gingerbread houses and people

gingerbread house 227It’s almost time for winter vacation! Having finished all my holiday gifts and shopping already, we found ourselves with a spectacularly unplanned weekend. We invited some friends over for gingerbread decorating and a little bit of celebrating the winter solstice.

gingerbread house 228I’m always a fan of cookie making, especially in the cold winter months. (Perhaps it’s time I revisited some of my cookie recipes from years past.) For these gingerbread people I used the recipe from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Shawn made some awesome monster gingerbread people. There were also some more unsavory characters.

gingerbread house 230It was my first time constructing a gingerbread house and it was a little lopsided. I spent awhile holding the roof on only to find it slowly sliding moments later. I still think it’s pretty cute though. Maybe next year I’ll try something a little more elaborate. I used a pattern from this recipe book.

gingerbread house 229It was a fun evening as we decorated and ate lots of candy and talked late into the night. The days will be getting longer now as we slowly march towards spring again. Another year is almost over.

winter movies for your icy heart

snowy_moviesSmilla’s Sense of Snow / Fargo / Winter’s Bone / The Ice Storm / Touching the Void / Frozen River

I’ve been on the lookout for snowy movies, but not the cheerful or festive sort. All month I’ve been in the mood for bleak, cold films that really feel like winter. Here are a few of my top picks.

Other worthy mentions: The Shining / Alive / The Thing

Do you have any favorite winter films?

cozy gift guide


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


christmas magic 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?

Thanksgiving 2013

crossroads thanksgiving 232We 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.

crossroads thanksgiving 228 The meal started with a cream of celery and parsnip soup which was delicious.

crossroads thanksgiving 229Along side the soup, we were served sweet potato biscuits. These were perhaps my favorite item of the meal. They were moist and delicately herb seasoned.

crossroads thanksgiving 230The next course was an arugula salad with shaved persimmon and pomegranate vinaigrette. I am a big fan of arugula, so I was quite pleased with this simple, sweet salad.

crossroads thanksgiving 231The 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.

crossroads thanksgiving 233There were two dessert options, the pumpkin tart and the apple cobbler. I ate mostly the cobbler. It had a nice crispy top that I enjoyed with the ice cream.

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.