Last night after a long day of running around and catching up on things that got neglected over the weekend, I found myself craving a soothing way to end the string of hours that made up my busy Monday. After steeping some green tea, I tiptoed upstairs as not to wake the boys and grabbed the new book I’m reading. It’s called Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist. Have you read it? I am only about sixty pages in, and already I’ve found it to be both grounding and inspirational. It’s full of little anecdotes that remind me of my own tribe of woman that has been meeting weekly for years now; a group of woman that are very much family to me. I love it when the worlds makes me look inward and take stock of the gifts I have in my life. Practicing gratitude will never get old.
Book in hand, I quietly went back downstairs and opened up our creaky, old, dinged up chest in the living room, a big wooden toolbox (we assume) found at a neighborhood garage sale, now a home for wool blankets and such. On the nearby blue velvet chair I snuggle up with my warm mug, a new evening ritual of mine, and my new book. The TV was off and remotes were hidden, something else we are trying to do more of before bedtime. We have found that too much stimulation before bed really makes it hard to fall asleep. My mind easily slips into the habit of racing and wandering in the night. And while we love movies and getting into a good show on Netflix, it’s important to us to take a few nights off a week to connect with something other than a screen.
With Stella at my feet playing legos and Andrew to my left reading as well, the quiet of the night came through the windows we had cracked and I poured over the pages, wanting to highlight each one. I noticed as I turned the page, that the summer cicadas were no longer playing with one another outside our home. Just another reminder that autumn is near. The stillness is coming. Because this book was lent to me from a new friend, I refrained from highlighting or underscoring or even page folding, but that didn’t stop me from scrawling down bits of her wisdom in my journal along the way. I am such a student. Always and forever taking note and hoping to catch moments throughout my day that remind me how truly beautiful it is to be alive.
I kept reading and kept jotting, and though barely into the book landed on a little chapter called, “My Mom’s Blueberry Crisp.” Although comfy in my chair with my toes curled under my lap, it felt as though I was being invited by the author herself to scoot on into the kitchen with Stella and prep what would be the next day’s breakfast. Crisp in the morning, why not? So into the kitchen we went. It took less than ten minutes to prepare with help from my little blueberry thief, and together we measured and scooped and stored the wet and dry goods in little containers to make things easier on me in the morning. Luckily, we had everything we needed on hand! I always have some sort of frozen fruit in the freezer, and as for the dry ingredients, I try to keep our pantry stocked with whatever you could think of to make a pie, a tart, or a crisp. I followed Shauna’s mom’s recipe fairly closely, changing the amount of maple syrup it called for because we really love maple syrup over here. So instead of a fourth of a cup, I added a half cup. I also added a fourth of a cup of brown sugar for a little extra sweetness. Maple and brown sugar are one of my favorite combinations.
Before the kids were awake the next morning I crept down to assemble our crisp and put it in the oven. Just like I had hoped, everyone woke to the sugary smell of bubbling blueberries and I got to sip my morning coffee in what I call mama solitude: a moment just for me to start my day off in a positive direction. Staring off the morning with a bit of alone time is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I hope to craft a post about all the simple changes I made when I took a break from social media this summer, morning time being one of them.
Alas, when the timer went off I took the crisp out and served it in little bowls with cold cream. The kids loved it and Alfie tried to lick the berry juice off his highchair. The recipe can be found in the images above, but just in case that is difficult to read, here it is again for you.
Shauna’s Mom’s Blueberry Crisp + Extra Sweetness
- 4 cups blueberries (or any fruit, really)
- crisp topping
- 1 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
To prepare, mix together crisp ingredients. Pour the berries into a baking dish then layer the crisp topping over it. Bake at 350 degrees for about forty minutes or until the top is golden and the berries are bubbling. Serve with yogurt, cold cream, or ice cream. Serves 4-6.
Let us get back to this charming book. Andrew and I have been dreaming about creating what we want to call “Supper Club” for some time now. Late at night, we sometimes talk about ideas for our supper club, drinks we could try, or new recipes that would be exciting to share. Truth be told, we used to host so many dinner parties back at our old condo and it was one of our favorite things! For some reason, I’ll go ahead and say it has something to do with bedtimes and little ones, we haven’t kept up that special tradition of ours. We so enjoy having people in our home, along with the wonderful opportunity to connect with those we love over meals at our table. After reading bits of Shauna’s experience with this, it inspired me to want to push forward with our little dream and try it too! Andrew and I have always wanted to gather our friends and build community over something we all love and the common language all of us speak: yummy food. I already have in mind little themes we could build on like France in the 20’s or Spanish tapas. I believe gathering for long, thoughtful meals is such a simple but profound way to deepen the relationships we have with our friends, apart from small talk at play dates and birthday parties. Do any of you do this? I think this upcoming season and its invitation into slowness will be a perfect one to start such a journey.