Wednesday, February 24, 2010


As long as we are persistent...
we will continue to grow.
We cannot choose the day or time
when we will fully bloom.
It happens in its own time.
-Denis Waitley

This winter, I made a flower of wool and felt and yarn and an old button. Some days - when I awoke feeling blue, when a day seemed impossible to face - I pinned it on. It would remind me, throughout the day, that as long as I was persistent... even in my sadness... I would continue to grow.

It happens in its own time, blooming does. You can't choose when you'll unfurl yourself from struggles or grief or loss or regret. One day you just do. One day you just find that all that time shut away, in the dark, has made you different... new... beautiful, even. And then there you are: bloomed.

My life has changed dramatically from a year ago. Today my bloomed self is facing astonishing life decisions. I have been handed an opportunity to move to Jerusalem to live and work. Jerusalem. In the Old City. If I choose Option One, I will be walking in Jesus' footsteps within 10 weeks. Option Two? Option Two is love. And of course, Option Three: stay where I am, in a job I enjoy, regroup from the last three years, and write.

I'd like to have it all. Options One through Three. Who says a (bloomed) girl can't have it all?

But for now I watch. I pray. And I pin on my bloom and wait for things to happen. All good things happen in their own time....

I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you,
and that you will work them, water them
with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom,
till you yourself burst into bloom.
-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Valentine's Strawberry Shortbread

How cruelly sweet are the echoes that start,
When memory plays an old tune on the heart.
-Eliza Cook

Vanilla shortbread with a glossy glazing of strawberry jam. It was covered with another layer of shortbread, baked, cut into hearts and lightly dusted with snowy sugar.

But then my hesitant heart, full of memories and old tunes, got in the way. I wanted to send it to him but couldn't.

Don't worry. Co-workers devoured it in minutes. And now you can, too, if you're so inclined. Bake it for yourself... or someone else you love:

Vanilla Shortbread with Strawberry Jam

2 cups (2 sticks/16 T.) salted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 1/3 cups all purpose flour, fluffed up
1 heaping t. baking powder
1 T. kosher salt
2 large eggs
½ vanilla bean (or 1 ½ T. vanilla extract)
1 ½ cups strawberry jam
¼ cup powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325° F. In large, cold bowl, work butter and sugar together with wooden spoon. Measure flour and dump on top of butter/sugar mixture into a cloudy mountain. (Now we're baking.) Add baking powder and salt on top of flour. Toss dry ingredients together lightly with clean fingers, then use wooden spoon to begin incorporating flour into butter and sugar. When barely coming together, add eggs to the bowl. Break yolks with wooden spoon. If you’re using vanilla extract, pour it in with the eggs and mix together. If you’re using a vanilla bean, thoroughly incorporate eggs into dough, then scrape the seeds from half the vanilla bean and mix in now. Dough should be a bit shaggy. It’s okay.

Divide dough in two equal parts and scrape half the mixture from the bowl. Press onto a sheet pan. (I use my trusty Pampered Chef baking stone to bake this recipe and always have. If you don’t have a pizza stone or rimmed stone baking sheet, get you one soon. If you don’t have one, use a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or silpat. But just know your ‘bread won’t be as tender.) Lightly press dough onto sheet to a 1/2 inch thickness, using a glass or rolling pin if necessary. Top dough with your favorite jam. (Strawberry and raspberry were popular at henrybella’s.)

Roll remaining half of dough out on a lightly floured counter or board to a ½ inch thickness. Transfer onto jam-glazed half. (You’ll probably ace this, but I always manage to tear the dough and have to patch my top with jagged dough pieces.) It’s okay if the top cracks, jam oozes through, or you need to piece the top to cover all the jam. This is very forgiving.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until sides just begin to turn golden and dough looks firm. (This may be 17 or 18 minutes for some.) Remove from oven and let cool. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters, transfer to parchment paper, and dust with a shower of powdered sugar.

Give to or enjoy with someone special. That’s what it’s all about.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today I Wish I Was Italian

Today I wish I was Italian. Today I wish I could ride my bike down the Italian coast, drinking in the sun and the salty waves and the baked terra cotta.

I wish I could pedal home to a wide-windowed kitchen, pluck herbs from a patio pot, and watch the leafy heap disappear into bubbling pasta sauce. I wish I could open a bottle of wine and call my friends, invite them over, and sit as the ocean breeze tangles our hair and makes the table's candles flicker and smoke.

I wish we could sit... and laugh... until the stars came out and the waves grew quiet. And then, when the stone floor gave up its heat and the cappuccino cooled, we could hug goodbye and feel, if only for a moment, all caught up. Connected.

That's what I wish today. Today I wish I was Italian.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Even here.

Even amidst junk from my past,
decay from hopes that grew
and hopes that fell,
and hardened, bulbous knots of things -
God is springing up something new in my heart.

Something beautiful.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Who so loves believes the impossible.
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Loving and believing today... and hoping, in similar fashion... the same for you.

Happy Valentine's Day. -Brin

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Apple Dumpling Wishes

Hi. Hey there. It's me. Betcha thought I fell down a well or something, didn't you? Nah, I'm here. (Here being a hotel in Arkansas.) I'm here thinking about you. Gosh, I've missed you. It's been too long.

Yep, I'm just sitting here thinking and missing and wishing I was in a kitchen somewhere with a minute to catch up, a pot of tea, some comfy chairs and these (!) baking in the oven.

Maybe someday soon. Definitely someday soon...