Why Project Life is Such a Rewarding Hobby

I do best when I have a creative outlet. Dear understands this and has always been nothing but totally supportive of each of my creative “kicks,” many of which have formed the fodder for what “Mommy’s doing” and have found their way to this blog. My creative outlet isn’t always a crafty venture; many times it takes the form of home-making, cooking, cake-making, blogging (haha!). But if I’m not producing some kind of “art,” after a while my fingers start twitching. Hence, the embroidery, the sewing, the Project Life.

digital project life photo delivery

As you may know, I’ve been doing digital Project Life for the past year and a half, which has been ideal for me for many reasons. (Although, I have an update about that, which I’ll be posting soon.) I feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish a week’s layout, but oh boy, when I get a thick package of printed 12x12s in the mail it is thrilling.
digital project life photo delivery

(Look at how full of care Persnickety Prints is with their packaging and shipment. Best place to order 12×12 layouts. And if you do it right — pre-ordering large amounts when they are on sale —  the cheapest too.  Highly recommend.)

digital project life layouts printed

So in addition to the sense of accomplishment of keeping up with weekly layouts (if that’s your thing), you get another happy jolt when you see an accumulation of all your hard work, done incrementally in manageable chunks of time made possible through a streamlined Project Life process, but enjoyed cumulatively as you pore over your gorgeous stack of memories preserved.

digital project life

But this joy isn’t just mine and it’s not once and for all. One of the most rewarding aspects of Project Life as a hobby is that it’s enjoyed over and over again and it’s enjoyed by multiple people: my husband, whose gentle appreciation for my documenting of our family’s story is very touching; my children, whose confidence is visibly bolstered by seeing themselves in “Mommy’s album”; and my family who lives far away, notably my mother, who catches up with the daily life she’s missed by soaking in every picture, journaling card, and video when she visits.

digital project life in an album

I kind of like to not look over my albums too often. When I look through them, I like it to be with fresh, re-discovering, remembering eyes. They are bittersweet (the time does go so fast), but they do make time stand still just for a bit, and that’s a comfort to this mother’s heart.

digital project life in album


digital project life in albumCake gets eaten, handmade clothes get outgrown, homemade laundry detergent is not particularly beautiful, but these albums — they get more meaningful, more treasured, and enjoyed by increasing numbers of people. That’s pretty hard to beat.

To read more about Project Life, check out:

About Project Life
7 Ways to Streamline Digital Scrapbooking
Digi Scrapbooking with Project Life, A Foray

Homemade Lemon Dishwasher Pods


homemade dishwasher podsI’m really on a kick. I recently posted about the homemade lavender laundry detergent I made, and now I’m back to tell you about the dishwasher pods I made, courtesy of Happy Money Saver‘s original recipe. I really love these too, and, honestly, my dishes have never come out this sparkly clean. Another neat thing is that these pods use most of the same ingredients as the laundry detergent, with a couple additional extras.

So really (provided you’ve made or intend to make the laundry detergent), the question isn’t why make dishwasher pods too, it’s why wouldn’t you? For a step-by-step, head on over to my post on Apartment Therapy. For instructions on how to make your own storage containers from re-purposed jars, like the one pictured, check out (Almost) Free Pantry Storage.

homemade dishwasher tabsvia


The Vegetarian Wrap We Can’t Stop Eating

vegetarian wrap

vegetarian wrap

These vegetarian wraps are something I threw together during the very first week of our liver cleanse diet for lunch — and we’ve been eating them a few times a week since.

We are six weeks in to the diet, and boy do we feel good. One of my favorite take-aways from the experience is all the new recipes I’ve discovered, both from others and from the mother of invention, necessity. This recipe is one of those. In other words, I made it up. =)

vegetarian wrap

The taste is fresh, the wrap is filling, and it’s made from staples you can easily keep on hand. And the hummus and whole wheat tortilla make the wrap substantial enough to keep you full, vegetarian and cheese-less though it is.

Here’s how to make your own:

The Vegetarian Wrap We Can’t Stop Eating

20 minutes

Serves 2

Serving Size: 1 wrap

The Vegetarian Wrap We Can’t Stop Eating


  • 2 whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup of hummus
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • half of an English cucumber, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 red onion, cut into slivers
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • dash of cumin
  • dash of coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Spread each tortilla with 1/4 cup of hummus, or to taste.
  2. Scatter tomatoes and cucumbers in the middle of each tortilla, dividing evenly between the two servings.
  3. Scatter onion and cilantro over vegetables.
  4. Squeeze lime over the filling of both tortillas.
  5. Sprinkle with cumin and coriander (just a touch each) and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Fold bottom and top of tortilla toward center and then roll into a burrito.

vegetarian wrap

vegetarian wrap

Memory Keeping Monday: Two Weeks of Digital Project Life

Project Life 2014: Week 21

I feel like it’s been working well for these digital project life spreads to use one main color (in this case the goldenrod color), and then sometimes an accent color (here, the light green) and/or an “interest” card (in this case the flowered card). I used Elora’s swimsuit as the jumping-off point in the main color selection and took it from there. The large heart on the right side is from a Photoshop brush I made myself (as are most of the scripted portions, like the week titles, and the “love is gentle” on this layout). They are super easy to make and I plan to write up a tutorial about how to make your own brushes in Photoshop. It’s a really nice way to get some of your own writing in there even though most of the journaling is typed.

digital project lifedigital project life

digital project life

Project Life 2013, Week 39

Here again, I have two main colors, the complementary red and green, with a little dash of yellow. Still practicing to include the key pictures that tell the story rather than all of them. I figure when we look through pictures on SmugMug app on the TV we’ll have something different than the Project Life albums because we’ll get to enjoy all the outtakes. =) digital project life digital project life digital project lifeProducts used:

To read more about digital Project Life, see:

Household Budgeting, Part 3: What I Use to Budget and Why You Should Too

You Need A Budget (YNAB) I recently wrote an article on Apartment Therapy on the Basics of a Household Budget that Works and decided to try YNAB, a budgeting software, after several commenters recommended it. I’ve used it for two months and I think it’s fantastic. It is in line with the principles I believe are essential to a good budgeting system, and it facilitates the 6 Habits of Successful Budgeters.

Sample screen from YNAB program.

Here’s a breakdown of why I think it’s the best: Uses a zero-based plan. This essentially means that YNAB is set up in such a way so that you can easily assign every dollar of income to a particular purpose. You can read about zero-based budgets here and here (this second article is what got me into this method of budgeting in the first place).

via YNAB

Powerful built-in features. YNAB is so user-friendly that rather than merely being a tool for recording my budget actually helps me budget. It has built-in calculators right where you need them and it tells you the main things you need to know without having to search for the numbers (for instance, how much you have available to budget). There is also a reconciliation tool right within YNAB to help you match everything up to your bank statements. Spaces for leaving notes are also extremely handy so you can jot things down about reimbursements, upcoming payments, etc. right within what you use to keep track of your month-to-month finances.

Keeps everything real. What you see in YNAB is an accurate reflection of what is going on in your accounts. This helps you stay on budget because you can believe what you see. When YNAB shows you have $45 left for gas, you can feel secure that that’s actually the case. Similarly, when you see red, you know your cash is low. Being able to see the whole — accurate — picture at a glance is key for sticking to a budgeting system and motivates you to keep recording everything. Powerful resources and community. YNAB is not only an excellent budgeting tool, it’s also a community. There is so much information online about how people deal with certain scenarios, and YNAB itself has a wealth (hehe) of tutorials, information, and motivation.

Nice-to-use app. This may seem trite, but I’m much more apt to use an app if I like the interface! YNAB’s Android app (and I’m sure it’s iPhone equivalent) is totally user friendly and attractive, making it a breeze to record transactions shortly after they happen. And not having a pile of receipts or a long list on a bank statement to catch up on is always refreshing. I’m hooked. I’m SO glad to have found a tool that truly enables me to plan and stick to my budget according to my way of thinking. To try it out for yourself, download a free 34-day trial here. To buy the program is a one-time $60 fee (upgrades are additional). Seriously worth every penny. Oh, and if you’re a student, they give it to you free!! 

To read more about budgeting, check out the other posts in this series:

Household Budgeting, Part 1: What Budgeting Isn’t and Is

Household Budgeting, Part 2: 6 Habits of Successful Budgeters

Memory Keeping Monday: Digital Project Life

Project Life 2014, Week 19

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

Still doing my pages digitally, still enjoying it. I’ve been losing a bit of steam, but I think I’ve streamlined my process of digital Project Life to the point that even when I’m not super motivated, I can keep up — that is saying a lot for a scrapbooking method, I think.

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

Week 19 incorporates pictures from Mother’s Day, including a “Pinterest fail” photo (top right, first photo above)  that I think is a great metaphor for Mother’s Day itself. =) I used 6×12″ inserts to add the extra photos, which I’m doing my best to pare down. I print the inserts on a 12×12″ page and then cut them and put them in these 6 x 12 page protectors.

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

The following page features photos that I added one of my Lightroom presets to. I like the unified look this gives to the page and the feeling it enhances. Plus, can you believe this gorgeous path, just five minutes from our house??

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

Project Life 2014, Week 20

I think these pages are among my favorites. There isn’t a bunch of fancy stuff, they came together quickly, they showcase the photos, but I feel like they have some amount of “my style” maybe? (that doesn’t distract from the images). Elora’s recital warranted an insert for this week as well, this time in 8×10″ format.

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

digital project life | See Mommy Doing

digital project life | See Mommy Doing digital project life | See Mommy Doing

Homemade Laundry Detergent

homemade laundry detergent

I love this homemade laundry detergent so much! Ever since the unexpectedly far-reaching effects of the liver cleansing diet kicked in, I’ve been on a make-my-own kick.

homemade laundry detergent

This laundry detergent works so well. Much better than other high-scoring (according to EWG) natural detergents, and just as well as some regular ones I’ve used in the past. The only issue I noticed was that our clothes weren’t quite as soft. This is easily remedied, either by adding some white vinegar, or by adding a scoop of a salt-based softener (also homemade!).

My full recipe and a step-by-step are published over on Apartment Therapy. Chalkboard labels and chalk marker are from Amazon (but spell lavender correctly on your label). If you’ve ever considered trying to make some, do it! It’s thrilling. =)

Check out All-Natural, DIY Goo Gone that WORKS for another homemade cleaning product made from items you probably have in your kitchen.


Memory Keeping Monday: Two Weeks of Project Life and Thoughts on Photo Selection

I pruned the Knock Outs today after their first flush and I realized again how true it is that so often beauty emerges from the elimination of everything that’s not beautiful.

digital project life

And this thought, of course, as with many gardening epiphanies, applies to so much more than just rose bushes. I got another urge to tear through the house and fill bags with things that aren’t “useful or beautiful.”

digital project life
digital project life

And I also thought of my Project Life albums, specifically in terms of photo selection. One of my goals is to get better at chipping away at everything that distracts from the photos that really tell the story, our story.

digital project life

digital project life

One photo can speak so much more than four that show nuances of expression, etc. Too much of a good thing dilutes the impact. (Actually, that’s one good reason to get those photos out of computer land and into real life: It forces you to cull and makes the mass consumable.)

digital project life

What are your tricks for selecting photos for your albums?

To Be a Mother

A little something I caught by the tail and put on the page, just in time for today:

after a haircut
i held you in the
your body
molded perfectly to
and you were calm
and i was calm
and i remembered what it’s like
to be one body
which is what it is
to be
a mother.


So I Started a Liver Cleansing Diet and Here’s What Shocked Me

I’d been feeling a bit not happy with how I felt and looked lately and decided it was time for a change. I’m usually not one to go like gangbusters for the latest fad diet (no judgment; I just don’t usually hop on bandwagons). Frankly, I never go on any diets, really. BUT, I’ve been nursing less and that sweet tooth caught up to me and my tummy has, um, served me well in carrying three babies. You mamas know what I mean. =)

So I checked in with a friend who’d mentioned a liver cleansing diet that she had done and how it made her feel great and helped her shed some unwanted pounds, etc. That’s how I ended up going for it with this kind of whacky looking number: The Liver Cleansing Diet.

The Liver Cleansing Diet

At its most basic level, the diet is an eight-week eating plan that cuts out sugar, overly processed grains, most meat, and dairy. Every morning, you are supposed to drink two glasses of lemon water and then juiced vegetables.

I approached the diet with mild dread, steeling myself for two months of deprivation. What happened instead, and happened very fast, took me totally by surprise.

Less Really is More

When I watched Forks Over Knives a couple years ago, I remember there being a point about the connection between a literally full tummy and feeling full. For instance, good old Micky D’s might make you feel full without your tummy actually being full because of a very high number of calories in a small volume of food. On the other hand, to feel full eating a salad, you’d eat a larger volume and your full feeling would correspond with an actually full stomach — which, the takeaway was, is ideal.

Our diet was pretty “healthy” by most normal standards before. But I have found that I don’t need to eat portions nearly as big as with our previous types of meals in order to feel satisfied.

liver cleanse diet | vegan pancakes

For instance, I sometimes make special breakfasts for the family on Saturdays. And I could eat quite a large number of fluffy buttermilk pancakes before I needed to stop. When I made vegan pancakes last weekend, though, I only ate three before I was genuinely full — and that was without any other dishes like eggs or meat. My (totally unprofessional) thought on this is that my body registers the nutritiously dense ingredients (i.e., not empty calories) as “enough” because they are.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Okay, dire title, but another thing I realized is that a diet change might be more successful if it’s like ripping off a band-aid. Here’s what I mean: If I had mandated that we “eat less sugar,” it would have been entirely too undefined and I don’t think we would have done a good job committing — and wouldn’t have noticed much of a change. But taking away whole categories of food has, counterintuitively, helped us truly avoid the foods that aren’t great for us. (And, yes, there has definitely been a change. We’ve been on the diet for about a week and a half and have each lost +/-5 pounds and generally feel less sluggish. I know that itself sounds vague, but it’s really true. I didn’t know how sluggish I was until I wasn’t.)

liver cleanse diet | avocado on toast

Vegan Cooking is a Blast

The book comes with lots of recipes, and every one I’ve tried has been very good. But I couldn’t help branching out and I found Oh She Glows, and I LOVE it!!! Angela seems like a lovely person, her pictures are absolutely gorgeous, and every single thing I’ve made from her site has been SO. GOOD.

What’s so fun about vegan cooking, I’ve discovered, is that you can make things from some “questionable” ingredients — and they end up tasting and looking and feeling so much like the real thing!!! It’s a thrill every time. Which brings me to my next discovery (and a quandary, which is that I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do when this is over).

broccoli and cauliflower salad

Why Not??

Finding out that vegan brownies and whipped frozen bananas are such a thoroughly delightful treat makes me wonder when and why I’d make real brownies. I mean, I’m sure I will, but knowing there is an alternative that’s full of avocados and not full of processed sugar has really opened my eyes. Similarly, after weeks of eating pasta that’s not made of white flour, why wouldn’t I continue always rather than sporadically choosing these healthier alternatives? (Oh yeah, price. Well, I’m waiting ’til the end of the month to really see, but I think the not-buying-meat-and-dairy plus not eating out will offset purchases like spelt flour, buckwheat groats, and enough fruits and veggies  to keep my children fed — and if you’ve ever seen especially my boys eat, you know of what I speak.)

liver cleanse diet | vegan brownies

It’s a Lifestyle 

Especially when I moved to the South, I realized that others tend to view me as an all-natural hippie type. Which I probably kind of am, on a lot of things. But I hate to be pigeon-holed as “granola”  or “crunchy” and construed as a sum-total conglomerate of beliefs and practices. Like, I’ve worn my babies, but I don’t think  Babywise
tantamount to abuse (talk about the black list). I prefer to just consider myself a thinking adult and an informed consumer. I eschew the, as one AWESOME commenter on Apartment Therapy put it, “Soccer Mommy Blogger With My Low VOC YogaMat trendy” (HAHAHAHAH!!! I got a good long laugh out of that one) persona.

Anyway, tangent aside, I found that with a pile of orange peels (from a surprising and fantastic salad I’m going to share with you next week) on the counter, I couldn’t help thinking, Oh what was that cleaning solution you can make with orange peels? and going ahead and trying it out! It’s fermenting or something in my pantry; I’ll let y’all know how that experiment goes. I’m also really regretting that we aren’t (currently) composting because almost the only garbage I have now is food-scrap related. And we might as well be growing a good amount of that food. Next year.

I also found myself more conscientious about cream I put on my face and the like. If I’m going to all these lengths to avoid putting toxins in my body, I should really get more serious (again) about not putting them all over our skin. The diet has made me re-examine some areas of natural vs. not natural that I’ve gotten a bit lax about through the years. It’s a kind of thinking, and it all goes together.

All this said, I don’t want to be consumed, I don’t want to be distracted. I do ask the Lord to keep me balanced and to lead us forward in this thing that matters to me and therefore to Him. This touches me to no end.

Speaking of sweet things, let’s say see you next time with another dessert:

liver cleanse diet | vegan dessert

Have you ever done a special diet? Did you enjoy it?