Ending the Old Year :: Beginning the New

Happy New Year, dear friends! Another new beginning is here, and I would like to wish you a year filled with joy, love, peace, and many meaningful moments.

Because we are away from home, and away from my oven and oven mitts, I thought I’d give you a quick glimpse into yesterday and today–a bit of life away from baking. We’ve been showered with blessings and are so grateful for these slow days of celebrating and being with family.

We ended the old year at the monastery.

IMG_2961_2 IMG_2966_2 IMG_2969_2 IMG_2975

Everyone dressed for the day, hopped in the car, and we traveled to Saint Anthony’s, which is a vast Greek monastery set among the saguaros in Arizona. We went in search of a blessing, and found just what we were seeking. It was a lovely time of peace, prayer and reflection.

Then off to another sort of vast. A family party, populated by many little ones, mid-sized ones, and grown-ups like myself. We had ribs at 8pm and fireworks at 9. And I put the little one to bed shortly thereafter. Reports are that the big kids stayed up until midnight and beyond. Good for them, I say!!!

This morning has meant green tea, Greek yogurt, and two of those wonderful homemade powdered sugar cookie delights that one encounters this time of year. Butter, flour, walnuts. Yum…

Mid-morning was a trip to a friend’s horse ranch.

IMG_2986_2 IMG_2987_2 IMG_2990_2

We rambled around the many, many stalls. Rubbed the belly of an extremely friendly and pregnant horse mama. Giggled at a miniature donkey, Allie, who was being spunky, and we were herded by the ranch dogs. Good mid-morning fun.

And soon I will be off with 12 others to see Les Miserables. I’m wondering now why I put on a touch of eye makeup this morning. I’m such a baby when it comes to anything with a tinge of sorrow, or that shows children who suffer. I’ll be bawling my head off.

And before we return home, I’m hoping to gather some of the teens and adults and make snowflakes in honor of Sandy Hook elementary school.

Want to join me? It seems like a wonderful way to kick off this new year by creating something beautiful in memory of their little ones. I will share photos of our snowflakes and would love to see yours!

Cheers, dear friends!

Advertisements

Fireworks

This last week has been almost all play and rest. A time to bask in the arms and care of family, and a wonderful way to usher in the new year. We sped our way to Arizona, first for some snow, then to the warmth of the desert. And we made so many new memories, most of them bread-free, but all filled with giving just the same.

Good news abounds. My strength has returned, my parents are moving to town (!!!!!!!!), and the sweet woman we’ve been rooting on and praying for, Nataliya, has returned home to recover. She is very weak, and very thin, but she is here and I’m hoping to be a part of the effort to spoil her…

It’s time to take stock as we tumble into a new year. I always think it’s fascinating how we humans like to box and categorize and try to put form around time. I’m especially guilty of this, with all of my lists and calendars…

One thing’s for sure–it’s time to be thankful! I don’t care if Thanksgiving is two months behind us, I am desperately grateful for this new start. I’m thankful for my health, and for my family, and for a real desire to help change the world, even if that means just baking and giving one little loaf of bread at a time.

So what are your plans for the new year? What are you hoping 2012 might hold? I’m hoping this tenderized heart of mine might stay soft

and I’m hoping for fireworks!

Things happen when sparks fly–books get written, loaves get baked, hearts are changed, and people stand back in awe, enjoying the beauty of the blessings around them…

A New Year–A New List!

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I’m thrilled for this new beginning. We’ve been celebrating these 12 Days of Christmas with lots of dinners with friends, a short holiday away, and time to reflect and simply be quiet. What we didn’t do to usher in the New Year–was throw bread or cake at the front door like we did last year. Last January 1st, we were visiting family in Arizona, and true to the Meyer clan, there was a lot of craziness spinning in all directions. This year, since we were home and in a very relaxed spirit, (and because we didn’t have any bread or cake in the house to throw! ) we sat around on New Year’s Eve and looked and laughed at photos, remembering all the adventures that came our way in 2010. I feel renewed and appreciate the peaceful spirit in which this new year has begun.

Though I haven’t blogged about my baking these last several days, I’ve been busy as ever, mixing up new recipes and finding people to share with. Once I hone the Downeast Maine pumpkin bread recipe, I’ll share that with you, but I won’t be advertising any of the Christmas fruit cakes… Eek. I’m just not a fan of candied fruit or plumped raisins. Are you?

One highlight was a recent afternoon when I had to deliver some paperwork, so I toted along an extra loaf of pumpkin bread as well. I’d intended the bread for a sweet friend, but she had already left for the day–so I happened upon a man–Jorge–and gave it to him. He speaks halting English and lives in some office-like buildings behind a church with his family. His smile and thanks were so genuine that I am still feeling convicted by how very much I take for granted.

And last night I let John Ronan once again choose where to take our extra loaf of French bread. His enthusiasm for running around the neighborhood, knocking on people’s doors is contagious. I’m blessed beyond measure to have his zips and zaps of energy buzzing around me. Giving is so much easier when a child’s open and generous heart is leading the way.

So what’s next? Time for the list!

  • Time to order wheat stalks! Saint Brigid’s feast day is not far off (February 1st), and I’m getting excited about weaving this year’s cross.

  • Time to do a little more 5th Century baking.

  • Time to tell you about a new book to be published!

  • Hoping to share with you how our family eats bread but stays thin 🙂

  • Hoping to find some sources for locally grown grain…

  • Wanting to hear more of your giving stories

  • Needing to go clean my kitchen!

Wishing you a blessed New Year, filled with peace.

Happy giving, everyone! And I’d love to hear about your hopes for this new year (more lists–love lists!), or stories about giving that have affected you this season…

Cheers!

New Year Launches

Bread and flour EVERYWHERE here in the Arizona Meyer homes

Launch Number One

Doesn’t this loaf of bread I baked look like I was trying to fuse the Rockies with the Appalachians? This first launch was sped over to Ken and Judy, an aunt and uncle who recently moved (from somewhere nearish to the Appalachians) into a new home here in the Arid Zone (which happens to be kinda close to the Rockies! No accidents in bread baking, I always say :)).

Launch Number Two

My four year-old was playing hide and seek and got accidentally jetted into a jumping cholla. If you know the desert around here, you know this was not the greatest way to sign out the year. We’re hopeful that 2010 will be jumping-cholla free! Here he is contemplating the cactus the day after the event.

Launch Number Three

There are many bread traditions that usher out the Old and in the New. In Greece they have vasilopita–a lemon-flavored yeast bread with a hidden coin, baked in honor of Saint Basil. In Scotland, there’s an assortment of bread items that might be baked: oatcakes, scones, shortbread and three-cornered biscuits. In Poland, there’s a tradition of godparents making bread in various shapes, such as rings, crosses, rabbits and other animals. But my favorite New Year bread tradition comes from Ireland, where they take leftover Christmas bread or cake outside and bang it against the door and walls of the house while saying a prayer for a hunger-free year. While it took a bit of coaxing to get my oldest sister-in-law and her family out of the house for this interesting custom, once the first piece of bread was launched, it livened up the party considerably!

(And we had the perfect loaf for launching… I over-proofed two loaves and we couldn’t get them off the tray. We scooped them with spatulas onto the baking stone and the two jacos merged, ending up looking like a giant mushroom. The mishaped, tossed and dirtied bread evidently didn’t keep it from being edible…)

Launch Number Four, Five, and Six

Three new bakers. Better to teach a woman to bake than give her a loaf of ciabatta. This has been bread lesson week 🙂 Two sister-in-laws and my daughter have been fiddling with flour. All their efforts have been AMAZING!

Launch Number Seven

Okay–had to end this with a blast. We launched a rocket!

What about you? What sorts traditions launched you into this new year?