‘Tis a Great Day


For this St. Patrick’s Day, I thought you might like to see a picture of an Irish family – mine, actually! 😉


My sweet grandmother was born and raised in Ireland. In the photo, “Nana” is the little Minnie Mouse you see to the left of the toddler. The woman in the center of the back row is my great-grandmother, the mother of this brood. One of her children was not yet born.

But back to Nana! She arrived in America in 1922, at the age of 21. She married; raised three children; and was a very cherished grandmother to many more – including me.

While I was growing up, she told the most enthralling tales of her life on a farm on the wildly beautiful Beara Peninsula, which is located on the western coast of Ireland.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.


Many years after she died, I had the opportunity to go to Ireland and visit the actual home where she grew up. I walked the paths and the streets that she once walked; I lit a candle in the church where she had prayed; and I sat by the harbor she used to look out upon. It was magical and I felt her with me the whole time.


Back View of the Farm House

Nana was the 7th of 12 children – 6 boys and 6 girls! They slept upstairs, with all of the girls in one bed, and all of the boys in the other. I remember being astonished to hear that when I was a child. After seeing the house, in person, I marveled that 14 people ever lived in it! Nana’s mother made most of their clothes, tended a large garden of vegetables and flowers, and had homemade bread with freshly churned butter waiting for her kids every day after school. They were poor . . . but also “rich”. 🙂


View from the side of the farmhouse

The photo below is the view down the path and across the road from Nana’s house. She surely walked it many times to go into the little neighboring town. Talk about gorgeous. The mountains have a purple cast. Daphne Du Maurier’s “Hungry Hill” is set in this area.


There’s something I like to do to remember “Nana” around St. Patrick’s Day. Click the title below to read about it:

Her Irish Eyes Were Smiling


stpatricks2Here’s a little Irish blessing for you….

May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!


Sour Cream Coffee Cake and History!

There can be all kinds of history in a recipe box!

Take this for example.


It’s written in my mother’s handwriting, but there’s more! Look at the stains on it. Mum made this coffee cake many times and the stains are a testament to the afternoons this piece of paper rested on the counter as she measured and stirred. But there’s still one more bit of “history” with this recipe . . .

If you turn the paper over, you have this:


It’s one of my 5th grade history tests! Let’s just say it’s from decades ago, ok? It appears I was studying the civil war when my mother needed a piece of paper to scratch down a new recipe. I’m certainly glad she happened to grab one that was marked a “hundred” – especially since it’s survived this many years and will probably be passed on again – no need to have future generations see a test with a lower grade. 😉

I wrote the word “Mama’s” on the recipe when she gave it to me after I got married. Isn’t it amazing that something so ordinary can have so much meaning years later? This paper is a tangible link to the past. It tells of a young mother who is spending some of her days baking treats for her family. It tells of a 10-year-old child, who is studying and taking tests on American history. It seems to me that this recipe might be cherished by a young woman many years from now, not just because it’s good coffee cake, but because the piece of paper is a connection to her own ancestors – something that will allow her to know them a little better and to imagine what their lives were like. I wish I had more items like this from even further back in our family. Now that we so extensively use computers, the internet and email, it’s likely that handwritten recipes, notes, and maybe even “written” school exams will become a thing of the past, but I hope not.

One thing is for sure – the coffee cake is delicious. I’ve transcribed it for you below. Maybe you can make it before the summer heat keeps all of us from wanting to use the oven. 😉



Sour Cream Coffee Cake

One Bowl Recipe!

Sift together on wax paper:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a bowl cream together well:
1 stick butter (left out for 1 hour to soften a bit)
2 eggs (left out 1 hour to bring closer to room temperature)
1-cup sugar

Next add dry ingredients alternately with ½ pint of sour cream to the creamed mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

In a cup – mix well: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon with ¼ cup of sugar. Set aside.

Measure approximately 1 cup of chopped nuts and set aside.

Grease a tube pan. Add ½ of the batter to the pan, then ½ of the cinnamon sugar mixture, then sprinkle ½ of the nuts, then the rest of the batter, the rest of the cinnamon sugar mix, and finally the rest of the nuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.