march

2.boys

Hi!  It’s still March, right?  I’m getting this post up just under the wire, of my personal March deadline.  Yes, no problem.  When I only post once a month, it seems like there is so much  that happens!

Our lives have been a flurry of kid-paced activity these days…which is to say, sometimes I feel like we are whirling around doing a thousand things at once and sometimes I feel like time has never moved so slowly. (i.e., while I’m waiting for someone to put their own shoes on….)

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year in Portland.  It’s rainy and grey and still cold — I am sick of wearing corduroy pants and wool cardigans.  I’m tired of soup.  And yet — the daffodils bloom all over town early March and I feel like they are speaking to me personally!  As if to say, “hold on, Mary.  Spring is around the corner, summer is coming!”  Have you ever seen a friendlier face than that of a daffodil?  Oh, I just love them.  The spring blossoms in Portland are just outrageous — all the flowering trees make it seem like a magical kingdom and their soft pinks and sweet lavenders and buoyant whites poke out in colorful majesty against the grey sky.  It’s breathtaking just walking/driving/biking down the street.

3

finished

Orlis and I have been busy with projects — grabbing our duo hours here and there while Lenox naps and doing messy things with them.  Glueing fabric scraps to pieces of cardboard and making volcanoes with baking soda!  Endless fun!  This past Christmas, Orlis’ most beloved godmother gave him the greatest gift ever — a subscription to Green Kid Crafts.  Every month he gets a box in the mail with 3 craft projects inside.  They are great!  We’ve made soap, shadow puppets, volcanoes, stuffed animals, paper lanterns, and all kinds of other cool stuff.  The crafts in the box get us going and then we get craft-minded and start making up projects of our own.  I love making things alongside little hands.  It’s like having a new pair of eyes.  Wonder-filled.featherhangingfeather

before

When you live in Portland, you need to have indoor hobbies.  That’s what I always tell the checkout folks at the grocery store while we watch the rain outside — “it’s a good thing for indoor hobbies!”  I’ve been sewing every little chance I get.  Reversible sun hats for the boys (hoping the sky will take a hint), some placemats out of a table runner that I made last year and never used, a fun springy version of the Washi dress (hoping the temperatures will take a hint; I’d actually like to make about 5 more of these in every cool fabric I see), and some very cool little feather quilts for my walls.  I felt these two walls flanking our little living room side window were begging for some art, so I decided to turn Anna Marie Horner’s feather quilt into some mini’s for the occasion.  Anna Marie gave me the pattern, and wonderful Melissa from her blog gave me the courage.  They bring such a softness to this room, and a sense of whimsy.afterlenoxo.w:farmtablerunnercut tablerunnerplacemats.ongreenpants

help.w:smiling

Mostly we are spending our days remembering to breathe through the moments that require lots of patience and reminding our hearts and bodies to laugh.  Growing pains are hilarious if you allow them to be.  Rough little hands can so quickly become soft hands with the right coaxing, and I know someday, I’ll sleep!  In the meanwhile, summer is coming soon, and my mind shifts towards that moment when I realize we are spending more time outdoors than in.  With that in mind, we have mud piles and sand piles to create for summer fun, and maybe — if it doesn’t incense the neighbors too much — the makings of an outdoor sound wall in the backyard.  And in the meantime, there’s leftover birthday cake to eat and an endless supply of fabric in my studio…..

volcanorealdoingheartl.piano.owashiback3.boys

lenox hatorlisringcakebirthdayblowoutHappy Spring!  See you next month….

EmailPinterestShare

february

IMG_0018 IMG_0039

IMG_9995

IMG_0058 IMG_0107 IMG_0120 IMG_0199 IMG_0209 IMG_0216 IMG_0223 IMG_0251 IMG_0266 IMG_0286 IMG_0302 IMG_0307 IMG_0316 IMG_0319 IMG_0324 IMG_0326 IMG_0330 IMG_0354 IMG_0355 IMG_0356 IMG_0361 IMG_0364 IMG_0365 IMG_0379 IMG_0381

IMG_0383

IMG_0382

Happy Love Month, friends.  Here I am, checking in mid-February, as promised.  It’s been strange, wild weather around here — most of January sunny, bright, and in the 50s, and then the last 4 days we’ve been completely covered in snow and ice.  We didn’t leave the house for 3 whole days and I think they were the 3 best days of Lenox’s life.  (re: no carseat time).  We’ve been busy — especially with our hands!  Late January and through this ice storm, we have had our hands in a hundred projects all at once, just the way we like it.  Oh, how I love these winter days with some good excuses to stay inside and delve into our “indoor hobbies” as I like to call the best things in life (cooking/sewing/crafting/baking/reading).  The rituals of this time of year are dear to me — slow-cooking winter soups on the stove, flannel pajamas worn into the lunch hour, and time to dream and make bucket lists of all kinds.  We’ve been talking a lot about our nighttime dreams these days — sometimes acting them out and sometimes just remarking how weird and wonderful it is to dream.  And, we’ve been dreaming about all the things we want to do before…hmmm…I don’t know, summer?  Like make more goop.  And make more flubber.  And make more playdough in every color.  And make more baby quilts out of old sweaters and make more magnetic fish for our magnetic fishing pole.  (Sometimes Orlis can catch 5 fish on his line at one time!)

Finally, I got around to making a simple valance for our dining area window and then Orlis and I sat at my machine and sewed a heart garland to mark Valentine’s week.  We caught wind from the preschool that it’s ok to bring a Valentine for everyone this Thursday so, as you might imagine, we got right to it and cut up our garland scraps and started collaging some paper hearts.  Orlis chose the word “friends!” to mark his sweet creations.  I just love them.

Lenox is getting to be quite the tubble-butt — boy, does that boy like to eat.  (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree there.)  Now he crawls around following Orlis wherever Orlis goes (which is in mad circles around the house from dawn until we strap him into his bed at night….j/k)  To prompt brotherly cooperation, we’ve taken to letting Orlis brush Lenox’s 6 teeth which makes everyone giggle and still gets the job done.  The soup/stew section of our family favorites recipe book is getting a lot of love — we go back and forth between potato leek soup and baked potato soup and throw in some winter root vegetable chowder for good measure.  I’m finally getting into the groove of bread-baking, finding a natural rhythm with it, and finding it is, of course, so easy.  Just a whole lot of do-nothing, really, with this recipe.  It’s SO delicious and makes our house smell the way I imagine heaven smells.

I’d like to make a bucket list of slow-cooker recipes but only absolutely delicious ones, and make my way through them in the next month or two.  I have a few I like but not enough.  I’d love some vegetarian ones too — maybe something Indian-inspired.  Do you have anything you’d love to share?

Happy Valentine’s Day, by the way.  I’m thinking we’ll start ours with a dance party to appease the mini-bootyshakers in this house, and end it with a round-table appreciation ritual at dinner time.  Now that’s lovin’.

See you next month!

EmailPinterestShare

these days (deep summer)

IMG_8630These days I’m…

*waking to transcendent bright morning light and savoring this luminous time of year when the sun is in full blast as she welcomes me into my day

*finding succulent tomatoes and crisp garden cucumbers left on our doorstep by our neighbors almost daily

*reverting (happily) to whipping up last year’s favorite Asian Cucumber salad and crunching away on it all day long

*freezing homemade popsicles made from fresh picked berries to the delight (and utter mess-making) of my very favorite toddler

*pausing, many times a day, to notice the quiet; the absence of our beloved, old kitty Lima Bean who passed a few weeks ago

*feeling my heart grow warm every time I see this almost-3-month-old smile at me

*loving the excuse that summer gives to many people we love to come for a visit.  Loving these delightful people up while they are here.  Loving all the food we eat together.  Loving all the great places we get to take them around town.  Loving all the love they shake out on our kiddos.

*missing my sewing machine and all my fabrics.  Knowing there will be time, one of these days — some little pocket of time — to get my hands going again in my studio.

*appreciating the social nature of summer.  Summer birthday parties, summer potlucks, summer playgroups.  All kinds of reasons to gather in parks and backyards and celebrate the season and blooming friendships.

*putting fresh tomatoes and charred corn in everything I can think of.   Savoring how distinctive summer’s flavors truly are.

*hearing, for the thousandth time, “Don’t Let Me Down” being banged out on our makeshift-furniture drum set and the wailing vocals of a boy who loves music.

*feeling my heart crack open as I witness my two boys learning how to be brothers.  Feeling the newness of my sweet little babe transform, slowly, into a comfortable, most welcome known-ness…a not-so-new-now feeling.  Noticing the fresh energy he brings into our family dynamic.

*and relishing these long warm days, sweet, slow memory-making days and the green beauty of this bountiful time of year.

nakey baby IMG_8398 IMG_8467 IMG_8496 IMG_8592

IMG_8498 IMG_8532 IMG_8558 IMG_8614 IMG_8610 IMG_8601

IMG_8628

IMG_8608

IMG_8582

EmailPinterestShare

jammin’

IMG_8207IMG_8205IMG_8212IMG_8201IMG_8216

Hello there!  Please forgive my absence the last several weeks!  I’ve missed you in this space.  I’ve been a little busy learning how to juggle two [energetic] babes, traveling, and hosting friends and family.  Things have been hectic but good.  Whew!  (I wouldn’t exactly describe these as “the lazy days of summer….”)  As always, I appreciate your patronage and loyalty to this blog.  I know the next several months, with much adjusting still to do, that posts will likely be sporadic.  Thanks for staying with me.

 

I’d be hard-pressed to designate my favorite time of year, as so many months hold special characteristics, rhythms, and rituals of their own for me.  But, I do love summer.  Oh, how the heat and the bounty of all things growing makes my heart sing.   Last week, we had some special visitors, who drove up from California, come and stay with us for a week.  We did lots of front-porching and back-grilling, but these outdoorsy folks also wanted a taste of the good life, so one day we hopped in our cars and caravanned out to Sauvie Island for berry picking — one of my very favorite summer rituals.

There we were, 11 of us, out there in the fields filling our hands and our buckets with as many succulent berries as we could pick.  I’ll tell you, there is nothing quite so satisfying as picking a ripe raspberry off its little husk.  All it takes is the smallest tug and she gives, landing in your open palm, staring up at you just waiting to be consumed. Oh, the perfection!  We weren’t shy about sampling those sweet fruits, nor were we shy about filling our wagons and heading back to the weigh station knowing we had a few afternoons standing in front of the stove in store for us.

And jam we did.  The evidence of of black marionberries making itself visible all over my kitchen towels — as we fed cup after cup of berries into their cooking pot, letting them stew with sugar and lemon peel, and then filling jar after jar with their glorious liquid mess.  Oh, the hot work of jam-making is so worth the jars of sweet goodness that last and last all year long, reminding us of these fleeting summer months when everything is abundant and green.

And now, my goodness, we’ve got ourselves a shelf full of homemade jam.  Jam to give to those we love.  Jam to spread on toast and bagels and big bowls of yogurt.  Jam for jam crumb-cakes and homemade muffins.  And plenty of jam to stuff in the car of these find folks as we send them on their way.

IMG_8222IMG_8227IMG_8232

IMG_8237IMG_8250

jam

EmailPinterestShare

good, old birthday

cheesecake

one

birthday

As the days and weeks tick by and we draw ever nearer to the actual birth day of our 2nd babe coming up so soon, I’ll admit, we have needed to remind ourselves to remain focused on the other hundreds of things going on.  (when I say “we,” I really mean, ME.)  Last week, someone around this house turned another year older and despite the strange combination of my elephant-size body and mouse-size energy, we did our best to ensure the birthday man was duly celebrated.

Our ways of feting him weren’t anything particularly new or different, but rather some familiar and beloved rituals handpicked from our birthday basket of tricks — a basket of tricks that, I’ve noticed, is becoming more and more fun for the little man whose birthday it wasn’t. (though you might not have been able to tell that with your naked eye.)  We put up our birthday banner, and quickly balloons were scattered all around the house.  We had loads of fun choosing charms for our wooden birthday wheel, and conjured up multiple occasions to light even more candles and sing “Happy Birthday” one more time.  We had, at the birthday boy’s request this salmon and this pea/prosciutto risotto, some roasted asparagus and this cheesecake.  I received the rare gift of getting to cook in my kitchen for a whole hour All By Myself…without a toddler underfoot while Rob and Orlis were out visiting the neighborhood bees.  With that kind of set-up, everything turned out delicious.

And then came the time for some gifties.  We made sure to shower the birthday boy with lots of admiration and appreciation, and then I broke out the big non-surprise –a set of floor pillows I had been hand-stitching entirely in his presence for the last 3 weeks.  Ever since I saw this pattern for the Purl Bee Hawaiian Style Felt Floor Pillows I have been salivating at the opportunity to make a set.  I thought Rob’s music studio needed a little warming…so to speak, what with all that hard gear in there.  I was thinking these large pillows would do the trick of setting a tone that said, “come, sit, stay awhile, play an instrument.”  

 

cut-out

The pattern for the pillows was time-consuming, but not hard.  I had a great time stenciling and cutting out this design…and an even better time doing all the hand-stitching.  I thought I loathed hand-sewing, but in fact, I’m learning to love it.  Perhaps it’s my current state that desires hours sitting on a couch, or maybe I’m just an old dog.  Regardless, I had a great time and after watching me do it for hours, now Orlis is totally excited to learn how to sew too.  (oh, a man after my own heart.)

orlis.w:.ring

pillow

two

Here they are, these sweet mirror-image pillows — larger at 36 X 36 inches than my body is, currently, if that’s possible.  And once I tied the final knot I snuck them down to Rob’s studio to see how they looked and snapped a few photos.  Not bad, next to the organ, wouldn’t you say?

two.in

Of course, immediately upon receiving the pillows, Rob wanted to test them out in the studio too — to see how they might work, and quickly he started having all kinds of ideas.  ”oh!  You could sit on the floor and play a little slide guitar…and then then you are done, they make a nice soft guitar stand.”

guitar.on

Yes, my dear.  They do.  They do make a nice guitar stand.

blowing

out

Candles out, another birthday, another year gone by.  Life seems sweet and soft and cushy.

P.S. Portlanders — this Wednesday the Elimination Communication group meets again at Alma Education Space from 9:30 – 11:00.  Join us!  We’ve been having lots of fun together and the group is growing!  More info here.  And, next Wednesday (April 10th) I’m leading another workshop about Elimination Communication at the same space. It’s one hour and chock full of great info to get you started on this terrific practice.  Do come.

EmailPinterestShare

the best chocolate cake ever

Recently a most beloved friend came through Portland on business and stayed for a night’s visit.  This friend —  yikes, has it been 20 years? — this friend and I have some history, to say the least.  In high school we liked to make batches of cookies in our mothers’ kitchens and deliver them to boys we thought were cute.  (Note to high-school girls reading this blog: not necessarily recommended as a flirtation tactic unless you are looking for a real, ahem, mama’s boy….) When this beloved friend walked through my door a few days ago, just a few moments after Orlis had laid down for an afternoon snooze, I asked her, “want to make a cake?”

This sweet friend is game for most anything, most anytime, and alas, we pulled out the chocolate and flour and eggs and got to work — this time, in my kitchen, but still mimicking those subtly ingrained motions we learned from our mothers about how to sift, measure, and wait.

She dusted, I mixed, we chatted — all of the big and small movements of cake-making that turn out something delicious.  These are motions we’ve done together dozens of times, in various kitchens and cities, spanning an eclectic mix of life stages.  This sweet ritual is one we’ve never actually discussed, but has come to be one of the ways I most like spending time together.  The baking…and then the eating too.  Food and Wine Magazine published the “Best Of” issue last month and we used the “Best Chocolate Dessert” recipe from there, copied below for you.

Was is the best chocolate dessert ever?  Maybe so.  A slice of it was scrumptious that night accompanied by a glass of milk, but then again, the company of the best of friends can make anything taste like the best.  You be the judge.

The Very Best Double-Chocolate Layer Cake  

recipe by Ina Garten as printed in Food and Wine, 2013.

CAKE

1 3/4 cups flour plus more for dusting

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsps baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

 

FROSTING

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup plus 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tbsp instant coffee granules  (or a tbsp of brewed coffee)

 

MAKE THE CAKE

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper.  Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.

2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powered, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed.  In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs, and vanilla.  Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.  Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool and peel off the parchment.

MAKE THE FROSTING

1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted.  Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl.  At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute.  In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water.  (or use a few tablespoons of coffee from what you brewed earlier for the cake batter)  Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.

3. Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up.  Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake tot the edge.  Top with the second layer of crake, rounded side up.  Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing….  Eat a large slice immediately with a cold glass of milk and a good friend.

 

EmailPinterestShare

these days

These days I’m…

*loving our new Friday night homemade pizza ritual

*savoring the delectable food (and great service) we experienced last week at the new Ava Gene’s, in SE Portland.  I can’t wait to go back!

*delighting in my toddler’s desire to have tea-time each and every afternoon, after our tea playdate with the neighbors last week

*wondering when I’ll be back in the neighborhood for more mini pies (and amazing art!) at Pie Spot.  Oh, the pecan!

*rediscovering a love for sitting on cold wet ground and listening to whoever is strumming their guitars at the park

*seeing the tiniest bits of spring popping up and flirting with me when I walk outside my front door.  And bringing a bit of it inside to remind us what is coming so so soon

*reflecting on the wonderful documentery  Birth Story I was lucky enough to see in the theatre last week.  Feeling inspired by the central message — your body is not a lemon!  Do yourselves a favor — go see it when it comes to your town.

*appreciating the lovely visitors whose presence has graced our home and our table the last couple of weeks, from out of town and around the block.  People warm a house like no heater ever could.

*loving our new post-dinner music jamboree.  Lyrics by Orlis, and everyone grab an instrument!

*cherishing these final months of just one kid – the relative ease; the relative tidiness; the relative predictability and familiarity; the intimacy; the duo (and trio) we are.

 

 

EmailPinterestShare

winter chores

Ohhhh, this time of year.  Not my favorite in the garden, but I remind myself how lovely the light is for picture taking.  I know we need to be out there some, with chilled fingers and cold bones raking some leaves and cleaning out the muddy planters, and I remind myself how much the composting food scraps in our bin love having the leaves mixed in — these things go together, ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.  I know just 10-15 minutes here and there in the chill will do it, and I remind myself how many wonderful hand-made knits we have to layer on our bodies.  The rituals of piling on layers and taking off layers are sweet and seasonal in their own right and I remind myself how much I’ll appreciate fewer layers when the summer months come.  The ground is soggy, the puddles seem to never dry, and I remind myself how strongly I believe in the Green Hour” — how good is it for body, mind, spirit…and not just for kids.  The leaves are smelly and our shoes get muddy and I hear resistance from my boys, and I remind myself how lucky we are to have a warm home to retreat inside when the relatively small amount of outdoor work is done.  I remind myself, too, that a vegan meyer lemon coconut bundt cake awaits us, and life is so so good.

 

EmailPinterestShare

the 5 senses, early January

These early days of 2013, all of the senses are alive and noticing…

I’m seeing:

*last year’s calendar turned into quite the opportunity for imaginative story-making

*the sky do miraculous things — one morning, opaque fog; the next, only pinks

*my pile of “to-finish” sewing projects heaping up again

*someone doing the timely dance of doll-play that warms (and settles) this mama’s heart for what’s to come so very soon

*houses, airplanes, cars, and whole cities being built, torn down, and built again with what’s around the house, and whoever feels like lending a hand

*the fresh empty pages of a January calendar that beckon one of my very favorite things: plans

I’m hearing:

*still, in my heart, the laughter and pounding feet of young cousins playing together.  There is so, so much for me to discover as a mama, and lo and behold, last week’s visit with family illuminated an important insight: the very best age for a babysitter for my rambunctious toddler is seven.

*sweet piano duets.  my two boys and their four hands find a way to make each other sound interesting, cheerful, and altogether surprisingly good

*the soulful expression of Michael Kiwanuka on my stereo morning, noon, and night.  My sweetie stocked my stocking with some much-needed new music.

*old favorite books read over and over and over and over and over again

*rain, fairly consistent rain, pelting softly on my lucky plants and trees, and lulling me to sleep as she lands on the rooftop.  sometimes, for a moment, there is a brief respite because it’s snow…and then some sunshine

I’m smelling:

*pine.  wet pine.  drying pine.  pine in the sunshine.

*the last of our dear neighbor’s dried japanese pears — their sweetness filling our noses and our bellies.  This alone, another reason to look forward to next year’s batch

*the lingering smells of Christmas — cinnamon, clove, cookies baking, peppermint — still alive and well in our dwindling but ever-present cookie jar

*citrus of every kind, gracing our table and our breakfast and lunch plates.  ’tis the season, for both the sweet, orange winter treats that offer a boon of color to our meals, and also the extra boost of vitamin C to ward off colds

*a pot of my mother’s beef chili recipe currently cooking away slowly on the stove.  If you can’t have mom’s cooking, in the deepest chill of winter, you can come close with her handwritten secrets

I’m tasting:

*soups, stews, and more soups — ’tis the season, too, for getting creative with both the season’s winter squashes and my immersion blender

*winter root vegetables finding their way onto the table in surprisingly beautiful ways, like Peter Berley’s Barley and Beet Risotto with Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese 

*lots of hearty fare coming out of our beloved slow cooker.  Just the words “slow cooker” conjure up the month of January for me.

*sweet, crunchy Millionaire’s Shortbread for a New Year’s party.  What better day than New Year’s to eat something with “millionaire” in the title.  A girl can dream….

I’m feeling:

*temperatures drifting towards the mid-20s which, for around these parts, means we deserve some snow.  Snow that sticks.  We are donning layer after woolen and flannel layer and enjoying the thousands of fun things to do indoors

*with these low temperatures and bygone holidays, justified in my “good enough” reasons to stop for a brief mid-day snooze with my little one.

*gratitude for warm water and the magical healing, soothing, sedating nature of a nice hot bath

*big elbows and hefty kicks in my midsection — large enough to see and to share with visiting hands

*tenderness towards all who come and go from this house, warming it with their big smiles and gracious gifts. Perhaps a house feels most like a home this time of year

*anticipation for a fresh start, a thousand yummy projects, and so many people to love and know in 2013

 

EmailPinterestShare

it all comes together

Forgive my absence in this space on Monday.  It’s been, well, a flurry of activity.  Now, as I sit here and the first wet snowflakes of the season whip around outside my window, I am filled with both a sense of peace and excitement.  It does all come together, doesn’t it?

We celebrated the last of the Hanukkah evenings in darkness and candlelight over the weekend, and slurped up one heck of a yummy, traditional meal: matzo ball soup, challah bread, and Rob’s potato pancakes slathered in sour cream.  Oh yes.  We finalized our gift supply list and then proceeded to buy more than our combined weight in flour, flax meal, coconut, and powdered sugar, opting this year for a more streamlined approach — most of our beloved family members will receive the same gift.  Oh, I do hope they like homemade goodies.

We spent nap times scrounging up what we had in the way of “wrapping paper” — knowing that a few holes here and there could always be blamed on what happens in the mail.  Boxes were procured and stripped clean of old addresses, and gift items were securely packed.  We are having a few friends over to celebrate the Solstice this Friday, so with Hanukkah wrapped up and the gifting part of Christmas becoming a list of crossed-off names, we moved on to planning the Solstice meal.

I just love the symbolism of the Solstice — the darkest, longest night of the year.  In honor of the season and the dark, I knew I wanted to incorporate seasonal and symbolic ingredients, and decided it would also be a fun challenge to create a meal of only black and red foods.  Here’s what will be gracing our table this year, if all goes as planned:

*beet and goat cheese dip

*black rice with chestnuts and cranberries

*cranberry muffins with brown sugar-almond streusel

*black bean soup with lots of fixins’

*red velvet bundt cake with cream cheese frosting

and cheating here on the black/red, some mac ‘n cheese for all the kiddos.  Let’s be realistic.

We’ll have some cranberry juice spritzer cocktails to go around, and will cheat on the color-scheme once again and have eggnog, spiked and not-spiked.  ’Tis the season.

 

As it all comes together this time of year, I am reminded once again of how magical and memorable these December days are, how there is time for everything important, and how most of the details of this frazzling display we call “the holidays” work themselves out.  Cold weather ushers in some fine excuses to stay in the kitchen all day, the right-size box seems to land itself at my feet at the moment I need it, and one patient toddler miraculously agrees to make his own cookies in his own oven alongside me from time to time so that I can move at an adult speed.  I’m reminded that, despite my sometimes overly-ambitious ideas, the rituals and traditions of holiday time are just beginning to form in our young family, and indeed, it is the simplest ones that will likely continue year after year.  It’s with this in mind that I smile as I plug in our two strands of white lights each morning and I sigh blowing out our advent candles at the end of our evening meal.  These dark days are good ones, indeed.  Long, dark, and full of light.

 

 

EmailPinterestShare