Catching Up

Apart from an amazing week away in the mountains with my family–a week when I napped three times a day and sat by the river more than cooked, or baked, or anything–it seems all I’m doing these days is catching up. The garden needs tending, writing projects await, guests are here, new recipes want to be tried, and kids continually beg for rides. It’s summer!

And I haven’t quite settled into this new routine. I’m still adjusting, but at the same time savoring many sweet and simple moments. Plums. A dinner outside on the patio. Ping pong 🙂 A new draft of a story. Cousins. The fountain gurgling outside my bedroom window.

And even though I’m doing plenty of giving–the rides, the laundry, the cleaning…I’m missing the baking and all that that has meant in my life these last few years. And to feed that missing link–I recently read this inspiring story of nine, very generous baking nanas. If you haven’t read it–take the time. I cried most of the way through. Anyway, today, there’s bread in the oven! I feel a renewed effort welling in me, and that makes me happy.

Tell me, what’s making you happy these summer days? Are you in catch up mode, too?

Advertisements

Baking for Babies

Within our church community, we’ve had a litany of little baby girls enter the world these last two weeks. Two Xenias, one Farley Clementine, and one Sophia.

Four sweet little things, all come to join us witness the rain, and the sunshine, and to be enfolded in the love and hope that abounds in these families, in this place.

It’s Advent, which means it’s time to prepare our homes, but more importantly, our hearts, for the birth of Christ. It’s not necessarily the time to hang out at the malls and buy ourselves new things, it’s more the time to hang out in front of the altar, and pray, and then go out into this world and do a whole lot of giving.

I’m recovering from maybe the hardest string of five/six weeks ever. Emotionally strained, spiritually attacked, physically drained, psychologically unstable (!!!), I feel that I’ve tipped back onto the brighter path now, back to the healing side where the light is shining at the end of that proverbial tunnel. How beautiful is that light. Prayer is what brought me here. Deep and silent–I made some needed space in my life for a necessary dialogue, and God met me, and was merciful.

Last Lent I pushed my giving and tried to clean out some of those cobwebs in my heart with what I called Forgiveness Giving. This Advent, I’m not ready to tackle anything more than what I already have on my plate, which is why I’m simply going to rejoice in these new babies. I’m going to bake loaves and loaves of Struan, because there’s so much goodness in a harvest loaf of bread packed with nutrients, and I’m going to sit by these new mamas and talk about sweet hands and sweet feet, and revel in the sight of a brand new creation here on earth.

Speaking of which, Christmas is coming. And here are a few of the preparations already underway in our home.

  • I’m reading The Climb, the story of the Tree of Jesse, written by dear Katherine.
  • I’m gathering the necessities for another homemade Advent wreath, which I’ll make and have ready for the table on December 1st.
  • And I’m hoping to make a new Christmas bread–something from somewhere else, in addition to the traditional scones we always make for Christmas breakfast. I’d love suggestions! Please send suggestions 🙂

And thank you for your prayers. I know many have been rooting me on through heartfelt words offered on my behalf. After another week (since my husband is now home after being away for almost a month straight on business!), and a few more hot cups of tea, and a wee bit of baking for babies, I just might return to my spunky old self.

I love this inspiring message that my priest recently sent out to folks in our parish:

The last words of our Lord in the Book of Revelation are, “Surely I am coming quickly,” and St. John’s response is, “Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Advent reminds us of Christ’s first coming to us, the Son of God becoming the Son of Man for our salvation.  So, might this be our Advent meditation: “Come, Lord Jesus?”

We ask this not only in anticipation of celebrating His Nativity, but in preparing our hearts that He would come to us afresh.  We can make this season an opportunity to make our cave and our manger (our bodies and souls) a fit dwelling for the Lord Almighty.

Perhaps this simple phrase “Come Lord Jesus” can help cut through the extra activities and busyness of this season and help us to heed the prophets’ warning and “prepare the way of the Lord.”

Children’s Books for Budding Bakers

Been bakin’

Been readin’, too

This book put a smile on my face last week when the wind was making all of us wacky and grumpy and altogether very weird. I found it in the new book stack at the library, where I take my four year old each Tuesday. Easy as Pie by Cary Best, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, is a newish release about a little baker in the making. His name is Jacob and he makes a peach pie while you’re reading the story. Really! He even makes the pie crust from scratch. And he’s a happy little tot. His enthusiasm is contagious, and, wow, this book would make a great pairing as a birthday gift wrapped alongside an Easy Bake Oven!

And Easy as Pie reminds me of another favorite, favorite that has to do with baking. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman is one of my all time super picks! I’ve purchased many copies of that book for adventurous munchkins.

Priceman zooms you around the world to pick up the ingredients she needs in order to make the apple pie. In fact, one of my favorite and quite handy facts from that book is that cinnamon comes from the Sri Lankin “native kurundu tree”. Good to know stuff! Oh, and the little girl makes her own sea salt. Maybe that’s where I first got the idea.

What about you, do you have favorite books on baking for kids? I’d love to know about them if you do…

Baking… Books

Two loaves of French bread

Mixed: 2:45 pm

Molded: 5:15 pm

Baked: 6 pm

Gave extra loaf to Glenn

It’s hard to choose my favorite part of the bread baking process. Like writing, there are parts of the process that are prayerful, parts that require patience, and other parts that get you jumping up and down. I love how bread baking and the writer’s life match up in so many ways…

  • Assemble the ingredients, flour, water, salt and yeast=Research and write your rough draft–let the ingredients–and writing–fly all over the kitchen, and don’t worry about the mess!
  • Knead the dough until its silky smooth=Massage the story, play with the words–this is a prayerful time for me, both while kneading and while editing.
  • Let the dough rise=Walk away from the story and let it sit and ferment. This requires patience and a sense of moving on to another task for some portion of time.
  • Mold the dough into its final shape=Edit. I love editing. This part of writing involves finding  just the right shape for a written piece, and refining the individual words…
  • Bake=Give your work to others to critique. Put it to the fire test, to the heat of the oven and allow the criticism to bake out all the impurities of your writing!
  • Eat it–or better yet, give that bread away!=Send out your work. Let others read it and be blessed, or simply say it’s done and tuck it away. But always move on to the next project. If it ends up being published, then that’s just the icing on the… bread!

Today an interview on my writing life has been posted on the Examiner.com, which is an online news service that has more than 7 million readers. I’m humbled that I was asked to do the interview, and another interview, on the topic of this bread blog, will be featured next week. Here’s the link to the interview.

Sending you blessings and love… as I bake, and write…