Christmas: a week in pictures

This is the first day in over a week that I’ve actually opened my laptop, and I must say it’s been a really lovely holiday break. Will and I spent Christmas with his family in Northern California, and I hope I’m not alone in saying a break from our holiday break is now in order!

We had a lively week filled with family activities — Christmas Eve with all the cousins, Christmas Day with our immediate family, a day-after dinner with my siblings-in-law, then a holiday block party at my mother-in-law’s house on Mount Tamalpais. That’s six full days of decorating, wrapping, unwrapping, prepping, cooking, eating, drinking, and more eating with dozens of friends and family I only get to see a couple times a year… and I am wiped. out. In the most heartwarming way!

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December 30 2015      14 comments     Linda Ly
Vida

Gluhwein: a spiced wine to warm the heart

I love a good party, and I especially love a good party punch. In summer, I typically stir up a sparkly bowl of sangria and in winter, I’m all about cozying up to a hot cocktail (like this festive cranberry-apple cider). Mulled wine often makes an appearance at my holiday parties and I never serve it the same way twice.

That’s the beauty of mulled wine — you can’t really go wrong as long as it’s sweetened, spiced, and heated. It’s a forgiving drink and open to experimentation, depending on what kind of spices you have in your kitchen. Sometimes I’ll make mulled wine like a hot sangria, with added chunks of apples or pears thrown in.

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December 21 2015      34 comments     Linda Ly
En La Cocina

The five little things that made my week…

Wood-burning stove

1. This is what the last week has looked like in my house: a roaring fire in the woodstove, with a tea kettle (staying warm for mugs of tea) and a simmer pot (brimming with rosemary and cinnamon) heating on top.

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December 18 2015      21 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión

Why are barns traditionally red?

(Western Pleasure Guest Ranch in Sandpoint, Idaho.)

Maybe it’s the city girl in me, but I’ve always had a thing for classic red barns.

I find them so romantic. I love my barns old, creaky, and weather-worn. Every time we pass them out in the countryside, I always imagine myself as a muck boot-wearing farm gal… pitching hay, chasing piglets, grooming llamas, milking goats. I think the only thing that keeps me from setting up shop is the fact that I’m not an early riser at all. I’d end up milking my goats at noon and midnight!

While barns can be painted any color at the whimsy of the owner, we most often associate red with traditional wooden barns. The icon of rural Americana is found all over the country, most especially in the Northeast and Midwest. But how did the red barn come to be, and why do so many farmers still choose the color red?

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December 15 2015      40 comments     Linda Ly
Diversión   Jardín   Viajes

Jade Canopy: a subscription box for gardeners

I love my UPS man… and not because it’s the season when packages start arriving at my door with more frequency.

Truth be told, I see packages at my door several times a week some months. I love hearing the thump of boxes on my doormat, the occasional shout of “UPS!” before the delivery driver hops back in his truck, and the subsequent ding! on my phone as a text comes in to tell me a package has been delivered. Even an Amazon Prime box filled with cleaning supplies feels like Christmas.

So when it comes to subscription boxes, I’ve really had to reign in my obsession with having things shipped to me. I love to discover new products and especially products with a handmade, small-batch, or artisanal feel to them — products I can’t find at my local shops.

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December 13 2015      19 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín

The scenic byways of Vermont

Say the words “scenic byway” and you’re likely to think of some of America’s most iconic roads: the historic Route 66 that crosses two-thirds of the country, or the dramatic Highway 1 that meanders down the central coast of California.

But in many states, there are smaller, lesser known byways that comprise the National Scenic Byways Program, a collection of American roads that have been preserved and recognized for their scenic, historical, archaeological, cultural, natural, or recreational resources (the six “intrinsic qualities” that the program is based on).

You haven’t heard of most of them — in fact, few have federal distinction even though they’re funded by the program. States can establish their own scenic byways, and in the Green Mountain State of Vermont (the sixth smallest and second least populous in the country), there are 10 such byways that travel through some of the most stunning views in New England.

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December 10 2015      25 comments     Linda Ly
Viajes

GrowJourney Seeds of the Month Club (and a giveaway!)

Happy holidays, friends. I love all these weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year. I wish we could roll them all into one humongous holiday filled with twinkly lights, cheery music, fresh pine scent, gluttonous dinner parties and cozy gatherings with loved ones.

I remember as a child, I feverishly looked forward to Christmas not because of its spiritual significance or even Santa himself (I was that cynic in school who told all my friends he wasn’t real — I know, I was so mean), but because I loved seeing all those gifts under the tree. It was the one time of year that my family actually picked out toys and clothes and cognac and wrapped them up in pretty paper, a delightful change from the red envelopes stuffed with money that was more common in our culture.

Ah, those gifts. Through the years, I’ve found that I love being the gift giver more than I like being the gift recipient. Being a kid, it was easy — everyone enjoyed a handmade card or craft that I’d painstakingly created in my bedroom. But as an adult, finding the right gift for the right person becomes trickier because it seems like all the people in your life already have everything they need. Food is usually my standby gift, often homemade. And gifts from the garden have had an increasingly frequent appearance over the years.

But I’m always looking for something special aside from the framed photos, pickles and jams, potted succulents, and homegrown harvests I often reach for come holiday (or birthday or other special occasion) time. When GrowJourney introduced me to their Seeds of the Month Club (all heirloom, all certified organic) and offered a sample membership to review, I thought it sounded like a sweet idea. A gift of seeds is like a gift of life, and suits anyone from the aspiring gardener to the longtime green thumb.

GrowJourney leek seeds

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December 7 2015      20 comments     Linda Ly
Jardín