Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

When it is all said and done, this is the true meaning of Christmas.  All the rest is in honor of it and symbolizing the Gift of our Father in Heaven to us, His children.  He gave us a Savior to help us live a better life in harmony with our fellowman by being our example of love and obedience.  He paid the price for our sins, allowing us to change and grow.  Without the burden of our sins we are able to  progress, if we will but repent.  Through God's grace we are made whole in Jesus Christ.  And the Earth is a better place to be because we are more like Him.  Man is that he might have joy.  The atonement is the only way to experience that fully forever.

You can find my 2015 Christmas Blog here:

There are three posts.  You may choose any or all of the posts to read.  You may select them from the side bar on the right or just click on Older Posts at the end of the page of the first two.

Merry Christmas!  May the Spirit of Christmas remain in your heart all year.  A beautiful video of Christmas Music

Friday, December 11, 2015

Yule Cheese Ball Reprise 2015

This morning I have been making cheese balls, shopping, chatting on line and cleaning the two porches.  I was thinking I should post this just in case you haven't seen it before and are looking for something great to take to a party like we are tomorrow night.

Here's what I wrote in the original post about this delectable treat:

So, there is just no good name for a cheese ball. Seriously, think about it. If you can think of one for this recipe~let me know. It is made with Blue Cheese and Blue Cheese Cheese Ball doesn't cut it, in the best of all worlds. Instead of 'name that tune' we can play 'name that cheese ball!' Wanna play?

I have concocted this recipe. Barbara and I have made it over the years for parties and small gifts. We both do make it a lot for various gatherings around the holidays. Even people that are not crazy about blue cheese love this. We were looking for a cheese ball that was colorful and Christmasy and delicious. You know how they are normally boring looking with no color and just rolled in nuts? Not this one, it just screams Christmas!

We think we have a winner here. Some people even invite us to their gatherings on the condition we bring this! It takes a little time (especially if you are photographing it) but is easy and I like that part. I am not into a bunch of labor intensive cooking. What I do love is cooking with my hubby, he is a natural in the kitchen. Lucky me! He says food talks to him...OK, so he is a little wacko! (Food has never talked to me except to discuss which part of my body it would like to attach itself to permanently!)

Tomorrow is our big family dinner for our relatives that live in our area, so Jim and I are cooking up a storm. Speaking of wacko, it's Official~ I am totally wacko about blogging about food! I have discovered it is fun to cook, photograph and to stage the food. It is 10 times more fun that just cooking! Multi-tasking lives on!

Hmmm, people do not always sell their houses but...everybody eats. Maybe I can dabble in a new facet of design for me to supplement the mad money. Actually I am pretty much kidding because these photos need much improvement but we had a lot of fun cooking and shooting the process.

Chop up some green onions.
If you are not an onion person
Add some finely chopped parsley for color.

Chop up some Craisins or dried cranberries
if you prefer calling them that

Chop up some Walnuts

This is enough for four cheese balls.
Four bricks of softened cream cheese,
a bunch
 of blue cheese,
(I am not into exact measurements, sorry!)
Craisins, green onions, nuts 
and some garlic salt~
because everything
 that isn't sweet need garlic!
I put it in a big mixing bowl and start mixing it together.
Every time I start with a big spoon but soon
find it works
 best to mix it all by hand and shape 
into balls.Thus the name...cheese balls. Brilliant!

Here are the 4 cheese balls I varied 
the sizes 
for different purposes;
parties, gifts, or whatever
I put my wedding rings on the cutting 
board to remind you to remove them
as it is no fun getting the cheese 
 of the rings if you forget 

Stab it with a cute Christmas Spreader~Fini~

Here I staged the food for you..
I had to put all these crackers back in the box afterword!
A little Pomegranate Sparkling Cider is nice with it!
Try It, You'll Like It!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Preparing To Go To Wales!

So for now I must I be focused upon the genealogy portion of the trip, and our impressions of Wales. We have had wonderful  experiences as we came to explore some of what my ancestors might have done there, how they lived and with whom they might have associated with back in the early late 1700s and early to mid-1800s. I must get it all recorded before I forget any part of it.  They was a dream come true and one I had daydreamed about for a long time.

My mother’s ancestors are all Welsh on both her parents’ sides so I have much work to do in this land they call a Kingdom. Fortunately much of it can be done online but nothing replaces walking where your ancestors walked for inspiration.  Nothing seems to get you closer to who they were than coming to their homeland.

It didn’t take me long to realize I’d have to work on just one small portion of the family during this visit. Patience is a virtue that must be developed, as everything seems slower here. Miles that are identical in measurement take longer to drive than miles at home. The water comes from a cold and a hot pipe that are not combined with a U joint before coming out of the faucet which makes washing your hair in the kitchen sink tricky. The processes involved in every aspect of what you are trying to do take longer.   As an example, when we rented our car near Loughborough it took over an hour and half to pick up the car from the car lot when all prior paper work had been completed a month earlier.

So it's a good thing to practice patience in the small thing like electrical plugs because patience in genealogy is not an option. Things are often difficult and take lots of time.  If you do not have it you must develop it. So I totally rethought what I wanted to do here in the Uk. My grandiose notions of getting all my lines well underway needed to be adjusted into the realm of reality. Learning as much as we could about the land, experiencing the people, exploring their websites and finding some things on Thomas Rees and his family and Mary Davies and her family in the records would be a great accomplishments in three full days.  So we did just that and ti was incredibly fantastic.

Thomas Rees and Mary Davies were my great grandparents.  Two years ago I knew that and nothing more.  Not a single inkling about where they came from in Wales.  I did know the parents names of Mary but nothing about Thomas' family at that point.  

 I am now well acquainted with the value of obituaries, and online language translators and relatives that keep old obituaries in Welsh even though they cannot read them. Along with that their willingness to send them to me. There is also undying appreciation for relatives that are willing to spend two days helping you translate them. The crème du la crème is when you discover that a Welsh born Family History Director in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales has a great deal of difficulty translating it and is highly impressed with the translation you have. It is then you know the undying appreciation for your mentor has gone eternal.  Little did my cousin know that when she sent me the obituary it would finally culminate in the Valley they came from walking where they walked.

On April 10, 2014 I wrote this on my genealogy blog:

One of the great blessings in my life happened during this past week.  For many years I have known that my mother's grandfather was Thomas Rees of Wales.  He was married to Mary Davies, my great-grandmother also from Wales. They came to America and they had five children.  Their youngest and only boy was my grandfather, William Henry Reese.  Some of the Rees family including Thomas' wife, Mary Davies Rees, are buried in the New Cambria, Missouri Cemetery.  That was all I knew. I had never seen a picture of him and I knew nothing about where he was from in Wales or anything about his life.  

My grandparents had nine children so I have quite a few cousins on that side.  When my mother's twin brother died a couple of years ago, I talked quite a bit to his daughter, Jenice.  She didn't have much information on the family but she thought our cousin, Joan Reese Prange might know more.  I had met Joan a few times while a child.   I put it on my list to get in touch with Joan.
Time know how it goes with genealogy "to-do" lists.  

We finally connected and talked and shared information and it was delightful.  She lives in Missouri and had had a lot of contact with our Aunt Lena who has now passed away, who lived nearby.  Joan told me she had information and a picture of our great grandfather Thomas Rees.  This past week I received a packet in the mail with this wonderful photo and his Welsh obituary and also one for Mary Davies, in English, thank heavens.  There was also included some hand-written family group sheets with information on my grandfather's siblings that I had not had before.

I was so excited about it all.  The challenging part was.....The Welsh obituary.  I decided to give Google Translate a try.  I have used it many times before but not on anything this important and I wanted to make sure I got it right.  So I started there and very painstakingly copied each letter very carefully into the translation box.  One letter can and did change the whole meaning of the sentence.  I did it more times than I want to admit. Jim was recovering from his hip surgery so he helped me too.

Of course it doesn't translate directly when you have to consider the syntax, age of the document and idioms and cultural references that we don't understand.  When a word doesn't quite make sense you can click on that word in the translated box.  Once the word is highlighted it will bring down a box for alternate choices.  They even offer you the chance to add your own word!  You study it out in your mind and pick the best option.  It is intense and pretty fun really.  Like solving a little mystery sometimes and at other times very clear.  I quite enjoyed doing it.  Jim helped me quite a bit and it calmed down some of his post surgical restlessness as well.  Of course you can also go to specific language translators, find idioms and their definition but not always the one you are looking for unfortunately. It took me a day and a half to get it as close as I could.  I felt Google Translate gave me a good basic understanding of the content.

The next thing I did was run it by our cousin Stephen (on Jim's side) to get his opinion.  He said we did a good job, but he did some refining and searching like only a seasoned genealogist who is familiar with several languages and is a research attorney can do.   With his help the combined second translation was born.   I feel this is extremely accurate.

REES.--In September in New Cambria, Mo., at age 45, the humble Christian Thomas Rees, farmer, leaving a widow and five children as mourners after him. Although he was relatively young he experienced long and protracted afflictions, from shortness of breath -- one of the worst afflictions to prevent man from being useful to society, family, religion, and generally; but he did his part in the one as in the other notwithstanding his frailty. He was a member of the Calvinist Methodist church there, and was a faithful member throughout his life. He had the ability to socialize, and therefore his presence always truly acceptable. He was born in a small farmhouse called Crin-cae, near Rhandirmwyn, Wales. His parents were David and Betsi Rees, who were loyal to him and his brothers, rearing them with religious education as members of Salem Calvinist Methodist Church, where they were catechized and counseled in detail by the Elders of the pulpit and of the deacons' pew. Two of his brothers rose to be preachers, Isaac Rees, priest at Penygraig, Rhondda Valley, and Rees Rees, with [the Calvinistic Methodists], in the Island, Ystradgynlais, Wales. He also has two brothers in this country, James D. Rees,Wilkes-Barre, and Dan Rees, Plymouth, Pa. He had been in the area of Wilkes-Barre for ten years before moving to New Cambria; to a multitude of friends he was a morning friend there. We wish his widow and orphans every success necessary to be comfortable in temporal and spiritual things while on earth. - Yes! Morning Friend.

The Bonus to the Learning...
cousins are wonderful and...

I have discovered where my great-grandfather was another born, his parents' names the names of his four brothers, who stayed in Wales and who emigrated out of Wales.  That my great grandfather lived in Pennsylvania for ten years before migrating with his family to New Cambria, Missouri.  I also suspected from the information on his health that he may have had an inherited lung disease that has been found in two of my first cousins three generations later.  It is essential to know the place they were from to get anywhere with the family history over the ocean.  Too many of same surnames and given names for it to work otherwise.

At that point we did not know that our children would be going to England on Sabbatical leave from Brigham Young University for a year.  They had several choices and we are so glad they chose the UK.  It was time to begin to plan our trip to go and visit them and also to go to Wales.

 Preparing for this trip for about six months taught me a great deal. One of them is the miracle of Google Maps and how they have helped me to realize I need to get very proficient in using them so I can take virtual walks to the places we missed here after we get home. It has been so valuable to have the maps of all the little places and jurisdictions for finding records. I have dabbled in Google Maps before, but now I want to own it! Stephen has helped me so much with them and their value is extremely apparent when you take it on the road.

We wanted to travel to the various villages and towns of the people we already know on our family tree. We did make it to some but not all. What we did discover was heartwarming and amazing and the serendipity along the way was startling.

I don’t know why it should be startling but still it is! We have had countless experiences of things that seem coincidental but aren’t. The Lord’s hand in it, is the only explanation. That and faith does, indeed, proceed the miracle.

It is just like that in Family History work. When you engage with all your heart, mind and strength the Lord provides what you need when you need it. Not necessarily on your timetable but on his. There is a quote by the late Melvin J Ballard, a former apostle in the church, who said in essence: When you do all you can, if there is a record on the earth you will find it.  Most of us may not have the tenacity to do it all but I have witnessed it and I know this is true. Sometimes it takes decades and in some cases several decades to find it, if it exists at all. But the apostolic promise remains; if it does exist you will eventually find it with prayer, patience and much diligence and hard work.   This is true in most things. Never give up! Tenacity is a virtue along with patience.

Part 3  Entering Wales Coming Next!

Rhandirmwyn, Carmarthenshire Wales-A Video

This is a video of  the place where my Welsh ancestors lived.  So beautiful and peaceful and I'm so grateful to have found it.  Created by Harry Paul of Rhandirmwyn, carmarthenshire, Wales in 2013.

No wonder I like places like this so much!  It's in the genes!

I have to day that it was even more beautiful than this.  Our trip there three yeaars ago was so magnificent!