Saturday, July 31, 2010

Want To Go Cemetery Hopping?

Have you ever tried to find an ancestor's information online from a headstone in another state, only to find that the cemetery has not been transcribed?  Most of the cemeteries in this country have actually not been transcribed.  Some of them have partial information and very few are completely recorded.  When you are searching and you find an ancestor buried in a fully-transcribed cemetery, it's like Christmas.  Sometimes you can even find someone at the county historical society or on one of the ancestry sites that will take a digital picture of the stone and e-mail it to you for free.  That's really hitting the jackpot.

I am registered as a volunteer to take pictures at three cemeteries in Coal County, Oklahoma, where I still visit every other week.  I have done this for three people in other states, and it's really rewarding.  Wish I could find someone in Honey Grove, Texas who could do the same for me!

To know that you have an ancestor in a particular cemetery, though, usually the person researching their family history needs to see an alphabetical listing online of the people in that cemetery.  And this is why cemetery transcription is so important.  Transcribing involves recording the name and all information and posting it on a website usually related to the county's historical society.  I volunteered to do this for one small cemetery, and it's a lot more work that you would think.  It took me a full summer, every other Saturday, about 2 hours per Saturday, and this was using a digital camera.  I simply took a picture of every stone, then recorded the information later when I pulled up the pictures on the computer.  Then I e-mailed the list to the Coal County genealogical website operator and I was done with it. 

Now we have the Cemetery Hop, which would be a lot more fun and faster, because it involves more people.  A group of interested local family history enthusiasts meet at a certain time on a Saturday morning at an agreed-to cemetery, and spread out to record their area.  Once done, the genealogy or historical society website posts the list and people all over the world can search to see if their ancestor is buried there.

In Oklahoma County the goal is to have all cemeteries transcribed.  All 4,500 of them!  Your county may be smaller and less daunting.  If genealogy is your interest, please do your fellow researchers a favor and help out as much as possible in your home county.  Check your county historical society to see what is being done toward cemetery transcribing, and how you can assist.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Happy Friday, everyone.  I didn't think it would EVER get here!

For the Dog Blog today, we have the cutest bulldog ever.  His name is Edgar, and although he looks a lot like a white lump with a tongue and a spot, he is actually a bulldog!

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello!  Hope your Monday is going great.  I'm going to take a little time off this summer, so the posts may be sparse for awhile - hit or miss.

Continuing our grilling recipes for the summer, we will look at grilling some fish today....

The outdoor grill is not just for veggies and beef.  Fish goes great on the grill.  Many people love salmon, and it is super-easy to throw a salmon burger on the grill.  Here is how....

Salmon Burgers


Ground-up Salmon
Seasoning of your choice
A little Olive Oil
Tartar Sauce

Add your choice of seasonings to the ground salmon.
Mix a little olive oil in with the salmon - this allows you to shape the patties easier.
Slap the patties on the grill.

When done, serve on buns slathered with tartar sauce.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Has Farmville Has Come Alive With Crop Mobs?

The emergence of Crop Mobs has been attributed by some to the popularity of the Facebook game Farmville, where players maintain virtual farms.  It has introduced many city folks to the wonders of farming without the hassles and sweat.

Crop Mobs are a pretty good idea, dreamed up by someone in North Carolina a couple years ago.  A crop mob is a group of urbanites who gather on a certain day at a local farm to lend a hand.  They plant, weed, harvest, or whatever else the farmer has for them to do.  They do this for fun, and to support their local farming community.  Sometimes they go home with some free fresh veggies, and sometimes, particularly during planting season, they don't.

For the very large farms that employ more mechanized farming methods, a Crop Mob might not be much of a help.  But for a local small truck farm, several hands could be a great assistance to the farmer.

Crop-Mobbers should realize that they are getting one day of an occupation that requires seven days a week during the spring, summer and fall months.  One day of planting does not a farmer make....However, I think that crop-mobbing is a good thing that raises awareness of our local farming community.

Facebook and other sites have contributed to the popularity of these groups by providing an easy way to schedule a date and get everyone together.  The blog has been instrumental in Minnesota in organizing Crop-Mobbing outings, and is full of good information on the subject.

Interested in Crop-Mobbing?  With Facebook and blogging, it's easy to get a movement started in your area!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

TGIF - Finally!  Here's a cute Schnauzer for the Friday Dog Blog....

This is Geina's cute little Schnauzer Lizzy.  Lizzy is wearing her best gray shirt for this picture and really knows how to pose for a picture!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Oprah Book Club Selection #4 - Fall On Your Knees

July's book on my Oprah challenge list is Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald.  It was a fairly easy read, with less pages than my previous books.  Fall on Your Knees is a complicated, sweeping novel that will keep your interest.  Will you like the book?  Read it and find out!

Fall On Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald. 2002. 512 pages. Touchstone.

Dark, dark, dark. If you love dark novels, you’ll go crazy over this one. The first line is a big hint – “They’re all dead now.” (That’s a great first line, by the way).

This novel was set in Nova Scotia, which attracted me to the book, since I know very little about this part of Canada. I was disappointed to find that the setting did not figure into the book – it could have just as easily been set in Texas. There were not many elaborate descriptions of wind-swept cliffs and eerie, creeping fog. MacDonald is no Charles Frazier, which is fine, but when a story is set in Nova Scotia you expect the locale to figure into the story at least a tiny bit.

The story is a sweeping account of a family, headed by James Piper. Piper is a complicated man with a number of imperfections and at least one extremely serious fault.

James, 18, marries twelve-year old Materia Mahmoud after a whirlwind romance. One of the enduring themes of the novel is the mixture of different people - different races and different cultures. The culture clash caused by this marriage results in Materia’s family disowning her. A combination of bad fortune and her husband’s abusive nature drives Materia into madness. It’s really difficult to review this book in depth from Materia’s madness forward, since anything else I say will give away some of the twists and turns of the story.

The book covers three generations of the Piper family and all of their troubles and afflictions.

The book explores incest, child abuse, race, religion, prostitution, and several more adult subjects. I can’t say the book wasn’t interesting and well-written, and if that is mainly what you are looking for, then the book is probably worth your time. For me, personally, it was too relentlessly depressing - the final quarter of the book was the only thing that moved it from a two-star book to a three.

Out of five stars, I give Fall On Your Knees ….
* * *  (barely)

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

How's your Monday shaping up?  I hope you are having a break from the hot weather - maybe a little rain?

Here is a recipe for a grilling rub that you can adopt and make your own.  It works for pretty much everything.  Store it in an airtight jar for no more than a year.

Tradition Grilling Rub:

4 t. kosher salt
2 t. chile powder
2 t. brown sugar - light brown is better
2 t. garlic powder
1 t. celery seeds
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. black pepper

Jar it up and you're good to go.  Makes about a quarter cup.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Do You Know Your Family History?

Family history is a lot like planting a tree.  When is the best time to start researching and recording your family history?  Ten years ago!  But seriously, if you haven't started this yet, now is the time to start.

When I think about the history that I let pass with the deaths of my great-grandmother, grandparents and various aunts and uncles, I cringe.  I have so many unanswered questions that could have easily been answered, had I just thought about it.  I did manage to record 10 minutes of VHS tape with my grandmother answering a few questions that I thought of on the spur of the moment.  They weren't the best and most probing of questions, but at least I have something.  She described Christmas during the Depression and experiences with the peddlers that came around the farms to sell their wares.  My two grandfathers and other grandmother passed away unrecorded and unquestioned. 

The younger you are, the better your chances of getting a full family history on DVD.  The trick is asking the right questions.  It's difficult to anticipate what you will want to know in thirty years.  Several of my ancestors died during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918.  My grandfather had mentioned this, and two of them are buried in the local cemetery.  What about my other grandfather's sister, who died during that period and left a husband and child.  How did she die?  Obviously there's a story, but it's lost to time.

Which of my ancestors fought in World War I and II, and if they didn't, why not?

I'm encouraging everyone to get their grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles on video, answering well-thought-out questions about your family history.  Even if that's all you have time to do right now, at least do that, please.  If you are Native American or African-American, this is of extreme importance, as your history is not as easily traced and is more dependent upon family stories.

During the summer, I will be posting some tips on capturing your family history and tracing deeper into your ancestry.  If you will commit to this as your summer project, you will thank yourself in twenty or thirty years!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hello....Time for the Friday Dog Blog again....

Sofi Schnauzer doesn't like inclement weather, so she makes sure she has her outerwear ready to go whenever it's needed....

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do You Have A Semi-Annual Cleaning List?

Continuing on the "cleaning for your mental health" theme, there are several tasks that only need to be done twice a year.  Here are a few of them....

Clean the oven.  Much easier if you have a self-cleaning oven...

Vacuum out your heat registers.

Clean your leather furniture.

Flip your mattresses.

Clean your throw rugs.

Dust your bookshelves, and the books.

Replace the box of baking soda in your fridge.

Clean out your freezer and discard the old stuff.

Clean your bedspreads.

Clean your stove hood.

As the seasons change, clean out your closets and give away any clothes that you don't wear.

Just set a day and take care of these tasks all at once.  They'll be over before you know it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Happy Monday, and here's another grilling post for you.....

To be a master griller, you need a signature rub.  A rub is a mix of seasonings and sometimes sugar that is "rubbed" into a meat or other item before grilling to give it an extra flavor boost.  It's important to not leave a rub on the meat too long, as it can draw moisture from the meat over time, making it drier.

Here are some tips on how long to leave a rub on a cut of meat....

For a steak, chicken breast, fillet of fish, pork chop or tenderloin, apply the rub 30 minutes before grilling.

For small foods like veggies or shellfish - 15 minutes.

For whole chickens or legs of lamb - 90 minutes.

For huge cuts of meat like whole hams or turkeys, leave the rub on the meat for about 8 hours before grilling.

Interested in making your own rub?  I'll post some rub recipes in the coming weeks.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some Things to Pack For Your Vacation

Continuing along the vacation theme this month, here are some more preparation ideas....

I love to prepare for vacation - to the point of making a to-do list and checking each thing off as it's done.  Even if you don't go that far, you should know what you should take along and make sure your travel bags have everything you need when your car rolls out of your driveway.

Here are some things to remember when packing for your vacation....

Gallon Zip-Loc bags are great for temporarily storing wet things such as bathing suits (but don't leave them in the bags for long or they'll get sour).

A plastic garbage bag folds up to almost nothing, and will hold your dirty laundry.

A Swiss Army knife can come in really handy.

A canvas tote bag will hold the tee-shirts and knick-knacks you buy.

Don't forget the tweezers and some safety pins.

Hopefully you won't need your insurance policies, but if you do, it's nice if they are in your bags.

Don't forget your passport if you are going into Canada or Mexico!

Go through your laptop case and make sure you have everything you may need, including necessary passwords.

If you are traveling along, download a couple of books from the library to your Ipod.  Books can make time fly when you're driving!

Consider investing in a device that will allow you to use your phone hands-free in the car.  Many states now forbid the use of cell phones in moving autos, but hands-free is usually allowed.

Think about putting a can of pepper spray in your console.  Just in case.

Hopefully your vacation will go smoothly and you'll have a wonderful time!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hope you're having a nice, cool Friday!  Here's a dog for the Friday Dog Blog...

Stefanie's Red Doberman Flash is wearing a pretty pink sleep mask.  It looks a little dog-chewed.  I'll bet there's a story behind this picture....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Do You Have An Annual Cleaning List?

Face it, we all hate to clean our homes.  There are some things that must be done daily, some weekly, some monthly, some every six months, and some only once a year.

I like the once-a-year tasks better.  Here are a few of them....

Replace your smoke detector batteries.  Boring, but necessary.

Wash your windows.  Yucch.

Have your furnace cleaned and checked.

Wash your drapes.

Clean behind the fridge.

Wash all blankets and comforters.

Wash your blinds.

Clean out your medicine cabinets and throw out the expired medicine.

Clean out and wash your kitchen cabinets.  Discard or give away any dishes or pans that you don't use.

What's important is establishing a routine that is right for you and your schedule and sticking to it.  The cleaning will be done before you know it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello....It's summer and it's hot.  We have a weekend coming up in about five days.  Great time to start planning a barbeque!  Continuing with our summer barbeque recipes, today we will have grilled peach cobbler.  Yes, grilled peach cobbler.  Why not?  You can grill just about anything, and what's better than peach cobbler?  Now, it may not be exactly like the peach cobbler that you cook up in your kitchen, but hey, it's grilled, and that makes it even better!

Grilled Peach Cobbler:

4 peaches, ripe and with the seed cut out, and each peach cut into eighths.
8 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 stick of cold butter, unsalted and cut up into little pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granola, any type
1/2 cup heated, prepared caramel sauce or topping
Slightly softened ice cream, vanilla

Cut 4  12 inch squares of aluminum foil while the grill is heating up to medium.
Divide the peaches equally onto the four squares of foil, and put an equal amount of butter, brown sugar and cinnamon over each.  Fold up the foil to seal all edges.

Place the foil packets on the grill and cover.  Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the peaches are soft and the butter is melted.

Let the peaches sit for 5 minutes after you remove them from heat.

Place the contents of each foil packet into dessert dishs, along with a scoop of ice cream in each dish.  Top with granola, then drizzle the caramel sauce.

This recipe serves four.  700 calories per serving (ouch, but you don't do this often, right?). 91 grams carbs, 7 grams protein, 85 mg cholesterol and 36 grams of fat.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!!

It's hot as a firecracker here in Oklahoma.  What a good time to wish everybody a happy 4th of July!!  Hope you have a great one, tomorrow!

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hello - How's your Friday today?  Hope it's going great so far....

Michelle's Shadow and Smokey are two of the cutest Schnauzers ever.  Awwwww........