By Real Simple
Updated May 01, 2007
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Black and white photos
Credit: Frances Janisch

Keep track of the moments, big and small, that compose your life. "We think we'll remember everything, and of course we don't," says craft expert Carol Duvall, the host of HGTV's The Carol Duvall Show, who recommends recording notes in a daily calendar. "Instead of just writing, 'American Airlines flight,' write where you're going and why," says Duvall, who has kept all of her calendars since 1988. Beyond information, keeping mementos is a perfect way to capture the local barbershop before it goes out of business, a special meal, or a vacation.

A scrapbook is the obvious vessel for mementos, but "not everybody has the time or inclination," says Connie Sheerin, author of Memory Keepsakes: 43 Projects for Creating and Saving Cherished Memories (Thunder Bay Press, $20 on amazon.com). Her recommendations for expanding a memory-keeping repertoire include making a pillow out of Grandfather's ties and saving locks of hair in a shadowbox frame.

Other ideas: Have baby shoes bronzed; make a computerized photo album with digital photos, music, and little write-ups about an event and post it on your personal website or e-mail it to friends and family; preserve bouquets by trimming off the stems, submerging the heads in silica (found in most craft stores), and leaving them for a week or two.

Preserving memories isn't just for your own future enjoyment, says Sheerin: "It gives the people who come after you a sense of what your life and times were like and what was important to you." These keepsake-friendly tools will help you get your memories in order:

Archival boxes: These can be expensive (about $35 for a medium-size box made for textiles), but they will last for centuries. They can be purchased at art-supply and archival stores.

Insect traps: Use ones with pheromone attractants specific to the pest (for books, the biggest culprits are silverfish and cockroaches). They cost about $7 apiece at pest-control and hardware stores.

Acid-free paper, boxes, and matting: These sheets of tissue paper (about $10 a pack) and laminated boards are made from rag paper or buffered wood-pulp paper. Available at art-supply and archival stores.

Earthquake gel: This sticky wax is used to keep objects from falling during a quake. It can be purchased at art-supply and archival stores for about $13 a jar.

Archival photo albums: They're different from traditional albums in that they use acid-free paper and usually don't have plastic sleeves. (However, albums with PVC-free plastic sleeves are safe.) From $10 at art-supply, photography, and archival stores.