June 28, 2017

ENDS TODAY! BIG DNA Test Kit Sale

If you’ve been waiting for the next big DNA test kit sale, it’s here! We’ve gathered up big discounts being offered by several DNA test providers. A DNA test kit makes a great Father’s Day gift–and at these prices, you might want to buy several!

DNA test kit sale

AncestryDNA DNA Test Kit Sale: Save 20%

DNA test kit saleWith an AncestryDNA DNA test kit, you can uncover your ethnic origins and find the people, places, and migration paths in your family history.

What’s to love about AncestryDNA:

  • Strong genealogy connection possibilities–more than 4 million potential matches!
  • Ethnicity estimates include 26 genetic regions
  • Unique Genetic Communities migration maps

AncestryDNA DNA test kit SALE PRICE $79.
Reg. $99. Excludes taxes and shipping. This offer is for U.S. customers only. Sale ends 6/18/17.DNA test kit sale

 23andMe DNA Test Kit Sale: Save $20 + FREE gift wrap!

DNA test kit saleWhat’s to love about a 23andMe DNA test kit: The optional health reports you can purchase along with ancestry information! Sale kit prices:

Reg. $99-$199. Limit 2. Shipping to continental U.S. only. Sale ends 6/18/17.

DNA test kit sale

Family Tree DNA Test Kit Sale: Save $20-$30

DNA test kit saleWhat’s to love about a Family Tree DNA test kit: Again, options! At Family Tree DNA, you can do an autosomal test (like the ones above) OR you can choose to test a man’s YDNA to look JUST at his paternal roots. A great Father’s Day gift!

  • Family Finder Test$69. Map ethnic and geographic background, gain insight into ancestral origins, and confirm family history and traditions.
  • YDNA 37 Marker Test$139. Explore direct paternal line & ancestral origins, uncover paternal heritage going back to Africa, and trace male ancestors’ ancient migration paths.

Reg. $89-169. Sale ends 6/18/17. 

Click here to learn more about DNA testing for ethnicity and to connect with your genetic relatives.

Thanks for sharing this excellent DNA test kit sale with your friends!

Offers and availability subject to change by the companies providing them. Contact individual testing companies with specific questions about testing, results, subscriptions, etc. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you purchase through these links. By doing so, you support all of the free content that we bring you, including the free Genealogy Gems Podcast, our YouTube channel, and this blog.

New DNA Ethnicity Chart: Display Your Heritage

Just in time for Father’s Day! This new DNA ethnicity chart design is a classy and cutting-edge way to share your family history. As wall displays, this is the perfect conversation-starter for your home or heritage gift for a loved one.

DNA ethnicity chart

There’s a gorgeous new way to display your genetic genealogy from Family ChartMasters! It’s a new custom DNA ethnicity chart, and it’s a fantastic way to spark conversation about your family history with friends and loved ones.

“At Family ChartMasters we believe that family history can save the world,” says owner Janet Hovorka. “The more people know about their background, the more they are inspired with civility, gratitude and compassion for other people because they find out we are all more alike than different. We want to help people make that easy to remember every day.”

Your ethnic “pie chart”

DNA ethnicity results–those “pie charts” that come with your genetic genealogy test results–are one of the most popular aspects of testing. Even those without an active interest in researching their roots often test just to learn what their DNA says about their genetic roots: How Irish are they? Do they have Jewish roots? Is there any truth to that old family story about being descended from an Indian princess?

The science behind DNA ethnicity percentages is still being refined, as is evident from the varying ethnicity results you may receive from different companies. But it’s still fascinating to learn–and super shareable with just about anyone!

DNA ethnicity chart options

Family ChartMaster’s new DNA ethnicity chart comes in three themes to fit a variety of different décor styles: Basic, Antique, and Modern. The Basic theme is clean and fresh, and complements most decorating styles. The Antique theme’s sepia-tone finish brings together the styling of antique maps with your high-tech DNA profile. The Modern theme is graphic and bold, with neutral tones well-suited to contemporary décor.

DNA ethnicity chart

DNA ethnicity chartIn less than five minutes, you can upload an optional photo and then manually enter your ethnicity estimates from a DNA test. The categories are currently aligned with AncestryDNA’s ethnic regions–which is running a great sale for Father’s Day, by the way, if you’ve been waiting to purchase a test. (Other DNA test providers also have some great prices now; click here to see them.)

After viewing a preview of your DNA ethnicity chart, you can place an order that can be printed on archival Professional Paper or Artist’s Grade Canvas. Following Family ChartMasters’ proven track record of superior service, the beautiful print will arrive rolled in a tube and ready to frame. You can also order PDF downloads for immediate delivery to an email inbox. Pricing starts at $19.95.

(Will your chart come in time for Father’s Day? According to the Family ChartMasters website, orders take 24-48 hours to prepare, and regular shipping takes 2-3 days within the U.S. Faster shipping options are available for an additional charge. If in doubt, order the PDF download.)

These DNA ethnicity charts are perhaps the easiest heritage display you’ll ever make! They also take advantage of the current widespread interest in DNA, making a conversation about your heritage more meaningful and appealing even with those who have never expressed interest in your heritage. Click here to see how to order your DNA ethnicity chart.

DNA ethnicity chartMore than DNA charts: Family ChartMasters is an award-winning genealogy chart printing and design service. It is also the official printing service for most worldwide genealogy software, database, and research companies. Family ChartMasters prints any style of family history chart from any kind of file. They offer oversized draft-quality family reunion charts as well as custom decorative designs.

Click below to read more about….

Getting your DNA tested (or someone else’s)

Creating beautiful and unique heritage displays

How to Create a Coloring Book for Family History

create a coloring bookColoring books are all the rage for adults and kids. Let this project and these free online tools inspire you to create a coloring book to celebrate your heritage.

Last Christmas, my mom Cheryl McClellan created a coloring book for our extended family out of family artwork. She requested copies of line drawings from every willing relative, especially her grandchildren (ages 3-20). Then she added her own childhood artwork, some of mine, and some of her mother’s, so four generations are represented.

create a coloring book

The flowers on the left, originally painted by my grandma, wasn’t as easily colored because of all the dark areas. My mom’s childhood drawing and my son’s, on the right, both made very “colorable” images.

Then she simply photocopied each page to make it into a coloring page. She experimented with the black-and-white settings until she got the best quality reproductions for coloring.

The grandchildren’s artwork came out the best because they created images meant to be colored (with lots of lines and spaces and no shading). The older artwork reproduced with varying degrees of success. But all were fun to include. She chose not to bind the completed book, so the pages would be easier to color, but instead put each person’s collection of coloring pages in large envelopes.

More tools and ideas: Create a coloring book

To create your own family coloring book, gather family photos (or artwork) from your family archive that would be interesting to color. Consider pictures of relatives, homes, heirlooms, or other objects of significance to your current family life or your family history. The best images will have plenty of contrast in them (lights and darks).

Choose your favorite free online photo editing tool, if you have one. Examples include Pixlr.com and Snapstouch.com. I chose Snapstouch because it’s super easy. Here are the instructions on Snapstouch:

1. From the home page, select which final visual effect you prefer: I chose Sketch. (Depending on the photo and the desired effect, you might also choose Drawing or Outline.)

2. Choose your image file from your computer.

3. Select additional options, as shown here. (In Sketch mode, you can choose a darker pencil sketch and faces to be refined).

4. Click UPLOAD. Wait for the file to upload to the site.

5. After the upload is complete, you’ll see the option to click SKETCH. Click and wait for a moment.

6. If the final image is not to your liking, play with the options (you don’t need to re-upload the photo to do this). OR switch to a different visual effect and experiment.

7. Click DOWNLOAD when you’ve got the image you want.

Another Awesome Option: Use our link to get a digital download of the the current issue of Family Tree Magazine and in it you will find an article by Lisa Alzo called “Attention Grabbers.” One of her projects is a family coloring book. Included in the article is a full page of instructions for converting images to coloring pages in PaintShop Pro, Photoshop Elements or other photo editing software.

 

The priceless gift my daughter gave me at Rootstech – Heritage Jewelry

Did you know you can memorialize a loved one’s handwriting in a piece of custom jewelry? Check out this very special piece of heritage jewelry. bracelet

Last week I celebrated my birthday at RootsTech 2016. What a party! A highlight was an impromptu birthday serenade by the audience after my Think Tank lecture at the Genealogy Gems booth.

Something I’ll also never forget was receiving this birthday gift from my daughter Lacey. It’s a bracelet that says “Mother” in handwriting script. Lacey asked me, “do you recognize the handwriting?”

Recognize the handwriting? What did she mean? As I gave it a closer look, I did indeed recognize it. It was my beloved Grandma Burkett’s handwriting. I would know it anywhere.

My Grandma Burkett is so special to me. She loved me with all her heart and I always knew it. She also introduced me to family history, as I explain in the RootsTech video clip below.

Yes, I know that handwriting on my bracelet well, and it is a tender memory to wear it. Talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve–this is like wearing my heart around my wrist.

Lacey says it was really easy to order this custom heirloom piece, and she loves it because “no one else will ever have the same one!” Here are Lacey’s tips for ordering something like it:

1. “Plan ahead, as most of the vendors who create these types of jewelry take at least 4 weeks. I used Monogrammed Necklaces, an Etsy.com vendor.

2. In the case of the bracelet, the handwriting piece was included in the total length of the bracelet, but the writing lays flat instead of curving with your wrist so it actually shortens the length of the chain. So I would suggest ordering an inch or two longer than you need.

3. Provide them with the actual word(s) you want written. If you have more than one word, they will be squished together to be one continuous piece. (You might be able to get them written on two lines, but again the top and bottom would be squished together.)

4. Read reviews before ordering. Make sure people aren’t saying the piece breaks easily or feels low-quality. Look at examples of the jewelry to get an idea of what kind of sample you want to select. I researched several vendors before picking this one. This one also came ready to go in a pretty box, which was a nice touch. They can also engrave pendants with handwriting, which is great if you want the words with spaces between or longer writings.”

family heirlooms

This isn’t the first piece of jewelry I’ve worn in honor of Grandma Burkett. I’ve blogged in the past about turning one of her earrings into a ponytail holder, which is quite a conversation piece whenever I wear it. Click here to read that post.

Find more heritage jewelry, family history craft and display ideas on the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards. Have you made or purchased something special yourself? We’d love to hear about it!

Deck the Halls with Family Photos: Family History Wreath

wreath redA few years ago, I created a video series that demonstrates how to make a family history wreath (watch below). I was reminded of that series this year when I received a nice email from Genealogy Gems Premium member Mary Ann. She sent in these photos of wreaths she made after finding my instructions through the Genealogy Gems podcast (episode 32).

wreath silverHer female cousins have a tradition of exchanging gifts at Thanksgiving, she says. She made the red wreath for that exchange two years ago. “I made the silver one for my mom’s birthday,” she adds.  “The photos on the wreaths are of my grandparents and great-grandparents.”

These are beautiful wreaths and I’m so pleased Mary Ann shared them with us! Below is the four-part video series I created with instructions on how to make these. Happy heritage crafting!


Find more beautiful family history displays and crafts on the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards. We have boards for family history displays, crafts, quilts, heritage scrapbooking, ideas for family history activities with kids and more! Will you take a second and share this post (or one of our Pinterest pins) with someone who would just love it?

Tis’ the Season: Make a Family Calendar

family calendarWhether for personal use or a family holiday gift, it’s a great time of year to make a family calendar. We heard from Genealogy Gems Premium member Carol, who shared her experience making calendars to share with her family. She actually sells hers her to relatives for the cost of printing.

genealogy gems podcast mailbox“In 2005, I made my first calendar. The first one was black and white, with one or more old photos on the pages facing each month. I have every family member’s birthday on the calendar. I made a bunch of copies and sold them to family members for $5 each, which is about what it cost me to print them.

“Several years ago I got into digital scrapbooking. I nag family members all year long, but especially in September and October, to send me photos of various occasions – weddings, new babies, graduations, birthdays, family vacations, anything at all with family members in the photos. Last year was probably the first time I actually had TOO MANY photos to use. I think I’m getting better at nagging!

“I now do digital scrapbooking pages to display my collected photos. And I still put every family member’s birthday on the calendar. I’ve been having them printed at my nearby UPS store for several years now. They do such a great job and some of the same people have been doing it for so long that I don’t even need to see a proof before ordering my 35 calendars. I usually have to get a few more printed after Thanksgiving, too. So now my family can get a color spiral-bound calendar for $10 and they go like hotcakes.”

email_envelope_800_clrFind more ideas for heritage-themed crafts and displays (which make great gifts) on our Pinterest boards: Family History Crafts, Legacy Displays and Heritage Scrapbooking. Or share yours with us! We love hearing from you.

Easy Project to Write Your Family History: Publish a Q&A

Family history writing project family history interview write your family historyThis 3-step project will help you capture a relative’s life story in plenty of time for the holidays!

Reconstructing the life stories of our ancestors can sometimes feel like squeezing water from a stone. By comparison, gathering the life stories of the living can be like turning on a tap. All you have to do is direct and catch the flow.

Turn your family history interviews into a beautiful book–just in time for holiday sharing–with this three-step project. Simplify it or doll it up, depending on your time, talents and what you have to work with. Just do it! Write your family history! Here’s the basic outline:

1. Record an interview. Invite a relative to chat with you about his or her life stories. Decide together what the relative WANTS to talk about: childhood memories? Stories about a certain loved one or a particular time period? A little of everything? Consider using a list of life story questions or memory prompts like those you can find in my book, My Life & Times: A Guided Journal for Collecting Your Stories.

Before you begin, be clear that your goal is to write these stories up for the family. Meet in person, over the phone or by Skype (click here to learn how to record a Skype conversation). With permission, record the conversation. Ask plenty of follow-up questions, but otherwise keep your own comments to a minimum. For more interviewing tips, listen to this free Family History Made Easy podcast episode.

2. Transcribe the interview. After you’ve finished your chat, go back and type up the interview. Give yourself plenty of time: this takes longer than you think. Consider asking a fast-typing relative to help or hire a transcription service (here’s one option). Type things just as you hear them, incomplete sentences and all. Don’t include anything your loved one wants to keep “off the record.”

3. Print the transcript. Save an unedited copy of the typescript in your permanent files. Edit it a little to make it “reader-friendly” if you want to. Print it out. Add any extras, like family tree charts or copies of photos. Bind it however you prefer. (Genealogy Gems Premium website members can check out Lisa’s 3-part Premium podcast series on self-publishing: episodes 52-54). Share copies with loved ones: they make great holiday gifts.

write your family history riser sample pageHere’s a page from a sample project I did. It’s a simple stapled book, printed in landscape (sideways) format on regular-sized paper. I left the narrative in the format of a simple Q&A, just like it was spoken. I did edit slightly for clarity and flow. My questions are in italics and the speakers are identified (I was interviewing a husband and wife together). I added a few photos.

I shared copies of this book with every family member as holiday gifts a few years ago. Now everyone has a special legacy gift featuring this couple: their children, their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren.

coupon code writers workshop fall 2015 write your family historyNow is the time for you to write a portion of your family history, and I’m here to help and support you. I will be conducting a fun and productive one-week workshop called the Genealogist’s Essential Writing Workshop at Family Tree University starting October 19. Genealogy Gems has made a very special discount arrangement just for YOU–our gems: $10 off the class with our exclusive coupon code GEMSWRITING. You can do this and I’m here to help!

Additional Family History Writing Resources from Genealogy Gems

How to Reconstruct Early Childhood Memories and Stories

Tell Your Ancestor’s Story with Social History

How to Save Videos in Evernote (like family history interviews)

Family Photo Charm Bracelet: Heritage Jewelry Idea

family photo braceletRecently we received this picture of a photo charm bracelet made by Genealogy Gems Premium member Mary Ann. We loved it so much we thought we’d share it with everyone (with her permission, of course).

“I got the idea from one of the vendors you had spoken about on one of your podcasts, someone I think you saw in an exhibit hall perhaps and gave their web site link.” She made a bracelet previously that she gave away for a family gift exchange. Shown here is a bracelet she made recently for a relative after her father died of cancer. “I went to…the funeral and took this bracelet to her.  It includes the six photos on the original…bracelet plus photos of her mom and dad.”

What a sweet gift to give someone after losing a loved one! It would also make a beautiful gift for any occasion–including a gift you give yourself.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store.

A custom family history bracelet like this is available for purchase through the Genealogy Gems store.

The good news is that you don’t even have to make a bracelet like this yourself. The inspiration piece Mary Ann mentioned was a discovery I made at a family history conference. The vendor makes beautiful custom heritage jewelry for others, with their family photos. I carry her bracelet in the Genealogy Gems store because I think it’s a gem.

Looking for more craft ideas like this one? Check out the Genealogy Gems Pinterest boards, where you’ll find displays, crafts, jewelry, home decor, heritage scrapbooking ideas, quilts and more.

A Family History Photo Display with Mementos: What Would Yours Look Like?

mary ann photo trayRecently, Genealogy Gems Premium member Mary Ann shared some beautiful family history crafts with us. One is this exquisite family history photo display she made for a cousins’ gift exchange. It’s a collage concept that incorporates pictures with mementos and meaningful embellishments, but in a beautifully orderly fashion.

“This was so easy to make,” Mary Ann wrote. “The hardest part was rounding up the photos I wanted to use, then sizing them to fit the appropriate little openings. I use Photoshop Elements for my photos and digital scrapbooking so I cropped and sized the photos there, put them all into one larger page so I could print all at once, printed a draft on printer paper to make sure the photos were the correct size then printed my good version on photo paper.

“When I made the photo tray a few years ago, I found the tray in my local Archiver’s scrapbooking store. Archiver’s has since closed their retail stores but they sell online. I was looking at their site last night and found the same item for sale that I used in my project. Here is the link to the item.

“I cut out my photos, some of which filled the entire little opening, but if they didn’t, I added some scrapbook paper as a background to those. The “generations” and “ancestry” tags, as well as the ovals, flowers and key, are all scrapbooking embellishments. I used little pieces of ribbon under the outhouse photo, as a bow on the key and to cover the “handle” of the tray. I had some leftover lace I used to trim the bottom of the box. I copied a piece of a census record that showed my grandparents’ names and some of my aunts and uncles.  I used acid-free double sided tape made for scrapbooking to attach it all.  And I found the little frame to put on my grandfather’s photo.”

Mary Ann also hopes to create a photo tray like this for her son’s school photos (she saw the idea online) but hasn’t gotten to it yet. But she got a lot of mileage out of the one she did finish. “I made a total of 6 of these, all alike, and gave the remainders later as Christmas gifts to my mom, an aunt and a couple cousins,” she tells us. “And I was even clever enough to keep on for myself.  My aunt told me she cried when she opened it and saw what it was.”

I remember little display trays like this being popular in the 1970s or 1980s, too. I’ve seen them at resale and antique shops, and tucked away in friends’ basements and attics. You may be able to find vintage trays that are less-expensive than the new ones. This inspiring idea made me wonder what mementos, tiny memorabilia, embellishments and even photocopied genealogy records I would tuck into my own version of this project.

large_thumb_tack_800_16520We’ve got more beautiful ideas like this on our Pinterest boards! Check them out: Family History Craft Projects, Legacy Displays and Heritage Scrapbooking for Family History.

 

A New Heritage Quilt From Old Family Fabrics

wedding quilt dress“I am a quilter and love doing special pieces that tell our family history at the same time. I think you would enjoy [this] story and the pictures [that go with it].”

This note recently came from Genealogy Gems listener Sheri Lesh. She wrote in about a quilt she created for her father’s 80th birthday celebration. It was a very special quilt, made from pieces of old family clothing and even a wool jacket and wedding dress.

Well, Sheri, I thoroughly enjoyed your story and your unique, beautiful quilt (which you can click to see below). Heritage quilts created from family clothing items are so special!

I especially loved  Sheri’s idea for her grandmother’s wedding dress. Instead of cutting into pieces for the quilt, which would have destroyed a beautiful dress with a fabulously-preserved lace collar, she tacked the entire dress to the back of the quilt! Then she labeled it so cleverly, so future generations will know exactly who this dress belonged to and when it was worn.

Click here to go to Sheri’s blog and learn more about this beautiful, inspiring quilt. If you like old quilts, click here for my own Genealogy Gems story about heritage quilts in my family. You’ll see the shownotes for a free podcast episode along with a short YouTube video to watch. As I say in that post, “Women may not have had a lot of time to use the power of the pen to document history, but they did have some mighty powerful sewing needles!”