Every Hoecake is a Good Hoecake

When I first started this blog, I wrote every day.  Every day!  That amazes me now. I cut back when my kids entered school years, and we were busier. But back then I wrote about every day stuff and didn't feel the need to create a polished blog post that was social-media worthy. 

Recently I listened to a podcast on perfectionism by Emily P. Freeman. In the podcast there was a quote along the lines of, "B- work can still change lives."  (Quote from Brooke Castillo). When I heard it I said, "oooooooh" out loud. That quote should spur some thought and also some action. The transcript of Emily P. Freeman's podcast is a good read, but I encourage you to listen if you can. 

Moving forward will include some goals that are in the B minus range. 

And in the spirit of my early blogging approach - here's what's been going on: 

This past weekend, my family had a "Georgia Breakfast" aka "Mom Breakfast" to remember our mom, who passed away in 2021. While cooking, I enlisted a younger member of the family to learn how to make hoecake (southern large biscuit bread cooked in a skillet) the way mom did. While we were talking about technique, I quipped, "Every hoecake is a good hoecake." We are all in learning mode. This young man is a much more advanced cook than I am, generally. Anyway, it took about 5 hoecakes to get to one that felt right. None of us will cook just the way mom did. We will have our own spin on hoecakes, and on life, really. And that's ok. 

For those who are interested, here are the instructions for making hoecake the way Mom did. But you will put your own spin on it. 

Carolyn's Hoecake Recipe 

1/2 cup of White Lily Flour

2-3 tablespoons of cold whipped butter or grated stick butter


Oil for a skillet 

1.  Measure out about 1/2 cup of flour in a bowl. 

2.  Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of butter into the bowl.  Use a fork to mash the butter until it is pea-like in consistency. 

3. Make a well in the middle of the flour. 

4. Pour about 1/3 cup of buttermilk into the well. Use a spoon and fold the flour into the buttermilk until it starts to clump together. If it looks too dry, drizzle a little bit more buttermilk on top. Mix it very gently. It should look like a ball at this point. 

5.  Heat oil over low-medium heat until it shimmers. 

6. Put the hoecake in the skillet when the grease is hot, and push the edges around until it looks like a big pancake. 

7. Adjust heat to low so it doesn't burn on bottom and let it cook until you start to see bubbles on top. 

8. Flip. And cook until the edges look quite dry. 

9. Break off a piece, spread it with butter, and add blackberry jam if you like it.  Heaven! 

Dixie's Mistake Mac-n-Cheese

I had said I was going to make my Mom's Mac-n-cheese for Easter dinner. It's an excellent recipe, and many people online have tried it and made it their go-to recipe. 

Unfortunately, the canned milk I had was beyond the best-buy date, and it looked off, so I had to scrap that plan. I *did* have regular milk, though, so tried to add some ingredients to recreate the creaminess of the canned milk. I figured *more cheese* and a little butter might make a difference. My sister said it was good, so I wrote down what I think I did and will try to make it again sometime.

Dixie's Mistake Mac-n-Cheese

5 cups milk 

2 cups Velveeta cheese, cubed 

1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

1 and 1/2 cups of grated Colby-Jack


1 pound cooked pasta (medium shells)

Ritz crackers and/or saltine crackers, crushed (around a sleeve's worth)

1/4-1/3 cup melted butter. 

  1. Grease an oblong 9 x 13 glass baking dish. 
  2. Bring large pot of water to boil and cook shells according to instructions. 
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the milk over low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until all the cheese is melted and it is a sauce. 
  4. Drain pasta, then pour back in pot, OFF HEAT. 
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until very well combined so that sauce is inside all the shells. 
  6. Let pasta cool somewhat in the pot so it is NOT boiling hot (15 minutes or so).
  7. Pour pasta and sauce into greased glass pan.
  8. Mix crushed cracker crumbs and melted butter together well. 
  9. Sprinkle cracker crumbs evenly on top of the macaroni and cheese
  10. Bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes, until the crumbs are browned and crispy. 

A Different Izannah Walker Doll Boy in Progress

I shifted focus and decided finish this doll for the "John Thayer's Cousins" challenge. It is an early pressed cloth experiment. I'm finishing this one for a completion of a trade with another artist. When he's done he will go to live at her house. 

I have a few other dolls in process and two non-Izannah swaddling dolls I want to make. 

An Izannah Walker Inspired Boy Doll

Another project in the works is an Izannah Walker inspired boy doll, inspired by John Thayer. This is a creative prompt the MAIDA Creatives group is doing - not to make exact copies of John Thayer, but to make a doll that has a feature or two. Like a cousin. These are composition shoulderheads I made from a mold of my antique Izannah Walker doll. The doll on the left needs fine-tuning in the hair and eyes and skin tones. The head on the right has barely begun the process. I need to make torsos, but thankfully I made limbs last year so I am half-way there on these dolls. 

Seed Saving, Artistically

This week I painted over a painting panel which was made at an art party years ago. I kept some of the marks from the original painting, trying to "save seeds" to bring forward in the painting, and actually, in life as well. I enjoyed doing some mark-making.To celebrate Valentine's Day, I painted a big ol' heart on it, because I knew my son would enjoy that. I will probably sand the panel down at a future date and re-gesso it and use it for something different. But it's good to prime the artistic pump.  Other than doll-making, I haven't done painting in a long time. 

Happy New Year! Time to GOOTH and SPIP!


I wrote a blog post about a year ago that I needed to GOOTH (get out of the house) more. You can read that post here:  https://www.northdixiedesigns.com/2021/12/gooth.html  I want to carry that goal forward into 2023, and also do more of seeing people in person (SPIP). I have a thing for acronyms. This year I went to some events where I met people in person that I had only known through online forums. And that was super fun! But I also want to see/meet more people in person here at home. The pandemic, parental illnesses, caregivers for my son moving away and friends moving away have resulted in some isolation that I want to change. That means meeting more people. Time to dip my toe in the water. 

Completing Circles: 

Approaching 60 brought thoughts about completing circles.  Last year I completed a circle to make an Izannah Walker doll totally from cloth. I sold the first large doll Anna, the first of the Hopestill Clan, to a long-time collector of my work. It was my first one, but not the last. This is something I will bring forward into the new year. 

Some circles I want to complete are dependent on other people and systems. Seeing my adult son who is disabled have the infrastructure of supports he needs to build a good life in place is important. I will have more to say on this, eventually. There are some tiny lights of hope that I hope will grow. 

Focusing on "the Good Right Now"

Against this background, focusing on the *good right now* is necessary (but also difficult). So that's a goal going into this next year.  To immerse myself in some processes - sculpting, painting, making, cooking, and enjoy those things without thought of time. A big job, but there it is. 

Not Feeling Christmasy?
Remember Christmas in 5 Ways

I repost this every year early in December because *I* need to read it.
But it seems to resonate with others, too.
God bless you all.  

(This is a repost from Christmas 2011, but I thought it bears repeating). 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook that
 he was not feeling very Christmas-y. 

I replied, 
"Define Christmas-y."

I'm not trying to discount his feelings.  What I mean is,  

"What makes you feel like it's Christmas?"

When we don't feel Christmasy it's because we're comparing our "now" with some memory from the past or some image that's presented in society. And often it doesn't measure up. Sometimes we have real reasons that we're feeling the Christmas blues. Maybe we're lonely or depressed. Maybe we're overwhelmed and harried.

Many years ago, when my son who is autistic was small, I had to adjust my views of Christmas. In my growing up, Christmas was about a big toy opening fest on Christmas Day. I thought I would bring that to my family tradition when I had kids. But my son at the time had no interest in toys. So shopping for Christmas presents highlighted that the path we were traveling was a different one, and I didn't know the way. Sometimes I still feel that twinge when I walk the toy aisles. Going to Christmas events was either impossible or very hard when my son was young. My husband and I spent quite a few family Christmas parties off in another room sitting under a blanket with my son, who was completely overwhelmed. I was sad during this time. And I felt lonely. This wasn't the expected path. I had to come to terms that the Christmas season for us was going to be different from what I had envisioned. It wouldn't be a recreation of my childhood Christmases. (Edit added in December 2021 - my son really enjoys presents and Christmas now! He especially loves family gatherings.)

Here's the manger scene 
as set up by our son with autism....
I'm not changing it. 

Yesterday I saw a friend at the grocery store who wasn't going to be able to do all the things that Christmas brings because of a busy work schedule.  My suggestion to her?

Pick 5 Things to Do

Pick 5 things to do that if you don't do them it doesn't feel like Christmas. And forget the rest. That list will be different for everyone.

Here's our list:
  1. Get a Christmas tree and decorate it as a family.
  2. Listen to and sing Christmas carols.  Pandora.com is great for this.  Type in your favorite Christmas carol, your favorite artist and listen to lots of wonderful Christmas songs.  
  3. Hang lights.   This year we hung some colored outdoor lights that remind me of the giant ones that used to hang at Granddad's house when I was very small.
  4. Make cookies and/or cinnamon dough ornaments.
  5. Read the biblical Christmas story at Bible Gateway.   Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 1:26-38; Luke 2:1-20.  
Of course, there's more. I didn't put presents in, and we do that. But you get the idea. Make a list that is YOUR list of what preparing for Christmas means. For some people, it means putting up 12 Christmas trees around their house. For others, it means volunteering.   

Accept Your Un-Christmasy Feelings    

Accept that in this year, you may feel like the tired shepherds away in the fields working the graveyard shift. You may feel like Joseph trying to find a place for his family to sleep in a strange city. Or like Mary, waiting and wondering what is to come. Perhaps you're the harried innkeeper trying to wedge in another paying customer. Or maybe you are like old Simeon and Anna, who had been waiting a long, long time for the birth of the promised Messiah.

Christmas still came for all of those people,
despite how they were feeling. 

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden