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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
I suppose you could call me a long time Royal watcher: I love reading and writing about British recipes, castles and customs, and recently I have been interested in the Queen’s platinum jubilee. Sadly she has been in ill health this past year and has missed many of the appearances on her calendar due to mobility issues. Seventy years is a long time to do anything let alone being the head of a country. Here in the USA we only allow our President terms of four or eight years to make a mark, can you imagine any of our elected officials being in office for seventy years? As of this writing the Queen was expected to open British Parliament but at the last minute she has canceled and Prince Charles and Prince William will stand in her place by order of a little known royal decree which dates back to the 1800’s.

Queen Elizabeth Has Been Known to Catch Bats in a Butterfly Net at Balmoral Castle; a simple headline but very descriptive and the image in my mind is pretty funny. The article, which can be found on Yahoo life pages, contains an excerpt from Royal watcher Tina Brown who has written a book “The Palace Papers” which is an alleged true accounting of life with Queen Elizabeth. ( As I read this story headline I decided to research other funny headlines and found a huge selection of them on the Internet. I will share some of the ones I thought were the best. Strangely enough the United States government has a site which lists some of the best and as I read them I wondered about the people who write them.

* Iraqi Head Seeks Arms

* Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

* Miners Refuse to Work after Death

* If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

* Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

* Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

* Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

I hope you got a giggle out of reading these, I sure did and here again I wonder about the writer.

Switching gears: I am so envious: one of my girlfriends’: Gwen has five grandchildren in their late teens and early twenties and she is taking them on a secret ten day driving vacation all over the Midwest. I have been privy to the evolving trip plans and I sure wish I was her grandkid. The trip portfolio is a masterpiece and she has come up with unique experiences worthy of the most professional travel agent. I have met two of her granddaughters and they are as fun as their grandma and I am sure the six of them will have an eventful trip. Keeping in mind the kids have no idea where they are going and there will also be no phones allowed during the drive but many fun, age appropriate games have been planned. Gwen will pick up at the airport in St Louis, the kids are from different families’ and do not know they are flying together; and the first stop on the trip will be a visit to the “FlightSafety” center for pilots where they will experience flying a plane. They will drive back through Charleston to granny’s old stomping grounds to visit family cemeteries where they will all enjoy learning how to make rubbings on the old family headstones and learn family history. I hope rain is not in the forecast or the rubbings might be difficult to execute. A rain date plan might be in order for this activity.

Over the course of the next week they will motor toward Hawks Nest State Park in West Virginia (Hubby and I visited there many times) where they will hike and spend a day white water rafting. The next stop will be to visit Beckley, West Virginia to tour a coal mine (do these kids know what coal was used for in homes)? A stop at Kings Island in Cincinnati was planned but the park is closed so granny said they will stop in the parking lot to take pictures. Moving on to Columbus they will take scuba diving lessons (grandma is an accomplished scuba diver) then a stop in Winston Salem to visit the Krispy Kreme donut original factory which will probably be the tastiest part of the trip. Grandma said the factory no longer gives tours but they do have a huge Krispy Kreme store where the donuts are made non- stop 24/7 and last but not least they will stay in a cabin in the mountains and visit the largest chest of drawers in the furniture capital of the USA.

All throughout the trip Gwen has planned car games and tasks for the grandkids to interact with each other and I sure do wish I was on this trip because I shared a room with Gwen at a BPW convention in Chicago and we had a ball. I think I had more fun on that trip than any other convention I ever attended. Gwen has a knack for making life interesting and by the looks of this unique trip I can’t wait for her to return to find out how the grandkids liked living without a phone or internet. This should fill up many coffee girl conversations for quite a while.

Hawks Nest State Park, West Virginia: Nestled in the heart of whitewater rafting country, Hawks Nest State Park is a 270-acre recreational area with a nature museum, aerial tramway, jet boat rides, hiking trails and one of the most challenging whitewater boating waterways in the nation. Its 31-room lodge offers luxurious rooms, dining and spacious conference and meeting facilities. Located just 10 miles north of the New River Gorge Bridge, Hawks Nest is known for its scenic overlook, which provides a bird’s eye view of the rugged New River Gorge National Park and Preserve below. (

May is the perfect time to visit Hawks Nest, the Rhododendron and Azaleas are in bloom and they make a breathtaking canopy in which to hike. Hubby and I have visited there many times and have never failed to enjoy ourselves to the fullest. I highly recommend the chicken dinner in the restaurant, it is one of the best we ever had on our travels.

Beckley, West Virginia, Exibition Coal Mine: Take a trip through what once was an operating coal mine. Let Veteran Miners guide you through the past and into the future of mining in West Virginia. Guests ride through the mine in a ‘man car’ that holds 35 people. Tours last 35 minutes. Wear a jacket – mine temperature is 58 degrees year round. In addition to the Coal Mine Tour, enjoy the Coal Camp, which includes a restored coal camp house, miner’s shanty, church, school and more. The Coal Mine also has a museum and gift shop. (

In honor of the Krispy Kreme theme I will share my favorite donut recipe which Chef Paula Deen created a few years ago.

Time to enjoy planning a trip!

Paula Deen Krispy Kreme Casserole
* 1 pinch salt

* 1 9 0z box raisins

* 2 egg, beaten

* 2 4.5 oz cans fruit 

cocktail, undrained

* 1 14 oz can Sweeten 

Condensed milk

* 2 dozen Krispy Kreme 


* 1-2 tsp cinnamon

* Butter Rum Sauce

* 1 stick butter

* 1 lb confectioners sugar

* rum to taste or 

substitute vanilla 

flavoring and a little milk

1. Cube donuts into a large bowl. Pour remaining ingredients on top of donuts and let soak up the liquid for a few minutes. Stir mixture and let sit to soak as much liquid as possible. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

2. Melt butter and slowly stir in confectioner’s sugar. Add rum and heat until bubbly. Pour over each serving of Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding.

Writer’s Note: I used a box of leftover Donuts from the local donut shop instead of Krispy Kremes, and it was still so good! (

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