Project Life 2014, Week One

Cathy ZielskeProject Life71 Comments


I know I haven't posted the final few weeks of 2013 and rest assured, they are done and ready for viewing, but you know how the new year starts and you're just ready for, well, the new stuff?

Yes, that.

I'm going fully digital for Project Life in 2014. No, I'm not going to become a fully digital scrapbooker. Maybe you've noticed, but when it comes to digital, aside from the technical stuff, I'm not really that savvy of a scrapbooker. I know how to put photos down. I know how to put text down. I know how to add a few digital stamps here and there. But when it comes to layering stuff and making digital magic, that's not really in my wheelhouse.

I still like my adhesive. And my X-acto knife. And my dining room/scrap room. I like seeing things printed out. I like type on cardstock. That hasn't changed for me. There's still a certain giddiness that goes all the way back to when I first started making pages back in 2001. You know the feeling, right? When you walk by the page you just finished and all you can think is, "That's freaking ADORABLE!" It's not arrogant people. It's just embracing the love you have for the craft. Period. Your page and my page my be worlds apart stylistically, but this hobby requires full blown subjectivity. If you love it, that's all that matters.

Part of what I know how to do is show people how to design stuff. I know how to show you what great typography looks like. But beyond that, I'm like you: I scrapbook because by and large it just makes me happy and it fills a need I feel in my very skin to record the life I'm living. Mostly I do this for me. Yes, I hope future generations will find it interesting that I wore a bee costume every year of my life. Yes, I hope my children see their unique stories and remember. But this hobby fills a very specific need in me.

I don't compare myself to others in this process. Where's the fun in that? I'm not whimsical. I'm not all that crafty. I can't heat emboss worth shit.

But I can save my stories in a way that makes me happy.

This year, for Project Life, the digital process will make this simpler. I have one template set (for now) and I'm going to keep it simple. Yes, I may switch up the look somewhat here and there, but by and large what I want for 2014 is simplicity.

That's my intention for this year and this project.

Here is my title page:


This year, I'm using a new template set, one with more white space and squared corners. This set comes with thin outlines on each layer mask. They can be turned off if not needed or desired. I decided to try leaving some on and some off on my title page. Part of why I wanted the outlines was so I could have pure white backgrounds on some of the cards, rather than having to put a digital paper into their respective backgrounds.


The outlines are set to the inside of the photo masks, so they line up pixel perfect with the images, even when the outlines are turned off.

But but for Week 1, I am experimenting with leaving them all on. Here are my pages for the first week of 2014:


Each week, I'm going to put a Week Circle onto the photo in the upper left slot. I'll screen back the photo to around 40%, give or take. (To change the opacity of an image, just click on its layer mask and change the number in the Opacity Slider found at the top of the Layers Palette.) I like the effect this has. This doesn't mean that each week's circle will be orange, but it gives me a way to note each week consistently.

These templates have a journal spot built into the file, so again this year I'll summarize each week in the upper right slot.


Other than that, I plan to drop simple text lines over photos as needed using my favorite free font, Bariol, which I used to design a lot of my new minimal products.

Note: the top two photos on this page are actually a panoramic shot taken on my iPhone. I just merged the two layer masks together, then clipped the panoramic into them. Just a slice of teen, plugged in life over Christmas break.

I should mention that every photo for Week 1 was taken with my iPhone 5. I have become so dependent on it for documenting the visuals. I think my DSLR camera is feeling a little neglected. To read more about all the stuff I use in this whole memory-keeping, photo process, click here.)

Here are the pages side by side:


I know it's a little tiny, but it gives you the airy feel of what these pages will look like.

Note: for any of these images, if you want to see them larger, just click on them. I'm saving most images at 800 pixels for better viewing size.

And how will I produce the final album? That remains to be seen. I still love the idea of just sending my pages to Persnickety Prints and putting the 12 x 12 prints into a traditional album, which would also let me drop a little ephemera into some Project Life envelope pages. Or, I may get a book printed, which was really my initial plan. As of today, I'm not sure where I'll do it, but I'll certainly keep you posted.

I plan to continue sharing my pages as I continue this process of documenting daily life. I have set up a system that works for me and keeps the stress out of this work. (Read this post to learn how I prepared for 2014.)

If I feel like changing colors or fonts as I go, then so be it. This project can grow, flex and change as needed.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.



All Brush sets are on sale for 30% off now through January 10. You can browse all of my brushes and digital stamp files here.




Project Lifeβ„’ is a system created by Becky Higgins. To learn more about this approach to saving your memories, click here.

Cathy ZielskeProject Life 2014, Week One

71 Comments on “Project Life 2014, Week One”

  1. #1

    Happy first week of PL 2014, love the colors and the title page! I have to be honest and say I will miss your paper PL but also know and understand it’s whatever makes you happy that counts. The stories this first week are good ones too, was curious how much of your class would be in here. I’m putting a little each week into my PL too.

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring as always!

  2. #2

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve been waiting! πŸ™‚ I completed my title pg but wanted to see how you were treating the ‘inside’ pages. Thanks for keeping it simple. Using your minimal set too but in 8.5×11 format.

    Cheers to a new year!

  3. #3

    Somehow all the white space and non-rounded corners makes the perk into your week feel even more intimate. Absolutely love this and can’t wait to jump start my 2014 album this weekend.

  4. #4

    “I can save my stories in a way that makes me happy.” A-to-the-men! That’s what it’s all about. I haven’t done anything for/with P.L. for 2014 yet — I have 2.5 months of 2013 to do and feel the need to not leave that in the dust. But I’m figuring out new ways of being organized that will cut down on the time commitment while still making me happy. Having the iPhone will be a great boon because we’re taking way more pictures. Even if I don’t use a lot of them, they help me remember what we did. Happy New Year! πŸ™‚

  5. #5

    Your pages look great, very refreshing. I love your idea of simplicity. This will be my first year of PL. I did the 365 photo scrapbook the first year it was offered (2009?) and I liked it but it burned me out. Since then I have just been doing my traditional scrapbooks, a combination of paper, hybrid, digi, as the mood moves me. I decided to jump into PL this year, because I also have a high school senior at home, and I’m hoping to get more ordinary daily photos of him. I’m using the paper PL, but I envision myself progressing to what you are doing in the future. Thinking about how to keep it simple and sustainable. I do love this hobby, it just makes me happy to see my completed pages.

  6. #6

    Very cool! Love the colors and the design is right up my alley. I’m still a hybrid girl at heart.

  7. #7

    Oh I love these!!! Beautiful square corners and the option of a border! I loved these templates so much that I decided to chuck my already completed Week one and go with yours instead.
    Then I went to DD to buy them, only to see that they still don’t accept Paypal. After four unsuccessful attempts to use my cc, I gave up. I know this isn’t your problem and there’s nothing you can do. I talked to customer service last year and they said they were “working on it”. That bums me out. I really really want these templates. I want to give you my money!
    Okay, enough ranting.
    Printing your PL pages in a book has advantages and disadvantages. I did it that way for awhile, but I got so impatient to see something tangible for all my hard work that I went to individual pages. But if you can wait, a finished book in your hands is a wonderful feeling. It might make you so happy that you to carry it around so you can show it to every random person you meet though. Not that I ever did that or anything…

  8. #8

    Love this SO much!! I am considering the whole white space thing and it tempts me. The only problem is that digital PL is the only scrapbooking I do and I have SO much pretty digital paper I want to use up πŸ™‚ I am going with Bariol as my journaling font this year – thanks!!

  9. #9

    Above and beyond all that scrappy stuff. . .you girls DO ROCK the royal icing. Beautiful cookies. I need to make a note to do practice run in Nov. (I asked for your recipe last Christmas but only had time to rush through the frosting–no pretty stuff.)

  10. #10

    Dawn, honestly? I do miss it too. Which is why I need to make some more either album projects that are more traditional, or single layouts. : )

  11. #12

    Jen, sorry youre having issues. Did you contact Designer Digitals about the credit card issue? I know they dont take PayPal, but surely someone can help you with the sets? Let me know!

  12. #13

    Im going to do a post in November, to remind people if they want the info, I got it. Plus, I bought this thing called The Cookie Thing, and hoo boy! It makes rolling out even dough a snap!

  13. #14

    Yes, Audrey! I wanted to just keep finding ways to make it something I would do every week and now, something that would take up less space. I dont have a scrapbook room to fill up with albums. I have one cabinet in my dining room and its totally full. So, the idea of doing books going forward has a big appeal to me. : )

  14. #15

    I think I’ll try digital, too, this year! But besides that… what is your sugar cookie recipe? They look like they cut out and held up perfectly? Did you use The Cookie Thing and their recipe? They do look pretty awesome!

  15. #16

    I’m a little behind things in that I just got an iphone and I want to start using instagram. If you have a minute, could you give me a quick tutorial on how you use it? I’ve read several things and watched a few you tube videos, but I thought it would be easier to have instructions from a fellow scrapbooker because I will be using it in a similar way. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much!

  16. #18

    Hi Cathy – what size font are you using for your journaling? I’m always concerned I will make mine too tiny, so that it’s hard to read when printed. Thanks for sharing!

  17. #19

    I remember when I got your first Clean and Simple book. It was so liberating and affirming. I was so happy to give away all that stuff I thought I had to put on my pages. I have a friend who makes the most lovely mini books and pages. So many layers and cool ephemera. Me trying that? It looks like product vomit every time. I love my clean and simple pages. They make me happy. And so does looking at others who do it differently. I’m all paper all the time but am thinking 2014 may be the year I dip my toe into some digital. Thanks for sharing your voice.

  18. #20

    Hi Cathy
    This might be a silly question, but I’m kinda new to digital layouts and templates. I love the new templates and wondered if they are12x12 from white edge to white edge and the photo sizes are smaller ratios of 4×6 and 3×4 or is the border just for posting purposes? Thanks

  19. #22

    Darlene, they are 12 x 12, and the layer masks ratio matches up to 6 x 4 and 3 x 4 almost exactly, just a tiny, tiny bit off, if that answers your question. You just have to size your images/elements down a bit to fit. The border around the edge is just for posting. There is no border on the background outer layer. : )

  20. #23
    Anne Marie

    I love the new Life Basics minimal look! I saw it a couple of days ago on DD and was wondering what the main differences were, and now I know. Thanks!

    I also saw your calendar stamp, are you planing on making one were weeks start with Monday? (*please*?)

  21. #26

    Kia Ora from New Zealand. Just a couple of questions unrelated to your post or even PL. Ever since you posted about BLURB and showed a couple of books you’ve made and since you’re style is something I adore (envy), I’ve been wanting to ask you for quite some time regarding your digital templates. My hubby and I courted by email (and heaps of phone calls between the States and NZ). I printed off our emails but would love to enjoy them in book form. Is there anyway you’d design a Designer Digital template in your beautiful style that would look like email headings? I could then recreate my emails and hubby’s emails in a template and have them printed into a BLURB book. Additionally, I already have your Designer Digitals recipe template (8.5 x 5.5), but wonder if you have plans to create a PL size template for recipes that would fit in the 6×8 albums of Becky Higgins or the SNAP albums? I’ve finally gotten around to asking because it can’t hurt to ask, right? xo

  22. #28

    Wow, all good requests! I hadnt thought of doing a new recipe album, but I sure could create a 6 x 8 one, like my original set.

    Not sure about the email template. Thats a very specific thing, in terms of how different email clients look. For example, I know what Mac Mail looks like, because I use a Mac. But let me think on how I could do that. : ) Are you pretty digitally savvy? Because maybe it could be part of a brush set and you add that brush to your own page (if its 6 x 8 or something) and then its good to go.

    I too was wooed by mail. 25 years ago. Sigh. I have all the letters in an old suitcase. : )

  23. #29

    Hi Cathy!

    Would love to see the minimal products first page set as a PDF for us PSE challenged folks. These designs are just so freah and happy and I would love to make my title page with your designs just like my 2013 book started!

    πŸ™‚ Janis

  24. #30

    I didnt think to do them in printable PDF! I guess because my color scheme might not appeal to everyone. Maybe I can put together a few options of colors and repackage them!

  25. #31

    I love it that you have a plan – that is what I need! I some how have to figure out a plan so that it takes minimal time if time is short. That’s when I fall short and then it all falls apart. Practice makes perfect.

  26. #32
    Karen Freeman

    Hmmm I see a album theme in this post… Out of the suitcase and into a little hybrid number. Just a thought.

  27. #33

    I LOVE your simple templates!! No rounded corners and shadow effects for me, please πŸ™‚ Buying right now!

    Please keep the minimal products coming! I would especially love 3×4 filler cards (minimal look!) that I could use each week to but with a text layer we could manipulate. You set the font, we change the letters and sizing?

  28. #35

    Hi Cathy, another question about the new minimal templates – do you see any issues with using a PL branded digital core kit with rounded corners, with your minimal, square cornered template? Would I have to make so many adjustments that it would slow down the process?

  29. #37

    You might have converted me to the Zielske PL concept, I love those designs. I’m still not sold on the every week thingy, but I’m thinking I might buy your designs from DD and use them for a monthly spread, which would meet my style a bit more. If the design is for 12 x 12, can it be sized to fit an 8 x 8 spread or a 6 x 6 spread or would you lose too much of the detail? Thanks Cathy

  30. #41

    Carol, you would have to adjust the cards to fit. So yes, when you clipped them in, you wouldnt size them down fully to fit. Personally, I dont mind adjusting my cards when Im dropping them in, but I can understand how that would not be enjoyable for others!

  31. #42

    Karen, monthly would be super do-able. Now, on the sizing down, 8 x 8 would get small, with all that white space. But if you did size to 8 x 8, you would want to go back to the journal block and change the type size back UP, so it wouldnt be too small. I think 6 x 6 would be too small. : )

  32. #43

    Love this Cathy – Thanks for sharing this! I have decided to use your life basics templates this year since I’m going completely digital and planning on printing a book at the end of the year. I bought your life basics set one. I do love the life basics minimal too. Can you tell me the main difference between them? I like the extra white space and the squared corners of the minimal set. Is there a drop shadow around the photos in the regular set vs. just a thin line for an outline in the minimal set? I use lots of white space in my photos and journaling cards so I’m trying to decide what will look better as a printed page. I might just have to buy the minimal set and print a page from each set to help me decide…

  33. #44

    The differences are wider margins around the photo content, square corners versus rounded corners, and no drop shadows on the Minimals. : ) Plus, a journal block is dropped into two of the minimals so you can summarize your week. : )

  34. #45

    Awesome Cathy! Funny thing while cleaning up my scrap space and bought a new bookcase for all my albums, I kinda want to scrap again. Not sure if it will happen but just seeing those albums sitting there so pretty now they seem to be calling me.
    I can’t wait to see what your pages!

  35. #46

    I’ve been considering switching to digital this year and after seeing this, I’m sold. This is fabulous and exactly what I’ve been looking for! Purchasing and downloading your template set now. Thanks as always for the inspiration!

  36. #48

    Cathy, I’ve been waiting to see your first week and it looks terrific! I am using your new template this year too and I love taht you’ve made the corners square! Between More More and your digi-products I owe a lot of my current inspiration to you. If you want to see my pages, they can be found here:

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  37. #50

    Hi Cathy – I love your pages & especially your digital products. The clean & simple cards are gorgeous. I would love to see a set with additional shapes beyond the interior square: circle, heart, octagon, etc. Not sure if that aligns with your design concepts. But I’d definitely buy that kit.

  38. #53
    kristen @ verbs and vignettes

    cathy, i just adore your designs. i am not all about going digital right now, but project life is the only scrappy project i do. and, it’s still tough not to get swallowed up by the process and crafting supplies taking over in my apartment. the white space design is amazing. so clean! and i’m sort of missing square corners in my life. (talk about a dweeb. who says that?)

  39. #54

    Hi Cathy, Love the Life Basics templates. I bought them yesterday and the clean white look is beautiful. Will you be adding more designs? Nearly all of my photos are square and I was wondering if you might add some templates with more square configurations to the range?

  40. #55

    This is the setting from PS, but you can get almost the same setting in PSE (I design using the full PS):

    Blend Mode: Multiply

    Opacity: 50

    Angle: 135

    Distance: 5

    Spread: 0

    Size: 12

    Use Global Light. (a full PS option)

  41. #57

    Thanks for your purchase.

    I should try to add another set, with more squares. I know that presently there is only one template in the 12 x 12 set that features all squares. One thing you can do is combine squares, by enlarging their sizes and then merging those layers into one big layer. But yes, I will add that to my to do list. f

  42. #60

    Thank you for replying! (Jan 08, 2014 at 5:19) I’m not at all digital savy. The tutorials you provide are pretty much my go to source for all things digital scrapbooking. I pretty much buy almost all your products in Designer Digitals with the intention of learning how to use them. I’ve dabbled with a few of your templates, but never really jumped in with both feet. Regarding the email template, I envision a book with two different email styles to differentiate the emails I sent vs the emails from my hubby. I don’t actually know the best way to achieve the look I’m after. I just know if it were in book form, I be able to revisit my husbanding’s ‘wooing’ me more often. Thanks again for replying.

  43. #62
    Jocelyne Hayes

    Love, love, love the simplicity of this. I just cranked out a title page along with weeks 1 & 2 in about an hour. Awesome! I always assumed I’d prefer traditional so I can add in extra photos, but something hit me last night and I realized I can do that here two. So for week two I also added a spread of photos over two pages to showcase my toddler and his new bike. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this before. I guess I like to follow the rules too much and that wasn’t really in the rules! But the rules are mine and I’m going for it!!!

    Okay, I do have one question about the template. I’m probably just challenged, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to turn off the little gray border around the boxes??? You mentioned that it can be done, so I am assuming it can. I’m working in Elements at the moment (and missing photoshop a lot).

  44. #63

    Jocelyne, in the Layers Palette, there is a tiny fx to the right of each layer item. Double click on it to bring up the Layer Style palette, and uncheck Stroke. : )

  45. #65

    Sally, in PSE, on the layer, there is a little fx and if you double click on it, it will pull up the Layer Style palette and you can uncheck the Stroke option.

  46. #66

    Hi Cathy – I like the outline but am finding that sometimes it will show only on a couple of the sides rather than around all four sides after I’ve clipped it into the mask. This happens when I’m using a collage template (e.g., Tracy Larsen’s Simply White) that is a white background itself. Thanks for your help!

  47. #67

    Mary, do you mean that happens with my templates? Ive not had that happen yet, and if you zoom in on my templates, youll see that gray outline. : ) Let me know if I can help further.

  48. #68

    Hey Cathy I have been really inspired by your Digital PL. I am keen to get a few printed but was wondering if any Australian scrapbookers know where I can get them printed. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks – love your stuff!

  49. #71

    Hi Cathy, I love your site/pages. They have inspired me to begin my own Project Life. I was curious if you use photoshop versus indesign due to personal preference or if there was a technical reason? (I’ve created my own template in indesign as then I can have all of my pages for one book in a single file and view as spreads).

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