Although our family began a formal practice of Shabbat and Sabbath four years ago, we had struggled with it for the two years previous, wanting to make it a family practice yet not understanding how in the wake of our family’s needs and lack of time. At that time (six years ago), after an unexpected financial collapse, we were struggling to make ends meet. We sold nearly everything we owned, including our house and my car, reducing spending to a minimum and picking up work anywhere we could. We moved in with my sister and her family for a year, testing out co-habitation to help relieve financial pressure on both of our families. Mark worked out of the home six days a week as an educator, also working part-time online in other hours. Both of us were committed to homeschooling, which at that time fell more to me during the weekdays since Mark worked outside of the home. A few evenings a week, we swapped roles, and I tutored university students in writing. In other odd hours, especially the early morning and afternoon rest time, I began blogging again, learning photography and writing editorials, both as a way to work creatively toward something of my own and also to help add income to our family home. Mark and I worked all the time in one capacity or another, tossing roles back and forth, trying to preserve our children’s childhood and honor our family values while also moving forward financially again. Sundays became a day for us to catch up on home projects and to prepare for the week ahead. How did a practice of Sabbath fit into it all?

There are deeper layers to that personal story, but it feels important to write some context to this conversation. In my perspective, Sabbath was something I had to wedge into our life. In the beginning and without realizing it, I treated it as something else to do, another task or a time to relax when all the work was done. Yet Sabbath is not only for the wealthy or the privileged to enjoy; it is not something we earn as a reward, like retirement or annual vacation. It is a gift for all of humanity, a rhythm established in creation for everyone’s benefit. Sabbath reminds us, regardless of our circumstance, that we are human. We are not machines enslaved to our work.

In the ancient creation story of Genesis, rest was the first thing given to humanity. Rest was given before work. In Exodus 20, when Sabbath was first given to Israel through Moses, it was given to everyone in the household, including the men, women, children, servants, and any animals. No one worked, meaning for this agrarian culture, even the earth itself rested. There are so many more layers here, but the short point: the practice of Sabbath in our home is based in freedom, not law. It is not a practice of “can’t” or “no” but instead a day set apart to honor God and one another. It is a day we do not discuss or think about work or the mortgage or car repair or braces or unfinished school work or clothing needs, so that we can enjoy one another and enjoy what we already have. And while that discipline of letting go has been learned and practiced, the fruit of setting aside the thinking of those things for the day has been a salvation for us. On Sunday (our family’s first day after Sabbath), all of those normal life stresses are waiting for us, but our hearts and minds are restored to face them again.

I know this practice will nuance based on circumstance. But I hope this inspires you to remember: the practice is foremost a gift of freedom in time. Below you’ll find some more answers to recent questions from readers.


What does this look like with young children and babies? This question came in a variety of forms so I’ll try to answer here concisely. My youngest was four when we first began, and I wish now we had started sooner. My brief encouragement: do not wait. The nuances of this practice will evolve with you and your family. Adapt it to make it work for where you are now, but make time for this practice. It is a rare gift of time. Like many things in parenting, with the practice of Sabbath, you are setting an expectation for your children about what is important, inside and outside of your home. It isn’t a stuffy, prosaic practice, it is a life-giving rhythm for every stage of life. I encourage anyone––single, married, families with young or adult children––to practice Sabbath but have flexibility for the nuances to shift in different times.

For the Shabbat meal (the tradtional meal beginning the Sabbath) with young children, keep the mealtime blessings brief and the table simple: a special candle, some flowers/greenery, and if available, a tablecloth. If need be: use paper plates. Wink. Other ideas to include children ages 2 and up:

  • beginning the meal with a simple song they can learn and sing each week
  • setting the table
  • painting placemats or name cards
  • gathering flowers or greens for the table
  • helping to prepare the food

The Sabbath day might take more intentional juggling between parents or grandparents, if available, to accommodate babies or toddlers. In our current stage with older children and teens, we are moving away from screens on Sabbath, since they are becoming more a part of our daily living. But with young children or toddlers, putting on a movie or favorite TV show so that parents can sleep/nap or enjoy a quiet restful activity for that hour may be exactly what’s needed. I still encourage parents to tuck away personal devices, if possible. Having a day free of texting, email, phone calls, etc. is a rare gift in modern culture. Other restful activities to consider regardless of age:

  • take a family walk
  • play a game
  • read a book together
  • rotate who wakes up with the kids in the morning
  • take a nap

What ages do you think is the best for your kids to join? Any age. Sabbath is for everyone.

How do you keep it from being a source of stress and obligation? The most stressful day is the one preparing for Shabbat/Sabbath. On this day, we are very busy cleaning the house, wrapping up work, preparing food. But at dinner, it stops. All of it. No phone. No work. No school. No cleaning. It is never an obligation; it is true freedom. And it’s highly motivating for all of us.

How do you handle Saturday activities (birthday parties, sports, etc)? Case by case. We tend to look at the big picture or the month as a whole. Do we have three weekends of travel or event invitations? What is most restful for or family in this season? Sometimes a birthday party can be connecting and restful, and other times it can feel exhausting and disruptive. Be intentional about choosing restful, joyful, restorative activities for Sabbath. For example, maybe a two-hour birthday party for your son would be a blast for him but taxing for you. Can you drop him off or send him with a friend?

How do you protect this day/time? With intention (see more above). In the beginning, it was awkward and difficult. After years of practicing, I notice the gift of this day of rest, how it quiets my anxiety and sources my body, mind, and spirit for the following week.

Any set specific readings? Yes, I always open the meal with a blessing and prayer as we light the candles. The prayer is organic but the blessing is the same. Then we bless the children and mother, wash hands, take communion together, and bless the meal.

When do you find the time to do home projects? On Sunday or another day of the week.

How do you include the kids in blessing explanations without making your kids seem like know-it-alls? I am not quite sure if I am answering this questions correctly, but in our home acting as a know-it-all is treated more as a character lesson than a matter of information. We are eager learners in all of these things, but none of us knows everything. We are always learning in this practice, and as our kids grow older they are taking in new parts of it. Whether they decided to practice this

How is Shabbat different in different seasons? (Swimming and pizza in the summer?) Yes. It follows the seasons in the same way our family dinners do. In the winter, Shabbat feels quiet and cozy. We make hearty stews or roasted meats and vegetables. It is dark outside and glowing inside. In the summer, the light is bright and our table is often filled with grilled fish and vegetables. We eat outdoors in the in between seasons. We have picked up takeout for Shabbat on weeks we feel utterly exhausted or our prep day is full. There is freedom. The point for us is that it remains special, distinctive in some way. If we order takeout, we still set the table with candles and flowers.

How does it work with non-Christians? Of course, the nuances will be different. But there are still many people who practice a secular Sabbath.

Do you still do blessings at dinner? Yes, we have a brief scripted blessing for the boys, a blessing for the girls, and a blessing for the mothers. I am not sure why there is not a traditional blessing for the fathers, but sometimes we add our own.

When did you find time to plan and make food with little ones? Read more details in this blog post.

Can you share you linen sources? White Linen and Natural Linen (both 108″+ for long tables); linen napkins

How do you handle questions about observing Saturdays instead of Sundays? With honesty. It’s the day that works best for our family rhythm, but Sabbath can be practiced in any 24 hour period during the week.

How often do you involve company? We celebrate our Shabbat meal with my sister and her family most weeks since they live down the street. It helps offset the meal prep and brings a fresh level of energy for both families each week. Other guests join once a month.

Do you make a large meal for leftovers the day after? Meals on Sabbath? Because we feed at least 11 each week, there’s rarely a significant amount of leftovers. Typically, my husband will make pancakes with one of the boys or it will be a simple breakfast and lunch, and we eat out on Saturday night.

How is practicing Shabbat/Sabbath similar or different before having kids? Sadly, we didn’t begin the practice until after having all of our children, so I’m not sure. Although it’s easy to think it would be easier because there would be less chaos to manage, I imagine in some ways it would feel harder to be disciplined about shutting off work or tech for a day or making a special meal. Either way, I think it’s worth doing! I loved this teaching from a single woman on her practice of Sabbath.

Do you go to Synagogue before or after for the shuir? We do not.

What days/hours do you celebrate? Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It’s what works best for our family rhythm, since we have a weekday church meeting and Sunday is generally a prep day for the week.

What does a typical day look like leading up to dinner, prep, clean-up? The morning is often schoolwork. Some weeks we have math tutoring into the early afternoon, and those days are harder for prep and we do some on Thursday afternoons, too. Generally, we school then shift into deep cleaning mode: wash linens, clean bathrooms, floors, etc. We prep the meal––my sister and I usually plan ahead of time which parts each family will contribute. We aim to sit down to dinner around 6 pm. We clear the table, but are working toward not doing dishes afterward. It’s stretching!

How do you encourage this as a family routine, involve your children? For one, it isn’t optional. We do cast vision for the benefits of rest and play in our home, as well as their need for it when they leave our home. Everyone has roles and responsibilities and we have an ongoing conversation on the way individual parts serving and affect the whole. Every part matters, even the seemingly small ones.

Are any of your children not ok with it? How does everyone respond? All of our children love Shabbat and Sabbath. Although we spend a lot of time together during the week, we are busy with schoolwork and work and tech and friends. On Sabbath, we stop. The kids sleep in and we focus on a brief period of quiet solitude (a rare practice for children and teens). We play board games or go for a walk or hike when the weather is nice. Sometimes we take a day trip together, especially on weeks where Mark and I find it hard to part with an unfinished home project or work.

What are your favorite resources to learn more?

read / The Sabbath by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel / Sabbath: A Gift of Time by Bonnie Saul Wilks (We adapted the blessings we use from this one. ) / Garden City by John Mark Comer / Subversive Sabbath by AJ Swoboda

listen / Sabbath series from Bridgetown Church (faith-based)

One of the greatest pleasures of summertime is the abundance of color on the table. Berries and melons and leafy greens are in season, making it more reasonable than ever to feast on whole foods with economy. Although all of our children help in the kitchen, Olive and Burke seem to come alive creatively there––chopping, stirring, tasting. Burke received several baking tools this spring for his birthday, and he’s planning to put them to use this summer, baking something new each week for us to try.

This week, in honor of inexpensive berries and a long holiday weekend, he made homemade pound cake with berries and cream. So many of you requested the recipe, I thought I’d quickly drop it here before the long weekend ends. We doubled the recipe to make two loaf pans. If you have leftovers, store it in the fridge in a sealed container and enjoy it for breakfast. Wink.


POUND CAKE with BERRIES and CREAM, adapted from The Hands-On Home

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp half & half (or heavy cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking soda together.
  3. In a second bowl (we used our mixing stand), whip the butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue beating until the batter is fluffy again. Add one egg at a time until the texture is like frosting. At a low speed, mix in the yogurt, half&half, and extract.
  4. Gently mix in the flour.
  5. Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and place on the center rack of the oven.
  6. Bake until it is golden brown and the knife comes out clean, about 90 minutes or longer, depending on elevation and oven. Let it cool for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Wash and slice berries. If they’re tart, sprinkle them with sugar. I prefer the tartness, especially with the sweet, rich cake.
  8. Whip the cream until peaks form. If you prefer sweet cream, add a Tablespoon or two of sugar, or even a little vanilla extract.
  9. Serve and enjoy!

Most Friday evenings, our family gathers around our large table to enjoy our borrowed tradition of Shabbat, the formal finish of a week of work and the beginning of a day of rest (Sabbath). We are in our third year of practicing this ritual, and our entire family loves it. There are weeks it is more casual with less detail, and other weeks where everything seems to fall into the right place. Regardless, the intentional breaking of bread together, the intentional choice to leave our work behind is special, and one I encourage all families to adapt to their own ethos and begin early in their homes.

I know many of you have messaged me or left comments, longing for a beautiful weekly family meal, but feeling the impossibility with young children and babies in the mix. I encourage you, your children will be such a help to this practice as they grow older––but you do not need to wait to begin. Adapting and simplifying the experience and decor is the most important part with toddlers and preschoolers in the mix. And for those who are curious to begin, here is are a few ideas to keep the younger family table approachable and appropriate for your littles.


Keep Tea Light Candles + Votives Stocked / Rolling beeswax candles is a favorite cold-weather practice here, but sometimes having top-heavy tapers on the table with toddlers feels can feel like a potential fire hazard. Instead keep some beeswax tea lights on hand to slip into votive jars. These last up to 9 hours. Or if you have candle remnants or local beeswax to use, try filling these molds and wicks for a winter craft.

Set Bamboo Tableware / Since families with littles might not have extra hands for clean-up, or may have even less hands available for clean-up because of post-dinner bedtime routines, consider having some pretty, compostable or eco-friendly tableware on hand for this regular meal. Although a bit pricey, we used these compostable plates for a large holiday meal we hosted in December to ease clean-up. We also keep this compostable flatware on hand for the same reason, and they’re gentle enough for use with smaller children, although maybe a little small for adults. Wink.

Add a Light-hearted Game / Have a small weekly game each week that your home would enjoy, and that your littles can look forward too. Perhaps it’s finding something hidden around the room before you sit down, or some stickers or a fresh coloring sheet underneath their plate. Training our children to sit an enjoy dinner can be challenging, but finding a way to encourage excitement and longer attention spans is helpful.

Prepare a One-Dish Meal / Even now, with older children in the mix, the more dishes that are begin juggled, the more attention is needed. Focus on one-dish meals to begin, such as a homemade (or frozen) lasagna, roasted meat and vegetables, a hearty soup. Our personal favorite is the Zuni Sheet Pan Chicken from this favorite recipe book. I purchase a pre-chopped whole chicken to save time, or use led quarters to save money and time. Wink. It feels like a lot of steps the first few times you make it, but it becomes easier with practice. Plus, your kitchen will smell divine.

Invite Your Littles to Help / Toddlers and preschool children love to help! Begin incorporating them now, whether creating name cards or helping set the table or put flowers in a vase. Invite them into the experience of preparation and clean-up.

Skip the Tablecloth, Use a Table Runner / Reducing table linens also helps ease clean-up, and can avoid the fire hazard or spilled drinks that might come with tugging on a tablecloth. Instead, opt for a table runner, or even consider using a black or white kraft paper for kids to enjoy coloring on during the meal.

Mark and I sometimes reminisce over the way various tastes and scents hold memories for us––a perfume, a spice, a food. Smelling or tasting them can return us in an instant to our childhoods, to another country, or to an earlier part of our marriage. He assures me that whenever in future years he smells or tastes coconut oil, it will forever remind him of our home now. I laugh, but it’s true. Over the last few years, coconut oil has become a catch-all staple in our home, used in everything from savory or sweet foods to homemade personal care recipes. With the holidays (and all the holiday baking) beginning this week, I’m thrilled to partner with Nature’s Way today to share a quick, flexible holiday recipe for each of you to have on hand, using Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.

When I say quick and flexible, I mean it. This recipe is easy to whip up for an afternoon treat with the kids, to serve at a holiday party, or even gift to a favorite friend. It only includes 3-6 ingredients, doesn’t require any baking, and is easy to tweak and make your own favorite flavors. My favorite part is it’s made with all whole foods, and without any dairy or gluten for those with special diets. You can even try dipping oranges or berries in it before it cools. I wrote down some favorite variations down the recipe.


DARK CHOCOLATE SEA SALT FUDGE, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE

1 c. Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
1 c. cocoa powder
¼ c. honey or maple syrup (if desired, slowly add more to sweeten to taste)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
a pinch of flaked sea salt sprinkled on top

  1. Line a small glass container with parchment paper. (I use a glass food storage container about 5” x 7” or so.)
  2. Pour melted coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey or maple syrup, and spices into a small mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until well blended.
  4. Let the mixture sit and cool a bit to room temperature. It should slightly thicken.
  5. Pour mixture into parchment-lined dish, and refrigerate for one hour.
  6. Once firm, remove from the glass dish and chop into small squares. For casual affairs, serve right on the parchment.
  7. Store in a cool place out of direct light and serve with napkins.

VARIATIONS TO THE RECIPE

Orange Dark Chocolate Fudge, mix 1 tsp orange zest into warm batter

Peppermint Chocolate Fudge, add crushed candy canes to the top instead of seas salt

Maple Cinnamon Chocolate Fudge, use maple syrup and add 1 tsp of cinnamon

Spiced Ginger Chocolate Fudge, mix 1/4 tsp Cardamom and ½ tsp All-Spice into batter, top with chopped candied Ginger


This post is sponsored by Nature’s Way, a brand our family has loved for years. All images and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

Our family is traveling for Thanksgiving this year, something we haven’t done in several years. Sometimes a change of habit is in order. Still, I have received several questions from readers asking some version of how we create our weekly table, and as this next week turns the corner I thought Thanksgiving might just be the right time to share. Naturally, the ideas here apply beyond the annual Thanksgiving meal, and that’s kind of the point. I find excess table accoutrement cumbersome for our small-ish and active home, and I have learned the value of a few steady table pieces with shifting organic detail. Simplicity truly is beautiful. It also keeps the set-up manageable to involve children. Wink. Here’s a few guidelines and sources for our table.

imperfect is perfect / Our linens are often wrinkled and napkins or plates mismatched. The botanicals are sometime fresh and ornate or other times clippings from a nature walk or dried after use. Some of these details I’ve slowly let go over the years, learning sometimes the imperfect is perfect.

mix + match style | We often use our daily wear dishes and glasses, mixing in a few pieces of China plates Mark found in a flea market at the beginning of our marriage. We also have a few random pieces that were passed down to us as an inheritance. Our cloth napkins have also come from various places and people. And we use a variety of ceramic, brass, and wood candlestick holders.

layered botanicals and edibles | Sometimes I find beautiful greens in the grocery store and sometimes I find them in a field. I am always a sucker for Eucalyptus. For this particular table I used some Eucalyptus I had dried the week before, adding in some fresh greens and bare branches. For last year’s table, I foraged all the greens, adding seasonal fruit and gourds. Leaves make perfect name tags.

garland | This is extension of the last bit, but a few of you have specifically asked me about garland, so I thought I’d separate these instructions. The way I make table garland is very, very simple. I grab plenty of greens, especially if I’m foraging them. If they’re fresh, I place them in water until they’re ready to go on the table. Some plants don’t dry as well as others. I begin with the broadest foliage and place them in opposite directions at each end of the table. Then, I slowly layer them, piece by piece, a little staggered, trimming them as needed. I fill in gap with smaller pieces, and make sure the center, where the branch stems meet, are properly covered. Then I add in pieces of seasonal fruit and gourds, opening pomegranates. I only added gourds this year.

quality, neutral basics | If you follow our table for long, you’ll realize we have the same pieces used again and again. We have two white, high-quality linen table cloths, our white everyday dishes with a few China pieces that rotate, glasses and carafes, wood chargers, and a mixture of candlestick holders. Seasonal details change with the foliage and the napkins, adding color and making each table unique. We add more florals in the spring and summer and more evergreens in the winter. Even though a few of our basics were more expensive, they are things we use again and again, not simply once a year or on a holiday.

I’m sure there are details that I didn’t cover here, so feel free to ask questions in the comments. Otherwise, happy Thanksgiving to you all!

The weekend is here, and I’m bring back an old series to welcome it. This particular weekend marks the bridge between Summer and Autumn for the Northern Hemisphere, a crossover to a new season, an invitation to change. While our garden is mostly cleared and waiting for fall plantings, my sister is still fortunately stocked with beautiful Purple Basil! So before it also withers, I wanted to share a favorite drink from Summer––a Cucumber Basil Margarita. Nothing says Texas Summer like a margarita, so it seemed fitting to consider this a farewell to the Summer garden and casual evenings outdoors.

What I love most about this drink is it’s flexibility. Want to skip the alcohol? Substitute mineral water or sparking water for the tequila and make it a spritzer. Short on Basil? Substitute an herb on hand, perhaps Lavender or Cilantro or Lemon Thyme. This drink is also very strong, so sip and enjoy slowly. It’s intended to mingle with the ice, making it perfect for warm weather, too. And naturally, it pairs best with a group of friends.  Happy weekend, friends!


CUCUMBER BASIL MARGARITA, makes one drink

.25 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

5-6 basil leaves, washed

.5 – .75 oz. maple syrup, to preferred sweetness

1 lime, halved to press

3 oz. white tequila*

ice

tools needed / shaker, citrus press, muddler, knife, vegetable peeler, cutting board

DIRECTIONS

  1. Muddle cucumber and basil together in the shaker.
  2. Press the lime juice into the shaker.
  3. Add the maple syrup and tequila.
  4. Shake.
  5. Fill a glass with ice.
  6. Remove the lid of the shaker and pour the entire shaker over the ice.
  7. Garnish with a basil leaf and enjoy!

 

We happily stepped back into our school routine last week, sharpening pencils and opening fresh notebooks, flipping through old books on our shelves and thumbing through new ones, too. I know not every home feels as enthusiastic about this shift toward structure and routine again, but I LOVE the start of a fresh school year––even the ones we arbitrarily create at home. Wink.

The key to fluid days around here is keeping snack and lunchtime simple, synchronous, and á la carte. I know. You expected some other deeper bit of wisdom, perhaps even something more specific to our studies? But this is truth: having or not having food in some amount of order for our days can make or break it. Meal times form the backbone of our day’s rhythm, and as it turns out, having a purposeful pantry and fridge at the beginning of the week is not only a miraculous gift, but also a contributor to peaceful days spent at home.

I realized several years ago, that although we don’t need to pack lunches for our homeschool, choosing a few quality pre-made snacks to have around the pantry is a life-saver to mix into the day, whether for lunch or a snack or a last minute outing. And I’m happy to partner with Annie’s Homegrown this week, as their organic snacks are longtime favorites to add to our school day table and beyond.

Since our children each have meal responsibilities during the week––helping to chop, prep, and create meals one day a week––they also choose how to pair and prep various fruits and veggies during snack and lunch. The á la carte style options allows each of the kids to choose how to create and re-create, even within limited options. Perhaps chopped apples and Annie’s White Cheddar Bunnies for snack one day will feel entirely different when swapping apples for berries or carrots and hummus. Even with young children, it offers variety while empowering them with options as the helper. Snacks often are planned at the beginning of the week together, which offers the benefit of choice but without the hassle of snack-time bickering during the day.

As for other ways we keep daytime meals simple, it’s important that everyone eats at the same time. Otherwise, our kitchen is a non-stop train of grazing, mess, and incomplete meals. Snack-time might be as simple as adding a box of Organic Snack Mix to our afternoon table, passing around––or more importantly, playing with––Organic Really Peely Fruit Tape, or setting a bowl of fruit at the center of our work table. The same can also neatly pack in a backpack on days we go for a nature walk or play with friends. It depends on our own needs for that part of the day, but it’s important we all snack at the same time so we’re ready for meals together, too.

Lunchtime is a more distinct pause in our day, a meal together without the distraction of any books or projects. I love creating lunch boards with my helpers to again create a selection for everyone to choose from and build on their own. They vary day-to-day sometimes with leftovers from dinner, or fixings for sandwiches or wraps, meats and cheeses or peanut butter and jelly. White Cheddar Bunnies are always welcome. We’ve also more recently discovered using cloth napkins with a lunch board can save time washing dishes and paper towels, too.

Whether you’re packing your littles off to school or trying to create fluid days within your home, having your children help can save you time and empower their independence, too. Let them pack their lunches the night before and plan with you a bit at the front of the week. Are they happy to eat the same thing every day or are there simple ways to swap one part for another? And for all of you mutual lovers of Annie’s Homegrown, use your Target Cartwheel app all month to save money and stock up on your family’s favorites.  


This post is sponsored by Annie’s Homegrown, snacks our family has enjoyed for years. All thoughts and images are my own. And as always, thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this space afloat. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Target & Annie’s. The opinions and text are all mine.

Our garden has been less than stellar this summer and is quickly dissipating in this heat. I rotated plants into different beds this year, as master gardeners always insist for the soil’s health, but it turns out, we have such specific quantities and places of light in our heavily shaded yard, that my typical planting spots just work best. Sigh. Lessons learned. I did plant a row of heirloom Swiss Chard from seed this year, and it has performed beautifully and bountifully. If you are new to gardening, or even planting in patio pots, Swiss Chard is a great starting place. It’s beautiful, easy to grow, intuitive to manage, and prolific. It’s also an inexpensive veggie this time of year at local farmer’s markets and grocers.

But what do I do with it? There are hundred of ways to use it, but most times, I chop and sauté with garlic and onion or use as a tortilla for a wrap. Our blender has been broken the last year (argh!) or I’d use it in smoothies, too. To get more creative and to share a few yummy looking ways to eat it, here are fifteen diverse recipes, everything from Chard Dark Chocolate Torte to Chard Hummus Wraps, to enjoy at your table right now.

 

Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio with Rainbow Chard

Hot Sausage and Crispy Chard Pizza

Drink Your Greens Smoothie

Runner Beans with Swiss Chard Stems and Basil

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls

Swiss Chard Hazelnut Dessert Tart

Crispy Swiss Chard Cakes with Mascarpone Creamed Spinach

Rainbow Chard Hummus Wraps

Chard Dark Chocolate Torte

Butternut Squash and Chard in Spicy Harissa Coconut Sauce

Chard Black and Blue Smoothie

Chard + Sweet Corn Tacos

Sweet Thai Chile Chicken Swiss Chard Wraps with Peanut Ginger Sauce

Spicy Swiss Chard Chips

Herb, Chard, and Feta Soup

 


Springtime is my favorite time for outdoor meals and entertaining. The days are a bit longer, the evenings a bit warmer, and mealtime conversation tends to linger. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I’ve been thinking on ways to celebrate this beautiful and empowering journey, not just with my family, but also with the friends––the women who surround and support me in motherhood.

I have a kindred relationship with my mother, one that has greatly shaped and encouraged me, and if she lived closer, I would celebrate her in this spot, too, along with my sisters and long-time friends. Motherhood was never intended to be a solo role, and I am forever grateful to have a local tribe of women who support me with wisdom, encouragement, laughter, and practical help. It is cliché to say they make me a better mother, but they do.

In the Long-Legged House, Wendell Berry writes, “A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” This community doesn’t require any us to be the same, or even occupy the same roles or routines. Many of us are in different stages of life, with or without children. It doesn’t matter. They are a part of my tribe. And enjoying an elegant tapas style picnic on the lawn is one way I want to celebrate their shared place in my life.

But Spring and early Summer are a wonderful time for celebrations of any sort. Here, I wanted to create an elegant tapas-style picnic, relaxed a bit with playful colors and mismatched plates, candles, wildflowers, and blankets on the lawn. A thoughtfully planned evening, with a playful and casual vibe. I shared more tips and details for pulling together a similar meal last week over on Anthropologie’s blog