Friday, November 29, 2013

Top 10 Upcoming Weekend Events

November 28th - December 1st Assateague Island Waterfowl Weekend at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refug, Assateague Island in Virginia 6am - 6pm.

November 28th - December 5th Hannukah.

November 29th thru December 1st the PECO building in Philadelphia will display “The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades Celebrates 125 Years.”.  It is the anniversary of the day Isiah Williamson signed the deed in 1888.

November 29th Black Friday Holiday Deal Shopping Day of the Year.  What do you gotta have?

November 29th Santa Claus arrives in Media, PA and Festival of Lights at the Courthouse 5PM.

Electrical Spectacle at Franklin Square in Philadelphia Santa arrives November 29tH

Waterfront Winterfest Lodge at Penns Landing near River Rink. Opens November 29th Daily Hours 11am - 1am. Light show, craft market winter landscaping and food.

November 30th Devon Prep 5k

November 30th Small Business Saturday Shop and Buy by supporting local small business.

November 30th Rose Tree Park Festival of Lights begins at 5:30 - 9pm night through January 4th.

December 1st  God Jul och Gott Nytt Ar The Swedish Cabin located at 9 Creek Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026 on Sunday,  from 2 PM until 4 PM.  Admission is free but donations are appreciated. Friends of the Swedish Cabin invite you to attend a special event of the season.  We'll have Swedish holiday food from our Julbord, beverages, decorations, and Swedish Christmas music.  Help us decorate our Christmas tree, Julgran, with apples, heart baskets and straw ornaments.  Tour the cabin and warm yourself by a roaring fire. And shop for gifts at our Butiken, too! For more information call 610-237-8064 or 610-449-3577 or e-mail questions to   Come celebrate the holidays Swedish Style at the Trim-A-Swedish-Christmas-Tree Party!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top 10 Reasons We Get Melancholy During the Holidays

I go back and forth debating myself all the time.  Is it a blessing or a curse to have such a vivid memory? Holidays seem to dig up a lot of memories. Out come the skeletons in the closet, in dish form.

The most wonderful time of year?  Define "wonderful". Thanksgiving has its share of memories.  I can chuckle about them but they also leave a lump in my throat.

My Auntie Jean, married to my father's first cousin, came to the U.S. from Canada every year during the Thanksgiving holiday, not for the turkey.  She was a shopaholic and loved Black Friday and the dark meat on the turkey, nobody else did. My father couldn't stand her because she would take my mother shopping all day on Friday.  They literally would shop until they dropped. I went one year and couldn't keep up.  All three of those characters are gone and I miss that interaction of personalities.

I remember my grandmother in the kitchen, she lived with us and did most of the cooking.  Her turkey was okay, nothing stellar that I can remember but her candied sweet potatoes were delicious even before they hit the table. I was attached to her apron strings while she was making those.  She made them in an iron frying pan and that brown sugar juice with butter was scrumptious and there was always some left in the pan that had my name on it.  I have that frying pan. I think I may have burnt the tip of my tongue a time or two but I would risk it for that flavor.  I snatched up the clear tall but small mixing bowl and hand cranked blender she used to make the lemon meringue pie too when we divided up kitchen things in my mothers house. I have never made a lemon meringue pie in my life but I do have the tools.

I found that apron in my attic last week.  My grandmother was a big woman or I was a little kid and it is hard to imagine her wearing it because she was so big but I tried it on and I will be wearing it today. I take it back, now I remember, she was a lean and mean cooking machine.

I took over the holiday cooking almost 25 years ago now.  First it was Thanksgiving and then I inherited Christmas as well. My mother said it got to be too much.

My mother had a fit when I switched up the stuffing recipe and made apple raisin instead of traditional. The following 23 years, I made both. Eventually, I saw her grab for the apple one. This year it will just be apple but if she were still with us, it would be both. How can anyone deny this is good stuffing?

I remember meeting this guy at the World Series final game at a bar in October 1980.  He make a great impression and was invited to the family Thanksgiving dinner that year.  The family approved, he was a good guy.  We watched the Charlie Brown "Great Pumpkin" story on television that night and fell asleep in a recliner chair, on Thanksgiving this was acceptable behavior.  We were not the perfect couple but we shared a lot of special moments.  He gave me a Christmas card with the Charlie Brown characters and it said, When Santa is checking his naughty and nice list, maybe he will gt you mixed up with someone else.  I still have the card. He passed away in February 1982 at the young age of 32.  The card makes me smile with that lump in my throat, nothing naughty about that.

This year my daughter who is an 8 hour drive away at school will not be driving up in this nasty weather for the Thanksgiving gathering and she will surely be missed but we are looking forward to seeing her over break for Christmas.  I of course have mixed emotions about this but driving in all that holiday traffic, I hold my heart and my breath, her safety comforts my sanity. Where does the time go?

I am sure we all have very distinct memories of the holidays. Certain days can just tousle the memory and it is all part of the holiday recipe. Everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the butter and it just keeps getting better. Who can forget the ingredients of the past that make the recipe for the future?

I wish every one a Happy Holiday filled with great memories!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Top 10 Fairmount Park Gingerbread Houses

1. The bad news is these creative works of art "were" on display at Liberty Place, November 4th through November 22nd.

2.  If you missed that news, you missed the houses.  I missed them last year.  I was thinking they would be on display through the holiday season.  I held that disappointment for a whole year.  Women can do that.

3. The good news is something triggered my memory.  Ah, it was cousin Maureen telling me about the new "Electrical Spectacle" display this year at Franklin Square.

4. I googled "Fairmount House Gingerbread Houses", apparently I am not keeping up on social media, I missed this announcement.

5.  The good news, I search on November 20 and was able to go and see them on November 21st.  They were awesome.

6.  It helps to have a little background to know what these houses look like to begin with.

7.  Cedar Grove is the only one I have not seen before and I did think the carousel was from Franklin Square but that would not be Fairmount Park.

8.  There were reported to be 13 but I only saw 12.  I have my own suspicions as to why this happened.

9.  Have you even attempted to make a gingerbread house on your own?  I believe the strength of the construction lies in the icing.  It has to be like glue.  Patience must also be a contributing factor and creativity plus skill, that just goes without saying. Best tip, use leftover Halloween candy.  It times out just right and chocolate is just not acceptable.  You need something to keep up your strength as your creative juice flow and chocolate works for that.

10.  If you are like me, and you have tried this once, you know it is best to leave this to the professionals but you can always admire from afar. I am not sure why they display these houses so early.  Maybe they auction them off for a good cause, that would be a nice thing to do.  Plan early next year to get down and see these magnificent masterpieces and as a heads up, you can visit some of the real houses, throughout the year as they hold special events. Check out for dates and times during the holiday season. I took the tour last year and highly recommend it.  You can take group tours or individual tours.  I am looking forward to Strawberry Hill and Cedar Grove they were not available last year.

The good news, if you missed the gingerbread display I have pictures go to to see them.

Belmont Mansion created by Chefs Andrea Sonday, Charles Gallagher, and Erica Robinson of Denise’s Bakery 

Cedar Grove created by STARR Restaurant Group 

 Laurel Hill Mansion created by Chef Julie Quay of The Culinary Arts Institute of Montco. Community College 

 Laurel Hill Cemetery created by Chefs Ian and Devon McCrimmon of Danish Bakers 

 Lemon Hill created by Chef Jessica Mogardo of Garces Catering

  Mount Pleasant created by Chef Peter Scarola of R2L 

 Ormiston created by Chef Andrea Histand of Town Crier Bakery 

 Please Touch Museum created by Chef James Rodebaugh of Brûlée Catering

Ryerrs Museum and Library created by Chef Davina Soondrum of Fitler Dining Room and Pub and Kitchen

 Smith Memorial Playground created by Chef Michele of The Art of Bread 

Strawberry Mansion created by Chef James Rodebaugh of Brûlée Catering 

 Woodford Mansion created by Chef Diana Anello of Bredenbeck’s Bakery 

This house is listed in the brochure Thomas Mansion created by Chefs Christine Luby and Marie Whitehead of Drexel University's Center for Hospitality and Sports Management but I did not see it when I was there on November 21st. My only conclusion, someone could not wait any longer it looked too good not to eat and someone did eat it. I wish I would have gotten there earlier.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top 10 Items on the Thanksgiving Menu

1. Turkey

2.  Mash Potatoes

3.  Stuffing

4. Cranberry Sauce

5. Corn

6. Something green (Peas, green beans, Lima beans or broccoli)

7. Sweet potatoes (yes you can have both)

8. Dinner rolls

9. Dessert (pumpkin pie is the standard but just about anything goes).  You should wait a few minutes at least in between courses.

10. The Parade is on during cooking and after the meal, conversation and football in separate rooms of course. 

So what is on your plate?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Top 10 Reasons I Don't Agree with New Holiday Shopping Hours

Traditions should stand up to time!

Thanksgiving is a "national" day off except for emergency personnel or it should be.

Shopping is not an emergency. 

An extra day of shopping means extra spending.

Somebodies turkey will not get cooked.

Dinner will get cold.

Drowsy drivers on the road after all that tryptophan.

The rest will be erratic and all juiced up on caffeine.

Who is going to do the dishes?

We are always rushing time and rarely stop to enjoy the moment. UGH and bah humbug.

Thanksgiving used to be my favorite holiday. The only thing you have to worry about is the presence of family gathered round your table and to give thanks for that.  Now "they" want to ruin that too.  Time to address "they".  Who makes these decisions anyway? It is certainly not the turkeys?  Or is it? Maybe a little deflection is going on? What are we praising here?  The "Almighty Dollar"?  I say watch your wallet those charge bills turn around pretty quickly. I appreciate a bargain as much as anyone but let them eat pie and enjoy one holiday at a time.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Top 10 Fifty Years Ago Today Remembering JFK

1. Home of the Kennedy Family at 83 Beals Street in  Brookline, Massachusetts where JFK's family lived when he was born in 1917. You can take a virtual tour online with the voice of the Kennedy matriarch Rose Kennedy. He lived there for ten years through the fourth grade.

2. Lieutenant John F. Kennedy was a decorated hero during World War II.  He received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for courage, endurance and excellence in leadership. He also received a Purple Heart for his injuries.

3. He is the only President to date to win the Pulitzer Prize for writing Profiles in Courage while he was recuperating from a back operation. I have been reading this book and found the Senators that he selected an interesting bunch of men. I am up to Sam Houston.

4. Senator John F. Kennedy came to Chester on October 29th, 1960 during his presidential campaign.  I was four years old, I remember the police motorcyle escort coming down the street.  I had a great vantage point from our porch on Edgemont Avenue. I saw his car go by but I mostly remember the motorcycle escorts. You can read a transcript from that speech at the John F. Kennedy Library Museum website.  Note, he mentions the rain.  You can see the rain on the car window in the picture.

5. He ran a tough campaign against Vice President Richard Nixon and won by a very narrow margin.  He went to sleep at 4AM not knowing if he had won the election or not.

6. He was elected 35th President of the United States in 1961.

7. To date he has been the only non-Protestant President.  He was a Catholic.

8. He was a very popular president that faced a lot of challenges while he was in office. The Bay of Pigs was a great disappointment to him.  The Cuban Missile Crisis was a averted and people were starting to stand up for equal rights.

9. The events surrounding his assassinated are still a debated topic.  One thing no one can dispute, it was a crime to strike down a man so young in his prime who never got to reach his full potential. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963, fifty years ago today. Allegedly, Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone and shot and killed the President of the United States.  It was a shock wave heard around the world. The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas is still a haunting place to visit.  I have been there twice and each time I heard an emergency vehicle pass through that intersection and down under the bridge just as the president's convertible would have sped on November 22nd.

10. He is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with his wife Jacqueline and two of their infant children.  He is one of only two presidents that are buried at Arlington. Taft is the other.  Two of his brothers Robert and Edward (Ted) are buried nearby. His grave is one of the most popular stops for visitors and silence is requested out of respect.

 President John F. Kennedy

Senator Robert F. Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Top 10 Reasons to Quit Smoking




Lung Disease

Heart Disease

Stains teeth and causes wrinkles

Subject to higher insurance rates

Dulls taste buds and causes bad breath

Odor gets into clothes and leaves a yellow film on painted walls

There is no better day to quit or to get on a plan to quit than today.

Today is the Great American Smokeout.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Top 10 Upcoming Events in November

Jumping ahead on some of these things but it doesn't hurt to prepare.

November 21st Great American Smokeout

November 22nd 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of JFK. Newseum in Washington D.C. has a collection of photographs taken by Kennedy's personal photographer, this exhibit is on until January 5th 2014. Dallas events and Arlington National Cemetery is holding a special event at the JFK gravesite on November 20th.

November 22 Penn Medicine is hosting a CANPREVENT Lung Cancer Educational Conference
8am - 11:30AM at the Hilton Hotel 4200 City Avenue, Philadelphia. Check link to register and for more information.

November 23rd Philadelphia Soul is holding tryouts Pre registration $60 Day of $80.

November 28th 6ABC and Dunkin Donuts sponsored Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia 8:30am to Noon.

November 28th Frost Bite Run 8:30 am - 11 am at the Thomas Massey House also antique car show and rally.

November 28th - December 1st Assateague Island Waterfowl Weekend at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refug, Assateague Island in Virginia 6am - 6pm.

November 28th - December 5th Hannukah.

November 29th Santa Claus arrives in Media, PA and Festival of Lights at the Courthouse 5PM.

November 30th Devon Prep 5k

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Top 10 Civil War Cemeteries

1.  Gettysburg National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 3,500 Union soldiers from the civil war, casualties of the Battle of Gettysburg. President Abraham Lincoln attended the Consecration of the Soldiers National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.  Today is the 150th Anniversary of his famous speech the Gettysburg Address. You can watch a livestream.  The time 10am-11:30am. You can also reach the link through gettysburgfoundation website.

2. Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia was established as a military burial ground in 1864 on the grounds of the home of General Robert E. Lee and his wife.  She was a descendant of Martha Washington, the wife of our first president, George Washington.  The property was put up for public sale after the taxes were not paid in person.  Mrs. Lee had relocated during the war and did not return to pay her taxes.  General Meigs oversaw operations and it was his intention to make the property uninhabitable should the Lee family ever choose to return. Meigs created a deep rooted connection to the land and the war.  He built a burial vault in the rose garden and buried the remains of 1,800 Union casualties of the Battle of Bull Run. Arlington is not the largest national military cemetery in our country. I was surprised to find that out, but it is the most visited. It is a must visit for various notable graves located there but its origin is a compelling and stinging tale. Calverton National Cemetery established in 1978 located on Long Island in New York is the largest with 1.45 acres. Arlington National Cemetery is 624 acres.  it is hard to imagine a cemetery larger than Arlington.

3. City Point National Cemetery, Hopewell, Virginia The cemetery was established to reinter soldiers who were buried in the seven nearby hospital cemeteries and those from makeshift battlefield plots throughout the area. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

 Army of the James Monument was erected n 1865, City Point National Cemetery

4. Cold Harbor National Cemetery was established 1866 in Mechanicsville, Hanover County, Virginia on the site of the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Bodies were collected from a 22 mile radius. It was designed by Montgomery C. Meigs. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Monument to the Unknowns erected in 1877 erected by the federal government to commemorate 889 unknown Union soldiers buried in the back trenches of the cemetery.

The Pennsylvania Monument was erected in 1909 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The 8th New York Heavy Artillery Monument was erected in 1909 by the state of New York.

5.  Philadelphia National Cemetery is located in Philadelphia just north of Germantown. It was established as a cemetery in 1862 and became one of the first 14 national cemeteries. National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

1911 Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument

6. Finn's Point National Cemetery is located in Pennsville, New Jersey and has the remains of soldiers from both sides of the Civil War who died while imprisoned at Fort Delaware across the river. National Register of Historic Places in 1978.

Confederate Monument was erected in 1910 by the U.S. government to memorialize the Confederate soldiers that are buried here.

Union Monument was erected in 1879 in memory of the 135 Union guards who died on duty at 
Fort Delaware.

Fort Delaware view from the New Jersey side of the Delaware River was a prisoner of war facility during the Civil War.

7. Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia is not a National Cemetery but I believe it houses the remains of more Confederate soldiers than any other cemetery in the south.  Jefferson Davis, George Pickett and J. E. B. Stuart are among the Confederates buried here. Two former Presidents of the United States are also buried here, James Monroe 5th and John Tyler 10th President of the United States. Hollywood Cemetery was designed in 1847 by the noted architect, John Notman of Philadelphia.  It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1969.

Confederate Monument Pyramid

Jefferson Davis

George Pickett

J. E. B. Stuart

8. Mount Moriah Cemetery is located in southwest Philadelphia and partly in Yeadon, Delaware County.  It is an enormous cemetery that has at least two sections for the military. Almost immediately upon entering the cemetery we were approached by a pick up truck asking if we could be helped. At first, I almost felt like we were trespassing on private property.  I told him we were looking for civil war veterans that I had read about being buried there.  He lead us on a overgrown path with potholes and took us directly to it.  He also mention the other military section and how to get there and he gave us a brief synopsis of the state of the cemetery and why it looked in such disrepair.  To accurately get that complete story I recommended Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Things have improved by their volunteer efforts but there is a lot of work to be done there. Wikipedia says it is 380 acres and is the largest cemetery in Pennsylvania. The Friends of Mount Moriah mention about 200 acres according to real estate records. It was incorporated in 1855.


9. Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded in 1836.  It is not a National Cemetery but it is listed in National Register of Historic Places (1977) and listed as a National Historic Landmark (1998).  It contains the remains of several casualties of war and soldiers from both sides of the civil war conflict between the north and south, General George Meade is buried there along with 39 other civil war era generals. It is also a who's who of prominent Philadelphia names, legendary sports announcer Harry Kallas is buried there with a microphone as a tombstone marker. Confederate General Pemberton  was born in Philadelphia but married into a Virginia family.  He decided to go South. He is buried at Laurel Hill and there was quite an uproar from other war hero families when they wanted to bury him there. I haven't found him yet. Laurel Hill has events going on all the time, upcoming is a walk Laurel Hill's Legendary Civil War Ladies on Saturday November 23rd.

10. Chester Rural Cemetery in Chester is not a national cemetery but the first interments were soldiers from the civil war, I am told.  The deceased soldiers came from the U.S. Government Hospital across the street.  I thought I read it somewhere and if I find it again I will link it, many of these patients died of measles and some were prisoners from nearby Fort Delaware. I did find a link that speaks about the Confederate soldiers and if you find the list of names of folks buried in Chester Rural (I saw the list from a link at next to some of the names you will see RM that means removed.

Soldiers Circle at Chester Rural Cemetery contains the remains of several veterans.  The outer circle are those that fought in the civil war.

U.S. Government Hospital in Chester, PA later to be known as Crozer Theological Seminary a school attended by Martin Luther King.

 I was told there were several "Confederate soldiers" that were buried in Chester Rural at one time and their bodies had been moved to a cemetery in Virginia.  I went on the hunt for these men. Since I had recently been to Hollywood Cemetery in Virginia, I wondered if there was a connection.

I went to the Hollywood website and sent an email of my inquiry.  A woman from the office replied within a few hours and said she has no record of that but my question intrigued her and she would get an answer for me. A day later, I received another reply, this one also had attached information from the local historian.  His reply,

They are talking about the Gettysburg Dead that died as POW's in Chester, PA.

The men were not returned to VA. The Dabney Maury UDC Chapter wanted to place a memorial to their memory and were rejected and the monument is in Hollywood. Somehow that's been twisted over the years to include removal of the men.

 I believe the Gettysburg Dead stone pictured under Hollywood Cemetery may be the tribute to these men in the south. That is my conclusion of the information, I received.

So, I was now intrigued, there is a list of people buried by section in Chester Rural at search "cemeteries" and you will find it.  There is a RM section, it is for the bodies that have been removed.  I have not done a comparison but I kept googling Confederates buried in Chester Rural.  There are some interesting stories in forums through ancestry etc. but what I found as a clue was that soldiers were moved to Philadelphia National Cemetery and last Memorial Day weekend I went and there they were. During my search, I also came across Mount Moriah Cemetery as a location where civil war causalities were buried and that opened up a history all its own, to accurately keep up with that story go to Friends of Mount Moriah.

Cemeteries certainly hold a lot of history and have many stories to tell. This is only a list of 10.

Facts Sheet about National Cemeteries can be found at the Department of Veterans Affairs website.  The first 14 national cemeteries were established in 1862.