Saturday, January 29, 2011

My favorite food growing up...

My favorite food growing up was the German Russian fare made by my mother and grandmother. And, because my ancestry is German Russian, and we love all foods, I have to pick my favorites by category:

1) Soup--Green Bean Soup=made of dumplings, green beans, and potatoes with thick broth. Yum!

2) Main course- Cottage Cheese Mauldasha --Called by many other names, this was made with a basic dough cut into squares, filled with cottage cheese mixture, pinched together into a square, boiled and served with butter. It is our Christmas Eve tradition!

3) Pink Peppermint Cookies -- Shown in the picture above, these treats were peppermint delights in pink cookie form. I remember when we drove over to my grandma's house, I always hoped she had baked these cookies. Usually she had a batch waiting for us in her kitchen.
Now I am definitely hungry!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Day to Relax, Recoup and Reminisce on a Great Family History Expo

After a busy two days at the Arizona Family History Expo, I slept late. I plan to savor and record all of the great information and ideas I can pursue in my family history.

Holly Hansen's concluding remarks helped to wrap up a fabulous event. The opportunity to get to know her better during the last two days was a distinct pleasure for me. Since I lived in Tennessee for ten years, I understood her dilemmas of tracing Georgia ancestors.

Thanks to those who attended my workshops. Arizona is not a hotbed of Germans from Russia. It is always a risk to discuss a narrowly focused topic such as "Discovering Your German Russia Roots" but one I was willing to take to help fellow researchers. The attendees were very interested and asked good questions. I also met someone from my own ancestral village of Mariental!

The "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter for Genealogists" was also a great experience and I think all of us walked away with new ideas on how to approach our family history stories. Let's keep in touch so we can continue to encourage each other on our writing journey.

Special thanks also to Ashley, Frank, Ed and Judy who supported me this week when I needed it most. I truly appreciate it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

BLOG Mania!

At the BLOG house again this morning. So many people are stopping by and learning what a blog is, how to set one up and how to share their family history research. For all who ave stopped by, thank you.

Everyone is raving about the photography class Gary Clark just conducted entitled, " 19th Century Paper Photographs: Discovering When the Pictures Was Taken."

There are more workshops this afternoon and I plan to attend "Mark Twain's Death Solves a Family Mystery: The Value of Using Newspapers in Family Research, United States Newspaper Research." What intrigues me about this class is the Mark Twain angle. Did you realize Twain's autobiography was just published? Yes, indeed. He wrote it when he was alive and insisted it not be published until 100 years after his death.

That might be the way to keep those family skeletons in the closet from wreaking havoc during your lifetime.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Skeletons in your closet?

M Bridget Cook was the guest speaker at the Friday night dinner for the Family History Expo in Mesa this evening.

Bridget is a focused and spiritually mature woman who knows how to deal with adversity. Her vast writing experience on difficult and sometimes appalling topics make her the ideal choice to explain how to deal with skeletons in our own family history closet.

Should real names be used? Yes, if it is a record for your family alone. If you are going public with your story, you need to protect the innocent, and sometimes the guilty, too.

Bridget was a great inspiration to all who heard her tonight. As I imagine she is to everyone she interacts with on a daily basis. Sensitive issues beyond what most of us have in our family background require expert understanding which Bridget certainly provided. I was glad my daughter was able to join me in such a memorable event. Find out more at

Ultimate Google Search Strategies

Basic search symbols can make or break your google searches And Lisa Louise Cooke shared her techniques for getting the best out of your search engine.

You probably know the AND and Or and - (minus) features. These features are crucial if your - family name is Coffin, Ivory or All (as indicated by one of the attendees).

Quotation marks - If you want an exact phrase, use quotation marks around your words. Adding a date can help, too. You can also go straight to the Advanced Search on the google page.

Tilda search - To get the best results, on a synonym search, use the Tilda in front of your words to let google know you are OK to have synonyms used in the

Asterisk search-insert an asterisk if there could be a word inserted between the phrase you use.

Numrange Search - especially helpful to use ancestor's name and the years as 1790...1830.

Advanced Search Strategies include:

Find a great family website? Find out who linked to it by copying the URL and go to google and paste the URL and the word link with no space between link and the URL address. You will find others who could be relatives!

Related search-Use the word relate instead of link and you may find related websites.

Key words and symbols: plus the URL Home Page can find information faster especially in

The syllabus details more of these searches. Be sure to check the left column on Google to see the latest options for pictures, photographs, drawings when you are searching for images.

Google Books, especially those out of copyright, can be downloadable. Good historical information for any genealogist. Also check which searches all libraries.

Photographs: A Mystery to be Solved

Rebecca Kremer Harvey stopped at the BLOG house and shared her beautiful photo album. She received it from her dad's mother. Unfortunately, she does not know all of the people in the pictures but wants to find out more.

Irene Winterburn recommended trying Google Picassa for the face recognition tool. Will it work? Rebecca will let us know.


Bloggy the dog joined us a few minutes ago. You need to visit us at the Blog House to meet him.

Irene Winterburn and I have already met great people at the expo.
** We met a man who started researching his family after a visit to Nova Scotia and he has discovered over 13,000 ancestors since last October.
**More people blog this year than last. After Dear Myrtle's session this afternoon, those of us at the blog house will help attendees set up a blog.
**The big question from one of the attendees is: Can anyone read and translate Yiddish writing? And be willing to help a fellow genealogist who is willing to pay for services? Let me know if you can help.

Family History Expo in full swing!

Holly Hansen and Lisa Louise Cooke kicked off the Mesa expo with a bang! Thank goodness the weather is beautiful.

Both of them inspired us old dogs and new puppies to consider where there is a need, there is an ability to learn.

Think about the transitions in just the past few years:

**Bulletin boards
**Oover 30,000 downloads in one month is possible
** it out! And, embrace the new technology

Let the Expo excavation begin!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Countdown to Family History Expo: One!

My busy week is about to get busier! Tuesday night at Changing Hands was fabulous. The group who attended the presentation shared their ideas and projects so it was interactive and inspring for all.

Tomorrow is the big day in Mesa, Arizona. My workshop "Discovering Your German Russian Roots" begins at 4:30 p.m. but you won't want to wait that long to get to the expo. You can buy tickets at the door for both days, one day or for an individual workshop. And, the Friday night dinner will be a wonderful event to meet others who share your passion for family history.

M. Bridget Cook will not only speak but give you a copy of her new book! There are still tickets available for this event. Tickets are $33 and include dinner, dessert and a signed copy of Bridget's book.

Here is more information on the event:

The link to registration for the Friday event (registration ends Thursday at 10am MST)

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Changing Hands and Can Ole' Dogs Learn New Tricks means a busy week for me

I am glad I have a three day weekend. It guarantees me time to watch football and to put the finishing touches on three presentations for this week.

The first presentation is on Tuesday at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. I will present a workshop entitled, "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter" with Dee Dees.

Is one of your goals for the coming year is to write down your stories for your children or grandchildren, this is the workshop for you. This session is packed with writing exercises and discussion to inspire you to achieve your writing goals. For more information and to register/prepay, visit

The second and third presentations are at the Family History Expo at the Mesa Convention Center. On Friday, I present "Discovering your German Russian Roots: Tracing your Ancestry on Three Continents."

This workshop helps those with ties to Germans from Russia trace their ancestors. German Russians are individuals who relocated to Russia at the invitation of Catherine the Great in the late 1700 and early 1800s. Descendants are now located throughout the world. This session introduces the latest technological resources available for research.

The final workshop is "WRITE to the Heart of the Matter for Genealogists." Not an encore presentation, this is designed just for genealogists. You’ve carved your family tree, now jump start writing your family history. Genealogists know birth certificates, census records, cemeteries and passenger lists. Writers know plotlines, point of views, and characters. How do you bridge the gap to turn your maze of facts and documents into a family history? Learn the techniques I use to make your family research come to life. Come ready to write!

You can register for daily passes at or workshop passes for $12 each at the door.

Stay tuned for updates on all events.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Can Ole' Dogs Learn New Tricks?

Lisa Louise Cooke will present the keynote address "Ol’ Dogs Can Learn New Tricks: Looking to the Past for the Future of Your Family History Research" at the Arizona Family History Expo on Friday, January 21.

I met Lisa at last year's expo and was impressed with her knowledge, website and podcasts. Her presentation on using Google maps and overlaying it with historical maps fascinated me and remains ingrained in my mind. I believe she will do an update of that presentation in addition to her keynote address.

Lisa will show you how by looking to the past for inspiration on how to take on the future, and demonstrate how the hottest and newest technologies can help you work smarter, not harder. And this is one ol' dog who is ready for it.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Winners announced!

Frank Sortelli of Chandler, Arizona and Judy Gareis of Apache Junction, Arizona are the lucky winners of tickets to the Arizona Family History Expo. Frank and Judy will attend the expo at no charge and will learn the latest info on genealogical success.

With plenty of exhibits and numerous workshops, the two days will be exciting and entertaining.

Frank and Judy, I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Tale from Rognac, France alters family's history

Here is the latest entry written by Frank Sortelli of Chandler, Arizona. The page above is from his great-great grandfather's journal where he copied a letter he wrote about the accident which changed the course of his family's history.

"In October of 1878 in the small town of Rognac, France a tragedy occurred that would have a profound effect on the mind of a young man. The resulting memories of this event would influence a large segment of the intellectual movement in France in the beginnings of the 20th century. This young man’s name was Henri Ner, my great-great uncle, and he would later become a leading voice of the pacifist and anarchist movements in France as a member of the French Academy and an author of over 60 novels and philosophical books.

Through the families of his father and mother, Jacques Ner and Virginie Campdoras he was immersed in the ideals of the French Republic and the Church. His maternal uncle risked his life in a coup d’├ętat against the tyrannical Napoleon III and was banished from France in 1851 for his belief in these sacred ideals. His mother had a deep faith in the grace of God and the entire family would attend mass regularly. Already known by the priests in his school to have a superior intelligence they had foreseen for him a life in the Church.

On October 22, 1878 this all changed. His father and mother were on their way to church to assist in the Mass and were traversing the train tracks in the station where Jacques was the postmaster. Just as they were crossing the tracks they were both hit by a goods wagon that had been stationary a moment before. Jacques pushed his wife away in an attempt to protect her and the last thing he heard before he was hit was her anguished cry. Jacques thought that this cry was made in fear for his safety but, alas, it was the final cry of Virginie as she was fatally injured by the moving train car. Jacques, himself, lost his arm but his thoughts were always for his wife as he tried in vain to save her.

The teen aged Henri never forgave God for the accident that took away his beloved mother from him and from then on lived in complete denial of the validity of religion and of God. While the rest of the family kept their faith he spent the rest of his life writing about man’s place alone in the universe and of having no need for religion."
Thanks, Frank, for your entry and for sharing a momentous and tragic story you uncovered while researching your family history.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Family History Expo - still time to enter for free tickets

Well, this year's entries have been quite slow so anyone who enters before tomorrow has a great chance to win free tickets...a $75 value!
Learn about your ancestors, learn how to conduct research and meet people who share your passion.
I am particularly looking forward to the Friday night event. Transformational Speaker and Best selling author M. Bridget Cook will give the keynote presentation, "Handling and Healing the Skeletons in Your Genealogical Closet."
Who doesn't have stories or events which someone in your family thinks is better left unsaid? I can think of four without batting my eyes twice. How do you balance telling the truth about your family history with the emotions and repercussions of those still alive? It's a tricky balance to say the least.
I look forward to the Friday night event and learning more about Cook's recommendations. Hope you can join us!