Friday, December 12, 2014

Looking for that one picture....

Several weeks ago my daughter put in a request on behalf of the middle school for her Kindergarten photo and I've kept moving the task down the to do list because I knew it wasn't just going to be a two-second job. It would snowball into something. She's in 8th Grade and it's for the yearbook. I can't imagine being the individual responsible for acquiring these for every student AND putting the target deadline for Winter  Christmas Break. I'd love to see her inbox...

To put this in perspective, Kindergarten for us was 2006, right there between film cameras being stuffed in the back of the drawer and the complete acceptance of digital photography. Social media sharing also exploded around this time. Through this, the annual fall school picture day has still yielded an envelope of pictures that family loves to receive and display in their homes for years to come. Despite carefully posed selfies with clever filters that adorn Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and (insert 500 photo sharing sites here), the school picture is the annual avatar on the timeline of our kids' maturation.

I've never been the milk and cookies after school, June Cleaver type mom and I don't do a lot of the mom stuff in the traditional way, but I have done a pretty decent job at keeping pictures organized throughout my adult life.

I've shared my photo organization method with people over the years and it seems like a good thing to share here. While the above picture seems like chaos, it really wasn't. It was just one final organization step I had not completed yet in the overall system I use to keep pictures organized. It took me about half an hour to actually locate the photo I needed, and another hour or two to finish organizing this part of our photo archive.

The tips below are for the everyday folks trying to manage the day to day pictures. I'm not a professional....I'm sure they've all got a better system. One big suggestion as you embark on this process... when you are reminded of the story of the photos you see, jot it down on a piece of paper. Even if you aren't a scrapbooker, others seeing the photos later will enjoy the story if it's filed along with the photos. For digital photos, most photo management software allows for captions or notes or something.

Digital photography:
I'm a scrapbooker and the first thing I learned years ago was start with today and stay current going forward, then catch up the past when you have time. Get your workflow down that works for you. Then apply it going backward, most recent first.

Start the new year off right and set up a folder in your picture section on your computer or the cloud of your choice for 2015, make folders for each month. That's where you will start January 1, 2015 regularly transferring pictures from your phone, camera, etc. I do this on average, once a week from my phone.

I use Dropbox as the in between, then transfer to iPhoto after scrapbooking, editing, deleting the duds, etc for permanent backup. My DSLR has a wifi feature and they get automatically dumped into my computer when I'm home, but the same process applies if you transfer off your camera via USB.  Dates are embedded in the meta data (right click, properties) so there's no need to make weekly folders or daily etc...unless you are highly OCD, which I am, and I do, but it's more for my scrapbook workflow than overall preservation. By year, by month. Simple. Some photo organization programs use tags and facial recognition...if this helps you, go for it. I don't take more time to do that, plus I only have one child so it just became an unnecessary step for me.

This is the system I have used for digital pictures since digital started. The same structure is on my computer, my onsite backup drive, and the backup drive that I recently sent with my parents to put in their fireproof safe. If you don't have your digital pictures on a backup drive, please please do this. Been there, done that with a crashed hard drive and days of waiting to see if that last picture of me with my grandpa can be recovered. It sucks. I think this event was when I got as serious about digital photo organization as I had been my film photos.

The blessing of this effort: If I want to see my daughter's 6th birthday cake...I can find it in about 5 minutes. You'll thank yourself for this effort when it comes time to get that high school graduation slide show ready. Your descendants will thank you as well.

If you have a 10+ year mess of digital pictures on your computer (or phone, multiple cameras, multiple SD cards, CDs, etc) this is going to take some time so break it down into workable parts. Set up the years and months folders. Start dragging pictures and folders into them here and there. Then dig in year by year, month by month while you're sitting there watching TV, bored at the next family gathering, having coffee or a glass of wine while waiting for the kids at practice, etc. Don't forget to back up.

Pre Digital:
I developed the computer system I use from how I organized all my film camera pictures prior to digital after my daughter was born. Everything is sorted by year, then month and/or major event. If you can't break old pictures down by month, then do the best you can to get them by year or event, or decade if you have to.  It isn't always easy to remember. My sister and I started this process with my mom several years ago and it was challenging so use other people to help if you can. It's really quite fun! We need to finish the job with her sometime and I'd venture a guess that the same thing needs to happen on my husband's side of the family.
Gather film photos in a central location over the next few months. Feel free to throw out duplicates, dud pictures that are especially common with film photography. It's ok. Really. You don't need 25 blurry pictures of Aunt or two are fine.
Get some photo boxes. Michaels, Walmart, Target, etc have them. The beauty of digital photography....I only have 4 big photo storage boxes on the basement shelf for my entire life...up to the mid 2000s.
Get index card dividers that you can label or just cut paper, card stock, or use envelopes to label with the years, months.
Dig in, make piles, write on the back of pictures, sort sort sort. Then file.

Professional family pictures, school pictures of your kids, your other kids in the family, etc:
The size and number of these made it inconvenient to store in the photo boxes, which is why I had the huge piles yesterday that were only partially organized. I use envelopes divided by year, child, grade.
My nieces and nephews school pictures go in envelope for my side, one envelope for my husband's side. It's their parents' job to organize those! haha!
When I started doing an annual album in the Project Life method these pictures became part of the album and are put in either digitally or placed in the large envelope stored in the album where I put greeting cards, etc.
Our cousins and their kids pictures are similarly divided...they all go in one envelope by family.

What about all that artwork the kids brought home through early elementary school?
Save a few favorites, take digital photos of the rest, and toss it. Then make a photo book on any number of photo sites out there or make it part of your annual album. I know when we moved this last time I got rid of so much of the artwork, but I photographed it for this purpose. Somewhere in the 2011 photo files are the pictures because that's the winter after we moved and when I did the big purge of all that stuff that was hiding in our closets for 8 years.

The job may seem overwhelming so take your time. Set a goal of a year or so to get it under control, while keeping the current year organized. It really is worth it to have this part of your life somewhat organized. Hope these tips have given some direction to the job. You don't have to scrapbook anything, just keep it organized. Post any questions in the comments.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December Daily 2014

     I toy around with the December Daily every so many years. I love the concept of it. I am the family storyteller, so I get a little geeked out over this kind of stuff. With gearing up to do the annual album in 2015 Project Life style I'm trying to get back in the habit of writing and memory keeping.

     I've completed the project two or three times and I always enjoy going back and seeing what I might otherwise have forgotten in the whirlwind of activity, travel, etc that takes up December. December is also my reflect and plan for the new year month so I tend to get nostalgic. It's something one of the blog authors I follow, Ali Edwards, has done for several years and the scrapbooking community follows along in huge numbers.  Here's a link to her foundation pages for this year. The idea is to document the first 25 days of December and hopefully give some insight into your family traditions, fun experiences of the month, etc.

     I'd nearly given up the idea of doing this album this year. We aren't traveling or having guests until after Christmas. While we have decorations up, the big blowout gift opening really isn't happening as we are taking vacation. We have one side of the family Christmas already done and we've really cut back our gift giving to family over the years. It just seemed rather mundane to go to the trouble of recording the "same thing, different year". Our month is rather, normal, so why bother?

     Then I saw this post on Kerri Bradford's blog. What a great way to store, preserve, save, and keep organized all the happy mail we get during this month! Annnnndddd.....wherever binder rings are, an album will sprout. I realized then that I didn't have to do December DAILY, just December Whatever and add Christmas Cards.
     As I processed through the how of what method, sizing, etc I was going to use, I already had a lot of the stuff I needed. I decided to use some 6x8 digital templates and digital elements from Cathy Zielske  and some patterned paper that just so happened to coordinate. I decided to print the template pages I create at home, then add them to pattern paper backgrounds, and embellish as I wanted. (aka, hybrid scrapbooking) This way I can keep the album out for people to look at throughout the month. I like the immediate gratification of finishing a page, printing it, and having it in my hands right away on these smaller albums, whereas my annual album is exclusively digital and batch printed throughout the year either at Costco or Plus who the heck wants to deal with Costco anymore than necessary in December.
     As far as my focus and approach, I'm just kind of winging it and the Around Here theme Ali Edwards does sometimes kept coming to mind. In my annual album, especially if I get behind,  I use the concept of just jotting things down that are going on 'around here' to give a snapshot of life in a small space.  In this case I'm fleshing out the things going on around here a little more.
    Even though I have restarted the blog to kind of get back into the paper crafting, memory keeping circles, I don't plan to publicly share the album's pages beyond what I have in this post.

I found with my annual album it's so freeing of the mind and pen if you are just preserving life events for those who walk this life hand in hand with you, in person. 
     If you are inspired to do this type of project, click the links I provided, Google is your friend, and the #decemberdaily on Instagram will yield inspiration far more beautiful than I could ever create. ;-)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Raining diamonds

Today brought 72 degree temps, a strong breeze, bright sunshine and a crisp blue sky. As I stood drinking my coffee looking out the open screen door I was drawn to the patterns last night's rain left on the patio. It looked like mother nature had rained diamonds.... The contrast of shadow of the stair railing against the water pattern was just...pretty.
     It's hard to believe we are expecting significant snow in less than 48 hours. In the valley though, it could end up being nothing, which is just as well. We'll see.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Best Gift Evah...

The kids in my family are getting older and it gets increasingly more challenging to select gifts that you know they'll like. Everyone is also spread out across several states and ease of packing and mailing often wins in the end. I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. method of the holiday season because it keeps me sane. Enter...the King. Cash. Would you like plastic or paper? (One of my nieces told me some time ago after receiving a Visa Gift Card; "Best gift EVAH!") Score.

I've done a number of things to present the gift cards or cash I gave in the past. Usually they just get placed in a card or bag with a small trinket, or just in a bag alone, then mailed or hand delivered, and that's that. Sometimes I actually do shop if I have a specific request. The last time I asked one of them for a gift suggestion via text, I was told 'I' Score.

Yes it would be easier to just go to Walmart, grab a money holder card, get the cash back at the register and be done... (yep, 'easier', Walmart during the holiday season, uh huh, anyway..) But that wouldn't give me an excuse to stay in my jammies, crazy socks, oversized hoodie, drink coffee , put the dogs to work, and singing along to iTunes Radio all day.
The dogs are helping me today. 

Besides...we all got into this paper crafting hobby to save money, right? ;-) Greeting cards are expensive!!!! my quest to be more crafty and creative this year I decided to embark on a clever way to present 'the best gift ever'. the interest of bringing the season of thanks into this Christmas focused post...I am thankful for......Google. The internet is meant for people like me. I really try NOT to be clever on my own. Very dangerous. Add wine and it can get downright messy. It's much easier to just copy (with credit!) someone else's cleverness. Google gave me several options, one of which I kept displayed on my MacBook Air for reference when I had time to put it together. It was from a blog post from 2009 (the credit for the cleverness) so I sure didn't want to have to dig for it again later. Sometimes that Google can be a teeny weeny bit inconsistent. 

Today I got ready to start the project since we are doing "Thanks-mas" with my side of the family, who are separated by I don't know, 12? hours, next week. I have a to do list a mile long so I wanted to get this done and have some peaceful creative time today. 

Since I'm over 40 now and according to the eye doc (who is maybe 17) I will need bifocals next time (uh, whatever!), I wanted to get that blog post onto my 21.5" iMac screen so I could see it across the room. Did you know that if you bring safari up on your iMac, things you've found on your other devices running safari magically show up? WHA???? How does it do THAT???? 

It's past lunch time, so here's the finished products. Happy pre-Thanksgiving grocery shopping. You know you WILL forget something right? No sense getting upset about it. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More fun with CAS(E) this Sketch Blog

When I saw my email today from CAS(E) this Sketch Blog I immediately thought of this patterned paper pack I both the small and large 12x12. It's called Simple Elegance, by The Paper Studio. I originally bought it because it matches so much of my house decor that I knew sometime I'd want to come up with a wall hanging of some kind.

Anyway....the sketch was a bit scary...because you know, it looks like a lot of ..... Geometry.
I can do Algebra problems as long as my driveway, but I don't DO Geometry, which is why the sides overlap instead of come out cut just right from the corner of a paper, like one of those ruler that look like an L. There is a pattern to the overlap so I call it....a design element. ;-)

For the sentiment, I had the embossing tinsel out from another project I attempted that ended up in the round file, so I embossed that sentiment so it would pop off the black background.

I can say this was super fun and quick once I simplified the process.


We had a beautiful weather week, until today. Cloudy, 15-20 or so degrees colder than yesterday...just gray. For some reason labrador who is very convincing when she has to pee/is hungry we were up an hour earlier than normal despite the darkness of the mornings. Consequently I got some things finished around the house early (go figure). My early rising this morning gave me some time to play with another sketch challenge from Freshly Made Sketches Blog, while the dog snores at my feet. Thanks Halle.

This little guy arrived on my doorstep last month when I rejoined The Stamps of Life Monthly Stamp Club and I've been looking forward to using it ever since. Snowman2Build reminds me of the old Stampin' Up 'Frosty', which was always a fun winter set.

I've had some mica flake glitter for years, never used until today. Perfect for that snowman-y look. You may think I'm ready for the white stuff. I'm not. Here's the sketch....head over to the blog linked to see how many others interpret this sketch. Very fun!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wednesday Crafty Time

Wednesdays are our weekday 'rest day' from our four evenings per week at CrossFit.

While I love the gym time with my husband and daughter, I enjoy not rushing around on Wednesdays and planning my day/evening around the 4-6 pm block..which ends up extending way beyond that by the time showers, dinners, etc get going. I generally keep the errands to a minimum and lately I'm trying to commit to spending time on Wednesdays (and other days!) doing some creative things, reading, and just being at home. Home is my favorite place to be. In PJs. All day.

Today I worked (way too long) on a Sketch from CAS(E) this sketch blog. I say 'way too long' because I thought I'd never get it 'right'. The sketch is pretty clean and seemed pretty easy...hmmm...

I knew I wanted to use the Chrysanthemum stamp I had from The Stamps of Life, mums2stamp. The card was to go in the mail to my grandma today, who is recovering from an injury. Yikes! A deadline!

I tried to combine with a color combo challenge from another site and I just couldn't get it together without adding some green so I bagged that plan. Once I stamped the mums, they called to be cut out using some nestibilities dies I had on hand.

Well, I haven't done much paper craft stuff in several years and that process required doing some research on how to run the dies and stamped images through the die cutting machine...oye! I managed to NOT break the plates to the machine AND get the images cut pretty quickly with the help of 'Google'. I now understand why this Nestibilities Dies thing becomes a sickness among paper crafters.

I chose the pattern paper early on as 'the one'...but pushed it aside and tried at least 10 others when I was trying to make the color combo work without green...and brought it right back once I added the stems to the mums. I just can't do the free floating flower thing. It just seems incomplete. So there it is...and it got in the mail at least an hour ahead of the mail truck.

Thanks for stopping by!