Posts Tagged ‘tradition’



What makes a cherry chocolate scone taste sweeter? Giving up sugar 10 days before you eat it!


IZ and I have been off sugar for 10 days. I should clarify, we’ve given up processed/refined sugar. We still eat a wee bit of  fruit and there’s the reality there’s sugar in everything– so, we’re aiming to be 95% sugar free this August. (We’re taking it a month at a time!)

But today is Regatta and Regatta typically means eating homemade cherry pie on the porch while watching the fireworks. Plus, one of our lovely neighbors is throwing a party. An Ice Cream Social …. with ice cream.  We adore this neighbor (and most of our neighborhood!) and wouldn’t dream of missing her party. But it does create a bit of dilemma: go to the party and not eat ice cream (kinda rude!) or break our sugar fast for the day.

We opted for the latter. I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand to bump into people who give up sugar/chocolate/coffee/dessert for Lent… and then piously tell you all about it. Typically while you’re shoving a piece of said sacrifice into your own face. Yay! My inner snark goes off and I start to not like you them… a little. We didn’t want to be those people at an ice cream party, “Oh, we’re off sugar. But you know, go ahead and enjoy. Don’t mind us.”


So, I completely apologize if you’re reading this while consuming a candy bar. I’m not giving up sugar because I’m holy–if that helps. I’m not even giving it up because I think sugar is toxic (though, it probably is??). I’m giving it up because nothing else is working! IZ and I pound out at least 25 miles a week and have for months, but nothing is budging. Sure, my calves are like stones, but my middle is hanging on to the fat like a toddler with a precious toy.

When you google this charming little fact, Dr. Google suggests that my problem is one of 2 things. 1: Perimenopause,  or 2: Too much sugar.  There’s no doubt 1 is at hand . . . but I can’t shake the hunch that sugar might be part of the problem as well. (Or the suspicion that it’s going to take more than a month to figure it out!)

So, for the next month (or two or three) no mochas, no chocolate, no refined sugars or processed anything.

Except today–today we’re breaking our fast. We’re 10 days in, so it feels like such a reward!  IZ, lover of cherry pie, opted for cherry chocolate scones instead of pie. Less sugar and he knows I will only eat a sliver of pie and he didn’t want to get stuck with the whole thing.

Let me tell you! 10 days without sugar makes everything sweet taste sweeter. I cut back the sugar in these scones (1/4 cup instead of 1/3) and they taste like I added more! We sat out on our porch this morning and savored our little cheat.

We’ll be back on our fast tomorrow, which makes today just a wee bit sweeter.

Sing in the New Year

Happy New Year!

Turning 15

Hey Amazing Kid. (and you are, amazing) Happy Birthday!

Warm Hands

Day Five: I gave him a set of hand warmers and a note that said, “Take  a brisk walk with mom.”


I gave these hand warmers to the boy this morning and he said, “I have no idea what they are, but they sure smell nice.” Of course they smell nice, I’m not sure I can make anything unscented. It’s a bit of a compulsion, really.

I buy all my herbs wholesale in bulk because of Mireio—but if you don’t have access to a store that will sell peppermint in bulk, you can always use peppermint tea! My guess is you’d just need the contents of one tea bag to split between two hand warmers.  If peppermint isn’t your thing, you can use lavender or balsam or maybe something spicy like  cinnamon and nutmeg. Hand warmers are super easy to make (google is your friend here!) and the addition of a spice or herb just kicks the project up a notch.

And now I feel a bit like Emeril Legasse. BAM, it’s peppermint.

Happy Halloween

The Brawny Guy says, “Have an Extra Strong Halloween.”

This is his last year trick-or-treating. He’s only going because one of his best buddies is a bit younger and wants to uphold their long standing tradition. But, you know it’s time to stop* when you’re bumming your dad’s footwear for your costume. Happy Halloween, everyone. Stay Safe. See you soon.

*or when your mother says, “let’s take some photos” and you just give her that teenager angst look. Yeah, time for YOU to stay home and hand out candy. Good thing you’re living out of a hotel right now, buster!

The Best Wedding Ever

Our niece and her new husband cutting cake. How adorable is it, that their wedding cake is actually cupcakes!

Best. Wedding. Ever.

I’m pretty sure that was said a thousand times on Saturday. But it really was perfect. The weather was hot at 4 pm (hello 90’s!), but it cooled quickly after the ceremony to “balmy.” The wedding was held outside at the bride’s parent’s home. They had a huge white tent and gorgeous round tables covered in white cloths with purple accents. Melanie carried lavender roses and hydrangeas…so romantic. The party lasted late into the night—since it was mostly family and close friends.

For me, a great wedding isn’t about decor or flowers or food—though those things help, right? It’s about intention. It was clear that the bride and the groom spent months working on their vows and planning details that would make people feel comfortable. I’ve been to so many weddings where groups of people sat at their own “lunch table” never to mingle. Where it’s clear everyone feels more than a tad awkward? I didn’t make it around to every table, but it felt like people were mingling constantly—getting to know distant cousins or catching up with old friends and I don’t think I saw any wall-flowers hanging on the edges the whole night. It really was an amazing wedding!

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Day Fourteen: Happy 4th of July

Day Fourteen: Happy 4th of July.


I’m afraid I didn’t even bother with my camera—which just means I was having too good of time hanging out with IZ’s lovely family.  This holiday is usually the least photographed in our world; I seem to have a tradition of forgetting to use my camera on holidays, especially the 4th of July.

We bought a Costco pack of fireworks again this year (what possesses us?!) and once again, I forgot to grab a butane wand to light them. OY. It’s a lot of fireworks for just one kid. Each year I say, “Shouldn’t we buy a smaller pack?” and IZ, replies, “You’ll spend the same amount at the stand but you’ll get less.  Plus, there are always neighbor kids who join in!” And he was right! Our new neighbors had children visiting, which meant we had an audience. It always seems to work out that way. My brother-in-law graciously expedited the process and we kept the fireworks coming with minimal delays, IZ kept us all well fueled with Americanos with whipping cream, and the rest of us just sat  back and enjoyed the show.

It’s funny how traditions start. And how we keep them. The smallest things, like fireworks in your yard shared with neighbors, take on special meaning when you re-enact those gestures yearly. Small traditions, like cuddling under a blanket to watch the city’s firework display over the river, remembered even when your co-cuddler is really too big to be held by you any longer. Pie and champagne and laughter and family—stories told late into the night.  All traditions we keep and remember, keep and cherish, keep and pass on.

Even when we forget to pick up our camera.

What are your 4th of July traditions?

Bake, Baby, Bake


There were three loaves… but, um, we kinda ate one right out of the oven.

I’m not sure what got into me today. But I woke up with that over-acheiver mentality that sometimes possesses me in my sleep. I swear, it’s IZ whispering to me as I snore, “Sweetie, you should really bake something tomorrow.” I wake up, a list drafted in my sleep, and it always contains more than I can achieve in one day—and apparently an agenda item to “bake.”

And evidently, bake something just as over achieving as my delusional to-do list. What is it about Nissua recipes? Three loaves… everyone one of them? How many  Finnish babies do you think I have anyhow? (that’s a trick question, we’re Danes) Ok, so my teenage boy counts as two, but really, three loaves? What are we going to do with three loaves of Cardamom bread?

So I got productive today. Laundry and errands and even a Spiritual Direction meeting—all the while working the steps that is bread baking.

I have to tell you, I’m feeling pretty smug today. I have no business feeling smug, because only yesterday in my multi-tasking frenzy (it’s a trend this time of year) I over-looked a potentially embarrassing flaw in one of Mireio’s glasses. And then last Friday, on an equally “I can do it all” time warp of a day, I managed to bake under baked brownies—those darn things spent 45 minutes in the oven and still were slushy in the middle. So, really, I have no right being all “I can DO this!” But, I can’t really help myself. I baked bread, people. Three loaves of delightfully airy bread and I didn’t burn down the house. Or forget the laundry. Or mess anything up. I homeschooled the kid, flirted with the husband, signaled before turning, and managed to sit down for afternoon coffee and a slice of bread.

Of course, I totally forgot to put on mascara and the dog still isn’t bathed, but we won’t dwell on that.

As for three loaves of bread and what we’re going to do with them…. well, turns out, that’s not so much a problem. The first loaf is already gone, the second is iced for dessert, and the third? Can you say French Toast in the morning, baby? Yeah, IZ, I’m talking to you.

For all you bread baking enthusiasts: I started with this recipe: Finnish Nissua. But then I ran amok, altered the recipe, and well, you know the drill, click here for a recipe card: Cardamom Bread



Danish Maid donuts for All Saints is a family tradition. Despite the fact some of us are still coming down from the previous night’s sugar high. One of us, usually me, braves the rain (it always seems to rain the day after Halloween!) to head downtown for our donut fix.

This year, it seems especially important to honor the tradition. In part, because so much of our traditional Halloween activities were hampered by a string of storms that assailed the North Coast last week. Traditionally, we would head downtown to trick-or-treat in early afternoon, then meet up with IZ to chat about our time over coffee. A quick dash home for dinner and then trick-or-treating in our neighborhood with friends—and back to our house for a little late night snack for the adults, and candy swapping for the kids.

But the potential for rain made me a bit hesitant to commit to all the out-doors events this year. Deluge is not synonymous with a good time! The prospect of drowned teenagers and grumpy parents had me re-thinking our plan. The wind  blew in more than rain, but change as well. Boy Wonder  is now 13 and feeling like he may have outgrown the downtown event. So, the weather provided an easy out—despite the fact that the storm we were expecting didn’t show up until very early this morning. His choice of costume wasn’t water friendly, so he jumped at a chance to just have his buddies over for a party instead of trick-or-treating. He also decided he was OK going without a costume… since his Chewboxa (don’t ask!) costume wasn’t Wii game friendly either. Not our traditional plan, but a good plan!

Of course, you know that just hours before the party he changed his mind. So we scrambled. And sometimes those last minute costumes are the best. I was deeply relieved that he decided to abandon the “ghoul” get-up that has been his tradition for the past 6 years! His Albert Einstein made for a friendlier presence at our front door—and didn’t completely freak out the few tiny visitors that opted to brave the weather!  We had a lovely time with friends. And all the elements of our traditional Halloween were there, good food, good friends, fun costumes, lots of candy—but mixed up to create something new. Something wonderful. Perhaps something we’ll do again!

Traditions can change. Sometimes they need to, in order to thrive and remain meaningful. It’s about finding just enough of your tradition to carry forward—honoring the past as you step into the future. It’s not an easy task to leave behind “the way we’ve always done it.” But it is a rewarding one.

Especially if there are Danish Maid donuts on the other side.

Procrastinate Not

procrastinate not

Procrastinate Not… next year.

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