Wednesday, July 17, 2013


    The RMS Queen Mary is reputed to be one of the most haunted objects in the world. The ghost stories and haunted tales told about the ship are so popular that it has inspired countless investigators to climb aboard. Whether you believe the ship is haunted or not, there is no discounting its long history.
    The Queen Mary was built as a fabulous ocean liner that could cross the Atlantic in just two weeks. She was built for the Cunard White Star Line, the same company that built the ill fated Titanic. Construction started on the ship in 1930, but took nearly four years to complete.

    Though the ship operated for over thirty years, there were a few problems associates with it. During its maiden trip just after it had been officially named, the ship lost control. She came close to hitting another ship, before managing to stop. During World War II, the Queen Mary became one of several ocean liners to be used as troopships, to carry men and weapons across the seas. That was when she earned the nickname of "The Grey Ghost".

    WWII was when the ship received another piece of bad luck. While carrying troops to Europe, she was hit by a wave. The ship came close to capsizing, and just barely made it to shore. The Ship returned as an ocean liner following the War, but times had changed and ocean travel wasn't as popular as it once was. Eventually the ship was sold to the city of Long Beach, California where she took up residence as a tourist attraction.
To turn this glorious ocean liner into a hotel and museum, the owners removed many of the lower decks, including the original machinery and propellers. This led officials to now dub the ship a building rather than an object. Owners also dismantled some of the original rooms to make space for stores and boutiques, and added bars and restaurants for visitors. In addition, the crew cabins were dismantled to make way for new features. Some believe that these changes are what caused the paranormal activity to start up.

The first class pool, site of many ghost orbs

   Interestingly enough, the ghost stories told about the Queen Mary only started after she was docked in Long Beach. The former playroom is rumored to hold the spirits of small children. Their cries are still sometimes heard. There are also people who hear what sounds like someone splashing or playing in the swimming pool that has no water.

Queen Mary playroom

    The documented death of a teenager named John Pedder has led to other stories of ghosts and haunting's.  According to the stories, the boy died on the ship during the 1960's and is still believed to haunt the ship. He is often spotted wearing his old coveralls, and walking in the engine room.
    The engine room of the Queen Mary is also rumored to be haunted. Story say that two men were killed in this area when a door abruptly came down on them. The ghost of John Pedder described above, is one of those two men. There are also stories of ghostly female figures seen in the vicinity of the first class swimming pool. Others have seen wet footprints in the area, despite the fact that there is no water in the pool. Some guests have also seen a little girl holding a teddy bear near the swimming pool. When they attempt to speak to her she disappears.

Queen Mary engine room

The Queen Mary is also home to a ghost by the name of Jackie. This girl downed in the swimming pool at some point in the ship's history, and still haunts the area where she died. EVP's captured in the ship sometimes feature the sounds of a little girl talking and laughing.
    The ship herself is home to a few more ghostly apparitions as well. There is a woman in a white dress who is sometimes spotted in the Queen's Salon. Another ghost who calls the ship home is a man from the 1930's who sometimes appears in the first-class staterooms. This man is believed to be responsible for wreaking some havoc on guests. He causes the phone to ring at odd hours, and urns water faucets and lights on and off. Others have heard people knocking on the walls, and strange smells as well as cold spots.


   Naadam (Mongolian: Наадамlit. "games") is a traditional type of festival in Mongolia. The festival is also locally termed "eriin gurvan naadam" (эрийн гурван наадам) "the three games of men". The games are Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery and are held throughout the country during the midsummer holidays. Women have started participating in the archery and girls in the horse-racing games, but not in Mongolian wrestling.
   The biggest festival (Naadam of the Country) is held in the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar during the National Holiday from July 11 – 13, in the National Sports Stadium. Other cities and towns across Mongolia and those with significant Mongolian populations in China, have their own, smaller scale Naadam celebrations. It begins with an elaborate introduction ceremony featuring dancers, athletes, horse riders, and musicians. After the ceremony, the competitions begin.

   Naadam is the most widely watched festival among Mongols, and is believed to have existed for centuries in one fashion or another. Naadam has its origin in the activities, such as military parades and sporting competitions such as archery, horse riding and wrestling, that followed the celebration of various occasions. Now it formally commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.
Another popular Naadam activity is the playing of games using shagai, sheep anklebones that serve as game pieces and tokens of both divination and friendship. In the larger Nadaam festivals, tournaments may take place in a separate venue.

The three games:


   512 or 1024 wrestlers meet in a single-elimination tournament that lasts nine or ten rounds. Mongolian traditional wrestling is an untimed competition in which wrestlers lose if they touch the ground with any part of their body other than their feet. When picking pairs, the wrestler with the greatest fame has the privilege to choose his own opponent. Wrestlers wear two-piece costumes consisting of a tight shoulder vest (zodog) and shorts (shuudag). Only men are allowed to participate.
   Each wrestler has an "encourager" called a zasuul. The zasuul sings a song of praise for the winning wrestler after rounds 3, 5, and 7. Winners of the 7th or 8th stage (depending on whether the competition features 512 or 1024 wrestlers) earn the title of zaan, "elephant". The winner of the 9th or 10th stage, is called arslan, "lion".   In the final competition, all the "zasuuls" drop in the wake of each wrestler as they take steps toward each other. Two time arslans are called the titans / giants, or avraga.

Horse racing

   Unlike Western horse racing, which consists of short sprints generally not much longer than 2 km, Mongolian horse racing as featured in Naadam is a cross-country event, with races 15–30 km long. The length of each race is determined by age class. For example, two-year-old horses race for ten miles and seven-year-olds for seventeen miles. Up to 1000 horses from any part of Mongolia can be chosen to participate. Race horses are fed a special diet.
   Children from 5 to 13 are chosen as jockeys who train in the months preceding the races. While jockeys are an important component, the main purpose of the races is to test the skill of the horses.
   Before the races begin, the audience sings traditional songs and the jockeys sing a song called Gingo. Prizes are awarded to horses and jockeys. The top five horses in each class earn the title of airgiyn tav and the top three are given gold, silver, and bronze medals. Also the winning jockey is praised with the title of tumny ekh or leader of ten thousand. The horse that finishes last in the Daaga race (two-year-old horses race) is called bayan khodood (meaning "full stomach"). A song is sung to the Bayan khodood wishing him luck to be next year's winner.


   Mongolian archery is unique for having not only one target, but hundreds of beadrs or surs on a huge wall. In this competition both men and women participate. It is played by ten-men/women teams who are given four arrows each; the team has to hit 33 "surs". Men fire their arrows from 75 meters away while women fire theirs from 65 meters away. When the archer hits the target the judge says uuhai which means "hooray". The winners of the contest are granted the titles of "national marksman" and "national markswoman".


This creamy no-bake Snickers cake is stacked with creamy layers of homemade chocolate and peanut butter pudding along with some graham crackers softened to a cake like texture. Draping the mad goodness of the creamy layers is a heavy pouring of caramel and chocolate ganache sauce. Of course I can never just stop at good enough, I had to take it over the top and chop up some Snickers for added authenticity and then finish that off with some caramel and chocolate drizzle.
It’s cakery for the lazy. I love icebox cakes because they require no baking and always seem so much easier. But you know what is not easier, making nice even layers. I just don’t have that cake carving skill nailed down yet.
These days I don’t have time to practice that. I’m sure you’ve noticed the spotty posting. Life is just getting in the way and I’m not sure how to get the multiplying-to-do list to chill the freak out before I have a freak out.
I should stop now – I’m being a whiner


Okay, one last thing, that second picture is admittedly hideous. But as much as I dislike the picture I wanted you guys to see the Snickers Cake fully assembled. Don’t let the bad picture convince you this cake is anything but to-die for.
A few notes:
  • The recipe yields one 8×8 cake. For the picture I sliced the cake in half for two cake loaves.
  • Variations: Change out the graham cracker for chocolate ones. Switch out the peanut butter with Nutella for a Nutella Icebox Cake. For a Twix version replace the peanut butter with some homemade caramel or melt down some Kraft caramels for a caramel pudding and then top with chopped Twix instead of Snickers.
  • Cake can be fully assembled and kept in freezer or refrigerator for up two days.
  • I froze my cake for a more ice cream like texture and it also makes for nice clean slices.


Makes one 8×8 cake or two 4×8 cake loafs
  • 16 whole crackers
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 cups cold whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter
Caramel sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ c heavy cream

Ganache Pouring Sauce

  • 2/3 cups dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 4-5 tablespoons water, warm
  • 12-14 mini Snickers, chopped


To make pudding
  1. Combine cornstarch, sugar, salt and milk in a blender or food processor and pulse until well blended. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk vigorously. Transfer mixture to a heat proof bowl and place over (not on) simmering water for approximately 20-25minutes stirring occasionally. Pudding is ready when it it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave ribbons when pudding is drizzled on top of itself.
  2. Add vanilla to mixture. Split mixture in half and add chocolate to one half and whisk to combine. Add peanut butter to remaining half and whisk to combine.

To make caramel sauce
  1. Place sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat and stir the until sugar has dissolved. Dissolve any crystals forming on the side with a wet pastry brush.
  2. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high.
  3. At this point do not stir the mixture directly. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute or so.
  4. Once the mixture starts to turn a light golden shade, add the butter and heavy cream. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Set aside to cool completely.

To make ganache pouring sauce
  1. Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl over simmering water. Let chocolate and cream sit for 2-3 minutes to melt without stirring. Then slowly stir mixture to combine. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition until pouring consistency is reached. Set aside and let sauce cool to warm.

To assemble
  1. Create a foil sling by placing a piece foil in the pan with a 1 inch overhang on each side.
  2. Place graham crackers side-by-side until bottom of pan is covered. Spread a thin layer of chocolate pudding on top. Place second layer of graham cracker on top of chocolate pudding. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter pudding on top. Continue alternating layers with chocolate and peanut butter pudding while separating each pudding layer with a graham cracker layer.
  3. Pour cooled caramel sauce on top and set aside to set. Pour cooled ganache sauce on top and add chopped Snickers on top. Finish with caramel and chocolate drizzle.
  4. Place cake in refrigerator or freezer for at least 8 hours to set or overnight. (Freezer will create a pudding texture closer to ice cream).