Click Here to Receive New Posts
in Your Inbox

This form does not yet contain any fields.

    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.

    Now Available

    Follow Me

    Finding Online Family Share Sites

    Genealogy blogs and websites have a purpose, but lately I've been looking for a private family sharing site that is friendly to both geeks and luddites. Does such an animal exist? From posts I'm finding on Facebook and Twitter, I'm not the only one in search of a secure site to share family photos and stories.

    Not all my family members are eager to share photos of their children and family outings to the entire world wide web. They might be persuaded to post a photo or make a comment, but only if the site is restricted to family members and super-easy to use.

    My requirements seem fairly minimal, but as I started exploring options, I found that I might be wanting too much for too little:

    • restricted viewing, password or member-only
    • multiple editors, although this be a moot point because I may be only dreaming that anyone else will actually post photos or stories
    • polls and surveys, seems like an easy way to build engagement
    • photo galleries, a place to upload family photos and browse
    • comments to photos, to posts, to everything

    I've spent some time exploring options suggested by other family historians but still haven't found the perfect answer. Do you have use one of these services? or have another recommendation?


    The creator of Moultrie Creek Gazette, Denise Olson, designs websites in her sleep (I think), and she's a big fan of Posthaven. This inexpensive blogging program was started by the designers of Posterous after the demise of that service. The low fee is designed to give users a measure of security in the future of the program, and so far it's working. I like the idea of Posthaven, but it's pretty much a blogging program rather than a full website. It offers privacy and multiple editors, two features I am looking for, but I don't see how I can build an easy to find gallery of photos or add polls or surveys. I thought that might help build interest in family members/visitors. If I do use Posthaven you can be sure I will be working through Denise's Posthaven Primer tutorial.


    A lot of people like the features and low cost of Weebly websites, and I liked what I saw… until I learned that multiple editors and password-protection bumped the price considerably. On the Plus Side, Weebly offers easy drag-and-drop design, polls, and some nice looking templates. It has more features than Posthaven, but you pay for them. As I was playing around with building a Weebly site it reminded me a lot of Squarespace, the program I use for


    LIke Weebly, with Squarespace 6 you can use building blocks to custom-design your site. I'm using Squarespace 5 which doesn't have the same template features, but 6 looks pretty good, and I already know how it works. Sort of. My biggest complaint with Squarespace is that the blog editor defaults to teeny tiny microprint. I get around the problem by using MarsEdit to compose my posts (it's easier than Blogger and WordPress editors too) and I can work offline. The photo gallery features are great, but again, the price increases with more features.

    Shutterfly Share Sites

    FREE is always good, so I had another look at Shutterfly. The sites are pretty basic, but they do offer limited access, easy photo uploads, comments, blogging, and it's FREE! I know some of my family already uses Shutterfly for photo print and book orders, so they would be easy to lure to a family site.


    Photo sharing started me thinking about other photo sites -- Flickr, Picasa, and Photobucket. I looked at some of these, but decided that the focus on photos might become a roadblock if we want to start adding stories or comment on family get-togethers.

    For ease of use, and the greatest chance to bring in reluctant family members, Shutterfly seems like a good choice right now. But the jury is still out. Are you using a family website?


    How to Archive Family Keepsakes Kindle Edition Now Available

    HTArchiveFamilyKeepsakes Kindle cover

    Good news if you've looking for a Kindle edition of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. In addition to ePUB, Nook, and iBook editions, the Kindle edition of my book is now available at the Amazon store.

    Every author loves the news that their book is SOLD OUT, but it's even better to know that digital versions are available while the paperback is being reprinted. As a longtime Kindle fan, I'm excited to know that How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records  joins the Kindle list of fully-searchable, sync able, and portable ebooks.

    Why Go Digital?

    Buying digital versions of books, magazines, and journals is a great way to get started as a "Paper-Less Genealogist." Using born-digital documents cuts down on paper, filing supplies, and storage space. You also gain the ability to search the full-text of a book or article, annotate without permanently marking your copy, and make comments that can be shared via GoodReads or social media.

    Paperless or Paper-Less?

    Genealogists love paper, so going completely digital can be a scary idea. Instead, why not move toward less paper? Preserve your heirloom original documents, but make a conscious effort to create and care for less new paper. Try three easy baby-steps toward a digital life and watch your paper piles of everyday working documents dwindle from a mountain to a molehill.

    Baby Steps to Less Paper

    1. Choose Born-Digital books, magazines, and journals. Eliminate hardcopy clutter.

    2. Print to PDF and file documents in your computer filling system. Avoid printing paper copies of email, receipts, notes.

    3. Pick a Digital Birthday. Pick a date you can remember (birthday, tax day). Go digital from that date forward. You will know where to look -- filing cabinet or computer folders -- depending on the date of the item you need.  

    More Ideas

    For more tips to help you manage less paper in your research and everyday life, see Part 2: Break the Paper Habit of How to Archive Family Keepsakes. You'll find four chapters focusing on digitizing and organizing your genealogy:

    Chapter 9: Organize and Digitize Your Paper Documents

    Chapter 10: Digitize Your Family Archive

    Chapter 11: Organize Your Paper Files

    Chapter 12: Organize Your Computer

    Part 2: Break the Paper Habit is available as a stand-alone Kindle eBook (73 pages) titled How to Organize Family History Paperwork or in the complete 208 page digital edition of How to Archive Family Keepsakes from





    Student Genealogy Grant Call for Applications

    The Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant Committee is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2014 award. Student genealogists between the ages of 18 and 25 are eligible to apply for the 2014 Grant to be awarded at the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree, sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society in June 2014.


    Suzanne Freeman (right) with her sisters Frances Jones (left)
    and Lucile Smith in Green Valley, Arizona. 

    The $500 cash award was established in 2010 in memory of Suzanne Winsor Freeman, family historian and life-long volunteer, and an enthusiastic annual attendee at the SCGS Jamboree. Past recipients include Elyse Doerflinger (Lomita, California), A.C. Ivory (Salt Lake City, Utah), Anthony Ray (Palmdale, California), and Michael Savoca (Toms River, New Jersey).

    “The Student Genealogy Grant pays tribute to Suzanne Freeman’s dedication to youth volunteerism and family history by awarding the annual cash grant to a young genealogist attending the SCGS 45th Annual Genealogy Jamboree, Southern California’s premiere regional genealogy conference,” notes Denise Levenick, committee chair and Freeman’s daughter.

    “We are especially grateful to Jamboree for providing a three-day conference registration to the grant recipient,” she adds. “SCGS is truly a leader in conference organizations by encouraging youth involvement in genealogy through the popular Kids' Camp program and now through the student grant project.”

    Born in Olathe, Kansas, Suzanne Winsor (Brown) Freeman moved to Orange County, California with her family in the early 1930s where she attended school and lived most of her life. She developed a strong interest in family history sparked by the stories of her mother’s early life in Colorado and Kansas. After retirement Suzanne moved to Green Valley, Arizona where she was active in the local genealogy society. She enjoyed returning to Southern California each year in June to attend the SCGS Jamboree. At the time of her death in Tucson, Arizona August 28, 2010, Suzanne was searching for elusive Winsor cousins and adding more stories to her family history.

    The $500 cash award pays tribute to these interests by awarding the annual cash grant to a young genealogist attending the Jamboree. In addition, a complimentary three-day conference registration to the 45th Annual Southern California Genealogy Jamboree will be provided by the SCGS Jamboree conference.

    Any genealogist who is between the ages of 18 and 25 and has attended school in the last 12 months is eligible to apply. The recipient must attend the 2014 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, California to receive the award.

    Funding for the cash award is provided by the family grant program; Jamboree registration is provided by the conference. Individual contributions to the grant program are welcome at the Student Grant Webpage.

    Application deadline is 31 March 2014 midnight PST.

    Application details and forms are available at the Student Grant Webpage

    Suzanne Winsor Freeman Obituary is available here.


    RootsTech 2014 Photo Album (with Captions and Comments)

    Every parent knows that two-year olds can be challenging. They push against convention, fall, and usually get up to do it all over again.

    RootsTech 2012 was a lot like that toddler, feeling his way in the big genealogy technology universe. Not quite sure what would work, what wouldn’t work, but all the time trusting that eventually he’d figure it out.

    And then, the toddler turns three . . . and four.

    RootsTech has grown up, and the 2014 conference put this event “behind the wheel” with a real Driver’s License.


    Blogger Meetup for dinner at Roots Tech 2012. 

    I first attended the genealogy tech conference in 2012 when RootsTech was held in a smaller venue area at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The exhibit hall was noisy and crowded and it was difficult to find the session classrooms. The program seemed heavily tilted toward developers and beginners with little for intermediate or advanced genealogists. Networking and F2F blogger meet-ups, however, made it a worthwhile event.

    Fast-forward to 2014 and a whole new RootsTech experience.

    Entrance to RootsTech2014

    Entrance to the Salt Palace Convention Center for RootsTech 2014.
    A bigger, better venue for 2014.

    First impression walking in the Salt Palace Convention Center entry was “Wow!” The immense two-level hall was decked with enormous banners showcasing family history photos, vendors, and slogans. Standing on the upper level and looking through the huge glass windows, views of the Expo Hall showed continual demonstrations, products, and displays.

    RootsTech2014 foyer banner

    RootsTech2014 expo foyer

    RootsTech2014 expo window

    Beyond the Expo Hall, session rooms were large enough to accommodate most crowds with great audio visual arrangements.

    My biggest dilemma of the the three-day event was trying to squeeze In attending other sessions between presenting four sessions and signing books at the Family Tree University booth in the Expo Hall.

    RootsTech2014 ftu booth

    RootsTech2014 ftu dolan levenick moss

    Family Tree University booth in the RootsTech Expo Hall, with
    Allison Dolan (left) and Tyler Moss. 

    I didn’t get to hear author Dr. Thomas Jones, or geneticist Blaine Bettinger, or Laura Prescott, or CeCe Moore, or Judy Russell, or Lisa Alzo, or a host of other great speakers because there was just so much going on! And with sessions for ALL levels of genealogical and tech experience, there was a lot to choose from.

    However, I did get to flop down in the Backblaze Theatre front and center in the main hall to rest my feet and soak up presentations from several product developers. As bloggers Amy Coffin and Caroline Pointer said, “This is the awe-some. ‘They’ come to you.”

    A semi-circle of black and white couches and armchairs faced a large screen and podium. Every fifteen minutes a new vendor or presenter took the stage to demonstrate their product or share a some kind of software or hardware feature. Their presentation was punctuated by the “candy lady” who came around with a basket of deliciousness, and the “ticket lady” who passed out door-prize tickets. Every fifteen minutes.

    Clearly, RootsTech has figured out that not every attendee has the stamina of the kids attending Saturday’s Discovery Day. But whereever you are in your own family history search, RootsTech 2014 offered something just for you.


    Try This for RootsTech2014: Close Up of Camera Setup for Microfilm to Megapixels

    Camera Setup

    After reading my article last week about using my Samsung WB350 wifi digital camera to photograph microfilm images, John H asked for a closer view of the camera mount setup. Here you go, John!

    As you can see, the camera is attached to the Joby Gorillapod tripod and the flexible legs of the Gorillapod are manuevered to hold the camera in position over the image. It did take a bit of experimentation to find the best way to adjust the legs. I found that two legs on top helped position the camera and one leg flexed to the underside of the ledge helped counter-balance the camera weight.

    I also tried the regular Joby tripod screw mount and the adjustable smartphone mount. The smarthphone mount gave a little extra reach to the camera and made it easier to adjust.

    Hope this helps! Have you tried a similar setup with your digital camera or smartphone to photograph microfilm images?



    Microfilm to Megapixels: Use a Digital Camera as a Film Scanner

    The line to use the microfilm scanning machines at the Family History Library is longer than the line for the Women's Restroom at the Superbowl. Microfilm is cool. Digital copies of microfilm is way cool. But, it's RootsTech week and the Family History Library is packed with eager researchers. What to do?

    I was recently in Salt Lake City for ten days with the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), the Association of Professional Genealogy Professional Management Conference (APG PMC), and a bit of personal research. It was a perfect time to beta-test a new digitizing workflow.

    My equipment included the Samsung WB250F Wi Fi Digital Camera, the Joby Gorillapod with camera mount, and my iPhone 4S. And a pad and pencil for notes.

    My goal: to find a fast, efficient method to digitize microfilm images. 

    Camera vs. Film Scanner?

    Yes, the FHL microfilm scanners produce clear, crisp images at no cost to the user. But, sometimes -- like during busy conference weeks -- there can be a waiting line for time on the machines.

    And, yes, smartphone and tablet cameras with scanning apps can do a good job digitizing any image. But, I wondered if there was a method that might be faster, yield sharp images, and be easy to use.

    The Samsung WF250F is advertised as a compact 14 megapixel digital camera that performs especially well in low-light conditions. But, for me, it's standout feature is WiFi connectivity making it possible to use a smartphone as a remote shutter release. 

    I attached the camera to my Joby Gorillapod using a universal smartphone mount, and wrapped the legs of the Gorillapod around the film ledge of the microfilm reader. The camera was suspended above the image table.


    This photo shows the camera suspended above the image viewing table
    with my iPhone acting as a Remote Shutter Release. The
    smartphone shows the same view as the camera viewfinder.


    Next, I activated the WifFi link on the camera, connected to my iPhone and . . . the image viewed by the camera lens was now shown on my iPhone. The iPhone app allowed me to zoom in for the picture, adjust focus, and remotely activate the shutter. This was the most important feature. 

    The resulting photo was clear and readable. Certainly acceptable for reading, transcribing, and extracting information.


    Here is the image taken with the Samsung/WiFi setup. My iPhone is in the foreground.
    The image is certainly clear enough to be used on my computer for reading and
    transcribing. Click on the image for a full-size version

    But, was it "as good as" the microfilm scanner? No. But using the camera at the microfilm reader was undoubtedly faster than unloading the film, going over to the microfilm scanner, reloading, and scanning images. 

    When Time is Limited

    My average digitizing time was about thirty images in ten minutes, or three photos per minute. With one hand on the microfilm handle to forward the film, and one hand holding my phone with my thumb ready to hit the Shutter button, I was able to quickly film the entire index to a Vermont Land Record book. The images are definitely clear enough to be read and transcribed.

    I may not use this method for all digitizing, but when the library is busy or I need to make many images from the same film, a WiFi camera is a cool tool for the digitizing toolkit.



    RootsTech 2014 Syllabus Now OnLine

    Roots tech

    RootsTech has posted the full syllabus for all scheduled event presentations online at the event website Syllabus page. 

    The website notes that the syllabus is "Available for a "Limited Time." Material is posted individually by session and in an all-session zip file download. This is undoubtedly good news for anyone who wants to preview the sessions or is unable to attend the conference and wants to know more about the topics and speakers.

    I will be presenting three sessions and participating in a panel discussion with Lisa Louise Cooke and Allison Dolan --

    Thursday, 10:30 a.m.
    Scrivener for Family Historians: Organize, Share, and Write Your Family History  RT1206 Syllabus

    Friday, 10:30 a.m.
    Panel Discussion: Self-Professed Uber-Organized Freaks Talk Genealogy Tech Organization with Lisa Louise Cooke, Allison Dolan, Denise Levenick
    RT 1417 Syllabus

    Friday, 2:30 p.m.
    The Paper-Less Genealogist: Organizing Your Genealogy with Digital Files GS 1208 Syllabus

    Friday, 4:30 p.m.  
    How to Scan an Elephant: Digitizing Your Family History from Artifact to Zombie RT1205 Syllabus

    I hope to see you at Roots Tech, but if you can't make it to Salt Lake City, stay tuned for highlights at The Family Curator.


    What's Better Than a Genealogy Conference in Salt Lake City?

    Answer: A genealogy conference AND a week-long genealogy institute AND research at the Family History Library!

    I love this banner outside the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

    The snow was falling Wednesday morning when I arrived in Salt Lake City, which means only one thing to a genealogist -- it's a great day for The Library! And I wasn't the only one who thought so. Colleagues from all corners of the country were busily working at the research tables and film readers.It always takes me a good half-day to get re-acquainted with where I am and what I need to do, but every visit to the FHL makes my orientation easier. I had a list of films and filming "projects" ready to go and was able to make good progress.

    Unfortunately, fellow Californian Sheri Fenley was stuck in fog and fuel-delays and missed most of the research day, but she was around for a great meal at The Red Iguana with SLIG Coordinator Christy Fillerup and friends.


    Meeting new and old friends for dinner. (Photo thanks to Adele Marcum)

    Arrived at last, The Educated Genealogist Sheri Fenley.

    Friday and Saturday, January 10 and 11, the Association of Professional Genealogists' Professional Management Conference offered two days of networking, workshops, and presentations for the 280 attending APG members. Keynote sessions by D. Joshua Taylor and Judy G. Russell kicked-off each day and a lively dessert reception offered time for networking with colleagues.

    Michelle Goodrum, Elissa Scalise Powell, and Shelley Bishop
    at the APT-PMC Dessert Reception, with Barry Kline in the background!

    Kimberly T. Powell, of Oakdale, Pennsylvania, was introduced as the incoming APG President, succeeding Kenyatta Barry of Santa Monica, California. Cathy Desmarais, CG, of Vermont will serve as APG vice president; Janice Prater of Denver, Colorado will serve as secretary; Joan Peake of West Virgina will serve as treasurer. The full APG Board is named here.

    Genealogists fortunate enough to make travel connections despite weather-related delays took advantage of research hours at the Family History Library. I spent an entire day happily examining microfilm and testing various methods of digitizing films at the film viewer stations. (Results forthcoming!) 


    View of Temple Square from the Famiy History Library.

    Sunday in Salt Lake City was a break between events before the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) gets underway with evening registration and classes on Monday morning. It will be another busy week of genealogy, snow or no-snow!


    Happy Birthday, Mom!

    Suzanne brown

    Happy Birthday to my beautiful mom, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

    Stay tuned to this space for information about the Suzanne Winsor Freeman Memorial Student Genealogy Grant. Since 2011, in honor of Suzanne Freeman's interest in family history, each year a young genealogist is selected to receive funds to further his or her genealogy education.

    Previous student recipients have included Anthony Ray of Palmdale, California; A.C. Ivory of Salt Lake City, Utah; Elyse Doerflinger of Lomita, California, and Mike Savoca of Union, New Jersey.


    New Year's Day in Pasadena - Then and Now

    When my dad gave me his parent's old photo albums, I didn't expect to find snapshots taken in Pasadena, where I now live. My grandparents lived in San Juan Capistrano and Santa Ana, both towns in Orange County, California. Pasadena was a bit of a drive, even in 1923. So, it was a nice surprise to find several pages featuring photos from the Tournament of Roses Parade, January 1, 1923. 

    PasadenaRoseParade 1PasadenaRoseParade 2

    I tried to find the church tower pictured in background of this photo, but I think either the route was different in 1923, or the tower has been torn down. I'm going to have to do a bit of research at the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Headquarters Library or at the Pasadena Museum of HIstory.

    This year I learned that every year, local hot rod clubs meet in East Pasadena on New Year's Eve morning and cruise the parade route -- east to west, then west to east just like the parade. My dad brought his 1951 Ford pickup for the ride this year, but I missed catching his photo along the route. Too fast! Instead, I snapped these classics



    When I saw Dad turning the corner, we caught up with them for a great photo-op in front of the Pasadena City Hall.


    Ed and Polly May with their 1951 Ford
    in front of Pasadena City Hall, December 31, 2013


    May All Your Christmas Dreams Come True

    Best Wishes for a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014!


    A Blog-Caroling We Will Go

    to FootnoteMaven's Blog, Hey Ho!

    "Silent Night" by Elvis. A favorite  rendition of my favorite carol. Thank you FootnoteMaven for continuing this wonderful tradition.


    Why the Kindle HDX is In My Stocking This Christmas

    First Thoughts on the New Kindle HDX

    After snapping up the new Kindle Fire HDX 7" in the frenzy of Cyber-Monday sales, I admit to a bit of buyer's remorse. I wasn't sure I needed or wanted a second tablet. I'm already a happy iPad user and didn't want to replace my iOS device for mail, web browsing, social media. But I did want a better e-reader. And with new Kindle Deals almost every day, it seemed like a good time to take a closer look.

    A Kind of Kindle Tale

    I've been a fan of ebooks since the early Kindle days. My first e-reader was the Keyboard Kindle. I really liked reading outdoors, traveling with so many books at hand, the handy dictionary (I was an English teacher, after all!).

    Then, along came the iPad and the Kindle App that brought my ebooks to the Apple device. I liked the short LCD text on white, but the iPad really wasn't useful for reading outside the house. And, the bright screen was hard on my eyes for extended reading. The large screen was still great for PDFs and journals, but I enjoyed novels and heavy text more on the e-ink reader.

    When the smaller, lighter, Kindle Touch was announced, I gave my keyboard model to my husband and moved to the new model. To be honest, I was never a fan of the Touch. To my eyes, there wasn't enough contrast between text and background for comfortable reading. I liked the size and weight, but just didn't enjoy the reading experience. I went back to the keyboard Kindle and used the iPad.

    The  Kindle Paperwhite promised to improve readability with a built-in light in an e-reader that was as small and nearly as light-weight as the Touch. It worked. I could read in bed without turning on a light, and I could still read outdoors. New software features made it easier to annotate passages, upload PDFs, or go out on the web. 

    But a funny thing happened along my e-reader path. I got used to the nice bright iPad screen and seeing photos or other embedded images in crisp resolution or full color.  And the Amazon Kindle market exploded with new content, both print and video… and audio. 

    The Hills Are Alive. . . With the Sounds of Kindle

    Did I mention that I enjoy audiobooks too? When I was working on my graduate degree in English, I discovered that listening to audiobooks via or other providers could help boost the number of 19th century English novels consumed in a semester. Older Kindle models don't all have audio capability, but of course, the iPad offers the world of iTunes and other web content.

    One of the less-known features of the Amazon jungle is the almost uncanny Whispersync -- whereby a spoken-word book will sync with your e-reader page. I wish this technology had been available when I was in grad school! I can only imagine enjoying all 848 pages of Dombey and Sons by alternating audio and reading. 

    The first generation Paperwhite didn't have audio capability; but the new Kindle Fire HD and HDX models offer a full color and audio experience. The newest Kindle Fire HDX offers "stunning" color and the exclusive Mayday Button. Plus, easier access to the Amazon jungle of free movie streaming and book borrowing for members of Amazon Prime (that's me!).

    Library Without Walls

    Did I mention that I love libraries? And as an Amazon Prime member, I have access to a BIG BIG library? Prime members can borrow one book per month for free; titles depend on the current selection. In addition, Prime members also have first peek at new releases through the Kindle First program and can download one featured book free every month. 

    For December, the featured Kindle First books included titles in four genres:

    Women's Fiction - Soy Sauce for Beginners  by Kirstin Chen

    Thriller - The Widow File  by S.G. Redling

    Romance - Sweet Nothings  by Kim Law

    Young Adult - Timebound  by Rysa Walker

    So, What Do I Think About the New Kindle Fire HDX?

    I'm getting there. First, I have to mention the Mayday button. I've never called Kindle tech support, but I've answered plenty of calls from family members who want a little help with their e-reader devices. I was intrigued by the notion of 15-second support response from a pleasant and helpful R.P. (Real Person).

    So, I received my new Kindle Fire HDX - 7-inch and all my Kindle books were already loaded. I started reading Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques  by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith right where I left off when reading the book on my iPad. The little 7-inch Fire is the perfect size for holding with one hand and the sharp screen makes the the text crisp and clear. The only problem was that in the evening and early morning, the screen was pretty bright, in fact, it was uncomfortably bright. And, although I could find the control to adjust font, font size, or change from white, to off-white paper, to black screen with white text, I couldn't figure out how to adjust the brightness.

    Mayday to the Rescue

    At 6 a.m I was searching the User's Guide and then in the Amazon forums for an answer. Finally, my husband looked over and suggested that I hit the Mayday button. I'd forgotten all about it. So, lying there in bed with my hair standing on end, I met Chuck  who answered my distress call in under ten seconds. 

    It was a good thing he couldn't see me because it was still early morning in Southern California. Chuck looked kinda like a guy-version of Amy, the redhead in the Amazon Kindle commercials. He spoke with a Texas twang and drew with a highlighter to show me the control I had missed. In less than a minute I had the brightness adjusted, and learned how to access the entire set of usability controls. (Of course, I could have just taken the user's tour when I first opened the device!).

    That was pretty cool. No, that was WAY COOL. To touch a button and have instant tech support. Score BIG for Amazon Kindle.

    Bottom Line

    Will the Kindle Fire HDX replace my iPad? No. I don't plan to move my email to the Kindle, and although the web surfing is super-fast on the Kindle, I still like the larger iPad screen size. 

    For me, the Kindle is a reading device. I've watched free streaming movies and TV shows on it and the color is fabulous. There's no buffering (like on my iPad) and the selection process is streamlined and direct. The 7-inch size makes is fine for a single user, but it's small. The size, however, is what makes it light and easy to hold for reading, and an easy fit inside my purse or a large pocket.

    As an e-reader, the Kindle really shines. And, there are many features I have yet to explore, like Goodreads integration, collection organization, and immersion reading where words are highlighted as they are read aloud in the audiobook version.

    Technology changes so quickly that I always feel one or more versions behind the cutting edge. The Kindles' lower price make it an attractive device for experiencing new features and new ways to enjoy books for a lot less money than other tablets. Combined with the benefits from Amazon Prime membership, the Kindle offers a lot of "bang for the buck" and I'm very happy with what's in my Christmas stocking after all!

    Here's the model I bought: Kindle Fire HDX 7-inch, Wi-Fi only, with Special Offers

    Kindle Deals are changing every day with new prices and financing announced often. Check out Kindle Deals for the latest specials. 

    The Kindle Fire HD vs. HDX

    Available in 7-inch or 8.9-inch sizes. Both the HD and HDX models have many of the same e-reader features, but only the HDX models have the highest resolution screen and the exclusive Mayday button.



    Note: Amazon Affiliate links.


    A Christmas Gift: Shades of the Departed Toys Issue


    Shades of the Departed: Toys

    Editor/Publisher has donned her tiara to announce the Christmas 2013 issue of Shades of the Departed Magazine: Toys. Read your free copy here and Merry Christmas to all! Thank you once again, footnoteMaven, for a wonderful holiday gift!

    P.S. Miss Penelope Dreadful's Irish cousin Dervla Dreadful has provided a most charming contribution to Toys . Clearly, spinning tales runs in the family. 

    Table Of Contents

    On The Cover Of Shades
    The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe - Editor

    Dressed To The Nines
    The Well Dressed Doll - Maureen Taylor

    Watch The Birdie
    Toys Used As Accessories In Photographic Studios - Brett Payne

    Toys, Family Stories, & Junk Piles - Caroline Pointer

    Appealing Subjects
    The Appeal of Toys - Craig Manson

    Queen Victoria’s Dolls
    Wooden and Paper - fM

    Dervla “Dare” Dreadful
    A Dreadful Adventure - A Doll’s Story

    The Healing Brush
    Use Your Imagination - Janine Smith

    An iAncestor Christmas
    All I Want For Christmas - Denise Barrett Olson

    The Toy Shop Album
    Toys In Old Photos

    Protecting An Antique Book - Denise Levenick

    The Last Picture Show
    Elijah B. Core - Children’s Portrait Specialist


    The Family Curator's Guide to Holiday Re-Gifting

    Cased Photographs

    How to Re-Gift a Future Family Keepsake

    If you're thinking about passing on a family heirloom this holiday season, take time to make your something so special that the recipient will be delighted you stayed out of the Mall and went shopping in your family archive.

    My late mother-in-law was the Queen of ReGifting. No last-year's fad gifts for this lady; her double-duty gifts were typically last-generation. She loved to shop at local charity  thrift shops, estate sales, junk sales, department store sales. . . you get the picture.

    One year, all the men in the family received multiple pairs of swimming trunks -- for Christmas. They were on sale. No kidding. Even California has seasons. The women received estate jewelry -- one sister-in-law opened a beautiful gold and jet brooch; another received a matching bracelet; my package held the earrings to complete the set.  We took turns trying on the complete ensemble and drew straws to see who would take it home.

    First Rule of Re-Gifting

    Do NOT break up an heirloom set of anything.

    My husband and brother-in-law celebrated birthdays a few days apart, so their mother often gave them similar gifts -- shirts and pajamas were popular until she found a new thrift store specializing in estate silver, or sorta-silver. One year they each received lovely silver covered vegetable dishes, engraved with someone else's initials. Sorry, but there is no way that the letter "S" looks like "L."

    Second Rule of Re-Gifting

    Think twice about giving gifts with Superman's monogram. 

    I enjoy displaying our son's little silver baby cups, dents and all, on a table in the dining room. My mother-in-law kindly gave brought over my husband's silver cups to add to the collection, but she didn't stop there. Soon, I had brightly polished baby cups belonging to Edith, Millie, and Baby Susie -- and we don't even have daughters! 

    Third Rule of Re-Gifting

    Consider carefully before changing a collection into clutter.

    My mother-in-law was generous to a fault, but every so often she scored big in my book.

    Breaking the Rules

    In the days when she was still cruising the streets of Pasadena in her '87 Olds, Mary trawled a regular route of second-hand stores in the greater Los Angeles basin. Noticing my interest in family history, she picked up several cased photographs on one excursion and  gave them to me "because you like these pictures."

    My mother-in-law appreciated beautiful handwork, and often gave me hand stitched table linens or embroidered hand towels. She recognized memories held by family keepsakes and wasn't put off by personalization. In fact, I think she knew that often the most interesting pieces are personalized. And, what's wrong with that? As long as there's room to add a new initial or name, a keepsake can keep adding more history.

    As the lucky beneficiaries of many re-gifts, it's sometimes hard to remember what keepsakes started out "in the family" and what started out in another home. In some cases, many years have passed since these treasures moved into our house, and I can't remember much at all about them. All of which makes me very appreciative of the few items that still hold their stories, whether it's a handwritten note tucked inside a coffee pot or a little piece of paper in a candy dish. 

    Vintage Candy Dish

    One of my favorite keepsakes. No strings attached with this candy dish. The note reads: "Nothing special about this but it is nice -- for candy, olives, pickles, etc."

    A Family Keepsake Needs More than a Tiny Gift Tag

    Before presenting your gift on Christmas morning, take time to write a short note to go along with the item. You don't need to have perfect penmanship; you're handwritten note is a memento all by itself. Use a dark ink pen or pencil on the best quality paper you have available -- old-fashioned rag paper stationery or a piece of "resume" paper will last the longest. Avoid newsprint or recycled paper.

    Write a conversational letter to the recipient, or just  short history with bullet points, whatever style suits you best. Be sure to include --

    • the date and occasion for the gift
    • your name
    • the recipient's name
    • where you are each living
    • how you came to own or purchase the item
    • where and when it was made, if known
    • why it is significant to you or your family
    • why you are giving it to this person
    • a description that includes size, color, shape, etc. (If the item itself is lost or becomes separated from your note, someone will know what to look for.)

    You might consider attaching the note to the item in some way (on the back of a painting or piece of furniture), or adding an Heirloom Registry identification plaque with online registration of the keepsake's history. You could also photograph the item and place a copy of the photo and your note in your genealogy or estate papers so other family members will know what happened to this family heirloom.

    Family Heirlooms can be a wonderful legacy, but without the story, it's just stuff.


    Page 1 ... 4 5 6 7 8 ... 49 Next 15 Entries »
    Find us on Google+