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Cultivate Simple 50: Simple Holidays

October 21st, 2013

In this episode we discuss ways to make your holiday celebrations simpler and more enjoyable.

Around the Run

Brian got new welder, well a used one. Welding was one of his five picks in our episode about Five Things we wanted to learn to do. If you haven’t listened to that episode, check out Cultivate Simple 31: Five Things

I made this quilt for my dad made of old jeans, old flannel sheets and his boy scout patches. I also made my nephew a super hero cape, see this post to see his super awesome reversible cape.
dads christmas quilt 1
dads christmas quilt 2
dads christmas quilt 3

Books of the Week

Brian’s Picks

Susy’s Picks

What’s the best simple holiday celebration you’ve been a part of? Have you received a meaning, simple gift that you loved?

43 Comments to “Cultivate Simple 50: Simple Holidays”
  1. Lemongrass on October 21, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Twenty five years ago I was invited to a thanksgiving dinner by a woman, I meet on the Long Island Railroad, NY. After months we became friends. I was told to bring a loaf of homemade bread. When I got there she had a huge pot of split-pea soup with lots of garlic and fresh herbs simmering on the stove. A few people were sitting at the kitchen table talking. That was thanksgiving dinner. The loaf of bread was place on the kitchen counter with lots of different kinds of homemade breads and was told to help myself to a bowl of soup, some bread and a sit at the kitchen table………..she had a big kitchen. With no introducton we talked about ourselves, the close people in our lives and the simple, little things we enjoyed doing. During the course of the enjoying the soup and bread and talking we got to meet each other. It was an experience that changed my way of celebrating holidays. By then I was never a person who like the way holidays were celebrated and was looking for a change. And I got one. Three years later I met the guy I am married to. For more than 15 years we stay at home for every holday. I make a pot of bean soup, some homemade herb bread and let the day glently go by. Being vegans not much people eat the way we eat, and we did not want to go other peoples house. I have cherrished and will continue to cherish those simple holiday celebrations.

    Reply to Lemongrass's comment

    • Joan on October 21, 2013 at 8:02 am

      I love this! What a lovely and simple way to spend the holiday without the hassle.

      Reply to Joan's comment

    • amy on October 21, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Lovely!

      Reply to amy's comment

  2. Annie on October 21, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Ever since I started teaching welding I have always said every woman should learn to weld. It goes a long way towards abolishing the insecurities many woman feel about themselves. Not that you are insecure Susie, but you’ll see what I mean. I expect to see photos you you in a hood and gloves. ;)
    Annie´s last post ..Good Friday

    Reply to Annie's comment

  3. DebbieB on October 21, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I’ll never get up to Maine to visit, but the podcast is the next best thing, because it’s like sitting in the living room with coffee and good friends, chatting about what’s going on and what’s important and the little things too. You just can’t hear MY side of the conversation as I talk back! :)

    Our extended family does get together on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day for big meals, but we reserve Christmas Eve for ourselves, with peaceful Christmas music and cocoa and exchanging small gifts.

    Great cape – love the look on Orin’s face in the mirror! We paid off all our consumer debt years ago, and now we have only one credit card that we use for gas and groceries and pay off at the end of each month. Being nearly debt-free (we still have a mortgage, but it’s near its end) we refuse to dig that hole again, so we have no desire to “spend more than we’ve got, why not” for holiday gifts. I’m a weaver, so I like to weave gifts for family. I make scarves, dishtowels, placemats, table runners, and napkins – and I try to use colors that the family members love. I enjoy making things for them, and they appreciate getting a gift that I poured my love and skill and time into, rather than just grabbing whatever’s on sale at a “big box” store during the frantic shopping season.

    The only gifts we purchase are for the kids in the family. My children are grown, so I’m talking about the little nieces and nephews. I’m THAT aunt who gives books instead of toys. :) My husband and I usually have some sort of bigger purchases on our wish lists, so Christmas is the time that we allow ourselves to splurge and get that piece of hobby equipment (me!) or new technology (him!) we’ve been wanting.

    And speaking of books, I’m glad to have figured out the mystery of the missing Books of the Week! In case anyone else doesn’t see the Books, make sure that if you’re running an ad blocker on your browser, you check the permissions for Chiot’s Run’s page. My ad blocker was blocking the links for the books. I made sure it doesn’t block anything on the Chiot’s Run page, and now I can see them… and browse!
    DebbieB´s last post ..My Happy Place

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

  4. amy on October 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    The way you deal with your holiday really resonated with me….because we do it about the same way. We have hurt some feelings initially(the first year is always the hardest:) but we have remained stalwart in our decision to not travel to other’s homes on Christmas eve or day….nor do we have people in our home on those days…..only us and our children. Thanksgiving is held in my home as I am the main cook on both sides. This suits me…..and everyone else. Our Christmas festivities begin with advent and carry on into January…..We do not get our live Christmas tree until nearly Christmas eve….I have a playlist on my ipod that has hundreds of Christmas songs that I start playing the day after Thanksgiving right into January as well. On Christmas day we broke with my families main tradition of a HUGE meal with all of the trimmings….to my husband’s favorite…a homemade lasagna and bread…I thought this blasphemy initially until I realized how NOT exhausted I was after the meal was over…lol…..We then go to the theatre later in the day and see a film…..We love this! Again I thought this blasphemy until I realized how very relaxing. This year the second part of the HOBBIT(so excited:) It took a few years to realize I could make my own new traditions that suited “us”….and not what had always been. There is more quiet….no bustle…..just a gentle simplicity….that I need. As for gifts to others… most all of mine are handmade…..painted….hooked….sculpted….etc….I can’t do shopping malls….

    As for one of my most meaningful gifts…I am a walker…..and last year my husband blessed me with a walking stick from a tree that used to reside near a cabin he had built…. We lived there when we first married……He cut the tree for the stick ages ago……and has been working on it for years…… He carved and sanded it to perfection….It is beautiful……He gets me…..that is the best gift!

    Reply to amy's comment

    • Lemongrass on October 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Lovely holiday celebration. My husband uses a gauva stick when we take walks……….and a few times on the bus. Some people have nice things to say others look in disgust. Yesterday a young guy on the block offered him a stick from a tree growing in his yard. One other person asked him if he is Moses, he replied ‘no, think Gandhi’
      Having a simple holiday dinner allows us to spend more time with ourselves with as little work as possible.

      Reply to Lemongrass's comment

    • Susy on October 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      What a great gift, I love gifts with such deep meaning like this!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Katherine on October 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Do you have a photo of the quilt? I’d love to see it. My son is an avid Boy Scout and I’m never sure what to do with all the patches he has collected. I’m a quilter as well, so that really struck a chord in me.

    Reply to Katherine's comment

    • Susy on October 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      Yes, I added it, sorry, though I did last night – it was late, I was tired.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Mary Schier on October 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    We have two fun, simple traditions. A good friend of mine organizes caroling at a nursing home/senior housing project near her home, and about 30 people attend. We’re called “The Neighborhood Singers,” and we have done it so many years in a row that the residents actually look forward to our (very unprofessional) singing. Afterwards, there’s a small potluck. It’s great fun and is a chance to connect with people of all ages.

    Our family has a pretty simple Christmas. We attend church Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning I make popovers for breakfast. Just like the caramel rolls, people really look forward to those popovers.

    Great ideas in this podcast!
    Mary Schier´s last post ..Bees, Apples and My Bumper Crop

    Reply to Mary Schier's comment

    • Susy on October 27, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      I always loved caroling as a kid, our church always loaded up and drove around town to all the elderly members that couldn’t make it to church very often.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Misti on October 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    When my husband and I lived in Florida we often did not get home for holidays, or usually it was one or the other main holiday. Eventually we started a semi-tradition of camping on Thanksgiving and have mostly been able to keep that up with a few minor changes. My family is not split up, though growing up we did do the different grandparent’s house thing, but my husband’s is so there’s three separate family get together’s at the holidays. And when/if we have kids we’ll have to revamp our holiday schedule I’m sure.

    Several years ago a group of my college friends and I kept up a handmade holiday exchange/Secret Santa for awhile. Now that most of them have kids we’ve put it on hold, but I was thinking about dredging it back up this year. We drew names and then either made something or bought it from a local/Etsy type shop.
    Misti´s last post ..Echinacea purpurea | Texas Native Plant Week

    Reply to Misti's comment

  8. Susan Ingle on October 21, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    no picture of the quilt? would love to see it.

    Reply to Susan Ingle's comment

    • Susy on October 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Oh yes, I exported them and somehow forgot to add them to the post. I added them now for you to see.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • DebbieB on October 21, 2013 at 9:57 pm

        Oh, I see it now – that’s really special, Susy.
        DebbieB´s last post ..HAT!

        to DebbieB's comment

  9. Pia on October 22, 2013 at 6:29 am

    Thank you so much for answering my question on your show :) it tickled me pink. I’ve looked into wordpress, but for now I think I’ll stay at blogger since I do not speak cms.

    For me christmas is about the two big Fs: faith, family and food. Oh the food. The cakes and cookies and quiet time at home inside watching the snow fall and having fun together.
    Pia´s last post ..A trip to the pond

    Reply to Pia's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on October 22, 2013 at 6:58 am

      Pia, If you sign up for a WordPress.com account, you can import your posts and comments in a WordPress site with little hassle. They have a tool for doing so. Just FYI.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • DebbieB on October 22, 2013 at 8:28 am

        I have a Blogspot blog, and I signed up for WordPress years ago but found it daunting to set up. After listening to this week’s podcast, I went back to my WordPress account and tried to set it up again, but discovered that my “free” blog would have ads unless I paid $30/year to remove them – which feels a little like blackmail. (Maybe it’s because instead of saying “free with ads, $30/year with no ads”, it’s “free – but we put ads and make you pay $30 to remove them!” …I imagine a bully standing there with a baseball bat!) $99/year would give me that function plus more (custom web address, larger storage), but frankly blogging isn’t important enough to me to pay such a large fee every year. I’ll stick with my clunky Blogspot blog, I suppose.
        DebbieB´s last post ..HAT!

        to DebbieB's comment

      • Susy on October 22, 2013 at 9:00 am

        Blogging can be a pricey hobby, my hosting is about $120/month for the blog and $40/month for the podcast – exactly why we ask for donations to help cover the cost so we don’t have to have ads!

        to Susy's comment

      • Mr. Chiots on October 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        Of course those prices reflect the fact that this blog is really popular :). Luckily many good people see the value in it and support it!

        to Mr. Chiots's comment

  10. kathi Cook on October 22, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Love that quilt you made for your Dad!! In the past I have made many gifts, but not in the past few years. I would like to this year though. thanks for the inspiration.

    Reply to kathi Cook's comment

  11. Deborah J Auen on October 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I just love,love,love the quilt.I remember when you first posted those capes,so fun! One of my other favorite posts of yours was those simple Christmas cookies you make.I really enjoy following you.Thank you

    Reply to Deborah J Auen's comment

  12. Erika on October 22, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Love the quilt my son is an eagle scout and in the OA when he gets older that would be a great idea for him. He just turned 17 yesterday and starts college in Jan. Time flys! I am sure your dad has fond memories of his scouting.

    Erika
    Erika´s last post ..Warmth

    Reply to Erika's comment

  13. DebbieB on October 22, 2013 at 9:26 am

    Yikes, Susy – that’s crazy expensive! C’mon, everyone – toss in a little value for value!
    DebbieB´s last post ..HAT!

    Reply to DebbieB's comment

    • Susy on October 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Yeah it is, I have a good deal of blog traffic so I have to have a pretty robust hosting plan. I actually just had to upgrade to a dedicated server. Thankfully the Amazon affiliates helps cover some of it and the monthly subscribers help as well, though I’m still always in the red each month. We certainly appreciate everyone who helps out with the expenses.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • DebbieB on October 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm

        Well, I’m so glad you put forth the effort, creativity, and expense – your blog (and podcast) is a great combination of education, entertainment (ducklings!!), resources, and community – in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Long may you run!
        DebbieB´s last post ..HAT!

        to DebbieB's comment

  14. HH on October 22, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I just went to rabbit butchering and tanning class last Sunday!!
    Got to do all the process of tanning the hide and learned a lot. We used a pellet gun to dispatch the rabbit. Let me know if you are interested and I can post or email the tanning process to you.
    I hope you have the skin inside out in the freezer.

    Reply to HH's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on October 22, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Yes please!

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • HH on October 23, 2013 at 2:08 pm

        First of all, Congratulations on the turkey!!
        Here’s the link for tanning rabbit hides. It also talks about sewing the pelts. http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/how-to-tan-rabbit-hides.aspx?PageId=3#axzz2iZHgbV1K We use the allum method.
        Here’s a few things that isn’t on the article.
        Squeezing out excess water: We put the pelt on a big towel that is folded up and lightly wring it so that the towel can soak up most of the water.
        Fleshing : you want to carefully peel it so you can peel it off in one layer instead of going back back and having to pick off the smaller pieces.
        Drying and working the leather: You want to work the leather when it is barely damp and by the time you are finished it should be dry. My instructor’s advice is to pick a sunny and sit out in the sun and work the leather. Its a process and can a whole day of working it. When you stretch the leather you can see the are you are stretching turning white. That is the protein breaking up. You have to pull in all different direction and be careful at the thinner sections as you might tear the leather
        The “doneness” method of testing the leather is “no good” according to my instructor. If you follow the recipe, it will be done.

        If you do raise meat rabbit, bear in mind that when the rabbit is ready to be eaten, the skin has not reach “fashion grade” which means its too thin and weak to be made into anything and the fur will shed as opposed to a mature rabbit. But as a sewer I think I can find ways to make sure the seams are stable by layering some other material over it.

        Have fun with the process (I sure did) and hope that you would sure the process and the end product.

        HH

        P.S I am from California the San Francisco Bay area. And I love my citrus and avocados :)

        to HH's comment

      • HH on October 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm

        Here are two traditional rabbit recipes
        Ingredients:

        For the rabbit:

        1 3- 3 ¾ pound rabbit, cut into 6-8 pieces
        1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
        1 ½ heads of garlic
        3-4 bay leaves
        salt to taste
        2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

        For the adobo:

        8 guajillo chiles, seeded and deveined
        8 ancho chiles, seeded and deveined
        2 teaspoons black peppercorns
        2 teaspoons whole allspice
        2 teaspoons cumin seeds
        1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano leaves
        8 large garlic cloves, peeled
        1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered

        Preparation:

        Place the rabbit, onion, 1 head of garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise, and the bay leaves in a stockpot with water to cover and salt to taste. Cook until tender, about 1 ½ hours, remove the rabbit pieces from the pot and reserve the stock.

        Blot the rabbit pieces dry with paper towels, place them in a non-reactive bowl with the vinegar, the other ½ head of garlic, peeled and crushed, and ½ teaspoon of salt. The vinegar, crushed garlic and salt will form a paste that coats the rabbit pieces. Set the rabbit aside to marinate in the paste for 20-30 minutes while the adobo sauce is being prepared.

        Toast the chiles on a dry comal, griddle or pan just until they begin to give off their fragrance. Do not allow them to burn or char. Soak the dried chiles in hot water until softened. Place the chiles and remaining adobo ingredients in a blender with enough of the chile soaking water to move the blades, and puree. Strain the puree through a food mill or mesh strainer.

        Place the adobo and 2 cups of the reserved rabbit stock in a large pot and cook for 15-20 minutes. Brown the rabbit pieces in vegetable oil and add them to the adobo sauce. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes to make a fairly thick sauce.

        Serve with white rice and corn tortillas. Either zucchini or chayote is a good vegetable with this. Serves 6.

        Lapin a la moutarde

        Ingredients:

        1 farm-raised or wild rabbit, cut into serving pieces, including the head if possible
        1/2 c. smooth Dijon mustard (moutarde forte)
        1/2 c. old-fashioned grainy Dijon mustard (moutarde à l’ancienne)
        Kosher or flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper
        1/2 c. dry white wine, such as Chablis
        1 c. crème fraîche
        2 T. snipped fresh chives

        1 T. olive oil
        1 onion, chopped
        1 leek, sliced
        1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
        2 leafy stalks celery, sliced
        Bouquet garni of 6 parsley sprigs, 1 bay leaf, and 6 leafy thyme sprigs
        6 peppercorns

        Optional: A dozen or more freshly pulled white onions 1-2 inches in diameter, peeled but left whole, cooked with water to cover, 1 T. butter, and 1 1/2 t. sugar until the water is evaporated and the onions starting to caramelize.

        Make the stock: In a heavy dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat, and brown the parts of the rabbit that have very little meat (the front of the rib cage) as well as the head if available. (Reserve the saddle, cut in 3 pieces, the thighs, and the forelegs for the dish.) When the rabbit pieces are browned on all sides, add the vegetables (except the bouquet garni), and brown lightly, stirring, for 5-10 minutes. Add the bouquet and water to cover. Bring to a boil and skim. Turn the heat to low and partially cover the pot. Simmer 3-4 hours. Strain, pressing down on the solids and discarding them. Return the stock to the dutch oven or medium saucepan if it is already somewhat reduced, place over medium heat, and reduce by 2/3. Pour into a small saucepan and continue reducing until 1/3 cup remains. Reserve.

        Meanwhile, three hours before serving, combine the two mustards with a generous pinch of salt and grindings of black pepper. Smear the remaining rabbit pieces with the mustard, thoroughly covering them, and arranging them in a single layer in a gratin or baking dish. Set aside in a cool place for 2-3 hours.

        50 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rabbit, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Open the oven and pour the wine and the reserved reduced rabbit stock over the rabbit, then bake 20 minutes more. Remove the dish from the oven and drizzle the crème fraîche over the rabbit. Return to the oven for 5 minutes more. If using the onions, gently strew them over the dish. Sprinkle with the snipped chives. Serve with homemade pappardelle noodles or simple steamed potatoes. Accompany with a top-quality chablis or better yet, a Chassagne-Montrachet.

        Note: I certainly didn’t invent this most classic dish of Burgundy farmhouse cooking, but I can remind you just how sublime it is when correctly made. Its success depends on using the freshest mustard possible, and on not overcooking the rabbit. It is more than worth it to buy new jars of mustard to do honor to this dish. (When I plan to make it, I tote my washed, clean mustard jars to the Maille store in the Place de Madeleine and get them filled fresh from the mustard pumps. But opening new jars of Maille mustards just before cooking is the next best thing.) Rabbit and Dijon mustard is one of those marriages made in heaven. try it! You can use thoroughly defrosted frozen rabbit if fresh is unavailable.

        to HH's comment

      • Susy on October 23, 2013 at 9:46 pm

        Nice, we’ll definitely be trying these when we have some rabbits. I love mustard, so I’m thinking I’ll LOVE the second recipe.

        to Susy's comment

  15. HH on October 22, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Oh the tail makes for a great cat toy.

    Reply to HH's comment

  16. Mike on October 22, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Some of your value talk had me thinking in the car while I drove to work this morning. Sometimes you need to entice people to “buy in” by offering something in return for their money – it’s a psychological thing. Personally, I DO see the value in what you both are doing already but the majority of people will need more convincing simply because they are used to getting a lot for free online.

    With that said, here are my ideas to possibly get donations flowing in more frequently:

    – Create a “Plus” or premium section on your site that offers a higher bit-rate podcast feed for a small regular monthly fee. For example, the free feed is 128 Kb/s while the plus feed is 320 Kb/s for $10/month. You could also post exclusive or premium blog entries that only members can access. This is not really much additional work for you since you’re already blogging and you’ll just have to transcode the podcast file if your hosting provider allows it. Otherwise you’ll just have to upload two separate files. Obviously there will be some work involved in getting this set up but the payoff might be worth it if you think the podcast is a long-term venture.

    – Similar to SomaFM.com you could offer Chiot’s Run or Cultivate Simple branded merch in exchange for a donation. For example, a $50 donation could get somebody a bag of seeds or something similar with your logo on the bag. This is a win-win offering since it won’t cost you much for the materials and postage and people still feel like they are getting something for their money while supporting you. Unfortunately it means more work for you to package and mail the stuff but hopefully it would be manageable and worth the additional money to pay for hosting, gardening equipment, etc.

    – You could accept bitcoins and Flattr on your blog/podcast pages. I think a whole bitcoin is worth around $200 these days. And people can Flattr individual posts which can add up quick.

    – Offer other methods to donate money. Personally I do not like Paypal at all. You can google reasons to hate Paypal…there’s no shortage of reasons. One method could be Dwolla – any transactions under $10 are free for you. Amazon WebPay is another one.

    Anyway, I love your blog and podcast. I look forward to listening to it on my commute from Lewiston to Portland, Maine each day. :-)

    Keep up the great work and I hope everything works out for you in the long run!

    Reply to Mike's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on October 27, 2013 at 8:40 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions Mike. You have some good suggestions and a couple that we are actually looking into.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

      • Mike on October 27, 2013 at 9:38 pm

        That’s awesome! I’m curious to see which ones you implement.

        to Mike's comment

  17. Wendy on October 23, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Our Christmas gift giving has never been over the top, but I’ve always wanted to trim things back even more, and this is finally the year we’re doing it!!! A couple of years ago, I heard about this gift-giving idea for kids: “something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read”. Some people use this as the rule for parents giving to kids and others (as we are going to do) include grandparents, etc. So this year, we’re starting a rotation of the four categories between us, one set of grandparents, and two sets of aunts/uncles. All told our kids will be getting just five gifts (which still seems like a lot) (as parents, we decided to give two gifts–our category plus a wildcard). On my husband’s side of the family, the adults don’t exchange gifts and on my side, we draw names for a gift exchange. I’m really looking forward to a more relaxed holiday season this year.

    I enjoyed all of the great ideas on the podcast, and the ones shared here in the comments, too. Thanks!
    Wendy´s last post ..csa week 20

    Reply to Wendy's comment

  18. Adriana on October 24, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I’ve wanted to comment all week, but haven’t been able to come up with anything besides: “me too”! Everything you said about celebrating the holidays is exactly the way we feel. My husband’s side of the family is full of potters, blacksmiths, glass blowers, woodworkers, welders, homesteaders, etc. so we always have get and give handmade gifts. My side of the family, on the other hand, it’s more of a feeding frenzy of store bought gifts. my husband and I have stepped back from that in recent years and started giving homemade goods to them too. We simple can’t afford to keep up with them. It’s been a nice change. Like your cinnamon rolls, it’s become expected that we bring Stollen, cookies, maple syrup, jams and pickles. Thanks for another great episode!

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  19. Reid on October 30, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    For Thanksgiving morning, we eat corn meal mush. Has anyone else experienced this joy? We top it with homemade maple syrup, choke cherry jam, or homemade apple sauce.

    Reply to Reid's comment

    • Susy on October 30, 2013 at 12:23 pm

      MMMM, I love fried mush. My dad and I are the only ones in the family that like it, covered in syrup – so good!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Lorna on November 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I really enjoyed your podcast–I finally got around to listening while doing my ‘getting ready for winter’ cleaning. We celebrate simple at the holidays–not too many gifts, not too many sweets and not too many gatherings. My children are still young, but they’ve grown up knowing that Santa only brings one or two gifts, and Mom and Dad are always good for the things you ‘need’ and ‘read.’ Our holiday meal is a bit unusual–when we lived in the Middle East, cooking a turkey (hard to find and expensive) or a ham (haram, and therefore very expensive) were out of the question. So we started making a traditional Canadian meat pie, which my husband loves, and a roasted vegetable pie which is the ultimate comfort food for me. So easy! And special too. We listen to music and drink cocoa with marshmallows and build a snow-family (if there’s enough snow). Mostly, we just love being with each other. The holidays can be so frenetic, so we consciously make the effort to keep them simple and quiet. I’d never want to go back to jam-packed holidays. But then, I’m a bit of an introvert :)

    Reply to Lorna's comment

  21. angie h on November 23, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    The moment that stands out in my mind thinking about this right now was a few years ago, an impromptu celebration for my grandma. My grandma’s had limited mobility for a long time. She was living with my mom and had been sick at the time too. My uncle wanted to take her to the local high school’s Christmas choir concert but she just couldn’t go due to her health and the cold.

    My uncle is a school bus driver and often drives the trips for the various teams and groups. One evening my mom called me, come quick, your uncle is going to surprise grandma. I grabbed my video camera and got down there. When my uncle drove the choir to their last show and was telling the director about my grandma and how she couldn’t attend….so they brought the show to her. My grandma is so bent over when she walks with a walker, the whole choir snuck right past her as they filed into the living room-all in their tuxes and gowns. She finally made it into the living room where we had called her out to and was completely surprised as the kids began to sing just for her. It was beautiful. We were touched, but those kids were touched and sincerely thanked us for letting them come sing.

    Reply to angie h's comment

  22. Kim on June 24, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    Listening to this in 2017. We have a nightmare extended family. One year the “entry fee” to the get-together was each person bringing a $25 gift card. For our family, it would have cost us $125……………..and we could.not. afford. it. When I told them it was a problem. it caused a huge blow up……………..and we were branded as unloving people. What a price to pay for being honest. But…………………the next years everything changed to “whatever” anyone wanted to do. The scars are there…….but it was worth it………………..OUCH!!!!!!
    Thank goodness for common sense people like you guys. Now, you know why we enjoy your podcast so much!

    Reply to Kim's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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Quote of the Day: Eleanor Roosevelt

"We walked tonight up to the top of the hill back of my cottage and saw the sun go down...Then,...

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