I remember the first time it really started to sink in
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just how much my parents had done for me over the years
The moment found me in the basement of my freshman-year dorm on a Sunday evening, folding my laundry
Though I'll never fully grasp the greatness of their love, it was in that moment, homesick, and missing all of the creature comforts for which I'd grown accustomed, that my perspective started to ..
Some lessons can only be lived
“Mom, I made a batch of your laundry detergent this afternoon. Thank you for sending the recipe.”
She lives in Montana now, with a family and child of her own. During our drive-way moment this week, I was able to wish her the happiest of birthdays, and talk about life. Partway through, I couldn't help but smile and
It's floated in and out of my mind ever since. A part of me wonders if our children can or will ever realize all of the things we do for them? Another wonders if they should
The thank you's certainly come for some of the bigger things: the braces, the steady presence on high-school bleachers, or the painting of a purple bedroom
But what about the thousands of little things that we as parents weave with love into their lives, day in and day out? I think about this today as I walk past boxes of their things that I keep for them, for when they'd like to have them
I think of the hundreds of loads of laundry over the years, folded and arranged in neat piles. All of the pancakes made for breakfasts, school lunches packed, with little notes tucked inside to make them smile.
Or the sheets of scented fabric that I'd tuck into the drawers that held their favorite t-shirts, those they wore every day
Sometimes I'd catch myself and think, why am I doing this? They won't notice, or if they do, they've got to think I'm silly.
Those who know me well can attest, I've always loved a clean(ish) house. Over the years, I've couched it in being attuned to how things are working. But really, it's one of my ways of loving those who abide
Certainly, the faint watermarks in the corners of the window will let alert me of a leak, but I'm more interested in the little bit of kitty throw-up, a signal someone has a bad tummy
It matters to me that the closets aren't crammed with stuff, or that things won't fall on my head when opening a cabinet. I've always loved to vacuum, somehow finding it therapeutic. Maybe it's because it forces me to focus on the task at hand, or maybe because it's nice to have a simple and mindless task to finish
Somehow I also find comfort in the smallest bit of order. It helps keep the chaos of the world at arm's length when I look around, and the floors are clean, the dishes are done, and my desk isn't a mess
If only life would obey such clear rules
I've come to believe it's the smallest gestures, that often contain the greatest love
Coming home at the end of a long day, it's nice to find a bouquet of fresh flowers from the farmer's market on the kitchen table. Something cold and fizzy on a hot summer afternoon
Sending a book in the mail that you know someone will appreciate
Drawing a bath, stacking the towels on a chair, lighting a candle, or the simple gift of space, realizing someone's need for solitude
buoyed by trust
Tucking stalks of fresh lavender into the blankets and sweaters as they're put away for the summer. Making the bed in the morning and turning it down at the end of the day. Pulling the curtains just so, or the last pets and behind-the-ear scratches for everyone furry
as I head off to bed
As I think of these small gestures, many are spontaneous, and others are on repeat. How easily they become ritualized, these unspoken go-tos for showing my love when other means seemed to falter. Surprise is good, although I have to believe it's reliability that will see us through the long haul
I think of how easy it is for me to lose sight of the power in these everyday expressions. Imagining for a moment, what our days would be like if we approached one another with the same kindness, every step of the way?
But my children, did they notice any of it? Perhaps not explicitly; they may approach my tiny and tender gifts over the years as their due. They may, if they're among the lucky, never know a life without such touches
My sincerest hope is the habits of living, and loving will have seeped into their consciousness, so that one day they, in turn, will do sweet, and small things for the ones they love. That one day their heart will be warmed when they hear
“Smells like Mom”
With a batch of tomatoes from my parent's garden, I couldn't think of a better way to showcase them, but roasted and made into a simple soup.
We really love this one. It's lighter, with a flavor that's delicate yet deep. The ingredients are simple enough, mostly tomatoes, plus a few slices of sourdough, and a few spices.
In the end, the soup is pureed before serving, though not until it's creamy smooth.
Roasted Tomato with Sourdough Soup
- Roasted Tomatoes
- 4 large ripe tomatoes ~ 4 cups, cored and sliced ¼" thick
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 1 ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil + extra to finish
- 1 large onion (~ 1 ½ cup) chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
- 3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 1 (14 oz) can chopped Italian tomatoes
- ½ Tbsp natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
- 2 slices sourdough bread, torn into large pieces
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro, chopped, + extra to finish
- fine-grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper
- Roast the Tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 450° F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
- Arrange the tomatoes on the baking sheets, in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper over the tomatoes.
- Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are concentrated and beginning to caramelize
- Make the Soup
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the onion and sauté, stirring often, for ~ 5 minutes, or until they're translucent.
- Add the cumin and garlic, and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the stock, both roasted and canned tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes (if using), a ½ tsp of fine-grain sea salt, and a good grind of black pepper.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for ~ 20 minutes, adding the bread halfway through.
- Add the cilantro, and pulse the soup a few times (in batches) in your blender or food processor, to break down the tomatoes a bit (we like our soup on the coarse and chunky side)
- (This soup should be pretty thick, but add a little water to thin it down if you prefer.)
- Serve with a drizzle of oil and garnished with fresh cilantro.