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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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GUEST CURATOR
Timelines – Inspiration for Accidental Genealogists and Keepers of 'Stuff'

Reading time: 3 minutes

What happens when you come from a long line of genealogists and end up with three busy boys as the next generation? Genealogy and the desire to understand your heritage gets stalled…until you and your sons discover the Timeline view in Artifcts! 

Yes, I was one of the guilty parties. My mom has binders and binders of ancestry and genealogy information, can tell the stories about our family history ‘way back when,’ and has tried to tell us her story over the years. But if you were to ask me to tell you those stories about her, I’d look at you with a blank stare. I wouldn’t know where to start.  

That is until we discovered the Timeline view in Artifcts, and I saw my own life story revealed to me in a way I hadn’t seen before. You see, pun intended, I am a visual person and process information very analytically. Yes, it is interesting to see my family tree laid out with names and branches, but it doesn’t really tell me about the people, how they were wired, or how I might have been influenced by who they were or how they thought. When I understand those things about my ancestors and influencers, I gain perspective on my own heritage. 

Seeing my mother’s Timeline motivated me to create more Artifcts for my Timeline. As each new Artifct takes its place on my Timeline, it highlights one more life event, one more story, that shaped me. I could immediately see in my Timeline how my experiences, represented through my objects and stories, wired me to be who I am today. If my kids want to know who I am, why I place certain values on ambition and work, and why I work as much as I do to achieve and provide, all they need to do is look at my Artifcts Timeline.  

My Timeline now shows my world travel (creating an open and adventurous mindset); it shows my cadet days in the Civil Air Patrol (doing search, rescue, flying, and establishing the building blocks for my leadership style); it shows my days as a firefighter and EMT (helping people and being driven to serve); it shows my pilot experiences (adventure, focus, and determination); it shows my entrepreneurial experience (innovating and managing risk); and it shows my family and our shared experiences. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

So, to all of you who think you’ll get to it "someday," realize that someday may come too late. Start capturing your story one event or object at a time. When you open that box that’s been in the basement for 10 years and find something cool, Artifct it to tell the story using images, audio/video, and text. When you travel, take a photo of that menu or interesting memento and explain where you were and who you were with.

Once you get your Artifcts going and see them in your Timeline, you’ll have bursts of energy to go fill in the blanks, you’ll start seeing yourself for who you really are, and you’ll build out your story to carry your heritage to the next generation. And the best part? Your kids will love it too! 

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Traveling to Salt Lake City for RootsTech?

Stop by our Booth #1517 to hear Matt share more of his stories on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. MT and Saturday at 12 noon MT. 

You can also read previous ARTIcles Matt has written, including Father, World Traveler and Now Downsizer and Stuck In the Middle With Stuff

© 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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Custom T-Shirt Quilts and Blankets Need Stories, Too

Reading time: 2 minutes 

Enjoy one woman’s story about the t-shirt quilt she dreamt of for so long and how Artifcts sweetened the gift that much more by preserving the quilt’s stories, too. 

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The moment came at long last. It was October 2021, and the time had arrived to transform the t-shirts we had collected during our three years living in the Balkans into a quilt for my children to cozy up under with me as we watch family movies together on Friday nights.

Okay, well, that was the dream anyway. With the eldest already 15 and the youngest 9, my goals in 2021 were a bit far-fetched and the quilt-to-be likely far too small for a family of five.

And to be clear, I created nothing. After realizing that a dear church friend made these specialty quilts, I handed over the t-shirts in time for her to make a surprise quilt for my family for Christmas. The quilt turned out just as I had always imagined during those days of living in and traveling around the Balkans and beyond, and it has the soft, well-loved memories built in.

Except, it doesn’t actually have the memories built in.  

I realized recently that my youngest doesn’t even remember our time in the Balkans. Our family’s once in a lifetime week in Paris, adventures in Croatia, Christmas in Budapest, it has all drifted from her memory.

If I want this quilt to get passed down for generations and have the stories retold each time a new person cuddles under it, I still need to supply the memories. And I do. Every time I’m asked, or when they stay still long enough for me to get in a few words before they roll their eyes—no, never, not in my home!—and trudge off to their rooms to do their homework. Well played.

As luck would have it, I know one of the founders of Artifcts, so I’m an early adopter. I knew it was on me, the keeper of those memories so quickly fading from my children’s memories, to capture them before it was too late.

So, this Christmas, part of my gift to my family is this t-shirt quilt Artifct and the many more Artifcts I’ve created throughout the year to ensure their histories and life moments are not lost.

t-shirt quilt on Artifcts

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You may also enjoy these ARTIcles by Artifcts:

What Should You Do With Old Scrapbooks?

Rescue Mission: That's More Than an Old Photo!

Keepsake Boxes, Remembrance Boxes, Memento Boxes - Boxes Abound!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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New Holiday Recipes to Mingle With Your Favorites

Reading time: 3 minutes

Ah, holiday menus. There tend to be two camps: “We love to mix in new recipes each year to keep things fresh for the holidays,” and "Why mess with perfection? We serve the same menu every year.” 

It’s certainly easier than ever to find new recipes to keep things interesting, whether you have the New York Times recipes app, look forward to the new Bon Appétit magazine each season, or collect cookbooks. And if you have a diverse crowd to feed or a food-enthusiast crowd joining your table, you may have even more motivation and leeway to mix it up. 

This year, as you plan out your menus, we want to encourage you to add one or two new recipes that are crowd pleasers and brain healthy, too. (And be sure to Artifct them all to easily share and recreate in the future. Bonus points if you include video of key steps or the awesome results!)  

Please don’t get any wild ideas that we are contorting your beloved holiday meals to fit some sort of dietary fad. The reality is that the food we eat on a regular basis is as much a part of our healthcare as is the steps we take in a day. If we can integrate more brain healthy crowd-pleasing recipes into our holiday repertoire, too, why shouldn’t we? 

Holiday Perfect, Brain-Healthy Recipes 

Don’t worry, folks, we did not spin up an Artifcts food test kitchen to create recipes to test on you all. We’ve left the science of food to the people with the training and expertise.  

We turned to Annie Fenn, physician, chef, culinary instructor, science advisor, and author of none other than The Brain Health Kitchen: Preventing Alzheimer’s Through Food. She is the only doctor-meets-chef who is exclusively focused on the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. You can find her on Instagram at @BrainHealthKitchen and via her online community’s Brain Health Kitchen newsletter, too. 

Annie has kindly offered up two recipes, one sweet and one savory, for us to share with you today that we hope are homeruns in your household. Each uses easy-to-find ingredients popularly associated with cool weather holidays spent with family and friends.

PUMPKIN-CRANBERRY MUFFINS

Pleasantly tart and packed with antioxidants, cranberries deserve to be a part of your brain-healthy dietary pattern year-round. It’s best to enjoy them as a whole fruit rather than dried or juiced, since those processes add a lot of sugar. For this tender pumpkin muffin, you’ll use whole fresh or frozen cranberries, which burst as they bake—adding pockets of jammy fruit. These muffins pack in a nice roster of brain- healthy ingredients, from the almond, oat, and flaxseed batter to the sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top. Excerpted from The Brain Health Kitchen, by Annie Fenn (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023.

Pumpkin and Cranberry Muffins

 
 
Click the photo for the complete recipe on Artifcts.
 
 
 
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski.

SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP

Typical spinach artichoke dip wears a health halo that comes from having the word spinach in the name. Although it may sound good for you, it is all too often loaded with saturated fat and an excessive amount of sodium in a cheesy base that makes it easy to overindulge. Enter this brain-healthy take on the classic dip, which pairs the spinach—and lots of it— with a creamy, cashew-based sauce. If you love artichokes, you’ll like this version even better than the standard, since the artichoke flavor really shines, and you still get to dip the crispy chips in the hot, creamy dip. Excerpted from The Brain Health Kitchen, by Annie Fenn (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. 

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

 
 
Click the photo for the complete recipe on Artifcts.
 
 
Photograph by Alexandra Grablewski.

And to further help you in all things culinary and introduce some fun new family activities, we’ll be sharing a special Saturday-edition of ARTIcles by Artifcts this weekend. Recipes will be among the topics we'll cover. Stay tuned!

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You may also enjoy these additional ARTIcles by Artifcts:

How to Artifct Those Recipes

The Three Things I Wish My Mother had Artifcted

What's Your Stuffing Style

Inspirational Checklist: Culinary Connections

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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How Well-Managed Is Your Family History Estate? 

We’ve all seen recent media articles of Baby Boomers confronting how their possessions should be handled after they’ve died. While the topics of “Swedish death cleaning” and “tidying up” are at the forefront, few articles discuss how “family history” should be passed on, too, so that it contributes to a family’s legacy. 

Even if you haven’t self-published a family history book, researched your roots for years, or even built a family tree, you’ve likely been a “steward” for at least some stories, heirlooms, and “stuff.” 

Family Keeper vs. Family Steward 

There is a big difference between a “keeper” of a family’s history and a “steward” of items which make up that history. Different mindsets seem to govern how each person approaches their possessions.  

A keeper often has a protective sense of ownership of items and sometimes becomes defensive when asked to share them. You may have encountered an aunt or an uncle who is sitting on family photo albums, boxes of heirlooms, etc. They tend to treat these items as “holy relics” and have a wealth of stories to go along with each item. And when you ask them how they plan to pass those items on to someone else in the family, often they evade the topic or are at a loss for words (and plans). 

A steward takes a very different approach, like someone tending a garden. Not only have they taken the time to preserve photos and heirlooms against damage and loss, but they’ve also documented the stories that bring those items to life in fixed form, not just in your memory. And after years of cultivating that family history “garden,” they are willing to pass the items to a younger generation of stewards who can continue to preserve the family’s legacy. 

Cultivating Your Family History Garden 

Going from keeper to steward can be challenging. Here are some tips and tricks on making that journey:

  • Take a deep breath. If you are in possession of years of photos and other family items, start with small mini-projects to avoid becoming overwhelmed. This could mean simply sorting photos from slides and negatives. The next project would then be to decide what gets scanned and how to scan them. Then move on to the next project, and the next project, and so on. 
  • Create a stewardship plan. If you find yourself jumping from project to project without making any progress, create a simple plan. Name the task, write a short description, enter a start date and desired end date. Add a notes section so that if you do jump to a new project without finishing the current one, you note where you left off. 

Use Artifcts timeline time period notes to support research planning

  • Set priorities. Some stewards will “rank” their projects using a “1, 2, 3” method. A 1 signifies high priority projects such as interviewing the oldest relatives in the family. Use a 2 for medium priority projects such as documenting family stories and getting them in a fixed format. And finally, 3 is for low priority projects such as file renaming of scanned photos. 

 
 
About those oldest relatives, legendary television news anchor Bob Jordan agrees. Watch this snippet. The complete discussion from Evenings with Artifcts with Bob is available here.
  • Leverage technology. Today many tools are available to assist with completing those family history projects, and it can be difficult to determine which tools are the best. Look for tools that help you document family stories and heirlooms—like Artifcts—and allow you to share that process and results with other family members.  

Artifcts can help you build a virtual “family history library” that is easy to pass on to others in the family. Consider using the QR code available for each Artifct you create and place it on or near an heirloom. The next time family members visit, sit back, and wait for the younger ones to scan the code with their mobile device to learn more about that heirloom. I also recommend printing the QR code for your entire Artifcts collection and including it with your important documents, like your will, deeds, and insurance policies. 

Tip from Artifcts - Use the In the future field for decisions on disposition of assets

Conclusion

We all want to be good caretakers of our family history, but the mere idea of passing away can cause the work of stewardship to be delayed. Remember, you don’t have to go it alone. There are so many products, tools, and services that can help you go from keeper to steward.  

And there’s no reason why you can’t involve the younger generation NOW rather than waiting until it is too late. Create a series of family projects using Artifcts to document family heirlooms and to share their stories so those precious items finally have a voice and can be heard. 

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If family history and genealogy are on your mind, we have additional ARTIcles by Artifcts that might interest you!

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Stuck in the Middle, With Stuff: The Sandwich Generation

Reading time: 4 minutes

Got stuff coming at you from both ends – kids and parents? Feel like the peanut butter and jelly mushed in the middle of a generation sandwich? 

Well, I do. I’ve got stuff coming at me from my mom and dad80 years of collections and counting—as well as stuff I still can’t shake from 26+ years of parenting. Bottom line, it’s a lot of stuff.  

Until recently, I felt that having lots of stuff required having bigger spaces and storage, lots of storage. The responsibility fell on me to keep it all and be ready to receive more if or when my parents are gone and as my kids move out but are not yet willing to “receive” their stuff. 

Times and circumstances changed quickly for me, however, and my “storage unit” mentality shifted from “more is better” to “why do I have all this stuff, and do I really need it.” I have moved and downsized twice over the past three years, forcing me to take a hard look at what I have, what I need, and what I want to keep for my kids. Thankfully for me, Artifcts came into being just as I was embarking on my first downsize.    

What I See Now When I Look at My Parents’ Stuff 

On my mom’s side of the fence, she has lots of stuff. Some of it is really important—mementos of her early days with my father, pieces of family history she’s carefully curated over generations. She is certainly the family-keeper. Other things are, well, I assume just things. The problem is sometimes I’m wrong.   

Take for instance a brick that was tucked in the back of her hutch. Family heirloom or home improvement project gone awry? Family heirloom! Turns out it is a brick from the church she and my father were married in way back when. HOW was anyone supposed to know? Even she admits that she only told me the story when I had the brick in my hand, ready to put it in the garbage bag. Family history crisis averted. Family history Artifcted. 

 

Family history, Artifcted!

I’ll give my mom a lot of credit—she’s Artifcted over 200 items, a lot of them we’ve done together, or she’s done with her grandkids. She’s led the way in capturing and sharing our family history through Artifcts. I know she has a lot more to do, and I am hoping to get other family members involved in helping her in the months ahead. 

My older brother retires in a few months, which I think makes him the perfect person to pass the baton to as our family history documenter/Artifcter. As he combs through the generic and obvious stuff, I’ll ask him to put aside anything with a possible story or deeper meaning. The 12-year-old food cans in the cupboard are trash. But what about the vintage kid art (did I make that?), the scraps of cloth in a bin (unfinished baby blanket?), or gold Egyptian hieroglyphic pendant (travel memento?). Those unknowns must have a story behind them. We are lucky that our mom is still with us, and that she is there to tell us the stories as we decide what to the keep, toss, or donate.  

The Kids’ Items Got Some Tough Love, Too 

On the kid’s side, oh – that’s the guilt factor! I have those odd drawings, the report cards, the clay ceramic blobs shaped like an abstract [insert word here]. The kids just look to their futures and walk out of their rooms without even dusting. After months, you go in and look around and find things that you wish you hadn’t found. Then, you realize they’re not coming back to clean it out. Then you realize you’re moving and they’re still not coming back to help.   

For me, I packed up what I thought was important and then started Artifcting the things that I knew were important but would sit in a box FOREVER if I hadn’t Artifcted them. What’s the point of boxing things up if you’re never going to look at them again?   

Yes, the kids may get upset that I didn’t keep their heartthrob concert poster signed by [insert name of a not so famous side-stage performer], but a quick Internet search revealed it would cost more to buy a poster tube than the poster was worth. What to do when faced with such a tough decision? Well, Artifct it and be done with it! If the kids complain, I’ll show them the memory, have them add to the story, and make a real moment out of it. 

The moral of this tale is simple: sandwich life is tough enough without all the stuff weighing you down. Artifct! Artifcting has enabled me to document our family stories, enjoy reliving moments with my family, and most importantly, let go of the stuff that doesn’t matter! Well, at least not all of the stuff. My wife likes to remind me that we still have bins that have not been opened since the last move, but that’s another story and task for another day.  

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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