Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review

I have to say 2010 was a wonderful year.  I made some great friends, advanced my research, and upped my blog posts.  I also scanned every document I have for my family history and have sorted them in the appropriate locations. I also attended some wonderful conferences and learned some new tricks.  My business has been doing well and a long past murder in my family has been solved and the guilty party put in jail.  All and all a fabulous year.

2011 will be my year of refining my research goals, following my research plan and hopefully learning and growing even more.  This year I am going to search for my Poundstone relatives with a passion.  I plan on doing some research in Illinois and Indiana trying to track down some missing clues.  I will also see what information I can glean from my Miottel and Skibbe relatives.   I also plan on diligently searching my husbands side of the family.  Watch out Yurmanovich, Drezdon and Milolajckak families.

Funeral Card Friday - Clara Miottel Skibbe

 
Clara E. Skibbe, nee Miottel was my maternal grandmother.  My mother was Clara's surprise, born when Clara was forty years old.  Clara's first born was William born in 1923 when Clara was 29.  Clara and her husband William Skibbe also adopted a niece  Violet that was born in 1914.  Needless to say a child at forty was not in the plan for my grandmother, she thought she was just about done raising her children when mom arrived.  

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Fruitcake, not when Kolaches are around.

Fruitcake, I have never tried it.  Comments that I have heard have not been positive so I am lucky to have avoided it so far.  I don't remember it ever being at our house growing up.  The only type of fruit and baking we saw during the holidays was Kolaches cookies.  The cookies always seemed to show up at Christmas.  I always preferred the apricot, my brother liked the blueberry.  Mom and her friends made all types of flavors.  The Kolaches did travel, they went to holiday parties, friends homes, and were mailed to family.  My husband's grandmother used to include them in her cookie tins she mailed each year.  Below is my mother's cookie recipe.  I don't think I could ever eat fruitcake when these yummy cookies around.


KOLACHES


Read more about it at www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,181,144165-235204,00.html
Content Copyright © 2010 Cooks.com - All rights reserved.
1 c. butter
2 egg yolks
2 c. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lg. pkg. cream cheese
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsp. powdered sugar
Purchased preserves
Cream butter, cheese, sugar and egg yolks until fluffy. Add sifted flour, baking powder, soda, salt and vanilla; blend well. Chill for at least one hour. Roll to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut with round cookie cutter or glass cup top.   Place cookies on ungreased cookie sheet, I prefer to bake on parchment paper. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on each. Cover with second round which has hole in center. Bake at 350 degrees about  10 to 12 minutes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Travel

Our family never traveled at Christmas.  We hosted friends during holiday meals but family never came to visit on the holidays.  My father's family lived in southern Illinois about four hours away from us.  Really not too far away but my father is the one of his many siblings that decided to leave the area and head for Chicago.  My mother's family had passed away before I was born, with exception of her brother that died when I was young.


Our family always welcomed folks to our house to share a Christmas meal.  My brother and I frequently invited friend while we were in college and high school over along with my parents friends.  Now my husband I host Christmas for family and friends at our home.  I love being at home for the holidays and have my children come back for the holidays.  Maybe one day I'll travel but for now I am the hostess with the mostess just as my mother had been.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Charitable/ Volunteer Work

Charitable work at Christmas is just the thing to make the holidays a little more special.  Previously I posted about the Angel Tree.  I remember shopping and finding contributions for "adopted" families when I was a Girl Scout.  Our troop would often raise enough cash to pay an electric bill, buy some toys and provide the family with some additional food for the holidays.  Our leader never told us the name of the family but just knowing we were helping was all we needed.

I think for the new year I will try to do a little more RAOGK requests and possibly a little more volunteer PI work.  I think it would be a beneficial practice to get into the habit of monthly volunteer work rather than seasonal volunteer work.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Other traditions

A traditions that my family followed that was a little different than the norm, was to pick an angels off the tree at church or from one of the department stores.  The Angel had a child's name, size, clothing and toy requests.  We always had a wonderful time picking out some new outfits, shoes, and toys for our Angel.  Some years we were allowed to choose two Angels, sometimes just one.  I did keep up this tradition with our kids but have not done so recently.  I have purchased toys for the Marine's donation box although I don't find the experience quite as personal.  I guess I like to have a name and an option of doing more than just providing a toy.

I think it is time to revive this tradition.  I always enjoyed it in the past and helping out always puts me in the holiday mood.

The other tradition our family had was the Swedish Tea Ring for breakfast.    There is nothing like starting the day with a nice warm cinnamon in your tummy!


SWEDISH TEA RING


           1/4 cup warm water (real warm)
  • Package yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp yeast from jar)
Put yeast in a small bowl and pour water over it stirring to dissolve well. Add teaspoon of  sugar and stir to "proof" the yeast.  Let sit for about 5 minutes till yeast bubbles. Measure the following ingredients into a large bowl and add the yeast mixture.
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg (room temp)
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups flour
Mix until smooth.  Add enough additional flour (up to an additional 1 1/2 or 2 cups) to handle easily and mix with your hands.  Turn onto lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes).  Round up in greased bowl, greased side up and cover with a damp cloth to let rise.  Rise in a warm place until double in size - about 1 1/2 hours.  Punch down and let rise again about 30 to 45 minutes.
Roll dough into oblong 15x9 shape.  Spread soft butter all over and then sprinkle the following over the dough:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Roll up dough longwise seam-side down.  Then bring ends together to form a circle and pinch edges together.  Make cuts 2/3 of the way into the ring every 1 inch around.  Turn each section onto its side.  Let rise again about 30 to 45 minutes.
Bake at 375 for 25 to 30 minutes.
Spread top with icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • dash of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mix to a spreading consistency and drizzle over warm ring.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Gifts

My parents never let us open our gifts early, it was always Christmas morning and no earlier than 7 AM.  Mom would get up and warm up a Swedish Tea Ring she had made the night before and while we were eating breakfast we were given our stockings to open.  Then my brother and I would try to patiently wait while Mom and Dad had their breakfast and coffee.

Our tree was set up in our living room.  Dad would sit in his chair and oversee the proceedings.  Mom passed out gifts.  I remember crying one Christmas because the only thing I asked for was an alarm clock - yeah I know crazy -and I didn't get one.  My mother asked me what was wrong and I told her all I really wanted was that clock.  She said you got a clock and I said no I did not.  That sent mom diving through the tree, then dumping out the garbage that had been used to collect the wrappings, and then finally to her closet muttering under her breath.  She dug around for a little and came out with a brown box.  Inside the box was my alarm clock, the wind up kind with two bells on top and best of all bright pink.  I was so happy, it was later that day I figured out that there was no Santa, well that and the fact that my big brother told me so.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Family History Expo - Arizona Family History Expo

Just made my hotel reservations for the Arizona Family Expo.  Looking forward to a great time catching up with friends, learning some new tricks and meeting new folks.  Just had the above calling card made to share at the expo.

I am exploring  Rootsmagic software, perhaps I can catch up with Bruce Buzbee and get some confidence under my belt with this software.   It's always difficult learning something new - old dog new tricks!.

Advent Calendar of Christmas - Grab Bag

I just received this photo in the mail today.  Let me introduce you to my sweet nieces, Grace age 8 and Kaylin age 3.  They live in Tennessee but had there picture with Santa taken in North Carolina were their dad and grandparents reside.  I know that Santa has already shipped some cool gifts to their Grandparents home in North Carolina.  Sure wish I lived closer to the girls.  My youngest are in college now, how sweet to have some youngsters around at Christmas!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Puppy Gibbs first Christmas

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cookies

The only  cookies I remember in the house during the Christmas holidays were sugar cookies.  Mom would make the dough and my brother and I would help cut them out and decorate them.  Mom had the biggest assortment of cookie cutters.  She had metal cookie cutters, red plastic cookie cutters and also used a glass to cut out rounds from the dough.  My brother and I decorated the cookies with colored sugars.  My favorite shape was the Christmas trees.  Mom would let my brother and I help decorate

My husband's Grandma Eva made cookie tins for everyone in the family.  Each tin held many different types of cookies.  Just last night I made the corn flake wreathes with the red hots that she made. I am trying to remember the other types of cookies she included in the tin so I can make cookie tins for the family this year.  I thought it would be nice for all of us to reinstate the tradition. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Parties

Gary and Amy foreground, the Judge and brother-in-law behind us
Probably the best Christmas party we ever threw was our wedding.  Gary and I decorated the house, invited about 60 people, and those that came became part of our "surprise" wedding.  Our friend who was a Superior Court judge did the honors - well sort of - she couldn't read without her glasses so my brother-in-law stood behind her and read the ceremony into her ear and she repeated what he said.  We were made legal next to the Christmas tree in our living room with folks crowed around and overflowing into the dining room.  We hired a bartender, had the food catered, and had a riot of a time.  We didn't exactly plan for a photographer but we still have a few pictures some of our visitors took and shared with us. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Santa Claus

Matt and Amy Clark, with Santa, 1968
I don't remember being afraid of Santa, I do remember our yearly visits and getting our pictures taken with him.  Mom would take us to Randhurst Mall in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  I remember the center court had penguin statues that my brother and I would climb on.  The Santa's set up with the elves was always fun.

I wonder if being taken to Santa's Village while growing up quelled any fear of Santa - to me Santa always meant fun, fun, fun.  Santa's Village was an amusement park in East Dundee, Illinois.  The park was Christmas all year round.  It even had a North Pole that was ice in the park center.  The park closed in 2006.  I remember taking my eldest daughter Jessica to the park in 1986, that was the last time  I had the pleasure of being at the park.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Outdoor Decorations

Callie and lights - 2009
I remember that when I was growing up my mother was in charge of placing the wreath on the front door. Dad was in charge of the only outside decoration, plastic letters that spelled out NOEL.  The letters were a little over a foot tall with the letters alternating red, green, red and green.  The letters were mounted on the garage door for all the neighborhood to see.  Year in and year out the NOEL graced the garage door until the year Dad decided to be funny and put the letters up to spell LEON.  The neighborhood, Dad, me and my brother all thought is was hysterical - Mom was not amused.  Needless to say the spoilsport demanded that Dad fix the door ASAP.  I just wish I had been in the car with Mom when she initially drove into the driveway.

My husband and I enjoy hanging lights outside of the house.  Gary and I try to add to our collection each year.   This year we have added a white grapevine dog to our collection. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Cards

I love to receive Christmas cards, I am not great at sending them, but I do enjoy getting them. Several of my family members, along with myself, use the Christmas cards to update everyone on how the year went for their family.  Perhaps it is that little bit news from family and dear friends that arrives in the mail that gives me the feeling of love and belonging.  It is a  wonderful boost to my spirit and fuels my holiday efforts.

I remember my mother sitting and handwriting out the cards each year.  I think we are somewhat spoiled now that we can type up a standard letter and even print off address labels with our computers.  I still prefer to hand address my envelopes, I do sometimes cheat and mail out a standard update letter.

One of my favorite Christmas decorations is a card holder my mother-in-law, Janice Urman, made me.  It holds all the cards in one place and I love all the care that went into making it.

 




 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Ornaments

One of my favorite ornaments on our tree is my rattle from my baby days.  It is a pink plastic horse with a handle that still rattles.  My mother saved it along with one of my brother's rattle's and they have been used as ornaments as long as I can remember.  My mother made it a point to find us ornaments each year that held some type of meaning to us.  One year she gave me a Fozy Bear ornament - he was one of my favorites on the Muppet Show.   

Now our tree is host to Scooby Doo, ballet dancers and Nutcracker characters (years of ballet and Nutcracker performances with three of our kids),  Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers,  dinosaurs, cars, and my ultimate favorites - ornaments my children and I have made over the years. 

I don't remember my Clark grandparents having a tree but I don't remember visiting at Christmas time.  My Skibbe relatives had passed before I was born, however, the family's Christmas ornaments from Germany still grace our family Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Foods

What is a holiday without the food?  My family always started Christmas with cinnamon rolls while we opened our stockings in the morning.  Later the family would gather for a prime rib dinner including Yorkshire pudding, rolls, gravy, and salad.  

I keep the tradition alive with my family, cinnamon rolls with the stockings and prime rib - without the Yorkshire pudding - (only one of my kids really enjoyed eating it).  My husband's family always had "Grandma's Punch" which is now included in our Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions.
The other tradition we have is baking cookies and giving away cookie tins.  The mechanics, vet, and friends look forward to having their treats.  Starting in November the guys at the gas station start asking if I am baking - they really enjoy their cookies.  The kids enjoy giving their friends cookies tins as presents.  We set up the dining room table as cookie central and dole out each type of cookie into each tin,  I think the most tins we made totaled about twenty.


Grandma's Punch
1  12oz can frozen orange juice
1  12oz can frozen lemonade (may use 6 oz can if preferred)
1  qt. cranberry juice
2  liter bottle of ginger ale
1 bottle champagne
Ice and fresh orange slices

Mix all ingredients in a punch bowl and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree I grew up with, the one that Santa always visited - was a fake.  The individual branches were color coded and fit in a specific part of the tree.  I fondly remember my father muttering under his breath while he coaxed the boxed branches in the the shape of our magical Christmas Tree.  Then came the the light testing.  Each strand was pretested and if working correctly placed carefully on the tree.  After the lights the tinsel was added and then finally we were allowed to put the ornaments on the tree.

My husband's family had a live tree each year.  A tradition we followed for a few years.  The freshly cut tree was an arguing point for my husband and I.  He loved the smell of the tree and felt it was truly the best.  I on the other hand came from a long line of allergy sufferers and had little tolerance for the mess and the aftermath of dealing with the tree remains.  The reason we had a fake tree was my mother's allergy to pine.  Low and behold one of our children tested positive to the allergy and into our life came a fake tree so life like it still fools visitors to our house.   I am fairly certain my non allergic children will have freshly cut trees in their homes, they moaned when they found out about their sister's allergy would no longer allow us to have the fresh cut tree, I on the other hand did a little happy dance - see I am allergic to pine but always suffered because I didn't want to be a spoil sport.