Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ireland's 1911 and 1901 Census Records

I'm finally getting back into my genealogy research. I've been viewing the 1911 Census records. I really don't get much out of them as I have all of my family information from this time. Both my grandparents are listed. It is kind of neat to view them though.

I'm really looking forward to the 1901 Census records. They are due to be digitized in late 2009 through mid 2010. I cannot wait.

My Finegan's were still in Co. Monaghan at this time and I really don't have much on them. They came to America between 1904 and 1911. So, I have my fingers crossed that once these records are up that I will uncover some more family facts.

View records and info here: http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie/about/index.html

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Irish Heritage & Culture Stories Needed

So far behind but I wanted to pass along Lisa's next Carnival deadline.


Start writing your family stories for the next Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture. I better get going too.

Colleen Degnan Johnson


Monday, August 31, 2009

Finegan and Larkin Discovery

I've been away from my genealogy research this summer establishing my face painting business, Fantasy Face Painting. It's taking off but I recently felt that old tug. So, I got down to business and started to look at my family chart once again.

I decided to concentrate on Patrick Finegan, my maternal great grandfather. From his wedding and death records, I know the names of his parents (Peter Finegan and Mary Boyle). One thing to keep in mind, is that the name keeps flip flopping in records from Finegan to Finnegan.

About a year or so ago, I did uncover Patrick Finegan's ship record. Within this record, I gained 2 gold nuggets. One was his origin (Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, Ireland) and the other was a sibling (his sister, Mary Finegan). Until the ship record, I didn't know either fact. I didn't know of any siblings.

My quest was to find out more regarding Patrick's sister, Mary Finegan. A very interesting quest indeed.

Come to find out, Ms. Mary Finegan decided to marry her sister-in laws' elder brother. Not just any sister-in law. She married the brother of Patrick's wife, Margaret Larkin Finegan! Can you believe that I didn't know this gem? So, Patrick's sister, Mary Finegan, married Margaret Larkin Finegan's brother, Michael Larkin. Are you confused? LOL

They also lived within spitting distance of my great grandparents and their children were the same ages of my grandfather and his siblings. So, where did they go? They didn't go anywhere. They all lived and worked in RI. There must have been a fight somewhere along the line because none of us know them. They would be/and are my mother's second cousins. For heavens sake, I know my second cousins and they live an ocean away still in Ireland.

Well, I'm just happy to have uncovered a missing part of the family for now. I don't have all the facts but I do have some.

Michael Larkin born Jan. 3, 1884, Co. Longford, Ireland (haven't found death record yet)
Mary Finegan Larkin born Sep. 24, 1884, Co. Monaghan, Ireland and died Apr. 1974, Prov., RI

John F. Larkin born 1911, RI
Mary T. Larkin born 1913, RI
Rosella H. Larkin born 1915, RI
Harold J. Larkin born 1917, RI
Michael T. Larkin born 1919, RI died prior to 1930
Thomas J. Larkin born 1921, RI
Raymond P. Larkin born 1923, RI
Vincent P. Larkin born 1925, RI

I'll keep looking and see if I can't find more about this family.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, 14th Edition, Vacations

This edition focuses on vacations whether you've travelled to the emerald isle or just dream of the special day when you can. I'm honored that Lisa has asked me to host this edition. I hope that I do the Carnival justice. Thank you Lisa for this privilege.

So, let us start our trip to Ireland.....

Our first obstacle for travelling to Ireland is how we all must get there. Bill West describes his fears and dreams over at his blog, West in New England. I truly hope you overcome your fears and see the many shades of green Bill.

Once you conquer your travelling fears, you can enjoy your trip just as Donna Moughty discovered recently. Follow her adventure researching genealogy, visiting cousins and taking beautiful photos over at Donna's Genealogy Blog. There are several entries. I chose to link her whole blog and not just one specific journey. Incredible shots and information Donna!

The Beara Peninsula is calling to Janet Iles from Ireland's distant shores. See why Janet would like to visit this area which also includes a great link in her post at Janet the Researcher. Thank you for taking the challenge Janet and I hope you get to Co. Cork soon.

Susi Pentico has written a lovely little poem over at Susi's Chatty Performances on Genealogy. Definitely worth a lyrical read.

Over at Little Bytes of Life, Elizabeth shares how she's teased by her hubby and dreams of a big green airplane. Is wool really necessary? Yes, according to Elizabeth it is and she wants the whole package.

Although I've been to Ireland several times, I do have a very special dream vacation posted at CMJ Office. I sure hope dreams do come true.

Well, all good things must come to an end and so must our vacations and dreams of vacations. I hope everyone enjoyed reading.

Next up: Lisa will be posting the 15th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture at the Small-Leaved Shamrock on September 2nd. The theme for this next edition is 'The 2nd Annual Small-Leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge'. Send your posts in by August 30th to Lisa. See you there.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One More Day

I'm waiting one more day until I post the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture, 14th Edition.

Blog posts are slow during the summer months. Enough reminders are out and about now.

If you'd like your Irish vacation or Irish dream vacation blog post included, please send it on over to me. Thanks.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Irish Dream Vacation

14th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture: Vacations

I've written previously about my love of western Ireland specifically the Cliffs of Moher. You can read it again along with viewing an awesome video clip here: http://cmjoffice.com/blog/2008/03/03/the-clune-family-from-tierlaheen-county-clare/.

For this edition, I am writing about my desired vacation to Ireland.

Yes, I have been to Ireland several times. However, I've always travelled to and stayed with my cousins on the farm that my grandmother was raised on. My dream vacation is to be able one day to travel to Ireland with my husband and three children. I want to show my children Ireland especially where their ancestors once walked.

I have a couple of places in mind:

1. The Cliffs of Moher (of course)
2. Ennistymon (Tierlaheen - my Clune, Larkin, Hogan, and O'Loughlin families)
3. The Burren
4. The Knock Shrine, County Mayo (my Donahue family)
5. Longford County (my Larkin, Reilly, McWade and Degnan families)
6. Monaghan County (my Finnegan and Boyle families)
7. Rock of Cashel

Above represents the absolute 'musts' for my family dream trip to Ireland. Of course, along the way I plan to see the green, eat the chips, take in some hay, get some perfume in the Burren, say some prayers in Knock, visit with friends and family, do some Finnegan research, and watch my kids enjoy themselves! Someday this trip will come true. I can't wait.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Irish Vacations - 14th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

The 14th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture will feature Irish vacations.

Here are the details:

Summer is the time for vacations – going on adventures and visiting new places. The upcoming edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture will focus on Irish vacations. Share with us vacation spots you’ve visited (in Ireland or places with an Irish flavor) and your photos and memories from those vacations. If you don’t have a particular vacation you’d like to share, tell us about the Irish place where you would like to go if you had the chance.

Deadline for submissions (http://blogcarnival.com/bc/submit_2848.html) to the Irish Vacations edition of the carnival is July 26, 2009. This edition will be published by me right here on my blog, CMJ Office, on July 29, 2009. If you'd prefer, you can submit your articles directly to me at: Colleen@CMJOffice.com.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ernest Leroy Whitney continued....

(story continued....)

Ernest was the oldest of a family of three boys: Ernest, Arthur and William - and of three girls: Hatie, Luela and Eula. Ernest and his brother, Arthur "Art", were the only family members to travel west.

Arthur and his wife Mamie returned to Vermont when their eldest son, Arthur Jr., was full grown. Arthur Jr. remained in Kansas and worked for his uncle Ernest.

When WWI broke out, Arthur Jr. joined the Army and went overseas. He returned to America, mustered out and started for home. He disappeared somewhere enroute. Family members never heard from him again. (I did a little research and found Arthur. He was living in Colorado in 1920 as a laborer. In 1930, he was living in Michigan. In 1932, he was living in a WI home for disabled soldiers with a residence of Chicago, IL. His social security death index lists his death as June 1966 in Pueblo, Colorado. I'm not sure why the family never heard from him again.)

About 1920, Ernest traded a team of young horses for an old Chevy touring car. He did not get much pleasure out of it as they had no paved highways in that part of the country at that time. He was not a very good mud driver. On a trip to Topeka to the State Fair, they met a herd of cows in the road. They were forced into a ditch. Ernest had to get a team of horses to pull the car out.

One year, Leon (Ernest's son) drove Ernest to the annual Melvern picnic in Ernest's chevy. On the return trip, Ernest told Lee he would get out and open the gate for the cows to be corraled to get milked. Ernest stepped off of the car before it had come to a complete stop and was thrown on his back. The next day Ernest began to bloat and never recovered. Ernest had to quit the farm and move to town (Melvern).

Ernest passed away he following spring in 1922. They diagnosed his illness as cancer of the liver. He was 67.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ernest Leroy Whitney

Ernest Leroy Whitney
January 23, 1855 Vermont
1922 Kansas

Ernest was born in a small town, Rochester, Vermont, near the green mountains to William and Arvilla Whitney. He was the oldest of six children, three boys and three girls. While they were growing up on the farm, they learned to fish, hunt, trap and sail boats on the beautiful lakes.

In the year 1863, William (the father) joined the Union Army and went to war. Fortunately, at the end of the Civil War, he returned home with no serious wounds. Ernest was then about ten years old. He soon became a good hand to help with the chores and farm work. In the winter, he and his father hunted and trapped together for furs and meat for the table.

At age 20, Ernest attended the National Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, PA. He bought several mementos and sent them home to his youngest sister, Eula. Some of these are still in the family.

As Ernest grew older he began to experience a desire to go west and see the great plains of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. One morning, he climbed aboard a train pulled by a coal burning engine with a big smoke stack and headed for Williamsburg, Kansas. This is where an old neighbor, Jerry Hussey, had homesteaded a quarter section of farm land. Ernest went to work for Mr. Hussey on the farm. He stayed a year or more before returning to Vermont.

After visiting a short time with his folks and old friends and neighbors, Ernest returned to the Hussey farm. During the winter, they worked in the woods clearing the timber and brush so they could cultivate it. The logs were used to build houses, barns and fences. The limbs and small branches were used for heating and cooking fuel. He also mined coal out of the hills on Tequa Creek, which flowed through that part of the country.

Ernest soon met and married Ellen Patrick. She was a neighbor girl who had recently come to Kansas from Indiana with her widowed mother and large family of brothers and sisters. Ernest built a log cabin on the Hussey farm. The couple proceeded to raise a family of five boys and two girls: Lloyd Leroy, Ershel Ray, Clifford Claude, Orion Glen, Leon Kenneth, Anna Arvilla and Laura Calista. They all lived to be grown and have families of their own.

(story to be continued.....)

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some Unknown Facts About the Civil War

An interesting article was just published on CNN and I wanted to share it with everyone.

A few of these I knew, but others I did not. It's a good read. Enjoy!


I'm not too sure that I'd pull a Mulan. I'm too much of a chicken to fight.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Life of Clifford Claude Whitney

This is my husband's paternal great grandfather. The following is a story from Ershel R. Whitney, Cliff's brother.

"Clifford was born January 30, 1888. He and I (Ershel) grew up together and became very close. We played together, fished, hunted, trapped, fought for each other and became inseparable. Clifford remained on the farm for several years after I went to work in Kansas City. After he and his girlfriend had an argument of some kind, he sold his stock, came to Kansas City, and went to work in the car repair department for the Milwaukee Railroad.

After Cliff had worked on the "Rip Track" for a few months, the foreman told him the company was going to send some men to the main office in Milwaukee to take examinations for Firemen. He wondered if Cliff would like to go? Like most youngsters, Cliff thought it was the fulfillment of a boyhood dream. However, for some reason, he quit the "Firing" job after a few months. He and a friend went to work for a farmer near Nortonville, Kansas, a short distance north of Kansas City.

He had been there only a short time when a country doctor from that community called me by telephone and informed me that Cliff had appendicitis. He asked me to come and see him. I caught the first train. After talking a few minutes with the doctor, we decided that I should bring him to Kansas City with me. Our M.D. did not agree with the diagnosis and gave him an enema. In a few days, he went home with dad, Ernest Leroy Whitney, who had come to the city to be with him. In a short time, he had recovered completely. (Sounds like he had an appendicital stone which Brian just went through.)

Cliff later fell in love with a young girl, Mae Rogers. He married her and went to work on the section for the Santa Fe Railroad at Lyndon, Kansas. They later moved to the farm adjoining the Old Home Place where they reared a family of three girls: Hazel, Frances (grandma), and Freda.

After feeding cattle for several years, Cliff decided to go into the dairy business and bought a herd of Guernsey cows. For this purpose, he borrowed money from the Melvern State Bank. He gave them a mortgage on the herd for security. During the depression, the bank took bankruptcy and he lost the herd. He continued to work the farm for several years.

Cliff was the kind of guy who would neglect his own welfare to help someone who needed assistance. During the last illness of uncle Judd, his mother's brother, who was about 90 years old, he left his job and went to help Mitta take care of him. Mitta was uncle Judd's only child. He didn't leave until after the funeral.

When WWII broke out, I (Ershel) was having trouble keeping clerks in the store. I wrote him and suggested that if he could come and help me out, I would put him on the payroll. He came and stayed with me until I retired in 1956.

Some time later, Cliff decided to go to the Kansas Masonic Home in Wichita where he was very happy. He stayed until his death on January 6, 1963. He was 74 just shy of 75."

I have more stories from great uncle Ert. I'll be posting them soon.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, June 11, 2009

1911 UK Census Info

I am sooo far behind with my blogging. Here is some info that I just received from the 1911 UK Census Team from their newsletter.

All Welsh counties now available.

We are pleased to announce that all 13 Welsh counties are now available on 1911census.co.uk:


These records contain a total of over 2.4 million individuals, and over a million households.

Search for your Welsh ancestors on the 1911 census now

As the 1911 census is the first where household schedules were preserved, you will find that some of the census returns are printed and completed entirely in Welsh, while some are written in a mixture of Welsh and English. To help those who are not native Welsh speakers, we have added a site section of useful tips, and have provided translation tables to help you translate the most common Welsh census terms into English.

The tips will also help you narrow down your search results if you happen to have an ancestor with one of the most frequently occuring names, such as Jones or Evans, or one who worked in one of the dominant industries such as farming or coal mining.

Our profound thanks to Geoff Riggs and the members of the Association of Family History Societies of Wales who have supplied the Welsh translations. We are very grateful for their time and effort, and are sure that users of the site will benefit greatly.

Good luck with your Welsh research.

I hope this new info helps all those researching their past in Wales.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Easy Vegetable and Rice Soup

I usually don't have recipes on here unless they relate to my ancestry. I have to make an exception with this soup.

I'm not the most creative person in the kitchen but I think this creation is pretty good. Give it a try if you like. It only takes 30 minutes.

Here's what you need:

1 Birds Eye Steamfresh Southwestern Style Rice
1 Del Monte can of Diced Tomatoes with Garlic and Onion
1 Can of Corn
1 Can of Green Beans
1 Summer Squash
1 Onion
1 Can of Campbells Condensed Tomato Soup

Here's what you do with those ingredients:

In a stock pot, add the tomato soup and then fill the can up two more times with hot water adding that to the pot also. Turn the burner on high. Dice up and add the onion and squash. Steam the bag of rice in the microwave (takes 5 minutes). Dump the corn, green beans and diced tomatoes into the pot. Stir. Now add the bag of rice to the soup. Stir again. Make sure the soup is boiling. Once it's boiling, turn the heat to low (simmer) and cover for 20 minutes.

You're done and it tastes great!

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

County Clare Video

Here's a great video of County Clare. Blackie does a great tour even passing through Ennistymon. It's the town a couple of miles down the road from grandmother's farm.

Check it out here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, May 22, 2009

Germany's Remains

My great uncle, William Degnan, served in WWII. This photo is a recent discovery for me.
He sent some pictures home to his older brother, my grandfather, from Germany after the fighting was over.
As you can see, he wrote notes around the edge of the photo. From the left, he states the he is in the photo (next to second column from the left in a shadow). You can barely make him out.
His next statement is: "This picture gives you some idea of what Germany looks like now."
Doesn't look like we left much standing over there. What a mess!
To all those that served and are serving, thank you and Happy Memorial Day!!! Let's not forget them and their families.
Colleen Degnan Johnson

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Names of My Ancestors

Post for the 13th Edition, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.

A list of Irish names with my family: Degnan, Finnegan, Clune, Donahue, Larkin, O'Loughlin, Hogan, McWade, Galvin, Conway and Boyle.

Yes, I've got quite of bit of Irish in me. I can tell you that most of my family followed the Irish tradition of naming the first born children after their grandparents until my parents' generation.

The family has a fair share of the following first names: Patrick, Thomas, Michael, John, Peter, Matthew, Mary, Margaret, Ann, Bridget and Rose.

Degnan: A byname from dubh ‘black’ + ceann ‘head’, ‘chief’. Now, there is an absolutely fabulous site regarding my maiden name, Degnan, that is out on the web via Siobhan-Duignan Burke. So, instead of rewriting the history of the O'Duibhgeannains, I will just link to it here. It describes quite a bit regarding the Degnan family as they were the scribes of Irish history. My Degnan's come from County Longford.

Clune: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Glúin, a patronymic from the personal name Glún. This is either a byname meaning ‘knee’, or else a short form of various Old Irish compound personal names such as Glúnfhionn meaning ‘fair-kneed’ or Glúniairn ‘iron-kneed’. My Clune family is from County Clare.

Finegan/Finnegan: A shortened Americanized form of Irish Ó Fionnagáin ‘descendant of Fionnagán’. Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Finn ‘descendant of Fionn’, a byname meaning ‘white’ or ‘fair-haired’. This name is borne by several families in the west of Ireland where my Finegan's originated - County Monaghan. My Finegan's came to this country in 1905 as Finegan's with one 'N'. Once my grandfather was born in 1907, the name was switched to Finnegan with two 'N's. No one knows why this change occured.

Larkin: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Lorcáin ‘descendant of Lorcán’, a personal name from a diminutive of lorc ‘fierce’, ‘cruel’, which was sometimes used as an equivalent to Lawrence. My Larkin's come from County Longford.

Donahue: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Donnchadha ‘descendant of Donnchadh’, a personal name (sometimes Anglicized as Duncan in Scotland), composed of the elements donn ‘brown-haired man’ or ‘chieftain’ + cath ‘battle’. My Donahue's come from County Mayo and I'm sad to say that I don't know much about them.

O'Loughlin: Irish (Ulster and County Clare): Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Lochlainn ‘descendant of Lochlann’. A personal name meaning ‘stranger’, originally a term denoting Scandinavia (a compound of loch ‘lake’, ‘fjord’ + lann ‘land’). Many Irish bearers of the name claim descent from Lochlann, a 10th century lord of Corcomroe, County Clare. This is where my family comes from - County Clare.

Hogan: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó hÓgáin ‘descendant of Ógán’, a personal name from a diminutive of óg ‘young’, also ‘young warrior’. In the south, some bearers claim descent from an uncle of Brian Boru. My Hogan's come from County Clare.

Glavin: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Gláimhin, from a diminutive of glámh ‘satirist’. My Glavin's are from County Cork.

Boyle: Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Baoithghill ‘descendant of Baoithgheall’, a personal name of uncertain meaning, perhaps from baoth ‘rash’ + geall ‘pledge’. My Boyle's are from County Monaghan.

McWade/McQuade: Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Uaid ‘son of Uad’, Gaelic form of the personal name Wat. My McWade family is from County Longford.

Conway: Anglicized form of various Gaelic names, such as Mac Conmidhe; Ó Connmhaigh or Mac Connmhaigh (‘descendant (or son) of Connmhach’, a personal name derived from connmach ‘head-smashing’), also Anglicized as Conoo; and Ó Conbhuide (‘descendant of Cú Bhuidhe’, a personal name composed of the elements cú ‘hound’ + buidhe ‘yellow’). My Conway family is from County Clare.

These definitions were obtained from Ancestry. They, in turn, get them from the Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Discovered Ticket to America

Completely AWESOME find. My great grandfather's Inspection Card that he received upon entry to America from England.

You can see his name listed: Richard Bench.

Date of departure: 24 November, 1909.

Port of departure: Liverpool.

Name of ship: Friesland.

Last residence: Smethwick, England.

I absolutely love this find. I cannot believe that it has survived this long in an old photo album. Pretty cool to think this was handed to him over a hundred years ago and to see what immigrants were handed as they entered into the country.

Colleen Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Mother's Day Weekend

1944 Cranston, RI

Anna Clune Finnegan (my grandma) and Mary Finnegan Degnan (my mom)

Love you both!!! My mom is spending this mother's day in Ireland where her mom was born and raised. It is her first time over there. I hope she is enjoying herself and wish I could be with her visiting my cousins.

I can assure all of you that I cannot wait to hear what she thought and see the pictures!!! Hoping that she found some genealogy stuff for me.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Are They Really Experts?

Great question in my opinion.

There are so many individuals scattered about on the web claiming to be experts at one thing or another. Some are and some are not. Tread the waters carefully.

I believe most are piranhas. One of the easiest things to do if you cannot make it within your industry is to hang a sign out stating that you are an expert. Once they make that claim, these vultures charge a person for their advice whether it's good, bad or already widely known.

So, how does one decipher through the garbage and scams?

1. Make sure the program, lecture, article, book, etc., is not outrageously priced. I'm sorry; but if something is out of the ball park, the game is over and these people are looking for you to pay their way through life.

2. Research this so-called expert. Make sure they are who they say they are within their industry. Do they have the right to claim they are an expert?

3. Read what they are offering. If the offer is something that you don't need, don't bite.

4. Think about what you're paying for and decide if it is truly worth the cost. Is the value there?

5. Avoid the hype. Don't jump on board just because others are jumping. Listen to your inner voice. In other words, don't be a follower.

You can find experts on the web. Usually they share some valuable information along with their wares. Once you see and understand that they have valuable knowledge, you should move forward and reap the benefits.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Degnan Brothers

Funny picture of my dad and his brothers taken around 1949 in Pawtucket, RI.

Pictured: Kevin Degnan, Leo Degnan Jr., Buttons the dog, and Richard Degnan (a.k.a. my dad)

I guess my dad really loved his cowboy outfit! Anyone see Tonto or the Lone Ranger?

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

1919 Degnan Photo

1919 Dorchester, MA

Degnan children: Leo (my grandfather), William and Margaret (Ruth was born in 1920)

I'd like to know how my great grandmother, Lillian Brown Degnan, got those children to sit still and look so good for that picture.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Social Networking Business Manners

Many business owners have lost clients due to their lack of social networking manners.

How? Loose comments, innapropriate language, photos and the like are only a few explanations.

With the advent of social networking sites, business owners have a great source of advertising at their fingertips. However, they must remember to stay professional even when socializing on a personal level.

Manners make a difference in attracting and distracting clients whether they are new or old.

You can mix business and pleasure on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Biznik and the like. Just remember that when you switch gears from business to socializing with friends to be on your best behavior where your comments and photos are public.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Monday, April 20, 2009

Salisbury Beach

1936 in Salisbury Beach, MA

My paternal grandparents Julia Bench Degnan and Leo F. Degnan relaxing in the sun.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, April 17, 2009

Janetta Taylor Brown

I'm not sure when this picture was taken. I'm guessing it was during the 1930s in Massachusetts.
Pictured: My paternal grandfather, Leo Degnan, and his maternal grandmother, Janetta Taylor Brown. She was originally from Digby, Nova Scotia.
Colleen Degnan Johnson

Monday, April 13, 2009

Proofreading Web Sites

A couple of rules apply when proofing or having your web site proofread.

1. Check your site over more than once.
2. Have someone else read your content.
3. Always check your own material even if you hire a proofreader.
4. If you're going to hire a proofreader, hire someone that has a proven record or is in the business. Don't hire your web designer's wife.

You should look for the following:

1. Incorrect spellings
2. Missing punctuation
3. Missing words
4. Check the tense
5. Formatting errors (extra spaces, missing spaces, etc.)
6. Style problems (Don't switch around your style. Stay true to your design.)

Run through your content for each of the above separately. It will make finding an error easier.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, April 10, 2009

Verlin Gragg

Verlin Benjamin Gragg
Feb. 4, 1915 KS
Mar. 26, 1987 TX
Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Excuses, Excuses

Yep, I have them. I've been pretty quiet over here at CMJ Office while I've been concentrating on getting my other business off the ground.

I'm happy to report that Fantasy Face Painting is making great progress and booking into May.

I will get back to posting within the next 2 weeks.

Thanks for following CMJ Office.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, April 6, 2009

Happy Birthday to my Hubby and Baby Sister

Happy 42nd to my hubby, David Johnson, and Happy 30th to my baby sister, Diane Degnan.
Colleen Degnan Johnson

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Jolly Cholly's Funland

This is a painting of the old Jolly Cholly's Funland in North Attleboro, MA.

The picture above is what is left of the park's entrance sign. Very sad in my opinion.

This was a very popular park but has been closed since 1979 and most of it is a vacant lot except for a few buildings that host condominiums. After thirty years I would think something would be built on the remaining land.

Jolly Cholly's Funland
171 East Washington Street
North Attleboro, Massachusetts

Operated from 1950s to 1979.

History: The park occupied 12 acres. The Ferris Wheel, Kiddie Whip, Merry-Go-Round, kiddie boats, kiddie buggies and Sky Fighter were added in 1959 and in 1960 the roller coaster, Roadway ride and 1865 Train were added.

My dad was there quite a bit throughout his youth as he was from Pawtucket, RI and lived nearby. In fact, after one of his family visits my grandmother discovered she had diabetes. My father stated that they were driving up to her cousins house in Cambridge, MA, when she had her first attack. What brought it on? The monster of a hot fudge sundae that she had at Jolly Cholly's.

I remember loving my visits to the park even though it closed when I was only 9. I especially loved their mile long hot dogs. I did have one bad experience there. I lost my favorite red spring jacket at the park. My first 6 skating badges were sewn onto it's sleeves and I remember crying for days over that loss. My poor mother!

It definitely was a great place once upon a time. If you'd like to see some pictures from 1959 of Jolly Cholly's, check this site out. The current picture and info used can be found here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

George W. Goings

George W. Goings was my husband’s great-great-great grandfather. He was born in 1818 and lived until 1900. The following is a historical document detailing his life. His only surviving daughter from his first marriage, Barbara, married Joseph C. Johnson in Iowa on December 21, 1873.

GOINGS, George W. — (Washington Twp.) Farmer and stock-raiser, Sec. 15, P. O. Marengo. Was born in Ohio on the 25th day of December, 1818, and when six years of age removed with his parents to Indiana, where he was raised. After completing his education he learned the trade of stone-cutting and followed it for seven years, when, on account of ill health, he was obliged to give it up. Then he engaged in farming and followed it there until the summer of 1849, when he came to this county, being one of its pioneers. He is the owner of a fine farm of 288 acres, well improved. Has a good location for his residence, four miles northwest of Marengo. Mr. Goings has been twice married. First, in Indiana, in October, 1846, to Miss Susanna Wood. By this union they had eleven children of whom one is living. His second marriage was in this county, to Miss Mary J. Norris. They have five children, two boys and three girls. (p. 661.)

I love finding detailed histories.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bridget Clune O'Looney

Bridget Clune O'Looney

31 August 1915 Tierlaheen, Co. Clare, Ireland
28 June 2001 Tierlaheen, Co. Clare, Ireland

This is my maternal great aunt and she was lovely. When I first visited Ireland, she truly made me feel as though I were home. She reminded me of her older sister, my grandmother.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Comma Rules Part V

The finale to my Comma Rules Series.

Rules 17 through 21

Rule 17. Use a comma to separate a statement from a question.

Example: I can go, can't I?

Rule 18. Use a comma to separate contrasting parts of a sentence.

Example: That is my money, not yours.

Rule 19. Use a comma when beginning sentences with introductory words such as well, now, or yes.


Yes, I do need that report.
Well, I never thought I'd live to see the day . . .

Rule 20. Use commas surrounding words such as therefore and however when they are used as interrupters.


I would, therefore, like a response.
I would be happy, however, to volunteer for the Red Cross.

Rule 21. Use either a comma or a semicolon before introductory words such as namely, that is, i.e., for example, e.g., or for instance when they are followed by a series of items. Use a comma after the introductory word.


You may be required to bring many items, e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.
You may be required to bring many items; e.g., sleeping bags, pans, and warm clothing.

NOTE: i.e. means that is; e.g. means for example

See previous rules as follows:

Part IV is here.
Part III is here.
Part II is here.
Part I is here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, March 20, 2009

Is this Margaret Donahue Maher Bench?

I recently received some photos from my uncle that were buried within my grandfather's attic. This was one of those photos.

It was unmarked. I'm guessing that this could be a photo of my paternal great grandmother, Margaret Donahue Maher Bench. She was born in Ireland around 1875 and died in Cambridge, MA in 1935.

She's a mystery to me. I found her marriage record to my great grandfather in Chicago, IL. They were married in January 1913 at St. Elizabeth's. She's listed as Margaret Maher so she must have been previously married. Her maiden name is Donahue as stated on her death certificate, as well as my grandmother's birth certificate.

On her death certificate, her father is listed as John Donahue. That's all I know about her.

If your a Maher or Donahue researching her, please contact me. I'd love to fill in the blanks.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Comma Rules Part IV

Here are Rules 12 through 16.

Rule 12. Use a comma to separate two strong clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction--and, or, but, for, nor. You can omit the comma if the clauses are both short.


I have painted the entire house, but he is still working on sanding the doors.
I paint and he writes.

Rule 13. Use the comma to separate two sentences if it will help avoid confusion.


I chose the colors red and green, and blue was his first choice.

Rule 14. A comma splice is an error caused by joining two strong clauses with only a comma instead of separating the clauses with a conjunction, a semicolon, or a period. A run-on sentence, which is incorrect, is created by joining two strong clauses without any punctuation.


Time flies when we are having fun, we are always having fun. (Comma splice)
Time flies when we are having fun we are always having fun. (Run-on sentence)


Time flies when we are having fun; we are always having fun.OR
Time flies when we are having fun, and we are always having fun. (Comma is optional because both strong clauses are short.)


Time flies when we are having fun. We are always having fun.

Rule 15. If the subject does not appear in front of the second verb, do not use a comma.


He thought quickly but still did not answer correctly.

Rule 16. Use commas to introduce or interrupt direct quotations shorter than three lines.


He actually said, "I do not care."
"Why," I asked, "do you always forget to do it?"

See previous rules as follows:

Part III is here.
Part II is here.
Part I is here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I hope all enjoy St. Patrick's Day!

Here is the Our Father in Gaelic. I remember well my grandparents saying this prayer.

Our Father/Ár nAthair:

Ár nAthair atá ar neamh,
go naofar d'ainm
Go dtaga do ríocht
Go ndéantar do thoil ar an talamh mar a dhéantar ar neamh.
ár n-arán laethúil tabhair dúinn inniu
Agus maith dúinn ár bhfiacha
Mar a mhaithimidne ár bhféichiúnaithe féin
Agus ná lig sinn i gcathú ach saor sinn ó olc.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 16, 2009

Irish Soda Bread - The Real Thing

I love this site and highly recommend it!

So many people irk me with their incorrect recipes for Irish soda bread. It's a simple bread folks. There aren't any raisins, sugar or other fancies within it. It's just bread but it's good.

Here's the ingredients and the recipe:

4 cups (16 oz) of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
14 oz of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees.

Lightly grease and flour a cake pan.

In a large bowl, sieve and combine all the dry ingredients.

Add the buttermilk to form a sticky dough. Place on floured surface and lightly knead (too much allows the gas to escape).

Shape into a round flat shape in a round cake pan and cut a cross in the top of the dough.

Cover the pan with another pan and bake for 30 minutes (this simulates the bastible pot).

Remove cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

The bottom of the bread will have a hollow sound when tapped. This means that it's done.


Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sister Mary Peter working in Southern Australia

I am searching for any information regarding Sister Mary Peter. She was part of the clergy who worked in Southern Australia during the 1960's and the 1970's. She was either born in Ireland or England.

What was her family name or birth name? Well, that is the million dollar question! I believe this woman was either an aunt or cousin to my grandmother, Julia Mary Bench Degnan.

This could take us down the road to the Bench relations from Birmingham, England; or this could take us towards the Donahue family from Ireland. My father seems to believe that Sister Peter was a Donahue relation. So, she would be a sister to Margaret Donahue Maher Bench or a niece which would make her a first cousin to my grandmother.

I find it nearly impossible to believe Sister Peter was an aunt to grandma. Why? Mainly due to the years that I am researching. I remember clearly receiving a First Communion gift from Australia and that was in 1976. Margaret Donahue was born in Ireland around 1876. This could be her sister but highly unlikely. This takes me down the cousin track which makes this more difficult.

If anyone has any ideas for searching Sister Mary Peter or has any info on her, please let me know. I really don't have much. I don't know what order she was in but do know that she was Catholic due to the crucifix within this picture.

Thanks for any help or information. Sorry that the picture isn't clearer but my scanner is on the skids.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Irish Scones

Here is a great video that shows you how to make Irish scones.

The recipe calls for the following ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces margarine (1 stick/a quarter pound) - I'm bad. I use butter.
2 hands of sugar
3 hands of sultanas (raisins)
1 cup (1/2 pint) of milk
1 egg

You will cook these scones at 400 degrees for 10 minutes - turn them - cook for another 5 minutes. Cool them for 15 minutes.

Watch the video to see how you mix the ingredients and prepare the scones for cooking.


Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Comma Rules Part III

Comma rules 7 through 11 follow:

Rule 7. Use commas to surround degrees or titles used with names. Commas are no longer required around Jr. and Sr. Commas never set off II, III, and so forth.

Example: Al Mooney, M.D., knew Sam Sunny Jr. and Charles Starr III.

Rule 8. Use commas to set off expressions that interrupt sentence flow.

Example: I am, as you have probably noticed, very nervous about this.

Rule 9. When starting a sentence with a weak clause, use a comma after it. Conversely, do not use a comma when the sentence starts with a strong clause followed by a weak clause.

Examples: If you are not sure about this, let me know now. Let me know now if you are not sure about this.

Rule 10. Use a comma after phrases of more than three words that begin a sentence. If the phrase has fewer than three words, the comma is optional.

Examples: To apply for this job, you must have previous experience. On February 14 many couples give each other candy or flowers. OR On February 14, many couples give each other candy or flowers.

Rule 11. If something or someone is sufficiently identified, the description following it is considered nonessential and should be surrounded by commas.

Examples: Freddy, who has a limp, was in an auto accident. Freddy is named, so the description is not essential. The boy who has a limp was in an auto accident. We do not know which boy is being referred to without further description; therefore, no commas are used.

Rules 4 through 6 are here and the first three rules can be found here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Irish Stew the Anna Clune Finnegan Way

My grandmother, Anna Clune Finnegan, was an amazing cook. In fact, that is how she was employed when she reached the United States. She lived and cooked for a judge and his family on the east side of Providence, Rhode Island.

I love this Irish stew. It was passed down to my mom and then to me. It has become a family tradition and I'm happy to report that my children (very picky eaters) have embraced this too.

You can make this stew with either lamb or beef. My grandmother always did this with lamb but I use beef. It's good either way.

Irish Stew

1-2 pounds cubed stew beef or lamb
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons veggie oil
6 cups hot water
3 bay leaves
4 potatoes - cut
6 carrots - diced
1 onion - chopped
1/2 cup celery
season with salt and pepper to taste

(I have added corn and green beans to this stew for my family [1 can each - I try to cook quickly]. You can add whatever you'd prefer. To keep it Irish, you would only use the meat, potatoes, onions and carrots.)

1. Roll the meat in the flour while heating the oil in your 5 quart pot.
2. Brown the meat in the oil and drain.
3. Pour the hot water into the pot with the meat. Heat setting should be high.
4. Add the bay leaves and seasonings.
5. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer with lid on for 2 hours. Stir every 15 minutes.
6. Add veggies and continue to simmer for one more hour.

You can add flour to thicken your stew.

I hope you enjoy!

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 9, 2009

St. Patrick and the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

Saint Patrick - A posting for the 12th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.

St. Patrick was not Irish. The patron saint of Ireland was born somewhere in the British Isles between 385-460 A.D. His confession provides us with most of his personal information. Of course, this information or confession was given when St. Patrick was elderly.

Raiders came across the Irish Sea to Britain. They abducted and enslaved the sixteen year old. Because he had broken the Commandments, he believed God was punishing him. St. Patrick began to pray to God. After six years in captivity, St. Patrick states that he had a vision of fleeing to a nearby ship which he quickly did. This ship brought him to western Europe where he began to study and continued to pray.

St. Patrick decided to return to Ireland to save and convert the Irish people from their paganistic ways.

Paganism was a central part of life for the Irish people. Like other cultures around the world, the Irish had rituals for different seasons, many gods, sacrifices and lived in close-knit clan communities.

St. Patrick began his missionary work teaching the Irish about the bible, the holy trinity and the importance of literacy. Most of the Irish were illiterate at this time. Reading and writing became very important to the Irish.

All of Ireland mourned when St. Patrick passed away. His body was prayed over for twelve days and is believed to be buried near the River Quoile in Downpatrick, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Ireland has always loved St. Patrick because of the love he showed them. Most Irish families have a great many relatives named after this great saint born out of their faith which St. Patrick taught them.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Friday, March 6, 2009

Photo Friday and Rumina Hancock Reeder

Okay, this isn't the greatest photo but it is very old.

Rumina Margaret Hancock Reeder

born 10 March 1834 in Cadiz, KY
died 29 June 1915 in Rosemont, KS

She is my husband's maternal g-g-g grandmother and mother-in-law to Emma Rebecca Griffin Reeder who was featured last week.

My fascination keeps growing with this woman merely due to the fact that her father was named John Hancock. I need to research this further.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Buried Upright

Interesting Irish Fact -

To be buried upside down may be an unusual request, but Samuel Grubb (1750-1815), owner of the beautiful Castle Grace in County Tipperary, insisted on being buried upright so that come judgement day he’d be ready to go! The perpendicular grave is just south of Clogheen heading onto the slopes of Sugar Loaf Hill in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Comma Rules Part II

The first three rules can be found here.

Here are three more rules that will fend off comma happiness.

Rule 4. Use commas before or surrounding the name or title of a person directly addressed.


Will you, Aisha, do that assignment for me?
Yes, Doctor, I will.

NOTE: Capitalize a title when directly addressing someone.

Rule 5a. Use a comma to separate the day of the month from the year and after the year.


Kathleen met her husband on December 5, 2003, in Mill Valley, California.

Rule 5b. If any part of the date is omitted, leave out the comma.


They met in December 2003 in Mill Valley.

Rule 6. Use a comma to separate the city from the state and after the state in a document. If you use the two-letter capitalized form of a state in a document, you do not need a comma after the state.

NOTE: With addresses on envelopes mailed via the post office, do not use any punctuation.


I lived in San Francisco, California, for 20 years. I lived in San Francisco, CA for 20 years.

Stay tuned for more comma rules. Yes, there are more. In fact, there are 21 all together.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, March 2, 2009

Proofreading Tips Part II

Proofreading is essential in business. Your image and success depends on it. Remember, proofing materials don't only include brochures and the like. You need to proof your web site, blog and social networking sites. Online profiles are often overlooked. Don't let that happen to you. The first five tips are located in an earlier post.

Here are the final five proofreading tips:

6. Come to the table fresh. Do not start proofing your copy at midnight. Keep distractions to a minimum. Turn the TV, music, or cell phone off. Proofreading does require focus and concentration. Make sure your lighting is adequate. Dim and flickering lighting should be avoided.

7. Check formatting. Format errors are those little mistakes you find that involve fonts, spaces, extra tabs, page numbering, headers and footers, inactive links and the like. These errors can creep up on you.

8. Double check facts. Check important information within your copy. Make sure your information is the most current and accurate.

9. Read backwards. Reading backwards can help you focus on the words and not get distracted by meaning. Start from the last sentence and read until you reach your first sentence.
10. Tackle tables separately. Check your index or table of contents one by one to avoid missing typos in these vital areas.

These tips should help any business owner with their proofreading skills. It pays to use your time and energy wisely when proofing business material. If you don’t, you could be confronted with an embarrassing situation or a waste of money. Proofreading effectively can save your business image.

Have you ever embarrassed your business image with a proofreading error?

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, February 27, 2009

Photo Friday and Emma Rebecca Griffin Reeder

Emma Rebecca Griffin Reeder

born 25 June 1878 in Cameron, MO
died 13 July 1923 in Harris, KS
She was my husband's maternal great great grandmother.
Colleen Degnan Johnson

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Proofreading Tips Part I

Proofreading can be tricky but it is essential. We are all human and no one is perfect. Typos happen to the best of us. If your business depends on the written word, make sure you follow these ten quick and simple tips to help eliminate those pesky grammar and spelling mistakes.

The first five tips are as follows:

Read and re-read. Make sure that you read your material carefully and more than once. If necessary, print off a copy. Some people find it easier to proof if they can highlight a hard copy.

Take your time. Time is money but not when proofing. Take it slowly. If you write quickly, chances are that you will jump over thoughts and miss jotting down important words. If you must write a thought down quickly before you lose it, just remember to go back over your work later.

Speak your words aloud. Sometimes we can read silently to ourselves and fill in words that aren’t actually there. When reading aloud, this may still occur but the chances are that you will discover the skipped words.

Check your spelling. Software capabilities make it so much easier nowadays to catch spelling and grammatical errors. Utilize these functions. They lessen the burden on your own eyes. Do not depend on these tools. Software spell checkers cannot detect a misplaced or duplicated word in a sentence when it is spelled correctly.

Get a second pair of eyes. Have someone else look over your copy. It is amazing how much can be missed when you are absorbed in the material. When someone else looks at your copy for the first time, they can spot the smallest errors glaring out at them. Get a friend if you cannot hire a proofreader. For example, a second pair of eyes can find a double ‘it it’ when it should read ‘it is’.

Stay tuned for Part II.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

JoLyn from Uphill Both Ways has given CMJ Office the Kreativ Blogger award. This is a great honor for me and a thrill!

I now get to pass it on to seven of my favorite bloggers....

Lisa of Smalled-leaved Shamrock
Bill of West in New England
Kathryn of Looking4Ancestors
Holly of Holly Anthony
Dawn of Egghead-VA
Becky of Grace and Glory even though she's already been nominated - I love her blog!

Be sure to visit them all!

Here are the rules connected with the KreativBlogger Award:

1. Copy the award to your site.
2. Link to the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate 7 other bloggers.
4. Link to those sites on your blog.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you nominate.

Congratulations to all - and thanks again, JoLyn!

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Friday, February 20, 2009

Photo Friday - Margaret Larkin Finnegan

This is a picture of my maternal great grandmother.

Margaret Larkin Finnegan
14 July 1878 in Gaigue, Ballinamore, Co. Longford, Ireland
8 Mar 1961 in Cranston, RI, USA
She married Patrick Finegan on 14 Nov 1906 in Providence, RI, USA. For some reason, the name developed a second 'N' in Finnegan after 1907. Prior to that, it is listed everwhere with only one 'N' in Finegan.
Colleen Degnan Johnson

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Comma Rules

Comma happiness drives me crazy. I've mentioned it before and I'll mention it again. I love the Blue Book of Grammar. I'll be sharing the 21 Comma Rules in English here for the next several Wednesday blogs.

Here are the first 3 rules:

Rule 1. To avoid confusion, use commas to separate words and word groups with a series of three or more.

Example: My $10 million estate is to be split among my husband, daughter, son, and nephew. Omitting the comma after son would indicate that the son and nephew would have to split one-third of the estate.

Rule 2. Use a comma to separate two adjectives when the word and can be inserted between them.

Examples: He is a strong, healthy man. We stayed at an expensive summer resort. You would not say expensive and summer resort, so no comma.

Rule 3. Use a comma when an -ly adjective is used with other adjectives.

NOTE: To test whether an -ly word is an adjective, see if it can be used alone with the noun. If it can, use the comma.

Examples: Felix was a lonely, young boy. I get headaches in brightly lit rooms. Brightly is not an adjective because it cannot be used alone with rooms; therefore, no comma is used between brightly and lit.

Keep watching each Wednesday for the next 18 rules.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office
Fantasy Face Painting

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Free Seminar - Exercising Your Personal Brilliance for Innovation

SEMINAR: Exercising Your Personal Brilliance for Innovation
Presented by: Jim Canterucci, MyPersonalBrilliance.com
DATE: Thursday, February 19, 2009
TIME: 5 p.m. PST - 6 p.m. MST - 7 p.m. CST - 8 p.m. EST
DURATION: 60 minutes (call in 10 min. early to secure your seat)

WHO SHOULD ATTEND? This class is open to all Virtual Assistants, small/boutique business owners, solo professionals, solopreneurs and independent professionals. Invite your business buddies! If you know some folks who would like to attend, feel free to copy and paste the contents on this page, and post invitations on the forums, listservs and groups you participate in.

When you're faced with a situation where you have to come up with and implement great ideas, and you can… that's Personal Brilliance. To most, innovation is a process executed at "special" times when we need to break new ground. Ironically, at those times, we're usually too rusty to be innovative. Why should we save our best efforts for rare occasions?

Brilliant people never get out of practice—innovation is a habit. It's easy to find these people. In all walks of life, they're the most satisfied, ingenious (regardless of natural intelligence), and high achieving.

The four catalysts to Personal Brilliance are awareness, curiosity, focus and initiative. By developing these natural traits, you will cultivate the habit of innovation in your life, both at work and at home. This will empower you to succeed—by your standards and on your terms—in your occupation and education, as a parent, in personal relationships, and while pursuing your interests.

The "Exercising Your Personal Brilliance for Innovation" teleseminar lays out a dynamic and effective plan to: Harness the power of awareness, curiosity, focus, and initiative; break through the barriers that stop us from achieving our greatest potential; make personal innovation part of our everyday lives; and stretch beyond our comfort zones to embrace positive change.

In Jim's session, based on his bestseller "Personal Brilliance, Mastering the Everyday Habits that Create a Lifetime of Success", we will go beyond creativity to innovation. Learn how developing your habit of innovation can enhance results in your life. You'll benefit and so will the clients you serve!

Sign up for the seminar here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Monday, February 16, 2009

Promoting Your Blog

Blogging is easy. Blogging does not generate traffic easily. You need effort for that. If you want people to view your blog, you will have to work to establish attention. I have put together some tips about generating traffic to your blog. So, let’s explore some tips on promoting your blog.

Link your blog to all your profiles on the web. Add your link to your website, your signature line, forums, and any correspondence you may have. You also want to add this link to your profile pages on SUN, Stumble, Ryze, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, AIM, Twitter, Facebook, Squido and anywhere else you have a profile established. If you have profiles on Classmates or on an alumni directory, add a link to your profile on these sites. Blogging is all about linking. Don’t miss an opportunity to promote your blog.

Drop comments. Post comments to other blogs as early as you can. People always see the first 5 posts. Sometimes they do not stick around to view post 152. Post often to get your name out there and into view. If people keep reading informative responses, they will click on your link because you’ve gotten them curious. Leave comments on other blogs in your target market or interest areas. It’s always good for networking and for marketing your own blog and business. Other bloggers and viewers will then click onto your link to view your blog. This is what you want.

Check your blog stats and see who is visiting your blog. Google Alerts is just one program you can use to receive updates on when your business is mentioned online.

Submit your blogs. Submit them to such venues as a Blog Carnival. This is a great resource that many people forget or just don’t know about. There are many and the subjects are varied.

Get your blog onto a directory. Technorati springs to mind. It seems that everyone knows about their company directory right now. However, there are more companies out there. Here are a few to consider: BlogHub, BlogHer, and BlogCatalog.

Again, these are just a few tips that I’ve come across. There are many ways to promote your blog. You just need to remember that you need to work to gain the traffic. You cannot just write a blog without promoting it.

So, how do you promote your blog? Did I miss anything? Let CMJ Office know.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, February 13, 2009

Photo Friday

Happy Friday the 13th!!!

This is a picture of Franklin M. Reeder (1873 KS -1958 KS). He died 19 days after his daughter, Nellie May Reeder Boyer, died.

He worked as a farmer in Osage County, KS, and then as a coal miner in Franklin County, KS.

He is my husband's maternal great-great grandfather.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Position Descriptions

I have witnessed time and again the lack of position descriptions especially for the office staff. It seems that some small business owners have them and some do not. While some small business owners do have position descriptions, some of them do not utilize them.

Position descriptions are a valuable tool for any business. They alleviate discrepancies, unaccomplished work, confusion within the office, and co-worker rivalry. These are just some of the problems that I’ve witnessed while virtually assisting small businesses.

Position descriptions describe the employee’s duties and responsibilities. This is essentially how the employee receives your expectations for their work performance. This resource protects the business owner in many situations.

How might a business owner utilize a position description you might ask?

For starters, you can use a position description to fulfill yearly review obligations. Yes, your employees should receive yearly job performance reviews. This is something else I have noticed slipping to the side in some small businesses. How else will your employee and you gauge their performance? This does not need to be a lengthy and time consuming process. A yearly review can take 15-30 minutes and cover all your expectations and reviews while receiving employee feedback.

You may use them to address work performance, whether exemplary or poor. Position descriptions are extremely easy to use regarding employee performance. It should all be laid out. Follow the position description as a guide for your review. An employee cannot argue that they were unaware of a job duty if it is written in ink.

Up-to-date position descriptions also help a business owner when hiring new employees. New employees will not need to keep asking you job related questions if they can refer to an informative position description. They save time and energy.

If you have a multi-level position within your company, how to attain each level should be addressed within the position description. For example: Head Secretary – Office Manager – Business Assistant. Each stage of this job should be explained completely in the position description. You may also have three separate position descriptions for this one job. Each separate position description would list all additional responsibilities and how to attain (be promoted to) the next level of the job. Phases can be attained through years of experience, job knowledge, added responsibilities, or a combination of all these categories.

Once you have well developed and maintained position descriptions, your employees will know what duties to perform. Hopefully, this helps work flow smoothly within the office. Position descriptions really do help keep disgruntled employees at bay and they protect your business.

Remember, position descriptions are good for you and your office.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Monday, February 9, 2009

Easy Feng Shui for Your Office

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese science of balancing the energies of any given space to assure the health and good fortune of the people inhabiting the space. To help you get started with Feng Shui in your office, follow these rules and you’ll soon be functioning more effectively and with less stress!

Organize. Remove clutter on and around your desk and office for a clean flow of energy.

Desk Placement. Sit in the corner farthest from the entrance to the room to have a “command” position. Sit with your back toward a wall or corner for support while facing the room’s entrance; but your chair must not be directly in line with it.

Computer Location. Your computer should go in the north or west area of your office to enhance your creativity; or put it in the southeast if you use it to generate income.

Aquariums/Fountains. Place aquariums and fountains in the east, north or southeast. A small aquarium with black or blue fish in the north area of your desk or office will activate your business and career success.

Lighting. Provide good, comfortable, non-glare lighting. Of course, natural light is best.

Mirrors. Avoid mirrors in the office.

Decorative Elements. Decorate with plants, land and seascapes.

Balance. Use a good balance of yin and yang when decorating your workspace. Be sure to balance light and dark colors, soft and hard surfaces, and smooth and rough textures in your choice of window treatments, furniture and flooring.

Plants. Place a money tree, jade or prosperity plant in the southeast corner of your desk or room.

Focal Point. Have a red or purple focal point in your office or on your desk (opposite your chair).

Be Grateful. Before you start work each day, give thanks for your blessings, prosperity and abundance. Give to receive. Share generously with others.

A great source for more information on Feng Shui can be found here: Feng Shui Dos & Taboos, by Angi Ma Wong.

About my guest author: Angela Wycoff is the entrepreneur, Virtual Assistant, and CEO behind Focus Administrative. Focus Administrative prides itself on providing expert administrative, marketing and design support services to entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to the next level.

I hope everyone enjoyed this guest author's article. I found it fascinating. Thanks Angie for allowing me to post it here.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bob Doyle and the Irish Brigade

Bob Doyle, the last member of the Irish Brigade in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), died in London last month.

Check out this great article describing his life.

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Friday, February 6, 2009

Photo Friday and Warren Oliver Gragg

Warren Oliver Gragg or Gregg depending on which record you're viewing.

Born 2 October 1880, Culver, Ottawa Co., Kansas and died 9 September 1960, Lyndon, Osage Co., Kansas.

This picture was taken in Kansas during the late 1940s. He is my husband's maternal great grandfather. He looks rather sweet in my opinion.

Colleen Degnan Johnson, CMJ Office

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Around the Kitchen Table

This post is for the 3rd Edition of the Canadian Genealogy Carnival.

My great grandmother's family (Brown) came down from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts during the 1890s. The maple cookie recipe traveled with them and has evolved into the following.

Ingredients for Maple Cookies:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
granulated sugar for rolling/coating


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or place parchment down. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, syrup and vanilla mixing until well blended. Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir into mixture until well blended. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in the sugar. Place on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly.

Bake 8 minutes in the preheated oven. Let cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Possessive Apostrophe

It's Wordie Wednesday and time for a grammar review again care of the Blue Grammar Book.

Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show singular possession.


one boy's hat
one woman's hat
one actress's hat
one child's hat
Ms. Chang's house

NOTE: Although names ending in s or an s sound are not required to have the second s added in possessive form, it is preferred.

Mr. Jones's golf clubs
Texas's weather
Ms. Straus's daughter
Jose Sanchez's artwork
Dr. Hastings's appointment (name is Hastings)
Mrs. Lees's books (name is Lees)

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office

Monday, February 2, 2009

Powerful Presentation Tips

I have sat through numerous meetings, conferences and seminars. Some just seem to drag on and on, while others are truly fantastic. So, what makes that difference? How do you make your presentation powerful?

Be yourself and show some personality. A monotonous tone droning on and on will not do. People want you to do well and they want to connect with you. Let them see the real you and allow your natural vocal inflections to flow into your speaking pattern.

Speak up and project your voice. Many people suffer from nerves in front of large groups and their voice level tends to drop. Unfortunately, nothing is more irritating to an audience than having to strain to hear. If you're in a hall or large room, be sure to test the sound system before the presentation begins. Avoid unnecessary words such as “um” and “like” which can also become grating when used too often in a presentation.

Make eye contact. Interact with your audience to keep them engaged. Ask them topic-related questions and keep the floor open for discussions. Don’t be selective. Use the whole room. Create conversations.

Move about the room so you don't become stiff. Keep your audience attentive and awake. If you're stuck at a podium, remember to make some simple hand gestures to keep eyes on you.

Add humor. Nothing breaks the ice like a good joke or funny story during an event. Just make sure that it’s appropriate and directed properly to your audience.

Use visual aids sparingly, but creatively. Slides need not be wordy or elaborate. Stand out from the norm and infuse energy into your presentation. The best ones pop with color and imagery to accentuate your main points.

Think about the last conference you enjoyed. How can you incorporate ideas from that event into your next presentation?

Colleen Degnan Johnson
CMJ Office