About Ollie

My nickname Ollie came about when my first grandchild was born 12 years ago. My youngest son suggested that instead of being called "Grandma" I use a shortened version of my middle name (Olive) and become "Ollie". I liked it and agreed. No Grandma for me! But over the years my grandchildren began calling me "Grandma Ollie" and that is who I am today.

As a genealogist (take a peek at my genealogy site Olive Tree Genealogy) and avid family historian I shudder to think of my descendants trying to figure out what my real first name is! But I like the nickname and often chuckle thinking of the challenge my great-great-great grandchlldren will face if any of them start researching the family tree.

My cooking experience began at the age of 14. I didn't like my mother's cooking and after my father died I suggested I take it over. She was overjoyed to relinquish that chore to me! My next step was our local library in our village where I found a cookbook called "Canadian Cookbook". It had chapters on how to set a table, what spices and herbs to use with different foods, the meaning of cooking terms such as saute, roux, and so on. It also provided full meal ideas from appetizers to dessert.

And so I began to cook. I would choose my menus for the week and give my mother a shopping list. I faithfully followed, step by step, through the recipes. I'm sure I cooked some pretty dreadful meals but that is how I learned. If something failed, i puzzled over what I might do differently next time - change the cooking time, or try a different herb or....

My cooking lifespan has covered almost 50 years now. I've had my share of failed meals, including the first time I ever cooked a turkey when I was 19 years old. I put the frozen turkey on top of the fridge to thaw out, never realizing that the heat from that fridge would do a nasty number on the turkey! After a day the smell was atrocious and that spoiled turkey had to be tossed. But I learned a lesson - never defrost a turkey on top of a fridge.

A few of my Victorian Napkin Rings
I miss cooking for a family but twice a year at Thanksgiving and Christmas I do a huge meal for friends and family. It's my only opportunity to decorate my tables with antique china and other assorted items such as antique napkins, Victorian napkin rings and so on.

Some of my antique china

I like to make those big meals somewhat formal and wish I could suggest to my family that they dress up a bit - no jeans, shorts or slogan t-shirts allowed. For me, cooking and dining are a complete experience and one that should be aesthetically pleasing to sight, sound and taste.

2008 Christmas Table
To be honest if I had my way I'd ask everyone  to wear a neutral colour such as black, white or brown so that they don't clash with the colour schemes of my decorated tables! But my husband wisely tells me that is just going WAY too overboard!

With 9 grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, 3 children and a step-daughter plus other family members in attendance, I just relax and enjoy having them all around for the day. And that's what it's all about isn't it - good food with good friends and family.

Close-up of 2009 Xmas Tree
My other addictions besides cooking are antique collecting and genealogy. I have several websites and blogs devoted to those hobbies. Here are links to some in case you want to visit: