Blogger Book Club Bread & Wine {first half}

Welcome back to #bloggerbookclub where we chat about books we've read in the comment sections of the posts. This is not a book review - they are bits of a conversation that we would share if we were meeting in a coffee shop or living room across the table from each other. 

I don't know about you, but I have never read any of Shauna's books before. Bread & Wine was a delight, the perfect book to get back into the swing of reading post-baby (I mean, there is a recipe at the end of nearly every chapter!) When I announced this as my next #bloggerbookclub book, a friend asked, isn't that a cookbook? Well, yes, but so much more. And let's be honest, even if it was just a cookbook, it might still have been the first book I read since Hudson was born. While the food sounds delicious, it is the raw emotion Shauna shares that continually had me nodding my head and thanking her as if she were sitting at a bistro table with me. For fear of this post getting out of control, I am only going to touch the first half of her book here today, the second half will be on Friday.

Shauna describes her life, her heart, her soul and how it is connected to spending time with people, preparing food, eating with them, and sharing the deepest parts of her heart with her family and friends around a table. The way she describes certain moments - well, I felt like I was experiencing them with her, firsthand. She writes with such poignancy and such depth about her life's real moments.

Author's Note & Introduction: Shauna's prayer for this book is that we too can foster community and family over our dinner tables. I love how she writes "you'll gather people you love around your be heard and fed and nourished." pg. 10 Throughout the book, Shauna shares the core of developing deepening relationships with family, friends, community, and God; how meeting people where they are and spending time together over a meal can become a spiritual encounter. This made me itch in the best possible way. I mentally began planning meals with friends, invite lists in my head, from the very beginning of the book. What a beautiful reminder that the dishes and the laundry and the tantrums don't matter; that I am happiest when our house is full. The idea of serving people at the table, it is life-giving.

Part One:

Shauna writes of her mom being healthy before it was trendy (and she has already confessed to loving processed cheese). This is my kind of girl! With so many fad diets and people newly becoming free of this that and the other thing, it was interesting to read the lengths at which Shauna's mom went, even while living modestly. Eating healthy isn't cheap, but doesn't have to break the bank.

Blueberries. Obviously we are kindred spirits.

Community, "your tribe" (the same verbiage as Bloom)
"It doesn't take a decade and it doesn't take three times a week." pg. 31

Start Where You Are: Where are you at on the cooking spectrum of freezer aisle to scratch chef? What are your traditions? Where are you in this journey? What are your favorite cookbooks? (and do you read them in bed?!)

Go-To Risotto: Can I confess I've never made a risotto. I am not a baker. My cooking tends to be a mishmash of ingredients haphazardly following a recipe, with continual adjustments. Risotto seems like the perfect dish for me. I have never been more grateful for a cooking description than "sinkholes" pg. 44. Do you make risotto? What is your favorite recipe?

On Tea and Pajamas: Shauna writes, "What I really want more than food is an external voice to say, 'You've done enough. It is OK to be tired.' The work I'm doing now is to let those words fall deeply on me." pg. 71 This is where I am right now. Desperately in need of being told that I can rest, that I should rest. That the work will wait.
I can't talk about this book with out mentioning the ever pressent journey of motherhood - the struggles of loss and difficulty. I can hardly count the number of women for whom I pray healing in this area. Prayers, upon prayers, upon prayers for children, and healing, and recovering. I cannot pretend to know what that journey of womanhood is like, so I won't. I hope that I can be the friend showing up with safety goggles. (referencing pg. 57)

Part Two:

Jazz and Curry: The three time plan to cooking feels liberating. "Recipes are the scales, the training wheels, the paint bu numbers that lead us to jazz, two-wheel riding, and our very own blank canvas." pg. 101 Shauna mentions her go to Mango Curry (and later on White Chicken Chili) as her meal staples - the items she cooks again and again. What are your go to meals? Do you have a default recipe that you turn to when company springs up?

Open the Door: It was so encouraging to read about Shauna's first home, hosting parties in unlikely corners of her house because that was the only way to fit everyone in. Mark and I have always living in a few hundred square feet, I am not sure any of our apartments have topped a thousand. Most of our apartments could fit inside many of our friend's kitchens. In spite of these space constraints, we have hosted our alma mater lacrosse teams when they were playing nearby, countless DC interns every new semester, and friends visiting, willing to sleep toe to toe just to fit. In fact, we have people over so frequently amidst the mess and chaos that recently a friend exclaimed, "Wow, your house looks so clean." after I had reorganized a bit. Yikes! Me not looking presentable is a greater barrier than my house being messy. What hinders you from opening your door?

Baking Cookies with Batman: Do you bake with your kids? Or cook with your parents growing up? I most remember cooking with my Yia-yia and my sister Julia, even though I know I cooked with my mom almost every day.

Morning, Noon, and Night: Shauna's description of her nausea while pregnant made me think she was writing about my pregnancies. I especially enjoyed the way Henry supported her, Behr cheered for me. It was kind and funny and also depressing. I'll spare you the details. She also confesses her difficulty in accepting help. "I'm a get-stuff-done person. I'm a utility player, a workhorse." pg. 119 Again, I felt like Shauna was talking directly to me. I am a the utility player she talks about. I have been a bridesmaid only twice, most of the time a friend tells me they are getting married and asks if I can be their coordination person the day of. I don't think I have ever gone to a wedding without a laundry list of tasks. That is who I am, but it is not the only thing I have to be. "I've long wanted to be better at accepting help, better at admitting weakness, better at trusting that people love me not for what I can do but just because they do." pg. 120

Cupcake in the Oven: This is the point in the book in which the sobs began. The raw emotion of Kristi's story got me. Cancer always does. A family member (who prefers not to talk about it) fought cancer for years of my childhood - they have been in remission long enough to be "cured" but I know those cancer cells are still inside them. It is terrifying. The list of ties and stories in my own life go on. A friend who shared this last pregnancy, even being due on the same day, lost her father right before our kids were born. My grandfather passed away the day after we found out we were pregnant with Behr. One of my closest family members passed away before meeting either of my children. The emotions of Kristi's story brought out the ugly cry.

Feasting and Fasting: I love her approach to eating here. It is like everything in moderation, but better. Do you relate to having times/seasons for feasting and fasting?

Baby Mac: The arrival of Mac concludes part two of the book and the first half of book club. We can talk more about the book (and Mac of course) on Friday.

I love to hear your thoughts, emotions, reactions to this book as well as some of the questions I asked. Feel free to share your favorite recipes or parts of the first half of the book that I didn't mention here. And if you want to receive the discussion via email, make sure to hit "subscribe to comments" when you leave yours. This will allow you to receive the comments emailed, but for this specific post, not my whole blog.

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  1. sounds really good. I think I'll have to pick this one up!

    1. Do it! It is such a good read. Encouraging, entertaining, and real. I highly recommend!

  2. MUST get this book! :) Maybe one day I can participate in the discussions! :)

    1. Yes, Next Month is Beautiful Ruins, August is Glennon's book. Join us!

  3. I read this one a few months ago, so don't remember all the details, but just that it was such a refreshing read.

    I tried her risotto once!

    I love the idea of hosting more (hosting not "entertaining") though I'm not as natural of a host as she is. I think later in the book she advises that it's fine to still be working on the food when people arrive, and to give them jobs. People feel better about that, than if the food is ready but you're not ready and you're running around trying to put on make up or vacuum. So: prep the house first, put on the music or candles (and makeup!) then people feel like they're not intruding. So that was a helpful takeaway, but overall the spirit of it is just creating space and letting people into your life, when so often we're not secure enough to do that. That was lovely encourragement.

    Also agree with you about the three-time cooking plan (recipe, recipe with your modifications, no recipe--you own it). I feel like a lot of times a try something then never do it again!

    I love to cook, but am not great at the planning part of it, so it becomes not as fun when it's a stressful, time-sensitive, toddler-yelling-at-your-knees situation.

    I cried several times!

    1. Yes -- there is something about the way she encourages opening your home that makes it seem less stressful (even with the toddler yelling at your knees). Now you need to make the risotto again with your own twist!

    2. I also really liked her focus on inviting people in the process of preparing a meal. I think because my mom was always so stressed about being totally prepared when people came over, I never thought of this. But you are right, it does really open up your life a bit when you go through the process together. The only problem is my kitchen counter is so small that really only one person can be cooking at a time. Even the husband and I struggle with this... I do think that her way of looking at opening her home does make it much more laid back and fun.

  4. I really thought the 'reading cookbooks in bed' thing was funny. I would never have thought to do that. Cooking is out of necessity for me, though I am slowly growing to enjoy it more as I build my skills.

    I don't ever remember cooking with my grandmom or mom. I sort of wish that I had, but she never cooked for the joy of it, it was always just to feed her kids. I hope to cook with my kids as they grow, even at a very young age (not yet though, I think Millie is a bit to young to grasp the concept yet).

    Too be honest it isn't my house or my mess that keeps people away, it is my business and my need for alone time. My husband and I are really working on our hospitality. Trying to learn to open our doors more and not worry so much about having an evening off. Trying to learn that the community is just as beautiful and needed as the quite evenings with just us. I think because both of us are so introverted we often default to just hanging out as a small family.

    I already finished the book, but I loved it and am already looking forward to re-reading sections (once I get it back from my mom who is reading it currently).

    I really liked her emphasis on her community, her tribe, her people. It really makes me think about how closed off I can be, and how long it can take me to build true friendships. But like I said already, my introvert side often wins. Working on it though... I just keep surrounding myself with extrovert friends who rub off on me.



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