The Hidden Garden

I almost forgot to let you all know that The Hidden Garden, my newest children’s picture book is now a real-live Something! No longer a computer file, or a hope, or a wish. It’s been transformed into ink and paper and a book to hold and share!

This is a pretty exciting thing for an author. (…and a baker’s daughter…)

Here is the cover.

Hidden Garden (cover only)

And here is a summary of the book.

Within every heart is a hidden garden. We can neglect it until the weeds take over and the flowers wither and die. Or, with the help of Christ, we can care for it and make it a place of beauty, grace, and joy.

This charming parable will encourage children (and adults) to open the gate to Christ and tend the garden of their heart with loving care.

And here is a picture of me holding lemons–just because.

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And here is what three very nice people have to say about the book…

…just beautiful! So simple yet profoundly moving. This is exactly the view of salvation I want my children to absorb. The list of ways to open the gate of our heart at the end of the book are applicable to children and adults alike. Literature that makes me want to be a better human being is truly a gift.

–Molly Sabourin, author of Close to Home, podcaster, blogger, and professional photographer

The garden is much more than a metaphor in the Christian faith. It is a sacrament. Jane Meyer has not so much written a new parable as transcribed–in the simplest prose for the very young–the heart of the Gospel. The Hidden Garden is a beautifully written book and a vibrant bouquet of color from the hand of illustrator Masha Lobastov.

–Vigen Guroian, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and author of The Fragrance of God

Those who read this colorful book will realize that it is never too early–or too late–to care for one’s heart as for a garden.

–Jim Forest, author of Saint George and the Dragon

So, if you’re interested in finding out more, just hop on over to my website and check out The Hidden Garden book page. There’s also a fun link to an interview with Masha Lobastov, the illustrator.

And I’m on Twitter. And on Instagram. And on Facebook. (Sheesh, that’s a line up of ridiculousness right there…)

You can purchase copies at the Conciliar Press website, and pretty soon Amazon and other online sites will be stocking it. You may always head over to your local bookstore with the ISBN number: 978-1-936270-38-5, and they can order you a copy as well…

Lastly, if you’d like a signed copy of the book, for yourself, or for a little one, just email me and I would be happy to sign a book and ship it straight to you. They are $20, including stateside shipping (let’s chat if you live outside the States). Easter is coming and this sweet book would be lovely tucked in a basket next to those dyed eggs and bunny finger puppets.

Back to baking. Rosemary rolls on the rise!

Stealthy Valentine’s Giving!

Step One: Mix dough for chocolate shortbread cookies.

Step Two: Let the little one cut out the hearts, then bake.

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Step Three: Wrap the cookies, make a little heart-shaped Happy Valentine’s Day note, tie with red ribbon.

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Step Four: Put the gifts in a sweet little handmade bag for carrying.

Step Five: Scope out the neighborhood and make a plan (we decided to leave treats for those folks on our block who are single and live alone–plus give one to the Dunns, whom we love, and one to the folks who are renting on the corner).

Step Six: Sneak and tiptoe so folks don’t see us. Put the treats in mailboxes if mail hasn’t been brought in yet.

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Step Seven: Slowly squeeze treats through Jack’s mail slot, but be quiet because he is home!!! And when he hears us at the door, drop the treats and…

Step Eight: Run!!!

Leave a Note

When I don’t know what to bake, when the kids aren’t asking for one thing or another, I usually err on the side of sourdough. I get to use my starter, the bread can be served with sweet (toast with cinnamon sugar, or chocolate hazelnut spread, or french toast) or it can be wonderful with savory things (soups, bruschetta, sandwich bread, as a side to Greek salad), etc… So last week I baked up some sourdough in the late afternoon and had a warm loaf to share .
My daughter gets to rock climb with school twice each week so I took a loaf to her enthusiastic instructor. It was dark, and we needed to return home quickly, so I left the bag with the bread inside, tucked under the windshield wiper of the school van. I searched and searched my car and purse for a pen or pencil so I could write something–I didn’t want it to look like leaving it was mistake, or some other misconception. But we couldn’t dredge up anything to write with. How’s that for being a writer?!

And then I forgot to call to at least let them know leaving it wasn’t an accident.

So, a week later I see the instructor and mention the bread.

SOOOOO, you are the ones who left it! The teacher said slowly. We wondered. We weren’t sure if it was for us, or??? It’s still on our kitchen counter.

I apologized, and said it might still be good for French toast, or bread pudding 🙂 He was gracious, even thankful, but stale bread? Boo…

Next time I will leave a note. I already packed an extra pen into my purse, just in case. I like pens!

And I will bake another loaf of bread for this dear man and his wife. Stale sourdough is okay, but a fresh loaf?!!!!

Cheers, Friends!

Trick :: Long First Rise–What Then?

Photo by Matt Roberts, who made that fun movie about my bread giving..

Photo of rosemary rolls by Matt Roberts, who made that fun movie about my bread giving..

Once you’ve baked for a bit and know what dough should look like at the various phases then it’s fairly easy to begin fudging here and there with ingredients, proofing times, and oven temperatures.

Today, I will be away from the house for more than a first rise. I’ve been away from the house almost all week, which is why I haven’t been blogging or baking, because I’m spending this week in first grade.

After the first day of school back in first grade I came straight home, flung off my boots, and took a two-hour nap. OH MY!

But we have no bread in the house and children are begging.

So, I’m mixing up some dough for rosemary rolls and here’s what I’ll do.

Reduce the amount of yeast in my mix, add some sourdough starter, use cold water (I always use cold, filtered water) and make sure the dough isn’t sitting in a sunny place. Mix it all up and let it rise, rise, rise.

When I come home, after about five hours of rising, the dough will have spent much of its energy. So… I’ll get the pots into the oven, heat it all up, and when the oven is close-ish to its 450 degrees I’ll shape the rolls and let them sit for about 10-15 minutes–maybe less–I’ll keep those eyes of mine wide open and decide then. If I let them have a long second rise then I’ll end up with flatbread. Not that I have anything against flatbread, but that’s not today’s mission!

I’ve done this before, and it works. A long first rise means a very short second one. A short first rise means a longer first one–or maybe even two additional rises. We shouldn’t be slaves to our recipes and it’s pretty fun experimenting with yeasties to see just how they can be manipulated and stretched so that we’re not anxious and fretting about being in the kitchen when we really should be sitting in a desk learning first grade goodness!

Two and a half more days to go and then I’m back to being a grown up. Cheer me on, would you?!