Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Easiest Way to Organize Years of Photos

When my daughter was born it was during the height of creative scrapbooking.

I have page after page of beautiful photos all narrated in large archival scrapbooks to pass onto her.

That all stopped about the year she was in 7th grade.

Sound familiar?

How about this...

I had boxes and Ziploc baggies and envelopes filled with photos and memorabilia that I had great aspirations of scrapbooking, but that never happened.

You too?

Well, with our downsizing move approaching, I knew that I had to do SOMETHING with those memories.  I was not going to move them as they were.


I knew I had to do something with all the memories that we cleaned out of my in-law's apartment.

So I got busy and organized and I documented the process so that I could share it with you.

I hope this helps you to get your photos and memories in order.

Step 1:  Gather Needed Materials

I recommend having the following on hand.

Card table or second table for sorting
Post-It Notes - size is not an issue
Paper for making notes as needed
Gallon storage bags

Step 2: Set Up for Success

Set up an area where you can facilitate the easy organization of your memorabilia into piles.

Hubby brought in a collapsable table that we use for various craft and reno projects - hence the paint stains.

We set it up in an area in our living room (our dining and living area are all one big area) as all the initial sorting was happening at our dining table.

On the table, I had post-its with the name of each of the siblings in hubby's family along with each of their children's names underneath.

This made it SUPER EASY to create piles once the initial sorting was complete.

Step 3: Start Sorting

Begin by going through all the bit and pieces of photos and memorabilia.


This is typically not a one-day, two-day, or even three-day job.

It took us over 2 weeks to get the process fully done with not only hubby's stuff but our personal family stuff as well.

This is why you want to set up an area where you can leave things and not have to clear off or move every day.

PLUS, you will need to take breaks which I highly recommend that you do.

One of my favorite sayings is "You can only eat an elephant one bite at a time."
(No offense to elephants...)

Fortunately, my sister-in-law was here the week we did this and was a wealth of information about almost all of the items.

If you have someone who has information like that, consider having them come over and help.

It's fun to take a trip down memory lane with someone who has many of the memories!

Between the three of us, we went through albums, folders, and envelopes of so many pictures and items.

Of course, I had little to no information about many of the photos, so I was able to take on the job of creating the piles based on the information of hubby and SIL.

I also think it was important for them to touch each piece and make a decision.

While their father is still living at 102, they just lost their mother a bit less than a year ago.

Going through photos was a great way to help with the grieving process and to remember their parents when they were younger.

Slowly but surely, things started to get organized into "loosely" categorized piles.

One thing that we did was put repeated photos together.

Since both my in-laws were educators they had yearly school photos.

We put like with like and then we were able to cut these apart and distribute to all the grandkids.

Of course, some photos were singles.

These were put into a separate pile.

On a post-it attached to the back, we wrote how many copies and WHO would get those copies.

For example, the sweet lady in the photo above took care of the house and started dinners for the family once my mother-in-law went back to work.

Hubby has such fond memories of her as does my SIL.

They both wanted this photo, so a trip to the local Walgreens (when we can go) or making a copy through a computer with a photo-quality printer means that both of them can have this photo.

Some photos were set aside for our girl's trip to Williamsburg (now on hold).

When we eventually go we will be able to reminisce with the cousins who go on that trip.

Some photos we had no clue or idea about the who, what, and where of them.

We placed these into a donate pile.

Old photos are often used in a variety of ways by different people; things like crafts, props, etc...

Donating them is a way to keep them out of the landfill.

Somethings had very sweet romantic meanings.

Like this flower card sent from my FIL to his wife.  Those things cannot be duplicated, so we decisions were made about where and who got things like this.

When there were items that were similar, they were divided among the three living children as equally as possible.

We found quite a bit of items similar to this Japanese card from the FIL's many overseas trips.

These make great framed decor, so don't discount those options when looking through stuff.

We sent this along to our daughter in California.  

She had visited Japan and thought it was neat to have something from her grandfather's visit as well.

The other thing we did was set aside photos that captured my FIL's life.

Not to be morbid, we know that eventually, we will use these at a service honoring his life, just like we used at my MIL's.

These are set aside with some of the things they decided to keep for just this purpose.

Once everything was organized, we bagged and tagged photos for each person into the gallon Zip-loc baggies and made sure they got their bag.

I then repeated the whole process with my daughter's stuff, including years of my own stuff as well.

Lots of photos - some left over from the albums already finished.

This too included repeats of photos that were professionally done.

I had years of photos with former students, some including their art and school work as well.

There were newspaper clippings, framed photos (which I removed from the frames which were donated), and old family photos predating me!

I followed the same procedures of sort, organize, keep, and share.

I made sure to put duplicates into three piles:  Me, my Mom, and of course Sydnee.

I also put all the like ones together THEN ordered those chronologically.

It was more of a process this time because I was doing it all on my own.

I didn't have help like I did when we went through my in-law's things.

But finally, I was ready to create albums for my daughter and for myself.

I ordered some archival quality albums from Amazon - the kind that has the peel back clear sheets and slightly sticky pages.

I did the best that I could to literally fill the pages in an order that made sense.

I wasn't concerned with writing anything or making the pages decorative.

The point was to get them in an album.

Any items that were not album materials were stored at the bottom of a large clear bin.

The two albums I created were then placed on top and are currently waiting for the big move out of this home.

At the end of the process, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief.

This VERY LARGE task was complete.

Now that we are all in a holding pattern, perhaps it's time to start this process for yourself.

You kind find everything you need on Amazon, so you don't have to go out of your home.

Jump in and use this time to your advantage.

I guarantee that it will make you super happy looking through and organizing your memories.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Lessons Learned During a Pandemic

We are all, hopefully, heeding the warnings and cautions occurring in our nation right now.

I realize that many Americans are working; they're considered essential and must report to work on the daily.

I am retired. I don't report to work.  I haven't since June of 2018.

I consider myself so blessed to be in this position, especially since it allows both hubby (also retired) and I to do our part in the measures we are all undertaking.

But, while I typically "stay home" each and every day, don't for a minute think that this pandemic has not affected us.

It has.

But, I'm a glass-half-full kind of gal and here's how I am choosing to look at our current lives.

1 - We are saving more money.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Hubby and I had actually looked over our budget during the beginning of the year in search of ways we could cut our budget in order to gear up for our downsizing move and improve our credit score.

We ate out A LOT.  I didn't think we did until I did the math and was SHOCKED!

I also spent needless dollars at various stores on needless things that did not enhance the value of my life in any way other than material.

While I realize that our contribution to the economy did help in its small way, we were on the road to spending less, which means we can help out more through donations that we are passionate about.

2 - Our food quality has improved.

Photo Credit:  Ella Olsson

Now, don't get me wrong, there was nothing "bad" about the food we ate when we choose to eat out.


When you cook at home you tend to eat less (portions typically are smaller) and you eat leftovers more readily than not.

We threw away too much food each month because we didn't consider ourselves "leftover eaters."

Now, we are cooking with intention, using the fresh ingredients that are more readily available when ordering groceries online.

We are trying new recipes, sometimes making 4 servings that will create two meals instead of one.

I've lost weight, but have not been starving myself or dieting by any measure.

3 - We are taking 2 daily walks each day, weather permitting.

Photo Credit:  Daniel Reche

Getting out into the sunshine and walking is a proven way to improve your mental health as well as the physical benefits that are part and parcel with exercise in general.

Hubby, Dixiee (our beagle), and I walk the neighborhood two times every day: morning and afternoon.

We live in a rather small neighborhood, but our walks are just a bit over a mile and a quarter, so we're getting in a 2.5-mile walk in total each day.

Hubby and I are having great conversations about anything and everything under the sun.

We're able to say hello to our neighbors, making sure we are keeping our distance.

Plus, it's been great getting some Vitamin D from the sun as well.

4 - I've taken a break from make-up.

Photo Credit:

It has been "freeing" to NOT have to worry about doing my make-up every day.

Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE LOVE LOVE make-up and enjoy playing with it and putting it on.

But, I'm also loving having to NOT put it on because I'm not going anywhere or doing anything other than staying at home.

My face has had a chance to breathe.

Of course, I'm still caring for my skin and making sure to have sunscreen when we are outside, but other than that it's been as naked as a jaybird!

5 - I've found a daily routine that's easy and mindful.

Photo Credit:  Burst

Even though you would think that this "staying home" thing would not really change or affect us because we are retired, think again.

There is a hidden weight over even those of us who are retired during this time.

We too have to stay home, meaning we cannot frequent friends, relatives, local restaurants, or any unnecessary places that we've gone to in the past.

In fact, it feels like we're "being bad" when we get into the car to even pick up groceries.

We are very much aware of what's going on and how it's affecting our daily lives.

We chose to cancel a trip out west to meet with our builder and explore our new city more.

It also impacted our visit with our daughter in California.

I can no longer go on my week-long vacation with the ladies in my family.

And, while I do have a trip planned for early May to go to California with my mom, that is still very much up in the air at this point.


Instead of lamenting on those things, I've chosen to create and stick to a daily routine which involves yoga, walking, daily tasks, meditation, and reading.

The "sameness" of each day helps me to cope in my own way and be thankful that we are healthy and happy.

Our greatest wish and prayer is that you too are healthy and happy.

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