How to Store and Organize Photos

Life is happening.  You are creating special moments with your family.  Memories are forming.  Traditions are becoming deeply rooted into your family.  All the while you are snapping away photos trying to preserve all you can of the moments and memories your family is living out.  Before you know it, you find yourself overwhelmed at the idea of how in the world you will preserve it all.

You possibly find yourself with not enough time or money to preserve your memories.  Well, at least that is where I found myself.  Today’s post is to share the system I have found efficient and economical.

Until about 4 years ago, I created the traditional scrapbooks.  But to work on a scrapbook meant dragging out all kinds of tools and supplies.  Once I had set up a work space, I had little time to actually work on the scrapbook.  I began to fall further and further behind.  In 2007 I created my first digital scrapbook and fell in love.  I finished an entire book in less than 2 hours.  Previously, 2 hours might complete only 1 page!  Plus look at how much space it takes up…

and  it’s not very pretty either.

I like this look much better…

1.  First set up an account on one of the many photo storage/sharing websites.  I really love Picasa.  It’s very easy to use.  Plus, you are able to download their free editing software if you are one who loves to play with your pics once you’ve taken them.

2.  Upload your photos by month.  I set up an album for each month of the year.  About once or twice a month, I log into my Picasa account, insert my memory disc into the computer and upload the pictures for the month into that month’s album.  This allows me to delete my disk so it is freed up for more pictures.  In addition, my pictures are protected in case my disk is destroyed.  (What I love about Picasa is the ability to download your uploaded pics for free anytime you need to)

3.  I also suggest storing pictures on an external hard drive for extra precaution using the exact system.  Simply set up a folder for each year.  Within each year’s folder, create folders by month.  I do not store my pictures on my computer.  Much too scared of a computer crash losing all my precious pictures.

4.  Once you have organized all your pictures, properly storing them, and sorting them so they are easily accessible, you can focus on creating photo books, scrapbooks, memory books, etc.

5.  My absolute favorite website for creating photo books is Blurb.  The books I’ve created on their site are absolutely beautiful.  They offer so many options for design and layout of your book.  You can customize the size of the book, hardcover, softcover, image wrap, etc.  You can choose designs for your pages, color backgrounds, basically anything you want to do, you can do.  I love their picture/text page layouts.

6.  If you go with Blurb, you will download their free Booksmart software to create your books.

7.  I created photo books by the year.  The exception is for a very special event, I might create a separate book (for instance our Hawaii trip for our 10 year anniversary received its own book).  Try not to focus on how far behind you are so as not to overwhelm yourself.  Instead focus on organizing all the pictures and beginning and completing one book.  One book at a time.

This system has really made my life easier.  I take a ton of pictures and really need an adequate system to organize and preserve our precious memories.  I love these books because all of our pictures are now at our fingertips displayed chronologically to make sense.  Our boys love to pull these off the shelves and thumb through them.  I love hearing their excitement while reminiscing.


Sweet Hamburgers and Memories

*******This is a guest post by Adina Bailey, co-founder of Take Them A Meal.  Take Them a Meal is a free online meal scheduling website allowing users a simple system to provide care to those in need.  Adina is also one of my dearest friends, who is a great inspiration to me as I watch the way she loves and shepherds her children.  ********

Several recent Barefoot Walks posts (written by my friend Renee) inspired me to think of a memory from childhood that I still carry with me today – a memory I want to create with my own children, so they will carry it as well.

When I was a child, I visited my aunt one day at her apartment in Baltimore.  She and I spent part of the day together, and she planned a special project for us.  My Aunt Becky is one of the most thoughtful people I know, and even today she pays attention to the details of my life and the lives of my children in order to make us feel special.  She loves her family well, is considerate of others, and gracefully won a battle against cancer.

I remember the project we completed in vivid detail.  It was a cooking project and even at my young age I appreciated the irony of it.  Together, we made cookies that looked like little hamburgers.  I loved that the salty image turned out to be a sweet minty treat.

Now, as I’m taking time to remember that day, I realize all the love that went into planning and spending that time with me.  What really is a simple project planned out by my aunt became a lifetime memory for me.  I want my own children to have memories, like the one I’m cherishing, to look back on when they feel insecure or need to remember how much they are loved.

Here is the recipe for Hamburger Cookies….,1710,150180-249192,00.html

Read more about it at,1710,150180-249192,00.html Content Copyright © 2012 – All rights reserved.

48 vanilla wafers 24 chocolate covered peppermint patties 1/4 c. flaked coconut 1 drop green food coloring Sesame seeds
In a small jar combine a few drops of water and green food coloring. Add coconut; cover and shake until all of the coconut is tinted. Set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a peppermint pattie on top of a vanilla wafer on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in oven 1 minute or just until chocolate begins to soften. Sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon of coconut. Top with another vanilla wafer. Press gently with a clean pastry brush, brush top vanilla wafer with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 24 cookies.

Here’s what I created with my own children as I shared how I had made these same cookies when I was a little girl.

What a fun time recalling a special memory from my childhood with my own children… and delicious too!

School Years Memory Book Tutorial

The lives of our littles are filled with memories, accomplishments, achievements, growth, and drastic change during their grade school years.  I’m realizing that as my children age, I can easily forget some of the little things of who they were before.  The process of maturing and aging brings about constant change.

I desperately want to remember it all.  I want to remember how tall he was at 7 years old.  I want to remember the funny one-liners that seemed to roll off his tongue.  I want to remember that his favorite movie was How to Train Your Dragon and he could watch it over and over and over again as if it were his first time seeing it.  I want to remember what his drawings looked like at 6 years old.  I want to remember it all.

As much as I desire to hold onto the memories, I recognize that everything that comes home during the school year cannot be kept and preserved.  I also recognize I have limited time and need a system of preserving their school years that would be both efficient and meaningful.  And I wanted a way to preserve these years that would allow us to reflect on them together.  One day I want to pass these memories to them so they can share them with their children.

I created  a binder that I use to preserve the important stuff from the grade school years.  And today I’m going to share with you how you can make your own.  In addition, you can download the free School Days Printables for each year that will allow you to record information through the years.

There are several ways you can create a School Years Book for your children.  If you are the crafty type, you will love the tutorial I’m sharing today.  If you are not the crafty type, you may prefer to pop into Target and pick up one of their super cute binders for $10 and save yourself the time of making the actual binder yourself.

I made a school years binder for each child.  Inside the binder is a divider for Pre-K through 6th Grade.  I would suggest you do a separate binder for the Preschool years.  Within each section is a fill in the blank series of questions that are the same each year.  Questions such as favorite color, favorite movie, friends, family vacation, etc.  There are places for your child to draw a picture each year (I love to see how their drawing changes through the years).  There are places to record the funny things they said through the year, memorable experiences, you get the picture.  I also include within each section several different sized page protectors.  I use the large full sheet protectors to house items that cannot be hole punched and you don’t want lost in the shuffle.  I use the 4×6 and 5×7 page protectors to insert school and sports pictures from each year.  (I do not use this binder as a photo album.  I use it for school pictures and sports pictures so you can note the changes from year to year).  The rest I leave available for all the items that will come home that you never want to forget.

When report cards or progress reports come home, they get hole-punched and put into the binder.  When awards or certificates are earned, they are punched and put into the binder (or you can put them in a page protector).  Basically any item from the school year that you want to hold onto and display in a manner that allows you to easily reflect on, goes into the binder.

Now, if you decide to make one of these and you want to do it the quick and easy route, all you need to do is purchase a large 3 ring binder (at least a 2 inch in size), a pack of index dividers to label for each grade, and a few different sized sheet protectors.  Next, download my free School Days Printables.  Assemble your binder and you are ready to go.  This will take no time at all!

If you would like to make one yourself, read on for the full tutorial!

This will be the final product

Supplies Needed:

  • 2 Inch Chipboard 3 Ring Binder (I like the ones with the black spine.  If you get a plain chipboard binder, you can paint the spine whatever color you want.  Just an extra step I like to avoid) (The cheapest place I’ve found to purchase these binders is Bulk Office Supply)
  • 2 sheets of 12×12 heavy decorative cardstock for cover, back, and spine of binder
  • 9 sheets 8 1/2 x 11 heavy cardstock for dividers (if making Pre-K thru 6th grade)
  • 1 inch circle punch
  • 2 inch circle punch
  • corner rounder
  • tape measure
  • paper-cutter
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush


  • Using your tape measure, measure the dimensions of the front cover of your binder.  (I’ve learned the hard way that each binder measures differently.  If you are making multiple binders, you need to measure each binder rather than trying to measure one binder to make 3.)
  • Using your paper-cutter, cut your cardstock to the measurements.  Lay it on the cover of your binder to make sure it is as close to exact as possible.  You don’t want it to hang over the binder much if any at all.
  • Take your corner rounder, and round the 2 corners of your cardstock that will be the front edge of your binder.  Like this…

then it should look like this, just like the front of your binder.

  • Do the same step for the back cover of the binder with your 2nd piece of cardstock
  • From the scraps that you cut off your front and back cover pieces, you will have what you need for the spine.  Take one of the scrap pieces and cut it to the length of the spine.  The width should be perfect.
  • Now you should have your front, back and spine cover pieces cut and shaped to adhere to the binder.
  • You will glue your cardstock to the binder with Mod Podge.  I have found it MUCH easier to make the cover look just about perfect if I have the binder level before gluing the cardstock down.  As you can see in the picture below, I use a couple of books propped inside my binder to make my binder as level as possible.  Next I lay my front cover piece down and position it prior to gluing so that it looks exactly how I want it to look.

  • This is the slightly tricky part.  So just move slowly here.  I have found that I can make the cover look smooth and beautiful if I glue it down section by section rather than coating the entire cover with Mod Podge and laying the cardstock on top.  It takes a couple of extra minutes.  But the finish will be fantastic!  If you apply Mod Podge to the entire cover then try to lay the cardstock down, you could end up with bubbles that are a real pain to deal with.  Once I have my paper positioned just right, I lay my left arm firmly on the paper and binder close to the bottom of the binder to keep it in place.  Then I use my left hand (still with my left arm holding the paper down) to lift up just the bottom of the paper.  Using my right hand, I will apply Mod Podge to the bottom 2 inches or so of the binder then firmly press down your cardstock.  (This sounds more complicated than it is.  It’s not.  The point is to get the bottom of it glued down so your paper won’t reposition on you).

  • Once you have the bottom glued down, work your way up the entire cover.  Apply Mod Podge to the next 2 inches up, going all the way across, and firmly press down.  Each time taking care to push out any bubbles or excess glue.  It usually takes about 5 sections to make it to the top.  The total time will only be about 2 minutes.
  • Repeat this exact process for the back cover.
  • The spine is easier.  Coat the spine with Mod Podge and lay your cut spine cardstock firmly into place.
  • At this stage you will have the front, back, and spine covered with the cardstock.   You are 1/3 of the way done!

  • Using your computer, type up what you want the front and spine to be labeled.  I label my front with my son’s name then the spine to say “Andrew’s School Days”.  Print on cardstock.  Mod Podge on printer paper doesn’t do as well as it does on cardstock.
  • Mod Podge your labels and any other embellishments onto your cover and spine.

  • The final step for the outside of the binder is to seal it with Mod Podge.  I recommend 2 coats.  Using a foam brush, brush on the Mod Podge to cover the entire binder.  I prefer to lay the binder opened up so I can do the entire binder in 1 step.  Using a foam brush, apply the Mod Podge taking care to brush in the same direction.  Wait about 20 minutes between coats.
  • While waiting for your Mod Podge to dry, you can begin to construct the inside of the binder.  At this point, you can either buy index dividers or you can make your own.  I usually make my own so I can use the colors I want and completely customize them.
  •  Using your 2 inch circle punch, punch 7 circles from one of your 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of cardstock.  These will be used for your divider tabs.
  • On your computer, type up the labels for your dividers.  Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st Grade, Etc.

  • Using your 1 inch circle punch, punch out each of the labels you just printed out.
  • Glue the 1 inch label punches to the 2 inch cardstock punches.  Now you have your divider tabs.

  • Glue each divider tab to one of your 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of cardstock to create your index dividers.
  • Hole punch your index dividers.

  • Place index dividers into your binder and assemble the rest by filling with printable pages and page protectors.

Your children will love this binder as much as you do.  They will see how much you treasure their hard work, and you will love having one place to store it all, to protect and preserve it.  I’ve discovered my little guys on numerous occasions flipping through their books admiring their work, creations, and awards.

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A 4th of July Family Tradition That Could Change The World

As we celebrate our country’s independence today, I would like to encourage you to spend time praying with your family today for our nation.  It’s a family tradition that could change the world.  Imagine the impact of families around the world praying together for our nation.  May our hearts be filled with gratitude today for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to bring us the freedom we enjoy today.  May we thank God for protecting us and blessing us the way He has.

The following links provide wonderful inspiration and reflection on what we are celebrating each 4th of July.  Andy Stanley is one of the most gifted communicators I’ve ever listened to.  The messages are brief but incredibly rich, and I can’t think of a better way to begin our 4th of July celebrations than to listen to these messages, reflect on what God has done for us, and pray for our nation.

If your children are old enough to listen to a sermon for about 20 minutes, I would encourage you to listen to these together as a family.

A New Look At America’s Christian Heritage Part I

A New Look At America’s Christian Heritage Part II

I hope your 4th of July is full of fun memories with friends and family!

Giveaway Winner

Congrats Stephanie Parlee on winning Rory’s Story Cubes!

DIY Dry Erase Picture Frame

My favorite part of summer is having my boys home for extended periods of time allowing us ample opportunities to create special moments and memories together. My boys are still at ages where they love being with me, and they love having projects that we can work on together.  Working on a craft or creation together provides us with a bonding experience that each of us treasures.

I’ve posted this project on our family blog in the past.  I’m posting the idea again here because it is such a popular one and is one your kids or grandkids can easily do, even on their own.

Do you have empty picture frames sitting in a drawer somewhere?  If not, you can buy them for $1 at the dollar store or Wal-Mart.  A picture frame dry erase board is so useful around the house.  I love to make them using cardstock that coordinates with the decor, which is much more fun and interesting than the plain white boards.

We have found uses all over the house for these picture frame boards.  We use one on our family command center wall for writing out our weekly menu, we use one in the kitchen for writing our scripture memory for the week, and we use them in the boys’ rooms for their personal hygiene chore charts.

They also make great gifts.  The boys and I made these for our niece and nephew for Christmas to coordinate with their bedrooms.  We added their names to them and a little fun embellishments.  One of my nieces has enjoyed making these herself to give to friends as birthday gifts.

Today we are making one as a gift to go along with a meal we are providing for a friend who recently had a baby.  We will use it to announce the menu for what we are providing.  A fun little gift the family can continue to use in their home even after the meal is devoured.


Picture frame (size is up to you depending on what you plan to use it for.  I have made all different sizes and they are all fun!)

Decorative cardstock (I’ve even used fabric scraps)

Scissors or paper cutter

Tape measure (only if using scissors rather than a paper cutter)

Ok, here is the so simple tutorial, it can hardly be called a tutorial.

Step 1: Measure and cut your paper to fit inside your picture frame.  We are using an 8 x 10 frame, so we cut our cardstock to those dimensions.

Step 2:  Insert the paper inside the frame behind the glass

Step 3:  Write a message

That is it!!

Options:  Add a hanging ribbon to the frame.  Or embellish the cardstock for added interest.

A Sweet Storytelling Tradition & Giveaway

(Photo courtesy of Rebecca Kryshtalowych)

One of my favorite times of the day is bedtime.  It is a sweet time of the day when the kids have quieted down, and their hearts are softened and eager to give and receive.  Sword fights have ceased, the little boy smell has been washed clean and replaced with a fresh scent, the brotherly bickering has ended, the heavy running feet have slowed to soft little tiptoes, and the loud demands have been replaced with softer tones sharing stories and asking questions.

One of my very dear friends, Rebecca, was over one day with her son James, who is great buddies with my youngest son, Andrew.  Rebecca was telling me about their bedtime routine and how James would tell stories and include Andrew in his story every night.  Rebecca and her husband Greg have a bedtime story tradition with James where they begin the story and let James create the rest of the story prompting and guiding him when needed.  What a sweet way to go to bed at night!

Here is what Rebecca shares with us about their family’s bedtime tradition:

“We always start the story…’once upon a time there was a small boy named…’ and then, James will say his own name. We continue to feed him “ideas” and he fills in the gaps with people, activities, places, etc. For example—

 Once upon a time there was a small boy named:  James

And another small boy named:  Andrew Robinson (he ALWAYS says this one next!)

And his other friend:  Mallory

 One day they decided to play: baseball with blue bats

they met at the: baseball field

 and so on and so on…James develops the story with a little guidance from us. It’s fun and different every day. And, James loves it! The reason Greg started to do this is because James wouldn’t let us sing him songs before bedtime. He didn’t like it….our tradition with Andrew was to sing songs to him after we read bedtime stories. So, we have a different tradition with each child”

For so many reasons, I just love this tradition.

  •  Creativity is ignited in the child.
  • The child has a say in what will take place.  His little voice is being heard in a positive light.
  • It’s the same but different every night.  Same setting, different story.
  • You have the opportunity to learn and understand your child better when you are hearing what is in their heart and mind
  • Could be a great tool for the child who isn’t as verbal or doesn’t express feelings well verbally

I’d love to hear some of your bedtime traditions.  Please feel free to comment to share your thoughts with us!  One lucky commenter will receive Rory’s Story Cubes.

Comments must be submitted by Sunday night at 11:59 pm.  Leaving a comment gives you one chance to win.  Leaving a comment with links to posts on twitter, Facebook, pinterest, or your blog referencing this post will give you two chances to win.  Winner will be drawn at random and announced Monday.