Ever since I moved to Portland from Minnesota, I have been glad I don't have to deal with driving in the snow, but I still miss how pretty it is falling from the sky, blanketing the ground and trees with a cover of white. So, it was nice to see those big, puffy flakes falling from the sky, turning the world white. I also find it funny that a couple of inches out here has everyone excited - almost the whole city shuts down and all the schools close.
My first winter here, we had a big ice storm that left ice all over the streets and sidewalks. I laughed as I watched the news, how big of a deal they were making out of a small layer of ice. School was canceled, so I put on my coat, hat, and gloves and headed to the computer lab to get some homework done (by the way - stupid Lauren, the computer lab is closed if school is closed!).
I quickly realized the difference between bad weather in Minneapolis and bad weather in Portland is salt. No salt as well as fewer plows and sand trucks results in SLIPPERY ice. I used to walk around on ice and snow all the time in Minneapolis, but it was made passable by the amount of salt and sand dumped on it.
Yesterday was the kind of day that never really became "light" outside, and we had our christmas tree lights on most of the day, like my family always does on Christmas day. In fact, it sort of felt like Christmas day - both Ben and I home from work, snow falling, and an easy-going feeling that comes from having a holiday to enjoy and nowhere to be.
Ben and I enjoyed our home-bound day hunkered down in our apartment, drinking tea, trying to keep warm, and pursuing individual projects.
I had wanted to bake some holiday cookies yesterday (Russian tea cakes, please!), but I'm out of tapioca flour (I used the last bit of it Friday for our "gluten free pizza Friday" dinner), and I wasn't about to go out in the snow to the other side of town just to buy more, so I had to busy my hands other ways instead.
It was the perfect excuse to crochet some toys for my twin nephews :)
As I crocheted these little guys, I watched the Christmas cartoons my brother recorded on VHS sometime around 1985...included in this tape are gems such as Charlie Brown's Christmas, Twas the Night Before Christmas, Mickey's Christmas Carol, Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, and Garfield's Christmas Special. I thought about how excited I was, growing up, to watch those cartoons year after year. I also noticed how commercials have changed over the years - my oh my! This was back in the day when Ronald McDonald dominated McDonald's commercials and 7up gave away a "count-down to Christmas" poster with each pack of 7up.
No matter how many times I watch Mickey's Christmas Carol, it still cracks me up to see Goofy trying to ski and hear Mickey's laugh (ha-hah) as he narrates the transitions between cartoon clips of the gangs's favorite Christmas's. Oh, and then there's the ghost of Christmas present and his inability to pronounce "pistachios." (He says, "mismashios," which is what I have been lovingly calling them for years).
In addition to these beauties, I have a few other movies I love to watch this time of year, usually while baking cookies or wrapping presents:
By the Light of the Silvery Moon
The Sound of Music
It's a Wonderful Life
I have them memorized by now, but they conjure up memories of home and holidays past. For me, they are part of the tradition around the holidays. What are some of your favorites?
We also finally broke down and turned on the heat yesterday - with highs in the upper 20's and lows in the teens, we just couldn't put on enough clothing to keep us warm. Even as I type this, I am sitting near a window, with a radiator below it, and I have on two sweatshirts, a longsleeve shirt, jeans, socks, slippers, and a blanket over my lap! My toes and fingers are still pretty cold.
And our cats? They have been particularly playful (I think it's hard for them to sleep when they are cold) - playing hide and seek with each other for large parts of the day. At night, they all climb in bed with us, curling up in the nooks of our arms and legs.
We fell asleep last night listening to the wind howl through cracks in the window frames and the clanging of the christmas lights hanging off our balcony.
We made this for dinner last night - simple as can be and healthy and delicious (not to mention the oven helps keep the kitchen warm!).
Roasted winter root vegetables:
You can really use any winter vegetables you want in this - I just used what I had on hand, but would have loved some brussels sprouts or winter broccoli to round it out.
1 Large sweet potato, cut into small pieces
2 cups chopped carrots
1 rutabaga, cubed
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
toasted sliced almonds
Toss all chopped veggies in a baking dish (or two) and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle seasonings over the veggies and toss to coat.
Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes, until sweet potato is tender.
Serve and garnish with sliced almonds.