Giving With Joy

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Making And Mending

The Seattle region got a white Christmas for the first time in years, making kids who were already excited about the holidays delirious with happiness. Last night, the island roads were hushed, usually upright trees hanging over with arching branches perfectly outlined in several inches of snow. There as no wind at all and no sound but the soft shushing of snow falling in fat fluffy feathers. It was a wet, heavy snow, the kind that makes great snowpersons but can be hard on young or fragile trees. I’ve spent many snowy days—and night—wandering the garden, broom in hand, knocking the snow off anything that seemed likely to break under the burden.

It’s also the kind of snow that can truly spell disaster should it freeze over when the icy winter winds blow through. Fortunately, it’s not really cold enough for that scenario and though it’s still in the 30’s, the snow is slowly melting, leaving snow sculptures sagging in puddles of slush. The delighted kids have all headed back indoors now to drink hot chocolate and eat holiday treats. It’s certainly a day for a fire in the wood stove or at least a quiet lie down with a snuggly blanket, a cup of tea, and a purring cat.

Snow No Go

Snow and icy roads in the colder regions made it a no go holidays for many folks, including mine. My kids will enjoy the holiday in their own homes, as I am, and we’ll all get together later in the week. There are some definite advantages to this, as most children (and probably many adults) vastly prefer to be at home playing with new toys, reading new books, listening to new music than to be heading off for Grandmother’s House. My grandkids come here all the time and they quite like it but I can’t help but feel that another day will be more mellow. What’s more, my modest gifts will have a better chance of being appreciated if they aren’t competing with cooler stuff!

Being on my own also necessitates a definite change of menu. Though it can be difficult to get inspired when cooking for one, it’s also a lot easier to make a small batch of something a little fussy, such as gnocchi or tortellini. I’m making myself some big round ravioli stuffed with goat cheese, roasted hazelnuts (chopped), and caramelized onions (made for the meal that isn’t happening). Instead of red sauce, I’m tossing these with a quick saute of mushrooms and leeks (a little wine wouldn’t hurt this one bit). A little salad of shredded savoy cabbage, sweet peppers, and cilantro should round things out nicely, right?

Making And Mending

In recent years, I’ve tried to make most of my gifts, an idea that sometimes meets with mixed reviews but definitely pleases me. That matters because joyfulness is important. I feel a lot more joyful about giving things I’ve made with the recipient in mind than when I overspend on stuff nobody really wants or needs. However, much of what I make is wearable. Little kids may like interesting colorful clothing but naturally enough, they are far more excited about toys and games. I try for a judicious blend of both; this year, it’s twin pirate ships plus big, puffy pillows, sweaters, hats, and so forth. One pillow features soft, furry critters cut off a disintegrating quilt made years ago for my youngest son. When his son asked me to fix it, we decided together to salvage just the critters that he liked best (a bunny with long floppy ears and a saucy squirrel). Now each adorns one side of a soft flannel pillow cover, with a few leaves and acorns to liven things up a bit.

My granddaughter loves cats, so she got a kitty pillow and a marvelous kitty apron made from half a tea towel sewed onto a grosgrain ribbon, then stitched onto a red stretchy cotton velveteen dress from a second hand shop. Grownups get socks and hats and thrummed mittens, or jars of seasoned salts and spicy roasted pumpkin seeds. The combination of making and mending feels like a good compromise between refusing to deal with the horrors of a commercial Christmas and playing Little House On The Prairie. Yesterday I made my annual tussiemussies, gathering a bag of gleanings from the garden to make into tiny bouquets for family and friends. No matter how cold, how much snow or ice has arrived, I can always find enough to make some small beauties to share.

Simple Snacks For Holiday Munching

Over the years, my ideas about holiday foods have undergone a sea change. If I’m honest, I no longer really enjoy endless amounts of ridiculously rich food and elaborate preparations. Instead, I prefer delicious, satisfying treats that aren’t dauntingly difficult but taste good enough that you get more credit for them than they truly deserve. I especially like these spiced pumpkin seeds, which are amazingly edible plus low in carbs and high in protein (for those who care, and there’s always someone).

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups hulled pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon avocado oil (or any you like)
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt (I use my own, but whatever you like will work)
1 pinch smoked serrano chili powder (again, I use my own but try paprika or chipotle or whatever floats your boat)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a rimed baking sheet and bake until crisp but not too brown (6-8 minutes). While seeds roast, combine remaining ingredients in a glass bowl. When seeds start popping and are lightly browned, dump them into the oil mixture and toss to coat. Makes about 2 cup and serves at least one.

The happiest of holidays to you and yours!

This entry was posted in Nutrition, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegan Recipes, Winterizing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Giving With Joy

  1. Deirdre Mowat says:

    Love the handmade presents you describe. This year I have been making pretty cloth shopping or carry bags (known as ‘Boomerang Bags’) as gifts, as our town is trying to become plastic-bag-free! Mini versions for kids are rather cute.

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      Great idea, our island is trying to get rid of plastic bags as well. I like to use homemade carry bags for gift giving too, with a second hand book or some treats (not previously enjoyed!) tucked in. Great way to sllloooowwwwlllyyy use up my fabric stash!

      • Deirdre says:

        Yes, I too use the homemade bags to contain a gift; I like your idea of the pre-loved book as a gift. The bags are definitely a fab way to use up a fabric stash. Since starting our plastic bag-free project, our sewing group has inherited many stashes from locals very happy to find a worthwhile use for their surplus fabric! Thanks for all your thought-provoking blogs.

  2. Buff Hungerland says:

    Ann, I quite love your posts. Long ago and far away, you helped me create a garden on Rose Loop, Bainbridge Island. Family circumstances have dictated a move to subtropical Northern Rivers, New South Wales, Australia, and we have remade our lives Down Under. I think of you and your generosity as I relearn how to garden here, with contributions from friends that have taken root, and that I have passed along in turn. People say I combine textures and layers in a way that is unfamiliar but beautiful, and I tell them a wonderful gardener, Ann Lovejoy, taught me this way. Thank you!

    • Ann Lovejoy says:

      I do remember working with you, and am delighted to hear what you are up to now. How lovely to hear that you are carrying some of those ideas onward into the world. Thank you for letting me know!

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