Friday, January 27, 2012

PROJECT LIFE: Intro and Week 1

Hi! Sorry I haven't been back sooner, but I've been busy! Of course, that's always the excuse isn't it? At least I can say it was partly due to some craftiness :)

You see, like I mentioned in my last post, I decided to give Project Life a try. For those who aren't part (or on the sidelines) of the online scrap/crafty community, Project Life is basically a simplified system for documenting/scrapbooking your life. It's really nothing more than specially sized page protectors, journaling cards, accent papers and an album that you buy as a kit. You print off your pictures, slip them inside the page protectors, write on the journaling cards, put them in the smaller pockets, add whatever you want as decoration, and voila, instant scrapbook. It's been around for a few years now but this year it just seems to have exploded in popularity, and I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

I was actually really lucky because my online friend Stephanie actually gave me her 2011 kit that she didn't end up using in exchange for some Canadian food goodies (poutine sauce anyone?), so I didn't have to pay for any of it (she just sent me the page protectors and the cards, not the album or papers). I was waiting anxiously for it to arrive and it did a couple of weeks ago, so I've been working on 'catching' up ever since.

And so far? 


Here are my random thoughts/philosophies on the process so far:

-I'm approaching the album in the same way that Ali Edwards does hers (yes I copy Ali a lot, so sue me). Basically one two page spread covers a week (Sunday to Saturday in my case). Which  means at the end of the year I'll have 52 spreads (unless I combine a few weeks, which very well may happen one life starts to get busier). I'll add extra inserts when I can't fit everything on a spread, but for the most part it'll just be the 2 pages.

-I'm not focusing on taking a picture a day (which the spreads allow for), but instead am looking at it as a weekly overview. So if one day I didn't take a picture, I use more shots from an event where I did take more than one, or whatever.

-Ideally I will journal as the weeks happen, and have been trying to do that this past week, but since I'm 'catching' up from the first 3 weeks (we're ending Week 4 tomorrow), I'm more or less journaling from memory/using the pics as jump off points. But like I said, I'm going to try and journal more 'in the moment' when I can. I'm thinking about using an App on my phone to prompt me to journal in that way too.

-I'm also trying to include as much 'stuff' as possible, since I find it's a nice change from just photos and journaling. Receipts, cards, tags, whatever, it's fun to collect little bits of life.

-The key for me in this project is keeping it out and visible for me to see and work on. I have everything set up on my dining room sideboard. The album is open there, along with a basket full of random bits to use on the pages (will get into that in a second), along with my cutter, glue, journaling cards, anything I think I'll use. By having it all (neatly) out in the open, I'm always reminded to work on it and can pick at it during the week in my few free moments as opposed to putting it away, lugging it out and working on it once a week for a few hours and putting it back away...that would never work for me. The sideboard is also a perfect height to work standing up, which I really like.

-I borrowed my mom's photo printer which is also a HUGE help. I print off a few pics whenever I'm at the computer, then put them in the protectors right away to decorate at a later time. Again, doing one big batch once a week at Wal Mart or something would never work for me, I'd fall so behind that I would just quit, I  knew it.

-My main philosophy for this project falls into line with my Goals for 2012: Keep my expectations of it realistic, finish what I start, and KEEP IT SIMPLE. So if the photos aren't perfectly edited (I just quickly edit them in iPhoto, nothing beyond that), or the journaling is messy, or something is crooked, just leave it be. This is a marathon project, not a sprint, so it's important to pace myself, not make it more complicated/elaborate than it has to be, and to just have fun with it. Make it mine, something for my family only, not something to impress the online world or anyone else. Making and keeping memories, that's it.

-I love how this project has already prompted me to pick up my camera more and to observe things more closely. Sure, it might be in an artificial way ('ooh, that'll be cool to put in the album!' type thoughts), but still, I'm happy to have the incentive always there reminding me to document more (something I've been really slacking on lately).

Ok, enough rambling, here we go, Week 1!!

(I haven't worked on the cover page yet, not sure when that'll get done, I have an idea of what I want to do though. The album itself is a simple AC cloth d-Ring album in chocolate brown, goes great with the colour combo of the kit. The kit also includes clear dividers for each month, that's the teal thing you see on my first spread.)



There are a few things I've decided to include in every week to make the album a bit more cohesive (but I'm not going to be inflexible about it either, this is as long as it works for me):

-The Week Title Card in the top left corner (with a letter sticker/large 'W' at the beginning)
-A "Weekly Overview" Card somewhere on the layout (basically just a bit of journaling reporting what we did that week, this time it's in the bottom right corner)
-Our grocery receipt when we do groceries (always in the same small pocket on the second page)
-An iPhone screenshot of the weather for the week (didn't include in the first week but have been doing it ever since...and idea I saw on Cathy's blog)

That's it for now, I may start including other 'constants' later on, but I'm finding that it's hard to fit everything in as it is now, so I'll probably leave it at that.

My idea on the whole 'scrapbooking' part of it is to keep it quite simple, but I still want to add a bit of flourish here and there, which to me is coming in the form of 'sticking sh*t on the photos', haha. Lots of labels and journaling spots (great way to include more journaling), stickers, letters, rub-ons, date stickers, anything that can fill in the negative space of a photo. (It's old school scrap style, but whatev.) I don't do it to every pic but I try to add something to most of them. I have a lot of scrapbooking stuff leftover that I will never use for actual pages, so using it up here is perfect for me. I'm also using digi elements when I can (which you'll see in Week 2 and 3 once I post them). I just tweak my photos in PS before printing, usually it's super easy and quick (again, keeping it simple).

I'm also really enjoying including 'collages' of various shots, either from my phone or my camera, whatever I can fit into a 4X6 slot. This week I did a collage of 6 Instagram shots from the week.

There is SO MUCH inspiration online right now for this project that there isn't a shortage of ideas for things to do to keep it fresh if I have a slow week, so I'm excited to try a few ideas I've seen online from time to time, but again, it's more about just documenting life and creating this for my family to look back on one day.

Finally, why am I doing this? It's our first full year as a family of four. I want to do it justice :)

Ok, back soon with Week 2, if you have any questions about it just let me know!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Goals for 2012

For the past 2-3 years I've done a ton of 'real life' goals as my resolutions. Things that I either could and did or didn't do. But this year I thought I would try something new, more of a 'philosophical' approach to resolutions and goals (although I still hate philosophy, I'm not going all crazy or anything!)

After last year and all the surprises/work/stress/joys it threw at me, I knew that this year would most likely bring more of the same. With 2 kids under 3, my business going into its second year (and needing to stand on its own two feet), and a new (old) house that needs tons of labour and money, I can already image what 2012 is going to be like, so instead of just kidding myself by setting all these unrealistic goals (start running! finish all my old scrapbooks! go to the market every friday! etc etc), I just kept thinking these three things over and over (really, they all tie in together as one general idea, but it's split into three mantras).

Keep my expectations in check: I'm old enough now to know when I'm bullshitting myself and when I'm serious about something. My ambition is far greater than my capabilities. Every time I set a goal this year, I need to ask myself "Is this realistic?" "What's my motivation for wanting to do this?" "Am I going to be disappointed if I don't accomplish this?" "Is this something I really WANT to do, or do I feel like I SHOULD?". I'm not trying to weasel my way out of doing anything, I just want to be sure that when I'm setting my goals, that they can actually get done, which leads to...

Finish what you start: Pretty simple in theory, very hard in practice. I start sooo many projects but always lose steam about halfway through. Doesn't matter what it is, home decor projects, baking, reading, blogging, crafts, scrapbooking, I barely ever finish anything, and I hate it. I have this guilt hanging over me forever afterwards, and I just don't want to have those feelings anymore. I'm going to try really hard to just let go of what hasn't been done and focus really hard on finishing what I start from now on. Keeping my expectations in check will help with this since I won't be taking on anything for the wrong reasons or taking on anything that I know in my heart I won't finish. That's the idea anyway. I know I'm not the only one who struggles with this, it's a symptom of our Internet crazed, multitasking, busy, ADD society. Doesn't mean we shouldn't try to change though.

Keep it simple. In everything.

So there you have it. My 'goals' for 2012. All the best to you in yours, and wish me luck in mine :)

Back next week with some scrappy stuff and kiddo updates.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review of Goals for 2011

Ok, time to check in and see how I did with my Goals in 2011 (my comments are in bold after the goal).

1. Work full-time as a photographer. DONE! I'm very proud to say that I did accomplish this, with a lot of work and struggle, and a bit of  help and flexibility too. From January to March (when my Mat Leave with Victor finished), I worked on my business plan and my application for the Self Employment Benefit Program (a government program designed to help people starting their own businesses). I was approved for that program in March and I believe that it was on March 11th, 2011, I started working officially for myself full time! I launched my website and blog, bought some new equipment, got my business cards, created my Facebook page, and got to shooting. At the end of the year I had shot 36 sessions including 4 weddings, sold several product packages (which surprised me the most of all), met a lot of amazing, supportive clients, and learned a lot about how to run a business and about my style as a photographer. One thing I didn't do was get rich, but I think that at the end of the day, I didn't LOSE any money so I consider that a success. I am going to continue working this year, but once my SEBP ends in March, I may need to bite the bullet and get a part time job to supplement our income a little bit, but hopefully I'll be able to support myself with my business alone.  This was a huge one, and I'm very pleased that I accomplished it.

2. Buy a house. DONE! Another huge one for us. We bought our house over the summer and moved in officially on August 16th, 2011. So happy with our choice of home and with everything so far. It feels so good to be a homeowner :)

3. Finish another quilt. NOT DONE. No time, no motivation, but perhaps this year; now that Victor is in a big boy bed and needs a cute quilt for hid room, I'll be inspired to get it done.

4. Get pregnant. DONE and DOOOOOONE. Got pregnant way ahead of schedule, had Violet in September, and never want to have a baby again! lol

5. Take 2 trips outside of NB (one with Victor and one with just Dan). NOT DONE. Again, just too busy with work, too poor from buying the house, and too big from being pregnant. Dan mentioned taking a week off this summer from work to take a few trips, one as a family and one just the two of us, so I'm looking forward to that.

6. Open an RESP, continue saving/paying off debt, 'grow up'. 50% DONE. I did open an RESP for Victor but we pretty much wiped out our savings on the house and actually racked up more debt on our credit cards with house related expenses. Not ideal, but I'm trying not to stress over it. Also didn't get our Will done, but with Violet and the house now in our lives, it's just as well that we waited. 2012 will be the year to get that sh*t done.

7. Read 6 books. NOT DONE. *Hangs head in shame*  I suck at reading, really I do. I read 1 book I think, the 2nd Hunger Games book (and it took over a freakin' year to finish!)

8. Put more effort into my friendships (and make new friends). MEH. I did hang out with Sara a lot this year (mostly because Victor was going to her until the end of summer, so I saw her every day), but my faraway friends (Anna, Heather, Jelena) got the short end of the stick, it was just sooo busy. Haven't made any new friends either, but maybe having a neighbour will help with that? Who knows.

9. Continue/expand on buying local/organic food. Again, MEH. I tried, I got on stints for a couple of weeks, but fell back into old bad habits. This is probably the most challenging thing for me, I find it soooo hard to change my eating habits, I honestly don't know if I'll ever truly change.

10. Spend less time on the computer. NOT DONE. Not at all. If your count my phone (which I do), I actually spent MORE time on the computer last year, both for work and for foolishness. I want to break my phone habit, because it's crossing over into Victor's life, which is not good at all (having a 2 year old who is addicted to an iPhone is not a good thing). Shame.

11. Take more risks.  I'm going to say DONE, though it's probably arguable. It was a huge risk to start my business, not knowing how it would go and if we'd be able to survive financially. We also took a risk by buying our home when we did, again not knowing how we would cope financially. Having Violet in the driveway was risky, though it wasn't my choice (ha!), and I did a couple of small, foolish 'risky' things like dye my hair red. I don't think I lived it up quite as much as I wanted to, but again, our plans for the year changed quite a bit when that positive sign popped up on the stick back in February, so I can't blame myself for not doing as much as I had wanted. 

("RISK" was also my One Little Word last year, and I've decided not to do one this year as I found that I pretty much forgot about it after the first 3 months or so, I'm not a meditative person on that kind of stuff, so it was just a word I picked that seemed to fit at the time. It did motivate me in the beginning, but then life took over. Ah well.)

So there you have it. Probably 50/50, which is about average for me and my Goal making. Not perfect, but I never once claimed to be. I like to try :)


Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 in a nutshell

January 2011

December 2011

First post of 2012, here we go!

After nearly a month of not blogging, but then again, that was the theme of 2011 I think...not doing the things I used to do.

This post is going to be pretty random and jumbled, so be warned!

2011 was an extremely busy year for us and one that in some ways I think I handled well, and in some ways think I failed at miserably. There were a lot of really good things that happened, but it was almost as if too many good things happened all at once, if that makes sense, and I felt like I wasn't able to properly appreciate them all because I was too busy just trying to make it through the days and the huge changes that they brought.

2011 was the first year in pretty much my entire life where I really felt disorganized. And for me, that's a big deal. I like being on top of things, being organized, checking things off my lists, but this year I was lucky to even get the lists written.  It taught me a lot, taught me how to let go (a little), and brought me back down to reality a little bit.

(I'm not saying that I was a perfectionist/super productive before this past year, far from it, but it just felt like I wasn't even able to keep up with myself or my life...but that's the point I guess, my life shifted into a new season and I wasn't ready for it.)

Anyway, like I said, a lot of good things happened this past year, including some big, life changing moments:

-We were shocked to discover that I was pregnant at the beginning of February (and I'll honestly admit now that it was definitely a break-down moment for me, I didn't handle it very well!) So for most of the year, I was pregnant, which I barely had time to acknowledge most days...

-I spent the first three months of the year preparing for the Self Employment Benefit Program, wrote my business plan, built my websites, and in March, officially started working as a photographer for Geneviève Flynn Photography full time (something that I'd like to get into more, but will save for another day). Needless to say, that alone was momentous enough to fill my year!

-We spent the Spring and Summer looking for, and eventually buying, our first home (another dream come true, but one that came with a lot of financial stresses and 'growing up').

-We spend the Fall and Winter working on the house, and of course, welcoming our daughter, Violet (who couldn't let us have a moment of calm right from the moment she was born in my parent's driveway in the middle of the night!)

-We watched our barely 1-year old go from a baby to a full blown toddler in what seems like a short amount of time, and were kept on our toes with all the of the changes he went through.

So yes, new business + new baby + new house, all in one year. Crazy really.

It was a year full of dirty dishes in the sink, boxes and packing (and unpacking), babysitters, first steps and words, baby kicks, Mac converting, trips to Bathurst, painting, shivering, Photoshopping, belly growing, guitar playing (and buying), a new car, pink clothes (!), weird weather, bangs, iPhones/Androids, SEVERE iPhone/Android addiction, TV shows (but not a lot of movies), swimming, Pinterest, new cameras and lenses, projects, renos, teal nails, wood fires, bread with peanut butter, Musical Moments, family reunions, credit cards, cuddles and kisses, big boy beds, cousins and friends, photography classes and WETT certification courses, mortgages, messes (so many messes), new kitties, and becoming a whole family.

That really just scratches the surface, but like I said, our 2011 in a nutshell :) I wonder what 2012 will bring?!?

To finish up, I'm just going to post one random iPhone pic from each month (thank God for the iPhone and Instagram, as crappy as the quality is sometimes, I'm still so glad to have our day to day captured through this device. Thank you Steve Jobs!)

January-Baby Victor!

February-The shock of the year.

March-New business, new equipment :)

April-My boys

May-Lots of walks with our new walker

June-New Hair

July-New House!!


September-Welcome Violet Marie

October-Stuff in the toilet (this is probably the funniest picture I took all year)


December-1st Christmas at HOME

Be back hopefully this week with a check-in on my Goals for 2011/One Little Word and my new Goals for 2012 post...really there are only 2 or 3, going to keep it really simple this year. I also need to come back to report on how A Week in the Life went (yes, I did do it, just didn't blog everyday like I had intended), and talk about Project Life (yes, I'm insane and decided to give it a go!)

Hope you all had an amazing 2011 and that your best day in 2011 in your worst in 2012!