Family Photographs… and their stories: Berrian Clark Bryan

Family Photographs… and their stories

Berrian Clark Bryan

I’ve always loved the older family photographs, and as many times as I leaf through my albums, I always ask myself “what’s your story?” Every photo has one – and it’s my mission to tell them – one by one. After beginning my weekly series on Family Heirlooms, I thought… why not tell the stories on the family photographs.

bryan bc civil war 1909 (2)

Photo of Berrian Clark Bryan (No. 15) in 1909 with Confederate Soldiers in front of Lumpkin Co. Courthouse

“The Old Soldiers”

Photo and story published in The Dahlonega Nugget: Nov. 15, 1909

The meeting of the old Confederate Soldiers here last Monday was another happy day for them. At 10 o’clock, after having their pictures taken by Mr. Potter, they marched to the North Georgia College, escorted by the college cadets. Heard the program given in the last weeks Nugget was carried out interestingly. After which they marched back to the courthouse headed by Wm. Etres, who beat the same drum that he called them together with when the volunteers of the 52nd formed on the public square and marched off to the front to battle for their country in the dark days of ’62, but few of whom are left to tell the tale of the hardships they encountered, and judging from the condition of those old soldiers here on Monday, some of them will hear the sound of this old drum at their gatherings but a few more times, if ever.

The drum, beat by Wm. Etres, was made from part of a black gum tree before the war by Huram Waldrop who lived in White County. The program closed by twenty-five of the veterans dining at a well-filled table prepared for them in the courthouse by the kind ladies, then all dispersed and went to their homes feeling proud that they had been spared to meet one more time.

Berrian Clark and Berilla (Free) Bryan



Berrian Clark Bryan was my 3rd great grandfather, serving with the Blue Ridge Rangers during the war. He was father to 15 children, and fought alongside three of his sons in the Civil War… Calloway (Marion Calvin Calloway Bryan), Josiah and Ransom. He lived to a few short months of his 100th birthday in 1923… still residing in his cabin by Cane Creek in Lumpkin County, Georgia.

In every photo Berrian was in since the 1909 Civil War Veterans photo, he’s worn the Southern Cross medal… shown in this photo; we have assumed they were awarded to the veterans in 1909. I am unsure as to what the other medals are he also wore, but it was told he was very proud of his medals and enjoyed being photographed with them.

If you’d like to see more Family Photographs, click HERE!


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Photographs… and their stories: The Glass Bottom Boat

Family Photographs… and their stories

I’ve always loved the older family photographs, and as many times as I leaf through my albums, I always ask myself “what’s your story?” Every photo has one – and it’s my mission to tell them – one by one. After beginning my weekly series on Family Heirlooms, I thought… why not tell the stories on the family photographs.

The Glass Bottom Boat


Me with my father and mother on vacation; I look to be about five years old here. I’m the little girl standing with dark short hair and bangs on the right, daddy has a plaid shirt, and I can see his tatoo. Mama is next to him with dark hair… looking unhappy!

I remember being told that on one of our trips to Florida when I was about five years old, we stopped at a diner for lunch. I had my favorite, chicken noodle soup, and accidently spilt it on me. The waitress quickly buttered me up… but we know today that we no longer use butter for a burn… we only use cold water as actually the butter holds the heat in. I never had a scar, so I’m assuming it wasn’t a scalding burn. Maybe it was on this trip when visiting Silver Springs! I know we also went to Miami one year, so it could possibly have been a stop on the way down.

I began this post three years ago… so what happened? I visually remembered the photo in my photo album, but yet when I went to retrieve it… it was nowhere to be found… until today! While I wasn’t actually looking for it today, I had taken all my genealogy file books out of my closet to visually look through… even found quite a few interesting items. But it was in the last book, when I turned a page and…. there was my missing photo of the Glass Bottom Boat! YooHoo!!!

The “glass bottom boats” are in the Silver Springs State Park in Ocala, Florida and have been a natural landmark since the 1870’s. It is featured as one of the largest artesian springs in the world.

When I asked my mother what she remembered of the photo… she had no memories other than we had gone. So I guess I may have to plan a trip to see for myself what I might have seen on that day. A visit to their website mentions manatees, possibly alligators, many tropical birds, waterlife, and over 300 Rhesus Macaques monkeys running wild through the area; brought there in the 1930’s. During my search on wildlife, I read that they may be rounding up the monkeys soon, which are originally native to Asia… it’s being said they carry a dangerous herpes virus.

If you’d like to see more Family Photographs, click HERE!


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 2 (Jan. 8-14) Challenge

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 2 (Jan. 8-14) Challenge

“first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Week 2 (Jan. 8-14) Challenge

One of my biggest brickwall “challenges” has been my 4th great grandfather… plain John Bryan and wife Nancy (unk surname). I’ve found a John Bryan, with wife Nancy, in Franklin Co., Georgia as early as 1788 and even later still listed there along with sons James (my line) and Tarrance Bryan. My Bryan line descended into Georgia from somewhere, but where? Several working on the John Bryan line feel he’s from Rowan Co., N.C…. and it’s very logical as most Georgians worked their way down from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and finally into the Carolina’s and further on into Georgia as land opened up… and I’m hoping his father’s name isn’t John! His son James (born 1791) named his first son Marion Callaway Bryan… I’ve always hoped to find a marriage license with Nancy’s maiden name as possibly Callaway or it could be John’s mother’s maiden name. I’ve searched several Bryan lines… always hoping… but finding nothing; as new records are digitized and released online… it gives me hope. I know he didn’t hatch from an egg… or did he?


My next “challenge” is on my mother’s maiden name of McKinley… Robert (Circa 1710-1775) and William McKinley (1743-1815) have been traced back to Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., N.C., and buried at Steele Creek Church… but that’s the end! I’m sure they traveled there with many others, but as of yet…. no one has found those records! There have been a few paid researchers on my McKinley lines… but they bombed out! I’ve always hoped that this would be the line in proving my link across the ocean to Scotland or Ireland… I’m still hoping! This line, like my Bryan family also descended into Georgia.


Steele Creek Church Cemetery, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, N.C.



One of the biggest “challenges” in family research is Time! Even though I’m retired now, I’ve found that I can’t or don’t want to sit now and research 24-7. Sometimes you might want to, but life is short and I can’t let my life pass me by being obsessed with researching the dead! I remember all the vacations to visit my mother in Georgia… and dragging my children through cemeteries while there. They used to laugh and tell their friends that they were going on vacation to walk through cemeteries. Now they laugh and tell me they actually didn’t mind it… too bad I didn’t know that then, I would have dragged them to even more! But I often think of all the other things we could have done!


Ask any genealogist about the “challenge” involved in organizing their research… how to keep it organized is a feat in itself. You want to, but you’re busy… and then before you know it, it’s out of control… and now you’re overwhelmed! I’ve often thought about how I’d like to organized it… and started projects, but I’ve never achieved a complete organization… and I’m still left with my paper chase!


My many binders of photos containing files associated with families

What I worry about in not having it completely organized is… what will my family do with it when I’m gone? We all hear the horror stories of it being boxed and pushed to the back of the garage, or shuffled up to spend it’s last days in a hot and humid attic… I shudder! I think I need to write a letter, to those concerned… as to what they should do with it. Hopefully one of the granddaughters will take up the “challenge” of family history one day… the ball has to be passed to someone. Will they be excited to dig through the boxes or overwhelmed at all I’ve left? I think the next real challenge is to begin going through my files now and making definite saves and possible not needed anymore files! That will be my biggest “challenge”… if I so choose to take it! I should be able to toss all the printed group sheets by saving file booklets with all that info included on the computer. Even saving digital files, has its drawbacks… you need backups for backups to ensure it’s not lost… its just a vicious circle of saving it one way or another! Sometimes I think… Why did I ever start?


I’ve also “challenged” myself with the clothes in my closet… everytime I open the doors, I tell myself… You must do something with this mess! I’ve now made a pledge to myself that I will purge one thing everytime I open those doors… it’s helping! Maybe one day hubby will be able to have his clothes back in our closet. Between all mine, that I never seem to wear, and the books on the top shelf… I have slowly pushed him out! Once I shove something into the closet, it somehow seems to fall down the rabbit hole of lost forever, until I dig… deep. I’m always amazed at what I find when I manage to clean out the deep abyss bottom of the closet… things I’ve long forgotten seem to surface… and now can no longer even use… toys that are now outgrown, and clothes that are many years late too to wear! It’s always like going down memory lane when I take that plunge!

What’s hiding in your closet?


Stay tuned for Week 3: Unusual Name

week 1

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved






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2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

I “first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!

Week 1 (Jan. 1-7) First

“First” has many meanings… from the first day you began researching… your first ancestor found… first ancestor photos discovered… even to your first grandchild, in the continuing of your family… They are the ones who will have to carry the torch on!

I’ve decided to write on a few of my favorite and remembered “firsts”… I’m sure there are many, but these have stood out to me!


These “first” written names from my mother gave me my start!

My “first” experience in beginning my family research came from just a couple pieces of paper my mother gave me many, many years ago…  names of family members she had remembered. I’m sure when she handed it to me, I didn’t give it much thought… but I did have thought to file it away for when that day came… and it did come many years later after my children were older and I had free afternoons.

At the time I became more interested was when I bought my son his “first” computer. We had just had eye and hands contact on one at my uncle’s house… and while I couldn’t, at that time, wrap my head around how I could access all the information I was told that was out there… I was intrigued, and wanted one… probably more than my son did at the moment. It was either AOL or Prodigy who everyone first used… remember all the AOL disks that were everywhere for the taking; I’m sure there’s still probably one lurking somewhere in my house! And I bet you still remember that sound of the phone dialing you onto their site… and redialing because it was busy. Then after you finally were off offline after hours of being on-line… calls rang through with complains that they couldn’t get through as you had the line tied up. That was before we all had cell phones… when you were on the phone, it couldn’t be used for anything else… and most times you didn’t care!

I never liked the AOL setup, so we ventured out more with Prodigy and I became hooked on many of those Prodigy genealogy groups… making many of my “first” contacts on family surnames. Several of those contacts moved on with me off Prodigy and now we keep up through email in sharing new discoveries today. Prodigy gave me my “first” McKinley contact of a family cousin in Georgia who shared all she had with me… and I was so overwhelmed beyond belief! We even enjoyed a “first” meeting on one of my trips home to Georgia to visit mom.


genealogy room

Where you start…. a local library!

I’ll never forget the day I joined a genealogy group at a library near me. I’m not one for joining groups, but I had questions on family research and as there was no one else I knew who researched genealogy… I went…. and it was free!

I gathered what little I had along with my notebook and pen, and off I went to the library for their next meeting… walking in very nervous on that first day. Immediately I could tell that most there already knew each other… I was suddenly the new girl in the class… and also the youngest. They seemed to be mostly retired seniors, with lots of time on their hands… and quickly referred to me as the baby of their group, but welcomed me and seemed quite happy to have a younger researcher interested in genealogy. Elsie, who ran the group was very encouraging as she explained things in more detail to me and even invited me to her home a few afternoons to fully explain things like Census records and what all could be gleaned from them. Who knew I could view Census records, land deeds or wills… but I was learning about many “firsts.”  I finally had people I could ask questions to! It was there that I “first” received blank copies of family group sheets where I could log my family information on. Now I knew what I could do with those written names that my mother had given me, and before I knew it, I had many family group sheets in the process of being filled out… my “first” paperchase was building!

group sheets from lds

The very “firsts” of printable surname sheets from the LDS Library

It was that genealogy group which definitely gave me my “first” start into family history research… sad that I don’t see any library groups like that anymore… there must be people today that want to begin searching, but don’t know where to start… and even though there is information online, sometimes there is nothing better than having a live person in front of you!


cambino ship clip

Giuseppe Gambino arriving on the S.S. Moltke from Naples

Another very excitable “first” moment was the day I found my husband’s Italian grandfather who had arrived in America at Ellis Island. I had first begun researching hubby’s family as I never thought I could research mine in Georgia, while living in Connecticut… I later learned, that wasn’t the case!

There were no Ellis Island records online when I “first” began, so it was off to the Latter Day Saints (LDS) local library. I was so overwhelmed on my “first” visit… having no clue on what I needed, but I did know the “first” thing I wanted to find… my husband’s grandfather on a ship manifest, in arriving at Ellis Island. After given a tour of what was at the library, and what I could order, I ordered ship records for the date I had of him arriving… and then I waited for my reel to come.

It finally arrived…

I quickly learned how to load the reel on the fiche machines and began scrolling page by page… and I thought this was going to be easy! Even though I knew the date he arrived (May 14, 1913)… reading all those Italian names scribbled there wasn’t always the easiest to decipher, but finally on Line 5… a name caught my eye… Giuseppe Gambino. I matched again the date to the page… hoping it must be him! I so wanted to yell out and do the happy dance on that “first” find… but all I could do was print the page and be happy. That was the “first” of many more findings of hubby’s ancestors arriving at Ellis Island… but that came much later when Ellis Island opened up their website online with indexes… so much easier… but I’ll never forget my real “first” find, and how exciting it was!


Extending my family with grown and married children gave me my “first” grandchild in 2010… it was then time to update the family records with Ella Maria Insalaco. While I wasn’t the one in labor, I was very scared…. now I was being moved into another generation… a generation known as a grandmother… ouch! What would I be called, it wasn’t going to be grandma! After much thought, I heard the name of GiGi used by someone… and that quickly stuck! Even my mother has an unusual grandmother name… she goes by Angel; which had been her CB handle name. My children wouldn’t think to call her anything but Angel.. and at age 88 today she’s still called Angel by many who know her.

Even though my granddaughter has an Italian surname, and parents of more Italian DNA than Irish, she was born on St. Patrick’s Day. I immediately told my son that she was born on that day to remind him that she has more Irish ancestry, and definitely looks more like an Irish lass… but also has twin sisters who look more Italian. Funny how the DNA goes in different directions… one of these days we will test her DNA and see what the cards say!

week 1

Stay tuned for Week 2: Challenge

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Looking Back at 2018

Family Stories

Looking Back at 2018

Like everyone else… where did the past 365 days go… but it didn’t escape me without my writing 76 posts! And like last year, I’ll begin the new year of 2019 with another look back at my favorites… but truly… they are all my favorites!

If you’ve followed me last year, or just happened to stumble across a post or two… I Thank You for stopping to read and hope you’ve come back for more of my ramblings. While my original blog was only set up to cover my first writings… 2014: 52 weeks of ancestor stories... I continued to add more family stories along with family recipes, road trips, and even  weathervanes... and now a yearly A to Z in April… 30 days of continuous blogging on one topic.

One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to finally tackle knitting socks… I had procrastinated way too long! So right after the new year, I began… and after much frustration, I finished my first pair and have gone on to knit a few more. While the first pair totally frazzled me, I have no more frustrations now and have a new pair on my needles at the moment.


My very first pair… I kinda like the unmatched look… and there’s never a Nancy Drew book too far away.

2018 was a life changing year for me… my son and his family relocated from being 8 miles away, to now almost 1500 miles away in sunny Florida. While I’m happy for his new job change, but jealous of his warm surroundings… as I’m still in cold, soon to be snowy Connecticut! Unfortunately I also lost three granddaughters on that move… which has changed many holiday traditions for us now, but we were able to spend Thanksgiving in Florida this year, and even celebrated Christmas before leaving. Christmas dinner eaten outside in balmy 80 degree weather was so strange, but felt so good!

us and girls

Hubby and I with our 3 Florida granddaughters and granddog Mollie!

Let me backtrack now to earlier 2018 to my April… A to Z with Nancy Drew.… an idea which came to me way before the year even began… and somewhat consumed me with research. I spent hours and hours on research and writing and trying to cram all I knew into 30 days of daily writing! I had began to connect back with my old friend of Nancy Drew in early 2017… falling in love with her all over again by re-reading the books I once read as a young girl. April is always such a busy month for me, as we are usually traveling to Georgia and now also to Florida this year… a place I hadn’t been in more years than I’d like to admit to… a place I last visited with my parents.

Me as Nancy Drew 1

One of the most exciting place I visited this year was “Books on Bay” in Savannah, Georgia. Now why would that be exciting to me… because it’s filled with all classic children books… and especially known for its vast collection of Nancy Drew books. I had never been to Savannah before…. and it was so much fun driving around the historic district as we navigated to the bookstore. I was like a kid in a candy store when I walked in… and it can never be taken in on one trip… definitely on my to-do-again list! If you’re ever in Savannah… whether a reader or not… it’s worth a walk through… and I just bet you walk out with a new read of one of your old favorites!

I’ve blogged several stories on Nancy Drew last year… but one of my favorites was “The Case of the Traveling Nancy Drew Books“… if you lost your books as a young girl, you just might find your name listed here! I’m still looking for my books… so hope you’ll keep an eye out for me in your travels!

Our drive to Florida was exciting… new places to see… and I was like a kid in a candy store on the road… reading all the billboards of “live alligators”… “free orange juice samples”… “pecans and fudge”… “fresh bagged oranges and grapefruits”… and while I wanted to stop at them all… hubby often ignored my pleading! We did make one stop… I just had to buy souvenirs of alligators, seashells and a bag of oranges… which smelled awesome and tasted delicious squeezed later at home… and finally I was able to see that live alligator… even if it was a baby alligator!

Arriving at my son’s new home in Florida was exciting… amidst my happy crying and hugging the granddaughters. I’ve fallen in love with all the gabled roofs, palm trees, and especially the birds that roam freely through their neighborhood like the Sandhill Cranes and Ibis, which are local birds to the area.

Florida has changed so much since I’ve last been there… as a young girl we mostly visited Tallahassee, Panama City, and a place I remember, called Alligator Point. Until I researched that name, I thought it was just a made up name, but it’s really a town. It’s a small peninsula community which gained its name from an aerial view, the peninsula is shaped like an alligator… hence its name! What I remember best about that place was all the awesome shells on the beach… they were the prettiest… and especially loaded with silver dollars!

Our second trip to Florida yield hubby his first sighting of a real alligator… and totally unexpected. There is a small lake behind their house, with a golf course on the other side… actually it seemed everywhere we went, there was a golf course! In taking a walk back their with the dog, as he neared the lake, he heard a big splash… and soon after… what surfaced but an alligator! Of course he had to show me, amidst my fears of not being able to outrun an alligator or climb a palm tree. Sure enough, I walked down and heard a big splash so loud, that even the golfers across the lake looked over to see what it was. My son said he hasn’t seen him anymore so hopefully the golf course, who maintains the lake, took him away.


Hubby’s first gator sighting!

Retirement is still going good for me, and June of last year marked my first retirement year of… just doing whatever I want! Well isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in retirement? Sometimes I think… “how did I ever go to work every day… more like why did I even want tot?” Well, mainly to pay the bills!

We enjoyed several trips this year, from visiting Vermont and New Hampshire during sugaring season, to Maine’s potato harvesting… and you can never see all those potato fields without bringing home a Big bag of potatoes; a lot bigger, and heavier than the syrup!

The sugaring houses are often spotted by just following the big puffs of smoke rising out of the sugaring barns… definitely a giveaway sign… then you walk in and the maple syrup smell hits you! We brought back several bottles of fresh syrup, and as of this writing… I’m on my last bottle; time to be heading back soon! If you’re ever up that way, don’t forget to also buy the freshly cooked doughnuts found at many of the sugaring sites… they are the best! We also found many interesting antique stores along the way… along with new weathervanes to blog on.

From Vermont trip, I bought awesome wool at a yarn store I discovered in Putney, and before we left I decided exactly what I’d be using it for… I was going to knit Thrum Mittens! I know you’re shaking your head… so head on over to the link for a look at! I know I was puzzled when I first discovered them.

Mrs. Butterworth turns into a Witch Canva pic

Being the Craft Junkie I am… and usually coming up with new projects… but recently I brought out an oldie for display and blogged on how I turned Mrs. Buttersworth into a witch!  She is from one of my much earlier craft days!

The closer to Christmas took me into my usual Christmas ornament mode… or I should say frenzy… in trying to complete projects. Between my usual Christmas felt ornaments I yearly make and now also knitting… I thought I’d never finish, but I did. This year I tackled a knitted sweater ornament… knitting one for everyone, well almost. My felt ornaments for the granddaughters this year were Grinch houses and a VW bus and camper for the parents… even complete with a Christmas tree on top!


The VW bus and camper… complete with Christmas tree… who wouldn’t want to go camping in this?


My last Christmas ornament this year – The Christmas Sweater!

One of my favorite family stories I blogged this year, was on a visit… or return to the family McKinley farm… and the awesome gift I received while there… which so touched my heart! I’ve held onto this post for over a year… but finally this Christmas the story came together.


Grandmama McKinley’s cupboard doors… which hold so many fond memories!

Thank you joining me on my remembering 2018… and in looking back it was quite a year… so now I’m off to begin new memories for 2019 and I look forward to seeing you there and reading your memories.

If I make one New Years resolution this year, besides blogging more… I hope to finally begin my overdue road-trip photo album… which I’ve wanted to begin for years. Why have I procrastinated… too many photos… but lots of memories lost if I never complete it!

Happy New Year!

Let’s make new memories… and write more stories!


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved









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Craft Junkie: Flip Top Mittens

Craft Junkie


“Flip Top Mittens”

My last knitting project of 2018 was a request from granddaughter McKinley… and when a granddaughter asks for a specific item… You make it! It seems a friend in school has a pair and she wanted one like her friend,,, and I felt honored that she asked me!

Immediately I began searching for a pattern, and after comparing a few, I ended up on Ravelry and bought one… then off to my local yarn store. They suggested the brand Jelly Beanz, which looked very pretty in the pinks and purples and something the girls would like; one pair turned into two as you can’t make for one granddaughter and not the other. After knitting with this yarn, I quickly found find it not to my liking and wouldn’t recommend it… but somehow I managed to muddle my way through. It was a softer yarn, and maybe that was one of the problems besides the many strands of colors winding through which often seemed to stretch out of shape.


McKinley’s mittens!

The pattern was well written, but very detailed… sometimes too detailed. I’ve found that I don’t work well with patterns that aren’t specifically… only written line by line. This pattern seemed to require you to really read through each section before beginning and that seemed to be my problem as I’d begin what they said to do… to eventually learn I shouldn’t have done all the rows in order… oh well… live and learn!

My next dilemma was that the pattern was written for an adult, so I had to change needle sizes… which caused me to rip out and begin over a few times. Finally I settled on needles and had no problem completely the mitten… although I’m not a fan of working the thumb area. Just as I thought I was out of the woods, I came to the section of adding the flip top on the mitten… procrastination set in! I read and reread the how to’s… and immediately realized I’d already missed a step… I didn’t add a lifeline where I was to pick up stitches to make the flip hat. I backtracked and added the lifeline and added a note on the pattern for the next mitten… which definitely made it easier in adding a straight line!


Grace’s mittens!

While I”m not a newbie to knitting, it took me several starts and rips to finally get my two sets of mittens made. If they had been for me, I might have done what my mother always says, “just throw it in the trash and walk on.” But that’s not me… I can be a dog with a bone… never giving up!

My biggest obstacles besides the gage was the yarn splitting and those stretchy strands making bigger stitches, which sometimes caused me to fangle the stitch somehow in tightening it up. It was actually the thumb area which had me almost having a “hissy” fit… but I kept taking deep breaths… actually really deep breaths to complete them. While they aren’t my best work, they came much better than I thought they would… and they’ll make two little girls very happy. Hopefully they are my very last time of making flip-top mittens, also called convertible mittens… but I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t someday try again with another type of yarn… having more substance to the fiber. Not all yarns are created equal for all projects!


Like to read on more of my crafts, Click Craft Junkie

© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Remembering Unusual Food Combinations Eaten

Family Stories:

Remembering Unusual Food Combinations Eaten!

food combos

I’m still not sure what sparked this remembrance of food combinations, but the more I thought… the more I remembered family members having their unusual favorite foods… whether appetizing to all or not!

My father’s quirky food combo I’ve always remembered was a can of Vienna Sausages and saltines… or “soda crackers” as we called them in the South… not sure why we call them that. Even today, I can still picture my father sitting at the kitchen table with them both… and as always, there was a beer on the table. Being a man of the South, a beer seemed to go better with most things! I will admit that I’ve eaten them, but I don’t quite remember what they taste like… I’m thinking more like bologna… guess I’ll have to buy myself a can in the new year and give them a try… again.

I don’t remember my mother eating anything odd, unless it was one of those pickled eggs she’d buy when we stopped on our weekend travels to my grandparents. I never even liked looking at those large jars of pickled eggs sitting on the counter… they weren’t for me! Even today, if I see them somewhere… those memories return; I was never a fan of pickles or anything pickled.

When I was small, mama would get up in the middle of the night just to eat peanut butter sandwiches and drink milkshakes… as she was very thin and trying to gain weight; what a problem we’d all like to have! When she first married, she had such a tiny waist that she could fit her hands around it… I’m still trying to figure out if that’s possible!

My grandmother Bryan had some peculiar food habits… at least they seemed that way to me as a small child. She always kept a package of Pecan Sandies in her kitchen cabinet… but she wasn’t a sharer! There was also several glass bottles of Coca Cola in her fridge at all times… those small bottles sold in 6 packs. She enjoyed a Coke usually every afternoon, but they were hers… I think she viewed them as some type of medicine as she didn’t like sharing them; she’d always tell me “I’ll save you the ducks“… which meant I’ll save you a couple swigs at the end! I never understood if saving me the ducks was an old saying or what… have you ever heard?

At one time, I remember my grandmother only eating baby food… but no one ever explained why… other than she had a stomach problem. I thought it odd, but never paid much attention… as I didn’t want any! My cousin recently asked me if I ever saw her eat sliced bananas on Ritz crackers. That was a new one to me, but I’m told it’s very tasty… I’m definitely going to give that one a try.

I remember when we ate Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house… there would usually be a German Chocolate cake sitting on the sideboard in the dining room. You didn’t dare try swiping a taste either… or she’d swat you; sadly no one ever found her recipe! At Christmas I remember her small plastic tree with gumdrops stuck on the branches… always displayed on the dining room sideboard, but I don’t remember anyone ever eating one… we probably weren’t allowed to!

Granddaddy McKinley’s favorite late snack was cold coffee… left over from supper… so black and thick that it could walk off the table by itself… as Mama always said. And if there were any leftover biscuits, he’d fill them with jelly or sorghum syrup to accompany that black coffee; he often sat out on the back stoop in the evening to enjoy that snack.

My father in law’s odd lunch to me was when he sat down with a can of sardines and Saltines… he’d offer me one… but I always passed! What I did learn to eat from him was jelly on Ritz crackers. Even today, I’ll make a few for an afternoon snack with my coffee… and I’ve made myself hungry for one right now! I remember him also making something called “head cheese” once… I definitely passed on that! His morning breakfast was always a cup of coffee at the kitchen sink with a morning cigarette… leaning on the counter as he enjoyed both, while looking out the window over the sink; a morning ritual that was never broken.

The only quirky food remembrance of my mother-in-law was that by the time we sat down to eat… she was finished. She often picked as she cooked, hardly ever eating a meal with us. She never liked to cook  or eat spaghetti… saying the long noodles reminded her of snakes!

My food curiosities and oddities… I love bacon sandwiches… just bacon (crispy only) and white bread… nothing else! I’ve eaten them from a young girl… and still enjoy them today! Being a girl born in the South, you’d think I would have added lettuce, tomato and Mayo… the dreaded Mayo… but never! I have since added lettuce and tomato to other things, but the Mayo, mustard and pickles have never made my “like” list. Just watching someone lick Mayo off a spoon… gives me the shudders!

A few more of my unusual food pairings:

  • Banana sandwiches… just bananas and white bread… definitely no Mayo!
  • Peanuts poured into my Coca Cola… better if using a bottle
  • Boiled peanuts… cooked till soft with lots of salt!
  • Dunking potato chips in ketchup
  • Potato chips and chocolate
  • Popcorn eaten with bites of Caramel (I just can’t go to the movies without a bag of Caramels)
  • Cornbread crumbled in a glass of milk… or sweet milk as we call it in the South.
  • Salt on my watermelon…  tastes so much better!
  • Sugar and salt on my grits… never sugar… only Yankees do that!
  • Jan. 1st, New Years Day, is only for eating black eyed peas and turnip greens. You eat the peas for the coins and the greens for the bills… to ensure money in the New year! Mama always said it’s bad luck not to eat this combination on New Years.
  • I eat “dressing” in the South… but in the North it’s called stuffing! Dressing is made from scratch… from biscuits and cornbread.


Who hasn’t in the South enjoyed peanuts in their Coke bottle?

Another odd sandwich I enjoyed as a child was just a plain jelly sandwich… no peanut butter, just jelly! If I wanted peanut butter, it was eaten separately. Not sure why I didn’t blend the two together! My new favorite pairing with peanut butter today is a green apple… wedges of peanut butter loaded on apple slices… yummy!

I remember at Grandmama Bryan’s house, how I’d slice open one of her homemade biscuits and fill it with creamed style corn… oh it was so good! She did make some of the best cream corn I’ve ever eaten and the corn was always fresh from granddaddy’s field. Those Sunday dinners were the best! The first time I took hubby there, he ate himself silly… bowls of every vegetable they grew… and all those bowls were filled to the brim. There were usually always two meats, fried chicken and beef. My favorites were just the fried chicken, corn and biscuits… and always sweet tea! If we were lucky, there might be a sweet potato pie or cobbler for dessert… also grown in granddaddy’s field.

My husband is like the little boy “Mikey” in the TV commercial… he eats everything! I can’t wrap my head around eating oysters or his new favorite… beets. I’ve tried the beets several times, but they taste so earthy to me! And as to the oysters… never! There hasn’t been too much he’s passed on… and even then he’ll give a try. I learned to like broccoli rabe from his grandmother, which he never liked, but if it’s served on the table today, he’ll add it to his plate.

So What’s your quirky food combinations?


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Family Stories: Dreams…What Do They Mean

Family Stories

Dream ZZZ post

Dreams…What Do They Mean?

I woke from a dream this morning as I had my hands on a package of older photos enclosed in a see through case… then poof… the dream ended. I was just pulling out one of the photographs and I could even see writing on them which I somewhat remembered as, “Haiverland” USAF or either USN base; the name was written besides the several black and white, somewhat sepia photos. I quickly searched the Internet for a base belonging to that name, but came up empty handed… leaving me puzzled and frustrated!

So what sparked this memory… am I meant to discover something… somewhere? It’s very unlikely, as I have all my family photos!

My father served in the Navy, and my husband in the Air Force… it was my uncle Leroy McKinley who I was thinking of as I went to sleep last night. I had recently received records of his service unit and had been thinking of yet one more piece to the puzzle that wasn’t in those records… of where he had been buried in Germany before his body was released home after the war. Did that prompt the dream… are there photos somewhere waiting for me… is the name of Haiverland (sp) part of the clue?

I usually don’t dream… or dream anything that I remember very often; they say you dream every night, so I guess my dreams haven’t been very important lately to remember… until now! It’s usually my husband who dreams… waking me up in the middle of the night by kicking me… from his usually violent dreams. Many of them have been so strange and funny that I often wrote them down… that’s for another post!


Image supplied by Rockpool Publishing |

Have you ever had the same dream over and over? Does it have a special meaning?

Many people, I’m told, have dreams about being back in school… is that a good or bad thing? While I haven’t dreamed about going back to school in a long time, I did in the past. I was back in high school in Perry, Georgia… wandering the hallways looking for my classes, and my locker… which I never found! I don’t remember having any classmates in my dreams… just that I couldn’t find my way… was there something going on in my life at that time which triggered that dream? I can’t even pinpoint now as to what time in my life I was having them, but it’s been many years… so I guess the problem was solved.

I’ve also dreamed of being locked out of our house in my nightgown… and contemplating if I was going to walk to a neighbor’s house or wait all day on the side porch for hubby to come home. I guess that was before the times of cell phones; I never go anywhere without it in my pocket now!

The most complex dream I’ve never forgotten was of my father who died in 1983…  I was  only thirty-one years old with two small children and living a thousand miles away. His death was very traumatic for me as it happened suddenly. He had just called me on a Friday nite from work… totally out of the blue; calling me from work was very unusual. When I questioned why he was calling from work before he went home, he just said, “I just called to tell you I love you.” I received the phone call on Monday that he died. I’ve always felt… somehow… that he knew things weren’t right with him and something was going to happen; he previously had had three heart attacks… and died at only 54 years of age.

It was, at some  point, after his death, that my dreams of him began. While I never saw him in my dreams, I did at times talk to him, but only on the phone,  and it very hard to actually even get him on the phone… I was always trying to find him. I’d call and call, even tracking him down at places I knew he went, but somehow I always just missed him.

On the times I managed to get daddy on the phone, I’d beg to see him… asking over and over “why can’t I find you”?

Somehow, in my dreams, he had moved… so I didn’t really even know anymore where he now lived, but I had an address. When I’d go home and try to find him… it just never happened. Even when I did find his car parked outside one of the clubs he went to, I’d go inside but still never find him. It was like I was chasing a dream!

The only reason I’ve figured out from those dreams is that I was still looking for closure in his death… as I never had had it. Daddy had recently remarried six months previously, so things had changed which caused a very stressful funeral. It definitely wasn’t as if I was at my fathers funeral… or even at his home afterward.

I can’t even remember the last time I had those dreams… maybe I’ve moved on… finally accepting his death!


Fun Facts on Dreams

  • While we don’t often remember our dreams… it’s said that everyone dreams between 3 to 6 dreams a night.
  • Most dreams only last about 5 to 20 minutes each.
  • By the time you get out of bed, you’ve often forgotten your dream.
  • Dreaming may help you develop a long term memory of certain memories.
  • Some say you can dream of a death… while I never have,,, my daughter-in-law did. She dreamed about my mother-in-law who was in a nursing home… dreaming that she was visited by her sister, Catherine, who said to her, “come with me Celia, it’s nice outside, let’s go for a walk.” My son told me this when I called to tell him of his grandmother’s death; Catherine had died earlier in the year. It was very eerie, but sweet… thinking that her sister came for her… to show her the way for them to be reunited again.

Causes of Dreams

There are several theories of why we dream. Are dreams merely part of the sleep cycle, or do they serve some other purpose?

  • Dreams often represent our unconscious desires and thoughts
  • The brain uses these thinking thoughts as you go to sleep.
  • There are always issues pressing on your mind… which often cause you to dream.
  • They say to think of things or someone when trying to sleep and it helps you dream about them… so far I haven’t remembered one of those type dreams.

Happy Dreaming….

dreams in jar2


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Weekend Weathervanes: A Christmas Reading at the Cross

Weekend Weathervanes

A Christmas Reading at the Cross


I’ve been by this church in Milford, CT… near the duck pond many times… guess I never looked up!

The Plymouth Building of the First United Church




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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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Craft Junkie: Christmas Ornaments

Craft Junkie: Christmas Ornaments

For as long as I can remember, I’ve made new felt Christmas ornaments every year after discovering them in a Woman’s World magazine. I first began making them to sell at craft shows… even family sold them at their workplace… and they sold fast… all hand sewn… no glue!

A few years past of ornaments… the ones on the tree are my original ones I first sewed!

Last year I knitted mitten ornaments for almost everyone… and you can see them over Here. This year I sewed felt Grinch houses for the girls and the VW and camper for the big girls and boys; each granddaughter received a set of three houses.


Love these little houses…  remind me of houses in the Grinch movies! So many pieces were just too tiny and hard to even cut from their patterns… so I winged a lot of decorations with free hand cuts.


The “big kids” received the VW tree carrier and camper!

I’m constantly asking myself, why is it that I can’t start these earlier, instead of driving myself crazy as the holidays close in… but I just don’t get in the mood until the holidays are almost upon me. Oh Well!

My recent ornament this year is a knitted sweater that I found as a free pattern over Here. Besides the sweater, there’s also a small knitted hat and a few more surprises. I can follow a pattern, but I often make changes… which I did on this knitted sweater in order to knit it using the magic loop method… which works better for me; next I’ll be the knitting the hat from this pattern set… if Christmas doesn’t sneak up on me.


My final group of sweater ornaments… they just kept snowballing along as I matched color combinations. I’ve knitted 11 so far…. might be making it a baker’s dozen soon. At this point, I don’t even need the pattern in sight… it’s all in my head! I keep thinking that I need to knit a Nancy Drew silhouette pattern on one… yes a definite must!


I decided on these two for hubby and I… adding eyelash fringe on the top of mine. If I’d been fast enough in planning, I should have used  fringe on the bottom and cuffs for a complete match. It was a little tricky to use on such a small knitted piece, but I managed… then I trimmed it down for a better fit. Have you spotted the “alligator”… I made that one especially for hubby to remember his alligator sighting in the lake at my sons house this past November.


The cupcakes were made for the “baby reveal” for baby McKinley… had to make both blue and pink as to not give the “reveal” away… which I only knew! Pink prevailed!!! The little kitty in stocking is one of my originals from years ago… she’s still a cutie!


I designed a mini tutu like the big ones I made for the girls to hold their hair ribbons and bows. I should make these mini ones for the girls… but they were so much work, I gave up after making one. Someone will lay claim to it one day!


One of my all-time favorites, and also an original pattern from that first Woman’s World magazine from the 80’s! Lots of work, but so cute!

Happy Crafting!


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© 2018, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

Posted in Craft Junkie, Daily Writings and funnies... | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments