14 December 2014

Seven Quick Takes: A Feast-Filled Week

Late, late, I know. Lazy blogger, or actually using Little Bear's naps productively this week? Maybe a little of both.

I have two freelance projects going right now, one that has to be sent in by Sunday night and one with a fuzzier free-floating deadline that I can't make any progress on until other people finish and give me their pieces of the puzzle, so I'm trying to work on the first while being hazily aware that time is passing on the second. And encountering writers block like crazy, because we're halfway through Advent and pretty much nothing is done around the house... nothing wrapped, no cookies or candy started; I finally finished Christmas cards last night. And for some unfathomable reason, the fireplace can burn for hours without raising the temperature more than a degree or two, so I'm spending way too much time babysitting the fire. At least my fruitcake is done! I borrowed my 13-year-old sister for the morning on Tuesday, and in between doing her schoolwork she kept Little Bear's fingers out of the mixer so I could turn these out:

Mmm. No red 40 lake in here; none of us like the sticky-sweet colorful candied fruits, so this year's fruitcake is full of flame raisins, golden raisins, currants, apricots, and pineapple!

I heard about Emily Oster's book Expecting Better when it first came out last summer, and remember telling myself, "That sounds great. I'm definitely going to look for it next time I'm pregnant." And then of course I forgot, and it's only recently reoccurred to me as I'm finally beginning to feel like eating food again. Post-Christmas-shopping December wasn't the best time to remember... Maybe I can look into it after we get a ways into the new year and have recovered from Christmas. I love the idea, though, that Oster has actually read the scientific studies and parsed out what they really say about what is and isn't safe during pregnancy, allowing women to make their own decisions based on facts instead of leaving them at the mercy of Dr. Google and sweeping generalizations and all of the wildly conflicting advice you get from old wives' tales and well-intentioned strangers. I'm looking forward to eventually reading through her data.

And now it's Sunday afternoon... oops. I'll try to finish these up quickly while Little Bear naps.

I finished and submitted that freelance project yesterday—hooray! I hate having writing projects come down to the last minute.

We've reached the time of year when wars about Santa, the "you're ruining their childhood" moms vs the "you're lying to your kids" moms, spring up all over the internet. I'm not about to add to it, because I honestly think that both camps are a little bit silly... But "what are we going to do about Santa?" is a legitimate question that parents (particularly those whose kids are just becoming old enough for it to matter) have to figure out. I highly recommend Cam's recent post on The Santa Debate: Delving into the Whys. We're handling Santa pretty much the same way they are; it makes a lot of sense to Matt and I. But like Cam says, it's completely up to the parents of each individual family how they want to do Santa. Matt and I both were told that Santa was real as little kids, and I certainly don't think that other parents are doing something wrong if they choose to do that with their kids!

Matt's out at the rifle range with my dad and brother this afternoon, taking advantage of our beautiful sunny almost-30-degree weather. It's supposed to slide back into the mid-20s, low-20s, teens as the week goes on, so I'm so glad that he's getting out today! I'm definitely setting out Little Bear's snowpants for when I bring him over to Grandma's house after his nap, so that he can get some good running around outside time as well.

I think I originally intended to talk more about all of the feast days crammed into the past week, considering the title I gave this post, so let's run through those quick. What a week! The Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States (and of our parish), on Monday; St Juan Diego on Tuesday; Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and one of the Marian titles we have a particular devotion to, on Friday; St Lucy yesterday; and today is Gaudete Sunday!

Monday we had a white cake with blueberries scattered throughout—the Marian colors seemed appropriate, and it was a recipe Matt had been asking for. Mexican food on both Tuesday and Friday, along with lots of stories about OL Guadalupe. And Little Bear has been so, so eager to light the pink candle ever since I set up our Advent wreath, so today he was very excited: we talked about the pink candle, and hope and joy and rejoicing, and when he saw that Mama was wearing pink today he wanted to too. We sat right up front at Mass, and he could see that the pink candle on the parish's Advent wreath was lit; he couldn't sit still when we got home until we lit our pink candle, too.

I didn't forget about St Lucy, but her feast day gets its own take, because:

I made St Lucy buns for the first time! They were a lot easier than I'd thought they would be, and we've all been enjoying them! I used this recipe from Simply Recipes, which I'm not going to copy out here because she has a bunch of really helpful step-by-step photos interspersed with her recipe. Yes, saffron is awfully expensive, which is one reason I've never made these before... But all of the Spice Island spices have been 50-60% off here recently, so I was finally able to justify it. :-) I made slightly shorter snakes than the recipe says to, so we wound up with 18 instead of 12. Because they were smaller, I rotated the pans after 4 minutes and checked them for doneness at 8; I think I let both pans go about one minute longer, but I'm not quite sure and our oven has been finicky lately, so check them a little bit earlier than you think you have to.

Have a lovely, not too stressful, third week of Advent! Join the fun at This Ain't The Lyceum.

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