Life can overwhelm you if you let it. Tiny moments of decision throughout the day determine the weight of the burdens we carry.
Like this morning, when I noticed the smudge of whipped cream vanilla frosting on the inside wall of my refrigerator. That frosting came from one of six dozen cupcakes, chocolate or lemon, I baked for my daughter’s high school graduation party.
In two weeks, my daughter will start her third year of college.
You can stop reading now, if you’re too grossed out imagining the state of my kitchen appliances. But one day, I’m going to die.
When that day comes, I will not have spent a precious moment feeling badly about myself for not being a better housekeeper.
I'm giving you a heads-up so you won't be caught empty handed on Mother's Day. Look at this loaf!
I made it Easter morning with very little time and effort, and I promise you can whip it out, too. Yeast breads are much easier than they look.
Step 1--You will need to take some initiative and find a sweet bread recipe. If you don't have a basic cookbook, google "sweet bread recipe". Make sure it calls for butter, eggs and sugar or honey. If it doesn't, google again.
Step 2--Follow the recipe, doubling the amount of yeast, and make the dough the night before Mother's Day. [I'm giving you this extra weekend, in case you feel the need to practice. You won't regret having a loaf to eat yourself.] Put the dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight. Have on hand, a jar of raspberry jam, a can of almond paste and a cup of fresh or frozen raspberries.
Step 3--Mother's Day morning you need to get up and take the dough out of the fridge at 6AM, then go back to sleep for a couple hours. Then, get up about two hours before you want to serve the bread hot from the oven.
Dump the dough onto a flat clean surface and roll or press into a rectangle about 9 X 13 inches. With a knife point, draw two lines marking the dough into three long, even sections. Spread a layer of jam down the center section. Slice the almond paste into flat pieces and lay along the top of the jam. Sprinkle the raspberries evenly on top the almond paste.
With scissors or knife, cut 1/2 inch horizontal strips in both outer sections of dough, running from the edge almost to the jam.
Fold one end up slightly so the filling won't run out, and begin crossing the strips over one another until you reach and seal the opposite end.
Lift the braid carefully onto a baking pan and let raise in a warm place (70-90 degrees) for one hour. During this time you can relax, drink coffee, read the paper or mop the kitchen floor. After about 45-50 minutes pre-heat the over to 350 degrees. While the oven is heating take one egg white and mix it with two tablespoons of water. Then in a separate bowl, mix half a cup of powered sugar with a tablespoon of milk or cream to make icing.
When the bread has risen for one hour, very, very gently brush the egg white mixture over the top of the loaf with the corner of a paper towel. Bake the braid on the middle rack for 30 minutes.You can tell it's done when it's nicely browned on top and sounds hollow when you knock it with your knuckle. Take it out of the oven and drizzle it with icing. Serve immediately. I guarantee your mother and/or mother-in-law will be impressed.
Now wasn't that easy?
Great visit with the students of Onion Creek School. Wrote stories with the 6-8th graders. Impressive young people.
The younger students enjoyed my historical mining artifacts.
And on the way home--I saw two moose.
I know it looks like one moose twice. But, honest...it's two unique moose!
One of the few perks of being a struggling writer, unpaid and unrecognized, is the freedom to choose where you work. When my husband and I moved our young family to Spokane years ago, the dream of writing books for children stood far back on a dusty shelf in my mind.
While looking for a house, we visited one with a second story sun porch. The moment I saw it, I thought—what a perfect place for writing. My husband liked the big back yard with room for kids and a dog to run around. So we bought it. The house needed fixing-up, and the sun porch was first on the list because, for a few years, it would be a nursery.
It wasn’t until that baby was five years old that I started writing on the sun porch.
The baby is seventeen, now. Getting published has required much more learning, practice, perseverance, and time than I anticipated. If I counted up the hours I’ve spent in the sun porch and divided them by the dollars and cents I’ve earned, my income would be far in the negative.
So why do I keep writing? Because I have a dream that someday I’ll write the next Harry Potter? No. I write because most days when I go out on my sun porch and close the door, I’m happy. Some days, I’m miserable, discouraged and tormented, but most days, I’m happy. In the winter the sun streams in. In the summer, I look out at a huge one-hundred-year-old leafy-green sycamore tree. In all seasons, I write.
I love words and the challenge of choosing the right ones and putting them together in the right way to say exactly what I want to say. I love stories, I love exploring character. Through writing I discover who I am.
Check out these photos from my friend Bob Harkins who is on his way to Antarctica
to sail aboard the bark Europa. Bob says, "Yesterday I rode a catamaran through the channel between Argentina and Chile on the way to the sea."
"We made a couple of stops and two fly-bys of small islands so we could greet the locals. We didn't get off the boat on Penguin Island. The captain just put the bow on the beach."
" This whole area is surrounded by snow capped mountains. It's cloudy most days of the year. It gets to almost 60 on the warm days. Ushuaia is the southern most city in the world and is full of lots of very friendly people. Clearly my Spanish needs work. I'm not sure what I ordered for dinner last night, but the waiter returned with a shoe and a banana."
A recent study in Britain found that people had reduced chocolate cravings after taking a brisk fifteen minute walk.
I find it easier just to eat some chocolate.
Did you know cocoa has 550 flavor compounds after fermentation, drying, roasting and conching?
A carrot has 96 flavor compounds.
I think my position is perfectly clear.
I like this quote.
"We saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, who saved her, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon…And then it was all eulogized and explained by our African-American president" — Mark Shields quotes historian Allen Ginsberg on PBS NewsHour.
And that heroic college student, Daniel Hernandez, is gay.
Everything outside my window wears a pure, white cloak. I love looking out at the fresh fallen snow, the way it balances on bare branches, dresses up dirty winter streets and softens everything.
I remember the afternoon of my fifth birthday when the first snowflakes of the winter started to fall. I believed, in that sure way only a small child can, that the snow was falling just for me. I wore my favorite dress with pink polka-dots. It was the Mad Men era when little girls wore dresses, even on days it snowed.
Nature didn’t guarantee snow would stick where I lived. Usually it was a sloppy mess, soon turning to rain. Only once every few years, did enough pile up that we could go sledding on the hill behind our house. Nothing but the coming of Christmas caused more joy.
Now I live where it snows every winter and we measure it in feet, not inches. Oh, it can be a pain, the cold, the shoveling, the dangerous driving. But I have a five-year-old in me that still gazes in wonder. Because it’s beautiful and I know it’s just for me.