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    In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” It is the goal of The Family Curator to inspire, enlighten, and encourage other family curators in their efforts to preserve and share their own family treasures.

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    Monday
    Dec012008

    A Holiday Tradition: Fire in the Kitchen!

    What is it about food and fire? Yes, fire gives us heat for succulent roasts and warm, fragrant bread. But it can do so much more. In our quest for deliciously unique sweet treat, our family's holiday meals often culminate with a Flaming Dessert.

    This tradition began over a decade ago when Crème Brulee was all the rage. Sure it's yummy, not too difficult to make, and (bonus) can be prepared ahead of time. We wanted drama, however, and decided to put the kids in charge of the presentation. They felt too old to give us a Christmas pageant, but the thought of using a blowtorch was acceptable.

    The formal Christmas Eve dinner was delicious, I am sure, although no one recalls the prime rib or Yorkshire pudding. What they all remember is the moment when 14-year-old Christian and 16-year-old Heather entered the dining room bearing a tray of custard desserts. Heather was dressed for the occasion in her dad's firefighting gear and thoughtfully carried a fire extinguisher. Christian pulled out his own dad's tool of the trade, a full-size construction blow torch.

    In less time than Santa could round up his reindeer, Christian ever so carefully, carmelized all 15 crème brulee desserts. Heather stood at the ready, but never needed to unlock her gear. The dessert was passed around, and received a round of applause. Success! Now, what about next year?

     

    Crème Brulee

    Serves 5

    2 cups whipping cream
    5 egg yolks
    ½ cup sugar
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
    Fresh raspberries and mint for garnish

    Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Pour evenly into 5 (5x1-inch) round baking dishes; place dishes in a large roasting pan or a 15 x 11 x 1-inch jellyroll pan. Add hot water to a depth of ½-inch.

    Bake at 275 for 45 to 50 minutes or until almost set. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least eight hours.

    Sprinkle about 1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar evenly over each custard; place custards on clean metal pan.

    Carmelize sugar with propane blow torch. Let stand a few minutes until sugar hardens. Garnish with fresh raspberries and sprigs of mint.

    Don't try this at home! The Family Curator accepts no responsibility for the actions described in this posting, and reminds the reader that fire is indeed very dangerous [see forthcoming post on "The Day Dede's Dress Caught Fire."]

     

    Friday
    Nov212008

    On the Subject of Citing Sources

    FootnoteMaven recently posted an article on Working With Citations in which she shares her own method for organizing citations and using them in her writing. Fans of fM's blogs know that she is conscientious and meticulous when it comes to citations, so it should be no surprise that she is an advocate of the citation-guru, Elizabeth Shown Mills, and most of all, an advocate of standardizing sources.

    As an English teacher using MLA citation standards, I regularly encountered citation-psychosis diagnosed from symptoms exhibited in the classroom and on various assignments. Most notably, students suffering from this malady exhibited few outward signs. When the announcement was made for research papers requiring citations, these students accepted the assignment without comment. In contrast to those free of the disease, students who were later diagnosed with citation-related psychosis rarely asked questions or expressed confusion about the assignment. Unfortunately, this made it particularly difficult to determine those persons afflicted until it was too late. When the papers were submitted, one quick glance revealed students suffering in all stages of the disease. Instructors are quick to blame themselves – perhaps the lessons were too fast, too slow, the proximity to reference materials too far, too close. . .

    In Stage One, students exhibited minor errors such as misplaced punctuation or incorrect spacing and indenting. These were correctable with regular therapy.

    In Stage Two, papers were presented with multiple errors. Often the wrong format for the type of source was used, in addition to missing information. These problems were more severe and required remedial therapy and grade modification.

    In Stage Three, students exhibited listless and lack of emotion over the diagnosis. There were many many indicators of the disease. At times, the Works Cited page would be mislabeled as Bibliography, sources would be numbered rather than presented alphabetically, or sources would be incomplete missing major components. These students were often the most creative in presentation of the disease, but the least interested in recovery. Unfortunately, grade modification and therapy were rarely successful in reversing the illness, and parental intervention was often indicated.

    If a student fails to follow clear instructions for citing sources, it is usually due to plain old laziness. Online citation guides such as NoodleBib and EasyBib require some knowledge of source forms and considerable Thinking; often students just start guessing and even these "wonder sites" turn out a Works Cited that is incorrect. They can only be as accurate as the information they are given. Students have given many reasons for incorrect citations and Works Cited, some of my favorites:

    "This is how my mom/dad/brother/sister said to do it. They learned it that way in school and it is RIGHT." [when? What year?]

    "I couldn't find the format guide/MLA book/handout/library…" [hmmmm]

    "I remembered how to do it." [Right. It's wrong.]

    "Oh."

    "Too much work."

    Unfortunately, citation-related psychosis is found in the RW (Real World) as well. When I returned to graduate school in 1997, I learned that MLA had changed quite a bit in the years since I had first learned its rigors. I would have nothing to gain except ridicule if I insisted on using out-dated protocol.

    As difficult as it may be to "learn new tricks," I think that genealogists and family history writers too have much to gain by accepting a standard format for citing sources. Since Elizabeth Shown Mills seems to have taken up the banner for proper citations, I am glad to follow along using her guidelines. I am not as careful as I should be with citing sources in blog posts, but I like to think that my family history writing is carefully and correctly documented.

    Thank you fM for starting this conversation. Maybe we can all jump on the bandwagon and help fight for consistent citations!

    Friday
    Nov142008

    Ten Tips for Making Family Connections

    The Family Curator appears at Shades of the Departed today on the subject of finding family connections through the internet. I am delighted to share my most recent reunion with cousin Scott Angus MacPhee, great-grandson of Mercy Kinsel MacPhee, and appreciate the efforts of footnoteMaven in making it all happen.

    As I wrote about Scott and the other family connections I have made through Shades and through blogging, I came up with a few more ways that web-wanderers can scout out elusive cousins. My mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman, has become somewhat of an expert with forums and message boards, and is the inspiration for many of the suggestions that follow.

    10. Post the family names you are researching on a popular genealogy message board or surname list. Go to the Query page at Cyndi's List for a comprehensive listing of sites and helpful information on how to craft your query for results.

    9. Post your family name on the Virtual Surname Wall at the Southern California Genealogical Society. This organization has been helping researchers find their family roots since 1964 and currently hosts the popular SCGS Jamboree conference each year in June.

    8. Locate the historical society in your family's hometown and request a listing in their newsletter or online bulletin board. A small donation would certainly be much appreciated! Check back regularly to discover any replies to your posting. Consult the United States Genealogy and Historical Society Directory at censusfinder.com for a list of U.S. societies.

    7. Join the local or state genealogical society in the region your ancestors lived and post a query through their publications. Societies welcome members from around the world, and their publications are filled with informative articles about an area that may be unfamiliar to you.

    6. Listen to genealogy podcasts with an ear out for your family surnames. Subscribe and listen through iTunes, or check out the links at Cyndi's List.

    5. Respond promptly to any queries you receive. Offer to share information, and compensate others willing to share with you for any expenses incurred such as shipping or photocopying.

    4. Be a name dropper. Use your family names liberally on your genealogy/family history blog or website. Who knows what search engines will grab a relation and steer them toward your site.

    3. Join Facebook or another social networking site and watch for genealogy and family history groups to add to your Favorites. This will allow you to keep up on news, events, and interact with other researchers.

    2. Comment on blog posts! Blog writers love comments. When you see your family name or locale mentioned, inquire about a connection with your own research.

    And, my #1 Tip for Making Family Connections . . .

    1. Write or post a comment with footnoteMaven at Shades of the Departed. She seems to have the Magic Touch!

    Monday
    Nov102008

    The Family Curator Shares Connections at Shades

    footnoteMaven sent along an email from a Kinsel-line cousin last week, with a note that "it looks like I live in the middle of this branch of your family." It isn't the first time that a "cousin" and I have connected through Shades of the Departed, and I have a feeling that more leaves will be shaking out in the weeks to come.

    The email came from Scott Angus MacPhee, the nephew of my grandmother Arline Kinsel. Readers of The Family Curator will recognize Scott's name from that of the dashing Scotsman, Angus MacPhee who married Arline's younger sister Mercy. In a column for Shades last July, I described a classroom project using correspondance between Arline and Mercy with my English students for a lesson in "Reading Women's Lives." Scott found the article, and me, through Shades.

    As I said, this isn't the first time fM has introduced me to an relative. I am delighted to be a guest author and share a bit more of the experience at Shades this week, in "The Family Curator Makes a Connection Through Shades." I hope you will join me at Shades on November 14.

    Monday
    Nov032008

    Women. . . You Have the Vote!

    Arline A. Kinsel photograph, 1915, Pueblo, Colorado.
    Privately held by Suzanne Freeman,
    [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Green Valley, Arizona. 2008.

    Here is a special photograph in recognition of Tuesday, November 4 -- Election Day!

    Just when I thought I had seen all the family treasures, my Mother sent this photocopy to me in the mail. It is an early photograph of Arline posing before a Colorado voting poster --

    WOMEN OF COLORADO!
    YOU HAVE THE VOTE
    HELP GET IT FOR WOMEN THROUGHOUT THE NATION
    BY VOTING AGAINST WOODROW WILSON AS THE
    DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR CONGRESS
    THE NATIONAL WOMAN'S PARTY
    Mom deciphered the complete poster, only shown partially in the photograph, by using other pictures taken the same day of Arline's friend and her little boy standing with the same background. Little Gaylord was so small that the lower half of the sign is quite visible.

    Although women in Colorado were granted full voting rights in 1893, when this photograph was taken in 1915 some states were still barring women from the polling booth. It would be a full five years until the 19th Amendment gave women in all states the right to vote.

    On Tuesday I will be working in my Precinct reminding voters to take advantage of this privilege and urge you, too, to Get Out and Vote!

    Monday
    Oct272008

    It's That Time of Year. . .

    Thank you one and all for your participation and support of the Treasure Hunt. I am inspired to keep looking; who knows what we will find in those hidden recesses?

    The Family Curator has donned another hat the past few weeks to write college recommendations for students. More frequent posting will resume when the Muse returns. Thank you for your understanding.

    Thursday
    Oct232008

    Treasure Hunt Challenge Round-Up: Just Look What We Found in Our Cupboards & Closets & Boxes!

    Official Treasure Hunters Badge by footnoteMaven

    Treasures abound from the Treasure Hunt Challenge posted at The Family Curator in mid-September. Congratulations to the brave adventurers who accepted the challenge, and then went on to follow their maps and "dig" for buried treasure.

    It has been encouraging to know that many family historians and genealogists share a common obstacle – a certain closet, box, or cupboard that just refuses to yield all its secrets. It's the one place to stash something special, but it can also be the one place forgotten when we go looking for that gem again. Thank you for joining me, hunters, and especially for sharing your treasure tales will all of us.

    Some hunters were so eager to find a treasure that they completed their quest before the ink was dry on their maps!

    Hats off to First Responder, Wendy Littrell at All My Branches Genealogy who found a box of treasures right before her very eyes – on her vanity! She tells more about her discovery and shares photographs in "X Marks the Spot." I think we must all wish we had a box like yours, Wendy.

    Coming in a close second, Midge Frazel at Granite in My Blood not only FOUND Treasure, she presents a model Archival Treasure Chest complete with supply sources, photographs, and evaluation in "Treasure Chest." I discovered a new archival resource from her post, and a reminder to preserve, preserve, preserve. Thanks, Midge.

    Tucked away on a closet shelf, footnoteMaven found an archival box with a treasure saved for "another day." We are delighted that the day is here and we can share in your discovery, fM. She introduces the treasure in a note "The Way It Was" and promises a series of articles at Shades of the Departed "relating to the Victorian custom of visiting cards." This sounds like an intriguing new series; I can hardly wait!

    At CanadaGenealogy, or 'Jane's Your Aunt', M. Diane Rogers organized and preserved the treasures on a bookshelf, and discovered a wonderful family letter she transcribes in "Genea-Blogger Treasure Hunt – Report." I love reading other people's mail, and this letter from Diane's "Aunty Grandma" is a true treasure, thank you.

    "I've Gone about as Far as I Can Go in my Treasure Hunt," declared Linda Steinstra at From Axer to Ziegler. Oh, to have only that one box! Linda shares great photos of family medals, photographs, and mementos and adds a descriptive note of provenance to each family heirloom. The last bit is something we so often overlook; thanks for the nudge, Linda.

    While many people are thinking about their stock investments these days, Julie Tarr at GenBlog is trying to figure out if her old stock certificates might still have some value – from 1914! She did the background checks for "The Stock Search Begins" and is now researching further. Now, wouldn't it be a treat, Julie, if one of those companies were still in business?

    Becky Wiseman at kinexxions teased us with a sturdy cardboard box, unopened since moving day. In "So, What was in that Box?" she cuts the tape and pulls back the flaps to reveal some true retro treasures and then, a treasure beneath a treasure. Sometimes those are the hardest things to find, so sealing the box for another day is the best thing we can do. Good questions, Becky, good thoughts.

    Concluding our Treasure Hunt Challenge, after much procrastination and angst The Family Curator finally did reopen The Magic Cupboard. Fearful that the magic was gone, she was much relieved to find that is was in fact still there, and revealed a wonderful travel photo album and accompanying travel journal complete with expenses for the trip. You can read about my surprise at "Treasure Found! A Clue to Military Service in Vacation Photographs."

    Thank you again, treasure hunters for accepting the Challenge. You deserve to proudly fly the Official Treasure Hunters Flag designed by footnoteMaven. Congratulations on your bounty!

    Monday
    Oct202008

    Treasure Found! A Clue to Military Service in Vacation Photographs

     

    "Boys and Wives Reunion"


    The Magic Cupboard hasn't lost it's sparkle, and once again revealed a wonderful surprise for the Treasure Hunt Challenge. Usually I find treasures from my maternal grandmother, Arline Kinsel, but this cupboard held memories from my father's side of the family. First, I came across a vacation photo album from my paternal grandparents. My school-teacher grandmother was meticulous in all things, and her photos are carefully labeled with subject, date, and place along the white border of the snapshot. It's a good reminder of an easy way to identify photos, and probably a reason to return to the old-fashioned border prints instead of the more common borderless style.

     

    At the back of The Magic Cupboard I found a companion treasure -- a little six-ring notebook with my grandmother's Bible Study notes and a packet of loose pages from another memo book. Those loose pages were a travel tournal for trips in 1962 and 1964, corresponding to the dates and photos in the album. Now, that's a Treasure.

    On June 8, 1964 she writes
    Left home 5:00 -- sprinkles -- fog. Victorvile at 7:00 for breakfast. Lunch under trees before Kingman at high noon. Williams 3:45. Arrived in Canyon by 4:00. Mix up in reservation. 45' tie up. Have a nice cabin. Had chicken etc. in room. Out for walk. Wind about us off path so headed for warm cabin. 551 miles.

    She also kept an expense log at the back of the packet of notes, and itemized her expenses for that first day

    Mon 6/8/64
    Breakfast Victorville $1.46
    Tip .15
    Gas- Barstow 3.91
    Gas - Needles 3.70
    Gas - Williams 4.93
    Grand Canyon 10.30
    Cards .10
    Fountain drinks .46
    $25.01

    From the Grand Canyon, Walter and Edna traveled through Durango, Colorado to a reunion in Eagle, Nebraska.

     

    As I looked at the photographs, initially I thought the men and women, "Boys and Wives," were gathered for a family reunion; fortunately, the notes identify the photo of men and women in the photo with the 314 Supply Train, Co. E, 89 Div. This must be my grandfather's WWI Army unit. Tucked behind one photo of men taken in 1964, I found a second photo of the same group taken in 1963. What unexpected clues to my grandfather's military service.

     

    "314 Supply Train, Co. E, 89 Div, Reunion"


    The return trip brought them through Torrington, Wyoming and Grand Junction, Colorado before arriving home in Santa Ana, California on June 25.

     

    Edna noted that they drove 3,950 miles spending $244.32.

    The website, Flashback 1964! highlights the tunes, the tv shows, and the trends of the year. What fun to think that as my grandparents were cruising west in their Plymouth four-door sedan they might have been listening to the Supremes croon "Baby Love" or The Beatles "A Hard Day's Night," although they were much more likely to be listening to the news or the Billy Graham radio hour. Gas was 25 cents a gallon and they could fill the tank of the Plymouth for $4.93. This year, I paid nearly $5.00 for ONE GALLON of gas. Of course, in 1964 the average yearly salary in the United States was $6,080 but those do seem like "the good old days."

    Thursday
    Oct162008

    Tagged by The Chart Chick

    Photo by Paul Moody, used under license by Creative Commons

    Tag is always so much fun in the waning sunshine of Autumn. If you play late enough in the evening it becomes Flashlight Tag... much more fun if the players are coed. Thanks for tagging me for this Memory Meme, Janet, The Chart Chick. It's much more fun to play then be left in the Mushpot.

    Ten Years Ago (in 1998) I --

    1. was in my second year of teaching high school English
    2. working on my graduate degree in American Literature
    3. knitting socks for stress relief
    4. celebrating my son's 20th birthday
    5. cleaning up the basement
    Five Things on My ToDo List --
    1. clean up the basement
    2. clean up the garage
    3. clean out the closets
    4. get organized (do you see a theme here?)
    5. read War and Peace
    Five Snacks I Enjoy
    1. apples, oh hurray for autumn
    2. beef jerky
    3. cheese and crackers
    4. chips and salsa
    5. hot buttered popcorn
    Five Places I've Lived
    1. Orange County, California (not Laguna Beach)
    2. Malibu, California (much better than Laguna)
    3. Santa Barbara, California (even better!)
    4. Pasadena, California
    5. Moscow, Idaho
    Five Jobs I've Held
    1. newspaper sports writer, now that was a fun job!
    2. society page photographer
    3. technical editor
    4. publications editor
    5. English teacher
    Five Blogs I Tag -- "You're 'It'"
    1. Linda Steinstra at From Axer to Ziegler
    2. Lori Thornton, The Family Historian
    3. Miriam Midkiff, at AnceStories
    4. M. Diane Rogers, at CanadaGenealogy
    5. Lisa at Small-Leaved Shamrock
    This has been a great little meme, fast and fun. I only wish I had time to write longer lists a la Terry Thornton over at Hill Country of Monroe County. Terry's descriptions are always a delight, and this post is no exception.

    Thursday
    Oct162008

    Treasure Hunters Progress Report


    Ahoy, shipmates. Looks like the hunters are getting closer to the treasure! Diane Rogers at CanadaGenealogy has posted an update on her search at CanadaGenealogy, or, 'Jane's Your Aunt': Genea-Blogger Treasure Hunt with some tantalizing tidbits about a 'Night for All Souls' at a Vancouver cemetery.

    At least two bloggers win the Eager Beaver awards for beating the October 20 deadline, but I won't spoil the round-up fun by naming names.

    I have had a bit of trouble getting motivated to open the doors to The Magic Cupboard at my house, but am determined to sail on.

    Remember, Treasure Hunters, email me with a link to your Treasure Found blog post by Oct 20 for the upcoming Treasure Round-Up.

    Friday
    Oct032008

    Treasure Hunters Round-Up


    Weigh anchor, mateys, we're sailin' to find buried treasure under the banner of the Show and Tell Family Treasure Challenge, courtesy of fair footnoteMaven.

    And shiver me timbers, I sure am glad to have company on this voyage to find the buried treasures in me own Magic Cupboard. It's a terrible task to take on without a tip-top crew at yer side.

    Here's a sneak peek at the treasure maps brought to the Challenge by our brave blogging buccaneers. Don't be shy about cheering them on! They will be posting about their treasures throughout the month – deadline October 20 – when we will have a Treasure Round-Up.

    Blogging Buccaneers, The Treasure Hunters

    • FootnoteMaven writes in "Treasure Hunt! A Challenge for Genea-Bloggers" that she has already found "something" in her closet of treasures, but she's not telling about it yet! It has been carefully wrapped in archival tissue and stored away to be found another day. I can hardly wait to read about this Treasure.
    • Treasures of a personal kind are in the mind of Midge Frazel in her post "Photo Challenge" at Granite in My Blood. Midge has made a comprehensive plan to organize, scan, and archive for her collection of family photographs, something that is probably at the top of a lot of To Do Lists.
    • Wendy Littrell at All My Branches writes about her plan to examine a box of property deeds and land transactions in "Searching for Buried Treasure." She is even hoping to find photos or satellite images of the property. I like her idea of "virtual" visits to our ancestors' homes; it sounds like a great addition to a family story.
    • JulieMc in "Looking for Buried Treasure" at Gen Blog has put together a very timely plan to explore a box of stock certificates from her grandmother and great grandmother; let's keep our fingers crossed that those companies are still on Wall Street for a few weeks. Wouldn't it be a real Treasure if those pieces of paper are still active?
    • The green-eyed monster peeked out when I saw the photos of Linda Stienstra's genealogy room in her post "My Treasure Chest Overfloweth" on From Axer to Ziegler. It has to be the family historian/genealogist dream-come-true. An entire room for research materials! In all those lovely shelves and drawers, Linda still has a box of "stuff" to explore; I can't wait to see what she finds and hopefully discover the secret to becoming more organized.
    • Becky Wiseman has a real mystery for this challenge. Just look at the photo on "Seeking Hidden Treasures" at kinexxions. It is a moving box, marked with her name and the every-mysterious "cards, letters, misc." How can she wait at all? It could be anything! We are looking forward to hearing all about it.
    • The Family Curator has a plan, too, in "Treasure Map to the Magic Cupboard," but mostly she just looks at the "stuff" and shakes her head. What will it take to move that mountain of paper? She wasn't even brave enough to photograph the cupboard with the doors open. Tsk, tsk.

    I hope you will join the Treasure Hunters on their voyage and cheer them on in their endeavors. Thanks one and all, for taking up the Challenge, and a special thanks to footnoteMaven for our very own "Jolly Roger" flag. Good luck hunters.

    Thursday
    Oct022008

    Happy Birthday Dear Arline!

    Minnie Louise Kinsel and
    Arline Allen Kinsel
    abt 1891

    Happy Birthday Arline! I could not let today go by without sharing a photograph of Arline as an infant with her mother, Minnie Louise Chamblin Kinsel. Arline was born October 2, 1890 in Kansas City, Missouri and moved with her family to Pueblo, Colorado when she was very young.

    In celebration of Arline's birthday and to consolidate photos, letters, and documents for the Kinsel-Brown family line, I am launching a new blog entitled, Dear Arline. I had hoped to debut the site today, alas, it is not ready for public viewing (life has a way of rearranging one's schedule) but this photograph is featured in the inaugural article.The Family Curator will continue to feature my research progress, technology experiences, and general blogging interests. I hope you will join me as I uncover the story of Arline's colorful life.

    Thursday
    Oct022008

    A Welcome Visit from Gnome-land


    The Genea-Blogging Gnome has dropped in for a visit after a short stay with Linda at From Axer to Ziegler. He's really logging some miles these days -- I've lost track of everywhere he's been since Terry Thornton set him off from Hill Country of Monroe County.

    I would love to feed him mushroom cakes and elder-flower tea for a week, but I'm sure he won't stay for too long. Who knows who's door he will be knocking next?

    Wednesday
    Oct012008

    Glad to Know You-All

    I've never been to a real southern get-together, but I imagine no one leaves a stranger if Terry Thornton is hosting the party. I just know that he guides his guests through the crowd introducing him/her to each person there until they feel like kin. At least, that is what Terry has done over at Hill Country of Monroe County in his three-part series for the round up to the "Getting to Know You Challenge."

    Getting to Know You Round-Up at Hill Country of Monroe Country

    This is a blog read to bookmark and savor. Terry includes 42 bloggers in the round-up AND (best part of all) serenades the reader with his own rendition of the classic tune.

    Part 1 - Getting to Know You, Overture, Act 1, Scenes 1-15
    Part 2 - Getting to Know You, Overture, Act 2, Scenes 16-30
    Part 3 - Getting to Know You, Act 3, Scenes 31-42, Finale and Reprise

    I'm holding off on posting the Treasure Hunters Map Round-Up until Oct 3 -- spend the next few days enjoying the party at Hill Country of Monroe Country.

    Tuesday
    Sep302008

    Treasure Maps Ahoy!

    Thank you to all those bloggers who have accepted the Treasure Hunt Challenge. I'm building the blogroll of participants and will have it posted by October 2. You can still let me know you have accepted the challenge, either by emailing me a link to your blog or leaving a comment here before the stroke of midnight, tonight.