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Mark Angelo Askew is the author of "Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Guide Workbook and Keepsake" and the founder and director of the Family Reunion Planning Group that established November as Annual Family Reunion Planning Month.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Finding Out Who's Really Up To The Task

Looking back at previous events where it was necessary to form departments and delegate tasks complete with instructions to several individuals and teams I learned something crucial to the success of the event.  While the person selected appeared to be capable. they just weren't fully dedicated to making a success of the assignment. That said it's best to delegate tasks according to a persons interests, skill set, ability and determination to be successful with the task at hand. A background check in the area of motivation would have been useful. But such a thing does not exist, or did it.

Delegating Tasks

So you want to determine who in the family is best suited for a given task at your family reunion. You cannot afford to make a poor decision regarding this matter. There is a solution to this dilemma and it does not require doing a background check, interviews or getting recommendations from other committee members. So what is it?

Finding Out Who's Up To The Task

Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Social features an amazing way to measure reunion attendees ability to perform needed reunion event tasks be it planning organizing or department management.  An ideal tool for committee members when determining department delegations. It's called the Invitees Interest Data Table.The web app syncs with your facebook page and dumps profile data into one spreadsheet-like sortable searchable data table 

Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Social contains an ebook that contains reunion committee departments and departmental assignment worksheets complete with instructions.

Step 1. Review the department assignment worksheets.
Step 2. Determine the interests (likes) education and skill set needed to carry out the assignment
Step 3. Perform a search on the data table of the interests, education and or skill set needed for the task.
Step 4. Note search results containing individual names of persons who fill all three criteria. 

Just imagine the possibilities when planning your next family reunion event. The web app syncs with your facebook page and dumps profile data into one spreadsheet-like sortable searchable data table so you can communicate with your family and friends from one data table while viewing their interests and demographics in categorized tables.  Also view vital RSVP stats when planning the event. But that's just two of it's many features. 

Planning a family reunion? To get  more information about Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Social web app click on the link on this blog page or access the profiles page.

Fimark's Genealogy Presentation Award

I love getting recognition for my hard work. Who doesn't. And if you're like me you know a good idea when you see one. Well so does the Fimark Home Online folks. As you know they are Pinterest nuts. So recently they put out a new board called Fimark Home Online Genealogy Presentation Awards at So how does it work?Here's the scoop...

Genealogists who design creative genealogy related presentations online and offline need only present it online from a website, Youtube page or Pinterest board. Fimark Home Online judges will review the presentation and if it qualifies the presenter will be awarded 5 stars, 1 like and a Pinterest repin on the Fimark Genealogy Awards Board.

Entry Instructions: To enter just send a link to your genealogy presentation to with "Fimark Genealogy Presenation Awards" in the subject line or Pin it and send the pin to Fimark Home on Pinterest or follow the board at

This ongoing contest is to promote family genealogy research and family reunion planning awareness during the upcoming annual observance of Family Reunion Planning Month in November. The perfect time to start planning your next family reunion and enjoy all the fun filled family activities involved in the event planning process. And we know great family reunion planning ideas.

Signup now. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Autumn Family Recipes Part 2

Last week we introduced seasonal family recipes as a regular part of our family reunion planning presentation. That means you'll enjoy some of the best recipes our reunion planners have to offer from our family reunion recipes board on Pinterest. The number one place for discovering the limitless possibilities of home cooking and entertaining.

So what's in season? We've found creative recipes with one of the four fall fruits cranberries figs apples and grapes and two vegetables, pumpkin and my favorite -sweet potatoes. Today we'll focus on pumpkin and apple recipes.

Best Pumpkin Bundt Cake  

1 bx yellow cake mix, 1 bx butterscotch pudding (3.4 oz), 1/4 c vegetable oil, 1/4 c water, 1 c canned pumpkin, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, & 4 eggs...mix for 4 min., pour into greased & floured 10-in. fluted/bundt pan, and bake @ 350 degrees for 50-55 min.

Savory Pumpkin Dip  

1 (8 oz.) brick softened low-fat cream cheese, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans, 4-6 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled, 3 green onions, thinly sliced, 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

Spiced Pumpkin Pie French Toast 

3 large eggs 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie filling* 3 Tbsp milk 1/2 tsp cinnamon 6-8 slices of your favorite bread cooking spray/Pam favorite syrup butter or margarine.

Family Recipe Compiler  from Fimark's Family Reunion Planner

Record the date, origin, history, contributing family member, ingredients, preparation, cooking and serving details.  There's enough page write out the history of each meals conception.

In addition to the family recipe compiler there are other useful keepsake features in the reunion planning guide ideal for the time of year when family activities are close to home. For example the event guide also contains a personal journal so you can record your reunion event planning experience. A family tree worksheet is also included alongside and family heirloom documentation worksheet. For great apple recipes and details about the Fmily Recipe Compiler in Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Keepsake Guidebook go to

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Autumn Family Recipes Part 1

It's the season for pickling. Warm things up on a cold day while canning pickled squash, zucchini, eggplant and cucumbers. Canning is no longer a lost art do says my mom. My sister Karen can prove that with this spicey line up sweet pickled delight. There's a tall jar waiting for me next time I visit dad and mom quaint estate.

Pickling: It's becoming a practical and popular pastime for large and small families who like to snack on healthy homemade wholesome goodness. Now there's a mouthful. Say that three times real fast. pickling from scratch is perhaps one of the healthiest, least expensive and most fulfilling ways to provide nutritional value to any family meal. Find some great pickling recipes right here in the recipe bin.

Baking: The irresistible aroma of home cooking and canning make the kitchen table a more inviting place for kids to linger and make conversation. Families will quickly learn the joy of sitting down and savoring a tasty recipe. That said, why not make it a point to whip up what you know they'll like. Careful though, you're bound to draw a neighbor or two to your front door.

Nothing is more heart warming then taking the time to enjoy family crafts, cooking, story time and eating mouth watering treats all at the same time. It's what good memories are made of.

This weeks focus is on recording traditional family recipes. The objective is to open a dialogue with family members across several generations and discover a lost art in meal planning, preparation and serving from the garden to the market, from the dish to the table. Many of our readers have the 132 page Family Reunion Planner Guide and Keepsake book. If so you may be surprised to know that it contains a Family Recipe compiler section. Each page contains important entries to help you keep a detailed record of  age old family recipes.

Family Recipe Compiler  from Fimark's Family Reunion Planner

Record the date, origin, history, contributing family member, ingredients, preparation, cooking and serving details.  There's enough page write out the history of each meals conception.

In addition to the family recipe compiler there are other useful keepsake features in the reunion planning guide ideal for this contemplative memory gathering time of year. For example the event guide also contains a personal journal so you can record your reunion event planning experience. A family tree worksheet is also included alongside and family heirloom documentation worksheet.

Learn more about Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Guide  and Keepsake book at here.

Visit our Family reunion recipes on, a regular part of our family reunion planning presentation so stop by regularly and see what's cooking.  So what's on the menu? Recipes of the Autumn harvest. These recipes are easy to make and most of all absolutely tasty. Each is contributed by our family reunion planners, chefs and great cooking aficionados. Enjoy some of the best recipes ever discovered.

Next week... The amazing things you can create with pumpkin.

Monday, September 9, 2013

A Family Fall Fest At It's Best

I admit that I'm a Spring time guy. But when the leaves start changing and falling my heart is smitten by the harvests of Fall.  Here are a few reasons why I think I'm so in love with all things Autumn. 

Light gusts of wind sweep up swirling golden leaves as the sweet scent of pine cones and pungent fallen apples fill the air.  It's a virtual fest for butterflies, sparrows and other creatures great and small. The time of harvest as arrived and with that it's time to carefully store away a fruitful season of growth and memories.

There are so many creative ways to do this.  Warm woolen sweaters, pumpkins and multi-colored corn cobs beckon our creative juices. This is autumn at its very best.

My neighborhood in Maryland where I walked my dog lady everyday from age 12 up.

This is also the season of Autumn Festivals. At these special Fall events creativity knows no bounds. Each craft presentation has it's own way of reaching deep down inside us and conjuring up a warmth and closeness to nature unlike no other season.  I hope to take Brenda to a Fall Festival wonderland this year while celebrating our 33 wedding anniversary.  

What is it about fall? Perhaps it's the brilliant yet warm colors of Fall. Leaves that look like roasted caramelized nuts and toasted granola clusters with cranberry raisins speckled all over. 

Fall Fest Harvest Apron

Perhaps it's the way the trees embrace and hug forming a rich arch above our heads in magnificent gold and copper splendor. Or maybe the whiff of freshly baked sweet potato pie filling our noses and tantalizing our tongues. And if that were not enough it surely has to be the fragrance of warm apple cider, corn wine and pancakes covered in maple syrup while ham crackles on an outdoor stove top.  Yes, it's Fall Fest time again!

Autumn Decor

I love to see the creative crafts made each year at shows and stores. Butterflies made of preserved golden maple leaves and twigs. Dried autumn naturals made into decorative arrangements such as table center pieces and door wreaths. Smiley button eyed scare crows in blue jeans made out of dried corn cobs. 

Wall art made from hay, pine cones and dried flowers and berries. The wood carvings and stone etchings and paintings of brilliant fall scenes are perhaps the most beautiful ever imagined. No wonder it has been said that Autumn inspired the most beautiful works of art, music, novels and poetry.

"A Walk In Time"
Painting by Mark Askew

Recipes Galore

This is the time to collect harvestime recipes from a group of folks who are obsessed with cooking baking and creating delectable delights. Join our Family Recipes board on Pinterest and get carried away. Be careful. It is addicting.

Family Reunion Planning Month

At this time of the year families comes together to render much needed support, encouragement and inspiration. This led to a relatively new and exciting concept in family reunion planning. An annual observance established in 2005 centering around family reunion planning. The observance began in 2005 when our family reunion planning group of just 400 members agreed to make November the month to commence family reunion event planning. 

Mark Askew, founder of the groups official monthly newsletter, published and promoted the observance in his book Fimark's Family Reunion Planner. Read more at, keyword "Family Reunion." Since then other groups and corporations have adopted and promoted the observance including the following:

Family Reunion Helper
Cyndis List

I’m With Them Events

Bigelow Tea
Gone Ta Pott


A November Heads Up!
Autumn is the time of year extended families come together making this an ideal time to discuss and establish suggested dates and activities for the next family reunion.

September thru December is one of the more intimate times of the year. Indoor activities are the norm. Yet some families love to spend it out of doors raking up the leaves and enjoying imaginative lawn and leaf or harvest parties. This includes  relay races, family football and evening storytelling around an outdoor fire. This is an ideal time to do family history information gathering including interviewing the elders of the family.

November - December is the best time to get together and swap photos and videos. It's an ideal time to start putting together family slideshows, videos and scrapbooks, family history books, memory books and family reunion keepsake booklets.

During this time the elder family members like to keep family traditions alive and  well. Some may make their own proclamations. Other focus on education and financial planning or seek to empower the family union in some other way. 

You, our family reunion planner readers founded Family Reunion Planning Month, an annual reunion planning observance in the month of November. This observance promotes the interests of the family union and reminds us to take time out of our busy lives to enjoy our family throughout the year culminating in a family reunion gathering.  The observance begins with  a veritable family fall fest at its best. Are you ready for big fun during the warmest season of the year? Spread the word and start planning your Fall Family Fest today.

Mark Angelo Askew is the Author of Fimark's Family Reunion Planner and Keepsake and Fimark's My Keepsake Wedding Planner. 

If you celebrated your family reunion It's a time to remember this summers family reunion events and document it in some way. Use the Newsletter template and Slide show app that comes in Fimark's award winning Family Reunion Planner Social web app for use with the latest Chrome, Internet Explorer or Firefox browser. 

The interface provides access to all our standard event planning templates, printables, worksheets in pdf and word format and ebook as well as the reunion planning spreadsheet with attendee database. What, don't have FRP Social yet? Good news. The app is reduced from $49 to only $40 for a limited time.  
Planning a family reunion? To get  more information about Fimark's Family Reunion Planner Social web app click on the link on this blog page or access the profiles page.

Fall Fest Keepsakes and Party Favors

Fall Fest Keepsakes and party favors

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

20 Fun Ways To Reduce Energy Costs While Entertaining

Brenda and I braved the summer by reducing our air conditioner usage. We enjoyed some of the warm afternoons by the reservoir. We learned that the heat is more bearable when you're busy walking, talking and listening to music. As the days get cooler it's a time to count costs while considering creative ways to cut costs when entertaining the family.

Here are a few for starters.
1. Use candles, night lights or low voltage lamps (Makes things more cozy)
2. Older laptops and desktops are a powerful light source and act as space heaters
3. Use solar power for daytime power usage
4. On colder days cook in the morning or early evening at sundown to warm the house up
5. Make canned dinners and lunches in jars to reduce energy consumption
6. Cut down on gasoline usage by riding a bike...
7. Taking more walks
8. Shop online while making use of  free shipping offers
9. Invest in an energy efficient flat screen TV and enjoy movie nights at home (You'll also save on gas, increase car and battery life, reduce emissions and mileage.)
10. Enjoy more candle light date nights at home

While we are constantly on the look out for ways we can simplify and cut out needless costs we realize that there are times we owe it to ourselves to enjoy some quality entertainment, recreation and pampering. That said, the next budgeting task at hand is to estimate the cost of entertainment and recreation expenses when planning a family night or family reunion.

1. Keep the itinerary simple
2. Hold the event in a park or large home with plenty of yard space
3. Let the professionals in the family provide entertainment
4. Swap recipes and have a pot luck banquet dinner
5. Use home made DIY decorations
6. Use DIY game supplies
7. Print your own flyers, invitations and banners
8. Send invitations via email or social network
9. Buy bulk supplies at the lowest costs available online using free shipping offers
10. Use candles to light low light areas in the evening

Family reunion planning requires making and sticking to a practical budget. One of the most gratifying benefits is that you can finally put your experience and skills to work planning and organizing the event. When planning a family reunion during the fall and winter months allow your children to participate.  Children can be given hands on training to create a budget list, calculate funds needed, maintain a ledger and roster and consider creative ways to increase funds in the reunion treasury. as said one of the best ways to increase funds is to cut back. So how can you reduce costs and save funds when entertaining the family?

Fimark's new Family Reunion Planner Social for Google users  provides a ready made family reunion spreadsheet which lists invitees names and contact information, counts the number of households, RSVP status, estimates event costs and calculates event fees. It's a great way to keep track of T-shirt orders and survey results for each attendee. The spreadsheet is in Google docs format located on the Reunion Planner interface.

You can create a short survey form with personalized survey questions and submit it via email to all invitees in Google file share and collect survey results as they are submitted in real time over the Google Drive network. The results are sent directly to your Google Docs family reunion spreadsheet. Read more here.