to the page protector. Like you Ali, I put receipts and STUFF in mine too. Thanks for the idea of adding the 8 1/2 by 11, my son just got straight A's on his report card so I have a copy folded in my book....I am going to add it to 8 1/2 by 11 instead.
    Don't forget to add other people's stories too. Have the kids write out a note about what a favorite thing or day was. It's been fun so far. Janie

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  7. tara pollard pakosta says…

    I had this in my basket at Amazon, but then when I went to order it was gone, so I will have to go back again! It's an awesome looking booK! I have been actually getting a picture a day too. It's trying to remember the details that get me, if I don't write it down IMMEDIATELY when they happen, forget it! I won't remember to save my life! that's the hardest part, I write things down in random places, then can't find them! I need to get a small notebook in my purse again! and keep some laying around the house and DATE the stuff! my other problem: I want to indclude things like report cards, spelling lists etc, but I don't want to take them out of their "school bins" that I keep! Should I make copies maybe on cardstock?!
    okay , Ali, I LOVE your booK! I want to make one for sure now! tara

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  8. Karen says…

    I did do last year and it will no doubt be the most important album I ever do. There truly is something special about the huge space to put some of everything. I am sure that things that seem everyday will have meaning when we look back on them. I guess I do have a few suggestions. First you really do have to keep up. My finished album is over 4 inches thick and I think it would feel overwhelming to have to try to go back over several months. Second it really is easy and yours so don't make it any harder than you will keep up with. For people like me who hate to journal AND have lousy handwriting it was just a test in "getting her done!" I passed!
    I won't be doing it the same way this year. I bought Project Life and love the format again but it's just too much. I will use it in some new way this year. The only other thing that I do is use up some everday 12X12 page protectors and put in a few full scrapbook pages. It is fun to change it up some as you go along and this option gives you that.

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  9. Jujudo says…

    Oh, I forgot to add what I learnt from this is how to stay on track:
    Taking theme-pictures like "Bench Monday", "Color My World Daily and the crazy "Face-Down-Tuesday"-group at flick kept me going. Sometimes the spirit is a little low and you can take a group-related picture. And the spirit comes back again.

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  10. Debra says…

    I bought Project 365, but I just started using it in December. I was afraid I would ruin it, so it sat in my studio all these months. Now I know it doesn't have to be perfect - it just has to be.

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  11. Harriett says…

    I too am doing a version of the 365. Last year I started with Becky Higgins Project 365 and put too much stress on myself to take a photo EVERYDAY. So of course by March I was in burn out. I never finished. So this year I set mine up to be much less stressful. I ordered a 12x12 D ring binder and several different divided page protectors. So far I have 2 weeks with 7 photos and one week with 5 photos, a recipe card and a receipt. I think the most important thing for me was to have everything organized and easy to access on a daily basis. I printed 52 weekly dated cards and have them already in the page protectors. That way I can do my journaling as the week progresses on either 4x6 cards or 2x3 cards which I have ready in a box on my worktable. I am doing a Sunday to Saturday week. Every Monday I have the last weeks pictures printed at Walgreens (great quality right here around the corner). So far I am feeling much more relaxed about the whole thing and feel like it's very doable for me to finish the whole year this time.

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  12. christen says…

    i've been wondering if it is too late to start! your album is amazing and inspiring!

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  13. Tappin' Tamara says…

    Morning, Ali! I love what you are doing and it was great to see it today, because my Project Life kit is due to arrive today-YIPPEE! I have been blogging (started the blog just for the picture a day purpose) and thought it would be a good incentive to keep me taking pictures and journaling a little bit about the photo or what was on my mind for the day until the kit was available for order on amazon. It was your DD that was my inspiration for doing this (THANKS SO MUCH). At any rate, sorry to babble, but I was going to mention those wonderful simple stories page protectors-which I found by the ad on your site-I think they are going to be a great addition to Becky's kit. ENJOY your endeavor, too!

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  14. Melissa Gruber says…

    I love what you are doing with your 365 projects...makes me want to do the book as well. I am doing it digitally this year and trying my hand out at far I am really like it, but I miss the paper and cute touches. I am really behind in my other scrapbooks, so my goal was to do the 365 and then work on my books this far, I got 2 pages done...not that much, but I am hoping to get caught question I have for do you stay caught up??? Any tips...I have been trying to print pictures and then do a page, but I need to work in right now focus on getting caught up since June 2008!
    Thanks Ali!

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  15. Jo says…

    I love your take on the 365 project. I had been put off the whole thing previously because of the idea of making sure I take a photo everyday. But with your more laid back approach I can really see the beauty of this project and I'm definitely interested in this way of recording our life. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  16. Autumn says…

    You are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your work. I love what you have done so far. My Project life kit should be here tomorrow so I am looking forward to playing along.
    I did Project 365 on Flickr last year and made Nov. I envisioned putting those photos in a book but when I printed out a month to work on at a time, it was way overwhelming. So, only ONE month made it into my book.
    For this year, I will print photos weekly and work on it on a weekly basis. I love your idea of adding the tidbits - receipts, movie tickets, etc (similar to a Week in the Life).
    My advice for those doing Project 365: journal every day and don't sweat it if you don't get a photo each day. I was so hung up on a photo-a-day last year and didn't get beyond that.
    Thanks for the inspiration! Hoping to see you at CKC-Portland.

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  17. Deirdre says…

    I am loving Becky Higgin's Project Life kit. I'm one of those "scrapbook supplies" collectors who take lots of photos but rarely prints them or scraps. It has meant so much to me already to have most of January captured and little stories that we would never have remembered. I have 3 boys under 8 and very little time.
    My rountine:
    I bought a small moleskin notebook with a Week-at-glance where I jot down journaling and what photo I think I'm going to use. Before printing, I'm using your days-of-the-week digital brushes (an idea I saw on Jessica Turner's blog) and printing on Saturdays at our local grocery store. Sunday evenings, while we watch all the political shows from that morning, I put the previous week together.
    What I love:
    The simplicity of it. I got a little creative with the title page (used the lyrics from "Seasons of Love") but otherwise am just using the kit supplies. If I want to jazz it up later, I can but I love that I don't have to dig into my supplies. I put my sharpie and white pen in the tall box with a bunch of the journaling cards so I can work on it with minimal "stuff." Love that it is actually getting done. It's easy to crop a 4x6 to fit the journaling spot too. Love that I'm not taking more photos but different photos---took one of the boys with our babysitter this weekend, she's part of our story but before I never would have picked up the camera on the way to the movies.
    Thanks for the idea to use other page protectors. My 7 yr old just wrote a letter I'd love to copy and include. Sorry this is so long---my last advice is to not overthink. I could obsess about making sure each son is represented equally or over which photo to use or whether it's cheating to use a photo from a different day---but I'm not. I'm just telling our story in bits and it's making me so happy.

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  18. Lynette says…

    This post did it for me...I am now sold on Project Life...thank you for the inspiration.

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  19. Libbi M. says…

    love, love, love it. simply amazing as all your projects are. can't wait to see more. have an amazing week.

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  20. Theresa W says…

    love Love LOVE those Memory Works page protectors! This is my first year doing Project 365 and I'm doing my own version though it's looking a lot like yours - pieces of every day life along with the photos. I'm printing my journaling on the photos for the first time and loving it :) Thank you so much for the inspiration - this is really helping me feel better about my scrapbooking because it's so easy to stay current with this project!!

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  21. deb says…

    Hi Ali - I love you interpretation of 365 project. I did it last year and loved it. I used the free digital downloads Becky posted on her blog in January and just printed them out. I did take a photo everyday and focused on where I had been walking and with whom and on daily life & home details. This is my last blog post shows a few of my pages & my album - I love looking back on my album already. I printed out the photos myself - so one piece of advice would be to make sure you print them out daily - I did it each time I did my blog post.

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  22. christy a says…

    I also am working with the Project Life this year to capture our everyday lives and what is going on. We already take a ton of pictures and I don't have time to scrapbook all of them, so this seemed like a good solution to incorporate a lot of them into one place where we can look back and remember. Thanks for the ideas - they are fantastic!

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  23. cathy says…

    totally digging the little journal cards you designed in Illustrator.
    Could you offer that template on Designer Digitals?

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  24. candice mclean says…

    love this idea of a 365 album and would love to try it. i think i'll start with jan and see how it goes. we have so much coming up this year with a move to japan and i need to document it all. and... i've seen a few photo flickr galleries with the concept of 1 photo a day. very cool.
    i have a question for you. i love how you capture your handwriting on our pages. are you using a pen tablet? i have one but it is so hard to "control" and the writing doesn't look like my writing. i'm trying more digital layouts and love the ease but i'd really like to incorporate my digital handwriting. any suggestions? thank you for always inspiring and sharing.

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  25. Linn says…

    I love this idea! I'm doing a 5Photos project on my blog where I choose 5 photos a week and this would be the perfect way to capture it all. It feels a lot like the December daily project which I've done with you the past few years...doable and meaningful. Thanks for the inspiration! I'm going to check out the sites you mentioned for supplies.

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