Thursday, August 30, 2018

Traveling Trio Takes a Big Bite of the Big Apple

View from our 37th Floor room at the Marriott Marquis
How exciting to be able to spend a few days in New York City!  Three women descended from the sky and hit the ground running.  A 6:30 am nonstop flight from New Orleans made it possible to have almost an entire first day to enjoy the sites, sounds and tastes of the big city.  Thanks, Delta, for a smooth flight with no delay.  Having TSA Pre-check status was wonderful as there was no disrobing or pat downs in the line to board.  A real luxury!

Dot, Debbie and Donna made a trio of travelers looking for new adventures.  All of us had traveled to NYC many times, and this trip we wanted to see and do things that we hadn't experienced before.  Of course we stayed at a familiar hotel, The Marriott Marquis, because of the convenient location right in Times Square, and we did see Broadway plays and visit THE MET, but the trip was sprinkled with new fun each day.  Good planning was the key!

First things first:  Food.  We wanted to go somewhere we had never been so we sought out a recommended pizza joint.  Rays Pizza was only four blocks from our hotel, so we walked there and sampled the pizza by the slice and a calzone.  The crust was chewy and the toppings were very generous.

The calzone proved to be enough food for two people.  The restaurant was very crowded, but the service was quick.  By the number of pizzas we saw prepared for delivery, we knew it had to be good and it was!

After lunch we had time to visit the TKTS booth on Duffy Square and purchase Broadway matinee tickets.  We selected "Anastasia."  The special appeal for this play was that the lead was played by a young woman from Louisiana whose mother is an acquaintance of mine.  Molly Rushing did a great job as young Anastasia.  It was thrilling to see a young person achieve a dream of acting and dancing on Broadway.

Waiting for the play.  A happy place!
The story of Anastasia was the ill fated Romanoff princess, who many believe was not executed with the rest of her family in the Russian Revolution. This could have been a sad tale for a musical.  Much to our surprise the play was full of hope and love.  We were enchanted by the creative sets and the sheer talent of the cast.  At least one of us had tears at the end.  Such a heartwarming story.

Later that afternoon we hit the TKTS booth again and scored tickets to "Waitress." This musical was nominated for four Tony awards in 2016 and was a real crowd pleaser. We cried and we laughed.  It is the story of a young woman named Jenna who is in a bad marriage, but is famous for her pie baking at a small town restaurant.  She dreams of winning a baking contest, but her dreams are shattered when she becomes pregnant.

Her fellow waitresses are her friends and confidants.  Their love lives are interesting and in the end all found happiness.  The songs were catchy and we found ourselves toe-tapping and laughing at the impossible situations that the waitresses got themselves into!  An interesting tidbit about "Waitress" is that real life husband and wife Katie Lowes and Adam Shapiro, play husband and wife in the play as well.  I recognized Adam from "Grey's Anatomy."

Time for dinner was short and we chose The Mean Fiddler right next to the theatre.  The menu that featured a large list of small plates just right for a quick meal.  I chose the Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls and they were very tasty with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  This Irish Pub right in the middle of Manhattan was big on social media and one could take a selfie and post it on Instagram and they would in turn show it on the big screens all around the place.  Fun!!

We forgot the picture, so there are a few bites missing!
No trip to NYC is complete, in my opinion, without a stop at Junior's Restaurant and Bakery.  Junior's is the self proclaimed "Home of the World's Best Cheesecake!"  It's a New York City original with 5 locations.  It began as a family restaurant in Brooklyn.  Large portions and great service characterize Junior's. Dessert was....you guessed it....Carrot Cake Cheesecake.  After an exhausting day of fun we bought one slice of this delicacy "to go."  We nibbled on it for two days as it was so rich that we couldn't eat it in one sitting.  Do not miss Junior's is you go to New York.  It's a must!


The hotel fees at the Marriott Marquis include one "free" attraction.  In keeping with our theme of new adventures, we chose to receive tickets to a GrayLine double decker tour bus that featured "hop on, hop off" service.  We rode the bus to Soho where we shopped at some places that we don't find back home.  Many bargains were to be had.
Can you see on the top deck?

Each passenger on the GrayLine bus gets earbuds and is treated to a recorded city tour.  Our trio thought we knew everything there was to know about NYC, since we had visited so many times.  We admitted to learning some new information.  One example is that NYC restaurants are graded by the Department of Health.  They must display the grade in their windows.  We learned that grade A is best and grade D means:  "don't do it."  Sure enough, we started looking and those letters were displayed every where we went.  Another tidbit that I didn't know is that Wall Street was so named because the Colonists had built a wall at that spot to keep the British out during the Revolutionary War.  Of course it didn't work, but the street kept it's name.

High Energy!!  Barrels of laughs!!
The selected play for the evening was "SpongeBob SquarePants: The Musical.  Our first thought was that it would be silly and just for children.  The hawkers at the TKTS book recommended it to us.  Since we were in the mood for new adventures, we said "YES!"  The play was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won the Tony for Best Scenic Design of a Musical.  The theatre was a grand spectacle and I can see why it won for that.  There was also a nomination for Best Musical and I am surprised it didn't win that as well.  The humor was not for children, but it helped to know a little about the television show to understand it all.  My homework is to learn more about SpongeBob.  The  amazing sets, the high energy singing and dancing and the subtle humor combined for a superb evening of entertainment!  Do see it if you can.  You won't be sorry.

We capped the evening with a visit to The View, a revolving restaurant/bar on the 48th floor of the Marriott Marquis which happened to be our hotel.  The pricey cocktails included a spectacular panorama of the city at night!  I enjoyed every drop of my $25 Cosmopolitan....good company and great scenery going by as we turned.

Live television is such fun!
The next day brought several new adventures.  We had tickets for the GMA Summer Concert in Central Park to see Luis Fonsi perform.  He is a Puerto Rican singer whose single "Despacito" has had more YouTube views than any song ever. The tickets were free but hard to be procured  by online registration through a ticketing website.  Early in August when the tickets were available, I was online the minute the issuing began only to be waitlisted!  Such a disappointment that was.  Three days before our trip I got a text that we had cleared the waitlist and we had our tickets.  We had to wake up at 4:30 am to get ready and take a taxi to Central Park.  It was still dark outside when we joined about 1000 others to wait in a line for the gates to open at 6 am.  Once in the park, we were in for a treat.  The situation was orderly and the crowd was polite. People of all ages were there to take part in the music and fun.  The concert's sponsor King's Hawaiian treated us to breakfast sandwiches and we each were given bright orange sunglasses!

The GMA staffer who warmed up the audience was hilarious and kept up the fun with jokes and audience participation. We got to see the concert twice because we were there for the rehearsal and the sound checks.  We were cued as to when we should applaud and dance.  It was the best new experience of the trip!  "Despacito" is now one of my favorite new songs!

Heavenly Garments


As we left the concert we were still humming the melodies and we walked through the park to THE MET.  While this was not a totally new experience the exhibit we saw was new to the entire world.  It was Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.  In addition to seeing designer garments that represent a "dialogue between the creators and Medieval art and fashion" there were also papal robes and accessories from the Sistine Chapel that had never been outside the Vatican.  We were able to snap photos of the designer garments but not the Papal accessories.








The Pope's Shoes

The clothing worn by Saint Pope John Paul II was on display.  From the clothing it was apparent that he was a very small man.  What struck me was the shoes he wore....he had large feet.  The shoes were red and matched the embroidery on the robes.   He wore them once.  We also saw the ceremonial Keys to the Kingdom in an ornate chest.  He was presented these on the occasion of his installation as Pope.  It was a thrill to see the jewel studded tiaras worn by Popes from times past.  The rings and scapulas were also gorgeous.  Many of the items were intricately embroidered.  Almost every item was a gift to the Pope from a King, order of nuns or a Church of another country.

After leaving THE MET we walked 5 blocks down 5th Avenue aka Museum Mile to the Neue Galerie.  There we dined in the Cafe Sabarsky on rather authentic German food.  Bratwurst and Potatoes and open faced sandwiches on hearty wheat breads were sampled as well as a dessert item of Hazel Walnut Torte.

The real draw for this museum, at least for me, was the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt.  Adele was Klimt's muse and the painting was done in 1910. Because of the addition of raised gold embellishments on the painting it is also known as "The Woman in Gold."  It hung in the Bauer home in Vienna until the Nazis confiscated it right before WWII. After the war, the Belvedere museum in Vienna acquired it and it hung there until the 90's when Adele's niece, who now lives in California, saw it when visiting Vienna.
The Woman in Gold and me
She began proceedings to have it returned to the family.  After years of litigation, including a Supreme Court decision, the painting and 4 others belonging to the family were returned to the niece.  She sold "The Woman in Gold" to Ronald Lauder in 2005 for $135 million dollars.  It now hangs in the Neue Galerie for all to appreciate.  Photos were not allowed of the original, but there is a replica where one can take pictures to document a visit.  Of course, I had to take a snapshot.  Seeing this painting was a "bucket list" item for me as I had read a book and had seen a movie about it and was intrigued by it's beauty and lavishness.

The museum also has paintings and accessories by several German and Austrian artists/artisans and is considered to have the "best collection" of those.  We saw many Klimts and Schieles.  These two were contemporaries and considered by many art enthusiasts to be the first of the modern artists in Europe.  The paintings were in many cases stark and almost lewd.  Some of the paintings were from the personal collection of Estee' Lauder whose son Ronald founded the museum.

The only thing left for the day was another play.  We hit the TKTS booth again and decided to see "The Play that Goes Wrong."  It's a slapstick comedy of a play within a play.  The ramshackle set and the British accented characters including a corpse who doesn't play dead very well, combined for a hilarious show.  We laughed until we cried.  One character was a master of malapropisms and that added  to the fun.  It's a "who done it" with twists and turns of "funny."  While not a musical, it was very upbeat and recommended.  It's a the Lyceum Theatre just off Broadway.

The next day was lunch, more shopping and trip to the airport!  Again Delta was on time and we enjoyed the ease of the pre-checked status.  We left with fond memories of  many new adventures and vows to return again.  Our trio is very special and we hope to travel together again, soon.
Dot, Debbie and Donna
Traveling Trio
























Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Tribute to Martha Simmons-2018





Martha Simmons-A True Martha
“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.  Martha had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to Jesus and asked,  ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?’ Tell her to help me!”~ Luke 10:38-40

St. Luke could easily have been talking about a present day Martha we all know and love. Our own smallish bundle of energy and sweetness is, and has been, the face of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church for over four decades.  We admire Martha, and many of us feel like St. Luke’s Mary.  We feel guilty because we just can’t keep up. And, the fact that our Martha has a few years on most of us only magnifies our feelings of guilt.

Martha and her family moved to Zachary in 1970 and joined St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at that time.  That was the beginning of Martha's extraordinary journey of Christian Service. 

One stands in awe when considering Martha’s resume’ of contributions to our Church parish while she was also a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and career woman: 


+  Altar Society President for 32 years 
+  Bereavement Committee Team Leader           
             +  Building Committee member
             +  Choir member 
             +  Coordinator of receptions and parties 
             +  Eucharistic Minister 
             +  Homebound/Nursing Home Visitor
             +  Sacristan Coordinator 
+ Seamstress 
              + St. Joseph Altar Volunteer
              +  St. Matthew’s Guild member 
              +  Vacation Bible School Volunteer


During her presidency of the Altar Society, the treasury of that organization grew from about $1,000 to over $20,000. The projects she directed kept the treasury, used to support various ministries, growing in a positive direction.  Her famous fig cakes and jams alone have probably brought in thousands of dollars!

Fr. Jeffery Bayhi presents a plaque to Martha at a reception following Mass

Mentoring has been a vital part of her personal ministry.  Over the years she had the ability to recognize talent in others and encourage them to give of those talents.  Her daily willingness to use her gifts and abilities has strengthened our stewardship. 

One could never list everything that Martha has done and continues to do for St. John’s. In her retirement, Martha has spent countless hours in service.  She can often be seen cleaning the holy water basins, changing burned down candles and other behind the scenes chores that are seldom noticed.   She is a “true Martha” as illustrated in Luke’s Gospel.  Her steadfast faith and love for Christ shines through in everything she accomplishes in His name.  


The St. John the Baptist parish community is very thankful for Martha’s dedicated service of over 40 years.  She is a "true Martha" as demonstrated by her willingness to serve. 

She has been a constant who has been a light to all.  The Parish of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Diocese of Baton Rouge, LA presented this award in recognition of her Life of Service to our Church.

We Love You, Martha!  Your generosity with your time and talents has been an inspiration to everyone you have met along the way.    

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Food for the Soul....Budget Style!

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans
My husband likes to bargain shop.  He often buys large quantities of a grocery item because "it was on sale!"  He can't resist the opportunity to save a few pennies.  Often we tire of the bargains before we use them up!  I have a pantry full of foods that looked good at the time, but of which we quickly tired of eating.  I am sure that some of my readers can relate.  I digress....Yesterday he brought home fifteen pounds of chicken thighs!  There were a real deal at sixty nine cents a pound.

Luckily, across town on the same day, a friend posted a picture of a dish  using chicken on her Facebook page.  My husband saw the post, admired it and then couldn't find it again.  He asked for the posting person to share the recipe.  In the meantime, several offered up their own versions and found some recipes for us on the Internet.  It was a conversation piece.  Perhaps we need to get real lives as the hunt for the recipe entertained us for hours

At the crack of dawn this morning I began cooking Chicken Stew with Lima Beans.  I consulted my friends' recipes and finally devised my own version determined by the ingredients I had in my pantry.  That's the best kind of budget cooking....using what you have!!  I decided to serve the concoction over fried grit cakes.  I had some in my freezer and frying them up seemed a good alternative to rice.

This dish is Southern, soulful and very budget friendly!  The lima beans and the grit cakes are the crowning touches.  Thanks to Julie Cherry for the inspiration.  Thanks to Phyllis Mixon for searching the Internet for a comparable recipe.  Here's my version.  I didn't make a roux, but the pan drippings contained flour and thickened the liquid to a smooth and thick consistency.   I cooked eight chicken thighs, so I only have about one hundred left in the freezer!  I am hoping to find more unique ways to cook those thighs before we tire of them.

Chicken Stew with Lima Beans over Grit Cakes


8 chicken thighs, bone in or boneless
1 cup flour (seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 cup each chopped:  onion, bell pepper and celery
1 T. minced garlic
about 1/2 cup white wine
3 reduced sodium chicken bullion cubes
2 cups boiling water
1 (24 oz) package of frozen baby lima beans
dash of Kitchen Bouquet seasoning to taste
garnish: parsley and paprika

1. Coat the chicken pieces with flour and brown in the vegetable oil.  Don't crowd the pan.  I did four at a time.
2. Remove chicken and place pieces in a 4 quart slow cooker.
3. Saute' the vegetables and garlic in the drippings.  Transfer them to the slow cooker on top of the chicken.
4. In the same pan, add the bullion cubes to the water.  When cubes are dissolved, pour the liquid over the chicken and vegetables.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine and pour that over the chicken as well.  Add Kitchen Bouquet to achieve a dark color.
5.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on High for about 2 hours.  Reduce heat to Low and cook about 2 more hours until chicken is tender.  Stir in Lima Beans.  Continue to cook until beans are soft, about 1 more hour.
6.  Serve over hot Grit Cakes or rice. Garnish with parsley and paprika.

Grit cakes while cooking
Grit Cakes (my version, based on eating them in a restaurant)

Prepare grits to serve 6 according to package directions. Add about 1 T. minced garlic to the water in the recipe. (I used Quaker 3-Minute Grits)

When grits are cooked, stir in about 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.  Line a 9"X 13" pan with waxed paper and pour in the grits.  Spread the mixture into the pan so that it is even throughout.  Refrigerate.  When the grits are cold, they will hold the shape of the pan.  Cut them into rectangles and "flash freeze" on a cookie sheet.  When frozen, place grit cakes in a plastic bag in the freezer to store until ready to cook.

To prepare for serving:  coat each cake with an egg wash, coat with bread crumbs and season the tops as desired.  My favorite is Trader Joe's 21-Seasoning Salute.  Heat about 1/2 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup butter in a large skillet.  When oil is hot, add the grit cakes and cook about 5 minutes on each side until brown and crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel until ready to serve.

Serves 6 to 8 and costs less than $10 for the entire dish!!  The taste and the price is good for the soul.  I wonder what will be "on sale" at the grocery store next week??






Monday, August 15, 2016

An Almost Unbearable Situation....my thoughts

You cannot imagine the devastation of the flooding in south Louisiana. We and our daughter's family were spared, but we have many friends and family whose homes are flooded. Tales of several feet of water in their homes are not uncommon. The real work will begin as the water recedes this week, hopefully. 
We endured several days of rain and now the rivers are rising. The major culprits are the Amite, Comite and Tickfaw rivers. The Mississippi is retained by levees and managed by spillways. 
We also have "backwater" flooding which is flooding by water that cannot drain normally because of flooding of the natural drainage. 
The outpouring of donations has been phenomenal. Insurance and FEMA claims will begin this week. Churches and schools have opened shelters for displaced families and the Red Cross is assisting in every way possible. Many shelters had to be abandoned as they took on flood waters. One shelter had 200 people who had to be evacuated by boats. Thank goodness for the volunteers who brought their boats to the scene. 
Please pray for our community.
Furthermore: 
A few weeks ago many in our city were scourging the police and first responders because of an unfortunate incident in our community. Some were throwing bricks at police, spitting in their faces and cursing them loudly. Many were resisting directions given to them. Some were arrested for disturbing the peace. 
Today many of those same people are counting on the police and first responders to rescue them from flooded homes and unsafe conditions on our roads and highways. I hope they will be more gracious this time. 
Our public servants are working nonstop to serve the entire community. Many have worked double and triple shifts because of manpower shortages caused by people not being able to get to work. 
Please pray for our police, EMS and Firefighters. They are our support system.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A Grandfather's Love

This is a very personal post as I wanted to share something that my husband, John, constructed for his first granddaughter, Olive.  It's really a pictorial essay.  The pictures speak loudly of his creativity, dedication and skill that went into building a doll house on wheels.  It is fitting that these pictures be published near Father's Day.  The doll house is an expression of love and is now shared with another granddaughter, Pearl.

The doll house project took several weeks of continuous measuring, hammering, painting and decorating.  The pictures captured each step of the way.  Enjoy viewing them and remember that many things are possible with a grandfather's love.  Hopefully the girls will treasure this delight!  










And here was the reward for the effort!   Two smiling faces and lots of memories to be made.  

Happy Father's Day, John Dickinson  (aka as Paw Paw John Allie by Olive and Pearl)



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Reflections on Daylight Savings Time Change


My One Clock
Daylight Savings Time change in the spring always reminds me of my mother, Elise. She was told by someone... and so it must be true... that batteries for each clock should be changed on the day of the time change. Probably a good idea to change batteries now and then, but she took it to the extreme. My brother was always the one who had the chore after my dad died. She could never accomplish this task on her own. 
My Momma had many clocks and watches. Her clock collection grew when she and my dad traveled for his work.  They would follow flea markets and auctions in many of the areas in which they lived for months at a time. They bid on and purchased hundreds of old clocks.  Some were operated with a key and some were modern enough to require batteries.  I believe the ultimate plan was to resell them and pocket the profits, but that never happened. 
It is interesting to me that some people feel that others value their collections and interests as much as they do.  I remember the Christmas where I cried because instead of receiving a much needed and requested gift, I was "allowed" to choose a clock from their assortment of time pieces and wall adornments.  The clock I chose never kept accurate time...another disappointment.  
Momma was obsessed with time keeping. When she died, we removed no less than twelve clocks from her one bedroom apartment. There were clocks everywhere. I could never understand it. She had so little to do that I always thought she should just cherish each moment and enjoy herself instead of being a clock watcher. She used to set an alarm clock for 4:30 am so she could get her newspaper out of the hall of her apartment complex before someone stole it or, heaven forbid, tripped on it. 
She "timed" every aspect of her day. Some examples: a friend would call and talk for "exactly 43 minutes." or..."You were 7 minutes late in picking me up for my doctor appointment."  She would also set a time for her gatherings and would bad mouth anyone who showed up after the appointed time as though tardiness was a terrible character flaw.   There were no exceptions in her opinion of habitually late people.  They were just made of lesser stuff than she.  Even on her deathbed she requested her watch.  
A chore accomplished early morning
She lived 88 years.  Before she succumbed to poor health, I would telephone her regularly and ask how she had spent her day.  She would reply with a litany of tasks she had accomplished in the allotted time she had that day.  Sometimes when I get a lot of errands and tasks accomplished, I say that I have had an "Elise Day."  She admired people who were busy and successful. 
She was a creature of habit and took very good care of herself.  The good habits she developed were probably a result of doing things the same way and at the same time on most days.  She was a southern lady who awoke early, worked hard, but found time for a daily nap.  I can still see her resting on her bed with a damp washcloth on her eyes as she took her beauty nap.  Before that rest she always set a clock to awaken her so she could enjoy her afternoon coffee before it was time to begin preparing supper. One could set a clock by her habits.  There is irony somewhere in that comparison.  
My mother had many fine qualities, and I suppose I can even admire her dedication to her collections and to spending time wisely. However, watching her rigorous self-imposed schedule has caused me to evaluate how I spend my days.  In retirement I have divested myself of all except one clock and I haven't worn a watch since 2005.  Only time will tell who had the correct approach.  
So, on Sunday: "Here's to you, Elise!" I will change the battery of my one clock in your honor.
My Momma & Me at an event..I am sure we were on time!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

An Extraordinary Day: Daniel Family Reunion

Lewis Edward and Nina Hughes Daniel
Ed and Nina Daniel had seven children:  Norris, Maxwell, Audrey, Edwin, Joyce, Jackie and Margaret.  The family lived in Amite, Louisiana and were reared with Christian values.  Life during the depression was hard for this family, but they stayed close. Even after marriages and children they saw each other often.  The cousins, children of the seven siblings, have fond memories of family gatherings. The recollections include summers of play, endless card games and shared values. Jackie and Margaret are the surviving siblings as the other five have passed away due to illnesses.

Seems that as the aging process takes hold, one is reminded of the value of past experiences and the importance of family.  Early in the year Daniel Family members gathered for a funeral.  Another one of my father's six siblings had passed away.  We noted that we never saw each other except for solemn occasions and decided to do something about it.  On October 11, 2015, the two remaining Daniel siblings and 118 of the Daniel children, grandchildren and great grandchildren gathered in Zachary, Louisiana.  There would be food, fellowship and singing. The Daniels love to sing!  Childhood memories include many sessions of gathering around a piano and belting out carols at Christmas.  Many of the cousins could and would play musical instruments.  It was noted that our grandfather, Ed, was singing a hymn on his deathbed.  That was the last memory shared of his life.
Seated L to R: Norris and Maxwell
Standing L to R: Joyce, Edwin, Audrey, Jackie & Margaret

The planning began in April.  The gym of my church was reserved.  A Facebook page was begun.  Family names and contact information were collected via email and messages.  A letter was composed and the invitations went out in mid July.  Each of the 21 first cousins, their spouses and their children and grandchildren were invited.
As the date got closer many people became involved.  Cousin Steve would cook for us.  He is a minister and often cooks large quantities of barbecue for church events and he offered his expertise for our event.  Cousin Melanie offered her talents as mistress of ceremonies, song parody writer, photo booth creator and general "counsel" along the way.  Others encouraged their kids to register and to attend.

Wayne and Bootsie greeted guests
From childhood, when most of our parents were still around, the Daniel cousins knew each other.  As the family gatherings came less and less frequent we lost touch.  We had a great desire to share our memories and to meet each other's extended family.  We color coded our name tags and labeled them with the names of our parents.  That would be a good way to start.
As each family arrived and the name tags were claimed, the feeling of excitement grew.  The names of many we never had met were paired with faces and that created a lot of joy.

We would enjoy a festive meal centered around pulled pork, cajun sausages and hot dogs for the children (42 of whom were in attendance).  Each person brought a side dish.  We filled 6 eight foot long tables with food.  Food would be a focal point of our celebration.  We found out that we are great cooks.  Steve and wife, Dianne, assisted by Eric and Phillip presided over the kitchen and serving.
Chef Steve

Blessing the food and family
Food was another way to connect as we discussed the culinary delights.  Our meal was preceded with a family blessing.  We thanked God for the food we were about to eat and for the blessings of family and the opportunity to be together.  Alecia stated the truth in the old saying:  A family that prays together, stays together.  Hands were held and it was a very special moment.

Family singing parodies
Creative Melanie
After our meal we remained seated to enjoy a program presented by our mistress of ceremonies, Melanie.  Melanie has many talents among which is writing parodies to familiar tunes.  Cousins got on stage and took the microphones to sing jaunty and humorous lyrics to the tunes of the Addams Family, Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan's Island.  What fun!

Melanie also organized a photo booth complete with props.  So many pictures were taken and a just a couple are shared here.  The hit was a life sized frame.

 

No reunion would be complete without family pictures.  The families of each sibling were assembled and cameras were clicking.  A couple of unique snaps were of the first cousins and all of the "red heads" in our family.  Nina Hughes was a redhead and that red hair is still popping up in our grandchildren and great grandchildren
First Cousins (missing Rossie, Chris and Suzie)

Redheads Rule
Margaret Ann-Youngest Daniel Sibling 
Jackie with Robin
There was more singing and near the end of our time together.  Bob, led the entire room in an a cappella rendition of a family favorite, How Great Thou Art.  (click the name of the song to hear the music) I believe that song has been sung hundreds of times at Daniel family gatherings.

It would be difficult to write about everything that occurred in our short time together.
Be assured there were smiles, hugs, laughter and genuine joy during the afternoon.  Thanks to every single person who attended.  Ed and Nina would have been very proud.

Here's the recipe for Frances Daniel Smith's Cornbread Salad that was requested by so many:
2 boxes Jiffy Cornbread Mix (prepared as directed on box, cooled, crumbled in large bowl)
1 cup diced onion, yellow or green
1 cup diced green bell pepper
3 fresh tomatoes diced
1 quart mayonnaise
Toss all ingredients together.  Top with fresh crisp crumbled bacon (or bacon bits).  Chill before serving.
Optional:  add browned ground cooked sausage, boiled eggs, olives, celery

NOTE:  members of the Facebook page, Daniel Family, can view hundreds more pictures taken on the day of the reunion.  
Welcome table:  Tablecoth crocheted by Grandmother Nina
The group: lots of folks!