Make a Page Monday: Project Life Catch Up

Cathy ZielskeProject Life, Scrapbooking48 Comments
Instead of making a layout this week, I decided to play catch up again with my Project Life album. I am so looking forward to creating a printed book at the end of the year. One thing that really excites me: it will take up less space than a 12 x 12 album. I am truly out of space for albums right now. Yes, there may be a day in the distant future when my children are out of the house for good and I turn one of their rooms into a craft room and build an amazing Wall O Scrapbook Shelves. But honestly? I probably won’t because we’ll need those rooms for when they come to visit. I can’t very well make my future grand babies sleep on IKEA shelving, now can I?

Okay, not sure where that came from. Let’s come back down to reality. Thank you.

My goal with Project Life 2014 is to combine words and photos with a little bit of stuff thrown in here or there, but overall to keep it clean and simple. I profess to take the crap out of scrapbooking and when I focus on photos and words I tend to do that. The weird thing is though, I make money off of my own products. If I go too minimal, mama doesn’t eat as well, you catch my drift? Occasionally, it’s a conundrum. I like minimal. What if I get so minimal, I minimalize myself right out of the market?

I spent two hours on Sunday choosing photos and building pages for the last four weeks. My iPhoto organization system makes gathering images so simple. (I have a video covering my photo organization process here.) While I started the year using a 6 x 4 slot for journaling, I decided to move it to a smaller space (3 x 4) thus requiring less words in the name of expediency.

I also let go of the need for matching weekly spreads. If one page works for one week, great. If I have the photos for two pages, great. There’s no need to stress. Just do what is needed based on the number of photos and the time I feel like spending.

That, ladies, is crap-free scrapbooking at its finest. Because when it’s all said and done, I’m going to have a year in the life of Team Zielske and no one is going to throw a hissy because I didn’t do matching spreads. Okay, maybe Dan will. But I’ll deal with that later.

Here are my pages for the last four weeks.
Clean and simple. Minimal design makes me happy. It lets my eyes breathe.

QUESTION FOR YOU: As I get closer to the end of the year, it’s going to be time to choose a place to get my book printed. I want to get a full-sized 12 x 12 book. I would love your feedback on places you have used. I have  a few ideas in mind, but let us hear what the people have to say!


Cathy ZielskeMake a Page Monday: Project Life Catch Up

48 Comments on “Make a Page Monday: Project Life Catch Up”

  1. #1
    Heather Johnson

    Honestly? Shutterfly. They look good, and with sales are well priced. If you like a bit thicker paper I love pinhole press. I use pinhole for creating actual photobooks of special events like our vacation this summer.

    1. #1.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I’ve heard good things about Pinhole. Will Shutterfly let me upload my own custom cover design, too? I’m guessing yes. I should know this, but I’ve never made a book with them.

      1. #1.1.1
        Amanda Villagómez

        I have been using Shutterfly as well. In 12×12 I have my Project Life for 2013 in 2 volumes and my daughter’s first year baby book. I love them all. You can upload a custom cover. Here is a link with how it works: (If you see the tab to the right under photobooks, you can click on Design Specs & Templates as well). I have not completed a photobook anywhere else in order to compare with somewhere like Pinhole.

  2. #2

    Hey Cathy!
    Love your pages! It’s cool to see them in a row!
    Is there a Little copy / paste issue with week 42, showing the same text as week 41? 😉

  3. #3

    You should have added a QR code to the bee dance spread. That is worth seeing in action. I love adding them to sport pages, parades, trips, etc.

    1. #3.2

      what a great idea! Like the old stick on voice recorder used for scrapping but so much thinner!

  4. #4

    I use Photobook America. I don’t have photoshop, so their offline software is perfect for mixing the digital pages I make with the PL App, with a minimal amount of scrapbooking elements to make it nice. I can also import JPEGs of your cards (which I always buy) to spiff it up and overlay text on cards.

    I’m not going to lie, the software is a little old and it took me a while to adjust, but the company meets my price point (with promotions) and high quality printing AND it has offline software. Can’t stress that enough!

    They’re international and they could really use some new templates (by you?!), just like Becky did with Shutterfly.

    I did a couple books with Shutterfly. It’s fully customizable, but I found the quality is too low. Too bad because I did like the project life templates.

  5. #5

    That message from Aiden to you is so cute.

    Tell her to hang in there – The first year of college (university here) was tough for me too. But you do get used to it, and the amount you learn is phenomenal. You never take the idea of “coming home” for granted again.


  6. #6

    I love the quality and the look and feel of the Apple books. They are beautifully done….color seems to match the look of my on-screen view….and a very quick turn around. I also love the Artifact U. books, thanks to you…..however, I am not so in love with Shutterfly. The Apple books are always my fall back favorite.

    Can’t wait to see your finished product of 2013.

    1. #6.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Good point! I ordered a calendar from Apple last year, that hangs in my kitchen and the quality is stellar!

  7. #7
    Amanda Villagómez

    Cathy, One other thought. I did previously see a blog post by someone who compared a bunch of different photobook options and did a long post about it. I can’t remember the exact title/name of the blog because it was not one I read regularly, but you might be able to Google to find something similar.

  8. #8
    Amanda @ Click. The Good News

    I just printed a book earlier this year with Blurb and wasn’t too thrilled. Although I uploaded 12×12 JPG pages, some of them were slightly enlarged or shrunk, with the gutters being all over the place. I hope others have some better suggestions.

  9. #9
    Amanda @ Click. The Good News

    The other thing I forgot to mention is ease of software use. I know most of us doing PL probably have all the pages/files titles numerically & they should theoretically all just drop in order if you sort alphabetically. I was surprised that a few of the software programs from book publishers didn’t have a good way to organize the book- I didn’t have time to re-arrange 100+ pages!

  10. #10

    Her site kind of hurts your eyes, but compares a lot of different photo book makers here:

    My favorite is Blurb. They have the best range of sizes to me and their software is the least annoying. I also like that I can get trade versions of the same photo book, which makes second copies for gift giving a lot less expensive. I don’t love the length of their turnaround times.

    Mpix is another favorite. Great quality. Fast turnaround. However, not as many size choices (I love to work in 6×8 and 8×10). And no matte paper option, which is what I love about Blurb. Glossy pages are sub-par to me.

    I have used Apple books several times and they are nice quality, but generally expensive. And you have to build and upload within iPhoto, which can be somewhat tedious if you’re not creating your pages natively in iPhoto. They are great if you are simply wanting a nice option for getting your photos out if iPhoto and in your hands, but not the best if you gave designed your pages elsewhere.

  11. #11

    Love, love, love the text from Aidan. The first year of college was hard for me, too — I was really homesick and overwhelmed. And that was back in the days of expensive long distance, no internet, and, for me, no car or extra $ to come home. The accoutrements of modern life would’ve been so helpful to 18-year-old me. Hang in there, Aidan. Rooting for you.

  12. #12

    Adoramapix is amazing! I used to use shutterfly. They are less expensive, but the quality of adoramapix will keep you coming back. Promise. That’s who Steph from the daily Digi recommends.

  13. #13

    I’ve used Shutterfly in the past, but the OCD in me can’t handle how thin/flimsy the pages are. I now use Adoramapix just for that reason. The pages are much thicker and I don’t have to watch my kids like a hawk while they’re flipping through our books because I’m afraid they’ll wrinkle or rip a page!!

    P.S. On your first Week 42, the “This Week” journaling card has a typo in the second to last sentence. I think it’s supposed to read “heads back” instead of “hads back.” Just wanted to give you a “hads” up 😉

    1. #13.2

      It doesn’t look like Adoramapix has enough pages for a Project Life book. Looking at the price list, it only allows up to 76 pages.

      I love Apple for the quality but its too expensive for the number of books I make (& I don’t like having to use iPhoto/or having to create the pages outside of photoshop). I use shutterfly for Project Life – I prefer the image quality to Blurb (though I know people love Blurb). My kids go through the books all the time & I don’t worry about the pages ripping. You can upload/customize your cover with shutterfly.

      I’ll have to try Adoramapix for a smaller album.

  14. #14
    Debbie Weiss

    Trying to make up my mind about Project Life 2015. Love the idea. I got way behind in 2014 and am still working on catching up (yes, I am taking the Catch up in PL class from Big Picture Classes…love it).
    My question is if I want to try all digital and have it printed in a book the way you are, have the digital pages printed and put in an album or go all pocket pages as I do now.
    I’m interested in what everyone else is thinking and why. Help me make my mind up!

    1. #14.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I can’t lie: I miss the pockets. I have made one complete pocket version of Project Life (2012) and then in 2013, I did pockets through 17 weeks, then switched to digital. If you click on my categories to the right, I have a Project Life compendium.

      That said, doing this digitally this year has been so easy and even fun. I really love this project. I wish I had done something like this for every year of my life, truly. So many things I do not remember, especially when my kids were babies. (Didn’t scrapbook back then!)

  15. #15
    Sandra B.

    Congrats on 23 years (and its byproducts), and if going to the strip club is what it takes to keep the magic alive, so be it!
    Thanks for all the light you bring to our lives through sharing yours.

  16. #16
    Audrey V

    I have used Shutterfly, mostly because of the sale prices, and been happy with them. Just be sure to turn off the Vivid Pics, or your colors can be wonky. Be sure to use coupons and sales, sometimes both. Here’s an idea. I like to print 3 copies of my digital books, so I can give one to each of my two kids in the future. Maybe you would want to try printing the same book from 3 different sources for comparison.

  17. #17

    This doesn’t answer your question because I print my PL pages through Persnickity Prints and add them to a WRMK 12 x 12 album for the year, but I just wanted to say that I love your interaction with those who respond to your posts. You are always present and accounted for and ready to respond to someones comment. It makes me so want to continue coming to your blog (amongst other reasons…like your design genius…)

  18. #18
    Kim Smith

    Awesome, awesome pages, Cathy. Your new client is adorable 🙂 and I love that text message from your daughter!

    No, I don’t think you can minimalize your way out of business. You have something we all want….and we’ll always be faithful! Keep on doing what you’re doing!

  19. #19
    Jenny B.

    Looks like you’ve got lots of great recommendations so far. I’ll throw mine in as well. 😉 I’ve used Shutterly, AdoramaPix, and Blurb. Shutterfly is my favorite for color photo quality, but laying out the book in their system is tedius. AdoramaPix has a very user-friendly interface. It’s probably the easiest of all three. Their books are beautiful, but I don’t care for the pearly texture of the pages. I thought the colors weren’t quite as bright and crisp as Shutterfly, but it still looks very nice. I use Blurb for little 7×7 books that I design using their software (not Photoshop). They are quick and easy and turn out cute (I’ve done one for a family camping trip and one for my son’s trip to summer camp). The print quality is subpar when compared with either Shutterfly or AdoramaPix. All that said, my favorite photo printer is mpix, and I’m planning to use them for a photo book one of these days. Good luck making a decision! 🙂

  20. #20
    Michelle t

    I love that your PL spreads are so pretty and pleasing to the eye. And I’m really sorry Aidan is having a hard time. Michelle t

  21. #21

    Cathy, you’re the real queen of clean and simple and crap-free PL.
    Are you going to do it again in 2015? 🙂

  22. #22

    The bee pictures just make me happy. No idea why. Like if I framed one on my desk, it’d make me smile. Then people would think I’m weird. Not sure where I’m going with this.

  23. #23

    I have printed 3 years of Project Life books through Blurb and LOVE them. I always add a 1/2 border around my templates to make sure nothing runs into the edge, but you do that anyway!

  24. #24

    “it lets my eyes breathe”

    That is a new classic that I love.

    Your first book completely resounded with me and I’m pretty sure I ‘scraplifted’ every layout in that album. Clean and Simple. And you know what? When I go back years ago and look at my old layouts, it’s not the parahernalia that I enjoy seeing-

    It’s the photo’s and words

    “It lets my eyes breath”


  25. #25

    I am LOVING your one-page spreads, and the off-center, smaller journaling spot.
    I have tried a few different book-printing sites, but I keep coming back to Shutterfly. Love their lay-flat pages!

  26. #26
    Tracy G

    I have used Shutterfly and Adoramapix. The Shutterfly albums are nice and more affordable, especially with a coupon. However, the quality of Adoramapix and the beauty of their lay flat pages is stunning. I made a vacation album for my MIL last year, which I’ve done for the last three years, and she raved about how nice the album was. A little pricey but simply stunning. Look for coupons! You might want to check out the reviews that Steph from The Daily Digi did about the various photobook services. She highly recommends Adoramapix.

  27. #27

    I just ordered a thick book (140 pages) from Picaboo and was happy with it–no complaints at all, actually. The price was right, too–they run specials on unlimited pages every once in a while. But it was not PL spread and I’m not sure of their square size offerings.

  28. #28

    Dear Cathy!
    How do you always fill your journaling space completely? I usually write everything and it´s just half the box filled – what to do? It doesn´t look nice to have half the box blank but it doesn´t look nice to increase the writing to a bigger size of font. And I don´t want to write dumb things in the box just to fill it.
    Any tips? How do you always end up just filling the box?!

    1. #28.1
      Cathy Zielske

      I think I just write until I run out of things to say. I tend to be a little verbose. 😉

  29. #29

    I love the print products from Apple. I have yearly photo books from 2007 onward from them, plus random vacation books. That being said, I’m tired of the templates and want to move to Prject Life but want to keep the same size books…. So please create a template for landscape layouts in 11×8.5 then I could just import the jpeg to iPhoto and print my book… Love your work!

      1. #29.1.1

        I would LOVE that…I use the Apple products often, so having several templates that size would be “golden”. Thanks for your consideration.

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