Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On Generosity

Last week, some friends were over and one of them slipped me an envelope. Inside was a kind note and a check to cover the cost of one of Monrovia's rechargeable cochlear implant batteries (or any of the extra costs that come along with having hearing loss.) It was so thoughtful, kind and touching. This isn't the first time these friends have shown generosity towards Matt and I. And we have many thoughtful people in our lives, but the times these friends have made an intentional and generous gesture to us it has stuck with me.

It isn't that they are wealthy (they aren't), and it isn't that they have cash to burn (they don't!) They have lots of expenses and they live in the Bay Area, one of the priciest places to live in the entire country.

Here is the thing their (and others') generosity has shown me:

  • It doesn't matter how much money you have. You can always share some of what you have with someone else. We live in such a culture of deficiency; we act as if there is never enough, no matter what our checking account says. 
  • Often the people in my life who have fewer resources are the ones who are more generous with what they have.
  • Generosity breeds generosity. Every time someone is generous with me, it makes more generous with others. It reminds me of how much those acts mean, and encourages me to be more open handed with what I have. 
  • If you make it a habit, generosity becomes a way of life. The more you give away, the more you want to do it! I'm not just talking about money, I'm talking about all sorts of resources: time, abilities, use of your belongings, etc...
  • I want my kids to be generous. So I need to be generous! Because that's where they learn it. As my kids get older, I know all of these activities vy for their attention and time, but we have to prioritize generous acts in that mix to ingrain that value into our children. 
This Sunday, our girls put on a lemonade stand in front of our house! We had read a lot about the string of black churches that have been burned down in the last month, and we wanted to do something to show care for these brothers and sisters of ours across the country. It's important for Matt and I to teach our girls that their "neighbor" isn't just the person who lives next door and who looks just like them. We also want to teach them to do what they can to work against acts of injustice and racism. We decided to donate all of the money they earned to a fund for those churches, to be divided equally between them. (You can find out more about the fund here)

The girls were little worker bees! Scrubbing our lemons:
Making signs:
Juicing lemons:

They sold lemonade for two hours, until our lemonade cups ran out! They raised $98.28 to give away! Most of all, they did something to benefit someone else.

I'd love to hear ways that you teach your own children about being generous? How do you model it for them? What are habits of generosity you've built into your own life? 

Talk to me, I'd love to learn more....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Best Ever!

A couple of years ago we were at our friends Justin and Danelle's for dinner, and I found Matt in the kitchen, devouring slices of fresh pumpkin bread off of the counter. Our friend Jennifer had brought a homemade loaf of Tartine Bakery's recipe, and I think Matt ate almost the entire thing. It was delicious! Even though we have the Tartine cookbook we'd never made the Pumpkin Tea Cake. (The lemon bars are also incredible and my go to recipe!) After stealing a few slices to eat on our drive home, Matt decided to conquer this recipe at home sometime. Since then he's made this for special occasions, as well as for regular mornings as a treat.

This morning I woke up to the smell of two loaves baking, and I couldn't have been happier. (It tastes even more yummy when someone else does all the work and you get to roll out of bed and eat a slice)

Pumpkin Tea Cake from Tartine

1 2/3 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (7 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1 tbsp + 2 tsps (25 ml) ground cinnamon
2 tsps (10 ml) nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves
1 cup + 2 tbsps (255 g) pumpkin purée
1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil (like safflower or sunflower)
1 1/3 cups (270 g) sugar
3/4 tsp (4 ml) salt
3 large eggs
2 tbsps sugar for topping
*** 3 tbsps pepitas for topping  (optional: we don't top it with these, but I'm sure it would be good)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×5-inch loaf pan. (You can do this recipe with a stand mixer or by hand.) 

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a mixing bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat the pumpkin purée, oil, sugar, and salt together until well blended. Beat the eggs in one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the flour and mix until just combined. You don’t want to overbeat the batter as it will result in a tougher crumb. Then beat for 5 to 10 seconds until smooth. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and tap the pan on the counter to help flatten the batter out. Sprinkle the sugar (and, if using, pepitas) on top and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Remove the cake from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes. Invert the pan onto a cooling rack and flip the cake out. Turn the cake back right-side up and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature. Lasts about 4 days (well-wrapped) on your counter or up to a week in the refrigerator. Serves 6-8.