If you’re just starting out on your genealogy journey, it can be really exciting, but also really overwhelming–especially when no other family member has laid the ground work for you. I was lucky enough to have family members that had a small amount of research for me to use to start my trees, but I still find it overwhelming some days. This doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the process! I love “finishing” a generation or a branch and moving on to the next step. Even more, I love discovering what’s in my tree–even if it’s a far removed relative, that’s still my family history!

With that being said, I thought I’d share some tips and research I’ve discovered over the last couple of months. This may be a couple of blog posts, this might end up being several, but I wanted to kick it off with a few tips:

*GET STARTED. Pick a popular website to share and search on. Whether it’s ancestry.com (my choice) or another site, the bigger the platform, the more likely you are to connect with others in your tree doing the same research.

*BREAK IT DOWN. Decide how you’re going to break down your research. Are you doing one giant tree for your whole family? Are you breaking it down by parent, grand parent or great grandparent? I’ve chosen to break it down by grandparent. Each Grand Parent on my tree has their own individual tree on Ancestry.com. This has allowed me to share the trees with various sides of my family a lot easier because trust me — my dad’s side of the family isn’t interested in my mom’s ancestors, and I’ve connected with a grandmother’s cousin on her mom’s side who isn’t interested with my grandmother’s father’s side! It also keeps things a bit more manageable for me when I’m searching for someone, too — similar and same names WILL pop up, not just in the same tree.

*START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW. Fill out the tree(s) to the best of your ability. Start with yourself, your parents, your grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc–fill out all the information you have, regardless of how you break it down. There are some things you are experiencing right now that are just FACT to you. That is the best place to start filling out your tree.

*WORK BACKWARDS FROM WHAT YOU KNOW. Search for what you know and then work backwards by searching census records for family you know, like your grandparents in the 1940s (the 1950s census will be the next publically released). If you know your grandparents and their siblings, you can confirm them on the census and add any unknown siblings and their parents from that census. Next, you search for your great grandparents in records, and see if you can track their siblings and parents.

*BRANCH OUT AFTER FINDING YOUR DIRECT ANCESTORS. You do what works easiest for you, but I found it easiest for me to add what I knew to the tree, work backwards to find my direct ancestors, then I worked on “fluffing out the tree” by adding in distant relatives. You may not want to add anyone but direct ancestors to your tree at first, but if you take a DNA test that suggests cousins, the more distant relatives you have on your tree, the easier it will be to identify how you’re related and through what branch.

*KEEP COPIES. Before you start, what is your goal with your information? Do you want to create family binders to keep in your living room or just download the information to your computer? Either way, you want to keep copies of everything you find — I’m downloading everything to my computer, printing out some of it into a binder (mostly for note tracking), as well as creating a book I’ll order from Shutterfly once I’m “done.”

*ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING ELSE WITH THE INFORMATION? I decided I am going to make a book of my family history–at least one for each grandparent’s history. To me, the number of pages in each book does not matter. But I made the decision before I went into the tree making because I wanted to be able to work on it as I worked on my trees. I have several trees going and a lot of information to keep track of.

–Do not link to family trees just because it looks like someone else did the research for you, even if you know the person that did the research. This can lead to an endless loop of trees linking to trees with no confirmation of where the information came from. More than one eye on the same information can lead to different conclusions.
–Don’t ASSUME. I have a family tree that when I initially searched, it looks like they could be traced back to England to the 1600’s. Wow! Upon further investigation, the family tree can be confirmed with sources to an ancestor born in 1801. A lot of people are assuming his lineage because of his name  — when really, that could be his uncle, a cousin, or a totally unrelated individual with the same name. It’s not proven.
–At the same time, don’t grab the first document you see because your great great grandpa John Phillips was in South Carolina–it might be another John Phillips. You really have to analyze where the family was, the migration route, and who was include in census data.

*SEARCH EVERYTHING. Do searches outside of the platform you are using. Utilize every site you can get your hands on – be it Google, Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, and other research websites. I’ll be putting a list together of what I have used and will add to it as I go along.
–On another family branch, researching outside of my starting point (which was Ancestry.com) helped me discover a website made for people with the last name I was researching. They were taking DNA tests and comparing them to find out which family groups each belonged to — and this research helped confirm how far back my lineage on that branch was proven. This group was so committed to discovering their ancestors they were able to prove where the lineage started in the US, confirm that parents could not be traced any further, and prove a DNA link to a brother that created a whole other family branch in the 1700’s.

*SHARE WHAT YOU HAVE. If you think you don’t have much — you do. Just as you’ll soon get excited to see Great Great Aunt Bessie’s wedding photos because your family doesn’t have copies, think about how excited someone else will be to connect to YOUR branch. And not just distant direct ancestors, like your great great grandmother, either. Think about sharing information on your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your parents and your immediate family–you have control over the photos, documents and other information you share about the information you directly know. Take advantage of that and share what you have. If it wasn’t for other people sharing, you wouldn’t know anything about those other branches. It’s only right to share what you have and give that same feeling to others–and to give the correct knowledge that you know about your current family to other brances.

*SHARE IN HIGH QUALITY. Don’t take a fuzzy cell phone photo if you can help it. Many of these photos spread throughout the genealogical community quickly, and the first photo shared is the one used. Share a high quality scan or photo of the photo.

*SHARE YOUR SOURCES. Link the websites, note the books, or share the person you spoke with that you got the information from. It’s just like using a quote in a high school or college essay — share where you obtained the knowledge from so others can verify it, too, if they want (or see the named family member), just like you would want to follow someone else’s sources to verify the information before adding it to your tree.

Good luck in your research!

Since July, I have been obsessed with genealogy. I’ve always been fascinated with family history and heirlooms — part of the grieving process in losing a beloved aunt a couple years back was purchasing a Victorian mourning locket and putting a photo of her in it with a lock of her hair, thus creating a family heirloom for my mom’s side of the family.

I’m totally addicted. I eat, sleep and breathe this stuff. I’m even having dreams about it. (In addition to the show The 100, but that’s a whole other story!) I am not even going to say it’s a problem. I think it’s a great thing to have–to want to know your family history, where you came from, and how you connect to other people. Even better, to have a place to bring that all together and connect to other people doing the same thing.

I have reconnected with my grandmother’s cousin, who is one of the people who helped start this whole journey. A few years back, I asked my Mamaw (my dad’s mom) if she had any family information. She sent me information her cousin Mary had mailed her in 1988, still in the envelope. A couple of weeks ago my mom got an email from that cousin trying to find another family member–she’s 81 and wanted to pass on the genealogy information she has to the right branch. I got in touch with her from that point and we’ve been going back and forth and working on the tree–she’s working on it from her branch, and I’m working on it from the top down. I’ve got us going all the way to the 1800s in North Carolina–it’s fantastic! And it’s so exciting to have someone to share that information with that is equally addicted to the research as I am.

The best part, and worst, is I have several trees going at once. The idea is to have one tree for each of my grandparents. Man, some of those trees sure explode fast! They’ve taken hours of research and will take more, and may never be “done,” which is okay. I’m enjoying the process, and I’m getting my direct descendants solidified. Everything else I call “fluffing out the tree,” and do when I have time–or when I connect to someone who is working on their own direct descendants and I can see they’ve done their research, and we can exchange information. Other trees only have a sprinkling of people on them and will need a lot more research.

I’m slowly building a small little library of family history, too. I’ve picked up a couple of books with family in them–one is just a passenger list of immigrants–but it’s so neat to have a hard copy of what is usually digital information. And I’ve ordered death certificate copies and have a birth certificate copy coming. It’s going to take a lot of time and money and will be a process, but I’m all in, and I’m enjoying every minute.

17. July 2017 · Write a comment · Categories: review · Tags: ,

Victorian Pharmacy

It started the way all addictions do… harmlessly… innocently…

For me, it started with a four part series my mom discovered and emailed me a link to. She discovered someone uploaded an entire show on YouTube, one episode at a time. The show was called Victorian Pharmacy and there were four episodes. At this time, it is not available for purchase in the USA. Trust me–I looked. You can only currently obtain a UK import. Why is beyond me! The second this is available in the US, I want a DVD. (Yes, I still prefer DVDs and not downloads or streaming! Is anyone else like that?) There is a book, however, which is now on my wish list!

The facts:
Name: Victorian Pharmacy
Episodes: 4
Length: Approximately an hour apiece
Year: 2010 (I’ll be honest, I didn’t look this up until writing this post!)
DVD: Available on DVD in Playback Region 2 DVD (does not work on most US players)
Book: Victorian Pharmacy: Rediscovering Home Remedies and Recipes

Historian Ruth Goodman, Professor Nick Barber (If I remember correctly, he mentioned at some point he had been a doctor for 30 or so years) and Ph D student Tom Quick. I love that Ruth brings in the historical knowledge (and she is smart, too, that woman is!) but that you have two individuals with a pharmaceutical background that brings modern knowledge into the show to compare to Victorian remedies.

The four episodes follows the course of the Victorian Era, which was a fantastic way to do it–they start at the beginning of the Victorian era (1837) and work their way to the end of the era (1901). Their job is to set up a Victorian Pharmacy and offer everything a pharmacy would during that time period–from medication, to dental and photographic services, and all sorts of other odds and ends they had to make themselves to stock their shelves. As the episodes go on, different medications, inventions and techniques become available. This means the trio starts with certain things at hand and as time progresses, inventions make their jobs easier, or more difficult, depending on what is expected of them.

I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything, but for anyone who enjoys watching anything from the Victorian era, you will truly enjoy this series! The trio fully immerses themselves in the series. They dress in the fashions of the day, the shop is fully decorated in Victorian fashion, and they try their hand at many a recipe people of the day swore by back then. To keep things interesting, volunteers would come in and try these concoctions. To keep things safe, experts would come in and share their knowledge and expertise on various topics.

If you’re willing, at least give the first episode a crack and see if you like it. I think anyone who likes the Regency, Victorian or Edwardian time periods may really enjoy this show. It is one thing to read about some of these things in a novel or to see the photos in an advertisement, but it’s another thing to see people actually experience these every day things that people did to give themselves pain relief!


After discovering a couple flowers had blossomed to several, I waited for a sunny day for the flowers to open. (The flowers closed up when it was too overcast.)

I grabbed the nearest empty tin from my room and filled it with flowers–I hadn’t realized there were so many growing! I didn’t even pick them all. I didn’t pick the ones that were closed because I knew they wouldn’t work well for my plans…

This is my lovely tin that I used. I picked up for an amazing 50 cents at my favorite local thrift shop. It still has the filter pan thing inside! (I obviously don’t know what the official name for that is!)

I filled the tin with the pink and white flowers (and just a few tiny orange ones)!

I brought them into the house and (without taking any photos!) I smashed them!! No–seriously! I picked up a little Flower Press from Goodwill for around $1.29 a few weeks back. I thought I was going to be able to put some Hydrangea Blossoms in with this, but these white flowers filled the whole thing up! The flowers have been in there for over a week, and my general rule of thumb for pressing flowers and plants is to leave them for at least two, so after a week or so I’ll open it up and we’ll find out how they turned out!


I had the hope of pressing white flowers that were growing in the far back corner of the backyard. There are thorns trying to grow there, but I enjoy the little white flowers.

DSC_0041When I noticed them, there were about three, so I picked them.

DSC_0031When I looked again, they were scattered throughout the dying grass. All those white specks are these tiny pink and white flowers.

DSC_0038One even had a little visitor!






A lot of my finances stalled in March (not to mention my blogging schedule I was on!)–there were expenses I knew were coming that basically stopped any extra payments towards my debt. With that, I kinda lost my momentum at being “good” with money. I’m doing the Dave Ramsey program because I am bad with money, but it’s also taking time to re-train my brain at how to spend it. I definitely have an all-or-nothing mindset.

I did fantastic in February–I halted all extra spending and paid a bunch down on debt. When that stopped in March, so did that forward momentum. Here it is in the middle of April and I feel like I slid backwards. I did a bit too much shopping which I knew I could easily pay off if I got my act together. I know what I did wrong: I counted on getting a check in the mail that has yet to come, so I was counted my chickens before my eggs hatched. I also learned that I honestly need to budget for clothes, something I wasn’t doing before because I thought I didn’t need to–I hate clothes shopping, but with a couple of places (hello, Torrid!) I know my size so when there are good sales, I tend to go a bit cray cray. But the thing is, I want to buy clothes, so it’s better I budget for them and stay within that budget a little at a time, rather than do what I’m doing now, which is going on a big spending spree once or twice a year. I need to learn to space it out more. So I thought I had that under control–I was going to pay it off. The intentions were there. But then that dissipated.

My dog got sick. I decided that it was time to dig into my emergency fund–that’s what it’s there for. But with my all-or-nothing spending habits, it went even further in the toilet. My thinking was, “I’m already in the hole, what’s another $20?”

The one good thing I did during this period is after I got my taxes back, I put all that towards the credit card (this was before the I’m-going-pay-it-off debt and the vet bill–had I foreseen the vet bill, I would have kept the money in savings). So the credit card it went on is down significantly, and it’s a card that will be cancelled after it’s paid off, so that’s good forward momentum. It’s debt that will not be returning and can’t because the card is not being used. I know Dave Ramsey says get rid of all credit cards, but I’m just not in that place yet, but I’m working towards it. Maybe when I have more in savings I’ll be comfortable getting there, but for now, I’m not. If my dog’s vet bill had reached over $1,000, it would all be going on a card, so my emergency savings isn’t enough. Getting rid of all credit cards right now is not an option for me, it is not an immediate goal, but it is an overall goal.

Hitting the reset button: Now I need to work on making myself accountable again and getting back on track, so this is my official announcement that I’m hitting the reset button. No more unnecessary shopping, no eating out, nothing, until I reach certain goals.

My new current goals are:
*Go back to Baby Step 1 and get that $1,000 in savings again.
*Get the March/April shopping paid off–no more counting my chickens before they hatch.
*Pay off that credit card!

I have a lot of long-term goals, but I try to keep immediate goals so that I see changes, I can reach them, and I am not overwhelmed by the big picture. One of the reasons I lose control of my spending is because I get overwhelmed by the big picture and think things don’t matter because I’ll be in debt forever. I don’t feel that way when I narrow my vision and only look at the trees instead of the whole forest. So this week I am re-setting my goals, narrowing my vision, and going back on a spending freeze.

I’m kicking myself for losing control, for falling off the wagon, but I need to take a deep breath and hop right back on. I may have caused a setback, but it’s temporary in the grand scheme of things. If I can get myself back on the wagon and get control back, these kinds of set backs will be further and fewer between, and I’ll make the good habits that help me avoid them. It’s just taking time to re-train my brain and my habits.

None of my goals will be attained by the end of the month, but I will get my paperwork together, check where I’m at, and get back on track. This means having my goals laid out, keeping track again, keeping my spending in check, and making progress on those goals.

I hope you all have good goals for April and can obtain something.


Here’s a fun one! I made colorful “binder” paper. It has to be printed so it’s not a full page, but you can trim it to size or or resize it to be some fun stationery.

Binder Paper 8.5 x 11 - Small Spaced - RainbowBinder Paper 8.5 x 11 – Small Spaced – Rainbow

Binder Paper 8.5 x 11 - Large Spaced - RainbowBinder Paper 8.5 x 11 – Large Spaced – Rainbow

Here’s one I use a lot: a migraine tracker I made for my A5 planner.

This is something that runs in the family, throughout several branches for at least 3 generations, and I’ve been trying to get a handle on mine for a while now. Sometimes that means just trying to figure out what triggers them and how long they last, they’re not necessarily avoidable (hello, neurologist!). So I thought I’d make this available for any fellow sufferers who need to keep track of theirs, too

 MigraineTrackerMigraine Tracker – A5


I LOVE Brain Dumps!! I have a Traveler’s Notebook I do them in, but I love them so much I made print outs for my A5 Filofax for them so I could do them in there when I wasn’t carrying my Traveler’s Notebook. I thought I’d throw them in here because although I call them Brain Dumps, really, you could use them for any sort of lists you want to use them for.

To do, grocery shopping, craft shopping, wish lists, scrapbooking ideas, the lists go on and on!

Brain Dump Short Checklist

Brain Dump – Short Checklist – A5

Brain Dump Long ChecklistBrain Dump – Long Checklist – A5

DSC_0053I have been very busy at work, but sometimes I need a bit of journaling time to unwind.
That means I am doing it during my lunchtime when I sit in my car, so I made myself a cute little journaling kit for my car!
My sister bought me a darling little box for Christmas and I used it to hold my supplies and I keep it in my middle console.

DSC_0056There are three things I had to have in my kit:
* Tape (I threw in double sided sticky tape because some one gave it to me for free, so why not?)
* A pair of scissors
* My favorite mini tube of Elmer’s Glue (I figured if it’s going to be in the car, it better be liquid already! The heat would melt a solid glue stick, and it needs a screw on lid so it doesn’t leak)
* I carry a journal and pens in my purse so I don’t store those in my car


DSC_0054Here is my full kit I put in my car. Besides my basics, I threw in some extras:
* Some mini pens (just in case I can’t find one in my purse)
* Washi tape
* A couple of Project Life cards
* A little Rolodex card

Do you keep any journaling supplies anywhere unconventional?