Is it just me, or is life moving at hyper speed lately?
It's less than a week to Christmas? How is that even possible?!
I mean, I'm ready - I've got all of my shopping done, cookies made, and ingredients ordered for Christmas dinner. But I'm not ready psychologically.
Last week I went for a walk on my lunch hour to tie up some loose ends and realized I had forgotten my annual Christmas shopping tradition of buying myself a very nice box of chocolates. That oversight has now been remedied, and during the evenings when everyone else is asleep, I treat myself to one or two. Highly recommend getting in on this tradition yourself.
My friend Alison and I got together for our annual Love Actually viewing and Nicky Ball rolling evening. It is sticky work, but I love that Alison has embraced this family recipe of mine as a tradition of her own - to the point that she had her husband schlep a couple of boxes of Nilla Wafers back from a business trip to the US so we could get the recipe right.
FYI, this recipe is not on the blog and never will be, but every year a few readers reach out to me for the Nicky Ball recipe and if you want it I'm happy to send it to you. They're atrocious, really, made with this bizarre mixture of crushed Nilla Wafers and marzipan and sour cream and melted chocolate chips and butter and powdered sugar and rum and orange juice, but the final product is so damn good and it just isn't Christmas without them.
I recently read Lindy West's awesome book Shit, Actually which was inspired by this scathing review of Love Actually she wrote for Jezebel. I listened to the book on Audible, and laughed so hard so many times. The chapter where she pokes plot holes in Harry Potter had me in stitches.
I love Love Actually and will watch it every year until the end of time, but man, she has some good points. Why are they recording a Christmas single 5 weeks before Christmas? Why is the cleaning lady who Jamie falls in love with - along with her family and an entire restaurant full of people - speaking only Portuguese, but this storyline takes place in France? Never mind the fact that the entire movie full of people seem to have aligned on the fact that Natalie is grossly fat?!
Anyways. I still love it, even if it is deeply flawed.
After 11 years of battling with the Swedish winter light, I finally took the plunge and bought an artificial light setup for food photography. I tried it out last weekend for the first time, and although I still have a lot to learn, I'm pretty happy with how the photos turned out.
In December the sun sets at 2pm and comes up at around 9am and the five hours of "daylight" we get in between are just kinda dim. I always spend hours trying to edit the blue winter light out of photos, that is if it was even bright enough out to take them in the first place.
I've been using the same entry-level DSLR camera for the past 10 years, so I also treated myself to a new camera that I got a great deal on during Black Friday sales. The new camera + new light setup has a huge learning curve, but I'm excited to dig deeper into both of these things.
This also means that I can take photos at any time of day, not just on weekend mornings, which builds a lot more flexibility into my blogging work. Hopefully this means better work-life-blog balance next year? Time will tell.
ON HEY NUTRITION LADY THIS WEEK
Air Fryer Tempeh! Tempeh lovers will go crazy for this quick and easy method for perfectly crisp tempeh cubes or strips.
This Coconut Banana Bread Granola is one of my favourite ways to use up brown bananas. It's naturally sweetened and completely vegan, and my kids love it!
These Vegan Gingerbread Cookies are a riff on my family's classic recipe - and the first recipe I shot using my new lights!
And lastly, 15 Healthy Vegetable Side Dishes for all your upcoming holiday dinners.
WHAT’S TRENDING ON HNL
1. 10-Minute Vegetable Ramen Noodles. Mmmhmm.
2. Turmeric Latte Mix. This is perfect for quick and easy homemade gifts.
3. Amazing Vegan Gravy. So good with your holiday dinners.
4. Black Bean and Quinoa Freezer Burritos. A HNL classic!
5. Cinnamon Roasted Apples. Still going strong!
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Maiara left the following comment and 5-star review on our Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup recipe:
My husband and I usually make soup on Sunday nights, but we were looking to diversify things a bit. This recipe is really easy to follow, has simple ingredients but makes for such a tasty soup! We made it in the stove top and didn’t even need to put it in the blender after. Just the right amount of ginger also! It is definitely a keeper.
Sounds like a perfect Sunday night meal, Maiara!
THIS WEEK’S MENU
This week is a combination of eating down the fridge because we're going away, and prepping for holiday dinners. Not a typical food week by any stretch.
HERE’S WHAT’S ON THE MENU THIS WEEK:
Tuesday - Whatever leftovers need eating!
Wednesday - Probably big salads to balance out all the cookies we're eating.
Thursday - Cheese fondue / snack dinner.
Friday - We're doing our main dinner on Christmas Eve this year!
Saturday - Christmas dinner leftovers.
Sunday - Something Spanish!