everyday

On parenting, bread and things in between

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Parenting is tough sometimes. I mean tough in the real sense of the word.

The internet is so full of beautiful images of parents {or, more often, mothers} with perfectly clean young kids in spotless houses and having perfect holidays. You don't see the mess, or the tantrums, or any reference to how in fact you spend half of your day squatting, either picking up a child or cleaning spilled liquids and any kind of objects. Or any discussion about having hard days too, and we all being just humans having perfectly human feelings.

Anyway, in those tough days, when my head seems more of a grey cloud announcing rain, I fall only too easily into the comparison trap set by these perfect images- what a terrible parent I am. Feeling tired, or with low patience, makes me feel like I'm doing it all wrong.
And so I start thinking, ignoring this whole strange new world called the social media. And I realise humans have been having children and reflecting about their emotions for something like 350 thousand years. That's 350 thousand years of humans having perfectly human feelings. You, me, we, are not alone. Nor in history, nor in time, nor in space. And for sure there is no such thing as a role-model parent.

In these days, my journal is more scribbled than usual. Last time, it said something like "I feel like I want to put a backpack on filled with chocolates and bad literature and just run away. Although I would probably be back a couple days soon feeling miserable because didn't even brought a tent and it rained". I closed my journal and, as my two loves slept {because even on my bad days they are my two loves}, I went out with my bike and visited neighbors. Neighbors with children. Real people. Even though Sam feels the things similar to mine, sometimes I need someone from the outside to talk with, if it makes sense. What I search, on those days, is not sympathy, a gentle tap on the shoulder and a smile "you'll have better days". Of course those are kind and I'm grateful for that, but when my friend looked at me and said "Yes, it is awful, it's like one of those days you just want to run away, you know?", I was like YES. THANK GOODNESS. I'm not alone feeling these feelings. It is awful, it will pass, but the fact it will pass doesn't make the feeling less worthy of importance.

A couple days later, the entry on my journal read something like "I fell in love with it all again. And I am grateful for the ups and downs, because both of them are opportunities to learn more about myself and grow." So cheesy, I know.

So, 350 thousand years of feelings. Of all kinds of feelings. Our ancestors, going through it all too. And now comes the bread.

I've very recently fallen in love with the practice of sourdough bread baking. The sourdough culture, such an ancestral way of baking. Tending for a culture, getting something in return. Feeding it with wholegrain flours, adding water collected from the rain. Feeling the sweet, beer-ish smell and thinking of my ancestors, doing the same things. Feeling feelings in their heads and creating with their hands. Making a fire, keeping the room warm. Kneading. Waiting. Watching it grow. Going to sleep leaving the dough next to the woodstove. Waking up. Checking the dough, it has doubled its size. Restarting the fire. Flop the dough over to a tray, or wait another day. Baking, powered by the trees from the forest. Hugging a child, sniffing the air together. Checking in. That scent, fresh sour bread. I wonder how many waited for the bread to completely cure before cutting open - it's just too good when warm drizzled with that olive oil from your neighbors.

There is more than a blood lineage weaving us to our ancestors. There are practices. There are feelings, living deep within our bones, our material memory, stirred up every now and then, when we do not pay attention. When we forget. We are not alone, nor in history, nor in time, nor in space.

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Promises of the year ahead

The last days of 2017 and the first days of 2018 brought many things which my overly positive self is taking as good omens of what's ahead.  Here are a few:

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The first harvest from our new garden, for salad and tea - of much gardening and harvesting.

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The first batch of brined olives (we have still got like 70 liters of olives to prepare, in case things go wrong) - of much preserving and fermenting, because I also started a new sourdough.

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Shipping new orders - well, of many more blouses flying off!

Finishing projects and doing my first test knit ever - of much knitting. Always.

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Clear skies, crisp air and bright moons, while wild animals scatter the bushes - of magic.

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These two, plans coming out of the heads and new window and door frames in wood - of a house to be, hopefully!

What are you looking forward for the year to come? Any signs whispering to your hear? And I know, I know, the beggining of a year is just a random day out of 365 days, but I am not one to squander the opportunity for this whole start fresh thing. What can I do. Wanna join me?

Scenes from early autumn

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To identify the woodpeckers pecking the trees near our trailer - they're nor shy of shameful.
To think, and rethink, and build with winter in mind, helped by friends who wear banana stickers on their foreheads.
To forage and cook, and share and trade for fresh sourdough bread. Always with a some knitting nearby.
To dream about the next batch of chickens.
To dream about the house-to-be.
To overcome insecurities and make new things for selling. And to have the support of your beautiful friends.
To try new kitchen adventures and laugh at the little one sniffing the air. To dive into warm apple and cinnamon, because the weather forecast says rain next week.

When in doubt, go out

Yesterday was one of these days - no matter how many activities you try to prepare for your child, nothing seems to go right. Times two!, since it's two children now with the sweet daughter of the couple staying at the B&B.

After a morning of playing with wooden toys and attempting some reading, all in between crisis and grumpiness,  we decided to get outside in the Nature - of course! With the children on the back and the dog by our side, we walked to leave this tiny village and followed one of the many meandering tracks around. In our minds floated the idea of spotting some deer, which Sam has been lucky enough to do quite some times already.

We did not spot a deer. What we did spot was this special place with a lagoon and a low creek. The children loved it so much - they could run around, splash in the water, play with the dog, throw sticks... Everything they are happy doing, and all on their own while we sat down and ate apples. We even found some crayfishes! Dutifully accompanied by shrieks, manic laughter and excited screams, pointed fingers and ahs and ohs!

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What a simple yet important lesson: outside is where they (we all!) learn the best. Sometimes, as parents, we feel like staying inside, enjoying the homely comfort and drinking hot tea while knitting - believe me, I know! But stepping outside, slowing down to a child's pace and honest interest by everything they see can lead to beautiful adventures. And we can just sit back and watch them learn the world by directly experiencing It, touching and smelling and listening and observing and everything else we often dismiss.

As my friend Susana put it so well today, when in doubt, go out.

Slow saturday + recipe

The rain patters on the roof and there's a lovely scent of baked apples in the air.

We're having a rainy weekend, keeping us inside and forcing us to slow down. The last couple weeks have been so full and we've barely enjoyed a cozy day in the house. Our land hunt has been quite time-consuming and we spent our first week here in a frenzy run around, talking to old people and being shown pieces of land (I'm talking 13 pieces of land in six days, my friends). Although we may have already found the patch of earth where we would like to live, we're still keeping our eyes open! And, last week, Sam has been to the guest house finish some work and receive renters, while I went to the capital with J to visit friends.

So these rainy days have actually been a blessing. Everything around here gets this really magical look - the oak trees shrouded in fog and the mountain top shying away. Like a dream land.

We enjoyed a stop in the rain to wrap J on to my back and go for a walk - not too long, though, as the water started dropping down again.

Walking back home, we prepared an apple and pear speculoos crumble to warm our bellies and share with the people living in the land with us - I had spotted a speculoos spice mix in our friend's kitchen, but you can also make it from scratch, as described below.


Apple and pear speculoos crumble

INGREDIENTS

Topping

  • 40 g butter
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 50 g wholegrain wheat flour
  • 30 g chestnut flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey

Filling

  • Four apples
  • Four pears
  • Grounded cinnamon
  • Powdered ginger
  • Powdered nutmeg
  • Powdered cloves
  • Six cardamom pods, shelled

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Peel the fruits and cut them into cubes, then place them, alongside with the spices, in a casserole and cook on low heat until soft
  • In a mixing bowl,  combine all the topping ingredients and, using your fingers, mix them thoroughly until it feels like sand
  • Spread the cooked fruit on the bottom of an overproof dish and cover it with the sandy mix
  • Cook for about 15 minutes in the oven on medium heat

I sprinkled our crumble with oats that had been tossed in a pan with butter and honey before placing it in the oven - because I'm crazy about oats.

Serve with a cup of steaming hot ginger tea!


I hope you are all enjoying a slow weekend. What are you up to?