Showing posts with label lou16. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lou16. Show all posts

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Tracing Your Family Tree - Reviewing Some Genealogy Adventures

 Adventures in Genealogy - Discovering Your Roots

As Alice fell down the rabbit hole and discovered the secrets of Wonderland so a Genealogist can discover a wealth of addictive history while climbing along branches of the family tree.   My first adventures in genealogy began quite innocently enough and I couldn’t have predicted that it would stay with me for my entire life.


Alice Beatrice Gale - a sepia photograph of my great grandmother


I sometimes watch the television program – Who Do You Think You Are – where celebrities trace their family tree and it saddens me to think that some people don’t even know the names of all of their grandparents let alone further back.   I think knowing your roots helps in making you feel confident in yourself – it means you don’t feel alone because you know you have a family that goes back and out and you’re just a little twig on this solid oak tree!

My first ‘adventure’ as I referred to it before started in school where I was asked to make a family tree which I should just mention earned me an A (not that I’m bragging or anything!).   We were told to add ourselves, our siblings, our parents, their siblings and our grandparents and anything else we were able to.

The pretentious young girl that I was I made sure to add all of my grandparents’ siblings as well as the names of my great grandparents and while I was finding this out I made an amazing discovery – one of my great aunts had a marriage certificate that belonged to my great great grandparents.   I wasn’t allowed to take the original to school, but my dad let me get a photocopy to take in – I don’t know why this didn’t earn me an A+, but still!

All the photographs on this post are from the author's family and are used with permission - information on the people in them can be found at the bottom of the post.

 How to Start Researching Your Family Tree

Am I Descended from Royalty or is There a Criminal Mastermind in My Tree?

People want to trace their roots for a variety of reasons, years ago people would claim that their family were aristocrats – you just had to go back a while!   These days more and more people want to discover criminals in their backgrounds!   Whatever drives you to discover the people you’re descended from you have to start somewhere so where?

The first place to start is with the living – talk to your relatives, your parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and find as much information as you can from them.   You might find that some aren’t very helpful and that’s often because of skeletons in the family closet and with older relatives, this was often to do with birth dates and marriage dates not quite gelling or ‘sisters’ turning out to be daughters!

When I was looking into my maternal grandfather’s family mum suggested I contact her godmother who was also her cousin (we were living in New Zealand at the time and our family were from the UK).   I was lucky enough that my grandfather’s sister was staying with her at the time and wrote to me herself.   I had never met any of my grandfather’s family as my Nan fell out with them after his death (when I was 6) so it was great to ‘discover’ a great aunt and I still have her letters today.

I had only asked a few questions, but she had not only supplied that information but more besides including a family mystery and a scandal and the most important piece of information - my great grandfather's name wasn't what I had recorded!   I had been looking for Richard Butcher, but he was actually christened Arthur Richard Butcher, he'd just used the name Richard since he'd become an adult.  

What to Ask Your Relatives?

The basic questions to start with are their first names and date & place of birth – if they’re married ask for their spouse’s names and the details of their marriage along with details of any of their children.
Next, ask for their parent's details along with any of their parent’s siblings – move on to their grandparents after that.

It doesn’t matter if you already have details from other family members as it can either help confirm the information or show a discrepancy – both of which can be very helpful.   You can also discover different stories AND you never know who the family secret keeper is.

There is always someone in the family (it seems) who remembers all the skeletons, hoards all of the photos and sometimes even possesses the family bible or other papers which are all great things to see (if not own) as a family historian.     This person is the family secret keeper and did I mention you’re now a historian?

It's the little family stories that we hear that add the foliage to our family trees.

Don’t be in a rush as you’re talking to your living relatives either as it’s amazing the little pieces of information that they may tell you about which help you to breathe life into the photos and/or names on your family tree.

I remember a few years ago I looked at how my family tree was progressing and I felt a little dissatisfied as they were just names on paper, I didn’t know anything about them.   I decided then that I would ask my parents questions about what hobbies their parents and grandparents had, did they have any idiosyncrasies about them etc.   I just wanted to build up some sort of an idea about who they were and a few of the stories that I’ve been told have really helped bring my tree to life.

Family stories also sometimes have a little grain of truth in them (after all the tales had to come from somewhere) and when you hit a brick wall you can try throwing out some of the information – I used a name that some branches of the family used with our surname and some had dropped that apparently had something to do with grandma (it hadn’t!) and also a tea plantation that the family owned.   Well I had hit a brick wall so I did a broad search for our surname with the other surname and I found a marriage between what would turn out to be two great grandparents – I don’t think a train driver owned a tea plantation though, but it was a help nonetheless.

 

Alice & Eli Read with children Edward, Lona & William - my great grandparents, grandfather and a great aunt and great uncle - genealogy through photos
Eli & Alice Read with children Edward, Lona & William

 Birth, Death & Marriage Certificates

Getting More Information on Your Ancestors

When I was first setting out on my genealogy adventures the advice was to get birth, marriage and death certificates on everyone and they’re definitely full of invaluable information.   Unfortunately this does get expensive which is where the internet has been invaluable in both providing free information on births, marriage and death (bmd) records and also in helping you get in touch with other people who are researching your family.

I’ve been able to share certificates & research with people around the world and we’ve all benefited by filling in different parts of our histories.

Now, what information is found on these certificates?   Certificates look different in different countries and can also show different bits of information.

Birth Certificates will show both parents’ names as well as the full name and date of birth of the family member in question.   Birth certificates can also show the father's occupation as you can see on the certificate below of one of my great grandmothers.

UK Birth Certificate of Lily Maud Mary DEAN my great grandmother
Birth Certificate of Lily Mary Maud DEAN


As with all the certificates different countries will supply different information for example on the New Zealand birth certificate that I have for one of my husband's relatives it shows not just the father's details but the mothers' names and maiden names as well.   I think that New Zealand certificates were designed by a genealogist myself!

Marriage Certificates show the names of the bride and groom as well as their fathers (and of course details of the marriage).   Other information shown can differ from country to country.   I've enclosed the marriage certificate that ignited the genealogy bug in me way back in the 80s for you to look at.

This certificate is too long for me to scan fully (a problem with a number of UK certificates), but I hope you like it anyway.   The date of the marriage was 31st Jan 1877 and as a schoolchild trying to wrap my head around the fact that it was only a little over 100 years beforehand and my great grandparents couldn't write was just mindblowing!

1877 UK Marriage Certificate between Robert Gale and Martha Parsons my great great grandparents
Marriage Certificate of Robert GALE & Martha PARSONS

When it comes to death certificates, most of the ones in my genealogy files are from the UK which shows the date of death, name of deceased, sex, age, occupation and cause of death.   I'm going to show you a scan of my husband's grandmother's death certificate here instead though because it's a New Zealand death certificate.

Like the marriage certificate, the New Zealand death certificate also has a wealth of information contained on it and really is a treasure trove for people tracing their family tree.

NZ Death Certificate - Clara Emily COX nee PEASE
Death Certificate for Clara Emily COX nee PEASE


This certificate can hold a lot of information and I love that surviving issue is included as it's not always easy to find all of the birth records when you don't know how many children a couple has had together.   Another part that is very handy for a country that's based so much on immigration is the question - how long in New Zealand.

The thing with death certificates, however, is that the information is only as good as the surviving family members know and as you can see her mother's maiden name obviously wasn't remembered (or known) by her family which is a shame.

Free Alternatives to Getting 'Official' Certificates

One site that I have used in the past is called FreeBMD and is great for finding UK ancestors.   It’s not a complete site but they use volunteers to transcribe records of births, deaths & marriages from 1837 throughout England and Wales.

http://freebmd.org.uk/

The drawback is that you don’t get the extra information, but it’s still very handy.   I knew the names of two of my great grandparents and by using freebmd I was able to find when they were married and in which district which meant I could send away for their actual marriage certificate.    This was incredibly helpful as I had no idea when they were married.


Parish Records are another way of finding out information and if you’re researching for family in the UK then some counties have an Online Parish Clerk which is fantastic.   Different counties have different resources available online and some of the clerks will actually do a little digging for you if a census (for example) hasn’t been fully transcribed at the time.   Of course, these positions are voluntary and every clerk is different with different work loads etc.

I’ve used the Dorset OPC site and found it really great, other OPC sites haven’t had the information I’ve wanted for different family members, but I have only viewed a few of them so the best thing you can do is to Google county (the one where your ancestors are from) online parish clerk or opc and you’ll find the right page for you.   Be sure to check the counties on either side if you don’t find the information you need in the county you thought they were in.   A couple of different family lines of mine popped into neighboring counties for a few years here and there!

Arthur Richard BUTCHER & his daughters - adding faces to the family tree
Arthur BUTCHER & daughters

Census Records - A Family Historian's Goldmine

Material a Genealogist Can Get Their Teeth Into!

As well as parish records you can look at a lot of census records for free – UK census records anyway.   I use a site called FreeCen for a lot of my research – they’re run by the same people who provide us with FreeBMD that I’ve mentioned before.


For my Dorset relatives, I don’t have as much luck with the site however and I tend to go to the Dorset OPC as they have some of the early census returns transcribed so be sure to use both resources.

It can be incredibly handy to trace the family using several resources and the census is great for this, it even helped us to take our family tree up a few more branches on one line.   The moral to the story is to take note of all members of the household listed as if one disappears you can search for their name and you might discover them staying with other relatives – it happened on one of my adventures which I talk about under the 'putting the family tree together' section.

Army Records

Another Way of Tracing Your Family

If you have an ancestor who was in the army then I would recommend you get their army records as they can have some great information in them.   It seems as though every regiment holds different information - in the case of one of my grandfathers I received about 5 pages worth from his regiment, but with my husband's great grandfather we only received a single page.

Both regiments provided the age of the soldier when they joined up (be aware that at certain times in the past this was lied about and not always checked by officials!), where they joined up to (this can be handy if you want to know where they were living at the time) and their occupations at the time.

The records will also usually show identifying marks on the body such as scars and the fact that great grandfather had a tattoo before he joined the army!   The records also show where they were stationed - one of the regiments had very little on his actual duties except the place where his regiment was stationed for the time he was in there.

Another regiment's records had a lot more information, including how much time of service was spent abroad, what battles he participated in and medals awarded.

Let me tell you how using army records gave me the first break in tracing one part of the family tree ......

Putting the Family Tree Together

Being a Family Detective

My daughter doesn’t know why I like history, but I think of it as being a little bit like a detective which appeals to her a lot more.   When you’re researching the family history it really is like being a detective as no one (unless you’re extremely lucky) has written a number of books on your family for you to use as research tools.   Instead, you have to look at things like certificates, census returns and other records.

Let me tell you about how we tracked our family back a couple of generations by using free records.

My husband’s great grandfather had served in the army, but we had no idea what part of England he had originated from (we just knew he ended up with his family in New Zealand).   He was buried in a returned services cemetery and his regiment was listed on his grave so I wrote them an email and got his records sent to me.  

On his records, it included where he enlisted to along with his age and trade.   He joined the army in 1904 so I took a chance that he’d be living in the same area in 1901 and looked at the census and there I saw him living with his widowed mother and some siblings.   Looking at the census for 1891 I found both of his parents, himself and some siblings – one sibling was missing so I searched for him as well.   I wasn’t really expecting to find him, but I did and he was listed as a grandson which gave me the (possible) maiden name of great-great-grandma.   Armed with this information I then looked for a marriage using the ‘new’ name in the family tree and there it was!

Another generation discovered and another name to add to a branch of the family – always remember to keep track of siblings along the way.

Other reasons for keeping track of a sibling’s name is to make it quicker to find the family on census returns, let me give you an example.   On one side of the family, my direct descendant is called Richard a fairly common first name, but he had a brother called Twentyman which isn’t so common so if I were to search for census returns I’d look for his brother’s name first to find the household and hope they were both at home together on census night!

More on Military Records in Genealogy

  • USA Military Records
    Now I haven't used this site as I don't have any ancestors in the US (that I've found yet anyways!), but this site is part of the National Archives and tells you how to go about researching your genealogy in military records.
  • British Armed Forces Records
    If you have relatives that served in the British Armed Forces then this is one site to start looking on. I actually just Googled the regiment when I was looking for records and my father got the other records so I'm not sure how good this site is, but it's at least a stepping stone.

Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN - an old grainy photo of a great great grandfather born in Denmark 1829in
Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN


Eek! I've Got the Wrong Surname!

Adventures in Genealogy Sometimes Have Unexpected Twists

Genealogy 101 says you need certificates and this makes it quite an expensive hobby, I have often bypassed the certificates and used parish records, census records and other free online resources to trace the family tree, but occasionally that can backfire!

I had been tracing my husband’s paternal line and I couldn’t find his grandfather’s birth details anywhere – apparently, he was born in India, but I couldn't find any birth details of anyone by his name at all.   Luckily my husband’s great-granddad lived with his family for a while and was buried in the cemetery in his hometown.   He had been in the army so I took the name of his regiment from his gravestone and wrote to them – army records can be an invaluable source of information for family historians.   What I found in these records enabled me to trace his family back a couple of generations, but I still couldn’t find granddad even with the dates that great-granddad was serving in India to go on.

I hadn’t looked at this side of the family for a while and decided to do another search for him along with another surname which I know had something to do with the family – it wasn’t further up the line as far as I’d gone, so maybe it was great grandma’s name.   Hello, I found the marriage – they were married in India a month after he left the army, but the timing of the marriage didn’t gel with when my husband’s grandparents were married (grandad would've been too young) – things were getting murky.

Looking at the details of the marriage it noted that great-grandmother was older than great-grandfather and also a widow.   Just for the heck of it, I decided to search for grandad using her former married name and there he was – turns out the great-grandad that lived with the family and who everyone loved (grandad wasn’t let in the house – long story) was actually step great grandad so the family tree I’d been tracing didn’t actually belong to the right family :(

Now what was I told was genealogy 101?   That’s right – get certificates!

Sepia photograph of Edward Arthur Read my grandfather
Edward Arthur READ

Genealogical Links

Great Links to Help You Trace Your Family Tree

This free family search website is really good and I've recently had a lot of luck with their Indian data (this has obviously been updated since I last looked for this branch of the family).

  • Access Genealogy - Great for US Genealogy
  • If you're tracing family in the States this looks like a great site. I don't have any family lines in America, but I like the look of this site and I especially like the cemetery transcriptions - they are really handy.

  • Find My Past
  • This is a site that I have used in the past even though you do have to pay, I found quite a few records on one side of my family which made it worthwhile for me. There is also an American site available too which has a good reputation.

    Photographic Stars - Names & Dates

    Historic Photos From My Family Tree

    I hope you've enjoyed the family photos I've included in this article, but what if you think some of them look familiar or you just recognize a name?   Well if that's the case here's information on them and if you think there may be a family connection feel free to send a private message to me via Facebook.

    Introduction Image

    The image in the introduction is of Alice Beatrice GALE born 11 Oct 1884 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Alice was one of my great-grandmothers.

    Eli & Alice READ with children Edward, Lona & William

    This image is of Eli Reuben READ born 01 Jan 1879 at East Coker, Yeovil, Somerset, England along with his wife Alice (the same lady mentioned above) who were married on 14 Jan 1904.   They had eight children and are pictured with three of them from left to right they are - Edward Arthur READ (born 07 Sep 1907), Lona Frances Emily READ (born 21 Jul 1904) and William George READ (born 18 Dec 1905 ).

    Arthur BUTCHER and daughters

    This image is of Arthur Richard BUTCHER born 30 Nov 1873 at Caterham, Surrey.  He was one of my great grandfathers and is pictured with his daughters at a wedding.   The daughters are from left to right - Queenie Etta (born 19 Sep 1918), Constance Christina Winifred (born 17 Sep 1914), Mabel Beatrice (born 11 Feb 1898) , Eirene Hilda Dorothy (born 19 Sep 1899), May COMPTON (half sister) Gladys Kathleen (born 23 Apr 1906), Gwendoline Dorcas Joyce (born 27 Apr 1916)

    Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN

    This image is of Peder (Peter) Christian HANSEN who was born 3 Dec 1829 at Tommerup, Funen Island, Denmark.   He was one of my husband's great-great-grandfathers and emigrated to New Zealand in 1874.

    Edward Arthur READ

    This image is of Edward Arthur READ (the same person in the photo with his parents Eli and Alice) who was born 7 Sep 1907 at Loders, Dorset, England.   Edward was one of my grandfathers although I never got to meet him as he died before I was born.

    I think photographs really help bring your family tree alive, but unfortunately, some of them can be in disrepair.  I've come across ones that have been ripped, covered in age spots and more.   I did write a post about removing blemishes in photoshop if you have some old photos that do not look their best.

    Are you interested in tracing your family tree?








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    Saturday, January 9, 2021

    How Did I Become a Bookworm?

     I haven't written many book reviews when you consider how many books I've read in my life.  The reason why is because I don't want to inadvertently ruin the book for someone by mentioning a twist or alluding to something I saw in the book that they interpreted differently until much later.

    Image from Pixabay

    Hi, my names Louanne and I'm a bookworm, I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember certainly before I started school.   My parents always read to us before going to bed (until we wanted to read by ourselves) and my mum told me a few years ago about dad trying to skip a few pages and make up the story in order to get me asleep quicker and I would get quite pretentious in telling him - that's not what it says and making him start again!

    My daughter went into daycare from about 14 months old and I was told by the staff what a large vocabulary she had.   Like my parents before me, I had always read to her because, in my opinion, teaching a child to read a book is like ensuring they will always be able to choose their own adventures.

    There are books on every topic and if your child loves space they only have to find a quiet space and the right book and they can transport themselves onto a new planet or a spaceship and have an absolute ball.   If they want to become dragon slayers, fairies, or pirates - there are books available for all of them.

    I have always read a wide variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction and I credit this habit of reading for allowing me the ability to think outside of the box and also for doing well at trivia quizzes!

    When I was younger I used to read at least one book a day and I collected Bookworm Certificates at school so often the teacher couldn't believe how much I read, she actually told my parents, "Louanne doesn't read books, she inhales them."   I've always remembered that because I was going to put it on my author bio when I published all of my literary works.   Well writing a book hasn't happened (I'd much rather read!), but a couple of my friends (and reviewers on this site) have done so.

    Beverley Owens has written some great cozy mysteries, check out her Amazon page here

    Barbara Tremblay Cipak - has written riddle books which are so much fun (although sometimes frustrating!), check out her Amazon page here.

    What Kind of Bookworm Are You?

    Throughout my life people have always asked me one of two questions - who's your favorite author? or what genre of books do you like to read?

    I really can't pick a favorite author, there are just so many.   When I was younger I remember loving

    Enid Blyton books
    Enid Blyton and I would alternate between preferring the Famous Five or the Secret Seven (the Secret Seven won out the most!).   I can remember getting a few of her books as sets for Christmas - Malory Towers & St Claires and I loved that as it wasn't just one book, but a whole set.   After inhaling both these sets I really, really wanted to go to boarding school!

    I also found a fondness for Agatha Christie as a teen as she was one of my nan's favourite authors, my nan also introduced me to these cheap little paperback mystery books (the name of the series escapes me now) that were written to be consumed quickly and by a range of different authors.   They were written in much the same style as cozy mysteries which I think is probably why I love settling down with them.

    I also discovered Ruth Rendall as a teen and after reading A Murder of Crows was thoroughly hooked.   At the same time as I was reading these, my best friend was delving into the books of Jean Plaidy.  Of course, I had to see what she was reading and so I started 'inhaling' historical fiction as well.

    What' genre of books do I like to read is also too hard to answer as I'm sure you can tell from the above paragraph!

    When I had finished all the Ruth Rendall & Jean Plaidy books in our local library I decided to pivot and started to read biographies.   I just grabbed the biographies without worrying who they were about - some people I had never heard of before!  I read every biography in the library, some were boring but the majority were so interesting and now and then they'll be a trivia question and I'll say the answer without thinking and I have no idea how I knew it.   Reading - it's great for building knowledge!

    When I was 18 &19 I lived with my Gran for nine months and her favorite author was Catherine Cookson so I found myself devouring all of those.  She also enjoyed Danielle Steele.

    After that, I tended to alternate between whodunnits and family sagas.   I had moved to a smaller town when I was 19 so I would start reading an author and then read every book the library had by that author before trying a new one.   It was a great way of getting to know new authors, it was where I first came across Penny Vincenzi and I would put her new book title on my Christmas list for several years afterward.

    I have the Kindle Paperwhite
    Gradually I started adding 'Chick Lit', psychological thrillers & John Grisham to my book lists.  It seems like the only type of book genre I haven't really been able to immerse myself in is science fiction.   I prefer my Sci-fi on the screen.

    I am now in my 50s and finally have a kindle which doesn't stop me from reading actual books, by the
    way, it just seems to mean I read even more!   I have started to add personal development books into the mix.

    Let's have a look at a few of the books I have reviewed here on Review This, let me know which one's you've read as I wouldn't dream of asking you for a favorite author or genre!







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    Saturday, December 26, 2020

    Reviewing A Splendid Ruin by Megan Chance

     If you embrace the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold then you will love this historical novel by Megan Chance.

    A Recommended Read

    Although this author has many titles to her name this is the first novel of hers I have read and I loved it.   The novel is divided into 3 parts.   The first part introduces us to May Kimble who has been living in Brooklyn, New York until after her mother's death.   She receives a letter from her mother's sister of whom she had no idea even existed and is welcomed into the arms of her newfound family in San Francisco in 1904.

    She has lots of questions, but receives no answers to them and is unfortunately too naive to realise that she is being manipulated.   She suspects things are amiss, but doesn't act on her instincts or her laudanum addled aunt's ravings at her to go home.

    Part one culminates in the death of her aunt and the ultimate betrayal from her family and May realises just how she's been played.

    Part two is terrifying as May learns how to survive in a place that her mother hadn't even thought to prepare her for.   She learns her lessons quickly and uses her knowledge to improve her conditions while thinking of her revenge.   Why do I call it terrifying?  It's certainly not a scary, horror book, but it's terrifying as to how easy it was in 1904 for this to happen and it's something that I have read about in other historical books and novels alike.

    Part Three is called Retribution and begins on April 18th, 1906.  For any American history buffs out there you may recall that this is the date of the great San Francisco earthquake.   The earthquake gives May a chance to escape where she was and she takes advantage of that.

    May proves to be very resourceful and brave.  You really see how she has grown since arriving in California.   She plots her revenge and also falls in love (well, I believe the seeds for falling in love were planted in part one, but now she is ready).

    The ultimate revenge doesn't come in the way that May and her paramour planned, but was the perfect moment and absolutely embodied the saying, revenge is a dish best served cold.

    I really enjoyed this historical novel and a little glimpse into San Francisco's turn of the century society and also how the earthquake was dealt with by the people on the ground - the author portrayed the confusion that would have been about really well.

    I recommend this read for anyone that enjoys historical fiction with a strong heroine (although she was frustratingly naive in the first part, she certainly grew into a strong heroine).  I will certainly be reading other books from this author.

    This book was available as part of Amazon Prime - I love Amazon Prime as not only does it have Kindle books, it has a number of television series that I enjoy on it and also gives me free shipping when I purchase anything - find out more about it here.

    It is also available as part of Kindle Unlimited which is great if you enjoy reading, I started with a free trial and am now in my second month of it.   Definitely worth the free trial, especially over these holidays when there aren't as many get together as usual - more time for reading!




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    Saturday, November 28, 2020

    Dog Christmas Cards

    As a dog lover I love seeing dog-inspired Christmas cards and as a Zazzle affiliate I know I'm not alone as I sell quite a few dog-inspired Christmas cards every year.


    Card designs by Christmas Holidays on Zazzle



    My most popular dog Christmas card features a pug, but this year I've sold quite a few dalmatian Christmas cards designed by fellow Zazzlers.

    If you're wondering what this Zazzle is that I speak of then let me tell you about it.   Zazzle is a website where designers from around the world can upload their designs to various different products such as cards, t-shirts, mugs even yoga mats!

    Buying something from Zazzle means you are helping a designer to provide for their family.   Some people 'Zazzle' alongside a 'day job', others do it alongside being a stay at home parent, yet more people do it as they have a disability that means they are unable to work outside of the home.   A few are able to survive solely on their Zazzle income.

    I have brought a few products through Zazzle and I have always loved their quality.   You can see a selection of dog-inspired Christmas cards on this site - Dog Christmas Cards - from a selection of different designers.

    Check out how I created my popular Pug Christmas card on this post - designing a pug Christmas card.

    Here's a collection of my own dog-inspired Christmas cards that you can find on Zazzle:





    Something else that I love about Zazzle is that you can personalize the cards - many people will upload their own dog photos to send out with their cards or even write a verse for the cards. Have you ever used Zazzle for any products?    I would love to hear about your experience.





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    Saturday, November 14, 2020

    Using a Lightbox as an Advent Calendar - Yes or No?

    Today I'm going to review an alternative to the usual advent calendars as a way to countdown to Christmas - a lightbox!


    Forget the advent calendars and try adding a lightbox underneath your tree for a fun countdown. You can get your own...

    Posted by Christmas Tree Ideas on Wednesday, November 13, 2019


    Now when my daughter was younger I brought a fabric advent calendar that had little pouches I would fill each year - she used the same advent calendar every year and loved it. My friend had a wooden advent calendar that was shaped like a Christmas tree and her kids would take turns opening it - she also used to get them a chocolate advent calendar each so that no one went without something during the countdown!

    It was only last year after my daughter moved out that I saw the post that you can see above - a lightbox to countdown the days seemed like a great idea. I'm interested to know what other people think though - a small gift or chocolate every day for the kids or just a countdown display under the Christmas tree?


    Let me know if you're a Yes or a No!


    If you vote advent calendars then check out a few here:

    Farm Advent CalendarFarm Advent Calendar

    DIY or Reusable Advent CalendarsDIY or Reusable Advent Calendars

    The Great Christmas Countdown is onThe Great Christmas Countdown is on

    Christmas Lego Advent CalendarsLego Advent Calendars




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    Saturday, October 31, 2020

    Reviewing Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott

     The idea behind this book is just horrifying for any parent, let me paint you a picture .....


    Purchase Right Behind You by Rachel Abbott on Amazon - photo by Lou16

    Imagine you have a young child and one day the police come to your door to arrest your partner for child endangerment, at the same time a social worker and another police officer inform you that your daughter has to go with them and you can't accompany her because you may influence what she says.

    Wouldn't you go out of your mind with worry about your child as well as wondering if you knew your partner as well as you thought and going over every little detail that you could think of?

    Now let's say you wait and you don't hear anything so finally you decide you're going to call the police station because, seriously, your daughter must be worried not being with her mum for so long.   The next thing you discover is the police have no record of your partner's arrest and certainly don't have your daughter.   It was an elaborate ruse to kidnap your child and now you have to work out why - will there be a ransom, was your partner involved?

    This book was a real page-turner and if you enjoy suspenseful fiction then you will absolutely love this.   I did work out who was behind it before the book revealed which I found very frustrating, but that's something I'm known for with both movies and books!

    This book gets a big thumbs up from me, although I am very glad my daughter is an adult now, the author's idea is truly terrifying to any parent and I'm not sure I would've wanted to read it had my own daughter been a pre-schooler.   That's how good it was.

    I have never come across Rachel Abbott before but I will certainly be looking out for some of her books in the future.   I actually got the kindle version of this book for free as I have an Amazon Prime account.   I love having a Prime membership because I can try different authors and even different genres of books for free before purchasing more books.

    Rachel Abbott has several other books available in book form, in Kindle form as well as audiobooks, in fact, a couple of them are available for free if you decide to trial audible (I don't have this yet, but a number of people have been telling me to try it).





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    Saturday, October 17, 2020

    Review of Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector

     I have to say that I loved the Denzel Washington & Angelina Jolie movie, The Bone Collector that was based on the book by Jeffrey Deaver so when I heard that they'd made a television series I just had to watch it!

    Lincolm Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector television series
    Hunt for the Bone Collector Publicity Photo from NBC.com

    Lincoln Rhyme was Denzel's character in the movie and in the television series he is played by Russell Hornsby.   We see in the first episode how he became a quadriplegic and we also meet Amelia, the NYPD officer who is to become his eyes and ears.   Like the character in the movie played by Angelina Jolie, Amelia (played by Arielle Kebbel) stops a train to save the evidence.

    The storyline isn't exactly the same as the movie which means that both the fans of The Bone Collector and people who have never seen it before can enjoy this series.

    As well as hunting for the serial killer known as The Bone Collector, the team headed by Lincoln also delves into other cases such as the kidnapping of a politician's daughter and another serial killer who has perfected the perfect murder ..... until he came into Lincoln's orbit that is.

    If you love the thrill of vicariously trying to catch a serial killer while solving other crimes and being on the edge of your seat as members of 'your team' are put in danger then you will love this series.

    There's only one problem with this series, they decided to cancel it after one season so my tip is to stop watching it about five minutes before the end of the final episode.   Otherwise, you'll be like me and forever be asking a question that was left as a cliffhanger.

    Not only do I 100% recommend watching this series if you haven't seen the movie yet - check it out!  My husband and I are thinking of re-watching it since we've finished this series (which we did over two days - it's definitely binge-worthy!).

    We watched the series on one of the free to air channels here in Australia, but I was thrilled to find that it's also available to watch on Amazon Prime.   I really do enjoy having Amazon Prime, we get to watch great shows and I also get to read some great books and that's just two of the perks!




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    Saturday, October 3, 2020

    Halloween Skeletons Make Great Decor

     How do you like to decorate for Halloween?  I think skeletons are a great choice.

    Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil - image from Pixabay.com

    There are a number of different ways to incorporate skeletons in your Halloween decor from basically a few bones in a graveyard style theme to using actual poseable skeletons.

    You can even use animal skeletons like a dog or a cat for a little bit of intrigue.   I actually have a friend who's a yoga teacher so when I saw skeletons doing yoga I thought that would be fun for her Halloween display.

    Photo by Lou16, purchase online here

    The best image I saw to incorporate a skeleton inside was in a private Halloween group, unfortunately, I can't share that image with you, but it was basically a skeleton in a wedding dress sat in a chair.

    I love the idea of getting a posable skeleton and putting an old wedding dress on it and sitting it in a rocking chair in the corner of the room.   It was a very good looking display (although they didn't use a rocking chair) and let's face it many of us keep our wedding dresses without ever using them again so a perfect way to give them a little airing as well.

    Of course if you wanted an outside skeleton bride you could always pop her
    on a garden bench with or without a groom - photo from Pixabay

    How would you incorporate a skeleton into your Halloween decor?




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    Saturday, September 19, 2020

    Reviewing the Joie Yogurt on the Go

    I love my little yogurt on the go container, although sometimes it's got something different in it!

    My yogurt on the go container complete with today's lunch!
    Photo by Lou16

    I first say the Joie Yogurt on the go in a shop at a time when I was doing the 30 days to healthy living and I thought it might be a really handy container.   Now I have only ever seen the red and white container, but having a look on Amazon you have a choice, check them out -

    Purchase from Amazon

    Now obviously this is designed to have a yogurt in the main part and some toppings in the dome part of the container which is kept completely separate.   The first time I used it I left the dome empty and filled the container with some overnight oats - having a spoon attached meant I had everything I needed to eat wherever and whenever I wanted and it was great.

    The next time I added some toppings in the dome and I have to be honest - I could screw the dome container off to eat my yogurt, but I couldn't open the dome.   Finally I had found the downside of this product.   I took it home and went to demonstrate to my husband how the top couldn't be opened and what do you know - it worked!

    I have no idea what my issue was the first time because I have not had a problem since!

    It is very easy to clean and the spoon really does stay easily attached which makes it so easy for me to take a snack or even a meal out with me for the day.   

    Sometimes when I'm working and on the plan I really don't feel like a shake for lunch and I don't have the facilities to make pancakes or waffles at work so I'll make up either a thick smoothie that I can eat in a smoothie bowl with toppings or I make some overnight oats.   I put the overnight oats in this container and also add a few nuts and seeds in the dome part to add a little crunch to my lunch.

    If we're travelling and I know I'm going to feel like a snack I will sometimes put coconut yogurt in the container along with some fresh berries and I may or may not add something to the dome - this can then be safely put in our cooler and I don't have to worry about remembering to add a spoon.

    I have also added coconut yogurt in the container and put some protein powder in the dome container so that when travelling if we don't find anything that I feel like eating which is on plan I can simply have something little like sweet potato fries or a salad and then add the protein powder to the yogurt for 'dessert' and to make sure I get some quality protein to keep me from feeling hungry.

    I do recommend this container, if I'd come across it when my daughter was younger I would've sent her to school with yogurt and toppings (she always wanted those yogurts in the supermarket with yogurt on one side and toppings on the other that you open and mix together.   This would've been right up her alley!




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    Saturday, September 5, 2020

    Reviewing Arbonne Intelligence Lip Treatment

    Do you suffer from cracked dry lips during winter? I usually do, something about the dry winter air so when I heard of a lip treatment that Arbonne had I was keen to try it. 

    Arbonne's Intelligence Lip Treatment with Raspberry seed oil



    Now I use a shea butter lip balm every day (Arbonne of course, those who know me know how loyal I am to this brand) and my lips haven't felt as bad the last couple of years. I also used another Arbonne product that was a lip scrub and salve, but lip scrubs should only be used once a week (some people say 2-3 times a week, but for cracked lips my research comes down firmly on no more than once a week). 

    When someone mentioned the Arbonne Intelligence Lip Treatment I was intrigued, but I didn't actually get it until a few months ago - just before our Australian winter began. It's suitable for all skin types and is designed to help promote younger looking lips, but I was interested in the claim "Deeply hydrates, moisturizes and protects the natural moisture barrier ..." and winter seemed the perfect time to trial it for myself. 

    The tube seemed quite small when I received it, but having used a lot (according to my husband too
    Arbonne's Lip Care Range

    many!) of Arbonne products I knew that a little would probably go a long way. I squeezed out an amount that would fit on a pinhead and rubbed it on my lips - it felt really nice like a moisturiser combined with a lipstick but one with no stickiness or tackiness about it. 

    I certainly didn't need my lip balm, although I kept it in my bag and applied some after lunch. 

    I used the lip treatment every day for a week and my lips definitely felt softer, I decided to continue using it for another week and then I switched to using it every couple of days. 

    If you get dry lips in winter I really recommend trying this and you'll know if it's working after a week which is great because Arbonne gives all of it's products a 45 day money back guarantee so if you don't like it you can send it back! 

    It also says that it can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles and plumps the lips' appearance so that they look younger - I'm really not sure about that. I feel like they look a little plumper, but that could be because they are smoother as they aren't as dry so the jury on that is out as far as I'm concerned. 

    I know that some people use this in place of lipstick when they are going for a natural day time look and other people use it as a primer before adding their lipstick. 

    The key ingredients in this lip treatment are the following botanicals: 

    • Alfalfa extract 
    • Chicory root extract 
    • Ginger 
    • Cocoa butter 
    • Raspberry seed oil 
    • Cloudberry extract 

    It is now spring here in Australia and I still have the small tube so it really does go a long way.   What do you do for dry lips (if you suffer from them)?



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    Saturday, August 22, 2020

    Reviewing PUMA Pacer Next Cage Sneakers for Men

    Now before I start my review I should say that I am unashamedly a New Balance girl, so why am I reviewing some PUMA sneakers?   Let me tell you my story .....

    My black PUMA sneakers - perfect for wearing to the office!


    For the past 10 years I have been wearing New Balance shoes for walking (well I do also have walking sandals, but ..), running, the gym and basically any activity I do.   They were recommended to me by my physio, the people at the athletic shoe store who measured me and did various tests and one of our friends who's a podiatrist.  Even with those three recommendations I wasn't convinced until I tried them on, I decided I was never even going to look at other athletic shoes as they were so comfortable.

    Hello 2020 and I find myself the owner of a pair of PUMA Pacer Next sneakers, so what happened?   Surprisingly, given the year we are in, it had nothing to do with Covid!   I work as an Office Manager for an accounting firm and we moved from our long-standing one story office building to a two story office building a few months ago.

    For the first couple of weeks I decided I was wearing my New Balance shoes as I was running up and down the stairs so many times while we were getting everything organized (including carrying boxes as we were still unpacking!).   Seriously though, anyone who knows New Balance will know that each year they have different coloured shoes released and I have never owned a black or grey pair.   My current bright pink shoes are very comfy and are great for sport, but they don't really look very corporate.

    Now it's winter so I thought I would wear my smart (and very comfy), flat black boots to the office.   I should mention that we now have wooden floors throughout and my boots were very loud - what was the solution?

    My husband and I happened to visit a shopping centre not long after and he steered me towards the PUMA store (I was trying to go into the bookstore opposite!).   Let's look for some black pumps were the words that convinced me to leave the bookstore until later (by the way this was the bookstore where I got The Alice Network and then returned to find they also had The Huntress - can't wait for my next trip!).

    The first pair I tried on were the Pacer Next and I loved them, but my husband wanted me to continue to look so I tried two other pairs on and returned to the PUMA Pacer Next pair.  Now these were actually the men's shoes and they seem to go by the name of PUMA Men's Pacer Next Cage Sneaker in the US.   I originally tried the men's on because they were all black and the woman's ones had a white stripe on them, when I put them on they were basically the most comfortable for me.

    I do have wider feet than I used to and this could be why the men's style suited me best.

    What I found a little strange was that the tongue was sewn in so instead of pushing the tongue up and pulling the sides out to manhandle your foot into it you had to push your foot in and then I hooked the tag on the back with my finger and effectively used it to 'shoehorn' my foot in.  It felt weird the first couple of times, but now I do it without thinking.

    A very big plus with these shoes is I haven't had a single blister, not even a little rubbing.   That's after wearing them for over 8 hours a day four days in a row.   They are extremely comfortable and I thoroughly recommend them, in fact I'm not going to even look for a more 'corporate' shoe for work as these blend in nicely with my black trousers and I stay comfortable!

    I will still stay loyal to New Balance for my workout shoes, but PUMA is going to be my go to work shoe for quite some time I believe.

    Have you tried any of PUMA's sneakers?




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    Saturday, August 8, 2020

    How to Make a Healthy Version of Starbuck's Pink Drink

    I'm going to review how I make a really delicious (and healthier) version of Starbuck's Pink Drink.

    Make Starbucks, The Pink Drink at home - how to
    Photo's by Louanne, template from Canva


    Now I must confess I've never tried the Pink Drink, but I kept seeing posts about it all over social media.   I don't live close to a Starbucks, but when I saw a recipe doing the rounds that everyone swore was just like it I had to give it a try.

    I fell in love with this drink and now I can understand the appeal of this drink.   My version has less sugar than the original Starbucks one and it also contains antioxidants, ginseng, B vitamins and chromium which means it will help you to reduce fatigue.

    It also contains a blend of amino acids and adaptogenic botanicals that help to reduce stress and improve your mind balance.    Sounds perfect doesn't it?   And did I forget to say it tastes amazing!

    Ingredients for a Healthy Pink Drink


    12 oz coconut milk
    1 cup frozen strawberries
    1 scoop Arbonne's Inner Calm Powder
    1 Arbonne Strawberry Fizz Stick

    Directions for the Pink Drink (healthy version)


    1. Place the coconut milk, inner calm powder and strawberries in a blender and blend well.
    2. Pour into a drinks bottle (I use a sports drink bottle to drink this out of, but you could use a cup or glass if you like, but in that case make sure there is plenty of room for the drink to fizz up)
    3. Next add the fizz stick, if in a bottle give it a little shake before letting out some of the air and enjoy.   If you are using a cup or glass give the drink a stir before enjoying.
    I've used fizz sticks on their own and also as part of my morning greens drink, you can check out my article about them here.

    I am an Independent Consultant with Arbonne, you are welcome to contact me directly with any questions you may have about these products or to find out how to qualify for a discount.   Message me via Facebook or Instagram.

    Have you tried the Pink Drink?



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    Saturday, July 25, 2020

    Reviewing The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

    This riveting historical fiction novel is one that is hard to put down once you start reading and takes you on a journey through both the first World War as well as post World War II.

    review of the alice network by kate quinn
    The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, photo by Lou16


    A little while ago I read a review on this very site for a book called The Huntress by Kate Quinn which peeked my interest so when I was in a bookstore and saw The Alice Network by Kate Quinn author of The Huntress I just had to buy it.   The Alice Network was actually penned first and after reading it I am even more keen to read The Huntress!

    The Alice Network was actually real as was the leader and Kate Quinn has done a marvelous job of interweaving actual historic events into a story that is hard to put down.

    A WWI female spy - Louise de Bettignies - featured in the historical novel The Alice Network
    The Queen of Spies herself, courtesy of Wikipedia
    The novel features two strong heroines - Eve Gardiner and Charlie St Clair.   Eve's story takes us through the world of women espionage during the first World War and introduces us to the real life Queen of Spies, Louise de Bettignies.   What I found great after finishing this story was the author notes at the end which mention which of the characters were actually based on historical figures and which weren't.   Something I thought very interesting was where Kate Quinn got the idea for Eve's story, along with her spy name.

    Eve's chapters take us through the perils of life as a female spy during World War I in France.   The other heroine is Charlie St Clair who finds herself (an American college girl) pregnant and unwed at 19 during the aftermath of World War II.

    When her mother takes Charlie to Europe to dispose of her 'little problem' they make a stop in England where Charlie leaves the hotel to search for Eve Gardiner who was a name on the bottom of a missing persons report for her French cousin who went missing during the war.

    Together they head to Europe, along with Eve's Scottish helper and driver and start on their individual quests - Charlie to find her cousin Rose and Eve to hunt down her enemy who handed her over to the Germans during WWI.

    As the book interweaves through the two story lines we learn more about both heroines along the way and find where they both have to make major decisions which could totally change the outcomes of their lives.   The book also exposes the double standards women faced during WWI and showed how little these double standards had changed by the 1940s. 

    Obviously as with any historical fiction some liberties were taken, but I'd love to think that Louise de Bettignies did buy ridiculous hats when travelling and was able to inject some fun into her life of intrigue.   I like the idea of her having the personality that was displayed in the book as the life of a spy in France at that time was very bleak - as it was for most every day people in Europe at that time.

    I would love to see this book turned into a movie as I'm sure my husband would enjoy it.  What can you expect from this book?   If you pick up this book expect suspense, intrigue, a little romance and so many twists and turns.




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    Saturday, July 11, 2020

    Reviewing Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla Tea

    I absolutely love my tea which is why I thought I would review another tea staple in my life - Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla.

    Reviewing Twining's Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla tea - a relaxing blend
    Photo from Pixabay
    I am a big fan of Twining's teas and have actually written about their peppermint tea previously.   As much as I enjoy a good coffee, tea is the staple drink of my life.

    Every day starts with a mug (I don't really do tea cups unless I have a pot to top it up from!) of Arbonne tea and when I get home from a busy day at work nine times out of ten I'll have a mug of Twinings Chamomile, Honey & Vanilla tea.   I usually also drink this tea before going to bed, except for the odd nights I made myself a Milo.

    Chamomile as a herb is known for it's relaxation properties and I do remember the first time I tried it, it was made from actual dried chamomile flower (like the photo above) and it had a back taste that I really didn't like at all.   I have tried various brands several times over the years both as a loose tea and in a tea bag form and I haven't been able to stomach the after taste of the Chamomile.

    A couple of years ago I tried a Spiced Apple and Chamomile blend from Twinings which I didn't mind so when the Twinings teas were on special again I thought I would try the Chamomile, Honey and Vanilla - I haven't looked back!

    I don't know if my taste buds have changed as I've gotten older or if it's the addition of the honey and vanilla flavours, but I thoroughly enjoyed this blend and, as I've said, it is now a staple in my life - in fact I think I have four boxes in my cupboard as I write this!

    If you want a caffeine free tea (complete with relaxing properties) to drink before going to bed I can really recommend this one.

    There are quite a few tea drinkers that write for Review This Reviews and you can check out their reviews right here - Tea Related Reviews.

    Have you tried this tea blend before?






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    Saturday, June 27, 2020

    The Stranger, a TV Series

    I would like to review a British television series called The Stranger and I can easily do it in one sentence.   Go and watch it right now!

    Harlan Coben's The Stranger a Netflix series
    The Stranger (British TV Series) - image adapted by Lou16
    from a photo on Pixabay.com
    Want more than my bossy sentence?   Well I must admit the trailer for this series looked good and certainly peaked mine and my husband's interest, but the series itself totally outshone our expectations.  It is based on a book by American author Harlan Coben and after watching it I am definitely going to start reading some of his books.

    The series has a British cast that if you watch many British shows you'll probably be very familiar with.   There were lots of actors that I recognise from different shows that they've popped up on.   The main star of the show is Richard Armitage who as an actor first came to my attention in the British spy series Spooks, although he has a number of other credits to his name.

    Another star is actress Siobhan Finneran who has appeared in several British television shows over the years, but I particularly liked her portayal of  a police detective in The Moorside (available through Amazon Prime).   In this show she, again, plays a detective.

    I would also like to mention two other stars of the show - Shaun Dooley and Jennifer Saunders.   I will be honest and say that I felt both of these actors were not (in my opinion) on their best game, but the story was strong enough that they didn't need to be better.   As a fan of Shaun Dooley since I watched Married, Single, Other years ago (a great British drama series) I was a little disappointed in his acting.   I've also loved Jennifer Saunders since her French and Saunders days, but I didn't feel that her acting was to the standard of the rest of the cast.

    An actor that was amazing was Paul Kaye, I absolutely hated his character, he played it perfectly

    This series is what I call bingeworthy.   We started watching it on a Sunday night and were only going to watch one episode - 3 episodes later we had to turn it off as we had work the next day.   The following night we had things on and decided to just watch one episode before bed...we watched two and it was very hard to get up the following morning.

    Luckily the third night we had nothing on and the series only has 8 episodes so we managed to finish it!   I recommend watching it when you have 8 hours to spare because you may not want to stop.

    The main story line is very interesting as it's about a stranger approaching someone with details of a secret.   What keeps it enthralling is not just wondering about the stranger, but all the intricate little threads that the writers have kept running through it.   The book was adapted by screenwritter Danny Brocklehurst and he has done an amazing job.

    The suspense was kept up with all these surprising things happening - as an example at the end of one of the episodes someone walks into their workplace and is greeted by their workmates.   That doesn't sound very cliffhangerish now does it?   However it made my husband and I both sit up as we hadn't anticipated that happening!

    The ending of every episode has you wanting more and that is exactly why I loved it.

    I did see that Danny Brocklehurst and Harlan Coben co- wrote another Netflix series called Safe so I am definitely going to put that one on the must watch list!

    One of the great things about winter is definitely cold nights watching some great shows/movies with my hubby.





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