Friday, November 25, 2016

Heritage Discovery

Recently, I made a discovery about my ancestors that began with The Juggler's Children by Carolyn Abraham, a book that I picked up randomly at the library because it looked interesting. The author's family had European heritage but lived in India and eventually immigrated to Canada via England. As a science journalist, she was interested in DNA testing to provide information about ancestry and used it in her journey to discover her own family history.

I was never seriously interested in researching my family history, but the book inspired me to do a little "Googling". After about an hour of typing in a few family names, I was amazed at what I found!

It turns out that I can trace my grandmother's (on my mother's side) ancestry back to 1751 in Scotland! This information was thanks to a site that I stumbled upon called Canadian Headstones. It seems that a "relative", who I do not know, did a lot of work and created a family tree of the Storie family (Storie is my grandmother's maiden name.) ..... since first writing this post I have been in touch with my 3rd cousin 1x, removed, Doug Storie who lives in the U.S.!!

The Storie Family Tree Tells the Following Tale:

William Storie was born in 1751 in Renfrewshire, Scottland and married Elizabeth Stewart (born in 1757). (They would be my great x4 grandparents).Their son, William Storie (Jr.) married Mary Ann McQueen from Ayrshire, Scotland. In 1829 William and Mary Ann sailed across the Atlantic to Canada with their five children, William, John, Elizabeth, Agnes and Thomas, While at sea, their two young daughters died, Elizabeth was four years old, and Agnes three. One of the children was buried at sea and the other on an island in eastern Canada.
The family settled in McNab Township, Renfrew, Ontario and had eight more children. One of those eight children, Agnes Storie (presumably named after her deceased sister) had a son named John Storie "Harvie". The documents list his mother (Agnes) as "not married"! (interesting!). The family tree goes on to show that one year after her son, John, was born, she married a fellow by the name of John Harvie and together they had nine children. I wonder if her first son, John Storie was the biological son of John Harvie?? (Nice to have a little mystery in your family tree!)

Anyway, John Storie "Harvie" eventually married Annie Ferguson and they are my great grandparents! The woman in the photo below (top left) is Annie (Ferguson) Storie. The woman beside her (top right) is Mary Minerva Storie, my grandmother and the child she is holding is my aunt Mabel, who was the oldest of my mother's three siblings. The woman sitting in the chair is Marion (Frood) Ferguson (Annie's mother, I assume). I believe that the photo was taken in 1903 or 1904 since Mabel looks like she is only a few months old and her birth date is 1903.

Top left, Annie Ferguson, top right, Mary Minerva (Storie) Neil, bottom left, Marion (Frood) Ferguson, bottom right, Mabel Nellie Neil

So, you might have noticed that the William Storie of 1751 and his family were from Renfrewshire in Scotland and the family that sailed across the Atlantic settled in McNab Township, Renfrew Ontario. That was no coincidence. The original settlers in the area were from Renfrewshire and thus the name Renfrew. My ancestors, William and Mary (McQueen) Storie , from Renfreshire, Scotland likely came with or followed other relatives to the new land. It seems that most of the Stories settled in McNab Township, a plot of land once dominated by the last Laird of McNab , one of the last clan chieftains. "Laird" McNab was a colourful character to say the least, and not in a good way for the settlers. He ruled the township as a feudal lord, treating the settlers poorly. The families he brought from Scotland arrived with little provisions in place for them, living in roughly built shanties and forced to make steep debt payments. Eventually McNab was forced out by the government and fled to France.

Thus it was such circumstances that William and Mary Storie would have arrived into after making the long journey across the Atlantic as well as suffering the loss of two young children. They obviously survived and went on to have eight more children!. ...... oh that we of the twenty first century could be made of such stern stuff!

The Last Laird of McNab

Storie Family Tree

The Storie Family Tree was found on "Canadian Headstones" thanks to the work of my 3rd cousin x1, Doug Storie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

French Dinner Party

It all started with  My Life in France by Julia Child. I picked it up at the library thinking it might fill my need for a good summer read and I wasn't disappointed. Then, I recommended it to my friend Juliette (who is French by the way), and she lent me her Laura Calder book, full of great French recipes and anecdotes ... we both love her show, French Food at Home. So, over a glass of wine by a summer fire we thought that our next "gourmet night" just had to be FRENCH! (We hadn't told our "gourmet club" friends at this point ... but hoped they'll be okay with it!)

Juliette had the brilliant idea that we should come up with a typical French dinner menu and everyone in our "gourmet group" (six couples) would contribute. Normally we choose a theme, such as Chinese, or Italian or "rib" night and everyone brings a dish - potluck style. Our vision for "Nuit Frances" would be to have a more organized menu. This is one that Juliette found  (on and I thought it was brilliant!

A Classic French Dinner Menu

·       Chicken Liver Pate

·       French Bread

·       Selection of French Cheeses

·       Coquilles St. Jacques

·       Winter Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

·       Blanquette de Veau (Veal in Cream Sauce)

·       Chocolate Mousse

So, we began to organize, deciding to give our friends the choice of either choosing an item on the menu to bring, ..... or "we" Juliette and I (and our hubbies) would prepare the whole meal but share the cost among the gang. Everyone chose the second option....... and that was okay with us as we were excited to try out these recipes ourselves.

Planning a "French Dinner Party" is not all about the food. We had to decide what dishes to use, table linens, and of course, what to wear! We chose a dark blue damask table cloth with my mother's Limoges dishes and matching napkins which were folded in a "French Fold" .... gotta love Pintrest! My pansies were still thriving so I picked them for the table and even used them in the salad! Since Juliette and I (and Richard and Ross) were the chefs, we wore aprons and pearls, naturally.

The day of our dinner began with Juliette arriving with her super-duper mixing machine around 10:00 am. We began with the Chocolate Mouse and then moved on to the Coquilles St. Jacques.

Juliette tips the bowl of meringue over her head .... if nothing falls out, it's ready!

Juliette pipes the chocolate mousse into martini glasses and it turns out beautifully! Since this was a collaborative effort, our "better? halves" were not off the hook. Ross prepared the pate and the blaquette du veau and Richard was in charge of logistics.

It was great to have dinner guests who thoroughly embrace the theme of the evening ..... French attire and all!

I had clearer photos, but decided to post the one below .....  hands in motion, Cathy in a "blurry" of laughter and an arm in the way pouring some wine. After all that's what a French dinner party is all about right? The food is just an opportunity to bring us together for a good time! (Don't tell Julia Childs!)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween

Well it's Halloween again and time to get out the electric pumpkin!
In the "olden days", when the kids were young I used to go all out and stuff overalls and an old shirt, use a pumpkin (a real one) for a head and make a "pumpkin man" to sit on a lawn chair outside. I might even stick some paper black cats and witches on a window and hang a few cloth ghosts from a tree. But these days our decorations are a bit more low key.

When I was out for a walk the other day I had the bright idea that, instead of putting my electric pumpkin by the front door, I would run an extension cord and put it near the driveway to greet "trick or treaters".

Then I walked past the house two doors up!!

So I decided to just put my little pumpkin by the front door and call it a day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Good Friend Changes Colour

For more than a year I have spent a lot of time on the Saunders Brook Trail near my home. So much time, in fact, that it's almost like a good friend with whom I gripe and complain, plan my next adventure, create "to do" lists, and reminisce. After spending time with my "friend", not only have I gotten some much needed exercise, but sorted out a few "issues" or brought home a new goal to begin working toward.

I love this trail! The tall trees shade you from the hot summer sun, and offer shelter when bitter winds blow. Even in winter the path is well worn and passable most of the time. This fall it is especially scenic. Check it out!

I gave myself a little photography assignment on my walk today. My goal was to take a pic that included evidence of fall and the path in the same frame.  Happy Fall (you know what's next!)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Fall Follies

There's nothing like a road trip on a fall afternoon. It's not so good if it's raining, but what else have we got to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon?

Guess what I'm having?

Our drive to Cornhill Nursery through country back roads was pleasant enough in spite of the rain. A "to go" coffee helped as well as conversation with our friends, Danny and Nancy. We arrived at Cornhill's "Grape Fest" and it was a little damp and cold but soon the weather cleared and the sun came out. We warmed ourselves with a delicious bowl of corn chowder (I had the Jalapeno soup) and a snoop around the "old farm implements décor". After that we were good to take in the rest of the "go -ins on"!

Nancy gazes at the display of antique tools.

Gotta love the display of cow bells!

I'm not sure if it was the sun or the time of day, but all of a sudden things were happening at the nursery! There was apple cider making, music by a live band, and displays of grapes and apples!

This young fellow helped his dad press the apples.

We tried the fresh apple cider and loved it! Ross did a little extra research with the intention of making "hard" apple cider.

Our enjoyable Sunday drive gave us a little education on the variety of apples and grapes that are locally grown. A batch of apple cider or a good apple pie may come of it ..... but if not we had a good day in the company of good friends! Happy Fall!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Living on the Edge!

For one weekend every fall six friends get together on the edge of the beautiful Bay of Fundy. When I say "the edge" I mean that literally ..... the cottage we stay in actually looks out over a cliff with a 60 foot drop to the rugged coast below. We spend the weekend relaxing, sipping wine, solving world problems and hiking in Fundy National Park.

Nancy cooling her feet.

This year we chose to hike to Laverty Falls and we were not disappointed. The wooded trail was a good workout that ended with the opportunity to cool our feet and take some pics. Thank goodness we brought along our group photographer .... have selfie stick, will travel (now if we could just get one for a tablet!)

After a hard day on the trail we were rewarded some entertainment at the Molly Kool kitchen party. Molly Kool was the first female sea captain in North America and she hailed from little old Alma New Brunswick!
I took a little video of the entertainment at the kitchen party provided by two very talented children!


In the town of Alma (where we stayed) a church on the main drag was being renovated and about to become a center for fresh brewed coffee and craft beer. We poked our heads inside to check it out and wish them well with the new business.

Later we talked about the beauty of the area and how it could be developed more to attract tourists and help boost our poor economy (more businesses like the church above). Good for business maybe, but not so good for us ...... more tourists would mean that we would be less likely to have a whole beach to ourselves like Diane and Cathy in the pic below!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer Road Trip

Head out on the highway ....... looking for adventure! There's nothing like a summer road trip that starts with a takeout coffee and a breakfast sandwich and ends up with a great visit with family.

Stopping at "points of interest" along the way is all part of the adventure. The Masstown Market, below, was a great stopping point just before we got to Truro, NS. Besides enjoying a bite to eat from some great local food vendors, you can pick up seasonal produce and quality, crafts, home décor and gardening items.

Of course, no road trip is worth taking if it doesn't include a stop at a tractor dealership ..... just to look or kick a few tires!

One of our planned stops was at the Stanfield's Underwear Outlet in Truro. We heard that there were bargains to be had, and who can't use a new pair of combination long johns ...... after all winter is not that far away!

Lot's of great items and good prices, but not sure about the yellow underwear below! Yikes!

Next stop, the beautiful Annapolis Valley where we spent the night and had a great evening with Ross's brother Jim and his wife, Linda. Before we left the next day we had a chance to check out Jim's retirement "dream job" at the rink on the air force base where he gets to drive the Zamboni! (I asked if he'd let us take it for a spin, but I guess he didn't trust our driving skills!)

On the base we saw a display of military planes. This was one that Jim used to work on .... he had to sit (where the manikin is) in the nose of the plane during search and rescue operations!

Arrival in Lunenburg

After leaving Jim and Linda's we had a lovely drive down highway 10 to Lunenburg where our son and his wife live. This historic town on the south shore of Nova Scotia impresses me every time I go there, with its well preserved architecture, quaint streets and ocean views. The main purpose of our visit, however, was to spend time with our "kids" and to see Alicia's (our daughter in law) flower farm Littlest Flower Farm.   As you can see, as soon as you enter their home, you know you're either in the house of a farmer or a florist ..... as it turns out it's both! ..... oh, and a carpenter too!

Good company, food, and laughs in the back yard were the order of the day. The night, however, was a different story!
Have you ever been "squid jigging"? Well we have! When I was going to school in Ontario we used to sing Canadian folk songs and one of them was called "The Squid Jigging Grounds" from Newfoundland. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be "jigging" squid off the coast of Nova Scotia!

So, in order to jig squid, you need to go out after dark and put a special lore on your fishing rod. Here's Joel and Ross trying their luck, but unfortunately the squid were not interested in being jigged!

The Littlest Flower Farm

Sunday morning we ventured out to Alicia's flower farm to do some picking! What an array of flowers!

A lot of work goes into producing unique and gorgeous flowers like these which is only the first step in creating beautiful arrangements and bouquets which are sold in markets and by special order.

I caught this gal inspecting the items that I was collecting in the bucket.
In spite of the chicken I managed to collect quite a few feather tops!
Bachelor Buttons harvested for confetti

More pics of flowers .... can't help it, they're just so darn pretty!

Joel loading the car and Alicia with a finished bouquet ready for delivery.

All loaded up!
After a couple of hours at the farm we headed back to Lunenburg where Alicia worked her magic!

With a bouquet of my own, and memories of a great weekend, we headed home. I am inspired to find a deer proof area to grow a few blossoms myself next season!

As you can see, my bouquet survived the journey home.