Archive | Crafty

Project Life: 2013 Wrap-Up

2014-07-28 11.02.06

Hey, so, I’m still scrapbooking!

First things first: I LOVE PROJECT LIFE (more background on that here). I’m still working on my pages for January of this year, and on catching up with my 2014 album. I’m thrilled what what I have done.

Not because my pages are amazing and get pinned a million times as Project Life inspiration, because they don’t. They’re not that fancy. I’m very proud of many of them, but they are not magazine-worthy scrapbook pages.

And that’s ok! It’s awesome because it’s all together in one place for Natalie or Will or anyone else to look at and enjoy for years and years and years to come. I can show someone the scrapbook and they can see what our life was like, rather than handing them my phone and saying, “Scroll through all 900 pictures and I’m sure you’ll find something cute.”

So. Yes. Project Life is awesome and I can’t recommend it highly enough as a memory-keeping system.

I wanted to share some of my favorite pages today from my 2013 book:

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This one is from October 2013, when mama got her crafting groove back. I finally had the energy to start working on projects again, so I jumped right into organizing my fabric, knitting, scrapbooking, and a few sewing projects.

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And the final page. Looking at these pictures reeeaaaally makes me want to hurry up and finish my 2014 book! Perhaps I’ll have some time today, since we have yet another snow day. *sob*


2015 Project Life Title Page and Plans for the Year

You’ve read about my on-again, off-again love affair with Project Life, so now I wanted to outline my plans for this year. I’m doing this for two reasons:

  1. I need external accountability to stay on track, and if I’m posting my album pages even semi-regularly then I have to, you know, make the pages.
  2. I’ll forget my own guidelines if I don’t write them down.



This is my title page for 2015 and I think it’s a pretty solid example of what I want the rest of my album to look like (some info blurred for privacy). It’s simple, but not too plain. I used a few different embellishments but I didn’t spend HOURS picking things out. The photo was printed here at home. I hand-wrote my journaling and didn’t worry about stuff not being exactly centered. There’s a bit of sparkle but not an overwhelming amount. It also follows an IDENTICAL format to last year’s title page. Why reinvent the wheel?

I’ve been looking over previously completed pages and making notes about which ones were my favorites and why. I’ve also been thinking about where my pain points are with scrapbooking (basically, which part of the process is super annoying and makes it difficult to stay current) and how do I streamline those things, or maybe even cut them out completely?

With those things in mind, this is what’s up for 2015:

No buying scrapbook supplies.

My current stash is small by many standards, but I could probably complete a dozen (or more!) albums with the number of journaling cards I have. I DON’T NEED MORE STUFF. One thing I learned in 2014 is that the more stuff I have, the slower I scrapbook. I spend roughly 6,000% more time looking through all my options instead of just picking a damn card, writing on it, and moving on. I’m looking to simplify my life, not make things more complicated. And more stuff ALWAYS equals more complicated for me.

Print pictures at home with white borders using a template.

That might seem oddly specific, but bear with me. I LOVE the look of photos printed with white borders. I just think it looks nice and clean and especially helps if your photos tend to be on the darker side, which mine can be (since most of mine are taken indoors). Depending on what printer you have, that might be really easy or more complicated. I run into trouble when I’m printing two 3×4 photos on one sheet of 4×6 photo paper, since I never save my settings and my borders are always completely wonky and uneven. So this week I’ll be making a template which I will save in a very visible spot on my desktop, with a note included about what printer settings to use. It will probably take a bit of trial and error to get it right but once I have it, I HAVE IT. And that will save me a ton of time in the future.

No corner rounding.

I was a fanatic about this in 2012 and half of 2013. You see, photo paper has square corners whereas all Project Life cards have rounded corners. Most of you are probably thinking, “…and your point would be?” but I think there’s a few of you who are already developing a nervous tic thinking about mixing square and rounded corners on the same page. THE HORROR. So my process would go like this: print photos, spend 12 hours using a corner punch to round each and every corner of every blessed photograph, then scrapbook.

I know. I know. I KNOW. I’ve seen the light and embraced corners of all kinds in my scrapbook. Let’s face it, I just don’t have time for that nonsense.

Stick to one style of page protector (mostly).

One of the many, many ways to rapidly expand your scrapbook stash and exponentially multiply the time it takes to complete a page is to give yourself 40 different configurations of page protectors to choose from. Here are all your choices. Overwhelmed yet? I own like half of them and I certainly am. The problem (for me – many people do this beautifully and probably without nearly as much effort as it takes me) is that mixing page protectors means I have to spend sooooo much time planning my pages to make sure I print all my photos at the correct size. Should this be 4×6? Or 3×4? What about square? Maybe print it even bigger? Do I have 7 horizontal 3×4 pictures to go on the next page? AHHH.


I understand that a lot of scrapbookers like using the different types of page protectors because it visually mixes up your album, and that’s a cool look. It can also be a fun, creative challenge. But for me it’s mostly just a headache. SIMPLIFY, HELMRATH.

So except in rare circumstances, I will be going back to that old standby, Design A (affiliate link). Is it glamorous? No, but a completed scrapbook using only Design A is a million times better than a stack of different, exciting page protectors with nothing in them.

 Get motivated by taking a class.

My one scrapbook purchase for the year is Megan Anderson’s Pocket Your Year e-course. I’ve been following Megan’s blog for some time now and I really like her style. It’s very similar to my own, only better, so that makes her a very good person to be inspired by. I’m really excited about this course, especially since it runs for the whole year. I’ve taken scrapbooking classes before and been super motivated for the duration of the class, and then…nothing. Motivation gone. So I’m hoping that weekly videos and prompts will inspire me to sit down and scrapbook more often. Plus there’s a hopping Facebook group, which you can join even if you’re not participating in the course. If you’re even remotely interested in pocket scrapbooking (that’s the generic term for Project Life), you should definitely join the group – just click “join” in the top right corner and Megan will approve you.

Schedule scrapbooking time.

This is CRITICAL for me. You’d think that I wouldn’t have to schedule time for my own hobbies, since I chose them myself and they’re obviously things I love to do, but so often it’s just too easy to sink into the couch after Natalie goes to bed and not get up until it’s time for me to go to bed. I’ve put a “Project Life” category in my planner and every week I’m scheduling time to go through my photos and print the best ones. Then they’re all ready for me to sit down and make my pages!

That’s the plan, guys. Capiche?

Are you a scrapbooker/Project Lifer? Leave a link to where we can find your pages in the comments. I love finding new people to be inspired by!


My Tumultuous Love Affair with Project Life

This will be my third year of documenting our lives with Project Life.

For those of you unfamiliar with this memory-keeping system, it’s a scrapbook that generally follows a chronological approach and uses page protectors with pockets to hold photos, memorabilia, journaling cards, and other decorative things. Becky Higgins is the superwoman behind the system, and you can find out more on her site.

I’ve been down the scrapbooking rabbit hole once before, spent a TON of money on supplies I never used, and completed maybe a dozen pages over the course of a couple of years. It just didn’t work for me. I ended up selling a gigantic tote of supplies at my parents’ yard sale many years ago and washed my hands of the entire hobby.

And then I discovered Project Life in the fall of 2012 when I was pregnant with Natalie.

I was intrigued. You mean…you don’t have to make a 12×12 page with a single picture on it? You don’t have to be an amazing artist and creative wunderkind? Is it really that simple?

I didn’t want to devote any space in our then-apartment to supplies, so I decided to go digital and make my pages completely on the computer (I adore The Lilypad for digital supplies). I started making pages to document my pregnancy, and couldn’t WAIT for the new year so I could “officially” start my album.


Pages from the first two months of my pregnancy — click to enlarge. I JUST realized that I typed “blog” instead of “blob” on the journaling card in the far left corner. Crap.

Like many Project Lifers, I used a weekly approach (typically a 2-page spread per week). And then quickly crashed and burned, for a couple of reasons: 1) I had the world’s crappiest camera on my phone and could really only take decent pictures on my BIG camera, which I rarely wanted to take out; and 2) we just didn’t do enough things to justify weekly documentation.

We had no kids at the time, and you can only fill your album with so many pictures of your cats before it starts to get really, really repetitive.

I started combining multiple weeks into a single spread, and that worked much better. I still had very few photos, though, and that made me sad. I also realized that I wasn’t working on the scrapbook very often, since the last thing I wanted to do after I got home from work (where I sat at a computer for 8 hours) was sit in front of a computer for hours and scrapbook.

I was still excited about the idea of Project Life, since I LOVED the pages I’d actually completed, but I was having serious problems with the execution. From January until about March I managed to stay pretty current, but March through June was completely empty.

The job I had at the time offered an amazing benefit: if you have the sick time available, you can take two weeks of it before your due date. I said HECK YES. I was completely convinced, however, that the baby would come early, possibly even before 38 weeks, so I didn’t know how much time I’d have at home. Turns out it was three weeks. Oops.

During that time I made a list of things that I could do to keep myself busy, since heavily pregnant lady + hoooouuuuurs of uninterrupted free time = WAY too much time to overanalyze every twinge and convince yourself you’re going into labor. “Catch up on Project Life” was at the top of the list.

I considered all my options and decided that I needed my catch-up time to be simple, quick, and no-fuss. So I waddled to Michael’s armed with several coupons and purchased a pack of page protectors (affiliate link) and a core kit. I did absolutely NOTHING fancy. I printed my photos at home, hand wrote all my journaling, and used only cards from the core kit. And in three days I was completely caught up.

vacation week14Not the greatest photos but you can see how simple it is. No frills. And most importantly: DONE!

Shockingly enough, I managed to stay caught up for almost a full month after Natalie was born. Don’t ask me how because I don’t even remember doing it. Seriously. And then the wheels fell off again and I didn’t touch the scrapbook until January 2013, when I jumped into action and, once again, caught up on three months in about a week.

The thought of breaking up those three months by week was completely overwhelming, so I grouped all the photos by month and called it a day. I felt so free and I haven’t been tempted to go back to weekly spreads since then. When I get all twitchy about stuff like that I think to myself, are my kids going to care that I only wrote “this happened in September” instead of “this happened on September 22?” Doubtful. I’m working on taking a longer view of the scrapbook and that makes it easier to not sweat the small stuff.

My new plan for 2014 was to continue with monthly spreads, which went…ok. I fell into a regular pattern of only scrapbooking every 2-3 months and catching up on two months at a time. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but I forget a CRAZY amount of stuff if I don’t write it down IMMEDIATELY. I’d like to blame it on Natalie but that’s just how the human brain works.

In July I subscribed to the Studio Calico Project Life kit. I’d seen some amazing scrapbook pages being put together with these kits and thought it might be motivational for me.

Aaaaand nope. Turns out I’m just a hoarder. I did no more scrapbooking from July – December than I did in the first half of the year. I actually did less. *womp womp* So I had less done on my book and now I was accumulating supplies that I wasn’t actually using. And I was getting stressed out about spending money every month on supplies that were just sitting in boxes. No bueno.

I cancelled my subscription after I got my December box. No more kits for me. I have PLENTY of cool stuff and I need to use it.

I still have a lot of catching up to do, but I’m determined to start fresh this year and catch up on the missing parts of 2013 as I can. And two years into this type of scrapbooking, I’ve learned a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t.


I’ve been thinking a lot about a plan for 2015 and I think I have some solid guidelines in place. But that’s for the next post!



Happy Halloween!


Happy Halloween from Toothless the Dragon…toothless-web

…who also does yardwork, apparently.

Our Halloween is going to be very low-key this year. Not quite as chill as last year, when I knit Natalie a bunny hat, gave candy to three trick-or-treaters, and called it a night, but there’s still not that much going on.

2013-10-31 17.38.49-2I did put a little more effort into her costume this year, since she’s mobile and able to wear something a bit more complicated, but still young enough to not care one whit for how she’s dressed.

Man, do I love this age.

We won’t be trick-or-treating, though, since she wouldn’t get to eat any of the candy and would probably think we were punishing her by making her walk up to strange people in strange houses. She’s a bit shy like that. The extent of our festivities is a small costume party at Will’s office this afternoon, and that sounds great to me.

One we get home we’ll start handing out candy, and by that I mean the three Kitkats left in the bag that I haven’t eaten yet.

First come, first served, kids!



Easiest Baby Dress EVAR

I was browsing Instagram while Natalie was nursing yesterday before her nap and came across this photo of two lovely little baby dresses by Anna Maria Horner:

She also mentioned the magic words: FREE PATTERN. Woo!

I checked it out and it seemed simple enough. Here, you can check it out, too: Piece A Cake dress

As soon as Natalie went down for her nap I sprang into action. I grabbed some fabric that I thought would be perfect for a baby dress, printed off the pattern, and started cutting and sewing.

There are many things I can do very quickly. Knitting? Check. Catching a baby just before she reaches the cat food dishes? Check. Eating donuts? Check and check.

But sewing? Not so much. So you can imagine my surprise when, TWO HOURS LATER, I ended up with this.



This is the most no-frills baby dress you can ever imagine. The front and back are identical (cut two on the fold) as are the sleeves (unless you’re going for some kind of asymmetrical look). The pattern calls for bias tape on the neckline and sleeves, but I honestly couldn’t be bothered. I just turned the neckline under about half an inch (didn’t even measure or pin!) to make a casing for the elastic and called it a day.


The pattern sizes range from 3 months to 12 months. Natalie is currently wearing 18- and 24-month clothing, so I was a little worried the 12-month size would be too tight. As you can see, this is definitely not a problem. The only size modification I made was to cut the elastic for the neckline about an inch longer than the pattern specified, just to make sure there was enough room for her above-average noggin.


Obviously since it’s a baby dress, I don’t need to worry about it getting too short. The magic of baby dresses is that they turn into baby tunic tops! Huzzah. I’m reasonably certain this will fit her all the way through the summer (someone remind me to check in about that later).


It’s certainly not a perfect dress but the pattern, and babies, are extremely forgiving. Definitely worth two hours! I see making more of these in my future, given how quickly it came together and how gosh-darn cute it is. Perhaps with contrasting sleeves? Or maybe I’ll be fancy and actually use bias tape?




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