At the start of a new year we all like to make a fresh start and ensure that we are on the best footing for our new adventures. There are traditions for housewarmings, offering blessings for those in new homes making a new life. It seems to me that doing the same thing for a new year is a good idea, so I thought I would list out some of those traditions for you, based on the sentiments. Many of these stem from the two sides of my heritage (the Scots and the Scandinavians), who gave gifts in the dead of winter to share good spirits and reinforce the community.
GOOD HEALTH – Olive oil represents health and well being, and is a wonderful blessing for the kitchen. Spices also symbolize diversity and excitement in life. A potted plant (especially herbs) symbolize life and energy.
PROSPERITY, ABUNDANCE – Bread symbolizes sustenance and usually goes with the blessing “so your house will never know hunger”. Salt has meant luxury throughout time and can be given with the blessing “that your life will always be full of flavour”.
LOVE, STABILITY – Coins symbolize good fortune; it is said to be important to include a coin in a wallet given as a gift and also with the gift of a knife, so as to ensure your friendship is not cut by the blade.
GOOD CHEER, SWEETNESS & LIGHT – Wine and spirits symbolize good cheer in many cultures which tends to go with joy and prosperity as well. Honey symbolizes the sweetness in life well and a connection with nature. A candle represents the light of life and warmth, especially in dark times.
There are also items that help us keep away the negative things, like bad luck or evil spirits. A broom is a good gift to sweep out any bad omens as well as keeping a house clean.
Homemade items are always a welcome gift, not even requiring wrapping. Sharing your own food (and culinary talents) is a beautiful symbol of friendship and community. Fostering those relationships always brings good things, to the recipient and the giver. If you’re stuck for a recipe, try my Banana Bran Muffins.
It’s that time of the year when we all look back on our accomplishments, review our goals and think about the highlights of the past 52 weeks. (After all, we are still hung over from too much food, drink and conversation – we need a bit of time for reflection.There is only so much Boxing Day shopping one can stand.) Here are some of my gems from 2011:
I am a newsletter junkie. Being also a trivia geek, I love all the tidbits I learn from my various specialty missives received regularly in my Inbox. The best find this year was from a site called Urban Daddy, who sends you the coolest of the cool, the most exclusive gizmos and gifties imaginable. Here is their review of highlights from 2011, if you are keen to know about say, a bikini that can charge your iPhone or a vitamin that can help you recover from the worst of hangovers. For foodies, my best recommendation is Chowhound, the collection of boards and articles from the Chow website. This is where you can learn that you can soften your butter at the same time as you take a shower (bring it in the bathroom with you!), or ask where to find “a cookie recipe that will knock (my) new hubbie’s socks off”. (there were 99 replies – she will be set for life!!) If you want something more work-oriented, how about the Hump Day Humour Gram? This is a guide on how to ensure work doesn’t get too serious by sharing ideas on being silly and successful.
I am proud of my garden, as that is my summertime passion. At Rabbit Hollow, we have a third of an acre, and I use as much as possible to grow things. We now have an edible fence made of fruit trees and various berries (I made “Fence Berry Jam” this year). We also have a veggie garden full of heirloom varieties of beets, peas, beans, squash and of course tomatoes. Living in the Okanagan is considered paradise in Canada as we actually have a growing season long enough to ripen things ! This year I also added a sensory garden next to my husband’s outdoor kitchen, so that I can show visitors what some of the less common herbs and spices look and smell like, and I can introduce them to the concept of pairing flavours on the spot. I can’t wait till spring comes and I can watch the new sprouts come up. Ella, my Chocolate Lab, is my best helper, sniffing out new blossoms and sampling whenever possible. (She loves the golden raspberries and nasturtium flowers best.)
I am proud of sharing myself this year. I have had some great times with my Girl Guide pal, Claire, and the girls we lead- it’s been 6 years, phew! My hubbie and I also shared a great deal of bounty from the Rabbit Hollow harvest. There are jars still left of damson plum jam, and tomato sauce and pickled carrots and various chutneys, even after the many gift bags for friends and relatives.
I am also proud to share my blog. My goal for 2012 is to make time to read more of other people’s work, as I love all the ideas floating out there. I like the idea that we can share our opinions and comment on others’, and not focus on “voting someone off the island”. As I get older, I have found that I have less patience for ill-mannered pastimes like reality TV (that might be due to menopause, which reminds me – if the subject holds any interest for you, check out a blog by two lovely ladies I know called Hot-Flashes)
Well, time to pour another drink, I think, and reflect on what I can come up with for a New Year’s resolution. If you have any good suggestions, I am open to ideas 🙂