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Winter is when home is needed most. In winter, home is our mother.
In Spring we fling open windows, we drift outdoors before it's really warm, ignoring goosebumps, thrilling to the sun. We count the days until the last frost, when we can put our tender seeds in the earth. We come alive all over again with every blossom.
Summer comes and we belong to the world. We belong to bonfires and peppers on a vine, to outdoor dinners and music in the park. Lazy sunsets make for late nights. Then, throughout Autumn, we nest and make ready for the people who will come. With windows open for as long as we can stand, we fill the house with cinnamon and burning-leaf smells. We run through corn mazes and long rows of trees heavy with apples. Through the Holidays, we make gifts and hang lights. We delight in thick sweaters and clouds of breath. This, most of all, is when we open our doors and spend time with all the hearts we love.
Most of the year, we make home out of fresh air and wandering, out of people, and noise, and creativity. We don't depend on our four walls; like independent children we wander. We do our best to be fully alive, do the work, give every drop.
But in the winter, after the people have gone, when the ground is hard and cold, when the sun has little to say and less to give; when we are beaten into retreat by the cold, this is when we take to our four walls. What we need from home, then, is rest. To replenish our bodies with good food and our souls with stillness and calm. In this season, we close the windows and doors and hide under blankets, heavy and warm. Home becomes the arms that hold us through the dark of winter, and it's okay to be empty for a time, here where it's full of light against the dark, full of warmth in the bitter cold. Home is the place where we are enough even when we are nothing.
We, her fair weather children, ask more of home in winter. We come running back, needing her like hungry children, worn out and banged up from playing in the wild.
And always she answers.
This winter, time to rest has been especially needed. It became clear that I have spent years deferring the process of dealing with the wear and tear caused by the ruts in the road of life. Losing my mom, rehabbing houses and relocating, friends moving, the year spent taking care of my dad and then his passing, Aaron's health challenges and the many things in between that have needed me to be strong and positive. For the most part, I am full of genuine hope. But when I started to feel discouraged and afraid and I wasn't sure why, when that began to affect my decisions and motivation, I realized I haven't given myself the time to work through these many things which are hard. I think this is how we lose ourselves. We go through a rough time, but we defer maintenance and repair, until one day we discover that we're not moving forward smoothly and steadily anymore. We're in a bad way because haven't stopped to take care of the vehicle we've asked to go over some rough terrain. I'm using a car reference. I know. That's kind of weird for me. Point is, when we don't look our hardships and challenges in the eye we lose the chance to 1. minimize the damage and 2. decide for ourselves what affect they'll have on us. The only solution is to get off the road for a while, until you can put things back together again.
So, this winter, I took to my home, I shut the door on going and doing, making and pushing. I said no to everything I could say no to, I postponed all non-essential errands, I worked from home instead of the coffee shop, I put off visits with my beloved friends. Basically everything and everyone except my family, and the work that I needed to do. I unhooked from the perpetual pressure to create, to make the wheels turn; although I was still joyful, I laid down the need to be happy and fine. At least I tried.
That stillness was hard for me. I'm almost always in motion. It was hard to look in the inner mirror, too. Some of what I saw I didn't like. And some of what I found was familiar but long forgotten. In the end, it was good because I'm coming away from this time reminded of what I'm made for, with a will to change what I can and accept what I cannot. Which is, I think, the AA prayer. To be clear, I'm not in AA. This hasn't been a veiled admission about my being in recovery. I'd just like to borrow the sentiment.
One thing I know going forward is that I'm entering a season in life which is more home-centric. With approaching motherhood and our quest for health, plus my own ever increasing hunger for simplicity, compounded by the desire to learn the skills we'll want for when we get to land, this is my time to focus on the home fires. Before there was a much larger priority placed on out-of-home career endeavors. Not that I don't still have work. I do. It's just that I'm shifting the priority.
And, with all of these home things, it seems like it makes sense to write down the important stuff. Recipes and projects, so I don't have to recreate the wheel, and some of the stories too, because this is what's going to matter in the end. And so, I've decided to blog a year at home.
I think it will be a lot of recipes, structured around our specific health needs (more on that in another post), some household and garden projects, updates on my creative work, and some about our adoption, too. We always fall into recipe habits, with five or six things in regular rotation at the table, until we get a craving for something else. It will be good to write it down, though, so I can go back to it later. But you can follow along with the seasons at our table.
I'm kicking off with this Lemon Poppyseed Blueberry Muffin recipe.
I'd been craving blueberry muffins for about two weeks when I went in to the grocery and found organic pints on sale for $.88! I bought 8 of them, some for muffins, the rest to be frozen for smoothies (...and more muffins.) Then I saw Meyer lemons and in my sun-deprived state, I pounced. Besides, who doesn't love lemon and blueberry? I added poppyseeds at the last minute, because they're full of protein - 18g for a half cup! They're also loaded with vitamin B, plus they've got magnesium and calcium, both of which the body needs to properly use Vitamin D. These aren't *strictly* Aaron-Friendly, because they have some egg, but they're me-friendly for sure.
Blueberry Poppyseed Muffins infused with Meyer Lemon
2C Oat Flour
1t Baking Powder
½ t Baking Soda
¼ t Salt
2½ t Vanilla
1½ Meyer Lemon
¼ C Coconut Oil
½ C Honey
3T Cashew Butter
1C Blueberry (or more, to taste)
3-4T Poppyseeds (To taste)
Preheat oven to 350℉.
Peel half of a Meyer Lemon. (You'll want to finely zest the other half and set zest aside. Make sure in both cases you don't get the bitter white pith under the skin) In a small saucepan heat coconut oil, honey, vanilla and lemon peel. Bring to simmer, stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes, taking care that the sugar in the honey doesn't burn. There will be small bubbles around the edge and mixture will turn golden and fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. I make my own oat flour by processing the called-for amount in a coffee bean grinder I've designated for flours. You could also use a food processor, although the consistency won't be as fine. You can also buy oat flour.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then combine with lemon juice from 1½ Meyer Lemons. Add cashew butter and continue mixing. Slowly strain oil and honey mixtureinto egg mixture, whisking together as you go. Once combined, blend wet and dry ingredients together. Add lemon zest, poppyseeds and blueberries.
Bake at 350℉ for 22 minutes or until firm to the touch.