Do you ever end up on an adventure because of some small moment? Often life gets in the way of us being able to take advantage of serendipity, but with food and drink it can happen more easily. Today is a day we got to enjoy such an adventure.
I like to window shop at food stores. If you’re not a foodie you probably think I’m crazy but I believe it’s a skill I have developed as a Gourmande. I can ferret out an obscure condiment or spice from a shelf full of otherwise mundane choices, and I can imagine an entire dinner party with the inspiration of a single ingredient. Those things tend to happen on more random occasions, especially when you live in a smaller city with not much in the way of specialty food shops. I always have my eyes peeled for opportunities…
Over the holidays, I was at the liquor store (as happens on more of a regular basis than the rest of the year). I was buying rum for holiday egg nog and Christmas pudding hard sauce but being a wine geek I did wander through the wine section. We live in wine country, so we tend to drink more local wine but I love wines from all over. Imagine my delight when I saw a bottle of Chianti wrapped in straw! You know, the ones our parents had with a candle stuck in them, like they were channeling that romantic scene from “Lady and the Tramp”?
How could I resist? I would be able to dress up a lazy night when we ordered pizza, or I could turn my husband’s favourite meal – spaghetti and meatballs – into a romantic evening. And all for under $20! I bought s bottle and tucked it away in our pantry (a.k.a. Back-up supply of goods, and my special storage for “good things”).
So this morning when my beloved said, “what would you like for dinner? I have some meatballs in the freezer we could have…”, I saw my serendipitous moment. It’s slow season for us, so being a “school night” doesn’t matter; we can put regular routines aside for the evening and none of the balls will fall out of the air. I picked up spaghetti to make sure he didn’t use just any old pasta, and pulled the wine from its hiding place. I dug out the checkered napkins for added effect. The candles are ready, and the table is set. I might even put on a bit of Billy Joel…
And so now I have to go, and as they say, “slip into something more comfortable.” We are having a romantic dinner. See you tomorrow!
(Watch for my new candle holder in a future post!)
we are past the worst. The winter solstice was yesterday, so the days are now getting longer. And Christmas is days away, so you might as well get in the spirit (the expression, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” comes to mind :)). One Christmas during my retail tenure, I remember the store manager saying to us before we opened on December 24th, “Anyone saying they are ‘just looking’ today is deluded. Take them around the store until they have their whole list crossed off, and then you can send them to the pub once they have paid!” This was a bit focused on the capitalistic side of the holiday season, perhaps, but it has always reminded me to have a sense of humour about my obligations and spirit of the winter festive season. I’m just not a “bah humbug” type of person, I guess.
In truth, I am a much bigger supporter of solstice celebrations in spirit. Perhaps it is my Icelandic roots, or maybe it comes from not belonging to any specific religious tradition, but I enjoy the celebration of winter and family and nature. If you are looking for new ideas to boost your enthusiasm this season, I recommend Circle Sanctuary‘s website. They have many ideas on planning a celebration. Food and drink is an integral part, of course (that always makes for a good party!).
It really comes down to making the most of it. By that I don’t mean look for the sales and put more under the tree or on the table. I mean take the time to bake one batch of cookies with a loved one, instead or worrying about making four kinds. Enjoy a meal in view of the Christmas tree and think of all the things for which we can feel grateful. Perform a random act of kindness, for no other reason than to see someone else smile. Wish someone a Merry Christmas or Happy Hannukah when they bump you in the mall or steal your parking space. I guarantee you will feel less wintery and more festive. All of the cultures in the Northern hemisphere celebrate some kind of winter festival to make it through the cold and dark. Embrace the celebrations! (And what the heck, if you feel the best way to take part is to support the economy by shopping more, who am I to stop you? Fill your boots!)
And if you would like to make the most of tradition by using technology, guess what? They have an app for that!… check out this breaking news on experiencing the winter solstice at Stonehenge.
Just remember to pour yourself an eggnog before you start to fiddle around with it 🙂