Posted by: marthabernie | September 2, 2014


This is another family favorite that my mother made in December each year.  She kept multiple tins on the dining room table and as people came by during the holidays, she sent everyone home with a small box of cookies from the tins.  This bar keeps well in an air tight container.

Cover 2/3 cup dried apricots with water, boil ten minutes.  Drain, cool and chop.

Mix together until crumbly:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

Press into an 8 x 8 x 2 pan.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Sift together

1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Mix with 2 well beaten eggs and one cup brown sugar.  Add flour mixture.  Stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts and the apricots.  Spread over baked layer.  Bake 30 minutes more at 350 degrees F.  Cool.  Cut into squares and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Posted by: marthabernie | September 1, 2014



Posted by: marthabernie | August 31, 2014


Just before you get to the town and beach at Greystones, there is a marina of sorts.  Here is a shot across the boats while, as you can see, the tide was out.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 31, 2014

Limoncello Cheesecake {No-Bake}

Limoncello Cheesecake {No-Bake}.

I had no idea that Dame Judi Dench sang!  See link below.

Life’s Playlist… Send in the Clowns performed by Dame Judi Dench.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 29, 2014


Ireland has several mountian ranges, but most of the country is rolling hillsides.  This photo was taken on a drive through Wicklow.  We had left the coast and were heading toward Glendalough.  Keep in mind that mountains in Ireland are not like mountains in say, California, Nevada or Colorado.  They only go as high as 3,000 or 4,000 feet in height, but they are mountains all the same.  The Wicklow Mountains are the largest range in Ireland, spreading from County Dublin, all the way through County Wicklow and then into County Carlow.  Wicklow is also known as the Garden County.

People who have not been to Ireland often ask me if Ireland is really as green as it appears in photos.  It is.  This photo reminds me of the Johnny Cash song, “Forty Shades of Green” which he wrote after a trip to Ireland!

Posted by: marthabernie | August 28, 2014

Maggie Monday: Lemon Velvet Cake

Maggie Monday: Lemon Velvet Cake.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 28, 2014


I used a Canon AE-1 35 mm camera for about twenty years.  I rarely did anything but put it on AUTO, point and shoot.  On this day in early December, 1996, I was walking around Dublin in rather chilly weather.  It had frosted the night before, and when I started on my trek that morning, there were still a few skiffs of ice on the river.

When I got to this bridge to go across to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I stopped and was amazed at the reflection of the Four Courts and other buildings on the Liffey.  It was blindingly bright that morning so I took a few shots with the AUTO setting and then fiddled with the other settings just to see what would happen.  I don’t know what I did or how this photo came out the way it did, but here it is.  I’ve never taken a photography class, and I paid little attention to the settings on the camera except when I thought I might get a better shot (and most of those turned out to be duds–remember this was in the day of film, not digital).  I still wish I had known how to get the sky and background less bright, but I did not use filters either, so this is it!

Posted by: marthabernie | August 27, 2014

Notes from a small dog XLIII

I posted earlier this week about the blog, Daily Echo.  My favorite posts are from Ani…click on link below:

Notes from a small dog XLIII.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 26, 2014


My mother’s family lived about five miles outside of Phillipsburg proper and did not go to the Phillipsburg School in the town.  Their school was the Union School.   This photo of the Phillipsburg School children in 1919 was given to me by a relative in 1997.  It’s always easy to find cousin Warren McMenus  in photos as for some reason, he looked exactly the same as a baby, as a child and as an adult.  Below is a portion of the photo I have cropped out and enlarged.  That’s Warren in the back row with the cap pulled over his ears, standing left of the girl in the plaid dress.  Directly below him could be a cousin, either Reba or Francie McMenus, but I am not sure as Reba might have already been out of school by 1919.  Warren’s younger brother, Billy, must be in the photo somewhere, but I cannot locate him.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 26, 2014

Mr Fitz chow mein and porky thingy

Here is another blog site I enjoy:

Mr Fitz chow mein and porky thingy.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 26, 2014

Chocolate Orange Brownies

Chocolate Orange Brownies.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 25, 2014


About 16 miles south of Dublin along the Wicklow coast is a little town called Greystones. It was named for a stretch of coastline between two beaches where grey stones were found.  There are a couple places on this part of the Irish coast where the beaches are covered  with stones rather than sand.  It’s a leftover from the Ice Age or some such thing.

What I like about Greystones is that after the tourists go home in the summer, it is a sleepy little town with beautiful views of the Irish Sea, the Wicklow Mountains and Bray Head.  It’s another little place that doesn’t seem to change much.  These three photos were taken on two different trips.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 25, 2014


When my Great Aunt Anna Faulkner moved with her family to Montana from Conway, Missouri in 1906, her two girls left many friends behind who corresponded with them for many years.  This photo was taken in 1907 and sent to Ednah Faulkner in Stevensville, MT.  These were obviously good friends of hers as they referred to themselves as the “Sorority Girls.”  I have wondered for years who these girls in the photo were, not knowing anything other than three of them were named Ethel, Edna and Florence.  The photo has “taken in front of Warren’s store” written in the upper left corner.  Warren’s was a store in Conway.  They seem to be sitting on the front porch or sidewalk, and most of them are wearing some sort of ribbon.

The back of the card reads, “Pink and white, pink and white, happy workers, we’re all right!  Yours lovingly, Edna, Ethel & Florence with best wishes from all Sorority Girls.”  There is a PS at the top, “I’ve had this over a month.  I thot I had sent it but I see I haven’t.  I wish I had a postal like you sent the other day.  Why don’t you write?  I’ve been very busy.  We are going to have a musical Friday and I am going to help sing a duet.”

I find this photo very interesting when you think that these were the teenagers in a small town one hundred years ago!  What a time warp!  Also note there appear to be two photos tacked to the wall behind the girls.  I suspect they are photos of the missing Ethyl and Ednah Faulkner who had moved from Conway to Montana with their family but were a big part of this crowd before their departure.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 25, 2014

Summer Fruit Salad

Here is a link to one of my favorite cooking blogs, DO YOU SMELLLLLLLLL..WHAT THE WARRINGS ARE COOKING?

Summer Fruit Salad.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 24, 2014

Return to Fontstown

Here is a link to an Irish photography blog that I really enjoy:

Return to Fontstown.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 24, 2014


Here is another Ballyamloe recipe (reposted) with a lovely photo taken at Ballymaloe House, looking out over the landscape.  This is another of the five or six most viewed posts of all those I have put up in the last 28 months.


This banana bread is on sale at the Ballymaloe Shop at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.  I’ve been cooking from Myrtle and Darina Allen’s cookery books for years, but after finally visiting Ballymaloe House and the Ballymaloe Cookery School in April, it is now my new favorite place.  If you don’t plan to be in Shanagarry any time soon, you can make the banana bread at home by following this recipe, which is found in The Ballymaloe Bread Book, compiled by Tim Allen, Myrtle’s son and Darina’s husband.

NOTESFirst, I have made this with glace cherries, the type you would put in fruitcake–just be sure to wash off the sugar coating first;  have also made it with fresh pitted cherries, as well as dried cherries.  I prefer dried cherries as they mix in well with the sultanas, but if you want a full cherry taste, go with the fresh or glace cherries; second, since it’s hard to find sultanas (light raisins) in the US, use California golden seedless raisins; third, be sure to keep the oven door closed as noted below because the banana bread WILL fall if you open the oven door during the first hour or so.  I speak from experience.  However, it has never fallen when I have opened the oven after the first hour. Last, Since my oven runs a little on the hot side, I bake at 325 degrees Farenheit, to avoid burning on the bottom or sides.  You can also bake this in smaller loaf pans, but it still needs to cook for at least an hour at around 325 degrees.


8 oz. self rising flour

1/2 level teaspoon salt

4 oz butter

6 oz castor sugar (regular granulated sugar)

4 oz sultanas or seedless raisins

1 oz chopped walnuts

4 oz cherries, washed and halved

2 medium eggs, preferably free range

1 lb very ripe bananas, weighed without skins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and salt.  Rub in butter until mixture is crumbly, add sugar and mix again.  Stir in raisins, walnuts and cherries.  Mash bananas with a fork, add the eggs and mix this well into the other ingredients.  Dough will have a soft consistency.  Pour into a loaf tin which has been lined with greaseproof parchment or silicone paper and spread evenly.  Place in the center of the oven and bake for one and a half hours.  It is VITAL that the oven door is not opened during cooking or the banana bread will collapse.

Cool before removing from the tin.  Served in thick slices with soft butter, it’s an ideal accompaniment to an afternoon cup of tea.


Mine is coming out of the oven in about half an hour!


PS  This photo was taken standing in the front drive at Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, County Cork, looking south/southwest.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 23, 2014

A Taste of Donegal 2014 on from 23rd- 25th August

A Taste of Donegal 2014 on from 23rd- 25th August.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 23, 2014

Borris House , County Carlow


This is one of my favorite photographic blogs. I hope you will enjoy Nigel’s great photographs also…

Originally posted on Nigel Borrington:

Borris House 01
Borris House, county Carlow
Landscape Photography : Nigel Borrington

Borris house In county Carlow, is one of Ireland most historic homes as are the Mcmorrough Kavanaghs family who currently still own this wonderful country Estate.

I have visited here many times and was lucky enough to be given a full tour of the grounds and the inside of the house by the owner, while preparing to shoot my first wedding day in the grounds back in 2009.

The images in this post where taken on a somewhat overcast morning in the spring time, I think the softlight added to the atmosphere in and around the grounds.

Borris House History

The ancestral home of the Mcmorrough Kavanaghs, High Kings of Leinster, Borris is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history back to the royal families of ancient Ireland. Set in over six hundred and fifty acres of…

View original 187 more words

Posted by: marthabernie | August 23, 2014


8-23-14:  On my last trip to Ireland, the white horse below was definitely gone but the good news is that there were two new horses at this spot.  More on that soon.

=======================One of the places I like to visit in Ireland is Powerscourt in the very south part of County Dublin.  There is an Italian styled garden there as well as a walled garden, and the views are quite spectacular, both looking out over the gardens from the house and looking back at the house from the bottom of this beautifully landscaped expanse.  I’ve been there many times with friends, and it’s a beautiful drive through Enniskerry to the entrance road which winds past a golf course to the house itself.

They have shops and a restaurant in the main part of the house, and a garden center was added many years ago.  I like to go there to pick up seeds for plant and flower varieities you don’t find in the U.S, and I have many garden accoutrements I purchased there.

The photo above was taken in 2001 on the long drive which runs from the entry gates to the house itself.  On the right hand side of the road is the golf course, but on the left, the land seems to still be privately owned.  I stopped this day to take a look at the white horse which was wearing his protective winter coat.  When I got out of the car, he trotted over to me but did not attempt to cross the ditch which had been dug along what I assumed was the property line.  I talked to him and he came as close as he dared but did not go any further.  Then he trotted over to a tree and scratched his back on a low hanging branch.  He was very frisky at this stage.

For several years, each time I went back to Powerscourt, the white horse was in this field.  Even when I went four years between visits, he was still there.  In winter or very early spring, he always had on his green coat, in summer he didn’t need it.  I always stopped the car and got out, and he would trot over so I could talk to him.   One year I threw a couple of apples across the ditch to him, and he was definitely pleased!   I like to think he remembered me from year to year, but since I know nothing about the memory capacity of horses, I can’t say for certain.  As the years progressed, he seemed more sedate but still interested in my visits.

This past April, I made time to visit Powerscourt but did not see my friend the white horse, and there was no other horse taking his place in the field.  I will, of course, look for him next year, but I suspect old age may have taken him, as it does all of us eventually.  The weather was too fine for him not to be in the field if he was able.

I am often asked why I return to Ireland so often, especially since my Irish ancestry goes back to 1733 and earlier (not exactly like my grandparents got off the boat in 1905).   There are many reasons, but the strongest draws for me are the people first, and then the things that never change, or the things that don’t change very much.   There is a certain continuity for me, and a sense of going home.  I like to say that I often see myself coming and going in Ireland, and I must look like I belong there because I often get stopped by tourists asking directions and other questions of me.  If the white horse is truly gone, then this has changed for me, but I will be happy if I find a new horse in the field next time.   One more photo below.  That’s the Sugar Loaf in the background, a hill that is not too far from the Wicklow Mountains.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 23, 2014


This one came from the back of a C&H Brown Sugar box!   This is made in two layers, so the ingredients are repeated below.   I can taste them as I type!

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 cup shortening (butter works)

1 egg yolk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 whole egg

1 egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup flaked coconut

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Beat together 1/2 cup brown sugar, shortening, egg yolk and vanilla.  Stir in flour sifted with salt and baking powder.  When mixed, pat firmly over bottom of a greased and floured 9 inch square pan.  In same bowl, beat egg and egg white with fork, add rest of ingredients and mix well.  Spread evenly over unbaked layer in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.  Cool in pan.  Cut into squares or small bars.


Posted by: marthabernie | August 23, 2014

Weird weekend – Hob Hurst’s House

Link to a site and posst that I often enjoy; you may also:

Weird weekend – Hob Hurst’s House.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 22, 2014


This photo was taken in 1993 late in the afternoon at Kinsale Harbor.  This was before I gathered the courage to drive on the left side of the road, relying only on buses and trains to get to where I wanted to go.

Kinsale is a beautiful little town.  It boasts lots of restaurants, pubs and shops, and some claim that it is the epicurean center of Ireland.  I was there long enough to take a walking tour of the town and explore Fort Charles, which is across the harbor on the headlands.

Kinsale is where many of the bodies washed ashore after a German U-boat torpedoed and sank the passenger ship, The Lusitiania, on May 7, 1915.  More than two thirds of the passengers drown and some of the unidentified bodies are buried in the graveyard in Kinsale.  This senseless act of destruction was one of the reasons the U.S. decided to enter WWI.

It is also famous for the Battle of Kinsale when the English finally conquered the Gaelic Irish at the end of Queen Elizabeth I’s reign.  It also had to do with England’s final conquest of the Spanish Armada.  In Kinsale they tell tourists that many Spaniards came ashore after the battle and stayed, thus accounting for many of the their dark haired descendants in Ireland today.

There are swans in Kinsale Harbor, as you can see, and they were enjoying the calm while the tide was in.

Below is a photo of the same harbor in clear, bright morning light, and then again at the bottom at sunset.  It’s a beautiful little place, but I recommend that you visit after all the summer holidays makers go home…late September to November is beautiful!

Posted by: marthabernie | August 22, 2014


On my mother’s side of the family, the family surnames are Shank and McMenus.  As I wrote earlier, McMenus is a variation of McManus, and we from Lawrence and Catherine Cattrall (MacCollin) MacManus of North Carolina and earlier from Ireland.  Lawrence was born in Fermanagh, Ireland in 1733, Cattrall also born in Ireland a few years later.  We don’t know if they married there and came to the U.S. or whether they met here and married, but they settled in North Carolina and produced many, many children.

We have one missing link between our Joseph McMenus/McManus and Lawrence McManus, that being Joseph’s father who we believe to be Lawrence’s son, Eli.  This makes perfect sense since the names Joseph and Eli were carried down in each generation of this line of McMenus men for many, many years.  It appears that Eli went to Tennessee from North Carolina when young, married and had four children, Eli, Joseph, Amy and another daughter whose name I cannot remember off the top of my head.  The girls married McGuire brothers in TN and Joseph married Anna Phillips, producing three daughters and another son, Joseph. The elder Joseph went off to war in 1814 just a few days after his baby son was born, and he was dead from measles a few short months later.  Anna remarried a man by the name of Taylor, and had she not written the names and birth dates of her four children by Joseph McManus in the Taylor family bible, we never would have been able to trace the generation back.  That’s what I love about the internet…it has opened up communication between genealogists that never occurred previously.

Father Eli seems to have left the four children in TN (they were nearly grown) and returned to North Carolina, and then went with a sister , her family and in-laws to Ohio.  He lived to be very old and seems to have had these two separate lives.  We assume his first wife died, but it remains a mystery, and I often come across descendants of his first four children who, like me, are trying to tear down the last brick wall and make the documented connection to Eli and then Lawrence McManus.

However, taking the DNA test last year has proven that we are definitely descended from Lawrence as my DNA matched with that of documented descendants of his.

The above photo is the earliest McMenus photo that I have.  It came from a tintype and it is my great gandfather, Joseph McMenus, about 1860-65.  He was born in 1838 in Tenneesee and came with the family to Laclede County, Missouri in 1840.  He married Rebecca Frances Smith in 1860 and they started their family just before he went off to fight in the Civil War for the Union in Company I of the Eighth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry.  He was away fighting when his wife delivered their first child, a boy, but the baby died shortly after birth.  He was home on leave again in 1864 and then went back to the fighting in Arkansas.  He sustained a leg injury when the horse he was riding was shot in the head and was eventually discharged at the rank of sergeant.  His Civil War uniform hangs in a case at the Laclede County Historical Museum in Lebanon, Missouri.  He was an active member of the community and in 1896 was elected circuit court judge for the county.

The next photo is Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus, Joseph’s wife, when she was a girl.  She was born in Greene County, Missouri in 1844.  Her parents were John Wesley Smith and Margaret Clark.  Her mother died when she was a child and her father remarried Fidelia Mariah Wait, a local school teacher, and they produced several half siblings for Rebecca Frances.  Her father was a prosperous merchant and later a judge for more than seven years, also acting as Justice of the Peace.  She was always known as “Aunt Frank” in the family and her corn bread and weaving skills were greatly acclaimed.  I have pieces of a blanket she wove for her daughter, Annie, when Annie married in 1886.  Both the McMenus and Smith families were founding members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Phillipsburg, Missouri.

This next photo shows Joseph McMenus and his three brothers taken about 1895.  That is Jopseh top right, his brother George Prestion top left, brother William S. seated left and brother Eli seated right.  Quite a big difference in Joseph from the young man above, but the eyes and cheekbones are unmistakable!

The last photo below is Rebecca Frances McMenus with her youngest child, daughter Inez McMenus, my grandmother.  Judging from the approximate age of Inez, the photo had to have been taken about 1890.  Rebecca Frances would have been about 46.  I have one other photo of her taken later in her life where she is wearing little glasses on wire frames.  I have them put away with other keepsakes, including the hand carved rolling pin her husband, Joseph, made for her when they married.  It was passed down to daughter, Annie; to Annie’s daughter, Ednah, and then my mother, who was named after Annie.  It has seen a lot of rolling in its time!

I sometimes am asked how someone my age living in 2012 could have a great grandfather born in 1838; they think there should be other generations in there somewhere!  It’s not hard to explain.  The families were very large back in those days, and since the girls got married fairly young, they were often still having children when their older daughters were having children of their own.   There were also gaps between surviving children because so many babies died at birth or while small due to things like pneumonia, measles and whooping cough. So my grandmother was the youngest of a large family; and my mother was one of the youngest in another large family.  I am the youngest in my family, so there are generational gaps.  I have a first cousin who was 25 when I was born.  Other second cousins are 20 or more years older than me.  I see folks on The Antiques Road Show who appear to be about my age and say things like, “This is my great great great grandfather born in 1835.”    They obviously aren’t descended from a string of youngest children!

Posted by: marthabernie | August 22, 2014


According to the blog stats, there are a lot of people out there looking for recipes, both for baking and cooking in general.  Over the next several weeks, I am going to go through my mother’s old cookbook and the pile of handwritten recipes she gathered over the years, as well as my own old standy recipes.  Come back, check often, and tell your friends!

This recipe came from the back of a C&H Sugar box in the 50’s.

3/4 cup (l-l/2 sticks) butter or margarine

3 oz cream cheese

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 cups cake flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans

powdered sugar in shallow dish

Cream together butter and cream cheese (both at room temp).  Gradually add sugar and beat hard.  Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and peel.  Add flour, mixing well.  Stir in pecans.  Push small amount from a teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes or until delicately browned.  While hot, roll in powdered sugar.  Makes about 4 dozen small, rich cookies.


Posted by: marthabernie | August 21, 2014

BENNETTSBRIDGE…Some Things Never Change – Reposted

I posted a photo of the River Nore in Bennettsbridge, County Kilkenny, Ireland several weeks ago.  I took it in April and commented that some things in Ireland never change.  This is one of them.  Not 100% certain what year I took this photo, but the goose population was larger than this year.  It’s a beautiful spot, right next to the Nicholas Mosse Pottery Factory.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 21, 2014


In 2011, Conor and I went to Boston for a few days so we could see the Red Sox play at Fenway.  We stayed at the Commonwealth Hotel which is about three blocks from the park.  Here is the view we had from our third floor room.

The first morning in Boston, we went on a tour of Fenway.   They take you all over the park, and the tour ended at the Big Green Monster where we watched batting practice for that night’s game.  Conor is at the wall, wearing a green Celtics jersey and blue baseball cap.

That night, we went to our first game at Fenway.  Two-thirds of the way through, a very chilly wind came up and in a few minutes, it started to rain.  Conor was very excited because he had never actually been at a game where it rained!  That’s what living in California does to you!  The tarp came out and we waited for about half an hour before the rain stopped and the game re-commenced.  The Red Sox won!

Tickets to Red Sox games are VERY expensive and only available through ticket brokers unless you buy a season package, so the second night we sat in the bleachers.  Photo below shows Conor at the front of the bleachers during the Orioles batting practice.  He got a long fly ball that was hit to center left!    Grass stains on it and everything!  That’s him third from the right in the black t-shirt and blue baseball cap.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 21, 2014

Diabetic-friendly Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

Another link with a low sugar option:

Diabetic-friendly Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 21, 2014


This is another post that gets a lot of hits each week so here it is again….


Today we had the September birthdays celebration at work and we had a chocolate cake as well as the carrot cake from Green Street Restaurant here in Pasadena, California.  Green Street does not give out its recipes, so I don’t have the carrot cake recipe to post, but I do have a recipe for their zucchini bread which is by far the best quick bread you will ever eat.  You must put the exact ingredients in, and don’t substitute maple syrup for maple flavoring.  I don’t know that this is precisely the Green Street recipe, but it’s so close, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference.  So here it is!

Green Street {inspired} Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup salad oil
1 cup each granulated sugar and firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons maple flavoring
2 cups coarsely shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 3 medium-size)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons each baking soda and salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, optional
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Beat eggs until frothy; add oil, sugars, molasses and maple flavoring, and continue beating until mixture is thick and foamy. Stir in shredded zucchini.

a separate bowl, stir together flour, wheat germ, soda, salt, baking powder, and walnuts (if using) until thoroughly blended; stir gently into zucchini mixture just until blended.

Spoon the batter equally into 2 greased and flour-dusted 9 by 5-inch loaf pans. Sprinkle sesame seed evenly over top of each.

Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour or until bread begins to pull away from sides of pans and a wooden skewer inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool in pans for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 20, 2014


I’ve written before about encountering livestock on the backroads and lanes of Ireland.  Well, I came across these pictures from 2005 when we were touring around the country.  Self-explanatory, but yes, that’s the road the cow below is standing on!  And the sheep are dyed different colors on their backs to tell where and to whom they belong.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 20, 2014


Update: 8-20-14 – This is a repost, and has debunked the theory that my great grandmother Marlin was half Cherokee Indian.  No such DNA.  I have also updated the information on The Charles Ferrier Family since I came across a list my grandmother had written with birthdates of the ten kids.====================In case you have not noticed by now, my family on all sides were farm people.  They came from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany and Switzerland as early as 1651 and as late as the first half of the 1700’s.  That’s right…you read it correctly…they were all here by 1750.  No one came over from Ireland during the potato famine in the 1840’s, no one came through Ellis Island during the 1890’s.  They were all here, forging south and west as they put down roots, raised families, and then watched their grown children move even further south and/or west.

I secretly laughed when no fewer than half a dozen people contacted me with excitement earlier this year when made public the 1940’s U.S. Census records.  One friend thought it would be fascinating to be able to see where the ancesters were and what they were doing in 1940.  Another laugh to myself because I already knew exactly where they all were and what they were doing that year.  They were in Missouri, farming, or the younger ones had already migrated across the Dust Bowl and found work in California.

Migration and settlement patterns are for another blog, but suffice it to say that most of the families spent early years in Lancaster County, PA or Virginia.  Two of my 4th great grandfathers fought in the Revolutionary War and received land grants as a result; a 5th great grandfather fought Indians forging into North Carolina.  Some owned slaves before The Civil War and others fought for the Union in that conflict.  They were Mennonites, Primitive Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists.  More recently, my great grandmother on my father’s side was half Cherokee Indian.

The folks in the photo above are Charles Ferrier and his wife Sarah Evelyn Forkner Ferrier.  Charles is on the left end, holding the big puppy, and Sarah (Aunt Ev) is in the middle, holding her little daughter, Nannie Lea.  Charles’ mother, Mary Castinger Ferrier, is seated and dressed all in black.  In the photo are six of their ten children.  Victoria was missing this day for whatever reason so her photo as a young woman was added later on (left of the image).  Behind them is the “big house” they built after their family grew and they became more prosperous.  Based on the approximate age of my grandmother (Dulcie, the smallest girl standing and holding something white and scowling), this photo was probably taken about 1896, but that’s only a guess.    The Ferriers had land that was actually in Dallas County, but they are also associated with Webster County as they lived very near the place where Laclede, Webster and Dallas Counties meet.  Their kids went to the Pack School which is in Laclede County, and they went to church at Warden Chapel, which i in Webster County.

This is a photo of a photo of a photo.  In 1955 when my family visited relatives in Missouri, we went to my great uncle, John Ferrier’s house.  That’s John on the far right.  This photo was framed and hanging on the wall.  My father, who was not the best photographer in the world but had a new camera that produced slides, took two photos.  In the 1990’s, I had a negative made from the slide and here we are today with the results, all cropped and prettied up in Photoshop.  I am so glad my dad thought to take this photo because in 1997 when I visited with John Ferrier’s daughter, she did not remember the photo and had no idea what had become of it after her father died.

The second photo below is the same Charles and Ev Ferrier in old age (1935) taken outside the little split log house they lived in when they were first married.  It was the way of it when you first got married…you lived in whatever empty house was available until you outgrew it and/or had time and money to build a new, larger house.

There is one important and/or interesting fact about the Ferrier Family as it related to my Marlin Family.  The Marlins and the Ferriers were farming in the same vicinity in Scotland in the 1500’s and 1600’s.  By the 1700’s and 1800’s, the Marlin and Ferriers were farming next to each other in a small place called Curran in Derry, Northern Ireland.  More on this soon.   By the 1700’s, the Marlins and Ferriers were living next to each other and marrying in Pennsylvania.  By the late 1700’s and 1800’s, the Marlins and Ferriers were in Tennessee.  Then of course, they ended up in Webster/Dallas County, Missouri.  My niece and I were in Curran, County Derry, Northern Ireland in late June and there is an amazing story to tell….

Posted by: marthabernie | August 20, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara

I want to try this soon, follow the link:

Maggie Monday: Macaroni and Cheese Carbonara.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 19, 2014

Donna Hay orange poppyseed syrup cake

Take a look at this link:

Donna Hay orange poppyseed syrup cake.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 19, 2014


Here is the farmyard photo that I referred to in the last post.  Again, County Carlow, Ireland.  This building is very, very old.

Posted by: marthabernie | August 19, 2014

CONOR and the CATS – Revisited

I’ve previously posted photos of my two cats, Lucy and Boomer.  Well, before these two, we had Marmee and Bella.  Marmee was an orange tabby we got as a kitten, and he was a terror.  In order to slow him down a little, we decided to get a female kitten to keep him company.  They were  always indoor cats, and they were like spouses, sleeping together, grooming each other and never getting into fights unless one of them had been to the vet without the other.  When we moved from West Hollywood to a condo in Studio City, they viewed it as a great adventure and never looked back.  They loved chasing each other up and down the loft stairway in the new digs, especially early on Saturday and Sunday mornings!

When the Northridge Earthquake hit on January 17, 1994, we spent the day digging through the mess (and it was quite a mess, believe me!), picking up things and moving them into piles, trying to figure out what to do next and the most important issue– where to go.  We were still having substantial aftershocks, the condo was damaged, and things were falling as the subsequent earthquakes shook the building.  There was also no power.  I worked for a law firm downtown at the time, and we had done a lot of business with the new Hotel Intercontinental on Bunker Hill.  I called to find out if they would take us (and the cats), and under the circumstances, they had no problem with it.  We found Marmee in a closet, quickly put him in the cat carrier and then started to look for Bella.  There had been no sign of her all day, but this wasn’t surprising.  She often went into hiding when she was stressed by something.   After half an hour of looking under beds, behind furniture and in closets, I started to get a little concerned.  Keep in mind that any piece of furniture that was not bolted to the wall had moved and fallen, and even a couple that were bolted still fell.  I began to worry that Bella had been crushed under a piece of furniture or might have been buried under heavy books, somehow knocked unconcious or worse yet, killed.

By this time, Marmee was loudly protesting from the cat carrier so we let him out and told him to find Bella.  Now, for those of you who are not cat people, please do not laugh!  My daughter had treated these two like puppies from the time they came home with us as kittens, and they were more like dogs than you might think!  They occasionally came when you called them, would fetch something you asked for if they were in the mood to play, and as I said before, they settled into life with each other like an old married couple.  We took Marmee into the master bedroom and told him to find Bella.  He ran to the office bedroom, leaping over debris as he went, and sat in front of the bed there.  We looked under that bed, we even moved it out from the wall.  No Bella.

Next we took Marmee to the loft bedroom and asked him to find Bella.  He ran down the stairs and returned to the office bedroom.  We moved the bed again.  Still no Bella.

The kitchen was a total mess with everything piled 3 feet high in the galley space, so we took Marmee in there and asked him to find Bella.  When he ran to the office bedroom a third time, we knew he was trying to tell the stupid humans something.  He sat in front of the bed and started yowling at the top of his lungs.

We moved the bed further from the wall and took the mattress off the springs.  No Bella.  We pulled the box springs from the frame, and again, no Bella.  The operative word here is “box.”  If you have ever turned over your bed’s box springs, you will know that there are spaces between the coils, and that the whole thing is covered by a thin film of gauze on the bottom.  Well, in her terror of the earthquake and the aftershocks that came in waves all day long, Bella had found a loose piece of gauze and crawled INTO one of the spaces.   When we finally turned the box springs over, there was Bella wrapped around one of the coils.  I wish I had taken a photo of this scene, but at the time, we were so happy to find her, we just pulled her out and tried to comfort her.  She was still terrified.

We had to walk down all the stairs from the 4th floor to the basement garage because the elevator was out.  We got into the car and drove downtown (no damage in the underground parking, thank goodness!).  Leaving the San Fernando Valley was like leaving a war zone.  Buildings were damaged everywhere, especially the older ones, and people were packing their cars and departing all over the valley.  Marmee protested from the cat carrier throughout the trip.  At that time, he only associated the car with a trip to the vet, and he seemed to be telling us that he’d been through enough already that day, how could we possibly be adding insult to injury by taking him to the vet?  Bella occasionally added her own voice to the protest.

When we got to the hotel, the pair of them went instantly quiet.  They knew this was something new and different.  We checked in and took the elevator to the 8th floor.  The cats ran straight under the bed as soon as we got to the room.  They were not interested in cat food for the first couple of days in the hotel.  I finally ordered swordfish and enticed them up on the room service cart to have a few bites.  They were OK after that.  Every time the room service cart arrived, they thought it was their breakfast or dinner time!

Marmee and Bella moved with us to temporary digs in Pasadena a couple of weeks later, and then moved to the house in Woodland Hills in October, 1994.  When I moved to the townhouse in 2004, they once again moved without any issues.  They were definitely people cats and not environment or territory cats.  They went with us wherever and never had any problems.

Bella was a gray tortoise shell mix, and at times, her markings made her face look a little raccoon-like.  She was a tiny little thing, not even 7 pounds, and her face was shaped much like her Lynx Point Siamese mother’s.  She also “talked” like a Siamese, but she was not vocal very often.  Marmee made enough noise for the both of them.  Her “official” name was Annabella Cruiser.  Don’t ask me why!  The name evolved to Bella, then Miss Bijoux, and finally Bijikins and Miss Bella.  She always appeared timid and shy and when someone new arrived, she usually went into hiding.  If after a few minutes she returned to the stranger, sniffing and smelling, it usually meant she approved of the newcomer.  The highest stamp of approval was when she rolled and put her scent glands on your shoes or purse.  This only happened with about four people throughout Bella’s lifetime. She did have a fierce side that did not surface until we moved to the house after the earthquake.  The design of the dwelling was mostly French windows and doors, and Bella liked to  watch the birds, squirrels, possums, gophers, deer and other wild life that sauntered through the back yard from time to time.  One evening at dusk, I heard her making primal noises the likes of which I had never heard before.  I ran into the dining room to see her throwing herself at the windows as if in attack on a very large coyote who was standing outside, looking at her through the window as if he was figuring out how he might get to this tasty little morself.  When he saw me, of course he took off, but it took Bella all evening to settle down after her “attack” on the coyote.  She was very brave through the windows!

Bella lived two months past her 19th birthday.  We finally put her down rather than put her through months of treatment which would not really improve the quality of her life.  The vet thought it was time.  Even though the cats had gotten very elderly, Bella’s death hit us very hard.  The two of them had been with us for so long that we just never thought about the end…they had become important members of the family.

Marmee lived for another four months after Bella was gone.  He had long been treated with medication for over active thyroid, and like Bella, his kidneys began to fail.  He would not eat the special kidney diet food, even mixed with more appetizing things, so I made the choice to give him whatever he would eat, whether it was good for his kidneys or not.  His favorite thing was to lick whipped cream from a spoon.   Marmee’s “official” name was Meadowlark Marmalade.  He quickly became Marmee, and that evolved into Mr. Marms, and then Kitty Boy.  As he got older, he became Old Kitty Boy.  In his youth and middle age, he was a real bruiser, hitting the scale at 17 pounds at one point.  As he got older, his weight dropped to about 13 pounds.  He tolerated visitors a little better than Bella, but if someone arrived who didn’t especially dote on cats, Marmee sensed it.  My cousin Blake and his wife Peggy came to visit in 2000, and I put them in the guest bedroom.   They always had dogs, and loved animals in general, but I don’t think cats were Blake’s thing.  The guest bed was one of Marmee’s favorite places to sleep because no one would bother him there.  By this time he was nearly 16 and he liked his naps uninterrupted.  At bedtime the night of my cousins’ arrival, they found Marmee sound alseep in the middle of their bed.  When Blake tried to move him, Marmee set up a growling and hissing fit which made Blake reluctant to go further.  I had to be called to coax Marmee onto my bed.  I will never forget the dirty look he gave Blake and Peggy as I carried him to my room!

Marmee started to fail in the spring of 2006 and one night was having trouble keeping his balance.  He went behind his favorite chair in my bedroom, and I could not get him to come out.  As a side note, Marmee absolutely HATED going to the vet.  He yowled and carried on, hissed and spit, and as he got older, he had to have a mild tranquilizer a couple of hours before a visit.  Even with the tranquilizer, he still had to be put into a muzzle because while he never tried to bite at home, at the vet he would bite anyone who got in his way!   The vet techs wore their heaviest gloves when Marmee was examined.  On the day he died, as sick as he was, he still knew we were taking him to the vet.  Once we were in the car, it was as if he simply was NOT going back to the vet one last time.  He died in my daughter’s arms just a few minutes before we arrived.  He was two weeks short of his 21st birthday.

So what does all this have to do with the title above, CONOR and the CATS, you may be asking.  I have obviously digressed.  Well, Conor’s arrival in October, 1998 was taken in stride by Marmee and Bella, just like everything else we put them through.  You read stories about cats that have difficulties moving, or have difficulty when a baby arrives, but not our two.  We had had many small/infant nieces and nephews visiting from time to time, and now Conor came almost daily  and was obviously the new center of the universe.  Marmee was already 13 at this time and while he couldn’t really be bothered much over the arrival of yet another small person, he was protective.  When Conor napped on one of the beds, Marmee slept with him.  See photo below.  The look on Marmee’s face clearly says, “Will you please put that camera away and let us sleep?  I have this situation under control!”

Bella was another story.  She was curious about Conor.  She would sniff him and then sit and stare at him, watching over him for hours at a time.  See photo above.

Hard to believe that a person would miss cats after all these years, but I still do.

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