Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Smoked Salmon Potato Pancakes

I had leftover mashed potatoes. I had leftover smoked salmon. In the freezer I had a small container of finely chopped broccoli, cauliflower, onion, and red bell pepper that I had sauteed in olive oil and had left over from another meal. I decided to make potato pancakes. I put the mashed potatoes in a bowl and added 2 eggs, incorporating well. Then I added some garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, and enough wholemeal flour to make a wet dough. In went some shredded cheddar and chopped smoked salmon. These were folded in. A bit of olive oil in a pan, a heaping large spoonful of the dough, which then got spread out, and some patience while each pancake cooked and got golden brown was all that was required after that!! They are really good. And there are a couple left for tomorrow, too-new leftovers from the old leftovers. Yay!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Season's Greetings

I have been feeling more and more disconnected from Christmas for a few years now. This seemed weird at first, because I used to love it. And of course, I started seeing all of the angry posts on Facebook from people demanding to be wished a merry Christmas instead of any other greeting. It struck me that this hostility and childishness could be one reason I was getting tired of the whole thing. It was never a religious holiday for me, so it wasn't that. I did not even fit into the cultural celebration that is Christmas for most people, because I was in my very early 20s when I made a conscious decision, as a young wife and mother, to not buy into the commercialism .Of course we bought gifts--modest ones. Our daughter was fine getting used books from Powell's for Christmas. For her Christmas morning was always the least of the celebration anyway. We had to wake her up some years so we could get the Christmas morning activities done in enough time to get somewhere or prepare for guests. It was a lot easier all around when we moved across the country and had no obligations for the holiday, except to each other. We planned it as a low key family day and declined invitations. In the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas we listened to Christmas music, watched certain holiday specials on TV (usually from the VCR tapes we'd made, with the commercials edited out), baked cookies and cinnamon rolls, enjoyed the decorations and twinkling lights and I made ornaments and stuff. It was very low stress and simply peaceful and fun.

Over the years I have known people who are really into solstice. Some of these folks are indifferent to Christmas and some have really bad childhood memories and loathe it. I considered the solstice thing for myself, but realized that what they love about solstice and what is always the focus of everything I hear and read about it, is the return of the light. This is exactly the thing that depresses me about solstice--I love the fact that there is more darkness than on any other day, but I am sad that it is now over and the light will start coming back.I get rather sad at this time of year and by March or April, I am depressed because it is spring. So, while I appreciate the darkness of a winter solstice, it doesn't really work as a ritual time or celebration for me. But in thinking about this, I did figure it out. For me this time of year is a celebration of autumn and winter. I am most content, peaceful, happy, and feel at my best in October, November, and December. So my "celebration" happens then. Christmas Day is pretty much the end of that, only because that is the culturally agreed upon winter celebration day.

As it happened, this lack of interest in how Christmas is done coincided with our move here, which included us leaving all our Christmas stuff behind and starting over. As I looked around, I realized that instead of stockings and Santas, we have gravitated towards snowmen and women and I have started to think a lot about trees as a creative focus. Looking at the ornaments I made last year and this, I see that they are all about the natural world--floral, trees, snowpeople, snowflakes, and stuff like that. Twigs are really popular here and I really like that. A friend collected a bunch of sticks and twigs with moss and lichens growing on them and we have those in an arrangement outside, and some inside. We have a branch that she brought outside with wool ornaments on it. She got me an arrangement of twigs with orange slices and berries. I hung some tiny ornaments on that.

It is a far cry from the things we used to have dripping from every available surface at Christmas time--we collected so much in the 3+ decades of our marriage. I made a few more things each year and people gave us so much. Even though we gave away some over the year, going from 6 large boxes (for 3 of us) to nothing to a small bag now (for two of us), in between it seemed like we had way too much!

I am glad to have figured this out, simply because it was a little sad and like I was missing something that used to be important to me. Now that I know what I am really celebrating, I can do it in ways that make sense for me.

So, the most appropriate way to wish me well at this time of year would be "Season's Greetings!" I won't go around demanding that though! "Merry Christmas" is lovely. "Happy Holidays" is just dandy.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's a great time, filled with lots of health, happiness, and love.

Oh yeah, have a happy solstice, too :-)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Stroll Through Donegal Town

Bill and I rode along with a friend to Donegal Town this morning. He had to go there to pick someone up and we thought it would work out well, on this fairly dry day, for us to be dropped off there with enough time to take a walk along the path by the bay before going to Aldi and calling in at the health food store to get some peanut butter with no stuff added. We can usually get this locally, but it's cheaper there. Not only did we get our peanut butter, but I grabbed a box of ginger orange tea with vanilla to try--it is quite good!--and I found a big bag of dried parsley. Much better than always buying those small jars, even though they are only 35 cents at Aldi and at Lidl. That was our last stop, though. Before that we wandered around town a little and found ourselves across from Donegal Castle.

We stopped on a bridge over the river and watched some birds--this guy stayed in his sheltered spot the whole time we were there.

 Then we went back up towards town and the Bank Walk. I stopped again on a different bridge over the same river because I was taken with this big, mossy tree. The green was much brighter in person.
When we got to the beginning of the path, we found out that we would be changing our plans.

So instead of heading down the path, we stopped and admired the same tree from the other side.
The cream-coloured branches across the river were striking.
We meandered back to The Diamond in the centre of town and sat there to eat the cheese and muffins we'd brought for lunch. Then we went to Aldi. I quite appreciate these instructions on the edge of each crosswalk here at the roundabout. I am getting better at it, but with cars moving in opposite directions from what I am used to, I always have to hesitate when crossing the street and think which way to look first.
We got our stuff in Aldi and got it packed up in our backpacks, with one carrier bag besides, made our stop in Simple Simon's, and headed back for The Diamond to wait there for a few minutes until it was time to catch the bus home. As we left, Bill nudged me and said, "There's your song." I had made it through weeks of Christmas music and successfully avoided hearing the songs I loathe, including the horrible, detestable, and obnoxious, "Santa Baby." My luck ran out this afternoon as the tail end of it was playing as we walked outside. A song or two later, it was my turn to nudge Bill and say, "And here's one for you!" It was Michael Buble and Bill is not a fan! Not long after that we had walked over to the bus stop when Mr Buble's invitation to have a holly, jolly Christmas began coming at us from the opposite direction. Bill growled that he really hated Buble's guts. Most unfestive!

It was a pleasant day. Donegal Town is a nice place. But I am always happy to get home. Now to avoid "Last Christmas" for another week and a half!