My RootsTech 2020 Competition Winner

I have been a bit quiet on the RootsTech front recently, partly owing to my trip to New Zealand earlier this month and recovering from my jet lag. I was presenting about my PhD research at the Australia and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine. I had a great time and met some amazing people.

The Pohutukawa tree, commonly called the New Zealand Christmas tree , is a coastal evergreen tree that produces a brilliant display of red (or occasionally orange, yellow[6] or white[7]) flowers made up of a mass of stamens.

Having been at home for a week, I then travelled north to Edinburgh in order to undertake some research for my PhD. I made an exciting discovery which will be finding its way into my thesis in due course. During the same week, I made a quick trip to Dundee for a supervision session. I then had some family time over the Christmas holidays. I am now back home, where I intend to stay for a few weeks before I am off on my travels again, this time to Salt Lake City.

During the Christmas period, I made a start on putting together a list of things I want to do at the Family History Library. I also spent some time following up on some new DNA matches and making contact with more “cousins”.

RootsTech Ambassadors have the opportunity to give away a 4-day pass. My competition is now closed and I am happy to announce the name of the winner: Melissa Wilson. Melissa is going to be able to come to RootsTech and watch her daughter Miyamoto Jensen present at Rootstech for the first time.  Miyamoto is going to be speaking on Polynesian Family History & Genealogy: A Beginner’s Guide on Thursday February 27th at 16.30. I think both mother and daughter are going to be having a really exciting time.

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador, I get free admission to the event, and some other benefits including lunch vouchers but I pay for my own travel, and accommodation.

RootsTech 2020 Competition Update – Still time to enter.

Last month I announced my competition to win a 4 day pass to RootsTech 2020 in Salt Lake City. The pass is worth $299 and gives you access to the Keynote and General sessions, and to over 300 classes. It also includes admission to the Expo Hall and Evening Events.

I can now announce that it is possible to exchange the 4 day pass for a virtual pass, so for those people who would like to come but cannot, this is a perfect opportunity to be able to join in with at least some of the events in Salt Lake City from the comfort of your own home.

Maybe you were unable to come to RootsTech London, but heard the buzz about it, or have seen all about RootsTech but never been able to attend. Enter my competition, you never know, you might be a lucky winner. Details of how to enter are below.

The prize does not include travel, accommodation or other things like food! Computer labs and the paid lunches etc. are not included in the prize. Even if you have already booked, you can get a refund if you are the lucky winner!

The competition could not be easier, all you need to do is to follow me on Twitter, and to send me an email confirming you have followed me to enquiries@recoveryourroots.co.uk . My Twitter name is @historylady2013

Closing date for the competition is midnight GMT December 20th .

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador, I get free admission to the event, and some other benefits including lunch vouchers but I pay for my own travel, and accommodation.

And now for a little seasonal something or other

Today, I am writing about something completely different. Sharing with you my “take” on the Christmas treat of mince pies. My husband and I love mince pies, but making them is something of a fiddly thing to do. As I am flying off to New Zealand, I thought I would make some mincemeat slice for him to enjoy whilst I am away.

If you are unfamiliar with mincemeat, it is a mixture of dried vine fruits  – raisins, sultanas currants, often includes grated apple, spices and suet. Vegetarian or beef suet is fine and it is possible to buy vegetarian mincemeat. Unlike jam, mincemeat needs to be cooked prior to eating. For anyone thinking “Yuk” at the idea of suet, once it has been cooked you can’t tell it is there. Being lazy, I buy a jar from the supermarket, and then subject it to my special treatment: Using a chopstick I make holes in the  contents of the jar and add some rum and brandy to the mix and leave it for a few hours to soak into the mincemeat.

I then make a quantity of all butter shortbread. The amount I make is dependent upon the size of the tin I am using. The proportions I use are 6:4:2 – 6 of a mixture of plain flour and a heaped tablespoon of cornflour: 4 of butter and 2 of caster sugar. (You can use sunflower margarine but is does not taste the same)

Today I used an 8 inch diameter loose bottomed cake tin, so I used all of a packet of butter (250 grams) So almost a pound of flour and cornflour mix, and almost 4 oz or 100g of caster sugar.

I start by weighing the flour and dicing the butter into small pieces. Place both in the food processor and whizz until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs, add the sugar and whizz again to mix.  When making a small quantity of shortbread, I would tip the mixture into a bowl and knead until the mixture forms a dough. The heat of my hands helps to melt the butter and mix with the flour. When making a large quantity however, I add some beaten egg to the food processor and whizz until it starts forming clumps. Just how much beaten egg is really a case of trial and error as you do not want the resulting dough to be sticky. Add about half of the beaten egg to initially and add a little more if needed. Once there are some reasonable clumps of dough, put it in the mixing bowl and knead until I have a form ball of shortbread.

Cut the ball roughly in half, on a little bit larger than the other.  Reform the smaller portion into a ball, and using your knuckles, form the ball of dough into a round, large enough to fit in the tin. Place in the tin and ensure that the dough completely covers the base of the tin.  Take the larger portion of dough, and repeat the process, making the dough very slightly larger than the tin.

Leaving a narrow margin, cover the shortbread base with a thick layer mincemeat. Cover with the other shortbread round and pinch the edge together very firmly.  Finally prick the surface lightly with a fork and bake in an oven at about 200 degrees C . Check after about 25 minutes, it may well need between 30 – 40 minutes to achieve a nice pale golden-brown colour, it really depends on your oven. When cooked, remove from the oven and dredge with caster sugar. Let it rest it in the tin until it is just warm to the touch.

Slide the slice out of the tin still on its base and place on a cooling rack until completely cold, and you can slice into portions. 

This is a very unhealthy take on mince pies, full of butter, sugar and alcohol but eaten in moderation, is a lovely pre-Christmas treat. It also makes a nice dessert complete with cream or ice cream.

Having just quality controlled a slice I am happy to report it is up to my usual standard 😉 .

RootsTech 2020 – Win 4 Day Pass!

The snow capped mountains near Salt Lake City

During the last few months I have been reporting on events leading up to RootsTech London and sharing with you the excitement of the event itself. Now it is time to look forward to Rootstech 2020 being held in Salt Lake City in February, where I will be speaking and again acting as an Ambassador for the event, helping to publicise what is happening, who the keynote speakers are, and of course the presentations being given by experienced genealogists from around the world, and information about the Expo area too.

I will be presenting 2 talks, Scottish Research – The Basics, and Scottish Research – More Unusual Resources. So if you have discovered some Scottish ancestors in your family tree, now is the time to learn how you can research them.

RootsTech Salt Lake City will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and the theme for the 2020 conference is “The Story of You.” The First Keynote Speaker was announced a few days ago. David Hume Kennerly, a name which will probably be unfamiliar to many UK readers. He is a Pulitzer Prize—winning White House photographer. His photos have appeared on more than 50 major magazine covers. He has photographed 10 U.S. presidents and served as a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine and was a contributing photographer for Time and Life magazines. American Photo magazine named Kennerly “One of the 100 Most Important People in Photography,” and Washingtonian magazine called Kennerly one of the 50 most important journalists in Washington, D.C.

If you would like to attend RootsTech, but are unsure, this is a great opportunity to come along for a day, to get a flavour of what it is all about. You can buy a one-day pass for half price by using the Code GENFRIEND – a fantastic saving. This offer closes on December 9th.

Or maybe you would like to come for the whole event – well here is a great opportunity to win a 4 day pass to RootsTech by entering my competition. Even if you have already booked, you can get a refund if you are the lucky winner!

The pass is worth $299 and gives you access to the Keynote and General sessions, and to over 300 classes. It also includes admission to the Expo Hall and Evening Events.

The prize does not include travel, accommodation or other things like food! Computer labs and the paid lunches etc. are not included in the prize.

The competition could not be easier, all you need to do is to follow me on Twitter, and to send me an email confirming you have followed me to enquiries@recoveryourroots.co.uk . My Twitter name is @historylady2013

Closing date for the competition is midnight GMT December 20th .

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador, I get free admission to the event, and some other benefits including lunch vouchers but I pay for my own travel, and accommodation.

RootsTech London Final Round Up

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted my RootsTech Day 3 Round Up, and since then I have been busy working on a presentation I will be delivering in Auckland at the Australia and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine. I have also been updating some family history talks I will also be presenting in Auckland Library at the end of the month. Meaning I have not had much time to reflect on RootsTech London.

I have spoken to numerous friends and acquaintances with no experience of RootsTech who made it to London to ask them for their thoughts. The overwhelming reaction was favourable. Some of the issues predominantly concerned the venue in particular not having access to the food outlets on the upper floor Friday and the lack of sufficient places to replenish water bottles. £1.99 for a can, yes a 330ml can, of water was broadly described as “outrageous”.

On the plus side, people loved the variety of talks on offer and the Expo Hall. Several were able to make use of the bargains on offer from the vendors. Whilst some friends had reservations about having Donny Osmond as a Keynote speaker, virtually everyone happily admitted to having been wrong, and enjoyed his speech, the songs and family photographs.

For me the outstanding Keynote speaker was Dan Snow. His enthusiasm for history came across strongly. His knowledge of family history research is first rate. His message that we need to understand and accept that our ancestors may have feet of clay is a message worth repeating. We cannot change history.

No decision has been made about a further RootsTech taking place in London, but if they decide to return at some stage, I am sure they will have an audience ready and waiting.

Now that RootsTech London has been and gone, my current to do list includes preparing handouts for the sessions I will be presenting at RootsTech 2020 in Salt Lake City at the end of February on Scottish Research. These are entitled Scottish Research – the Basics and Scottish Research – More Unusual Resources.

I will also be fulfilling to role of Ambassador again and will shortly be announcing my competition to win a pass to RootsTech. Keep your eyes peeled!

Disclaimer: As a RootsTech Ambassador I receive complimentary admission to the event, invitations to some extra events and a free registration to give to one of my readers. I bear the cost of my travel, accommodation and meals to enable me to attend.

RootsTech Round Up Day 3

The final day of RootsTech London meant another early start. Out of bed at 6.45 a.m., a quick cup of tea and browse of my emails before hitting the shower and “putting on my slap” before breakfast and off to the ExCel Centre in time for my “tech check” scheduled for 8.30 a.m. I also needed to pop into the Speaker’s Lounge, thoughtfully provided by the organisers, to pick up my gift and card from Heidi Ertel and Tara Bergeson before getting ready for my talk at 9.00 a.m. Thank you very much, it was much appreciated.

Arriving in the classroom, I discovered I was not the only one, already 4 people were sitting in the audience, so it gave me a great opportunity to chat, and help calm my nerves. In view of my competition on Saturday morning as England were playing New Zealand in the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup, I have to say I was delighted by the size of the audience who came to hear me speak about Researching English and Welsh Workhouse Records. This seemed to go well and I was asked lots of questions. Several people spotted me in the Expo Hall later in the day and asked even more questions.

Photo courtsey of Jill Ball, Geniaus.

Saturday was also the day when families came along with their children and there were numerous activities provided by the organisers to keep the younger visitors engaged with lots of family history related activities.

Once the talk was over, it was down to the main hall for the Saturday keynote. Nick Barrett, the M.C. spoke briefly before introducing Donny Osmond to the large audience. Donny is the custodian of the family history archive which his late mother originally researched and which Donny has added to over the years. He has been involved with showbusiness since he was 5 years old and accordingly his family story has been well documented, but he encouraged us all to write down our experiences, amusing anecdotes and describe personalities for posterity.

He told us the family story of the discovery of the Osmond Brothers and their many appearances on the Andy Williams Show. When growing up, I was a great Andy Williams fan and had several vinyl records in my collection. When Donny sang Moon River in tribute to Andy I was delighted.

Many of you will be aware that I am researching a PhD, as it happens one off my supervisors is a real Donny fan.  Being in Australia at the time of RootsTech she was unable to attend, but I took several photos and posted them to her – obviously to make her jealous.  I am sure she would have been in the queue waiting to have a meet and greet with Donny later. Ambassadors were then able to conduct group interviews with Donny. We were all able to ask one question, and mine was to ask “What is the  most exciting family history discovery which made you do the genealogist’s Happy Dance?” His answer: discovering he was related to Andy Williams!

You can watch the general keynote sessions by clicking here https://www.rootstech.org/category/2019-london-keynotes-general-sessions

Part of the queue waiting to meet Donny Osmond

For the remainder of the day I was busy meeting and greeting friends and colleagues, and discovering a DNA distant cousin had left a message for me, wanting to chat. We are now connected and planning to try and work out who our common ancestors are.

Towards the end of the day, I finally found time to meet Alex Cox of FindMyPast. Alex is on Facebook hosting FindMyPast Live on Friday afternoons, which I try to watch most Fridays.  He and I first met in person a couple of years ago in Salt Lake City, so it was fun to catch up again. Thankfully Alex has longer arms than me, but we managed a selfie!

RootsTech London has been an amazing experience. Having attended events in Salt Lake City, I had an idea of what to expect of course. It was a very enjoyable experience, the organisation was excellent and the whole crew were very friendly and helpful. I hope they are able to return in the future and maybe you too will have the opportunity to attend RootsTech London.

RootsTech Roundup Day 2

My plans for day 2 included attending several talks, helping out my fellow directors on the Register of Qualified Genealogists on their exhibition stand and generally familiarising myself with the exhibitors.

Whilst the exhibition area (The Expo Hall) is not as large as that in Salt Lake City, nevertheless there were plenty of stands to visit and lots of tempting offers, and of course, lots of friends and acquaintances to greet. I have not been hugged by so many people for a long time! 

As the Expo Hall admission was free, I was able to persuade a family friend to come along to get a taste of what RootsTech is all about. My earlier efforts to get her to attend had failed, as she thought “it was not for her”. Being busy we did not have much time for a chat, but I suggested she sit in on some of the talks provided by the exhibitors. One of my RQG friends later said she had met my friend over lunch and had discovered how we became friends. I subsequently learned that she had won an annual subscription to FindMyPast. Should RootsTech decide to return to London, I hope she will now feel RootsTech is for her!

The general Keynote was delivered by Kadeena Cox. Kadeena is an Olympic Paralympian medal winner. Now I have to confess I am not a sports fan, and athletics leave me cold, however Kadeena’s story of her struggle to succeed at two separate sports following a stroke and a multiple sclerosis diagnosis was both heart- warming and inspiring. Coming from a family which is part of the Windrush generation which settled in Leeds, she also emphasised the importance of her extended family.

Friday Keynote Kadeena Cox

You can watch the general keynote sessions by clicking here https://www.rootstech.org/category/2019-london-keynotes-general-sessions

My best laid plans to attend as many DNA classes as I possibly could soon fell by the wayside. I was too busy chatting to exhibitors, friends and fellow RootsTech Ambassadors. I was also interviewed by the RootsTech team, so who knows, one day I might end up in some of their promotional videos! So I have decided to buy the Virtual Pass, which enables me to have 9 months to watch 20 of the sessions which were filmed.

On most Tuesdays between 7 and 8 p.m. GMT I can be found moderating the weekly AncestryHour chat. On all three days at 3 p.m. we assembled in the meet and greet area in the Expo Hall. Each day I handed out AncestryHour ribbons and group photos were taken. Here are a few of the Friday gang.

By 5 o’clock I was exhausted and retired to my room for a brief rest and run through of my presentation before meeting up again with friends for a meal and some liquid refreshment.  We also caught up with several of the delegates attending the Comicon event which was also taking place at the ExCel Centre. Earlier that morning I had seen a few amazing sights and that evening, even more of the creative costumes were on display.

So a relatively early night, as I had an early start on Saturday. More about that in my Day 3 Roundup.