Sep 092014

Crymes Family Grave Marker There’s no question that grave markers are an invaluable resource for birth and death dates, full names, and family connections. However, when we try to tell a person’s story, we often over look them or give them only passing attention. We look for something more dynamic than a cold stone to illustrate someone’s personal history.

But grave markers are more than a resource. They’re a memorial to a life that has passed. And many times, if you listen and observe closely, they also tell a story. Continue reading »

May 012014
Questions for Ancestors Field Clark

If I could just get that interview, I ‘d have questions for ancestors

In my family tree, there are huge gaping holes in our family stories. I have so many questions for ancestors. If I could go back in time with a little voice recorder, there are quite a few of my ancestors I would want to  interview. I’d also have a few questions for my husband’s ancestors—after all, they, too, are my children’s progenitors.

Note: Keep in mind; stories don’t have to have happily-ever-after endings. Your questions for ancestors could lead to great stories about them!

Van Field Clark: “Are all Grandma’s war stories true?”

Van Field Clark was “Grandpa Clark” to my grandmother. As she collected her memories, she wrote down some of his Civil War stories, none of which I have been able to substantiate. Not only would I want to know if the stories are true, I would want to hear them first hand. Continue reading »

Mar 102014

use green to highlight winter beauty This month’s blog hop theme is “Brought to You by the Color Green.” Winter doesn’t have to be blue. I decided to use green to highlight winter beauty. To start at the beginning of the hop, please visit Stamp Patty’s at If you’re coming from there, you’re in the right place.

Words alone seldom suffice to convey the beauty and mood of nature. In this project, color, photography, and art combine to highlight the beauty and serenity of one of the snowiest Michigan winters on record. Continue reading »

Jan 282014

story behind the smiles is unknownPhotos of people laughing—especially group shots of people laughing—are jewels for memory keepers. A picture tells a thousand words; we love seeing the happiness and camaraderie. However, many times there’s a story behind the smiles and we still need words to tell the story.

Story behind the Smiles

It annoys me to no end that I can’t remember what we were laughing about in the photo to the left. At the time that I took it (with a remote), I thought I would always remember what the joke was. But I don’t. Although the joke is frozen in time on our faces, the story behind the smiles is currently lost to me. Continue reading »

Jun 132013

Share a memory of vacation Fathers Day is a great time to share memories with dad, but it’s not the only time you might want to share memories with the father-figure in your life. Whether it’s a dad or granddad that you miss or honoring the man in your life, these memories of these men matter. A simple Google search on “Memory Gifts” will give you tons of ideas for meaningful gifts you can order.

Making gifts is also a wonderful way to share memories with dad. Pinterest (and this website) are great places to find memory sharing ideas. Here are a few of my favorites: Continue reading »

May 152013

LinkedIn Blog Hop Today’s post is part of the  “May Flowers” Blog Hop.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your hop so far and I’m glad you’re here.
If you’re coming from Krysthle Poitras’ blog Krysthle’s Designs you are in the right place! (If you landed here first and want to do the full hop, start here.) Continue reading »

May 062013


Rainy outdor wedding

Seating with umbrellas

In her post today, Staci Troilio points out that unseasonal weather makes an intriguing backdrop for fiction stories. Since life is so frequently stranger than fiction, that goes double to those of us writing about and collecting family memories.

Though not quite meeting the bar of “wild weather,” last weekend we attended an outdoor wedding in Sumter, SC, where it was unseasonably cold. (For South Carolina, mid-sixities in May is cold!) The weather didn’t quite steal the show, but it earned a prominent position on the day’s credits. Continue reading »

May 032013

Video cameras are getting smaller and less expensive. Here are some great ways to use video clips to preserve and share your memories.

If you’re blogging, it’s easy to embed a clip into your blog. If you’re using paper and pin, simply transfer the recording to a disc or USB-drive and attach the case to your notebook.

Production Advice

You’re not looking for an Oscar or fame. Just relax and be yourself. If you don’t want to spend time editing, remember less can be more. Try simple (short) recordings.

Read a favorite story or poem.

wish it were a video clip

Oh how I wish I had this on video!

This not only preserves the story, but also preserves it in your voice, with your facial expressions. Your reading will not only include your emphases, but will also probably include the way that piece was traditionally read in your family.

In Spartanburg, SC, where I grew up, a department store displayed a beautiful diorama of Clement Clark Moore’s The Night before Christmas each year. In my youth, part of our Christmas Eve tradition was going downtown to the Aug W. Smith Company’s store windows and having my father read it to us.

Years later, the diorama was restored and put on display in the local history museum. My dad visited the museum and (with permission) videoed the diorama while he read it aloud. I’ll treasure this gift always.

Record your own poem

Hold you own poetry slam. Enough said.

 Tell a story from your past

Make video clipsJust pretend your loved ones—even future loved ones—are sitting right in front of you and start your story telling. You can include visual aids (photos, tools of the trade, etc) if you’d like, but it isn’t necessary.

You don’t need a formal setting. In fact, stories told from your favorite chair provides a great welcoming backdrop.

Send a direct message to your loved ones

This is a “letter out loud.” What are the things that you want to make sure loved ones remember? What are the things that you don’t want to leave unsaid? Recording such messages can preserve the feelings of love between family members.

You can also record less momentous messages, especially for young grandchildren. If you’re packing up to go meet a new grandbaby for the first time, take a few minutes to record your activities, telling them how excited you are about their arrival. They probably won’t appreciate it for decades, but years later, it will be quite a treasure.

Record Family Occasions

Here’s where the “clip” part becomes more crucial. If you record 45 minutes of Johnny’s kindergarten graduation, people will seldom find time to watch it. If it’s a 2-minute clip featuring proud Johnny with his certificate and missing tooth in front of everyone who made the ceremony, it will be fun to look at in the future.

A Guided Tour through an Old Family Home

Going back to a family homestead? Moving out of the home in which you raised your children? Take a quick video tour of the house and rooms. (See Writing about Childhood Homes.)

By now, you have the idea and don’t need me to prompt you.  Have fun!

May 012013

Digitizing Your Photo Archives and Scanning Old Photos

Old photosHow do you get your photo archives into digital (CD or hard drive) format? If you’re like me, you have boxes, organizers, and albums of photos, not to mention slides and negatives. How to you get the best of the best into digital format? Continue reading »

Apr 032013
Family photos

Who do you think took all these pictures?

Do you have photos of your family photographer?

In many families, there’s one person who is the designated family photographer. Usually that person enjoys their role and  the gratitude they receive from family members. However, this arrangement can have its downside: When all those photo albums are compiled, sometimes the family photographer is only conspicuous by their absence. Continue reading »