Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holidays- Evolving our Traditions into our New Home

I love the holiday season.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Years, we have traditions we treasure, new experiences annually and lots to do- some things by choice, some things because I feel that "I have to" and some things because I always want to make it better than the last year.

This year, being in a new home, has given me reason to reevaluate.  Everything is up for assessment in a new home.  Kitchen layout and equipment is different so what shall I cook and bake.  The rooms and furniture layout is new so where should decorations go and which ones. Our outside of our home is not like before so where do we hang lights and wreaths and should we get some new stuff.  Some of our family is nearer than before, and some of it (our daughters) our further, so how to coordinate and see our loved ones.  When are church services and are they the same or similar to what we are used to? How can traditions be kept in a new place and with new participants? AND do we need to spend hours online and in the mall shopping and shipping and lugging from state to state or is there another way to share love via gifting?

Bottomline is that everything that makes it to the "to do" list has been evaluated; nothing is on auto pilot since so much has changed.

First change; our tree went up Thanksgiving weekend.  Lots of people to that on Thanksgiving weekend, but we are not one of them.  Circumstances however deemed it CRITICAL in our mind to do so. :-)  Our youngest daughter, who is 22, visited at Thanksgiving.  We loved having her so much at the holiday and missed our other kids equally so. BUT given that she was here and one of the family traditions was to go and chop down a tree, we went to get the tree while she visited. 

We discovered that Indiana is 11th in the country for their supply of Christmas trees, so we had no problem finding a tree farm where we could go and cut down our tree.  Since we now have a truck living out in the country, hauling it home was also easier than roping it to the top of a Jetta as in years past.  Our family room however is smaller so our fat tree is taking over the room, but we still feel that we found the perfect tree so we overlook that.

Food and gifts are getting more of a handmade and simple touch also.  Gifts are being hand crafted by us this year; so far I find it extremely fun and relaxed.  I will blog on that topic in a couple of weeks and we will see if I still share that sentiment!

We have found enthusiasm in decorating and finding new places to set out our Snowman, Santas and other treasured friends.  It is fun to find a new, just right place for things.

So while we miss much of the "sameness" we are finding new ways to enjoy.  I will share in an upcoming blog how we are getting together with family, just in new ways.

How about you?  Traditions that never change?  Or do your holidays continually evolve?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fun

I would say that on the Halloween front, I am somewhat in the middle of totally not celebrating and total blood and gore.  I love my scarecrows, my cute little witches and ghosts and my pumpkin (good for eating after decorating).  BUT I have never been one to do anything more scary than a witches hat or my homemade spiders that I hang in various locations around the house.  BUT I do love Halloween, or maybe it is that I love the Fall and so much of the crispness in the air, the squash and pumpkins, the oranges and yellows that I associate with fall I also associate with the coming of Halloween.

So I have my traditions--I have my cute decorations and candles.  I must buy mum plants and lots of squash to decorate with. I have a silly Halloween party CD that I play every year and have for at least 15 years now.  I love to take the night off and wait for the trick or treaters and cook something very fallish.  Now that we are out in the country, we don't get trick or treaters.  BUT my candles still burn and fill the house with pumpkin and spices, my CD still plays and lst night I cooked roasted vegetable jambalaya to meet the requirement of a "fall type" dish.

For those of you who enjoy Halloween and all the decorations and ghoul that comes along with it, we found the perfect street for you to stroll down, take in and photograph.  For those of you who don't go for that these pictures may not be for you.  I will say though it was fun to walk these several blocks, take pictures and see everyone that comes out to do the same.  One homeowner told us that they have 4000 trick or treaters every year here!  That's lot of candy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lentil Quinoa Pilaf Over Wilted Arugula

I made this wonderful recipe from Vegetarian Times a couple of nights ago.  Eating it for leftovers last night was even better!
I love searching the web along with my cookbooks for new recipes.  I rarely cook something twice because there is just so much out there to try!  Make your own vegetable broth with scraps of veggies for even more flavor.
I really like the lentils along with the quinoa in this recipe. It is such a great texture of flavors in the end product along with the great flavors of the added pine nuts, currants and balsamic at the end.

The ingredients are:
  • 2 ½Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 6 green onions, sliced (1 cup), divided
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 ¼ cups green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 8 cups baby arugula
  • ¼ cup dried currants, divided
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
The full recipe can be found on Vegetarian Times.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Love, Love, Love to COOK!

I really, really love to cook.  I was gone most of September and then just hit the grocery on the way back in and  bought "whatever."  That is not my "normal."  I like to plan my menus then shop to that.  The result is that I never wonder what is for dinner and I don't waste stuff that I buy impulsively. AND after working at a computer for the day I love to play some music, pour a glass of wine and cook.  It relaxes me to look out the window towards the pond and bird feeders, and to see the vastness and calmness of our property. Cooking yummy veggies and grains makes it all feel "good for me."
With that being said, I was so excited to make my menus last night and for the first time in two weeks, head to the grocery today.  So, you may be curious about what's for dinner during the next several nights---
Here's what's cooking:
  • Rustic Farro Soup
  • Shrimp and Zucchini with Brown Rice
  • Baked Penne
  • Roasted Squash with Kale
  • Carrot Soup with Roasted Pistachios
  • Lentil Quinoa Pilaf over Arugula
  • Vegetarian Brats with Warm Potato Salad
  • Southwest Quinoa with Black Beans
With great recipes like these at hand with the ingredients to match I cannot wait to pick and choose nightly what is on the menu.  I am planning to add a page on the site for recipes and pictures, so stay tuned!

How about you?  Planner, Impulsive? Like to cook or not?