As promised (although much later in the day than intended), this post begins a weekly series of interviews with my mom, Queen Martha. Growing up in our house, the holidays came and went with only an occasional mess or even disturbance. Picture Ralphie & A Christmas Story – and that’s how I remember most Christmases growing up. How my mom pulled it all off was always a mystery to me – and to others.Martha is well-known for her cooking & baking skills. She has a way with food – and there are only a handful of dishes -ever-that failed to turn out right. She would claim otherwise I’m sure, but she managed to keep us all heartily fed and was always creative in the kitchen.
Now, with her kids grown and having their own families – she has more time to pursue broader interests. She has found her recipes in published cookbooks, articles included in Christian stories, and is becoming a popular speaker at ladies events in her area.
1) I’d like to start off by asking you to tell us a little bit about yourself, Queen Martha.
I wear a lot of ‘hats’ in my world, but my favorites are wearing my wife, mom & nana hats. What a privilege to be given those special places of honor. When I was a kid, my mom spent much time at the sewing machine, so I would work in the kitchen. I developed a love for making dishes then, and even more, after marrying a man who is willing to try anything, and then enjoying hosting company, who enjoyed the recipes I shared. It’s just kinda snowballed since then.
God has given me the gift of encouragement, and so I spend a few hours a day at the computer, along with several hours a week, at the dining room table, where I enjoy writing out cards to mail to help brighten days for dear ones in my life.
I had a story published in Christian Miracles…Amazing stories of God’s Helping Hand in Our Everyday Lives in 2005. I won $100 for a recipe contest in American Profile – a paper magazine distributed in newspapers nationally – for butternut squash bake in 2006. That, plus 4 other recipes of mine were included in their Holiday Cookbook in 2007. I’ve publicly shared our life’s ‘God-story’ a few times, and have spoken for Mother’s Day dinners and also shared encouragement ministry ideas./span>
I love to say “I’m not a professional speaker, but I AM a professional talker”.
2) What are your favorite childhood Christmas memories? What are your favorite Christmas memories as a mom?
I do think my most favorite Christmas memory as a child is the year I realized there wasn’t a Santa. My mom had made my older foster sister and me matching plaid nighties, and it dawned on me (though I hadn’t had a glimpse of her making them, that SHE made them. I was probably 10 or 11.) Holidays celebrated with the aunts and uncles on both/either sides of the families are special memories also. I’ve always been so saddened that my own children missed out on those growing up times with family that I so enjoyed…since we were military and lived far from home. We rarely had $funds$ to make it home for the holidays very often.
My favorite Christmas as a mom is tough – I loved them all. Having my children help as we ‘worked’ together doing the decorating was always so much fun. The music going, the candles burning, as we sampled goodies we’d already made….those are all my favorites.
3) What are your favorite things to do during the holiday season? How do you prepare for them? What tips & tricks can you share about making your preparations simple and time-saving?
I LOVE baking – trying new recipes, a few times a week, and sharing the goods. I begin stocking up on baking items – chocolate chips, nuts, brown and powdered sugars, etc. when they’re on sale – probably beginning in October. I usually have an extra 5# bag of flour in the freezer, so I don’t run short at the last minute. Shopping with coupons, especially with store sales, and shopping at discount stores like Aldi’s, Big Lots, or Sam’s Club can really help me get stocked up.
I keep a few lists going at once….I have a running grocery list…I taught my kids when they were younger, to add to the list when they used the last of something, and that really helped keep on top of things.
Now, that I no longer have those ready and helping hands, every day at least, I keep a list handy where I can write things down when I realize I’m almost out. I like to have the salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, out on the counter ready to be measured. After I’ve used it, I set it on a different place in the counter, so I know it’s already been used…just in case I get interrupted in the middle of what I’m doing.
Because I have many cookbooks, and love to sit and read them, I keep a running list of recipes I want to try, with cookbook name, and page number handy, so when the mood strikes, I can review my list and decide which one would work best for my time frame.
I do have a kitchen drawer full of recipe files and collected recipe cards that I use most frequently. It’s where I also keep my most recent cookbook magazines. And I normally have a pile of recipes on the countertop…sometimes I need to see the recipe to be reminded of it, and that seems to work for me, since I do have enough countertop to do that.
Queen Martha, thanks for taking the time to answer my intro questions. Next week we will get more detailed about how you manage your goody-making or baking times in preparation for the holidays, what are your favorite gift-giving ideas to make, and any shorcuts, tips, and tricks you’ve learned throughout the years. Maybe you’ll even share some of your favorite recipes with us!!!
In the weeks to follow, we will be sharing favorite holiday recipes, simple gift-giving ideas, and more as we all prepare for the holiday season and celebrating the Birth of Christ with our family and friends! Feel free to post questions or comments as we go along!