Musings of a Museum Fanatic: 2020

8.13.2020

6 Tricks to Help You Determine the Date of a Photograph

I've been working on scanning lots and lots of family photos the past few years. I've gotten so many scanned that I have a huge amount of photos I need to organize and identify. So since the beginning of 2020 I've made that a priority. The identifying of photographs is probably the toughest part. Especially when you don't have many people in your family to ask. 

Even if you don't have many people who might know the people or event in the photograph there are plenty of ways to help you narrow things down if not identify what's happening in the photograph. Here are 6 tricks that I use in my personal and professional identifying of photographs. 

What do you have the toughest time with when it comes to identifying photos?



Check for handwritten notes
This might seem obvious but sometimes you just don't think about it. A lot of times with much older photographs they would write notes on the back since it's made of material that's easier to write on. When photos started being printed on glossy photo paper I think we stopped writing on them as much because it was harder. Also if the photograph is in an envelope or container there might be some sort of note. It might be obvious but be sure to check the obvious just in case. 

Check for a date
Many newer photographs will be printed with a date stamp on them. I've found that even when I get photos printed from online places like Shutterfly and Snapfish they print dates on the photographs. If you're working with slides there should be a date printed on them as well. There have only been a few times where I've seen no dates on slides. You might get lucky and have a date in the handwritten note on the back too. 

Black and white v. color
This is another easy way to narrow down the time period of a photograph. You do need to be careful because during the 1950s is when color photographs start to become more affordable therefor more commonly used. 

Look at what are people wearing
After checking for the obvious what people are wearing is the next thing I look at in a photograph. This is really what tends to narrow it down considerably. Say you've got two black and white photos like the one below. You know since they're black and white that they're probably before the 1950s but you need to narrow it down. 

Looking at the photo on the left. Look at what the little girls are wearing. They have dresses with drop hems, tights and patent shoes. The little girl sitting on the mothers lap has boots that are common during the 1910s and 20s. Compare that to how the people in the photo on the right are dressed. The ladies are in outfits that are common during the 1940s. I know most of us have probably seen a movie or two with a World War 2 setting and you can see many outfits that look like what they're wearing. 


People's hairstyles and overall look
You can't really examine someone's outfit without noticing their hair and look as well. They usually go hand in hand when it comes to trends. Looking at the same photos you can see that people's overall look will confirm the time period. Like the ladies on the right. Their hair style helps confirm the 1940s time period. 

What else is in the photo
We become so concerned with the main focus of the photograph that we sometimes don't realize that there are clues in the background! Check out the photograph below. Now I know who is in the photos because there were notes on the envelope but I can see that's my uncle and my cousins when they were younger. 

Say I didn't know that or wanted to be able to tell how old they were. What would I be able to see that could help me identify that? Check out the TV in the background. I bet we could hazard a pretty good guess or you could even try to figure out the exact model with some good sleuthing. There are some other things in the background including another photograph. That's actually a photo of my Dad on the TV! Maybe I know the date of that photograph or I could tell by his very obvious 1970s hair style!

 
Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.11.2020

Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats

A couple weeks ago I started an out of the box challenge on my Pampered Chef business page. So many of us buy a Pampered Chef or other kitchen tool with the best intentions of using it all the time. Only to have it remain in our cabinet, drawer or even worse the box for months or even years. Even as a consultant I'm totally guilty of this! 

I thought it would be fun to challenge everyone and myself to use one tool that we haven't used yet or is under utilized. Last week I made these super fun Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats using a few products that I hadn't even taken out of the plastic yet! 

Want to join in the challenge or at least check out what I've been up to? Head over and like my Pampered Chef business page.


Meatloaf & Mashed Potato Boats

Meatloaf
1½ lbs. 90–95% lean ground beef
½ cup plain bread crumbs
½ cup barbecue sauce, divided
¼ cup milk
1 egg
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Topping
2 cups mashed potatoes

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the beef, bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce, and the remaining meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Mix until well combined.

3. Use the Large Scoop to add about 2 scoops of the meat mixture into each well of the Mini Loaf Pan. Press the meat down and use the rectangular Boat Press to create a well.

4. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the meat is cooked to 160°F. (Some grease may surface. Use a paper towel to remove the grease.)


5. Rinse the rectangular press and carefully press the hot meatloaves immediately after removing them from the oven. Allow them to cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing them from the pan.

6. Brush the remaining barbecue sauce onto each meatloaf using the Chef’s Silicone Basting Brush and fill the wells with mashed potatoes.


Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.06.2020

How to Stay Healthy When You Work a Desk Job

Working at a desk job full-time can be pretty rough on your health. Since most of us are still working from home for extended periods of time I think it's only exasperated the issue. I know I've been guilty of bad health habits when it comes to working at a desk (or dining room table right now) all day. Do you work at a desk?

Working at a desk job is not as easy as it sounds there are a lot of different health issues you should be concerned. Here are 8 ways to keep yourself healthier when you're working at a desk all day. 



Posture 
Posture is one of those health benefits that I think most of us forget about. It's probably one of the simplest changes we can make to keep healthy. Having good posture can keep your body pain free when you're sitting for so long. If you have bad posture for 8 hours or more a day it can lead to issues in your neck, shoulders and back later in life. I know I've caught myself at the end of the day with neck pain and realized that I was hunched and had my neck stretched most of the day. It was not fun!

Not being active
When I'm in the office I am always having to walk to the archive so I usually get in almost 10,000 steps during the work day. The first few weeks of working from home I realized I wasn't even breaking 3,000 a lot of days. That's not good! our bodies are just not meant to be sitting for that long of time. 

I started implementing some activity a few times an hour. For me I decided I'd get up and walk to another room of the house and do one small thing. So I'm getting more steps in as well as putting away some things or accomplishing something else small.  

Stretch
Adding stretching to your movement is super beneficial when you're stuck in your chair most of the day. Kevin also works most of his day at his desk and he likes to start his day off with stretching. He says that if he does it in the morning and then a few times throughout the day his back is much better off. Take some time and even if you just do stretching in your chair you'll be thanking yourself for it later. 

Walk & talk
If you're in a call/meeting you should pace while you're talking. I know that with video calls it's not always possible but I bet there are some meetings where you can find time to pace and talk. I'm notorious with my family for putting in my earbuds and doing something around the house while we're talking. Maybe you can't do it during meetings but with all sorts of trainings being virtually maybe that's the time for you to listen and walk. 

Make time for breaks
From everything I've heard about working from home is that lots of people have gotten notoriously bad about making sure they take breaks. So not only have we been stuck in our chairs even more we're not breaking like we should be. Take time for breaks! Besides the fact that I think it's the law in a lot of states it's really beneficial for your health too!

Eat healthy foods
We all know that eating healthy foods is good for us. It's one of those no brainer things but it's definitely easier said than done. I know I'm guilty of it. It used to be the fact that there were always treats in the office but now if you're at home you've got access to your entire kitchen which might include several kinds of ice cream. 

Planning out your meals and snacks can give you flexibility to enjoy what you're eating but help you keep yourself on track. I've always been a good meal planner for my lunches when I went into the office but have slacked off since working from home. I've noticed that I've gotten sloppy about eating enough veggies during the day. 

Designate a work space
This is more for those of us who are working out of our homes right now. It's easy to have your work creep into other areas of your life if you don't have a designated spot. If it starts to creep that's when you've got unhealthy habits like working all the time popping up. Don't let it creep into other areas. I have taken over our little dining room as my work space. Maybe it's just a corner in a second bedroom or your family room. Just make sure that works stays in that spot!

Music makes everything better
Whether you love pop music, rock or country turning on your favorite tunes can make you feel amazing and happy. Figure out what tunes work best to brighten your mood. When your mood is brighter you are healthier. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

8.04.2020

5 Tips to Start Budgeting

Taking on new habits can be tough especially when it's something as important as your finances. Budgeting can be an overwhelming thing to start. We've been budgeting consistently for over a year and I still feel like I'm figure it out! Don't let it overwhelm you to the point where you don't start. Here's 5 tips to get your started on your budgeting journey. 



Write it down
Budgeting doesn't work if it's all in your head. As much as we say we're going to remember and make sure we don't spend a ton this month it's really hard if you don't have it in writing. You don't have to create anything from scratch anymore if you don't want to. We've been using the EveryDollar budgeting app for the past year and it's worked great for us. Maybe you're an old school excel person. Figure out what works best and write down your budget each month.

Make it together
If you have a significant other make sure to sit down and work on the budget together. Budgeting doesn't work if it's just one of you who is ok with it. Make sure you both get on the same page with what you're going to be spending your money on that month. If you just need to worry about yourself all the better, hopefully it's a much faster conversation!

Use the previous month as a starting point
When Kevin and I sit down to make our budget with the new month we always look at the previous month. There are a lot of expenses like housing, internet and Netflix to name a few that are the same charge every month. Since these costs are the same it makes it easier to work on your budget next month. EveryDollar lets you pull over the previous months budget so you have less work to do which is super nice and I appreciate how it helps us cut down on the work.

Always be trimming
Part of the point of a budget is to see where you could be trimming and saving money. So obviously if you're not actively working to trim each month the budget isn't helping with your saving goal. Every month Kevin and I talk through our spending together and we each share our thoughts on how we spent our fun money. We work to see where we can spend less the next month. 

Track all your expenses
This seems pretty obvious but a lot of times people think that budgeting is just the big stuff. The small stuff adds up and it can add up fast. I'll admit in June when the craft stores opened back up there was a lot of great clearance. I went a little nuts and forgot some of the charges in our budget. Luckily I was still way under my fun money budget for the month but it could have been bad if I has spent more and not tracked it.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

7.21.2020

5 Simple Ways to Be More Positive

Since the pandemic started I've found that it's been tougher for me to feel positive. There is so much happening with COVID-19 itself much less thinking about all the other things like not being able to see family, potential layoffs, the massive change to life and so much more.

I feel like I can be an odd duck when it comes to positivity, I can be that way for other but don't do so well for myself. Being positive is tough for a lot of us. It's like a muscle and we need to make sure that we work that muscle.

5 Simple Ways to Be More Positive by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #Improving


Be grateful and express gratuity
It's amazing what acknowledging all that we have to be grateful for can do for your positive outlook. One of the hardest parts of the pandemic was not being able to see our close family like we normally do. I had to step back and say you know what I might not be able to see them in person but we can still video call each other. Not everyone has that opportunity.

Next time you're in a situation where you're feeling anything but positive take a step back from the situation and ask yourself if there is any part of it that you can feel grateful for.

You are who you hang with
A few years ago I read in an article that you are most like the 5 people you spend the most time with. At the time I was dealing with a not so great boss who acted in a negative manner all the time. Part of my lack of positivity was from the fact that I had a bad boss but I realized that because I spent so much of my time (40 hours a week is a lot people!) with this person I was starting to act like them.

Surround yourself with positive people in your life and you will begin to be more positive. Being positive is contagious so make sure you have the opportunity to catch it.

Find your positive music
We all have that music that as soon as it comes on our playlist we start to smile then our toes start tapping. Before you realize it you're dancing around the kitchen. You might not realize exactly what song it is right this moment but take some time to figure it out. Mine tends to be 90s and 00s pop. Who can't be happy listening to Britney?

Have a positive morning routine
How we start our day reflects how the day ends up. One thing that we've added to our routine is Kevin wakes me up instead of setting a second alarm. It's much nicer to wake up to him saying good morning my love instead of the alarm. Maybe you're someone who can wake up to music. Try setting an uplifting song instead of the alarm.

Making a good, healthy breakfast starts your day off on a positive foot as well. As much as we love our Captain Crunch if you eat it every morning you're going to be feeling blah. Maybe take some time for meditation and quiet time or don't touch your phone until right before you leave. Test out some of these different things and then adding them to your routine will increase your positive outlook on the day.

Do something positive for someone else
If you're finding it hard to be positive try doing something positive for someone else. Is there something you could do to help out and make things less stressful for the people in your daily life? When I'm having one of those stressful moments Kevin will see what he can do to help me feel less stressed. Like if I'm trying to get a couple packages to the post office and can't find something he'll say just sit down, relax and I'll find it.

That one little moment of finding the lost item will completely change my perspective. He usually says helping me feel more positive makes his day more positive. Can you do something like that for someone? Maybe something bigger like volunteering in a positive way will help your positive meter out of the negative.



Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

7.07.2020

5 Tips For Working with Your Family History Artifacts

So you've started your genealogy research and now you want to tackle the physical items relating to your family history. This can be anything from photographs to pins from your grandparents to your own drawings from when you were younger! Many of these items you'll want to preserve. It can be pretty daunting to start the physical side of preserving your family history.

The first major step is to start pulling everything together. After you’ve hopefully pulled together most of your documents, photographs and artifacts for your family history, what do you do with them? These are five basic best practices I adhere to while working with historic materials in the archive.

5 Tips For Working with Your Family History Artifacts by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #genealogy #Familyhistory

No food or drinks 

This is one of the most important things to remember when working with historic items. It is so easy to knock over a cup or smear mustard on your hand during lunch. Then you’ve potentially ruined an irreplaceable piece of family history. Don’t keep food or drinks nearby when you’re working with your items.

Always use pencils 

One thing they teach you when you work with historic materials is that anything you do should be reversible. If you’re planning on numbering your photographs and documents as a way to organize, always use pencil when possible. There are certain photographs that you can’t use pencil on.

Gloves 

When people think of an archivist or museum curator, they picture Nicholas Cage in a tuxedo handling the Declaration of Independence with white gloves. This is a more glamorous image of an archivist at work, but it’s actually correct. Gloves are appropriate when dealing with certain types of materials such as photographs and negatives.

However, gloves aren’t appropriate for dealing with items such as ceramics and glass, because of their slick texture. You can find simple cotton gloves from many different suppliers. Archival supply companies have more fitted styles and some with non-slip nubs for a surer grip.

Washing Hands 

Washing your hands before you handle items, with or without gloves, is extremely important. In many cases it is best practice to handle items with clean, dry hands instead of wearing gloves. For example, if you handle fragile papers while wearing gloves, you’re likelier to tear them.

Washing hands is even more important then. You don’t want to bring in your lunch on your hands and then smudge it on a document. Washing off things like lotion and hand oils is crucial as well.

One thing at a time 

We live in a world of carry-every-single-grocery-bag-up-the-stairs-at-once, so it can be tough to work with one item at a time. This is especially important when dealing with historic items since they can be fragile. If you’re trying to work with a pile of extremely old, brittle papers, you could accidentally break off pieces if you grab the entire pile at once. You could trip while carrying multiple boxes of your family’s artifacts, dropping them all. Take care and work with one item or box at a time, carrying them with both hands!


Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

7.02.2020

8 Common Mistakes People Make Paying Off Debt

**this post may contain affiliate links

Changing financial habits can be really difficult. We all make mistakes along the way no matter who we are. It's especially tough when it comes to things we're not familiar with like paying off debt. If you've never done it or done it right before how do you know if you're paying off debt right? It can be confusing.

Here are 8 common mistakes I've seen people making when it comes to paying of debt. We've done more than a few of them ourselves.



No emergency fund

You read about how most people don't have enough money saved up to cover a $400 emergency. When we started our Financial Peace University journey I remember Dave talking about how baby step 1 (having a $1,000 emergency fund) wasn't there at first. After hearing so many stories about people having to start over because of an emergency that popped up and threw off the entire plan they came to the conclusion that most people could cover most emergencies with just a $1,000 emergency fund.

For our debt journey we were able to pay it off without going that low in our emergency fund but for some people just saving up for the small emergency fund is a big step. Having a small emergency is super important so you don't loose that momentum if something comes up and you don't go into more debt for the emergency.

Not cutting all extra spending

Kevin and I had some fights about this step for sure. I was ready to cut all spending to the bone and he wasn't quite ready to go that hardcore right away. We ended up cutting tons of excess spending and are continually working to cut more still even though we're out of debt. If you're still spending money on things like coffee from Starbucks and dinner out each week are you really focusing on your debt? Nope not at all. To get out debt you need to be focused on it. If it's not a priority it's not going to be successful, that goes for anything in your life especially your debt and finances.

Going into more debt

If you're already in debt why do you keep adding more debt to it? Credit card is almost maxed out? Well stop using it! Don't keep spending when you're in debt, it goes right along with cutting out extra spending. Have 35k in student loans and thinking about getting a masters and adding another 20k to the debt? That's just nuts. Don't do it. You don't need to keep going into more debt, you're just digging the hole even deeper.

Not having a plan


A plan is super important when it comes to your debt. It's really easy to wander into debt. Kevin and I did that with our cars. We had no debt at all and decided we could just finance his car. Then mine was needing to be replaced so we just decided to finance mine to. There we were with no debt but then all of a sudden 30k back in debt! It still makes me so angry that we just wandered back into it.

To get out of that debt isn't as easy as getting into it. We needed a plan! Which involved budgeting, making sure we knew our finances better and what our goals were. If you have a partner it's really important that you're both working on the plan together!

Taking on more debt to pay off some debt

I've heard crazy stories about people just moving debt from one credit card to another or by taking out a home equity loan to pay of credit card debt. Why would you put your home into jeopardy with a home equity loan just to pay off consumer debt? Some people think that they can withdraw from their retirement accounts to pay off debt. That's another not so smart idea too. Don't do that. The penalties and interest can be devastating.

Not tracking your progress

Working on something like paying off debt for a long time can be disheartening. Tracking your progress and celebrating milestones helps to keep you going for the long haul. Track that progress as you go. Make a huge thermometer and draw it in when you pay off certain amounts. Make a huge paper chain around your living room and rip off a circle every time.

Don't just track be sure to acknowledge and celebrate milestones as well. Maybe you do something to celebrate each $5,000 you pay off like a dinner out (within budget of course!) or something special like pampered or a movie out. Or maybe it's splurging on the fancy cheese at the grocery store. Keep your moral up and acknowledge all your awesome work.

You're not paying extra towards the principle

This is especially important to pay attention to when it comes to paying off your mortgage. You want to make sure you're paying towards the principal and not just having the extra go towards the interest. Paying off the principle early will have you paying waaaay less in interest, which is the whole point! Make sure you pay attention to where those extra payments are going.

You're not increasing your income

This can go hand in hand with cutting way back on your spending. You will give yourself a raise just by doing that. Don't just stop there though. Is there something that you could be doing to increase your income to help pay off that debt? Maybe it's something like Swagbucks where you're just earning a little more or Respondent where you can earn earn money for studies.

Maybe you want to really wipe out that debt fast so you get a second job. Increasing your income can really put the pedal the metal. There are many different options, who knows maybe you'll find a great long term side hustle that will keep bringing in money once your done paying off debt.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

6.30.2020

Why You Should Ditch Perfection


For the past year I've been really frustrated with my blog. I've been blogging since 2012. I've worked hard on posts and attempted different things with social media. There have been many ideas and topics I've wanted to write about and share but just haven't yet. I was waiting for the right time, for my followers to be more, for the perfect way to say things. 

I realized that my wanting everything to be perfect has been holding me back and making me really frustrated with blogging. It took a while to realize this is why I was getting frustrated but I've realized that perfectionism isn't something I should be beholden to. Perfectionism is always just a reminder that something isn't good enough or when you to try and fall just short of perfect there was no point in trying at all. 

Perfectionism can lead to burnout, frustration and depression. It can hold you back when you tell yourself why bother trying since it won't be perfect. 

Ditching perfectionism is tough but there are many strategies and thoughts you need to keep in mind when ditching it.

Perfectionism isn't real

Kevin likes to joke about my being so efficient and perfect. I always have to remind him that none of us are perfect. We all error and make mistakes. If we didn't everything would be impossible. 

Just start

There are so many things, from blog posts to businesses, that we never start because we're so afraid it won't be perfect. Don't let perfectionism rob you of those opportunities.

It can hurt relationships

Always expecting the people in your life to be perfect can harm them and your relationship with them. By expecting perfection you start to be controlling. No one wants or should be controlled like that. 

Good is just as good

There is a great saying "perfect is the enemy of good". By always attempting to be perfect there is a bigger chance that you'll do a bad job than by just going for a good job. This is something I've worked to wrap my head around when it comes to this blog. I don't have to write a perfect blog post I need to write good posts. 

Raise your stress

Being a perfection can raise your stress levels like crazy. You're so focused on making everything perfect you don't even enjoy what's happening.

Comparison is the thief of joy

This is another area I struggle with perfection. I'm always looking and comparing the little bit that I can see of what's happening in other people's lives and blogs. Instead you and I should be focusing on our own work, enjoying it and making it good. 

Progress is better than perfect

There are so many ideas that never get started because people wait for the perfect time or to be in the perfect mood or to be perfectly thought through. I've had several ideas in my head for an Etsy store for YEARS but haven't actually started because I want perfection. Definitely need to just start making progress instead of waiting for my perfect moment. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

6.18.2020

Simple Way to Cut a Watermelon


Simple Way to Cut a Watermelon by Musings of a Museum Fanatic

Prepping your food for the week can be a really annoying and long task. Especially this time of year when you're dealing with fruits like cantaloupe and watermelon. They take much longer and you can find yourself avoiding the task then wasting the fruit. A few years ago I discovered a much simpler way of taking care of that delicious watermelon! Hope this helps you tackle your melon this summer. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

6.16.2020

5 Free Genealogy Websites You Should Be Using

Starting your family history geneaology projects can get pricey really quickly. You can subscribe to many different websites, purchase different tools and products to help you preserve the physical items and get different programs to help you organize. Don't let it get you down. There are a ton of different resources that are completely free that you can use to research your family history. This is my top 5 list that every beginner and expert needs in their arsenal. 

One thing to keep in mind with all of these websites is that they're volunteer run. Many of them rely on people updating and adding information. So if you're working on a project and they help you out be sure to pay it forward and add some information to help the next researcher. 

5 Free Genealogy Websites You Should Be Using by Musings of a Museum Fanatic #genealogy #FamilyHistory

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is the big grand daddy of free genealogy resources. Use this site to search for your family members, you can search by name, place and record type. Don't skip over searching through their images. You'll discover treasures like scanned local census and military records. A hidden feature is the FamilySearch Research Wiki. This is especially helpful if you're needing to do international genealogy research. The FamilySearch Research Wiki gives you suggestions, research ideas and strategies for researching in probably almost every country in the world. 

Find A Grave

My second favorite free resource without a doubt is Find A Grave. I actually use it regularly to complete research at work! This site helps you with what exactly it sounds like, you're able to search through cemeteries and find graves. Say you don't know a relative's proper name but know the cemetery you can browse through the cemetery that way or search for the exact name. In many cases you'll find information added to the person's listing sometimes linking to an obituary. 

Cyndi's List

I love lists. It's just a fact of life. Cyndi's List is a list of lists. It's fantastic. It helps you connect to different resources that are out there. Say I'm doing family research and wanted to look into our Lutheran history more. Cyndi's List has a Lutheran section that will point you towards records, newspapers, and even specific archives and museums to name just a few. If you're stuck on a specific topic or location Cyndi's List can help you find new resources to check out. 

USGenWeb

The strength of USGenWeb is that it helps you with your state and county research. Each site is run by volunteers and if you need to you're able to connect with them directly for help. I know for my research the Illinois page has been a great resource for great maps and county level information. Check out what great resources they have on your state page. 

RootsWeb

You'll find something unique through RootsWeb. They have hundreds if not thousands of message boards and mailing lists connected to surnames, states, countries and other topics. This will help you connect with other researchers with questions and information. Their research Wiki is another great resource to help you research better. You'll find helpful how to articles and information about sources.  

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

6.01.2020

30 Things That Happened in 2005

In 2005 we were in the middle of a decade and I was in the middle of my college career. We were rocking out clothes like low rise jeans and peasant blouses. The internet and social media were just beginning to infiltrate our lives. What do you remember most from 2005? Any of these moments ringing a bell!?



The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Office and the Dunder Mifflin-ites stepped into our TVs and lives.

Prince Harry dressed as a Nazi for a costume party.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston divorce amid rumors of an affair with costar Angelina Jolie

Michael Jackson is found not guilty of child molestation charges.



Sandra Dee passes away

Hurricane Katrina struck the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastal areas. Over 1,600 people in New Orleans perished.

George W. Bush started his second term.

Destiny's Child official breaks up.

Microsoft released the Xbox 360 in North America



YouTube was founded.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Pope Benedict XVI was elected

How I Met Your Mother
entered our lives

The Prince of Wales finally married Camilla Parker Bowles



Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Mary Kay Letourneau married 21 year old Vili Fualaau, the student she met and had sex with when he was 12.

Four explosions rock the transport network in London, three on the London Underground and one on a bus. Over 50 deaths and over 200 injured.

Tom Cruise proclaims his love for Katie Holmes on Oprah Winfrey’s couch

Demi Moore & Ashton Kutcher get hitched.



Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

We were all obsessed with Charlie the Unicorn ... I still don't get it.

Rosa Parks passes away





Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.29.2020

6 Tips to Help You Begin the KonMari Method

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With most of us stuck at home we're looking to our closets and wanting to organize them better. A few years ago Marie Kondo and her KonMari organization method took America by storm. Lots of us have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up given her KonMari method a go but there are lots of people who might think it's too hard or too much work.

I've worked to KonMari my wardrobe a few years ago and with the extra at home time am working through it again now as well as reading her second book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. I haven't binge watched her show on Netflix yet but it's in my queue. Having gone through the process several times now it's gotten easier and I've understood it even more. Beginning can be tough but there are tricks and tips that will help.

6 Tips to Help You Begin the KonMari Method by Musings of a Museum Fanatic


In a quick nutshell the KonMari technique has you look at every single thing you own and ask yourself the simple question "Does this spark joy?" You start with easier items like clothing and books moving through until you get to the very difficult sentimental items. Even though it seems like an easy thing to decide if something sparks joy it can be very difficult especially when you get to those sentimental items. 

Sparking joy might seem silly at first
After my mom read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the first time we had a long discussion about the idea something sparking joy. She couldn't get past the idea and wasn't sure the method would be helpful for her. Sometimes reframing it instead of sparking joy maybe think of it as do I love this?

Do you look at that top and do you love wearing it or do you think how frustrating how it makes your arms look and you're just not comfortable even though you love the color? If it's the second then it probably doesn't spark joy.

Break it up even more
Part of the process is to pull together everything in the single category. Say your tackling clothes. Pull everything together from every closet, drawer and bin from everywhere in the house.The first time around I did that and we ended up with a massive pile of clothes on the bed for two days.

I've learned that it's helpful to break up the larger categories into smaller ones. So I took one day and pulled out all of my tops and tackled that smaller category first. If you've never done a massive purge and reorganization this can help it not feel so overwhelming too.

6 Tips to Help You Begin the KonMari Method by Musings of a Museum Fanatic


Commit to the process
One of the biggest problems with any organization project is that it's never seen through to the end. You start on your kitchen cabinets but then get part way through and half a dozen things remain on your counters since you didn't finish. Make a point to commit to the process it's a simple one that I know you can tackle!

Pick a good time
I sort of hinted at this with breaking up the categories but making sure you start at the right time is really important. If you start at 7pm pulling out everything in your closet unless you have insomnia you're probably going to frustrated since you didn't give yourself enough time. I feel like I say this about everything under the sun but a little bit of planning makes a big difference. Plan your time!

6 Tips to Help You Begin the KonMari Method by Musings of a Museum Fanatic

Embrace the folding method
This is probably my favorite thing I learned from her book. I absolutely love the folding method. It's made a huge difference in my drawers. My t-shirts used to be in piles and I'd pull one out with the rest of it becoming a mess. Now it's so much simpler and I can see everything.

Read the book then read it again
No matter how much we try and concentrate there is always something we miss. While you can find information about the KonMari method all over the place and you'll be seeing more here there is nothing like reading the book. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a simple read or listen it's only 224 pages so it's a pretty quick read.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.27.2020

Reasons You Need a Will

On our quest to up our adulting game we are working to make sure that we have important papers like a will. A lot of people don't even think about having a will. They don't realize that even if it's just you there are really important reasons to make sure that you have one. There are lots of great online resources if you can't afford to hire a lawyer to make one for you. Do you already have a will?



You decide what happens to your assets
If you pass away without a will there is a good chance that your wishes for your estate won't be followed. So if you have a lot of family who might fight over everything or you want everything to go to the care of your dog make sure you have a legal document aka a will that spells it all out.

You decide what happens to your minor children
While we all hope that nothing will happen to us while our children are little there is always a possibility. Who wants to leave their future caretakers up to chance? That's what can happen if you don't specify this is in a will. The court could assign a family member or even appoint someone outside of your family.

You can keep people away from your money and stuff
Don't want your brother who has no idea how to handle finances getting the money you worked hard to earn and save? Put it in the will! If you don't want certain individuals to receive part of your estate then you'll want to make sure that is written in the will.  

To spell out your charitable giving
I feel like this is a Hallmark movie plot. Old man passes away and donates everything to charity but evil nephew tries to stop it. If you want specific assets or money to go to charity you need to spell that out in your will. Planned giving is yours and your favorite charity's best friend.

None of us are making it out alive
Death is literally the only thing you can count on in life. Whether it's next week or 80 years from now, none of us is making it out of this life alive. Having a will makes it so you can sleep easily at night knowing that your life, your family and your future is decided on and you won't leave a big mess for your family to take care of.

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.20.2020

5 Simple Cleaning Tips

Cleaning is a pain in the butt. Most of us hate doing it and come up with so many excuses not to do it. I know right now our schedules are more open then they usually are but it can be tough to fit cleaning in to our lives. Especially when we find it so tedious.

Now that we have a much bigger home it's even more difficult to keep everything clean. I'm trying to instill better cleaning habits with the two of us. Here's XX tips I've discovered that help keep things simple when it comes to cleaning.


Make a schedule 
Kevin and I have been talking about having a cleaning schedule for waaaay too long now. Since going into stay at home we've put certain larger cleaning tasks like cleaning the bathroom in our calendars. Putting it into the calendar helps make time in our schedule for the various tasks. 

We haven't taken the time to schedule out all the different tasks every week. That's our next goal. It's a well known fact when you schedule out time for something and make it important it's much more likely to get accomplished. Do you have a cleaning schedule already in place? What are you biggest schedule tips?

Always make your bed
When I was in college I read somewhere, probably in a magazine, that if you do one thing to keep your home clean always make your bed. It's amazing how that one little thing can make the room either feel much cleaner or much messier. Plus it's probably the simplest and quickest cleaning you can do in the entire house. Unless you have like 20 throw pillows then you probably need to work on getting rid of some pillows.

Clean small things as you go
One thing that we all tend to accumulate are those small things. Like the couple of coupons you took out of your purse and left in the living room or the hair tie you left on the kitchen table, the list goes on and on. I've always been a big fan of cleaning up those little things as I go. Meaning if I'm getting up and going into another room I take two seconds to take care of any little item that might have ended up in the wrong space. Plus I'm getting a few extra steps too which right now working from the couch is much needed!

Get rid of stuff
If it's not in your house you don't have to clean it! Pretty simple right? While we haven't purged as much in our life as some people have there is way less in our house. It has made a crazy big difference in our house that's for sure.

Do a little bit each day
Thinking about how much of your home you have to clean all at once can be incredibly overwhelming. Sometimes it can be so much that you can't even do anything. There is an old saying "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." Breaking down the cleaning and doing a little bit each day is a good way to break down those overwhelming cleaning tasks.

When you give yourself a set time like half an hour or even just 10 minutes it's easier to focus on those tasks at hand. You can take that time and just clean, clean, clean then you're done for the day if you need to be. Nothing like a deadline to keep you focused!

Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!

5.11.2020

Virtually Visiting Chicago Museums

One of the aspects of the stay a home I've found tough is that I can't go to museums. It seems silly but when you work in them, that's where you go to see colleagues and love them it makes it hard when you can go in them! Lots of these amazing non-profits have been hit really hard with this shut down too. 

Even though we're all supposed to be staying at home now that is no reason why you can't "visit" Chicago museums in other ways. I've pulled together a list of Chicago area museums who are doing the big three of online visit ... virtual tours, digital collections and online exhibits. 

Though not all museums are doing these specific types of online content they're still sharing lots of fun and interesting things like story times, object of the week, talks by members of the staff and so much more through their websites and social media channels. 


Virtual Tours






Digital Collections











Digital Exhibitions 








Thanks so much for stopping by! You can also join me on InstagramTwitter, and Pinterest. In addition to life-capades and doing it for yourself, I love all things 'real life' so use the hashtag #museumfanatic on social media so I can see your beautiful unstaged life. Oh and on the top of the side bar to your right, you can follow me on Bloglovin or on social media to be alerted to each new post!