Hanukkah Three Ways

As a kid, Hanukkah was mostly about the presents. I vividly remember getting home from school and anxiously awaiting sundown so that we could light the candles and my mom could unveil the present for the night. It didn’t matter if it was something small or something big; it was just fun to know that for eight straight nights, there was a treat waiting for me. My mom was quite skillful in hiding the presents in the house, because I never found them ahead of time (not that I actively searched – I liked the idea of a surprise). And we often had large family gatherings with cousins on both sides of the family, in which I eagerly waited for a present with my name on it to emerge from the mountain of gifts for all the people in attendance. 

As an adult, it’s much more a time to celebrate with friends or family when we can. Most importantly, I just try to light the candles as many nights as my schedule allows. This year, with me in San Francisco, my mom and Michael in LA and my sister in Chicago, we decided that we’d take selfies of us lighting the candles and sending them to each other each night. In the past, we’ve FaceTimed a joint candle lighting or done it over the phone. This was clearly the year of the selfie, and we each captured a pic on every single night except for the night eight. (Not sure how it ended up that we all dropped the ball that night. As for me, I was traveling back to SF.)

Night 6: The Selfie

Night 6: The Selfie

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Orange County Overload

I’m not alone when I remark that December has been a busy month, and I really do hate falling behind on the blog. In talking to a friend of my sister’s recently about the blog (among other things), I mentioned that the blog is just as much for me as it is for others. It’s my place to document, to reflect and to analyze the events in this new journey. While I certainly want people reading the blog to enjoy it, and get excited about the things I share, or get hungry, I definitely consider it an obligation to myself first. To me, it’s the 21st century diary, although I’m more than happy to have my friends, family and even strangers along for the ride.

That being said, I’m currently barricading myself in my cousin’s lovely loft condo in the Mission District of San Francisco (while she is away on vacation) and using this time to catch up on the blog, my reading and some movies. I’ve been go-go-going for the last few weeks, and I am excited about this breather. (And to spend a few days as resident of the Mission.)

Where did I leave off? Thanksgiving! For the second time in three years, the bat (or bar) mitzvah of a young cousin fell over Thanksgiving weekend, and that meant a whole boatload of family would converge on Orange County for four days of fun and food. My mom’s first cousin Gene, and his wife Louise, hosted Thanksgiving for the crew of twenty two people. Louise is famous for not letting anyone into her kitchen – that means not cooking, not cleaning, nor washing dishes. No trespassing allowed. Fortunately, though, as I mentioned in the last post, she does allow others to bring food, and I was excited to share some desserts with everyone.

The Thanksgiving spread, with the bat mitzvah girl passing through the frame.

The Thanksgiving spread, with the bat mitzvah girl passing through the frame.

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Grilled Cheese Bonanza

I was fortunate to be able to spend nearly a week in Southern California over the Thanksgiving holiday. It was going to be a bounty of good times and good food, and I was very excited. The day I left San Francisco also coincided with the end of the Whole30 eating plan I’d been on, and it was a good thing! (I did actually set it up that way, so it wasn’t coincidental, but was nevertheless a good plan.)

The Whole30 had changed my approach to food and while it’s not realistically sustainable for me in my profession, the general tenets are ones I plan to adhere to as much as possible. In addition to cooking more for myself, nibbling less at work (mostly nuts and fruit, with the occasional bits of bacon from our quiche prep), and seeing a greatly reduced desire for sweets, I did lose just over nine pounds. I was very pleased with that. It gets me halfway back to my starting weight in San Francisco, so there’s more work to do. As you’re about to read, the harder work is clearly on hold right now, and likely waiting until after 2015 ends.

After I posted a shot of these gorgeous meringues from Jane on my Instagram, they were requested by both cousin Tiffani and sister Maggie. So a container of the peppermint variety made it into my super-packed luggage.

After I posted a shot of these gorgeous meringues from Jane on my Instagram, they were requested by both cousin Tiffani and sister Maggie. So a container of the peppermint variety made it into my super-packed luggage.

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