The William Morris Project: 2014 | Do What Works, Not What’s Expected

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The William Morris Project

I’ve talked about our linen closet a lot over the years. It’s tall, deep, and the linens are never organized because I can’t reach the shelves on which they sit. I’m short. Real short.

I’ve cleaned it out at least twice and changed the handles.

Linen Cabinet

At least it looks good from the outside. The inside, not so much.

Hall Closet, 1

The drawers are fine, much like I left them last time. The top shelves where I store the linens, though, are ridiculous. Yes, that bowl is there on purpose. Nico is, sadly, a thrower-upper. It’s best to keep a bowl as close to his room as possible. Anyway, the other day as I was jumping up to slam dunk some sheets on the top shelf, I realized I don’t need to use the linen closet the way the home builder planned. I live here, not him. (And it was a him. I know this because of some records an historian friend of mine found.)

How to organize a linen cabinet.

How to organize a linen cabinet.

I took everything out off the shelves and looked for items to donate. I didn’t find anything, so at least I can say I’ve done a good job sticking to what we need. I did the same thing with the drawers and found one or two items. The real problem is that my picture drawer has now extended to two drawers. I’m doing something about that soon.

How to organize a linen cabinet.

After years of complaining I finally moved our linens into the drawers, which I can reach, and placed the less used items on the shelves. So obvious, so brainless, so unbelievable that it took me 8 years to figure this out.

How to organize a linen cabinet.

The closet is difficult to photograph, but you get the idea. It’s a closet.

How to organize pictures.

The pictures. This is the year I get them organized and in albums. I’m committing to it here and now. The first thing I need to do is sort, purge, and create adequate “waiting for an album” storage. The plastic bags and paper envelopes are out. Next, I need to pick a “scrapbooking” style that doesn’t make me want to hurl. Or take much time or equipment since both would go against The William Morris Project. I’m looking at Project Life. No glue, no cutting, no mess. Not that Project Life can’t be messy–to my eyes, since beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I’ve seen some pages that have so many stickers, cut outs, tags, twine, and dangling things that you don’t even notice the picture. I have friends who scrapbook like that and that’s fine. It’s great that we don’t have the same taste because we learn from each other. I prefer a simple layout with an emphasis on the picture. In fact, the only reason I don’t continue with my “slip pictures into a 4×6 album” technique I started last fall is because Project Life (and various other companies) solve the instagram 4×4 problem I had.

I would love to share a layout every week! So love it! I thought about doing just that, but I’ll be starting from scratch. I have no idea how I would be able to afford to work on Project Life weekly without product on hand. I foresee doing a lot of organizing and prep work while I slowly building up my supply of layout pages. Until then, I’ll be adding pins to my new Project Life pinterest board and finding bloggers and designer who share my aesthetic. Here are the blogs I recently started following:

Paislee Press | Pink Ronnie | this and that | Tracey Larsen Blog

Please recommend more blogs, sites, boards, products–especially for photo storage, money saving tips, etc. I’m a total rookie and have no idea what I’m doing!

Edit: Some recommendations for digital Project Life/albums, which makes sense because you don’t have to store supplies, you can reorder books in case of loss, and they don’t take up a lot of room. My concern is that I will create all these fancy folders on my desktop full of pictures to publish into a book…and it will never happen. It takes up so little space that I have no motivation to do anything! Thoughts? Which format do you prefer, and why?

Comments
29 Responses to “The William Morris Project: 2014 | Do What Works, Not What’s Expected”
  1. April says:

    Have you thought about doing photo books instead of albums? In the long run much cheaper than traditional scrapbooking, and it’s tidier too (all on the computer, no bits and bobs and papers to store). And if anything happens to your copy of the photo book, you can order a new one with a click of a button, even years later. I like that kind of insurance, since I’ve dealt with the aftermath of a house fire before.

    The only thing is that your photos have to be on the computer, not printed out. So if you only have paper copies, you’d have to scan them first. That can be big job (unless you’re willing to delegate them to a company who will batch scan photos for you, but that’s $$… but perhaps worth it to you).

    I’ve been very pleased the photo books I’ve made with MyPublisher, who puts out great coupons regularly. But they got bought out by Shutterfly recently and I’m thinking about giving their photo books a try next.

    • Jules says:

      I want to be sold on the idea of digital, but I’m afraid I’ll just have a bunch of files on my computer that I will never get around to publishing.

  2. Sarah says:

    I agree with April. The books do not take up a lot of space. There are no piles of supplies. I make one every year for the grandparents for Christmas, and they love it. I made one of our family reunion last year, and now a lot of the family wants them. When my kids were little they loved looking at photo albums and pictures came out, and pages tore loose. I still need to do something with all of the pictures that were printed out before the books, so I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

  3. meg says:

    Yes! I’ve been poring over Project Life pages this month! I’ve decided that this looks like the halfway point between pictures stuffed in boxes (or, in my case, not printed out at all) and all-out scrapbooking. I’m just not an all-out scrapbook kind of person. But set up an album and then stick in pictures and sometimes make a note? This is a strong maybe! Thanks for all the links — I’ll be checking them out next.

    Also, great job flipping the linen closet! Isn’t it so satisfying when you think a little outside the box and come to a really workable solution? I only wish it didn’t often take me years to get to that point!

  4. Jori says:

    Some fabulous “Project Lifers” with a clean style emphasizing pictures and story without a lot of fluff are Cathy Zielske and Ali Edwards. Both have made a a great deal of their work available as digital elements so no mess or things to keep around the house. Just a thought.

    • Jules says:

      I’ll check them out, thanks. I have some concerns about digital. What if I keep storing all these pictures but never get around to printing them in a book?

  5. Susan says:

    I can’t comment on the scrapbooking – I know I would never do it; I have long since stopped printing out pictures. I’ve got a small folder of pictures on my computer I want to print out that I’ve decided to make into a photo book. But I’m not sure who to go with. I’ve seen some really terrible quality ones that look like they were printed on a cheap home printer. I would be interested in any recommendations.

    And for the linen closet – great change! Its the simple things that make you want to smack your head. Have you tried sticking the complete sheet set into one of the matching pillowcases? Totally transformed my linen closet; no more hunting the missing pillow case or falling sheets. Particularly effective for me since most of my sheets are white. They all look the same folded up :-)

    • Jules says:

      That was always my attitude about scrapbooking. I also have a file of pictures I want to put into a book, but the book has yet to happen! I’m thinking that if I print them out, I’ll be motivated to work on it? But how do I know what size to print? Ugh.

  6. Lydia says:

    Ali Edwards is your go-to girl. Also, take a look at the work that Elise Blaha Cripe does. She has a pretty minimalist aesthetic, with an emphasis on the photos and clean design.

  7. Janine says:

    Well, I have my own blog now that you might like. http://thirtyyearhouse.wordpress.com/

    We won’t begin updating it again/regularly until February 7th when internet arrives at our new house, but for the next year it’ll be all renovation and decor. I’m crazy about sorting/storing/throwing things away sooooooooooooooooo that will be a feature.

    I’m loving reading Manhattan Nest, Making It Lovely, Dooce and Door Sixteen still. I’m a die hard loyal fan. I’m particularly obsessed with Manhattan Nest because the boys have a very old house that they’re gutting and I love pictures of rooms gutted down to the studs. And also, I love old old baseboard and crown mouldings, and high ceilings, and wonky floors.

    I’m also trying out NorthStory.ca and RamblingRenovators.ca because they’re Canadian (so am I) sooooooooooooo I will check in for a year or so, see if I warm up to them. I’m also kind of on a trial run with House Tweaking. When it comes to blogs, it takes a LONG time for me to become a loyal fan. I have committment issues, maybe?

    I’m looking forward to seeing some new blogs in the comments that I might want to get into.

    • Jules says:

      I will check out your blog, thanks! :) I read all those blogs–Anna did my site!–but I was really looking for sites that do Project Life. Although, if any of those bloggers did scrapbooking, I imagine Project Life is what they’d do. Actually, I think Daniel was a big scrapbooker in high school.

      • Janine says:

        I have to admit that I ejected crafting from my life years ago because of the mess and the room it took up. (I was a teenager living between two parents going to, ironically, art school.) There were a lot of reasons, actually, behind why I put away the acrylic paints and markers, but needing room and needing storage were all a part of the decision. I think I replaced that artistic outlet with interior design, something that is messy in a way that I find “acceptable”.

        Scrapbooking is not on my radar as something I want to do right now, but I forsee a return to sewing and photography on the horizon. My position on life and the new house is that you have to play with the toys you already have (meaning: I will not buy decor if I have perfectly good decor that I’m not using). I think it’ll be quite William Morris’y because how could it NOT be?

        Also: Anna’s design for your blog is super lovely, and I feel right at home every time I visit. I <3 Anna!

  8. Susan G says:

    I’ve been repinning some of your PL pins. I was an all-out scrapbooker for a long time but have not done it for a while, so I’m gearing up to try PL and simplifying. We;ll see – I’m not really a minimalist when it comes to pretty paper and things, but will definitely give it a shot. Also, I’m a shortie as well and get incredibly frustrated by having to toss things onto shelves. I have finally just put a small step stool in three different rooms (kitchen, bedroom, and craft room) and it makes me so much happier. When my parents built their house many years ago, they had the kitchen counters and cabinets built down for my mom. :)

  9. Melissa says:

    Over winter vacation I had a similar top shelf/bottom shelf epiphany. My daughter wanted to make her own tea, but she couldn’t reach the cups without climbing on a chair. I realized that we had all the lesser-used items (giant cocoa mug/bowls, travel mugs) on the bottom shelf, and all the everyday mugs and cups on the upper shelf (the very top shelf is so high even I don’t know what’s up there). Ten minutes later, we had swapped all the contents (and purged some hidden “treasures”), and made up a tray on the counter for the tea, sugar bowl and spoons. Now the kids can heat their water in the electric kettle and make their own tea (or mine!).

    If only I could arrange all the dishes in lower cupboards so that the kids could empty the dishwasher and put everything away. Alas, we just don’t have the space.

    I’m interested to see what you decide with your photos. I have a box in the basement that needs to be sorted/organized/put in albums, and then, of course, all the digital photos on my hard drive. I’m pretty sure photo books will be my solution going forward.

  10. Marian says:

    I too, agree with April about the photo books. We’ve made photo books for grandparents for Christmas gifts and they’ve turned out beautifully.

    With our own family photos, we’re in the middle of changing what we’re doing. Prior to getting a digital camera, and in our earlier years of owning a digital camera, we printed off all our photos and put them into the albums with the memo strips in the middle. I made it a priority to keep up and we have about thirty albums dating from when our first child was born seventeen years ago (I guess we’re a bit camera-crazy :) and yes, they take up a lot of room on the bookshelf). Three or four years ago my husband decided to digitize everything and had all our negatives scanned (he used Scan Cafe and was really happy with the results; we’ve since had them do our Sony camcorder tapes). As we’ve run out of albums (and they’re not easy to find) our plan now is to make a photo book for each year, rather than printing off copies of individual photos. We have the digital photos backed up three ways, and keep one back-up at my husband’s office, so we feel pretty confident about the safety of the files.

    Although I greatly admire scrapbooking as a creative outlet and as an art form, I think it can be really hard to keep up with (my friends who scrapbook seem to be constantly “behind” and stressed about it). And because this is just how my mind works (I think a lot about “stuff” and where it all eventually ends up), I wonder about the future life of all these scrapbooks (as in, when grown children are cleaning out their parents’ house) – do these scrapbooks become a burden (too many to store) or a bone of contention (there’s only one of this particular subject/era and who gets it?). Because of those thoughts, I’ve actually begun the reverse process (for pre-children albums). I figure I don’t need to find room to store half a dozen albums filled with scenery shots of ski trips or photos of camping trips with university friends I never see anymore, so I pulled all the photos and kept only those that actually meant something to me (on the off-chance that some negatives got missed when my husband sent them off to Scan Cafe) and simply boxed those photos with other miscellaneous photos.

    To illustrate the whole “looking ahead” approach: we recently put together a book for my in-laws’ 50th anniversary (my husband sent in their slides and negatives to be scanned), and it struck me that only a small percentage actually made it into the book. The photos that were chosen were people, not scenery, and in order to make to the book reasonable in size and price, it had to be illustrative, rather than comprehensive. I’ve read somewhere on the Internet: something is only a treasure if it’s rare, and I think that principle applies to photos in the long run. While I love looking through photos of my kids and am glad we have them, I do sometimes wonder: how many photos of one’s own childhood does a person really need? How many before it becomes a burden to pass them on?

    (Sorry if that was over-long and full of too much musing…)

  11. Melissa says:

    I have been a Project Life convert since 2010. It is seriously so easy – unless you want to make it more complex, which is beautiful, but I ain’t got time for that. Becky Higgins (www.beckyhiggins.com) has a great little video explaining the concept, and she also did a longer video specifically about her kid’s school papers which I am trying to live by. I’m taking old family photos and plopping them into the pocket pages, and then sliding cards in to be decorative and writing what I know/remember and THEN IT IS DONE. And my kids look through the albums all the time, which they wouldn’t do with just pictures in a box. You can get product on Amazon but if you have a Michael’s or Hobby Lobby nearby, you take the 40% coupon and buy your core kit and then your box of plastics and then your album, and off you go.

  12. Jenn says:

    On the fence, and have to research Project Life a bit more, and haven’t really anything good to add. This last summer, I did a photo book for my girl’s 10th birthday, and it turned out really nicely, there were a few things that I’d do differently next time (like add the text to the photo, not add text to a photo page…but it is minor). Some of the photos were digital, and some were scans, some were from better cameras than others, and it is visible, but again, the completed project is pretty nice, and I’d do it again (and again, and probably again a few more times).
    It really felt like one of those jobs, that once I actually got down to it, it only took a few hours, over several evenings. Maybe not quite a five minute clean-up job, but also not bad for a forty-two page book covering the first decade of my girl’s life.

  13. snapdragon says:

    I’m a scrapper. I started 12 years ago with the paper, scissors, glue, stickers, etc. It was fun and I did it with friends and I have a book for every year. (I had a whole room in my house just for scrapbooking.)
    But about 3 years ago I switched to digital and I LOVE IT. Don’t have to buy the glue, the paper, the cutters, the stickers, etc. It’s all on my MAC and then I send it to http://www.scrapbooksplease.com and they print the 12 x 12 sheets for me and then I put those in the same type of albums I used to use when I did the paper/glue thing. I moved to a smaller house and now I don’t miss the “craft room” that I used to have because I really don’t need one.
    My recommendation is that you take care of all the photos you have already printed using regular PL stuff and then go to digital. You’ll probably never look back- and you’ll gain desk space!
    Best wishes!

  14. HeatherL says:

    I have a tall, deep linen closet too. I actually think it is funny, because I wonder if people ever really needed that much linen storage. Ours sheets, towels & tablecloths are in the middle for the same reasons. I have things in baskets on the top shelf and I have to take the whole basket down. If those Items were loose I know I would just knock them to the back when I tried to take them down.

    My vote on the photo albums is neither. We just keep them in folders on our computer (which gets backed up) and browse that way when we are feeling nostalgic.
    Maybe it is different when you have kids, but the last album I made was of my honeymoon 9 years ago.
    I actually undid my old albums from hs &college & just kept the essential photos in photo boxes.

    I did make a digital album for my grandma with wedding pictures and some of the non pro ones came out grainy even though the website didn’t flag those as low resolution, but my grandma loved it.

    I also found it to be a lot of work. A relative of mine does this with her kids pictures as a Christmas present to the grandparents and she (who makes thing all the time) said it is too much and she is stopping when each kid is 5.

    If you are set on albums though the project life ones seem pretty easy if you keep it simple.

  15. At this point, Project Life, the physical edition is perfect for you. 1)Buy a “core” kit. (the cards). Buy a set of page protectors. Buy a 12 x 12 binder to put them in. I got everything in subsequent weeks with coupons from Michael’s. Check out Cathy Zielske. She does PL digitally–but it doesn’t matter. Her simple, clean style will appeal to you–and her pages are awesome. Here: http://cathyzielske.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/01/project-life-week-four-a-real-time-process-video.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2Fcathyzielske%2Fmy_weblog+%28Bits%26Pieces%29 Skip the video. Also, check out Beky Higgins’ site, too. (She created PL).

    If you want to use PL to record your current life, just write a sentence or two about what happened each day–that way you will know what to write when it comes time to choose the photos and write your journaling. Actually, a layout probably won’t look that different than your happy happy posts–only with more personal family photos. I just started for this year.

  16. Connie says:

    I’m in that club of those who bought the initial scrapbooks for each child and all the fancy accoutrements, only to have them still sitting in OUR linen closet after 7 years. Judging by conversations with my friends, it’s quite a widespread phenomenon! In fact, the only albums I’ve ever actually completed were online (most recently, Shutterfly), and I’ve finally accepted that that really is more my style. I like being able to easily add comments, which often turn out to be a bit of commentary as to the back story behind the photo, and I notice the books actually do turn into mini-travelogues or memory books, with a beginning, middle and end – makes them more interesting to, well, READ, than your typical scrapbook, though perhaps less interesting artistically and dimensionally. Also, being fairly indecisive myself, it’s really easy to change backgrounds and styles and switch pictures around. And, as was mentioned in a prior comment, way less expensive, and – guess which photos the kids actually look at regularly (besides those that rotate on our screensaver)? Yep, those photo books – they pull them out, and we sit and reminisce for a bit. Also goes along with my increasingly supported theory that I will only actually complete items that meet me where I’m at – which, in the evenings, after the kids are in bed, is often the computer.

  17. Nicole says:

    Jules,
    I’m a paper scrapbooker. I like to feel the paper. I like to cut the paper and stick the stuff down. I don’t like clutter on my pages. It doesn’t feel comfortable to me, although I really appreciate the people that can get fancy. You mentioned Project Life and it’s a good system. Prior to creating this system, Becky Higgins scrapbooked regular pages and they always contained a lot of pictures with just a little decoration. Her older blog posts as well as her many books have great ideas. She used to have an article in Creating Keepsakes magazine where she provided a sketch and you worked from there. No recreating the wheel. All of those sketches were combined into a book. It’s called The Best of Becky Higgins Sketches and you can get it used on Amazon. I wouldn’t pay for a new copy. Cathy Zielske is also a pared down scrapbooker, although she has gone mostly digital. Her earlier work is a combo of paper and digital. She has also gone Project Life. She has books as well. If your library keeps their old magazines, look for Simple Scrapbooks or Creating Keepsakes to look through. Simple Scrapbooks closed during the recession and Creating Keepsakes has also been hit by the recession, but there are still some good layouts to copy or scraplift. The main things to remember are you don’t have to go in chronological order and realize that you will never be caught up. Those two things will drive you crazy if you let them. Have fun with it and don’t stress about it.

  18. Barbara says:

    Paper scrapbooking got complicated for me when I had another child. Having two children, If I had a photo of both of them, then whose book do I put it in? If I created one book for both boys, then who would get the book when they grow up? Because I couldn’t solve these dilemmas, I didn’t scrapbook and the photos accumulated for years and years. Once I discovered digital scrapbooking (I use My Publisher on recommendation from Young House Love blog), it was so incredibly freeing to me. All my problems solved! I now create a family album each year. I put all the photos from that year chronologically in the book, keeping the layout and backgrounds very simple. I have the option to print two books, one for each child to keep. It doesn’t really take that much time to create them – certainly much less time than creating a paper scrapbook. I wait until they email me special offers so I never pay full price. I highly recommend digital scrapbooking.

  19. Shelley says:

    I prefer my photos to be digital, because that makes them easier to share with others via email or website (like Photobucket, etc.) and they don’t take up so much space. I have a lot of paper photos because my parents were photographers and so were one set of grandparents and two great-grandparents. Then of course there are all those photos from the pre-digital age. I’m gradually chipping away at those, scanning them and pitching any that don’t have people that I like in them or aren’t a very good quality. The digital photo files are just by year / decade if I’m not sure which year. I need to back these up more frequently as I work my way through them. I’m not good at deleting digital photos unless they are really bad. I have had some of my digital photos get corrupted when I tried to copy them from one file to another, so I would check that they made it OK before throwing anything away. One thing I would suggest if you decide to go the paper route is to make sure you label your photos with name, place and date, particularly if they are the kind that are likely to be passed down. It is very frustrating to have a lovely photo of someone and have no clue who they are.

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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.