Mountain Genealogy Retreat

Last year I started something new – a monthly overnight genealogy retreat held at my home through the good weather months.  I love to teach genealogy, so this was so much fun for me.  There were 30 women and teens who joined me in groups of 3 to 12!

Connie Ward girl with a past genealogy retreat Eden Utah journaling life story family history research organization

One of our retreat groups taking a break!

I edited and refined the materials until I was able to present the important basics of everything pertaining to genealogy in a short period of time.  I taught organizing documents and pictures, writing journals and life stories, researching and navigating mega websites, understanding census records, telling and recording stories, and much more.  By the time each event was finished and the last guest had walked out the door, I was exhausted, but sad to see it end.  We shared incredible life lessons through our stories, we laughed and cried together, and we each left with a desire to connect with ancestors and loved ones.  Everyone went home with a binder full of printed information on everything that was taught.

This summer’s retreats are filling up, but I still have a few openings for June 22-23 and I could take two or three more people on August 31-September 1.

I am also willing to set up other weekends if you have a group of friends who want to attend together.  So if you live in decent proximity to Eden, Utah (or even if you don’t – I have had guests from Texas and California), and you would like to jump start or fine tune your genealogy yearnings, please contact me and let’s do it!  The cost for materials,  comfortable beds and good food is $150.  The friendship, laughter, and tears are free!

Since we never purchase anything without reading the reviews, here are a couple:

This is a wonderful opportunity, so glad I was able to attend the last one. Connie’s hospitality and knowledge of the subject are off the chart!! – Marianne

I was lucky enough to attend the first retreat. Wonderful information by an incredible mentor and friend. – Dixie


Oh Give Me a Home: where loose papers can’t roam

It’s time to organize some more stuff!  This idea is extremely inexpensive and can be used in so many ways.  It’s a cardboard magazine file from Ikea!

FLYT magazine file from Ikea

FLYT magazine file from Ikea

I didn’t know these little boxes could make my life so easy.  I use them to store all of my piano music (organized by genre of course).

Piano music and scrapbook paper

Piano music and scrapbook paper

I use them to store magazines that I can’t bear to throw away (chronologically of course).  I use them to tidy up all those family histories my mother wrote (alphabetically by subject of course).

Family Histories

Family Histories

I use them to hold study guides and reference materials that I might or might never need again (labeled “General Reference” of course).  I use them to hold all my junior high and high school yearbooks (times 2 because my husband has a set also).

Yearbooks from Days Gone By

Yearbooks from Days Gone By

I use them to hold my 8.5 x 11 scrapbooking paper.

Scrapbook Papers

Scrapbook Papers

I use them to hold my printer paper, photo paper, and page protectors.  And I made my own larger ones to hold my 12 x 12 scrapbooking paper.  The boxes are plain white, but you can see that I dressed up some of them with scrapbook paper and fancy lettering, just for fun.

You can buy them at Ikea for $1.49 for a 5-pack or order them online, but beware that shipping charges can cost more than the product.  I ordered them from Amazon with free shipping, but had to pay a little more for the product.  It was still cheaper than driving to the nearest Ikea, which is now 70 miles away from my home.  Shop around, even on Amazon, and find the best deal.

And if you caught a glimpse of my newly painted, beautiful gray piano or my aged industrial shelves, stay tuned for a future post on those items!

Binders Glorified: genealogy research and organization magic

I love 3-ring binders!  They are magic!  I have banker’s boxes full of empty binders in my garage.  I have a hall closet full of binders waiting to be filled.  I have shelves of binders currently holding very important information.  Whoever invented the 3-ring binder deserves a gold star! Why do I need so many binders?  OK, so I’m an organization junkie!

Organization does not need to be a boring subject!

Organization does not need to be a boring subject!

Here are just some of the items you will find in binders at my house:

  • recipes from myself and 3 daughters
  • almost 40 years of journals
  • newspaper clippings of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City
  • trips we have taken complete with photos, trip journals, maps, etc.
  • the crazy family stories my husband and I tell our grandkids
  • photos that don’t have a home yet
  • greeting cards (I can’t throw them away)
  • important papers and documents
  • computer CD’s (in those cool plastic thingies that hold 4 CD’s on a page)
  • music CD’s (in those same plastic thingies)
  • DVD’s (yep, more thingies)
  • book lists (you’ll soon find out how much I love books and book lists)
  • crochet patterns
  • family journals (documentation of family activities)
  • OK – I think you get the picture – I couldn’t live without my 3-ring binders

However, the biggest and best reason for binders is to organize my genealogy research. And I have the magic recipe for what’s inside the binder, but that’s for another post.

It's what's inside the binder that counts!

It’s what’s inside the binder that counts!

In the meantime, here are my binder tips:

  • White binders look nice on the shelf.
  • “View” binders can be customized with cute scrapbooking paper and titles printed on the spines.
  • I use scrapbooking paper in four colors (one color for each of my four main families) so they can easily be found on the shelf.
  • Older plain binders can be covered with cloth or contact paper, etc.
  • Stock up on 2″, 2.5″, and a few 3″ for genealogy.
  • Binders come in a variety of grades, prices, and ring mechanisms, but check out or for some good prices.
  • And don’t forget sheet protectors – LOTS of sheet protectors.  Buy them by the box at or Costco.

What about being paperless?  Are you kidding me?  Connie doesn’t do paperless when it comes to genealogy research.  I need my hard copies in front of me where I can think, sort, analyze, scribble, attach sticky notes, and caress my newly-found documents. Besides, when my husband sees all those binders full of research, he keeps helping with the housework and cooking the meals!

So, buy a few binders, fancy them up a bit, and get ready for research magic (or just use them to organize your life)!

connie ward girl with a past genealogy blog binder notebook 3 ring spine label