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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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HOLIDAYS
10 Things We Learned About Our Moms From Their Artifcts

In honor of Mother’s Day, Heather and Ellen, the co-founders of Artifcts, thought up something a little different for this week's ARTIcles story. Our co-founders have always said if anything happens to either of them, they have the peace of mind that their daughters will have their Artifcts to know them, the real them. And, they will even know what to do with all the ‘stuff’ they would inevitably leave behind. 

Heather and Ellen decided to put that theory to the test last week and challenged their daughters, Hazel (13 years old) and Violet (14 years old), to co-author a piece about what they’ve learned about their moms through their Artifcts. What they chose was delightful, funny, and at times irreverent. You can see THEIR personalities in their revelations. 

We hope you enjoy this little looky-loo into the minds of young teens through the lens of Artifcts.  

We Know Our Moms. Here's Proof!

Hazel (Heather's daughter): My mother had a secret work life! She was a frequent flier out to Silicon Valley in the 2010s. I had no idea she spent so much time with the tech companies. Rather ironic since she is the least tech savvy of all of us. (Case in point, I just showed her how to add Artifcts to her personal Word dictionary.) I guess she had to know a thing or two about security. She also had awesome taste in shoes, which is how I discovered this whole Silicon Valley thing. View the Artifct.  

Violet (Ellen's daughter): I always see my mom reading, but it never occurred to me to wonder about how connected she is with books until she started Artifcting them. She could definitely be a writer (she says no), with the way she writes her Artifcts and how passionate she is about reading and the guidance it gives her. She has so many favorite books, and she’s always looking for more. One of my favorite things to do with her is book shopping, although she always seems to be surprised at what I pick out. Enjoy one of many #realbooksarebest books Ellen’s Artifcted.  

Hazel: I always knew my mom was the real alpha of skiing, but I did not know she was crazy enough to ski 3 Tre in Madonna di Campiglio. 3 Tre is an (in)famous downhill World Cup run. Sorry, that Artifct is private though, just us!  

Violet: My mom always ‘oohs’ when she sees pretty textiles, but I now realize how much they mean to her and brighten our home. (Great example: A family quilt.) From Mexico to here in Texas, there are many textiles Artifcted that each have a story, and I know she's grateful she gets to look at them every day. 

 

Hazel: Turns out my mother not only knew but Artifcted me skipping school during COVID. Technically I was not skipping school so much so as giving myself a much-deserved snow day. She’s yet to see it my way. View the Artifct.

Violet: My mom’s time in the Czech Republic completely changed the path of her life, and I know from reading her Artifcts and hearing her stories how proud she is of that. She has Czech recipes, ornaments, random items, and everything else Artifcted, and they all show her true character and that she learned so much from her time there, and not just education. Case in point, a little crystal, anyone

 

Hazel: My mother has an unhealthy obsession with trail signs. And road signs. Maybe she’s reliving her early 90s days and she finally saw THE sign. She claims it’s “leave no trace” tourism, I think she’s just crazy. View one of the many trail sign Artifcts she has.  

Violet: My mom sure has a love for travel. Almost all of our trips—Hello, New Orleans!—and hers are Artifcted. From little holiday trips to her Mexico yoga trip and of course her time in the Czech. My mom is always dreaming of trips we can take together, and what we can do to make the most of the family time. It always helps our family bond throughout tough school years when we don’t have much time otherwise.  

 

Hazel: My mother has the patience of a saint, especially when it comes to me and my skibbidy art projects. Me and my trusty pink Crayola scissors have wreaked havoc on house and home and yes, even hair. She’s Artifcted it all. And now I’m dreading my graduation video; she keeps muttering something about karma not being a cat. View one of the many Artifcts.

Violet: She LOVES artwork. This goes along with the textiles, but it’s a little different because it can be anything. Whether it’s an arts and crafts project I butchered in pre-k or a phrase she ordered to hang on the wall, cards from friends and family, photographs, everything. Although she doesn’t agree and doesn’t talk about it, she is an amazing artist. She always helps me on any little sketch I need to do for school, because she did not pass down that gene (rude). (Hi, this is Ellen chiming in. Don’t listen to her. Kid art, like this, is simply the best. 💕)

Curious what your Artifcts say about you? What do you have to lose... Ask your loved ones! Heather & Ellen are certainly glad they did.  

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© 2024 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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To Boldly Go Where No Card Has Gone Before

Reading time: 2 minutes 

If you’re anything like me, you might have a love-hate relationship with holiday cards. We love them because they are festive, fun, and a great excuse to send and receive snail mail. Yes, snail mail. We hate them because they require us to make some tough decisions—Photos? Text? Layout? Yikes!—and they require a bit of advance planning that doesn’t always happen as planned, especially on the heels of Thanksgiving. 

So, what’s a card lover to do? I discovered last year by pure accident (and out of frustration) a fun and easy way to get more out of our holiday cards, and bring all those small moments, memories, and stories to life for loved ones near and far.  

My secret? Artifcts! And yes, although Artifcts is great for preserving the cards that we RECEIVE, I’m talking about using Artifcts here for the cards you SEND. How else do you include photos, videos, AND audio recordings in a paper-based card? Bonus, there is no word limit in your Artifcts. You can tell your story, the full story, without counting characters and agonizing over whether or not to include the pet’s name since that would take up an extra five characters. (Sadly, our beloved golden retriever did not make the cut on our printed card this year, but he certainly made our Artifcts card!) 

Intrigued? Read on for our step-by-step guide to spreading holiday cheer the Artifcts way.  

Six Steps to Create Your Unique & Dynamic Holiday Card 

Artifcts helps you bring your holiday card to life with all the details that a regular, printed card simply cannot provide. 

  1. Pick your card, any card, digital or physical. Or maybe life interferes, and you skip the card entirely. Our holiday card last year was aptly titled, The Holiday Card That Wasn’t. Click to learn why. You’ll laugh. 
  2. Type in or handwrite your heartfelt holiday wishes
  3. Create your holiday card Artifct. You can add photos, video, and audio. Want to tell an even longer story? Use the “@” symbol when drafting your description to link to other Artifcts you’ve created to share even more details and memories. You can see my 2023 holiday card Artifct here. (Not yet a member? Sign up free to create your holiday card Artifct.)
  4. Print your Artifcts’ QR code. Click on the QR code icon in your Artifct to get a printable code that’s unique to your new Artifct.                                                                    dddd
     

  5. Pop your QR code into your card. Or tape it to the back. That’s what we do! Or, if you’re doing this with way more time than I ever allow myself, include the digital QR code in your printed holiday card.
  6. Ready. Set. Mail. Spread that holiday cheer! 

Now you can sit back, relax, and wait for the excited, “That's so cool,” texts, calls, and emails to roll in.

We took our family by surprise last year with our Artifcts card, so much so that they no sooner had Thanksgiving than they were already asking us if we were doing it again this year. (Yes, of course we are!)  

Have another tip for making your holiday card come to life? We’d love to hear from you. Contact us at Editor@Artifcts.com 

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Join Us for the 12 Days of Artifcts, 2023 Edition

Join us for some holiday fun!

Starting Friday, December 1, we'll publish a daily theme to Artifct as part of our 12 Days of Artifcts. No turtle doves or partridge in a pear tree, but each of the 12 Days of Artifcts offers you the opportunity to take a breath amidst your holiday merriment and chaos. We'll provide the themes, you provide the Artifcts.

No matter your faith or tradition, all are welcome!

New to Artifcts or only have a free account? That's okay! Once you sign up free, you can create your first 5 Artifcts free and see what you think before buying a membership.

And you'll have no excuse for not being ready as we're giving you a head start by sharing with you today the daily themes. Let's have some fun. And remember, if you make any of your 12 Days of Artifcts public, tag them #12DaysofArtifcts for others to easily discover and enjoy. We look forward to Friday, December 1, for the first of the 12 Days of Artifcts!

Psst ... They'll be ANOTHER surprise on Friday, too. Make sure you pop over to Artifcts.com to learn more.

Christmas tree made up of numbers, each with a topic to Artifct

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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A New Family Tradition for the Holidays that Won't Cost a Dime

Reading time: 4 minutes

Who doesn’t love the board games, flag football, and annual viewing of movie favorites like Miracle on 34th Street, The Grinch, and Home Alone over the holidays with your family?

Get ready to make some new traditions, have fun with your family, and avoid awkward conversations like, “So, how’s your dating life?” Instead, you'll get to enjoy more of those, “I never knew that about you!” moments! You guessed it, we’re putting a spin on those traditions of togetherness with Artifcts.  

New Family Memories and Traditions with Artifcts 

We asked around, “How do you Artifct with family” and distilled the rather humorous stories we heard into a step-by-step process anyone can do with only hours to spare before everyone descends on the same spot for the holidays (or the next family reunion). 

#1. CREATE YOUR FREE ARTIFCTS MEMBERSHIP

Sign up free in 30 seconds, start to finish.

#2. DECIDE ON A THEME

Give your family a focus. Here are some ideas to get you started, but we also offer free checklists to inspire you:

  • Recipes. Request modern family favorites to expand your repertoire. Or stick to oldies but goodies that have been passed down through the years. 
  • Photos. “Oldest” and “funniest” competitions could be fun. One person told us they’d like, “You never see her/him in pictures” or “Rarely do you see so many of us together,” types of photos. Go for it! 
  • Family treasures. Again, maybe they’re family heirlooms or modern pieces created by your kids or purchased while traveling and make for a good story. 
  • Going, going, gone. This one made us laugh and came from a reader after our recent “Epilogue: Family Keepers” story. The idea here is that if you are holding on to family heirlooms, antiques, or similar items, and you don’t really WANT to hold on to them, Artifct them to let others know so they have a final chance to call “Dibs!” 
  • All things sports. This final example was from a family of sporting enthusiasts. Maybe your family is made up of musicians, artists, or travelers; same idea applies. This family Artifcted new sports memorabilia, photos, and finishers medals from the year. 

#3 ADD FAMILY MEMBERS TO YOUR ARTIFCTS "NETWORK"

(This step is optional to speed up step #4)

You need only each person's name and email. You can make it easier still by filling in this template and then returning to your Account Settings > Content & Network > Network and clicking “Import” to add them all at once.

Don't have their email addresses? Text, call, or post a message wherever you and your family communicate to ask them to create an account on Artifcts.com and then send you their screen name. You can add them easily that way, too.

#4 CREATE AN INVITE-ONLY ARTIFCTS CIRCLE

Create an Artifcts Circle (we have a help video, too!) to easily unite and organize all the Artifcts your family creates and shares. Add each family member to it by selecting from your list if you completed step #3 or by typing in their email address directly.

      • You can choose, per person, to let them invite others or to make another person an “admin” who can add AND delete others. 
      • In the “About” section, describe for your family what this circle is for, e.g., “Let’s gather up and share favorite holiday recipes for the holidays.”  
      • Then click to invite them and leave a comment, e.g.:

“Please create a free Artifcts account so we can swap recipes this year and not lose them in email or texts! Tag them #Turkey23. Bonus points if you add a funny short video snippet, too, so we all know how it turned out! Don’t forget to click share and choose this Circle or we can't see it. Call me if you need help.” 

You can always edit the Circle details, image for the Circle, and members, so don’t worry if you forget something (or someone) or have a change of plans.

#5. CREATE YOUR ARTIFCT & PICK YOUR MOMENT

When will you have your “Arti Hour, Happy Hour?” to share and chat about all your new Artifcts from the your family? Maybe as the dinner is cooking or perhaps after dessert for everyone to take a few minutes to talk about their Artifcts. You may discover in the sharing new details and related stories you’ve never heard before!

Best yet, once your family starts Artifcting and sharing with your new Circle, they can contribute all year long! Next year you can pick right back up or choose a new theme to capture your family's history.

Togetherness and Remembrance this Holiday Season 

We want to acknowledge and talk about another facet of the holidays: grief.  

We know that the holidays can be an incredibly challenging time for many of us. We’re facing them with loved ones missing for the first time or perhaps facing the end soon. Artifcts can be a powerful way to spend time together capturing memories and stories for now and later, for you and for all your loved ones. It can also make it easier to decide what becomes of all the ‘stuff’ that we ultimately leave behind one day.  

Our free Life Preparedness and After-Loss Support Guide may offer a helpful starting point. You may also find inspiration in some of our past ARTIcles by Artifcts such as Gift Your Loved Ones a Why and The Three Things I Wish My Mother Had Artifcted.  

Consider taking the time to watch the recording from our recent panel discussion about new traditions for the holidays as we process our grief. Our guests, Rachel Donnelly, founder of My AfterLight and Professionals of After Loss Services, and Garrick Colwell, of Kitchen Table Conversations, brought diverse and deep backgrounds to the practical and emotional aspects of grief. 

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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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Muriel the Welder: A Woman Who Inspires Us

We're unequivocally in awe of the women we've been surrounded by as we've struck out to build a private and secure place to bring the stories and memories behind the objects of our lives. Friends from kindergarten and new business associates alike have stepped up to offer feedback, cheers, introductions, and inspiration.

Today we share a bit about Muriel, who at age 97 continues to live with vigor and purpose and has oh so many stories to share and inspire those of us who are living in very different times than she did at our age. You might notice, it has strong echoes of Rosie the Riveter. Perhaps she inspired Muriel, all the way down to the bandana, or maybe that was standard issue?

_________________

At the age of 20, Muriel set down her apron at her parents’ shop and began attending school with “the boys” who would stop into the shop on their way to class. What were they studying? Welding.  

From here it was a small matter of an acute attention to detail and the joy of being underestimated that drove Muriel to receive an Excellence in War Production Army-Navy Production Award from Lyon Metal Products, Inc., for her welding. Her specialization welding tail surfaces of small planes required a delicacy that was unfamiliar to many more experienced male welders at her school.   

“We were putting ribs on tubing that was much heavier than the rib. So, if you didn’t apply the heat from the torch onto the heavier metal then the thin rib was, poof, gone, melted away.” 

We’ve heard the stories before, women stepping in across a broad span of professions and industries to ensure life went on at home while primarily men were off fighting. Advertisements abounded, opening the labor market to women. 

single sheet of paper with details of welding jobs at Lyon Metal

 
 
Lyon Metal Products job brochure than Muriel kept all these years! Why do you think the age ranges differ for men and women?

Yet, to hear the story firsthand, a story that was otherwise only a photo with a note “Lyon Metal, 1943, Montgomery, Illinois” on the back, brushing off this woman’s place in history, was awe inspiring.  

Black and white photo of woman with bandana holding back her hair while welding

 
 
These photos and brochures are among the last physical reminders of her contributions to WWII. Click the image to view the Artifct and hear Muriel's story in her own words.

What if no one had asked Muriel the question, “What were you welding?” “Or, why, of the few mementos you've kept, do you have a pair of old goggles?” Would this history have been lost forever? It has to make one wonder what histories lie hidden in your own family tree? What storied objects lie lurking in closets, bins, and drawers?  

We encourage you on this day, International Women’s Day 2023, to reach out to a woman in your family and ask to hear more about their life. You never know how many, “I never knew that about you!” moments await. 

_________________

You can read more about Muriel the Welder in our story on ARTIcles by Artifcts, "She's the Last of Her Generation."

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© 2023 Artifcts, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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