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Exclusive articles, interviews, and insights covering downsizing & decluttering, genealogy, photos and other media, aging well, travel, and more. We’re here to help you capture the big little moments and stories to bring meaning and even order to all of life’s collections for generations.
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TIME Magazine Wants YOU ... to Declutter with Artifcts

Decluttering is a bit of an art, isn’t it? While one person may find it completely normal to retain 100s of back issues of magazines and spontaneously start new collections or justify pretty oddball purchases, you may look at all that ‘stuff’ and question, "Why?" But maybe you in turn struggle with sentimental gifts from close family and friends.

Finding the process that works for you can be daunting. Should you set a 15-minute timer and tackle the low hanging fruit? Do you want to keep what gives you joy and take a hard look at the rest, room by room? We’ve written about practical minimalism, which has something to offer for everyone, and decluttering with dementia in focus. We've given you an earth-friendly guide and decluttering targets. So many options! 

But as you take inventory of your home or perhaps contemplate downsizing your home, sometimes the best solution is the one that can check off multiple boxes at once in your busy life.

How to Declutter, Smarter 

TIME magazine published a story this week that placed our wellbeing and mental health at the epicenter of how to declutter. Their seven approaches were informed by mental health and home decluttering experts. One of the tools recommended was Artifcts. Here’s the excerpt:

Another app, Artifcts, helps preserve memories through a combination of images, audio, video, and text. If your grandmother has a lot of vintage jewelry, you could take a picture of each ring or necklace and record her telling a story about its significance. “Now you’ve got her words, her voice, her story, and it’s forever,” he says—yet the objects cluttering up the closet can go.

Paxton also uses Artifcts to digitize his seven kids’ artwork. Every Friday before dinner, he spends five minutes taking a photo of their latest creation and then records them talking about their work. Each kid chooses one piece of art to keep per year, and the rest live on in digital form.

If you are using Artifcts to support insurance claims, populate (at last!) that memorandum of tangible assets in your will, or document your collections, you may be a bit surprised to learn that others use Artifcts to document that which they are giving away or selling. 

Setting aside hoarding disorders and those with infinite resources for housing and storage, the key is this: We cannot keep it all. We must make tradeoffs for space, safety, and sanity, and sometimes that means letting go of items we wish we could keep, whether they are our own or we’ve inherited them. Artifcts is so much more than an inventory app, because here the memories and stories along with the curated items you value most are captured and preserved together, making it easier to let go. 

Our founders' favorite strategy for decluttering smarter with Artifcts is quite simple: Start with the obvious, what’s there in front of you. Kid art cluttering the counters? Old photos on the fridge? Piles of holiday letters and cards sitting on your desk? Simply snap a photo, add a short story, save, and you’re done! You can now recycle those items guilt free and reclaim your counters, desks, and exterior fridge space. That makes Artifcts a powerful decluttering app, sort of a "whistle while you work" phenomenon.

And, by the way, their families know this is a favorite strategy, so they’ve learned not to leave things out. Yet another way Artifcts can help with the clutter!  

TIME Magazine: 7 Low-Stress Ways to Start Decluttering 

We were so moved by the piece from TIME that we are bringing you this special ARTIcles by Artifcts to recommend you take a moment to read it and reflect on the options they have surfaced and see if any of them are the right one to help you in this moment in life and time.

Illustration of objects you might declutter in a home on a yellow background

 
 

Happy Saturday, and happy Artifcting!

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Hello decluttering, organizing, or downsizing professionals! 

Check out Artifcts for Professionals and stay tuned for an announcement about our FREE upcoming 4-part training series this spring. In the interim, you might enjoy these sorting-, decluttering-, and organizing-themed webinars: 

Heather Nickerson, CEO of Artifcts, Chat with MaxSold: Get in on the auction 

Evenings with Artifcts: Practical Minimalism with Matt Paxton and Zoë Kim (VIDEO)

Getting Organized Ahead of the Holidays

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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10 Ways Genealogists are Using Artifcts That May Help You, Too

Reading time: 4 minutes 

No one knows how to use any product better than the power users among us. One of our power user groups at Artifcts is genealogists.

We've found genealogists as a whole to be tech savvy, detail oriented, creative, outside the box thinkers, and progressive leaning in the evolution of their methods. Curious what draws them to Artifcts and how they use it, surprising even the people who built Artifcts? Let’s go! 

10 Things Genealogists Have Taught Us About Artifcts 

If you are not a genealogist, you may think, “Don’t genealogists stick to family trees and research archives?” To some degree that was our expectation as we began building Artifcts. But the love of the details and the joy of bringing others in on their discoveries has meant Artifcts is solving a problem that genealogists couldn't quite put their collective fingers on until we came along. We suspect their tricks of the trade at Artifcts will help all of us non-genealogists in our quests, too! 

1. Tags are clearly limitless.

Folders are like corsets. Free yourself with tags! Create as many custom tags as you like on each of your Artifcts to later click on or search by (simply start your search term with #) by family member, location, document type and more.   

Fun fact: Genealogists were the first Arti Members we know of to add more than 10 tags to a single Artifct. 

2. The Artifcts timeline is a beautifully simple design and powerful resource.

Unlike traditional genealogy timelines, your Artifcts timeline is not weighed down by black and white details and restrictions on managing. With a click and drag you can reorder or choose to add more detail to your Artifcts. Creating a timeline for each family member? You can do that automatically by simply tagging each Artifct with the applicable family member and then sorting your timeline view by that tag, e.g. #DanielD or more specifically #DanielDb1938.  

BONUS! You can add public or private “time period notes” to your timeline to keep track of gaps you want to address or validate in your research and then Artifct. 

3. The stories and facts you need are available in fewer clicks

You can inter-link individual Artifcts you create using the familiar @ feature you likely know from social media, email, or even leaving comments in a Word document. Just build the people and Artifcts into your Artifcted "story” with by typing @ and making your selection. Once saved, you and others who can access the Artifct will be able to instantly segway to a related person or Artifct. No one you share your Artifct with will have to guess how all the dots connect. You will connect them as you create your Artifcts!  

Only because a genealogist asked did we ever try to write a “life story” in an Artifct. It’s easy to do when you have all your other Artifcts to help tell the story! Check it out in this ARTIcles story >

 
 
Here’s another sweet and silly example using the @ feature that we love from a summer vacation. Click the image to view the Artifct.

 

4. Brand/Artist is a perfect “free form” field.

A free form field, oh boy! Try using the Brand/Artist field to record Grandpa’s name and his link in the family tree for easy reference by anyone who you give access to view your Artifct. But remember, depending on where you build your family tree, you may need to grant them access there, too.

BONUS! Next time you fill in this field, you can select Grandpa again from the dropdown menu without having to retrieve the link. 

5. Location doesn’t have to be a physical place.

You can insert a link to the folder, share drive, or part of a family tree in whatever software you use to look for “more information” related to an Artifct if you need to dive deeper or reevaluate in the future. Remember, even if you privately share an Artifct with someone, no one else can see this field. If you are instead interested in including a video snippet in your private Artifct but want family you share it with to have access to the full hour long video, you could link to it from the Artifct "Description."

6. Artifcts sharing lists and circles bypass the usual pain of sharing.

Never again will you have to text, email, or airdrop a photo or audio or video snippet to a family member. With a free Artifcts account, anyone you specifically grant “view” access will have the option automatically to download any of the great photos, videos, and more you include in the Artifct in their original formats. No tiny, pixelated photos or videos (unless of course that's what you started with).

7. “Documentation” is for more than receipts and appraisals.

Documentation in each Artifct you create accommodates letter collections, chapters of family books, PDF scans of family recipe books, and more. It’s not just for receipts, appraisals, and the like. And thanks to feedback from genealogists, when you click and share an Artifct, you can choose if you’d like to also share the attached documents. By default, no documentation is ever shared.

8. Colors matter, so use them!

The introduction of options to change your font color and highlight your text in various shades as you write the description/story for an Artifct is also thanks to genealogists. Why? Because in the world of genealogy, colors have very specific meanings and help keep branches of the family tree straight. Others may use them for fun, but genealogists reminded us of the value of color. 

9. Ditto: Image captions matter.

While we introduced the option to add captions to photos thinking it would tie each more easily to the stories and people written about in the Artifct, genealogists instead started using them to reinforce information in the photos in a citation format. “Bravo,” we say.

Artifcted diploma by @tmacentee

 
 
We love the detail genealogist @tmacentee uses to record important events and accomplishments. Click the image to view the Artifct.

10. Stories can last for generations with Artifcts.

Start with the mundane black and white details, add in the family lore and research-in-progress as the fuel, and you can capture the interest of your most stubborn friends and family. Okay, maybe we knew this going into the creation of Artifcts, but if research-oriented genealogists are willing to adapt their tried-and-true methods to pick up Artifcting to ensure the STORIES of the heirlooms, trees, photos and more live on, then surely the rest of us mere mortals should do the same.  

It can be a bridge too far for many people to enter the world of sophisticated and complex genealogy software. Artifcts is a powerful tool, with a friendly, warm, and easy to use experience layered on top to welcome all. 

How do you use Artifcts? We’d love to hear all of your tips, hacks, and best practices. Please join us on Instagram or Facebook or write to use at Editor@Artifcts.com.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Artifcts Is Our Love Language

Reading time: 4 minutes 

In 1992, Baptist Minister Gary Chapman published the non-fiction book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. (Side note, if anyone out there has a copy, go Artifct That!) 

The book outlines five ways that romantic partners express and experience love, which he termed, “love languages.” In short, Chapman’s five love languages were words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.  

In our household, although acts of service and quality time are always encouraged, Artifcts has become our go-to love language. It transcends the generations, spans the distances, and lets us all know we are loved.  

Saying I Love You Artifcts Style 

My entire family knows I say I love you with Artifcts. There are freshly baked late-night chocolate chip cookies and banana breads when coming home from school, and of course, the recipes (and love notes) that follow via Artifcts. 

Gifts are given along with the Artifcts (and the explanations for why THIS gift) as are adventures. One of my favorite Artifcts surprises to date has been gifting our then 19-year-old a trip to Iceland, itinerary revealed and documented via Artifcts.  

I am lucky and thankful that the Artifcts go both ways in our household. My husband is especially sweet, Artifcting the moments, mementos, and memories (and cards!) that say, “I love you.” I was brought to tears when he Artifcted a piece of art he bought me AND included an audio recording of him explaining why he picked THAT piece and what it meant to him. Call me strictly sentimental, but I love having his voice safely paired with the Artifct. 

Saying I Love You Across Generations 

My mother-in-law and my husband have an especially meaningful love language in Artifcts. She’s been Artifcting since we launched and now has several hundred Artifcts and counting. She loves being able to share her stories and memories with her children and grandchildren, and my husband loves learning bits and pieces about his mom that he never knew before. (The grandchildren do too!) 

For instance, little did we know that @Grandmom counts an eight-foot python skin among her most prized possessions until she shared the Artifct with us! 

 

 
Who knew? We didn't until Grandmom Artifcted it!

My father has also recently gotten into the Artifcting mode, creating and privately sharing Artifcts with our family, documenting his life from 4H to retirement. I learned things about my father I never knew, and that is the greatest gift of all.  

As for us, and our generation? My husband and I Artifct FOR our children since we know they may not always remember the small moments and otherwise important details. My husband Artifcted the older kids’ swim trophies as we downsized, and I routinely Artifct special moments for my daughter, from learning to ride a bike to skiing her first black diamond. Sure, she’ll have the photos, thousands of them, but photos can’t talk and one day she’ll want to know the stories behind those photos.  

 

First time skiing a black diamond.Important firsts, remembered always. Made with love on Artifcts. 

Saying I Love You Across Distances 

One of the great things about Artifcts is that you don’t have to physically be there to send and share Artifcts. Part of my family lives in Denmark, and we capture and share the small moments, favorite recipes, and special memories via Artifcts.  

I love waking up to a new Artifct from my Danish family. We’ve even utilized Artifcts to subvert the insanely slow snail mail process. This year for my birthday, my Danish family Artifcted my birthday card, complete with photos, a funny story, and videos! It was the best and greenest birthday greeting yet.  

We also create Artifcts Circles when we travel together, or celebrate holidays together, sharing Artifcts, stories, and memories for all to see. It helps make the distances between seem not so large and gives us all something to look back on and cherish until our next time together.  

Creating A Sixth Love Language? 

We’ve come to think of Artifcts as our sixth love language, although I suppose it’s more of an amalgamation of several of Chapman’s original love languages. In our house, Artifcts always include positive words of affirmation. Creating the Artifcts requires quality time and is without a doubt a service to the next (and current!) generation, in addition to being one of the best gifts ever. 

We’re biased for sure, but we can’t think of a better way to say I love you than Artifcts!  

Wishing you and yours a Happy Valentine’s Day.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A Trip Down Memory Lane, No Car Required 

Reading time: 3 minutes 

Did you know that over the past 2.5 years, our co-founders and guest editors have authored 218 ARTIcles by Artifcts? That’s a lot of writing AND a lot of information!  

With the genealogy conference RootsTech fast approaching, we thought it would be fun to resurface some of our most popular family history pieces to get us all thinking about how DO we preserve our family histories and tell our stories. We suspect that just like the Artifcts we each create, no two answers will be exactly the same.  

Winning By A Landslide 

First up, and winning by a landslide by number of views and clicks in recent weeks, is What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks. Scrapbooking is more than a hobby. It’s a time-consuming, big-hearted passion and nearly infinite outlet for creativity. These works of art visualize people’s stories. 

The thing is scrapbooks also take up space and collect dust. They feature people no longer in our lives. They can raise more questions than answers with the items they feature. And then, the physical reality – they fall apart. Read on for more on scrapbooking dilemmas and possible solutions. 

A fun and not-too distant second is Could You And Should You Part With a Family Photo, authored by guest editor and genealogist legend, Thomas MacEntee. In this piece, Thomas explores drastic methods used to ensure future access to precious family photos. You might just discover you have company in your own approach to old family photos! 

How To’s and Family Stories Near the Top 

It seems our members have also really enjoyed digging in and learning HOW to Artifct to preserve all their family stories, memories, and histories tied to the items they keep and pass down for the next generation. Our How to Artifct Family History and Heirlooms was our most popular “How-To” series, and our ARTIcles story titled, I’m The Family Keeper, What Do I Do With It All was wildly popular with folks looking for answers to the perpetual question of “What do I do with all my ‘stuff’!” 

Another fan favorite has been How Two Sisters Overcame the Guilt To Lighten The Load Of Family Heirlooms, authored by guest editor Rachel Donnelly, co-founder of PALS. Rachel shares her heartful and funny story of how she and her sister successfully navigated an 1890s family home chock full of family heirlooms.  

Just Because 

And in our “just because” category our co-founders Heather and Ellen decided to get in on the fun and share their favorite family history themed ARTIcles from the past two years. For Heather, it’s A Family History in Five Artifcts, where Artifcts Community member @Grandmom accepted the challenge of documenting her family story with five Artifcts. Amazing, and daunting when you think about it.  

As for Ellen, her favorite is Did You Know Great Grandpa Was an Inventor? When we don’t pause to ask the questions and listen to the answers, so many great tales—fish tales and those more ... verifiable—are lost to time. 

We hope you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane as much as we did when we researched it! And, if you plan on being in Salt Lake City for RootsTech 2024, please stop by Booth #1517 to say hello to our co-founders and team. We love meeting our Artifcts members in real life! 

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Aging Gracefully: The Role of Positive Psychology and Mindfulness in Embracing the Aging Process

Reading time: 3 minutes

"Getting old is not for sissies." I hear my grandmother declare in my head each time a new ache, pain, or grey hair enters my life. As I get older, one thing is for certain – she isn't wrong. 

Aging can sometimes feel like an uphill battle, a journey sprinkled with surprises that our younger selves never saw coming. For many of us as we navigate the intricacies of aging, we realize that perception is in fact our greatest companion. What might appear as a daunting uphill battle can, with a subtle shift in perspective, transform into a scenic journey filled with unexpected beauty. As we gracefully age, embracing this positive perspective becomes paramount. Perception, after all, is the brush that paints our reality, and in embracing this notion, we uncover the beauty woven into the tapestry of time. 

Each grey hair tells a story, and every wrinkle hints of experiences lived. Embracing positive aging is not about denying the challenges but rather about understanding that the lens we choose colors our narrative. Research tells us that cultivating a positive outlook can profoundly impact our physical health and overall well-being. Positive perspectives allow for more agency in our lives through choice and provides a sense of calm in chaos. Additionally, positive psychology encourages us not only to reflect on our experiences but to actively preserve and share them.

Embracing positive aging is not about denying the challenges but rather about understanding that the lens we choose colors our narrative.

Consider creating concrete time in your week dedicated to revisiting old photographs, penning down cherished moments, or engaging in heartfelt conversations with loved ones. The wisdom gathered over the years becomes a treasure trove, and the echoes of laughter and shared moments resonate with a profound richness. These artifacts become a testament to a life enriched by the tapestry of memories woven through the years. 

Mindfulness is also a profound ally in navigating the journey of aging. It invites us to savor the present, to be fully engaged in each moment. Perhaps it's the subtle beauty of a sunrise, the pages of a well-loved book, or the emotional time travel of a making a familiar recipe. By incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives, we can shift our lens to find tranquility and a renewed appreciation for the nuances that make each day unique. Finding mental and emotional space to focus on one small, but mighty, moment can be the small shift needed to help reframe an instance of difficulties.

It's easy to get caught up in the societal narrative that aging is synonymous with decline. However, as we adopt a lens of positivity and gratitude, we uncover a new chapter where the passage of time becomes a source of empowerment. The wrinkles become lines drawn by the hand of resilience, and each ache carries the weight of lessons learned. In these early days of 2024, I challenge all of you to take inventory of your perceptions, be mindful of the moments around you, and decide where you would like your story to go. 

I challenge all of you to take inventory of your perceptions, be mindful of the moments around you, and decide where you would like your story to go.

The journey is not without its challenges, but it is within those challenges that we discover the true essence of positive aging. It's an art, a dance, a shift in perception. In this grand spectacle of life, let's appreciate the hues that time adds to our canvas. Aging gracefully is not about avoiding the uphill climbs but about conquering the hills with a spirit that grows stronger with each step. Welcome to the show, where getting older is an opportunity to fully embrace the treasure trove of lived wisdom and echoes of laughter gathered and share in the beauty woven into the fabric of time.

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ABOUT DR. DARYL APPLETON

Dr. Daryl Appleton is the innovative and modern-day doyenne of wellness who is aggressively reshaping corporate, academic, and individual visions of wellness. Her consulting firm holds an exclusive clientele of global brands, top surgical residency programs, Fortune 500 executives, thought leaders & specialists, and professional athletes from across the globe looking to elevate their plans for success and fight burnout/mental fatigue.

Dr. Appleton challenges leaders, audiences, and organizations to redefine their values and views of success. In her unique approach, her firm utilizes neuropsychological techniques, communication strategies, and reprioritization of work-life S.W.A.Y. (Seeking What Aligns You) to help all clients meet goals and amend unproductive behaviors.

Dr. Daryl Appleton holds an Ed.D. in Leadership, a M.Ed. in Counseling, a C.A.G.S. in Mental Health, and an LMHC in the state of Rhode Island.

Get to know Dr. Appleton via her podcast, Feelings & Other F Words, which was voted one of Vogue’s Top 10 Mental Health Podcasts.

© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Data Privacy Day 2024: Privacy Is a Basic Right

Reading time: 4 minutes

Data Privacy Day is an international event that occurs every year on 28 January. Never heard of it? Chances are that you're not alone. The day was created back in 2007 to bring awareness to the “importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.”  

As you may know, one of our founding cornerstones here at Artifcts is privacy. We believe your information is yours and yours alone. We will not sell or otherwise transact the personal information you entrust with us. Similarly, we want to ensure you are in control of your information and data, which is why we’ve made it easy for you to upload and download your files and your Artifcts.  

We also make it clear in our Content & Community Policy that you retain not only the right but also the ownership of any information you use in creating your Artifcts. This includes copyright. Sadly, not all online platforms share our beliefs. When signing up for new online or app based services, be on the lookout for: 

      • Memberships plans that end up turning your information public or shared within the platform if you do not pay certain continuing fees. 
      • Where the personal information you upload is being stored – a private server or another third-party platform like YouTube with another set of privacy practices to review? 
      • Who owns the information you upload? For example, does it become part of the commercial commons in the name of the greater good? Do you support that no matter what (because there may be no going back)?
      • Default settings that favor making everything public, including your name, posts, and permission to use your activity for targeted ads and other purposes.
      • If it’s a site or service you will depend upon, consider setting a Google Alert for changes in privacy policies, data breaches and other key terms so that if you should miss an email from the company or a headline, you’ll have yet another opportunity to hear about it and take action.

What Should You Take Away from Recent Media Headlines? 

Recent news reports underscore the importance of putting your privacy first and foremost. Forbes reported on 22 January 2024 that security researchers had recently uncovered the largest data breach to date, including 26 billion personal records across Dropbox, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. The researchers note that malicious actors could "leverage the aggregated data for a large range of attacks, including identity theft, sophisticated phishing schemes, targeted cyber-attacks, and unauthorized access to personal and sensitive accounts."  

Seeing reports like this can lead us to falsely believe that there isn't much we, as individuals, can do to protect our privacy. That’s simply not true. There are several simple steps you can take to enhance your privacy and safeguard your data wherever you have online accounts and transactions. And, if you’re a member of the Arti Community, you will have received an email from us today encouraging you to do a privacy check up on Artifcts.com, following many of these same guidelines: 

  • PASSWORDS. Have you changed yours lately? We recommend you update your passwords at least once a year. And while you’re at it, ensure that your password is a strong password, that is, take that leap to 16 characters, and include alpha numeric and special characters.   
  • TWO FACTOR AUTHENTICATION. You may not like another step in your process, but you should use it, where available, especially when dealing with financial or personal, sensitive information, like medical records. Two factor authentication simply means that in addition to your login, you will be prompted for a second means of authenticating that it’s really you. This could be a text, a call, or an email. Do a quick scrub of all your online banking and medical accounts to double check that two factor authentication is set up, and that your second means of authentication is up to date.   
  • PRIVATE BROWSING. Don’t want Google to track your every move? Consider using a private window in your Chrome, Brave, Safari, or other web browser (go to File > New Private Window, or similar path). Or use a privacy-first browser from the get-go, such as Duck Duck Go or Brave. These browsers do not store your personal information or follow you around the Web with ads.    
  • WHEN IN DOUBT, DON'T CLICK! If you receive an email from an unknown sender with an attachment or link, don’t download, don’t click, and just to be extra safe, delete it. What if you receive the link from a trusted contact? If it is out of the ordinary, or something you were not expecting, text, call, or otherwise double check outside of email just to be safe. Cyber criminals are getting smarter and developing new tactics seemingly daily, including spoofing (i.e. impersonating) email addresses.  

Interested in learning more or looking for other resources? The Future of Privacy Forum has helpful infographics and educational materials, especially tips for protecting youth online. The Electronic Privacy Information Center also offers simple guidelines for consumer privacy and a break-down of some of the most common internet scams. 

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Salvaging Water Damaged Photos

The following article includes excerpts from a true story shared with Artifcts by a member of the Arti Community and republished here with permission. May their loss help your future. 

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A Careless Accident at a Storage Facility 

Imagine yourself in this scenario: Wildfires are approaching your home. You evacuate, taking with you your most cherished possessions, including those incredibly vulnerable photos, videos, books, and family documents. You feel relief when you place them inside a climate-controlled storage unit far outside the fire zone. 

Days later you receive a call from the storage facility. There’s been an accident. Your storage unit has been flooded via a damaged sprinkler system in the unit above your own. “Please come to our facility to review and document the damage for insurance purposes.” 

Your heart sinks to the floor. The expression, “Out of the frying pan and into the fire,” comes to mind. 

When you arrive, and you are taking in the large-scale and surely emotionally charged loss, look once, then twice, before springing to action on areas of most obvious damage.

a description of the scene inside a storage unit with photos and document submerged in water

Salvaging Water Damaged Photos and Negatives

When mother nature, home mishap, or some other event occurs that threatens to rob you of your cherished memories incapsulated in your photos, there’s no room for “should haves.” We all know about fireproof boxes, digitization options, and more. But in life we are busy, and we have finite resources, too. We made the best choices we could at the time. Now is the time for action to salvage what can be salvaged.

  • Act smart, act fast

The most intriguing piece of advice you’ll hear when water has claimed your photos? Freeze them. That’s right, stick them in plastic bags and freeze them. Okay, first interlay sheets of wax paper and place them in a giant plastic freezer bag, but yes, then freeze them. That bit of advice alone should shock you into a feeling of hope. Store that tidbit away for the day you need it.  

supplies for working with water damaged photos  Stack of wet photos with parchment paper between each  Wet photos in a ziplock, set flat in a freezer

 
 
No freezer on site? Place the photos and albums in sealed plastic bags to prevent them from drying out completely and get them to a freezer. 

Your top goals are to prevent further damage and to bring back under your control at least some of the variables now, and frankly, for the remaining life of these items. Mold is an equally deadly culprit where the life of your photos are concerned. 

Talking us through the "I froze them, now what?” frontier, we reached out to professional photo manager Kristen Goodman, of Clicking with Kristen. Based out of Naples, Florida, Kristen is still helping families caught in the crosshairs of Hurricane Ian (2022) and has deep experience in helping salvage precious photos.

  • Embrace Kristen’s “Dont’s” 

You’re poised for action, which is great, but keep these guidelines in mind so we can skip the regret that you may otherwise feel later: 

      • Don’t panic and throw away your wet, muddy, or damaged photos or albums. 
      • Don’t dry photos in a place with bright sunlight, wind, or dust. 
      • Don’t pry wet or dry photos apart. 
      • Don’t use heat sources (hairdryer, microwave) to dry photos. 
      • Don't forget gloves and a mask when handling wet photos and albums. 
      • Don’t delay! After about 48 hours mold will begin to grow.
If you’re thinking this sounds tough, you’re right. Rescuing and restoring water damanged photos is a tedious and imperfect process. Check out this video from Clicking with Kristen, saving someone’s day with her skills!

 
 
 
  • Now, Onto the “Nexts” in the Mess

Be discriminating. Which photos do you want to spend time and money to preserve and potentially restore? For example, if you have very old heritage photos, the ONLY photo of {name of loved one}, you may want to prioritize these photos for consultation with a professional photo restoration service. 

Separating, soaking, and freezing photos. We warned you not to pry photos apart, and that advice holds. But if they are apart, remove any plastic covers and sleeves from the photos, if possible. And then layer wax paper between individual photos or album pages to freeze. 

If you’re thinking, “But I have a brick of stacked dried photos,” there’s still hope. You can soak them in clean water and then gently peel them apart, then proceed with drying them out, but when in doubt, talk with a local pro! 

Once your pictures have frozen, you’ll thaw them out in batches to begin drying. 

The photos’ futures. For those in acceptable condition (to you!), digitize them and toss the originals. They are very vulnerable to mold, it’s a sad truth. For the others, if they are important enough to you for any reason, take them to a professional for restoration, repair, and digitization.

 
 
Click the image to download our free inspiration checklist for Artifcting photos!
  • Go get professional help!

Amazing resources abound for you to learn more and to connect with professionals locally to help you. Here are just a few resources Kristen recommends: 

 

How Did the Storage Story End?

If you're like us and dislike a cliffhanger, here’s how the storage disaster we started this article with turned out:

The storage unit saga involved a lot of hard work to salvage important photos

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Minimalism Techniques that Can Help Us All

A decade or so ago when Zoë Kim, of Raising Simple, began taking small steps toward a more minimalist lifestyle, it was her kitchen that was her motivator. How could she function when there was so much stuff, food stuff to use and not waste, but also stuff to fit into cupboards, wash and dry, and generally even remember to use! Why did she even have five wooden spoons when a few would do?

 
 
 
 
"That {stuff} began to weigh on me as I started to grow my family." - Zoë Kim

Back then, minimalism was not the popular theme it is today. There weren't podcasts, checklists, blogs, and books at every turn telling you how to start down this path. Advice was lacking that was practical, especially for this mom of two. No way was she going to tackle her whole house never mind start counting how many she had of each item in her home.

Fast forward to 2023. She's the mom to seven children in a blended family with her partner Matt Paxton. While he had spent nearly his entire career helping hoarders, supporting people who need to clean out their houses and others who were downsizing, he was never a minimalist. He liked his stuff, and the stuff from his dad - so many paintings! - and his grandfather. He liked it all so much that as he wrestled with how to pack it up to combine households with Zoë, he almost didn't move! (Read more about that experience in his book Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.)

The key for me was recognizing I had enough. Enough is the important word. I did not need more. - Matt Paxton

Minimalist Hacks for Daily Life (with Kids!)

Zoë and Matt appeared recently on an episode of Evenings with Artifcts, and they shared their combined insights on parenting as practical minimalists.

At the heart of this way of living for their family is that they have dramatically reduced the number of decisions they have to make on a daily basis, from getting dressed to setting the table for dinner. And for people like Zoë who are naturally disorganized, it's hard for her to make much of a mess when she only owns three pairs of jeans. And she can fold them any which way she pleases, and they'll fit in her drawer!

 
 
 
 
Practical minimalism helped Zoë, who is disorganized at heart, live a fuller, less stressful life!

See if any of these hacks from Zoë and Matt can help you!

      • Create a space for things. It will fill up, then you'll have to clear it out. This is great for kids (a locker, cubby, or drawer) and kids at heart, too. Artifcts cofounder Ellen Goodwin loves these bright, recycled, collapsible crates that come in multiple sizes.
      • Use it or lose it. It's been multiple seasons or years? Give it to someone who needs it or will at least put it to go use today. And stay tuned, because we'll have a great guide for you this Earth Day (April 22).
      • One in, one out. That applies to nearly anything: t-shirts, hats, shoes, books! And pause to Artifct the sentimental ones first! Who needs all these t-shirts anyway?
      • Model the behavior you want to see. Let "them," whomever that is in your life, see you make those same hard choices and let go of things. 
      • Give a fixed time limit. Your spouse or child says they want to sell it? Okay, set a limit of 48 hours and then move it on out, one way or another.
      • Capture the stories. Telling the stories helps us let go of items. You'll find you don't need the item itself as much as you thought you do. Artifct it; let it go. Here's one man's story of capturing stories in order to downsize.
      • Collections can exist, but maybe not all at once. You might not have room to display it all without drowning your space. Rotate monthly which items in your collection you display, whether that's a statute or a painting. Here's the painting Matt Paxton currently has on his office wall.
I give credit to Marie Kondo on this one. I think it's important to frame it not as what you are letting go of but what you are deciding to keep. - Zoë Kim

At the end of the day, Zoë and Matt are united in the view that they have a better life because they have less stuff. 

We encourage any of you seeking additional practical daily living tips to read Zoë's book, too. Maybe buy the digital version - an act that means one less book enters your home! 

Happy Artifcting!

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Books Help Put 'Stuff' Into Perspective

Did any new books find a cozy spot on your bookshelves this holiday season?

On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up The Postcard by Anne Berest. That last copy available at my local book shop.

No more than five pages into the book, I was up out of my reading chair, my rooibos chai tea set aside and cooling rapidly, making notes. This book is practically an award-winning advertisement for Artifcts. In the space of mere pages, I picked out these gems:

Anne, the lead voice for much of the book, confesses she could not have picked her relatives out of a photo and "felt a wave of shame."

How many of us feel the same way? The shame is often about "Why didn't I listen?" or the close cousin, "Why didn't I ask?" This is why we say, "Storytellers, Beware!" And how many of us are willing to invest the time and energy to actually get answers? While some enjoy chasing histories, it's not for us all, and then so much is lost.

Anne also equates her mother Lelia's memory boxes and archival boxes to "little coffins."

We feel the same. If you are willing to spend the money to protect items you care about with archival boxes, please Artifct them so you give life to the items within for anyone who comes across them. And here's an extra tip learned the hard way: if you are going to frame an object, first take pictures to use for your Artifct so that you aren't wrestling with glare once framed.

Lelia refers to the mixture of fact and family lore "blended stories" that fit her own ideas and theories about the past.

Family lore is important. It's instructive, it's real, it may be all you have to go on. Sometimes, we'd even say, it's as interesting to hear the many versions of a past as the facts that may be discoverable.

Excerpts from The Postcard, Ann Berest, highlighted

It's not until a bit later in the book that I saw another important theme emerge regarding the seemingly trivial 'stuff' we accumulate during our lifetimes. Lelia is rummaging through a desk drawer, flicking past check stubs, bills, old day planners, ticket stubs and more, and the book's author writes that these were, "[  ] All the scraps of paper we accumulate over the years, the kind future generations will hesitate to throw away when they're emptying out our drawers after we're gone."

You know it's true!

But now you have Artifcts, so no excuse. So much less guilt and loss when you declutter.

Of course, it's not always the scraps of paper. Later in the book when Anne is in the waiting room of the office of a private investigator she's looking at the knickknacks and debating: sentimental or bought to fill and decorate the space?

It's normal to wonder. It's also normal to be completely frustrated when you have no answers and it's a space more personal to you, like the home of a loved one.

When someone asks me about when, where, or what to Artifct, I think, "YES!" The fact is, now is when we live. Artifct anytime, anywhere, anything that speaks to you. It will become a part of your story.

And I wish you a more relaxing book read than I experienced this go around when Artifcts was constantly on my mind!

__________________

You may also enjoy:

The Three Things I Wish My Mother Had Artifcted

If Books Could Talk, What Would Yours Say About You?

The Artifcts Bookshelf: Books About or Related to 'Stuff'

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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See You at RootsTech 2024!

Little do those outside the world of family history and genealogy research know, Salt Lake City and the annual RootsTech conference held there each winter are the place to be to hone your research skills, learn about some of the new products and services to help you along, and meet with kindred spirits from all walks of life and locations around the globe. 
 
Last year was the first year we attended RootsTech. As the event was a fraction of the pre-COVID pandemic size, we were sure our two-women founding team would be just fine managing on their own. Ha! Suffice to say we never sat down. (This year, smart shoes will be in tow - check out Ellen's and Heather's shoes.) We surprised and delighted the crowd. A female founded, patented, tech platform to help them convey the memories behind their family heirlooms, photos, and genealogy research was just the ticket! 
 
This year, we’re ready to go. We’ll have a slate of special guests making appearances at our booth (#1517-1519), ample devices for people to pause and create their first Artifcts on, and a few exciting surprises to unveil, too!

Artifcts will be at RootsTech at booths 1517 and 1519

 
If you are the “family keeper,” love telling a good story, a genealogist (hobbyist or pro), or a potential business partner, stop by at booth #1517-1519 and say hello in Salt Lake City! You can also get ahead and book time for a 1:1 demo before you head to the conference or schedule time to meet on with our team on the sidelines in person by contacting us at Hello@Artifcts.com
 
Happy Artifcting! 

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Behind the Scenes at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

The entire week at CES we were playing around with versions of "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," because that is clearly not our plan. When you read our two-year-old startup was heading to the world's largest consumer tech show you may have felt a bit curious. We were delightfully surprised to be invited by the AgeTech Collaborative at AARP to be a part of its monster 13,000 sq. ft. booth. But we too wondered, what with flying cars, futuristic glasses, phones, hologram machines ... everything, would anyone stop to learn about a consumer tech app tackling all things 'stuff?'

If you've never been to CES, just know it's more than 100,000 people descending on Vegas to attend a show spanning multiple buildings, and that is so complex you can schedule tours to support your agenda. We were eager to at least test out the fun around us: a keurig-like machine that makes ice cream, a giant balance board with lights that shakes to relieve muscle aches, and of course a hologram machine. Just for fun, at CES, it even aged people backward and forward in time.

 
 
Artifcts advisory board member Matt Paxton, host of Legacy List with Matt Paxton, stepped in front of the camera to demonstrate the power of the Proto Hologram. He had to get in line, however, as this device was wildly popular all week.

For Artifcts, CES exceeded expectations across multiple areas with conversations and strategic partnership discussions in: consumer tech, financial planning, insurance, end of life preparedness and care, engaging intergenerationally, and, yes, even genealogy. Now, to sign on those dotted lines. Stay tuned for more excitement and still more value behind every Artifct you create.

Before we go, a few snapshots from the week: Shark Tank, podcasts, heart-strong conversations, and more. And a bit of advice: a lot of this was made possible because of serious advanced planning, outreach, and even self-preservation moves, including bringing a travel humidifier, lots of water to the booth, chapstick, and comfy shoes!

 

 
 
 
Prepping for CES included outreach to people in #AgeTech and #StartupInvestment.
 
 
Heather joined Mary Furlong for a podcast and recorded a pitch for Shark Tank.

   

 
 
Our cofounders never ventured far from the AARP booth during show hours. The AARP stage was far enough to catch thought provoking presentations and some great guest appearances, including Howie Mandel. The evenings were for more relaxed opportunities to catch up with other executives and partners - pictured here is Cody Barbo, CEO of Trust&Will, and Nat Robinson, CEO of Trustworthy, at the AARP After Dark Pitch Event.

Here's to a bright 2024! Happy Artifcting.

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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We All Deserve a Purple Bin

Reading time: 3 minutes

My semitranslucent, plastic purple bin measures roughly 10 inches by 12 inches. I chose it because it was easy to spot and distinguish from my other storage bins. Already 20 years old, I’ve transported the bin to homes in six US states; it sits quietly, minding its own business in my dark attic. 

What’s in the bin? Hard to remember most days.  

If I were to lose it or Mother Nature were to destroy it, I’d feel the pain of curiosity about my loss, but I wouldn’t be able to quantify that loss. And in all honesty, I’d get over it a lot faster than I did the destruction of a beautiful handmade piece of pottery I purchased in New Mexico when a shelf fell and crushed it. 

Pulling down my purple bin from the attic, and peeking inside, I rediscover the mishmash of my life: old cards, letters, and postcards; graduation cords, metals, and diplomas; “Collectors'” coins and stamps of dubious real value (Do you have any of these collections?), and the like. Hidden within, however, are also irreplaceable notes from my daughter and husband, my parents and siblings; my first passport with visas from Sweden and the Czech Republic FULL of memories; my baby book, largely empty, but containing information that I know is only recorded within its pages.

purple plastic bin full of papers, awards, coins, books, and more

 
 
Truly a mish mash, but at least it's contained.

I’d wager you have stuff like this, too. (Unless it’s STILL at your parents’ house???) It’s the ‘stuff’ we each keep and tote with us through life because of the memories it holds, life changing to the mere, “It made me smile” and even, “Oh, the nostalgia!”

 

Will you Artifct your purple bin? 

Personally, I’ve Artifcted only a few items in my purple bin, tagging each #purplebin. Think of this as a digital shoebox.

I really do love to travel so I Artifcted that first passport. I also Artifcted some foreign currency I’ve been holding onto and the stories of my travels through South Sudan, Haiti, and other places less often traveled. And I Artifcted particularly special cards and letters, each made meaningful by some combination of who it was from, the occasion, and the message shared.  

I know the contents of my purple bin would almost certainly never create conflict in my family. In fact, I’d be okay with recycling nearly everything in it, no harm done. 

But for all of you reading this, I’ll ask you (and myself) this: What if we’re wrong?  And do not say you won't care, because you'll be dead. We're sure you don't reallllly want to do that to your loved ones, create unnecessary conflict and make the grieving process that much worse, that is.

Take another look inside your purple bin. Could the contents mean more than you know to others in your life? If there’s any doubt at all, Artifct that, share with them now, or indicate “In the future” who should have the items so you can pass down stories and memories, not just things. 

 

Beware the purple bin: It is off limits to decluttering and downsizing

My mom had a purple bin. It was a cardboard box in the back of the closet in the den. It was full of school papers, artwork and similar from my siblings and me. When I was maybe 10 years old, I went through it and divided its contents among my siblings without my mother’s permission.  

None of us really wanted any of it and so we threw most of it away. But it’s only now, as a parent myself, that I realize that among the many mistakes I made in that scenario, a big one was the assumption that my mother saved it all for us to have someday when we were older. Maybe, maybe not. 

Looking in my own purple bin, I know that I have saved so many things from my daughter for my own memories and happiness. Pure love and kindness are written all over each of them. Isn’t that enough reason to keep them? 

Yes, it's enough. 

It is enough that the contents of the purple bin are special to you. We humans are tactile creatures. For most of us, to varying degrees, tangible items provide reassurance and peace of mind. The items also fill in our memory gaps, “Oh, yeah, that’s right, we went to Disney World when I was seven and I was so excited to convert my allowance into Disney dollars. But, ugh, do you remember how hot it was?” 

We should all take care and give space (and grace) for the purple bin. 

What's in your purple bin?

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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