my valentine.

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Friends, what a pleasure to have my ode to love posted over on the Marion House Book today!

This is my third post for Emma (see the first here, and the second here) and I’m honoured and inspired every time I have a chance to share that space – especially when the charming and highly talented Kristin Sjaarda is involved, which she was in this case.

While you are perusing Emma’s beautiful blog, I’ll be here, making these waffles for my house full of sweeties, drinking hot tea, and waiting for the appropriate moment to dive into a pile of luscious sugar cookies from our local bakery (now? What about now?).

And wishing you a day filled with love.

 


spoiled.

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I am so grateful that the sun is shining today.

We are back (yes!) from our sojourn in the south, and despite how wonderful it is to be home – and particularly, back in the arms of my love – I have found the return to the cold weather staggeringly difficult.

This is partly because, in my vanity, I have never quite been able to embrace the practical requirements of the Canadian winter. I have been enthusiastically watching the Olympics these past few days, hoping for inspiration both sartorial and otherwise (#wearewinter!) but ultimately I’d sooner stay under the covers or close to the stove, without socks or sleeves, alternating fistfuls of vitamin D with glasses of wine and counting the days until spring.

I would poke my head out for this coleslaw, though, because the very thought of it is enough to transport me back to my mother’s Mexican kitchen; and it works here, too, its crunch and bright flavours a fresh contrast to whatever warm, comforting thing you’ve likely got on your plate.

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Before I get to the recipe, I need to tell you a little more about my trip. If you were following my Instagram feed, at right (@yesthisisperfect: hooray, technology!) you will have an idea of how it went: my parents’ Mexican life is enviable and happy-making in all of the best ways, and they made us feel like we fit right in. They also live in a beautiful town which lends itself very nicely to artful, vintage-looking snapshots.

But the part you didn’t get to see, because it was usually too late and too dark (and with too much wine involved) was the cooking. Using a two-burner camp stove and a 30-year-old wall oven, my mom creates meals with a combination of economy and abandon, and the same celebration of, and devotion to, really good food that she has my whole life.

I was spoiled.

I was also reminded that the insistence on making each meal an occasion is something that I have drifted from over the past several years, and I’ve missed that. I’m going to work on getting it back.

Just as soon as I get out from under the covers.
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Mexican Coleslaw

1/2 head cabbage (to yield 8 cups shredded)
1 bunch cilantro, washed well and ends trimmed but stems left on
1 red bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed
a 2″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled
scant 1/4c mayonnaise
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1 tsp celery salt
salt and pepper as desired

My mom puts the cabbage, cilantro, bell pepper and ginger into her blender all at once. She then fills her blender jar with water to cover the vegetables, and pulses until everything is finely shredded but not ground to a pulp. She then drains it all in a colander to yield the fluffiest coleslaw I have ever seen.

What you should also know is that this method did not totally work for me; I blame my blender, which is high powered and did not play nicely with my cabbage. I used my mother’s method for the cilantro, bell pepper and ginger, and it came out beautifully, but I shredded my cabbage the old fashioned way – with my food processor.

However you get there, once the first four ingredients are nicely shredded, transfer them to a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, oil, sugar, and celery salt. Toss coleslaw with dressing (it will feel like there is not enough dressing, but I promise you there is!), taste, and add salt and pepper as you wish.

Serves 8-10.


all my bags are packed.

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Friends, it’s happening: I’ve bundled up my children, and we are winging our way to this perfect place this morning.

I won’t see you for three weeks!

But when I do, I hope you forgive my ear-to-ear smile and the tan that I will brandish shamelessly, like a trophy.

And in the meantime, I hope you will follow me: on instagram @yesthisisperfect (updates will also appear in the column on the right, if this new-fangled technology is to be trusted), on twitter@anniedishes.

I have a guest post coming up on the gorgeous Marion House Book, and I hope, too, that you will keep an eye out for that.

As my children would say:

Kisses! Love you! Kisses!

And hasta luego, friends. See you in February!


on the next day.

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I am a big fan of boxing day.

First of all, it’s my sister’s birthday, so it seems only natural to greet the 26th of December with nearly as much fanfare as the 25th.

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Also, there is something about the energy on the day after Christmas that I just adore: the house is slightly disheveled, with the detritus of yesterday’s gifting and feasting and drinking still lingering about, but it’s not so painfully messy that I feel I have to get up from the couch – and the new novel I just started – and actually deal with it.

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We seem as a family to be moving around in a haze of love this week, all goodwill toward one another (read: a remarkable, if no doubt short-lived, absence of sibling strife) and small moments of joy, and none of the high anxiety-slash-anticipation inherent in the big day.

There have been many videos watched. I’ve nearly gone blind putting together a pair of Lego superheroes. We’ve skated and sledded. The sun has come out.

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There is an abundance of food in the fridge and wine in the cupboard, amazing leftovers (if I do say so myself) and enough residual holiday spirit to make a batch of these cookies, which, it must be said, may actually be the best cookies I have ever made.

Chocolate Ginger Cookies
adapted from Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

1/2 c soft unsalted butter
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c dark molasses
1 1/2c all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
8 oz. (240g) dark chocolate, chopped
coarse granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Add flour to butter mixture and beat until just combined.

Stir in chopped chocolate.

Pour a cup or so of sugar onto a plate.

Scoop up a tablespoon of dough and use your hands to roll it into a ball. Dredge in coarse sugar before placing on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough – I got two pans os 15 cookies each when I made these.

Bake cookies one sheet at a time, in the centre of the oven, until surface is cracked and they are barely dry at the edges, about 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet.

Eat with abandon.

Makes 30 cookies.

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oh the weather outside is frightful.

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Friends, it’s happening! Winter is here.

While my intolerance for the cold is well-documented, neither it nor the icy, miserable conditions outdoors can dampen my enthusiasm for the holidays, which are, as they say, just around the corner.

Like the rest of you, I am occupied with a long list of happy-making tasks.

While I huddle indoors, shopping on-line and wrapping and baking and getting a hand cramp from the last-minute addressing of Christmas cards (which, yes, should have gone out long before now), I hope you will amble over to the Marion House Book.

I was lucky enough to write a guest post for Emma, luckier still to have Kristin Sjaarda come to photograph the quirky Christmas mantel I styled for our place, and I am thrilled to stake a small claim in the bounty of aesthetic goodness that happens over there.

Please have a look, and then I’ll meet you back here, sooner than soon, ok?

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keeping count.

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The morning after I turned forty, the power went out.

At first I worried about the significance of the lights going out on the first day of my new decade, but in fact it wasn’t so bad. It was a drizzly day, and we (we grown-ups, at least) were all feeling a little foggy from the previous night’s enthusiastic consumption; we lit candles and gathered vintage silk and Mongolian lamb and feather pillows and coverlets and curled up.

My sister was here for the briefest of wonderful visits, so we took advantage, drinking perfect coffee (courtesy of the restaurant around the corner) and looking out at the rain and reveling in the chance to be together, which doesn’t happen for us nearly as often as I’d like.

At a certain point my husband dashed out for provisions and we opened the last of the bubbly. My sister kept me company while I made dessert for the following day’s Thanksgiving feast. An easy, comforting dinner, a little more wine, an early bedtime – and, just like that, the weekend of my big birthday was over.

My sister flew home early the next morning.

And now I am forty – the age I had been approaching with a mix of curiosity and dread all these months, the age I was determined to be on the right side of, to be content with, to somehow conquer – and nothing has changed.

Things here carry on as they do, haphazard and beautiful.

This weekend, we are having a party.

I have more blessings than I know how to count.

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as it happens.

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Our summer ended abruptly and sadly just before Labour Day.

I won’t go into the details, but we were left reeling and panicked with worry over someone we love; and even now, roughly six weeks later, everyone having settled into a quasi-routine with this new normal, we are living with a degree of heartache which will, I feel, possibly diminish but never quite disappear.

As it happens, though, I woke up this morning and realized that we are just over a week into my very favourite month of the year – all of us (and all of you too, no doubt) having navigated September like so many hamsters on wheels, careening slightly from one moment to the next – and that there is some mindful celebrating to be done.

This is our month, friends, to give thanks and acknowledge joy and look forward with some gladness.

Just before we leap in to all of that goodness, I hope you’ll permit me this brief backward glance, a grateful goodbye to one of the dreamiest summers on our family’s record and a salute to the September that was – just as it was.

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The garden was out of hand – in the best possible way.

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New views were discovered, and new paths taken.

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The training wheels came off.

We ate dozens of salads and piles of cake and drank glasses and glasses of Pimms.

We shared amazing moments with family and friends.

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We made a pie.

My young son went to school for the first time.

The leaves began to turn.

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And this dress sits glimmering in my cupboard, biding its time until the next celebration…any minute now.

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