Celebrating a Sister-in-Law

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When I started baking several years ago, a few of my sister-in-laws were curious. Over these many years of family trips back and forth between here and there (eight hours by car–Santa Barbara to Scottsdale) we have talked more than a bit about bread, we have baked together, and broken many a loaf together as families do…

Fast forward a couple of years and now these girls bake for their families, their friends, and even bake for me! During our family’s last trip to Arizona, without any prompting from my corner, I spied one sister-in-law baking three times over seven days! I didn’t say much–not wanting to scare her out of the habit, but, WoW!

I’m so thrilled that this habit caught on and that she’s finding meaning in doing something the Slow way, and offering her family

food made with two hands

and lots and lots of love.

 

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How a Bread Eater Stays Thin :: Being Slow

Face it. The evidence is overwhelming. Too many carbs will make you fat. Our country has gone carb and junk food crazy and it’s showing. Even kids these days are struggling with diabetes and over-eating issues.

But you know all this…

With my father as a baker, we always had bread in the house. Fresh bread, every day, came home from those fabulous old brick ovens at 512 Rose Avenue. I bet I ate a sandwich on sourdough bread every day of my elementary school life! I loved salami and yellow mustard best. (Still do!)

Over three posts I’m going to outline a bit how our family, despite the enticement of fresh bread being pulled regularly from the oven, has managed to stay thin.

Quick Disclaimer! I am not a medical doctor. I don’t pretend to be a nutritionist. My only expertise is a lifetime of trying to be Jane.

Slow.

My husband and I used to own a much bigger home, and spend more money, and drive more miles, and consume many more goods. We were the kind of Americans who helped the people in Washington DC do the Happy Dance. Somewhere along the line we made a few big decisions and moved (from Colorado to Santa Barbara) for a variety of personal reasons. We found ourselves at a time of change, which allowed us to make all sorts of choices about our lives. We set out on a course to live more simply, and slowly, and have been adjusting this past decade, with more changes probably still to come.

I believe that many of these changes have helped us live a happier, healthier life–keeping us fit and thin. Here are a few examples of how choosing slow–over the alternative of fast–has kept us in shape.

Walking Shoes. Well, we wear sandals most of the year, but we chose to buy a home in a neighborhood that is near many services. It is a quarter mile walk to: two food markets; the post office; the hair salon; a bookstore; three coffee shops; dry cleaners, etc… You get the idea. When there’s a choice to walk or drive to pick up those fall pumpkins using the blue wagon, even if it means taking an extra half hour, we walk. And when it’s a bit too far to walk, we (my husband mostly) hops on the bike. Down to the farmer’s market, off to the beach. We’ve even set our big kids free, encouraging them to get places on foot. Three miles to downtown to hang out with their friends. They plan a bit in advance, put on their favorite pair of Vans and off they go.

Muscle Power. In our home we have an assortment of appliances and machines, just like in other homes. A mixer, a vacuum, a waffle maker, a dryer, even a mini food processor. But when it comes to making choices, we typically choose the slow, electricity-free route. We use a push mower on our lawn, we sweep with a broom, we knead our bread by hand, we crush the croutons into bread crumbs using the mortar and pestle, we hang our sheets on the line, we even gave away our microwave. If there’s an opportunity to get fit and do a chore, we choose the muscle-building route. It may take a bit longer, but in the end we’ve saved energy, money, and burned a few calories all in one swoop! Not a bad tradeoff.

Saying No. This is a big one, and something we have to struggle against constantly. We try to live a life that leaves us time to sit and chat with the neighbors. We say no to many extra activities so that we can take a walk after dinner, or go for a hike on a Saturday morning. Sure, my husband is on the parish council at church, and I volunteer at my kids high school often, but we know our limits. Being out every evening at meetings, rushing from place to place changes the way you eat, and live. Suddenly you’re sitting at In n Out, munching down fries and a hamburger. Or drinking too much soda in the afternoon to keep you awake. Or having to drive that quarter mile to the store simply because you don’t have two extra minutes in your schedule.

Eating Together. Though breakfast and lunch are a bit scattered, with most of us on different schedules, we always have dinner together. Every night we set the table, light the candle, prepare a healthy meal and sit around our table, eating, laughing, planning and simply being together. We don’t watch TV and eat. Well, we don’t watch TV at all. We eat our food slowly (most of us, Andrew!), teaching our kids to enjoy a variety of different foods and to enjoy them in company. Dinner is at least an hour long, and later there is herbal tea in the pot.

So, there’s some of what we do to live a life that isn’t flying by at super speed and that helps keep us active and thin, despite fresh enticing loaves of bread. I know many of you live this way too. I’d love to hear your ideas–feel free to add any and all in the comment section below.

Cheers, my friends!

Grateful

Two loaves of molasses bread

Mixed: 1:10 pm

Molded: 2:45 pm

Baked: 3:30 pm

Gave one loaf to Jack

I’m enjoying summer. The pace is slow, and the weather is delicious. I’ve been reading (a bit), and writing (a lot), and taking the kids to the beach. We’ve been eating dinner out back, the doors flung wide open, and slowly cleaning the house, emptying drawers and closets at an even and steady pace.

My last effort in giving fit just perfectly with this easy and grateful mood I’m in. The molasses bread was still warm and I could see that Jack, our across-the-street neighbor, who always looks after the house when we’re away, was home. I slid the loaf into a small brown bag, walked across the street and knocked on the door.
“Thanks for all you do, Jack.”

“I don’t do anything!”

“You do, too. Enjoy the bread…”

He smiled, I smiled, and I slowly returned home, marveling at the still-blooming orchids on the front porch.

I don’t know… The simplicity of it all. Of just baking, and giving, and staring at orchid blossoms, and doing it all at a human pace. A pace where you have the time to sit on the porch for a minute before going in  (where five teenagers are devouring the other loaf of molasses bread). I know school is coming again soon, and that I’ll have to shift into second, then third, and even fourth gear at times… But for now, I’m so thankful for the time to really look at what’s around me–the bird chirping on the telephone wire, the fig turning from green to purple, the yeast bubbling in the warm water…

Yes, grateful.

What about you? What sort of slow movements have you noticed in your world this summer?