Southern Kitchen Tools

I keep some of my favorite cooking tools in the oven. I’m referring to my iron skillets of course. I have quite a collection! My regular pots and pans took up roost in under the counter and the iron skillets always seem happy in the oven.  A friend of mine came over for a dinner party one night and needed to use the oven. I was embarrassed to have to move all of them out to make room for her stuff. She just laughed and said she said she keeps hers in her oven too!

Iron skillets in the south are surely treated like the heirlooms they are, and are passed from generation to generation. I seem to remember somebody’s husband leaving his wife’s iron skillet out in the yard when I was growing up. He had probably taken “the  scraps ” out to feed the dog and forgot to bring it back in. If that had happened in my Momma’s house, somebody would have been in BIG trouble! These heirlooms are really easy to care for one they are “seasoned”. You see, when you buy a skillet, it looks kind of rough and is dark gray. To jump start the seasoning, you need to rub some grease inside and out and put in the oven. Maybe this is why mine seem happy in there! Clean up is easy too. Just wash with soap and water. I think I’ve read to not use soap, but can’t make that leap. My beautiful skillets are jet black and shiny from use and care.  I have threatened taught my family that the skillets are never to be put in the dishwasher.

I think all of my family keepsakes tie me to those who are part of my journey. My grandmother’s quilts, my iron skillets, my hand-made wooden spoons…it is so important to remember and share the whole story. To remember my grandmothers cooking cornbread or sausage and gravy in her iron skillets, to remember my uncle so generously sharing his beautiful wood work.  To remember the time and love sewn into those beautiful quilts from my great-grandmother, grandmothers, Momma, and Marie. Family quilts…another story for another day… Want to have some cornbread for supper? Grab an iron skillet!


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What’s Around the Corner?

I gave birth to my son 18 years ago and daughter 16 years ago; I could never have guessed the range of emotions that were in store for me. I remember holding both of those precious newborns and feeling only wonder at the possibilities those little beings had in store for them. I remember cleaning up endless cheerios and spilled sippy cups. I remember toilet training and breast feeding.  I didn’t know enough to be overwhelmed at the responsibility in store for me. I remember the toddler years and the endless questions and explorations. I didn’t realize I was seeing their personalities emerge. Next came the school age years; bringing adjustments for them as well myself. The beginning of what would become the separation between them and me. They began to need me less to get drinks and snacks, but I then had to guide and counsel on how to handle themselves with teachers and peers while away from me. That separation didn’t seem painful. The first twinges were just around the corner as they entered the dreaded middle school years. As my oldest entered 6th grade, I heard horrible stories about what they learned on the bus, and in the lunch room. Luckily, they handled most what came their way with poise and courage. I’m afraid they handled it much better than I did. Poise eluded me many times giving way to fear and dread. The eye rolling and hair flipping were just signs of teen angst and discord. High school has brought birds eye views of what seems will be the frame and structure of who my kids will be when they need me even less. They are like their momma and daddy in that they learn through their mistakes. They laugh at themselves and at us. Many times, they don’t want to be with us anymore. I’m sure that a psychologist far smarter than I am calls these phases developmental stages. I don’t know much about those. In my house, we just try to enjoy the phase we are in, we try to laugh some, we cry some, and try to learn at each crossroads.

I can see the next phase down the road. The one where they only come home for visits. As Scarlet is famous for saying” Tomorrow is another day”. I just can’t imagine when my daily family life changes little by little to be less busy, to cook for one fewer at a time. I hear they come around and want the parental advice a little more as they get older. That’s fine. I just wonder how my hubs and I will handle the adjustment..

I heard someone say once,” we aren’t raising kids or teenagers, we are raising people”. What a tremendous responsibility we took on all those years ago. What a tremendous honor God gave us to love, nurture, and teach his little ones. You see, these beautiful beings were His long before they were ours. We just have to do the best we can. What crossroads have you been through with your family? Do you have any advice for me? Please…?

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Be the Good

I have heard from several friends and social media sites about a woman who wanted more than a big cake or party or trip for her 50th birthday. She wanted to give. So she did. She gave smiles, joy, surprises, and I’m guessing a whole lot of hope. After reading her story, I’m sure that she gave some very blessed people a reason to smile at the minimum. She read about a woman who celebrated her 40th birthday by doing 40 good deeds. So, Teri planned and performed 50 good deeds. I think she may have just created a whole lot of ripples of goodness. She sure does have the wheels in my head spinning. I made a list of things that I would want to do. I counted them and have nearly 40 without stopping.

I love so many things about her birthday celebration. For starters, she asked her family if they supported her. Family first. Second, she engaged her girlfriends. If that isn’t networking, I don’t know what is. Finally, and most importantly, she started something. She gave big and she gave small. She was the “good”. Way to go girl. Now, please jump over and read her story, “Be The Good”. She even designed her own logo…pretty cool, huh?

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A New Normal

I remember when my oldest nephew was born over 17 years ago, my brother-in-law telling my mother that he was just ready for his life to get back to normal.

Cover of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar"

My mother’s response has stayed with me through the years. She laughed and told him that normal was gone, replaced by a new one. After living with and loving on my kids since then, I would only add that today’s normal will likely be as different from tomorrow’s as it is from yesterday’s.

I get to meet people of all walks and stages of life in my work. The days that I get to interact with young moms are probably my favorite. Just yesterday, I got to hold a little 9 month old baby angel. She was just so trusting and cuddly. She didn’t mind that I wasn’t her momma one bit. My pride and vanity would like to believe that she thought I was special, but my experience tells me that babies that age are just that loving and trusting.

A few weeks ago, I got to meet and read to a very cute 2 year old. Her momma was very prepared and had brought along a snack. The stranger anxiety had begun to develop, but fun prevailed. We read The Very Hungry Caterpillar while she ate her fig newton. My daughter loved that book so much that my husband and I could probably still “read” it by heart. We celebrated our sweet daughter’s 16 birthday this week. When this young momma was thanking me profusely for helping her to entertain her daughter, I was thanking her for reminding me of my little girl and for helping me remember the momma I was all those years ago.

Parenting for me these days have little to do with holding children and reading. While parenting teens has proven to be a very challenging stage for us, it can also be pretty great. I ain’t gonna lie, though. Parenting teens surely isn’t for sissies. This stage requires more patience, more talking, more heartache, and most importantly, more prayer. When I interact with moms at an earlier momma stage that me, I try to give encouragement. Many times, I give a hug,  always a smile, and a word of encouragement. I also try not to tell them how much fun parenting a teen is…

Happy birthday to my sweet girl. Always know that your Dad and I are so proud of you. You have given me much to laugh about, smile about, brag about, pray about, and sometimes to cry about. I know that I have returned the favor:)


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Popsicle Sticks In the Mail

When my son was little and feeling under the weather, I’d pull out a popsicle to boost his spirits. You gotta love the simplicity of a child’s heart. Once when he was about 4 years old, he over heard me talking about my brother in-law’s father’s recent health problems. He piped up with “Mama, I wish we could send him a popsicle. That always makes me feel better. I wonder if we sent him popsicle sticks, he would feel at least a little better?”

Now that same little boy is a teenager, I have to try to remember that sweet, kind heart and try not to kill him when he acts like a teenager. I know that little boy who adored his Mama is still there. His cool factor just keeps it camouflaged! On a recent family ski vacation, he and my daughter called me at lunchtime to join them for lunch break. You see, Mama would rather stay behind to write a bit, read a bit, and explore the town a bit…more than risk life and limb skiing with her two bum knees. Anyway, I met them for a lunch that I wasn’t hungry for. What I really wanted was an apres’ ski lunch with my two favorite teenagers! A little voice in the back of my head was WHISPERING that they just wanted me to pay for said lunch…I didn’t care. I took my sunny lunch and smiled just like I did years ago when that cute Boy wanted to mail popsicle sticks to our family in law who was under the weather. Sometimes, you just need to look for the best!

Posted in Family, Parenting Teens, Parenting Toddlers | Tagged | 1 Comment