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08 October 2007

shifting seasons

first fire

Fall has come upon us again.

These past few months have been dazzling and fast — moving to a new home; getting married; learning how to market a book; going on our honeymoon to Italy; planning a book tour. We have been laughing through it all. And panting. I never imagined that so much could happen, in three short months.

I love the richness of summer, the ripe succulence of every fruit, the endless blue sky a mile high up, the feeling that everything is possible. Who is going to turn down summer?

Summer? Go bye-bye now, please.

I'm so happy that the light is fading from the sky in the early evenings now. Butternut squashes will thump hollow on the farmers' markets tables soon. Leaves along Lake Union are starting to hue and cry into brilliant orange and red, before fading and falling. The world feels smaller now.

Sometimes, it's best to remember that not everything is possible.

Slow moments are the ones that stay with me the most.

But there haven't been many slow moments around here. We are in planning mode — what about a restaurant for Los Angeles? I should put up a new recipe soon; okay, if I sit in front of the computer for three hours I could make a dent in those 348 emails I have to answer — and we are a little exhausted. The Chef debuted a new menu on Friday, and I am bringing out a book this Friday. We both feel on the precipice of new life.

(And thank you, thank you to those of you who received your copies early and wrote to me to say how much you loved the book. Those emails kept me going.)

But all this planning has left us a touch weary. Here's a conundrum: we are working and whirling, both of us not sleeping through the night sometimes (I have nightmares now that only three people will show up at a reading, and seven people will buy the book), to build the kind of life we want to live. We want to live in our little house, grow vegetables in the garden, have children, travel when we can, and spend the rest of our time cooking and writing. Small. Simple. Slow.

Lately, we have been rushing to slow down.

Yesterday, the Chef turned to me and said, "Let's have a fire tonight."

I could have written another forty-five emails. I could have written a new recipe down (that one for bacon-potato gratin we both loved). Oh, and there are still more honeymoon pieces to come.

But yesterday, we remembered: we're only living this day once. Let's slow down and taste it.

We stayed in bed until nearly four. That's right — four in the afternoon. We read the entire Sunday paper, ate eggs and sausage, watched a movie, and then all the dvd extras. We lay down and talked, and the conversations weren't intended to solve anything or lead us anywhere. We were silly and lazy and in heaven.

Later, we meandered, to the grocery store, stopping to look at the yellowy light tinging the grey-clouded sky. The sun is setting earlier, the rain is gathering strength, the air feels falsely warm on first touch and chilled underneath. We both love it.

Time to slow down.

And when we returned home, the Chef built us a fire.

When we first stepped foot in this house, we saw the fireplace, and we said yes. But it has not been cold enough to have one yet. I grew up near Los Angeles. The fireplace was mostly decoration. But the Chef grew up in Colorado, and for a brief time he lived in a mountain cabin with no heat or running water. He knows how to build a fire.

Once he coaxed the kindling to giving up heat and flames, we sat down on the wooden floor before it. We turned off all the lights and we watched. Hisses and cracks, the settling logs sighing into empty space, the flames emerging and dancing toward the back, black spots on wood slowly sinking and cracking in two, and the earthy pungent smell of sharp woodsmoke up our noses. After a few moments, I simply lay my head upon his shoulder and let go.

Of course, life rarely stays that perfect for long. The Chef is chronically inflexible, and sitting with his legs crossed leaves him creaky. We wanted to eat dinner before the fire, so he moved into the kitchen to begin it. Within a few moments, smoke wafted the wrong way, out of the fireplace, and all the over-sensitive smoke alarms in the house started shrieking. We were flapping dish towels and opening the front door to let the cold air roar in.

(Turns out we cannot run the fan above the stove and have a fire at the same time. Who knew?)

But the fire kept going. Dinner drew us back before it. The Chef lay a plate before me: oven-roasted pork chops, quinoa cooked with sunflower seeds and champagne vinaigrette; steamed broccoli and sea salt. This dinner? It wouldn't win any awards for haute cuisine. I didn't take any photographs. We simply sat in front of the fire and sighed into our food, and the grace of being together.

It was an imperfect evening. We left the dishes in the sink after dinner. I had baking to do for a possible book appearance, and I didn't begin it until nearly midnight. There were even more emails to answer after an entire day of ignoring them.

But, as the Chef likes to repeat back to me, after I told him my favorite line from a Mary Oliver poem: "What in this life is perfect?"

We leave for the book tour on Thursday night, at 11:50 pm. The rest of the autumn is filled with delicious possibilities, meals to be savored in several different cities, and all these lovely people to meet. We will be moving fast again.

However, it was just so lovely to slow down and pay attention to fall, for one day.

. . .

And when the seasons shift, it's time for a change here too. For weeks, I have been working with dear Kaytlyn to re-design this site. If you feel like it, slow down and explore.

If you click on the photo of the two of us, you'll find an essay I have been drafting for days. It's the story of this website, my life, our lives together, and why I write what I write here.

The recipe site looks spiffy now. The rest of the recipes will be cataloged soon.

And there's a book tour calendar over there on the right. You can follow along with us, and join us (please!) as we make our way through these dazzling days.


At 11:39 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

When you mentioned a restaurant in Los Angeles, would that mean just where to eat for the book tour, or you're actually thinking of starting a restaurant in L.A.? If you meant the latter, I have been seriously brewing some thoughts of my own on the matter, and our sore sore need for a good GF restaurant in L.A. I'd love to hear more about it in future posts, if that is the case.

Also, great new site design!

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Pille said...

Shauna - it's always good to take some time off for reflection, so you and the Chef have been very wise. Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the essay over glutenfreegirlabout. There's a lot I can relate to :)
Good luck with the book tour!

At 5:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

Beautiful post... almost felt it... and imperfect dinner... "smile" :) it happens... I liked the way you are living in it... cos when we enjoy, will forget it later...when we live in it...then memories stay with us forever...

At 5:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful new look to the site. My favorite line from a Mary Oliver poem is, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Say yes to life!

At 5:11 AM, Blogger Redhead in the City said...

The redesign is beautiful! I love the fact that you're glutenfree girl but the picture is pasta - it shows the marvelous things you can do even though you're gluten free. Every time I'm depressed about not being able to eat something, I come here and remember that I can have something better. Thank you for being such an inspiration.

At 5:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your re-design of the site is beautiful! I also enjoyed your background post of how you came to be the person you are today...very inspirational.

And as for your fears of 3 people showing up for one of your tour stops and only 7 people buying your book...fear not! Take me, for example, I'm eagerly awaiting your book from Amazon and I have no food allergies (that I know of, at least!). I can't wait for the book simply because I love how you approach food. Your recipes are fabulous and I see them as being about food as much as being gluten-free. They are simply great recipes to indulge in a love for food - fabulous, fresh food! That they happen to be gluten-free is, for me, a side note. And I know that I'm not the only one. You have done an amazing job of bringing hope and inspiration to countless fellow celiacs, but that certainly doesn't limit your audience either.

At 5:45 AM, Blogger I Am Gluten Free said...


Love the new site! Mazel tov on your marriage and the book and the book tour - on all of it! When you're on the East Coast, if you have time for a short trip up to New England (we're an easy 3 hours north of NYC), please come and visit. The foliage is exquisite, our kitchen is completely GF, I have a kick ass stove, and I could probably pull together an impromptu GF cooking class in no time at all. BTW, is the dinner at the Italian restaurant on Sunday night happening? I noticed it's not on your google calendar. Much luck! warmly, Ellen

At 6:10 AM, Blogger LaurieA-B said...

Last night we were celebrating our purchase of your book--Iris and I found three copies on the top shelf of the new cookbook display at Bailey-Coy! I showed Iris your picture in the back. She was very pleased, but later said indignantly, "It should have Danny AND Shauna!" (She was slightly mollified when I read the bio and photo credit to her.)

I read, and read, and read last night. It is as good as I hoped it would be. The pictures are a really beautiful design element as well--I love how they're incorporated into the book. I'm so happy for you. And your readers.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger jennsquared said...

I know you are on the west coast (drat) and since you are thinking about LA, how about one in the east coast? We got baby cakes, but we need real food too! Wish I can go to one of your book signing... :(

I love the new site! Gives me inspiration to redo mine :)

At 6:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you for making me cry this quiet, beautiful fall morning in michigan. yes - we only get today.

At 6:39 AM, Blogger Allergic Girl® said...

loving the refit shauna! the site looks fantastic!
see you soon in NYC!

At 6:58 AM, Blogger One Food Guy said...

Fireplace season is here! I live outside Boston and the evenings are getting cooler, perfect fire weather. I never thought about how the hood would affect the draft of the fire though, thanks for sharing, I'll keep that one in mind!

At 7:31 AM, Blogger Sarah said...

I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You inspire me every day. You inspired me to start my own food blog. Any chance you will be coming back to the East Coast (other than NY) on your book tour?

At 7:37 AM, Blogger Cookie baker Lynn said...

I love your new look. It's warm, homey, and inviting.

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Emily said...

I got the email that my pre-ordered copy has finally shipped (and in time for you to sign it next week!).

Hopefully I'll have it to read on my bus trip back to NH for a wedding this weekend. I can't think of a better book to set the tone.

Congrats on all of this. Even if it feels like too much bounty to say you "earned "or "deserve "it, I bet that you really, really do.

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

ah! I needed to read this post. when things get so crazy busy, it is so wonderful to get a reminder to slow down, if just for a bit.
i ordered your book and I am so pumped! i kind of feel like i know you, since i've been reading your blog since diagnosis a little over two years ago, and so when i saw your book on Amazon, i felt like i'd spotted a friend! into my cart it went. it's supposed to get here next week sometime. thank you so much, in advance! i can't wait!

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

p.s. Please come to Florida on your book tour! Or even Atlanta!

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Nazila Merati said...

Imperfect dinners are the best kind. I am going to miss all your Seattle appearances. I am bummed.

Get some sleep now, you are going to need all that energy on your book tour!

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Linda said...

I love the new site. Hopefully I'll meet you at the WF event on the 24th.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Tea said...

Gorgeous, my dear--what rich, generous colors. I love it (but you knew that already).

The post, as well, is beautiful. You've almost got me looking forward to winter:-)

At 9:46 AM, Blogger Pink of Perfection said...

delicious, delicious, delicious. i'm so glad you're voice is in the world. just hearing it slows me down.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger karin said...

I love looking at your blog right now: the fire and the steaming plate of food. Exactly how I am trying to slow down and feel right now.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the book tour goes wonderfully well. I'm so disappointed that I'm here in America on a student exchange from Australia, which should give me the opportunity to meet and cheer for you in person, but alas! Mid-terms forbid it! Know, however, that I, and likely many others, are with you in spirit even when we can't be there in person. Hurrah for you!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Crave said...

I love the new look. And the recipe section is great!

I wish your book tour was heading my way, but I know you can't go everywhere. At least I have Amazon.

And I look forward to hearing more about Italy. You make it sound so beautiful, precious, and most of all, yummy.

At 1:06 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

It's 50 degrees here in St. Paul, MN. I've just lit my own fire after making two very large pots of soup for our Tuesday night soup gathering. Thank god, my book finally arrived, just this very moment. I can't wait. . . but I can't stop looking at the cover, simply stunning! Thank you seems far too trite for your enthusiasm, your writing, your photos and your spirit! How can any of us ever thank you properly? I fell like a teenager headed for a rock concert as I plan my trip to Chicago for the book tour, just to get my book signed!

At 2:06 PM, Blogger sweetpea said...

Oh dear, how did that happen? It was one recipe . I am so flattered that I've ordered five more copies! I am going to give copies to all the pediatric GI doc's I work with @ Children's Hospital who constantly tell me "It is such a hard diet"! Your generosity overwhelms . . .

At 3:24 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I like the new look of the site and think it is appropriate with the changing of the seasons. The essay is a wonderful introduction to your site. I cannot wait to meet you and The Chef this weekend in NYC!

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your book was on my doorstep when I got home from work yesterday (so exciting!) and I dived right in.

I'm not going to rush through it, but it's wonderful so far.

Thank you for being so optimistic and such an inspiration. Not only did I just move to Seattle this last year, and was diagnosed Celiac right before I came, but am going to Sicily next Spring (thank you for your email).

You are a godsend.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

i got my book!! would you think of maybe having a reader dinner in LA? i would love to meet you and i could give you a LONG list of restaurants!

At 4:45 PM, Blogger nicole said...

love the redesign -- and have so much fun on your tour! hope you get to eat lots of delicious things!

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Jeanne said...

The fire and the day sound lovely. And the site looks great!

At 6:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just heard an interview with the editors of "The Joy of Cooking". They said that they have a section on cooking over your fireplace. That seems like the sort of adventure you two might enjoy.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Zoomie said...

When My Beloved and I have a day such as you described and get very little accomplished, we look at each other and say, "We got the important things done." Hooray for days like that and partners who love sharing them with us!

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Steph said...

I love your blog! I am so happy for you two. Congrats on the book.
I can relate to the overly sensitive smoke alarms. I my condo they go off every time I turn on the oven, even if there's no smoke.
Regarding The Chef's chronic lack of flexibility - one word: yoga.


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