A loaf of bread, a jug of wine and all of thou lovely, lovely people

My family knows the way to my heart. Probably because they ARE my heart.

So, in a year in which I told them emphatically and sincerely not to get me any birthday presents, they brought me a homemade loaf of a beloved bread, baked in a tiny apartment kitchen and carried 1,182 miles; a fresh vintage of wine, bottled by my two favorite wine makers; Belgian chocolate purchased in Ghent; and Grandma gear I wear with glee.

I’ve been thinking about that largesse as I digest the richness of our time together and begin the countdown until the next family gathering.

Molly baked me paska, an Easter bread through which we trace our Ukranian history. With its sweet, buttery flavor and gorgeous braided crust, paska always reminds me of my grandma, who was neither sweet, nor buttery, nor a wearer of braids. Baba was, however, a stickler for the quality of her baked goods. The legend of her drive to serve the perfect paska will live in familial infamy. I love that bread and the proud, strong women who bake it.

The chocolates arrived just ahead of my trip to New Jersey, thoughtfully packaged with gummy worms so the little people in my house would munch on those rather than the rich, European treats. Katherine’s ploy worked because our boys love gooey candy and I have been able to enjoy those chocolates a little at a time. I’d love to stretch them out until July when I will see Katherine and Ed again, but I am not that disciplined. I have been popping one in my mouth each evening and it’s an excellent way to rebrand a challenging day. (I definitely intended to share my Belgian chocolates with the other adult in my house but I have not managed to make that offer just yet.)

Vinnie and Danni made the wine, called Rush River Rosé. They bought the grapes this year, and are preparing a field near our cabin to begin growing their own varities. I look forward to tasting the wine with them and enjoying the layers of stories, science and speculation that will flavor this first batch.

And what can I say about the grandma gear? I wear it every chance I get.

My last year of my sixth decade turned out to be vintage, full of challenges for sure but also rich with love, laughter, sweetness and paska.

Molly baked me a beautiful paska and brought it all the way from Minneapolis to New Jersey. We can trace our Ukrainian history through the bread and my grandma’s story in particular.
I was also lucky enough to score a bottle of this wine, bottled by my two favorite winemakers.
I’m looking forward to tasting all the layers that went into making this first batch. From my perspective, it has turned out to be a vintage year.
And these two brought me some Belgian chocolates they bought in Ghent.
I haven’t been to Belgium but it seems like it’s my kind of place.
The love of chocolate and delicious waffles runs deep in our family.
And how cute is this little Pillsbury doughbaby celebrating her first Halfway to Halloween?
We did a little dancing while we waited for our Ubers and that was fun too.

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