Unexpected uses for my Mabel’s Labels

Mabel's Labels customizable householdI’ve been using personalized name labels for a while. I started getting them for my son, and quickly realized I needed some of my own. I’ve tried a few different kinds, and settled on Mabel’s Labels as the best combination of quality, size/style that suits me, and price.

Their circular shoe labels and customizable household labels are my favorite products. I also love the Skinny Minis which fit on surprisingly small items in my photo organizer’s toolkit (magnifying glass, unwaxed dental floss case – you get the idea).

As I’ve been expanding my affiliate partnerships, I discovered that Mabel’s Labels has a program, and just signed up. They have a special going on right now that is an incredible deal. Here’s a screen shot of my new order – at these prices I need to restock.


Here are the details:

Are you ready for some Spring cleaning? Let Mabel’s Labels help you get organized! Now through March 4th, Mabel’s Labels is offering 40% off Sticky Labels , Skinny Minis, Tag Mates and the Big Kaboodle Combo. No coupon code required. Plus, receive free shipping on all orders! Hurry – before this offer ends!

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

What unusual uses have you found for your personalized labels? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, or better yet, share a photo of your labels in action!

ENOUGH winter already.

It’s been a long winter. Thanks to a husband with a strong back and a recent photo organizing conference in Dallas, I’ve had it better than lots of people, but still. . . Enough snow already.

I’ve been trying to stay positive. Another week below freezing – fewer mosquitoes this summer. Sub zero temps? Think of all the stink bugs dying, and fewer weeds in the garden.

Even more snow

I was going through old photos, importing them into Lightroom, and I found this gem from 4 years ago. It brought back a lot of memories, like frantically rescheduling a couple trips out of town, and watching my young son experience LOTS of snow for the first time.

My take away message – keep this latest snow-flurry-whatever in perspective. It could be so much worse. And enjoy your trip(s) down memory lane as you organize your old pictures.


What if you don’t have time to organize now?

Damaged album waiting to be organized

Moisture and extreme temperatures can destroy photos while they’re waiting for your attention. Get them out of your basement, attic and/or garage. Find a spot in the back of a closet or out-of-the-way shelf to stash them until you’re ready to organize. Cardboard boxes and magnetic or sticky album pages can also be very damaging to photographs.

Old houses usually have tiny closets. While the linen closet is a great place to store your photos, that’s often not a realistic solution – it’s full of sheets and towels. What can you reasonably do to protect your photos?

  • get your boxes of photos out of places with known threats: flooding, rodents, extreme temperatures.
  • store your photos in plastic bins, preferably with the photos further protected in an archival-safe smaller box, envelope or bag. Sadly, the paper envelopes from the photo lab weren’t made with photo safe materials, same for old shoeboxes.no sticky albums
  • get them out of the sticky albums ASAP and into a photo safe container. If you don’t have yellowing and damage yet, woo hoo! If you do, let’s get them out before it gets worse.
  • BEFORE you take everything out of an album, it’s a good idea to photograph the groupings and writing on a page – often that’s important information about the people or places in the photos. We don’t want to lose that part! If you’re going to scan all your photos anyway, consider scanning the whole album page – journaling and all.
  • If the photos are stuck in the album, don’t force it. There are tricks to get them out with as little damage as possible. Contact your friendly local photo organizer for help.

All this sounds great – but what if you don’t have time to get even this much done?


Find a friend, a teenager, another relative who can help you knock this project out. You might get a good visit and some great stories from a relative. You can help a poor high school or college student earn pizza money. It’s cheaper than restoring damaged photos later on, or the emotional cost of knowing that irreplaceable family history is destroyed.


Get Help to Get It Done

friends help you finish your photo organizing project

Photo organizing takes time and focus. People are busy and those two things can be in short supply. Find a friend with similar photo organizing goals. Let them help you refocus when life’s inevitable distractions get in the way.

a very cute distraction

a very cute distraction

Who do you know that also wants to get their photos organized? Who can check in on your progress and cheer you on? How can you be helpful to your friend who wants to go from overwhelmed to organized with her own photo collection? If you don’t have a friend to team up with, a personal photo organizer can get you started in the right direction and keep you moving forward with your photo organizing goals.


Sleep like a baby

Back up your photos for peace of mind

There’s an ugly thought that lurks in the back of your mind when your back-up plan is based on crossing your fingers. What if something happens and my photos are GONE?!! Hard drives crash, laptops get stolen, cloud storage site goes under. It can (& does) happen – far too often. That’s why you need to back up your photos in at least 3 places.

If they’re digital, print them.

If they’re print, scan them.

Then keep at least one backup somewhere besides your own home. I keep a flash drive at my parents’ place. And another copy in the cloud.

If your photos are backed up, that doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. But you can rest easy knowing that your special photos are protected.

What is your favorite trick for making regular back-ups of your photos quick and easy?

Day of Service

Wearing my crafty-mom hat, yesterday I helped 18 students and family members make over 150 cards to give to sick kids at our local children’s hospital. This was the second year we’ve done this project as part of the Martin Luther King, Jr Day of Service at my son’s school.

hand made cards for sick kids

Starting to fill up the rack. It was a handy place to let cards finish drying and be out of the way while creative chaos swirled around the room.

It’s always on the edge of chaos, but the end results are wonderful. People get really into the creativity and the service aspect of the project. The idea of bringing smiles and encouragement to sick children really resonates.

And, on a purely personal note, it’s fantastic to see my old scrapbooking supplies get some use. I have huge piles of old paper, punches, and a massive sticker collection from a wide variety of sources. They don’t get much attention since I’ve switched over to digital photo books.

If you’re thinking about doing a project like this yourself – here are a few tips:

  • Check with your local children’s hospital to see what they want. Most have rules about content (no “get well” or “feel better” messages), no envelopes, don’t include personal information or addresses.cutting guidelines
  • It’s hard to do this with very young children. Less than about 7 years old, they really need one-on-one supervision. Having specific examples and limited supplies helps to focus their creativity.
  • Two hours is the longest most attention spans can last, even with breaks.
  • Smaller card sizes are better. We cut 8.5×11″ cardstock in half, then folded those to make standard cards.
  • We also used old 12″ cardstock – cut 4″ off one edge for scrap then cut big piece in half & folded to make two 4×6″ cards. Since we aren’t using envelopes, it’s OK to have different sizes.
  • I print & cut up a bunch of appropriate sentiments on white and vellum paper. Some of them are generic like “Sending you big hugs and extra smiles” and others are more thematic like “Just swimming by to say hi!” and “You shine brighter than the sun.”


  • Clean up is one of the biggest parts of this project – have plenty of recycling and trash cans available and have a volunteer collect trash a few times during the session.
  • Science and art class rooms work well because the surfaces are easy to clean.
  • Of course, use washable markers (no stamps/ink pads), and school glue or glue sticks. We have baskets for every two people with markers, crayons, scissors (kid sized) and glue sticks.
  • Card blanks, paper, stickers, foamies, punches and other specialty supplies can go on a couple side tables.IMG_2511
  • We started off lining up the finished cards along the ledge of the chalk/dry erase board. We ran out of room pretty early, so this year I brought a clothes drying rack (mine is from Ikea) which worked great! Glue needs time to dry, and it’s nice for people to see how many cards we’ve made.

After everything’s dry and you’ve recovered, go thru the cards to make sure they all work within the your hospital’s guidelines. Keep the delivery group small when you go for your pre-arranged drop off. Realize you’ll probably meet with a community development person, not see any of patient care areas directly.

I hope this helps you plan your card making activity. I am grateful to all the blog posts and websites I found with great ideas for how to do this. Your wisdom helped make our event such a success!

It’s OK to trash your photos

trash can

Take a deep breath, and let them go.

Really. Sometimes the best thing you can do is sort through your photo collection and trash all the duplicates, near duplicates, and photos that just don’t quite make the cut. If it’s blurry, or there’s a better version, out it goes. Heads are cut off, finger over the lens – bye bye.

Some people really get into this. After a little while, they realize how much junk is in their photo collection of 11,000 digital images and 2 tubs of photos. Of course, if it’s the only photo you have of Uncle David, you might want to keep it even if it’s not the best quality image. Otherwise, take a deep breath and let them go. You really can do it.

Start Anywhere


One of the most common issues I hear from people wanting to get a handle on their photo collections is “I just don’t know where to start.” It’s very easy to get stuck in analysis-paralysis. Don’t spend too much time trying to figure out the best system for tackling such a large project. That’s time you could be spending on the project itself. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. Don’t get me wrong – I have lots of strategies that I use to help people organize, protect and share their photos (and the stories behind them) as efficiently as possible. What I’m saying is – exactly where you start isn’t the point.

Pick somewhere that’s important to you: an upcoming family event (like a milestone birthday) and focus on that. You’ll feel better if you are working on the most relevant, meaningful tasks, rather than slogging thru your in-law’s vacation slides from 50 years ago (sadly this was not just a random example but Oh, it’s good to be done with that task too!).

Set yourself up for success. Once you have a small but important part of your photo life in good shape, you’ll be inspired to do more. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts by the smiles, tears and gratitude those newly accessible photos bring forth. And it’s a pretty sweet reward.

Get Organized

Drowning BPS

It’s normal for photo and video collections to have many thousands of files. Very hard to manage so many images. Check out our series of tips over the next few weeks to make this process less scary and help you go from overwhelmed to organized.

I’ve been told that 880 BILLION photos will be taken in 2014. Gulp. No wonder we’re so overwhelmed with our photo collections. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some ideas about how to get started, and stay focused (and sane!) as you #GO Get Organized this month with your photos and videos.

Disorganized thoughts from a photo organizer

The blog has been revived. I’m not good at regular posts. I get busy serving my clients, not to mention the craziness of daily life. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, except when you see a few months in between posts on here.

My new goal for myself is to post when I have something to say. For now, I have a lot of ideas to share, so you’ll see regular posts. Who knows how far into 2014 this will last. And, for the record, it’s not a New Year’s resolution. It’s that I finally have time to do this now that my son’s back in school from winter break.

So, happy 2014 and I hope you can find something of use in the posts to come. Enjoy, and comment please!