Friday, July 18, 2014

Family Recipes

Many families have recipes that have been handed down, and dishes that evoke childhood.  My family memories revolve around food too.  Grandma Nellie making chicken cacciatore (which as a child I was really disappointed in but now love), Grandpa Eddie's veal cutlet (no dish even in Austria comes close), Aunt Elinore cookies, Aunt Kathryn's vegetable soup... but one recipe my cousins, aunts, sister, mother and I still think about are Grandma Elsie's pickles.

Grandma's recipe box got lost at some point- she may have thrown it away herself accidentally, and my mother and aunts have most of the recipes anyway, but no one has the pickle one.  These pickles were a big production.  She got a big crock from a yard sale or something like that.  I don't know if she ever made them before she was retired or if it was a nostalgic food memory of her own, but I remember she had to hunt down little cucumbers at the farmers market, and I remember all the grandchildren looking at the scum-covered crock in horror.  We would go down in the basement and peek at it as a dare.  But most of all I remember the sharp spicy taste of those pickles.  Last summer a new friend mentioned making pickles, and I asked her about them.  She said that type is called "crock pickles" and she had never made them.  I did some research, and the longer they ferment, the spicier they become.  One of my aunts thought Grandma might have put horseradish in too.  So this morning, I bought some little cucumbers from a farm market and I made a batch of crock pickles.  I am using a big glass jar, and the cucumbers are bigger than the ones Grandma used, but it is an experiment.  Next summer I will grow little cucumbers in my garden, and if this batch comes even close, I will also buy a big crock to ferment them in. 
My crock pickles in the basement on the first day.

It would be fun to write a cookbook that gathers these family recipes along with the stories about the relative it came from.  We even have some cards still written by the original great-aunt or grandmother.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

When I'm not in the office...

I work from home, or rather from wherever my laptop is.  One of my clients asked me what my office is like.  It actually doubles as a fiber art studio, but I have a window by my desk, so I can look outside in the winter and watch the birds at the feeder.  In the nice weather, I go out here and sit by my pond.  If you look closely, you can see a couple of my goldfish.


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Where genealogy and sewing collide

I have been on a sewing binge.  I was inspired this spring to make a 1920's theme summer wardrobe, and I was adding a chambray dress today when I ran out of light blue thread.  I did not buy matching thread because I was sure I had several spools, but the full spool is buttonhole thread, so too thick for the sewing machine.  I looked in my thread basket and in the box of student supplies for a class I want to teach, and nothing...  Not wanting to trek back to the fabric store, I was ready to quit for the weekend when I remembered one other place.  I inherited my Grandma's sewing box. 


It isn't really a box; it is one of those 1950's cocktail boxes.  She didn't drink cocktails and she didn't sew, but there were two spools of cadet blue thread in there!  I remember when I was a little girl, and already sewing that she told me she took millinery instead of sewing in school, and regretted it.  So why did she have so much blue thread?  I realized it was for my Grandpa's uniforms- he was a bus driver for RTS his entire working life, and his father did the same before him on trolleys and then buses.  A couple of weeks ago I bought a commemorative set of RTS tokens in honor of them. 


Now I will also be wearing a piece of my heritage!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Dress, Part 2...

The poor dress was in such bad condition, but at least now it looks like a dress and not a dishrag.  There is a label inside that says "Oppenheim & Collins, Co."  This was a women's clothing store established in New York city in 1901, and in Buffalo, NY in 1905.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppenheim_Collins)


This is the front of the dress, I believe.  There is an underlayer of silk that has completely disintegrated, and the brown net trim is very fragile and is staining the cream color.  But the beading is fairly intact.



This is the dress from the back.  I don't know if the low V was possibly lined.  I am also guessing about the placement of the beaded belt around the waist.  There are several snaps and hook and eyes that I cannot match up.  But there was some mending done on the dress before I did any, so it is possible someone else moved things around.


The dress is really too fragile to hang up, let alone wear, and I think it will be placed back in the dresser at the museum for the next person to discover. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Historic Wedding Dresses


I spent the day volunteering at Historic Palmyra Museums, helping set up an exhibit of wedding dresses.  I have always been partial to historic costume and to lace.  We found this dress stuffed in a drawer in the museum, seemingly beyond hope.  It made me sad- it was kind of like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  This was once a beaded lace dress, maybe about 1910.  After we sorted through the rest of the items in the dresser, I pulled it back out, and asked the curator if I could take it home and attempt to restore it a little.  She agreed, as I really can't make it worse!  Here are the before pictures....  

This is what it looked like when we found it:



Now I have to figure out where the front and back are (and the sleeves, waist....)
Stay tuned for the afters!



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

This is more of a public service post.  It is not about genealogy per se, but it is about friends and family.

I was 2 years ahead of Phil in high school, and although I did not know him personally, several of my close friends acted with him in school plays, and I distinctly remember his performances in The Crucible, M*A*S*H, and Death of a Salesman.

I was angry when I first heard the news, and then very sad and nostalgic as I heard old classmates and friends express sympathy and shock. We all need to learn 3 things which will make Phil's death less of a waste: 1) There should be no stigma to seeking treatment for addiction, addiction can happen even if you use just once- the chemistry of these drugs will cause you to need more each time to get the same high. 2) Treatment has to be available to anyone who needs it, without financial or legal barriers. 3) Talk with your children, friends, etc about addiction. Even if they would not even think about using or even experimenting, they will run into someone who does.  Look at us this week.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My handwriting is bad, but...

While in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago, I did some research into my husband's family.  I was able to solve a couple mysteries.  His cousin had put together a wonderful family tree, and I found the answers to two remaining questions.  But, of course, came home with another mystery!  I believe this excerpt holds the key, but we cannot decipher it.

This is from a parish register in Loikum, Germany in the 1850's.  Normally the godparents names are in this slot.  Because of other information, I believe the mother and possibly the baby died at birth.



The third and fourth lines are "kind ist bald darauf ganz" which means "child is soon quite". 

If anyone has ideas, please let me know!