CARBS & COMFORT

Can we talk about carbs here people?  I know for all of us battling that number on the scale,  they're somewhat taboo.  All those calories.  (sigh)  I myself avoid them whenever I can (find the will power to pass them up!)  But let's be honest--be it pasta or pastries, carbs are so deliciously satisfying and naturally comforting--sometimes they're just worth the cheat!

My Grandma Sybil was an exceptional baker.  She baked bread like nobody's business.  She came by that skill as a young girl. As the oldest daughter left at home after the death of her mother, my grandmother baked 8 - 10 loaves of bread every other day for her father, 9 siblings and a couple of farm hands, give or take.  She would mix the dough the night before, let it raise overnight, and awake at 5 a.m. the next day to knead it down and divide it into loaves.  And all this responsibility for a girl so small she had to stand on a chair to have sufficient leverage to knead her dough on the high counter!   On her "off days" she mixed up a large batch of baking powder biscuits.  She also records, "After making the bread in the morning, I also remember having to make school lunches (usually ten)  a job I disliked very much!"  Over those many years and those many loaves of bread, she certainly perfected her art--a light and tasty potato  bread with the perfect degree of crustiness to the crust.  Whether plain or toasted it was just delicious.  One of the delightful memories of my childhood is walking into our kitchen after school when Grandma was visiting.  I remember being met with the aroma of her freshly baked bread in the air and a warm piece of bread with a melting pat of butter and some homemade raspberry jam as an after school treat.  Hence, the discovery of my own favorite comfort food.

As you know, our charity is all about comfort--about giving, nurturing, satisfying, and filling even to the smallest degree some family's emptiness.  Next week you have the opportunity to contribute to this worthy cause AND enjoy some comfort *food* yourself.  Our Loaves of Love fundraiser is fast approaching.  To try any of our breads (white, wheat, and parmesan herb) or our frosted cinnamon rolls, just visit our shop to order--some for you, some for the neighbor, and definnitely some for Mother's Day dinner!  On Friday May 8, we'll be taking over the commercial kitchen at Kelly's Home Center and baking, baking, baking!  (Thank you Kelly's for your generosity!)  Pick up will be that evening from 6 - 8 p.m. at Kelly's  (3850 Hagers Grove Rd SE).  We hope to see you there!

 

THOUGHTS ON GIVING

Tis the season.  Shopping, wrapping, baking, eating, hanging the Christmas lights, wreaths and boughs; chop down the tree, decorate the tree, order the Christmas cards, address the Christmas cards; gifts for the neighbors, gifts for the co-workers, gifts for the kids' school teachers, gifts for the kids, something special for the hubbie, don't forget the in-laws and the stocking stuffers; parties and more parties, letters to Santa, visits to Santa, church pot luck, charity events, cousin gift exchange, family get-togethers, toy drives, tickets to the Nutcracker, tickets to the Messiah, the kids' winter concerts, White Christmas and Holiday Inn and The Christmas Story ("you'll shoot your eye out kid") and so very much more.  All so good (especially the baking and eating part, in my humble opinion.)  But all of this goodness can lead to a lot of other not-so-much-goodness--like extra stress, extra bills, extra migraines, extra busyness, and extra tired at bed time!

Several years ago I determined to pare down the perfection of my ideal Christmas vision and focus on what is the very most important to me and my family.  And since then I've come a long way.  Our outdoor lights may or may not go up (usually not, in perfect honesty.) Our Christmas cards may or may not go out (if not, our warm wishes to you are simply put on hold until next year when I may or may not try again.)  And our holiday events will be kept simple and to a minimum and will include what's most important to us--a celebration of the nativity story, Christmas caroling to some of our favorite "grandpas and grandmas," and meaningful family time.

Even the gift giving--as warm and fuzzy as it is--can easily be REDUCED (my children do not need more than a couple gifts under the tree!  They just don't!) and SIMPLIFIED (thank you on-line shopping.)  And although I've never lived up to my annual mantra of "this year I'm going to get my shopping done by the end of November," I am starting earlier and stressing less.  This year my siblings and I decided that we really don't need to exchange gifts with each other in order to feel connected. (Stressing out about what to get my young, hip sisters-in-law isn't really helping me feel connected anyway, is it?)   Furthermore, (confession time) someone I love is actually receiving a used coat from me this year.  Before you decide I'm horribly tacky let me just say in my defense that #1 It really is the perfect black coat.  #2  I know she loves it!  #3   It fit my budget perfectly.  and #4 It makes me happy that she will have it.

And isn't that what a gift is all about?  Making someone happy?  I think we all have this desire to give good things--especially at this time of year.  As we abound in all the goodness of the season, our awareness of those suffering sadness and stress is heightened and our desire to give increased.  Maybe, like the Grinch, all of our hearts grow a few sizes this time of year!  So here's my plug (you knew it was coming):  We have a meaningful (and simple!) way to give to those who are hurting this Christmas season.  The families we are helping are spending their first holiday season without their baby or their son or daughter or parents.   In the spirit of giving, please consider visiting our shop to see how you can help.

Happy giving!

 

 

BEGINNINGS

Our venture begins with a story.  It's a story shared over lunch among seven friends chatting about kids and work, enjoying good food and a lot of laughs.  It's the inspiring story of the 9 Nanas, as they call themselves,  and their humble beginnings as anonymous givers.  Over 30 years ago, these big-hearted  ladies began gathering at 4 a.m. to bake hundreds of  MeMaw Ruth's southern pound cakes; and these cakes, along with the money these ladies saved clipping coupons and doing their own laundry, began brightening the day of needy recipients.  The Nanas' acts of happiness ranged from an electric bill paid,  to school clothes for children,  to help at the grocery store--but always came with one of their signature cakes included in the care package.  It was a delightful story of goodness and giving.

We all returned to our homes after lunch that day, but our friend could not put this story away.  It was as if a light had turned on in her head and in her heart. If these ladies could make a difference with what they had--a great recipe--surely, we could pool our resources and make a difference as well.  But the specifics of who and how we might help were not forthcoming.  Months went by,  and this idea tumbled around in her head, urging her towards something good . . . she just wasn't sure what.

In mid 2014, our community seemed to be hit with several tragic deaths involving families--a young mother of five who lost her battle with cancer, a girl who died in a tragic accident while tunneling in the sand at the beach, and a father who was killed in a freak on-the-job accident. We all felt the sadness and heaviness of these stories, because when a sudden and unexpected tragedy strikes a family, it really strikes a whole community.  The loss is felt among friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers.  But nowhere is the heartache felt more than inside the immediate family.  The sad truth is that the shock, uncertainty, and overwhelming sense of loss can leave a person or family in a very dark place.  There is a happier truth, however, and that is even the smallest kindness has the potential to bring light.  As Shakespeare put it, "How far that little candle throws his beams!  So shines a good deed in a weary world."  And so it seemed we found our "who."

The "how" followed naturally.  A family in tragedy is not only facing the shock and heartache  of loss, but often the stress of the unplanned expense of funeral and burial services.  Our goal is to help there whenever possible.  Furthermore,  in the turmoil of the days and weeks following the death of their loved one, that family still needs to function; but in reality, even a trip to the grocery store may feel like an overwhelming task.  We deliver care packages that include essential food and hygiene items, in the hopes that one less thing "to do" may lighten their load even the smallest degree.  Additionally, we hope to minimize the financial repercussions for children who have lost a parent by providing funds to continue activities such as sports and music throughout the school year, in cases where this would otherwise not be possible.  In this way, we would hope to help maintain as much normalcy in a child's routine as possible, as well as provide an outlet for them to continue doing something they love.

Our efforts feel small--even to us--when compared to the enormity of a tragic and unexpected death of a loved one.  Nothing can erase that loss.  But we do hope to shed light on someone's darkness, to relieve a little of their stress, and simply put, to let them know someone cares.