in the palm of His hand

On this cool and foggy morning, I hear the birds beginning their day, and know so much beauty is already pouring my way. People will converge and we will sing, and laugh, and feast together. A scraggly group, all gathered around a table, being family to one another.

This year, like every year of these forty-some odd years, has been filled with blessings too many to list. We live in a place and a time of peace, and I am able to be a mother, and a wife, and a friend, and a daughter, and a writer without anyone threatening who I am or where I’d like to go. I am so grateful.

And to you I send my very biggest cheers and prayers and wishes for a glorious day! May God keep you and hold you, and may you share the love that abounds inside of you with everyone–EVERY ONE–everywhere!

I leave you with a traditional Irish blessing…

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

May the rains fall soft upon your fields,

And, until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 

 

Giving Thanks (from the heart)

I’ve learned as of late that it’s not so very difficult to give thanks, even in the midst of hardship. God has surrounded us by so much goodness and beauty that it’s hard to ignore. When you’re broken, seeing the little things can be strangely easier. But even though we can appreciate those things which make us thankful, we need to take the harder step and live and speak and love in a constant┬áspirit of giving thanks.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks…

It’s true that…

I’m thankful for my home, my family, food, winter gardens, and sunshine. I’m thankful for my church, my country, and for God who loves me.

but it’s also true that…

I’m thankful for tears that really do heal. For a daughter who will tell me about her day, read to me the poems she writes, and play the piano early in the morning, filling the house with music.

I’m thankful for a small patch of grass, where I can spread a blanket and breathe some fresh air in the afternoon when I’m all done and can’t keep going. Grass, right here in my backyard, all cool, and inviting, and where miniature pinecones hide, and where John Ronan comes and plays all around me.

I’m thankful for matches that light on the first strike–a whole box of them, and just how easy it is to light a candle and say a prayer. I’m thankful for the people who pray for me.

I’m thankful for a long, wool, cozy sweater, that has given me warmth and a sense of safety these last few weeks.

I’m thankful for Carla who brought soup (twice!), for Viktoria who brought a vase of freesias, and for friends who have allowed me to say no to things during this busy season.

I’m thankful for hardship. Even though it’s HARD, you learn all sorts of things about being weak and being strong, and a little bit about being both at the same time.

I know that you, too, have a whole list of things for which you are thankful. Bless you…

But, let’s try to remember, you and me, to allow that spirit of giving, of giving thanks, to sit at the forefront of our hearts. So that when we’re cooking, and gathering with our family and friends, that our words

and actions

reflect the real thanksgiving that sits quietly inside us.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends…

In Honor of a Hard-working Sister

One enormous loaf of “Sister Bread” or “Pain a la Suzanne”

Mixed: Wednesday, 8 pm

Folded: Thursday, 10 am

Molded: Thursday, 10:20 am

Baked: Thursday 1 pm

Gave to: 18 very hungry Thanksgiving meal family folk–minus my sister ­čśŽ

My sister was once described as an Eveready Battery. She’s a dynamo, who charges into the world at 4am, teaches 23 aerobic classes in one week (I’m not kidding!), who somehow manages to still bake pies for parties, and can beat all of her siblings at pushups, long distance anything, and crossword puzzles.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and Suzanne could not join us for the big turkey meal out on the terrace. Unable to recharge her massive battery in time, she opted out of the two-hour drive to the desert and stayed home to celebrate the holiday, (which was also her birthday,) with a friend. Missing her, and in her honor, my older baker brother and I made the coolest loaf of bread ever, and named it Pain a la Suzanne. Only problem is, we ate it!

For all those people whose lives are just jam-packed with busyness as Suzie’s is, this loaf of bread is perfect. You need only the most basic ingredients–you quickly mix it the night before, then fold and mold it after a 15-18 hour rise, then bake it in a large enamel pot in the oven. The end result is a very crusty hearth loaf that has a sturdy, chewy, delicious crumb. The originator of this no nonsense recipe is Jim Lahey of┬á Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan–and I just dare you to try it!

Here’s a link to the recipe, followed by a photo of the bread coming out of the oven.

No Knead Dough Recipe

And here is my brother and husband trying to beam the bread from the desert to the coast. It didn’t work, and as I mentioned above, we ate it…

But even though we ate it, we’ll be baking again tomorrow, and the day after. We’ll get her a loaf soon–no worries there.

Happy Birthday, Suzanne. We love you…