Project Life Tuesday: 20 Questions Answered

by jessicaturner on January 15, 2013

The Mom Creative
Welcome to Project Life Tuesday 2013! If you are new to The Mom Creative, welcome. I hope you will stay awhile. I’m Jessica – wife to Matthew, mom to Elias, a silly and spirited four-year-old, and Adeline, a spunky one-year-old. I’m also a marketing professional, savvy deal finder, photo lover and memory keeper trying to juggle it all.

Each Tuesday, I typically share my most recent spread as well as host a linky for readers to link up their pictures/layouts. This week, instead of showing a bunch of layouts, I am answering YOUR Project Life questions. These questions were submitted here on the blog, on Facebook and via email. This post is LONG, but hopefully it helps give you a bit more perspective about my favorite form of memory keeping and how I approach it.

What exactly is Project Life?
This video does a great job of explaining Project Life.

How much does Project Life cost?

Let’s break it down:

  • core kit: $29.99
  • Big pack of page protectors $29.99
  • Journaling pens: $5.99 (you’ll need at least two to get you through the year)
  • Photos – 365 4×6 prints: $70 (This could vary greatly if you print at home, take advantage of printing deals, incorporate larger prints in your album, etc.)
  • Album- $19.99 (though these always go 50% off at local scrapbook stores)

Total cost: $155.96, or $2.99 per week – Now this is the bare minimum, of course. You will incur additional costs for buying a variety of page protectors for your stash, adding additional embellishments (unless you have them already), etc. You can certainly save some money if you buy the digital kit and then print your own cards, but honestly, the time and ink of doing that makes it seem like it would be a wash, in my opinion.

Personally, I think $156 for something that is going to be passed down to generations AND IS FUN is totally worth it. Scrapbooking has never been a super cheap hobby ($1 for a single piece of cardstock?! $5.99 for thickers?!), but it is one that has changed my perspective on how I view the world, and for that I am so thankful.

One reader cited that to do Project Life digitally and then print the book, it cost her $135. So, I would say it is pretty equal, especially when you figure that you can get print deals + albums at Michaels for around $10. (For another break down of the digital cost of Project Life, check out Sheri’s post.)

How much do you spend a month on Project Life?

I don’t know, but based on the number above, I would guess it works out to about $20-$30 a month. Some months would be more (if I am buying supplies) and some months would be less, but I think that is a good range. (You will notice that this works out to be more than the cost outlined above. That is because I use a variety of page protectors sizes, print from home (which is more expensive) and buy extra stickers, cards, etc. for my album.)

Do you have a station set up so you can leave it all out?

I am so thankful that in our new home, I have a craft room where I am able to leave everything out.

When you do a mass print when you are behind how do you print the different sizes, do you plan the layouts of each one you are behind on and then print?

Yes, I plan out the layouts and then print multiple weeks at one time. It is so gratifying to get those photos in the album that I insert all of them at one time, and then go back and do the journaling.

I plan my layouts by making very simple sketches of my layouts, the page protectors I am going to use, etc

Do you edit all your photos?

If you mean color correct, etc. no, not usually. I just don’t have the time. If you mean edit to format for my album (ie: crop to 3×4, 6×12, etc.) then yes. I use Photoshop Elements for all my editing.

What is the best way to organize the pictures that you want to print from a week?

This is what works for me. In addition to saving my photos in a folder for the year, I have a folder on my drive labeled Project Life.

In it, there are folders for each year (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

In each year there is a folder for each week. (ie: Week 1: January 1-5; Week 2: Jan. 6-12. I include week labels in front of the date so that they line up chronologically)

In each week I copy all the photos I want to use.

I then create a print folder and a used folder.

Photos that I am going to use as is in 6×4 or 4×6 size, I place in the print folder immediately. Edited photos (ie: pages that are two 3×4 photos on a 6×4 template) also go in the print folder.

The original photos go in the used folder.

When I have completed this, I then upload everything in the print folder to my photo developer.


Is it better to print from home or via another source?

Man, this is a tough question. Last year was the first year I had a photo printer at home. I used it to print the majority of my photos for Project Life. Without question, I don’t think I would have stayed on top of my album as much as I did, nor would I have had the diversity of photo sizes in my album. (Last year was my fourth year doing Project Life and it was the FIRST TIME I completed my album. I am confident this would not have happened had I not had a photo printer.)

That said, it is more expensive to print from home. So you have to figure out if the additional cost is worth it. Cost is going to vary based on your printer and the kind of ink it requires.

What do you recommend for printing Instagram pictures?

I print Instagrams in two sizes – 2×2 and 4×4. If I am printing 2×2, then I copy the instagram from Webstagram and paste it into a page in Photoshop (you can fit 6 instagrams on a 6×4 template. If I am printing 4×4, then I save the photo from my phone, then put it on a 6×4 template in Photoshop.

There are services that will print your instagrams for you, but I have never used them.

For more instagram tips, read this post I wrote last year specifically about Project Life and Instagram.

How long does a layout takes you and how you tackle —if you break it into steps or do it in one chunk?

I would say a layout – from selecting photos all the way to my finished spread takes me 3 hours. Most weeks, I break it into two chunks. The first chunk is for planning my layout, selecting photos, uploading, printing, etc. The second chunk is when I actually do the layout, the journaling cards, embellishments, etc.

What extras do you include in your Project Life album?

I love to include tickets from events, my kids’ artwork and special cards. For a list of 100 extras you can add to your Project Life album download this free printable list I created last year. It will surely spark your creativity.

Are the Project Life plastics safe for photos?

Yes. The products are acid-free and archival safe.

What page protectors do you use most frequently?

Design A and Design F are my favorite 12×12 pages.

I also love the 6 x 12 Page Protectors and the Design J.

What kit are you using this year?

I am using Seafoam for my family 2013’s album (my kit arrived yesterday!).

I am using the childhood Wellington and Bridgeport kits to work on redoing my college albums (my photos were all in those awful sticky albums). I have already started on this project and am so excited to share it with you. In 3 hours this weekend I tore apart three sticky albums and got all the photos in Project Life page protectors + the journaling cards inserts. The album is coming together beautifully – and quickly!

I am planning to use Olive for creating a heritage album with some old photos that I have from my ancestors.

Is there hope for me if I get behind in the whole process? Any way to be organized enough not to get behind?

Yes, there is hope if you get behind. My keys to success:

  • Staying on top of my photos. Download them to your computer. Organize them by week. The biggest time suck for me is that part, so if you can at least do that, catching up isn’t so hard.
  • Take notes of your weeks – during or after the week has happened. I find that when I am behind, it so helpful to go back to a little journal I keep just for Project Life to see notes I wrote from the week. The notes are very simple – “Safety week at school. Adeline diagnosed with RSV” etc. These little memory jogs make for a more personal, engaging album.
  • If possible, block out a large chunk of time to catch up. I got to be several months behind and was able to catch up because I blocked out several 2-3 hour sessions where I could work on my album.
  • Participate in my weekly Project Life Tuesday link-up. The accountability of that weekly link-up has been a huge motivation for me to stay on track.

Would love to know what you do with vacations, birthdays, etc.? Do you just do a few pics and make a separate album (PL?) (photobooks?) or do you just add tons of Inserts ?

I do both. I add my favorite photos to my Project Life album and I also make a photo book. (I typically make photo books for vacations and the kids birthdays.)

Here are my Project Life pages from our vacation to Hilton Head and here is the photo book I made from the same trip (using the Clementine Project Life kit on Shutterfly).

Do you have any digital tips for Project Life?

I have never done a digital Project Life album, so can’t be much help there. I recommend Jessica Sprague’s website for digital tips.

Can Project Life replace a baby book?

I see my Project Life family album as something totally separate from a baby book. With the way I do it, I could not see one replacing the other (though when we only had Elias, there were A LOT of weeks that were just cute pictures of him. The way I do Project Life (and the most common approach, I think) is to document our family’s week, every week. Photos range from piles of laundry to the kids in the sandbox.

A baby album is really the place for recording all those sweet milestones and special firsts. I like the idea of that being stand-alone. (I will be creating Adeline’s first year album using the new Project Life Baby Kit and will be sure to share it here on the blog!)

What kind of camera/gear do you use?

We are fortunate to have two SLRS – a Canon 40D and a Canon EOS Rebel T3i .

The lenses we use most often are a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm .

We also take a lot of photos with our iPhones.

Why Project Life over traditional scrapbooking?

I was a traditional scrapbooker for years. I love the process of starting with a bunch of products and creating a beautiful layout + telling a story. That said, I always felt behind. I never felt like enough of my photos got into albums. I would spend 2 hours often on only documenting a few photos or one event.

Project Life enables me to document many more stories, get many my photos in albums and share a more complete picture of our family’s life. The kits are beautiful and versatile and the system really works for my busy life.

I truly believe that Project Life has changed my memory keeping life.

WHEW! Kudos to you if you made it through that post. :)

What additional questions do you have? And if you have Project Life pages to share, please link up below!


{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

sharon71 January 15, 2013 at 7:49 am

Great post! So much useful info there, thanks for sharing.


Sheena January 15, 2013 at 8:01 am

Thanks for sharing. It’s my 4th year to do PL and I’m doing it digital with seafoam plus a paper kits amber for my girl and a baby edition. I’m due next month. Whew! I love your posts about PL.


Fiona January 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

Thanks for hosting this link up every week. I know it’s the only reason I made it through 2012 with my album, and the reason I hurried to finish up my pages today. Accountability is fantastic! Thanks for all the great tips. I am a digital girl myself, so not all of it applies, but there are heaps of people out there wondering about these things!


Margie S (Nihao, Cupcake!) January 15, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thanks for hosting us each week for the last few years! I’ve really enjoyed it and it is a good motivator for getting my weeks done. I have one suggestion for organizing your photos – there are lots of programs out there that do that for you upon upload and automatically put them in folders for you exactly how you want. I used to use iPhoto and now I use Lightroom, but I am pretty sure there are some very good free programs out there too (Picassa may be one of them). Adobe used to have an Album Starter that did that (free download). I think even Photoshop (not sure about Elements) comes with one for free. It might be worth looking into to save yourself some time on that end of things. Thanks again! I love that pic of your beautiful little family. So wonderful to have an album like this to document so many details. Cliche, but they grow up so fast!! :)


Ann Voskamp@Holy Experience January 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

AMAZING post, Jessica!


Cara January 15, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Such a great post! Question about the childhood mini kits: I was thinking of getting one to do my own childhood pictures and also one for my mom to do the same with hers…are the lots conducive to that? It’s hard to get a feel for wha they say/the prompts and if it would work for documenting MY childhood or only for documenting my child’s. I’m assuming it must work if you’re using it for your college pictures but thought I might get your expanded thoughts on that:)

I am using the baby boy kit to make a baby book for our son who is due any day.
I have done PL for the past 4.5 years as a way to document every day of my daughter’s life. Now that we will have two kids, I think I am actually going to do two albums a year — otherwise it doesn’t seem fair that she got 4.5 years of her every day life and then suddenly I’ll be trying to document two in one;). I already ordered the cobalt kit to start in August (that’s when my albums start since I began with her birth), but I think I’ll go ahead and use that for his and continue on with the turquoise I have been using for hers.
And at some point I will make mini albums for each of them, because I’m keeping those big ones !:)


jessicaturner January 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Honestly, I would not get the childhood kits for what you are wanting. I definitely have cards that I can’t use (ie: handwriting/self portrait/etc.) – though I am going to work these into my regular album. The regular core kits are a much better value.


Cara January 17, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Thanks! I was thinking it might be better for us to choose a normal kit and just split the cards between our mini albums:)


jessicaturner January 18, 2013 at 10:12 am

Yep, that’s what I would do.


Marty January 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I haven’t linked up for a while because I’m totally behind! I’ve always finished my albums but this year it’s going to take a retreat this weekend to get on top of it. I do not print photos to go with specific layouts. I just print the photos and pick the page protector based on what I want to use. This year I did more event/weekly layouts instead of the picture a day idea. This is a great post and I’m sharing it on my fb page!


Katie January 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Hi Jessica – I’m doing a PL post catch up and shared all of November this week. As always I enjoy linking up and seeing all the inspiration. I am so glad you did the post because I have a couple friends who after having seen mine are interested in starting PL. They ask a lot of questions, most of which would be answered by this post so it will be great to have a link to send along to each of my friends.


Jane January 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Thanks for such a great post – this is my first year doing project life and I am so excited, but a little daunted. I’ll be linking up to your Tuesday linkies for sure.
Now I need to go and get those photo files sorted out!


libbywilko January 15, 2013 at 5:24 pm

A great post Jessica, it was really helpful. I hope you are having success recovering all the data & photos off your hard drive.


Cerise January 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm

What a great post. Perfect for newbies and not so newbies.
Thanks again for doing this link up every week. It really helps keep me inspired.


Margaret January 15, 2013 at 7:37 pm

thanks so much for this post!!


Susan January 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

Do you buy project life albums from BH or buy just regular d-ring albums at local craft store? Do you fit your entire year in 1 album?


jessicaturner January 16, 2013 at 1:55 pm

For the past three years I have used the Becky Higgins albums. This past year I was not happy with the We R Memory Keepers album. I am happy that Becky is now working with American Crafts because I like their albums MUCH better. I plan to buy an American Crafts album at Michaels or JoAnns or Hobby Lobby when they are 50% off.

Last year I have 2 bulging albums. I really should have gone with three, but didn’t want to buy a third album. This year I am just going to plan on three (Jan-April; May-August; September-December) – that will give me plenty of room to do all the inserts that I want+ use thickers, etc. :)


Susan January 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thank you for the info!! I am doing my youngest’s baby album with the neutral baby kit this year and my other two kids have BIG albums for their first year. In the past, I have been a Creative Memories album girl but I want to make the switch to D-Ring albums because most of my scrapbooking is digital now. So, I will wait to purchase my album and watch for sales.


LauraP January 16, 2013 at 11:48 am

Anyone need a Baby Girl kit? I ordered one for my sister, but once I opened it, I realized that it would be too pink for her tastes. (she is going to LOVE the neutral kit, though!)
Anyway, since I opened it, I can’t return it, and I don’t have a use for it. My daughter already has a baby album, and my other child is a boy (can’t wait to use the boy kit for his stuff!!).

I would LOVE to sell this to someone who needs it. I only ask the actual cost that I paid on Amazon. I can ship for free from work, so no shipping charge. Email me at lauraprenkert(at)yahoo(dot)com if you are interested and we can work something out through PayPal.



Tiffany evans January 17, 2013 at 10:57 am

What kind of printer and paper do you use for your photos? Is this a separate printer than one for documents?


jessicaturner January 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm

While you certainly can print documents on this printer, I wouldn’t recommend it. It is meant for photos. I use Epson.


brooke January 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

It is so fun to read how others “do” Project Life, what they spend, etc. It is pretty easy to get stuck in a rut of your own way of doing things and nice to be reminded that there are options. :) Great post!


Kristin March 14, 2013 at 8:02 am

Thanks for the super helpful post! I’m thinking about switching over to Project Life. One thing that is holding me back are the recent bad reviews on Amazon. Multiple people have commented that the quality of the page protectors has gone way done. Can anyone comment on that?


jessicaturner March 14, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I wouldn’t say the quality has gone way down, although I have noticed that the size 3×4 pocket seems to be a little off on a recent pack of pages… I think production is being moved to American Crafts, so maybe it will get back up to 5 star. I really love the system though. The change is nothing significant enough to make me not want to do it.


Jenny April 24, 2013 at 6:25 am

This post has helped me SO much-thank you for taking the time to type all of that out! I don’t have photoshop…do you feel like I need to learn / purchase that before getting started? I’m concerned that I won’t be able to do all the different sizes and stuff. HELP, please!! :)


Sharon July 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

What kind of printer do you have?


C Hilden August 13, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Have you used the month dividers? If so, is there any chance of them fitting into a standard binder? I am looking to purchase them for a totally different project outside of memory keeping but I don’t want to waste my money if they are not going to fit. I appreciate your feedback!


jessicaturner August 14, 2013 at 5:27 am

Yes, I have used the month dividers and yes, they would work in a regular binder.


Manca May 20, 2014 at 6:52 am

Hi Jessica,
I’ve just ordered my first PL albums and cannot wait to get started. My main question before ordering photo prints though, is this: is 60 page-layouts per album the maximum you can “squeeze” in a PL album or can you insert more than that? My problem is that I have at least 500 photos per year that I want to include in PL…
Thanks so much and keep up the good job juggling :)
Best, Manca


Arianna September 15, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Hi Jessica,
Im in love with project life and I want to start soon with my first album for my boyfriend. Which edition would you recommend me for this ocassion? that for example have cute couple phrases and not too girly.
thank you in advance!


jessicaturner September 16, 2014 at 6:46 am

Seafoam and midnight are both pretty neutral!


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