Friday, April 12, 2013

2013 Project Life April Blog Hop | My Process

I'm so excited to be participating in Margie's 2013 Project Life Blog Hop!  I shared my week 13 layout on Tuesday, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to post some information on my process and some of the things I've learned since I started Project Life a year ago.  This is a very word-heavy post, but I've also included a ton of links and some pictures to (hopefully) explain what I'm talking about!

As I've shared my albums over the last year, I felt kind of inadequate when I didn't have any cool techniques or tips or tricks to share with my readers.  More and more my pages were primarily just photos and journaling.  I like ephemera and embellishments, but I've found that since I don't have a craft station set up, it's easier for me to minimize the stuff I include in my album.  And I've decided that that's ok. One of my favorite things about my PL albums (besides pictures of my cute kids) is just day-to-day pictures.  The photos of the little things - toys, drinks, food, technology, prices, grocery carts.  And I LOVE that getting into Project Life has given me an opportunity to improve my photography.  Not Photography 101, like understanding exposure or the rule of thirds, but looking at things differently and learning to tell a story with the picture.

So, having said that,  here's a little bit about my SIMPLE process and the method to my madness.

My Planning Notebook 

I learned last year that I like to work with Design A and Design B page protectors.  If I alternate those two, I have a nice balance of horizontal and vertical pictures.  So I designed and printed planning sheets, double-sided and alternating between the two.  I then had them bound at Staples for about $3.  Now I have this handy planner notebook that I can work from.  (Note: There are several planning options available.  Last year I worked with Marcy Penner's downloads, and this year she's offered a different format.)

Since I focus on pictures and journaling, my process is pretty simple.  I take almost all of my pictures with my iPhone, so my first step is to go through my camera roll and decide which pictures I want to use and what sizes.  I fill all that in on my planning pages.

Next I fill in the spots I want to be journaling cards.  To do that, I pull up my Line-a-Day 5-Year Journal.  I go through the week and see what items I journaled that I want to be sure to include in the album.  This is usually big world events or funny things Lincoln said.  The stories that don't have pictures, or stories that need to be told about pictures I'm including.

Any spots that are left I mark for filler cards.  For filler cards I like to either use freebies from the web or just a nice piece of scrapbooking paper.  I've chosen to do PL without a core kit, but I like to buy the coordinating paper.  I've purchased Clementine and Seafoam, and I can't wait to add Jade to the mix.

Next comes formatting, for both pictures and journaling.  

Editing Pictures

I'll go through and edit my pictures, add captions, and crop to either 3x4 or 4x6.  If I'm on the go or at work, I can do all of that on my iPhone or iPad.  If I'm at home, I'll usually pull it up on my laptop and do that with PhotoShop Elements.  On my iPhone, Snapseed is my #1 editing program.  The color correction and adjustments to brightness, contrast, and saturation are often all I really need.  I've also discovered that I like really light pictures, so I love the Drama/Bright 1 filter on Snapseed or one of the AfterLight filters.  I also like to include a b&w picture or two, and the Black &White/Bright filter in Snapseed is good.  Sometimes I'll pull it into Simply B&W.  In PSE, my go-to actions are Erin Cobb's actions.   My go-to apps are Camera+, Snapseed, Phonto, and PicFrame.

Editing Journaling Spots

When I first started my album last year, I was so excited to include my handwriting in my journaling.  But as I worked on my layouts over the year, I came to an unexpected conclusion: it turns out that while I love my handwriting, I don't love it in my album.  In my album, I like the clean lines of simple fonts (Corbel and Bebas Neu for 95%, to be precise).  Go figure.   

So most of my journaling is done in Word.  To start, I open up a word document and format solid-colored shape boxes for each of the journaling spots.  I add text boxes on top of those and just copy and paste the journaling from my line-a-day journaling. I edit as needed and "embellish" the cards slightly.  I've learned that I prefer fairly simple, geometric journaling cards.  Every now and then I'll use a free journaling card (and there are a LOT out there), but I've found I often prefer the plainer options of just a circle or a thick border.  

(Week 4 Journaling - In Progress)

Completing the Album Spread

Now I just print my pictures and journaling and cut to size with my paper cutter.  Last year I rounded my corners, and this year I chose to leave them square.  I put those into the slots I marked on my planning page and then choose filler cards or paper to coordinate.  

And that's it!  Pretty simple, usually, but of course there are exceptions.  Sometimes I'll print my journaling intending to cut a small strip of paper to staple to a picture.  And I felt pretty accomplished the day I broke out my vellum to use.

Here are some of my favorite spreads from this year:

 (Week 1 - With 2 Freebies!)

 (Week 3)

(Week 7 - With Freebie!)

 (Week 8)

 (Week 11)

Thanks for reading!  I'd love to hear feedback!  Next head on over to see what Sonia's sharing today:

And if you want to visit the rest of the stops on the Blog Hop, here is the full list:

Kelli (<<< you are here)
Sonia (<<< go here next)


  1. You are so organized. :) I love it.

  2. Beautiful pages! Journaling certainly saves the day for me when I sit down on Saturdays to work on my layouts!

  3. Love your album! It is so clean but has a nice graphic touch. I just downloaded snapseed to check it out too.


    1. Thanks, Kristy! I think you will love snapseed! Definitely an amazing app.

  4. I love hearing about your process. Fantastic pages. I love your style! Thanks for joining the blog hop.

  5. I like the graphic nature of your album. Great job!

  6. Cool pages, I like your style. I agree about editing the pics and the handwriting I do mine in Word too, need to add some fancy blocks like you got on here. tfs

  7. Great to see your process Kelli.

  8. I've had Snapseed for ages and never used it because I was overwhelmed. Just simple mention of one filter that you like was an entry point into exploring. It's really fun! And so much simpler than doing those kinds of adjustments in Photoshop. Wow, and I just checked out Phonto and Picframe which look great, too. Your layouts are fantastic, so clean and nicely designed. You have a wonderful aesthetic.

    1. Oh, yay! So glad I could help! It is a LOT easier than PhotoShop. I actually just switched some out that I had done in PSE for ones I redid in Snapseed because the Photoshop ones were still too dark. And thanks so much!