When it comes to winter weather, most Southern Californians tend to be smug as they scroll through their Facebook feeds full of friends complaining about cold, rain and snow, while the west coast is boasting warmth, sun and surf.
In fact, it’s happening right now. I spent the warmest Christmas I’ve ever had in NorCal, where afternoons were a sunny 65°F, and six hours south in my SoCal neighborhood, the mercury rose to 85°F — on Christmas Day, and all week until New Year’s Day. It was warm — too warm, as even our summers only average in the 70s.
My house sitter could barely keep up with the watering as the garden was dry, dry, dry. What’s typically a once-a-week watering schedule in winter turned into an almost-daily task. Our last rains came in early December, at the same time a cold spell lingered for two weeks and brought us below-normal temps. At the end of that period, we went from 55°F to 85°F and have been enjoying our second summer ever since.
On the flip side, I’m hearing from friends in New York shivering in 5°F highs — never have I heard of such a thing, and I used to live in New York. (And let’s not get into the polar vortex craziness going on in the midwest, where I can’t even fathom negative double-digit highs… i.e., RealFeel® Freezing my cojones off.)
Every year, at the beginning or end of the year, I look back on all the emails I’ve saved from readers and all the tweets I’ve favorited from followers, and feel flush with inspiration to take me through the next year of blogging. They come from all over and even Down Under, from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to Bosnia and Herzegovina. (If I close my eyes and point my finger at a map, chances are, there’s a Garden Betty fan out there. Stunned, I tell ya. Stunned.)
Every note and message sent my way is read and appreciated, and though I’m sometimes a slacker in the reply department, please know that your little act of kindness made my day that day.
Last year, I ended the first day of the new year with this stormy, dramatic sunset over the beaches of Baja.
This year, I ended the first day of the new year with this gorgeous, jewel-toned glow over a glassy Lake Tahoe…
… After I started the day doing this.
Not a bad way to spend January 1, my friends. Nature and sunshine is easily the best hangover remedy.
In American culture, the number 13 is considered unlucky.
But in Chinese culture, 13 is a very lucky number. When the numbers are spoken in Mandarin or Cantonese, they sound like the words for “growth” and “living” and signify a lifetime of prosperity. With all the awesome things that happened this year — the lucky 2013 — I’d have to say this is one superstition that sits well with me!
I honestly didn’t think 2013 could top 2012 (which I’d previously proclaimed to be the most amazing year, culminating in my Mexican beach wedding), but as I look back on the last 12 months, I’m shocked and excited to say… this is now the most amazing year! (I may have to find a new word soon, as I sometimes feel I overuse the word amazing… but I can’t help it, it really is the perfect word.)
The five little things that made my week…
1. We’ve been waiting four years for our mandarin tree to bear fruit, and finally this week… the first ripe mandarin! (With many more to come.)
Every time we harvest our bananas (an entire bunch at a time), it means we have to clear some space in the freezer for the bananas that inevitably turn brown and mushy because we can’t eat them fast enough. While unappealing at first, brown and mushy bananas are actually the perfect ripeness for things like banana bread and banana ice cream, which only taste better the browner the fruit becomes.
You know what else they’re perfect for? Two-ingredient banana pancakes. We usually use peak-of-ripeness bananas in pancakes because we like to fold firmer slices into our batter, but I’d been hearing about two-ingredient pancakes for a while and thought they’d be a good way to use up our stash of frozen overripe bananas (because we spy two or three more bunches in the backyard about to ripen soon!).
When I first heard about two-ingredient pancakes — which are made with only bananas and eggs — I wasn’t too excited about the idea and, well, I thought they’d taste like a banana omelet. They’re dairy-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and even paleo; one might even say they’re fun-free because honestly, dairy, gluten and grain are some of my favorite things in the food world and eating like a cavewoman is not.
Happy Friday, friends!
I swear that just last week, we were still in October. But here it is, almost the end of the year. November and December have flown by so fast with cooking and eating and entertaining that if I don’t slow down to take it all in, I feel like I’ll miss it. So here I am. Slowing down, and taking it all in, or at least the last couple weeks of it.
I’ll have a new post on Monday for delicious, quick and easy pancakes you can whip up on Christmas morning, and the usual Five Things Friday, and a year-end wrap-up to reflect on 2013… but for the most part, I’ll be taking these next two weeks off from the blog to enjoy family and friends.