Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gift Certificate Sale

So, here we are, after the chart order deadlines for Christmas and Chanukah deliveries and you're in a panic. I've been telling you all month, I am here for you. I've got you covered in so many ways that you may just want to add me to your nice list. While we can't get a chart to you by Chanukah or Christmas at this point, we can get you some gift certificates right now. Right up until December 25th. On sale, too. I know, right?!

Gift Certificates are awesome because they are so easy and they ensure that your family or friends get exactly what they want.  Sometimes people are intimidated to create charts for others because they either don't have access to the files themselves or they aren't sure which lines to include/exclude, or they are worried that what designs their family and friends would like.  Have no fear. Gift certificates were invented for these very reasons.

So just for you, I am running a sale on gift certificates from now until December 22nd. Even if you are a wait-until-the-last-possible-second kind of shopper, you can get an instant gift that doesn't come with a killer price tag. From now until December 22nd, I am offering 25% off of all gift certificates. That means you can give a big ticket item, and still keep 25% of the cost in your pocket. It's so easy and you can print the gift certificate directly from your computer immediately after purchase. Not to mention your loved ones still get a meaningful gift, to their exact specifications, with only a few mouse clicks from you. You save money and get all of the praise without the hassle and sweat. This is absolutely the best way to go as Christmas and Chanukah approach.

Order anytime from December 18th through December 22nd to save 25% off of your entire gift certificate order and then instantly print your gift certificates from your home computer! You'll be the star of the show and you didn't even have to leave your house. In fact, you can order them right now, in your pajamas and slippers, and nobody will know the difference. Let me help you make it a great holiday season at your house. Or your mother's house. Or your Aunt Edna's house. Wherever the gift certificates are going, take comfort knowing that we will help your friends and family create the perfect chart that will last for generations. That's the best kind of gift around, if you ask me!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oh, How I Love Webinars

I am very excited to announce that I have been accepted to present in two different webinar series in 2015.  I love webinars because they are convenient and can reach so many people across the world.  And, as audience members, you can even attend them in your pajamas and slippers.  There's no judgement here, folks.

The first series I am thrilled to be part of is sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society.  The series for 2015 is titled GROW What You KNOW.  My presentation will be held February 18, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., MST.  I'm joining with many leading experts within the genealogical field and I feel very honored to have been invited to be part of this series.  Be sure you take a look at the schedule and register for my webinar, along with any others you find interesting.

The second webinar series I will be part of is sponsored by the Illinois State Genealogical Society, in conjunction with FamilySearch.  My participation won't be until November but there are great webinars held each month that you can start registering for right now.  Be sure to take a look at the schedule and start marking your calendars.

I really am thrilled to start taking part in more webinar series and it's kind of a big deal for me, so I wanted to share this exciting news with each of you.  So as this year winds down and we all start looking forward to next year and the classes and conferences we each want to attend, be sure to sign up for a few (especially mine!) that you can attend without ever leaving your house.  It's just too good to pass up.  I hope you'll join me!

Friday, December 12, 2014

My Top Ten List for Why You Need a Chart

Today I thought I'd do a little reminder.  Although people understand what I and my company do, I am not sure people always understand the variety of uses for the products my company, Family ChartMasters, provides. So, as a result, I have come up with a "Top Ten List" of sorts on the many reasons and uses for the purchase of a custom Family ChartMasters chart (decorative or working-they both have endless possibilities). Some of these ideas are from a previous post.

1) Track your database. We get feedback about this all the time. One customer said "I can finally see all the work I've spent all these years doing." And it makes sense, right?  We genealogists put in hours upon hours of work but rarely give ourselves the pay-off of seeing it all on display. A decorative chart is a fantastic pay-off!

2) Impress the in-laws. We had one customer this Christmas write us back and tell us that her previously cold father-in-law had spoken to her for the first time in years after her gift of a chart on his ancestry and descendants. He appreciated her efforts and she was thrilled. If a chart can thaw that kind of deep freeze, there is some serious mojo behind it!

3) Join two families. A step family chart, or a wedding chart is a great way to celebrate the start of a new life. I can't imagine a better way to display the merging of two families.

4) Get people to come to the family reunion. Some of the most spectacular charts that we do are large family reunion charts with pictures. Sometimes these can have 100's of pictures on them. We always hear back that when you contact everyone for a picture, they all have to come see the chart. And often that will pull them in to the family history--which brings me to...

5) Collect information at a family reunion. I always say, and have never been proven wrong, that when you see something wrong or missing on the chart at a family reunion you have to go get a pencil. I actually went to a family reunion of my own once where the organizers didn't want anyone to write on the chart. Instead, they wanted you to send an e-mail. It about killed me not to add in my sister that was missing. Even your Aunt that doesn't want anyone to know her birthday will put it up on a chart. Working charts just cry out to be edited.

6) Inspire yourself. I'm betting most of the people reading this post have never been to one of my lectures. I often tell about a time, several years ago, when I was late for an appointment and trying to get ready to leave town the next day when I walked into the house to find the washing machine pipe had broken and our main floor was under 6 inches of water. The water was draining down through the furnace and our basement was about 4 inches under as well. Of course it wasn't a day when the house was clean and as I went through the house in a panic picking things up, I happened to look up on a wall where a picture chart was hanging. In it I saw my ancestors who had crossed the plains as pioneers, farmed in the desert, lived through the depression, and made all sorts of sacrifices for me. In that moment I had a peace and a perspective come over me. This wasn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things; I had insurance, it would be fine. And even through the next two weeks as workers ripped out our kitchen and recarpeted everything al while my daughter was in the hospital (it was perhaps two of the worst weeks of my life), I went through it with a much greater sense of peace and gratitude.

7) Share the genealogy you have collected with someone else. There is nothing better than a chart to explain research that has been done to someone who wasn't involved. I'm hoping that I will inherit my mother's work in a nice color-coded filing system with a matching color coded chart. If not, maybe my kids will get it. (Yeah right.) So, the least I can do is pay it forward for future generations and create a chart so the visual is there, easy to read, and ready to build upon in further researching down the road.

8) Inspire your kids. I want my kids to know where they came from, and the decorating in our home reflects that. Once, not to long ago, when my son wouldn't finish a book report, I jokingly reminded him that he descended from the very prolific Pratt family and he had it in him to stick to the task and finish it. He knew he wasn't getting out of it. Poor kid. But at least I, as a parent, had a ready to prove display on hand to say, "See, I'm serious! You can do it."

9) Appreciate someone. This one kind of goes with #2. We do lots of charts for anniversary parties, retirements, 80th - 90th birthdays and etc. I can't tell you how special people feel when they see the time, care, and effort that goes into a chart honoring them and their family. It's one of my favorite parts of creating charts--hearing how touched someone was to receive it as a gift.

10) Explore a new database. Getting a file out on a chart is a great way to see what is in someone's file that you received from a database. We at Family ChartMasters can print from any genealogy file. A working chart of a new database sent to you by a third cousin or a great aunt can help your productivity in further your research because you can see it and annotate and make notes as you go. It's a no-brainer.

So there is my top ten suggestions for why you need a Family ChartMasters custom made chart in your home or to give as a gift.  The holiday season is upon us and charts make the perfect gifts for family, friends, and for yourself. Be sure to contact us today for a free consultation and we can still get a chart out to you in time for Christmas.  We look forward to creating the perfect gift or keepsake for you soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Introducing My New E-Books

At long last, for the first time ever, I am pleased to announce that all of my Zap the Grandma Gap books and workbooks are now available in e-book form! It was a bit of a curve ball for this traditional librarian to decide to go digital, but with great thanks to my employee, Christine, I am ready to offer you all portable versions of each of my books, including my three brand new workbooks.

With hundreds of live links to all of the best genealogy sites all over the web and instant delivery, these e-books are sure to be a hit with your family members.  We hope this new delivery system will make it even easier to share your family history with your family members. 

And to celebrate this exciting milestone, I am offering an introductory sale on all of the e-books. If you missed out on the 20% off pre-order sale, have no fear, I've got you covered in a couple of directions with this new sale. We currently have two offers to help you spread the family history bug this holiday season:
  1. Purchase a hard copy of any of my books or workbooks and receive the e-book of that same book for only $1.  This is a great option for giving a book and keeping a book. You can't beat a little personal reward for just a dollar, can you? Just place the order for a hard copy book and then order the same book in the e-book format.  Click on over to your cart when you are ready to check out and the e-book will automatically be adjusted in your cart to only $1. 
  2. Purchase 5 or more e-books and receive 50% off your entire e-book order. Say you've banished paper books from your house and only live by your iPad? No problem, I've got you covered! The more you buy of my e-book editions, the more you'll save.  Buy multiple copies of the same e-book to share with your children or grandchildren, or purchase one of each just for yourself, it won't matter because you'll receive 50% off and you'll be saving tons! On this offer, you'll need to enter the promotional code "Zap5HalfPrice" and the sale will automatically appear in your shopping cart. Kind of like magic but more like computer programming.
I'm doing my best to lessen your trips to the store this December and e-books just can't get any simpler. They are great for gift-giving or for personal reading when you have a few spare minutes (on the bus or train, while you wait for your car's oil change, in the doctor's office, in line at the store...). Take a moment to review all of my Zap the Grandma Gap e-books and add some to your digital reader today. Order extra copies to send to friends or family. The more you give, the more you save! Win-Win for everyone, if you ask me.
The digital e-books will automatically arrive with a downloadable link directly to your email address (all books are .pdf files). The link is not sharable, unless you purchase multiple copies of the book (this is where our multiple copy sale comes in). The copyright on these e-books are for personal, home use only. However with our hard copy/digital copy sale, you can easily keep the print version and send on the e-book copy on without any concerns over copyright issues (or vice versa). Hopefully both sales will give you plenty of flexibility in all of your gift-giving needs. Grandma's love to send the digital copies to their children to use in their own homes and then keep hard copies for when the grandkids come to visit. One sibling can purchase multiple digital copies of the books or workbooks, for all of his or her brothers and sisters, so everyone can share in the joy of researching their family heritage. Or keep all of the copies for yourself as a secret hat trick for when family comes to visit you! The possibilities are pretty much endless. And yet the results are ultimately the same: helping you and your family connect to your past ancestors in order to build stronger bonds right now.

Let us know how it goes with your family members.  We love to hear about your successes in sharing your family's history with the next generations.  Thanks for helping us share this important topic and strengthening families.  We hope it strengthens your relationships--especially at this time of year.  Happy holidays from all of us!

Monday, December 8, 2014

We Make Grandmas Happy and In-Laws Proud

A Chart for Shelley Bishop and her family.
It's official, we're in full-swing holiday season preparations at my house and here at Family ChartMasters. Everyone is, though, right? Decorations are up, greetings are coming and going, and you are looking at your gift list wondering what to give your grandma or your persnickety (maybe, maybe not) in-laws. Let me help you with that last one!

I have been saying it for years (years!) that we are your best, one-stop, make 'em all happy, gift-giving helpers. Decorative charts are the way to even the biggest Grinch's heart. Guaranteed to grow someone's heart at least three times! In fact, a few years ago, I heard back from a customer who told me that her father-in-law hadn't spoken to her in almost 30 years (Um... !!!) and then she gave him a decorative chart for Christmas one year and it all changed. She suddenly became The Golden One. Dramatic, but true story. It never fails, too, that each year I have a newlywed or two that want to make a good impression, and I am usually on speed dial. I love helping in situations like these. Because my business is all about tying family generations together. And what better way to secure present bonds than to remember past bonds. It's family history magic of the most powerful kind.

And don't get me started on grandmas. We love, love, LOVE grandmas! Smiles abound, and maybe even a few tears, when you present grandma or grandpa with a multi-generational chart of their family's history. They see where they came from, and then they see where their family is going. To have a solid footprint in the midst of all of it, on display, belays so many fears and concerns of being forgotten or unappreciated. In fact, in some of the research I am doing, I found a study that shows how family history research helps the elderly to feel more secure in themselves because it eases their fears of being forgotten. So a chart for grandma isn't just a chart, it's absolutely, scientifically proven happiness too!

Take a look at some of our past happy customers. I think their faces say it all, but you can decide for yourself:

The Bishop Family "before"...

...and AFTER! Smiles everywhere!

These are some pictures Shelley Bishop sent us from a chart we did for her a few years ago. It was so neat to see how excited everyone was over this gift. So not only were the recipients happy, so were the givers!

And here are some more happy folks, thrilled with their gifts too. I really love being part of so many smiles! As you can see, decorative charts are home runs with everyone, but especially in-laws, grandparents, and friends. Let us help you spread the family history cheer for someone in your life. Contact us today for a free estimate. Let us help you make some happy memories this year!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Resilient Coping and Your Kids

By now, it should not be a secret that: A) I am presenting at Rootstech 2015 and B) I am doing a great deal of research on the scientific benefits of genealogy on youth. The more I prepare for my Rootstech presentations, the more excited I get to share all of this information with all of you.  Be sure to stop by my presentations, or our booth, to talk to me and let me know what you think about the topics I'm presenting. I am particularly pleased with all of the data I am gathering on the scientifically proven benefits of genealogy on young people. The documentation of improved intellectual and emotional performance in relation to family connections is fascinating.  Of course, I have been saying it for years, so maybe I just like having scientific evidence to finally back me up. You know, something to show my kids and say, "See, I told you genealogy will help you!"

As a result of my focus on this topic, someone pointed out something to me the other day on resilient coping in young people.  The original article can be found here and it is an interesting read.  Linda Graham is the author of the paper and the idea behind The 5 C's of Coping.  She talks about discovering these 5 C's during her 20+ years of practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  The 5 C's are as follows:

  • Calm - Staying calm in a crisis can help us cope with what is happening to us.
  • Compassion - Keeping an open mind and heart can help us view our (or someone else's) situation with compassion and helps us use past experiences to be resilient in current circumstances (she goes on to list how to do this, step by step, in the original source).
  • Clarity - Seeing the situation from different perspectives (and with compassion) can help us to be flexible in moments of stress or trial.
  • Connection - Seeking help allows us to connect to personal resources (family, present and past).
  • Competence - Learning from others allows us the ability to become adept at alleviating personal suffering with effort and mindful practice.
Do you see a pattern with these 5 C's and families? We can all learn, and then in turn teach our youth, how to successfully navigate personal trials through sharing family history and personal family narratives. Can you imagine the power a story of an ancestor who struggled through The Great Depression, or World War II, or another difficult life event, could have on a young person? The idea that he or she is related to someone who suffered or who was frightened or who was overwhelmed and then endured is enough create a sense of Calm, Compassion, Clarity, Connection, and Competence--all in one felled swoop.  It's like packing a parachute for your child. Sharing your family history and family narratives is their back up pack, in case the first attempt to pull the cord fails. You've given them the ability to recall, and then lean upon, the experience of another person that has had a direct influence on their personal ability to succeed in life. 

I don't know about you, but I know that I am always looking for ways to cope a little bit better with life's curveballs.  And this list of the 5 C's of Resilient Coping is a nice, neat, little cheat sheet for that. And I know that if you've met me, and spent any time with me, you'll know that I often talk about experiences where I was overwhelmed with something in my life and then remembering an ancestor, or a family line, helped me to realize that everything was going to be fine--if my family had gone through far worse things and came through stronger for it, so would I!

So, then, the real question is: how do we instill these principles in our children? Easy. Start young. So many people think genealogy is a "grandma hobby." It isn't! We've got to be the ones who change that stigma, however. If we act like our children and grandchildren are too young to "get it," well then, they'll behave in the exact same way! So we have to be on our toes to find ways to be creative and clever in how we introduce our children and grandchildren to family history. Stories are always a sure bait. Children love stories. So tell them stories about you, your parents, your grandparents. Just talk with them and find common ground where you can share and they can learn. Playing with your children and grandchildren is another great way to get them involved.  Pull out some old toys or books you had as a child, play dress up in some old clothes in that cedar trunk in the attic, or teach them the games you played as a child--you know, the ones that didn't involve remote controls and televisions. These are all easy ideas to get you started. 

And lucky for you, I have made it even easier with my Zap the Grandma Gap Books and Activity books.  Each work book I have created is targeted to a specific family heritage.  My newest books (out in time for Christmas gift-giving) focus on Jewish, Mormon, and Pioneer histories. These have been added to my line of British, Swedish, German, and Civil War histories. For parents and grandparents, I have my book and power up workbook to give you ideas, help, and hints to close the genealogy gap in your family. It seems too easy, but truly, something as simple as a fun activity workbook is enough to spark your child's interest in their family history and then you are on the road to helping your child develop the 5 C's and become a more resilient person. Your children think they are just playing games, solving puzzles, and coloring paper dolls. But you and I both know that they are connecting to who they are and where they come from. And believe it or not, down the road, that may make the difference in your child "bouncing back" from a hard life blow, or "being out for the count." It's critical for us to give our children a fighting chance from the start. And knowing who they are and where they came from is the most powerful ammunition we can give them.

I hope you'll take advantage of my pre-release sale on my new workbooks (and all of my other books), to add to your gift-giving this year. If you order by November 30, 2014 you will receive 20% off of your entire order. New books and previous books alike. That is a great deal that won't last much longer! Stop by and take a look at some of the offerings each book and workbook have in store for you and your young ones. The best thing about my activity books is that your children don't even realize they are doing family history! They are just having fun. It's a simple and small thing that will lead to much bigger and better things down the road (the 5 C's of resilient coping is just the tip of the iceberg). Trust me, it's one gift you won't regret giving your child or grandchild this year!


STRENGTHEN RESILIENCE: Developing the 5 C’s of Coping: Calm, Compassion, Clarity, Connections to Resources, and Competence. Linda Graham, MFT -

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Mormon Ancestor

We're so excited to show off some more details about our new books.  Today we are going to focus on the "My Mormon Ancestor" Activity Book.

First I have to give another big thank you to my sister Amy Slade for her help with this book.  Also, many more great thanks to Erin Roudabush, Michelle Phillips and Christine Fazulyanov for their assistance in making this book happen.

With the “My Mormon Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
· Plan an Ancestor Family Home Evening
· Learn about Priesthood Line of Authority and how to trace it
· Find the Patriarchal Blessings of your ancestors
· Complete a temple dot-to-dot
· Document the church service and callings of your ancestors
· Gather information on your family’s missionaries
· Record information about the first LDS members of your family
· Make a handkerchief doll for church
Look at some of these pages:

These books make wonderful gifts for the holidays. Take advantage of the pre-release sale, 20% off all books at, till November 30, 2014 and they will arrive in time for Christmas. Other great online and print resources to help families connect to each other by connecting to their past can be found at

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Decor

It's November and I am in an absolute attitude of gratitude lately.  And, I am going to do my best to keep that attitude going strong throughout the whole month.  I'm doing a couple of things in my personal life that are helping me to keep my focus on gratitude and journaling that gratitude.  Two birds, one stone.  And an extra twinge of gratitude for that.  But there are other things that I could do to help my family feel the gratitude all month long, so I turned to my handy Pinterest account for some inspiration that is not only useful, but beautiful.  And I found some really great ideas that I want to share with you.  Take a look at some ways that you can decorate around your home with family history.  I promise you'll not only like having a visual of your heritage in front of you, but you'll be reminded to keep a grateful heart for those who came before you and all that they did to pave the way for you in your own life.  Two birds, one stone.  And a twinge of gratitude. :)

The first thing I loved for Thanksgiving was this idea of a Framed Heirloom Recipe and Photo from Modern Parents, Messy Kids.  Genius, I tell you!  Genius! MPMK has got it all together with this one--they even give you a step by step tutorial and links (some links are affiliate links, so if you have concerns about that, just be cautious where you click).  And the result is really simple and beautiful.  In fact, this is such an easy project, you could gather together several recipes and photos and pull them all together for your Thanksgiving Day celebration.  Especially if you are using the recipes in your feast, how awesome would it be to decorate your home with these framed versions of the recipe and the originator of that recipe?  And, to up the notch on your host/hostessing credentials, make swag out of the frames once the dinner is complete.  Allow family members a chance to choose their favorite frame to take home, or have a drawing if some frames are desired by more than one person.  Either way, you can't go wrong.  Family Feast decorations that will go home with others in the hopes of perpetuating your family narrative to future generations.  Two birds, one stone.  And a twinge of gratitude. (You'll be singing that line by the end of this post.)

Now this one, I really loved.  What do you do with all of those old letters sitting in a box somewhere?  Well, hopefully they are digitized and filed away safely on a portable hard drive.  But then the originals, what do you do with those?  What about frame them?  (under archival glass so that they are protected from the sun and spaced away from the glass so that they don't get stuck together.) This is an idea from Pretty Stuff by Patterson Maker's tumblr and it's a beauty.  There is just something about seeing the curve and tilt of someone's handwriting.  In this day and age, with digital screens and endless fonts, it's rare to see anything handwritten.  But so many years ago, letters were the text messages and Facebook posts.  Can you imagine placing several handwritten letters around your home for visiting family to look over and read?  And, if you are one of those who has more letters than you really know what to do with, follow the advice from the paragraph above and give the completed frames away as heirloom favors to your family members (after you have digitized them for your own records, of course).  This would also make a stellar Christmas gift, if you're looking for ideas. Sharing a physical piece of family history with your loved ones in a beautiful manner-- say it with me: Two birds, one stone.  AND a twinge of gratitude. Definitely.

Do you use a specific set of dishes each year when your family comes for dinner?  What about if you shake things up this year?  Family story dishes are easy to make and would create some great dinner time dialogue!  I pinned it but I can't find the direct source of this idea, only a media cached picture.  However, these days I think we are all familiar with the Sharpie on Dollar Store dishes DIY craft.  If not, here are several tutorials here, here, here, and here.  (To name just a few.)  The general idea would be for you to write family stories on your dinnerware and then set the table with these dishes.  Or, an even better idea is to use this year as your prep year and have the dishes ready and have everyone write their family story/memory on a plate or mug and then use them next year.  *The only side note on this is that this craft is a fickle one.  It works for some and not for others.  Michelle did this once for a secret sister gift for her daughter to give away and had one failed attempt and one successful one.  You can read her personal experience tip here.*  Family stories recorded in a unique way and a conversation starter.  Go ahead, say it for me.  Don't you feel better?

And finally, I am absolutely going to do my best to do this one for my Thanksgiving gathering.  The original idea came from a guest spot by Giana (of Chic Celebrations) on the wedding planning/idea blog Ruffled and can be adapted for any kind of gathering.  Naturally you'll want to make copies of your precious photos for this project.  But it's so doable, anyone can whip this up in a short time.  It's also a great activity to include your children in (choosing the photos, handing you the photos in whatever order they like, etc).  A strip of muslin, family photos (post cards, letters, paper momentos; the list is endless), and a hot glue gun.  Seriously a no-brainer project that will knock the socks off of your dinner guests!  And can you imagine the conversations this beauty will start?  An easy and meaningful centerpiece for your holiday gathering.  Two birds, one stone.  And I'd say just a smidgen more than a twinge of gratitude on this one.

Hopefully this post has given you some ideas to stage your Thanksgiving dinner in a way that is not only stunning but personal.  With just a little bit of prep time (most of these projects would only take an afternoon and are all very kid-friendly if you have helpers nearby), your home can really stand out in meaningful way this holiday season.  Try out one of these tips.  You might just add me to your "thankful-for" list when your mother-in-law tells you how lovely everything is.  Maybe just a twinge? :)

My Pioneer Ancestor

We're so excited to show off some details about our new books.  Today we are going to focus on the "My Pioneer Ancestor" Activity Book.

First I have to give a big thank you to my sister Amy Slade (who just had a baby!) for her help with this book.  Also great thanks to Erin Roudabush, Michelle Phillips and Christine Fazulyanov for their assistance in making this book happen.

With the “My Pioneer Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
 ·Map out the pioneer route of your ancestors
· Decide what you would pack for a journey across the plains
· Learn how to find direction by the sun
· Compare your day to the day in the life of your ancestor
· Try classic pioneer recipes
· Write a Pony Express letter to a pioneer ancestor
· Play a game about the risks along the trail
· Contrast pioneer schools and modern schools
Look at some of these pages: 

This book will arrive in time for Christmas gift giving if you order now. Take advantage of the pre-release sale, 20% off all books at, until November 30, 2014. Excerpts from all of the books can be viewed on the website at Other great online and print resources can be found at
to help families connect to each other by connecting to their past.

This post crossposted to

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Jewish Ancestor

We're so excited to show off some details about our new books.  Today we are going to focus on the "My Jewish Ancestor" Activity Book. 

First I have to give a big thank you to Schelly Talalay Dardashti, Daniel Horowitz, and Tammy Hepps for their feedback.  All three were so generous with their time and help and the book is much better because of their contributions.  I am indebted and in awe of their genealogy expertise. 

You can take a look at the entire Table of Contents in our preview on the Zap The Grandma Gap website. 

With the “My Jewish Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
· Learn about Jewish history, traditions and culture
· Make and braid Challah bread with your family
· Solve a Jewish calendar crossword puzzle
· Record your family’s recipe for Charoset
· Find your family’s place in the Diaspora
· Learn the Hebrew alphabet
· Complete a genealogy word search
· Enjoy a Yiddish folktale and Nasrudin stories
· Color, cut out and tell stories with Jewish ancestor paper dolls
· Explore many other activities about your family’s history

Look at some of these pages:

This book will arrive in time for Chanukah gift giving if you order now. Take advantage of the pre-release sale, 20% off all books at, until November 30, 2014. Excerpts from all of the books can be viewed on the website at Other great online and print resources can be found at
to help families connect to each other by connecting to their past. 

This post crossposted to

Friday, November 14, 2014

Announcing Three New "My Ancestor Activity Books" for Children

Just in time for the holiday season, I've got some new Zap the Grandma Gap Activity Books coming your way! I am so excited to announce three new books for you to share and give to the children in your lives. I have created workbooks for the following heritages:
  • With the “My Jewish Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
    · Learn about Jewish history, traditions and culture
    · Make and braid Challah bread with your family
    · Solve a Jewish calendar crossword puzzle
    · Record your family’s recipe for Charosets
    · Find your family’s place in the Diaspora
    · Learn the Hebrew Alphabet
    · Complete a genealogy word search
    · Enjoy a Yiddish folktale and a Nasrudin stories
    · Color, cut out and tell stories with Jewish Ancestor paper dolls
  • With the “My Mormon Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
    · Plan an Ancestor Family Home Evening
    · Learn about Priesthood Line of Authority and how to trace it
    · Find the Patriarchal Blessings of your ancestors
    · Complete a temple dot-to-dot
    · Document the church service and callings of your ancestors
    · Gather information on your family’s missionaries
    · Record information about the first LDS members of your family
    · Make a handkerchief doll for church
  • With the “My Pioneer Ancestor Activity Book” you can:
    · Map out the pioneer route of your ancestors
    · Decide what you would pack for a journey across the plains
    · Learn how to find direction by the sun
    · Compare your day to the day in the life of your ancestor
    · Try classic pioneer recipes
    · Write a Pony Express letter to a pioneer ancestor
    · Play a game about the risks along the trail
    · Contrast pioneer schools and modern schools
 These workbooks books offer a variety of fun and engaging activities to introduce your children and grandchildren to different aspects of their personal heritage.  We've included activities like mazes, recipes, dot-to-dot, and our always popular paper dolls.  Science has shown us how valuable it is for our children to have a sense of self (academically and emotionally) and these books are a fantastic to way to introduce your children to family history in an easy, interactive, and fun way.
As a bonus for you, we are having a pre-order sale.   
This sale includes all of my previous Zap the Grandma Gap books and workbooks, as well.  The books will be shipping in December--perfect for gift giving.  These books make wonderful gifts for children and adults.  Order by the deadline to take advantage of this fantastic sale.

Watch the blog next week for in-depth previews of each new workbook.  And take a look at my previous books here.  I'd love to help you bring some genealogy into the lives of your young ones this holiday season.

(This post is also available on my Zap the Grandma Gap blog.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Chart Deadlines

It's that time of year again and now is the time to get your holiday orders in to ensure everything is in place for your gift giving.  We would love the opportunity to help you create beautiful and meaningful gifts for those nearest and dearest to you.  Please make a note of our deadlines coming up so that we can help you in every way possible to make this a happy holiday season for you and your family.

All International orders must be in by November 24, 2014.  This is hard fast for all decorative and working charts.  Decorative charts will include an online preview but the working charts will not.  Please allow for shipping times to meet your gift giving time frame.

Chanukah orders must be placed by December 3, 2014 for decorative charts with an online preview.  Working chart orders should be placed by December 10, 2014.  There will be no online preview for working charts. If you have an international Chanukah order, please refer to the International order deadline to ensure ample delivery time.

For Domestic orders we have two separate deadlines.  All decorative chart orders must be placed by December 5, 2014 and will include an online preview.  All working chart orders must be in by December 12, 2014 and there will be no online preview included.  If you don't mind a rush fee and higher shipping costs, decorative charts with an online preview orders may be placed up until December 12, 2014.  Working charts without an online preview and pre-created charts designed by you, can be ordered up until December 17, 2014.  But please note the extra fees involved in delaying your order.

We would be happy to offer you a free consultation and will do all that we can to provide you with memorable gifts that  will be cherished for years.  Contact us today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hello, Instagram!

Yeah.  I did.  I joined the ranks of Instagram.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I really, really did.  Check it out.  Have no fear though, I won't clog your feed with endless selfies and "duck faces."  Well, maybe one or two every once in a while.  Because, why not? :) But in reality, I had a slightly deeper purpose for creating an Instagram account.  It's all about creating a new tradition of gratitude in my life.

You see, I am online quite a lot for my business and speaking engagements and book promotions and partnerships and so on.  My personal and my business persona are fairly united in my online presence.  And that's all good and wonderful because my business is a huge part of who I am as a person.  But some days, I feel like there is something missing in my online world that is more personal.  And that's when it came to me.  Enter my new Instagram account.  I decided this was a great and easy (hooray for easy!) way for me to keep a gratitude journal.  I hope to post often enough for you to see the things that are the closest to my heart.  I may not be able to take on the 365 day challenge just yet, but I might be able to work my way up to it.  In the mean time, swing by, follow me, check out the things I hold nearest and dearest to me, and leave a comment if you'd like.  Maybe you'll even be reminded of something you are grateful for and you can start up your own gratitude journal in one form or another.

Friday, October 31, 2014

All Treats, No Tricks!

Our customers are amazing!  Our friends are amazing!  Sometimes I feel like there aren't even words for how I feel about them, but then I eventually manage to find some.  Let me share with  you why I am feeling quite twitterpated with the world.

I woke up to the best surprise yesterday morning.  I've always known we have great friends and great customers, but honestly, yesterday, I was just blown away when I opened up my email and Facebook feed.  My dear friend, Thomas MacEntee, shared a link-and some really kind words-on his Facebook page.  He linked a blog post by a wonderful customer, Amanda, that gave us all sorts of praise from a recent chart we made for her.  And, and, AND... he said wonderful things about us too!

"I've said this before - Janet Hovorka and her group at Family ChartMasters rock! Make plans for your holiday gifts NOW - take a look at this magnificent chart!"

Thomas, thank you so much for the love.  We love you back so much.  I hope you know that!

And Amanda's blog post about the chart we made for her just blew me away.  Thank you, Amanda!  Her comment, "I cannot recommend Family Chartmasters highly enough.  They are a joy to work with, and their products are top-notch quality." was just icing on the already decadent, 10-layer (emotional) cake I woke up to yesterday.

And if all of that isn't amazing enough, I just wanted to share a customer email as well, because seriously, our customers are incredible!  Michael Gonzales, whom I just got to meet in person this past summer in Salt Lake City, at a conference, sent this awesome email to me with some great pictures.  Take a look:


Our reunion was a success once again, thanks to our active planning committee and to the Family charts you printed for me.  Our reunion takes place every 3 years over the Labor Day weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) in Visalia, California.  Folks come from all around the country to have fellowship and fun.  We have a large raffle, a huge dinner with music and special presentations, as well as a huge picnic with games, including a massive tug-of-war.  We hire a wonderful Mariachi orchestra that plays great cultural music.  When the sun shines you can expect to find the swimming pool in use (all the time).  One of the highlights of the Reunion is the display of our family charts.  People stream through the hotel lobby where the charts are displayed throughout the entire time.  The Lampliter is our headquarters hotel with other major hotels taking up the slack. Our attendance varies from 400-500 relatives.
Enjoy the photos."
400-500 relatives?!  That is incredible.  Take a look at some of their fun pictures:

We were so happy to help you, Michael!  I am so glad that we helped to make it a memorable reunion for you!

It is beyond rewarding to hear such amazing feedback from friends and customers.  We are so grateful for each and everyone of you.  With the Holiday seasons coming up, I hope we can help you make even more family memories.  Please contact us if you like what you have seen from our previous customers and let us help you create a special keepsake or gift.  And don't forget, our Early Bird sale is still running, but only until November 1st!  The sale is that you Buy One Chart, Get a Second Copy FREE!  That's a really good deal.  But it won't last much longer so contact us today!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Genealogy Gems Book Club

Nobody loves a good book as much as a librarian, let me tell you.  So when my good friend Lisa Louise Cooke and her Contributing Editor, Sunny Morton, reached out to me to tell me what Genealogy Gems is up to, I thought it was a great idea.  Lisa has come up with a great way to share books in a low-key, virtual manner that are based in family relationships and connections.  Please take a moment in your day to check out The Genealogy Gems Book Club.

It's a free service and each book is read and reviewed on a quarterly basis.  (This busy lady can probably do that :)  Lisa's goal is to share books that anyone would want to read and would be able to relate to, not just genealogists.  That sounds like a winning combination all around.  This is how the process was explained to me:

"Here’s how the three-month cycle works:
·         In the first month, Sunny will introduce a new title on the Genealogy Gems free podcast, the Premium Podcast and on the Genealogy Gems blog. She will share a quick run-down on the book and why she recommends it.
·         In the second month, Sunny will share a gem from the book and recommend other titles for those looking for something else to read.
·         In the third month, the author will join the Genealogy Gems podcast for an exclusive interview. Excerpts from the interview will run on the free podcast and the entire interview will air on the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast."

It sounds easy and fun and, best of all, low pressure.  I don't know about you, but whenever I think I want to join a book club, I get stressed out at the thought of needing to have the book read and ready to discuss within 3-4 weeks.  Sometimes I have the time to do that but most of the time... well, not so much.  I feel like Lisa's plan is very attainable for even the busiest among us and she's offering great, interactive options along the way.

This is what Lisa had to say about her first book choice too:

The FIRST FEATURED BOOK is She Left Me the Gun: My Mother's Life Before Me by award-winning U.K. journalist Emma Brockes. It recounts the author’s discovery of her mother’s traumatic childhood in South Africa.

This is a genealogical journey, complete with trips to archives, poring over old court cases and dramatic reveals,” says Genealogy Gems Contributing Editor and Book Club Guru Sunny Morton. “It's also about learning the past from living relatives. This is the ultimate how-to book for exploring and sharing sensitive family stories because she shows you how it’s done.”

Looks like a good one.  Be sure to check out the book club and let Lisa know I sent you!