Hot Apple Cider

During family get togethers, one of the hardest things to do is make time to visit with family, and not be totally consumed with cooking and making sure the table is ready, food is ready on time, and everyone has something to drink.

I like to make sure everyone has something they like, so I found that most of our family loves hot apple cider.  Our son was born in the winter (on my birthday!), and our daughter was born a week before Christmas!  Two wonderful blessings!  Every year, for birthday parties or Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, I pulled out my crock pot, and had a great hot cider ready to serve and making the house smell amazing!

This hot cider recipe can be put on 2-3 hours before you have guests coming, or let it simmer all day!  There are other combinations out there, but this has been a staple for us to serve, and it is so relaxing on a cold winter’s day!

Hot Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider

1 red apple

10-20 whole cloves

3 cinnamon sticks

Set the crock pot on high, and simmer the following ingredients for 2-3 hours, then on low for the rest of the day while serving guests.  Pour cider into crock pot, leaving enough room to place the apple. Place whole cloves in the apple, and add to the cider.  Place cinnamon sticks into the cider and heat.

Crock Pot Hot Apple Cider

Crock Pot Hot Apple Cider

After cooling completely, save any leftover cider in the fridge and you can heat a cup at a time for yourself the next day.

 

Family Recipe – Mama’s Hot Russian Tea

 

Our Mama was a nurse back in the day, met our Daddy when she was in nursing school, and then raised her two girls. This recipe was shared with her over 40 years ago, and it has become a go-to drink for our family. Rose was a fellow nurse and good friend for many years, and she shared this basic simple recipe for a hot delicious Russian tea.

I’m not sure where the name came from, and I think there are now many versions out there for an orange flavored spiced tea.  Most of the versions I have tried are all very good (I love most tea!), but this is the original one that started our family drinking and serving Russian Tea. It mixes 4 simple ingredients quickly without a lot of preparation.

Mama’s Hot Russian Tea

1 small jar of Original Orange Flavored Tang

1 small jar of powdered instant tea (with or without lemon flavor)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cloves

(2 cups of sugar if instant tea is not sweetened)

Mix all 4 ingredients.  Use 3 tsp. of mix with a cup of hot water.

Mama's Hot Russian Tea - Orange and Spice flavors

Mama’s Hot Russian Tea – Orange and Spice flavors

Tips: 

1 – Use alternate sweetener if you prefer (they weren’t available 40 years ago!)

2 – Equal amounts of Tang and Tea are used, so doubling the recipe is easy!

3 – We use each of the empty containers for tea and drink mix to store the Russian Tea mix, just dividing have the mix into each jar.

4 – My mama now also adds some lemon or orange flavored jello powder for extra flavor.

5 – Some recipes use fresh fruit when making a large quantity in a pot on the stove, for example, if you are having a party or get-together and need large amount of a hot beverage. Throw in some sliced lemons, oranges, or even pineapple for additional fresh flavor.  Great for a warm treat after trick-or-treating or a night of Christmas caroling!

 

 

 

Family Recipe – Dad’s Homemade Hearty Chili

Another family recipe that has been passed along from father to son is my husband’s chili!  He learned how to make his Dad’s chili and has been making it for our own family for the last 32 years!

This is another great recipe for cold weather or anytime you want a hearty chili that can be as spicy as you like!

When I’ve had a busy week, my husband is sweet enough to make his chili for us, and I add a pan of homemade biscuits to go along! This recipe makes enough for a family of 4-6, or enough for 3 meals for the 2 of us!

Dad’s Homemade Hearty Chili

2 pounds ground beef (browned and drained of grease)

1 medium onion diced

2 “Chili-o” or chili seasoning packets

1 can chili beans (hot and spicy)

2 cans tomato sauce

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. chili powder

Your favorite hot sauce (to add to taste)

Shredded cheddar cheese (add to the bowl)

Brown the ground beef in a large pan or soup pot.  Drain the grease and add the diced onion, the chili seasoning packets, the chili beans and the tomato sauce. Stir to mix well and cook on medium to combine for a couple of minutes. Add additional chili powder and cayenne pepper, stir and set the temp to low to simmer for about 45 minutes.

Dad's Chili simmering on the stove!

Dad’s Chili simmering on the stove!

While the chili is simmering, I prepare our biscuits so they will be hot and ready when the chili is done.

Dad stirring his chili!

Dad stirring his chili!

Serve up in bowls and add your own hot sauce if you like it very spicy, and feel free to sprinkle on some shredded cheese on the top! Hope you enjoy!

Dad's finished chili ready to garnish!

Dad’s finished chili ready to garnish!

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Dad’s Chili topped with hot sauce and cheese!

 

 

Family Recipe – Grandmother’s Whipping Cream Pound Cake

When I was very young, we lived at the beach for a few months.  It sounded like a nice transfer for my father, who was working at a newspaper here in the mountains of western North Carolina. It was just the 3 of us then, me being the first child. My mother and I explored sandy beach life for a few months until we returned to the mountains.  My grandparents and other family were still in the mountains.  Now that I’m a grandparent, I understand how hard it must have been on my grandparents to be far away from a first grandchild.

My father’s mother would talk to me on the phone, and I’m sure she was missing and worried that I would not remember her since I had not seen her in several weeks and months.  When we talked, so the story goes, she would ask me the same question many times.  She would ask, “do you know me?”.

Nomi” was the name that came out of those phone conversations!  When I began calling her by name, it naturally translated from  “do you know me“!  Another special memory she left us was some of the recipes and foods she liked to prepare.

One of those special recipes was for a Whipping Cream Pound Cake.  Now, there are lots of recipes for pound cakes and whipping cream pound cakes.  These type of recipes have been handed down through families for generations.  Recently, we decided to gather some favorite and traditional family recipes and create a binder to share with the kids and grandkids. We focused on some of the traditional foods that our family has eaten especially at holiday times.

Whipping Cream Pound Cake - All that's left!

Whipping Cream Pound Cake – All that’s left!

I already shared my Mama’s Dressing Recipe for Thanksgiving, and this is the recipe that Nomi used to bake for every New Year’s Day dinner.  The recipe is in her words as she wrote it out for my husband.  He loves to bake!  After Nomi passed away in 2002, my husband took up the torch and now makes it for our family during the holidays. The batter can be placed in a typical cake pan or can be divided into small individual cake pans for holiday gifts!

Nomi’s Whipping Cream Pound Cake

(click on the recipe to see all her notes)

Nomi's recipe in her own handwriting!

Nomi’s recipe in her own handwriting!

Start in Cold Oven!!

6 eggs

1/2 lb. creamery butter (2 sticks) (room temp)

3 cups plain flour

3 cups sugar

1 Tblsp. lemon extract

1 Tblsp. vanilla extract

1/2 pt. Whipping Cream. Use as it is, do not whip!

“Cream butter and sugar real good.  Add eggs 1 at a time, and beat thoroughly after adding each egg.  Alternate flour and whipping cream.  Add lemon and vanilla.  Pour into greased and floured tube pan.  Bake 1 hour and twenty-five min. at 325 degrees.  Start in Cold Oven. (I lower top rack down to second place in my oven.)  This cake is Grover and my favorite Pound Cake.”

Creamed butter and sugar.....

Creamed butter and sugar…..

Adding flour - alternating with whipping cream....

After adding eggs, Add flour – alternating with whipping cream….

Stir until completely combined.....

Stir until completely combined…..

Alternating adding whipping cream and flour...

Alternating adding whipping cream and flour…

Add lemon and vanilla extracts, stir and pour into prepared pan.....

Add lemon and vanilla extracts, stir and pour into prepared pan…..

Buttered and floured tube pan....

Buttered and floured tube pan….

Whipping Cream batter into prepared tube pan...

Whipping Cream batter into prepared tube pan…

Place in cold oven to start...with a little extra for a gift......

Place in cold oven to start…with a little extra for a gift……

All that was left! Great crust on top!

All that was left! Great crust on top!

Tip:  My husband continues to stir the batter as Nomi did. You might use an electric mixer, but it’s just part of the tradition to stir the batter by hand.

And it was!  She made it for “Papaw” every year, and is still one of our family favorites.  The cake turns out very moist (not dry like some pound cakes), and has a wonderful crusty top when finished baking. I like that the best!

We have found that it sometimes takes about 15 minutes longer than she called for (at least for our oven).  She was using the same oven and process for many many years!

 

 

 

Storytimes for Babies and Young Children

As a follow-up to my post on Nurturing the Love of Reading in Children, I thought I would share some information about places to take the young ones to hear stories and have some together time with other children. It’s a nice outing and chance to get together with other moms, dads, grandparents, and other caregivers. You can take away some new ideas for ways to share books and stories with your little ones!

Most libraries have some form of storytime sessions for young children, and some include sessions for babies and toddlers.  Many also have activity times with time to create art and toys with other children.  You can check at your local libraries for the times and days when the children’s librarians or local guests come in to do storytelling times with the young ones.  They will also have schedules for guest visitors that come in to share something about their hobbies or jobs or topics like animals, music or dance.

The links in my post from 7-1-13 include the libraries in our area (Western North Carolina), along with the link to Libraries around the country.  You can search by state and county for the libraries close to you.  Those links go to the libraries online websites as well as addresses and phone numbers so you can get their schedules for storytimes and activities. To find libraries in your area, go to http://www.pubiclibraries.com.

Our Local Storytime schedules:

Buncombe County Area Libraries (multiple sites)    http://www.buncombecounty.org

Mother Goose time (geared for babies up to about 18 months)

  •      West Asheville Branch – Mondays at 11:00
  •      North Asheville Branch – Tuesdays at 10:30
  •      Pack Main Branch – Tuesdays at 10:30
  •      Fairview Branch – Tuesdays at 11:00
  •      Black Mountain Branch – Tuesdays at 11:30
  •      Weaverville Branch – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •      Swannanoa Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •      Oakley Branch – Thursdays at 11:00

Toddler Time  (geared to 18 months up to 3 years)

  •     North Asheville Branch – Wednesdays at 10:30
  •     Skyland Branch – Wednesdays at 10:30
  •     Fairview Branch – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •     Oakley Branch – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •     West Asheville Branch – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •     Black Mountain Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •     Enka Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •     Pack Main Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •     Weaverville Branch – Thursdays at 11:00

Preschool Time  ( geared to the 3-5 year old group)

  •     Pack Main Branch – Mondays at 10:30
  •     Weaverville Branch – Tuesdays at 11:00
  •     Oakley Branch – Wednesdays at 10:00
  •     Black Mountain Branch – Wednesdays at 10:30
  •     Enka Branch – Wednesdays at 10:30
  •     Leicester Branch – Wednesdays at 10:30
  •     East Asheville – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •     North Asheville – Wednesdays at 11:00
  •     Fairview Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •     Skyland Branch – Thursdays at 10:30
  •     Swannanoa Branch – Thursdays at 11:00
  •     West Asheville Branch – Thursdays at 11:00
  •     East Asheville Branch – Saturdays at 11:00

The Enka-Candler Branch has a movement storytime for all ages on Mondays at 10:30, called Bounce’n Books.

Check with the local branches to make sure times are up-to-date.  Many more activities area held during the summer breaks, and there are additional groups for school-age groups. Check to see what is offered near you!

Here are some more local storytimes in our area:

Haywood County Libraries:     http://www.haywoodlibrary.org

  •    Waynesville Branch – 11:00
  •    Tuesdays –  Ready 4 Learning
  •    Wednesdays – Family Storytime
  •    Thursdays – Movers and Shakers
  •    Canton Branch – Tuesdays 11:00 Family Storytime
  •    Canton Branch – Thursdays 10:00 Rompin’-Stompin’ Storytime

Henderson County Libraries:   http://www.henderson.lib.nc.us

  • Bouncing Babies (0-18 months)
  • Toddler Time (18 months – 3 years)
  • Play and Grow (birth – 2 years)
  • Preschool (3-5 years)
  • Family
  • 4 O’clock Club (K-5 grades)

Check websites or call for locations and times.

Even bookstores may have storytimes in your area.  Around here, the two locations for Barnes and Noble have storytimes on Mondays and Saturdays.  Check for times.

This is a great free resource you can take advantage of whenever you want!  You can go once or monthly or even weekly, depending on your busy schedule!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Pointers for Parents – Emotional Health for Babies, Children, and Their Parents

Children really do learn to imitate what they see, hear, and experience from the people around them.  Some of it is wonderful and precious, and some of it, unfortunately, is not.

No parent has ever been 100% positive that everything they do is the right thing.  We learn by paying attention!  All parents have to learn along the way, because every little personality is different, just like their parents!

Here are 5 quick pointers that I have learned being a parent and a teacher. These are ways to be positive and help babies and young children learn that they are loved and taken care of.  These are ways to make sure there emotional health is taken care of.

We can feed and clothe a child, but if we aren’t paying attention to how they are feeling or how they are being treated, they won’t be happy or learn to trust others.

5 Pointers for Parents

  1. “Read Between the Lines”                                                       Observe the behaviors your child is showing.  Listen carefully to their sounds, their words, and try to figure out what they need, even if it isn’t obvious.  Behaviors and sounds mean something, whether we understand them or not.  Infants who cannot talk learn to communicate in many ways.
  2. “Use Positive Words and Tone of Voice”                                          Using positive sounds and words encourages your child to be positive in interactions with others, too.  Since all children are individuals, not “good or bad”, only their actions are “appropriate or inappropriate”.  Directly praise “good actions”, such as “good brushing”, or “you’re doing a good job keeping your feet on the floor”, or “thank you for trying so hard to tie your shoes”, or “I’m glad you said please”.  Try to tell children what action they are to do.  As they get older, you can ask them what they should be doing.  Avoid “no” and “don’t”, or they will remember and do those inappropriate actions.
  3. “Stay Attentive and Available”                                                            Be on the same wavelength emotionally as well as physically.  When taking care of household chores (cooking, cleaning) continue to listen and observe, and put down chores when necessary to “be there” for your child.
  4. “SMILE”                                                                                         When the so-called “terrible twos” begin (at any age!), adults tend to forget that the child will be a mirror of their important caregivers (family, friends, teachers).  Smiles, positive words, having fun, are imitated and copied; so are frowns, no’s, don’t, and whining.  If you want your child to be positive and listen, you also have to be positive and listen.
  5. “Enjoy Your Child”                                                                 Remember to enjoy your baby, your son, your daughter.  We can get so caught up in daily routines and problems that we forget to notice and enjoy all the great little gestures, facial expressions, phrases and movements that these miraculous little ones show us every day.  Stop and take the time to listen, watch, and photograph or “video” those wonderful moments that you can’t get back.  Time really does fly fast when we’re not looking!

 

 

Controlling Your Blood Pressure! — Low Sodium Choices

Now that I’m in my 50’s, the hereditary blood pressure has kicked in.  I used to have low BP as a rule, so this took me by surprise!  It shouldn’t, since my parents both have high BP (or hypertension).

After a hospital visit and follow-up doctor visits, I was placed on a minimal dose of medicine to control my blood pressure.  After the scare of wondering if I was having a heart attack, I gladly do what I can to make sure I don’t have one! I want to stick around and watch my family grow!

The medicine is doing its job, but I need to be responsible and do mine! Watching the sodium/salt in what I eat and drink is important and easy!  At first it seems hard to find low sodium foods, because there is so much salt added to prepared food products and restaurant menu items.

FIRST———————

  • I researched!  Be informed about what you are eating and drinking.
  • Read Labels!  If sodium content is listed as 5-10% or lower, then it’s probably okay if you realize that 10 items of 10% sodium is considered the total intake for the day.   If you already have high BP, your goal should probably be less than that.  If something has 30-40% sodium, walk away!
  • Easy online searches reveal sodium content in all kinds of foods, including soft drinks, condiments, canned foods, soups, and most packaged mixes.   I found these 2 sites helpful.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  http://www.lowsaltfoods.com                                                                 http://www.nutritiondata.self.com
  • Check out the restaurants you visit.  Most now have menus online that show nutrition content, and some have items identified as “healthier” or “heart friendly”.
  • Medical lab work showed that I had low potassium, even though I was already eating a pretty good diet, with fresh fruits and vegetables. But changes as you age affect those levels as well.  So it was recommended to add a banana every day.  Potassium levels apparently have an effect on how your body processes the sodium, so this is one of several things that can help regulate your BP!
  • I learned more about foods that provide protein, potassium, and other essential nutrients to maximize good food without increasing how much I eat.
  • Controlling my weight and increasing exercise also need to be higher on my priority list.

NEXT —————————

  • I acted on what I learned!  I could not ignore what I needed to do – mostly simple steps.
  • I started depending less on prepared, canned, boxed and frozen foods. I simply started using more fresh options, and NOT adding extra salt!  Other spices can add lots of flavor.
  • I read labels on everything I pick up in the store!  It has become an easy habit, and very eye-opening.  Many grocery stores have been adding more items that are labeled “lower sodium” or “no salt added”.  You still need to check the percentage of sodium.
  • My doctor’s advice as I walked out the door was:  Eat a banana every day, and don’t touch the soft drinks!  I also drink more water, like we all should.

So far, so good!  So………in summary, what has worked for me:

  1. Read labels.
  2. Cut out soft drinks.
  3. Don’t touch the salt shaker.
  4. Eat that banana, alone or with cereal.
  5. Check restaurant nutrition.
  6. Drink water and increase movement.
  7. See the doctor regularly to monitor any changes.

Disclaimer:  Remember!  I am not an expert, and definitely not a doctor. These are suggestions that have worked for me.  Hypertension/High Blood Pressure is not something to mess around with.  Please see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment that is best for you.  Check your blood pressure regularly, and see a doctor for regular checkups, especially if you are in your 40’s and 50’s.  Lots of changes occur and sneak up on you, even if you lead a healthy lifestyle!

 

Next time, I will share some ways to add flavor to foods without the salt! Check out my previously posted recipes, since most of them are already light on the salt!

 

Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

This has to be one of the easiest cookie recipes I have ever found!  It only has 3 ingredients and is easy to remember, too.  My great-aunt used to make these, and when I need a quick dessert with items I have on hand, this is it!

This is the only recipe for peanut butter cookies I have used for the past 30 years.  Even as a young mother, just learning to bake and cook, this one was super easy with great results!

Because the recipe is so simple, it is easy to double.

Aunt J’s Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

1 egg

That’s it!

Stir together.  Roll into small balls and place on cookie sheet (lined with non-stick mat or spray).  Press down with a fork to make the design and even out the cookies. Dip the fork in flour if needed to prevent sticking.

Bake at 325 degrees for 5-8 minutes, depending on  your oven.

TIP:  If you want to make a double batch, it may be easier to stir one recipe batch at a time.  Then mix the next batch.  It seems to go quicker, and is a lot easier on the arm muscles!

 

Nurture the Love of Reading in Children

Reading has always been a passion of mine, and my husband is blessed with the same interest.  We spend a lot of our time in bookstores!  I know my school years were more successful because I loved to read.

Reading opens up a world of ideas, places and people.  My parents encouraged our reading and I hope we have passed on some of that love of reading to our children.  Our oldest was reading long chapter books by the 4th grade.  Our daughter loved reading until a 5th grade teacher tried to control what she read, instead of nurturing her interest in reading.

In our home, we have shelves and stacks of books!  My husband and I collect many types of books, from classics to series to poetry to religious to children’s books.  We encouraged reading with our kids, and hope to continue to nurture that love of reading in our grandchildren.

WHEN is the Best Time to Introduce Books?

Now!     Mommies and Daddies!!  Singing and reading to babies should begin at birth if not sooner.  THe sound of your voices is familiar and soothing at birth.  During pregnancy, that growing baby is getting used to the rhythm and flow of your voices.  Your baby is learning to love the sound of your voices and loves to hear you speak, even if you are just reading a magazine article.  This is a major step on the way to learning to read!

WHAT Books to Read to Children?

Young babies love to hear simple rhythmic books, stories and songs.  They love to hear them over and over because it gives them a chance to start learning and remembering sounds and words.

When babies hear those words, those stories, see those books, they learn to connect them with a very special time — one-on-one bonding time with the most important people in the world — YOU!  Mommy and Daddy are Baby’s first most important teachers!

Bonding time - Holding and touching textures in a book about Tractors!

Bonding time – Holding and touching textures in a book about Tractors!

When you hold and sing and read to Baby, you are getting him ready to learn to read!

A List of Favorite Books for Children

I don’t sort this list by ages, because I don’t believe in limiting when kids like a certain book.  Many books are now in Baby Board Book form, so babies can touch, hold and chew!  As a teacher, I have taken picture books apart, laminated the pages, and given little hands a chance to hold, touch and turn pages. Then I could clean the book for the next hands.

Helping Baby hold and learn about shapes!

Helping Baby hold and learn about shapes!

Just to get the list started, these are some books I love and have shared with my kids and my students.  I ask you to add to this list with comments so we can share more books that nurture reading!

FREE book will be given  —–   Send in a comment on this post sharing your suggestion for a great children’s book or way to nurture reading in children.  One person will be chosen to receive a free children’s book!

My Starter List!

Brown Bear, Brown Bear                                       by Bill Martin & Eric Carle

The Carrot Seed                                   by Ruth Krauss & Crockett Johnson

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom                      by Bill Martin & John Archambault

The Giving Tree                                                              by Shel Silverstein

Goodnight Moon                                                    by Margaret Wise Brown

Green Eggs and Ham                                                               by Dr. Seuss

Harold and the Purple Crayon                                      by Crockett Johnson

Love You Forever                                by Robert Munsch & Sheila McGraw

More More More, Said the Baby                                     by Vera B. Williams

On the Night You Were Born (recordable)                         by Nancy Tillman

Poky Little Puppy                                                               by Golden Books

Puff the Magic Dragon                                                         by Peter Yarrow

Rainbow Fish                                                        by Marcus Pfister Herbert

Runaway Bunny                                                     by Margaret Wise Brown

Tales of Peter Rabbit                                                          by Beatrix Potter

Time for Bed                                                          by Mem Fox & Jane Dyer

Very Hungry Caterpillar                                                            by Eric Carle

Winnie the Pooh                                                                      by A. A. Milne

 

WHERE to Find Books?

The Library!      Go to your local library and check them out for free!  The following links are to some of our local libraries, with links to their children’s activities and story times. Some have annual book sales. The last public libraries link provides many links to locations of libraries around the country!

  1. Madison County Libraries – www.madisoncountylibrary.org   3 locations in Marshall, Hot Springs, and Mars Hill
  2. Haywood County Libraries – www.haywoodlibrary.org    4 locations in Canton, Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Fines Creek
  3. Buncombe County Libraries – www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/library/aspx   Main Branch in Asheville, 11 other locations throughout the county
  4. Henderson County Library – www.henderson.lib.nc.us
  5. Transylvania County Library – www.transylvania.lib.nc.us
  6. Public Libraries websites – www.publiclibraries.com     links to public libraries in each state, with links to local branches and phone numbers

Books for Less:   Wipe and clean before use.

  1. Goodwill and other thrift stores
  2. Yard Sales
  3. Flea Markets
  4. Independent and Used bookstores

Bookstores and Online:

  1. Barnes & Noble – www.barnesandnoble.com
  2. Books-a-Million – www.booksamillion.com
  3. Amazon.com – www.amazon.com

Places for Book Treasures:

Book treasures that are out of print, rare or hard to find can be found in used book shops and auctions.  A few places we’ve found…..

  1. Tuten Penland Auctions – Swannanoa, Buncombe County, NC – www.tommytutenandjohnnypenlandauctions.com
  2. Bookends – North Myrtle Beach, SC – www.bookendsonline.com
  3. Beach Book Mart – Atlantic Beach, NC – located at Atlantic Station Shopping Center
  4. Wolf’s Head Books – St. Augustine, FL – www.wolfsheadbooks.com
  5. Morehead City Book Shop – Morehead City, NC – www.moreheadcitybookshop.com

 

How to Begin Family Tree Research

My first rule of research:  You don’t need to spend money to begin discovering! 

When I began, I knew very little about genealogy websites and had no extra money to pay for special websites or research.  I was excited to find great advice and tips for free online, and there are some basic guides to be found in genealogy magazines, bookstores, libraries and online.  Some websites are totally free; some use trial periods and then charge; and some offer graduated plans, by the month or year. 

Genealogy societies and libraries can be wonderful help, and exist in all 50 states.  Many are organized by counties.  They are independent, usually depend on volunteer staff and donations, and have different types of resources, records and cost of dues.  Some offer research time for free, some have hourly costs, and partial year plans.  I personally joined the genealogy society in my county because much of my family originated here and I live here as well.  I have joined and paid dues most years, unless I did not have time to research and access their resources.  There are volunteers available to help you decide how to research your family. 

 

FREE GENEALOGY WEBSITES TO START WITH:

www.familysearch.org              

Many new upgrades to this site, making it more user-friendly and easier for beginning research, many databases that can be searched….

www.rootsweb.com

This part of ancestry.com gives free access to online family trees, tips for getting started, search engines and databases, links to resources, and the extensive World Connect Project….search but verify what you find, since trees may have mistakes or not be “sourced” well….

www.ngsgenealogy.org

National Genealogy Society, with resources and training, dates for conferences….

www.findagrave.com

Great place to find graves of loved ones, search through grave records, search for cemeteries, and some listings have additional family information and links to more people…..

www.obcgs.com

Old Buncombe County Genealogy Society – Local group that covers most of the western part of North Carolina, with extensive library of resources and great volunteers to help guide your research, bookstore, and several great speakers to present genealogy information during the year….

www.usgenweb.org

Volunteers working to keep research free, with links to each state genealogy project, which link to more local websites and resources…Click on your state, then to your county for more local resources….

www.archives.gov/research/genealogy

National Archives and Records Administration – resources for genealogists, tips, tools, free databases….This is where national records are housed, information on site for obtaining specific records (at a fee for locating and printing)….

www.cyndislist.com

Cyndi’s List, just what it says, lists under categories of aids for genealogy, supplies, forms, magazines and journals, websites for all things related to genealogy…

 

GENEALOGY MAGAZINES:  Some on store shelves, some online

Family Tree Magazine                 www.familytreemagazine.com

Family Chronicle                          www.familychronicle.com

Internet Genealogy                      www.internet-genealogy.com

More magazines and journals are listed on Cyndi’s List, especially if you are interested in research in countries outside the US.

 

There are several more websites that provide varying amounts of helpful guides on how to research.  They have examples of forms you can start with.  Although you can record a lot of details on your computer software, you still want to have some initial worksheets to start from.  This gives you a back-up in case of computer problems.

STARTING STEPS:

  1. I found a simple family tree chart and started with my own details – my name, my dates and places of birth, school, marriage and children.
  2. I added my own parents information, along with their brothers and sisters. 
  3. Work backwards one family at a time with as much personal information as you already think you know.
  4. As you work on your close family, gather copies of birth certificates, school diplomas, marriage and death certificates. It may seem unnecessary, but sometimes you find mistakes or differences in dates or spellings of names. And you may know the info, but others won’t when you’re gone.
  5. Record sources of documents, when and where you found them or who has possession of them.  (Who has the family Bible or copy of the grandparents marriage certificate?)  This is a good way to check back if other sources don’t agree.
  6. When talking with family and asking questions, I found some who did not want to share for emotional reasons, and sometimes that has to be okay!  If someone experienced childhood trauma of some kind, it is not always welcome to bring it up.  For example, one relative didn’t want to share the name of his birth father who abandoned him and his mother. Out of respect, his name is not in our family tree.
  7. Any information on a living relative should never be made public without their permission.  Many websites offer to help you build a family tree online, but details on living relatives should be off-limits.  I use my family tree software on my computer, but I have not published it. I have only made personal copies for our parents and siblings and other family members that want a copy.

 

For more on how to create a gift for your family, see my post Family Tree Binder.