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?

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Seasons

It seems that I go in phases with my baking. Some seasons I find myself making batch after batch of rosemary rolls (which are sooooo delicious) and other seasons may find me hovering over new recipes and trying anything that has a foreign word in the title. I won’t try to figure out patterns, that would be silly (and time consuming!), but this season, I’ve noticed, has been all about the molasses bread and no-knead sourdough.

And look, here they are, all tidy, in one basket, ready to take to church for a Friday service, then soup dinner.

Do you have soup dinners in your life, too? Times when a community comes together to do something, then you all share a meal after that something? At our church, we become a tight knit clan during Lent, praying together often, not just on Sundays, and we follow some of those times of prayer–with food. Together, we can all enjoy the soup and the bread, and swap recipes, and generally try to boost and encourage our fellow journeymen.

Long ago, my husband and I played on a soccer team, and after every single game in the summer, we shared a meal at a team member’s home. I’m sure we played better on the field ¬†because we broke bread together so often (we were the Red Hots!). Not only did we have Lucie, with her tough-as-a-bulldog-defending, but we had Eric, who made these amazing gooey chocolate chip cookies with pudding in them. Fun to remember those times, and how the soccer plus the food made us into a family.

Anyway, back to this Lenten season, this season of molasses bread and sourdough. Spring has come, and our yard is green all over–the plum tree has set fruit,

the callas and nasturtiums and succulents are in bloom,

and our favas are almost eight feet tall and covered with ripe and ready beans.

And I’ve been writing like a mad woman. I’ve been neglecting the house and scribbling stories about journeys, and hedgehogs, and researching spices, and wondering about the Kingdom of God. And I’ve been praying, and reading, and gardening and playing with my kids. And listening. I’ve been trying to open my ears, and just listen more.

But that’s enough about me. What has this season been for you? We’re about to enter a new realm, you know, with Easter and Pascha almost upon us. And certainly there will be change–there will be roasted chicken, that’s for sure–and maybe there will be chocolate shortbread, too.

Or rosemary rolls. Not sure yet.

Happy last days of Lent, everyone!¬†Enjoy this season, whatever that might mean for you this time around…