Rescuing My Photos From Digital Oblivion – the #PreserveProject.

August 13, 2015

  Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

When it comes to procrastinating, I am the worst. Seriously. When it comes to photos, photo storage, and appropriate archiving techniques, my bad habits hit epic levels.

I have always taken a lot of pictures, though arguably of varying quality. I had a little automatic digital camera in college that I used to record a lot of undergrad adventures.

In early 2012, I entered the 21st century and got an iPhone. That’s when my pictures really began to add up in quantity. I always had my phone on me and could constantly record the minute details of every meal, coffee cup, and cliche tourist jaunt around D.C.

(This is a fascinating tale, yes? Exactly what you set out to read today?)

Nothing turns perfectly sane individuals into flash-happy paparazzi like having a baby. Although I haven’t run the numbers, I am pretty sure that my photo records doubled in total size between Miles’ birthday and 6th month. Maybe they tripled.

In addition to all of this, I have all of the RAW photos from my wedding. All 3500 of them. I have baby pictures to turn into a baby book, travel pictures, honeymoon pictures, shower pictures, family pictures – on and on and on.

What is the point of all of this endless trivia? The point is: I have a lot of photos on my hard drive. A lot. And actually, they aren’t all on one hard drive. There are at least 5 computers and two Snapfish accounts holding pictures of ours. I estimated that I have close to 50,000 pictures that I need to archive or organize or *something*.

So really, the point is that 1)I take a lot of photos. 2) My photos from the last _[pick a number, any number]___ years are a royal tangled confusing unusable HOT MESS.

And I’ve had it. I’m tired of my computer being bogged down by thousands of photos that are duplicated and unorganized and undated and unjournaled and living in multiple places. I’m tired of not being able to find images when I want them. I’m SO OVER dreading taking the necessary steps to organize my photos so that I can finally turn them into well-curated, nicely preserved memories.

So I snapped and I did what every well-meaning goal-oriented woman does in a time of crisis: I found an available Instagram hashtag and set to work.

Preserving Photos | The Orange Slate

But seriously, I’ve been diving deep into my archives and am systematically organizing everything. The happy surprise? It’s taking far less time than I thought it would and the deeper I dive, the more relieved I feel. I can now honestly saw that I am SO EXCITED about this project. I’m excited about our photos again. I’m excited about preserving our stories. I’m excited to use my Project Life supplies.

And….lucky you. I’m going to publish a series on here sharing every single step of the process so that you too can rescue all of your lovely photos from digital oblivion. Because, really, don’t you want to enjoy those lovely shots, stories, and memories? They aren’t mean to wither on a hard drive. And there’s a path out of the mess.

Want to follow along as I organize and preserve our memories in a usable, meaningful way? Subscribe to the email updates using that little box on the right.

Or maybe you’re a million steps ahead of me and already have organized all of your photos into beautiful albums? I’m going to be using the #preserveproject hashtag – and I’d love to learn from you!

*Some links are affiliate. Thank you for supporting The Orange Slate!

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Friday Links

Friday Links

May 1, 2015

 Eliot | The Orange Slate

Albania | The Orange Slate

Happy Friday! What’s on your agenda this weekend? It’s baby shower season around here and I’m so excited to help celebrate the pregnancy of a dear friend tomorrow.

A fantastic roundup of podcast suggestions to refresh your listening list. (via Design*Sponge)

An interesting perspective on friendships after college. (Do you agree?) (via Cup of Jo)

Green smoothie inspiration for the summer months ahead. (via Real Simple)

Wisdom for growing up and prioritizing. (via Shauna Neiquist)

A breathtaking collection of photos. (via VSCO)

Hilarious tongue-in-cheek tips for anyone who has ever sat in a meeting that ran over-time. (via TheCooperReview)

One of the most inspiring fundraising drives is going on right now. (via Opportunity International)

Some lovely Mother’s Day gift ideas. (via The Edwards Dinner Party)

I’m excited about this great way to protect Miles’ baby skin during long sunny beach days. (via Amazon)

Tips for conquering procrastination and forming new habits. (via Zen Habits)


*Some links are affiliate. Thanks for supporting The Orange Slate!

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Books | Career

March Book Report.

March 28, 2015



It’s been a while since I posted a book update. Making time to read again feels good. Tracking the books I’m reading encourages me to keep doing it because I’m reminded that I am completing books (which, for someone as OCD as me, is so necessary for successful goal-achieving!)

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Reading this one through Oyster. I was late to the e-reading train but I have been pleased with Oyster’s selection and love this collection of memoir-essays. P.S. Here’s a $15 credit towards Oyster if you want to try it. (When you sign up for the $15 credit, I get some credit too! Free books all around = win / win.)

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist. This one had me at the preface (which happens to be written by Eric Metaxas, the author of Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.). I’m so excited to keep reading this one.

A Bend In The Road: Experiencing God When Your World Caves In. My mom’s group is going through this book together – it’s been challenging. You know those Bible study books that are super boring to actually read? This is not one of those. It’s one of those books is so good when I curl up alone but that also works well for a group-discussion.

The Whole-Brain Child. Still reading through this one. It’ll be particularly helpful, I think, when Miles is just a little older – most of the ideas are geared towards toddlers or young children. It contains some fascinating concepts though about mindfulness and emotion.

The Creative Family. Still reading this one too – I love it! It makes me excited to pick up activities that I haven’t tried ever or in years. It has some really wonderful step-by-step ideas for encouraging young and very young children towards creativity – lots of Waldorf-style activities, which is so inspiring. There’s also a nice collection of quotes and helpful resources.

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. Finished this! It was fantastic. It had some wonderful concepts for leadership and workplace relationships but it also was so applicable to marriage and other personal relationships. I enjoyed it and was truly challenged.

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CREATE2015: The March Edition (Canvas Wall Art and a Giveaway)

March 9, 2015



For 2015, my word of the year is CREATE. As part of this, I’m challenging myself to create or complete a project each month.

For March, I plan to make a piece of canvas wall art using black paint and lyrics. Examples of this are here, here, and here.

I’m spending some time looking for the right lyrics so that I can finish up this project by the end of the month – any suggestions??

ALSO. Remember that January project? The nearly-disastrous art journals? They are done. And I am so happy with them. They aren’t perfect. I learned a lot of lessons and would do several things differently if I created another set. But. They. Are. Complete. And I love the result.

I found the metal hinged rings that I envisioned next to a stack of highlighters at OfficeMax. Go figure.

For the cover, I cut (by hand) sand-toned card stock slightly larger than the other pieces of paper to cover a few irregularities in the edges. (Note to Self: Order a real grown-up paper-trimmer for the next paper project). I attached a title tag. And done.

The pages would look perfect with 2″ x 2″ prints from Instagram or with journaling. The cover would look so crisp spruced up with one of Artifact Uprising’s square prints.

Here’s the catch: I am loving working on my Project Life albums right now and I’m sort of one-track mentally when it comes to learning a new system. So I can’t imagine trying to fill these art journals while also completing my Project Life albums, at least during this learning phase. So I’m GIVING THEM BOTH AWAY TO YOU. (If you’re curious about the paper in the journal, check out the original post about these.)

Here’s how you can enter to win one:

Subscribe via email in that box in the upper right before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 22. That’s it. I’ll select a winner from this blog’s email subscription list and announce and email the winners. Here’s the bonus: you can enter more than one time by sharing one of your favorite posts from this blog on Instagram or Pinterest. An extra link on each of those outlets will count as an extra entry, so every person can enter four times. (Just remember to tag me so that I see the link!)

I’m off to stalk Pinterest for lyric inspiration….

Read about February’s CREATE2015 project here.

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CREATE2015: The January Edition (An Update on the Mixed Paper Books)

February 5, 2015


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So what happened to my grand visions for creating more in 2015? Where did CREATE2015 go? What have I started? Finished? Did the project disappear into oblivion?

*deep breath*

As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to try my hand at mixed paper books* for my January project.  Some talented bloggers made it look like a breeze and I figured it couldn’t be too complicated to assemble some pretty paper.

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Mistaken, thy name is Emily.

Working on the mixed-paper books was fun at the beginning. I enjoyed selecting the paper and choosing different card stock weights and textures from my supply. But then it spiraled into a nightmare.

Error #1. I’ve yet to invest in a big paper cutter. I don’t have a lot of storage for supplies right now and I haven’t really needed it. So I ended up cutting and measuring All. Of. The. Paper for the first two books (which were supposed to be identical twins) by hand. This meant that the cutting was less precise and definitely more time-consuming than I had planned.

Error #2. Once I had all of the paper assembled and cut for the first two books, I had no idea how to bind them. Originally, I planned to simple use a hole-puncher to create holes and then bind them with three loose-ring hinges. I hadn’t considered how difficult it is to cut through a stack of 20 pieces of paper, most of which are card stock.

I ended up painstakingly hole-punching three individual holes in each piece of paper using my single hole-puncher, lining up the pages to make sure that the holes were place consistently.

Again, this was so much more time-consuming than I would have dreamed. It was also sort of painful on my wrists. Also, my initial attempts at hole-punching left the corners of a few pieces looking messy. I used a pair of scalloped-edge scissors to try to mend the look, but I would have been happier with a cleaner aesthetic.

Error #3. I planned to use a piece of heavier material for the cover of each book. My hole-puncher can’t punch through material that thick. Instead of searching for a solution, I simply abandoned the cover in favor of time.

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The long and the short of this? I’m almost done with the two mixed-paper books. I’m only going to try to complete two for now, instead of the originally four. I need to reassess my methods before I expend a lot more time and materials on a similar project.

However. I do think both books will be done by the end of February. So the project wasn’t an utter failure; it will just be completed later than I had originally planned, with fewer books to show for my efforts.

What did I enjoy most about this project? The paper! I loved playing with all of my favorite papers, digging through my collection and finding paper long forgotten, and organizing it.

I definitely would try to make a mixed-paper book again. I think I just need to plan a little more carefully and design the book in advance (along with addressing logistical issues like binding)

On a related note, I’m planning to give these journals away to two of my subscribers once they are complete. More details to come, but if you are interested in one of them, go ahead and provide your email in the box in the upper-right. I’ll keep you posted about the completion of these.

They would be perfect for storing 4×4 or 2×2 Instagram prints or journaling. I am trying to focus on Project Life albums this year, which is why I am going to give them away.


Meanwhile, I’ll be sharing my February craft project (which, ironically, is complete) on the 16th.

Now it’s your turn. Any craft project disasters that you care to share? Humor me in the comments.


*Pictures in this post detail all of the pages, front and back, of the mixed-paper books.

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Books | Career

February Book Report

February 3, 2015


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Folks, does anyone remember that long dry spell right around the birth of a certain child when this English major (squared) did NO READING? It was rough and it was real.

But either because our lives are now more sane than they were in the first wild infant days or simply because I became desperate enough to become more strategic, I’m actually reading again. For Fun. Here’s a quick run-down of the books I’ve read or started since the beginning of the year.

David and Goliath. I ate this up. Malcolm Gladwell has never disappointed me and this one was no exception. The main concept is that disadvantages can force us to lean into other strengths, ultimately making the initial disadvantage an advantage. Fascinating stories and data presented with Gladwell’s typical terse voice – definitely the best book on my shelf so far for 2015.

The Inimitable Jeeves. A re-read. P.G. Wodehouse was my detox in college (and since). If I need a quick laugh, a little light reading, something more literate than the non-fiction on my shelf, this is where I turn. It never disappoints.

The Whole-Brain Child. This is mostly a psychology discussion of why toddlers and children think and act the way they do and what parents can do about it. It’s interesting and (probably will be) helpful, especially regarding tips for communicating with little people, but it’s a little slow – I think the authors could make their point more quickly.

The Parenting Collection. If you were raised in the late 80’s or early 90’s, your parents are – more than likely – familiar with the work of the child psychologist Dr. James Dobson. My mom gave Mark this set for Christmas. I’m excited to start it and garner some tips.

The Creative Family. (Am I becoming that over-analytical mom? Oh yes.) Mark got this for me for Christmas. One of my hero bloggers referred to this book and it looks like a lovely, quick, fun read. I’m also excited to support a fellow blogger!

Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. One of the perks of being married to an MBA student is the constant inflow of interesting business books into our home. Mark enjoyed and recommended this one highly and so it’s next on the shelf for me.

There’s still a tragic lack of fiction on this list, but – baby steps! I’m trying this program to see if I’m able to get my hands on more fiction that I’m not ready to purchase (small apartment problems). What are you reading?

*Disclaimer: There are sponsored links in this post, but I only promote books or products that I actually use, love, or recommend.

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My One Word and a New Year’s Resolution for 2015

January 1, 2015


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It’s the first day of 2015! Don’t you just love the fresh new start that the turning of the year brings?

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a number of 2015 goals and projects, but first I want to talk about the My One Word project. Have you heard about it? The idea is to pick a theme for the year, a word to tie goals, plans, and action steps together.

I knew as early as November what I wanted my word for 2015 to be. Ready? My word for 2015 is CREATE. In 2015, I’m especially determined to:

~ Create craft projects (and bring them to completion).

~ Create relationships (or improve existing relationships).

~ Create memories (and record them!). 

~Create words (and read them!).

I’m the kind of person who needs a structure and a checklist to accomplish my goals. So to help motivate myself towards my goals, I’m making a plan.

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I’m giving my plan for craft projects a name. It’s called CREATE2015. Every month, I’m going to create some kind of craft project (or finish something that’s been sitting unfinished in a box for too long!).

To keep myself motivated (and to motivate you to work towards your resolutions), I’ll share my monthly project on here on the 1st day of every month and then progress on the 15th, 16th, or 17th of the month.

So what’s my project for January?

4 mixed paper journals. 

Ever since I saw these mixed paper books from Elise Joy and this mini-book from A Beautiful Mess, I’ve wanted to try to create an mini mixed-paper journal. (Another example is here.)

I started two back in November and am thrilled with the project and the process so far.

CREATE RELATIONSHIPS (and improve existing ones!).

This item is an umbrella that encompasses a number of goals that I want to work towards. I want to be better about keeping up with old friends. I want to network professionally more intentionally. I want to work towards building deeper friendships in our new home. I’m still figuring out how to create a productive tangible plan for myself, but I love Anne Runyan’s 4 x 4 networking challenge.

CREATE MEMORIES (and record them).

I am determined to catch up on my memory-keping this year (leaning heavily on Becky Higgin’s Project Life system). I’ll share more on this in a few days, but I’m excited to start January by organizing my pictures, backing them up safely (thanks to a practical Christmas gift from my husband!), and creating an action plan for 2015 memory-keeping.

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CREATE WORDS (and read them).

Words have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, but the adventures of 2014 (having a baby, moving, changing jobs) meant that I read (and wrote) less than is normal for me in 2014. In 2015, I’m determined to get back on track, writing and reading regularly, both professionally and personally.

I’m so grateful for everything that 2014 brought to me and my family. But I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store!

So what is your One Word for 2015? Goals? Projects? I want to know! Let’s chat about goal-setting in the comments.

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Farewell to 2014!

December 31, 2014


It’s the last day of 2014! The end of the year and the beginning of the next makes me almost giddy every year. Goal-setting and planning for the coming year and reflecting on the past twelve months is such a healthy exercise.

What worked? What didn’t? What can I celebrate? What do I wish I had done differently?

The highlight of 2014 for me was, obviously, my pregnancy and Miles’ birth. Being Miles’ mom is such a joy and a privilege and becoming parents made 2014 a year of learning in a way that no other year has ever yet quite been.

But 2014 was great in other ways as well. It was a year of professional milestones for me. It was the first full year of Mark and my marriage. It held moves, job changes, road trips, goodbyes and new friends.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a lot about my goals for 2014 and goal-setting strategies that can help make 2015 one of the best years yet.

But this morning, I’m going to spend some time quietly reflecting on all the blessings of 2014 as the last day of the old year quietly slips out to make way for the new.

If you’ve read this blog for a while, I’d also like to say thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate your support, your comments, your emails – this blog wouldn’t exist without you.

Happy New Year!



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Goals: A Review of 2014

December 17, 2014


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January is coming and I’m excitedly planning for 2015. But sometimes the excitement about shiny new goals for next year makes us forgot about the success (or failure) of goals we set and met during the last year.

Isn’t that a shame?

I spend all year working towards benchmarks and goals just to forget about them as soon as December rolls around, when I start making new ones for January.

It’s so motivating for me, though, to look at past goals – both those that have been successfully met and those that I missed. Learning from the things that went right and wrong help me to create a more effective plan for the New Year.

So what were goal-setting successes for you last year? What were the failures?

My goal setting for 2014 varied from my traditional system, since I knew we were having Miles during the summer. I knew that just the experience of becoming a mother and settling into a new routine as a family of three would come with plenty of new challenges, so I didn’t set a lot of goals outside of that. Beyond that, we had a cross-country move, adjustments to make as Mark became a student again, and on and on and on. I knew that a lot of goals beyond sanity maintenance were probably not feasible.

However, during 2014, I did meet one really big goal that I’ve been working towards for a long time. 2014 was the first year that I made a sustainable self-employed income. This is a huge benchmark for me. I’ve been working towards this goal (essentially, in fits and starts) since I graduated from college 7.5 years ago.

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you’ve probably heard me mention my freelance work at one time or another. I don’t often specifically talk about it here because it has never been terribly related to the topics of this blog. My blog is primarily a creative outlet and a means for me to stay inspired and motivated.

But I want to share this professional benchmark here for two reasons. First of all, it’s thrilling to meet a goal that I’ve worked towards for so long. Secondly, it inspires me to set other big goals. Meeting one big goal makes me realize that those big dreams that are hazy off in the distance are totally achievable. They might take a couple of years – or 7 – to achieve. But they can be reached.

So make 2015 the year of big goals! Maybe set some goals that are impossible to meet in just one year – and then start working towards them. What will they be? Or maybe you reached a similar big goal in 2014? Tell me about it!

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Welcoming March – This Month’s Goals

March 3, 2014


March is here! Hooray! I’m not even going to spend one second talking about the ridiculous spring blizzard that is currently blasting us. Spring will win. Winter is on its last breath. Soon we’ll all be taking selfies in front of the cherry blossoms. So there.

The #imagesofsummer hashtag photo challenge is helping me remind myself that summer always returns. Join in! You can participate if you have a blog or a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram account.

February was one of those months that was good in a bunch of ways that I didn’t expect it to be.  My original goals for February didn’t all happen, but other good things stepped up to replace them:


  • I finished The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee, but didn’t finish anything else, mostly because I made the mistake of starting more books. But I’ve also managed to work my way through Craig Groeschel’s WeirdOne great perk to pregnancy is that people lend and give you books – lots of them. I’m excited to start Debra Rienstra’s Great with Child and Nina Planck’s Real Food for Mother and Baby, lent to me by Shannon.
  • Thanks to Mark’s help, we DID decorate a couple of walls! That’s right, not just one. I also rearranged our living room and the result is a much cozier, more usable space. Also, I was able to knock out some much-needed organizing, so our entire house feels a little cleaner and less cluttered. Finally, a friend of ours was getting rid of a table and gave it to us. I LOVE it and can’t wait for spring so I can paint it. Hooray for successful domesticity!
  • One plant actually survived February, so maybe my thumb is becoming less black. Then I got excited and bought a mint plant and a cilantro plant. Let’s see if these poor devils survive as well.
  • The trip that I planned to take to San Diego with my mom was an epic fail. A blizzard hit the D.C. area on the day of my departure and successfully grounded me for the ENTIRE weekend. But every cloud has a silver lining and my cancelled trip meant that I got to spend Valentine’s Day and President’s Day Weekend with Mark.
  • A visit from Rachel, the engagement (and subsequent engagement party at our home) of two lovely friends, spontaneous dates with Mark, and a basketball game also made February memorable.

Here are some of my favorite Instagrams from February:




Goals for March include:

  • Reading – Finishing some of these books. Goodness. I can’t keep starting new ones without finishing something. Does anyone else have this problem?
  • Baby Prep – I need to create our baby registry and do some general planning. Any tips or suggestions?
  • Sewing – Anything, really, but ideally those cloth napkins that I need to finish hemming. Maybe some pillows?
  • Travel – Secret plans are in the works. Reveal coming soon! (Hopefully we won’t be snowed in this time.)

What do you hope to accomplish in March?

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