Dec 26, 2013

Scottish Paisley Shawls

Picture from Pinterest
Just recently, I discovered the Paisley Shawl from Paisley, Strathclyde County, Scotland while watching an episode of  Who do you think  are. They were copied from the Kashmir by the Scottish weavers which was famous all over Asia. The original Kashmir shawl might take three people up to a year to make and therefore was very costly.  Beginning in 1800, the production of the famous shawls lasted for about 70 years and then the company went out of business.  The shawls were mass produced, which was then affordable to those who couldn't pay the high price of the original. 

Picture from Pinterest
"On her first trip to Scotland, Queen Victoria wore one of these handsome paisley shawls -- an act of royal courtesy, but one which enhanced the British textile trade and the wearing of paisley shawls. It has been told that the Scottish shawl gave a husband, badgered by his wife for an Indian cashmere one, the opportunity to say, "The paisley shawl is good enough for Queen Victoria. Certainly it is good enough for you."

Picture from Pinterest
In the early 1900's, the shawls became decorative pieces for pianos, table tops, vests, skirts, handbags, pillows, or wall hangings.  I have always loved the pattern and have several garments with the Kashmir or Paisley pattern on them.  But my favorite is a shawl that I have had for a long time made of light wool with red, green, blue, and black in the pattern.  You wouldn't think that it would keep you warm since it is so light, but amazingly it does.

Picture from Pinterest
As I began to search the internet I found lots of garments with the beautiful Paisley pattern.  Would you ever consider wearing something that isn't really "in" style at the time but you like it well enough to not care what others are wearing? I really like the coat above and wouldn't hesitate wearing it.  I don't know about you, but I think that clothing from the early 1900's was very classy and elegant.

Sources: The Paisley Shawl written by Edward Harrison and
 the Christian Science Monitor:
Antique Paisley Shawls can adorn a wall, complement country clothes.

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Hoping that you all have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Dec 12, 2013

Memories of Christmas

When the nights are long and the air is cold a little jingle begins to play in the air. The snow begins to fly and we snuggle inside our homes for warmth.  It is then that my mind goes back in time to when life was innocent and the best time of year was Christmas.  There was a tree in the corner with gifts all around and the lights twinkled as they nestled in the branches.  The anticipation of gifts is all that a child thinks about, especially me.   

My parents were not big on celebrations and they definitely didn’t get excited like my brother, sister, and I did.  We always opened our gifts after supper on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day we had a big dinner.  The dinners were not the normal ham or whatever is supposed to be traditional for the holiday.  We would have BBQ ribs with whatever sounded good to Mom that day.  The rest of the holiday we lounged around and enjoyed having the day off. 

When my brother and I were about three feet tall, nothing really got past us.  If something was hidden in a low place we were definitely going to find it.  In the mid 60’s, when fire engine pedal cars were all the rage, we “found” our Christmas present in a hall closet.   For some reason Mom thought that if she buried the pedal car beneath some blankets we would not find it.  One day when my parents were still in bed, my brother and I decided to uncover the pedal car and take it for a spin.  We rode in it up and down the hallway.  Mom heard all of the noise and got up to find out what was going on.  “Hey Mom, look at what we found”, I said. She was not amused.  I really don’t remember what happened after that. More than likely she made us put it back in the closet until Christmas.


Observing all of those presents piled high all around the tree was so thrilling when I was a girl.  I remember that there was one particular present that I just had to know what it was.  Each night while no one was looking, I would pick up the package, shake it, and then put it back down.  Eventually, my fingers gently made their way to the taped edge.  Maybe the tape will give way without mom noticing that I have been picking at it.  The tape never budged and the more I toyed with it the worse it looked. Curiosity got the best of me and I poked a hole in the paper.  I brought the package up close to my eye and I still couldn’t figure out what the present was.  So, I buried it in the back and decided to wait until Christmas to see what it was; Besides Mom would be really mad if she saw the hole in the pretty paper. 

Dad bought Mom a food processor in the early 80’s, I was a 20 something year old then.  When Mom opened the box she was thrilled.  Dad and I then started pushing buttons while the machine was on.  Then it stopped running.  Dad and I laughed, but Mom cried.  He took it back to the store the next day to get Mom a new one.  The funny thing is I don’t remember her using it very much after that.  But I was in my 20’s then and probably didn’t pay attention to what she did.

I know that Christmas isn’t all about the giving and getting of presents.  I decided to bake a birthday cake for Jesus.   It was a white two layer cake with chocolate frosting. Jesus had to like this cake.  Who doesn’t like chocolate frosting? I asked my family to gather around the table and we sang happy birthday and blew out the candles.  Then we ate the cake for Jesus and told him how good it was.  When my nieces were small we carried on the tradition of baking a birthday cake at Christmas.  Tiffany and Heather still talk about it.

The year my father passed away we were so poor that we wouldn’t be able to give any gifts. My mother was collecting widow’s benefits and I was only making $3.50 an hour working at the 350 Shop on Broadway.  My church decided to adopt us as their “Christmas family”.  Each of us received a gift plus my family was given a food box.  My present was a turquoise sweater, which I kept for a very long time. I was very thankful for what the church did for us.   I felt as though people still cared for us during our time of loss. 
My oldest niece, Tiffany, wanted what she called a “Garbage Patch Doll”.  Scott’s grocery had a contest to be able to win one.  I wrote my mother’s name down and put the entry blank in the box.  I prayed and prayed to win that doll for my niece.  We wouldn’t be able to afford to buy her one for Christmas.  A few days later my mother received a call from the store saying that she had won.  Thank you God!  This was a Christmas miracle. 

Many Christmases have come and gone since then.  Gifts have been given.  Elaborate dinners have been eaten.  But the best part is when we get together and reminisce about “The good ole’ days”.   The pictures come out and the stories are told all over again.  To me, this is what Christmas is all about.  Family is what we are put on this earth for, to love and be loved, there is nothing more than valuable than this.

Dec 8, 2013

Refreshing Moroccan Salad with preserved lemon

This recipe is close to one that I have been making for years.  I was surprised that Morocco has a similar version.  I served this at Thanksgiving and it was well received.  


2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 cucumber, seeds removed and cut into small pieces
1 green bell pepper, seeds removed and cut into small pieces
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 small chili (optional)
2 quarters of preserved lemon, rind only 
1-2 TBS white vinegar
2-3 TBS vegetable oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
salt/pepper to taste
handful of black olives, pitted

Mix all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Toss. Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

You can omit the preserved lemon if you don't have any on hand or you can go here to learn how to make them yourself.

Dec 4, 2013

Galette or Pear Tart

 I've had two colds in two months and haven't been sick for three years.  Sorry, that I haven't been on board here this last week.  Today, I felt well enough to cook something or starve.  Well, we all know that it would take a while, but, anyway I am excited about the galette that I cooked today.  It is super easy and I even made my own crust.

One of my co-workers gave me three quart jars of canned pears that her mother cans and then she brings them back from Alabama. I kept trying to think of a way to use the pears. One of my friends made a Galette out of apples that were about ready to go bad. My friend said that it was extremely easy to make.  So, I thought that I would give it a try. 

Standard pie crust: 

1/3 cup of shortening or 1/3 cup of lard
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 TBS cold water
1 beaten egg
sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling
canned pears, apples, or blueberries (fresh is best, but if you don't have it use the canned)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put the flour and salt in a mixing bowl.  Add the shortening and rub the flour and shortening together with your fingertips until the mixture feels like sand.  Next, add the cold water one tablespoon at a time.  Mix with a fork until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl.Form the pastry into a ball.  Place on a lightly floured work surface and roll out to the size of a dinner plate, cutting the dough to the size of the plate, the dough will be very thin.  Discard any leftover dough.

Oil the bottom of a baking pan. Place the dough in the pan and begin to fill the center of the pie crust with fruit, leaving about 2 inches or so around the edges so that you can fold the remaining dough edges around the fruit. Every couple of inches put a pleat in the pastry all the way around.  Brush with the beaten egg. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, then turn down to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or warm custard cream*.  Enjoy!

This serves about 4 people

Cooks note:  If you are using fresh fruit, you will need to add 1/4 cup of sugar or more if you like to the fruit. Put a pat of butter on top for extra flavor. 

*My neighbor served Bird's Custard sauce that was found in the English section at our local grocery store.  

Nov 26, 2013

Pasta with Sausage & Butternut Squash

I am a big fan of butternut squash and Italian sausage.  When I saw Nick Stellino make this recipe one night on tv, I decided that I needed to try this.  I am so glad that I did. I did substitute hot Italian sausage for the mild. Yes, I am a wuss. Here is my adaptation of it.


3 TBS olive oil
1 pound of Italian sausage, hot or mild
1 onion chopped
5 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1 TBS chopped basil
1 TBS chopped fresh sage
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or red chili powder
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups of butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 1/2 cups of chicken stock, or 2 bouillon cubs with 2 1/2 cups of water
salt to taste
1 pound of sea shell pasta, penne rigate, or rigatoni,  cooked according to the package directions
6 TBS Parmesan cheese 
2 TBS butter, softened

In a large skillet, add 1 tbs of the olive oil, when it is hot add the sausage and cook over medium heat until brown.  Break the sausage up into small pieces.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.  

Next, add  2 tbs of olive oil, when the pan is hot, add the onion, garlic, basil and sage.  Cook until the onion and garlic begins to brown. If you are adding the red pepper flakes, this is when you add it. 

Once the onion mix is brown, add the sausage back to the pan.  Mix the ingredients well. Add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring well to loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.  Then add the squash and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.  After that, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce the heat to allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the sauce is done add the butter and the Parmesan or you can add it to the pasta after you pour the sauce over the top. 

While the sauce is cooking, cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain the pasta and put it back into the pot.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Nov 20, 2013

Change I'm sure you can spare

I have been driving by this picture on the side of a building for a few weeks now.  Every night I would tell myself to go take a picture of it.  I think that the message is self explanatory.

Nov 16, 2013

Elizabeth Packard: Sent to an Insane Asylum for speaking her mind

Last week, I went to see a play called: Mrs. Packard.  It was based on the life of Elizabeth Parsons Ware and her life.  Elizabeth was encouraged to marry Theophilus Packard in 1839.  They had six children.  He was a Presbyterian minister who was a diehard Calvinist.  He believed that God was a harsh and judging deity, while she leaned towards a more loving and merciful God, thru Christ, who is our teacher and friend. They also disagreed about child rearing and slavery.  If a wife is not behaving how the husband wishes her to behave, he had the right to commit her to an insane asylum.  That is exactly what her husband did. She was kidnapped from the bathroom and taken to the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois to teach her a lesson. Once the misbehaving wife's spirit is broken, like that of a horse, and pledges that she will obey her husband in everything because he is superior, she is allowed to come back home. Some women refused to lie and spent their entire lives in the institution.

Dr. Mcfarland was the superintendent of the Insane Asylum when Elizabeth first arrived.  At first he took a liking to her, but when she wouldn't bend on her views he sent her to the 8th floor, where the really crazy women resided.  Elizabeth saw the deplorable state of the women and their surroundings that she began cleaning it up. She never was swayed from her views that landed her in such a place. Elizabeth remained in the hospital from 1860-1863.To keep her sanity, Elizabeth wrote about her life in the facility. Paper was smuggled to her by the staff knowing that she was banned from writing.

The picture came from here.
She was then released to go back home to her husband. Who boarded her up in a room in their home.  She managed to write a letter and a neighbor found it. Elizabeth was then released. There was a court case and it took the jury only 7 minutes to declare that Elizabeth was indeed sane. Imagine that.  Her husband moved with the children to another state. It took Elizabeth nine years to get back custody of her children.  Afterwards, she became heavily involved in treatment of the mentally ill and women's rights. She lived to be 81 years old.

As I sat there watching this women's life become a nightmare,  I thought about the millions of women who are living right now.  We just recently read about the little girl named Malala Yousafzai who was shot because she wanted an education. The thousands and thousands of girls who are raped and then thrown aside by their cultures because they are now considered not good enough to marry or are forced to marry the rapist to save the reputation of the family. I could go on and on about this subject. We have advanced with the rights of women here in America and in Europe, but there are areas of the world who are at least 100 years or more behind in their beliefs that women are valuable. I sure would like to see some changes in this area for the better in my lifetime...I really would.  

Nov 14, 2013

Sour Cream Rolls

I love bread and this time of year I enjoy being in the kitchen more.In the newspaper this past weekend this recipe was in with the coupons. The rolls looked so good. So, this evening I made the recipe. The rolls are soft and have the most wonderful flavor.  I will be preparing these for Thanksgiving dinner this year. 

2 1/4 cups of flour
2 TBS sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream
2 TBS butter
1 egg

In a large mixing bowl,  add 1 cup of flour, sugar, yeast (undissolved), and salt.  Heat the sour cream, water, and butter until very warm (120 to 130 Degrees F).  Add to the flour mixture.  Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Next, add the egg and 1 1/4 cups of flour to make a soft batter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 12 muffin pan and spoon equal amounts into each cup. Cover and place in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy! 

Nov 11, 2013

English Sausage Rolls

We have sausage rolls here in the States.  There are massive amounts of meat in them, at least, that is what I have observed. I like meat, but not a mound of it.  When I saw a recipe that Jamie Oliver came up with; I decided to give it a try.  Click on the link and it will take you to his web site. The recipe calls for higher-welfare pork sausages. Higher welfare means that they are organic.  I used Irish bangers from Fresh Market.  They have a lot of imports there.  If you cannot find imported sausage, use any sausage that you like or use ground lamb, chicken or beef. 

I did make this recipe two ways.  I asked my neighbor, who is English, how she makes her sausage rolls.  She told me that traditionally they don't season theirs, but roll the sausage up in the pastry and bake it. I prefer it with a little spice.  


1-2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked
2-3 TBS breadcrumbs, I used Italian
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 lb sausage or any ground meat you prefer
1 package ready made puff pastry
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onions.  Cook until they are golden brown. Next add the sage leaves, cook for a couple of minutes or until crispy (crispy is my preference).  Take off the heat and set aside to cool. Crumple the sage when it is cool.

Remove the casings from the sausage and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Add the sage, onion, nutmeg,and breadcrumbs. Mix well.

Put the pastry onto a floured surface. Roll out into a big rectangle, then split it down the middle so that you have two.Shape the sausage mixture into logs and place on the pastry about an inch from the edge.  Brush the end with egg and roll it up. Seal the end with egg.  Cut into whatever size you like.  Place on a greased baking sheet and brush with egg.  Bake about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  This is great with a salad.  Enjoy!

Oct 29, 2013

Potato Shaped Like a Heart

I am sure that this happens all of the time, but not on my watch. The other day I brought home a bag of potatoes and found one that was shaped like a heart.  I converted the photo into a sketch drawing.  Cool!

Oct 27, 2013

The Creepiest kind of Pictures: Postmortem Photography

When I was a little girl, I went to two houses where the body of the deceased was being held until the funeral took place.  One of those houses was that of an uncle and my grandfather was placed in the living room. Dead people terrified me.  Their stiff limbs and torso with the unnatural pallor of their skin sent shivers up my spine. I can still see these images in my mind and it disturbs me.
I have a pet peeve with funerals. It's with the taking pictures of the corpse. I know that people want to remember the deceased.  But I would much rather have a picture of the person while they are still alive rather than one of them in the casket. (I have a picture of my father that is currently in the basement and wish that I had never seen it.)  While looking at videos on Youtube the other day I saw a snippet of post-mortem photography. So, I clicked on the links and they took me here and here. Eerily, I looked at the photographs with the unnatural poses for the dead. I had a hard time sleeping that night.

Here is what I found out: In the Victorian Era, the mortality rate was very high, especially with small children and babies. The parents wanted a photograph in which to remember the deceased.  They even had posing poles so that the corpse could be photographed standing up. There were many pictures of adults standing up holding their children or men standing alone with a partial view of the stand behind them.  The thing is this, they didn't have that many pictures taken due to lack of money.  So, when someone died they called in the photographer. The family was very proud of these pictures and hung them in their homes, sent them to relatives, and wore them around their necks in lockets.  I don't know about you, but I am glad that this is not part of our culture anymore because, quite frankly, it gives me the creeps. 

P.S. The above photograph is not postmortem, it is a picture of John and Sally Smith with their children. (some of my relatives)

Oct 22, 2013

The Truth about the lady getting burned by McDonald's coffee

I just watched a video about the lady who sued McDonald's for spilling a cup of hot coffee on herself. Did you know that she had third degree burns in her groin area?  No, I didn't either. Did you know that she was the passenger, not the driver? Nope. Did you know that she spent several days in the hospital because of the burns? Me neither. Actually, the truth about what really happened got totally weeded out of the story. The general public was not told the "whole story" as to what happened to her. Or should I say that it was considerably watered down by the time it really got out there. It was like an urban legend, there may be a small bit of truth to the story. Oh she lived a life of misery after that, the butt of so many jokes.  And she didn't get 3 million dollars either, it was more like in the hundreds of thousands.

And yet, we trust the news more than we should.

Oct 18, 2013

Sticks and stones may break my bones....but words do hurt.

Every Thursday I go to a memoirs writing class.  Each of us have a story within us.  Sometimes the stories are happy or sometimes they are sad.  I have been writing about my recent marriage and other memories.  Sometimes we just need to let it all out, whether we write in a journal, as a story, or face to face with a friend or loved one. It is then we can start to finally heal.

I am the youngest person in the class.  Most of my classmates are 20 or more years my senior, and yet, I feel very comfortable amongst them. Any one of the men and women could be my mother or father. It is amazing to me how things that were either said or done to us can leave a lasting mark on our lives, even if it happened 60 years before. The memory of it continues to linger in the back of our minds. When the memory comes back to the surface there is rage and many times tears.

I sat next to a woman yesterday who had such a traumatic experience in Catholic school by a nun that she still finds it hard to talk about.  Her 5th grade teacher was a nun and made her life miserable.  From the time she arrived in the class until the end of the year the girl's life was one traumatic event after another.  The nun would shame the girl into thinking that she was worthless and the children whose father's made more money was better than she was and it was best that she not communicate with them. Those words spoken to her stuck in her mind all of these years.  Tears started flowing before my classmate began reading her story. I wanted so badly to hold her in my arms and comfort her. Often we hear stories about adults traumatizing children and literally making their lives hell.  These poor innocent souls are placed in the care of adults who can either make or break our spirit.  Her spirit is still broken.  No child deserves to be mistreated.  All they want is love and acceptance, and maybe some candy too. 

Do you have any memories that bring you pain?  I know that I do.

Oct 13, 2013

The Railway Man: A Review

Today, I finished the book The Railway Man by Eric Lomax. It is a true story based on the life of a Scottish POW captured by the Japanese during WWII.  Lomax carried with him 50 years of hate for the pain and torture that he endured at the hands of his captors, especially by one man in particular. I am not much of a war buff.  Nor do I really read a lot about the subject. However, I am into reading about people's lives.  This is a very moving story of a man, a good one, whose life could have ended in bitterness and hate. He chose to forgive instead.  One of my favorite actors, Colin Firth, is Eric Lomax in the soon to be relased film, The Railway Man in January 2014.  I am very excited that this story is coming to the big screen. When I saw the trailer, I immediately went to the library to borrow the book so that I would be acquainted with Lomax's story.  The books ends with this: "Sometime the hating has to stop."

Oct 10, 2013

A day at the zoo

I have been taking pictures galore this past week.  Since I have gotten my new zoom lens, the pictures have been turning out very well.  I spent four hours with my brother and his family at the zoo.  Photographing a two year old is, well, very challenging. Try holding a toddler still for one second and to photograph to boot tried my nerves and my photography skills.

There were lions.

an ostrich

and there were monkeys

My brother asked his daughter what a monkey says, she said "oo oo oo", the look on my brothers face...priceless.

Oct 5, 2013

Making a step

Just recently, I had my house and garage painted.  Then a new side entry door along with a screen door was installed.  The next thing I needed was a step.  There had never been one there at the side and it was very high to try and get into without grabbing onto the walls.  I went to the store to find out how much a single cement step would cost.  The man quoted me $110.00, which I think is very expensive.  He took me out into the yard where all of the stones were kept.  As I looked around I noticed that there were retaining wall stones that would do just fine for my need and at a much reduced cost.  I told the man that I could make a step out of any of the stones he had for sale for a fraction of the cost.  He said, "Yes you can."  I thanked him for his time and went to work picking out ones that fit together.  I am quite proud of myself. Most of all, I saved myself $90.00. My grand total was $26.00, with the cost of the construction glue.  


Oct 3, 2013


Her story begins with a letter. It was thick and written by hand, an art form that has since been tossed aside for a keyboard and a screen.  In this letter were dates, names, and locations; family that she never knew existed.  But her story really began long before the letter, its genesis in a place and a country that is in her blood with a deep longing to return. Her ancestors are calling to her.  “Do not forget us”, they cry. “We are part of you.”

When she was in her mid twenties she met her great aunt from Georgia.  Her aunt lived in the same small town where the young woman’s mother was born. The Aunt was old and bent over from working endless hours in the carpet mill.  She told the young woman about the many hours she spent in the library digging for her roots. This was long before the internet and Where books, wills, and the census were harder to locate than it is now. The young woman returned home wondering if she was intelligent enough to begin her own search. It seemed like it was a very daunting task.

William Sealsbury Campbell & Delphia Jane Massey

Ten years went by before the young woman thought to give researching a try.  Her mother passed away when she was 33 and the desire to know more about from whence she came was stronger than ever.  She was very unsure what to do or where to go for help. Then a friend told her about a woman, who’s IQ was equal to Forrest Gump, who could help with the research.  She gave what bit of information that she had to the researcher and waited in anticipation.  Before long a new generation was discovered.  Questions were asked and the young woman told herself that if the researcher can do this, then so can she.

Oh the quest wasn’t easy.  There was so much to learn, so many avenues to take to reach the same goal.  Then there were the names. Oh the names!  There was Wesley, Elbert, Seal, James, Archibald, James, and another Archibald.  Rarely did these men go by there first names, which made the digging all the worse.  Wrong names were listed on documents galore. In exasperation she wanted to bang her head on the wall.  She worked tirelessly to find the right names, the right connections. She ran into brick walls, and then by some miracle found a break through. On and on she went, trudging through paperwork like a soldier going to war.

William Sealsbury Campbell & Delphia Jane Massey
Each generation represented our country. They stood up for this great nation. Her family fought in World War I & II, the Civil War, the War of 1812, and the Revolutionary War.  Her mother would be very proud to know that her daughter found the path that was paved back to the beginning of this nation by her ancestors.  She felt honored, but most of all blessed.  When she found two relatives who fought in the Revolution, she then thought that she just might want to become a daughter.  Not just any daughter, but a Daughter of the American Revolution.  The application was filled out, the mound of documents copied and stapled together, then sent to the gods, hoping for approval.  In a few short weeks the answer came. Then she smiled.  

The “she” in this story is me.