Sunday, August 13, 2017


16oz spaghetti
1 lb ground beef
16oz favorite spaghetti sauce (I love prego traditional)
1 cup cottage cheese or ricotta 
8oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
8oz shredded mozzarella

Boil spaghetti for 10 minutes in large stock pot.
While spaghetti is boiling, cook ground beef in large skillet, drain, add spaghetti sauce, garlic and Italian seasoning to ground beef.
Turn heat off on skillet and mix cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese. 
Drain spaghetti and put back in stock pot, add sauce mixture and mozzarella to stock pot and stir well until pasta is coated.   

Recipe from:


splash of cherry juice or grenadine
1.5oz cake flavored vodka 
3oz pineapple juice

Splash cherry juice or grenadine in bottom of glass.
Mix vodka, juice and ice in a shaker and pour in glass.
Don't forget your cherry!


I use to make this drink with amaretto, lemon juice and powdered sugar.  This version is so much better!

3oz amaretto
6oz sweet and sour mix
1/2oz cherry juice or grenadine 

Mix everything to get in a shaker with ice and pour in a glass, include a cherry or two!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

You received your DNA test results, now what?

This article will only discuss features.  If you missed my "So you want to take a DNA test" article you can find it here

Below I will list some tips on how to navigate as well as different tools you can use to get the best experience.  I really hope you find this useful!

While you are waiting for your DNA test results to come in start building your tree.  Add as much information as you possibly can starting with your parents, grandparents and great grandparents names and birth/death dates.  Make sure your information is correct.  Call family members if needed to fill in dates and location of birth/death.  You can upload photos too, it's prettier to log in and see all those faces looking back at you!  When you originally start to build the tree ancestry will already have the public box checked, this means everyone can see the deceased people on your tree - living people will always be private unless you give specific people permission to view them.  You can change your privacy at any time plus share your tree with people by clicking on manage tree:privacy settings:sharing

Congratulations!  Your email just arrived that your DNA test results are in!  Very first thing - click on "your DNA results summary"  click on "settings" on the far right, connect your DNA to the tree you've been working on, find yourself in the tree and connect!
*If you are an adoptee or searching for someone now is the time to add your DNA to all possible databases.  In this same DNA settings screen off to the right you will see "download raw DNA data".  Click that and save it on your computer. Then upload to all the sites mentioned in my first article, linked above.

Ok fun stuff!  Go back to the DNA results page and click on "view your genetic ancestry".  Click on ethnicity regions.  Open your low confidence regions by clicking the + sign.  Take a screen shot of this box if you want to show it to your friends and family.

Now click on "genetic communities".  Sometimes it takes a couple days for this to show up.  You might have 1, 2 or 3 or who knows how many communities.  You can read the history about these areas and you can also see your matches who have ancestors from these same communities.  This can be helpful if you're searching for someone and know their genetic background - i.e. my father is Italian and my mother's side is not so I know that all the matches from my Italian genetic community were related to my dad.  To see those matches, click on one of your genetic communities, a story will pop up but click on "connection" scroll down and click "view all matches" on the left.

Ok now go back to the DNA results page again.  There's your DNA matches right there in the center column.  You will most likely have thousands of cousins, if you're really lucky you might have some closer relationships.  Click on "view all DNA matches".  Click on your highest match at the top there.  Click on that little "i" under predicted relationship.   This shows you how many centimorgans and DNA segments you share with this particular match.  Use this chart to figure out the relationship farther. 
While you still have this match open you can see a preview of their tree on the right if they have a tree and their DNA is connected to it.  You can click on "view full tree" to see it better.
Sometimes they've built a tree and didn't connect their DNA, you can see a drop down box a little lower on the left of the screen to view their tree(s).  If they have a tree but it's private you can message them and ask them to share it with you.  They'll need your email address to invite you and go into that sharing section I talked about earlier.
Ok so you still have this match open, now click on "shared matches".  These are all the matches who are related to both of you.  

As you are adding people to your tree, the bigger your tree gets you'll start getting "shared ancestor hints".  These are DNA matches who have their DNA attached to their tree and you and them have some common relatives on both trees.  When you start getting them you'll see the number next to the leaf under your matches, click on them and it'll show you the paths on how you're related.

If you are searching for someone or find a match that you'd like to look into farther you can star them so they are easier to find when you log back in.  For example, I was researching my fathers side of the family for a while so I starred all of the Italian matches and shared matches of those matches.  Then tried to figure out where they connected so I could add them on my tree.

Contacting matches: When you have a match open there's a green box at the top right that says "send message".  You can click on that or you can on the matches name and at the top right is another button, it's brown and says "contact(matches name)".  I've heard that this brown button is a better choice as it goes straight to the matches personal email but I do not know this as fact. If you are desperate to reach the match try both ways!

If you are searching for someone and you see matches/trees/info that is useful, please take a screen shot or notes as soon as possible.  Some people panic when close matches show up or if they are contacted and hide their trees and other info.  If you feel it's important - screen shot it!  
If you plan on contacting someone who is related to the person you are searching for and there is particular information you need from them.  Start off your message like "Hi!  I see we are a DNA match!  I'd love to figure out how/where we connect!"  Chat with them some and build up that information in the tree before divulging that you are searching for their relative, often times people feel uncomfortable giving out info on their relatives or fear of being the one to reveal a family secret and will stop communicating with you once they know you are searching.

Building mirror trees and adding your DNA matches to your tree even if you don't know where they connect.  There are several reasons why you might want to do this.  Here is the best way I've found.  You have this 3rd cousin match and you want to connect them to your tree but you don't know how they are related yet.  They have an awesome tree and it's public, score!  Add them to your tree as your brother or sister or whatever, it doesn't matter just add them somewhere.  Once you have them on there and their little file is open so you can see their facts, ect. Click on "edit" and then "edit relationships".  Click the X to remove the current relationships that were false, you just used those to get them on the tree and then add their real parents.  You'll have to click on "add father" and then "add new person".  Use the names and birth/death dates that this person has on their tree.  Copy as much of their tree as you like (this is called a mirror tree).  If you clicked on shared matches with this match you can usually tell which side of their tree you need to focus on so fill that in well.
Putting all of your matches in this way, all on one tree is helpful for when it's time to connect their branch.  If you built them all a separate tree you'd have to manually go in to add them to your main tree when you were ready to do so.  Lots of extra work, easier to put them all on one to start off.  
Here is how I keep track of them all since they are not attached to your main tree anymore once you remove those initial relationships.  I picked a DNA symbol photo off of the internet and I added it to my mother and my father's gallery (Open your mother's name on your tree, click on gallery, upload media). Once you've added a maternal match in the tree, go back to that DNA photo in your mom's gallery (go to gallery and click on the photo) there's a blue button on the right that says +add.  Click that and type the matches name.  They are now connected to this DNA photo, this is how I keep track of all my maternal and paternal matches and how you can find them easily.

Membership  when you will have a solid two weeks to dedicate to research, take advantage of free 2 week trial membership with ancestry.  At this time you'll have access to census reports, manifest from when ancestors traveled to and from the US among other documents.  This is the time to find proof on who was living where and with who.  It is important to use these documents to correctly fill in your tree.  Do not rely on other matches trees because 9 times out of 10 the information is incorrect. Open those census forms up, those manifests and find a grave and read them!  Sometimes there's clues in there that you wouldn't have known if you didn't.
*If you do not have a paid membership you can still see and communicate with your matches.  You can still build a tree, you just cannot use the search tools, shaky leafs and documents ancestry has to assist you.

Searching tools
I am still learning about all of the search tools available.  I've heard you can look up ancestors and obituaries at your local library for free and that some of them even have an ancestry account that you can use.  For now here are some sites that are useful:
Also great resources for those who are adopted or searching for someone or need the assistance of a search angel:

For those of you who find slave owners in your tree.  I found this amazing article about the "Beyond Kin Project"  it shows you ways to add the slaves and their families to your tree and do some research on them, which would in turn possibly help the families of those slaves who are researching find them easier.  I love this idea!

Last but not least, ancestry has an academy where they post videos to help walk you through certain things.  Check it out!

This is all I can think of at the moment!  If you have anything to add or questions please feel free to contact me and good luck with your search!!!  

Monday, August 7, 2017


1 refrigerated pie crust
12 slices of bacon, fried and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese
6 green onions, chopped
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Lay crust in deep dish pie plate.  Spread bacon, cheese and onions on bottom of pie plate reserving a handful of each to garnish the top.
Whisk together eggs, cream, salt, sugar and pepper.  Pour over pie plate.  Sprinkle remanding bacon, cheese and onions on top.
Bake at 425* for 15 minutes then lower oven temp to 300* and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes.

Sunday, July 23, 2017


The title to this chicken is misleading since there's no bourbon in this recipe but I felt this was the only name fitting...  years ago my neighbor Janice introduced me to this chicken and it immediately struck a familiar cord with my taste buds, it tasted like the bourbon chicken from Mandarin Express at Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach!  

1 - 2 lbs chicken boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped (or about 3 tablespoons dried)

Mix all marinade ingredients together in a bowl and pour into a gallon plastic bag, add thighs to bag and marinate in fridge for 2-4 hours.

Grill chicken for about 10 minutes, turning several times so sugar does not burn.

Thank you Janice for this delicious recipe!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2017


We just purchased 2 guinea pigs.  I'm trying to learn as much as I can to give them a long and happy life.  Below I am going to post my favorite links that I've found so far so I can easily find them and read when needed.

Fleece lining for inside piggy cage:

Guinea Pig advice and support Facebook group:

C&C cage are best

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


3 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/2 milk
1 tablespoon sugar
pinch of nutmeg
1 or 2 tablespoon(s) butter - I used 2 and it seemed like too much
toppings: syrup, preserves, powdered sugar or cinnamon & sugar

Put 8" cast iron skillet in the oven and then preheat to 425*  Once oven has reached temp pull skillet out of oven and put butter in it to melt.

While butter is melting whisk together eggs, flour, milk, sugar and nutmeg.  Use an electric mixer, a blender or lots of elbow grease to really get the butter aerated - need lots of bubbles!

Pour batter over melted butter and bake for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes lower oven temp to 300* and bake an additional 5 minutes.

Once cooled a bit add toppings and enjoy!

*Do not open oven to peek it'll make it deflate!
*Double recipe if using a larger pan - make sure you melt enough butter to cover bottom of pan

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

So you want to take a DNA test...

I have been asked by so many family and friends about my journey after taking my DNA test.  Several are curious about their own family and don't know where to begin.  I am no where near expert level but I decided to share my experience and my opinion with the companies I've tested with and give a little info to help assist you in your own journey.  This article will most likely be all over the place because that is how my brain works but hopefully you are able to pull some helpful tidbits out here and there.  

WARNING:  I have seen several cases on online forums of where people take this DNA test and they find out that one of their parents isn't really their biological parent, they've been lied to, they have siblings they didn't know about and some of their family members procreated with other family members.  You must prepare yourself that this is a possibility because I cannot tell you how many people get a shock after taking a DNA test...

First I'm going to list the DNA sites that I am on and then give my feedback about each site.


1.  I cannot say enough good things about  They've really made their site user friendly with endless amounts of information that I have thoroughly enjoyed learning from.  I still have not mastered navigating all of the tools they have available but that's only because I've been so focused on building my tree I haven't ventured around much.  If you're going to take a DNA test and you cannot decide which company to go with I would say ancestry hands down based on the fact that you get more info IMO and their database is much larger, meaning more people are testing with them than anywhere else so you will get more info and matches.

With ancestry you get an ethnicity estimate which breaks down your ethnicity into percentages.  Mine looks like this:

There's a genetic community section that shows you what part of the world your ancestors came from.  It shows you on the map where those places are, gives you lots of historical information on those areas and then even shows you who on your DNA match list also have ancestors from those locations.  Mine looks like this:

Then the best part (I think) it gives you a list of relatives that you are related to by DNA who have also tested with ancestry.  To give you an idea of how many people you could be seeing...  each page has about 50 people on it and I have currently 185 pages of cousins.  The number grows weekly as people test.  Your matches can add photos of themselves and information and you can see the trees they build provided they make them public.  If they are private you can ask them for permission to view their tree.  An important note, some trees are wrong, people start copying others research thinking it's correct when it's not and that was my biggest mistake when I first got started.  Do not trust what others have on their trees without confirming and doing a bit of your own research.

When you start building your tree, if you and a cousin have the same set of grandparents on both of your trees ancestry will tell you!  It'll say this match has a shared ancestor hint and show you the direct path on how you're related. I love that feature as well!

*Keep in mind the only matches you will see are those who have also tested with ancestry!  You will have to use those people and your immediate living relatives to do your own research while building a tree.

Another feature is DNA circles, that just tells you watch matches have several other matching relatives with you in their tree. 

2.  I did not like 23andme at all.  First off I found it isn't that compatible with mac computers.  Their site would often show up as a jumbled mess and I had a very hard time registering my kit off the bat.  I still get a million error messages when I try to log in so I don't even go over there much at all.  Most of my matches have chosen to remain anonymous which was disappointing to me.  I guess they did the test just to get the health report and weren't interested in learning about their ancestors.  I tested because I was searching for someone and all of those anonymous matches was useless to me.

Here is my genetic break down from 23andme

I have 1,244 DNA matches on 23andme.  Compare that to ancestry's whopping 9,250...  that's a big difference.  Then like I mentioned the majority of those 1,244 are anonymous and I can see nothing about them.  Those who aren't anonymous on 23andme share their name and some of them list surnames in their family.  There are no trees, no other info to assist you.  Definitely wasn't the test site for me.  However, the big appeal with 23andme is the health report they give you telling you what percentage chance you have of getting some type of disease or cancer, to get this report it's going to cost you around $200 with 23andme.  I paid $100 through ancestry and an additional $5 with to get that same health report...

The only positive I have to say about 23andme is if you are adopted or searching for someone I would 100% test with both ancestry and 23andme because they are two completely different databases and you will receive two separate match lists.  

Raw data:  If you test with companies 1 and 2 listed above you can download your raw DNA data from either company and upload it into the last 3 companies listed.  This means - I would not pay to test with numbers 3 and 4 on the list (5 is a different story, you don't test with them) because you can upload a test from numbers 1 and 2 and be put in their database for free.

3.  FTDNA had some neat tools but I really didn't find any of them that useful.  If you test with numbers 1 or 2 and you upload your raw DNA for free you will only get a list of matches.  If you want to be able to use any of their tools they have to offer you will need to pay $19 to upgrade your account, this is a one time fee and isn't too bad but like I said I felt like I got so much more info from ancestry I sort of ignored all these other sites.

Here is my genetic background according to FTDNA

Currently I have 94 matches on FTDNA.  I had 88 for months.  It was a neat site to play with and a bonus it was free.    

4.  My heritage is awful.  It's new and I've read nothing but complaints about it. I uploaded my raw DNA for free and only did so because I heard that a lot of Europeans were using this company and being that a large percentage of my DNA matches were from Europe I was hoping to locate some that were still there.  I received 3 DNA matches on my heritage.  I definitely wouldn't recommend paying for this service at all.

5.  GEDmatch is amazing.  Not to many people know about it except for those hard core searchers who are adopted or are really looking for someone.  There is so much to learn about GEDmatch and I haven't even begun to understand it all.  There are websites with tutorials and info but I haven't read them all yet.  You can download your raw DNA from any of the companies above and upload into GEDmatch.  With GEDmatch you can compare kit numbers with people and see if you're related and how much DNA you share and on what chromosomes.  Most of the people on there have their names listed and you will get that email address.  I've heard this is a great resource for getting started with GEDmatch:  

That's all I have for now, as I think of stuff to add I will and if you have questions or comments please add them at the bottom of this post or message me privately.  If you are an adoptee or searching for someone I also found these two sites to be very helpful.  One is a website and the other is a Facebook group with loads of info.  Good luck in your search and feel free to let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp vegetable oil or melted butter
3 tbsp milk

Mix all ingredients together in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes. *You can transfer to a mug before cooking.

1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp cocoa powder
splash of milk or coffee or creamer

Mix until desired consistency and pour over cake.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I've decided to start adding mix ins to our favorite macaroni and cheese casserole recipe.  These dinners are perfect for us because the entire family loves them and it makes enough for 2 nights!  I really dislike hamburger helper so I'm aiming to make my own versions.

16oz elbow mac
16oz sharp shredded cheddar 
2 cups milk
1/4 cup flour
16oz cubed ham
12oz frozen broccoli florets
5 slices bread, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup butter, melted

Boil macaroni for 10 minutes, throw frozen broccoli in for the last 4 minutes, then drain and return to stock pot.  Add cheese, milk, flour and ham to stock pot and stir until well combined.

Pour into a greased 13x9 casserole dish.  Top with bread pieces and drizzle bread with melted butter.  
Bake for 45 minutes at 350*

Thursday, January 19, 2017


2 pounds chicken thighs or breasts 
large onion, chopped
olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 (4oz) cans diced green chills
3 cans great northern beans, undrained
4 cups chicken broth
16+8oz shredded monterey jack cheese
sour cream for garnish

Heat olive in a stock pot over medium heat, sauté onion until translucent.  Add garlic, clove, cumin, red pepper, green chilis and oregano, sauté for about a min.

Add chicken broth and chicken, bring to a boil and cook chicken for about 15 minutes or until done.  Take chicken out and chop into chunks.  Add chicken, beans and 16oz of cheese to pot, simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with  remaining cheese and sour cream.

This recipe was given to me in 2005 by a neighbor and we loved it!  I lost the recipe and went years without making it.  12 years later I contacted my friend and she still had the recipe!  We are so happy to have it back in our lives again! Here's an old photo of my husband and daughter making this chili and we reenacted it today in 2017!  LOL!