Friday, September 28, 2012

Using Photoshop to Create Timeless Heirlooms: Framed Photo with Keywords and Grandpa's Signature. 7 Easy Steps.

I will teach you how to use Photoshop to create Timeless Heirlooms IN 7 EASY STEPS:


  1. A scanned or copied photo of a family member or ancestor (never use original photos)
  2. Some Keyword facts about your family member or ancestor (see image for examples)
  3. Photoshop, (you can download a free trial here).
Here's a framed  photo of my Grandpa, William Emry Burnes, using keywords to portray the man he was.  After doing research and asking grandma questions, I learned so much about him. So with the gathered information, I decided NOT to write a novel, instead I would write "keywords" to portray his character and attributes.  My goal was to keep the interest of my reader and in 10 seconds or less, they would know who my grandpa was. For the finishing touch, I wanted to add something personal; his signature, which I happened to find on his fishing license. So I scanned it, and using Photoshop, I pieced it all together. This has probably been my favorite Family History Project yet!!

I promise this is EASY, and if you don't have Photoshop, you can download a free trial 

My Grandpa was a Mechanic and a Sheriff, so I thought these accessories worked perfectly..
I found the cute sheriff's car for $20 and the mechanic sign for $10 both at Hobby Lobby.

My Grandpa's signature was the the perfect touch to complete this heirloom. 
The frame was 50% off $28, so I paid $14 at Hobby Lobby.
YOU WANT THIS NOW DON'T YOU? Well I am here to teach you. 

STEP 1: Open Photoshop, and create a new file (Click on "File" then "New")
I named the file and set the parameters to this below: 

STEP 2: Open your favorite background image (or use this one below) and drag or copy the background into the current file. I will share this famous background with you, here you go: (Click on image to enlarge then right mouse click and "save image as").

IMPORTANT:  STAY AT LEAST 1/8 OF AN INCH AWAY FROM ALL EDGES FOR FRAMING. (ctrl + R, gives you the ruler for guidelines . If you don't plan on framing, take your image to the edge of your design.

 Open the image you would like to use of your family member or ancestor (do not drag or copy it into your file yet).  Click on the "POLYGON LASSO" Tool (looks like this):

Start using the polygon lasso tool by LEFT MOUSE 
clicking in small areas around the image until you have come completely around to where to started from and do one last left mouse click. You'll now see little dancing lines, click on the "DRAG" tool, and drag it into your file.
Drag tool will look like this:

Here's the result:

STEP 5:  Fix the jagged edges and color.  As you can see, there were a few rough edges (especially around the head), so with a fine eraser brush of 5 pixels (with soft edges), erase those jagged edges. ( click on the icon that looks like an eraser on the Left side). 

Fix the color: As you can see it's very yellow, so I added a "COOLING FILTER" to this this by clicking on "IMAGE" (at the very top) then "ADJUSTMENTS" then "PHOTO FILTER" then "COOLING FILTER 80" and set it to 25% (any more than that, will make the image too blue). Then I brightened and added more contrast until it looked like this.
NOTE: If your original image is too blue add a warming filter instead.

Here's the result from fixing the color and jagged edges: 

  Add the text. Click on the "Text" Tool (on the left) It looks like a capitol "T" and add the KEYWORDS that explain your family member. I used words like: Sheriff - 5'7" - Christian - Napa, CA - Navy WWI, and so on. Do as many or little words that you would like. Remember save some room on the bottom for the signature. If you don't have a signature to add, make your words equally spaced from the top.

After you've added the words, It should look like this:

  Add the signature. I opened a scanned copy of my grandpa's signature and using the "POLYGON LASSO TOOL" from before, I cut around his signature and dragged it into the file.

After you've added the signature, It should look like this:
Send your digital creation off to be printed. I used Costco because it was only 39 cents (.42 with tax) for a 5x7 print and it only took 1 hour.

Now for the final touch; the frame. Get a 5x7 frame (mine is from Hobby Lobby $14) and frame your AMAZING HEIRLOOM.

WA-LA, YOUR DONE!!  Notice how the 1/8th inch border was the perfect amount for framing.

Total Cost: $14.42 (Includes frame and 5x7 print)
Total Time: 25-45 minutes

Don't have the time to do this?
The Teach Me Genealogy Design Team can create this for YOU for only $20
(high resolution jpg image w/ print release)

send an email to with your image and keywords.
"Connect The Dots"

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top 10 Genealogy Websites - From a Genealogist who knows

  1.  -  Teach Me Genealogy: A website/blog by a Genealogist, who shares her Free printables, tips, stories, recommendations and more. This site is FREE.
  2.  -  Ancestry: Grow your family tree, link up with other family members, access historical documents, pictures, audio clips, bio’s and more. 14 day trial, then $12.95/month for US membership.
  3.  -  Find A Grave: A website containing over 80 million online memorials from cemeteries in the World. This site is FREE.
  4.  -  Family Search: A website where you can index, search historical documents and census records, and search other countries records. This site is FREE
  5.  -  Google: Yes, the beloved Google is on this list. The mastermind of the internet contains more genealogical information than we could possibly imagine. Give it a try! This site is FREE.
  6. - Roots Web: The largest genealogical message board on the web. Before there was Ancestry, Archives and One Great Family, there was Roots Web. Now owned by ancestry, but the message board is still free to access.
  7.  -  Archives: This site offers a vast collection of databases for researching all of the important events of your ancestors' lives. 7 day trial, then $39.95 a year.
  8.  -  US Genealogical Website: This website has detailed genealogical information for every state in the country. Click on the state you want to search, and the information is limitless. This site is FREE
  9. w  -  One Great Family: One Great Family has the world's largest family tree with over 200 million unique family tree records. Your tree is monitored for matches 24-hours a day, so your tree is constantly growing. 7 day trial, then $79.95 a year.
  10. -  House of Names: This is a retail site for Surname Origin, Last Name Origin, Family Coat of Arms, Family Shields and Family Crests prints. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Teach Me Genealogy Facebook Page - "Like" it!!

There's an exclusive offer going on at Teach Me Genealogy Facebook page! Just tonight, we released a "Family Now & Family History Bundle" to all our fans. Click here to "LIKE" Teach Me Genealogy Facebook page and you will have instant access to this bundle. 

"Connect The Dots".
-Sarah :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Our Family" Keepsake Album Giveaway - Enter to Win!

ENTER TO WIN: "OUR FAMILY" Keepsake & Family History Album.
Hardcover - 90 Pages - 10 x 9.8 - More Info Below
Shipped to you for FREE!

It's easy and fun! Here's how to enter:

Click on the +1, +2, +3 options below on the Raffle-copter, to enter.

+1 means raffle-copter puts your name in 1 time if you do the following:
Follow our Facebook Page at: 

+2 means, raffle-copter puts your name in 2 times when you leave a comment below:
Leave a comment about why your heritage is special to you.

+3 means, raffle-copter puts your name in 3 times, if you tweet about this giveaway on Twitter @tmgenealogy

If you do all 3, your name gets entered 6 times; its' that easy.
Do it Once a day!!

Have FUN!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

More info about "OUR FAMILY" Album:

A family record is more than of book of names, dates, and places. It is about the people who fill its pages—those whose life experiences create the story of a family, which can be passed down from generation to generation. Our Family History brings you a beautifully appointed space to capture the who, what, where, and when of your family and your ancestors—from birth of a great, great grandparent to the birth of the newest baby. This keepsake album, with ribbon closure, provides an opportunity to relay a firsthand account of your life in addition to the oral family history that is previously unrecorded; headings and prompts make it easy to record important thoughts and memories. You’ll also find sturdy, decorative photo frames, which are built into the album to feature heirloom photographs and pockets to store mementos from landmark events. A family tree is included to give a visual presentation of your ancestral background.

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Hardcover: 90 pages
  • Publisher: Readers Digest; Spi edition (April 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 9.8 x 1 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 
Chronicle for your family…
  • Detailed information on past generations
  • Work and community life
  • Family vacations
  • Collections and heirlooms
  • Favorite memories
  • Words of inspiration for future generations 
This beautifully designed album, filled with your own personal reflections, will secure your family legacy and inform your family for years to come.

Monday, September 17, 2012

10 Ways to Use Your Camera for Family History - Nikon or Canon? Which is the best?

My history with cameras started 21 years ago, back in the eighth grade, when my pictures were blurry but oh so funny. Let's take a walk down memory lane as I showcase "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" of cameras. Which ones past the test, and which ones failed. I will grade each one. Then, I will share my 10 ways to use your camera for Family History.

In 1991, my passion for photography began as an eighth grader; the year of "my first boyfriend" and my 110 film camera that cost $10 at the local grocery store. Lot's of pictures were taken this year with my glamorous pink camera:

Grade: D
In 1993 (10th grade) I was gifted my second camera; the Canon Sure Shot 35mm, with the red-eye reduction button. $150. After owning a cheapo camera, before this one, I pretty much fell in love with the quality of pictures from this camera.
Grade: B+
In 1995 (12th grade) I saved $175 and upgraded to an "oldie but goodie", the Pentax K-1000. Okay, no comparison with any other camera, I ever owned. The photos were so vibrant, and crisp but at the cost of having to learn all about shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field and much, much more. My first love!
Grade: A-

In 1997, my next camera was a gift from my husband, one year after we were married; it was the Nikon 8008s. It came with 2 lenses, (a 18-200mm telephoto lens, and a 35mm lens). Pretty much the ultimate upgrade, and at $900 used, from Allens Camera, this was quite the dream camera for a newlywed armature photographer. Using this camera to capture all those moments of my children, was the most priceless possession I could have ever owned. I hung onto this one for many years.
Grade: A

In 2002, I purchased my first digital camera; the Nikon Cool Pix with a 200mm zoom lens, 3.1 mega pixel. Definitely not the quality of my Nikon, but it was smaller and I no longer had to develop film anymore. So that was a huge plus.
Grade: B+

In 2007, my husband bought me the digital SLR Nikon D40x 10.2 mega pixels (from Costco). This bundle included; the camera, a camera bag, 2 stock lenses, and lots of extras. Despite the fact that many think this camera is "outdated", I still LOVE it!! Mostly, because of the portrait lens that I purchased a few years ago;  Nikkor AF-S, f/1.8, 50mm. I had no idea a lens could make such a difference in my photos. With the new lens and the professional photography boot-camps that I've taken, I feel It has taken me to the level where I want to be. I use this camera on a daily basis, and I am soo happy with it.
Grade: A

For my future camera, I am contemplating between a few, the Nikon D7000 Digital SLR Camera Body - 25468 (Google Affiliate Ad)

and the Nikon D5100 16.2MP Digital SLR Value Bundle - Digital SLR Cameras (Google Affiliate Ad)

However, my husband has done his "research" and thinks I should get the Canon EOS 7D 18.0MP Digital SLR Camera with EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (Google Affiliate Ad)

The Brand of camera that gets the best grade from me is... Nikon!!
So, which camera I should choose? Just leave a comment below.

So Why am I talking about cameras on a Genealogy site? Here's why:
10 Ways to Use Your Camera For Family History:

  1. Photographing your children or grandchildren right now.
  2. Photographing your home (each room inside, plus front and backyard).
  3. Photographing landmarks in your current city. (Schools, Museums, Theaters, Churches)
  4. Photographing landmarks where you grew up. (Schools, Museums, Theaters, Churches)
  5. Photographing the schools you attended while growing up. 
  6. Photographing old Pictures (Instead of scanning. This is easier, faster, and better quality)
  7. Photographing Headstones of your ancestors, then adding them to
  8. Photographing old family memorabilia (clothes, books, instruments, guns, jewelry, uniforms, etc.)
  9. Photographing Family Historical Sites (ancestors homes, place or work, schools)
  10. Photographing family historical documents (Vital Records, Certificates, Bank info, Taxes, Census Records, Military Cards, Travel, etc.)
So, whether you're using a professional camera, or your cell phone camera, the time to start photographing and preserving those memories is now!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

How To Use Facebook To Find Living Relatives

Facebook isn't just for Social Networking! In fact, this powerful platform with more than 900 million users has helped me to connect with many people, including distant cousins. Yes, Facebook is awesome for more than one reason!!

As I began on my family history adventure, I was learning more about my heritage than I could ever imagine. After only one year of extensive research, I traced my lineage back 7 generations, which was quite the conquest, considering that I didn't know my paternal grandfather (father's, father), or anything about him. After discovering that my Great, Great, Great Grandparents, George Washington Burnes & Sarah Walker Burnes had settled in Hope, Indiana I was anxious to get out there. So, I booked a flight to Indianapolis, Indiana and left on May 18, 2007. After a successful trip of meeting family and transcribing headstones, my knowledge of my heritage had increased, and I felt closer to my ancestors.

Many of my siblings have joined Facebook, but a few have not embraced the Facebook phenomenon. So I did a search for my brother JAMES BURNES, and the first person to show up was someone who resembled my brother, with the same name and spelling, but lived over 2,000 miles away; in Indianapolis, Indiana. The city he lived in was a clue that we could be related, so I wrote him a message and guess what I found out?

Here's the screenshot from our first conversation on Facebook:

As you can see, from our conversation above, we discovered we are 4th cousins, which means we share the same Great, Great, Great Grandfather; George Washington Burnes. From our connection, we have acquired many photographs and details about our ancestors that we never knew existed. More importantly, we have "CONNECTED THE DOTS" and our family continues to grow.

Give it a try!!
Start searching for distant cousins on Facebook!!

Find more BURNES info at

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11/2001 - Timeline & Facts

Photo Credit:

I remember the day of September 11th, 2001 very well. My husband and I were both home that day when chaos erupted in America. It was in the morning when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, when we received a call from my mother in law telling us to turn on the news. As I watched the replays of flight 11 flying into the North World Trade Center, and 3 more hijacked airplanes,  it was like a bad dream. I realized right then, that I should never take my freedom for granted and to thank God everyday for the many blessings we have because we live in a free country. I pray that our Government will always be led by God to protect the American people. I am proud to be an American!!

9/11 Timeline & Facts:
8:20 AM: (est.):  Air traffic controllers suspect Flight 11 has been hijacked. [NY Times, 9/15/01,]

8:40 AM:
NORAD is notified of hijacking. [NY Times, 10/16/01, 8:38 AM Washington Post, 9/15/01]

8:46 AM:
Flight 11 crashes into the WTC (World Trade Center) north tower. [approximately 26 minutes after controllers lost contact][New York Times, 9/12/01]

8:46 AM: President Bush later states, "I was sitting outside the classroom and I saw an airplane hit the tower. The TV was on." [CNN, 12/4/01] "When we walked into the classroom, I had seen this plane fly into the first building." [White House, 1/5/02There was no live coverage of the first crash on TV and President Bush was in a classroom reading with children at the time of the second crash. How could he possibly have seen an airplane thit the tower?

8:52 AM:
 Two F-15s take off from Otis Air Force Base. [Washington Post, 9/15/01] They go after Flight 175. Major General Paul Weaver, director of the Air National Guard, states "the pilots flew like a scalded ape, topping 500 mph but were unable to catch up to the airliner. We had a nine-minute window, and in excess of 100 miles to intercept 175,'' he said. ''There was just literally no way.'' [Dallas Morning News, 9/15/01] F-15'sfly at up to 2.5 times the speed of sound [1875 mph or 30+ miles a minute or 270+ miles in nine minutes] and are designed for low-altitude, high-speed, precision attacks. [BBC]

8:56 AM: 
By this time, it is evident that Flight 77 is lost. The FAA, already in contact with the Pentagon about the two hijackings out of Boston, reportedly doesn't notify NORAD of this until 9:24, 28 minutes later. [see 9:10 AM for comparisonNew York Times, 10/16/01]

9:03 AM: 
Flight 175 crashes into the south WTC tower. [23 minutes after NORAD notified, 43 minutes after air traffic control lost contact with pilots][New York Times, 9/12/01CNN, 9/12/01]

9:10 AM: 
Major General Paul Weaver states Flight 77 came back on the (radar) scope at 9:10 in West Virginia. [Dallas Morning News, 9/15/01] Another report states the military was notified of Flight 77 several minutes after 9:03. [Washington Post, 9/15/01]

9:24 AM 
[? - see above]: The FAA, who 28 minutes earlier had discovered Flight 77 off course and heading east over West Virginia, reportedly notifies NORAD. A Pentagon spokesman says, "The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way." [Newsday, 9/23/01New York Times, 10/16/01] Yet since the first crash, military officials in a Pentagon command center were urgently talking to law enforcement and air traffic control officials about what to do. [New York Times, 9/15/01]

9:28 AM: 
Air traffic control learns that Flight 93 has been hijacked. [MSNBC, 7/30/02]

9:38 AM: 
Flight 77 crashes into the Pentagon. [42 minutes or more after contact was lost, one hour after NORAD notification of first hijacking][New York Times, 10/16/01, 9:43 CNN, 9/12/01]

9:59 AM: 
The south tower of the World Trade Center collapses. [New York Times, 9/12/01]

10:10 AM: 
Flight 93 crashes in Pennsylvania. [42 minutes after contact was lost, 90 minutes after NORAD notification of first hijacking. What happened to sophisticated military radar systems and jet fighter scramble procedures?] [CNN, 9/12/02]

10:28 AM: 
The World Trade Center north tower collapses. [CNN, 9/12/01NY Times, 9/12/01]

5:20 PM: 
WTC building 7 collapses. [CNN, 9/12/01] Though the media claims fires brought the building down, the building's owner Larry Silverstein later recounts the story of the collapse of this 47-story skyscraper in a PBS documentary America Rebuilds, "I remember getting a call from the fire department commander. ... I said ... maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it. And they made that decision to pull, and then we watched the building collapse." Over 1,500 architects and engineers later claim that contrary to the U.S. government's official story, it must have been controlled demolition. [PBS Documentary, 2nd PBS Documentarymore]

Sept 11, 2001: 
Did the Air Force send up planes after the hijacked aircraft? The Air Force won't say. It says they keep about 20 F-15 and F-16 fighters on duty with Air National Guards along the nation's coastline, ready to inspect unknown aircraft entering U.S. airspace. "We can scramble and be airborne in a matter of minutes," said an Air Force spokesperson. Some airline pilots are wondering whether the FAA did enough to try to prevent the crashes. [Wall Street Journal, 09/14/01]

Sept 11, 2001: 
Six air traffic controllers who dealt with two of the hijacked airliners make a tape recording describing the events, but the tape is later destroyed by a supervisor without anyone making a transcript or even listening to it. [Washington Post, 5/6/04New York Times, 5/6/04]

Sept 11, 2001: 
Hours after the attacks, a "shadow government" is formed. Key congressional leaders say they didn't know President Bush had established this government-in-waiting. Some Congressmen state the administration should have conferred about its plans. [CBS, 3/2/02Washington Post, 3/2/02more]

Sept 11, 2001:
 A National Public Radio correspondent states: "I spoke with Congressman Ike Skelton who said that just recently the director of the CIA warned that there could be an attack - an imminent attack - on the United States of this nature. So this is not entirely unexpected." [NPR, 9/11/01]

Sources:, PBS Documentary, Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, Dallas Morning News

Sunday, September 09, 2012

GEDCOM = GEnealogical Data COMmunication

If you are just beginning your family history, there are words that might be foreign to you, like GEDCOM. Which stands for GEnealogical Data COMmunication. It was created for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software. GEDCOM was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as an aid to genealogical research. 

As you get started with your family history, I recommend storing your genealogy on a genealogical software called PAF5. It's FREE, and it allows you to add the names, dates and places of all your family members and ancestors, then export and import GEDCOM files to,, or other genealogical websites or software. PAF5 also allows you to print reports, like: 
  • Descendant List
  • Ancestor List
  • Modified Register
  • Pedigree Charts (4,5 or 6 Generations)
  • Family Group Record
  • Individual Summary
  • Custom Lists
  • Scrapbook
  • Calendar
I currently use PAF5 as my main Genealogical Software. There are so many others that are just as good, but I am really attached to this one because it's easy to use and it's free. Once you have added your family info into the software, go to the top left and click on FILE, then PRINT REPORTS, and you will see all the fun stuff you can print. Here is a snapshot of my 5 Generation family tree using PAF5.
You can download your FREE PAF5 software here >>
Set a goal this week to get your first 3 generations added into the software. Have Fun!!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Top 7 Free Family History Apps for iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, or Android

If you're just getting started with your family history or you're a "Rock Star Genealogist", many don't know about these free apps out there. So, I wanted to share my Top 7 FREE Family History Apps for your iPad or iPhone, and YES, I use these and love them all!!  

My TOP 7 FREE Family History Apps for iPhone & iPad:

#1: Ancestry App by: - Build, update, and show off your  family tree. I use this to retrieve and build my family tree plus get quick access information to ancestors.

#2 RootsMagic: by RootsMagic - 
Your family tree at your fingertips! Now you can easily take and show off your family history with you wherever you go. RootsMagic lets you carry your genealogy on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch!

#3 Billion Graves - by
 Take photos of the headstones in your local cemetery with your iPhone/Android. Then upload and transcribe. Then, search for your ancestors.

#4 History Today - by Joe Sriver Education :   is a stylish calendar that lets you view Birthdays, deaths, historical events, quotes and more. Share them via Facebook, Twitter & email.

#5 ShoeBox - by 1000memories:
 Is the fastest way to scan your old paper photos and share them with family and friends. As featured by Oprah Magazine, USA Today, Wired, Forbes, GOOD, and the Associated Press.

#6  Family History and Genealogy records  - by Adv Webbing:  How much do you really know about your family name? Discover the meaning and origin of your Last Name. FREE app for iPhone and iPad.

#7 Instagram - by Burbn: 80 million users love Instagram! It's a free, fun, and simple way to make and share gorgeous photos on your iPhone.

Note: Originally, there were two apps on this list that are no longer here; Family Search Indexing and On This Day.  The Family Search Indexing app no longer exists, and On This Day has started to charge a fee. So, the updated list is above; and I know you'll love them!!

So use these FREE Family History apps to discover a new story...your story!!! 

Keep connecting the dots!! -Sarah