Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



an inspiring story of scrapbooking past events

Raise your hand if you feel like you have some “catching up” to do with your scrapbooking.

I totally get it. And so does Kelli, a customer who recently shared her experience with us. She uses Project Life for documenting the here & now and is keeping up with that, but she has been sitting on pictures from a long travel experience that still needed to get into an album. In her own words …


My Need. I wanted to create a scrapbook of my study abroad experience in Europe. I wanted to actually print pictures (taken in 2004!), use journaling I had done during the trip and eliminate a box of stuff I had kept. I have been too overwhelmed by this project to complete it for 8 years! I recently realized I could use Project Life page protectors and envelopes to capture this experience. Project Life gave me the versatility to bring everything together without it taking years and costing a lot of money. I truly think this is memory keeping at its best – a mix of everything worth saving in one cohesive, easy-to-do album.

My Approach. I began this project by pulling together all of the pieces related to my travel experience, including:
Memorabilia – coins, postcards, etc
Letters – cards and notes I received while abroad
Emails – those I wrote and those I received  (I did not blog at this time, but if I did, I would have also pulled material from my blog)

I set up an iPhoto library dedicated to the study abroad event. I organized my photos by event. Then, on paper using a sketch book, I began to “marry” the photos and all of the other pieces with Project Life page protectors by event (essentially as I would have for traditional scrapbooking layouts). This approach was possible because of the many different options of plastics now available. For example, on my title page, I knew I wanted to include a photo of me on the day I left for London and my airplane tickets. I also had a long piece of journaling to include. I figured out that a 6×12 page protector was best for the journaling, given its length. I thought that Design A of the Project Life plastics worked because of the tickets. Where I had extra spots to fill, I worked in a digital elements and patterned paper, or memorabilia that would fit anywhere.

For other events, I had more vertical photos than horizontal photos, so I would go with Design B. I had a newspaper article I had saved in one instance and it perfectly fit within Design E. This was the longest piece of the process because of the many things I wanted to include and because I needed to match the page projectors between multiple layouts (if I used Design A for the right side of one layout, I had to use it for the left side of the next layout).

After I had the design completed, I ordered my photos, and printed off the digital elements I wanted to use. I cut up the tickets I wanted to use and printed the emails and other items on the computer. Finally, I slipped everything into the page projectors by following my design sketches.

My Supplies. I completed this album using primarily what I already had on hand. I have to admit, I was tempted to go buy all new papers and kits. I was so glad I did not do this in the end, because so few supplies were actually needed to complete this album. Paper – Becky Higgins (Project Life Turquoise Edition – it happened to match!), Digital Elements – Ali Edwards via DesignerDigitals.com, Photoshop Elements, 3×4 Grid Cards – Becky Higgins (I used these up from previous kits).

Two other notes.

1. I decided to use my handwriting rather than printing out journaling cards, simply because it was faster and I knew I could spend a lot of time in making sure the printing was perfect.

2. I used Photoshop Elements to combine all of the non-standard photos into 4×6 or 12×12 print sizes. This allowed me to more easily order the prints, which I did via Persnickety Prints and Shutterfly.

I truly think this is memory keeping at its best – a mix of everything worth saving in one cohesive, easy-to-do album.  – Kelli










Do you have a Project Life success story to share? We would LOVE to see what you’ve been able to do with your pictures and memories using this system. Email submissions@beckyhiggins.com and tell us all about it. Be sure to include pictures of your pages – and even parts of the process if you have pictures of that too!


33 Responses

  1. wendy puckett says:

    I just LOVE the way she used the divided pages for her 12×12 photos! What a genius idea! I spend too much time trying to make things fit, and it was simple all along! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Colleen H says:

    Awesome! Thanks for the inspiration because this is exactly what I’ve been thinking about doing with all the pictures I have from living in Japan!!!

  3. Sierra says:

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve got a year-long exchange in Guatemala from 1997 that I keep meaning to work on too. Pinned this for inspiration when I finally get all my printed pictures in order (pre-digital and I still have a shoebox stuffed full). *sigh* Baby steps. :-)

  4. Jacqueline R says:

    Thank you so much for sharing, Kelli! I have lots of “catching up” to do as well…and I love seeing inspiration. Is there any chance you have a blog so that we can see more of your work?

  5. janet k says:

    This book is fantastic! I love it. Since starting PL last year, I have wanted to do all my albums in this form.

  6. Kelli Ertel says:

    Hi Everyone – Thank you for your kind comments! This project was a complete joy to do, and I am honored Becky shared it here on her blog.

    I’ve put some additional photos of this album, as well as several of my other Project Life albums, on my blog at http://kelliwalsh.typepad.com. Thanks again!

  7. Danielle says:

    LOVE this post! I also studied abroad in 2009 and am planning on using project life to FINALLY get an album made with all of my photos and memorabilia! Your layouts and ideas have for sure sparked some inspiration :) Thanks!

  8. Beth says:

    This is so wonderful and inspiring! Thanks for sharing!

  9. Jennifer says:

    Love it! I have an exchange trip to Spain from 20 years ago that I would like to put into an album like this. Thanks for the inspiration!

    My problem now is trying to figure out what to do with the photos (all before we were digital) that were all printed in the standard 3×5 of that time.

    • Amanda S says:

      Why don’t you mount them on 4×6 cardstock? It would leave a small space for some journaling too

  10. Cindy says:

    Thanks for sharing! Love it! She surely has a treasure now!

  11. Sarah says:

    Kelli, how on earth did you do that beautiful 12 x 12 picture cut into sections? That is breathtaking! I only have an 8 x 11-1/2 printer, but it never occurred to me to do this. I have a beautiful photo of the North Shore of Minnesota. I’m thinking now to take it to Kinkos, have it blown up to a 12 x 12, and then cut it for the page protector. Thanks a lot for the inspiration!


  12. Wow — this is fabulous. I spent 9 months in Lithuania back in 1995-96, and while my photos (all pre-digital) are (mostly) in an album, all of the stories and memorabilia are scattered in various boxes and filing cabinets with nothing to tie them together. I would love to get them all together, and this looks like a great approach. Thank you, Kelli, for sharing your project!


  13. Jenny says:

    I lived in Mesa, AZ as an exchange student in 2003/04 and I am working on my PL album for that right now, this post has definitely been an inspiration to me as it seriously is a huge struggle to put all the photos, journaling and memorabilia toghether. Guess I should try out ‘page planning’ :)

  14. Astrid says:

    Great idea! I love the photo mosaic idea! I’m currently trying to work on 2012 and 2013 using digital project life. I’m wondering- does anyone have any ideas on how to incorporate memorabilia into digital scrapbooks? We have done a LOT of traveling this past year (hello, moving to China!) and I’m hanging on to all kinds of memorabilia that will end up in the trash soon if I don’t figure out what to do with all of it!
    Becky, thank you, thank you, thank you for creating digital project life! It’s given me a creative outlet that I desperately needed! Bonus- our life in China will be documented!

    • J3SS1C4 says:

      Astrid, I’m doing digital for my PL this year, and I’m including some memorabilia by scanning it in, and other bits in smaller sized page protectors between the main pages.

      So that I’m not constantly having to scan stuff, I just leave a blank spot on my template with a quick note as to what I’m scanning in there, and keep the stuff to scan next to my scanner so I can do a few weeks worth at once.

    • Kelli Ertel says:

      One more quick idea in addition to scanning – you could also snap photos of your memorabilia and include those photos in your digital album. Good luck!

    • Ali says:

      I’ve had photobooks printed, and added in a pocket at the back for my memorabilia using foam tape and cardstock!

  15. J3SS1C4 says:

    Thank you for sharing, I love this post! I went to Europe in 2010 with my partner, best friend and his girlfriend. We took so many photos between us (I think around 25,000 in 9 weeks!) and I well know how it feels to be overwhelmed by it! I brought a turquoise kit almost 2 years ago to make an album for the trip, and still haven’t even opened up the folders of photos!! I might make this a project I start undertaking when I have leave at the end of the month, since I now have this inspiration!

  16. kat-in-texas says:

    I just need to get started!!! Love the kits!!!

  17. Tiffany H. says:

    So very cool to see how others are using the PL system for “old” projects! Thanks for sharing.

  18. Charlene says:

    Love this idea, I too have lots of holiday photos and memorabilia and love to scrapbook them. It usually takes a long time. This is one of the reasons I also bought PL…hoping I can scrap so much quicker and do normal every day fun things of my kids and family life. I hope we have somewhere here in Australia I can get 12 x 12 photo printed….

    • Amanda S says:

      Charlene. Harvey Norman prints 12×12 photos. Have you found our Project Life Australia group on Facebook. Just search for us

  19. Stephanie Baxter says:

    Such a great story of how PL continues to be an amazing solution for so many people in their memory keeping! I love the end result…what an awesome album to have :)

  20. Robin Gibson says:

    SO excited to see this! I have been thinking of doing something just like this, with different trips, times/events from our past, that as of yet, has not made it into the scrapbooks. I’m going to take this approach…Project Life it, and for the layouts that I wanted to spend extra time on, or do something ultra creative with, then I can, and they can go in other 12×12 books I have. Easy. SO EXCITED now to get started! Got to get to picture printing now:) THANKS BECKY!

  21. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing! It must feel so good for you to have that accomplished!


  22. cara says:

    I am so inspired by this!!! I, too, have a box of pics and memorabilia from a trip to Europe! I started to traditionally scrapbook it 8 years ago, but didn’t get far. project life- of COURSE! thanks so much for sharing this.

  23. Amanda S says:

    I have do far documented 2 overseas trips using PL it makes it so easy to plan and print photos and slip in memorabilia. People laughed at me on my last trip in Sept as I kept saying “I need this for my PL” hahaha

  24. laura g. says:

    wow! love the album! Love the large 12×12 photo, but i think it’s a shame (and time consuming) to cut it up into pieces to fit into a PL page protector. so that gave me the idea to leave mine whole, and on the other side just use the page protector as a template and stick my photos to the page just like it. gives it some continuity. thanks for the encouragement!

  25. Heatherle says:

    I did the same thing for out Tokyo Disney trip — 400 pics and a bunch of papers. Turned out really well and I am now excited to add the next Disney stuff right in the same album, with a divider between. Might even toss in the other three Disney trips – – – and a future cruise!

  26. Mindy says:

    That is such an adorable little gift idea. I’m off to check out your friends site, soon as I’m done.
    I just love the idea about documenting an entire trip like that. I suppose I’d have to actually do something like that. LOL Everything I do is just my normal everyday life. :)

    Have a lovely day!