Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Memories . . . Awaiting the New Year

What is it about the day after Christmas? Are you glad the hustle and bustle is over? Have you cleaned up the discarded wrapping paper and bows? Has everyone taken their goodies to their rooms or are they still sitting under the tree? Did you eat all the leftovers from your Christmas feast? Have you started to return or exchange gifts that weren’t exactly right? Are you catching up an all those cards and letters, updating your mailing list for next Christmas? 

Have you already started to take down the tree and decorations? Are all the parties over? Did you put a few extra pounds? All of these and I am sure more things crowd your mind, fill your days, and make you wonder if it was all worth it?                            

Of course it was!                
So as you wait to change the calendar, you make plans for the New Year. Do you make resolutions or do you wait to see what happens? Are you resolved and determined to make changes? Stay steadfast and persevere, make promises and pledges, find solutions and answers? Yes, you will do all the above. And the one goal I wish to inspire you to attain if you haven’t already done so with the encouragement from this blog, is to Create your Family Museum! Or at least begin to think about doing it and then do it!

I have written 141 blogposts that instruct, inform, edify and entertain. Loaded with how-to ways & means, inspiration, personal thoughts and links to websites that offer even more information. There is no excuse as to why one would not want to have a Family Museum in their home, apartment, workplace, anywhere you call home. All obstacles and challenges can be met. But it is up to you, however, not you alone. The history you preserve and display is your family’s history, their stories, their lives. Make it as grand as you can. Share it with all family members, friends, and on your social networks. Spread the word. Share the love of family.  
Here are a few poignant quotes that express the importance of creating a Family Museum:
“There’s a world of wisdom in our personal stories. Your life is a legacy, a gift that only you can give. Why waste something so precious?”  &  “Too many Americans have ignored their ancestors and family history and not bothered to examine their own life stories, much less share them with others. They, too, rarely share much of their past lives with friends, or pass them on to their progeny. And yet we desperately need to do all that . . .”      Dolly Berthelot

“Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children’s children.”   Deuteronomy
“If you don’t recount your family history, it will be lost. Honor your own stories and tell them, too. The tales may not seem very important, but they are what binds families and makes each of us who we are.”      Madeleine L’Engle  
May your New Year be prosperous, your health strong and stable, your families happy & together. I will continue to post throughout the New Year. Hope you read it and chime in. It is nice to hear from you and to share this journey of preserving and displaying family histories in your own Family Museum.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Memories . . . The Gifts

Giving and receiving gifts on Christmas is probably the most exciting part of the holiday. For weeks, even months, you plan, you shop in the stores or online, and best of all is when you make the gift yourself, much time and effort is spent on this endeavor.

At the beginning of our shopping excursions, we all make a list of the things we want and/or need. Over the years, especially this one, the lists have become quite sophisticated. Now, instead of just listing the item, websites of where to find it accompany the request. That certainly did make shopping easier.

Then we check out the wrapping paper and bows, and as before, need to restock. I am not sure when it started, except how I recall my dad, a conservative guy, would take the discarded gift wrapping paper and fold it up very neatly saying that it is still good and we should use it next Christmas. Really dad! But he was right, so from that day forward, I have done the same, resulting in some very old, even retro-looking paper. And today, not only is the paper saved, we do so with the ribbon and bows. One of the things I love to do while the family opens their presents, is to roll up the discarded ribbon into neat little rolls, securing them as best as I can. Again, some of our ribbon has been used over and over again. Besides, paper and ribbon is expensive and if you can save a little money, then do so. Then you can spend that money on the gifts you want to give. Oh! And don’t forget to give a gift to your pet/s. Every day they bring you happiness, so let them know that they are an important member of the family.
Then, in a flash, it’s over.  The anticipation, the angst, the thrills and shrills.  But it is all worth it and in a quick eleven months from now, you will be doing it again. And why do we do this? Because we all want to show our love and appreciation for family and friends because that is what Christmas is all about. If everyone could keep this loving feeling in their hearts all year, every day, we would be a peaceful nation.

Merry Christmas to you all   
and    God Bless America!      

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Memories . . . The Glorious Food

I wish I had a picture for every holiday meal our family enjoyed over the years, but alas, that would mean probably hundreds of images of roasts, vegetables amass, not to mentions the cookies, cakes and other holiday delights. In my search to find a few pictures, everyone I looked at made me ponder upon that time, remembering the fun we had making and eating the homemade creation. And the one important aspect of this food is how many of those recipes have been handed down through the generations. For example, here is my husband, Keith, making Norwegian Pancakes, a treat we enjoy particularly during the holidays or when the urge hits us. It is his mother’s recipe she learned as a child. Her parents immigrated to Minnesota in 1864. They brought with them this and other Norwegian recipes. Yum!

Talking about recipes, I bet if you complied all of those index cards, slips of paper upon which the ingredients and directions were scribbled, favorites from new and old cookbooks with pages marked with stains of food orts, you would have a family museum of food. Here is an idea to create for your family’s future generations to enjoy and use. Purchase a photo album or scrapbook, maybe several depending on the size of your collected recipes, organize them according to the food type or even the event which the meal was served. Write a little story about what the picture is telling, not necessarily a lot, but enough so the reader will understand what is going on. Add embellishments, flourishes, trimmings and such to enhance the page. All of these supplies can be found at Michael’s Arts & Craft Stores.  

And don’t forget about the kids. One day my son Charlie asked me to make up a cookbook just for him of his favorite recipes. What a great idea! Kids loved to be included in family history projects, so assist them as they look through your cookbooks and recipes and have them select the ones they like and put them into an album or scrapbook. This would be great winter time project that is both entertaining and educational.   

I am not much of a baker. My daughter Tiffeni loves to bake and her brother loves to lick up the remaining batter from the bowl. My job is to make Thumbprints, the little jam-filled nut-encased cookies that take me hours to make. This year, I am going to attempt to make a new concoction called a Schneeballen, snowball in German.  We traveled to Germany this past spring and in the town of Rothenberg, a plethora of bakeries offered these delectable desserts. So wish me luck. I will let you know how they turned out. When Charlie went to company Christmas parties, he always brought a Torte, a multilayered cake made with lady finger cookies, whipped cream (Cool Whip), fruit preserves, and gently flavored with rum and cognac. The recipe is his dad’s and he helps Charlie create this masterpiece. When he brings home the bowl, there is put one serving left and Keith scarfes it down.

The Christmas Feast is the best, besides Thanksgiving. Because we do not want to repeat the turkey, we ruminate on other choices. Will it be a beef or pork roast with all the trimmings, will we have two meats instead of one, what kind of vegetables, bread or rolls, and of course, dessert. But whatever we cook, we eat and look forward to the leftovers. And one bit of fun when we sit down at the table, Keith has the honor of “carving the beast,” just like the Grinch. So whatever you bake, broil or oven-roast, enjoy your holiday feast.    

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Memories . . . The Decorations

How many boxes of holiday decorations do you have? Over the years my family has amassed a collection of Christmas decorations, so much so, we could personally decorate several homes.  And over the years we have organized and re-organized these boxes, storing them in closets, basements, attics, and the garage. We have gotten better at this task and after 45 years of Christmas decorating, we have it down to a science, but like all organizational tasks, it takes time and patience, but it does pay off.  

Let’s start at the end of the holiday when everything goes back into their box. This is the time you really need to take your time and it is also the time you don’t want to take because honestly, the holidays are over and so is the excitement. So, as the saying goes, it takes time to make time.  One box at a time and if possible, purchase the boxes that are made to store holiday items. These boxes are pretty sturdy and are well marked so you know what is inside them. And label the box as well. For example, “Family room decorations.”

The tree ornaments need special care, especially when they have been in the family for a long time. Over the years we have collected some wonderful ornaments that have special meanings and memories. I would love to put one or two into our Family Museum, however, space is limited. But when they come out of their wrappings and are once again hung on the tree, all those memories can be shared again, for at least a month or so.

Decorative and tree lights are always my bane, and I must admit, after I have literally pulled them off a mirror or the long string off the tree, I don’t plug the lights back in to make sure I didn’t pull a light out or broke one, which means either I fix it right then and there, or buy a new set, which is not very economical. So again, taking the time to make sure all the lights still work will be a blessing next Christmas.

Outside decorations are another animal. Big, bulky, and messy from weather-related events. For storing these items, purchase those big green plastic containers and again, label the containers with what is inside. And whether you store them in a garage or basement, you want to be sure the containers are air-tight for all the reasons you know.    

So now with all your decorations are organized and preserved, you can look forward to the next time you begin this endeavor and perhaps when you start your decorating, you will feel like a “Who in Who Ville” instead of a “Grinch.“

Monday, December 7, 2015

Christmas Memories . . . The Music

Christmas time is here,
Happiness and cheer,
Fun for all that children call,
Their favorite time of the year.
Snowflakes in the air,
Carols everywhere,
Olden times and ancient rhymes,
Of love and dreams to share.
Sleigh bells in the air,
Beauty everywhere,
Yuletide by the fireside,
And joyful memories there.
Christmas time is here,
We'll be drawing near,
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year.
Oh, that we could always see,
Such spirit through the year...  
What is it about Christmas and all the other spiritual, sacred, holy, and secular holidays that conjure up memories? However your memories are created they will be remembered. And more so if they are preserved in your Family Museum. So this month, my posts will cover as many of the holiday does  and doing as I can write about, be it decorating the home, finding that perfect present, setting the table with glorious foods, and making toasts for the New Year.


Today will be music, because if anything can set the mood, it’s music. And because we are nostalgic at heart, our family loves traditional music.  Many of course are records, or as some call them, vinyls. Most of these records date from the late 1960s and sound perfectly fine to us. For example,  Dean Martin, Doris Day, Any Williams, Robert Goulet, Steve & Edie, and Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Ballet. When we decorate the tree, by time the music from the Nutcracker is done playing, so is the tree.  There is something so very sentimental about Doris Day singing toy land, Steve & Edie makes you feel like you     are really on a sleigh ride, and when the day is through, snuggle up as you watch the dancing flames in the fireplace because ‘baby, it’s cold outside.’ And just as much as we enjoy the old-fashioned music, we like the music from Home Alone. Its rick-n-roll makes me want to dance.
What’s your favorite holiday music?
Find How to create a Family Museum on Facebook and feel free to leave your comments there.  Thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

There is so much written about the history of Thanksgiving, I thought I would stray away from the usual and put a little twist on the celebration and entertaining, too. Posted on Real-Time News from Alabama, here are some facts, trivia and Thanksgiving Day facts:
Blame Thanksgiving for TV dinner – In 1953, the folks at Swanson purchased too many frozen turkeys ahead of the Thanksgiving celebration. Faced with 26 extra tons of the bird, the company decided to slice it, package with some vegetables and sell it on its own. The first TV dinner was born and American went nuts. 
Green bean history - Other than turkey and dressing, green bean casserole is probably the most iconic Thanksgiving food. The casserole, which usually contains green beans, cream of mushroom soup, French fried onions, milk and soy sauce was invented in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly at the Campbell Soup Company. The original copy of the recipe is now at the Inventors Hall of Fame.
How many Calories? The average person consumed 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day, enough to gain about 1.3 pounds. To put that in perspective, a 160-pound person would have to run at a steady pace for six hours, swim for seven-and-a-half hours or walk 45 miles to burn off the Thanksgiving dinner.
Ben Franklin and turkeys – In 1784, Ben Franklin wrote a letter to his daughter suggesting that the wild turkey would be a more appropriate national symbol for the U.S. than the Continental Congress' choice of the bald eagle. He thought turkeys were more respectable and "true original Native of America."
Gobble! Gobble! Baby turkeys are called poults. Only male turkeys gobble, therefore, are called gobblers.
Football and food -The Detroit Lions Thanksgiving day game is a holiday tradition. The Lions played their first Thanksgiving Day football game in 1934, when they hosted the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit Stadium. The game was broadcast via NBC Radio, making it the first national football broadcast. It made its television debut in 1956.
Who had the First Thanksgiving? Everyone has been taught that the first Thanksgiving dinner was held in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts, with the Pilgrims hosting the native Wampanoag tribe. HOWEVER, despite the popular conception that New Englanders held that first Thanksgiving in America, it actually was held in 1619 in Virginia, led by Captain John Woodlief of Peterly Manor, Bucks, England - more than a year before the Mayflower set sail for Plymouth.
History records that the first Thanksgiving occurred when Captain Woodlief - a veteran of Jamestown who had survived its “starving time” of 1608 and 1609 - led his crew and passengers from their ship to a grassy slope along the James River for the New World’s first Thanksgiving service on Dec. 4, 1619. There, the English colonists dropped to their knees and prayed as the British company expedition sponsor had instructed.

Thanksgiving at Berkley Plantation. Massachusetts-native President John F. Kennedy acknowledged Virginia’s claim in his official Thanksgiving Day Proclamation for 1963 and 100 years before that, President Abraham Lincoln, who visited Berkeley once, also acknowledged Virginia’s first-Thanksgiving claim. To this day, Virginia continues to commemorate its noteworthy event the first Sunday each November at Berkeley Plantation, the original Thanksgiving site.
And now for another original happening, make this Thanksgiving as well as all the other holiday events attended by family, to begin Your Family Museum. Start gathering up all the stories, pictures and memorabilia to be preserved and displayed. Organize groups within the family to do the collecting, make schedules to meet and assess where everyone is with their mission, for this is a mission every family should partake it, because after all, it is your history.                        Happy Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Anniversary Fun . . .

Yesterday was our 46th wedding anniversary. Keith & I and our kids, Tif & Charlie, spent the day together. The kids made breakfast and then we drove down to Virginia Beach’s convention center to see the Coastal Virginia Auto Show. We strolled through the aisles of fabulous vintage cars, took some
pictures and talked with many collectors who truly enjoy preserving automotive history. If we could we would own one of these restored beauties and take it on the road to nowhere in particular, just to enjoy the fine craftsmanship that went into these automobiles. After the show we went out to lunch
at a hotel restaurant that had two football games on big screen TV’s. Keith was delighted as we ate our burgers and watched the games. When we left it was still raining and instead of going back home, we took a detour off the highway and went to explore Fort Eustis,, a retired army base with its civil war fort
now in the process of being restored. Also located on the grounds of Fort Eustis is The U.S.Army Transportation Museum of U.S. Army vehicles and other transportation related equipment and memorabilia. The area still has residents that live in palatial homes built long ago. I believe they do a Christmas House Tour which we will definitely do.  
So now you may ask what does this have to do with a Family Museum. Everything. The auto show with its antique cars is an act of preservation. Touring the Civil War Fort and knowing that it is being saved is an act of preservation. And spending the day together is an act of family preservation, which is extremely important. Though there were no tangible things saved to put into our family museum, we did preserve the moment with pictures and memories.    

At the end of the day as my husband snuggled into bed, he asked himself this question as I was reading a book: “How did we get here, 46 years ago?” I looked at him, smiled and said, “Because we have loved each other for 46 years and look forward to every new day.” He acknowledged happily and before I finished the chapter, he was snoring peacefully. I closed my book, slipped into a nice warm bed, patted him on his shoulder and wished him a good night and told him I loved him. You may ask what kind of love is it that keeps on after all these years. It isn’t really hard to explain. It is a love that needs no measure, needs no questions or has any doubts, because it is what love is all about.
It’s just Love.        
Happy Anniversary to us!

P.S. Perhaps our next set of wheels?
We highly doubt it!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Family Tree & DNA

The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching. This family-gathering event is a great time to begin a family tree, if you don’t already have one or something that resembles one. I am not talking about drawing a picture of a tree with an assortment of branches that are labeled with a name and date of an ancestor. Though, this could be the start of the project and if there isn’t an artist among your family, just go to the internet where you will find a plethora of family tree charts that fit your needs, then print a few out so if mistakes or some confusion on dates, names, places, etc., should arise, you have a fresh tree to start growing your branches on. If a paper version of a family tree is not for you, you can create an online tree with genealogy computer software making it easier to organize, preserve and share your family history. It is also a direct link to missing information about
your roots. This project gets everyone involved and is especially rewarding for the young ones in the family to come to know and hear some stories about their relatives.

And as your family sits around the table enjoying a gastronomic feast, be it yourself or another family member bring up the subject of discovering your family’s DNA. The process of gathering your DNA is simple and extremely rewarding.  Everyone in the family can do it and it is a very satisfying project to embrace. Your DNA are the roots of your family tree. For some great advice and examples on how to do a DNA test, go to
There you will find everything you need.
I had my DNA done using Ancestry. And was I surprised at the results. Throughout my life I heard so many stories about family members, where they came from, where and why they settled in a particular place, and what they did for a living. On my mothers’ side I am Italian. On my fathers’ side I am Lithuanian. I grew up learning more about being an Italian than I did about being Lithuanian, of which to this day, I have little knowledge about that culture. So I embraced my Italian heritage and ignored the other. Then I had my DNA tested, and lo and behold, I am more Lithuanian than I am Italian. I had never been so surprised to find this out, which I am thrilled to have done, but unfortunately, I cannot share this discovery with my parents because they have both passed away. But now our children have mine and their father’s DNA passed onto them, and we are making sure they will know and appreciate their genetic composition.     
There is another ancestry program called Geno 2.0 Next Generation Genographic Project Participation and DNA Ancestry Kit. By participating you will discover the migration paths your ancient ancestors followed hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, with an unprecedented view of your ancestral journey. My husband participated in this program and was amazed to find the long journeys his maternal family travel. His heritage is half Norwegian, the other half German. Like me, he was brought up more Norwegian than German, but years later, he connected with his German relatives which has extended our family circle.

So when your family comes together, enjoy the bounty of good food and share your legacy. And don’t forget to put the memories of this holiday into your Family Museum. Perhaps the wishbone? Don’t break it this time. Wash and dry it off and keep your wish for a time when you may really need one.