Monday, December 31, 2012

A twist on Gratitude Journals and Journal Jars

Our Gratitude Can

I saw this wonderful idea on facebook. Beginning January 1st, everytime something good happens to our family, we will write it on a piece of paper and drop the note in our "gratitude jar". On New Year's Eve, next year, open the jar and see how much you and your family have to be grateful for.

We will actually be using a #10 can. I used some of our favorite gratitude quotes. Below I have included them, you can use them if you like.

Cotact me If you would like me to send you the original document in pdf to use for your own can--

If you want to keep it simple just use a large canning jar.

Gratitude Quotes
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. Meister Eckhart

Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. Denis Waitley

On the recollection of so many and great favours and blessings, I now, with a high sense of gratitude, presume to offer up my sincere thanks to the Almighty, the Creator and Preserver. William Bartram

Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. Brian Tracy

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count. Neal A. Maxwel

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. John Milton

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance. Eckhart Tolle

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. Thornton Wilder

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough. Meister Eckhart

Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. Maya Angelou

You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance. Khalil Gibran


Good Things
Kelly Hamon

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Letter D---Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge

The Letter D
D is for dog, wasn't that what we first learned as we attempted to grasp the concept of the alphabet when we were little kids?

I have a great dog, his name is Heathciff and he's the best dog any one could ever have - even though he is quite naughty at times. 

Heathciff is a beautiful black lab that still will from time to time, misappropriate socks, hangers, tissue and shoes. As you can see from the the pictures below I am a proud labby moma


The last picture on the right hand side is of my husband and my pup at a park very near where my grandfather used to live in New York.

Moving on to The Letter D. The Letter D is for Dewey Henry Witt. Dewey H. Witt was my grandfather on my mother's side of the family, born 20 April 1923 at Buffalo, Erie County, New York, and died 16 May 1985 Newfane, Niagara, New York. 

He served in the United States Navy for just less then a year; Enlisted 23 Aug 1945, he was released 19 Jul 1946, due to the end of the war---he did one of the jobs that my husband (served for 20+ yrs) did in the Navy, shop keeper on the ship. From what my gram said he was in dry dock in Florida during his time in the Navy.

He went to Kinsington High School in Buffalo, New York, which I didn't know until after we moved from Buffalo. Funny thing is that I lived only a couple of blocks away from that school while living in Buffalo. For a short stint my mom  (Dewey's daughter) actually worked as a school nurse in the elementary school her father attended. I used to drive bythe school every Sunday on the way to church.

When we would visit him he would play his accordion for us; in finding his Year Book at, I also discovered he played the piano. Musical Instruments - AccordionI remember him being very interested in family history in his later years. 

When it came to his German heritage he went all out hahaha - he even got a pair of lederhosen and would wear them as he would play German Polkas and dance around a bit.

He lived in Burt New York for a long time and always said he hated to visit the city, so we rarely saw him in Buffalo where we lived, but we visited him. 

Every year we woud bring our Halloween pumpkins to grandpa to carve. Before carving them he would take us outside for a small hike to look for different things to use in the decorating/carving of the pumpkin. 

These pumpkins were like no other. Grampa would use pine cones as eye brows or mustaches, leaves for a hat, quarter apples as ears, seeds as teeth...etc. When we took the walks he used to tell us about the nature around us, he loved nature and the outdoors.

Grampa was very artistic, every pumpkin carving was a masterpiece, he also painted with oils and water colors, he took photo's, drew, and sculpted with clay too.

I think I got my love of nature and photography from him. He was also inventive, before anyone was selling water-proof camera's he had invented an apparatus for taking pictures under the water.

Every Christmas he would have presents for my cousin and I, but when my cousin wouldn't come he told me that I should have her's too---so I guess I lucked out on a couple of things when that happened, the extra present and 1 on 1 time with my grandfather.

The other thing I remember about my grampa was that he smoked a pipe, I still can remember the smell of cherry, apple and/or vanilla tobacco and I still love the smell, even though I don't smoke nor like cigarette smoke, probably  because it reminds me of my grandfather who loved me and showed me kindness.

When Grampa Witt died I grieved because he was the only father figure in my life for a very long time and he was gone. I still miss him, but I know I will see him again and that will be a grand reunion

 Kelly Hamon


The Letter E---Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge

The Letter E
Hmmm - The Letter E is for Elephant, Earth, Eggs, Eggplant, Eagle, Edward, Eskimo, Elk, and so forth.

All said though, my favorite letter E: word/object/animal is elephant, I mean who doesn't like elephants.            

Somewhere a long the line I began to collect elephants - figurines of course. I have a small, choice collection - not every elephant can join my collection, they have to be very special. 

They are such majestic animals with many human like characteristics
Adults Rescuing a drowning baby Elephant

One of my friends, that's deaf told me that when she was young her brother would tease her and say she had Elephant Shoes. To a deaf person who is reading lips, "elephant shoes" looks like "I love you", go to your mirror and check it out, and be sure not to say 'elephant shoes" to a deaf person, unless you mean it :)  

One of my adopted sisters gave me a necklace that has an elephant on it, I adore it, not just because it has an elephant on it, but because it was from her and she knows who I am and understands me---I believe that's what family is all about, that and liking each other even though we do see each others flaws and foibles.

Well to bring it back to a genealogical perspective, The Letter E is for Edward Baron who was my grandfather on my father's side. He was born the 5th of April 1912 and Died the 22nd of January 1992 at Buffalo, Erie, New York, United States and was buried in St. Stanislaus cemetery

I didn't know much about him other than he was my grandfather and his folks names were John Baran and Anna Jaskier from Austria. The lone documentation I've been able to find is a census record. The only way I knew what his folks names were was due to an interview I had with his brother Walter several years ago, just before Walter died.

I don't know this side of the family due to my mother and father's divorce when I was 4. After the divorce I didn't see my father except for the odd visit he would make on birthdays. I've come to realize in my own life as well as other people's that a family works best when all the members are an active part of it.

Elephant Shoes
Kelly Hamon


Friday, December 28, 2012

What are you creating? What's most important to you?

We all die. The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something that will. Chuck Palahniuk 

What are you creating? 
What's most important to you? 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Letter C---Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge


The Letter C

When I think of the letter C, I hear the song "C is for Cookie" sung gruffly and energetically by Cookie Monster. I still remember the first time I ever heard that silly song - I was the nanny for a young child. This little boy used to watch Sesame Street every day like clock work. One day this song comes on--and it has been stuck in my head since. I thought I would share the joy/agony.

Excuse the tangent I just went off on, but honestly that's what I think of every time I think of the letter C, hahaha.


When it comes to family history, C is for Christmas. When my cousin and I    were little girls we could always count on getting two types of gifts from my Great Great Aunt Ruth Teschner and my Great Great Aunts Meta Hammer (nee Teschner) and Gertrude Nisely (nee Teschner); clothes from Great Aunt Ruth and an embroidered pillow case from Great Great Aunt Meta and Gerty.

I guess I should back up... to me - family history isn't just genealogy, which many people see as trying to find old records of old ancestors

To me family history is a combination of 1) genealogy: uncovering the past and where I come from and 2) relishing, preserving, and focusing on the family we have now: taking pictures/scrap-booking, family get togethers, etc -- and 3) preserving our day for future generations: through journals, scrapbooks, pictures, traditions, etc---so in essence I think of family history as the past, present, and future.

So today's post is about a tradition that happened every year as I was growing up, but didn't really appreciate until the season of that tradition was gone.

I didn't appreciate her thoughtful gifts of clothes so much until I got a little older - and actually cared about what I wore. Aunt Ruth had great taste, she always bought the clothes from JC Penny's which was a big deal back than. Christmas eve I was allowed to open one gift and in hopeful anticipation of getting P.J.s  I always opened Aunt Ruth's. 

Great Great Aunt Meta and Gerty always gave us hand embroidered pillow cases, many times our names were embroidered. They were so pretty, I wish I had kept them, but I was too young to really understand or appreciate the gift, but now I love to continue the tradition with my niece.

 an embroidered pillowcase
Kelly Hamon


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Letter B---Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge

The Letter B
I chose this picture of the letter B because some times doing family history is like a maze, you never know what's just around the next turn.
One of the turns I took looking for this relative was searching the internet for information and serendipitously finding pictures of family grave stones on a great web site called

The Letter B is for Burger. My 6th great grandfather's name was Zachariah Burger. Zachariah lived from 1761 to 1836 and was buried  in Terpenning Family Ground Cemetery,   Esopus, Ulster Co., New York. 

With a little googling I learned that he had fought in the Revolutionary War, an exciting discovery for a patriotic American 

I am grateful to live in a country where I can practice my religion freely, speak freely, and enjoy an element of security from tyrannical rule. I have always admired the founding father's for having the strength to fight for their liberties, as well as all those who have paid for our freedoms with their blood

Freedoms I partake of daily. Finding that one of my relatives fought in the Revolutionary War made my heart well with pride. Made me want sing - Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA" and wave a flag.

When I think of the insurmountable challenges Zachariah Burger and those who have fought to keep America free faced and overcame- I find myself looking at my trials differently because I know if I am brave and stand up for what is right - freedom can survive and thrive. 

The letter B leaves me proud of my country, freedoms, and family.

Kelly Hamon


Monday, December 24, 2012

The Letter A---Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge


The Letter A

This kind of reminds me of Sesame Street, when they would say "and the letter today is" and "brought to you by the letter..." then they would have all kinds of things that began with that letter--it was fun as a child thinking about all the things that day that began with that letter.

It also reminds me of a game that I made up when I was taking a trip up to Toronto to get tickets for Phantom of the Opera with a friend of mine---he wanted to be more than friends and I felt a bit uncomfortable on the drive back home so I made up the game I called The Alphabet game. Every one (if you have more than 2 people in the vehicle it makes it fun) in the car in turn has to say one word that begins with the beginning letter, which we all know is A, none of the words can be the same, and when some one can't think of a word they loss the round and need to move on to the next letter---you keep on playing until the last letter. It's a great distraction and that's what I needed on my trip home.

As for our alphabet challenge it's not to distract but have some fun with family history.

When I think of the letter A and family history I think of one of my  great grandmother's Augusta Meyer.

Augusta Meyer was born February 1872 in Germany she married one of my great grandfathers (Charles Witt)  in 1894 in America and had 7 children.

I've found a couple US Census records with her and her family
US Census 1900
US Census 1910

I get so excited when I find records about my family, because it makes them more real to me, not just people on my family tree or a pedigree chart, but real people who lived, breathed, wept, loved and laughed just like me----that are a part of me even though I may have never known them.

According to one of the census records she was called Gusty, I really like that, Gusty has a ring to it, it makes her seem to me a bit whimsical. Maybe it was a childhood nickname or maybe her sweetheart, my great grandfather called her that in way of affection. I believe one day I will be able to ask her.

Kelly Hamon


Friday, December 21, 2012

Family History Through The Alphabet Challenge--The Beginning

 I just ran into this great idea from the blogger at Genealogy and History News. That blogger suggested the idea way back in May, but since I just found it---let the challenge begin.

The challenge was to use every letter in the alphabet some how every week about family history.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Document and Photo Preservation Workshop: Store digital photographs in several areas

Store digital photographs in several areas
Hard drive
Print it---Hard copy "Whatever brand of printer you choose," he says, "use the manufacturer's own paper and their best inks, listed on their websites. Don't mix paper and ink brands."-- Prints can last for decades, if not centuries
External hard drive or some where else other than your home


Document and Photo Preservation Workshop: Make Scans of Your Photos and Documents

"Digital pictures can remain as perfect a thousand years from now as they are today," Lester Lefkowitz,  author and photographer

  • Have someone else do the scanning (at we will scan your photos for you, just ask us for a quote)
  • "If you have the negative of a picture—and a good quality scanner—scan the negative, not the print," advises Lefkowitz. "The negative will give you a sharper result." 
  • Don't correct the color, sharpness, or other attributes of the picture while scanning.
  • Take a copy of the scan to edit, then archive the original scan as a TIFF (TIFF (originally standing for Tagged Image File Format) is a file format for storing images, popular among graphic artists, the publishing industry, and both amateur and professional photographers in general.)
  • Even if the photo is black and white, set the scanner to color. This will result in a scan that you can decide to tint later if you wish.


Document and Photo Preservation Workshop: How to store Photos and Documents

How to store Photos and Documents

News Paper Clippings should be photocopied onto alkaline paper.

Use only lignin free (Lignin or lignen is a complex chemical compound most commonly derived from wood), acid free, un-buffered paper for storing photographs or as interleaving paper in albums 

Use only PVC-free plastics such as Polyester, Mylar, Polypropylene, Polyethelyne and Tyvek (Other plastics are not chemically stable and will release damaging acids over time.  Especially dangerous is PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic commonly found in "store-bought" binders; it emits hydrochloric acid over time)

Most items in storage, especially in the collectibles arena, would benefit from storage in a buffered enclosure (non-buffered is alkaline and buffered is leaning town more neutral environment). This is especially true for the vast majority of paper items. Because of its ability to neutralize acids and extend the life of paper, photographs, textiles, and artifacts, buffering is more often than not a benefit

Scrapbooks and albums should be boxed and stored flat on shelves. Given their structure and the techniques used to mount items, scrapbooks and albums are often bulky and do not close tightly. For this reason, boxing is important to keep dust from sifting into the volumes. Flat storage also will keep loose items from falling to the bottoms of volumes, where they could become bent and damaged.

Photographic materials (prints and negatives) that are to be retained within files of textual records should be placed in polyester sleeves. Polyester film enclosures allow immediate visual access to images without the need for researchers to remove photographs Polyester film also serves as a good barrier between photographic materials and adjacent textual records in the same file. Ideally, each print or negative should be placed in an individual sleeve, and prints and negatives should be filed separately. Before they are sleeved, photographs should be lightly dusted with a soft brush.

No attempt should be made to remove photographic prints from mounts, backings, or similar supports.

In most instances, loose archival records should not be run through automatic feed devices; records that are in poor condition are especially vulnerable in such situations.

Damaged or fragile records that have been placed in polyester sleeves for physical protection should not be removed from sleeves before they are photocopied.

No attempt should be made to copy oversize records and bound volumes on photocopy machines with small copying surfaces. Records will be damaged as they are manipulated to piece together a complete image.