Family Tree Puzzle: Where Did That Relative Come From???

So as I have mentioned previously, I am working on my family tree, using the free online website of Family Search to track all my ancestors.  I have thoroughly enjoyed myself as I have learned so much about family members that I never knew existed, both near and far in my lineage.

The bad part of using a public forum for this is because you sometimes find people suddenly on your family tree that don’t belong there.  And I find it really aggravating.

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Case in point, I have 3 ancestors with the same name… Andrew Jackson Blair. And with the Andrew Jackson Blair who is my great grandfather – someone has added another Andrew into the mix – an Andrew Sloan Blair – which I know is incorrect.  Why?  I doubt my great great grandfather (also an Andrew Jackson Blair) and great great grandmother would name 2 sons within 4 years of each other, Andrew.  Secondly, Andrew Sloan Blair was born within 4 months of another relative. I don’t see that being possible, do you?

What’s worse is that I even took the time to figure out who Andrew Sloan Blair’s ancestors were and messaged the person who has attached their person to my relatives.  I received a reply a week or so later telling me that they appreciated my work and that they would clean up their tree.

But Andrew Sloan is still there.

I honestly don’t think there is a way for me to remove him from my family tree, so for the time being live with him I must.

However, that hasn’t stopped me from looking into software so I can do my own family tree and slowly build it with what I have found.

I’ll still use Family Search and Ancestry to research, but I prefer to double and triple check to make sure an ancestor is truly mine.  I latched onto an ancestor that was already listed in Family Search the other day and was really excited because somehow when clicking back to see what country my family members began in – it had me related to Charlemagne (he is my great x 39 grandfather).  I’ll admit, I was blown away – until when I began looking through the various people who were between me and Charlemagne, ended up having mothers that gave birth at age 4. So close to royalty.

So if you work on your family history – is there a software that you recommend?  Share with me as I begin my research!  Thank you in advance!

Keep Calm

So obviously the “Keep Calm and…” phrase is everywhere.  A year and a half ago I went to Boston and found the cutest shirt for my daughter that was just the perfect shade of bubblegum pink and it said “Keep Calm & Have a Tea Party”, I couldn’t have asked for a better souvenir for my trip and she absolutely loves it – surprisingly enough she still wears it all the time.

But last night I came across some really cute “Keep Calm” memes and so I’m sharing a few with you – I’m also placing the website I found each on underneath so if you like and want to share – I’m crediting who I found these from so I can share the love.  🙂

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/104934017/keep-calm-pop-bubble-wrap-8-x-12-keep

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https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/99/ad/71/99ad7164ad1a80ac0c7553371dd20fd8.jpg

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http://iwastesomuchtime.com/35646

Have you found any interesting ones that just made you stop and smile?  Share with me!

My Big Project – Upcycling a Wire Spool

A few years ago my parent’s neighbor gave me a wooden spool that she had in her backyard.  For two years the spool sat not being used.

Until this year.

This spring I began doing searches on Pinterest about upcycling spools.  I couldn’t believe all the different things you can do – and would now love to get my hands on another to do another project.  As you will see from my photos I re-did mine as a table with a mosaic top.  But other projects are benches, flower beds, chairs, rocking chairs – all sorts of things.  There is no end to what you can do when you set your mind to it.

So I wasn’t smart enough to take an honest to goodness “before” picture of my spool, but I did remember to take one after I sanded it down.  I didn’t do it for a long time, I probably did the entire piece in about 15 minutes.  Tops.

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My next step was taking it out in my driveway and spray painting it.  I went up to Home Depot and oddly initially couldn’t find the color green I was looking for.  When my husband texted me back – “they don’t have the color you want?” in complete and utter disbelief.  It was then I looked to the right and lo and behold – there were more colors.  I chose what I thought to be a nice spring green shade.

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I had only bought 1 can but ended up going up and buying a second as I was amazed at how the wood just sucked up all the paint.

The weather then became rainy and then snowy so it was a few weeks before I began working on the spool again.  So when phase 2 started it looked like this:

So our next step was putting a piece of plywood on top.  With the holes in the top I couldn’t create a mosaic top so with my husband’s help we put a solid top on the table.

We glued and screwed the plywood to the top of the spool and then he took a saws all (borrowed from my dad) to cut around the top of the table.  Once it was all cut out he took the sander to even out the edges.

The next step was to place some rope around the edge of the top.  This was fun because while hubby went to see if he had clamps, the rope all came falling off.  I thought I was going to cry but we figured out that if the put the glue down, left it set up for a minute and then laid the rope down it stuck a little better.  The saucers for some terracotta flower pots, the sander and coasters helped, too.

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Once we gave the rope time to dry, caulk was placed on top of the screws (holding the plywood to the rest of the spool) and where the rope and table meet so when we put the mortar down it wouldn’t ooze out under the rope (hubby thought of all this).

Next step – mixing the mortar, leaving it set and then spreading it around the top of the table.  I probably could have handled this part, but I think hubby likes to be useful.  He mixed the mortar together and spread it on the table.

I wanted to make a sunflower so finding tiles that would give me lots of yellow or orange colors was impossible to find.  Luckily we went to Hobby Lobby and found some small colored panes of glass.  Along with some river stones for the “seeds” and sea glass stones for the “sky” edging, I was ready to go.

The next step was breaking the glass.  My clumsiness allowed hubby to do this too. I was sure that I would end up cutting myself so he had fun breaking the glass in a box.

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And then it began – putting the flower together.  Initially all was good, it was putting the “seeds” in the center.

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The more difficult part was placing the glass for the petals.  I started placing them down and then really became overwhelmed simply because my glass was going down but it wasn’t making a flower.  Then I realized that if I placed pieces of glass down and made triangles down to make my way to the end of the petals, and it started coming together so much better.

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Then it was easy again – just putting the blue glass down for the edges.  I didn’t buy enough but it turns out my mother had some (all the stores were closed so I really lucked out).

And then it was done – outside of my kids I can’t remember when I’d ever been so proud of myself for completing a project.  I’m looking into a type of sealant to put on it so it hopefully won’t get dirty.  I knew I needed to wait a few weeks so that way the mortar would be dry.

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Looking forward to having a productive summer on my porch – I’ve decked it out with lights that look like mason jars and topped it off with a sunflower mesh wreath that I made as well.

 

Being Strong

I am really trying to be good.  I survived my worst part of the day – going home for lunch.  You see, going home has me by myself, all alone, with just my dog.  And every sort of munchie food we have in the house seems to call my name.

“Becky!  Becky!” they cry.

And not wanting to let the potato chips, the Doritos, or whatever junk food I have lying around to be disappointed, I oblige and feast.

But today I was strong.  Today I ate my leftover fish and my spinach salad and dressing and glass of milk.  Today I was good.  Today I managed to stay motivated.

Yay me!

And what is doubling enticing on a day like today is I woke up with a massive headache and it’s even easier on those days to talk myself into a trip to the Circle K and get a Polar Pop.

But I stayed strong.

I started an Atkins-type diet yesterday.  My doctor a year or so ago suggested I stay away from all my favorite foods – you know the ones – starchy carbohydrates.  Potatoes, corn, rice, etc.

So yesterday I did that.  I went to the store and stocked up on some veggies that I do like (they are few but I’m trying). I still had 11 Doritos with last nights taco salad for dinner.  But that’s it.  I came in just 3 grams shy of my minimum carbohydrate intake that has been assigned to me by Sparkpeople.

Tonight I plan on having some rice with dinner.  Nothing major but having a little bit is better than eating them all day long as I would normally do.

What do you do to stay strong?

* Just wanted to mention where I found my motivational clips today.  The first one (green) was from Standout Health and the latter is from HealthyPlace.com

A Little Monday Motivation

Everyone needs motivation in their life – I know I do – and Mondays are always great days to get a little extra motivation – because Mondays make great days to begin things.

I know a few weeks ago I seriously began working at losing weight.  Or so I thought until I stepped on the scale this morning and I gained .6 lbs instead of losing.  I’ve done the talk to myself that muscle weighs more than fat – but I know another part of it could be that I just didn’t track and watch my food as carefully as I should have.

I actually was doing rather well until Friday at lunch.  And then I decided to have a Dr. Pepper and it was a place where they have a bottomless drink – and so I ended up have probably 2.5 glasses of soda.  Then for dinner my hubby (without asking) orders me a large Cherry Fanta from Wendy’s with my fish sandwich (no fries – see I really was trying to be good), and then we went to a Hockey Game and I shared another Pepsi with him.

It was just never-ending soda from 1pm on.

And that is probably the REAL story of why I didn’t lose weight.  My sister had a surprise birthday party for her significant other on Saturday and I’m guessing that didn’t help either. A can of Pepsi, cheese balls, crackers, pasta salad, meatballs, fish shaped cut out cookies.  On top of that I had bagel and cream cheese.  Twice.  It was so good I had it for lunch and breakfast.  Oh, and Lucky Charms too.

So you see, I am to blame.  I should be jumping up and down that I only gained .6.  But to keep me going through the week I love to scroll through Pinterest and just read the words of motivation.  They really help to keep me on track.  So I’m going to share some of my words of wisdom that I find with you!

From Popsugar.com:

From freeandfit.me:

From Elite Daily:

Hopefully these are enough to keep us going for a few days.  Life is hard, we just have to learn to be tougher.  Wishing you your best week yet!

If you have a motivational quote that you find really works for you – share in the comments!

One Great Cheeseball

Have you ever stumbled upon a recipe, and you make it because at the moment the recipe fits the occasion you are making it for and it’s easy so it’s a win-win?

So the occasion for me was my daughter’s birthday party and instead of having a meal like my son picks (one year it was a Mexican feast, the past two years it’s been a chili supper) she chose just to have snack foods.  Not wanting just bowl after bowl of chips, I decided to look up some cheese balls.

I went with 2 different cheese balls – one was made with cream cheese and a funfetti cake mix (3 weeks later this is still sitting in my refrigerator – awaiting it’s trip to the curb on this weeks trash day).  The other was simply fabulous.  There was about 3 bites left when her party was over and my husband ate those last few.  It was a Bacon Ranch Cheese ball and not only did it taste heavenly – but it was super easy to make too.

I found the recipe on Pinterest and here is the link:  http://centslessdeals.com/bacon-ranch-cheese-ball/.

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The recipe has 4 ingredients.  You soften 2 boxes of cream cheese, mix them with a hand mixer, add a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning mix, mix some more.  Add a 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and a 1/2 cup of bacon bits (I used the Hormel bits you can buy in a bag already crumbled) and mix some more (the recipe states you can use green onion as well – but I’m not big on onions so I opted to leave it out – but if you love onions – go for it!).

Once the cream cheese, ranch dressing, cheese and bacon bits are all mixed together, I form into a ball and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Then I take the cheese ball and roll it in the remaining bacon bits in the bag (I purchase a 4+ ounce bag and ended up using the entire bag for 1 cheese ball).

Now for the next step – EATING IT!  I used Keebler Pita Crackers – plain with Sea Salt and loved them.  Keebler Toasted crackers – Sesame tastes really good too.

I made this tonight for a surprise birthday party my sister had for her significant other and once again it was a hit.  Best part is it’s easy to rattle off how to make the cheese ball when people ask because there are not a ton of ingredients to remember.

So if you are having a get together big or small – try making the Bacon Ranch Cheese Ball, it tastes great and it’s easy to make – and that’s always a plus!  If you have a quick and easy appetizer, feel free to share with us in the comments!

 

Becky’s Book Review: “My (Not So) Perfect Life”

I love to read, so as a monthly feature I’m going to attempt to write a book review.  If you have read the book – by all means please make a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My first book is by an author whose books I love!  Her name is Sophie Kinsella and about a month ago I was lucky enough to put a hold on her latest book, “My (Not So) Perfect Life”, and get it fairly quickly.  At the time I hadn’t realized it had just come out.  But as is the case with all of Ms. Kinsella’s books, I couldn’t put it down.

The Plot

Her character’s are always those I can relate too.  In this book, Katie (aka “Cat”) reminded me a great deal of myself.  Though I am American and not British, her yearning to live in London reminded me so much of my own dream of living in New York City (though I can see the charm of London, I went on a trip there exactly 27 years ago this very day with my school – and it is one of my all time favorite places).  Katie, though broke, was trying to live the dream (I can honestly say I never achieved my goal of living in NYC, at least not yet.  I would have rather enjoyed experiencing the town I lived in rather than having to work 3 jobs just to pay for a studio apartment).

I am not going to go into all kinds of detail as I don’t want to spoil the story for someone who does want to read it – but life doesn’t go as planned for Katie, and though she isn’t exactly honest with those who love and think the world of her, she lands on her feet in a way only Katie can do.

My Thoughts

This book had moments when you were cheering Katie on, tsk-ing her as she did something that you weren’t really proud of her doing, and smiling as she found out there really is no place like home, even if you want home to be some place new.

It also made a great point that I have always found interesting when I am perusing my own social media accounts.  If I’m having a bad day and wish to moan and groan I find myself stopping and deleting the letters.  I can’t let the world know that I’m having a bad day.  What happens if people realize my life isn’t all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows?

This is what this book is about – realizing that people’s reality is nothing what you see posted on the internet.

Why I Love Books by Sophie

My favorite part of reading any Sophie Kinsella book is how entertaining they are.  Doesn’t matter which book you are reading – from my favorite “Can You Keep a Secret”? to my next favorite of “Twenties Girl” (have tissues ready) they are wonderful books you can read time and time again without the explicitness other chick lit books provide.  She writes about real life and though some of the funny moments I hope never happen to me, we all have these moments in life that we recall years later that make us chuckle.

I find that Ms. Kinsella writes about real life in a way that is fun and not so stuffy and negative.  Her characters are like real people, friends who come into your life for a few hundred pages and honestly don’t want them to leave.

Oh did I mention the downside of these books?  You want to find out what happens, but at the same time you don’t want them to end.

If you have a book you would like to recommend I read and review – please let me know in the comments.  If you have read “My (Not So) Perfect Life” let me know what you think!

The Best Ever Quote

Best Project Ever

While seeking out motivational quotes on Pinterest tonight, this quote stood out to me like lightning bolts from the sky.  How can you not like it?  It is just the best quote ever!

I mean EVER!

As with most of the world, I began 2017 with a goal of losing weight.  Yes, it’s a topic I’ve touched on (I think groaned on is a better way of describing it) from time to time.  I am overweight, and I really need to do something about it.  But I think one of my biggest issues is that I attempt to lose weight for all the wrong reasons.  I think it’s to be healthier, and I truly wish to feel better, but it’s also so I can look as good as one of my friends who lost like 60 pounds a couple of years ago and looks phenomenal.

But that carrot isn’t enough of an enticement to have me stick to exercising each day (could it be because I dislike carrots – and most everything else that is orange?). Another problem is I start off eating okay – but then I succumb to temptation with hardly any fight.  It’s like I am waving the white flag before the said temptation even makes any demands.

So I keep trying to find motivation.

One way was by re-installing my tracker that my mom bought me a couple of years ago from Sparkpeople.  I love my Sparkpeople tracker – but while in the midst of re-loading it onto my computer, it turned out that the company that created the sync-er was going out of business so their tracker wasn’t going to work anymore (okay – sidebar – I am still wrapping my head around this – for all the time I used my tracker – it synced fine – but why if the business decided to go under does it mean that my tracker is no longer going to work?  I just don’t get it.  Wouldn’t my sync-er still sync?).  What was worse was that even though the last day for my tracker to work was February 21 – it wouldn’t let me complete the re-installation of my tracker.  Nothing.

So I signed up to get the $10 gift card they offered to those with Sparkpeople trackers so they could purchase a new one.  I had to wait until February 13 – and when I got it I purchased a new tracker right away.  Cost me all the way to $8 additional dollars (including shipping) because I had seen this one when I was checking out the store on My Fitness Pal – and they had a Jawbone UP Move.  It is very simple to use.  It tracks my steps and my sleep.  No flights of steps like my mothers FitBit, just steps (which is what my Sparkpeople did – however it was waterproof too – which worked great for the Water Fitness classes I loved to take at our local Natatorium, but we aren’t members presently so I guess I’m not missing out on anything).

My goal is 6,500 steps a day.  I think I’ve done it twice in the almost month I’ve had the device.  Having an office job is a struggle at times as it’s difficult remembering to get up and walk around at least every hour on the hour (if not more frequently).  I do what I can – but I can honestly say that makes a huge difference.

I’m trying to exercise more regularly too.  I started doing Leslie Sansone’s Walk It Off In 30 Days DVD where you Walk 30 (30 minutes of cardio exercise of walking) and Firm 30 (30 minutes of strength training).  Last week the pain got me good.  But I slacked off by the weekend.  This week I’m determined to last – and so I began my 30 days this past Monday.  I will do it!

But it all starts with a beginning.  It is all a series of baby steps.  It’s all about making good choices.  And today my choice is simple:  The best project I’ll ever work on is me (well, and my kids too).

Let’s motivate each other one day at a time!

 

Getting My Geek On

One of the best parts of working on my family history has been trying to find out if any of my relatives fought in the Revolutionary War.  You see, I share my birthday with George Washington and he has become my big hero in life.  I love George.  He had his flaws but he had the hardest job of all presidents, trying to run the country without seeming like a king.  I always imagined that this had to be extremely difficult.

So this has been my thing, searching on various sides of my family, I found I had relatives from the French & Indian War, but then seemed to be too old or too young to have fought during the Revolution.  And then I started on my Grandma’s side of the family and low and behold my Great Great Great Great Great Grandfather joined the Patriot cause and was stationed in Virginia.  He apparently saw no action outside of Virginia – but did partake in the Battle of Yorktown.  He was apparently there when Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington. (As a history geek – this had me on Cloud 9).

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http://www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/revolut/jb_revolut_yorktown_1_e.html

So that is what has been keeping my busy.  Trips to the library using Ancestry Library Edition and just trying to keep all the families and their members organized.

I’ve learned that not all finds have happy endings.  My Great Grandmother’s youngest brother had 13 children, and it appears that 4 of them died in a house fire back in 1939.  So sad.  Apparently, they were trying to build a fire in a stove and the coal oil exploded.  I found 2 of the death certificates online and it just breaks your heart.  One was 10, the other 2, and so far I’ve not found any information to figure out if the 2 that I have no information on were in the fire or not.  Hoping that I find their information elsewhere, and making the casualties be just two.

Here is to continued searches and a hope of finding more happy endings than sad ones.

 

Happy 2017!

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I am so looking forward to this new year.  I’m focusing on becoming a healthier me as I’ve gained a few more pounds and discovered with most foods I eat, I just feel plain lousy.  So this seems to be the day.  It’s a Sunday and the beginning of a new journey.

So as part of my journey of health – I’m going to be focusing on eating fruit and veggies every day and to try to eliminate processed foods from my diet.  As much as my taste buds love Cheez-It’s Classic Snack Mix – about an hour later I feel just icky.  I’m trying to follow the advice my body is giving me and maybe we’ll feel better.

I’m going to continue to focus on my family history.  My long lost family members I found here in the same town I grew up in I will be meeting with this new year to get stories about family.  So excited!

Contemplating a reading challenge. A few years back I read 60 books, contemplated 75, but sometimes that takes up so much time and energy.  We’ll see.  But I do want to read more.

And of course – trying to get myself (and by extension my husband) out of debt.  We can do this.  Our willpower just has to be so much better than it is.

Organization is another on-going goal for me.  But lately even I’ve been feeling claustrophobic from some of the stock piled junk.  January – look out!

My last goal is to blog once or twice a week.  I really do enjoy sharing my thoughts and finds with the world.

What are your goals for 2017 – share in the comments below!!!  Good luck!