About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

14 hints for doing jigsaw puzzles or genealogy

1- if it doesn't fit,  it doesn't fit... Don't force it!
2 - work surface must be large enough to fit item but not so large as to require uncomfortable reaching 
3 - there are two different ways to approach doing puzzles: with or without the aid of the box cover; decide (with partners) which way you are going to do the process
     a.  if using the box, make sure it is available for everyone working on the puzzle to use it
     b.  if working "blind," plan for the process to take longer
4 - do straight edge pieces first to establish the boundaries (keeping it separate from other puzzle families) (From Sharon Sergeant)
5 - when working as a team, don't take over the part being handled by team mate(s) unless that person is agreeable for that or asks for help
6 - having time limits avoids working while exhausted (when mistakes occur and important pieces are overlooked)
7 - snack/meal breaks improve stamina, brain function, and motivation
8 - some comfortable listening music (according to personal taste) can help ease the soul when parts of the task are exceedingly difficult (all must agree on this, however)
9 - communication with the partner(s) helps work to be more efficient ("I'm looking for pieces with red and blue like this one") allowing the other(s) to assist by passing along the sought for piece
10 - if you have a term for a piece shape, be certain to let others know your terminology 
11 - check environment for fallen/overlooked pieces
12 - if a piece is apparently permanently missing, make note of it for the person or people who will work the puzzle in the future
13 - when the task is done,  it's done...don't forget to save (take a picture or otherwise record the accomplishment) and identify the date, time, place, etc. (cite sources and give credit where due)
14 - file your puzzle so that you can find it again for your use or to pass along to someone else


  1. Excellent ideas for puzzles and genealogy! I especially like #7 - when I research, I tend to work through without stopping for meal breaks - lol.

  2. very good! only thing I would add is a note that dogs do not help with jigsaw pieces or small papers/index cards with notes. LOL

  3. PERFECT correlation between puzzles and genealogy! I am sharing your blog with my cousins!

  4. I like this!! I have found a lot of information that "may" fit my family tree; I have observed to my husband that I 'must not discard any of the pieces until the puzzle is completed'! :)


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