27 January 2017

Feline Friday

 After a long hiatus, Neighbor Kitty stopped by to visit. (Whew! I had been worried about him!) I was gone at the time but remarkably, Spouse took these pictures of him making his presence known at our sliding glass door. Luckily I made it home just in time to chat with the big guy -- Neighbor Kitty, not Spouse! haha
This handsome tuxedo kitty REALLY wants to come inside for a visit. Of course, that's not allowed, but it doesn't keep him from peering in and meowing insistently. He's just the friendliest kitty ever!

 Truth be told, I think he would like to be Neighbor Kitty Boyfriend (through the door, of course), but the girls are having none of it. Lily acts like she can't even see him, which only makes him meow louder. But Tinsel absolutely hates him and will fight him through the glass. Even though he means no harm, Neighbor Kitty's presence is a threat to her turf!
 Sorry, bud...you'll have to look elsewhere for a girlfriend! The two girls in this house are not swayed by your manly charms! :)

26 January 2017

Genealogy Binders: Organization

 After a few evenings of sorting though photos, obituaries, and random family records, I finally got Grandma's genealogy binder in relative (bad pun alert!) order. The binder is HUGE and represents just my dad's father's side of the family. Grandma also researched her own family but I have yet to delve into those materials.

I'm a big believer in getting stuff organized and in this case, it was time very well spent. As I mentioned in my previous post, having a tab for each family member makes all the difference. I used the "extra wide" tabs which extend out beyond the plastic sleeves. Best invention ever! :)

My great grandfather was one of 12 children, so one of the tabs belongs to him. He in turn had seven children (my grandfather being one of them) so that particular section of the binder is the largest. I'm mainly interested in my direct lineage so it's the most important section to me.

I separated Grandpa's section into seven parts, one for him and each of his siblings. I used Post-It notes along the top to create tabs for each one so their information could be organized a little more clearly. In the process of looking through the binder, I learned that Grandpa had two siblings who passed away -- he lost an infant brother and a sister at age 8. I'm sorry I didn't know more about his family while he was alive.

   I found a very handy document in Grandma's binder called a Descendancy Chart. I wish I'd known about this chart years ago! It would have helped me figure out who was who around our town and how people were related to me, something that has perplexed me throughout my life. This chart lists the patriarch of the family as "1", his children as "2", their offspring (and spouses) as "3", etc. I wish I'd found this chart earlier in my organization process because it makes it much easier to file information when you can quickly scan for a name!

I made a separate binder for the correspondence Grandma had with far-flung family members. One relative has done quite a bit of research and provided a chart which takes my great great grandma's family line back a generation to Prussia. So I now have the name and basic information about my great great great grandma and her parents.

I even found a map of where she lived! I'm anxious to connect with this gentleman on Ancestry.com and see what else has been learned. Discovering my "roots" is what interests me the most in this process.

This photo of my great great grandfather is likely the oldest one I have for this side of the family. For now, I've just tucked these photos into temporary sleeves. Obviously the newspaper articles will need to be copied as well for preservation purposes.

Although when I started this project my intent was to make some heritage scrapbooks, I'm so happy I took the time to organize Grandma's genealogy binders first. I can easily draw from this information to create meaningful scrapbooks. In the process of organizing Grandma's information, I've re-affirmed my interest in learning my family's history. I will be a good steward of Grandma's records, and I know that would make her very happy!


24 January 2017

New Project: Heritage & Genealogy Albums

 My great grandpa Peter Paul Gulling and my great grandma Emma (Trader) Gulling

I've decided that 2017 is the year to get some important projects done. Like many of my friends, I have LOTS of scrapbooking to do but at this time I especially want to focus on heritage albums, a new endeavor for me. I've actually been doing some prep for this project since I brought home boxes and boxes of photos from my parents' and grandparents' houses a few years back. But now is the time to get those photos out of the boxes and into albums that can be enjoyed!

I have already sorted my heritage photos into boxes for each side of the family/family member (click HERE for that project). 

  Tubs of photos, organized in folders

  I have also created "life binders" for important documents related to my grandparents (diplomas, birth certificates, etc.) - click HERE for a post about that. I also have a box of very old snapshots from my dad's side of the family that will eventually make their way into the albums.

Life binders for my grandparents

I gathered all of that stuff together to start planning this first heritage scrapbook. My plan has always been to transfer those "raw materials" into scrapbooks and as I looked through everything, I could see that the prep I've done is going to make that task much easier. 

I decided to start by organizing the heritage album(s) into sections -- one for my paternal grandpa's family, one for my grandma's family, and a final section for their married life. I sorted the main photos into those three piles then slipped them into temporary sleeves in a scrapbook, separating the sections with dividers.

As soon as I started, I could see that I was going to need more information to create this album -- I'm terrible with names and dates! Thank goodness my late grandma came to the rescue for me -- I knew that her genealogy albums would have all the information I need. But I soon discovered that my heritage album project just got a whole lot bigger! :)

My grandma, who passed away at age 102, was the keeper of family history. Over the years, she had compiled genealogy binders with meticulously handwritten details for both sides of my dad's family. Grandma and I talked about her genealogy records often and since she knew I was interested in the subject, she told me I could have all of her binders when she died. Of all the gifts she could have given me, this one is absolutely the most precious.

But in later years, Grandma hadn't kept up with filing her genealogy information. In retrospect, I should have helped her get it organized while she was still alive. There were letters from far-flung relatives and newspaper clippings which hadn't made it into her system. Pages had fallen out of her binders and family information was mixed up. Her pages were not numbered and I couldn't figure out her system. I could see that I would have to get her binders into at least some semblance of order before I could create this scrapbook.

 As I tried to decipher the way she had organized her binders, I began digging through her boxes of genealogy records. There I discovered a very old family history notebook compiled in 1939. It was falling apart but the pages were numbered, making it easy to re-assemble. I suddenly realized that Grandma had copied that notebook and used it as the "structure" for her genealogy binders! Each family has its own series of pages, and Grandma added details to those pages through her clippings, photos, and other documents to fill out each family's history.

The most important page of the book is this one, which lists my great great grandparents' 12 children. Each child has a set of pages detailing marriages, offspring, and deaths. This was the key to Grandma's system: Her binder pages were to go in this order. YIPPEE!
Since this is my "master" list, it's going to be handled a lot while I work on this project so I need to keep those pages safe. I put them in protective sleeves and clipped them into a sturdy binder.

When I first brought Grandma's binders home, I attended a genealogy class and asked how to organize her information. The instructor suggested using extra-wide divider tabs for each family. At that time, I didn't even know if I could get that far, but as soon as I discovered the master book, I could see my way through the forest! I created a separate tab for each of the 12 children in my great great grandparents' family, my great grandfather being one of them.

 I matched up Grandma's information to the master book and started assembling her "new" genealogy album. The tabs make all the difference! Now it's super easy to locate information by sibling.

 Grandma's binder contains many, many clippings which eventually should be copied onto acid-free paper. But for now I'll settle for getting them in the proper order.

In going through these binders, I found all sorts of very cool stuff, such as my great grandparents' marriage certificate, my grandma's diploma, and copies of my great great grandfather's military enlistment papers. For someone who is interested in family history, Grandma's binders are a real treasure. I am absolutely thrilled to have them...especially now that I can make sense of them! :)

Grandma's research was all done the old fashioned way so I will use online resources to add detail to her family records. It appears that we have many extended family members who have done research so it's just a matter of tapping into that information.

 So my plan is to incorporate pieces of grandma's genealogy binders into my heritage scrapbooks. A good example is this family tree which traces my grandpa's family back to the 1600's in France. When I was studying in France during college, my parents came to visit and I took them to a cemetery where some of our relatives are buried. I have photos from that cemetery visit which will be a nice addition to the album.

So stay tuned for more on what promises to be a fun project! Now that I have my reference materials more organized, I can start this heritage scrapbook with confidence. At the same time, I have so much to learn that I feel like I'm on a voyage of discovery. I'm excited to get started!

20 January 2017

Feline Friday

 One morning this week, Lily gulped down her breakfast. I could tell by the look on her face that the meal wasn't going to end well, so I confined her to the laundry room -- away from carpet. 

Suffice it to say I was correct. A little while later, I opened the door to assess the damage and saw that it was ugly. So ugly, in fact, that Lily had jumped up on the counter to get away from it. :)

Just look at that face. 
The picture of innocence...NOT!

  But I knew the real reason Lily was up on the counter. After ever "URP" moment, Lily seeks out fabric to lick. It must provide a bit of comfort to settle her tummy. Usually she licks one of her blankies. This time, with her blankie unavailable, she chose the laundry that was hanging above the sink. 

Lucky Spouse! Lily chose his shirts to lick!
(Needless to say, those shirts were immediately re-laundered!)

13 January 2017

Feline Friday: Yoga with Rory

 In honor of my daughter's birthday today, it seems fitting that this Feline Friday post should feature Rory the Yoga Cat.

Bailey was recording a recent yoga practice when Rory discovered her phone perched on the couch. Hilarity ensues. :)


Love these girls! :)

09 January 2017

Yoga in the New Year

I started doing yoga one year ago using the yoga mat my daughter bought me for Christmas. I knew it was something I needed to try, but I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to do it. As it turned out, I really enjoy doing yoga and believe that it has helped me in many facets of my life.

My daughter has been my yoga inspiration. She started yoga while finishing up her college experience and began doing it in earnest during her student teaching semester. Now she has graduated to more difficult online classes -- two to three each day before and after school. She would tell you that yoga has greatly increased her strength and flexibility and I'm sure it has improved her overall well-being, too.

One thing I've learned is that yoga works better for me when I do it every day, even for a short practice. I started out last year doing yoga once a day but by the time summer came, I found myself slipping into an "every other day" routine, opposite the days I went to the gym. In retrospect, I lost continuity and momentum by skipping those days. And skipping one day of yoga made it all that much easier to skip more than one, I'm sorry to say.

When the new year came around, I was definitely ready for a re-set, and this time my mindset is to do things RIGHT. I'm enrolled in another free online yoga class with 31 days of practice, each one building on the day before. And as of Day 10, I've kept up with it every single day. YAY!

I've tried videos with a few different online instructors and Adriene is my favorite. I like her sense of humor, the pace of her classes, the way she explains positions, and her holistic approach. Find her website, enroll in her free class, and you'll get an e-mail each day with a link. Or you can go straight to YouTube and start now. It's that easy! 

There's a calendar which helps you keep track of where you are and lists the "theme" for each day. Each class lasts around 30 minutes. I love that I can do yoga in the privacy of my house, with no one but the cats to see me!

 Bailey bought me a set of yoga blocks for Christmas. While I managed to practice yoga last year without them, the blocks make it much easier when a particular pose is just out of your reach by "raising the earth" up to you. 
 Even though I can't do everything Adriene teaches in her classes, I'm trying my best and slowly seeing improvement. Thanks to my daughter for the yoga inspiration! If it weren't for her encouragement, I probably never would have tried yoga at all. 

 Here's to finishing this 31-day class and continuing on with my yoga journey! If you're curious about yoga, give it a try! You have absolutely nothing to lose...and potentially so very much to gain!

08 January 2017

Curbside Christmas Tree

Last spring, I found this brand new pink tabletop tree on the curb during our neighborhood clean-up day. I'm not a fan of pink, so I spray painted it with cream paint.

These photos from Pinterest were my inspiration.

It was my first time spray painting "tinsel" and I must say it was slow going. Every time I thought I was done, I'd rotate the tree and see a bit more pink! 

Still, I am happy with how it turned out. After it dried, I put the tree in the basement until it was time to decorate for Christmas. I wondered how the spray paint would hold up over time, so when I got it out to use I was relieved that the tinsel was not brittle! 

Tree Painting Experiment = Success!

I really had no idea where I'd end up putting the tree but as it turned out, I had room for it in our bedroom. I set it on a stool that my dad used in his garage. This stool was YUCKY but cleaned up pretty well. I may paint it at some point but for now it is John Deere green. :)

I decorated the little tree with a few ornaments to pull out the colors in the quilt I placed at the foot of our bed.

I was surprised at how many ornaments it took to decorate this tree...and I could have added more! I picked up a package of inexpensive blue ornaments on sale at Target to help fill in the gaps.

I think this little tree turned out pretty well, considering how it started! I may try it in a different room with a different color scheme next Christmas. 

YAY for curbside treasures!

06 January 2017

Feline Friday: Rory's New Sweater

Our daughter was home over Christmas (loved every minute!) but Rory had to stay in Texas. Rory's cat sitter takes excellent care of her and even brought her treats on Christmas! But of course, Santa still left a few goodies for her because she has been SUCH A GOOD GIRL!

When Bailey got home, Rory enjoyed her own private Christmas!

 Spouse and I stopped by PetSmart before Christmas to give Santa a hand with his shopping and, to my surprise, he took an interest in picking out a new outfit for Rory! She has grown quite a bit since last Christmas and many of her outfits are getting a bit small. I suggested a sweater because those Texas winters can get cold (haha!), so he set out looking for something acceptable. 

I had to laugh because as Spouse combed the store, he was specifically looking for an outfit that would be long enough on Rory, properly covering her growing body. (It was a bit like a protective dad shopping for a not-too-short dress for his daughter!) We can't have any inappropriately dressed cats running around, you know! :)

After evaluating several options, Spouse selected this adorable cream cable-knit sweater which is plenty long to cover her bum and tummy.

It even has some sparkly gold threads which made it a PURR-fect choice for New Year's Eve! (I'm not sure she stayed awake for that but at least she looked cute!)

Here she is posing in the closet where Bailey stashed a soon-to-be opened birthday gift. Rory is just waiting for the empty box. :)

 Rory's fur is very short and she seems to be lacking a real undercoat, so no doubt she does get cold at this time of year. The new sweater covers her tummy and keeps her warm!

 The sweater is such a pretty color with her fur and eyes!

What a long neck we have, especially when there's a bird to watch outside! 

With her new longer sweater, our little Rory is surely the best dressed kitty in East Texas! :)