Snoopy – Candy Window Installed

Snoopy and his doghouse

Finally coming up for air after a couple of weeks of total focus on finishing this years candy window. Last night was the unveiling and though we had some snags and challenges along the way Snoopy and his dog house look great. If you are in the Salt Lake Valley during the holidays let me know and I’ll give you directions to find the window. There are 8 other candy windows too, including my Frosty from last year. I only got a couple of pictures snapped. Hopefully I can get some more next week of Snoopy and the other candy windows too.

Christmas from A to Z at Festival of Trees

Part of what made this week extra crazy is that we donated the candy sculpture (Christmas from A to Z) I did two years ago to the Festival of Trees. It was in pretty bad shape and I spent 12 hours fixing it up. Good news is there were multiple bidders and it sold for about $650. All that money goes to Primary Children’s Hospital.

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The Many Mediums of a Story Project

DOABLE Sidebar DLet’s say that you’ve narrowed down your story project and have a good idea of what you want to do and why you want to do this story project, the next big question is what medium to do want to use to tell this story?

I’ll use my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor again as an example. I knew I wanted to do a story project about her and I had decided that I wanted to focus on her journey from England to Utah with the Martin Handcart company. I also knew that I wanted to do something that would be appealing to kids. I figured that if it was approachable for kids, adults would take time to learn about Mary Taylor too.

So looking at the 100 story projects post, and narrow it down. My first run through I deleted things that weren’t about her journey. That got me down to about 40 Then I deleted those that would not be very appealing to children. That took off about 20 more. Next I looked again at which ones would really tell the story of her journey and not just aspects of her experience and would appeal to kids ages 5 to 10. That got me down to the following list:

  1. make a story book with illustration of Mary’s childhood and journey to Zion (did that – it is so close to being ready to publish)
  2. make that story book into an ebook
  3. make that story book into an enhanced ebook with sound etc.
  4. make that story book into a video with narration and background music
  5. make a coloring book about Mary’s life (I could probably adapt the illustrations from “My Grandma Mary” for this)
  6. design surprise balls that tell a story about Mary Taylor
  7. make puppets to act out stories from Mary Taylor’s life
  8. make a video of the puppet show
  9. put together a story box about Mary Taylor

Looking at this more focused short list you could do some more brainstorming and ask yourself are there some different media that I could use to expand this list. Here are some extra ideas that come to mind:

  • make an animated video using claymation or other media
  • make paper dolls for the characters in Mary’s story
  • instead of having an adult illustrate the book have a child or children draw the images after learning about Mary’s story

The first five could be grouped together, because in completing the first one (make a story book), much of the work is already done for the next three. It is sharing it and enhancing it in different ways. Using different media. In some ways the story box could be the final end of several story projects about Mary Taylor all with the goal in mind of creating a story box about her life and/or her journey to Utah in 1856. The box could contain the story book and/or ebook, video etc, a coloring book, puppets and a script or scripts to perform or a video, and a surprise ball as a kind of summary of Mary’s story and trinkets to remind the kids what they learned about their ancestor. That would be really cool.

I didn’t make this list when I started the story book about Mary’s journey, but if I had I would then need to choose which story project to do first. The story box would be out because it is more appropriate as a long-term goal. Someone with more experience with puppets and script writing might pick that as a first project. But since my experience is mainly with books I would probably still pick that as my first project. Even the color book idea is a natural extension of the story book. If I was more comfortable with video that could be the starter project and then the book would be taken from still of the video. There are lots of options and mediums. Which one or ones you choose depends on you, your talents, your interests and your resources. The story book project turned out to be perfect for me because my niece was on board to illustrate it.

Does this example help you to see how to take a long list that you have brainstormed and narrow it down. There is not one right answer for a story project. Follow your intuition and move forward. This can be a fun process so let it inspire you. Then keep that vision alive as you take the many steps to complete your story project.

I’ve been inspired by this brainstorming exercise, I hope you have too. Now it is time for you to do something similar for your next story project!

 

100 Story Project Ideas

DOABLE Sidebar DThere are so many types of story projects. Let’s use one of my projects as an example. Many months ago I decided I wanted to learn more about my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor and share some of that with my family. This has lead to several story projects about her that I’ve already done and many more that I would like to do. I’m sure there are even more that I haven’t even thought of yet. Let’s see how many different story projects I can come up with about Mary Taylor:

  1. go to Martin’s Cove for a hands on experience (did that)
  2. make a video from our experience in Martin’s Cove
  3. make a simple book to share with family about her life and her journey with the Martin handcart company (did that)
  4. build a handcart replica
  5. live for one day or even one meal on the rations that the Martin Handcart company had
  6. reenact the journey of the Martin Handcart company from its start in Liverpool England to its arrival in the Salt Lake Valley
  7. build a diorama of Coton-on-the-Elms
  8. build a model of the ship Horizon
  9. follow the journey of the Martin Handcart company day by day in 1856 (did that)
  10. make a serial graphic novel based on the experiences of the hardcart pioneers
  11. share it to coincide with Mary’s journey to Zion
  12. travel to England the area that Mary grew up
  13. write about my experiences and share it with my family
  14. use google earth to take a virtual journey to Mary’s birthplace
  15. use google earth to follow Mary’s journey with the Martin Handcart company
  16. make it into a video to share with others
  17. using google earth create a virtual scavenger hunt about Mary’s life and the places she has been
  18. make a story book with illustration of Mary’s childhood and journey to Zion (did that – it is so close to being ready to publish)
  19. make that story book into an ebook
  20. make that story book into an enhanced ebook with sound etc.
  21. make that story book into a video with narration and background music
  22. using family members make a video about Mary Taylor
  23. make a music video with Mary favorite song “The Handcart Song”
  24. learn the Mary’s childhood song “In the Merry Green Fields of Oland” similar to “Old McDonald
  25. make an illustrated video of “In the Merry Green Fields of Oland”
  26. make an illustrated children’s book inspired by “In the Merry Green Fields of Oland”
  27. create a board game inspired by the handcart pioneers
  28. learn and then teach how to play the game “Going to Zion”
  29. learn to make simple toys from Mary’s time and share them with my family
  30. make a video game inspired by the experiences of the handcart pioneers
  31. Gather photos of all the known possessions of Mary Taylor and put them into a book form to share with family, including stories about each item
  32. also share that book as an ebook
  33. learn about cooking in the late 19th century in England and Utah
  34. make how to videos to share what I learn
  35. make a cookbook with recipes that Mary probably cooked
  36. learn homemaking skills for the late 19th century
  37. learn about dressmaking in the 1850s
  38. learn about the French surge dress we have that Mary made
  39. create a modern-day pattern for her dress
  40. create craft and/or home decor ideas using Mary’s dress making skills
  41. make a quilt about Mary’s Life
  42. make a quilt about the Martin Handcart Company
  43. make patterns for those quilts to share with others including the stories behind the blocks chosen
  44. learn about the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when that Mary joined the church in England
  45. watch “Seventeen Miracles” and/or other pioneer movies as a family
  46. organize a Mary Taylor descendants reunion
  47. compile all the descendants of Mary Taylor into a book
  48. make a Facebook page for the descendants of Mary Taylor
  49. design a charm necklace/key chain in honor of Mary Taylor
  50. visit Mary’s grave site
  51. visit all know locations that she lived
  52. do a “decades” book about Mary’s life
  53. do something everyday for one year to honor Mary
  54. compile those experiences into a book
  55. compile those experiences into a video
  56. write a book about what Mary has taught me
  57. design surprise balls that tell a story about Mary Taylor
  58. create a memory jar in honor of Mary and/or my experiences learning about her
  59. put together a story box about Mary Taylor
  60. make a music cd inspire by Mary Taylor including “The Handcart Song”, “In the Merry Green Fields of Oland” and other songs from the late 19th century
  61. make a shadow box about Mary Taylor (I’ve sort of done this with a tea-cup that was hers but there is much more that I could do)
  62. make a coloring book about Mary’s life (I could probably adapt the illustration from “My Grandma Mary” for this)
  63. give a gift basket inspired by Mary Taylor – include other story project like “My Grandma Mary” in the basket
  64. make a memory wreath about Mary Taylor
  65. make an old-fashioned Christmas wreath inspired by Mary Taylor with decoration from the late 19th century
  66. make a doll house inspired by one of Mary Taylor’s homes
  67. research the history of each of Mary’s last names: Taylor, Upton, Simmons and Robinson
  68. put together a book about Mary’s names
  69. find any coat of arms from Mary’s history or design a coat of arms inspired by her life
  70. make t-shirts inspired by Mary Taylor
  71. find and/or create maps about Mary Taylor’s life
  72. make a calendar for the coming year with all the important dates in Mary Taylor’s life
  73. celebrate Mary Taylor’s birthday
  74. make a trivia game with facts about Mary Taylor and life in the late 19th century
  75. make an audio record of stories about Mary Taylor – recruit family members to help with this project
  76. make puppets to act out stories from Mary Taylor’s life
  77. make a video of the puppet show
  78. pick one of Mary’s home and research the history of that spot
  79. make duplicates of the photo we have of Mary Taylor and make sure everyone in the family has a copy
  80. create a collage about Mary Taylor
  81. make a Christmas ornament with Mary Taylor’s photo
  82. make or find Christmas ornaments like those common in Mary’s Life time
  83. plan a Christmas meal similar to what Mary Taylor would have enjoyed
  84. decorate your house and/or Christmas tree in the way in would have been done in the late 19th century
  85. make flash cards about Mary Taylor’s life
  86. make flash cards about the Willie and Martin Handcart companies
  87. make a memory game inspired by Mary Taylor
  88. gather family traditions from the late 19th century and choose a few to make a part of your traditions in honor of Mary Taylor
  89. keep a record of your new family traditions so that future generations will know where they came from
  90. set up a photo shoot inspired by the late 19th century and invite family members to get their photos taken
  91. compile these photos into a book to share with everyone
  92. make an advent calendar inspired by Mary Taylor and/or the late 19th century
  93. make a puzzle with Mary Taylor’s picture or a collage or a set of puzzles from the illustrations in “My Grandma Mary” book
  94. make a family tree that shows the connection between Mary Taylor and each family member
  95. make a Christmas card inspire by Mary Taylor (did that)
  96. make a time capsule with all the things we all the Mary Taylor story projects
  97. write a song about Mary Taylor and what she means to me
  98. make a family planner with facts about Mary Taylor and important dates in her life
  99. make an infographic about Mary Taylor
  100. have “Mary Taylor” come for dinner

Most of these idea could be applied to your ancestor and there are many more story project ideas that you could come up with. There is no shortage of ideas. The challenge is to choose one and make it happen. Remember to start with smaller simpler projects.

Did my list inspire you? If you don’t already have a story project you are working on, I challenge you to decide on one today.

Mary Book – Text

Mary and her mother in England

Here is my current text for the children’s story book about my great-great grandmother, Mary Taylor. It has come a long way but I want to revisit it after Brandy Heineman finishes her series on storytelling for genealogists. I’m sure her posts will help me make the text for my book even better.

Grandma Mary, will you tell me a story?

Of course, Irene, what story would you like to hear?

Tell me again, Grandma Mary, about when you were little, like me.

OK, I’ll tell you. I had a happy childhood. My grandmother would tell me stories too. I was an only child because my sisters and brother died when they were tiny babies. I was rather delicate when I was young and I was raised on milk tea. Close your eyes, Irene, and imagine you could travel back in time to when I was a little girl, just your age.

I grew up, far away, across the ocean in England, in a cozy village with lots of beautiful Elm trees. That is why we called it Coton-in-the-Elms.

But Grandma Mary, that sounds like there was cotton in the trees. I don’t see why that was the name of your village.

Irene, in the English way of speaking coton means cottage or little house, so Coton-in-the-Elms means cottage in the Elm trees.

Grandma Mary, tell me about when the missionaries came to your village.

Oh, Irene, that was a glorious day. I was just a little older than you when the missionaries came. They taught us about Jesus and Heavenly Father’s visit to the Prophet Joseph Smith. We also read more about Jesus in the Book of Mormon. My family believed what the missionaries taught and we were baptized in a nearby river.

Was the river cold, Grandma Mary?

No, it was July when I got baptized and the water felt good. Plus I felt all warm and happy inside. It was the Holy Ghost telling me I was doing the right thing.

Grandma Mary, tell me about how you learned to make such beautiful dresses.

When I got older I learned to sew from my uncle who was a tailor. It took me a long time to learn to be a dressmaker. I was lucky because when I met, and then married, a handsome young man named William Upton, I could make my own wedding dress.

William and I dreamed of going to Zion far away from Coton-in-the-Elms in America. In Zion they were building temples to the Lord and we would be with many other saints. Plus we could hear the Prophet speak the words of God. Sometimes the people were mean to us because we had joined the church. But we didn’t have enough money to go to Zion.

Then, Irene, a most wonderful thing happened. The Prophet Brigham Young came up with a plan to help Mormons like me and my family go to Zion for less money. We would pull handcarts, instead of needing horses or oxen to pull wagons. So in May of 1856 me and my family sailed with lots of other Mormons on the ship Horizon from Liverpool England to Boston in America.

What was it like on the ship, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, it took many days for us to sail across the ocean and some days the seas were rough making everyone seasick. There were more than 800 of us going to Zion so it was crowded. We kept busy sewing the tents we would soon be using as we crossed the plains and we sang songs. The children played as quietly as they could but with so many people it was often very noisy.

As we got closer to America, the ship was surrounded by thick fog. We were scared because we couldn’t see, but all the saints prayed and the fog parted just in time for the ship to avoid an iceberg. The fog closed around the ship again but there were no more icebergs and we were safe.

What happened, Grandma Mary, when you finally got to America?

I remember how excited I was when I finally stepped off the ship in Boston. It felt so good to be on solid ground again, yet our journey to Zion wasn’t over yet. We all climbed into train cars that had been used for cows to get to Iowa City. It wasn’t very comfortable but we were moving toward Zion.

One night when the train was stopped a mob of angry men surrounded us as we slept. They were mean and wanted to hurt us because we were Mormons. The Lord blessed us and the mob left without hurting anyone.

Another night in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a fire. That was scary too, but the saints helped to put the fire out and everyone was safe.

Tell me about after the train ride, Grandma Mary.

By the time we got to Iowa City and the end of the railroad tracks, it was really hot. We began the really hard part of our journey to Zion. We had been traveling for more than two months but we had a long way to go yet to reach the Salt Lake Valley. Me and my family loaded up a wooden handcart with our few belongings to begin our journey across the plains.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Indians along the trail. I was excited and scared at the same time because there were stories about Indians hurting people. But these Indians just looked at us, they didn’t hurt us. I was so grateful. Later in our journey, at Fort Laramie, we saw more Indians and the kind Indian children shared candied fruit with the pioneer children.

Grandma Mary, was it hard?

Yes, Irene, it was hard work. It was so different from our life in England. But we were going to Zion so each day I walked, pushing and pulling with my mother, father, husband and cousin in the Martin handcart company. Gradually we got used to it. Each night twenty of us slept together in a big round tent with our feet toward the middle and we cooked over fires.

But there were good times too. When we were camped by a river, the children had fun swimming. It was so good to see children, just like you, having some fun. We had much to do each night in camp. We gathered wood or buffalo chips so we could make our fires. The handcart would break and need to be fixed. And we were getting worn down. Time was running out to get to Zion before winter came so we traveled as far as we could each day.

What was it like Grandma Mary, walking day after day, pushing and pulling a handcart?
It was a long hard journey so I would sing the Handcart Song. The words and the melody helped me continue one step at a time. We didn’t have enough food to make it to Zion. So Elder Franklin D. Richards, an apostle, road ahead in a fast carriage, to tell the Prophet that the handcart pioneers needed help and more food. We prayed everyday for help to come and we kept pushing along as fast as we could go toward Zion.

Grandma Mary, tell me about crossing the icy rivers.

We had to cross many icy cold rivers to reach Zion. I remember the day we crossed the Platte River. The weather had turned from hot to cold in just a few days. It started to snow and we had to wade across the river through the cold water. It was so cold that I even saw ice floating in the river. Everyone was hungry including me. We worked hard every day and the cold made it worse because there wasn’t much food and we had to make it last as long as possible. I felt hungry everyday. But I walked and pushed and pulled anyway, just like everyone else, so that I could reach Zion.

What about the help that Elder Richards promised to send, Grandma Mary?

Well Irene, we didn’t know this but hundreds of miles away in Salt Lake City, Elder Richards arrived in time for General Conference and told Brigham Young about me and the other handcart pioneers. He said we needed food and help to make it safely to the Salt Lake Valley. The prophet told the men to gather food and wagons and then go and find us on the plains. Then he ended church early so everyone could help get the wagons ready to go.

Tell me, Grandma Mary, about the man who rescued you.

Well Irene, a righteous man named Burt Simmons already had a stout carriage full of food and ready to go. He and many others followed the Prophet’s directions and quickly left Salt Lake to help me, my family and the other pioneers. They hurried as fast as they could to reach us before winter came. But they didn’t make it before the snow because it came early that year.

How did you keep going, Grandma Mary, not knowing when help would come?

I prayed all the time, Irene. All of us did. I was so hungry and so cold. There was lots of snow and it was hard to pull our handcarts. We didn’t have enough to eat. Some people died, including my mother, my father and my husband. I was so sad but I knew I had to keep moving on toward Zion. The snow was so deep that we had to stop for a few days in a place now called Martin’s Cove. Soon Burt Simmons found me and he and other rescuers helped all the pioneers make it to the Salt Lake Valley. I was so weak and my feet were frozen. I don’t remember much about that part of the journey.

Grandma Mary, how did you get better?

Burt Simmons drove me in his sturdy carriage to his home where his wife took good care of me. It was a long time but she nursed me back to good health and even saved my feet from the frost bite. Many others lost fingers, toes and even feet because they were frozen. After several months I was strong again.

I love that story Grandma Mary. You are so good, noble and kind. I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Thank you, Irene. The Lord has blessed me. I’ve been married in the temple and have nine children, your mother being the youngest. Plus I have 57 grandchildren. I still remember what it was like to not have enough food to eat so I never waste any food, not even a potato peel. I’m so happy that I can tell you about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father and how they have blessed me.

Grandma Mary, I’m so glad that you are my grandmother. Because of you the Lord has blessed me too.

I’m open to suggestions on my text. I feel very inadequate to write the text but I’m dedicated to making this project the best that I can.

Another Illustration for the Mary Book

I thought I would share the latest illustration for our Mary book project. This illustration is of Brigham Young telling the people in the Salt Lake Valley about the handcart pioneer in need of help. It is exciting to be making steady progress on getting this book finished. My mom turns 90 in a couple of months and this will be a major part of her birthday.

I’ve been working on the text and made some major changes to it which I think will make it more interesting. Plus during a brainstorming session we came up with the idea of having an image to search for in each illustration which relates to another story from the Martin Handcart company. The back of the book will give the images to search for and the little story. I think I’ll post the text on my next update.