2014 in Review

2014 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,000 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Heritage and Husk

Heritage and Husk

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RM and I spent Thanksgiving week in Charleston, South Carolina.  We ate our way across the city at many fine restaurants and were impressed that a city of just over 100,000 folks could support so many great dining experiences.  We loved FIG but our favorite place was HUSK.  The executive chef is Sean Brock who was raised in rural Virginia but he has a passion for Southern foods especially preserving and restoring heirloom ingredients.  Centrally located in historic downtown Charleston, in a two-story antebellum structure, Husk is the newest restaurant from James Beard Award-winning Chef Sean Brock.

The menu is full of Lowcountry ingredients found in this region of mostly flat or rolling hills of South Carolina bordered on the east by the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and to the west by the Piedmont or Midland areas of the state.  Ingredients like Local Benne Seed, or Sesame, which flavors a Benne and Honey Lacquered Duck with Pickled Blueberries and Chanterelles and Crispy Pork Collar gets paired with Cornbread Purée and Greasy Beans. Other innovative examples include Sassafras Glazed Pork Ribs with Pickled Peaches and Rev Taylor Butter Beans; House Cured Country Ham Tasting with Acorn Griddle Cakes; and Rabbit-Pimento Loaf with Husk Mustard, Pickles and Rice Bread.

Some of Brock’s favorite lowcountry ingredients are Carolina gold rice, bacon, ham, lard, bourbon, buttermilk, hot sauce, benne seeds, Charleston hot peppers, sumac, wild licorice and Velveeta.  Yes, Velveeta.  For a holiday present, RM bought me Brock’s cookbook, Heritage.  I was reading the book yesterday (yes, I read cookbooks like a best-selling novel) and ran across a recipe for My Grandmother’s Hillbilly Black Walnut Fudge.  The key ingredient in this fudge is Velveeta cheese – a lot of Velveeta cheese.  Brock refers to it as “processed whey” and as an heirloom ingredient (I think with tongue in cheek).

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Here is the recipe if you dare to try it.

1 pound Velveeta cheese cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 pound unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Four 1 pound boxes confectioner’s sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup chopped black walnuts

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Melt Velveeta and butter in a double boiler until smooth and combined. Add vanilla.  Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and cocoa and add nuts.  Add the sugar mixture to the Velveeta mixture.  Pour into a 9 by 13 inch pan (spray with nonstick baking spray first). Refrigerate for 8 hours uncovered so that moisture won’t form on top (eww!).  Cut into 88 1-inch squares and enjoy (if you can block out the idea of that much Velveeta).

I don’t think I will try this one but there are some other equally interesting recipes in the cookbook for items such as Herb Oil, Green Goddess Dressing, Chocolate Alabama Stack Cake, Hoecakes and more.  If ever in Charleston, make dining at Husk a required stop on your itinerary.  There is one in Nashville too.  I didn’t see the fudge on the menu.

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Picture of Hillbilly Black Walnut Fudge

John Edward Hauck

John Edward Hauck

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John Edward Hauck and Alameda Spangler Hauck

My brother, Tom, is officially now a grandpa.  The grandson was named Corbin John Hauck and is a welcome addition to the Hauck Family Tree.  The name John is one found in a long line of men named John Hauck in my father’s (John Harold Hauck) lineage.  I thought it would be important to share a little history about what I have learned about one of these Johns.

John Edward Hauck, my dad’s grandpa, was born on July 28, 1870 in Rebersburg, Pennsylvania and moved to Newton, Kansas, as a young man with his family. My aunt Lilburne Kaiser described John Edward as 5’3″ tall with black hair and brown eyes.  She said he was “average in schooling and later in managing affairs.” With a Pennsylvania Dutch background he was a good farmer and later a mail carrier.

He married Alameda Spangler on November 17, 1897.  She was the daughter of Simon Spangler who fought at Gettysburg as a First Sargeant in the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers.  John Edward and Alameda or “Meda” were married in the home of the bride’s parents.  Only relatives were in attendance.  Meda’s dad Simon at the time was the county clerk and was highly esteemed in her circle of friends; most likely due to his military service.

John Edward was prosperous young farmer of Darlington Township at the time of their marriage. They were married for 31 years.  They had two children named Faye Hauck Kaiser and Lawrence Edward Hauck (my grandfather) who both lived the majority of their lives in Newton, Kansas. John Edward left the farm and moved his family into Newton to the East Fourth Street family home and became a postman. His daughter recalls once riding with her father in the horse and buggy after delivering the mail when the horse became frightened by a passing train which then equally frightened both little Faye and her father.  John Edward was a letter carrier from 1904-1927.

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The letter carrier at work.

The home on Fourth Street was passed onto my grandfather and is the home we visited as children during holidays and summer vacations. It is set so close to the Santa Fe railroad tracks that the house shakes on its tiny foundation and lights up like a Christmas tree at night when the trains passed by.  This home was one of three owned by family members on the block.  Simon Spangler and his wife lived at one of end of the block, their daughter, Lyda Peck lived next door with her family and John and Meda Hauck resided in their house at the other end of the block. This is the home that my dad, John Harold, lived in as a child with many fond memories. The younger generation were welcome in all of these homes.

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Their home on 4th Street, Newton, Kansas.

At age 49, John Edward’s wife Meda died in Topeka, Kansas, while in the Kansas State Hospital.  She chose to end her life after experiencing deep depression. During the last months of her life, Meda was deeply concerned by the failing health of John due to serious breathing problems.  John Edward had quit his postal carrier job due to poor health in 1927 and needed some time in the hospital.  She wrote to her daughter in 1927:  “Some days I think I can’t stand this terrible anxiety another day.  I get all discouraged when he has the spells of pain…seems I never can never be happy again till he is well.  I am just sick that I can’t do for you (and your wedding) as I hoped to be planning some blow out or a shower.”  John Edward wrote to his wife while she was staying with her daughter, Faye.  “Mamma, seriously I am praying that you will try your best to get well. Think of all the good things we have and how good our Heavenly Father has been to us.”  Meda was buried in Newton in 1928 and her daughter at the time was six month’s pregnant with their first grandson.  Two months later on July 28, 1928, on his 58th birthday, John Edward Hauck died after “experiencing congested lungs, and poor heart action although it was noted he was quite cheerful in the hospital considering his condition and recent loss.”

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Faye Hauck Kaiser, Alameda Spangler Hauck, Lawrence Edward Hauck and John Edward Hauck.

Family memories of John Edward describe him as a man who was seldom moody, a bit stubborn, who kept his feelings to himself.  He was a “good mixer”, enjoyed talking to people and proved to be a leader. Meda and John’s passings in 1928 left Faye, their only daughter (29),  and my grandfather (20) in the necessary state to forge somehow ahead which happily resulted in a close bond between their families which they cherished over many years and decades until Faye passed away in 1977 just two years before my grandfather’s passing.   We loved visiting the elegant Aunt Faye, and appreciated the nice designer touches in her modest home at Friendly Acres including an electric organ that she entertained us with often when we visited.  She made incredible peppermint cream cheese candies from scratch – pretty pink and green patties imprinted with beautiful stamp patterns.  Almost too pretty to eat.

To life – to all the Johns – to Corbin John.

Tips for hosting a household

Tips for hosting a household

Don’t use the coffee grinder before 8 a.m.

Instead wake guests up to the smell of bacon and biscuits.

Let them help you when they offer. Don’t get annoyed if they don’t because they are on vacation. If by the 3rd day they don’t, start making assignments and delegating tasks.

Have meals options in mind so you select one that is manageable with the varying plans for the day. Because plans will change and you want to be nimble. There is always good take-out options like Railhead, Central Market and Albertson’s Chicken.

Set up a dessert table and just add an item from time to time this week, You don’t need to make a dessert for every meal. Always offer fresh fruit.

Don’t let your guests get hangery (angry brought on by low blood sugar) so have soup and sandwiches on hand for easy prep and changing time zones.

Stock up on t.p., towels and other essentials including over the counter medicines. Out of town guests have to adjust to Texas weather and cuisine (the fried variety).

Offer gift wrap, tape, etc. because if you fly today it is easier to wrap presents at your final destination.

Display electronic device chargers in every room for easy access.

Offer your laundry facilities explicitly…show them how the washer and dryer works. Explain away the annoying squeaking dryer sounds–they didn’t break it, RM just hasn’t had time to fix it yet. Yes, it sounds like nails on a blackboard. Just turn up the holiday music.

Think casual meals like hot dog bar or small plates to mix it up a bit and keep your food prep costs down.

Keep the traditions but try to make them healthier. Choose real green beans instead of canned for GBC (green bean casserole) and add a leafy dark green salad to the menu.

Make sure you have a commode plunger on hand as Ashland plumbing is old school. Keep a light on. Let Kat out.

Make a memory and drink lots of water. To a healthy and happy holiday season!

Content and Grateful

Content and Grateful

My life is amazing.  I believe that happiness fuels success, not the other way around.  When we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient and productive. I believe that genes and environment will define your happiness, unless you make a conscious change in your mindset and habits. In the end, happiness is not the belief that we don’t need to change.  It is the belief that we can.  I know that many people suffer from depression and that is different than what I am suggesting about choosing happiness.  Depression is a medical illness, not a sign of weakness.  And it’s treatable.

This blog has become a way of keeping me happy. Researchers from Brigham Young and several other universities divided more than 100 people into groups, and asked everyone to keep a daily journal for four weeks. While one group was instructed to write only about positive experiences for which they were grateful, another group wrote generally about their day. Compared to people who wrote more generally, the grateful journal keepers experienced significant boosts in happiness and life satisfaction. Keeping a blog helps me savor my positive experiences, which enhances the impact on my overall outlook, the study explains.

But that’s not all. When the study participants also called a friend or loved one to share their positive journal entries, their gains in happiness and life satisfaction doubled and sometimes even tripled.  So thank you to those that read my blog and share your reflections because it makes me so happy.  What else makes me happy?

  1. Two weeks of holiday break ahead of me to enjoy with friends and family.
  2. A warm and happy home.
  3. A healthy husband and three healthy children.
  4. A healthy me.
  5. Time to breathe.
  6. Purposeful work.
  7. Great friends.
  8. Ability to travel.
  9. Freedom to stay home.
  10. Experience
  11. Not sweating the small stuff like… Did I shave my legs? Has that baby spit-up been on my top all day? Will I get that opportunity? Am I doing what I need to be doing? Am I a good mother?
  12. The “shoulds” in my head are quieter.
  13. Memories.
  14. An exercise pattern.
  15. Kat.

The holiday season is full of expectations so be ginger with them and be mindful of the media that can distort the mind. So take care of your emotional, physical and spiritual well-being.  If you don’t look after it, who will?

What makes you happy?

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Aunt Lil Came Today

Aunt Lil Came Today

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My Aunt Lil  as a young mother and my cousin Marlynn with the beautiful red hair.  I was jealous.  Love the matchy-matchy and I bet my Aunt sewed the outfits.  She was DIY before her time.

My oldest known living relative on my father’s side of the family is my Aunt Lil.  Her given name is Lilburne Ruth Kaiser.  She is my 1st cousin once removed.  Aunt Lil was born in September of 1930 and recently celebrated her 84th birthday in New York City with her daughter, Marlynn. Marlynn lives in the north Dallas area so from time to time I get to see them both and catch up on news. On this visit, I wanted to engage her in our genealogy research to further explore the Hauck-Kaiser branches with both.  I think I have run into a gold mine of information.  Aunt Lil has written books about her family including one about her dad, Franklin Kaiser, her mother, Faye Kaiser, and of herself, her family and her hobbies.  She makes doll houses, is an art history buff, and has collected hats from all over the world that tell a story and captures a moment in history through a very unique lens. I shared with them both the information C1 and I have completed in the tree and she was most aghast at the picture I had selected of her for her profile.  She thought she looked ridiculous as it was taken in high school when she was tall for her age and “too skinny” as she put it.  We will get that situation corrected lickety-split as no one likes their picture of their tween years.  I thought she looked beautiful.

Here are a couple of unique points she shared with me about our family:

1.  She misses her telephone conversations with my dad very much as they were close cousins growing up in each other’s houses in Newton, Kansas.

2.  My dad picked her up once and threw her over his shoulder just because he could and she still remembers it to this day.  They were both young adults at the time.

3.  My dad and her brother tried to peek in on her when she was taking a bath as a young girl.  She didn’t like that at all.

4. Her dad was a minister and died at a fairly young age of leukemia.

5. She married Donald Theuer in 1952 and they had a daughter and two sons.  The boys were adopted.

6. She lived in Africa for many years with her husband and children but settled in Nashville.

7. She has traveled all over the world and is thinking about where she wants to go to next.

8. Her two sons died in the last few years of complications from hepatitis C; contributed to tattooing and not taking good care of themselves.

9. She remarried after her first husband died.  Her second husband’s name is Bill Senn and they reside in South Carolina.

10. She plays the piano and co-authored a song with my grandfather.  He wrote the lyrics and played the trombone.  She wrote the music and accompanied him on the piano.

She has been to Germany to research the Kaiser family history with no success.  No one from these families will talk with her and she suspects it is because her great-grandfather fled Germany as a stow-away on a ship to escape the war. She even hired a researcher to help her to no avail. His relatives in Germany likely consider him a traitor – that is her theory.  He arrived in Canada but settled in Minnesota. Her grandfather, August Kaiser, fought in WWI as an American and was gassed. Her dad fought in WW2.

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Aunt Lil is the little girl in the front row.  My dad is next to her in the middle of the kids – something is going on between those three.

Aunt Lil promises to send me copies of information she has collected over the years including copies of her books.  I can’t wait for the package to arrive.  My cousin, Marlynn, promised to help her Mom navigate through ancestry.com and I look forward to seeing their additions to our tree.

I left them at the Kimbell this afternoon after enjoying a too quick-lunch at the buffet.  They were headed to the Faces of Impressionism exhibit which she was so looking forward to seeing.  Love you, Aunt Lil, and so happy you came today.

12 Days of Ashland

12 Days of Ashland

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me
A little cottage on Ashland with a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the fifth day of
Christmas my true love gave to me
Five golden Rahr beers
Four ceilings fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms and a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Six organic chickens a laying
Five golden Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Seven residents a swimming in the hot tub
Six organic chickens a laying
Five golden Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Eight neighborhood kids playing knock knock
Seven residents a swimming in the hot tub
Six organic chickens a laying
Five golden Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Nine ladies protesting for equal pay
Eight neighborhood kids playing knock knock
Seven residents a swimming in a hot tub
Six organic chickens a laying
Five Rahr Beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Ten lords making dinner
Nine ladies protesting for equal pay
Eight neighborhood kids playing knock knock
Seven residents a swimming in a hot tub
Six organic chickens a laying
Five Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Eleven people putting up lights
Ten lords making dinner
Nine ladies protesting equal pay
Eight neighborhood kids playing knock knock
Seven residents a swimming in a hot tub
Six organic chickens a laying
Five Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree
On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Twelve neighbors helping neighbors
Eleven people putting up lights
Ten lords making dinner
Nine ladies protesting equal pay
Eight neighborhood kids playing knock knock
Seven residents a swimming in a hot tub
Six organic chicken s a laying
Five Rahr beers
Four ceiling fans
Three bedrooms
Two bathrooms
And a buzzard in a sycamore tree