I’ll hold the tea bag

Just a quick little memory today, a little piece of family history. My mom passed away almost ten years ago (so incredibly hard to believe that it’s been that long) and I have several things around my home that remind me of her. A cut glass jelly jar with some of her costume jewelry in it; a knobbed glass handled basket that holds potpourri in our Guest Room, several pieces of furniture and other objects that are part of our daily life.

One of my favorites is this.

Mom’s teabag holder

My mother was Scottish and came to American (Boston, to be precise) when she was a young child. Being Scottish, she was a tea drinker. I don’t remember ever seeing my mom drink coffee when I lived at home; it was always tea. When I went away to college, I drank tea. In later years, we both learned to enjoy coffee (but she only had it first thing in the morning. After that, it was all tea!)

This little tea bag holder sits on the ledge behind my kitchen sink, where I see it every day. It blesses me to have that little piece of my mom’s life nearby.

Until next time,



There’s been so much talk and so many photos lately about the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it got me thinking about our wedding, almost 34 years ago.

We got engaged in February, 1984 and planned a wedding date of June 23rd.  Sixteen weeks, start to finish! That’s not much time to find a dress, a venue, a photographer, a caterer, a florist – but we did it. We booked a beautiful Botanical Garden in Winter Park, FL for the ceremony and booked the Women’s Garden Club building next door for the reception.  My parents told me we should make it the wedding WE wanted, since they had already had their wedding. What a blessing!

The morning of our wedding, our friends arrived early to the garden to sweep off the “stage” and wipe down the seats. Finally, it was time for the Bridal party to arrive. And then the SECOND Bridal party arrived.  Yikes! The venue had been double-booked! No wonder it had been so easy for us to book it with such short notice.  Since our friends had been there since early morning, fixing the place up, we got to go first.  Once our ceremony was done, we went over to the Garden Club building for our reception. We left our arbor on the stage for the other couple to use for their ceremony. They had put up a beautifully draped table to hold their cake, and they let us use it first for ours.  We cut our reception short so that they would still have time for theirs.  It was a bit touchy there for a bit, but it all worked out ok and we’re still married! (I hope they are, too.)

David and My Dad

Phyllis Bride

Phyllis with her Dad

With our parents

Our cake on the pretty table!

Cutting the cake

Champagne, anyone?

My wonderful parents

Me with my brothers

We’ve raised two beautiful daughters and they are both married now, to great men. We are so happy for them.  Each couple had a beautiful wedding that was exactly right for them. And we hope that they each have a lifetime of happiness together.

That’s all for now. Why don’t you pull out your wedding photos and take a look? If you don’t know how to locate them, give me a call 🙂

Until next time,

There are two kinds of people…

Nick Kelsh, a photographer I’ve met, says there are two kinds of people in the world – those that have had a computer crash and those that WILL have a computer crash.

Since I’m all about the photos, I am concerned about people that have no back up in place for their photos in the case of a computer crash. My best friend had a computer crash several years ago. She had a computer-savvy friend do the best he could to retrieve the info from her hard drive, but it was a mess. Layers and layers of folders and files to sort through in the hopes of finding a photo at the bottom. Even worse was that shortly thereafter, her External Hard Drive also crashed. Let’s just say that did not make her happy!

So, what to do? A general rule of thumb is to have three sources of backup. One in your home, one outside your home and one in the cloud. For example, an external hard drive that is hooked up to your computer and you back up to it (REGULARLY!), with a second external hard drive that gets backed up less frequently (once a month, maybe?) and is kept in a friend’s house or a Safe Deposit Box at a bank. Remember to back up the photos on your phone and tablet, and if you do digital scrapbooking, back up those files, also.

For the cloud storage, I definitely recommend Forever.com.

Your memory keeping solutionForever is permanent online storage that you own, not rent. All images still belong to you and you control who can see them. The storage is guaranteed for generations and your data will not be data mined or sold to advertisers. Files are preserved in the highest resolution and are migrated to newer formats as old formats become obsolete (ever had a movie transferred to a VHS, then transferred to a DVD?). Your data is fully encrypted and triple backed up on strategically located servers.


2 gb account

I’d love to help you with your digital mess of photos (or physical photos and memorabilia, too!).  You can check out Forever by clicking here for my website or contact me at cmphyllis@msn.com.

Until next time,

Phyllis signature

National Siblings Day

So, I heard that today is National Siblings Day and that, of course, made me think of my brothers.

I am the youngest sibling (by far; my brothers are nine years and six years older than I) and the only girl. My oldest brother once said that I had totally different parents than they had! We grew up in a small, rural town in Connecticut and, I think, had a pretty good childhood! I was only nine when my second brother went away to college, so although I had siblings, I was often the Only Child (around).

I no longer live in Connecticut, so I don’t see my brothers as often as I’d like. They both still live there (one brother lives in the house we grew up in!) and I’ve been thinking for the last few days that I’d like to try to get up there for a visit this summer. I miss them and the rest of my family!

Here are a few pics of us through the years. Not many of us during the teen-aged years!

Siblings 1955

Siblings 1957

Brothers – including one that we “adopted” along the way!

At my wedding in 1984

Christmas in CT – with our Mom in 2003

At my nephew’s wedding reception in 2004

With our mom at my niece’s wedding in 2005

At my daughter’s wedding in 2012

If you have siblings, maybe give them a call today!

Until next time,

And they’re off!

Remember last time, I was taking old photos off a cardboard sheet that I had framed for my parents for their 40th anniversary (in 1981!)?

Well, I finally got it all together to send it off to Forever to be converted to digital, along with a Heritage album I made years ago. So excited!

First, I took the pages out of the Heritage album that I wanted scanned. Once these images are added to my Forever account, I will copy them into my brother’s Forever account, since he is the historian/genealogist in the family. I just do the pictures! Then I separated the photos into two piles (and then zipper-topped bags) – those that were smaller than 2×3 (these have to be scanned differently) and those that were larger than 2×3.

Then I filled out the form, so Forever knows what I am sending them and they can make sure it all is there when they open the box.

Wrapped it all up in the plastic bag they provided and taped it well, so that all the contents are protected.

Then I put it all in the box I had previously purchased for the digital conversion.  They even make the cardboard box pretty with the blue paper to protect the contents even more!

The cost of the box includes three-way shipping (box to me, box full of photos to Forever, box of photos back to me after digitizing) and insurance. A (fairly large) portion of the cost of the box goes toward the cost of the digitizing. If you go over (I did last time, BIG TIME, but this time I kept better track and I’m right on target), they just call and tell you the overage and you OK it or not.

Here’s my box, all taped up and ready to go to Fed Ex to be sent off to Forever.  Can’t wait to get it back!

Do you have photos, slides, negatives, 8mm videos, VHS or Beta tapes, reel-to-reel movies, etc. that are languishing under a bed or in a closet?  Bring them back to life by having Forever digitize them.  Check out my website for more information, www.forever.com/ambassador/PhyllisO.  Just click on the link for Products, then Media Conversion.

Until next time,



Saving old memories

In 1981, I made a collage for my parents, in celebration of their 40th anniversary (in 1980). I didn’t know what I know now about photo preservation, and used rubber cement to glue down the (precious, old) photos to the (gasp!) cardboard included with the frame I bought. Were I doing this today, I would have done it very differently, but I didn’t know then what I know now!

So, when I decided to send the original photos to Forever to be converted to digital images, it took a little work. I wanted to add them to my account and to my brother’s account (he is the genealogist in the family, as I am the photo historian!).

So, I started with a large collage, mounted on cardboard and adhered with rubber cement. First, I gently pulled off the photos that were barely holding on.

Forever conversion project 40th Anniv collage

Then, I got out the tools of the trade: a hairdryer, a “Multi-Purpose Tool”, which is a slick sort of spatula made by Creative Memories, dental floss, which helps pull the photos away from the cardboard, an Exacto knife, and a ruler, which provided a flat surface with which to gently pull the photos off the cardboard.

Forever conversion project 40th Anniv collage

Forever conversion project 40th Anniv collage

Some of the photos released easily and were removed from the cardboard, but others were tenacious and refused to budge. I hit them with the hairdryer. I pulled and coaxed with the ruler. But they still held firm. So, I used my trusty Exacto knife and cut through the photo and the underlying cardboard and removed the photo and the cardboard. Better safe than sorry!

Forever conversion project 40th Anniv collage

This one wouldn’t let go of that bit of cardboard; so I kept it!

Newspaper article – kept  it stuck to cardboard to protect it.

There was one photo that I ripped as I was removing it; that will be send to Forever with a note asking them to repair it and give me a digital image. There will be an extra charge for it, but it is the only one I have, so it is worth it.

Forever will digitize all of these photos and the images will end up in my account and in my brother’s account also. What a gift, to have the digital files for these priceless photos.

Want to know more? Go to www.forever.com/ambassador/PhyllisO for more information.

Until next time,


Family memories are not just for photo albums & scrapbooks

We have a family tradition that I love – Christmas stockings! I grew up in a home that loved Christmas stockings. When we were “grown”, my mother told us that she was going to discontinue the Christmas stocking tradition. My (Jewish) sister-in-law was aghast. She had just gotten used to having a stocking and she was not to be denied that joy! So, Mom continued with the stockings.

When my husband & I got married, I made stockings for our “family”. However, I wasn’t thinking of the future, and I made them really big! I decorated them every year with something that represented what went on in our lives that year. A trip, a baby, a new home. When the babies came, they each got their own (really big) stocking. Theirs also got decorated; with rattles, and reminders of family trips, and with graduation caps and engagement rings. Then the husbands joined our family and they also got stockings. Theirs are sparser, because they haven’t been around as long, but they are starting to fill up!


Stockings that are too full to hang!

We’re going on a family trip to Spain this summer, and you can guess what will be going on the stockings that will be hung on the mantel with care – you guessed it – a memento of our trip to Spain!

Memories are important; keep them in many ways! In my next post, I’ll show some other ways our family has saved our precious memories.

Until next time,

My travel wall

I’m so excited about my new travel wall. I had the idea to turn a little triangular wall in my downstairs workroom into a travel wall, inspired by my daughter’s wall in her living room, which is full of beautiful travel photos taken by her husband. So I picked out a bunch of my favorites (evenly vertical and horizontal) and had them printed as 8×10’s. Then I picked out a very skinny black frame, which would give definition to the photos but not take up much room, since it is a small wall.

Then I recruited help. My daughter and her husband agreed to come over on Sunday afternoon, and since that gave us four sets of hands to work with, we completed the task in a very short time. Before they arrived, we taped poster boards to the wall so we would know the shape and size we had to work with. Then I took down the poster boards and laid them on a table and started laying out the photos. The pattern I ended up with (alternating vertical and horizontal in a grid) worked nicely in the space and filled my need for symmetry. Once they arrived, we moved some of the pictures around so that we were all satisfied with the color flow, etc. Then all we had to do was pick a starting point, and armed with a level, a pencil, a handful of picture hangers,and an empty frame (so we would know where the nail needed to go), we got to work.

Here’s what the completed wall looks like. There are pictures of trips to Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Skyline Drive, New York City, Wintergreen Resort, New Hampshire, Germany, Washington DC, Rockport MA, Gunnison CO, and more!

Travel Wall

Every time I walk past the wall, I stop and gaze. I love looking at photos that remind me of wonderful trips we’ve taken as a couple or a family (and some that I took alone!). I am so blessed that we completed this project and thankful for the help my husband, daughter and son-in-law provided. It was a family effort and it was fun. And I LOVE the result! I even have a few spots left over for our upcoming family trip to Barcelona!

Until next time,


I’ve been thinking lately about grandmothers. My best friend just became a grandmother to a sweet baby girl. Another friend’s first grandbaby (a boy) is due in a few weeks. None on my horizon as of yet, and that’s just fine (no hurry, girls!!).

But all the grandbaby talk got me thinking about my grandmother and my mom as a grandmother.

My grandmother was British. From the “old country”. She cared for her father and siblings after her mother died and she married my grandfather, who was Scottish, when she was an “old maid”. When my mom was a young child, their family came to America. They landed in Boston and built a new life there. I grew up in Connecticut, but all of our grandparents lived outside Boston, so we visited them regularly. My grandmother (“Nana Baird”) loved us lots, but she was very proper in her mannerisms. There were women that she had known for 50 years who she still didn’t call by their first names. She wore dresses, never pants and NEVER a bathing suit! I don’t remember her ever getting down on the floor and playing with us, but maybe she did. One memory stands out, though, as being out of the ordinary. I was visiting my grandparents when I was a tween-ager and she took me to see an Elvis Presley movie! Quite a departure for my proper grandmother. She lived with us when I was a teenager and I loved going into her apartment to talk after school or on the weekends. And she made AMAZING egg custard! So yummy.

Nana & Grampy

Nana & Grampy

Nana Baird

Nana Baird

My mom was a different kind of grandmother. She played on the floor (and in the pool). She went to a Water Park with us when she was in her late 70’s and rode all the rides with my kids. Even the “Bubba Tub”! She baked cookies, yes. But she also played Uno and Scrabble and Hide & Seek. She made Gingerbread Houses with the girls at Christmas and she and my dad took the older grandchildren camping with them in their RV. She mailed the Kids’ Page from her local newspaper to our girls so that they could do the games and puzzles and think of her. About a week before she died, she went with me to take the prom pictures of our younger daughter and her friends. She was amazed at the Paparazzi that appeared for the event (or was it the Mamarazzi?). She traveled, and she had fun.

Camping w-David H

With Grammy at the pool

Naptime with Grammy

Grammy & Becca

Making Gingerbread Houses

Neither was better; just different due to their times and lifestyle. I just discovered, when writing this blog, that my Grandmother was about the same age when I was ten as my mother was when my older daughter was ten.  So much had changed for women in those years!

I wonder what kind of grandmother I will be when it’s my turn? I’m sure it’ll be fun!

Until next time,

I’m a Photo Advisor – what does that mean?

I have realized lately that not everyone I know knows what I do. I realized this when a fellow Forever Ambassador (Lisa Kirkley) shared this story with us:

I once had a team member attending her first team meeting who saw a co-worker there that was on our team. After the meeting she came up to me in tears and said, “It’s not fair that she had known about this for three years and saw me every day and never shared the product or business with me.”

So, just so you can know what I do and can take advantage of it if you want to (or share it with someone else who may be interested), here goes:

I work with Creative Memories (yes, we are back and better than ever!) to help people preserve their photos and memories in beautiful albums; traditional style, the quick and easy “Fast2Fab” albums, and the even quicker and easier Slide-in Albums. None of us have perfect memories and just about every child (and most adults!) love seeing their lives and loves in an album before them. You can check out the latest from Creative Memories at www.creativememories.com/user/PhyllisOffenkrantz.

I also work with Forever, which has two avenues for preserving photos and memories.
We have digital organization software (Historian) and digital scrapbooking/design software (Artisan) which are inexpensive and easy to use. We also provide printing of those scrapbooks and projects and other items such as calendars and wall art.
Secondly, we offer permanent, cloud-based photo storage, which is free of data-mining and information-sharing to other companies, and is triple-backed-up and encrypted for safety. Your Forever account can be organized into “albums” so you can easily find the photo you are looking for. And because it’s also available on our Forever app, you can carry ALL of your photos with you without using up all of your phone’s memory.

As Nick Kelsh (photographer) says, there are two kinds of people in the world – people whose hard drives have crashed and people whose hard drives will crash sometime in the future. Losing a lifetime of photos due to hard drive crashes or flood or fire or theft would be so very sad – please take the time and energy to protect your photos and memories for the future. You can check out Forever at http://www.forever.com/ambassador/PhyllisO.

Well, now you know what I do. Let me know if I can help you!

Until next time,