May 062013


Rainy outdor wedding

Seating with umbrellas

In her post today, Staci Troilio points out that unseasonal weather makes an intriguing backdrop for fiction stories. Since life is so frequently stranger than fiction, that goes double to those of us writing about and collecting family memories.

Though not quite meeting the bar of “wild weather,” last weekend we attended an outdoor wedding in Sumter, SC, where it was unseasonably cold. (For South Carolina, mid-sixities in May is cold!) The weather didn’t quite steal the show, but it earned a prominent position on the day’s credits. Continue reading »

May 012013

Digitizing Your Photo Archives and Scanning Old Photos

Old photosHow do you get your photo archives into digital (CD or hard drive) format? If you’re like me, you have boxes, organizers, and albums of photos, not to mention slides and negatives. How to you get the best of the best into digital format? Continue reading »

Apr 242013
My Grandpa chest of memories

My Grandpa’s WWI chest–a treasure chest of memories.

If you want to get technical, my brain is a treasure chest of memories. Since I’ve had a MRI, I guess theoretically, I could scan and embed a picture of it. However, as the radiologist’s report spelled out that my brain was “unremarkable,” I’ll spare us all the embarrassment.

Luckily, I have my maternal grandma’s “Treasure Chest of Memories,” a collection of her memories. But that’s not all I have.

My Grandpa’s Chest of Memories

I also have chest that my paternal grandpa had in during WWI. For decades, my Grandma Wilkinson,  then my mother, stored memorabilia in it. It went largely ignored during the last fifty or sixty years. Only after my grandmother’s story of being an orphan was debunked a few years ago, did I start exploring it in earnest. (See My Story.)

Grandma's brother found in this chest of memories

The uncle my father never knew

In this chest were WWI portraits of two of my grandmother’s brothers. Those photos alone are treasures. While they don’t explain what made her sever and deny her connections to her family, they do stand as testament that her brothers weren’t the cause of it.

The box also contains photos, letters, Christmas cards, scrapbooks, articles, and mementos. Looking through it, I now know my dad first donated blood in 1952. Letters between my mother and her siblings reveal their loving relationships. I also found this home-made valentine my mom made for my dad. It also contains things that twist at my heart: funeral programs, obituaries, and wills. Seeing that my parents saved every letter I wrote from overseas makes me feel guilty that I didn’t take the time to write more.

The items are material things.  But they are also far more.  They are memories made tangible—Pieces of the past that I can touch. Blood donor card

Do you have a chest of memories in your house? A collection of shoe boxes? Explore it! Add Comment Icon


Do You Have Other Ideas or Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Click on the “comments” icon in the top right corner of this post. For a “Treasure Chest” example read “Love Notes.

Apr 142013

Linked In Blog Hop Logo

Scrapbook pages are a great way to memorialize special moments and events. Today’s post describes preserving the love and excitement involved in welcoming a new family member, as well as for conveying the excitement and anticipation leading up to a family wedding.

Today’s post is part of the LinkedIn April Showers Blog Hop. I’m glad you’re here.  If you are coming from Cindy Murray’s  The Crafty Neighbor, you are in the right place! (If you landed here first and want to do the full hop, start here. ) Continue reading »

Apr 102013
Raindrops on roses is a favorite things

Raindrops on roses

Narratives are wonderful, but not all the memories you preserve have to be straight narratives. The purpose of preserving your memories is connecting. Connecting, by extension, involves letting others get to know you better. A list of your favorite things can do just that. Continue reading »

Mar 132013

Scrapbookers have taken the concept of photo captions to a whole other level. Whereas most writers and bloggers don’t have the time to literally take a page (or layout) from their books, there’s no arguing that a creative use of captions with your photographs or illustrations can also enhance your writing.

Re-Using Past Captions

Photo caption of old photo of baby looking surprised

Why the very idea!

If you’re scanning photos out of an old photo album, consider preserving the original caption in some way. To preserve it digitally, you can scan the album pages with the original caption, use the caption as part of the scanned file’s name, or use the captioning utility of your photo-organizing software. That way, when you use that image in you writing, you’ll have access to the caption the origin owner of the photo album used. Likewise, when scanning, don’t forget to keep track of any inscriptions you find on the back of the photo. These often work quite well as a caption as well.

If you’re blogging for the blogosphere, i.e., hoping to attract readers outside of your family and close friends, there’s another reason to use descriptive file names. Stephanie Chandler, author of Own Your Niche points out, “…the actual file name for each image provides yet another opportunity to improve keyword concentration. For example, instead of inserting an image simply named photo.jpg, rename the image to something like corporate-leadership-book-joe-author.jpg.”[1]

Creative Photo Captions Tell Stories

Photo caption of an old photo of a young woman petting a mule

Photo Caption: Early on, my mother showed her penchant for big-eared guys

There will, of course, be times that you find a picture you’d like to use, about which you know no details or background. In these cases, creativity will be your guide. For instance, I found a photo of my mother as a young woman petting a mule, but I didn’t know what year it was or whose mule it was. As I was scanning the photo for a project for my sister, I reflected on the fact that my sister always lamented inheriting our father’s big ears. (He was always easy to identify in any group shot.) Although the page I was working on for my sister was more about life on the farm, I captioned that image as “Early on in life, Ellen shows her penchant for big-eared guys.” My sister appreciated the captioned humor.

Of course, you don’t always have to use captions. Sometimes a picture really is worth a 1000 words.

© Laura Hedgecock 2013


[1] Stephanie Chandler, “Author Websites: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics Part 1.”, August 22, 2011,

Feb 242013
Historical images example

An historical image of two photographers found at LOC-PPOC

Adding historical images to your family stories can help bring them alive. Ideally, we’d all have actual photos to add to our accounts. However, many of us are hard pressed to find images to accompany stories of relatives and ancestors. I know I have a lot more stories than photos. Historical images can be the answer.

Finding historical images isn’t as intimidating as you might think. Here are some easily accessible Internet resources. Continue reading »