November, 2012 browsing by month


Resources for Preserving History

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Thanks to the internet, you can research your family history from your armchair with a computer nowadays. These are sources and charts I have found to be helpful.


Every time you glean new information about your family (through interviews, census reports, etc.) you will want to record it in an organized, searchable format. The two charts most used for family historians are the Pedigree Chart and the Family Group Sheet. These are free templates if you are a paper person.


Interactive Ancestor pedigree chart - for computer use, type in details to save or print.


Free Pedigree chart - print and fill in blanks with pencil! You will erase, believe me.


Family Group Sheet - use to record the families of your ancestors, so you know siblings’ names.


Computer programs for genealogy are plentiful and faster to search and update. These are widely used:


Family Tree Maker - a software program by so swaps info with that website freely. - free download of genealogy builder, of course has a premier paid version. - This research and interactive site has copies of most major census records, state and federal. I joined recently for $22.95 per month thinking to cancel once I found what I was looking for. Warning: this site can be every bit as addictive as Angry Birds. I have yet to cancel.


When you want to save “soft” artifacts such as paper or fabric, you will want to allow breathing to combat wetness and avoid acidic containers.


These are two sources of archival boxes:


The Container Store - archival boxes for letters , photos, ornaments, garments.


Family Archives - you name it, they have a box for it!


Gaylord - supplies boxes for library collections


Have fun cataloging your family treasures and stories!


How to Preserve Your Family’s Heritage and Pass It On

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

When Jeff’s mom, Dolly Clouse, died in August, I became the oldest female in our core families. Now I feel the weight of preserving our family history and passing it on.

The stories I want to save are about ancestors who lost mothers, survived floods, crossed the ocean, worked the farm, walked 2 miles to school (with no shoes? Ha!). History is fascinating, and becomes more personal when your great grandfather/grandmother took part.

So, where do we start?

1.  Listen - The most important thing you can do to preserve your heritage is to listen. Ask your father, mother, and grands about their early lives and what they remember about their parents, aunts and uncles. If you have children, plan some questions they can ask grandparents and record the answers.

My Grandma Louise was born in 1904, the year of the St. Louis World Fair and birth of the hot dog. Her father, Edward survived the Johnstown flood. Her mother, Elmira, died of complications from gall bladder surgery performed in their home. I’m glad I asked before Louise died.


2.  Write It Down - Commit the stories to paper, your brain can’t hold them all! Use a family tree pedigree chart to get the main branches of your ancestors in writing, so folks who come after you will know who the story is about. (See resources below.)


Interactive Ancestor pedigree chart - for computer use, type in details to save or print.

Free Pedigree chart - print and fill in blanks with pencil! You will erase, believe me.

Family Group Sheet - use to record the families of your ancestors, so you know siblings’ names.


3.  Identify Family Photos - There is nothing sadder than finding a framed photo of a child at an organizing client’s house and to hear them say, “I have no idea who that is.” Have a session with parents who may still know who those people in such strange clothes are and write the names/dates on the backs of the photos.




This is one of the few photos we have of Jeff’s grandma Ida Sperl with her dad Alois. After her mom died, Ida was separated from her only sister Frieda while dad earned his living as a musician.


4.  Preserve Historical Treasures - What is that really old thing hiding in the back of your closet? If you don’t know, find out. If you do know, write it down. Use an archival box to preserve without acid damage, especially paper and fabric.


Meet Mary. A dear client of mine rescued her mother’s childhood doll, circa 1918, that was in pieces. Mary’s jointed limbs had to be restrung and her hair replaced. We recently found a doll clothes maker and purchased her new outfit, including shoes and a pearl necklace. Mary is seated on a rocker made by great Uncle John. These details must be recorded, or they will disappear.



I hope you are feeling encouraged to do what you can to preserve the piece of history that is entrusted to you at this moment. Don’t “should” all over yourself, but write the one action you want to take before the end of the year – a phone call, a visit, beginning your pedigree chart, something small. Then do it.

You will be glad you did. The younger generation will benefit, and hopefully thank you.

Your Holiday “Cut the Clutter” Gift List

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

by Christy Lingo

‘Tis the season to give. And receive. And then try to find places to put the gifts you’ve received, some of which you asked for and some you have not.  Here are 10 gift ideas that fit every budget to give or to add to your list that won’t take up space in any home.

1.  Meal Basket-Rather than another knick knack, why not treat your Secret Santa to a basket filled with $10-$15 of ingredients for a delicious meal?  Save on wrapping paper by giving your meal tucked in one of the inexpensive reusable bags popping up at grocery stores.

2.  Netflix or GameFly Membership-These memberships give you the ability to watch (and re-watch) thousands of titles or conquer the newest video game for less than the price of a BluRay or video game.  Memberships start at $7.99 per month for Netflix and $15.99 for Gamefly. Both sites offer free trial periods to try out their services.

3.  E-book Reader–Never wonder what to read next with a limitless collection of downloadable books.  Amazon even offers many of the classics to “check out for free.”  Readers run around $80-$200 and each book costs $5-$15 to download.

4.  Make DVDs of Pictures or Videos–Make sure your memories do not deteriorate by creating a digital copy.  Services like Yes Video (available at Walmart, Walgreens, Meijer, CVS and others) transfer VHS, slides, photo prints and even 16mm film.  Estimates vary based on service.

5.  Gift Certificates–With budget cuts for eating out, movie tickets and salon services, gift cards can go a long way to brightening someone’s day or giving them a much deserved night out.

6.  Memberships & Season Passes–Do you have an aspiring artist or veterinarian in the family?  What about giving a membership to an art museum or local zoo?  Check out the Association of Children’s Museums for a list of museums in your area that offer reciprocal privileges around the country. Looking for more family time?  Try a season pass to an amusement park.

7.  Event Tickets–Make a memory that lasts a lifetime by surprising a loved one with a ticket to a concert with their favorite band, a play they’ve wanted to see or sporting event involving their favorite team.

8.  Services–Hire a cleaning service, babysitter or landscaper to help out a friend or loved on.  Or volunteer yourself.

9.  Classes-Want to learn to speak Spanish?  Know someone who has always wanted to learn to make the five basic French sauces?  Why not give the gift of learning?   Try recreation centers or community colleges for a list of classes.

10. Family Photo–Whether you hire a professional or just ask a friend with a good camera, the act of coordinating schedules to gather the clan together will be appreciated once everyone can proudly display the smiling faces in their home.

These “Cut the Clutter” gifts are consumable and a great way to show your appreciation or say “Happy Holidays” without adding disorder to households who may not have room for any more scented candles or picture frames. Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy clutter-free holiday season!


Christy Lingo is a Professional Organizer serving Columbus, Ohio. Upon leaving home, she spent 14 years honing her organizing skills by moving more than 15 times and living in an average of 700 sq. foot, most times with minimal closet space and limited storage. In 2009 she began Simple Solutions Design to share her organizing skills by working with clients to develop maintainable systems of organization and to reclaim space in their homes. Her organizing philosophy is simple:  let’s find a home for it and make sure it finds its way home. When not organizing, she’s an organic gardening, bread baking, world traveling, exercise enthusiast with a passion for Shakespeare and power tools. She also blogs about family-specific organizing as The Organized Mama.


NOTE FROM MARTHA: Christy is one of the few organizers I would hire to organize ME! As a matter of fact, I did hire her to give me advice on paint colors and decorating in my condo. Christy has also worked alongside me in several labor-intensive organizing sessions.


Product Review: Martha Stewart Home Office™ Product Line

Friday, November 2nd, 2012
No, I don’t think I just like these products ’cause my name is Martha. Yes, this line is more expensive when compared to generics. These are the qualities that attract me to the Martha Stewart Home Office™products:

  1. Eye appeal – I believe organizing can be beautiful and fun.
  2. Functionality – The products are well thought-out in size and function.
  3. Diversity - More than one solution is offered, giving customers a choice of what best fits their need.
  4. Savings – Staples regularly offers $4 off on a $10 purchase. Here is an online coupon for 40% off on any one item thru 12/31/12.

These are two of my favorites.




Labels - Choose from Brown Kraft labelsand Textured Labels ink jet compatible,Chalkboard Labels and Dry Erase Labels to write as you go. These are decorative as well as practical.





Desk Accessories - The Stack & Fit™ Desk System gives you the option to build your own in/out system with the supplies you use every day. Choose a color that fits your décor. Watch the demo here.