Posts tagged holidays

Staycation

Because my family is in New England and the Husband’s family is in the Mid-West, we rarely think about spending the holidays anywhere other than our humble apartment in L.A. I love my family and my in-laws, but snow, ice, freezing nostrils, mittens, and temps below 30 just aren’t my things. Instead, I usually take this two weeks (used to be 10 weeks when I worked for LAUSD) to sit on my couch and crochet, read, and watch movies. Apparently, I’ve been ahead of the game all this time.  This kind of sloth is now known as a “staycation.” It’s all the rage now that the economy is in the toilet.  I’m happily revelling in the hottest new trend as of Saturday.

I’ve been cooking dinners more frequently (you’ll  notice this goes in waves with where I am in the school year- beginning of the year- we eat frozen meals, vacations- home cooking, right after vacations- convenience food, toward the end of the year when I’m in downhill mode- more cooking).

Last week I came up with the idea for this concoction because I have 4 frozen pie shells.  It’s a “Mexican Pie”.  I filled the pie with vegetarian refried beans, topped that with green chiles, then put a layer of soyrizo (vegetarian chorizo), then topped with cheese and three eggs beaten with a little water and milk. I baked at 375 for about 45 minutes. We topped it with sour cream and avocado slices. It was delicious and needed no extra flavoring because of the chiles and chorizo.

mexicanpieI also made a yummy dinner with Israeli couscous- which is the large pearl grain. I made that as directed and sauteed veggie chicken strips with onion and spinach.  We topped the whole thing with feta.  Again, no need for extra seasoning, because the feta and the seasoned chicken strips take care of it.  I had it with sparkling pomegranate juice, which was a holiday gift from one of my students.

israelicouscousLast night I made Veggie Beef Stroganoff.  I got the recipe from another teacher at school who had it for lunch one day.  I mentioned to the hubby how good it looked and he told me how much he LOVEd beef stroganoff.  So a month or so ago I surprised him with it.  It was tasty, so I made it again with the left over sour cream from the Mexican pie. This is sauteed onions, garlic, veggie beef strips, and mushrooms, with vegetable broth and red wine and sour cream.  I put it over wheat rotini because egg noodles have even less nutritional value. I also made brussel sprouts because I love ’em!

stroganoffToday was rainy and cold so I stayed in and cross-stitched all day.  I can’t believe how slowly these projects go.  I listened to music on the Party Shuffle mode the whole time I worked.  It was fun to hear all the good music I have hidden in my ginormous iTunes library.  Here’s what the mystery gift is looking like after about 6 hours of wok on it today.

xstitchgift2This evening I’ll be working on finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  I’m about 250 pages from the end.  My goal is to have it done by Christmas, so Chris and I can watch the movie version as our Xmas movie. I think I’ll have it done.  It’s the only book I’m working on right now. The only serious book, anyway.  I’m in the middle of another knitting mystery. I’m not sure what I’ll start next- maybe The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver.

Have a great holiday season and I’ll check back in next weekend!

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Good Tidings

For the last 7 years, my husband and I celebrated the holiday season by buying gifts for kids whose names hung from the trees in the mall. We’d pick the older kids, because they tragically asked for necessity items, like underwear and socks.  Their wishes of survival seemed so much more immediate than the 4 year old who was asking for a Playstation. We did this because we couldn’t think of a better way to spend our money- we didn’t want a tree or decorations; and we spend all year giving to each other, so we never do presents.  

This year is different.  We’re saving for a house and money isn’t going as far as it used to after bills and groceries. So instead of buying stuff for others, we both spent time volunteering.  I went to the Los Angeles Food Bank to help sort donated food and Chris went to jail- a charity puts people in jail and has them call around to raise money for their “bail.”  We both had wonderful experiences.  Mine left me wondering why I don’t volunteer more outside of the holiday season. So I started researching different possibilities, but came upon the roadblock of many organizations are M-F 9-5. I’m considering going to the hospital that’s within walking distance of our apartment.  They ask for 40 hours, with at least 4 hour shifts.  During the weekend, that’s very doable for me, so that’s the most promising option I have.

So, in the spirit of counting my blessings this holiday season, and sharing with others what I have (this year, more time than money) here are the last of the holiday cards I’ve made for friends and family.cards1cards2cards3And some mystery gift images.  I’m hand-making gifts for my mom, sister, and father.  Here are two close-ups of what I’m working on.

mysterygift1mysterygift2I’ve also been baking up a storm, but I keep forgetting to take pictures.  Last weekend I made mint chocolate chip cookies and mom’s peanut butter cups.  The weekend before that I made sugar cookies.  Later today I’m making kiss cookies. I’ve gotten in the habit of baking for Chris’s employees, so I send most to work with him, bring some to work for my colleagues, and we keep some at home. Yum!

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