Sunday, December 30, 2012

Welcoming in the New Year and Sharing Memories Project

New Years Eve - Sydney
It is New Years Eve and I am enjoying a quiet moment checking out Geneabloggers before we head into the centre of Sydney with some friends to see the Fireworks!!  Today there is a post advising that
Each Sunday, Olive Tree Genealogy offers a new blogging prompt under the heading Sharing Memories – Genealogy Journal Writing.  As this blog points out we spend ages researching, collecting bits and pieces and writing down stories of our great great grandparents, forgetting that we have stories of our own to share as well. 

When researching my family tree, I often sigh and wish my ancestors had recorded more of their life, kept a diary and or kept letters and newspaper cuttings.  As the Olive Tree Genealogy Blog points out, we should think of coming generations and how exciting it will be to find a record of our memories and experiences that will give them a better understanding of the time we lived in.

This project reminded me of a book that our family put together for my mother at Christmas time about ten years ago.  I wrote to all family members, sisters, grandchildren etc. a couple of months before Christmas and asked everyone to write down a couple of short stories that they could remember about our mother/grandmother.  It took a little bit of nagging and quite a few reminders but finally I was able to put together a book with everyone's stories and photos.  My mother loved the book and still reads in when she has a quiet moment.  Also, it was interesting, that on that Christmas day everyone in the family took turns for a quiet moment to read the stories that everyone had contributed.

With this in mind, my New Years resolution is to start writing down some of my memories.  What better way to start than to join in Olive Tree Genealogy's  Sharing Memories – Genealogy Journal Writing project. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge" - B is for Blogs

It is almost two week since I posted my first blog in the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge,  "A is for Apps" I have made the commitment to post a new blog each week as part of this challenge, and guess what already I have to apologise for being tardy with my second post.  I shall blame this tardiness on the fact that I have been on holidays and our Internet access was very dodgy.  Excuses over, it is time to move on to my "B for" blog.

As I lazed around the pool on Daydream Island, North Queensland, reading and sipping on icy cocktails I pondered on the letter "B". What shall I write about, Birth Certificates, Baptism, Birth notices, Banns?  I am sure these have all been done, so finally decided to dedicate my "B" post to "Blogs".

As I mentioned earlier, I have just been on three weeks annual leave. What a luxury, time to actually, read some of the many Genealogy Blogs that I have tagged, saved in Evernote with a note, for reading!!! Hence I thought it would be an opportunity to share with you some of the blogs that I have found amusing, informative and pretty!!!

Here is the list of Blogs that I have enjoyed reading over the past couple of weeks in no particular order.

1. Jana's Genealogy and Family History Blog,
2. Lonetester HQ, 
3. Geniaus, 
5. Australian Genealogy Journeys,
6. Lost Family Treasures,
7. A Rebel Hand: Nicholas Delaney of 1798,
8. Dance Skeletons,Tracing our family history to Australia, one skeleton at a time,

9. Backtracking,
10. Geneabloggers,
11. Diary of an Australian Genealogist,
12. Jax Trax,
13. Ku-ring-gai Historical Society,
14. Sepia Saturday,
15.  A Family Tapestry.

This is a short summary of some of the blogs I have enjoyed reading over the past couple of weeks.  I hope I am able to keep up with these great blogs this year and not have to wait until my holidays to catch up with them all.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge" - A is for Apps

A is  for Apps

It is the start of the festive season and my husband I are lucky enough to be taking some annual leave prior to Christmas. Due to weight limits on our flight, I made the decision to not pack my lap top and only bring my IPad. So today, I am writing my blog from my IPad for the first time.

My week of musing for my first post in the alphabet challenge is over! A is for?  Then the obvious hit me! Of course!

There are a plethora of family tree apps for genealogy and family research! And more and more are appearing each day! I thought I would write about a couple that I have found interesting.  I would also like to invite others to tell us about the Apps they have found useful. 

1. Wolfram Genealogy & History Research Tool.

If you are interested in finding out more about the times of your ancestors, this App is well worth the small cost of $4.99. This tool helps you explore the world that your ancestors lived in.

Not only does it assist you to map family relationships but also can give you information on what the towns were like at the time your ancestors were alive. You can look up what the weather was like on the day your great grand parents were married!

Another fascinating feature of this app is its ability to tell you about the historical events relative to the important events in your family's life. e.g. What was happening in the world when your mother was born or when your great aunt was married. The list goes on and on. I have found this tool to be really useful in putting together an overall picture of the times of my past family members.

2.  Ancestry App.

Keeping with my "A is for" theme the other app I would have to mention is the Ancestry App. This app lets me take my family tree where ever I go. (Now, my family think this is a bit tragic!), however it has come in very handy at many family gatherings when someone asks "when did Uncle Tom get married?" Or  "where did grandma live when she was a child?".  These questions are generally fired in my direction as the family has unofficially appointed me the "family tree geek".

For me however, the Ancestry app allows me to have more time for research. Like most of us work and family commitments prevent us from having the time we would like to have to "play" with our family tree.  Now, using the Ancestry App I am able to use the time I travel to and from work on the train for researching and connecting with Ancestry resources and other family trees.

Also, when on long trips I can entertain my self with family tree "play" while my husband is driving.

There are many new apps available for Family Tree research which I am yet to familiarise myself with. I would love to hear any recommendations from other family tree researchers.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Family Christmas Past and Present

I have just finished reading, Judy's blog Our family Christmas Now and Then,  which gives an Australian perspective on Christmas Traditions Down Under.  This blog has come about as a response to Pauleen's invitation,  'Family History Across the Seas', to take part in the 2012 Christmas GeneaMeme by describing how we celebrate Christmas in our part of the world.  What a great way to share the customs of Christmas.  I recently posted  on "Family Recipe Friday - Family Christmas Cake", one of my favorite Christmas Customs.  At the time I thought it would be good to share some other family christmas traditions, so this gives me a great opportunity to share some of our other traditions. 

I think our traditions change over time, some old ones get forgotten but often new ones come along.


Do you have any special Xmas traditions in your family?
 We have a "new tradition" that started about 5 years ago.  Following a family trip to the Zoo with my son, his wife, her parents and my nephew and his family I made up a Christmas Calendar for everyone for Christmas.  This has now become a annual family event in late November, which we plan about 6 months ahead, picking a fun venue, who ever is available comes along for a family day together. I get to take lots of photos (which I love doing) and I put them in to our annual Calendar to be given as gifts on Christmas Day. (sorts part of my Christmas shopping as well).  This year we went to Luna Park on Sydney Harbour, great day was had by all, big kids and little kids.

Is church attendance an important part of your Christmas celebrations and do you go the evening before or on Xmas Day?
 Church was a big part of our christmas celebrations when I was a child, however it does not play such an important part nowdays.

Did/do you or your children/grandchildren believe in Santa?
 Of course!!!  Isn't he real??

Do you go carolling in your neighbourhood?
 It is not general that groups go carolling in Australia however, in the town that my son lives in the local Fire Engine truck drives around with Christmas Carols over the loud speaker and they throw lollies to the children as they drive by. 

What’s your favourite Christmas music?
 I like all Christmas music, love the music from "Love Actually".

What’s your favourite Christmas carol?
 I have a few but "Away in a Manger" does bring back memories of going to church on Christmas Eve with my Nanna.

Do you have a special Xmas movie/book you like to watch/read?
 Love Actually!!

Does your family do individual gifts, gifts for littlies only, Secret Santa (aka Kris Kringle)?
 We generally do individual gifts. Sometimes we will all put in to buy something special for my Mum.

Our Christmas Table a couple of years ago
 Is your main Christmas meal indoors or outdoors, at home or away?
This depends on where we are for Christmas.  When we lived in Port MacQuarie (on the coast) we did have a couple of Christmas Lunches at the beach.  This year we having indoors.

What do you eat as your main course for the Christmas meal?
 Usually the main meal is a late lunch that carries through until the evening :)

Do you have a special recipe you use for Xmas?
Yes, the Christmas cake.

Does Christmas pudding feature on the Xmas menu? Is it your recipe or one you inherited?
 What is Christmas without a pudding!!! Often when it is time to have the pudding we are all to full and it is put aside to have later in the evening. 

Do you have any other special Christmas foods? What are they?
 Seafood is an important part of our meal, with the usual Ham, Turkey or Chicken.

Do you give home-made food/craft for gifts at Christmas?
 Yes, I used to make biscuits  as gifts, however these days I don't seem to have time. 

Do you return to your family for Xmas or vice versa?
We try to find a venue that suits the majority of the family.

Is your Christmas celebrated differently from your childhood ones? If yes, how does it differ?  
Not a lot of difference, though I think today there are more presents.

How do you celebrate Xmas with your friends? Lunch? Pre-Xmas outings? Drop-ins? 
There are generally a number of pre-christmas parties, barbeque's etc.

Do you decorate your house with lights? A little or a lot?
We have  a single strand of solar powered lights on our balcony (which has actually stayed there for the whole year).  Nothing like being prepared.

Is your neighbourhood a “Xmas lights” tour venue?
 Not in our area, but there are some suburbs in Sydney that go "all out" with the lights.

Does your family attend Carols by Candlelight singalongs/concerts? Where?
 When I was little we used to have singalongs around my Nanna's piano, but this doesn't happen now.

Christmas Tree- when camping
Have any of your Christmases been spent camping (unlikely for our northern-hemisphere friends)? We have spent a couple of Christmas's in Caravan Parks, fun now and then but not my favorite venue.

Is Christmas spent at your home, with family or at a holiday venue?
Usually at our home or a family member's home.

Do you have snow for Christmas where you live?
Not likely to happen in Australia.

Do you have a Christmas tree every year?  Yes.

Is your Christmas tree a live tree (potted/harvested) or an imitation?  Imitation.

Do you have special Xmas tree decorations? Yes I do have some special ones that have been given to me, and some others that represent special Christmas in the past.  I also started a tradition when my first grand child was born.  Each year around the first weekend in December I send my two grandchildren a Christmas tree decoration for their tree.

Which is more important to your family, Christmas or Thanksgiving? We do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Taking on the ‘Family History Through the Alphabet’ Challenge!!

Over the past couple of months as I have been flicking from one genealogy blog to another, reading the wonderful stories and viewing the beautiful old pictures than the many genealogy bloggers share with us I have noticed the number of bloggers who were taking the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge.

Now from the abundance of bloggers who have already taken on this challenge I am guessing that I am a little behind the "8 Ball" but not to worry better late than never.  I haven't given this a lot of thought as yet but think I will make Friday my Alphabet Challenge Day.  So stay tuned for my Friday's Family History Through the Alphabet stories!!!   ouch that is a mouthful!

A is for???? what will I write about?   Asylums, Ancestry, Archives, Adoption??  As I google "A"  I have found a number of great blogs which include:  A is for Assembly: "The Angels were singing", A is for Archives, and Ancestry.  Well I have a week to come up with something interesting.  Stay tuned. 

Family Recipe Friday - Family Christmas Cake

December is upon us, and it is time to start preparing for the festive season.  I don’t know about you but the traditions and family culture that surrounds Christmas fascinates me.  Every family has their own set of traditions that evolve over time, within the traditions and culture of their country, religion and ethnic backgrounds.    An important part of this evolution is the food and drink that is cooked, shared and given as gifts to family and friends.  
One of the traditions that has been passed down in our family has been the baking of the Christmas cake and Christmas pudding. 

I have fond memories of sharing in these baking activities.  The mixing, baking and hanging of the Christmas pudding was one of the highlights of Christmas with my paternal grandmother Christina Carriage (Shepherd, nee Lee)  and I have written about this in my blog on the women in my family tree

However, the family tradition that comes to mind today is closer to home and was passed on to me by my mother.  That is the baking of the traditional Christmas cake.  I am not sure of customs in other countries, but in Australia around Christmas time, when I was a child,  when someone dropped  in for a cup of tea, you would always have to have a plate piled high with slices of rich moist Christmas cake to go with it.   There are so many versions of this recipe, but here is the one that my mother used as the base for her cakes. 

She would often deviate from the recipe, adding what ever was in the pantry, for example some marmalade jam, extra nuts, glace cherries, ginger pieces etc.  As you can see from the picture taken from her recipe book, the page is well worn, with a collection of food stains, which I am sure if you analysed would be made up of spices, sugar, flour, butter and brandy or sherry. I now carry on this tradition and continue to bake this cake around the beginning of December each year. I do hope this family tradition will pass on to the next generation.

Rich Boiled Fruit Cake
 8 cups (2 ½ lb) mixed fruit
2 tablespoons golden syrup
3 tablespoons rum, sherry or brandy
¾ cups water
8 oz butter
1 ½ cups (8 oz) brown sugar
5 eggs
2 ½ cups (10 oz) plain flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg
2 oz split blanched almonds

Place the mixed fruit, golden syrup, rum, sherry or brandy and the water in a saucepan.  Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally and simmer for 2 minutes.  Pour into a bowl, cover and allow to stand overnight.  Set oven temperature at slow.  Cream butter and brown sugar together well.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Sift dry ingredients together, then sift half over the boiled fruit mixture.  Mix lightly and stir into the creamed mixture.  Add remainder of sieved dry ingredients and fold into mixture.  Place in a 9-inch round cake tin, previously lined with greaseproof paper and three thicknesses of brown paper and greased.  Arrange the split blanched almonds in a pattern on the top.  Bake in a slow oven for 3 ½ -4 hours.  Remove cake from tin, leaving paper on and leave on wire cooling tray until cool.