Sending Photos Back Home

10 January 2017

I spend a lot of time in antique stores, it's something Luke and I do for fun on the weekends (not something you hear often from 20-somethings). We're always on the hunt for cool finds! I had never collected anything in particular until recently when I started a cabinet card/antique photo collection. I've always been drawn to these little pieces of the past, wondering who the people in the photo were and what their lives must have been like. It's rare that the photos are labeled with names, most of them are blank with forever anonymous faces staring back out at you. 

A couple of weeks ago Luke and I were at one of our favorite antique stores, the Antique Marketplace in Downtown Hammonton, New Jersey. I had never found old photos there before, but Luke spotted a box with a bunch them so I stood there for a while looking through them all. I found a few that were labeled with names that grabbed my attention. Someone long ago had carefully labeled the names of her aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents on these turn of the century photos. They were of the Keith family who lived in Vineland, New Jersey in the late 1800s through the early/mid 1900s. A little idea hit me, so I bought three of them and took them home to research. After a quick search on Ancestry, I was able to find a living relative of this family who had passed such a long time ago. I decided to reach out thinking it was a long shot and it's likely the person would think I'm a scammer or a stalker, but maybe this person would like to know what some of their ancestors looked like. That's when I connected with Paula! She lives in Georgia, and she was pleasantly surprised by my message. I sent her some pictures of the photos I purchased and she expressed to me that she'd like to have them, so off they went! I went back to the same antique store the following weekend and bought the rest of them, nine more in total. Paula is absolutely thrilled to have these photos returned to her family, and I'm so happy I was able to find her and send them her way. 

I've grown oddly attached to this little family. Amasa Keith (pictured with the big mustache), the head of the family, was married to Henrietta Wells. They came to Vineland from New York along with their six children, four of which made it to adulthood. Amasa was a shoe shop clerk, a grocery store clerk, and a book keeper at a bank in his later years. He had three beautiful daughters named Minnie, Joanna, and Florence. The girls are in most of the photos, all very well dressed. I can't get over the fashion of these days! I believe that Minnie was the only one of the children that didn't marry, I found her on 30 years worth of census records working and living with a family as their servant. Florence lived the longest out of everyone, she passed away in 1968 at 88 years old. Most of the family is buried here in New Jersey. 

Paula's most recent message to me was so kind, she said "you probably don't even know how special the acts of kindness that you display are, keep being who you are because it's people like you that shape the world into a better place, one act at a time." How sweet is that?! I didn't go into this expecting anything. I wasn't even sure I'd get a response, but I'm glad I was able to do a good little deed for someone purely because if the roles were flipped, I would want someone to do the same for me. Whenever I go antiquing from now on I'm going to keep an eye out for more photos with names written on them. Hopefully I'll be able to reunite more people with these long lost treasures. 


Bye, 2016

5 January 2017

Wait, it's 2017? Already? HOW?! This past year has flown by. Do you remember being little when the length of a year felt like an eternity? I remember the feeling of Christmastime lasting for a couple of months, now I'm lucky if I'm in that spirit for a week. It's definitely something I miss the most about being a child, that warm Christmas feeling that swallowed you up. I remember making a Christmas countdown with my childhood best friend and I swear that countdown never went fast enough. Every year I try to commit to enjoying the season rather than speeding through it, but it never happens. Maybe next year. ;)

Saying "2016" out loud sends a lot of people into a rage or it sends them running in fear. It was a scary year, there were a lot of deaths, a lot of destruction, elections all over the world were big 'ol shit show, but I was one of the lucky ones who had a good year.

My 2016 highlights: 

1. I got married! Luke and I had a super small backyard wedding at my Aunt Michelle's house on June 11th. We invited the people closest to us and kept it as small as possible. I don't even think we spent more than a couple of hundred dollars on the wedding (dress and cake included). I don't like being the center of attention (hello, anxiety) and having a big fancy wedding was never something I dreamed about. None of that cliche "my childhood dream wedding" business over here. If it weren't for the guilt of not giving my mom the chance to have a wedding for her ONLY child, we wouldn't have done anything at all.

2. I traveled to the UK twice and discovered my new favorite city, Edinburgh. The first time we went we traveled up and down England and Scotland. We visited London, Nottingham, Bath, the Cotswolds, Lacock, Sheffield, Edinburgh, parts of the Highlands, Luss, and Glasgow. It was a Christmas gift to my mom (and to us) and it was one of the most amazing and exhausting trips of my life. That trip cost probably around $10k but it was worth every penny. Luke and I planned a second trip to Scotland for our honeymoon, we went in September. We booked a lovely Airbnb in the Old Town of Edinburgh right on The Royal Mile and spent a little over a week there. We took a couple of day trips to the Highlands again and we even visited Loch Ness! One of our day trips took us across the border of Scotland/England, and we visited Alnwick Castle that was used for a lot of the Harry Potter films. Edinburgh will always be my favorite though, I'm constantly trying to talk Luke into booking another trip there (ps: I think we'll end up going again this year). We've even talked about moving there one day - if MM (Luke's company) ever opens a UK office, we're already signed up to go.

3. We met up with a lot of friends! We always see Luke's best friend Atwood, but we got to meet his girlfriend Ruby last year. She's super sweet and she's from Canada, so we got the opportunity to take a road trip to Montreal for a weekend. Not only did I meet Luke on Tumblr back in 2009, but I also met a lot of other great people who I still consider friends today. In England we met up with our friend George (Twikki) for the second time, and we got to see one of my best friends, Naomi, and her boyfriend Ollie and their little son Eric. Naomi and I have been close friends since we were 14/15 and I've visited her three times now. When we were in Scotland we met up with our friend Pete and his girlfriend Ayden of Little Blog of Horrors. On our second Scotland trip we met up with Lauren in Stirling, another old Tumblr friend. I see the faces of these people on social media nearly every day so it didn't feel like our first time meeting a lot of them, it was lovely! I'm hoping to see some of them again this year.

4. I discovered my love for genealogy while researching my family history through I've helped solve a couple of family mysteries for people and even been in contact with previously unknown family members! These people have helped me through some ancestry road blocks and I'm so grateful for them. Through Ancestry I discovered the Find-A-Grave and World Archives Project volunteering programs which I am now a proud member of. 

5. Luke got promoted this year! He has so much passion for what he does, I really admire it. He started working for a company called MM.Lafleur in 2015, it's a professional women's clothing company in NYC. Luke is an engineer for their website, and he LOVES his job. I never pass up the opportunity to brag about him, I'm just so proud I can't help it! There wasn't really schooling for what he does, and since we've been together he has taught himself almost everything with the help of some of his friends and coworkers and has been working his way up professionally. I won't let anyone take credit for his achievements, they are ALL his own. 

6. I hit 10,000 Etsy sales this year and my little business turned five! 10,000 sales in five years sounds like it's not much, but the first three or so years of having my business I had only made it to 1,000 sales. Two years on and I've passed 10,000, not counting duplicate items that Etsy doesn't count towards the total or items sold at craft fairs. I think the total might be up to at least 40,000 items I've made. That's INSANE for one person! My little hands are weary but busy, and that's all I could ever ask for.

I get a bit bored while I'm working, making things you already know how to make or have made hundreds of times before can get a bit dull. To keep me busy I spend a lot of quality time with Netflix, and binge watching TV shows is my favorite thing to do during my work day. 

Some shows I've completed this year:

  1. Making A Murderer
  2. Gilmore Girls - LOVE, Luke is also obsessed.
  3. Roswell
  4. Outlander
  5. Penny Dreadful
  6. Scream (MTV's version)
  7. Shameless - This show is insane but I love it.
  8. Charmed
  9. The Carrie Diaries - Not normally my thing, but I oddly enjoyed this.
  10. Black Mirror
  11. The Crown
  12. Medici: Masters of Florence - A good chunk of the Game of Thrones cast is in this, amazing show if you love historical stuff.
  13. The OA - AMAZING, go watch it. 20x better than Stranger Things.
  14. The Last Kingdom - Luke and I just finished this together, we're going to finish watching Vikings next.
  15. Versailles - Another historical drama favorite, I'm bringing this one to Luke next. I'm his show tester and only bring him the best ones.

We've also seen a good amount of movies this year. Some of my favorites were The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, The Girl On The Train, and Fantastic Beasts. I love Eddie Redmayne so damn much. What were some TV shows or movies you enjoyed last year?

1. Glencoe, Scotland // 2. My new rings from Luke // 3. Alnwick Castle, England // 4. Apples we picked // 5. Last selfie of 2016!

Overall, I had a pretty wonderful 2016. I don't expect anything from 2017, I don't have any set goals but I do have some things I'd like to do/get done this year. I hope everyone reading has a lovely year. <3


Happy 76th, Grandpop.

9 August 2016

Yesterday, August 8th, would have been my Grandfather's 76th birthday. He passed away from lung cancer at 64 years old, back in 2005 when I was a teenager. I miss him every single day, and I often cry at night thinking about him.

My parents divorced when I was 5 years old, and I lived with my mom most of the time, seeing my dad on Wednesday nights and staying over his house every other weekend. Since both of my parents worked full time to support themselves and to support me, I spent nearly every waking moment at my Grandparent's house, two doors away from my home. Thinking back I don't remember spending much time with my parents, even though I know I did. All that sticks out in my mind is walking to my Grandparent's house in the mornings before school, eating toast for breakfast, and then heading off to school for the day. After school was done I'd take the bus home, get off at my Grandparent's house and spend the afternoons with my Grandmom and Grandpop. I did this nearly every day for 10 years, and I spent a good 10 hours a day, 5 days a week at their house every summer while my mom worked. They helped raise me, and I learned a lot from them.

My Grandfather and I around Christmas 1995 or 1996

My Grandpop, Mircea "Michael" Jakoweiczuk, was born on August 8th, 1940 in Bucharest, Romania. He was the first son of Zaharia and Anna Jakoweiczuk (who my mom is named after), and he was born during a very turbulent time in history. While I don't know the full story (but desperately wish I did), what I've gathered is this: My Great Grandparent's did well for themselves in Romania. Zaharia was a shoemaker, and Anna handmade many beautiful rugs and tapestries. They lived in a beautiful house. When WWII began, things started to get bad for them. They had to leave everything behind, and I believe they were on the run for a few years trying to avoid the Nazis. I don't know if they were Jewish, or if it was because they were Romanian, but they were hunted. The story goes that they hid out in caves, and one time they were spotted by a Nazi officer. My Great Grandfather had no choice but to kill him with his bare hands to protect his family. Anna and Zaharia had a little girl after my Grandfather was born, and while they were on the run both of their children got very sick. They were able to find enough medicine for only one of them, and their little girl ended up passing away. I can't imagine the pain of having to choose which child to save. My Grandmom said Anna thought about her constantly, even 30 years after her death. Six months before the war ended, Zaharia, Anna, and my Grandpop were captured. They were sent to a concentration labor camp in Germany, stripped of everything they still owned and made to work. While I don't exactly know which camp they were in, I know it started with a "B" and most signs point to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Over 56,000 people died in that camp, but my family survived. They were rescued by American troops when my Grandpop was 4 years old. An American soldier, with the best intentions, gave my Grandpop a chocolate candy bar when he was rescued. Luckily he didn't eat it since his body was so malnourished, I'm sure that could've made him very ill. 

After the war, Anna, Zaharia, and my Grandpop lived in Germany for a while. They had another child, my Uncle Wildreo "Bill" and came to the US in 1950/1951. Ten years after my family moved to the US, my Grandpop met my Grandmom and asked her to marry him after two weeks of dating. They had 5 children together and lived an eventful life together until his death. 

L to R: My Great Grandmother Anna, my Grandfather Michael, my Grandmother Priscilla, my Grandmother's father James, and my Great Grandfather, Zaharia

My Mom and Grandpop on her wedding day

My Grandpop had many hobbies and lived so much during his 64 years on Earth. He was a mechanic who owned his own business working on fancy cars. He raced race cars and got into an accident so bad that a nearby Priest came and read him his last rights right there on the road. He rode motorcycles, raised parrots - about 200 of them (which I had to help feed every evening), collected coins and antiques. He lived on farms and had horses and all kinds of animals. He spoke Romanian, German, and English. He thought Beanie Babies would make him a lot of money so he bought multiples of all of them (he had his faults). He had a collection of air plants that filled up the greenhouse he built in the backyard, which included a koi pond. He built and flew toy planes, crashing them and working on them again. He LOVED to debate, and when you chose a side, he'd pick the opposite just for the hell of it. He was an amazing cook in his older years and he loved food. He loved to read, and he knew how to do so many things. He taught my mom how to be independent and how to build and fix things. When I spent my afternoons and summer days with him, I was dragged out to all of his favorite places. He had so many friends and so many people who respected him, even to this day when one of my Aunt's posts a Facebook status about him, people always comment about what an amazing man he was. Everyone knew him, and no one can forget him. 

I'm so unbelievably sad that he has missed out on so much that has happened in my life. I graduated High School. I went to College. I met the love of my life and married him. I started my own business and have kept it running for five years. I'll have kids someday. And he won't get to see any of it. I can't tell you how much that breaks my heart. While I'm not religious, and I don't know what I believe in, I know he came to me in a dream once a few years ago. In this dream he told me he was proud of me, and it was SO vivid and SO real, I absolutely know 110% that it was him sending me a message. I didn't dream of him before that, and I haven't dreamed of him since (though I regularly wish that I did). I woke up in the middle of the night hysterically crying right after that dream, and I'll never forget it. I don't know what happens to us after we die, but I hope I get to see him again one day. 

Grandpop, I miss you.