Monday, May 26, 2008

Promoting My Family History: Engaging Relatives

I'm at a loss as to why I have found so few relatives researching common ancestors. I often feel I am the only one doing so. A large part of the information I've received from others has been from generous contributors wholly unrelated to me.

Here are some of the ways I present the family history seeking information and collaborators:
    • I've sought contributions from those relatives for whom I have contact information.
    • I established a private site at in 2001.  The site initiated much sharing in the beginning but has been dormant for several years.
    • I've made numerous queries on message boards.
    • The family tree has been online since 2004 and has been growing with a collaborative effort on Geni since 2007.
    • I began contributing family history documents to Footnote and have made many annotations.
    • I started contributing photographs and information to Find A Grave.
    • I have had hundreds of family history documents and photographs available online for public viewing since 2006.  All will be shared at Flickr with dates, descriptions, sources, geotagging, and tags.
    • I have numerous detailed family history entries on this site. Several receive a lot of traffic, but I am rarely contacted about them.
    I feel genuinely appreciative of everyone who has contributed to the family history up to this point. So many seem reluctant to volunteer information feeling their lives, or that of our ancestors weren't remarkable enough to document. How can I impress upon them that is definitely not the case?  We each have a life story to tell if someone will listen.  I'm definitely here to listen.

    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Recipe: Mushroom Noodle Chowder

    The original recipe came out of a vegetarian magazine in the '90s. It can be made vegan by using egg-free noodles and either omitting the sour cream or by using vegan sour cream.


    8 cups vegetable stock*
    2 large russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” cubes
    1 large carrot, peeled & sliced
    2 tbsp. oil
    1 medium onion, finely chopped
    2 cups fresh mushrooms, sliced
    2 Tbs. white whole wheat flour
    2 cups dried noodles (egg-free)
    seasonings of choice  (to taste)
    vegan sour cream

    *Edward and Sons Vegan Bouillon is my favorite.


    1.  In a large soup pot, add potatoes and carrots to vegetable stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender about 15 minutes.

    2.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and sliced fresh mushrooms, sauté, stirring frequently, until onions are dark golden, about 15 minutes.

    3.  Sprinkle flour over vegetables in skillet, stir to coat, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add a cup of hot stock and stir to blend.

    4.  Add contents of the skillet to the soup pot and stir to combine. Add noodles and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Season to taste. Serve topped with yogurt or sour cream and chopped dill, if desired.

    Servings:  Approximately 6.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Book Review: Murphy's Law by Rhys Bowen

    Title: Murphy's Law
    Series: Molly Murphy Mystery #1
    Author: Rhys Bowen
    Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
    Published: 04/01/2007
    Publisher: Minotaur Books
    Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery


    From the creator of the much-loved Constable Evan Evans mysteries comes a colorful new series set in turn-of-the-century New York City. When spirited redhead Molly Murphy was growing up a peasant on the coast of Ireland she always imagined there was something more in store for her. She couldn't have known how right she was until the day she became a murderer, albeit in self-defense. Under drastic circumstances, Molly is forced to strike out into a new world. With the police right behind her, Molly's only chance at escape is a false identity and a steamship that will take her far, far away: to America.

    When her ship sails into New York Harbor, with the majestic figure of the Statue of Liberty providing comfort and inspiration, Molly is sure her whole life is in front of her. But she's got one last hurdle to clear: Ellis Island. She is just one among thousands of immigrants on the tiny island, awaiting their fate with anxiety and hope. Unfortunately for Molly, before she is able to leave the island a man is brutally murdered, his throat cut from ear to ear, and coincidence and fate make her a suspect in a crime she didn't commit. Under a cloud of suspicion, and due largely to a growing mutual attraction between Molly and the handsome police captain in charge of the case, she is allowed to leave Ellis Island for Manhattan. Unfortunately, she's got a mission she couldn't have anticipated: clear her own name of murder. Alone in a new country with no one to lean on, Molly hits the vibrant streets of New York intent on finding out what really happened. After all, if she can't, she'll be sent back to Ireland, where the dreaded gallows await.

    With the sweeping skyline of 19th century New York and the gritty, pulsating underworld of recently arrived immigrants forming a vivid backdrop, Rhys Bowen transports readers back in time to America's not-so-distant past. The first entry in the Molly Murphy series is a fascinating look at our immigrant history as well as an intensely absorbing page-turner.


    I am very glad I stumbled upon this book. I have other books to read, but I know I will be counting the hours until I can get the rest of the series on my 'to-read' shelf. Molly Murphy is intelligent (educated), driven, compassionate, and fair-minded. I enjoyed reading about the setting and the other characters, as well. Something tells me that this work of historical fiction is spot on in its depiction of early 20th century immigration and the goings on in old New York. It was an entertaining read all around.