Saturday, December 25, 2010

My Secret Holiday Addiction

Cheesy Christmas movies, is there anything better? Every year I search through the bins of Walmart, Sam's and Best Buy to see if there is some black and white Christmas movie I have never seen. I do searches on Amazon for Christmas movies I have to see if a recommendation will come up for a movie I do not have, and I am never disappointed.

From "A Christmas Wish", "It Happened on 5th Avenue" or "Christmas in Connecticut" I am hooked. While the movies in black and white hold a particular place in my heart, watching Arnold in "Jingle All the Way" always brings a smile to my face. And I cannot decorate the Christmas tree without Chevy Chase's National Lampoon's Christmas.

The newest addition to the bargain bins are collections of Christmas episodes from classic television series. Watch McNale's navy capture the Japanese while bringing toys to an orphanage or Samantha and Darrin help an orphan believe in Santa Claus. For a real treat you can watch an anthology of all the Saturday Night Live Christmas skits.

So what does all of this have to do with genealogy or family history? I could try to find some profound hidden meaning, but I just like them. While my son Clayton does not share my passion, he does admit to enjoying National Lampoon's Christmas. My granddaughter Tori refuses to watch any of y black and white movies, but the Home Alone and Santa Claus movies are watched every year.

Family traditions are important whether it is the family silver that is used on the dinner table, the hand made ornaments on the tree or the reading of "The Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve.

Oh, and Tori did pick out a movie to add to my collection this year: "The Muppets Christmas Carol"! She never really warmed up to Bill Murray's version "Scrooged"!

Merry Christmas!

For more ideas on exploring and creating your own family traditions visit Use the code BLOG for free shipping.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Catching Up: Doctors, Holidays and Everyday Genealogy!

Where to start?

I spent 4 weeks this fall on short term disability. I went through various doctor appointments and procedures in an attempt to find a resolution for the problems with the nerves in my neck and arm since the car accident. There was the culture shock of going back to work. I picked Thanksgiving week to return so I would be able to ease into work with a short week. It was a good plan and I am now back at work full time.

My granddaughter, Tori had an recurrence of CRMO (a rare bone condition) and had to spent her birthday in All Children's Hospital. She is a real trooper and if a child has to be in the hospital All Children's Hospital is the best facility around. She is now on a new protocol and doing much better.

Then came the biggest problem of the holiday season. How do you decorate for Christmas with cases of calendars in the living room!

Yes, Everyday Genealogy calendars are populating the area in the living room where the Christmas Tree usually stands. With some creative arranging and a hand truck Chuck has managed to move the calendars so we can put up the Christmas Tree!

Chuck's parents will be arriving soon so I am busy converting the office into a guest room. They are here to celebrate the holidays and warm up from the cold and snow of Minnesota. We are also anticipating the 100th birthday of Theresa Steigerwald Steinkellner, Chuck's great aunt the day after Christmas. The genealogist in me is waiting to see how many 'new' relatives I can find at the party!

And this morning I received a great birthday present! In today's Sunday Tampa Tribune Sharon Tate Moody wrote about the birth of the Everyday Genealogy Desk Calendar! If you would like to read the article follow this link:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Everyday Genealogy: Ice Storms, Snow Storms and the Next Generation of...

Everyday Genealogy: Ice Storms, Snow Storms and the Next Generation of...: "I remember the winters growing up in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago as if they were yesterday. Ice storms, snowstorms and those beloved..."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My Wish List for the Holidays: Bluetooth, a Heat Lamp and Nellie Evans Album

The holidays are here and everyone is busy making their lists and checking them twice. I make it even more difficult for family and friends because my birthday is also in December. What to get Pattie?

This year I am asking for practical items - my new car came with Bluetooth so I have asked my son to 'activate' it or whatever needs to be done so I can use it. I may suggest he start with Chuck's car first to make sure mine goes smoothly.

I asked Chuck to install a heat lamp in the master bathroom. It seems either the winters in Florida are getting colder or I am getting cold easier.

While both of these items are all about me I would give them up if only someone would locate Nellie Evans photo album! I saw it once and should have grabbed it, but I didn't and now I don't know when it will surface again.

Nellie Neilson Schultz Evans is Chuck's great great grandmother and quite an elusive figure. She was born in Philadelphia in the 1856 and died in DuPage County Illinois in 1935. The one and only time I saw the album I had not started researching the Schultz family.

One afternoon Chuck's mom showed me Nellie's photo album. The only people she could identify was Nellie and her second husband Wilson Evans. I remember that Nellie was always the shortest person in the pictures. There were others, but at that time I had no idea who they might be. Now years later I think I might be able to identify more of the people and possibly date the photos based on the clothing and surroundings. So, what is stopping me?

Chuck's parents moved to Minnesota soon after I saw the album and never finished unpacking. Nellie's photo album is packed away and stored in the rafters of Chuck's younger brother Carl's garage. There is no time table as to when the boxes will be unpacked. The other issue is what the condition will be when it is found.

If there is a genealogist in your family the most precious gift you might give them is sitting in your closet or locked in your memories. Family pictures, original records (birth certificates or service records) diaries or a platter used to serve holiday meals will be appreciated much more than something bought at the mall.

If you do not have a family artifact to share I will put in a plug for my 2011 Genealogy Calendar - Everyday Genealogy. With 365 tips, hints and ideas it will aid everyone in their genealogy research. If you use the promotion code BLOG shipping will be free. You can click on the title of this article or go to to check it out.

Happy Holidays

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving - Then and Now

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, whatever happened to 'Over the river and through the woods?"

I remember sitting in the back seat of my parent's car driving to Grandma and Grandpa's house on Thanksgiving Day. It was not a long drive, maybe 15 minutes but the anticipation was great. I remember singing the song in my head wondering how long it would take to get there in a carriage and how would the horse know the way?

Grandma made the best dinners and I always looked forward to them. Plus I would get to see Perry and Eddie (Aunt Mabel's sons) and Butch and Cathy (Uncle Newt's children). I was the youngest but they did not seem to care. Sure Eddie pulled my ringlets one year and Butch teased me but since I was an only child it was great to be part of the extended Pahlke family.

All the adults and children were in their Sunday best - shirts and ties for the men (old and young) and dresses or suits for the women/young ladies.

There would be a bar set up and Uncle Sandy would be making cocktails for the grownups. We would take out the Chinese Checkers and all five cousins would play. I learned quickly that being the youngest did not mean I would get any special treatment.

Finally it would be time to eat. There was a grownups table and a children's table. Sometimes there would be additional people there to share our meal and they would usually eat at our table.

It was a very traditional Thanksgiving meal and I always ate more than I should. There was one dish I never tried... Mince meat pie. I never understood what a mince was and had never heard of that type of animal so I stuck with pumpkin pie!

It is important to remember and record our family traditions. I have many pictures of Thanksgivings and Christmases at Grandmas and I treasure them and the memories. My cousins will always be young in my memories,Grandma will always have that twinkle in her eye and my dad will be napping on her couch after dinner.

Now that I have my own family what is our family tradition? I am hosting "Turkey and Texas Hold'em" for our family and friends on Saturday! Not quite my grandmother's Thanksgiving.

BTW - my sister Mary was born when I was nine years old. She and I both consider ourselves 'only children'. Mary's traditional Thanksgiving dinner is pizza. Her husband Tony is an expert at creating incredible pizzas.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Continuing Adventures of my eReader and Me

Oh that eReader of mine! I have been working with it for the last week trying to decide if I was going to keep it or send it back. At one point I was VERY happy I had bought the 'extra' warranty because I almost threw it against the wall.

Then I started thinking - why did I have to read books with it? That was when it became fun.

I am going to have a vendor table at the Florida State Genealogical Society Conference to sell my pet project "Everyday Genealogy - the Desk Calendar" and was trying to come up with display items. AH!!!! My eReader supports jpegs and has a 'Slide Show' option.

Since my friend Pam Treme and I will also be promoting our 'Technology Tamers' training programs I set about gathering jpegs. For Everyday Genealogy I collected the various jpegs I have for the calendar and the iPhone app. For Technology Tamers I went into our PowerPoint Presentations and saved various pages as jpegs (an option in the Save As feature in Powerpoint).

Within an half hour I was loading these jpegs onto my eReader and WHAM I had a slide show. The eReader has options for the speed of the slide show and the transitions. And best of all my eReader came with a stand. I now had a display for my vendor table.

So, what else is my eReader good at doing - besides reading books? It also has a web browser so I decided to set up some of my favortie genealogy websites (Mmmm to help answer questions that may come up.

Last but not least, I did load some books - mine and Pam's. The eReader can import PDFs that you, the everyday person creates. Pam and I have both created Family History Books and Pam has created work books for some of our classes. Now we will be able to show these books at our vendor table without carrying them around.

So, I guess I'll keep the eReader - I may even read a book on it one of these days!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

eReaders and that Calendar Project

A while back I wrote about my ambivalence towards eBooks and eReaders. I did download the Kindle reader onto my son's iPad but never managed to actually read the one book I purchased online. I later just ordered it from Amazon and read it.

Last weekend I was channel surfing and saw that QVC had an eReader as a TSV (Today's Special Value). While I was watching the demonstrations and listening to the testimonials from the viewers I realized I had to buy one. Not because I wanted to read the latest David Baldacci best seller electronically or because I really needed to cut down on the number of bookcases in the house. That was all too practical! It was those PDF's that are floating around my laptop, blackberry and other workstations.

PDF's have become the 'new' newspaper. Not only are genealogical societies cutting costs and using them to distribute their newsletters but the majority of old books I download from Google Books are in PDF form. I also PDF larger documents (e.g. pension files, family memoirs)so I can read them later. So, for 5 easy payments and the ability to try it until January 31 I bought it.

My new Pandigital eReader should arrive Friday or Saturday - about the time a semi will be delivering 2500 calendars to my doorstep. You might have heard of it - Everyday Genealogy? It goes on sale this weekend!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birth of Everyday Genealogy

Everyday Genealogy
What are you suppose to do with all the notes and handouts you accumulate while attending genealogy meetings, seminars, or just surfing the Internet?

I had asked myself this question just after coming home from an excellent presentation and wondering where to put my handout. There was the pile of unfiled family documents. This would be a logical place, but they were in no immediate danger of being filed. I found another stack of papers; these were copies of magazines I thought might come in handy and print outs of websites I did not want to forget. As I went through the stack, I found so many great sites I started making notes for myself and friends. I realized I had to organize all this valuable information in some manner, but was not sure how or where.

Flash forward a couple of weeks
My friend Pam Tremé and I do technology-related genealogy presentations under the name of the Technology Tamers. One Sunday I was surfing the net and toying with some ideas for presentations when the proverbial bolt of lightning struck me. Could we come up with 365 genealogy tips? I opened Excel and started typing in the titles of some of our presentations and articles we had published. Then I listed the 50 states, 5 or 6 countries one of us had researched and the major wars and conflicts in U.S. History.

I forwarded my list to Pam and told her I thought we should put together a desk calendar with a tip a day for genealogists. Pam showed mild interest and said, “This would be a good project for you.” It appeared that this would be a solo project. The winter in Florida was unusually cold. So, for the next few weekends, I was curled up on the couch researching and composing.

When I had over 200 tips, I started to put together proposals to send to various calendar publishers to see if they would be interested in producing my calendar. I researched the ratings for Who Do You Think You Are? and found statistics about the explosion of genealogy as a hobby. Encouraged, I formatted my first spreadsheet with the topics and my first 200 tips. Days became weeks, and finally, I received the publisher’s responses—Thanks but no thanks!

While not completely surprised, I was disappointed. I searched the various self-publishing sites but none of them accommodated my idea for a tip a day. I told my family I was giving up on the idea and put my spreadsheet away.

What happens in Vegas…?
My husband goes to Las Vegas a couple of times a year with his brother to play blackjack and bond. This year when he came back he had an announcement; Bill would find a printer for my calendar. My brother-in-law’s company prints cards (hotel keys, phone cards, etc.) but not calendars. Therefore, it had never crossed my mind to ask for his help. I was now entering the world of self-publishing. Oh, and I was about 165 tips short of my goal of 365!

It has been a long four months since that trip to Las Vegas and I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about ISBN numbers, selling on Amazon, creating my own website, and even translating this project to an iPhone application. Pam has been there encouraging me, offering additional topics, authoring the ‘New Year’s Resolution’ tips, and coming up with the title!

Everyday Genealogy
While putting together Everyday Genealogy, I learned so much about military research, the formation of the United States, and historical events I never knew. When I open up the latest edition of Family Tree Magazine or Internet Genealogy, I can smile at a ‘new’ website they are featuring and remember when I discovered it and added it to my spreadsheet.

Everyday Genealogy will hit the stands (that is, be shipped to my house) October 20th. Will it be a success? Can I sell 3,000 copies? I am not sure what the fate of Everyday Genealogy will be but 2010 has been one year of research I will never forget.

If you would like to see the results of all of my hard work—that is, order a calendar—email me at Or, visit my website at to see sample pages from my calendar.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Everyday Genealogy: Everyday Genealogy to be available on iPhones!

Everyday Genealogy: Everyday Genealogy to be available on iPhones!: "Just wanted to let you now that Everyday Genealogy will also be available as an iPhone application this fall! And I made sure that it will w..."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lunch Boxes and Family Ties

It's back to school season, which meant taking Tori for her school supplies. This has become an annual ritual which many dread, but we enjoy.

Once we have checked off the mandatory classroom supplies it is time to find the perfect lunch box. Tori LOVES to take her lunch, she contends that the school purposely lies when it posts the lunch menu each week. There are always substitutions. This year's lunch box was the biggest one on the shelf and it brought back memories.

My dad brought his lunch to work everyday. Mom baked a cake every week, made his sandwiches and many packaged up side items and snacks every evening. In the morning dad packed his lunch in a metal domed lunch box.

Tori's lunch box was a thermal version of dad's metal lunch box, dome and all. When I questioned her choice (not very feminine) she said that the most important thing was that it would hold ALL her snacks and sandwich.

Tori's box of school supplies is in the office until next week. Everytime I look at it and see that lunch box I think of my dad and all the lunches he brought to work in his.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pictures and Memories....

Pictures bring back memories of our youth and in my case of hours spent scanning them.

For the last couple of days I have been gathering pictures to include on Chuck and Shirley's new photo frame. Looking at them I remember vacations, family gatherings and hours spent scanning!

I did the majority of the scanning during some breaks in my employment and while I enjoyed not working a 'day job' scanning is WORK. Actually it is not just the scanning, but going through all the photo albums to find the pictures. In my case I gave up on the albums in the mid 1990's and started using boxes so that added another layer of frustration.

There is also the problem of getting the pictures OUT of the albums. I bought all those albums in the 1980's when the pictures magically 'stuck' to the page in the album. However, now in 2010 the pictures have become one with the page.

Another 'oops' I encountered while scanning was that no one ever mentioned coming up with a name convention! How many pictures can you call "Clayton_Smiling" or "Clayton_Crying" when you have 15 albums covering the first 10 years of a child's life?

So, as I go down memory lane looking AT the pictures I will also remember what it took to digitize them.

BTW - I will be bringing two digital video cameras and a digital camera to the anniversary party!

Friday, July 30, 2010

New Things - A Car, A Calendar and Physical Therapy

The summer has not been boring! Trying to fit working on EVERYDAY GENEALOGY, my 'day job' in the software industry and weekends with my wonderful granddaughter Tori was hard enough. Then came the car accident, buying a new car and now physical therapy - it's enough to tire a girl out.

But, enough about me and more about EVERYDAY GENEALOGY . I had an idea early in 2010 that a calendar would be a great project for a group of friends or a society to create and sell. By doing it as a group no one person would have to pull together 365 tips. I am lucky to have a friend like Pam who knew that this was something I could do and nudged me to do it myself. She also has helped me at times when I was in a slump and given me a few tips of her own!

I submitted the concept to a publisher and was turned down. Chuck, my practical half, thought that I should go ahead and publish it on my own. I researched a number of the self publishing companies and did not find one that did 'sheet a day' types of calendars. Lucky for me, through family contacts I have found a printer, tapped my sister to handle the graphics and a host of friends to help me pick out the cover art!

So next week I should be sending the calendar to the printer, taking Tori shopping for school supplies and clothes and starting physical therapy.

Did I mention that Chuck found a soft shell baby turtle by the back door?

It seems when it hatched it missed the pond (where its parents live). Chuck and Tori thought we should keep it in the house until it gets a little bigger. It now lives in an aquarium on the lanai and I have a container of worms (the turtle's favorite food) in my refrigerator.

More on the turtle, Everyday Genealogy and my boring life next time.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Feeling the Pressure!

Aren't hobbies suppose to be fun? That's what my friend Pam keeps saying about genealogy, but sometimes we ambush ourselves.

First, there is the 'secret genealogy' project. The basic work is done and I am about fifty percent done with the proofreading. I was actually feeling pretty good about it. My deadline is the end of the month and even with the car accident I was making good progress.


There it was at the door when I got home. The LARGE box from Amazon. This is usually a 'happy moment' because a book I ordered has arrived. Not this time. This was my in-laws anniversary present. A 12" electronic photo frame and of course we know who is loading all those pictures, making sure they are properly cropped, focused and censored. Censored? Unfortunately there have been a number of divorces in the family, so I have to make sure to not include the 'exes'.

The good news is 99% of the pictures are scanned. I just have to transfer them, but I know I will find problems with the pictures and start touching them up.

And did I mention I also have to build a website and come up with a plan to announce the 'secret project' to the world?

Talk to you next week - after my appointment with the orthopedist to talk about the numbness in my left hand since the car accident.

Life is never boring!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

10 Days later.......

Has it only been 10 days since I was writing about electronic books? It seems like weeks.

The good news is I finished my 'secret' genealogy project. I have some proofreading and formatting to do and then EVERYONE will know about it.

Tori, my granddaughter has officially been diagnosed with CRMO. I will not get into the details too much, but it is heredity and is the reason she has had so many problems after breaking her collar bone and fracturing her back. I will update my Pahlke relatives since they and/or their children could be affected.

And last but not least I was hit by a dump truck (as many of you know) on Friday June 9th and totaled my car. The verdict is still out on if I have any complications. I have been having some numbness and tingling in my hands so I have an MRI scheduled for tomorrow.

Oh, and I have to go car shopping this weekend!

Hope your last 10 days have been less eventful!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Electronic Books - Really?

You may or not know, but I have hundreds of books. I like looking at them, holding them and reading them. Recently Chuck asked me why I was still buying them - couldn't I just read them electronically?

I ignored him, after 40 odd years I've become pretty good at it! But, it has been on my mind. Yesterday my friend Pam brought her "Nook" to our genealogy meeting and let me try it out. While I didn't fall in love with it, I saw Chuck's point. Maybe I should at least test drive the notion.

After reading about the Kindle, Nook, Sony eBook, etc I decided not to purchase a device at this time, but borrow Clayton's iPad. He loaded the Kindle reader onto it and I purchased my first ebook, "You Never Give Me Your Money, The Beatles After the Breakup". It seemed fitting I would buy a book about one of passions, The Beatles, for my test. What isn't there to love about the Beatles! I was also pleasantly surprised that there were a number of books by F. Scott Fitzgerald (another passion)at no cost since the copyright has run out.

So, while it is raining in Tampa I will be working on my "Secret Genealogy" project and see if I can fall in love with electronic books while reading about a group that produced awesome vinyl.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Misson Accomplished!

The invitations for the 60th Wedding Anniversary are ready to be mailed!

I created an invitation and a postcard to be returned for the R.S.V.P.. Tomorrow Chuck will go to the post office, buy the stamps for the postcards, insert them in the envelopes and then mail the invitations.

Next I'll buy the name tags!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Wedding Anniversay -> Another Genealogy Project!

My in-laws, Chuck and Shirley Schultz will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in August. Such an occasion deserves a celebration and their children decided to have a party. While I had planned to attend, I didn't think it was going to be a 'project'.

I was wrong....

I mentioned to Chuck that it would be nice if we set up an area where people could be 'interviewed' and tell a story, memory, etc about his parents. We could record them (video preferred) and then edit it and make a nice dvd. He mentioned to his brother Billy, who was tasked with sending out the invitations. I told Chuck I could do a short write up that could be included in the invitation so people would have a chance to think of the story.

Today I found out I'm now in charge of the invitations! So, tomorrow it is off to Office Depot to find stationary and envelopes. Then I'll be surfing various sites for an appropriate template for the invitations.

Just another day in the life of a genealogist.... Oh, and while I'm at Office Depot I think I'll pick up name tags, since I can't quite place a few of the people on the guest list.

I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Beginning

This is my first post!

I just finished sending out cd's of my Uncle Kenny's stories. He was quite the storyteller and it was quite a treat to listen to them. I'm just sorry I never experienced them in person.

Look for more posts, especially about my 'top secret' genealogy project.