I stand here in the kitchen on a hot day making beans because the idea of beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread with some creamed onions sounds like one of the finest meals in the world. My family will all disagree tonight and turn up their nose at the beans but clamor for my cornbread. I've managed to love on but not convince this group of outlaws that beans are a treat. It's not just that I find them to be delicious but also because they hold memories. They hold memories of picking through them with my mom Carla and grandma Jewel. They remind me of times we had little but as kids didn't mind much.
Oh my kids have had a lot in the easy times and the two oldest have lived through just about nothing. They know all about why we had pancakes for dinner some nights and they also realize the importance of knowing how to feed yourself on pennies. Some of our most memorable treats have been in the times we were on thin ice. I would make things like divinity candy which is mostly sugar, Karo and water. To this day I end up mailing that candy to family members and fighting my kids to stay out of it for five minutes as I plate it. It's a simple creation as far as ingredients but the devil to fight with if you don't know the tricks of it. I assure you it is always filled with love, even if through gritted teeth.
I have a love for feeding people that surpasses anything else I enjoy. I can't fix everyone's problems, I can't possibly tell them how much I love them or welcome them into my home to my satisfaction. The only time I feel as if I come close is when I set a plate down in front of them. There is an instant connection between us when I do and it's a thing of magic. We talk, laugh, cry, and sometimes just sigh as we chew. It's a healing thing and a loving thing. I am known for feeding people as they come into my home or mailing them treats to say I am thinking of them. It is as much a gift to me as it is from me. It nurtures something inside of me to know that I have always somehow been divinely taken care of even through some very rough patches. I want to pass that feeling of being loved along to everyone I can.
Mostly, as I stand here over these beans I am thinking about how fine of a meal I always thought I was being treated to as a child and the women around me who made them. I didn't think of it as a food I ate when we had nothing. I thought of that magical pot as a dish they loved over for hours which I anticipated eating with great excitement. To those who understand this love of beans in this way, we are rich in ways others will never understand.
Long ago in an America far away in our memories and close to our hearts there was a perfect suburban land. A place filled with happy marriages, perfectly clean houses, meals to die for on the table every night, husbands home on time, children living only for our approval and dinner parties or supper clubs with neighbors and friends we loved. At least in our heads it existed. We all know that isn't the reality but there were magical aspects of that era of life in this country. Today we buzz around as if the world is dependent on our posted opinions, our style, our ability to have it all. They aren't of course and some of us have begun to not only long for that perfect era in our head but are trying to bring back the good parts of it.
For me, I miss cooking recipes that were down to earth, flavorful, beloved by so many. I am a natural cook and a very good baker by most standards. I want to make a floating island, I want to sip a proper cocktail, I want to make jello molds with interesting flavors, I want to rejuvenate the complicated casseroles of days gone by. Go take out your old cookbooks(I collect the by the hundreds and I mean it) and read through, remember how much love we had for this food? It didn't go anywhere, we just got busy and forgot how good the food and conversation could be.
I have begun the process of beginning again to try and revive the bliss of a supper club with people I like in order to spread the love. Starting tomorrow at church I will be bringing crab canapes and a chocolate cherry sheet cake. Soon after I am holding my first supper club dinner and hoping it becomes a monthly thing everyone wants to be a part of. A place for a good meal, good conversation and a set of recipe cards to take home. A starting point for people to begin again to fall in love with home, old tablecloths, table setting, some conversation and some realness again.
In a world gone mad we need a ham casserole, maybe a baked Alaska and a proper cocktail with people to remember that during that perfect time in our retro thoughts there was also chaos but still supper clubs and dinner parties.
Why am I up at 5:30am to head out into the freezing cold to go walk on a rat wheel at the gym? Where are my keys? Did I forget to pay something? I have two grown kids who have moved out and one who can dress herself, why am I not sleeping? I have had broken sleep for at least a decade due to those precious babies, I deserve to sleep! And how in the Sam Hill did Dayve lose every inch he wanted? Oh yes, he runs. Well, I’ve been running for 24 years and I’m too damn tired to run frankly. Why do I have five pets? I’m not that old right? I really need to go to the gym, come on just get up.
This is how my morning began today and how it begins most days. I am 43 years old, with three kids of which two are grown (at least in age) and a teenager who makes me rethink not using a switch but who is also a very loving girl so I don’t beat her. I have a husband who is just the most thoughtful man on the planet but also makes me roll my eyes a lot. He also thinks I’m the best thing since sliced bread and I want to gobble him up all the time so what can I do. I also have five pets who drive me absolutely crazy, some days I want to simply open the door and let them go but love stops me. I am at a weird age in life where I should be settled, organized, in shape and well rested. I know that is what people think but come on ladies, we all know that is not reality. All of this to ask, am I the only one out here like this? There must be more of you, we are the Erma Bombeck’s of this century and we should proudly lay claim to it. We have kids who do what they want knowing full well it will make life harder. We spend money traveling instead of saving because you never know if you are going to make it until tomorrow so have fun now. We tirelessly clean only to be faced with a pile bigger than we started with. We clean up for company like the Pope is coming over for dinner. We drive ourselves nuts trying to fit into groups we don’t fit but feel we should while ignoring loved ones who just take us as we are.
This Fall, I just stopped. I stopped going to meetings, I stopped signing up and to be honest I spent two days watching “Christley Knows Best” knowing full well that not only does that man not know best but needs a kick in the pants and still, I watched. The house is not as clean, the laundry piles up a bit more but something else is happening. I am relaxing a bit. I am spending time with the teenage hormonal daughter, and laughing a lot with her. I go to bed at 8pm if I feel like it and sometimes I take a piece of cake with me as I watch mindless television. In this era that might seem odd because the world is on fire and everyone is watching to see what everyone else has. Well, those people can keep up with the Joneses but I have news for them. We are the Joneses just as Erma told us all of those years ago. So before you hurry off to Pinterest of Facebook to plan that next craft or crazy, think twice. Let some of those tasks go. Go laugh with a friend, hang out with your kids, kiss on that man of yours, have a bottle of wine, sit on the couch and relax. I guarantee you will find that those moments are some of the most important.
Rave On Middle Aged Momma’s!
My grandmother Jewel Maxine Kemp was from the tiny town of Shubuta, Mississippi. She moved to California in the sixties and brought with her every tradition from her home town and a love of all people regardless of what color their skin was or who their family was. Not a popular thing in rural Mississippi in that time. It was just who she was and she brought people around to her way of thinking by just living that way and talking to them as she fed them. Let me tell you, everyone around loved to come have a meal at Jewel's. She knew how to make something special out of whatever she had to work with. I spent years learning to garden, cook, bake, can, freeze and mostly to love on people with all of those skills. Wherever Grandma Jewel was, I was shortly behind on her heels. Her way of life is a way of life I not only love but feel needs a re birth in some places. I have spent years sharing my table, recipes and ideas with loved ones and friends. This place is just a new community to share all of that with all of you. You will find all kinds of odds and ends around here that I hope you will share with loved ones as well. I have inherited so much of myself from her and had such a wonderful time learning from her as I grew up. She has long passed on but seems to always be nearby as those around me will tell you. I hope you enjoy this work in progress as I add to it and take some ideas with you as you go.
Everywhere I turn this month is a tired person on the edge of oblivion. We walk by each other and smile, ask about the other with a reply of "fine" while inside it feels like our hair is on fire. Here in Fresno, California we have had a Summer of extreme heat, extreme drought, extreme fire and a shortage of patience for anything else coming our way. Last Friday we literally ran away because of ash and bad air to pretend we were locals at the beach. It isn't just here, it seems that stress and anxiety are running amuck everywhere these days. Finally, yesterday a dear friend said to me she could not put on one more fake smile and nice outfit to cover up the crazy. Amen Honey!
As Fall comes, it brings with it a sense of hope for a calm Winter in our house. A hope for lots of snow and rain, hot coffee with friends, baking for people we love and lots of cuddling up in the cold. This year I feel the need to invite in friends and family to come on over leaving the cream cheese smiles and fancy outfits at home. Just some time to talk and laugh about the things going on along with some encouraging words for each other to get through whatever trials we are facing. Seeing my friend just at the end of her rope made me realize how much we all need that. We need to make each other laugh, to roll our eyes together and say we'll get through. Today's technology seems to be separating us so that we just type everything in online and then out on the dog when we go out. Every part of that type of life costs us real relationships, money, stress and I bet some years off our lives too.
This year the cool months will be very different in our house. I will only be working from March to October from here on in for at least the next year. I have several friends that I have not been able to give the time and love they deserve to. My passion for all things cooking has been put on the back burner and replaced with a lot of take out. My kids needs more time with me. Most importantly, the man I love needs some pampering. I encourage all of you to have some coffee mornings with friends, have a shrimp boil, movie nights, just time with friends. You will save money, time, sanity and heartache for yourself and those you love on. We were never created to live on a rat wheel with a nice purse and a cream cheese smile. Let friends in on the trials, be who you are and just enjoy life!
I realize that I share more on Southern Hearted Facebook than I do on this poor ignored site lately but my day job is keeping me busy. I own an event planning business called Eclectic Affairs which I just love. I thought I'd share a few pictures from a recent retirement party we did with a "Gone With The Wind" theme. The client's were so sweet and I got to work with some of my favorite vendors in town!
I just wanted to thank everyone for a great year! Whether it is sharing recipes, life events or the funny bumps of life. I have really enjoyed getting to know so many of you.
Cheers to another great year!
Today is one of those days that the way I have felt for the past week has caught up with the condition of the mess here in the house. I wish I could say this is the worst of it but our bedroom looks like a teenager has moved in. How many hours a day do we women spend making things look like we picture in our minds to be the perfect home as we are sure everyone else has. Right? Sure, and this is the great lie that has driven many a woman to madness. Is it a mess or is it something else.
I see Katie's science book from the homework we did last night with a sweater on it that she needs momma's help with to get the string back in. I see drills that Dayve brought home to hang pictures for me. I see a crock pot from a great pot of stew and lots of pieces of time we spend together. So is your home such a mess or is it just a beautiful life happening? I love this family, this home, the love here, the peace here. Without the worry of what the world thinks, it is pretty much a beautiful life. Look around your home today, is it such a pit of filth or is it blissful chaos?
A few quick tips of mine that make for a quick clean up if the Pope does indeed drop by. Two laundry baskets, put all mess in it, open the closet door, put it in. Two Clorox wipes in the bathrooms and two for the kitchen, wipe and run. One mist of home spray in each room, vacuum, light a candle, pitcher of drinks. Done.
I see so many of us exhausted as I am out and about around town. We have to be sure to share a bit of our mess to let each other know that none of us are living in a magazine home and we shouldn't strive for it. We are meant to also enjoy some of the home and family we love so much. Trust me, your family will also enjoy you more if you let some things go and just have a laugh with them. Embrace the blissful chaos today...
How many of us out there start to question our sanity on those days when it seems like the house is upside down, your family wants you to just relax but the clock is ticking on so many things? Do you do what I do? I sit there for a bit thinking, “what if the house cleaning police show up or what if today is the day that Ms. Martha Stewart shows up to see if I followed her fitted sheet folding instructions?” None of this is happening, we know it isn’t but the pressure is on isn’t it?! Perhaps it is the fact that we are constantly posting pictures to social media of our lives, our need to put in our part in the home or just that someone dinged us in the head while we were tuned into Leave It to Beaver.
Today was such a day and I threw caution to the wind and didn’t accomplish anything except a day with my family in my messy house. I spent time talking casually with my husband, we took a nap in our hovel of a room, I taught Kaitlynn how to bake a blueberry crisp while Dayve prepared a great meal on the grill and we finished it all off with four hours of television featuring Wipeout and America’s Got Talent. The bedroom is still a mess, I have cleared a fire exit. The clothes are all dirty, two weeks worth of travel is still in the suitcase and the empty snack wrappers by the bed are at a bad level. Don't even get me started on the five pets littering the floors. Thanks to my afternoon nap I am the only one awake in the house and I’m looking at everything undone. Actually, I am mostly thinking about how great of a day this has been and how blessed I am.
I wish I could tell you that this my course of action every day but it isn’t. Some days I become scary mom and everyone just stays clear. Every little thing bothers me, I snap at the ones I love and I judge myself into a corner. For all of you out there who are like me and would like to tell Martha what she can do with that folded fitted sheet, laugh at the bad stuff and let it go We will never get everything done if we don’t realize what everything really is. It is the people we love and the generosity we pour out that will fill us with joy and make all of the work worth it. I say throw Martha Stewart mentality out and let Erma Bombeck's in and laugh. The house will not be quite so sparkly but our family will be happier thanks to a happier us. So rave on Momma's!
Just a woman on the edge of something every single day with a good sense of humor to assure I don't drive away Thelma and Louise style. This blog is just a way for me to share some realness with all of you.