Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Going Down Memory Lane ~ My Storyworth Book

On Mother's Day 2022 my children and their spouses gave me a one-year gift subscription to Storyworth. Storyworth is a service that provides a way for people to write stories from their lives each week and then have these stories printed in a book.

Each week Storyworth sent an email to me with a question about my life. I could either answer that question or choose another question to answer. Storyworth included a list of question options on their website. For more question ideas I also turned to FamilySearch's Blog Post, 52 Questions in 52 Weeks: Writing about Your Life Has Never Been Easier. The way I did it was that before the questions were sent to me each week, I chose or even wrote a question that I wanted to answer that week.

My gift subscription includes a free black and white bound book with my weekly questions and answers about my life. A full-color option is also available, which is the route I'm choosing. The full-color option is not free, though, but will be discounted using the gift subscription.

My free gift subscription officially ended on June 6, 2023, but I had a 3-month grace period to finish up, which ended on September 6, 2023. I am in the final process of reviewing my book and will order it soon.

During the weekly question period of my gift subscription, I spent a lot of time going through mementos, my diaries and journals, my parents' diaries and journals, photos, letters, cards, etc. to answer my weekly questions. This was a labor of love and although it took a lot of time and effort, it was actually a lot of fun to look through my mementos, diaries, etc. It was also fun reminiscing with my brothers about our lives when we were growing up. I definitely went down memory lane during the time I was writing my life stories. And that phrase is how I closed each week's story: "Thanks for going down memory lane with me!"

I wanted to make my life stories fun and interesting, so I included lots of photos, diary entries, etc. My Storyworth book ended up being two volumes. I will need to pay full price for the second volume, but that's okay.

I hope that my descendants enjoy learning about me and my life from the pages of my Storyworth two-volume book.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jana Last

© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Friday, May 19, 2023

A Favorite RootsTech 2023 Class Session

One of my favorite RootsTech 2023 class sessions was "How to Milk a Source for All It's Worth" by Amy Johnson Crow. It was an excellent class. I highly recommend this class whether you are a beginning, intermediate, or advanced family history researcher. 

The description for this class is as follows: "If you’re finding a record, pulling out a fact, and then moving on to your next search, you’re probably leaving valuable clues behind. See how to get everything you can out of each source that you use."

In her class, Amy Johnson Crow pointed out that a source can help us with our immediate research and it has the potential to help us with ideas for other sources to research.

Using examples, Amy demonstrated how to get all the information we can from a source.

To view Amy's excellent class, click on the following link ~ How to Milk a Source for All It's Worth has provided great year-round learning opportunities on their website. In addition to Amy Johnson Crow's wonderful class, RootsTech has class sessions from multiple speakers, subjects, and RootsTech years available on the Video Library tab of their website. Here's the link to the RootsTech Video Library ~ RootsTech Video Library 

You can also search the full video library using search filters such as Speaker, Year, and Content Type. To search the On-Demand Video Library, click the following link ~ RootsTech On-Demand Video Library

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, April 13, 2023

My 11th Blogiversary

Oops! I missed my blogiversary again. Ugh! My eleventh blogiversary was actually on April 5th. Wow! It's hard to believe it's already been eleven years since I began this blog.


Thank you to my wonderful readers for taking the time to read my posts and for leaving comments over the years. I appreciate your support very much!


Here are my posts from the last year (since my last blogiversary).

I Did It! I'm a College Graduate! - May 9, 2022

My AncestryDNA Ethnicity Inheritance Results - July 13, 2022

RootsTech 2023 Influencer - November 1, 2022

Fun With the New MyHeritage AI Time Machine - November 19, 2022

Enter to Win a Free In Person 3-Day Pass to RootsTech 2023 - January 9, 2023

RootsTech 2023 Keynote Speaker ~ Jordin Sparks  - January 20, 2023

And the Winner of the RootsTech 2023 3-day Pass is... - January 23, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Saturday - March 15, 2023

Again, thank you for taking the time to read my posts!

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Saturday

Welcome to my RootsTech 2023 recap for Saturday, March 4, 2023. If you missed my RootsTech recaps for Thursday, March 2, 2023 and Friday, March 3, 2023, you can read them by clicking on these links: THURSDAY and FRIDAY. As I mentioned in my previous recap, I attended RootsTech 2023 virtually.

Saturday, March 4, 2023

My first class session on Saturday morning was "Expanding Your Family Tree with SideView and More AncestryDNA Innovations" presented by Crista Cowan. It was a great class! During her class she said, "So one of the things that I love about DNA is that when somebody shows up on your match list...I know that I'm related to those people. It's just a matter of figuring out how and then making that connection." She also said, "...I've learned that DNA is a little bit like learning a foreign language and the best way to learn it is by immersion." 

Crista shared that AncestryDNA is "the largest consumer DNA network in the world" with "23 million people who have taken the AncestryDNA test." She also explained, "Why is bigger better in this case? Because there is more opportunity for discovery." I am one of those 23 million people who have taken an AncestryDNA test. My mom did too before she passed away. I wish my dad had the opportunity to have taken an AncestryDNA test too, but he passed away in 2009 and AncestryDNA launched in 2012.

Crista spoke about two new features on AncestryDNA: SideView and DNA Compare. Using ethnicity inheritance estimates, SideView splits your DNA inheritance into two parts: Parent 1 and Parent 2. Then we have to decide who Parent 1 and Parent 2 is. For instance, here is my SideView on AncestryDNA.

It was pretty easy to determine my maternal and paternal sides because I already knew my dad was Swedish and Norwegian and my mom was from Brazil and had Portuguese ancestry.

DNA Compare can be accessed at the bottom of your Ethnicity Estimate. Crista explained that when you click on the "Compare my DNA" button, "it's going to bring up a list of your DNA matches and allow you to compare them with other people." Crista said, "it's automatically going to pull in your two closest matches." I tried this new feature, and it brought in my two closest matches which were my mom and one of my brothers. As you can see, you can add more people to your comparison. You can also change from comparing ethnicity estimates to DNA communities at the top of the page.

This class is available to watch on at the following link: Expanding Your Family Tree with SideView and More AncestryDNA Innovations.

Next up for me was watching General Session 3 featuring Sean Astin as the keynote speaker. Yes! That Sean Astin who played Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings! Yay!

It was such a great keynote address. The amazing emcee, Kirby Heyborne, introduced Sean Astin as "the nicest man on the planet." It was so wonderful to listen to Sean Astin on the RootsTech main stage. Regarding four of Kirby Heyborne's favorite Sean Astin movies, Kirby asked Sean Astin to tell him "one word, what they meant to [him]...what [he] learned, who [he] became because of that." And this was Sean's answer: Mikey from Goonies - Hope; Rudy - Grit; Samwise Gamgee - Home; and Bob from Stranger Things - Decent.

Paraphrasing, Sean Astin also shared that six of his eight great-grandparents immigrated from Ireland. And that the immigrant experience lives in his family. Sean also shared that one of his daughters, Ali, "about six or seven years ago discovered genealogy." She has traveled to relatives to do family history research. Amazing! Sean said he had sent Ali a text asking her why she loves genealogy. She wrote, "It's the way to learn about the ancestors that live on through me. We are the key to our ancestors' eternal life and through my children in a way I'll live forever so it's important to honor them." Wow! That is amazing! She continued, "I think we all repeat certain generational patterns and learning from my ancestry is the biggest cheat sheet to solving life's greatest problems."

After Sean Astin left the stage, a surprise guest appeared on stage, but first there was a touching video of her learning about her ancestry. That surprise guest was singer and actress, Adassa. You may recognize her as the voice of Dolores in the movie, Encanto. She treated the audience to her amazing vocal talent.

To hear Adassa's amazing singing voice and Sean Astin's keynote address, you can watch the General Session 3 at at the following link: General Session 3 with Sean Astin.

The next class session I watched was Judy Russell's "Follow the Money! Records of the Record Makers." It was an excellent class! Her class description is as follows: "Researching the lives of our ancestors takes us through a wide variety of census, land, tax, court, probate and related records. But conducting reasonably exhaustive research--the kind best designed to produce the results we need--means we not only have to find the records; we need to find the record-makers. By following the money trail to the doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, bankers, merchants and others in their communities who made and kept records may well lead us to details they recorded that no-one else did."

She recounted how the death information for her third great-grandfather was discovered in a diary of someone not related to her family. Regarding this discovery, she said, "There, in this diary, in this record kept by this record-maker is what I couldn't find anywhere else." That is amazing! So who are the record makers? She answered that question. They include doctors, nurses, midwives, lawyers, bankers, merchants, union leaders, business associations, schoolteachers, and more. She provided so much more information in her excellent class session. I highly recommend watching it at the following link: Follow the Money! Records of the Record Makers.

My last class session on Saturday was "Shared DNA Matches - the only DNA Tool You will Ever Need" presented by Diahan Southard." She shared the following statement: "You can find the ancestor that you are looking for using your DNA and one tool that's available at every DNA testing company." To watch this wonderful DNA class, click on the following link: Shared DNA Matches - the only DNA Tool You will Ever Need.

RootsTech 2023 was so informative and fun! I highly recommend watching and even rewatching the class sessions and the keynote addresses at

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

My RootsTech 2023 Recap ~ Friday

Welcome to my RootsTech 2023 recap for Friday, March 3, 2023. If you missed my RootsTech recap for Thursday, March 2, 2023, you can read it by clicking HERE. As I mentioned in my previous recap, I attended RootsTech 2023 virtually.

Friday, March 3, 2023

My first class session on Friday morning was Lisa Louise Cooke's "Reconstruct Your Ancestor's Lives with Google." It was a fantastic class! One of the things Lisa talked about was using Google Earth Pro to create a family history tour of our ancestors' lives. I really need to give that a try! She also shared that Google Earth Pro is now free and that it used to cost around $40. Wow! I highly recommend watching this class. It's available on the RootsTech website at the following link: Reconstruct Your Ancestor's Lives with Google.

Next up I watched the General Session featuring Me Ra Koh. She shared her inspirational story of her life. She is a famed professional portrait photographer who taught herself how to take photos. That's incredible! 

She said that she didn't find photography, it came and found her (paraphrased). After she finished her presentation, we all got to experience the incredible moment when Tamra Stansfield of FamilySearch presented Me Ra with her family history, including 32 generations of her Korean genealogy.

Me Ra said, "This is amazing." Among other responses to this incredible moment, Me Ra also said thank you and that she was stunned. It really was wonderful to witness Me Ra Koh receiving her genealogy. If you missed Me Ra Koh's keynote address, you can still watch it on at the following link: General Session 2

My next class session was "The Anatomy of a Story" by Crista Cowan. Of course, she was fantastic, as usual! She gave us the following (paraphrased) advice called Homework for Life: At the end of each day, write a couple words or a sentence about what happened that day. This is such great advice/homework. She also said that one of the first things she wanted to teach us about being a good storyteller is that we need to capture the information when we can because memories are faulty.

Crista also said "The greatest storytellers are those who listen to other people's stories." There is so much more that she shared in her class. It was a great class and I highly recommend it. You can still view it on the RootsTech website by clicking on the following link: The Anatomy of a Story

The last class that I watched on Friday was "How to Milk a Source for all It's Worth" by Amy Jonson Crow. This was an absolutely amazing class that was chock full of very helpful information. She said, "'s a good skill to have to be able to take whatever source we find, whatever source we are using and really be able to pull out all of the information that we can which will also not only help our immediate research but can also give us some wonderful ideas of other places we can look for even more sources." She also said, "We don't want to overlook any clues that are in a record." I highly recommend this class whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced family history researcher. To view this class on the RootsTech website, click on the following link: How to Milk a Source for all It's Worth.

Well, that's it for this RootsTech recap. I'll share more about my RootsTech 2023 experience in my next RootsTech Recap post. 

Thanks for stopping by!


© 2023 Copyright by Jana Iverson Last, All Rights Reserved



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