Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

Music at Facebook

How To Post Music at Facebook

I have been tinkering with posting music at Facebook. The following scheme seems to work nicely for MP3 files.

To get an MP3 file of your own music you must first upload it to your own FTP space. If you do not know how to do that, you can find an MP3 file already uploaded somewhere on the Internet with its own URL. To post a song, you must have an URL of the song. Here is a legal one to use from librivox.org of the Christian hymn “Nearer My God To Thee”. (Right-click on this link and choose “Copy Shortcut” and go to your Facebook account).

The next step is to paste the song’s MP3 URL, that you got when you clicked “Copy Shortcut,” under “Share Link” and then click “preview” on the Facebook screen, or “enter” on your keyboard. Next write something in the blank box, if you want, such as “Nearer My God To Thee.” Then click “Post.” VOILA! Automatically, you should see your song posted as an actual music box, with a music note graphic and play button. COOL, eh? This is a screenshot of my Facebook page where I posted “I Heard the Bells” from Jon Sayles website of free guitar music:

Facebook Music Box

Then your goal is to try and find another MP3 URL of music that you really like. Here is an entire collection of free MP3s from The Owen Family. You may find more legal Christmas MP3 files at librivox.org: http://librivox.org/christmas-carol-collection-2006/. Again, remember to right-click on the MP3 link and choose “copy shortcut.”

The easiest way I have found to post music at Facebook is to use my Twitter account and my Seeqpod account. I post the Seeqpod URL of a song to Twitter. I have Twitter set to automatically post to Facebook, so my song comes through as a link, which when clicked takes one to Seeqpod where the song plays.

You can also go to Seeqpod and get one of their links, under “embed.” These files at Seeqpod are not MP3 URLs. Here is one I already found for Yankee Doodle Dandy: http://www.seeqpod.com/search/?plid=7ba92255c5 . Copy and paste this link just as instructed above. Because it is not an MP3 URL, it will not make a music box, but be an ordinary link. You can add in the comments: “Click link for Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

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Veterans Day 2008 – In Flanders Fields 

Flanders Fields Cross

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, Row on Row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Colonel John McCrae, a Canadian physician, also died in France, the same year as my great aunt’s husband, Frank Heming, a casualty of World War I. In 1916 McCrae was Chief of Medical Services at a Canadian Hospital in France, where wounded soldiers from Arras were received. His poem remains one of the most memorable war poems. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres Salient in the spring of 1915. Poppies sprout best in newly cultivated soil and, when this was written, the entire Western Front was covered with poppies blooming as never before seen on the freshly dug graves.

Thank You Veterans of 2008

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A Picture from Edna

I wanted to make Irish Soda Bread for Saint Patrick’s Day, but before I got it made, Easter had arrived. This bread actually tasted a lot better than it looks in the photograph, and it sliced beautifully. Oh, was it ever easy!

I cannot remember if I ever made this before, so I went to my favorite on-line Recipe Book – Elise’s and sure enough she had a nicely illustrated recipe. Then I got to wondering how authentic would it be to use a recipe from a Californian, so I went looking for something a bit more Irish.

The first I found claimed to be the “world authority” for “authentic” Irish Soda Bread. All I could find at that site, besides the pop up ads, were warnings of what ingredients NOT to use. No nuts! No raisins or even currants! No orange rind! No sugar, honey or treacle! What’s treacle? No eggs! No shortening! No whiskey! NO Whiskey?? And, … if you dare to use any of those forbidden ingredients  – you will be making CAKE  not bread!  So there! Since I never did find Any recipe at all, I got bored and a bit rankled. Let them eat soda bread!

I tried another Irish site, and it was the opposite — too many recipes using too many ingredients, most of which I did not have on hand, especially the hot peppers. And again it was so full of advertising that I felt myself in a maze.

So it was back to Ms. California Elise’s and I “kinda” followed her instructions and all went well. Of course, as always, I improvised. I halved her recipe and since I didn’t feel like hunting to see if I had any pastry flour, I just used what was in the flour bin. I used table cream with vinegar instead of sour milk. I used a whole egg, instead of a half, since I halved the recipe. Yes, I used the sugar, even though the Irish site said it was verboten. And just to be extremely devilish, I used grated orange rind. I think that made the bread extra tasty. HA! Next time I going to go for the whiskey. After-all, it is IRISH bread, isn’t it? Here’s Elise’s recipe: http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/004338irish_soda_bread.php

I cooked it in a Corning ware dish instead of cast iron and used a much lower temperature – 325 degrees, as I was in no hurry, and I didn’t want it to come out as brown as the one in Elise’s picture.

The image, Irish Soda Bread, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Palaver for more of Edna’s writings.

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On my 66th celebration of Christmas I am reminded of the storybook I owned so long ago on the shore of Maryland in the early 1940s. The memories came flooding back when I received one of those Internet emails that makes the rounds during these days of mass email messages.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

As a little girl  I loved reading the poem and following the illustrations about the outcast red-nosed reindeer. However, that was all I knew about the book. I did not know that the story was written by a 34-year-old employee of the Montgomery Ward’s department store, Robert L. May, and published by Ward’s store in 1939, for distribution as a promotional gift. 

That had to have been how the book came to be in my possession, as every Christmastime, my parents motored the fifteen or so miles to Baltimore to do holiday shopping at “Monkey Wards” while  my brother and I excitedly told Santa Claus our Christmas wish list. By 1946, Montgomery Ward’s had given away more than six million of the storybooks, one of which most certainly had been a Christmas gift to me from the Monkey Ward’s Santa.

In the old book , except for his shiny nose, Rudolph was just an ordinary reindeer somewhere with his parents in an ordinary reindeer village. Rudolph was taunted and laughed at by the other reindeer youngsters for his luminous snout.  Santa discovered the young reindeer’s glowing nose quite by accident one foggy Christmas eve, when he saw light coming from Rudolph’s bedroom whilst delivering presents to Rudolph’s reindeer family.  Worried about the thickening fog and reduced visibility for his air-born sleigh, Santa requested Rudolph to lead his legendary team of reindeer. By the end of the journey Santa proclaimed Rudolph with his shiny nose to be the hero of that Christmas Eve night: “By YOU last night’s journey was actually bossed.  Without you, I’m certain we’d all have been lost!

The image, Rudolph Reindeer, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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This year while touring the Mount Vernon plantation during the holiday month of December, I spotted something I had never seen before. It was ceremoniously displayed upon the grand dining room table of the Washingtons. To me it looked like a porcupine all covered with snow. Although it was most certainly something edible, I had no idea what. It had a tiny rodent-like face, nose and ears, behind which were blazing white long and slender sticks of something inserted all around its oval body. Later I was told that those long sticks were slivers of almonds, however I have never seen any almonds that long.

When I asked the docent what was that creature, she responded “haven’t you ever seen a Hedgehog Cake?” No, I’ve never seen one nor ever even heard of one. I am very accustomed to seeing Martha Washington’s great cake on that table. That is her recipe that begins with “take 40 eggs … and 4 pounds of butter.”

As photography of the dining room was not permitted, I have only my “vanishing memories” to remind me of what I saw that day. Therefore, I tried to find a picture of Mrs. Washington’s Hedgehog Cake on the Internet. I could not find one recipe nor one picture of her most interesting cake. What I did discover though, is that I am the only person in the whole wide world who is not familiar with the supposedly wonderful concoction known as a Hedgehog Cake. At Flickr I found enough pictures to made a “Slide Show of Hedgehog Cakes.”

Knowing that the Mount Vernon staff is consciencious to being historically accurate, such as no Christmas trees in General Washington’s home at Christmas, I tried researching Hedgehog Cakes to discover why an 18th century Virginia family would have such a cake. We have never had such little creatures scurrying about our hedges and pathways; hedgehogs are unknown in all of the United States, as far as I know. 

I discovered that English cookbook authoress Hannah Glasse had a recipe for Hedgehog Cake by about 1747. It may have been an ancestor somehow to the late 18th century’s popular British dessert of Tipsy Cake, a sponge cake soaked with some sweet liquor and decorated with cream. Well, I remember from my Virginia cookbooks that there was something here named “Tipsy Squire,” that was like a British Trifle.

Then I discovered this bit of history, “That Charming Confusion: Trifle” written by Helen Stringer, which seems to explain it all:

The trifle continued to develop through the 18th century, and was soon joined with a selection of related dishes, Tipsy Cake and Tipsy Hedgehog among others. What these had in common with trifle was that they were all made with dried cake, rather than fresh (a detail too often forgotten these days). In the case of Tipsy Cake, a hollow was made in the center of the cake and filled with alcohol, which would soak into the cake. The cake was then surrounded with crème anglaise or syllabub and slivers of almonds were stuck all over it. Tipsy Hedgehog was a natural progression from this. The cake was roughly shaped to look hedgehog-like, and was soaked in sherry. The crème anglaise/syllabub surround was accented by a spot of jam (this is what the hedgehog is eating) and the cake itself festooned with almonds.

The Slide Show of my Mount Vernon Adventure

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What a transformed world we now inhabit. The Christmas baking days are upon us and there is no longer need for lugging out the old cookbooks and searching through them. Nor is it necessary to thumb through those dog-eared 3×5 cards nor snippets of paper. Good old Mrs. Claus has published all the cookie recipes known to the Christmas world and they are availble “free” with just a click or two.

 “All The Cookie Recipes in the Known World”

Of course, if there REALLY were a “Mrs. Claus”, she would send some of these already prepared cookies along with Mr. Claus when he makes his rounds on Christmas Eve. But she doesn’t. I suppose she saves them for her Santa to keep him in the shape that he’s in. Therefore, we must get baking. However, by using these Internet recipes, we will miss finding those special handwritten treasures all tucked away, such as I did this year: “Cousin Vi’s Fudge Recipe.”

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Lobbying at the Willard

A Picture from Edna

Here I am in the lobby of the Willard Hotel, as we were “Christmas lobbying”, which means listening to music. We heard the Washington Chorus Outreach Singers. They were wonderful, however, I had made a mistake in the date, as I thought I was going to hear Children’s Chorus of Washington. They perform tonight, and I have doubts I can convince Cliff to return. We walked the two long blocks from the Metro to the Willard in cold and blustery winds. And back of course. The Willard’s website promised refreshments, as in “Complimentary hot-spiced cider and gingerbread sweets will provide the perfect accompaniment.” We stayed more than an hour and we never found them nor saw evidence of “complimentary” goodies.  However, Cliff snapped this nice picture of me in front of their “complimentary” Christmas tree.

The image, Edna at the Willard, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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A Picture from Edna

Cousin Violet’s Fudge Recipe

Long ago, before collecting recipes from the Internet became de rigueur, we homemakers often traded handwritten recipes. My cousin made the most delicious fudge and I was intrigued and asked for the recipe. I had stopped making fudge because I could only manage success about once in five tries. My usual result was a soupy concoction that could only be eaten with a spoon. Cousin Vi’s recipe changed all of that. It is simple – no boiling, and I make it in the microwave oven, which we didn’t have in those long ago days of yore.

Cousin Vi is now 78 years old and her handwriting is still as beautiful. That is because she has the genes of an artist coursing through her veins, as her father was my Uncle Ben, of whom I have written much. I made the fudge seen above, molding it into large cookie cutters of Christmas shapes. I used Google’s free Picasa2 software to made the collage of photographs.

The Recipe As Written by Violet –


  • 18 ounces semisweet baking chocolate (such as 3 bags of chocolate chips)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans (I toast them in the oven first.)

In a heavy saucepan over low heat melt the chips into the milk, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat. Add the vanilla, salt and nuts, and stir until smooth. Spread evenly into a waxed paper lined 8 or 9 inch pan. Chill for 2 hours, or until firm. Turn fudge onto a cutting surface, peel away the waxed paper and cut into even squares. Store loosely covered at room temperature.

*MICROWAVE METHOD: Heat chips and milk on high for 3 minutes, depending on the wattage of your oven. Stir until smooth, then follow the traditional recipe.

The image, My Christmas Fudge, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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Beautiful Christmas Music

This day begins the month of beautiful music. This year we will feel the loss of Luciano Pavarotti. Here are some YouTube videos of my favorites from his incredible performance in 1975, at the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal: Luciano Pavarotti.

Play All Videos

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A Picture from Edna

I purchased the basic gingerbread house as a kit at a local bakery recommended by my next door neighbor, Kathleen. The only thing – it didn’t come with a picture of the finished product. So I sent Grandpa back to the bakery with my camera in tow and he took three photographs of the display house. Wouldn’t you know, when I showed the photographs to my daughter-in-law she said, “oh we would rather use our own creativity.” And so they did. Everyone had a great time putting it together and when finished they all proclaimed it to be the best gingerbread house they had ever seen.

It was supposed to have two large candy canes decorating the front entrance, however, one got eaten by my grandson during the construction phase of the house. He declared that he prefered it as it is now, with the lone candy cane representing a flag pole.

Here is the procedure to create a gingerbread house from scratch, without a kit, for the adventureous: “How to Make a Gingerbread House.” If anyone would like to see pictures of more beautiful houses, or is seeking inspiration for creating one, here is a slide show from Flickr of more than 300 creations: Gingerbread Houses .

The image, The Gingerbread House, was originally uploaded by barneykin. It is posted here from Barneykin’s flickr account.

Visit Neddy’s Archives for more of Edna’s writings.

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