January 07, 2020
posted by: Allison West
Goal setting for the New Year

Each New Year presents a moment to pause and reflect on milestones and accomplishments of the past 12 months, and to review what we’d like to improve.

Fresh starts are invigorating. It feels good to set goals for the new year. If you set yearly goals, you’ve probably learned that it’s relatively easy to be motivated in January and February. You may start a new diet, stop smoking or join a gym. You’re into it, going strong.

But then, something happens and you stop. It’s hard to stay motivated and strong when the weather’s bad, you have the flu, or you experience a change in job or your personal life...


October 04, 2019
posted by: Allison West
preserving concert tickets

Browsing through my loose recipe collection instantly takes me back to my Mom's kitchen in the 1970s, as my sisters and I learned how to make the dough and bake holiday sugar cookies. She must have been very patient to watch as the three of us did our best to roll out the dough and cut shapes with metal cookie cutters.

As we've all gotten older, those memories are even more special and started family cooking traditions we still practice today.

Food has a special power of bringing people together, especially during the holidays. It soothes and helps us celebrate. It’s something we look forward to. And our most treasured recipes are special because.....


September 03, 2019
posted by: Allison West
preserving concert tickets

Not that I’m still bitter about it or anything. Prickly might be the better word.

My two sisters and I had to stack three cords of chopped firewood for my Dad so we could earn money to see Barry Manilow’s 1977 concert in Charleston, W.V.

Pretty smart of my Dad, I have to admit. What he didn’t know was that I thought blisters and splinters were a small price to pay for the chance to see my dream performer. Nothing would stand between.....


July 03, 2019
posted by: Allison West
back to school

It’s July and it’s already time for back to school shopping. Supplies to organize paper are usually at the top of the list.

Regardless of whether you’re a parent, teacher or student, keeping school papers organized is tough. Most families use a kitchen counter or table that’s dedicated to the piling and sorting of paper. In addition to your own papers, if you have school-aged kids, you have their daily paperwork too.

Creating mounds of unorganized piles means you’re bound to.....


June 12, 2019
posted by: Allison West

Maybe keeping a travel journal is an old-fashioned, romantic notion. But writing down life in the moment, as seen through your eyes for that particular time, takes on a kind of magic when it’s read after your vacation. You’ll never again be in that place, at that age, at that time.

Later, when time provides some perspective, reading old travel journals can inspire tears, laughter, even wistfulness. Good travel journaling tells the tales of our lives.

In the words of Norman Douglas, writing in the 1920s, good travel writing.....


April 27, 2019
posted by: Allison West
collection binders

Americans love their stuff. And we sure have a lot of it. According to Becoming Minimalist, Americans spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods — in other words, stuff we don’t need (The Wall Street Journal).

My own basement pays an overstuffed homage to all the stuff I don’t really need. Plastic bins were full of old photos that my Mother “gifted” me. Stacks of original hardbound American Heritage magazines from my husband’s family. And books, books and more books. I could go on. But you get the picture. Family history and memories are bound so tightly into this stuff I could never just give it away or sell it. So I keep it.....


Mar 18, 2019
posted by: Allison West
beer coasters

Yep, it’s a thing – collecting drink coasters. And you don’t have to visit a bar or restaurant to find them. Known as beer mats, drink coasters, and bierdeckel, drink coasters have found their way out of man caves and into the mainstream.

These small pieces of art and branding history started out as humble pieces of felt. Over the decades, they’ve evolved into fanciful testaments to beer, bars and all things drinking, from all over the world...


Feb 8, 2019
posted by: Allison West
sds binder

OSHA requires industrial workplaces to keep track of all safety hazards, illnesses, injuries and close calls/near misses. Their housekeeping regulation requires certain employers to prepare and maintain records of serious workplace injuries and illnesses.

Anyone acquainted with OSHA's numerous safety regulations and the related documents understands why the housekeep regulation can seem overwhelming. So just what is the best way to organize and store all these documents?...


Jan 28, 2019
posted by: Allison West
Garden Journal

Imagine this scenario. It’s the fall of 1776 and British battleships are gathering off the coastline of Staten Island. George Washington has been ordered by Congress to hold New York City. Remarkably, he stops reviewing his maps and documents – and writes a letter.

It wasn't just any letter. This letter, to the steward of Mount Vernon, Washington’s estate in Virginia, provided exact instructions on how he wanted one of his gardens laid out...


Jan 10, 2019
posted by: Allison West
Organizing paper clutter

Albert Einstein was known to have a notoriously messy desk. Think it bothered him? Not in the least. He responded to critics by pointing out, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign of?”

Scientific geniuses like Einstein, Mark Twain, and Steve Jobs were well known for their sloppy desks. In their defense, there’s a good amount of research showing that messiness makes us more creative. Visual clutter supposedly allows...


Nov 11, 2018
posted by: Allison West
Holiday Gift Ideas

Christmas shopping used to be fun and we looked forward to it. Matter of fact, we couldn’t wait. Holiday shopping meant dressing up, driving to a real downtown, and browsing happily through most of the local department stores and small shops. If you only needed a small gift, you could usually find one at the Woolworth’s Five-and-Dime store.

If it couldn’t be found downtown, the Sears Holiday Catalog was really the only other option. The day it came in the mailbox was a really big deal. As kids, my two sisters and I would sit on the sofa and mark the pages for the really special toys and clothes we liked (a “wish list” not an “I want this” list)...