Saturday, December 14, 2013

One Of My Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

One of my favorite traditional family foods for Christmas is English Trifle.  My family always has Trifle on Christmas Eve.  It honors our British ancestors.  It was also my Grandpa Dana's favorite.  My sister Amy isn't going to be able to be home for Christmas this year (she'll be reuniting with her husband who has been deployed for the last 6 months Yea!) so when we got together last week I made Trifle for dessert in her honor.

I actually made it a little bigger and created it in a punch bowl this year since we have so many teenage boys in the family.  Trifle bowls make them look beautiful too though.  We've made other Trifle recipies at times, but our traditional one is still my favorite. I thought I'd share it with you here:

Carpenter Trifle

10 ounces frozen raspberries
3 ounce raspberry jello
Dissolve in 1 1/2 cup boiling water and let jell in the fridge.

10 ounces frozen strawberries
3 ounce strawberry jello
Dissolve in 1/12 cup boiling water and let jell in the fridge.

2 3 ounce packages tapioca
Make according to package and cool.

2 to 4 cups vanilla ice cream
2 sliced bananas
1/2 large angel food cake broken into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup broken pecans
whipping cream

Layer jello, angel food, jello, icecream, bananas, more jello, tapioca, jello on top.  Serve topped with whipping cream and sprinkle with pecans. 

On my first Christmas away from home I was invited to celebrate with some friends who served a very similar Trifle for desert.  It was a Christmas miracle to me that year--like a love note from home.  Even though I wasn't home, Christmas was OK because I still felt connected and secure. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Did you hear my interview on Genealogy Gems podcast?

I had a great chat the other day with my good friend Lisa Louise Cooke about our shared passion for helping your family understand their past.  You can check it out on her podcast at  Go to PODCASTS > GENEALOGY GEMS PODCAST and click episode 162.

Lisa does such great work with her podcasts.  After you listen to our interview, I'm sure you'll want to check out the others.  Thanks Lisa for including me!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Family ChartMasters Holiday Gift Guide

From our Newsletter.  Something for everyone on your list:

Family history gifts can be some of the most meaningful things you can give your family at this time of year.  Family History is something only you share together.  It strengthens self-esteem, creates resilience and gives your family members a sense of perspective and control over their lives.  Here are some  ideas for everyone in the family: 

For Grandparents and Parents:

Help your parents and grandparents leave a heritage to their descendants and strengthen their relationships with them. 

The gift A Family ChartMasters Custom Chart will:
            • Honor your heritage.
            • Honor their sacrifices.
            • Show them how important they are to you.
Give a gift of a custom chart.  Start with a free consultation and we'll take care of all the particulars. 

Zap The Grandma Gap Books The Zap The Grandma Gap Book and Power Up Workbook will:
  • Help them pass on their legacy.
  • Strengthen their relationships with their children and grandchildren.
  • Give them 100s of ideas for passing on the family legacy and values.
Order now at

For Children, Grandchildren, Nieces and Nephews:

Strengthen your family relationships and help them forge a stronger self esteem.

My Ancestor Activity Books
            • Fun puzzles, activities and stories to learn about their culture
            • Resources on how to learn more about your ancestors
Order now at

new blank charts  
Fill in The Blank Charts
  • A fun activity for the whole family
  • Keep the family history out in front of the family
  • Fill in more information as you find it. 
Order now at

For the Genealogist:

Creating Custom decorative charts or simple working charts is easy with Family ChartMasters' help. 

$25 and $50 Gift Certificates Family ChartMasters Gift Certificates

It is our hope that learning about your family's past together can be a fun and exciting adventure and you will have a happy healthy holiday season.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend Sale on Zap The Grandma Gap Books

Holiday Deals to Save You Money
We've had a number of people ask about quantity discounts, so we've come up with some Thanksgiving weekend sales to help you save money. 
If you order this weekend, on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday and Cyber Monday, any order of five books or more will receive free shipping.  Offer good until midnight on December 2nd

And from now until December 9th,
any order of 10 or more books will receive one extra book.  This offer is good for any Zap The Grandma Gap books, including Zap The Grandma Gap:Connect With Your Family by Connecting Them to Their Family History, the Power Up Workbook or any of the My Ancestor Activity Books

We'll be taking the weekend off to be with our families, but we'll be shipping on Monday with plenty of time to get them to you for the holidays.
Order now  to wrap up a meaningful Christmas gift that will strengthen the modern relationships in your family.  No special promotional codes are necessary.  Check out excerpts of the books at

Monday, November 25, 2013

20 Questions for your Thanksgiving table.

(Crossposted on the Visit Salt Lake Blog and the Family ChartMasters Newsletter.)

No matter where you go, it is always wonderful to be home with family and friends for the holidays. So I have a few ideas for you about how to learn more about your heritage this Thanksgiving. Whether you are with family, or friends or both, here are 10 questions that will get everyone talking.
  • What are the most important lessons you've learned so far in your life?
  • What was the greatest time of joy in your life?
  • Who were your favorite relatives? Do you remember any of the stories they used to tell you?
  • What has been your favorite family tradition?
  • What personality traits do you admire and how have you tried to develop those traits?
  • What was the biggest turning point in your life? Looking back, how would you have dealt with it if you had known what you know now?
  • What was your most embarrassing moment? 
  • Is there anything you have always wanted to do and haven't?
  • How would you describe your sense of humor? What was your all-time favorite practical joke?
  • What message would you like to leave your descendants?
(Excerpted from  Zap The Grandma Gap Power Up Workbook: The Particulars About How To Connect With Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History.)

Did you know that Friday the 29th of November is the National Day of Listening? StoryCorps, the sponsor of the day asserts that "It's the least expensive but most menaingful gift you can give this holiday season." Here are 10 more questions from the National Day of Listening website:
  • What is your earliest memory?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • When did you first fall in love?
  • How did you know they were "the one?"
  • What is your first memory of me?
  • What were your parents like?
  • How would you like to be remembered?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • Why did you decide to become ______?
  • What makes us such good friends?
I think you will learn alot from these questions and maybe hear some interesting stories you hadn't heard. You may want to record the answers for posterity or upload them to the StoryCorps website. Hopefully everyone will come away with a greater sense of everything there is to be thankful for. Here's wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Announcing New Zap The Grandma Gap Workbooks for Youth

I am so excited to tell you about our latest project.  I've been working lately to fulfill a vision of mine and it is finally coming to fruition.


The Zap The Grandma Gap "My Ancestor" Activity Book Series for Youth

The first four books, My British Ancestor, My Civil War Ancestor, My Swedish Ancestor and My German Ancestor are 52 page activity books designed for 6-14 year olds with puzzles, activities, games and recipes combined with questions and learning opportunities about specific ancestors and the culture that surrounded them. Timelines, paper dolls, coloring pages, maps, fairy tales, music, dot to dots and crossword puzzles combine to give youth the full picture of what their ancestors’ lives were like. Check out some of the sample pages:

You can see table of contents and more sample pages at the Zap The Grandma Gap Blog and Website.

I've had the great privilege of developing these books with my sister Amy Slade.  She has spent last 10 years traveling extensively studying folklore, dance and food and culture around the world and recently received her Masters Degree in Folklore from George Mason University.  She was the perfect fit to help me bring these books into reality and I'm so thankful that she saw the vision of what I was trying to accomplish and was willing to let me talk her into helping.  I'm so thankful for her excitement about these books.  And I'm so glad we were able to spend more time together working on them.  Love her so much!
My German Ancestor (ISBN 978-09888-548-5-7), My Swedish Ancestor (ISBN 978-09888-548-4-0) My Civil War Ancestor (ISBN 978-09888548-3-3) and My British Ancestor (ISBN 978-09888-548-2-6), (Family ChartMasters Press, $9.95, 52 pages, 8.5x11, paperback) are available for preorder at
When pre-ordered now, the books will arrive in time to prompt questions around the Thanksgiving table. Or they can become the perfect Christmas gift for children and grandchildren that will create stronger bonds in modern families by encouraging the whole family to learn about their ancestors together.

As always, thanks to Kim and Erin and Lara and Jenn for their support at Family ChartMasters while I have been working on this dream of mine.  I hope they add to our overall mission here to help genealogists inspire their family members with their family history.  We know how important it is to invest your own family in their past, and we're working hard to give you the resources to do that. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Holiday Deadlines

We've figured out the holiday deadlines for those of you like me who might like to wait till the last minute.  In order to guarantee your chart by Christmas, you'll need to take note of these dates:

Decorative Charts with an online preview:
6th December
Working Charts with no online preview:
13th December

If you don't mind paying rush fees, you can submit your information by these dates:

Decorative Charts with an online preview:
12th December

Working Charts with no online preview:
18th December

We'll try to accommodate any chart orders after these deadlines as best we can, but if you want to get your chart in time for sure, you'll need to make sure everything is submitted before these dates.

Looking forward to printing the perfect chart for your family.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One Week Early Bird Sale

If you are like me, you don't necessarily appreciate seeing Halloween decorations in the store in August, and Christmas decorations in October.  But I do like the peaceful feeling that comes when you have everything ready early for the holidays and you know you can relax and just enjoy being with your family.  So at the risk of jumping the gun, we'd like to extend an offer to all you early birds out there to help you feel better knowing you've saved some money too.

 So for one week we are running an
Early Bird Sale for 20% off any chart 
until October 30th
Send in any genealogy file and we'll get started on your family history chart early so that we can have plenty of time to work back and forth with you and make sure everything is perfect before we print.  You can start the process with our free consultation and we'll get back with you with options on prices and sizes for what you are looking for.  Then, if you want an online preview, we'll send you an email and we're happy to collaborate to get your chart exactly the way you want it.  With our new backgrounds, and all of our flexible designs, we are sure we can come up with a beautiful art piece that will help you share your family history with your family and get them excited about their roots.   

Let us make it easy on you.  Sit back and relax and let our designers do the work.  We'll create a stunning representation of your family history that your family will love.  Call us if  you need any help getting started.                                                                             

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sample Charts With New Backgrounds

We've been playing with these new backgrounds and creating some sample charts.  Over the years, we have been getting better and better at displaying your family history in a graceful way.  We've used these backgrounds for a few clients already, even combined with beautiful maps, grayscale or sepia pictures, and with pretty titles, they are turning out gorgeous.  I've even done some new charts for our house with my own family history.  Let us know if we can get started on one for you today

Monday, October 21, 2013

New Backgrounds

To get ready for the holiday season, and give you lots of new options for beautiful family history art pieces for your wall, we've hired a designer to create some new backgrounds for our decorative genealogy charts.  We've given them names so that you can easily tell us which one you like when you order.  Take a look:








Any of these designs can be arranged to fit fan, bowtie, left to right or any other format.  This is the Julia background reformatted for different file types.


So we are ready and waiting to get to work on creating a beautiful chart for your family gatherings this holiday season.  We can't wait to print a masterpiece for you.  The closer we get to the holidays, the busier we will be, so now is a great time to get started.  You can send us your information for a free consultation at 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Extreme Genes

I haven't been blogging much for a bit here because I'm working on another new project that we are just about ready to release.  But in the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new radio show all about family history called Extreme Genes.  It plays every Sunday night and you can listen to it tonight over the web at 8pm Eastern at and through iHeart Radio
Scott Fisher is a popular radio host that I've listened to for years and it turns out he is an accomplished genealogist.  He has started this new show and I was privileged to be among his first guests.  We had a great time talking about charts.  You can check out this and other podcasts of the show at his website And you can follow the program at

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Reviews and Signings

If you watch me on facebook, you know that last week I got to do a book signing at my alma mater--in the college bookstore.  Sweet.  Throughout my bachelor's and into my Master's in Library Science, I spent many, many happy hours in that bookstore and I own lots of books I bought there.  It was really fun. 
Funny how that signage meant so much to me even when we can create signage like that anytime.  :) 

The book is getting great reviews.  We've updated the reviews page on  Check out all the reviews that have come up about the book at  A few reviews have been added to as well but none have been registered at Barnes and  If you have seen any other reviews that I've missed, or if you would like to add one at either of these sites, we'd love to have your input.  Thanks so much!

Wisdom from My Dad

You know a little about my wonderful Father from the blog posts I've written about the traveling we've done together.  I am really blessed to have a great Dad and I know how extraordinary that blessing is in this world.  I wish everyone could have a Father like mine.  My parents, my husband, my children and my sisters are truly the greatest blessings I have.  That's probably why I work in family history and I've devoted so much time to helping people figure out how to use family history to create a close family like I am blessed to have.  (We drive each other crazy often--but they are still really great.)

Back to my Dad--  He is currently working outside of London which is part of why I was able to take him on his very own Who Do You Think You Are tour of his family's history this year.  While he's been there, he has written us alot of emails--not just your everyday "this is what's going on" emails, but pearls of Fatherly wisdom for my sisters and I and our kids.  Yesterday the email was about family history so I asked him if I could share it with you here.  Then you get the benefit of my great Dad too :)  This is it..

Dear Family:

Printed on the edge of every two-pound coin in England is the phrase "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants."  I think the British are pretty smart to put it there.  It gives us something to think about.  Each one of us stands on the shoulders of those who went before us -- of course our parents and grandparents, but also those who established and fought for our freedoms, our way of life, and our heritage in the church.  We are very blessed by those who went before us. 

The more I learn about history, the more I appreciate that I was born when and where I was born.  I have so many blessings that I did nothing to earn, develop, or create -- electricity, air conditioning, cars, computers, and all the wonders of science and technology.  I also received a rich heritage of freedom and liberty, knowledge, books, literature, music, and chances to go to school and learn about things in the world. Through the gospel, I have been given knowledge of spiritual and eternal truths that I would not have gained on my own, without the scriptures and prophets.  It just makes me thankful.
It is a humbling thought that each of you stands on the shoulders of your parents, and your parents stand on the shoulders of their parents.  Your children will also stand on your shoulders.  It is comforting to me to know that you are building strong shoulders on which to stand -- even you grandchildren -- because your children will need a strong foundation on which to build their future.

I just thought this was a cool statement for a coin, 

Is he awesome or what?  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

WIFFAC--Southern California and Ownership of my own family history

If you've been reading this blog for very long, you know my Mother's family comes from Southern California and I love going back there every June for the Southern California Genealogical Conference.  I've written many times about being able to explore my own family history and being able to take my children back to see where my Mom grew up.
Teenager Update--Family History Trip
Come See Us In Sunny CA
Nama--My Independent Spirit
And most recently about this trip on the Zap The Grandma Gap Blog at Taking My Daughter On A Family History Trip

This time I took my daughter and her friend and we had a wonderful time.  We went down to the Santa Monica Pier three times--an important place in my family's history.  We rode the carousel, and the Ferris wheel and walked around the pier.  We checked out the house where my Mom grew up, her schools, her neighborhood, the church she attended and where my Mom and Dad's reception was, the temple they were married in, the beaches where we hung out when I was a little girl, the Westfield Culver City Mall, and lots of other places important to our history.

But the best part was something I've been talking alot about with my kids and family history.  I wrote a recent blog post about it over at my ZapTheGrandmaGap Blog.  I gained real OWNERSHIP this year.   My phone battery wasn't cooperating, and the charger in the car was cooperating even less, so I had to really figure out the lay of the land without my GPS.  Like I wrote about last year, we had stopped by the neighborhood many times, but my parents were always driving, or we were following them in the next car.  By the time we went back and forth between Burbank and Westchester and Santa Monica several times this year, I was starting to feel like I really knew the lay of the land for myself.  I can't really describe how important that was for me.  I felt ownership of my family history and I felt connected to Southern California like I never had before.  I felt more a part of that history and those people.  I felt empowered to be able to connect them to the future generations.

So there were lots of awesome things going on at SCGS this year, great talks with the other vendors (as usual) my lectures went well, and a great venue and great people.  As always, the Southern California Genealogy Conference was fantastic this summer.  Paula and Leo and Viki and their team do such a fantastic job every year.  Jamboree is a great asset to the genealogy community.   But this year I was really focused making my own family history--having my daughter and her friend there, and getting an opportunity to really invest her and myself in my matriarchal family.  And that is priceless. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Named to Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites List Again!

Woohoo!  Thanks to Diane and Alison and their team for the love.  Another award to add to the 2011 award they gave us.  Check it out:

Learning to cook like my ancestors did--What I did over the summer


This summer my kids and I volunteered up at This Is The Place State Park.  We had a wonderful time and learned so many things about the past.  We volunteered several years ago when the kids were little and I was always so impressed by what you can learn by reliving the past.  My ancestors were pioneers and it really makes their lives become real in so many details.  It is a great way to teach my kids some gratitude too.  I wrote Plan to Visit a Living History Museum recently for Family Tree Magazine.  There are just so many things you can learn from a Living History Museum. 

I've been getting to know this stove. It is a cast iron stove that we've been demonstrating cooking with.  We have made rolls, and cookies and pies.  It has been good food and lots of learning.  But mostly it has been alot of appreciation for what the women before us went through to feed their families.  Besides the kitchen garden, besides cleaning and gutting the animals, besides making everything from scratch, using a stove like this is a big deal, a really big, time consuming, complicated deal. And that's after all the work of collecting and chopping the wood. 

The fire box on this stove was on the upper left and the oven was on the right.  You could feed wood into the side and into the front of the fire box.  Making the fire is really tricky, you have to be sure you are allowing enough air through so that the fire gets hot enough.  And different kinds of wood create different temperatures in the stove.  I suppose if I lived with it all the time, I would learn all of that but it was really tricky to get it to the right temperature this summer.  Once the oven is hot enough the burners on the left are your high heat, the burners in the middle are medium and the burners on the right are lower.  When you bake something in the oven, you have to turn it 1/2 way through so that it cooks evenly on both sides.  Dealing with this oven was like having another child.  It took several hours to heat it up to the right temperature, quite a long time to cook and then once the oven was cool, you needed to clean out all the ashes to make it ready for the next day.  It took two shifts of women all day just to produce a couple of items.  I can't imagine having to make three meals a day on it.  You wouldn't have time for anything else. 

One of the things I really learned to appreciate is that our ovens are insulated and cool to the touch on the outside.  Not so with this one.  It would have been quite a job to keep little kids away so that they don't burn themselves.  And then of course, it heats the house up really hot--which is great in the winter I'm sure, but really hard to handle in the summer.  It was soooo hot.  I don't know how the pioneers ever had cooked food in the summer but I do know why my ancestor's journals talk about the summer kitchen. 
It is a huge project to cook in this oven.   And then you have to do the dishes. I really missed the running water.  We had to bring in water from the back, make sure it was heated.  And then we had to wash and rinse every dish by hand.  It worked, but it took all day.  I'm sure it took every bit of energy every day to make the food for their families.  I have a whole new appreciation for women of the 19th century.  We all come from a strong lot.