1. Albion Coat Pattern > 2. The Snow Child: A Novel > 3. Earl Grey Hot Chocolate > 4. Over the Knee Socks > 5. Space Cat Throw > 6. Sweatshirt Cape > 7. Bamboo Robe > 8. Owl Slippers > 9. Giraffe Pajama Pants
Here we are again in the midst of the winter holiday season. I find myself trying to figure out what I want these holidays to be for me. As someone with zero religious inclinations it’s sometimes hard to reconcile a holiday based around something without meaning to me with my desire to celebrate. I realize that christmas is hardly a religious holiday at this point for most so what does it matter? It seems like the time to make our own traditions.
I really enjoy giving handmade gifts and sending out cards. It’s nice to have a reason to take some time to show people you care about that you’re thinking of them. So much so that I may have a tendency to come up with a few too many projects for myself to make. How fast can my little hands sew and knit before it’s too late to give something to someone? Of course, with something handmade, there’s always the worry that someone won’t like the gift at all. It’s feels more personal when it’s something you’ve taken time to put together than something you’ve selected for purchase (though that can be an equally difficult and time consuming task).
Shawn and I have never had a christmas tree since we’ve been together, even though I love trees, mainly because I always talk us out of buying one. One year we found the the most sad and scrawny fake tree but the store refused to sell it to us, because it was the floor model. I still wish we had that tree. It was perfect. This year I didn’t even want to put up or decorations. I can’t say why exactly, but the thought of having to put them away again later in the month seemed like too much. We lucked out this year and my mother let us borrow her aluminum tree and it’s quite lovely and the cats haven’t tried to eat it yet so I’m happy about that.
I love festivities and when things feel special. I had so much fun making a yule log last year. I’d like to make a gingerbread house this year. Though it’s just managed to get a bit chilly here in Los Angeles, it never has the same celebratory feel as other colder states. I’ve been watching snowy movies to make it feel more like winter here.
What are your traditions? What are your favorite things to do to celebrate during the winter months?
We had a double Thanksgiving this year. It’s not uncommon. We kicked things off with the special Thanksgiving meal at Crossroads. We’d never been before and were excited to try it for the first time.
We arrived as they opened and there was already a line out the door. Inside, the the restaurant had a really nice atmosphere, unlike any of the other vegan restaurants in Los Angeles. It really felt like a special occasion. They also had a fancy bar and I wanted to try all their special edition mixed drinks.
The main course was a rosemary hazelnut scaloppini with stuffing, mashed potatoes, porcini gravy and maple mustard glazed brussels sprouts. The scaloppini was quite good, with a unique flavor. I quite liked the hazelnut. I’ll admit that I think I prefer something with a more traditional style like previous thanksgivings. I ended up taking home a bit of this dish and everything was even better the next day topped with extra gravy.
It was a really nice meal and I look forward to revisiting Crossroads on another occasion. As I mentioned, I really liked the atmosphere and I’m excited that there’s now a more upscale vegan spot not too far from us.
Afterward we headed home and started cooking for Thanksgiving number two. Shawn made his family recipe stuffing and biscuits and gravy, to great success. I made seitan en croute, maple glazed carrots and green bean casserole. Jenn brought over a ton of food: mashed potatoes, golden gravy, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes and baked mac & cheese. It was indeed a feast.
Despite the double meal, I managed not to overeat terribly and really just enjoyed spending the day with family and friends.
The holiday season is just around the corner. With a late thanksgiving this year, my mother and I were already able to throw a fancy dinner party. When looking for inspiration for table decor, I found that a lot of the autumn themed decorations tended to be a bit hokey. We kept it fairly simple and decorated mostly with birch logs and little woodland animals that my mom already had from her christmas tree last year. We added some glitter and fake leaves just to spice it up a little then lined the table with real leaves that I collected back East, candles and tiny pumpkins. My mom also found some birch lined planters to house a few ferns. I loved how it turned out and it was not terribly difficult to set up. It even felt like fall in seasonless Los Angeles.
After having a non-stop schedule for the past few months it was nice to have a free day where I could spend some time in the kitchen. We got a little pumpkin in our last CSA box and I had wanted to make something special with it. It seemed like a great chance to make something fully from scratch, instead of using canned pumpkin which is so readily available. It wasn’t difficult at all to bake the pumpkin before making it into puree, it just took a little extra time. I used this recipe for pumpkin bread, halved and without the walnuts. It was perfectly moist and spicy.
Can you tell the difference between the canned pumpkin and the fresh pumpkin in the end? I’m not sure. It’s still nice to know it was simple if I ever want to nix canned foods in general. Plus I made a little video of the process, which made the whole thing a little more fun.