goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


2 Comments

Shaking Out the Dust and the Breadcrumbs

Spring cleaning…….big sigh. For those of you who know me personally, you know I am not a clean freak. But……..
The sun came out last week. That’s what it felt like here in the Northwest where the winter rains broke all kinds of records. The snow pack is healthy in the mountains and California’s drought is relieved in some ways. It was a dreary four months and although the rains are not over yet, the sun is out more days now and everyone seems to be more upbeat.

So, there is more energy and the task to straighten, to clean, can no longer be postponed.

Why is there is tendency for cultures to have this spring cleaning ritual?  After being cooped up with shut windows for months, it is refreshing to let the breeze in and even though it is not warm, the air in the house brightens. Historically, we heated our homes with coal, wood and kerosene which produce an amazing amount of soot and yes, the house would be impossible to keep clean in the winter. With the sunlight we can see those dust bunnies better….so time to get to work.

This habit has long been part of civilization. It may amuse many people who are phobic about Muslims that the Persian New Year is the first day of spring and Iranians continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni” which literally means “shaking the house” just before the Persian new year. We’re talking thousands of years of culture here, people.

And not only that, but in the Jewish religion we have an intense time this week cleaning. Monday evening starts the holiday of Pesach-Passover. All bread crumbs must be cleaned out of the house, and so, every corner, every nook and cranny, is wiped and washed and altogether freshened up.

Chinese culture has long had a practice of pre-New Year’s cleaning. So interesting that three ancient cultures have recognized this practice is needed to healthy living.

Perhaps some people may not like this tidbit of history-that something they do is a Jewish or Muslim or Chinese custom. However, the rest of us will enjoy knowing we are indeed a multi-cultural community here and we can enjoy all aspects of sharing. Now, if only I can find someone who just LOVES to share the joys of vacuuming.

 


2 Comments

Let’s Do It Better

Each year, the second Halloween is over, we get bombarded for 6 weeks with the need to be big consumers. The commercials on tv explode, teasing us into believing we just NEED that thing we never thought about five minutes before. The printed ads in the local newspaper or mailed to us via bulk rate paper our house  with colorful pleas to spend spend spend.christmas-shopping-chaos-560x360

If you believe them, Christmas is just not complete without the latest gadgets including technology for toddlers, more boots and clothes for the ladies, more tools for the guys, more makeup and perfume, more ties, more more more.

This year, do it different…..and do it better.

First of all, know your budget and stick to it.

Secondly, make a list of the people you want to purchase for.  Think about their interests, their hobbies, the things that make them happy. Start listening to them NOW if you haven’t been paying attention all year.  And be wise….the latest in fashion accessory for your fashionista may be out of style in a few weeks. Aim for classic to provide long term value.Stress-Free-Christmas-Gift-Master-List

Third, aim for the best quality you can afford. Better to buy ONE gift and one small stocking stuffer than a large volume of junk.  Let’s start teaching about the value of gift-giving as the living symbol of the three wise men.

Finally, buy local. Yes, I know,  it is less expensive to hit the major big box stores. But this year, let’s think about the effect of where we spend our dollars.  Big box stores are national chains with corporate headquarters unlikely to be in your town. So the only employment benefits are probably low paying, possibly minimum wage and maybe also part-time to avoid paying benefits to full time employees.  Many big box stores have corporate deliveries of items from a regional warehouse that does not typically make purchases in your town, so basically for each dollar you spend in that store, only 5-15 cents stays in the local economy.local this holiday

Meanwhile, down on Main Street and in small neighborhood shops you have stores owned by your neighbors. They’ve been there maybe for decades, but probably not.  Our shopping choices killed many downtown stores as we shoppers opted to head to the mall instead.  Many shops are small with eager entrepreneurs who lost their jobs in the recession and are trying to find a way to make a living. The dollar spent there basically gets spent almost in full in your community. shop craft fairIn addition, there are numerous holiday markets and bazaars at this time of year. If you are lucky, you have one in your area that features artist, artisans and craftspeople who produce all the items they sell by hand. Their skill, their talent provides you an unique gift of high value, one of a kind, for that special person on your gift list.  The prices at these markets range from $1 to over $500. I know, I run a holiday market and I see eager craftspeople work hard all year to produce their love in a tangible way. My job is to tease the shoppers to at least come take a look. 

simple gift

Unique might scare you. If you want to be just like everyone else, unique is not for you. But if you are your own person, walk your own walkway, want to stand out from the crowd, this is the place for you.excellence of a gift

 

 


4 Comments

A Bit/e of Heritage

So, for those of you not quite up on the smaller books of the Tanakh (Old Testament to many of you), there is one that comes into play this time of year. The Book of Esther tells the story of how the Jews, once again, were doomed to be exterminated, this time by a King’s advisor in ancient Persia. Esther, is the hero, saving her people. We celebrate by reciting the Megillah, the WHOLE MEGILLA (for you language buffs who like to know the derivation of slang) and drowning out the villain’s name, Haman, each time it is mentioned with noisemakers called gragers.  In Israel this day is also one for dress-up in costumes. It is a wonderful light-hearted festival, following a solemn day of fasting.purim

The food related to this festival (there ALWAYS is a food) is the hamantaschen, a triangular filled cookie in the shape of Haman’s hat. (Think those tri-cornered hats always shown with pictures of Revolutionary War clothing, and you’ll be close.)

So, while I was preparing and baking the hamantaschen I got to thinking. (Uh oh, there I go again.) Here are some of my random thoughts:

  • Just like Christianity incorporated social customs in the scheduling of some holidays (i.e, Christmas for the winter solstice) some people took this Jewish holiday of celebrating how one woman was so very important to developing a International Women’s Day just about the same date. Check it out.
  • There are differences in the cookie dough depending on your family’s region of origin. My mom’s recipe is a light cookie dough. I’ve eaten others that are thick and chewy, almost a sweet bread.
  • One of the fillings I enjoy is poppyseed. I use a can of the prepared Solo fillings but would like to make it from scratch….as soon as I find a local poppy grower…uh huh. IMG_4485
  • A second filling is made typically with stewed prunes and raisins, sweetened with honey and chopped nuts added. This year I used a spicy (flavorful, not hot) plum preserves I made from fruit I gleaned last summer at the historic Hoover Minthorn House in nearby Newberg. As a child President Hoover often stayed with his uncle there and wrote about eating so many plums that he suffered….hmmmm….a level of distress. Anyway, my plum preserves just got an addition of local hazelnuts and it was ready. Just don’t eat too many and you’ll be fine!

    Hoover Plum Preserves with hazelnuts

    Hoover Plum Preserves with hazelnuts

  • Graham’s favorite is made from apricots, sweetened a bit with honey. A nod to the Mediterranean origin of the holiday, it adds a bright color.IMG_4488
  • I remember Sam does not like one of these fillings so much, but since I can’t remember which, I will mail him a box with all…he can share with his friends

and finally: food brings us together, crosses lines of current knowledge between peoples. Keep your mind…and your tastebuds…open to new experiences.IMG_4490

 


3 Comments

Out of This World

When we mention to people here that we moved in September from West Virginia the typical next question is why? Why did we move clear across the country to McMinnville, Oregon. Graham usually makes some kind of comment that he heard there was a winery nearby. (We now live in the middle of one of the amazing wine producing areas with over 100 wineries within 15 miles of our house.)

Domaine DruhinI did a lot of research before we decided on McMinnville.  One thing that really excited me was the availability of a lot of local food. In the seven months we have been here we have established direct relationships with farms for our proteins and produce. There is a farmers market ready to open for the season this week,  a year round farmers market and also a service that delivers farm fresh food to your door.  market Sept 26 2013

Additionally, the downtown business district is vibrant. It wasn’t always that way, though.  However, since the McMinnville Downtown Association formed in the late 1980s the street’s appearance has improved with trees, lighting and sitting areas, the stores are all occupied and there is a lot of business. DSC_0007

The Downtown Association sponsors a number of events that entice tourists. DSC_0030This weekend was the UFO Festival, held annually to commemorate the sighting of a flying saucer by a local farmer in 1950. It is an affair with lectures ranging from ufology to  astrophysics, but much of the attendance revolves around the parade.

May 17 2014 UFO Days

My three, of which I am very proud. LOL

Yesterday, after Lisa made sure we were all dressed in some kind of costume, we headed downtown for the 1 mile Abduction Race.

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

This was the last obstacle before the finish line

Sam expected to win and was in a good position but a middle schooler  was in front the whole way and he decided to let him come in first. He remembers well how that feels and knew his need to win was not as important.  Lisa was well behind in the pack but finished despite an asthma attack.  Her costume had people talking as they thought at first she was naked. She had had her gold unitard painted when we first got there.DSC_0012

But her costume was mild compared to most.  We had been told EVERYONE wears a costume but it became obvious that actually most people wore regular clothes. DSC_0097DSC_0120DSC_0139There seemed to be three levels of costume wearers: people who purchased something at the event to add a touch of alien whimsy;

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~people like us who put together something fun, even if it was not alien-related;DSC_0102

DSC_0107and peopdsc_077le who spent a lot of time and/or DSC_0202money on alien attire.DSC_0154

The parade lasted over an hour with bandsDSC_0251 and floatsDSC_0287 and lots of  groups. Anyone in alien costume could join in. What fun!!

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

This girl was part of a TaeKwondo group

Pet parade was held later in the day.

Pet parade was held later in the day.