I’ve been craving a sweet treat lately, so I think it’s time for another cemetery recipe! Peaches are coming into season right now so I thought why not try O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler? This tasty treat would also go well with a side of ice cream. It is summer after all!
O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler recipe can be found on the gravestone of O’Neal Bogan “Peony” Watson, in New Ebenezer Cemetery in Castor, Louisiana. O’Neal’s son Charlie McBride loves this family recipe so much, that he had it inscribed on his Mother’s grave after she passed away in 2005. He said “It really is just a great recipe”.1 In an article for the Sault Lake Tribune, Charlie reminisced about memories that making this recipe brought up. It’s a perfect example of how these cemetery recipes are a sweet way to remember our loved ones.
Here is the recipe, as inscribed on the gravestone:
O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler
1 c. Flour
2/3 c. Sugar
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 c. Butter
1/4 tsp. Salt
Mix ingredients. Add 3/4 c. Milk.
Put fruit into pan. Pour on topping.
Bake at 350’ until done.
I always find it interesting how descriptive or nondescriptive recipes found on gravestones can be. I realize it might be too expensive to inscribe too much text on a stone. I do appreciate how creative some authors get to skirt around that. This recipe is a short and sweet one, pun intended. The only things I found missing was the amount of fruit, and how long to bake it for.
Rosie Grant over at GhostlyArchive, of TikTok fame, used 1 can of whole peaches that she cubed up, so I did something similar and used 1 big can of sliced peaches. I drained the peaches before putting them in the pan and tried to make sure they were evenly distributed.
I followed the recipe as closely as possible, mixing the dry ingredients first, then adding the milk. I poured on the topping as evenly as I could, now it was time for it to go into the oven. The recipe says to bake it at 350’ “until done”. I wasn’t sure how long that should be, so I started with a timer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes it wasn’t looking cooked through, so I left it in for another 10 minutes, then another 5. After 35 minutes it was looking nice and golden so I took it out to cool.
I paired my first serving of O’Neal’s Peach Cobbler with Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream. It was to die for! The topping puffed up, creating a lovely fluffy texture that combined nicely with the soft peaches. I’ll be keeping this first batch for myself, since there isn’t enough left to share! But, I will need to make this again for a friend or family gathering.
Have you tried recreating any cemetery recipes yet? Share your favorites in the comments!
Today on the blog I wanted to share a little bit about my first cemetery road trip of the year! A couple of weekends ago, two of my best friends and I went on a fun-filled day of adventures to celebrate a birthday. We traveled over 900 km to visit Grimsby Ontario, in the Niagara Region—and it did not disappoint!
A month or so ago, my friend had asked to visit a graveyard for her birthday, as she had never visited one before. There are closer graveyards we could have visited, but since this was a special occasion I took some time to try and find the perfect spot. Weirdly enough, the internet provided the solution. Randomly, or not so randomly if you believe that technology listens to us, a video popped up in my Youtube feed by Canadian Cemetery History. I took the bait and watched the video. It showed a visit to Saint Andrew’s Anglican graveyard. This beautiful graveyard was just what we were looking for!
Not only does Saint Andrew’s Anglican Churchyard boast the 4th oldest church in the province, but it also has a lychgate and table stones. Both of which we have never seen before in person. So I began looking into what else we could visit in Grimsby; other cemeteries, museums, attractions, haunted locations, and of course interesting places to eat. I pitched the idea to the group, and they were as excited as I was to explore this beautiful little town.
I continued to research things for us to do and managed to book us a private tour of the Nelles Manor Museum. We would be visiting the resting place of the Nelles family at Saint Andrew’s, so it made sense to visit their historic home and learn more about this prominent family.
The day of the trip started bright and early. After picking up our first Starbucks of the day, we left Sudbury a little after 6 a.m. The plan was to drive straight to the graveyard, with a Starbucks stop along the way, to make the best time. Then we would take our time exploring, and visit the Nelles Manor at 3 p.m. for our private tour.
We arrived at Saint Andrew’s Anglican graveyard at about 11 a.m. and got out to stretch our legs and explore. The graveyard was absolutely beautiful. As was the weather, we had a beautiful day for exploring. Right away we noticed the prominence of the Nelles family as they had their own family plot, as well as family members scattered throughout the graveyard. We would learn more about the Nelles family when we toured the Museum later in the day.
Saint Andrews Anglican Church and graveyard is located a stone’s throw away from the Nelles Manor. The current church building dates back to 1825. The graveyard is well-maintained and has a large number of historically important grave markings. The land for the church was originally donated by Colonel Robert Nelles.1 The Nelles family plot is closest to the church on the left side of the churchyard, enclosed by a chain with small cast iron tassels hanging from it.
This graveyard also acts as an arboretum of sorts, with beautiful examples of different varieties of trees. Many were in full bloom when we visited. There is a lovely variety of gravestones to be found there as well, many of which I had not seen in person before, like the willow and urn motif, broken column symbolism, and closed books covered in cloth. It was curious to see the difference in popular cemetery symbols that we found. In the Sudbury area, lambs, doves, and hands are very common. There also stand the tallest tablet stones I have ever seen. They are taller than I am! The gravestones I was most looking forward to seeing in this graveyard were the table stones. I have not had the chance to see one in person yet, and I find them so unique and fascinating.
Table stones have an elevated ledger top, that provide space for a longer inscription, and is supported by four to six columns. This type of gravestone was popular during the first part of the 19th century.2These types of stones were used for prominent people and were sometimes installed many years after the person’s death. In that instance, these stones would sometimes cover the original gravestone. These tabletop stones are often more worn, like the ones we saw, due to larger surface erosion, making the stones barely legible.3
After we wandered the entire graveyard, we took a break for lunch and then made our way back toward the Nelles Manor. We were a little bit early for our tour, but luckily there were a few points of interest in and around the Nelles Manor for us to explore while we waited. We visited the Trinity United graveyard, and the Grimsby Museum and grounds where we discovered more interesting Grimsby history. When it was time, we made our way a couple of houses over to visit the historic Nelles Manor Museum for our private tour.
The Nelles Manor was built from 1788 to 1798, well before the American invasions in the War of 1812. The house was fully built and lived in by the Nelles family by the time the Americans declared war on the British. The Niagara Peninsula became a gateway for American fighting forces to work their way from the American frontier on the East side of the Niagara River as they reached for Burlington, York, and Kingston. Nelles Manor was occupied by British and local militia during the War of 1812, but on at least two occasions was also occupied by American forces that had moved up from Niagara.1
We received a very warm welcome when we arrived at the Nelles Manor. Our tour guide Kate, and two other guides, were finely dressed in period clothing, which added to the authenticity of the experience. We started our tour outside, taking in the magnificent architecture of the building, as well as the warm weather. Our guide talked about the land where the Nelles Manor sits, and its connections to its surroundings. Our group found it very helpful that we had visited Saint Andrew’s, as well as the Grimsby Museum grounds before our tour.
After moving inside, we were treated to a walking tour of the house; starting at the front door, touring through the sitting room parlor, and making our way upstairs. Every room is beautifully decorated for the time period, with great attention to detail. Along with period-specific furnishings, the house is decorated with some original pieces that belonged to the Nelles family, as well as original art from the period. It felt like we were stepping back in time.
The guides are incredibly versed in the history of the house, the Grimsby area, and the Nelles family. They had no trouble answering our many questions. We had explained that we were in the area to visit the cemeteries and graveyards, and they kindly pointed out artifacts and related tidbits as they took us along the tour. At the end of our tour, they asked if we would also be interested to hear some of the haunted history of the house. We of course said yes!
They shared stories of experiencing odd smells when there shouldn’t have been any, such as smelling a delicious roast or floral perfume, which was a favorite of Mrs. Nelles. They also shared some stories from paranormal investigations that have taken place in the manor. Paranormal teams have reported their fresh equipment batteries dying quickly and suddenly. They have also captured some eerie electronic voice phenomena (EVP). The staff now use some of these EVPs during their Halloween events, wherein they tell the haunted stories of the house. I would love to attend one someday. As we were discussing the spooky happenings, my friend happened to check her Apple Watch and noticed the battery was dead. Were the Nelles spirits letting us know they were with us?
We thanked our tour guides for an amazing tour and made our way outside. They had one last interesting piece of history to point out as we were leaving. In the garden, leaning up against the house are two small gravestones, that are still very legible. Kate explained that these stones were originally at a graveyard close to the water’s edge, which has since eroded away. A cenotaph was erected at Saint Andrew’s Churchyard in memory of the souls that were washed away, and the original gravestones were moved; some ended up at the manor and used as flagstones for the walking paths. These two were preserved and now sit in the garden. You never know where you might find a gravestone
There was so much we explored and experienced that day. As well as exploring the Nelles Manor Museum, we visited two graveyards, one cemetery, and one burial ground. We also stopped in at the Grimsby Museum and quickly visited the Grimsby Gingerbread houses. I’m sure I will write some more in the future about those visits. It was a very long day, but it was worth it.
If you ever get the chance to visit Grimsby, I highly recommend the Nelles Manor Museum. It’s a beautiful place to learn more about the history of the Niagara region and the War of 1812, and you might also have a paranormal experience. Don’t forget to also pay your respects to the Nelles family at Saint Andrews’s Churchyard.
Back in March of this year, I was scanning some news sites when I came across an interesting article titled This N.S. photographer is saving the province’s abandoned cemeteries. It spoke about an upcoming new book that I knew I just had to read! I find books on Canadian cemeteries are somewhat rare, so I made my way to Steve’s Etsy shop and bought myself a signed copy. I was thrilled when it came in the mail a week or so ago. So, for this month’s book review I wanted to talk about The Dead Die Twice: Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia by Steve Skafte.
The Dead Die Twice is a beautiful little book. It’s filled with gorgeous full-color photography and beautiful prose. The author, Steve Skafte, is a fellow Canadian taphophile, who has been exploring, photographing, and cleaning up old abandoned cemeteries in Nova Scotia. The book is broken up into 3 seasons; Autumn, Winter, and Summer. Each section showcases several abandoned cemeteries and burial grounds, each with an assortment of stunning and moody photography, paired with eloquent musings.
Here is a snippet of the synopsis from Goodreads: “Steve Skafte has lived his entire life in Annapolis County—or what he calls “The Dead Centre”—a place with more forgotten history than anywhere else in the country. In search of those forgotten stories, Skafte stumbled over a couple of overgrown cemeteries and began his quest for what was hiding in the hundreds of cemeteries and burial grounds that lie abandoned in the woods all over Nova Scotia. En route, he discovered twisting trails of indifference, forgetfulness, and desecration. Featuring 80 haunting color images and more than 20 deeply poetic tales of discovery, The Dead Die Twice: Abandoned Cemeteries of Nova Scotia chronicles Skafte’s year of exploring abandoned cemeteries, pushing through walls of scratching brush, cutting a path to the past, and unearthing buried stones and half-forgotten stories.”
Reading this book is a rich experience, starting from the soft satin finish of the cover, the saturated moody photographs, to the beautiful and sometimes whimsical writing. Steve is a very talented photographer, and it’s easy to get lost in the photographs. The accompanying stories also paint a picture, revealing heartbreak and sometimes intrigue.
While I read The Dead Die Twice, I found myself trying to slow down and take my time with each location. I didn’t want to rush it, even though I easily could have read the whole thing in one sitting. I wanted to explore each place as I would if I were there in person. The accompanying text added to that. I love that the coordinates to each cemetery have also been included in the book, with helpful tips on how to find them. If you’re like me, you’ll want to pin these spots on a map for future cemetery travels, or maybe just use Google Maps to take a closer look at the area.
I think any Canadian taphophile would be excited about this book. As I’ve mentioned before, Canadian cemetery books are a little harder to find. I believe this is also the first book I have read specifically about abandoned cemeteries, which some might find particularly interesting. This gorgeous book would be an excellent addition to any art and photography library as well.
For those interested in purchasing a copy, you can find it pretty much anywhere books are sold. But, if you would like the bonus of a signed copy, I would order it directly from the source, the author’s Etsy shop.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share yours in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
Recently, I was very excited to learn that my work had been selected for a group photography show. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen a few posts about it. Gallery 6500 had put out a request for submissions from local photographers, looking for contemporary black and white photographs.
They asked photographers to submit works that commented on social, political, economic, and environmental issues within our community. COVID-19 was a focal point of many submissions, including mine. There was a very nice Sudbury.com article written about the show, that highlights the theme as well as some of the other amazing photographers in the exhibit.
The 5 photographers exhibiting are: Caio Higa, Debbie Anzinger Mckay, Debb Trahan-Pero, Rita Vanderhooft, and myself.
I was thrilled when I got an email saying my cemetery photographs had been chosen. This is my first time exhibiting in a gallery, and I was a little uncertain as to how my photography would be received. I have been in one other group photography show, that was more of a market or craft show style. It’s been a great experience working with the Gallery and organizers to bring this show to life.
Last Sunday, April 30th, was the opening of the exhibit. It was a great event! There was a great turnout of friends and family of each featured photographer. It was so nice to see so many people come through to enjoy the photographs. Personally, seeing so many of my friends and family come out to support me made my heart full. I sometimes feel like my work goes unnoticed and I am creating content just for myself, so seeing so many people come out to support me and overhearing conversations surrounding my work was such a thrill!
Our Story in Black and White: Photography Exhibit, at Gallery 6500
I am very excited and honored to be exhibiting alongside such great photographers. There are a variety of subjects presented, each in the photographer’s own unique style. I am sure there is something there for everyone to connect with. There is some very powerful work on display.
If you were not able to attend the opening, there is still time to visit this great exhibit. Gallery 6500, at 66 Brady Street, in the Steel Workers Hall is open for viewing on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Our Story in Black and White is running until June 30th, and is dedicated to the memory of Don Kuyek. Don’t forget to sign the guest book and share your thoughts.
Did you know that May is Cemetery Appreciation Month?
I first learned about it in 2021, and I have been celebrating every year since. Cemeteries are often seen as taboo and they are not often the first place someone would think to visit, but I believe that cemeteries are for the living. They are filled with history, art, and architecture, and are wonderful places to go for a stroll, or bird watching, among other things. Yes, they are resting places for our loved ones and should be respected, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy their beauty as well. Cemeteries were the blueprints for today’s public parks, after all.
So how do you celebrate? In 2021, I created a mini bucket list of things to do during the month to foster an appreciation for cemeteries. It was a nice excuse to spend more time outside. I had a lot of fun completing everything on my list. Some activities on my list included visiting a cemetery I had not visited before, and re-visiting a favorite local cemetery.
This year I wanted to do something a little different. I’m a graphic designer by trade and wanted to create something that would bring my two loves together—design and cemeteries. I was also inspired by a cemetery scavenger hunt I took part in last October. I thought it would be really fun to do something similar with my group of friends.
So I thought why not design a Cemetery Bingo card?
It’s a great activity to do in a group or solo and lets you explore the world of cemetery symbols. I created my cards using my cemetery photographs as a reference. I illustrated 40 symbols that are commonly found on gravestones. I included the name beneath the symbol as well, to help identify common motifs you might find while walking in a cemetery.
To play, all you need to do is print out a copy, bring something to mark your cards, and go for a walk in your local cemetery. Match the symbols on the card to what you find on the gravestones. The first one to get a full line wins! You can make that two lines, or even a full card to make it a bit more challenging. I can see this being a fun tool to introduce your friends and family to cemeteries and help explore gravestone symbolism. It could also be a fun activity for kids.
Please remember to be respectful when visiting your local cemeteries. For a guide on cemetery etiquette, you can read a previous blog post I wrote about the rules I follow when visiting a cemetery here.
My friends and I will be going on a cemetery road trip very soon, and I think it will be a great opportunity to try out the bingo cards. We have a lot planned already, but I think we can fit in a round of Cemetery bingo. I’ll be sharing how our cemetery bingo plays out in my stories on Instagram on May 6th.
For best results, send this print-ready file to a local print shop, or you can print them at home on your home printer. Just be careful when you are trimming the pages. Then all you need are some markers, stickers, or bingo dabbers to mark off your finds and have fun! Make sure to tag me in your photos or stories on Instagram and Facebook.
While working on an upcoming project, I was going through my photo archive and found myself frequently stopping on the images of weeping willows. I have captured an interesting variety in the last few years. I love weeping willows, they have a very unique look. They are not common in my area, in the forests, or on graves.
So for today’s collection, I wanted to take a closer look at this cemetery symbol and share some of the different versions I have found and photographed during my cemetery walks.
As the name implies, weeping willows commonly symbolize grief and mourning. They are a very common Victorian-era cemetery symbol. Adopted from the Ancient Greeks, the weeping willow can represent immortality and life after death. Weeping willows are sometimes associated with the Underworld because, in Greek mythology, Orpheus brought with him a willow branch on his travels to the Underworld to save Eurydice from Hades.1 The symbolism of immortality stems from the fact that willow trees are very hardy, and can survive heavy damage.
A variety of the weeping willow motif you might find is a weeping willow standing beside a gravestone. I love the idea of a gravestone on a gravestone.
Another variation you might come across is of a weeping willow and urn. The urn represents death itself, and the willow again symbolizes grief.2 This motif was a popular gravestone symbol of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. You might also see weeping willows paired with a lamb or a cross.3 I have yet to come across these variations.
I noticed that the majority of the ones I found were in Southern Ontario. As I explore more Ontario cemeteries this summer, I hope I will come across a few more to photograph. I would love to find some more variations on the symbol. If you have any suggestions for where I might look, I would love to hear about them in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
Understanding Cemetery Symbols: A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards by Tui Snider
I feel like a broken record lately, always talking about the snow. But it’s finally melting! We have been having some consistent warm weather so the snow has been disappearing quickly. I have been getting ready for the warmer weather by planning and mapping some upcoming cemetery walks. It’s exciting that the weather is finally warming up. I have some great future road trips planned and am looking forward to some fun cemetery adventures. All this planning has got me thinking about some of last year’s trips.
My mother and I did some exploring of St. Jospeh’s Island last year, home to Fort St. Joseph National Historic Site and bird sanctuary. We spent the night at a quaint little motel on the island and explored everything the island had to offer. I wrote a little about our adventure and finding a pet cemetery, but there are many more stories to tell from that trip.
So today, I wanted to share another experience from that cemetery road trip and talk about our visit to Fort St. Joseph, and the Historic Fort St. Joseph Cemetery.
I first learned about Fort St. Joseph when I stumbled onto a trail map while going down an internet rabbit hole. The cemetery trail piqued my interest and I redirected my Google search to learn more. Fort St. Joseph is a National Historic Site of Canada that features the ruins of an archaeological site and is filled with history about the War of 1812. “History that saw a powerful alliance struck between the British and the First Nations People of the western Great Lakes region.”1
The historic site has an interactive visitor center with a walk-through exhibit as well as an educational short film that tells you more about the history and discovery of the site. There is also a trail system that takes you through and around the ruins and includes the Cemetery Trail, Rains Point Trail, and the Lapointe Point Trail. Visiting cemeteries and hiking are two of my favorite things and often go hand in hand. I thought they would be a perfect destination for a summer road trip. My mother was on board right away when I asked her if she wanted to come. She is an avid bird watcher and was excited to visit the bird sanctuary. More than 200 species have been spotted in the area.1
After taking our time exploring the interactive exhibits and watching the film my mother and I headed outside to explore the ruins. Fort St. Joseph was once the most westerly fort in Upper Canada.1 All that is left today are the foundations, ruins, and surviving artifacts. It was very windy the day we went to explore the ruins, and rain was on the way. We took a chance and tried to beat the rain by going as soon as the site opened. We toured the ruins, reading the plaques and taking in the history laid out before us. I found it a little hard to imagine these small foundations housing a community, but the helpful diagrams and maps of the area helped visualize what the layout of the fort would have looked like in its time. Because we got there so early we had the place to ourselves and took our time exploring. Even with the strong winds, we spent some time at the shoreline, examining the horizon. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any birds or wildlife while we were there. I think we can blame the stormy weather on that.
As we were finishing up at the ruins, the rain started to come down and visitors started to trickle in. When the rain started to pour down harder we took shelter in the visitor center and gift shop and tried to wait out the storm. They have a cozy little gift shop filled with most of the typical things you would expect from a historic site; postcards, magnets, pins, sweatshirts. One of the more interesting items they had was chocolate, more specifically heritage chocolate. Using a recipe and ingredients authentic to the colonial era, you can try a chocolatey treat that was commonly consumed at the time. They had chocolate sticks and hot chocolate mix at the time of our visit, and I regret not picking up the hot chocolate mix along with the couple of chocolate sticks I did purchase.
After the rain finally eased up, we made our way to the car. There was one more stop to make. The Cemetery Trail turns off the main road to and from the historic site. A small green sign with a hiking symbol and the word “Cemetery” mark the turnoff. My mother was a bit tired at that point and didn’t want to walk the trail. I didn’t have any idea where the cemetery was on this trail loop so I wasn’t sure how far I would need to walk to find it. She decided to stay in the car and wait.
At the trailhead, there is a trail map, along with a description of the cemetery. It reads “The cemetery at Fort St. Joseph contains graves established between 1796 and 1812. While there were only 10 recorded deaths during the occupancy of the fort, such as those of Jessie Crawford’s twins who died in 1807 shortly after birth, there are probably others who rest here eternally, their identities unknown. Those that died at Fort St. Joseph usually suffered from illness or their deaths were as a result of tragic events or accidents like that of Private Antoine Gazzinel who was killed May 9, 1803 when a loaded musket went off as he was placing it into a bateau. A cairn was erected in 1954 to recognize the final resting place of these individuals and stands today as a reminder of the community that once existed at Fort St. Joseph.”
The Cemetery is located right at the beginning of the trail, with a clearing opening up on the right side of the trail. The rain held out for me as I examined the large cairn and took photographs. The cairn reads, in English and French, ”This cairn marks the site of Fort St. Joseph cemetery in which are the graves of soldiers and fur traders who died here between the years 1796 and 1812.” There are about a dozen white crosses here, with no names. One grave looks to also be marked with stones surrounding it. It’s a peaceful spot, surrounded by the lush green forest, but it is also a place of sorrow. I was very sad to see the blank white crosses, marking lives that are now unknown, and who knows how many more lie there unmarked.
My mother and I really enjoyed our time visiting Fort. St. Joseph, even though the weather wasn’t ideal. Exploring the historic ruins and cemetery was an interesting look at the past, even when at times it was a somber one. It was my first time exploring a ruin site, and I look forward to the chance to visit more.
Have you visited Fort St. Joseph? Will you be adding it to your travel plans? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Today on the blog I wanted to share another cemetery recipe with you. All the recipes I have made so far have been sweet treats, and today’s recipe is no different. It’s the Easter long weekend, so I thought today’s recipe would be a perfect fit – A Good Carrot Cake.
This recipe is a little different than the previous ones I have made. It can be found on a white tablet gravestone for Christine W Hammill in Ferndale, California. Her stone sits beside the stone for her husband Richard. The difference is that Christine and Richard are still living.
They seem like pretty fun folks as well, based on their gravestones! Not only can this delicious recipe be found on the back side of Christine’s gravestone, they both also have some funny epitaphs on their headstones.
The white granite tablet gravestones read:
“Oops, / I should / have listened / to my wife.”
Richards S. Hammill
June 3, 19__ –
“Yeah. / Look where / we ended up.”
Christine W. Hammill
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find more information about the Hammills and where their future resting place is, but I do know that Christine makes an excellent carrot cake.
Here is the recipe:
A Good Carrot Cake
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1 1/2 cups oil
1 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrots
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 (8 1/2 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
2/3 cup chopped nuts
Sift together flour, baking powder, soda salt, and cinnamon. Beat eggs and add sugar. Let stand 10 mins. Mix in oil, pineapple, carrots, nuts, flour mixture. Turn into 3 greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350’ for 35 – 40 min. Cool in pans for 10 min, remove to wire racks, and cool well.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
Mix butter, cream cheese, vanilla then add sugar. First between layers, top and sides.
This is one of the more thorough sets of baking instructions I have come across on a gravestone. It didn’t need any guesswork at all. The recipe is very easy to follow and create. I started with the prep work first; chopping, grating, and measuring out ingredients to make the mixing process a bit smoother.
I did start off thinking I would only need two cake pans, but I did need to make a third layer. I only filled the cake pans about halfway with batter because I had a feeling they would rise as they baked. They did rise as I suspected so that left batter for a third layer. I only have 2 cake pans though. I put the first two pans in the oven for 35 minutes and used the toothpick trick to test if they were done.
If you don’t know this trick, you take a toothpick and stab it into the middle of the cake, touching the bottom of the pan. If it comes out clean when you pull it out, it means the cake is done. If there is batter on the toothpick when you pull it out, it means the center is not cooked all the way through and should go back in for a few more minutes.
After the first two layers were done, I let them cool for ten minutes then removed them from the pan and placed them on a wire rack to continue cooling. Then I put the third layer into the oven to bake. This did make the baking process a bit longer, but it wouldn’t be an issue if you have extra cake pans.
I used the time while the last layer was baking, to make the cream cheese frosting. I have to say, it’s the best frosting I have ever made. Sifting the powdered sugar made all the difference in creating a smooth and creamy frosting. I ended up with some extra frosting as I was unsure how much to frost in between the layers. I was afraid to run out of frosting for the top and the sides. I didn’t have to worry though as I had quite a bit left over. I put the leftover frosting in a container and put it in the fridge to use as a cookie dip. I couldn’t let that deliciousness go to waste.
I had some chopped walnuts left over and decided to sprinkle them on the outer edge of the cake as decoration and to use them up. I think it was a nice added touch, but you can decorate it however you like. The white frosting is a lovely base for frosting accents, sprinkles, or any other type of decoration you may want to add to make your cake more festive.
I love a good carrot cake with a good cream cheese frosting, and this might just be the best one yet. I was curious how the final product would taste with the addition of pineapple. I had never seen that in a carrot cake recipe before. The cake is so moist and sweet, I think because of the pineapple. It’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. I shared this cake with my mother and fiancé, and they both agreed, it was delicious. I think this cake would make a lovely finish to an Easter meal, or any meal for that matter. It’s a big cake, so it’s perfect for sharing with loved ones.
I wish I knew more about Christine and this recipe. I am going to assume that it is a Hammill family favorite. At any rate, I want to say thank you to Christine, for sharing this sweet treat with the world!
Have you tried this recipe before? Do you have a favorite carrot cake recipe? I would love to read about it in the comments.
I recently had an author reach out to me, asking if I would be interested in reviewing her book Cemetery Reflections and if it would be a good fit. She described her book as a pairing of photographs with epitaphs, poetry, and prose; giving a slightly different slant to a typical walk through a cemetery. I thought it would be a perfect fit! So for this month’s cemetery book review, I wanted to share my thoughts about Cemetery Reflections by Jane Hopkins.
Cemetery Reflections looks at the beauty and emotion that accompanies cemetery visits and is meant to be read in bits and pieces, as a cemetery walk would be. This new book was published in the fall of 2022, by Headstone Press. This is Jane’s first cemetery photography book, but she is no stranger to photography. Her fine art photography has been exhibited and sold since 2002, at many venues including the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York, and the Dyer Arts Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology.1
I was already familiar with Jane’s work, having seen her beautiful photographs on various cemetery social media accounts that I follow. I was very excited when she reached out and asked me to review her book. She was also very gracious and provided me with a beautiful paperback copy to read.
Here is the book synopsis from Goodreads: “Stroll through three centuries of American cemeteries through photographic images, historic poetry, and memorable prose. The reader will find stunning photos in both black-and-white and color. Paired with the images are poignant passages drawn from timeless literature and sensitive recollections of family losses. The cemetery emerges as a place of solace, where final and loving farewells may rest safely among the tombstones.
This book offers a compassionate context that deepens awareness of the experience of death. Devotees of art, history, poetry, and philosophy will find Cemetery Reflections a mesmerizing journey. Grief is intense and lonely, dying can be frightening and sometimes painful beyond expectation, and the “great beyond” remains a mystery. The pandemic and recent violence in the US have brought issues of death to the forefront. People are searching for ways to better understand and cope with challenges that once seemed far distant. Cemetery Reflections can provide a valuable assist in this process.”2
This is a beautiful, high-quality softcover photography book. It’s filled with full-color and black-and-white photographs alongside beautiful poetry, epitaphs, and musings. It is very different than the books I have been reading lately. I loved that it showcases American cemeteries alongside Canadian ones. I also love the variety of the photography, from detailed shots of grave goods to lovely cemetery landscapes, and everything in between.
Cemetery Reflections feels like a contemplative walk through a cemetery. I found each epitaph, poem, and beautiful photograph encouraged self-reflection and exploration of my own understanding of grief and remembrance. At times it is a very emotional read.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in fine art photography, poetry, and cemetery walks. Because of the self-reflective nature of this book, I would also recommend it to those who may be grieving a loss, as well as those who might find cemeteries and death uncomfortable. They might find its heartfelt and thoughtful messages to be healing.
Have you read Cemetery Reflections? Do you agree with my review? Or will you be adding it to your reading list? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading!
I am always on the hunt for cemetery-related book recommendations. Please feel free to share yours in the comments. If you are an author and have a cemetery-related book you would like me to review, please reach out at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you.
The winter weather seems to be dragging on this year. We got a lot of snow this winter in Northern Ontario, which I think is adding to this feeling. It feels like it will never all melt. I am trying to be optimistic, and am hoping to be hiking and visiting cemeteries soon. For the last couple of weeks, I have been focused on planning cemetery road trips, near and far. I am ready to get outside, it’s supposedly Spring after all!
The official first day of Spring was March 20th, so I wanted to share something a bit more colorful to help ring in the Spring season. Flower arrangements are often found on gravestones, in plastic, or made of fresh blooms. You might also find bright and vibrant cemetery flowers planted on graves or cemetery grounds. Each variety of flower holds a special meaning, that also varies by color. So for today’s collection, I wanted to share some cemetery flowers I have photographed over the years and take a look at what they might symbolize.
These delicate light blue hydrangeas symbolize regret, apology, and forgiveness.1 Seeing them at a graveside or planted on a grave intensifies that meaning for me.
Daylilies bloom during the day and close up at night. Orange or yellow daylilies commonly symbolize love and devotion, as well as joy, beauty, and courage. A dark orange, or redder daylily like the one pictured, may symbolize a deep passion.2
Lilac shrubs are one of the earliest plants to bloom in the Spring, and because of this, are thought to symbolize a fresh start and renewal.3 Pink lilacs commonly symbolize first love.4 I was able to capture this yellow swallowtail visiting this lilac bush. Yellow swallowtail butterflies represent grace and the free nature of the soul.5 Fitting since this photo was taken in a cemetery.
Black-eyed Susans are a common sight here in Northern Ontario. They are also sometimes called brown-eyed Susans because of their dark brown-to-black centers. Black-eyed Susans are thought to symbolize resilience and endurance as well as justice and truth.6
Begonias have a lot of symbolism tied to them, but are commonly seen as a symbol of uniqueness, gratitude, and harmony, but can also be a symbol of caution. Yellow begonias are thought to be a representation of hope, kindness, or friendship.7
I am still working on learning to identify different types of plants, in bloom and on gravestones. I find it fascinating that there is a meaning for practically everything! Looking at all these colorful blooms has got me excited to be visiting cemeteries and enjoying the sunshine soon.
I hope wherever you are, you will be enjoying the sunshine soon as well if you’re not already. Happy Spring!