Project Life

That title could mean so many different things… but for today I just wanted to share what I’ve been up to, telling our family’s stories.

I started scrapbooking when I heard about Project Life (I think around 4 1/2 years ago now?) from a blog post by Ali Edwards. (Project Life is a memory keeping system developed by Becky Higgins. You can learn all about it over here.) I LOVED the idea. I was getting ready to go back to work from a year long maternity leave, and one of my biggest fears was that as a working mom, I was going to be so busy and so tired that I’d forget to pay attention to all the little (big) things going on in our lives. All of those “firsts” and all the little details (that might not seem like such a big deal at the time, but your heart knows better) would be seen and quickly forgotten. I felt like I had to do something about that, to make sure the memories of our little life were preserved, because those memories have value. Those stories of the everyday fill in the bigger picture of who we are. The second part was that we had SO MANY PICTURES living on our computer. They never got printed, never made their way into any kind of photo album, they just sat there. I wanted a way to get them off the computer and into some kind of format that made it easier to actually look at them and enjoy them. When I saw what Ali was doing with Project Life, it seemed like the perfect solution to both of those problems, and I’ve really really enjoyed it. I still “do” Project Life, although the consistency of weekly spreads has come and gone over the years. Now I use my albums to mix in random weekly spreads and scrapbook layouts. It doesn’t really matter what they’re made of, it’s really just about getting the stories told.

I wanted to share a more traditional looking spread I’ve been working on for our 2015 album. This spread covers one week of photos and a few of the little stories in our life.PBALDWIN_FEB25_AMPMDIGITAL Here’s a closer look at the left sidePL leftJust looking at this little collection of photos and stories all together makes me happy 🙂 Here’s some of my favourite bits and pieces:

good morning sunshineI took this photo of the sun rising over the city one morning at work. On the really early mornings, there’s often a long walk back from the lab that includes this amazing view. As much as I am not naturally a morning person, I really look forward to this part. It’s so beautiful. I love taking a moment just to soak it in. I’ve added some word art from Ali Edwards’ AM/PM digital stamp set, and made my own little word strip using a computer font (Impact Label, it’s a freebie). Love having this view captured in my album.

emily's artOne of the things Ali’s doing in her album this year is including her daughter’s artwork. I LOVE this idea!! Emily is all about colouring right now with crayons and markers and chalk, on paper (…and walls….and floors…and hands). I looked over one afternoon and saw that she had settled herself in to do some art work at the kids’ craft table. She helps herself to paper and we have a little bucket of supplies that’s maybe a little too accessible (…ah well, it washes off). I snapped a picture with my phone and made sure to save the paper she had been working on. When I was ready to pull this spread together, the photo was kind of horrible. All grainy and distorted from where I had zoomed in. I shrunk it down and made it black and white, which helped a bit. I trimmed down her art work to fit a 4×6 pocket and ran in through my printer to add the digital word art. Love how this one turned out!

playing with LiamThere’s a really cool card in the “Magic” story kit that’s also available in the digital version of the kit. I loved the way the blank white journaling strips ran off the right side of the card. I used a digital version of the card and added those same blank journaling strips onto this photo of Liam and I playing one evening, then typed my journaling right on top. I finished it off with a chipboard tab stapled to the top. I like the look.

#datenightThis little 3×4 card is definitely one of my favourites and inspired the look of most of the other 3×4’s in this spread 🙂 I made a 2.9×4 canvas in PSE, typed “#datenight” on the bottom right, printed it on some matte photo paper. Then I printed the matching photo on glossy photo paper, trimmed the bottom and stitched it down. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I LOVE IT! So I repeated the same technique for a few other photos (and obviously replaced the #datenight with more relevant digital stamps).

bedtimebrush teethI think I had some of the words from the AM/PM digital stamp set in my brain already when I was taking these photos of Emily’s everday kind of stuff, like brushing her teeth and bedtime. I love that the AM/PM story theme prompts me to capture some of those moments. I love the little details in the photo of her brushing her teeth, like the way she’s standing on the step stool that she dragged across the floor so she can reach the sink, and the way she’s got a Spider Man bag slung over her shoulder, and the way she’s not actually “brushing” her teeth, but really having a good time just holding her toothbrush under the running water. All those little details of her life right now in such an ordinary every day task 🙂

There are two journaling cards on the left side of this spread that tell the story of my first Jury Duty experience and a little blurb about celebrating Liam’s birthday. I made them using more of Ali’s digital products and I’ll have to do a little tutorial on that another day 🙂

Here’s a closer look at the right side of the spread:PL rightOne of the things you might not be able to tell just by looking at the picture is that there’s a flap on one of the cards that reveals a little more journaling under the photo 🙂

PL flip upFor the most part, I like to keep my “embellishing” clean and simple with a few word strips and chipboard pieces here and there. The word strips and chipboard pieces in this spread are all from the “AM/PM” and “Magic” story kits. the storyThat photo of Liam and Emily asleep in the back seat is definitely a favourite! “the story” word strip on that photo is actually from the digital AM/PM brushes (it used to say “the story of this morning”, I just printed it and trimmed off the end. It’s hard to tell from the photo but it’s raised up with a foam square. I like dimension and texture and don’t worry too much about bulk.)

art cardThe quote card… those words are so fitting right now. I modified the digital version of this card (from the AM/PM story kit) to make it black and white. I’ve seen the question come up before… “How do you document the hard stuff” or “DO you document the hard stuff?” Yes…but maybe not right away. Maybe not when you’re right in the thick of it. Maybe when the hurt has eased a bit. Maybe when your brain has somehow made some sort of sense of everything that’s happened.  Until then, it’s okay to simply acknowledge when things are hard. Feel it out. Do what’s right for you. And know that “documenting the hard stuff” doesn’t have to mean writing out every nitty gritty detail (unless you want to).

(I realize that what I’ve just said may set off alarm bells for you. Our family is dealing with some really “hard stuff” in the form of mental illness, something I know affects SO MANY people in the world. There has been a whole lot of heartache and hurt and “adjusting to a new normal”. It is HARD! But there is light. And we’re doing okay.)

I mentioned above that I like to mix up my albums with traditional Project Life spreads and Scrapbook layouts (in a variety of sizes!). A couple other things happened this week that made their way into the album as well. For starters, Liam officially turned 5!! “A whole hand!!”

PBALDWIN_MAR18_PHOTOTABSNO.01I wrote down some of the things that happened/things we did “on the day you turned 5”, like what he wore (because they’re his favourite things), what he had for breakfast (pancakes! another favourite), the conversation we had about his birthday wish, etc. I decided to include the story of these little details along with the traditional “blowing out the candles” picture as a 6 x 11 insert. (Why not 6 x 12? because my printer is a standard size printer and I print from home 🙂 There IS a way to adjust it to print longer lengths, but I didn’t feel it was a game changer for this particular project).  I kept the embellishments really simple again with a few printed banners (Ali Edwards – Photo Tabs No. 01), a strip of patterned paper (Studio Calico – Odyssey Scrapbook kit….it’s like it was made just for me to document this occasion! How did they know!), and some painted gold confetti dots. A note about those gold painted dots…I originally tried putting a silk screen (from the “Magic” Story Kit) directly on the photo, but it left a terrible sticky residue behind. Maybe because it was too new? Maybe it’s just not very compatible with photo paper? I’m not sure…but my solution was to reprint the photo with the confetti added digitally and then just fill in the dots with a small paint brush and the gold paint. That worked!

7AM 7PM insertThe other thing that happened this week was a challenge to photograph/document what was happening in your life at 7 AM and 7PM. I included that as an insert in my album using a Becky Higgins divided page protector with 4×4 squares (Design I – cut down) and the transparencies from the “AM/PM” Story Kit and some “lift the flap” style journaling.

So with all the pieces together, here’s what my spread for this week will look like…PL with insertsI finally picked out an album to hold all my layouts for this year! How cute is this one by We R Memory Keepers! Looking forward to it’s arrival in the next few weeks 🙂  Thanks so much for stopping by today 🙂



  1. Beautifully made and beautifully written. You are an inspiration, my friend. Love you!

  2. It’s awesome. I love every little details of ypur pages. And love that you took the time to explain the why in this post. Thank you I find it really inspiring.

    Wishing you strenght for the hard times.

    Bye Irene from the Netherlands.

  3. I just love all your layouts! They look great and I get such inspiration from them! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pam you have great skills when it comes to your hybrid PL! I’d really like to know how you made that photo 4×6 card using the digital Magic card, the one with the white strips on the RHS of the image. I tried today but I guess my skills aren’t good enough in PSE to re-create it. Would really appreciate another Photoshop tutorial!

  5. Wow, there are lots of little details and techniques here that I’d like to try. I’d also love to see how you added the journaling strips to the side of that photo. And yes, I don’t know what it is about that #datenight card but I love the way that looks too. The way you added your little one’s artwork is very cool and I love that sunrise photo! Between this and the spread you showed in your class over at BPC I’m definitely feeling like I want to be more creative with my PL. The simple style I do gets the job done, but I think I’m ready to complicate things a little bit for the sake of having fun and having a more interesting layout.

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