Stealthy Valentine’s Giving!

Step One: Mix dough for chocolate shortbread cookies.

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


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


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.


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!

Up For Grabs

Yesterday, my husband and I were talking about our July. We counted up the days and realized that during that month we were home for a total of six days. First–we had our big driving adventure, which took us all over the West, then we spent a week in Santa Monica, where my parents live, while all the kids did one sort of camp or another. That week was a boon week for me. I spent each and every morning tucked into a beach cabana writing. If you ever thought I wasn’t spoiled, now you know the real truth. I’m spoiled…

I don’t mind summer baking. Santa Barbara doesn’t soar into the 100’s like many places. We don’t struggle with turning the oven on, but this summer, baking just hasn’t been on the top of my list. It’s hard to bake from the front seat of an SUV!

During every little break when we’ve actually been here (all six of those days) I’ve pulled out the grain bin and got to mixing. I made rosemary rolls for a family with a new baby (yay Nikolovs!), I made prosphora for church (one loaf rose so unevenly that it looked like a fish with its mouth gaping open!), I made another batch of rosemary rolls for visitors (two sister-in-laws, one niece, and one friend of my daughter’s–all bunking with us). But my most recent giving experience opened a new chapter in my bread giving. Here’s the play by play.

My husband was making Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Smashed Peas and Fava Beans on Toast (it’s amazing–you absolutely need to try this recipe!!!) for a special Sunday evening meal to treat our guests. Only, we didn’t have the toast. It was 3pm, so no time to dally, dinnertime was inevitable. I got to mixing.

Douglas decided he wanted baguette-like bread, so I molded up some flutes, and into the oven went four of them at 5:30 pm. Everyone was busy with something. John Ronan was putting together his own snack, which included two dessert marshmallows; my daughter and her friend were singing and dancing around the house; and I simply didn’t feel like finding someone to give the bread to. I’m sorry, I just didn’t feel like it! (It was that spoiled thing surfacing, I think…)

So, I did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I carted a chair out to the curb. Put our cake stand on top of it. Scribbled a quick sign, and left the bread for a passerby. My sister-in-law thought this was hilarious, and wanted to stay out front to spy and see who might be brave enough to take it, but I pulled her back inside, set the timer for 30 minutes, and figured if the bread wasn’t gone by then–then I’d run it across to Morgan, or Jack, or Susie and be done with it.

And with ten minutes left on the timer, I checked the curb, and the bread was…


Not sure who plucked it off the chair, but I sure hope they tasted the fun and love and prayers that hopefully seeped into it from our crazy household.

It’s good to be back home.