Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family Recipe Stories

While cleaning my bedroom this week I found a box full of recipes.  These are papers that I've torn out of magazines, mini cookbooks, newspapers and all kinds of odd and end places.  I thought it was time to start sorting them.

Most of them were from Taste of Home Magazine and other magazines from the same company.  It is while looking over these that I was reminded of something.  Every recipe has a story. This is one of the things I LOVE about Taste of Home magazine, besides the fact that it is cheap.  With almost every recipe the person who submitted it also adds a little blurb about where it came from.  Sometimes these recipes came from their mom, sometimes they found it at a pot luck and sometimes it is just some thing they made up in desperation to feed their family on what they had in their home.

To the casual reader it doesn't matter as long as it tastes good, but for someone who loves food and the memories that come with it, it is where it comes from that makes it taste so good.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  For Stephen it is things like Molasses Sugar Cookies.  It takes him back to being a little boy and trying to sneak them out of the cookie jar this along with Strawberry Pie makes him think of his mother.  Now if you give him Chocolate Pie or homemade biscuits he thinks of his Great Grandmother Raymer.  While for me fried Okra makes me think of my Grandma Minton and homemade noodles makes me think of my Mimi. These are just a few of our favorites, but it is the people they are tied to them that makes them even more valuable.

These recipes have history and weight for our family.  They have become part our our children's heritage.  They  have become part of our family story.  Stephen can't eat a Strawberry Pie without telling stories of trying to sneak strawberries while his mom wasn't looking, even though we mother's know better.  When he eats Chocolate Pie or makes biscuits, he tells stories of his great Grandmother.  These ties that bind generations.  This gives my children references not only to food, but to where they came from, and these stories will be passed down to their children and so on.

This has brought me to think about the Raymer/Hatcher cookbook.  Several years ago, my mother-in-law blessed me with a copy of a cookbook she had pulled together of family recipes.  I probably submitted more than I should have, but she took them all and added to them all of the others.  When it comes to things to make, it is my go to source.  I think I have tried everything in there at least once.  Some of these have become standards for my family.  Family traditions being passed down to the next generation.  Stories that are part of who we are, where we came from, and why we are here today.

I have begun the process of retyping up this cookbook, not only for myself, but for the rest of the family.  With this I plan on adding a family tree of the wonderful women in the family.  I want my daughter to have a copy of this, but not only her but her grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.  As I told her this is a living cookbook.  It will grow as our family grows.  It will evolve and develop by adding more recipes and more stories.  Though I am only a Hatcher by marriage, I have been blessed and touched by every single one of these women because they helped mold and shape the man who is my husband and the father of my children.  It is because of this gift they have given me that I wanted to continue to share their love with the rest of my family for generations to come.

It is while I am doing this that I am also beginning a cookbook of my side of the family.  I want my children to have a rich heritage, especially my daughter.  I want her to know that she comes from wonderful women who have blessed their family with amazing food.  Food that not only fills the body, but the heart and soul.  That with her labor of love comes rewards beyond mention.  I want her to understand that by doing her part in her family that she will join the ranks of some great women, women who helped make her who she is.

With all of that being said I thought I would share one of the family "secret" recipes. Stephen said if he could only have just one recipe from his family continue it would be this one.  The older two children were in agreement.  It is their all time favorite.  According to Audrey, "this is the recipe that just says Grammy."  So without further ado here is my Mother-in-law's Molasses Sugar Cookies.

Molasses Sugar Cookies
By Joyce Hatcher

¾ c shortening (you can half this with butter)
1 c sugar
¼ c molasses
1 egg
2 t soda
2 c flour
½ t cloves
½ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
½ t salt
½ c white sugar for coating

Mix ingredients. Cool in refrigerator for at least an hour.  Roll into 1” balls then in granulated sugar.  Place on greased cookie sheet about 2” apart.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding Peace in the Midst of Depression

Before I start here, let me add this disclaimer: I really don't feel like I know what I'm doing so please take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt.  Also I am being very honest here so please be kind. These are just some things that have worked for me.

I have never been a morning person as I have sleeping issues, but when I wake up I am usually chipper and moving. It was a friend of mine who took me out to dinner before I left Pennsylvania that told me about a promise she made to herself.  She promised that she would get up every morning and take a shower, get dressed and take care of herself.  This amazed me because she has 4 little ones just like I do, yet she finds time for herself everyday.  It wasn't until last year when I lost the baby that Kelly's words came back to me, but this time it was from my dad's mom.  She knew that I was hurting, depressed and in some ways desperate.  She told me very seriously to make sure I change my underwear everyday.  This isn't what Kelly said, but it is the same concept.

Both of these women were telling me to make time for myself.  They aren't talking about me going away on a trip spending hundreds of dollars, but doing something for myself everyday.  This was a hard concept to swallow as it seemed selfish to me.  I wanted to be a SAHM, shouldn't I put my children first?  They should be my highest priority, shouldn't they?  But what are they really telling me to do.  I spent some time in prayer about this as I always do when something is weighing heavily on my heart.

These are the things that God laid on my heart to ponder and what I want to share with you.

1. Christ went away to recover. I am not claiming to be Christ or to even understand what He went through, but with that being said I am smaller and weaker than He is.  This tells me that I need to take time to heal and recover physically and emotionally.  If Christ needed it, then how much more do I as a weaker human need this same thing.  This can be solved in many ways.  It could be curling up to read a book on a rainy day while my children either do the same or play a board game.  It could be taking a walk admiring God's creation.  It could be enjoying my favorite hobbies.  It could be enjoying fellowship with a friend.  Any of these things take me away for a moment from the weight and responsibility of being wife and mom.  I am not running away permanently, but just taking a break a breather.

2.We all empty ourselves out when we give and need to be refilled.  While this is true something that is just as important is what do I fill myself with.  I will admit that I use to fill myself with fluff.  I would read nothing but fiction, watch movies, Facebook games and silly TV shows.  Now I'm not saying these things are bad, but everything needs to come in moderation.  If you noticed no where did I say study God's word!  I was filling myself with things that are shallow, so all I had to give of myself to those around me was shallow.  I have found that when I fill myself with Godly, wholesome and up lifting things, that I what I give to my children and those in my life are Godly and wholesome things.

3. Christ came to serve not to be served. If Jesus who is God came to serve, then who am I to sit around and not serve others.  I can't call myself a Christian and not be Christ-like.  My mother-in-law reminded me that when I am feeling down that the best way to pull myself together is to do something for someone else.  It doesn't matter what it is, but the serving of others lifts the spirit like nothing else can.  I have seen this in my children as well.  Though what happened in Henryville was horrible, my children were happier when they were helping.  I have never seen them smile more than when they were serving others.  My Audrey has made meals for a family who's mother has health issues.  She knows she is blessing them, but the blessings that have poured on her are HUGE!  This has made be begin to look for other ways we can begin to do this on a regular basis.  It is my hope to be posting about that soon.

4. Do not allow me to get in the way of myself. It is very easy for me to be a perfectionist.  It doesn't help that I am a first born, but I am the first born of a first born.  I also married a first born who was the son of a first born and so on.  (I pity my oldest.) I have a tendency to allow my perfection to get in the way of accomplishing anything. I have horrid thoughts run through my head like: Why should I do the laundry there will always be more? Why do the dishes the kids will just dirty up more?  Clean the house? Why is anyone coming over?  These things have set on my mind and heart for years.  I've allowed them to fester and they have hurt not only me but my husband and children.  My perfectionism is not from God, but from Satan.  It is Satan's way of trying to destroy me.  I'm not saying I shouldn't try, but that I should be thankful for the mess and for the ability to do what I can do instead of complaining about what I can't do.

5. Finally you can't have peace without contentment.  I have spent most of my life rushing around from one thing to the next hoping to find peace and happiness.  Not only is that fruitless, but it is exhausting.  Nothing ever seemed to make me happy.  As I child I looked to people to make me happy, never understanding that people fail and that forgiveness is necessary.  As a teen I looked to peers to make me happy, never realizing that they were just as lost and sometimes desperate as I was.  As a wife I looked to my husband to make me happy, never giving him the grace that I expected him to give me.  As a mom I looked to my children to make me happy, but the first time they disobeyed I became angry.  If they loved me they would never disobey.  Can you see my problem here?  I was looking around me for contentment and peace instead of looking up to where all good things come from.

I'm not saying I have this down pat.  I am better at getting a shower everyday, as long as I don't have cluster migraines.  For the past few months I have spent time daily with God.  No this isn't time I set aside in the middle of my day.  This is the first thing I do in the morning after I am dressed for my day.  He is given the first part of my day and the day is so much better.  I am working on giving my family the grace that God is giving me.  It is a daily fight, but one I refuse to let go of the wheel on this.

I still have dreams. I have even started a dream journal.  In it you will find things like wall colors for painting a room, designs for flower beds, books I want to read, and meals I want to cook just to name a few.  I spend time daily reading to my children, not only books for school, but from God's word.  I share with them my love for him.

Am I at peace?  Am I no longer depressed?  I don't know the answer to that.  What I do know is this.  Like the lightening bugs that my children are start to catch as summer comes on, I see glimpses of hope, peace and God in everything around me.  I feel that I am finally starting to grow up, to become the woman that God planned for me to be.  I'm far from perfect, but I am perfectly loved.  I am adored.  I am beautiful to my creator.  It is in those things that I find peace and comfort in my life.

It is my prayer that you will too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Setting and Accomplishing Goals

On January 1st of every year we have a family planning meeting.  We set goals as a family and allow others to help us in the setting of goals.  Once a month we sit down to a fun easy meal and go over the goals.  This has worked well for the past three years and we will continue down this path.

I'm also a crazy to-do list kind of girl.  My husband knows, if I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed out because of things going on in our life, that the way to make me feel better is to tell me me make a list.  So it is to daily to do lists that the day to day things are accomplished.  Sometimes Stephen will even add things to the list and I really enjoy that because I know it is something important to him that is going to be accomplished that day.

Recently though I began reading a blog called She Learns As She Goes.  This newly married lady has inspired me with not only her zest for life, but also her talent.  There are things she is doing in her marriage that makes me wish I could start over and accomplish some of these things, but the past is the past and I will just implement them now with joie de vivre.

Today she set her goals for the month.  These are things that take longer than a day, but it doesn't allow you to become lax by having an entire year to accomplish them.  This allows me to have a close, but far enough away deadline so that I can accomplish some bigger goals. At the end of the month, she gives herself a report card grade of what she has accomplished.  I have decided this would be a great thing for me to do so here I go with my goals for May.

1. Eat from my menu daily.  I know for some this isn't a big deal, but for my family this can be a really big deal.  With this being the worst time of the year for my allergies and sinuses, this will be difficult, but I know it will be better for us financially and physically.

2. Keep a company ready house. My house is never spotless and most of the times I'm fighting clutter and the chaos of children or my half finished projects.  At one point I had written down what a company ready house was, that list is on one of the computers in the house.  I need to find it and post it for the entire family.

3. Finishing reading 2 books. I am the world's worst person about starting a book and never finishing it.  Don't ask me how many I have sitting around about half way finished.  This month my goal is to finish at least 2 of those books.

4. Read to the kids daily.  I'm usually really good about keeping up with this, but there are days that it isn't a priority.  I need to make it a daily priority to make sure my children are being fed with good books, grammar and syntax.

5. Declutter my bedroom.  My bedroom is the place where things go that no one else knows where they belong, at least according to my children.  It is time the clutter moves out so it will become a relaxing place for my husband and I.

6. Clean Carpets.  This hasn't been done in a year and boy can I tell.  It is time to spruce up my carpets and see if what color they are again.

7. Declutter yarn.  I only collect two things Books and Yarn.  A while back my kids and some of their friends used my yarn for bombs.  Some of them are still in tangles and some were tossed.  I need to spend some time going through what I have to see if it is salvageable or time to pitch it.  I have some big projects coming up and I want to make sure I have what I need before I start them.

8. Blog weekly.  I have not been consistent in my blogging and I really regret this.  There have been some wonderful things happen in my life that I think at the time would be great to share, but I never seem to get around to it.  By making this a goal, I will make sure to accomplish this.

I know there are a lot of goals here, but some will be short and others will take time.  Most will just require consistency on my part.  So with this post I am dedicating myself publicly to accomplishing this task.