Posted in Journaling

Lost Memories

The hurricanes that devastated the Carolinas have left many of us stunned at the horror Mother Nature can inflict.

While most of the damage can be repaired or replaced in one way or another, there will be many precious treasures that can never be replaced. The family photos and treasured ephemera from generations past are often victims of disaster. Storing them in archival quality containers can protect them from a normal environment, but not disasters such as these.

Photographing treasures, scanning photos and documents won’t save them from destruction but when those digitized items are saved in a secure location (or multiple locations) their memory will live on. And, with a little extra effort, you can also tell the stories of these precious things. These photos and their stories can be passed on to future generations.

Journaling TreasuresThe wicker chest you see in this screenshot was taken using my iPhone and the Day One journaling app. Day One is more than just a daily journal of events. It is also a delightful way to capture the people, places and things that are part of our lives.

The Day One app is available for Mac desktops as well as iOS and Android devices. The apps are free, but a premium subscription ($3.99/mo or $34.99/year) is needed to take advantage of features including unlimited encrypted cloud storage, unlimited photo storage, multiple journals and cloud synching between devices. The cost of a premium subscription is well worth the cost. Having copies of your journals – and the photos included in them – safely stored far away from the disaster insures that this memories will not be lost.

The premium subscription supports multiple journals. You can create a journal just for your treasures. Use the app to photograph those treasures along with a note describing it, where it came from and any history that goes along with it. Don’t stop with furniture. Things like art work, Christmas decorations, wedding gowns, antiques and even toys all have their own memories.

One more thing . . . Day One also has a publishing feature so you can create custom books to share with others. Premium users get a 25% discount.

My treasured wicker chest and other special items may someday be lost in a disaster, but their memory will live on thanks to Day One.

Posted in Journaling

Capturing Memories

We all have memories of favorite hangouts from our teen years. In our town it was McCartney’s drug store for a cherry coke after church or stopping by Russell’s drive-in to see and be seen. Neither of those  special places exist today. I have a lot of memories, but no photos to go with them. Of course, back in the days of film photography and the costs of processing photos meant we didn’t take many pictures. I’m always on the lookout for pictures of the people and places of my youth. I did discover one good source – my high school annuals. There are advertisements in the back of each annual – many with photos. Still, there are many places that never make it into any kind of publication.

A while back we were having dinner at our favorite funky little restaurant. It’s one of those places where the daily specials are posted in chalk on a blackboard just inside the door. On one visit, the place was  so busy it was hard to get a good look at today’s choices. On impulse I used my phone to take a picture of the blackboard so we could peruse the menu at our leisure. Several days later, I was wandering though the photos on my phone when the menu popped up . . . and a lightbulb went off in my head. I had captured a future memory and it’s one worth saving.

Menu board
Menu board at Ned’s

Fortunately, I have the Day One journaling app on my iPhone, my iPad and my Mac. This delightful app makes it easy to capture even the most ordinary potential memories. With Day One, all I had to do was drag that photo from the Photos app into a blank journal entry. Day One will automatically capture the date, time and location from the photo’s metadata and all I need to do is add a few notes of my own. It might be what we had for dinner that night or who we ran into while we were there. No, this is not a momentous occasion, but it is definitely a fond memory.

There are any number of things about Day One which make it a great tool for capturing our own family history. In addition to storing files using the Markdown standard, they also have a delightful publishing service. This allows me to turn selected entries into print books. It’s an easy and affordable way to document our world for future generations.

Barnes and Noble coffee shop

It’s easy to find information on the big events in our ancestors’ lives, but unless we are lucky enough to inherit letters, journals or photographs we seldom know much about their everyday world. It’s these little things that add color to a family history and we have many opportunities to insure that our generation’s stories include them.

Day One app is available for both iOS and Mac. There is an Android version in development as well as a web-based one. The apps will cost you nothing, but a premium subscription ($3.99/mo or $34.99/year) is needed to take advantage of multiple journals, encryption, cloud services, unlimited photo storage, audio recording, video entries and more. Your subscription covers each device you have with Day One installed.

Don’t let those everyday memories get away from you. Your phone and a good journaling app like Day One makes them easy to capture and future generations will love you for doing it.

Posted in Journaling

21st Century Journaling

Having even a transcription of an ancestor’s personal journal is a blessing to any family historian. It gives us a picture of the person and the world surrounding him that no amount of vital records can provide. Should we also have letters and photos along with the journal, ecstasy ensues.

Day One for Mac – capturing the stories behind special Christmas decorations.

Considering how precious we find these gifts from the past, what gifts are you leaving your future generations. Today’s technology allows us to easily capture not only words and photos, but also audio and video. And, since so many of us are carrying camera phones with us at all times, there’s no excuse for missing the magic moments in our family’s lives. The iPhone, iPod Touch and many Android phones include cameras that shoot both photos and video and there are many journaling apps available to capture and preserve the events of our lives – both the normal and the special ones.


We are already sharing much of these events as status updates, photos and videos posted to Facebook. I recently stumbled upon a review of an iPhone app [Momento – $1.99] that not only allowed you to enter your thoughts and feelings along with photos taken on your iPhone, but you can also connect it to your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Swarm – Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and LastFM coming soon) to automatically pull in your status/activity there. My first thought was this was carrying things a bit far, but I quickly realized the merits of the idea. In today’s busy world, the less duplication of effort involved in documenting our days, the more likely it is we’ll actually do it. And, having an app like this on a small device that’s always nearby means we’ll be able to capture the sights and sounds of those moments.

IMG_0045Several journal apps also have desktop versions allowing us to synchronize and archive journaling content safely. I have Day One [iOS – $4.99 & Mac – $9.99]. I use it on my iPhone to capture moments as they happen and on my Mac to write longer articles documenting my family – past and present. All those entries are maintained together – arranged by date. Day One also offers a tagging capability which can be used to select, display and even print selected entries.

Today’s digital journals may not be as attractive as the leather-bound journals of old, but they will capture a much broader picture of our lives. A journal is a personal thing and the first step is finding a journal app that fits your style. It might be a desktop app or even a “notebook” on your mobile device. Whatever it is, it will become a treasure for future generations. You just need to get started!

 Reposted with permission from Moultrie Creek Gazette.