An Heirloom Christmas Recipe

When thinking about what to write for Christmas, I wondered if my mum had inherited her mum’s recipe books.

Sure enough she did, and what treasure it is.

Can you tell it was well used?

my grandma’s recipe book

And guess what the very first recipe written in the book is … yep, “Mother’s Christmas Pudding”.

So here it is. The Christmas pudding recipe from my great grandma.

In case you can’t read my grandma’s handwriting, here’s a transcription:

Mother’s Christmas Pudding
3 Large Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1 lb Seeded Raisins
1 lb Currants
1/2 lb Lemon Peel
1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
1 lb Suet
8 Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Carb Soda

Mix Soda in Flour. Boil about 6 hours.
I generally boil mine 4 hours the first time.


Now don’t go getting any ideas thinking I’m going to make this. Firstly I’m not much of a cook. Secondly I’m totally not a fan of Christmas pudding. And thirdly I had to google to find out “suet” even is, and that should not go in anything, let alone a pudding!!

But still I do believe in preserving history, and this is an heirloom recipe, whether I make it or not!

I don’t know what date this would have been written, but my grandma’s name was Evelyn Phebe Hannaford (nee Randell) b.1916, and her mother’s name was Ella Alice Randell (nee Sinkinson), b.1876, so no doubt it dates back a fair way!

Wishing you a all Merry Christmas!

The Heirloom Geneameme

It’s geneameme time, but I can’t take any credit for this one as it began by me sharing post from The Family Curator blog, on “Top 5 Family Heirlooms They Actually Want to Inherit” … if you haven’t read it, take a moment to do so, as it’s a great post. Anyway a comment on that from fellow geneablogger Jen of the Conversations with Grandma blog said …

An idea for a Geneameme Alona? “Five heirlooms in my family”? Or similar.”

So wallah … we have a new geneameme.

For the “Heirloom Geneameme” simply pick 5 of your family heirlooms, and write a post about them. Sounds easy? I found it harder than I expected.

Well firstly let’s define what an heirloom is. The dictionary says it’s “a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations.”

Now those who’ve been following me for a while, will know that one side of my family are hoarders. But in the good ‘everything is an heirloom sense’, not in the ‘junk piled to the ceiling sense’, so we have a house FULL of heirlooms. The other side  of my family … well, we have a couple of photos. Anyway having so many, certainly makes it challenging to choose … and I changed my mind about fifty two times (before, during and even after writing this). But here are five of my family’s heirlooms (in no particular order) …

This bible was owned by my great grandparents Ella Alice Sinkinson and John Beavis ‘JB’ Randell who married in 1899. It is huge, it is heavy (I’d guess about 15kgs), and is starting to fall apart … so great care is needed when handling it. The publication date of the bible is 1881, but going by the handwriting I’d say the bible was either obtained in the 1910s-1920s, or else they had it earlier, and just didn’t write it it until later. As far as family bible’s go, we’re fortunate that they actually filled it in AND even added in some photos (though sadly we don’t know who they all are). For more on the Randell Family Bible, click here.

the giant Randell family bible

and here’s me photographing it (as you do)

the Births page in the bible

My grandma (Evelyn Randell) was one of the many thousands who were war bride. My grandpa (Cec Hannaford) signed up to fight in WW2 and In May 1941, when he had a few days leave, they got married, before he headed back to the barracks for more training, and headed overseas shortly afterwards. While I don’t have my grandma’s wedding dress … I do have one of her bridesmaid’s dresses. And since times were tough, and everything was being rationed and clothing was shared – it’s surprising that we even have that. I’m pretty sure this would have been belonged to her sister (Dorothy Randell), the one second from the left in the photo below … and boy she was a stick. I’m not large, but there’s no way I can fit into this dress … not without forcefully giving it new seams in the process. Anyway we found someone of similar stature, who was happy to ‘model’ it for us. The dress is starting to show its age, but being 76 years old – it really is in pretty good condition. I wrote about Evelyn and Cec’s wedding here.

the whole wedding party, 31 May 1941

the bridesmaid dress in 2017

I don’t know about you, but I love looking in boxes and containers, and albums and everything … you just never know what you’ll find. And I must say there have been many surprises. However probably none quite as much as finding old tattered looking tin (“treasure tin” as I call it), that belonged to Phebe Randell (nee Robbins) – my great great grandma. This tin is choc full of letters, cards, some photos, store receipts, newspaper cuttings etc … in other words, lots of ephemera, and much of it is from the 1860s-1870s.

I’ll admit I still haven’t read all the letters, but there is one fascinating one from her brother who was on a voyage to the Northern Territory, to look for a suitable place the for the capital – and it wasn’t going to be Darwin. You can read more about that here.

So I need to make time, to go through each and every item. Document them all, as well as scanning them of course. So who knows what else I’ll discover in these letters. Fun times ahead!

Phebe’s treasure tin

this is some of what’s in the tin

letter from Gumeracha (Gumeracka) dated 16 September 1865

more ephemera from the tin

Another heirloom that my family has, is a bible. Actually to be perfectly honest, as many of my relatives were ‘godly’ folk, we have many bibles. However this one was special, as it was also a wedding present. Born in Ireland, Robert McCullough studied to be a minister at Charles Spurgeon’s “Pastor’s College” in London, and then emigrated to Australia in 1879 where he ministered at Fitzroy, Victoria, and then subsequently Longford and Hobart in Tasmania, and the Mount Barker, in South Australia. Eva Richardson was said to have been his first convert, and who became his wife on 18 May 1881.

So this bible is a real treasure. Without the inscription this bible would be ‘just an old bible’. With it, I now know that my great great grandpa, the Reverend Robert McCullough gave this bible to his wife Eva Richardson on their wedding day back in May 1881, and doesn’t that make it so much more special.

it really is an ordinary looking bible – albeit well used

and inside

ooh an inscription …

Robert’s inscription in Eva’s bible

The photo below is one of my great grandpa (Otto Winter), and is from the side of my family that has very few heirlooms, which I guess is partly why it is a real treasure. Otto was born in Finland, but left as he refused to join the Russian army which was compulsory at the time. After sailing the world on merchant ships for a number of years, he jumped ship in Australia he became naturalised, and when the call for men to join the war was issued, he signed up and fought as an Australian soldier. For more on Otto Winter click here. He was injured, but survived, and even signed up for WW2 when that began.

Otto joined the Australian Army in 1916

So why not take part in this geneameme, and share some of your family’s heirlooms.

And thanks again to Denise and Jen for providing the inspiration.

9 December 1843 – The Day the First Christmas Card was Created

It’s that time of year again, when we get out box of Christmas cards and our address book, and start writing cards to those on our Christmas card list this year. There is no doubt that this has become a Christmas tradition right around the world.

But when did this tradition actually start?

Well … way back on 9 December 1843 actually (although some dispute that, and say May 1843). Either way, it is a LONG time ago!

A description online tells us that …

Sir Henry Cole, Director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, found that writing numerous Christmas greetings to friends and colleagues was becoming a time-consuming task. He asked his artist friend, John Calcott Horsley, to design a card which could be used by Cole and also sold to the public. The first Christmas cards were created in England on 9 December 1843. Horsley produced 1,000 lithographed and hand-coloured cards. More like postcards, they sold for a shilling, which was the equivalent of a day’s wages for a labourer. It was another twenty years before Christmas cards became commercially viable for the common man, following the invention of cheaper colour lithography.

The image at the top is one of the “first ever” Christmas card, according to Wikipedia.

And as the cards became affordable, the stationery companies found it profitable, and they certainly haven’t stopped making them since!

While I don’t have any Christmas cards in my family’s heirlooms that date back to 1843, I do have some old, vintage ones that I have scanned and are pictured below (click on each for a larger image). Most of these would be from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, with at least some of them being written by my great grandmother, Ella Alice Randell (nee Sinkinson).

Also as you’ll see, today’s cards don’t match the style of those 100+ years ago. They were so classy back then. Lots of flowers, lots of embossing, and not Christmas tree or Father Christmas in sight.

Christmas card 1 - front

Christmas card 1 – front

Christmas card 1 - inside

Christmas card 1 – inside

Christmas card 1 - back

Christmas card 1 – back

Christmas card 2 - front

Christmas card 2 – front

Christmas card 2 - inside

Christmas card 2 – inside

Christmas card 2 - back

Christmas card 2 – back

Christmas card 3 - front

Christmas card 3 – front

Christmas card 3 - inside

Christmas card 3 – inside

Christmas card 3 - back

Christmas card 3 – back

Christmas card 4 - front

Christmas card 4 – front

Christmas card 4 - inside

Christmas card 4 – inside

Christmas card - back

Christmas card 4 – back

Christmas card 5 - front

Christmas card 5 – front

Christmas card 5 - inside

Christmas card 5 – inside

Christmas card 5 - back

Christmas card 5 – back

Christmas card 6 - front

Christmas card 6 – front

Christmas card 6 - inside

Christmas card 6 – inside

Christmas card 6 - back

Christmas card 6 – back

The Randell and Robbins Family Photo Album: But Who Are They?

It was sometime last year that I discovered an amazing family heirloom and have been wanting to share it all with you for ages, and have decided that now is the time.

There’s no doubt that family historians get excited over old family photos, but can you imagine the excitement of finding a whole photo album of family photos? Well that’s what I found in my dad’s stash of family heirlooms. And trust me I was happy dancing!! Page after page of beautiful old photos – probably from around the 1850s-1860s. But one question. Who are they? I did recognise a few of them – but that’s all. The rest remain unnamed. So that’s partly why I’m writing this, in the hope that others might be able to add some names to these photo.