Slow Food and Artisan Recipes and You can, too!

Previously published in the Hughson Chronicle-Denair Dispatch


Living seasonally, we can feel the changes more deeply. The peaches are long gone, watermelon season fades, squash arrives in droves and apple season arrives. For months my home and children will be joyfully inundated with granny smith apples. Some apples will turn to sauce, some will be roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon, some will be buried in pie crust, and a great many more will be eaten whole, entirely whole, because no seeds will stop these children from enjoying every last bite.

Pumpkins began to fill my house in early August. They are on the mantle, end tables, dining tables, china cabinet. Little warty gourds punctuate their space with character and whimsy.




Above the window hangs a banner made simply with orange, linen-look fabric from Rainbow Fabrics, a permanent marker, printed words from the computer and graphite paper. It reads “Beatus Autumnum”. The phrase, meaning“Blessed Autumn,” lasts longer than Happy Halloween and it seems more special to us in Latin than English.

Soup season has begun. Tomato basil from the last harvest outpouring, acorn squash and butternut squash. My husband experiments with recipes, but his classic melts me over every time.

Grilled cheese sandwiches accompany the tomato basil soup. The bread is homemade. The vegetables are garden grown. Sounds ideal, doesn’t it? I hear it and read it and it sounds like the high life, so artisan, but actually, we do this because it is what we can afford. With four kids and two freelancers, we have to grow our own vegetables and bake our own bread.

The things that make the season richer are actually the things that cost less in money and more in time, planning and effort. The payoff is greater.

You can get raspberries and strawberries year-round. You cannot find canned pumpkin in spring, but only so sales will boom in the fall (and who buys it in spring, anyway?). Out society is very seasonable about pumpkin, but for fruit and the delicacies of summer, people head to the store and buy it at will.

The same for apples. The same for carrots. Well, my family eats carrots year-round, too.

It is a form of slow living to allow the seasons to exist in themselves. A vegetable garden can be had on a small plot of land. I sent my grandmother home with a handful of fresh herbs and acorn squash. We grow the squash at my parents’ house outside city limits, but the herbs are right there, in the front yard.

The kids are living on green smoothies. Kale and chard grow alongside my lawn (in some cases, in my lawn) and the blueberries were picked at Vanderhelm Farms in June, then frozen.

The good life is at our fingertips inviting us to enjoy the moment, the season.

Last year our garden did not thrive. We ended up with mostly chard. The winter conversation was “just get it in the ground.” Forget planter boxes, diagrams and fancy plans, just get the seeds in the ground.

Now I have sunflowers on my dining table.




30 minutes of work a day, then the effort to cut and remember to use. It can be done. There are endless resources on how to do it. For us, the biggest step was to make a choice to go the less convenient route. There is an element of self-control to plan your recipes around what they are selling at the fruit stand of what sits on your kitchen counter after a harvest. If you live in a place with traditional winters, the planning is all the more important. We do not have that problem here.

For an outing, we drove out to Indegny Reserve, packed a picnic with acorn squash soup, fruit bars and leftover pizza.

We do not subsist solely on stuff we grow. We live in town after all, and the United States, and the 21st century. I love that if I need something, I can usually find it. In my mind, the produce makes the season, and if it gets children excited, therein lies the joy of parenting.

After the effort, I find myself excited for apple season.



Discloser of Material Connection: I am a freelance writer for the Hughson Chronicle. As such, this is a “sponsored post,” reprinted with permission. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Seasons of Fall and Focus


It’s September! I am now at the age to feel how time moves more quickly than my awareness, but I am not sorry. Where did the time go? Do I miss the moments?

I hope the “moment” then evolved into the moments now, representing a gradual increase rather than the loss of time. It is only with the ones who passed away that I have missed time. For the rest, it is all still with me.

I looked back at “What I Learned This Spring,” written early in summer. Considering what I learned this summer, like time and life, several of the items merely deepened. While I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack less, I spent the summer reading the letters of Flannery O’Connor, compiled in “The Habit of Being.” Alongside, I pick up her short stories as she discusses them in her letters.



I wrote in the spring that I learned she is brilliant; this summer I learned she is wise, funny, poignant, kind, sympathetic, opinionated and faithful. I want to be like her. Her correspondence gave me the courage to send my writing out, to ask other writers for advice, and some exciting avenues developed from there.

Are we willing to be vulnerable with our talents in order to improve them? In this individualistic society, how difficult is it to ask, “how’m I doing?” and get feedback.

Pretty difficult, I’d say.

Seeing a writer, so polished, still asking for feedback, again and again, was inspiring.

My ambition over the summer grew and as August waned, it became clear the focus must shift again. Perhaps I write that every three months: time to step back, to be present at home, etc, etc.


Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash


Some of us need a push out the door. Some of us need a pull back inside. Balance is as individual as the individuals trying to achieve it. Let no self-help tell you differently.

This summer we took everything we learned in spring about how not to take a vacation and applied it, rather successfully to our vacation plans early in August, which I shared about here and on my blog. Little by little, if we choose to reflect, we learn, little by little; if we choose to work, we improve.

In this new season of life, I learned I need breaks: breaks from responsibilities, from taking care of the business and scheduling of home, from the visible to-do list that greets me when I walk in the door.

And I took breaks.

My daughter went to summer camp, I took her and stayed a night on the coast, solo, for the first time since…since…before children roamed my home and ruled my life. I read “Gifts from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh and I felt my soul breathe.

In the heat of the summer, I both learned how to be better at my job, but then became so overwhelmed by other responsibilities that my article output grew lean. I am working on leaning in again.

How often do your seasons of life change? When the season changes, the focus changes. From freedom to fourth period, from vacation to holiday planning. Fall brings with it a renewed focus on education, on getting things done and on getting things right, and on the future. The excitement of holiday decorating and pumpkin spice everything lies just around the corner.

We are used to this happening but when the season in our personal sphere changes, are we ready to adapt? Can we step back, learn to say no the things we cannot do and yes to the things we now can? Can we accept our limitations when our former commitments prove too much? Can we ask for help?

I am learning this as I go along. The good thing is, when we are living life intentionally, trying to do the best we can, there is very little room for “I should have known.” If you should have known, but whatever it is still happened or didn’t happen, there was some other obstacle, so now you know that for next time.

Knowledge grows. Experience grows. Time not only moves behind us but it grows as we mark the years of our lives, the days on the calendar, the seasons on our storage boxes.

Let’s see what it holds.



Reeling and Recentering

I’m reeling this morning. I am back to listening to the Memento Mori playlist on spotify because I live generally close to the edge and every now and I get pushed off.

This morning it was the homily. Not what the priest said. He said very nice things, exhortations and whatnot. It was what he chose not to say. That he encouraged us to point the finger to ourselves, address our consciences, not treat the powerful better than the little guy. In between the gaps, I raged, desperate for him to say, “and your shepherds have failed at this, but a lot of us are trying.”

The quote from St. Catherine of Siena travels around Facebook, “We’ve had enough of exhortations to be silent! Cry out with a hundred thousand tongues. I see that the world is rotten because of silence.”




I am home now; I have to refocus. I cannot walk around in a rage all day. I can send off my emails, schedule to meet with a priest, who is himself speaking out, to balance my perspective and focus on what is closest to me.

They say to think of things you’re grateful. I’m going to review the photos from the week. The world seems to be falling down around us, but the good things remain, even in this crisis. I learned that as my child was pumped full of antibiotics in his early life and when we buried our daughter. I can remember now, even as I try to understand how men can be so evil.


At the fullness of time, God created a woman, born without sin, knowing this woman, full of grace, would allow him to work his wonders of her life and, subsequently, change the world.

On September 8 we celebrated the Birth of Mary.

I suppose because birthday days matters around here, we celebrate her’s too.

This year I made a Sour Cream Coffee Cake.




And it actually turned out.




And we honored our Queen, queen because she is the mother to the King of the Universe.




That event became the unofficial beginning of fall in our home.




Pumpkins from the garden.






Sunflowers from the garden.




The return of the “Beatus Autumnum” which means Blessed Fall.




I experiment with this concept of “selfies,” aka, the self-portrait. This might sum up life right now.




Some photographs are better blurry than in focus. I’ll take it. My children delighted in the enormous balloon acquired following Edible Extravaganza.




This is what matters. I have to sort out the mess of my heart. In the meantime, there is laundry to fold, smiles to savor and little people to tend to.

I’ll take that, too.



Three ways to savor the goodness of the moment

Feature photos of the week (ix)

My inclination is to workaholicism. On Thursday, March 15, I finished the final edit of my book and book proposal and sent it off to four lucky publishers. Despite appearances, send it off shook me quite a bit. The act of submitting one’s work for evaluation…is it worth it…is it good enough…

I have months to wait to find out.

In the meantime, I am enjoying not working (as much). My goal was to submit by summer. Goal met.

Now I reflect on life, more than usual, more than just for the sake of writing and producing something to publish, but because I see my patience worn thin. The kids are tired of me working so much, as is the spouse, as am I.

This week is all about savoring the small moments.

Take accidents with a dose of laughter.

A few items were delivered by mistake in Peter’s medical shipment. We know how to make the most of these errors.


Watch when they don’t think you’re watching.

“Rest time” is a joke. Two children chose to rest out of doors before the rainy season began again.

It fills my heart to hear them talk together, play together, build their world together. We cannot give them everything. I am so glad we gave them each other.

20180308_125958 2

Love your bed.

I am on the hunt for the perfect set of sheets. Pima or Supima cotton percale, long-staple, pure white sheets that will not drive us into debt. Is it so much to ask? Apparently, because for the second time since this intentional search, the fitted sheet has worn thin and torn.

Time to invest. Enter Brooklinen, previously given loving looks of longing but avoided because of the high sticker shock.


Then I read the website.

“We take great pride in the craftsmanship of our sheets and expertise of our manufacturing team. As such, we provide a lifetime warranty on all of our sheets. If your sheets ever pill, rip, or fray, simply give us a shout and we’ll repair it. If a repair is impossible, we will replace the item free of charge.”

  1. Lifetime guarantee…I started a live chat, they really mean it, even though they recommended replacing the sheets every two years, they will still guarantee them.
  2. They will try to repair first. The EPA estimates about 21 billion pounds of textiles go into our landfills each year. I am so pleased to see a company making the effort.

I have not made the bed yet with the new sheets. I want to wash the sheets on a sunny day to dry on the clothesline. Crisp white sheets, the fragrance that comes with fresh air and not another additive, that moment when I quote my three-year-old, “my feet are fighting” because I cannot stop moving them around the bed, feeling the goodness of the moments, the goodness of sheets, the goodness of home.

Note: I wish this were a sponsored post and contained affiliate links, but it is not.