Archive | 2014

Holiday Food

Happy Holidays to one and all and thank you for making it a great year. I have enjoyed sharing my passion for genetic genealogy and gardening with all of you. I am endlessly surprised by how much I love writing these posts and look forward to a new year of blogging after this short vacation.

FlavorsFjordSo today I am going off topic to talk about holiday food.

Every Christmas morning when I was a child my Dad would make us Norweegies aka Norwegian pancakes.  Sadly, I was unable to find the recipe he gave me when I went looking for it the other day. However my 2nd cousin Dick Larkin had given me a wonderful Norwegian cookbook, Flavors of the Fjords, years ago; so I found the recipe in that book and made those pancakes for myself and my husband on Christmas morning. They were outstanding! The secret ingredient is cardamon and, of course, lots of sugar. When I posted this on the Norwegian genealogy facebook group, I discovered that pancakes are not the traditional Christmas morning fare in Norway! Apparently they are just a tradition among us Norwegian Americans.

From my mother’s German side came the holiday marzipan fruits from the Elk Candy Store in the Yorktown area of New York City on 86th St. It has long since closed, but happily it still exists online; so I send some every year to various family members and myself. It is so much fresher than any other marzipan I have found.

Then there was the stollen baked every year by, first my grandparents cook Anna, and then for many years by my wonderful Aunt Trudi. This was the first year that she did not make it. Her failing vision makes cooking quite difficult. However while looking for the Norweegie recipe, I found the stollen recipe, so maybe next year I will try it?

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What Can the X Chromosome Tell Us About the Importance of Small Segments? by Kathy Johnston

The current technology for personal DNA testing shows us the pair of values (A,T, G or C) from each of our parents at every tested position on a chromosome but cannot tell us what we got from which parent. If we could separate the DNA that we inherited from one parent, called phasing, and use that for DNA comparisons then perhaps there would be fewer false matches.


X chromosome diagram –

Phasing might bring matching segments smaller than 5cM into play. There have been many recent online posts and discussions among leading genetic genealogists about whether those small segment matches are real (IBD) or pseudo matches (IBC). Links to some of those articles are at the end of this article.

The X chromosome is particularly interesting for small segment comparisons because a male only has one of them to go with his Y, so we know all his X DNA is from his mother. Thus it is ‘phased’ to his mother’s results already. Perhaps then smaller matching X segments are more often real for men.

Dr. Kathy Johnston is a retired dermatologist who has been doing genealogical research for over 25 years and genetic genealogy for 10 years. She has been researching the X chromosome since 2008. She recently posted on facebook that small X segments can be IBD so I asked her for a guest post on the subject.

Read on to see what she has to say on this subject.

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A book to give to your genealogist friend or yourself for Christmas

My family’s eyes glazed over when I mentioned enthusiastically at Thanksgiving dinner that I was reading a great book about the history of doing family history. So I did not go on to tell them all the ways The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures by Christine Kenneally discusses how DNA, family history, and culture affect who we are.

I was fascinated by the discussion of the cultural lack of trust even today in some West African countries where selling people off to slavery was a possibility a few hundred years back. Or the silence about the past in Tasmania where almost all the founding population was made up of convicts. Or the genetic research into who the Melungeons really were.

This book wanders over many family history, DNA, and related topics but it does it so very well. She starts with discoveries about her own family and moves out from there.

Like many books that I find enjoyable, I read it far too fast (in three days) so now I am going back through it more slowly.

A great Christmas gift for the genealogist in your family.

Free guide to DNA testing (for a few days only)

Richard Hill is a very fine writer. I could not put down the story of his search for his biological parents, Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA, which reads like a mystery novel.

He has put together an e-book, Guide to DNA Testing: How to Identify Ancestors, Confirm Relationships, and Measure Ethnic Ancestry through DNA Testing, available from Amazon, which is a very simple guide to personal DNA testing. Normally $.99, it is free through 12/16.

It will help you choose which test to take and why. It is only about 30 pages. It is not comprehensive but it does answer your basic questions. It is meant for those totally new to DNA testing not for the experienced. Although if you have tested, but still have many questions, they may be answered by this book.

This may also make a nice gift for relatives who are thinking of doing DNA testing.

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My Garden was on Today’s Tour

The Lakeside Historic Society Christmas Home Tour was today, Saturday, from 10 am to 2 pm and our home was part of it. You would have seen my garden plus a peek at the house via my sun porch.

View from the Cooper sun porch

View from the sun porch

​Bert and Marie Wilkas designed the house and hired a builder to draw up the plans and start construction in 1957. It was completed in 1958. The original address was Route 1, Box 317. ​It is a one story wood home in the style known as san diego modern in the 50s – extensive use of natural materials, wood, and large glass windows (actually french doors) on the view side.

Marie Wilkas had her real estate office in this house – Eucalyptus Hills Realty. Many of the Eucalyptus Hills properties were sold from that office. We still have her sign.

The rest of this post is a the detailed description of my garden and I am still adding photos. Continue reading