I have written a couple of other posts on this topic previously on my blog (HERE and HERE); however, they are at least a couple years old.  I thought it was high time to write a refresher post– especially since I mentioned it recently on a podcast about using my big camera in everyday life, and I also recently gave a short talk at a ladies’ event at church about organized memory keeping with digital photos.

In fact, my workflow hasn’t actually changed in any substantial way since my post about using Flickr.  I think that this means that my process is working really well for me and the way that my brain works.  I will say this: the process is work-intensive.  It is not quick and easy.  It takes dedication, but I firmly believe that it is absolutely worth it.

Therefore, I think it is worth sharing again– so here is my current workflow:

  •  Get the photos to the computer.
    • I have a folder in “My Pictures” for each year.  Within that folder, I keep monthly folders.  If there is an especially big event (say, a special vacation), I might have an additional subfolder for that set of photos.  But in general, monthly folders are sufficient.
    • Several times per month (or more frequently, especially if I want to use a particular photo quickly– for example, on the blog, or to share with a friend or family member), I put my SD card into the slot on my laptop and copy the photos onto my hard drive.
    • Once per week, my husband and I upload photos from our phones to Dropbox, and I copy those photos onto my laptop’s hard drive, as well.  I keep cell phone photos in separate subfolders in my monthly folders because it helps me keep what photos I’ve processed straight.  I generally work with one camera at a time so that my brain doesn’t get too tangled.
  • Delete the bad photos.
    • I delete anything that is badly blurry, or a photo of someone with a really weird expression or eyes closed.  I delete obvious near-duplicates.
    • I have a hard time culling too many photos, though.  My kids are little, and their expressions change so quickly.  I am lenient on myself and probably keep too many…
  • Rename the photos from the big camera.  Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  
    • The images from my big camera are just numbered, and so I rename these files with YYYY_MM_DD_shorttext so that there is a bit of information captured in the filename.
    • Yes, this is an extra, unnecessary step.  However, I appreciate the quickly-accessible information when I’m scanning through my monthly folder.
    • For big events with lots of photos, I don’t always re-name, especially if the files are in a separate subfolder.
  • Import photos into Lightroom.
    • I import my photos in smaller batches when I can; it makes the next tasks seem quicker.
  • Add metadata.
    • In my opinion, this is the most important step.  As I gushed about in my long-ago post about metadata, it is amazing that there is a way to record stories right there within the .jpg file.  I started adding captions and stories to each and every photo that I add to my hard drive within a few months of my first child being born, and it is a game-changer.  Yes, it takes a lot of time, but now I know my thoughts or the story behind every photo.  I am able to preserve precious details in a manageable (and backed-up!) way.  It’s kind of like when you used to write photo details on the back of a print…
    • In Lightroom, in the Grid or Loupe view, there is a “Caption” field in the right-hand menu:
    • You don’t need a fancy program to enter a caption, though!  In Windows Explorer (this is Windows 8), make sure that in the “View/Navigation Pane” options, the “Details Pane” is turned on.  The metadata will be revealed, and you can edit fields right there, including the “Title” field (This is where LR writes caption data, and where it will be picked up by Flickr, etc. as caption information).  Make sure you click the “Save” button to write your metadata changes to the file!!
    • You can add the same story to a series of photos by selecting them all before you type your caption.
  • Choose favorites.
    • In each import set, after I’ve captioned all of the photos, I select favorite photos.  I personally label them  with a purple color label in LR.
    • I’ve set up smart collections for each month; based on the date and color label, the collections automatically pull in those favorite photos so that I can easily export and share them later.
  • Edit favorites.
    • During each import session, I do some simple edits on only the photos I’ve selected as favorites.
  • Export and manually back up photos.
    • At the end of each month, I export the favorite photos to a temporary folder and upload them to an album on Flickr that I designate to be viewable to family and friends.  I also copy them to a computer at a remote location for an extra layer of protection (Thanks, Dad, for giving me back-up space!).  Then I delete this folder of edited images; the edits are stored in Lightroom.
    • At the end of each month, I upload all of my photos (the unedited files) from that month (from all of my cameras) to a private album on Flickr– this is an additional layer of backup for my photos.  I have Crashplan running in the background at all times, and theoretically once per week, I also back up my laptop to a local hard drive (Even though I have Google calendar set to send me a reminder every single week, I will admit that I am too lazy to actually do it every week).
    • Once my photos are backed up in multiple locations, I empty my camera’s memory card(s) for that month.

Processing my photos through this workflow ensures most importantly that my stories are paired with the photos–I can’t stand the idea of not having an idea of why a photo was taken.  My photos are safely backed up, and I am able to (mostly) keep on top of the influx of new ones.  I am able to share with family and friends, and I am able to have photos ready for memory-keeping projects at any time.

Perhaps you have heard of this new-ish trend in Bible journaling?  Creative people draw, letter, and color in their Bibles as they reflect on the passage they are studying.

I’ve been intrigued by this idea, and now that summer is starting, I thought that I would give it a try.  During the academic year, I participate in Bible Study Fellowship, which is a wonderful, in-depth, and disciplined study.  I very much appreciate the structure and schedule to BSF, but for summer break, I decided to try something a little bit different (and way further out of my comfort zone).

I thought a lot about whether I should share my devotions on my blog, and while I still don’t know if I will post about all of them, I thought I would at least share this one.


I’ve begun the summer by using the BSF prayer guide for the John Bible study that will begin in the fall.  The guide gives Scripture from the book of John and suggests prayer prompts based upon that Scripture passage.  As I read through the first few pages, I was struck especially by John 10:10.  Jesus came that I, Natalie, might have life in Him, and have it abundantly!  A joyful life.

For the past few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been overshadowed by clouds.  It didn’t help that the weather itself was literally cloudy, rainy, and cold.  I was discouraged, frustrated, and sad.  And I didn’t like it.  But I just couldn’t shake the clouds.  I decided that I should really study this idea of a joyful life– a fullness of joy from and through Christ, not my circumstances or accomplishments.  In Christ alone, my joy is complete.  A completeness of joy.  What does this mean?

I used my concordance to do a bit of a word study on the word “joy.”  Several verses struck me, but the one that really kept echoing in my thoughts was Nehemiah 8:10.  A little bit of context: The Babylonian exiles have returned to Jerusalem and have rebuilt the city wall, amidst much opposition.  The wall is completed, and all the people gather to hear Ezra read the book of the Law of Moses.  The people weep as they hear the words of God and have them explained to them.  Nehemiah and Ezra tell the people not to mourn, for “the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Cross-referencing this verse led me to passages in the Law about different feasts in which the people were told to rejoice before the Lord.  The feasts were in celebration of the blessings that God had given to the people– they were to celebrate and be satisfied in the abundance of God’s provision.

All of this leads back to that abundant life in Jesus Christ.  His blessings have overflowed upon me– most importantly through my salvation, but also in the everyday blessings I see, well, every day.  I should be celebrating them.  This reminded me of one of the memory verses my kids and I sing together, “Rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you.”  Deuteronomy 26:11.  I find my strength in what God has done, in His abundant blessings.

So the idea of thankfulness and joy in gratitude for God’s blessings is absolutely not a new one, but this personal series of devotions was instrumental to me, at this moment in my life, to begin to drive away the clouds that were crowding in on me.  I used colored pencils to create a sun-filled sky above lush grass.  You can see the clouds being pushed away, by God’s strength, at the bottom of the picture.

My joy is in Him.  Thank you, Lord.

artful devotions: Nehemiah 8:10

I was so excited to be invited by Tracie to be a guest on another podcast of hers, the Scrap Gals podcast! Two other ladies and myself had a conversation with Tiffany and Tracie about using our DSLR cameras in everyday life.

I’ve listened to almost all of the Scrap Gals episodes, so it was especially exciting to actually be a real part of the conversation.  Usually I’m listening to the podcast while I’m running, so I must look quite interesting when I randomly laugh or try to chime in with my own thoughts.  This time, the other ladies could actually hear me!😉

Thanks again, Tiffany and Tracie, for having me on the show!

P.S. I was a guest on another of Tracie’s podcasts earlier this year!

A number of years ago now, I went to a Creating Keepsakes convention with a friend.  One of the classes we took together was “Misting and More” sponsored by Studio Calico– and I think Kelly Purkey was the teacher!   In the class, we learned different techniques for using Mr. Hueys mists– masking, resist, splattering etc.

We made little 2.5″x4″ cards for each technique, and they were meant to go onto a layout, but I didn’t ever make the layout.  I did save the cards, because I thought they were really cool.  When I wanted a set of thank-you cards recently, I decided to finally put these misted pieces to good use!


I inked the edges of the misted pieces to match the “thank you” sentiment, and the only other thing I did was to add enamel dots to the rub-on-resist card (the center one in the photo above), since it needed a little bit of dimension and texture to my eye.




Garden 2016

I planted my 2016 garden last Sunday!


I purchased tomatoes and cucumbers at Home Depot and planted some (probably very old) Burpee zucchini seeds.  I had seriously considered decreasing the number of plants I put into the garden, but Husband (easily) convinced me that if we were going to put in a garden at all, we might as well plant 6 tomatoes again.


To be planted! zucchini seeds. TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato Burpless (hybrid) cucumber Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)

Since we put the weed-blocking cloth down last year, it was so much easier to get the garden set up for this year!  Wow.  I just had a few weeds to pull, and I was good-to-go.

garden before.  the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!

garden before. the weed-blocking cloth actually worked really well!


Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after. Can you tell??  Everything is planted!

This year, I decided to switch the sides on which I planted the tomatoes and cucumber/zucchini.  I don’t know, call it crop rotation or something!  I just had the idea that it might be good to switch.  Otherwise, the planting is exactly the same as it was last year– I separated the layers of weed-preventing fabric and planted the seedlings (and in the case of the zucchini, the seeds).  We bought new metal wire trellises for the cucumbers this year, since the wooden ones we got for our first garden in this location had lived their life.

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

Garden after.  Everything is planted!

We’ve had so much rain here recently that I was easily able to water the whole garden from the rain barrel!

After I had the in-ground garden planted, the kids “helped” me to plant their cherry tomato in a pot on our deck.  I helped them to use the spade to replace the soil around the plant, and they took turns watering.  I hope that they will really enjoy watching their plant grow and have a fun (and delicious) time eating its fruit!



...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

...and then they took turns using the watering can!

TamiG grape (hybrid) tomato
Cherokee Purple (heirloom) tomato
Super Fantastic (hybrid) tomato
Burpless (hybrid) cucumber
Husky Cherry Red (hybrid) tomato (for kids’ pot on the deck)



Even though it’s  too late to officially “enter” this layout into Shimelle’s weekly challenge from last week, I did start this layout in response to her “use square photos” prompt!


I’ve had these photos printed for a very long time now, and when I went to my binder-of-stories-to-be-scrapbooked, I was pleased to see that I’d remembered correctly–the largest photo was square!


For supplies, I again turned to the Gossamer Blue May 2014 kit.  (I think that I’m going to try and focus some scrapbooking effort in the coming weeks to “kill” that kit now!).  I creatively layered up lots of tiny scraps from the first layout I made with the kit to make them look larger than they really are, and fussy-cut a large pink rose from the last bit of floral.


Out came the remaining white floral die cuts, too– I love the texture that they added, plus they partially conceal some of the background in the photos so that the focus is on my daughter’s first steps!


I went back and forth between whether “first” or “steps” should be the larger letters, but I like what I finally settled upon.  I stapled the sheer alphas (which I’ve had in my stash forever!) to the page using my long-arm stapler.  I added strips of washi tape under the title to not only secure the vellum in an aesthetically pleasing way, but also to give some more contrast so that the striped alphas are more readable (they’re surprisingly difficult to use!)


I repeated the washi tape at the top of the photo cluster and then at the bottom of the vellum, where I also added the date.  For some reason, I had the date wildly wrong when I first made the layout.  I don’t even know how I could have made such a glaring mistake– but thankfully, it was on washi, and very easy to take up and replace with the correct date (which I did AFTER these photos were taken, because that’s when I realized how wrong the date was!!)



grey diagonal stripe: Hello Sunshine Rain Drops – Pink Paislee
black+white striped/aqua: Favorite Things Seeing Stripes – Heidi Swapp
floral/triangle geometric: Favorite Things In Bloom – Heidi Swapp
pink/red diagonal: Pen Pals – Pink Paislee
white textured cardstock:  American Crafts
vellum: Paper Studio

Favorite Things Epoxy Title Stickers – Heidi Swapp
fussy cut flower from patterned paper
die cut flowers (via Silhouette SD; font = Amigirl Script)
pink enamel dots: Paper Studio
Style 308 Washi Tape – Freckled Fawn
aqua polka dot washi tape – Paper Studio
date stamp: Becky Higgins Project Life (from years ago)
long-arm office stapler

Sheer Alphabet Atlanta – Maya Road
Hello Sunshine Chipboard Alphabet – Pink Paislee
journaling font = traveling typewriter

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe review!  Husband and I still do a lot of cooking, but for whatever reasons, we’ve not made too many new recipes from these cookbooks in the past few months.  We have been going back and re-making favorites from the books, though!  In February, we tried this new one, and then we also made the ATK Pot Roast recipe (twice!!  it’s that good, we had to share it a couple weeks later with friends).  I forgot both times to take photos of the Pot Roast, because I was so excited about eating it😉   But back to the recipe a hand…

Recipe:  Weeknight Bolognese from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2013, (page 259; affiliate link)

ATK weeknight bolognese

  • when did we make this? Friday, February 26, 2016 for supper.
  • did we change anything?  Nope.
  • what did we like?  This is truly a weeknight recipe!
  • what didn’t we like?  It’s worth it for the flavor, but it’s not my normal routine to buy the ground meat mixture called for in the recipe.  However, it’s such a good recipe that I probably should make it a freezer staple to have on hand!
  • will we make it again (any changes in the future)?  Absolutely.  And I would serve it with a plainer pasta than the tricolor rotini that I chose.  I wanted the sauce’s flavor to be the star, and the spinach pasta competed.

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