Framed in Love

We have three children heading in three different directions this fall. One off to college in Seattle, one tumbling into her sophomore year of high school, and the last just starting first grade–at a new school–actually at his very first school ever. Lots of changes.

And I have two new jobs! An editing position, and a support role for my brothers and their business.

Yes, summer’s end is here.

Which probably means more regular baking. Gotta have bread for those pb&j’s. And that will mean more giving. Hurrah!

Speaking of giving. I’ve done a bit of that lately–but, I’m keeping those stories to myself. Sometimes when your heart asks you to help another–the backstory of the circumstance, the middle story, and even what is to come needs to be guarded and kept private. That seems to be the trend as of late, so just know that I’m a busy bee here in my kitchen, and that this has been a prayerful time of giving, and of hoping for healing…

One thing that won’t change as we transition into fall are my excursions to the beach! Did you know that I spend time at the beach every single week, sun or storm, rain or raging wind? And here’s what I found at the beach this very day. A heart-framed view–a fitting reminder of how I’m trying to live my life–everything framed in love.

Dear Summer,

I’ll miss you, but I am excited about this time of new beginnings. Thank you for all the gifts you’ve brought my way these last three months–the warm days, new friends, the plums, the evening barbecues.

Oh, Lord, the author of Summer and the coming seasons, too… Help me to be a woman, who frames her days–every single one of them–in love.

jane

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not childish at all…

Once a week since September I have had the pleasure and delight of adding another little boy to the mix. I pick him up from school and the three of us–Ben, John Ronan and I–head out to play somewhere.We’ve hiked up to Douglas Preserve, we’ve baked cookies, we’ve braved the wind at Butterfly Beach, and this week we drove to Haskells–a favorite wild beach of mine, north, at the edge of Goleta.

I promised Silly String–my sister had sent two cans as a birthday gift–so the boys went at it. It was a messy, but incredibly fun affair.

Then, I laid a blanket in the sand and we all plopped down to enjoy chocolate chip cookies that I had baked earlier in the day. Ben was anxious for these, so I was surprised when he asked if we could all only eat one.

Why, I asked.

Are there enough for my family? he asked back.

I counted. How many will you need? 

Six.

It’s sad to admit that at first I was disappointed that I’d only get one! What a lame-o I am. But it didn’t take long for me to get past my gluttony (thank you, Lord!) and really appreciate this opportunity to give. Not only for me to give, but for Ben to be able to be the giver of good things, too.

Sure, I said in between bites, let’s pack up these extra cookies and you can bring them home to share.

Okay, so I was childish, but five-year-old Ben was not. He was thinking of others when he decided that one would be plenty for me,

and more than enough for himself.

Kindergarten Repeat–and Other Stuff–Plus, a Stripety Giveaway

Morning. I haven’t even had my full dose of green tea and yet I’m buzzing with energy. I think I have the new school year jitters–up early, wanting to do a thousand things all at the same time.

Right now Andrew is eating a still-warm muffin. Yum. Madeleine is tidying her room while singing to Mumford and Sons, and John Ronan is literally running circles around our dining room table. He dressed himself this morning and chose the Dr Seuss shorts I made him.

Warms my heart.

My husband is out back in his sweet office, the door open, taking a phone call no doubt. He’ll be heading off for coffee soon at Via Maestra, just like he does every morning. Yesterday I caught him in his dress shirt (because he had a video conference) and shorts and sandals. Had to snap a photo. What d’ya think? Pretty nice working out of a backyard office!

Muffins! Some day I’ll share my muffin recipe–it’s easy and adaptable to all sorts of stuffing. I especially love adding chopped cranberries, but today I baked to please the kids and made them plain… (Those kids...)

Giving. I baked a double batch of French rolls yesterday–and snuck some cheese into the dough, and gave it ALL away (my kids don’t like it when I do that). One ring of rolls to Jack, our neighbor across the street whom we love, who watches over our home when we’re gone and who helps us with strange electrical problems when they reveal themselves through our breaker box. The other, larger, ring went to a family of a dad and his five kids who are all stuffed into a one-bedroom apartment. If I had the time and the strength, I’d bring them fresh bread every day.

Anyway. This year I just have my little one with me at home; we’re tackling kindergarten together. Do you know how amazingly fun it already is? We started our year off by reading Bob Books, drawing mazes

and eating a long, long lunch at the beach. I think we’ll be eating lots of long, long lunches at the beach this year. Wouldn’t you…

…when there’s all that good stuff to learn about tides, and the moon, and the creativity of God Himself!

Giveaways and a Giveaway. We have some fun giveaways coming for you this fall. It was a smart move for me to take the summer off from that sort of thing. But, I’m ready for giveaway giving again. I would bake bread for y’all, but some of you live a quadrillion fourteen miles away. Bread is better fresh.

However. On our road trip I made all those stripety bags. SO MANY of them. Four bags, plus a hat. (Please, admire all those stitches!)

     

It’s true that I’m a Bag Lady, but four new bags is simple gluttony, even if i did get blisters making them. So, I’d like to give one away to YOU! I’m not a professional stitcher, though. These bags come with a disclaimer. For example, if one of my bags falls apart the first time you use it, no weepy tears–you may not cry, and I don’t want to know about it!

Because. I might cry, and then say, I told you so.

  • The Fuzzy Details. First bag. Lots of colorful stripes. Has been sort of felted, which means it’s washable!. Is pretty big–like big enough to carry 25 skeins of yarn. But if you put 25 oranges in it, which would fit, I bet the shoulder straps would lengthen several inches. Which wouldn’t be good…
  • The Fuzzy Details. Second bag, which shouts, ORANGE. Yes, in caps. This bag is not up for giving, unless you want to pay me. 🙂 It’s smaller, would probably hold 15 skeins of yarn, and would certainly hold 15 oranges, and look good doing it.
  • The Fuzzy Details. Third bag. It’s little. Not felted. I’m doubting any of you will choose this little thing over the big stripes, but it’s cute. I have a feeling this bag, which would hold about 8-9 skeins of yarn, is destined for a miniature girly.
  • The Fuzzy Details. Fourth bag. Still under construction. I used every last loop of my $50 dollars worth of yarn for this bag and I think it came out just scrumptious. I plan on felting this bag before consumption. It’s the same size as bag one. Kinda big, and awesome.

The Reason. I haven’t finished the last bag because… we just adopted a piano

and it has upset our whole house, furniture flying this way and that. Couches on the curb for folks to take, chairs finding new nooks, stuffed dogs being displaced…

Today. Is the third day of my second time going to kindergarten, and guess what? We’re going to pray, and read our Bob books, and draw mazes, and THEN, take a packed lunch and picnic at the boulder grove!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn’t it grand?

Summer was great. But kindergarten is better…

If you want to pop your name in the hat for a bag, just leave a comment below. Let me know in the post which one you like best–but just know, the wild orange one that mimicks this wild mood I’m in is mine. 🙂

Cheers! I’ll be choosing names when I get to 100 comments, (or next Friday, whichever comes first–or last–depending on my mood)

so tell your friends!

Sweet Afterglow

In the afterglow of Pascha, this family has been enjoying each day and all the fun that comes with being able to finally shout out Christ is Risen! Plus, there are Easter goodies to nibble on,

new books floating from table to desk, and flowers all around that shout spring is here!

And spring has sprung. It has been more like summer here on many days, urging me to the beach for a sit in the sand while the little one throws rocks or generally spins in wild circles. My ankle is still a bit tender, so I’ve confined my fun there to collecting rocks…

and more rocks…

And I’ve been baking. Making scones, for tea parties, and trying old recipes again. Sometimes old recipes don’t come out as well as they did before, so instead of being sad, you get silly…

And sometimes you have a friend who gets sick. Really sick. So sick you don’t see her at church for weeks, so you call and ask if there’s anything you can do, and then you make her rosemary rolls.

And then, it’s your birthday! Plus Mother’s Day heaped right on top, so someone else bakes you a cake. And they put a sheep on the cake–just because. Just because you’re part Basque, and you have little sheep here and there around the house, and because this particular sheep just happened to be hanging out near the cake when the photo was taken.

Oh, that yummy cake. A mix from Williams-Sonoma that is so packed with butter that you can only eat slivers at a time. But somehow, two days later, there’s not much left.

And speaking of not much left… The school year is coming to a close, with summer days already tempting me toward a looser schedule and lots of writing time. For this summer will take me back to pen and paper, and hopefully story after story. Stories have been piling up in this red-headed head of mine, just bursting to get out.

Meanwhile, I’ve got bread on the rise, and kids to wrangle, and slivers of chocolate cake still to nibble on.

What about you? What have these Bright Days been like for you? And what sorts of summer plans are in the days ahead in your life?

And do you have little sheep popping up in your pictures, too?

Get Well Bread

One loaf of rosemary bread

Mixed: 9:45 am

Molded: 12:30 pm

Baked (in a pot): 1:30

It seems that the whole world around me is coughing, sneezing, spluttering, feverish and generally wishing they were in bed watching old movies… In the last couple of weeks the choir at church was reduced by half, the preschool too, and we received messages about whooping cough, chicken pox and bronchitis from various school nurses. How can this be? It’s 60 degrees outside and sunny. The door is wide open, the little one is barefoot. We even spent the morning at the beach…

Surely the rest of the States–the ones who are shoveling ten feet of snow from their front walks have every right to be sick. Sick and tired. But us–here in ever-blooming paradise?

Despite the lack of logic, one of my favorite friends is nursing a family of ailing ones, and she herself is down with something, so I figured I’d try to be a good Samaritan and bake her a loaf of bread.

So I did. And I’m off to be the delivery girl, and wish her a speedy recovery.

And to you!!! I wish the same. That good health surrounds you, and if not, that there are old movies galore and some friend from Samaria to bring you (chicken soup–I’m terrible at making chicken soup, which is why I didn’t volunteer that foodstuff) and maybe even some rosemary bread.

Cheers, everyone!

Behind the Walls

My brothers are so fun!

Don’t you love this imaginative loaf of sourdough?

I grew up in Santa Monica–a Southern California beach town. When I was young it was a beachy place, where kids played in the streets (our street–18th street– was LOADED with kids), where my friends rode their bikes with surfboards over their shoulders, to catch a few waves before school. We hung out at the local drugstore and ate jolly ranchers. There was even a dirt lot around the corner where we took our bikes and shovels and made race courses… But, Hollywood folk, and other money-makers, have changed the landscape of Santa Monica into a city of walls. At least the north end, where I visit, and where my parents still live.

The other morning I was out for a walk. I wondered who in the world I would share a loaf of my brothers’ bread with, since an extra loaf or two makes its way to my parent’s home almost every day. Their sourdough is worth sharing–so very delicious–and missed by many who used to eat this bread for years before the original Pioneer French Bakery was closed.

But who to give to? So many of my own school friends have moved, and the close neighbors we once knew, and loved, have also moved on. My mom muses how amazing it is to live in a place with so many people who rarely notice one another… This city has become a place of walls,

where the only people you see moving up and down the old neighborhood streets are gardeners, maids and subcontractors…

But just when I began to despair about who to give this gorgeous loaf of bread to, I found an email on my computer from an old school friend. “Come meet us–we’re at the beach!”

Ah, the beach. The Mighty Equalizer! There are no walls at the beach. There is sand, and water, and little kids playing in the waves, and big kids with their boogie boards, and old friends still wearing bikinis! Love it!

So, I went to the beach and sat in the sand, and chatted for a wee bit with women that I haven’t really seen since they were girls. The loaf of bread was greeted by happy eyes. I wish I’d had more time, but what fun. What fun!

It makes me wonder, though, seeing and thinking about all these walls… What sorts of walls have I built in my own life to keep people out? I like being out of sight, and out of view. Maybe the walls in this changed city aren’t so very significant when it comes to giving bread. Maybe I just need to work a bit harder to knock down my own inhibitions–and simply head to the beach!

(Thank you, Susan and Linda, for the invite!)