Going Underground

Good friends!

I’m about to become a spy of sorts…

And this photo may seem unrelated, but it’s not.

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My son had a play date!

When you have a child with developmental struggles, then you might understand the  underlying meaning of my excitement. We have entered a new season here at the Meyer home.  A season of a new school, and new friends, and new hope.

You see… Last year was hard.

And this new season–a season of play dates!!!–has my mama’s heart, and my writer’s mind headed in new directions. All of my creative energies, all of my practical, and emotional, and physical energies… much of my spiritual life has all been pointed in one direction these last two years. Toward one little blonde boy, whom we adore with all our hearts. But finally I have help. Right now, he has a whole team rooting him on, teaching him things we have tried to share out of sheer instinct. He’s on a new road and progressing well. We are on a new road together.

I’m so grateful that the baking, and the giving have become second nature to me. I don’t mix one loaf, I mix two. I cart the other off to a neighbor, to someone hungry on the street, to a new mom, or someone struggling with illness. I get asked to bake for potlucks, and to add to the homeless meals on Mondays. I’ve felt my heart stretch and have been thankful for this online community who has cheered me on… Thank you!

Thank you.

But I’m ready for my giving to go underground. For it to be between me and my family, and between me and my God. I’m ready to write about other things. To write about others who give. And to write about one little boy and this home that supports him, and my friends who pray for me, and to allow those other words, struggling to come out, to find a place.

This is not the end. This blog will continue to grow and stretch. I’ll still post baking tips from time to time. And recipes. And I’ll find ways to share, but there will definitely be a shift. Just wanted you to know, since you have only offered me encouragement these last many years.

Thank you for being such lovely supporters of my giving, and my blogging about it. I’ve enjoyed sharing with you some of the ups (mostly ups!) and downs.

And I thought it’d be nice to put in some links to some of my favorite posts over the last four plus years. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I sure have enjoyed this space…

Thankful for family. November 2009

A trip back to the family house in France. November 2009

Struggling to give. December 2009

On Silliness. December 2009

Learning from the poor. January 2010

Making salt from scratch. April 2010

Asking reluctant children to give. June 2010

Musings on blogging publicly about my giving. July 2010

A very large, sloppy cake and a birthday party in the forest. November 2010

One of my favorite ways to bake–rolls in the round. March 2011

On being a better giver. March 2011

It really does snow in the mountains above Santa Barbara. March 2011

Changed through giving. April 2011

Morning light. May 2011

The best scone recipe in the world. May 2011

On not blogging, but just giving. August 2011

All about Saint Brigid. January 2012

Slowing down. January 2012

Staying thin. February 2012

Planting wheat berries to grow wheat grass. May 2012

Learning from those who leave us. September 2012

Giving with teens. November 2012

The beauty of Simple and Slow. November 2012

Recipe for making prosphoron. December 2012

At the monastery–the best way to start a new year. January 2013

Making butter from scratch. January 2013

Two reasons I don’t often blog (my children!). March 2013

A short trip to Paris! July 2013

Sending you all love and good cheer, my friends. And happy baking!

In the meantime, you can always find me on instagram, facebook, sometimes on twitter, I log all the books I like and read on goodreads, and you can always contact me through my website.

jane

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You-Can-Do-It Bread!

My parents, who were born and raised on the westside of Los Angeles, moved to Santa Barbara a year and a half ago. They purchased a home near us where they knew they could have a lovely garden, and chickens, far from the craziness of westside traffic, where driving has become a sport for some, and almost war-like for others.

But in order to have the garden and those chickens, they had to make their home live-able. With no bedrooms on the ground floor, they embarked on a remodeling adventure that still isn’t over!

So close, though.

For all of this time they’ve lived virtually out of a suitcase, but just last week the final round of their things from storage arrived. What a big task, to sort and question, and figure out how to make this new home theirs, and what to do with all the Stuff!

To encourage them, we’ve been having them to our home for meals for these 18 months–not every night, but often. And though their home isn’t quite finished, we decided to barbecue at their place to mark the progress of it being Almost Done! My dad is a breadmonger, being a baker and all, and he really doesn’t eat a meal without a piece of bread near his plate. So I mixed up a batch of country French–a blend of white flour, freshly ground kamut, and rye, with some sourdough starter thrown in for flavor. We toted it over to their place, then I took the loaf for a quick tour of their new home. The real housewarming will come when the landscaping is done and all the furniture is placed, but here’s a glimpse into their current world–mess and stuff and all. (Made complete by the visiting neighbor dog, Puppy, who literally roams where she likes and spends at least half her day inspecting the workers and their work…)

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Paris

My husband and I jetted to Paris for three days this last week. What a treat!

Three days isn’t long enough for much, not for visiting museums or long boat rides on the Seine, but it’s plenty long enough for several wonderful meals celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, a stroll or two across the Pont Neuf, at least one chaussons aux pommes in the morning, and a dinner with a niece. Plus,

The Wedding!

Family friends have a beautiful daughter who has been living in Paris for several years now. She found Gabriel, and now they’re married! They celebrated their vows at a church I’ve longed to see for many years, the Saint Serge Orthodox Institute.

I was delighted at the sight of the Chateau Champlatreux–the setting for the reception. What a lovely venue… and as we walked through the front door, there was the traditional Slavic custom of bread and salt offered on an embroidered cloth, signifying the gift of hospitality and friendship and the blessing of a new home.

Three days. Three days of Paris! Three days to celebrate our own 25-year journey and the blessing of a brand new union…

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The Piano Teacher

Perhaps you had a less-than-inspirational piano teacher as a child? No? I’m so pleased. Music should be taught with encouragement, passion, praise and love!

I caught my little one recently on film in the middle of his lesson with our lovely teacher from outside the front window.

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And then I snuck inside and snapped another photo as they worked on yet more theory.

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And then I took a hot loaf of sourdough from the oven and offered it to Miss Katie as she left the house after a productive lesson.

Music is a language I believe in–and though one loaf of bread is only a small thanks, it is something that I can do right now during this busy time…

Did you know? My daughter learned to play the piano well enough to accompany herself and do this–in just one year? We purchased a piano and started her with lessons when she was fourteen. It’s never too late, friends!

Also, we have family musicales every year or so and everyone is required to play or do something. We dress up and sip sparkling drinks and have cake. Last time I played Oh! Susannah on the harmonica! (My brother composed a poem about his new daughter titled, Ode to Miss Poopy Pants :)) Making musical memories is a must. M.M.M.M.

Lastly, the piano guys are really cool. Have you ever watched this video? It’s one of my favorites and I’m thinking that I could do a series of blog posts where I bake breads in remote, unbelievably cool places. Wouldn’t that be super fun?!!!

Hope you’re all well, dear friends! Enjoy the giving…

Piano Recital--May 2013

Piano Recital–May 2013

No Fooling March

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It’s almost April first, and looking back on the last few weeks, I am thankful that some hard lessons learned in the past few years have given me the gumption and the experience to say NO. Do you ever get caught in that place when you have four too many things all happening at once? Or a life that resembles an over-stuffed purse? To stay sane in March, I said no to blogging, and no to volunteering at lunch hour, and no to making soup for church. I said no again and again, because if I didn’t, I’d be much thinner right now and probably a terrible mix of grumpy and sick.

I think I’m through the worst of the fire, and headed back into Yes territory. My littlest son and I have fallen into a nice routine of homeschooling in the morning (long story!!!); I get a bit of work time in the early afternoon while he’s at school, and the late afternoons are dedicated to everything family–driving hither and yon, soccer, yogurt making, laundry, searching out the rabbits from under the nasturtiums–you know!

I have been able to do a bit of baking this last week. Because Teen Star ended, and my duties as Mom Chaperone ended, and, well, my daughter/singer/performer/Miss Madeleine was AMAZING?! We wondered how she would do up on a giant stage, singing her little 16-year-old heart out, and she wozzied the crowd. That girl has guts, and charm, and a mighty big voice for her little body, and she just about won the whole crazy thing! Very fun to see someone want to do something, and then succeed. We’re so proud of how hard she worked and are praying that she will use her talent wisely…

Baking! I’m headed back on track and my first moment of giving that I want to share with you was to support a young mom who’s fighting cancer. She lives kind of far away, so some special friends volunteered to take food the 45 minutes south and fill up that family’s freezer. Pans and pans of food left town, and thankfully I was able to help with the effort and send some warm sourdough along in the car. It was a small gift, but I’m thankful I was able to give alongside so many generous others.

Moment number two and three were both mass bakings for events at church. On Friday I mixed up some molasses bread and carted that off to our akathist service followed by a soup dinner, and today I rose at 5am!!! to bake two enormous loaves of bread to support our Saint Brigid’s homeless ministry. Getting my hands and heart back into giving has made me extra grateful for the gifts I have–of family, home, friends, sunshine, bunnies, time to write, children and a husband to love, words, music, and the occasional burst of quiet. Giving brings gratitude…

So March is ticking its way out as I type. Just a little under two hours until April Fools, and who knows what tomorrow will bring? I’ve got about three dozen bread recipes I’m itching to try, and a list a mile long of people I want to give something to:

Nicole

The new guy who just bought the house on the corner who has chickens

My son’s amazing first grade teacher

The Montecito Library librarians

Kate, who is pregnant

Our mail carrier

I might even mail some cinnamon rolls to my son for Pascha

…what about you–is this a Yes or a No season in your life?

Him and Her

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When is the last time I baked a loaf of bread? Last Saturday, when I baked prosphoron all day (post coming about the new pan soon!), then hiked it over to a neighbor’s house so they could get it to church because I was off to a school play where I set up tables for three hours, then waited on tables for another three.

I have been running, folks. I have spent the last month grateful when I had time for a shower, and so thrilled to lay my head down on the pillow each night. It’s that kind of season in our home and I haven’t been baking.

In fact, my husband made a pot of jambalaya last week and sent my dad off to the store for a baguette. 😦

My little fellow above has needed extra attention as of late. Struggling in the school setting, we brought him home to do school here, then added back in half days at school in the afternoons; I even spent an entire week observing in the first grade classroom (A Whole Week in First Grade!). His life has been unsettled as we seek to find the very best situation for his learning, and on top of that we are filling out paperwork and meeting with teachers and administrators, and assessing his behavior with district folk … It’s a lot, but it’s where much of my energy is flowing at the moment. And he’s so worth it…

And then there’s her:

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Almost sixteen, a caring friend to those around her and an adorable daughter–a gifted girl. Madeleine’s world just got more exciting with a high school play (stories by Chekhov–it was awesome!) overlapped by being chosen as a finalist in a local teen show that highlights singers. She will be performing on Saturday, March 23rd at the Granada Theatre–all five feet of her, up on that giant, gorgeous stage. Every day it’s another email, another set of photos, another mentoring session or rehearsal. Because there is so much media involved, and because she is still a minor, that means parents need to be a part of everything. Everything! It’s super fun, but where’s the bread? 🙂

So, that’s the kind of giving I’m doing these days. Being a mom on two fronts, for two precious people who need my support. I am beginning to long for some sourdough, but think I can wait a little longer until life settles.

It’s their season, and things will shift soon enough, I’m sure.

Hoping your season is filled with joy and good things. What is holding your attention at the moment–I’d love to know!

Pray for us, Holy Brigid

Illustration from "The Life of Saint Brigid"

Illustration from “The Life of Saint Brigid”

In years past I have spent the week before the feast of Saint Brigid preparing for a big party that we have with family and friends here at our home. We typically invite different people every year, and do lots of Irish-like things: eating beef stew, drinking ale, mixing up batches of soda bread, weaving crosses and the like. It is such fun.

This year, we are simply asking for prayer. Our house has been overtaken by the flu–with children coughing and waylaid by fevers, with mamas making chicken soup, and grandmas calling every few minutes to see if we need anything from the store.

By the eve of the feast, Thursday, we may just be well enough to weave a cross. I’m hopeful! And if we are feeling especially energetic, I’m wanting to make homemade butter, just for the fun of it. Saint Brigid was a dairymaid and I think bread and butter sounds pretty good right about now.

And on Friday, February first, we have our house blessing scheduled, but the party will be a small one, I’m afraid. Just us and the priest and his wife, singing our hearts out, asking Saint John the Baptist and Saint Brigid to team up on that day, follow us about our home as the holy water finds its way north-south-east-west, and humbly intercede for us.

This is a good reminder for me–to release the hold of past expectations and simply follow the needs of the moment. I have decided not to be disappointed by the turn of events, but to allow space for the prayer, and the healing, and maybe, just maybe, a little butter will be made.

Enjoy the feast, everyone!