A Gift of Time by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1Lately it seems as though I am simply surviving. I move from one task to the next with little ability or energy to plan beyond the next deadline or responsibility. I have been sick the last week or so, a cold that just won’t go away, but it’s more than that. I’m the one who plans for holidays and birthdays weeks or more in advance yet this Valentine’s Day I shopped for a little something for my daughter the night before. I don’t like living from one chore to the next but I can’t seem to get caught up enough to shift into a more thoughtful, intentional mode.

This issue has nagged at me for a few days because one of my closest friends, Jodi, had a birthday yesterday. We are celebrating together today and I want to do something to let her know how important she is to me. We met at the public pool when both of our daughters were around four or so. We clicked immediately and moved beyond the pool to having play-dates. It quickly became clear that while we were becoming friends, our daughters were not as compatible, so we ditched the kids play date but have made it a mission to have breakfast or lunch together one day a month during the school year. We’ve been doing this consistently since the girls started friendshipkindergarten, so it’s been about eight years.

Jodi is awesome because she supports me in everything I’m up to, gives great advice, and knows we can disagree on certain issues (mostly politics) without having it be personal. We both have busy lives and just knowing she’s there for me, as I am for her, is all we need. We don’t chat on the phone or spend lots of time together, but we know if we need anything, help, support, understanding, or just someone to say it’s okay, the other will be there – no questions asked.

For my birthday in September, Jodi made me a bag of gifts based on a blog I wrote. She filled it with several different things that she really enjoys and wanted to share with me. I was touched that she had read the blog but also that she put so much thought and effort into my gift.

And this leads me back to my issue of moving from one task to another. I want to do something as thoughtful for her as she did for me. CIMG1630This isn’t about a competition; I just want her to feel as special on her birthday as she made me feel on mine.

We are meeting at a French restaurant we like for her birthday lunch and I have purchased a few things that are “her” but they don’t feel special enough. I wanted something that was thoughtful and was a gift of effort as well as a “thing.” Then I knew what to do.

Yesterday I spent a good part of my time making home-made yeast bread. I used the recipe my paternal Erin_18AUG1977_Youth_Fairgrandmother baked almost every weekend and which she passed on to my mother. I earned “Best in Show” with a loaf I made from this recipe at the county fair when I was in High School. One of my best childhood memories is the smell of this bread baking in the oven. My own daughter loves this bread as much as I do, and can’t wait for it to cool before cutting a thick slice and slathering it with butter.

So, I am giving Jodi the time and effort that I used to make her something that’s both tasty and a piece of my history. I know she’ll appreciate the gift for all that it is and hope that it conveys what a gift she is in my life.

Some friends are just worth the extra effort.

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What Makes it Homemade?

Jennifer FlatenThis post by Jennifer Flaten

Recently I was cruising the internet looking for a recipe to use up the last of my Easter ham. Yes, even though our family is smaller I still made a bone in ham, the smallest I could find, but still pretty big.

I needed to use it up and I had my heart set on scalloped potatoes and ham, but I wanted a crock-pot recipe. While browsing the various cooking website I came across a recipe that was short and simple. So short and simple that the author admitted to being embarrassed to call it a recipe.

She felt that because her recipe relied on boxed potatoes and had six ingredients, it didn’t count as a recipe. She isn’t the only one who feels that way.

I read an anecdote from a cook who told of the time she baked a loaf of bread using frozen bread dough and presented it to a neighbor as homemade.

The neighbor gushed about the bread and said “So many people don’t take the time to make homemade any more they just use a box” or in the author’s case frozen dough. She said she was mortified. She explained that in her family if you cooked it, it was homemade.

Not everyone feels that way, even Jen Lancaster, in her Tao of Martha book, bashed the semi homemade-ala Sandra Lee- as not counting since the semi homemade recipes rely heavily on packaged items.

Is there a difference?

What is interesting in knitting pattern designers often refer to something as a recipe-that is, it is the bare bones of steps you need to take to get the finished product-such as certain pattern stitches or optimum stitch count. Otherwise, you are free to customize it to your liking. Is that more “homemade” than following a written pattern?008

How about when you buy a kit? You can buy a kit to make a quilt, knit a wrap or even chainmaille a bracelet. While many of these kits let you pick out the color for your project, they do contain all the tool “ingredients”. You just assemble it yourself.

Ah, but what about Ikea (or similar furniture) you assemble it, could you say that you made it? Yes and no. You assembled it, but putting together a kit from Ikea doesn’t give you the skill to go out and make a bookshelf from scratch. Whereas, a knitting kit gives you the skills to go out and knit your own scarf, on you designed.

For cooking, I think as long as you did the actual cooking from raw ingredients (even if they are boxed) makes it homemade.

What is your opinion?

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