Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Friday Recipe - Graham Cracker Crisp

This is my cousin Barbara's recipe.  Barb is just the nicest person.  I always think there are two kinds of people: those who can be nice when others are around; you know what I mean, people who show a good "social face."  My cousin Barb is the other type of person:  nice even when no one is looking, probably especially when no one is looking!  Supportive, sweet, generous and always smiling--the epitome of a kind soul and gentle spirit! 

Barb brought a panful of these crisps to our Spring-time open house, probably 15 years ago.  They are so yummy, I asked for the recipe, which she sent in the mail the next week.  And I'll tell you, at that time, I didn't cook at all!  Since then, of course, I've turned into someone who enjoys cooking.  But these are still easy to make and mmm, mmm, good!

Graham Cracker Crisp

--Line cookie sheet with foil, spray with PAM.  Line foil with graham cracker squares.

--Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

--In a sauce pan, melt:
one stick butter
one stick margarine

--Add 1/2 cup sugar.  Boil three minutes.  Pour over top of crackers, spreading and covering evenly. 

--Sprinkle top with one cup chopped pecans or other chopped nuts.  Bake 10 to 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

--Remove from oven.  While still warm, but firm, cut and break into rectangles!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

True Love Tuesday - An Anniversary of Sorts

APolaroid photo of us on
Monday, March 27, 1995
Breaking the news at my mom's house.

Today my husband and I celebrate the anniversary of our engagement, 17 years ago.  Actually, the anniversary was this entire weekend, which is kind of a long story.  You see, it kind of took me a while to give him an answer.  Like, um, more than 24 hours. 

Before hubby and I married, we had what could be referred to as a four year, on-again, off-again period of dating, friendship and mutual hatred.  Mostly the mutual hatred part.  Yet neither could get the other out of our brains, and kept going back for more.  Some people wondered why, including me, on occasion.  But there was something good there, we were just too stupid to admit it early on.  You know how that can be. 

That last six months or so before hubby proposed, we had grown and settled, and become very good friends, but just friends.  On March 25, 1995, before leaving for dinner at The Milton Inn, he gave me a dozen red roses.  Imagine my surprise!  He said I deserved it, having just survived yet another difficult period at work that included lots of bizarre events and weekly rounds of lay-offs.     

We had a lovely dinner.  After our meal, he popped the question, with little fanfare.  No ring in the dessert, or anything like that.  That's not his style, for which I am grateful.  But surprised does not begin to explain the depth of my, um, shock.  Yes, shock. 

You see, I was way beyond thinking he would ever propose.  At more than one point in our relationship(s) over the years I had hoped for it.  But when it didn't happen, I eventually accepted that fact and decided I liked having him as a very good friend.  We were really good at being friends, even traveling together at times. 

Back to the story.  So, he proposed Saturday night.  The rest of Saturday night goes by.  Sunday goes by.  All day.  I hummed, I hawwed (whatever that means).  I guess I was thinking it over, but I do not remember that day at all.  Hubby tells me, again because I do not remember, that I said "Yes" Monday morning, when I saw him on the bus.  We lived in the same neighborhood and rode the same bus into downtown Baltimore every morning.  In fact, that's where I first saw him, on the bus. 

Earlier this weekend, I asked him what he did on that Sunday.  He smiled and said, "I don't know, probably went to work."  Science Geek.  When I asked what he was thinking while waiting for my reply, he smiled again and said, "I wasn't sure, but I was hoping for a positive outcome."  Science Geek Language. 

Once I said yes, I don't know why he went through with it.  The fact that it took me 24+ hours to get back to him should have told him something about my super-cautious, tendency to over-think things personality.  But he did, and I am grateful every day that we both did!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mystery Monday - Who ARE These People???

Family plots can be a funny thing.  And not exactly "funny ha-ha."  In very old cemeteries, they are sometimes clearly marked, either with pillars and chains, a small wrought iron fence, or perhaps marble posts in the ground.  Usually the markers are a different shape from the cemetery's own section dividers, to prevent confusion.  But in the absence of such markers, it can be difficult to determine the plot boundaries.  And just as in life, family plot "familiarity" can breed contempt, at least in the heart of a generations-later genealogist such as myself. 

The stones pictured here are in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore. 

Toppled stone to left is great-aunt Ada Forrest Penning and her husband George Penning.
Headstone for Ada's father, C W Forrest, is third from top, in the three nearest in this photo.
My grandfather is buried in the unmarked space to the right of his father, C W Forrest.

 Last September, I visited my maternal grandfather's unmarked grave for the first time.  I did not know him.  Family lore is that he was not a kind man.  OK, why mince words...apparently he was real bastard.  He married my grandmother when she was a teenager and he about ten years older.  He had many affairs with other women during their short marriage, to the point that these women would knock on my grandmother's front door, babe in arms, asking for my grandfather. 

That's not the worst of it, but the point of this post is not to focus on him.  Fortunately, my grandmother divorced him after five years of marriage.  By then, she was in her 20s, and my mother was just a toddler.  I say, brave woman!  So young, divorcing a husband back in the 1920s, when that kind of thing was simply not done.  I love that Grandma realized her worth, and decided to focus on a better life!  Even back then, Grandma ROCKED!!!

I feel compelled to add that despite this man being a brute, his sister, my mother's Aunt Ada, was a kind, generous and loving person.  She and my grandmother were occasionally in contact throughout the years.  Aunt Ada, my grandfather, and their father are buried together in Loudon Park Cemetery.  But in their tiny family plot are two additional stones.  The stones match in style and are the right ages for this to be a married couple.   

Carroll H.
1899 - 1955

These two stones are close enough to the Forrest family stones to seem to be part of the family.  I think they must be, because neither stone has a last name.  Also, they are a similar style to my great-grandfather's stone. 

Are they Penning (Aunt Ada's married name)? 

Are they Forrest, my grandfather's surname? 

I've seached census records using their first names with both surnames, and come up dry.  I've also checked throughout the collateral relatives to see if any even have these first names, Mary and Carroll.  No clues there, either.  So I am really stumped!

Wife - Mom - Grams
Mary A.
1901 - 1970

I suppose I'll just have to wait a few days for the 1940 Census.  Since I know where some of the Forrests lived at that time, I can check to see if perhaps this couple were dear friends, neighbors or relatives who lived nearby.   

Seems like other than that, my only option is to request information from the cemetery office.  I'm hesitant to do so, because frankly, I don't want to pay a fee for information on people that may not be family.  And if they are family, my mom certainly didn't know them (and I don't care if my grandfather knew them). 

Is this terrible?  Or am I being a prudent genealogist?  What would you do?  Any ideas? 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hits of My Lifetime! - SNGF

Randy Seaver has a musical idea for his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.  He asks: 

Remember these 8-track players?
I had one just like this, even the same color!
Image Courtesy of Google Images.

1) What was the #1 song on the day you were born? Or on your birthday when you were 18? Or when you married? Or some other important date in your life.
2) Go to and enter the date and select from UK, US or Australia record lists. Note: the first date available is 1 January 1946.
Alternatively, go to and enter the month and date and see a list of songs for each year since 1940.

I used the second site,, and got these fun results!

My birth day, October 26, 1957:
Jailhouse Rock/Treat Me Nice, by Elvis Presley

18th birthday, 1975 -- Island Girl by Elton John
Why, I was listening to this just the other day!  Have always been a huge fan of EJ.  Have every album, been to several of his concerts.  I remember this day so well!  I had graduated high school in June and was working as a legal secretary.  Every day, I carpooled downtown with my high school friend.  After work, when she swung by to drop me off, she pulled in and parked.  I was a bit confused but thought not too much of it.  We got in the house and my mom had planned a small party of some of my high school girlfriends.  It was such a surprise and so much fun!

1982, the year I turned 25 and moved into my first apartment!
Who Can It Be Now? by Men at Work

March 13, 1990
Escapade, by Janet Jackson -- All I can say is "HUH?"  Don't know this song.
This was a sad day in my life; my father died on this date.  Obviously, an event like this changes a person.  Did not know my husband at the time, we met about a year later.  Not long after we met, hubby (then just a friend, not a boyfriend), once told me that I view the world two ways: "before my father died" and "after my father died." I don't recall my exact reply, but it must have been fierce, because he's never said that again in almost 17 years of marriage! 

September 1991; this was the month/year I bought my first home, a co-op apartment. 
Song is Good Vibrations by Marky Mark &the Funky Bunch with Loleatta.  But I have to say, my older siblings played lots of music, and to me, Good Vibrations is The Beach Boys!

My birthday one month later..."Emotions" by Mariah Carey.  Huh???  Is this that song that the Bee Gees recorded?  I have never been a fan of Mariah Carey's type of "music."  If it's not the Bee Gees song, I can't recall this song at all!!!

June 2, 1995--married my love! 
Song is Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman? by Bryan Adams
That title sounds like it would be a nice #1 song for a wedding day, don't you think?  Even though I don't know the song!  Our first (and only) wedding dance was to "As Time Goes By" by, yes, Jimmy Durante.

Jenny turns The Big 5-0, October 26, 2007
The song is Crank That (Soulja Boy), by Soulja Boy Tell'em.  Talk about HUH????

I always knew I was out of touch with the music world lately, but I didn't realize just how much!  Obviously, somewhere along the line, I simply stopped listening to music on the radio. 

As for the Number One song on my birthday, the last song and artist I recognize, with just one exception, is 1988's "Groovy Kind of Love" by Phil Collins.  The exception is the Elton John's 1997 hit "Something About the Way You Look Tonight/Candle in the Wind 1997," his Marilyn Monroe tribute, rewritten for the late Princess Diana.

Oh, I still listen to a lot of music, but it's music of my choice.  My tastes are kind of stuck in the 1970s (my high school years) and the 1980s (first tastes of freedom).  I find that I basically stick with those artists and have followed their careers.  People like Paul Simon, James Taylor, Elton John.  And my parents loved show tunes, so all five of the kids do, too!  Then of course, there's Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and all those guys; I play them every weekend, my poor hubby! 

Well, thanks, Randy, this was a lot of fun!  If I had more time, I'd go to the basement and see how many of those number one songs are on all the albums collecting dust down there!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Family Friday Recipe - Oh My, Mom's Fudge!

My mom makes the Best Fudge, ever!  Yes, in capital letters, as in, she could win the Best Fudge Ever contest, hands down, every year!

It's the simplest of recipes.  Mom was always a good cook.  But of all her recipes, there are about ten or so that I love, occasionally crave and re-create for myself; this is one of them.  It's not exactly the healthiest of recipes, but hey, it's FUDGE!

I remember as a kid standing at the stove, stirring with the old wooden spoon as the butter melted, then mixing in the sugar and cocoa, working to get everything mixed.  After a few minutes, Mom would check on the progress and usually take over, because I was so lacking in the good strength to mix it all well! 

Because Mom's fudge is so delicious, I have asked her to never bring it to my house again...because I will eat all of it within one day!  I'm not exaggerating, I am like that.  Therefore, I don't have a photo to include.  Anyway, here's the most important part of this mom's fabulous fudge recipe.  Enjoy!

Mom's Super-Delicious, Super-Easy Fudge

1 pound confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. milk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Optional:  You can add one cup of chopped nuts if you like. (I love nuts, but not in my fudge!)

Before starting, grease a 9 x 14 pan with butter. 
These days, I use PAM.  Mom always did, and still does, use Crisco!

In a heavy three-quart saucepan, combine all ingredients. 
Over very low heat, constantly stir mixture until well combined and smooth. 
Remove from heat.  (If you are adding nuts to the fudge, stir them in now.) 
Quickly spread onto prepared pan.

Refrigerate two hours or until firm.  Cut into one-inch squares.  Makes 24 pieces.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Thomas

St. Dogmael's Cemetery
Dyfed (Pembroke), Wales 


The memory of

Timothy Thomas
Late of the Bridge-end Foundry Cardigan
Who Died February 20, 1898
Aged 69 Years

Also, of the children of the said
Timothy Thomas and Anna his wife

Who Died Sept. 9, 1869, Aged 9 Months

Who Died August 27, 1877, Aged 1 Day

Who Died February 25, 1881, Aged 1 Day

Who Died Sept. 19, 1893, Aged 26 Years

Who was lost at sea off Madeira Island
November 30, 1896, Aged 21 Years

Also, of
David Thomas,
Brother of the said Timothy Thomas
Who died December 1885, Aged 64 years

Also of Anna Thomas,
Wife of the _____ (said?) Timothy Thomas,
She passed...Newport Mon

This photo was among the many that my in-laws have collected over the years.  We don't know who it is, and there are no family members that we know of with the surname Thomas.  

Neither of my in-laws know of anyone in St. Dogmael's Cemetery in the county of Dyfed, formerly known as Pembrokeshire.  They also cannot remember taking the photo or seeing this headstone.  So, this interesting stone remains a mystery to us.  The last two lines, which might provide some clues, are unclear; I've included what we can decipher above. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Enjoying All Those Old Photos

Lately it seems like my genealogy work has been more along the lines of crafting, rather than straight research. 

I thought I'd share this item I put together a few weeks ago.  My goddaughter and I sat down and crafted this in just a few minutes.  Well, actually, I crafted it, while she sat nearby and played on her DS (some kind of electronic toy, which she loves). 

I received this item as my gift in the office holiday gift game.  I think most folks were relieved they didn't get it, but I immediately fell in love with it.  This kind of thing is right up my alley...easy to do, looks interesting, and surrounds me with faces of my loved ones.  And since I already have a mobile hanging in my dining room (colorful penguins, which hubby gave me long before we married--he really gets me!), it was just a matter of moving some things around.

Instead of taking the totally easy way, and just clipping ten photos to it, first sorted photos according to portrait or landscape orientation.  For the landscape photos, I examined them for how much I could trim off the sides and matched accordingly.  Then I used my crafting tape runner to stick photos back to back, and clipped them up to the mobile.  Having trimmed some of the photos, the mobile moves more freely.  When the heat comes on in that room, it positively spins!  Delightful!  

First, lay out photos to match direction,
and match those that can be trimmed on the sides.

If you are interested in purchasing one, you can get the photo clip mobile at:
Currently $17.95

and also:
This one is only $10. 

I also bought two of them last year, after Christmas, on sale at JC Penney.  They were about $7 each.  I haven't done a thing with them yet, but I will now!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

(Somewhat) Wordless Wednesday - Cape Point, South Africa

Cape Point, South Africa

An absolutely beautiful spot outside of Cape Town.  But, wow, does that wind whip around this peninsula.  We were told that it is not far off to the right of this cape, outside the range of this photo, is the point where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet.  Yikes!  There is a little furling whitecap that is meant to be right at the spot--beautiful, but oh, so cold and windy!

At the top of this climb, there is a beautiful restaurant called, appropriately enough, Two Oceans Restaurant.  We had a fantastic lunch there, enjoying the delicious food and the stunning views

From our June 2009 trip.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Penblwyd Hapus, Heilig!

Wishing a wonderful birthday to a wonderful man, my father-in-law Heilig.  Today Heilig turns 81. 

Last year the family planned to travel to Egypt to celebrate his milestone birthday.  Instead, "Arab Spring" interrupted our travel plans, and we met in Belgium, where we enjoyed a lovely week together.

Because of the change in travel plans, my sister-in-law was able to bring a fantastic birthday cake for the event.  Don't worry, it was a fruit cake, so it held up well in the travel.  A good fruit cake can even benefit by a few extra days before serving. 

Here are pictures of his 80th birthday very special cake. 

The cake includes a dragon (symbol of Wales),
a swan (for his favorite football team, The Swans),
a radio, maps and books (some of his hobbies),
little dolphins swimming in the bay,
and sheep (after all, this is Wales!).
The cake is lined surrounded by delicate flowers representing
his many years as a professor of horticulture.

The cake also includes a sign pointing to towns that
have significance to periods in his life.

Close-up of dragon, dolphins, books, radio
and swan.

Happy Birthday, Heilig!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Happy St. David's Day!

Happy St. David's Day!

St. David (Dewi Sant, in the Welsh language)

He lived during the 6th century, and is the Patron Saint of Wales.  Today is his feast day. 

Welsh natives celebrate this day in many ways. 
My favorite is that the women wear daffodils and the men wear leeks on their lapels. 

St. David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
(because the last time I was there was in my pre-digital camera days,
and I have not scanned those photos yet!)