Thursday, October 7, 2010


I'm back in school!  I'm getting a certificate in Library Science and Technical Services and after that I'll feel ready to apply to graduate school to get a Master's in Library Science.  So, I'm going to focus on this semester right now and will start blogging again when I have more time.  Stay tuned!

Friday, May 28, 2010

FREE Friday: Edelweiss sheet music

So, speaking of Edelweiss, here is a link to download a free PDF version of sheet music for the flute for Edelweiss.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Edelweiss Flowers

I happen to really enjoy flowers.  They're gorgeous and each so unique.  It's easy to love them.  So, I wanted to learn about the unofficial national flower of Switzerland-Edelweiss.

First of all, you've probably heard the song "Edelweiss" from The Sound of Music.  My family loves this song and my grandpa, whose family came from Switzerland, could whistle this and play it on the harmonica beautifully.  I sure loved hearing it and thankfully, he recorded himself playing it before he died, so all of his children and grandchildren can still hear him play it.  (Great family history project, by the way).  So, I think of my grandpa when I think about Edelweiss.

Anyway, Edel means Noble and weiss means White.  The flower is white with fuzzy petals and a yellow center.  It belongs to the sunflower family.  Here is a picture of what it looks like.

Edelweiss grows high up in the mountains and if you read about it in encyclopedias, you'll learn that it grows best in limestone at an altitude of 2000-2900 m.  While doing some research about this flower, I learned that because it grows at such a height, men would climb mountains to pick this flower for the woman they loved.  It was a dangerous feat and showed how much they loved the woman. *sigh*  I can't help being a hopeless romantic sometimes.  :)  On a side note, don't pick this flower if you're over in Europe-it is a protected flower and it's illegal to pick.  Good thing I learned that during the first few days of my internship trip in Switzerland because before going over there I thought it would be awesome to pick some to bring home.  That could have been awkward.  

Read more about edelweiss here and here.  

I'm also wondering if I might be able to plant these?  Hmmm....I think I may have to try that out and post about my experience, but if you're interested now, I found a pretty good link about growing Edelweiss right here.

Now what are the flora and fauna that grew in your ancestors' home towns?

Friday, May 21, 2010

FREE Friday: Free Books!

I am a reader!  I always have been.  I love getting sucked into a good book.  Now that I have three kids, let me tell you, the days of being in a book trance all day are gone and I mourn those days.  But then I remember that I get to enjoy reading great books to my sweet children.  And perhaps I'll pass along my love of reading.  I think I already have to my oldest daughter.  Here she is!

Believe it or not, this is not a staged photo and she's about one year old in this picture.  At least once every day I'll be doing my daily chores and cleaning of the house only to realize..."It's awfully quiet.  Where did my Sweetie Pie go?"  Many times I find a mess, but many other times I also find her by the bookshelf immersed in a good book.  It makes my heart sing!

So this is my connection to genealogy.  We share traits of our ancestors and it's fun to know with whom we share those traits.  My mother loves to read, my dad's father loved to read, and I need to ask my parents and my last living grandmother if they know of any of our ancestors who also loved to read.  It helps build a connection to those names in our family trees when we know a little bit about them and even more when we can find something we share with them.  And I love sharing a good book-even more when it's free.  And here are some ways to get some free books.

1.  Banes and Noble's Summer Reading Program.  When your school-age children (grades 1-6) read a book, record it in the downloadable passport.  When they've read 8 books, take the filled-out passport to a Barnes and Noble bookstore and choose a free book!

2. Check your local library for summer reading programs.  Most have them and most give away a book when you complete the program.

3. Enter On the Lap's blog giveaway for 4 books here.  

I challenge you to find a trait you share with your children and enjoy those traits together!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Wow!  My very first blogging award!  The Versatile Blogger Award!  I am so excited.  Thank you Santa's Gift Shoppe and Ideas for honoring me with this award.  I'm excited to pass this on to other blogs who inspire me.  There are some rules for this award and here they are.

1) Thank the person who gave you the award
2) Tell 7 things about yourself (in your blog)
3) Pass the award along to 10 other blogs who
you have recently discovered & you think are
4) Contact the bloggers you've picked & let
them know about the award.

So here are 7 things about myself.

  • I love mountains.  They are inspiring and yes, majestic.  I feel such strength inside myself when I look at them and breathe the mountain air very deeply.  Try it sometime-it's awesome!
  • My favorite flowers are lilacs.  I love every thing about them.  The soft lavender color, the lush clumps of tiny blossoms, and the intoxicating smell.  Beautiful!
  • I am a mother to three children.  My heart feels like bursting when I think of those sweet children counting on me.  The responsibility is terrifying and the joy is unmeasurable.
  • One goal of mine is to get a Master's degree in Library Science.  I'm a nerd-I really, really like school!  :)
  • I resist the era of the cell phone.  I have one for emergencies, but I refuse to let myself be available at any second.  
  • I don't mind deep cleaning my house.  Honestly, I don't!  In fact, I almost like it.  However, I dread deep cleaning it when I know my little three year old tornado will have something else for me to clean up once I get something finished and in order.  It's never-ending.  
  • I come from a large family and we are all close and we love each other.  It seems like that is something rare in this day and age.  I am so thankful to have had such a wonderful family and great parents.
Okay, now it's time to pass along this award.  And it goes to 
  1. Good, Clean Food -
  2. Sugar Bee Craft Edition -
  3. Anne Strawberry -
  4. Penny Pinchin' Mom -
  5. Take a Mom's Word for It -
  6. Genealogy Gems News -
  7. Make It and Love It -
  8. Genealogy Geek -
  9. Dainty Couture -
  10. On the Lap -

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Twee Poppets Review and Giveaway Blog

I'm sharing my blog with others and today is Twee Poppets Review and Giveaway Blog.  Check them out!  And have fun seeing all the other blogs on their Tuesday Tag-Along posts!

Tuesday Tag-Along

Friday, May 14, 2010

FREE Friday: Free online lessons to get you started

I have so many people say to me, "I just don't know where to start."  And they are frustrated and rightfully so.  There are just so many things you can do with genealogy, so many records to decide to search in, so many websites to look can be very overwhelming.  So, if you're feeling like that, I hope to alleviate some of your stress.

Brigham Young University is the only school to offer a bachelor's degree in genealogy and as such, it has quite a large inventory of classes.  If you are near BYU and want to get your degree in Family History, I highly suggest you do!  :)  But wait a minute, college is expensive, so how does this work out as a FREE Friday post?  Well, the very fist Family History class, Introduction to Family History, has a set of six online lessons you can access absolutely free!  Just go to and you you have instant learning!  They're designed to help you logically and step-by-step, with specific assignments to help reinforce what you have learned.  They're also designed to be done in about an hour.  Nice, huh?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cyndi's List

Don't you wish there were an index to all the genealogical sites on the Internet?  There are so many sites.  In fact, it is estimated that genealogy is the second most popular topic online, coming in behind one topic that I will refrain from discussing...So, wouldn't it be nice to have an index to all those genealogical websites?  Well, there is!  It's Cyndi's List.  Got check out and you'll see an index to genealogical websites.  Cyndi updates her list almost daily and now has 270,000+ links for family history.  Wonderful!

Take it from Me's Welcome Wednesday

I found this really fun blog from my Sister-in-Law's blog.  It's called Take it From Me and it's great because it features all types of blogs.  I love that I can find all different kinds of topics to read about in just one place.  So, I put up my blog link on their Welcome Wednesday post this week.  Fun, fun!

Friday, May 7, 2010

FREE Friday-Free Downloadable book!

Well, I just got this in my email today and had to share!  I hope the link works for you and you'll want to get it fast because it's likely to expire soon since it's a Mother's Day promotion.  You can get a free book download for Getting Started in Genealogy Online By William Dollarhide.  Here is the description of the book. 

"If your mom ever wanted to trace her family tree online, this book will help her do it. The object of the book is to reduce the process of genealogical research to its most basic elements, enabling the raw beginner to be brought up to speed in no more time than it takes him to read a handful of pages. At the same time, it is a handy resource for the more experienced genealogist, providing in one convenient place the names and web addresses of all essential record repositories. In a world running on information overload, it's a relief to find all the right stuff in just a handful of pages!"

Here's the link! 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Family and Food

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  In honor of the holiday, I am making red enchiladas-the same recipe my mom made, which is the same one her mom made.  And those enchiladas were served to hundreds of people throughout California when my mom's family was assigned to help members of their church raise funds to build church buildings.  I love to remember my mother and grandmother when I cook these enchiladas.

It seems that so many times I am reminded of particular family members when it comes to food.  I think of my small, sweet paternal grandmother whenever I think of rhubarb or banana cream pie.  My great-grandma whom I was named after was known for her pies, so every time I roll out a pie crust, I imagine her being right beside me helping me perfect the craft.  My mom makes chocolates every Christmas and I think of her when I eat any kind of chocolate.  My dad loves caramel and toffee and when I make my Christmas caramels, I imagine him chuckling and smiling.  And some foods just don't quite taste right if they're not made the way my mom made them; like her paprika chicken or the above-mentioned tacos or enchiladas.

Well, when I took a cooking class for fun in college, I was delighted to be assigned to assemble a "Family Cookbook" for my Final.  I got to fill it full of all those treasured family recipes.  So how do you make a Family Cookbook?

Choose specific categories of food and then gather recipes for each category.  Then type up the recipes, print out the pages, put them in page protectors, and then put them in a binder so you can add recipes as you remember them.  I suggest starting small, just 2-3 recipes/ category and 5-6 categories to begin with.  If you start small, you will soon have your cookbook started and it doesn't seem like such a huge task.  Then, you just add pages as you can.  Here are some examples of categories:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Pasta, Grains, and Legumes
  • Soups, Sauces, and Salad Dressings
  • Eggs and Dairy
  • Poultry 
  • Seafood
  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Lam and Veal
  • Quick Breads
  • Yeast Breads
  • Pies and Pastries
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Candies and Confections
Have fun with this carrying on of family traditions and here is the recipe for my grandmother's famous enchiladas!

Red Enchiladas

1 lb cooked, chopped chicken or pork
2 c grated cheese-divided
1 chopped onion-divided
corn tortillas (about 12)
oil for frying
3 c meat stock
1 small can tomato sauce
1/2 c flour
2-4 T chili powder
1/4 t onion powder
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t cumin
1/8 t cilantro leaves
1/4 t each salt and pepper

Enchilada Filling: Mix meat, 1/2 c. onion, and 1 1/2 c. cheese.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Enchilada Tortillas: Fry corn tortillas in a shallow frying pan just until cooked, but still soft (approx. 10 seconds on each side).  Set aside.

Enchilada Sauce: Sauté onions.  In saucepan, mix meat stock, tomato sauce, and sautéed onion.  Bring to boil.  In a small jar, add cold water to flour, put lid on tightly and shake until the water and flour are completely mixed.  Whisk flour/water mixture into sauce.  Boil to thicken.  While thickening, add spices.  Change spice amount to taste.

To assemble and cook enchiladas: Mix 1/4 - 1/2 c. room temperature sauce into meat mixture.  Save some sauce for serving at the table.  Dip both sides of the tortilla in the sauce.  Put a spoonful of meat mixture into tortilla.  Roll tortilla.  Place rolled tortilla in 8x8 pan.  Roll tortillas until meat mixture is gone.  Cover rolled tortillas with some sauce and the rest of the cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese on top is melted.  Serve with lettuce, tomato, and sour cream.

Friday, April 30, 2010

FREE Friday: Free shipping from Family Tree

Just in from the Family Tree email newsletter!

FREE USPS shipping on ANY order size
of Family Tree product with offer code MAYFS10 at checkout.
Expires 5/5/2010, some exclusions apply

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Anyone interested in genealogy knows that finding the journal of an ancestor is an absolute treasure.  So, wouldn't it be great if we kept our own journals for our descendants?  I faithfully kept journals all through my tween, teen, and early married years, but since having children, I have stopped.  I feel so sad about this as these are the years my children will be most interested in reading.  But as all moms know, time just seems to slip through your fingers and there is not enough time to do everything wanted.  So, when I found out about, I was very happy.  I now have a quick, easy way to record my life in journal-format, even if it's just one sentence or two for a day.  It's much easier to type an entry into this journal than to go upstairs, dig my journal out of my hope chest, and hand-write an entry.  Best of all, it's free for anyone to use.  Just set up your account and you're good to go.  Here are some of the features:

  • You can just keep your journal private or you can share it with others.  
  • Include a "smiley" in the title of your entry to share your mood during that time.
  • Record entries from home or from your cell.
  • Get automated reminders to write in your journal.
  • Include pictures and footnotes.
  • Print it out or pay to have it printed and bound into a book.
Check out and get to recording your life!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Finding Gravestones

I was asked last week about how to find gravestones.  There are a few ways to do this.

First of all, you can go visit the cemetery yourself and visit the gravestone in person.  This is the funnest option, in my opinion!  But unless you have to, do not go and just wander the cemetery, unless of course, you want to.  :)  It may take a lot longer than you want it to if you just show up and start searching.  So, what do you do?  You contact the one person who can tell you exactly where the grave you're looking for is located.  That person is called a sexton.  If your particular cemetery is still "active," then it will have a sexton taking care of the cemetery.  The sexton knows the cemetery so well that most can point out by memory any particular grave you want.  But if they do not know, then they can also consult their map of the cemetery.

As I was writing this post, I realized I did not know how to find a sexton.  After doing some research online, I found out that one of the two best ways to contact your particular sexton is to search on the city's government website for "cemetery."  Most often, you will find a way to contact the cemetery sexton by phone.  For example, I searched on Mesa, Arizona's site and found this.  And you can also search online for (City), (State) cemetery.  I did that for Pittsburg, Kansas and found a link to the cemetery's website here.

Now that leads me to your second way to find gravestones, checking to see if it's been mapped, photographed, and published online, like Utah cemeteries or Arizona cemeteries.  Do an online search for (State) cemetery records.  Look for a website with a .gov or a .org ending and you're more likely to find an official, valid website.

Third, if your cemetery is not active or abandoned and there is no sexton or government site, then, good luck!  No, just kidding.  Look online again.  There are a few websites put together by, surprise!, volunteers (like my friend Trish), who go out of their way to photograph and transcribe gravestones.  Three of these websites are The United States Cemetery Project,'s Virtual Cemetery, and Find a Grave.  And you can also use lookups, as discussed in one of my previous posts.

Now if you aren't able to find your gravestone online and you go to visit the cemetery in person, then get your information and perhaps share that information and perhaps information for some other gravestones in that cemetery with one of these volunteer sites.  As I mentioned before, genealogy is all about sharing!  Now go out and have some fun finding your ancestors' gravestones!

Friday, April 16, 2010

FREE Friday: Vintage-ifying Photos

Yes, I just made up a word and it means exactly what I want it to mean.  :)  

Anyway, I just love the look of old things.  Maybe it's genetic.  I don't know.  But my mother has loved all things antique for as long as I can remember and our home was decorated in antiques, as are my two older sisters' homes and I try my best for my home, but as we're still in what I consider our "just out of college" days, our furniture and home decorative purchases are few and far between.  So when my friend, Anne, showed me this website, I was instantly ecstatic!  What a simple, free, and easy way to get vintage/antique looking photos of my own family without having to spend the money or needing the skill of using an expensive photo-editing software.

My mind is whirling trying to figure out the very best ideas for using these photos-how to decorate my kids rooms, make a glass tile necklace (like my sister-in-law, Mandy's), or modge-podging a bunch to a wood board for the kitchen, or....okay you get the idea.  Here are some more of my favorites.  

Now go ahead and have fun making your own (side note-you'll need to find the translate into "English" button on the site).

And for all the genealogically minded (myself included) who are nervous about having someone mistake these for actual old pictures, make sure to label each picture with a name and date with a pencil or another acid-free writing utensil.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Some Basics

I've been MIA for a couple of weeks.  Sorry about that.  :)  Now I'm back and ready to blog.  Today's post is going to be quick and simple.  I've had a couple of my readers request some basic information for beginners.  So, here you go!

Locations - How do you format place names when doing genealogical research?  What to include?  Abbreviations?  Now you'll know.  Do not abbreviate, name each jurisdiction, and separate with commas.  So you get this Town, County, State, Country.  United States example: St. David, Cochise, Arizona, United States.  Other countries may have different jurisdictions that do not equate exactly like the United States.  When that happens, start at the smallest jurisdiction and work your way up.  Example: Frutigen, Bern, Switzerland.

Dates - Which format?  Day Month Year, no commas.  Example 25 December 2010

Why not use your own formatting or abbreviations?  Because someday a family member is going to ask you to give them all the information on the family you have and they will not be able to understand your method.  It's easier for you and for all those out there benefiting from the wonderful work you've done.  Now,  Happy Researching!

P.S. If you have a particular topic you're interested in or have a question, please feel free to leave me a note in the comments and I'd be happy to answer it for you.  :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Visiting the Bern State Archives

For my internship for my Family History degree, I researched 5 Swiss generations.  I spent a summer researching in the Salt Lake Family History Library and then spent two weeks in Switzerland.  For one week, I did research in the Bern State Archive and for the other week, I researched in the small church archive in Frutigen.  Here are some things I learned from that experience.

(1) Sometimes you must have a reservation.  If you don't know if the archive you want to visit requires it, call ahead and make one.  Do not assume they will just let you in.  When I visited the State Archives, I made reservations about 2 months ahead of time and made them for an entire week.  It's changed a bit.  Now genealogists may only come 3 days a year and only on Fridays.  Tough.  I made reservations to research in the Frutigen church and for the two weeks before I was to leave, I could not get in touch with the caretaker just to confirm.  I was so scared I wouldn't be able to research.  And I might not have been able to; she went on vacation!  But her daughter was there and she let me in.  It pays to be friendly to the locals who can help you out.  They gave me the daughter's address and phone number.
(2) There may be a dress code.  I was told I could not wear jeans in Bern, but after a couple of days seeing everyone else in jeans, I asked about it and they said I could wear them.
(3) You may need to fill out a form with a description of your research or why you want to look at their holdings.
(4) Some may require that you absolutely do not have a pen with you.
(5) When I was in the Frutigen archives, the caretaker of the archive had to be there the entire time, the door had to be open, I could not take in a pen, and I could not take pictures inside the archive.
(6) And to those who may not know-do not write in the old books!!!  I was heartsick looking at the modern-day pen underlinings and the circles in the books, the only books available for Frutigen parish records, the ones they stubbornly refuse to have microfilmed.  Once they're gone, they're gone!
(7) You may not get to copy anything.  I could in Bern, but obviously could not in Frutigen.
(8) And last but not least, use your time wisely and enjoy the opportunity!

The door to the Frutigen archive.  A tiny little hole in the wall-literally.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FREE Friday: Genealogy Gems

Genealogy Gems-just what you think it is-little jewels of genealogical news.  Genealogical Gems is a news podcast on I-Tunes and is completely free!  The broadcaster is Lisa Louise Cooke and she gives tips and trade secrets to help you do your own research.  She also interviews genealogical greats and celebrities!  Check out her blog here.  Now, go get listening!  I'm going to have to figure out how to listen to these while I'm exercising; that should make it much more enjoyable.  :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Citing Sources

As a genealogist, you come to learn that the evidence you find to prove a relationship will not always be a nice, simple document that is, quite frankly, pretty simple to cite.  You may end up needing to cite something like this:

To what am I referring?  This beautiful family quilt.  Embroidered on one side is a remark that this quilt is a 3-generation quilt with hand-made blocks pieced by my husband's great-grandmother, blocks sewn together by his grandmother, and sewn all together by my his mother.  What a treasure!  Not just because it's a beautiful family heirloom, but because it is a piece of evidence linking three generations!  Suddenly those easy-to-follow citation instructions with author, publisher, publication date, etc. don't seem so applicable.

Enter Elizabeth Shown Mills, the woman responsible for creating the current genealogical citation standards.  The citation world of the genealogist was made easier with her first book, Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian and continues with the current Evidence Explained:Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.  I have never tried to cite this before, so I'm going to pull out my handy citation book and see what I can do.

Last Name, Christine. Quilt. ca. 2007. Privately held by Meg Last Name, [address,] Town, State. 2010.

Wow, that's it!  I found out how to cite this really quickly.  It's from page 105, Quick Check Model PRIVATE HOLDINGS: ARTIFACT.

Friday, March 12, 2010

FREE Friday: 20 page photo book

To me, genealogy is so much more than looking for information about ancestors.  It's also creating information about yourself for your descendants.  One great way to do this is to create a photo book and here's how you can get one for free!  If you're new to to the photo service called Picaboo, then you can create an account and get a 20-page photo book for free.  Type in the code AFFLGB and you're good to go!  But don't procrastinate because the code will expire on 31 March 2010.  I'm heading there now to create a baby book for my son.  :)

*Thanks to Kansas City Penny Pinchin' Mama for giving this information.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gen Web

Another very basic site you should know about happens to be Gen Web and it's actually two websites.  They are and  This is a project set up by, once again, volunteers! There are people all over the world willing to sponsor a specific area's website and update it with all sorts of information about doing research in that area.  You can find links to how-to websites, or information on how to order a birth certificate, or information on boundary changes in the area.  Most also have a "Lookup" section, too (remember, "lookups" are people willing to look things up for you as in Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness :)  ).  So, I decided to look at Switzerland's site again.  I haven't been on there for a while.

Here's the first thing you see at the World Gen Web project site.  Select your continent:
Then, you select the geographical location you want:


Then here you have it!

Now, each area's site will look different and contain different types of information because these sites are all sponsored by different people.  Looking at the Swiss site, I found some fun things.  I found information about Switzerland's history, Swiss festivals, links to different cantons (kindof like counties in the US), and lists of Swiss libraries and archives, and so much more!  I even found out that there are some records in Switzerland dating all the way back to the 13th Century!  Wouldn't that be exciting to trace my line all the back to then?  What a dream!

Now go learn something new about your area of research!

Friday, March 5, 2010

FREE Fridays

Fridays are days for fun and what could be more fun than finding something for FREE?  I think that's fun.  :)  So, I'm going to post free genealogical findings for you on Fridays. 

 Today is Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness.  I happen to just love the name of this site.  I smile every time I say it.  The website is  Now those of you who have ever hired a genealogist know that it can be pretty expensive, especially if you have to pay your genealogist to travel because the records you need are not held in any repository other than some tiny, out-of-the-way library or courthouse that just so happens to think dial-up internet is scary.  This is reality.  

Well, I happen to think almost all people interested in genealogy are kind-hearted people who love to help others out.  And this site shows that.  There are people out there, professional genealogists and hobbyists, who are willing to look up information for you for free!  Wouldn't it be nice to get an email containing something like this Arizona tombstone if you lived all the way in Texas?  (My great-grandmother's tombstone).

 They may have access to birth records or town records or they may just be willing to go visit the old family homestead or cemetery and take a picture for you.  Some may ask for you to pay printing or mailing costs if you are requesting a document, but that's nothing compared to having to travel there yourself.  And if you have the desire to help others out, you can volunteer too!  

Now after you have fun with that site, remember to watch the very first show of a new series all about genealogy.  It's Who Do You Think You Are, by and NBC.  It's on at 8/7 pm central time.  So for us out here in AZ, that's channel 12 at 7 pm.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What Language?

When researching in Switzerland, get ready to find documents in different languages.  How many languages?  Four.  :)  German, French, Italian, and Romansch, listed in order of occurrence.  Don't let it scare you, though.  Most records you will be reading use certain terms over and over again, such as parents, children, born, married, died, christened, etc. and you can find genealogical research guides that help you with these terms, so after you figure out one particular entry in a source, you'll be able to read the other entries.  And you'll feel pretty intelligent saying you can read a little bit of German, French, Italian, and Romansch!  *wink*

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Research Guidance

Don't you wish you could have 24/7 access to a professional genealogist?  Wouldn't it be nice to get professional help when you're starting to research in an area you have never been before?  Well, you can!  The professional genius of the Salt Lake City Family History Library workers have put together research helps and put them online for FREE!  It's called Research Guidance.  If you go to, then click on "Research Helps," then click on "Research Guidance," you have instant access to step-by-step guides.  Unfortunately, there is not one for Switzerland, but there are guides for soooooo many areas.  Go check it out!

Friday, February 19, 2010


With Valentine’s Day this past week, I wanted to find out what the people in Switzerland did to celebrate Valentine’s Day and if they had any special traditions.  Eh, not so much.  If they celebrate, they do like we do here in America; send flowers, candy (especially chocolate! Oh, yum, Swiss chocolate is one of my slices of heaven), and spend time with the one they love.  I found some beautiful floral arrangements from a Swiss floral shop called Blumen Kaspar.

And I found out that there is a Swiss chocolate confectionery called Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland.  My ancestors were Teuschers!  Seems pretty appropriate for my family of chocolate lovers.  Look at this gorgeousness!

Anyway, the Swiss people have only recently started celebrating Valentine’s Day, so it is most unlikely our ancestors celebrated it.  However, there is another celebration that happens this time of year that they do celebrate and have been since the Middle Ages.

It is Fasnacht and is mainly celebrated in the town of Basel.  As I understand it, it’s one big, rockin’ party!  Think Mardi Gras.  “Fasnacht is the last wild splurge before Lent, the ancient Christian period of fasting, self reflection, penance, and abstinence from meat beginning on Ash Wednesday and lasting 40 days until Easter. Corresponding to Mardi Gras, Carnival, and similar celebrations...” (The West Virginia Encyclopedia).  They dress up, carry lights through the middle of the street, dance, and sing all night long.  I also learned about a treat they make for this holiday and thought I’d give it a try.  They are Fasnachtsküchlein (Fasnacht, Kuchen=cake, klein=little, Fasnacht little cakes).  Here is the link to the recipe.  I changed it a tiny bit.  I had to convert the flour from grams to cups and I added some whole wheat flour to make them more “healthy.”  And as I’m not skilled at making rosettes in frying oil, I cut circles out of the dough, made the rosettes, and then fried them.


1 ¼ c. white flour
½ c. whole wheat flour
1 t. salt
2 eggs
3 T cream
Coconut fat or deep-frying oil
Confectioner’s sugar

Mix flour and salt.  Beat eggs.  Add eggs and cream to flour.  Knead until dough is soft and even.  Rinse a bowl with hot water, cover the dough with the bowl and leave it alone for about 30 min.  Roll out dough as thin as you can get it.  Cut out large circles.  Form into rosettes and fry both sides until yellow.  Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

They sure looked pretty!

My response?  Good, but as I’ve been hopelessly Americanized when it comes to sugar, they weren’t nearly sweet enough.  Oh, well.  My husband, children, and little neighbor boy loved them.  I think I’ll go buy myself some Lindt truffles and call it good.  Guten Fasnacht!  J  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What to do with what you have

Now that you know how to use a Research Log, it’s time to start researching.  Where to go?  What to do?  I suggest you start with yourself.  Get a box or a file folder and gather all the important documents that pertain to your life.  Then use some sort of genealogical software to compile and store your information on the computer.  I won’t discuss which software is best in this post because 1) All have pros and cons and 2) I haven’t decided myself, yet!  I’m in the weeding process right now.  I’ve used Personal Ancestral File for a long time, but it will no longer be updated, therefore I’ve got to choose another one.  If you want to try some out before you buy, you can get some FREE trial versions.  Here are a few.

Now your assignment is to gather your important documents, start looking into what software you like, and then entering information for yourself in some of the software.  This will help you choose which you like best.  Different versions will appeal differently to different people (did I type “different” enough?).   

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Now What Did I Just Do?

Do you ever have that question in your head when you're doing genealogical research?  Do you find yourself questioning which books you've looked at or in what library you found that crucial document?  Please don't do this to yourself any more!  (Yes, I've done this myself many times; I have since learned better). That brings me to our topic for the week.


One of the most important things about doing effective genealogical research is keeping a detailed research log.  When I began genealogical research, I thought research logs were a PAIN.  I did not want to take the time to keep a log as well as spend hours researching.  A couple of research projects cured me of that mindset.  Going back to do research over again because I can’t remember what I did in the first place is a much bigger pain.  I love my research logs now!  In fact, give me a thorough research log over a jelly doughnut any day!  (Well, maybe not any day.  I do love my desserts *wink*).

Okay, you get the idea.  So what goes into a good research log?  You’ve got to have:

1) the date of your research
2) the repository of your research.  (If you’re new to genealogy, repository is just a fancy word for where the records are stored (your home, library, family history center, etc.)
3) the record searched (save yourself time and use the correct citation format now, see Evidence Explained by Mills).  I’ll be talking about this MUCH more.
4) What pages you searched
5) The reason for the search
6) the findings, even the negative “I found NOTHING!” findings. 
7) the document number-make a copy of any important finding and write a document number on it so it’s easy to find later.
8) the time spent on research if you are billing a client or researching for certification or accreditation.

Here is a sample of one of my own.  Feel free to use it's design or make your own, personalizing it to your style.

So, my challenge for you today is to do a search in one record using your oh-so-handy Research Log.  Have fun!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Welcome to Swiss Kin! Here you will find anything related to basic genealogy and Swiss genealogy. My weekly posts will range from genealogical techniques for Switzerland to photographs to Swiss food recipes. I’m excited to get started.

First, let me introduce myself. I’m Meg, named after my Swiss great-grandmother whom I’ve never met in this life. I’ve felt a strong connection to her throughout my life and when I started getting interested in doing genealogical research, it was to her family I gravitated. I’ve gained experience and a love for her and for Switzerland as I’ve researched.

I’ve always loved a good mystery or an exciting treasure hunt. I naturally enjoyed anything having to do with history, archaeology, searching, questioning, or finding!

Think of my joy as a 7 year old as I dug up an old nail out of the hard Idaho dirt with only a stick as an archaeological tool. Or imagine how much I loved driving past two old, abandoned pioneer log homes every day riding to elementary school on the bus. Every day I strained my eyes trying to look as deep into the windows as I could during those few 3-5 seconds allowed to me by the speeding bus. And when my family moved to Kansas, I reveled in the creaky old floor boards of our town's historical Carnegie-donated library. And when we traveled to Georgia one year, all I wanted to do was find an old plantation to walk around. It just so happened that the one we found was not one of the regular museum type ones. It was not yet fully restored and it had an active archaeological dig happening at the time and we got to hear about and see some of their findings. The drizzly, misty day was the perfect setting for feasting my eyes on the ancient family cemetery full of moss covered headstones. Oh, how I loved it. If you love genealogy, you’re not thinking I’m nuts.

I went to Brigham Young University for college. This is the only school offering a Bachelor’s degree in Family History-Genealogy. At the time, I had declared Family History-Genealogy as my major, but was also interested in Archaeology. One semester I took a beginning class in Archaeology and one in Genealogy. Either I was meant to study Genealogy or my very old, white-haired, boring, monotone-voiced, tough-grading Archaeology professor is to blame for changing the course of my life! The next semester, I took the Family and Law in American History class and as I rolled the microfilm in the dark of the library trying to read the beautiful script of the census taker and searching for members of my family I had never known, I found my “calling.”

I will not say I enjoyed every minute of school. I mean, school is tough! But I did really, really like it. I chose to focus my degree in Germanic research. For my internship, I focused on looking for four Swiss generations. I spent the first of the summer looking for what I could at the Family History Library and then went to Switzerland for two weeks to search in the old, un-microfilmed church records of Frutigen, Switzerland. I graduated in 2003.

While in school and for one year afterward, I worked for the Center for Family History and Genealogy at BYU as a teachers’ assistant, computer lab assistant, and office assistant. I taught family history lessons to the Beginning Family History students, kept those lessons updated, edited one of the Center’s genealogical publications, went to genealogical conferences representing the Center, and helped organize BYU genealogical conferences. It was a great job. After school, I also did private genealogical research for clients until my first child was born.

I’ve since been taking care of and loving my three children and dabbling in genealogy here and there. Now I feel like it’s time to get back into genealogy on a more dedicated level, so here I am! Thank you for reading and ENJOY!!!