January is the Time to Get Organized

         Getting organized is a chore, but it’s so logical that you feel like you’ve accomplished something good.  January brought the end of the month of December, the end of the fourth quarter of 2012 and the end of the year.  Lots of practical things to do.  No doubt, you’re well on your way to achieving that goal.  
Do you have all of the 2013 birthday and anniversary greetings figured out for your extended family?  I do, and I’ve ordered them up already for the whole year. I’d like to tell you a good website to check out.  
Last fall I discovered jacquielawson.com  and for a mere $12.00 I’m paid up for the year of unlimited e-cards from her collection.  They’re amusing, entertaining, musical, and even serious.  
You can choose, designate the dates and the emails for a year!  They notify you when an e-card is sent, and another notification when the person has opened that email.  Your Cards History lists the last 30 cards they’ve sent for you.  Under Cards Pending you can view a card again, edit, or cancel it. 
There is a real Jacquie Lawson, an English artist in Southern England who started this in 2000.  She and her friends have created a total of 235 e-cards, ready for your preview.  Birthday cards, Congratulations, Get Well, Christmas cards, Thank you cards, Invitations, Valentine, etc. You can choose such features as dogs, cats, birds, teddy bears, flowers and many other subjects.  
When you click to preview a card you view the animation, and hear the music. The listings tell you about the orchestration.  One I’m looking at here has “Golliwog’s Cakewalk” from “Children’s Corner” by Claude Debussy, orchestrated by Mike Hughes-Chamberlain. You can choose from 15 different headings for your greetings.
        “An Eloquent Arrangement” is a floral bouquet e-card, and you can rollover to show the meanings of the flowers.  Someone of any age would enjoy these clever cards. 
After going through my list of 62 nearest relatives now I’ve covered the whole year in advance.  I sign in with my password and can look at my account.  It lists the name of the e-cards I’ve chosen, the names and emails of the recipients, and the dates I want it sent.  How simple is that!
        But wait, you say, I want to add a personal greeting.  Yes!  You can choose a Write Your Own Message or a Note Card.  I’ve sent personalized poems this way, and signed it whichever way suits the occasion.  
More than 50 of the most popular e-cards have been made into screensavers for you to download from this site.  Directions tell you how for PC or for Mac. 
After looking through their site I had a few questions and emailed Help@jacquielawson.com  Gary’s reply: “As long as the sender does not delete the card you should be able to save it on your computer.  
“Note: We do not permit the commercial sending of our cards to large lists.  If it’s a small group of recipients that the sender knows it is permitted.  If you’d like to post on a forum that has thousands of members that you do not know personally, feel free to link to our site, using instructions found on http://www.jacquielawson.com/linkpage.asp  
“Please note that since our cards are animated and most of the time the entire message will not show up at the end of a card without having to scroll down, printing them usually doesn’t work out.  Unfortunately, there is no way around this. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.”
        Speaking of writing, a poem can convey a thoughtful message without all the bother of regular sentence structure and punctuation.  It doesn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t need to follow any pattern at all.  
I just wrote a page-long birthday poem for Granddaughter Joy.  I wanted to mention some highlights of her life and compliment her on her travels, her volunteering, and her service now as an R.N.  Navy nurse. 
The first draft is just a quickie, then let the writing rest.  Go back the next day and start to add more and polish it up. What you write to that person will be treasured more than a simple card from the store with only your name on the card.  You can convey encouragement, appreciation, happy memories,  plans for the future, and other personal notions that come to mind. 

        Now you can see what a help Mac is.  Pages shows you words that may be misspelled,  you can view your writing larger on your screen if you want to (mine is set for 150% viewing on my 27” Thunderbolt Display), you save it as you go, and then you can save the finished writing in a folder with that person’s name in your family file.  
You may want to make a printed copy for posterity.  Pretty stationery paper is waiting for you at Staples and Office Max.  (You do know that postage goes up to 46 cents for the first ounce on January 27, but the second ounce stays the same at 20 cents.) 
        You could send a pretty email to the birthday person, or the person you want to treat to a nice card.  You know where to find the panel to bring up Stationery on Mail.  But you can also subscribe to other colorful backgrounds for an email.  
        Creative Thinkers: this is fun to do.  I’ve created some family “holidays” for my relatives.  Pick a day, make a nice name for it, send out clever emails or e-cards, or even print something up on certificate-looking paper.  Be sure your printer will print on metallic-decorated paper before using that kind.
Mac has some “official-looking” fonts that make your homemade certificates look really nice. 
                  Here’s a few celebrations I’ve established in the family.  
The Brain Award =  sent to any relative graduating from high school or college.  
The Admirable Brother Award (I only have one brother and he’s a really great guy).  
Happy HARDT-Day = to my sons, their wives, and our grandchildren.  
Darlings-in-law Day =  for my daughters-in-law.  
Happy Everyday = an all purpose, any day of the year greeting to my relatives.  
Happy Sons’ Day = a poem for our sons telling how proud of them we are  
A Certificate of Near Perfection = in recognition of some kind of superior achievement.                             
A more original document was the “Congratulations on Your Medical Achievements” which noted the new title of “Lambpa” for our son Peter who assisted his ewe at the birth of her lamb.
    “Winner of the A to Z Award” was personalized by listing alphabetical characteristics of my brother.  
    For our 52nd wedding anniversary back in 2006 I wrote a poem to Don, and I calculated we’d had 18,980 days, or 455,520 hours, or 27,331,200 minutes of marriage.
    For Don’s birthday one year I wrote, “Have yourself a duct tape birthday.  It’s flexible, useful, strong, practical, helpful: just like you.”
Another birthday, I described other characteristics that the letter “P” of Don’s middle name could stand for, instead of “Paul.” -- persistent, practical,  prudent, providing, pleasant, positive. 
        Of course, a PowerPoint slide show takes the cake.  Our son Peter used beautiful photos taken by his wife Carlene and put in nice words to wish Don a happy birthday one year.  
You can experiment with making slideshows with iPhoto, too.  Do a Google search for “Mac: how to make slideshow DVD” and then under Search Tools designate any date within the last year so that the results will match the latest OS you’re running on your Mac.  
         So start that list of “To Do” and be thankful Mac will be your helper.  Of course, check your Calendar, subscribe to PMUG listings for the meetings for 2013.  Then subscribe to be notified of new postings to www.pmug.us and www.pmugnews.blogspot.com/       
         Plan on having a great 2013, and congratulate yourself on keeping up with the latest and the best.   
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This was today's handout by Elaine Hardt at PMUG.