Blog Posts by CaRoLyN cLaRk, Serendipity & Spark

  • 10 High-Tech Ways to Clean Out

    It's the time of year for cleaning out closets and clearing away clutter. In my apartment, it's my home office that needs the most attention. I still have a some boxes that I never unpacked from my family's cross country move last year. And then, there is the growing stack of finger paintings and drawings from my two very busy 4-year-olds, not to mention a number of documents and statements that need filing.

    This season, I went in search of some unique ways to help with the tedious task of spring cleaning and found there are some really helpful free and inexpensive tech tools that might make a difference throughout the house. So whether you're reorganizing the cabinets, going through all those boxes in the garage or tackling that pile of papers on your desk, here are 10 digital resources to help you tackle the mess in just about every corner of your home.

    THE GARAGE

    1. E-cycle

    It doesn't matter whether the pile is in your garage, attic, or basement. Fact is, many of

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  • Could You Live Without The Web?

    By Heather Cabot, Yahoo! Web Life Editor

    It's embarrassing to admit. But many late nights, you can find me curled up under the covers with my iPhone in hand, checking email, browsing the New York Times or filling in my Lose It food diary app. With my busy household fast asleep, I can unwind in the glow of my ever-present gadget. It's become a bad habit and yet, an easy way to deal with my insomnia. I'm not proud. I've become one of those folks who sleeps with my smart phone on my nightstand. The web is always at my beck and call, keeping me informed, in touch and organized even in the dead of night. And I've learned I am not alone. A new Yahoo! survey marking the company's 15th birthday shows that a majority of Americans are making similar choices - for better or for worse.

    The poll conducted in late February by OTX and Decipher, Inc. reveals that only 19% of those surveyed ban the use of the Internet in bed. 41% check email as soon as they wake up. And a whopping 87% feel

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  • Three Modern Ways to Say Thanks

    Your mother was right. Sending a thank you note when you receive a gift or when someone does something nice for you is never optional. It's a must. But in this wired world we live in, tapping out a quick email or text to express your gratitude may feel a little impersonal. In fact, a recent 2009 Yahoo/Decipher, Inc. survey found that most Internet users say nothing beats a handwritten note. Thanks to the Web, there are some fun ways to show you are taking the same time and care that an old fashioned letter entails. Here are few ideas the next time you want show your appreciation.

    Show It Off

    Ask someone to take a photo of you using your new gift and add some text about how much you enjoy it. Then tweet it, post it on a photo-sharing site like Flickr or on your Facebook wall. Or of course, you can email it, too. This is also a great way to get children involved at an early age and teach them about the importance of saying thank you. Snap some shots of your kids holding up

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  • Cut 15 Minutes From Your To-Do List

    If you're like most time-strapped women, you often underestimate how much time it really takes to get things done for yourself or your family. Often, we set ourselves up for failure when we waste precious minutes chasing down things like forgotten passwords or tracking down the correct URL instead of immediately diving into the tasks at hand. With a little effort, you can make things go a faster by doing some organizational legwork up front. None of these tips will add a 25th hour to your day (And boy, doesn't everyone wish for that some days?). But they may help you shave a few minutes here and there so that you don't feel so rushed all the time.

    Stop Searching For It Time Saved: 5 Minutes

    Assess the Web sites you visit most and organize them in one place. Whether you add them to your new Yahoo home page or bookmark them on your computer's toolbar, save yourself the time you spend navigating to your online banking page or social networking site by keeping those destinations

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  • Survey: Personal touch wins over online communication

    When it comes to social graces, the more things change, the more they stay the same-even in the digital age. That's what a new survey conducted by Yahoo and Decipher, Inc. seems to reveal. The poll questioned 2,587 Americans ages 18-64 about everything from the appropriateness of sending an email thank you after a job interview (62% prefer a handwritten note) to whether it's acceptable to text, email or IM at a restaurant (63% say no).

    In a recent interview, I had the opportunity to talk about the rules of web decorum with the consummate tastemaker herself, Martha Stewart. Check out Martha's take on online wedding invitations and email thank you notes by clicking on the video player.

    Overall, the survey painted a somewhat ambivalent attitude about the role electronic communication plays in our lives. Here's what we found:

    Too much information! Most people said they believe too much information is shared online today. And while 93% of those surveyed say they check

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  • 5 Ways to Trim Your Wedding Budget

    You don't have to break the bank on your big day. Planning a budget wedding can be easy when you take advantage of all of the sources of inspiration and ideas available online. Here are some ways the Web can help you put together a tasteful day you and your fiancée will never forget.

    1. Balance your budget

    The average wedding costs upwards of $21,000 depending on where you live. So if you know that you can only spend a fraction of that figure, it's especially helpful to visualize your spending priorities. Check out the Web-based budget calculator on www.marthastewartweddings.com. You have to register on the site to use this free tool. Once you enter your proposed budget, the calculator will create a line item plan for you with estimated costs based on wedding industry averages. And once you hire a florist or order your dress, it will remind you when payments are due and other deadlines.

    2. Go DIY

    If you have a flair for crafts, there are lots of places across the Web

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  • Preserve Memories in Minutes

    If you are like many people, you have a stash or rather a cache of digital photos on your camera or smart phone that have never seen the light of day. Or maybe, you've put the photos on your hard drive, but never bothered to label or organize them. Now is the time to start. I had the chance to talk to Martha Stewart about a few easy ways to preserve special memories.

    There are tons of quick and easy ways to help you put these photos to good use and save them in a special and creative way for years to come. Take a few moments and finally upload the photos to your computer. Create batches or folders for each one.

    Rename the photo files from their original default names. A file with the name 'MAY_08_ZOO.jpeg' will be much more relevant than "LD1002008.jpeg', and you'll instantly be able to do the math to your kids' ages a few years from now," says Cathy Bennett, founder of the digital scrapbooking company, How Fast Time Flies."

    Once you commit to getting the images to

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  • Do-It-Yourself Advice Goes Digital

    The Big Recession is spurring many people to try their hands at home projects they might normally outsource or just buy off the shelf. The good news is that thanks to the Internet, it's never been easier to find expert guidance on DIY projects. As I showed master crafter, Martha Stewart in a recent interview, the Web offers an infinite number of places to find advice.


    Just go to Alltop.com and type in DIY or Crafts and you'll see what I mean. This ever-growing category of blogs alone offers a treasure trove of information and inspiration. For those of us who may not have been born with a talent (or a yen) for hand-painting a nursery mural or restoring an antique armoire or scrapbooking, there are lots of digital tutorials to get us up to speed, including really easy to follow videos. Here are some resources to help everyone from the uninitiated crafter to the most confident do-it-yourselfer.

    Howcast.com

    With its 100,000 how-to videos (including some funny, quirky

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  • How to Shop Smarter Online

    With so many of us doing everything we can to stretch the dollar, more of us than ever are scouring the web for deals and discounts. In fact, in 2009, the top searched pocketbook related query on Yahoo! was "coupons" - especially, grocery coupons. But with so many offers and promotions, surfing the Web for savings can be overwhelming. Here are a few ideas to help you find the best deals and combat the fatigue that can quickly set in when you're shopping online.

    Set Aside Time to Shop

    It's very easy to take a few minutes to browse here and there when you are multitasking (at your desk at work, maybe?). But if you really want to save money you need to comparison shop and it takes time. Schedule uninterrupted time in the same way you would give yourself an hour at the mall or supermarket and then stick to it. If you are looking for clothes, have your measurements handy so you can easily find the right size.

    Make a Plan

    The more specific you are when shopping for

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  • Four Ways To Feel Good Using The Web

    It's never been easier to make a difference in the lives of people close to home and across the globe without ever leaving your laptop. You already know how easy it is to support your favorite charity by donating money online or signing an electronic petition. Here a four more ways to give back and do good using the Web.

    Pay It Forward

    Take stock of all that stuff cluttering your closets and crowding your garage and give it someone who could really use it. Freecycle.org is considered the one of the largest flea markets in the world. And, you guessed it, everything is free. You can find everything from furniture to office supplies to plywood. (I had a chance to show Martha Stewart how it works. Check out the video player to watch our conversation.)


    Trading is another good way to help each other out. If you are a parent, you can trade toys and other kid gear on Zwaggle.com or take part in an online garage sale for moms at Handmedowns.com.

    Find Out What's Good

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