Category Archives: Genealogy/Family History

Photo Coaster Family History Craft Project

Family Photo CoastersWhile writing an article on family history craft projects for Family Tree Magazine, I came across several awesome examples of how to create tile photo coasters to display family photos. After being inspired by The Frugal Girls and Oopsey Daisey blog posts, I decided to create my own set of photo tile coasters—and they turned out great, if I do say so myself.

With my cousin’s wedding coming up, I used old family wedding photos on the coasters to create a unique, personalized wedding gift.

Below is a step-by-step guide to how I created these photo tile coasters, but to get started, here’s a list of the supplies I used:

Family History Photo Coasters

Project supplies

  • photo paper
  • a paper cutter
  • 4×4 white tiles (obtained from the home improvement store)
  • a foam brush
  • Mod Podge
  • adhesive felt circles
  • a skinny felt-tip pen
  • a clear, glossy sealer

Step 1. Gather and edit photos. I knew my aunt, who is interested in genealogy, had several old family photos. I asked her for copies, and she scanned them using her Flip-Pal mobile scanner to create digital files. I took the digital files she provided and used Adobe Photoshop to convert them to grayscale (black-and-white) images. I also adjusted the levels and contrast, so the images wouldn’t print too dark.

Step 2. Print and cut the photos. Once I had edited the photos, I used a desktop publishing program (I used Adobe InDesign, but you could also use Microsoft Publisher), to place the pictures in 4×4-inch boxes. I then adjusted the image to center it in the frame.

Next, I printed the images on photo paper using my home printer. Finally, I used my scrapbooking paper cutter to cut out the images.

Family Photo Coasters

Apply Mod Podge before and after placing the photo on the tile.

Step 3. Apply photo to the tile. Before applying a photo to the tile, I set the photo on the tile to ensure it was the right size and to see how it lined up. If it was a little large, I trimmed the photo with scissors. I then wrote the name of the wedding couple along the bottom of the tile, and allowed the ink to dry.

Next, I used a foam brush to coat the tile with Mod Podge, and then pressed the photo on the tile. After allowing this to dry thoroughly, I put three coats of Mod Podge on the top, allowing each coat to dry thoroughly before applying the next.

Family Photo Coaster

Sealer to use on top of the photo

Step 4. Apply sealing coat. To ensure the photo would be sealed and water-resistant when drinks are set on it, I used a water-based sealer I already had on hand from a different project: Minwax’s Polycrylic clear gloss, water-based protective finish.

I applied three layers of this sealer, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next. (Note: Other bloggers have used other materials like a clear acrylic spray or resin to seal their photo coaster projects.)

Family History Craft Project

Close-up of final photo coaster project

Step 5: Adhere felt backing. To create a soft surface on the back of the tiles that won’t scratch a coffee table, I adhered four adhesive felt circles to the back of each tile. I placed the felt circles in each corner of the tile.

For more family history craft and holiday gift ideas, check out Family Tree Magazine.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Advertisements

Genealogy: Tips for Planning a Family History Road Trip

Genealogy TravelI love to travel, and was excited when I had the opportunity to write an article on summer genealogy road trips for Family Tree Magazine’s July/August 2014 issue.

For the article, I interviewed staff at top destinations for genealogists around the country, including the Family History Library (FHL), the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library, Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island.

Here are a few things I learned from these professionals about making and planning for a genealogy road trip:

1. Every trip may be different. Especially at genealogy libraries, every trip you make there could be different. Libraries are constantly acquiring new materials and family histories, so even if you didn’t have much luck the last time you visited, something new and relevant to your family history research could have arrived the next year. So, it pays to check back with the library every once in a while.

2. Do your homework before you go. To take the best advantage of resources accessible on-site only, do some research before you go. Search the library’s online catalog so you know what books or microfilm you want to (and can) access. Browse or search any available online databases. Some repositories may store records in off-site storage facilities, so if there’s something specific you want to see, find out how you can request to access to those materials when you’re there (or before you go).

3. Call ahead. Historic sites, libraries, and archives may change their hours of operation (or may be under renovation, which causes access issues to certain records) due to holidays or during their busy or slow seasons. Call ahead to confirm the hours posted on their website are still correct. And while you’re calling, ask if any large groups are scheduled to be at the center during the dates you’re planning to visit. If so, you may want to consider shifting your trip dates to avoid the crowds and maximize your time there.

For more details and specific tips on visiting the FHL, NEHGS Library, ACPL Genealogy Center, and Ellis Island (such as collections you can access, how to get there, and other genealogy and history sites to visit while you’re there), see my article in the Family Tree Magazine July/August 2014 issue.

Also, check out the Family Tree Magazine May 2014 podcast (starting at 7:30) to listen to an interview I gave about this article and genealogy road trip tips.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

 

For Mother’s Day: Lessons Learned From My Grandmother

Mother's Day

My grandmother as a young girl.

Grandmas are the best. At least my grandma was. She died last year after a brief, unexpected illness. Until the day she died, she was full of spirit and was physically fit enough she could touch the floor with the palm of her hands while standing with her legs straight.

I think my grandma is the person I admire most and I am grateful to have spent time with her to get to know her and her stories. So in honor of Mother’s Day this weekend, I’d like to share with you the top three lessons I’ve learned from my grandma:

1. Tell your family you love them. Even though Grandma was 90, her death was still a bit sudden. She had fallen sick only the day before, and then the illness spread rapidly. I had been intending to call Grandma to chat for at least a week before, but things kept getting in the way. Then one evening as I was drifting off to sleep a voice came to me and said, “Call your grandmother, in case something happens.” The next day I called her and we talked briefly, only for about 10-15 minutes. The following morning, my mom called and told me Grandma had died. I’m so happy I called her, because I got to tell her I loved her and hear her laughter one last time. This also taught me a lesson: Tell your family and other people in your life that you love them often. And talk to your family often. You never know when it might be the last time.

2. Don’t work so hard. Grandma told this to my sisters and me frequently. In our last conversation, she again gave me this advice. Grandma was dedicated to her family, so her saying this helped me remember life is more than work. Life is also about spending time with family and friends, enjoying a special hobby, and having fun.

3. Even if bad things happen, you can still have a positive attitude. My grandma lost two husbands. The first time, she became a single mother and had to find a job to support her family. The second time (after many happy years together) she watched her second husband slowly get weaker due to cancer. With these and other hardships she experienced in her life, it would have been easy for her to be bitter. Instead, she chose to embrace life and to have a positive attitude. In her final years, she often told us how blessed she felt to have had two great loves of her life and wonderful children and grandchildren who made her proud.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.

Web Browser Plug-ins to Help Protect Your Privacy Online

Magazine Writing SampleDid you know that hundreds of advertising, marketing, and other companies may be tracking your every online move? These can be beneficial when advertisers show you ads customized specifically to you, but it can be creepy, too.

While researching information for an online privacy web course and quick guide for Family Tree Magazine, I came across several resources that can help show you who’s tracking you, as well as tools to block organizations from tracking your online movements. I was surprised to find that 114 companies were tracking my online surfing, and began using one of the tools I learned about to block some of the trackers.

Check out my “Web Browser Plug-ins for Privacy” quick guide in Family Tree Magazine‘s January/February 2014 issue for information on several tools to help you retain some of your online surfing privacy.