My Project Life-inspired photo diary

My alternative to Project Life weekly photo diary and one sentence journal

To be honest, I lack the scrapbooking gene. But I am becoming aware of all these photos we’ve been taking of our children and the need to get them off the screen and into some sort of album.

I like the idea of Project Life, which is a system of scrapbooking using D-ring binders with slip-in photo protector pages. The thing I admire about it is that many people commit to making a layout every week, so that at the end of the year, they have an album with at least 52 pages. But while it looks simple and effective, I suspect it may not work for me, mainly because:

  • It seems expensive.
  • You can’t buy it in the shops here.
  • The binders look large and heavy. We live in a small house, and we don’t really have the room to store them (and all the supplies).
  • I don’t have a ‘scrap room,’ and in my house I just can’t spread out all the gear on the dining table.
  • While the idea seems simple, I think it must be time-consuming to get each page just right.
  • If you get behind for a few weeks, it must be stressful to catch up.

I’m very tempted to jump on board, but I really don’t want to make my life more complicated! I just want something that is easy to do and looks effective. So after much searching, I came up with my own alternative.

I’ve already been filling out Gretchen Rubin’s One Sentence A Day journal for about six months. This is an easy way to keep a journal, because even after the longest of days, I can still manage to write a sentence or two. But the longer I used that book, the more disappointed I became with it. That’s because it’s not my journal, it’s Gretchen’s. It’s full of quotes about her children, or from her favourite writers. I like this method of recording the daily moments, but I wanted to make something that’s more me.

Wonderful Friends Schedule Book 2014 Rakuten

The pen loop is really handy. The pen is from kikki.K.

So I found this super-cute diary in B6 size on Rakuten. It’s in a Week + Notes format. The left side I use for my one-sentence journal. And the right side I use to stick in photos with adhesive photo mounts. I’ve decided to produce one collage per week, like this one:

How to use PicMonkey for Project Life inspired weekly scrapbooking journaling

I made this using the Pinter-Etsy layout on PicMonkey.com.

So I only need to choose five to ten photos each week, throw them into a collage on PicMonkey, save them onto a flash drive and take them to a printing shop every few weeks. B6 is just the right size to take a 4×6 print.

Weekly Project Life inspired photo journal hybrid

The diary page does have a feint line down the centre, but it doesn’t show as much when I write in black ink.

Here’s what I love about this simple method:

  • B6 is a standard size for diaries. So after a few years they will look neat when lined up on the shelf.
  • It’s a small handy size, so I can carry it in my handbag to show friends and relatives. And if we go away, I can take it with me to keep up with the one-sentence-a-day journalling.
  • It’s cheap to do. The diary cost me about 2,500 Yen with shipping, and I had to pay $35 for the premium version of PicMonkey to create this kind of collage. I’m already familiar with PicMonkey so that was the easiest option for me. But I’m sure there are free photo editing services out there too.
  • I can email the weekly collage to interstate and overseas relatives to keep them in the loop with what’s been happening with the family.
  • If I do get behind with it, it’s not a big deal. I can just print one nice photo from that week, or go on with the next week’s layout.

In this diary, each page is decorated beautifully. So all I need to do is add my photos and it will look nice. But if I want to, I can add stamps, stickers, washi tape, Deco Rush and all manner of srappy goodness to it! Here are a few of my favourite pages from the book:

Okay, it’s not the same as Project Life. But it does have some of the elements of PL that I really like. It helps me keep the commitment to document weekly. It gives me a place to record the small moments as well as the big ones. But it’s far less overwhelming. Call it Project Life Lite.

If I were designing this as a product for sale, I would make it a bit differently. First it would be made of acid-free paper. The notes page would not be lined. And it would be spiral-bound or ring-bound so that the book could cope with the extra bulk. Also, the notes page would be on the left-hand side so you can write the journal part without having to write over the previous week’s photos.

To order your own Wonderful Friends 2014 Schedule Book

Rakuten is a Japanese online market place. Most of the site is machine-translated, but here is their English Support page. There are two sellers who stock this diary on Rakuten. Both responded to me in English within 24 hours when I asked them a question about stock availability:

However, any Week plus Notes diary will do for this project:

I’ve been doing this for five weeks now, so I can say that this project is achievable in a busy family. The thing I love about PL, and about this, is recognising that it’s not just the big events like birthdays and Christmases that should be documented and celebrated. Life is made up of many small, beautiful moments.

Mini Project Life style journal album

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6 thoughts on “My Project Life-inspired photo diary

    • Hi Sandy! PicMonkey is great for making quick collages and adding text to photos. You can actually do quite a lot with the free version too. Only just upgraded recently.

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    • I’m glad to hear that! Would love to see what you come up with! If you’d like me to share some photos of your book here on my blog, please let me know.

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