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the things we do to live a better life.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Novruz Preparations – Part 1

It’s that time of year again.  Actually, it’s a little after that time of year, but hey, we were busy!  It’s Novruz!!  Novruz is my second favorite holiday of the year (Christmas is just slightly better).   Jesse and I first learned about and celebrated Novruz while we were in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan.  It celebrates the new year that begins on the first day of spring.  You can read more about it here.  Alma and I spent about an hour today working on our first preparations for our 3rd annual Novruz party.

Alma helping me make chocolate syrup, Novruz eggs and empty the dishwasher.

To keep up with my goal of using my time in the kitchen wisely, while the eggs were cooking, I also made a batch of chocolate syrup and worked on cleaning up some of our dishes.

Women in Azerbaijan work very hard to provide an amazing feast for their families.  These feasts might happen on each Tuesday before the equinox and an ever bigger feast on the equinox.  Like I said, Azerbaijani women work very hard.  I started my prep by hard boiling 10 eggs and dying them.  Not too hard for the first round of prep.

I love that eggs are part of this Islamic celebration.  It really reminds me how truly connected and similar Islam is to Christianity.  If only everyone could see it that way.  Like Easter eggs, Novruz are dyed various colors.

While Easter eggs are hidden and found, Novruz eggs are part of a different game.  Each person picks an egg, then people go around the table trying to break each others’ eggs by tapping them together.  The person who has the unbroken egg in the end is the winner!

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An experiment with beans

Last week I tried my hand at making an easy cassoulet.  I didn’t like how it turned out, so I’m not sharing the recipe quite yet.  I might try to tweak it so it’s more to my taste, then again, maybe I won’t.  I did get to use some of the beans I prepared last Monday.  I also got to use some of the carrots that are still in my garden from last summer.

Unfortunately, I had to dig them out as they were covered in snow.

I had my trusty assistant, again!  This is kind of blurry, but she was so cute and happy I had to include her!

The cassoulet looked pretty and tasty, but it was lacking something.  The flavors weren’t very strong, so I might try a spicier sausage or really amp up the herbs next time.

It’s always fun to try new recipes, even when they don’t turn out!  It just makes me want to figure out what went wrong and try again!

Happy Spring?

We woke up yesterday to about 5 inches of fresh snow.  Now, we don’t always get snow in Oregon, but when we do it’s usually random and confusing.  It kept snowing all morning and I think we ended up with about 8 inches.  This was the second day of Spring.

We got up early and wanted to take Alma on a walk.  Both Jesse and I love the snow and wanted to share the magic with our little Alma.  We tried the stroller, but it got snow-bound.  I strapped on the Ergo and we went out for a walk.  It turned out it was deeper and harder to walk in than we anticipated.  We only made it as far as the mailbox, but that’s okay.  Alma loved looking around at all the snowy trees and loved the snowflakes that were still dumping on us.

Later, Alma and I went out to the back yard to check on our trees and bushes.  Luckily we didn’t lose any of our trees, but we did lose one of my favorite bushes.  Alma wanted to do a snow angel to cheer me up!

Cooking Day With Alma

Last week I went to a talk given by Jami from An Oregon Cottage and was inspired.  She talked about living frugally and cooking from scratch.  A couple years ago I baked all our bread for a year, I have made lots of things from scratch over the years, we were semi-vegetarian for about a year.  Most of that flew out the window when I got pregnant last year.  All of it was out the window when Alma was born in January.

So, here I am, giving it all another go!  With a 2 1/2 month old… wish me luck!

Today I followed Jami’s advice and tried to multi-task in the kitchen.  Alma was my sidekick for most of the process and we were able to make granola, bread, salad dressing, peanut butter bites and beans to freeze and use this week.

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I made all of this in less than two hours!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?

Alma spent some of the time watching me from her bouncy seat.

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She was also amazing enough to take a small nap in her crib.  We are working hard on getting her to nap in her crib.  She’s getting better and better every day!

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We finished up with her in the Ergo.

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Not bad for my first attempt at this kind of thing with a new baby!  I’m excited to do more!

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