Jun 21 2015

Father’s Day comes but once a year, but thoughts of Daddy go on forever. Whenever I make his world famous Ultimate Cole Slaw recipe, I know he’s nearby, helping me get it just right.

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My Dad loved to entertain. The son of a well known hostess, my grandmother, Daddy had grown up on the thrill and satisfaction of planning social affairs. In his later years, he loved bringing happiness to those around him, coming up with novel party touches for our gathered fun-seekers. When a get-together was planned at our home, therefore, a flurry of activity would ensue. First and foremost was the menu, as food and beverages were the star attractions.

Menu planning, therefore, was the reason my Dad clipped recipes constantly. From the newspaper; from any magazine that crossed his path; from a dish he favored at a restaurant that, “required,” he call the Chef to the dining room for a consultation, he was obsessed with having recipe resource files handy for ready reference. He wanted to be able to produce just the right treat at just the right time, to dependably provide what any social situation demanded, at a moment’s notice. Now, we must remember this was in the 1980s and 90s, before the widespread Internet, much less Pinterest, so keeping track of favorite foods required proactive forethought and a filing system.

And, what a filing system he had! Boxes and boxes of 3″ x 5″ cards in plastic file boxes filling up the bottom of a bookcase near his reading chair. Directly next to his chair was a table with a drawer holding his “clipping” supplies: an X-acto knife to accurately cut out the recipe, fresh 3″ x 5″ cards and a roll of Scotch Magic Tape. While the family talked after dinner, Daddy would be clipping and filing, delighted with his latest conquests and acquisitions. He would excitedly interrupt conversation to read recipes, wanting to see if they, “sounded good,” as we would, “Ooh!,” and, “Ah!,” his latest find.

My Dad's Ultimate Cole Slaw, recent recreations (click to enlarge)Dad’s Ultimate Cole Slaw, recently recreated (click to enlarge)

And, things proceeded predictably in such a fashion for years. The quiet rattling of the Washington Post Newspaper Wednesday Food Section, along with the opening and closing of the drawer in the table next to his chair. This, comfortably blanketed by the flickering cocoon of the TV screen, made for pleasant evenings, and now, warm memories. It was an idyllic suburban scene, that is, it was…until he became even more acutely obsessed with one particular dish: Cole Slaw.

How it happened and why it happened, I cannot be sure. There is a good chance he was refused the revelation of a Cole Slaw recipe at a church supper, and became determined to recreate the elusive dish. But, all I know is he started buying cabbages. Lots of cabbages. The cabbages marched into the refrigerator with carrots and seemingly endless jars of mayonnaise, followed by a legion or  two of fresh lemons. These were his art materials, and my grandmother’s Pyrex mixing bowls were his canvas.

Cole Slaw, he had decided was the perfect pot luck supper dish. It was inexpensive to make; was healthy and, “provided roughage.” That was Daddy’s Cole Slaw strategy. And, when one stopped to think about it, Cole Slaw was indeed the perfect side dish, fitting into any church supper array of serving tabled fancies.

And, so the search began. 3″ x 5″ file boxes were no longer adequate. He moved to taping Cole Slaw recipes to 8 1/2″ x 11″ pieces of paper. As he made a recipe in the kitchen, if it made the cut, it remained unsullied, but if it was rejected, it was crossed off, right through it, with a mighty, “X.” This frantic quest went on for months, but as the research continued, he began to fine tune his efforts.

He said he wanted a natural Cole Slaw, with a cold, not cooked dressing. One with a lemon, not vinegar base. He wanted the creaminess of mayonnaise, but not to have it, too “mayonnaisey,” because, “All that fat makes me sick.” He liked adding celery seeds, but not too many. And, for color, there should be one carrot, and one carrot only, grated in along with the cabbage. Salt and pepper should be added, and finally the Ultimate Cole Slaw recipe had been born.

And, I am ready to share it. Here, right now.

But, you must understand the recipe is presented with the same persnickety-ness of my Dad’s approach. In other words, he felt there was NO WAY to accurately represent the proportions like any other recipe, because, “…of COURSE that depends upon the size of your cabbage!” So, I am going to give his recipe to you and hope for the best. I am hoping you can bridge the gap, blending the simple flavors to your tastes and that, with a bit of research and development, you will come up with your own Cole Slaw recipe, sure to be an heirloom hit at friend and family gatherings.

Dad’s Ultimate Cole Slaw

1 Cabbage, cored, quartered and grated

1 Carrot, grated

Lemon juice to taste (I usually use three)

Granulated sugar to taste (Not overwhelming sweet…unless you like that)

Mayonnaise (Start with a cup and add, if needed, to make a runny dressing as you stir with a big spoon and the juices are released from the cabbage)

A sprinkle of whole Celery Seed. (Start with a TBSP, and see what you think.)

Salt and Pepper, to taste, then mix well and refrigerate.

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Filed under: Food,Recipes,Uncategorized — admin @ 10:13 am Comments (2)
Nov 03 2011

Who likes the game of Soccer? I do! Who likes to eat? I do!
Well, how are you going to eat if organic farms are turned
into soccer fields? Duh…Dunno!

Some of the things happening now-a-days are beyond belief! In Potomac, Maryland, Nick’s Organic Farm has been safeguarding our environment, not just since it was fashionable, but for the last thirty years. But, Nick’s is soon to lose its lease, on January 1, 2012. And what is to happen to this farmland owned by Montgomery County, Maryland? It’s to be turned into soccer fields: Montgomery County’s 502nd and 503rd soccer fields, to be exact. What!?!? Am I kidding you!?!? No, I am not. And the clock is ticking…

In September, 2010, Nick Maravell was appointed to the
prestigious National Organic Standards Board by U.S.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

What’s Montgomery County’s recognition?
Refusal to renew his lease!

Nick’s Organic Farm is a heritage farm, one of the few farms in Maryland’s Washington Metropolitan area and the only one to produce genuine organic seed. And now, the Montgomery County government wants to destroy it. The farm, owned by Nick Maravell, has been lovingly and professionally tended as organic for thirty years, benefiting the local community, consumers and our environment, including the world famous Chesapeake Bay. Continued refusal to renew Nick’s lease will create a short sighted loss of what should be the pride of Montgomery County. But no! The Montgomery County School Board, which owns the land, gave Mr. Maravell three weeks notice about a inside decision made without public or community input.

Organic, non-GMO seed is hard to find and
will vanish, if we don’t fight to protect it.

Citizens groups have formed with a vision to insure that Nick’s Organic Farm continues as a down-County educational anchor to provide opportunities for school children and adults to earn about local food and agriculture. At a time when people should be become more aware of their relationship to the soil, water and food that sustains us, ending the life of a generational farm is not condusive to life.

If you are aware of the importance of growing heritage, organic seed and want to add your voice to the growing numbers of unhappy citizens, then go here to sign a petition and/or donate.

Join the uproar of those supporting Nick
in his fight to save his farm.

Time is of the essence!

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Filed under: Food,Organic — admin @ 6:30 pm Comments (0)
Sep 02 2011

Mme. Akhmedova, of the Akhmedova Ballet Academy
or ABA in Silver Spring, MD, instructs a student.

It’s that time of year! School is starting. But, not just graded schools teaching reading, writing and arithmetic! In addition, it is the time of year when schools of the fine and performing arts begin their academic year. And so it is with the Akhmedova Ballet Academy in Silver Spring, Maryland where dance is taught with an eye toward perfection, but with an emphasis on enjoyment and delight.

The Akhmedova Ballet Academy opened in February, 2011 accompanied by an informative article in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area Gazette newspaper. The article was complete in creating a mental image of how Jacqueline Akhmedova, the owner and namesake of ABA, manages her studio to bring out the best in each student.

Bringing out the best seems to be easy for Mme. Akhmedova as she laughs and instructs in a gentle, but direct manner. Not only does Mme.’s command of the discipline allow her to make quick, astute determinations, but the studio space itself creates a sanctuary conducive to a dancer’s focused concentration.

ABA’s Vaganova Studio is named after Russian dancer
Agrippina Vaganova who devised the instructional discipline
studied by some of the most famous ballet dancers.

The three ABA studios are appointed in a soft powder blue which is soothing and reminds one of the mists swirling around the stage of a Swan Lake production. The color, in addition to lilting measures of classical music, creates a inspirational ballet environment freeing dancers to leave their worldly thoughts at the door and immerse themselves in their art.

Mme. Jacqueline Akhmedova, born in Munich, trained in Russia
at the Bolshoi Academy, had a twenty year professional career
before she retired in 1997 to mentor young professionals.

Mme. Akhmedova is a commanding figure in the world of ballet who has taught several accomplished dancers of note: Hee Seo is a currently a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre out of New York City and Deanna Pearson who has won many competitions both here and abroad as featured in the news article found here. You can enjoy Ms. Pearson’s talents by clicking on the video below which was recorded when she danced at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia in 2010.

Ms. Deanna Pearson dancing Paquita at the
Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Moscow, Russia.

The Akhmedova Ballet Academy has classes for all age levels, from beginner to very advanced, some of which Mme. Akhmedova teaches herself, and some that are taught by other highly trained professionals. Classes are generally offered in a group format or semi-private lessons with no more than eight in a class. Private lessons are also available. These individual classes are specifically tailored to a student’s needs thus encouraging each dancer’s maximum development and progress.

The 2011 ABA Cape Cod Summer Intensive. Come audition and
join the class located every year off site at the Academy of
Performing Arts School in Orleans, Massachusetts.

ABA classes are not limited to classical ballet. By attending the Akhmedova Ballet Academy, students also can excel in contemporary and modern dance allowing them a firm foundation in the most innovative trends in performance movement. Workable class schedules with state of the art dance disciplines encourage each student to achieve and become accomplished.

Alice Belle Wylie, a 200RYT certified
Yoga Instructor, teaches Yoga and Pilates.

ABA teaches yoga and Pilates classes to develop the strength and core stamina required for ballet, one of the world’s most demanding athletic disciplines. Alice Belle Wylie is not only certified in Yoga, but also has her BA in ballet and French giving her insight into dancer’s needs for goal fulfillment. In fact, Ms. Wylie feels yoga is an embodiment of joyful, mindful and meditative movement, much like dance itself.

If you or someone you know is desirous of a course of dance study in a disciplined, but pleasantly productive atmosphere, get more information on classes and options by going to the Akhmedova Ballet Academy web site, e-mail akhmedovaballet@gmail.com or telephone 301-593-6262.

Mme. Akhmedova and students from the ABA 2011 Summer
Intensive located on site at the Silver Spring, MD studios.

The Akhmedova Ballet Academy teaches the Vaganova method. This book was written by Aggripina Vaganova in 1948 after she designed instruction combining classical Russian ballet with elements from French and Italian influences.

If you have an interest in the Vaganova method,
hover your mouse over the link below:

Basic Principles of Classical Ballet

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Filed under: Beauty,The Arts — admin @ 5:36 pm Comments (0)
Nov 19 2010

For those in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, don’t miss this chance to see “Quilters, a Musical.”

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Filed under: Quilting,Roof — admin @ 4:16 pm Comments (0)
Nov 10 2010

For those in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, don’t miss this chance to see “Quilters, a Musical.”

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Filed under: Quilting,Roof — admin @ 3:31 pm Comments (0)
Oct 22 2010


Sadly, the number of homeless people is increasing

When one thinks of homeless people, it is easy to understand the level of poverty putting a person on the the streets would cause extreme hardship. Food, water, bathing and so many other things that we take for granted become luxuries. But, I did not understand the danger of living in such an unprotected manner, just out in the world without shelter. I never dreamed that aggressive individuals would feel a need to harm and physically abuse those in such a miserable, vulnerable position. Here in Maryland, we had a homeless man killed where he slept in the grassy, wooded area of a highway cloverleaf.

As Brian Levin, advisor to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and director of the California-based Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, states in the article below, “Homeless people have become a socially acceptable target of aggression.”

US Senate urged to act on rising attacks on homeless

WASHINGTON — The US Senate was urged Wednesday to require that violent attacks against homeless people be tracked and formally reported as hate crimes, which could lead to stiffer penalties for the perpetrators.

Senator Ben Cardin (Maryland) said he was “shocked and horrified” by reports of 43 homeless people killed in 2009 alone, compared to 27 murders a year earlier.

The victims were specifically targeted by their attackers, including cases in which people were strangled, beaten to death with bats or set on fire, experts and family members of the deceased told a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Cardin urged support for his “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act” that he introduced a year ago that would allow authorities to track homeless attacks along with other hate crime categories such as race, religion and sexuality.

“The homeless, just because they’re homeless, are being victimized and that has to stop in America,” said Cardin, who chaired the hearing.

Acts designated as hate crimes lead to harsher punishments for those convicted. For example, a second-degree felony would become a first-degree felony, with a maximum sentence bumped from 15 to 30 years in prison.

To read the entire article, click here.

It is hard to imagine this would be a problem, with teenagers being the main protagonists and advertising their cruelty by posting videos of their cowardly conquests on YouTube, but that is where we are. Apparently it is happening all over the United States. Here is some coverage of the situation and then comments by those who are determined to stop the violence. To watch, click play:

Heartless cowards are beating up homeless people, sometimes to death.


Hard Lives, Mean Streets, just released in May, 2010, has a well documented look at the dangers to one of the United States’s most defenseless populations. If the subject interests you, hover your mouse over the link below to preview the book:

Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women (Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law)


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Filed under: Roof,Without Walls — admin @ 2:43 pm Comments (0)
Sep 25 2010

John Hamilton Higgins, resident of Rockville, Maryland.

Captured by Confederate Soldiers on June 28, 1863.

One of the most peculiar experiences of my life happened in the summer of 2009 when I was keeping up with the local news. Here, in Rockville, Maryland, we have a weekly, local newspaper called the Gazette. It arrives, every Wednesday, delivered to our doorstep, or close enough, thrown onto the driveway.

One Wednesday, I was sitting on the back porch slowly turning the Gazette pages, when I realized I was eyeball to eyeball with a photograph of my great, great grandfather, John Hamilton Higgins in a display ad for a new on-line exhibit, Montgomery Connections. There he was, employed as a spokesperson from beyond the grave for the Montgomery County Historical Society located over a couple streets on West Montgomery Avenue.

Great, great grandfather Higgins was part of the Historical Society’s fantastic multilingual outreach program, Montgomery Connections. The story of his capture by Confederate soldiers when they marched through Rockville on their way to Gettysburg was being profiled by the Historical Society. What was really amusing was a phone number in the Gazette’s display ad that said I could call up the Society and listen to Sophia Barnard Higgins, who was John Higgins’ wife and my great, great grandmother. As we had never spoken, I hurried to the phone to see what she had to say. Dialing in to the Historical Society, I heard a reenactor reading a letter my great, great grandmother had written. She wrote her mother after her husband, John Higgins, was captured, then released and after she knew he had lived to tell the story.

You see, my great, great grandmother, Sophia “Dora” Barnard Higgins, wrote a letter to her mother, Sophia Cropley Barnard who lived in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., telling her about John’s capture and forced march out of Rockville to Brookeville, Maryland, twelve miles away. “Dora” didn’t know John’s fate until he came walking back through the gate at their home on Adams Street, but she had had her hands full herself, guarding their Higgins Hardware Store in town center Rockville. She stood out front and kept soldiers from raiding their store for supplies for six hours, all by herself. All of this real time action is told in Dora’s letter to her mother and you can listen to ‘Dora” read her letter by going here.

The Confederates soldiers that went through Rockville on June 28, 1863 were on their way to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in preparation for what would become the Battle of Gettysburg, fought just days later on July 1, 2 & 3, 1863. If you are interested in learning more about the Battle of Gettysburg, you can do your research by clicking here.

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Filed under: Genealogy,Heart — admin @ 1:24 pm Comments (0)
Sep 24 2010

With all that Virginia has to offer, we always go to Dinosaur Land.

When you live in the suburban Washington, D.C. area, basically meaning Maryland and Virginia, and you start to look for dentists that have a mercury free practice, as you surely will someday if you have mercury fillings in your mouth, you’ll end up in Ft. Royal, Virginia at the Dental office of Dr. Craig A. Zunka, but that’s another story. At the same time, if you were driving to Front Royal in 2002 with children in the car, you’d end up at Dinosaur Land and eating ice cream at the Royal Dairy, and that’s this story.

When I go on “Back Road Auto Trips,” which are my favorite, I am always trying to subconsciously recreate the outings of my childhood in the 1950s before the Interstate highway system. I long for the trips with my grandmother and her friends who all had pocketbooks with colorful handkerchiefs and rolls of peppermint Life Savers and who doted on me as I tried not to roll around in the car’s big back seat before the days of seat belts. One way or another, no matter where we were headed, we’d be sure to stop for an ice cream cone so, every trip I go on to this day, I am always in search of old fashioned soda fountains with Formica counters and polished chrome.

The beauty of a 1950s road side restaurant menu.

Imagine my delight when a trip to the dentist, not usually something to which one looks forward, became my favorite place to go and that was the day we discovered that Front Royal, Virginia was home to the Royal Dairy. It was the kind of place you’d “just happen to stop by” when you were out for a ride with your grandparents. You know, the kind of place with the big menu encased in thick plastic with brown leather binding that had the center open inside for the changing of the “Daily Specials.” The burger and fries kind of place where the hamburgers were free formed by hand and the lettuce and tomato slice garnish sat next to a pickle spear.

Well, those of you born before McDonald’s will know what I mean and appreciate the trips to old ice cream parlors and malt shops such as the Royal Dairy.

The Royal Dairy could dish up ice cream in any flavor with any topping.

Alas! A deep sadness came over me when I looked up the Royal Dairy to get their link and encourage you to go. After sixty years in business, the Royal Dairy closed in 2006. No more malteds for the kids at Randolph Macon and no more ice cream for us when we travel to Front Royal. I suppose that’s progress and the customers of the new Korean Sushi restaurant are happy to have such an option, but somehow, it’s just not the same.  Do you have a traditional ice cream shop where you live that I could put in my sights? I’d love to know where it is! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

As you can see, I love to travel back in time and remember things as they were.  If you really want to time travel, as far back as the age of the dinosaurs, then our next stop, Dinosaur Land, is for you. What a great place for the little ones who love dinosaurs and will get excited about great, big dinosaur recreations located on a pleasant walk through a Virginia woods. Of course, you have to love tourist attractions and I do because they are another part of my longed-for past. I’m big on the culture of roadside America, that special time when cars became more dependable and families headed off to sight see in their station wagon.

Dinosaur Land is a big hit with kids discovering their “inner dino.”

If you want a pretty ride through the Virginia countryside with a great destination at the end, try Dinosaur Land out for size. Everyone is friendly and the gift shop has much of interest, including a section for Civil War buffs. If this seems like fun to you, here is a link for more information.

And here is a map of our part of the country in case you need to get your bearings:

The red star is Dinosaur Land, just outside of Front Royal, VA.

When we travel to Virginia, we use a guidebook that lists attractions that are “off the beaten path.” You’ll find Dinosaur Land on page 155, if this type of visit appeals to you. Here’s “our” book:

If this book seems like it would fit your interests, it can be previewed by hovering your mouse over this link:

Virginia Off the Beaten Path, 10th: A Guide to Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)

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Filed under: Heart,Tours — admin @ 1:13 pm Comments (0)
Aug 28 2010

Are you a Higgins?

Or related to or descended from a Higgins?

But, not just any Higgins…

…No, not just any Higgins.

Does your list of ancestors include
James Higgins and his wife Luraner Becraft Higgins
of Rockville, Maryland?

Well, if so, “Hello Cousin! You are in the right place!”

James Higgins fought in the Revolutionary War
as a Patriot.

Chevy Chase Chapter DAR
National Society Daughters of the American Revolution
marked James Higgins’ grave in November 2002.

There are lots and lots of descendants of James and Luraner Higgins and they are located all over the United States. Like many families who saddled up horses, hitched up wagons, packed up station wagons and headed west, the Higgins were not going to be left behind. But, there were many members of the family who never left and stayed right here in Maryland to keep the home fires burning. Somebody had to stay and leave a light on and we have always taken our duty very seriously.

So, what we’re saying is, “Enough of this wanderlust
foolishness. It’s time to come home!”

Time to meet your cousins, the ones you left
behind…sniff…and time to see from
whence you came!

We are celebrating the lives of
James and Luraner Higgins with a
Great BIG Family Reunion and
we hope you will join us.

James Higgins’ descendants were there for the ceremony.

Get out your 2016 calendar, the year that will mark the 200th Anniversary of James Higgins’ death, and pencil in the month of June when the youngsters are out of school and you can make the trip back. We want to meet every Higgins descendant we possibly can and give them family memories to tell their grandchildren. So, “Come EAST, young man!”

We can’t wait to see you!

To tide you over until we meet in person, you can meet us online by
visiting The Higgins Cemetery Historic Preservation Association, Inc.
website by clicking here.

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Filed under: Heart,Higgins Reunion — admin @ 12:14 pm Comments (0)

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