Friday, January 29, 2016

Pssst...What's the Password?

Remember the days of yore when we were children and we only needed to memorize one secret password to get into the neighbor kid's tree fort?  

Well, sad to say, those days are gone.  Fast forward to our digital life that was unimaginable back then.

Now we use many, many passwords in our daily life and most of us use them multiple times a day. Why is this exactly?  Because they must be kept secret so we don't become victims of internet fraud and identity theft.

Harumph.  It is especially frustrating to be locked out of a website and time consuming to wait for the inevitable password reset.  AND it can be very frustrating to keep track of all these passwords and very tempting to use this one instead.

Don't do it.
Instead, download my free Password Log with a separate page for secret questions/answers by signing up for my Quarterly Newsletter.  It is my gift to you.

Truth be told, mine looks like this right now.

On the flip side is a piece of paper with the headings:
COMPANY WEBSITE                    USER NAME                 PASSWORD
and I might add, everything is neatly typewritten.  The problem is adding to this list isn't easy, hence all of the post it notes!  

But this week I've transitioned!  

On your log, list the following categories to make it easy to find what you need.

Financial companies; banks, credit cards, mortgage companies, paypal, turbotax, inveestments
Email sites; gmail, 
Social media accounts; facebook, twitter, pinterest, blog readers, linked in, skype
Music sites; spotify, pandora, itunes
Media sites; photobucket, netflix, 
Travel sites; travelocity, fare compare, student universe, state park sites
Restaurant sites; pizza delivery
Selling sites; Craig's list, ebay
Services sites; Angie's list, vistaprint
Shopping sites; ioffer, REI, sierra trading company, target, macy's, walgreens, amazon
Health sites; mychart
Phone sites; tmobile
Insurance sites; life, home, auto

If you begin today, you'll have a complete list in no time!  Just add them as you use them.

If you like it typewritten, remember to delete the actual document on your computer and instead store it on a (labeled) flash drive or external hard drive.  That way if your computer is ever hacked or stolen, your passwords are safe.

I keep our password log  in a clear plastic sheet in the freezer (kidding).  If I actually told you where I keep all our passwords, I'd have to kill you. (kidding)

If you're more of a notebook person, this is a clever password log from Amazon.
All kidding aside, keep your password log in a private, secure place that only family members know about....that is if you trust your family members.

And do your boss a favor and have a password log at work.    I read recently that when 9/11 occurred, the private investment firm of Cantor Fitzgerald had to call hundreds of family members of the deceased, as all the passwords died with their employees.  They asked them very personal questions in the hopes of discovering their passwords so they could access the information that was stored in the cloud from their computers to keep the company running.  What a hassle!

Oh and don't forget to write down the secret questions and answers too!  You may not know all of the answers to your spouse's secret questions.   So plan a date night and start writing them down.  

What street did you grow up on?
What was the name of your first pet?
What was the name of your kindergarten teacher?
Dream job?
First instrument?
Dream car?
Applied to college but didn't attend?

And these you might be sure to agree on.
Place of wedding reception?
Favorite song?
Name of best man at your wedding?
What city did you meet your spouse?

This way if something happens to one or both of you, your private information can easily be accessed.  You might want to keep a copy of your passwords in your safety deposit box along with your will, but that's another topic.  Whatever you do, don't keep them on your computer in case you get hacked.

How do you organize your passwords?

Have you figured out a different way to recall them easily?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

No More Pasta

Friends, how many of you set a new year's resolution around food, dieting or weight loss?  

Oh my, the hands raised could fill up a room! (my hand is raised too!)

I've decided to be very intentional this new year about what I put in my mouth.  And that decision led to an early morning session of organizing.  

Sometimes, organizing one shelf can make all the difference.

This shelf is a prime example of how simply filling a space with containers does not organize it.

All this had to go!  Per my new year's resolution.  No.More.Pasta (at least until I hit my weight goal).

When I emptied out all those Tupperware containers, I found this growing in the bottom of a couple of them....ICK

Evidently I don't eat as much pasta as I thought.

In messy cupboards, there are always a few items that don't belong.  Best to relocate them. Store like with like.  

Who knew we had dips and hot cocoa?  PARTY.

These all held pasta!  

They've been replaced with grains and beans (alphabetized of course).  Is couscous a pasta?

Pasta is ready to leave the house.  It's going to the next college student who visits.

So long pasta, maybe we'll see you in a few months.

What would you do with all those empty containers?

What shelf in your home is bugging you right now?

Hop on over to my Facebook page to see a quick kitchen reorg.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Preserving Family Memorabilia

Every family has something that they are proud of.

Often it is objects; a momento from emmigrating to this country, a relic from a war, some thing from an era gone by such as the family farm or something related to their cultural heritage.

It could also be something handmade; scrapbooks, embroidered household items, knitted sweaters, handcrafted furniture, or even something as large as a family home that was built by hand.

My Grandma Sokolitz
If I ask myself what my extended family was proud of, it would be my grandmother's recipes.  She was Hungarian and emmigrated to the United States when she was 5.  Back in the 1920s, women spent much of their time cooking for their household and because it was that depression era, they were thrifty and creative with the ingredients they cooked with.  She was a master chef by her own design, and closely guarded her recipes, deciding to share them with a few close family members, when we showed some interest and she realized her days were numbered on this earth.

In my experience I've found that clients let these sorts of items accumulate in their homes either because they wanted them saved when they were offered or more likely, someone in the family passed away, and so these objects were simply passed on.

In many instances, these valued things are stored in boxes, stacked up in basements, garages, attics where they are out of site.  Often no one remembers the contents much less where they are located.

When the time comes to deal with these items (and the time always comes...) family members can be dismayed to discover that these once valued items have been ruined by mold, dust, rust and decay and now regardless of preference, they must be thrown away.

This process can be extremely hard and filled with anxiety and sadness, which is why many people choose to hang on to such things long after their usefulness has passed, their joy forgotten.  It is just too hard to face all of that emotion and decision-making when what we really want to be doing is to go out and about, enjoying our lives.

It's no mystery why the clutter we inherit can take over valuable space in our homes and leave us feeling hopeless to do anything about it.

But back to my grandmother....

Before she passed away, I was lucky enough to inherit a large shoe box crammed full of her recipes. Excited to have them and be able to cook with them, I opened the box.

To my dismay, it was filled with recipes alright, but most of them were from other women in her neighborhood, many were scratched out on the backs of Crisco labels, and some were incomplete or indecipherable.

So, just like all of my clients, I closed the box and put it on a shelf in my basement....for 22 years,
3 states and 4 houses later.

Until now....
I unpacked the box!

I spent a few hours sorting the recipes into categories.  It wasn't easy, but it sure was fascinating!

What do you think this is for?
Rolling dough into noodles!
There was another tool in there that I couldn't bear to photograph or keep, once I found out what it was.  It was a bundle of chicken feathers, neatly tied together.  I found out from my Dad that it was used to brush eggwash on to pastry.  Eeeew, out it went!

There were a couple of recipe books that I quickly flipped through, looking for notes from my grandmother in the margins.  And I cut out a few of the recipes too.

There were many recipes written on ephemera like this label from a can...
See the edits handwritten at the top?  The edits make it HER recipe.

How about this?
A recipe written in Hungarian!
This made me cringe, but I couldn't look away.
Then there were interesting other things that had nothing to do with cooking.
How to keep flies away and how to grow violets? Hmmm.
This made me think was she looking for a job?

Or merely figuring out which pens still had ink in them?
But I digress...

I took pictures (obviously) of everything that wasn't a recipe as during the sorting process, I decided that I would indeed compile all the recipes and photos into a digital book for my family as a surprise for Christmas!

First I had to winnow down the 50+ recipes into the 30 that were truly her own and for that I needed the help of my Dad.  Without knowing exactly what I was up to (it was a surprise after all), he went through the stacks of recipes with me and even told me a few stories along the way.  

I've heard it said that when the oldest person in your family passes away, it's like the library burned down, so this was a special time with him hearing more about our family history.

Then the real work began....typing them all up.  It took looking up incomplete recipes online using Google translator for Hungarian recipe websites.  I wanted each entry to have the correct Hungarian name for the food and a picture too!  Thank you Google Images.  

Then it was off to the virtual world of Walgreens Photo Books to create this masterpiece. They have hundreds of book templates (even a recipe template to my delight!) and many choices for the book itself - softcover, hardcover, etc.  Plus they always have a sale or special going on! 

 It was simple to upload all the food pictures and the photos of the ephemera I had.  Then I copied and pasted the recipes from my word document into the templates.  

It took a little fiddling to get it all just right and truth be told, there are a few minor errors, but done is better than perfect! 

I was able to create it in a day, order multiple copies and pick them all up that evening.  How does this even happen?

Here's how it came out.

There are photos of the ephemera throughout; such as this cookbook cover.

I  just HAD to include these specialties. (Cringe.)

And, my family LOVED it!  A fitting tribute to a great cook and the memories made around her table.  

AND I threw out the box of recipes and freed up some space in my basement - BONUS!
Pardon the flour dusting...I'm off to bake!

What inherited objects in your home could you turn into a digital family memory?

Do it soon, "before the library burns down."


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year & A New Book!

Happy New Year everyone!  

Here's to a year of decluttering, sorting, containerizing and storing only the things that bring us joy.

Check out Marie Kondo's new book!  If you liked The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this book shows and tells MORE about her process.  Loads of illustrations too.  I'm excited to fold like the master.
Buy it!
If you want a sneak peek read this!  There's even a short video of Marie folding an underwear drawer!  This is a brave woman to show us her underwear.

If you have the book, what's your favorite quote so far?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year Possibilities

We're off and running into the new year!
If you're like me, you're sitting in a beautifully organized space (my library), in a favorite chair, wrapped in a blanket, next to a space heater (it can never be too warm), absorbing the sunshine streaming through the window, enjoying a cup of Chai.

Ahhhh, this is how I welcome in the new year  s.l.ow.l.y.

Have you set goals and intentions in the new year?  Perhaps you've decided to get more organized this year (as many people do).

This is a BIG goal and what does it really mean?  In our busy lives today there are many facets to living in organized spaces and having an organized life.  Once a person grasps the enormity of the task of "getting organized", it can be difficult to know where to start.   Once a start has been made, the work can quickly become overwhelming and then inertia sets in. BAM! another year come and gone with very little organizing progress.


I recommend you pick just one small area of your life to focus on. If this is the first time or the last time you've decided to "get organized", choose an area that is close to your heart.

What area of your life, makes your heart beat a little faster with anticipation and excitement?

Ask yourself, if my ________ was/were organized, how would that feel? (Insert an area of your life in that blank space.)

Here are a few ideas:
Craft/Hobby Supplies (pick just one!)
Email Account
Cell phone
Holiday Decorations
Gardening/Yard Tools
Top desk drawer
Paperwork Pile (just one!)
Photos (for one child, or one vacation, or one special event)

If you start with organizing something you  love, you're more likely to finish it. If you start with something small, it can be a quick win and the feeling of success will inspire you.  And who knows where good feelings can lead?

At the end of 2016, you might just be living a more organized life.

What area came to your mind first?

If you tackle it, I'd love to hear how it went and how it feels now.
Write your comments below by clicking on the "pencil" icon.  

Happy New Year friends!