I know most of the internet loves fall but it’s one of my least favorite seasons. It’s a reminder that winter is coming, that the days are growing shorter, and soon I’ll be trapped inside trying to avoid the cold. There are some nice things about fall: I can convince my husband that I should buy new clothes, I can stock up on seasonal teas and coffees, I can read lots of books curled up under blankets, and it’s the perfect hiking season.
To help me survive the transition, I’m always looking for meals that are warm, filling, and full of comfort. This meal does just that. The Beef Bourguignon doesn’t take as much time as Julia Child’s and dare I say, it tastes just as good if not better.
A good beef meal for me pairs well with mashed potatoes and these get that nice sweet and savory flavor you can only get from roasting the garlic first. I followed an Alton Brown recipe and you can’t go wrong with that. Try his potatoes with Beef Bourguignon or on Thanksgiving and you’ll be a happy camper.
The recipe itself calls for a red wine and you should be sure to drink some too. I opted for a Pinot Noir (Line 39, 2013) and it was perfect with the dish and still under $10.
- 2-3 pounds boneless beef (I used a mix of shoulder chuck and beef stew meat)
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. chopped parsley
- 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. roughly ground black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 ounces bacon, chopped
- 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 2 cups pearl frozen onions
- 2 cups mushrooms, quartered (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Take a large bowl and fill with the red wine, olive oil, onion, carrot, celery, garlic clove, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and peppercorns. Stir to combine.
- Cut your beef into 2-inch cubes. Add in the beef to the red wine marinade. Cover beef completely with red wine marinade and marinate from 1 to 24 hours tightly covered in the fridge. Rotate the meat every 6-8 hours.
- After marinading, remove the beef to a plate and pat thoroughly dry.
- Strain the marinade into a bowl, separating the liquid and vegetables but reserving both.
- Heat a large dutch oven to medium high heat. Brown the bacon and remove, leaving the fat behind (about 2 tbsp).
- Brown the beef in batches in the bacon fat, transfer the browned pieces back to the plate.
- Cook the vegetables in the bacon fat and fond until softened and browned, about 5 minutes.
- Add the flour to the vegetable mix and cook another minute until browning. Stir in the reserved marinade. Add the beef and bacon to the dutch oven and pour the pearl onions on top. Bring the dish to a boil.
- After boiling for a minute, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for about an hour or until beef is fork tender.
- After an hour, add the mushrooms if using. Cook an additional 20 minutes, covered.
- Skim any fat on the surface and remove the bay leaf. Add chopped parsley and additional salt or pepper to taste.
It’s finally fall! I have some upcoming work projects keeping me busy, some DIY I have to start on, and a week off of work finally scheduled. September was almost as busy as this month.
There’s a new restaurant in St. Louis that keeps getting all the buzz. Southern has hot chicken and soul food sides. There’s almost always a line out the door but I got out of work early just before Labor Day weekend and managed to get some of that spicy food. Sadly the mac & cheese was already gone but the mashed potatoes won me over as did the greens. They serve banana pudding here but sadly I didn’t have space. I’ll just have to stop by again.
September had the second from last Food Truck Friday. I had some more Seoul Taco (my husband and I are addicted!) and went to the storefront version again on the weekend. We rounded out the meal with some seasonal cupcakes.
The husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary this month. We went to The Restaurant at The Cheshire. I went a little crazy and got a prime rib and yorkshire pudding. Totally worth it. The pork belly appetizer is to die for. Seriously, pork belly is my new obsession.
I went to my first music festival. Loufest 2015 was a pretty fun time and with beautiful weather I couldn’t have planned a better way to spend time other than listening to music in Forest Park. Next year though I would love to see more women artists but I enjoyed what I did hear and have to say that Pokey LaFarge was one of my favorite sets of the weekend.
I made it to a Cardinals day game with the husband. We even got to see a win on our afternoon off work.
Anyone read Tana French? I started the Dublin Murder Squad books in September and fell in love with the series. In the Woods and The Likeness were both original and yet familiar to me and the writing style was beautiful. There’s mystery, relationships, and intrigue.
My husband nearly gave me a heart attack hanging this sign but we finally have our first piece up on the brick gallery wall. I’m going with a rustic travel vibe here so my maps will go on this wall too.
My IKEA trip got me planning the guest bedroom/studio. Sometimes I have trouble seeing the purpose of a space. Do I design for myself or for guests? Do I go with something that matches the rest of the house or a space that has its own personality? How often will people really sleep over at my house? I am debating bed v. daybed v. no bed. I’m debating nearly built in shelves from a store v. finding the right vintage pieces v. making my own look no matter the source. I’m debating pink, gold, green, blue, gray, and white. I have some firmer ideas but it’s hard to know where to go.
In an effort to make progress on the guest room/studio, I started cleaning it out. The space has been holding doors from other rooms, a bed no one will ever use, a dog and her crate, all the clothes that can’t fit in our real closet, all the art we don’t have frames for, and all the boxes of craft supplies and books that aren’t in the office. Since our office makeover comes first, I have to clear out space here to fit the office gear. So far I’ve managed to bundle 3 bags for donating and another bag to be discarded but it’s barely a dent. I go back in soon.
On the Web
Overdue for a vacation? I know I am. Here’s what happens when you don’t get away.
Doctor Who is back! Here’s one list ranking every Doctor Who from best to worst. I’ve only seen doctors 1, 9, 10, 11, and 12 (and the War Doctor) so I can’t compare them all.
My neighborhood is being overrun by squirrels. They’ve taunted us, one touched my ankle, and one may have left pizza in another neighbor’s tires. My friend Bethany shared this gallery of squirrels and their pizza when I shared my theories of a squirrel mafia.
We’re trying out our weekend hiking routine we like to do most falls. There’s something about a car ride, a hike with the dog, an outdoor picnic, then back home to curl up and nap on the couch, followed by dinner from the crockpot. This might be why I’m not making progress on the rest of the house. October will be our first month (and spoiler alert: we already did one) but I’m open to some good trails that you might like. 2-6 miles is our target and within 2 hours of St. Louis, give or take.
My curly girls will understand: I did 2 days of an outdoor music festival and my hair didn’t frizz or get out of control. I’ve been using Davines Love line and it is amazing. Pair it with some squish to condish technique and plopping and my curls aren’t going anywhere.
With my overflow closet getting cleaned out, I am doing the unthinkable and inventorying my closet. What’s the oldest shirt you still wear regularly? Not just some T-shirt from a concert or something you wear to clean in but rather something you still keep in your rotation? I have several pieces from 2009 and 2010 that still make appearances. It makes me think about fast fashion and buying lasting pieces. When you’re like me and deal with career changes and weight changes, it can be twice as hard. What brands do you find you can trust to last year after year?
On Wednesday, September 30, the 41st Ikea store will open in St. Louis. Residents can begin lining up on Monday morning but today I managed to get a first look at the brand new store as part of their Ikea Friends and Family Preview Day.
The place was packed for a preview day. As soon as we got inside workers were cheering, handing out bags, maps, anything you could possibly need.
For me on this shopping day, I wanted to mostly stake out the store layout and some new pieces. I work only a block away from the new Ikea so once the fuss dies down I can pop over on my lunch break and grab what I need.
One of my favorite things about Ikea are the room displays. I love seeing wonderful ideas on how to use the products and how to think of new ways to enhance my home.
I also really enjoy all the household items you can purchase from Ikea. I needed some cheap but sturdy dishes for my 3rd floor kitchen and found them for under $1 each. I found lots of office organizing gear, and even plants, both real and fake.
I also really appreciated that Ikea had some special nods to St. Louis in its new store here. They had an exclusive STL piece of art.
The Ikea food court also overlooked some great parts of the growing Midtown/CORTEX area including my workplace, the SLU campus, and the Cathedral Basilica. Speaking of the food court…
I brought along some guests with me for the big event and we all enjoyed some Swedish meatballs before hitting the lower level. I even ran into someone from my office building there and I have a feeling with the $1 breakfasts it won’t be the last time.
When we had enough (aka we hit the time limit for our pass), we went to the checkout. This massive place has a lot of lanes and they are ready for you.
Considering how stressful it must have been, the cashiers were calm, collected, and friendly. Having worked in retail I was seriously impressed and grateful.
After the checkout area you have a chance to buy some snacks or freezer items to take home with you. Those cinnamon rolls are so good despite not being as famous as the meatballs. If you have a long drive back to the suburbs, be sure to grab a snack for the road.
I’m thrilled St. Louis got an Ikea right in the heart of a growing area of the city. They aren’t necessarily a local store but they are investing in the community and I’m already investing in them with my purchases from today.
See more photos from my preview day over on my Facebook page!
I’ve told you I’ve moved but I never did a farewell post to my first house. This house means a lot to me, even though it also drove me crazy at times. My husband bought this house when he was still my boyfriend, I was in college and had just finished chemotherapy. He bought it in 2006, I moved in during the fall of 2007 the day after our wedding, and we moved out just before Christmas in 2014. I lived in this house when there was no kitchen, when we had no bathroom doors and had to cross those delicate boundaries, through cars that drove into the yard and into trees (but thankfully never the house), through getting our first dog, through a break in, and through our learning curve as DIYers.
This house was built in the early 1940s by my husband’s great aunt and uncle. My husband bought it from his great aunt before she died, and now another family member has bought it from us. Because it stayed in the family, we were able to have a simple transaction and the family member was very flexible while we had our infinite house hunting process. Additionally, the relative assured us he wanted to change things like paint colors so he didn’t require us to touch up before we moved. Nice guy, huh? So while I’m not proud of how every room looks here, I can tell you that there’s now a Blues shrine in the space we used as the office and that room seems to get a lot of love. Here’s a shot of the room before we moved in and when we moved out.
And again with the dining room
Here’s a glance at the living room:
The bathroom ended up changing places in the house, hence the major redesign. Here’s what we started with:
And here’s what we ended with:
We had a can of paint ready to go for this room and thankfully the new homeowner has already painted it in a color of his choice. This room was our test room for yellow and we ended up finding the perfect color and putting it in the kitchen. This picture is the last trace of our failed experiments.
That kitchen was really my favorite part of the house. It came out looking so good and while I love my new one, there’s a sense of pride that comes from planning and designing a space of your own.
I’m leaving out the bedrooms and some older exterior shots on this tour to protect our privacy and the new homeowner’s as well. I always thought this house had so much potential and while we found some of it, I know that the new owner will find even more.
I wanted to show you how I use some genealogy resources in a typical case to do my research for the family trees. I’m going to highlight the life of my maternal great grandmother to show you how I pull information.
My first source of information was through my family. From family members I knew that my grandma and great grandma had the same name, Celeste, and that my great grandmother was born a Chrismer and married a Boschert. I was told growing up that my great grandmother died while giving birth right around my grandma’s first birthday. She had a son who was a bit older than my grandma. When my great grandmother died, my grandma went to live with her aunt and uncle, the uncle being great grandma’s brother (a Chrismer) and the aunt being great grandpa’s sister (a Boschert). My grandma didn’t even realize she’d been adopted until she was school aged and someone outside her new family told her. I had no idea what had happened to my great grandpa or the older son after that.
So that’s a heck of a starting point.
My first step was to search Find A Grave. My grandmother had purchased a headstone for her mother in Saint Charles Borromeo Cemetery in Saint Charles, Missouri. It was pretty easy to find my great grandmother here by searching by last names. Here’s her Find A Grave page. To my surprise it listed her name as Celesta Boschert (nee Chrismer). The gravestone itself listed 1897 as her birth year and 1920 as her death year. The Find A Grave page lists a date of birth of 11/18/1897 in Saint Charles, Missouri and a date of death as February 11, 1920 in Orchard Farm, Missouri. The page also lists a husband, Anthony Peter Boschert, and parents, Harry and Zita Chrismer. There are no source citations for these life details so I print the page and use them as a starting point. Nothing is confirmed in genealogy without an original source and even original sources get it wrong. Like I said in my tips post – Just because it is written doesn’t mean it is true.
My next step took me to the Missouri Death Certificate database. Most Secretary of State offices have helpful resources online. It took a couple searches (TIP: always check maiden and married names for women in your tree!) but I found her under Celete Boschert, death certificate # 8735. This death certificate contains a host of information. It confirms she died in Orchard Farm, Missouri on February 11, 1920. It confirms she was born in Saint Charles, Missouri but this shows it as November 18, 1896. She was a white female age 23 years, 2 months, and 23 years of age when she died. This would have been calculated based on DOB which now appears to be in dispute. Celeste was the daughter of Harry Chrismer and Zita Baumann who were both born in Saint Charles, Missouri according to this. So now we have a maiden name for my great great grandmother. My great grandma was a Housewife and had been attended by the doctor from February 3, 1920 to February 11, 1920 before she died at 8 AM on February 11, 1920. Her cause of death was influenza with a word I can’t quite make out (maybe pneumonia?) and ‘labor’ as contributing factors. This confirms the family tale that my great grandmother died in childbirth.
On a hunch, I searched by last name (Boschert) and year of death (1920) and found another death certificate. Certificate # 8734 was for Unknown Boschert. The baby died at birth on February 10, 1920 and died as a result of premature birth caused by influenza and pneumonia in the mother (confirming that word I couldn’t fully read in the previous death certificate). This matched with what my mom knew and confirmed it had been baby girl.
I had confirmed a few details by this point. My great grandma died in Orchard Farm, located in Saint Charles County, Missouri, and was said to have been born there too. Her date of birth was in dispute. I had some parents names and a spouse’s name for her but no word on the older child. So I took to the census. The census is performed every 10 years (though some states did it more often) and you likely won’t find anything for 1890 due to a fire in 1921. It’s a horrible loss and one similar in loss to the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center which held 16-18 million military records for Army and Air Force personnel. Another note about census records: Ancestry may give you some free information from census records but they want you to have a paid account to view the physical document for all years, with the exception of 1880 and 1940. For other years, if you don’t want to pay I’ve found that Mocavo gives you the ability to view them for free. You’ll still want to find a way to save the records on your own, but this is a good start for researching. Searching for my own great grandmother in the census meant I should be able to find records from 1900, 1910, and maybe 1920. For all my relatives, I like to make a spreadsheet where I log what years I should be able to find census records for.
If someone hasn’t been born yet, I gray out the year (for example 1880, 1930, and 1940 for Celeste) and for years I can’t find a person I highlight them in yellow so I can continue searching at a later time (like for Anthony in 1940). I like to document how old a person was in each census year and what address or area they lived in by year. It helps for fact checking later on.
I first find Anthony and Celesta Boschert together in the 1920 Census. They are spread across 2 pages so I’ve spliced them together for a quick visual.
I find a few things here: the census was completed on January 27-28, 1920 so I managed to get my great grandmother on a census just 2 weeks before she died. This is a lucky break for me. There’s no address but I can see she lived in Portage des Sioux Village which is where one might find Orchard Farm Village (and it’s apparent on page 2 of the census).
- Anthony P Boschert (my great grandfather) is listed as head of house, a W/M aged 32 (DOB approx 1888). he can read/write, and is a retail merchant. He and his parents were born in Missouri.
- Celesta S Boschert (my great grandmother) is listed as Celesta again and she is the wife of Anthony. She was a W/F aged 23 (DOB approx 1897) and she could also read and write. Again, this states she and her parents were born in Missouri.
- Harry L Boschert (my great uncle) is listed as the son and his age is listed as 20 months (DOB approx. March of 1918)
- Celesta K Boschert (my grandmother) is listed as the daughter and her age is 10 months old (DOB approx. March of 1919). I know that my grandmother went by Celeste Catherine Boschert and was born in February of 1919 so this is pretty close. Remember that Enumerators often are listing what people tell them and people speak with accents and don’t spell everything out. There will be variations (Katherine/Catherine).
- John H Hoelscher, a boarder aged 33. I know nothing about this guy but it’s quite common to find this in census records.
The 1910 Census result was easy to find on Ancestry just by searching. I was able to find a specific address she lived at on this census but sadly I know the original house there has been demolished. This census record is full of people:
- Harry Chrismer (my great great grandfather) is listed as head of house, aged 40, and a blacksmith. He was born in Missouri but I now know both of his parents may hail from Maryland. This is a great lead for researching him and his parents.
- Sadie Chrismer (my great great grandmother) is listed as the wife, aged 37. Now, I already know from my additional research and family sources that Sadie = Zitta but looking at this census record one might be thrown off. There’s an ongoing series on the Ancestry blog about commonly used nicknames that will help you out. One tip that’s here is the 1910 census was kind enough to ask spouses how long they’d been married and asked women how many times they’d given birth and how many children were still living. In an age of high infant deaths, this is an incredible resource. Here we can see that Harry and Sadie have been married 16 years and they’re oldest child is 15 so it’s likely all these children are theirs together. We can also see that Sadie has 8 living children of 8 births which is rarely seen. Sadie’s parents were both born in Germany so it’s worth it to check out German nicknames too.
- Walter Chrismer (my great great uncle) is 15 here. He’s the uncle who adopted my grandmother later on.
- Celeste Chrismer (my great grandmother) and she is 13 here (estimated DOB 1897)
- An additional 6 girls, Goldie, Myrtle, Delpha, Willa, Anna, and Marie. When you lose a family member on the census, siblings can be a huge help. Parents move in with children and grandchildren, bachelors move in with brothers, too many young girls and one might be a maid for a sister. Don’t discount the siblings.
I find Celeste one more time on the 1900 Census:
We have the usual crew of Harry, Sadie, Walter, Celesta, and Goldie here. Again, in 1900 we get how many years married and how many births/living children. Somehow the math gets a little off here. Harry and Sadie were married 8 years in 1900 and 16 years in 1910. To confirm this detail, I’d begin by searching marriage records from 1901-1905 when trying to find the true number. People on census records are not always the best at doing math in their head. That’s why I refer to my spreadsheet and can see that my great grandma was listed as 2, 13, and 23 even though those intervals should be 10 years. People make mistakes. The Harry Chrismer you see here was named David at birth and his parents changed their minds and his name. It happens.
There’s a world of additional records out there. If you look at the zoomed out version of these records you can see parents and cousins living next door or across the street from family members. The library has so many free resources.
I also said in my original post on how I research that you may turn up some family secrets. Remember my great grandmother’s oldest child, Harry Boschert? Eventually I discovered what happened to him after his mom died. Harry died in 1934 at the Emmans Asylum for Epileptics and Idiots. He died from epilepsy and malnutrition. He’d lived in the home from 1926-1934. I don’t know where he went from 1920-1926 but I hope to find out one day.
The last time I showed off the third floor it was from the week I moved in. Immediately my husband and I had a goal for this floor. We wanted a place to relax after work, to put the job behind us, and to have our own urban oasis.
It was December when we moved in and before the end of the month we ordered a couch and coffee table. We wanted a sectional and while we checked places like Crate & Barrel and West Elm, we didn’t find the style or price point we wanted. We were about to give up after a C&B trip when on our way to dinner we passed IO Metro. I didn’t think I could afford what was in the window display but upon walking in I found a lot of things I liked. Even better, when the assistant heard my husband and I discussing some styles she helpfully let us know we could see even bigger markdowns at an end of the year sale. By the next week we knew what we wanted and placed an order.
Here’s what it’s looking like now:
The space is finally starting to work for us. We have a TV up here so we can easily binge Netflix while having a cocktail or a beer. We did some small upgrades to our HVAC system so we kept cool this summer. We still need to do some insulation work on this floor of the house so we are holding off on repainting any of it until we know what the damage to the room might be.
And here’s some of those pretty little details:
This space also nicely doubles as a workout space. I can just move the coffee table and do my Wii Fit or some video workouts right in front of the TV. I want to make the closet space on this floor more functional so I can store some small weights or equipment as well as games or other entertainment for when we have guests over.
I’m thinking for fall I will swap out the blue pillows with some orange ones and maybe add some new cozy throws to the space since I know this past winter we camped out here quite regularly. I know I’ll also want a floor lamp since I’ve been known to cross-stitch or read up here. I’m still on the hunt for something that might have that industrial modern vibe but is easy to access without having to stand up from where my butt is firmly plopped. The hunt continues but if you’ve seen something let me know!
- Sectional: IO Metro Bree Sectional
- Coffee Table: IO Metro Cohle Coffee Table
- TV Stand: Pottery Barn Rhys Large TV stand (discontinued)
- Rug: Ballard Designs Tabitha Rug
- Floral Pillows: World Market Emma Throw Pillows
- Blue/Yellow Pillows: Target’s Room Essentials 2-pack Suede Pillows
- Oversized Gray Pillows: Target (appears to be unavailable online)
- Kitchen Cabinet pulls: Liberty 3-in arched pulls
My August was not a vacation but instead kept me busier than I wanted. Here’s the scoop on what I was up to.
- Do you know how hard it is to live by The Shaved Duck and know the lines are so long you can’t make it inside? It’s one of the best places in St. Louis. The smothered fries and brisket are my weakness. Miraculously one Friday night I was able to walk right in and be seated immediately. I had experienced the kind of day that only their fries and a beer could solve and I think someone knew it and cleared a spot for me.
- My grill worked overtime in August. I know things like burgers and hot dogs aren’t too exciting but this pork loin from Skinnytaste was fantastic! Even better, the leftovers made for some amazing Cuban sandwiches.
- Many people in St. Louis know Rooster for its brunch but lately it’s becoming my favorite place for dinner. It’s close enough I can walk if it’s early enough, they have parking if it’s later. Inside it’s intimate despite being huge but casual enough that I don’t need to fuss. It’s the perfect place to stop before or after a show at the Fox and a straight shot down Grand. You can go breakfast, crepes, steaks or try a nightly special. In August I had a pork belly and shrimp dish that blew me away.
- I finally made it to see Miss Jubilee and a Jungle Boogie at the St. Louis Zoo. During the summer the zoo stays open late. I brought a picnic dinner (tip: bring a chair and not a blanket) and then roamed the rest of the zoo. There were so many animals and so few people so I had an up-close personal show from the penguins, the new polar bear, and all the big cats.
- I had some doctor appointments in August so I took a half day and enjoyed some shopping with the money those visits should save me on insurance. I really enjoyed shopping at EverEve and stocked up on some fall fashions. I refuse to wear fall clothes before Labor Day or before the temperature drops so I still haven’t been able to show them off. They have lots of vests and cute layering pieces though.
- I finally made it to the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park. My parents stopped by my house and we all walked over to try some bites. The empanadas from Argentina and jerk chicken from Jamaica got high marks from me.
- I stalk the facebook pages of any antique/resale place I know about and when these lockers appeared on the page for The Green Shag Market, I knew I had to have them. Luckily my husband agreed. We have plans to make them even cooler and more functional so hopefully we can get to work on that soon.
- I’m saving up to do a big project involving insulation. Some of the rooms in my house aren’t insulated very well (or at all) so some ceilings need to come down and some insulation needs to go in. This means I will probably put off any planned master suite or 3rd floor improvements until the dirty work gets done.
- I picked up a drill and driver for the first time in forever this month. My basement is getting more functional by the day!
On the Web
- I didn’t realize how much Jon Stewart was part of my life for so many years until he left The Daily Show. I really appreciated this tribute to him and also its lament for the state of America.
- Ready for a sobfest? Reading about surviving the loss of a family member did me in. Even more so when I got to the end.
- How gorgeous is this home 1 year after a move? I can tell you I won’t be looking this good.
- My sweet Nova dog turned 8 years old in August. I can’t handle her getting so old but I want to say how she is a brave dog who tries so hard and loves so fiercely. I’d be lost without her.
- My grandparents moved to Missouri! They grew up in Arkansas, settled in Missouri after getting married and for some years after, then moved to Arkansas together about 20 years ago. Now they have a new place together close to my parents.
- Speaking of my grandparents, I caught my first cold in years from them the very first week they lived here. Let’s hope that doesn’t become a trend! Because of that August was not as successful as I hoped but there’s always next month.
I have been interested in genealogy practically my entire life. I remember looking at family history books and annuals and trying to figure out how I intersected all these lives. For my #30before30 list I wanted to make a family tree. I looked at a lot of different styles of family trees. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be more literal and include a tree or if I had it in me to go more modern. Etsy offered all kinds of options.
The “Traditional” Tree-Shaped Family Tree
A More Modern Tree-Shaped Family Tree
The Traditional Bracket Family Tree
An Abstract Circle Chart Family Tree
Modern Geometric Family Tree
Artistic Family Trees
My Family Tree
- Research through free documents first. Ancestry, Findagrave, Family Search, state websites, and even your attic may have hints and clues along the way
- Sometimes it pays to pay. Ancestry does have paid content but they are fantastic for building a tree and organizing your research.
- Document all your finds. You won’t remember how you knew Grandma Betsy came over on a ship or even which ship unless you save it. Find a standard to save documents and live by it.
- Just because you find a leaf on Ancestry doesn’t mean that leaf is about your tree. I bet you there were millions of Johns born to John and Mary Lastname so check your dates, locations, and then double check.
- Just because it is written doesn’t mean it is true. Just because Grandma has down in the family Bible that she was baptized in 1920 doesn’t mean it’s true. My own grandpa spells his name so many different ways over the years.
- Talk to the older generations and find out what they know. My grandma knew nothing about her grandma till she found a letter from a relative who had passed. You won’t always get clues from the grave.
- You might find some things others will wish to stay buried. I live by the mantra that there is no bad data but sometimes kissing cousins aren’t the worst you’ll find.
- Go to your local library. The librarians there are so helpful and want to help too.
Just before my birthday I convinced my husband, my brother, and my brother’s girlfriend to come with me to the St. Louis City Museum. In case you don’t know, the City Museum is not some boring old museum. It’s a place where everyone can be a kid in a reclaimed metal jungle with slides, tunnels, and even some museum exhibits.
Since visiting here was a 30before30 goal, I knew I had to pay extra to visit the roof and see it all. The roof is only open in warm weather without rain so plan accordingly. You do get a discount on admission to the museum if you go on Friday or Saturday after 5 PM and the later you go, the more adults (and fewer kids) there will be. The museum serves alcohol and food so you can make a whole night of it.
If you’re a control freak like me, you’ll have to let go of that. There are no maps here and the museum is like a giant maze. Even if you get it figured out, the museum is “always growing” so there’s a new path or direction to take. There are tunnels you crawl through and more often than not I was having an 8 year old explain the path to a slide I wanted to take. Also, sliding is more difficult than I remembered. My husband turned out to be a champion slider while I wondered how I could make it down a 10-story slide. We opted to go up instead of down and try out the big Ferris wheel on top of the museum.
One thing I learned at the City Museum is how old I really am. When people say “Bring kneepads!” it is not a joke. My knees and shins were bruised the whole next week from all my adventures. Still, we had a blast and I’m glad I had more time to spend with these awesome people.
- For my big birthday meal I decided to try The Libertine in Clayton. They’ve recently swapped chefs and had a menu redo and while I was a bit hesitant, I shouldn’t have been. Matt Bessler has made some fantastic decisions regarding the menu. We had mussels and bacon brodo with a broth so delicious I wanted to drink it up with a spoon. My husband had steak & frites while I had the Filet ‘Oscar’. Both of us equally loved our dishes and regretted not getting the others. (I also regret that my phone must have been so hungry it ate the photos when I attempted to transfer them) My steak was like butter and the crab cake had barely any fillers and was beyond delicious. For dessert we even had some bon bons. Ben Bauer is the beverage director here and he made some great decisions to source local liqueurs like Big Os. They are launching their happy hour menu this week and I know I’ll be back.
- You all have the Skinnytaste Cookbook, right? I’m officially obsessed with it. The jerk pork tacos with mango salsa was fantastic. I’m not always one to mix fruit with my savory dishes but this was worth it. Bonus: This was a crockpot recipe and had lots of leftovers.
- I got a new gas grill and we’ve been testing some new recipes. I’m loving the burgers my husband made, the skinnytaste Asian Glazed Drumsticks got a big thumbs up. Next up: I think I need to try a butcher for some ribs and steaks. Anyone been to an STL butcher?
- I’ve loved The xx so now that Jamie Smith has come out as Jame xx in his solo act, I’m of course listening to the new album nonstop. Loud Places is my current favorite.
- Please tell me someone else out there watches Orphan Black. I watched the first two seasons as fast as I could on Amazon Prime and now I can’t wait to get my hands on Season 3. Tatiana Maslany came out of nowhere to just wow me in her roles. Her acting is amazing.
- I made it to the St. Louis Art Museum to see Beyond Bosch before it closed. I also had a great time looking at Thomas Cole’s Voyage of Life. Nothing like turning 30 to make you want to visit exhibits that cover mortality and aging.
- I managed to get the deal of a lifetime from West Elm on some new office chairs. We’re getting closer to the office being finished.
- Even better – we just got the brackets for some office shelving in the mail from an Etsy seller. I need to finalize some bookshelf plans or you know, start on them.
- Not the sexiest of home improvements but we had our air conditioning system get some new intake for the air return and I swear I feel the improvement. I’m hoping my bills do too. I didn’t want to wait on improving my heating and cooling since it’s so important in the home. We have dual systems for the house and 3 stories so we need everything to work at its best. Hopefully 2015 was our year of service calls and repairs and in 2016 we’re just in maintenance mode. We’re onto our second home so we’ve taken a proactive approach to the big issues.
On the Web
- I remember growing up and hearing about New Horizons and the mission to Pluto but it still caught me by surprise when the photos began to come in. Pluto may have lost its planetary status during the journey there but I think it has captured my heart. Don’t forget the St. Louis Science Center is hosting a New Horizons themed Pluto party for August’s First Friday.
- I’m taking all my inspiration for home decor from this Pinterest board. Didn’t every girl grow up and want a Practical Magic house?
- I’m hugely invested in the justice and legal system so this story about life after prison really hit home for me.
- I got called for jury duty this month which wasn’t actually that bad. Two days of reading books, bad daytime TV, and eating lunch from food trucks in City Garden was pretty nice. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be picked (and not because I’m a criminal) so it wasn’t a surprise when I got sent home. So far my only days off work this year have been for a funeral and jury duty though so I need to step it up.
- I was diagnosed with cancer on July 8, 2005 so now I’ve made it 10 years past that big day. Tomorrow marks 10 years since I started chemo. I had expected surviving cancer this long to be more of a celebration but it felt more solemn than that for me. People I cared for didn’t make it like I did and there’s always a dark cloud that comes with survival. It’s a lonely world when you’re diagnosed with cancer at 19 and it’s even lonelier down the road when you don’t have all those voices celebrating with you.
- On a happier note, I turned 30 last week. My coworkers pretended not to know and pulled out a surprise birthday cake at the end of a lunch meeting. I went out with my girls to a happy hour and we got to remark on just how far we’ve all come in the last year. I had a nice dinner out with my husband and phone calls from family. My husband even made me a custom piece of art featuring our girl Nova. Then the next morning I work up with back spasms to remind me that I just can’t fight aging.