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I think I've been through the full circuit of holiday emotions in the past week.
Our office manager has been doing a tremendous job of getting people into the holiday spirit in spite of the fact that most people are working from home, we're not having a Christmas party, and people are just generally over everything. Every day since December first she's been posting a holiday challenge in our company Slack channel, and day one was to post pictures of how you've decorated your home for Christmas.
I, of course, had done nothing at that point. All of my Christmas decorations are at my "other" home, and I was in full Grinch mode, loathe to spend a bunch of money on decorating this place when we probably won't be spending Christmas here anyways.
But then a colleague of mine called me out and said a "good mother" would do it for her kids, so then I hit it hard. Now it looks like Christmas has puked all over my little apartment.
I went from, meh, maybe I'll buy a fake tree, to ordering an organic, locally-grown tree, a tree stand, a bunch of Santas, paper stars to hang in the windows, candles, a mini tree for the kid's rooms, and multiple gingerbread house kits.
On Tuesday I didn't have many meetings, so decided to head out shopping on my lunch hour to try and get a bunch of stocking stuffers and anything I might not order online. I kept wandering through stores, but was so overwhelmed by a) the number of people in there, and b) how much meaningless, plastic junk I was picking up.
I kept looking at the stuff in my basket and thinking, I don't want this crap in my house! So in the end I put everything back, bought myself a box of fancy chocolates, and called it a day.
I did head back out on Saturday morning with my head a bit more in the game, but the crowds and lineups to get into most places were still pretty off-putting. But I figure I got enough things sorted, can order the rest, and everything else doesn't matter.
The annoying thing, I realized, about not only being a parent but being a parent living across the world from our family, is not only do I have to get gifts from myself, but I also have to represent Santa AND the grandparents.
If it was just me I'd be like, here is the one thing I got for you, please enjoy it. But both Santa and the grandparents are much more generous than I am, which means I have to think up / sort out a lot more stuff.
I decided to get this Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Shop as a gift from the grandparents, even though it is a rad gift that I would much rather take credit for myself. It's the giving season and whatnot. For Niko I got this Lego City Fire Rescue Burger Bar set, which squirts actual water, which I surely will regret. He also really wants this Lego City Flying Helicopter set, which I am leaving for his Dad to get him, because I'm generous and whatnot.
Odin is much harder to shop for because he doesn't have real interests yet, but I did get him a knock-off etch-a-sketch , which I think he will enjoy, and a toy excavator that is the colour orange, which is his favourite. Pity the fool who doesn't know to give Odin the orange plate.
I'm also planning to order them some books (thinking Niko is old enough for Roald Dahl by now?) new pyjamas, and a few other things that they need more than want.
I have a few other things to order, like a gift for Paul, gifts from the kids to Paul and each other, etc. Normally I'd take them out shopping but it just doesn't feel like a smart thing to do right now, so online it is.
Yesterday the kids and I put up the Christmas tree and decorated it. It's very haphazard, and most of the ornaments are on the bottom, but they are quite satisfied with their handiwork. Then I burnt the sh*t out of my hand assembling gingerbread houses for them to decorate with hot, melted sugar, but the structures are quite stable so I guess it was worth it.
I decided that there was too much chaos happening to attempt cooking dinner, so phoned it in and ordered Thai food... which they hated and did not eat. I ordered the simplest dishes - just fried rice and pad thai, not even remotely spicy, but they both gave it two thumbs down and basically ate gingerbread house supplies for dinner instead.
Odin's house has no candy on it, just glue where candy used to be, and I must say, well played, little man. T'is the season!
Niko and I watched Home Alone this weekend, and I cried through like 98% of the movie. I don't know if it's nostalgia, being away from my family for so long, or what, but I seriously could not contain myself. I'm going to be a hot mess when my annual Love Actually viewing rolls around.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
This week I kicked off the holiday season by sharing a traditional Swedish recipe for Lussekatter. These Swedish saffron buns are a hallmark of the holiday season, and are easier to make than you might think!
And, I also shared my super simple technique for Oven Roasted Almonds. I'm making lots of holiday treats with roasted nuts in them, so I like to make a big batch at once.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
Yeah, yeah, we all know that Mung Bean and Coconut Curry is in number one. So let’s look at what else is trending.
1. How to Cook Mung Beans. Holding strong up top.
2. Turmeric Latte Mix. This post got bumped onto page one of Google this week, and actually out-performed the mung curry one day. Exciting stuff!
3. 10-Minute Vegetable Ramen Noodles. Slurpable, comfort food goodness.
4. Homemade Pumpkin Purée. Probably the last couple of weeks for this guy.
5. Chia Fresca. Well hello there! Haven't seen you for a while.
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Valerie left the following comment and 5-star review on my Healthy Pumpkin Muffins recipe:
This recipe is the reason why I stock canned pumpkin purée in my pantry. Then, even when I’m out of home made purée, I can make those delicious muffins. The crunch of the millet is just wonderful. A favorite at home. And now I fell like making a batch… Thanks for the recipe.
These are my favourite too, Valerie. Best muffin recipe on the site if you ask me!
THIS WEEK’S MENU
I'm getting to that end of the year, final push before the holidays, too tired and burnt out to cook kind of phase right now. Yes, it happens to food bloggers too!
I have a couple of recipes on the menu this week because I'm testing them for the blog, and a couple of easy fallbacks. Last week the most successful night we had was leftover pizza and a can of beans in tomato sauce and the worst night we had was when I made homemade spaghetti. So I'm going to keep things pretty simple.
Here's what's on the menu for this week:
Monday: Savory oven pancake (Dutch baby) with some veggies.
Tuesday: Weekend leftovers.
Wednesday: Pasta recipe I'm testing for the blog.
Thursday: Omelet night or leftovers.
Friday: Take out and wine with a friend!
Saturday: Baked potatoes and vegetarian chili.
Sunday: Maybe homemade pizza. TBD.
WHAT’S GOOD AROUND THE WEB
2. Can local food feed big cities? Yes, if we cut down on meat.