...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Taking Time to Pause

Lights of hope
When I work at my part-time pastry job baking and preparing goodies that I've made so many times it's become second nature, I often find plenty of space to let my mind wander and process the events of the week, conversations I've had, things I've written or read.  Sometimes I've mentally outlined a blog post or occasionally come up with something I think is clever enough to post on Facebook.  But after the tragedy in Newtown, CT on Friday morning everything I thought I had planned to say didn't seem to matter.  It didn't seem appropriate to be in a joyful mood, tell funny stories, or get excited about the upcoming weekend.  All that seemed to matter was pausing to think about the lives lost at that school and in that community.

Many people are still reeling from the news, and rightfully so.  I was at quite a loss for words until this morning's work session when I had more time to process.  At this point, though many are still grieving and trying to absorb this awful scene, I am finding that some people are seeking distraction or at least something to give them a momentary laugh or peek at hope.  I wasn't feeling it would be appropriate to post anything joyful here for a few days, but now I'm realizing that if one has purposefully visited my blog that maybe he or she is looking for a distraction, inspiration, or sense of community.

Here are my thoughts from this morning:

In light of recent tragedies I've been reminded just how precious and short life is. We should live EVERY day to the fullest because it could be our last. We shouldn't need a Mayan calendar to tell us so. Remember to take every opportunity to be kind; offer a smile; hug your friends, family, kids; right your wrongs; speak the truth; give more; listen more; sing and dance; enjoy the silence; put more value on relationsh
ips (with neighbors, nature, family, and friends) instead of materials; do what you love; eat more bacon, or whatever living life to the fullest means to you. Don't wait till New Year's Day to make a fresh start.

I love Mary Oliver's poem "Summer Day" and this quote adapted from it--"This is the day, this is the one wild and precious life we are given. Let us all find a way to rejoice and be glad in it," (adapted by our UU minister the Reverend Drew Kennedy).

I have certainly not experienced anything close to the grief and devastation as the families and community in CT so I won't pretend to know what it's like.  But I will say that I don't believe in living in fear.  Of course this same tragedy could happen to any of us anywhere whether it's in a school or other public place, whether it's a "place of God" or not.  None of us are immune.  With the reminder that life is so short and precious, the only thing I can think to do is keep moving forward and celebrating it to the fullest.  As soon as we start living in fear, we begin to defeat that purpose.  

On that note, we move forward with our celebration of the holidays.  The extra time I've spent with my daughter lately has been particularly valuable in the last few days.  As we light our candles, we send an extra wish of hope for peace, kindness, and love out into the universe.  This light has been the common thread between so many of the interfaith holidays we've explored this month.  We made a pseudo-lighted head wreath for our St. Lucia celebration last Thursday (Dec. 13), lit the third candle of our Advent wreath for JOY, lit the candles on our menorah for the final evening of Hanukkah on Saturday, and moved on to lighting our farolito for Las Posadas this week.  Ever since an evening vigil for a friend who passed tragically in college, I've always been amazed by how a candle flame can grow and be passed along.  It's been sort of symbolic to pass this light from holiday celebration to holiday celebration, culture to culture, faith to faith as we've gone through the weeks of December and soon into January.  Let us find a place to pass this light into the world after our holiday exploration is finished. (Ironically, shortly after I posted this I read this entry from a fellow Wisconsin blogger who also mentions spreading this light into the world.  I love her sentiments.)

Preparing the dough for our St. Lucia saffron buns.
Saffron buns shaped and ready for the second rise.
Baked golden brown, a yeasted dough success.
Swedish Glogg.  Interesting how so many cultures have
spiced, sweetened, warm beverages for the holidays.
We've learned that we're definitely not used to these
sweet drinks.
Our St. Lucia.  I finished this off-white outfit just in time.
She can't wait to dig in.  With butter please.
And some GF pepperkakor.
Glogg and Gingersnaps, a perfect Swedish snack.
Lighting our farolito and V's
hand-print poinsettia for
Las Posadas
Buñuelos for Las Posadas
Simple Sopa de Albóndigas for our first Las Posadas meal of the week
Finally using some of the piloncillo I've had in my
pantry.  Perfect for our Ponche Navideño
Ponche Navideño--dried fruits, nuts, and tejocotes, sugar cane, guava.
Now to add the rum or brandy.  We'll sip on it all week.


  1. Thank you for exploring other traditions and helping me remember some of mine. My mom's family is Swedish and your post made me want to look into more Swedish traditions that I hope to incorporate next year. GOD JUL!!!! - Chrissy

  2. Chrissy, if we're ever together mid-Dec. we'll have to celebrate St. Lucia.