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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Genealogy Bargains

A couple of years ago, I became interested in learning about my ancestors—who they were and where they came from. I'd been blogging on and off about my Nace ancestors on my "Naces of Lithia" blog, where I used some family stories and some Internet info. But how should I begin a deeper study—and where?  I did not want to spend $$$ on having my genealogy looked up, and I wanted some-hands on experience. I started to investigate both online and off-line resources. Basically, here's what I learned:

The internet has plenty of genealogy references. Some will be free and some will cost. See what you can find from the free ones first. Keep in mind, however, that not all the info might be accurate. And you will find contradictions about your ancestors. Always look for a source of information—for instance, a death certificate or a census record. This 1860 census, for instance, shows that my great-grandfather, Greenbury L. Forbes (age 23), was still living in the household of his father, Peter B. Forbes.

This death certificate for my great-grandfather, George William Ruble, has lots of information—including his parents' names.

Here are some free resources that I've found helpful:

*Library: Take advantage of the classes on genealogy that you local library night offer. When the Franklin County Library (Rocky Mount, Virginia) had a six-week free course a few years go, I signed up. I learned a lot about different resourses not only in the library, but also at the local courthouse.

*Facebook Groups: I joined several county genealogy groups on Facebook: Caldwell Family of Boteourt and Craig Counties, Franklin County Virginia Genealogy, Botetourt County Virginia Genealogy, Bedford County Genealogy, and Craig County Historical Society. A member of the Botetourt County Genealogy Group was able to find my great-aunt's obituary from 1911:

*Find-A Grave.  Not only can you find where an ancestor is buried, you might find additional information, such as names of parents or siblings. Since anyone with an account can post, accuracy of the info might vary. But that info can be a good starting point for further research. When searching for the grave of my 6th-great grandfather, John Adam Roush/Johannes Rausch, I found these:

Photo posted on several web sites—I'm unsure of credit.
Here's the Find-A-Grave site for George William Ruble. The site lists his wife Margie incorrectly as her older sister Margaret. The stone, however, has Margie as her name. 

The Find-A-grave site tells where he is buried (Ruble Cemetery on Rt. 311, Craig County, VA), so that's some additional information—that leads to a list of everyone buried there.

*The USGenWeb Project has various info from different states. I particularly liked the Virginia County Formation Dates page because it let me know what counties the current counties were formed from.

There are lots of lists of "free genealogy sites" on the Internet, but some are more helpful than others. A bit of Googling will locate them for you.

*Family Search is a free online genealogy resource that I've used, but you do need to sign up before you can get access. Be aware that many family trees might have mistakes, so you need to verify info by checking for sources, but odds are good that you'll find some interesting information.

* isn't free to join, but they offer a free trial and occasionally they offer specials. For instance, they offer an AARP discount for first-time users who are AARP members, but you need to call Ancestry to get this deal.  I've also found you can get a better deal when calling them to renew rather than renewing online. Their support number is 1-800-615-6560. Again, many family trees might have mistakes, so check sources.

Besides my Naces of Lithia blog about my Botetourt County ancestors, I've posted other genealogical stuff info on my Peevish Pen blog, For most of these, I relied upon various internet sources:

"Martin Mystery"
"Martin Mystery II"
"Genealogical Mysteries in Maryland":
"Celia and Lewis Hancock"
"Untangling Caldell Roots"
"Tangled Ruble Roots"

Speaking of blogs, there are a lot of them about genealogy. Here are two:
"10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading"
"Almost 3,000 Genealogy and Famimly History-related Blogs"

If you're interested in looking up your own genealogy, there are lots of places to start.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

E-coupons at Kroger

My husband and I shop once a week at our local Kroger, We used to shop on Tuesdays because that was Senior Citizen Day, but Kroger recently did away with the 5% discount for shoppers over 55. So, we have to be creative in how we save.

Fortunately we can still save a bit by using e-coupons, which I download from the Kroger website a day or two before we shop. I remember the days of cutting and sorting grocery coupons (and I confess I still do it on rare occasions), but downloading e-coupons from onto my Kroger card is much easier and more efficient. Notice how many e-coupons I used on the receipts below: 

Also notice on the receipts above that if I fill out an online survey about my shopping experience, I can have 50 extra gas points added to my card. Each dollar we spend at Kroger earns us a gas point, and we usually accumulate a thousand a month,. That really helps at the gas pump (each 100 points=10¢ off per gallon).

But back to e-coupons: My husband and I shop together. Since I have to use a handicapped buggy and he pushes a regular cart, it’s easier if we split up. So, I print out two lists of e-coupons—one for each of us.  I use a highlighter to mark things on my husband’s list that he might like, and I mark things on mine that I want to get.  We save time by going our separate ways and meeting at the checkout.

Another way to save money—besides using e-coupons—is to be aware of ways grocery stores try to get shoppers to spend more. Find out how at this link:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Publishing Cheap

If you've ever wanted to publish your memoirs, a family history, or maybe that novel you've been thinking about for the last half-century—and you're not up to querying agents, attending writing conferences, etc.—you might consider self-publishing.

Keep in mind that there are "publishing services" (vanity publishers) that will be delighted to charge you $$$$ to "publish" your work. I regret that I used one to publish four books over a decade ago. Since last October, I've been trying to get this vanity "publisher" to take my books off online retailers. But they don't return voice messages, etc.  All they're interested in is the money I paid them long ago.

Probably the best deal for someone wanting to self-publish in paperback is CreateSpace. I've used them three times and have been satisfied with their service. The service itself is free, but CreateSpace offers various services, such as editing, formatting, or cover design if yu don't want to completely do it yurself. However, you might want to pay for an editor or cover designer on your own.

In 2013, I decided to republish my 2001 self-published novel, Patches on the Same Quilt. I used a template I'd downloaded and filled in the information. I found the process a bit tedious, but doable.

Front cover
Back cover
 Talented friends helped me with the cover. Members of my writers group had helped with editing when the original edition was published in 2001.

It was easier doing the second novel, Them That Go. Again, I had some help from my friends.

For My third CreateSpace project, I recycled and repackaged some stories I'd vanity-published under a different title in 2003 to produce Miracle of the Concrete Jesus and Other Stories. (Yep. More help from my friends!)

I've also done Kindle ebooks of all three of the above books, but that's another story for another blog-post.

If you're interested in in learning more about CreateSpace, here's some info I handed out at a recent author presentation I did:

Becky Mushko 

CreateSpace is an inexpensive way to self-publish. Unless you are buying some of CreateSpace’s add-on services, it is free. Some suggestions before you decide to publish with CreateSpace:

Do some research:
Go to and click the “Learn More” button to read about what CreateSpace is. Check out each of the tabs: Overview, Cover, Interior, Printing Options, Distribution, Royalties, Buying Copies.

Read some online articles. These are helpful:

Watch videos. There are also a lot of helpful You-Tube videos. Google “How to publish with CreateSpace you tube video” and look at some of the more recent ones.

Get your manuscript as clean as you can get it. Eliminate any extra spaces after end punctuation. (only one spaces goes after a period.) Run spellcheck. Justify your margins instead of leaving them ragged right. Have a few Beta readers read your manuscript, then go back and fix any problems, revise, etc. (It really helps to be in a writers group!) Consider changing your text/font to single-spaced Garamond 11 (what the CreateSpace formatted template uses).

Decide on what size you want your book and download a formatted template from here:
            Fill in the template with your title, etc. Paste in your chapters one at a time. The template only gives you ten chapters, but you can add more. After your chapters are all pasted in, fill in the table of contents. OR—You can hire someone to format your manuscript if you do not want to do it yourself for free.

Set up a CreateSpace account. If you don’t have a tax number, you will have to give them your social security number. You will also have to give them the number of a bank account to deposit your royalties. (Hint: Set up a separate account just for your books. It makes record keeping much easier.)
CreateSpace will assign you ISBN numbers. You will put those in the front matter of your book. Then you can upload your manuscript.
You can choose if you want your manuscript printed on white or cream paper. I recommend cream because it’s a bit heavier. Besides fiction is usually printed on cream; non-fiction on white.)

Design your book cover. If you’re talented with Photoshop, you might do it yourself. If not, you might hire someone to do it for you, or you can use CreateSpace’s free Cover Creator. After you’ve uploaded your manuscript, you’ll know how big your cover should be. You will have to choose whether you want a glossy cover or a matte cover.

When CreateSpace has approved your uploads, you may review your book on their online reviewer (allow some time for this!). If you made some mistakes, correct your manuscript and upload again, etc. Then order a proof copy (less than $10) and go through it page by page after it comes in. Make corrections an upload again.
* *  * 
It never hurts to look at some CreateSpace books before you decide to publish your own. (Warning: Blatant plug: You can get my books from Amazon. Click the links on my book titles above or visit my Amazon author page:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saving Buttons

I posted this on my Peevish Pen blog back in January, but it's worth posting here. I originally titled it "Button Clutter," but it has to do with saving stuff that might be useful, so I figured I'd repost here. Besides, you never know when you might lose a button and don't want to have to go out and buy a whole card of buttons. It's eaasier to dip into your stash.

Whenever a garment wears out, I recycle it to rags. (My mother used to recycle old clothes—ones that were too worn to hand down or remake—by tearing them into strips and crocheting rag rugs. But I never learned how to crochet.)

Decluttering is apparently the current fad—at least in magazine articles and online stories I've seen. Apparently, at least according to the stories, I would be much happier if I stripped my life down to as few possessions as possible, but I don't think that's going to happen. I kind of enjoy burrowing into my clutter. And I like being around stuff I've inherited that I'll never use—stuff that generations before me touched and used.

I come from a line of women who saved stuff. My mother and grandmother lived through the depression, so they saved anything that might be useful again. My great-grandmother was born just after the Civil War, so I imagine her family saved anythig that might possibly be used again. Among the things they saved were buttons.

Many of the decluttering lists say to get rid of buttons. On this list,  #1 is "Spare buttons from clothes that you are keeping 'just in case.'" On the Embracing Homemaking list of "200+ Things to Throw Away," #66 is " buttons   

I can recognize a few buttons that Mama sewed on my clothes when I was little. She made most of my clothes until I was 10 or 11. But I don't know which buttons belonged to my grandmother and which belonged to my great-grandmother. I do know that the canning jars which contain the buttons belonged to my great-grandmother

I don't can, but I have no intention of getting rid of these jars, either. Seeing them and the buttons they contain—and knowing when I touch them I touch my past—makes me much happier than getting rid of them would do. 

"Waste not, want not."