Monday, January 30, 2012

Motivation Monday - January Goals Wrap-Up

Lucky for me, at the beginning of January, Stephanie at Corn and Cotton: My Family’s Story was already organized.  She had the forethought to write a great post about her desire to get willing geneabloggers to set 2012 goals, and report on a monthly basis.  I happened upon that post on a day when I was really feeling overwhelmed not just by genealogy research that was falling by the wayside, but by all the other things on my plate.  So I joined in.

My 2012 goals may seem comically light for some, but they work for me.  January goals were: decorations down, clean the house, begin to create a workspace.  So, on to what I’ve accomplished:

Continue to blog at least three times a week. 

Decorations are down and stowed in the attic until next year.

My house is clean!  From top to bottom.  Except for power-washing the outside of the house (which I never do anyway).  I've tossed a lot of stuff, and I've thrown stuff into a box labeled "Yard Sale," to be held in the spring. 

And I am still on a bit of roll.  Today I even organized a junk drawer while waiting for cookies to bake!  Can you believe it?  You have no idea what a big deal that is for me.  I struggle with that damn junk drawer every day of my life.  But would I take the time to clean it out, NOOOO!  But I did today, and isn’t it beautiful? 

You see, last week, at the library, I got hold a sweet little book called “Clutter Rehab” by Laura Wittman  Oh my, it has changed my life.  I already knew most of the tips in the book, but it refreshed those thoughts in such a great way!  Plus, I am on a new diet that gives me mega-tons of energy, so I am organizing things all over the place.  My hubby is wondering where his wife went! 

But I digress.  As for the workspace, no advances there yet.  But hubby is working on it, should be in place by end of February. 

There are also things not on the goals list that I managed to accomplish, so I’ll give myself small credit for them:

Scanned lots of photos.  I love posting these oldies on Facebook and hearing from family and friends.

Posted some photos and other info on  I’ve decided on a good way to deal with these photos: when I finish writing a Tombstone Tuesday post, I will go straight to Find a Grave and post it there as well. 

Deb Ruth has kindly volunteered to be my tech buddy.  I have not yet followed through. 

Oh, and I spent half the morning cleaning up the labels on my blog.  Consistency, consistency. 

Going online to cancel all those catalogs!

Now I've got to start thinking about February!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Family Friday Recipe - Beef in Designer Beer

That I'm even considering a blog post on my cooking skills makes me hoot with laughter.  You see, I'm one of those people who only likes to cook when I have a lot of time.  Hubby is one of those dash-of-this, dash-of-that cooks, and everything turns out fine in 20 minutes.  Not me.  I follow the recipe line by line, measure everything exactly.  I just never got the knack of that. 
Beef in Designer Beer

Photo from Delia Online
Beef in Designer Beer is basically beef stew topped with slices of French bread, topped with Gruyere cheese.  Add your favorite adult beverage and it doesn't get much better!   

This recipe came to me by way of a dear friend who put us up for a time when we visited them in Africa a few years back.  She prepared this meal for us on our first night there.  After traveling for more than 24 hours straight, it was a welcome bit of home cooking.  Now it's part of my winter kitchen repertoire.

This is the perfect meal for a snowy day.  Having the oven on warms up the house, and everything smells terrific!  While I can't take credit for this recipe, it is one I prepare often.  It also impresses your guests, making them believe that you've been cooking all day.  The recipe is originally from Delia Smith, the British equivalent of a Martha Stewart or some other Food Network celebrity.   I copied and pasted the recipe from her website with a few changes.  For Delia's additional comments, visit here

For the croutons:  --  She refers to them as croutons--they are actually slices of French bread.
1 tablespoon olive oil --  or more as needed.  Not too much or bread will be soggy.
1 garlic clove, crushed  --  As we like garlic, I always use a bit more.
6 x 1 inch thick slives of French bread, cut slightly diagonally
6 level teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
4 oz. grated Gruyére cheese  --  I usually use a bit more Gruyére.

For the stew:
2 lb. of braising or stewing steak cut into 2 inch squares
15 fl. Ounces of designer beer.  --  Newcastle Brown Ale works well, but in a pinch I have even used Heineken Light and it’s still delicious!
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 oz. onions, peeled and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 heaping teaspoon of plain flour
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the croutons: 
You can make the croutons well ahead of time and, to do this, pre-heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Drizzle the olive oil on to the baking sheet, add the crushed garlic, then, using either your hands or a piece of kitchen paper, spread the oil and garlic all over the baking sheet.

Now place the bread slices on top of the oil, then turn them over so that both sides have been lightly coated with the oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes till crisp and crunchy.


To prepare the stew: 
When you're ready to cook the beef, lower the oven temperature to 300°F (150°C). Take the flameproof [LeCreuset or similar] casserole dish, place it over direct heat, then heat the oil until sizzling hot and fry the meat, 3 or 4 pieces at a time, until they turn a dark mahogany color on all sides. Make sure you don't overcrowd the pan or they will create steam and never become brown. As you brown the meat remove it to a plate then, when all the meat is ready, add the onions to the pan, still keeping the heat high. Toss them around until they become darkly tinged at the edges – this will take about 5 minutes. After that add the crushed garlic, let that cook for about 30 seconds or so, then turn the heat down, return the meat to the casserole and sprinkle in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir until all the flour has been absorbed into the juices.

It will look rather stodgy and unpromising at this stage but not to worry – the long slow cooking will transform its appearance. Now gradually stir in the beer and, when it's all in, let the whole thing gently come up to simmering point, and while that's happening add salt, freshly milled black pepper and the thyme and bay leaves. Then, just as it begins to bubble, put the lid on, transfer it to the centre shelf of the oven and leave it there for 2½ hours. Don't be tempted to taste it now or halfway through the cooking as it does take 2½ hours for the beer to mellow and become a luscious sauce.

Just before you want to serve the beef, remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs.  Pre-heat the grill, spread the croutons with the mustard and sprinkle them with the grated Gruyère, then arrange them on top of the meat and pop the casserole under the broiler until the cheese is bubbling. Then serve immediately.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday's Child - Adams

Shelby Lynn Adams

 June 1, 2000
 October 20, 2000

Shine Brightly Wherever You Go...

A beautiful black marble stone with engraved roses, 
urns filled with flowers on either side.  
In the center, an etching of a hauntingly sweet face of a lovely little girl.

This tombstone is in Darlington Cemetery in Maryland. 
She is not my family member.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Happy Chinese New Year!  

In our house, we're happy that it's the Year of the Dragon.  According to the Chinese zodiac, hubby is a dragon.  So it's kind of like a mid-year birthday celebration for him.  Fortunately, hubby does not have a dragon-like personality in real life!

Image from
We mark Chinese New Year in an odd, kind of funny way.  We might order Chinese food for dinner.  That's about it.  But hubby also likes this holiday for another reason.

Here's our new tradition.  A few years ago hubby just couldn't get it together in time to send Christmas cards to all his friends who live around the world.  So instead, he took his time, and wrote our family letter and mailed them in beautiful Chinese New Year cards.  He orders them direct from China, and they are little works of art.  People loved them! 

USPS 2012 Lunar New Year stamp.
 Friends now tell us that they (like all of us) are overwhelmed with holiday activities, but when the Chinese New Year card arrives a month after the the hubbub of year-end holidays has subsided, they really enjoy it.  The cards even spurred a visit from an old girlfriend and her family.  (It's OK, they were boyfriend-girlfriend when they were about 14!)    

The ever-politically-correct US Post Office even issues stamps specifically for the Chinese New Year.  Lovely colorful artwork of a dragon's head, another in silhouette in the upper left corner.
He Hua Chinese Buddhist Temple.
My photos, March 2011.
Last year we were in Amsterdam around the time of Chinese New Year.  We were quite surprised to walk down a busy city street and see this ornate Chinese Buddist temple.  Known as He Hua, which means lotus flower, it was built in 2000.  

Inside is a large space, sparingly filled with shrines, several oversized statues of the gods, musical instruments, and other traditional cultural items.  Unfortunately, photos were prohibited when we were there.  That was my first time in a temple, it was silent and serene. 


Goodbye Year of the Cat,
Hello Year of the Rabbit!
But only a few doors down from the temple on this bustling street was a women's clothing shop, with this Chinese cat, known as a Maneki Nako, in the window.  The mannequin behind the cat makes for an unusual sight, and unfortunately the building across the street is reflected in the photo as well, but I think you get the idea. 

Quite a clever adaptation to the traditional, to welcome in 2011's Year of the Rabbit!

However you celebrate The Year of the Dragon and Chinese New Year, enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Larger than Life

"Larger than Life"

This is another eye-catching stone from Darlington Cemetery in Maryland.  They are not my family members.

Nicolo A.
Genova, Italy
April 24, 1912
Oct. 8, 2008

(Capt. "Lorenzo")
Genova, Italy
Nov. 16, 1940
May 21, 2010

Mirella L.
(Nee Pasini)
Cartosio, Italy
July 4, 1942

Appropriately oversized, to go with the name, this stone marks the final resting place for several members of the DiCasagrande family: Nicolo, Emanuele and Mirella.  On the stone there even seems to be space for another member, if need be. 

Under Emanuele's name is (Capt. "Lorenzo").  Whether he was a sea captain by profession or "Captain" was a nickname, I do not know.  But with a lighthouse and an anchor etched into the marble, it seems clear that the sea played an important part in his and indeed all their lives.

This stone kind of took my breath away, for a number of reasons.  First, it's just so big.  It also has the little photos of the two men; these always catch my eye.  There are beautiful shapely urns on each side.  When I was there, they were filled with bright, fresh silk flowers.  It's interesting the way the stone is elevated on a pedestal, you don't always see that.

What really attracted me to this stone, besides its size, is the highly polished surface.  It's almost like a mirror.  In the first photo above, you can see the cemetery grounds and several other stones reflected in it.  It was not until I got home and double-checked my photos that I noticed the my own reflection in the three individual shots of each name.

Darlington Cemetery is old; it was founded in the late 1800s.  Like any cemetery from this era, there is a very old section.  There is also a new section.  This stone is in the new section.  But Darlington itself is a small town, much of it a farming community.  So I found it interesting to find such a modern, beautiful headstone here, where I would usually expect a much more traditional stone.  But I'm so glad that I did.  As Ivy of Tracing the Ivy said in her genea-fun creation, "You can't judge a cemetery until you walk it."

Monday, January 16, 2012

Motivation Monday - January Goals: Half Done, Half to Go!

Well, I'm proud to report that I am half-way through my January goals.  Of course, that means I still have some to go.  On the plus side, I still have a few weeks to accomplish them. 

My January goals:  Take down decorations, clean the house, and set up a new workspace.  Here we go...

The Christmas decorations are down and stowed in the attic until next year.  WOO-HOO!

I've taken a good tip from Greta at Greta's Genealogy Bog and thrown away some stuff. 

My house is half-way clean, even sparkling, in places.  That means if you stopped by, you'd think it's staged for sale, it's so clean.  In the places that show, that is!  Now I have to work on those hidden places...the unused guest room...the know, the rooms that, in my house anyway, get completely out of control very easily.  They are kind of like room-size closets...very sad.  Organizing those rooms, to the extent that it can be done in one day, is my task for today.

Mario, trying without success
to look innocent!

The new workspace is coming along.  It's really just a free laptop (Thanks Kurt!) and a kitchen table that never gets used.  But I still need to create a bit of storage there too, so I can leave things in between bouts of research.  We'll see on that one.  If my cat turns out to be too interested in my genealogy, I'll have to rework the plan.  

And oh yes, during January I even delved into other goals by organizing photos.  That's much more fun than cleaning, isn't it?!!

I guess I can start thinking about February goals now. 

Hmm, there's an extra day in February this year, what can I do with that?!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Heart-Shaped Photo Collage: My Genea-Creation

Yesterday I completed part of my January goals, but more about that in another post.

So, to reward myself for all the hard work, I have been catching up on three days of Google Reader posts.  And I came across Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genea-Fun.  Randy suggests and directs folks to as a great place for fun creations.  Reading his post reminded me of a gift that hubby created for me "from the cat" (yes, we are those type of people) using Shape Collage software. 

Click to enlarge image.
That's my mom on the left, next to the red Polish coat of arms.
Below the coat of arms she's wearing pink, with her arm around my niece.

Shape Collage software offers a free download to automatically create a collage of selected pictures in a variety of shapes.  I used a heart shape, and pictures from my childhood and all of my relatives.  

Thinking I'd do a blog post on this, I completed my photo collage, then clicked on the "About" page and let out a chuckle.  Vincent Cheung, who designed the software, did so in an effort to corral his thousands of photos.  Must have a drop of the genealogist in him!

I'm really behind the tech-times, so some of this language is lost on me, but the website says that:
Shape Collage is the only collage maker that:
optimally arranges photos
creates collages in different shapes
can handle thousands of photos
generates super high-resolution images (up to 200 megapixels)
makes collages in just seconds
exports to Photoshop PSD file format

I've used this software to create little collages like the one above and have been able to print them with a small watermark, for my own use.  For something really nice to include in a photo book or other gift, you can purchase the Shape Collage software for $40. This will allow you to print or download endless collages yourself, without the watermark. 

Give Shape Collage a try.  It's lots of fun and makes a great gift.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welcoming Annabel

Just a few months ago I wrote about the Newest Leaf on our family tree, my cousin Joe's second son, Samuel.

This week brings another joyful addition to the family tree.  Meet darling Annabel, born January 4.  Annabel is my cousin Mark's new granddaughter.  Our common direct line ancestor is (my grandmother) Angeline Gostomska Szymanski, who is Annabel's great-great-grandmother.  (Take note, parents, for future reference!) 

Born January 4, 2012.
My first cousin, twice removed.
Lucky for the rest of the family, Annabel's daddy Aaron is a talented photographer, so we are sure to be on the receiving end of many photos of this little darling.  Aaron, Mommy Julie Ann and big sister Nevaeh welcome Annabel with loving hearts and hugging arms. 

And you can be sure that her many aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins (not to mention this first cousin, twice removed) are just as thrilled to welcome Annabel, and are lining up to bounce her on their knees. 

I wish them all the blessings that Heaven can bestow, now and always.

This is truly an example of the adage "One picture is worth a thousand words," so I'll let the these photos of this New Leaf on our family tree speak for themselves.

Two days old.  

Isn't she just TOO precious!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Abundant Genealogy, Week 2 - Paid Genealogy Tools

Following along on Amy Coffin's Abundant Genealogy series, this week is all about paid genealogy tools.  Well, I have limited experience here.  I've referred here previously to my free genealogy "basic training" class, provided by Ann Winkler at the Harford County Public Libary.  Like Ann herself, the training was wonderful, fun, informative.  I'd even say it was all-encompassing, as Ann gave me a thick packet of resources and forms to utilize in my search.  And she stressed the many resources that are available at no cost.  Gotta love that! 

But, as I have also mentioned here, I got started in genealogy because of a paid research tool--a gift subscription to  Hence the limited experience.  So far, is one of two paid research tools I have utilized.  Because it's so comprehensive, I'm sure will be a favorite among genealogists.  It's kind of like one-stop shopping, and who doesn't appreciate that.  I certainly do. 

But for all that it shares, and for all it's limitations, I like because it has gotten the family talking.  Yes.  Now I ask questions that go beyond the old "Seen any good movies lately?" 

A brief example:  in talking with my uncle, I learned my grandmother's wedding anniversary (March 2, same as his!).  He told me where and how my grandparents met (around 1918, at a dance in the Baltimore City Recreation Pier, a building that later served as the police station on the award-winning television drama Homicide: Life on the Streets) and about their life together as newlyweds (stories too numerous for here and now).  As a kid, I would never have thought to ask Grandma those questions; once I did, it was too late. 

An old photo of Baltimore City Recreation Pier,
where it all began for my paternal grandparents!
Photo from

The same holds true for my hubby.  He got into searching his roots after witnessing my immediate, though introductory, results on Ancestry.  Those dancing green leaves amazed him.  His work goes back several generations.  He's discovered that the roots are not as deep in Wales as was believed; a grandfather many generations back is from, ...gasp..Ireland!  We smile at that revelation!  But it's gotten his family talking as well.  He and his Dad now converse about much more than the latest Premier League scores. 

For example, during our 2011 visit to World War One sites, his Dad shared important family memories. We are looking forward to talking more, learning more, going to family cemeteries and other places when we visit Wales in the spring.

The other paid research tool I've used (and this was also a gift, now that I think about it) is DNA testing, though I don't know how much that will help in my research.  I'm still waiting for my results from the Genographic Project. 

So, there we have it, these are my paid research tools.  That is, of course, if you don't include paying for copies at the Archives or historical society!  I do drop a lot of coin there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Good Omen for the New Year

Photo by Amy Davis of the Baltimore Sun,
January 1, 2012.
This photo ran in the Baltimore Sun newspaper on New Year's Day with the caption: 

Call it a favorable omen for the year
Late afternoon sun showers on New Year's Day brought a fleeting rainbow above the Johns Hopkins Hospital campus.

Hopefully that means good health, prosperity, productivity, and breaking down a few brick walls.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Meiringen, Part Four

Meiringen Cemetery

August 2007

This is the final installment of my photos from the small, but extremely beautiful, Meiringen Cemetery, near Interlaken, Switzerland.

Emma Weltsche
191 ?  -  1988





Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sunday Sweet - Welsh Cakes

Over the holidays we got together with our friends from the (unfortunately, now-defunct) St. David's Welsh-American Society.  This is a group of locals who are either Welsh-born, like hubby, or of Welsh ancestry.  When the Society was active, we met monthly and enjoyed Welsh foods while listening to a speaker, usually on a topic of Welsh culture or history.  My father-in-law was always a favorite speaker on those occasions when they were in town from across the pond. 

When the group got together in late November to kick off the holiday season, hubby used his mum's recipe for a favorite dessert, Welsh cakes.  Cooked on a griddle, they are flat little treats, about two inches in diameter--the size of a regular cookie, but not as sweet.  Lots of butter, some sugar, the somewhat crumbly texture of a scone.  Delicious!

Welsh Cakes - makes 16-18, use medium cutter

8 ozs. S.R. [self-rising] Flour
4 ozs. butter
1 ozs. ground almonds
2 - 3 ozs. Caster Sugar*
3 ozs. Dried Fruit**
1 egg
Pinch Salt
A little milk if needed.

Rub butter into flour.  Add other dry ingredients.  Add beaten egg and a little milk if necessary.  Rest mixture in refrigerator for a little while [about one hour].  Roll out and cut into rounds 3/8 inch thick.  Cook on griddle on one side.  Turn over and repeat.

*Caster sugar is sold as "super fine" sugar in U.S. supermarkets.
**Golden raisins work well.

Welsh cakes cooling on the rack,
soon to be devoured.

Eating Welsh Cakes Makes You Happy!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life in the UK - Plough Sunday

Today in the United Kingdom, people are marking Plough Sunday, a day that celebrates the centuries-old ritual of the blessing of the plough.  My ancestors, as well as hubby's UK family, lived by the plough.  It was their way of tending fields to feed the family, whether consuming what they grew, or selling crops for cash.  Honestly, I did not know a lot about Plough Sunday.  But in following the Lyme Regis Museum blog, I learned more about the celebrations they will be having.  Dark Dorset's blog gives more history here

Image by

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Abundant Genealogy - Week One, Blogging

One of my goals for 2012 is to blog at least three times a week.  So in seeking topics to blog about, I'm trying Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy, posted on Geneabloggers, as inspiration.  And this week, Week One, the topic is Blogging: 

The questions:  For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it? 

Well, I'll tell you: 

The first blog I followed was that of my Genealogy Discussion Group friend, Deb Ruth, of Adventures in Genealogy

Deb posts frequently on a variety of topics regarding research and discoveries in both her own and her husband's family.  When she takes a well-deserved break, I miss reading her posts.  Deb's Follow Friday Gems are nothing short of spectacular.  So, what's special about the blog and why should others read and follow Adventures in Genealogy

Not only are Deb's posts wonderful, but her resource lists are comprehensive and helpful.  Follow because you will enjoy reading her posts, and more importantly, you will learn something every time! 

There are many other blogs that I follow, enjoy, look forward to the next post.  I'll call them my Honorable Mentions.  I'm grateful for them, and what I learn from them, and what they share with everyone.  They include all of the old photos and old postcards blogs that I have found.  I'm fascinated with ephemera and follow many of these blogs, hoping that eventually I'll see a family member.  So far the closest I've come is some children from the Michigan area, on Forgotten Old Photos; their surname was Lord.  I have a friend from Michigan with the same surname; I sent the link to him hoping he can identify the photo. 

Another Honorable Mention (HM) is Corn and Cotton: My Family's Story.  Stephanie is great.  Her posts are wonderful, and her new idea for a geneablogger group buddy program is just what I needed this January!  Speaking of Geneabloggers, Thomas MacEntee is another HM; I don't think I need to explain the many reasons.  I will wrap up with A Family Tapestry.  There are lots of good blogs out there; heck, there are lots of great blogs out there.  But A Family Tapestry is, well, literature.  In a very good way!

But I'm additionally grateful to Deb at Adventures in Genealogy for another reason:  she is my personal genealogy blogging prompt.  What I mean by this is that Deb urged me to start my blog.  She explained the process and the templates; she told me about Geneabloggers (one of my above-noted Honorable Mentions); she told her friends about my blog once I finally set it up.  She explained how I can follow other blogs using Google Reader.  She invited me into Google+ (now I just need to learn how to navigate it).  These may be second nature to many bloggers, but it got me on the road to where I am now, having some understanding of how to function as a beginning blogger.  Deb once told me, I think with tongue only partially in cheek, that she sleeps only a few hours a night.  Well, I don't know how she manages to accomplish all that she does, but I am ever so grateful! 

Take my advice, if you don't already know Deb's site, visit it today.  You will be hooked and you will love following along!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Generations

Great-grandmother Agnieska (Landowska) Gostomski
Born: 1874 (Polonia)
Died: 4 October 1942 (Baltimore, MD)
This is the only positively known photo of her. 
I have another photo that I suspect may be her, many years younger.

The little sailor is my uncle and god-father.
Frank Walter Szymanski
Born: 27 December 1919  (would have just turned 93)
Died: 3 January 1972  (40 years ago yesterday).

The little boy on Agnieska's lap is my dear old Dad, how I miss him.
Edward John Szymanski
Born: 14 September 1921
Died: 13 March 1990.

It's the strangest thing, to look in the face of this toddler,
and see the searching blue eyes, slightly smiling mouth, and wavy hair of the man I knew and loved as my Dad.  And I think he would love this genea-journey!

Special thanks to Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe, who sent this photo over the holidays!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Meiringen, Part Three

Meiringen Cemetery

August 2007

Another installment of photos from my afternoon in Meiringen.  Several of the markers are like this one:  wooden, house-shaped, with a sloped roof-like attachment.  The roof is covered with tin or copper, to protect from the elements. 

I love the look of these cemetery "gardens."  They are colorful, each with an individual, somewhat overgrown look.  On closer inspection, though, you can tell each is frequently and lovingly tended. 

Many have a little statue or ornament, for example of a cat or dog, that must have been a favorite of the deceased.  Perhaps the statue is of something they liked to collect during their lifetime.  

Notice the little gnome down in from of the garden in the second photo.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

Motivation Monday - A Newbie's Goals

Last night I sat down and wrote a long post about my genealogy goals for 2012.  I included a few words about how I just got started with my family history search around this time last year, so for someone brand new, I didn’t do too badly.  For example:

I started with a fantastic basic training course.  
I also attended a library workshop presented by John Coletta, and a Family History workshop;
I joined a wonderful Genealogy Discussion Group;
I made a trip to the Maryland State Archives;
I visited the National Archives in Washington DC, to get a copy of my ancestor's Civil War pension record;
I've uncovered many documents on many family members;
I visited the gravesites of several family members, including some who, one year ago, I did not know existed;
I've scanned lots of old photos;
OMG, I even started a blog! 

I conveniently avoided listing those things that I wanted to do but didn’t, and the fact that I got way too sidetracked by the holidays.  When I finished reading it, I could only think one thing:  I need help!

Lucky for me, help arrived this morning in the form of Stephanie from Corn and Cotton: My Family’s Story.  Stephanie has put out a call to family historians and geneabloggers to join together and provide motivation and support for one another throughout the year.  Read Stephanie’s post about her own goals and the cooperative plans for 2012.

So, this may seem odd, but my genealogy goal for January is to clean my house.  Yes.  Clean.My.House.  From top to bottom.  I’m not a hoarder; the garbage goes out regularly.  But you know how it can be; piles of paper just materialize…and grow.  And then one pile of papers and magazines gets moved to another room for sorting and storing, and I turn my head and, bazinga, there is another pile of catalogs in the space I just cleared!  How it happens, I’d like to know!  So that’s my first month’s job: decorations down, clean house, begin to create a better workspace. 

Here are all of my 2012 goals:

Clean house.

Create a warm, bright workspace for research, blogging and record-keeping.

Begin at the beginning, again.  I have been researching family history for one year now, with a less than half-hearted attempt at same during this past month of December.  Start over, in new, clean, workspace.  Sort the records I already have; fill in the family group sheets I have started as much as possible. 

Join Harford County Genealogical Society.  Attend regularly.

Continue as member of Harford County Public Library Genealogy Discussion Group.

Finish posting photos from Baltimore National Cemetery and Darlington Cemetery on

Blog at least three time a week.

It may not seem like much, but it’s a start. 

I have long-term goals, too:
Prove or disprove the connections to the person I believe to be my 5x great-grandfather.  This could lead to ultimate distant connection to inventor Robert Fulton.  Wouldn’t that be cool!

Help hubby put together some basic information and photos about his dad’s family.  I think maybe a Shutterfly book would work well here.  Hubby wants to gift this to his dad when we visit Wales in March. 

Find a technology buddy.  Here I am woefully behind the times.  That includes learning more about Facebook, Google+, Blogger and more.  I am a visual person; reading directions leaves me stumped.  I need someone who can sit with me and teach me.  Maybe I can find a high school kid who can fill me in!

So, there it is.  If anyone has ideas for me, please share!  I'm open to all suggestions.

Thanks, Stephanie, for the great idea and the motivation!  I look forward to following along, having some goals, giving and receiving support, and basking in the satisfaction of a clean house.