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My Favorite Things … What’s Keeping Me Sane

Living through a Pandemic was certain not on my wish list but here we are. While I try to keep an upbeat attitude, my first inclination is go dark but I’ve learned that doesn’t accomplish a thing.

Keeping busy with things that interest me is key. I have a long list of ‘to-dos’ that I have been ignoring so … get on it, Cathy! There is yardwork and garden preparation, closets to be cleaned, Shutterfly books to finish, genealogy research to be done, etc. I try to accomplish a little of this each day but self-care and personal connection is most important.

This is day 13 of self isolation except for a very protected trip to get my allergy shot (extreme tree pollen allergies) and porch delivery of my Mom’s chicken and noodles to my girls and their families.

Each day the weather cooperates, I try to go on a long walk. Seeing neighbors outside playing with their children, sitting on their front porch or simply waving to neighbors warms my heart.  The two best experiences while walking were 1) encountering a family of dinosaurs with Mom and little daughter in full dinosaur costumes and Dad in a mask; 2) completing a chalk lava field drawn by a child on their sidewalk.  I love to see such creativity!

Talking with my girls and my grandchildren is saving me, too.  My grandchildren are ages 6, 4, 3 and 1.  The opportunity to read books, have dance parties, and just play via video chat is a wonderful capability that we all can enjoy.  Talking with friends, Virtual yoga with my Hot Flash yoga pals, virtual happy hour with our local winery, and family Zoom sessions also help to keep me connected.

I’ve not been to the store since Friday, March 13 but I have plenty to eat.  My Mother taught us to always have a full pantry and freezer and now is the time to use it!  To conserve on eggs, I’ve shifted my daily egg to a breakfast cake I’m loving with a dollop or yogurt!



BREAKFAST CAKE


2 mashed bananas
1.4 cups oatmeal
2 beaten eggs
3 cups berries (fresh, frozen or canned/drained–even less works just fine)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

  • Mix together and placed in greased pan (about 8×10″) and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cut in squares.
  • I heat a square of breakfast cake in the microwave for 20 seconds and then add a dollop of Greek Yogurt. So yummy!

This experience causes me to think back to the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and the hardship of those times.  What did our ancestors do in quarantine, usually with a multitude of children and no chance of grocery delivery or the care of today’s modern medicine.  My Grandma Susie would be slaving over a hot wood cookestove in a very tiny house, with 4 little kids running underfoot.  To my knowledge, no one in our family died during that time but I do not know who may have contracted the disease, either.  

A friend shared with me that her Grandmother had written a journal during the time of the Spanish Flu and she has been reading it.  It prompted her to start a journal for her grandchildren.  What a great idea! I am not a journal kind of person, but this is such a unique time in our lives, that I think it is important to document what this experience has been like.  Perhaps we can actually learn from our mistakes in the future.

In closing let me thank everyone who is sacrificing their own safety to care for the people of the United States. You are our true heroes!

God Bless and Stay Well!

 

Family · Holidays · Home · Humor

Aunts and Uncles…storytelling…treasures of the family

Aunts and Uncles are a bit like Grandparents.  They get to spoil the nieces and nephews, shower them with affection and love, and leave when they are amped up on sugar and fun.  It’s a good gig! I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and two nephews. It was wonderful having playmates and helping out my older sister and brother. A highlight of every year was when they came to stay with us and go to Bible School at the rural Carlton Brethren Church, a half mile from our house. There were sticker charts, ice cream, indoor picnics, dress-up (sorry Jeff and Duane), and so many stories!

Aunt Cathy and Sherri
Aunt Cathy and Sherri

sherri duane and jeff christmas about 1969

After college I moved out-of-state and was always sad not to be closer to my family but treasured each of the visits back to see everyone. I was very fortunate to have wonderful Aunts and Uncles as well.  Not all of them lived close but my siblings and I always knew we were loved with the hugs/kisses that went with their visits.

At this state of my life, I have 3 Aunts and 1 Uncle.  Uncle Jack will be 90 this month and planning a big celebration.  Aunt Joyce (Jack’s wife) turned 86 in February. Aunt Lora (also my Mother’s BFF in school) turned 94 this year. Aunt Wilma will turn 100 next June.  From these wonderful people I learned the importance of family/loyalty, laughter, music, traditional dishes prepared for holidays and family gatherings.

Several years ago, when camcorders were new to the market, we traveled to Iowa with our newborn daughter to celebrate Christmas.  Christmas Eve day several of my family members were visiting at my Mother’s House.

Cathy and Uncle Jack
Cathy and Uncle Jack

We turned on the camcorder asked our family members ‘what is your favorite Christmas memory?’  I tear up just thinking about it.  The heart-warming, loving, funny, and sarcastic stories were great at the time but are true treasures now.

Stories
Stories (Photo credit: Enokson)

This holiday season let’s spend our time BEING PRESENT and sharing stories for our children and grandchildren to treasure.   Break out the smart phone and make a video, perhaps the best PRESENT of the season!

What’s your story?

My Roots

Cooking from the heart

Once upon a time, a little girl named Cathy sat in her Mother’s kitchen in rural Iowa, watching her Mother make amazing dinners every night with items from the garden or raised on their farm.  The smell of baking bread, when walking through the door after school, is forever engrained in my memory.  My Mother would tell stories about the food she was preparing and memories of her childhood and my Grandmother’s cooking.

I come from a long line of great cooks who cooked from the heart.  A pinch of this. A pinch of that.  My Mother was one of six children raised in a 5 room home.  Grandma Susie cooked all of her meals over a wood cookstove with all water coming from a water pump.  Just think what she could do with today’s conveniences.

Recipes and sharing of recipes is truly a gift for our families.  It brings us together to create memories and traditions.  Even in the hustle bustle of career and family commitments, this is a tradition I hold dear.

After several years, I compiled a cookbook for my family and close friends including my favorite recipes and short memories of many dishes.  Little did I know that my daughters would cherish these comments. The picture below is the cover of my cookbook and captures daughters Megan and Sarah helping to make a cake when they were little girls.  They loved to be a part of the process, especially when it came to a dessert and licking the bowl.

In addition, I started a family Christmas newsletter several years ago that always included a special recipe.  Friends and family have commented each year about how much they look forward to the newsletter and have adopted recipes shared as some of their favorites.

After retiring last year from a corporate sales leadership position, my daughters encouraged me to take my stories and recipes to the web.  I hope that you will join me on this journey and become an active part of this website and discussion.  What stories can you recall from wonderful aromas and occasions in your family?  What stories and traditions is your family weaving?