An afternoon spent making merry

UntitledThe only thing better than having friends who are kind, fun and generous, is having friends who are all the aforementioned plus fantastic cooks and bakers. Lucky us, we got invited, quite last minute, to spend Christmas eve afternoon with such friends at their cozy home, enjoying music, good wine and conversation, and great food. Continue reading

Hunkering down

eve of evesI love how life slows down this time of year. There’s still lots of hustling and bustling, mostly for retailers and shoppers, but come tomorrow evening a good many folks begin … to …  slow …  down.

We aren’t traveling anywhere and no one but our 20 year-old daughter will be visiting. Just the five of us and two cats. The larder is almost full. Only a few items to pick up from local shops.

Sip wine. Continue reading

Do you play with Christmas traditions?

 

UntitledI’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas, how we celebrate it and the traditions we adopt.

Specifically, the expectation to gather with extended family whether you love being around each other or not. For some, this is the most special part of the season, the getting together and making merry. For others, it’s the thing they dread the most.

Would it be so wrong to go in the opposite direction, avoid the gatherings and instead hunker down? Would it be too radical to opt out of all the busyness and instead slow down, enter a little hibernation and get quiet so as to contemplate deeper messages of the season?

And what about the food we eat? +AKA-Nothing wrong with a good turkey dinner with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce and plum pudding. All delicious stuff! But I was thinking the other day, why not serve up a menu of Middle Eastern fare. After all, that’s the part of the world Jesus is from. I’m thinking roast chicken, tabbouleh, and hummus, and for dessert, halva.DSC_6402

We should inject a little Middle Eastern music into our playlists too. Along with Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls let’s listen to music like this. And while we’re at it, burn a little frankincense and myrrh.

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Palo santo wood and is related to frankincense and myrrh. In Spanish, the name literally means +IBw-holy wood+IB0-

Things to think about, especially if you’re someone who likes to play with tradition and shake things up. By all means go ahead and stick with the usual script. But also feel free to go off script and do things your way.

I’m open to playing with Christmas menus and music, but I’m a northern dweller so there are some things I will forever associate with this time of the year: evergreens, red berries, pine cones and oranges,PicMonkey CollageDSC_2200bells, wreaths, poinsettias and a box of beautiful chocolates,PicMonkey Collage2+AKA-heavily scented trees strung with lights,

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snowmen, candles, stars and birch bark. PicMonkey CollageI doubt my love of these things and my tradition of decorating our home with them will ever change. Unless, of course, I find myself someday living in a totally different part of the world.

Finding my Christmas groove

I’m trying to feel festive. I am.

The feeling is there, percolating, but slow to fully present itself. As I write this I only have two wreaths, a bit of greenery and a few pine cones in our home. That’s it!

I need to get inspired.

Nothing like attending a Christmas party to kick start those festive feelings and get your own ball rolling.

For the past several years, Cindy, who I met in the schoolyard years ago, has hosted a Christmas party. It started out as a sort of ladies luncheon, which was fun until around 3:15 pm when there was a mad scramble to get on our boots and coats, and skedaddle over to the schoolyard before the bell rang.

Now it’s an evening affair and still as festive and wonderful as ever.

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It’s always a treat to gather at Cindy’s home and particularly so this time of year. Her flair for seasonal decorating is inspiring; all lights, greenery, flowers and simple iconic ornaments. Combined with great food and drinks it hits the perfect note of festiveness.

The last few years, Cindy incorporated a fun element: an ornament exchange.

Everyone brings a wrapped ornament which we place under the tree. Near the end of the evening we draw numbers and then take turns picking. It was interesting to see how many animal ornaments there were this year. We’re a trendy bunch I guess. (I got a squirrel ornament – those of you who know me well will see how appropriate this is!)

Thank you Cindy. You’ve started a wonderful tradition and I’m so happy to be a part of it.

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Have a wonderful weekend

 

UntitledI bet many of you have your Christmas tree by now. Not us, not yet. We tend to get ours a little later and leave it up a little longer.

The house is decluttered and fairly organized so I guess it’s time to get out the decorations and get decorating! Continue reading

One of our favourite things to eat: baked spicy tofu with mango and sweet corn

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One credo I live by is share what you love, and I LOVE this recipe. We all love it. Whenever I announce it’s on the menu I hear a chorus of “Hoorays!”

The recipe comes from the cookbook called The Healthy Kitchen by Andrew Weil, M.D and Rosie Daley (she was Oprah’s personal chef at one time). It’s called Spicy Tofu with Bean Thread Noodles and you can find it here. Continue reading