Free Resources – Discovered While Genealogying

The Library of Congress has some great online resources… they have far more resources still just in paper form, but they have made great strides in scanning or organizing important pieces of our history online.  In doing my own genealogy research, I would often get sidetracked.. clicking through the volumes of resources available.

This collection at the link below is a project completed in the 1930’s where they collected thousands of oral histories from former slaves.  It’s fascinating to read through and see their dialect portrayed in the writing.

You can also buy certain volumes of this project for your Kindle on Amazon.

My Folks Don’t Want Me To Talk About Slavery: Personal Accounts of Slavery in North Carolina (Real Voices, Real History)

Slave Narratives Arkansas Vol 3 (Arkansas Slave Narratives) Kindle Edition – Click picture below

More to come.

DIY Cleaning Products – Where to get the Ingredients?

My healthy Pinterest addiction has led me to discover things I’m interested in and how simple it is to DO IT YOURSELF sometimes.  I thought it would be fun to share all the different recipes I’ve found to make your own cleaning products.  You can save so much money if you buy a few basic items from the dollar store and Costco.

Spray Bottles

I go to Dollar Tree for a lot of basics, such as spray bottles, brand new, clean and ready to use for only a dollar!  We use these all over the house with our homemade cleaning products.  I hate having to run across the house to search for the all surface
cleaning spray, with dollar store spray bottles, I keep bottles of cleaning products needed in each room of the house.  It’s much cheaper than buying bottles of name brand cleaning products for every room of your house.

Dollar Tree Scrub Buddies

In the same area for cleaning tools, where you find the spray bottles, you find all the scrubbing devices.  I buy the above scrubbing buddy from Dollar Tree because for only a dollar I can be really rough on them and it doesn’t hurt the pocket to replace one.  You can also get dust pans, brooms, and mops there.  So many options for a fraction of the price at the local grocery store or even Walmart.

There are other items, you have to go to Dollar General for, because Dollar Tree only sells items for $1 and some things just can’t be bought that cheap.  Dollar General sells items over a dollar, such as Borax.  I just got a big box of Borax at Dollar General the other week for $4.  Not everything at a dollar store is a good deal though.  The containers of products are often smaller than at the regular grocery store, so your probably paying the same price per unit on certain items.


I go to Costco for items like Vinegar where you can get a 1.32 gallon jug of Heinz Vinegar for $3.29.  You can’t beat that at the dollar store.

Another item you should only buy at a warehouse store like Costco, is paper products.  Paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, tissues, etc.  The quality of their paper products are very competitive and you can’t beat the price.  If you buy dollar store paper towel after getting Costco paper towel by their store brand Kirkland, the dollar store paper towel will be very dissapointing!  Smaller rolls and thinner less absorbant paper.

OK so last but not least, Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime deserves it’s own post because it’s so huge and useful. Stay tuned.


Pregnant with Guinevere – 32 Weeks

I love getting sonograms!  It’s a chance to take a peek at the little bundle of joy bumping and kicking around inside my belly.  Here are the pictures I got at my 32 week growth check sonogram, which looked all good to the doctor.  Only thing is he wants me to stop eating so many Christmas cookies…

SONO 32W 1 SONO 32W 2 SONO 32W 3 SONO 32W 4

This last one is my favorite.  Guinevere looks very happy and content.  I can’t wait to meet her!

SONO 32W 5

Baby’s First Pumpkin Patch

I was very excited to take 11 month old Siobhan to her first Pumpkin Patch.  She can’t quite walk yet, but she can crawl.

Hay Baby

There was a barn full of loose hay and hay bales for the kids to play on.  I took Siobhan to the corner where other babies were sitting and she really didn’t like it!  She sat there for a minute looking very confused and uncomfortable.  Then she started to gag and cough!  I freaked out for a second and pulled her out quickly.  She had choked on all the dust stirred up by all the big kids running around.  So we moved on.

20141012_140753 20141012_140809

We wanted to get a cute picture of her standing against the measurement sign, but she did not want to stand!  Usually she loves to stand and hold on to things, but I guess not on demand.


I think this crazy pumpkin wanted to eat my baby!


Baby’s first ghost encounter!  Just in time for halloween.


She LOVES to wave Hello to people.  Who can resist a baby waving to them?


Artsy hay bale shot!

20141012_142230 20141012_142257

I found a pyramid of stacked hay bales out in the open.  A lot less dust!  But she still wasn’t very interested in the texture.  But she sat and pondered the Pumpkin Festival for a while.


The goat greeted her to see if she had food and moved on.  She checked him out for a while probably wondering what he was.


The piggies were super cute!  But Siobhan was starting to fade at this point, so we headed back to re-group with Dad and Sister.


Since we skipped the hay ride, she got a ride on daddy’s shoulders while we went into the Butler’s Orchard store to get apple cider and fresh farm milk.   The Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival has a ton of things to do for children of all ages.  There were a couple huge slides, moon bounce, mazes and pony rides.  Siobhan and I just did baby stuff, but the bigger kids definitely get the bang for their buck.  I look forward to taking her back when she’s older to enjoy the other activities.  I guess she should learn to walk before she rides a pony.

Life with a 10 Month Baby

Siobhan is 10 months and she loves to crawl.  She says, “Uh Oh” all the time!  And she loves to eat all food, as long as it’s chopped up to baby size.


We attended her Nana’s wedding and she had a ball crawling around the reception.  During the wedding ceremony she got very upset when everyone clapped and cheered at the end.


This is her pre-wedding nap.  We let her sleep till the last minute so she would make it through the event.  20140907_110749

Siobhan enjoys riding in my hiking backpack.  She enjoys the sways of my footsteps and hums along as she enjoys the scenery.  20140907_142810

On football sundays, we like to spread out snacks on the coffee table.  Turns out, with only 2 teeth, Siobhan can munch down a hot dog!  She also took a jalapeño popper and sucked out all the cheese, avoiding the pepper.  20140831_195529

One of her favorite toys is this chair that plays music, but she doesn’t sit on the chair, she stands on the chair and has a blast.20140824_180706

Her first artificial color mess from eating a blue italian ice with me.  I can’t eat one around her without sharing now, she’ll come up and grunt and look yearningly at it.20140824_191840

I took her on an after dinner stroll to the local elementary school so she could crawl across America!

Siobhan loves her Cheerios!  When she starts to get full, she throws them on the ground and if I don’t clean them up, she will come back and find them and eat them later.  She’s also developed a habit of crawling up to her high chair and checking the footrest for snacks… All this has turned me into a much more avid cleaner than I ever was before.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  🙂

Snorkeling in Thailand

While in Thailand, snorkeling is a must!  In Koh Lanta, there’s a couple different trips you can take to go snorkeling.  I signed up for the Four Islands Tour, which includes a trip to the Emerald Cave.  I’d actually never been snorkeling before.  In Thailand, there’s always a choice between speed boat or slow old fashioned Thai boat.  If you really want to cover some ground, take a speed boat.  Going fast on the water is always fun!

Speed Boat


In Koh Lanta, the speed boats pull straight up to the different beaches along the island and pick up their passengers from their hotel fronts.  I was the first one on my boat so I got to see all the beaches and hotels along the coast where my fellow passengers were staying.

Slow Boats

We sped past the slow Thai boats.  I had taken a slow boat on my  Mangrove Tour on the other side of the island.

Koh Lanta Coast

I took notes on where some bungalows with a view were located. 🙂

Snorkeling Cove

At our first stop, I eagerly hopped in the water.  I believe this island was called Ko Ngai.  The coral and fishes were not as impressive as the places I went scuba diving, but they had their own laid back charm.  It was extremely relaxing to drift in the cool clear water and admire the coast lines of the various small islands and observe the quiet habitats of the tropical fish.

Snorkeling coral


At one point, the guys on my boat threw leftover rice in the water and the fish swarmed me.  It was really cool!  But not a good idea for people who get claustrophobic.

Swarm of Fish


I’m very glad I chose to do a snorkel trip.  It was very laid back and a great way to see the different islands.

Back of Boat

Time For Lime, Cooking in Thailand

Thai Food

I decided to take a break from ocean activities for a day and go to a Thai cooking school while I was in Koh Lanta.  Time For Lime is the cooking school to go to on the island.  Proceeds from the school go to support an animal shelter on the island where you can go volunteer and take dogs for walks on the beach.


The cooking school is on the beach and has this amazing view.  The school also has a beach front bar which you have full access to while cooking to purchase drinks.


One of the first things is called Taste of Thailand.  You take a leaf and mix all the primary flavors used in Thai dishes in the leaf and eat it.  It’s super yummy!  Some of the items are: chili, lime, onion, garlic, dried shrimp, honey, peanut, and one more thing in the far bowl in the picture above… can’t remember what it was.  I had a couple Taste of Thailand leaf tacos because they were so tasty and my appetite was getting warmed up.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is my work station.  The knife was a bit intimidating but the teacher showed us how it’s the only knife you need.  They had them for sale at the shop and I thought about buying one but they were pricey and didn’t want the weight in my backpack.


The teacher demonstrates the ingredients preparation and then the class follows suit.  We started with making a simple fish dish.  The primary work being in the preparation of the sauce.  An assistant cooked all our filets for us and flash fried basil for garnish as well.  We prepared the sauce.


Here I am with my knife.  Look out!  Me and the brits in my class were pounding back the beers during class.


The teacher’s dish is presented on the above and mine is below.  I think I made chicken instead of fish for some reason.  Fun part was plating.  I’d never played around with plating on leaves and sculpting rice before.  Also, I would like to get some wooden planks to use at home, because I think it give the food a natural appearance.


This is how you make Green Papaya Salad.  Chop up long beens and they grated the papaya for us, but the secret was in the sauce.


Here I am making pad thai, which has some strict methodology.  You only swipe the egg 3 times: left, right, and down and then let it cook.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere is my pad thai and green papaya salad plated.  It was super yummy!  And I had a lot of fun drinking at the bar with my classmates afterwords.  I wanted to come back again for another class before I left the island, but they’re super popular and classes fill up in advance.  All in all this class was one of the most unexpected things on my trip.  I didn’t plan to cook or take a class, but I’m so glad I did!  I would highly recommend this cooking experience to everyone and anyone!

Scuba Diving in Koh Lanta, Thailand

I had always wanted to go scuba diving, but never took the plunge.  What better place to learn than Thailand?  It is one of the best spots in the world for diving, so I’d heard.

Upon arrival in Koh Lanta I started walking the streets and browsing the dozens of dive shops.  A friend had highly recommended 2 shops.  I walked to the first one and started asking questions.  The girls in the shop seemed kind of pushy and I had some questions but they were Thai with poor english and didn’t quite understand me.  So I walked to the other shop and there was a british lady working who I was able to ask all the questions I needed so I felt comfortable.

I signed up for a discovery dive, because I only had 5 days left in Thailand and didn’t want to waste 2 days in a classroom and pool getting certified.  Discovery dives are for uncertified divers and are more expensive because a master diver takes you by the hand practically the whole time.  It’s a great way to see if you like diving before you invest in the certification.

My first day of diving was to the island group Koh Bida.


On every trip, they post the dive list and important information on a wipe board.  Nai and Nok dives were around this group of islands.  Hin is a tiny jut of rocks that pop out of the water depending on the tide.  Hin is where leopard sharks like to hang out.  We didn’t get pictures on that final dive, but let me say it was amazing!


Here is a picture of the island group of Bida.  There are coral reefs all around these little islands.


This is where everyone gets suited up and then you just waddle off the back of the boat.


The cool italian photographer snapped a shot of me during the hour boat ride while I was daydreaming.  Having grown up on a boat, I enjoy staring off into the horizon listening to the engine.


My master diver was a nice british guy and the other discovery diver was a dude from Sweden.


Ready to go!


I had an OH SHIT moment before the jump because this is where I realized what I was doing.  It was too late to back out, so I took that first step.


Megan is a diver!  Good divers put their hands behind their backs all the time and just use their legs, but I had my hands out for my comfort.


These are cuttlefish.  I had never heard of them before.  They’re like an octopus-squid.  They were super cute!


There I go.


Here I am.


Sea cucumbers were my favorite creatures to find.


Me and a puffer fish.IMG_6899OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I survived!


At the stern, they pull all the divers in.


Here is Hin where the sharks hang out.  The current was strong but it was a great dive site.  I saw a very large leopard shark chillin on the sandy bottom.

By the end of this dive trip, all I wanted to do was go again and again!  When I got back to the shop I learned that they were booked the next day, so I signed up for discovery diving a different set of islands the day after next and went back to my A/C room to rub aloe on my sun burn from the day and relax with a bottle of Leo beer.

Siobhan – 5 Weeks Old

For the first month of her life, Siobhan was just a cute newborn baby.  I would take care of her and look into her eyes wondering who she would become.

Now, at 5 weeks, I see her smile for the first time.  She is starting to express herself and look around more.  She smiles and coo’s and I’m even more in love with my little girl.

Here are a collection of photos from the past few days:

20131121_223429 20131122_075649 20131122_090117 20131124_140256 20131125_114544 20131126_172050 20131126_174242 20131126_174308 20131126_180113

Pregnancy: 34 Weeks


This week I’ve been coping with headaches and lower back pains.

Sometimes the nerves in my lower back feel pinched and I have to walk funny.  The other day I hobbled off the metro but was able to walk it off by the time I got to my office.  I dont think I do the pregnant lady waddle yet.

The excitement is building!  Cant wait to see how big my baby will be.  To see her eyes and hair and nose.  To hear her voice… crying and screaming… but none the less cant wait to hear it.

For my family to meet their newest member.  For my grandmother with dimensia to meet her youngest great grandchild.

I’m eager to learn how to be a mom.  Some ladies at work said raising a daughter is a wonderful experience and she can turn into your best friend.

I’ll be almost 50 years old when this girl finishes high school and that blows my mind.  It hard to imagine myself at that age and also that I’ll be raising a person from birth to adulthood during that period of time.