Photo by Jon Sullivan (

Today is the longest day of 2012, and tonight is the shortest night. It’s one of those threshold moments when we stop and reflect. I’ve got so much to reflect on that I’m practically blind; the mirror is showing me more than I can make sense of.

For a few months now, I’ve felt like this particular Summer Solstice would be an important threshold for me. One that I would be really present for. Instead, it’s crashed over me, and now I’m dazzled by the light.

My little Leo and I celebrated Litha by eating berries and napping together through the hottest part of the day. Aingeal was working. I wanted desperately to be engaged today. I had editing and writing and cleaning to do for practical life. I had cleansing and reflecting and a nice hot fire to commemorate the oncoming dying of the light.

Instead, I crawled around on the floor in my pajamas and let a 10 month old chase me. I giggled with my little guy. I rocked him and nursed him when he came over to me and asked, in his way that has no words, to snuggle. I spent today just being Leo’s mommy.

A sad, tired part of me needed that. I’ve been spending the last 9 months so focused on being the best teacher and student that I can be; I’ve been trying to be a better partner and lamenting the coldness and strangeness that I feel around my identity as a lover. For some reason, I’ve felt that I had to be awesome at these things before I could be awesome at being a mommy.

But Leo, he just wants to know I’m there. Nursing isn’t his main source of food anymore, but it’s still an important source. Sometimes, after he’s gone on a crazy exploring burst around the house, he’ll crawl up into my lap (with sufficient help) and do a check-in nurse. He won’t relax, like he does at nap time, but he’ll melt into me with his whole being. He’s watching the room, the dog, the cats, but he’ll pat my side or grab my chin. Full physical contact is what he craves at those moments. We’re not completely separate yet. He just wants to know I’m there and wants to share the exciting magical world with me.

So, today, I guess, I was present as Leo’s mommy. I shared whole, fresh summer berries with him and lots of giggles. And we listened to the heat when it told us it was time to slow down. So slow down we did.

When you truly get scared about your powerlessness, when it truly sinks in that things do change in life and you can either let it wash over you and drown you or you can try to swim, that is when you find your power… and don’t just swim. Find a partner… and figure out how to turn the tide.

Photo by darkandlight @



Aingeal and I welcomed our son on August 6.  He’s a Leo (exalted!), double Scorpio (Lord and Lady, we’re in for it). His natal chart takes after his mama’s – eerily symmetrical. This must be why he decided to arrive two weeks early.

This is a bit of what my house is like right now:

“Song for a Fifth Child”

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking!

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her his eyes the most wonderful hue?*
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep…

by Ruth Hulbert Hamilton, in Lady’s Home Journal. 1958.

*Cresida’s edit

For a while now, I’ve wondered what the secret was to the nice spongey consistency of Angel Food Cake. As with most baking things I haven’t researched, I assumed it was some arcane technique (like making dough for croissants or puff pastry). When I actually researched it and read a couple angel food cake recipes, I was very pleased to discover that the process of making it is actually very similar to making meringue, which I recently learned how to do. Read the rest of this entry »

This is a recipe that I’ve become very found of for having a “quick” loaf of homemade bread with dinner.  Stephen, over at Stephen Cooks, adapted a pizza dough recipe to create a tasty focaccia recipe that’s ready in about two hours.  While there are some longer focaccia recipes out there, which I’m sure will bring out more of the wheat’s fantastic flavor (such as Peter Reinhardt’s formula in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice), I discovered Stephen’s adaptation through one of Susan‘s posts on A Year in Bread.  Since I was only just starting to play with artisan breads, I was excited to find an adaptation that I could make after work with a pot of tomato basil soup.

I highly recommend Stephen’s recipe.  It’s a very easy flatbread recipe, and focaccia gives you lots of room for safe creativity as far as toppings and add-ins go.  I made it the other night with a big pot of cabbage soup and a loaf of this bread. Aingeal declared that he was going to use what was left to make a Panini, and sure enough, that’s what we had for dinner the next night.  It made a superb Panini!

Pictures are coming in from the weddings happening in New York state.

Congratulations, New York, on this step towards equality!

One of the breads that I’ve always wanted to bake is soft pretzels. I honestly haven’t been putting off making them because I thought they’d be hard; it’s more the fact that I just haven’t given much time to bread baking lately. My husband loves soft pretzels, and he’ll regularly buy soft pretzels from the freezer section of the grocery store. When I worked as a retail wage worker, my 15 minute “lunch” breaks usually included a trip to Auntie Anne’s for a (very greasy) hot, soft pretzel, cheese dip, and lemonade. So, as a bread baker, I’ve felt very silly that I hadn’t tried to make pretzels before. On the flip, as a bread baker, there’s just not enough time to try baking everything I want to (unless I decide to make a living through baking. And, frankly, I don’t want to get up at 3 am every day to bake other people bread. My friends and family are lucky when I get up at 6:30 so that we can have hot, homemade cinnamon rolls.) Read the rest of this entry »

Aingeal and I “planned” on getting pregnant after our October wedding last year, and it happened. I’m due with our first baby in mid-August, and we’re both thrilled about it. But that’s really only the simplest part of the picture. For one, we resisted using the word “plan” when we talked about having kids. Second, several things changed with our lives during the course of November that made us decide that maybe we should wait. Again, the decision to wait never used the rhetoric of planning, but there was a very strong “not now, sadly”. Which meant that when I had a positive pregnancy test at the end of December, I was both excited and scared, and felt like I was staring down both an expected and an unexpected pregnancy ahead. It was a bit shocking, but not unlike curve balls that life (or Fortuna) likes to play. Read the rest of this entry »

This list is actually inspired by the Omnivore’s Hundred, which is not a list of things to cook, but rather a list of things that every omnivore should try. When I saw it, I thought that surely there must be a list like that for cooking or baking.  I found a lot of individually made lists, but nothing that said “Here’s 100 things every cook should make before they die” or something like that. I have such a long list of things that I’d like to cook or bake, or techniques I’d like to learn, that I figured writing them down would be useful.  As you can see, I came up with 142 143 Here’s the list in alphabetical order. I’ll update as I knock stuff off the list.

Current count: 7/143

Read the rest of this entry »