Thursday, November 30, 2023

Monthly Musings: How We Holiday

I love linking up with with Holly at Pink Lady and Patty at Good, Better, Best. I also love talking about "how we holiday" because, being an interfaith family, oh, do we holiday in December!!!

1) Favourite holiday traditions?

My two favourite December holiday traditions are our church small group Channukah party and Jólabókaflóð, the Icelandic tradition of getting a new book on Christmas Eve and reading until way too late. Sadly, this year, our small group Channukah party may not happen since it's hard to get everyone organized in December. But on Christmas Eve you will absolutely find me curled up with a new book (probably Iron Flame on my Kobo) and reading (and snacking) until all hours.

Jólabókaflóð, December 2019

2) Favourite holiday fashion items or accessories?

My absolute favourite holiday fashion item is our matching holiday pajamas. I wrote about this yesterday, but for this year we just got matching bottoms and are wearing tops we already own. If you follow me on Instagram, look for the annual Christmas morning in front of the tree photo!


FYI, this is the third blog post in a row where I've used this picture! Hahahahaha!!!

3) Share your favourite holiday recipes?

My favourite holiday recipe is the cranberry potpourri that simmers on our stove for most of December. I got this idea from a blog friend and it has been a December staple at our house ever since. It's basically a couple of orange slices, a handful of cranberries, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and a sprinkling of whole cloves. Add water and simmer away, adding water as necessary. I mix up a new batch every couple of days. I will make the first batch of this tomorrow and it will be a staple in our house for the next month!

4) How do you celebrate the holidays?

Since Dave is Jewish, and I am Christian, we celebrate all the holidays! Okay, not all of them but you get the picture!

We celebrate Channukah (we try to do something special every night like time with family, we light our two menorahs, we do our traditional skate shopping night, etc)...


... and we also celebrate Christmas, usually with my parents. One thing to note is that we do not celebrate the Santa and reindeer part of Christmas in any way shape or form, although there are other secular aspects of the holiday which I embrace with open arms -- stockings, a tree, lots of lights. Not celebrating Santa was a deliberate choice we made when we were discussing how to be an interfaith family.

5) Do you go to see holiday lights?

Yes. I love going to see holiday lights -- especially light displays. Rachel, Dave, and I are going to a local light installation next weekend and I am so excited!!!


We're always excited to see the menorah and driedels at Wonders of Winter in our city's park. among the other displays. This year I think we're going to Wonders of Winter with our best friends which is something we've tried to do together fairly often. 

I also love kicking off Advent, and the holiday season, with walking the labyrinth at our midweek church program. We're doing this tonight and I can't wait! I'll probably cry :)

6) How do you decorate your house for the holidays?

My decorating is quite minimal, especially in years when we're travelling and not home for the holidays. 

Some Christmas decorations

I love hanging the driedels on our kitchen cupboard and the Channukah banner on the piano.

Christmas tree, Channukah garland, Advent wreath -- yep, we're all set! This is from a couple of years ago but we often have both holidays happening at the same time.

7) If you get a Christmas tree -- is it real or fake?

My dad owned a tree farm/garden centre when I was growing up so our tree was always real. I cannot do a fake tree but my parents have switched to the dark side (a fake tree) for the past couple of years. I feel like I don't even know them anymore! Hahaha!!! On years when we go to Saskatchewan for Christmas, we don't put up a tree, but in years when we stay here, I love getting a tree through our neighbourhood association.

8) Favourite holiday treats?

For Channukah, I love latkes! They are so good, especially the ones Dave makes.

For Christmas, I love jamjams, a cookie my mom makes, and Turtles always remind me of my grandma.

9) If you have pets...

We don't have pets. And when we did (fish), we didn't do anything for them!

10) Best tips to make the holidays less stressful?

Well, this year, we're travelling over the holidays so not having to host, and being able to keep decorating minimal is pretty stress-free! Although, hoping our flight is not cancelled this year adds to the stress :) We're also trying to keep gift giving pretty low key so that really helps. We're prioritizing experiences over things.

So that is how we holiday! I mostly love this time of year but sometimes I feel like there is a lot of pressure to "go big" or "make the most of every single thing" and the reality is, that's not possible. So we try to do things and celebrate in ways which are meaningful to us. Being with family, and embracing a few small traditions, are what make this season special for us. Not everyone feels this way, but this is how we holiday.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

What's Up Wednesday: November 2023

When I wrote my What's Up Wednesday post in October I said I was looking forward to the coziness of November. While I had a lot more time at home in November, and accomplished quite a bit, I am still missing out on some coziness. I want more time to do a puzzle, watch a Hallmark movie, come home from work and put my pajamas on -- you know, that kind of thing. November was definitely less crazy than October, but I still want more, you know... So there are my November musings.

As always on the last Wednesday of the month, I'm linking up with Shay at Mix and Match Mama and Sheaffer at Sheaffer Told Me Too for their What's Up Wednesday post.

image from here
What we're eating this week... For the first time ever, we signed up for the fall CSA share. So we've been eating lots of CSA veggies still -- and getting some more unusual ones.
This weekend I chopped up a huge rutabaga and another half of one into fries and served them with steamed tatsoi and pan fried fish. Rachel thought this was the best meal ever! She especially loved the rutabaga fries!
November is also a great soup month -- butternut squash with pear on the left and cream of carrot-cheddar on the right.
On the left we have mizuna greens stir fried with onions, tofu, and peppers and served with sweet potato fries. And the star of the show on the right was the roasted potatoes! So good!!!
And then we had some spaghetti squash with veggie meatballs on the left and pumpkin penne pasta on the right. Did I mention we've been eating well this month?!?!
And hands down, the star of November has been Applesauce Jumbles. This recipe comes from Holly at Pink Lady and is a favourite around here. (You can find the recipe here and I highly recommend making them!)

What I'm reminiscing about... Rachel is a mouse in The Nutcracker this year, among other things, and I'm reminiscing about last time she was a mouse. It was during Covid (December 2020, so three years ago) and she filmed her piece at a theatre and, for some reason, we never got to see it.
See the cute little mouse mask.

What I'm loving... I am loving all the walking I've gotten done in November. I've mentioned before that I do virtual walks through an app and I'm currently walking the length of the United Kingdom. At the end of September I was 31 kilometres behind my goal. Well, with all the walking I've done this fall, I'm currently 81 kilometres ahead so I'm really happy with that. I am also so much happier when I can walk a lot. Although the kids hate when I make them join me. Hahaha! I get a lot of walking in going to and from work and walking with the kids to their activities or doing errands.
Walking home with Sam from badminton on the left and with Rachel to catch the LRT to dance on the right.

What we've been up to... As I mentioned above, November was the month of getting things done at home. Here are a few highlights...

...I dug a new garden bed and planted the lily bulbs my parents sent me. Hopefully next spring these shoots will pop up and by summer I'll have beautiful lilies. I hope.

Dave and I went on a few dates this month. We got to go to a Candlelight concert and the one we attended was classic rock on strings. It was so good!!! 

We helped our friends' kid celebrate their 9th birthday, complete with a pinata! This was a really fun afternoon with our friends.

Dave and I saw a young adult friend perform in She Kills Monsters. It was such a fun play and I'm so glad we got to see it. And the weather was good so we walked to the university and back to see the play, which was also nice.

What I'm dreading... Well, Rachel was supposed to get braces next week but we got a last minute call to have her appointment in mid-November. So I was dreading that and now I'm just glad we're through it.
Now I'm dreading travelling over the holidays. Remember last year?!?!? (You can read about some of it here but it involved numerous cancelled/delayed flights and a last minute road trip.) Here's hoping that this year's holiday travel is a lot smoother.
What I'm working on... I'm working on (low key) decorating the house for the holidays. I haven't done very much yet but I think this weekend I'll get more done. I bought the plants below at my favourite greenhouse on Saturday. The two small pines are for the kids' room since we're not putting up a tree this year as we won't be home. Then I bought a Grinch tree for a dining room centrepiece. Like I said above, I'm going with low-key decorating this year.
And laundry. I'm always working on laundry! Hahaha! 

What I'm excited about... Right this minute I'm excited about my mug of hot tea since we've gotten a lot of snow over the past couple of days and it feels really cold outside. I'm also excited to get my holiday potpourri going on Friday (I try to wait until December 1 for this) and that I only have three and a half weeks of work left until Winter Break. And I'm excited that tomorrow night is labyrinth night at church. I love this evening.
What I'm watching/reading... I haven't been watching as many Hallmark movies as I'd like but we will get there. Dave has to work out of town today and the kids and I are planning a frozen pizza/Hallmark movie marathon this evening!
As for reading, my current lunch book (at work) is A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. I'm also reading The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett for my book club tomorrow night and The Little Old Lady Who Broke All The Rules by Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg. You know me -- I always have a few books on the go :)
What I'm listening to... I just finished Sharon Says So's podcast Resilience on the Japanese imprisonment camps during World War II. I listen to them while I'm folding laundry. Now I've started her podcast on the 1970s (the decade I was born) and it's so interesting.

I haven't started listening to Christmas music yet but I'll probably start listening to that on Friday -- December 1.

What I'm wearing... The matching holiday pjs have been pulled out and they are so fun this year! Buffalo wearing Buffalo plaid -- hahahaha!!! We just bought pajama pants for everyone this year and are wearing pajama shirts we already have.
They're hard to see in this picture but click this link (I don't get commission if you click on links!) for a better look at the pattern.
What I'm doing this weekend... Rachel is dancing in The Nutcracker so we'll be ferrying her to the theatre and back all weekend! And watching a performance, of course :) And I'll be doing some decorating when I'm not doing Nutcracker things.
Besides the aforementioned mouse, she's also an M&M and a "rose" in the Garden number.
What I'm looking forward to next month... Channukah! Christmas! Time with family! Two weeks of sleeping in!!! Jólabókaflóð! <-- This is the Icelandic tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the rest of the evening reading. It's so much fun!!!

What I bought on Amazon... Channukah candles! The store where we used to buy them closed this past year so I ordered some on Amazon. Our menorahs are going to be so pretty this year!

Dripless Hanukkah Candles Multicoloured Striped Deluxe Tapered Decorations, Chanukkah Menorah Candles for All 8 Nights of Cha

So that's what's up with us this Wednesday. I'm looking forward to some warmth and coziness and some enjoying of this next month of celebrating, in all its various forms.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Hello Monday!: The Weekend I Didn't Get In The Car

This was the weekend I was either walking somewhere or at home in my fuzzy owl pajama pants! There was no middle ground -- HAHAHA!!!

When I got home on Friday afternoon, we all quickly put on our holiday best (matching pajama pants and sherpa jackets) to get some quick pictures! This is not our holiday card this year but we needed some family photos and our official photographer decided to move to The States for the fall.


We had supper and then Dave and I walked to the university to see our friend who was performing in "She Kills Monsters." Dave and I loved this play and our friend did an amazing job in their role. We were going to take the LRT home but we realized we could probably walk home faster so we did!

On Saturday morning, Dave dropped Sam and I off at badminton -- this was the only time I was in the car all weekend -- a five minute drive! I then walked to my favourite greenhouse for their customer appreciation day. I bought a little Grinch tree for our dining room table, as well as a few other things :) I can never resist! Then I walked to the fish store to pick up some for supper and then I got Sam from badminton.
He convinced me to get him something at Tim's and then we walked home through the cemetery.
Once at home I tackled the laundry mountain and did a few more loads. Unfortunately, my indoor clothesline broke :( I had to tie it to a hook in the basement but it's really saggy. I need to figure out how to replace it ASAP!!! While I was doing laundry, I listened to Sharon Says So's podcast. I finished her podcast on Japanese internment camps in the US during World War II. Then I started her podcast about the 1970s.
I cut two huge rutabagas into fries for supper. Have you ever cut a rutabaga?!?!? They were huge and very hard to cut.

Dave and I then walked to our friends' house to get some presents which our one friend made, and then we walked uptown to do some Jólabókaflóð shopping, as well as to pick up a few other gifts.
I always feel so accomplished when I make a multi-pot meal. Saturday night I baked the rutabaga fries, pan fried fish, and steamed tatsoi. Sam made the garlic bread. After supper I was going to watch a Hallmark movie with the rest of my family but my stomach hurt (I think I ate too much rutabaga when I was cutting it earlier) and my legs hurt from all the walking. So I crawled into bed and read for the rest of the evening.
I really enjoyed Sunday morning -- drinking coffee-hot chocolate and catching up with Dave. It was so nice to have a relaxed morning.
Rachel and I took the LRT to dance. She had four hours of rehearsal for The Nutcracker and I was on costume handing out duties. It was fun to get to see some of her dance early.

Rachel is excited to be an Evil Mouse (with a Cheese Spear) among other things this year!
When I got home, I ate lunch, dropped some things off at a friends' house, and then hung the ornaments on our outside tree. It was raining while Dave and I were working on this but it's supposed to turn into snow soon. I'll do the window boxes next weekend...
After an afternoon snack of a Coke and a cherry danish I made supper. Soup on a rainy, cold day is exactly right.
I ended the weekend by watching "Christmas by Design" with Rachel and a cup of cranberry tea!

It was nice to have a weekend full of getting things done but also getting in a lot of walking. My total mileage for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was 35.8 kilometres (just over 22 miles) so no wonder my legs are sore!
As has been my November tradition, I'm joining in with "Hello Monday" with Holly, who blogs at Pink Lady, and Sarah, who blogs at Sunshine And Books. Click on their blogs to find the other posts in the link up, or to join in and tell all about your weekend.