Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Echo Park and Project Life with Guest Designer Elissa Mantalas

I am so excited to be able to be a guest designer for CraftWarehouse.  I am going to be putting together a Project Life layout today.  I’m going to start with a little background on what Project Life is and why I love this project!

Project Life was created by Becky Higgins and you can read more about Project Life from her website here. (NEW Project Life 2013 Collection will be in Craft Warehouse stores at the end of May!)

I first heard about Project Life a couple years ago, but only started the project at the beginning of this year.  Project Life was created to simplify the memory keeping process – basically take the pre-made cards, the pocketed page protectors, some pictures and journaling and put it all together.  Project Life was designed to be done weekly so there are a lot of day to day bits of life included in the project.  I was drawn to the project, because I love the idea of documenting my everyday life and including little pieces of my life that would probably never make it to a scrapbook layout. 

The thing that is truly awesome about Project Life is that you can do it however you want.  There are absolutely no rules.  You can make it really simple by just adding the pictures, journaling and the pre-made cards to the pocketed page protectors, without scissors or glue and be done with it.  Or you can add embellishments, create mini scrapbook layouts in the pocketed page, or use the cards as ways to try out new techniques.  You can also decide to not add any journaling or limit the amount of photos you use.  Its all up to you!

I knew when I started this project at the beginning of the year that I wanted to keep this project simple. The simpler I keep it, the more likely I'll be able to stick with it and complete the whole year.    

Today I will be creating my layout using the Echo Park Photo Freedom Happy Go Lucky collection pack.  I love these kits from Echo Park because they include everything you need (and more) to create a weekly spread.  The pack includes five page protectors, a couple sheets of patterned paper, and a few sheets of paper that can be cut apart into cards that can be inserted in the pockets.  These collection packs make the Project Life process even more simple (which I didn't think was possible!). 

For this weekly spread, I will be using one page protector with 6 horizontal 4x6 pockets and one page protector that has 4 horizontal 4x6 pockets and 4 vertical 3x4 pockets. 

Step 1 is to select and layout the photos.
I print my photos at 3x4 and 4x6.  After I've trimmed my pictures and rounded the corners I start to lay down the pictures on top of the page protectors.  I don’t worry about putting them in any sort of order.  I just like to have the pictures balanced somewhat evenly on both sides.  
  • #1 & #14 – I will sometimes add text, using Picasa, to the picture before printing the picture.  #1 says “back to school” and #14 says “The CAVE of DOOM”
  • # 3 – I love these pink flowers that bloom every year and thought this was the perfect place to document it, since I would probably never make it a scrapbook page about it. 
  • #4 – I went to visit my grandma and had wanted to take a picture of us together, but she wasn't feeling well so I took a picture of her house instead.  Sometimes just be creative if you want a picture to document something. 
  • #13 – I really like to include pop culture/entertainment pieces – so maybe a book I’m reading, a movie I saw or a TV show I am really enjoying.  I may also include a big news story or maybe something from Facebook.  I think it’s fun to add these little details of everyday life that might be a big deal for a couple days but will easily be forgotten.  
  • #16 – Add pictures of YOU to your layouts.  This definitely isn't the best picture of me but when my son looks back at this album when he’s older, he won’t care what I looked like, he’ll just like that it’s a picture of the two of us.  PS – make sure you are take pictures of yourself
  • #18 – This was the week of the final game of the NCAA college basketball tournament.  So I scanned my bracket, cropped it to 4x6 and had it printed it out.  This is an example adding those daily activities into this project.  I have filled out a bracket every year for a long time, but have never scrapbooked about it, but now it’s documented in my project life!
Here are some pictures that I had printed out and chose not to include:
  • #1 – I dyed my hair so I took a picture of the box.  I chose not to include this because I figured I could just write a note on my journaling card.
  • #2 – My son is on a program at school and fills up these charts and earns a prize.  This is something could add to any week that I may be low on photos.
  • #3 – My son and niece wrestling.  I have multiple photos of them wrestling and have done scrapbook pages and included them wrestling in previous weeks so this was a no brainer to cut.
  • #4 – I've been watching a lot of scrapbook process videos on youtube.  Since I do this every week – I could add this picture a week that I am low on photos.
  • #5 – I already have a picture of my niece with her cake.  If I was low on photos, I would probably have included this picture, but I didn't need it, so I cut it.
  • #6 – My son with a new toy.  Again, if I was low on pictures I would have included it, but there were other pictures that I liked better, so I cut this one.
  • #7 – I created this for my Facebook page and want to include it eventually, but again, its general so it could be included any week that I am low on pictures.  
Step 2 is to add anything that I know for sure I want to include on the layout.  

  • #2 – Every week I do a weekly title card that I put in the same pocket. 
  • #8 – I moved my bracket from pocket #18 to pocket #8 just because I thought it looked a little better.
  • #10 – It was my nieces birthday so I created a little embellished card using stickers from the sticker sheet. 
  • #17 – This was the week that Annette Funicello passed away, so when I saw this card with a quote from her, I knew I had to use it this week.  
  • #5 – At times there might be some journaling that I don’t want to be easily accessible so I will create a pocket to hide the journaling. 
    • To create a journal pocket:
      • Cut two different papers – one at 3x4 and one 3x3.25
      •  Adhere the smaller piece to the larger piece on three sides, leaving the top open.  You can use glue, staples, adhesive, sew or whatever else you’d like to adhere the two pieces together. 
      • Cut a plain piece of paper that you can journal on to 2.5x3.  Cut out a tab and adhere it to the piece of the journaling paper. 
      • Slide the journal piece in to the pocket to make sure it slides in and out okay, and then add your journaling. 
Step 3 is to fill in any open pocket with patterned paper or cards.

  • #6, #12 – I added in filler cards that I cut out of the paper.  I absolutely love patterned paper so I love to just include plain pieces of the patterned paper in the pockets. 
  • #18 – I changed the patterned paper from the floral print to this patterned with the days of the weeks.

Last step is to embellish, journal, make any changes and add any final touches.  The sticker sheet in the collection pack makes the embellishment really easy. 
  • #6 – I changed the card and added a sticker and done.
  • #7 – I liked the photo frames on the 4x6 sheet from the 4x6 piece, so I cut it down to 3x4 to fit in the pocket I was using and cropped down the picture of my nephew.
  • #8 – I actually added the sticker to the outside of the page protector just for something different.
  • #9 – I cut the little logo “happy go lucky” from the barcode strip and added it to the picture of my niece. 
  • #15 – I changed my journaling card and added my journaling.  I made the card out of the bottom of this paper:
  • #16 – Just added a little sticker. 
Here is the final layout, up close.

Some final thoughts:
  • There’s some talk about the idea of “staying up to date.”  So far, I have stayed pretty current week by week, but I know that if I do get behind, my plan is to just start from the most recent week forward, and if I have time, I will go back to “catch up.”  There’s no reason to give up on the project because you miss a couple weeks.  Looking back on the album in 10 years, you and your family will love the weeks you completed, even if there are a couple weeks missing here and there. 
  • This project is all about what you want to do with it.  There is endless inspiration out there, but don’t feel pressure that you “have” to do it a certain way.  I see a lot of people including receipts, or packages or clothing tags in their project life.  I don’t want to include those things and so I don’t.  I see people using a variety of photo sizes as well as Instagram photos.  I stick with primarily the two sizes because its easiest for me. 
  • I’ve shared with you what my process is.  I want to stress that this is what works for me and this is how I like to do it.  It’s not right or wrong it just is my way.  If there are things you like about my process, use it for yours.  If there are things you would change, change it for you!!!
Thanks so much for reading this post.  I hope this inspires you to try your own project life. 


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